Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Thief (1997)

In 1946, a soldier fathers a child then dies before its birth. Jump to 1952: on a train, the child and his mother meet a handsome soldier who makes a play for her. She accepts. Posing as a married family, the soldier finds them a rooming house where he becomes everyone's favorite through his good looks and generosity. Meanwhile he gives the boy, Sanya, lessons in life: to fight back, to win at all costs. The child's mother, Katya, is head-over-heels in love with Tolyan, the soldier, but the relationship becomes rocky when Tolyan's true plans for the rooming house become clear. It starts them on a treadmill of flight that risks Katya's life, Tolyan's liberty, and Sanya's trust. Written by
The Thief (1997)

A cute tale of a young boy growing up although with serious subject matters. Life was certainly hard in Russia after the war, but strangely most of the characters seemed to be either traveling on the train or just hanging out.

Special Features:
1. International Trailer
2. Photo Gallery
3. Behind the scenes: from the 1997 Venice Film Festival

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spider Lilies (2007)

Director Zero Chou's entry into the 2007 San Francisco LGBT Film Festival tells the tale of a teenage webcam tease who decides that a tattoo will make her more appealing, and the memories that meeting the alluring artist arouses. Jade (Taiwanese singer Rainie Yang) is a cute, young webcam performer who thinks that getting a tattoo will enhance her sexy performance skills. Upon venturing out to the tattoo parlor owned by half-Japanese ink-slinger Takeko (Isabella Leong), Jade recalls a crush she harbored ten years ago. Subsequently entering into a surreal cyberspace seduction that emerges through computer images, flashbacks, and lavish costumes highlighted by lime-green wigs, Takeko finds the lines between reality and fantasy blurring as Jade's teasing slowly chips away at her fragile facade. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 98 mins

Spider Lilies (2007)
Even though the main character (Jade) is lively and cheerful all the time, there is a sadness in her actions especially her on-line activities. She never really exposes herself to strangers but just teases.

The review above is pretty complete, except for the relationship each girl has with a close relative that does not remember them or past experiences. The two girls loneliness keeps them apart but eventually an intimate relationship develops. PG- Muff diving...

Extras include:
1. Deleted scene, nearly 3 minutes of extra love-making with necking and heavy petting.
2. The making of Spider Lilies.
3. Teddy Awards Ceremony.
4. US Trailer/Theatrical Trailers/ and More from Wolfe

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)

This is capitalism, a system of taking and giving. ... Mostly taking. The only thing we didn't know wasd when the revolt will begin.

Twenty years after his influential debut, Roger & Me, Michael Moore returns to his roots by pulling back the curtain on capitalism to reveal the insidious role it has played in the destruction of the American dream for many people. Back in 1989, auto workers in Flint, MI, were lamenting layoffs and wondering how they would support their families without jobs to pay the bills, or benefits to ensure their health. Flash forward two decades, when cities all across the country are feeling the same pressures that Flint residents were back when GM left them high and dry. With an average of 14,000 U.S. jobs lost every day and taxpayer money constantly being pumped into failing financial institutions, the question must be asked: how long can this go on before the entire system collapses? Is there really any hope for Americans who are losing their homes to foreclosure and seeing their savings get wiped out at an unprecedented rate? In order to seek out an answer to this question and many more, Moore takes a trip to our nation's capitol, engaging average Americans in conversations about the prospect of repairing America's failing, debt-ridden economy along the way. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)

You have to know that it will be a propaganda hit-piece when it starts off with bank robberies. It immediately goes down hill after that to confuse Roman Empire with the US. He obviously has no clue as to what Capitalism is, even if the word has lost all its meaning. A word promoted by its most vocal opponents of it like Karl Marx. This sums up how the critiques are basically looking at it wrong.
Indeed, it is probably no exaggeration to say that economics developed mainly as the outcome of the investigation and refutation of successive Utopian proposals – if by “Utopian” we mean proposals for the improvement of undesirable effects of the existing system, based upon a complete disregard of those forces which actually enabled it to work.
HT: Quotation of the Day… by Don Boudreaux

Interestingly, he has a clip of Ronald Reagan slapping a woman just as he introduces womens' liberation movement. No implications there, no, not at all...
Earnings of aircraft pilots and flight engineers vary greatly depending whether they work as airline or commercial pilots. Earnings also depend on factors such as rank, seniority, and the size and type of aircraft flown. For example, pilots who fly jet aircraft usually earn higher salaries than pilots who fly turboprops. Airline pilots and flight engineers may earn extra pay for night and international flights. In May 2008, median annual wages of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers were $111,680. The middle 50 percent earned between $81,580 and $150,480.
Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers
Salary Snapshot for Commercial Pilot Jobs

The links to pay scales of pilots is because he said that some pilots were getting food stamps and getting paid less than $20k per year. That I find impossible unless it is a pilot working less than 40 hours a month. Since he does not provide enough details, or at least leaves out relevant information, I am not sure how to verify his facts.

Anyway, it is hard to believe that one of the biggest entrepreneurial capitalist around has no idea (or shows no signs that he does) what capitalism is. A complete loser of a film based on faulty ideas of what he thinks capitalism is.

For extras, he includes longer segments of the respective interviews with the commentators.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Zero Patience (1993)

The surreal and the supernatural join forces in this extremely unusual "AIDS musical." The story features the ghost of the French-Canadian airline steward (played by Normand Fauteux) who, according to And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts' book about the AIDS epidemic, was the origin of one of the largest outbreaks of HIV. Known as "Patient Zero" by the Centers for Disease Control, the handsome and promiscuous steward was basically the "Typhoid Mary" of the AIDS phenomenon. In the story, Patient Zero comes back from limbo as a ghost to see his friends suffering from the syndrome: some dying, the rest protesting at ACT-UP rallies. He realizes that his memory has been vilified as the extremely promiscuous source of all this suffering. However, it is only when he becomes aware of an exhibit being prepared at the Toronto Natural History Museum, one which singles him out yet again as the villain, that he becomes aware that the exhibit's curator is an unusual being in his own right. In fact, the show is being put together the famous nineteenth-century explorer of the upper Nile, Sir Richard Burton (John Robinson), inexplicably still living, working at the museum, and filled with misguided homophobia. Though no one else can see Zero, Burton can, and eventually the two become lovers and the ancient explorer comes to view "Patient Zero" as "the heroic slut who inspired safe sex." Musical numbers include a high-camp underwater ballet production of Tell Me The Story of My Life. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 100 mins
Zero Patience (1993)

Quite the hilarious campy movie for adults only. The general dialogue should make this an R at least especially the two anuses singing. The musical numbers is what made this film enjoyable for myself even if the filming was very amateurish and not fluid especially with the Act-Up meeting.

Homoeroticism to the extreme!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Timecrimes (2007)

An ordinary guy takes an extraordinary step through time in this science fiction thriller. Hector (Karra Elejalde) is spending a few days in the countryside with his girlfriend, Clara (Candela Fernández), when he sees something that catches his attention while playing with his binoculars. Looking at a nearby house near a wooded area, Hector spies a beautiful woman taking her clothes off, and decides to take a stroll and give her a closer look. However, when he arrives at the house several minutes later, the woman is lying in the grass and appears to either be dead or passed out. As Hector examines her, he's attacked by a strange man and flees on foot. Hector seeks refuge in a building that turns out to be a research facility owned by a mysterious scientist (Nacho Vigalondo), who gives him a place to hide inside a futuristic closet. However, Hector realizes it was actually a time-travel machine when he emerges a few minutes later and looks out the window to see himself standing over the unconscious woman in the distance. Los Cronocrimenes (aka Timecrimes) was the first feature film from writer and director Nacho Vigalondo, who also appears as the scientist. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Timecrimes (2007)

Hector keeps going over the same stretch of time and can not alter the past, as in the first experiences and he continues to play the same scenario as he seems more driven to repeat the same mistakes than to correct the problems. The only thing he seemed to change was who was going to die in the end. We also never do find out how the three Hectors become back to the single one.

The movie was a good attempt at portraying the time travel with overlapping stories from Spain. Needless to say, I did not like the ending, but no one knows what someone would do to get his/her life back to normal.

Timecrimes (2008)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teorema (1968)

Terence Stamp is known only as "The Visitor" in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema. The mysterious stranger insinuates himself into the home of a wealthy Italian family, where he exerts a curious, sensual spirituality over everyone in the household. He then proceeds to seduce everyone in the family (male and female) including the maid, which gives each person some sort of unique epiphany. Because he reveals so little about his innermost thoughts, "The Visitor" becomes all things to all people. What it boils down to is this: Is the enigmatic visitor Christ, or is he the Devil? Matching Terence Stamp's multi-textured performance every step of the way is Laura Betti as the family's maid; Betti, in fact, won the "Best Actress Award" at the 1968 Venice Film Festival. Director Pasolini adapted the screenplay of Teorema from his own novel. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 98 mins
Teorema (1968)

Clearly the visitor is the devil as he creates the ruination of a family and its individual components. The family may have had troubles before but it was still functioning. Instead of promoting the best in each individual, it brought out the nihilistic thoughts and then manifested itself in self destructive behaviors, like the father running naked in the desert, the mother whoring herself and ending up in a ditch getting it, and the maid getting buried alive -- although supposedly not to die.

Special features included a long interview by Giuseppe Zigaina entitled "Pasolini and Death: A Purely Intellectual Thriller {52 minutes-dubbed}. Sure enough it explains the life of Pasolini as a communist/Marxist. And this explains his own nihilistic thoughts even through his death by suicide. Truly a troubled self-centered individual with delusions of grandeur. He wanted his death to stand out above all others. In the interview it is brought up that he anguished over his mother that was ill at the time. Of course suicide is a selfish act.

"I observe my massacred self with the quiet courage of a scientist."
P.P.P. - Poesie mondane, 1964 -

--Either from grief, or neurosis
or boredom from a weekend afternoon
a man has finally put death to some good use.--
P.P.P. -Orgia, 1966 -

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Kingdom (1994)

Originally created for Danish television, Morten Arnfred and Lars von Trier's supernatural thriller The Kingdom chronicles the bizarre occurrences at the title hospital, the largest and most respected hospital in the country. While the series deals with such real-life complications as murder investigations and malpractice suits, a more villainous force may be unleashing itself upon the hospital staff. After a patient (Kirsten Rolffes) sees the ghost of a young girl, many of the staff members find themselves involved in frightening and bizarre situations like an ambulance that appears every evening but then instantly vanishes. Eventually, a female doctor (Birgitte Raaberg) becomes pregnant, but the accelerated development of her fetus could be a sign that the evil forces have found a way to enter more permanently into the world. This film consists of the first four episodes, or the entire first season, of the television series. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 272 mins
The Kingdom (1994)

The Blockbuster series is of two disks with two episodes on each disk with some special features. Have no idea why I picked this one, but it was pretty boring. The one funny part was the attempted abortion that was being performed in the neurosurgery rooms. They had visitors going through the hospital when all kinds of strange things were happening including a patient and some staff holing up a broken out section of the wall in the basement, sex in the sleep studies room, and the abortion.

They tried some drugs on the "foetus" and it did not kill it. The nurse said she had to kill it before it was born because that is the difference between abortions and murder. Ultimately, a man's head came out of her birth canal...pretty funny, I suppose.

The one part I liked was the guy at the end giving a summation of the episode in a way too cheerful demeanor. I watched the first two episodes on the first disk but just skimmed over the next disk, except for the ending with the attempted abortion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Story of Marie and Julien (2003)

Jacques Rivette's Histoire de Marie et Julien (The Story of Marie and Julien) stars Emmanuelle Béart and Jerzy Radziwilowicz as a pair of ex-lovers who get back together after their lives change. Julien (Radziwilowicz) is a clock repairman whose girlfriend has left him. Marie (Béart) is a mysterious woman who does not bleed after being cut. Her boyfriend has died. Marie and Julien had once engaged in an affair when they were each involved with other people, and now that they have no emotional entanglements, they slowly begin a new relationship. This film started decades before as a project in Rivette's "Scenes From a Parallel Life" series and abandons the majority of the formal rules imposed by the filmmaker on the other films in the cycle. ~ Perry Seibert, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 150 mins
The Story of Marie and Julien (2003)
Extremely slow movie at over 2 1/2 hours with little of plot material. I kept expecting more acts of violence but ultimately only talk about how people had committed suicide. Although it appeared at times of high intrigue with ransom demands along with an attempt at finding the documents in Julien's home, ultimately it was just the private affairs of a woman and her desire to keep the family in-fighting personal.

The special features included interviews with Jaques Rivette and Emmanuelle Beart. Did not watch either.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sada (1998)

Based upon the case of Sada Abe, who on May 17 1936 killed and emasculated her lover. These events took place during a period of war, economic depression, public unease and growing militarism, a time of unrest and confusion when public opinion was, at best, unpredictable. Sada, condemned by the law, found herself lionized by the press and hailed as a 'saint' of love. Because she committed murder out of passion, the purity of her motivation elevated her from the status of criminal to that of popular heroine. Written by L.H. Wong
Sada (1998)
Really just a silly story although now I read that it was based on "A True Story of Sexual Obsession". The plot line about the student that fixed up her groin area after being sexually assaulted seemed to be missing some elements to it. All the men just went head over heels when having sex with her and she had an insatiable appetite for sex. The love making scenes were nearly comical although no nude scenes. It was a lot of jumping up and down and floating above the bed.

It was her idea to start choking him with the scarf and then he continued it on until according to the film he asks her to not stop when choking him.

At best just a mediocre film.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Firemen's Ball (1967)

Firemen's Ball was Czechoslovakian director Milos Forman's final film in his home country; he was scouting locations in Paris when the Russians moved their tanks into Prague in 1968 causing Forman to decide to remain an expatriate. Because of the supercharged political climate of the era, critics read all sorts of allegory and hidden meanings into the Firemen's Ball. Other critics simply accepted the film as the slapsticky tale of a disastrous small-town celebration in honor of a retiring fire chief, and laughed accordingly. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 73 mins
The Firemen's Ball (1967)

One of the special features on the DVD was a director's discussion about the film and the controversy. In it he does imply and state that he was making fun of the bureaucracy of the socialist system. He clearly was not sympathetic to the socialist causes.

It is true the comedy of the whole movie was foremost his goal. A lot of slapstick comedy with even the start of the beauty pageant. It was more or less a gawk-fest of old men admiring younger although most not very attractive. For example, one girl takes the initiative to go get a bathing suit on under her clothes and thus models in the suit while the men are staring like little boys looking at a chocolate cake. When the time comes for the beauty pageant, only one girl has courage to come up on stage with the rest resisting with all their strength. Ultimately the girls all end up in the women's restroom until one of the fireman hear the fire alarm. After saving a few of the victims items, they go back to the pageant and one old woman is declared the winner.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chori Chori Chupke Chupke

Raj Malhotra (Salman Khan) and Priya (Rani Mukerji) are members of high society. They meet, get married and soon Priya falls pregnant. Soon after, Priya trips, miscarries, and becomes permanently infertile. On the doctor's advice, the couple conceal this fact and decide to secretly look for a surrogate mother to bear Raj's child. Raj meets Madhubala aka Madhu (Preity Zinta), a prostitute who agrees to have Raj's baby, for the money. After some much-needed grooming, Madhu meets Priya--who will be left unaware that Madhu was a prostitute--and the three depart for Switzerland together to carry out their plan.

Soon Madhu is pregnant with Raj's child, and he happily tells his family that Priya is expecting. Meanwhile, his business partner is sexually harassing Madhu until she's ready to leave, upset at the thought that Raj told his friend that she is a prostitute (he didn't). Although Priya finds out about Madhu's past, she stiill believes that Madhu should carry their child, and she begs her to stay. Finally the partner assaults Madhu while (he thinks) she's home alone, but Raj saves her. Overwhelmed by Raj's kindness, Madhu falls in love with him.

Raj's family suddenly arrives in Switzerland. While Priya reaches for pregnancy-simulating pillows, the family meet the heavily-pregnant Madhu and Raj tells them that she's a friend who's staying with him and Priya while her husband is business-traveling. Raj's grandfather (Amrish Puri) arranges a religious ceremony and tells Raj and Priya that they are going back to India; this also includes Madhu.

The ceremony is very important so Priya sends Madhu as herself. The emotion at the ceremony is too much for Madhu and she becomes conflicted about giving up her child. Priya finds Madhu's room empty and the money dumped on the bed, and pursues her to the train station, only to slap Madhu when she confesses that she loves Raj. By the time Raj gets there, Madhu has gone into premature labor. The doctor announces that only one--Madhu or her child--can be saved, and Priya asks him to save Madhu. However, both mother and baby survive and seem likely to thrive. Madhu gives the baby to Priya, who quickly settles into a hospital bed with "her" baby. The doctor tells the family that Madhu's child was stillborn.

When Madhu is ready to leave, she promises Raj that she won't go back to prostitution. When he takes her to the airport he realizes that she loved him and kisses her forehead. Madhu leaves happily, ready and able to start fresh, as Raj and Priya start their own new lives as thankful and proud parents.
Chori Chori Chupke Chupke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A cute romantic comedy dealing with a love triangle and all the misadventures as a wife that can no longer conceive after a miscarriage. They continually have to make up more tall tales as they try to deceive the grandfather that the wife is pregnant. His lifelong wish is to have a grandchild and his heart would not take such disappointment. After both women are said to be pregnant only one live birth can come out so they have to ultimately say the surrogate had a miscarriage also as the doctor makes the announcement.

Other than the prostitute being pregnant, the similarities of scenes with Pretty Woman was over the top. Madhubala aka Madhu (Preity Zinta) plays at first a dancer at a night club, so it was not revealed at first that she was a prostitute until a little later. The film quickly assumed that the two professions overlap and that she was a prostitute. Even following along with the Pretty Woman script I knew that his business partner had to confront Madhu about being a prostitute and to try and force his way on her. Of course the scenes of Rodeo drive was really close. The only difference seemed to be less of a part about the hotel concierge and his noting the "niece" aspects of the hotel guests. Madhu also did not have any friend that she confided in like the roommate in Pretty Woman.
Dust jacket: Chori Chori Chupke Chupke is a unique thriller for the whole family from Abbas-Mustan. Unique because there is no crime committed, no villian, no vamp, not even a single negative character in the film! It is the unusual and intriguing web of human relationships in the film that contribute to the edge-of-the-seat suspense in the film.
Chori Chori Chupke Chupke is also the unique love story of our three main protagonists Raj (Salman Khan), Priya (Rani Mulherjee) and Madhoo (Preity Zinta) but it is not the eternal triangle!
It is a love story of three people, which ends not in tragedy but in the totality of relationships.
It is a love story enhanced by youth and melodious music, it is complete family entertainment that succeeds in arousing your curiosity and keeps you in suspense till the very last scene.

Yes, unique in that there was only one act of misery as the first miscarriage dashes the dreams of a family and especially a mother and father. The love-making with the prostitute is never brought up or shown any hint of it. I even assumed that the love-making and confirmation of pregnancy would have been done before leaving for Switzerland.

The one aspect they fail to realize is that the "business partner" was a villain in that he not only diminished her self-worth by being derogatory but also attempting to rape her after money was enough to become a whore for him. Also though not villains, the people at the "Rodeo shops" were very rude and unfriendly with Madhoo.

Well worth watching this fairly long movie {156 minutes according to Wiki}.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reconstruction (2003)

Danish filmmaker Christoffer Boe makes his feature debut with the psychological romantic drama Reconstruction. Set in Copenhagen during a 24-hour period, narrator August (Krister Henriksson) works on his novel while his wife, Aimee (Maria Bonnevie), has a one-night stand with photographer Alex (Nikolaj Lie Kaas). The next morning, Alex appears to have lost touch with his surroundings as his friends, family, and girlfriend Simone (also played by Bonnevie) treat him like a stranger. Reconstruction won the Camera d'Or at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi
Theatrical Feature Running Time: 93 mins
Reconstruction (2003)
It definitely is a unique film when the category given above is "psychological romantic drama". I am not sure what it was suppose to "Reconstruct" as Alex tries to piece some of his random thoughts together. If the whole world looks strange then perhaps it is first person that is mistaking fantasy for reality. I kept thinking that Alex was going to suddenly come to grips with his reality but ultimately in the end Aimee just disappears and along with the plot lines with the writer and his cheating wife.

Strangely even his apartment is no longer there, although I wonder then how he gets to change his clothes in the movie. Sadly though the movie just lacks story depth as we never get a good grasp of what the purpose of Alex's life or just the random writings of August.

Reconstruction (2003 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaShooting

The film was shot almost entirely in available light. Using available lighting is not merely stylistic. It may come as no surprise, but Boe doesn't work with storyboards or set schedules. He likes to run and gun.[1]

They shot Super 16 on an Arri SR3 using three different stocks. Then the film was scanned, color-graded, and digitally masked to CinemaScope. The scan was a simple one-light, and the team did no color correction, the opposite of today's trend to perform a digital intermediate. They also pushed the emulsion for extra grain.
I noticed that a lot of the scenes film stock showed an inordinate amount of color picture grain. It was not distracting to the plot line or the quality of the film but from my camera experiences it definitely jumped out at me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Very British Coup (1989)

Based on the speculative political novel by Chris Mullin, this British miniseries starred Ray McAnally as Harry Perkins, a third-generation Communist, lifelong steelworker, and a powerful labor leader. Thanks to strong support from the industrial countries, Harry was elected Prime Minister of England, whereupon he set to work putting his left-wing ideals in action. Harry's efforts were compromised by a vast right-wing conspiracy, fomented by a number of important Conservative money men and set in motion by Britain's' MI5 and America's CIA. The winner of four BAFTA awards, including Best Drama Series and Best Actor (Ray McAnally), A Very British Coup aired in three parts over Britain's Channel 4 from June 19 to July 3, 1988. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
A Very British Coup (1989)

A Very British Coup was a made for television 3 part series {mini-series}. For special features it includes an audio interview with Author, of the book the shows were based on, Chris Mullin.

Although the title said "British Coup", it seemed more like a US coup as the evil guys were Americans conspiring to topple the UK government. Production wise it was pretty good considering made for TV and had an overall good script. Well worth watching.

I put this one in the category of "Leftist Dogma" as Harry always had simple answers to complex problems. For example it is completely ironic that the UK government borrowed funds from a Russian bank. History should tell us enough to know that Russia never did before or after the filming of movie including all the debt crisis they have experienced since release of the film. But in all honesty some of his ideas seemed plausible enough to work, although I just wonder if all the workers were striking why didn't the capitalists strike also when the government started implementing some leftist agenda.

A Very British Coup - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Plot (TV version)
Harry Perkins, an unassuming, working class, very left-wing Leader of the Labour Party and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, is elected Prime Minister in March 1989. The priorities of the Perkins Government include dissolving all newspaper monopolies, removing all American military bases on UK soil, unilateral nuclear disarmament, and true open government. Immediately, the right wing and allies scheme to depose him, with the U.S. the key, but covert, conspirator.
His move to try to make the government more open is definitely a nice proposal, but as learned from the Wiki leaks, other governments might not like it much. Removing the American military bases did take up a lot of the film time and was reason implied in why the Americans were so up in arms. At one time Harry compares the bases to their own private aircraft carriers. Although it was lost the idea that aircraft carriers' most important trait is their mobility and their rock does not move fast enough.

Since this is after the environmental scares of the 70s, then nuclear power was also on his cutting block.
In the TV version the Prime Minister is presented with forged evidence of financial irregularity following a long running affair, with the suggestion that he should resign rather than see the story made public. He agrees to make a resignation speech on live TV, but instead announces the attempted blackmail to the world along with a new election. As the screen fades to black we hear the sound of helicopters and a radio announcer talking about the "constitutional situation".
It was also pointed out by the author that the closing scene had a close-up of a military jacket and thus portraying a possible coup on Harry's government.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Private Property (2006)

The sale of a family home causes some ugly truths to be uncovered in this drama from writer and director Joachim Lafosse. Pascale (Isabelle Huppert) is a middle-aged divorcée living in a restored farmhouse in the countryside with her twin sons, twentysomethings Francois and Thierry. After years of bickering with her ex-husband about the estate, Pascale has decided to sell the farmhouse with an eye toward opening a guest house in a resort community, but the twins are vehemently opposed to the idea. Pascale persuades her boyfriend to talk with Francois and Thierry in hopes of changing their mind, but the meeting does not go well and the twins inadvertently discover a long-held family secret that causes them to turn against Pascale, as well as one another. Also starring Jérémie Rénier and Yannick Renier as the twins, Nue-Propriété received its world premier at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 89 mins
Private Property (2006)
To me it was more like the older brother being a brat and wanted things his way and only his way. No job to speak of and just smooched off his mother while supposedly attending classes. Although both were lazy at times, Theirry thought he could just take his other brothers bike to go to town without even asking. Ultimately his rage caused his brother harm. The third party certainly did not help the situation also and partly due that the mother was not completely open and truthful about the whole situation to her boyfriend.

The one most weird moments is when "family affairs" become too natural. In the first 10 minutes of the film, does she not only pose with sexy clothes but pees with the bath room door open and then even takes a shower in the same room as the older brother while it looks like he is ogling her.

Overall not nearly as well done as the dust jacket would have us believe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Stratosphere Girl (2003)

In this imaginative independent drama, Angela (Chloé Winkel) is a French art student living in Germany who loves to draw comics and creates elaborate tales drawn in a soft and romantic style. One night, Angela meets Yamamoto (Jon Yang), a club DJ from Japan, who invites her to come to Tokyo with him. Infatuated with Yamamoto, Angela impulsively agrees, and is soon sharing an apartment with a handful of Western expatriates who work at a nightclub where Japanese businessmen drink, sing karaoke, and date the "hostesses" for a fee. When money runs low, Angela signs on to work at the club, but when a customer is murdered in an ongoing mob war, she realizes she's entered a far more dangerous world than she imagined. The frantic pace of the city and the violence of her new environment has a strong impact on her artwork, which loses its serene qualities and becomes increasingly aggressive and mechanical. The Stratosphere Girl was written and directed by German filmmaker M.X. Oberg, who shot the film on location in Cologne and Tokyo. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 85 mins
The Stratosphere Girl (2003)
Even thought this was a relatively short film, it still had a lot of shots of the main actress just reflecting on things and sketching. The intrigue was well done with each character seemingly in turn backstabbing her.

Ultimately, the film was just a reset button technique and the real story was just her writing about her boyfriend and friends into the story. Not really needed on a thriller such as this one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Insomnia (1997)

Norwegian filmmaker Erik Skjoldbjaerg makes his directorial debut with the psychological police drama Insomnia. Swedish homicide detective Jonas Engström (Stellan Skarsgård) and his partner, Erik Vik (Sverre Anker Ousdal), arrive in a small Northern Norwegian town to help the local police investigate the murder of a teenage girl. When Jonas finds the girl's backpack, he sets a trap for the killer near a remote shed. While waiting to make an ambush in the morning fog, Jonas accidentally shoots Erik. He knows it was only an accident, but he decides to keep it a secret because he could lose his job. Jonas chooses to carry on with his investigation while trying to cover up the evidence of Erik's death. Meanwhile, he's unable to get any sleep due to the constant sunlight of the Norwegian summer and his increasingly guilty conscience. His only help comes from highly intuitive local police officer Hilda Haugen (Gisken Armand), who begins to form her own doubts about Jonas. As he continues to lose his grip on the case at hand, he becomes dangerously close to the suspects, Jon Holt (Bjørn Floberg) and Frøya (Marianne O. Ulrichsen). Filmmaker Christopher Nolan directed the English-language remake of Insomnia in 2002 with Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 97 mins
Insomnia (1997)

After recently watching all of the Dexter series on DVD, it was natural to see the same aspects with the detective especially with respect of getting too close to the perpetrator. The perp also was meticulous about covering up evidence that could implicate him. He also seemed to confess that he had been doing it for 20 years because fiction became too boring to him and wanted real life situations.

Although this was not one of the best films I have watched recently, it still portrayed the frustration with not getting any sleep and his anguish over killing his partner better than the remake version. Also, there seemed to be a certain sexual tension that the remake did not have, probably due to ratings considerations. Like in one scene the detective fiddles with the teenage girl in his car and we see her having sex with the victims boyfriend later on. The detective watches the scene from behind the door as he was interrupted leaving the murder weapon under his bed.

Nothing special for the special features on the disc, but the disc comes with a small pamphlet which has the following passage:
,Skarsgard creates a man who is outwardly assured while harboring profound insecurities within. He cannot handle any kind of intimacy, nor can he come to terms with his responsibility for the death of Vik. He sustains his identity by adhering to certain moral precepts; once he has broken one of these principles, he becomes truly dangerous...
Sounds like Dexter, or at least some of killers he gets rid of.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rachida (2002)

Directed by Yamina Bachir, this French film chronicles the life of Rachida, a young divorcee who lives with her mother and works as a teacher at a local school. Her life is turned upside-down, however, when she goes to work without wearing a veil over her face. This leaves her prey to a band of terrorists, who promptly kidnap her and instruct one of their members to bomb the school. Despite being left for dead, Rachida manages to survive and take refuge in the country side. Rachida was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, and features Ibtissem Djouadi, Bahia Rachedi, Rachida Messaouden, Zaki Boulenafed, and Amel Chouikh. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 100 mins
Rachida (2002)

Although the film makes it an issue about not wearing a veil, the terrorists used that purely as an excuse and wanted her to plant the bomb in her classroom. Only an idiot would agree to that!
Dust Jacket:
Rachida, a young and self-assured teacher at an elementary school, becomes the target of terrorists when she refuses to place a bomb in her classroom. This acclaimed debut feature offers a unique glimpse into the lives of ordinary citizens in Algeria, where terrorism was commonplace during the civil conflict of the 1990s.

From reading that it sounds like she was approached in the classroom when she was actually approached on the street in broad daylight. They were accosting her for what seemed like along time while no one came to her defense. Only after the shooting and the terrorists left the bomb next to her, did people come out to help.

That pattern then repeats as for most of the film is after she leaves Algiers and moves into a rural community to also teach in a school. There she also experiences the thugs and brutality of the "terrorists". In the end she does manage to pick up the pieces and to start teaching her remaining students in the broken down school.

All the way through the film, I kept expecting Rambo or an Arnold Schwarzenegger character to jump out and defend the community. No one tries to become the hero and they only flee and coward at the criminal gangs. It seems obvious that they needed neighbor watch programs and an armed militia. Not a single police was observed in the rural areas and the police only showed up after the shooting on the street to dispose of the bomb. There government was corrupt and crooked, but resorting to terrorism to make political statements was not the case but excuses to victimize civilians.

Very good film overall even if it was not a typical American film of good and bad with a Superhero to save the day. Foreign commentators have noted on occasions that many countries do not have the Superman hero to save the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bolivar I Am (2002) {Bolivar Soy Yo}

Director Jorge Ali Triana attacks political corruption and historical accuracy in entertainment in his satirical 2002 film Bolivar Is Me. Actor Santiago Miranda (Robinson Diaz) is cast in a Latin American television miniseries chronicling the legendary revolutionary Simon Bolivar's life. The hyper-sensitive actor -- whose mental well-being was already questionable -- snaps when forced to perform a revisionist version of Santiago's death. As the actor angrily leaves the set, he also takes leave of his senses and believes himself to actually be Bolivar. Furthermore, he assumes Bolivar's mission to unite Latin America -- which shocks his producers and provides a rather unexpected opportunity for the local political leaders. Bolivar Is Me was viewed at the 2002 Los Angeles Latino Film Festival. ~ Ryan Shriver, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 112 mins
Bolivar I Am (2002)

Dust Jacket:
An engaging, hilarious and entertainment delusion ("Bolivar is back, Bolivar is in campaign, Bolivar is crazy"). A satire and humorist film that portrays with great irony the violent and strange world in which all Latin Americans of the 21st century live in. The actor, Santiago Miranda, abandons the production set of the popular soap opera "The Lovers of The Liberator" because he doesn't agree with the script considering is a misunderstanding of history and instead flees toward delusion. Balancing between lucidity and madness , Miranda is also determined to finish Bolivar's dream of creating the "The Great Columbia": a strong and unified state consisting of 5 Latin-American countries and ignite the rebuilding of a region that faced 160 years of internal war.

The first part was really on the boring side and the idea of a film about films often comes across as dull and insipid. The ending did finally pick up some momentum {last 15 minutes of film} and slightly more interesting when the rebels took over the ship.

There is a couple of parts when discussing the motives of the particular real people that each person has a different interpretation of history-and sometimes almost diametrical different.

They do use "America" a few times and wonder if it is a snub at the USA or just trying to make a point, that I readily agree with. "America" has become synonymous with the US and thus the other millions of "Americans" are not included in that definition.

The ending was pretty predictable as the opening scenes had a similar leitmotif. Reset button technique was used but then it becomes hard to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I suppose that that was the technique they were trying for, in the mind of Miranda.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sin Nombre (2008)

Student Academy Award winner Cary Joji Fukunaga makes his feature directorial debut with this epic dramatic thriller following a Honduran teenager who reunites with her long-estranged father and attempts to emigrate to America with him in order to start a new life. Inspired by the director's firsthand experience with Central American immigrants, Sin Nombre opens to find dejected teenager Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) biding her time in Honduras while dreaming of a brighter future. Upon reuniting with the father she hasn't seen in years, Sayra seizes the opportunity to finally make her dreams a reality. Her father has a new family in the United States, and he's preparing to travel with her uncle to Mexico, where they will then cross the border to freedom. Meanwhile, in Mexico, Tapachula teen Casper (aka Casper, played by Edgar Flores), has gotten caught up with the notorious Mara Salvatrucha street gang. He's just delivered a new recruit to the Maras in the form of desperate 12-year-old Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer), and though the youngster's initiation proves particularly rough, she adapts to gang life rather quickly. As involved as Casper is with the Mara, he does his best to keep his relationship with girlfriend Martha Marlene (Diana Garcia) a secret from the gang. Just as Martha encounters ruthless Mara leader Lil' Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejía) and suffers a grim fate at the hands of the gang, Sayra and her relatives arrive at the Tapachula train yards and prepare to rush a U.S.-bound freight train with a horde of other immigrants. Rather than attempting to gain access to the cars, Sayra and the rest of the immigrants decide to ride atop the train. Little do they realize that their lives are now in danger, because Lil' Mago has recruited Casper and Smiley to rob the immigrants as they make their way to the United States. When dawn comes and Lil' Mago makes his move, Casper finally decides to stand up to the tyrannical gang leader. Now, as the train winds though the Mexican countryside, Sayra's only hope of surviving the journey and making her way to a new beginning is to align herself with Casper as he flees from the most feared gang in Tapachula. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Sin Nombre (2008)

It was an excellent film. Found no reason to fault it even with a tragic ending, which was foretold already in the film. Character development was quite good and although it was strange even for me to see a Spanish young girl to show such attention and affection toward Casper, it worked for me. She was hesitant but also desiring to find someone to help and be helped by. During the film Sayra shown distance from her estranged father and uncle. She said that her father would not have come back for her except that he was deported back to Honduras.

The only aspect that was strange was that Casper did not save at least the gun the gang leader had on himself after killing the gang leader. In one deleted scene he also dismantles Smiley's one bullet pump action gun into the river from atop the train. I knew that it had to come down to a life and death between Casper and Smiley, but the suspense might have been more if Casper had a gun also.

In addition to about 10 minutes of finished production deleted scenes, the DVD contained directors commentator. The director pointed out some important points about how the gang was like a collective in the sense of a commune where everyone shared the resources of the gang-that included the woman-which Casper did not abide with respect to his girlfriend.

Sin Nombre (2009 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia mentions the fact that the last bit of memory of Casper's girlfriend and one of his only assets he gives to the man to help Sayra across the river. Thus sacrificing everything he had to help her get to the USA.

It might be an interesting film to see how Sayra's life is like in the USA.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stupidity (2003)

Take a closer look at the "dumbing down" of contemporary culture in an alternately enlightening and hilarious documentary from filmmaker Albert Nerenberg produced to explore the prospect that willful ignorance has increasingly become a strategy for success in the realms of politics and entertainment. From the Internet to television to popular film and virtually everything in between, stupidity's stronghold over society has reached an all-time high. Despite the vast potential that mass media holds as a tool of education and self-betterment in modern society, why is it that the masses are so determined to simply turn on the television and turn off their brains at the end of the day? In an era where even the mere mention that mass media may be detrimental to our mental development may prove offensive to the vast majority of consumers, director Nerenberg gathers some of the best-known cultural critics, authors, and academics of our generation for a thought-provoking exploration into the potentially damaging effects of film, television, and other forms of media on the modern mind. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 77 mins
Stupidity (2003)
Maybe a little harsh to rate this a one, but it was simply a leftist dogma propagandized film. It started out fairly normal but for a Canadian produced film, it decided to pick on George W. Bush. Of course Bush was not the brightest bulb in the box, but if that was their case study of stupidity then plenty of Libs have their share of stupid politicians.

Bias then shows through on who they choose to interview like Bill Maher and Noam Chomsky. The later blaming all the "stupidity" of society on "business". Their goals is to control the masses and "dumb them down" and create a feeling of futility of the masses. Of course not themselves according to Chumsky. He also says that humans did not "create" language but it was just a random event of evolution which is on the same level of growing arms and legs. I am not sure how someone so intelligent to think that. Humans could have not developed this skills and just treated it like a useless appendage or developed it in much different ways.

Of course by showing "stupidity" in all its glory, they are in fact promoting such stupidity. It is not really an intellectual endeavor to explore the issues but is gratuitous stupidity presented as pseudo intellectualism. It allows the elite intellectuals to consider the unwashed masses as stupid. They even seem to question the aspects of democracy. That is allowing the unwashed masses to make decisions over government.

The one interesting point that was pointed out was that many of the actors on screen do not have a good education and in fact many dropped out of high school. Makes us wonder why we as a culture would in fact consider them as someone worth listening to. The next time I have to listen to some actor telling me how to live my life, I truly will look up his/her education background. Not that it validates that he/she is an idiot, just that it shows that maybe he/she was easily swayed and manipulated in his knowledge.

Marx felt that the three forces of the development of society {"world historical determining forces"} as: 1. Capital, 2. Violence, 3. Stupidity.

Special Features:
1. Extended interviews of the commentators.
2. Directors comments soundtrack.
3. Interview of director on Documentary Channel.
4. Trailer.
5. Reading materials used in the documentary-research.

On second thought, the extended interviews makes this at least a 2.