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Too real for me. I didn't care for it.
This film tells the story of a fateful night when a man an his friend seek revenge on the man who rapes his lover. The friend turns out to be a former lover of the woman who still has feelings for her. The events unfold in a less than 24 hour period from afternoon to evening and the scenes are played in reverse order (night to previous afternoon). The Idea to play the scenes this way has potential cinematically and artistically. But after seeing the subject matter and the graphic realism in which it is portrayed, I don't see this film as artistic or cinematic. But I'm not supposed to take pleasure from watching violence and rape and I feel I shouldn't be watching this, but it's like when you come across the scene of eg. a fire or a car crash, something drives your curiosity and you cannot help but look. Maybe the film works on this level. But I can question why the actors do what the script asks of them so realistically and why would they do such a film in the first place. The almost never ending rape scene is a perfect example of this. Why does an actress allow people put her in this situation for the sake of a paycheck? There are roles out there that offer different and more acceptable challenges. Something I noticed about the man while catching his breath between raping and beating her into a coma made this scene all too real to me. The love scene earlier in the day(or later in the film, if you like) failed to make up for this. The subject matter is supposed to provoke the reaction that it does. I'm not supposed to accept or be entertained by violence or sexual violence. So maybe the film works by the fact that I don't like it, if you know what I mean. So does this make it a good film? For some, I can understand why it does make it a good film. But the fact that I'm still questioning why the film was made in the first place and why a censor would pass it uncut makes it a bad film for me. That's why I'm giving it low marks, but I do understand why some give it high marks. If you're easily offended by the subject matter, avoid. If you can cope with a film that makes for difficult viewing and want to know if this film will provoke a reaction (and it almost certainly will), then this might be for you. I only got it out on DVD because I'm a fan of Monica Bellucci, not one hundred per cent sure then what it would be about. After seeing it, I won't be watching it again.
Jennifer Hudson was the star of the show
This film is good. But it could have been great. That is why I decided on 5 instead of 6 out of 10. It had so much potential. But there were too many stories to tell, parallel to the main premise, in too short a time, despite it's 2-hour running time. It gives the illusion of doing it's best to tell as much of the stories of every character as possible and does seem fair in giving each story a relatively even amount of time. But I felt Effie and James "Thunder" Early had the best stories with Curtis Taylor's influence on them and his relationship with Deena being the best subplot. Throw in a little bit more of the historical events and it would have worked better as a whole. But trying to tell every story and subplot meant that the meaty stories didn't get the time and space they deserved. That is how I viewed it. But my biggest criticism was singing where normal dialogue would have been much more effective. I know it was adapted from a stage show, but I went to the cinema to see a MOVIE. I expected a lot of singing in this. But it should have been limited to studio, stage and rehearsals. It got annoying towards the latter end when conversation would have been much more effective at telling the story offstage. It wasn't all bad. Jennifer Hudson was the absolute star of the show for me. She's a beautiful woman with a magnificent voice who played her diva-come-good part like an old pro. Sure singing is her thing but I'd like to see her in a meaty(no pun intended) drama to see how she'd do away from a musical role. Her acting skills had potential here. She had a "Belter" of a song in the scene where she discovered she was being replaced in the Dreams.She cried tears and carried the emotion with aplomb. But it would have been even more effective if there was dialogue instead of singing in the "conversation" leading up to that pivotal moment. Eddie Murphy was the other stand out performance. His part on it's own would have made for a great movie. I felt he could have done so much more with the role given the time and space. Maybe the reason Jamie Foxx's excellent performance didn't stand out, was because I've come to expect excellence from an Oscar winner. Just like the movie, there is so much I could say here, but there is too much going on and I have limited time and space. Sums up this movie for me. It's definitely watchable. But it might not seem so good on the small screen. So don't wait for the DVD. See it on the big screen.
Little Children (2006)
More than Desperate Housewives
There is an element of Desperate Housewives about this. It has a running commentary on proceedings and one of the intersecting story lines concerns a group of housewives escaping their mundane daily lives by fantasising about a guy who they only know as the Prom King. But the full picture is so much more than that. Sarah(Kate Winslet) and Brad(Patrick Wilson) develop a sexual relationship both because of a physical attraction and (moreover) in a bid to escape an ambitious wife who puts her career first and their child before everything else and a husband addicted to getting off on internet porn rather than showing his wife some affection. Another storyline is that of a paedophile Ronald(Jackie Earle Healy) just released from prison and causing tension and controversy by living in the locality. Watch for the scene where he takes a swim in the local pool where children are swimming and the rush of parents evacuating them as the notice who's in amongst them. There's also a disgraced former police officer trying to salvage his reputation by setting up a committee to rid the neighbourhood of Ronald. As the film progressed, I found myself laughing, covering my face during the "cringe" moments(both funny and serious), feeling a little aroused(for obvious reasons) and feeling sadness, dislike and sympathy as each character's story progressed. It is a film to take you through a full range of feelings and emotions. I found myself having parallel feelings of liking certain people and disliking others and this remained pretty much constant throughout, until, towards the end when the film gave me reason to feel sympathetic in some way for each and every character. This balanced everything out nicely in the end for me. Some have suggested that the film is a little too long. But I disagree. The decisions taken ultimately by my favourites Brad and Sarah made me expect and want more from them after the efforts made to escape their (from their perspective)disappointing home lives. This was the only thing I felt was incomplete about the film. If you like adult drama go see this. If subtle, offbeat humour makes you laugh go see this. If illicit romance floats your boat go see this. If one plot isn't enough and you like to see all characters and story lines in a film developed to some sort of conclusion go see this. It may not bee the best film you'll see this year, but it is definitely worth a look.
Cool in an understated way
It has been a while since I've seen this movie. But I have some recollection of what goes on in it. Basically, a hit-man (Lapaglia) is given his next assignment, a woman(Rogers) who has stolen from the mob. But when they meet he finds that she is expecting him and prepared for the inevitable. She seduces him and he ends up falling for her and so finds it hard to complete the assignment. What follows is (what I think) a crisis of conscience for Lapaglia. Rogers is stunningly seductive in this and seems to relish the sexy role. This is a movie that made me stand up and take notice of Rogers and I would recommend you see it just for her performance. There are too other main carachters in this. The guy who gave the assignment and a bungling idiot of a "friend". But I do not want to give away too much as there is an interesting and major twist near the end involving one of these people. For what I would describe as a psychological drama, the acting is very understated and, considering the title, action seems to be kept to the minimum required. But it is a thinking person's film. For me it was more about a crisis of conscience, because even though he develops feelings for the woman he's supposed to take out, he is from an emotionally detached world and may never have known true love. But somehow she got inside his head. And there is an issue that she may want the inevitable to happen but he has developed a fondness for her. I enjoyed this film. It is thought provoking. My judgement: see it and make up your own mind.
Out of Time (2003)
full of tension
I saw this last Monday. For me it worked. I was smiling when walking back to chartbusters with the video. A sign of a good film for me is if there's still a reaction, however slight, when I'm not even watching it. When I first saw the trailer for this, I assumed that Denzel was a bad cop. I was wrong. Although he did bad things, you could see that his motives were for what he considered the greater good. I only wanted to see it because the beautiful and sexy Sanaa Lathan is in it. Some say she should have been cast as the wife in the movie but I thought her carachter's projected vulnerability made her the ideal woman for the part she played. The tension and suspense are kept going until the end. Normally I become frustrated with a film with a lot of suspense, but this one had me gripped the whole way through. You are only told what you need to know and this would have had a slightly adverse affect on most other films, in terms of carachter development and story/plot lines. And although the end does have a slightly "tying up the loose ends" feel to it, with so much tension building you need that gentle release. The plot centres around the chief of police in a small Florida town, his soon-to-be ex wife investigating a murder for which he might be implicated, Sanaa Lathan as his mistress with an abusive husband who finds out she has terminal cancer, drugs money stored in the police station as evidence and the temptation to use it to pay for her treatment. It definitely got a reaction from me. Like a part where I found myself shouting at the screen:"Don't go there you stupid idiot! She Can't be trusted", or words to that effect. If you haven't seen it you should. Well worth the rental price.
Monster's Ball (2001)
My second favourite movie
I first became interested in this movie because I am a Halle Berry fan. It was not at all what I expected when I first watched it, so I was unsure of it. But I watched it again and now I love this movie and own it on VHS. It is hard hitting and hard to watch in places. But also very tender in a subtle sort of way in others. It confronts all the issues laid out in the movie with gusto. It is what I would call a "no holds barred" movie. It follows the lives of two very different people and their families and the people that they meet in everyday life. After a series of unfortunate, and sometimes tragic events these two people's lives become intertwined. In every day life, there are issues of racism, the death penalty, abuse and loneliness for these people. Tragedy strikes the two main characters, Hank and Leticia, in different ways yet the tragedy is similar in that they both lose their sons. The fact that they have this in common brings them together in an ironic twist. Sex also plays a part in how this movie progresses. From signifying the loneliness of a man who has to depend on a prostitute for affection, to the need of two ordinary people to get a respite, even if temporary, from a lot of heartache. The movie pivots on the latter of these sex scenes. It gives Hank and Leticia hope that things may not be so bad from now on. It is a raw, emotional and explicit scene, but it works because it is essential to the plot. After this the movie explores the highs and lows of their relationship. But you want things to work out between them after all that has happened. Can they learn to overcome their personal tragedies? Can they learn to love again? What does the future hold? If you want to know the answers, watch this movie. I would recommend it to anyone who is open minded about the issues dealt with in this movie. In my opinion Halle Berry deserved the Oscar. But Marc Forster and Billy Bob Thornton should have got one also.