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27 reviews in total 
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In Fear (2013/I)
7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
An absolutely terrifying, well made, minimalistic horror film, 7 September 2014

I just finished watching this incredible movie and I can't believe the rating is this low.

It was absolutely terrifying - I was on the edge of my seat throughout. On top of that, it was very well-acted, shot, scored and edited. All three actors did a very convincing job. The first act provided just the right combination of laughs and suspense needed to hook the audience in and to get them emotionally involved with the characters.

What's most incredible to me is that the actors were kept in the dark as to what's going to happen - it's all detailed in the "Making of" feature on the DVD, and it's quite fascinating to watch.

Overall, I'd say it's one of the most intriguing, engrossing and enjoyable horror movies I've seen in the past few years. It's very minimalistic in its style and in the types of scares it contains, but that just makes it all the more frightening.

Prisoners (2013)
462 out of 583 people found the following review useful:
A brilliant masterpiece of atmosphere and suspense, 20 September 2013

This was one intense movie-going experience. Throughout the entire running time of the movie, the suspense never lets up.

The director masterfully weaves the haunting atmosphere, and I was at the edge of my seat. The plot is a wonderful puzzle, unraveling slowly to reveal hidden layers of depth and complexity. The acting was wonderful, emotional and nuanced, with some unforgettable moments (The two leads - Gyllenhaal and Jackman - give their career best performances, but the biggest achievement in my opinion is Paul Dano's). The musical score contributes to a sense of dread, as well as the rich sound design and the chilly color palette of the breathtaking cinematography.

All those parts add up to a rare, gut-wrenching, dark and fascinating masterpiece - the kind that lingers with you long after the credits roll.

175 out of 302 people found the following review useful:
Tremendous!!! One of my favorite movies of the year., 25 December 2009

What a ride. "Sherlock Holmes" left me giddy. I absolutely loved it. It was thrilling, funny, stylish, fast-paced and brilliantly acted.

Downey Jr. is a delight to look at. He eats up the screen. He gives the character all sorts of mannerisms and nuances which really bring Holmes to life like never before. The chemistry and interplay between him and Jude Law is hilarious.

I wasn't a big fan of Rachel McAdams's performance, but it didn't detract from the experience. I felt she just didn't bring as much to the table as the others. (Kinda like Katie Holmes in Batman Begins.)

Guy Ritchie really outdoes himself here. The way he uses the camera, the motion, the fluidity, the snappy pacing - I loved every minute of it.

A really fantastic movie. Well done.

19 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely brilliant. A masterpiece., 24 October 2008

Synecdoche, New York is one of those rare movies that make you re-evaluate your life and that can change the way you see the world.

The script is sincere, heartfelt and brutal in its uncompromising preoccupation with the most painful elements of our existence. Having said that, the movie is far from depressing and is in fact hilarious. The humor is balanced out by moments of what I can only describe as pure cinematic poetry, the likes of which I haven't seen since, well, since Kaufman's previous film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The cast is unbelievable; there are so many great actors in this movie, and they all do an incredible job. Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers what in my opinion is the best performance in his career (excluding Capote which I haven't seen and cannot comment on). Samantha Morton and Michelle Williams also stand out among this remarkable ensemble. And Sadie Goldstein, who plays Hoffman's four-year-old daughter, is just so adorable!

The score is also phenomenal, and the end credits song was so beautiful it broke my heart.

All in all, this movie has had a huge emotional impact on me and is definitely the kind of movie you have to see more than once. I give it my highest possible recommendation.

21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
An intelligent, sophisticated comedy that gets off to a slightly lame start but ends brilliantly, 11 December 2007

After the first 30 minutes I felt like the film lacked energy. The pace was a little too slow for my taste, and the intensity too low. I wanted it to be snappier, more sizzling.

But then, about halfway through, it got really interesting. The second half, although it still suffers from some pacing problems, makes up for the first. And then the third act is one of the most brilliant and satisfying third acts I saw in a long time. The ending brings together all of the elements and themes that were planted throughout the movie (our obsession with the way things look, the line between art and real life) to form insights about our lives that are as brutal as they are true.

I am generally fond of Neil LaBute's work - most of the time his works contain more than what they initially seem to be (I haven't see "The Wicker Man" remake yet, but I heard it was horrible). Here, what starts off as your run-of-the-mill romantic comedy/drama, develops into a cynic's paradise, presenting insights into our lives which are as brutal as they are true.

Three of the four actors do a splendid job (Weisz, Rudd & Mol). I especially liked Paul Rudd's performance, and the way his character changes throughout. All three, and especially Rachel Weisz, are convincing in their roles, and deliver multi-layered performances with lots of subtext. Fred Weller's performance leaves something to be desired, but the fact that his role is well written somewhat makes up for that. LaBute has successfully made all four characters three-dimensional and they feel like real people.

Overall, I'd say it was a pretty great movie, certainly entertaining, and an important one to watch and analyze if you are into writing, directing or acting. Somewher, though, I feel like it didn't live up to its full potential. This script, if directed with more intensity, could have become one of my favorite movies, up there with films such as "Closer", "Glengary Glen Ross" or "Oleanna". Maybe it's the transition from the stage to the screen that made LaBute feel like he should make everything more minimalistic and restrained. But it's definitely worth checking out.

24 out of 51 people found the following review useful:
An interesting and visually compelling thriller/horror with great atmosphere, 11 December 2007

Call me crazy, but I really enjoyed it.

I thought the atmosphere was very well crafted - taking a lot of inspiration from David Lynch/Twin Peaks(check out the alternate opening on the DVD and tell me that it doesn't remind you of the Twin Peaks opening credits sequence), but still managing to be interesting and effectively creepy. The music was also great and very Angelo Badalamenti-ish.

Some reviews categorized it as part of the Torture Porn sub-genre, but I disagree, I think the gore wasn't too gratuitous. Whenever there was gore it was effective, it wasn't overused to the point where the audience becomes apathetic to it.

I especially liked the art direction, and overall I think it was very aesthetically pleasing. Some interesting surreal imagery. Yes, the color symbolism was overdone, but what can I do, all those lush blues and reds appealed to me.

I also thought the script was clever in its "plants" & "pay-offs" and in terms of foreshadowing. And Lindsay Lohan's acting, though not brilliant, was adequate and convincing.

The directing in some of the dramatic dialogue scenes could have been tighter, with a bigger sense of urgency, especially towards the end, but I will be interested to see what director Chris Sivertson does next.

7.5 out of 10

Onibaba (1964)
9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly entertaining and delightfully wicked, 11 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film was not at all what I expected.

It had more of a plot than I thought it would. I had no idea what it was about before I saw it, only that it was a stylish horror film that draws influence from the Kabuki. I assumed it would be sort of surreal and abstract, kind of like a nightmarish dance. But it was very traditional in the way it stuck to the story. Which wasn't bad. In fact, I really enjoyed it.

I also thought it would be slow and, to tell the truth, boring, but it surprised me in how it kept my interest throughout. It didn't indulge in needlessly long takes just for the sake of appearing "artistic", and there was always something happening, always a development.

One of the great things about this film is the way the director uses the surroundings to create a stuffy, cramped, yet isolated atmosphere. The tall grass is always present and we never get to see what's more than several feet away from the characters. Don't laugh, but it reminded me of the fog in Silent Hill (the video game, not the movie).


I may be wrong, but I thought I detected some Hitchcockian influence in the film. The whole domineering mother-figure theme, the way the audience is in on the secret while the other characters stay oblivious. Also the plot had that wicked streak that is present in episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Especially the bit of "poetic justice" at the end - she pretended to be a demon, therefore she became a demon.

I loved the tonal shift about two thirds of the way through, from realistic drama to a sort of haunted folktale. And the ending was just perfect.

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Cute and visually spectacular, 9 July 2007

La Marche de l'Empereur (2005) is a french documentary that features the habits of penguins during the course of one year: their mating rituals, their migrations, laying of the eggs, searching for food, etc. It also shows them facing a danger or two, and (what for me was the highlight of the movie) the moment when the baby penguins break out of their shells! The movie is visually astounding. The cinematographer has managed to capture extreme close-ups where you can see the pattern of their feathers, as well as breath-taking longshots of hundreds of penguins marching on the beautiful icy backdrop. There is also a suspenseful underwater sequence.

The movie is accompanied with poetic voice-overs that tell the story from the penguins' point of view, and gentle ambiance music. There are also a few laughs here and there, as penguins bump into each other or slip on the ice.

The movie could have been handled better from a dramatic storytelling stand-point, but it seemed the director was aiming to create a sort of poetic new age nature movie, and as such, it works perfectly. Admittedly, there are points where the style starts to wear on you, and some parts seem to be repeating themselves, but at 80 minutes long the movie doesn't overstay its welcome.

All in all, the movie is a memorable experience, and manages to be informative and entertaining at the same time, and even manages to be moving on occasion. And penguins are simply the cutest animals!

88 Minutes (2007)
11 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
It can't get much worse than this, folks, 5 June 2007

What a train wreck of a movie. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it. What the hell was Pacino thinking???

This movie was hysterical. The script had some moments that were so ridiculous that I thought to myself that this has to be a parody.The plot was so contrived and lined with the corniest clichés in the book, such as a news cast that happens to relate directly to the story which comes on just as the main character enters a taxi.

The dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny, especially in moments when the film tries to pass off as an intelligent psychological thriller - then the characters utter illogical, superfluous arguments in favor of and against criminal psycho-analysis.

The acting was embarrassing. I love Pacino, but it felt like he was just frustrated with how lousy the material was. I don't understand how he found himself in this movie, let alone why he's making another film with the same director. Hasn't he seen the result?

It's awful that a hack like Jon Avnet is set to direct what might be the last collaboration between Pacino and De Niro. If "Righteous Kill" ends up sucking as much as "88 Minutes" it will be a damn shame.

153 out of 218 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely mesmerizing, 27 December 2006

Steven Soderberg is a hit-or-miss director. Either his films are acclaimed and loved by most, or they're infamous and hated. Having read the reviews, and having heard the negative buzz, I was expecting a miss. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

The film was mesmerizing. Say what you will about it, you have to commend Soderbergh on his cinematography skills. Black and white hasn't looked this good since "The Man Who Wasn't There". It was so rich, with so many textures. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Definitely some of the best looking cinematography I've seen this year.

Also the score is great. It evokes just the right noir-ish atmosphere. The editing is crisp and clever. All of the technical elements of this movie are flawless.

I heard people complain about the story and the acting. I thought the acting was great. Clooney looks like he just came out of the 50's. He reminded me of Cary Grant. Cate Blanchett is perfect as the femme fatale. I can't think of any better casting choices for an old school film noir than these two.

I also thought the story was engaging, even though it was sometimes confusing. I loved the way the information was dispersed, and the fact that the film changes perspectives, and at different points it's narrated by different characters. Some of the revelations in the plot were really sophisticated.

Making this film the way it was made, using old school techniques, lighting, camera lenses, etc. was a gutsy move. I applaud Soderbergh for his experimentation. And I thin it's a successful one - it really feels like a 50's film noir classic. I wouldn't say it's Soderbergh's best film, but it's certainly one of his his most unique ones, and a return to form after a string of failures. I highly recommend it.

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