Reviews written by registered user
Danherb

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15 reviews in total 
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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Ingenious plot, brilliantly pictured and narrated, 25 September 2006
10/10

The plot of Jin-Roh is set in a fictitious Tokyo, several years after the second World War. Violent combats between an anti-administration terrorist organization and the capital's para-military police rock the city over and over again. When Fuse, a member of the capital's police force, gets suspended after a young terrorist messenger blows herself up in front of his eyes, he tries to search for more information about her but gets mired in a secret power struggle between the administration and the capital's police force.

The plot of "Jin-Roh" is so sophisticated, it can hardly be described without spoiling some very important facts. The movie then comes up with several stunningly surprising twists that one would hardly have anticipated. But despite, respectively, due to the movie's complexity, it is sometimes hard to follow properly the events and incidents. There are so many different organizations interacting and intriguing, which shall not mean, that the story is inconsistent. Rather are all relationships and hierarchies between the organizations (police, administration, ministries) brilliantly thought-out, but the fact that everybody seems to play off against one another, doesn't make it clear who belongs to whom until the end. I had to watch the movie twice, before realizing every aspect of the story.

All this may sound like an ordinary political crime plot, but let me tell you, it is something totally unique. The plot's obscurity perfectly fits its grim atmosphere. The idea of a fictitious past is excellently illustrated by the streets and locations, that seem familiar, but at the same time totally strange.

The movie's subjects about guilt, atonement and living with burden make it also pretty depressing, but at the same time, a special cinematic experience, due to its unique stylistic features, such as narrating the story of "Little Red Riding Hood and the evil wolf" during several scenes, which accurately fits the events in the movie itself.

All in all, one of the greatest and most unique movies, that I have seen, Mamoru Oshii, once again, created a brilliant and intelligent plot, whose complexity sometimes really reminds oneself of Oshii's "Ghost in the shell". The movie's overwhelming picture language and music contribute to its excellence.

13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Perfume: A unique cinematic experience, 21 September 2006
8/10

I haven't read Süskind's book, before watching the movie, which was certainly an advantage, because I didn't have any demands or reservations on its realization.

The story should be throughout well-known. The main character Grenouille has an perfect sense of smell and tries to conserve the scent of beautiful women in order to create an ultimate perfume, which makes him turn into a murderer.

Director Tom Tykwer focused on strong and authentic pictures to describe all the different smells which works brilliantly, may it be the disgustingly foul smelling Parisian fish market or a large field of blooming lavender. It's overwhelming, how Tykwer's picture language lets you experience not only all kinds of smells but also the atmosphere of life in the 18th century.

The actors' performances are great as well. Wishaw plays Grenouille with a mix of insanity, mysterious attractiveness and simplicity. The rest of the cast, especially Dustin Hoffman as Grenouille's taskmaster and Alan Rickman as a careful father, who wants to hunt Grenouille down contribute great performances.

The story itself keeps some brilliant ideas ready, which are certainly only surprising for those, who haven't read the book. But a problem, which is common for most novel adaptations is, that the story partly seems too densely packed, so that the movie becomes a little dull sometimes. The fact that a narrator is almost constantly present intensifies the fabulous atmosphere on the one hand. But on the other hand the characters' motivations don't become clear enough at certain times. I would have wished, that the movie would have taken more time focusing on the characters' development. But nevertheless the strength of the movie lies in special sequences, for example the ending scene, which I don't want to spoil, is enthralling to such an extent and the picture language perfectly support the movie's main topic of ultimate beauty.

The movie is no common novel adaptation, due to the novel's ingenious story and Tykwer's courageous realization, "Perfume" is an exciting unique cinematic experience, which I think is more beneficial, if you haven't read the book.

Boudu (2005)
14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Needless french slapstick, 29 July 2005
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For the first time of my life I went to a sneak preview and I was full of great expectations, but unfortunately everything I got was Jugnot's "Boudu".

The plot is fast told, Jugnot plays a bourgeois and narrow-minded art dealer, who saves a homeless (crankily played by Depardieu) from drowning and generously lets him spend one night at his home. In return Depardieu turns Jugnot's whole life totally upside down. At first everybody in the small french town is disgusted by Boudu's habits, but the better the people get to know him, the more Boudu changes everyone's life in a positive way.

"Boudu" is above all or even solely appropriate for confirmed Depardieu- or French-Comedy-Fans.

Depardieu perfectly fits the role of "Boudu", playing Boudu's rude and plump character gave him visible pleasure.

But the comparatively trivial plot and the inevitable vulgar jokes (f.ex. Depardieu's white and hairy butt, curse or beat-jokes) tire the spectator already after a short period. The bettering of the the people's lives due to Boudu's presence as well as the questionable socio-critical ending are very unrealistic. Why Jugnot's wife and his cute assistant are attracted to a disgusting homeless like Boudu and even sleep with him is as shady as the fact that Jugnot even forgives him and says he loves him, after he finds out, that Boudu has impregnated his wife.

The film lacks above all originality,(for it is a remake of the 1932 Renoir-Classic "Boudu saved from downing").

It is definitely an film, nobody needs, except those, who cannot get enough of Gerard Depardieu.

Ken Park (2002)
5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Every bad cliché of a sinful suburb is put into this film. Provoking? No, rather unrealistic!, 16 July 2005
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The intention of the directors of Ken Park is above all to provoke. I would even go so far to say, that it's their only intention.

The story centers around a group of teenagers and their families that live in an American suburb. The idyll is deceptive, because every family has some big trouble or a dark secret in the privacy of one's home.

This plot sounds much like stories that we've already had in many other films or TV-series before, f.ex. the American Beauty, Desperate Housewives, Kids, Bully, United States of Leland, and so on. And in fact the story of Ken Park doesn't come up with something completely new or original, it has pretty much the same same stories (alcoholic father, guy sleeps with his girlfriend's mother, severely religious father abuses daughter) the only difference to other such films is, that the directors show sexual organs in closeup view in almost every second scene. And apart from that the behavior and the attitude of the characters is much more radical than in other films. The film opens with a young guy that drives around with his skateboard to a skate park where he takes a gun out of his backpack and shoots himself in the head. Then we get to know the other people living in that area one after one, and everybody has a skeleton in his closet: One guy chokes himself while masturbating and kills his grandparents, because they got on his nerves and gets an erection while looking at the dead bodies, a father wants sexual contact with his own son after he comes home from a booze, another catholic father catches his daughter unprepared having sex with her boyfriend, beats him up and marries his on daughter as some sort of punishment.

The film is definitely a bit entertaining, but the problem is, that the director doesn't really emphasize the character's feelings, he only pays attention to showing as much as possible provoking scenes such as showing sex and masturbation in closeup view. The people's behavior is excessively bad and disgraceful in such a way, that it's simply unrealistic.

It might be fact that there are some sorts of such states in externally idyllic suburbs, such as shown in American beauty f.ex., but the director of ken park has only taken every cliché from such films, mixes them with pictures of crotch, violence and bad language. I've heard many reviews that say, that Ken Park is very realistic, i can only say, that I found it extremely unrealistic that truly every single person has a skeleton in his closet, and that there is only grief, disgrace and evil. And that is the biggest problem, one realizes that the director only wanted to provoke, I don't know, maybe some conservative catholic people with this film. But due to that, the character drawing gets totally lost.

I also asked myself why, the director of this film, that has already directed "Kids" and "Bully", thinks that we need another film, with such a similar plot.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Best and most authentic Alien invasion film yet! Will be very different from what you expect!, 5 July 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No, Spielberg fortunately abandoned all these clichés and emphasizes suspense and realism. He has accomplished something, no other director of an alien film has before:

"War of the worlds" is very, very authentic, everything seems real in such a way, it is like a nightmare that could happen every day, every time.

Spielberg's directing as well as Cruise's and Fanning's acting brilliantly show the hopelessness and the helplessness of humanity. The characters more and more realize that there is no way out, as the film goes on. Cruise's character does what every other human being would do in such a situation, he runs, but every time he thinks, hes escaped the Aliens come after him and he realizes that there is no place on earth where one is safe and there's no weapon or instrument made by human hand, that could harm these invaders

No Alien- or disaster film had ever had such a scaring impact.

Yes, other such films might me about nothing more than running and screaming and "War of the worlds" is running and screaming all the time either, but the way, it is illustrated is different.

There are neither hero-clichés nor unnecessary love stories.

Other comments I have read criticize that there is no plot at all. Okay, there might not be a complex and emotional plot like in Drama films or thrillers like Fight Club or Schindler's List, but that's really not the claim Spielberg raises, it is solely the helplessness, Spielberg focuses on, and this works perfectly.

That might be the point why one half loves the film and the other half is totally disgusted by it. But I unfortunately cannot tell if one will like the film or not. I myself am more a fan of demanding dramas and sophisticated thrillers, but nevertheless I really enjoyed the film.

WARNING: minor SPOILERS following:

Unfortunately Spielberg isn't bold enough to consequently follow his style until the end. He regrettably lets Cruise heroically rescue his daughter from the aliens and shows the whole family happily reunited in the last quarter of the film which bedims the excellent impression.

Another downer was the fact that the aliens were actually shown, past alien films should have made clear that the showing of the unknown and scaring somehow let drop the suspension, so that was a little negative aspect.

SPOILERS END

Moreover the visual effects are stunning as expected, one shouldn't be put off by some bad reviews, my result is that the film is definitely worth watching, but "War of the worlds" is such a film that is liked by one group and hated by the other group and one cannot finally tell why. Give this film a chance, if for the single purpose of joining the discussion.

An enjoyably revived Batman in a new old traditional style, 2 July 2005
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes, this film is definitely an advance to the Schumacher's Batman films. One can enjoy the myth of Batman again, thanks to Nolan and Bale, though it was not a perfect film to me...

The good aspect: For the first time, a Batman film consequently shows Bruce Wayne's development into the black knight. This part is also the best of the film, Bale perfectly illustrates Bruce Wayne's fear as well as his lust for revenge.

In addition shows the film a comprehensible reason of the villain for destroying Gotham City. We get to know why the city shall be destroyed, the explanation isn't only "pure evil" as in the early Batman films. Good news is that Nolan has returned to the very dark optics of the original Batman comics. The scenes when Bruce Wayne is trained in the mountains and when he discovers the secret cave under his property are very stylish and brilliantly pictured.

Another advantage of the film compared to Schumacher's and Burton's films is that Nolan combines realism with comic style. Schumacher's as well as Burton's Batman films were lacking realism. Batman and the villains had some supernatural powers that were never explained, and the Batman's arms were a bit too exaggerated and strange.

But this time Batman is no supernatural hero, the will for revenge and justice pushes him on and his abilities are all acquired and trained and his weapons and the Batmobil are rejected military project from the armament production of the Wayne corporation.

But the despite all the realism, when Bruce Wayne slips his Batmann dress over for the first time and beats up the first villains the well-known and satisfying hero-movie and comic feeling comes back.

Christian Bale is definitely the best cast for Bruce Wayne up to now. He illustrates Bruce Wayne's dark side and his inner conflict as great as his role as the heir of millions.

Unfortunately the last quarter of the film loses the realism and the darkness that made it so great up to this point. The final action sequences get lost in familiar Hollywood stereotypes. It has huge crashes, massive explosions and the usual action film humor, everything that Nolan was able to abandon before. But the biggest disappointment to me was, that Nolan couldn't even do without the Hollywood-usual kiss at the end.

These facts regrettably bedim the previously excellent impression.

But nevertheless the bottom line is, that Christopher Nolan and his excellent cast have adequately brought the myth of Batman back to screen and have awoken the appetite for more tales from Gotham City.

22 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Touching drama about the ruin of a group of men's friendship by war, 30 June 2005
9/10

"The Deer Hunter" is not a film about the Vietnam war, as it is wrongly said in many cases.

"The Deer Hunter" is a film tells the story of 3 friends within about 5-6 years, during which their friendship is repeatedly put to the test.

It is primarily a picture of the contemporary life of a group of people around 30 living in a small American town during the Vietnam war.

The first hour of the film portrays the every day life of three friends Mike (De Niro), Steven (Savage) and Nick (Walken), who look forward to Steve's wedding but at the same time have to prepare for their commitment in Vietnam. The main actors (above all De Niro and Walken) perfectly picture the character's inner conflict between their easygoing home town life and the forthcoming assignment in Vietnam. Despite this conflict the characters don't show their concerns to their environment.

Particularly Nick is worried about him and his friends leaving his home town and perhaps never coming back, but he only tells his best friend Mike of his thoughts, who is much more resolute and sees their engagement as a strong masculine act.

Cimino manages to show the simple irrationality of young men, going to a senseless war from which they might never return for the only purpose of glory and approval, and abandoning their settled and happy life for it. The spectator just can't understand why those young men voluntarily sign for the army and give up everything they have. The passage from the small-town-idyll to the war cruelty is greatly pictured. Cimino does not show the three friends' way to Vietnam or the training, he immediately switches from a happy get-together to the cruel war captivity of the Vietcong. This passage perfectly underlines the contrast and the inexplicability of the three men's actions.

Although the passage that is set in Vietnam is only about one third of the whole film long, the war is omnipresent at any time, which is probably the best benefit of the whole film, Cimino does not need to bomb the spectator with pictures of crying children, mutilated soldiers or desert battlefields in order to illustrate the cruelty of war. Far from it! The changed behavior of all characters after the friends' returns tell more about wars' capability of changing someone's life, than anything else.

And the fact that the many dreams that these three friends had before they went to Vietnam didn't come true, because of their longing for recognition by becoming an acclaimed veteran can even pluck your heartstrings.

Cimino's great directing and the cast's awesome acting provide for a touching and honest drama about the friendship of a group of young men, that is destroyed by the Vietnam war.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Mystical, imaginative and fierce: A mature Miyazaki, 9 June 2005
8/10

Princess Mononoke is another fantastic, magical and profound piece of work of Hayao Miyazaki.

It takes you into a mystical world of Forest Spirits, ancient gods and despotic humans.

In the land around a mystical forest different tribes of humans combat each other in greed for land and resource. A tyrannic lady doesn't even shy away from destroying the old forest with its ancient gods and forest spirits with fire arms. A young prince tries to interfere and reconcile the tribes. He wishes that animals and humans can live together alongside. But the war has already developed its momentum.

Princess Mononoke is about the ancient conflict between humans and nature. Miyazaki embeds this story in a wonderful scenery, with all kinds of weird and mystical creatures. But in contrast to other Miyazaki-films is the style of Princess-Mononoke not that childish, the creatures and battles might be too scary and violent for under-13-year-olds, even though it's still animation.But the maturity of the film does good.

Especially in the first halt of the movie, Miyazaki once again delights us with beautiful pictures of a magical scenery and a great soundtrack.

First, Miyazaki shows us a beautiful and unspoiled forest and then we witness how human greed tries to destroy it. The presentation of such elementary contrasts works very good.

The main advantage of every Miyazaki film is, as it is also in Princess Mononoke, the ravishment of the spectator into a wonderful and visually overwhelming fantasy world, but exactly here lies a flaw of the movie. The coexistence of the ordinary villages and the mystical forest seems a little bit overdone at times. Particularly the role of gods and demons and their transformation into each other comes across a bit too confused and fantastic. Miyazaki concentrates too much on a spectacular as possible finale, so that the film totally looses its magically calm atmosphere in the end.

But anyway, Princess Mononoke impresses with beautifully breathtaking pictures an imaginative story and a great soundtrack.

30 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
A sensitive and compelling movie, wonderfully acted and pictured, 6 June 2005
10/10

It is really a pity that such a wonderful, compelling and important film, isn't able to get through to a bigger audience. But however.

"Los lunes al sol" is very calm and slow but all the more empathetic, touching and above all compelling.

The film shows the dull everyday life of a group of jobless deckhands, who try to get their lives back under control. One of them gets goes to job interviews almost every day, but gets refusal after refusal, because is too old. Another one has familial troubles because of his dismissal and another one drowns his frustration in regular boozing.

Despite the obvious socio-critical message of it, the film doesn't get polarizing or hostile to capitalism at any time, thanks to the terrific performances of all actors (above all Javier Bardem), and the sensitive script that particularly emphasizes the character's conflicts and their dealing with their situations. The note of the film is not a very political or even cynical one, it is very tranquil and melancholic. The actual brilliance of the film consists in the awesomely empathetic portrayal of the feelings of the jobless persons, that have to get used to the situation, that they are the scum of society from now on.

The beautiful soundtrack and the excellent editing and cinematography add to the sad but at times also hopeful atmosphere.

It's actually a great pity that no other film before has dealt with such an important issue that affects almost everybody's everyday life today.

Michael Moore could learn a lesson from Fernando León de Aranoa of how to combine social criticism and the affected person's fates. I wish there could be more films like this, that let you leave the theater with a comfortable feeling, but that give a thought provoking impulse at the same time.

Oldboy (2003)
17 out of 95 people found the following review useful:
Extraordinary, stylish, brilliant, but probably not appropriate for everybody, 4 June 2005
9/10

***Very minor spoilers***

This movie will (and it already has) split up the audience in two groups: One group, that will be totally impressed by the film, its script the exceptional editing and cinematography and another group, that will see no sense in this movie, only a succession of absurd and bizarre situations and scenes.

It may take a while to get used to the peculiar style of this movie. I think I would attribute myself to the first group, at least after I have watched "Oldboy" for the second time. I was even very impressed by it, but I have to admit that it was a little bit hard for me to get used to the movie's specific fashion. But I guarantee, once you've cottoned on to the style of it, you will love it!

One has to look at this movie as mixture of a piece of art and a complex thriller/drama. It is surreal at times, but not as much as David Lynch's films f.ex., because it absolutely has a continuous and coherent storyline, although several situations and the character's actions are a bit unbelievable at times, which is probably the biggest problem, that the objectors of this film have.

But the style, thus editing and cinematography are just awesome. The way, the director presents certain scenes by using stylistic features such as freeze images, special music and narrating instead of dialogues is marvelous, it breaks old customs, but it perfectly works. Especially the first half of the film is very stylish and terrificly edited, the second half of if is rather devoted to story and its twists. The sooner the ending comes the more brilliant the script and the twists are. And the denouement at the end will take your breath, but even if you watch the movie for the second or third time you will notice hints and things that you haven't noticed before, because they are not essential to understand the twist, but they show once again how great and sophisticated the script is.

So if you don't shy at peculiar and extraordinary Asian movies, go see it, you won't be disappointed.


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