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The God Who Wasn't There (2005)
For glory of money and fame
This movie plays on both - Christians and Atheists, but it has to be noted, that title says "God who wasn't there". Even if it has Jesus on it's cover title alone is a marketing stunt. Since it's made for western, hence Christian, audience it's shock value can only be illustrated by the same clips from "Passion of the Christ". You call things the way they appear, right? At least "Zeitgeist" was not pretending it's something else. Why don't you talk about Islam, Hindu etc? Answer is simple - audience is not there. So what does this movie gives us? Shock value alone.
I really don't like people who take advantage of atheism-religion controversy for their own personal agenda and exploit. Be it bad cinematography or pure ignorance on the impact the movie is making. If you want a real discussion - make a real documentary on religion. Do not tease. Educate.
My iz budushchego (2008)
Your heart is where your roots are
This movie is not about time travel. It is about the present and the past. There is no present without the past. If you forget, destroy your past in your heart - you and your nation have no future. Cherep (Skull) is a modern radical nationalist in the modern Russia. The other three guys represent other parts of Russian society: student, that gave up on studies for some quick buck, rapper-anti-fa and fourth one - "golden boy". Lost generation, but with a hope.
Their world is going to turn upside down. They all get into the past, to the middle of WWII, where they grandfathers fight with Hitler's Germany. Lessons are to be learned for a present and for the future to be saved.
Imagine someone who gives his life for the his motherland to be told: "In the XXI century, men, dressed in black, will walk on the streets of Moscow and shout "Heil Hitler." If you don't get it, switch "Moscow" to "New York" or the city you live in, and you will understand.
Nurse Jackie (2009)
Sweet 'n sour.
There is a promise, I can tell you that.
As with all good series: a glimpse, trough a peephole, a flash of something beautiful, something scary, something fascinating. But maybe it's just our imagination painting monalisas, where postcard is due? You can't tell for sure, but one can always speculate.
Eddie Falco - who can forget Carm Soprano? - is in the lead, as a nurse Jackie and that is a promise of a good (if not stellar) acting. Paul Schultz (unsympathetic priest from The Sopranos) plays her lover Eddie (haha - someone got their fantasies realized? :). Dominic Fumusa (another one from Sopranos cast) plays Jackie's husband. Charismatic Haaz Sleiman (we've met him in "The Visitor") adds some calm to the mix as the philosophically gifted male-nurse.
In the pilot we won't see anything out this world. Love triangles, compassion and indifference of medical staff, jokes (some are actually funny!), hospital drama etc. Nothing that we could not participate in other shows, but there is this third ingredient to this sweet 'n sour dish. Something that you can't figure out from the first bite and you need take another one. Question is: will we like the aftertaste?
ER with a pinch of X-files?
It just wants to impress, amaze and woo us from the start. It fails, since this approach is so last century. I want character development, colors, emotions. I don't want to rush into stereotypes: "cool boss" + "powerful female colleague"; two sexy interns, fresh from actors school in LA; hospital director that looks like a captain from some hardboiled cop show, but not someone with a medical background. Mental cases are interesting stuff to explore, but it fails here also, since it emphasizes on human relations, rather than subject of psychiatry itself.
Camera work is so bad it pains me to look at those Mexican soap opera style close-ups. Sound falls even shorter.
And yes, where are the writers of this show? My bet is, that it will end with this one pilot.
The Black Donnellys (2007)
Eager to live, eager to die
Let me get this straight: this is the very best TV can produce right now. It's not that stellar as Sopranos for example, but only because it's street gang movie. It can not be that stylish nor does it have the magnitude Sopranos had... because it's street gang movie.
Acting is good. It's an easy judge: IF you believe the character - it's OK, right? The plot is thick as hell. And this, I guess, was the problem it burned in one season. There is too much action in every single episode. People behind Donnellys were too eager to show and tell. They never took time to chill, to develop characters to the full. There are no everyday routines and those bits of our own lives, that make us the people we are. That was THE reason that made Sopranos 10/10 show, that lasted 6 seasons. We connected to the characters as the housewives connect to the Mexican soap opera ones. We loved them for a reason and we hated some for a reason. This part is missing from TBD.
To sum it up: it's Irish mob series, gritty, bloody, violent and interesting. It's one season only, but if you like movies from the other side of the fence - it's for you, my friend. Just don't forget your whiskey.
Dievu miskas (2005)
Organic. Holocaust. Masterpiece
First thing: this movie "based on the novel". BASED on the novel. So all those, that downrate it, because the movie does not follow beloved book, should start to learn separating one media from another.
There are no synthesized emotions in this. Everything feels real, or at least as real as the emotions in the diary of someone that is waiting for his days to end in concentration camp.
The main advantage of Puipa's masterpiece is this: There is no prejudice, no-goodie-white-hoodie and no evil-bad-wolf-hanibal-lector type characters. Everyone is show as a human. You will not feel sympathy for guards or collaborators, but you will understand things like "why do such people rise in times like this" or even start thinking about reasons that could turn good people into animals. Director won't tell you what to feel! It's such a rare feature, that it is hard to understand this concept at first.
There is some black humor in this movie too. It's dark, noir even, although it's so true, that it feels close even if you can't connect to WWII in any way.
Subtle details, real-life philosophy, humour, rich characters, absolutely stunning camera work makes this movie one of the best. It's not a fairy tale as Shindler's list is: you wont feel guilty if you are not crying in the end and everyone will understand why are you weeping if you do.
Newfound respect for action genre
"Sly is old" - most common comment on "Why wont you watch the movie?". You know what? It does not matter as this is not oiled-skin-muscle-flex at local WWF booth.
The second I have finished watching trailer I knew I will love this movie. It already had this dramatic, sand-in-the-mouth, bloody-nose feeling. These was no dramatic pauses, no over-hyped narration, nothing like that. It was violent. Of course. It's an epilogue of the series that has "Blood" in it's name.
Rambo comes back as a broken man with nightmares about his past. He lives in a hut and is literary waiting for his life to end. There is no joy in his face. He is beaten, washed out. He had few decades to contemplate on his life and it's meaning. And believe me or not - Sly delivers that feeling! Missionaries approach him for an aid. He tries to refuse, but in the end gets convinced by a woman (Julie Benz). This is a point where one can skip or wonder about the reasons.
First of all: Rambo knows what's in Burma. He saw everything war is about. And Burma is the worst. It's genocide civil war. He knows that ideals mean nothing there and worst of all - those missionaries are probably going to die. Rambo does not want to any part in this as it would be kind of his fault too. He is only a human though, so when a woman (symbol of life cycle etc) asks him, he breaks and at least wants to have his conscience clear and agrees to help.
Rambo's instincts were right - missionaries get into the hands of Burmese army. Then the mercenaries are hired for their rescue and Rambo knows he will go into this mission with them.
Notice that during the movie he is referred to by his name John or as "boatman" or whatever. Stallone wants to distance his character from "super soldier" from the man Rambo was in the last two movies. This is Rambo's LAST mission. He does NOT care if he will die or not. He is no longer a hotshot. So no wonder he is not breaking teeth when he gets insulted by the leader of the mercenaries. It does not matter anymore! The rest of the movie is about violence and real(?) war. Rambo fights so ferociously as if his soul was already burning in hell for those 20 years after we last saw him in Afghanistan. As if his desperation, anger, sadness, guilt altogether explode on the screen. It's not pretty, it's not enjoyable and there is no easy way talking about it.
...but I have seen more horrific scenes already. The part in Saving Private Ryan where one soldier is pushing knife into another ones heart and asks to hush.. that one has been haunting me forever. What can be more terrifying than those dying soldiers eyes? "Rambo" is not however a movie that glorifies violence. If it would be so, then the violence would have been more cinematic and plastic and CGI and with a lot more fancy guns and explosions and ... and and. It's shown REAL. So you could NOT possibly enjoy it, because it's a movie with a message.
It's about failed politics, broken ideals and life's cruelty. It's about hypocrisy and silent rage. It's also about hope. Or at least whats left of it when you have seen it all...