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24 reviews in total 
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27 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
From charming ladies to self-centered harridans, 27 May 2008

When I first watch this series, the impression I got was that the characters were charming and funny, Lorelai and Rory in particular were witty and intelligent conversationalist albeit a bit too talkative. After watching it for some time, however, my opinion changed.

The main characters slowly revealed themselves to be self-centered self-obsessed narcissists, who treated tiny wounds to their pride as the worst insults in their existence. For example, Rory wouldn't speak to her mother for months when Lorelai didn't consult her on her impulsive marriage, while Lorelai dumped Luke for simply wanting a little time to adjust to his new life circumstances. These people are shallow, see themselves as the center of the universe where everyone else should behave exactly according to how their own rigid rules, and if they don't, they will hold grudges against them for an eternity. They don't want to see other people's problems and treat the smallest slight as the gravest offence. Most of the characters appear to lack the ability to behave in a grown-up way. They think they should do whatever that they wanted and everyone else be damned.

The series is character-based, so when the main characters became so unlikeable the show also became impossible to watch. I still have the rest of the series, but I doubt if I will ever finish watching them. I will also hold anyone who think highly of the show and its awful characters with the greatest suspicion - they must just as horrid as Lorelai et al.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Hagiography of a socialist saint, 26 December 2007

I read many good reviews of this film by film critics, a film described as non-political, merely a look at a young man's life and journey before he became a revolutionary. I was intrigued, and interested. But after seeing the film, I can only say that those rave reviews are misleading to say the least. It is a dull, third rate film, a political hagiography of how a young man became a socialist saint.

As befit of any hagiographic treatment of any sainted figure, you have Che empathising with the poor and exploited, giving money to the needy, and even him as the sainted one touching the lepers. And there is of course the obligatory heroic swim across a treacherous river, an essential element of a hagiography in modern times (e.g. Mao Tze-Tung swimming across the Yangtze, Saddam Hussein across the Tigris, etc.). I'd almost expect a shot of him with a halo round his head at the end. It is cringe-worthy (e.g. the scene of the people bringing him food after the nuns refused to give him any, stiltedly holding out food as if giving offering to a god), and embarrassing how people with any brain would still buy this kind of fairy tale nonsense nowadays. But apparently they still do, as evident from the rave reviews, and the major film awards it garnered.

There is very little in the film that would mark the film as one that's worthy of the great praise - the acting is average or below par, the scenes are not evocative of any particular time and place (which is odd considering the number of locations the film used), and nothing stands out as being particularly good. It's just a film for the gullible amongst the "educated" class, a hagiography of a socialist saint for those who should really know better than to lap up nonsense such as this like credulous peasants.

The Birds (1963)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Absurd film that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, 12 November 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Birds is one of the films that is considered to be a classic, its technique and direction in creating tension, menace and horror are often studied and mimicked. It tells a story of a town that was attacked and besieged by birds that turned, for uncertain reason, deranged and vicious. It exploited the idea of something that ordinarily appears harmless but which suddenly became violent and deadly.

There is no doubt that the director had used his considerable talent to create an eerie atmosphere, and applied various technique to create the suspense and terror that makes the viewers fearful and tense. However, there is nothing much beyond that. When examined critically, looking at the why and how, the film falls apart. Why do the birds attacked? Can they really be so powerful, even threatening to peck through doors? How come the people are doing so little to counter the menace? Are the people there really so clueless as to how to kill birds, even if there are lots of them?

A moment that illustrates the absurdity of this film is when the Melanie went to the loft and suddenly found herself faced with hundreds of birds that attacked her. Anyone with any sense would not even go into the room when they see a big hole in the roof, or would just turn and run out of the room, but no, she went in and then just stood here, waving her hands around and fumbling for the door knobs behind her (doesn't she know how to turn around? It's easier to see the door knob and stop the birds from attacking your face that way you know!). The way it was done was purely for creating the horror, damn any sense of logic of how any normal person would have behaved in such situation.

It is a lazy piece plot wise, showing a director more interested in creating tension and suspense, jettisoning completely any sense of coherence and logic, or indeed any interest in the outcome of the film. It perhaps has too much of an influence on other films, as we have now seen so many films of the horror genre that are purely interested in the creating fear, terror and suspense, with people behaving not like any real person would and getting into stupid and terrifying situations. The technique for creating fear is everything, and in the process, the people in the story are completely lost, no longer individuals who thinks and acts, just puppets that don't think but merely react, and in an absurd fashion.

7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
"Look at us. Look at what they make you give.", 10 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Bourne Ultimatum concludes the trilogy that started with Bourne Identity in which a man (Jason, the eponymous Bourne), shot and left for dead in the sea, found himself unable to remember who he was, and so started a quest to find and recover his lost identity, as well as to discover his own past and attempt to remedy the wrong done. Thus began a thrilling series which featured relentless action and frenetic chase scenes that covered three continents and which, once started, never let go of you as a viewer.

The Bournd Ultimatum is to my mind the best of three, it features some of the best action sequences seen, for example, the tight, well-paced, and supremely well-done scene at the Waterloo station. It brings a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy that leaves you exalted, but still somewhat saddened at the journey he had to undertake, his discovery and the cost to him. If I want to nit-pick, I'd say that the Tangier chase and fight scenes went on just a little too long, and the relationship between Nicky and Jason was never fully explained. The Bourne Supremacy is I think the weakest of the three, primarily because of the sheer illogicality of the plot - if Abbott (Brian Cox) had a secret so grave that he would kill his own man and himself over it, then surely he would have killed Jason Bourne when he have the chance to do so in the first film. It does, however, feature the best car chase sequence (the Moscow one) I have ever seen. Many people have complained about the shaky camera technique, but apart from a couple of moments which I found irritating in Bourne Supremacy, it had worked pretty well in general, especially in the Waterloo scene as it heightened the confusion, agitation and tension of the moment.

If we want to see the point of the film, it is what Jason Bourne said to the Paz who asked him why Bourne didn't shoot him when he can - "Look at us. Look at what they make you give.", echoing the same words said by the dying Professor in Bourne Identity (a rather nice link back to the first film). He was asking Paz to reflect on what he has given (his whole life, his own judgement, and above all, his humanity) for the cause he has undertaken, the unquestioned surrender of his self to a higher power to be used as it so wished, and implicit in it a question if this is the right thing to do. Bourne himself discovered the limits of how far he can sacrifice his humanity when, at the assassination attempt of Wombosi, he was faced with having to kill the children (since there must be no survivors who can bear witness to Wombosi's killing). This, he decided, he would not give, and is what ultimately saved him as a person even if his hesitation nearly cost him his life.

Some may read the film as a very specific (and I think, very parochial) attack on the CIA, however, I would see this as of more general relevance to someone in the service of any organisation (perhaps a governmental or secret service one on one side, or a terrorist organisation on the other) that demands certain sacrifice of their humanity for what they do. Read the terrible events in the news that occurred regularly all over the world (perhaps another bombing in Iraq, or Burmese soldiers killing monks) and wondered perhaps if the ones who perpetrated the dreadful deeds at the behest of their organisation would just reflect on this - "Look at what they make you give"?

The film also questions whether any organisation, given untrammelled power, would exercise their power in a responsible way. And if you are prepared to give your all to that organisation, would your trust be abused?

But let's not get too carried away with philosophising. This film is, ultimately, an action-packed entertaining film, and as such, it is a great success. It is a fitting end to the Bourne stories, but, do I want another one? Well, perhaps yes. There is the risk any new film may ruin what is a near-perfect series, but I think these three will stand on their own as a discrete trilogy, and anything else will be a bonus.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Pretty pretty nothingness, 27 April 2007

Zhang Yimou is probably the favourite director of the Chinese government now after his paean to patriotism and exhortation to self-sacrifice for the Chinese state in his film Hero, thus he gets to direct the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing, and certainly no expense is spared for his film Curse of the Golden Flower (an odd and incorrect translation of the title), another sumptuous and opulent production that we have come to expect from him.

Visually the film is gorgeous, full of vibrant colours and stunning set pieces, but unfortunately, his taste seems to have degenerated somewhat since Hero and House of Flying Daggers, and now it veers dangerously towards kitsch, and perhaps even landing squarely into kitschdom. The set is amazingly gaudy and garish, stuffed full of the worse excesses of the kind of things you might find in a Chinese souvenir shop. The interior design of the palace with its colourful plastic dangly bits is almost laughable, and the overall tone is as far away from Tang aesthetics as it can possibly be. Some people here complained about the costume the women in the film wear and the semi-exposed breasts, but in fact it is one of the few things that the film got close to right - that was the style of dress worn by Tang womenfolk as depicted by the famous Tang dynasty artist Zhou Fang, whose work no doubt inspired the costume designer (The actual dress would however be more likely to be looser fitting than the tight-corset type imagined by the costume designer).

The plot of the film, as noted by many people here, are closer that of a soap opera, with fervid passion, illicit affairs, and tortuous scandalous ridiculous family relationship. One may argue that you can find this kind of stuff in the finest literature, except that those works are saved by magnificent prose and beautiful writing. Here in this film the dialogues are clunky and the plot poorly sketched. The worse sin with this film, however, is that it is deadly boring, especially in the first half where I almost gave up watching. There is nothing in it that makes you interested in or care about the main characters. There is however a battle scene in the second half which is actually quite thrilling, and it is what saved it from getting a score of 1/10 from me.

It is, in essence, just a family melodrama albeit in an imperial setting. And if you want to watch family melodrama, try Peyton Place instead, it'll be more rewarding.

8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Has great potential to be a marvelous film, but fails, 8 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Too many films have the potential to be a truly great film, but just somehow fail to achieve the greatness, becoming instead something that just avoid being thoroughly mediocre. This film is a good example of this kind of films.

The film is stylish, depicts a violent and seedy world with simmering ethnic tension well. The climactic New Year Eve scene is excellent, a a scene that might be beautiful and joyous which then erupts into violence and a bloody riot. But somehow the whole film doesn't gel. There are many intriguing ideas simmering underneath but that aren't exploited fully or just felt misdirected, and the plot lacks a tightness in logic or coherence. The film is also excessively long - it meanders a little too much, some scenes are too long (and some unpleasantly so, like the murder of Iris), and a full 30 minutes can probably be trimmed and the film might be better for it.

A big problem is that Ralph Fiennes is unconvincing as an ex-cop turned peddler of dubious ware. He doesn't have that look of toughness, slightly seedy world-weariness or street-cred required for the role, instead looking like an Englishman somewhat lost in LA. When the lead actor doesn't convince, the rest of the film tends to fall a bit flat, and accentuates all the other problems one sees in the film.

Verdict - could do better.

Wild Reeds (1994)
3 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Another load of French tripe, 14 August 2006

Well, actually, I exaggerate, it isn't really too bad, but I just feel obliged to balance off the hyperventilating praises that this film got from so many reviewers.

This is a just so-so film that tells the lives and sexual awakenings of four teenagers in a school. The story itself is good, plainly told, and parts of it are well-done, and evocative of the feel at a particular time in history as well as of the confusion that teenagers can feel grappling with their sexuality and love lives.

However, there are a number of problems. The acting of the main characters is really rather wooden (although the girl who played Maïté is an exception) - whether they are telling going through a personal crisis or telling an affecting story, there is little change in their expressions. The dialogue is sometimes verging on the silly - do young French people really constantly go round declaiming their thoughts and views in the way they do in this film? If you put some of the dialogue in the mouths of American teenagers and you will see how stupid and pretentious they are, but many reviewers seem to think that since it is French, it must be deep and profound rather than ridiculous.

It is a shame that so many lose they critical faculty when judging non-American films. One reviewer claimed that it put 99% of American films to shame, when really, if truth must be told, the vast majority of foreign films are really quite poor, and this one is not an exceptional one. Some, perhaps the great majority, of the astonishing good and imaginative films in recent times comes out of America, while those from elsewhere often get stuck in retreading old stuff and mire in mediocrity. The awarding of the Palme D'Or this year to Ken Loach's utterly second-rate The Wind That Shakes the Barley is perhaps the ultimate example of this kind of blindness.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The unexpected (and untold) tale of redemption, 31 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There was a point in this film when I started to despair at the parade of the dregs of humanity on display in the film, and by this I don't mean the ones involved in the murder. They are the incompetent cop, the inept detectives who are oblivious to truth or bare facts staring at them, the lying witnesses, the crooked psychiatrist who gave dishonest testimony and a self-deceiving and perverted judiciary uninterested in truth and hell-bent on executing people.

But something happened which redeemed the whole sordid affair, and it came from an unexpected source, the apparently psychotic young man David Harris who seemed to kill with no remorse. He declared Randall Adams innocent at the end, and implied his own guilt. He later testified (not in the film) in court that he did killed the cop and set Randalll Adams free. The judiciary is extremely reluctant in admitting their own mistakes - watch another documentary "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills", read about its aftermath and see how blatant the judiciary can be in ignoring its obvious mistakes. Without David Harris admission Randall Adams may very well still have stayed in prison.

David Harris appeared in this film to be a young man who was traumatised, through no fault of his own, by the death of his brother and the subsequent punishment by rejection by his father. It perhaps does explain his apparent callous response to death, and says something about the damage that can be done to children by their parents by what they did. Understanding this, or the confession by David Harris of his own crimes, doesn't mitigated against the murders committed by David Harris. But he did a good thing at the end, a redeeming act in a world sinking in a morass of corruption and lies.

Someone more cynical might say that he was already in death row for another murder, admitting this murder is of no great consequence, and it may just be an attempt to appear a better man than he actually is, or that it is actually the cleverness of Errol Morris that coaxed and elicited Harris's confession. Perhaps, perhaps not. From the film he appeared to me to be intelligent and surprisingly appealing, far less calculating and readier to admit his guilt once confronted with the truth than others in the film. Compare him to the people who directly or indirectly condemned innocent people to death (or in other words, committing murder through the judicial process) - for example, the "Dr Death", who to his death refused to admit any wrong-doing, and his funeral was attended by many of the prosecutors who found his testimony useful in sending people, innocent or otherwise, to their death. These people are happy to execute innocent people, but refuse to admit they are wrong when confronted with the evidence. They are perhaps beyond redemption, and these are the people we place our trusted on to do the right thing and make the society a safer place. I have no moral or ethical objection to death penalty, but this film must make anyone wonder if the right people are in charge of making decision of life and death, or that given people on show here, if it is ever possible for find these right people.

David Harris was executed in 30 June 2004.

Hellbent (2004)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Are gay people stupid?, 1 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is customary that in a slasher film like this, the victims should behave like idiots, heading towards danger when every senses tell them that they should run away. This film, however, has simply surpassed all previous standards in victim stupidity.

A murderer is on the loose cutting people's head off, a young man (who should warn people about it) see a stranger with a sickle at the murder site, thinks nothing of it, instead parades his and his friends' asses at the murderer. Asking for it, huh?

One murder after another, one at a crowded dance floor (the victim didn't even seem to notice initially he's been attacked as it looked like the killer cut off his dick first), and no one screamed. Gays are that stoned and stupid to notice someone's head has been cut off?

So Eddie - your friends died, someone just chased after trying to kill you, you still haven't a clue that you friends died, or worried as to what happened to your friends (didn't tweak that the guy who attacked you is the same one you bared you backside to, so perhaps you might want to warn your friends?), or that you are might be still in danger?

We even has a killer who is stupid - why not kill Jake when he is lying there injured instead of going after Eddie who didn't seem to care if the killer is dead or not and just leaves Jake conveniently with the killer?

I don't think I have ever got so angry after watching a film. Did someone said it's an AIDS allegory? If it is, from the way the film goes, someone unkind might deduce that gays deserve to die of AIDS because they are just so stupid and degenerate. Perhaps that is indeed the viewpoint of the director, we are shown that all gays are interested in is getting laid, and one of them was so desperate for sex he was practically begging to be killed (he didn't know he was going to be killed, but does it matter to someone so stupid losing his head since he didn't have a brain to start with?). And we have gays people here praising this film, so little expectation they have of gay films and so low an opinion they have of themselves.

15 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Dim-witted pseudo-intellectual tosh for poseurs, 6 June 2006

This film is about Albert, an environmentalist with existential issues, who seeks out Bernard and Vivian, a pair of existential detectives to help solve his problem. Along the way we meet Brad, a rising sales executive, Tommy, a fireman who hates petroleum use, and Caterine, a nihilist of some sort.

There isn't much you can say about the plot because the film is fundamentally absurd (not absurdist) in nature, so it is pointless to mention things like logic and coherence. Despite its surface appearance of tackling deep philosophical subjects, there is nothing in it that can be described as sophisticated - problem are solved and situations resolved in manners as easy as what you might find in a children's TV show. The film can best be described as a kind of homily on environmentalism, and one that preaches about how things are inter-connected and some made-up cosmic truth.

I found it hard to see who the intended target audience is for this film. The philosophy in it is trite and muddled, but which will bamboozle those who don't know any and alienate those who aren't interested. Any discussion on politics or economy is trivial or misinformed in the extreme - for example, in the dinner scene, as a riposte to family who mentioned saving the Sudanese, Tommy said that "How did Sudan happened, could it be related to some stupid dictatorships we supported for some reasons?", a comment that is as astounding in its ignorance of the subject matter as its blatant pandering to a dim partisan crowd.

And it isn't even funny. It wants to be zany like the Monty Python, but instead it falls flat on its face. In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, when it chooses to target, say, the Church, it does it with great style and a sense of fun. But in Huckabees, all you get is just a series of turgid lectures on the evils of consumerism, corporate greed and whatnot.

I said that it was hard to see who its target audience could be, but that's before I read some of the gushing comments here in IMDb. It's amazing what some people can get out of it, and see how they threw in a reference or two to people like Derrida (for those who suffer pangs of anxiety or sense of intellectual inferiority for not knowing who he is, don't worry, he's just a French fraudster you'd be better off not knowing about). It's clear that this film is for the smug poseurs with pretensions to intellectualism. Funnily enough, I watched this film just after I saw The Squid And The Whale (a film worth watching) which has characters in it who are exactly like the target audience of this film, one of them is even named Bernard. Coincidence, huh?

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