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It's All Gone Pete Tong (2004)
God is a DJ....but he's not real
Just for the record : even though we're informed at the very beginning of the movie that it's based on a true story, everyone who knows even a tiny bit about the dance music and club scene would find it fishy. The producers even went so far and created a couple of web sites about Frankie Wilde to fool the audience and attract extra attention to the film. So now that we've got that Frankie Wilde is a fictional character out of the way, let's get to the movie itself. After a brief word of praise for Frankie Wilde coming out of the mouths of some of the biggest DJ's and celebs, we're introduced to the life of debauchery and excess of the Ibiza superstar DJ, our dear Frankie. He's married to a woman leading the lifestyle much alike his, has a stepson of a different race, likes to swing and do drugs and alcohol in enormous quantities. But he's still on top, untouchable, and still a magnet to thousands of White Island's clubbers. Story is told in a form of intersects from people close to Frankie : his manager, the book writer and some more celebs and DJ's, they make an assertion and we get to see the segment right after. So Frankie eventually goes deaf from years of noise exposure and subsequently his marriage wrecks, the club scene leaves him behind and he's forced to start a new life - free of drugs and excess, learning to read lips and finding true love in a form of his ( also deaf ) teacher. Wilde goes out at the top of his game as he'd learned to feel the vibrations of the music through his body instead of plain hearing instrument, his ears. He plays one more gig, makes a killer track and....disappears from the public eye. The astonishing fact about "It's all gone Pete Tong" is it's gripping message. As a former DJ myself who knows what club music was before and the state of it now I can only give praise to the makers of the movie because between the lines there is a subtle message to all the clubbers and DJ's, sort of going back to basics word. It's not about the drugs, not about the alcohol, press attention or fame but about being in a club, feeling the vibe, feeling the bass going through your body, giving you shivers - it's a feeling of togetherness. All of those outside factors brought the scene to the today's low, with dance music being ridiculed by "serious" music journalists, reporters and fans. The acting is excellent with Pete Kaye as a lead lighting up the screen fighting his addictions and inner demons and finally finding the life's true meaning. The rest of the cast is not that important but doesn't do any wrong. Screenplay is sharp and directing floaty and impressive. If you're into dance music, clubs or just like British humor with a load of cynicism, don't't miss "Tongy". It's not Human Traffic but is not so far from it either....
Rodrigo D: No futuro (1990)
Interesting idea, lousy realization
After a long and, I have to admit, exhausting pursuit I finally laid my hands on a bad VHS copy of this old Colombian film about troubled teenage boys on the streets of Medellin slums. Highly recommended by quite a few people with similar taste in movies as mine, I was expecting a hidden gem, an accurate representation of everyday issues of youth life in a third world country's poor neighborhoods. Gee, what a shock it was to see this film has none of what I hoped to find in it. The title implies it should be about a certain Rodrigo, teenage school drop out growing up in a shanty town of Medellin with nothing but crime and aimlessness all around him, finding his only release in a dream of being a drummer in a punk rock band. If the director decided to follow Rodrigo's story, with an emphasis on his broken home and the reasons why he does ( or doesn't ) the things he does maybe the final result would've been at least an average motion picture. But instead of concentrating on Rodrigo's story and the gradual unfold toward his tragic ending, director Victor Gaviria goes with a stack of more or less uninteresting characters, grinding the storyline into incoherent pieces with no practical value for the viewer. I say uninteresting characters because we get to know absolutely nothing about them. Where do those kids come from? Where are their families? How in the world are they surviving? What is the reason for their apathy towards the world? The vague clues to those questions are placed here and there in course of the movie but they surely don't clarify the path those youths decided to take. Gaviria's piece has a lack of fundamental part in storytelling : humane characters. No matter of their nature, one as a viewer has to be able to understand their motivations, open the door into their lives to be able to comprehend it. You will get nothing of that in "Rodrigo D-No Futuro". The script is not in place either as I was struggling to keep my concentration until the very end. I have nothing against slow plots if they serve the purpose but this just drags on forever and one gets a feeling of pressing the eject button and throwing away this whole nonsense. From the 10th minute until approximately 85th you know nothing more than you did at the initial point. Just a perpetual motion on bunch of kids loafing around, wasting time, stealing vehicles, drinking, smoking pot..and listening to some really amateur, awful punk rock. What surprises me about "Rodrigo S" is a fact that supposedly it has a small, but devoted following among punk rockers and it doesn't even do the iconographic part of the job right. Since when do punk rockers wear t-shirts with swastikas?? I always thought punk rock movement is rigidly anti Nazism and I know for a fact that just a small outcast group of punk rockers( called skinheads ) embraced Hitler's ideology of hate. I don't know, maybe at the time when the film was made it was different in Colombia than here in the Western civilization. As I stated earlier, the characters are dispersed between limited screen time and therefore completely uninteresting since this should be a story about human lives, not a Steven Seagal flick where rationale does not matter. When the fateful events occur at the end of the movie you don't know what's going on nor why it happened. I've seen more than a few Latin American films that deal with the similar subject in a superior way ( Cidade de Deus, Pixote, 1st story of Amores Perros, Bus 174 ).... Gaviria's grave mistake with "Rodrigo" is not knowing what he wants the film to be : a pseudo-documentary with no content or a movie with documentary feel and no storyline??!! Whatever he had in mind did not work for me as I felt betrayed instead of touched as I should be. If you still want to see it go ahead but don't expect poignancy as you will not get it. "Rodrigo" could've been a much better movie if placed in the hands of a director with a vision, sensibility and dexterity of telling a story about unfortunate kids trying to swim in a hollow pool of nothingness...
Not recommended ( 4/10 )
The Ring Two (2005)
Boring and empty
I went to see Ring 2 just pro form, not expecting much from it. Even the first one wasn't that good IMO as it was a significant start of the pest called "let's make some money by remaking every single Asian horror movie we can get the rights to". The sole up side of Ring 2 would be a producers' decision not to go for another remake but instead the original script. However, that script proves to be weak, contrived and full of inconsistencies which makes it a tedious no-brainer. Naomi Watts and the kid are good but it's not nearly enough for a decent motion picture. The only ones who are really gonna love this film are teenagers whose mere purpose of going to the theater is to speak on their cell phones while "watching" a film and start a "i-can-scream-louder-than-you" competition. The Pg 13 rating tells you who they aimed it at. The Ring 2 is a huge step back for Hideo Nakata who lost a lot of my respect, specifically after I noticed he's behind a remake of "The Eye" as well ( that I know will suck big time ). Looks like Mr Nakata couldn't resist the $$$$$ call either..what a shame. If you want to see a real scary and well done horror with ghosts than try finding "Shutter" from Thailand and pray the vultures from Hollywood are not gonna ruin it with their lame remake.
Palabras encadenadas (2003)
If you get a chance make sure to pick up this small gem from a Spanish actress turned director Laura Mana. This movie is rather obscure and not that well known over here in America as some other titles made in Spain so it might take some time and luck to find it. But once you do, get ready for one of the best thrillers of the last couple of years. This is an example of great film making, a flick made with a low budget and only small number of actors. But oh boy, some fine ones. That especially goes to Dario Grandinetti in a role of a serial killer suspect. The only thing he admits of doing is an abduction of his ex-wife, as revenge of her lies in their divorce case...Is there any more to it? The game of cat and mouse has begun. Not to spoil the fun and give away too much all I'll say is : don't point your finger until the very end. In difference to the majority of newer US thrillers the script is superb without any plot holes and the story is sharp and witty. Mana treats the audience as people who know how to think, rather than serving every single little detail on a plate. Everything is there, you just have to find it. Original, intelligent, twisted and somber, even funny at moments - this is a film that has it all and I can only hope it will not get a Hollywood remake, Palabras Encadenas is perfect as it is. Believe me in that :)
Non ti muovere (2004)
not THAT great
First, I have not read the bestselling book by Margaret Mazzantilo on which the movie is based. As of what I heard by people who read it and saw the film, book beats the movie by far. The story is about an adulterous surgeon unsatisfied with his marriage and triteness of his upper class life that encounters love in a strange form of a simple, unattractive woman named Italia. What starts as a very weird form of purely sexual, let's call it, relationship ( including rape ) turns into something more and ends up as true, tragic love. It's also a story of guilt, redemption, and finding ones' place in life. The better side of this movie is definitely the acting. Penelope Cruz gives her best performance since her legendary collaborations with Pedro Almodovar. Too often stuck in a Hollywood trash, I was afraid Cruz lost her touch, but with Non Ti Muovere she's back with a vengeance. The roles of women on the margin of society suit her perfectly and again she reminds us that she's not just a pretty girl trying to make it big in America with her looks. The director and lead role Sergio Catellito ( Mazzantilo's husband in real life ) is excellent as well, but a notch below Cruz who steals the spotlight with her brilliant acting. Well known Italian actress Claudia Gerini in a role of surgeon Timoteo's difficult wife does the best with her limited on-screen time. My problem with Non Ti muovere is a complete lack of any sort of identification with the characters. All of them live their unfulfilled lives immersed in adultery, shopping sprees and luxurious parties but without finding the happiness they all long for. Sure, we see similar people every day on the street but they just don't have any internal qualities that we should commiserate for and therefore enter and leave our lives as pure strangers. The only character with a palpable soul is Italia but then again we don't get to know her as well as we should. Her troubled life and past is mentioned at few places but doesn't give any wider insight into her miserable existence. Castellito manages not to pass the feeling of contempt for doctor Timoteo to the audience but doesn't do much more than that either. His feelings are buried deep inside for the most of the movie and so even when he tries to be emotional it just doesn't leave an impression of being real. I have to be honest and admit that at times I felt I should've sympathized with one of the characters I couldn't go for more than neutrality. In a film like this one the audience has to feel the power of emotion to become a part of the movie and in that segment Castellito fails gravely, at least IMHO. However, I cannot do else but recommend it...if for nothing else then for Penelope Cruz. Her performance intrigued me so much that I'm on my way to a bookstore and this time I'm looking for a real, not tamed emotions.
After the Sunset (2004)
"After the sunset" is surely not a demanding film...and none of us expected to be one. Take Pierce Brosnan - a great showman and a guy with asense of humor, add sexy as she's ever been Salma Hayek, add Woody Harrelson in good form, top it off with decent screenplay that does not take itself too seriously or risk falling into pretentious or shallow territory and you have yourself a very entertaining little piece of movie-making. There's not much to discuss about After the sunset. It has a lot of funny moments, at times it's silly and implausible but you don't really have time to think about that. It's without doubt not the best movie Pierce, Salma or Woody have made, but it's far from the worst either. If you're looking for an hour and a half of casual entertainment with solid performances, script and directing go see it...you'll feel pretty good after you do :)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
One of the year's best
Clint Eastwood just won't give up. Like good wine, the older - the better, Clint just keeps delivering unforgettable moments to movie lovers willing to grasp his world of human heart. "Million dollar baby" is not a movie for everyone. Many people will see it just because the trailer looks like one of the sequels in "Rocky" franchise, the only difference for boxer being a girl. How wrong. The first half of this masterpiece gives us a graceful insight into the lives of our heroes, all carrying some sort of emotional/physical wounds. Just when you think the movie is slipping into cliché' territory of Mr. Eastwood makes a U-Turn and the next moment you're embarrassed for even coming up with the thought. Pure and simple this is a film about friendship, redemption, value of life, perseverance and above all love. Love in this film is stronger than religion, stronger than life itself, stronger than all the secular things. Eastwood shows us that love is God, however cruel his works may seem. Performances are pure brilliance : Hilary Swank shows once more that she is probably the greatest actress of younger generation. If there is justice, she will bag another Oscar. Eastwood adds such a depth to the thick-skinned but fragile Frankie Dunn that I cant't see anyone else doing it better. Morgan Freeman is exquisite as well. His soothing voice as a narrator and a mere glance at his face blows you away. For anyone who's looking for moving emotion in a movie and not just 2 hours of popcorn fun, this is a gem not to be missed. Back to back with "Mar adentro", "Million dollar baby" is the best movie of 2004!!!
13 Seconds (2003)
Coup de la Crap
13 seconds...I wish the lenght of this celluloid waste would be that much. It's really hard to find the words to describe this retarded and excruciating experience which is watching this piece of garbage. Whoever decided to release it should see the psychiatrist to administer the treatment until it's not too late. How this homemade nonsense made it to the Blockbuster shelves is beyond me. I'm a fan of cheap horror movies but I must say that I had never seen anything like this. The cover might look appealing, they even cite the awards this movie got so it's easy to take the bait and spend your 3 something dollars ( since it's a new release ) and expose yourself to this unbelievably bad and painful experience. Yes, it's so bad that even your $30 DVD player from Wal-Mart will beg for mercy. You can see what I am talking about right from the first take. It looks like it was shot on your dad's VHS camera from when you were a kid. The acting is so bad, take David Hasselhoff and multiply it by 10 and you'll about to get the impression. "The actors" look like a crew of hicks/alcoholics from the dump in the worst neighborhood of your city gone "creative" after the 6th pint. The performances are so horrible that I recommend it to every aspiring actor/actress with self esteem issues. I guarantee they will lose all the complexes and feel reborn after seeing 13 secs. "The posse"'s ( I just can't call them actors anymore, sorry ) expressions and gestures just make you wanna laugh...for the first 15 minutes. After that it's not funny anymore. Even further, I noticed this flick was dubbed so if you watch their lips closely you'll notice the words coming out of their mouths are very much out of sync. Oh yeah, that's sound engineering :))I have to admit I seriously wanted to see it until the end but my brain refused to stoop beyond the point of about 1h into this sewer opening. There are plain bad movies, there are movies that are so bad they're actually good but 13 seconds takes it to a whole other level. This must be one of the worst movies ever to get a release on DVD and hit your video store. Despite the feeling of self-guilt, I can just thank the authors for recruiting fresh faces into the movie industry. After seeing 13 seconds of "13 seconds" you will feel the sudden urge to make your own movie and say to your partner/parent/friend: "What???? Even I can do better than this!!!!". On IMDb scale of 1-10 this movie is a zero. To end it short and effective : coup de la crap!!!
waste of 8.75$ of my money...
After 45 min of watching this "superhero-wanna-be-feminist" crap flick i had enough and walked out of the theater!!The screenplay and dialog were atrocious-I have no words for it..This is not the Catwoman i knew from the comic books of my youth. The reported budget of 85 million is way over the top, especially since special effects certainly DID NOT cost anywhere near that amount. Heh, i guess the cast got their pieces of the pie. You can't expect much from Halle Berry in this type of role but worn out Sharon Stone ( as a bad girl ) and Benjamin Bratt ( as Catwoman's/Patience's love interest ) are so bad that they don't even deserve words. Above all those "minor" flaws, we have director from France who signs his films as Pitof :). Man, even I wouldn't be so stupid to hand 85 million bucks into the hands of an anti talent whose only and greatest achievement prior to this was horrendous french movie Vidocq ( friendly advice : don't see it ). All in all, I wasn't expecting much from Catwoman but despite all the bad critics decided to see it. What a mistake that was...Halle, if you see this post, show compassion and return my $8.75. That's the least you can do because time cannot be reversed....:(
Engine Trouble (2002)
now.. thats what i call a movie!!!
Just rented this fine Belgian film last night from "Blockbuster" and i refuse to return it back to them ;)... I love low budget movies especially masterpieces like this one. so here it goes... 2 " belgian" girls go out for a week of work free with a borrowed Jaguar from the 80's, gossip free vacation,then get stuck up in the middle of nowhere which is apparently two blocks away from their starting point. There they are introduced to the perfect family made of Junior ( also reffered to as "The Beast" or "The creature" ), his loving dad Robert and the maid ( old, always complaing b***h ). One of the girl friends ends with her head being chopped off by Junior's favorite toy, his sickle. Speaking of his "toy", dont let the cover of the DVD ( distributed in U.S. by ever great Artisan---oh thank you guys!!! ) fool you. Junior is NOT using the coal mining showel but the sickle given to him by the only person who ever felt for Creature's condition, his concerning dad. Since Robert is so full of care for his son he wants to make him a special birthday present - his mom, in shape of the surving girl. What follows is a brilliant display of fine acting, led by Bob Dougherty ( Robert ) who has a few memorable lines, especially explaining his son's doomed condition. The one we will surely never forget is when he gets irritated by one of the girls screams in the basement ( Junior's playground) : "Shut your trap"...."Shuuuuut up"...."I said shuuuut up"..."SHUT THE F******* UP". Oh, I can't leave out memorable lines as : "go on boy", "finish her boy", "that's a good boy", "my boy"!!!. Pay extra attention to how much emotion Bob brings into his scenes. Members of the Accademy surely missed on him two years ago, otherwise he would have an Oscar statue on his shelf already. Well let's hope we get to see more of him in the future so the voters won't be able to keep their eyes closed anymore. Another gleaming point is Cecilia Bergqvist whose name is printed on the Blockbuster's cover, right next to the film title ( Junior, Cecilia Bergqvist 2002. ), just like a star she surely is. Too bad the majority of us never heard of her before. Her acting brings that overwhelming feeling of happiness to each scene she is in. When she finally accepts the role of creature's mom her talent shines in all of it's magnificent light. Unfotunately she dies at the end...by Robert's hand who has taken his "boy"'s place after Cecilia tricked him and killed him. Actually I felt kinda bad for him, he just wanted to play. There's nothing wrong with that, right? All boys play, just with diff. toys :). So in short BUY the movie...u wont regret it