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Life is like the surf.

Posted : 9 years ago on 10 November 2009 08:20 (A review of And Your Mother Too)

''Truth is cool but unattainable... the truth is totally amazing, but you can't ever reach it.''

In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.

Maribel Verdu: Luisa

A Mexican rite of passage story framed as a road movie, Y tu mama tambien is funny, rude and eventually quite touching. The road in question leads to an imagined beach named Heaven's Mouth, the spontaneously created fantasy of two horny sex mad seventeen year-olds, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Tenoch (Diego Luna). Cheekily flirting with Luisa, a 28 year-old from Madrid, the lads unwisely invite her to join them on an unplanned trip to their mythical beach, not for one moment expecting her to say 'yes'. She does, after having her own personal problems.

The motivations of the hormonally-charged Julio and Tenoch are not hard to fathom. They want to get laid, and Luisa duly obliges by seducing each of them in turn. But the seductions prove to be a catalyst for some painful self-discovery as the young men come to realize that they know rather less about women, about each other, and about themselves, than they presume they do. Luisa's motivations remain enigmatic, until a dramatic revelation at the film's climax.

''Who cares who you two fucked when you come that fast!''

Writer-director Alfonso Cuaron is here heavily indebted to Francois Truffaut, whose Jules et Jim this movie strongly resembles in two particular ways. It's not simply in the time-honoured theme of two close male friends besotted by the same alluring and slightly mysterious woman. It's also in the use of the distancing device of a narrator who serves to provide a degree of hindsight to an extremely up-close-and-personal story, locating it in a wider social context. In this latter regard, where Truffaut used newsreel footage, Cuaron cleverly incorporates fleeting glimpses of events taking place along the road as the journey unfolds: fatalities, drug busts, folk festivals. These brief sightings reveal almost subliminally an alternative Mexico of political corruption and economic poverty, but also of the endurance of the human spirit.

It's a world that the over-privileged but under-nurtured Julio and Tenoch have scarcely begun to connect with. Cuaron's knack for displaying social injustice is as acute as his ear for raucous teenage banter and it gives his film a resonance beyond the reach of the average teen comedy. There's a raw, improvised feel to the script that is entirely successful in conveying the fluctuating moods and energy levels of its testosterone-fueled protagonists. Bernal and Luna fling themselves into their roles with engaging enthusiasm and humour. Verdu is pleasingly understated in a role that seems a little under-developed. Perhaps deliberately, Cuaron never allows us to get too close to the heroine.

Y tu mama tambien is an entertaining and perceptive snapshot of a very distinct moment in its characters' lives. Julio and Tenoch are captured on the verge of adulthood, and Luisa on the threshold of a mental and physical journey concluding.

''Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea.''

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An Immortal performance...with mixed storytelling.

Posted : 9 years ago on 10 November 2009 07:57 (A review of Immortal Beloved (1994))

''It is the power of music to carry one directly into the mental state of the composer.''

The life and death of the legendary Ludwig van Beethoven.

Gary Oldman: Ludwig van Beethoven

Firstly, everyone knows Beethoven in his childhood was forced live up to the child prodigy Mozart. A nice analogy can be made with this film, this adaptation, this conjuring of his life. Because of the semi-biographical, semi-fictional nature of the story it is impossible not to compare it to Milos Forman's Amadeus. And where Beethoven (in my opinion) surpassed Mozart later in his career, Immortal Beloved does not. I'm not saying that Immortal Beloved attempts to mimic Amadeus, but the comparison is certainly unavoidable.

If, however, we judge Immortal Beloved in it's own right, it comes out quite well. Gary Oldman's performance is spectacular to say the least and carries the story into the heavens.
The story is very well constructed, although it is sometimes buried under by psychological complexity of its character. It seems to want to focus on to many aspects of Beethoven's personality, life, and surroundings all at once. A little more simplicity might have served the story more believability. The plot, though historically inaccurate in places, has enough impact to satisfy all the mystery and questions that arise in the web of storytelling. And though it very probably didn't happen that way, it serves very well to explain Beethoven's psychological problem, and, in all fairness cast this into legend rather than mythical proportions.

''You think that because I do not stop you, that I am not listening.''

So if all this is so right, what's wrong with it? The flaws of Immortal Beloved, I feel, stem mostly in the often unjustly ignored facets of mixed cinematography. The composition though never irritating, also never over come our senses. The same goes for the colours, they are always good, but are never a reflection of the emotions in the powerful extreme sense. This applies to the editing and use of music as well. And it is in these respects especially that Immortal Beloved does not reach the greatness of the emotion grabbing Amadeus.

All in all a powerhouse of a story with amazing potential. Tons of praise to Gary Oldman in one of the best performances of his career. The movie is very well researched in places and epic in it's own ambition. That these ambitions aren't completely fulfilled is an immortal tragedy.

For those who are interested what parts of the movie are historically correct (which one tends to wonder when watching a biopic like this), all major characters are correct, as are the basic relations between them. the letter around which the story revolves actually exists, and most anecdotes truly happened in some shape or form. Historians and music scholars alike are still baffled about the identity of the immortal beloved...thus mirroring the mixed opinions of this adaptation, but certainly there is no doubt in my mind, Gary Oldman gives a performance worthy of repeated viewing alone, saving Immortal Beloved from disaster.

''The comedy is over.''

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The shining example of horror.

Posted : 9 years ago on 10 November 2009 06:23 (A review of The Shining)

''Darling. Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just gonna bash your brains in. I'm gonna bash 'em right the fuck in. Ha, ha.''

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Jack Nicholson: Jack Torrance

Shelley Duvall: Wendy Torrance

The Shining as soon as it begins, as soon as the music eerily plays and the landscape zooms in and past, you instantly know this is a piece by Kubrick. I mean it's so blindingly obvious.

The film is based on Stephen King's novel and the combination of Stanley Kubrick bringing it to life on the big screen, we have before us gold.
We get a boy who right from the off is made apparent he has a psychic gift and visions of things best not seen.
Danny Lloyd plays Danny Torrance with remarkable skill for a boy so young which is a wonder to behold.
Shelley Duvall who portrays Wendy really annoyed the hell out of me. I mean here we have this strange looking woman who delivers her lines in such a flimsy fashion, and I mean some of the clothes she wears are so distasteful it makes The Shining in areas a horror movie for all the wrong reasons. Her scared disposition is believable in parts though and she doesn't do a totally bad job.
Moving on to the main attraction of Shining and yes you have guessed it, it's Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance who steals the limelight and ultimately the show. He's so insanely nuts and off the chain, my humour called for me to laugh every single time he went psychopathic. I mean he totally captures and freezes onto frame the sheer madness of Jack's character. Whether it be visions from his mind perhaps of figures from the past or real supernatural influences from the Hotel, we are treated to his mind and left to make up our own conclusions. Are the figures real or merely part of his sub conscious being drawn out? It's definitely an excuse for discussion and Jack going completely ape is an excuse to re-watch this horror masterpiece.

''Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chin? Well then I'll huff and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.''

The Shining features some of the most warped music which reminded me of the other greats of Kubrick like 2001 and Orange. The Cinematography especially the last scene in the dizzying maze and the start with the countryside being shown is virtually faultless.

Be it the creepy visions the boy has of past occurrences, rooms splashing with blood, or a pair of twins who were blatantly murdered by a previous caretaker. Be it Jack's spiraling maddened journey into the dark side, or his conversations with a surreal bar man who appears to be from the past and part of Jack's weathered conscience. Shining really shines as a masterful piece in the horror stakes and will remain a shining performance for Jack Nicholson and a directorial achievement for the late Kubrick.
The REDRUM and ''HERE'S JOHNNY!'' has become iconic and it's not hard to see why.

Overall I felt Shining is a work of genius that obviously will be replicated and copied by many more horror films trying to achieve the same shocking outcome but alas they all pale in comparison. The ending wasn't as bloodthirsty as I would of hoped, and the closing part with him in the picture wasn't totally understood by me. But the more I think about it, the cleverer it appears to be, like The Shining is telling me Jack has been consumed and become one with a Hotel and place that has buried an ancient angry foreboding embodiment of anger.

The shining grand achievement of Kubrick.

''Heeere's Johnny!''

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Waterfront refuses to lose and comes out a winner.

Posted : 9 years ago on 6 November 2009 10:54 (A review of On the Waterfront (1954))

''You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley.''

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Marlon Brando: Terry Malloy

Karl Malden: Father Barry

Lee J. Cobb: Johnny Friendly

Rod Steiger: Charley 'the Gent' Malloy

On The Waterfront tells the captivating story of Terry Malloy previously an Ex-Fighter and now currently doing errands for Johnny Friendly. The Gangster-esque turbulent trouble that follows, we the viewers are treated to, begin when Terry leads an interfering yet charitable and good worker to his demise on a roof by some of Johnny's men.

Waterfront then proceeds to introduce characters and an unlikely romance blossoming out of the impending strife. When Terry meets Edie Doyle you can feel the chemistry there between them but also the revelations that lie, lurking under the surface about her brother who happens to be the worker who died.
The complications are apparent and Waterfront does not hide this in any way.
Terry's guilt is plain to see although really it isn't all his fault. What's fascinating to behold is the evolution of his character, the change or turn if you will, which manifests as his redemption. What we find is that Terry at heart is a good soul and that shines ever so brightly amongst the darkness that is the Waterfront.

Marlon Brando as Terry justly won Best Actor for his performance in Waterfront in 1954. To comprehend what that means you really should witness this pivotal man at work and this film, absorb yourself and bask in it's glory.
Eva Marie Saint as Edie Doyle gives a connection of immense magnitude with Marlon who deserves credit again for her, as mentioned before, chemistry.
Lee J. Cobb as Johnny Friendly plays a good lead Mobster and a fitting villain. Another Vintage Actor from a fave film of mine 12 Angry Men.
Rod Steiger as Charley the Gent manages to play the crooked brother with flying colours.
Karl Malden as Father Barry sees whats happening to the people around him, sees the corruption and helps Terry see it too. Wonderful to behold as he is jeered by his fellows.

Directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg, you instantly know you've struck gold. A drama that haunts, that electrifies and leaves you in awe.

The harshness and hardship of the Waterfront is wonderfully realised. The taint of the Mob has infected and submerged the dock, not to mention it's denizens, as Terry begins to see this and stand up against it, this is what makes great men great. Without a doubt, Waterfront is what makes a film great, like it's hero Terry, it refuses to be beaten down and comes out triumphant.

A timeless masterpiece.

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Freedom Forever!

Posted : 9 years ago on 6 November 2009 03:42 (A review of Braveheart)

''It's all for nothing if you don't have freedom.''

William Wallace, a commoner, unites the 13th Century Scots in their battle to overthrow English rule.

Mel Gibson: William Wallace

Braveheart is a story blessed with many endearing nobilities and notions, but more than anything a dual sense of honour and liberty: on the one side William Wallace, a legendary figure who accomplished the impossible by leading the Scots when no one else would; and on the other hand Mel Gibson, who demonstrated with this movie a directorial talent that many of us doubted. Previously, I had Mel labeled as a likable albeit type-cast action hero from series such as Mad Max or Lethal Weapon. His dual personality never indicated a passion for directing, an intensely romantic and dramatic epic. The Man Without a Face proved that Gibson could direct a good film, Braveheart proved that he could direct a great one.

Gibson's greatest achievement in Braveheart (besides the mesmerising battle sequences) is that he invoked excellent performances from the entire cast: every actor and actress (even those who appear for only a few moments) hits exactly the right mark. In fact, I'm outraged that Braveheart received no Oscar nominations for its acting: Why honour Gibson as Best Director of 1995, yet ignore the performances which are the fruits of his labours? I'm not saying that any particular person in Braveheart (Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Angus McFadyen) should have won an acting Oscar, it's the fact that nobody was even nominated that bothers me.

I am aware that this film is at times historically inaccurate: Even in 1995, when I first saw Braveheart, I knew enough military history to know that the battles of Sterling and Falkirk were not being accurately presented. But this awareness did not and does not interfere with my enjoyment of the movie, because Braveheart exists outside the borders of history: mirroring the same artistic license as Dances With Wolves, Robin Hood, The Last of the Mohicans, Gladiator and The Three Musketeers, it is an emotionally rich epic inspired by history yet not confined to it's chains, less concerned with accuracy to every detail than with the eternal struggles of good and evil, love and hatred, freedom and oppression. And isn't that enough? Braveheart is one of the most stirring films of storytelling: If you can't reconcile yourself to its inaccuracies and simply enjoy it on its own terms, then maybe you are missing the point.

Patrick McGoohan's performance as Longshanks has, in my opinion, not received nearly enough praise: He masterfully plays the king as a man who embodies the phrase 'absolute power corrupts absolutely'; he commands an entire nation, yet covets what he does not or cannot have. He answers to no one, and can barely restrain himself: he does not even try to conceal his contempt for his homosexual son, his lust for his daughter-in-law, his rage against any obstacle to his will. The performance is also physically impressive. We see the king gradually consumed by tuberculosis through the movie, and McGoohan makes the ordeal so believable that, though Longshanks is unrepentant to the end, we are moved to feel remorse for him in spite of everything.

Besides McGoohan, Angus McFadyen (as Robert the Bruce) gives the most impressive performance in Braveheart. When I first saw the movie, I identified with William Wallace; but now I identify with Robert the Bruce, who is in fact the key figure of the story. He is not a great man like Wallace, but he wants to be great, and he idolizes Wallace so much that he is almost overwhelmed to hear Wallace tell him "If you would lead us, I would follow you." But the Bruce is warned by his sly, leperous father (played unforgettably by the late Ian Bannen beneath Oscar-winning makeup) to not live a life of action, but rather a life of calculation. As he wrestles with the dual influences of Wallace and his father, he embodies a theme at the movie's heart: the eternal conflict between youth and age, idealism and cynicism, uncompromising heroism and craven opportunistic nature.

When I first saw Braveheart, I was most impressed by the power of its battle sequences; after seven years, I am most impressed by the enduring power of its story. It is a great movie because it seriously argues that one man's lifelong personal experiences and struggle can make a difference, if not in the world then at least in the lives of others, it is a great movie because it is ultimately an inspiring story of perseverance in the face of considerable brutality and heartbreak, greatness because a thousand words are not adequate to express all of its emotional power and impact. I do not have the heart to give Braveheart less than a perfect score, even if I wished, because it is much more to me than mere entertainment...It is a constant reminder to me that I must never lose heart, to stand up for what one believes in, to be true to ones self.

"You have bled with Wallace...now bleed with me!"

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A dream of patriotism.

Posted : 9 years ago on 4 November 2009 02:46 (A review of The Patriot)

''I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear.''

Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

Mel Gibson: Benjamin Martin

Films exist for lots of reasons but especially - to entertain as well as educate. In this regard, The Patriot does a fine job in thrilling us. The acting is excellent, and all the characters were well cast in their respective roles. The pacing was generally good, and I was never tired due to the unrelenting drama and action which unfolded. The battle scenes were exceptionally brutal, which must be typical of combat situations throughout history. Most war films depicting the American Revolution are fairly sanitized or rely upon drama and acting to carry the story. Not so with Patriot - I'm surprised they didn't try to depict the carnage that undoubtedly resulted from firing grapeshot or cannister shots.

Although realism is not typically a word I would choose for any film, I felt that the depiction of combat here was probably much more realistic. Many history books will try to teach us that warfare in the 18th century was a bit of a gentleman competition of sorts, where quarter was given if asked, and honour was observed in such matters as the beginning and end of conflict, prisoner exchanges, and the like. This may have sometimes been the case between fully professional forces like those of England and France, but such countries seem to have held a different opinion entirely of rebel forces. These were apparently regarded not only with disdain, but outright contempt. Afterall, those guilty of treason have traditionally been treated much more harshly than other enemies.

''You know, it's an ugly business doing one's duty... but just occasionally it's a real pleasure.''

With Patriot it seems to take this probability and run with it. The colonists who fought against England in the American Revolution were regarded as traitors, and were likely treated very harshly if captured or engaged in battle. The British in general were portrayed as pompous and at times villainous, but this is certainly not out of line for the way they undoubtedly felt about the rebels. Concurrently, I'm certain that the colonists who took part in the rebellion had a great deal of contempt for the British as well, but particularly for the Loyalists, or those colonists who remained loyal to and fought for Great Britain.

My criticisms revolve around the flow of the movie. There are many, many tragic scenes that were obviously a plot device to hammer home the horrors of war. I felt that one or two would have sufficed to make such a point, but instead we receive multiple such scenes. Some chopping would have definitely been appreciated.
Jason Isaacs makes for a wonderfully sadistic, villain whom loves being unmerciful and brutal, and the late Heath Ledger excels as Benjamins son. Mel Gibson replicates his hero role from Braveheart, and he really plays reluctant father turned war hero very well.
Overall, Patriot is an intense, interesting take on a theater of the American Revolution that is not often depicted in film. I would recommend it to those who appreciate the genre of historical drama, perfect costumes and for bloody climactic battles.

''Before this war is over, I'm going to kill you.''

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By His wounds we are healed...Love is sacrifice.

Posted : 9 years ago on 4 November 2009 02:21 (A review of The Passion Of The Christ (2004))

''You are My friends. There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends. I cannot be with you much longer, My friends. You cannot go where I am going. My commandment to you after I am gone is this: Love one another. As I have loved you, so love one another.''

A film detailing the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

James Caviezel: Jesus

From the enigmatic beginning to the climactic credits, Passion of the Christ demands full control of ones body, mind and emotion. So visually spectacular and physically effecting, Passion had me literally convulsing and writhing in uncomfort. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, starring Jim Caviezel, is a retelling of the last hours of Jesus Christ in beautiful Aramaic. Believe me when I say that this production is more than a story, more than a movie, this film can only be described as an ethereal spiritual experience.

Remember the fish symbol, remember revolution, remember the people who stand for change in dark times.

This Passion of the Christ is fantastically brutal, gory and sadistically torturous. From beginning to end, blood drenched flesh is smeared across the screen in a ghastly fashion, putting even degenerate SAW or Hostel films to shame. Gibson defends his incredibly graphic depiction by noting that the bible states Jesus was beaten and tortured beyond recognition. I assure you, beaten beyond recognition hardly describes soft tissue being torn to the bone as blood drips into puddles on the ground. The violence shown in this film is unlike other Hollywood violence - it's uncomfortably personal, in effect unforgiving. The scenes are moving, the violence perhaps repetitive, that the chapters appear to take place in your very mind; imagine before you a man being torn to bloody shreds; you're powerless to intervene, you're reduced to a spectator.
Jesus the carpenter, the healer, the revolutionary of an age... The twelve disciples show friends ultimately can betray you. This doesn't stop you from loving them regardless of their actions or sins.
Everyone betrays him and even his own disciples. Anyone who has read the Gospel of Judas may also note that Jesus asks or rather commands Judas to make a great sacrifice as well: He tells him to betray him and this is also significant and emotionally charged, powerful.

''You have heard it said you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For if you love only those who love you, what reward is there in that?''

As any appreciator of the finer things in film might see, The Passion of the Christ is artistic genius. Mel Gibson stated that his film follows the last 12 hours of Christ in accordance to the Gospel, and although biblical scholars have confirmed this to be true, it is also true that a certain artistic license was taken to particular moments in the story. Nothing anti-biblical was added, but inside a sense deep meaning was inserted through symbols and actions not actually recorded in the gospels. This artistry serves to aid the story and engage the audience - artistically and culturally, expect nothing less that a film superbly crafted. The aramic language also gives the film and story a realistic essence that the audience can taste, hear and feel. You are witnessing a struggle.
Set your expectations high, this one can handle them.

No matter your personal background, no matter your views on race or ideology, no matter your beliefs on the afterlife or views on heaven, this Passion needs to be seen. The art, the culture, and the magnificence - see The Passion of the Christ and you will have seen a glimpse of history spanning over two thousand years ago.

''Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.''

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The great escape.

Posted : 9 years ago on 1 November 2009 07:46 (A review of Anything For Her)

''You have to be a criminal born...''

With no legal means left to him, a high school teacher devises a daring plan to rescue his wrongfully imprisoned wife from jail.

Vincent Lindon: Julien

Supported by an excellent script by the director, outstanding cinematography by Alain Duplaintier, and a moody score by Klaus Badelt, Anything For Her is entertaining, riveting, and ultimately a very touching portrait of love. None of it would be very convincing, however, if not for the outstanding performances of Lindon and Kruger, especially Lindon whose sudden personality change requires great skill to put into action. Lindon's eyes convey powerful emotion that is not a look of desperation but rather one of strong and unyielding determination that serves as a catalyst for the events that build to the film's heart pounding climax. Although Anything For Her has been criticized for being "implausible", when an individual's every act is consumed with passion and overwhelming intention, then the implausible will most certainly become the plausible.

Julien is an unprepossessing French teacher, happily married to Lisa (Diane Kruger), a wife he deeply loves. Their idyllic suburban life is rudely interrupted, however, when the police shockingly crash their home and arrest Lisa on suspicion of the brutal murder of her boss. With Lisa's fingerprints on the weapon, and the victim's blood on her jacket, she is found guilty and sentenced to twenty years in prison. If you like your suspense powerful and unnerving, do not hesitate to seek out Anything For Her (Pour Elle), the debut effort of French director Fred CavayƩ, an enormously entertaining thriller that delivers a high level of satisfaction.

Imprisoned for a crime she probably did not commit (the director offers two possible scenarios but it is clear which one is the more likely), Lisa, still proclaiming her innocence, faces long, dark days ahead without her husband and their young son Oscar (Lancelot Roch). Overwhelmed with sadness, Julien becomes single-minded in his drive to reunite the family. After three years, when his attorney tells him that Lisa stands no chance before the Appeals Court and Lisa becomes suicidal, refusing to take her insulin shots, Julien knows that he must take matters into his own hands and will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal.

Overall, Anything for her is a tense thriller, a story of unfortunately being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and of how sometimes there are gaps in any man made law. Gaps which elude justice, fairness and a murky line between finding the guilty and sparing the innocent. Anything for her really shows that one does anything for love, for the ones they love, even in the face of unrelenting danger. This is a must see for any foreign film lover, for any lover of indie films, for a glimpse and depiction of despair, and the miraculous hope for the hero's success in his goal. A must see.

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A powerful story of change and tradition meeting.

Posted : 9 years ago on 25 October 2009 06:21 (A review of Whale Rider (2002))

''My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs.''

A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.

Keisha Castle-Hughes: Paikea

Whale Rider receives its namesake from the legend, a legend involving the Maori people coming to New Zealand as a result of their patriarch riding there many generations ago, from Hawaiki upon the back of a whale.
Niki Caro writes and directs an adaptation concerning a deeply engrossing book.
The book "The Whale Rider" is given life; The writing by Witi Ihimaera is brought to the big screen with emotion and power.

After many studies of language, farming, artifacts and sailing techniques, experts seem to agree that 'Hawaiki' is in fact the Huahine Island in French Polynesia, the Society Islands, northwest of Tahiti and perhaps 3000 miles northeast of New Zealand. It has been fairly firmly established that all of the Polynesian peoples originated from Eastern Asians who developed skills to build and correctly navigate large ocean-going douple-hulled canoes, which could transport not only people but also livestock including dogs, pigs, and chickens plus seeds and plants.
Today it is believed that the Maori in New Zealand and the natives Hawaiians originated from the same Polynesian people.

This background is necessary to fully appreciate the movie, Whale Rider while ultimately a simple story of family pride and honour.
Tradition has it that the first-born son of the chief will be groomed to become the next chief.
Although Koro's son is not interested, instead wants to go to Europe and pursue his passion for art. His wife gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, but the mother and son die at childbirth, leaving only the daughter, Paikea or Pai for short. But tradition does not allow a girl to become chief.
Whale Rider requires alot of thought and detail to capture your heart. The sheer beauty of the film conveyed not just through the breathtaking scenery including vast landscapes, tantalizing oceans stretching out into the horizon or underwater shades of blue and green, but one of family, of people and of love, tradition and a bond that remains unbreakable.
This makes Whale Rider beautiful not just to look at but on a whole new level that transcends anything we see.

Be it Koro, perfectly played by Rawiri Paratene, whom stubbornly sticks to tradition and rests all his hopes on a boy to carry on his tribes legacy. Not realizing that what he has is already before him, regardless of gender and a breaking from tradition.
Cliff Curtis as Porourangi also is breaking from his traditional roots as mentioned previously. His acting and bond with Paikea wonderfully shown in a scene with them in the night where they talk about Koro not wanting them and this for me really moved me and made me begin to cry. End of the day acceptance is important, and not being wanted is the most painful thing imaginable. We all want to be loved and to be appreciated and valued and Whale Rider does a perfect job of capturing this as best it can, effortlessly.
Keisha Castle-Hughes as Paikea really ends up being the star of the show, showing pure talent and believability. Just watching her in the play, reciting a memorized verse for Koro tears rolling down her cheeks, shows how immersed she is in the role of Paikea. In my mind she IS Paikea and thats how far the believability for me goes, and thats all the way.
Also I'd like to mention Vicky Haughton as Nanny Flowers who was totally lovely in her role as a loving yet firm woman who shows her love for her family, for Paikei and for Koro.
Whale Rider cleverly plays on your emotions until the very end, and so immersed, that I totally felt as if I was part of this world, part of their life. When a film like Rider achieves this successful capturing of your soul and captivates you so intensively you are left breathless.
I just know that Maori people and customs, these warriors of old, these legendary men and women, are fascinating. Rooted in creativity, spirituality and respectful hunters, fighters and a ritualistic,magical nurturers, thus I know I am totally and completely in awe and fascinated by these ancient ones.

Whale Rider's story of Paikea Apirana, is like the Ocean. Infinite and forever connected, each time you immerse yourself into it, you always see the beauty.
Like rain drops that fall down from the sky, every single tear from the heavens above, of Paikei riding her people's symbolic Whale. That is how I feel about Whale Rider, truly beautiful, like a vision of heaven itself.

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There will be blood in Eden.

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 23 October 2009 07:50 (A review of Antichrist)

''What do you think is supposed to happen in the woods?''

A grieving couple retreats to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

Willem Dafoe: He
Charlotte Gainsbourg: She

Well, well, well...Where to begin with Antichrist? I went into the cinema expecting something totally bizarre, and what I viewed certainly didn't disappoint in the slightest. Antichrist focuses on a couple, whom suffer a terrible tragedy. We experience sequences which lead up to their son dying, and then the husband being a doctor, tries to console his wife out of her grieving state of mind. Sometimes black and white is cleverly used throughout the film which intensifies the mood and feel of the story.

Quite intelligently, Antichrist divides itself into chapters, each chapter representing an emotional reference of pain or sadness linked with the couple, and of the inevitable evil emerging forth from the truth coming out into the open gradually.
I find it fascinating that the film has a minimal cast, I mean Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg are the only two main roles in the entire film, and their acting and performances really are seriously incredible and beyond words. The second half of Antichrist really descends into shock and disbelief and will have you on the edge of your seat.

The director and writer of Antichrist Lars Von Trier whom also worked on Dancer in the Dark, really expresses himself here; His emotions and mind come forth into a glorious palette of film. He really succeeds in getting into the dark recesses of where humanity can go, the sexual desire of man and woman, the lustful and destructive nature of our blackest natures. Antichrist also uses many slow sequences, so artistically and meaningful its actually sometimes like watching a piece of moving art. Scenes in which a deer, a fox and a bird at different times provide symbolic references to religious pagan significance, dating back to the middle ages. The more we discover in Antichrist, the more we find out about the psyche of the man and more importantly the woman too. The forest Eden a playground for evil, the devil and Satan supposedly being in nature. Her research into the history of the woods proves grim, as her deranged thinking of evil in women emerges.

Overall, Antichrist is a shocking psychological journey evolving into one of insanity, evil and chaos. I mean, a talking fox, the stabbing of a leg with a lethal weight, and the awkward scene of scissors and blood is sometimes so hard to watch, you cannot find yourself looking away. The revelations and answers Antichrist produces satisfy and the ending will provide debate and discussion for years to come. Pleasingly this is a story that requires deep thought, deep patience and an open mind. I love the fact Antichrist will definitely split people and critics down the middle, and when a film can make you either love or hate it, then it definitely should be considered and unprecedented triumph.

''A crying woman is a scheming woman.''

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