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12 reviews in total 
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Amélie (2001)
77 out of 122 people found the following review useful:
Insufferably Annoying, 2 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not too long ago I was watching "The Hustler", and it was quite obvious that the film and practically everything about it was undeniably cool. Especially the way Jackie Gleason walked, the way he was dressed, the way he spoke, he wasn't trying to be cool, he simply was.

On a minorly related note, "Amelie" is a film that wants to be quirky, it wants to be cutesy, but it fails because it tries too hard: The exaggerated camera movements and sound effects, the ultra-luminous (yet rather nice) cinematography designed to turn Paris into a fantasy world, the odd quips of dialogue on orgasms, but the absolute biggest fault of the film is with the lead character known as Amelie.

Amelie is a woman-child who likes to take it upon herself to do selfless good deeds for everyone around her, and the entire storyline revolves around her attempts to fix various problems for everyone within her vicinity. The only problem is that Amelie's selflessness isn't real, she's only doing this to feed her own sense of accomplishment so she can crack that god-awful smile at the camera once that good deed is done. Not long after it becomes extremely apparent that she's a psychopath who breaks into other people's appartments to screw with them (because she, not the police or any authorities, must be the one to deal with bad people), appoints herself as an unneeded tour guide for a blind man and basically does whatever she wants, regardless of whether it actually helps anyone.

The film has clearly taken cues from the French New Wave (Amelie even watches "Jules Et Jim" at the Cinema) but it has taken those editing and storytelling tricks to the nth degree and spoiled the entire film, even Amelie is taken from Irene Jacob's character in "Three Colours: Red" and made even nicer and sweeter until she's just plain obnoxious It's an unbearably naive film that's filled with so much sugary fake charm that it becomes sickening rather quickly, and once the cutesy novelty wears off you realise that there's just no substance to the storyline at all. Some people have been enchanted by the magical qualities of it, but I was completely put off as the whole thing was over-the-top and rather self-indulgent. A film like "L'Atalante" finds the poetic beauty in the banality of life and simply displays it in all of its ordinary glory. "Amelie" constantly forces you to accept its own childish and faux-magical view of the world, some people can accept it, but I can't.

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Kubrick's arrogance in full flight, 12 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Kubrick has made some masterful films, highly regarded ("2001") or underrated ("Barry Lyndon" and "Eyes Wide Shut") but the only thing shocking about "A Clockwork Orange" is just how big a misstep Kubrick made. It's a hypocritical, pompous mess which has been idolised by the youth for its over-the-top violence and over-the-top language and hailed by others for its heard-it-all-before message.

After juvenile delinquent Alex (The admittedly excellent Malcolm McDowell) kills one person too many (with a statue of a penis with the other woman swinging a bust of his favourite composer Beethoven at him, oh the deliciously subtle irony of it all), he gets carted off to jail, snags himself the Ludovico treatment and is made to feel disgust every time he tries to act out on his violent and sexual urges.

Speaking of the violence, the majority occurs in the opening half an hour, and it would be shocking if it weren't for Kubrick's gimmicky treatment of it to add a cheaply ironic edge to it all. It just reduces the violence to a cartoon, all to smash us over the head with the fact that there's too much violence in society and we're as much to blame as the criminals for this. In effect, Kubrick has designed the film as a Ludovico treatment for the audience, but he made a complete mess of proceedings with the purposely hilarious violence: If you want to make a serious point about a serious issue, sometimes you have to put it in a serious context.

But it's not just the violence that is overused, Alex's voice-over simply takes away from Kubrick's storytelling abilities, ramming home every point that doesn't need to be spelt out for the audience, all until the pathetic final line of the film that's meant to be ironic but just comes across as incredibly cheesy. The worst aspect of the film? The horribly outdated synthesised soundtrack which adds another ironic tone to the violence, unnecessary, overused and just plain terrible. It all adds up to a pointless film that teaches us that violence is wrong, politicians will do anything to stay in power, prison can't always reform criminals and the youth are crazy, why tell us something we don't know already. It's not even the fact that Kubrick tries to let us come to our own decision, by purposely trying to make us laugh at the violence and then judging us for laughing at it, it's just hypocritical, forceful and downright pompous. You can't chase somebody down in your car, run them over then berate them for getting hit.

Overall "A Clockwork Orange" is a big mistake from a director who has thankfully made far better films with more subtlety and more trust in the audience. For films about the violence in society, I recommend "Badlands" which is better in literally every single way.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Walking on The Tipping Point to achieve The Sweet Life, 27 December 2009

After World War 2 Italy had to rebuild financially, a fact that was reflected in the style of films being made at the time. Italian neorealism dealt with the ordeals of the lower class, with Vittorio De Sica's "Bicycle Thief" being the most important of these. But as Italy recovered, money was everywhere and the struggles of the lower class didn't seem as interesting before.

"La Dolce Vita" rarely focuses on the lower class; this is a film about one man caught between two worlds: The upper and lower class, gossip columnist and serious writer, bachelorhood and marriage. It's generally regarded as the Tipping Point in Federico Fellini's career: A bridge between his early neorealism of "La Strada", "Variety Ligts" and "Nights Of Cabiria" and his later surrealist works of "8 ½" , "Juliet Of The Spirits" and "Amarcord".

"La Dolce Vita" is also the Tipping Point of the lead character, Marcello Rubini (Played by Marcello Mastroianni). He's a gossip columnist (the word "paparazzi" came from this film) for a tabloid newspaper, drawn to the lifestyle of the decadent upper class of Rome. The film features a number of seemingly unconnected episodes featuring Marcelo, as he interacts with a large variety of characters. That's the skeletal outline of the film, but what Fellini uses images to build ideas and messages into each storyline and character, creating an entire Universe where every scene adds to a greater meaning. It contains a varied richness in its source material and characters that should be seen more often in Cinema.

Marcello is at a crossroads in his life, and he can't seem to see the 5 most important people in this film for who they are. He merely moulds his own image of them into idealised versions that he would like: He convinces himself that he loves the beautiful upper class Maddalena, but whether she loves him is another matter. He feels suffocated by his fiancée Emma, but she's the one woman who loves him the most. He feels utterly enchanted by American actress Sylvia, chasing her all through Rome (And into the Trevi Fountain, the definitive image from this film), but she's just a simpleminded actress with more beauty than brains. He sees his upper class friend Steiner as a future, more successful version of himself, but can't see how disenchanted Steiner is with his circle of friends and his lifestyle. He wants to know and understand his own father, but his father never had much time for him as a child, and as an adult not much seems to have changed.

Fellini's film may seem to meander at times, and if you're not in the right frame of mind for a 3 hour film it will only make things worse for you. But Fellini's aimless storytelling is a reflection of the aimless upperclass he is portraying, a society that makes you feel enchanted and disgusted by it at the same time. Otello Martelli's crisp cinematography certainly helps you feel enchanted by Rome, Nino Rota's varied and evocative score doesn't hurt either. This is definitely Fellini's film, but Marcello Mastroianni holds the film (and your attention) for 3 seemingly effortless hours, it's an exercise in how to make an empty person sympathetic while remaining an enigma.

"La Dolce Vita" shocked Italian audiences with its frank depiction of infidelity and sexuality that is pretty tame by today's standards. But it has grown in stature due to its exploration of one man's search to find meaning in his own life, its social commentary on a frivolous lifestyle that becomes more relevant with each passing year and a rich (no pun intended) screenplay that different people will derive different meanings from. Unlike the society he portrays, Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" has plenty of meaning under its surface of stunning imagery and charming characters. It doesn't matter how much money you have, what novels you've read or what music you listen to, if you can't find your own purpose or your place in society, then you've got no chance of finding "The Sweet Life".

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Different War Film, 2 October 2009

Released the same year as "Saving Private Ryan", it lost out in the Oscars to Spielberg's film and "Shakespeare In Love". But as time has passed, far too many war films have borrowed Spielberg's formula for a WW2 Film: Start the film off in the present day and tell the story in flashback before returning back to the present day, hand-held cameras for frenetic action sequences, over the top gore, lots of extras for added realism, the usual moral that "War kills people and is bad". With this passage of time, with the War genre seemingly falling into stagnation, Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" stands as a film that doesn't buy into the normal Hollywood codes of convention. It is a rare breed: a War film that is a work of art.

The film has almost no conventional plot, the two main protagonists are Pvt. Witt (James Caviezel) and Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin), and we start off with an AWOL Witt living in the South Pacific with the locals. Once the Army find out where he is, he is put on a ship, bound for Guadalcanal. The rest of the film follows each major character's battle against their enemy and the battle inside of themselves. Peaking inside their thoughts, their fears, their souls. It is a brilliant way of giving us insight into the varied characters, with the two biggest names in the film (John Travolta & George Clooney) relegated to mere cameos, while the lesser known duo of Caviezel and (Ben) Chaplin charged with carrying the film as it jumps from each soldier throughout. The acting is very good from everyone, Jim Caviezel captures the spirit of Pvt. Witt perfectly, Ben Chaplin gives a really good performance, while Nick Nolte and Elias Koteas give arguably the two best performances in the film. Sean Penn is very good also.

But it just isn't a Terrence Malick film without gorgeous visuals, incredible soundtrack and wonderful poetic direction. He may have been out of the game for 20 years, but Terrence Malick delivers on every level: The battle sequences are frenzied and excellent, without ever feeling Hollywood-ised. The cinematography is utterly gorgeous, bringing out the beauty of nature and setting it up against the ugly nature of man. Hans Zimmer's soundtrack is exceptional, conveying a sense of the unknown, fear, triumph, evil and beauty all at the same time. Terrence Malick gives us some wonderful visuals: The opening of a Crocodile half-submerged in a swamp, a bird just learning it's first steps amidst a raging war all around it, Sunlight illuminating the tallest tree tops and penetrating the Jungle floor. There is almost no other war film that would concentrate on the beauty of nature in the same vein as "The Thin Red Line". But all of the beautiful pictures, the awe-inspiring music add up to a mood, a sensation that washes over you and immerses you into the film in a way that only Malick and a handful of others can do. But the beauty is more than skin-deep, Malick asks us questions that other war films don't even think of asking: Where did this hatred come from? Is God responsible for all of this? Is nature at war with itself? Malick can't answer these questions, because no human could possibly answer those questions. "The Thin Red Line" touches on God, War, Nature, Innocence, Death, Love among other things. It shatters the normal movie-making conventions that a war film must feature 2,000 battle sequences, that voice-over's should only be done by one person and everyone lives happily ever after. It doesn't exist in the movieworld, and it doesn't quite exist in our own world of realism, it is on a whole other world. It is a magnificent, thought-provoking, engrossing war drama that captivates you, holds you gently, and leaves you feeling elated after seeing it. It is Terrence Malick's finest film, one of the most unique war films out there and one of the finest films of the 90's. It is different, and in this case, different is much, much better.

9 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Moronically Atrocious, 28 August 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How this has been rewarded monumental praise by almost everyone is beyond me. I never saw this in the Cinema's, 10 years after it's release I finally decided to give it a shot.

Basically, Woody gets taken away, Buzz brings him back home, everyone lives happily ever after, the end. That is all. It really is that predictable. There is absolutely nothing redeeming in this film: The animation hasn't aged too well, the voice acting is poor (Joan Cusack is the worst offender), the direction is extremely shoddy, the musical number makes you want to tear your eardrums out. But the absolute worst thing about this film? The script: Calling it an affront to humanity would be an understatement, there are some truly awful moments of dialogue, stupid sequences that amount to nothing whatsoever, some of the most unoriginal, pathetic film references that have no relation to the storyline whatsoever, just there for pop culture reference. They're not even done with any subtlety, they're just there for the sake of it. It's not even funny, it's a giant groan fest as lame after lame bits of "wisdom" fly from every toy's mouth, cheesy and dull one-liners are uttered so often you really will want to kill yourself. Even some of the supposed adult jokes are just plain silly and shouldn't even be there. This was a painfully awful, horrid, boring waste of my life. I don't care what anyone says, this was a terrible terrible film. I can honestly say that this is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life: There is nothing good I could possibly say about this, at least other supposed terrible films are so bad they're good. But Toy Story 2 has no redeemable qualities, like Michael Corleone at the end of Godfather Part Two, there is no redemption for it. Now Godfather Part Two, that's an amazing sequel, check that film out once again. Avoid this worthless pile of vomit.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone, 2 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone.

Imagine that drilled over and over into your head for 2 hours. That would sum up this infinitely overrated movie from someone who clearly should stick to putting his ideas out in 3 minutes as opposed to 123.

Jim Carrey is a boring pathetic loser who meets "vibrant" (her hair colour sounds like some type of condom) Kate Winslet on a train. They talk about stuff I couldn't honestly care about for a while. Then one day Jim Carrey finds out that she had her memory of him erased, so being the spiteful dweeb prone to peer pressure, he follows suit. What follows, is some of the most boring, decently edited, repetitive scenes to be praised to high heaven. Why on Earth would Jim Carrey want to hold on to his "precious" memories of her? She's clearly a bitch. There's also a rather weak subplot about people who work at the memory-erasing place, taking advantage of people after their operation. (Could it be a stab at governmental power abuse? Young people love to rebel against "The Man", so we must appeal to them).

In the end, it turns out that when they first met on the train at the start of the film, that was AFTER their operation (which anyone with two brain cells could have guessed right at the start). Because we all know, films that start at the end are incredibly complex to figure out.

The good points? The acting is OK, and some of the editing is nice, and it's OK to look at. But apart from that, this is an absolutely awful excuse of film-making. It has truly ignorant characters, it goes absolutely nowhere for 2 hours straight and gives you absolutely nothing profound or interesting to take from it. All it does is appeal to pseudo-intellectual's who have been spurned in relationships (because they are pseudo-intellectual losers who don't deserve to be in love), because let's face it, who hasn't been hurt in a relationship? Exactly, and because Michel Gondry is French, and apparently French films incorporate every single foreign language film, it can be classified as a French film, and is therefore cool (because you must have one french film in your list of favourite films, most people have that other overrated pile of garbage "Amelie" in there, but this can suffice).

Overall, an absolute waste of time, you want to watch a real film about grown ups in love? "In The Mood For Love" and "2046". Please don't waste your time on this piece of garbage.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Utterly Atrocious, 12 April 2009

Tom and Jerry are one of the greatest silent cartoon duos ever created. Their slapstick comedy has only grown stronger with age, and I feel that they will always be timeless.

So why on Earth would you want to make a film about them? Sure, it sounds like an attractive idea, 90 minutes of Tom and Jerry getting into all sorts of trouble with hilarious calamity. But wait a second, what's going on in this film? Oh yeah, there is NO slapstick comedy between the two, they aren't even the main characters in this film. And the most unforgivable sin of all: They talk. Now they did talk rarely in the old cartoons, but this isn't the odd word they're spewing in this vile piece of tripe, they are singing. Badly, about what good friends they are. Seriously? The songs are terrible, the plot is excruciatingly clichéd and abysmal, there is NO humour, no chasing, and it's just devoid of anything remotely resembling anything that resembles the old Tom and Jerry.

Now before you say "Oh you're just living in the past", that is obviously the point. Tom and Jerry are sacred, this movie should not have been made, and even if it was, they should have stuck with the original creators. At least then it would have had a fighting chance of being remotely good.

Way to destroy a legacy and a part of my childhood. This is an abomination, an unforgivable sin, they have killed Tom and Jerry. My childhood is dead. What can help erase this abortion of a movie from my poor mind? I know, watching the ORIGINAL Tom and Jerry! Stick to the classics, avoid this thing like the plague

The Mirror (1975)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A New Way Of Narrative, 1 April 2009

Andrei Tarkovsky did not make accessible films for the casual viewer. Some may call his work long, difficult and boring. These people are missing out on beautiful Cinema. "Mirror" is a man's dreams, reflections, memories and nightmares. It jumps back and forth in time, and uses the same actors to portray different characters in different time periods. Tarkovsky's father's poetry is read at certain points, and Tarkovsky even weaves people from differing time periods into the same scene, making it all the more confusing during the first viewing. Some films use music, characterisations, stereotypes and dialogue to make the viewer feel what the director wants them to feel. Tarkovsky manages to shatter this train of thought by creating images that the viewer can reflect their own thoughts and feelings towards. Tarkovsky has made one of the most personal films ever: It is Tarkovsky's autobiography, and we dictate what to feel via the gloriously beautiful images he gives us. I'm sorry if this comment isn't very clear, because every time I try to justify why this film is so brilliant, so bold, so beautiful and so unique, I fear that I cannot explain my reasoning in a manner that Tarkovsky would be proud of. But I feel that my comment is written in vain: The film is a mirror itself, your experience, what you get out of it will be different to what I, or anyone else got out of it. Because we are all different, yet Tarkovsky managed to create a film so difficult, yet so personal to himself and everyone else that lays their eyes upon it, at the same time. An incredible achievement.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Perfect movie, and the perfect starting point for Bergman, 1 April 2009

This was the first film I watched by Ingmar Bergman, and in my eyes it's one of his very best. Ingmar loved to ask whether God exists or not, and while he may have devised more subtle ways to ask that question in later films, his directness in "The Seventh Seal" is one of the film's strong points. Antonius Block returns from fighting in the Crusades (Max Von Sydow) when he gets a visit from The Grim Reaper himself (Bengt Ekerot). But Antonious is not ready to die, and in order to buy himself some time, he challenges Death to a game of Chess. The Black Death has also taken hold of Antonius' hometown, and the villagers have been plunged into fear of the plague (The Black Death and the Crusades did not occur at the same time in real life, and this film is not meant to be historically accurate) The game of Chess continues throughout the film, and it even manifests itself through other characters in the film (one of the very first corpses found in the film could very well be an early pawn taken during the game of Chess). As Antonius travels through a village, along with his Squire Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand, who steals almost every scene he's in), he meets a variety of people, the most important two people are Jof and Mia, a couple of travelling artists very much in love, who also have a young son. Sven Nykvist may not have done the cinematography, but this is still one of the best looking films you could ever see. The dark and moody atmosphere is brilliantly reflected in the dark clouds, sinister forests and wonderful use of smoke throughout the movie. The soundtrack really adds to the mood, and the acting is nothing short of excellent. "The Seventh Seal" is only 90 minutes long, and Ingmar Bergman manages to say more in this film than some directors can say in over twice the running time: The existence of God, man's mortality in limited time, the damaging effects of war on a man's faith and an artist's importance to humanity. "The Seventh Seal" is a dark, thought-provoking movie on the human condition. Not only is it classic Bergman, it is classic cinema.

Ran (1985)
7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A glorious achievement by Kurosawa, 19 March 2009

Akira Kurosawa had given the world so much throughout the 50's and 60's: Seven Samurai, Throne Of Blood, Ikiru, Rashomon, Yojimbo to name a few. These are 5 brilliant movies in their own right that any director would want to have had their name attached to in any way, shape or form.

But the 70's, 80's and 90's seemed to be difficult for Kurosawa to make movies: He only made 7 films from 1970 up until his death in 1998. He was getting trouble for funding his movies, some people criticised him for being too western and old-fashioned. Kurosawa even attempted suicide at one point, but thankfully he survived. He had wanted to make "Ran" for over a decade, but he couldn't find the funding, until Serge Silberman helped him out with the funding.

So it was 10 years in the planning, the entire storyboard was painted by Kurosawa, the costumes were designed by Kurosawa and created over a 2 year period, 1400 extras and 200 horses were used in the battle scenes, Kurosawa's wife even died during the production of the film. After all the difficulty in making the film, how did "Ran" turn out? Extremely well, extremely well indeed.

Ran is the story of Hidetora Ichimonji, a powerful Warlord in feudal Japan. A man who has spent almost his entire life fighting for control, and has decided to hand over his power to his 3 sons, hoping to restore peace to the land after a lifetime of bloodshed. However, his youngest son Saburo voices his concerns bluntly, which Hidetora does not appreciate: He banishes Saburo and one of his vassals who defended Saburo (The fiercely loyal Tango).

What follows is a glorious exploration of greed, sexual politics, ambition, madness, loyalty, corruption, war, faith and revenge. Beautifully photographed, hauntingly scored, with incredible acting and brilliant direction culminate into one of the most emotionally shattering and incredible movies ever made. Not only is it the best film Akira Kurosawa ever made, it is also one of the greatest movies ever made. Akira Kurosawa has cemented his place as one of the greatest director's of all time with this film.

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