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Dogma (1999)
5/10
No Sacrilege, Just Boring
14 November 1999
For months I've been hearing that some Catholic League is protesting Kevin Smith's DOGMA for its sacrilegious quality; of course these people have not seen it. What else is new?

The fact remains that it is neither sacrilegious nor anti-Christianity - it is actually Smith's journey towards spiritual enlightenment. It is his justification of religion; he manages to find God in the modern world. And he does this brilliantly. Unfortunately, this is all he does well.

The script was filled with cheesy-one liners that seem to come from a novice's screenplay. Many of the jokes are forced. Then again some of them are absolutely hilarious, but these are few and far between. Moreover, the film is boring. The middle hour and twenty minutes suck. I hated being forced to listen to poorly written discourse about religion and the dumb jokes about what really happened in the Bible.

Plot holes? Yes I'll have some. Maybe it was the editing; I don't know, but people just appeared out of nowhere and stuff happened that wasn't followed up upon. For example, Azrael established a base of operations and then didn't do anything with it. Why?

The acting wasn't fabulous either. Jason Lee was overly dramatic in his role, Chris Rock played himself, and Jason Mewes seemed drastically out of his element. Even Alan Rickman seemed to be struggling.

Again some of it was hilarious, and the message was good. That was it. In a word: BOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooring!!!
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Tokyo Story (1953)
10/10
FANTASTIC
27 October 1999
I need to say this: THIS MOVIE IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! Sure it starts off slowly, but the fact of the matter is the film is a great story of a family and the alienation associated with aging. This is the kind of movie that will make you reflect upon your own family and how you treat them.

I had never seen an Ozu film before, but now I feel as if I must see them all. His use of cinematic space is incredible. He breaks all sorts of conventions with his cinematography such as violating the axis of action. This gives the viewer the sense of a large, open, unrestricted world.

Going with this realism, the characters seem real; not for a moment did I see the people on the screen as actors. They were the family, and you as the viewer feels what they feel. Part of this comes from the use of head-on-shots such that the characters are speaking TO you.

It is a fantastic, moving piece of work and arguably one of the best films ever made.
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Faust (1926)
9/10
Great
25 October 1999
Murnau's Faust is awesome. His use of special effects was great in its day and still holds up pretty well for today's standards. I especially liked Mephisto looming over the village as well as his doubling as he is stabbed.

The lighting is fantastic; each frame can tell its own story. As part of the German Expressionist movement, every emotion, every thought is transferred onto the screen. The agony of Gretchen, the confusion and frustration of Faust, and the sheer evil of Mephisto are always apparent.

The film is just plain great from the classic story through the characterizations and special effects. It's one of the greats.
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The Limey (1999)
7/10
Pretty Good Story with Awesome Direction
24 October 1999
I have to dwell of the direction by Steven Soderberg. To quote a friend of mine, "In...credible!" The way he jumps around time is awesome. He takes a part of a scene, a little part, and he takes these little parts of various scenes and puts them together. Temporal and spacial unity are thrown out the window to create an effect that nevertheless makes sense. We can follow the story with immense ease. Who would have thought?

This effect is used for dramatic effect at Peter Fonda's party (who has been better, but was still convincing nonetheless) where General Zod (I mean, Terrence Stamp) shoots him before the director cuts to him making his initial approach. He then shoots him again hitting another part of him. Was the first a dream or is this one or are they both? It's only until Luis Guzman (I like him a lot) grabs Stamp's arm that we know for sure... none of them happened!!!

Now the rest of the movie: the acting was great, but they seemed stifled by the dialogue which was fair but not great. I had some difficulty believing that Stamp KNEW that Fonda killed his daughter without any sort of evidence, and just started killing people. Although he was right, his initial action seemed almost fascist. This was later made up for the satisfying ending.

All in all: Pretty good or 7/10
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8/10
Scorcese Hits Again
24 October 1999
Scorcese is brilliant. There I've said it. I know lots of people say it, but it's my turn. His latest effort, Bringing out the Dead is awesome filmmaking. It is essentially a character study (similar to Taxi Driver) about a pre-Giuliani New York City paramedic (Nicholas Cage is his best role since Leaving Las Vegas) searching for a means to cope with the pressure of his job. As he moves in and out of sanity, he struggles to become the saviour that he is meant to be while being redeemed for all of those whom he could not save.

If you didn't like this movie, see it again. Watch how Scorcese uses the camera to put you in Cage's place. Look how he uses the camera to create the frenetic pace of Cage's life while simultaneously conveying his mental instability. Cage's facial expressions alone are enough to show the viewer the hell he is experiencing. I won't even go into the use of overexposing the film stock as to give Cage an ethereal glow (he is the savior).

Another aspect of Scorcese's brilliance is his use of sound. Let's just take the soundtrack. The music not only mirrors the action directly but also ironically (Red Red Wine plays at the bloodbath at the Oasis), the harmonica in the opening scene can easily be mistaken for the ambulance sirens, etc.

Although this movie has technical flaws who cares? After all, I'm sure the mafia isn't really like it was portrayed in Goodfellas. But that's Hollywood.
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Election (1999)
9/10
Adam Must Stop Eve
24 October 1999
Election is essentially a modern-day retelling of the Adam and Eve myth. The only difference is that Adam (Matthew Broderick) wants to prevent Eve (all of them) from her corruption. You don't believe me? Look for all of the apples strategically placed throughout the film. I count three. How about you?

In addition, the film is a social satire. Everyone had these kids in their high school. Some of you may have been these kids, come on, you know who I mean.

This movie is hilarious in both style and gender dynamics. The style is brilliant with its freeze frames, interludes, and complete acts of seeming-randomness all in the name of set-up.

The gender dynamics are also hilarious with Broderick's temptations by women and how he gives into them one way or another (whether it be sleeping with them or rigging the election), he can't win. For example (and this film is filled with them), Broderick is tempted to sleep with a friend of the family (actually he is seduced) and then she tells his wife that it was his fault. Is it? Yes and no. After all, she seduced him also. The bottom line, are men pigs or is it just our weakness for women's temptations? I'll choose number two.
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10/10
Feudal Star Wars
24 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
According to George Lucas, this film was his inspiration for Star Wars. When watching this film, it's easy to see the influence. You have the forerunners of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the form of two greedy slaves who attempt to escape from a conquered province. Along the way they meet a military general who is trying to smuggle the defeated princess out of the province and into safety. Sound familiar?

I think part of the film's greatness is the excitement that it builds up without the typical fight scenes. In fact there are only 2 fights that I can remember, but nevertheless they are fantastic. The tension comes from whether or not our heroes will be captured by the villainous army. And they come so close it makes your pulse rise and your heart beat faster.

In addition the John Ford-type cinemetography excentuating the landscape is beautiful. As in all Kurosawa films, nature becomes a character in itself as important as the actors.

Probably the best part of the movie though is the honor that these warriors possess. They are governed by codes of conduct that Americans haven't seen in YEARS. It's a nice change to see two great generals fight to the death with the loser being spared. And he gets angry about living!!! I only wish there were more movies like this one.
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8/10
Picaresque Feminism
24 October 1999
In this masterpiece by a great director, Fellini tells of the prostitute Cabiria who spends the entire movie searching for love without ever actually having sex. I know what you're thinking: "Ra-ra; that sounds boring. Wrong.

At the heart of this film is a feminist who is coming into her own. The audience feels her heartbreak as she goes from man to man looking for "the one." As a guy, I must say that I started to hate men. I guess that's sort of the point. Cabiria's character is essentially an innocent, and it is hard to watch people take advantage of innocents (and innocence). Well Fellini makes you sit through it, and the effect is awesome.

When it finally seems as if Cabiria has found the right man, the viewer cannot help but to be wary after all of the s**t she had to go through with the others. Is the viewer right? What do you think?

The final shot gives me chills (the good kind). It stands as a testament to the independence of womankind and their strength to persevere when they are left with nothing.

Awesome.
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Fight Club (1999)
7/10
The Most Distubing Movie I have Ever Seen
19 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Slowly the face of film has been changing. I guess it may go back to the structure of Annie Hall and that one little scene that was entirely animated. Recently, the generic structure of films has been changing with the success of both Rushmore and Election; it is obvious that the look of movies is changing. Then comes Fight Club.

If this is what we have in store for the next millenium, count me in. The look alone is worth the $8.25 I paid for this film. From the microscopic, CGI tracking shots through the strange interludes and fantasy sequences, David Fincher took me on a wild ride from which I'm still trying to recover.

The cast all gave brilliant performances. There wasn't one point in the entire film that I thought "hey, that's (stick name of star here)!" They became their character. Even Meat Loaf who has had a string of crap recently is awesome in his role as a testicular cancer patient who is looking for a release from his frustration and anger.

Thus is the point of the film. Fincher paints us a portrait of a group of men who are sick and tired of their lives. Like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty, they are frustrated with their jobs and their bosses and their lives in general. Everyone knows what it's like to be just so stressed out and pissed that you just need to hit something!!! ... and hit something they do. Fight Club gives these men an outlet to let out their aggression in an orderly fashion. They move from Superego to Ego; their fights have rules!!!

Now (SPOILER ALERT!!!!)... this movie does not glorify violence. Once Fight Club becomes out of hand and starts moving into the realm of anarchy, any idiot can see that this is not cool. These men, these Ego figures, become the Id - they essentially become Nazis. They make soap out of humans, they all shave their heads and they are totally dressed in black. I think of fascism. Again, they become tools except now, instead of being tools of society, they are tools of their own collective Id.

The disturbing part of this film is that the line between healthy aggression and unhealthy aggression is so finely drawn. The characters move from one to other so seemlessly that you almost don't even notice it (like the subliminal frames in the movie). In addition, why do you think Edward Norton's character isn't given a name?

Put yourself in his position... that could be you.
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Notorious (1946)
9/10
High Hitchcock
11 October 1999
Notorious is a fantastic piece of filmmaking. In addition, it has Hitchcock written all over it. The premise: a woman (Ingrid Bergman) whose father was found guilty of treason is hired by a U.S. agent (Cary Grant) to romance a Nazi scientist (the brilliant Claude Raines) hiding in Rio. Of course, Bergman and Grant fall in love, and this is the real point of the film.

Hitchcock uses many of his regular techniques: rapid editing to evoke suspense, long pull-in shots to direct the audience's attention, and his "mother figure" motif. Also present is a terrific door motif which at times represents a prison, isolation, and at other times, doom.

There are a number of fantastic shots in this film such as the closing shot (which I won't give away), and the crane shot that moves into a close-up of Ingrid Bergman's hand. Wow!!!

Also, the parallels of the beginning and the end of the film are great. The first scene of Bergman's isolation is paired with the isolation of Claude Raines at the end. The second scene is paired with the second-to-last scene, and so-on for a couple more scenes. Wow!!!

Notorious is an exciting film with great acting and directing. It is one of "The Master's" finest masterpieces.
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Casablanca (1942)
10/10
The Best
11 October 1999
If someone were to ask me my favorite movie of all time, I would be forced to say Casablanca. I know a lot of people say this, and all the naysayers who have seen it on TV or video may not know what all the hooplah's about. To all of you, let me say: See it on the big screen!!!

It is an experience.

The acting is impeccable. It is the best Bogart ever, the best Bergman ever, and the best Raines ever. The script is part love story, part anti-German sentiment, part film noir. The dialogue is extremely witty; it's comparable to the other film noir, detective films of the time.

The set-up is brilliant. We have an isolationist American (Bogart), and evil Nazi, and a Frenchman who may or may not be on the side of the Germans. Hmmmmm, that sounds like what actually happened during World War II. Do you think that means something? Probably not.

The love story aspect is superb. Bogart is a typical tough-guy (as we like to see), but that is only his exterior. He has been hurt by women in his past (something we can all relate to) and has become hardened to his emotions (again, the isolationist).

For a movie that was filmed without a clue as to how it was going to end, it did pretty well for itself.

In a word: Incredible
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Le Beau Serge (1958)
9/10
Almost There
7 October 1999
In what is considered the first film of the French New Wave, Claude Chabrol gives us a hypnotic vision of opposites in the same style as Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. Le Beau Serge follows the story of Francois, a young man who returns to his home town after twelve years, who finds that the town is dying. His landlady even tells him that everyone will be gone soon enough. In particular, he finds that a once-promising childhood friend, Serge, is trapped as an alcoholic in a loveless marriage.

The brilliance of the film lies not in its storytelling (it is quite slow at parts) nor its acting (most of the actors were non-professionals) but in its structure. Everything is seen in doubles. Francois and Serge are two sides to the same coin. Each has an elder counterpart. Each has a female relation which seems to switch off at times. Serge has both a wife and a mistress who is at one point Francois girlfriend; at the same time, Serge's wife becomes morally attached to Francois. In addition, scenes are doubled; two scenes in the cemetary, two implied sexual scenes in Glomaud's home, two turns by Francois and Michel at the beginning, the list goes on and on. Furthermore, entire shots are doubled with different couples in each. It is brilliant.

In addition, the film looks as if it were unpolished (which is a basic tenet of the New Wave), but it looks as if it was a director's first attempt. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The greatest detraction (apart from the sometimes overacting) is the musical score. It is extremely discordant with regards to the movie. Minimal scenes such as Serge exiting his house are accompanies by percussion that sounds as if it were a harbinger of doom. I don't know if Chabrol wanted this, but it becomes irritating and causes the viewer to laugh at the film.

As an added note, watch for the parallels of Francois and Serge with the town's children. The kids pop up everywhere.
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Halloween (1978)
8/10
Creepy -- Really Creepy
5 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Halloween is one of those horror movies that you must see. From the chilling opening sequence POV shot through the film's climax, this film is great. Michael Myers appears out of nowhere and disappears even faster, and the fact that he is a living human (?) makes it brilliant.

The only drawbacks are the fact that he just doesn't seem to die which makes him seem more of a supernatural being than a human psycho (which is scarier). The other detraction is the sequence in which all of Laurie Strobe's friends get killed. It just seems out of place for such a smart horror film. Not that it shouldn't be there, but it almost seems like an interlude where the audience gets their cheap scares.

All in all, classic horror film that loses its realism by the end and becomes a parody of itself. Nevertheless, it still has some brilliant sequences that make up for it.
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Jules and Jim (1962)
10/10
Like Watching a Novel
5 October 1999
Part of the sheer brilliance of Jules et Jim is the manner in which the film is constructed. The narration coupled with the ambiguities inherent in films of the French New Wave create the feeling of a true literary work. The narration describes what the viewer sees in poetic terms. It is hard to describe the feeling the viewer gets while viewing this film.

At its heart the film is about the bliss of the unconventional romantic couple (it is essentially a threesome), and the lament of the characters that it cannot be sustained. The characters are extremely complex such that the audience cannot feel either sympathy nor antipathy for them; they can only empathize.

The film is brillaintly framed with archival footage is select parts of the film to both place the film chronologically and set up the mood of the following scenes of action. The bliss of their threesome (illustrated by turn-of-the-century Paris) is interrupted by war which in turn is followed by a period of misery and discord.

The editing also describes the moods of the characters. The first part is fast paced to mirror their bliss while the post-war scenes are long and drawn out.

Overall, the film, while not being the most exciting or happy of films, is definitely a brilliant piece of filmmaking from the great Truffaut. It is a hypnotic tale of three outsiders who attempt life as an "eternal triangle" only to find it impossible. -- A+
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Seven Samurai (1954)
10/10
They Don't Come Much Better Than This
5 October 1999
To put it simply:

A legendary work by a legendary filmmaker - Kurasawa. Part samurai movie, part western with all the elements of a great film. It doesn't get much better than this.
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Three Kings (1999)
6/10
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
2 October 1999
By watching the trailer and the commercials, one gets the impression that Three Kings is a hybrid of action, comedy, and drama. Well it is - sort of. In reality it is a drama above all with some truly funny lines and scenes thrown in. The action sequences are incredible. Not the kind of incredible that we saw in the D-Day sequence of Saving Private Ryan but more of type that we loved in the Matrix. Don't be fooled by what you see and hear - this movie is a drama.

Some excellent points are raised in this film. It is a socially conscious war movie, the likes of which I don't think I have seen. It takes a completely different spin on the Gulf War. It blames the U.S. government for telling the Iraqis to rebel against Saddam and then not helping them as they are slaughtered. Immense sympathy is created for the Iraqi people whether they are civilians or members of Saddam's army. Were we wrong for what we did in 1991? What did we win? Money? Oil? Gold (as the heroes of the film are searching for)? Self respect?

Aesthetically, the film is great. The film stock is faded to not only give the film an aged quality but it also shows the washed out view of the war itself. As the heroes become more aware of what is occurring around them and decide to do something, the stock becomes more standard. The color becomes more "normal." Furthermore, the use of hand held cameras and panning gives the viewer a sense of being in the action or cavern or crowd (depending upon the scene). For example, we are cinematically placed inside of a truck as it flips over; on the big screen it looks awesome!

For all of the film's great aspects - message, aesthetics, acting (which was great). The writing lacked. Although the characters were well witten, the plot was filled with cliches and became too preachy at times. It is as if sympathy for the Iraqis was being shoved down our throat. The film didn't think that we the viewers would follow what they wanted to say. In addition, there was a great deal of moving around as if the plot wasn't really sure what it wanted to do. What this film lacked, other war films like M*A*S*H excelled in.

In all, the script really brought down what could have been a great film.
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Stolen Kisses (1968)
7/10
This is Not Antoine Doinel!
2 October 1999
I watched this film knowing that it was the sequel to Truffaut's the 400 Blows, but I couldn't help doubting that the protagonists for the two movies were one and the same. I know Stolen Kisses takes place nine years after, but something wasn't right. Maybe it was that this film was more comedic, maybe the character was different, maybe the world was different. I don't know. It is like the Antoine of Bizarro World.

Standing by itself, Stolen Kisses is a terrific film about a mediocrity. Antoine can't hold a job, and he can't even hold a woman. He kisses his girlfriend as he would kiss a prostitute - awkward and rough. Upon meeting a private detective (modeled after Andre Bazin - Truffaut's mentor), Antoine gets a job spying on the workers of a shoe store owner who claims everyone hates him. There, he falls into lust with the bosses high-society wife.

At the end of the film, Antoine is forced to compromise and marry his old girlfriend for whom he may or may not feel any true love. The point is that she is there to support him and love him. He is the elevated statue of desire to her just as the shoe store owner's wife was to him.

All in all, this movie is exceedingly well done by the Great Truffaut, but I just couldn't get past the fact that Antoine was the same boy I last saw escaping from a juvenille hall and running to the ocean in a moment of personal victory from a society that didn't really want him. Something in this film did not match up with the previous one.
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The 400 Blows (1959)
10/10
Great Filmmaking by a Great Filmmaker
1 October 1999
The Four Hundred Blows is the semi-autobiographical story of Antoine Doinel, a boy trapped in a life of contemtptuous authority who turns to outward rebellion. Truffaut shows his mastery of the cinema in this, his freshman attempt.

The film is perfectly cast with Dionel relaying neutral facial expressions for the majority of the film. The boy, although not necessarily evoking sympathy from the audience, definitely evokes empathy. He is a pathetic character forced into his position by his teacher and his almost uncaring mother.

Throughout the film, Truffaut hints at the possibility of a happy life for the protagonist, but just as soon as the ideal is given to us, it is taken away. The mood shifts in the film are fabulously orchestrated through contrasting scenes, music, and even acting. From the opening sequence through the final, enigmatic still shot, the movie is a masterpiece of both French and world cinema. It is a must see.
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10/10
Terrific
24 September 1999
Let me just say that one rarely sees a movie with a perfect cast. Here it is. Spacey and Benning give career defining performances in what is hands down the first real Oscar/Golden Globe contender of the year. In addition, the supporting cast (if one can call them supporting) is fabulous especially the drug dealing neighbor has these piercing eyes that make you hang onto his every word (just like Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs).

The movie itself is a tightly constructed narrative that can really speak to the viewer if he wants to listen. In a miserable, routine existence find something - ANYTHING - that will make you truly happy. It's relatively straightforward.

When seeing this film, note that it is a first effort from the director who does an amazing job. The visual symbolism and the mise-en-scene is outstanding. This is quite possibly the best freshman attempt at filmmaking since Frank Darabont made The Shawshank Redemption.
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8/10
Disturbing and Often Funny
12 September 1999
I saw a rough cut of this documentary last year presented by Errol Morris. At this point, I had never seen an Errol Morris documentary, but I have to say I loved it. It's the story of the man who reinvented the modern electric chair and other devices to carry out capital punishment.

The first half of the film is darkly funny. The juxtaposition of images with Leuchter's descriptions makes for hilarious irony. The shots are in and of themselves wholly serious, but Leuchter himself is very comedic (whether he knows it or not).

The second half of the film evokes anger more than humor. Leuchter becomes an advocate for Holocaust denial through his scientific (?) research for a Canadian Neo-Nazi. The cut that I saw didn't have an explanation as to why Leuchter got the results that he did until a little later in the film. I though Errol Morris should have had this description as soon as the results of the tests were determined. Maybe he changed it, and maybe he didn't.

At the film's heart is, like a Greek tragedy, the story of a man whose rise to prominence is cut short by his hybris - his inability to accept that he could be wrong. As a result, a man who was once in demand by state after state is left to rot in his own misery and mistake.
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10/10
The Best Animated Feature Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
9 September 1999
I don't have enough positive things to say about the Iron Giant; I just want to say that right now. It was a beautiful film that reflects the Communist paranoia of 1950s America through a boy and a metallic alien in rural New England. This movie is a genuine treat. It is something that adults can relate to with the myriad of reference to 50s culture, and both children and adults will love its innocence.

The film is drawn in a classical animation style like early Disney films to give the audience a feel of the time in which it is set. Unlike recent Disney films (thankfully), The Iron Giant does not have any cutesy little "friends" that serve as comic relief or to create nausea for the viewer. Instead, the filmmaker respects the audience's intelligence (both children and adults) by giving us a simple story that does not rely on embellishment to make itself more viewer friendly. It doesn't need it.

The author started with a concept - what if a gun had a soul? - and created this brilliant animated feature in the same vain of Spielberg's E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial. It stands as a testament to what animated films should be (it is possibly the best in over 50 years), but what's more, it stands as a testament to what FILMS should be.

I can't stress this film's greatness. Just see it for yourself, and be a kid again.
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7/10
I Could Go Either Way
9 September 1999
Hiroshima mon amour. The opening sequence of the film showing all of the victims of the bomb was extremely powerful and moving. It can easily be used as an argument against nuclear technology. Then the filmmaker seems to juxtapose the nuclear holocaust with the female lead's tragic past during World War II. Maybe it's just me, but I think that the death and deformity of a couple hundred thousand Japanese civilians cannot be compared with the death of a woman's love (who himself was a Nazi) followed by her near insanity and banishment. One is a global and cultural travesty while the other is personal. Albeit the scale is different, both tragedies were equally traumatic to each.

Visually, the film is phenomenal. The naturalist lighting is great. The neon lighting of the city coupled with the darkness creates a beauiful black and white frame. The sound is also terrific. There are moments when no background noise is present such as when the woman describes her tragic past to her lover. This causes the audience to hang onto her every word. The music has a definite Oriental sound, although at times there is a Westen quality to it (i.e. the music in the opening credits).

All in all, the visuals are great but the story, I think needed a little work. Boredom? A touch.
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9/10
Brilliant Genre Film that Fights Conventions
8 September 1999
I just watched Bob le flambeur for a class on the French New Wave. The film is brilliant. The title character is a complicated former gangster who has mellowed out since spending time in prison. He reminds me a great deal of Burt Lancaster's character in Atlantic City. He is an old-timer in a world that has moved on.

Bob is a gambler (hence the title of the film) that never wins. He has a relatively big win at the races but then blows it all in a casino. He seems destined to be a loser. The fact that he always loses may have some bearing on why he refuses the sexual advances of the young and beautiful Ana. Instead of bringing her into his web of misfortune, he "gives" her to his Polo (the son-figure). Nevertheless, the relationship between Bob and Ana is frought with sexual tension.

Half way through the film, Bob loses all of his money and decides to put a crew together to rob the casino of 800 million francs (this reminded my a lot of Kubrick's The Killing). What follows is Bob's retreat into his original gangster form. At one point, he slaps Ana across the face - something that he (at the beginning of the film) would not have ever done. In addition the second half of the film is filled with sequences of the gang "training" to rob the place. Some of these are extremely hypnotic such as the lock-picker opening a copy of the casino's safe.
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Run Lola Run (1998)
8/10
Restores My Faith in Movies
5 September 1999
I must say, I am a cinephile. I watch movies all the time, and I like a great deal of what I see. That doesn't mean that I cannot recognize the decadence of the Hollywood film. Well thankfully Lola rennt is not a Hollywood film. It's like a beautifully shot modern version of German Expressionism. The fact that Lola feels alone in her quest to save her boyfriend is punctuated by the emptiness of the streets through which she runs. In addition the geometric shapes motif in the film which is also reminicent of Expressionism. The checker board that Lola runs through in the town square, the curvature of the road next to the curving train track, the perfect rectangles and circles in the casino. It seems to show the harmony of the world that the film tends to dismiss at times.

There is a great interplay of fate and choice within the film. Lola seems to be the master of her own destiny. Her sonic scream allows her to get what she wants; it is almost as if the laws of physics and psychology are thrown out the window for her. On the other hand, fate plays a major role. She either gets somewhere too late or someone briefly prevents her from moving on (i.e. the security guard). In addition fate plays on the lives of the people she runs into. The "And Then" title card precedes a montage of what happens to passer-bys. Each future, good or bad, is outside of the reach of the people. It's all in the hand of fate. The interplay, I think, says that, overall, what happens in life is part destiny and part what you make of it. Fate throws in obstacles that can be overcome by careful choices. The rest is up to you.
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5/10
Soylent Green is Made Out of People!!!!!
26 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
After reading Entertainment Weekly's list of the top 25 horror movies, I had to see this movie as it was posted at number 2. After searching through video store after video store, I found the movie. After all this, I saw the movie, and I must say, I wasn't too impressed with it.

Don't get me wrong, I give it props for being wholly original for its day. On the flip side, we were also forced to endure its bastard children including the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

The potential greatness of the movie was ruined by its script (or lack thereof). It's a movie in which nothing really happens. We're given a great set-up of grave robbers making sculptures out of rotting corpses in the cemetary. We're given the five kids driving through (a staple of many slasher movies to come), and a great set of locals straight out of Deliverance. You think: What could go wrong?

Well, here's what goes wrong. The "scary killer" is not scary. He looks and acts like a retarded, middle-aged woman with a chain saw. It's about as frightening as a 100 ft Stay Puft Marshmellow Man traversing through Manhattan.

The next problem is that there is no middle. Four out of the five kids get killed within fifteen minutes of each other. At first I thought, "well maybe this is good because all other slasher-fests drag out all of the killings." But at least, the kids demises have an entertainment value. Not here. It happens too quickly to invoke any fear. This coupled with the ridiculousness of Leatherface bolsters the stupidity.

Third. The grandfather who looks as if he should, by all rights, be long dead and apparently lives off of the blood of human victims. Frightening? No. Funny? No. Stupid? Ah, yes. This cheap, Troma-esque addition makes the film lose credibility. I could believe that a family of rednecks are killing people just to eat them, just as I could believe Mrs. Vorhees wants revenge on the camp where her son died. This old guy is the resurrection of the dead that kills many horror franchises.

Finally, there is no end to the movie (Potential SPOILER in case you really care). Yes, our heroine (I guess) finally escapes. But then what? The movie ends with Leatherface flipping out with his chainsaw. That's it! Does she call the police? What happens to the redneck family? Are they still out there? Does she go back with Morgan Freeman? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS!!!??? I don't really care if a movie ends with some unanswered questions like Boogie Nights, The Blair Witch Project, or even Casablanca, but at least there is some closure to those movies. This had nothing.

Nevertheless, I still credit this movie for reinventing the horror genre, and for all the crap wrong with it, I would rather watch this any Jason or Freddy movie.
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