Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Am Cuba (1964)

An unabashed exercise in cinema stylistics, I Am Cuba is pro-Castro/anti-Batista rhetoric dressed up in the finest clothes. The film's four dramatic stories take place in the final days of the Batista regime; the first two illustrate the ills that led to the revolution, the third and fourth the call to arms which cut across social and economic lines. A lovely young woman in a nightclub frequented by crass American businessmen takes a customer to her modest seaside shack for a night of pleasure for pay, only to be found out by her street vendor suitor; a tenant farmer is told that his crop has been sold to United Fruit and in frustration burns his fields; a middle-class student rallies his pals and workers in a street demonstration against the regime; a peasant eking out a living in the mountains quickly converts to the cause when Batista bombers strafe his land in search of rebel fighters. At face value, this is all obvious agitprop, but director Mikhail Kalazatov turned his cinematographer, Sergei Urusevsky, loose, and the result is a procession of dazzling black-and-white images, shot with a camera that is almost always moving and soaring over the sugar fields, swooping in and out of urban buildings, following characters down narrow streets. Unreleasable to American theaters during the Cold War, I Am Cuba, through the auspices of filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, got a belated U.S. release in 1995 and has proved to be both a time capsule of a fading political movement and a timeless work of cinematic art. ~ Tom Wiener, All Movie Guide

For cinematography it was a 10. I loved the long shots scenes that a couple were over 2 minutes in length.
My mother also had a chance to watched this and we both enjoyed it.

There was several propaganda points that missed the mark or did not make sense.
1. The man that burned his sugar cane field show complete ignorance. He sent his two children to town with the last of their money and then burned down the field and the house with all the furnishings and then was overcame with smoke and supposedly died. His reason was supposedly because they had stole his property from him. But the robbers did say he was going to get paid. And no matter what anyone else would say, I would have harvested as much of the cane as possible and sold it as quickly as possible. So instead of that he left his children as orphans and burned up all possessions up in the fire.

2. The prostitute lived in a run down shack with light coming in from the roof but had an elaborate carving on the rocking chair and a pure white bed spread. Also if she was able to work in the touristy areas with Americans then her standard of living would not have indicated that she would have had to live in the most depressed areas of the city. It was a nice set construction of a slum.

Aside from being a complete propaganda piece about "Soy Cuba" (I am Cuba) this was an excellent cinematographic film.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel Rwanda tackles one of the most horrifically ugly events in recent history, when the Hutu extremists of Rwanda initiated a terrifying campaign of genocide, massacring hunderds of thousands of minority Tutsis (who had been given power by the departed Belgian colonists), while the rest of the world looked on and did nothing. Don Cheadle stars as Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager at the fancy Les Milles Collines hotel in Kigali. Paul is a Hutu, and a very successful businessman who smoothly greases the wheels, making powerful connections in all strata of Rwandan life. His wife, Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo of Aeon Flux), is a Tutsi. She urges Paul to use his influence to help local Tutsis, who are being harassed and beaten with increasing frequency, but Paul will only use the political capital he's built up to help his own family, if and when they need it. Soon enough, the violence escalates, and the Hutus begin their genocide of the Tutsis. European guests and staff at the hotel are flown out of the country, and Paul is left in charge. He finds that his conscience won't allow him to watch as the innocent are slaughtered, and before long, the hotel has become a well-appointed refugee camp. Paul is seen as a traitor by some, putting his life in danger, and the predicament of his "guests" grows more precarious every day, but despite good intentions on the part of a journalist (Joaquin Phoenix) and a UN peacekeeping colonel (Nick Nolte), the rest of the world is not eager to intervene and stop the massacre. Hotel Rwanda was directed by Irish filmmaker Terry George (Some Mother's Son), who co-wrote the script with Keir Pearson. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Definitely an emotional tale of death and destruction. It showed the reasons to call it a Genocide (Democide).

The DVD had a couple of interviews and some background on the making of the movie that was as interesting as the movie itself. During the scrolling of the credits it plays a song with a line being "The United States of Africa" and "United Kingdom of Africa".

Monday, June 18, 2007

Babette's Feast (1987)

The Danish/French Babette's Feast is based on a story by Isak Dinesen, also the source of the very different Out of Africa (1985). Stephane Audran plays Babette, a 19th century Parisian political refugee who seeks shelter in a rough Danish coastal town. Philippa (Bodil Kjer) and Martina (Birgitte Federspiel), the elderly daughters of the town's long-dead minister, take Babette in. As revealed in flashback, Philippa and Martina were once beautiful young women (played by Hanne Stensgaard and Vibeke Hastrup), who'd forsaken their chances at romance and fame, taking hollow refuge in religion. Babette holds a secret that may very well allow the older ladies to have a second chance at life. This is one of the great movies about food, but there are way too many surprises in Babette's Feast to allow us to reveal anything else at this point (except that Ingmar Bergman "regulars" Bibi Andersson and Jarl Kulle have significant cameo roles).. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

This was a pretty slow movie that lacked much of a plot. The surprises are only significant to the Captain. And if this is a second chance in life, then I would rather have another life...
I can see why it was rated as a 2. Although I did not hate this movie, I still feel compelled to rate it as a 1.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Archangel (2005)

After nearly a half-a-century of silence, the final secret of Josef Stalin reveals itself to a former Oxford historian who is currently attending a Russian conference for the newly opened Soviet archives in a tense international thriller starring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale). Fluke Kelso (Craig) is on his way out of Russia when an unexpected visit from an ex-officer of the Soviet Secret Police offers hints of a deadly scandal. Later, when the mysterious former agent is found brutally slain, Kelso enlists the aid of the man's daughter Zinaida in finding the answer to a mystery that was presumably buried along with the Soviet Union dictator back in 1953. When Fluke and Zinaida travel to the remote Russian seaport of Archangel in search of the elusive truth, the vengeance of both the Russian authorities and the dangerous underworld threatens to silence them both and keep Stalin's secret buried for yet another half-a-century. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

A movie similar to "Total Recall" with the guiding hand directed them to the places they want the reporters to go. Only for the twist at the end does it not script with the powers to be.

An excellent film that presented a what if "Stalinism" could be revived by a symbolic heritage.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Music and Lyrics (2007)

A professional collaboration between a popular lyricist and a washed-up musician takes a decidedly personal turn as the pair gradually finds their relationship developing into something much deeper in a romantic comedy directed by Marc Lawrence and starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. Alex Fletcher (Grant) may have been all the rage in the 1980s, but these days he's lucky to get a gig playing at the local county fair. Just when it seems as if things couldn't get any more bleak for the dejected has-been rocker, reigning pop diva Cora Corman (Haley Bennett) offers Alex the opportunity of a lifetime -- write and record a duet to be sung with her and watch his career receive a much-needed boost as the nostalgia-crazed public laps it up. Little does Cora realize that not only has it been years since Alex has written a song, but he's never actually written a single lyric. Now, if he hopes to make the comeback needed to save him from a life of complete and utter obscurity, Alex will have to craft a radio-friendly hit in a matter of mere days. Luckily for Alex, his quirky plant-keeper Sophie Fisher (Barrymore) has quite a way with words and may possess just the kind of songwriting talent needed to make such a hit happen. Unfortunately the beguiling Sophie is still reeling from a recent break-up with newly famous novelist Sloan Cates (Campbell Scott), and she isn't quite sure if she's ready for any kind of collaboration right now -- romantic or otherwise. Despite Alex's hesitation to commit and Sophie's reluctance to collaborate, the pair quickly discovers that a little chemistry can go a long way in healing the wounds of the past and laying the foundation for a much-deserved future of happiness and success. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Simply a wonderfully funny film. I could not help from laughing out loud.
Both Drew and Hugh were exceptional, one of their best for both.
Maybe we should see more of the two???

Friday, June 15, 2007

O Caminho das Nuvens (2003)/"The Middle of the World"

A father desperate to improve his family's circumstances takes them on an unusual journey in this drama from Brazil. Romão (Wagner Moura) is a truck driver who has fallen on hard times; illiterate and unable to find work at a living wage, Romão and his wife, Rose (Cláudia Abreu), decide to leave the Northwestern provinces of Brazil and head east for Rio de Janeiro, which is 2,000 miles away. With no vehicle at their disposal, Romão, Rose, and their five children make the journey on bicycles. Along the way, they face physical and emotional hardship and bear witness to the many ways in which the nation they knew is changing. Romão also finds himself coming to a crossroads with his oldest son, Antônio (Ravi Ramos Lacerda), a teenager who has become openly defiant of his parents. O Caminho das Nuvens (aka The Middle of the World) was the first dramatic feature from documentary filmmaker Vincente Amorim. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

One interesting part was the father the oldest daughter and the two younger boys were hired as "Native Indian" Dancers. I can understand the father's frustration but I am not sure if it was worse than having his wife beg for money.

They supposedly started out from the The Middle of the World or also known as Mitad del Mundo which is an interesting read of itself.

But I do see this film as a triumph of human will and in this case a family that discovers themselves along the road. The oldest boy grows up and has to make it on his own.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (2005)

"Access of Evil"
-Amy Goodman
Oh boy, I have to say that a film that has special features like an interview with Amy Goodman has to be in my all time favorite category...NOT!
My word, she can not see anything beyond hating the USA. When you have to emphasize the thousands that died under Pinochet, you really have no idea of what real genocide/democide is, just watch S21 to get an idea. That one location had 17,000, which is more than the 10,000 for all of the 17 years of Pinochet.

So she wants to have a trial for all USA leaders, but strangely does not want to mention Clinton (air war) or Carter. And she so magnanimously said OBL should be tried also. Which allows her to equate and equalize leaders that have been elected with jihadists that want to cut off people's heads.

Brave people only vote in Haiti and East Timor, but please do not mention Iraq or Afghanistan or the former Yugoslavia...

"The old guard needs to be thrown out." Well strange if they got elected then what can Amy complain about. I am positive that she considers democracy as only things that support her points of view. This seems evident when she says we have only a right wing and a far right wing party. She has no idea how many consider Bush not even that conservative...

In the spring and summer of 1972, George McGovern, a Democratic senator from South Dakota, achieved the seemingly impossible. Backed by a motley collection of Prairie populists, old-school liberals, and young people disenchanted with the war in Vietnam, McGovern overwhelmed longtime party favorites such as Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie to win the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States. However, McGovern's triumph proved to be short-lived; after his initial running mate, Thomas Eagleton, was revealed to have a history of mental illness, the McGovern campaign went into a tailspin from which it would never recover, with the incumbent Richard Nixon winning the 1972 election by a landslide. However, McGovern's campaign is still remembered by many as one of the last examples of a candidate truly triumphing through the will of the people rather than working the party political machine, and given the scandalous downfall of Nixon following his re-election, many have wondered what America would be like today if McGovern, once described by Robert F. Kennedy as "the most decent man in the Senate," had won. One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern is a documentary which looks back at the McGovern campaign and explores what went right, what went wrong, and what was McGovern's true legacy. The film includes interviews with Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Gary Hart, Frank Mankiewicz, Warren Beatty, Gore Vidal, Ron Kovic, and McGovern himself. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Good morning Vietnam!
I have not watched it all yet, but if I go mad over the next two hours of hearing Amy Goodman dialog this film, I will know why. It seems to be nothing more than one long winded diatribe of USA hatred.

Can you imagine if McGovern had become President? Can you imagine a world without Watergate, without yellow ribbons, without Madison Avenue induced Patriotism,? Can you imagine that wasn't hungry?

LOL, funny. So yes no Watergate, so what? Life went on. Yellow ribbons, the war was still going on and thus to assume that is foolish. Maybe fewer ribbons but probably more boat people and Pol Pot had more time in the killing fields. Madison only feeds on people buying stuff, so not likely anyone could control that. And a world without hunger, is he serious? Unless McGovern was godlike that is an impossibility.

Ohhhh those Democrats, they saw themselves as the real people, dressed for work. The Republicans ,of course, saw them as a rabble dressed for trouble.
The Republicans didn't spend their time milling around in hotel lobbies arguing about women's rights and having black caucuses. I'll tell you that. Many of them spent their afternoons on Yachts.

How many are many? Boy I love that colorful piece of propaganda.

Don't change Dicks
In the Middle of a Screw
Vote for Nixon in '72

The Southern Strategy
General elections generally go to the man who can portray his hatred of black people in the most tactful way so he can't be caught. And they (Republicans) were masters.

Nixon's interpretation of the souther strategy was blatantly racist.

Boy what a dastardly thing for Nixon to end an unpopular war to win the elections. Instead of glorifying the win over the Hawks it is better to curse the sky.

List of accomplices:
Warren Beatty
Gloria Steinem
Gore Vidal
Howard Zinn
Gary Hart

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Don't Tell (2005)

Dark shadows from a woman's past come back to haunt her in this drama from writer and director Cristina Comencini. Sabina (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) would seem to have a charmed life -- she has a successful career as a voice actress, a loving and supportive relationship with her boyfriend, Franco (Alessio Boni), and a pair of close friends she can confide in, Maria (Angela Finocchiaro) and Emilia (Stefania Rocca). But Sabina's contented existence is shattered when she inadvertently dredges up a long-dormant memory of how during her childhood she was sexually abused by her father. Confused and ashamed, Sabina finds it impossible to talk about her memories with Franco and her friends, but the terrible images refuse to go away. Seeking closure, Sabina travels to the United States to talk to the one person who may have a true insight to her problems, her brother, Daniele (Luigi Lo Cascio). Originally released in Italy as La Bestia nel Cuore, Don't Tell premiered at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

A very gripping tale of family secrets and how it effects relationships-mostly for the worst.
But I fail to see the logic in making rash decisions that can concern Sabina's health or the health of the baby for something that happened 20 years ago. After you learn a deep dark and hidden secret from your past, does that in essence change you as a person or are you still the same person.

Also it is funny the way Daniele treats his children, at least until the end of the film. There has been plenty of messed up children by not being loved and shown affection when they were young. So in trying to avoid what happened to him could easily create more problems in his children.

Raja (2003)

The one honest thing he said in the movie was: "She's an emotional cripple.
Raja (Najat Benssallem) is a 19-year-old Moroccan girl. An orphan, she's led a difficult life, but has gotten off the streets and lives with her cousin Nadira (Ilham Abdelwahad) and her family. Raja and Nadira are happy to get low-paying jobs working in the garden of a wealthy middle-aged Frenchman, Fred (Pascal Greggory). Fred is immediately attracted to the new girl and the other girls tease Raja about his interest, encouraging her to go after his money. Fred discusses his growing infatuation with his two elderly cooks, Oum El Aid (Oum El Aid Ait Youss) and Zineb (Zineb Ouchita), who try to discourage his interest. Because they don't speak the same language, Fred and Raja often have to rely on others to translate as they dance around each other. Fred hires Raja to be his maid, and flirts shamelessly with her. She's intrigued, and desperate to change her life, but she keeps him at a distance, uncertain of the seriousness of his interest. Raja has a boyfriend, Youssef (Hassan Khissal), who resents her relationship with the Frenchman; in addition, her brother (Abdelilah Lamrani), who pimped her out as a girl, still tries to control her life, taking a share of the money she earns. He plans for her to marry a policeman he knows. Fred struggles with his emotions. They obviously feel something for each other, but the cultural and economic differences between them may be too immense to overcome. Raja, written and directed by Jacques Doillon (Ponette), was shown at the 2003 New York Film Festival. Benssallem won the Marcello Mastroianni Award (for best first performance) at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

For me it was nothing more than a middle aged pervert and a young girl that could not make up her mind. She seriously needed some growing up and understanding her feelings before making life choices. But unfortunately she probably had little power in those choices.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

To Live (1994)

Zhang Yimou, often regarded as China's leading contemporary filmmaker, directed this drama chronicling the ebb and flow of one family's fortunes, set against the backdrop of China's tumultuous history between the 1940s and the 1970s. Fugui (Ge You) is the father of a once-wealthy family whose addiction to gambling and chronic bad luck causes him to lose his home in a game of dice with Long'er (Ni Dabong). Fugui's wife Jiazhen (Gong Li) abandons him, and he finds himself working as a peddler, until the man who now owns his home gives him a pair of shadow puppets. Fugui learns the art of puppetry and travels as a performer; while on the road, he is arrested by Nationalist forces, until he is liberated by advancing Red Army factions, and he comes him home to his wife and children as they adapt to the nation's new leadership. While once a lazy spendthrift, Fugui vows to change his ways, and he struggles to become a better worker and citizen. But Fugui and his family soon realize that there is adversity waiting for them around every corner, and the onset of the Cultural Revolution makes it clear that China's new regime can be as corrupt and callous as the old order. While a Grand Prize winner at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and recipient of the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 1995 BAFTA Awards, Huozhe did not fare well in its homeland. Chinese censors objected to the film's commentary about political abuses in China's past, as well as Zhang Yimou's attempts to present the film at several international festivals. As punishment, he was forced to write a formal apology and was not allowed to make another film for two years. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

If you take all our pots away how will we cook?
We're racing towards Communism, and you worry about food?
We are setting up communal kitchens.
We are just two bullets short of liberating Taiwan.

Small boy: We are not going to liberate Taiwan?

While it did raise issues with Chinese Censors, it really was pretty light (IMO) on the atrocities committed by the Communists. Even during the Cultural Revolution there was no mention of the millions that died in the worst democide of modern times.

Little Children

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Todd Field teams with novelist Tom Perrotta to adapt Perrotta's acclaimed novel concerning the suburban malaise experienced by a handful of small-town individuals whose intersecting lives converge in a variety of surprising, and sometimes ominous, ways. Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, and Patrick Wilson star in a cinematic adaptation that doesn't aim so much to simply reproduce the book for the screen as it does to re-imagine the written word by exploring new possibilities for the characters and situations originally presented in Perrotta's 2004 best-seller. Sarah (Winslet) is a suburban outsider who, unlike the other playground moms, isn't afraid to approach the dreamy but long-absent father whom smitten housewives have taken to calling the "Prom King." Long days at the local community pool with their respective children soon find Sarah becoming acquainted with local husband and father Brad (Patrick Wilson) -- who seems to share in her seething discontentment with life in their quaint commuter town. An English literature major who never envisioned a fate as a soccer mom, Sarah has a growing dissatisfaction with her successful husband (Gregg Edelman) that parallels Brad's increasing frustration with his inability to pass the bar and connect with his wife, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), a successful documentary filmmaker. It's not long before the dejected pair is meeting for a series of illicit afternoon trysts as their unsuspecting spouses work and their children lie quietly napping. Meanwhile, after the community is riled by the return of a convicted sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) who leaves the concerned parents scrambling to protect their young ones, an attempt made by Sarah and Brad to legitimize their clandestine relationship by dining together with their respective spouses begins to awaken Kathy's suspicions about the fidelity of her husband. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

The title I really did not understand until close to the beginning. Everyone seemed to start out as adults but as the story unfolded, they ended up all as little children and not able to deal with their problems as adults. In the end they just go back home instead of making any true commitment. You have to ask if nothing changes then how can going back home will be any different before the changes...

Well I still thought it was overall well written and had a strong message. LOL

Alpha Dog

Alpha Dog is an American film written and directed by Nick Cassavetes, and released on January 23, 2007. The film is based on the true story of Jesse James Hollywood,[1] and follows a young drug dealer, Johnny Truelove through his involvement with the kidnapping of 15 year old Zack Mazursky.

A nice film even before I knew it was a true story or even knowing of the murder. But the film does give portents to the actions that are about to happen.

Blockbuster| Alpha Dog
A drug dealer moves on to bigger crimes in an effort to settle a score with disastrous results in this drama inspired by actual events. Though barely out of his teens, Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) has already built a lucrative career for himself selling drugs -- he has his own home, a luxury car, and posse of friends who do double duty as his crew, including Elvis (Shawn Hatosy), Frankie (Justin Timberlake), and Tiko (Fernando Vargas). While life at Johnny's house is usually a constant party interrupted by occasional dope deals, Johnny has lost all of his patience with Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster), a regular customer who has run up a large tab that he can't pay. Determined to clear Jake's account, Johnny and his boys plan to kidnap Jake and hold him for ransom, but when they happen upon his 15-year-old stepbrother, Zack (Anton Yelchin), they impulsively decide to take the youngster instead. Jake's father, Butch (David Thornton), and his stepmother, Olivia (Sharon Stone), are already furious with their junkie son when they learn about Zack's disappearance, and aren't sure what they should do. Meanwhile at Johnny's place, Frankie takes a liking to young Zack, who already admires his brother's high-flying lifestyle, and introduces the kid to the joys of grown-up partying, which he takes to with dangerous zeal. Also featuring Bruce Willis as Johnny's father, Alpha Dog was based on the real-life story of Jesse James Hollywood, who at the age of 21 became one of the youngest people to ever appear on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis was the last "Expressionist" film and Caligari The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari the first. And M was the first new objectivity film.
Die Nibelungen.
Truly an interesting use of mirror filming with sections scratched out that gave the moving real image as the mirror reflected back a picture of a model. Multiple shot photography was done inside the camera. That definitely took a lot of planning and patience to get the image just right-from experience.

Hitler after watching Metropolis, wanted Lang to create the Nationalist Socialist Cinema. In 1933, Goebbels talked directly to Lang and offered him head of the German film industry. He said he never wanted to return to Germany and left for Paris and then 9 months to the USA. Good man!

While Fritz Lang's gargantuan Metropolis may have nearly bankrupted UFA, the film forever enriched the lexicon of the cinema. Adapted from a novel by Lang's wife Thea Von Harbou, Metropolis combines the director's awe upon experiencing the hugeness of the New York City skyline with an H.G.Wellsian glance into the future (though Wells himself despised the film). In the year 2000, the wealthy ruling class lives in towering luxury skyscrapers, while slave laborers monotonously toil away far below ground level. The hero, Freder (Gustav Frohlich), is the pampered son of Fredersen (Alfred Abel), one of the most egregious of the fat-cat rulers. Freder is reformed when he meets Maria (Brigitte Helm), the loveliest of the subterrenean dwellers. Travelling incognito below ground, Freder, appalled by the laborers' squalid living conditions, immediately begins campaigning for humanitarian reforms. Evil industrialist Rottwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) can't let this happen, so he plots to turn the slaves against the reformers. In his neon-dominated laboratory, Rottwang creates a robot in the image of Maria, designed as a false prophet to lead the rabble astray (Brigitte Helm is astonishing as she alternates between the Madonna-like "real" Maria and the wild-eyed, hedonistic android). After a destructive uprising and an underground flood of Biblical proportions, the despotic Fredersen sees the light, and agrees in the future to treat the working class with equanimity and compassion.The eye-poppingly realistic miniatures in Metropolis are the handiwork of the brilliant Eugene Shuftan, whose eponymous technical process would soon be adopted in America.
When it was premiered in Germany in January of 1927, Metropolis ran 153 minutes when projected at 24 frames per second. That complete version was heavily cut for release in America, removing a quarter of the movie: one whole personal conflict (and a centerpiece of the original plot) between the industrialist Fredersen (Alfred Abel) and the inventor Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) over a woman; a subplot involving double-dealing, espionage, and the mysterious "Thin Man"; a section taking place in the "red-light" district of the city; a good deal of the symbolism in the movie's original dialogue; and a large chunk of the chase at the end. In Germany in the spring of 1927, an edited version modeled roughly on the American edition, though running slightly longer, was prepared and released, and that became the "standard" version of the movie, for both domestic (i.e. German) distribution and export. In subsequent years, other editions were circulated and still others were found deposited in various archives; in a surprising number of instances -- including that of a source stored at the Museum of Modern Art in New York -- there were tiny fragments to be found of the lost, longer version of Metropolis. The movie's reputation was compromised with the lapsing of its American copyright in 1953, after which countless copies and duplicates, in every format from 8 mm to 35 mm (and, later, VHS tape and DVD) came to be distributed in the U.S. by anyone who could lay their hands on a print, of whatever quality and with whatever music track they chose (or didn't choose) to put on it. Various restorations of the movie were attempted over the decades by responsible parties, as well. The BBC did a very effective one in the mid-'70s that was a hit on public television in America, utilizing an electronic music track that sometimes mimicked some of the industrial images on the screen. Also, there was the Giorgio Moroder version from 1984, heavily tinted and not too well assembled, with an idiotic rock score. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

While interesting thoughts come from a film such as this, the whole thing looked like a cheap stage set. Even the supposedly heavy doors have a certain bounce to them.

To the new Tower of Babel-to my father-!

The film has a strong religious theme through the film including one room that had a collection of Crosses behind a podium.
"And on the top of the tower we will write the words: Great is the world and its Creator! And great is Man!"
...but the minds that had conceived the Tower of Babel cound not build it. The task was too great. So they hired hands for wages.

Evil bastards. Actually they show slaves in the next scene.
One man's hymns of praise became other men's curses.

The following phrase begins the destruction of the central machine that then floods the town.
Who told you to attack the machines, you idiots? Without them you'll all die!!

If not for the heroic acts of the good people then all the children of the Metropolis would have perished.

Plenty of extra features:
An interesting fact came out that since the German Mark was nearly worthless, then movie production flourished since it could be sold internationally since they were silent language became less of an issue. Also since the terms of trade was so bad (against Germany) other countries did not enter the German market.

Poster on walls in Berlin:
Berlin, your dancer is Death."

And it ends with:
The mediator between brain and hands must be the heart!

Lila Says (2004)

A self-styled bad girl leads a teenage boy down a frustrating path in this drama from France. Chimo Jarjoura (Mohammed Khouas) is a 19-year-old student living in Marseilles. Chimo likes to write and has genuine talent, but he hasn't been able to break away from his friends Mouloud (Karim Ben Haddou), Big Jo (Houd Dkhissi), and Bakary (Lofti Chakri), who are more interested in petty crime than in building a future and are suspicious of Chimo's non-Muslim teachers. One day Chimo meets a 16-year-old girl named Lila (Vahina Giocante), and is immediately smitten, especially when she makes it clear she's attracted to him. However, while Chimo falls head over heels for Lila, he soon discovers she's far more interested in talk than action, and that she isn't eager to limit her attentions to one man. Lila Says made its North American debut at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

But in reality Lila's talk about other men is greater than what she says it is, even if she is a little over the top in exhibitionism. And these little lies lead to the surprise ending where Chimo finally sees what the true and basest forms of his friends. And he is finally free of them and has to decide what he will do with his life.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Aristide and the Endless Revolution (2005)

Jean-Bertrand Aristide was the first democratically elected president of Haiti, a nation long marked by political instability and corruption, but while the former Catholic priest was voted in as a friend of the poor and the disadvantaged, staying in office proved to be his greatest challenge. Aristide was first sworn into office on February 7, 1991, but a military coup removed him from office seven months later. Aristide went into exile in Venezuela and later the United States, but after the collapse of the military regime that staged the coup, he returned to Haiti and served as president from 1994 to 1996. Prevented by the law from succeeding himself in office, Aristide was reelected president in 2001, but another coup in 2004 ended his term in office, and the leader went into exile once again, this time in South Africa. Aristide claims that the second coup coincided with his being kidnapped by American intelligence agents, and a number of political analysts and activists, including Noam Chomsky and U.S. congresswoman Maxine Waters, contend that the United States government directly interfered with Aristide's rule in favor of the right-wing military regime. However, others have argued that Aristide's administration fell into widespread corruption, and that he was removed from office for the good of the people. Aristide and the Endless Revolution is a documentary which features extensive interviews with Jean-Bertrand Aristide as he discusses his political career in Haiti, and with others who speak out in support of the leader (Noam Chomsky, Maxine Waters, Danny Glover) as well as those who oppose his rule, including former U.S. Secretary of State Roger Noriega and Timothy Carney, an American ambassador to Haiti during Aristide's administration. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

I am not sure who said this on the film:
This is not about anything but the ideology of the far right wing that now really controls the United States Government, that does not support popular democracy.

Before this and the following quote we get to see Clinton and the Senior Bush mouthing. Huh? Clinton far right, yes maybe to some communist sympathizers. Oh look we have Chomsky-defender of all communist regimes.
Orders from on high, are that we are to concentrate on this question: just how much was Aristide responsible? But we do not have to follow the orders from on high. And if we are sensible we see that the only question how it would implode.

What a moron. Sorry but to boil down a complex issue to the "only question" is an extreme example of authoritarianism that wants to dictate the discussions as much as any good communist does. If any person on the right said that, he would be held up as an example of what not to say unless they want to be branded a totalitarianist.

And of course he makes some vague reference to some command structure telling us what to believe, but for me his wild ass assumptions do not work on me. I can decide for myself thank you. I do not need Chumsky to tell me what to question and what to think.
...the US was appalled at the outcome.

My word, does he even pay attention to what he says. The USA does not have one voice. You can not say a nation has any single emotion. It would be just as wrong for me to say Cambodia loved death during Pol Pot regime.

Dr. Paul Farmer is mentioned as for his support for Aristide.

Representative Maxine Waters has a few parts in the film. I use to work and live close to her district. Even my roommate knew of her from his security job work.

There is a nice interview of Aristide in the bonus materials worth watching. While he talks a lot about loving everyone, the main film seems to diverge and show not nearly as peaceful person as he talked in the interview. Also he talks a lot about class warfare. I wonder how much the "wealthy" are really wealthy by world wide standards. If I was rich in Haiti I would have left a long time ago, even under the previous dictators.

Farmer mentions that there is no military in the government to protect against a coup. And I do remember that some thought this was a foolish move. It seems that you leave at least leave enough to carry out the threats from any internal struggle.

But a lovely turn around to blame the USA for assisting in dismantling the army and then having an embargo on arms to Haiti.

Danny Glover also has some dialogue. But sorry when there is much "abject poverty" and massive unemployment then raising the minimum wage will not help the poor as a group. Sure some may benefit but others will more than likely stay unemployed.

Clinton returned Aristide to power after the coup. And then he handed over power peacefully in 94. They made a point that Aristide was the only elected President in the history of Haiti???

Aristide claims that what is happening in Haiti is genocide. I see the violence but if Darfur is not genocide I don't see how Haiti can be it. I do see acts of democide though. He just has not shown that it is deliberately against one group or another. Maybe he is considering a it a class struggle genocide in which he only has to imply rich/poor genocide.

Embargo over contested senate seats???
The embargo also was supported by Canada and France-starting in 2000. It seems strange that two very independent countries would side with the USA if there was not more to the story.

Maxine Waters and Jeffrey Sachs (one of the worlds leading economist) say that none of the aid went to the Aristide government. She claims that 850 million went to NGOs. But that is the reasonable approach when another government feels that the money would be diverted and not end up helping the intended beneficiaries or if the government is corrupt and would use it for controlling purposes. As several governments have done to reward loyal members and punish the opposition parties like claimed in Zimbabwe. Whether Haiti deserved this treatment is another question. Anyway, what a condescending authoritarian question by Maxine.

And what says that "you have no money for" project X, Y or Z if you do not get aid. It is a gift and not a requirement.
...drained him of foreign exchange reserves, as he continued to service the debts to the international institutions, the exchange rate collapsed, the inflation rose, and the economy collapsed, and that was the deliberate result of the strangulation of aid.

We could analyze this as a Two Gap Model problem. So in essence if foreign aid dried up on the foreign exchange gap then the savings/investment gap could have changed this around. Also foreign aid is not the only way to increase foreign exchange-trade could have expanded-although I am sure it would have been tough.

Yes that is a bold move to ask for restitutions/reparations back after 200 years. I know it is fun to blame the French but at some time you have to walk on your own two feet as a nation. This is nothing more than welfare mentality. Then Aristide goes on to advertise his demands on TV. I think doing that sort of actions shows that he wants to blame others for his own inability to govern.

Ricot Dupuy does have a good point that you pick your battles and attacking the two most influential countries as with respect to Haiti is pure foolishness.

Jeffrey Sachs was mentioned earlier when Maxine Waters asked him some questions. The most shocking aspect of his stands is that he is supportive of:
In economics, Shock Therapy refers to the sudden release of price and currency controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, and immediate trade liberalization within a country. Prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs was the foremost proponent of shock therapy for several emerging economies.

A Good Year (2006)

Gladiator duo Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe re-team for this adaptation of author Peter Mayle's best-selling novel about a London-based investment banker who relocates to Provence in hopes of selling a small vineyard he has inherited from his recently-deceased uncle. As a child, Max Skinner (Freddie Highmore) was taught to appreciate the finer things in life while wandering the vineyard estate of his sophisticated uncle Henry (Albert Finney). Life has a strange way or turning out how you least expect it to though, and twenty-five years later Max (Russell Crowe) is now a prosperous money man wheeling and dealing in the cutthroat world of London business. When Max learns that Henry has recently passed away and that he has been named the sole beneficiary of his late uncle's modest estate, the keen businessman hastily arranges a flight to France in order to assess the value of the old property and get it prepped for sale. After Max arrives to find the vineyard in a crumbling state of disrepair, his troubles are further compounded by the stubbornness of gruff estate winemaker M. Duflot (Didier Bourdon) and the unexpected arrival of a determined California beauty named Christie (Abbie Cornish) who presents herself as a long-lost cousin while making a dubious claim to Henry's estate. Meanwhile, the overstressed Max reluctantly finds himself falling for local café owner and town siren Fanny (Marion Cotillard), whose formidable guard is quickly worn down by the smitten beneficiary. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

An excellent film all around. Enjoyed it twice and hope my wife will watch it with me also. It presents 5 "strong women" that shows depth of characters while plenty of romance within a sexy environment.

The feel of the film shows the stark contrast between life in London and a rural part of France without being too gimmicky. We all know how it should end but does keep us in suspense enough to make the small plot twist exciting when they happen.


Norbit (2007)

I know that this is a fictional silly story but the lollipop rings (for a lack of a better name) was not on the market until just recently and not when that film could have possibly been made.
A meek and lovable milquetoast married to an overbearing, overweight tyrant finds his life turned upside down when he meets the woman of his dreams in this romantic comedy starring Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Eddie Griffin. His entire life, Norbit (Murphy) has been picked on and put down, and after being bullied into marrying the most obnoxious woman in town (also Murphy) it appears as if that's the way things will remain until the day he dies. Upon meeting the one woman who seems to accept him for who he is, Norbit is instilled with a newfound sense of hope for the future. In order to find true happiness, however, Norbit will first have to gather the courage to stand up to his monstrous spouse once and for all. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Eddie Murphy's shtick is getting pretty old even with the Flashdance water scene, but I still wanted to watch this one. And so not much thrill here...move along.

Quite a few extra features on this DVD but still nothing of real value to the movie.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mistress of Spices (2005)

Director Paul Mayeda Berges adapts author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni magic realist tale about an enchanting Indian orphan who has leaned to harness the magical properties of spices. Orphaned by regional strife in her homeland of India, Tilo (Aishwarya Rai) is subsequently kidnapped by a vicious gang of bandits. A daring escape is quick to follow, and soon after washing up on mysterious shores the traumatized girl is sheltered by a benevolent old woman (Zohra Segal) who reveals to her the remarkable powers of common spices. Later, after moving to Oakland, California and opening her own spice shop, Tilo is compelled to follow three strict stipulations is she is to retain her ability to harness these magnificent powers: she must never use the powers for her own gain, she can never venture outside of her store, and she must never make contact with the skin of another person. When a handsome architect (Dylan McDermott) crashes his motorcycle just outside of the shop and the kindly proprietor rushes to his aid, the instant chemistry between the pair soon finds Tilo's resolve put to the ultimate test. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

The book Mistress of Spices was written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (official web site) and a couple of reviews.

As a strictly fictional account the story was OK, but I hope no one takes anything said as a reality. My wife was nearly offended by the story line of the "God of Spices". While it does have Hindu customs it is not based on any context of Hinduism.

So thus rating: 1 (/5)

Chocolat (1988)

Set in French Colonial Africa, Chocolat is told from the viewpoint of 8-year-old Cecile Ducasse. With no other frame of reference, the innocent Ducasse accepts the subjugation of the black natives by the white colonists as the natural order of things. The girl grows gradually aware of the social iniquities about her, but only in retrospect (the film is related in flashback, narrated by the grown-up heroine) does she fully realize just how cruel and wrong-headed the entire colonial system had been. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The adult version of the 8-year-old Cecil mentions going to Limbe in Cameroon.

It was a nice story of a young girl growing up and the relationships in the small mixed community. But we were a little disappointed that we never found out about what caused the family to leave Africa and what had transpired in the intervening years. So an incomplete but nice story line.

Rating: 3.5 (/5)

Friday, June 1, 2007

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2002)

The brutality of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime is documented in Rithy Panh's documentary, S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine. S21 was a notorious detention center, an abandoned suburban schoolhouse used by the Angkor (the Communist Party organization) for the imprisonment and torture of thousands of innocent citizens. Prisoners were tortured until they confessed to false crimes, and were also ordered to incriminate others. Of the approximately 17,000 prisoners who were interred there, about seven survived. Panh interviews two of the survivors, Vann Nath and Chum Mey. While Mey can barely bring himself to speak of the horrors he endured, including the loss of his family, Nath agrees to return to the prison, which is now the Tuol Sleng S21 Genocide Museum, and discuss his ordeal. Panh also brings back several of the Khmer Rouge personnel, who committed atrocious acts on behalf of the regime, many while they were still teenagers. The guards and interrogators give a horrific tour, reenacting their treatment of the prisoners, and going through the regimes detailed records, including photographs, to refresh their memories of the horror they took part in. Panh allows Nath to confront them about their actions, but most of them claim that they themselves were also victims, indoctrinated in the regime's poisonous ideology, and too afraid for their own safety to show any compassion for their victims. Panh himself was imprisoned at a Khmer Rouge labor camp as a teenager, before escaping to Thailand in 1979. S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine won the Prix François Chalais at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, and was also selected for the 2003 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Nath at one part reads through the "confession" book of Mey, and notes all the people (50-60) that Mey had implicated as well as all the supposed crimes included using too much fabric. His boss was the one that implicated him so the growth of suspected criminals of the state grew exponentially as a result of torture that gave false results.

Don't be too free!"
If you're too free, why not die at birth?

It was amazing how the guards still hold to the old paradigms by even shouting "Determined, Determined". There was a long part of some of the guards playing out how he interacted with the prisoners and described in great detail his actions. And it was easy to see how dehumanizing it was to the prisoners, of course beyond the killing of nearly all people that were sent there.

I figured that something new I would find out about a new horror. They drained people's blood until they were walking corpses and they waited till they exhausted and buried in a pit. This was done whenever the hospital needed more blood. Once or twice a month a few prisoners.

And one last quote from the film...
As we use to say:
Better to make a wrong arrest than to let the enemy eat away at us from within.

Rating: 4 (/5)

PS: A nice blog article about S21 that includes lots of information that correlates with information in this film is at: Return to the Killing Fields.

PS (4-18-2008) HT Pierre France: Recalling Pol Pot's Terror, But Forgetting His Backers

Tuol Sleng - S21 Genocide Museum-YouTube Video