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Movies i've seen...

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Posted

I finally got to see The Dark Knight at the local IMAX theater. It was a fine movie. Complex but logical, fast and surprising. And although the suit was important, it was not the whole movie. :D

I liked the yin/yang-ness of it - the good in the bad, bad in the good; the turning of the city and its people's expectations upside down. A nice symbol of this was The Batman flipping The Joker physically at the end, while The Joker flipped The Batman mentally. There were lots of interesting details throughout which will make the DVD worth getting. Sadly, I think Heath Ledger did do a very fine job as The Joker. An Oscar nomination wouldn't be amiss.

It might have been better to give it an R rating. Pretty bleak. Should young kids see it?

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In Bruges

I've been out of work for the past couple of weeks and have on a couple of occasions now ventured down to the local bookshops and cinema to have a browse. Without knowing anything about this film, it was the only sort of film on offer that I thought I'd like, so I took the chance. Not to build it up too much, but it was surprisingly good.

The story focuses around two hitmen who have been told by their boss to lay low for a while in a quaint Belgian town (that looked lifted straight out of the 13th century, or thereabouts), until the heat back in the UK settles down. The odd mixture of two barely educated hitmen surrounded by a city rich in culture, but with its own seedy underbelly, allows the film to find a balance of charm and humour amidst the tragedy and brutality of the lives of these two men. A nice balance of light and shade all around, and an enjoyable film, albeit a low-key and unconventional one.

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Posted

I thought the film was just OK, parsec on account of Farrell's terrible ( in my view) accent. The film did achieve a sort of delicate balance but Farrell drove me crazy: not in acting per se but his voice and speech. Have you seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Val Kilmer and Robert Downey? That is an off-beat comedy ( more funny than serious in contrast to Bruges) in a similar vein. You should check it out.

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Posted

Charlie Kauffman, probably one of the greatest screenplay writers alive. We already got a proof of his genius by seeing Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Now he has graced us again with ultimately the best screenplay so far

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The Day the Earth Stood Still. A race of super powerful alien environmentalists come to destroy the human race only to change their mind because of tears in a graveyard. That is the film in a nutshell. I hate to cheapen the film like this but it lends itself to it. I love the premise, the special effects ( the giant alien robot is great and the spheres as arcs was fantastic), the alien's cause but none of it executes very well. Its hokey " we listen to Bach" so we're worth saving mess. "We can change!" Engaging ideas that die on the screen. Has anyone here seen the original film? I'd like to hear some opinions because this left a sour taste with me.

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I just got back from seeing Slumdog Millionaire. This is an outstanding movie. The story centers on the lives of three Bombay slum dwellers, Jamal, his older brother Salim, and a girl named Latika whom Jamaal and Salim meet after the Muslim section of the slum is attacked by rampaging Hindus. At the time that they meet, all three are less than ten years old, and by the end of the movie -- when Jamal goes on the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" -- Jamal is an 18-year old chai wala at a Mumbai (since by this time in the movie it is no longer Bombay) call center. Here is a fuller plot summary.

This movie does a wonderful job of capturing the utter filth of Indian slum living, but it is not just a movie about those slums. Similarly well presented is the organized system of abuse which is India's beggars, but it is not just a movie about how children are abused and maimed to make them more effective beggars. The movie also does a magnificent job of characterizing India's civil police, including their well-known can't-be-bothered (at best) approach to dealing with communal riots.

What this movie does not allow the audience to do is be simply horrified by the conditions in the slums or because of the sorts of lives to which the slum dwellers (especially the children) are subjected. Instead, what this movie insists be noticed is the resiliency that knows no resentment, the resiliency which persists despite all of the horrid conditions the slum dwellers face incessantly. It is this resiliency, and this resiliency alone, which best guarantees survival.

In addition to its outstanding cinematography, its good humor, and excellent pacing, one of the most remarkable aspects of the movie is its use of music. The music used was especially effective right from the very beginning of the movie when a couple of policemen start to chase some young boys who are playing cricket on an airport runway while planes are landing and taking off. The chase is the first introduction to the slum, and no better music could have been chosen.

This is not a Bollywood movie; it was actually directed by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting acclaim), but it was nice to see a little Bollywood show up at the closing credits. After all, no one does a better job of celebrating the joy of life than Bollywood.

This is the best new movie I have seen in I don't know how long!

Michael

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Posted

I've seen Trainspotting so maybe I'll see that later.

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Posted

Danny Boyle's films have had a strange pattern, ever since Trainspotting. The first two-thirds of the movie goes gangbusters, and then the third act completely falls apart, as if you've bitten into a turdburger. This happened particularly in 28 days later and Sunshine. :banghead: That means in retrospect Trainspotting's excellence was due more to Irvine Welsh, the author, than the film director.

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Posted

Charlie Kauffman, probably one of the greatest screenplay writers alive. We already got a proof of his genius by seeing Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

People's different sensibilities are certainly, well, different. "Being John Malkovich" is one of the very few films I have stopped watching right in the middle, simply because I disliked it so much.

*maddog does not like surrealistic/unrealistic films or art.

OTOH, I very very much appreciate what you have drawn out of Kauffman's new film: certainly a thought-provoking sermon.

#410

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Posted

Danny Boyle's films have had a strange pattern, ever since Trainspotting. The first two-thirds of the movie goes gangbusters, and then the third act completely falls apart, as if you've bitten into a turdburger. This happened particularly in 28 days later and Sunshine. :banghead: That means in retrospect Trainspotting's excellence was due more to Irvine Welsh, the author, than the film director.

I forgot to comment on this. Nice observation, Cam. Sunshine really undid itself in the end which was a shame. And I didn't even pick up on the fact that 28 days Later was by the same director. That did not end well either. I'll see this new film Michael's recommendation though.

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Posted (edited)

Charlie Kauffman, probably one of the greatest screenplay writers alive. We already got a proof of his genius by seeing Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

People's different sensibilities are certainly, well, different. "Being John Malkovich" is one of the very few films I have stopped watching right in the middle, simply because I disliked it so much.

Strangely enough, however many years on it has been since Being John Malkovich came out, I still cannot make up my mind as to whether or not I liked it.

ETA: I should probably mention as well that we sat down to watch Quantum of Solace early last week. Enjoyed it immensely! Violent without being gory or gratuitous and certainly with some degree of (clich

Edited by Godot

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Posted

I caught Slumdog Millionaire yesterday and it does indeed break the director Danny Boyle's curse. Its a well made film, largely due to the raw acting talent of its lead characters and the interesting narration that folds the past and the present. I recommend it if you are looking for a optimistic film that leaves you with a warm feeling when the credits roll. :)

Godot, I thought Being John Malkovich was one of the most brilliantly twisted films I've ever seen.

(Posted via mobile device)

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I saw an episode of Family Guy the other day in which the morbidly obese and often sadistic, though strangely lovable Peter, critiques The Godfather as unlikeable because it "insists upon itself." I felt the same way about Being John Malkovich.

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Posted

I had to mention on "Quantum of Solace", not that it is a bad movie, not that there was bad acting, but it is a prime example of what I hate in films today, especially action films, the editing sucks. It sucks extremely hard. It sucks so bad that if I go back frame by frame I still can't tell what is going on. Oh sure, you can figure it out by the outcome of the "action scene", but to me I have absolutely no sense of tension at all.

I am watching squinting (no I don't need glasses ;) ), trying to figure out what is happening, they edit so quickly that there is really no sense to the scene.

Now, go back to some older movies, like the Matrix series (not that I liked all of the movies mind you) but the editing of the action sequences was excellent. Watch Jackie Chan movies and compare, there really isn't any comparison. Flow from shot to shot is wonderful, you cringe, you see what is coming up and how it affects people, just great.

I mean, when I am watching a bad Arnold film (Raw Deal) and the editing is better in the action sequences (and it was such a bad movie, but so much fun :D , almost as fun as Commando! ) than new movies, I really feel put off.

This new idea of how to edit action is total BS. Shake the camera wildly, cut to reaction shot, cut to fist, cut to reaction shot, cut to car falling off a cliff with about half a second of realization as to where the car is and what is happening, shake camera again just to be sure. Horrid.

Sorry, had to get that out of my system :)

-Scott

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I agree, Scotty. Bad Editing only compounds the incoherence that lies at the center of that film. A step back from the great Casino Royale. I'm wondering when someone will use all the technological resources they now have to make the ultimate martial arts film - pulling the camera back and using great choreography to do the most work while using the effects to hide or enhance details. I'd love to see some of those old, Gordon Liu type flicks built from the ground up but with the focus on the technique and skill of the actors ( or stuntmen) rather than quick fire shots that confound the viewer. I'm tired of the shaky camera myself and very perplexed why so many directors ( some individuality, please?) continue to do it.

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On New Year's Eve, we went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I admit that I was not particularly inclined to see this movie, thinking that the aging-in-reverse aspect to the storyline was likely too gimmicky. But, my wife said that she had heard a local radio talk show host describe the movie as a love song to New Orleans. Brad Pitt, the star of the film, has made a home in New Orleans and has been active in rebuilding the Ninth Ward which was utterly destroyed when the levees broke under the pressure of the Hurricane Katrina storm surge; much of the movie was filmed in and around New Orleans; so, Benjamin Button it would be.

To my surprise, I was very pleased with the movie. The cinematography was beautiful. It shows New Orleans - some might say not as it really is but, rather - as it looks when seen through loving eyes. But, is something seen with love less real, less actual? For those of you who are not familiar with New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana, this movie will give you a good introduction, and Brad Pitt accomplishes the most authentically New Orleans accent (which, by the way, is not the more familiar Southern accent; you have to come across the lake to the Folsom area before you'll hit the Southern accent) and demeanor that I have ever witnessed from an actor.

For us, the occasional replay of the actual television weather forecasts that ran as Katrina approached New Orleans in 2005 (the setting for the telling of the story takes place in a New Orleans hospital just before Katrina flooded the city) re-evoked the indescribable sadness that weighed heavily upon us for quite a long time after the storm, and, while those who did not experience Katrina likely would not have any similar feelings during the movie, the movie is moving in its own right -- especially, for me, with the advice it proffered for dealing with one's life when it is turning out to be something not to one's liking.

But, the truth is that it is not easy to pinpoint just what it is about the movie that is affecting. It is a love story, but there is what I can for now only describe as a subconscious subtlety which does not produce a conscious affect really until after the movie has ended. If I had to identify what it is that is so affecting, I think it would be the very secretiveness of the caring which we see near the end of the movie. It is the caring of a genuine love; it is not obligation; it has nothing to do with romance.

This movie is most definitely worth seeing, even if it is nearly three hours long.

Michael

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While technically not a movie (and non-technically, it's pretty old), I've been watching the first two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu recently. It's interesting to watch and often had me laughing at the quips that are sprinkled literally everywhere in the show. Admittedly, the first season doesn't inspire high hopes for the rest of the show's 7 seasons, but it gets progressively better as time goes on - so much so, in fact, that I bought the entirety of the show on DVD, hopefully to arrive soon. It's easily the best show I've watched in a while - while the premise is apparently shallow, the character development is significantly better than other shows like House, Bones, Life, Legend of the Seeker, etc. Considering it was made by the same person who came up with Firefly, I really shouldn't be too amazed.

Final word: watch it if you haven't.

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While technically not a movie (and non-technically, it's pretty old), I've been watching the first two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu recently. It's interesting to watch and often had me laughing at the quips that are sprinkled literally everywhere in the show. Admittedly, the first season doesn't inspire high hopes for the rest of the show's 7 seasons, but it gets progressively better as time goes on - so much so, in fact, that I bought the entirety of the show on DVD, hopefully to arrive soon. It's easily the best show I've watched in a while - while the premise is apparently shallow, the character development is significantly better than other shows like House, Bones, Life, Legend of the Seeker, etc. Considering it was made by the same person who came up with Firefly, I really shouldn't be too amazed.

Final word: watch it if you haven't.

I agree John! I didn't start to watch Buffy until the second last season it was on tv because I judged it by its name and figured it had to be silly. Silly me. Now I've watched the entire series. It's worth the time.

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I watched Towelhead this weekend. The title is somewhat misleading. This is more a 13-year-old girl's coming of age story and not so much about politics and prejudice, although they play a part. The girl is the daughter of an American mother and a Lebanese father. The screenplay, written by Alan Ball who wrote American Beauty, is based on a novel by Alicia Erian, a woman with an American mother and Egyptian father, and has some autobiographical elements.

There's a fairly high cringe-factor with this movie. There's a scene where her mother's boyfriend shaves the girl's thighs so she won't be embarrassed in her bathing suit. After this, her mother sends her to live with her father and the girl, Jasira, is hired to babysit a neighbor's son. She finds him looking at porn, which she hasn't seen before. The scenes of her figuring out sort of inadvertantly how to masterbate are pretty uncomfortable. And the consequence of this new acquaintance with porn is that she comes to the attention of the neighbor boy's father, who becomes infatuated with her.

Although uncomfortable, this movie was worth watching. I woke up in the middle of the night after watching it thinking I had figured out the intent of the movie. By morning I was not as sure of that, but what I came up with was this: This movie aims to get the viewer to be a 13-year-old girl discovering sex and see things from her point of view - things that happen don't always make sense to her; she is hurt in a variety of ways by adults, most of whom are more like children than she is; she slowly learns that she doesn't always have to do what other people want her to do - and the viewer is encouraged to take this journey with her. Directed also by Alan Ball, it does have a vague air of prurience, but not so much. I wonder if the focus might have been any different had it been written and directed by women.

The characters in this movie are neither all bad nor all good. It's even possible to sympathize a bit with the man who rapes Jasira, though it's clear he was a selfish bastard.

I can't say I "enjoyed" this movie, but I am glad I saw it. It's given me food for thought.

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I watched Towelhead this weekend ...

There's a fairly high cringe-factor with this movie. There's a scene where her mother's boyfriend shaves the girl's thighs so she won't be embarrassed in her bathing suit. After this, her mother sends her to live with her father and the girl, Jasira, is hired to babysit a neighbor's son. She finds him looking at porn, which she hasn't seen before. The scenes of her figuring out sort of inadvertantly how to masterbate are pretty uncomfortable. And the consequence of this new acquaintance with porn is that she comes to the attention of the neighbor boy's father, who becomes infatuated with her.

Although uncomfortable, this movie was worth watching. I woke up in the middle of the night after watching it thinking I had figured out the intent of the movie. By morning I was not as sure of that, but what I came up with was this: This movie aims to get the viewer to be a 13-year-old girl discovering sex and see things from her point of view - things that happen don't always make sense to her; she is hurt in a variety of ways by adults, most of whom are more like children than she is; she slowly learns that she doesn't always have to do what other people want her to do - and the viewer is encouraged to take this journey with her. Directed also by Alan Ball, it does have a vague air of prurience, but not so much. I wonder if the focus might have been any different had it been written and directed by women.

Thanks for the magnificent review, AllBlue. There is something about it that is alarming, almost even terrifying, certainly disturbing, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it is because of the scene with the mother's boyfriend. In any event, it would be interesting to see some of your thoughts about how the movie would have been different if it had "been written and directed by women."

Michael

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You know, I guess I don't really have an idea of how the movie would have been different. It might not necessarily have been any better. This movie has elements of the story of Lolita (the novel, I mean - I haven't seen the movie), but it grabbed me more because the perspective was the girl's. Maybe it can reach both directions across the gender divide because the book was written by a woman, but the movie was written and directed by a man.

Also, the more I think about it, the less I see the movie as prurient. I think care was taken not to show Jasira behaving or dressed like a woman. She was always in character as a 13-year-old. The clothing she wore was not revealing. The scenes where she has sex are not like porn. Probably a pedophile would find it sexually exciting, but the rest of us not so much.

***

I have to edit this description from my review: There's a scene where her mother's boyfriend shaves the girl's thighs so she won't be embarrassed in her bathing suit.

In this scene, the man doesn't actually shave Jasira. You get to imagine that. :shock: What you see is the mother's boyfriend smiling goofily and holding a razor while Jasira stands across the room wearing a shirt and underpants with shaving cream on her thighs. Pretty damned cringeworthy even without the actual shaving.

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I have to edit this description from my review: There's a scene where her mother's boyfriend shaves the girl's thighs so she won't be embarrassed in her bathing suit.

In this scene, the man doesn't actually shave Jasira. You get to imagine that. :shock: What you see is the mother's boyfriend smiling goofily and holding a razor while Jasira stands across the room wearing a shirt and underpants with shaving cream on her thighs. Pretty damned cringeworthy even without the actual shaving.

I expect that it is more cringeworthy precisely because you have to imagine it. The movie stimulates the imagination by which the viewer begins to anticipate what will occur (this often happens with music as well), and then the movie steps out of the way of the viewer's imagination to let it complete the action in a fashion that more thoroughly engrosses the viewer. Suggestiveness is often much more effective than explicitness -- and not just in movies.

Michael

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Posted

I saw

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Source

I saw this clip from a home-made movie adaptation of the video game "Half-Life". Truly amazing... this clip was apparently produced on a $500 budget which is what made it so impressive. If you go to their youtube page, you can watch it in HD.

I played this game a few months ago, and everything was extremely accurate from the models to the sound effects.

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Absolutely stunning, Michio. Wow. I'm not sure people that have not played the game can appreciate the technical achievement but great work by those guys. I'm now curious how all this was achieved so I can copy them. :lol:

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