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Good Germans in one of the worst battles of WW II
This film used to be one of my favorites as a German teenager and re-watching it after 15 years was almost painful to some degree.
The film now appears a reaction to stereotypical characterizations of Germans in US films, where they are all inherently evil. Unfortunately the film goes completely overboard with there being way too many good Germans. To make matters worse, the "bad Germans" are mere caricatures, which seem to have been pulled straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Such a shame to be so disappointed as I had been really looking forward to seeing this again. Admittedly this is a very juvenile attempt at history and depicting Germans a human rather than evil. As one German reviewer rightly concluded, the film does feel like it is playing down fascism and the Nazism.
Down from 9 out of 10 to 6 out of 10 Definitely will not be buying the DVD after seeing it again.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
A fantastic film by a great director
We need to talk about Kevin is easily one of the most harrowing films I've ever seen and left me completely empty. Lynne Ramsey succeeds where so many others dealing with a similar subject matter have failed, as she abstains from sensationalism and bloody detail. Instead she focuses in on character and relationship development and breakdown.
Tilda Swinton gives a truly great performance and even though the main thread of the story is clear almost from the start, she and the rest of the terrific cast manage to keep the viewer glued to the screen.
One of the most interesting facets of the film was that it showed how much power children can hold and execute over adults if they are given the opportunity.
We need to talk about Kevin is quality from start to finish and deserves to become a classic. I'm looking forward to seeing many more films by Lynne Ramsay.
Rosa Luxemburg (1986)
A gem that needs to be preserved and should be remembered
Me and my partner were some of the few people fortunate enough to see this film as part of the Bird's Eye Film festival 2011 in London. The film isn't available to purchase on DVD with subtitles, so it is really just German speaking people who have access to it. This is a real shame as Rosa Luxemburg is a cinematic and historical gem.
Rosa Luxemburg is a true hero and a great thinker, who deserves a spotlight in the history of the early 20th century. Unfortunately she is too often forgotten and only the likes of Ernst and Marx are remembered. Here is someone who is really trying to change her fate and the fate of her sisters and brothers. All of this is beautifully brought to life by von Trotta in this film and many of Luxemburgs writings and speeches are used throughout. The performance by Barbara Sukowa as Rosa is amazing and she really merges with the character she portrays. I think this is a beautiful film and I would wish someone would give it a good makeover and preserve it for future generations. This is a film, which should not get lost - rather it should be remembered.
Unlike her male contemporaries, von Trotta's films are often hard to find and virtually unknown to most people - even those who have heard of her contemporaries like Schlöndorff, Fassbinder and Herzog. This is a mystery to me, as I have seen a number of her films and she manages time and time again to make raw, challenging and emotional films about history. At the end of the screening there was also an interview with von Trotta in which one could see her intelligence and passion for film. I am really looking forward to see her next film - a project on the philosopher Hannah Arendt.
Riddles of the Sphinx (1977)
the position of women in patriarchy through the prism of psychoanalysis
This film addresses the position of women in patriarchy through the prism of psychoanalysis. I love the fragmented use of text, dialog, and image, which echoes the fragmentation of unconscious thought and also subverts the usual way of filmmaking and of portraying women as sexualized objects. The film asks questions which were pertinent at the time and which still are pertinent, e.g. what issues should feminists be fighting on. It leaves these questions unanswered, instead of being a didactic film. Other parts of the film show the drudgery and mundanity of women's traditional role, subverting the idea that women might find this role 'naturally' rewarding and fulfilling. The images of the acrobats in one of the final sections are beautiful and trippy. This is an important, philosophical film.
Black Snake Moan (2006)
The most stupid, sexist movie I have seen in a long time
I thought this movie could have been quite good, but actually it failed miserably. What is sold here is Christina Ricci's body as we see her walking around naked (and may I say needlessly so) throughout most of the film. It has no depth, does not go into the childhood abuse enough and does not portray Laz's (Samuel L. Jackson) chaining Rae (Christina Rcci) as brutal as it is. Instead it tries to portray it as slightly 'funny' or as a 'game'.
Also what is this uncontrollable 'sickness' Rae has? If the director would have wanted this to be a 'religously' themed movie, he could have done so much better and not have brought a 15th century concept of 'witch' into the über-sexy environment of the 21st century.
Awful cinema, which nobody should be exposed to, especially not 12-17 year old who will go and see this nonsense. As far as I am concerned, the only decent thing in this film was the music! 3 out of 10
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
They've done it all now
Giving Die Hard 4.0 a 7 is flattering it. I think it only deserves a 6,5 and I think the current 7,7 average is well too flattering. THe reason for this is that the action sequences try and top everything McCLane ever had to endure in the other Die Hard movies. They do succeed in doing this, but bigger is not always better. Sometimes Willis, Wiseman and Co. just try too hard to include bigger bangs and it makes some of the scenes seem ridiculous.
I think this is a letdown from other Die Hard movies and Willis seems nothing more than a tired hero. He does also seem more human though, which is something I enjoyed. A few scenes were quite touching and I must admit, that in that perspective Die Hard 4.0 made a good impression. Nonetheless I feel the need to be honest and I'll have to say that I feel it is time John McClane should retire. He Deserves it.
6,5 out of 10
Casino Royale (2006)
The name is Blunt, James Blunt: The birth of James Bond
There is a lot that can be said about Daniel Cgraig and I must admit that I've said a couple of negative things about him as well. I think he looks more like a prizefighter than the stylish, sophisticated lady-killer that James Bond is supposed to be. Also he is blonde and what's with the haircut anyway.
Leaving all my prejudices behind, I decided to step into the theater anyway las Sunday with a couple of my best friends. In the end none of us were disappointed, including the two women accompanying us. THe thought that was going through my brain as I left the theater was: finally another good Bond film after 11 years of draught! Now do not get me wrong, I liked Brosnan as Bond, but Tomorrow Never Dies and Die another Day were simply effect laden Bond vehicles that tried to top every other movie by exploding as much stuff as possible. The World is not Enough came close enough to being a good Bond, but a crappy male villain and Denise Richards spoiled it all. What a waste of Sophie Marceau was that! Luckily Bond producers remembered a man named Campbell. Someone who had done Bond before and had used a 'new kid' before. And I must admit, that as Campbell did with Goldeneye, he pulled off Casino Royale. The funny thing is, that almost all of the criticism I mentioned earlier add to making the film great. Since this is not just another Bond film; This is the birth of Bond and that is what makes it great. After seeing this film, you won't take for granted who Bond is, you'll understand him. You'll know why he drinks what he drinks. You'll understand that he is not someone who uses women just for pleasure, but that deep within there lies a secret. Because of these things the film does not feel like a real Bond film and some might see that as a bad thing. But because of this film, the character also get's so much more depth I can only see it as a good thing.
Apart from that there is enough action and sensuality to make the film interesting, so I can recommend it even if you're not a Bondiac. But beware if you've seen other Bond films, because this one is more brutal than the others and much more gritty when it comes to scenes of violence and death! Well done Craig, Campbell & Co.
8 out of 10
Tom yum goong (2005)
A bad excuse to show off some great skills
While I am a true fan of Ong-Bak, I must say that Tony Jaa's newest film let me down a lot. The story is pure bull, the direction is not more than one can expect from a third rate music-video director and the editing is (at times at least) awful. The one and only thing that makes this film bearable, are the great stunts and Tony Jaa's inexplicable martial arts skills. I truly hope that in the future I will see more of him, be it in films with better scripts and with another director. Lightning just does not strike twice in the same place.
Story: 2 out of 10
Martial Arts: 8 out of 10
Overall: 5 out of 10
Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
For American's Only
I watched this movie tonight and while I did so, I actually started to wonder whether this film was made for the American market only. For me as a European, not knowing much about the 50's in America and the whole communism thing, a lot about the film was incomprehensible. I felt that the editing was not too great, the story lines were not elaborate enough and all concluding I felt that the whole impact of the McCarthy affair and his 'hunting' of communists in the USA was not depicted 'in depth'. Maybe this film was more about the people working at CBS at the time and their struggles with the politics of the day. But fairly, given Clooney's reputation, I had imagined a more in depth look into the whole and not just a scattered glimpse of a part.
5 out of 10
Mission: Impossible III (2006)
Impossible? I wish....
Well I'd really hoped for an Impossible Mission this time around, but I fear I didn't get it. Msiion Impossible II is just more of the same old 'you win some, you lose some' twine that usually see in action films. Sure the action is good, but with all that talent (Rhames, Hoffman and Fishburne) J.J. Abrans & Co. could have created a much more subtle, an emotionally deeper film. The first thing to irritate was actually the intro. The title music felt much too sharp after what had happened earlier. The film had very good moments as well though. Actually everything that had Rhames, Hoffman or Fishburne in it was great. Hoffman was totally under-used as the bad guy and as far as Tom Cruise was concerned. Anybody could have pulled his 'acting' off I guess. What I am getting at is that M:I III is what M:I II should have been like. A follow-up that tries to focus on a story and not effects-only. Too bad it comes 6 years too late, too bad great talent was under-used and too bad that it is too predictable at times.
7 out of 10
Batman Begins (2005)
Of course this film has it's good points, especially when it is compared to the other Batman films. It is darker, less aimed at children, funny input by Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine and !!!OF COURSE!!! the best Batman ever (Christian Bale).
What about all the bad points? The whole 'Karate-kid' beginning, the lack of a good villain, the lack of originality, the cheesy hint at 'Batman Continues' (or whatever it will be named), the superficial character that is Mr. Gordon (a man of Gary Oldman's talent is wasted here), the bad editing (I just could not figure many of the fight scenes out...I like them kick-ass...Michael Keaton Style), the bad love interest (really...what's her name is awful). I could continue...but I won't. Sure this is just the beginning but keeping the above in mind, the scale can go BOTH ways. The beginning is OK, the character is SET, now (please) BLOW US AWAY (and don't try and do it by blowing more stuff up and creating idiotic stunts and villains).
6,75 out of 10 (with a tiny seven given upon voting, although the film is highly overrated, being # 111 in the top 250)
King Kong (2005)
King Kong - Kung Fu
First of all I'd like to start off by saying that the film come close to feeling like a 3-hour picture, which is a good thing. The relatively 'bad' thing about this film though that there are a number of GREAT scenes, very many GOOD and OK scenes but some very CRAPPY / CORNY scenes as well. Simply said: the quality of the scenes is not constant enough. The fighting sequences featuring Kong are probably some of the greatest scenes in the film and while the core element of the film is the relationship between the ape and Ann, the latter actually is involved in / the cause for some of the worst scenes. There is for instance the pole-vaulting sequence (which I thought was stupid) and the worst scene of the whole film (I wanted to cry out loud actually) is when Kong meets Ann in NY. I cannot understand that a talented filmmaker like Jackson does not understand the difference between emotional and corny, between the right amount of anything (be it action or emotion) and too much. He seemed to have it when making Fellowship of the Ring, it slipped away whilst he was making The Two Towers and it was simply gone during The Return of the King. With Kong, Jackson has proved that he is gaining some of his understanding, but that he is still nowhere near the level he was when making The Fellowship of the Ring. Like so many before him, Jackson shows us that low budget success leading to bigger budgeted films don't always ensue a step up in quality as well.
7,5 out of 10 (with a 7 given upon voting)
Dead Man's Curve (1998)
Don't kill yourself to live
I really didn't expect much of Dead Man's Curve at first but I became immediately thrilled once I started watching it. The performances (especially Matthew Lillard) were great and I just dig it when a bad guy thrives as much as Lillard did in this movie. The bigger part of the film was pretty good and would have easily been rewarded with a 7 or maybe even a 7,5 but in the end it just didn't get away with it. In the end Dead Man's Curve just becomes one of those thrillers that wants to be too smart and too original / surprising, resulting in a very annoying and unbelievable ending. It would be rightful to say that by introducing twist after twist after twist the filmmaker succeeded in breaking the movie's neck. Since the ending for me was a big fat 3 out of 10 I find it very hard to make a recommendation regarding this film.
6 out of 10
Wat zien ik (1971)
Took the words right out of my mouth
The title says it all. 'Wat zien ik?' or 'What am I seeing?' was exactly the question I asked myself when I watched this film the other night. The film itself seems to be nothing more than an accumulation of 'strange' customers that a hooker in Amsterdam entertains and has a very sketch-like feel to it. Except that it isn't funny. For me it felt a bit like Monty Python's Meaning of life. Every customer was another short sketch that failed and everything in between was thinner than a piece of toilet paper. The reason I felt like that was because the characters, although the actors were OK, had no real depth and one just could not identify with any of them or with their actions. A bad effort from Verhoeven, which I guess nobody will enjoy much. Luckily he made better films later on.
4 out of 10
Charlie versus Willy
As of last week I've seen both versions of the famous Roald Dahl book and I must conclude in saying that they both have good bits and bad bits. Let me begin with this film. While I liked the overall cheerful tone of the film, I thought that Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) who explicitly lacked that cheerfulness was not a very likable character. Johnny Depp's acting was good, but the character he portrayed just didn't fit the bill. Whilst the 1971 version depicted Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) was a funny and cheerful village idiot, Tim Burton reduced the character to an odd, eccentric and cold individual that I just could not connect with. Regarding the cheerful tone of the story, I liked the approach taken to Willy Wonka in 1971 better.
This film also introduced a back story, not shown in the 1971 version, which is told in flashbacks and which does not add anything of importance to the story. It only takes away some of the mystery surrounding that village idiot who seems to be obsessed with making innovative sweets. Also I do not quite like the way in which Tim Burton introduces those flashbacks and at most times they are more annoying than they are helpful to enjoying the film.
Another annoyance in this film are the Oompa Loompa's. While they were sweet and funny in the original, the amount of songs and on-screen time they have in Tim Burton's film is irritating. It is not because of the acting as such, but the songs they play are very annoying and they take you right out of the enjoyable film experience. You just want them to stop and get back to the story, instead of enjoying what they have to tell you.
What I liked about this film though was the nut-peeling sequence and anything I did not get annoyed by (excluding the massive amount of CGI, which I felt could have been toned down). Nonetheless, I think that despite the (big) flaws, Tim Burton delivers a good film with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which makes the fact that there were flaws present bearable on one end of the spectrum and pitiful on the other. Bearable because the rest was so good you kept enjoying it and pitiful because had there been NO flaws, this film could have been one of the best movies ever made. As it is, the film is good, cheerful and enjoyable. Heck, it even left me smiling for minutes after leaving the theater. Still I was not completely satisfied.
7,75 out of 10 (with an 8 given upon voting)
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Attack of the clones
After having seen this episode of Star Trek I can finally say that I've seen all the movies. In this case it is not a good thing. While the authors probably meant to do well and probably wanted to make this one a very emotional and personal Star Trek it just flat out failed. I personally feel that there is just not enough chemistry in the crew, I dislike Data and I really do not connect commander Riker. Actually I think Captain Picard is the only decently portrayed character in the films. I am not a fan and have actually seen my first Trek film 5 years ago but I still like the crew around Captain Kirk much better than this one. They had so much more depth. This one does not have depth at all. On top of that, in Nemesis the story very crummy and the bad guy wouldn't scare a three year-old. In retrospect, I'd have to say that this is the worst Star Trek of them all, because the first one get's a bonus for being from the 70's. I guess the 70 million dollar budget on this one went to effects rather than writing or casting.
4 out of 10
Demon Hunter C
Well, there goes the world again, for the End of Days is nearing. I must admit that I'm not a real fan of 'Angels versus demons' of 'God versus Lucifer' films, but I thought that the comic book based Constantine could bring a nice twist to the oh so familiar story. Sometimes it even does. The film is well filmed and at times it is really surprising. What the film lacks though is depth and excitement. The film is not very gripping and I think that is because the lead character (played by Keanu Reeves) is not gripping enough. Whether this is a failure of the script or Keanu I can't really say, since I don't know the comics but I admit I felt little connection with our hero. I could connect much better with Angela (Rachel Weisz) and I think she acted very well. She was about the only one who brought some feeling into this. Sure Keanu had some funny lines and his cynical ways were pretty good most of the time, but his character and Weisz's didn't seem to connect at all (on any level). Another minor 'bug' in my mind is that the bad guys weren't well-cast either. They just weren't scary in any way...it always seemed that while Constantine was just a man and they were demon's they couldn't do him one bit of harm. Silly...but an explanation for the lack of thrills in this one. In the beginning I expected something like The Crow, Dracula or Vampire Hunter D and in the end I got 'The Exorcist on the road' or...well you've read the summary...
somewhere between 6,5 and 6,75 out of 10 (with a small 7 given upon voting)
The Island (2005)
THX - t.e.s.t.o.s.t.e.r.o.n.e.
It has been mentioned often that this film borrows a lot from other Utopian / futuristic films (for me most notably THX, because of the white suits and the setting) and actually I've read that it is a remake of a film called The Clonus horror, The Island can be seen as a film in itself. While I admit there is a lot of borrowing I cannot get why people are upset by this. If people go on like that they might as well argue that Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, exactly 70 years later, partially borrowed from Nosferatu (1922) in the case of the medallion of Ellen/Mina which is not in the Dracula novel. Also you can start moaning that For a few Dollars More is a remake of Yojimbo that A.I. - Artificial Intelligence is built around Pinocchio and Bicentennial Man by Isaac Asimov and on and on and on.....you get my drift. What I am saying is that this is all BLAH by people who hate the movie anyway...be it good or bad. What to say about the Island itself then?
Well first of all let me say that the advertising was extremely bad. They make commercials for a film called THE "bloody" ISLAND and during the whole trailer we do not get to see of hear anything about an island. Then there's a SPOILER: the 'I am Tom Lincoln scene' which ruins part of the movie, not to mention the good old from the director of...I MEAN REALLY; COME ON...that's not a reason to see a film so cut that crap out. The trailer would have been much better if it had been on the lines of...IN THE FUTURE...AFTER A CONTAMINATION...THERE ARE BUT TWO PLACES SAFE FOR MANKIND...AN OFF-SHORE PLANT WHERE MANKIND IS TO WORK AND REPOPULATE...AND A REMOTE AND MYSTERIOUS OASIS CALLED THE ISLAND...BUT WHAT THEY DO NOT KNOW...THERE IS NO ISLAND...THERE'S ONLY DEATH then cutting towards some gruesome scenes and some action...'THE ISLAND'...OPENS...! Blame the producers for the BOMB, not Scarlett and Ewan and don't bother blaming Michael. It's too easy...I mean when they actually advertise 'By the director of Armageddon and Pearl Harbour' everybody knows what they'll get. I mean it's like complaining when you go see a Woody Allen movie and and get out saying 'I can't believe he played a neurotic dud AGAIN.'
Of the whole movie I liked the first hour best, because there was actually quite a lot of plot and it was interesting to see 6-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and 2-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) out in the world. In that first hour the film was very variable as well. There were some touching, some funny moments and it was generally interesting and well paced unlike for instance THX-1138 which drags on and on and in 88 minutes covers what this one does in 45 or so. Then the film becomes THX on testosterone. Huge explosions fights and, well... all the Michael Bay stuff. Don't get me wrong, I like big bangs and stuff but Michael, well it's all too 'produced' for me. Really I mean his films are like 2 hour commercials...everybody looking so styled even when they just went up in flames...and the colors...plus I think his trademark camera-work is getting older than John Woo's white pigeons. Anyway, I felt that the second hour wasn't nearly as good as the first one, for it dragged on too long. I get that feeling often nowadays with movies. It seems to me that they have plot for something like 100 minutes but they try and stretch it to just over 2 hours with elaborate action scenes and 'not quite yet' endings. Too bad filmmakers want to tie everything up nowadays...I felt the same way with Mr. and Mrs. Smith which I felt dragged a bit in the end too...but maybe that's just Hollywood.
I generally do not dislike Michael Bay although I must say I didn't like Bad Boys II. He is what he is as is Kurosawa, Spielberg and Scorsese. I mainly went to the cinema to get entertained, see explosions and watch a beautiful Miss Scarlett...maybe see a plot. I was satisfied reasonably on three counts and very much on the third. Yet the length of the movie and some ridiculous action scenes (oh let's do that...we haven't seen it done like this and it will be more spectacular than the scene in...) spoiled a bit of the fun. Great work Ewan, Scarlett, Steve and the people from make-up. Michael...reconsider your style and what your doing at times.
6,75 out of 10 (with a small 7 given upon voting)
De tweeling (2002)
A tale of two sisters
I read the book to this film about 6 years ago, back when I was in high school and was so impressed by it that I bought the book for my bookcase three years ago or something. I haven't read the book since and I'm not some kind of purist, heck I don't even remember the specifics of the book. At best that makes me as biased as someone who didn't read the book at all...or at worst it means that I'm not a 'purist'.
Translating a book into film, the visible medium, there are so many stages at which it can go wrong. Luckily it didn't with this one. The casting is perfect. I especially liked how Lotte and Anna spoke believably broken German and Dutch. Not as it sometimes happens in American productions, when they for instance speak Dutch and say it is German. This was very well done indeed and added to the films worth. What touches me most about De Tweeling though is the fact at heart, that you get shaped partly by your environment. It is worked out very well in this film and my favorite part is that the film distances itself (as does the book) from pointing out one of the two sisters as 'the bad guy'. The film just shows the horror, the desperation and the pain on the common man from both sides; the aggressor and the wrongfully invaded. It is a truly great theme and it is one of the few films I guess in which you actually get to feel sympathy for the Germans (or at least some of them). Maybe that is understandable. Maybe it is logic that most films portray the Germans as gruesome and despicable as quite a lot of them maybe were. But every once in a while a film comes along that shows us that they are human too, that they suffered losses; that German lives lost shatter German families as they shatter American, Dutch, Polish, Jewish, English and so on. This is one of those films. It strays from the cliché, which is what I liked about it as I did like Stalingrad (1993) and Die Brücke (1959).
8 out of 10
No cinematic drought after all
It had been proposed by some that the only reason Eisner Jr. (Breck) was allowed to make this film was his relationship with Eisner Sr. (Michael). While there is no proof for such an argument either way, Breck has proved to be not much worse than other directors. In fact he did better than most and worse than some. Sahara is best described as a typical entertaining adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones or perhaps National Treasure. It has a tough good guy (McConaughey), a funny sidekick (Zane) and admirable eye-candy (Cruz). Now I admit that most things are quite shallow, but if you mix all of the above mentioned ingredients with a decent story, good action sequences and throw in the fact that there isn't one nanosecond of corniness in this movie, you inevitably end up with a crowd pleasing blockbuster.
7,25 out of 10
Shark Attack 2 (2000)
If you're considering watching Shark Attack...DON'T
There isn't much good to say about Shark Attack II if you ask me. One of the nicest things you will probably hear me say about this film is: 'Ive seen worse.' which by the way is the absolute truth. But unfortunately having seen worse is not an excuse for poor film-making. The acting, while bad is certainly as abominable in a way that will make you laugh throughout the film. I'll give the filmmakers that, but basically THAT'S IT. That's all the credit I'll give them...plus that they shot some nice shark footage perhaps. When the evil beasts get into action gear it becomes a whole other story though: you can actually see cardboard shark-heads on those occasions...which is really sad. I mean Jaws (30 years ago my friends) had better shark effect than this film, so if you're into watching a shark hunting exercise I suggest you watch that one (again). If you're drawn by the story (yes they pretend to have one) about genetically mutated sharks I suggest you stick to Deep Blue Sea, which has a somewhat similar premise and to be honest, this one could actually have been 'Deep Blue Sea 2: The Ones that got away'. What really kills this film in the end though are the roaring sharks...come on people this isn't 'Godzilla takes a dive' this is a shark film and sharks don't roar...they bite...and so does this film.
2,5 out of 10 (with a 3 given upon voting)
Sin City (2005)
The inevitable return of Robert?
I must confess that I wasn't too sure about this movie. I mean Robert Rodriguez used to be great. Heck that guy was on my TOP 5 favorite director list back in 1996 after I'd seen his films and let me tell you they were all great. From El Mariachi and Roadracers to Desperado and From Dusk 'till Dawn. Bu then came the slow demise of Robert Rodriguez...The Faculty was only OK in a teenage horror kind of way...Spy Kids sucked so bad, I didn't even bother with 2 and 3D...and finally he messed up with the Mariachi's in Once upon a Time in Mexico. That guy was scraped off the list, almost as fast as he'd gotten on there. But then there came rumors about a graphic comic book adaption and I got really psyched...I started hoping where I'd lost hope and I must say that when I saw the trailer I was as scared as I was relieved. I mean it certainly looked as if the 'good old' Rodriguez was back, but in a way I was scared. The trailer looked a lot like 'style over matter' to me and I was not sure he'd pull it off. For him to do that he'd really had to get that comic feeling in to it...
Well he did. As soon as the film started I got sucked into Sin City and wasn't allowed out until the ending credits rolled. Sin City is really exciting stuff. Although there isn't much of a background to the characters you care for them and feel with them, which actually is kind of an accomplishment since they are mainly bad guys...the thing about it is though, there are worse guys. No matter how depraved and bad the heroes in this picture are, they all have a heart somewhere and despite all of their sins they are still human. This is particularly evident with Marv (Mickey Rourke), who is very mean and brutal and yet you somewhat condone what he is doing. In a way this film makes you an inhabitant of Sin City. Your values fade, your rules are bent and you come to accept that everything that happens on screen happens by the rules. That is what great film-making is all about.
Rodriguez couldn't have pulled it off without a great cast though and I must say that everyone fit the picture here. I was especially taken by Marv (Mickey Rourke) and Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro). As far as the ladies go, I must say that there while they were much more shallow than most of their male counterparts I sort of had a soft spot for Nancy (Jessica Alba). My least favorite character was Shellie (Britanny Murphy), whom I really couldn't connect with at all. I just felt that she was odd. The rest of the characters and actors ranged from adequate to the above mentioned 'greats'.
The visuals were another certain plus to the film, as it helped you in getting into the comic surreal feeling of the film and accepting everything that happened there. I'm not talking about the rules of the street here, but about the more unconventional stuff, such as the the Yellow Bastard, the sheer invincibility of some of the main characters and the comic brutality depicted in this film. The film just had that comic book character that made believe everything you see. It was almost as if I was flipping through an old Batman comic. It was just great...and so original. Hats off to Rodriguez and to Miller of course who had his share in the directing (and the writing of course). On account of this I say: ROBERT = BACK. Too bad about The adventures of Shark Boy and Lava girl in 3D though. Well I guess I can live with him doing that, as long as he keeps popping films like these out every now and then (9 years is way too long though).
8,5 out of 10 (with an 8 given upon voting)
He came, he saw, he Wan
Thriller fans can finally breathe again, or better hold their breath again; because once again there is a good no-nonsense thriller out there that stays away from Hollywood clichés and will chill you to the bone. Although the film is very original overall I'll among the first ones to admit that it sort of leans on a premise similar to that in Cube (in some ways). Now originality, for starters, are already two big thumbs up for this film, since it is unpredictable from beginning to end. Every once in a while you will catch yourself thinking: "Now I get it..." and I bet you: You do NOT get it! But there is much more to this film than originality. What I especially liked about this film, was that it was shocking and disturbing, without being too graphical. You know, many films (especially horror and splatter films) are very graphic, but in being so they lose every chance at being gory or disturbing. A film like this though (or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)) is maintains a certain sense or realism and becomes truly disturbing because it avoids visual overkill. This cannot be accomplished though without the help of a good script, good actors and a capable filmmaker behind the camera and let me tell you Saw has it all. James Wan really put himself and fellow writer Leigh Whannell on the map with this one. There is not a single hole to be found in the entire story and the directing is good (although somewhat messy in some scenes with the head gear). I for one am excited to see Wans next picture (with Whanell contribution of course), although I'm not too keen on seeing Saw 2. To me it seems as pointless as a Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, but hey they even made American Psycho 2 and Cruel Intentions 3, so I guess there's no stopping the Hollywood machinery...nonetheless some things are better left alone!
8 out of 10
post scriptum: I know it's hard to believe but I actually saw the Dutch premiere of this film
Bruce is back with a bang
It has been a long time since Bruce has been in a serious action film. If you ask me it has been a clear decade. All the other so called action films Bruce made in between Die Hard with a vengeance and Hostage had either too much of a crime/motion picture feel to it (Mercury Rising); were comedies (The Fifth Element, Bandits, The Whole nine / ten yards); could not be taken seriously (Amageddon, The Jackal - I mean who actually bought those darn wigs???) or were war movies (Tears of the Sun).
I mean the only film that actually came close to be a 'no guts no glory' action flick in that decade was The Fifth Element and everyone has to agree that while it was not a bad film, it was just too 'over the top'.
Hostage on the other hand is one of those serious 'no guts no glory' action films (that rarely seem to get made nowadays) and it is good as well. The acting in it is very good (I especially liked Ben Foster and to a somewhat lesser degree Jonathan Tucker) and I think that the 'chemistry' between Mars (Ben Foster) and Jennifer (Michelle Horn) could really be felt on as well as off screen. To be honest, all was good in the acting department, except one. I do not know why, but during the beginning of the film in the Talley mansion, i felt that Serena Scott Thomas (Mrs. Talley) was extremely out of place. I mean I could literally feel her acting (badly I might add). This is the only drawback to an otherwise brillian action flick! The action is well filmed, there are twists and surprises along the way and the ending is great as well. Be honest: What more does one want of a film but to be original, exciting and well acted? NOTHING! It's been a long time Bruce, but you deserve it once again for a serious action film...
8 out of 10
The Glass House (1972)
For rent at the local video store? It's amazing!
How many TV movies do you know of, that are for rent at the local video store? Not that many I bet ey? Well then how many do you know that are more than 30 years old? None I bet! I know of only one, and this is it! Although I must say that it cost me a pretty penny to rent this one (almost 6 euro's), I cannot say that money went to waste.
The idea of renting this film actually came from my parents who had seen this one on TV in the 70's. It had made a very deep impact on them and each time I'd watch a prison film with my dad he'd start about this one (just as he keeps saying that Le Collectionneur des cerveaux is a great film). When I finally looked it up on IMDb I was amazed that the film was written by the great Truman Capote, which then became one of the main reasons I wanted to see this film and I cannot say that I was disappointed.
The Glass House is a strong film about life in prison and still accurate and up to date more than 30 years later, since it depicts what is rotten at the core of the prison system. I do not imply that anything can done to change it, but I guess the film tells us the sad truth about human beings. What they will do for money, what they will do with power and eventually what they will do to each other.
The performances in this film are very good and since it is quite graphic for a 30 year old TV movie I can understand that it must have been quite shocking back in the day. Nowadays (after Shawshank and Animal Factory) you just are not as easily impressed anymore. I've seen worse on news channels to be honest and that in all honesty is the only part where the movie suffers from it's age. It's just not as raw, brutal and in your face as 30 years ago.
While I have to admit that the story has a pretty basic 'prison' movie plot, the direction, characters and the quality of the acting keep it interesting and exciting. Something not all movies from the 70's, hell even movies now accomplish. While this film hast lost some of it's edge to aging, I guess I have to agree with my parents and say that this is definitely a film that will stick around in your head. Maybe not the whole film but I bet that you'll remember the surprise ending. I know I will remember it, along with Vic Morrow's great performance.
7 out of 10