Sunday, August 31, 2008

Samurai Rebellion (1967)

"But you can't reason with a crying child nor with your lord, as they say.
Actually quite funny to compare a child and lord in the same sentence and I am sure many times they are nearly identical.
A father and son prepare to die for their beliefs in this historical drama set in 18th century Japan. While Isaburo Sasahara (Toshiro Mifune) has been loyal to Japan's feudal system all his life, his beliefs begin to change when the local rulers demand that his son Yogoro (Go Kato) give up his bride, who has bore a child that will come to power upon the death of the current ruler. Yogoro dearly loves his wife, and Isaburo respects his daughter-in-law and does not want to be separated from his grandson. When Yogoro refuses to part with his wife and child, he and Isaburo are ordered to kill themselves. They refuse and instead challenge the forces of the feudal leaders to a fight to the death. Director Masaki Kobayashi's work on this film earned him the FIPRESCI Award at the 1967 Venice Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 121 mins
Samurai Rebellion (1967)
One of my liberal friends recommended this one, but by the time it arrived, I forgot what he thought was so interesting and revealing about human nature in it. In a way it was similar to Bandini that I watched recently in that the Heroine goes berserk at the lover of the person they love and in Bandini kill the competition and in this film get into a cat fight.

Ultimately in the end the best Samurai was defeated by guns although he did take out quite a few in the reeds. A basic love story about a families love but then again strife in the family between the matriarchal and patriarchal figures with their marriage being without love. All the more reason for him to defend the honor of his son and willingly die for the love of his son and his daughter in law. The reason for the escalation of tensions was that at first the family did not want the reject from the royal family to be forced on their son that was planning n marrying someone else. Then when the royal family went through heir questions then they wanted the young woman sent back after she gave birth to a girl.

There was the usual sword-fighting as most Samurai movies have but this was near the end with the no special effects.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

4 (2004)

The lies shared by three Russian strangers take on a life of their own in director Ilya Khrzhanovsky's dreamlike journey into the strange heart of modern-day Russia. After entering a local watering hole and relaying a series of elaborate but entirely fabricated tales, a prostitute posing as an advertising executive, a piano tuner claiming to be a genetic engineer, and a butcher posing as a Kremlin insider all go their separate ways. In the hours following their strange conversation, all three will experience a surreal and richly symbolic voyage into a land where the specter of even the most elaborate of lies can somehow fade into reality for one tantalizing instant. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 125 mins
4 (2004)
I found no "tantalizing instant". I was only left with the vague idea that maybe there is genetic engineering happening in Russia. But just a bunch of weird people acting strange is about all this movie was. Nothing really became suspenseful for myself.

Lots of drinking Vodka and general partying. Not sure what the dogs were suppose to signify as they appear in nearly all scenes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Koyla (1997)

In this thriller from India, Shankar (Shah Rukh Khan) is a mute servant of Rajasaab (Amrish Puri). Shankar is a loyal follower, however, he falls in love with his master's wife, Gauri (Madhuri Dixit). When Shankar and Gauri run off, Shankar is thrown from a cliff and left for dead, and Gauri is sold to a bordello. Shankar is found by a native and is slowly nursed back to health. Having also regained his ability to speak, Shankar returns to Rajasaab to rescue Gauri and get revenge. Koyla is based on the 1990 Tony Scott film Revenge, which itself is an adaptation of a novella by Jim Harrison.
~ Jonathan E. Laxamana, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 167 mins
Koyla (1997)
Shah Rukh Khan who also played Ram Jaane! did a good job in this film and while most of the film he is mute, his friend and coworker plays a joke on others as he projects his voice as Shakar "talks" and then also sings and dances in some other scenes.

To get enough tragedy and to extend the film to the 2 hours and 50 minutes it has a subplot with the brother of Gauri that is away working and comes back to find that his parents had basically sold her off through trickery of pretending that she would marry Shakar. On the wedding the master's face had a veil over it so she did not know it was the wrong man until she saw Shakar serving the guests and it was too late as the Master dragged her around the "marriage fire".

Also there was some good {albeit campy} Rambo scenes as Shakar kills some of the people out to capture him and his bride. Which includes a scene where he kills the man shooting from a helicopter.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Suno Sasurjee (2003)

"The parrot had bitten on the chili."
The phrase above is quoted on several occasions but not even sure even what that phrase means.

Kader Khan stars in the rollicking Bollywood farce Suno Sasurjee as the most unscrupulous of characters, a shifty and shady young banker who employs a number of outrageous schemes to wheedle money out of the elderly. He hits a bit of a snag, however, when one victim's grandson (Aftab) learns of his latest ploy - the successful theft of his grandfather's inheritance - and grows understandably irate. Complicating matters further is the fact that the grandson soon meets the banker's lovely daughter (Amisha) and develops a heavy and intense crush on her. He soon finds himself faced with two seemingly insurmountable challenges: how to retrieve the money and win the heart of the young woman. ~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide
Suno Sasurjee (2003)
Yes a comical farce where the side kick of the young banker is a near comic book character. But plenty of laughs and an enjoyable romantic comedy where again the man falls in love at first site but takes a little longer for the woman in question to see his charms...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Secuestro (1995)

In this taut action thriller from Mexico, a group of radical extremists have decided to take their actions against the state to the next level. In a bid to raise both money and public attention for their cause, the four revolutionaries kidnap twentysomething Marcia, whose father is a wealthy and powerful business magnate. As the radicals hold Marcia for ransom, the young woman is thrown from her sheltered life into a world of danger, but as she struggles to find a way to free herself, she finds herself becoming infatuated with one of her abductors. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 90 mins
Secuestro (1995)
No English subtitles??? Well that seems like a waste of my time...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Sorrow and the Pity (1971)|Part 1:The Collapse|Part 2:The Choice

Part 1:The Collapse
Soon afterwards, a new slogan became popular, "Collaboration is: Give me your watch, I'll give you the time."

Quite an interesting documentary film. There was so much material although not much stuck out from what I already had an idea about. But it showed not a very good picture of the French authorities as well as the French Citizens. They do have some criticism of the British Fleet sinking the French Fleet but considering that everything left behind in France became the property of the Nazis, then I can see the reasoning.

Made for French television, Marcel Ophüls' four-hour-plus documentary explores the average French citizen's memories of the Nazi occupation. Just how large and effective was the fabled resistance movement? Is cooperation the same thing as collaboration? And how did one's up-close-and-personal experiences with the occupation troops impact one's postwar life? These questions are probingly posed (but not all are answered) by Ophüls, who also acts as offscreen interviewer. The first half of the film is a mosaic of sights and sounds from the years 1940-1944: Maurice Chevalier singing for the German troops, clips of propagandistic newsreels, appalling vignettes from the scurrilous anti-Semitic film drama Jew Suss (1940), and the like. Ophüls' interpretation of history as the "process of recollection, in things like choice, selective memory, rationalization" is fully illustrated in the film's long second half, which is devoted almost entirely to interviews, in which the subjects display emotions ranging from mild embarrassment to abrupt rage. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 251 mins
The Sorrow and the Pity (1971)

"I hate the lies that have harmed us so much." Veteran of the French division of the Waffen SS

Mers-el-Kebir|[url=]Attack on Mers-el-Kébir[/url]

"Le Juif Suss" or "Jew Suss"
If ever a Jew commits a sin of the flesh with a Christian woman, he shall be hung without further ado, as punishment, and as an example for all others.

"Mr. Heydrich is president of the International Criminal Police, a commission to which France has always belonged."

Part 2:The Choice
Rafle du Vel' d'Hiv

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (2002)

Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary is a feature-length interview with 81-year-old Austrian Traudl Junge, who served as Hitler's personal secretary from 1942 to 1945, when she was in her early twenties. She saw Hitler in his everyday life, right up until his final days, and she witnessed, firsthand, the collapse of the Nazi regime. After the war, Junge was "de-Nazified" by Allied forces as part of a program of amnesty for young people. She remained silent about her experiences for nearly 60 years, until she agreed to be interviewed by artist Andre Heller, whose own Jewish father escaped Austria as the Nazis came to power. Heller and documentarian Othmar Schmiderer edited ten hours of interview footage into the 90-minute film, which uses no archival footage, photos, or background music. It's just Junge describing her experiences on camera and occasionally watching the video playback of herself as she describes those experiences. Junge denies any real knowledge or understanding of what the Nazis were doing while she worked for them. She discusses how she was taken in by Hitler, who seemed fatherly and kind. She describes his personality. She goes into harrowing detail about the last days in the bunker. At times, she seems overwhelmed by her sense of shame at her own ignorance and naïveté. Presumably unburdened after decades of guilt, Junge passed away just hours after Blind Spot was shown at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Panorama Audience Prize. The film was also shown at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival, and the 2002 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 87 mins
Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary (2002)
For me a griping tale since although it is just a person answering questions, we can see the anguish and despair at being part of Hitler's war machine. I know many can not and will not accept her version of events, but I think after this long of time, she would want to tell the truth. I think she did her best to reconcile in herself what events did happen and how she got caught up into the machine of Fascism/Socialism. The film reminds me a lot of S21-Khmer Rouge, although it passes on the places and staged events like S21. But the fact of being there and experiencing a part of what she went through in the last days of the Nazi Party.

She goes into detail about her family life and how without spelling out made her acceptable to being manipulated by others-especially Hitler himself. This could definitely make a good film in how she escaped from the bunker and events leading up to that as well as her being captured by the US and her ordeal there.

Other than wanting more of her talk not being edited out, I can not think of anything I would have wanted differently. Although the parts of her watching herself seems strange, in the third person.

Junoon (1979)

During one of the many violent uprisings against the English colonial overlords in India, a church filled with people is massacred. The only people to survive are three generations of women in one family, hidden by a friendly Indian. They are then kidnapped by a Muslim (Sashi Kapoor), who wants to keep the youngest woman as his second wife, despite the objections of his first wife who despises the women for their Englishness. Also, the girl he is enamored of finds him frightening. He goes off to join the fighting and eventually comes back to a much-changed situation. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide
Junoon (1979)
A different perspective comes through with mostly a Islamic flavour of the film instead of mostly Hindu or mixed. Supposedly based on a true story but I am sure with much storytelling involved. It reminded me a lot of the films from Afghanistan with such displays of violence than most Indian Films that have more of a feel of Victim-hood with of course my favourite being Mother India.

Blue State (2007)

A disillusioned leftist pulls up stakes for the Great White North in this independent comedy-drama. It's 2004, and John Logue (Breckin Meyer) is a political activist working for the Democratic presidential campaign in Ohio. After a few drinks too many, John is interviewed on camera by a local broadcast journalist, and he announces that if George W. Bush is re-elected, he'll leave the country and move to Canada. A few days later, Bush narrowly defeats John Kerry, and John falls into a deep depression. After returning home to San Francisco, John ponders his alcohol-fueled pledge, and learns that a handful of leftists north of the border have formed a group called "Marry A Canadian," which provides contact with sympathetic singles willing to wed American expatriates hoping to escape the Bush regime and gain Canadian citizenship. John decides to give "Marry A Canadian" a try, and places a classified to find someone willing to split gas and keep him company as he heads for Vancouver. An attractive young woman named Chloe (Anna Paquin) contacts John and agrees to travel with him, but once they're on the road, he learns that politics are not Chloe's primary reason for leaving the States. Blue State received its world premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 92 mins
Blue State (2007)
In the end both Chloe and John learn about themselves along the way including finding another draft dodger that is holed up in a small cabin. Chloe even has to face the consequences of her decisions.

Chloe's politics never really come out but I kept expecting her to confess that she was conservative eventually. So even though it was a Leftist Dogma film there was some redeeming qualities. I say that since John's father was a raving wacko Republican. Obviously a cartoon character with one note.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Secuestro Express (2004)

The current wave of kidnappings in Latin America inspired this tense suspense drama. Martin (Jean Paul Leroux) and Carla (Mía Maestro) are a wealthy young couple who, after a night of club hopping, head back to their car to go home. However, three kidnappers -- Bubu (Pedro Perez), Niga (Carlos Madera), and Trece (Carlos Julio Molina) -- are waiting for them; seeing how free they are with their money, the men figure that Martin and Carla should fetch a decent ransom for their release. The kidnappers demand 20,000 dollars to set Martin and Carla free, and Carla's father (Rubén Blades) struggles to raise the cash, with the criminals insisting upon payment in a mere two hours. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 87 mins
Secuestro Express (2004)
The film ends with the following dialogue:
Half the world is dying of starvation, while the other half is dying of obesity.
There are two options.
Fight the monster, or invite him to dinner,
But the thing is; is that the punks and hoodlums had money and they even said it at one time. Poverty is just an excuse for this lifestyle or drugs and crime. This does not mean that we should not address poverty or the huge disparity of income but when a film like this tries to even hint at that there is an excuse for this is completely ridiculous. The film closes with the above quote as one of the main actors drives away in a non-discrete compact car instead of the SUV in the beginning....

I too would have given up on being pushed around by the punks. Although it did not work out for Martin, I would have done the same thing. I wonder, if he was friends with one of the distribution drug dealers he would not have known the others or the cab driver and would have been smarter than to get into the broken down cab after fleeing from the gang. I almost thought that one of the parents would have taken a hit out on the gang instead of paying ransom. And it really did no good for the money that the father of Carla gave without any guarantee than some gangsters word.

Mía Maestro did an excellent job on this part and played a whole range of emotions and even a little sexy at times. I look forward to seeing more of her.

Special features consisted of a couple of deleted short scenes and a short documentary of making of the film with the actors talking in English and also a longer Spanish version with English subtitles. It also includes a music video.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Marigold (2007)

A demanding American actress (Ali Larter) heads to India in order to shoot a low-budget Hollywood film, only to find herself stranded in Bombay with no luggage and attitude to spare. Despite the unfortunate start to her Bombay adventure, the once-jaded actress is soon swept up in the glitz and glamour of the local filmmaking scene and cast in a lavish Bollywood musical. Once on the set, she meets a handsome prince and falls hopelessly in love. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 107 mins
Marigold (2007)
An overlap of Indian and American cultures is shown through on this romantic comedy. The one special feature was the making of the film where the US director tells about how he visited India and had watched Chori Chori (2003) and from that decided to make a "Bollywood" film. He then watched 150 Bollywood films. I see more and more collaborations between Indian and American film industry including a lot of Bollywood actors making films strictly for the US market {they appear to be} like this one.

Ecstasy (1933)

Ekstase is the opening credit of this film and reminded me of Bo Derek in her film "Bolero".
Czechoslovakian director Gutav Machaty's experimental romantic idyll, replete with soggy symbolism, was a cause celebre upon its release in 1932 due to a lyrical -- and nude-- midnight swim by a young Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr plays Eva, a child bride whose husband shows a singular lack of interest in physical intimacy on their wedding night. Frustrated and searching for a quick roll in the hay to alleviate her sexual tension, Eva offers herself to a roadway engineer. Taking off her clothes, she engages in a leisurely swim. But when a horse bolts with her duds, she gives chase, running smack into the engineer, who calmly hands her clothes to her. The two plan to run away together, but when her husband commits suicide in despair, she decides not to leave. Some time afterward, Eva is seen with a happy and contented look upon her face, the result of her secret liaison being the little baby in her arms. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 89 mins
Ecstasy (1933)
Although it was excruciatingly long in some scenes with repeats over and over of the same small clip, it was short enough to be enjoyable. Basically it gives the whole movie away including the ending in this commentary. The dialogue was not even more than a silent movie, which makes me wonder if the script was written for a silent movie. Not sure why the lovers could not have ended up together since the husband had already committed suicide.

I do disagree with the film critic {Paul} in that Eva was looking for a roll in the hay, but honestly fell in love when even her husband had admitted that the marriage was a mistake and that they had nothing in common. Which makes me wonder if he committed suicide for other reasons than being jilted by a lover. Pride and conceit seems more likely.

Hedy Lamarr was very much on the thin side but it was funny to see all the nude scenes of her running around {at a distance}. But I would not call the lake scene midnight, since the surveyor and his crew were still working.

Overall an excellent film, although I am sure some of the scenic as well as montage scenes would have been a lot nicer if done in color. The film quality was fair but had quite a few scratches and specks.


It starts out with a Om symbol and a prayer starting with Ohm.Taal
Like a lot of Indian films it is about love at first site. The hero also makes it clear that everyone will help in his quest for his love once they fall apart because of family differences that arise because of an unplanned visit by the less rich family. At first the visiting family has to wait on a bench next to a cage with a few dogs. I almost wondered if it was a phobia about dogs (Islamic considerations) more than disrespect of being in the heat.

The unscrupulous producer said the following monologue as he opens a big book installed on the wall in his office (he had one monologue towards the end that we missed part of it because of the disk but it was over 4 minutes long!):
Principles of the 20th century.
Sacrifice is supreme.
"Do good and forget about it. Do your duty, don't expect rewards."
After completing B.A., I worked on these ideals for 5 years.
What was the outcome? I starved, had no food to eat.
I use to play this rattle.
And Banerjee would take photographs.
Then our life took a new turn.
We met a man called Jaidev uncle.
He gave us these 7 tenets of the 21st century.7 Commandments!
He said Kapu, change these old tenets.
Change into a modern man.
1. The first rule is love remains healthy with give and take.
"Give and take, give and take."{Shaking rattle}
2. First do good to yourself.
"Me first, me first." {Shaking rattle}
3. All efforts are useless unless backed with expectation of reward.
"What is the profit" What is desire? What's the result?" {Shaking rattle}
4. Shop dressing is more important than honesty.
"Business." {Shaking rattle}
5. Envy is essential to win in any competition.
"Jealousy." {Shaking rattle}
6. Greed is necessary to become rich.
{Lick lips, yummy sounds}
7. Cut others down to size in order to be one up.
"Cut it. Cut into size." {Shaking rattle in slow movements side to side}
He makes this speech in front of the lower caste family and naturally he gets some strange looks but continue to do business with him.

The dancing was great and most of the outfits were excellent except one of the mens was really a stupid idea of having black squares on white background with just a repeating pattern. I am not sure if it violated the no kiss policy but the man's lips kiss the woman's closer to the camera side so we do not see her lips as they touch but this must be the closest to a full lip kiss we have seen. I almost think that since there is censorship of kissing on film then films become even more obsessed with this simple act than any other thing. Including this film has a nearly subplot of sharing a Coke Bottle {yes Coke was thanked in the opening credits} so that they would be sharing germs. You know boy and girl germs mixing up.

Taal (film)
Most of the film was of good quality and only a couple of short cuts the color was off and not visually clear.


Ram Jaane (Devanagari: राम जाने, Nastaliq: رام جانے, translation: "Ram Knows" or "God Knows") is a 1995 Indian Bollywood movie directed by Rajiv Mehra about an unnamed kid (portrayed by Shahrukh Khan) who grows up to become a gangster. He uses the name Ram Jaane after meeting with a priest who in response to the kid asking about his name said "Ram Jaane" (God knows).

Ram Jaane is arrested by a security guard after stealing cargo from a train with his best friend. He is shortly released and becomes one of the biggest hustlers in the city. After a deadly shootout, he is arrested by a corrupt police department and sent to jail again. After a few years of serving jail time, he goes back to the streets and to his friend's place. There he decides to help him raise the local kids in the area so they won't be corrupted by the streets. He quickly falls in love with a childhood girlfriend Bela (Juhi Chawla), but also goes back to his old ways.
Ram Jaane
It was not spelled out in the film about what his name meant but my wife quickly told me the meaning of Ram Jaane. The film almost glorifies the name with nearly constant repetition. I might even be able to say it to others and have them understand my accent. Ram Jaane does after pleading from his friend to influence his impressionable followers to reject his lifestyle. I tend to not watch films for the kung fu aspects but this film had plenty of really bad action scenes with obvious fake punches. I would recommend this film to all my friends.