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taifunu

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31 reviews in total 
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92 out of 124 people found the following review useful:
I think I just found myself a new favorite director, 14 July 2013
9/10

It wasn't exactly a surprise, though. To paraphrase a character from the movie, I knew he had it in him. But knowing and actually seeing are two different things. The movie has an old school feel to it - and yet not. It builds slowly, maybe too slowly for most people's taste. Slowly, subtly, steadily; like the bass line of a Foo Fighters song. Like a lazy snake that uncoils in the sun. Like Chi in meditation. It picks up its pace only after 40 minutes or so. But until then, the audience is given plenty of details, hints and reference to work with - if so inclined. And when things do start happening, it's beautiful to watch. Yes, it does have a few stiff and/or formulaic moments but given the genre and it being a directorial debut, this was inevitable ;) Also, in spite of the genre and the references/homages to other movies,Reeves' directing style is original.He might have been inspired by the masters, but he doesn't borrow from any of them. Like Tiger, Reeves created his own style: ironic,realistic, minimalist, sharp, punctual, complex,subtle, multi-layered. Although being promoted as a 'kung-fu movie', Man of Tai Chi is much more than that. It's a meditation on many aspects and trappings of today's life. But none of them are spelled out in neon letters; it's up to the audience to recognize them. All in all, it's like... a Chinese menu: there's something in it for everyone, but some of the dishes are not everyone's favorites...

If there's one thing the movie fan in me wanted more of, it's real interaction between Reeves' and Karen Mok's characters. I would have wanted to see the sparks fly ;) But the more I think about it, the more I realize that by not including that element, the team made the right artistic decision which served the story, not the sheer entertainment factor. And that's a bold thing to do.

Well done, Mr.Reeves. very well done. Looking forward to the next one :)

12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
loved it, loved it, loved it., 22 April 2013
9/10

an almost unexpected surprise in today's world focused only on feel-good movies. a multi-layered little gem. a story about loneliness, disappointment, pain, despair, and ways to cope with all that. a story about human connection and lack thereof. a story about games of power, seduction and domination. a meditation on how people behave in front and behind a camera. And the camera becomes a fourth character; a silent witness that's central to the plot; a fourth player that changes the rules of the game. it's a story about finding hope - or not. no,it's not everyone's cup of tea. yes, it will make most viewers uncomfortable. but those who have patience with this movie will be rewarded with a story that sticks with them for days. it's haunting. as long as such movies can still be made, there's still hope. it means the moviemakingmagic is still alive.

34 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
It's an ode to cinema,, 10 June 2012
10/10

this film is. It's about marking a turning point in the history of cinema and raising awareness about it. Yes, it's a subject that's been discussed and bitched about for what, 10 years now, ever since Lucas proclaimed that film is dead. But maybe for the first time it brings all the opposite opinions together. Side by side. (Loved the editing - it was just like watching a tennis match) And for people like myself, 'civilian' moviegoers who while watching a movie often found themselves forgetting about the popcorn and instead wondering 'how it's made?', this film is like Christmas in June :) I mean, I've read a bit about film making; I've come across some of the terms and looked up their definition; I knew what a DP does; I've scratched a bit the surface of the whole wide world of movie making. But to have the main processes explained clearly, precisely and in a language I could understand, all this in a one-and-a-half hour film, was like... like attending film school but without the (almost always compulsory) elitism and snobbery ;) :D

And watching the documentary at a film festival was a special experience per se. It was shown in a small old-fashioned theater, with creaking seats and wood floors and velvet curtains and no air conditioning; and old theater where once I used to go watch old cinematheque movies in black-and-white. There was a bitter-sweet irony about it. The audience was formed mainly by film festival guests and film students; people with technical background in movie making, and a few lost souls like myself, who just wanted to watch the documentary we read so much about. And it was a joy to see them react to the technical jokes; to hear a few of them hoot when on the screen someone was talking about the operator and the DP losing their god-like status on the set, or to hear them snicker when Cameron rhetorically asks Reeves 'you've been on a few sets in your life, haven't you?'

It's a film about nostalgia and inevitability, with a very light note of sadness.

But this was just the first date, and I'm quite taken with the film, so I'd really like to get to know it better. You know, take it on a second date, then a third. I'll take it to the movies, the old-fashioned way ;) I'll wine it, dine it, maybe even take it on the obligatory weekend to Paris. It could be the beginning of a long lasting relationship. So, when is the DVD gonna be released ? ;) :)

Somewhere (2010)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Lost in Translation all grown-up, 20 March 2011

Watched Sofia's 'Somewhere'. Loved it. Loved everything about it: the sarcasm of the Foos' 'Hero' playing in the background of the opening scene; the press conference scene; the white mask; and especially the minimalism of it. The way Sofia uses her camera as a detached, silent witness. The way she observes everything, without judging, without blinking, just like Cleo does.

'Somewhere' is Lost in Translation without the glitz and cliché's and the star treatment that made the Academy pay attention; without the 'classic' plot development; without any attempt at humor, except the involuntary moments. It's Lost in Translation all grown-up.

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
for once I agree with the Academy... and it scares me ;), 13 May 2010
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Finally managed to watch 'The Hurt Locker'. And I say finally because I had to watch it in two 'sessions'. Taking a break of two days between the first hour and the second. Can't explain why. Maybe it was just too much. Too much of what? Sheer film, I suppose. There's something haunting and intense about Bigelow's minimalism - as opposed to you-know-who's pretentiousness and grandeur and megalomania. With Bigelow it's all about details. The bullet shell. The wind blowing the dirt. The hungry, dirty, three-legged cats. The Iraqi boys speaking rap slang. And then there's the mix of shaky camera images, documentary-style, and the 'classic film' shots... I also liked the way Ms.Bigelow teased us, bringing in Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes only to kill them 5 minutes after... ;) XD

There's probably a lot more to be said about this film, but I can't do it. Can't write about films I really like. Can't find my words. That's why I'll never be a film critic ( thank gods !)

Haven't watched the other nominees for 'best movie' , except for 'Avatar' and 'Inglorious Basterds', but I dare say that for once I happen to agree with the Academy.

And for those who said this film won the awards it did because it sort of glorifies war - opposed to what Cameron's extravaganza did ; WATCH both films, then think again. Most of Bigelow's films are about a certain part of the human psyche. About the need for the adrenaline fix. The way I see it, that's what 'The Hurt Locker' is about, not war per se.

Legion (2010)
6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The film had potential. Too bad the angels got to it first., 21 April 2010
4/10

Just watched Legion (2010) It starts like Terminator. It ends like Terminator, Sarah Connor's bandanna included. And maybe even the guns in the back of the car. Several scenes cry out Matrix reference, but hey, it's almost a must. Besides, Matrix fan here, so I guess this could be a biased perception. The first half of the movie looks like an imitation of 'Constantine'. Francis Lawrence and his director of photography ( one Philippe Rousellot) should be proud. I guess. Heck, even Connie's lighter makes a cameo appearance in this film ! Then it's all a messed-up mix of various references. Matrix, The Seventh Sign (1988) Jet Li movies, you name it. Okay, I know it's a post-post-modern world out there. But there's a fine line between ( close) references or homage and heavy borrowing. And when I hear lines like " Why do you continue to fight? When you know all hope is lost?" and the hero's answer is 'Fuck you", my mind stops – and then in a split second pulls out of the archive the 'Oh! In two hundred years we've gone from "I regret but I have one life to give for my country" to "Fuck you!"? … I'm glad Neo isn't alive anymore to hear this. :(

And the above reaction/analysis could mean several things. One is that I should stop watching movies in Keanu Reeves movies terms. ( Although it's hard to see how this could be done, as, to quote a friend, I've got Connie engraved on my brain cells. ) . The other, far more disturbing , is that I've fallen into the (amateur) film critic's mind set. Which is something I promised myself – ever since listening to the film critics' commentary to the Matrix movies ( shrewd, the Wachowskis are ) - to never let happen. Begone, Satan !

Stop. Replay. The movie, I mean.

… and I still see all the above. But I like the idea of Michael being the rebellious one. To quote my friend ( again), "Gabriel is the decision maker, Michael the warrior.[…] decision makers learn not to second guess themselves - warriors just carry out the judgments […] which means that the warrior can take a moment to think it over - and second guess.." I wish the moviemaker would have played with this idea more. Instead, we're given action scenes over action scenes and just a "You gave him what he asked. I gave him what he needed" line. And Michael's little chat with Jeep in the still of the night. But I wanted more talk and less fighting. More food for thought and less action scenes. In the same time, a comment on these pages says : "Jet Li movies have a lot more "kung fu". In fact, so does The Matrix, and that also has gun-fu." (KentaroK) I had to smile. Oh well, can't please everyone…

Add to all the above the annoying, 'in-your-ears' too obvious score.

The film had potential. Too bad the angels got to it first.

Avatar (2009)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
entertainment ? yes. technical achievement ? yes . but..., 26 December 2009
8/10

*The first duty of a movie is to entertain.* someone said on a blog's commentary section. and by all gods, Cameron's Avatar does that. pity it stops there …

It's a 3D special effects extravaganza. It's… a movie written and directed by James Cameron, post-Titanic. 'nuff said.

But the characters are sketchy, the lines are clicheistic, and the only one who saves the day, in more ways than one, is Sam Worthington. ( Ribisi is great too, but his part is more of a cameo than a real part ) Strip away the effects and the score and the beautiful CGI scenery of Pandora, and there isn't much to the story. At least not what I ask of a 'good' movie. It's entrancing to watch in 3D on the big screen, yes. But when it ends, I yawned and stretched and felt the need for a coffee. And that was all. Didn't make me want to take a deep breath and reconsider the reality around me. Didn't make me want to buy a ticket for the next show, just to see it again. Didn't make me almost miss a traffic light. Other movie(s) did that. Not this one.

"He's designed it to bring people back to the cinema. […] Jim has always said to me that he wants to bring people back to the movies, and he's a smart enough man for that to be tactical." Worthington said about Avatar. Yes, the movie does that. It's a return to the glorious Hwood kind of movies. It does bring people back to the theater. But I'm missing that 'something' ... the 'splinter' the first two Terminator movies left in my mind... Roger Ebert likes it, the Academy will like it… but it leaves me wanting more. More what ? Dunno. Maybe real quality storytelling over astonishing cinematography?

Okay, Cameron lured people back to the movies. Now it's time that someone uses this opportunity and gives them also some food for thought. Not only great visuals and popcorn.

Watchmen (2009)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
great sound editing ;), 18 June 2009
8/10

I'm watching the movie and I think 'darn, this guy (Snyder) really has an eye for translating graphic novels onto the screen ! he just makes the drawn panels come to life... ... and then I think better about it and realize I'm somehow disappointed. What he did with 300 and Watchmen was to film the drawings, frame by frame... guess I wanted more than that. guess I wanted a re-telling of the story, not just a translation... But it works. it catches the essence of the comics. Maybe Moore should watch the movie. Don't know what he'd think of it, but he should at least watch it.

And the sound editing is just brilliant!

oh, and people, get over the use of the "Hallelujah" song, it was a joke ;) :))

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
not blockbuster material, but..., 17 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me start by saying what this movie isn't . It's not the original. Obviously, it couldn't be. But it's an interesting re-telling of it. It's not yet another alien invasion movie. It's not Independence Day. At the end of the day, no-one gets to cheer that we kicked the big bad alien's taillights. Or that we blew up the big bad asteroid which was just minding its business… It's not a movie about aliens. It's a movie about US – and our paranoia. Our fears. Our hysteria.

And it's not a 'green' movie, either. I mean, Klaatu is actually eating a tuna sandwich…

But it's no blockbuster material, either. Or at least,doesn't seem like it to me.

It's got beautiful cinematography, though . AND little subversive lines. (And for those who complain this movie has images which remind us of The Sphere, Contact, or Close Encounters of the Third Kind… pop-quiz , what do all these movies have in common ? answer : they hold the mirror at US)

It doesn't preach, it just suggests. It gives us the test paper, but we're the ones who have to connect the dots and find the hidden figure in the drawing… It doesn't have any moralist speech at the end . we're past speeches. "They" have tried to talk with our elected authorities, but all we did in response was to wave our guns. So the message is given at an individual level. And there is where we'll have to look for salvation, in the end. Inside us. The change will start with each and every individual who'll make it.

It has an interesting parallel, too : in both versions, Klaatu learns what it means to be human mostly from the boy. But in the 2008 version, the kid mirrors the "us against them" mentality of the society. " we should kill them anyway, just to make sure" . Thing is, this kid is able to change. How about the rest of us?

As for Reeves' Klaatu… it's been said he's sinister, menacing… he might appear that way. But above all, he's simply… ALIEN. From the very first moment, you get a clear feeling that whatever's watching through those eyes, it's not human.

7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
"you don't get points for trying' ", 3 December 2008
6/10

... or what Ostrakosmos ( another poster ) said ;)

truth be told, the movie tries. it takes random scenes from the novel, it even translates them onto the screen line by line... sometimes. some other times, it rewrites them completely... and poorly. IMO, the problem is that we get only half of the story. or rather, one third... OK, one can't film social criticism - maybe- but at least one shouldn't butcher a splendid novel. we get part of Bruno's desperation and madness, but we don't get to feel or see Michel. what we are given instead is a mere caricature... and it's a pity. the two brothers were each at one end of the human emotions specter. we were given the lower end, but how about the higher one ? I agree, it IS a challenge to bring Michel onto the screen, in a believable way. a challenge the director and the scriptwriter took... and failed at. in the same way, Annabelle's story is ...not diminished, but almost nonexistent. her drama was the catalyst for Michel's drama, but...the movie does not show this. in any way. and on top of all that, the movie starts with the novel's ending, ruining the whole point ! AND it does not touch at all the revolution brought by Michel's utopia ... long story short, in Bruno's language, the novel "delivers" . the movie does not.

great soundtrack, though ;)

oh, to think what Wim Wenders could have done with this material...


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