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The farmers have won. We have lost.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 21 August 2008 10:25 (A review of Seven Samurai (1954))

''What's the use of worrying about your beard when your head's about to be taken?''

A poor village under attack by bandits recruit seven unemployed samurai to help them defend against the foes.

Takashi Shimura: Kambei Shimada

Toshirô Mifune: Kikuchiyo

Akira Kurosawa had recently, and very quickly, become one of my all-time favourite directors. I had only seen four of his films and given each and every one of them my highest rating and approval. His greatest, and undoubtedly his most popular film was in 1954 epic Shichinin no samurai. The top-selling movie out of Japan for the year and won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Picture. Present day, it is ranked one of the greatest motion pictures ever, and it rightfully holds this honour still.

This is a spectacular story; as well as film. Full of wonderful characters, envisioned scenery, and great performances all around; it is Kurosawa's fantastic story about a poor farming village in 16th century Japan being consistently placed under attack by marauding bandits. Facing starvation if the bandits raid them again, the peasants fearfully and reluctantly turn to seven unemployed samurai to defend themselves.

There is no weak foundation to Seven Samurai. One of its greatest aspects is its characters. Every single one of them, farmer or samurai, is given tremendous development, making them all memorable. This is one of those films where if a character is eliminated, you suddenly find yourself missing their presence on the film; because you got to know them so well. I will not name him, but there was one ill-fated character in the film when, after he died, I felt kind of cheerless because I had come to respect him as a human being instead of an actor performing in front of a camera and reading out scripted dialogue. If you were to ask me which character was my favorite, I would be tied between two of them. The characters played by Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune, two of the finest Japanese actors who ever breathed air.

Another thing I admire in Shichinin no samurai is the feeling of authenticity. The feeling that it all scenes could really have occurred. There are very few moments where the unbelievable happens, as most action movies tend to drift towards. One thing I admired was the antagonists of the film: the bandits. Unlike most Hollywood movies where the bad guys have names and are introduced as characters to make them effective, the bandits in Seven Samurai all have no names. We only know them as the bandits and that is appropriate because that's all the main characters know them as too. Just marauding, murdering bandits who must be defeated as soon as possible.

Kurosawa was undoubtedly one of the most influential directors of all time and that is clear in this film. Many of the transitions and techniques that motion pictures today seem to follow on a conventional level were inspired by this film: slow-motion, a fade wipe between scenes like what you see in the Star Wars movies; using the weather to affect emotion and atmosphere, a team forming to take on a larger enemy, the list goes on. The movie was so influential that it was remade in the United States as The Magnificent Seven(1960). Not as good as its original source; not by a long shot; but considerably effective and noteworthy.

In regards to the film's soundtrack, it's a success. The music was composed by Fumio Hayasaka and it's simply wonderous. We seldom hear any of it; when we do, its an efficacious presence of impact. The opening score is very effective and the music that plays when the farmers are searching for samurai in the town remains one of my favourite soundtrack pieces today; it penetrates your soul.

There is one thing in the film that might ward off some viewers. It is long. At over three and a half hours in length, some people will be cautious before sitting down to view it and some will lose their patience; but to those who can sit down and enjoy a film no matter how long it lasts, it will be realized as fast-moving storytelling. Even the long takes and the slow pacing seems surrealist fast because it is so well-written and so masterfully directed by Kurosawa.
Akiro Kurosawa gives us one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.

''The farmers have won. We have lost.''

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Truth lies with perspective.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 21 August 2008 10:23 (A review of Rashomon)

''It's human to lie. Most of the time we can't even be honest with ourselves.''

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Toshirô Mifune: Tajômaru

Ironically, Japanese critics were not enthusiastic about Rashomon when it was released in 50's Japan.
In today's world, however, Rashomon is generally considered to be the film that introduced both director Akira Kurosawa and Japanese cinema to the Western parts of the globe.
Since its release Rashomon has been adapted as a Broadway play and even remade as a Western. Paving the way and inspiring Western films such as The Killing, Last Year at Marienbad and Four Times a Night; Made in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Even The Usual Suspects and Reservoir Dogs from present day Cinema have copied the narrative slant that Rashomon took many years before in 1950.
Often cited as the film that prompted The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create an award for Best Foreign Language film. It is widely regarded as a masterwork of world cinema.

Set in 12th Century Japan, the film's premise is at once both very simple yet very complicated.
The film depicts the rape of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband, through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, including the bandit/rapist, the wife, the dead man speaking through a medium (Fumiko Honma), and lastly the narrator, the one witness that seems the most objective and least biased. Whilst the stories are mutually contradictory only the final version is unmotivated by other factors. Accepting the final version as the truth (the now common technique of film and TV of only explaining the truth last was not a universal approach at that time) explains why in each other version "the truth" was worse than admitting to the killing, and it is precisely this assessment which gives the film its power, and this theme which is echoed in other works.
The story unfolds in flashback as the four characters—the bandit Tajōmaru (Toshirō Mifune), the samurai's wife (Machiko Kyō), the murdered samurai (Masayuki Mori), and the nameless woodcutter (Takashi Shimura)—recount the events of one afternoon in a grove. The first three versions are told by the priest (Minoru Chiaki), who was present at the trial as a witness, having crossed paths with the couple on the road just prior to the events. Each of these versions has a response of "lies" from the woodcutter. The final version comes direct from the woodcutter, as the only witness (but he did not say this version to the court). All versions are told to a ribald commoner (Kichijiro Ueda) as they wait out a rainstorm in a ruined gatehouse identified by a sign as Rashōmon.

Rashomon has forever been among favourites of Kurosawa's directional works and it deserves every praise and Award acquired. Why? Simply because the story follows a unique narrative and story telling format never before seen at the time, in the World of Cinema.
During Akira's lifetime, he managed to confirm himself as one of the world's leading film-makers. A film maker whom created cinema which was impossible to compare, and his influence still resounds within even the most mainstream works from today. For example, the non-linear styling structure of Rashomon has been respectfully woven into numerous films since.
Kurosawa's admiration for silent film and modern art can be seen in the film's minimalist sets. Kurosawa felt that sound cinema multiplies the complexity of a film: "Cinematic sound is never merely accompaniment, never merely what the sound machine caught while you took the scene. Real sound does not merely add to the images, it multiplies it." Regarding Rashomon, Kurosawa said, "I like silent pictures and I always have ... I wanted to restore some of this beauty. I thought of it, I remember in this way: one of techniques of modern art is simplification, and that I must therefore simplify this film."
Accordingly, there are only three settings in the film: Rashōmon gate, the woods and the courtyard. The gate and the courtyard are very simply constructed and the woodland is real. This is partly due to the low budget that Kurosawa received from Daiei Studios.

''I'm the one who should be ashamed. I don't understand my own soul.''

Rashomon was the work which propelled the career of Kurosawa, even though it was not widely regarded in its own country at the time, it was hailed by the critics of the Western world as a definitive masterpiece.
Rashomon is the compressed story of an innocent woman's rape and her husband's murder, performed by a ruthless bandit (acted out by Kurosawa's long-time muse, Toshirô Mifune).
Even though the bandit is caught and consequently put on trial, the seemingly simple crime soon becomes questionably more complicated as it is recounted from four individually detached eye-witness perspectives. Posing many philosophical and debatable questions for the viewer, the picture asks which story is the one to believe, through -what was at the time and still remains- a highly stylized storytelling technique. Establishing a verdict upon the heinous crime in Rashomon is as much an ordeal as the crime itself because it proves to be an incident which provokes moral questioning and fierce debate.

The film-making techniques used in Rashomon gave birth to a distinctive style that Kurosawa was prepared to develop further in his later works, which can be seen in films such as Yojimbo and Shichinin no samurai.
Level-headed pragmatism plagued Kurosawa's features throughout his earlier years; This was something that came as an advantage for his films, being that the characters (even the bad) portrayed in his films were genuine people you could feel compassion and remorse for.
Also, Kurosawa began to define genres throughout the 1950s and 1960s, while also bringing to light some now-popular methods of camera movement, e.g. Dutch angles, revolving shots and amplified close-ups.
Symbolism also runs rampant throughout the film and much has been written purely revolving around this subject. Cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa directly filmed the sun through the leaves of the trees, as if to show the light of truth becoming obscured. The gatehouse that we continually return to as the 'home' location for the storytelling serves as a visual metaphor for a gateway into the story, and the fact that the three men at the gate gradually tear it down and burn it as the stories are told is a further insight into the nature, concerning the truth of what they are telling.

For those who question the film's offbeat narrative structure, they should ask themselves whether or not the cut-throat editing is there as a means of symbolising the colliding viewpoints. I consider this to be a daring means of combining humanitarian lies and honesty, also resulting in a means of creating a disorientating, volatile impression upon film itself.
With Rashômon, Kurosawa's admiration for silent cinema is seen yet again; The minimalist set-pieces are a contrast to the complex storytelling procedure that his work embodies and captures. The ambiguity of Rashômon is detailed through subtly metaphorical cinematography and lighting techniques. The setting of the woods equalling a display of the work's central atmosphere (intrigue, depth) and the shadows periodically depicting a loss of empathy and symbolizing the isolated danger of the reflective surroundings.

Kurosawa's skill is not just restricted to dialogue and corresponding relationships; His visual acuity helps accentuate these themes. When the story begins, the woods is magical, it is alive and retaining intrigue. It is a woods of fairy tale proportions, with mystical breezes and tranquil streams.
As Rashomon progresses, the woods lose more and more of their mystical quality and become dirty, dry and ultimately real.
By the time the battle between the husband and the bandit is played out in a final representation, it is no longer a valiant battle of skill against two well-versed opponents, it is a stressful, scary affair that has the two kicking up more dust than swinging their blades. The dust itself shows the degradation of the story, that is Rashomon, coming away from the abstract qualities, qualities again attempting to grasp justice and truth.

If we accept the last version from The Woodcutter to be true we can assess what motivated each different story version regarding events that transpired. The truth appears to be a sorry but realistic state of affairs, filled with shame and cowardice. It must be remembered that all parties were present and all know the true sequence of events. There is therefore motivation behind each response.
In the bandit's version he accepts blame, but makes the fight appear an honourable and heroic battle. He therefore retains his reputation as a fierce and manly warrior.
In the wife's version, given that the truth lays alot of blame on her for inciting the duel, she has to appease for her actions. Morally she feels guilty for his death and so she accepts direct blame by saying she stabbed him.
The medium's version requires two interpretations: one if you accept that spirits can speak through a medium; a second if you presume it is the medium themselves giving this interpretation of events. If seen from the viewpoint of the now dead samurai, he has reason to be ashamed. Taking full blame for his own death, pardoning the bandit, and stating that his wife was largely to blame for the duel this is perhaps a fair approach. If we presume this version to be the invention of the medium, this interpretation has a slightly different slant (because they do not know the true events).
In this case, assembling information from the other witnesses paints a broad picture. Choosing a suicide option lays less blame on the two survivors and can be seen as a damage-limitation exercise.
However, the overall issue here is that one can be on a morally higher ground by admitting to a murder rather than admitting to other actual actions, and this is the revelation of the film.

Rashomon proves that truth lies with perspective. Lies can be used for selfish motivations yet also sometimes with good intentions; It teaches the treachery of humanity yet rekindles hope by the Woodcutter redeeming Man.
Did the Woodcutter steal the dagger from the murder scene? Maybe. Was it for selfish reasons? I don't believe so. The Commoner says all humanity is motivated by self interest and selfish impulses. Yet he is proved wrong.
The baby the three discover at the end prompts the priest and Woodcutter when alone together to reveal how selfless humanity can be. The woodcutter has six children, and despite all of this, he accepts the child as his own. So, if he did take the dagger it wasn't for selfish inclinations but to provide and care for his family. This reasserts glimmers of hope and redemption for humanity in the eyes of the priest and indeed audience.

''We all want to forget something, so we tell stories. It's easier that way.''

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Not Fading away...

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 20 August 2008 11:20 (A review of Highlander (1986))

''There can be only one!''

He fought his first battle on the Scottish Highlands in 1536. He will fight his greatest battle on the streets of New York City in 1986. His name is Connor MacLeod. He is immortal.

Christopher Lambert: Connor 'The Highlander' MacLeod

There is an important part missing in the US cut of Highlander.
During World War II, MacLeod finds an orphaned little girl hiding amongst ruins. When a Nazi guns them down, his body shields hers, absorbing the bullets, and they both fall. In answer to her amazed, "You're still alive?", he flashes that winning smile and whispers, "Hey, it's a kind of magic!"

We learn that the orphan is his present secretary, Rachel, now an attractive older woman, whom MacLeod never took as a lover, though it is obvious she spent years yearning for him to do so.

When MacLeod leaves Rachel to face The Kurgan, both knowing it is the last time they will ever see each other, his parting words, ''Hey, it's a kind of magic, lack the tear-jerking poignancy they should possess, for in excluding the war scene, this line is not a callback but simply a cute phrase tangentially apropos to the moment.

It's a kind of lethargic.

Notwithstanding this omission, Highlander is still a fantasy masterstroke, a film of 80s proportions but with nowadays dated effects.
Brought to life by former music-video director, Australian Russell Mulcahy and writers Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood and Larry Ferguson, this tale is so original and well-executed, it is hard to imagine it was not culled from Scottish folk legend. As far as I can tell, there is still no evidence to suggest this.

The opening tracking shots across a frenzied wrestling arena foreshadow how the movie intends to move us in great arcs, with the bulk of humanity becoming a blur, as grander designs are played out. Long before Michael Bay abused the swooping camera pan, Mulcahy utilized it with heady effect for the grandeur it purveyed in tales such as this. The sweep homes in on the hawk eyes of a lone serious figure amidst the multitude of ululating rednecks, Christopher Lambert (A French Actor playing a Scotsman, what the hell??!), who makes his apprehensive way to the parking garage and the first of many charged sword battles! Intrigue is piled high in these first few scenes, as the samurai milieu is juxtaposed with the grittiness and cynicism of modern-day New York, harried talk about blade-steel folded 200 times and millennia-aged weapons.
Look closer, this is a white guy in blue jeans and sneakers wielding a samurai sword, an iconic image, soon to be burned into our minds eye.

After Lambert beheads his immortal opponent and before any questions can be formulated, let alone answered, the Scottish Highlands are revealed in a breath-taking horizontal montage.
A piece of the puzzle is given to us, it is the 16th century and we see Lambert in another role, a young man adorning a kilt and flowing mane, riding into his first battle with his clan. He is Connor MacLeod, of the Highland MacLeods.

Back and forth, between present-day New York and medieval Scotland, in creative transitions, Mulcahy reveals ever more details of MacLeod's storied life until the character of Ramirez (an overdressed Sean Connery, A Scot playing a Spanish Lord, does this ever end??!) fills in all the gaps after his timely appearance and battle-training of the inexperienced Connor.

Ramirez and MacLeod are a breed of Immortals who cannot die unless beheaded. They anticipate The Gathering, a time hence when every remaining Immortal will battle to the death, for There Can Be Only One to claim The Prize,the unknown condition that overcomes the last man standing.

That time is now!!! present-day New York, where MacLeod must face the most malevolent of the last Immortals, The Kurgan (''Better to burn out than fade away!!).

The invented Highlander mythology provided the sturdy skeleton upon which to drape the incredible story. It would nevermore be so seamless, as the film's cult success was its undoing, systematically murdered by its own inappropriate and diabolically inferior sequels and offshoots.

So overall Highlander has some brilliant music especially from Queen and some moving scenes that make me want to watch this time and time again. Admittedly it's plot is abit chaotic and it's effects look a little worn but there's some brilliant originality there.

Connery's closing monologue achieves it's harrowing yet meaningful purpose, as applied to ALL mere mortals: "You are generations being born and dying. You're at one with all living things. Each man's thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend."

"Don't lose your head."

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Love is in the air

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 20 August 2008 10:21 (A review of Definitely, Maybe (2008))

''I wanna marry you because you're the first person that I wanna look at when i wake up in the morning and the only one I wanna kiss goodnight, because...the first time that i saw these hands i couldn't imagine not being able to hold them but mainly when you love someone as much as i love you...getting married is the only thing left to do, so... will you... hum...marry me? ''

''Definitely, maybe... i have to think about it.''

A political consultant tries to explain his impending divorce and past relationships to his 11-year-old daughter.

Ryan Reynolds: Will Hayes

Definitely, Maybe marks a step back from Love Actually's multiple plot threads, opting instead for a brilliantly crafted script played out by a tight ship cast (Kevin Kline was class and very funny in his wee role). Cleverly Definitely, Maybe turns out charisma charged enough not to be soppy, but with lots of loving heart to be touching where it counts.

Screenwriter Adam Brooks, co-writer of Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason and Wimbledon, so assured behind the camera. Maybe it's the unblemished array of vision but beyond a over indulgent voice-over and an odd musical interlude over the opening credits, there's barely a trace of the problems that beleaguered his previous workings.

Ryan Reynolds as Will Hayes results in a acting talent with a beautiful combination of charm, a penchant for comedy, and good looks. He's been repeatedly stuck with bad roles like Blade:Trinity and the flat Smoking Aces but this romance movie shows his talent in spades.

Like most good ideas, Definitely, Maybe has a true similarity to life and love, like a modern remake of the classic Princess Bride, where the child is told a story.
Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin is the kind of adorable whippersnapper who knows she doesn't have to act too much and though she's still growing up, she applies the same sweetness and naivety that bagged her an Oscar nomination in last year's ceremony.

If there's a fault, it's maybe the seesaw of attention divulged to the three women in Will's life: college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks), free spirit April (Isla Fisher), and ambitious intellectual Summer (Perfect Rachel Weisz). All three play gracefully and beautifully, but they're not given a huge amount of screen-time, which soon reveals where the story is leading. That is, however, a minor criticism so definitely, maybe unjust to complain.

There's something about Definitely, Maybe that the inclusion of both Rachel Weisz and Clint Mansel's music that increases and makes my heart really pulse. A fleeting, distant, connection to my favourite film The Fountain that echoes around my feelings for Definitely, Maybe. In a way it has a soul and a message at it's core.


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The Prequel of the Prequel

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 20 August 2008 10:08 (A review of Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008))

''This is where the fun begins!''

As the Clone Wars sweep through the galaxy, the heroic Jedi Knights struggle to maintain order and restore peace...

Matt Lanter: Anakin Skywalker (voice)

Clone Wars interested me mainly due to the fact it's animated and its another story derived from the saga. As soon as it begins we the audience are thrown straight away into the story, leaving us little time to soak it in but we manage.

Clone Wars, obviously is set between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. If you have ever played the Star Wars: Battlefront series of games then you will be right at home with Clone Wars. We have such things as ship dogfights, infantry skirmishes and frantic chases all displayed with gloriously captured animation.

The main story that Clone Wars executes, is one of Jabba the Hutt's son who has been mysteriously kidnapped. Predictably Anakin and Obi-Wan are chosen to sort this matter out while Count Dooku, Ventruss and Sidious do there best to deter them for their own means. General Grievous isn't in this story at all.

The voices are all recognizable to their respective characters although alot of the original actors who took part on the prequels understandably haven't returned. Two I know of that did decide to return were Anthony Daniels and Samuel L Jackson, who as C-3PO and Mace Windu, give their character's life. Although they are mainly sub characters here.
The new voices such as Tom Kane voicing Yoda, or Ian Abercrombie as Palpatine are pretty spot on with their accurate tones and accents.
James Arnold Taylor voicing Obi-Wan Kenobi does a bit too much of a good job elaborating on the English accent a little too much.
Asajj Ventress, the Sith Assassin wasn't in it as much as I thought she would be. She does however make an evil impression and have a memorable light sabre frenzied battle with Obi-Wan which made for some sparkling show of light and colour.

Another nice thing about Clone Wars is the fact that it's got a perfect blend of humour and seriousness. We are treated to the cute little son of Jabba, the Huttlet, Droids saying dumb comical little remarks, and a new apprentice Padawan in the guise of Ahsoka Tano. She injects the story with some much needed freshness.

So on the whole Clone Wars was alot better than I thought it may be. Some fun and brilliantly captured moments, all animated accurately. Only things I was disappointed with, was that posters misled me with, was the fact Yoda has his light Sabre out. In the film he doesn't even use his Sabre, talk about false advertising. Little things like this or the whole sub-plot and diminishing qualities of narration did spoil some of Clone Wars.

On the whole Clone Wars is a brilliant choice for the family, children or anyone who is a fan of animation or Star Wars. Still love the Clone Wars cartoon series they used to have on TV, which even was 2D had alot of depth to it and artistic vision.
The Clone Wars film does the whole thing in 3D and results in a glorious explosion of light, colour, and fun.

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Life isn't like in the movies.Life is much harder.

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 19 August 2008 12:01 (A review of Cinema Paradiso (1988))

''Life isn't like in the movies. Life... is much harder.''

A filmmaker recalls his childhood, when he fell in love with the movies at his village's theater and formed a deep friendship with the theater's projectionist.

Salvatore Cascio: Salvatore 'Toto' Di Vita - Child

Cinema Paradiso is one of those films you hear made in some kind of reference too many times and ponder, yes, I must watch that one someday.
Unfortunately that day kept passing me, but I now believe this was meant to be, for when I did finally catch, it was a very different film than everybody had been going on about.

The most enjoyable moments to me were the scenes with the child Salvatore (real name in fact Salvatore), or Toto as he is known in the village. A little acting marvel, his face truly lights up brighter than the cinema screen with which he is enraptured, and his scenes with Philippe Noiret as projectionist Alfredo are touching and magical without being overly sentimental (Spielberg could learn a lesson here). I could also have easily believed he would grow up to be the older Salvatore (French actor Jacques Perrin) who returns to the village. The adolescent Salvatore (Marco Leonardi) however bears no resemblance to these two whatsoever and, if I have a complaint, this is it, and so my disbelief was unsuspended for a while.

This notwithstanding, Cinema Paradiso is beautifully framed, lensed, and is enhanced immeasurably by an exquisite score by the Morricones which has become a favourite soundtrack for collectors. As with many of Morricone's scores it was composed based simply on the script and before any filming took place, so that the actors could perform and react to the music and tempos being played in the background of their scenes, a la theatre. According to Tornatore 'Some of the themes that are now in the film were composed right in front of me during those first few days. His music was an inspiration to everyone, whilst Morricone himself states 'The music was born of my collaboration with Giuseppe. It reflects how I was inspired by the story of a boy, in love with a beautiful woman and coming of age in a small town in Sicily. After reading the script I attempted to write music that would aid the film in its slow transformation from comedic and ironic to heavily dramatic'.

He succeeded beautifully.

The movie Nuovo Cinema Paradiso moved me greatly and the feelings are so strong that I can't even describe it. As they say, beauty in terms of human words can only go so far before it becomes meaningless.

It is a film about film, a story about love and friendship and everything that a living human being can feel. A lovely and smart child ,living with a desperate mother waiting for her beloved husband at war,grew up with movies and finally became a famous director.

He once loved a beautiful woman and the woman loved him too. However,as we all know, love is fragile. Love immediately comes to an end the moment it meets with marriage.
So,is there a way that makes love eternal,always smiling at you when you open your eyes in the morning? I had guessed the beginning but I didn't get the fine.That's why it's such a film of greatness and a masterful work.

A Moving Masterful Piece of film that is Cinema Paradiso.

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Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 18 August 2008 11:01 (A review of Norbit (2007))

''Remember, black people run very fast. But problem run faster.''

''That's kinda racist.''

''Yes, Wong very racist. Don't like black. Don't like Jew either. But black and Jew love Chinese food. Go figure.''

A mild-mannered guy who is engaged to a monstrous woman meets the woman of his dreams, and schemes to find a way to be with her.

Eddie Murphy: Norbit / Rasputia / Mr. Wong

Eddie Murphy thinks he's clever. Eddie Murphy believes he can keep regurgitating his multiple roles in Nutty Professor proportions. Norbit shows us it's getting past the point of being not funny, old hat and completely irritating. Long gone are the days of Beverley Hills Cop and Golden Child or even Coming to America. But why Mr Murphy can pick an amazing film like Dreamgirls, then have the cheek to be in rubbish like this is beyond me.

So Eddie Murphy as Norbit, he plays a loser in this first so called main role. He's an Orphan who ends up being raised by Mr Wong, a Chinese Restaurant owner, who's about the funniest character in Norbit.
Mr Wong surprise surprise is played by Eddie Murphy too. Ends up being a smart cracking, one liner ridden, crease of laughs with his racist disposition.
God knows what possessed Thandie Newton & Cuba Gooding Jr to take part in the Norbit atrocities is beyond me.

Brian Robbins, a TV producer in real life, is maligned here as the director, Jay Scherick and David Ronn (co-writers of the Martin Lawrence-botched National Security) came up with a story of gore, body-function accidents, relentless pummeling of men, women and children of all races, although with more venom and contempt for blacks and Asians than the few token whites suffer.

The movie was offensive on so many levels. The racial humor wasn't funny. There are some lines with attempts at humour that really go too far(My chosen one is a fine example). Many of you who have seen it will understand what I mean. And those who haven't, I hope you don't support this film out of a curiosity, that indeed will kill the cat. Please, wait for Sky or Freeview for this.

I heard that it was Eddie Murphy's brother who came up with this idea. If EM did this as a favor to his brother, he could have done his brother, and himself a bigger favor by bringing Charlie in on a better project and tossing this script.

Eddie Murphy does put effort into his characters as always, but it's wasted energy. His job as Norbit gets lost in the low class, low level so-called comedy. Even though I just saw the film, I had to really remember that his performance as Norbit was decent. All I can think about is how offended I was by Norbit. Eddie Murphy even has the bold audacity to put in a talking dog, that rips off Men In Black and shows Norbit for the unoriginal crass fertilizer that it is.

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A Powerful Pulp of Persuasion...

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 17 August 2008 10:50 (A review of Pulp Fiction (1994))

''Say what again. Say what again, motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!''

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

John Travolta: Vincent Vega

Samuel L. Jackson: Jules Winnfield

Pulp Fiction becomes a bit easier to understand once you realize that it's essentially a black comedy dressed up as a criminal drama. Each of the three main stories begins with a situation that could easily form the subplot of any separate drug comic movie. But something always goes wrong, some small unexpected accident that causes the whole situation to come crashing down, leading the increasingly desperate characters to hilarious conclusions. Tarantino's originality floods from his ability to focus on small details and follow them where they lead, even if they move the story away from conventional plot developments.

''You see, this profession is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherfuckers. Motherfuckers who thought their ass would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't.''

Pulp Fiction received its share of acclaim and awards, and deservedly so. But that being said, while seen by most as a good film, Pulp Fiction is not regarded as another old vintage classic, or Pulp Fiction is not ensconced in the pantheon of the greatest of the great Hollywood films of all time. Those are for a reason. As good a cinematic achievement as Pulp Fiction is, the fact is that as a film it plows turf that's just way too coarse for comfort. Over-the-top blood, guts, and brains-blown-out violence. Gritty gutter language. Subject matter dwelling in the underbelly of life that goes way beyond seedy or unseemly. And it's all presented in a very graphic way. Some people really like it that way. Hey, I understand. That's what Tarantino wanted too, right? But the simple fact is that such fare isn't for everyone but I loved. In this way its own intentional and unrelenting coarse nature is what self-selects it out of the greatness category. To achieve greatest of the greats greatness it has to be seen that way across the board, amongst every audience. Pulp Fiction by Tarantino's design isn't intended to appeal to everyone. Cleverly he wants to offend and he wants to shock and good old Tarantino pulls it off, just take a look at that basement scene for one of the best shocks in film I've seen. Also a worry for anyone traveling to the US.

In addition to these layers, Pulp Fiction also has a lot of humour in it, much of it at times when you know you shouldn't laugh but you do, and also out of situations that you wouldn't laugh at usually. I'm sure some of the parts I laughed at were just because I wasn't expecting something to happen, or maybe I just have a morbid mind, but a lot of the humour came out of the violence.

''What now? Let me tell you what now. I'ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'ma get medieval on your ass.''

What is the movie's purpose exactly? It's a complex question,one side of it also is its theme of power. Marsellus is the sort of character who looms over the entire film while being invisible most of the time. The whole point of the big date sequence, which happens to be one of my favourite segments within the film, is the power that Marsellus has over his men without even being there. This power extends to Vincent, compelling him to act in ways you would not ordinarily expect from a dumb, stoned gangster, faced with an attractive woman whose husband has gone away. The power theme also helps explain one of the more controversial aspects of the film, its liberal use of the N-word. In this, the word isn't just used as a adjective to describe blacks: Jules, for instance, at one point applies the term to Vincent. It has more to do with power, rather than with race or colour. The powerful characters utter the word to express their dominance over weaker characters. Most of these gangsters are not racist in practice at all. Indeed, they are intermingled racially, and have achieved a level of equality that surpasses the habits of many law-abiding citizens in our society. They resort to racial epithets because it's a patter that establishes their separateness from the non-criminal world.

There's a nice moral progression to the stories. We presume that Vincent hesitates to sleep with Mia out of fear rather than loyalty. Later, Butch's act of heroism could be motivated by honor, but we're never sure. The film ends, however, with Jules making a clear moral choice. Thus, the movie seems to be exploring whether violent outlaws can act other than for self-preservation.

Everyone in the cast had amazing chemistry and bonding with each other, which added believability to a somewhat unbelievable story. The only reason that Pulp Fiction did not get a perfect score is that one scene with Butch and a cab driver went on for a tad too long. Knowing me, though, I'll soon change my mind, but it can still be said that Pulp Fiction is one of the most influential, most adult graphic novel-like movies of the 90's.

''That was pretty fucking trippy...''

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You wanna be like me, or you wanna be me?

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 17 August 2008 10:47 (A review of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)

''Can't figure it out, you wanna be like me, or you wanna be me?''

A detailed account of the famous outlaw Jesse James and his relationship with Robert Ford.

Brad Pitt: Jesse James

Casey Affleck: Robert Ford

Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford is another masterpiece from the wonders that were film in 2007. Andrew Dominik directs and delivers a detailed, sombre screenplay while staying fairly faithful to Ron Hansen's novel roots regarding Jesse James.
No doubt in my mind the levels concerning detail, storytelling, and narration that weaves and equals an intricate study case regarding the characters Jesse James and Robert Ford.

To set an example opening for reviewing this montage; A memorable scene for me would be the scene at the dinner table. You really see the love Robert Ford has for Jesse James in the speech, the story he says for him, the glow in his eyes.
Beautifully played by Brad Pitt and the wonderful actor Casey Affleck.
Brad Pitt plays his role with relative ease, masterfully in control.
Casey Affleck's slurry words and way of speaking is perfectly executed and his loving, envy and looking up to, for his idol, Jesse is mesmerizing to behold.

I love the characters especially Jesse and Robert; How they're fleshed out, not only conflicting with each other but with their inner demons as well.
The greatest weakness the heart within, the mind an after thought. Reality is moulded to suit the desires and fears within them thus causing conflict and a level of friction between vice versa.
Original Music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is haunting while chilling to a degree it freezes your spine in this age of violence and chaos. Cinematography by Roger Deakins subsequently also director of photography succeeds in bringing vast landscapes and quaint inside abodes to life. Purely vast in scope and pleasurably infinite in terms regarding magnitude and scale.
Complaints about the running time I've heard? Patience is a virtue and the time the film runs for is necessary to tell the story and flesh out this World and array of characters.
What shines most is that the film doesn't try to glorify its main character Jesse into a hero or anti-hero whichever you choose. Nor does it attempt to denounce Robert Ford as a coward thus making the title somewhat hypocritical and paradoxical.

This is a real life and tragedy that flows with haunting tones, this is not a typical Western, this is history and storytelling merging upon a meticulous adaptation.
Expect a tale of greatness, of vision and of precedence that surpasses every aspect it divulges us with.
This is the novel by Ron Hansen come to life upon the screen for audiences to be in awe of.
This is a detailed, slow paced masterpiece upon a gilded cage that resounds integrity and a moral compass of subjection.
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford shows it's not the title or result that is the fascination...

It's the journey of the man and the characters involved that are...

''Jesse would look over at Bob with melancholy eyes as if the two were meshed in an intimate communication. Bob was certain that the man had unriddled him, had seen through his reasons for coming along, that Jesse could forecast each of Bob's possible moves and inclinations, and was only acting the innocent in order to lull Bob into stupid tranquility and miscalculation.''

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I look at people and I see nothing worth liking.

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 17 August 2008 10:45 (A review of There Will Be Blood (2007))

''There are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking.''

A story about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business in the dawn of the 1900s onwards.

Daniel Day-Lewis: Daniel Plainview

The whole film begins with a form of genius that I have not seen for an age, that bears similarities to Stanley Kubrick's work and 2001:A Space odyssey. I know of no-one else with this unique link from this film which I've hit the nail on the head.
It begins with no dialogue and hauntingly awesome music that impacted my senses. The effect throughout the film of the music composition and score had the same mesmerizing hold on me.

A scene that stays with me is that touching image of Daniel with his son and the baby looks up and touches his face, his bristly mustache and you truly feel he is the guardian of this child, truly beautiful.
Also was crying at the final montage with his son that will make your heart feel weighty while hitting home, pummeling you into a state of disbelief.
PT Anderson delivers his best work with "There Will Be Blood".
Plainview is a misanthropist who paradoxically seeks companionship even as he loathes mankind in general. His investment in oil is motivated entirely by his desire to earn enough money to escape civilization altogether. He loathes religion, dismissing it as a superstition, and entertains human interaction only when he calculates that it is crucial to his oil mining. Daniel Day-Lewis' ("Gangs of New York",''Last of the Mohican's'' ) gripping portrayal of Plainview cannot be over-estimated or doubted for a second. His willful stage presence lends the film a searing intensity that both counteracts and complements the film's measured pacing.

''Stop crying, you sniveling ass! Stop your nonsense. You're just the afterbirth, Eli.''

Yet while the story is certainly rich with detail and subtlety, There Will Be Blood is hardly a film of words as I've said already. At times fifteen full minutes will pass without any dialogue at all. The space that fills these stretches of silence greatly enhances the film's sense of space and desolation. Even when characters do speak, nobody says more than necessary. Words are carefully chosen and tersely delivered, and there is much to be read between the lines.
Words don't describe Paul Thomas Anderson's latest epic film project easily, and he doesn't let them dominate the story either. A significant segment of There Will Be Blood has no dialogue and the ability for it to stay so captivating is only a testament to Anderson's incredible ability to tell stories about people through images that says more than about what's happening.
Anderson's weapon in this film is no secret. It isn't often Daniel Day-Lewis's name shows up on a marquee these days, especially when it's not tied to something that is sure to be good. This latest choice of his, however, is better than good and so is he. His character, Daniel Plainview, a self-proclaimed "oilman," is deeply complex and troubled. The way that Day- Lewis plays the lighter parts and seamlessly transitions to the darker parts is chillingly believable. Plainview is not only interesting, but he's embraceable, despicable, amusing and frightening all throughout the venture.

The only truly supporting cast, is his son and a self-proclaimed prophet, that he comes into complications with played by Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine). Dano's performance is unfortunately over-shadowed by Day-Lewis and it does feel like he was too young to be cast, but the 23-year-old is highly impressive and will perhaps be a marquee name in the near future.
Blood is otherwise the strength and glory of Anderson and his crew. The original score by Jonny Greenwood, who is mostly known for his guitar skills in Hollywood, brings something abstract that simultaneously fits the film's generally quiet demeanor using a variety of percussion sounds and few musical notes. While some films prefer soaring John Williams themes, Greenwood's theme for Blood is one dissonant chord and a sound effect that can be best described as a sombre humming. It's harsh, like the story's theme. Anderson makes every moment matter, whether it's when there's music blaring or where he puts the camera lens.

''There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet! No one can get at it except for me!''

To best describe the film in terms of people familiar with Anderson's work, it's his first film that truly translates to the interests of all dramatic film-lovers. It is distinctly his film, yet viewers will be able to grasp it much more easily than the abstract and obscure multiple storyline nature of Boogie Nights and Magnolia. For people new to his work, be prepared to feel some discomfort, but if you pay attention to the way the story is told, then you'll find the mastery of Blood's intention.
Instead of leaning on dialogue, much of the film's force comes from its gorgeous cinematography. Meticulously detailed and breathtakingly beautiful, There Will Be Blood is visually arresting from the film's beginning to its conclusion.
Similarly, the score (composed by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood) greatly accentuates the film's most dramatic moments. Yet while the music itself is impeccable, the way that Anderson employs it is even more impressive. Violins and sparse percussion rise and fall at unexpected moments, carefully cultivating a sense of unease while still managing to feel natural and well considered.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about There Will Be Blood is its minimalism as I may have said previously. In spite of its long runtime (which approaches three hours), the film never feels indulgent or overly complex. Anderson slows down the pacing of the film to a deliberate lurch. This might frustrate impatient viewers, but the approach ultimately makes the film's several climaxes more rewarding and its emotional peaks more stunning.
There Will Be Blood is both visceral and cerebral and hits home on all levels, the rare film that combines the raw emotion of our most human instincts with smart, well-conceived film-making techniques. Fulfills and exceeds even the hype and capable of meeting even your wildest expectations, Anderson's latest is truly a masterpiece of cinema.

''I drink you're milk-shake...I drink it up!''

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