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101 reviews in total 
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What it means to be really free, 26 April 2015

The protagonist of this film is called Slobodan, which means free. I think that represents the main theme of this film-what does it mean and take to become really free? He is a promising medical student who seemingly lives a perfect life: he's a good son, a good boyfriend who has a good girlfriend and a good future. Then one day, it all changes when he gives a lift to a Swiss adventure-seeker named Clavis. He has sex with her and she calls him "the promising boy", which is the title of the film. Of course, it turns his world upside down and after receiving a bad blow to his head from his angry girlfriend (with an oar, of all things), he loses his mind-or you might say finds it.

He goes on a search for his real self, which leads him to cutting his hair and going to bed with several women, including his girlfriend's mother. He clashes violently with his authoritative father who doesn't accept his radical behavior and is then left to manage by himself. He meets a group of musicians through a girl he bedded, Pit and VD. They are played by two real-life famous musicians, who were then members of one of the best new wave bands from Serbia and Yugoslavia.

Anyway, this movie represents the individual's breakaway from the society's constraints, symbolized in Slobodan's free and uninhibited sex life and his musician lifestyle and new haircut as well. He even writes a song with homosexual undertones, despite not being a homosexual. He is out to shock and rebel against everything that is considered normal and acceptable. Ergo, he is free from every sort of norm. This is what this film explores, does it really make you free to break every rule of the society or does it just make you feel like an outcast. In the end Slobodan returns to his previous life, after a motorbike accident where he again receives a blow to the head. His lost weekend is now over and he returns to his girlfriend and his parents. The freedom experiment has now ended. Or so he thinks...

The cast is really top notch here, with Aleksandar Bercek delivering perhaps his strongest role ever. Rade Markovic is also excellent as his father and Branislav Lecic also appears in one of his first movie roles as his karate instructor friend. Slobodan Aligrudic, Dusica Zegarac and Bata Zivojinovic also appear. The soundtrack is excellent and features songs from all the best new wave bands of that time, which is another treat this movie has to offer. I think it's a forgotten classic of the Yugoslav cinema and I give it a 10.

Monsignor (1982)
Could have been great, 12 February 2015

As Christopher Reeve said himself, this movie could have been really good but the bad editing ruined it. And I wholeheartedly agree. It was a pretty bold movie, even for the bold 80's: a tale of a Vatican priest who deals with the mafia, seduces a nun and takes up arms in the war, bloodying his hands. This was clearly still a taboo, any kind of negative portrayal of the Catholic church and the Vatican. But somewhere during its 2 hours this movie lost its boldness and became just another failed experiment with an interesting idea.

In the year 1982, Reeve was clearly looking to establish himself as a serious actor and it couldn't have been easy for a guy who so convincingly looks like a superhero and who came to prominence as THE superhero. He was in Deathtrap that same year and did well in that part. One might say that this role has something in common with that one, because he plays an opportunist who is morally unclean. This movie has a really top notch cast, with Jason Miller, Fernando Rey and Genevieve Bujold as the brightest part of it. Miller, though somewhat miscast in the role of the Sicilian mafioso, brings the dark intensity similar to the one in his role as Father Karass. Only difference is, here he has a mustache. Joe Cortese is also good in the part of Reeve's old friend who becomes his business partner and the link with Miller. Fernando Rey plays the part of cardinal Santoni, who represents the political side of Vatican, the ambitious and power-hungry priest who is willing to close an eye to illegal stuff in order to achieve his own goals.

Anyway, this movie is interesting to follow but sometimes it can't decide whether it wants to be a drama about corruption and moral or a love movie. Some scenes are well shot and gripping, like the scene where the nun played by Bujold discovers Reeve's true identity and occupation. It is the dramatic highpoint of the film. But the love story lasts too short to really give the movie the edge it needs, another angle. Christopher Reeve is one of the film's bright points because he really does make his character believable. He's a priest who tried to be both a priest and a man. I guess you can say that this is the ultimate theme of the film, how hard it is to be a priest and give up the good things in life in order to serve God.

I think it's a great shame that this film has been largely forgotten and scorned by the critics and by the audiences. For despite it's editorial flaws and despite the screenplay not holding up till the very end, it still can be an interesting watch and a spiritual lesson.

A fine early effort from Minghella, 1 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was surprised after seeing this film and later finding out it was directed by none other than one of the best 90s and 00s directors, Anthony Minghella, now sadly long gone. Why surprised? Perhaps because it's an American film and a melodrama, but not of the spectacular kind like The English Patient or Cold Mountain. But one thing they all have in common, which also shines through in this one: Minghella's ability to express the emotions of its protagonists like few other directors. That is really his great legacy and contribution that he leaves behind to the film.

The movie stars one of my favorite 80s actors, Matt Dillon as the Average Joe, Gus the electrician. He lives with the beautiful Mary Louise Parker, who plays Rita, an emergency room nurse. They are very much in love but one thing hinders their happiness together and Gus' financial situation: his ex-wife Leonora, played by Annabella Sciorra. Gus dreams of buying a bowling alley for himself and his pals, but due to the alimony payments he must provide to Leonora, the bank turns his request for a loan down. Therefore he tries to get her married by finding her a husband. This whole process triggers something that has been lying deep inside both Gus and Leonora-their love for each other.

This might seem like a schmaltzy, sappy love movie to some, but it is a carefully crafted melodrama. It explores the idea that love is sometimes too easily abandoned or given up on when other things come in the way, like money and career. At the same time, it shows how hard it is to make a choice between two women that you both love and care for. Gus may love Leonora more, but it doesn't mean he feels nothing for Rita. That part of the film is very sad but at least Gus does realize he was wrong to let Leonora go in the end and does something with it. As the other user pointed out, it doesn't seem very believable that he'd give up on such a seemingly perfect match as Rita for the more complex one such as Leonora, but hey, to each his own.

The supporting cast is really top notch, with William Hurt playing Leonora's college professor whom she dates. Gus' strong reaction when finding this out is the first hint of what's to come. Also seen here is Vincent D'Onofrio as the main candidate for Leonora's husband that almost makes the cut. Dan Hedaya, Luis Guzman and James Gandolfini are also in the supporting cast but don't make that much impact on the storyline. Dillon is great as always and makes his character very believable. He's a dreamer who has been sleeping too long. Parker also shines in her part as his ultimately unhappy love project and Sciorra is as always a delight to watch. This can be seen as a final step towards perfection for Minghella, like a graduation test. While it's not one of his best works, it certainly has a vital place in his repertoire.

Malice (1993)
Suspenseful and thought disturbing, 18 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was one of the first I saw on big screen as a teenager. It was a pretty strong experience. Nicole Kidman plays a woman with angelic appearance but the heart and the nature of a demon. It is a film about sin and manipulation. Bill Pullman is once again playing the typical good guy and with his looks he just can't get avoid getting type-casted as such. Alec Baldwin is his counterpart, the maverick surgeon who has a god complex and is secretly sleeping with his friend Pullman's wife.

The movie opens as a rather straightforward drama about a married couple, Andy (Pullman) and Tracy (Kidman), who are happy together but childless. Both are well liked and respected in their community but nobody knows what lies beneath. Andy bumps into his high school friend, the surgeon Jed (Baldwin), who is short on money. Andy offers him to live in his house and rent the room at the third floor. One night, Tracy experiences strong pains in her abdomen and is taken to the hospital where an intoxicated Jed performs an emergency surgery on her. The worried Andy is told by his friend Jed that he found a fetus inside his wife, but that it was aborted due to a cyst that lay on her ovary. Andy is initially glad to hear of his wife being pregnant but then decides to consent to the removal of her other ovary as well. However, his wife is angry over him consenting to such a thing since it means she can never have children and leaves him. Tracy also sues Jed after finding out he had been drinking prior to the surgery. But soon thereafter, Andy learns that he is sterile and therefore could not have impregnated his wife. He starts searching for the true father of the unborn child and soon a disturbing truth is revealed, along with a lot more that lies under it all.

The story is well crafted and very suspenseful. The revelation of the child's father's identity and the motives behind Kidman's lawsuit and the divorce from her husband are truly surprising and pretty disturbing as well. All three main actors do a fine job and even though I have a feeling Pullman didn't get enough publicity for his role here (he is missing from the poster), his role is the most satisfactory as well as challenging. The wronged husband seeking revenge is a typical motif in such Gothic film-noirs but seldom has there been made a film with such a strong and suspenseful story. I give it a 7 and a half.

Trippy classic, 31 October 2013

This 2000 Curtis Hanson film was the second best he made after L.A. Confidential and together with Bedroom Window. It is a story of two people of completely different background, a middle aged writing professor and his student and protégé. The professor, played by Michael Douglas in one of his strongest roles, is going thru a crisis and drinks a lot, after his younger wife has left him. He is also having problems finishing his second book. The young and bright but troubled protégé is played by Tobey Maguire. Then there is also Douglas' eccentric and flamboyant editor and friend played by the excellent Robert Downey Jr. A guy who is a swinger and according to Douglas "is gay, or thinks he is". Katie Holmes also appears as another of Douglas' students who is smitten with him but he rejects her advances.

There are also a few really amusing side characters, such as the man Douglas and Downey Jr. dub VERNON HARDAPPLE, who gives the movie a comical edge. The whole movie is somewhat of a dark comedy really, with scenes like the one where Maguire kills a dog who attacked Douglas and Douglas has to keep his body in the trunk of his car for a week or at the end where the manuscript for his latest book flies away. When he's asked by Downey Jr if he has a copy, he replies "I have an alternative ending of the second chapter".

This is what is so enjoyable with this movie: not only is it a character study drama but also a humorous oddball comedy with some exciting plot twists. In the end the roles are almost switched as Douglas the mentor starts to learn from Maguire the protégé and discovers that he has talent. This also helps him revitalize his own talent and get his life back on track. Frances McDormand also appears as Douglas' love interest who is also the chancellor of the university where he works and is pregnant with his child. Really enjoyable and trippy film, a semi-classic. Hanson once again hit bullseye with this.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Violence breeds violence, 25 October 2013

This movie offers good insight into the culture of violence that is prevalent in cities like Los Angeles, especially its eastern part. Samuel Jackson plays a teacher who survived a brutal stabbing in a NY school and moves to L.A. in order to start again in a new place, trying to get away from the traumatic memories connected to his old working place. But it turns out to be just the beginning of a new nightmare for him: he gets the worst class imaginable, where some of the students are real thugs and hoodlums. The worst of them are Benny Chacon (played by an unknown actor) and Cesar Sanchez, played by Clifton Collins Jr in one of his first major roles. After Chacon kills a graffiti artist for spoiling one of his "masterpieces", he goes on the run and is later found dead. Garfield (Jackson) is left to deal with Sanchez, who proves to be enough for him to handle.

This shows how violence, psychological violence itself, can make a non-violent individual get more violent and retort to violence in order to solve a problem. Jackson's Trevor Garfield is a traumatised veteran who gets pushed too far by the school bullies and starts bullying back, in his own way. At the same time, this film also lays the blame on the school itself, its principal's tolerance for the bullies' antics and lack of understanding or sympathy for Garfield's plight clearly underscores that. The gangbangers get their way more often than not and Garfield has to fight a lone battle, one which also changes his personality.

It is a pretty strong film which has a sort of sleepy film-noir quality, reminiscent of some older films. Samuel Jackson makes a very good performance, same as Collins Jr and the beautiful Kelly Rowan and John Heard make good supporting performances. Rowan's character seems to be the only one which is "clean" in all this mess. Her role is that of a moral guardian who questions Jackson's actions when he retaliates against the bullies. Other characters are all pretty much despicable, except for Rita, who is just a victim of her own environment. This is the gangland, where only law is the law of the strongest and the most intimidating. It shows how hard it is to fight against this law.

The War (1994)
Emotional roller-coaster of a film, 11 October 2013

This film really affected me emotionally since the first time I saw it. I began to wonder how come it didn't make more noise than it did in the box office. Movies like this are certainly not every day commodity in Hollywood. It is perhaps Kevin Costner's best role and the most serious one as well and came at the end of his golden era, which in itself is rather poignant when you think about it. It also stars now-internationally famous Elijah Wood and the less famous but equally capable Lexi Randall as his children. The movie is set sometime in the late 60's/early 70's in the South of course.

The War that the title refers to is not just the Vietnam War which Costner's character has just returned from but also, in his case, the war to win back your respectability and status. And that's really what this film is about-everyone's fighting for status and respectability. Wood's character faces a struggle in form of the nasty Lipnicki boys who bully and harass everyone who approaches "their" territory around the reservoir with the water tower. He fights to keep his right to go there against overwhelming odds. His sister Lidia befriends two black girls and is therefore seen as a pariah among other white girls in the school and has to fight for status and respect, while her black friend Elvadine does the same but against even worse odds. Costner is struggling to find a job after not being able to get back to his old one and this struggle makes him very frustrated. But he never retorts to violence, except when the equally nasty father of the Lipnicki boys physically threatens his son. Yet he takes pity at his motherless children and treats them kindly even after they hurl verbal abuse at him.

It is a really emotional, at times heartbreaking movie, especially since the ending is rather tragic. Lidia provides the narration which enhances the dramatic effect of the film. Costner's touching speech to his son against violence and fighting is also one of the film's highlights and underlines the pacifist message of the film. It's a shame this film wasn't seen by more souls, otherwise maybe the world would be at a better state than it is. This movie should be shown every month on TV if it was up to me. It is about finding out that fighting never solves anything, unless it is fighting against injustice and with words, not fists or guns.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Sins of the father, 24 May 2013

This is one of the most memorable films of the 80's that I have seen and I always look back at it with affection. I have first seen it back in late 80's, when it first was shown on TV in my country and today when I see it again it still feels the same. This movie is pretty flawless and still remains the best work of James Foley, a very underrated director. It stars 2 of my favorite actors, Christopher Walken and Sean Penn and both make very strong performances. This was Penn's first really strong and serious leading role since Bad Boys.

It is a dark movie and knowing that its based on a true story only adds to its gloom. Brad Jr has never known his father Brad Sr and lives a poor and unsatisfying life with his brother Tommy. It shows the absence of a father in their lives. Even though the boys have been raised well by their mother and grandmother, the absence of their father has left a rough edge in them. So when that father finally appears in their lives again, Brad Jr takes the opportunity to get out of his dead end existence and tries to build a relationship with his estranged father, hoping that it will lead him to a better life. He ignores the bad reputation Brad Sr enjoys in the county, but soon his father's sins become too much for him to handle and he realizes this love is unhealthy for him.

This movie has a really strong and engaging story working for it, as well as the strong acting. Also Chris Penn excels in his role as the bastard son Tommy and Mary Elizabeth Masterson, David Strathairn and R.D. Call make fine supporting roles, as well as Eileen Ryan. This is about not having anywhere to go, trapped between a honest but poor life without a father figure and a rich life with a father figure but a life of crime, murder and deceit. Brad tries to find that middle road desperately and after finding love it looks like he may succeed. But tragedy comes in his way, as it really did happen and does happen in real life. Sean Penn has since made many unforgettable performances but this is where he truly matured as actor. I think those who think this is a tragic love story ought to think again-it is a story about a father and son first and foremost and things that came between them finding each other.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Flawed but satisfying, 31 December 2012

This is a sort of Keanu Reeves' comeback flick. After The Matrix trilogy ended, he was in a number of unsatisfactory, mediocre works, such as "Constantine", "The Lake House" and "Thumbsucker". This role is rather strange to him, playing a down-on-his-luck detective, a loose cannon who lives from day to day. And considering that, he does a good job. Only problem is that, aside from Forrest Whitaker, there aren't any other equally capable actors here and some are quite annoying as well. Chris Evans, of The Fantastic Four fame, tries hard but fails as the serious and dedicated sidekick det. Diskant. Of other notable appearances there is the rapper The Game, who is at least authentic in his part.

I was rather surprised by this film. I must say I didn't expect much from it, but it turned out to be a rather satisfactory film-noir thriller. Reeves might not look his part but he acts it. It is also flawed because of the way everyone is either good or bad, nobody is in between. Reeves' character at first seems to be in between but later turns out to be a typical hero. What else can I say? A little, pleasant surprise and a movie that probably salvaged Keanu's career, at least for the time being, after a string of misfired efforts.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Document of evil times, 22 June 2012

This 1981 Lordan Zafranovic directed film is the second part of the world war 2 trilogy started with the excellent "Okupacija u 26 slika" (1978) and the story picks up where the former left. Niko, played by Frano Lasic, the protagonist from the first film, also appears here in the first 20 minutes and thus provides the connection between the two films. The excellent Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski, known as the star of many Andrzej Wajda films, plays his friend and partisan comrade Davorin. The story is set on a small island in Dalmatia, the place where Niko has sought refuge with his now half-demented mother.

Niko has problems with leaving his old happy-go-lucky way of life behind and must pay for it with his life when his girlfriend turns out to be Italian collaborator and they are both condemned to death by the communist party. It is never really clarified however if she really was a collaborator or just using the enamored Italian soldiers to get food for partisans. Here the movie first shows that its far from a propaganda movie as the harsh nature of the communist party condemns her to death and Niko with her for refusing to leave her. Davorin executes them with heavy heart and then falls into the same trap as Niko when he falls for the daughter of the town's and island's richest man, played by beautiful Ena Begovic, then just 20 and in her first film role.

The film shows how the occupants and tormentors of the local people change from Italians to Germans and Croatian Ustashas (fascists) and then finally to Chetniks including a bloodthirsty and grotesque trio of two Circassians and one Hungarian who meet them on their way at the island. This film is important because it explored all the evils of that war, firstly those of the occupants and fascists but also in a way the hidden evil that could sometimes occur amongst partisans themselves. In the end, Davorin's younger brother Lovre is sent as a commissar to pass judgment on Davorin and he condemns his brother to death on behalf of the party for setting a group of chetniks he had captured free. Davorin's goodness prevails here as the chetniks look pitiful and war-weary but soon thereafter reveal their true nature. Once again, with heavy heart, just like Davorin when he executed Niko in the beginning, Lovre must do his duty. Its a tragic film to say the least.

Besides the aforementioned actors, Miodrag Krivokapic appears as Davorin's ill-fated brother and fellow partisan Andrija, Mirjana Karanovic plays Andrija's wife and Bata Zivojinovic plays the father of Ena Begovic, the island's rich man. This is not the best part of the trilogy, but still a pivotal work.

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