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The Artist (2011)
Indeed, the Silent Age was golden
The Artist, a silent film in the wake of bombastic, noisy blockbusters, makes a strong statement in a very quiet way: by being beautifully silent for two untrammeled hours. It is directed by Michael Hazanavicius and stars Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo and Jean's dog, Uggie. Everybody is brought together by fine on screen chemistry, and Hazanavicius (being a foreigner) has effectively rekindled the fires of older silent films that once glorified our Hollywood today.
Hazanavicius described The Artist as his love letter to old cinema, which has become something of a palimpsest thanks to 3D and other innovative media. Who's ever heard of watching a silent black and whitey on their iPhone? That's precisely my point. The Artist breathes and feels just like a film from that silent epoch, where Chaplinesque mannerisms and Moliere style performances devoured the stage and tickled our fancies. The lead star, Jean Dujardin, ought to have an Oscar placed at his feet for his dog Uggie to fetch. Resembling a suave Gene Kelly and Sean Connery, Dujardin embodies the archetypal movie star with obsequious pride and sardonic arrogance. We never hear him speak (owed to the fact that this is a silent film), but even then, Dujardin never breaks character. He's playing the role of a silent movie star, translating that character's grief just with body language, however gratuitous. There's a particularly fine scene where his character George Valentin suffers a nightmare of insurmountable soundonly he's lost his voice. We know that this isn't really the case (that Valentin is capable of human sound on a regular basis) but in the context of the movie, it exemplifies the future of sound in cinema. Silent stars like Valentin become extinct.
The opposite spectrum of the screen is shared by Berenice Bejo as flapper-turned-movie star Peppy Miller. This woman is a Goddess and steals the scene by smiling alone. Was it not the job requirements of olden movie actresses to flutter their eyelashes, seductively wink into the camera, shake their undulant hips and flaunt their pearly whites? Berenice Bejo is an obvious beauty and suitable for this role, but she brings an engaging performance that, like Dujardin, compels us without having said one word. Peppy Miller becomes a rising "talkie" star in the picture, but it's not her voice producers advertise. It's her fresh face.
The movie is pervaded by upbeat music and comic perfections. There's humor in seeing Malcolm McDowell or James Cromwell saunter on and off the screen. John Goodman is particularly effective; his husky voice is irrelevant here. To see him merely grimace is a joy in itselfa fine example of what we have taken for granted. The musical score is ubiquitous to the film and accentuates the romance, drama and comedy. Admittedly, I think Hazanavicius became too enamored for cinema; the usage of Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score was a tad distracting. I guess I'll just call it a crime of passion.
The Artist is a delightful film in every sense of the word. It is evocative of our purest and most passionate feelings, and the subtleties it provides make us appreciate older films and consider all that we have taken for granted.
À bout de souffle (1960)
Breathless is a film by Jean-Luc Goddard, a French realist who jumpstarted the New Wave French Movement (a topic of which I am ignorant but am aware of its poignant impact on cinema in general). French society has spawned some of the greatest artists, and quite frankly, look around. The dazzling coffee shops, the architecture of Paris, the salient Eiffel Tower, and the picturesque scenery are all examples that reflect the artistry that is driven by these people. Breathless, a film made at the start of exploitation in 1960, effectively makes a statement about the ever changing world and about French artistry at its finest.
The film's story was conceived by Francois Truffaut who directed Les Quatre cents coups. Truffaut has a talent for realism behind the silky black & white; Breathless is a successful experimentation of that. It is edited and directed in a contemporary quick-cut style that inevitably reminded me of David Fincher and Martin Scorsese. And while cinema has progressed in precision, Breathless yields a distinctive filmmaking style that is totally endearing.
The film is borderline style over substance, but I'm thankful that the collaboration between Truffaut and Goddard found a solid equilibrium. It follows an impetuous scoundrel named Michel Poiccard. Michel is a self-described "A-hole". This argument gives him reason to exude little to no remorse for the people around him. It also permits him to take life as easily as possible. He's a ramshackle character who steals francs and cars like he's switching cigarettes. The accessories may always change, but not Michel. Goddard makes a vivid point early in the film where Michel stumbles outside of an American cinema, mumbling "Bogie's" name as he lights a cigarette and fumbles at his lips, as if in a reverie. These idiosyncrasies are not innate but influenced by Western cinema. Michel has seen one too many movies as he dodges the cops, crassly handles women and carelessly occupies the lives of others.
One such life is a young multilingual journalist named Patricia. Michel tantalizes and lusts after her. Maybe it's because she's fluent in different languages. Maybe it's because she's pretty, but Patricia denies this cosmetic cause, citing Michel to have lusted after dozens of prettier women. I think it's because she's an American. The unscrupulous cad tries cross-culturing Patricia with his frank cynicism and constant swindles. Patricia is wooed, but only so slightly. Her knowledge of French culture is limited to a learned education of Chevalier and Lafayette. Maybe it's Michel's outlandishness that attracts her. She remains on the defensive for the duration of the film, often succumbing to his riley charms before making a detrimental decision in the end. (By the way, that scene elapses in a photography studio. Can the French get any more artistic?). The lovers are unusually paired, but effective in this case. The male is a Westernized Frenchman, the woman is a French-influenced American. They are from opposite spectrums of their own cultures but uniformly alike when they are together. For that, I commend the writing.
Breathless is a mural of jazz, sex and crime, served with an artistic twist and finished with a photogenic ambiance. As the Criterion release put it, "There is before Breathless and after Breathless." The movie has the power to move cinemasince 1960 it has taken our breath away.
The Conversation (1974)
Afraid of murder but addicted to listening
"The Conversation" directed by Francis Ford Coppola is his masterpiece in terms of originality. Using the skills he learned over the two Godfather movies, Coppola hones in on an evocative, psychological thriller that has the hypnotism of "Vertigo" and the shock factor of "Psycho". But past the homage, this is entirely Coppola's own.
Set in 1974 about surveillance and suspicions, it's appropriate to recall the Watergate scandal. Former President Nixon was notorious for wiretapping conversations to gain a political advantage. The same sort of tactic was used by the reporters who exposed Watergate, and then Nixon resigned. I'm not talking politics. I'm talking about how Coppola's script raises awareness about phone tapping, eavesdropping, surveillance and espionage. I suppose that "The Conversation" could have been set in any decade, but that it's the 70s makes the story particularly influential.
The plot is a mystery but the story is a character study. Harry Caul makes his living as a surveillance expert, but outside of work, it's not much of a living. He's over 40, lives in a quaint but lonely apartment in San Francisco, prefers his own gadgets over the ones on the market and sacrifices a possible relationship all for his work. One day he hears something over a tape recording that raises his hairs.
There's no denying Caul's a professional, as are his colleagues. They profit off of defaming and humiliating public officials through their savvy surveillance. This is a business where lies are exposed but the ones pulling the veil walk away with heavier wallets. But this does not necessitate a clean conscience. Unlike his peers, Caul has a guilty conscience. In New York City, 1968, his surveillance expertise caused the deaths of three people. The press called it a homicide, knots were tied and people walked away rich. Caul was one of them.
Not wanting to repeat that accident, Caul starts to distrust everyone around him after hearing the new tape. Caul is cautioned not to interfere; surveillance work should be objective. But Caul gets personal. "I'm not afraid of death," Caul says. "But I am afraid of murder." He refuses to speak to anybody and demands to see his employer in person, whom he fears is a tyrannical figure that will upend his young wife. The mystery is handled consummately, like "Double Indemnity" from a different perspective. Up until the earth-shattering climax, Coppola had me guessing the whole way.
It's important to remember the very end of the movie, after the mystery, which reminds us that we're watching a character study. Too often the murder mystery genre has static protagonists whose only goal is to solve the case, from A to Z. Not here. Caul, alone in his apartment with his tenor sax as his only solace, reaches new levels of paranoia. Is he being watched? Will there be repercussions? The consequences both literally and symbolically test Caul's faith.
"The Conversation" is a thoughtful character study wrapped in a murder mystery. It is a triumph of story, sight and sound. It lost Best Picture to "The Godfather Part II", also directed by Coppola. That may have been the obvious win but not the most deserved.
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Innocent on the surface
Martin Scorsese time travels to New York, 1870, to depict a period piece of romantic proportions and to ensure his versatility as a director. Scorsese is a historian when it comes to the setting of any of his films. "The Age of Innocence" is one of his most refined movies. The décor of the 19th century, the languages and accents of its people, and even the fine dining instruments are all accounted for. In many ways, Scorsese's eye for detail is a wakeup call for contemporary New Yorkers today. The Age of Innocence is meaningful in title and it acts as a precursor, in Scorsese-lore, to the myriad of other New York pictures the director would collect in his repertoire.
Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a humble New Yorker and a lawyer in his profession. It is a profession that rivals entrepreneurs, aristocrats, bankers, and architects; there is no hostility among the men, but they fraternize as if they were Gods. Although Archer appears well situated and indignant, he is actually suffering profusely inside from the suffocation and inexorable norms of "high society". This characterization fits well with Scorsese's usual motifs. In "The Age of Innocence", Newland Archer is an insider looking out. One of the "outsiders" that catches Archer's attention is Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), the cousin of his fiancé May (Winona Ryder). Ellen flouts high society and as a result is the topic of malevolent gossip that pervades the closely knit families.
Archer falls for Ellen but cannot abandon his feelings (or image) for May Welland. Matters complicate when Ellen wishes to divorce her husband and Archer must facilitate the separation with legality. Between all of these stressful emotions, he only wants to be with and to love Ellen until the very end. But reality is merciless. Ellen remains an angelical dream to Archer throughout the film. He goes on with his duties deadpanned. All the while Ellen slips in and out of his desires. But there is a problem here. Day-Lewis and Pfeiffer never convinced me that they were truly radiant for each other. Perhaps that's how extra-marital affairs were run in the "old fashioned days"inconspicuous and strained. But Archer's affections for Ellen to endure a lifetime (even after having many children) become too Shakespearean even for Scorsese to translate. Ellen became an alibi for Archer to leave the life of ritzy, high society.
Nevertheless, "The Age of Innocence" will not disappoint any Scorsese fan. It's pleasant to the eye, and the aesthetics of the camera movement (from the graceful tracking shots to the zoom ins) are unusually effective in illustrating a period piece stereotyped for BBC territory. Despite being a period piece, the themes here are also relative to Scorsese (from the social outcast to the importance of family). I think Scorsese effectively created a film that embodied some of New York's oldest social statuses. It was the constipated love story that hampered Scorsese's direction. Maybe unrequited love is universal, but this is the age of innocence.
Evil Dead (2013)
A remake of a remake
If I've learned anything from "Evil Dead," it's that if I get into a grisly car accident and lose my arm, a roll of duct tape will patch it up.
"Evil Dead" is a well-made and great looking horror movie directed by Fede Alvarez who has experience in independent movies and it is produced by the minds behind the original "Evil Dead" (1981), Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Although the manipulators behind the project promote greatness, the movie falls short past all the gore and carnage. This is a remake, and the remake itself uses a horror story done to death in Hollywood. Call it a remake of a remake.
The story picks up in a remote cabin in the woods, implied to be somewhere in Michigan. Five young adults dwell there for their annual vacation, and the characters are randomly assigned first names with no surnames. They are Mia, David, Eric, Olivia and Natalie. Flip through your high school yearbook and you can probably find each of them.
Mia and David are siblings, and Mia is a recovering dope addict. Last year things didn't go too well, according to Olivia, the group's self-appointed nurse. Hoping to overcome addiction, the friends try rehabilitating Mia again, this time with her estranged brother David on watch, but something tells me he came just to mingle and mesh with his girlfriend, Natalie.
A third of the way in, I couldn't identify if the irony was on purpose. The movie sets up one-dimensional people in a dark, ominous place with all odds against survival but the character's reiterate they'll be fine. The audience should be chuckling along, or they're as nearsighted as the characters.
Mia smells a foreign odor beneath the cabin. The friends discover a basement through a bloodstained trapdoor and find a cellar decorated in hanging cats which look drier than beef jerky. There is also a book, heavily bound and laced in barbed wire which indicates it mustn't be touched but one character, Eric, opens it anyways. Doing so awakens an old evil. Mia is the first to be possessed and the rest is a survival of the fittest with a horror twist.
There is an audience for this film and they will be pleased by the superfluity of old-fashioned, practical effects substituting for CGI. Someone might be inspired to open a Halloween store. But the gory visuals do not explain the shortcomings of a poor story. If anything they distract.
For instance, in the mood-setting prologue, a father lights his own possessed daughter on fire to salvage her soul. This all allegedly happens in the cabin's basement. But when was this? How recent? When the friends occupy the cabin in the spring, does another family rent it in the winter? Mia and David bring a dog along for company. It's a wonder the pooch never sniffed out the dead cats.
"Evil Dead" is a great movie for teenagers on a Friday night who crave an adrenaline high. Beyond that, I can't grasp its potential. For fans of the Raimi movies, they'll use their knowledge of those films as a commentary against this one. For average folks, like me, the movie offers nothing new.
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Enter Bruce Lee
East meets west in the quintessential martial arts movie known as Enter the Dragon. The film was marketed as an ambitious kung fu movie. It's also pivotal because it was one of the first (if not the first) Hollywood produced kung fu movie. The keen point about Enter the Dragon, unlike similar movies of the same genre, is that it is not entirely style over substance. It's true that kung fu is glorified and for about 3/4ths of the film audiences are subjected to high-flying kicks and swift-fisted duelsbut that is essential to the fun.
Penned by Michael Allin and choreographed by Bruce Lee himself, it's easy to recognize the reason for Enter the Dragon's cult following. Various television shows, movies, and even children's programs (ie: Jackie Chan Adventures) have spoofed the film, but Enter the Dragon provides kung fu entertainment to old and contemporary audiences. The plot revolves around a former Shaolin monk named Han whom, every three years in a remote island near Hong Kong, hosts an epic martial arts tournament. But behind the glorified combat and Han's prestigious hospitality lies a nasty secret in the form of illegal drug racketeering, misogyny and contraband. The British intelligence hires Bruce Lee to infiltrate the operation and obtain evidence to prosecute Han. Lee is virtually playing himself in some very well-deserved spotlight, for Enter the Dragon is the culmination of both Lee's physical and on screen career. I suppose another name for Lee would be "the Dragon" (this is for obvious reasons). He's an absolute; untouchable and impervious to pain. Blood is especially delicious to Lee who relishes it after a nasty cut. If he had a pet to go fetch his mail and chase away the mail man, it would be a king cobra.
Enter the Dragon culturally integrates two American actors playing American characters. They are Jim Kelly debuting as the disco-savvy Mr. Williams and John Saxon as the nonchalant Roper. Saxon formerly had a run of modest cowboy movies in Hollywood. Although far from being the greatest actor, his casual demeanor and well-rounded Americanized tone is befitting for this feature. Out of the three leads, Mr. Williams yields as the most dated character. His afro is about the diameter of a disco ball. Maybe I'm uninformed but after Enter the Dragon, I never heard of Jim Kelly again. Maybe he died out with the 70's.
Although the plot is reminiscent of a typical James Bond outing and the characters are adequately overblown, there's nothing neither disappointing nor underwhelming about Enter the Dragon. Its hair-raising plot about drug infiltration, stylized kung fu and mixture of East and West cultures is ample entertainment to keep the viewer enthused about its finale. Quite honestly I haven't seen another kung fu film like it after its release. Bruce Lee's unexpected death could factor in to that. I suppose death of the "dragon" is the death of all kung fu movies. Now Enter Jackie Chan.
PS. Chan is actually featured twice in the film as a stuntman who receives fatal blows from the master himself. Like Chuck Norris, Chan has Lee's legacy to thank for his current stardom.
The Descendants (2011)
A man and his island
Matt King hasn't been on a surfboard in over fifteen years, despite living in Hawaii his whole life with illustrious acres of land under his family name and two estranged daughters he's unable to cope. Appearances are deceptive. Even in name, Matt King is hardly a monarch. Burdened by endless hours of work, King's life is thrust into difficult circumstances when his wife suffers a fatal boating accident. King must think his daughters would be better off if he was dead himself.
The Descendants is a starkly realistic tragic scenario told in a sardonic way. The scriptwriting is brilliant. We are compelled by Matt King's relationship to his impetuous daughters and his bleak outlook on life accentuates everything. We're permitted to laugh facetiously on the side at King's misfortunes. Portraying King in a career-defining role is George Clooney, whose stoic facial features and casual drone actually enhance the characterization. Matt King narrates that descendant upon descendant in his family's lineage has owned a privatized, uninhabited area of land on one of Hawaii's islands. It's worth millions. But he employs this fact with nonchalance, as if he wants nothing to do with inheriting it. The situation worsens when King is at the top of a tug of war between family members. Everybody wants to sell it for a future hotel and strike rich. King would love the money but knows that millions in the state oppose deconstructing a preserved niche of land. Matt King is probably burdened with making the greatest decision in the history of the Kings.
In the meantime, King's wife is hospitalized. She's moribund. His relationship to her was rather cold despite what appeared to be a healthy marriage on the outside, and when the doctor informs King of the worst, he has to handle how to tell cousins, parents and, most of all, his two daughters. Newcomer Shailene Woody plays King's eldest, rebellious daughter Alexandra. The interaction between these two is priceless. Alexandra dismisses her father's authority. She'll cuss him out. King can't figure out why she's so irate. There's also Scotty, King's ten-year old daughter, who has the vivacious spirit of a much older girl. King is unable to connect with either of them. My only gripe about these scenes is the impending presence of Alexandra's oafish boyfriend, Sid. The comic relief workedto a point. Having Sid lollygagging on every adventurous tirade or pontificating between every emotional scene was about as annoying to me as it was to Clooney. Perhaps annoyance was the purpose but it didn't detract my desire to want to blacken Sid's other eye.
The Descendants felt nonfictional as it further progressed. The situations only became worse and the irony was magnified. I chuckled wryly at it, but not at the obvious parts. The film successfully transcends how obnoxiously difficult and unorthodox life is. We have imperfect relationships, harrowing jobs and tiresome quandaries with those around us. The Descendants is an eminent reminder of the absence of simplicity in our life. Matt King often saunters past the black and white portraits of his ancestors. Would they approve with his decisions? Would they empathize? Two centuries later I'm sure King's descendant will be wondering the same thing as he glances at the photograph of Matt King's stoic face; unsmiling.
Seasons of love, maturity and marriage
"Late Spring" is Yasujiro Ozu's stunningly poignant portrait of a 27-year-old daughter who lives with her 56-year old father in post-World War II Japan. A film with a deeper meaning than its simple story implies, "Late Spring" is like the neorealist version of Japanese films, in that it tells a story larger than life with few but memorable characters.
Another spring comes to a little town not far outside of Tokyo, Japan. At the same time another woman is getting married and Ozu opens up with a marriage ritual with beautiful women garnered in kimonos as the ceremony unfolds. Outside the wind gently blows and sways the leaves and trees back and forth. The flowers are in bloom. Ozu makes it clear that marriage is not just a ritual but a tradition like the seasons.
The central character is Noriko, a 27-year old unmarried woman who lives by her father's side. She knows him just as well as he knows her, and Ozu creates a humble home environment through their natural interactions. "I'm home!" Noriko will announce. "Have you had anything to eat yet, Father?" Noriko, we discover, not only feeds and cleans and cares for her father but occupies a very important hole in his life. This is more than a father and daughter relationship but one that thrives without a mother figure. Ozu never reveals the cause of her death, but this is a daughter without a mother and a husband without a wife. For that, they are inexplicably bound.
Noriko's Auntie always attends the nuptials and sees it as the time for Noriko to be married. She cannot be blamed for this. The Aunt, a widow herself, is a woman bound by tradition and thinks if her niece avoids marriage any longer her chance of a fruitful, wholesome life shall be tainted (hence, late spring). The Aunt almost urgently wants Noriko to marry. For Shukichi, the father, letting go is a little harder.
Noriko is unmarried but not without a social life. On weekly commutes to Tokyo she meets up with Mr. Onodera, a family friend. Often, they'll window shop together and finish with shots of sake while Noriko gently but wittily quips about Onodera's second marriage. Noriko is also friends with Mr. Hattori, her father's young work assistant. Hattori could be a potential husband, and they get along fine biking down the beach together, except Hattori is engaged to be married and that's the misery of it.
Lastly, there's Noriko's friend, Aya, who came from the same educational upbringing but married earlier in life. Aya has experience which is not so much an advantage over Noriko but something more to talk about. "I don't want to get married," Noriko says and Aya is appalled. Aya argues her divorce only made her stronger. Noriko sees this as a weakening of the human spirit.
Setsuko Hara, who plays Noriko, is not only a beautiful woman but a fine actress. She smiles ear-to-ear throughout the picture and it's amazing that somebody could look so happy. Only when there's talk of marriage does that smile begin to dissipate and Noriko ruefully laments she'd rather have an eternity with her father. "You don't find happiness," her father says. "You create it." Marriage is unique because for every bond that's joined another is broken. "Late Spring" testifies to that, and it tells it so well, without superfluous sentiment, that the result is a picture so compelling it touches the deepest corners of our hearts.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
An attempted genre
OK. I'll say it. This could be the worst movie I've ever seen. If there is a noise in the infinite universe that needs to be shushed, it is "The Boondock Saints." Who does Troy Duffy think he is? What made him think he could work in film? Duffy's obviously addicted to style-over-substance films like Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," but his is like stealing precious jewels without knowing what they're worth. Duffy went heavy on the style and light on the substance but didn't understand how or why style works.
The film runs on non-linear flashbacks and for what purpose I'll never know. Does it enhance the movie? Do we learn anything more about the characters after the flashbacks? Do the characters change? This is like Duffy watched "Pulp Fiction" one Saturday night over a bowl of popcorn and jotted down everything cool he saw on a one-dollar notepad. After a while the flashbacks becomes so repetitive it's neither shocking nor refreshing when any blood is shed. It practically lulled me to sleep.
The movie's slightest attempt at a plot follows two Irish brothers who become Boston serial killers and the homosexual, horny detective who pursues. The cops and the robbers are far from interesting, and although Willem Dafoe as FBI agent Paul Smecker has admirable energy, he'd have better luck using it running a triathlon or teaching drama kids how not to overact.
Smecker is the almighty weirdo who might have just been played by Al Pacino but I don't think Pacino could afford to sink this low. Smecker is a homicidal genius which must be why he's working for the FBI but when he can't figure out the identities of the killers, it drives him mad with envy. What's his motivation to join them? Is it because killing people and getting away with it beats coffee and donuts? Smecker listens to classical music on the job to make the character look cool. Actually, Dafoe waltzing towards a brick wall looks sillier than the Green Goblin.
The Irish brothers are poorly written, poorly mannered, poorly dressed and poorly manifested characters. Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus obviously had fun in these roles, dropping the F-bomb every other word. They masquerade to rid the world of evil. Duffy tried hard looking for a symbol to represent the dynamics of vigilantism and he chose the crucifix. In the context of this bloody vendetta, it's not a symbol but an insult, although Duffy couldn't recognize an insult when he saw one.
This film is stupid. The characters are stupid, their motivations are stupid and the director is stupid, stupid, stupid. It became a cult-classic over the years and reeked larger sales from video rentals probably because people were curious just how stupid it really was. This is one movie that would benefit from online piracy because, for anybody, it doesn't deserve a paid viewing.
P.S. I'd rate it, but IMDb does not offer a 0/10 option.
Feel Brandon's Shame
Shame on Hollywood producers for not releasing this film to a broader audience because it is an intense, emotional drama packed with powerhouse performances and a gritty truth about human addiction. Michael Fassbender is Brandon, a hapless man living alone in his New York City condo. His apartment looks too good to be true, almost sterile and lifeless. This is no coincidence, and the opening shot of the film foreshadows how much of an alien Brandon truly is. He commutes back and forth to work in the cavernous subway systems, slyly ogling at alluring pedestrians who come and go his way. At work he simultaneously downloads pornography into his hardware. He'll retreat to the men's bathroom to masturbate (did I forget to mention he masturbates daily in his bed and in the shower, too?). The movie presents us at a certain juncture in Brandon's life where his colleagues have confiscated his computer to be scrutinized for any malware or pornography. The laconic man is rendered helpless to fuel his urges. Those trips to the men's bathroom become more frequent.
By night, Brandon returns to his lofty abode in just the same silent manner which brought him to work. He's introverted, quiet, and studious of those around him. In the confinement of his apartment, he settles down with a cold beer and what appears to be hours of online pornography or viral chats. When this fails to sate him, we see that Brandon is also in affiliation with street-side slatterns. Some of these promiscuous women are wealthy (we see Brandon hand over a wad of twenties like he's investing in a gumball machine); others are there only to suit his insatiable needs.
With Steve McQueen's realistic approach to this addiction and Fassbender's true portrayal, the sexual lifestyle becomes enticing. Audience members are opt to feel a little unnerved at some of the visceral scenes (a man behind me retreated for the door halfway through), but I think that's what brought us into the movie theater: our curiosity of a human impulse within all of us that is wrung out to the extreme. Fassbender surely recognized this too in preparing for his role. His deadpan expressions, coldhearted stares, and inability to connect with those around him contradict the livelihood and adrenaline that possesses him during sex. But past all of the obvious sex, the real story and message lie between Brandon and his sister, fittingly named Sissy.
Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, interrupts Brandon's habitual lifestyle by dropping in unexpectedly one day. Actually it wasn't unexpected. She called him several times in advance, but Brandon (as alien as ever) ignored her phone calls. When the time comes for him to face his sister on both a personal and family level, it is just as futile as striking up a conversation with any other human being. There's a particularly marvelous scene in a night club where Brandon and his boss sip martinis over Sissy's melancholy crooning. McQueen settled for an close up of Mulligana three minute close up. I think I understood why Brandon shed a rueful tear.
Shame is a riveting drama that exemplifies how an addiction can overtake a person's life. My only criticism is the addiction itselfthe film could have very easily replaced sex with a drug addiction and it still would've worked. But this brings me to the point of the film's success, where the accomplishment of McQueen's movie lies not in the exposure of gratuitous sex scenes but in the tug-of-war drama between Brandon and Sissy. It's not an easy film to watch, and for good reason. But shame on those producers for not pushing a wider release.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Don't let this guy drive the "Cash Cab"
Taxi Driver is Martin Scorsese's harrowing portrait of an introverted man so lost in his own purgatory that he seeks a method of escape to radical extremes. There have been little films quite like Taxi Driver and yet the issue is one so universal but difficult to illustrate. Behind the waxy façade of the yellow cabbie, Taxi Driver is quite literally the story of a killer. Like most of Scorsese's works, Taxi Driver is guiltily enticing.
The film utilizes a known Scorsese technique which would later become a hallmark for the director's later films; the technique is an insider looking out, or vice versa. In Taxi Driver, 26-year old introvert Travis Bickle is plagued with insomnia, bad hygiene and a mural of desensitizing images created by New Yorkers, after dark. New York City itself is an inferno, a feculent wasteland of scum, dirt, and trash. There are no red, white, and blue American flags here. Lady Liberty is far from the screen. Bickle's New York is virtually a labyrinthine Hell. Bickle is summed up by the amount of narration he provides and the cab fare he earns. There's empty coke cans strewn about his apartment; at one point we see him concocting his own food of bread, sugar, and whiskey. He's in a vapor lock and is pestered by this transparent issue for the duration of the film. Whether it's behind the windows of his taxi cab, through the glass frame of a political office, or even into the cumbersome television set, Travis is never immersed with other people. He's an observer who cannot tolerate the scum around him but on the contrary wishes to conform and fit in. For this very reason, Taxi Driver is a masterful depiction of an introvert's zest to fit in with an extrovert world. Bickle always weighs himself down with the self-righteous image of those extroverts around him. Never once does he consider his own life as self-sustaining, indulgent, meaningful, or normal. He's God's lonely man.
Opposite Bickle's voyage into madness are politicians and scumbags. The politicians are played by Cybill Shepherd as Bickle's dream woman Betsy, and Albert Brooks as Tom, a political adviser. Politics are something Travis can never understand, and a pivotal reason for this is its necessity for cooperation, community and teamwork. Bickle only lives in and out of his quixotic fantasies, never once actually considering his own political preference, or what Betsy and Tom strive for. Thus the politicians are the epitome of all extrovertsa social club that Travis could never possibly join. Senator Palatine, the elected official, is the personification of New York citizenship. Palatine's logo is "We ARE the people". Travis must have construed this negatively, hence his descent into pure isolation.
The other group featured here are pimps and whores in Manhattan's alphabet city, a vile block of bricked tenements that, in one upward pan shot, are bleeding from the windows in ethnic minorities and undermined citizens. The "lowest scum" as Travis describes is "Sport", a pimp who panhandles and profits off of an uncertain 12-year old girl Iris, nicknamed "Easy". The second half of the movie engages in Travis's agenda to free Iris from the clutches of the pimp business. I reconsider that he not only wants Iris out of that city block, but out of New York altogether. There's a moment where Iris scoffs at Bickle, tantalizing him for judging without seeing past the end of his own nose. It's an interesting dynamic when a 12 year old girl recognizes everything wrong with a recalcitrant 26 year old man who in his own mind, doesn't understand the rest of society. The brilliant part about Iris and Bickle's scenes is how they are both misfits, able to see each other's issues without wholly acknowledging their own. The two are both trapped in impossible love stories: Iris in the hands of an unscrupulous pimp while Travis is crestfallen over the rejection from Palatine-supporter, Betsy.
Taxi Driver is such an earnest approach to the dehumanizing of a man that it might frighten some audiences. It all depends on the viewpoint of the viewer. If you're anything like Palatine or Betsy, you'll surely laugh at how crazy and incorrigible Bickle is. But for those insiders looking out, here is a fine catharsis.
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Angry Jurors and you're Juror 13
Imagine that you were put into an anonymous jury of everyday men, and your decision would determine the fate of an 18 year old Puerto Rican who allegedly murdered his own father. The substantial evidence prosecutes him. Then after reaching the verdict, you shine your shoes, shrug your shoulders, and return to your everyday life. 12 Angry Men is a compelling courtroom drama that isn't even in the courtroom. We never solve the case. We're not supposed to. Instead we're subjected to a tense conversation among jurors who dissect and unfold fragments of the case that we didn't see in court. What happens next is a moving drama about prejudice, bigotry, and ridicule among working class American men--and it's all piloted with masterful direction by Sidney Lumet.
This is the second Sidney Lumet picture I have seen, the first being Dog Day Afternoon. I can infer that Lumet is a realist. Like Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men dramatizes a single event in one single setting. It allows for unprecedented drama and character development in ways which are typically battered down by other courtroom dramas. The film originated as a play and it's definitely easy to recognize the influence with Lumet's picture. But Lumet succeeds as a director by translating the "stage scenario" into one believable setting for a feature length film. I can't help but recall the numerous past occasions where I was confined to a room for two or three arduous hours. 12 Angry Men has a way of illustrating that claustrophobic headache.
Another pivotal earmark is its dissection of not just the case (which we never witness) but of humanity itself. While twelve men are put into one room to bicker about the inconclusive evidence or the reasonable doubt, the more they bicker the more we become attune to their fallacies. These are not just fallacies or mistakes from the case; these are sociological imperfections. One man is a raving pedantic racist.Another lets his estranged relationship with his son fuel his bias. The impetuous Yankees fan hasn't a say in anything but sports--a poignant example of the way he feels about the rest of life, no doubt. And then there's the immaculate doubter, played by Henry Fonda, who questions not only the case in-and-out but his own sensibilities. Fonda's character openly states his discomfort for sending somebody to the "chair" in such an insouciant manner; he only wants to talk about it (via review) with his fellow jurors to justify that "Hey, I'm about to give the OK to kill somebody!" At first, the eleven opposing jurors (and audience) look to Fonda's capricious demeanor as burdensome. But his "rocking of the boat" is not meant to upset the majority rule. It's meant to weed-out and expose the levels of human decency and moral that hide beneath the faces of the same men. And it's all exploited in a confined room. No names are uttered. Hardly any benevolence is found. Instead we're given only a slim portrait of these men which expands into a stunning social statement on America altogether.
I suppose that after the decision (as is seen in the film), the men all return to their labors. One has a baseball game to catch. Another will return to his wife. What occurred in the room mattered only in that room. 12 Angry Men held me at a genuine surprise, for I was uncertain of how a courtroom drama would handle a large cast of characters. Most courtroom films just replay the drama; 12 Angry Men immerses you right in it. Leaving the bedroom, the theater (wherever you saw it), you feel, in some ways, like the 13th juror.
La vita è bella (1997)
Life is Beautiful begins with a nonchalant nod towards its whimsicality, issued by an unknown narrator that the uneasy story about to unfold is anything but acquiescent and virtually an engrossing tragedy.
What follows next is a bright and colorful landscape of two Italian-Jewish friends gallivanting through the countryside. It looks like the setting of the fable Pinocchio. It isn't before long that the "once upon a time" setting terminates and relocates into a serious tone. In this juxtaposition, the film triumphs.
Guido (played by Roberto Benigni) is an incorrigible optimist, both facetious and clumsy. But he's honest, friendly, and (at times) oblivious to perhaps just how whimsical he is. But he has no complaints and shrugs off bad karma. When it's dark, he'll light a candle. If his bike has a flat, he'll skip to work. If it rains, he dances (point taken). Guido's characterization, gradually built up in the first half of the movie, is pivotal for later illustrating the relationship with his innocent son, Joshua. He's never a man to accept defeat and insists on marrying the beautiful senioria Dora after multiple fortuitous encounters. Their chemistry is affable and the kinetic synergy between the two in the fairy tale frame is hypnotizing. I can't help but admire the film's foreshadow abruptly after the two elope, where Guido steals her away on a horse literally marked for death. But recall, he's not one to let a rainy day ruin his parade.
Reality occurs several years later, where Guido, Dora, and his only son Joshua are sequestered into a Jewish Ghetto (a hostile concentration camp riddled with Nazis), and Guido is burdened with the task of explaining to his child that the visceral reality is actually just a fun, elaborate game organized by "bad guys". In some ways one might identify these scenes as a cathartic justice for all of the mishaps Guido caused earlier in act one; alas, Guido continues to make the best of his situation, even in one so extreme as the infamous Holocaust.
I began to wonder over halfway through the film if Guido's motives were to ward off reality from his son, or, more poignantly, himself. For Guido was always a character living in a superfluous fantasy. Consider then that the Holocaust is the ultimate test of an optimist's character, and one that is innately passed from father to son.
Life is Beautiful is also one of the finest Holocaust films I've seen (among Schindler's List, The Pianist, and Sophie's Choice to name a view). While it is far from the most visually graphic, it is nevertheless ominous and intimidating in its depiction of mass genocide. It's appealing that the ethnocentrism here wasn't preached like in Sophie's Choice, or that the Nazis were Satan's disciples like in Schindler's List, or even that the film was so god damn bleak from start to finish (*cough, the Pianist).
What we're given here is an entirely different take on such a grim subject matter. The perspective is accentuated from the transition into fairy-tale to reality. The reality hardens when it's exploited by an optimist in a pessimistic scenario. The payoff, in the finale, is a bitter triumph. Life is beautiful. Never before had I ever thought twice about that sentiment. From now on, I will.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Good times, bad times, fast times
There's a scene in this gag-reel of a movie that effectively sums it up: The frisky Stacy Hamilton tells Mike Damone that she's pregnant and he's the father. Their solution is to pay half-and-half, settling for an abortion. It's over with a nonchalant smile. No morals. No ethics. No regard for human decency.
Fast Times At Ridgemont High portrays high school at its rawest (80's high school at least, but you'll be surprised and slightly unnerved at the accuracy of these stereotypes). Sex, drugs, and rock n'roll are the cultural norms. I suppose if it were in the 1950's it'd be sex, drugs, and Elvis. Contemporary times would see it as sex, drugs, and hiphop.
The film is an absurd comedy and a satire on teenagers in high school. It provides no catharsis to the audience for the idiocy of its characters, nor does the fickle faced ensemble cast ever pause in philosophical respite to question their amoral improprieties.
Interestingly enough, this is the enigma of high school--and teenagers are clustered into an institution where their hormones, curiosities, and lusts accentuate to dynamic proportions. I think the writers knew this. Or (for that matter) anybody who attended and graduated high school should find resonance in this farcical film. Whether or not the characters will ever learn from their actions is irrelevant; it's illustrating a misfortunate time in everybody's life. The existential stoner Jeff Spicoli actually reminded me of a kid I once knew who scoffed at truancy and binged on beer and food. There's familiarity in Linda Barrett, the stunningly beautiful but self-righteous and pretentious dame. Mark Ratner is the archetypal "nice guy", a milquetoast compared to his assertive peers.
The film plays with no actual plot; it's almost like a down-to-earth soap opera, switching scene through scene, visiting and frequenting the familiar stereotypes. The gags are hilarious. The irrational is tactifully spot on. However, cycling through a Rolodex of stereotypes is not an effective means of delivering any sort of message, except that there's "fast times at Ridgemont High". Couldn't it have been good times, or bad times? I'll validate for sure: No way in hell it would've been "Smart Times". Ironically, that's the success of the film. I mean who hasn't, at one point or another, reminisced about the bad food, the stupid stunts, the excessive drugs, or the mediocre life that they had in high school? Fast Times At Ridgemont High. For some it's a high school reunion. For others, a reality check. I found myself actually enjoying it but was disappointed at the lack of any real or probable pay off. Then again, I felt the same way about my own high school. High school sucks. Sometimes you just want to get it all over with. Fast.
Sudden Impact (1983)
The "Dirtiest" Harry
Insp. "Dirty" Harry Callahan returns in the darkest and dirtiest of the Dirty Harry's. It's amazing that the inspector's kept his job all these yearsmore importantly his life. By now it's not a job but a lifestyle.
The fourth installment begs to stand alone with a gritty revenge story and visually dark cinematography that separates it from the rest. It is also the first in the series directed by Clint Eastwood, who also starred and produced. Eastwood's learned some things from past influencers, notably Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. With Eastwood in the director's chair he's transcended the exploitative darkness of Siegel's first film and honored Leone's Spaghetti Westerns. Simultaneously he's drawn closer than ever to his Dirty Harry character.
The film is driven by two plots with two characters, Harry Callahan and Jennifer Spencer. The actors were a real life couple, which adds some underlying chemistryif not tensionbetween them. The first hour follows the routine "Dirty Harry" outline. The loose cannon cop stumbles in and out of homicides, angers his superiors and gets sugar with his morning coffee all in a day's work. Eastwood is so confident in his direction of the character that the one-liners seem natural; permissible. The greatest is the iconic coffee shop scene; impossible not to quote so I'll "go ahead, make my day." For some people this one overlapped the memorable quote from the first movie. Some even confuse the two.
Callahan's reputation starts a death toll so his superiors drive him out to San Paulo to investigate a homicide lead. Unbeknownst to him, the killer is artist Jennifer Spencer, a beautiful but heavily scarred woman exacting revenge on scummy town locals who raped her and her sister ten years ago. Callahan doesn't know this while we know it, but it's compelling to watch Spencer unveil her tirade. The last twenty minutes are every woman's nightmare. Then Callahan comes along and rescues the woman from the train tracksliterally.
"Sudden Impact" is an indelible installment so sure of its violence and characters that it almost stands on two legs. If it wasn't battered down by a franchise it might've been allowed to play it for drama rather than action. But this is a "Dirty Harry" film. It'll make your day.
A consummate director shares his dreams--literally
Inception is about as complex a movie that Christopher Nolan will ever make, so far. It is clear evidence in this cinematic entrepreneur's vast mind that film making and dreaming can conjoin on mutual grounds and become a total thrill to the audience and a box office success for Hollywood. The film, which is a genius creation ten years in the making, uses the concept of dreaming on an epic scale. There's a taste of Kubrick's The Killing in there, a few artistic designs likened from Akira Kurosawa no doubtbut the psychology of it all is entirely Christopher Nolan. It is, after all, an idea from his mind.
The facetious thing about the film's plot is how it makes a metaphor for everything sacred to dreaming. In this movie, the verbal exchange, "I'm sharing my dream with you" does not elicit a whimsical date on a beach but actually sharing tangible dreams. Nolan's movie is in control of its own universe. The rules, regulations and taboos of his dream lore are explained, sometimes too thoroughly, in an interconnected fabrication of quick cut, edited scenes that all heighten into a climatic ending. For pleasing the audiences, as well as giving a little more taste to their mindless popcorn munching, the film succeeds. Others, like film pseudo-intellectuals, might criticize the absence of ambiguity. Is it because Nolan has thoroughly mastered his own world? Or that his tedium reached new levels of egoism? Whatever the answer, it sure as hell warrants the viewer to think about these things. Yes. Thinking after a movie can still exist through the throngs of visually evocative extravaganzas. (And for the record, Nolan's movie does have the power to evokethought in this case).
With the world set up, and as long as audiences are invested enough to follow, the plot unravels as professional dream extractors arrange to plant an idea in the mind of a company rival. Their operation unfolds like a heist as they delve deeper and deeper into the target's mind. This is all good fun, and probably one of the best McGuffin's in years. The actual grit of the story comes from Dom Cobb (Leo DiCaprio) who is guilt stricken over planting an idea in his wife's head which lead her to her suicide. In a psychological battle reminiscent of Nolan's other movie Memento, Inception's protagonist has all the workings of the quintessential Nolan character. By following Cobb, we not only suffer his psychological breakdowns, but we understand that there is indeed a human element behind the extraneous plot. As a result, we empathize, sharing both Cobb's dreams and his realities.
For a first time viewing, Inception will certainly excite. By the last shot, it incites multiple viewingsnot just for clarity, but for another grasp of Nolan's intricate perspective on dreaming. I have seen it four times now. The action and thrills remain, but the premisethe very idea of the filmis still an intrigue. In the long line of movie makers, Nolan has accomplished the remarkablehe's shared his dream with us. Literally.
"Stranger certainly describes it"
"Stranger" certainly describes it, this being the latest outing of the swashbuckling adventures of the nefarious Captain Jack Sparrow (played for the umpteenth time by Johnny Depp). Four years ago, this overblown franchise thankfully ended on a horrid note. Now, Jerry Bruckheimer (Disney's favorite producer) returned to give us another epic debacle about seafaring pirates in a fantastical misadventure. Between the last film and this current one, a few good things have happened: 1. Bloom and Knightley's absence is hardly missed, and the film ran better without their melodrama. 2. The 'tour de force' was toned down. Quite a bit. In fact, On Stranger Tides is even lackluster; tepid at best.
The story kicks off in an undisclosed year where Jack Sparrow is rescuing Joshamee Gibbs in London from the gallows. We get an homage to Indiana-Jones style action and then the film arrives promptly to the premise: Sparrow must sail to the Fountain of Youth...which he may or may not have seen before (we can't really imply anything because it's too damn vague). After meeting up with an ex-lover named Angelica (played like a James Bond girl by Penelope Cruz), the two embark on the quest, in league with Spaniards, the British (lead by the converted Commodore Barbossa), and the evil, diabolical, motorcycle-junkie Blackbeard. Unfortunately, there's nothing more to describe about the plot, unless you find interesting a melodramatic subplot involving a soulless preacher and a shallow mermaid. And that's really all the movie is, sorry to say. For a painstaking 137 minutes, I was subjected to Hollywood "movie playtime" with these three groups (Spaniards, Brits, and Pirates) interchanging in sword fights, testing their fate, and other maritime conundrums. And sadly, the ensemble cast has nothing new to offer. While Depp and Rush continue to perform impeccably in their longstanding characters (from 2003), it's the plot in which they're pitted that ultimately creates their cinematic downfall. What of the rest? Cruz, who yields some surprising chemistry with Depp, is also downtrodden by her looming offscreen pregnancy (LITERALLY offscreen. The filmmakers had to use body doubles in some shots). I'm sure Ian McShane on the other hand is just happy to get his paycheck so long as he assumes that "bad guy" attitude in what I believe is the blandest pirate ever to sail the shallow seas.
Characterization aside, the film did boast some impressive cinematography (albeit, a few aerial shots were stolen from George of the Jungle)--but it's nonetheless superior to all of that CGI bullshit we saw from the last two films. (Scratch that, CGI and water).
Overall, On Stranger Tides is a popcorn flick hailing tired, A-list stars and ecstatic producers. It's definitely a finer film than the last two outings--still pending two lawsuits for ripping off Lord of the Rings--and if you're looking for mindless movie madness to accompany that voracious popcorn munching, look no further. Or, you can always board the Disneyland ride (or youtube it) and get the same experience in under two hours. THAT cannot be bargained with
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
A decent game overrated by "next gen" status
Like the previous movie games, this one is also based off the motion picture film and depicts Spider-Man bonding with a dark entity that changes his entire persona and life to a great evil. When it nearly ruins his life, he realizes he must cleanse himself of the suit.
While the game follows up on a big blockbuster movie, do not let that fool you. Graphics may be one of the only greatest things about this game. The graphics are the best any Spider-Man video game has seen yet and a step up from the Superman Returns video game graphics. It isn't comparable to Gears of War, but certainly is great on its own level.
However, the downfalls overpower the pros. First is the monotonous city. The hyped up improvements die quickly as the explorable subways and sewers become old. The citizens of Manhattan no longer thank, yell or cheer on their friendly neighborhood, Spider-Man. A few improvements include cars that actually hit you if you get in the middle of a busy avenue- but the lackluster atmosphere of the city from inaccurate landmarks to zombie-like citizens certainly is a downfall.
This time around the missions are different and the player gets a unique feature to play any story missions in any order. Unfortunately there is no continuity as the missions feel scrambled and it is unbelievable that so many things could be happening in the city all at one time. To make matters worse, players only get a mere three missions representing the movie storyline whilst everything else is filler. A few disgruntled fans and critics of the movie argued about cramming too much into a Spidey film. In here- it almost seems mimicked.
Spider-Man is greatly improved however in his own graphics and fighting techniques. He is even more powerful using the black suit. Yet Spider-Man is the only decent character in the entire game and through time, it doesn't even feel like a Spider-Man game you are playing with all the costume changes (Rhino looks like the Juggernaut from X3). Bruce Campbell as the narrator sounds bored with his job this time around and the villains seem to reflect the little screen time they had in the movie.
Sandman for instance appears out of nowhere on your first mission using the black suit and you almost wonder if Spider-Man is having a nightmare. Sandman's transformation in the game is also a rip-off as we see it in a mere 3 seconds in the opening credits. Eddie Brock appears about 2 times tops in the video game, and Venom in only one mission. The same is said for Harry Osborn who makes two appearances and is nothing like the way he was in the movie. Unlike the first two games where we see the detailed and sometimes emotional transformations into their villainous persona's such as Norman Osborn into Green Goblin or Octavius into Doc Ock- the villains here appear in the blink of an eye and are long gone before you realize it.
The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
One of Disney's last masterpieces
I'll admit, upon seeing the trailer of this film back in the day, I thought it looked awful- especially the style of animation. But I judged a book by its cover.
This film is hilarious and one of the last greatest animated films that came from Disney (along with the others in this new generation of computer animation, such as Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, etc.). The comedy is what keeps this film alive, and one of the key parts is the lack of sing along type of songs- which actually is a good formula that keeps the movie flowing.
The style of the animation- while not the best in the world- actually reflects the comedic attitude of the film at most.
A masterpiece for some and a good movie for others
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest is the story of Randle P. McMurhpy who is sent to the Asylum for medical attention and to be observed by the workers there- such as Dr. Spivey. Already on day one, he is able to rile up the patients and the dictator-like Nurse Ratched already sees McMurphy as a small problem. After the first meeting where McMurphy witnesses how Ratched controls the other patients through manipulation, he makes a bet to get the better of her.
I read and finished the book a week ago and it is one of my favorites. It has more themes than just a simple storyline of a tragic hero trying to overrun a power hungry nurse. The movie is a little different. There are certain scenes out of place and filmed in a different sequence than in the book and it is not told through the eyes of Chief Bromden.
If you read the book, you'll see it as a good movie I believe, it has its funny moments and you can relate to the characters. If you didn't read the book and then watch the movie, you may think of it as a masterpiece and a very special story.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Underrated Christmas Film
I just looked at the rating and wow, a 4.6 is kind of low in my opinion.
I thought this film was the perfect family film. It obviously does not measure up to the standards of Home Alone or any of those classic puppet Christmas Films, but this film is good in its own way. Howard goes to get his son the Turbo Man action figure only to realize it is the hottest selling toy of the Christmas Season.
The events that Howard goes through to get his son the simple figure seem drastic and unreal, but it is a movie here, and most of all- for the kids. The scenes he is in involving him and Myron battle for the one toy are hilarious, there is definitely a Christmas feeling in this film, Phil Hartman is excellent as the bachelor Tad, and most of all: There is snow.
Throughout the entire film, the father Howard (aside from trying to get the Turbo Man figure) has an inner struggle with himself concerning the promises he has made to his family- and he eventually does his best to keep his promises.
The Secret (2006)
Quite boring but good all the same
Let me say that this movie was decent.
I was pondering what the secret was before my teacher turned the film on. When it showed up on screen, the intro looked powerful and interesting, but then it began to get boring.
The interviews and whole discussion part was boring, for a morning class especially when everyone nearly fell asleep- even me.
But through all the drowsy behavior, I actually got something out of it. The entire message of the law of attraction and imagining what you want through feeling and such was fairly inspiring.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Very Dark, Eerie and Entertaining
While this book was nowhere close to the original, it has the same basic characters and follows the plot of the book vaguely.
Ichabod Crane travels up the Hudson River to the small town Sleepy Hollow to investigate murderous decapitations. He stays at the home of Baltus Van Tassel and while there, enjoys himself the pleasure of the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel.
Tim Burton directs this one and I absolutely love it. Danny Elfman's score is amazingly brilliant, the film could actually survive without any dialogue and you would just be swept away by the beauty and eerie tones of Elfman's music. It is definitely one of his best scores ever.
For movies, this one is probably the darkest Tim Burton film and the sheer colors on the screen and look of the town itself prove that it is. The mystery can get a little confusing about the Headless Horseman and having a Headless ghost as the villain does seem a little scary for some, but the horseman seems even creepier with his head on! The film is violent but enjoyable and you'll be wanting more and more with each scene.
Great, great, great film.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
Just plain brilliant
I absolutely love this film. The animation is great and has a real Walt Disney family feel to it. The movie has surprisingly no speaking except for a few words here and there. The only person speaking is the narrator. That makes the movie even cooler as it is largely similar to the book and just like the book, the only dialogue comes from the narrator.
And for the little kids, there are the usual songs to keep them occupied and there is plenty here for the adults to enjoy too.
Brilliant film, gives you a Halloween feeling, I sure enjoyed it and I hope I speak for everyone else.
Ngo si seoi (1998)
Very cool, interesting and filled with great Jackie Chan action
This is the first Jackie Chan film I saw and I loved it. I was a little bit young to understand the storyline but now that I'm older, the storyline is actually very great.
The action in this movie is a key part of this film, as it is in any martial arts film. Jackie Chan brings his usual unique fighting style on screen and the best fight of all is atop the roof of the CIA building at the films climax which is followed by an awesome stunt which I won't give away. The villain is a decent antagonist and Chan's sidekicks come in handy this time around.
Great film, it is dubbed by a few actors/actresses but just plain fun and awesome overall.