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Vanilla Sky (2001)
A Masterpiece! Far superior to the Original
There seem to be two main criticisms of this film. Either it is confusing and hard to follow, or it is a poor remake of the original. I found both of these claims to be nonsense, but at least I can understand the first. The key to our understanding does not show up until the very end, but given this key, the movie is perfectly consistent, and you may not notice the greatness of the film without a second or a third viewing.
As to the second claim, this film is superior to the original in every way I would care to compare them, and I can only chock up the opposite opinion to a common, and mostly justified, bias against any Hollywood film, especially one starring Tom Cruise. To this mindset, the film is doomed from the start, regardless of it's actual merits. I would normally share such opinions, but this film is something special. Tom Cruise is perfect in his role and as much as you might hate him personally as so many seem to do, he is very good, as is Penelope Cruz.
Just some advice to new viewers, have patience and trust that in the end all will be explained. The first 40 minutes can turn a lot of people off, but just wait. and for those who have watched the movie only once and found it wanting, try watching it again. You may be surprised. After my first viewing I thought it was just OK, but after several it has become one of my top 10 favorite films of all time. You might want to give it another chance as well.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
One of my all time favorites
I know many people found this movie hard to follow, and so gave it a poor review, but what they don't understand is that this was exactly the reason so many others loved it. The film certainly doesn't take the viewer by the hand and lead them through step by step, instead it leaves things up to their own interpretation, making it necessary for their own neurons to participate in the process of creation, not unlike in an abstract painting.
We see movies all the time with plot holes the size of mac trucks and silly premises, but this is not what we have here. Instead this is a very simple and common story told in a very unconventional way, with a skillful blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality, thereby letting our own minds make connections that might be unexpected. What more could you want from art or a film?
Beyond this the acting is incredible, especially by Naomi Watts, who not only has to act, but also has to act like she is acting, which she does in one very memorable scene, which is just one of many scenes you won't easily forget.
Final advice: Watch this movie as you would look at a piece of art. Let your mind go where it wants, without regard to whether it makes sense at the moment, and you might begin to understand the acclaim this film has received. Multiple viewings wouldn't hurt either.
Simplistic, contrived, self indulgent and long winded
Simplistic, contrived, self indulgent and takes much to long to make it's point.
Whatever that point happens to be?
Is it that only in America, do small town ignorant people sometimes treat others in the same way they are treated by those more powerful than themselves? Well where on Earth is this not the case? Power can corrupt, and those without any can be overzealous when they taste some for themselves.It should not be a surprise to anyone that, yes, this is a part of our shared human nature, but it has been more cleverly and convincingly and more evenhandedly demonstrated in any number of 1/2 hour twilight zone episodes, than it was in this 3 hour stage play, so disconnected from the reality it is trying to portray.
Is it that all people are bad? This is certainly true, but this is only like describing the taste of a grape in terms of it's skin, while completely ignoring its more appealing parts, Humanity is much more complex than this film seems to understand, and the film is an insult to the intelligence to anyone who has given real thought to the good and bad of human nature, where it comes from, and how and when it's complexity is expressed.
And what is the point of having it staged? Any message can be more effectively communicated using the full weight of the medium involved. Would it ever truly make sense to make a film using no sound at all, or using only a series of snap shots? Apparently there are many here who might be fooled into applauding such a film for it's originality, when the only real effect such limitations have, is to simplify and limit any originality that could have been possible given no such constraints..
In closing this was a long slog through the mud that will only serve to further confuse people who have never had the time to think very deeply on human nature. It is very much like the blind trying to lead the blind, and so perhaps it is fitting that the experience of the average viewer of this film would not be much different from the blind man, who could only listen to it. Not only a waste of bandwidth and creative potential, but of your time as well.
Up in the Air (2009)
You can't possibly be happy.
Attention, all people who are happy being alone! You're not really happy! Believe me! You need to run out right now and find that perfect soul mate to spend your life with. Yes, you may find out that they are already married to someone else and that you are just their favorite chew toy, but believe me, it's you that has not grown up, not them. You should have your own family that is happy to stay at home while you travel 9 months out of the year, so that you can cheat on them. THIS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY. And it will never lead to any painful consequences or lost years, when it doesn't work out. Also remember that if you ever lose your job, it's best to do so when you have people depending on you because they will make it so much easier on you, and will be right by your side at the unemployment line supporting you all the way. Don't pay any attention to the stats that show divorce is next on the todo list after job loss, complete with the angry ex spouse and the dysfunctional kids.
Such is the inane message fed to the hungry mouths suckling at the teat of this film, but for me this heavy handed and simplistic message overwhelmed the film, and made what started out to be a decent light comedy, into a self contradictory philosophical mess suited only to a ten year old.
Embarrassment to IMDb top 250
This is a case of style over substance if I ever saw one, a movie that is all dressed up with no where to go. There is no point and no plot, but everything from the music to the dialog, asks us to suspend our critical thought, and take it on faith that it is as profound as it thinks it is. But then what could we expect from a movie based on nothing but a cute gimmick. "Hey let's have a guy who gets younger as life goes on". Everything that happens in this movie is predictable given this premise. For instance, of course he would meet a young girl, fall in love, and have a baby with her when their ages meet. This is in no way profound or interesting, it is just the most obvious gimmick to stack on top of the first one, and unfortunately how the movie would play out was obvious to me after only the first 10 minutes. The next two hours are just painful to watch, as the movie never deviates from the expected path, with no surprises and no depth, but still dripping with hollow emotional cues of false profundity, very much like those of a religious service. One star might be a little low but it is appropriate, given how overrated this movie is.
I trusted the rating :(
I just had to write this comment because I generally value the ratings given to movies here on IMDb for guiding my viewing, and making good use of my limited amount of movie watching time given an almost unlimited number of movies. Well it didn't quite work out this time. The over 7 rating is almost a crime.
This movie can best be summed up by the very first scene in which the main character is wandering through a book store, spots a book entitled "The Road to Reality", looks at it, laughs, and says "Don't want to go there". Yes it might be funny if this attitude was not so utterly common and so deeply connected with almost every major issue facing the planet today.
But still maybe a good movie could be made on such a premise, but alas, More than half the movie consists of the very annoying main character, either chatting inanely with her friends, or turning every single comment by anyone else, into a joke which only she could possibly find funny.
Yet there seem to be many reviewers here who somehow think that she is inspiring and her attitude something to aspire to, but I would argue that maybe they are confusing the strained positivity of ignorance, with the peace of mind that comes with wisdom, yet they are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Anyway save your time unless it is indeed your goal to be an always positive airhead.