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Harsh Times (2005)
Throughout the whole movie Christian Bale dominates. His character grows with every new scene, and his acting is realistic as usual. So the only unique thing this movie has is Bale and the other actors who did a solid job. Even Eva Longoria, alt ought hard to imagine as a bossy girlfriend of a low-life in L.A.-s dangerous parts, does her job very good. "Harsh Times" is a perfect blend of many already seen movies, like "Training Day" or "Traffic", even "Falling Down". A sharp picture with yellow and grey tones which dominates through the whole movie only enhances the already existing realistic touch. The only segment this movie completely lacks of is a decent score.
Casino Royale (2006)
This Bond has it...
Last week I went to the cinema rather skeptic but also very excited to see the new Bond movie. And I must say, the movie surpassed my expectations.
It's a real comeback of James Bond, and may I say in style. Daniel Craig has been constantly disputed as a adequate Bond-actor, and in the first few times he looks a bit unconfined. But in a very curious way, Craig transforms and adapts - charming when needed, but mostly serious and dark, like the Bond interpreted by Timothy Dalton, but better, even deeper and more variable, somewhere near the middle of the picture we become familiar even with his very Bond-unlike look(he could have easily been chose for a Bond villain role, makes the perfect Russian spy/general look). But not only Craig should be praised, but the entire cast, especially the very confident, sophisticated and comfortable Mads Mikkelsen who makes a terrific Bond villain. Moreover, finally we get a brake from all the high-tech insane terrorists and their scams to destroy the world in a bizarre way, and can concentrate on some very amusing card - game duels and money chases.
But the strongest thing about this movie is the balance between action and the plot development, something that lacked in every of the past Brosnan movies. Very smooth and easy going, you can enjoy the plot development all the 144 minutes of the movie. And finally a Bond movie manages to evade that unnecessary megalomaniac behavior, and stays away from paroles like "The World is Not Enough".
David Arnold pointed one more time out that he is the right man to make the score, although we all miss some John Barry tunes.
We get some rest from "Q" and his tricky gadgets, no Moneypenny dialog, but despite of it all, this movie should be considered as one of the best Bond pictures ever.
Just not the usual teen-movie
This movie is not another boring and superficial teen movie. Based on Jane Austins works, it manages to bring some of Jane's charm.
Alicia Silverstone (Cher) is excellent, as well as the rest of the cast. All together they successfully manage to present one of the strongest side of this movie - a rich gallery of various and very exciting characters. In addition the convincing but unobtrusive acting helps to create a trustfully atmosphere.
Also, the classic love story seems to be just one of many perspectives and themes around this movie. We get a pretty good glimpse of the Beverly Hills High world, and their fractions. But the real thing is the surprisingly free-flowing dialog, the fast and quite unpredictable plot and the funny but not overdone gags.It is a movie worth watching more then once...
La vie devant nous (2002)
Teenage life in Paris
Six teenagers - Stan, Constant, Barth, Marine, Alize and Ines are all together connected and bound with friendship and love, compassion and youth problems. This french serial follows the main characters throughout their turbulent youth carefully picturing all the problems and cares of diverse teenagers.
A teenage serial with all classic elements in it - school, love & sex, problems and relationships with parent's and above all friendship. Stan and Constant are brothers, both very different but at the same time similar. While Constant is very carefully, sensitive and emotional, Stan seems to live always "on the edge". Barth is something like a balance between does two characters. A similar relation is one the other side - Ines is near to a deviant and rude girl, but deep inside very fragile. Alize is the most rational and calmest character, while Marine is mostly confused and indecisive but hides it though her guard. All together they are much more than just ordinary school friends, and although they don't always share the same ideas or dreams, they are all deal out with similar problems that life always parts.
Even if this serial is just one of many very similar works, real good acting, more then one dimensional characters, a conceivable story and the charming and wonderful sides of Paris all together make a very amusing and excitable show.
Das fliegende Klassenzimmer (2003)
The ever lasting story
The third display of Erich Kästner's classic "Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer" passes through some perceivable changes. The story adopts clever into the modern time era, still keeping the tragic elements of the divided Germany alive in the form of past memories. But, nevertheless it seems that the real punch-line of Kästners story was lost somewhere throughout the attempt to adjust the characters and main story to our time. The deep emotional fracture, and the virtue of the historical background story aren't quite noticeable. Both crucial elements of Kästners novel - not only the carefully designed historical ballast and action but also the in-tensed psychological element, that clearly incorporation of the partitioned boarding school in the characters of Bökh and Kreuzkamm, together loose their meaning and significance. Also, like with the most movies made by a novel/book, the complexity of the single characters develops only in limited directions.
On the other side, the persuasive performances by all the main actors, and the fact that across the movie all unnecessary clichés we used to see in such teenage movies do not appear, leads to a positive evaluation of this movie. It certainly is both delightful and interesting to see how Kästners story and imagination after decades have past, at least in some basic outlines
Mean Girls (2004)
Well I must say that this movie is a positive surprise! It's really something fresh, a comedy with a certain theme, made with much taste. The characters, especially Linsday Lohan/Cady Heron transform progressively from one extremity to another without disturbing the inner balance of the movie.
The story is quite simple - a new girl, Cady Heron (Lohan), lived with here parents in Africa and had "home education". She returns with them in her teenage years to the States, and for the very first time she is confronted with a new problem - High school! At first she is confused and disoriented, and as time goes by she gets between two cliques. On one side, the smart, weired and mysterious Janis and Damian, and on the other side "The Plastics", a elite girl trio leaded by Regina George (McAdams). This movie also manages to demonstrate the behavior of teenagers, often lost and in search for their true identity. So basically both main characters - Cady as well as Regina pass through a complete persona transformation.
Also there are some very humorous or memorable scenes. Just see the "Winter talent/Jingle Bells Rock" scene. A better music score is just missing.
Linsday Lohan and Rachel McAdams make both a great performance and actually carry this movie throughout the story. So the acting plus the original, refreshing, unpredictable and clever story together result a delightful movie. Maybe with just one more star actor in a supporting role (parents, teacher's,..) the movie would have been even better. But than again...
Walk the Line (2005)
A Thing Called Love
It is the movie I was waiting for...about the childhood and early rock 'n' roll years of Johnny Cash as well as the relationship with June Carter. All mixed together it results an excitable and amusing movie. The story is based on Johnnys autobiography with some slight changes, but generally captures the best and the most important moments. The Folsom prison scene at the beginning makes you really feel like entering into a live concert and is one of the few memorable scenes in this movie.
Surely the acting has to be praised, Joaquin Phoenix as well as Reese Witherspoon really got into their roles and were very convincing, you actually feel the chemistry between them! Both Joaquin and Reese made a Oscar-worth performance!
Although I sometimes missed Johnnys voice in the songs, Joaquin(Reese also) made a solid singing performance as well so there cant be any real objections. Throughout the movie we hear great early songs of Johnny (and June), like Cry!Cry!Cry!, I Walk the Line, Jackson, Get Rhythm, Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues,...
"Walk the Line" must be watched as a love story in first, and not a detailed Johnny Cash movie, and some parts of his life were just kind off simplified for the purpose of this love story(like why Johnny wears black,...). I cant loose the feeling that Johnny was even stronger and more charismatic then shown in the movie. But I guess its because we see just the young years of Cash.
But this movie succeeds not only because of its great actors and classic love story. "Walk the Line" also manages to display the engaging portraits of stars like Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis(also episode roles of Waylon Jennings or Roy Orbison), of course just as background, but after all the 50ties are just unthinkable without them. And it comes to my mind that Johnny Cash really outlived them, they lived fast but also burn out fast, except for Johnny. He went on, and on,...and the strength for this came out of June and the love that was connecting them..
The one and only original!
After seeing Batman Begins and leaving the theater with mixed emotions and thoughts I just desired to refresh my memory and wanted to see how Tim Burton and the original movie would look now, after the so - called Spiderman and X-men movie revolution.
I remembered myself on that time, year 1989, 50th anniversary of the Batman comics. I was just so excited that Batman will get a big screen appearance after all these years of the old Robert Lowery and John Duncan movies or the Adam West and Burt Ward serial.
I heard that Tim Burton would take charge as Batman director, and I was a bit surprised, throughout Beetlejuice was funny and entertaining I still was not convinced he is the correct choice. After that the news came out that Burton is hiring Michael Keaton as Batman, which resulted some nasty protest of Batman fans who knew Keaton only from comedies and just could not imagine him doing that role. The only thing I was sure was Jack Nicholson. I liked the most of his movies and really could see him in the role of the Joker.
And finally after seeing that movie I was impressed. And not just by Nicholson, no, more by the taste of director Tim Burton and the conceivable performance by Batman actor Micheal Keaton. Nicholson, just like the Joker in the comics radiates with natural allurement and energy, perfectly mixing up brutal insane crime and black humor. On the other side we see a more subtle and serious Bruce Wayne. Keaton created a astound charge around his appearance, although corporal not looking like the prefect Batman, he captures Bruce Waynes/Batmans mental insecurity, secrecy and his duality.
Of course I have to mention and praise Kim Basinger, who jumped in the last minute after replacing injured Sean Young and made a solid performance as Vicki Vale. The main roles are also uphold with great supporting roles and performances, especially Jack Palances(Carl Grissom) and Michael Goughs(Alfred).
The biggest objection to this movie would be the plot, always considered as not very complicated and elaborated - reporter Alexander Knox joins forces with journalist Vicki Vale to discover the secret of Gothams new night creature - the mysterious Batman! Vicki soon gets involved with Bruce Wayne and comes unknowingly close to his big secret. Batman, alias Bruce Wayne, a lone and social clumsy multimillionaire tries not only to support Gothams justice leaders Comissioner Gordon and City attorney Harvey Dent but also revenge the death of his parents who in Bruces childhood where shot in front of his eyes...Gotham City fears of terror provided by gangster and crime lord Carl Grissom who controls the town. At the same time we follow the transformation of Grissoms Nr. 1 Jack Napier into the psychopathic Joker, a contrast to Batman. After resolving Grissom, the Joker takes charge in town. More drama is added after discovering that Jack Napier, now the Joker is the killer of Bruces parents and a final fight is initiated...
But the plot is not that important, at least not in Burtons world, the master of visual effects and atmosphere. Gotham, a dark, massive, Gothic city with great exteriors as well as interiors, is the crucial element of this atmosphere, and Burtons vision. He used the comics just for basic material, adding a lot of his own imagination (and is responsible for this late confusion when it comes to who killed Bruces parents). Most people make the mistake and connect Burtons Batman with Frank Millers comics. But Burton adds his own style, or in his words:"a collective history of the character".
Scenes like the museum scene, the final confrontation at the Cathedral or the ending(last) scene exactly picture Burtons vision. Great dialogs, a magnificent combination of Danny Elfmans unforgettable main theme and cool songs by Prince, excellent costumes and design, as well as the fluent dialog and some remarkable quotes(Joker quotes like- "I've been dead once already, it's very liberating"; "Never rub another man's rhubarb"; or "Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight?" or Keatons unforgettable "I am Batman") together surpass the absence of a persuasive plot or the deflection from the original comic book material, and form one of the greatest movie icons of the early 90ties.
And now, after more then fifteen years, this movie still carries the same visual attractiveness and its irresistible and overwhelming charm! It is after all the fundamental movie, a backbone of all future coming Batman movies, the bad ones as well as the good ones. That also includes Batman Begins, impracticable without his precursor, the original 1989 Batman. It still works!
Batman Forever (1995)
In 1995 we all awaited the new Batman, after a thrilling and breath- taking original in 1989 and a satisfying sequel in 1992, Warner Brothers decided to swap director Tim Burton with Joel Schumacher in order to make the movie more acceptable for kids. This decision caused other crucial changes- the already prepared script was re- written. The cast, although some supporting roles like Michael Gough(Alfred) and Pat Hingle(Commissioner Gordon) sustained, suffered important substitutes- Billy Dee Williams who was in Burtons vision supposed to be in the role of Harvey Dent/ Two-Face(after all he was introduced in the first movie), was released and Warner appointed "The Fugitive" star Tommy Lee Jones. His performance was in general all right but his character remained trivial and turned into a psychotic lunatic killer. This extremely disappointed the Batman- comic books fans. On the other hand Schumacher introduced the character of Robin. In the assortment of the role he picked Chris O'Donnell, as a more brighter and boyish Batman sidekick. Finally, Bruce Wayne/ Batman actor Michael Keaton abandoned the series because of Burton as well as he realized in time that the series future doesn't look bright. As his replacement youthful Val Kilmer was called, and made a solid performance as Batman but displayed a unconvincing Bruce Wayne. Schumacher tries to explore and present Waynes/ Batmans psychological side in some occasions- the dialog with Chase Meridian and the relationship with Dick Grayson/ Robin and actually succeeds in this attempt. Schumacher applied Burtons already proved concepts of two villains facing the Dark Knight simultaneously, the all- star cast(including Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, Val Kilmer,..) and parallel stories which follow on one side Batman on the other the emergence of Edward Nigma(Jim Carrey) and his transformation into the Riddler. This transformation is featured with some intelligence and energy yet does not reach the level of the two earlier parts. Carrey as Riddler also represents the strongest link in this movie as his performance is both entertaining and spicy and in the same time keeps a distance to the related Joker character. Schumacher also adds his more grotesque vision of Gotham City marked with fire, tons of neon lights and kitsch design. The plot is basically very simple, naive, with many ridiculous action scenes and childish jokes. All in one, this is a nice try to refresh the series but will finally lead to its destruction finalized in the form of the fourth "Batman&Robin" movie.
Never Say Never Again (1983)
Not as bad as some people say...This is a unofficial Bond movie and a remake of "Thunderball", written by Kevin McClory (co- producer in "Thunderball"). Well, the cast is very very interesting, Maria Brandauer is a great Bond- villain, Kim Basinger and Barbara Carrera are just like the "original" Bond- girls, plus Rowan Atkinson and a truly great Edward Fox, who looks really refreshing in the "M" role. In fact, the whole movie is refreshing and gives some new impulses. Sean Connery does it once more confident and charming, except that he looks a little bit too old. But alright, he is the original Bond and it was great to see him once more in this role. The locations are also typical- Bahamas, France, etc. The only thing that really fails is the music score, the song "Never say never again" is O.K., but the theme song is just missing. All in one, a nice try to make a difference from the comic and silly Roger Moore movies like "Moonraker". Only if there was another story, "Thunderball" was a excellent movie and really did not needed a remake