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|5 reviews in total|
As if that's even possible.
Ignore the trailers... and the critics. This isn't a thriller, and it never tries to be. It is, wholeheartedly, a comedy. Anyone who missed that must have been watching a different film, because it's funny - in fact, it's hysterical. But not because it's "so bad it's good". No, it's totally intentional. The lines are funny, the pauses are funny, the actors are funny... it's like a younger, slightly subtler, Venetian version of Red. What's not to like?
We're all used to seeing Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in dramatic roles - Finding Neverland, Public Enemies, The Changeling, A Mighty Heart... and it's so easy to forget that they can be funny. But they are, both of them. Johnny shines, as he always does. Angelina Jolie looks glorious, and when she smiles, the screen lights up. They don't have chemistry, critics say. Oh yes, they do, I say. More importantly, they seem to be enjoying themselves.
Johnny's Frank is delightful, touching and slightly mysterious. He has endless room to play around, and makes Frank memorable, and lovely, as only Johnny can. Angelina's role is more limiting, but she still makes it fresh and - yes - deeply amusing, parodying both herself and the genre in general. Watching her saunter around on her high heels, one can't help but recall what James Bond used to be like. This isn't Wanted or Salt: she has far more to do here than look cryptic and shoot people, and she does it very well.
Add to that the utterly magnificent Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, a few stereotypically dim Russian gangsters (they speak actual Russian, for once, and their funniest lines aren't subtitled) and Rufus Sewell, and there's no way you can go wrong.
Yes, there's a twist at the end - a twist that seemed to annoy most people. But does that take away from the film? No! It adds to it, because it's just so obvious, and natural, that it's all the funnier for it.
This isn't an intellectual film. Nor does it try to be. It's a romp, a fun romp with two beautiful, endlessly talented actors, set in a beautiful city (which is shot so beautifully that it becomes like a separate character). So who cares how intellectual it is? This is a film that's genuinely entertaining, from start to finish. And if it's snowing where you are, you'll certainly appreciate the sunshine. Give it a chance!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The most disappointing thing about "It's All About Love" is that its
concept is actually quite interesting (if very simplistic): the world
is literally freezing over due to a general lack of connection between
people. Some of the details of this futuristic world are very
atmospheric and beautifully shot -- the double-decked airplanes; all
fresh water freezing once a year; people regularly dropping dead in the
street; Ugandans, inexplicably and infamously, floating. Unfortunately,
these details -- easily the most memorable part of the film -- are only
mentioned or shown occasionally, and then drowned in an unnecessary and
It's as if the writer took this dystopia of his and decided it needed more action in it. He then added, not one, but two plots: the first, a more-or-less relevant story about a husband and a wife rediscovering their relationship; and the second, a completely bizarre and utterly unoriginal "twist" story about clones -- a story that has been done and redone so often that it's impossible not to laugh at. Sadly, the film ends up focusing, not on the dystopia or even the love story, but the clones, and thus loses any hope of being interesting. The twists, the "bad guys", the love story, and the dialogue become as generic as can be.
Apparently, the screenplay had been first written in Dutch, then translated to English. As a non-native English speaker, I can sympathize, but that doesn't make the awkwardness and stiffness of the dialogue any easier to deal with. It also doesn't help that the actors continually seem to be reading their lines out loud, like in a high school play, instead of saying them for the first time. Though this would be natural in a world that is so cold and disconnected, having the two main characters speak in the exact same way really doesn't help make them different or sympathetic at all, though they're obviously supposed to be.
All of the (Polish) characters float in and out of an accent (it doesn't sound like a Polish one, though); this inconsistency is disconcerting enough, but why make them Polish at all? Was it to depict the alienation of immigrants? Then, this doesn't work, because none of them ever even speak Polish. They all act like second or third-generation immigrants, but still have the accents. Why? The actors themselves seem lost as to why they're there at all. Sean Penn is unbelievably dull, and his whole character unnecessary (his purpose is to repeatedly shove the Important Message of the film down viewers' throats); Claire Danes has nothing to do but look pretty and cry -- a total waste. And as for Joaquin Phoenix, this is the only film of his (and I've seen them all) where he is utterly uninteresting. His usual passion, humour and intensity are lost here.
Had the film focused more on its own atmosphere, relying less on action and dialogue and more on its cinematography, its music, and its actors, it could have actually been very beautiful. The entirety of the plot, however, renders it tedious and incredibly frustrating. This could have been a fascinating short film; or one of those perfect "slow", "European" films that most people (not me) love to hate -- then it would have at least been earnest. But as it is now, it's just underdeveloped, emotionless and icy... just as awful as the world it tries to portray.
I saw Repo for the first time less than a week ago, expecting to adore
it (based on the trailer). I didn't; I hated it: the songs, Alexa
Vega's performance, the ending... and the few scenes I did like could
not make up for my disappointment. But it stayed in my head - I
researched it and the people involved, went on the message boards, saw
how in love people were with it, found the soundtrack, ended up playing
it a dozen times repeatedly... and I just saw it again today. And I
loved it. Every second of it.
Repo is not for everyone. A musical about organ transplants? Sounds like a joke, right? Most of the songs are based around what seems like four or five notes; the characters, in typical musical and comic book fashion, are fairly one-dimensional; the dialogue and song lyrics are sometimes painfully melodramatic; the gore is abundant... yes, this will have critics spitting. But the film is so shameless in its exaggerated melodrama, its overdone gore, that it becomes incredibly fun to watch. Seeing it for the second time, I looked past everything I disliked: I just went with it. And I had never enjoyed anything so much in my life.
I won't talk about the story; I think that plot is secondary to something like this. More important, I think, is the atmosphere, and the atmosphere here is exquisite. The cinematography, sets and editing are quite unforgettable. The details of the alternate reality it builds up are by turns terrifying and hysterically funny.
But the cast here is key. Had it been different, the film might have fallen apart, but the actors here are truly wonderful, very funny and, as diverse as their backgrounds are, they work brilliantly together. They transform their caricature-like characters into memorable and vivid creations. The most notable are Terrance Zdunich and his Graverobber, Paris Hilton's Amber Sweet (you have to see it to believe it) and the always incomparable Anthony Head. They alone are worth watching the film for. However, I enjoyed the other performances well - all but Alexa Vega's. Technically, she's the main character of the film, but the flaws in her one-note (in every way) performance are easy to ignore when she's surrounded by so many fascinating actors and characters.
Many things about this film are frustrating, or will be to first-time viewers: the "sing-talk" is difficult to get used to; the story is predictable, and the ends get tied up far too nicely; the screenplay is hilariously ridiculous; the humour is blatant, very in-your-face, some may say "tasteless", and there is much gore. The way I see it now, though, the key to watching this movie is not to take it seriously. If taken seriously, of course Repo will seem pretentious, repetitive, gratuitously gory, dull, uninvolving, and so on and so forth. But it's actually a very funny and accurate parody of musicals, slasher films, comic books, and even makes some startlingly real points about society (particularly plastic surgery). It doesn't oversaturate itself by pretending to be "original". It is simply shameless in everything from its music to its gore to its camp.
If you like straight-forward, realistic, emotional, "normal" films, this might not be for you. But if you like gore, camp, bizarre people and characters, leather and sharp objects, original music, if you want to see Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman actually act, if you have an ounce of respect Anthony Head and want to hear him sing again after "Once More With Feeling" -- this is for you. If you feel like discovering a new world, dozens of incredibly addictive and fun songs, and becoming part of an unbelievably dedicated fanbase, see it. Maybe you still won't like it... but maybe you will. Either way, I promise you will remember it.
Darren Lynn Bousman advised everyone, even those that hated it, to write a review for Repo somewhere. So I did. And from what I can tell, the criticism he's facing right now for this film is the exact same criticism that was faced by Jim Sharman for Rocky Horror - and look where that got it. But Repo is flashier, grittier, bloodier, campier, and infinitely more atmospheric. And... Terrance Zdunich over Tim Curry any day.
The first thing one should know about "Chaplin" is that, paradoxically,
very little of it has to do with Chaplin. Or, at least, it has more to
do with the writers' illusions of him. The film claims to be based on
"My Autobiography" and on "Chaplin: His Life and Art", by David
Robinson. Having re-read the Autobiography before watching the film, it
is clear to me that what the writers did was take basic incidents from
the autobiography and embellish them with, I can only assume, parts of
the Robinson book. What results is a series of scenes which were
vaguely influenced by the facts, but so simplified and primitive that
little of the original truth remains.
What the writers did not wish to acknowledge was that when Chaplin wrote vaguely or skimmed past certain parts of his life, he really didn't want anyone to delve into them - and the filmmakers did just that. "Chaplin" is not really about Charlie Chaplin, his work and films. It is simply ceaseless speculation on his personal life, but going on even more vaguely about it than the Autobiography.
I am well aware that almost every biopic focuses more on the personal life of a person than on their work. The problem is that most of the characters in "Chaplin" are so exaggerated and simplified that they become almost completely unbelievable - both as the real people AND as fictional characters. None of them are fully developed. This is not entirely the fault of the supporting cast (although it really is not that interesting): the fault lies with the screenplay, which is too often bland and melodramatic. This is especially obvious in the ridiculous subplot concerning the older Chaplin and his editor, which is the most pointless and badly done part of the film; even Hopkins cannot make the lines sound credible, which is all the proof anyone needs of their mediocrity. The film would have worked immeasurably better without these additions.
Many of the most interesting aspects and parts of Chaplin's life are completely ignored, oddly, with seemingly irrelevant or less important stories added in for little reason. One scene in particular is added only to insert a Chaplin-esquire physical comedy sequence which falls flat. The writers greatly accentuated everything to do with Hetty Kelly, even making the same actress play Oona O'Neill; the tried too hard to give him some kind of motive for his relationships, which only leads to more bias and speculation; and although I am by no means a Chaplin purist or even a very knowledgeable admirer, the blatant alterations on the actual history grated on my nerves.
All this being said, the film is certainly not a terrible one. Mainly, however, this is for one reason only, and that is - yes - Robert Downey Jr. himself. The praise he received for the role is by no means undeserved. As Chaplin he is perfect, managing to make the best out of his rather predictable lines, remaining interesting, believable, and in many parts moving. He has wonderful timing and intensity, and even looks the part (he could even do the roll dance). I really quite believed he was Chaplin. Even his performance, however, suffers greatly because of the lines - and the flash-forwards. I have no doubt that he could have played an even better Charlie Chaplin in a differently made film.
The greatest scene in "Chaplin", I think, is the opening credits: Charlie arrives in his dressing room, alone, sits, and begins to remove his make-up. The scene is in black and white, and there is no dialogue - only music. Every emotion is expressed simply through his eyes. If the rest of the film had been made like this, I actually think it could have been perfect. Either way, the lead performance is astounding, the music is beautiful, and though not very insightful or too true to history, this film is well worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I read the book a couple of years ago, and found it to be very dark but not by any means boring. Now, we are studying it, and our teacher brought both movies for us to watch. Unfortunately, we watched this one first. Right after the first scene, I knew that this movie would be terrible. None of the actors fit their description, and every single one of them cannot act; not that the script helps. Eery scene is rushed and senseless - I cannot imagine how anyone who has not read the book can understand what's going on. Then there is the fact that they swear. A lot. Believe me, I have nothing against swearing, but the whole point of the book was that these were more or less polite, normal, *British* boys, who turned into monsters in a very short period of time. Here they were so bossy and arrogant already, that it was hard to tell the difference. Jack was made into some sort of "bad guy" who "steals cars", robbing him of any sort of dignity that he retained in the book even after his descent into monstrosity. Piggy... Piggy had a high, whiny voice, and the sight of him slobbering over his broken glasses was enough to make me sick: another good character wasted. The Piggy in the book, at least, was not stupid. And the scene of his death lacked the horror and the suspense of the book. It is funny how only a few written words can contain more emotion than a five-minute movie scene. Simon's character was also ruined; the most awesome scene in the book was simply not there. Why? And what is with the pilot? His presence took the place of the beast - not a good replacement. The beast itself was barely mentioned. There were two scenes which I somewhat enjoyed - Simon's body floating in the water (not the scene of his death), and the chasing of Ralph through the burning forest - both these scenes take less than a minute. This movie is not worth watching. I suggest you don't.