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Running Scared (2006)
So bad that it's not even so bad that it's good
Mr "The Fast And The Furious" himself gives a spectacularly bad attempt at becoming a "more serious" actor in the convoluted and unbelievably melodramatic Running Scared. This is less a movie and more a series of ridiculous short flicks tied together by a completely nonsensical storyline. Characters are introduced with no warning and disappear just as quickly, adding little to the story besides some laughably cheesy dialogue that leaves you honestly wondering how anyone would ever consider actually making this movie after reading the script ("I'm a mack daddy pimp and I'm gonna cap yo' ass!").
Add this to a series of overblown, melodramatic shootouts with very little emotive value or explanation, leaving you honestly wondering how you go there and also who is on what side and why the two sides are fighting in the first place. Oh, and most of the characters in the shootouts have been in the movie for about five seconds prior. What also stands out is one particular child abduction scene that again seems thrown completely randomly into the movie with no back-up story at all and is almost overdone enough to be in an early John Waters movie. This also for some reason has an amazing amount of detail put into it in a movie where detail really hasn't been given much thought.
Finally, the cinematography is awful. Film students are probably creaming themselves over the use of special effects, camera angles and various flashy techniques, but the key in using these techniques is to use them in moderation to emphasize certain scenes. Which this movie doesn't. In fact, jerky zooming shots are used so often I'm surprised I didn't get nauseous from watching.
So all in all, don't see this.
The Departed (2006)
Could have cut an hour out
I have no Idea why this has been getting such great reviews. Granted, if Scorcese had carried on like he did in the first 40 minutes of the movie, this could have been brilliant, but I think he's getting slow in his old age.
At about halfway through this movie you'll see what I mean. Suddenly there is too much going on at once and it turns into a stupid "everybody suspects everybody else" cop drama with ridiculous plot twists to boot. The last 20 mins are totally stupid and unnecessary, so I would walk out before they start.
Other than that, it's not all bad. Leo and Jack Nickolson put in some stellar performances and the soundtrack is pretty good. Still, only a 5/10
Creepier than the average slasher.
I was just reading all the reviews claiming this movie to be just a Korean version of a Hollywood slasher movie, but I found that there was something to it that I Know What You Did Last Summer just couldn't capture. It's true that this movie is nothing particularly original plot-wise, but there is definitely something in the idea of blending Hollywood slashers with Asian ghost movies that works.
The result is a slasher with more gore than Hollywood has the 'guts' to do these days (sorry), which is always a good thing, as well as a Sadako-like character that adds a much creepier edge to the film than a guy wearing a scream mask. Add some very effective directing and acting (with the exception of one certain 'lawyer') and you have a film that's definitely worth watching.
Imagine to yourself a combination of these ideas from famous books and movies:
- The drug soma and repression of emotions from Brave New World - Big Brother from 1984 - The underground resistance groups hiding forbidden memorabilia (books) from the government a la Fahrenheit 451 - The extreme bureaucracy and faceless, identical people working like drones in huge skyscrapers formerly depicted in Brazil. - The stupid, annoying, drawn-out and overdone fight scenes from the Matrix sans any reason whatsoever for this superhuman fighting machine apart from his "training."
Now add to that some stupid Hollywood sentiments and a few standard "summer blockbuster" action, throw in some wooden acting and what you have is Equilibrium. This is not so much a film as a patchwork of all the previous famous dystopic stories censored and tailored for Hollywood rather than the gritty and disturbing movie that would do them justice. Don't see this.
Riri Shushu no subete (2001)
Brutal portrayal of the Japanese school system
In a lot of ways, this movie is an indictment of the Japanese school system similar to Battle Royal. That said, where Battle Royal is a futuristic allegory, this is a brutal portrayal of what could be real life.
There are two problems with the movie. One is the constant interruptions by script from the BBS that the main character is posting on. Some of these are relevant to the story, but many seem superfluous and do little to aid plot development - becoming highly tedious. The second problem is the use of hand-held camera. This is used very effectively in some places, however in others it is a bit too "amaturish" and shaky and does more to give the viewer a headache than to depict the scene it is involved in. There is also the trip to Okinawa, where the entire length of the holiday is filmed with the hand-held cameras and is so drawn-out that rather than an important segment of a film, it appears more like the actual home footage of someone's holiday.
Other than that, this film is brilliant - with highly developed and unique characters, a lot of drama and a beautifully crafted storyline. I would recommend it.
S o near and yet so far
Well I'm giving this a 7 because of the movie it could have been. Generally, most of these comments are pretty accurate, but it really was a very good idea - the movie shows the media obsession with violence, similarly to natural born killers, but with the added spin of the effect this has on children. This was not meant to be a serious movie and while people have been criticizing it as more of a child's fantasy than a real drama, I think that this was the point and I rather criticize the movie for not making it as obvious. The acting leaves a lot to be desired and the script could have used some editing but this could have been a very good movie. Shame really.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Glorified violence? (very light spoiler)
Most of what there is to say about this movie has been said, but I've just noticed the amount of comments saying something along the lines of "this movie is hypocritical because it attempts to be against glorified violence in the media but it glorifies violence." Now it just seems to me that these people missed the point of the movie somehow - the entire point of the violence is that it is too drawn out and over-theatrical to be taken seriously. The violence in the movie just furthers the satire of the way in which violence in movies is glorified by taking it to ludicrous levels and developing characters such as Mickey and Mallory who can do nothing but just shoot people, which is another dig at Hollywood villains.
The scene with the Indian who takes them in is an example of this - despite his being kind enough to take them in and give them food, they had to shoot him because they are satirical evil characters who just kill anyone they come into contact with.
About Schmidt (2002)
Beautiful, haunting reflection on a modern lifestyle
I was just reading the other comments and I saw the amount that say the movie was boring, that it didn't go anywhere and that it had no storyline. Basically, I think a few subtleties flew over some peoples' heads and a lot of people have been too taken by Hollywood stories with needless plot twists every 5 minutes.
I found that the best part of the movie was actually the fact that the character of Schmidt doesn't actually change and that despite a few major "revelations" about his life and decisions that he appears to be set on, he still seems to weak to achieve what he wants in life. This is what i think pulled the storyline out of mediocrity-there's too many stories about people who realize their life is going nowhere then make some huge change to it, this one is about a realistic man for whom the furthest he can go to make a difference is a simple $22 check to an African orphan every month accompanied by a letter, containing his most intimate thoughts, that the kid can't even read. In essence, the letter captures the complete insignificance of his thoughts and how little impact he can have on anyone's life.
Overall, there is some good dark comedy, but If you want to laugh for a couple of hours, this isn't for you. If you want fast-paced action and needless plot twists, go and watch something else. This movie is just a simple and eloquently told tale of a man who's life has no significance to anyone.
Harum Scarum (1965)
So bad it's quite good
Well I gave it a bad rating because it really is that bad, but It's still enjoyable for that very reason. The plot is extremely predictable but somehow still very stupid and far-fetched and while this isn't exactly a winning combination, it is quite an achievement. The music isn't Elvis' best at all and all of the characters give some of the least convincing performances ever and what is in some ways trying to be a serious movie is riddled with pointless slapstick from a talented acrobat-thief-escape artist-midget.
So overall, it is quite fun and if (like me) you happen to catch it on mid-afternoon cable then it could be worth a watch, but it is a pretty abysmal movie and I wouldn't recommend going to any trouble at all trying to see it.
Brilliant, unpretentious, charming
Well exactly as my summary says, this is a very well made straight-out unpretentious movie about a fading wildlife-film director's attempt to re-create his past success that made him some sort of cult phenomenon. Reading a few of the other reviews, I think this is evidently a "hate it or love it" film, however a lot of people seem to have missed the point-I don't think this film was really intended as a comdey, to me it was more just about the relationships and interactions between the various characters and maybe even an exploration of the human spirit.
The motivation for this project is revenge on the "leopard shark" that killed his best friend/long-standing partner and there is a lot of emotion on the way, including an inspiring relationship between him and his long lost son, whom he has never met but was a huge fan of his as a boy, and the constant drama between him and his wife, who's father's money has payed for his entire career.
Wes Anderson has excellent cinematography, with some great CGI, depicting marine life in a very retro fashion, and beautiful landscapes, as well as a very well put-together soundtrack including Sigur Ros, The Stooges and Ziggy Stardust era Bowie played in Portuguese with a classical guitar accompaniment. We also see Bill Murray at his best as well as a heart-warming performance by Owen Wilson, who I am not normally a fan of. The script is also very well written and the story is so well put-together that even an attack by pirates or looting a large scientific institution seem plausible in a serious movie about an oceanographer! Overall, this is a brilliant film and there isn't a lot more I can say.