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10 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Visually stunning, emotionally appealing, 28 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film was a visual feast. I have not seen Miike's other films, although they are on my list of films to see, but I am well aware of his ultra-violent catalog and was pleased to see that was not at all the case with this film.

The film moves along at a somber pace, unfolding just as it should through the absolutely beautiful landscapes of China. Along the way we are entertained by the company of two entirely different people: Mr. Wada (Motoki), a Japanese businessman, and Ujiie (Ishibashi), a Yakuza gang member. Both men were sent to a remote village in China to investigate the potential of acquiring jade from the village. Their reactions to the rough trip out to such a remote village are hysterical at times, and yet when they arrive they find themselves perplexed by what they ultimately discover.

The film is really a reflection of the progression of mankind and just how much our perceptions of wealth and human value have changed over time. Confronted by such isolated beauty and tranquility, the men began to question their motives for arriving in the first place. It is clear that Ujiie truly understands what is at stake to be lost if they are to continue on with their business and it drives him to commit desperate acts in order to save what he sees as the impending loss of the villages cultural heritage and innocence.

The paradox of the situation is brought to light by Mr. Wada, who understands how Ujiie feels, but points out that it is modernity that brought them to such a place to begin with. Really makes you think about the relationship between technological advances (which, in some cases, are what the villagers want) and the effect they will have on the way of life in these rural villages. Is modernity worth the loss of cultural heritage?

Charming, light comedy that was a treat to watch, 21 March 2008

A very charming, light comedy about a Chinese-American girl (Wil, played by Michelle Krusiec) who is battling with her sexuality and the very conservative Chinese culture that is still all around her. Her situation is further complicated by the fact...(read more) that her single mother (Joan Chen), who is 48, becomes pregnant and is forced to live in her home. This creates some awkward situations for the entire family as Wil's mother is quickly disowned by her father and friends and Wil takes it upon herself to find her mom a husband.

The acting was superb throughout the movie, and the direction of Alice Wu in her first feature film was fantastic. The movie melds romance, comedy and drama perfectly and really makes you fall in love with all the characters. It was quite a treat to watch!

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A pleasant surprise!, 21 March 2008

Wow. What a pleasant surprise this movie was. Christian Slater delivers a fantastic performance as the extremely introverted and distraught Bob Maconel, who appears quiet and together on the outside, but is silently raging on the inside. The movie...(read more) trots on in a slow, almost surreal pace as a shooting in Bob's office changes his life by connecting him with his fantasy girl, Vanessa, who was wounded and becomes paralyzed.

What follows is the journey through Bob's mind as he attempts to sort out his problems and deal with the world around him. As the story unfolds, Bob becomes increasingly more aware of his "disease" and what it might make him capable of. Through brilliant script writing, a great cast, and effective camera work, we are able to get into the psyche of the lead character and are left haunted by the movie long after it is over.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Shallow but engaging, 21 March 2008

First off, I'm not familiar with the books, so I'm basing this review on the movie alone. I find it very hard to get into fantasy films and I usually grade tough, but this one was somewhat of an exception.

While the story line of this film was on the same level of complexity as say, Stardust, I think it was executed much better. The story was indeed very shallow, but it was easy to follow and there weren't too many annoying made-up words thrown in there. There is enough depth to make the viewer care about the main characters and get them involved in the story that unfolds, which is the most important thing. There are also ample amounts of interesting side characters thrown in the mix, my favorites being the ever great Sam Elliott and the polar bear.

Aside from the script, the acting and film direction were great. The films pace seemed just about right and the visuals were fantastic. I loved the effects used for dying souls, it was especially neat in the battle scenes.

All in all an enjoyable film, although the storyline was pretty shallow and it's easy to see the film is aimed at kids. In my opinion the acting in this film as well as the general storyline were better than Stardust, but they each hold their own in certain areas as Stardust was a much deeper film.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's all about the message, 21 March 2008

A fairly decent documentary that does a good job of covering almost all the major issues with border crossing and immigration between the United States and Mexico.

While it was quite obvious that it was shot on a low budget, the message is there and it's great to hear the opinions of people living right next to the border. Great points are brought up, both for and against immigration, but above all it does justice to the humanitarian side of the issue. I'm glad there are people out there helping the illegal immigrants live in the desert. While I would rather have legislation that makes it easier for immigrants to safely find work in the United States, there is no reason why people should have to die trying to cross here illegally. It's truly a very sad and complex problem and it desperately needs addressing.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Astounding, Inspiring and Intimate, 21 March 2008

An intense, personal look into the mind of a man suffering from locked-in syndrome. He was completely paralyzed by a stroke except for his left eye, which he uses to communicate with others through blinking. What follows is an introspective trip through his memories as he judges and regrets choices he had made.

The camera work of the film coupled with narration from Jean-Dominique make this very personal and intimate. You feel as if you are locked in his body and listening to his thoughts. It is quite an experience, and the direction allowed you to connect on both this personal level, and as an outsider looking in. This gives you the full picture of this man's life, his personal thoughts, and the experience of his friends and family.

It is really quite astounding that he was able to "write" an entire book in that state, and we are lucky to have such an intimate, detailed description of what it's like to be trapped like that. Very good film.

Control (2007)
Raw and highly personal journey through stardom and depression..., 21 March 2008

A raw, intense film about the life of Ian Curtis (lead singer of Joy Division). While I have, of course, listened to Joy Division, I never really knew the story behind the band or the suicide of their lead singer, so I didn't know any back story at ...(read more)all which made everything in this film quite new to me.

That said, I found this film very moving and quite personal and real. The situations Ian found himself in are so true to life, and it really is a shame he had to die so young and have such a confusing and depressing love life. But at the same time, his creative genius helped drive Joy Division to the brink of stardom (which it earned shortly before his death, and gained even more so afterwords), and it also helped to inspire a musical trend in several other artists.

I think a lot of people are looking to this movie as a story of the music of Ian and Joy Division, but anyone who has watched this can see that is entirely not the point. This film is about Ian's life, music just happened to be a large part of it. So although it does focus briefly on segments of their performances and songs (which, by the way, Sam Riley did a fantastic job of replicating), most of the movie deals with his relationships, his depression and his epilepsy.

I am glad they chose to film this in black and white, I think it added a lot to the character of the film and also made for some spectacular shots. Great camera work, good music, great acting (especially by Sam Riley), great movie.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Watch this movie if you want to waste 122 minutes of your life, 8 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seeing all the good reviews on here, as well as a high rating, I was expecting at least a half-way decent action/thriller movie. Boy, was I terribly mistaken.

The movie starts with the film's lone flashback (not including the magical telekinesis flashbacks), which feels very out of place as the film progresses. I guess it was just thrown in because they wanted to cover every possible action movie script in existence, and you know some of those contain flashbacks. It then proceeds to introduce you to Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) and give you a basic plot for the movie. Basically Joey's job is to conceal a gun that was used to kill dirty cops. Could make for a good movie, right? You are soon thrown into a bizarre mix of subplots and f-bomb dropping that would make Eminem roll over in his grave. First there's Joey's lovable Russian neighbor Anzor "Duke" Yugorsky who likes to beat up on his kid, Oleg Yugorsky (Cameron Bright), because he doesn't like John Wayne. Anzor is apparently bitter at America because John Wayne dies in the film. Frankly I can't think of a better reason to hate a country. So anyways, the kid gets mad and shoots his father, then randomly attempts to kill his neighbor, Joey, by shooting at his house. Could this be the same gun Joey was supposed to be hiding? No, it couldn't be! And there you have it, the ball is now rolling on this "Rube Goldberg" of a plot.

At this point, the film goes on to throw every imaginable action plot into the film as various subplots. We have crack-heads with creepy voices, drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, dirty cops, Mexican gangsters, the seemingly innocent and lovable child molesting/killing/torturing husband and wife, the Russian Mob, the Italian Mob, and even dirty cosmic glow in the dark hockey players acting as hit men. I know what you're thinking, they forgot to include the "desperate man trying to go places in the hospital that he shouldn't be in by dressing as a doctor" bit, well my friend, they even had that one covered. I have to give them credit for covering all the bases, although how they overlooked the dead-horse-head-in-bed trick is beyond me.

You are probably wondering why this film even deserved a 3/10. Well, I must admit that it was well-filmed. The techniques used in this film were top notch. The cinematography set excellent moods for each of the scenes in the film, the lighting was amazing and the film seemed to have lush and vibrant colors throughout. All of the special effects were well executed; they did some really neat stuff with camera angles and zooming in and out of objects. That is my reason for the 3 stars instead of 0, which the horrible script deserves.

This movie failed terribly at trying to be the end-all of action movies. I feel sorry for the film on which this movie was shot, because it definitely deserved a better use than this 122 minute mess of "lets see how much gore we can put in this scene" and "how many f-bombs can we fit in this sentence." If you actually force yourself to watch this film all the way to the end, pat yourself on the back and then laugh at the utterly ridiculous twist they throw at you. How this film has a rating over 5 stars is truly startling to me.

114 out of 208 people found the following review useful:
A surprisingly good film, 13 August 2006

I went into this film without expectations. I saw Flight 93 and enjoyed it and I am very interested in all events surrounding September 11th, so this film appealed to me. Now, I must say that I am not an Oliver Stone fan, however, upon hearing this movie was nothing like an Oliver Stone film I decided to check it out.

The storyline for the film, as stated, was based on the stories of a few Port Authority police who survived the collapse of the building while being trapped for hours in the rubble. At the beginning we are introduced to each of the characters and their families. It's enough to get us involved with each of them but leaves enough room to elaborate as the film unfolds. The film moves rather nicely without going too fast or slow. The vast amount of the film takes place after the towers collapse while the men are trapped in the rubble. The story is told through the trapped police officers current situation as well as what their families are going through at the same time.

I felt this story to be very natural and not Hollywood-ized, something I had been worried would happen. All the events seemed plausible, they didn't throw anything in for added drama. All of the characters were completely believable and you ended up loving all of them by the end. I will caution you though, there are some intense scenes in this movie so if you are unable to deal with some of the events from that day you may not want to see the film.

The cinematography and sound really aided this film. All of the filming was crisp and clean, the special effects were great and you could hardly tell this had been filmed after the towers were gone (the shots containing the towers that is). There were some great scenes from life in new york; shots of the skyline and the subway as well as some breathtaking aerials. The sound was spot on, you could feel the building collapse as the scenes unfolded on the screen. It was a great job all around.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was, it lived up to Flight 93, although it has an entirely different feel to it. This film is not ground-breaking work, but it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to tell the story of a few brave men and their families and their experiences during September 11th, and it accomplished this very well.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Well directed, well acted, but still falls short, 27 July 2006

I saw this film the day it came out and I didn't go in there with high expectations. The film started out wonderfully, the acting was on-par, the cinematography was great and you even felt compelled by the story. However, that said, you soon lose interest in the story-line.

The overall idea of the film was fairly good. It's purely fantasy, so you'd have to forgive a lot of stuff and not look too deeply into it, but if you can look past that it had promise. Unfortunately the story was very poorly developed. What (I'm guessing) M. Night intended to be a series of interweaving themes in the movie turned into one big jumbled mess. You couldn't tell where he was going with stuff half the time, he would drag out meaningless sections of the film and throw in humor and horror at random. He threw so many twists into the film that by the end you could easily guess what would happen next, it was almost an insult to the viewer to think they are that gullible. If the film was meant to be a serious suspense there were many scenes that should've been changed or left out. So all-in-all I feel the script has failed the film. What we could've seen as a well shot piece of art was ruined by the constant interruption of poor scripting.

Asside from the story-line, the film was very well acted. Paul Giamatti pulls through as always delivering a great performance as Cleveland Hepp, the bumbling landlord of the apartment complex. Bryce Dallas Howard does well for the most part as Story, the "narf" from the Blue World, although you tend to get bored of her by the end of the film. M. Night as an actor seemed sort of out of place, he made the scenes feel awkward, I would've cast someone else in the role (not to mention this draws attention away from more important aspects of the film and leaves you wondering if M. Night is getting full of himself). Many of the side-roles made this film somewhat bearable, such as Jeffrey Wright as Mr. Dury (the one armed body builder) and Bob Balaban as Mr. Farber (the local movie critic).

To sum it up, if you look at this film purely as a piece of art, it was very well shot, acted, and directed. However if you are trying to get into the story you may be sorely disappointed.