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Monthly Archives: February 2008

8 minutes into the film I fell in love with it, precisely when the nerve-wrecking church-bloke finished his speech about bringing bibles and whatever into the war zone “in order to change people’s lifes”, Rambo only replying “Are you bringing weapons?”, and after an “Of course not” he turned around with a dismissive “Then you are not going to change anything.” (flavoured with a hearty “Fuck the world.”) The film is not a “good” film, do not get me wrong on this, but it is a nice kick-ass piece of entertainment if harsh, non-compromising violence without any artificial additives entertains you in movies (also using some of the neo-realistic instruments that made “Private Ryan”‘s stunning images, so it’s actually a spectacular watch). I think “viciously brutal” is the expression that fits it best.
Of course the performance by all those actors who want to show they are actors are embarrassing (“the woman” in particular – the “guy with the big gun”, however, is pretty good – and don’t bother to remember names, there is only one name of relevance: “Boatman”). I find myself, however, to be very comfortable with what Stallone does in his late roles as fleshy mountain of a man, just beyond “use best before” date, but not convinced that the writing on the package was correct.
Direction is a bit clumsy at times, as is editing, but there is compensation for all this at the end, when Rambo shows how strongly he influenced a certain generation of movie-goers: Am I wrong or does everybody (everybody!) who ever saw First Blood know exactly which road he is walking down at the end of the film? I did not check against the old film, but I don’t think I need to. It is one of those images burnt into memory.
Now let them rest in peace, those Balboas and Rambos, and do not make it a habit of only doing requiem movies for the rest of your life, but well done on those two, I think there could not have been other ways of finishing off those characters (maybe more politically balanced ones, ok…).
Surprisingly good ratings at IMDB (and I thought only I had a bad taste…), but the critics (see IMDB list and RT) were not too pleased (check out the insults at Kermode’s).

Well let’s say in comparison to “Phantom Menace”, this is the much better movie, and shorter, too! I am the last person on the planet to find it (You Tube Counter at 2 Million plus), but still: Star Wars retold.

And while we are at it, what would this posting be without reference to the other shortest Star Wars version. 30 Seconds, and bunnies!

The two compilations (, from …er … lectures? Q&As? Shows? Ok, from shows Kevin Smith ran through some US and Canadian  universities and (on the second volume) in London are entertaining ramblings by somebody who just runs a loose mouth and knows his fan community well to enough to pull their strings and press the right buttons. Neither Kevin Smith movies nor his narrations do have too much redeeming value or even enough wit to survive another decade, but never mind: these hours are full of mindless are sometimes well-written and usually well-performed fun under the "artist talks about his work" cover. Which he does rarely. But there are very good stories about the first time he had sex with his wife, about his involvement in such projects as a Prince doumentary or a Superman film, and that is fair and funny enough.

Some reviews:,,,,

I think the reason why this film stirred so much excitement, in particular around the fact of it not getting nominated for best foreign-language film at the Oscars, lies only in the fact that Americans are not very used to intense chamber-like drama anymore. The film is very good, no doubt, but I would guess that at any given moment, there are 20 films in European cinemas that are of siimilar quality. It features a terrific horrific villain who can easily match Javier Bardem’s latest man-eating character, has a painful scene of suspense when the “heroine” is caught in a horrible family birthday party, while her friend and sister in suffering is lying in a hotel bed, waiting for her bodily tortures to commence. There is a powerful reconstruction of the dull atmosphere that was most characteristic of all those pseudo-communist dictatorships in Europe’s East, and there is an excellent juxtaposition of the inept and clueless central character, who would completely collapese without the sidekick taking care of things. Screentime actually reflects this, und reverses roles accordingly. I found this to be maybe the most interesting feature, that the support cast is being established as the actual lead not just in terms of content and plot drive, but actually in terms of presence.
Excellent drama, with creative, yet no-frills, camera work. Another astonishing example of current Romanian cinematic resurgence!
Roger Ebert
NY Times

I am not sure whether it does the film any justice, but this summary of
Bruce LaBruce's "Otto: Or, Up With Dead People"
is just hilarious: "Jey Crisfar plays Otto, a zombie who's discovered by an
aspiring filmmaker and cast into her political porno movie."

In brief, this is another Tim Burton movie. This says it all, positively as well as negatively, for me. It has a fascinating and fantastic setting, beautiful production design, excellent hair, nice acting. It has Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter’s bust on display. That’s all quite nice to watch, pleasant to look at. But: never will he manage to surprise the audience by managing to get more out of the material than you would expect. Once you have explained that the film is about a barber who goes on a rampage and slits throats by the dozen just to get revenge on a city rather than an individual enemy, you have basically the whole film in your own imagination. No need to watch it, really, because the way Burton executes the principle ideas does not transcend the story beyond what can be told. Fascinating, in a way, and with unexpected ideas for resolution: maybe he should not direct his films, but rather develop them and then give them away? I don’t know. What he’s doing he is doing with great reliability, if it would only be a bit more original… The music is not very interesting, by the way.
A.O. Scott of the NYT praises the film’s savagery (by which I think he means the unrelentless efforts to cut throats, that were a bit tiring after the fifth or sixth one, I have to say). Roger Ebert also was quite charmed.

Ms Zacharek of is more on my side: “the display [of violence and blood] is joyless without being particularly horrifying, either — there’s something perfunctory and inconsequential about it”.

Without doubt, “Sunshine” has the most beautiful sun I have ever seen in a movie. Extremely regrettable that I did not see it on a big screen, I am sure it would have been amazing, especially together with the subtle soundtrack that gave me an eerie feel about the whole film. I initially wondered why someone like Doyle would want to make a film with such a slow and reflective premise: a couple of people traveling to the sun, which takes a while, trying to save the world on some very abstract level. Not too many aspects of the plot appeared to offer the kind of kinetic energy that I link to Danny Boyle’s name. But then again, who am I to judge, having only seen (or at least only remembering having seen) Trainspotting and 28 Days Later (I suppose I must have see “Shallow Grave” and “A Life Less Ordinary”, but cannot for the life of me remember anything about them). Those two were pretty good, but I always found it strange how well-received Boyle’s films, or those two in particular, are among audiences and critics alike, while I enjoyed both (a lot), I would not put them on the shelf with Those That Will Last.
So I was watching this Science Fiction movie but that slightly over-rated director, and oddly, the parts where I did not follow him was when it got more energetic and kinetic, meaning the last act, where all boredom and self-reflection is being substituted for some form of Alien-like stand-off, only without Alien. Fair enough to introduce a dramatci highlight , but when it follows more than an hour of showing that drama can evolve without diablo ex machina (sorry…), why not leave it that way and go with what you have and what is organically part of the film. A slight letdown at the end, a slide into more conventional territory than was necessary.
Roger Ebert
New York Times Review

For almost a year now one of the most anticipated movies, the clear favourite for most directorial and best film awards, the clear favourite in best male supporting actor for a viciously vicious Javier Bardem (who looks as if cut out of an Addams Family cartoon), with beautiful photography illustrating the glorious emptiness of the American Southwest.
It is all very well, no doubt that the Coen family has risen their level above the dullness of Intolerable Cruelty and the impossibly non-funny sacrilegue of Ladykillers. But.
But on top of all the beauty and beautiful emptiness and beautiful silence (loved the soundtrack score…), there is this feeling of something missing, and it may be that the missing thing is the film’s heart. I suppose the eerie feeling of boredom that is not really boredem but rather a permanent adoration of the picture’s beauty or the actors’ brilliance comes with the slow pace of storytelling the film choses. This would probably be less prevalent when watching it in a cinema, the pictures taking you away to a better place where pale killers cannot reach you and Tommy Lee Jones’ southern brawl fills your head and forces you to concentrate in order to understand what the hell is going on. Boredom can be beautiful, if the film convinces you that it is necessary to mirror the characters inner self, think Solaris. But boredom in a film about a killer chasing a thief having stolen from drug dealers having even killed the dog (or “dawg”, as they would pronounce it)? A little bit of tougher editing would have done well, and when you see that they chose to do this themselves, it may lead to the evertrue notion of letting specialists do specialists’ work.
I really liked the film, no doubt, but it could have been quite a lot better if (1) expectations had not been risen so high over those many months and (2) it just had been put together a bit more dynamically, also allowing to merge the various stories better. Tommy Lee Jones is brilliantly tired, but they leave him a bit alone in all this mess they created.
Roger Ebert Review
A O Scott for the New York Times

If it continues like that, I will watch the remaining episodes in fast forward and stop wondering why there has not yet been a third season. A call center supervisor has developed some super-hearing abilities (not clear why or how) which drives him increasinlgy mad. His wife also dies (not clear why and how) and he completely loses it. Nonsense, but the lead actor is actually not bad. IMDB:

Amazingly, when the opening credits started and the music kicked in over the company logo, I thought it was the latest John Carpenter thing I was about to watch, with strangely crappy and electronic-sounding musical blubber. It somehow continued that over the starting scenes, I was somehow more concentrating on the shortcomings instead of just going along with it. I guess this is because the film suffers from some serious flaws and needs to be watched “in context”. This context being: it is supposed to be watched in the 3D Imax version. The film regularly has scenes that look as if showing them in 3D is the only justification, and you are constantly reminded that you are sitting in the wrong theatre if you are not wearing the glasses. That is not to say that the film does not look good. It actually looks quite eerie and sometimes disturbing, and you could call it “appropriate” in its brownish and clay-coloured look. But the 3D-scenes are distracting if you are just being reminded of them, without being actually able to enjoy them (and after the experience with Harry Potter 3D, I expect them to be amazing). The other context element I found irritating is that the film is an animated feature, and I needed to remind myself why Zemeckis wanted to produce an animated film and not just use those real-life actors that were hanging out at the set and have them play their parts properly. But to be honest: I did not find a reason. You can make a real-life film that looks equally stunning, I am sure. Maybe you have slightly more trouble convincing Ms Jolie to wear the same costume, but then again, Mila Jojovich or somebody would be happy to step in, I am sure. The choice of animation leads to some scenes (especially quick action scenes) looking like an Xbox game, and that is just a bit crappy when you don’t have a game controller in your hand. At the end of the end, it is a pretty entertaining form of nonsense, but less innovative or spectacular than I’d wished.
Official Homepage with quite a bit of entertaining stuff.

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