I guess I was put off by the protagonist, likable at start but his sour face just went on for too long and became frustrating. And by the third act he kind of came around, but I lost interest by then. The supporting characters were more engaging and kept me in there.
Still a small film with wonderful ideas that came alive in the last stanza that should have been the tone for the whole film from the beginning.
Most importantly is the story structure which was a fabulous total mess. It was structured in three parts. First part dealt with a series of shoot-ups and car chasers of the comic book type as Hit-man Number 3 attempts to protect a mysterious person. Once the violence was established and dealt with, we move onto the next step - SEX. The second part was all about our hit-man's sex fetish and mistreatment of women. Very revealing for a 1967 movie, once again showing that the Japanese cinema was way ahead of the Westerners. The third part was what interest me the most, and that was the cat and mouse game between Hit-man No 3 and 1. A very twisted and comic section that had my attention right to the very ending.
Director Suzuki delivered a fast paced modern Samurai tale of honor and heroism amongst hit men and lowlife's. So strap yourself in for some epic Japanese masochist action!
What I did admire about the film is the use of black and white cinematography and the strong visuals it conveyed in minimal locations. There are moments of visual brilliance and the use of sound. The directors show great communications skills in the technical department, but as a whole lack a strong convincing story structure (which at times puzzled the hell out of me, which I kind of like due to the fact that it almost reminded me of David Lynch).
I found myself questioning a lot of aspects during the movie which was distracting. Most of those questions were somewhat answered by the end. By that stage I wasn't totally convinced and the characters had no empathy for the movie as a whole to succeed in gaining my attention.
The two main protagonists, the teacher and the silent student, were well crafted characters that held you in there until the story took an interesting turn for that second half. More importantly was the performances by the actors that made these characters shine. The child actress, Wannasa Wintawong, took the limelight, along with her companion, Tanapol Kamkunkam, who played the feral boy, protector of the forest. The two played off each other so well that it gave the film a sense of neorealism.
The highlight was the character of the new male teacher in a backward school town. Preecha, played brilliantly by Asanee Suwan, walked away from being a Monk so he could teach the children how to face the World. The dilemmas he faced were conflicting with his morals, and those issues were dealt with intelligibly.
Director, Spurrier, seemed to be a one man band crew as he also photographed, edited, wrote the screenplay and even scored the music. He did a fine job in all those departments, and delivered a worthwhile film that dealt with various themes from bullying, school politics, belonging, spiritual being and it even touched on religion. Themes relevant anywhere in the World, and captured perfectly by Spurrier.
With the Gigi Gorgeous doco, she has managed to get all this amazing footage that Gig herself had shot. Kopple then managed to inter-cut the intimate footage with very emotional interviews from Gigi's family to make it so involving and interesting. What really stood out for me was the phenomenal effects of fame via YouTube and most importantly, the unconditional love of a conservative father, specially during Gigi's gender transition period.
A well thought out and touching documentary about acceptance and being true to yourself, all for the general publics observational pleasure. We live in a time where revealing our intimate selves through forms of social media, and then receiving support in return from the public, can help us get through the hardships of life.
Overall the film is an insightful look into the Iranian way of life and the struggles of those with health issues, as well as those harshly done by the unjust laws. It is a morale crusade without being too loud, underplayed like a perfect drama, revealing the stories with patience and real emotion.
The director and crew have crafted a well thought out drama that keeps you enthralled. But it is the performances that draws you in. At times I felt like I was an observer of some reality based documentary. The actors did a masterful job, making this film worth every minute of your time.
The first half plays like a whimsical love story with some integrity. Maybe this section goes that little bit too long, slightly repetitive but still enjoyable enough. It's until the hidden secret is revealed that the story comes alive, taking it onto another level. After a while the filmmaker somehow gets a little lost, not being clear in the direction of the protagonist who seems to bumble his way through his indecisive behavior. But the final scene is brilliant and brings the film back on course.
The two leads are brilliant, you can watch them all night and not get tired of their beauty.The technical aspect holds it together, with the continuity of cinematography sometimes slightly askew and that's maybe because of the various hands that shot it. Still this is an interesting piece of low budget independent work from a country full of many surprises.
First time feature director, Jayapal, takes us on the streets of Kolkata, visiting the music street scene which is an eye opener, as well as the backstreet brothels and other avenues rarely visited by Bollywood. But the most important insight Jayapal offers is that of the characters who are swamped by the chaotic scene of Kolkata. Revelations focuses on the inhabitants of an apartment block, and how their life's intersect and collide to create an interesting drama.
The tone and pace is deliberately slow, but yet effective. It allows the viewer to observe with great fascination, drawing them into the characters and the surprising revelations they have in store. It is a drama well worth sitting through, with its humanistic characters of honesty.
India has been going through some amazing changes, creating neo-realism works as well as popular genres but without the Bollywood. The previous night I viewed the brilliant, MASAAN, a fascinating drama. After that I became interested in current Indian cinema and came across this little gem where first time director, Pulkit, has created an intense and abstract thriller.
Performances are top notch, proving that this country can do one better than Hollywood. The technical aspect is spot-on and effective, with the cinematography capturing the mood perfectly. The dramatic and chilling music is wonderfully over the top, working wonders with your nerves. And the intense story-line has elements of abstract that leave you guessing, even till the very unanswered end.
If you peel away all the zany technical aspects of the movie and look at the bare bones, you are left with the hammy performances which was perfect for this slasher. On top of that was the very thin storyline, about a woman who loses her way in the Aussie bush and comes across this mad man who plays a game of cat and mouse with her. Nothing creative in the telling of this story, but still good ole trashy slasher fun.
The highlight for me was those freaky cuts to naked bodies and sacrificial sex scenes, which almost made it very close to being an experimental slasher film. Maybe if it was recut to ten minutes, then this could have been a great experimental short film of the bizarre kind!
It's not the sudden act of the killing that shocked me, but the way in which the relationship sustained that act to survive. If made by other mindless filmmakers, there would have been loud confrontations, the law would have been involved, as well as the psychiatrists. But we were in the capable hands of Klaus, the writer and director, who handled this horrendous situation with maturity, focusing more on the strength of the relationship.
I will admit that after the first thirty minutes it was getting rather tedious. How many shots of the joyous cat can you have? And the utter love in the human relationship had me envious! It wasn't until the incident that it all came to life. By then I was angry because the director had masterfully drawn me to empathize with the cat (and I'm not much of a cat lover). How could he have done that to the poor defenseless cat? I was yelling at the screen, telling the lover to leave the relationship, and was completely stupefied by his decision not to, and that's why I kept watching, engrossed in the sudden change in this once loving relationship. What made it work was the top-notch performances from the leads, including the cat that we fell in love with.
As for cat lovers, maybe not for you, but if you do watch it, please do so with an open mind because it is not about the killing of a creature, but how a strong relationship sustains such an incident and how the human condition enables us to forgive no matter what.
Well, it was better than that. This Bir-Bi-Glia comedian is a gem to be treasured. His cheeky grin and wry sense of humour had me hooked from the word go. Most importantly, is the timing, how he spreads his stories around and they all interconnect in a beautiful subtle way. He doesn't rush, but strolls through his tales of life's ups and downs, but mostly his unfortunate events that he turns to comedy gold. Better still, he involves his audience and utilizes them perfectly into his act.
By the end, I knew this Mike Birbiglia. I knew where he has been, and I now know where he will be going (definitely not on a David O. Russell film set).
So far this series is more than about fighting mums and a "who-done-it". What is so prevalent in the first episode is the underlying themes of parenthood, marital relationships and school-mom politics. I'm sure the writers will have more juice to add as the series progresses.
For now, it's the mystery that has got me hooked. And to heighten my viewing pleasure, it is the development of the characters and the conflicts surrounding them, and also within, that makes me want to watch it that little bit longer, hopefully right to the very end of the series that is slowly peeling away the hypocrisy and the nastiness of an affluent suburb/town!
It sometimes takes an outsider to see what is so wrong with a country, as Ted Kotcheff did with Wake In Fright, Louis Malle with Alamo Bay and Wim Wenders with almost everything he made in America. But Australia has its very own soul searching local filmmaker in Ivan Sen, who peels away those layers a bit at a time, with every layer revealing the true ugliness of this country.
The plus side was the technical aspect, with the cinematography being the added bonus, perfectly capturing the mood in the isolated remote locations. Once again that was superbly handled by the director himself, who also had a hand in the music.
If you are searching for a fast paced action thriller, than keep away from this movie. But if you desire to be challenged and mentally stimulated without having topics shoved down your throat, than seek this movie out, and enjoy what it has to offer.
What got to me was the fact that the first 45 minutes was abysmal in the technical side. And I'm talking cinematography and the coverage of the opera. I couldn't believe that the great Sven Nykvist had shot this. His other works are astounding, even more so on the Bergman films. Then towards the last ten minutes before the intermission, the whole look changed dramatically. It became moody, dark, with beautiful framing compositions that had Sven Nykvist's trademark, as well as Brgman's. This lasted for the remainder of the film, with maybe a scene or two that slipped back into the flat lighting and bland framing (maybe this scenes were shot out of sequence before Sven Nykvist came on).
Now, I'm not sure that this was done purposely. Maybe the first part was meant to look theatrical with some light heartiness and amusement. Then it dawned on me that since this being a television production, Bergman was forced to use television technicians. Seeing that he wasn't getting the result he wanted, he must have put up a stink and got Sven Nykvist on-board to fix the mess up. Because there is no way that Sven Nykvist would have photographed that first 45 minute debacle.
Apart from that irritating distraction, it was rather an enjoyable romp, made more interesting with Sven Nykvist's imagery compositions and lighting that came to the rescue.
What works to the directors advantage is the cinema technology of today that enables him to tell his visual story at no big cost. How he can push those boundaries to great effect, utilizing the creative use of sound, the hypnotic cinematography, the brilliant music, and performances that were well restrained.
The highlight is the non-linear story line, that jumps from various stories, at different times, eventually connecting them together for a stunning finale. And the meaning of it all? Leave that up to your own interpretation, and that is the pure enjoyment of it all.
But still I enjoyed it!
Great to see Aussie suburban life from the seventies, and the operation of a racing horse stable. And I'm glad they used actual jockeys, race callers and other local Melbourne horse racing identities of that era, because it gave it an authentic feel to it, something I wished they had done for the whole film. If only they created a kind of neorealism film of the horse racing industry! Instead they went for the TV soapie style that delivered pure campy elements to a predictable story.
The highlight was Mark Holden's surprising performance, showing that he had some natural talent. And the other was the unintentional hysterical scenes of Mrs. G, who really made a real meal of caricaturing an Italian mamma.
Still worth a watch for the horsey lover, who will notice that this film is the pioneering source of the horse whispering method... Only kidding! But it almost grasped the concept of natural horsemanship.
Yeah, I know, another schmaltzy piece about life after death and the whole damn thing. But this one really downplays it. The tone and speed of this movie will not elate the majority, but then again, being amongst the majority can sometimes be bland and plain narrow-minded.
Yelchin is perfectly cast, toning it down a notch for his melancholy character. Zooey is literally angelic, and Langella adds another mystery level. Even the supporting cast played into the wry tone of this neat little production.
Director, Derek Cianfrance, captured the emotional turmoil perfectly, thanks to the Aussie cinematography of Adam Arkapaw. They (along with the editor) had a great sense of when to give us wide shots of the sometimes picturesque desolated location, and when to go close-up on the pain and torment of our heroes. Added to the perfect mix was the great sense of timing with the music that was hauntingly beautiful. All this gave us an artful version of a Mills & Boon book, but with much more intelligence as it dealt with morals and painful dilemmas.
This could have been a messy love soap opera, but thank goodness it was handled with restraint in the direction, acting and the dialogue. Fassbender and Vikander made it even more compelling with their performances because you believed in their love and their journey. Sure, the campiness was there but dealt with esteem and aplomb.
This insightful and entertaining documentary chronicles the art of movie actor dubbing. It begins with an introduction to various voice actors from around the world who supply George Clooney's voice. At first glance, this documentary seems lightweight, with a few interesting aspects on the art form of voice dubbing. It also goes into the history and the politics, and other interesting aspects. Ultimately it falls back into its sweetness of the characters, who were well chosen for this documentary.
There were times when I wished they would have stayed on a few of the topics that little bit longer, but seem to brush over it. Like the German voice actor who took on the Hollywood studio to court and then was blacklisted, and the changing of the Clooney voice in Germany, which rustled a few feathers.
Overall the documentary makers allowed us to create a connection with the voice actors through their vulnerability, and their opinions on being underpaid and unnoticed as industry entertainers. These situations add more interest to a topic which is ultimately entertaining, but still interesting enough.
I was proved wrong because after the first thirty minutes I wasn't sure if this was a Mel Gibson film when I was placed into a comfort zone, with its melodrama set in a small Virginia town during the Forties, a schmaltzy romance, and the cliché violent drunken father who survived a brutal war. The performances were maybe a little let down by the clumsy dialogue, but all directed safely with a natural sense of storytelling.
By the 2nd act, I was put on high alert in the military training with our protagonist, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield who I at first felt was wrongly cast, but he really came through in the end). It was here when the true purpose of the story began to evolve, that of Doss' moral and internal conflict with using a gun! What he had to endure and stand-up for was a courage I greatly admired. It was also in this phase of the film that the dialogue and characters began to shine. Maybe it was the introduction of Vince Vaughn's character. We all know how Vaughn is notorious in ad-libbing, and it seemed to help because the other actors bounced off it well.
Now the story had me in their pocket because by the 3rd act I was with our protagonist and his platoon when they got to the battlefield graveyard of Hacksaw Ridge. You thought the horrific situation in WE WERE SOLDIERS was brutal, well this was captured so vividly that you felt you were there. It was almost on par with the brilliance of GAME OF THRONES; BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS.
Now I felt I was in a Mel Gibson film. As with Braveheart, the battle scenes in Hacksaw Ridge didn't hold back. Maybe a notch better because of today's CGI (and I didn't even notice the effects!). The scenes were unflinching, haunting and in your face. Possibly showing you the true horror of war. Definitely not for the squeamish.
The religious aspect of the film was relevant to the story, so as a non-believer I thought it was an integral part of the protagonist and had to be told, so it didn't bother me as much.
Overall the technical aspect of the film was brilliant, but then again I didn't really notice it because I was too distracted by the story and the characters, and when that occurs, I know the film has succeeded.
On the surface it's all about Good verses Evil, and the perception of what is good and what is evil. That is the comic book analysis in a nutshell. Now, in my little demented world of analysis, this deliciously dark film is about the current state of our crazy political world in total chaos. As I see it, Batman and Superman are symbols of political and religious factions. So here it goes---
Batman is politically to the Right. A rich boy who is subconsciously out to revenge his parents death through his battle with crime. He is angry, as the Right tend to be because of all this political correctness gone mad and other social issues that has given rise to dangerous deluded leaders of the wrong kind. (Hang in there, this rant is going somewhere!) Superman is a Lefty. Raised on a farm, but he is not from this planet (a refugee?), who is a do-gooder, mostly saving people of all race and persuasion. Batman does not like Superman, because Superman cannot be trusted after what he did in his last bloody battle (taking out thousands of innocent civilians in friendly fire). And Superman is not from this world, therefore this refugee cannot be trusted by the Right.
Between them is Lex Luther, a ruthless wealthy megalomaniac, out to get rid of the superheroes so as to control the world. So how does he do it? Get them to turn on each other. He wants to be more powerful than they are, and it irks him that these superheroes are seen as Gods (a very valid point made by my son). Like Lex said, "If man won't kill God, the Devil will do it!" Lex is the Devil, ready to take out the Godly superheroes. The wealth and control of his evil corporation gives him the power to achieve that by manipulating the superheroes. But who does Lex Luther represent (besides the Devil)? At first I thought he was a symbol of the Government. But democratic governments are not wealthy enough to achieve anything alone (not unless you are a very ruthless corrupt government that suppresses its own people). Then I saw him as the Media Empire, who manipulate both political factions for their own financial gain. And then it eventually dawned on me that Lex Luther is, Rupert Murdoch! (Have I lost you yet?)
Now how the hell did I come to this conclusion? The opening titles display the corporate logo from Warner Brothers. Now Rupert wanted to buy some of Warner's shares, but the board knew of his craziness and cried, "NO WAY, JOSE'!" And Warner Brothers allows their filmmakers to express their own opinion, and maybe are happy for them to take a swipe at the old Grinch. Another crazy notion I have is that Lex worked overtime to create a distraction for the superheroes to combat each other, just like Rupert has distracted the population with political keyboard warfare. So while the fools (the Left and the Right) are battling each other, Rupert is at work making billions. And at some lavish library fund raising function, Lex makes a speech about philanthropists and the like, adding that, "Books are knowledge and knowledge is power. The bittersweet pain among men is having knowledge with no power!" And there lies the problem when wanna-be politicians with plenty of money behind them spring up with crazy notions to make the World a better place with dangerous ideas, and fools jump in to give a helping hand. These fools don't have the knowledge, but those that do then don't have the power, and can only standby the muddy ocean banks watching the sinking ships. (The attack on the newspapers publishing fluffy pieces and leaving out the real juicy stories that matter was also a nice little sly attack.)
Thrown into the elements of political pandemonium is the Feminist touch in the guise of Wonder Woman. She was a late entry, but added that extra political punch, ready for the next installment in this series. She helped the male ego driven superheroes take on the ever so powerful Super monster created by Lex. The more you blasted this Monster, the powerful it got, thriving on every explosion thrown its way. Just like Rupert continues to feed misinformation to the monsters, trolls and every other angry mob who want to lap it up to justify their ideology. Lex's supreme evil power and his monster could only be destroyed when the superheroes joined forces. Same case scenario in the world of reality, if both the main political ideologies joined forces they could rid of the powers-that-be who manipulate and destroy society to benefit itself. Then only can a decent conversation be held without misinformation and shouting matches.
I can go on, but I'm sure I've already lost most of my readers after the first few paragraphs (maybe the first sentence). But my actual take on the movie? It's comic book action fluff, and it didn't need to be overlong. But loved the darkness of it, enjoyed the pain the superheroes carried around, and the battle sequences where enthralling enough.
Okay, silly rant over, now back to reality
Director Alex Proyas mostly delves in dark films where "The End Is Nigh". These dark themes were noticeable in Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989), The Crow (1994) and Dark City (1998). They even had it's moments in the Hollywood blockbusters I, Robot (2004) along with The Knowing (2009). With Gods of Egypt, it almost felt like it wasn't an Alex Proyas film. Maybe a bit too spectacular for his style, but he managed to fit moments in where he got to play with his dark-side, mostly evident in the "Afterlife" scenes. In this film, Alex got to create his vision with perfection, thanks to today's technology. Hopefully he'll be able to use that on his next project, maybe something a little darker, a bit more Proyas than Hollywood.
What saved this film from its own corniness is the talent it attracted. Gerard Butler is perfect as Gerard Butler the brute! Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau gets to play around with his Game Of Thrones character, Jamie, by adding a little more manliness to it. The surprise of the lot was the mortal, Bek, played by the Aussie cutie, Brenton Thwaites. He supplied the wit and charm desperately needed in this. Even the Aussie icons, Bryan Brown and Geoffrey Rush came along for the ride. What they both managed to do was play it perfectly straight, in a theatrical way, that suited the style of this film. You noticed the tone of the film changed when Rush was on screen with Butler or Nikolaj. The level went up a notch, and it was momentarily intriguing. (And see if you can spot another Aussie icon, Bruce Spence:)
The true winner of this epic film is the "Gamer". This film has all the elements a Gamer would love. It has dangerous mazes our heroes have to get through, and thrilling combating scenes captured by frantic maneuvering cameras. If the film does well at the box office I'm sure there will be a game following hot on its heels.
I must admit I was surprised how entertaining this film was. Maybe because I saw it on the big screen and was distracted by the incredible CGI and sound design. The story was pleasing enough, it has the Game Of Thrones element where characters you least expected to perish did. There was the Lord Of The Rings journey and a bit of everything else you might have seen if you love your big action adventure films. And not to forget the romantic element which played heavily in our heroe's destination. I think the studio executives got ever audience angle covered.
I love classic movies with rapid machine gun dialogue that worked so brilliantly in Howard Hawks' HIS GIRL Friday (1940), but in this film the machine gun dialogue was just shooting blanks with a bad sense of timing and nothing of interest to say. There were times when it slowed down and the actors seemed more comfortable, enabling the audience to make some connection with the characters. But that never lasted long, and it was a shame, because deep down I'm sure this film had something to say about love, sharing and understanding.
I noticed that this is the director's directorial debut, and they have never made a short film, just jumped straight into the deep end of the sewer. The direction was too theatrical, and lacked any creative flare. And then it seemed it was just thrown together in the edit, with no image grading, and without even a decent sound mix. Maybe this would be perfect for the stage, but a painful cringing experience on the screen.