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Sutherlands Christmas holidays 2005/06
17 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
We're not sure what moved Kiefer Sutherland to act as a kind of tour organizer for Rocco DeLuca and his Burden, even helping to carry their stage equipment while they give one show per country in this strange tour documentary. Kiefer wasn't sure about that himself it seems, because he cannot answer director Manu Boyers question why he let him film his evenings and parties with the band, and tries to give an answer towards the end of the film which hasn't got a lot to do with his tour manager assignment.

Maybe it was his loneliness and the tour was a welcome opportunity to flee from empty Christmas and new years eve-holidays? We watch Kiefer more or less getting drunk every evening, or at least we can infer that if not directly by seeing him jump into an Icelandic Christmas tree by watching him in the morning crawling out of his hotel room, always struggling to get a hold of his stuff (during a few days he loses his phone, his wallet and seemingly every other kind of things, for example by way of carrying ten things at a time into the hotel lobby obviously for want of enough bags). A "24"-crew member says about him in advance: "If you know Kiefer well - organization is not his middle name." Which very obviously is true and makes him somewhat a miscast for the job - but not less likable.

The surprising thing is that Kiefer always stays calm, polite and friendly while Boyer films him during these more or less embarrassing scenes. All in all it seems he takes his manager assignment very seriously - and also his film assignment, derived from that - and he definitely is able to promote the group, even in a quasi-non-organized way.

Sutherland looks for a kind of deeper meaning in what he's doing - and even gets himself an Icelandic tattoo, while the bands purpose is pretty clear to every one - but in the end of the day I can't help also to see a drinker masquerading consequences of his addiction - which are gossip stories in next days papers, an injured arm, the lost belongings among other things - and reproaching himself.

Still it is interesting to watch him, definitely so when you're a fan. There are similarities between him and his musical front man with respect to childhood memories as they are told, only that one treats them with anger (Rocco), the other with a smile out of the anguish. As for the band: their depressive blues style seems to fit Kiefers inner state perfectly, and also Roccos. The music is a mixture of Jeff Buckley and traditional Americana, rock and blues roots music, together with a Placebo-like "passive aggressiveness" that makes it hard to listen to it at times if you're not exactly in the blue mood. Rocco is very skilled, no doubt, but it seems the audiences in the clubs they play don't quite fit the music: they're too adult. A younger crowd, maybe around the bands own age and not their tour managers, might immerse better into this kind of music. But something maybe went a little wrong with the booking of places. Of course we never hear discussions about these matters, we only see locations, equipment, hotels, airports, driving, partying after the gig, and vague statements on nothing in particular by Kiefer while the band doesn't add much to the film apart from their music - which is the main thing of course they can and should add.
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More senseless horror than sensible drama
18 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe horror and musical genre don't go together too well after all. Maybe that's the reason why this film never really dragged me in. But one thing is for sure: If you're neither a horror movie nor a strong musical fan but prefer drama, Johnny Depps performance as well as those of his fellow actors are not enough to make the film work for you.

Actually the singing is fine - for example compared to the also amateur performances of the male actors in "Mamma Mia" - but dramatic effects are just not played out and cut short - possibly due to the genre approach - which results in a loss for the story.

I guess we are to observe that Sweeney is so full of revenge and hatred that his personality is corrupted, especially after his first attempt on the judge fails. Being Sweeney now and no longer Benjamin he cannot even see what might be still to rescue of the bits and pieces of his former life and destroys the rest of it as profoundly as he can. Only a coincidence prevents him from even killing his own daughter, not recognizing her, while her rescue is undertaken by his friend who is only scarcely supported by Sweeney for Sweeney is much too busy taking revenge. Finally he is judged himself, leaving lots of dramatic story ends loose.

It's always difficult to identify and feel with a character who doesn't deserve it anymore - we are to understand him as being a tragical one, but even that doesn't fully work because he is just too dead hearted to be tragical. Maybe the whole thing would work better the other way round: Getting to know Sweeney at first without knowing anything of his past, which would be revealed only step by step while the story goes.
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I'm Not There (2007)
Dylan in disguise
25 September 2008
Dreamy film about ingenious Bob. It's not quite true he doesn't appear at all in this movie. Short before the credits we see him blow the harmonica with serious dedication. And roundabout half of the soundtrack consists of original material, making us listen to his highness while we watch his embodiments envisioning and shaping the well known stages of his life to us.

And aren't they beautiful again, these originals, how they accompany himself, the hidden original accompanying himself in copied disguise? how they glimmer, sparkle and shine, these songs, even more so when alternating with the actor's honorable attempts to cover some of them and present them to us. Did anyone ever maintain Dylans songwriting was one thing, his singing and voice the other? how little those have understood.

The film: especially Blanchett and Bale do a hell of a good job to convey Dylans way of speaking and acting even though both of them don't dispose of the same regional language by nature. Blanchett even surpasses Bale in this attempt, also with respect to her acting, and the reason seems to be that their is a natural likeness between her and Dylan which the male actors - funny enough - don't possess to that extent.

We don't understand everything of how all the parts of this films puzzle seem to belong together but that doesn't hinder much. Scorseses "No direction home" has told me a lot about Dylans caution not ever to be caught especially by the press or his audience in trying to track him down as being the such and such songwriter or supporting the so and so politics, beliefs and so far. It is this side in him which is depicted and worked along with most in the film - see also its title - and which might well be the source for his creativeness too.
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study in dark, watery and red
25 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's always fun to watch a good 70ies movie almost 35 years later, because any exquisite cinematography like in this film adds an aesthetic and historical pleasure to watching it, to what people already loved when the film appeared first.

I'm wondering why the film didn't receive more rewards in his time. The "SZ-Cinemathek" - a collectors choice of best films ever chosen by one of the three leading newspapers in Germany - lists "Don't look now" in his Top 50, and I can understand why.

In the first scenes shot in Hertfordshire, England, we think that John Baxter can see his child's death even though he's not near her, but later we understand that his child's death is the beginning of his foreseeing his own death. The tragedy about it is that he doesn't realize he does. Trying to be a rational guy who wants to protect his supposedly unstable wife from the supernatural, we - not him - realize that it is he himself who is closest to the irrational. Though Laura doesn't fully understand his condition she tries to protect him understanding more of it than he does; but she fails, because both of them are so tragically entwined in their fear about the other and about death, and both are so naive in the matter, that she can not keep him him from doing exactly the steps which will lead him to death.

As soon as he is alone in Venice he somehow becomes loose; he starts to loose himself to his second sight while still conceiving himself as the loving and caring husband. His misinterpreting of what he sees leads to the fulfilling of the prophecy about him. In the end he even forgets about meeting his wife who is back in Venice, while he is dragged into a strange pursuit of what might seem to him as a memory or reappearance of his dead daughter. He is not anchored in reality anymore but has not yet reached the other world fully like the blind one of the two sisters has. Being in a transit state in between he becomes an easy victim to the unnatural. Only too late he realizes his fatal error and that he had foreseen this creature before as the forerunner of death, being the most ugly twin of his earlier child.

Like all films which show present and future mixed into each other this film has to give an answer to the question as to how characters fulfill their prophecy even though their seeing what's going to happen influences what they're doing. In other words: wouldn't they be able to see the future, the future wouldn't be what they see. It's an interesting logical problem and dilemma to films who use this motive. "Don't look now" solves it by keeping John Baxter in the dark about his visions so that he finally dies because he doesn't recognize himself, or better: it takes his death to make him see the truth about himself.

These are great motives about the human condition and separate this film clearly from being just a horror film. It has more in common with Kubricks "Eyes wide shut" in this respect, for example.
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promising start, too much Hollywood in the end
5 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Needless to repeat that Mery Streep is a joy to watch as the Prada wearing devil, and, disagreeing with some other reviewers here, I also liked the beautiful Anne Hathaway, like in general acting is fine in this comedy. Pictures and cinematography are (meant to be) slightly artificial but glamorous and beautiful, as well giving the picture a mixture of elegance and beauty just like a lack of naturalness.

But the story isn't so funny at any moment and isn't so original either to catch you at any time. Especially the end seems to be a problem. After Andy has finally adapted to the Runway milieu as well as to the demands of her boss, she quits the job in a moment where she is closest as ever to Miranda. You might argue that this gives her the freedom to finally turn her back on her and return to her former targets and personality, or you might argue that Mirandas deception of Nigel is the last straw to make Andy go, but in fact it's true what Miranda says that Andy crossed that border already when joining Miranda for Paris in Emilys place, and she could have quit before if she wouldn't have wanted to take that step.

I realize that there is a sub-plot making Andy saying all the time that she is forced to do this and that, and we are meant to understand that the moment when she leaves the taxi with Miranda is the one she finally realizes that it's all up to her and has been so all the time, and it is Miranda making her understand this. But still the story doesn't work for me at that point.

Although Andy before, while talking to her friends, has found all sorts of excuses for doing what she does, again Miranda is right in telling her that she really wants what she does and has actively decided to do it. So why should she suddenly change her mind in Paris after a few events which are not so sensational after all. They give a nice and very common turn to the film, so the producers seem to have thought, and this is probably why this turn is here.

I think it's the point where the movie identifies as a Hollywood movie, trying to save the young girl as the pure heroine who doesn't want to get in contact with evil and even returns to her old boring boyfriend. Miranda might represent some evil, but the truth is, she's a lively person representing both, good and evil, like most of us by the way, and Andy does so too as long as she stays with her and tries to expand her personality in a way she didn't know before. So quitting that job means a step backwards for Andy who abandons what she has reached so far.
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The Sentinel (2006)
failure indeed, still a must see for fans
1 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was expecting the worst. After having browsed through the bad reviews I even refused to see The Sentinel in the movies out of fear it might damage my image of Douglas and Sutherland. Now that I finally dared watching the film on DVD I'm quite relieved being able to tell everybody, that it's a writing problem the film suffers from, not an acting or directing one.

When the film starts you have to accommodate to Kiefer Sutherlands kind of non-Jack Bauer character, but the tension between the meant to be-rational and by the books-agent Breckinridge and Kiefer still beaming and glaring with energy and character no matter what this guy Breckinridge was meant to be by the writer is fun to watch and makes it a must see for fans. Michael Douglas is great as his more than counterpart, and Eva Longoria, we hear in the special DVD-features, was the best shooter of the three of them in real and therefore should have led the team in my opinion which for several reasons would have been nice to watch as well.

For "24"-fans you expect to see a lot of scenes like in "24". This is not affirmed in the beginning but more so when the film develops. Kiefer entering a building through the door with a gun in his hand checking in every direction just evokes nothing else but "24", and so does any shouting of his and the like, but also the story about trying to assassinate the president and the agents racing around with the terrorists towards the climax reminds everybody of the David Palmer-situation in "24"s first season. But Breckinridge is different enough, and like I said, well played enough not to be another version of Bauer. We're in a different film here.

So what have we got? The beginning is promising, but as soon as the plot starts twisting and turning, the film is ruined. It is ridiculous to suspect Pete Garrison because he doesn't pass the test and is somewhere in south America while the presidents helicopter is blown apart - at least I don't get it. Hastily a chase story is coming up next like film history has seen many before which doesn't make it easier to make them well. This one surely fails to convince, with the characters becoming narrower in its proceeding instead of wider. It is ridiculous to not abandon the temptation of having a showdown between the two stars (already right in the middle of the film), badly motivated and not played out, which the two actors couldn't change much for lack of a good story in advance. It is also ridiculous to see them being best mates again a minute later after the one shooting at the other, just in time for the finale, and the events in the end are one cliché after the other, I counted about six or seven in the last scenes from a story point of view.

Still at least they spare us to see Breckinridge or Garrison being the traitor which would also have been possible in this anything goes because nothing develops-plot. We're glad for that. And: they do some fine action scenes, filmed nicely, which really bring a touch of reality to the attack on the president, and this is the best you can say about this end. The revealing of the real traitor does not come with much suspense, also we get to know nothing abut the terrorists motives, as if ex-KGBs had nothing else in mind but killing an American president as their natural aim that needs no further explanation. In an Eighties Bond you might have got away with it, but not 2006. Meanwhile Longoria gives the Chloe-part to Breckinridge / Bauer, a poor copy of Mary-Lyn I must admit.

Summarizing, if you like thrillers, are maybe especially interested in agency stories and you like this films stars you will still only be partly annoyed with this film, the rest is interesting to see if you don't expect too much right from the beginning. Also the film song through to the credits is great, by the way. And maybe there's something good in this film which is not apparent yet: when the "24"-crew really starts going to the movies this year like they intend they should watch this film closely in order to avoid its mistakes.
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24: Day 5: 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. (2006)
Season 5, Episode 11
Seen most of it before but great to see CTU and 24s White House back again
19 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At this point season 5 is getting close to halftime, and although user votes on this site seem to indicate that these late episodes of part one of season 5 are slightly weaker than the beginning, I cannot quite agree. I was watching the first episodes with great anticipation having heard so much about it before. I wasn't exactly disappointed then and I also admit that it's hard to feel the full suspense if you already know before that Palmer and Dessler will die for example - but still I thought during the early episodes of season 5: well, here we go again, it's all been here. We have Lynn, the inapt superior who somehow forces Jack to act undercover which he routinely does backed up by Chloe and everybody else at CTU. People being killed who seemed to be an integral part of "24" is nothing new, these people being replaced by others who then seem to be an integral part etc.. Meanwhile the employees at CTU are first conspiring against each other and later taking each other into custody all the time - nothing new (but still very entertaining to see, and even though most of us don't work at counter terrorist agencies I get the idea and feel this is everyday life, just put into a different setting).

The story about Jack being framed and said to have killed Palmer and his friends is less but poorly convincing, it's a pity we don't see more of his 18 months in between-life, by the way. Walt Cummings is the usual kind of intriguer, we have the terrorists who are ready to kill others and themselves at any given point, only that this time their targets seem very exchangeable which isn't very convincing either. Next familiar thing is that CTU gets the critical information it needs always at the right time (attack on Suvarov, attack on the hospital) and always out of heaven - this time here called "chatter" - just like technology works exactly as fast as it should and always offers a solution (Jack rescuing Derek at the airport). We've seen all this before. - But still, in the following episodes, the show is getting better.

It is interesting to see how Mike Novick advises the president, alternating between cynicism, rational concerns and his still intact emotions. He truly is a varying character in the show, more good, but sometimes bad, as we have seen in the seasons before. Things are really getting interesting when Logan discovers that Martha is in the Suvarovs car. The following intimate play between Mike and Logan is very well acted by both of them, it is intense, both being forced to solve a problem which has no solution. And also the CTU-hospital-story just like the Bauer-Henderson-story seem to gain from the progression in the action between Logan, Martha, Novick and Aaron Pierce at this stage.
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Batman (1989)
80ies movie - not at its best
28 December 2006
Watching "batman" today makes me think that it's a pretty ridiculous story after all and even more so are most of the performances and scenes, especially around the joker.. I realize there are some cult ingredients in it, for example some resemblances to "citizen cane", maybe the awful 80ies-Prince-music, the 80ies computers and monitors that are shown - but all in all, I'm sorry, 90ies' "Matrix" is just more my kind of film. What seems strange as well is that everything seems to be filmed in the studio, nothing on the street, and all the elements of the plot seem just loosely connected. Still it is interesting to watch, but more for historical reasons but for any suspense which is really not coming up.
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24: 11:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. (2002)
Season 1, Episode 24
sad ending
28 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Having watched "24"s first season for the second time now I'm not as impressed with the ending as I was when I saw it for the first time. I keep wondering what else the writer's could have done. Obviously they could have added a happy ending as they show in the brief alternative ending which is included on DVD. But that one doesn't feel very convincing either.

The first twelve hour part of the first season feels stronger than the second. In this last episode Jack saves Palmers life for the second time but I can't help almost being with Sherry here - he wouldn't have to save his life if he hadn't come near him in the first place.

Whereas this isn't true for the first attack on Palmer roughly twelve hours earlier, the second attempt on his life seems weakly motivated from the point of view of writing. It's also good to have Mike Novick about who's right agreeing with Sherry that the "charade" about the senator being dead is a political fault, and it's not really convincing that David Palmer only is full of gratitude and concern about his life saver Jack.

The other thing is that Sherry becomes almost unbearable when listening to her the second time, which luckily is also the growing opinion of her husband who confronts her with the consequences and finally ends it. I'm grateful for that.

Nina turning out to be the mole and Teri dying are two extremely surprising and shocking elements watching them once, but are they strong enough to also convince watching them twice? Nina was so good as Jacks support in the CTU - just like Chloe O'Brian later will be (although a completely different character) - isn't it asked too much from this character and the so far fine performance of Sarah Clarke to be turned around like that? and isn't the same true for the death of Teri? hadn't there been a chance for a happy ending which wouldn't be just a cliché? to me there's an arbitrary taste about it. The writers favorite solution of killing their characters - as we will see later so many more times - might be a better solution than to let them live happily ever after but maybe it shouldn't be the only possible ending of everything.

Also, there is a lot of other things in this episode which later we will see returning again and again, and it doesn't change the elements much that different people will play them then.

Still it's always enjoying to watch the first seasons actors again: Leslie Hope, wondering what kind of lover she would have been for Jack in the seasons to come had she survived; Sarah Clarke; Elisha Cuthbert; Dennis Haysbert; Carlos Bernard whose character Tony is only starting to form in this season and will become so much more important and central in the later seasons; and, if you ask me, on top of them all Xander Berkeley with a fine if not brilliant performance. Well, not quite above the whole crowd.. If you're a fan of Kiefers which a "24"-fan usually is (and I am no exception), best scenes are of course where he's in. (Even if his added commentary on the DVD-edition - read from some strange teleprompter or whatever - is lousy..)
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24: 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. (2002)
Season 1, Episode 19
Jack and Mason back on the track
23 October 2006
This is by far not the first episode where Jack and Mason sort of reunite again i. e. stop working against each other, but this episode cements this new agreement, and it does so in a complex and therefore interesting way. Mason is drawn as a rather cold and authoritative, also controlling superior, but may it be the writers intention, may it be Xander Berkeley as an actor or a nice merger of these two factors: Mason is also an entertaining element in the series and can be quite a nice guy too, seeing his limits and cunningly arranging things around his limitations instead of giving other people a hard time because of them... what I'm trying to say is: Mason realizes that he himself will never have the ability to solve this case, so he simply follows Jack and also lets him do his job. And Jack, appreciating that he's not hindered to do what he thinks best, readily involves his superior who therefore can stay on top of what's happening. Both help each other out. Jack doesn't think hierarchically, so he doest't mind Mason getting nowhere without him and kind of using him as long as he can work. Also this means Mason accepts Jacks work. The pair is having a nice conversation demonstrating all that in the car on their way to the power station.

Mason deceives Jack by not telling him about his family in this episode. So it becomes clear: the two won't become friends. But even this betrayal doesn't affect their new good companionship.

The only question remains whether it is really convincing that Mason forgets about their initial fight. Somehow it's unbelievable this character should change so much. And also I always kept wondering what kind of information Mason originally kept hidden from Jack - because after Jack has the information, just as much is happening as when he didn't have it: nothing.
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24: 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. (2002)
Season 1, Episode 14
getting first seasons second part going
3 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Please read only after you've seen the complete first season!

After Jack has successfully rescued his family and Gaines is dead, we now watch a second story unfold within the first season of "24", and it is pretty much independent of the first one. Nina was so helpful for Jack in the whole Gaines-story that I wonder whether the "24"-writers really knew themselves what was going to come up in the second part. But there are some hints they definitely know now: just watch Ninas reaction when Alberta tells her the news of what happened between Jack and the Gaines-crew. This episode contains some pretty strong material: for example Jacks interrogation by Alberta - very nicely displayed here a frequent and typical behavior of Jacks: at first he's trying to cooperate even with someone who tries to harm him professionally. But he's not willing to tolerate everything and starts to verbally fight his new superior which is nice to see because in the normal everyday professional life we all know these situations even if we don't hang around in a kind of prison being interrogated by the state. Scenes like that also make Jack the hero he is ;-), it's not only fighting the terrorists. (A very similar scene years later will prequel the fourth season.) An even stronger scene is the encounter of Palmer and Jack minutes later. Although they will have persistent contact to each other for years to come, most of that will happen by cellphone, so this meeting is a very rare opportunity and exquisitely done by the writers: the senator thinks Bauer is his enemy. Because both characters are very much alike: straight forward and quickly trying to resolve problems by openly confronting them it takes only minutes for the two to find their way out of the misunderstandings caused by third party. Now they can add up their background knowledge on the case and really get into the matter, and the second story within this first season is on its rapid way now...
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