Posts Tagged ‘2007’

Death Proof – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Oktober 11th, 2010


A group of attractive young woman meets the mysterious and creepy Stuntman Mike, whose fetish is deadly car crashes. Naturally, things don’t end well for the girls, but luckily Mike meets some more formidable opponents as his next targets. Quentin Tarantino’s homage to the grindhouse thrillers, cheap exploitation flicks designed to entertained and titillate, is far too sophisticated for its own good. The fake scratches in the picture can not disguise the polished design. Tarantino made an entertaining film – even his worst efforts, such as this one, are that – but it works neither as a homage nor a spoof of a genre that is probably best forgotten. Simply put: a bad script and bad acting do not make a so-bad-it’s-good film, you also need a bad director for that. Undone by his own vanity, Tarantino luckily went on to make the far superior Inglourious Basterds.

Random Observations:

Death Proof at the IMDb

I first saw the film in an open-air cinema back in 2007, the only showing of the original Grindhouse double bill (combined with Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror) in Germany. It started to really rain after the first thirty minutes, so I left early. And while the rest of the film is slightly better than the beginning, it’s not any better than I hoped or expected.

When you desperately need bad actors, it’s not such a bold move to cast a stuntwoman (Zoe Bell) in a lead role. Surprisingly, her acting doesn’t really stand out from the crowd.

The female dialogue Tarantino writes is so annoying that you can’t help but root for bad guy Kurt Russell, who while not cool or scare, at least is not annoying. At least until his inevitable breakdown into a crying baby.

I really should have put spoiler tags on that last paragraph. My bad.

Across the Universe – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Mai 14th, 2010


Before watching this film, I simply called it The Beatles Musical. Which it existentially is, even though it has nothing to do with the Fab Four. Set in the 60s, it is a dramatic love story of  Liverpudlian working stiff Jude, trying to make it as an artist in New York, and upper-class American girl Lucy. The background is the Vietnam war, the anti-war protest movement and so on, all set to some classic Beatles songs, that mostly actually advance the story. It’s an interesting experiment that creates a unique film, despite not always working. Nevertheless, it is an intriguing re-imagination of the Beatles oeuvre and an entertaining, if not completely coherent film.

Random Observations:

Across the Universe at the IMDb

The fantastical/psychedelic sequences of the film seemed to be inspired by the work of Terry Gilliam. Which is, naturally, a good thing.

The producers paid $10,000,000 for the rights to use the Beatles’ songs, but were prohibited from mentioning the name of the band anywhere, including the posters for the film. They just barely managed to include the names of the songwriters (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr…) in the end credits.

The film is very colourful.

Some of the musical numbers are exquisitely choreographed. Especially when connecting character Max – friend of Jude, brother of Judy – is being drafted.

Was Judy’s early boyfriend killed in Vietnam or in riots in Detroit? I thought Detroit, but apparently the consensus is that he was killed in Vietnam, despite not yet having shipped out there.

Silk – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, April 2nd, 2010


In 1862, a young French man returns to his village, falls in love and gets a job as a trader, buying silk worm eggs, that help to sustain the village’s economy. He travels repeatedly to Japan and is torn between the love for his wife and a Japanese woman. The story does sound kind of promising, but it does not deliver on that promise at all. The best parts are the few travelling scenes, with truly beautiful pictures, but otherwise the film is boring, pointless and plodding. The revelation at the end is not bad, but since the film never developed any of the characters, ultimately pointless as well.

Random Observations:

Silk at the IMDb

I wanted to see the film because I wondered what Michael Pitt would do with a straight-up leading men role. Let’s just say he should better stick to genre fare and bit parts.

The story takes place (mostly) in France and Japan. The film is based on the novel by an Italian author (Alessandro Baricco). The non-Japanese lead actors are British and American. Since the director is Canadian, this makes the film a Canadian-French-Italian-British-Japanese Production. How’s that for international movie making?

In the Valley of Elah – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, März 23rd, 2010


A soldier returns from Iraq only to immediately go missing. His father, a former soldier himself, starts to investigate. Before long, the body of his son is found, horribly mutilated. The remaining question is, who is responsible. As he encounters opposition from the military police and little help from the local police, he sets out to uncover his son’s fate. The film is a combination of a fairly straight-forward whodunnit and an examination of the effect war has on soldiers. There is little subtlety to the message and the last scenes are especially superfluous, but that does not detract much from the simple truth and honesty of the well-made film.

Random Observations:

In the Valley of Elah at the IMDb

The film is based on a true story, albeit one that is never referenced or mentioned directly.

The title refers to the valley where the mythical fight between David and Goliath took place.

The story was written by Mark Boal, who also wrote the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Similarities between the two films can not be denied.

Directed by Paul Haggis, whose previous film Crash also won a Best Picture Oscar. It was similarly obvious, but nevertheless true.

Shoot ‘Em Up – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Februar 26th, 2010


When Clive Owen observes a pregnant woman being hunted by armed men, he interferes and shoots the multitude of attackers while delivering the baby. But the woman still dies and so for the rest of the film, he has to figure out what is going on while getting into more and more ridiculous firefights. The film is an action movie of the purest sort, with the silly plot just an excuse to piece together the action set pieces and one-liners by the lead. But the film is well aware of how insanely stupid it is and just runs with it, in the process becoming more entertaining than any serious attempt in the genre while also subverting it. Quite simply put, the film is a lot of fun.

Random Observations:

Shoot ‘Em Up at the IMDb

I was quite sure I had already reviewed the film since I have seen it before, but apparently not. So the judgement above still holds true after two repeat viewings.

The entire film is completely over the top and everyone is obviously enjoying it, but none more so than Paul Giamatti as the lead villain. Too describe his performance as scenery chewing would be an understatement.

The film is filled with supremely bad puns. If you have a weakness for those, as do I, you will love the film.

Eastern Promises – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Februar 3rd, 2010


A young girl dies while giving birth, prompting the midwife to investigate, with the help of her diary, into her past. She comes up against the Russian mob in London, who are absolutely ruthless. The worst of them is a guy repeatedly proclaiming to just be the driver, but who actually does everything he is asked to do. But it is this man who also seems oddly reluctant to harm the midwife. This David Cronenberg film, again teaming him with Viggo Mortensen after the success of A History of Violence, is much more about the characters than the plot about human trafficking and the promises made to young woman in the East about life in the West. It’s a careful study, once more, of violent people and is carried in that by Mortensen in the lead role. It’s not a great film, maybe not even one of Cronenberg’s best, but it’s certainly worth your time.

Random Observations:

Eastern Promises at the IMDb

The three main men in the film are supposed to be Russians living in London – and they are played by an American, a Frenchman and a German. All three of them are convincing enough, it just struck me as peculiar.

The first film that Cronenberg shot entirely outside Canada.

Apparently, the portrayal of the Russian mobsters and their code struck pretty close to reality. It certainly seems more real than the glorifying mafia films that have come out of Hollywood.

The Visitor – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, Januar 28th, 2010


Recently widowed college professor Walter has to go to New York City for a conference. Once there, he meets illegal immigrants Tarek and Zainab, who are living in his apartment, unaware of his existence. At first he throws them out, but then feels sorry for them and allows them to stay. He spends time with them and comes out of his laconic state, even learning to play the djembe, a type of drum, from Tarek. But then, Tarek is arrested and deportation is threatened and Walter becomes even more involved.

The film is neither preachy nor hopeful, simply portraying the grim realities of illegal immigrants in the US, without ever glorifying one side. The story is touching without making any sacrifices to it, carried by (largely unknown) actors that are clearly invested in the film and subject matter.

Random Observations:

The Visitor at the IMDb

You know what would be great? Releasing films in foreign countries shortly after their domestic release, not two years later.

Lead Richard Jenkins was nominated for an Oscar for this film – but that was only last year.

Most films have a plot whose main events can be easily summed up in a single sentence. Here, the plot is so complex and the story moves so much that any short summary leaves out important information. So if you are dissatisfied with my few words above, rest assured that I did not walk out halfway through the film.

Actress Hiam Abbass also stars in the Israeli/Palestinian Film Etz Limon, which I still haven’t gotten around to seeing.

We Own the Night – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, November 19th, 2009


It’s a drug war in late 80s New York and two brothers are caught in the middle of it, one a police officer and the other managing a club that is used to distribute drugs. Naturally, the latter has to decide which side he stands on and all that stuff, but the promising idea is never fully explored in this thoroughly predictable thriller that never really thrills. Director James Gray tries very hard to make a stylish film, but ultimately the story is just not interesting enough, the acting (especially by everybody’s darling Joaquin Phoenix, who just mumbles his way through the film) to atrocious and the style just to copied to create anything worth watching.

Random Observations:

We Own the Night at the IMDb

Sunshine – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, Oktober 25th, 2009


Fifty years in the future, after a stellar accident, the sun is dying. The Icarus II is the second spacecraft send to reignite the sun with a big bomb, after the first one failed to deliver the payload. As they enter the last part of their mission, cut off from communicating with the earth, a slow, suspenseful space drama in the best tradition of 2001: A Space Odyseey or Solaris unfolds. And until the last third, the film is nearly perfect, with a well constructed even if slightly illogical story, superb acting and an atmospheric density that makes the offworldly experiences believable. Sadly, the film takes a sharp turn in the last act, when (Spoilers ahead!) the film develops into an Alien-like space horror film. Nevertheless, an ambitious and ultimately rewarding true science-fiction film.

Random Observations:

Sunshine at the IMDb

The film was a commercial and critical flop, despite being by well-liked director Danny Boyle.

It’s really sad to see such a disappointing ending to an otherwise great film. Sure, it doesn’t completely ruin it, far from it, but one can’t help but long for what could have been.

But hey, at least the final scene sort of makes up for it.

Eagle Vs Shark – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 16th, 2009


Lily works at a fast food restaurant, is (rightfully) considered odd by her co-workers and is in love with Jarrod. When she impresses him with her video-game skills at a “dress as your favourite animal” party, they end up together and go to visit his family, where complications follow. The film is an extremely unusual romantic comedy, with some great ideas and a certain sweetness that the sterile Hollywood rom-coms of today completely lack. The film is often funny, but also very sad in it’s portrayal of life. Utterly predictable, yet also disarmingly honest.

Random Observations:

Eagle vs Shark at the IMDb

Lily may be the nicest Manic Pixie Dream Girl of all time – and also the most realistic one.

The title sounds more like a horrible B-movie, but it’s actually about their favourite animals. I think tribute parties are definitely in order.