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40 reviews in total 
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120 out of 173 people found the following review useful:
A mixed reaction to an abridgment of greatness, 17 September 2010

As a fan of the book I had a mixed reaction to this adequate yet overall uninspiring adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's brilliant novel.

Looking back at my viewing experience I was reminded of the early adaptation of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' from the earliest era of films, in which the filmmakers expected you to have read the book and simply showed you interpretations of various scenes.

Alex Garland's screenplay boasted the ambition of including a little bit of everything from Ishiguro's 300 page book in his slightly under two hour movie. The result is a simple abridgment, we have time to realize the love brewing between the characters, the strained friendship between Mulligan's Kathy and Knightley's Ruth, and the dilemma of their caregivers at Hailsham. But the film lacks much the catharsis and the commentary that made the book so great.

Romanek has proved himself to be a capable director, but here he made some negative decisions which really removed much of the impact of the plot. Adam Kimmel's cinematography is a stand out here, and given the competition so far I wouldn't be surprised if he receives an Oscar nomination for his work.

The calm collection and stoic nature of much of the acting can be seen as insipid or uninteresting to some. But I found the acting to be quite appropriate, the tight lipped, proper British style of this movie provided an nice contrast and balance to a story which could have turned into a mindless melodramatic tear jerker if not handled correctly.

In the end, I think active viewer-ship is of paramount importance to this movie. The film is never interested in simply handing the audience its ideas. Rather it called upon us to dig for meaning. I would say the plot itself served as a bit of a metaphor, and that intrigued me. And, despite some of the negative artistic liberties which were taken in this adaptation, I feel that it did well enough to create an involving, though provoking, and sometimes heartbreaking experience.

Despite its flaws, 'Never Let Me Go' has been one of the few strong film that we've had this year. And, if your one of those people who goes to the movies once or twice a month, I'd say 'Never Let Me Go' is one of your better bets for an agreeable experience at the movies right now.

Case 39 (2009)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A Horror dud of epic proportions, 16 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The horror genre seems to be in a constant state of de-evolution and even when there is an attempt to match the classics in fright such as 'The Exorcist' the plots seem hackneyed and laughable, such is the case with this film.

Renee Zellweger is the films heroin, a social worker dealing with child abuse cases, who benevolently takes in a child named Lilith who was nearly incinerated in an oven by here seemingly insane parents. Zellweger relinquishes young Lilith's case in order to take her into her home for safe keeping whilst the state finds a suitable foster family. Despite the fact that Zellweger had to give up the case she seems strangely able to interview the parents in the institution and gain access to the house in which the attempted murder took place with no difficulty what-so-ever as she slowly finds that Lily isn't what she seems to be.

Zellweger gives her usual hammed up, histrionic performance which is largely void of any real resonance or honesty. But her lacking exploits in the realms of acting are merely the icing on the cake of this post summer release dreck which we have come to know all too well. Bradly Cooper is surprisingly adequate in his role as the Zellweger's romantic interest but he is largely forgettable. In contrast, Jodelle Ferland's portrayal of the demon child is quite good for a child actor and deserves some recognition.

The film suffers from a lack of actual scares, relying too much on the phony, manipulative moments of quiet followed by a startling bump which usually turned out to just be a dog or a harmless comrade. The moments of terror were overwhelmingly not terrifying, and the build up to those moments simply served as give-aways for what was coming. The film making is uninspiring, the direction was pretty basic, and cinematographer Hagen Bogdanski was able to create some visually beautiful (though all- to-often out of focus) shots.

I am now going to produce a spoiler, so if your concerned stop reading.

There comes a moment at the end of the film where the plot holes and character decision become laughable to the point of defenestrating any glimmer of common sense. Zellweger decides to try and kill the demon child by locking her in her room and burning the house down (keep in mind that she is the only one who knows that the child is a demon, so everyone else would figure that an innocent child died in the blaze). Zellweger is surrounded by flames, and at that moment she decides to save her fish by transferring them into a deferent bowl. Which means not only that she leaped heroically through the flames to engage in the process of filling up another bowl and retrieving the fish, but doesn't that also raise questions from the fireman and police officers on the scene that Zellweger was able to save her fish but was unable to make it to the child?

This movie is a dud through and through. You should skip it.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It took some time to ponder, 27 January 2008

Due to the lateness of this comment, and due to the fact the movie will likely soon be out of theater's and on the DVD shelves I fear this review will be seldom read. I saw the film opening day, then three more times during its run at the box office and only now do I feel apt to give it the praise it deserves.

I would go so far to venture that this is a perfect film, this is the only time that I have said this, and might be the only time I ever will. This film is crafted beautifully in all aspects of the film-making process from the opening shots to the ending monologue. Some have said that this is the Coen's best film since "Fargo", I would say "Fargo" was training for this film. "No Country" has a far more pessimistic view of the world, and is secular in more ways than one. The film resonates with a feeling of controlled chaos, in the end I feel it's because the film is ABOUT chaos.

"No Country" boasts some of the most intense, gut wrenching scenes ever crafted and its built out of specificity. The simple creaking of floor boards, the sound of a light bulb being unscrewed, the movement of a crumpled candy wrapped unfolding all add to this world that the Coen's, with the help of Roger Deakins' flawless photography were able to build from top to bottom.

The most prominent criticism I hear from my peers in film school, or from the general public comes from the confusing ending. I feel obligated to address this because I truly believe that the ending is what made this movie what it was. What ultimately made me fall in love with this film was the fearlessness in the story telling and the clarity of mind which allowed Joel and Ethan to see deeper into the world than the rest of us choose to, or want to see. In the end, the film is about chaos, the antagonist is fate, age, and finally circumstance. Thus I believe it to be a misinterpretation to say the ending came out of left field, or was simply erroneous to the plot, because I believe the real plot lies beneath the obvious one.

It is a film about the way humanity deals and copes with an ever changing world that may eat us whole or simply leave us behind. Its a pondering with little commentary, its existentialism in its truest form. It questions without fear, and bravely leaves the audience to question.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Good action Melodrama, 28 February 2006

This film is a great example of what the action Melodrama genre can be. Sure its over the top, sure its gory, sure the profane language is hard to miss, but it all enhances a very deliberate tone and plot in this film.

Paul Walker was one of the biggest surprises in this movie, I'm used to seeing him as a wooden, brain dead, dull performer that has alway's failed to interest me. but he had a good director behind him here, backed up with a good story, and an interesting melodramatic character to help him along. Not to mention, in a film like this performance is hardly the most sought after element. All the actors had a simple job, take this character for what they are and play it as big and strange as you possibly can. If your written as a schmuck, be the worse of them, if your a hero be the best.

This film did bear the Tony Scott, tripped on acid kind of film style that put a visceral, ugly, dramatic look ahead of beautiful imagery. This was a dark film! It was shot in color but there were quite a few scene's where they blasted the actor's with so many foot candles that there was hardly a hue to be seen. Of course this was further accentuated with a black void of a background. the hockey rink scene was particularly impressive with its use of blue lighting and flat space.

There was a great deal of what has been known as a somewhat documentary film style, there was a lot of hand held camera and jarring movement, but it didn't get the the Paul Greengrass extent to where you don't know up from down (unless that's what they were going for). It was one of the few time that this film style was in fact, effective in enhancing the story telling process.

This was quite simply a good movie, it was a popcorn film that allows you to just sit back and let the wild ride happen. I can definitely appreciate such films every now and again. This one is worth seeing.

23 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
One of the best films of the Year, 6 August 2005

John Dahl has done his share of good films over the years but none of them came close to this film about American POW's being held in Japan and the soldier's that risked everything to get them out.

Knowing the history of what these men went through, you go into the film expecting to see images that will be hard to watch. You do see these but they don't go over the top, they show you the hardships that these men faced and the intensity of the battle sequences put you right in the middle of everything.

The cinematography is worth mentioning. It was interesting how they kept the image slightly over exposed in the background to focus you in more and more on the actor's. It made this film about the people and not the spectacle, which is obviously how this film was intended.

The performances were good all around. Franco and Brat are both talented performers that fit well into there perspective parts. The stand out in this film for me was Joseph Fiennes as a POW who kept command of his troops and did his best to help them through while he fought his own battle with malaria. His physical performance was superb and he made you feel what his character was feeling.

When I was waiting to get into this film, I talked to an elderly man who showed up a little after me. I learned that he was a POW in Germany for a year in WW2. After the film, all they had to say was how powerful it was, and what an affect it had. The film showed these men as just that, men. Great men that were willing to sacrifice everything for there fellow soldier's, for there brother's in arm's. As they said in the trailer, "there is a price for freedom, a price that some are willing to pay." All of these men were willing to pay that price.

The intelligence of independent cinema meets the high budget event film, 15 June 2005

This is one of the few examples of a film where the and intelligence of an independent filmmaker gets to intertwine with a huge, big budget, Hollywood event film.

Nolan (Memento) takes this "Batman" film far beyond the previous series created by Tim Burton and then destroyed by Joel Schumacker. This film was a character study, a humanist exploration through the idea's of revenge, justice, and sin that show up in our culture. This is were the previous series dwindled, there was no connection between the bat and the man.

Christian Bale gave a wonderful portrayal of the caped crusader in this film. I do think that he gave a better performance than anyone in the past. The thing is he also had a more complex character to portray than the other's. All of the other films showed you that character after he already became "Batman". This film required Bale the portray a massive character ark, from the man who believed in revenge to the one who believed in justice, from the man who thinks only inward, to the man who is completely selfless. This created a much more interesting feel to the franchise. With the previous film's, Batman was a bit of an allegory, he was a representation of an ideal rather than a man. This film showed how the man became the symbol and thus it shifted more to the analytical approach to humanism.

Still, this is Batman. And that means that action is a must. And this film had plenty of it. I was sitting on the edge of my seat from the beginning. Moreover, they were done in a way that made it believable that one man could take out an army, especially because they were made so you barely ever saw him. For once it wasn't a film where you have hundreds of bad guys that aren't able to hit the broad side of a barn, they just never got a shot off.

The cinematography in this film was leaps and bounds in front of the original series as well. The other films never had the same kind of dramatic lighting or use of color filter's that this film had. The cinematography in this film was good enough to tell a story in and of itself, it gave new meaning and a new feel to the scene's.

The cast was strong all around. As mentioned above Christain Bale took the title character to bold new levels. Gary Oldman gave another great performance, even though it was a small part he brought something to it that other actor's wouldn't, he really deserves a lot more credit than he's received throughout his career.

This is the best "Batman" film yet. I can't wait to see it again and any of you that are "Batman" fans will be able to appreciate this film.

Crash (2004/I)
2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Absoulte Masterpiece, 2 June 2005

Paul Haggis seems to have just popped up all of the sudden, first with "Million Dollar Baby" and now with "Crash" which goes way beyond entertainment and offers some of the most interesting, compelling and realistic character's ever created.

The story follows several different people in LA, all with different job, different social status, different dreams, different beliefs. Yet haggis was able to fine commonality in diversity and masterfully allowed these character's lives to collied in the course of only a couple of days.

The character development in this film is better than pretty much any film I've ever seen. Most films try to create an allegory, or if not that they simply conform to formulaic design. They create character's that can do no wrong or can do no good. In this film all of the character's are shown as having a capacity for both, just as humanity has its flaws and virtues in reality as do the fictional character's created by Haggis. There are times when the man that is made to look like the good guy does something completely unforgivable and the schmuck does something completely selfless and noble. Speaking from experience, it is very hard to create this kind depth in any fictional being, its even harder to do it when you have that many principal character's.

The dialog was very interesting and smart. I can imagine it would be very difficult to create the variation that was included in this film. He used several different vernacular's for the different character's based on there social status, level of education, occupation, etc. It is so realistic that it allows you to be drawn in from the very beginning and held to the end.

I found the cinematography interesting. It isn't on the same level as John Mathison or Matthew Labique but it was still good to look at. It reminded me a little of the look of Steven Soderburg's "Traffic" minus the variation of color tints. It was a sort of grainy image which gave the film an interesting effect, very dark and gritty. I felt it fit the subject matter perfectly.

I was absolutely amazed to find out that this film was shot on only seven million dollars. What Haggis was able to do with the minuscule budget that definitely would have inhibited them in regards on-location shooting, scheduling and other things. This film is proof that the bigger budget doesn't mean the better film.

This is definitely recommended. It is a beautiful film. Completely original and unique. This is truly one of a kind. Don't miss it.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This was a masterpiece, 30 May 2005

There have been several great boxing movies made throughout the years, particularly Raging Bull and the more recent Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man is right up there with the best of them.

Director Ron Howard has proved himself as being one of the best film directors of our time. he has a great understanding in the complex aesthetics of film making, different film stocks, and an uncanny ability to work with actors. Much of the film was stylized but not to the point that it subtracted from the effectiveness of the story, rather it enhanced it.

The cinematography was very well done for the most part. Simply the choice of film stock gave scene's new meaning and an enhanced feel. The only problem was unnecessary camera movement. It is definitely justified during the actual boxing sequences but there were several scene's that were not very intense that still had the camera bouncing around all over the place. It served as a distraction more than a dramatic effect.

The performances were really good. Russell Crow has again shown the extent of his talent in a nearly flawless portrayal of Braddok. I haven't been too thrilled with Renee Zelwigger recently, especially after her woefully over the top performance in Cold Mountain but Ron Howard was able to bring her down to a believable level. Paul Gamatti is still one of the best, yet most overlooked actors out there and he gave another Oscar caliber performance in this film.

Still, the story in and of itself was great. In most cases when it comes boxing movies the main character's are complete schmucks and completely unlikable. Braddok was one boxer that was also a truly good person, a man fighting for his home and his family, simply for the ability to live. He was grateful for everything that he had and his story was definitely worth telling.

I hope people don't look at this and say, "just another boxer film". because that isn't how I saw it. This was a true work of art about a man who's resolve, perseverance, and devotion allowed him to capture the imaginations of an entire nation. This was a truly great film.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Wow, 19 May 2005

The Star Wars franchise has always proved to be visually stunning and Revenge of the Sith definitely keeps up this trend. However, this film has something the the previous two films did not have, an element of inner conflict, of pain, the Revenge of the Sith is a tragedy that at least starts to get back to the ways of the original trilogy.

Over the years I have realized that George Lucas could not write dialog to save his life and this film is no exception, but lets face it none of us go to see Star Wars to hear David Mamet quality screen writing. And, even though there isn't much in the way of dialog it was still effective enough for the sake of story telling. That was the strength of this film was the complexity and power of the story which I actually think could be the best of all six films rivaled possibly by the Empire Strikes Back. In the last two films Lucas was too much on the side of cheap flashy entertainment with no real though, Sith gives us a study of humanity, temptation, desperation, devotion, and betrayal.

There is very little that I can complain about in the way of cinematography. HD has proved itself time and time again, especially in Sith and the recently released Sin City. The only problems that ever came up is there is occasionally a slight blur of the image with slow pan shots that you don't get with film until the camera's really jerking around. Still, this was only every once in a while and I was probably the only person that would care. Still, there were several scene's that were incredibly well lit, particularly the scene in which Palpaten tells Aniken about the powers that the Dark Side can offer. There were some interesting dramatic lighting techniques used in this film that really made it interesting to look at.

The acting was better in this film than it was in the previous two (thats not saying much). Of course they were inhibited a little by the weak dialog but they still did a good job with it. After seeing the last film I never thought that Hayden Christensen would have the talent to develop the Aniken character well enough to show his transition to the dark side, I'm pleased to say that I was wrong. I still wish they were able to hold onto Gary Oldman for the voice of General Grevous, I think he would have been able to bring something interesting to the character but what are you going to do. Portman has been giving several good performances recently and she managed to keep it going here but the stand out of the cast for me was McDirmand as Palpatine, he was very articulate and very convincing, it was truly a great performance.

This is recommended strongly to any fan of the Star Wars franchise. This film might actually be one of the top three of all six of the films and it blew the previous two prequels out of the water. I saw the first showing possible at midnight this morning, I plan to see it several more times before it goes on DVD.

The Jacket (2005)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
I wont claim to have understood it completely but it was still a good film, 5 April 2005

Adrien Brody has done a lot of good work in his career, there is no denying that. This is not his best work, nor Keira Knightley's, nor Jennifer-Jason Leigh's but it still had several good elements.

First of all, to enjoy this film you can't ask questions like "Why has nobody gotten Kris Kristofferson arrested for putting this guy in a box?" Because you will never get a particularly good answer. As with most films involving people supposedly shifting back and forth through time you have to abandon your sense of reality.

As for dialog, I think there were a few lines in there that they put in so they could make the trailer sound good. In the trailer for this the have the classic "don't act like I don't know whats real line" that is absolutely essential in any film with a mental patient protagonist. The line sounded great in the trailer but it seemed completely unmotivated in the context of the actual story. This annoyed me a little bit but there was still some very good dialog in the film.

Again, Adrian Brody is a good actor and he did a fine job with this film, certainly nothing special, but he performance fit. Keira Knightley did a good job of getting rid of the accent, but I still don't think she felt comfortable with it, she slurred her speech a little and much many of her lines didn't seem like they were delivered naturally. Still, her character development was much better in this film than in "King Arthur", and I did feel that she understood what was going on in the characters head.

The story was pretty interesting, yet it did defy logic in places where it shouldn't have. As I said earlier, film like this are not supposed to be logical or realistic. They are meant to confuse the heck out of you and make you feel for the character's. Overall, this task was accomplished. These were characters that you could feel for even though they are in a predicament that we can never truly understand, that is the dilemma that most filmmakers face with a project like this. How do we make people understand what this guys going through when no body in the history of the world has ever experienced something like this? The answer is you don't make it a film about a guy shifting in time and finding out about his own death and trying to change the future. Instead they made it a film about confusion, which is some thing that we have all felt and something that we can all understand.

It was filmed very well too. They obviously used a fast film because there was a little bit of film grain that was visible but it gave a gritty feel to the film that really worked for me. There was also a good use of dramatic lighting, and it was lit so brightly that you really got a feel for setting in which this film takes place.

I would suggest seeing this, but again, allow yourself to overlook the parts that are never fully explained or are completely illogical and you will have a good experience.

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