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I have a hard time with falling for certain directors, so I usually go by a film by film basis as opposed to liking someone's whole body of work (for example, I like Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, but I could acre less for th Godfather films and his recent trend of giving work to his family members, though Sofia has some talent).
I don't care much for trends in film making, but if the movie is good, then that's how I'll look at it. I'm very opinionated, so if you see your favorite film on my list, you might not like it. Carpe Diem
The Purge (2013)
The idea was bigger than the movie
Let's face it, when a mainstream Hollywood film is made, closed minded, money grubbing executives are the ones who ultimately ruin the product. They value money and accessibility over making something that is risky and potentially historic. This sort of mentality is really the only thing that holds back "The Purge," and a common echo that will be heard on this film's comment boards is the fact it had so much potential.
But even then that mentality could be reminiscent of the story at hand, where Ethan Hawke's character James Sandin makes boat loads of money (literally) but blinds himself to the actual truth of the annual Purge. Too bad the people making the film didn't have a realization to the truth and release their violent tendencies much like James Sandin. But either way, despite all of the punches that are pulled, the film brings up a lot of speculation that makes it more interesting to a sophisticated film goer even though it is advertised as your typical kill fest of the week. While popcorn movie watchers will watch for the violent implications, pretentious snobs like myself will find something much deeper, much more sinister. While the class warfare angle has been overplayed the last couple years, this film managed to turn the idea into actual violence. And while conservatives might just label this as typical anti-wealth liberal Hollywood trash, it is actually quite an allegory for 2nd Amendment enthusiasts and fiscal conservatism. "Purging" the poor has saved America, unburdening the country of "parasites" and in turn, has helped create a smaller and more efficient government (presumably) and allowing poor people like James Sandin unprecedented upward mobility through unfettered capitalism. I especially found it interesting when his neighbors turn on Sandin, once again showing classism-based jealousy is not just a poor/wealthy paradigm, but also an affliction that ensnares the upper crust.
While all of these things were there for the taking, the direction was what turned "The Purge" into another run of the mill pseudo horror film. I believe this is where too many people put there opinion into the fray. Imagine the response if the film had some of these scenarios: The people in the masks actually were the neighbors or Sandin was less virtuous, taking advantage of The Purge to make money and not giving a damn about the carnage or implied ethos, or maybe the homeless man they let into the house was truly guilty, an escaped murderer or child molester. The social implications could have gone any way, but even though the filmmakers took the easy way out, the ending still had some interesting implications at the end. I won't say The Purge is great, but at least it wasn't an unmitigated train wreck.
Miami Connection (1987)
A ridiculous collection of bad acting, action, editing and whatever else goes into a movie--and I enjoyed every ridiculous moment
When I first saw the trailer for 'Miami Connection," my mind was literally blown. I knew the 1980s was a wasteland of Troma garbage and horrible B films, but this film had something more than your run of the mill awfulness. It was epic. It was beautiful. It was bad 80s pop music, complete with bad feel good lyrics you might see in some TV show, the kind of song a writer comes up with on the spot because that's what they think the "youth" music sounds like. Never mind the bad acting, editing, and overall quality of the film transfer--that was something I was expecting. What I wasn't expecting was the bad after school special side- plots, the rampant homo eroticism, the most bizarre and random gang of thugs ever assembled and the sheer 80s-ness of the film. What I really loved was the over acting by the extras in the film. They must have known that they would never get another chance to be in a film, so they hammed it up for all to see.
Now I will remind you, if you aren't into watching films that are bad enough to make Mystery Science Theater 3000, then you surely will not get the sheer awesomeness of this awful movie. If you like straight comedy or action films, then I suggest you stay away and save your money. As for the rest of us, enjoy.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
A great achievement in filmmaking
In all the years I've loved and enjoyed movies, one thing that has become consistent with the current trend of filmmaking is the lack of passion. We see tons of movies all the time that simply wish to make money and bore us with their product tie-ins in tow. But Cloud Atlas, thankfully, bucks that trend.
It is only fitting that a wonderful group of talented individuals congregated to make this film, beginning with the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. Despite their two different viewpoints of filmmaking, combined to make a consistently beautiful piece of film that flows as perfectly as time itself. Never once did this film feel like a three-hour epic, much in the same way one can watch Magnolia and never feel like your time has been intruded upon. While the whole idea of connectivity beckons like any edict from a far eastern religion, it is done so in a way that allows us to see the obvious connections without noticing the lesser ones (staying for the credits certainly helped with that, though I wished they hadn't revealed those connections). Some might think the $100 million price tag is a bit much for a rather dangerous "art" film, I think the crew managed it quite well considering so many big movies need $150+ just to pay for the sound and visual effects. It comes as no surprise to me that X Filme was the primary production company, for the European filmmaking mindset (which isn't totally concerned with money) was far more suited for this production. I'm sure many will call it a failure due to the many years it will take to recoup the money, but sometimes, art needs to appreciate in order to make its money.
Cloud Atlas wasn't perfect, but the problems were purely nominal. I'm talking about the make-up, which was a no win situation from the beginning. You just can't make someone Caucasian look like a real Asian, and vice versa. I don't know, perhaps it would have been better to not change their appearance at all, possibly adding another layer of connectivity that is only obvious to the audience, a bit of dramatic irony so to speak. Either way, I was more than happy with the end product.
Oh the loathsome treachery of Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay....
I kept telling myself, that this is a bad franchise and my childhood was raped and corrupted by the evil fascists that are Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. But like pretty light is to a moth, I felt compelled to watch and once again stumbled into my own fiery death.
Dark of the Moon is filled with so much lunacy and idiocy, the numbing effect of this movie has created a generation of stunted, mindless zombies that continue to flock to this detritus and fill the coffers of evil, vile men that were once artists and created movies one could enjoy and not have their intelligence completely insulted. Bay used to make decent action films, and even The Island asked some heady questions between the explosions and chases. Now he is just a parody, and bad one at that. Spielberg should be even more ashamed with himself. He is plopping three horrible films on the public this summer (Super 8, Dark of the Moon, and Cowboys and Aliens) that lack any sense, logic or even a script. We are culpable in turning once talented men into black hearted corporate barons. These people don't even have to try anymore and people throw money into their laps.
The movie itself is an insult to film making in general, utilizing a plot that completely disregards the other two movies. But due to the disposable nature of the franchise and each of its chapters, very few people will care or even notice. The idea of a 50-year plan to attack Earth is ambitious in its scope, but all of the plot holes and inconsistencies from the first two movies coupled with bad clichés and stereotypes leaves a more savvy film goer a bit disillusioned. It all comes back to the idea that the movie is about explosions and robots on robot violence. Why don't they just do that instead of waste our time for two and a half hours with nonsense they pass off as plot.
The acting was bad, the action was overblown, and the film was littered with stupidity and scientifically incorrect moments (like buildings falling over and Shia LeBeouf surviving a harrowing ship ride that crashed and rolled but he miraculously survived) as well as other moments. I could keep going, but I'm getting a headache trying to wrap my head around this movie.
I'm done with this franchise. Plain and simple. Enjoy if you like people...I'm moving on.
Taiyô no ko Esteban (1982)
An Adventure show well ahead of its time
Being a Nickelodeon child of the mid-eighties, The Mysterious Cities of Gold was quite the main stay for the four years it was on. I remember enjoying it due to the fact it was styled after the likes of Transformers, G.I. Joe, and a variety of other Japanese made cartoons that used the more realistic vision of the human characters.
But on the other hand, it was the story that really set this show apart. I guess you could say it was revolutionary, especially since it was one continuous story and didn't have any product tie- ins. Plus, it was so unique from a cultural aspect, portraying the jungles of South America and utilizing Inca legend as opposed to the more Euro-centric choices that dominated the mainstream. The ideas were quite incredible, from a solar powered ship to the Olmecs being some weird, alien-like race made for some interesting viewing. Plus, throw-in the darker aspects of the story (abandonment, father-son relations, greed vs. the right thing) and you have a relatively complex show that was supposedly aimed for kids.
It was too bad we never did see the adventures of the other cities of gold like the end of the cartoon alluded to, but at least we got 39 episodes to fully appreciate.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Oldschool Coens at their best
After some real clunkers (Intolerable Creulty, The Ladykillers and that bad Superbowl ad), it looked like the Coens might slip into the subconscious of Americana. But they came back with a vengeance in No Country For Old Men. Tapping into their earlier, much darker work like Blood Simple, Fargo and Barton Fink, they once again crated a work that will nicely compliment body of work.
The truly brilliant detail in NCFOM was the story the Coens didn't tell. Sure, we are engrossed in a cat and mouse game between a simpleton and a cold-blooded sociopath, but it is the other little details that allows you to create your own conclusions about the characters and the story. Why does it seem that everyone is constantly running from the past? Why is Anton Chigurh such an introvert? And why did Llewellyn Moss give up his simple life so easily to essentially become a bum? These are all questions that are not asked but are created when watching this movie.
I especially like the fact that all of the characters back story was reveled more in their voices and dialogue rather than being explored through contemplation and back story. One example is Tommy Lee Jones, who's character is so devoid of strength and conviction that the horrors of the real world seem to shake him to his foundation. His retirement at the end only prove that he didn't have what it takes to take someone down like Chigurgh. This is where I believe the title's significance comes into play. His character, due to his gage, was no match for a man that was far more prepared than he.
But the most amazing aspect of the film was the Coen Bros. belief in leaving a lot of the story up to the viewer. In the end, the overall lesson is that money will corrupt any situation, much like the little boys at the end fighting over a bloody 100 dollar bill. This film is truly a revelation, and second only to There Will Be Blood as the best of 2007.
Southland Tales (2006)
This isn't an art or cult film, its just plain bad
Sorry, I couldn't pontificate enough about the mess that was Southland Tales. Sure, it was broad, intriguing and certainly strange enough to be a cult classic, but the whole idea of a cult classic is that it should have some semblance of being a good film.
Richard Kelly clearly made this movie for himself and for himself only. Sure, the movie cost very little to make, but I think most people would have put the money to better use. Its so self indulgent, so esoteric that the idea revolves in some alternate little world that only exists in Kelly's muddled mind. Where do you start?
Clearly, the whole alternate time line stuff did not fly with me. The primary idea of making a neo-futuristic movie is to put it in the future, not start it in the past. Its one thing to say that a nuclear war was started in Abilene, Texas, but it is another thing to say it started years before the suggested time line of the movie. Therein lies the first big problem with Southland Tales. There is no Urban Pacification Units, there is no USIdent and there is no weird scientist creating a new energy source to ween us off of oil. Now, if this movie was placed in the near future, like say seven or eight years from now, then the audience is instantly drawn into the fantasy and the impact of the images. Instead, the audience is lost and they know they are watching a movie.
Which leads to the casting of this farce. Could Kelly have gotten any more power mad from his past Donnie Darko success? The Rock? Sarah Michelle Gellar? Multiple Cast-offs from Saturday Night Live? More than half the cast was miscast in this film, especially Justin Timberlake and Many Moore. Why didn't Kelly realize this? Did he want to see John Larroqeutte and Kevin Smith in the same room just for the heck of it? What the hell was he thinking!
We move onto the directing. Everyone is forcing their lines out, like they have idea what's going on because the director is too busy counting his royalty cash from Donnie Darko. Kelly wrote some graphic novels to help supplement his main story, and the acting tin the film seems to mimic that of comic book acting. The weird expressions, the over the top facial ticks and the turn in characters that seem to sudden. This is a movie, not a comic book. Just because The Rock can stare off into the distance and squint really well, doesn't mean that is acting.
I could keep going? Like what the hell was the random Killers' video in the movie? Or why was Wallace Shawn the so-called creator of the new power source but Curtis Armstrong seemed to be more knowledgeable of it? And did we really need the stupid line "Pimps don't commit suicide."
To the haters out there, yes, I did understand the story. I got the whole Messianic connection of Roland Taverner and how the corruption of God and religion could lead to the eventual apocalypse, but do we really need these story archetypes. Kelly should have just stripped this sucker down and concentrate on making a movie rather than making some crappy student film.
There Will Be Blood (2007)
A grand old Epic with modern touches
Call it socialist, anti-religion, anti-capitalist----whatever. There Will Be Blood is truly the best movie to come out in a long time. Its a rarity to see a film take a huge leap with such a stunning indictment on not one, but two relevant institutions in current society. And it is done so in a solid and deliberate manner which fully illustrates the madness that is created by hate and greed.
There Will Be Blood hardly pulls any punches. Greed consumes all. The hopeful heart is easily manipulated. The quest for pomposity blackens the heart. Family is only relevant in comparison to the mighty dollar. There are all lessons that humanity must battle everyday, and Paul Thomas Anderson throws all of these struggles onto the shoulders of two men, Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday. Both are manipulative, both talk of grander, more majestic worlds that stir the imagination, and both would seek untold riches at any cost. Its an interesting battle that the pair have for much of the film, fighting to gain a leg up on each other but also playing with the hearts and minds of those they directly affect. Some might call this a direct attack on the oil industry and Evangelical Christians, but the movie merely depicts both areas for what they truly---corruptible, just like everything else. Its a relatively fair statement, considering both Palinview and Sunday are much different and far more idealistic in their earlier depictions in the film.
Anderson's visual work was also quite astonishing, making the bleak landscapes a character unto themselves. He also made the movie work with a relatively unknown cast of actors, which gave the film so much more depth in its characters because you could believe them. Paul Dano's whiny Eli Sunday was a perfect juxtaposition to Daniel Day Lewis' Daniel Plainview. One uses his anger and hatred for power while the other uses manipulation and ignorance. And the even more interesting thing is that both statements could apply to either character.
There Will Be Blood is easily the best movie of 2007, much less of any decade. Go and watch it.
A Different kind of monster movie not created by idiots
The Host by now means is an exceptional movie. For the most part, it follows a lot of the same devices that have made bad American films (Primeval for example) such unwatchable tripe. But at least with this film, it takes on a few different conventions that allow us to enjoy the film.
While the back story on the beast is a little ludicrous, we at least get to see what it looks like almost immediately. While an American version would certainly drag this type of imagery out, we get to see what the beast is quite early and quite often. From the first scene to the last, it is a pretty believably scary monster. Throw in the fact that this movie isn't sanitized for stupid teeny- boppers with its R rating, we get to see some true guts and blood.
A couple elements in the middle of the movie did drag on for a bit too long, but at least this type of scenes weren't used to build unnecessary build-up in the first half. I think a 7/10 is a good fit for this movie.
Decent, but weighed down by a sloppy script and humans
We all knew the Transformers would be well made, well crafted creatures due to the utter genius that is Industrial Light and Maghic. But its too bad the human element was what bogged this movie down.
Sure, we'll watch the movie, but there was just too much exposition and for us impatient, Ritalin-riddled miscreants of the world, it was excruciating. First of all, the script was pretty lousy. Now I know the guy who wrote this film supposedly wrote X-Men, but lets face it, that was a good seven years ago. There were plenty of things that could have been chopped out of this film. Now I understand the producers wanted to get a little titillation with Raechel Taylor and Megan Fox, but they were both dead weights to the movie and the movement. Without those two, we could get rid of Anthony Anderson, another waste of words, and maybe even expand Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson's roles. Either way, the female element in the film was completely useless. Let's face it, guys watched this cartoon growing up, and we want action, violence and lots of transforming. Who fricking cares if Shia LeBouf's character gets some action. Its completely irrelevant. It would have also been nice to see some conflict between Megatron and Starscream.
The only other thing I didn't like was the awful soundtrack. The strings portion of the film was pretty substandard, borrowing the most generic themes one could possibly imagine. Then there is the random songs and generic heavy metal they try to slip in. It was like the people who mixed the film took a lesson from the dopes that mixed Daredevil, which had an equally awful mixture of CD sales-friendly mixing.
But I digress. For those that had doubts about the transforming, it was put to rest rather quickly. Dazzling to say the least, it was as realistic as one could have hoped for, making the transformations rather cool. ILM must have put their best and brightest on this movie, because it certainly shows. This brilliance alone made up for the bad exposition and substandard characters.
I gave this film a "7" simply because it was entertaining, but they are gonna have to tighten up the screws for future sequels. People won't put up with unnecessary characters and bad music for very long.
A Slipping-Down Life (1999)
Just interesting enough to be watchable
A Slipping down life was shelved for many years, and the lack of real hipness or accessibility is probably to blame for this. Helmed by two indie stars Lili Taylor and Guy Pearce, this film was held back simply because neither person could conceivably carry this film.
But unlike some crappy movies that see a rebirth it didn't deserve, ASL was quietly pushed into the underground cinema and then quickly reborn on cable. And while this doesn't sound good on paper, ASL actually surprises you a little with some of the little nuances within each character's performance (with the exception of Sara Rue and Shawnee Smith---ugh!!). Lili Taylor exhibits yet another introverted woman who is somewhat shunned not just due to her nature but also her looks. Much like previous films Dog Fight and even The Haunting (where her character was visibly overwhelmed by Catherine Zeta-Jone), Taylor makes you believe she is her character rather than an actor. And some people say method acting is dead.
Guy Pearce is especially interesting in this film. I especially liked the transgression of him embodying all the things his father hates and then turning into his father near the end. It was a strange transformation but an effective one. And its even more impressive how he can cover up his deep Australian with an effective North Carlina twang.
While the plot was pretty random at best, at least these two performances added some life to a film that would have been altogether listless.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
As good as a non-sequential sequel goes
Now a lot of people were initially skeptical about this movie. No Jim, no Naomi and no Hannah in this movie. You got to be kidding me!! It looked like a lame attempt by some lame Americans trying to Americanize (therefore making it lame) a perfectly good Euro-thriller. What we got was something far different.
28 Weeks can't top 28 Days, which is something I want to mention right away. But this film was surprisingly effective. While it did possess some plot holes, they were not enough of an issue to make the movie unwatchable. What we get with this installment is a taut and gripping movie that is both political and intriguing in its composition. From the first scene of Robert Carlisle running for his life to the last, we get a sense that the gloom and doom of this world follows the original vision of the film a little more closely. We all know Danny Boyle wanted Jim to die a the end of 28 Days Later...., but he chose to make the ending much happier. This movie is just downright bleak, a perfect reminder that not all cool movies need to be happy at the end to leave a feeling of satisfaction when you leave the theater.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo did the best he could even though he had to use the cheap mediums of CGI to get the same effect 28 Days Later did without them. But one thing he did maintain was just the downright creepiness of the Rage victims. Unrelenting and genuinely scary, their thirst is still quite a sight to see. While the ambiguous ending laid the foundation of another sequel, at least they proved a movie with a completely different cast and crew can still carryover quite well.
Pretty awful, but you still can't turn away
I'll never understand Harmony Korine. Ever. A perfectly good talent being put to waste in this rather stagnant, dull and ridiculous "movie." You can't really call Gummo a movie, simply due to the fact that it seems to be more of a confession of inner turmoil or an indictment of modern ignorant rednecks. Neither extreme would surprise me.
It's strange, while some people would call this movie hilarious or touching or whatever, I just called it utter crap. One painfully blunt scene after another, one more nail being stuck into my head.You know you're character set is in trouble when the best performer in the film is wearing bunny ears. Yes, I understand the weirdness of the film was meant to be intentional, meant to jar your out of some middle or upper-class bliss that inflicts all of us when we become self absorbed with things like image and materialism. But to say these extreme examples are beautiful and interesting is an awfully big stretch.
While the movie is terrible, you still can't stop watching because you're anxiously waiting for Korine to reveal that there is some hidden meaning within the madness, but it just continues to boil over in false brilliance and bizarreness. A Sergei Eisenheim knock-off Harmony Korine is not. Just because Wernor Herzog nearly craps his pants because he saw some bacon on a wall doesn't mean you're a visionary.
Sometimes silly, but still quite watchable
Any movie with Shia LeBeouf is subject to some squirming. Let's face it, he helped the Evil Empire (Disney for the uninitiated) grow thanks to his successful show Even Stevens. But as Shia has gotten away from Disney, his range continues to get better. Granted, Disturbia and Transformers are not Shakespeare, but it is far better than farcical garbage like The Greatest Game Ever Played.
Anyway, Shia plays Kale, a pretty chippy kid who slugs his teacher after due to a crack the creep makes about his dead father (which he had a hand in). first of all, I will say this: the teacher deserves it, even if Kale was being an idiot and a jackass. Anyway, this puts Kale under house arrest and he has to spend all day with his hot mom Carrie-Ann Moss. Of course, this all leads into the eventual "Rear Window" plot line that was pushed in the trailers, but it is still pretty satisfying.
Kale's paranoia is pretty interesting to see, considering he seems to have no qualms about jumping the gun. This leads to one of my eventual pet peeves about this film. Why in the world would this guy get any chick? Here's the formula: being a peeping tom and ruining a girl's party will get you some head. Nice equation there guys.
I have always liked David Morse, and his creepy, swarmy antagonist certainly brought some cool moments within the film. Its good to see him playing a bad guy again, which suits him so well because of his charm and rugged good looks. Either way, a spot on choice for the bad guy.
Other than that, there was really nothing that stood out about this film. I give it a seven for the effort and making a film that didn't utterly bore me to death while throwing in a little humor to boot. Good stuff for a midnight-type showing.
In all walks of life, there are certainly quirky moments in life that can make for some interesting cinema. Throw Kontroll into this unusual pile.
At first, the daily pursuit of a paycheck by ticket collectors seems rather boring, but Nimrod Antal seems to make these characters interesting despite their lack of over-the-top quirks that might plague a movie with such a limited plot. But either way, we're drawn into the strange idiosyncrasies that these people display, real or not.
While those expecting an ultra-cool, "Trainspotting" type of flick were deeply disappointed, the intricacy of the underground scenes and the spot on photography made it a much more satisfying experience. The dialog was a little dull in some areas, but at least they didn't try to be some pretentious Tarantino-esquire babble that would bore a regular person to sleep. Credit the writing team for keeping to their own culture rather than trying their best to make a sale in other countries, for this tends to be the strongest attribute to the film.
Put 'em on da Glass (1994)
The Greatest Rap Video Ever!!
Its tough trying to figure out which rap videos are better than others. You have to have a certain criteria. One, does it have a lot of booty-shaking. Two, is the song catchy and funny. And Three, is it influential. Look at the typical line-up on the late night BET and you'll see this video was the patron saint of all things smutty and detestable in rap videos.
It was only fitting this video was directed by a porn star. I couldn't have asked for anything less. I remember when the short lived channel "The Box" was on the air. The day this video was seen for the first time, it simply blew up and I must have watched it 60 times in a row. Never got old. Not even once.
The Andy Milonakis Show (2005)
Is this show for real?
I still can't utterly believe this show is getting a third season. Are there any standards left, any bare minimums? It used to be you needed a smidgen of talent to get a TV show, much less be a successful stand-up comedian or something. But Andy, the fat gelatinous piece of no talent ass clown he is somehow broke the mold and conned someone into giving him this piece of crap show.
How did he get this gig? Did he go to the 8th grade prom with some studio execs porker daughter or someone actually believe this was a good idea. His show isn't even funny, no matter which way you put it. Slapstick or physical, neither aspect of the comedy spectrum suits this beluga. Giving this garbage dump a "1" is awfully generous, especially when the idea of giving a "1" means there is some value to it.
I hope the idiot that green-lighted this show gets fired or dies a horrible, scathing death that makes him suffer greatly and puts him in hell. Geesh.
A Big Pile of Suck-ass
Clearly, there is a propaganda conspiracy running amuck in regards to the idea of people walking out of this film. The official explanation is the fact people weren't savvy enough to pick up on the whole "2 movies within a movie" idea Tranatino and Rodriguez were trying to convey. I think it is something more simple: this movie just plain stunk.
Once you dip through all of the pretentious irony, you realize the product you're watching is quite substandard. When the fake trailers for the real film are far more entertaining than the movie itself, then its pretty obvious that something was wrong in the film-making process. I think it was just the fact that no one could say no to Tarantino or Rodriguez, that no one had the guts to say "This movie blows" even with the supposed irony in check. Tarantino's career has somewhat been overrated, holding a very hit and miss mentality. Where Kill Bill I and Pulp Ficiton succeeded, KB 2, Jackie Brown and Reservoir Dogs all kind of flopped. Throw in his magnanimous Deathproof to the crummy pile.
Rodriguez's Planet Terror did have some elements to it that were absolutely hilarious, but even then, it just felt like it was dragging. Rodriguez should have cut himself away from Tarantino and put more work into the faux-movie "Machete", which is based on a character he wrote in the Spy Kids franchises (though much nicer). It would have made a better grindhouse-style film than Planet Terror. Rodriguez will thankfully return to form in Sin City 2, but he needs to drop the dead weight and ego that is Tarantino. His career can be salvaged at this point.
As for Deathproof, there's a reason why many people left this stinker. The car chases were fine, but we don't want to hear endless streams of mindless "Lifetime" style dialog when we could be witnessing some more carnage from Stuntman Mike. During my showing, half the theater left in the middle of this clunker, and they knew exactly what they were getting into. The ultimate betrayal was at the end, when Mike was revealed as more of a coward than a bloodthirsty maniac. That alone kind of takes away the whole idea of the Grindhouse movie. A bad guy with a conscience? This is just another example that Kill Bill I may be the last good movie we'll get out of Tarantino, and frankly, this is probably a shot in the arm for humanity. I've always complained we need to stop praising bad films, this is certainly one of them.
Children of Men (2006)
The Breakdown of Humanity
The human race tends to believe that it will endure on, that our power to reproduce as much as we please will never cease. This is why Childdren of Men is so fascinating. The movie rarely pulls any punches on the heady topic of infertility, illustrating the wild panic and cynicism that would most likely overtake the populace.
Children of Men also produces an interesting quandary on the human condition. No matter what happens to us in the future, all of the last remaining vestiges of current society-greed, paranoia, racism, etc.-will never cease to die. I felt that was the boldest step in the film. Those that had the money were hanging onto their pathetic dreams of wealth and status while the world slowly decayed from the inside out.
I felt all of the performances in the film were quite amazing, and the lack of flash and panache from the cinematography aided in keeping you focused on the story and not the way it looked. Once again, Alfonso Cuaron has helped establish the power shift in creativity is coming from Mexico. Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) have provided the best cluster of Mexican-made films since Mexicos Golden Age of Cinema in the 1940s and 50s. Go and see this film, and you won't be disappointed.
A beautifully exceptional film
Amelie is one of those rare chick flicks that I can honestly and proudly say I enjoyed. But then again, this film is really more than a movie about love and desire, but it's a movie that seems to touch a chord within us all, baring a bit of our souls in ways that is rarely done in cinema. You can't help but fall in love with Amelie. Her innocence is not contrived and her love is something that needs to be tapped.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet created a masterpiece with this vivid and beautiful film. His famous attention to detail and his desire to make a technically perfect movie is something film school students should take note of. His ability to make a heart warming story but keep it devoid of any sap or saccharine was the true mark of this brilliant film. Each scene must have been a canvas to Jeunet, and the beauty of France is portrayed perfectly in this film.
Years from now, people will understand the greatness of this movie for what it is instead of looking at it as yet another foreign film. For those that look past subtitles and boring, retreaded action movie paradigms, this movie will be a gem.
Nice premise, but bad context
I'll admit one thing and one thing only: the photography was great in this film. Beyond that, this film gets very tough to defend. The typical upper crust will swing their jaws in awe over the flash and misdirection provided by this talkie, but the simple truth is this movie was just too unbelievable.
We get a pretty decent story about love and loss and drug dealers that like Tolkien, but these are high school kids!! Let me repeat---HIGH SCHOOL KIDS!! While the very description of high school aged kids talking with straight-up 1940s noirish vernaculars sounds cool on paper, it just didn't work very well. It kept jarring you out of the story, thinking constantly: I've never heard a fricking high school kid talk like this! Now, if they were talking like a bunch of idiot hip-hoppers, it would have been more believable (and also funny-bad). This movie, despite its heart and intentions, just comes off as the greatest episode of Veronica Mars. Joseph Gordon-Levitt should probably stop playing high school roles, because we all know he is just too old to be doing this stuff anymore. Mysterious Skin should have been his last stand as a high-school aged teen, but instead, he's done this movie and the wretched Havoc in the wake of one of his most impressive performance as an actor. The rest of the actors didn't really fit in to the context of the movie, especially Emilie De Ravin and Noah Fleiss. Sorry, but Tug just didn't seem all that tough to me.
Once again, this is one of those gimmicky independent film whose only greatness stems from its exaggerated brilliance. Having high school kids talk funny in empty hall ways while sharing time with Richard Roundtree doesn't make it a great film.
Batoru rowaiaru (2000)
Stunning in its implications
Battle Royale may seem like some serial killers favorite dream, the plausibility of such an event is not too far-fetched. While the film took a rather extreme stance on what to do with nagging problems of discipline and apathy, the very idea of using violence to solve these problems seems rather realistic.
It's amazing the book this film was based off of wasn't made by an American. Frankly, I'm ashamed as an American that we couldn't come up with something so feral and nihilistic. Are all of the daily dosages of violence and havoc not helping us? Have we lost our edge? Well, on a more serious note, BR was certainly something that opened my eyes. While the budget could have been better in order to add some more realism to the violence, the underlying message leads one to wonder just how far off these assumptions are. While we tend to believe that mankind could never do this to anyone, one needs to look no further than the wars, genocide and evil we partake in every day.
But what really makes Battle Royale a disturbing film is the rather candid nature of the characters. While the shell shocked people were quite realistic, it didn't seem too implausible that adrenaline junkies like Kiriyama would enter in these contests just to experience the thrill of killing someone. Either way, I regard this as a piece of fiction, but like all texts that deal with the decay of society, this feels vaguely familiar.
The Descent (2005)
Good film with a good premise
With a formula like this, The Descent was guaranteed to be a decent film. Attractive women + decent scares + creepy cave = lots of good scares.
I'll admit, the film wasn't terribly scary, but the tension that was all throughout the film did feel real. This was the reason why this film doesn't get a higher rating. While gore and violence makes for good movies, it doesn't really help in the horror genre. But the real triumph with this film was the great make-up, and not just for the creatures. When you saw the compound fracture, you were genuinely grossed out. Even the blood looked real.
All in all, this film was really nothing more than a popcorn munching showcase. Sometimes the action near the end of the film was almost ludicrous to the point of being funny. But then again, that doesn't mean the film was unwatchable.
Cidade de Deus (2002)
Great film that deserved to be recognized
One thing is for certain, City of God didn't back down on the shock value. From the random killing of children to the more organized gang violence, City of God is more of a testament to the failures of capitalism rather than a failure of law and order. Either way, the film was a stunning depiction of a world no one really gets to see. This is a world you don't see in the tourist guides or in the movies.
What was especially incredible about this film was the dirtiness and authenticity. Instead of making this film on some back lot or recreated set, this film was actually made in the slums of Rio. In fact, the slums themselves become a major character in the film, illustrating how disgusting this world truly was. Adding even more authenticity was the use of non-professional actors. While many critics have panned films that have used this paradigm for acting, the lack of false reality made for a rather well acted film.
Years from now, this will be considered one of he best foreign films to hail from anywhere, and it is time to take some notice.
Horrid, absolutely horrid
I never fell asleep during a movie. Never. This movie did the impossible.
While many people claim the superiority of Japanese horror films over their American counterparts, this movie was a lesson in over abundance. As in, the movie was 30 minutes too long. It would have helped if the movie had a little more movement in the plot and the camera work, but instead, all we got were awkward silences and a lot of slow movement. The acting was absolutely terrible, bordering on bad student film levels while everyone struggled to ad-lib something called a script. Did these people even get any direction? Were they coaxed to be boring and dull? Either therory wouldn't surprise me.
What was even worse was the rather unscary make-up involved with the creatures from the other side. Either way, they all stunk. Don't watch this film. That's all I can say (unless you're an insomniac).