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It's 1977 Again!
I wasn't even a twinkle in my mother's eye when the original Star Wars film came out in May 1977.
But I can now imagine what the audience must have felt after watching it back then.
The Force Awakens is unabashedly and unashamedly a reboot of the Star Wars franchise and is remarkably reminiscent of the movie that has since been relabeled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope; the desert planet at the start, the good and brave underdog taking on and beating the might and evil Dark Side with their planet of a weapon.
But as we've seen recently with Daniel Craig as James Bond and JJ Abrams' own rendition of the Star Trek franchise, a reboot is not at all a bad thing particularly for a franchise like Star Wars in dire need of getting back to its roots and growing new shoots.
For a start, Abrams dispenses with the overuse of CGI that Lucas was obsessed with in the prequels and reverts to what he knows best the similarities to Star Trek and Super 8 are uncanny with spectacular, panoramic real time shots echoing back to the original Star Wars films.
This is definitely how our mum and dad watched movies when they were in their teens. The emphasis this time is clearly on the dialogue and plot all credit here to Lawrence Kasdan, the brains behind Empire Strikes Back which until this week was indisputably the best ever Star Wars film made. None of the corny and painful lines that hampered the prequels; there is a lot more soul and depth in each of those script books.
In the buildup to this movie, the focus was always going to be about Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, the original trio.
In the end, it was Ford and newcomer Daisy Ridley who stole the show out of an outstanding cast.
Even in his 70s, the man who also played Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan and the President in some of the highest-grossing films of all time, is still a class act and is just as fit and healthy as he was back 38 years ago hard to believe that he had to take time off from filming to recover from a plane accident. Han Solo came back with a bang and so did Chewy, even if he had aged due to a dysfunctional son who was leading the Dark Side's revival.
If A New Hope was Alec Guinness's farewell to the trilogy, The Force Awakens will be remembered as Harrison Ford's farewell to the trilogy; although with Disney now owning Lucasfilm, we might not have seen the last of Han Solo yet if Harrison Ford's enthusiasm at age 73 is anything to go by.
While we might have seen the last of Ford in this trilogy, we definitely haven't seen the last of Daisy Ridley. The 23 year old Londoner is the best thing to happen to the Star Wars franchise since the franchise came out itself, putting the wooden performances of Hayden Christensen to shame. Every film star has a memorable breakout role that people will talk for the ages; this is one definitely to top the ages.
Special mention must go to Carrie Fisher who may have had her own highly publicized battle with her own personal Dark Side in the years after Return of the Jedi but might very well have breathed new life into her stagnant acting career. The princess with the golden bikini is no more but in her place, is a character more beautiful than one could ever imagine. The Force Awakens is a film with tremendous depth and quality all across the park that we're all dying to watch again and again and then get the DVD or download the film when it becomes available. Whether the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences comes to the party and nominates it for an Oscar is very much in the air. Nevertheless, it is more than mission accomplished for Disney, Abrams and Lucasfilm in terms of not only re-engaging the fans it lost between 1999 and 2005 with those prequels but gaining a new generation of fans born in the 90s and noughties. Suddenly, it feels like 1977 all over again.
Woman in Gold (2015)
Why You Shouldn't Always Trust the Film Critics
It's a shame that the film industry has become so intertwined and dependent on the official press. Even after the passing of the great Roger Ebert, to be joined by that eventually of printed media, the word of mouth from the papers still determines if a film will bomb or not.
It's a pity then that Woman in Gold may not achieve the success it deserves because of the subjectivity of the criticism it has received from film reviewers. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with the film other than the fact that it has generally portrayed a true story about a woman's fight for justice for her family.
The legal aspects of Maria Altmann's story may not make for riveting viewing but they are intriguing nevertheless. This was never going to be a film of action and suspense apart from the part where Maria and Fritz Altmann flee to America. But the point of Woman in Gold was to tell a true story in a tasteful manner that is befitting Maria Altmann, Randal Schoenberg and the Austrian government and it has done that well, with little dramatization.
If you love art, have an interest in Nazi history, law or are just after a good underdog story, this movie is absolutely fine and is a bit more watchable than some more recent movies that critics have positively reviewed.
In Bruges (2008)
A beautiful film
This film is certainly worth it just to see how beautiful Bruges really is. It's one city I have never seen yet in Europe but I'm sure I will in the future along with other very beautiful cities in the Low Countries, i.e. Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels. Add to that a great balance of thriller and dark comedy and this could be the Snatch of 2008. Negatives? I guess not seeing Ralph Fiennes till midway through the movie - yes he was on the telephone with Brendan Gleeson's character earlier in the film but Fiennes' acting at his best has to be seen and he was definitely pretty good when he was on the screen. But all in all, a superb film definitely worth watching and definitely worth getting out on DVD eventually.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Rocky Balboa has become one of my personal favourite movies.. was expecting a Stallone brash flick but it was far from it.. i've never actually seen the original Rocky movies but i have to say this should be one of the best 2, if not the best.. i actually shed a few tears during the scenes Rocky visits Adrian's grave or when Rocky is trying to fight his way out of his depression.. just really grabs your heart when ya least expect it..
Rocky Balboa is not only abt Rocky but also abt Dixon, a world champion who is unloved despite his success, and is desperate to find fulfillment which comes from the most unlikely of people.. it's also abt Lil Marie and trying to find new hope and glory.. it's also abt Rocky Jr. and finding a way back to the road home.. it's also abt millions of people around the world who run up those famous steps whenever they're in Philadelphia, and realising that you can be who you want to be as long as you believe it and you have to fight for it.
Out of the Blue (2006)
definitely one of the most powerful films i've ever seen and certainly one of the top 3 films of 2006, the others being V for Vendetta and Children of Men.. i'd highly recommend any New Zealander whether they still live in NZ or not to watch this at least once.. the cinematography is just awesome - the shots of the serenity of Aramoana village were captured perfectly..
Out of the Blue doesn't try to be violent.. in fact all the shooting scenes were rather tame and looked p fake compared to e.g. History of Violence, Kill Bill or the usual American action fare.. rather it focuses on the decline of David Gray towards insanity and ultimately one of, if not the darkest moment in New Zealand's short history..
it's good to see the New Zealand film industry riding a crest of a wave since the success of Lord of the Rings..not just Hollywood funded films like King Kong or the Last Samurai which were all filmed in NZ, but also local productions like In My Father's Den, World's Fastest Indian, Sione's Wedding and now Out of the Blue have had a big impact at film fests all over the world..
go Aotearoa New Zealand! even if you're not a Kiwi you should still watch Out of the Blue.. it will leave ya stunned..
Dante's Peak (1997)
got to remember what ya looking for
i've always liked this film.. don't think it's crap at all.. well it's outdated when ya watching in year 2006, but you have to remember that this is a action/thriller film of the 90s era and you aren't required to bring your brains when you're watching such films. when i first watched this in 1997, i was very interested in volcanology and there were a lot of things inaccurate in the film, e.g. you never drive into a mine during a pyroclastic eruption because the rock around you actually heats up..
then again, i think the criticism is unwarranted and really the critics don't know what they're looking for in this film.. are they looking for a documentary or an action/thriller? if you are one who really can't live without their facts, then you would think this film is a bit over-dramatic and totally inaccurate.. but sit back and shut your brain, and this film isn't too bad at all.. in fact it's pretty good with some of the best special effects seen in the 90s.. the ending is a bit nuff but then again there wasn't much in the film to work with..
personally i think Dante's Peak is a bit better than Volcano because it's a lot more believable having the likes of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Mount St. Helens explode than the Tar Pits of Los Angeles!!
The Game of Their Lives (2005)
good movie for football fans
this is a good movie for football fans to watch just before the biggest show in football kicks off, i.e. the 2006 World Cup.. no stars in this movie apart from Patrick Stewart but it bodes p well.. v similar to World's Fastest Indian if not as good but it does give ya a glimpse of the perceptions of football in those days when England still considered themselves to be the masters of the game they invented..
in fact, the original result hardly made headlines back in England.. the English just didn't care about the World Cup until 1962, the last tournament before they would host it.. to the English, the World Cup was a joke as they still thought themselves to be the undisputed World Champions of the world..
of course, history tells us that England has only won the World Cup once when they were hosts in 1966 with a team as talented but more adept to the changes in world football than the one which lost to the USA in 1950.. as for the USA, they only made the World Cup again in 1990 before they hosted the tournament in 1994..
in the movie there is no mention about how the Americans had to qualify for the World Cup beating the likes of Guatemala and Mexico, nor about how they had to beat Spain to progress to the second round of the tournament.. but i guess the one result that everyone remembers is that game against England in beautiful Belo Horizonte and how they beat the team that called themselves the World Champions before a ball had been kicked.
hopefully in a couple of years time, they might make a movie about another shock win by the Americans at a World Cup tournament 52 years later, when they beat a Portugal team full of stars 3-2..
one of the best films i've seen in ages
got it out on DVD.. had a feeling was onto a gem.. and i was right.. Crash turned out to be one of the best films i've seen in ages... the sequence of events just ebbed and flowed to provide enough twists to make you keep watching..
it's one of those films where you have to pay very close attention otherwise you just lose the whole plot.. Crash also shows that strong endings needn't require the main character to commit suicide, etc. the way the stories of the characters concluded may seem idealistic, happy-ever-after but was probably appropriate considering the tension that was raised right from the start of Crash..
Crash allows people to confront and overcome the racist and anger that we keep inside us and protect to keep face.. even Ryan Phillipe, who seems to be an impartial, open person, shows he is human after all, and in some way his knee-jerk shooting of the African hitch-hiker reveals a racist part of him.. what Crash does put out is that there are far more challenging and miserable things in life to worry about than the colour of our skin or our accents..
the most memorable scene was when the Iraqi shopkeeper - and prob most of us - thinks he killed the locksmith's daughter, and the mother breaks down, but it turns out there was no ammo in the gun and the girl's fine.. later the Iraqi shopkeeper tells his daughter he was protected by an angel..
while most will probably turn to more relaxing films - certainly Crash isn't one of them - Crash is one of those films, like Passion of the Christ, where you must see it once and be changed.. i think it's probably a bit more tolerable than Hotel Rwanda or Munich..
one of the surprises of 2005
when i first borrowed the DVD, i thought "hmm, chic flick" and i only borrowed this movie because there was nothing else on the shelf really worth watching and i thought rather watch a chic flick which everyone raved about than another average thriller or miserable attempt at the Marvel comic empire..
i still think it is a chic flick, but it turned out to be far better than i thought.. in fact i've kinda fallen for the movie, which for a guy may be a bit "un-male".. the acting from the sisterhood - plus Jenna Boyd who i reckon is as good as Dakota Fanning - and storyline was superb from start to finish.. the characters were wonderfully thought of.. i'm sure this movie was based on a book, esp with that sort of title.. even so, it's an excellent adaptation of the book..
it's p hard to choose my favourite girl, although Libby takes it out coz her character was the most interesting and wittiest.. but it's just too close.. u just have to love all of them regardless of their flaws because they're all quite bright and unique in different ways.. it's such a human movie, which is why it's so great.. i can say though that from this movie, i've kinda got a big crush now on Blake Lively who played Bridget because she's so beautiful..
i'm tempted to buy the DVD when it's much more affordable in the future now.. never said that before about a "chic flick"
In My Father's Den (2004)
one of the best ever
and i'm not saying this because i'm a Kiwi.. any person who appreciates movies will love and rate this movie.. it has one of the best story lines ever, and the cast is world class.. this story could have taken place anywhere, but as it turned out, rural Central Otago was chosen for filming, and this movie features superb panoramas of the one of the most beautiful places in the world..
In My Father's Den seems to lead the audience in one direction in that for most of the film, Emily Barclay's character seems to be Matthew Macfayden's love-child, but after dramatic turns of events and some clever use of flashbacks integrated within the movie sequence, this seems not the case and as it turns out there is a far darker secret within the family.. ultimately in the end, the past comes back to change the future..
if u are ever in NZ you must watch this along with Whale Rider..