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All the hallmarks of liberal filmaking
This film demonstrates a clear political bias - which is fine.
However, when the political bias reworks history and throws in rather questionable assertions to conform to a typical (liberal) narrative, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that it badly taints the film.
Most liberal hallmarks were covered:
1) The film bends the facts and jumps to highly questionable conclusions, yet the title includes (or is) the word "Truth."
2) The view that Republicans effectively manage the mainstream media and can force out journalists they don't like.
3) Liberal-bias in media is ignored, downplayed or regarded as sensible people simply giving the facts and truth.
4) Facts and scenarios significantly undermining their retelling of history are simply ignored or sidestepped - like the full history of the source of the documents.
5) Liberals who paid a price for their own sloppiness or wilfull blindness are touted as crusaders of truth (or martyrs as some have said).
Performances were reasonably good and that's where I gave it marks.
But the distortion of history goes way past any reasonable sense of 'poetic license' and while I'm not American, I recall the events covered in the film and it's clear that the makers of the film hoped out memories had faded significantly.
Overall, a fairly weak effort
I was going to give this film 4/10. However, way too many people clearly walked out of this film and gave it 10/10 on IMDb without proper objective assessment and were too caught up in the hype. One thing I can say for sure: this film should not be in the top 250 films of all time and should not have an overall rating of 8.6. To bring balance to the force, I'm going to slightly under-rate it.
On a positive note, the opening was fairly good and action scenes involve ships battling it out were fun. At times, shades of the original trilogy came through.
But what others say is very true. It's almost like they took the base story line of Episode 4 (A New Hope) and "reworked" it. What's worse is that they also seemed to have their version of the bar scene and as expected, it was like a Jim Henson eye candy festival of strange looking characters, some playing music. Both broadly and in the detail, there was a real over arching lack of creativity and too much revisiting of previous films.
There seemed to be a bit of conflict in the imagining of the new trilogy, as the writers wanted to preserve ties with the old, but roll in a new generation of heroes to push the story forward. Harrison Ford looked too old for playing Han Solo again and didn't add much to the film by being included in it. Leia seemed tired and weak overall. Luke Skywalker: well here's my big spoiler: I can't believe how much he was billed as a leading cast member, yet is in the film for about 90 seconds at the end and doesn't say a word.
I'm afraid that the lack of character development and patient story telling was obvious as well. Alec Guiness sitting down and recounting "before the empire... before the dark times" was part of the original Star Wars magic. With this film, it seemed that they tried to cram lots of action in for no good reason and this came at the expense of the audience learning more about the characters' backgrounds and recent history of their universe. Most characters seemed stressed and few had charisma.
After the dust settled on the initial reactions to this film, I saw a lot of people being very critical of it and I started to suspect that it might be like Attack of the Clones: initial reactions were big, but it was ultimately a forgettable Star Wars that one really doesn't bother re-watching. With this in mind, I'd have to say that it's better than I thought it would be.
But after all other criticisms, the big one that annoyed me was the implausibility and stupidity of the character's capabilities. Poe was able to jump into a tie fighter and outrun and out-gun experienced pilots. Rey suddenly knows how to do a Jedi mind trick and fight (and nearly defeat) Kylo in a light saber duel with no training. Finn was strangely able to land blows as well, when Kylo seemed powerful enough to Jedi choke them without a fight. And why exactly did he bother wearing a mask at times? I wouldn't really bother watching it again, but I felt it was just good enough to entice me into seeing the next one.
Pathetic and stupid film, dressed up as artistic and complex
This film truly was awful. I was keen to see it, but within 30 minutes, I debated whether I should turn it off or keep going. I chose the latter and it will be a decision I regret for some time.
Michael Keaton was fairly good, as was Ed Norton. But their characters were neither likable nor multi-faceted. Somehow this film feels like it would find favour amongst US actors who have been on the Broadway circuit and foolishly believe that there is such thing as a "New York state of mind." It tries to deal with some interesting themes - 'feelings of irrelevance as we age' being the main one. However it doesn't flesh it out enough and keeps interrupting itself with these stupid injections of his superhero character from yesteryear.
The only advice I have is this: if you feel like turning it off 30 mins in, go ahead and do so. It doesn't hit any great heights and is more-or-less the same style and feel the whole way through.
Before Sunset (2004)
Stunning - another snapshot of life in your 30s
Loved the first film and this second film was just as good. Surprisingly short, yet shot in 'real time', the acting is strong and the script is a magnificent piece of work.
Some may feel that this was more mature than the first film, but in ways, that's how it should be. The film is completely about two characters and the world around them is passingly incidental. However, years have gone by and they are now in their 30s, dealing with concepts of marriages and relationships that are running into difficulties and pondering questions of faithfulness to practicality vs daring pursuit of happiness... and perhaps fate.
Could not take my eyes off the film and the ending hits the mark perfectly. I particularly loved how the performances were top notch and natural, nothing went 'over the top' and the dialogue captures the spirit of the first film without trying hard to reproduce or 'go own better'.
Highly recommended and this "Before..." series is magic and moving, as is the scenery and direction. Surprised that it's an American production. Can't wait to see the final installment and Boyhood.
Before Sunrise (1995)
A simply brilliant snapshot of life at that age at that time
It's rare that I give a film 10 out of 10. I am one to regularly give films harsh reviews (even supposedly good ones).
This was simply captivating cinema and I'm strangely annoyed that I hadn't seen it sooner.
It's not about the story. It's about the people in it. The acting is brilliantly natural and I couldn't help by look back at my times of my early 20s, where your eyes are opening to the realities of life and the world, holding onto optimism, coming to grips with the concept of love, dealing with disappointment and resentment, social awkwardness; and contemplating ones own mortality.
These things form the basis of many conversations throughout the film as two travelers almost "suspend reality" while they fall in love over night, then grapple with it all ending at sunrise.
It moved me deeply, but not in a depressing way. It simply stirred a lot of reflection on the past and the way we all were once upon a time. Best of all, it didn't fall into mushiness and become a sloppy Hollywood love film with a happy ending. It was deep, but totally realistic, well films, create scenic contrast and mesmerizing direction. I can't recommend this film enough and look forward to the sequels.
Contrived and unsatisfying
Imagine that a scriptwriter was asked to write a play about doubt and, rather than writing something with subtlety, intrigue and intelligence, he/she decided to conjure up a story where nothing is certain and there are uncontrolled splatters of doubt derived from deliberately strange reactions and body language of the various characters in various situations. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the film, (fittingly) unimaginatively titled "Doubt".
Meryl Streep graced the screen in another Oscar-bait role, yet her performance was not her best work and her strange, kinda-southern accent was silly and unnecessary. Amy Adams was excellent. Hoffman was not bad, but how hard is it to really portray a character under pressure and accusation? There were many unrealistic and overly dramatic aspects to the film and the ending was even more contrived and pathetic - much like seeing the rat walk across the screen at the end The Departed - and most of all, the lack of full resolution left the viewer unsatisfied.
The only real positive is that it was nominated for 5 Oscars, but didn't win 1. Right outcome!
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Lacks a complete, coherent argument and ordinary production qualities
Much of the criticism leveled at Fahrenheit 9/11 is about lies and misrepresentations. As far as I was concerned, the film's main problem is that it failed to deliver complete and singular line of thinking and came off as fairly incoherent.
We are shown that all flights were grounded, but special treatment was given to the Bin Laden family to leave the US. It's implied that the George W or related federal government influences made this happen. So what do we take away from this? Well it seems that this open to interpretation and the nature of the relationship is not explained. Seems there's some sort on convoluted relationship, though what's the significance or point of it all?
Sometimes I wondered whether more was implying some kind of larger conspiracy, but he doesn't! Though it's hard to pinpoint exactly what Moore is driving at by giving us all these facts, that are somewhat 'floating in space.'
Similarly, George Bush didn't react quickly to news of the 9/11 attacks and allowed the children to read a story about a goat. This is seemingly significant, but why exactly??? Is Moore suggesting that Bush doesn't care? That he knew in advance? That he's an idiot? That he doesn't care about Americans?
The US sent troops into the Middle East, but Bush didn't send enough and didn't send them fast enough and the terrorists all got away, but at the same time, it's terrible that the US military is even in there in the first place. Hmm... So is it a good or bad thing that terrorists were pursued?
Recruitment for the military is directed at poor youngsters and African Americans. The people who have so little are always the first to take to arms in service of their country, Moore contends. It's a rightful and poignant point to make. Yet there's some kind of racism and overtones of lower-class inferiority in a capitalist society, which seem misplaced in the context of the film. The woeful and shallow-minded "Congress should send their children to fight in the war too" part seemed to open up a contradiction, as it seems to advocate sending more troops to war while also denouncing the war. It's all very... muddled. And constipated.
It was like that classic mistake you made when writing essays in high school: you list a pile of facts that are relevant, but fail to use them to make a coherent argument and work to completely tie it all together.
Combine this with the fact that the production qualities were poor. The handycam look interspersed with grainy news clips and and rigid editing gave it a cheap and 'college-level' feel.
There's no doubt that this did not deserve the Palm D'or. While Tarantino assured Mike Moore that Fahrenheit 9/11 got the award for the film and not the politics, it's impossible to see how the judges felt that way and they clearly overlooked that this film/documentary is actually quite poor, regardless of the facts and politics.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Good but not super impressive
The Dark Knight Rises is a pretty good film, though not particularly special. Action was well directed, the new toys are impressive and the storyline is fairly easy to follow.
Bane seemed somewhat overdone - more like a caricature than a deep menacing villain. There was also a noticeable "dip" in the middle of the film where I found myself losing interest, mainly due to the plot failing to progress meaningfully. I thought it also drew on connections to the previous films extensively, which doesn't work well and certainly for those who have not seen the first two films.
That doesn't necessarily make it a bad film, but prevents it from being great in its own right. Ultimately it seemed like this installment lacked depth and personality that others had.
It didn't surpass The Dark Knight. Funny to see how many of the actors in Inception turned up in this film.
The Peacemaker (1997)
One of the subplots derailed the film
The Peacemaker was a good and watchable film. The opening was solid and the structure of the story seemed interesting. Unlike other films of this genre, some intelligent and investigative plot lines unfolded.
But ultimately the film should have steered clear of the plot line involving the Yugoslav character. Chasing the weapons, solid action, but running along side a rather silly plot about a man who seeks to avenge the deaths of his wife and daughter, and the war at the heart of it all, by detonating a nuclear bomb in the UN in New York. It became sentimental, far-fetched and sent the plot off course.
I can only describe it as destabilising the main plot and I think that this is why a lot of people thought it was 'ok' but not great.
excellent film - best in a long time
I think Hollywood has battled to get a good film out for many years. While most has just been 'formular' rubbish and sequels, the occasional 'outside the square' film is often ridiculous, boring or starts with a good idea but doesn't know where to go with it.
Inception open powerfully and delivers intrigue, unique plotting and provides a great level of character development and depth. The story never gets sidetracked, is well paced and, at last, doesn't treat the audience like idiots by explaining everything in detail. You are simply dropped in and you have to put the pieces together yourself and it really works well.
At the same time, one thing I found a bit mystifying were people who said that simply didn't understand it at all. I find that odd because the film is ultimately complicated, yet not incomprehensible. It's also great to watch a second and third time.
A lot has been said about the ending and people have come away with different interpretations. I think that's worthy of a big hats-off to the film makers and its been a while since i saw a film that had such a great closing. With that said, my view was that it was real and the director was just being a little cheeky because he could! After all, wouldn't you want to throw a fun curve ball in the end if you were making this film? Overall it's highly original, well executed, supreme production and the stunning soundtrack (and sound effects)deserve a special mention. Excellent watch and one of the best films in the last 10 years.