Friday, April 30, 2004
  Kill Bill 1 and 2 Blood and Guts in seprate films....more later.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003
  Kill Bill Here's a review about a film I had NO desire to see because the lead was an actress of which I'm not a huge fan. I am however a fan of Tarantino in all his wacky glory, so when my spouse said he wanted to see it, I went to see what Quentin had been up too.

Kill Bill moves in and out of chronological sequence, yet tells a straight line tale in a way that only Tarantino can. As usual Quentin deals with this story of revenge in an intriguing way. I love this movie and must admit to a new level of respect for Uma's Thurmans acting ability. She played an ass kicking revenge seeker with gusto and verve, and did not nauseate me with overacting. This film did not dissapoint.

It the story about Uma Thurman's (as a pregnant bride) wedding day masacre in which Uma is left for dead, but returns after a four year coma to even the score with all those who betrayed her; all of them.

The Bride was once a top member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She decides to leave the business, assume a new identity, and get married. On the day of her marriage, her old "associates," O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah), Budd (Michael Madsen), and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), not to mention her boss, Bill (David Carradine), showed up out of the blue. They assassinate the entire wedding party, and Bill finishes the blood bath by shooting the Bride in the head, putting her in a coma. Bill should have tried harder, because after four years, the Bride has awakened from her coma. And Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned...In the sequence where she set out to settle the score with O-Ren Ishii, (the best and most action packed part of the film) she used a Kitana sword in true warrior fashion. (The only thing I have ever learned about a Kitana blade is that they can do an incredible amount of damage, so fine and devastating a fighting instrument it actually is.)

I loved the way Tarantino used animation sequences to tell O-Ren Ishii's tale, and the music used throughout the film is appropriate and excellent. Even the 1,2,3,4's were good. Tarantino's style is one of a kind and though he is usually violent, I can't imagine him telling any story with out all the spurting blood and lost appendages. I under stand Kill Bill Act Two to will be rated NC17 because he will not be using the restraint he used in Kill Bill Act One to get an "R" rating. I'm glad I saw this film, it was awesome. I highly reccommend it, violence and all.  
Sunday, October 05, 2003
  Cop-out review about "Lost in Translation" I saw "Lost in Translation". I liked this movie very much, but I'm not going to review it. What is even worse is I agree with a big time, commercially known reviewer, whom I usually think is just a bag of wind.. But he wrote an articulate review, which agrees with my opinion of this film exactly. (That almost NEVER happens with this reviewer!) Before I name the critic whose review you should read, Let me say this about this fine film. Sohia Coppola: Bravo! Outstanding job! I like this film more than Virgin Suicides, your maiden film vogage. Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson: Excellent, top notch perfomances. You have raised depiction of humor and sadness to fine art. Another thing about this film I found interesting is how on a few levels I can completely relate to the understanding between strangers. I understand having a real and occasionally better connection with someone you are merely acquainted with than with those who should know you intimately. (Now there's a morsel for thought!)

God I hate to admit it but Ebert said it perfectly. I'm only copping out because A) no one is reading my reviews, and B) the one person who did these reviews with me, is now is school, polishing up the ol' brains cells, and I don't expect to see his reviews here for some time, if again, so I'll cheat this time, but just this once. This is "real people reviews" after all and I will continue to review the movies I see. Go see this movie. It's a good one. For your convenience: I provide you with Mr. Eberts text and my second to his review:

The Japanese phrase mono no aware, is a bittersweet reference to the transience of life. It came to mind as I was watching "Lost in Translation," which is sweet and sad at the same time it is sardonic and funny. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play two lost souls rattling around a Tokyo hotel in the middle of the night, who fall into conversation about their marriages, their happiness and the meaning of it all.

These conversations can really only be held with strangers. We all need to talk about metaphysics, but those who know us well want details and specifics; strangers allow us to operate more vaguely on a cosmic scale. When the talk occurs between two people who could plausibly have sex together, it gathers a special charge: you can only say "I feel like I've known you for years" to someone you have not known for years. Funny, how your spouse doesn't understand the bittersweet transience of life as well as a stranger encountered in a hotel bar. Especially if drinking is involved.

Murray plays Bob Harris, an American movie star in Japan to make commercials for whiskey. "Do I need to worry about you, Bob?" his wife asks over the phone. "Only if you want to," he says. She sends him urgent faxes about fabric samples. Johansson plays Charlotte, whose husband John is a photographer on assignment in Tokyo. She visits a shrine and then calls a friend in America to say, "I didn't feel anything." Then she blurts out: "I don't know who I married."

She's in her early 20s, Bob's in his 50s. This is the classic set-up for a May-November romance, since in the mathematics of celebrity intergenerational dating you can take five years off the man's age for every million dollars of income. But "Lost in Translation" is too smart and thoughtful to be the kind of movie where they go to bed and we're supposed to accept that as the answer. Sofia Coppola, who wrote and directed, doesn't let them off the hook that easily. They share something as personal as their feelings rather than something as generic as their genitals.

These are two wonderful performances. Bill Murray has never been better. He doesn't play "Bill Murray" or any other conventional idea of a movie star, but invents Bob Harris from the inside out, as a man both happy and sad with his life -- stuck, but resigned to being stuck. Marriage is not easy for him, and his wife's voice over the phone is on autopilot. But he loves his children. They are miracles, he confesses to Charlotte. Not his children specifically, but -- children.

He is very tired, he is doing the commercials for money and hates himself for it, he has a sense of humor and can be funny, but it's a bother. She has been married only a couple of years, but it's clear that her husband thinks she's in the way. Filled with his own importance, flattered that a starlet knows his name, he leaves her behind in the hotel room because -- how does it go? -- he'll be working, and she won't have a good time if she comes along with him.

Ingmar Bergman's "Scenes from a Marriage" was about a couple who met years after their divorce and found themselves "in the middle of the night in a dark house somewhere in the world." That's how Bob and Charlotte seem to me. Most of the time nobody knows where they are, or cares, and their togetherness is all that keeps them both from being lost and alone. They go to karaoke bars and drug parties, pachinko parlors and, again and again, the hotel bar. They wander Tokyo, an alien metropolis to which they lack the key. They don't talk in the long literate sentences of the characters in "Before Sunrise," but in the weary understatements of those who don't have the answers.

Now from all I've said you wouldn't guess the movie is also a comedy, but it is. Basically it's a comedy of manners -- Japan's, and ours. Bob Harris goes everywhere surrounded by a cloud of white-gloved women who bow and thank him for -- allowing himself to be thanked, I guess. Then there's the director of the whiskey commercial, whose movements for some reason reminded me of Cab Calloway performing "Minnie the Moocher." And the hooker sent up to Bob's room, whose approach is melodramatic and archaic; she has obviously not studied the admirable Japanese achievements in porno. And the B-movie starlet (Anna Faris), intoxicated with her own wonderfulness.

In these scenes there are opportunities for Murray to turn up the heat under his comic persona. He doesn't. He always stays in character. He is always Bob Harris, who could be funny, who could be the life of the party, who could do impressions in the karaoke bar and play games with the director of the TV commercial, but doesn't -- because being funny is what he does for a living, and right now he is too tired and sad to do it for free. Except ... a little. That's where you see the fine-tuning of Murray's performance. In a subdued, fond way, he gives us wry faint comic gestures, as if to show what he could do, if he wanted to.

Well, I loved this movie. I loved the way Coppola and her actors negotiated the hazards of romance and comedy, taking what little they needed and depending for the rest on the truth of the characters. I loved the way Bob and Charlotte didn't solve their problems, but felt a little better anyway. I loved the moment near the end when Bob runs after Charlotte and says something in her ear, and we're not allowed to hear it.

We shouldn't be allowed to hear it. It's between them, and by this point in the movie, they've become real enough to deserve their privacy. Maybe he gave her his phone number. Or said he loved her. Or said she was a good person. Or thanked her. Or whispered, "Had we but world enough, and time..." and left her to look up the rest of it.

Monday, September 08, 2003
  CL Review Sunday, 8:37 am. Read the paper, now it's time to tell you about a ppv I saw this weekend. Before I name the film, let me say, this film was absolutely savaged by the critics; they hated it and had no trouble labeling it: Corrupt, intellectually bankrupt, morally dishonest, melodramatic sloshing, sanctimonious posturing, overly contrived, hysterical and longwinded. This, a mere sampling of some of the kinder reviews!

That's why there are "real people reviews". Sadly real people often look to the critics to decide for them before seeing something for themselves. While on occasion the critics can save you 9 bucks and major disappointment, more times than not a film loses a ticket sale it rightfully deserved. That being said, I give my "real person" opinion of:

The Life of David Gale

Premise: A popular professor, devoted father, and respected death penalty opponent finds himself (ironically??) on death row for the rape and murder of his close associate and fellow death penalty opponent. (Laura Linney). He has a mere six hours over three days tell his tale to a journalist (Kate Winslet) who quickly realizes his life is in her hands, prior to his scheduled execution on the fourth day. (Or is it)?

Plot contrivances aside, which undermine this very serious and topical political theme, I really liked this film. I think a lot of critics got tripped up because instead of reviewing this movie for what it was, (a thriller, and dramatization) they went ahead and entwined their own personal gut feelings about the death penalty into their "movie" reviews.

I liked the performances. Kevin Spacey gave a fine performance as an very intellectual but flawed man, and completely carried me along for his ride. Linney was unrecognizable, but convincing in her role as friend, confidant and partner in the death penalty trenches, harboring a secret of her own. Some may say Winslet had to "dumb down" to play the journalist, but I prefer to see her performance as truly impartial until she start to figures(?) it out. I liked the way the film was shot and how it looked. Admittedly, the story had some silly contrived roles (the mysterious truck driving cowboy, could have been portrayed far more effectively). David Gales wife seemed to serve NO purpose. She bailed so early in this film, it's hard to believe their was enough devotion in this marriage to spawn a child. (A child who clearly adored and was adored by his dad.) And the glibly ineffectual attorney had me questioning motivation upon his first appearance on the screen.

(As a total aside, in regard to the role of David Gales attorney; If one really wants to believe a film role, the average individual would presume even the worst attorney would have earned enough in his career to have his teeth fixed! My husband and I uttered "nice teeth" at the exact same moment while watching this film).

In all fairness, the most implausible scene was the last shot. Why would a death penalty opponent sign his own death warrant? Perhaps, this gives it all away, but this to me is what most clearly deserves any critical bashing it gets from any and all sources.

My opinions on the death penalty is similar in a fashion to my opinion on abortion, and this is NOT the forum. Unfortunately, I think the critics forgot that when reviewing this film.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
  Whales Ahoy! That will be the next film I see. But I'll get the rest of my Top 10 out of the way first...

6) The King of Comedy - A dark parody of the politics of show biz, produced at a time when executives at three networks controlled the airwaves. Rupert Pupkin breaks into comedy by holding a corrupt entertainment industry and lazy viewing public hostage, and is later embraced and applauded by them. DeNiro's Pupkin appears to be crazy, but by the end of the film, the audience imagines that others who've made it in show business could only have risen to the top in similar fashion. This is Sandra Bernhardt's breakthrough film, and a scene in which she has dinner with a bound Jerry Lewis is often imitated.

7) Life is Beautiful - Though I am still a childless undergrad, I hope one day to love my child as totally and unselfishly as Benigni's Guido loved his son Joshua. Guido uses comedic elements borrowed from the silent film era to woo his wife Dora, and later, preserve Joshua's innocence while the family are prisoners at a Nazi concentration camp. Joshua's cries of, "We won," from the back of an American tank he thinks is his prize for winning a game invented by Guido to keep him hidden from prison guards, represents the salvation of his family's humanity at a time and place where a plan of unthinkable inhumanity was carried out.

8) Unitl the End of the World - I'll admit that Wim Wenders' vision is sometimes not shared with his audience, but he achieves clarity in this futuristic road film that gives us a day-after-the-bomb worldview that is inspiring rather than disconcerting or tragic. William Hurt's Sam travels the world with a machine that can capture images his blind mother can see, and is spontaneously pursued by a bored jet-setter named Claire. As a nuclear satellite spins toward Earth with consequences no one can predict, Sam has to collect, from friends and family, what images really matter. Claire, on her 30th birthday, finally finds meaning in her life and turns her attention to the most important image, Earth, still in one piece but in need of TLC. Life really does begin anew at 30...

9) Pulp Fiction - Credit Tarantino with the invention of the moebius-strip time line, and with out-gunning his first film, Reservoir Dogs, in every sense. This film's cultural influence rivals another Travolta film, Saturday Night Fever, and captured the 90's zeitgeist without trying to be a zeitgeist film. Pulp Fiction is the Forrest Gump for people who think Abby Hoffman was that Jewish guy who went to their high school in the suburbs. Singling out a favorite scene would be very, very difficult.

10) Fargo - The fact that this story was based on actual events doesn't make it any likelier. North Dakota seems at once close to home and somewhere over the rainbow as we watch Frances McDormand's pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson unravel a homocide, and reveal the minds of the poor slobs behind it. Marge, satisfied with herself and her life in a place where it seems the sun rarley shines, is able to rise above the greed and insecurity that have driven others to crime, and, as she tells a survivor of the fumbled plot, not let a beautiful day go to waste. This film is the Coen's best, I hope they can produce its equal in the future.

Well there it is, everything there is to know about me. Now let me get my butcher knife, it's time to review some new films.  
Sunday, August 24, 2003
  Current movie review Here I go; I have already shared this very review with my personal "favorite" movie reviewer, and he knows who he is. So now I share it with fellow bloggers or anyone who cares to read it. It is the same as I originally penned with the exception of a corrected typo....the one's I have not found, we shall all have to suffer through.

Whale Rider:

The story is based on a native New Zealand Maori tribe myth of how the tribal leader was carried to their South Pacific Isle from Hawaii on the back of a whale. The story begins with the death of the main character's (Pai) mother and twin brother during childbirth. The grief stricken father leaves on extended travels abroad leaving his newborn daughter with her paternal grandparents. The grandfather, (the tribe chieftain of the Whangara people), initially rejects his granddaughter. He suffers from the fact that without a male heir, his royal bloodline will cease to exist. He grows to love his granddaughter dearly, but never fully "accepts" her. As he seeks to train a crop of preteen boys in the ways of his tribe hoping one of the them will show fledging promise, he continually rejects her anew. Even though she shows all the hallmarks of a leader and warrior she finds only resistance from the stubbornly prideful, patriarchal grandfather she adores. She sets out to follow his teachings semi-clandestinely, in a desperate need to please him.

This is a sort of uphill young female empowerment tale set in a realistic (albeit exotic) environment. A story for the ages in my opinion. (One particular scene, in which the child performs for her absent grandfather is particularly poignant and had me groping for the Kleenex.) Keisha Castle Hughes is the young actress who portrays the eleven year old Pai. She is an amazingly accomplished actress at her tender age. I cannot say enough about her or this very fine film. YOU MUST GO SEE IT, if you haven't done so already. This is one I would have enjoyed seeing with my favorite movie critic. It has to be my favorite of 2003!

Friday, August 22, 2003

1) Lone Star - John Sayles best film is set in Frontera, a Texas/Mexico border town with a long past that continues to tear apart its distinct but closely connected communities. I love this film because it reminds viewers how little separates us from neighbors, and encourages us all to Forget the Alamo...at last, someone had the guts to say it.

2) Being There - Peter Sellers parodies American politics, and encourages voters to consider the cyclical nature of gardens and the economy. This style-beats-substance satire was Sellers' last film before his death. I love this film because it's relevant today, and will be until the American public isn't so easily manipulated. (i.e. it will always be relevant) This is a uniquely non-Goonie performance for Sellers, and perhaps his most potent.

3) Talk to Her - Almodovar fans will argue with me, but I think this is Pedro's best film, ever. (Yes, it even beats Women on the Verge, High Heels, and All About My Mother) I love this film because it speaks about love and connection with others in an unique, beautiful, and fearless way, through a troubled man's relationship with his comatose love interest.

4) Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control - The sole documentary on my list. I never knew what secrets Lion Taming, Topiary Gardening, Robot Making, and Blind Mole Rat Cultivating held...if nothing else, I love the nobility with which the lives of four men in odd professions were portrayed. I love this film because it encourages viewers to follow their dreams, regardless how unconventional they are.

5) Shawshank Redemption - All it took to get Andy DuFresne back to the business of living was patience, time and a small hammer. I love this film because it shows that Steven King's work is more ironic than horrific, and that there is a way out of even the most desperate situation for those with the will to make it happen. Through Morgan Freeman's Red, King takes us to the edge of Andy's balanced world, with hope. It's a start, indeed.

6-10 to come...

  After many amendments to the list, at last, my Top 10 is complete:

1) Lone Star
2) Being There
3) Talk to Her
4) Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
5) Shawshank Redemption
6) The King of Comedy
7) Life is Beautiful
8) Until the End of the World
9) Pulp Fiction
10) Fargo

It was a tough decision...The Party, Wonder Boys, Dr. Strangelove, Gahndi, This is Spinal Tap, Lawrence of Arabia and The Royal Tennenbaums just missed the list. Punch Drunk Love and Donny Darko are a little too noir-otic to be among the top 10, but aren't far behind. Two influential films that I'd like to discuss, but come in below the rest, are Saturday Night Fever and Enter the Dragon.

I'll talk about my first 5 today.

Film criticism...we're pretending to be undergrads from the Ivy League, to get this blog on CNN, or adapted to a made-for-TV movie

08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003 / 08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003 / 09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003 / 10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003 / 10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003 / 04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004 /

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