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Broken Kingdom (2012)
Found the movie after becoming of a fan of the Elijah character from "The Originals" TV series. My review is likely not objective since I normally don't give a dime about characters sporting massive beards, if not for Daniel Gillies.
That said, for other people who watch independent films because they like good drama, character studies, human stories, ... etc, do not miss this gem.
Wonderful does not begin to describe it. This movie is like a soulful poem among a sea of literature providing cheap thrills & mindless entertainment. Great camera work, sharp dialog, beautiful actors and intense acting. The plot is so simple it can be summarized into a couple of sentences, yet the talented writer/director/actor Daniel Gillies managed to fill the 90+ minutes with alternatively: suspense, amusement, chaos and sadness...
Love it. Touched by it. I need to go back to watch it again, as I'm sure there're some symbolism in there not yet registered or digested first time around.
The associated documentary "Kingdom Come" is another great little gem all by itself. Makes me feel sorry for paying merely a few bucks for hours of enjoyment plus a bit of profound enlightenment. Even more upsetting is to know the fact that: not enough people will ever come across this - a unique piece of beautiful artwork made with passion, sweat, heart, by some gifted people who went broke and almost insane for it.
Le divin enfant (2001)
French comedy at its best
French are masters at making hilarious comedies! This one reminds me of "Dinner with Friends". Don't be fooled by the name or cover image - it's not for kids or those faint at heart. All the Catholic jokes you've ever heard, and then some, are seamlessly woven into a coherent & fast-paced story. This precious little hidden gem will definitely crack up the audience, excluding devout Catholics of course. Great choice on the lead actors, especially the teenage boy whose performance can make you laugh one minute then cry the next. And one more thing: don't watch dubbed version. Hearing the conversations in its original French tongue makes it that much funnier!
Unmistaken Child (2008)
Amusing, sad, but true
A young monk was given the sacred task of finding The One - the reincarnated child of his master who recently passed away. It proved almost too confusing and stressful for him: "Because I never planned for my life, you see. Everything was planned by Geshe-la: You are going to do this, you'll do that. So I always say 'yes', just follow, and I didn't think at all about what is going to happen next." Yet he came through, following the signs, guidance from older monks and his instincts.
An interesting character study indeed, of a simple, obedient youth who came from a humble village at the poorest corner of Earth, grew up in a convent, ended up shaping a world event through sheer devotion of religious faith. This is no laughing matter - this zealous personality actually believes everything he dreamed and imagined as the godly truth.
One interesting scene that's perhaps the most revealing moment of the film, is when this monk after hours of meditation, appeared spiritually enchanted by the harmonious nature, told the camera: "Everybody would dance, every nature, tree would dance... Such as this flower, so beautiful, happy and free." He unplugged the flower from the back of his ear and started mimicking dancing movement, then suddenly realized the flower would live no longer... so he said: "But sorry anyway, I... I took permission from the tree."
It is not hard to imagine what would become of that adorable, bright, innocent little "unmistaken" child. Any amusement I might have felt earlier was completely overshadowed by sadness and grief, after watching the 2nd half of this extremely objective and unflinchingly passive documentary.
X-files on the cuter and warmer side
Wow... what a dark, enthralling tale! The plot is so tight, story arc so suspenseful, acting so affecting, and the scenes so horrifying and heart-wrenching at the same time, I'm completely captivated just 3 episodes into the show and ready to buy the entire series.
The cover art does no justice at all - Skeet Ulrich with his goatee shaved off (trying to shake off the Johnny Depp curse?) looks so much like his "Scream" character, that I thought this was going to be another teen drama.
Gothic horrors it deliverers, but not jut for teens. If "Buffy the Vampire" is high school, then this is Post Graduate. It's intelligent as "The X-files", only cuter, warmer, and more soulful.
Yet, this great TV series was doomed and forgotten due to bad timing, while elementary level suspense and fantasy like "Heroes" and "Lost" got many seasons and followers... How incomprehensible and depressing, really, "GOD IS NOWHERE", or shall I quote Paul Callan "...why is God doing this?"
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
The most sadistic yet imposing film to date!
Some famous psychiatrists say: Human is a spiritual being. I agree - that's likely the reason behind my fascination about dragons, fairies, little green monsters from Mars, and long-hair-pale-faced Asian female ghosts...
Many other fellow human beings (30% of the world population, over 2 billion to be exact) choose to believe in a bearded man called son of god, so much so that they routinely congregate to worship under a statue of this half-naked scrawny guy who's permanently nailed to a cross.
Feeling compelled to understand, and perhaps also a need to fit in (nonbelievers *are* minority in this country, you know), I started watching this movie... and turned it off in the middle of the whipping scene.
Shocked and awed, puzzled and intrigued, I'm also slightly ashamed. This has to be the most sadistic yet imposing film in history. I have failed to be a true "horror fan", I shall immediately surrender the title to whoever made this film, bought this DVD, or gave it high rating - dude, if you can handle this much blood and atrocity, there's nothing you cannot accomplish!
Funny, sexy and witty
Funny, sexy and witty, Valmont is completely different from its movie counterpart: Dangerous Liaisons, which is based on the same novel. And in my (not so humble) opinion, far more superior.
My interpretation of the theme is the confrontation of innocence vs. experience, true love vs. marriage of convenience.
At the end, Valmont, the much loved young idealist dies by a darkly humorous suicidal act, symbolizing that romance and passion eventually give way to reality - a sad but inevitable result in an era of arranged marriage.
On a second thought, don't we all compromise and let go of our dreams and ideals at some point of life?
Nacho Libre (2006)
PG 3 and under, ONLY
Went to the theater for another movie but it was sold out, so here I am.
Jack Black was quite funny in "King Kong", and I WAS prepared to see a silly spoof for 10-year-old, so what can go wrong?
BOY WAS I WRONG!! It's meant for 3-year-old. Some slapstick/screwball I can handle; this one is too brain-dead to endure.
Only in the first 10 minutes I heard the audience cracking some laughter. It has a promising start, bearing a striking similarity to typical Stephen Chow's humors found in movies like "Kung Fu Hustle" and "Shaolin Soccer".
Then it went down hill. The rest is just plain garbage.
Lost in space, completely
When I reach 70, finally giving up my curiosity about the universe and turning to look inward, I'll perhaps learn to appreciate this film.
But no, not now. As a simple sentient of Information Age so used to quick surfing and browsing while taking in sensory assault of all kinds, I find this more painful than a 3-hour mindless meditation.
The whole time I fought the urge to doze off or fast forward. The ultra slow pace, repetitive scenes, outdated set design; the eerie silence, annoying organ music; the protagonists in their retirement age... all serve to turn off my appetite.
Like a huge puzzle with few clue, however poetic it is or whatever symbolic elements it contains, I've completely missed out and don't really care.
This is not science fiction. By putting an alien being into human form, the story leaves no room for imagination. It may be a tale of philosophy, spirituality, or love (the woman representing the never dying human desire, perhaps?...) but nothing about outer space.
If it must be compared with 2001 Space Odyssey (which is my all time favorite), the only aspect Solaris would win is the length.
Manufactured Landscapes (2006)
"Apocalypse Now" without fiction
Mesmerizing, breathtaking and horrifying, this hauntingly beautiful film is the "Apocalypse Now" without fiction. Slow in pace, quiet in mood, it gives good glimpses of the poisoned patches of Earth that may well be signs of an inevitable doom.
There is no doubt in my mind -- the nature is plagued and we are the disease. Greed, the very essence of humanity that drives evolution and progress, has turned us into something like cancer, on its way to consume the host and die with it...
Manufactured Landscapes is quite an unforgettable viewing experience - at least I'll never regard my toaster and iron the same way again.
Sci-fi for Creationists
Atheists be aware: yet another bible-preaching supernatural thriller in the disguise of Science Fiction. The Bush era has certainly left its mark on Hollywood productions like The Sign, I am Legend, and now this.
First half of the movie is enjoyable, with thrilling suspense and spectacular special effects. The disaster scenes are quite amazing. I would have loved the film if it stayed within the boundary of god and ghosts and witches and fate... Unfortunately, it decides to venture into science, namely, aliens and spaceships.
Take the art from Matrix, The Abyss, throw in a bit of Bible description, now we have the look of aliens. "But we don't know what to do with them, boss?" says the writer. So let them stand and stare. Let the spaceship rotate endlessly with its hypnotizing CGI charm. So, with Apocalypse looming, Nicholas Cage seems to have a world of time saying goodbye to his kid. Call me cruel, but I completely missed out on the touchiness of it because I was laughing hysterically at the fact that: according to the aliens, our genius MIT professor - supposedly a valuable human specimen, is inferior than 2 bunnies.
I would highly recommend this movie to creationists, especially families with young kids who tend to skip Sunday school. The implication of Noah, angels, and prophets, etc, are hard to miss. At the last sequence I fully expected to see a snake and an apple... Then the joke would be complete.