Reviews written by registered user
runamokprods

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1040 reviews in total 
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257 out of 383 people found the following review useful:
An amazing story, but some questions about the telling, 6 December 2012
7/10

Amazing effects and stunts, along with and solid performances balance out some artistic lapses and ethical questions in this true story of one family's experiences of the horrendous Tsunami that killed 300,000.

The downsides; there's something a little off-putting about choosing a white, privileged family as a focus, while at the same time showing almost exclusively other white people as suffering and afraid in a disaster that killed far more local people than tourists. The Thai's are certainly shown in a good light, kindly helping all these suffering whites, but even in the hospital, almost every face we see in a bed is a white one. That hint of odd racial insensitivity is also underlined by replacing the original family, who were Spanish and dark, and making them into a gorgeous blond English family, a telling choice in a 'true' story.

On a more general level, the film can feel manipulative, from the tear jerking score, to the multiple carefully framed "will they spot each other?" shots that feel like a horror film's self-conscious suspense fames, but that cinematic technique feels distractingly artificial in this more naturalistic setting.

There's no question it's exciting and at times quite moving, but I couldn't help thinking I might have felt even more deeply if it wasn't pushing so hard to control my emotions.

69 out of 81 people found the following review useful:
Not perfect, but Allen is still an important voice, 27 October 2010
8/10

An odd film for Allen, neither an overt comedy or one of his dark serious films (e.g. 'Crimes and Misdemeanors'). This is a 'light' drama, something he hasn't done much. While far from Allen's best work, I felt more warmly towards it than most of the press, especially after a second viewing. Some of the criticisms are valid; the voice over narration feels out of tone with the film, and at times tells us too literally what we already know. Yet, in the current American cinema, how many film-makers are getting to even and try and address the complex subtle questions of grown-up relationships, aging and the fear of death, and the lies we tell ourselves to get through it all? Or deal with the paradox that humans seem to need something to believe in, and yet that same belief can also lead us astray? Or give great older actors like Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones really meaty roles? As long as Allen keeps asking questions, he'll remain a voice worth listening to.

71 out of 87 people found the following review useful:
A disturbing and thought provoking film, 22 November 2011
9/10

A fascinating and powerful departure for Almodovar, or perhaps more accurately more an terrific hybrid of the best of his old and new. This has the darker, more actively perversely disturbing and violent themes of some of his early work like 'Matador' but shot and directed with the far smoother and more mature hand he has developed over the years. It also uses the more complex and fractured time structure style of Almodovar's more recent work, to great effect.

In the end its a gorgeous looking, philosophically complex mystery and horror film. Although not gory, this is a disturbing work, both on a literal story level, and also for the questions it raises about identity, love, sado-masochism, and passion run amok.

These themes are all Almodovar touchstones, but delivered here with a visually stunning icy touch, and with much more complete logic than in his early works, which often felt less fully thought through, and had more frustrating plot holes and character leaps.

Not a 'scary' film, but a creepy, moody and highly effective one. A dark fairy tale as told by, say Stanley Kubrick.

It's good to see Antonio Banderas reunited with Almodovar, and he delivers a wonderfully complex and quirky modern day Dr. Frankenstein.

Less emotional than my two very favorite Almodovar films (Talk to Her, All About My Mother), but its exciting to see this extremely talented film maker continue to evolve and grow, and I think this represents work that can stand among his best.

49 out of 62 people found the following review useful:
A doc that just may effect how you live, 8 January 2015
10/10

Wow. This unassuming, even occasionally goofy documentary packs one hell of a punch. It aims to be a sort of follow up to "An Inconvenient Truth". But in some ways this is arguably an even more powerful film.

It asks a couple of simple questions, and finds answers that are so disturbing that it's the rare film that had an immediate impact on my behavior. Basically the film asks "how much does modern animal farming contribute to global warming and other pollution problems?" And the answer is, more than cars, trucks, planes and all other transportation combined. Maybe a LOT more depending on what metrics you use. It also asks, 'given these facts, why are no major environmental groups aggressively trying to change how we farm and eat, the way they're trying to change how we drive or power our houses? ' The answers are several and disturbing, and there's a bit of the thriller in how the filmmakers get sources to explain, or more chillingly suddenly clam up on camera as they realize what's being asked.

At times the film seems so personal and home-grown that I might have tended to dismiss it as the work of someone on the fringe, but doing some follow up reading it became clear that all this is pretty well grounded in solid science. (There are a some controversial claims here, but what becomes clear on further looking is that the basic points are hard to dismiss. For example, there's a review on here questioning the film's numbers about the greenhouse effect of methane. But if you go to the film's website, they list almost all the claims in the film, explain where they come from, and give links to the paper or article. In the case of methane it's from a NASA study on the upper atmosphere -- hardly some wild eyed fringe group.)

And some of the facts themselves are rather astounding. In a world short of clean water, do you really feel OK eating a burger that takes 660 gallons of clean water to produce?

Like all the best 'issue' documentaries, this will likely leave you examining your own lifestyle choices in a new light. What more can one ask from a 85 minute film?

The Double (2013)
38 out of 44 people found the following review useful:
Lots of good stuff here, weighed down by some flaws, 31 August 2014
8/10

I've now seen two films by the talented Ayodade – the other being his coming of age 'Submarine" - and had a very similar reaction though they are miles apart in style, story and theme.

First, this is a gifted film-maker, who doesn't want to play by the usual rules. Next, he knows how to get off to a great start, build a fascinating world, get you involved with his people, but third, he doesn't quite find ways to make his third acts pay off as interestingly (or powerfully or emotionally) as the first two-thirds of the film promise. In both films the focus drifts to less interesting elements or variations on the stories he's telling.

And last, he needs to lighten up on the too-obvious 'homage's to his cinematic touchstones. In "Submarine" it was (among others) Wes Anderson and "Rushmore". Here the overbearing influences (there are many) are led by Terry Gilliam's "Brazil". There were a large number of design and character choices – while effective - that came close enough that I couldn't help but sit there making comparisons ('Hey, there's Wallace Shawn doing Ian Holm'). And it starts to approach that fine line between inspiration and plagiarism.

That said, there's a lot to like here. The photography is often gorgeous. Jessie Eisenberg does a terrific job in a tough double role – a meek office worker who is suddenly faced with another employee who looks exactly like him. But the new guy has a brash, self-confident personality, everyone loves him, and no one else seems to notice the two are physically exactly alike, right down to their clothes.

This raises interesting questions about personality, perception and reality. Is "James Simon" (the cool one) merely a psychological projection of the nerd, "Simon James"? But if that's the case, why does everyone else interact with both, together and separately? Is it that Simon is the only one who thinks they look alike? i.e. is Simon projecting himself onto someone who – if we saw objectively – wouldn't even really look like him? Well, that would be an interesting idea, and a promising road for the film to explore, and it hints heavily at that possibility, only to simply drop and contradict it.

And that's part of why this is two-thirds of a great film, not a whole one. In the end things play out in a way that has been foreshadowed from early on, and suddenly the film feels less deep, less challenging, more an exercise in cinematic playfulness than an exploration of deeper themes both personal and societal. The head trip becomes too literal, the conclusions too simple for the complex surreal reality we've come to accept

On the plus side, the effects are terrific, and many of the best scenes in the film are Eisenberg talking to himself in one shot. (A hell of an acting challenge as well). And the film has a dark sense of humor that keeps the Kafkaesque world and 'big themes' from becoming ponderous, (Again, I just wish I had less often chuckled, but then thought 'hey, that just like the scene in 'Barton Fink…', or whatever).

In any case I look forward to whatever Ayoade does next, but I hope he will find a way to finish as strong as he starts, and to be brave enough to trust his own very good sense of style, and not borrow quite so much from others.

40 out of 49 people found the following review useful:
An excellent overview of a complex and troubling miscarriage of justice, 24 November 2012
9/10

While the story of the West Memphis Three, their awful flawed trial and subsequent efforts to obtain freedom were well covered in the "Paradise Lost" trilogy of films, this single film overview has a lot of value.

Perhaps because the case can now be looked back on in total, it feels like there is a clearer focus here than in the excellent "Paradise Lost" series. There also seems to be more of an emphasis on the emotion and humanity of all the victims – the three falsely convicted young men, but also the families that lost children.

Last, the film makes some of the awful holes in the prosecution case more simple and clear than earlier accounts, as well as putting a chilling spotlight on the possible real perpetrator, but without the theatrics that harmed 'Paradise Lost 2', which seemed guilty of what the trial did to the three boys; throw suspicion on a subject largely because he 'acted weird'.

Here the investigation into another possibility feels more dispassionate and scientific, and less manipulated, leaving one with questions rather than forcing conclusions.

The world might not have 'needed' another film on the subject, but personally, I feel the more injustice can be intelligently examined and exposed the better off we are as a society.

39 out of 49 people found the following review useful:
Not among Allen's greats, but still a lot of fun, 9 November 2012
8/10

While not great Woody Allen – it's neither profound, moving nor funny enough for that title, it is quite enjoyable.

The film is made up of four intercut short stories, that share little other than the fact they're set in Rome. Some have fantasy elements, some are more absurdist, others more straightforward character farce.

But somehow, though they don't make much of a logical grouping, the whole thing is lighthearted and fun enough that it seems grumpy to pick on it.

Sure some jokes fall flat and some ideas seem unfulfilled, but a lot of it is wonderfully acted and cleverly written. And at a time when so many comedies are aimed only at 15 year olds, even 2nd tier Woody, simply telling playfully comic tales, is a welcome sight.

31 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
A deeply moving surprise of a film, 22 December 2013
10/10

I was sad to see this deeply moving, complex and intelligent story of the love between the award winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. so overlooked by U.S, audiences and critics. There are two outstanding performances by Miranda Otto as the outwardly shy and repressed alcoholic Bishop, and Gloria Pires as her opposite, an extroverted, highly emotional woman who coaxes Bishop out of her shell.

Very nicely photographed, this reminded me of the best of the Merchant-Ivory films. It's not flashy. Indeed there's a quiet to it that is needed to off-set the melodramatic (even if based in truths) elements of these women's lives. But that doesn't keep it from packing a hell of an emotional punch, and in being bold enough to create characters we care for, but who are also deeply troubled and capable of making bad choices – just like in the real world of relationships we rarely see on screen. It was also nice to see a gay-themed love story that both acknowledged how difficult being homosexual was in the 1950s, while not becoming a film about that only. This is a film about a complex relationship between two highly creative and wounded souls who both save and damage each other. The fact that both are women is only a small part of the larger story. It's also one of the only films I've seen capture at least a taste of the struggle and loneliness of the act of writing.

One of those little gems that deserves to be discovered by more people.

26 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Quite special, 24 February 2015
9/10

Sweet, beautiful, wordless animated film, telling the charming, endearing and sometimes sad story of a young boy from the country going in search of his father who has moved to the city to earn money for the family.

The film seems an attempt to see through a child's eyes, and it succeeds, leading to images that are surreal, wondrous and odd, and that don't always make literal sense. Imagine how the high tech modern world would seem to a small boy of say 5, wandering in alone from the countryside. The film captures that feeling

Done in a simple, colorful, handmade style that's the opposite of most computer animation we see these days, recalling artists like Joan Miro, there's a heartfelt quality that goes with the handcrafted nature of its slightly surreal and beautiful images. Truly universal, there's not a single word of real dialogue, just some occasional gibberish-speak. There's also great Brazilian music that changes personality with the boy's adventures, along with a nice lesson for kids about the loss of the beauty of nature in the industrial world. Quite special.

27 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Unexpectedly emotional documentary, 6 November 2012
10/10

Fascinating, unexpectedly deeply moving portrait of Marina Abromovic, who is sometimes called 'the grandmother of performance art" and her hugely successful retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art'.

While her past history is never less then tremendously engrossing, the most powerful moments of the film are those showing her new work, unveiled for the retrospective called 'The Artist is Present'. For 3 months, Ms. Abromovic simply sat in a chair all day, taking no breaks, looking into the eyes of any museum guest who sat down opposite her. No talk, and very little movement.

Yet these encounters are tremendously powerful, often moving both participants to tears (and some of us watching the film as well). This is 'art' taken to it's most simple, naked level. Connection between two strangers, each coming away different for the encounter.

While all this may sound dry and theoretic, the pure honest emotion and presence the 63 year old artist brings to her Herculean task make watching the film anything but.


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