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(No particular order)
(In no particular order below the Top 3)
Interesting but flawed
There were several things I really liked about this film - the performance from Gosling was well-balanced, the plot was OK, the supporting cast performed well in the non-violent scenes, the soundtrack was well-suited, and I liked the overall 'feel' of it: a film about a very troubled person that wants to do good. The Driver reminded me a little of James Cole in 12 Monkeys, as well as obviously Travis Bickle and other anti-heroes.
But there were two flaws that kept it from getting 8+ out of 10.
Firstly, the film was way too gory. The scenes of murder could have been executed without closeups of knives entering flesh, and to me this decision really jarred with the rest of the whole. I not only winced every time this happened, but felt the overall integrity of the cinematic vision crumble. This lost a whole 1.5 marks on its own.
The other flaw was that although the plot had interesting dynamics, the script was not really clear enough to show this. I had to read the Wiki article in order to work out exactly what was going on, on two occasions. The criminal's motives were not always clear, and I don't think this was deliberate.
I still enjoyed the film but soooo wish the director had cut the gore and brushed up the script in one or two scenes.
Could have been an 8.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
In a picture encyclopaedia, a still from this movie appears next to the word 'cliche'
Troy Duffy takes all of the tired action movie clichés of the last few decades, together with some obvious motifs borrowed (read: ripped off) from Leon and some of the Tarantino movies, and constructs quite simply the most extraneous 'addition' to the genre of gangster movies ever conceived.
If you've heard good things about this movie, the people who told you had NO taste. A far, far better option would be to watch the documentary 'Overnight' about Troy Duffy, the writer and director of this movie - one of the most obnoxious and delusional slackers ever (I've never seen someone's opinion of their own talent so vastly inflated!).
Unless you are Irish, unimaginative, unoriginal, and want a senseless and nonsensical low-budget action movie - in other words, unless you ARE Troy Duffy - you'd be wise to skip this completely.
Like 'Hanna', this is formulaically disappointing
Like Hanna before it, this movie starts well, and has just about enough action to carry it through to the end. What both films lack, however, is a conceptually-meaningful story to keep the validity of the idea alive.
It seems a formula has now been developed for a certain breed of films - that have (comparatively) intricate plots, hi-octane action, and the star-studded cast and big budget to realise the project.
But it seems pointless to me to make a movie that is ultimately so ludicrous that it would be surprising if anyone wants to watch it a second time.
I love spy films, and I love action movies, and I REALLY love plot twists. Salt has all of these elements, and Angelina Jolie, to her credit, performs well within the role. But the plot, when fully revealed, is neither believable or really very inventive, and the final plot twists render the whole previous story rather ridiculous.
Both Hanna and Salt deal with children who have been conditioned to grow into superspies, and yet I have to admit that however disappointed I was at the end of Hanna, that film does work hard to make the story more believable, grounding some of the set pieces within what look like real situations and places. Salt, on the other hand, jumps the shark and seems to take pride in how it can push the boundaries of incredulity with every successive twist.
Hanna left me disappointed because the weight of the content at the beginning was quite high (the situation of the trained assassin escaping capture and going on the run, and having to cope with all of the psychological trauma it unleashes), but runs dry by the end - Cate Blanchett's killing signifying the death of the believability of the story and the emotional investment I had in the fate of Hanna.
Salt disappointed me on a whole new level because it began looking like a David Mamet film and yet ended more resemblant of Equilibrium or V for Vendetta, yet both those film's conceptual integrities remained sturdy throughout, whereas Salt's is sacrificed in favour of outlandish action.
If in the future there are more films made in this specific genre (spy action chase, you might call it), I hope they are a lot more intellectually fulfilling and daring (think Ronin) and less formulaic.
The Negotiator (1998)
An enormous waste of considerable talent
When this movie was brought to my attention a few days ago, I wondered how it could have passed me by, given that I am a voracious film-buff, and given the all-star cast.
The review that alerted me was on a list of the best Kevin Spacey movies, and made mention of excellent performances by Spacey and L. Jackson.
However, having sat through it, I can see why it passed me by, why none of my other movie-buff friends had ever mentioned it. I've never rated L. Jackson, so did not have high expectations of his role, but it was the most unbelievable OTT performance I think I've ever seen - sillier than Al Pacino at the end of The Recruit. Sillier than Phone Booth and every episode of 24 rolled into one unit. Hell, it's even sillier than the Ezekiel 25:17 nonsense that came from the pen of Quentin Tarantino.
As for Spacey, it's easily the worst thing I've ever seen him do.
All I'm left with is a stronger conviction not to listen to my whims when provoked by some random list on the internet.
If you have taste in movies, avoid this one.
Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da (2010)
If you liked 'Tale of Two Sisters', give this a miss
I came across this film after watching 'Tale of Two Sisters' and enjoying it very much.
However, this film was a total disappointment for me. The events were too far-fetched (even for Korean horror), the acting lent no credence to the ridiculous plot (it's uncertain whether this would even have been possible), and all the ingredients that made "Tale of Two Sisters' enjoyable - suspense, mystery, magic realism - were totally absent from this movie.
So if you're planning to watch this because you liked 'Tale of Two Sisters', I'd advise you give this a miss.
I laughed. I cried. I (almost) hurled.
This movie challenged and moved me in so many ways that I know it will take several viewings to fully appreciate it.
Many other reviewers have commented on the acting, and as with Festen and Breaking the Waves, the performances are excellent. I would genuinely like to know how people are able to do this.
But best of all for me are the themes explored by the movie. I found 'Dancer in the Dark' too dark for my tastes, and 'Antichrist' really turned me off completely. I then watched 'Five Obstructions' and found it amazing (though its a collaboration, of course). With 'The Idiots' I think LVT hits the balance very well. There is enough here to make me laugh, wince, gasp (in disbelief), frown, and develop several lumps in my throat. You can't ask for more than that in a movie.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Beautiful but incoherent, sleep-inducing and pointless
I normally like anything centering around pure cinematography - nature documentaries, Baraka, Koyaanisqatai etc... but this is really quite awful.
First of all, it's not always clear what the visual being displayed is. You ask yourself - "are those dividing cells or bubbles from an underwater volcano?" Secondly, if you put dinosaurs in a film you cannot expect to have it taken seriously. This may change in the future if reconstructive nature programs become commonplace, but until then people think of JP, of 60s adventure movies with plastic closeups, and maybe even of Godzilla and Cloverfield .
Lastly, to try and frame an actual human drama - told mostly by means of whispers (the same whispers that added so much to The Thin Red Line but which here are infuriating) within this vortex of visuals, is a terrible misjudgement on the part of the filmmakers.
In smaller doses (a few minutes at a time) some of these visuals in this movie would be truly breathtaking and informative.
Packaged as it is however, I expect to learn that this film broke records of people falling asleep in the cinemas.