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To the 2600+ feature films rated below add another 3000 titles to the list. I used to rate every film I saw on a notebook and I haven't taken to the task to transcribe it to Imdb yet.
The ranking is based on their appearance at the height of their beauty, which generally is somewhere between late teens and early 40s. And yes, the whole thing is highly subjective.
Note: don't always trust the profile pic Imdb chose
David thinks he's Damien, Danny and Kevin
This was truly an awful film, towards the middle I was mostly laughing. The plot was infinitely stupid and, as it's been said in the message boards, the script was in desperate need of a thorough rewrite. The characters were not convincing at all in part because they were so oblivious to this kid behaving really strangely right from the beginning (He was never scared! How could they fail to notice that? He looked as if he was on a boring school trip). No one was surprised he could draw like some professional comic book artist or that locked doors didn't stop him.
There's something called "suspension of disbelief", well, with this film it's not a suspension you needed it's an obliteration. The direction and the actors were OK, nothing outstanding, nothing outrageous. I liked the bird's-eye view of the snowy landscapes (reminiscent of Shining, like a few other things) until they started to get overused.
Whisper was like a serious version of Home Alone where Kevin the funny kid was replaced with Damien the satanic kid (from The Omen). A stunt that could have been pulled on South Park but didn't need a movie of its own.
Kung Fu Hardcore
In some ways, it was a memorable film. It wasn't noticeably good or shockingly bad, but it had a few unusual scenes that will certainly surprise and unsettle the viewer. It is not your regular kung fu flick even though it had it all: bad guys, good guys, fights between the two and humour between the fights. For one, it also had descriptive rape scenes. I can't remember a Chinese kung fu film with sex being shown in such a crude way, clothes being ripped off, breasts popping out, lewd smirks on the rapist face and ultimately, the victim's death.
That gave the film a startling and awkward contrast with the lighter scenes. A little after the sister of one of the lead characters died following a tragic chain of events, we see that same man, who seemed to be on a quest for revenge, playing around with the idea of going to a brothel with a monk. As this shows, the characters had little consistency -- and little cohesion too, even though Sammo Hung's character was supposed to be the hero, the perspective was shifting so much eventually that it felt difficult to isolate one character as the subject.
Bad guys received more and more screen time, secondary characters came forth while the lead wandered off. The only appropriate way to clear up this profusion of central characters was to have them all kill each other. And so is what the script did. Confrontations suddenly pick up speed, people die en masse, "patience", which virtually was the only reason holding back everyone to settle the scores is no more, thrusting the remaining characters into the grand finale, a somewhat intimate fight between the toughest and the nastiest characters, whose unrestrained sadism had been cultivated during the infamous rapes.
As if in response to these extreme scenes, the makers chose to end with another extreme, gory violence. Like it or not, it does feel fair, but fair as in a talion. Without these short sadistic bouts that seemed borrowed from American exploitation films of the time, it would have been a pretty unremarkable kung fu story. The fights, well-choreographed and using the classic animal postures dear to a long kung fu tradition, are however terribly choppy, to the point that you could easily time the moves "one-two, one-two" as they are performed. Iron-Fisted Monk is not a good kung fu film to start with, it is an oddity that will be met with greater interest by longtime B-movie amateurs.
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
Documentaries can do it, too
The directorial debuts of famous actors is a stunt that little interests me. There's a lot of young aspiring directors who are probably struggling right now to get that immense privilege and might never get it, regardless of their creativity and ideas. I can't help thinking those Hollywood stars are depriving them of some opportunities. Thus, I always wind up watching an actor's film with high skepticism and little hope, rarely finding my prejudices shaken.
George Clooney is a nice guy. Or at least that's how it feels on the other side of the screen. He doesn't always have great parts and I keep having nightmares of him in a Batman suit, but there's something about him that feels friendly. Naturally, that had no effect whatsoever on my prejudices: it was just going to be an actor's film. To his credit though, he didn't choose the easy way.
He picked a true, political-based story from a not-so-glorious era of the United States history and shot it in black and white. If this wasn't a risk-taking enterprise, I don't know what is; maybe his next film, Leatherheads, about a football team in the 1920s ? For these choices alone, kudos to Mr. Clooney. Rare are the filmmakers willing to explore some little-known periods or events of the past, especially when not backed by a best-selling book.
The film takes place in the mid-fifties, right when senator Joseph McCarthy was holding public hearings against anyone suspected of having sympathies for the communist party. This is taught at school, generally in one or few sentences. What I didn't know is how McCarthy's downfall came. And this is precisely what the film is looking at. One of the persons who raised the alarm against McCarthy's unruly methods and attacks on civil liberties was a CBS journalist called Edward R. Murrow.
Through his TV show "See it Now" he started to conduct a series of report questioning the legitimacy of these actions. Murrow was a brilliant speaker as you can judge by the few enlightened speeches scattered along the film, which are certainly all his. I found this and the archive footage, spread throughout as well, to be the most interesting. And that's the problem I have with Good Night, and Good Luck; the same result could have been achieved with a one-hour documentary, just putting together footages of McCarthy and Murrow's speeches.
Nothing else really matters, the subplots are so thin they're almost nonexistent. The relationship between Robert Downey Jr and Patricia Clarkson's characters is here just to fill the remaining space and the only thing you will really remember of it is that it was not allowed for a married couple to work at CBS. Same goes with the dealings between Murrow and his boss, played by Frank Langella. It's slightly better because there's a bit of tension, but eventually nothing comes out of it and it just looks like a filler. What about what happens to Don Hollenbeck ? Well, being from an event that actually took place, it would have fitted in our documentary alternative.
The direction was quiet, not very inspired, an actor's film in short, with the addition of the natural elegancy provided by black and white tones. You can barely say more of the actors. There wasn't a bad performance, there wasn't one outstanding either. David Strathairn was convincing and well cast, yet again his main task was to deliver Murrow's speech in a subdued, convincing way. This done, most of his job was done. I find it hard to imagine this film was an Oscar contender. It was a modest, unambitious production, using a feeble narrative to present documentary-like facts. It was instructive, both in the domains of history and TV production, and may well have been its sole real value.
Love Com (2006)
Yare yare... terrible !
Love Com isn't just an adaptation of the manga and anime Lovely Complex, it's a transposition, and this makes a whole lot of difference. The director tried to give the film the feel of an anime, but what may work with drawn characters just looks plain silly with real people; the tone, the attitude, the gestures, all were exaggerated, very cartoonish and utterly unconvincing. It didn't look like a romantic comedy - which isn't a bad thing per se - but like a sitcom, with a colorful but lackluster production design and cinematography. For a film shot in 35mm meant to be released in theatres, that's totally off the mark.
The actors, who were in their early twenties, played their characters not as the teenagers they were supposed to be but as children. Otani for instance, the male character, wore a pink cap askew, long shirts and gestured like an adult impersonating a small child. That was passably ridiculous. The female lead, Ema Fujisawa, wasn't particularly impressive either, she made a lot of useless, silly faces, stupid motions, giving the same impression as Otani, that of a small child in an adult's body. I haven't seen the anime, but just from browsing pictures, it seems obvious they gave an immaturity to their characters that wasn't there in the first place in an attempt to create some light, happy atmosphere.
Ema Fujiwasa was cute in spite of her big ears, she had a nice face and her acting skill was superior to that of her male partner (she did cry well). In spite of my different grips against the film, it's mostly thanks to her that the film is watchable until the end. Another reason is that it gradually gets a bit better, perhaps because Otani character is a bit less childish than at the beginning, perhaps because we get used to the overacting. Some of the humorous side characters, the teacher and Kunimi Maitake, were on the better side of things too. However I could not shake off the feeling I was watching a Japanese sitcom and not a motion picture.
It's a pity because the main idea was good, it was about human prejudices, the embarrassment and obstacles both sex may have to overcome if a man is dating a taller woman, perhaps felt even stronger in a rigorous society like Japan. That may seem a trivial theme but there was definitely something worthwhile to explore there, I'm sure however the manga and the anime did it better. One thing though that I must give credit to the film was to make use of the excellent song from Puffy, Ai no Shirushi (been listening to it when writing this). Too bad the song wasn't more inspirational to the film crew !