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The movie I watch again, again, again
Iron Monkey (Siunin Wong Fei-Hung tsi titmalau), released in North America on the coat-tails of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was actually made in Hong Kong in 1993. Plenty of special effects augment the fight choreography, which brings to mind Matrix and Crouching Tiger, but this film, in its simplicity, is more enjoyable to me than either of these.
I didn't realize how much I liked this movie until it came on digital cable and I watched it every chance I could get. This movie is eye candy. It's not bothersome or preachy or heavy. It's just fun to watch. And the utter absence of Hollywood is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.
Out there in space to explore Inner Space
Thought Provoking movie directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and produced by James Cameron. Kelvin (George Clooney) is a psychiatrist mourning his wife's death, asked by a friend in deep space to come and rescue him, crew from strange psychological affliction. Deeply troubled crew include Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan), and Viola Davis (Antwone Fisher).
Kelvin's relationship with deceased wife Rheya is exposed through flashbacks as he quickly begins to confront his own image of her and his feelings about their time together. Soon, life, death and sanity hang in the balance as Kelvin's rationality and emotions do battle.
Set in outer space, this movie is a fascinating exploration of 'inner space' which can be even more enigmatic. Solaris is a powerful mirror, which, once gazed into, forces us to question our own tenuous grasp on reality. A different movie. Thoughtful, intensely emotional. Could not have worked without excellent acting all around. Soderbergh's stark visuals are also well done. Recommended.
The Hunted (2003)
Plenty of chase thrills; anorexic plot.
William Friedkin directs an exciting 'Cat & Mouse' movie which is pretty much all edge-of-your-seat action chase/fight scenes set in the picturesque Pacific Northwest. L.T. Bonham (Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones) is brought out of retirement to track down a serial killer who preys on big game hunters. He quickly homes in on the culprit, but Aaron Hallam (Benicio Del Toro) will not be brought to justice easily. Connie Nielson (Gladiator) supports as the FBI agent in charge of the manhunt. Chases, captures and escapes ensue, enough action to keep it interesting.
Unfortunately, the plot and character development that I had hoped for when I rented this movie never materialize. With actors as fine as Jones and Del Toro, this is a real crime. All the more frustrating are the little hints (the letters, the parallels between L.T. and Hallam) at character development and plot which are never followed up. I don't know if this movie lacked the ambition to turn out some really interesting characters, or if it was just cut to pieces in the editing room. Either way, it is very disappointing.
Viva la conscience d'Amelie!
Amelie (Audrey Tautou)is a paralyzingly introverted Paris sweetheart with a very different outlook on life. In the wake of the tragedy surrounding the death of Princess Dianna, she goes about her life, asserting her own sense of morality. Some people she helps, others she punishes. But who will help Amelie get what she deserves???
Amelie caught my attention and held it for two hours. Light-hearted, fast-paced and fun, this movie features visual effects (such as transparent pocket), that help the story move, as well as narration and some interesting views of Amelie's sub-conscious, viewed as through the Television. This movie is funny and well done, and Tautou's presence and charm put it over the top. An excellent film.
But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
Smart satire, lots of laughs, just a fun movie.
Cheerleader Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is outed by her family, who send her to True Directions school for bringing young gays and lesbians back the straight fold. Gay immersion produces predictable results.
Hilarious premise is followed up by over the top acting and enough gay jokes/stereotypes to fill a pink school bus. This movie cracked me up. I loved it.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
"Tell us where you are Josh!" - Excellent Movie
Student videographers Heather, Josh and Mike enter the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland. The premise of the movie is that, one year later, their footage (from a cam-corder and an 8mm camera) is found and aired. But enough about the movie, which I enjoyed. What really blew me away was the IDEA of The Blair Witch Project.
The idea for this movie was fresh and interesting. 1st person video/film, with a simple cast and spontaneous dialogue. They get into some trouble, and as their situation worsens, they cope with it as humans would. Suspense is high, as is empathy for the characters. The emotions they produce for the camera are as real as they need to be.
For movie-goers suffering under the yoke of such intellectual midgets/hollywood heavyweights as Jerry Bruckheimer/James Cameron, I think this just what was needed; a bunch of rookies who go out and spend about $20,000 and make one of the best movies of the year.
Warning: for people who are big fans of the above-mentioned dough-heads, your attention span is probably way too short already. Don't both with Blair Witch. This is a movie for those who still wish to be challenged by the cinematic medium. It's no insult to the film for me to say it was a difficult movie to watch. But it was worth it.
An edge of the seat movie about losing faith, and finding it.
M. Night Shyamalan tackles the issue of faith through the filter of science-fiction. Former Reverend Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), has thrown away his collar after the tragic accidental death of his wife. In Hess's words, "I will not waste one more minute on prayer!" This to the consternation of his family, brother Merril (Joaquin Phoenix), son Morgan (Rory Culkin), and daughter Bo (Abagail Breslin).
After the appearance of crop circles in the corn fields of their Pennsylvania farm, the family must pull together to deal with the frightening reality that they will soon face. Graham will not have the luxury of wallowing in his own bitterness for much longer.
This is an excellent movie for several reasons. It takes the Alien sci-fi genre, and gives it an entirely new treatment, a very cerebral treatment. Also, true to Shyamalan's cinematic ideals, it gives us a deeper moral question for which the movie is merely a framer. The question; are you the kind of person that believes that things just happen, or that they happen for a reason, is certainly worth asking.
Excellent acting here, especially from child actors Culkin and Breslin. I found the movie well-paced and riveting throughout and would recommend it as a suspense thriller with a message to anyone looking for a few chills.
High Crimes (2002)
Ashley is Awesome
High Crimes follows the struggle of attorny Claire Kubik, played by Ashley Judd, to exonerate her former Marine Husband, played by James Caviezel, who has been charged with committing attrocities. Her defence team includes sister Jackie (Amanda Peet), rookie Marine advocate Lieutenant Embry (Adam Scott), and washed up councillor Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman).
The plot was good enough to keep me interested. There is family tension, romance, struggle with inner demons, etc... As well, there is plenty of emotion from everyone concerned. The courtroom drama is minimal and secondary to the suspense that plays out as Claire is stalked, threatened and intimidated by those who do not want the truth to come out.
Mainly, I like this movie because of Ashley Judd. Goddess, I mean Ashley is stellar as a determined lawyer, faithful wife and struggling mommy-to-be. The emotions from her character are palpable and she doesn't go over the top. Non-Ashley fans can take this movie or leave it. The rest of us will enjoy her work, as usual.
The only Incredible thing here is the spandex underwear.
The Hulk is a contemporary remake of the action comic/TV character of the same name. Modern digital effects have come a long way since the 1970's and so the result should be worth seeing. Unfortunately, movement in the field of script-writing appears to be entirely retrograde.
The Hulk has the potential to be a smashing good action movie. Instead, it is a mish-mash of man vs. society, man vs. self and man vs. man. The real enemy of the Hulk morphs from the military, to a money-grubbing tech contractor, to his very own father, leaving viewers wondering who or what the Hulk will conquer next (God?).
This movie has the feel of something that's been re-written about two thousand times, by about two hundred different screen-writers. In fact, I would not be surprised if they were re-writing entire sections of script only weeks before the movie's release. The movie is disjointed, utterly lacking any sense of pace, and there is no real focus, other than the special effects. The result is boring and incredibly contrived.
Also worth mentioning is the ridiculous habit of Director Ang Lee of adding useless footage (a la The A-Team) of military types crawling, shaken but otherwise unharmed, from their demolished tanks and helicopters. This insulting bit of filmwork appears to be meant as an appeasement of the establishment. After all, it would be un-American for our hero to go around killing our brave fighting men (and women).
28 Days Later... (2002)
Post-Apocalypic Bicycle Messenger...Awesome.
I enjoyed 28 Days Later immensely. Director Danny Boyle's vision of England, devastated by an horrific plague which turns its victims into raging maniacs is frightening and thought-provoking. This movie is raw and difficult to watch, so fake sci-fi/horror enthusiasts and the faint-of-heart need not waste their time. The violence is brutal and constant.
Bicycle Courier Jim awakens after an accident-induced coma to find himself alone in the city of London. He explores the empty metropolis and quickly learns of a catastrophe. A virus has spread, there has been a mass evacuation, many people have died. Those infected are caught in a state of permanent violent rage. Jim, along with other survivors, must decide what is worth living for, and what is worth dying for, in the world post-apocalypse.
This story of the apocalypse, like so many others, is really about what happens AFTER the apocalypse. What kind of people are the survivors? How do the survivors cope? How do they interact? What kind of society are they going to form in the aftermath? Questions of morality and existence are raised which the viewer must answer.
I recommend this movie to enthusiasts of such films as The Road Warrior, The Quiet Earth, The Postman. 28 Days Later is difficult to watch, at times, but poignant and inspiring and very, very relevant.