Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lamerica (1994)

An opportunistic Italian swindler heads to Albania and finds himself involved with the life of an impoverished local in this somber political drama. Gino (Enrico Lo Verso) and his partner in crime Fiore (Michele Placido) come to Albania with a money-making scheme designed to capitalize on the surrounding political chaos. For the con to work, however, they need an easily exploitable native Albanian, and they recruit Spiro (Carmelo Di Mazzarelli). Easily confused and utterly impoverished, this elderly former political prisoner seems the perfect choice, until he unexpectedly disappears. Gino is assigned to find him, setting out on a journey that leads him to discover Spiro's tragic personal history and become intimately acquainted with the full extent of Albanian poverty. ~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 116 mins
I was confused to know whether they were headed to Italy or in the end of the film they talk about "America" without mentioning what country.

The film shows that lawlessness prevailed in many parts of the country. I would definitely be upset to pay a police officer to protect his car and then when he gets back that all the wheels are stolen. Which set the stage for all the comedies of tragedies the film was made of.

I did wonder about the boy that pretended to have a lost leg but in reality he just tucked his leg into his leg and under his butt.

Factory Girl (2006)

The true story of one woman's brief and ultimately tragic flirtation with fame in the 1960s provides the basis for this biographical drama. In 1943, Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) was born to a wealthy and socially prominent family, and she grew up with beauty and money, but also a history of mental illness; she was hospitalized with an eating disorder in her late teens, and by the time she was 21, two of her seven siblings had died before their time. In 1964, Edie moved to New York City, and quickly made a splash on the Manhattan social scene; she became friendly with the famous pop artist Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce), who was fascinated by her gamine loveliness and her quirky personality. Warhol wasted no time in casting her in one of his underground movies, and she quickly became a crucial part of his retinue of "superstars." Fashion icon Diana Vreeland (Illeana Douglas) was convinced Edie had the looks and charm to also become a successful model, and soon she was gracing the pages of Life, Vogue, and Glamour. But Edie's instability was hardly helped by her new fast-lane lifestyle, and when she met Billy Quinn (Hayden Christensen), a folk-rock singer-songwriter often cited as "the voice of a generation," he persuaded her that Warhol and his associates were simply using her fame and beauty for their own gain, and she found herself torn between two powerful mentors, one of whom had become her lover as well. Factory Girl also co-stars Jimmy Fallon, Mena Suvari, and Tara Summers as regulars at the Warhol "Factory." The character of Musician was inspired in part by Bob Dylan, who was romantically involved with Edie Sedgwick for a brief time. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 99 mins

It took me a while to get into the movie. Warhol definitely comes out as cold and uncaring with narcissistic aspects played out in his being so distant from Edie. It looks like Warhol was basically a misogynistic chauvinist since he played with womens lives so easily.

Lots of talk about Santa Barbara even in the special features. Including the theater where Bill Clinton talked at.

Still hate movies with self destructive behavior.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Brazil (1985)

Brazil constitutes Terry Gilliam's enormously ambitious follow-up to his 1981 Time Bandits. It also represents the second installment in a trilogy of Gilliam films on imagination versus reality, that began with Bandits and ended in 1989 with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. To create this wild, visually audacious satire, Gilliam combines dystopian elements from Orwell, Huxley and Kafka (plus a central character who mirrors Walter Mitty) with his own trademark, Monty Python-esque, jet black British humor and his gift for extraordinary visual invention. The results are thoroughly unprecedented in the cinema.

Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry, a civil servant who chooses to blind himself to the decaying, drone-like world around him. It's a world marred by oppressive automatization and towering bureaucracy, and populated by tyrannical guards who strongarm lawbreakers. And Lowry is stuck in the middle of this nightmare. Whenever real life becomes too oppressive, Sam fantasizes (to the tune of Ary Baroso's 1930s hit "Brazil") about sailing through the clouds as a winged superhero, and rescuing beautiful Jill Layton (Kim Greist) from a giant, Samurai warrior. The omnipresent computer that controls everything in the "real" world malfunctions, causing an innocent citizen to be arrested and tortured to death. When Sam routinely investigates the error, he meets - and pursues Jill , literally the girl of his dreams. But in real life, she's a tough-as-nails truck driver who initially wants nothing to do with him. It turns out that she is suspected of underground activities, in connection with a terrorist network wanted for bombing public places. The price Sam pays for his association with her is a close encounter with the man in charge of torturing troublesome citizens (Michael Palin). He is rescued - at the last minute - by maintenance man Harry Tuttle (Robert de Niro) who moonlights as a terrorist, but that only represents the beginning of his plight, for now the "system" is onto him.

Gilliam ran into enormous problems with Brazil. Universal - which produced the picture - originally slated it for release in 1984, but the studio - intimidated by the film's whopping length of 142 minutes - demanded that Gilliam trim the film to bring it in under two hours and alter the pessimistic ending. Gilliam refused; Universal shelved the picture for a year. In response, the director took out a full page ad in Variety asking studio president Sid Sheinberg when the film would be released. Sensing tremendous pressure, Universal bowed to Gilliam's insistence on fewer cuts but still demanded a happy ending. Gilliam trimmed only eleven minutes and altered the conclusion just slightly (instead of cutting to black, it fades into puffy white clouds on a blue sky, with a reprise of the title tune). It was thus released in early 1985 at 131 minutes, and of course became a seminal work; many critics regarded it at the time as the best film of the eighties. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 142 mins

Sorry but I like happy ending movies, otherwise it seems that the struggle for man against the machine or the system in this film as useless gestures. That Sam should have just stayed where he was instead of himself and Jill dieing.

So even though I completely forgot about the movie after a week, I still rate it as a 3.

Osama (2003)

I cannot forget, but I can forgive-Mandela

Writer/director Siddiq Barmak makes his film debut with Osama, the first all-Afghan feature released since the end of the Taliban rule. In the early days of the regime, a young girl (Marina Golbahari) and her widowed mother (Zobeydeh Sahar) participate in a demonstration for women's right to work. When the demonstration is broken up by the Taliban, they hide out with local street kid Espandi (Mohamad Aref Harat). When the Taliban take over a hospital where the mother secretly works, they are arrested and jailed. In order to go to work, the mother dresses the young girl as a boy. Forced to attend school, the girl reunites with Espandi, who refers to her as Osama. She struggles to maintain her disguise in order to survive. Osama won an honorable mention at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 83 mins

The young girl is lucky she has not yet developed a chest and that because of their prejudice they think girls can not climb. But unfortunately she started her period when lowered into the well with a chain tied onto a back strap.

As sometimes with foreign and low budget films, the special effects can be just as valuable as the movie itself and the directors interview was worth watching it for his story and the stories he told.

Italian for Beginners (2001)

The Dogma 95 movement has seen some searing looks into the human condition but rarely a romantic comedy -- until now. Veteran Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig spins this deadpan look at a group of lovelorn outsiders living in a grey corner of Copenhagen. After the perennially foul-tempered minister of a local church is fired after doing great injury to the organist, Andreas moves to the area to take over the parish. Staying in a hotel until his predecessor can be wrested from the rectory, Andreas befriends the establishment's scatter-brained manager, Jørgen, who is utterly in love with a beautiful Italian barmaid working at a nearby pub run by Hal-Finn. When the irascible Hal-Finn is chastised by the bar's owner for his unkempt appearance, he goes to a local salon where he meets Karen, a comely hairdresser harried by her grasping mom. Meanwhile, Andreas falls for a lethally klutzy pastry shop assistant named Olympia. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 97 mins

Deadpan is not an exaggeration! It is an amazingly small corner when everyone runs into each other on a frequent basis including the Church for funerals.

It uses italics to indicate Italian, but even then many of the jokes do not make sense since we only see the translations and I am afraid that it misses many of the cultural aspects.

So I can not give it more than a 1.5

The Tree of the Wooden Clogs (1978)

Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olmi's Tree of the Wooden Clogs covers a period of twelve months, dividing its time between three peasant families, all of whom work on the estate of an all-but-absentee landlord. Special emphasis is given the interrelationships between the various family members and their neighbors. Tree of the Wooden Clogs was honored with the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 177 mins

Way too long of film! But it does end in a fairly sad story. The father finally gets caught for trying to make a shoe for his young son. {Actually this is a perfect example of tragedy of the commons and how it is avoided by strong social rules. These types of forces is basically what Elinor Ostrom discusses in her research. The father tries to cover up the fact that he cut down one of the trees along the stream and somehow one of the men discover that he did it. The father also went to great lengths to get his tomatoes to grow earlier in the season including placing his plants under his bed to keep them warm, and chicken manure around the plants to keep them warm.}

But it did give a nice feeling movie that showed a lot of a lifestyle that we seldom see now days.

I am rating this movie as 2 since it took too long to long to get to a simple plot and story.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Fountain (2006)

Death is the road to awe.
I guess since we all seemed 'awed' here let me pose the following question that should look familiar at least to Gnarlie...
IF Death is the road to awe, then Life is the raod to -------?

Death may be the greatest of all human blessings...Socrates.

But first a small clip for inspiration at:
Death is the Road To Awe.

And a little preview...
The Fountain - Death is the Road to Awe

Not necessarily the correct answer but the 'chosen' one is here.

Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky switches gears from drug-induced urban malaise to abstract science fiction with this time-tripping symbolic tale of a man's thousand-year quest to save the woman he loves. Moving between representational stories and images, this meditation on life and death focuses on the concept of the mythical Tree of Life that is said to bestow immortality to all who drink of its sap. In one of the film's allegorical timelines, a 16th century Spanish conquistador played by Hugh Jackman sets out to find the tree in order to save his queen (Rachel Weisz) from the Inquisition. Another conceptual story finds Jackman centuries later, struggling with mortality as a modern-day scientist desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi. The third and most abstract concept finds Jackman as a different incarnation of the same character-idea, this time questing for eternal life within the confines of a floating sphere transporting the aged Tree of Life through the depths of space. Still more avant-garde than his breakthrough film Pi, The Fountain finds Aronofsky almost completely abandoning conventional story structure in favor of something more cinematically abstract. Though the film was originally slapped with an R by the MPAA, Aronofsky & co. re-edited it to conform to a PG-13 rating. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 96 mins

I found this much more interesting than Pi, probably more to do with this being more of a commercial venture.

But I do prefer endings with a more clear statement of what actually took place especially regarding the present day Tommy the Scientist. But a good overview of the movie is at Wiki: [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_fountain]The Fountain (film)[/url]

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pi (1998)

Darren Aronofskyscripted and made his directorial debut with this experimental feature with mathematical plot threads hinting at science-fictional elements. In NYC's Chinatown, recluse math genius Max (Sean Gullette) believes "everything can be understood in terms of numbers," and he looks for a pattern in the system as he suffers headaches, plays Go with former teacher Sol Robeson (Mark Margolis), and fools around with an advanced computer system he's built in his apartment. Both a Wall Street company and a Hasidic sect take an interest in his work, but he's distracted by blackout attacks, hallucinations, and paranoid delusions. Filmed in 16mm black-and-white, theKafkaesque film features music byClint Mansell(of the UK's Pop Will Eat Itself band). Shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival whereAronofskywon the drama directing award. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie GuideRunning Time:85 mins

I have to question his sanity if he thinks that patterns will emerge from a simple stock price and price change.

For being produced in 1999, I wonder how they could possibly think that using a 5 1/4 inch disks was acceptable technology. I believe even Zip disks had come out by then. When I first saw it, I thought it must have been made in the early 80s.

For photography I can like high contrast grainy pictures for effects but to do it for a moving picture it looses its appeal.

More than likely he will only discover formula fitting for the set of data points he has. Any set of random data points can show patterns but it is the predictive nature that is useful for the stock market.

Anyway interesting, even with the Jewish cultists lurking in the shadows and greedy capitalists just as bad.
Nature is gray scaled, Life can’t be reduced to deterministic numerical pattern and true knowledge is available only at death. Max search can be seen as the saga of the 20th century that is doomed to fail since it uses the wrong tools. Other tools are available, they mustn’t necessarily be non-scientific, other logic systems, set of axioms and interpretive methods are possible. The story of movie Pi unfolds when we reveal the underlying binary oppositions that are woven through it...

I missed this the first time but we can see the interpretations as nihilistic in nature. By assuming that we do not have the "right tools" then you have been just as deterministic as the what you oppose of others.

Even with all its faults, I would still give it a 3 for creativity in the thought process.

Pi - The Text
Pi the Movie

PS (a summary from a friend):
Originally posted by Gnarlodious:
I see Max as an independent seeker

Hmmm... you're right.

In "Pi", the protagonist learns that the religious structure (Orthodox Judaism) is selfish, arrogant and cruel. His destiny is a solitary path of spiritual enlightenment (the sun).

In "The Fountain", the protagonist learns that the religious structure (Catholic Church) is selfish, arrogant and cruel. His destiny is a solitary path of spiritual enlightenment (the golden nebula).

It would seem that the director Darren Aronofsky has a persistent vision of spirituality being unencumbered by the vertical power structures of man.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Wild Child (1970)

Based on a real-life case study, recorded in Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard's 1806 volume Memoire et Rapport sur Victor de L'Aveyron, The Wild Child is spiritually in line with François Truffaut's other films about the pains of adolescence. Truffaut himself plays Dr. Jean Itard, a doctor working at Paris' Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. Itard takes on the challenge of Victor (Jean-Pierre Cargol), a nonverbal "wild boy" found abandoned in the woods. Realizing that the Institute's rather cruel methods may drive Victor further into himself, Dr. Itard brings the boy to his own home, hoping to establish a communication base with kindness and compassion. Once he has taught Victor how to listen and respond, Itard takes it upon himself to imbue the boy with a sense of morality. Adopting an austere cinematic technique (at times reminiscent of silent films), Truffaut unfolds his story with directness and simplicity. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 85 mins

Even if a human was raised in the woods by itself wouldn't it realize that walking upright is faster. I think this would be genetic and not a cultural aspect. For one thing I do sympathize with the boy actor for having to run around on all fours and being pushed around by the crowd.

Sort of an interesting aspect of authoritarianism played out when Dr. asks for Victor to pronounce out loud what he wants before getting it. But Victor only would say the sound out loud after receiving it and thus maybe considered a statement of appreciation/satisfaction.

Victor did have a cognitive dissonance breakdown when asked to match items to words before he was ready-obviously.

When the Doctor inflicted injustice on the boy the Doctor said:
I had elevated the savage man to stature of a moral being by the most noble of his attributes.

But a real test is not injustices imposed on ones self but to empathize with other's injustices.

Although a clear story and interesting I could not give it more than a 3. Any number of special features could have made this a much more valuable movie.

Never on Sunday (1960)

All evil is disharmony
You are in disharmony with yourself
Your have beauty, grace
and you are...
I American Boyscout
I will bring you back to Harmony

In this globally acclaimed comedy drama, eccentric, tough, and carefree Ilya (Melina Mercouri) is one of those characters who makes her mark on film history, and who made an internationally known star out of Mercouri. Ilya is a prostitute in the port of Piraeus with a definite sense of social and economic justice. The aptly named Homer (director Jules Dassin, later to marry his star) arrives in Greece, meets the irrepressible Ilya, and decides she needs more of the traditional Greek culture and less of those flamboyant emotions that are not really Greek, you see. So while he tries to play Henry Higgins, Ilya is willing to give up her usual self for two weeks. The question is, what will happen once the two weeks are over, assuming she can get through them? ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 93 mins

A very amusing little film that even the beginning gives it the sense of playfulness. When Ilya entices all the workers to go for a swim in the bay by taunting them with calling them slaves. And she definitely did not consider herself as a slave and choose Johns based on other factors than money.

And then they all went to the beach.
That was used to describe how the actors came out on stage after the play ended. So all Greek Tragedies ended this way for Ilya.

She did an English version of Medea, but which version I am not sure of.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

Director Kevin MacDonald teams with screenwriter Jeremy Brock to adapt Giles Foden's novel detailing the brutal reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin as seen through the eyes of his personal physician. James McAvoy stars as the doctor who slowly realizes that he is trapped in an inescapable nightmare, and Forest Whitaker assumes the role of the notorious despot. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Even though this is through the fictitious character of the personal physician-which Amin did have white physicians-it does a good job creating the character of Idi Amin and his paranoia. Forest Whitaker plays his role to the best and even if the directors were not more than luke warm with him at first they quickly learned his ability in this role. The bonus material was a pleasure to watch and brought out that Whitaker got so much into his role that he was taking on the traits of Amin even off camera. This was especially important for me to watch this after studying this country for my classes.

So thumbs up.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World (2003)

After Stonewall director John Scagliotti approaches the issue of international gay rights in the documentary Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World. With the 2001 police raid on an Egyptian disco at its center, the film explores several global instances of mistreatment against homosexuals. Through interviews and personal accounts, Scagliotti finds human rights violations and other dire conditions in Honduras, Samoa, India, Namibia, Pakistan, and Vietnam. This film also includes a discussion of pop culture images, the Internet, and the progression of changing attitudes in some countries. Narrated by Janeane Garofalo, Dangerous Living was screened at the 2003 San Francisco Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 60 mins

Janeane Garofalo narrates this short documentary film that even at this length did not contain enough facts for me to want to explore this issue more. She also had no dynamics that she normally has in either her other films and as radio show host.

While I definitely sympathize with the victims of hatred but this film failed to present a complete picture of what is happening across the broad aspects of the nations. I am disappointed that it treats all religions with the same broad brush.
But they did have a point about Uganda and Namibia and the repressions going on there.

And lastly they had to mention that Gay marriage is not allowed in the USA. But the purpose of Marriage is not "love" but for the raising of children for the next generation.

Hope and Glory (1987)

An affectionate reverie about war, childhood, and British stoicism, John Boorman's Hope and Glory is the veteran filmmaker's recollection of the bombing of London during World War II. Set on the British home front during the early days of the war, this episodic movie shows the blitz through the eyes of seven-year-old Billy Rohan (Sebastian Rice Edwards). At the war's outset, Billy finds himself alone in a house full of women, as all the men are called off to join the war effort. With wide-eyed wonder and an outsized imagination, Billy sees the war as a grand diversion, an extension of his world of knights, tin soldiers, and war games. As bombs fall and houses burn, Billy's mother (Sarah Miles) struggles to keep the family together in her husband's absence. Even as Billy seeks to escape the harem of aunts and sisters, Dawn (Sammi Davis), his older sister, falls for a Canadian soldier who gets her pregnant. After the Rohans' home catches fire (not, ironically, as the result of a bomb blast, but from a domestic accident), the family is forced to move in with Billy's cantankerous grandfather in the countryside, where they spend the rest of their summer and enjoy an unusual idyll amid the raging war. Nominated in 1987 for a Best Picture Academy Award, Hope and Glory proved to be another high point in the career of the remarkably protean Boorman. ~ Elbert Ventura, All Movie Guide

Running Time:
113 mins

This is a classic at least for myself. I watched it almost 3 complete times after receiving it from Blockbuster.

I loved the story of a young boy that enjoys life in the face of great tragedies and hardships. But I do question that the two teenage girls seem to not exhibit the usual types that are not as care free as these two and are willing to see the fun even in the face of danger. Most that I have met like to have a stable lifestyle.

But the whole family finds enjoyment in the most simple of circumstances. The teacher of the school does remind us of the teacher in "All Quiet on the Western Front" with the gung ho attitude of going to war.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

2046 (2004)


Hong Kong-based filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai moves back and forth in time as he reexamines and amplifies the themes from his film In the Mood for Love in this offbeat romantic drama. Opening in the year 2046, in which a man named Tak (Takuya Kimura) attempts to persuades wjw 1967 (Faye Wong) to travel back in time with him, the film soon shifts to the year 1966, in which Chow Mo-wan (Tony Leung Chiu-wai), a struggling author, asks the woman he loves, Su Lizhen (Gong Li) to sail with him from Singapore to Hong Kong on Christmas Eve. She declines, and over the next three years, we return to Chow Mo-wan on December 24 as he finds himself with another woman each year -- lighthearted Lulu (Carina Lau) in 1967, eccentric hotel heiress Wang Jingwen (Faye Wong) in 1968, and Bai Ling (Zhang Ziyi), a high-class prostitute, in 1969. In time, Chow Mo-wan and Wang Jingwen become reacquainted, and a love affair blooms, but the fates are not on their side. 2046 had its world premiere at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. A re-edited version featuring an additional 4 minutes of footage, but minus sequences by martial arts coordinator Tung Wai) premiered in late 2004. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time:
128 mins

Another film of a little boy in a man's body (Breathless). This movie reminded me a lot of either version of Alfie.

The story line of 2046 being a place that never changed was a silly play to get a Sci-Fi thread through the story. In the end 2046 was a depressing place that no one found happiness as Chow just goes from woman to woman. The threads do not hold together as to why even the 2 daughters of the landlord was introduced.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

In the future, an oppressive government maintains control of public opinion by outlawing literature and maintaining a group of enforcers known as "firemen" to perform the necessary book burnings. This is the premise of Ray Bradbury's acclaimed science-fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, which became the source material for French director François Truffaut's English-language debut. While some liberties are taken with the description of the world, the narrative remains the same, as fireman Montag (Oskar Werner) begins to question the morality of his vocation. Curious about the world of books, he soon falls in love with a beautiful young member of a pro-literature underground -- and with literature itself. Critics were divided on the effectiveness of the result; some praised the unique design and eerie color cinematography by Nicolas Roeg, while others found the film's stylized approach overly distancing and attacked the central performances as unnatural. In any case, however, the film inarguably succeeds in making Truffaut's reverence for the written word abundantly clear, especially during the film's justifiably famous finale. ~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide

Even if this is taken from classic literature, I found it boring and not really bring me into the lives of the characters. Maybe the fact is looks so cheesy now that I don't see the great drama involved in the script.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Breathless (1960)

The first feature film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and one of the seminal films of the French New Wave, Breathless is story of the love between Michel Poiccard, a small-time hood wanted for killing a cop, and Patricia Franchini, an American who sells the International Herald Tribune along the boulevards of Paris. Their relationship develops as Michel hides out from a dragnet. Breathless uses the famous techniques of the French New Wave: location shooting, improvised dialogue, and a loose narrative form. In addition Godard uses his characteristic jump cuts, deliberate "mismatches" between shots, and references to the history of cinema, art, and music. Much of the film's vigor comes from collisions between popular and high culture: Godard shows us pinups and portraits of women by Picasso and Renoir, and the soundtrack includes both Mozart's clarinet concerto and snippets of French pop radio. When Breathless was first released, audiences and critics responded to the burst of energy it gave the French cinema; it won numerous international awards and became an unexpected box-office sensation. ~ Louis Schwartz, All Movie Guide

The herky-jerky style of shooting (quick successions of clips of the same scene-even with the same general direction of shot) was more than a little bothersome.

Instead of seeing this as a love story, I see it as shallow love with Michel being little more than a Hedonistic little boy. And displayed many characteristics of the "Peter Pan" syndrome.

Luckily Patricia does end up paying for his sins. I kept thinking that her blind devotion to him would get her hurt. And Michel's actions by making himself at home in her apartment would have freaked out about anyone including a single woman in a different country.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Road to Guantanamo (2006)

Winner of the Silver Bear at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival, The Road to Guantanamo, directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, uses interviews, news footage, and reenactments to tell the story of the Tipton Three, young British men of Pakistani descent who were detained for over two years without charges at Guantanamo Bay by the American military. Shafiq (played by Riz Ahmed in the reenactments), Ruhel (Farhad Harun), Asif (Arfan Usman), and Monir (Waqar Siddiqui) traveled to Pakistan to take part in Asif's wedding to a Pakistani girl. Once in Pakistan, they hooked up with Zahid (Shahid Iqbal), Shafiq's cousin, and they all met in Karachi. There, they attended a mosque, where the imam urged worshipers to help those in need in Afghanistan, and where an inexpensive bus trip over the border was organized. Out of a sense of charity, or perhaps a naïve lust for adventure, the young men decided to travel to Afghanistan. The American bombing campaign begins shortly after they arrive. While trying to get back over the border, they find themselves in the Taliban stronghold of Konduz, where they are captured by the Northern Alliance during the Taliban surrender. At this point, Monir is separated from the group, and they never see him again. Shafiq, Ruhel, and Asif are brought to Sheberghan prison, where they are detained under miserable conditions, until the Americans discover that they are British. At that point, their journey to Guantanamo begins. Asif Iqbal, Ruhel Ahmed, and Shafiq Rasul describe their ordeal at the hands of American and British intelligence, who were determined to get them to confess their nonexistent links to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, while the brutal scenes are reenacted onscreen. The Road to Guantanamo was shown at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

I can not recommend this film. It fails as a drama of the captives and even as a documentary it fails to do even an adequate job. Both aspects could not hold my attention. And while true that the main character was let go and we assume he is not guilty we do know that many of the people in Guantanamo are terrorists.

It also lacked much of a story line that could get me into knowing what the facts were. But worst of all was the lack of a single actor with any acting ability.

Love Actually (2003)

It starts off with a nice monologue by the narrator. Talking about "love actually is all around".
All of London is in love -- or longing to be -- in Four Weddings and a Funeral writer Richard Curtis' first directorial effort. Billed as "the ultimate romantic comedy," Love Actually involves more than a dozen main characters, each weaving his or her way into another's heart over the course of one particularly eventful Christmas. The seemingly perfect wedding of Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) brings many of the principals together, including heartsick best man Mark (Andrew Lincoln), who harbors a very unrequited crush on Juliet. There's also recent widower Daniel (Liam Neeson), trying to help his lonely stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) express his true feelings to a classmate. Across town, devoted working mother Karen (Emma Thompson) tries to rekindle the passion of her husband, Harry (Alan Rickman), who secretly pines for a young colleague of his. In the same office, the lonely Sarah (Laura Linney) not-so-secretly pines for a man just a few desks away (Rodrigo Santoro), who returns her affections but may not be able to dissuade her neuroses. Providing the unofficial soundtrack for all of the couples is an aging rocker (Bill Nighy) who just wants to cash in and get laid -- but even he might find a meaningful relationship in the most unlikely of places. A working print of Love Actually premiered at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

A very good but long movie at 135 minutes and the director states it was around 3 hours after filming and was edited down to 135 minutes. It truly deserved its R rating, almost to the point of being described as a hard R.
The music stuck in my mind for at least a couple days after watching the movie.
The young colleague never finds love which was a let down, but most find love of some way or another.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Rice People (1994) Rithy Pan

The special features has a nice interview with Rithy Pan.
A poor, rural Cambodian family slowly disintegrates during the cycle of a single rice crop in this moving, and beautifully photographed European drama adapted from a novel by Shahnon Ahmad. Pouev, his wife Om, and his seven children, live in a small rural village in Cambodia. Their whole precarious life depends upon the success of their rice crop. Both husband and wife are worried, but for different reasons. Pouev is concerned because their acreage is shrinking. Om worries about Pouev; what would happen to her and the children if he died or was injured? Her worst fear is manifest after Pouev steps upon a poisoned thorn and dies. Om finds herself heavily burdened with the responsibilities of maintaining the crop and caring for seven youngsters. She suffers paranoia from worrying about whether the children are doing their share and the other villagers lock her up leaving eldest daughter Sokha to bring in the crop. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

Yes the father worries about his 14 lots being divided between his 7 daughters and grandchildren and maybe handfuls of rice for his great-grandchildren...

They find a cobra and the elder tells everyone to go and search for the female to kill or no planting can happen. They get a crab infestation-seemed like a perfect time for a feast. They caught 1000s.

The sexism of their culture clearly comes out when the mother has drinks with some of the local young men. They want her to give away her oldest daughter/the strongest worker of the daughters. And the constant antagonism from locals helped push her unstable personality over the edge. Even when the she saw the snake earlier she fainted and was out for a long time and then needed a day of rest to get over it. From the break down they lock her in a bamboo cage.

Bird of separation: Owl. When the house was visited by an owl the father died.

This is an amazing film for the depth of showing how the rice fields are maintained and how they are so labor intensive. But I still have to say that I rated this as 2.5 since a lack of how this changed and was affected by the Khmer Rouge as was implicated in the interview with director.