Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paradise Now (2005)

Said (Kais Nashef) is a young Palestinian living in Nablus, and working as a mechanic. He gets his friend Khaled (Ali Suliman) a job, but the hot-tempered and impulsive Khaled quickly loses it. Suha (Lubna Azabal), a pretty, well-traveled young woman and the daughter of a well-known "martyr," brings her car in to be fixed, and flirts with Said. He's clearly interested in her, so much so that he continues to think of her when he's approached later that day by Jamal (Amer Hlehel), who tells him that he's been selected for an important mission, a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, and that Khaled will be joining him, as they had requested. That night, Jamal stays with Said at his mother's (Hiam Abbass) house, while another man stays with Khaled. Said sneaks off during the night to bring Suha her car keys, and has a brief discussion with her about her father's death, and what options the Palestinians have in their dealings with Israel. Said doesn't tell her the real reason for his visit: he's saying goodbye. The next morning, as scheduled, Said and Khaled are given neat haircuts and suits. They each make a video explaining to their families why they've chosen this path. Explosives are strapped on, and they are warned that trying to remove the belts themselves will result in detonation. When they're brought to a hole in the fence surrounding Nablus, they are intercepted by Israeli troops. Khaled and Said flee, and get separated. Said is left on his own. Paradise Now was co-written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad (Rana's Wedding, Ford Transit). A hit on the festival circuit, it was selected for inclusion in the 2005 New York Film Festival by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

It tried to present a balanced approach to the issue, but Suha has the most convincing lines for the reason to try other avenues other than killing of innocents through suicide attacks.
Rating: 2 (/5)

Oldboy (2004)

South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook directed this violent and offbeat story of punishment and vengeance. Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is a husband and father whose reputation for womanizing is well known. One day, for reasons he doesn't understand, Oh Dae-su finds himself locked up in a prison cell, with no idea of what his crime was or whom his jailers may be. With a small television as his only link to the outside world and a daily ration of fried dumplings as his only sustenance, Oh Dae-su struggles to keep his mind and body intact, but when he learns through a news report that his wife has been killed, he begins a long and difficult project of digging an escape tunnel with a pair of chopsticks. Before he can finish -- and after 15 years behind bars -- Oh Dae-su is released, with as little explanation as when he was locked up, and he's soon given a wad of money and a cellular phone by a bum on the street. Emotionally stunted but physically strong after 15 years in jail, Oh Dae-su struggles to unravel the secret of who is responsible for locking him up, what happened to his wife and daughter, and how to best get revenge against his captors. Oldeuboi was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and won the coveted Grand Prix. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

An amazingly intense movie that kept me on the edge of my seat.
But when your tormentor of your pain gives a choice of revenge or knowledge, I say, take revenge and hope knowledge is gained later the past is the past and some things are just not worth knowing. I consider the present is most important and then the future is second and lastly the past.
Similar to the situation in the original The Vanishing (1988-Franco-Dutch) where the truth cost the hero his life. I guess that is why I liked the cheesy USA one better (The Vanishing (1993)). But Roger Ebert did not like it:
"The Vanishing" is a textbook exercise in the trashing of a nearly perfect film, conducted oddly enough under the auspices of the man who directed it... The ending of the original "Vanishing" is of a piece with the rest of the film. It is organically necessary to it. No other ending will do. That is why this Hollywood remake is so obscene."

In anycase this movie was about sins of the past and forcing (creating the situation that normal would not act a certain way) is not the same as an actual premeditated sin.

I do wonder why the hero does not try to find ways out of his metaphysical cage when he recognizes it as such.

Rating: 4 (/5)

This movie supposedly inspired VT Killings: Worst of a Culture Addicted to Fame. Which was one reason to for me to watch it. Although it was very disturbing, I see nothing that would cause someone to do harm to another. It is more like remembering scenes in a movie and relating them to real life.

A nice article about Cho is located at: Was Cho taught to hate?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Jane Austen's perennially popular story of the game of love among the British upper classes returns to the screen in this polished film adaptation. The Bennetts (Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland) are the parents of five daughters near the close of the 18th century. Comfortable within their means but well short of rich, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett are looking for suitable husbands for their girls, and they are encouraged to learn that an eligible young bachelor from a wealthy family, Charles Bingley (Simon Woods), has moved into a nearby estate. Eager to see if a match can be made, the Bennetts bring their daughters Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Jane (Rosamund Pike) to a ball thrown by their new neighbor to see if sparks will fly. Jane seems to like Charles, and he appears to feel the same, but Elizabeth takes an immediate dislike to Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Charles' egocentric best friend. While Elizabeth is infatuated with military man Lt. Wickham (Rupert Friend) and finds herself courted by William Collins (Tom Hollander), a well-meaning but drab man of the cloth, fate causes Elizabeth and Darcy to frequently cross paths, and while they don't care for one another, they can't stop thinking about each other, either. Pride & Prejudice also stars Jena Malone, Judi Dench, and Penelope Wilton. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Yes a very notable excellent version of the book Pride and Prejudice. Keira Knightley shows that she has some real talent as an actress, but all parts were excellently played also. I even had Keira on my buddy list at MySpace.

Rated: 4 (/5)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Eulogy (2004)

Rated: 3.5 (/5)
Mature content.
Writer/director Michael Clancy makes his feature film debut with the black comedy Eulogy. Zooey Deschanel plays Kate Collins, an unhappy college student who is made even more unhappy when her grandfather (Rip Torn) dies. Even though the entire family hates each other, they reunite at the home of Grandma Collins (Piper Laurie). Among other family members, Kate observes a war between her washed-up actor dad, Daniel (Hank Azaria); her lesbian Aunt Lucy (Kelly Preston); her wound-up Uncle Skip (Ray Romano); and her strict Aunt Alice (Debra Winger). Tensions escalate and family secrets are ultimately revealed. Kate is also inundated with the eulogy-writing duties, as she's the only one capable of such a task. Meanwhile, she reunites with old flame Ryan Carmichael (Jesse Bradford). Eulogy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Lots of funny adult content scenes. I choose this mostly because I wanted to see more of Zooey Deschanel that I was first introduced from Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy. In this film she gets the part of narrator and as pointed out above the part that holds the story together.

The Holy Child (2001)

Marc (Lambert Wilson) is a 39-year-old Catholic priest of unprecedented notoriety. After writing a book on the subject of celibacy in the clergy, he has become a spokesperson for the matter, much to the celebration of the Catholic community. It is therefore very inconvenient when a teenage boy shows up on Marc's doorstep, claiming to be his son. Reluctantly, the priest agrees to care for the boy, whose mother is in jail, but he soon finds that keeping the boy and his claim a secret is harder than it sounds. Will Marc be able to keep his reputation intact, even after the mother is released and Marc thinks he might be falling in love with her? ~ Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide

An even handed look at Catholic issues of sexuality without being anti-religious. But you have to wonder why Marc has to lie so many times when his facade was quickly slipping away.

Rated: 3 (/5)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sexo con Amor (2003)/Sex with Love

For Mature viewers only, (Nudity and strong adult content).
A group of parents who have gathered to debate the sexual education schooling of their fourth grade children are forced to re-examine their own views of sex when three couples all make concerted efforts to reawaken their long-buried sensual side in this erotic, Spanish-language comedy directed by Boris Quercia and starring Sigrid Alegria. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Sunday, April 15, 2007

2009: Lost Memories (2004)

Imagine the world and age that you live in unfolding under slightly different circumstances -- what would life be like if our familiar history took a different route? Instead of fighting each other, Japan and the United States have teamed with one another to bring down Hitler during World War II -- and instead of bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Enola Gay flew its fateful mission over Berlin, effectively bringing an end to the Nazi reign of terror. When a terrorist attack unleashes destruction upon a museum housing a collection of priceless ancient artifacts, J.B.I. Agent Masayuki Sakamoto (Jang Dong-Gun) discovers an underground band of freedom fighters willing to pay the ultimate price to acquire the mythical "Lunar Soul." As the mystery comes into light and Sakamoto discovers that everything he has ever known could be little more than a complex illusion, political intrigue and speculative science fiction combine to bring viewers one of the most compelling and original fantasy films that South Korea has to offer. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

A really exciting smash up the place with bullets movie. But while the police are smart they did an awful job with respect to the hostages.

Overall, I think I will remember this for the "what if" aspects of America Nuking Germany instead of Japan and that Japan was an allied nation.
Rating: 3.5 (/5)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Day I Became A Woman (2000)

Directed by Marzieh Meshkini, wife of acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, this film tells three intertwined tales of women's struggle for identity in their native country, from the young to the elderly. Episode one, entitled "Havva," concerns a young girl on the morning of her ninth birthday. Against her better wishes, she is forced to stay home, away from her best friend who has asked her to play with him, due to her mother and grandmother's proclamation that she is now a woman. Learning she was born at noon, the young girl requests one more hour to do what she wishes so she can be a girl one last time. Episode two, entitled "Ahoo," follows a young woman who is being pursued on horseback by her stern husband, whom she is fleeing on bicycle in the midst of a women's biking race. Soon, her in-laws and relatives are also pursuing her, and she must make a quick decision about whether or not to return to family life. The final episode, called "Houra," follows an elderly woman who enlists the help of a young boy and his friends to take her on a shopping spree, where she intends to buy all of the things she has ever wanted out of life. ~ Jason Clark, All Movie Guide

An appealing film for its visuals as well as its subtle indications on life for Iranians on the island of Kish Island. Out of the three, I felt that the little girls story of becoming a woman was the saddest. With her stick as a sun dial, she tried to extend her life as a person equal with young boys and her life of freedom. Although she does not realize what her life has in stake for her, she realizes the value of being still a little girl.

The middle aged woman shows how her life is not hers, even when her husband requests a divorce and supposedly gets it.

And the older woman is free from the constraints of society (no chaperone) but has no one to share them with. She even asks if one of the boys will go with her. She only wins by outliving the rest.

Rating: 3.5 (/5)

Tourism in Kish Island

Body (2003)

A troubled young lawyer's heated affair with the lusty wife of a wealthy industrialist turns deadly in editor-turned-director Amit Saxena's sexy noir thriller. Kabir Lal (John Abraham) has had little luck in law, but upon meeting the irresistibly sexy Sonia (Bipasha Basu), the legal system is the farthest thing from his mind. As the duo's sexual chemistry grows during a series of increasingly heated encounters and Kabir is blinded by his raging passion, he finds himself drawn into a deadly plot to dispose of his lover's wealthy husband. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Actually this is a remake of Bidy Heat, although the video says that it is "in the tradition of Basic Instinct and Body Heat".

In some scenes it was exactly as the original, although as the movie progresses it does take more twist and turns and in the end he does die as he said at the beginning. For a two hour Indian movie it did have too many song and dance scenes.

Rating: 3 (/5)

Friday, April 13, 2007

School for Scoundrels (1960)

School for Scoundrels is a satirical British "how to" piece very much in the same vein as Hollywood's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Ian Carmichael plays a naive young loser, Henry Palfrey, who is anxious to get ahead in the world. He enrolls in a "school" that specializes in teaching one-upmanship -- the slogan is "How to win without actually cheating." Through fair means and foul, Henry learns how to come out top dog in any situation, with such experts as Stephen Potter (Alastair Sim) and Raymond Delauney (Terry-Thomas) as his guides. A perceptive series of comic blackouts exposing the essential hypocrisy in all walks of life, School for Scoundrels was based on the book by Stephen Potter. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

This was remade into the US version School for Scoundrels (2006). And as the special features pointed out in the remake, the person stealing the heroes significant other and the instructor was two different people in the original while it was the same in the remake.

Lots of funny scenes to make this film a must see. I especially liked the part with Henry and the car salesmen in both scenes.
Rated: 4 (/5)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

All the Real Girls (2003)

David Gordon Green, who in 2000 made a splash on the festival circuit with his independent debut feature, George Washington, directed this drama about two people entering into a mature romantic relationship -- the sort that neither has been accustomed to. Paul (Paul Schneider) is a guy in his mid-'20s who lives in a small Southern town, where he earn a living fixing cars for his uncle. A man with little in the way of ambition, Paul still lives with his mother, Elvira (Patricia Clarkson), and still hangs out with his best friend from high school, rowdy Tip (Shea Whigham), and their buddies Bo (Maurice Compte) and Bust-Ass (Danny McBride). Among his friends, Paul has a reputation as a ladies' man, but he's not at all good with long-term relationships; most of Paul's romances last only a few weeks, and he's slept with nearly every girl in town who's worth having. Deep down inside, Paul senses that he would like to lead a different life, and that feeling becomes all the more clear when he meets Noel (Zooey Deschanel), Tip's teenage sister who has come back home after attending a boarding school. Noel is smarter and deeper than the girls Paul is used to, while Noel is taken with his charm, wit, and down-to-earth nature. Paul and Noel soon fall in love, but for Paul this is a different sort of relationship than he's accustomed to -- Noel is still a virgin, and her contemplative nature gives him a desire to be a better, stronger person. However, Tip doesn't approve of Paul dating his younger sister, which leads to a rift between these longtime friends. All the Real Girls was awarded a Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival; Patricia Clarkson's performance was also cited by the jury. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

It was so boring that I could not get into the story line. All I could come up with to describe it as a white trash tragedy piece.
Rating: 1.5 (/5)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


An unpredictable black comedy with an epic scope, Emir Kusturica's highly acclaimed Underground takes a look at the modern history of Yugoslavia through the often absurd misadventures of two friends over several decades. The film begins in Belgrade in 1941, establishing the friendship between the gregarious Blacky and the more intellectual Marko during a drunken, late-night musical procession that establishes the riotous tone to follow. Fellow members of the Communist Party, the friends also share an involvement in shady business activities and an attraction for a beautiful actress. Soon, the chaos of World War II forces them to take refuge in an underground shelter with a variety of other townspeople. Years pass and the war ends, but Marko and the actress trick the others into believing that the war is still going on. Kusturica turns this inherently absurd premise into a vibrant portrait of the contradictory, foolish nature of war. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, the film received great acclaim on the festival circuit but had a hard time securing a release in the United States. ~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide

Another film that has a strong theme of hiding something from a loved one for their own benefit. Of course the over top dark comedy is redeemed in the end for myself.

Rate: 3.5 (/5)

El Alamein: La Linea del Fuoco (2002)

Enzo Monteleone's World War II drama El Alamein: The Line of Fire is concerned with the life of Italian soldiers. Lieutenant Fiore (Emilio Solfrizzi) leads a group of soldiers stationed in Egypt. The troops, including Sargent Rizzo (Pierfrancesco Favino) and newbie Serra (Paolo Briguglia), are constantly under attack from the British. Eventually the commands from the military hierarchy become indecipherable, and the madness and horror of war overtake the men. ~ Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide

And let me add this movie review also:
War seen through the eyes of Serra, a university student from Palermo who volunteers in 1942 to fight in Africa. He is assigned to the Pavia Division on the southern line in Egypt. Rommel and the Axis forces are bogged down; it's October, the British prepare an offensive. At first, boredom, heat, hunger, and thirst bedevil the Italians; then the Brits attack, and there's no luck or heroism in death. Finally, it's retreat in confusion. Serra, his sergeant Rizzo, and his lieutenant Fiori take a last walk toward home. It's said that each soldier gets three miracles; when Serra's are used up, what then? Written by {jhailey@hotmail.com} imdb

A very realistic depiction of the famous World War II battle, from the point of view of some common Italian soldiers, this movie lack of any kind of rethoric, nor pacifistic neither heroic. It's something like a good Vietnam movie from American directors, as "Platoon" or "Hamburger Hill". A must for everyone who wants to know more about Italian war in Africa

For me this reminded me more of "All Quiet on the Western Front"(1930). Especially the way that Serra talks about the romanticism of war from school but seeing the real thing was not like he envisioned it. That when the real war happened, between the long and grueling periods of waiting, he changed his attitude quickly about war and glory.

I am curious about the fact that no one saluted the officers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

List of Foreign Films

Good Bye Lenin
The Battle of Algiers
No Man's Land
Accidental Hero

Team America: World Police (2004)

Rating: 2.5 (/5)
Directed by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Team America: World Police is a tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless politically biting send-up of the CGI-laden, big-budget action movies that have taken an almost exclusive hold over mainstream box offices, particularly during the summer months. Inspired by the Thunderbirds, a popular 1960s children's series, Team America: World Police uses similarly styled, but significantly more crass, marionette puppets in lieu of computer-generated images to breath life into an elite group of adventurers known as Team America. Their mission: to travel the world, root out its terrorists, and keep evil at bay. Aside from intentionally employing all of the hallmarks of standard action-adventure blockbuster formulas, from a prototypical hero to his communist arch-rival, the film also boasts the occasional musical number. The puppets were created by Norman Tempia along with Charles and Stephen Chiodo, the brothers behind the cult classic Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Team America: World Police is not based on Team America, a 1980s series from Marvel Comics, which followed a patriotic team of racecar drivers. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide

Michael Moore as the suicide bomber of their "Intelligence" center was mildly amusing.
“Or else, we will be very, very angry with you, and we will write you a letter telling you how angry we are.”—Hans Brix to Kim Jong Il
“Why is everyone so f*****g stupid? Why aren’t people more intelligent, like me?”—Kim Jong Il

So aside from some one-liners, it was not too thrilling for me.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Accidental Hero (2002)

A tragic accident brings a rebellious son closer to understanding the plight of his single mother in this family drama from French filmmaker Laurent Jaoui. It's been years since Tom and his young mother, Valerie, were abandoned by Tom's father, and contrary to the age-old adage that time heals all wounds, Tom has only grown increasingly bitter with each passing year. Convinced that it was his mother who drove his father from their family, Tom has taken to shouting and disobeying his mother as a means to express his constant resentment and frustration with their current situation. When Tom and his mother are involved in a horrible car accident during an especially heated argument, Tom walks away from the crash, but his mother is left in a deep coma. Soon placed in a group home by the juvenile court, Tom attempts to deal with his pangs of guilt while simultaneously forming a bond with Malik -- the stern head of the group home, who instills Tom with a much needed sense of discipline. When Tom's mother awakens from her coma with no memory of the events leading up to the crash, Tom must make the difficult decision of facing up to the past or protecting his mother from the painful memories of their relationship even as he struggles to come to terms with his newfound respect for her plight. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Rating 3.5 (/5)
Yes a very nice film about the problems of a single head of house without the benefits of an extended family. Tom learns through a combination of unexpected events about his wider family and not was as he thought they were.

But I have to question the amount of low level violence (abuse) on a very personal level. Between son and mother there was a constant level of abuse. Tom experienced it from the security which was enough to destroy some of the merchandise in the store, and the booking police officer was first using verbal abuse and then he and another officer take him down which gives Tom a bloody nose, and his counselor punches him the stomach for pay back, and Tom beats up his room mate and numerous times someone
"laid" hands on another person by grabbing their arm.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Opposite of Sex (1998)

Screenwriter Don Roos made his directorial debut with this oddball sex comedy. The tale is narrated by 16-year-old Louisiana tramp Dedee Truitt (Christina Ricci), who buries her stepfather and then heads for Indiana to visit her homosexual half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan). Recovering from the AIDS death of longtime companion Tom, schoolteacher Bill has linked up with a new partner, handsome Matt (Ivan Sergei). After Dedee seduces Matt and claims she's pregnant by him, the couple steals $10,000 from Bill's safety deposit box and heads for L.A. Alarmed by Matt's seeming disappearance and hoping to blackmail Bill into disclosing Matt's whereabouts, Bill's former student (also Matt's former beau) Jason (Johnny Galecki) accuses Bill of molestation four years previous, a charge that jeopardizes Bill's job as a schoolteacher. To clear his name, Bill, and Tom's sister Lucia (Lisa Kudrow), leave for L.A. to locate Matt and Dedee. Lucia is a repressed old maid who flinches from even the thought of sex, but even so, weird Sheriff Tippett (Lyle Lovett) takes a fancy to her. Meanwhile, questions are raised about the true father of Dedee's baby, and the film comes to a climax with a shooting, a cross-county chase, and the inevitable showdown between the quirky characters. Shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

Rating: 2 (/5)
Pretty dull boring and insipid. Not one of Christina Ricci's better parts, let alone that she was true in her monologue about her character having very little redeeming qualities.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Sexy Beast (2000)

A love story turning into a horror story...
Gary (Ray Winstone) is a former gangster who has made a modest amount of money from his criminal career. Happy to put his life of crime behind him, he has retired with his wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) to the sunny bliss of rural Spain, where he lives an idyllic life with his family and a few close friends. But Gary's contentment is ruptured by an unwelcome visitor from his past -- Don (Ben Kingsley), a former associate who has been hired to assemble a team of criminals to rob a heavily guarded bank. Don wants Gary in on the job, and is less than pleased by Gary's unwillingness to volunteer his services. What ensues is a battle of wills between the two men, with Don intimidating, prodding, and manipulating his onetime friend to get what he wants, forever changing the lives of those around him in the process. ~ Rebecca Flint, All Movie Guide

I don't know what culture would do this but Ben Kingsley goes around saying NO like twenty times in a row, or some cuss phrases.
Other than Don getting his just desserts I was not impressed.
Rating 2.5 (/5)