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The Bleeding (2009)
very mediocre film, but not "the worst movie ever"
Let's make one thing clear right at the start: this is not a good film.
It has a very average "seen-it-before" plot, and many things in this film I consider well below average (writing, directing, etc.). However, there are worse films than this, so 1-star-ratings do not seem justified to me. This is probably a 3 out of 10; I gave it one extra star for Michael Madsen's performance, who - unlike Vinnie Jones - actually put in some effort.
You can find my full review (which may contain some minor spoilers) under the title "The Bleeding (2009) - mediocre plot made worse by sub-par writing and directing" here: www.movie-blogger.com/movie-title/bleeding
Very funny and subtle Scandinavian comedy
Hemma combines all the strengths of Scandinavian comedies. It is subtle, quirky, funny, and moving. It has a very good cast, and is a surprisingly strong showing for a first-time writer/director (Maximilian Hult).
The male and female lead characters are played with exactly the right kind of subtlety. But as is often the case with comedies, the supporting characters are essential for the humour - although "supporting" may be a misleading term here, as the two characters in question have probably more screen time and more lines than the two protagonists. Veteran actress Anita Wall delivers a superb performance as the grandmother. And Erik Lundqvist gives an outstanding debut for a boy his age. The performance of these two alone would be enough reason to go an see this film.
Two minor points of criticism: The developing love story is hindered a bit by the fact that we see little character development in the female lead. That was certainly intended, as she is definitely an Asperger's case. Still, some scenes between her and her male counterpart could have been a minute or two longer, so that the audience can better get into the relationship they are meant to root for. Then there is the problem of two rather strong but underused minor characters. Elin Petersdottir and Lia Boysen do an excellent job, but their characters are unsatisfyingly presented by the script. If you have two female characters in the film who are presented as that strong and forceful, you should use them more and tell us more about them. If you do not have the time and/or inclination to do that, do not present them as that potent a factor in the film.
An almost perfect film - I'll give Hemma 7 out of 10, easily, probably even 8 out of 10.
I've just seen this film at the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg, and talking about the audience reaction, the general mood of the crowd was at least of a "8-out-of-10"-quality....
My Mandala (2013)
Interesting film with some structural flaws.....
My Mandala is an Asian 'spiritual' drama with hidden elements of comedy.
It is an interesting film, and the cast is very strong, especially the actors playing the leading roles. Despite its deficiencies, it is also a rather impressive work for a first time director with only one other script to her name.
I'll admit that with Asian films I always feel I lack the necessary cultural background to fully understand the motivation of some of the characters. So as far as that is concerned I'll confine myself to saying that I wish that the explanation of the motivations of He Xinyu and her husband had been developed a bit more, for my sake at least.
Two more general - and in the end more weighty - problems are the failure of the script/edit to connect the film's diffuse sibling-relationship-storyline to its main plot, and the nauseating and at times chaotic flashbacks which are meant to illustrate that relationship-storyline.
Still - as I said - an interesting film to watch. Maybe even more so for those with some knowledge of Asian spirituality.
I give this a 6 out of 10.
I've just seen this film at the International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg, and judging from the reaction of the audience, I am not alone with my confusion about the elements mentioned above, and the overall reaction had a general "6-out-of-10"-feel about it, in congruence with my opinion.
The Thirst (2006)
This film is really awful.
The acting is bad, ... the writing is bad, ... the directing is bad, ... even the cutting/editing is bad. And it does take a lot for a film to be so dismally bad that even as a layman you can literally witness each and every one of the bad editing decisions.
I like vampire films; and I do know that there are some films that can be good even though they are bad.
But this film here has absolutely no redeeming features.
It isn't trashy cult, ... it isn't unintentionally funny, ... nothing of the sort.
--> It is just plain bad.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Weakest part of the franchise?
I'll start (again), by saying that the acting is good to very good throughout. That does exclude Pattinson and Samuel - both very good actors I'm sure - who seem both at a loss as to what their characters' motivations are. For Pattinson, it is evident throughout the franchise that he cannot find access to Edwards weird inner self. But in my opinion it is never more visibly obvious than in this third film. This is usually not really the fault of the actor - writers and/or directors are to blame for that. In Edward's case, I think it is fair to say that he is a rather badly written character. And Samuel seems to be at a similar problem with his character (Riley), though I am tempted to put the blame more on the directing than the writing in this case.
As for the plot, there isn't much. It is all just one long preparation for the final battle scene. And the love triangle subplot is just a continuation from the second film. A judgement which one might extent to the whole film: it does at times seem a bit like an addendum to "New Moon".
Although the film contains the most hilarious line of the whole franchise ("Doesn't he own a shirt?"), it also features the infamous "I'm Switzerland"-line, a line so bad and so incongruous in that very scene that it even seems to throw Stewart of her game, as it is one of the very rare scenes in all of the films in which her acting seems to be sub-par.
On the whole, I'd probably struggle to give this one more that a 5.5 out of 10. However, it does make a difference whether you view it as a stand-alone film, or whether you watch it in close succession with the other films (which is preferable).
Decent genre film
Taken on its own - i. e. taken as a stand-alone film and judged independently of the other films of the franchise - this is a decent film from the very specific "Buffy"-genre: high-school/growing-up/vampire-love. The story holds up, and the acting (throughout the cast) is good to very good. It's more or less a 7.5 out of 10. But there are some weaknesses that make me withhold my ratings vote for the moment (for some further reflection). Some scenes of the film (e. g. the one with Edward and Bella on the mountain/meadow) are rather badly written and even worse directed. And as for the music: the score in this and other scenes is at times quite atrocious.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
OK, but confusing......
Let's start by stating what this film had in common with the first one: quite decent acting on all fronts. What it didn't have was a common theme: it completely fell apart into two separate story-lines: 1) the Edward-Bella-Jake plot and Bella's suffering and her recuperation through her time spent with Jake. 2) the Volturi plot
In my view, it would never have been easy to seamlessly string those two together, but the way it was done in this film certainly didn't work. That being said, both plot-lines were decent, the first one more so.
Were it for the first plot alone, I would probably give the film at least 6.5 out of 10, but I guess as a whole I'll rather end up nearer 5.5.....
OK, but without much content
There is not much happening altogether in this film. They put way too much focus on the wedding and the honeymoon, thus wasting precious time. But I guess all those teenage girl fans wanted a full portrayal of the big romantic wedding.
In all of the previous films, I liked the acting of most of the cast a lot. But in this film, everyone except Bella, Edward & Jacob is marginalised to such an extent that there cannot be much said about them. As an audience you just don't get to see enough of any of them to really develop a connection with or care about them.
Altogether this is an OK addition to the franchise, by no means worse than the disappointing/confusing 2nd or 3rd films. I assume I will give this film either a 5 or a 6 (out of 10), but I think I will withhold my final vote until I have seen part 2. I know some might say that they are released as separate films and therefore should be treated as such, but as the original book is ripped into two halves here, I think it is fair to reserve the final judgement until I have seen the two films in conjunction (seeing that, as I haven't read the books, I will need to have seen both films in order to make sense of it all).
Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Good entertainment and absolutely solid movie
I watched this film at a cinema recently, the first film in a very long time that I have actually watched at a cinema instead of waiting for the DVD. I anticipated that the visual effects required a big screen to be savoured to the full - and I was right.
As has been said here before, the visual aspects of the film (the costumes, the set design, the CGI, etc.) is absolutely breathtaking, and at no point do they seem overdone or gratuitous - they fit the style and the tone of the film perfectly.
The acting of all the cast, especially those in leading roles, is superb, and Charlize Theron gives a terrifyingly good portrayal of the evil usurper.
The reason I give this film only a rating of 7 out of 10 has mainly to do with the story itself:
One problem is that this film is more or less exactly what you expect when someone tells you they want to turn Snow White into a fantasy film, with Snow White herself as the lead heroine. The story itself is just not daring or adventurous enough, for my taste, sticking too close to good old fantasy genre recipes.
Another problem is that there are too many minor characters which are introduced but then only seen briefly; they thus slow down the pace of the story without adding any value to it.
Biggest mistake in the script's most basic plot is the fact that we don't see Snow White for roughly 10 years and are then presented with Kirsten Stewart who then picks up the storyline and saves the world in a span of a couple of days. That robs the audience of witnessing any major character development in the heroine and thus reduces our interest in her. It has often been said recently that good TV series can offer you character development (and in result a connection with the characters) that movies cannot, because of their limited length. That certainly holds true for this film. The audience has far more connection with characters in Game of Thrones - or even the Lord of the Rings trilogy - than characters in Snow White and the Huntsman. And that is not the fault of the director or the actors - it is mainly a problem of time constraints. As I pointed out, I think the writers could have improved that situation somewhat by trying to give us some more "access" to Snow White growing up; but at the end of the day, probably only a brave and costly adventure - like turning this material into a two-parter or a trilogy - would have solved this problem
Up There (2012)
Beautiful little film (8* out of 10)
This is a very nice film, in which the main character is trying to figure out the meaning of after-life. And after-life can be a very depressing place, including group-therapy, and the nagging suspicion that your superiors are judging you every step of the way. A typically grey and gloomy Scottish atmosphere provides the background against which the main character tries to muddle through with a DIY-mentality ("Don't Involve Yourself") - which is disturbed by his "side-kick", a walking Ali G parody, whose "help" is the last thing anyone needs.
Although in style this film is based on a subdued form of humour, you find yourself chuckling through most of the film and laughing out loud very frequently. The last one is mainly courtesy of the "side-kick". This is not a film for those who prefer their films jam-packed with action. In fact, "inaction" and "being/feeling trapped" is an important topic of the film. So the "speed" of the film is conformable to its rather grey atmosphere - so, tempo and atmosphere are a bit like the Frances McDormand scenes in Fargo.
The cast is excellent throughout, and Burn Gorman has the chance to shine in the lead role. This film gives the audience a chance to see the high quality he has as an actor, which is a nice change for those of us who only know him from the vastly inferior TV-series "Torchwood", whose crappy scripts and stories manage to sabotage even talents as big as those of Gorman and Barrowman.