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Return to form for Besson, Li proves he is an actor.
This is far from a perfect movie but it is a a great action drama. For the first time since the professional we saw a glimpse of the writer who wrote the best action-drama ever. Unleashed is no professional but you can see some of the fine elements from it. How much more does the action matter when there is a character like Danny for us to feel for. A new family like Leon and Matilda to worry about.
Danny's pain of almost losing his new family makes for a martial arts film that raises the emotional bar. Hats off to Jet, Besson and everyone involved. It's not every film where you can comment on how brutal the fights were and then talked about how strong the emotional content was.
personal I have always known Jet Li could act and I would argue that he proved that in Kiss of the dragon but here is a film where it cannot be denied.
As for writer Luc Besson can he make the most hateful villains or what. The professional's DEA guy, the dirty cop in Kiss of the dragon but Danny's uncle played by Bob Hoskins is demonic. Way to go bob. Morgan freeman is great too of course.
Sure the story is ridiculous so what it's not the point. It's a story, it's fun. Enjoy this movie.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
So much better than gladiator
I am not a huge fan of gladiator and am sorry to see this film was not the hit for Rdiley as his last historical epic. KOH is just a much better film. Beyond that I felt it's message was important. The in case you are too unaware to know this the film ends with a reminder than there is still no peace in the holy land. I think it is great to show the roots of these conflicts a thousand years old.
Scott did a great job of balancing out the insanity between all parties involved. All sides of the crusades did in reality have there maniacs and there great leaders. How it is the maniacs who seem to still drive the conflict in Palestine today.
As far as film goes it was never boring, well acted and only lost one point with me for the fact that Bloom gave 3 braveheart style speeches to many.
The Brood (1979)
Boring early on but there is a huge pay-off.
Sometimes writers and directors just have to be given a chance to be boring. Some stories just can not give you the goods from beginning to end. The brood is a film that cannot put all the cards on the table right away. Cronenberg is as always exploring issues within the horror format that are usually ignored for simple baseless gore. While the plot is not going to make a lick of sense to someone without a dark imagination it is very inventive.
I can't say for sure but serious horror fans may note that the later half of this film could easily stand along many the stories in Clive Barker's books of blood. Cronenberg I think can take some credit in inspiring later works from the horror prince who would explore a lot of these issues with a little more supernatural zeal. Isn't great that Cronenberg played a serial killer for Barker in Nightbreed!
The film is slow out of the gates for sure but Oliver Reed puts in a strange and compelling performance as the weird doctor. Samatha Eggar was very brave in her performce as the brood's disturbed mother. While some of the scenes with the brood children alone in the world look silly like everything else in the film there is a pay-off in the last half hour.
If you give up early on this film you will really miss out because the last half hour is where cronenberg packs everything in. Truly vile gore, full on madness of characters and spine chilling terror for the daughter.
For serious horror fans only.
Near Dark (1987)
Original southwestern Vamp flick
There are actually 3 southwestern Vampire films( From dusk til dawn, Carpenters'Vampires), and Near Dark is the diabolical best. Features B- movie greats from Lance(frank black) H. to Tim Tomerson (Trancers and Dollman fame). Bill Paxton as usual steals the show with his over the top redneck vampire that looks strangely familiar to most of his other over the top redneck roles from the eighties.
The acting is all pretty well done for a film of it's budget, in fact everything is well done for a film of it's budget. The writers were going for western vampire crossover. When I watch this I reminded that westerns do not have to be period films. The wild bunch is not exactly in a traditional western time and Sean Penn's the pledge is very much a western.
I digress. Near dark is a excellent Vampire film that was written and directed with intelligence and despite's budget almost never falls into camp. While a there are few moments the sun just appears I will forgive the film.
For those who don't find the film scary they are failing to do the one thing that makes horror films scary. You must put yourself in the shoes of the characters. More on that in the spoilers section of this review.
Near dark succeeds on every level for me, above all it never fails to entertain. Highly suggested for horror fans of discernible taste.
Imagine for one moment you were just some redneck hanging out playing pool at a bar. Jessie and his crew of Vampires come in. They bully people and then kill the waitress and drink her blood. Yes you would scared, or if you were the main character when he discovered his sister in the hotel room. Yeah you would be freaked. Good stuff.
Bad acting should not ruin a excellent horror film
No horror film,novel or story is scary unless you are willing to imagine yourself in the shoes of the characters. Name a movie that would be more terrifying to be a part of I dare you!
Who was it was said the most important part of directing is casting? Let me say just I as a life long fan of all things horror I enjoyed SAW, bottom line was the that had the acting not blown ass the reviews would have been very different. I gave SAW 6 out of 10 had the acting been pitch perfect I think people would have been carried out of the theater.
Saw seems to now be racking up negative reactions which I think could have been avoided if we factor in a few things.
1).Hype. This film had a lot of hype. People were convinced that they were going to see that most frightening film in years so expectations were super high. I think if this had quietly been released limited or straight to video
and the word spread by word of mouth the effect would have been better for the people watching, That is scary for studio and no one would gamble like that, however it would've had less expectations.
2).This was a low budget horror film not 'The hours' when everyone complains about the acting I have to wonder what there favorite horror movies are? The two men behind this film are clearly planted on the coat tails of Dario Argento and his brutal films. Argento has made some of the best horror films ever and not single one of them contained a good acting performance! While I admit It hurt a film that was so dependent of psychology, Acting doesn't ruin all horror films.
3).People need to realize how hard making a movie is and remember that saw is a film by a first time director on a low budget. He may have wanted to take more time to film multiple takes of (which could have given Cary Ewles a chance to not suck) scenes. He was probably under pressure to get things done fast and in budget.
*Spoiler* 4).Try this explain to someone who is not in to horror movies the reverse trap scene. Explain that to save her life she would have cut open a person who was drugged on the floor to find the key to the contraption that was seconds from splitting her head apart. Twisted, look at the faces of the people you tell it to!
I thought the writing was amazing, which only makes the weakness of the directing and acting so much more painful. I think in the hands of a larger budget and more experienced director this could have met all the hype and more. Instead we are left with a slightly better than average low budget horror film.
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
More Somber than humor really. and yes blame bowling
Bowling for columbine
As the early reviews of F.9/11 started to come in we heard many times that this was a more subdued Moore that he had toned down for the subject matter. After re-watching BFC I would have to say this was true of this film as well. While conservative pundits and the insane people who think Bush actually did a good job will try to discredit Moore at every turn- don't believe it.
I don't always agree with Moore, his views on Fast food, mumia and faith in the American public seem misguided. As a Gun owner I don't feel threatened by this film. Moore asks important questions about American insanity.I feel he is not wanting to look at the real reason behind the insanity Free market capitalism and American imperialism. Sure he touches on it but perhaps that is another film.
This last time I found the fact that Marilyn Mason had better come to grips with school shootings than just about anyone else was interesting. No one blamed /Clinton and his use of Violence. Violent video games, films and music are in all these countries with less gun violence.
America is the one with the gun violence it is also the one with the violent foreign policy track record going back oh since the country existed. America is the one with the biggest gap between the rich and poor, with the least insured in the first world. Important questions.
Al Franken said something important about the difference between liberals and conservatives it can be seen in the reaction to this film and Moore's other work. Conservatives love America like a 4 year loves it's mommy. Liberals love America like an adult. Willing to look at it's problems. Well I am no liberal, and I hate conservatives. That makes me radical that is glad at least Moore gets the issues on the table.
Mou gaan dou II (2003)
adds emotional weight as any prequel should
Internal affairs 2
As a fan of the first film I was interested to see what Andrew Lau did with this prequel. I am generally a fan of his films even less popular films like avenging fist and Man called hero. IA 1 showed a mature sense of direction that Got the eye of one of America's greatest gangster film directors( Martin S.) to buy the rights. If the on screen reuninion of Brad Pitt and Ed Norton happens in the American version of IA I wanted to see the prequel that would follow.
I was not disappointed by this film in the least. It was a worthy prequel and did for me the essential thing that prequels exist for, adding emotional weight to the story we already know. Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang are great as well as the actor who played Hau. Despite the two young male leads gracing the discs , they were not the center of this story.
I know I will be flogged in the film geek world for admitting this but I have never watched the godfather films. So maybe it was to close to the second godfather but it didn't other me. Watch this film, Great crime drama.
Before Sunset (2004)
Good but For Arthouse romance, Twilight Samurai all the way
My wife and I basically cut this deal the other day. She picked a romantic movie and I picked one. Over two days we would watch them. With both picked films that either were playing at the art house or had played there at one time. She had picked Before sunset and I picked Twilight Samurai. For that reason I will have sadly and unfairly compared the two films.
Before sunset is a romantic comedy that is basically an experiment. Two one night stand vet's reunite after 10 years and we watch there 80 minute conversation in real time. The direction and acting pull off this concept in a way that works. (Spoiler in the next paragraph) The conversation flows, and Julie d.'s character is worth falling in love with, imagine many people watching did as well. Ethan Hawke's character I am not so sure about, He loves his kid. Is it fair that he feels this way when he has wife back in New York. Maybe she is unhappy about the marriage maybe she is not.
For my indie romantic dime I would have to stay with Twilight Samurai. TS is a film whose love story is charming, sweet and more importantly Guilt free.
Tasogare Seibei (2002)
10 out of 10, Yeah it is that awesome.
I don't have a top ten list of all time favorite films but if I did Twilight Samurai would be on it. Nominated for best foreign film the same year that the Hollywood film the last samurai got a few nominations it is impossible not to compare the two. While I enjoyed the Last Samurai and it's message of questioning western cultural imperialism Twilight Samurai is a film on whole different level.
LS is a bloated Hollywood epic that delivers intense battles with huge numbers and a unrealistic unsatisfying bullshit love story. Do we really believe that the woman who lost her husband to Tom Cruise the smelly drunk white would fall in love with him?
Twilight Samurai is the opposite in everyway and in everyway it is a better film that is bound to move to tears the hardest of yall out there. It is the story of a petty samurai who after the long lingering death of his wife finds himself become a devoted father.
When Twilight comes and the other samurai go out to drink, he rushes home to clean the house, tend the field and care for his daughters. He has lost track of his imagine, he smells and all he cares about is what is best for his daughters.
When his childhood crush returns and revolution looms this petty samurai is forced into confronting his status as a samurai. Unlike last samurai the small battle between two samurai's at the end is more emotionally involved that any CGI enhanced battle could ever be. The romance in the film is so sweet, tender and believable that is makes the film special.
This could not be as special as it is without excellent acting, direction and above all writing. Holy crap see this movie.
Naechureol siti (2003)
Conflicted feelings,is worth a rental.
While Natural city gets often compared to blade runner, I think it is a comparison is not quite fair to Blade runner. Don't get me wrong I don't think NC is a bad movie, but it is not the ultra paranoid Phillip K dick style future noir. The film looks great and shows a dirty, unhappy view of korea's future like Blade runner.
I admit I got a little lost and bored at times but the film has great visuals and for the most part the story is a interesting take on cyborgs robots and the like. The gun battles and the various martial arts action scenes were well done(except for a minor overuse of Slo-Mo).
Worth a rental. If you're a Sci-FI addict it should be on your list.