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Collateral (2004) review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 2 January 2013 12:50 (A review of Collateral (2004))

Michael Mann's films are among the coolest films in Hollywood history. Take a look at Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Manhunter and Public Enemies. The last film may not be his best achievement, but it is cool nonetheless. The calm, cool attitude of Johnny Depp rivaled the likes of Neil MacCauley and Hawkeye. This film's antagonist, Vincent, is probably the greatest of Mann's characters. Masterminded by Stuart Beattie and brilliantly played Tom Cruise, Vincent is a character who you don't want in your backseat or next to you but cannot help but be fascinated by the things he does and says.

Onto the film: A Delorean may need 88mph (and 30 minutes) to show some serious shit, but Collateral does that within a-minute-and-a-half. You know things are gonna be awesome when Tom Cruise bumps into Jason Statham. The 5 second less-than-brief meeting tells us volumes about Cruise's character, and paves the road to which all the other players drive onto. The turns are not dangerous, just unexpecting. The film introduces us to the character, Max, an ordinary taxi driver with extraordinary dreams. When he drops Annie at her location, and after when she gives him her company card - actually a secret way to saying to him "call me" - Max enjoys a rare moment of "Ah! It's good to be alive". But that is quickly silenced when Vincent gets in his taxi and gives him $600 to drive him to five locations. From the first kill onwards a new level of cat-and-mouse game starts, with the cat controlling the mouse and keeping his cheese at bay. If the mouse fails to do his bidding, then he will never get the cheese... or see the sunrise.

Some of the moments are just top-notch with a heavy foreboding atmosphere covering it. When Max and Vincent meet Daniel Baker, the scene was so impressively done that it was the first of the many times you're transfixed to the screen. The action, the tense-factor and the polar-distant characters of Max and Vincent all get brightly highlighted within the next 1 hour, only losing focus for a short period of time. Vincent is a loose bull on the streets of Spain, or in this case L.A. When he looks at Max, who is the sort of the person who wouldn't even swat a fly, he sees a person wasting his life. Vincent sees the others as people who are always running, either from someone or something, while he considers himself as just a guy "with a job attached to", making him not only an effective killer but also who is human enough to understand the other but not human enough to understand himself. Max, on the other hand, is Max. An ordinary taxi-driver thrown into an extraordinary adventure. Also, who says the final girl cliche is limited to horror films only? The 5th and final victim happens to be Annie, and Max saves her - obviously. Max not only turns from an ordinary citizen to a saviour but also has an (spiritual? psychological?) awakening along the way.

Performance-wise, Tom Cruise's grip on his character was as fierce as an eagle on a fish. An aggressively precise performance with a cool, calculated voice. I can't imagine anyone else replacing him. Jamie Foxx was equally good, too. His character had depth, and Foxx impressively fleshed it out, but he didn't really seem connected to it - There was a loose wire somewhere. Not to say it wasn't a great performance, - the way he passed off himself as a normal person had me impressed - but he didn't really altogether connect between him and his character, or at least that's how it felt to me. Mark Ruffalo is an actor, who after watching him in 13 Going On 30, became one of my favourite on-screen figures, but I must say, what the hell happened here? The dude was acting like as if he was missing out his favourite show and wanting to go to the bathroom at the same time. He just mumbled his way to his death. Maybe it really wasn't a good time to do a Marlon Brando impression!

In all, Collateral is an intense-filled thriller with unexpecting turns and some great focus on the 2 lead characters. And is it me or did Vincent's death seem... emotional?!?! Am I losing my marbles?


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Death Race 2000 (1975) review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 30 December 2012 08:58 (A review of Death Race 2000 (1975))

Made in 1975, Paul Bartel's vision of a dystopia America (or what has become of it) in 2000 is not off the mark. In fact, this is one of the many films which showed - or shows - America's obsession with forms of entertainment that are unorthodox and unusual, usually violent. True, America still doesn't have floating cities and people who are brave enough to compete in "death races", pretty much everything that's shown here is quite-true, and in some cases very true. Onto the film: Loud, clunky, lazy, irrational, senseless, unmemorable - These are the words that can be used to describe Death Race 2000. It had the potential of being one of the coolest movies ever but that above points, coupled up with some of the worst acting performances I've ever seen, make this film a low-below misfire.

There is absolutely no story. There is absolutely no sense. The expressions that are displayed by the acto... sorry, cardboard cut-outs, are equivalent to a Bratz doll. No-one was the least bit convincing in their role, although Simon Griffeth did bring some little sparks, as did Harriet Medin as Thomasina Paine. The overall editing is so blurry that you wanna throw up. They knew the story was going nowhere so they included a couple of scenes involving naked chicks to keep the interest flowing among the viewers. In all, a very contrived, half-baked film I ever saw. I gave it 5 stars only for the really cool cars and some tense, violent moments!

Also, the fight scene between Frankenstein and Joe; Are those really punches? Felt like they were fighting with marshmallows in their hands, and it is surprising because Joe would go on to become Rocky!


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Anastasia review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 28 December 2012 08:59 (A review of Anastasia)

Arguably one of the greatest cartoons ever made, Anastasia has a lot of heart and courage, as well as the usual silliness. If there's one thing I've learned in cartoons is that if you're having a good time, a dark shadow will quickly put an end to that happiness forever - or at-least until to the last 5 minutes of the cartoon where everything will turn out right once again. Same thing here: During a ball dance, Rasputin intervenes and places a curse that has the whole of the Romanov members killed except for one, Anastasia. She and her grandmamma are separated at the train station, a separation that lasts for 10 years. Did you see that guy on the train with grandmamma? He could see that the little girl could not reach her grandmamma and her could've helped her, but no! He didn't! If he had, there would've been no story. So basically, he is the real villain!

Moving on, Anastasia is then "resurrected" as street-smart lady and not very princess-like. One thing leads to another and she ends up in the company of two likable characters, Dmitri and Vlad, two con-men. When it comes to romance, cartoons all go in the same direction. This one went in that same direction, too, but on a different speed. It tried to fuse the romance seen in drama-movies into a cartoon world, and it excelled I must say. I enjoyed the connection between Dmitri and Anastasia (Anya), and the wise, affable Vlad and his voice-over by Kelsey Grammer. Bought a nice touch to an otherwise ordinary character. The rest of the film follows in an even pace and, unlike Pixar, who quip pop-culture references, and Disney, who, well, don't go beyond the screaming and no! no! no!, the script is believable. I'm not saying it was uber-realistic or anything, but for a cartoon world it was perfect. The animation was great, too. That was realistic, with all the movements and face expressions. All the long shots, especially the song scenes, were beautiful and enchanting, but not Disney-enchanting, but just.

However, I do have one complain, though: Rasputin. His sinister, dark and haunting quality - It just wasn't executed properly. I know, such a violent, serious, Pinhead-type character just wouldn't have worked in a cartoon that runs in this pace. Rasputin would've been a fish out of water, but I was really expecting to see some level of macabre or eerie. Instead, we get a buffoonish Captain Hook with a very long beard and body parts which fall off. It wasn't exactly 100% disappointing but it wasn't interesting either. I did end up enjoying Bartok, though!

From the voice-overs, all were great. Was it only me or did Meg Ryan sound somewhat like Mowgli from Jungle Book? No? Well, then I guess it was only me. John Cusack was good, too, but it was Kelsey Grammer who stole the show. Christopher Lloyd and Hank Azaria made a funny duo and provided quite-many interesting touches, especially Azaria.

In conclusion, Anastasia is a wonderful cartoon that is not as sentimental as Disney or quirky as Pixar. It is in-between and I would love to see Fox Animation Studios release another cartoon like this, not Titan A.E. A must-watch!


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My Dinner with Andre (1981) review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 27 December 2012 06:22 (A review of My Dinner with Andre (1981))

Isn't it weird that Wallace Shawn's character in this film is also named Wallace Shawn? heeheehee. Basically, My Dinner With Andre has no plot to speak of. It is Wallace having a dinner / conversation with Andre Gregory. They don't generally play themselves but something that can be said as a reel version of their real self. In the opening five minutes of the film, Shawn brings us to date why he is getting into that restaurant, telling us clearly in voice-over the uncertainty of what he is going to expect and the bitter, below-average life he is currently living. In short, Shawn is practically reading a page from his diary to his personal best friend - and that friend is you, the viewer. Which is appropriate since not many people let loose the secrets of the diary to a majority and this film doesn't have millions running behind it, so the viewer is one of the lucky few. Once inside the restaurant, Shawn orders a drink and waits for Andre to appear. After a few more minutes of insight-narration, Andre appears and they both sit at the table. Within a short time frame, Shawn - who has by that time bought us to date on him - starts bringing us to date on Andre; who he is, who he was, what's his job etc... It is only after when they put down the menu that Andre Gregory has all of your attention. Full 100% of it.

For the next 1 hour Andre talks, talks and talks. He talks about his extraordinary adventures, the spiritual, as well as psychological, experiences he had in the Norway woods, the Sahara desert and in his own home, the everyday life, the theatre, the films, the media, the existence of human being, and virtually everything mature, experienced men talk about. In-between of his talks, impressive beyond anything, he also expresses his dissatisfaction on certain things. In that 1 hour all doubt is erased from your mind and you fully accept, and grip on, to the fact that Andre is not a fabricated, manufactured character tinkered and oiled for the screen. He is authentic, and the character he builds for himself reminds us of the times when we had at least one friend who was like Andre. Let's face it, we were either the Shawn of the group or the Andre. I was the former, but I did have my latter moments.

Exactly one hour into the film, the focus of the talks shift from spiritual experiences to the heavy reality of the world, and how it is sinking in an abyss. Well, you know, the things dissatisfied men grump about. Both of them show conflicting attitudes, and Shawn is the "doubter" of the two, while Andre is the calmer, take-everything-into-point guy of the group and attentively listens to the other before giving an opinion or view-point himself. So basically, we get to know that Wallace is the sort of the guy who is trying to find happiness in the daily routine, trying to find life in whatever he does in his day-to-day life. He wants to enjoy the little things and contemplates on why would anyone would want to go on "top of the Mount Everest to feel alive when you can feel just as alive in a cigar store". What he means is that we're alive, but we're not aware of it. We think happiness, the moment of being really connected to the world, comes from doing extraordinary things, such as climbing Mount Everest. In short, Wallace is a simple guy who doesn't (or is not willing to) like extraordinarily big thinking, making him the sort of a guy who just wants to live, and not try to find out the logic or meaning behind each and every thing. Andre, on the other hand, after going through different stages to become "human" again, believes that a-lot can be achieved through almost nothing. He, like Wallace, treasures the little things but wants to experience, and store, the bigger things and literally wants to see a world inside the world we're living in, see through the glass, the inside of a brick, beneath the everyday surface. It is interesting to see two old friends, while agreeing on basic things, are different on the complicated stuff.

To bundle it all up, this is the other side of movies we almost never really get nowadays, or ever, for that matter. Had this film been made now - or by another director - then it would've been raped by flashbacks and that would've made this film just another film, just another brick in the wall. My Dinner With Andre is even less than minimalistic. It is almost nothing, but the style of execution is so brilliant, so hypnotizing, so real that it feels less a film and more a camera-recording you did in secret.

The ending is very moving. Even though these two are not connected, this film's ending reminded me of 12 Angry Men - we never really get to see the ending / verdict. It is all left ambiguous. Anyway, Wallace is seen riding home in a taxi and tells us that he knows every last detail of New York. His recounting of the last two memories remind us that no matter how expensive a camera or a cycle or a watch you get on your birthday, it will always be the badly drawn birthday card by a 6 year old child that will always grab you and move you. The big things complete the void in your room. The little things fill the void in your life!

Or at-least that's my deduction of the ending, and the film as a whole!


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Edward Scissorhands review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 24 December 2012 08:05 (A review of Edward Scissorhands)

The titular character resides in an old, decrepitude mansion that lies at the end of a cheery, colourful late 50's / early 60's-themed suburban. The residents are stereotypical, but interesting, and are largely female dominated, which was the usual norm. It also has a crazy, religious lady who is, of course, ignored by all. The main family, the protagonists, are a likable, comfortable, quite-dysfunctional family of four. Peg, - brilliantly and lovingly played by Dianne West - the matriarch of the family, is a door-to-door saleswoman who finds herself in the mansion where Edward lives, and after looking at his poor state, takes him under her wings. From here a classic modern fairy-tale snowballs, which ends on a dark tone, a transition I thoroughly enjoyed. The character of Edward was so perfectly created that it's no surprise how archetypal he became; He personified the monster of the darkness - although he is not - when he was shown for the first time in the mansion. When Peg brings him to her home, he personifies the spirit that roams about your home, a Djinn if you will, that comes in every shape, size & attitude you can imagine. The narrow hallways, the colourful atmosphere, the tall doors all increased Edwards haunting character, while the mansion made him feel at home. In short, since the majority of the film sets place in small suburban, and since all the residents are stereotypical - adults and kids - Edward is an old-wives tale come true.

All this makes Edward sound a villain, a feared monster, which he is not I can assure you that, you who hasn't still seen this film. He is a modern Frankenstein, a modern Joseph Merrick. A freak of nature, a.k.a not like you or I, who means good but ends up being misunderstood, thus causing an outrage among the people and the law. Tim Burton apparently knew all of this and made sure that we knew that he knew. What Burton did was he combined all the major factors of a fantasy tale and coated it with extra sugar. Don't be surprised if some things feel disillusioned, this is Burton's imagining of how a Disney cartoon would look like if they had the guts to show a little blood and a touch of darkness. Again, don't be surprised by the overly sympathetic (to some, just pathetic) portrayal of Edward, his relationship with Kim and of the film's ending. An average fairy-tale starts and ends like this, so why should this film be treated any different? Burton did indeed coat the story with sugar but also added a little bit of pepper to remind us that not every monster can truly be loved.

The score by Danny Elfman is his second-best, after Batman. It is dark, beautiful and something that can only and only belong in a Tim Burton flick.

From the performances, Johnny Depp was truly iconic in his role, and it would be his first collaboration with Tim Burton that would go on to last 8 films in a span of 20 years. He played Edward so understandably as if he was honoring an age old friend. Even though he has played more eccentric, more well-known characters - most notably Jack Sparrow - this character will always remain as his most best played. Dianne West, on the other hand, truly won me over by her portrayal of Peg. She made an everyday, I've-seen-this-in-every-other-movie character a very loving and wonderful character who has just become my favourite heroine. I do believe she should've been nominated for an Award. Alan Arkin was a good surprise. When did I last see him? Oh yes, Catch-22. Low-key film, but a fun performance. Over here he plays Bill, husband of Peg, an equally great performance and a likable character. Anthony Michael Hall never really made an impression on me and you can bet your boots I was relieved when his character was killed off. Burton doesn't like jocks, nor do I + his performance was just OK. The film's precious little item was Winona Ryder as Kim. When she is first introduced, there is a hint that she might fall under the cliche category but Burton gently picks her up and away from that place. The building of her character is slow but Ryder manages to achieve wonders in her slow pace, making Kim the Belle of this film. She had the potential of making her character times better, she really did, but Kim really wasn't written in an exaggerated sense so she wasn't given a large amount of elbow room to move about. In all, a very satisfactory performance!

In conclusion, I've come to acknowledge Edward Scissorhands as Tim Burton's magnum opus. Even though Batman is Burton-esque, this film has what Batman was lacking in; Johnny Depp, and that in itself is saying something!


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Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 December 2012 09:30 (A review of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004))

The correct title for the film should be Sky Captain & the World of where lipstick never runs out, heroes are heroes, villains are dead and where 1 minute equals to 5. Anyway, visual-wise it is impressive. It is set in an imaginary 1939 and has a pulpy feel to it. Sky Captain is a retro-future film, so that means a lot of CGI and Blue Screen was put into it, and while some age correctly, even impressively, there are some which don't, and Sky Captain is the latter. But that doesn't mean it wasn't an entertaining flick. It remained an impressive, authentic feature and really gave you that 30's feel and, believe it or not, is times better than Captain America: First Avenger, despite the fact that 7 years separate these two movies.

Just like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen gathered all famous literature characters and bought them to one universe, Sky Captain did the same with different genres. You get action, sci-fi, drama, romance, old Indy--style moments, Lone Ranger moments and several influences from cyberpunk and steampunk. It is not unusual if you're reminded of H.G. Welles, H.P. Lovecraft, Rocketeer, Star Wars, Star Trek, Iron Giant and even War of the Worlds and Bioshock. I'm sure you can add to the list but you can't deny the fact that Sky Captain is a fascinating film. The presentation is actually more believable than most of the sci-fi films of its time and of the past 5 years.

Changing tracks, story-wise the film was good. Nothing extraordinary, but it did have an interesting twist at the end, though. The script-writing was good, too. They managed to make authoritative dialogues authoritative and not circus-like or anything. Most of the time it was believable and it was also filled with quite-few pop-culture references; Who else loved the "Is it safe?" part?

Unfortunately, the bulb was flickering in the performance department. Jude Law is an actor who I see less but what I see I don't feel the urge to complain / rant. He has that cool-as-a-cucumber attitude to him and can play heroes almost flawlessly. He was great as usual but it was Gwyneth Paltrow that had me worried. As much as I like her, this was her most wooden, flat-as-a-hedgehog-run-over-by-a-Reliant performance she has ever given. Her line delivery was so off and so forced that it felt as if she were talking in a TV commercial. In short, this is how Megan Fox would've acted had she been in Sky Captain. Harsh? Yes! The truth? Unfortunately, also yes. Giovanni Ribisi was a good surprise, though. He is an actor to whom I never connected. Whenever I see him on-screen I go like, "Well, there's Giovanni. Now I'm gonna get distracted by another actor / actress", and 100% of the time I'm right. Not to say he is a bad actor, far from it, but he never really made a strong impression on me. Anyway, I liked his performance, it was in league with the film. If Paltrow was a missed arrow, then Angelina Jolie was a disaster, akin to someone who photobombs. Nobody likes a photobomber, they're highly unwelcome. Same case here. Jolie was almost a joke. She was totally mis-cast. Not one of my favourite performances from her I must say.

In conclusion, visual-wise the film is impressive, an achievement that will be called in as a great example in the near future. Performance-wise, however, not enough strong shoulders were bought in but it is still going in my greatest movies list despite the quite-bearable setbacks. It would be like chucking a Lamborghini because of a broken radio. Oh, no!


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The Phantom of Liberty review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 22 December 2012 09:09 (A review of The Phantom of Liberty)

Luis Bunuel's films are among the most difficult to understand. Watch An Andalusian Dog, and if you manage to understand more than 2 minutes of it, then you have made it more than I ever could. Same goes for Belle De Jour, although it is pretty much straightforward - It is the ending that has left a-many baffled. This film, however, is beyond anything I've seen. The Phantom of Liberty is an absurd, but delicious surreal film that has amusing little scenes here and there. Characters are not given enough screen time to form a personality and associate themselves with the backdrop, and being a surreal film, many events are left unexplained and a large body of them cover taboo topics. Unusual traits for a movie, but then again Bunuel was no usual, everyday director. The scenes don't make sense, and instead of a cut-scene or fade away, the minor character of that said scene becomes the major character of the next scene with a little help from the major character from the previous scene. Sort of like the Hotswap feature from Battlefield; When you're thrown in battle, every soldier is just a soldier, but when you Hotswap to a certain soldier, he becomes something much more, he immediately becomes the main character, even though he is not. Same thing with this film. The scenes, like I said before, don't make sense but that's just the surface. I believe there to be rational explanations behind it and, whether it was his aim or not, satirical under-tones. The film opens with the French executing the Spanish and then raiding a church, where one of the best surreal scene happens. Then it cuts to a park where two girls are cycling. A man watches them with fascination, hinting at pedophilia, and proceeds to show them pictures, to which the audience thinks are dirty pictures. When they arrive home, and when the girl shows her parents the pictures, they turn to be picture postcards of buildings. Over here Bunuel plays with our fixed mindset that whatever a stranger shows to little girls / boys has to be pornographic. It kinda slaps us in the face, really. When the adults are shown to be quite turned-on - and turned-off - by the buildings, was Bunuel in any way hinting at object sexuality, a.k.a Objektophilia? Then whatever follows after that till the point where the husband meets the doctor, I'm afraid I could not make heads or tails out of it, but it remained a colourful watch.

Then we see the nurse, the minor character in the above mentioned scene, become the major character in this scene. She takes refuge in a motel from the storm. There she meets some monks (from the early church scene, perhaps?). When the nurse tells them of her father's sickness, they agree to pray for her father in her room. Time passes and the monks are shown, alongside the nurse and the motel manager, to be playing poker and drinking alcohol. Whatever point Bunuel wanted to make here I don't think I got it but I believe he was playing on the characteristics of motels, or small run-down hotels, but they're practically the same thing with little differences. These places are a great place to hide-out and unleash the dark, sexual side of your nature and it has an aggressive, sexual personality to it. Things are done almost freely there, as evidenced by the young man who brings his aunt for an incestuous relationship and the BDSM relationship between the businessman and his assistant.

The main highlight, and understanding, of the film lies in the police academy classroom with the professor talking about laws, morality, customs and taboo. I believe if the viewer can understand that scene or bring himself to connect 2 & 2 together, then I believe the viewer can make sense out of the film, tie all the knots. The professor uses an example of a dinner party which he attended with his wife. They sit around a dinner table but not on chairs, but rather toilets. They talk about defecation and any mention of food is considered rude or impolite. Then one of them retires to a little room to eat. In short, the rules and attitudes of a dinner table and bathroom have been switched. I guess if you look at it from the modern point of view, retiring to a little room to eat makes sense. When we eat, we retreat into a private box of our own and any disturbance comes off as irritating - of course this is all metamorphical. But when we're on the toilet, our mind wanders far off and starts wondering about the mysteries of life and/or the current situation of the world. I wish I could make my point a little clear but I think you get the picture.

Then the class is dismissed and we get a shot of a speeding driver, who is promptly given a ticket. It turns out he was on his way to visiting his doctor. The doctor says the driver has cancer and offers him a cigarette (did I notice sarcasm there?) and receives a slap on the face. The whole chapter concerning Mr. Legrande - the driver - is absurd at its best. But it is absurd in a reeling and positive manner that provokes a lot of WTF? moments and unintentional laughs. Once he reaches home, they receive a call from the school informing that their daughter is missing. They race to the school only to find that the daughter is sitting in the classroom, yet the adults act as if she's not there and report to the police, despite the fact they acknowledge her presence. The police-station scene is a riot. Like I said, absurd all right. I think what Bunuel did here was he switched the roles and bought everything - that would've been behind the curtains in other films - forward, and silly it may sound, it alluded to many real life situations. I can't exactly pinpoint it out but I guess I'll have to see the film again.

After this, we follow a man with a briefcase to the top of a building. The briefcase is opened and reveals a sniper, to which the man uses it to shoot random people on the streets. He is eventually caught and sentenced to death but leaves the courtroom as a hero, even signing autographs. There's no deciphering here. Personalities like him are recognized as heroes and or admirable figures in our twisted world of today, so I guess Bunuel saw it coming. Then the rest of the film follows in a psychological manner, and I only "understood" 1/5 of it, but I guess it might get cleared up in the second viewing. Or maybe not!

The ending of the film takes place in a zoo. Could the ending be the opening of the film? After all the shout that was heard at the end was also heard at the starting. The camera suddenly starts spinning in a blurry motion, making things confusing... also, what was the significance of the ostrich?

I believe the normal approach - the way you approach other "normal" films - should not be adopted here. If possible, try to find out the logic behind the scenes in as parallel-manner as possible, and try to understand it from a psychological and/or metamorphical view-point. Remember, this is a surreal film directed Luis Bunuel, and it is no easy to decipher than the Zodiac Killer's "farewell" note.

I like watching films like these because no matter what conclusion you - or anyone else - come to, no-one is right or wrong!


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Batman (1989) review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 21 December 2012 06:44 (A review of Batman (1989))

Gotham City is witnessing its most darkest, and coldest, night in living history. Christopher Nolan stands on the rooftops next to the bat-signal, waiting for his harsh-voiced detective to appear. Sipping on his cup of coffee, Nolan looks into the distance and thinks to himself, "Why am I rebooting Batman? Oh yes, because of those Schumacher disasters.", he pauses to take another sip. Then his mind races back to 1989, the year where the superhero-genre was born. In 1977 the first superhero film was released, Superman, appropriate enough, since Superman was also the first comic book hero. The red-and-blue immortal has to be on the top of everything. It is Batman, however, that was - and still is - deserving of being called as the movie that laid out all the blueprints to which future superhero films would follow, and the greatest superhero film of all time - that was, until Batman Returns, Spider-Man 2 and The Dark Knight came out. Who could've known that Tim Burton, who had only directed 2 films prior Batman, would direct one of the most influential films of all time. Over the years Gotham City has been portrayed in hundreds of ways but none has been as memorable, and lovable, as Burton's dark, steamy, populated, where-your-nightmares-live take on the "most corrupted place in the world". First he created a world as dark as his imagination and as mangy as his hair. Then he called in Michael Keaton and wrote Batman / Bruce Wayne as a serio-comic character that would, to me, be the definitive Batman until Christian Bale came along, removing the comic from serio-comic. Keaton gives a balanced performance, and he rarely breaks character. I haven't read any of the Batman comic books so I cannot be sure just how much accurately did he play the character but nevertheless, what I saw I liked. Adding more sugar is Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale. She had a good comic-timing and the one part that really gets me is when she and Bruce Wayne are being held at gunpoint by The Joker, she starts eating popcorn, out of fear and anxiety. The way she does it, and the timing, always gets me. Speaking of The Joker, Jack Nicholson starts off on the wrong foot, misleading you a little early than expected. It is only when he meets Vicki at the restaurant does he come to his true pace and style. In all, he does give a good performance but I like to think of this one and the one in Shining to be quite embarrassing. He has done times better performances than those two. I'm sure Christopher Nolan - who is helping himself to a third serving of coffee - will agree with me. The rest of the cast were good, nothing extraordinary.

SWOOSH! The caped crusader has now landed, mumbling something about Rachel Dawes and a sofa. With that voice of his, nothing can be understood and unfortunately, life doesn't come with subtitles. Nolan breaks from his reverie and sets off... Anyway, Tim Burton was the man for the job and he proved himself successful, and then he continued it with Batman Returns, which was much more darker than its predecessor, and his darkest overall.


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WALL·E review

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 20 December 2012 01:12 (A review of WALL·E)

An excellent accomplishment, Wall-E is undeniably Pixar's strongest release to date, as well as the most adult and probably the most tear-jerking, although Monsters, Inc. is deserving of holding the top spot. Come on, who didn't choke up on the ending. Anyway, Wall-E is enjoyable by both adults and children. Children will be fascinated by the visuals - which were top-notch, by the way - and by the robot's, Wall-E, mannerisms and all the funny bits. Adults, however, get to see beyond more than just laughs, more than just a robot whose vocabulary is limited to just 5-6 words. We, the adults, get to see the destruction of our world, and the people, in a frank, straight-forward, and shocking it may sound, truthful way. The people in the film have become obese, bloated and lazy. They have long since given up walking and are 100% dependent on machines. They spend their waking moments eating, drinking, and staring at the screen in front of them, just like we all do, just like you're doing right now. They are so engrossed in it that they have lost all contact with the outside world and have become totally oblivious to both themselves and the vicinity; We have a pool? Even though Andrew Stanton and pretty much all the crew behind this film had only intended it to be a children's movie, it instead gave us a heavy presentation of our fast (or rapidly?) decaying world and how we have become dependent on machines and technology. Take a walk outside, go to a fair or someplace, and observe how many people are actually looking at the world around them. That's right, few to none, as all of their noses are stuck on their phones. And I'm saying this from experience. The life onboard the Axiom correctly matches our own here on how people have become stupid, totally reliant on technology and the media. Oh yes, don't forget the media. Everything, literally everything, has been replaced by screens, both onboard the Axiom and the real world. Wanna talk to the other guy? The screen is here. Wanna play golf? The screen is here. Wanna just sit and stare idly at something? Well, the screen is here! E-reading has taken over the traditional way of reading books, and that right there proves my point. I wish the underlying - and serious - themes of Wall-E wakes people up from their slumber and that somebody does something about it. Little kids may laugh at the film, but adults know better.

Anyway, as a cartoon, Wall-E is a masterpiece. Its main protagonist is by and far their most iconic creation to date. I think he should be a bigger household name than Buzz or Woody, Pixar's original heroes. Mute, or semi-mute, or in this case a robot, characters have a unique way of tugging at your heart-strings; They speak aloud with their expressions and/or whatever they can mumble through their limited vocabulary. We have countless movies about the last man left alone on earth and we all have cried one way or another, especially when we see his daily, lonely routine in a montage or when his only friend dies, namely I Am Legend, with Will Smith and his dog. Wall-E is about the last robot left alone on what has become of earth and finds love in EVE, a sleek robot sent to earth to bring back a life form, that is if there is any. The naming of that robot, EVE, is not a co-incidence. EVE and Wall-E reminded me of Adam & Eve, and the Axiom the Noah's Ark, although it really doesn't make any sense, but I don't know. When the human beings land on earth once again, bringing about the story of the first people on earth, descended from Paradise (Axiom to them was heaven). Oh, what the hey!

The sci-fi influences on Wall-E is unmissable. Trained eyes cannot fail to spot references to Terminator, Alien, Aliens, RoboCop, Star Trek, Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey, the most easiest to spot from them all. Auto, the rogue auto-pilot A.I. is designed on HAL 9000, not difficult to spot. They also play the theme from the film - quite shamelessly - when the captain starts to walk for the first time. Hell, they even have Sigourney Weaver in a voice role, so what does that tell you?

In conclusion, Wall-E is a beautiful cartoon with an amazing attention to detail. It shouldn't be approached for just entertainment, but with also a psychological understanding to it in mind. Try to take everything in a metamorphical sense and you will understand. If only we can be serious about this, we can save the world, and ourselves, from becoming what just saw.


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Withnail & I review

Posted : 5 years, 12 months ago on 18 December 2012 10:03 (A review of Withnail & I)

Withnail & I was a delightful find. When the film reached the 10 minute mark, I knew what I just saw was just the beginning of what I would be seeing for the next 90 minutes. This is a rare film; It has little or no plot to it and has characters who have a flair for speaking with a poetic-nature and/or in structured sentences which more or less start with the word fuck! The film is about two desperate actors who go to the country-side to rejuvenate. Once they reach there, they find that whatever that had been growing in their sink, it is growing right in front of their door, and whatever the environment they left in the city-side, they found it in their ramshackled cabin. In short, life in the country-side was no worse than life in the city-side. A-lot of hilarity ensues, with tons of one-liners and eccentric characters. A situation like this can only be worked with in the comedy field. Any well-off director could've achieved it, so what makes it so special here? The reason is because Bruce Robinson pits two characters - Robinson based one on his friend and one on himself - who are not everyday people trying to be actors. They are trained actors trying to act like everyday people, and whether they fail or succeed in it, you can't deny the fact that both of them keep you in the laughs, or at-least bring you to the point where you're afraid of putting any liquid in your mouth lest you should spray it all over should a comical scene come up.

There comes a point in the film - varies from person to person - that the viewer, almost unconsciously, starts to identify himself with either Withnail or I - a.k.a Marwood. When one achieves in doing that, the rest of the film starts playing out as a film adaptation of that viewer's diary. Not that I felt like that for the whole film, but only in certain places, especially in the moments when they quarrel. I was the first letter of this sentence in real life - I think you can work that out.

The cinematography was great and the music was awesome, reflecting the culture and standard of the 60's. The pace of the film was also smooth, with a lot of funny characters weaving in and out. If Withnail and Marwood are two juvenile delinquents, then the film is their baggage carousel, with each entertaining the viewer with a slightly different approach than the other.

Performance-wise, both Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann were truly magnificent in their roles as Withnail and Marwood, respectively. Since the former is the main backbone of the film, it is of no wonder that he became the break-out character from the film, and Grant's highest career point till date. The character is neither likable nor unlikable. He is, in short, just like you, just like any other human being. He is flawed, he is angry, and he is desperate for big things. Marwood, on the other hand, is the thinker of the two, but in reality is in the same hole with Withnail. They both are in the same band, but they march to a different beat and think in a different tempo. Supporting them is Ralph Brown as Danny, who has had "more drugs than you've had hot dinners". Although he just appears in the beginning and at the end for a short period of time, his short appearance is enough to let you know he is the most social-conscious character, as well as being the most prophetic. His sentences may seem nonsensical and erratic but if you pay a littler close attention, you will realize that he actually makes sense. If he hasn't become a drug-character icon, then he should be. Then we have Richard Griffiths, as Uncle Monty, the hapless homosexual. Griffiths is a painfully under-rated actor I must say. He is one of my favourites, as he always plays his characters right. Not only was Monty a great addition to the film but was introduced in a time when the other two were quite wearing out their welcome, making all the moments which involve him among the funniest in the film. The rest of the side-cast were great, too.

In conclusion, black - and or idiosyncratic - comedy does come better than this, but as a starting point, start with Withnail & I. Nary an empty moment!


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