February 05, 2007

Bad Things Happen to Children and Those Who Really, Really Want Them

I'm still not ready to give all the details of the wild ride I've been experiencing lately, but I thought I'd give a couple notes about some films I've managed to take in over the past few weeks:

Children of Men - Every couple of weeks I get sent a feature release schedule at work. I browse through the titles and look up information on their plots at IMDB.com to get an idea of what we're going to be working on. The plot for this one had me hooked from the get-go: Near-future dystopia where women can no longer have babies. Sounded sort of science fiction, and I eat that stuff up. I placed the P.D. James novel the film was adapted from on my wishlist, and forgot about it for a while.

Fast-forward about a year later, the novel still collecting virtual-dust on my wishlist, and everywhere I look Children of Men is getting rave reviews. It's weird to me how it seemed to be released without much sort of fanfare at all. But geez, Universal should have been pushing this one hard.

Why? The movie is SO INTENSE. Every second of the film you're on edge, constantly wondering "What's going to happen next?" The camera work is masterful, and is easily the significant reason the film succeeds in making you clench your jaw and grip your theater seat for its 109 minutes. There's so much violence in it, but, I don't know quite how to explain this, but it doesn't feel explicit. You get a brief idea of what it would be like to be in a community that has turned to a war zone. You never feel safe. And just when you do the bullet whizzes past, or the building you're in gets blown up. What a ride!

Pan's Labyrinth - This was my second recent helping of Mexican filmmaking. Guillermo del Toro had previously won me over with the haunting The Devil's Backbone, whose themes are echoed in Pan's Labyrinth. Both films are set in the Spanish Civil War. Both center around children who are embattled by the war - each having been orphaned in one way or another - and who are forced to deal with abusive adults who, literally, pull no punches.

The same goes for the storytelling in Pan's - del Toro really doesn't pull any punches. They're right there, smacking you in the face. The agony of a childhood spent in the chaos of a war-torn land is clearly defined. The central character, the young Ofelia, accompanies her pregnant mother to the military outpost where her new stepfather (who can only be described as vile) is in command. To escape from her obvious stresses she creates an imaginary underworld wherein she will resume her fabled royalty after proving herself to a sneaky-looking faun.

Ultimately, I thought the film was really, really good - but it left me wanting more. From the advertising, I was expecting more scenes in the underworld, filled with all sorts of almost-frighteningly wondrous creatures. When the film was over, and I was wiping the mess of tears from my eyes, I couldn't help but have a moment of "Oh now wait, that's all?" I know, I know, people who have seen it will probably want to throw things at me, but I'm being honest! Other than that single thought when it was over, I thought the film was fantastic in all other respects - the acting was wonderful, the creature effects were sublime, and the story was compelling. Definitely, definitely, definitely worth a second look on my part.


posted at 09:43 AM

January 15, 2007

"Crank"

Crank
Written and Directed by Neveldine/Taylor

I originally watched this film on the big screen, which I felt was a far more immersive experience, and suited the film far better than my 15" iMac screen. Even so, the movie is frenzied and fun, packed to the hilt with action, violence, drug use, public sex, and profanity (although there is a supposed expletive-free "Family Friendly" version available on the DVD - I'm eager to see what that's all about). What more can a viewer ask for? Jason Statham's naked ass? Check!

But let's be a little more specific, shall we? Jason Statham stars as assassin Chev Chelios, who has been injected in his sleep with some extremely fatal "Chinese synthetic shit" by a rival. The only thing that prolongs his life is by him keeping his adrenaline pumping - at any cost. What follows is just under ninety minutes of extremely engaging action sequences, shot by debut feature directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who perfected their Attention Deficit Disorder-style in the commercial business.
posted at 12:29 PM | comments (1)

December 14, 2006

Brick

click here for amazon.com linkBrick
dir. by Rian Johnson

Film noir meets high school, this is a tale of a dangerously adult-like teenaged detective (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) trying to solve the mystery surrounding the death of an ex-girlfriend. It was a bit like watching Bugsy Malone, watching these 16- and 17-year-olds behave as Colombian druglords would. I found the dialogue to be fascinatingly inaccessible, but wonderful. At the beginning I watched this passively, not quite getting it - but as the film progressed, the tension built through a series of almost-comical displays of power-plays and violence. I finished having enjoyed watching it.
posted at 03:19 PM

October 05, 2006

The Incredibles

click here for amazon.com linkThe Incredibles
dir. by Brad Bird

If this Pixar film has any flaws, I cannot find them. Watching the movie fills me with glee every time - and not just because Sarah Vowell is in it. The craftsmanship of the animation shows mastery in all facets - the brilliant colors, the fluid movement, the real-life doll-like textures of the characters' skin - even the camera work is something to hold high on a pedestal. Oh, and the Parr family kitchen is really, really cool.
posted at 09:30 AM

September 21, 2006

Kicking and Screaming

click here for amazon.com linkKicking and Screaming
dir. by Noah Baumbach

For too many years fans of Noah Baumbach's debut film about post-collegiate ennui that was full of infinitely-quotable dialogue and dry wit were relegated to either catching the flick on random airings on the Sundance Channel, or re-watching their well-worn copies on VHS. No more! Lions Gate has done the right thing and now we have a spectacular Criterion Collection edition available. Huzzah!
posted at 06:57 PM

September 05, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

click here for amazon.com linkLittle Miss Sunshine
dir. by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris

What a funny & heart-breaking little film! It's so bizarre that a film could at once make you belly-laugh like nothing else one minute and then reduce you to tears the very next. While I felt the film to be moderately manipulative in this respect, all the performances were top-notch, and ultimately I will be buying it once it arrives on DVD.
posted at 11:51 AM

August 29, 2006

lady in the water

click here for amazon.com linklady in the water
dir. by m. night shyamalan

Bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad bad baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! Oh, this was horrible! Oh, how I dozed off!
posted at 06:44 PM

January 20, 2006

the constant gardener

click here for amazon.com linkthe constant gardener
dir. by fernando meirelles

A very riveting film with visual interest as well. Ralph Fiennes is a widower/British diplomat looking to get to the bottom of his wife's (the excellent Rachel Weisz) brutal murder, which is somehow tied to the humanitarian work she does in Africa. I found myself tensing through the last half of the movie, waiting for resolution that ultimately came, though tragically. Definitely recommend renting.
posted at 04:20 PM

December 13, 2005

king kong

click here for amazon.com linkking kong
dir. by peter jackson

The single-most entertaining film I've seen in quite awhile. I wasn't really looking forward to this movie at all, but I was really blown away by it. The effects were, well, what do you expect? They were awesome. But that APE! Andy Serkis' performance, combined with the genius of the FX crew made Kong come to life - gave him a soul I never expected. I held myself tightly throughout the 2nd act, trying not to get freaked out by all the action; and I wept for the last hour of the film, it was all so touching and tragic. Go see it on the big screen, you will not be disappointed!
posted at 05:07 PM

December 06, 2005

a lot like love

click here for amazon.com linka lot like love
dir. by nigel cole

I really liked this movie... Gah! Who am I turning into?!? Is it bad that I found Ashton Kutcher's Oliver charming? Or that I thought Amanda Peet was actually funny? Yeah, it probably is. But that didn't stop me from watching it... twice.
posted at 09:41 PM

December 01, 2005

assassin

click here for amazon.com linkassassin
margaret cho

Just. Not. Funny. Yes, I hate to say it, but Margaret's third concert-film just didn't have me in stitches as the previous two did. Oh, it had its moments, but overall, the act felt forced - and the audience's enthusiasm (or lack thereof) spoke to that, as well. For a good time, I'd rather recommend her I'm The One That I Want DVD.
posted at 02:11 PM

November 03, 2005

last days

click here for amazon.com linklast days
dir. by gus van sant

I guess my hopes were too high for this film, and I should have known better. I read a review calling the ending of the film very sad. But it just wasn't. I didn't feel any connection to the mumbling, bumbling rockstar in this film (who was supposed to represent the late Kurt Cobain) - and found myself just hoping it would end already. Does it represent depression? Does it represent isolation? Does it represent addiction? Perhaps, but not adequately.
posted at 05:16 PM

October 10, 2005

serenity

click here for amazon.com linkserenity
dir. by joss whedon

Having never watched the series, Firefly, I went into this film with zero expectations. Boy, was I nicely-surprised! I freakin' loved this movie - damned funny, moving, extraordinarily-paced - just a perfect sci-fi film. Go see it before it leaves the theatres!
posted at 12:59 PM

September 26, 2005

corpse bride

click here for amazon.com linkcorpse bride
dir. by tim burton/mike johnson

This felt like a terribly small movie compared with Nightmare Before Xmas. But for what is it, a nice, quirky little morbid tale of accidental marriage and the dead, it was pretty sweet. And the stop-motion is always fun to watch.
posted at 12:35 PM

August 15, 2005

downfall

click here for amazon.com linkdownfall
dir. by oliver hirschbiegel

A rather intense film about the last days of Hitler and those surrounding him - full of fantastic performances, especially by Bruno Ganz and Juliane Köhler (as Hitler and Eva Braun). I felt as if I were actually bearing witness to those final days in that bunker.
posted at 01:38 PM

July 27, 2005

alfie

click here for amazon.com linkalfie
dir. by charles shyer

Oh, that Jude Law! He IS a guilty pleasure. I figured the timing was perfect to watch this, what with his recent indiscretions and all. The movie? *phbhbhb* Meaning "not good". But I gotta say, he's a gorgeous bloke. Can't fault him for that!
posted at 09:52 AM | comments (2)

July 07, 2005

over the top

click here for amazon.com linkover the top
dir. by menahem golan

Bwuahahahaha! Oh, how many weekends I spent watching this on cable! The family drama! The exciting arm-wrestling! That Kenny Loggins song!! *Sigh* The world really doesn't meet anyone half-way.
posted at 02:53 PM

May 06, 2005

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

click here for amazon.com linkthe hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy
dir. by garth jennings

I found myself a bit underwhelmed by this film. I guess that's what I get for basing my excitement for the film on some conceptual art of Marvin, the depressed android. I haven't read the original book(s), so I can't say anything about the faithfulness of the screen adaptation. But I can say that there were many bits in the film that cracked me up. Alas, I guess that's all I have to say about it.
posted at 01:06 PM

March 26, 2005

miss congeniality 2: armed & fabulous

click here for amazon.com linkmiss congeniality 2: armed & fabulous
dir. by john pasquin

This was, quite possibly, the single-most disappointing movie-watching experience I've suffered through in years. God dammit, why did this have to suck so much? In stark contrast from the original, there was not an ounce of laughs to be had during the entire movie. I just have to ask Sandra Bullock, "Why??"

Perhaps disappointment doesn't adequately describe it. The first film was such a rockin'-good time for me. The laughs were sincere, the timing was great - everything seemed to work. In the sequel, however, everything felt forced. The jokes lay flat, badly written, poorly acted, woefully mis-directed - I was hardly moved to even let a groan escape my lips, I was so embarrassed for everyone involved.

The movie felt unfinished, by every measure. The script felt rushed, and seemed like it had been written by the singlemost-unfunny guy on the planet. The movie was cut together in such a slapdash manner - the pacing was painful... which brings up something else... The music (or lack thereof).

There wasn't a single well-placed musical cue in the entire thing. I think they spent every dime they had budgeted for music on the painful dragshow scene (featuring "Cabaret" and "Proud Mary"), making the occassional sting or play-on nonexistent. I was begging for a cue, but was left, instead, with shudder-inducing uncomic stunts and undramatic pauses.

Sandra Bullock could not have been less-endearing. Regina King... I was just so sad for her. The two ladies' on-screen chemistry could not have been more confusing (nor less amusing). I half-expected them to start making out towards the end of the movie. Funnily enough, I don't think the filmmakers were going for this. It's too bad, while it might not have been able to redeem the film, it certainly would have made for an interesting turn.

So, in conclusion, I think everyone involved in this cinematic disaster should be taken out, lined up, and shot, repeatedly. Even Ms. Bullock, as I believe her aptitude for sweet, funny, comedic roles is long dried out, predecessing even the previous let-down that was Two Weeks Notice. I give Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous two very sincere Tssk Tssk's. And I'll throw in a Harrumph for kicks.
posted at 08:13 AM

March 01, 2005

the aviator

click here for amazon.com linkthe aviator
dir. by martin scorsese

This film exceeded my expectations on most levels, but Cate Blanchett blew me away. There's a lot of recent talk about her Oscar-winning imitation of that other Kate, but she really nailed it and brought that charisma that Katherine Hepburn was notorious for alive. But the one thing that's always bothered me with Scorsese's pics is the god-awful ADR. A little rubbery at times and mixed at odd levels. Harrumph.
posted at 11:29 AM

February 20, 2005

constantine

click here for amazon.com linkconstantine
dir. by francis lawrence

An enjoyable 121 minutes full of enough camera tricks to fuel twenty music videos, a nice bit of Keanu Reeves' wise-cracks, an interesting look at a concept of hell, and a scary bunch of CG half-headed demons. Here's a tip: if you see it, stay until the end of the closing credits.
posted at 07:43 PM

February 13, 2005

troy

click here for amazon.com linktroy
dir. by wolfgang peterson

Wow. I'm still startled by how badly this movie sucked. Brad Pitt was HORRIBLE. Really, really bad. Who was good in it? Eric Bana was good as Hector. And Peter O'Toole was sad-eyed as always. He made me cry. When old people cry I always cry. Anyways, don't rent. Wait for it on HBO or something.
posted at 10:31 AM

February 07, 2005

ocean's twelve

click here for amazon.com linkocean's twelve
dir. by steven soderbergh

This was such a bizarre film. I can’t say more for fear of spoiling it for those of you who haven’t yet seen it. If you’re interested in reading on, click on “keep reading"; if not, suffice it to say that I thought this film was partly bizarre, yet mostly dull – meaning I was capable of enjoying it.

Okay, you’ve come to the other side. I’m really easy to please in the film-department (as opposed to when I attended college and scoffed at any mainstream movie), so generally, I enjoyed this flick. I don’t really need a full plot to be happy. Give me a couple of funny one-liners and try to trick me. I can usually see where something’s going, so when you try to pull a fast one, I usually come off feeling superior for knowing your direction beforehand.

Anyways, this film had all kinds of goofy things that any self-respecting film reviewer would denounce – but I am no self-respecting film reviewer! I liked the gaudy nature of Vincent Cassel’s character, “The Nightfox” (tee hee)– and, contrary to what others may think, I think he’s hot. I also enjoyed where they went with the whole “Julia Roberts is Tess Ocean is Julia Roberts” thing. I enjoyed the simplicity of it – and the gall of the filmmakers to “go there”. When was the last time a megastar in a film played a character who was passing themselves off as their actual real-life personality?

In summation, the movie was duller than the color gray for the most part. But because I have no taste, I was capable of enjoying it.
posted at 03:48 PM

February 05, 2005

sideways

sideays onesheetsideways
dir. by alexander payne

Really not as bad as I expected it to be. The first trailer I watched for it made me wanna throw up a little, and then all the praise I kept hearing about it, from co-workers and in the media, made me want to watch it even less. But I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.
posted at 09:34 AM

January 29, 2005

white noise

white noise onesheetwhite noise
dir. by geoffrey sax

I love a flick that has the balls to throw every dirty visual and sonic trick in the book to incite its audience to jump from their seats. If it's been too long since you've felt a sickly adrenaline rush, stop by the theater and buy a ticket for this one.
posted at 09:40 PM

December 13, 2004

closer

closer onesheetcloser
dir. by mike nichols

A bit more lewd than many in the audience were expecting, mostly in regards to a particularly humorous chatroom exchange. I enjoyed it. The actors just melted into their characters without any weird "Hey, that's Julia Roberts!" moments.
posted at 10:43 AM

December 09, 2004

shrek 2

shrek 2 imageshrek 2
dir. by c. vernon & a. adamson

"Blech 2" might have been a more appropriate name. Wildy disappointing. The jokes were predictable and mostly lame. I really wanted to like this one, as I enjoyed the first. Oh well.
posted at 10:45 AM

December 05, 2004

house of flying daggers

house of flying daggers imagehouse of flying daggers
dir. by zhang yimou

Like watching poetry in motion. What I liked best was the visual element, and the beautiful, vivid coloring towards the end of the film - the green, the yellow, the blue, purple & red. Some of the dialogue was a bit hokey for my taste, but it was written in Mandarin, not English - so I don't wanna judge.
posted at 08:39 PM

November 27, 2004

a very long engagement

want onea very long engagement
dir. by jean-pierre jeunet

Another visual spectacle by Jeunet. Um, yeah, I liked it. Can't say the same for the friend I watched it with - who fell asleep during an opening night showing - whatever!

posted at 06:38 PM

November 24, 2004

zoolander

zoolanderzoolander
dir. by b. stiller

"Do you understand that the world does not revolve around you and your do whatever it takes, ruin as many people's lives, so long as you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied along the way, just so long so you can make a name for yourself as an investigatory journalist, no matter how many friends you lose or people you leave dead and bloodied and dying along the way?"
posted at 06:46 PM

October 25, 2004

i heart huckabees

i heart huckabeesi ♥ huckabees
dir. by david o. russell
This movie is any ex-philosophy student's dream come true. It was riotously funny from the beginning through the end.... And Jude Law is in it... I'm just sayin'...

posted at 03:02 PM

October 19, 2004

shaun of the dead

shaun of the deadshaun of the dead
dir. by e. wright
♥ ♥ ♥

This flick was a bloody good time. It wasn't nearly as gory as I expected it to be (which was good, in my case). Plus, any movie with not one, but two The Office castmates in it is great by me!!

posted at 01:51 AM

September 30, 2004

paycheck

paycheckpaycheck
dir. by j. woo

This movie sucked - sucked, sucked, sucked! From the very first scene I could tell I was going to dislike it... a lot. I want a paycheck for the two hours I spent watching this sad excuse for filmed-entertainment. Ugh!

posted at 01:45 PM

September 15, 2004

barbarian invasions

barbarian invasionsthe barbarian invasions
dir. by d. arcand

Okay, if you're not looking for a French-subtitled film that will make you smirk, then laugh, then CRY YOUR FUCKING EYES OUT - then I suggest you not watch this. Otherwise, go for it.

posted at 09:20 PM

September 06, 2004

underworld

underworldunderworld
dir. by l. wiseman

This really wasn't so bad. I remember, shamefully, wanting to see this movie back when it was released in theatres. I caught it on cable last night, and quite enjoyed it. I'm interested to see what they do with the sequel, as it's certainly worthy of such.

posted at 01:34 PM

July 07, 2004

city of god

city of godcity of god
dir. by k. lund & b. mantovani

Can I just say how relieved I was, after having watched this powerful film, to not have been born into the slums of Rio de Janeiro? Very, very relieved. We suburban kids (well, former suburban kids, now suburban "adults") didn't know how easy we had it.

posted at 01:04 PM

June 30, 2004

touching the void

touching the voidtouching the void
dir. by kevin macdonald

It took me forever to see this, I kept putting it off for no good reason. Wow! I remember the reaction I had while reading Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" - and I felt it again watching this last night. Is it bad that it makes me wanna take up mountaineering?

posted at 11:20 AM

June 17, 2004

beyond borders

beyond bordersbeyond borders
dir. by martin campbell

I rented this because, well, I'm a closet Angelina Jolie fan. And I admire the work she's done with the UNHCR. I think she's one of the few "celebrities" affiliated with the UN who is not bullshit about it, but really puts her time, money, energy and heart into the involvement...

That being said, this movie did not particularly move me. The viewer is treated to a small sampling of the horrors that befall refugees from around the world everyday - but we're never really shown why it matters. We are let in through the perspective of a revised socialite, a woman torn between an upper-middle class lifestyle and the humane desire to see needy people be taken care of.

But apart from the intrinsic sense of helping we should all hope to have in spades, what message is this supposed to send the casual viewer? There's nothing about the refugees shown in the film, besides their impoverishment, that would drive a person to be moved to action. We are witnessing them at their worst, but get no glimpse of them as the rounded humans they are.

And the film also attempts at a love story between the leald (AJ) and the cynical, yet blindly-zealous field doctor. The love story fails, in my opinion. It's not that Jolie and Clive Owen aren't fun to look at, but the portrayal of their relationship doesn't make sense, her attachment to him doesn't make sense.
posted at 06:23 PM

June 11, 2004

win a date with tad hamilton

win a datewin a date with tad hamilton
dir. by robert luketic

Doesn't the last name "Luketik" sound like what you would label someone with some affliction, a la, "diabetic"? Just a random musing to divert attention from the fact that I actually watched this movie.

I don't know why I added this to my Netflix queue. I have no excuse, really. Perhaps I was watching an episode of "That 70's Show" and fancied Topher Grace a bit too much. I'll take this opportunity to apologize to myself: Julie, I'm sorry you couldn't stop yourself from putting this disc into the DVD player. I apologize for the cackling at the lame jokes, and the crying at the sappy ending. A heartfelt apology must be made for not resisting the urge to add a crap-tastic movie like this to your Netflix queue and taking valuable time away from more important Netflix-viewing - like the 4-disc DVD set of the "Punky Brewster" first season. So sorry.
posted at 10:52 AM | comments (1)

May 21, 2004

master and commander

master and commandermaster and commander: far side of the world
dir. by peter weir

Not as bad as I was expecting, however I'm not exactly sure HOW this got into my Netflix queue. I rather liked the fact that, within the first ten minutes of the film, you get to see some 12 yr old kid get his right arm amputated. The most interesting aspect of the film was the involvement of the young boys in the British Naval service.

posted at 01:26 PM

March 23, 2004

connie and carla

connie and carlaconnie and carla do l.a.
dir. by michael lembeck

Yeahhhhh... so.... I didn't like this so much. Toni Collette gives a good performance (as usual), but I spent the entire length of the movie waiting for it to get good. It just... didn't. But if you're really into the showtunes/dinner theater/light-cabaret thing, it's totally your bag.

posted at 10:46 PM

February 09, 2004

gerry

gerrygerry
dir. by gus van sant

I'm not known for my affinity for Matt Damon or any of the Afflecks, but I do have an intense fondness for the vastness and sublime beauty of the desert. I'll kid you not, this is not an action-packed adventure by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a meditation on being out there in the middle of it. Please folks, if you're going to go on an afternoon hike in the desert, bring some water!

posted at 10:55 PM

January 31, 2004

being john malkovich

being john malkovichbeing john malkovich
dir. by spike jonze

When I saw this film in the theatre, I went in knowing of Spike Jonze the music video director, and thought this would be an interesting way to spend an afternoon. I left the theatre completely awestruck at what I had just witnessed.

From the opening shot of the marionettes to the underwater sequence in the closing credits, I was enraptured. I still cannot put into words exactly what I liked about this film. Everything. It was my introduction to the phenomenally offbeat and refreshing work of Charlie Kaufman - a writer who seems to have found his niche in this business as just that - offbeat and refreshing. I am so looking forward to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I was, strangely, a bit letdown by his follow-ups, Human Nature and Adaptation (perhaps I just need to watch them a second time), but from what I've heard, Eternal Sunshine is gonna be awesome.
posted at 10:19 PM

December 30, 2003

coldplay: live 2003

coldplay livecoldplay live 2003
dvd/cd set

I wanted this for christmas, but nobody got it for me, so I went and bought it for myself. So there. As to the content, part of me doesn't want to like Coldplay, but I can't resist. They make some fine music.

posted at 10:21 PM

October 15, 2003

intolerable cruelty

intolerable cruelty onesheetintolerable cruelty
dir. by joel & ethan coen

My first free employee screening! This was much, much more funny than I expected it to be. It contains some very witty, fast-paced dialogue. Paul Adelstein's performance as character, Wrigley, was the highlight for me. There are far more cliches in this film than you can shake a stick at, but they work. I recommend it.

posted at 11:53 AM

September 22, 2003

in this world

in this world onesheetin this world
dir. by m. winterbottom

A gritty film made in faux-documentary style (in a rare case where its employ is poignant), this engrossing fictional film takes us into the lives of two Afghan refugees as they make the courageous and tragic journey from their camp in Pakistan to London in hopes of a better future.

I don't know exactly why I was drawn to see this film. I don't remember what I was expecting. But I found this film to be very satisfying, as it fed my interest in continuing to inform myself of what's going on in the wider world.

In school growing up, we were never taught about displaced peoples of the world, or how there are tens of millions of people who've been forced to flee their homes and live in ramshackle camps with little or none of the basic amenities of life. Our awareness of that idea was limited, in the public school curriculum I was taught at least, to the plight of "our ancestors" who fled religious persecution overseas to a land of opportunity. A land where they would be freely accepted, and in turn, displace a whole other nation of individuals.

In today's age, that profound opportunity is no longer as "easy" as pulling up stakes and getting on a boat. There are no longer large continents or nations that would tolerate a mass influx of immigrants. These people have nowhere else to go but to refugee camps, funded largely by public international organizations, that are filled beyond capacity with families and orphans struggling and scraping to stay alive, to not succumb to rampant illness or violence against them by guerilla factions.

This film doesn't address any of these larger issues, or by any means dare to proffer a solution. However, it allows us a brief stay with two courageous young men, boys, if you will - who, with the help of funds and services negotiated by their hopeful relatives, take on a journey of thousands and thousands of miles through completely unknown and highly dangerous territories.

This film is not easy to watch for reasons both technical and emotional. It was shot on digital video with a skeleton crew of a director, a cameraman and sound recordist. They had neither the use of artificial light nor dollies nor professional actors, and sometimes needed to resort to less-than-legal means of moving these two real-life refugees across borders. But at this film's heart is the prevailing will and humanity of these two boys - will and humanity which is often robbed of people in far less traumatic circumstances. The line between fact and fiction is blurred in a way I wasn't prepared for.

After having viewed this film, I certainly feel a new sense of reality in the face of a society which both breeds and clouds our vision with consumerism.

I urge you to seek this movie out. With thanks to the Sundance organization, "In This World" and several other films with little hope of wide distribution are being viewed in several major cities across the U.S. If it doesn't come to a theatre near you, a video release is likely. I now humbly step down from my soapbox. ;)
posted at 02:39 PM

September 16, 2003

björk: royal opera house

björk: royal opera house DVD coverbjörk: live at the royal opera house
2001

I've been watching this over and over and over and over and over.

posted at 02:46 AM

June 12, 2003

the pianist

the pianist DVD coverthe pianist
dir. by roman polanski

What a great movie! Adrien Brody was very deserving in his win. My viewing was unfortunately hampered by the fact that my DVD player has going sour. It hiccuped and froze in the middle of the film, and caused a very frustrating emotional break.

posted at 06:32 PM

June 04, 2003

secretary

secretary DVD coversecretary
dir. by steven shainberg

I rented this DVD, after having missed it in theaters. I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was actually really sweet, in the way that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movies are sweet. I highly recommend it, and will own it myself as soon as possible.


posted at 02:09 AM

May 06, 2003

mr. show - seasons 1 & 2

mr. show DVD covermr. show - complete seasons 1 & 2
bob odenkirk & david cross




I like to break this DVD set out every few weeks or so - I come across somethings new in it every single time I watch it. I guess they're coming out with more DVDs including later seasons, so that's pretty exciting.
posted at 02:06 PM

May 05, 2003

winged migration

winged migration one sheetwinged migration
dir. by jacques perrin, jacques cluzaud, michel debats


this film was bee-YOO-tiful!




I went and saw this movie on Friday night by myself at the ArcLight Theatre in the Hollywood. After a few hiccups with the seating arrangement, I settled into watching this awe-inspiring film filled with migrating birds. At first I didn't think there would be any speaking at all, just music and the sounds of the birds, but after about fifteen minutes into the thing, a voice with a french accent began to explain the migration of the birds.

I don't want to spoil this movie for you, but there's alot more to this film than just seeing birds fly through different weather patterns across different lands. It tugs at your heart and makes you think about our environment as a whole - and how much what we do affects just this one group in the animal kingdom so much - but they retain their beauty and their majesty.... I highly recommend.
posted at 11:06 AM

the stone reader

stone reader one sheetthe stone reader
dir. by mark moskowitz

I'll never get those two hours back!


My friend David DRAGGED me to this lame documentary. Here's the story, in a nutshell: a guy, named Mark Moskowitz, buys a book back in 1972 when he was a teenager, doesn't really read it, forgets about it, and twenty-five years go by before he rediscovers the book. He reads it as a middle-aged man and thinks it is the BEST THING EVER. He decides he wants to read everything else this guy has written - but alas, finds that the guy hasn't written anything else since. So he decides to make a documentary about his search for what happened to this author.

First off, this guy, Moskowitz was very annoying, and it was impossible for me to sympathise or connect with him in any way. He kept asking the same stupid, boring question of all of his subjects: "So, why do you think an author would write such a good book and then just disappear?" - Like that never happens. (Sigh). At least I got to eat a good lunch at California Pizza Kitchen afterwards, otherwise it would have been such a wasteful day...
posted at 10:54 AM

May 02, 2003

girls just want to have fun

amélie artgirls just want to have fun
dir. by alan metter (he also directed the growing pains movie!)
"Velcro. Next to the Walkman and Tab it is the coolest invention of the 20th century!" ...Yes, I own this DVD... I received this DVD for my birthday, from a friend who knows how cheese my taste in films tend to be. I had previously bought the VHS version, but was upset because I had to watch it in MONO, because the stere tracks were all messed up. But now, thankfully, I can watch it in all its widescreen, 5.1 glory! I don't see how anyone could NOT like this movie.
posted at 12:41 PM

May 01, 2003

amélie

amélie artamélie
dir. by jean-pierre jeunet
This DVD has been sitting in my deck for the better half of a week now. Everything about this film I love...

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to learn the French language (French-boycotters be damned!). One of the main reasons for this was this very movie. When I saw the film in theaters I was so taken with the character of Amélie - Audrey Tautou was a perfect bit of casting for this part. So cute, so charming. And I still have a crush on Mathieu Kassovitz. Every bit of this film is lovely, from the use of bold and deep colors, to the humor and poetry behind the scene with the goldfish. I would definitely place this film on my Top 5 (if I had one), and I'm a little saddened by the rarity of a gem like Amélie.
posted at 11:20 AM

April 30, 2003

a mighty wind

a mighty wind - soundtrack cover

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