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The only way is UP baby.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 18 October 2009 06:03 (A review of Up)

''I don't want your help, I want you safe.''

By tying thousands of balloon to his home, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America. Right after lifting off, however, he learns he isn't alone on his journey, since Russell, a wilderness explorer 70 years his junior, has inadvertently become a stowaway on the trip.

Edward Asner: Carl Fredricksen

Certainly it is rather obvious that Pixar has become the most dependable studio out there for producing reliable films that don't simply continue to raise the standards in animation but also at the same time set a level of excellence in story, plot and raising spirits. Up represents another change in style, as significant as Wall-E's shift to photorealism, intricate camera effects and darker themes. Up effectively blends moments of tragedy with almost at times, jolly humour, while showing that their understanding of story structure and pacing becomes more enlightened upon every new project.

Up is about a 70-something ex-balloon salesman who fulfills a lifelong dream of adventure by tying thousands of balloons to his house and flying away to South America. This trip, inspired by his adventure- loving wife who dies before their dream is realized, is forced when property developers attempt a compulsory purchase on his house and try to move him to a retirement home (Up in a way has similarities with Gran Torino, addressing age and retirement homes). The problem arises in the form of a rather talkative 8 year old Wildness Explorer stowed away on the property when it begins it's ascent. Their adventure focuses on the characters they meet along the way, while our hero Carl is still trying to drag his house to the dream destination upon the top of a waterfall paradise.

The opening shows the life of Carl, growing from an young boy, meeting his adventuring-loving girlfriend, their marriage and her death just before their adventure starts - it's an incredibly emotional 5-minute intro that is light on dialogue yet heavy on visuals, and caused a great stir in emotion for me. This sequence in particular was certainly reminiscent of voice free parts of Wall-E which deliver their plot punches without exposition or the need for endless sequences that would take twice as long in live action. But this approach doesn't leave the younger audience behind either, and for such a dark start, all I could see in the audience were kids and adults alike glued to the screen.
I won't give away any more plot details since the film doesn't open for another three weeks, but every scene and character trait is meticulously plotted so that nothing seems too ridiculous or contrived, even for such a fantastic journey. The graphic stylization is also fresh, in the same way that The Incredibles had a very distinct and authentic look. All of this serves to elevate the humour and there are some particularly funny scenes, helped by the way the characters are quickly and believably established.

This is the second time I've been to Pixar to see a pre-release of a movie and I felt a little scared before seeing this one, wondering if their run of first-class work may have grinded to a halt. On the surface, I didn't really think a story about an elderly chap in a flying house could live up to my favourite film classic Wall-E, yet although the films are as different as they can be, Up is as gripping and entertaining as any Pixar film before it.
Overall, Up and the little short film included with it, about clouds, are certainly brush strokes of genius. A must see not just for children but for adults too, Up is an exceptional story of life, friendship and the unimportance of materialism. Whether it be a house or a helmet, you can't take them with you, when your time is up.

''Thanks for the adventure. Now go have one of your own.''


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A surreal vision of imagination.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 17 October 2009 01:08 (A review of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)

''Can you put a price on your dreams?''

A traveling theater company gives its audience much more than they were expecting.

Heath Ledger: Tony

It's a shame many people will go and see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus for all the wrong reasons, mainly involving seeing Heath Ledger or the tantilising prospect of seeing Johnny Depp or Jude Law. Many people will expect it to be a performance rivaling his other works. Well I say this now, these silly people will be disappointed. My ears prick up upon leaving the cinema tonight, hearing the audience comment on the film made me scoff with disgust...comments of how it was a weird film, a confusing story, and a mixture of madness. Are these individuals oblivious to the fact that this is a Terry Gilliam film, the man whom brought us surreal, warped treats like Time Bandits, the masterful 12 Monkeys, the colourful Brothers Grimm, dystopia cult classic Brazil, Fear and loathing in Las Vegas...To conclude my rant, if these so called people are unaware of this, why in heavens name are they wasting their tiny minds on Dr Parnassus? The answer is ignorance and the former attraction of the late Heath Ledger.



So onto the film itself, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is Terry Gilliam addressing immortality, moralistic natures, and the black and whiteness of good and evil. Much like any of his other work we are treated to bold colours, fantasy worlds, Monty Python styled sequences which always provide quirky smiles of pleasure to those inclined, and to contrast all of this he gives us the contrast of reality, the gritty, rubbish infested, drunken rabbles of yobs and the harsh temperament of the outside world. It's interesting to be hurled into this strange life, this life of Parnassus and his unfortunate encounters with the devil whom always cheats, always makes bets, and always loses or wins for a reason.

''Are you a betting man?''

Performance wise, Heath Ledger as Tony is a mysterious outsider, he is found disturbingly hanging from under a bridge in what appears to be a noose. This for me was slightly ironic considering in real life he isn't alive anymore. His accent is still a mixture of mumbles and uncanny gruff charisma, and in some scenes he even looks like Johnny Depp, mainly the eyes.
His transformations in the dream world, Johnny Depp, one glorious scene where Depp melts the screen with his defined charisma, Jude Law on a very tall ladder running from some Russian heavies, and a hilarious Colin Farrel trying to muster an accent similar to Ledger, but still sounding Irish. His fighting with a little man turned child, had me in hysterics, not to mention his conversation and expressions in the boat part.
Christopher Plummer as the clever yet tragically fated Dr. Parnassus, excels as the main character of the adventure, somehow mirroring Terry Gilliam himself, showing his own unfortunate ups and downs of his own life, not just of his creation.
Lily Cole was simply beautiful as the loveliest damsel, Valentina. Something very unique about her dazzling features, and scrumptious figure.
Tom Waits as Mr. Nick AKA the Devil, really excels as the main villain of the piece. Tom Waits is a wonderful actor, and I haven't seen him in such a memorable role since the disgustingly squirm inducing R.M. Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula. He truly is a mesmerizing character here, the always smoking benevolent, woman loving demon of the piece, a wagering clever nemesis for the Doctor.
Verne Troyer as Percy, was also a lovable rogue. A truthful little bit of fun whom not afraid to speak his mind, excels in being a big character despite the height restrictions.

Overall, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a clever story on redemption and sacrifice, the flip side of physical immortality and the importance of always following your imagination. It teaches us to always ask questions...to question why strange characters lurk outside HomeBase, why they tempt us with money, why drunks are always on the street, and why violence should only be acceptable if you are the police and it's legal. Terry Gilliam really hits home with his subliminal messages and doesn't give a fuck as usual what audiences want, he does what he wants. Parnassus has style, it has depth, and it truly is a piece of dreamy, imaginative art.

''Nothing is permanent, not even death.''


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Fame isn't everything.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 17 October 2009 12:01 (A review of Fame)

''You have talent. Now let's see what we can do with it.''

An updated version of the 1980 musical, which centered on the students of the New York Academy of Performing Arts.

Kay Panabaker: Jenny Garrison

Lets get this straight, did this remake want to be a remake? Fame is trying to attain a modern vantage point on students aspiring to acting or music. The characters are different but some of their stories were mirrored, the fantastic musical score of the original film was largely ignored, and the film seemed to go out of its way to hide the fact that Performing Arts is a New York City institution. None of the students have New York accents, the girl who played Jenny was so miscast as the Doris Vinsecker mimic she should have sprouted pigtails and been telephoned to central America where she obviously originated, and the street scenes pinpointing New York as the locale for this movie were minimal.

Character layering? There was minimal effort. Did you care when the girl who gets the gig with the modern dance company dumps her brokenhearted fellow PA student boyfriend? Why should you? They only appear together in 2 scenes prior to their breakup: when he is admiring her from afar as she dances a solo and when she invites him to a dinner with her parents to annoy them. When the dark girl (loosely modeled after the Coco character in the original) breaks into "Out Here on My Own," you want to laugh because she's a polar opposite: the product of a domineering father and passive mother who forbid her to do anything but continue on the classical pianist career path they launched her on. She's not out there on her own, she's being double-teamed by her stuffy parents and left to suffocate in an oppressive home environment. Ditto for other characters as well. We are left to wonder about many characters' emotional states because we haven't been made privy to what led up to them.

Embracing the original score (with added genres to be true to present day) might have saved this flick. Including "Out Here On My Own," erroneously crooned in the middle of the movie, and the feeble salute to its namesake at the end when Fame plays over the credits, didn't do it for me. in fact it seemed to drone on prolonging the agony. The new music introduced in this film isn't remarkable or memorable, although obviously great dancing and singing doesn't always equal a great film.

Kelsey Grammar, Debbie Allen, Bebe Neuwirth, and Megan Mullally give Fame a much needed boost in many scenes, but frequently diluted by the newbies. And maybe they didn't, because their portrayals of the four key administrators at this school were half-hearted and lifeless. For a school overflowing with creativity, the faculty had limited personas.
And speaking of creativity, the original film was dead on depicting the students as lovable narcissistic ego maniacs passionate about the craft they hoped to perfect. There was none of that here. The film passes through these students' four years at PA without even a hint that they've mastered their craft or grown in any way.
In short, the writing was bad, the acting mediocre, the direction was missing it's rightful flow, the editing was in sleep mode, and the score was a snore. Go watch and view the original. It might be a little dated but it's one fantastic thrill ride.


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A dream come true.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 16 October 2009 12:43 (A review of Coraline)

Coraline: Back home, cats don't talk. So how are you able to...
Cat: I just can.

An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.

Dakota Fanning: Coraline Jones

Coraline is a surreal merging of new and old techniques. Utilizing beautiful stop motion animation and presented in luscious 3D, the film offers a time-honoured message in a state of the art package. 3D has advanced to the point where it actually serves the story as opposed to being an end unto itself. In the opening credit sequence, we see long, spindly iron fingers above the screen as they construct a button-eyed doll. There is menace in these metallic hands and the three dimensional effect adds to the sense of dread. The hands seem close and capable of reaching out to ensnare our vulnerable selfs. When the characters on screen stand outside a doorway, the viewers are tempted to lean forward in order to peak into the room on display. The 3D is effective and enriching, Coraline pleasingly is the first film I have watched in 3D, making it even more of a pleasure to behold.

Coraline (Dakota Fanning), the pre-teen heroine of the film, is moving into an apartment complex in the filled with eccentric neighbors. Her parents both write and leave Coraline feeling alone and neglected. She hates her dad's cooking and misses her old friends. And then she finds a mysterious door in the wall and while playing one evening chases a little mouse through the door and into a mirror universe that looks similar to her own, but seems better. The food is better, the world never boring, and her button-eyed Other Mother and Father give her everything she wants.

''You know, you could stay forever, if you want to. There's one tiny thing we have to do first...''

The film, based on an excellent novel for children by Neil Gaiman, has a strong message at its heart. Coraline posits that hedonism is both empty and dangerous. Also, in order to fully indulge you must become blind to the suffering your pursuits will result in. It's slightly surprising that in a package as aesthetic and mesmerizing as Coraline that we are essentially being presented with a traditional moral warning of wishing for more than we have. The film is not pummeling us into submission with learning this however, and possibly younger viewers will not quickly pick up on the deeper aspects on offer. In the context of the film, the message is completely viable.

The animation on display is excellent and smooth, but as the movie showcases its character design and animation set pieces the story sometimes loses some momentum and it's pace halted. Once Coraline discovers her quest, however, the movie becomes engrossing, tense and something of a horror/thriller. In fact, the film's extended climax will likely be too intense for the very young or squeamish. The voice work is delightful with Terri Hatcher surprising in two vibrant roles as Coraline's mother and the film's spidery villain. She is obviously enjoying the layers of her characters and it enriches the experience as a whole. The artistry on display is delightful and the film offers a unique animated experience. Go see this one soon, Coraline is up there with favourites, Monster House, Nightmare before Christmas, Corpse Bride...Coraline is unique enough to be an entirely new story, a thrilling twisting ride, and yet another fulfilling success to its genre and medium.

''You probably think this world is a dream come true... but you're wrong.''


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A twinkie in my eye.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 15 October 2009 01:10 (A review of Zombieland)

''Rule #2: Double Tap!''

In the horror comedy Zombieland focuses on two men who have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies...

Jesse Eisenberg: Columbus

Zombieland - The world is once again ravaged by a deadly virus that turns the world's population into hordes of fast running undead cannibals. The main character is Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a squeamish nerd who has survived so long because of strict adherence to a rulebook that neatly skips over most of the mistakes horror film characters fall prey to. He soon meets Tallahassee (played with masculinity, toughness and a crazy sense of humour, by legend Woody Harrelson), a man with a savage talent for killing armies of zombies. They meet two untrustworthy young women (Emma Stone and Abigail Bresnin) and the four slug it out joyfully in an apocalypse of enormous proportions.



The film marvellously captures most of the love most teenage men have for the zombie scenario. In a word or two: legitimized anarchy. If the story lacks direction for any reason it's this. One of the best sequences (of which there are several) shows the foursome breaking everything in a shop just because they can. The jokes come often and are amusing, with pop culture references aplenty. One cameo made me fall in love with the film. There really is nothing like the comedy greats of the 80s and 90s, is there? The opening credits sequence was awesome really letting us inside this zombie infested world, the slow motion and chaos plain to see.
The film only sparingly adheres to reality so as not to detract from the fantasy. Running out of ammunition never seems to happen. It's hard to imagine three out of four of the crew, capable as they are at times, faring any better than millions of other people, much less the US Army. But speculation about that hardly seems the point of the film. The final quarter is nothing if not constant visceral fun.
This is Xbox 360 game Dead Rising come to life, which I found myself reminded of, a banjo, garden sheers, baseball bats, chainsaws...What better weapons for Zombies.

''The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me.''

If I have some minor issues, apart from the infinite ammo, it's this: The casting of the film seems extremely calculated. We have a kid that looks and acts like Michael Cera, the hot girl from Superbad, the cute kid from Little Miss Sunshine, and Woody Harrelson to lead the bunch of newbies. If there weren't zombie nudity, blood, and cursing here I'd say it's practically a family friendly comedy caper. I've become a little less of a fan of comedy relying on pop culture over the years because it relies on an audience's knowledge of other films, not the film standing on it's own feet. But I don't want to flog an undead horse too harshly, especially such an entertaining one. I'd gladly watch Zombieland many times, and it remains one of the best zombie comedies out there, which doesn't rely on originality but on successful formulas done by predecessors. I mean if it's not broken why change it? We even have Bill Murray and a Ghostbuster reference thrown into the mix. ZombieLand is a fine tribute to horror and comedy combined. We even have a list of rules to survive from the main guy, now that is clever, not to mention fun.

''I'm not great at farewells, so uh... that'll do, pig.''


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Pacino Performance for Oscar.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 15 October 2009 12:35 (A review of Scent of a Woman)

''Out of order? Who the hell do you think you're talkin' to? I've been around, you know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there isn't nothin' like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that. You think you're merely sending this splendid foot soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are... executin' his soul!''

A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated.

Al Pacino: Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade

Scent of a woman is a masterpiece. First of all because Al Pacino creates a character he is in no way close to being in real life. He plays a retired lieutenant-colonel which is nothing, but a blind one. His blindness is the symbol, and result, of both a heroic career and a sad end because he was passed over for general. This mixture of so many emotions and feelings and frustrations is marvelously conveyed by the actor. His tone, his behavior, his general stand, his unpredictable reactions, his decision to leave this world and his second decision to stay can be read in the way he speaks, the words he uses, the expressions his blind face carries, his attitudes toward other people, etc.

He is a millionaire in layered emotions. But it is a masterpiece for so many other reasons that I am only going to quote a few. First it is a journey, the journey of a prep school teenager, a student on a scholarship mind you, from Oregon to Cambridge, Massachusetts, then to New York, a round trip with the colonel he is taking care of for the Thanksgiving long week end. This journey, and particularly the lap to New York and the subsequent events, are an initiation.
The young chap is to learn what principles are in life and that you have to stand by them, especially if you are poor and fragile in body and social status: then be strong in soul, mind and spirit. Your ethics are your only asset and power in life. He also has to learn how to understand his colonel companion and feel when he has decided to send him buy cigars while he is putting an end to his life and the gun loaded with his bullets are an impressive key to the solitary tower of growing up with death all around you.

''I'm in the dark, here!''

He saves that man with a crazy idea of a ride, for a blind man, to drive a Ferrari in the Bronx or somewhere under the Brooklyn Bridge, and with all the frills of such a ride including the cop who catches him speeding but does not realize he is talking to a blind man. But this film is also a story about the elite education these Ivy League prep schools provide the young men of today with to prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow. There I will not hint too much at that side of the story. Let's say an act of vandalism which is a student prank and nothing more, leads the headmaster into menacing the two student witnesses, with the worst punishment going as far as trying to buy the cooperation of the poor student. The final disciplinary hearing is absurd in its logic. The three culprits go through because there is no clear cut witness, the rich one, with his father, pretends he did not have his contacts on but gives the three names with a maybe, and the poor one, Charlie by the way, refuses point blank to be a fink, a stool pigeon. And there the intervention of his suicidal colonel saves the day. That you will have to find out by yourself. In many ways it is a lot stronger than Dead Poets Society and the drama is avoided. It is better because it is the vision of a poor scholarship student and not the vision of one rich kid, in recent society and not in the 1920s or so.

The point of view makes it a lot more powerful about society and courage, even if less dramatic,this is a story about hope, the merging of young and old minds coming together. Scent of a woman is about living, the beauty of life and at times, when you believe you have nothing to live for, are the times when you have so many aspects and joys to carry life on. This is a story of hope and friendship.

''Well, gentlemen, when the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay.''


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Every dog has it's day...

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 15 October 2009 12:21 (A review of Scarface)

''I'm Tony Montana! You fuck with me, you fuckin' with the best!''

In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug empire while succumbing to greed.

Al Pacino: Tony Montana

''In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.''


Brian De Palma did a very good job directing Scarface. Whenever an actor is able to become larger than life with his performance some credit should be given to the director and I will certainly give De Palma that. Brian De Palma, though not given the respect at times, is a very versatile director by my reckoning and assessing. He knows how to direct movies according to their genres, but that at times has let some of his works down. In Scarface, this is by all counts a gangster movie but few are much better than this one because of De Palma's skills and talents.



The script was great, pure Oliver Stone. When I saw the credits at the end of this movie and realized Oliver Stone had written this I was pleasantly surprised. That is a testament to him though. I have always thought of him as a great writer and to me he proves this once again with Scarface. Nobody knows how to write a surreal reality for a movie better.
The music was great. It is certainly a diverse score with feeling and emotion from Giorgio Moroder. Maybe very 80s-ish at times but stylish and fitting with the times. The cinematography was good, not perfect but who really who cares when you have an action packed storyline.

''Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy!''

Alot of people divudge in saying the acting was over-the-top, but who better to do an over-the-top character than legendary Al Pacino. To say that Pacino went overboard in here would be an understatement. Yet he does it so well, he just brings the inner devil out of the viewer too. His character Tony Montana was not such a great guy to begin with but his thirst for power just brings his lust and lust for greed to another level, an inhumane level. Sure at times Pacino seems to be a bit cartoonish and surreal but that does not at all to me seem to be a loss or liability. The supporting cast served its job very well supporting Pacino. Michelle Pfeiffer was not really at her best but she certainly fits the role she played. On the other hand Steven Bauer was at his best, still he is Steven Bauer. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was good and like Michelle Pfeiffer fits her respective role very well. Robert Loggia I have always enjoyed watching in 80s films. Other than Pacino they were not really any standout or memorable performances. Everybody just seemed to fit their roles by being there.

''You think you can take me? You need a fucking army if you gonna take me!''

De Palma's Scarface has probably been one of the most influential movies in the past 25 years. People should realize that the character of Tony Montana is no hero, he is a monster. He is not inspiring in bringing out that evil obssession to excel even by wrong means. He is greedy, bloodthirsty, uneducated and self consumed. Yet he is a role model to many people because he is in some way or another a rebel but probably most of all because he is a deluded gangster. A vigilante would be like Mother Tereasa next to Montana.
The good thing about Scarface though is that it shows that the Tony Montana is not the real problem. If we or the people of authority would want to stop people like him, we could do it but we don't. In a freaky twisted way he is a necessity of our society. He is somebody you could blame everything on and feel better about yourself for doing it. The Tony Montanas' of this world are the scapegoats of our society. This in no way excuses people like him, instead it is more of a reminder that we shouldn't excuse or allow ourselves to do bad things just because it will further our personal wealth unjustly. I love Scarface because it is more than merely a corruption story of an individual, it is a story that in a strange way makes you self reflect your own soul. At times you know Tony is doing bad things, but that doesn't stop you enjoying proceedings does it?

''You wanna fuck with me? Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to my little friend!''



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A film about Blindness...I see.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 7 October 2009 11:19 (A review of Blindness)

''The only thing more terrifying than blindness is being the only one who can see.''

A city is ravaged by an epidemic of instant "white blindness". Those first afflicted are quarantined...

Yusuke Iseya: First Blind Man

On release, Blindness was strangely labeled the new Children of Men, even comparisons were drawn to the dystopia I Am Legend. Even though it has actresses from both (Julianne Moore and Alice Braga), it results as being worse than both combined, it is safe to say, Blindness shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence as Alfonso Cuarón's exceptional Children of Men. The quality speaks for itself if you compare these projects, and even I am Legend had it's CG flaws and unoriginal strains.

However, that doesn't mean not to miss out on Blindness as it is a decent enough drama with some solid performances. The film opens very intriguingly, an Asian man in an unnamed city goes blind at the wheel, this is the unknown start of the epidemic and traffic chaos has already erupted around him. Obviously then director Fernando Meirelles' view of the worlds morality in this film is shown as a man appears to help him, only to kick him out of his own car and drive away.
Perhaps this is where the main fault lies, the film tries so hard to hammer home a message that society has lost sight, using literal blindness as a metaphor for all that is bad in human thought and action. No wonder various foundations have protested against the concept and story itself.
It might have been wiser to let the viewers decide for themselves how this city would react and keep things relatively ambiguous. People going blind doesn't necessarily mean they will become selfish, indifferent and aggressive yet overall the film puts this point across repeatedly. An example is the doctor played by Mark Ruffalo, he completely changes in character, and even in the middle of the crisis, he cheats on his wife.

I think what saves Blindness overall though, and the reasons for me giving it 3 stars is that it is nicely structured and evenly paced while looking visually stunning, it is supposed to be set in an unidentified city and there are no clues at all to where it is filmed which is successful, and adds to the experience. The ruined and deserted city caused by the aftermath is also terrifically done.

The performances are definitely worth a mention, Julianne Moore is an excellent emotional core as one of the few humans immune to the blindness and carries the film. I also liked Alice Braga, Yuseke Iseya and Gael García Bernal who has fun as one of the quarantined victims who tries to take over the wards for everything they have to achieve personal profit. However, I was disappointed with Mark Ruffalo who is normally a fine actor (Collateral,Zodiac) but he struggles with the material and delivering his character here. Danny Glover isn't great either and his clunky voice-overs don't help matters any further.

You will enjoy this film more if you can see past the over emphasized moral message and plot-holes. It would take too long to go through them all but for example: everyone is blind yet not once does anyone call each other by name, it would surely help the situation! I can't understand what Meirelles was trying to achieve with the non-use of name calling for the characters.
Overall, Blindness is an average standard drama, that is worth seeing for the visuals and mediocre performances. However, if you want something similar and in my view much better, watch the superior Children of Men. Let's face it, anything Fernando Meirelles ended up doing after his masterpiece City of God, would have had serious problems living up to the imposed pressure of equaling such an achievement. Blindness doesn't even come close to the shadow of greatness City of God basks in, which to me, shows complacency and a lack of utilizing the same potential. Possibly the source material is to blame in Meirelles favour, only time will tell when we see the work from his next conjecture.

So Fernando Meirelles, a film about Blindness...I don't see a point, thats for sure.


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This is no Babylon.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 7 October 2009 09:34 (A review of Babylon A.D.)

''Oh, you're a disgrace to the profession. You're not a mercenary, you're a fucking terrorist. You need two things to live in this business, your balls and your word. You don't have either! You know the difference between you and me, Karl? I still got both.''

Veteran-turned-mercenary Toorop takes the high-risk job of escorting a woman from Russia to America. Little does he know that she is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest in order to produce a genetically modified Messiah.

Vin Diesel: Toorop

Babylon A.D., the story of Toorop, a veteran-turned-mercenary who takes the job of escorting a woman named Aurora from Central Asia to New York, stays fresh and witty in its first hour. What Toorop thinks is an ordinarily dangerous mission soon becomes much more when he discovers that his guest is carrying twin babies, thought to be the next Messiah figures. The movie begins frantically and the first hour is interesting — one can only help but admit there is little chance of a blockbuster after hearing zero publicity. All preconceived notions aside, there are actually quite a few great turns at its opening, including a border-crossing scene equaling intensity with any action film. Needless to say, after the 40 minutes my hopes were exceptional.

The movie could have got one of two ways, really. Either it stayed true to its first hour – gritty, surprising evil marked by mysterious characters or get lazy and forever be lost to theatrical mediocrity. Unfortunately, it was the latter. What started out great in this production failure ultimately pandered its way to murky depths of boredom.

The movie ended in the direct opposite way it began. We were met with intrigue and let out with unbelievability. We were ushered in with mystery and exited with apathy. Nothing kept me thinking, nothing kept me caring. The movie ended in a lump of lazy, backward thinking – as if we cared what happened to the babies? The last scene of the film was about as entertaining as watching mould grow on a piece of bread. Standing outside some house, Toorop held the hands of two very different looking children, in an act of true love, and a commitment to raise the children on his own. All this coming from a man whom we'd grown to love by seeing him throw innocent people from a vessel he was trying to board out of self preservation. Apparently Toorop turned nice in a flicker of a moment...who knew?

If I could be blunter, I would. There were many, many things wrong with this film outside of the fact that it was created on the floor of a cutting room. The fight sequences had to be ambiguously edited in order to show the least amount of production error and lack of footage. The characters, although almost brimming with development possibility, were left to hang like a basketball mid-flight, as if we were watching a trilogy without the courtesy of seeing part one and having no hope for part three. It was nearly torturous. Babylon A.D. isn't worth the bother of a sequel, a prequel, or even the time wasted to make this intrepid affair.


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An out of body experience.

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 7 October 2009 08:57 (A review of Awake)

''Am I supposed to still hear you?''

The story focuses on a man who suffers "anesthetic awareness" and finds himself awake and aware, but paralyzed, during heart surgery. His mother must wrestle with her own demons as a drama unfolds around them, while trying to unfold the story hidden behind her son's young wife.

Hayden Christensen: Clay Beresford

Awake, the thriller by first-time director Joby Harold, takes off from a grisly real-life phenomenon called anesthetic awareness. This is when patients are unaccountably left fully conscious — and physically paralyzed — during the process of surgery, thus Harold, whom also wrote the script, has spun a preposterously entertaining web from this grisly germ of an idea, and manages to hold us in a vice-like grip for pretty much the entire length of the ordeal. How often can you say of a Hollywood thriller that you don't have a clue what's going to happen next? Awake is brazenly indifferent to plausibility, but you can't help but admire the film's audacity. Along with unique plot twists, Harold throws Hitchcock-esque flourishes and elements of Greek tragedy into the mix like a crazed chef adding ingredients to a new dish. .

Harold brings energy and focus to the scenes that he transcends the subject matter and gives it an almost surreal intensity, and the performances are strong enough to keep the film's evolution from capsizing it. Jessica Alba is suitably luscious and beguiling (her role gives new meaning to the term heartbreaker), and Lena Olin and Terence Howard are both in fine form. As the unfortunate victim of anesthetic awareness, Hayden Christensen comes into his own as a performer (having mercifully managed to escape the Mark Hamil curse: that of being horribly miscast by George Lucas). Christensen has an unusually expressive face (the camera takes to him), and he can convey emotion without ever appearing to do much—fortunately, because the film hinges around his internal struggle, and on our feelings of empathy for him.

Awake is a white-knuckle movie experience if ever there was one (it even carries a viewer warning), with some of the most sheerly visceral scenes of horror ever committed to celluloid. Watching someone undergoing open-heart surgery while fully conscious (and able to feel the incision) is enough to frazzle the nerves of the most hardened horror veterans, and this film is certainly not for the squeamish. Too bad the loopy plot (and the melodramatic character revelations, which are really just tired genre conventions) finally stretches our credibility to breaking point. As a result, Awake lacks a strong climax, and as a roller-coaster ride it doesn't have enough emotional depth to be fully engaging. But for most of its length it's close to a pop classic, and probably the best metaphysical story around. In fact, Harold better watch out or he may wind up as the next M. Night Shyamalan, which is not necessarily a good thing. Awake has so many twists it makes you dizzy, as if you are the one going for surgery.

''I think my new heart will love you as much as my old one.''


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