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Showing posts from March, 2010

La Traversée

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Title: La Traversée (The Crossing)
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Documentary
Director: Aurélie Du Boys
Language: French

I believe my great admiration and the status I give to "Yann Tiersen" is no secret, so it is quite natural that I end up watching this film that documents the process of making his 5th album, "Les Retrouvailles", which happens to be one of my favorite albums of all time. The is a work that enters with ease to the heArt. There is no dramatizing or romanticizing what goes on. There is no need to. "Aurélie" simply gracefully moves along letting "Tiersen's" music be the narrative with an elegant use of imagery of "Brittany", of which "Tiersen" comes from and where the album was recorded. With no exaggeration, we see how the man has a beauty of his own and which he reflects in his own music. Naturally we see some bumps along the way, yet naturally they are overcome to produce such a remarkable work.

Starting with a live…

Camp Slaughter

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Title: Camp Slaughter (aka Camp Daze) (2005)
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Horror
Starring: Anika C. McFall, Matt Dallas, Jon Fleming
Director: Alex Pucci
Duration: 94 mins

Hey what do ya know, ol’ Nick has another camp slasher movie to review. What a surprise! Well, actually, it IS a surprise…

Four Maine friends are traveling to Boston for an abortion appointment (!) when all of a sudden their car breaks down in the middle of the woods and it’s mysteriously nighttime. After a terrifying night in their SUV, they are woken up in the morning by Camp Hiawatha counselors. Apparently the four have broken down right outside the camp. Only these counselors are kind of strange… they wear short shorts, they think the SUV is an army tank, and they talk really funny (“Grody! Like, gag me with a spoon!”). Soon they notice that all the calendars say August 1981. To make matters worse, there is a killer on the loose slaughtering all the campers. And to make matters WORSE worse, when the morning comes everyth…

Ninja Assassin

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Title: Ninja Assassin
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Action
Starring: Rain (I’m a Cyborg)
Director: James McTeigue

I know what you’re thinking, what a supremely original title. How could this be anything but an epic masterpiece worthy of any lofty title bestowed upon it; in case the sarcasm has yet to hit, if you’re looking for a decent plot you’re really looking in the wrong place. As sceptical as such a title would make any film fan, rather than allude to some frightfully dull overused concept, has a far more ‘Snakes on a Plane’ sense to it; what they both lack in subtlety they make up for by delivering precisely what they claim to, which in this case means ninja warrior carnage with plenty of CGI bloodshed, martial arts to keep the “Tony Jaa” fanboys at bay, and that classic Rambo tradition of shooting everything with really big guns. Original? No. But it sure is damn fun.

The story consists of three plot lines; the journey of the adult ninja Raizo, trained to ruthlessly assassinate any targe…

The Prophecy

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Title: The Prophecy
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Religious Horror
Starring: Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Christopher Walken
Director: Gregory Widen

Religious films always interest me, and this one is no exception. With a combination of a badly written cheesy script and some really boring and dull acting, save two roles which I will mention, the film came below my expectations and turned out to be a silly B-Horror flick. This is the story of a badass priest turned detective (Koteas) as he gets caught in the pissed off angel Gabriel's (Walken) search for this evil soul that will wreak havoc and give rise to another hell on earth! Hallelujah! Everyone seems pissed off in this film. No love in heaven for "Gabriel", "Thomas" (Koteas) for having these visions of angels kicking each other's asses, even "Lucifer" (Viggo Mortensen) who appears later on in the film is pissed off that of the new competition. One Hell is good, but two Hells is a no no… I forgot about …

Legion

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Title: Legion
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Starring: Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Durand
Director: Scott Stewart

Its not often that a big name film comes out that actually has me wanting to watch it, sparking my interest sufficiently to keep my eye on the release date until the fateful day I could see if it lives up to the image in my mind, which I expect is probably more than a little different from the average viewers. Now don’t get me wrong, the very notion of a gun-toting angel hiding out in a bar does tickle my fancy more than a little but this was not the potential I was after. It’s the recruitment of the ‘epic speech man’ who made “A Knights Tale” (Bettany) as the lead that had me hoping for something far more interesting than a bad action: the accidental B-Movie.

It is the small time bar in the middle of nowhere that is the convenient location for this tale of terror, with the pregnant waitress knocked up by an unknown father and some mechanic willing to pretend t…

Infestation

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Title: Infestation
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror, Comedy
Starring: Chris Marquette, Brooke Nevin, Ray Wise
Director: Kyle Rankin

Another one of those low-budget ‘SyFy’ flicks, the ones that get given a shoestring budget to play around with and usually fail in a horrendously amusing manner, this is one that stood out to me. Not only was it given a comparatively large budget ($5 million) to splash out on CGI that whilst felt dated, was no worse than a film released a few years back, but the cast also includes Ray Wise (the devil from ‘Reaper’ amongst others) meaning I can’t blame poor acting on the fact they cast nobodies for most of the roles. Everything looks like it could be shaping up for something – if perhaps not good then – at least entertaining. Except it really isn’t.

The lack of any explanation in particular grates on me; this is a film about an infestation of giant bugs that are a sort of combination of random pieces of existing insects - the legs and ability to form a we…

Lucky Star

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Title: Lucky Star (Raki Suta)
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Series
Duration: (25mins - 24 Episodes plus 2 OVA)
Starring: Aya Hirano, Emiri Katou, Kaori Fukuhara, Aya Endo (Wendee Lee, Kari Wahlgren, Michelle Ruff, Karen Strassman)
Director: Yutaka Yamamoto (fired after four episodes), Yasuhiro Takemoto
Language: Japanese (dubbed)

"Raise your hand if you thought of something naughty!"

I hate it when this sort of thing happens; I see something, look for the appeal and prematurely jump to conclusions. If you have ever seen a better example of the cliché style of animé drawings that pander to the notion of the childish cute or ‘moé’ to many fans, then I’ve yet to see it. Yet that’s the point, it’s done excessively and purposefully to the point that it makes you cringe, and then when you realise how self-aware it is the entire piece becomes interesting. This isn’t just pandering to the otaku crowd who determine the quality of a programme by how paedophilically cute they l…

Brokeback Mountain

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Title: Brokeback Mountain
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Romance-Drama
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams
Director: Ang Lee

Some of those who will watch this film would watch it with the idea of a "gay cowboys film" imprinted in their minds; this is not how I found this film. This is the story of "Ennis" (Ledger) and "Jack" (Gyllenhaal) who end up working together alone in the mountains. At one moment, driven by an instantaneous spur of passion, they have sex. This shall eternally affect their lives. What I truly enjoyed in this film is that we are presented with a work focusing on the human side of two individuals that shared something considered "taboo", the others would treat them as fiends if they found out, these two themselves don't know what are they exactly experiencing, and what we experience is a tale of "forbidden love" that we find it reminiscent to many other romances of older times. "Ang Lee" br…

Hausu

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Title: Hausu (House)
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Kumiko Ohba, Miki Jinbo, Eriko Tanaka
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Language: Japanese

This is by most measures of a successful film almost exactly the opposite. The plot less coherent than the plot of ‘Lost’ if it was slammed into 90 minutes, and with ‘special effects’ that are only special in making you appreciate the fact we're no longer are plagued with random glowing lights to indicate something magical, as if floating heads and dismembered fingers playing piano didn’t already hint at this. This is so dreadful in fact, that it evokes more images of ‘Evil Dead’ than anything else (yet predates it by four years) with more than a dash of ‘Wizard of Oz’ style backdrops and insanity to send this into full-blown cheesy overdrive.

Fortunately it doesn’t take long before all hopes of deciphering the perplexing random sequence of events is lost and you realise that there can be no mistaking this for a seriou…

Othello

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Title: Othello (1995)
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Drama
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Irène Jacob, Kenneth Branagh
Director: Oliver Parker

And another round with films adapted of plays by "The Bard", this time, again with one of his greatest works, "Othello". It's quite simple why I chose this version, "Branagh's" role as the green-eyed monster "Iago", especially that this is the only time he is directed by another in an adaptation. While the acting was the best part of the film, "Parker" robbed the play of its essence and changed it to a completely different matter. While the film's plot doesn't need much explanations, "Iago's" seemingly un-justified despise to "Othello" and his quest to literally destroy the Moor's life, "Parker" presented us with a confusing adaptation of which we aren't really sure of its theme. I understand cutting some parts of plays in their adaptations, but addi…

Strangers on a Train

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Title: Strangers on a Train
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller
Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

It would appear as though I am committing some form of critic’s blasphemy, starting my first foray into the work of one of the most celebrated directors of all time – with one of his most renowned films no less – and the result is one of mild bewilderment. If this is what can be expected of his greatest accomplishments, then I dread to think what one of his worst films would have presented me for whilst certainly not a dire effort by any stretch of the imagination, it would appear his reputation as a master of cinema comes as more than a little unfounded.

With a superb script formed from a novel by “Patricia Highsmith,” the simplicity of the proceedings proves to be its greatest strength; following the two lead roles from the first meeting all the way to the bitter end, it is the crazy idea of one Bruno Anthony (Walker) – a man desperately look…

North by Northwest

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Title: North by Northwest
Rating: 4.5/5
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Starring: Cary Grant, James Mason, Eva Marie Saint
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Indeed, "Bawden" and I have evil in our minds for tackling such a name, "Alfred Hitchcock". As I had always wanted to see "North by Northwest", I felt this would make a suitable timing. "Hitchcock" takes us through a voyage of espionage, deceit, and mistaken identities through the tale of "Roger O. Thornhill" (Grant), a New-York executive who is mistaken to be a secret agent. This confusion of identity introduces us to one of "Hitchcock's" most stylish thrillers and one of his most entertaining ones as well. While it is not rooted in human psychology and symbolism as we are used to in many other "Hitchcock" films, the film still delivers a great allegory about the "Cold War" and the relative morals behind it, while also maintaining a lighter touch that will keep …