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December Boys (2007)
Heart-warming unique human story
I've seen a lot of movies, from Hollywood to Bollywood, jumping countries and continent, mixing comedies and dramas, actors and amateurs, but I have never seen a movie where I knew that even though it would be sad ending, I would feel happy about it, knowing the characters in the film will always be happy.
Where to start...the acting was simple and brilliant. You could not ask more of children this age. Daniel Radcliffe also shone in this role, and I am always delighted to see his movies (he is truly an inspiration for people who want to do good in this world). The scenery is gorgeous. A rocky cove in a corner of Australia, away from civilisation, with power-lines turned on by generators, and sand-dunes and old cars to play on. Simply put, the simple things in life we now take for granted and shun, because we have our iPads and computers, cars and video games. We have forgotten the feeling of brotherhood, of looking out for each other, of enjoying the simple things in life, of fighting but reconciling in the end, of the merit of good deeds that, even when they are hard to make, come back to you in a good way.
There is not one criticism I would make of this film. It is a film about growing up and making hard choices, about loneliness and a sense of belonging, about friendship, brotherhood, first love and lost, family, parenting, good life skills. Anything you want, this movie offers.
Do not believe a word the critics say. I haven't, and I was absolutely delighted by this movie. If you have a heart and are a human being, you will too. And after you have wept in tears of joy about the beautiful melancholy and serene sense of purpose this movie guides you to, you will then recommend it to your friends, and the words of love and life will spread.
100 out of 10!
The Last Kiss (2006)
A film that gets there but not quite yet
THIS REVIEW SHOULD BE READ BY THOSE WHO'VE ACTUALLY SEEN THE MOVIE There are a lot of films that deal with mid-life crises in their own ways. Some come out great, some totally miss the point. But every now and then a film tries, and falls short. This is "The Last Kiss".
What the writers and the director did for this movie pretty much reflects what the Zach Braff character said at the end of the movie, where the couple should at least try to make things work. I think that's what this movie tried to do as well.
It's unfair to compare movies, therefore I won't go there. But this movie itself, was missing something. Maybe it needed to be longer, maybe it needed to a series, or a 2-part movie in order to delve into the characters and their issues a little bit more, but I feel like with the set-up they gave us at the beginning of the movie, this film could have done a lot more, had there been more time for it to do. It could have been better, because it had the potential but for whatever reason, the movie length was that length, and the choice of words coming out of Zach Braff's mouth (awful, just absolutely awful) were those words.
This movie dealt with a good theme, and good initial story-lines but failed in its premise, and became too "movie-like" and less "real-world" if you know what I mean. This is an important point because that is what the movie was aiming at.
And so for that reason, I'll give it a 2 out 4 stars. RIP Roger Ebert.
This a masterpiece that only the likes of Martin Scorsese can pull through. He usually does more violent and 18+ type movies, but it is about time someone celebrated the beginnings of the cinema, and who better to do it than one of the best directors of our time! A beautiful story, based on a historical fiction book, this movie explores the life of George Méliès, who, after World War I, went into darkness. His movies no longer wanted, he burnt his brilliance and became a shopkeeper at a railway Station in Paris, living his life no longer in reality, but only in his dreams. A sad man whose brilliance was forgotten. And this is where a little boy by the name of Hugo Cabret comes in to change his life forever.
I strongly suggest anyone who is remotely interested in beauty and untainted art to have a go at this movie. It really warms your heart. You do not need to know anything from the background of this story. I didn't, and I was immersed in the wonderful story, which felt like a painting to me, that only directors such as Scorsese, and actors such as Christopher Lee, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer etc. can pull through. Not to mention the 2 lead actors, the two children that portray the innocence of this story we desperately desire in our time. We need more stories like these. Not gruesome, and full of blood, and dried up skeletons, but magical movies that take you places! My grading: 4.5/5
Que reste-t-il de nos amours?
A film about Irish Murdoch, renown British writer, who of Alzeihmer's and old age died. This is predominantly a story about love. Irish Murdoch marries John Bayley and they live a life together, until she dies. Rather simple, and rather straightforward. No surprises in this movie, and yet it is very beautiful one. One would think that to love is beyond words. But not for Iris. Her life evolved around words, and she famously said: "Without words, how can one think?" and yet she lost the ability to speak and think the way we do as she grew old. A rather ironic turn of events. But the story needed to be told. The love of John Bayley for Iris, throughout their young years until their old age was one that needed to be told. It goes without staying that with the heavy stardom of this movie, with the likes of Kate Winslet, Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent, acting is superb throughout. Take for example the scene where John& Iris return from the house of the man who was not the chosen by Iris as her boyfriend. John is rather disappointed that he has not read Iris' new book and says so as they walk back through the sunny street. Iris then turns on the threshold of her house, with a look of fear in her eyes, and doubt, and this is beautifully played. Or during the rather touching moments of John swimming in the ocean with his clothes on. What is more funny and cute than that, that shows love and simplicity and the joy of life?
For the faint-hearted, this may bring some tears to your eyes, and for the rest, apart from the imbeciles that would actually not like this movie (not the ones that'd get bored, that I may understand) but who'd genuinely not like it, well, that is your problem, because a story has never been so nicely played out in its simplicity and with little words, in contrast to Iris' prolific writing.
No reason to put stars for this movie, we are not in class anymore. Go see it! You will not be disappointed, and you will love it!
Lost: Happily Ever After (2010)
This episode is simply wonderful. Breath-taking. Absolutely cool. Not keeping you on the edge of your seat, but definitely on the verge of shouting: I've seen that. I know what that means. Or wait, SERIOUSLY? Very entertaining, and very...LOST-like. In fact, on the few LOST episodes, where without saying much, the producers have managed to let us join the ride and just enjoy it. It doesn't answer many questions, but it explains, or rather, puts a different spin to the flash-aways, and the characters, and how all of this is somewhat related.
I don't know about you guys, but I predict a grand finale coming on soon. Something over the roof.
Revolutionary Road (2008)
You don't have to have everything...just something
Revolutionary Road is the story of a couple in the suburbs of Connecticut. April (Winslet) is an aspiring actress whose dreams had never worked out, and is now a stay-at-home mom and wife. Frank (Dicaprio) is the man of the family, supporting his wife and kids with a job he hardly likes and a life he finds, in his own moments of pure bliss "hopeless emptiness". Other characters are also of vital importance in this movie and add so much depth to it. There is John (Michaeal Shannon), a "supposed" not-well i.e. mentally insane person who is the son of next-door neighbours Helen& Howard Givings (Bates& Easton). There is also the war-time veteran friend of Frank, whose name I miss, and his wife, which seem, but are not really happy.
Story goes that the main couple had dreams. Frank wanted to see the world and live in Paris, and April wanted to become an actress. Frank wanted to feel emotions, and maybe that is why April married him. April saw in Frank a man who could live out his life the way he wanted, and she could follow suit.
However, things don't turn out well, dream-wise. April and Frank end up having kids, moving to the suburbs an empty life. Emptiness and shallow, and as John puts it so vividly and truthfully in front of them, they should feel sorry for themselves because they had not followed their dreams, like they had promised, though never said, they would. Dreams take hold of them, and they grow apart. Both have affairs, are cold to each other, and say terrible things to each other and make terrible mistakes which they can't get back. Things turn for the worse when April, in a bid to free herself of the life she supposedly hates, performs an abortion on herself. The family falls apart. Frank moves out of the neighbourhood, and is now spending as much time as he can with his kids.
What strikes me in this movie is the realism of the past it portrays. These people are only 50 years or so away from us. They have cars and speak the same language and feel the same emotions, but at times seem distant, as for eg the way women are treated then. Yet at other times, they are so close to home, with the same social problems that couples nowadays have. Affairs. Kids. Emotional upheavals due to work. Neighbours and friends being...just neighbours...and friends, as in putting their own interests in front of yours for the sake of friendship and selfishness. And what happened to us wanting to be big and make a difference in this world? It is all gone? Families are torn apart. Can we be happy? Can we go on?
The answer is simple. Of course we can. Because that is what we do. We live. We die. The cycle goes round and round. We have problems. We deal with them. We think wisely. We educate ourselves. We deal with them. We rationalise, because in my opinion, that is the only way forward. And if we can't achieve our dreams, it is all right. We live by what we have, by the kids we are bringing up, and trying new things and doing things out of the ordinary. Heck, you don't have to go to Paris to live. You just have to live with yourself and the ones you love, and only then they would mean the world to you, and the rest of the world mean nothing. This is I think what the message of the movie is. You try so hard to reach your dreams, and you get confused along the way. You hurt the ones you love, because you think they don't understand. But if you life, then life opens up to you. You become happy, just like Frank did at the end of the movie with his smile, watching his kids of the swing. Though not not extremely happy, or laughing his head of, he was content. I am not saying that is how one should lead one's life. I am just saying that if we are dealt a certain card in life, we should handle it to our best, and in my opinion, that would make us happy.
Brilliant performances by Leo& Kate, and Michael Shannon, and all the other actors& actresses. Leo& Kate give so much depth into their characters that at times, it is very hard to read what they are about to say or do. Honestly, who would have thought April would go on with the abortion at the end of the film? I personally thought: either, she is going to commit suicide, or talk it out with Frank, or live out the rest of her life like that, the "perfect" household wife. Her resoluteness during the breakfast scene (perfectly played out) made me wonder whether she'd whoop out the knife the moment Frank pulled out of the driveway.
Music brilliant. In stark contrast to the horrific scene before and after April's abortion. I'm not an expert on decorations, but I believe the 1950s suburbs was nicely shown here.
A brilliant movie to watch& watch again. Good talking points and good education, because that is how we move forward. We educate ourselves on problems we have or might have, so that when situations come, we know how to handle them responsibly. And trust me, those scenes from the film are real. And they happen to everyone of us. If they haven't, just you wait and see.
9/10 for this movie. I felt the smoking scenes were just a bit too obvious here. But that's just my opinion. Again, education.
Battle in Seattle (2007)
Of important relevance to this day...
No movie is perfect. Some are idealistic, otherwise are just b-s. Not this one. There's actually a bit of both in this movie, with a very nice blend. Here goes the critique.
The movie is about the non-violent protests of Nov-Dec 1999 in Seattle, which hosted the WTO conference that year. By then, the WTO was not meeting human standards of ethics, meticulously drawing out all resources towards profit making, while undermining labour rights, animal rights, and basic human rights, all under the banner of free trade (what does that even mean in this world anyway?)
Anyhow, a band of well-organised protesters, along with the thousands of labour protesters in Seattle (and across the world) join in to protest WTO's actions. Needless to say, authorities, scared for their own jobs, turn violent on the protesters, and from then on, they had lost. This was no longer a protest for human rights of people in far away countries, but the freedom of speech of those protesting themselves, fighting for what they believed in. A better world.
The acting is marvelous. Hendersen, Rodiriguez and all the other actors pull this thing off quite naturally and to the point. The story is easy to follow, simple yet deep. It's about human lives and how they unfortunately, not through their own hands, but because of "the untouchables" way up whose decisions wreck the lives of millions, whilst putting on a mask of democracy on their faces.
The relevance of this movie is absolute for all those nations fighting for their basic human rights of freedom of speech, and freedom to gather. You can easily draw a straight line between those agro- industrial CEOs up to the fanatics in Iran today, and Mahmood Ahmadinejad, along with Khamenei, and the entire corrupt Iranian government, killing people in the streets who are just asking for their votes to be counted. They will not win, as long as people keep fighting.
The music is marvelous as well, with classics, such as the National, and many more. A must see movie for all those people wanting a better world!
And one more thing. Only in America can a movie like this be made. Even better, only in America can people exercise their freedom of speech to the fullest. They may get beaten, jailed, and even tortured, but the Constitution still holds true and beautiful.
Only in America...
In the Valley of Elah (2007)
Now we're getting somewhere
In a land of freedom of speech and human rights, it seems pretty odd and ironic that movies like this are only starting to trickle out. It surprises me that the laws sent down by the Founding Fathers only seem to apply to Americans on American soil. If you apply them to other human beings on the face of this planet, you are deemed un-American. That is to say, if you think torture and going to war for no reason against a country that never attacked you, but you did, is a crime, which it is, then you are the one that does not understand. You are the one who is un-American and what you say is subversive.
I love the United States of America. I love the freedom that the country stands on and hopes for. But I do not understand why that freedom is theirs to give by force and to take. They are the ones who choose who gets to die or not just because they have the guns and money to do it. Isn't this just absurd? I guess now you know my stance about this movie. Again, I like this movie but am surprised and simply disgusted that this type of freedom of expression is only starting to come out. People are only starting to realize that they made unamendable and appalling mistakes, supporting by a majority a stupid President with his stupid administration to go to war. Then again, it's not as if they knew what they chose it is? The media only showed one side of the story, and propaganda was everywhere. This helped the government recruit support, while the few people who had a small set of intelligence and spoke out where never given the spot light, or if they were given for a short time, they were overwhelmed by uneducated parrots who blurted out what had been repeated to them over and over again on TV.
I love America. But not this America. What has happened to this country? What has happened to its people? What has happened to its principles? Why are they not being followed? Why didn't anyone notice this before? I am too disgusted to give a more well-thought through review, because I can't stand thinking about all this any more. All I can say is hopefully more movies like these will come out, and more people will start to realize the crimes they committed and bring to trial those who committed them.
The Savages (2007)
An honest beautiful piece of art
It's rare form of art that only occasionally sees the light of day in Hollywood. With only a few words and simplistic (or should I say simple) events, a whole range of emotions are portrayed in this movie, and I can't help but feel that "we've all been there" feeling. I mean, who hasn't spent a day or even more with a member of a family without uttering one word to him/her? Who hasn't gone irritated over stupid trivial things such as pillows and flowers and overreacted? Most of the time, it's the loved ones that are close to us that get the whole punch in the face from this, and ironically, they're not the ones that can help. Consider this scene. Hoffman finds out that his sister Linny has been lying to him about his grantsmanship seven or eight times in a row, and she takes the situation at the wrong end and strikes back by saying that he has no business butting in her private life. "Policing" is a very good word. When has that not happened in a typical family? Teenager: Oh! Mom! You're ruining my life! Stop it! Just stop!
It all starts from childhood, and it grows on you while you don't. You just stay that emotionally insecure child who lacked affection and retaliates by not seeking it once grown up, or not giving it. Emile Zola once wrote: We are all the images of our parents. I should add to that quote siblings as well. And that's true no matter how you look at it. They're the ones we spend most of our time with, the ones we get the most mad at, the ones we want to get rid of our lives and once we have the FINANCIAL abilities (note that it's only the financial one that gives us a presumed power to act as we will, while we lack other obvious abilities), we separate from them. But could we have lived without them? Could we have learned about life and love without them? If love lacks there, it's going to lack for the rest of our lives, and only an emotional upheaval of great proportion can switch that little light bulb in our head and tell us: Stop and Stare! Look at yourself! No matter how hard you have tried, you are the spitting image of your parents!
Is there a way to get out of this? No. Is there a way to live with this? Yes. How is that possible? Just like it's possible for a mother to love a child, it's also possible to love another, and most importantly love yourself.
Anyway, there's whole spectrum of ideas that come out this movie, which is again, a beautiful piece of art.
O Jerusalem (2006)
A hard subject, a story about love
I first and foremost am a man for peace, no matter on what side you may consider me after this review. For me this is truly a story about love. A love between two friends, a love between and Arab and Jew of course, and yet a brotherly love between two human beings. Aren't we all human beings? Shouldn't we all be destined to love each other. This is also a story of choices. The choice of the Arab main character (Said) either to let his American friend (Bobby) die, or save him. And he made the right choice. The choice of the same Arab to shoot his friend and yet again, he made the right choice. The same goes of course to the American main character. Sadly, others made lesser right choices. I may just be referring to the themes of this movie, but regarding this aspect, and only this side of a truly complex subject, where the line between right and wrong and guilt and innocence is so blurred now hardly anyone can set foot on this subject without being accused of extremism b by side or the other...and the themes are in my opinion well portrayed. Love. Friendship. Bravery against all odds when others are making the wrong choices, taking up guns and fighting a battle they have already lost at the hands of the colonial powers. Because let's face it. This is neither the Arab's nor the Jew's fault. It is the fault of a coward colonial power who only decided to save its own neck and buy unloading itself of the Jewish lobby it has been carrying around for the past decades, and not look back one second to the chaos it has brewed. It has even gone as far as "abstaining" from the vote. Hypocrites. But the movies shows it all. From both sides. Although I am not acquainted with the history, I get the feeling that the story is genuine and true. That this is what really and sadly happened, which brings us to the present day situation where nothing has changed and everything has worsened.
The most powerful scene for me is of course the last scene so powerfully played. Bobby knew she was going to die and she knew she was going to die, and so did everyone else around them. Yet, he still decided to marry her. A selfless and truly heroic act. One that would fill the world with wonder if other people had but a trickle of it.
This movie can't deserve a score. It does not deserve a score. To give it a score would be to limit to to a few acting criteria, some special effects, or other cinematographic jumbo I can't get my head around. But my review is more about the themes of the movie itself, which was awe-inspiringly portrayed.
So give it whatever you want. Personally, I loved it!
Finding Neverland (2004)
Great movies come in simple packages
You don't computer graphics, crime scenes or sex scenes to make a great movie. Beauty is great in its own true essence and when simplicity pairs up with it, what you get is a heart-warming moment to cherish and love. Finding Neverland truly is a journey for everyone who watches it, where for a glimpse of a moment, you experience innocence and the youth now lost to many. You don't have to be sentimental to appreciate this movie, you just have to feel when you look upon the tears streaming down those beautiful young faces(which I believe are absolutely genuine and truly heart-felt). You just have to feel when simple words no more understandable to you than to children move them in such a way that you seem entranced and pause for a moment, wondering where their emotion came from and why you don't feel the same. This is because innocence and youth know nothing but joy and beauty. You just have to feel...
As for the acting and screenplay, all wonderfully fulfilled, each person bringing in the essence of what is required to their character, be it the sternness of a overly-preoccupied yet passionate and caring aging mother, or the sorrow of a mother of four who would sacrifice her own health to bring the best of happiness into her family. As for the main character, which I believe in my point of view, are the ones played by Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore (aka Peter), they bring to life the very meaning of J.M. Barrie; that is to say, anything is possible if you believe.
I would give it a 9.5/10 (the deduction for the small bores at the beginning of the film) and strongly recommend it for those who believe sentimentality and emotions are too benign and childish for them. Remember, isn't that what Julie Christie's character, or the audience of the opening night first believed?