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Wolf Creek (2005)
Incoherent Substandard Film
***MAJOR SPOILERS*** This film had a creepy premise and great potential. However, the whole film is ruined when the heroine is killed. At this point, the audience must wonder where this film is going. It has broken with genre at this point by depriving audiences of the cathartic killing of the mass murder; it has also disallowed any possibility of a happy ending.
The damage is furthered by the bizarre ending. The last of the three kidnapped people escapes where, we're told, he relates his story to authorities. But hold on: he was litereally crucified in a cave. How could he have known what was going on? The moment that it becomes clear that the whole film was his version of events, the internal logic falls apart... Howe could he have known any of the events that happened? We're told this is a true story, but at the same time, no living person could have ever known what had happened IF IN FACT anything did happen.
Suspicions remain as to whether the one who escaped in fact didn't kill the other two. So what was the purpose of the entire film? All the intensely horrific torture scenes were in fact the fantasies of the filmmakers since no one could have ever recounted them. The one and only witness was unable to recount anything that happened to his two friends.
The viewer is left wondering why he sat through this abomination. Please don't waste your time unless you are a serial killer or sadist.
The Sheltering Sky (1990)
Advice to women: don't marry a guy like John Malkovich. This means, some smarmy guy in love with nothingness who wants to wander around North Africa with no destination, who has a questionable sexuality and who gets it on with wild Berber women at night. You'll end up lost in Africa, raped by Dervishes, and other bad things will happen too.
The cinematography is beautiful and the colors and people come alive in this film. Malkovich's love to his wife is the only thing keeping him in the land of the living and that love is increasingly in question. A third person enters into the picture, an American called Tunner, who follows them around no matter how hard Malkovich tries to shake him.
At one point Malkovich takes desperate measures to get rid of him, even though Tunner has Malkovich's passport. But it seems inevitable that his wife will betray him with Tunner. He is fighting a doomed battle. Holed up in a French foreign legion base, Malkovich succumbs to typhus and his wife ends up hitchhiking in the Sahara. Refusing to betray her husband's memory, she refuses to meet Tunner even after having returned to civilization.
A cautionary tale for all young women who are looking for a suitable companion.... and an interesting film.
Chinese Box (1997)
Simplistic movie, but worth watching
The players in this film, Ironsd, Li and Cheung, all have symbolic roles.
Gong Li represents Hong Kong. She is a whore that every man wants.
As someone even says in the film; "Hong Kong is a whore and now it has a new pimp".
Irons represents, of course, Britain, and doesn't have long left, symbolized by his having cancer. Irons tries to win over Li, but to no avail. The handover is happening and nothing can stop it.
Maggie Cheung (in a great and convincing performance) is the jilted lover, the part of Hong Kong that has been tricked by Britain's promises of democracy and a western way of life.
When Maggie meets her former lover, the Brit doesn't even remember her... it is a poignant and believable moment.
Irons is a bit flat but Gong Li is a simmering sex goddess. Perfect for her allegorical role.
Just Cause (1995)
One weird trip
JUST CAUSE showcases Sean Connery as a Harvard law prof, Kate Capshaw (does she still get work?) as his wife (slight age difference) and Lawrence Fishburne as a racist southern cop (!) and Ed Harris in a totally over the top rendition of a fundamentalist southern serial killer.
Weird casting, but the movie plays serious mindf** with the audience. (don't read if you ever intend to seriously watch this film or to ever watch this film seriously due to the spoilers) First of all, I felt myself rolling my eyes repeatedly at the Liberal stereotypes: the cops are all sadistic and frame this black guy with no evidence. The coroner, witnesses and even the lawyer of the accused collaborate against him (he is accused of the rape and murder of a young girl) because he is black.
Connery is a Harvard law prof who gives impassioned speeches about the injustices against blacks and against the barbarous death penalty. He is approached by the convicted man's grandmother to defend him and re-open the trial.
Connery is stonewalled (yawn...) by the small town officials and the good IL' boys club but finds that the case against Blair, the alleged killer, now on death row, was all fabricated. The main evidence was his confession which was beaten out of him.
The beating was administered by a black cop (!) who even played Russian roulette to get the confession out of him. Connery finds out that another inmate on death row actually did the murder and after a few tete a tetes with a seriously overacting, Hannibal Lecter-like Ed Harris, he finds out where Harris hid the murder weapon.
He gets a re-trial and Blair is freed.
I think... film over....
Then suddenly! It turns out that Blair IS a psychotic psycho and that he used "white guilt" to enlist Connery. He concocted the story with Ed Harris in return for Blair carrying out a few murders for Harris.
now Blair is on the loose again, thanks to Connery's deluded PC principles! The final 30 min. are a weird action movie tacked onto a legal drama, Connery and Fishburne fighting the serial killer in an alligator skinning house on stilts (yes, you read that right) in the everglades.
That was one weird film.
So the whole system is corrupt and inefficient, the cops are all just bullies and Abu Graib type torturers, but the criminals are really psychotics and deserve to fry.
Truly depressing on every level! The system is completely rotten and the PC white guilt types who challenge it are seriously deluded too.
Two thumbs down. Connery obviously had to make a mortgage payment or something.
After the Sunset (2004)
After the sunset
I have a great love of films that involve someone beating the odds then walking off into the sunset with a bloated dufflebag full of money.
SUNSET is exactly that. Brosnan plays a professional thief who walks off into the sunset, namely the Caymans, after stealing a diamond from FBI agent Woody Harrelson. of course, once in the Caymans, Brosnan who is so cocky and so cooler-than-thou, as we are made aware by his constant smirking expression, is soon bored of banging Salma Hayek's perfect caboose and decides to do just one more job, even though he has everything a man could want.
This film had potential, as i have met con artists and thieves who have walked away with the goods and disappeared offshore. So I was expecting something good. This film is just so by the numbers bad that in the first 5 minutes you know you have wasted the price of admission.
To begin with, the first heist is beyond James Bond suspension of disbelief: we are in science fiction. Brosnan, obviously doing this solely for the paycheck and not even looking interested as he boffs Hayek, manages to take control of Harrelson's computer controlled FBI car (don't ask) and kidnap him, in broad daylight, but also while under surveillance by the FBI. If he started to shoot ray beams out of his eyes, I wouldn't have been surprised by this point.
Harrelson plays the whole thing with the realism of Larry Moe and Curly; he is played for laughs and his performance is like something out of a Disney film, at best.
The final heist is again so incredible, so slick but with no explanation of how or where Brosnan managed to acquire all the technology or means to pull it off that it falls flat.
In the end, Brosnan's constant sneer of superiority, I felt, was somewhat merited, as he got paid US$20M to spew this out, while I got nothing to watch it. Talk about phoning it in, the grizzled, over the hill actor could have been replaced by a mannequin and no one would have noticed. I have added this review to the ones on IMDb as they are so radiant and effusive that you'd think SUNSET was this generation's CITIZEN CANE: it's not.
To cap it all off, a good deal of the dialog seems to have been hijacked to promote ... wait for it... Brosnan's watch! Yes, OK, it is the OMEGA SEAMASTER which i hope to one day own, but that's not the point. Brosnan is obviously paid a hefty retainer check to flog the OMEGA and it looks like, Brosnan has actually managed to hijack the film to market OMEGA ! I'm not making this up! The idea was that Woody is envious of Brosnan's posh lifestyle and total cool edge and turns to crime, and this is symbolized by the two men constantly comparing watches: Brosnan has the OMEGA while Woody sports a Casio or something. In the end scene, Woddy makes it big, as shown by the OMEGA which he can finally buy and ---believe it or not----he HOLDS UP TO THE CAMERA WITH A SMILING FACE... and the shot is held for two or three seconds! Holy product placement batman! It looks like an ad from TIME MAGAZINE or something! All in all, this is yet another film that could have been something, that could have meant something in my personal mythology even, but instead just made me feel stupid for having undergone it.
March or Die (1977)
March or Die
is this film a classic? It surely has certain elements that could make
it one. Catherine Deneuve at her best, at the very pinnacle of her
beauty; Max Von Sydow as an archeologist who convinces the French gov't to resume digging in ruins in morocco, in an area containing unruly and savage Berber tribes that have slaughtered all comers; Gene Hackman as the legionnaire captain who has to break his promise to those very tribes that they would never venture into the area again; the guy who played Jaws in James Bond as a Russian 'volunteer' to the legion, sporting a beard that any Taliban would be envious of; some unknown as Marco, a riviera jewel thief, also 'volunteered' into the legion and a cast of doomed conscripts.
The whole film plays out like a funeral procession. the captain
(Hackman) keeps spouting his bile at the gov't, the authorities, the academics, etc. who have condoned this suicide mission, knowing full well they are throwing away men's lives for nothing. He keeps raving in fact even as the Arab tribes are massing and charging toward them.
As in any classic French foreign legion film, the doomed legionnaires are holed up in the ruins of an old castle, hopelessly outnumbered with no escape. if the Arabs don't kill them, the desert will. If the desert
doesn't kill them, the legion will kill them as deserters. There is no
salvation. Only death with honor.
In fact, there is little suspense in the film, as everyone involved
considers the mission absolutely hopeless. And they are right: they
are all gunned down or hacked apart by the desert marauders. The director has a strange sense of cruelty, methodically showing them getting it, one by one.
It's a weird sort of film that relishes and wallows in pure
nihilism. One is left wondering, 'what was the point?'.
I guess that was the idea. I kept waiting for a Hollywood ending, a
speck of optimism on the horizon, a sudden miraculous twist, but as the
credits rolled to a sonorous drum beat i realized, 'Hmmm... this is it, I guess'.
The gloom and doom telegraphed from the very beginning
played out step by step with no surprises or hitches. Sort of a
strange exercise in film-making, if you ask me.
Didn't Gene Hackman comment on this baby, "March or Die: the audience marched in and this film died"?
Hora cero: Operación Rommel (1969)
ONE MAJOR PROBLEM
Competent war film for its time. The story is OK though pretty generic.
Palance puts in his usual performance of sneering, preening and making weird faces at the camera, rasping out the dialogue.
However... this movie has one serious flaw that should have been foreseen from the very beginning...
The major drawback is that the helmets all look like they are made of clay of something. The sight of Jack Palance running around a war zone with a massive piece of pottery on his head is one of the funniest sights i have ever seen. It ruins (or makes) the movie, depending on your perspective.
Frankie's House (1992)
This movie is a fantastic account of Tim Page's experience of Vietnam. Although the common belief is that "the media made the US lose the war in Vietnam", we see that most journalists were sitting around in 5-star hotels attending press conferences held by the Army. The only truly subversive reporters were the war photographers like Page who went to the frontlines and sent back images that conflicted with the version of the Pentagon spinmasters... and a picture is hard to refute.
Page himself was a casualty of the war: he was injured multiple times, lost part of his brain, and became addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Frankie's house is a brothel where Page and his colleagues lived; they lived in the fast lane and it caught up with them fast. Most of Page's colleagues died in the war... somewhere along the way he won award after award and many of the most memorable photos of the war were in fact shot by Page.
A must see film full of interesting characters... It was later learnt that Flynn, his best friend, also a photographer and son of the famous actor Errol Flynn, who disappeared in the film was in fact ambushed and executed in the jungle.
I fear though that the profession of fearless war photographer is dead... most journalists just phone it in now. After seeing Frankie's House you understand why...