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Was born in the 1980s.
Lives in Europe.
Amor, sal y pimienta (2010)
A twist to the rom-com genre
A girl invites her boyfriend to meet her father at the dinner. However, as they are preparing the dinner, the girl decides to add another "special" ingredient to the food...
This is a funny little short (horror) comedy film that teases the audience by first presenting a seemingly predictable romantic comedy story in the "boyfriend meets girlfriend's father" concept, just to switch the tables and give a twist ending that surprises. This may not be for everyone, but it is a funny film that once again showed J. Luis Rivera's talent as a director. The best way to look at it is to see it as a sketch. I will not reveal the ending, but it is pure black comedy. I for one found this a very tasty dish that made me want to ask for a dessert.
Be careful what you wish for
Jorge is a peddler at a market, but his business has been doing so bad lately that he cannot even afford to pay for his only employee. Since his cannot support his wife Mary nor his son Jorgille, who is unemployed, anymore, Jorge gets so desperate he enters a good luck charms shop and asks a witch for something to break his streak of bad luck. She sells him a talisman that will guarantee to solve his financial troubles, but demands blood from him...
A modern retelling of W. Jacob's short story "The Monkey's Paw" - as well as the similar "Faust" legend - "Talisman" is a great and unassuming little film that dwells on our constant superstition and fears that there might be "something invisible" out there that prevents us from succeeding in life, yet that even a shortcut to success has its price. Director J. Luis Rivera handles the story in an elegant way, establishing in the opening shots not only Jorge's life as a peddler, but also his financial situation, social observations as well as the mood of the economic crisis of our time. The main plot, where Jorge buys a talisman, hoping it will somehow break his circle of misfortunes, is established already from the first scenes as an eerie "Catch 22" with a 'boomerang effect' (the suspicious shop; the dark cat as a symbol for bad luck; etc.), which will in the dark plot twist at the end aggravate his fate from a part area in life as much as it alleviates it from the financial part. Just like other films about the topic, "Talisman" contemplates about such philosophical terms as an unbreakable equal amount of happiness, almost a yin and yang balance, as well as the fatality of destiny. Rivera showed a talent for a natural story flow that is simple and accessible, yet glues the viewers to the screen and grows on them, while the nice touches can be felt. The actors all round up the impression, led by very good Jorge Moreno and Sara Lara.
Na rubu znanosti (2002)
Bravely tackles themes others rarely talk about
As a kid, I used to watch Unsolved Mysteries (1987) when it was on TV, since it was exciting and scary to hear (allegedly true) stories about UFOs and ghosts. I always wished something like that would be broadcast on Croatian television. Finally, in 2002, something like that was approved by Bozidar Domagoj Buric. The result was Na rubu znanosti (On the verge of science), which was something unbelievably refreshing back in those days when only boring political or music shows were on TV. Staying sometimes late until night to watch it on TV was exciting, because you never knew what the next topic would be, ranging from UFOs, ghosts, up to unusual scientific views on energy, the nature of universe and our society.
The appeal of the show originates from two sources: one is the great host, Kresimir Misak, who is refreshingly relaxed and 'cool', often adding even a few humorous observations, but never belittling the theme in question. The other is that the themes are presented in the form of a serious talk-show, where one or two guests would often give quite strong arguments for the theme, which means that it appeals to an audience with an attention span longer than a minute. The guests would talk and give food for thought, and they would be very articulated at it. Some say that anyone could have qualified to be guest on the show, but that is definitely not so: with the exception of only two or three cases (when the host himself subtly expressed his discomfort with them), the guests were up to the case and would often include educated people with a masters degree (Ilija Rkman, Ivan Simatovic, Bozidar Kemic) and even celebrities known worldwide (Edgar Mitchell, David Icke and others). That is truly a great achievement for a show that runs for 10 years.
If you enjoy an alternative view on the world, this show will not disappoint. A few newer episodes experience a lack of energy here and there, but that is normal for a show that runs for ten years, especially since it is still able to produce a few juicy discussions. Having met Misak once in person, I can confirm that he is a one of a kind, a person who is engaged in exploring our world and addressing some troubles we are all experiencing, and which are sadly ignored by other media (for instance, where does the current financial crisis originate from? What happened to the swine flu?). With a few minor flaws, this is an original and refreshing show, and you have to watch it with an open mind.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
20 years on, and this is still fun
Almost 20 years after a live action movie about Super Mario Bros. was made, it has underwent a certain kind of revisionism and is slowly viewed more favorably than before, since the sole fact that no producer or director (not even Spielberg) in that period managed to rally a whole movie crew to make a new Mario movie shows that this was a unique enterprise, one of a kind. Believe it or not, but today Mario Bros. has surpassed some praised blockbusters: as of writing this, I found out that the Super Mario Bros. ranks at #3.504 by popularity on the movie meter here at IMDb, which makes it more popular than some 1993 blockbusters (Cliffhanger ranks only #3.813, The Pelican Brief only #3.629), more popular than some classics (Gigi ranks only #6.985, Mrs. Minniver is not even it the top 10.000 list) and even more popular than some recent movies that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, mind you (Ordinary People ranks only at #3.585, Driving Miss Daisy only at #4.833 and not even The Last Emperor managed to score higher than #3.852). If we look at some of the highest grossing movies in 1993, like Cliffhanger or In the Name of the Father, we can find out that their message boards here at IMDb are dead, while the board here at Mario Bros. is still alive and active. Obviously the Mario Bros. authors must have done at least something right when the people are still talking about the movie in 2012.
The movie is fun even today, despite the not so favorably viewed step to show the Mario Bros. in an "edgier", darker version where the heroes find themselves in some sort of a North Korea kind of world where everything was wasted in mismanagement and plundered just to suit the maniacal demands of king Koopa, whereas the cast in fantastic, from Bob Hoskins, through Dana Kaminski up to Dennis Hopper who seems to almost match his bad guy image from Blue Velvet, and the story has so many clever references to other movies (Koopa's line about loving mud because it is so "clean and dirty at the same time" is an obvious reference to a similar line about the desert said by the hero in Lawrence of Arabia) or simply spoofs some mainstream clichés, such as the constant bad language in some movies ("Egg-sucker!"). The de-evolution chamber is still one of the most fascinating bad guy inventions ever put on screen, even more inspiring than "the dip" from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and if it was used in some horror movie it would have been probably praised as the scariest thing ever, you really get the idea what kind of a joint they are running.
Even the detractors have to admit that the editing was top notch, the story flows smoothly and never drags for a second, that the score was spot on and that the set-design and costumes were perfect (nominated even for the Saturn Award). The long zoom in on Daisy in the castle in the fog still gives me the chills when I see it, while so many jokes seem to be lost on the "grumpy" viewers who tend to ignore them (Old Lady: "You know, boys, this is a really rough neighborhood. You really shouldn't be wandering around without a weapon. You got one?" - Luigi: "...No." - Old Lady: "...All right...(brandishes a cattle-prod-like weapon) Get 'em up, suckers!"). I really wish someone would publish all the deleted scenes. The only thing I don't really like are the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes of the movie, since they seem rushed, and the fact that Mario and Luigi should have worn their overalls from the start. Yet, if you watch the movie with an open mind, you will be surprised at how it can work and how every movie works that way if you give it a chance.
Sailor Moon the Movie (2011)
Review of the first 20 minutes
Bunny, a relaxed high school girl, encounters a talking cat with whose help she transforms into Sailor Moon during a second, equally surreal encounter with a vampire-like youma who is sucking blood from a girl. However, the mysterious Tuxedo Mask helps her fight against evil...
In 2011, a group of fans, led by director Elana Mugdan, decided to film their very own live-action, independent movie of a popular anime and manga series, funded entirely with donations. As a longtime "Sailor Moon" fan, this project caught my attention and I was eager to finally see how they are going to pull this off. Since as of this date only the first 20 minutes of the movie were made, this review will focus only on them. Even though I was skeptical, the first 20 minutes - which roughly follow the events of the first episode of the anime - are surprisingly catchy and enjoyable. Yes, certain unusual new details need time to get accustomed to (two FBI agents were added into the story; the blood sucking youma seems more like a vampire...), yet I have to admit...I watched it with such an awe as if I was a little kid. With almost a 1/3 effect of what "Sailor Moon" had on me when I saw it for the first time. They captured that adventurous flair.
Avery Danielle is great as the title heroine. Nick Uhas seems at first as a strange choice to play Tuxedo Mask, yet he proved himself worthy later on. I know some will be put off by the fact that it plays out in the US, not in Japan, but when you have American actors and locations, such a modification was arguably justified. The location for the Game Center Crown, for instance, suits the story perfectly. Director Mugdan did a good job. Since this is just the start, I will just have to wait until they post the whole thing until my final judgment. Therefore, I cannot yet compare it to PGSM, that golden standard of live-action "Sailor Moon" adaptations, or the Sera Myu musicals, but my hopes are up. The movie was elegant, natural and fun, with a few great solutions in transporting the animated world into ours.
Berusaiyu no bara (1979)
In France in 1755 a daughter was born to the famous royal guard family Jarjayes, named Oscar Francois de Jarjayes. Since her father desperately wanted a boy to continue his work as a royal guard to the queen, Oscar was raised as a boy and learned how to fight and fence. Oscar and her friend Andre were soon assigned to Versailles to protect Marie Antoinette. There they discovered a lot of affairs from madam du Barry, Jeanne de Motte and others. But Andre fell in love with Oscar and in 1789 the French revolution started, forcing them to choose if they want to be loyal to the queen or to the people...
"Lady Oscar" is a real treat for all nostalgic anime fans and history lovers. Namely, despite the fact that Oscar is a fictional character, almost 90 % of it's story is actually ( loosely ) accurate. For example, I thought that the whole double crossing affair by Jeanne de Valois de la Motte, who dressed a prostitute as Marie Antoinette to trick cardinal Rohan into thinking that the queen likes him and bought an expensive necklace ( worth 200 million $ by todays standards ) on Antoinette's account, and who was later led to a court where she said that Antoinette was a lesbian, was just a gross exaggeration by the anime makers. But I was surprised to find out that not only did Jeanne really exist, but that this actually did happen!
Still, the real hero(ine) is Oscar, a fascinating woman always dressed as a man, and her tragic romance with Andre, which creates subtle gay themes. The director Osamu Dezaki directs this anime on the limit of fantasy, not caring so much about the structure or the sometimes dry events, as much as creating opulent, excellent characters. Oscar is the highlight of course, a woman trying to find her place in the world and history, choosing if she should be loyal to the rich queen or to the poor people.
"Spirited Away" is another good film proclaimed to be a masterpiece
Chihiro, a little girl, is sitting in a car driven by her parents. They are moving to a new town, but on their way they enter into a strange town through a tunnel. There mom and dad transform into pigs because they ate the forbidden food and Chihiro has to take a job in the local spa, run by the old lady Yubaba, in order to transform them back. She gets a new name, Sen, and meets a nice boy Haku...
"Spirited Away", Hayao Miyazaki's 8th feature length anime film, is an interesting fantasy parable. It does have poetry ( a magical scene in which Chihiro is falling from the sky, making her tears fall up ) and some analysts claim that the story is actually a symbol of child prostitution or child slavery in Asia, but as a whole the overlong movie doesn't always work perfectly and it seems as if the critics are finding more meanings which they want to find than the ones that are really there. If Miyazaki's earlier films were less ambitious ( with which I strongly disagree - i. e. "Kiki's delivery service" was a wonderful tale about growing up ), then his new ones are less fun and coherent. Miyazaki finally won an Oscar for this, but more thanks to his previous reputation than thanks to the good, but somewhat over-hyped anime "Spirited Away".
Mezon Ikkoku (1986)
Those who never saw this, missed something in their life
Tokyo. Yusaku Godai is a wannabe college student who just found a new apartment where he can stay and study. But his new landlord is Kyoko, a young and handsome woman, and he falls instantly in love with her. Although she likes him too, she is hesitant since her husband died a not so long time ago. Shun Miataka, a wealthy tennis coach, is also in love with Kyoko. Complicating matters are Godai's weird neighbors; a middle aged and overweight lady Hanae, voyeuristic Yotsuya and always drunk and half naked red hair woman Akemi, who annoy him while he is studying. As years pass by Yusako gets employed as a teacher in Kyoko's old school
I'm shocked at how unknown and underrated Maison Ikkoku", my new anime darling, is! It's great, and everyone should see it right now! Like with most of my favorite films or animes ( and that's becoming to get a bad habit ), I didn't want to see this because the 1986 animation wasn't perfect ( too thick necks, too big hair dues, weird animation of the dog's eyes ) but when I finally did I was richly rewarded. I call this A romance under microscope" because it is. It shows all those deepest, hidden emotions most of the films or animes are either scared to show or don't want to show. Maison" leaves you feeling great, energetic and happy like a little kid. The author, Rumiko Takahashi, already proved that she is a romance expert with the good Ranma 1/2" and the great Inuyasha", but this even tops them. Actually, It's even almost as good as my other anime darling, Sailor Moon".
There are some fantastic scenes here. For example, Shun gives Kyoko an ultimatum either she decides that she loves him or he is going to leave her, and she has only 1 week to decide. The following morning Godai approaches the apartment and spots Kyoko in the fog, who hides her rings under her eyes since she couldn't sleep the whole night from thinking about the ultimatum. In the other one Kyoko leaves her apartment complex for a vacation, but leaves a plan of her journey, hoping that Godai is going to follow her. But one of my favorite episodes was number 54, hilariously and adequately called Attack with nudity!" in which Yagami, a teenage girl, fell in love with Godai who was the teacher of her class. In order to seduce him she tried everything, from staying after school with him up to placing a heart" sign on his jacket. But when all failed, she managed to pursue her friends to lock Godai in a school basement so that she can try to seduce him with her body, wearing only a bra and a slip. Amazing stuff!
The story spans 7 years and the characters change. True, there are some weak, annoying characters ( Hanae, Akemi and Yotsuya are sometimes unbearably disgusting! ) and episodes ( beware; the first 7 episodes are pretty bad ), but they are a minor point compared to some hilarious romantic situations ( see episode 17, where Kyoko first met her future husband in high school ). Understated, quiet, funny and deeply touching, this is one sort of anime that I wish I could see more often. Those who never saw this, missed something in their life.
One of the best films of the 90s. This is what Brokeback Mountain" could have been, but barely wasn't
London. Giles D'Eath is a smart, serious writer living alone in his apartment. He is over 50, his wife died and he thinks he knows everything about himself. But one day he accidentally sees a stupid teen-comedy in cinema. Just as he is about to leave the theater he spots one actor in that film, Ronnie Bostock, and is somehow unexplainable fascinated by him. Suddenly he gets new energy in his life. He gets curious and starts learning all about the young Ronnie, who is not admired by critics and is forced to shot weak films. Giles is somehow sad that his new hero is stuck in trash while he is admired as an artist. As his emotions get stronger towards Ronnie, he decides to fly to the USA to meet him in his home in Long Island. He does, and a strange friendship unveils
In 1997 Titanic" won all the awards, including Golden Globes and Oscars. But that movie spectacle is easily overshadowed by a simple little film, the shining tragicomedy Love and death on Long Island". I've seen Love" about 5 times and each time I admire it more and more. It's a beautiful and subtle gay film that has emotions, humor, quirky characters and the brilliant John Hurt, who should have won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for this. One IMDb user lamented about the story, stating that it's as unrealistic as if a writer like Joseph Heller would fall in love with Britney Spears and do everything to try to meet her". I didn't find that unrealistic. I thought that was precisely the point, showing how love doesn't have boundaries, neither in gender or culture or social status ( here the famous writer Giles doesn't look down on the trash reputation his idol Ronnie is forced to carry ). The story also questions the harsh boundaries between trash and art ( in one sequence Giles compares one scene of Ronnie lying on a table of a pizzeria in the film Hotpants College 2" with the famous painting The death of Chatteron". Art is subjective ) and is full of amusing moments ( i.e. Giles' farewell letter to Ronnie, send by a fax machine, is so long that his whole room is soon filled with paper! ).
I liked Brokeback Mountain" ( 7/10 ), but I thought it was too simple while this just simply overshadows it - it would be more rightful if those two films would change reputations. Every now and then a movie shows up that dares to amusingly break all social conventions and rules of life and you have a feeling that your life would be emptier without it this is one of them.
Quick Change (1990)
Send in the clowns! An underrated comedy classic!
New York. Grimm, masked as a clown, manages to siege and rob a bank and get away with his two henchmen, Loomis and Phyliss, by cynically masking themselves as hostages. So far, so good
but the real problem is yet awaiting them they have to get to the JFK airport to flee from the police. Easier said than done, because this is New York, a town full of traffic jams, weird people, taxi drivers which can't speak English
Admitteldy, this is a simple crime comedy, but it's non the less excellent. Unlike A fish called Wanda", Quick change" avoids the over the top grotesque and brutal jokes and manages to be even somewhat humane and cute. The three main actors are irresistible, especially the cute Geena Davis and Bill Murray, the hilarious plot about how it's easier to rob a bank than to get somewhere on time in New York is amusing, the dynamic plot is short (85 minutes) and full of great dialogs ( You have a gun, why don't you shoot them?"-I can't. These guys have fur, I'd need a permit, wouldn't I?").
If I would have to name one joke that stands out, then that would be the whole sequence in which the bank trio accidentally enters a mob hideout. The mafia guys see them and want to shoot them. In order to save his skin, Grimm starts improvising and telling the mafia members that he is the new money collector for Mr. Lombino. He manages to play his role so good that they give him the money and escort the three of them outside. Then later on, after the mobster figure out they have been tricked they spot Grimm entering a bus and try to get him, but are caught by the police who were on the lookout for Grimm and his henchmen in the first place! Brilliant.
The Truman Show (1998)
Great but overshadowed by the original script
The concept of this film is genius: Truman is the star of his own series, and he doesn't know it! A wonder that Hollywood finally managed to create an intelligent, funny, emotional, esoterical, mysterious, philosophical
in short an all covering film that is really touching. In the first, somewhat overlong half the story is following the main hero Truman through his point of view and elaborating his quiet, normal life while the director Peter Weir is cleverly choosing strange camera angles to give the feeling as if he is being spy-ed by someone. In the second, and much more intriguing part, the story shifts to the outside" world and to Christof's 10 mile wide studio from which Truman is being monitored by 5.000 cameras 24 hours a day for a TV show.
The themes of this sci-fi tragicomedy are quite fascinating existential ( finding out who we are and stopping anyone who wants to control our life ), philosophical ( what is real and what not? ) and even subversive ( the media changed the world so much that even a lie can pass as truth ). One of the best scenes is the one where Christof touches the sleeping Truman on the screen at night, creating a strange feeling how he is present in his life although he never met him!"The Truman Show" deservedly won 3 Golden Globes for best score, main actor Jim Carrey and supporting actor Ed Harris, who was also nominated for an Oscar.
Still, as much as I love it, I have to admit that the original shooting script by Andrew Niccol overshadows it. There we had a much more intimate storyline and original ideas. Some of the highlights there were that the location was New York (!), the scene where Truman accidentally discovers the word Trumanesque" in the dictionary, the building of the fake town Sydney, Chloe's marching in into Christof's room and telling him that Truman didn't masturbate for 2 months, the dialog between a caller and Christof ( I enjoyed your work, Christof, but I can't say I saw all of it." Who can?" ) or when Truman disguised himself while entering an xxx store all the while some two viewers had an ironic dialog ( What's with the disguise?" Maybe he doesn't want to be recognized." ). I can't understand why those scenes were deleted. True, the script ending is much weaker than the movie ending, but all in all it gives an better impression - and elaborates the plot more. It's sad because with that script this could have easily been even better.
A class of it's own a class of boring musicals
Chicago, 1920s. The singer Velma gets arrested after killing her own sister and put in a prison. The unsuccessful dancer Roxie Hart is also placed in the same prison for killing her lover Fred who double crossed her by promising her a big career in show business. Both Velma and Roxie are being defended by the lawyer Billy. He makes stars out of them in prison and gains the sympathy of the jury
Sometimes things happen that are so dumb that you don't even want to know why or how they happened. I'm no big fan of the Pianist" but that movie was definitely superior than Chicago", a chaotic and only marginally interesting musical which looks as if it was taken from an outdated era and placed today to look even more outdated. I mean, come on! 13 Oscar nominations for Chicago", including best director and best supporting actress Queen Latifah? 6 won Oscars, including best picture of the whole year and best supporting actress Catherine-Zeta Jones? 3 Golden Globes? What is this? It looks as if the academy was having a yard sale and handing out nominations for free. The list of Oscar stinkers lately is alarming, from The English patient", Shakespeare in love" up to Gladiator".
All right, admittedly there were some good points in this. Richard Gere was surprisingly excellent in this as the clever lawyer Billy ( his great line about how If Jesus was alive today living in Chicago and asked for my help his whole case would have turned out differently." ) but was ignored by the Oscars. Also, there are some clever observations about the rotten nature of show business and the media obsessed society. But they are not strong enough to carry the whole wooden story into a better territory. There are dozens of excellent Musicals, like The West side story", but here the musical scenes are presented in an annoying manner, in form of weird fantasies of the soulless characters, and only create a slimy feeling.
A solid prequel to "PGSM"
Act Zero really isn't a Zero at all. It's more like an 8 out of 10. It is a wild fun, a completely relaxed comedy. Apparently, it was filmed in 2005, one year after "PGSM" ended. It all started at Christmas night in Tokyo where people were singing "Silent night" and Minako (Ayaka Komatsu) was on the top of a building, watching the moon. Suddenly Artemis fell from the moon and gave her the power to transform into Sailor V. She then went on to fight a robber in a goofy manner (by throwing her "boomerang" at him, but missing). But the real trouble is yet awaiting her: she has to stop a mastermind criminal, known as the Boss, who robs banks and jewel stores with a help of some 3 evil girls.
Then the story shifted to Usagi's home where a TV report was playing. It seems the robberies in Juuban district became almost a daily thing! And of course, the people were furious at the police which "failed to catch any criminal". The funniest part of the story had Usagi and Naru go to that washed up Police station (with a sign "Don't throw stones at us"!!!) and observing the chaos in it brought by the 4 policemen, played by the 4 future generals of Queen Beryl. Jadeite is now a Police girl (!) and looks hilarious in his skirt. Nephrite is still nervous and edgy and has to take some pills to calm down, but always says "Disgusting! Disgusting!" while eating them (it's an another inside joke since the pills are called "Ami-tan 1000", a pun at Ami and how she gave him home made cookies which were disgusting). Zoisite "died" right in his first scene because of his anemia, reenacting his future Zoisite death move by move, up to the imaginary piano playing. And Kunzite was the most aggressive Police officer, causing even Nephrite to say: "He's the scariest of us all!" Of course, the confused Naru and Usagi just simply left the station as soon as possible. And those 3 evil girls dressed in black leather skirts looked cool, but it's hard to say if they really are a homage to the Amazon Quartet. Still, a hilarious fun full of reference jokes.
The second half of the Act was a lot weaker. The fighting sequences seemed really fake and cheesy, but they were OK. Makoto, Ami and Rei had small appearances while Usagi (she talked Naru and her friends to dress as Sailor V's helpers, and every girl liked the idea, watching their figures in a Senshi costume as if it was the newest fashion lipstick they have to try on) was the main character together with Minako. The ending scene with Luna could be scraped (it is too silly), but all in all Act zero was a lot of fun and should be included into the regular "PGSM" show. It was just the right thing for Christmas.
Forrest Gump (1994)
A story of Chance Being There
Forrest Gump, born in the 1940s, has a limited intelligence, but an unlimited heart. By following his heart he accidentally became successful : he managed to go to college because he could run fast and was dragged into playing football, go to the Vietnam war, meet John F. Kennedy, win Ping Pong championship in China, become rich by fishing shrimps and buying stocks from the Microsoft company. Yet all that time he didn't care about that at all. He only wanted to gain the love from his childhood love, Jenny. Evidently, she appears one day at his door step, desperate for money
Both Forrest Gump" and Being There" are ideologically identical films which are dead set at proving one point: all you need in life is luck. It's as simple as that. Both have retarded heroes that manage to become successful in life just by being at the right time at the right place. And both are great movies, although Being There" is unfortunately not nearly as popular. Forrest Gump", winner of 6 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes, is an extremely emotional roller-coaster with an tremendously naive and gentle hero that you just can't have the heart to hate. Such sequences, like the one where the 10-year old Forrest started running for the first time in his life, breaking those metal braces for his legs he had to wear because he couldn't walk properly, were so magical they sent shivers down my spine.
Robert Zemeckis directs the story in a form of a vivid fairytale, not always managing to keep it logical ( would Forrest's mom really let her son go to the Vietnam war? Could Forrest really run from the east coast of the USA to the west coast? ) or consistent ( stiff ending, and come to think of it, Bill Murray would have been much better as Forrest Gump ), but still letting the positive opinion prevail, and even cleverly playing with history, stating how small often inspire the big ( like when Forrest met John Lennon in a talk show and caused him to say the words like Imagine all those people", No religion too?". We all knew where that was going ). Many have criticized this film, calling it too pathetic, racist and even politically dubious, but I don't share that opinion. After seeing it I was left amazed, and that's the only thing that matters. Forrest Gump" is together with Schindler's List", Groundhog Day", Dances with Volwes", Rushmore" and Saving Private Ryan" one of the best films of the 90s. And yet I still can't shake that feeling away that Being There" should get more credit for the success of this film.
La strada (1954)
Fellini's best film
Italy. Zampano is the only member of a circus act traveling across the country and performing for street charity. One day he buys a new member for his act, Gelsomina, a young and slightly retarded innocent woman. Traveling around the country and performing acts - Zampano is breaking the chains from his chest while Gelsomina is entertaining the audience dressed as a clown - the two of them come closer...
"The Road", winner of an Oscar for best foreign language film, is a real full blood masterpiece and in my opinion Federico Fellini's best achievement. If you are on the lookout for a spectacular movie with epic proportions and deep truths about life, then don't look here, or better said you will get to see the deepest truths about life through the most simple and child like elements and symbols, such as when Gelsomina raises her hand on the street to impersonate a branch of a tree. It's just the way this film is. And yet, he is so brilliant. Giulietta Masina is simply fantastic as the innocent ( and slightly retarded ) Gelsomina that does almost everything wrong and Anthony Quinn is also great as the grumpy Zampano who discovers his real emotions for her only at the end on the beach, when everything is too late.
The tragic but uplifting story, presented in a form of a road movie, serves nothing more than as a vehicle for the 2 main characters to meet each other. Extremely touching and emotional, and always presented on a subtle base, while offering some bitter moments too ( Gelsomina trying to hide her tears from the nuns when she is leaving the church with Zampano who tried to rob the interior ). All completely spontaneous and magical. I could go on and on about how great "The Road" is, but I won't. Words do not do this film justice. You have to see it for yourself and you won't be disappointed. It's one of the most beautiful films of the 50s and Fellini achieved it with simple, raw, down to Earth elements from everyday life.
La dolce vita (1960)
Fellini out of control
Rome. Marcello, a persistent journalist, is always on the look out for a hot story. He finds his suicidal girlfriend poisoned by pills in his apartment and manages to save her from sure death by bringing her to the hospital. But he doesn't have time for mourning: he catches a plane the next day to talk to the famous star Sylvia, but her husband beats him up in the end. Marcello rushes to one place where a girl had a vision of the holly Mary, then is later on interrupted by a visit from his father. Marcello tries to write a book and end a relationship with Emma
Federico Fellini is a tremendously talented director, but in my opinion more successful in his first film-making phase of realistic, simple films with heart ( shining La Strada" and La Notti Di Cabiria" ) than in his second from Da Dolce Vita" ( 1960 ), in which he went on producing weird, surreal and heavily pretentious satires and farces. The only excellent film from his second phase is Amarcord", which ironically reminds us of his first phase of realistic films. La Dolce Vita" is a quality drama that criticizes an empty society that feeds on shallow, sensation oriented stories from the press and media ( the word Paparazzi", used for the first time here, later on even became a part of the dictionary ). In that aspect, it doesn't attack the journalists as much as the society that fuels them. But although Vita" won the Golden Palm in Cannes and was nominated for an Oscar for best director, set design and script, it feels rather shallow and empty itself.
Many sequences are great - for example, the opening shot in which a helicopter is shown carrying a statue of Jesus Christ, or the one where a man is protecting" his face from the photographers by placing a newspaper in front of himself as are some details but Fellini decided to put too much of his ideas in the story, causing it to go out of control. After 165 minutes of screen time the movie loses it's energy and becomes a little bit of a bore. I guess the ending scene with that rotten fish sums it up for me: subversive and profound, but too pretentious for it's own good.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Not the best Murray film
The once famous actor Bob Harris is shooting a TV commercial in Tokyo. Being the only American among Japanese, he feels isolated and out of place. But he soon meets a young American girl, Charlotte, who is also lonely in Tokyo. Being the only English speaking persons around, they become close friends, but avoid a romantic relationship...
It's almost incomprehensible what amount of prizes actor Bill Murray won for "Lost In Translation" - a BAFTA, Golden Globe, BSFC Award, BFCA Award, CFCA Award, Independent spirit award, LAFCA Award, NSFC Award, NYFCC Award, OFCS Award, SFFCC Awards, Sant Jordi Award, Seattle film critics Award, SEFCA and TFCA Award. Plus he was finally nominated for that damn Oscar. Now, Murray really is a special actor, but "Lost" is not one of his best films. It's a good drama, but too simple and silly to be profound or brilliant. It raises an interesting point how two "outsiders" can become friends because they have some basic things in common ( like a language or mentality ) and how isolation changes people. Also, it's a very refreshing concept from Sofia Coppola ( who won an Oscar and Golden Globe for this for best screenplay ) to avoid a direct romance between a young woman and older man and just show them in a platonic relationship. But I still have a feeling that "Lost" could have been a much better film.
I've been to Japan and I can relate to some things in the story, but I can't accept that the only interaction of that culture and the American characters is reduced to Bob not understanding what his Japanese director is saying to him while shooting a TV commercial ( the line "More or Roger Moore?" is funny, but feels out of place and somewhat too silly ) or Charlotte just aimlessly wondering around a Buddhist temple and crossing a street while a Dinosaur is shown on a TV screen on a building. In the end the plot seems a little stiff and aimless itself. It is definitely a good, quality film, but in my opinion Coppola missed an opportunity to put some more sharpness into it and create a really magic spark, which manifests itself only in the beautiful sad ending underlined by the song "Just like honey".
More relevant in terms of nostalgia than in terms of quality
The animated 80s hit show "He-man" about the strongest man in the universe, the title hero, protecting his country against the evil forces of Skeletor was one of my very personal and favorite series when I was a child. But today, as a movie buff familiar with Fellini, Pasolini, Kubrick, Capra, Wilder and others, I just have to face the music: "He-man" wasn't such a good product. One of it's main flaws is the one dimensional view of the makers. For them, every man in that world was strong and had muscles like a wrestler, while every woman was thin, attractive and always wearing make up. Not only that, but He-man/Adam is a pretty stiff character. That's why the cynical Skeletor is often much more realistic and amusing ( his priceless line "Bring them to the dungeon and make sure they are made...uncomfortable!" to his henchmen when they capture a few men ). Plus the story doesn't have a straight beginning or an end.
Season 1 is simply very weak. Even the best episodes, the ones on DVD, like "Teela's quest" and "Prince Adam no more", seem like campy travesties. Luckily, the second season is a lot better, featuring some great stuff, like "Into the Abyss" where Teela gets stuck in Greyskull's pit : when Adam transforms into He-man, thousand light beams fall down into the abyss, and then back up again, creating a magic scene. So there is something about "He-man". The animation, although over recycled, is fantastic and realistic, reminiscent of Japanese anime. The idealism, emotions, honesty and the sheer innocence of it's good characters is somehow beautiful, almost as if the makers still believe in human kind. It makes you want to be a better person.
And, in some traces, there are brilliant situations operand. Just take 2 of my favorite episodes, both written by J. Micheal Straczynski, "Double trouble" and "Mistaken identity". In "Trouble" Skeletor accidentally discovers a mirror which creates opposite clones of one person. Evidently, it creates his clone, a good Skeletor, who tries to help He-man. In "Identity" Tharan, a teenage boy, goes on a date with his girlfriend Kareel, but she always keeps going on and on how great and perfect He-man is. The jealous Tharan then lures He-man into a cave with a help of false dragon sounds, and exits afterwords, making Kareel think that he is actually He-man. Of course, she gets all excited, but then he is kidnapped by Modulok. Kareel calls for Adams help, boldly stating how "Tharan, her boyfriend, is He-man and in trouble". I wish there were more such sweet episodes, and less those formulaic about how He-man just simply defeats Skeletor. But compared to some todays "kids" shows, you really can't complain about "He-man".
Annie Hall (1977)
A masterpiece, when you think about it
Sometimes I wish Woody Allen was cool and self confident, and not always nervous, unsure and geeky all the time. But you can't deny that he's a very intelligent person. His best film, the quiet and understated masterpiece "Annie Hall", is so full of jokes and inventive style it can make your head spin. Actually, this is one film I wish I had a script of so I could slowly read all those dialogs which are being said too fast. In 1978 "Annie Hall" beat "Star Wars" and won 4 Oscars ( Best picture, director, screenplay, actress Diane Keaton ) and one Golden Globe ( Best actress Diane Keaton ).
The simple comedy about a romance between the New York comedian Alvy and Annie is enriched by tons of emotions and inventive film techniques which even Jean-Luc Godard would be jealous of. In one scene Alvy is talking to Annie about art while the subtitles are presenting his *real* words, about how he wants to take her out! In the other they are having intercourse in bed while Annie's ghost/mind is absent and sitting on a chair! Alvy is walking down the street and saying how he watched the animated movie "Snow White and the seven dwarfs" and fell in love with the witch and presto, in the next scene he is drawn in animation in the middle of that film, having an argument with his lover, the witch. The list goes on and on.
I remember that I couldn't watch this film when I was a kid. I found it to be too boring. But today I completely understand it. You just have to think about it. Like when Alvy is so happy he says to Annie that he doesn't just love her, but that he "luurves her, loaves her and luuf's her." Also, some of the gags are simply quietly hilarious, like when the hero is narrating his society as a child, commenting on everything ( "Those who don't know nothing, teach. Those who don't know how to teach, teach gym. And those don't know even that, teach at our school." ).
King Kong (1933)
The original "King Kong" from 1933 is a fantasy classic with a lot of trash and camp elements, actually so many that one may wonder how the makers got away with it. If the movie was made today, following the same scene by scene style throughout the story, it would probably be called silly ( including the wooden acting by Fay Wray and others ), but in those days it made a big impact and enjoys the nostalgic feel to it.
The build up to the exciting part on Skull island is brilliant and lasts for 40 minutes. We find out how Ann has to steal an apple in order not to starve in New York as an actress, but she is then discovered by an adventure film director Carl. He offers her a role in his next film which is shot on a ship in Pacific Ocean and she accepts. There she falls in love with Jack Driscol ( an entirely unconvincing romance ). The action starts on the island and offers a lot of spectacle and ground breaking fantasy style ( for example, a 2 minute long shot without a cut of a stegosaurus charging towards the crew which shoots him ). The sequence of Kong and tyrannosaur fighting is fantastic and much better than lets say the Dinosaur fight in the silent classic "The Lost World" from 1925. And it's also much more violent, like when Kong breaks tyrannosaur's jaw.
One may complain that there are too many monsters present on the island which inevitably results in over the top feel to the story ( like when a Diplodocus attacks the crew from the lake ). Also, the ending in New York is today somewhat schematic looking. Still, it's an excellent, opulent film that works as both sheer adventure and interesting statement about how a love ( Kong/Ann ) between 2 different races or cultures can't work.
King Kong (2005)
A ( tragic ) love story that exceeds cultural and racial barriers
I didn't expect much, but the 21st Century King Kong turned out to be a neat surprise. Some critic's are even now calling it "the best remake ever made", it's average grade on the site rotten-tomatoes.com is very high ( 7.7/10 ) and the director Jackson and the score were nominated for a Golden Globe.
I found the first "King Kong" from 1933 to be an excellent "B film", but in it Ann never liked the 25 foot ape ( underlying the hidden message that a love story between 2 different races/cultures can never emerge ) while here it's exactly the opposite. In the opening shots normal apes in New York's Zoo are shown, obviously to tease the audience. The year is 1933 and the great depression is in full swing. People are sleeping on the streets while one man finds a sandwich in a garbage can and eats it. The details are rich and realistic in this 30 minute part, giving a sharp contrast to what's to come. Ann ( a fantastic Naomi Watts ) struggles to be an actress but her theater is shut down and the only job she gets offers from are adult peep shows. But in my opinion the main star is Jack Black. He literally steals the show and I wouldn't mind if he would win an Oscar for this. He is so funny as the comical director Carl and gives his character rich and juicy lines, making him more real than all of the "Lord of the Rings" characters put together. In one scene he wants his new film to be financed, but one womanizing producer asks him: "What about the boobies?" - "What?" - "You know, bazookas, boobies..." - "What are you, an idiot? You think Cecill B. DeMille would be taking this kind of crap?"
The sequences on the ship are equally relaxing, but once the crew arrives on Skull island the action starts and lasts for almost an whole hour. I liked the Dinosaur stampede and Kong's fight with 3 tyrannosaurs, but the sequence in the pit with those flesh eating worms and insects was too much and bounced down to trash. The movie would have been much better without it. Jackson's unusual camera angles, on the other hand, are great ( we get Ann's perspective when she is being shaken up and down while in Kong's hand ) but the story suffers from some plot holes and inconsistencies ( how did the crew bring the giant Kong to New York? ).
The final, third act, turns the whole concept upside down. It shows that man is an animal too, while at the same time gives the beast ( Kong ) human gestures. The greed turned Carl and his producers into savages, jackals that want the success, and the New York society is no difference ( when Kong screams in chains the audience is applauding ). Also, there is no difference between the jungle on Skull's island and the jungle in the industrialized and cold big city. In the end Kong just wanted to be loved, and Jackson made a nice point at that.
Modern Times (1936)
Good, but not as good as "City lights" or "The Great Dictator"
It seems the people who read my reviews always give the positive "helpful" votes for those films I praise, while they punish my comments for the films I don't like. I guess the same will happen now since "Modern Times" is the highest praised Chaplin film on IMDb.com and I'm giving it only a 7 out of 10. It's a very good film, a brave and interesting satire on the great depression in USA, but Chaplin's other films like "City Lights", "The Gold Rush" and "The Great Dictator" were in my opinion superior and much more enjoyable.
"Modern Times" starts with a frame of a herd of sheep, then cutting right into a mob of nervous factory workers, pointing out how the capitalism and the industrialization are treating people like a bunch of slaves. Chaplin's Tramp is one of those workers who looses his sanity from non stop work and gets fired. He then meets a poor girl, lands in prison, gets bailed out for helping stop a jail break and starts finding new jobs, just to get fired again. The story doesn't flow as smooth as some other silent classics from the famous actor/director and is made out of little bits and events which aren't connected. Apparently Chaplin made this without any script, and it shows. Also, some of his Tramp's goofy jokes today seem a little outdated and childish.
Still, putting the flaws aside, this is a quality film with human message. In today's mechanical age it even seems somewhat visionary since the poor, jobless couple back then can easily be found even today on the streets. But not to say the film is without humor, like when the Tramp picks up a red flag on the street that fell from a truck and gets mixed up with a communist leader or when the feeding machine proves to be a real useless disaster, something the machine haters will love to hate.
The Great Dictator (1940)
Arguably Chaplin's *best* film
During World War I the Tramp fought for his country Tomania. Unfortunately, since the dictator Hynkel took the charge over Tomania, the Tramp has become in grave danger since he is a Jew. One of his friends is the charming Hannah...
Although many critics claim that Chaplin's best film is one from his silent era, like "City Lights" and "The Gold Rush", I'm going to boldly claim that his first sound picture "The Great Dictator" deserves that honor. Chaplin was nominated for 3 Oscars for this ( best film, screenplay, actor ) and it's a pity that he didn't win at least one. Because "The Dictator" is far superior to some other Oscar winning World War II films, like Bengini's silly "Life is beautiful". The whole story is extremely stylish, Chaplin's gags are mendaciously graded and executed and almost every gesture or movement is orchestrated like a good ballet. Just take the scene where the tramp is on the battle front and gets an order to throw a hand grenade. He wants to throw the grenade, but it falls down his sleeve. The way the tramp gets in panic and quickly removes his clothes is something so hypnotically funny you just have to see it to believe it.
Unlike his previous films, which were excellent but a little childish and outdated, "The Dictator" is dark, serious, cynical, touching and mature. Some gags are satirical ( German's minister of propaganda Goebbels is here called something like Garbage ) while some are just plain full of style ( the storm troopers want to hang the tramp on a light bolt but when their commender shows up they salute him and drop the tramp ). Also, the fact that the dictator Hynkel looks exactly like the Jewish barber gives the story a more profound message, the one how maybe he is hating and prosecuting himself and how even the most evil people have their good sides. The open ending underlies that, since the tramp and the dictator change their places. This truly deserves to be in the top 100 best films. A shining achievement.
Bishôjo Senshi Sailor Moon (2003)
I never thought I'm going to write this, but "PGSM" was excellent
In 1992 a very popular anime was released, "Sailor Moon". In 2003, as some sort of a 10 year anniversary, "PGSM", the live action version of the anime, was made. The story is probably known to everyone: Usagi, a normal teenage girl living in Tokyo, meets a talking cat named Luna ( in this version a stuffed puppet ) and gets a mission to transform into Sailor Moon and fight against evil forces of Queen Beryl...
Although the live action is weaker than the anime ( the flaws are plot holes, the lack of spectacle, the mild intensity and the range of the story ) it is much better than it seems. In some other director's hands this could have ended in an catastrophe, but in Ryuta Tazaki's hand "PGSM" turned out to be an excellent show. The wild enthusiasm of the authors and their weird special effects are incredible: Ami's transformation into evil Sailor Mercury is somehow cool. Actually, it's rather got show-off" written all over it ( when she stomps her boot into the water, and then those dark purple wings" on her dress ), but it's stylish. Or the Sailor Luna ( a 10 year old girl form of Luna )transformation: it was so hilarious and senseless! You see her shake her butt, then Luna shows up, then there are psychedelic colors in the background, the girl makes some moves as if she is licking her hands as a cat and presto, she is a sailor senshi too. Rarely will you ever see more kitsch than you get to in that transformation scene. But the authors still did it without a blink of the eye, and you have to give them credit for such courage.
Miyuu Sawai is absolutely fantastic as Usagi. It's almost impossible not to like her. She is wonderful in many of the comical situations ( when she has a huge fight with her mom a frightened Shingo is hiding under the table and eating his breakfast ) and later proves to be equally effective in drama ( her mourning all day long in bed after finding out Mamoru is already engaged ). The weird part of the story had Minako being a famous rock star, but even that worked. "PGSM" is a sight to behold. In their mix of camp and art, the authors bravely turned the impossible things of the anime into reality ( the costumes, demons, flashing rays )and got away with it. I counted all the grades of all the Act's and the show's average grade is 8.3/10, believe it or not. I don't know how they did it, but they did.
American Beauty (1999)
It could have been excellent without the pretentiousness
The 40-year old Lester has entered a midlife crisis. His wife Carolyn and his daughter Jane hate him. One day he snaps, quits his job and decides to seduce Jane's teenage girlfriend Angela. Meanwhile, Jane is falling in love with the next door neighbor...
"American Beauty", winner of 5 Oscars and 3 Golden Globes, is a highly praised black satire on the American society ( it's currently no. 32 on the IMDb's top 250 films ) but for some reason I didn't like it. It reminded me too much of TV soap operas like "Dawson's Creek" and "O. C. California". Still, I can appreciate the clever script full of funny dialogs ( Carolyn introduces Lester to Buddy. Lester says to him that they met before. Buddy, not so convinced, nods with: "Yeah, I remember you..." Then Lester replies: "It's all right, I wouldn't remember me either." Then Carolyn says to him: "Don't be so weird, honey!"- "All right, I'll be what ever you want me to be.") and quirky characters ( the scene where Angela teases Jane that she wants to have "10 000 babies" with the outsider Ricky ).
Actually, every ingredient for a great film is there, but for some reason they don't work as a whole. Mostly that's the fault of the awful music which should have just been scraped, the stiff directing and the irritating end. Also, the story could have been so much more elegant and light, instead of just so heavy and pretentious to death. It's an uneven mix of great and weak parts, and the ending result is only an good film. For some this could be interesting, despite the flaws.