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All reviews - DVDs (151)

underland

Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 14 July 2012 06:58 (A review of Alice in Wonderland)

seems like it took me forever to see this movie and i guess it has. i had heard so many mixed reviews of it, i honestly wasn't sure what to expect.

its not perfect thats for sure, but it does make for an entertaining update to carroll's stories (its a blend of alice stories and its based on those).

the first half or so is the worst of it. really it takes to long to get to a story. the first half seems a disjointed mix of new ideas and parts of the original ones. it leaves you wanting to know what the hell is actually going on. this seems intended conceptually, since the story as told here is a later story of alice. she is older and has lived this story time and time again throughout her life, each time forgetting that she had before. unfortunately for the movie, that point doesn't connect well. although the point is made early on its really not until much later that it makes sense. i wonder if this was planned to be a longer movie and we're left with much of the known story as snippets so we can get to the new story.

regardless, its worth the choppy start to get to the story. although it must be said that there is little that is surprising, it still all seems fresh here. thats a testament to tim burton's quirkiness adapting this material of course.

another thing that people didn't react well too was the heavy amount of digital manipulation used in the movie. unfortunately despite all the advances in technology, and there are wonderful uses of it in this movie, there still seems to be a lack of ability for the artists to render convincing movement and gravity. mix that with live action and the little errors become difficult to ignore. its another movie where the effects try to convince you and fail rather than allowing you to suspend disbelief and enjoy the wild world. still for its failures its not that bad. and i think if you're willing you can tolerate a large amount of it.

lastly; they leave the open end about alice returning again and it makes the whole movie seem like a pointless tour of unreality that she'll only repeat again. theres definitely something mixed in that message that shouldn't be.

also its nice to see johnny depp can still act.

this is a fine movie, an excellent adaption, entertaining, fresh, wonderful.

be open to it and enjoy.


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deserves the respect it recieved

Posted : 5 years, 5 months ago on 13 July 2012 03:03 (A review of Brokeback Mountain)

i expected this movie to rank up there somewhere with the kind of movie titanic was. it was hyped much in the same way. but where titanic is unwatchable trite drivel, this movie has a solid core to stand on and does so much more beyond that core. it earns respect instead of buying it with pop fluff.

there were a number of things i expected to hate about the movie. jake gyllenhaal and heath ledger, on the surface of it was seemingly dicaprio and winslet picks for the story. i thought they couldn't possibly pull off anything more than a goofy impression of a cowboy and a rodeo jock. ledger is clearly better at it, but to gyllenhaal's credit he does ok. secondly, i wasn't at all interested in a story about cowboys. thankfully this story is about people who are cowboys. they have much more depth to them than is expected. i also expected since this is essentially a country boy movie that there would be a lot of awful country music. (not a fan sorry) while there is country music, its not overly in your face, and certainly not modern redneck drinkin' man music.

at 2 hours, the movie is a bit languid. especially the first quarter or so where there is very very little dialog at all. i'll say that i was tired when i watched this and it still somehow maintained my interest.

the story as everyone probably knows, is about two cowboys who meet while working in the remote country herding sheep. they fall in love. set in the 60's and on, their love is kept secret while they go on about their lives. they each get married, have kids, and jobs. and then they get together here and there to rekindle their secret love. over the years families are the mess that families can be. relationships sour, in ones case they find they didn't really love each other, in the other the wife finds out about his secret and is both understandably upset by the betrayal and disgusted by his homosexuality (i think bisexuality is probably more appropriate in his case). the ending is unexpected, both for what happens and, in my view, because the movie takes such a surprisingly long view of decades of their relationship.

beautifully film, well acted, the script is a necessary study for film majors, and all together one of the best films ever made. this movie really is about love and relationships. there will be those that hate the homosexuality of this movie, thats expected. if you can't get over that hatred, then this probably won't change you. for everyone else, this is a great movie.

on a down note. gyllenhaal is not entirely convincing as a rodeo jock. and while ledger is better he isn't completely convincing as a cowboy. those are roles that these guys took on and did their best. finding actors that could do convincing cowboys and everything else these roles required is likely impossible. i'm not talking jokingly about cowboys kissing....no, not at all.....these are complex roles that take on many different aspects of life. lesser actors would simply cower away from the demands of such a roll. in fact i think what gyllenhaal and ledger do worse than act as cowboys is act a intimate lovers. together as a relationship they are convincing, together in intimacy they are not. not bad, but not convincing.





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drags on.

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 15 June 2012 03:49 (A review of Breakfast on Pluto (Widescreen))

i wanted to like this film and its not all bad, but to be perfectly honest its slow and wrought with problems.

the whole of the story is actually quite interesting but getting to it is hard because it is simply difficult to sit through long enough to let it develop. in short: a boy is orphaned at birth and brought up in a catholic family and school. he dreams of meeting his mom who abandoned him while rebelling against the church/school priest who give him some information about his mom. its that desire to find his mom which drives the film, both in a sense that he seeks out information about her, eventually leading traveling to find her, and also in a sense that this woman represents a type of hollywood glamor that the boy aspires to. the plot then dwells on the young transgendered boy rebelling against his priest and then his adoptive family, wandering around poor, taking meaningless jobs, and falling in love with a man who is involved in guerrilla warfare. all the while parsed in a drama about being trans.

eventually, s/he finds the mom and her new family (though he does not reveal to her that s/he is her child). then s/he learns who her real dad is. which is actually fairly interesting as well as a bizarre but somewhat touching relationship that develops out of it. by the time this comes about, you have already had to sit through a lot of seeming random events which i assume is meant to show you how disorienting her life was. ultimately its a lot of nothing, having little bearing on the story itself. its a mistake and an overly long and costly one. although i generally liked the movie, i nearly didn't sit through it. i was so bored with it. i can say i'm glad i did because i found the story to be interesting, but i'll also say that i won't sit through it again, ever.

it should also be said that what really makes the story hard to sit through is the lousy acting of the main character, played by cillian murphy. cillian is not a bad actor, mind you, and makes a lovely girl. i get that they were trying to cast someone that appears feminine, but the acting is not convincing. it comes across as someone trying to act like they are gay. trying rather than an convincing portrayal. not quite parody, just missing the mark by far. and its that unconvincing portrayal coupled with the portrayal of the randomness of "outsider" waif existence that just drudges down the whole works.

too bad, it could've been a good movie. instead its a movie that few will see and fewer yet well get anything from it.

(4/10)


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between lifes

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 15 June 2012 01:55 (A review of Georgia O'Keeffe)

this movie is mixed in heart and success.

while adequate enough as it is, it is simply a shame that the material (which is rich) is muted.

at its heart the movie is about O'keefe becoming an successful artist and watching it grow through her long life. to do so it in invariably a story of Alfred Stieglitz as well. the legend says that stieglitz put some of her works in a show without her knowledge and then she demanded that they be taken down as "unfinished" and thats how they met and fell in love. frankly, the legend reeks of a "media stunt" that has more to do with a set up to suggest proof of how amazing great the work was more than it has any measure of fact to it. still as a legend it goes to show how connected o'keefe's success is to stieglitz's authority and promotion. without him we may have never seen o'keefe's work and her work may have never been developed further. of course the opposite could be true as well.

the filmmakers however wants this to be a heart warming tribute and to do so they film the bio-drama in a typical "family movie" almost made for TV sort've drama. they want it to be neat and clean, tidy and saccharine. except the love story is begins with cheating, divorice, and more cheating, and then moves on to almost abusive behavior. the themes which one could delve into using stieglitz and o'keefe's relationship is rich material and could be truly insightful. instead the filmmakers attempt to acknowledge it and move on, leaving it as a sort've footnote but then never attempting to reconcile these issues with any sense of greater meaning. in the end what we see is simply a shallow glance at what could've been a great story.

if the filmmakers had allowed themselves to get into darker corners of human drama, we would've had an exceptional study. as it is, this film is little more than a caricature. its acted as such, in fact. stieglitz's part is played as a bumbling fool. for how shallow and goofy he is portrayed, you'd almost think they wanted to make a comedy out of this. how can a man who accomplished as much as he did, be that absurdly incompetent? and o'keefe is mostly uptight.

its just a shame their lifes are so poorly portrayed here. its a good story, legend and bio inevitably mixes with them, but still there is truth in the legends. here we get a sunday morning version of it. too bad. i guess we'll have to wait for someone else to film their story.

(5/10)


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adequate americanized godzilla revisioning

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 29 May 2012 07:26 (A review of Cloverfield)

really just call it godzilla dressed by hollywood and you've summed it up. except that it does little to tell you how annoying this film actually is.

the people who made this film would be ashamed if they hadn't of made so much money doing it. its the money thrown towards this thing that carries it anywhere because on its own merrits its merely adequate.

godzilla...i mean an unidentified monster from somewhere (which is what it remains throughout the film) is on the loose in manhattan for no apparent reason (also remains true throughout the film). first we have to endure the set up to this which is where the film really falls apart. its a going away party for a guy and his buddy is filming "testimonials" so he can not watch them (a point made in the film actually) when he gets to his new home in japan. this begins the filming style for the film; aka add "blair witch" to godzilla. its the worst, and unnecessary, thing about this whole film. every second is spent trying to make the film look like it was all done coincidentally as it happened and captured on camera. none of it is remotely believable mind you, but damn if they don't try every annoying thing about bad camcorder work to make the film look like total crap (i can't imagine the amount of time, effort, and money that was put into making a bad film will be something these guys will look back on and think that was productive)

then the monster shows up and everyone in the city is being attacked. entire buildings are being destroyed by the "30 story monster" (a quote from the making of). so they attempt to flee manhattan where apparently the monster wants to stay (it never makes since why only manhattan is where this thing will ever be). they are attacked again while walking over the brooklyn bridge. the small group of friends from the party, including the guy leaving, the buddy, a girlfriend the guy just got in a fight with, and the buddy's love interest, as well as a brother who dies on the bridge are seemingly followed by the creature. literally everywhere they go this thing shows up by coincidence (yes the filmmakers actually expect you not to notice this.). bunch of other stuff happens most of which is a least entertaining. none surprising, but watchable.

the acting is adequate, but their ability to be truly convincing, which would be necessary to pull this off, is simply not here. the entire premise is built around the main guy going back to "save" his lover. their is exactly no chemistry between them and almost no attempt to build it other than to set up the plot.

the monster; i don't get the design of the monster but whatever. its bizarre looking fine whatever. watching the dvd extras will show you just how off they were in their attempts for this movie. according to the designer, with the director, they made this creature to be a "baby" and "scared". there is exactly nothing in the movie that would so much as suggest either. this thing is huge, articulated in a way i doubt any baby creature would be, and a mean as hell vicious indiscriminate killer. in matter of fact it carries on it a number of small(er) fly like monsters that do a lot of the killing of people as well as spreading some sort've instant disease.

death sentence: for me what really drives the nail in the coffin of this movie is its all out lack of purpose. again the dvd extras explain that this is a homage to godzilla. they wanted america to have "its own iconic monster". no kidding they actually think they did this here. and if it is true it simply shows how shallow we are. its clear they watched the godzilla movies but its also clear they didn't understand them. godzilla is about a monster created from nuclear mutations. its famous ending warns against making more nuclear bombs (or material in general). the american godzilla if we are supposed to get it here...comes from nothing and destroys manhattan for some reason without purpose and isn't ever stopped (at least in this film). we get a lot of "isn't it clever" filming and "aren't they cool" acting with a few required meetings with beasts but nothing else. this movie is about as shallow as they come.

its not a horrible movie. its watchable if you can tolerate the awful camera work for 80+ minutes (oh yeah that was style right?!). however its shortcomings as a story make sitting through this once all you'll ever want to do.



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key word: meditation

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 24 May 2012 12:49 (A review of Cafe Lumiere)

this is a difficult film to recommend; and i wouldn't to just about everyone. there is, of course, a small audience that may enjoy it.

first, it is a beautiful film and very well made. frankly, i loved it for what it is. the problem arises, though, that this film prefers to be lush and "meditative" rather than narrative. its a bit voyeuristic in scope. the entire film follows a woman through her daily life. we learn she is somewhat poor, has a handful of friends not many (presummedly), she is a writer researching a famous but famously elusive pianist with the help of a resale book/music store owner, and she is pregnant by her taiwanese boyfriend whom she does not want to marry.

the dvd cover almost tells more of the story than is ultimately discernible here though. her parents are "traditional" and disapprove of her being pregnant and not wanting to get married. the mother expresses some of this in the film, her father expresses this by saying almost nothing the entire film. her friend and bookstore owner is supposedly in love with her (although he mentions a wife and kid in one scene). other than them being in a room, cafe, or in a subway station they don't express anything like feelings towards each other. even the gifts she gives him are more causal thanks than suggestive. then the issue about her being a writer consists of her getting some "leads" from the book store owner, asking a man in a library if he knew him or even of him (he didn't), and asking a bar owner where another bar was that the pianist had been known to be at (maybe frequent). thats all...other than her mentioning it to someone else.

the bulk of this film is made up by people sitting (usually in a room), riding the train, and otherwise in between moments of sound and vision.

if that is you're cup of tea you may like this. otherwise you'll likely be bored out of your mind.

worse i suspect even if you like this long vignette of life passing by, you'll be left wanting at the end. the ending is as 'unspoken' as the rest. ....i'm not giving away anything here trust me....... she runs into the bookstore owner on the subway, he is recording the sounds, they are there together without saying anything (because he's recording), and that is it...roll credits.

so in the end: if he was in love with her, he didn't express it. if she was in love with him, she didn't express it. the boyfriend daddy is never more than a mention. mom expresses questions about her path in life but as a subtle mention. dad, who we only assume knows whats happening, says nothing. the research is....barely there. the writing is...not noted. and....even i was a bit surprised when it ended. there is no answer and barely an end. this is by design of course, but as i've said its going to leave a lot of people wanting something more. its no hollywood/disney story thats for sure. still, i dont' think it needs to be and i in general enjoyed watching it. i would however never recommend this to anyone and i'd have to be in a really languid mood to sit through it again.

(5/10)


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power

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 22 May 2012 07:29 (A review of Apocalypse Now)

this film is really everything its chalked up to being. what more can i say.

a man finds power in war and it corrupts him. another is sent to 'terminate his command'. along the way we get a increasingly surreal vision of war until the ultimate climax. perfectly rendered.

(10/10)


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where are they?

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 22 May 2012 07:22 (A review of Where the Wild Things Are)

mixed feelings about this film. its such rich material to use, nice film work, and then what they made is...well...sort've boring.

its not bad enough to outright hate, but its a let down.

max runs away after fighting with his mom because she's giving attention to a boyfriend and not him. his anger issues and depression are the focus of this film. the film is quite somber with a lot of unspoken passages. max finds a boat (which sets up the very possibility that the bulk of film is just a dream sequence since we see him playing with a handmade boat toy on his bed and imagining it to be real). he sets out in the boat and ends up on an island where "wild things" live. they have their own, pronounced, 'family' issues. and he's were it starts to turn iffy.

the home life of max is a bit 'after school special', but the wild life is where the magic of the story is suppose to happen, so its tolerable. except the wild life is not much different. lovely in its part real part fantasy use of effects and the characters are unique and interesting. yet in the end there is simply not much here to use up so much time and worse its entirely sombre with hardly a hint of fun. even the 'fun' parts are wrought with meaning and anticipation of things going wrong. its a heavy and relentlessly sombre movie. why? sure the lessons are here and its an admirable one, but its hard to stay with the movie. kids will surely not like how drawn out the whole thing is, and its inability to show fun. parents, who want this to be effective will thus find it useless. that leaves the casual viewer to want this movie and maybe they will.

i don't know. i walked into this movie knowing that there were mixed reviews, and i expected that i could like it...even love it. but i, too, was left wanting.

too bad. i suspect and hope actually this gets remade and who ever does it uses some parts of this film.

(6/10)


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trip to the moon!

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 12 May 2012 11:20 (A review of First Men in the Moon)

i didn't suspect that this was more of a comedy than anything else. i also didn't expect the beginning; which, as we learn, is a second trip to the moon.

its on that second trip that the explorers find evidence that they were not in fact the first to be there. a flag and a note leads them to a man who proceeds to tell them the story of their trip. it is the first trip which takes up the bulk of the movie and visits into the moon itself. inside the moon creatures await and a civilization comes into contact with the earth people. that first contact sets up a fairly serious morality tale. however the bulk of the film doesnt' rely on sci-fi tech, nor horrific creature, nor does it dwell on the drama of relationships, nor even the morality tale per say. it is at its heart a very lighthearted movie although not a laugh out loud comedy either.

in the end its a saturday morning sort've thing. fun to watch without taking serious or having to invest a lot into. and wonderful stop motion animations which is really why you're probably watching it anyway.

(7/10)


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death of a cyborg

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 5 May 2012 07:08 (A review of Natural City)

this is often called the korean bladerunner and the connection is fairly blatant. cyborgs with lifespans trying to circumvent their inevitable death. as well, a cop who falls in love with one. yet short of some nice future asain city backdrops these are about all it has in common with bladerunner. it doesn't live up to its potential although its not entirely bad either.

in fact the basis of the story is short sighted. a cop wants to prolong the life of a stripper he falls in love with. he hires a doctor that is seemingly capable of doing it. the same doctor has his own agenda to prolong his own life by transferring his memory into a cyborg which doesn't seem very logical, but then he is also apparently sending soldier cyborg into the city's main power and info source to find a fit for a transfer to a human. the fit also happens to run into the cop and this sets up a complicated relationship between the two.

honestly i may have some of the facts wrong here because i found myself not really caring what was happening. it just kind've plods along. a number of fight scenes with so many quick cuts and odd angles you'll have no idea whats happening. some pointless banter about this and that which never really amounts to much. the characters are shallow despite efforts to create relationships...its never more than something that seems placed there because it seems like it should be.

maybe i expected too much. its nicely done if not spectacular. its completely watchable if not very memorable which in my opinion sucks because there was good potential here and its never reached.

so so. maybe i wasn't in the mood. maybe its just not that great.
(6/10)


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