Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Haven (2004)

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Valet (2006)

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Triumph of the Will (1934)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Offside (2006)

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

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

Running Time: 92 mins
Offside (2006)

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

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

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

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