Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Haven (2004)

When a corrupt Miami businessman flees to the Cayman Islands with his daughter and a million dollars in dirty money, the resulting inferno threatens to consume father, daughter, and even a few unsuspecting innocents in a sun soaked crime drama starring Bill Paxton, Orlando Bloom, and Agnes Bruckner. Carl Ridley (Paxton) was desperate to escape the law when he boarded an airplane for the Cayman Islands, but as the heat starts to rise in paradise, he's about to realize that there are some fates far worse than prison time. As Carl attempts to cleanse his ill-gotten gains with a little help from crooked British investment banker Mr. Allen (Stephen Dillane), his resentful daughter Pippa (Bruckner) sets out to explore her exotic new surroundings on the arm of native bad boy Fritz (Victor Rasuk). A low-level thug whose connections to a powerful local crime lord threatens to spell doom for all involved, Fritz draws Pippa in to disastrous chain of events sparked by the forbidden desires of unsuspecting lovers Shy (Bloom and Andrea (Zoe Saldana). Now, as the West Indies threatens to explode into violence, Carl must choose between the safety of his daughter and fortune he's trying to hide. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
Haven (2004)
I had to include Haven in my collection of film reviews since it had some nice scenes of the Cayman Islands. It used flashbacks to explore the different angles of life for the various actors which worked well to the films benefit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Valet (2006)

French farce master Francis Veber (The Dinner Game) combines slapstick laughs with rapid-fire dialogue as he tells the tale of a Parisian valet unwittingly drawn into the affairs of a wealthy industrialist. François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh) is a simple valet employed by a posh Paris restaurant. Blissfully unaware of the paparazzi stalking powerful businessman Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil) and his stunning mistress, Elena (Alice Taglioni), the innocent passerby François wanders haphazardly into the frame. Realizing that the common man in the photograph may be Levasseur's only hope of avoiding a nasty divorce from his wife, Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas), Pierre's quick-thinking lawyer (Richard Berry) arranges for François to live with Elena in order to mislead the tabloids. Having just been dumped by childhood sweetheart Emilie (Virginie Ledoyen), François accepts the proposal, in the hopes he can win her back through jealousy. But Pierre's jealousy flares, Elena grows frustrated with her new digs, and Christine might know more than she's letting on. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 85 mins
The Valet (2006)
But ultimately in the end everyone is paired up except one person and for the most part a happy little ending to the romantic comedy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Triumph of the Will (1934)

Dr. Anthony R. Santoro (Professor of History) narrates the film Triumph of the Will as part of the special features aspect of the DVD. It was presented as "The Document of the Reich Party Day 1934" which was a documentation of the ongoing Nuremburg Rallies from 1923 through 1938.

The whole film is composed of people saluting Hitler with the Nazi salute. Close to the beginning there is even a small girl around 3 years old that presents Hitler with some flowers and then salutes him from her mother's arms.
Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) is a filmed record of the 1934 Nazi Party Convention, in Nuremberg. No, it is more than just a record: it is an exultation of Adolf Hitler, who from the moment his plane descends from Valhalla-like clouds is visually characterized as a God on Earth. The "Jewish question" is disposed of with a few fleeting closeups; filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl prefers to concentrate on cheering crowds, precision marching, military bands, and Hitler's climactic speech, all orchestrated, choreographed and illuminated on a scale that makes Griffith and DeMille look like poverty-row directors. It has been alleged that the climactic rally, "spontaneous" Sieg-Heils and all, was pre-planned according to Riefenstahl's specifications, the better to take full advantage of its cinematic potential. Allegedly, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels resented the presence and intrusion of a woman director, but finally had to admit that her images, achieved through the use of 30 cameras and 120 assistants, were worth a thousand speeches. Possibly the most powerful propaganda film ever made, Triumph of the Will is also, in retrospect, one of the most horrifying. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 120 mins
Triumph of the Will (1934)

Parts of the convention speeches I quoted below. I hope they give a feeling of what the rest of the world could have read in 1934.
Julius Streicher, Gauleiter of Upper Fanconia and Editor of "Der Sturmer" (The worst of them all, "Jew Hater")
A people that does not protect the purity of its race goes to seed!

Adolf Wagner
No revolution that seems to be permanent can lead to anything other than complete anarchy. So the world will not live at war. So also the people do not live on revolution.
Nothing on this earth that has lasted for thousands of years was assembled in mere decades. The largest tree also has the longest period of growth. What braves the centuries will be strong through the centuries.

Dr. Otto Dietrich, Reichsleiter and Reich Press Chief in Ministry of People Enlightenment and Propaganda
Truth is the foundation on which the power of the press stands in the world. And that it reports the truth about Germany is the only demand that we place on the foreign press.

Dr. Robert Ley, Reichleiter and Head of the German Labor Front
All our work must be dictated by a single thought-that the German worker be made an upright, proud and equally entitled national comrade.

Dr. Hans Frank, Reichs Minister of Justice and later Governor General of occupied Poland
(On tip of his toes.) As the leader of the German legal service, I can say that, clearly, the basis of the National Socialist State is the Nationalist Socialist Law Code. And for us, our highest leader is also the highest judge! We know ho sacred the principles of these laws are to our Fuhrer. These Reich laws can assure you, national comrades that you life and existence is safe in this National Socialist State of order, freedom and law.

Dr. Josef Goebbels, Reich Minister of People Enlightenment and Propaganda
May the bright flame of our enthusiasm never be extinguished. It alone gives light and warmth to the creative art of modern political propaganda. This comes from the depths of the people and from these depths of the people it must always again find its roots and its strength. It may be good to possess power based on strength but it is better to win and hold the heart of a people.
Of course this film was the epitome of what Nazism was. A film that I think that everyone should watch. One thing to remember was that for only a small 4 minute segment of the Military, the rest of the movie was about the "Party" even when marching in military style with weapons in hand.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Offside (2006)

The King of Shit Mountain is supposedly written on one of the few characters introduced (besides the guards and ladies) on his head as he is transported to the Vice Squad in a van with the ladies. He complains about this but in the end they become friends.

A handful of girls struggle to make their way into the man's world of an Iranian soccer stadium in this comedy from writer and director Jafar Panahi. World Cup season is just around the corner, and Iran's team is playing a game against Bahrain that will determine who will be competing in soccer's greatest tournament. Nearly everyone in Tehran seems to be abuzz with excitement over the game, through officially soccer in Iran is quite literally for men only -- no women are allowed inside the stadium, and women's interest in the game is severely frowned upon. But that doesn't stop a number of girls from all over the city from trying to crash the game dressed up as boys; while some succeed, others are unable to fool security, and are sent to a holding bullpen in the stadium where they can hear the cheers of the crowd but can't see the game. One of the policemen watching over the girls (who range from rowdy tomboys to quiet and bookish types) is sympathetic and keeps them updated on the score and key plays, while another is a petty bureaucrat who suffers the mockery of his "prisoners." Offside received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 92 mins
Offside (2006)

I am bu the sea. If I can't eat fresh fish, at least give it to me canned.Yummy that is what the heroine says to the guard when asking for another guard to give a sports report on the game. And the guard responds back with: I don't get it. Do you want to eat fish or watch soccer? He was from the "country".

When you have a society that is so regimented with so many morality rules, then something simple like going to the bathroom for the stowaway gets blown out shape. Which makes for a funny scene including the wearing of a poster of a man to disguise the face with cut outs for eyes.

This film got me to thinking about nationalism and patriotism. These girls even though they are repressed by their country on so many levels have such strong feelings about their 'team' that they are even willing to break the laws. One even dressed up like a soldier to get in. Luckily they got away in the crowds of the celebration (I believe), but at a couple of times they were fearful of what might happen to them.

The interview with the director Jafar Panahi was also a nice added feature of the DVD. Thus I rated this high as 4 (/5)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sir! No Sir! (2005)

The little-known protest of the Vietnam War staged from within the ranks of the military is explored in director David Zeiger's revealing documentary. Despite the well-documented media coverage of Vietnam War protests that took place on college campuses across the nation, few people but the most ardent history buffs remain aware of the massive protests that flourished in U.S. barracks and military bases at home and abroad. Staged by countless military men disillusioned with the ongoing war, these protests reached from the hallowed halls of West Point to the bullet-riddled rice fields of Vietnam. Though hundreds of soldiers were imprisoned for voicing their controversial views and thousands more sent into exile for their subversive activities, the tireless efforts of the government and media to suppress this remarkable tale would eventually falter as the dissenting voices became too numerous to silence. Thirty years after the last bombs were dropped on Vietnam, the remarkable tale of the soldiers unafraid to stand up for their beliefs comes to the screen in a film that will forever alter the manner in which contemporary audiences view one of the most controversial wars in modern history. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 84 mins

The boycott on Tyrell Jewelers Inc. seems to be a wasted effort at least and secondly a misdirected outrage. According to the documentary, Tyrell would sell jewelry on credit to service men. And if they happened to die in combat then the debt was absolved. Sounds like a good thing. They were providing the service and risking their capital if someone died in the service to their country. They did not have to provide this service and instead went after next of kin or the 'estate' of the service member.

This is not to say the film provided a unique look at the anti-war movement that I was not aware of. Ultimately it was never as grand as they try to make it out to be.

No the subtlety of the Rabbit incident was not how to treat people but a simple lesson in survival in the jungles. The incident was described as someone showing how to skin and make a shoe out of the skin.

So another recommendation by ren that turned out to be a fascinating film to me. It definitely gave a perspective of how he acquired a view of the world and the USA. Often I see his views as very nihilistic and now I can get a glimpse as to why these views were formed.


Sir! No Sir! (2005)

Film Review: Sir! No Sir! (on DVD)[ET]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Arguing the World (1997)

The lives and opinions of the 'Alcove One Cafeteria members from City College'...
But the only alcoves that mattered to me were No.1 and No.2, the alcoves of the anti-Stalinist Left and pro-Stalinist Left respectively It was between these two alcoves that the war of the worlds was fought, over the faceless bodies of the mass of students, whom we tried desperately to manipulate into "the right position" but about whom, to tell the truth, we knew little and cared less.
Joseph Dorman wrote and directed this biographical documentary tracing four Jewish intellectuals from NYC's City College during WW II to the present day -- political essayist Irving Kristol, sociologist Nathan Glazer, the late socialist literary critic Irving Howe (who died in 1993), and social theorist Daniel Bell. At CCNY, debates raged in the school's cafeteria, later continuing in the pages of influential academic journals. Alan Rosenberg narrates. Shown at the 1997 Boston Jewish Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 109 mins
Arguing the World (1997)

Todd Gitlin(Formally President of Students for a Democratic Society):
It was a response to the impersonality, the bureaucratization,
the abstraction of life.
Participatory Democracy was an idea that talk was a good idea,
Freedom is an endless meeting.

Tom Hayden:
I was not raised in (ugh) thankfully, a household of people yelling at each other about the correct line.
And so I could not comprehend the decibel level that these people would reach.
And also they reminded you of in a sick way of your father, you know they were very paternalism. Is beyond Abraham. I mean paternalism to an extreme that I never heard.
People pointing at you and lecturing to you. They did not appear to be doing anything. And we were going to jail. So lest we knew, we were on the right track.

From Memoirs of a Trotskyist by Irving Kristol
Others who later found, to their pleasant surprise, that what they had took been doing in Alcove No. I was what the academic world would come to recognize and generously reward as "social science" were Nathan Glazer (Harvard), Philip Selznick (Berkeley), Peter Rossi (Johns Hopkins), Morroe Berger (Princeton), I. Milton Sacks (Brandeis), Lawrence Krader and Bernard Bellush (City University), Seymour Melman (Columbia), Melvin J. Lasky…

City College was a pretty dull educational place. The student who came seeking an intellectual community, in which the life of the mind was strenuously lived, had to create such a community and such a life for himself…

"Ever since I can remember, I've been a neo-something: a neo-Marxist, a neo-Trotskyist, a neo-Liberal, a neo-conservative; in religion a neo-orthodox even while I was a neo-Trotskyist and a neo-Marxist. I'm going to end up a neo dash nothing." Irving Kristol

Tom Hurwitz biography but no mention of membership in SDS.
Columbia had a way of containing within it, most of the problems of American Society. We were against the war and we were against the inequity of American society but we had in our administration an example of what was worst about our society. And we could confront it by confronting it right at home.

Other notables:
Michael Walzer
Where are we going? Where have we been?

Philip Selznick

Moscow Trials

Fellow traveler

Victor Navasky

Jackie Goldberg
Free Speech Movement

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Merry Christmas (2005)

The year is 1914, and as World War I continues to rage across the European countryside, four individuals stuck on the front lines find themselves faced with the unthinkable in director Christian Carion's Academy Award-nominated account of the true-life wartime event that would offer hope for peace in mankind's darkest hour. When the war machines began rolling in the summer of 1914, the devastation that it waged upon German, British, and French troops was palpable. As the winter winds began to blow and the soldiers sat huddled in their trenches awaiting the generous Christmas care packages sent by the families, the sounds of warfare took a momentary backseat to the yearning for brotherhood among all of mankind. It is here that the fate of a French lieutenant, a Scottish priest, a German tenor, and a Danish soprano's lives were about to be changed forever. On Christmas Eve of that year, the lonely souls of the front lines abandoned their arms to reach out to their enemies on the battlefield and greet them with not anger or hostility, but with the simple, kindly gesture of a much needed cigarette or a treasured piece of chocolate, and to put their differences aside long enough to wish their brothers a sincere "Merry Christmas!" ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 116 mins
Merry Christmas (2005)
A quite touching movie where men put aside their strife for the betterment of others. But ultimately the party had to end...
I know that it was meant to show that if men/women could just get to know each other then there would be less strife in the world. But we do forget that these men were forced to be in a condition that was not their choosing and as such they had a common shared misery that leaders of countries do not tend to share. Even the most destroyed country like North Korea or Zimbabwe their leaders are well fed and safe from the hazards that these men in WWI faced.

As far as the goals and the purposes of WWI, yes, that was a senseless and worthless war over some piece of ground that was no longer of any value after all the blood was shed on it and the massive destruction by the bombs and trenches and chemical weapons.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Big Fish (2003)

Tim Burton directs the fantasy drama Big Fish, based on the book Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Southern writer/illustrator Daniel Wallace. Billy Crudup plays William Bloom, a young man who never really knew his dying father, Edward (Albert Finney) outside of the tall tales he told about growing up, making his way, and meeting his mother (played as a young woman by Alison Lohman and in older age by Jessica Lange). During Edward's last days, William and his wife Josephine (Marion Cotillard) hold bedside vigil as the old man recollects elaborate memories of his youth (in which he is played by Ewan McGregor). Still doubting the the legends and folklore, William makes a journey to meet a mysterious woman (Helena Bonham Carter) from whom Edward had bought property. Steve Buscemi and Danny De Vito also star. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 125 mins
Big Fish (2003)
A charming little story about a man and his father and how the younger man is trying to get to know his father. The only side the younger man knows of his father is through a variety of "Big Fish" stories. Even if the tales are hard to believe there is always a hint that some could be true and the end has the cast of characters we were introduced to earlier show up outside of the dream sequences. It reminded me a lot of the movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

Fritz Lang directed this sequel to his nearly four-hour Dr. Mabuse silent of 1922 (often shown in two parts, Dr. Mabuse: Der Spieler/The Gambler and Dr. Mabuse: King of Crime). The film opens with Detective Hofmeister (Karl Meixner) spying on the activities of a criminal syndicate. Not realizing he has been seen, Hofmeister is attacked by the thugs and later turns up out of his mind. He is placed in the institution of Professor Baum (Oscar Beregi), who becomes increasingly obsessed with another patient -- the master criminal and hypnotist Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Baum's assistant, Dr. Kramm (Theodor Loos), connects Mabuse's writings to a series of the syndicate's recent criminal activities, and is murdered for his knowledge by crime lord Hardy (Rudolf Schündler) who takes orders from a hidden Mabuse. Putting all these pieces together is chief investigator Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), whose story plays out simultaneously with that of ex-cop Thomas Kent (Gustav Diessl), a member of the gang who is torn between his need for money and his love for a young woman named Lilli (Wera Liessem). Various clues lead Lohmann to suspect Mabuse's involvement, but when he arrives at the asylum, Baum reveals that Mabuse has died. Meanwhile, Kent's decision to confess to the cops lands himself and Lilli in a room with a hidden bomb. Lohmann traps the gang in a moll's house, leading to a wild shootout. Kent and Lilli escape and race to Lohmann to tell him that Mabuse is behind the crimes. They all race back to the asylum where they discover that Mabuse has taken control of Baum, who sets a monstrous fire at a chemical factory. The mad doctor then leads Lohmann and Kent on a wild car chase back to the asylum where the mystery behind the Baum-Mabuse-Hofmeister connection takes a disturbing turn. ~ Patrick Legare, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 121 mins
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
A classic Fritz Lang movie where a driver is killed by another cars passenger and then when the light changes all the cars that could identify the killer drive off. This time he uses the honking of cars to drown out the noise of the gun while in another one it was a silent blow-dart gun or something like that. The other film where he uses or specifically reuses this plot twist is in The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse.

Lang uses the concept of rhymes to link scenes and acts together where one question leads to another scene that answers that question for the viewer but not necessarily the actors parts in the movie. He also used sound to merge or overlap scenes. While if the sound in the new scene blends into the action can be most appealing, movies like Tarzan Lord of the Jungle with Bo Derek was a complete waste of a movie plot with the sound overlapping with the next incongruent scene.

The Empire of Crime:
Humanity's soul must be shaken to its very depths, frightened by unfathomable and seemingly senseless crimes. Crimes that benefit no one, whose only objective is to inspire fear and terror. Because the ultimate purpose of crime is to establish the endless empire of crime. A state of complete insecurity an anarchy, founded upon the tainted ideals of a world doomed to annihilation. When humanity, subjected by the terror of crime, has been driven insane by fear and horror, and when chaos has become supreme law, then the time will have come for the empire of crime.

The narrator did make me laugh at his description of Lilli in the film. An observation I also made but not as humorously. Even though it was a bit part I liked the part of the gangsters girlfriend that at one time gives Lohen a snaring glance when the gang is taken past Lohen after he fools the gang into giving up.

Interesting that Bill Gates and George Soros were identified as Mabuse like, that is according to the narrator (David Kalat).

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times (2002)

Noam Chomsky is arguably the most important and best-respected dissident political analyst in the United States. While his outspoken opinions on American foreign policy have hardly endeared him to the mainstream media (or the leading lights of either the Republican or Democratic parties), his sharp but well-considered opinions have made him a mainstay of leftist political journals and a tireless opponent of misdirected military violence and political bullying. Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times is a documentary which explores Chomsky's lectures and writings on the Bush administration's responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Chomsky discusses foreign policy decisions which helped to create the climate in which the 9/11 attacks could happen, as well as military and political decisions against Afghanistan and Iraq which have taken their toll largely upon civilians -- which, by Chomsky's estimation, makes the United States as much a terrorist agency as our opponents. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 72 mins
Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times (2002)
I know that I am a masochist to watch through this two times, but I just hope that I learn something from this nihilistic leftist. The film was more of a "cult of the personality" than a real film that explored the issues. Like the opening scene spends a minute about how the microphone works and how his personality. As I was talking recently on Thom's forum, Noam acts like a 5 year old boy that is looking for approval from his father. The father being others as in crowds.

The editing is nothing more than a random collections of his random drunken like talks. Weasel words describes his way of speaking.
Everyone is worried about stopping terrorism, well there is a real easy way, stop participating in it.
Well as usual he has so many lies and untruths that it is hard to nail them all down. But he did say something about North Korea that it was totally defenseless, isolated and thus a perfect target by being cheap easy and no one will object. How can such an intelligent man say so many stupid ass statements. Let me see, does Chumsky know that the DMZ is filled with thousands of landmines. That they have the whole country barricaded is weird ways like bridges have these huge concrete structures that can be dropped on the road at a moments notice. The terrain is mountainous that makes digging in easier as well as harder moving equipment around in a hostile environment. The winters are miserable for an army. Let me also wonder if he even understands the Korean War. Who does he think we were fighting? We were first fighting the Russian supplied armies of the north and then when we nearly defeated them we fought the Chinese. Do you think China would also stand by again if we invaded NK? They may not like NK regime but that is an ally of the Chinese and as such they would not want a government favorable to the west on their doorstep. This might hem them in if they made moves for Taiwan. Even again the Russians would not like it also. Also does he even know about NKs vast arsenal of missiles that could destroy much of South Korea. That would escalate the costs in many ways and thus not be so easy as he seems to think. Again how can a educated man be so much of a dumb ass. Chumsky!!!
...because he was useful at that time. I mean it is true that he is a monster. He was much more of a monster then, probably true that he is developing weapons of mass destruction. Then he was certainly doing it with our support, and he was far more dangerous way more powerful and much more dangerous. He is a threat to anyone within his reach, but the reach is much smaller now. He is evil all right, but his crimes can not possibly be the reason for the planned attack.
The answer Saddam before the Second Gulf War.

International Economic Globalization: convergence toward a single price and wage single market??? Well that is declining. Globalization (Palo Alto, CA, March 22,2002)

Polyarchy (The American Political System: UC-Berkeley, March 19,2002)

I know I should not base movies on my own bias views but I rated this as 0.5 out of 5 because the lies just got too much to give it anymore.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

You Only Live Once (1937)

Archetypal depression-era stars Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney are felicitously teamed in Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once. Fonda plays an ex-convict who can't get a break on the "outside". He marries Sidney, who like her husband is one of life's losers. Framed on a murder rap, Fonda is forced to take it on the lam, with his wife and baby in tow. In trying to avoid capture, Fonda becomes a murderer for real, condemning himself and Sidney to an early demise. Partly based on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde, the Gene Towne-Graham Baker screenplay stacks the deck against its protagonists to such an extent that the audience is virtually forced to hate their various antagonists. As superb as Henry Fonda is in portraying the foredoomed hero, Sylvia Sidney is even better as his wife; her reading of such lines as "We just call" are enough to shrivel the heart even after six decades. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 86 mins
You Only Live Once (1937)
I may be reading too much into this. But it seems that I could see some of Lang's signature markings. Especially concerning the basic theme that individuals can be lost in the system and that system turns on them when it should not. Of course the police state was pretty heartless by even willingly letting innocents die.
Closing remarks...
Eddie. You're free Eddie, the gates are o-open.

Divine Intervention (2002)

I figure this is going to be a funny film when it starts out with a Santa Claus being chased by 4 young men with all his presents dropping all over the place and will not tell you how that ends. But then the second scene is of a Palestinian man driving down a narrow street and waving at his neighbors and he says to himself:
What a fucked morning.
What a pimp.
What an asshole.
Son of a bitch.
Bald prick.
Collaborator, husband of a whore.
Fuck the sister of your children's father.
Fuck your mother's sister.
Fuck your father's sister's cunt.
Go get fucked and get paid for it.

Director Elia Suleiman uses a mixture of romantic comedy and quirky humor to shed light on the problems of Palestinians in Yadon Ilaheyya (Divine Intervention). E.S. (Suleiman and his girlfriend Manal Khader), because they live in separate cities, must meet near an Israeli checkpoint. The film is little more than a series of usually comic but occasionally poignant scenes in which Suleiman and others must confront any number of Israeli nemeses. Suleiman's second film, Divine Interventions, was screened in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 90 mins
Divine Intervention (2002)
All I can say is "It’s so, so bizarre"...
There was even a small Sci-Fi/Mythical part where a Palestinian Woman kills a few well trained IDF marksmen and destroys a Helicopter.

I really liked the song "I Put a Spell on You".

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Since I liked the classics from Fritz Lang especially the Dr. Mabuse movies, I wanted to see how he also adapted to the commercial environnment of Hollywood and the US market.
Directed by Fritz Lang, The Woman in the Window, a sadly tragic film noir, is the story of the doomed love of married psychology-professor Wanley (Edward G. Robinson), who, with murderous results, meets and falls in love with another woman. Wanley first sees the portrait of a beautiful woman, Alice (Joan Bennett), and then meets the woman herself. After committing murder in self-defense, he finds himself blackmailed by Heidt (Dan Duryea). The script, written by Nunnally Johnson, is carefully structured with crisp dialogue and a convincing ending. Lang is at his best, getting excellent performances from Robinson, as the doomed, naive professor, and Bennett both. The Woman in the Window shows that good and evil are present in all, and that circumstances frequently dictate moral choices. Based on J.H. Wallis' novel Once Off Guard, the film gives viewers their money's worth with not one but two logical and satisfying surprise twists at the end. ~ Linda Rasmussen, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
The Woman in the Window (1944)
Just like Lang's earlier films, time again was an obsession. Even the outside of Alice's apartment had a street clock. Lang also deals with guilt and redemption with the police basically acting dumb and thus making Wanley feel the pains of guilt. The 'chance meeting' of them also portends the same basic beguiling woman as in Body Heat.

And yes there was two surprises that could have been expected and then another that leads to "Not for a million dollars", when asked for a light from a young woman on the street.

I hope I am not giving anything away in the film but I ran across the idea of Reset button technique.
The reset button technique (based on the idea of status quo ante) is a plot device that interrupts continuity in works of fiction. Simply put, use of a reset button device returns all characters and situations to the status quo they held before a major change of some sort was introduced. Often used in science fiction television series, soap operas, and comic books, the device allows elaborate and dramatic changes to characters and the fictional universe that might otherwise invalidate the premise of the show with respect to future continuity. Writers may, for example, use the technique to allow the audience to experience the death of the lead character, which traditionally would not be possible without effectively ending the work.
The TV drama Dallas—An entire season of the show, including the death of a major character, was written off as a dream of another character.
When reading the top portion of the article, I of course thought back to the Dallas series whole year long dream...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Disk 1&2|Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922)

David Kalat provides the excellent and informative dialogue for both disks.
Full Synopsis:
Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler is the eight-reel version of Fritz Lang's twenty reeler, two-part silent thriller, Dr. Mabuse. Mabuse (Rudolph Klein-Rogge) a sinister mesmerist/psychiatrist, toys with the weaknesses of the rich and influential. He worms his way into the confidence of wealthy men, plays cards with them, hypnotizes them into cheating at their businesses, then puts them in a position to be blackmailed so that he can corner the stock market. A devilishly ingenious plan-but Mabuse is up against the plodding, methodical police detective Wrenk, whose subconscious is not so easily least, not at first. In 1932, Lang directed a talkie sequel to Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Running Time: 229 mins
Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922)
Again the narrator of this film as some of the other Fritz Lang movies did an excellent job filling in details and explaining the story. Otherwise the story line and the characters were a jumbled mess that would have taken me a few times just to sort out. Maybe voices help to identify characters more than I thought.
"There is no love -- there is only desire!
There is no happiness - there is only the will for power!"
And where did we hear that before?

I liked the phone that moved when it 'rang'. Phernologist?
Weimar Republic

Mabuse: a Flemish Master Painter by the name of Jenni Gosart, or Jennyn van Hennegouwe that painted under the name Jan Mabuse. And Norbert Jacques liked the name.
I had noticed on other films to be either called Mabus and they used that so "He kills and kills without excuse, that is the terror of Dr. Mabus".

Others to look for/notes:
The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuseby David Kalat, published by McFarland Press
Everybody loves Dr. Mabuse
Club Extinction
Dada or Dadaism
Obsessed with self destruction as in jimabuse???
Indian Fakirs
"Golden Putrefaction" was the Russian version of Dr. Mabuse.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I Love Miami (2006)

Cuban leader Fidel Castro is humbled when he arrives in Miami and experiences America from the unique perspective of a typical Cuban-American in producer-turned-director Alejandro Gonzalez Padilla's clever culture shock drama. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 95 mins
I Love Miami (2006)
The movie gives Castro to present his positive points about his regime that do not get questioned. Also the anti-Castro side presents their points that do not get challenged. Thus it is almost a perplexing movie of cross talk but no direct dialogue. The presentation is basically one view give and another view but no contrasting points.

The most poignant scene is the end that has the dove that supposedly landed on his shoulder during the revolution. This time the dove shits on him.

I Love Miami (2006)
A story involving the famous Fidel Castro, who ironically arrives at Miami, like so many of his fellow Cubans, and at the same time living through a Cuban- American experience, creates the perfect scenario to watch him become a more humble person; the "Quixote of American Socialism". At the same time two sub- stories will strike the "emotional string" in our interior. The movie does not pretend to make any political statements on the Cuban Revolution or Fidel Castro's biography, however its purpose is to establish the story of the Miami of Today, in which all kinds of Cuban- American characters display their lives, their feelings and intentions relating to Fidel in his temporary and uncomfortable exile. The story shows "the other Cuba" and her two faces; one of the exiled Cubans, seeking the "American dream" and the other of the Cubans who capitalize this dream by camouflaging their political and economic interests, manipulating the dream of the others. Written by Alejandro Gonzalez Padilla

Friday, October 19, 2007

Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

German filmmaker G.W. Pabst and Hollywood expatriate Louise Brooks re-team after the success of Pandora's Box for the silent film Diary of a Lost Girl. On the day of her confirmation, innocent young Thymiane Henning (Brooks) is given a lockable diary as a present. She's distraught because the housekeeper Elisabeth (Sibylle Schmitz) is leaving under curious circumstances and turns up presumably dead. Her duties are taken over by the conniving Meta (Franziska Kinz), who accepts the advances of Thymiane's pharmacist father (Josef Ravensky). Trying to understand Elisabeth's fate, Thymiane agrees to meet her father's assistant, Meinert (Fritz Rasp). She passes out, he carries her up to her room, and by the next scene she has borne a child by him. Meta snoops in Thymiane's diary and finds out it was Meinert's baby, so she suggests they get married. Thymiane refuses, so they throw her in a creepy reformatory for fallen women and leave her baby with a midwife. While in the reformatory, she meets Erika (Edith Meinhard), with whom she eventually escapes. To escape from poverty and homelessness, the girls then become nominal prostitutes in a brothel and are "sexually liberated." ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 116 mins
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
And then all hell breaks loose when her child dies before coming back to see her and her true friend dies because he was a flop at everything including milking cows and Thymiane gave away all her inheritance. Well basically a tragic story that ends with Thumiane helping one of the wayward girls she had met earlier...
Interesting but again just a tad too long.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spies (1928)

Spies (Spione) was the first independent production of German "thriller" director Fritz Lang. The years-ahead-of-its-time plotline involves Russian espionage activity in London. The mastermind is Haghi (Rudolph Klein-Rogge), a supposedly respectable carnival sideshow entertainer. Heading the good guys is Agent 326 (Willy Fritsch), with the help of defecting Russian spy Sonya (Gerda Maurus). The film moves swiftly to several potential climaxes, each one more exciting than its predecessor. Haghi's ultimate demise is a superbly staged Pirandellian vignette. Anticipating Citizen Kane by a dozen years, director Lang dispenses with all transitional dissolves and fade-outs, flat-cutting territory from one scene to another. The film was co-scripted by Lang and his then-wife Thea Von Harbou. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 143 mins
Spies (1928)
Another that I would say is too long for my tastes. If there had been a narrative, I would have enjoyed it more. So not much to say on it. Rating 2.5

M (1931)

Fritz Lang's classic early talkie crime melodrama is set in 1931 Berlin. The police are anxious to capture an elusive child murderer (Peter Lorre), and they begin rounding up every criminal in town. The underworld leaders decide to take the heat off their activities by catching the child killer themselves. Once the killer is fingered, he is marked with the letter "M" chalked on his back. He is tracked down and captured by the combined forces of the Berlin criminal community, who put him on trial for his life in a kangaroo court. The killer pleads for mercy, whining that he can't control his homicidal instincts. The police close in and rescue the killer from the underworld so that he can stand trial again in "respectable" circumstances. Some prints of the film end with a caution to the audience to watch after their children more carefully. Filmed in Germany, M was the film that solidified Fritz Lang's reputation with American audiences, and it also made a star out of Peter Lorre (previously a specialist in comedy roles!). M was remade by Hollywood in 1951, with David Wayne giving a serviceable performance as the killer. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Running Time: 110 mins
M (1931)
The movie has a narrative dialogue that is well worth watching it. I kept thinking that there was a twist on the plot, but it all was pretty straight forward plot. Even the commentators note that the murderer is known to the viewer and we have the clues already. We in essence are looking at how the police and the criminal elements gather the clues in a slow meticulous way. With time slipping by every character seems to be obsessed with time and what time it is even to the second. It seems obvious some meaning to the constant clock watching but when watching it I so no correlation with the script per se.

Even for being an older film the story still has resonance and has much of the same issues as we still face now-child abduction and mass murderers with asymmetrically information. The one major twist was that the criminal elements (petty thieves, pickpockets, bookies etc) tied together with beggars were actually trying to do the work of the Police. That another element of society (mass murderer) was causing an escalated strife between police and the unsavory but petty elements of society.

In many ways this film has elements repeated in many other films, of course the basic psychology underlying these criminals seems to be the same no matter what time or culture they may have come from. This included the writing of letters by the killer to both the police and then to the press.

Joseph Goebbels had felt the film was pro-death penalty and stated that Lang was going to be a good German film director for the Nazis. This of course did not work out. From the commentators they seem to imply that Lang was not pro-death penalty, but I find it pro-death as it shows the depravity of man and that at least for one man-he can not control his own actions so society has to make those decisions for him.

The funniest part of the film for me was when Inspector Karl Lohmann learns from petty thief that the criminal gang was looking for the Child Murderer in the building. He has the back against the criminal and his expression is funny but he manages to recovery his astonishment.

The commentators felt the trial a kangaroo trial. While technically correct, after the mass murderer confessed, then all counter arguments for the defense are clearly weak and lacking any substance. The defense only point they try to make is that the group of criminals and elements of the lower society should not be allowed to judge the murderer. But when I watched it I was thinking that this was not a case of Anarchy/Vigilantes but more of a case of a government formed by "his peers" for the purpose of administering justice. While the other short trial scene was the state that may or not be as efficiently administered as the informal government. I do not say the informal was better but clearly it had the elements of producing a just verdict as easily as the Police State (IMHO).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fay Grim (2006)

A single mother from Queens becomes unwittingly embroiled in international espionage indirector Hal Hartley's sequel to the critically acclaimed Henry Fool. Fay Grim (Parker Posey) is determined to raise her 14-year-old son Ned (Liam Aiken) so he won't be like his father Henry (Thomas Jay Ryan), who disappeared seven years ago after accidentally murdering a vicious neighbor. As Fay's brother Simon (James Urbaniak) serves time in a prison cell for aiding Henry in his daring escape, he gradually begins to suspect that the man who inspired him to take up writing in the first place is not the louse he appeared to be, but instead the keeper of some potentially explosive government secrets that, if made public, could prove quite dangerous. As Simon begins to explore the possibility that Henry's autobiography "Confessions" contains coded references to a wide variety of international atrocities committed by governments around the world, the CIA contacts Fay to inform her that her husband was killed in a hotel fire in Sweden shortly after fleeing America, and that the French government is currently in possession of two notebooks containing drafts of "Confessions." Convinced that the notebooks contain information that could endanger the security of the United States, CIA agent Fullbright (Jeff Goldblum) convinces Fay to travel to Paris and retrieve Henry's property before the information falls into the wrong hands. Now trapped in the middle of a cross-continental con and thrust deep into the world international espionage, Fay is about to find out that her ex-husband is not only still alive, but in more trouble than he could ever imagine. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 118 mins
Fay Grim (2006)
Basically a comic book detective story with plenty of farces. I am looking forward to the first movie of this two part character development.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sister My Sister (1994)

In this stark drama based on actual events in a small French town in the early '30s, a pair of repressed sisters slowly lose their grip on reality, leading to horrific consequences at the home where they're employed as maids. Christine (Joely Richardson), a domestic servant in the home of haughty widow Madame Danzard (Julie Walters), takes pride in her efficiency and deference. Raised by nuns, Christine bitterly resents her penniless mother, but remains devoted to her younger, similarly convent-reared sister, Lea (Jodhi May). When Lea, too, comes to work for Madame Danzard, Christine trains her dutifully while also driving a wedge between the girl and their mother. The sisters' emotional bond eventually becomes a sexual one, too, and as they turn inward their work suffers, leading to increasing disapproval from their employer. Meanwhile, Christine is driven mad with jealousy at what she perceives as a flirtation between Lea and Madame Danzard's sullen daughter, Isabelle (Sophie Thursfield). Tensions reach a boiling point when the widow and her daughter return home one evening to find burned garments, uncompleted housework, and the sisters holed up in their room together, smelling of sex. Adapted by Wendy Kesselman from her Pulitzer Prize-winning play, My Sister in This House, Sister My Sister was based on the true story of Christine and Lea Papin, whose grisly 1933 murders have also inspired several other works. In addition to Jean Genet's 1948 play The Maids, the incident was the basis for Jean-Pierre Denis' feature Les Blessures Assassines and the documentary En Quete Des Soeurs Papin, both released in 2000. The real-life Christine Papin died after four years in prison, but Lea was released after ten years of hard labor and lived for several more decades in another small French town. ~ Brian J. Dillard, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 85 mins
Sister My Sister (1994)
Other than being a true life story and having a dramatic ending, I could not get into it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Black Book (2006)

Filmmaker Paul Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands after more than twenty years of success in Hollywood to direct this epic-scale war drama based on a true story. Rachel Steinn (Carice van Houten) is a beautiful Jewish woman living in German-occupied Holland during late 1944. Her family members - who have been falsely promised safe passage to Belgium (their names recorded in the 'black book' of the title) are instead robbed and slaughtered by the Germans on a premeditated basis; Rachel herself manages to escape by diving into the water and swimming away. She narrowly avoids capture, then joins the local resistance movement. With her hair dyed blonde, Rachel can easily pass for Aryan, and when the leader of the Dutch resistance movement learns his son has been captured by Axis forces, Rachel is asked to use her feminine charms to persuade a German commander to arrange for the boy's release. Rachel soon finds herself caught up in a dangerous double life as she becomes a sexual plaything for the Nazis while attempting to bring down their evil empire as a spy. Zwartboek was written by Verhoeven and Gerard Soeteman, who collaborated on the 1977 international success Soldier of Orange. Zwartboek received its world premier at the 2006 Venice Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 146 mins
Black Book (2006)
It was quite an epic that while at times seemed like a little fairy tale story it was still a pleasant film with lots of adventure and intrigue.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pigalle (1994)

It's a grim world of prostitution, drug dens, transvestites, junkies and murderers. The seediest side of urban life is examined in this tragedy. The film follows the complex, interwoven lives of four characters as they live their harsh and gritty nocturnal lives on the city streets. The main characters are Fifi a pickpocket who is simultaneously involved with Divine, a transvestite hooker and Vera a peep show dancer who refuses to be a hooker. Vera lives with her would-be pimp Jesus le Gitan, a small-scale drug dealer. When the area riff-raff become embroiled in hostilities, two of main characters are slowly killed in horrible ways. Fifi is then left to avenge their deaths. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 78 mins
Pigalle (1994)
The background and interview for the film was more interesting than the film. Yes it had plenty of violence on a gritty personal level, for example the assassination of one man in the rest room.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Days of Glory (2006)

Director Rachid Bouchareb teams with screenwriter Olivier Morelle to offer a revealing look at the brave contributions made by North African soldiers who fought for France during World War II in this emotionally-charged war drama starring Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Sami Bouajila, and Bernard Blancan. The year was 1943 and France had been bending to the will of Nazi Germany for three long years. In order to break Hitler's powerful grip, the first French Army was recruited in Africa. Comprised of 130,000 North Africans who were willing to put their lives on the line in order to defeat the Nazi death machine, the fearless fighters were contemptuously dubbed indigènes (natives) by many French, despite their remarkable sacrifice. From the noble Abdelkader (Bouajila), who is fighting strictly for the cause; to the money motivated Yassir (Naceri); the impoverished Saïd (Debbouze); and die-hard romantic Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), who longs to finally visit the country he has dreamt about from afar, the selfless efforts of these remarkable men ultimately transcend their superiors' contemptuous disregard for their service by providing invaluable aid during one of the world's darkest hours. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 119 mins
Days of Glory (2006)
For most of the movie, both sides of the war seemed very inept at fighting the war. Some of the battles just like most wars shows the senseless loss of human life for just some hill. Their was a tension that brewed throughout the movie about the racism of the French and Italians to the North African men. But the fight for the small town was interesting how the 4 North Africans had held off a couple of squads of Germans with two waves of attacks. The NAs had one sharp shooter, a rifle man, one machine gunner (did the most killing) and a one armed man with a hand gun. Won't say how it ends though...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Seven Beauties (1976)

Starts off our little tale of a reluctant Italian to participate in WWII. And in doing so he sees the horror of the German Nazis up close.
Italian filmmaker Lina Wertmuller directs the black comedy Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties). During WWII, Pasqualino Frafuso (Giancarlo Giannini) ends up lost in a dense forest along with fellow army deserter Francesco (Piero De Orio). After they witness a mass execution by German soldiers, Francesco admits his moral opposition to the Nazis and Pasqualino reveals his criminal past in a series of flashbacks. Back in Naples, he was known as "Pasqualino Seven Beauties," a petty thief who lived off the profits of his seven sisters while claiming to protect their honor at any cost. When Totonno (Mario Conti) pimps out his sister Concettina (Elena Fiore), Pasqualino kills him, chops up his body, and mails each piece across the country. He is then arrested and sent to a mental institution, where he commits sexual assault against another patient. Kicked out of the asylum, he is sent to fight in the army. The Germans capture him and he gets sent to a concentration camp. He then plots to make his escape by demoralizing himself in an attempt to seduce a German officer (Shirley Stoler). Seven Beauties was nominated for four Academy Awards in 1977, including Best Foreign Film. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 115 mins
Seven Beauties (1976)
He is also a womanizer and likes to flirt with the young girls which he finds a fancy in one teenager and they meet a few times through the film.
Well worth watching and you have the choice of subtitles or listening to the dubbed version. It is interesting to see how both versions are different.

I do want to leave with the deep philosophy presented by an old man in the concentration camp and Pasqualino's interpretation of this philosophy.
P: I want to live, have children.
See my children's children, and more... and the children of my children's children. All the children I can possibly have.
OM: Bullshit, amigo. (Laughter)
P: You pig! How dare you tell me what to do?! Who are you?! HOw dare you insult me like that?!
OM: Come on, that's nonsense, you're talking bullshit...because the more children you have the faster the end will come.
PF: In what sense? What do you mean?
OM: In the year 1400 there were 500 million people on earth. By the year 1850 the amount doubled to one billion. Now we're all extremely indignant because the death of 20 million men, but in 200 or 300 years, there'll be a lot more of us, 30 billion or more. Anywhere you go on earth will be worse than here. That's when men are going to butcher each other and murder an entire family for a piece of bread or an apple and the world will end. Too bad, because I believe in man but soon very soon, a new man. A new man will be born. He'll have to be civilized not this beast who's been endowed with intelligence and obliterated the harmony in the world and brought about total destruction just by disturbing nature's equilibrium. A new man with values, able to rediscover the harmony that's within.
PF: You mean, put things in order?
OM: Order? No, no, no...
The orderly ones are the Germans. A new man in disorder is our only hope. A new man in disorder.

This reminds me of some of our previous discussions about the Übermensch ("superman", "overman", or "super-human").
P: Good. Now quick, you're giving it up, we're getting married. [Prostitution to young girl he flirted with 11 years before.]
There isn't much time to lose. I want children. Many children: 25, 30[10,20 in dub]. It's a matter of self-defense. They must be strong.
Look at the crowds out there. Soon, they'll be murdering each other families slaughtered, for an apple. So must see to it our family is large. That'll be our defense, understand?
YG: [Shakes head.] I've always loved you very much. And I'm ready.
P: [Nods head/] We'll get married, the sooner the better.
I think this is taking The Will to Power to the extreme. LOL...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

American Visa (2006)

A Bolivian man with dreams of reuniting with his son and starting a new life in the United States is forced to resort to questionable methods due to harsh laws designed to curb immigration in director Juan Carlos Valdivia's thoughtful meditation on the post-9/11 political climate. Mario Alvarez (Demián Bichir) wants nothing more than to travel to Miami, re-connect with his long-lost son, and seek out a new life in a new country. Obtaining a visa in Bolivia is no easy task though, and in order to achieve his goals Mario will be forced to bend the rules nearly to the breaking point. Mario's diligent efforts to escape to the U.S. are soon complicated, however, when a beautiful young dancer named Blanca (Kate del Castillo) voices a desire to quit her job at a seedy strip club and settle down with the desperate dad in Bolivia. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 90 mins
American Visa (2006)
A completely inept man tries to use questionable methods to get money that only ends him up broke and broken as a man. If not for his loved one (Blanca), he would have nothing of value. The most ignorant aspect was when he had the cash in had that was stolen out of a suitcase, he proceeds to carefully count out how much he wants. He could have just taken the briefcase and run off safely.

Gods of the Plague (1969)

Gods of the Plague (Gotter der Pest) is one of several German films directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder under his pseudonym of Franz Walsch. That's Fassbinder, however, playing the small role of a buyer of pornography. The main story involves a pair of two-bit hoods who spend most of the film one-upping each other with a brace of scheming females. Their dreary life of crime comes to a spectacular head in a shoot-out at a supermarket. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 88 mins
Gods of the Plague (1969)
Yes a major disappointment and even other reviews at REVIEWS state:
"The narrative is random and disposable, which means you’ll have to settle for the allure of the film’s many women."
Click for Full Review
-- Ed Gonzalez, SLANT MAGAZINE

"This wallow in fatalism is a minor but memorable crime flick."
Click for Full Review
And much of the film has already left my mind. Forgettable easily.

Amores Perros (2000)

Three stories of life along the margins in Mexico City converge in this inventive thriller. Octavio is sharing an apartment with his brother, which leads to a serious problem when he falls in love with Susanna, his sister-in-law. Octavio and Susanna want to run away together, but Octavio has no money. He does, however, know a man who stages dog fights, and he volunteers his dog Cofi for the next round of fights. Cofi bravely rises to the occasion, but the dog's success in the ring leads to a violent altercation. Elsewhere, Daniel, a successful publishing magnate, leaves his family to take up with a beautiful model, Valeria. Valeria, however, soon loses a leg in an auto accident, and as Daniel tends to her needs, her tiny pet dog gets trapped under the floorboards of their apartment. And finally, El Chivo (Emilio Echeverria) is an elderly homeless man who is trying to contact his daughter, whom he hasn't seen in years. Desperate for money, El Chivo is hired by a businessman to assassinate his partner; however, as he's following his target, he's interrupted by an auto accident, from which Octavio and his injured dog stagger in search of help. Amores Perros (aka Love's a Bitch) was the debut from director Alexandro Gonzalez Inarritu. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 153 mins
Amores Perros (2000)
Another long film but held my attention-maybe it was all the violence in the film. Also with the intertwining stories it brings in plenty of plots that weave together in the right manner without being contrite. Most of the struggles are resolved ultimately even if not ideal situations. Some of the characters learn and grow but the young Octavio never really grows up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Schindler's List (1993)

Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List stars Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who sees an opportunity to make money from the Nazis' rise to power. He starts a company to make cookware and utensils, using flattery and bribes to win military contracts, and brings in accountant and financier Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to help run the factory. By staffing his plant with Jews who've been herded into Krakow's ghetto by Nazi troops, Schindler has a dependable unpaid labor force. For Stern, a job in a war-related plant could mean survival for himself and the other Jews working for Schindler. However, in 1942, all of Krakow's Jews are assigned to the Plaszow Forced Labor Camp, overseen by Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), an embittered alcoholic who occasionally shoots prisoners from his balcony. Schindler arranges to continue using Polish Jews in his plant, but, as he sees what is happening to his employees, he begins to develop a conscience. He realizes that his factory (now refitted to manufacture ammunition) is the only thing preventing his staff from being shipped to the death camps. Soon Schindler demands more workers and starts bribing Nazi leaders to keep Jews on his employee lists and out of the camps. By the time Germany falls to the allies, Schindler has lost his entire fortune -- and saved 1,100 people from likely death. Schindler's List was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won seven, including Best Picture and a long-coveted Best Director for Spielberg, and it quickly gained praise as one of the finest American movies about the Holocaust. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 196 mins
Schindler's List (1993)
I don't think this film needs much said about it. Simply a great film. And even the special features were good to point out the story behind the story.

Europa, Europa (1991)

This drama was based on the true story of a young German Jew who survived the Holocaust by falling in with the Nazis. Solomon Perel (Marco Hofschneider) is the son of a Jewish shoe salesman coming of age in Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler. In 1938, a group of Nazis attack Solomon's family home; his sister is killed, and 13-year-old Solomon flees to Poland. Solomon winds up in an orphanage operated by Stalinist forces; when German forces storm Poland, Solomon's fluent German allows him to join the Nazis as a translator, posing as Josef Peters, an ethnic German. In time, "Peters" is made a member of the elite Hitler Youth, but since Solomon is circumcised, he can be easily revealed as a Jew, and he lives in constant fear that his secret will be discovered. Solomon's close calls include an attempted seduction by Robert Kellerman (André Wilms), a homosexual officer, and his relationship with Leni (Julie Delpy), a beautiful but violently anti-Semitic woman who wants to bear his child for the glory of the master race. Europa, Europa (shown in Europe as Hitlerjunge Salomon) also features the real Solomon Perel, who appears briefly as himself. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 114 mins
Europa, Europa (1991)
Almost a tragic comedy as the young Jewish boy gets into deep trouble at every turn including someone that rats him out for being a Jew and then that person is shot by the Nazis. The part of the film where he tries to cut off blood to his member seems to be the most bizarre but soon he realizes just before it dies to try something else. The love story intertwined is a nice touch.

This story is similar to another story that has recently been confirmed through much research in The Telgraph The tale of a Nazi mascot.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Lives of Others (2006)

A man who has devoted his life to ferreting out "dangerous" characters is thrown into a quandary when he investigates a man who poses no threat in this drama, the first feature from German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It's 1984, and Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) is an agent of the Stasi, the East German Secret Police. Weisler carefully and dispassionately investigates people who might be deemed some sort of threat to the state. Shortly after Weisler's former classmate, Lt. Col. Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur), invites him to a theatrical piece by celebrated East German playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), Minister Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme) informs Weisler that he suspects Dreyman of political dissidence, and wonders if this renowned patriot is all that he seems to be. As it turns out, Hempf has something of an ulterior motive for trying to pin something on Dreyman: a deep-seated infatuation with Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), Dreyman's girlfriend. Nevertheless, Grubitz, who is anxious to further his career, appoints Weisler to spy on the gentleman with his help. Weisler plants listening devices in Dreyman's apartment and begins shadowing the writer. As Weisler monitors Dreyman's daily life, however (from a secret surveillance station in the gentleman's attic), he discovers the writer is one of the few East Germans who genuinely believes in his leaders. This changes over time, however, as Dreyman discovers that Christa-Maria is being blackmailed into a sexual relationship with Hempf, and one of Dreyman's friends, stage director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert), is driven to suicide after himself being blackballed by the government. Dreyman's loyalty thus shifts away from the East German government, and he anonymously posts an anti-establishment piece in a major newspaper which rouses the fury of government officials. Meanwhile, Weisler becomes deeply emotionally drawn into the lives of Dreyman and Sieland, and becomes something of an anti-establishment figure himself, embracing freedom of thought and expression. A major box-office success in Germany, Das Leben der Anderen (aka The Lives of Others) received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
The Lives of Others (2006)
Yes a nice film about voyeurs becoming too involved with their victims. Although they never really meet they share a moment in the end through the writing of Dreyman years later. Well worth watching the movie for the suspense and drama.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WWII - Why We Fight|Vol 2

General Douglas MacArthur
Commander in Chief
Southwest Pacific Area

Russia has 1/4 of the harvestable forests in the world.
Boy funny to watch a propaganda film that is unabashed favorable to Russia. Even conveniently ignoring Russian aggressions during WWII. "Free and united people" does take the cake with nice words even for Stalin. The battle of Leningrad only briefly mentions that some Germans got into the city and shows a few hundred soldiers.

The portion on China was also so full of propaganda about their struggle to be free. I did learn about them moving their industrial production west to prevent the Japanese from destroying it. I guess that is why the game Axis and Allies had an industrial production plants located inland as their industrial production is mostly located along the coastal regions.

This was well worth it for me to watch for the historical perspective on how we looked at the allies of WWII.

WWII - Why We Fight

Frank Capra: Why We Fight WWII: Battle of China / War Comes to America
This disk appears to have the same portions as Volume 2 already covered.

The Fog of War (2003)

Former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara is the sole focus of documentarian Errol Morris' The Fog of War, a film that not only analyzes McNamara's controversial decisions during the first half of the Vietnam War, but also his childhood upbringing, his education at Berkley and Harvard, his involvement in World War II, and his later years as president of the World Bank. Culling footage from almost 20 hours of interviews with the Secretary, Morris details key moments from McNamara's career, including the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Kennedy's suggestions to the Secretary that the U.S. remove itself from Vietnam. Throughout the film, the 85-year-old McNamara expounds his philosophies on international conflict, and shows regret and pride in equal measure for, respectively, his mistakes and accomplishments. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 107 mins
The Fog of War (2003)

Lesson #1:
Empathize with your enemy.

I think that does not make sense, you of course should empathize with victims but not with those that are the scorpions. McNamara says that all parties were rational so Kennedy empathized with Khrushchev. According to McNamara Castro was the Scorpion and was willing to use nuclear weapons.

Lesson #2:
Rationality will not save us.

Lesson #3:
There's something beyond one's self.

Why are we here? Why are we here?

Lesson #4:
Maximize Efficiency.

Lesson #5:
Proportionality should be a guideline in war.

Lesson #6:
Get the data.

Lesson #7:
Belief and seeing are both often wrong.

Interesting about his meeting with Former Foreign Minister. From the film it seems to imply that McNamara did not know that Viet Nam was fighting against the Chinese for a 1000 years. But again as I remember it was fighting against an ideology and thus it mattered little what various allies are in international relations. Just as we are in a war against Islamic Jihad-so it really matters little when AQ and Iran do not get along. But just like communism we can choose which side to be on.

Lesson #8:
Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.

Lesson #9:
In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.

Lesson #10:
Never say never.

Lesson #11:
You can't change human nature.

And then for Robert S. McNamara's Ten Lessons:
1. The human race will not eliminate war in this century, but we can reduce the brutality of war-the level of killing-by adhering to the principles of a "Just War", in particular to the principle of "proportionality".

2. The indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will lead to the destruction of nations.

3. We are the most powerful nation in the world-economically, politically and militarily- and we are likely to remain so for decades ahead. But we are not omniscient.
If we can not persuade other nations with similar interests and similar values of the merits of our proposed use of that power, we should not proceed unilaterally except in the unlikely requirement to defend the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii.
For this I have to interrupt. Because is he saying that even our territories that have US citizens we would not defend (Puerto Rico, Guam...)? Or would we not if our closest neighbors were invaded (Mexico, Canada)? Or even Europe?
4. Moral principles are often ambiguous guides to foreign policy and defense policy, but surely we can agree that we should establish as a major goal of US foreign policy and, indeed, of foreign policies across the globe: the avoidance in this century of the carnage-160 million dead-caused by conflict in the 20th century.

5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment.

6. Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head. Of course, they have responsibilities to stockholders, but they also have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.

7. President Kennedy believed a primary responsibility of a president-indeed "the" primary responsibility of a president-is to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.

8. War is a blunt instrument by which to settle disputes between or within nations, and economic sanctions are rarely effective. Therefore, we should build a system of jurisprudence based on teh International Court-that the US has refused to support-which would hold individuals responsible for crimes against humanity.
Sure as you are about to die. I am sure there are plenty that would love to take McNamara into court.
9. If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy-I don't mean "sympathy" but rather "understanding"-to counter their attacks on us and the Western World.

10. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the risk that terrorists will obtain access to weapons of mass destruction as a result of the breakdown of the Non-Proliferation Regime. We in the US are contributing to that breakdown.

High rating for giving this a real close and personal autobiography of the man. It was almost in his words with very little interruptions from others.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Three Times (2005)

Millennium Mambo director Hou Hsiao-hsien explores the ever-changing cycle of love in this collection of three romantic stories set in 1911, 1966, and 2005 and utilizing the same actors in all three tales. In "A Time for Love," a fresh-faced soldier boy named Chen (Chang Chen) searches for a pool hall hostess named May (Shu Qi) who captured his heart before disappearing into the crowd. The second tale, set against the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan and entitled "A Time for Freedom," finds an elegant courtesan tending to a young intellectual in a lavish brothel. The trilogy draws to a close with a segment entitled "A Time for Youth" in which a present-day Taipei singer who is also an epileptic neglects her female lover to seek the romantic attentions of a talented photographer. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 135 mins
Three Times (2005)

Three Times
Yes beautiful and lovely songs, but not sure it stirred in me any strong desires.
"Three stories about a man and a woman, all three using the same actors. Three years: 1966, 1911, 2005. Three varieties of love: unfulfilled, mercenary, meaningless. All photographed with such visual beauty that watching the movie is like holding your breath so the butterfly won’t stir"[3]

So this may be a better way for me to describe it:
"According to one American critic, Three Times is "why cinema exists." Only if you think that cinema has no higher calling than presenting a long series of gorgeously lit close-ups of beautiful actresses are you likely to agree."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2004)

Alex Gibney, who wrote and produced Eugene Jarecki's The Trials of Henry Kissinger, examines the rise and fall of an infamous corporate juggernaut in Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which he wrote and directed. The film, based on the book by Fortune Magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, opens with a reenactment of the suicide of Enron executive Cliff Baxter, then travels back in time, describing Enron chairman Kenneth Lay's humble beginnings as the son of a preacher, his ascent in the corporate world as an "apostle of deregulation," his fortuitous friendship with the Bush family, and the development of his business strategies in natural gas futures. The film points out that the culture of financial malfeasance at Enron was evident as far back as 1987, when Lay apparently encouraged the outrageous risk taking and profit skimming of two oil traders in Enron's Valhalla office because they were bringing a lot of money into the company. But it wasn't until eventual CEO Jeff Skilling arrived at Enron that the company's "aggressive accounting" philosophy truly took hold. The Smartest Guys in the Room explores the lengths to which the company went in order to appear incredibly profitable. Their win-at-all-costs strategy included suborning financial analysts with huge contracts for their firms, hiding debts by essentially having the company loan money to itself, and using California's deregulation of the electricity market to manipulate the state's energy supply. Gibney's film reveals how Lay, Skilling, and other execs managed to keep their riches, while thousands of lower-level employees saw their loyalty repaid with the loss of their jobs and their retirement funds. The filmmaker posits the Enron scandal not as an anomaly, but as a natural outgrowth of free-market capitalism. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 110 mins
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2004)

In the bonus materials there is an interview with Bethany McLean that was informative and presented an interesting background of a couple of the top people and how their background created their personas of greatness since they had overcome a lot to get to that level anyway. She also was one of the best parts of the film for her clearly stated answers while not stating hyperbole.

This movie confirmed to me that Gray Davis was weak and ineffective as Governor. He did deserve to lose the election. Even if he did not follow his advisers on sending in troops, he should have negotiated without dealing with the Scorpion. Nothing prevented him from having their own traders on the markets.

Peter Elkind again in the bonus material does make an important point that anyone with desire and motivation to look at the financial statements could have seen that something was wrong with the books. I know that some quant models also never rated Enron a Buy rating.

At a retail location I worked at, I did work under a Manager that thought that it should be standard practice to lose the bottom 10% of the work force every year. Just cut off the bottom 10% and work to get rid of them. I thought this was just crazy. It would be better to not destroy morale by looking to fire people, instead it is better to devote your attention to promoting and encouraging the winners. The losers will leave on their own accord in most cases anyway. Even just asking some people to do their work as required sent them to quiting.

The cartoons/skits on Enron in the bonus material was also a nice touch.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why We Fight (2004)

Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex! is the actual phrase that Eisenhower was going to say in his speech but he choose to change it because he did not want to offend members of Congress that he had good relations with. Well blow me down, all those Libs this time have been lying to me. It is not corporations that he was upset with but actually the purse string holders in congress.

November 1936
If another world war develops in Europe
...Should America take part again?

And the results were 95% saying no. I knew that we were strongly against but never knew that much so.
In 1961, as Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his final address to the nation before leaving the office of President of the United States, he warned that America "must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted the military-industrial complex." Nearly 45 years later, as the United States finds itself waging a war in Iraq for reasons that seem increasingly unclear with the passage of time, Eisenhower's statement becomes all the more pertinent, and the question becomes more apt: has the machinery the United States established to wage war helped prevent conflict, or has it done more to inspire it? Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki offers an in-depth look at how the United States has readied itself for battle, and why and how the nation goes to war in the film Why We Fight. Named for Frank Capra's famed series of Defense Department films (which explained the motives behind America's entry into World War II), Why We Fight features interviews with foot soldiers, Army recruits, Pentagon personnel, decorated veterans, members of Congress, national security advisors, top military strategists, and many more as they talks about the core philosophies of American military strategy and how they have changed since the end of the Second World War. Why We Fight received the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
Why We Fight (2004)

Why We Fight website.

But basically a left wing pacifist film with little of substance but a good story line. One fact they state is the amount of supposed civilians that died in both wars in the gulf, and from that they conclude that 'smart bombs' are not as accurate as they claimed to be. In the Gulf I war 3500 died in it and 6000 died in the second war. But you have to compare truly civilians and not what Saddam said and you have to count how much targets and much tonnage was bombed. Also the basic goals of the wars were different and thus more than likely had a widely different sorties by the Air Force. In the second war there was some psyops operations that ended up leaving Saddam's army in the worst position possible.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fracture (2007)

[url=]Fracture (2007)[/url]
A structural engineer (Anthony Hopkins) and an ambitious young district attorney (Ryan Gosling) become locked in a deadly battle of wits when the former is found innocent in the attempted murder of his wife in director Gregory Hoblit's tense tale of courtroom mind games. Ted Crawford (Hopkins) is an engineer who lives with his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) in the couple's lavish Southern California home. One day, after carefully planning out the details to ensure that there is no way he can be convicted of murder, Ted shoots his wife in a blatant attempt to murder the woman. When head hostage negotiator Rob Nunnaly (Billy Burke) arrives on the scene to speak with Ted, he is shocked to find that the victim of the shooting is in fact his longtime lover. Though Jennifer survives the trauma of being shot in the head at close range, she hovers comatose between life and death as star prosecutor Willy Beachum (Gosling) reluctantly accepts the case while preparing to leave the Los Angeles criminal court system behind for a more promising career at a posh private law firm. Though the D.A. (David Strathairn) vehemently resents Beachum's lofty plan for departure, the hotshot young lawyer remains convinced that he can expedite the apparently open-and-shut case and be on his way to greener pastures in one week's time at the very most. Beachum's swelling ego betrays him, however, as his future boss Nikki Gardner (Rosamund Pike) begins to turn up the heat and fracture mechanics specialist Ted chooses to represent himself at the trial knowing well that a career spent spotting structural flaws in aeronautical systems has instilled him with just the kind of argumentative skills needed to riddle the swaggering young lawyer's "foolproof" case with doubt. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 113 mins
Yes, that is a good overall review of the movie. But I have to say the alternative ending was even more shallow. After breaking into the house the DA makes threatening overtones to Anthony.

The collapse of the double jeopardy argument that since she later died because of being taken off life support is then considered murder seems so simplistic. What if a victim later dies from getting run over by a bus, what are we to assume then?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Alphaville (1965)

In Alphaville you get the death penalty by women stabbing you in a swimming pool for behaving illogically.
Sometimes, reality is too complex for oral communication. But legend embodies it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world.
Alpha 60 is a vast computer that decides everything even what people think down to what to do and say. In the end they get completely lost and can not think for themselves. Alpha 60 talks like a man with throat cancer speaking through one of the speaking devices.

I do wonder how the French think that putting seemingly random ideas together makes sense.

Her name was Beatrice. She said she was a seductress, third class. I was struck by the sadness and durability of her face. Something's not in orbit in the capital of this Galaxy.
Seems they just don't like technology much.

-I see. People have become slaves of probabilities.
+Their ideal here, in Alphaville is a technocracy, like that of termites and ants.
-I don't understand.
+Probably one hundred and fifty light years ago. One hundred and fifty, two hundred there were artists in the ant society. Artists, novelists, musicians, painters. Today no more.

While showing a slide of a scale in balance with ! and ? the following was spoken:
Is it not obvious that someone who customarily lives in a state of suffering requires a different sort of religion from a person habitually in a state of well-being?

In Alphaville, Jean-Luc Godard fuses a hardboiled detective story with science fiction. Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), a hero Godard borrowed from a series of French adventure films, comes to Alphaville, the capital of a totalitarian state, in order to destroy its leader, an almost-human computer called Alpha 60. While on his mission, Lemmy meets and falls in love with Natacha (Anna Karina), the daughter of the scientist who designed Alpha 60. Their love becomes the most profound challenge to the computer's control. Void of any flashy special effects, Alphaville uses 1960s Paris to depict the city of the future. ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins
Alphaville (1965)

So overall an interesting film but I unfortunately fail to see some of the hidden messages. Like when Mr. Caution goes around with a little cheap mechanical flash camera to take pictures of some people. Also only the women have bar codes on them (various body locations). I think only one lady I did not see the tattooed numbers.

Alphaville (film)

Alpha 60 outlaws free thought and individualist concepts like love, poetry, and emotion in the city, replacing them with contradictory concepts or eliminating them altogether. One of Alpha 60's dictates is that "people should not ask 'why', but only say 'because'." People who show signs of emotion (weeping at the death of a wife, or a smile on the face) are presumed to be acting illogically, and are gathered up, interrogated, and executed. In an image reminiscent of George Orwell's concept of Newspeak, there is a "Bible" in each room: actually a dictionary that is continuously updated when words that are deemed to evoke emotion become banned. As a result, Alphaville is an inhuman, alienated society of mindless drones - many the apparent victim of re-education campaigns by Alpha 60 that are implicitly reminiscent of Nazism and Communism.

The film does lose the sound in certain scenes and only playing the music or complete silence.
Thus rating: 3.5 (/5)

La Capitale de la Douleur (The Capital of Pain)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Syrian Bride (2004)

The Syrian Bride-WIKI

A family deals with the typical anxieties of a wedding day while also confronting the political turmoil of the Middle East in this drama, a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers. Hammed (Makram J. Khoury) is a leading political figure in Majdal Shams, a Druze community that has been under Israeli occupation since the late '60s. Years ago, Hammed arranged for his daughter Mona (Clara Khoury) to marry Tallel (Derar Sliman), who has since become a successful actor in Syria. Hammed has gathered the family together to see Mona off, but the occasion is a bittersweet one -- given the combative relationship between Israel and Syria, once Mona crosses the border with her husband, it's unlikely she will ever be able to return. Hammed's oldest son, Hattem (Eyad Sheety), comes back from Russia, where he now lives with his wife, but his father still refuses to forgive him for leaving the land of his birth. Marwan (Ashraf Barhoum), a younger son, is a businessman living in Italy who uses his visit home as an opportunity to visit Jeanne (Julie-Anne Roth), an American United Nations representative he's been dating. And daughter Amal (Hiam Abbass) helps her sister Mona deal with the stress and details of her big day as she struggles to live as a modern woman while married to Amin (Adnan Tarabshi), who wants his spouse to follow a more traditional path. Makram J. Khoury was ideally cast as Hammed in at least one respect -- he's the real life father of Clara Khoury, who plays his screen daughter Mona. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 97 mins
The Syrian Bride (2004)

A nice little film about an arranged marriage and the brides anxiety in leaving her family for more than likely the last time seeing them. A lot of the film is about how the three entities at the boarder (Syria, Israel, and UN) interact.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Serenity (2005)

A band of renegades on the run in outer space get in more hot water than they anticipated in this sci-fi action-adventure adapted from the television series Firefly. In the 26th century, the galaxy has been colonized by a military force known as the Alliance, but its leadership has not gone unquestioned. The Alliance was once challenged by a league of rebels known as the Independents, but the Alliance emerged victorious after a brutal civil war, with the surviving Independents scattering around the galaxy. Also wandering the edges of the galaxy are the Reavers, who have won few allies due to their violent behavior and habit of ripping apart their enemies and eating them before they're dead. Capt. Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who fought as an Independent in the galactic war, is the head of Serenity, a rogue frieghter ship whose crew includes Mal's first mate, Zoe (Gina Torres), who fought alongside him in the war, her husband, hotshot pilot Wash (Alan Tudyk), sunny but dependable mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and hard-nosed gunman Jayne (Adam Baldwin). The crew of Serenity wander the galaxy, taking on whatever work they can get, from criminal activities like smuggling and stealing to legitimately offering transport to travelers. Passengers aboard Serenity include professional "companion" Inara (Morena Baccarin) and holy man Shepherd Book (Ron Glass), but the real trouble aboard the ship comes with the arrival of Simon (Sean Maher) and his teenage sister, River Tam (Summer Glau). In time, the crew discovers that River has remarkable psychic powers and was being held captive by Alliance forces until Simon came to her rescue. Now the Alliance is hot on the heels of Serenity and its passengers, with The Operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a sinister Alliance tracker, leading the chase. Serenity was written and directed by Joss Whedon (in his directorial debut), creator of Firefly, which only lasted 11 weeks on the air but gained a powerful cult following who rallied to get the show released on DVD after its cancellation, leading to impressive home-video sales and and an eventual motion picture deal. A couple of months prior to Serenity's theatrical release, reruns of Firefly were picked up by the Sci-Fi channel, adding even more fans to its cult following. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 119 mins

An excellent Sci-Fi film that I watched 3 times. Plenty of interesting aspects and plenty of action with special effects. I have been afraid of watching a lot of Sci-Fi that is coming out lately since most of the plots is still focused around the alien creatures that are threatening humankind.