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Hanover Street (1979)
I knew this was a romantic movie upfront, but the WW2 stuff seemed interesting enough to take a look.
I must say that I watched the whole thing through, and it kept my interest. Its pretty predictable, but the characters stay rather true to themselves, and although the ending is predictable, its not necessarily obvious.
I will give credit for the locations/effects. The film never looks cheesy, and you can tell that effort was made to be authentic. It certainly is a war movie, there is blood and gore aplenty, not Saving Private Ryan gory, but enough to remind you this is war.
The movie has 2 parts, the romantic story in England, and then the adventure part in France. This split makes the movie go by rather quickly, I was kinda surprised this was not one of those WW2 miniseries that were so popular at the time.
I can't say that I would overwhelmingly recommend this movie, but if something about it strikes your interest, one of the actors perhaps, or in my case the setting of WW2, then I would check it out.
Strange Wilderness (2008)
It really is that bad...
There are some funny moments, I maybe laughed about ten times. Steve Zahn is NOT funny, Jonah Hill is horrible, that fake accent is even worse. It looks like the cast was really stoned in most of the takes, and not in a good funny way either. I saw this movie for free otherwise I would be angry at the money I just wasted.
This is a case of good ingredients, but a horrible meal. But it shows a lack of effort more than anything else.
Main reason I am posting this is to warn people away. I went on IMDb before going, saw the cast, looked at some pictures, figured it would be funny. I am now coming back to say NOT FUNNY. Seriously. Watch Suberbad or Knocked Up again (or even for the 10th time) I guarantee you will laugh more.
The Queen (2006)
Its not easy to make this kind of movie. The plot was followed by most of the audience as it occurred in reality, and has been analyzed and re-analyzed in the years since. For the most part the principal characters are all still alive, and active in the public eye. Our familiarity with them makes the actors jobs much more difficult as every viewer has the ability to critique the performance in terms of accuracy.
The makers of the film overcame these obstacles. The acting is wonderful, and the film progresses at a good pace. The use of archive footage, and how it is edited into the film provides an interesting counterpoint to an otherwise conservatively filmed movie. This technique gives the audience some insight into how the royals must feel, a formal audience one second, and blur of flashes and images assaulting you the next.
Helen Mirren is excellent. Her queen is an heir to a thousand year old tradition that is being slowly backed into a corner by the people. She wants to hold on to the very few things left to her, tradition and proper decorum, and even those are stripped away from her one by one. At the end we see her transformation, her realization that the institution of the monarchy is more important than its details. And perhaps even though she symbolizes a by gone era, she chose to tread in new territory in how the royal family would act in its role of the symbolic head of the family of Britain.
The DVD adds two excellent commentaries which greatly enhance the film. First is the director and writer, giving their perspective on the making of the film, while the second is by a royal expert, who points out departures from reality that the creative process took, as well as putting events and actions into context and explaining their importance or relevance.
Make sure this is your cup of tea
I don't usually watch these types of movies, and had my friend not wanted to see it ('it got good reviews') I would have never watched it. I freely admit my bias. Objectively speaking, the acting was excellent, and I was impressed by the way the film was shot.
Problem is I was bored out of my skull after about 15 minutes. This movie seemed to drag on with no conclusion in sight. Seeing now that this was based on a short story, I am of a strong opinion this would have made a good short film. But there really did not seem to be enough plot to fill the 90 minutes, especially as one left the cinema. Halfway through the movie I was wishing it was set in May 1940 just for the sake of an air raid.
The other reviewers have showed quite well what is good about this movie, and what one can enjoy in it, and if you like that sort of movie, then by all means watch this one. If you're on the fence and don't like really slow movies, you might want to reconsider this one.
Muyeong geom (2005)
Its hard out there for a prince...
So you're the last heir to an usurped throne in 10th century Korea, you got one hot chick out to protect you, an equally hot chick out to kill you, and all the men around you look like Captain Jack Sparrow (apparently the eyeliner/dreadlocks look is older then previously thought).
The plot isn't much, but this movie is great eye candy. The film quality is very good, the sets and costumes are very colorful, and the fight scenes are excellent. The CGI effects are nice and enhance a lot of the scenes without being overbearing.
The acting is pretty good, with a mix of drama and comedy, not too melodramatic. The villains of the Killer Blade Army get extra style points for sinister appearance and for being generally evil, with the monk earning best of show for his tattoos.
Overall not an earth shattering movie, but very enjoyable visually as well as full of action. Recommended for fans of the genre.
Du bei dao wang (1969)
Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.
After my somewhat lackluster experience with the first One Armed Swordsman movie, I was very happy to find that the sequel far out shined the original movie.
The movie begins with our hero Fang Gang awkwardly practicing his left handed farming technique, when a pair of visitors ask him to attend a sword fighting competition. He demurs, only to be visited later by an old man who fills him in on the whole situation. Apparently an octet of evil villains have set up shop and are attempting to crown themselves kings of swordsmen in the local area. Faithfully keeping his promise to his wife to stay out of the martial arts world Fang Gang says he will not go. The old man sets out to the competition but not before instructing his sons that should this be a trap, and they will need to seek revenge, to unite with other schools in their plot, and most importantly to seek out Fang Gang's help. The competition, as predicted, is really a trap, and as the invited martial artists attempt to leave the contest, they are hunted down by the evil octet, each employing unique martial arts styles and weapons.
The remaining students are then sent letters by the villains instructing them to cut off their right arm so that their fathers and teachers may be released. The students instead seek Fang Gang for advice, and after some soul searching, our hero takes on the mantle that will later be carried by the likes of Louis Gosset Jr. in the Iron Eagle series, and helps the youngsters in their quest.
From this point on the movie becomes virtually a non stop cavalcade of action full of fights, ambushes, betrayals, and much butt kicking.
This is a really fun movie to watch, full of interesting characters and original fighting styles and weapons. A very good Shaw Brothers production that is highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Duo she (1997)
Be careful what you promise someone
An interesting HK comedy with a good dose of action. The main premise of this story is the ability for a soul of a human to enter the body of another person, and live on in that manner.
The movie starts off with a woman jumping off the top of a tall building, something she somehow manages to walk away from as the police stare in amazement. Next we see Chicken, played by Danny Lee (the cop in The Killer) a rather inept criminal get shot up in a robbery gone wrong. During this same robbery we encounter Tommy, a policeman who becomes a paraplegic as a result of a losing battle with a speeding car. As Chicken lies in a coma, Tommy becomes disenchanted with using a plastic bag for a bathroom and being unable to enjoy the physical relationship with his fiancée. He goes to the woman jumper we met at the start of the film, and asks her how he can become reincarnated as she did. One thing leads to another and Tommy ends up in Chicken's body, but only after making two promises to Chicken's soul. The first is that the body will only be borrowed in order to avenge Chicken's shooting, and the second is that should Tommy attempt to use Chicken's body to take advantage of any of Chicken's women things will be over before they get started.
Tommy then awakens as Chicken and starts to live Chicken's life. He discovers that Chicken had a less than stellar reputation and character, and yet somehow managed to keep two mistresses in addition to his wife. To this mess throw in Chicken's sister who takes a special liking to her newly transformed brother, and Tommy's quest to right the wrongs in Chicken's life become more convoluted.
This movie is a good mix of comedy and action. Danny Lee play two rather different characters in this movie, and is particularly funny when (as Tommy) he comes to grips with Chicken's life and problems. Its premise is different from the usual HK action genre, and worth checking out.
Du bei dao (1967)
Sometimes losing an arm is a blessing...
Plotwise this is relatively standard fare. Student suffers a personal defeat , goes into recovery and training mode, then redeems himself.
My beef with this movie was the Qi/Chi sword style. The evil villain devises a special technique, complete with a custom sword to defeat the Qi sword style. And the Qi family is completely unable to defeat this new technique. They push forth like lemmings, each one dying in the same fashion as his predecessor. When their self preservation instinct raises a notion to perhaps team up and take advantage of their 20 - 3 numbers to defeat their enemies, the main villain chides them to keep fighting one on one. As self preservation once again takes a step back, they continue fighting and dying one at a time, until the timely arrival of our handicapable hero who uses his new style to quickly dispatch the villains.
If our hero kept his arm, he no doubt would have died too, as the Qi sword style is apparently completely incapable of improvisation. This really killed the enjoyment of the movie for me, as by the time the 10th Qi student died IN EXACTLY THE SAME FASHION, I would have figured that someone would have tried something new. At no point did Bruce Lee's critique of the rigidity of Chinese martial arts ring more true.
If this particular problem does not bother you as much as it did me, then this can be a quite enjoyable late 60s Shaw Brothers experience. But if seeing fight after fight resolve itself in exactly the same fashion begins to grate on you, then perhaps look elsewhere.
Qing dian da sheng (2005)
...and then the movie got really weird.
If the description:
...then the angel flew into the tree demon's mouth, and her golden staff turned into a gatling gun wielding robot which proceeded to shoot down the evil demon birds...
sounds intriguing, then this is a movie for you!
This CGI infused tale travels between the realms of fantasy and science fiction with a very confusing, but ultimately enjoyable result. The plot follows the exploits of a young monk traveling with an ugly demon, and the love that blossoms between them. Their quest to rescue one of the monk's companions takes them from earth to heaven through time and space.
The story is fairly confusing, mainly due to the ever stranger plot twists, so its best just to sit back and watch without trying to make too much sense of things. The movie relies heavily on CGI effects, but no more than the Matrix or Star Wars movies. The two leads are likable, and they encounter many interesting characters along their journey. There are a few tongue in cheek moments, but thankfully the characters don't interact with their audience.
Make no mistake, this movie is often very weird, and goes beyond the realm of 'serious' fantasy movies, but it stays away from being too silly, making it a pretty enjoyable experience.
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
Excellent portrayal of two professionals
The plot of this movie involves two men. One man is out to kill De Gaulle, and the other is trying to stop him. Both are professional, and they carry themselves in a professional manner. This is the greatest strength of the movie. Neither Lonsdale or Fox "act" in this movie. They don't go for any overblown dramatics or make any big speeches. They focus on the job at hand, which is to portray two men who are solely concerned with their job.
This movie is a chess game, played between two professionals at the top of their game. The movie is shown from the perspective of both men. We see the assassin planning and executing this mission, and we see the policeman unraveling the plot, and later pursuing the assassin.
There are no leaps of logic or unbelievable coincidences. We see the value of meticulous preparation and of detailed police work. The only lucky break the police get is in the initial discovery of the plot through the abduction of one of the conspirators, a break needed to set up the plot of the movie, but this is the only time that the police get such a break.
This movie is well worth watching, not only for the enjoyment of the movie and plot itself, but also to see an excellent example of restrained film making. This is a top notch thriller, one of the best examples of the genre.