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Smart People (2008)
5/10
unbiased CMU alumnus
19 April 2008
So graduating from CMU in 2007, I saw this movie being filmed on campus. Too busy with school while it was filming, I cared little for the movie. I care a little more now since I feel this movie did more to tarnish the name of CMU than it did help it. Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker were awful in this movie, which I believe is the product of the movie being miscast. Thomas Hayden Church definitely carried this movie in terms of humor and plot line. Ellen Page had her moments but being the antagonist in this movie, her role was not to win me over in any way. The movie tried to be smart and funny, but most of the characters were not developed enough and they sounded like they had the same voice, which is probably due to poor directing/screenplay. I think the movie assumed the audience would be smart as well and understand the jumps the characters took from scene to scene. However, without the proper flow, I found myself taken by surprise by the character's own revelations that I never even saw brewing. This movie tried being Wonder Boys, which is by far a MUCH better movie and representation of our school.
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Hard Candy (2005)
5/10
Can't see the appeal
7 January 2007
so, I watched this film without knowing completely what to expect. I knew it was about a pedophilia but that's about it.

I found the movie to be unpredictable in the "that so illogical" sense. Granted we were dealing with a 14 yr old righteous psychopath and a pedophile. I didn't get the message either. Is it a big @&!* you to pedophiles from underage girls? Is that really all the movie was about? I'm not trying to belittle underage boys/girls or women who have been taken advantage of but seriously, to make a movie where that's all it's about is senseless. Rape and pedophilia is about domination and control over the helpless victim and the role reversal was the only thing novel about the film. Overall, I found nothing to be insightful or otherwise original.

I'd like to point out that even though I don't like Sandra Oh (mostly cause she's fugly), I found her brief appearance brought a breath of sanity to a ridiculous situation and an overall ridiculous movie. I don't think I'd recommend this movie to many people because it just doesn't make sense most of the time and approaches the edge of tastelessness for most of the movie.

Spoilers from here on out***

So at the end, the pedophile decides he rather hang himself than deal with all the humility and shame of what he had done and potential jailtime for the mysterious disappearance of whatsherface (diane?). Haley wanted this all along without her presence there being known. So what was the point of staging the castration? to scare him to admitting in participating in diane's death? What's her obsession with Diane? Why could the pedophile suddenly break free of the rope after the supposed castration when he had all that time before his castration? I don't understand haley's decision to become this psycho champion of underage girls' rights. Nothing justified her decision (maybe except that it's just generally wrong). Even then, her vigilante spirit is undeserving of accolade.
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Jesus Camp (2006)
10/10
Very Powerful
20 November 2006
This movie is one of the must-see movies of your lifetime.

To see people acting this way about their religion is mind blowing for most. This movie approached this delicate subject with accuracy and zero narration.

People will feel very differently and strongly after seeing this movie. To appreciate it and not get caught up in the emotional circumstances is very tough. Unlike Farenheitt 9/11, the movie does its best not to drown you in propaganda. It is most amazing to see how the lives of children are transformed by the environment they live in. Is it better? is it worse? Can anyone say for sure? The question that should be asked is this: Is the feeling of salvation worth the sacrifice of freedoms never given? Is knowing that God is the answer to every question a terrible way to live life or the greatest? This movie is a great documentary and should not be receiving bad comments because it happens to conflict with your own beliefs. To do that would be ungodly and illogical all at the same time.
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9/10
could it have been done any better? probably not
16 July 2006
In trying to film a movie based on the novel Tristam Shandy, it is explained that this book is utterly unfilmable. modestly rather, they show the actual process of trying to make this movie while discussing the parts of the book that displayed meaning so they can decide what scenes will be added/cut in the movie. Cleverly enough, this entire process serves as a metaphor for the actual book and the digressive nature of it. Maybe not the most interesting topic to watch, but it is done well enough for you to be curious as to how everything is resolved. If you don't get the metaphor, you will not like the movie. If you do, you might be as delighted as ever that something quite unique has just been viewed.

didn't i just sound ridiculous?
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6/10
not that anyone would read this
16 July 2006
So first off, the message of the movie is maybe overdone. However, I think for the setting of the movie, it is something that most people can agree on. Some conservatives may feel that this movie is a direct attack on them, and i assure them that it should not be. The evil party in this movie is the conservative party, but it has taken a fascist sense in this portrayal. It also takes fills a more international role as it already uses the USA as a past failure. If there was one thing in that movie that made me think, it was that the USA could be subject to such chaos. Anyway, the message is rather inspiring and I think should be taken with an open mind. The problem displayed in this movie is more severe than today's quandaries are. It really is something to think about, but rather than to revolt when things really go wrong, start taking action today.. Write to your congressmen repeatedly about your opinions, vote, etc.. I digress, but i think you know what i mean.

I gave this movie a 6 because of these few things: story wasn't bad, lines were stirring at best but mostly average, acting was decent by most and very well done by ms. portman. the action was not breathtaking but it did somewhat satisfy. lastly, the ending of this message-dependent movie did not instill a lasting message. This was quite disappointing because I was expecting a very philosophical ending and the best they could come up with was a half-fast attempt at trying to summarize what the message was. This movie will most likely leave my memory banks quite soon and not have the slightest impression on me.
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3/10
a waste
28 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When a movie says it is "inspired by actual events", i have to wonder how much of it is made up. Naturally, I assume that everything except the name, rank and general outline of events is true for the soldiers. The narrative in the beginning of the movie tries to make me believe otherwise, so I assumed it was at least halfway true. (anyone else wonder how a lt. colonel and captain were involved in such a high risk operation such as this?)

Back to the movie: It was bad. The dramatizations of the POW's experiences seemed overdone or just poor. Emotions seemed too high for me to believe any of the pain that these soldiers felt. Good effort, I guess, on the roles of the filipino and Japanese military..the inclusion of the viewpoints in war movies are welcomed but should be excluded if acting is prejudicial or just plain bad. A lot of the time it seemed like the actors playing these roles all knew how to speak English and tried hard, but forgot how, to speak broken English. (Perhaps being Asian makes my perspective a bit different).

There was also a love story injected into the movie. What happened to that? Who are these people? bad character development, nothing to anchor the love on. It seemed just like some sort of high school crush.

Action? there was some. more about tension than anything else. perhaps this was the most real part of the movie. Although it doesn't blow you back, it is worthy of some mention. BTW How are the Japanese such bad shots? (only 1 American soldier was KIA)

This movie should not even be rented. If you still want to watch it, do something not recommended by the MPAA or just borrow it from your less than intelligent neighbor.

3/10 is for the inclusion of asians
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The Wild One (1953)
8/10
get's better every time i watch it
19 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Not enough can be said about Marlon Brando. He carries his character to perfection and evolves throughout the movie.

I'm barely 21 and have watched this movie at least 10 times. Black and white films are not commonly appealing to me but Marlon Brando makes it worth it every time.

The freewheeling attitude of the bikers are a joy to watch and johnny's unexpressed inner demons identify well with today's misguided youth, i.e. me. The movie lacks in plot, but remains in my head like a memory from my own youth. The story also contains a love story that allows Brando to develop an emotional side to his character. The rest of the cast give average performances and rely on the script to create their character.

It is an enjoyable ride full of emotion that everyone should get on.

one inconsistency that still kinda bothers me - after the fight, johnny shows no marks on his face at the bar.
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Oldboy (2003)
7/10
Culturally biased, may not be fully appreciated by some
19 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A majority of these comments are undeserving on both ends of the spectrum. Being a Korean American, there are things in the movie I take for granted.

replies on some previous comments: The octopus eating part which seems to confuse many of my fellow reviewers is something pretty common in south Korea. Wanting to eat something alive is supposed to symbolize strength.. etc.

Are Asian fighting scenes all supposed to be stylistically correct? The way people fight in this film is more realistic and identifiable with a country like south Korea. Even though we'd all like everyone else to think so, not all Asians are black belts (or whatever the highest level is) in their respective martial arts.

back to the movie: This movie relies on the audience's belief in the powers of hypnosis and most of the characters just being out of their minds. If you can't believe either, this movie will disappoint. The movie also heavily relies on the shock value of how far Woo-Jin goes to settle a childhood beef, and Dae-Su goes to save his daughter from knowing the truth as well as the gore and violence along the way. It may seem unbelievable that Woo-Jin would hold Dae-Su captive for so long, spend loads of money, then kill himself all because he had a relationship (one he had no shame for) with his sister that Dae-Su had allegedly told everyone about. Still, with Woo-Jin's extreme wealth and lack of further goals, it is plausible. The movie shows the various attitudes of Korean (asian) culture and how certain values like pride, shame, protection of family and self-sacrifice go beyond logic and reasoning. Desperation is frequently a strong catalyst of the character's motives.

Technically speaking, the actors generally gave good performances (no real standouts here), cinematography and musical score were excellent, and plot was okay. The ending could have been less forgiving. I would have been more impressed with more chaos and suicides, but I don't think this movie would have been received well in Korea if it had been so.

recommended to most Asians, not so much to narrower minded, skeptical people.

7/10
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