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the problem being that the film is somewhat uneven and praises art much more then it deserves. of course it is impossible to imagine that the makers of a film could ever see art as being anything less than all powerful.
what we are left with though is the feeling that if only Hitler had been allowed to put on a show then 50 million people may well have lived. this is both patronising and quite improbable. there are a couple of notable scenes, when Hitler explains how politics will become art (a nice twist from the usual 'art is political') and when he gives his first speech (truly gripping and you can feel the power of rhetoric) but this is a disjointed odd film. the comparisons between good and ill are just too hamfisted to work and the whole film feels slightly undercooked.
it is of interest but no more and as many other people have said the shadow of Mel Brooks and 'The Producers' looms large. Average...
simply fantastic. one of, if not the, most visceral films that i have ever had the pleasure to sit through. enough has been said about the cgi effects of gollum or the battle at helm's deep but what greater praise can you give a film like this except to say that it was as good as the fellowship of the ring.
Minority Report (2002)
confused mess of a film
well lets be fair. the first hour and a half arent confused and messy. not that im saying that they are original either, but they are ok. but then...but then instead of having the courage to end the film on a bleak downward note george gives us more film...and more film...and more film.
the end is simply horrific although at times it seems that spielberg just didnt know what type of film to give us (should it be all action? or maybe some comedy, hold on, now we need some suspense). the film should (IMHO) have been hard and bleak and fast and instead we are given a dribble ending that was just really so very poor.
phil k dick must shudder at what is done to his works (even the very good blade runner is simply nothing when compared to 'do androids dream of electric sheep?') and in many ways this film said nothing that hadnt already been said by stanley kubrick (nee anthony burgess) in clockwork orange over 30 years ago.
loads of reviews keep saying how this is the new 'dark' spielberg. to me, this was just the same cloying, sentimental, hamfisted spielberg.
in the shadow of the (much) better series
i suspect that one of the reasons that this film has such a high score is because it contains two very important words to many anime fans: 'cowboy bebop'. and thus it gets a lot of 10's. but it is because of its title that i cant give it that high a score.
this is an ok film, better then sum (spriggan) worse than others but the problem is that it is going with one of, if not the, finest series of anime ever. the characters are there but the story and the dialogue were not. and this is a real shame. eye candy is fine but there must be more to it than this, especially when compared to the epic story lines of 'real folk blues'.
its ok, but with 'cowboy bebop' that just isnt good enough.
Kaubôi bibappu (1998)
so good its just not real
a series that is so good it is just a shame that so few people will ever get to see it. its not the thing to get around loads of people and there are so many others that would refuse to watch it because: 'it's just a cartoon'.
well they are the unlucky ones. because this series is not only the best anime series that i have ever seen but it is the best series of any kind that i have ever seen. the characters, the dialogue, the awesome music, but most of all the writing. this is food for adults. for people that will be able, and willing, to empathise with what is in front of them.
and the end, my god the end. get a hold of this series. watch it. it really is that good.
well now, where to begin...this is a film that is trading on its shocking content. and after having seen the film then you can understand why. because once you remove the very explicit, unfaked sex and the really bad violence and gore (bad, as in it looked like someones home video. you know what i mean: 'throw some more tomato sauce on there to make it look scary...no, the one with chunks in') then you are left with the script and the story.
really bad dialogue. no, i mean really, really bad dialogue. pointless dialogue. no characterisation. no empathy (although that of course is the point), everyone was repellant. it all just seemed to go nowhere and say nothing. were the girls really fighting back against all those evil men?
this is a really bad film....oh, maybe that isnt that much of a spoiler then. maybe the raped one was, but the other? well who knows, and frankly who the hell cares either
***end of spoiler***
i am all in favour of films that try to go further and i hate censorship so i couldnt agree with anyone that this film should be banned. because you see, there is really no need to give it the oxygen it needs by giving it such publicity. in a year or two (a year?! who am i trying to kid), well, maybe in a month or two (a month?! who am i trying to kid...etc etc) then this film will be all but forgotten.
there should be shocking films. i have no desire for all films to be products of the disney corporation or a hollywood that is scared of far-right religious extremists. and indeed if you look back at many shocking films then in time re-evaluation has lifted the likes of 'clockwork orange' and 'psycho' to the classic status that they deserved. but i'm afraid that Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi are in little danger of being mistaken for Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick.
The Believer (2001)
human beings tend to like things in a binary fashion. we like to link things in pairs, mainly opposites. light and dark, hot and cold, love and hate. but to a certain extent this film tries to make it clear that in fact love and hate are not in fact opposites, but in reality are much closer then that. 'the believer' tries to draw attention to the very short step for when obsessive love can turn into hate.
the plot synopsis has been covered in detail by others but whilst i can see some of the complaints from some of the other reviewers i certainly cant see others. all films to an extent rely on suspension of disbelief, of things happening that if they did so in the real world (whatever that means) would draw incredulous looks (or at the least raised eyebrows). what works for me is the sense of the inner battle that is taking place inside Danny, and indeed highlighted in the changing flashback episodes within the film.
the film is not perfect (but then what film is?) but it is certainly thought provoking. danny's face when confronted with the idea of becoming the 'fund-raiser' for the new 'above-ground' fascism movement and the entire episode in which Danny and his gang are made to talk to 'real' jewish victims of the holocaust. and for me this was the best part of the film. the victims are shown in a non-unified way, arguing and squabbling amongst themselves. but two moments stand out in this sequence (this may be a SPOILER here), the first in which Danny says what i think that a lot of people now may think today. if your son (or wife or father) is being killed in front of you, then why dont you fight back, why dont you 'kill your enemy?' and secondly, and to me the key moment in the film, is when one of the jewish men tells of his son dying. tears are in Danny's eyes. one assumes that they are tears of pity of what the old man had to go through. but then the tears become one of rage and hate. why? maybe its because Danny felt sorry for someone he hated. and so the emotion which Danny does not wish to turn inward instead goes out. the tears disappear and the face hardens.
maybe what this film is trying to say is that if you take a look at what it is that people hate then you can easily see what it is they fear. a very good film that in the cinema where i saw it, when the titles came up the audience did not get up and rise as one to go back to the world. instead they sat there for a few moments thinking of what they had seen and of the questions that the film had asked of them.
Tonari no Totoro (1988)
perfect family film
well let me put it like this. im a 30 year old mature student and even my best friends criticise me for being too cynical. i hate disney and i prefer films and books that are more bleak and realistic. whilst i love films i hate 'movies' and i think that if the best thing that anybody can say about a film is that 'it is a mindless diversion' then to me that says that they are mindless.
and yet, and yet i couldnt stop myself from loving this film. this is obviously a fact that i wont tell everyone about (i have my hardcore hate the world reputation to keep up). but this was just a great film. of course i kidded myself that i only liked it because it was by the legend 'miyazaki' but in reality it was because it was a great film. it was free of the cloying setimentality that obscures most (very nearly all) childrens films. it was also free from the grotesque stereotypes that disney perpetrates in its quest to turn children into consumers.
if you have kids (not that i do) or if you are still a kid (erm...i'll think that i shall pass no comment here) then do yourself a favour and forget the weather and the bills and the demands and the news and all of that adult rubbish. sit back and be entertained. you know, i may even get this on dvd too...for my nephew and niece of course...
Koroshiya 1 (2001)
pointlessly shocking or shockingly pointless?
quite simply the most violent film that i have ever seen with a collection of torture scenes in which i really did have to avert my eyes from the screens because they really were that excruciating.
but that does not make it a good film though. anybody that has read all of the comments on this film will have noticed that everyone (and this obviously includes me) talks almost completely about the violence and nothing else. and this may well be because there is not an awful lot else to talk about. the story (derived from a manga) is wafer thin as is the characterisation but then, lets be fair, this is just a splatter film.
the CGI assisted violence is well done but, to me, the violence at times went well past the black humor threshold and was just plain unpleasant. i do happen to think that Miike is a talented guy (go see Audition which uses violence effectively) as a couple of sequences show. the start is incredibly visual and kinetic and the sequence where we learn all about how the cop ended up in the yakuza is really well done. but any soft touches are lost under a welter of blood and guts. he also handled very well the often uncomfortable link between sex and violence although at times it did really feel like a boys movie gone mad with the depiction of women.
so if you are not easily offended and like your films violent then sure, go and see it. on the other hand if you actually like your films to have a message, meaning or story then just dont. nice use of fish hooks though...
a tale of two halves really
i agree with a certain amount of what has already been said about this movie in the other reviews. the first half, well story, was much shorter and indeed much nastier whereas the second story was much more spread out and seemed to be a kind of update on 'happiness' with an added film crew.
i suppose the best thing, to me, about the 'fiction' half was that it was at times just so uncomfortable to watch. nearly everybody (nearly?) was just unpleasant and thus much truer to life then the usual film with an, easily identifiable, hero. but the second seemed just too unfocused. too loose and too many things that were trying to be said but were kind of left.
it is worth going to see although it is nowhere near as good as the awesomely uncomfortable 'happiness'. if nothing else we should be happy that there are still directors in america who are prepared to make films which are about morally ambiguous subjects with people who actually look like they come from the real world.
nice warm and a funny film
Although this is a film about a subject which has been covered before (gay couple and then along comes a woman who decides that she would like to have a child by one of them and the fall-outs and tensions that are created by this) it is a really nice and i found genuinely affecting film.
The film also strays into the territory of the changing social circumstances of modern Japan as well as the, nicely handled, scenes where you are shown more about the family relationships that exist in the present day.
Nice performances and a nice soothing sound track (with just a little Japanese twist). Maybe the best recommendation that i can give this film is that i nearly broke my ankle playing football before i went to see it and i had to walk back home in the pouring rain...and i did so with a big smile on my face thanks to this film.
The Pledge (2001)
a vaguely unsettling but very good film
this is a film of which it is of little surprise that it did not do very well in the USA. putting aside all comments on american film tastes and any snobbish comments this is a film that is not what most people would expect with the subject material.
it is less a study of a crime than a look at the nature of evil itself. it offers little help or redeeming endings that people seem to look for (and almost need) but instead offers a look at a man who is at odds with a crime and then slowly moves on to being at odds with himself. a great performance by jack nicholson (although not up there with his Chinatown) who offers a morally ambiguous performance of a man whos motivation could be for many different reasons.
having watched this film it made me think of two different quotations, one is "the banality of evil" and the other comes from the very talented director himself Mr. Sean Penn "No good deed deserves to go unpunished". A strong film which is at times quite unsettling, but at least a film that asks you to think about what you are being shown.
a real nice film for everyone
sure the moral of the story is plastered at the end but this really doesnt matter as to not like this film you would have to be emotionally dead. this really does have something for everyone with a story that always manages to stay on the right side of being too sweet for its own good. great animation and really good voice overs (although i thought that mike myers at one point was doing an impersonation of ewen mcgregor!) plus a nice soundtrack.
a great laugh and an uplifting film even for cinephile cynics like me..
Fah talai jone (2000)
funny but really just an ok film
i agree with a lot of the previous reviews for this film although there are a number of points that i find myself forced to disagree with. but first off this is a fantastic visual film with primary colours leaping off the screen with a few nice touches of black and white in the background to add contrast.
the acting is, well it depends on how you look at acting. all of the actors played their parts well although they were all cartoon cutout characters. special mention must be made of the oh so evil hitman with his pencil thin mustache (which had a distressing tendency to not always be in quite the same place) and the leading lady who was rarely stretched from the demands of looking lovely whilst looking into the middle distance with a slight frown on her face. she does however, deserve some credit for always being able to find her co-actors as in seemingly every close up she tended to disappear in a fog the likes of which has rarely been seen outside of an episode of the original 'Star Trek' (you can almost hear the director imploring his cinematographer to 'add more vaseline to the lens!').
but where the film fails for me is that it wishes to both have its cake and eat it. it is very happy and indeed very good at playing fast and loose with many different styles of cinema (sergio leone western with rocket launchers?!??! or a plot that is strictly 50's US b-movie fodder with sam peckinpah gouts of blood and copious slow-mo's) but it wishes to be both funny and touching and sad at the same time. this was a film that was crying out for an ending that was in keeping with the rest of the film but instead we got a (very) bad copy of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'. now CTHD has been mentioned in an earlier review here and while i can (just) see that you can link the two, if nothing else it has opened up more main-stream audiences to subtitles, to compare them is really very, very pointless. this is a good joking film that never takes itself seriously except at the worst time, the end. CTHD was simply excellent.
but if you want some pure entertainment then this film really does deliver. if you are a movie snob like me, then sure you can look down on it. but there would be little point in that as you would only be missing the point of the sheer silliness and entertainment that this film delivers (i really did love the bit with the teeth though!)
The Beach (2000)
a faithful adaptation of the book...
...which is a shame because the book is crap. it purports to tell us all what traveling is like and the wonderous things that happen to us and make us (deep breath for a wonderful americanism) 'grow'.
so what we have is a collection of people who are travelers but have found somewhere lovely and have...ermm...stopped traveling and instead created a lovely little utopian world. with no strife. or worries. or interest. having gone traveling from my point of view this film is utter drek. you go traveling for two reasons 1) to go and see and do different things and 2) to go home again. cos you see, if you dont go home then in fact you are NOT a traveler. you have stopped traveling. you are a traveler no more.
there was more sexual tension in the film then the book (not surprising since the book amazingly had no sexual enmity between all the young 20 somethings) but what the film did miss out on was the strife over the divisions of labour and who had to do what to contribute to the community.
instead, what we get is a collection of badly underwritten annoying people preening and sunning themselves in nice locations. so many people had no characterisation that it just hurt...until you realised how bad some of the others characters were and wished that they were similarly underwritten. it goes nowhere and says nothing. dicapricorn is an horrific actor and does less with the material he is given but the whole film is a shambolic mess. at least the book had the decency to admit that when richard went back to the world that he looked back at his time at the beach as though he was a different person. but no, what we get is leonard looking at a lovely holiday snap...forgetting that two of the people in the picture are dead (and that he killed one of them) or that another one of them pointed a gun at his head. but dont worry, cos it was a life affirming event and richard has 'developed' and 'grown'. well, thats all right then.
lord of the flies for the MTV generation who wouldnt recognise a film that has no minor things like a plot, or story or characterisation or anything really. buy it for someone you hate.
Sånger från andra våningen (2000)
i can see why it tied with blackboards
now first off i, kind of, agree with quite a few of the comments that have been said about this film. it is definitely quite unlike the majority of films that you are likely to be able to see this (or indeed most) year.
but there is just no way that i can salivate over it and call it a modern masterpiece. whilst the film is trying to say something, it is in the way that it says it that is most likely to arouse interest/hatred. yes the film is framed and yes the camera only moves once throughout the whole picture (perhaps we should ask why if the camera only moves once does it move at all?). but so what? is this done for aethestic reasons or because it helps to 'tell' the story?
this tied with blackboards at the cannes film festival in 2000 and one can only assume that the jury was so split in what films they wished to award that they chose a 'type' and could then not decide on either of these two. frankly i would have chosen this over blackboards...but it would have been close (oh the agony of choice or possibly the choice of agonies).
it shows that there was only one take on each scene and a non-professional cast was used but in films like these (i hate to put it in such a crass manner. but films like this are a type. they go out of their way to be different and obscure and as a result end up the same as all the rest of them) that is un-important. what is important is to deal with 'grand themes' and to be so oblique that it is very possible for people to read into whole scenes, if not the film, everything that they wish to see.
its hard to criticise as a film because it as a collection of short vignettes with no plot, very little links except in the case of one character and no character development. yes it is interesting but is it any good? well tastes being what they are it is hard to say. but the acclaim of being a masterpiece appears to be bestowed very quickly in this moderninst era (and yes, i got it. this is one of the targets of the film) but the only true test of any work of art is survival. so many films are made each year that the good are often buried under the weight of the advertising of the bad. but simply being bizarre is not enough. for films to survive they must be able to talk to people without knowing of them. which is why in the field of literature (much longer lasting then films will ever be) the true survivors are those that deal with humanity. films like this which attack modern society are doomed to be lost when the society is different. for this film contains little humanity in its essence within it. it is merely the struggle for survival in the current climate. you could show 'king lear' to a tribe in papua new guinea and they would understand it, you could not show this film to people from 30 years ago and maybe you wouldn't be able to show this film in 30 years time. it is marooned in the time in which it was made.
films like this are in reality 10 a penny if you are prepared to look hard enough. opaque and esoteric stories are always of interest but there are films that are out there that say more and are not so obsessed with being different about it.
if you are tired with hollywood then for sure give it a go but there are plenty of other films dealing with some of the subjects here that are a thousand times more coherent and in my opinion (and of course that means as much or little as you let it) are simply better. yes, family relationships are a struggle ('magnolia' and 'yi yi') and the modern world can be a trial of humanity but showing off modern society as quite happy to deal with human sacrifce and modern day flagellants seems to merely highlight the issues rather than offering any suggestions. either the emperor has no clothes or he does and you just have to close your eyes (and open your mind perhaps) to see them.
wow, the stereotypes
surely in the history of films there can never have been any greater collection of stereotypes in a single film. no opportunity has been missed to come up with characters such as 'Nick the Greek' and Hatchett Harry. In england we complained about what mel gibson chose to do in his awful awful films of braveheart and patriot but we seem to be quite happy to let someone british do the same thing. i suppose that i should feel grateful that noone from birmingham was in it, we would have been portrayed as having a broad accent and being thick no doubt.
before anyone accuses me of having a humour bypass, yes i know that this is intentional. i know that they are cardboard cutout villains but that really is no excuse for having a cardboard cutout script. never before have i watched an entire film in which every line appeared to be written down before it was spoken. everything was delivered as though it was all some little in joke that we should all find funny. and i agree with one of the earlier reviewers, vinnie jones CANNOT act. he was in good company here however, since nobody in this film.
it appears that this is no-more than a remake of the 'Italian Job' except without a few things, like the 60's style, noel coward, the script, the acting oh, but we were at least rewarded with not one person being michael caine, but at least 6 people trying to be him. only they all failed. badly.
this really is the film that launched a thousand british gangster films, they have all been bad. but in that sense they have lived up to imitation being the most sincere form of flattery. for the british readers of this, to me this was like watching an extended episode of 'only fools and horses' with more guns and swearing. pitiful and grotesquely overhyped.
Yi yi (2000)
Films like American Beauty give rise to a huge amount of hype, they are hailed as being intelligent and having things to say. The reason that they stand out so much is that in the multiplexes in which they are shown, the cause of their difference to the family comedies and juvenile violence, is by actually having something called 'Character Development'.
This would appear to be a foreign issue to the majority of film makes. But luckily for some cinema goers, it is not a foreign area for people like Edward Yang. 'Yi Yi' is an exquisite observation of a family in which all the ages are represented at varying stages of life. From the father struggling to retain his sense of thinking that work is still important, his wife struggling with the illness of her mother. And his children learning in their own ways about what life has to offer, both of which like everyone else in the film are superbly acted.
Life rolls through every one of these characters and the annoying stereotypes that to a certain extent ruined American Beauty, for me anyway, are not here. Every character is superbly drawn and fantastically beautiful. For some people no doubt this film would be hell. Three hours of dialogue and a story which purports to show nothing more than life being lived. It is a great example of the art of writing however, that the characters remain with us long after the film has finished.
Although the entire cast was terrific one performance, for me, rose above the norm. It was Issey Ogata in the role of the cutting edge games designer Ota. His speech of our fear of newness when surely every day is unique really did take my breath away. It is a superbly shot film but the editing is excellent. So many times there were cross-fertilisation of ideas and story strands. When we could see the same relationship being played out in three very different stages amongst the members of the same family.
People may complain that maybe not a lot happens, that people don't really go anywhere and nothing is resolved. To me, however, this is a slice of life. Of all of our lives as we try to make sense not only of those around us but of ourselves. The closest recent film that i have seen to this is 'Magnolia' and while i would certainly recommend that whole-heartedly, there have been very few films that i have felt so accurately portrayed people as being people as 'Yi Yi'.
This is a film that reminds me of how good films can be. It also reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to enjoy and appreciate being moved by three hours of skill and effort. Simply breathtaking.
visually disturbing and indeed mentally disturbing too
this is really not a film for the faint hearted. i really mean that. there were a couple of occasions when i just couldnt bring myself to look at the screen and i really wanted my ears to stop working at the same time.
it is a fairly low budget psychological drama of a man who is middle aged and lonely. he wants to get married and so a friend of his on the tv/movie business holds sham auditions (a very, very funny sequence in the film) so that he can...aha...take his pick. He doesn't choose all that well it has to be said.
more than just a horror film though it does manage to look at the state of relationships and what people want from each other as well as having some absolutely fantastic set pieces. at times it may drift very nearly into looking like a low budget grotesque shock horror type film but the overall atmosphere is so unpleasant that it never falls this far for too long.
if you get the chance then give this a chance but two things are guaranteed 1) you will look at acupuncture differently and 2) anyone saying 'kiri, kiri, kiri' in a high pitched voice will make your heart beat just that little bit quicker!
Titan A.E. (2000)
a million spent on the eye and not one penny on the ear
oh dear oh dear. it all looks so lovely and even though matt damon sounds as though he really was in a studio, the sound and music are great. but my god, the script and worse (even) the story...!
a great mixture of computer animation and cartoon action really dazzle the eye and can begin to lull you into a false sense of security...right up to the point in which people begin to actually talk to each other. 'character is action' (so said f.scott fitzgerald) and this is true whether you're talking about the film which managed to close down fox's animation department (i can only hope that they threw away the scriptwriters too) or the film is a 30 second short. and what characters we are given here...
this follows the same well trodden disney path in managing to make any non-human character a grotesque stereotype in the most cliched and lazy way possible. a good case (even apart from the floppy fringed, square jawed all-american hero lead character) is the intelligent buggy character. how likely is it that in a thousand years if youre intelligent not only will you still be a nerd...but that you'll wear glasses?! not really is it. ooops, almost forgot to mention the feisty leading girl, managing to hit all her marks as action girl...with attitude (stop me if you've heard of all of these characters before). the human characters are just as bad. they are all cliches, the bad guy with the change of heart, the evil, wicked fairy queen...ooops, i mean pure energy queen. i can't even begin to imagine what the bad guys motivation was for chasing these layabouts, boredom perhaps.
and then there was the story, or more correctly the non-story. it managed to go all the way from a to b...stopping everywhere in between. part star wars (cliched 'good' vs. nasty old 'evil') and part star trek (cliched characters and cultural propaganda) and is as bad as both of them. no surprises, no twists, no character development (certainly not the leads volte-face in deciding to save the human race...gee thanks mate). just soooo predictable, unengaging and that word again...lazy. heres an idea to anyone who wants to make a good film (notice, good, not just a film but a good film): write a good script. thats it. if you do that then you have a chance. but if you dont have that then you are doomed regardless of whatever else you do.
im sure that many people reading this will think 'give it a break, its just...' and as soon as that word is used then you have no leg to stand on. because if this is a cartoon which wishes to be a film then it must be judged on its merits, i.e. as a film. and it is lacking, badly lacking. it is a film with a story that 6 year olds could follow. forget what it looks like. close your eyes and listen to the dialogue (but not for long, you may go deaf...if you're very lucky) and then tell me if its a good film. maybe fox were really pitching at the family territory with this film but the problem is that the market for this type of film (animated/manga) is just a little too old and sophisticated to really care about a boy who just wants to *sniffle* see his dad again. Akira is being re-relased on DVD in july, THAT is what an animated film should be. that is not to say they should all be disturbing (perfect blue) or violent (ghost in the machine) but to be taken seriously they have to be good. this is not, this is rubbish and should be treated as such. judge with your mind, NOT your eyes. 1/10
good intentions but so let down by a packaged ending
This is not a bad film. It really isn't. Unlike the series from which it is based it misses out on where the drugs come from, who grows then and why they're grown in the first place. I imagine that this was done for space reasons.
The film attempts to show the tangled web that drugs weave whilst looking at the effects that they have on individuals and it actually manages to come close to pulling it off. Almost. But then you get the all too neat and very packaged ending which simply ruined all that had gone before it.
This has a vary good cast and for a (long) while it is a very, very good film. The immense pressures on people in Michael Douglas' position, the intelligence to realise that annoying some people doesn't make them angry, it gets you dead (a fantastic Benicio Del Toro). It shows the difference between the feel-good' rhetoric of drugs are the enemy of youth etc etc.' and the actualities of the people who are moving the drugs and making huge sums of money. Putting aside the vagaries of the plot demands in which the latest US drug tsar's daughter is free-basing like it's going out of fashion (which it is unlikely to) as well as the (massively out acted Catherine Zeta-Jones) hideously unbelievable episode of a drug barons wife taking over the reigns whilst he languishes in prison. It all kind of hangs together and it is a nice touch that the various strands of the story are colour coded, Mexico in an arid brown and the daughters world collapsing whilst bathed in ice-cold blue light.
But then, well, then near the end it all just falls to pieces. I knew the film was in danger as soon as Michael Douglas began to falter in his talk to the press, beginning with the inevitable clichés and platitudes with which these people (i.e. politicians always talk) but ending with the clichés and platitudes that only actors ever say. The film started off with the whiff of realism in the air but only managed to finish with the stench of Hollywood obscuring all vision. What was the end supposed to mean? That good people who stick together with love and hope can conquer the evils of drugs? That bad people will get caught and pay for their crimes in the end? Steven Soderbergh said that he wished to avoid telling a story in which the audience felt like they were being educated. Well he certainly managed that.
Drugs are probably the single biggest problem facing the western world at the moment and yet only one character (a friend of the daughter) actually looks at the prevailing conditions in society that limit some people to no opportunities and no chances. No hope and no future. And if I had that to look forward to, then maybe I'd be buying small bags of white powder to obliterate my brain cells as well. In fact the only character that has any inkling of how to really control the influx and threat of drugs is that of Benicio Del Toro. At least his character understands that the way to eliminate drugs is to reduce the demand. Give children hope and a future (even if this means in the film that it is that age old apple pie favourite of the states (*yawn*) baseball) and then maybe they will say no' themselves. And if everybody does that, then drugs cease to exist.
The film has its heart in the right place but it ultimately lacked the courage to see its intentions through. It was truly hard to care about the daughter (a better story of the utter blitzkrieg that drugs can do to an individual is Requiem for a Dream') and the end of that strand was utterly bland and clichéd. Much better (in my opinion anyway) would have been to let people see that whilst the fight goes on, there isn't a lot of hope, and precious little chance of victory whilst the world stays as it is at the moment.
what really was the point?
well ive seen the original and despite the fact that this has loads more money on the budget and had a fine actor in samuel l jackson there really seems no reason for the existence of this film.
the first was a great blaxploitation film which had something to say and was relevant to the time in which it was made. here we have cardboard cutout racists and a samuel l 'feeling' the pain of the victims while at the same time beating up anyone who gets in his way. it just feels so standard and by the numbers that it just feels like a hundred other films. and it would appear that the racism that was in the first film has been twisted ever so slightly but remains in the second. little has changed. but a lot should have been changed in this film. like the script...and the plot. to begin with
really nothing special
well this is a film that basically shows you what you are gonna see from minute one. it never deviates from this path either in story (banal and unoriginal), characterisation (non-existant except for those people who you wish it were non-existant) and plot twists (none).
it is just a standard action flick with a bored looking james woods looking like he is waiting to be told what to do. boring violence, feeble characterisation of women and dull and unoriginal. this film offers nothing that hasn't been done before, except when it manages to be awful. which it is.
this is a film which is just lacking. in everything.
like life, you get out what you put in...
When i watched this film i knew that it would be the type of film that would polarise all those who saw it, there would be many who would love it and many who would not. That is easy to justify when you see how many comments that exist for this film, and yet the score that this film has and it's place in the top #100 would appear to say that many more people who liked it were bothered to place a vote.
There are many criticisms in earlier comments, in my opinion some more justified than others but a few I really can't let go past without saying more about them. First up, and most fundamental i think is the criticisms that this is a film that doesnt say anything, that it lacks a narrative structure. That people just didn't get the start and that the film seemed to take so long to say so little (or in the words of some, to take 3 hours to tell us the obvious). But i have problems with this criticism, this is not a film that is a simple story teller, it is a film that deals with more a fundamental issue than a beginning, a middle and then an end. The vast majority of Shakespeare's plays all follow the same narrative structure, introduce the situation and characters, then allow destructive change to happen and then resolve the drama in an entertaining and hopefully illuminating manner. But this film is not like that...
For a start it is set in one day, it is a day in the life of people, of ordinary people. People like me who write how I feel about this film, and people like you who will read it. And in each of the days that tick by us they have a beginning (we wake up) and an end (guess what, we go to bed again) but everything else, everything else is middle. And that is what this film is. It does not tell a story as much as let as look at peoples lives for a brief moment in time. That is it's structure. It makes demands of you as a watcher, you can't just switch on and off as and when you please. You must work, you must concentrate. If you do not then the film will pass you by.
The second big criticism is that of the amount of swearing and this I find vaguely mystifying. This is an adult film, made by adults for an adult audience. And this is how people talk, this is how I talk. You may not swear and that's fair enough, that is your choice. But if you don't like it, then go and watch Disney films in which they are so busy trying not to offend anyone that no-one is satisfied by the brain-rotting, anaemic, mass-produced, sterilised 'products' that they issue. I find it strange that in the year 2001 mainly Americans will complain about swearing in films and yet find it easy to ignore the fact that they live in a society that is awash with so much worse...
But as to the film itself. I started another comment on a film in IMDB with a famous F.Scott Fitzgerald quote that 'Character IS action'. And this is what this film gives the watcher. The chance to participate and watch in the great game of life. To see how much of life is chance and how amazing are the co-incidences that go to make life as it is. The fact that how we look at life as we see it today is filtered by everything that has gone yesterday. The fact that we all want someone to love, and someone to love us. To connect to another. To feel, to be. To compare films is useless. Orwell said that to compare works of art to each other was as pointless as to compare an apple to an orange. Orwell also said that to attempt to define works of art as being good is also useless. Art can be judged by only one thing. Survival. If a work of art exists out of the time in which it was created than it does so for one reason and one reason only, because it is able to say something to us without knowing of us. I agree with many of the people here when they say that the big films of 1999 will come and go, and Magnolia will remain. It deals with what it is to be human, and for good or ill that very rarely changes. If you want explosions or a 90 minute package then look elsewhere. If you want to put in effort and hopefully to be rewarded with a film that long after you have seen it is still with you then give Magnolia the effort that it deserves. Is 3 hours really such a price to pay for the smile at the end of it?
Judge Dredd (1995)
what a chance wasted
oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. it's hard to judge this without comparing it to one of the greatest comic characters (and certainly the greatest comic character to emerge from this sceptered isle, 'Dan who?').
the opening scene is great, a visualisation of what Mega-City 1 looks like as first thought of by the great artist Carlos Ezquerra. But then it just goes down hill. And fast. It takes a great, bleak, blackly funny view of a near future (and in some cases present day view of America) and ignores everything that makes the comic great. Instead it turned it into a standard rogue cop with buddy type movie. The whole idea of Judge Dredd was that he was the perfect embodiment of the legal system. He never fought the system because he WAS the system. In all its brutal and unpalatable forms.
JD's greatest ever writer wrote a screenplay for this film (the i'm not worthy to type his name JOHN WAGNER *sigh*) but the studio merely wanted to have it off him for peanuts. he told them where to go and as a result a great character (and indeed great enemies) were wasted by a film that said nothing new. and in many cases said it very badly as well.
The only bright spot is that JD has been taken over (2000AD for the first time in it's history is being run by people who are actually fans of it, go go go Rebellion, run with it and make things happen) and who knows maybe we will one day see ol' Joe Dredd in all his big chinned, tight booted, fascist glory. Maybe as a cartoon (think Akira, not bugs bunny) and maybe as a film but if anybody saw this film and thought what rubbish. well, you are right. but get a hold of the comics (especially 'Song of the Surfer' or 'America') and see why this film was attacked on sight by all fans of the comic. Oh and by the way, in the 24 years (yes, 24 years) readers have never seen JD's face. And if we do, it's not gonna look like Stallone.
'No-one is innocent citizen. We're just here to determine the level of your guilt'. Joe Dredd. Crime Blitz. Mega City One