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Least Favorite Word: No
Sound I love: Kissing
Sound I hate: Cotton being thorn.
Profession I would like to attempt: Painter.
Profession I would not like to attempt: Soldier.
What turns me on: Smiles and Women.
What turns me off: Betrayal.
Favorite Curse Word: Motherf u c k e r.
What would you like hear God say at the Gates of Heaven: Loved your films, come on inside, I have Coca-Cola, Pop Corn and a big silver screen.
Top 25 Films:
2.Gone With The Wind
5.All About Eve
7.On the Waterfront
9.Lawrence of Arabia
11.The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
13.A Clockwork Orange
16.One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
20.All That Jazz
25.The Lord of the Rings
Top 25 Directors(And my favorite work):
1.Charlie Chaplin-City Lights
2.Billy Wilder-Sunset Boulevard
3.John Huston-The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
4.Akira Kurosawa-The Seven Samurai
5.Elia Kazan-On the Waterfront
6.John Ford-The Grapes Of Wrath
9.David Lean-Lawrence of Arabia
10.Stanley Kubrick-A Clockwork Orange
12.Mike Nichols-The Graduate
13.Sergio Leone-The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
14.Bob Fosse-All That Jazz
15.Francis Ford Coppola-The Godfather
16.George Lucas Star Wars
17.Martin Scorsese-Raging Bull
18.Woody Allen-Annie Hall
19.Steven Spielberg-Schindler’s List
22.Tim Burton-Edward Scissorhands
23.Jonathan Demme-The Silence of the Lambs
24.Quentin Tarantino-Pulp Fiction
25.Peter Jackson-The Lord of the Rings
Top 25 Actors(And my favorite work):
1.Charles Laughton-Mutiny on the Bounty
2.Clark Gable-Gone With the Wind
4.James Stewart-Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
5.Marlon Brando-The Godfather
6.Karl Malden-On the Waterfront
7.William Holden-Sunset Boulevard
8.Jack Lemmon-The Apartment
9.Gene Hackman-The French Connection
10.Dustin Hoffman-The Graduate
11.Al Pacino-Scent of a Woman
12.Robert De Niro-Raging Bull
13.Jack Nicholson-One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
14.Christopher Walken-The Deer Hunter
15.James Woods-Once Upon a Time In America
18.Ed Harris-The Hours
19.Bruce Willis-Die Hard
20.Tom Hanks-Forrest Gump
21.Samuel L. Jackson-Pulp Fiction
22.Daniel Day-Lewis-There Will Be Blood
23.Denzel Washington-Training Day
Top 25 Actresses(And my favorite work): *-(None Film Related)
1.Bette Davis-All About Eve
2.Vivien Leigh-Gone With the Wind
4.Elizabeth Taylor-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
5.Katherine Hepburn-The African Queen
6.Audrey Hepburn-Breakfast at Tiffany’s
7.Marilyn Monroe-Some Like It Hot
8.Anne Bancroft-The Graduate
10.Diana Keaton-Annie Hall
11.Meryl Streep-Out of Africa
12.Jodie Foster-The Silence of the Lambs
13.Michelle Pfeiffer-Frankie & Johnny
15.Annette Bening-American Beauty
16.Nicole Kidman-Eyes Wide Shut
17.Uma Thurman-Kill Bill
19.Julianne Moore-Far From Heaven
21.Julie Delpy-Before Sunset
23.Cate Blanchett-The Aviator
24.Juliette Lewis-Cape Fear
25.Amber Tamblyn-Joan of Arcadia*
1.There Will Be Blood
3.No Country For Old Men
5.Across the Universe
8.La Vie en Rose
2.The Lives of Others
3.Little Miss Sunshine
5.The Good Shepherd
6.Children of Men
8.Letters from Iwo Jima
10.Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
7.Memoirs of a Geisha
9.V for Vendetta
10.Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
2.Million Dollar Baby
5.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6.Kil Bill Vol. 2
7.The Phantom of the Opera
1.The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2.Lost in Translation
6.House of Sand and Fog
7.The Barbarian Invasions
8.Kill Bill Vol. 1
1.Gangs of New York
3.The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
8.Far From Heaven
9.Catch Me if You Can
10.Bowling For Columbine
1.The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2.In the Bedroom
3.A Beautiful Mind
4.A.I: Artificial Intelligence
5.The Man Who Wasn't There
6.Black Hawk Down
2.Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
6.In the Mood For Love
10.O Brother, Where Are Thou?
3.Eyes Wide Shut
4.The Green Mile
5.Being John Malkovich
7.Any Given Sunday
9.The Sixth Sense
10.The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
1.Saving Private Ryan
2.The Truman Show
4.Life is Beautiful
6.The Thin Red Line
8.Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
10.Shakespeare in Love
1.As Good As it Gets
2.Wag the Dog
4.The Full Monty
9.Good Will Hunting
10.In & Out
2.The English Patient
5.The People vs. Larry Flynt
9.Fly Away Home
9.The Usual Suspects
3.The Shawshank Redemption
4.Natural Born Killers
6.Léon: The Professional
7.The Lion King
8.Bullets over Broadway
2.The Age of Innocence
3.Heaven & Earth
7.The Remains of the Day
8.The Nightmare Before Christmas
2.Scent of a Woman
5.Glengarry Glen Ross
6.The Last of the Mohicans
7.Husbands and Wives
2.The Silence of the Lambs
3.Beauty and the Beast
7.Thelma & Louise
10.Terminator 2: Judgement Day
2.Dances with Wolves
3.The Godfather Part III
8.Reversal of Fortune
1.Born on the Fourth of July
2.Crimes and Misdemeanors
3.Dead Poets Society
4.Driving Miss Daisy
6.My Left Foot
7.Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
8.When Harry Met Sally...
9.The Fabulous Baker Boys
2.The Last Temptation of Christ
4.The Unbearable Lightness of Being
6.A Fish Called Wanda
9.Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1.The Last Emperor
2.Empire of the Sun
6.Full Metal Jacket
2.Hannah and Her Sisters
5.The Color of Money
6.Children of a Lesser God
9.Peggy Sue Got Married
10.Ferris Bueller's Day Off
2.The Color Purple
4.Out of Africa
6.The Purple Rose of Cairo
7.Back to the Future
9.The Breakfast Club
2.Once Upon a Time in America
3.A Passage to India
4.The Killing Fields
5.Places in the Heart
7.This Is Spinal Tap
8.The Cotton Club
9.Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
10.The Karate Kid
1.Fanny and Alexander
3.Terms of Endearment
4.The Right Stuff
6.Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
10.To Be or Not to Be
1.E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
2.Raiders of the Lost Ark
3.Chariots of Fire
4.On Golden Pond
5.Absence of Malice
8.The French Lieutenant's Woman
10.Escape from New York
3.Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
4.The Elephant Man
6.Coal Miner's Daughter
9.Melvin and Howard
One of the Worst movies Ever Made.
If the epic genre had a downfall with films like Troy and King Arthur, 300 managed to sink it all the way to the bottom. This has got to be one of the worst attempts of epic movie making of all time. I feel sad that most likely, more and more films will resemble 300.
However, I don't know what depresses me even more, that movies like this get made, or that audiences flock in huge numbers to see them, and claim that they are the best films ever made.
This film is clearly a film for the generation of the 90s, dumb, numbed out idiot kids who what simple, packaged movie, where image and action are more important elements, rather than story, emotion, character and drama.
I think now I should clarify something, I'm 21 years old, and I'm a film student, so no, the argument that "I didn't understood the film cause I'm old" does not apply. And for the record, I enjoyed Sin City, but more on that later.
Now, regarding the film. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie. Because plot wise, you get everything from the trailer, 300 Spartan soldiers take on gargantuan invasion force from Persia. That's pretty much all that happens.
The characters fall under every superficial cliché character from the epic genre, a character is introduced and remains the same all the way through the movie. Such reflects incredibly poor writing. There's just no drama between any character, no conflict, either interior or exterior. Basically a bunch of grunts fighting over other "grunts".
I say "grunts" because, one of the things it did not expect was Spartans fighting Persian Orcs lead by a Street Fighter like Dhalsim with homosexual tendencies. Which is the big flaw of the movie as well, the Production Design. The movie sets up a somewhat realistic, if historically inaccurate but realistic world nonetheless. But then we have a Gollum creature, Persian Orcs as the enemy. It's not consistent with what the story sets up.
Another flaw in the writing is the fact that the whole movie relies on a boring, simple minded voice over that seems more like Spartan propaganda. The same voice over repeating either what you see in the image, or simple stating "We are Spartans, we are bad, what you gonna do when we come for you?". Moreover, the voice over makes an incredible mistake, being a witness voice over like in Million Dollar Baby, but narrating events that the witness never actually witnesses, like the final confrontation.
The movie also fall into a huge suspension of disbelief. You don't buy into anything that you are shown, you start to believe that even the actors are fake. And the battle sequences are so over done with the now cliché slow motion, that you just don't buy into the action. This affects the film because, the audience gets so detached that you don't care for any character, or for the outcome of the scene.
The film makes the terrible mistake of trying too much to impress with it's visuals, but they become so over done, that you don't feel like you are watching a movie, or getting a story, you feel like seeing a video game, and a bad one play out in front of you.
It has been argued that the filmmakers wanted to make a faithful adaptation of the graphic novel. But that is no excuse, this is not the first time movies have adapted a story from another medium, and in the past, filmmakers have understood that film has it's own way of telling a story, and things have to be altered, changed and re invented in order to work on film. This is a perfect example on how not to adapt something from another medium into film. The excuse of "it's faithful to the comic" simple does not work at the end.
The film remains just as a display of expensive CGI, and glorified battle gore. You cannot care less for the outcome of the battle. It's also funny that despite being a force of 300, you only see a couple of guys do all the work. And at the end, the movie takes itself so incredible serious, that the over done violence becomes hilarious, but there's a catch, unlike Kill Bill, here the violence is not supposed to make you laugh. Hence, it's a failure, I don't know what is funnier, Gerard Butler killing Persian Orcs and Trolls in slow motion, or the slow motion flying of an Eddie Murphy look alike with a smile on his face.
I know that I'm gonna be accused of dumb and ignorant, that I failed to see the greatness of this masterpiece, and let them say what they want. You must face the fact that the people who like this movie don't describe it as good, but as cool, "cool" is a phenomenon that existed in school, but this wave of "cool" movies, started primarily by the Matrix has reached new level of mediocre movie making with 300. Face it, this movie appeals to the low brow culture of "cool, I want cool movies".
Lets hope that the massive deploy of publicity for 300 dies out soon, and that people quickly forget about it. Because, there's really nothing important to remember from it.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
To quote Vincent Vega: Damn, that's a pretty bleep good milkshake
This is without a doubt the best movie of 2007, it's not only a movie with one of the best male performances of all time, but it's just a complete masterpiece, Paul Thomas Anderson has created a time less epic, the sorts we've not seen in a long time...(read more), it's right up there with such pillars as Citizen Kane, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Raging Bull.
There Will Be Blood is such a complex story, about greed, morality, family, religion and hate. The adaptation of the novel Oil! by Paul Thomas Anderson is a force to be reckon with, it's clearly one of the best screenplays written in the past 20 years. The story holds similarities with such great titles as Citizen Kane, Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Raging Bull. When I started hearing critics compare the film to these, especially to Citizen Kane, I was intrigued, what film could deserve such comparison, but then I saw it, and immediately agreed, this film is destined to become a classic.
The other incredible element of the film is the direction of again, Paul Thomas Anderson, the man behind Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk-Love. I used to consider him a director that was in the brink of a massive out burst of greatness. Boogie Nights was a fantastic head turner, but ultimately the Martin Scorsese cover direction became a much to great a shadow to overcome. Magnolia and Punch Drunk-Love were definitely great, off beat films that revealed his other interest in classic cinema, such as Jonathan Demme, and Robert Altman. But here, with There Will Be Blood, Anderson has created a massive work of art that exceeds in originality and unrelenting passion for film making that is translated into every single frame. The movie's tone, atmosphere, epic canvass, the story telling, everything is just an example of what a great director with encyclopedic knowledge of film can accomplish, it ranks with the works of Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles & Martin Scorsese. The direction is so sober, so patient, yet so determined and unyielding, it does not compromise anything for the sake of audience enjoyment, every single element is in the service of the story.
As for the performances, despite it being a very rich film with lots of characters, it really ends up being a Daniel Day-Lewis vehicle to show all of what he can accomplish as an actor, and probably, everything that an actor can accomplish. The performance is just so commanding, so overwhelming, is one of those performances that creates legends, like Brando's Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and Vito Corleone in The Godfather, like Bogart's Rick Blaine in Casablanca, like Gable's Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, like De Niro's Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, like Pacino's Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon, Tony Montana in Scarface and Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman, Day-Lewis performance is the stuff of legends. After we thought he had done such a performance in Scorsese's Gangs of New York, which he did, he comes here and tops himself, in every which way possible. His character is one of the most puzzling, challenging characters since probably Orson Welles Charles Foster Kane, and even though he is not an enigma as Kane, he is just as complex and mesmerizing, and such a commanding screen presence due to the numerous mannerisms and speech patterns, the performance is just magnificent. However, Day-Lewis is not the only actor of the show, Little Miss Sunshine's Paul Dano is also exceptional, managing to stand toe to toe against Day-Lewis, something that as DiCaprio proved in Gangs of New York, is a very difficult feat to pull off, but Dano manages to create such an interesting and twisted character, that still puzzles probably as much as Day-Lewis character.
The production value of the film is certainly without question, the gargantuan work of cinematographer Robert Elswit is palpable on every scene, the intense use of low lighting, using only fire as source of light, as well as the use of the sun, the natural lighting, and the special 43mm Pathe Lenses for color shifting at corners, it's the stuff we have not seen since movies by David Lean, George Stevens's Giant, Kubrick's Barry Lyndon and Warren Beatty's Reds. The subtle yet sprawling Production Design by by Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson is also extremely effective, and also reminiscent of classic Hollywood.
This film is virtuoso film making from the opening scene to the end, is one great, fascinating story that captures you from the start, due to the incredible array of talents that just erupts from the screen like an oil tower. There Will Be Blood is certainly the most interesting work from a young film maker since American Beauty, and puts Paul Thomas Anderson in the same league as Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Orson Welles, the list can go on, and on. I cannot recommend this film further, my only final piece of advice is see it, I took precautions not to reveal any plot details, cause even though you might think you have the story down from the trailers, trust me, you have no idea what you are in for. This movie is to be seen, and seen again. That's pretty much all I have to say about it, see the film immediately if you haven't...."I'm finished."
I was "Enchanted"
Disney's magic is finally back. After so many inane, by the numbers movies by the once great studio, they come up with a wonderful, simple, poignant musical romantic animated comedy spoof, I know, all those genres wrapped into one might sound like a messy stew, but it's anything but, it is altogether wonderful.
When I first saw the campaign for the film I though like many out there "Gee, what will Disney think of next to squeeze bucks out of parents with small kids and girls that go gaga over Princesses?" After a couple of months, I've seen the film 3 times, and was "Enchanted" with it, from start to finish.
Probably the two best elements in the film are the screenplay, which did a wonderfully clever spoof on all the Disney mythology we've grown with since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Kudos to newcomer writer Bill Kelly.
The other fantastic element is the tour De force performance from it's leading lady, Amy Adams. A great actress in the making, sort of reminds me of Diane Keaton, for her corky choice of characters, and the corky choices she makes with her characters. I first came upon her in Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can, she caught my eye as an interesting actress. Years later, with already an Academy Nomination under her belt, she is proving herself to be a great actress. Her comedic timing, her range, her screen presence, and her surprising vocal and dancing skills amazed me, and totally locked the film, she might be the most important cog of the whole production.
The cast was altogether fantastic, Grey's Anatomy Patrick Dempsey was a smart choice, James Marsden was brilliant as Adams counterpart, it's always a pleasure to see Susan Sarandon, and Timothy Spall was a delight, surpassing his apparent character actor persona, established by his collaborations with Tom Cruise. Idina Menzel was slightly underused, being the great Broadway vocal she is, she could have had a musical number, or record a song, but she was great nonetheless.
Speaking of Broadway, they really hit the spot on me with all the Broadway locations, displaying such signs as Hairspray, Chicago, The Color Purple and The Producers. The film does play out as a wonderful Disney Broadway musical. And though the film is not as mesmerizing as Beauty and the Beast(I leave that price to Brad Bird's Ratatouille), Enchanted is wonderful on it's own terms.
Kevin Lima also did some clever directorial choices, like changing film format from Academy Ratio to Widescreen, to classic by the book Jerome Robbins choreography and staging(that comes full force with the showstopper "That's How you Know").
The score is the cherry on top, it's was fantastic to hear, finally, a new score from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, they were connected with Disney's Golden Era of Late 80s, and 90s, we owe many of the classic Disney scores like Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid to them, it was amazing to have them back, with a killer score, that shows they have not lost their touch for music and lyrics, all of the themes are inspired, and the songs stick with you, Kudos you masters, you guys pulled through yet again, I smell a classic.
Although it's early, I would definitely call Enchanted the surprise of the year, a film that from it's campaign seemed dull, predictable and by the numbers, but showed me and many people wrong.
Disney and Pixar seem to have trouble with their marketing team, Ratatouille had the same problems with it's campaign, let's hope they can learn from this year.
I highly recommend Enchanted, let's hope it will "enchant" you as it did me.
El orfanato (2007)
Boring, Insipid Mess.
The uninspired movie for people who think they are cool and hip by liking foreign movies. This movie is a bad tasting stew made with ingredients from far superior movies, and every once in a while while watching this boring turd, I kept thinking "I wish I were seeing one of those instead".
First, to all ignorants out there, this film was not directed by Guillermo del Toro, who has not that many credits under his belt to pull a Spielberg. The act of good will of acting as Executive Prducer by using you name to push the movie of a lesser known director with talent is a feat reserved to few film makers, and del Toro is not yet one of them.
This movie was directed by first time Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, and his firts film is flawed to the brim. I don't see why, or no, let me rephrase, I do see why he needed del Toro's name to sell this movie, cause without the name, I don't think any distributor would have bought it.
The main flaw with this movie is the flaw of most, if not all scary movies of today, it's a classic case of "been there, done that, and a million times better". Every single concept handled in the movie has been handled before, in far superior movies like Poltergeist, which was written by Spielberg, or The Sixth Sense by M. Nigh Shyamalan, and The Others by Alejandro Amenabar. Hell, the movie even rips off Friday the 13th, and even goes to the point of ripping off Peter Pan, this movie has Poltergeists, a Jason, children ghosts that only one person can see, you name the scary movie, The Orphanage found some weird cheap way to package it, then adds very similar elements of Pan's Labyrinth at the end, and hopes everyone will be too much of an idiot to be sucked into the cheap thrill moments. The movie relies on the shock, high modulated surprise music cue way too much, a thing that pisses me off tremendously, cause once you've used it, no matter how much depth of field shots you can include, the energy is out, and the movie is running on fumes. Not even Jaws, a classic of the thrilling genre uses the high pitch music cue in it's big thrill moment where Roy Scheider is "gonna need a bigger boat".
The sort of 1+1=2 method of this movie gets so boring that, within 15 or 20 minutes of film, you pretty much figure out the entire thing, and you have to sit through until it unfolds slowly in a very boring fashion. I hate when thrillers become predictable, cause they stop being thrilling, and that is the case of The Orphanage, cause it is predictable by doing everything that has been done in movies about haunted houses and children, only with less flare, less style, and certainly less greatness.
The movie is terribly written, terribly directed, and also, does some pretty stupid casting choices. I mean, I love Edgar Vivar, I think that as every person of Latin America born from 1965 onwards, we count El Chavo as one of our most important childhood programs, and Vivar as Senor Barriga was funny as hell, but when he is supposed to be a guru of the occult, that just doesn't work, when he started talking about the ghosts everyone laughs, cause it just doesn't work at all, and getting Geraldine Chaplin to pull the trick of using a funny person as the séance, just like Zelda Rubinstein's Tangina in Poltergeist was flat down boring, you kept thinking, why is Mrs. Chaplin trying to copy Zelda Rubinstein? The end of the movie also leaves something to be desired, the movie, no matter how much it tried to trick the audience into thinking it was a serious movie, they just could not stick with the sad ending, they had to give a positive, cheerful note at the end, just in case people get too disturbed, let's kill the little dark overtone of having a boy with AIDS, I can see the producers and Bayona, "let's give it a Pan's Labyrinth touch, that worked last year right?" The movie also makes the stupid cliché of having the protagonist discover the most retched, scary places imaginable, and well, obviously, she is going to go in, alone, with out a flashlight, cause if she doesn't, the movie can't be scary, and just when it gets too scary, someone walks in and saves the day, just at the nick of time, well sure, cause if no one saved the protagonist from a heart attack, the movie would be over, an that is too much to hope for.
Not to mention some incoherent elements like a woman mistaking red haired little girls for her brunette boy, and a mysterious and tool like character that makes no sense, has no beginning, and no end, and only works for comedy and terror and to tie in a plot hole.
Aside from creating a convincing looking set, the movie really has nothing worth mentioning, or remembering, cause I already could mention and already remembered all the things that happened on this movie, from other, better movies.
This is the epitome of uninspired cinema, and it's a shame that just cause del Toro put his name in it, distributors and audiences were suckered in on it.
Across the Universe (2007)
Across the Universe should be seen and seen again across the universe.
The response to this movie is a clear evidence that people have a stupid low tolerance level for musicals. Across the Universe works amazingly, and surprisingly as a great musical, it has some of the most the daring, balls out attitudes towards the genre, that we have not seen since probably Fosse's revolution of the musical back in the 70s with Cabaret and All that Jazz. And even though most of what you hear people praising is the production values of the movie, like cinematography, production design, costume design, I think that Julie Taymor is underrated in a very unfair manner. The movie is fantastic, it was such a pleasing film experience.
Julie Taymor has always been a very visual director, since Titus, I praised her as a director with extremely rich visual ideas, and compared her to the likes of Baz Luhrmann, which is funny now, cause when the film started, I realize Julie Taymor had a very similar intention with Across the Universe, to that of Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge!, however, I'm of the opinion that Luhrmann was modestly effective, while Taymor hits the nail with absolute precision and perfection.
Even though I was a Musical Lover Freak, that I'll admit to, I had a hard time accepting Moulin Rouge!, I enjoyed it visually, as well as the performances, but I don't know, I was sort of a put off with the messy use of music, which really distracted me from the movie, which was supposed to take place in Pre WW1 Paris, but felt like some weird, annoying place, a musical version of a bad Three Stooges Episode, which I know sounds a little too tough on the film, but that's what I though. It was off putting seeing such a comedic portrayal of Toulouse Lautrec, pretending to co-write the score of The Sound of Music with a clumsy 21st Century version of Michael York, only in 1900s Paris.
I'm dwelling over Moulin Rouge! a little too much, I know, but it's just that people have complained in a similar way about this particular film. Beatles fans are put off by the almost exclusive use of Beatles songs in the soundtrack. I'm not a die hard Beatles fan, but I certainly like them, as pretty much most people, and I though that Julie Taymor's concept was amazing. Across the Universe is a Roseate Stone of the 60s, and because it is from the 60s, takes place in the 60s, and is all about the 60s, the Beatles soundtrack is a match made in heaven. The opening scene, is a perfect example of just how effective the use of the Beatles was, the comparison of late 50s, early 60s Americana Life Style, with a very industrial and rough Liverpool Life Style, from there on, the movie becomes a fantastic musical in all the classical sense, it's so classic that the film could be easily translated to Broadway.
People have said the most inane things like "the film has no plot"...no plot? Are you kidding me, the film not only has a wonderful array of characters that not only represent some of the most iconic figures of music in the 60s, but all of those characters are explored, developed, some to a larger extent than others, just like any movie, and on top of that, most of the characters are resonant in today's society with today's socio-political situation.
That is the other interesting element of the film, not only is it a good story, but it is also a politically conscious movie with extremely poignant images about the 60s and today. Not only does it have poignant images, but also, most of the songs have highly imaginative numbers, that are very technically proficient, in the classic sprawling Broadway musical tradition. And regarding the visual and special effects, I think Taymor was a bit gratuitous with the effects back in Frida, but here, they are all in service of the plot, even if some of the scenes seem like scenes that would go great with a little LSD, they are all used for the effect of creating that 60s feel and look in which the movie moves about with a delicious comedic overtone.
All of these praises go to the master behind the film, Julie Taymor, she deserves more credit than what she has been getting, the incredibly imaginative and exciting musical sequences are excellent. Who cares if it's music from the Beatles, the Beatles are pretty much the official soundtrack of the 60s, and it's not like the film is just a big bloated Beatles tribute, it's a tribute to the decade, and the whole music scene of the decade, aside from the numerous Beatles references, there are references to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Morrison.
I wanted to focus my review on Julie Taymor's work, but, the whole film is amazing, the cinematography, the production design , Albert Wolsky proves he is still champ of the musical genre. And the cast, aside from Evan Rachel Wood, most of them are young, fresh faces, which works wonders, since you are not ever wondering about who dubbed that song, you take all the stuff in, without having second thoughts or reservations.
I recommend you see the film, it's great, and if you have a beef about it using Beatles music, well, I only have one thing to say, DEAL WITH IT, it's not like the film is abusing the Beatles legacy, if anything, it's giving it a standing ovation, and it's fitting for the period, and the tone of the picture, so...that's pretty much it, just..."let it be, let it be, let it be".
It all started and ended in...greatness.
The absolute "must see" Indie movie of the year, cause it has one of the most wittiest screenplays of recent times, it's so honest, so poignant, so fresh, young, original, smart and on top of that, funny as hell.
Juno is a strange amalgamate between a Jared Hess movie and a Judd Apatow movie, but, this is not a complaint, being compared to such is a great compliment, but, that doesn't mean that Juno is a movie that just takes those two formulas, the Hess movie and the Apatow movie, mixing them and giving birth to some strange mutant movie. Juno has it's own beat, rhythm, laughs, and most importantly, wit and heart.
Diablo Cody's screenplay for Juno is undoubtedly one of the best screenplays recently written. It's so rich in details, characters, situations, drama, comedy, and some of the best, most original, and truthful dialog. Diablo Cody is definitely the main protagonist of this movie's reputation as the "it" Indie movie of the year.
The other incredible protagonist is it's protagonist, Ellen Page as Juno is incredible, an acting tour De force, what this beautiful 21 year old has accomplished in the movie is truly amazing, a character so complex, rich in details and mannerisms, and as an audience member you can't help but love her, with all her inequities, she is one of the most lovable characters on film. I will certainly keep an eye on Miss Page from now on. The supporting cast was incredible, it was a casting made in heaven, and it played out beautifully, the great veterans Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons were so funny and effective as Juno's parents, Jason Bateman from Arrested Development was very effective, it was great to see Jennifer Garner take this role. And of coarse, the always funny Michael Cera was so convincing and funny as Juno's male counterpart, it truly seems like casting destiny, he was great in Superbad, and he was great in Juno.
Another element that people probably won't notice too much is the skillful direction by Jason Reitman. He made very clever choices with the film. His vision made the film even more poetic than what it already was. This movie, oddly enough was very easy to mess up, by trying to make it more funny, but Reitman sticks to the story, the characters and just let's things play out with a slight touch here and there that make the film look so effortless, which is fantastic.
Another element that was truly inspiring was the Production Design, Art Direction and Set Decoration, Steve Saklad, Michael Diner, Catherine Schroer Shane Vieau created one of the most unique and realistic looking films in a very long time, again, everything looks so honest, so lived in, which is very hard to do when Designing a film.
I know that this movie doesn't seem like the smart, intellectual Indie movie that makes it big every year, 2003 was Lost in Translation, then came Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind then Little Miss Sunshine, and now, we have Juno, which is just as great as those films I mentioned, and a lot more, trust me, it's a film experience that should not be missed.
They should have left this Mummy in the sarcophagus
This is probably one of the worst films I've seen in my life, and I don't tend to toss around accusations like that lightly, but this third installment of The Mummy series initiated back in 1999 deserves such dishonor, cause it's such a bad example of film making, it borders on offensive.
I'm a guy with simple tastes, I'm not one of those people who think cinema begins and ends with Bergman and Goddard, I actually enjoyed the previous Mummy pictures, even the second one, which I know was cheesy as hell, but like film critic Michael Phillips said about cheesy movies, a movie sometimes is just "10.000 pounds of cheese on a cracker, but sometimes, I'm exactly in the mood for 10.000 pounds of cheese on a cracker." But The Mummy: Tomb of Dragon Emperor is, at best, feces on a cracker, the cracker being the amazing trailer of Quantum of Solace before the movie, probably the highlight of the experience.
I won't go into any details regarding the plot, cause, well, the plot is pretty much explained fully on the trailer. We pick up with the O'Connell's, retired and bored as well, just as I was while watching the movie. They get at again to stop the evil Mummy of the Emperor Han from taking over the world...how original, when will these Mummies just wanna lay back and enjoy the comforts of the modern age. I'd love to see a movie about an ancient Mummy , brought back from the dead, only to be flabbergasted by the technology of the present, and lay around drinking beer, watching TV, and getting fat with McDonald's. That would be more fun that all that this movie had to offer.
All of the actors were there for their paychecks, Brendan Fraser has never been more boring. John Hannah was also incredibly stupid, and the jokes they wrote for him were not funny at all, some are even distasteful. Luke Ford, playing Rick's son, not only looks like two minutes younger than him, but less charm than R2-D2, Michelle Yeoh is wasted, Jet Li doesn't have the Mummy gravitas that Arnold Voosloo had, and finally, Maria Bello; filling in for Rachel Weisz, who had the good common sense to stay away from this dregs, she is horrible, she looks so concern with her fake Posh accent, which she got wrong anyhow, so, at the end, we are left with nothing in the acting department.
Rob Cohen, man, is he getting worse and worse, when you though Stealth was really the lowest a director could get, he managed to enlighten us with an even lower level of mediocre work. He has never been an interesting director, and his campy style has butchered many movies that looked interesting, if only for entertaining purposes, like Dragonheart and Daylight, but you would expect at least, with all that money spend on these summer movies, to have something to show for. But no, no, no, everything looks poor, the action sequences are dull as hell. To prove my point, this will probably be the only movie where a sword fight with Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li lasts about 20 seconds, and it's all in slow motion. If a director cannot make a sword fight between those two modern icons of martial arts films, he should really think about retiring for good.
The story is stock, which is to be expected from a B movie of this sort, but like Raiders of the Lost Ark proved, even B movies can be Oscar Hopefuls, but there was no attempt at all with this one. The pacing of the story is terrible, the special effects are sub par, and at the end, you are left with a 2 hour yawn fest, to which you would fall to sleep within minutes, if it weren't for the loud noises coming from the speakers.
The movie is shameful, and not worth the price of the ticket, this movie is the reason why some theaters have money back policies, and had the theater I saw this had one, I would have asked not only for my money back, but for a year of free admissions, for having seen this awful mess.
American Gangster (2007)
American Gangster is an Instant American Classic.
I know we've seen all of this before, rise and fall of the American gangsters, it was done beautifully and seen through the lens of Martin Scorsese in Goodfellas and the lens of Brian De Palma in Scarface, but what's great about American Gangster, is that now we get to look at it through the lens of Ridley Scott, and what a great look it is.
What's great about American Gangster is that it is different to the two movies it has the biggest connections, again, Goodfellas and Scarface. American Gangster manages to stay away from pretty much everything you would expect, and gives you a fresh, new perspective into some very interesting leading characters, Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts, played brilliantly, as one would expect from such greats of greats, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, but more on their performances later.
Ridley Scott has always been an interesting director, and this reviewer has always found his work interesting. I certainly had high expectations with this movie, and though those particular expectations were not met, I was pleased by a whole different film I had no idea I was about to watch.
With a movie like this, I was sort of expecting a fun gangster movie, most gangster movies are fun, we all know that, it was fun to see Joe Pesci be an unpredictable pig of a wise guy, it was fun to watch Al Pacino sprouting all those four letter words, shooting and introducing us to his "little friend". With a gangster movie, you expect that sort of thing, but Ridley Scott gave this material a whole new spin, he turned into a gritty, 70s type drama, with real characters, historically significant circumstances, and a fantastic realistic meets Hollywood approach. It was fun but in a different, unexpected way.
You can definitely feel the touch of the European style of directing that has always made Ridley Scott an interesting director. His direction is sober, straightforward, and rather innovative for the genre, this film does not look like any gangster movie, no operatic feeling like The Godfather, no kitsch like material like in Scarface, and no rhythmic editing and skillful sequence shots like Goodfellas, this is a unique movie in terms of style and narrative.
The story is not about a flashy and dangerously like-able gangster and the "untouchable" goody good cop out to catch him, the story is much deeper, dealing with US involvement in Vietnam, corruption on law enforcement agencies, and the dramas of imperfect men and women caught in all this turmoil.
The cinematography by Harris Savides is very good, the film has a great look, it heathens the gritty scenarios sometimes portrayed in the film with a blurry feeling that enhances the feeling of the movie. The editing by Scott's old ally Pietro Scalia is flawless as one could expect from such a consummated editor, and the subtle attention to detail in the art department is great. Along with a realistic costume design by Janty Yates.
The film is not a biopic of Frank Lucas, or of Richie Roberts, it's about the clashing of these two men, and that could not have been orchestrated better by Scott and Brian Grazer the producer, for getting both Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe to meet face to face on an acting duet that slowly, patiently builds up to a great showdown. It can be compared with Michael Mann's crime epic Heat, and it's Pacino/De Niro showdown. Both Denzel and Washington carry the movie with amazing skill, it's a thrill to follow both story lines because of the two actors that carry them, developing the characters into rich, detailed personifications of the real men behind the story.
The supporting cast of numerous familiar faces such as Carla Gugino, Armand Assante, Ted Levine, Joe Morton, Josh Brolin, Ric Young, Cuba Gooding Jr. and the surprising Ruby Dee in an Oscar nominated Supporting Performance, they all make the canvass of the movie feel even richer.
Now, this movie has been played down for not being memorable and exciting as other gangster films, but that detachment from classic gangster movies is what makes it exciting, cause it's not familiar territory, just as Goodfellas was great for being different from The Godfather, American Gangster is great for being different to gangster movies of it's sort, and taking us to new, unexplored territory.
Big congratulations to Ridley Scott for proving he is still a master of the craft, and for the two male leads, Denzel and Crowe, for giving us great performances. This American Gangster is one big American Classic.
Michael Clayton (2007)
This film is a great throw back to the wonderful political thrillers of the 70s, I had wonderful flashbacks of movies like The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, All the Presidents Men, and Network, yeah, that's right, now, any real film connoisseur should now that Michael Clayton means business when I compare it to a masterpiece like Network.
Tony Gilroy (the aphrodisiac in Ocean's Thirteen, hahaha!!!!), whose credits include the screenplay of The Devil's Advocate and the Bourne Series with Matt Damon, he created a very clever, politically oriented screenplay, with highly articulate dialogs, and a very provocative subject matter handled with a very realistic undertone of a subtle political thriller. There's really no doubt as to why the likes of Steven Soderbergh, Anthony Minghella, George Clooney and Sydney Pollack got interested in such project.
Gilroy, who also directed, was truly inspirational with Michael Clayton, and personally speaking, handled a potentially difficult subject matter that has been seen before with a different perspective and undertone which made the movie very interesting from the start. Many people have complained about the movie, that it's slow, boring, and whatnot. My only response is, well, it's a serious movie, I seldom laughed, maybe once or twice, that's true, and the film is loaded with dialog, however, who ever said that an intentionally serious film, with clever dialog was bad. I could see the "no laughing" matter to be a problem in a movie like Juno, an intended comedy with no laughs is terrible, but Michael Clayton is not Juno, Michael Clayton has a different purpose, and shame on the people who complaint, not for disliking what Gilroy did, but for not appreciating what he was trying to do, and what he, in my mind, achieved very successfully.
The movie requires intense attention to detail, you must be alert, cause missing anything on Michael Clayton is critical, and even when paying attention, some of the film's elements remain cryptic, but not unreachable, primordially an infamous scene with a flock of horses, which apparently some people find way to obscure ad random. But I suggest you catch the film again, cause the horses element is actually very though through, and to my opinion, very clever, and the key to the answer of that puzzle, which is really the only truly puzzling element of the film is in there in the film, you don't need to read anything to catch it. If anyone is interested, here is a clue, Clayton's son talked about it a lot, and Clayton came across it in Arthur's loft, I guess you know what I'm talking about.
On with the review, as with all films with a clever screenplay with sharp dialogs, it has a great cast to back it up. George Clooney is very interesting as Michael Clayton, a no BS performance that's subtle, appropriate, deep, and intensely realistic, which supports the realism of the whole film. Besides, this is not a Clooney we've seen before, forget the cocky thief Daniel Ocean, or the intense CIA operative Bob Barnes, this is a great role, which takes great pride in the phrase "less is more". Tom Wilkinson was fantastic as Arthur Edens, he reminded me of the late Peter Finch in Network, and his character, although not as extensive as that of Howard Beale, served a similar purpose in the drama of the movie. Wilkinson brought enormous life and intensity, as a counterpart to Clooney's low key character, which I think is not what people were expecting, but was something I found very refreshing. Also very refreshing was Tilda Swinton, as the cruel yet invaded with concerns Karen Crowder, her character, and the way she is developed is brilliant, both on the page, on film, and in her performance, again her character is sort of similar as Faye Dunaway's Diana in Network, yet, she is developed and portrayed in the complete opposite way, she is kind of a pathetic female villain, you hate her, yet you empathize with her due to the humanity she exposes, enough said, what could be better than that. Finally, Sydney Pollack, the best Actor Director, and in his case, Producer in the business after Woody Allen, he is always wonderful to look at, he has such a great sense of timing, of delivery, and a naturalism, no matter what he does, I buy it completely.
The music by James Newton Howard is extremely subtle, but it's quite effective, it's a rare little gem. Robert Elswit did an amazing job, the film has a great look, it's a very realistic cinematography that doesn't call too much attention to itself.
I guess I've pretty much have established that subtlety is a sort of leitmotif in Michael Clayton, and indeed it is, it's a dense film told in a subtle style, that doesn't bring too much attention to itself. I think that is what has got most of the audience sort of lukewarm with the movie, nonetheless, it was a big favorite at the Academy Awards, and with very good reasons. I congratulate Tony Gilroy and the entire cast of Michael Clayton for doing the film, the way it was made, and I hope people look at it more carefully in the future. as Michael Clayton himself, "this is not the movie you kill!"
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Joel and Ethan Coen pull off their best work since Fargo, and maybe The Man who Wasn't There, and like in Fargo, they come up with a tour De force of writing, directing, acting and cinematography.
No Country for Old Men is albeit a complex movie, it's certainly not a movie you can fully digest in one sitting, this review is boldly written after just two sittings, yet, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's an over the top art house movie for twelve people. The movie, being a classic Coen brothers movie, it's very entertaining from beginning to end. The story is a grabber from the start, and their narrative, so rich in the small details that make you buy into the action even more.
The performances are all great, there's no main character or anything, I don't think we could really call Tommy Lee Jones the protagonist, this is more of an ensemble piece, and as en ensemble, it's fantastic, there's not a single weak link, all of the actors were extremely effective. Tommy Lee Jones gives a great, subtle, and poignant performance as a Keystone Texas Sheriff, Josh Brolin is great as the laconic Texas loner, Kelly MacDonald is extremely convincing and honest as the Texan trailer housewife, I immediately forgot her original thick Scottish accent and completely bought her uncanny Texan accent, she was an inspired piece of casting. Woody Harrelson was quite effective as usual.
I've been saving however, the best for last, Javier Bardem's chilling performance is the one that shines and stands out the most, his portrayal of Anton Chigurh is one of the most chilling performances since probably Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. I know the world chilling is tossed rather lightly these days, but trust me, Bardem's really earns the adjective, his cold hearted, yet human and realistic portrayal of Chigurh is memorable, he has created, along with the Coen brothers, a memorable an assassin as The Terminator or Hannibal Lecter.
The film has an impressive look, kudos to the always amazing Roger Deakins for a strong looking cinematography, imposing long shots of the Texan country side, as impressive as North Dakota's white desert looks of Fargo, as well as an extensive use of shadows, very good stuff.
The Coens writing is palpable, as well as their direction, all of the strange and curious details of middle Americans of rural and remote areas, the rather film noir plot the movie deals with, as well as the trials and tribulations of the veteran Sheriff, the riffs between husband's and wives, and the minutia details of crime, they all sum up to a very entertaining, if at times puzzling and challenging film.
This movie is certainly extremely poetic, you do have to pay attention and digest some of the information very carefully, and, well, there's nothing wrong with that.
This movie is easily one of the best of the year, one of the Coens best movies, and, well, just a complete masterpiece. Congratulations all around.