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The way of truth and love has always won.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 18 April 2010 12:28 (A review of Gandhi)

''Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.''

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British through his philosophy of non-violent protest.

Ben Kingsley: Mohandas K. Gandhi

General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State said of Mahatma Gandhi, that he had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind, a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires. This is Gandhi. Albert Einstein added, Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.
My thoughts? This is one of the greatest men to ever walk this Earth, the most selfless, deepest, philosophical, free thinking individuals to grace existence.

Thus with Richard Attenborough's film biopic account featuring Sir Ben Kingsley in the shoes of the great Gandhi. We see and are given a loving, emotional account and insight into the legendary man whom risked so much for a country and a people in need of freedom and independence.
Firstly we see the barbarism, racism and unjustness of the British Empire. ''We think it is time that you recognized that you are masters in someone else's home.'' Gandhi coolly expresses to officials and British Army officers at one point after a cold, brutal massacre. This is the truth of the matter. The British Empire was great of course but for all the wrong reasons. It capitalized on the suffering and labour of the people it exploited in far away regions, and even today we see the side effects it has had on modern times.
Imagine the British Empire is an old man with his feet soaking in a warm, dirty bowl of hot water. The bowl of water represents India, it represents the Countries under the thumb of this Empire. That is the only truth Gandhi teaches us about tyranny.

Later after many years of struggle, imprisonment and injustice. After many years of non-violent protest from himself and his allies, through fasting and prayer Gandhi succeeds in helping India gain independence and thus break away from domination from the British.
Then the next snag is the Hindus and the Muslims fighting and dying over the differences and eye for an eye revenge fighting which starts. Pakistan is created for the Muslims of India yet each side is persecuted for the other.
Gandhi boldly, affirmly, calmly says, ''I am a Muslim and a Hindu and a Christian and a Jew and so are all of you.'' So we see, Gandhi is free from hate and anger. From the rage and chaos in which religion divides and causes wars and death to essentially brothers. In Gandhi's eyes Hindu and Muslim, Christian and Jew are brothers. They are his people. He is the embodiment of peace and prosperity. However this thinking and advanced higher resonance essentially caused his demise at the hands of narrow minded religious fanatics.
Fortunately Gandhi will always be remembered for changing not just India but changing the World and the way we think. A line of thinking free from racism, religious segregation and a mutual respect for human life and freedom.

Overall, Gandhi has a fascinating biopic structure which is intricately woven by Richard Attenborough whom gives it the love and delicate care it richly deserves. He assembles a knock out cast which prove performances and story go hand in hand.
Sir Ben Kingsley steals the film with his timeless portrayal of the Great Mahatma Gandhi: Mahatma was a name given to Gandhi by the people meaning ''Great Soul''. A name wholeheartedly earned and deserved.
Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, Martin Sheen, Saeed Jaffrey, Geraldine James, Alyque Padamsee, Amrish Puri, and Roshan Seth to name but a few all pop up to add to such a magical casting and journey of a man transcending the mere material.
Gandhi is a myriad of biopic, history and Hollywood yet it never loses momentum over it's three hour span and every detail is necessary for such a huge undertaking. It's right up there right along side The Last Emperor, Schindler's List and Lawrence of Arabia; An age when film was so long and so informative, crammed with glorious loving detail, it was essentially two parts. The intermission designed for us to have a break. This is an educational, transportation to an age of our past. This is about love and truth, this is a tribute to the life of a prophet and visionary from yesterday whom made a better tomorrow. Watch this film and remember a great man.

''What do you want me not to do? Not to meet with Mr. Jinnah? I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew, and so are all of you. When you wave those flags and shout, you send fear into the hearts of your brothers. That is not the India I want! Stop it! For God's sake stop it!''

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Give me truth.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 16 April 2010 05:44 (A review of Into the Wild)

''I'm going to paraphrase Thoreau here...rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth.''

After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.

Emile Hirsch: Chris McCandless

Into The Wild is a powerful, emotional journey of a young, spirited man. A story and film inspired from a true events, shared with the World thanks to Sean Penn's directorial passions and patience.
Sean Penn waited 10 years to make the film to make sure he had the approval from the McCandless family. This is powerful innovative film making. This is Into The Wild; Chris McCandless's enlightened yet tragic aspiration.

So what sets Into The Wild into cinematic history? What is utterly moving and soul falteringly effecting to audiences?
The soundtrack with it's soothing gentle tones of grace play with the visuals in an almost discordant, playful temperament of beauty.
Original Music by Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder is just mind blowingly effective in melting the emotions. To top it off the cinematography by
Eric Gautier whom was also director of photography, delivers work reminiscent of beauty; The epic vastness of the wilderness, the sprawling icy regions, the huge city scapes, simply take your breath everytime you watch. It's majestic, it's wow, it's freedom.

The cast is of course the finest assemble possible for a story of this magnitude, for a film inspired by such a turbulent truth, a life of a deep, inspiring individual unafraid to go against the grain, against the imprisonment society sets for it's materialist, brain washed pawns.
Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Brian H. Dierker, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart and of course Hal Holbrook as Ron Franz all deliver believable, caring love for the characters they portray on screen.
It is of course Emile Hirsch playing Chris McCandless who gives a performance that gives the film it's energy, it's vibrance, and it's unwavering determination and eternal soul.
As Chris McCandless gives all his life savings away to Oxfam, all $25,000 we watch. As Chris cuts up all his cards, and loses his car in a storm, we watch. As Chris McCandless adopts a new person of his own creation, he becomes Alexander Supertramp, and we watch on...in awe.
This is a young, intelligent man whom has graduated among the top of his university. Yet this is also a young bright man whom realizes the truth of the World and it's captivity. His rich, conservative parents obsessed with material wealth blind to the suffering and nature of their own children. Into the Wild is liberty. Into The Wild is realization. Into the Wild is truly about a prophet ahead of his time in terms of thinking and relevance who tragically died for what he believed in, who wanted to be one with nature, and one with himself.

Into the Wild coaxes us into remembering what the purpose of life is. How meaningless jobs, money, politics, business, and materialism can be. How we can be a prisoner without even realizing the situation. To be free is not as simple as it sounds, the truth is not as easy to understand or for some incomprehensible. This is not to be mistaken for hippy induced pragmatic wheel spinning, this is serious thinking for a better tomorrow. This is breaking away from the system and being truly, pure and independent from the chains of commercial imprisonment. A cage of numbers and soulless fundamentalism; In essence the love of wealth, the system, and the hive collective of zombie resembling puppets.

Overall, Into the Wild is a truly blessed envisioning that resounds in ones being. When Ron offers to adopt Alexander, you will cry in appreciation of this poor fellow man. When the parents realize he may not be coming back it is heart crushingly hopeless. When you watch Into the Wild you will guaranteed be effected by the ordeal, the pleasure and enduring spirit of one who stood up for what he believed in. An unwavering light in the face of oppression and darkness, unblemished by a lying, faceless world obsessed with the material constriction.
Into the Wild questions everything, provides answers if interpreted in the correct fashion. This is a taste of the real reason for existence, this is truly a testament and awe inspiring journey of a prophet.

''The sea's only gifts are harsh blows, and occasionally the chance to feel strong. Now I don't know much about the sea, but I do know that that's the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind death stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.''

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How come he's so good at killing people?

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 9 April 2010 10:57 (A review of A History of Violence)

''Why don't you ask "Tom" about his older brother Ritchie? Ask "Tom" how he tried to rip my eye out with barbed wire, and ask him, Edie, how come he's so good at killing people?''

Viggo Mortensen: Tom Stall

Brilliant cast and feel to this film. Love Cronenberg's recurring theme of mutation in his movies.
In HOV the medium in the spotlight is violence, be captivated as it mutates and alters everyone it touches. This man Tom Stall, played by the talented Viggo Mortensen who has a dark, mysterious side and how one incident brings out his sated violent tendencies and a dark side.

Some gory and violent scenes this film is a good look into how are aggressive animal instincts can take hold of us if given in too. Ed Harris as a man from Tom's supposed past is terrific as a vengeful hit-man while William Hurt making an appearance later gives an amazingly chilling performance.

One thing that I liked best was the changes and diversions that unfold during the film and layered story take. The differences in his son Jack who is quietly submissive to bullies at school who later after his father's change slowly becomes more aggressive, one example him beating the crap out of an annoying fellow pupil who hassles him.
Another aspect i found intriguing was Tom and his Wife Edie's sex life and how that alters from being cute and placid, conveyed in a lovely scene where she's got a cheer leading outfit on. Later a rough and aggressive sexual encounter on the stairs which erupts forth out of the swirling haze of violence that has descended upon all the people surrounding Tom's cracking showful persona.

A History of Violence is ultimately a character study, and Cronenberg has succeeded in some solid casting to drive the story. Viggo Mortonson is easily the best thing in the film - his conflicted character easily serves to win our sympathies, and succeed in making us turn away in disgust at others. Mortenson's powerful and genuine performance brings the troubled 'Tom Stall' to life in a truly believable fashion - it should be no surprise if he receives Oscar recognition next year. Maria Bello is also terrific as Stall's wife Edie, bringing genuine emotional hurt to the part. Ed Harris is suitably menacing as mobster Carl Fogarty, an effect greatly helped by his gruesome makeup, but in the end he still fails to escape the shadow of the stereotypical gangster. However, this is an aspect in which fellow mobster William Hurt succeeds, delivering a highly amusing and surprisingly comical performance. He doesn't seem to entirely fit in with the dark overtones of the movie, but so enjoyable is his performance that we don't mind in the least. However, newcomer Ashton Holmes as Tom's son Jack is a different story. Holmes shows promise for being an excellent actor, especially for one so young, but in many scenes in the film, he comes off as too emotional to really be believable. This on-and-off overacting is a shame, as he does give an impressive performance overall, and is essential to the story - including arguably the movie's most potent scene, where a distressed Tom argues with Jack over his fighting at school. Tom's argument being "We do not hit people to solve problems in this family!" Jack's angry reply is "No, in this family we shoot them!" after which he is quickly slapped by his father, to his own surprise.

A History of Violence is a bittersweet mix. The acting is exceptional and Cronenberg displays a strong and in control directorial sense throughout. But the stereotypical supporting characters and occasional gaps in logic come off as much more of a problem than they should - lending the film an uneven quality between the excellent and the unsatisfactory. But overall, A History of Violence is still an excellent and very strongly made film, enough so for us to forgive its few, but rather prominent weak points. Cronenberg has delivered one of the most powerful and thought provoking films, and it should be recognized as such.
A definite cult movie and classic, not to be missed with an ending that will leave you thinking and pondering your own conclusions.

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A warrior's ultimate act is to lay down his sword.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 9 April 2010 10:17 (A review of Hero)

''My decision will cause the deaths of many and Your Majesty will live on. A dead man begs you to remember; a warrior's ultimate act is to lay down his sword.''

A series of Rashomon-like flashback accounts shape the story of how one man defeated three assassins who sought to murder the most powerful warlord in pre-unified China.

Jet Li: Nameless

Hero is an absolutely beautiful film, and quite possibly Jet Li's best film to date, with an engrossing story and top notch performances.

All the characters are fantastic, and the fight scenes are very well done, plus Jet Li is simply exquisite!. Characters are extremely faceted and pose depth and honour, and the scenery is completely drenched in stunning beauty.
Hero at times, was a hard film to follow at times but helped by the different shades of colour used in each section or different version of a story told. There is only one true version and it's interesting to see the parallel paths told in rich reds and greens and blues.
I was stunned by the story, and really liked how it all plays out, plus the cinematography defies perfection!

The wire work is also very good, and I especially loved the battle on the water, Jet and Donnie Yen had a fantastic meaningful battle at the humble beginnings.
I thought it was especially cool when they shot hundreds of arrows at the same time also reducing the speed to slow mo, something that movies reminiscent of 300, later after Hero copied in Western cinema.
The music also tantalizes as incredible, adding to the emotion and raw epicness of Hero.

Hero ia quite unpredictable, and it's wonderfully arty as well, plus I can see why this film has become so undeniably popular. Hero is an absolutely beauty of a film, with an engrossing story and top notch acting.
The Direction is wonderful!. Yimou Zhang does splendidly wonderful!
Here with outstanding camera work,wicked angles, great use of vibrant colours, awesome shots, and just keeping the film at an extremely engrossing high speed pace.

Jet Li is amazing as always and is amazing here, he had this intense stare look on his face throughout that really worked, and gives one of his finest performances. Tony Leung Chiu Wai is fantastic as Broken Sword, he was really likable, had some good lines.
Maggie Cheung is gorgeous and does excellent here as Flying Snow, she had some great emotional scenes with Tony Leung, had a cool character, and even though she was unlikable at times, she did an excellent job overall.
Ziyi Zhang is incredibly gorgeous, and does fine with what she had to do as Moon, I really liked her.
Daoming Chen does what he has to do well as the King, I liked him.
Donnie Yen is fantastic as always, and showed off his great martial art skills.

Yimou Zhang whom also did the elegant and beautiful House Of Flying Daggers, proves what a talented and respective visionary director he truly is, with his effortlessly, meaningful, and artistic laden Hero mastery piece.

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Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 9 April 2010 09:57 (A review of American Beauty)

''It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.''

Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend. While his daughter forms a bond with the new boy in her neighborhood...

Kevin Spacey: Lester Burnham

Annette Bening: Carolyn Burnham

American Beauty, right from the start tells me form the perfect narration by Kevin Spacey that this is going to be a powerful film and story and boy is it...

A lesson in life, this comes so close into a glimpse of what life is. Character's are not cut outs but living breathing souls that you care about, that you can relate too. All the cast including director Sam Mendes have succeeded in crafting a world which reflects our own so well.
The score, the music all add to the beauty of it. Powerful camera work which is neatly shot and smooth. Transitions flow consistently, while the story shifts between characters to obtain diversity.

This film should affect everyone who sees it because anyone can relate to it's intricate curving and believable characters. American Beauty is actually a social satire of suburban America. These people have an image of what they are "supposed" to be implanted in their brains. One day Lester (Kevin Spacey), snaps out of it. Lester realizes there is more out there than a dead end job, a wife who bosses him around and is obsessed with material possessions, but more importantly Lester realizes there is more in him. As Lester starts to change himself, it also affects his environment. His wife Carolyn (Annette Benning) is totally thrown off keel by his actions. Lester has discovered that they are not the average middle class suburban family but a completely unique group of human beings. When he tries to get this message across to Carolyn, she rejects him, has an affair, and convinces herself she is the victim. Lester and Carolyn's message and the main message of the movie is that we all wear masks, put up visages. Thus unless we become ourselves, we can never truly be happy. It is said multiple times in the film that it would be terrible to be ordinary.

Now, there is a second message. A parallel story is being told. That of Lester's daughter Jane and her boyfriend Ricky. While these two stories are deeply intertwined and connect with each other, Ricky and Jane's message is equally important. Ricky lives in a world of beauty. Beauty is everywhere and in everything. Jane, who at the beginning of the film believes she is ordinary and plain, is brought into this world by Ricky and is shown how much she has to offer. Their message is that there is beauty in everything and all you have to do is look for it.

Kevin Spacey was phenomenal in this, he really was. As was Wes Bentley, this however, his portrayal of his character Ricky Fitts, shows me what a good actor he is. His weirdness and way of shooting things is interesting while his relationship with Jane is touching indeed.
I'm glad the ending was realistic and it added a more meaningful punch to a masterpiece that is defined by it's careful grasp at it's subject, life...

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Destruction is a form of creation.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 9 April 2010 09:45 (A review of Donnie Darko)

''They say right when they flood the house and they tear it to shreds that... "Destruction is a form of creation," so the fact that they burn the money is ironic. They just want to see what happens when they tear the world apart. They want to change things.''

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.

Jake Gyllenhaal: Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko is a deep insightful look into a very deep and meaningful subject that borders on the metaphysical and into a realm bordering between psychic channels, dreams and the deepest recesses of the mind. Not only this but time as a parallel and the idea of loop holes and alternative realities pops up throughout the journey of Donnie and all those around him.

Donnie Darko may conjure up an apparition in a bunny suit called Frank and Abyss like liquidy shapes showing people's desires and future paths protruding from everyone's chests but on a emotional level it is very much human, an extremely psychological case.
Darko is a drama and thriller but also a superb character study too . We are often led to question whether Donnie's visions and actions are the result of a paranoid, deluded, drug induced mind? Or whether in fact he really is experiencing all these surreal happenings.

His gradual decay as he realizes that there is no hope and that he may have to go through eternity alone is beautifully executed, while the sense of peace and inner fulfillment he ultimately achieves shows he knows what he has to do. That's why he gets back into bed, that's why the paradox of him not choosing to listen to the voice a 2nd time is such genius and that in itself is a symbol and act of true sacrificing heroism.
Darko concludes in a most mouth wateringly mind bending, emotional way. It will fuel debates for years and years to come but emotionally it redefines the workings of how movies are defined.

The last few minutes where Tears For Fears & Mad World is played over shots of various characters contemplating their actions are miraculously shown, while the lyrics perfectly summarize Donnie's state of mind.
Furthermore, the last few lines of the film are meaningful on so many levels, and mark the end to a film drenched in turbulent emotion, flowing surrealism and unrivaled beauty.
This remains the part of Darko which will make you want to watch it again. You'll think you've discovered what's really going on after the first time, prove yourself wrong on the second time, and will sit and watch every possible detail the third time.

Extremely well written with three dimensional layered characters speaking electrifying dialogue. Richard Kelly has created an instant cult classic, and undeniably something more than that, something deeper.

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This happens. This is something that happens.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 9 April 2010 09:37 (A review of Magnolia)

''This happens. This is something that happens.''

An epic mosaic of several interrelated characters in search of happiness, forgiveness, and meaning in the San Fernando Valley.

Tom Cruise: Frank T.J. Mackey

''Sometimes people need a little help. Sometimes people need to be forgiven. And sometimes they need to go to jail.''

Lets just say, Paul Thomas Anderson has succeeded in putting into film a rather clever interpretation of a butterfly effect.
Anderson creates a vast canvas of barely-related and briefly overlapping storylines and characters that come together under the blooming flower concept of a single major theme and a few minor ones. Anderson's concern is to explore the ideology of forgiveness and to examine the part it plays in the redemption of ourselves. In this film, dying characters have inner demons and turmoils to face and to make amends with the loved ones they will soon leave, while estranged characters grasp tentatively to establish bonds that must link them to other members of humanity. Anderson humbly denotes a tremendously wide range of characters, though for a film set in the northern areas of Los Angeles, Magnolia provides a surprisingly non-diverse sea of American Actors. However, in terms of the ages of the characters, Anderson's crew seems more comprehensive, running the gamut from a pre-teen wiz kid to a terminally ill man in his mid-60's. Many of these characters seem to have created any number of facades to help them cope with the miseries and disappointments of life, and much of the redemption occurs only after those masks are stripped away revealing the emptiness and hurt that, in many cases, lurks so close to the surface.

Thematically, then, Anderson's film is a compelling one. Dramatically, however, it suffers from some serious flaws. Many viewers and critics have called `Magnolia' an artistic advancement, in both depth and scope, for Anderson, whose previous film was the similarly condensed Boogie Nights. I tend to disagree. If anything, Boogie Nights, by limiting itself to a much more narrowly restricted milieu and focusing intently on a single main character, managed to connect more directly with the emotions of the audience. Magnolia, by being more expansive, paradoxically, seems more contracted. The pacing is often languid and the screenplay, running a bit over three hours, often seems bloated given the single-mindedness of its basic theme. Certainly, a few of these characters and story-lines could have been dispensed with at no great cost to the film as a whole. By lining up all his characters to fit into the same general theme, the author allows his message to become a bit heavy-handed and over-emphatic. Anderson seems to want to capture the whole range of human experience on his huge, lengthy movie project, yet because the characters seem to all be tending in the same direction, and despite the fact that the details of their experiences are different, the net effect is thematically claustrophobic.

''And there is the account of the hanging of three men, and a scuba diver, and a suicide. There are stories of coincidence and chance, of intersections and strange things told, and which is which and who only knows? And we generally say, "Well, if that was in a movie, I wouldn't believe it." Someone's so-and-so met someone else's so-and-so and so on. And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that strange things happen all the time. And so it goes, and so it goes. And the book says, "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us."

The controversial ending, in which an event of literally biblical proportions occurs, feels generally right in the context of this film, though with some reservations. It seems perfectly in tune with the quality of heightened realism that Anderson establishes and sustains throughout the picture. On the other hand, the ending does pinpoint one of the failures of the film as a whole. Given that the screenplay has a strong religious subtext running all the way through it, one wonders why Anderson felt obliged to approach the religious issues in such strictly oblique terms. None of the characters, not even those who are dying, seem to turn to God for their forgiveness and redemption. In fact, one wonders what purpose that quirky ending serves since the characters are well on their way to making amends by the time it happens.
Perhaps in doing so Anderson finds another way to connect his characters together with the event happening, being something that happens. Adding to another line up of threads and debates.
When it does happen, theres no way your expecting it, granted you maybe expecting something unexpected, but what that said thing is, turns out to be a wondrous surprise.
So the questions pile up, answers and speculation seem far in the distance, while Magnolia succeeds in doing in my mind what many other films in this era have done before. Whether it be Donnie Darko, 21 Grams, or realistic Babel, to me Magnolia seems to be another film following the trend. Perhaps if I'd seen it sooner I wouldn't question it's originality, but I do, and I have. Having said that it's a great film regardless and it tries very hard to be clever and ambitious, which to me is commendable.
Director Anderson has harnessed an array of first-rate performances from a talented, Hollywood drenched cast. Tom Cruise provides a wrenching case study of a shallow, charismatic shyster, who has parleyed his misogyny into a lucrative self-help industry. Yet, like many of the characters, he uses this visage as a shield to hide the hurt caused by a father who abandoned him and a mother whose slow, painful death he was left to deal with. The other actors, too numerous to mention, turn in equally worthy performances. Particularly interesting is the young boy who, in counterpoint to one of the other characters in the story, manages to save himself at an early age from the crippling effect of identity usurpation that it has taken so many others in this film a lifetime to overcome.

In many ways, Magnolia is the kind of film that could easily serve as the basis for a lengthy doctoral dissertation for a student majoring in either filmmaking or sociology. The density of its vision would surely yield up many riches of character, symbolism and theme that a first time viewer of the film would undoubtedly miss. Thus, in many ways, Magnolia is that rare film that seems to demand repeat exposure even for those audience members who may not get it the first time. As a viewing experience, Magnolia often seems rambling and lacking purpose, but it does manage to get under one's skin, and, unlike so many other, less ambitious works, this one grows on you.

''Why are frogs falling from the sky?''

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Life is but a dream...

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 7 April 2010 01:44 (A review of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

''Row row row your boat...Gently down the stream...Merrily merrily merrily...Life is but a dream.''

A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

Jim Carrey: Joel Barish

Kate Winslet: Clementine Kruczynski

Memories. Emotions. Love. Timeless. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind delicately tackles these subjects utilizing a genius screenplay, intelligent banter and fully breathing believable characters with a soundtrack that makes the whole affair a perfect filminess cocktail of imagination. Directed wonderfully by Michel Gondry whom takes a shot and succeeds in hitting the target, our hearts. The writers Charlie Kaufman, again Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth realize a dreamy story with Charlie Kaufman mixing a gorgeous screenplay that echoes vibrance and brilliance.

The beauty of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is that no matter how many times you watch the piece you always pick up and grasp something new from the experience. You can relate to what it is showing you in it's dual realistic approach merging with the surreal nature of dreams and memories. The pain and anguish of relationships and character interaction, and the unwavering call and possibility of destiny emerging.
The characters and cast really are the best choices ever for this particular masterpiece, this vision of beauty.
Of course the stand outs are the romantically entwined pair: Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. The characters Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski make an impact on us, and stay in the memory because they are so loveable and likeable, then at other times you hate them and become frustrated similar to how they do with each other. Cleverly, the writers and Director achieve success because we are taking the journey with the lovers, these passionate, turbulent pair of star crossed soul-mates.

The cast also feature some solid supporting players in the guise of Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, David Cross, Jane Adams, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson. They all add to a formula of fortitude and powerful performing mixed with wonderfully alive imaginative sequences that echo brilliance free from chronological restraint.
Why is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind so addictive and loved by audiences? Why has it achieved cult classic status? The answer is simple because it plays upon our greatest fears and strengths when it comes to love, loss and confrontation. It relates to us on a level that surpasses belief at times yet resides in our unconscious memory. Our memories resulting in being the roots for our dreams. How our memories or love can never be take away from us because they make us what we are, they determine how we feel, they are inside us, and that is always going to be important.

Overall, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind makes you fall in love over and over with the concept with emotion, romance and the turbulent inconsistency of human nature. It comes as no surprise that this dreamily imaginative piece won an Oscar for Best Writing & Original Screenplay and even more rewarding a Best Actress nomination for Kate Winslet's mesmerizing layered performance.
Who can forget such funnily eerie sequences of Jim Carrey(His best film by far) reverting to a memory of being 4 years old as a way to keep Kate Winslet alive in his mind? Who can forget them both bathing in a kitchen sink? Or running away while objects and buildings are being stripped from his memories. The wonderful surrealness of memories mixing together. Both of them together in bed, the bed appearing upon the beach. Who can forget any of these inspirational visages of mesmerizing visual melody? I know for numerous reasons I can't. This is the pinnacle of myriad puzzling films which are cleverly stitched together and become clear as we finish the journey, a journey we take with the characters.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a word is summed up by this: unforgettable. It sums up love and life beautifully with a story that mirrors the former achievements. In fact I'm going to have to watch it again because I never tire of the experience or the pleasure of seeing genius in motion. It will melt your heart.

''How happy is the blameless Vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned.''

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When you meet the love of your life, time stops.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 31 March 2010 03:49 (A review of Big Fish)

''They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that's true. What they don't tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.''

A story about a son trying to learn more about his dying father by reliving stories his father told him about himself.

Ewan McGregor: Ed Bloom - Young

Albert Finney: Ed Bloom - Senior

Directed by Tim Burton, adapted from Daniel Wallace's novel and John August's wondrous screenplay comes illustrious, romanticized, as big as life itself Big Fish. This is truly Tim Burton's most personal, deepest stab at answering and explaining the depths and complexities of life and death. You can also see his own coping with a lost love one, in essence the loss of his father and how it effected him. Burton lovingly converts and adapts this emotional, humourous journey between father and son.
Edward Bloom is a fantastical storyteller whom becomes in the eyes of his son, a liar. The truth in fact is something both need to come to terms with.

The beauty and what sets Big Fish into a classic and something of a cult film is how everyone whom watches it, Burton fan or not can relate and sympathize with proceedings. For all it's fantastical, dreamy, escapism Big Fish is also duly realistic and full of characters echoing believability and resonance hand in hand.
The cast in the guise of Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney essentially playing the same man. Ewan the younger version and Albert the older version, both reflecting and mirroring each other with effective results; Which also adds to the glory of Big Fish.
Helena Bonham Carter pops up playing multiple parts and does what she does best; Acts and shines. Although relatively small parts she still results in being memorable.
Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Marion Cotillard and even whimsical Steve Buscemi all add flavour and fun to proceedings while being living, breathing, effective characters in their own right.

What's lovely about Big Fish is that it isn't trying to be anything but honest in it's depictions of fantasy and imagination merging with solidity and real life. At times the two are like lovers always striving to be with each other and also dead and lifeless when the other is not present.
The revelation and effectiveness of the story and journey is how Billy Crudup, playing Will Bloom the son, essentially finds out about his father. He finds that he has wasted droves of time doubting him while in turn the tall tales Ed has been telling, the stories Edward Bloom has been conveying to us and everyone are in fact mirrors of truth. Reflections of pure, unaltered, stranger than fiction fate. In turn a cycle and circle of life and how reconciliation and finding out something before it's too late is key to peace of mind and seeing the one you love for who they are. Believing their words, having a little faith in imagination and dreamy stories.

With a story which is bigger than life, with a character that is Edward Bloom whom is loved by the people and makes alot of friends along the way, with imagination, dreams and love binding the whole affair together Big Fish is a triumph again and again. Hell, the more times you watch it the more heavenly and meaningful the love letter story becomes to you. It sucks you in, reels you in like the title informs, it never lets go of your heart strings and tugs at them relentlessly, sticking in memory long after the adventure as come to it's final conclusion.
The bond that is love comes in many shapes and forms. Love for your friends, love for your family and love for your soulmate. I believe in it's own little way Big Fish flicks on the light switch in our hearts and minds to make us perhaps aware of this love that is rare and fleeting in our lives.

''You become what you always were - a very big fish.''

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Sweet memories.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 30 March 2010 05:37 (A review of The Chaos Class)

''In 1 month's time we'll leave a whole term behind, with it's sweet and not so sweet memories.''

A high school drama focusing on the story of the Hababam class and the teachers whom fall victim to their tricks and jokes. A comedy from Turkey.

Münir Özkul: Kel Mahmut

The opening quote sums up Hababam sinifi with it's sweet memories and not so sweet memories. Nostalgia of trickster class mates with their failures and successes against their peers; All the scenes and storytelling adds up to a relative success especially with it's indigenous people and characters. Turkish people love this film simply because they can relate to it, and it's part of a historical comedy genre much akin to Western English Carry On films back in the days of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Directed by Ertem Egilmez, Writers: Umur Bugay and Rifat Ilgaz whom wrote the novel which inspired the film's creation have created a heart felt piece which still fares pretty well in today's World cinema.
The cast all newly acquired tastes for me, equally perform well with distinctively outlandish temperament and overt looking poise.
Kemal Sunal, Münir Özkul, Tarik Akan, Adile Nasit, Hafize Ana...A few of the cast members who add spice to the proceedings, whom add laughs galore with scene after scene of fun and high school shenanigans.
When clever jokes arise with the students tricking their teachers that they are soldiers and he is back in his youthful days fighting a war, or when a cat is rocketed into a chaotic room of blurry hurricane students, or even when a contest begins and they have ear pieces to cheat, you know this is going to keep your attention and entertain you throughout the venture. This is an ordeal which you will wish to repeat and experience time and time again.

What's lovely about Hababam sinifi is that it teaches us moral lessons concerning growing up and taking responsibility for our prerequisite actions. It makes us fall in love with the characters and relate to them, to the teacher Mahmut the bald, whom tries so hard to help every pupil he teaches. It's lovely to watch indeed. When one of the students is discovered to have a child on the premises what does Mahmut do? He sympathizes and tries to help. Really Mahmut is the friend and parent these young students never had. He cares in a way which is truly inspiring and loving to comprehend and envisage.

Let's face it. Hababam sinifi may not be a masterpiece but it's obvious it isn't trying to be, it's just being itself and being fun and a laugh without the need for complexities. Sure it has flaws but these flaws grow on you, prosper and love.
Hababam sinifi is a Turkish treat which I feel outsiders as well as native Turks will enjoy if you love these kind of stories. It's a lovely way to finish the day and unwind with characters whom are everyday people who yes maybe are slightly lazy, maybe they are no saints...But end of the day again they aren't trying to be anything but themselves.
It's also morally educational and evolutionary explanatory of human behaviour thus we see the changes and journey of all the characters through the term which is duly clever and prosperous to the venture.

Thus Hababam sinifi is an honest, comedic account of young men reminiscent of perhaps If or as earlier stated Carry On flicks.
Overall, my advice would be to check Hababam sinifi out. You never know? You may be pleasantly surprised you didn't miss this joyous occasion.

''And who are they?''
''Your future pupils, sir.''

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