Author Topic: goodguy's Watch Log  (Read 68808 times)

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #105 on: July 02, 2010, 11:52:11 PM »
I've always enjoyed Elizabeth too, except maybe for Kathy Burke.

Maybe only, because she somewhat stands out amongst all the pretty people?

Haven't bothered with The Golden General yet, because it seemed to get poor reviews across the board, whereas the first film was the opposite.

It's still worth watching (and I will do so tonight). I even gave both the same rating on first viewing. :bag: And I definitely liked them more then the HBO miniseries with Helen Mirren.
Matthias

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #106 on: July 02, 2010, 11:58:06 PM »
I've always enjoyed Elizabeth too, except maybe for Kathy Burke.

Maybe only, because she somewhat stands out amongst all the pretty people?

No, in fact I like Kathy Burke. Her voice makes her stand out from the other accents though, coupled with I know her too well from her TV comedy work with Harry Enfield.






Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #107 on: July 03, 2010, 11:13:56 AM »
   Elizabeth: The Golden Age (UK 2007)
Written by: William Nicholson, Michael Hirst
Directed by: Shekhar Kapur
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Abbie Cornish, Samantha Morton
DVD: R2-DE Universal (2008)

My rating:

For the most part, the sequel has the same visual splendor as the first movie, but it is less balanced in both storytelling and direction. Too much melodrama, too Braveheart-y battlefield speeches, some superfluous action scenes. But even when Kapur missteps, he still manages to dazzle, as in the underwater shots of the burning Spanish Armada.

Cate Blanchett was a promising talent when the first movie was made and an established star at the time of the second one, which actually is befitting for her role. Clive Owen as Raleigh is solid as always and Abbie Cornish adorable. And kudos to Samantha Morton, who as Maria Stuart has only a few scenes, but what a powerful performance.

Bottom line: While not as great the first one, this is still a very enjoyable movie, well worth watching.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #108 on: July 03, 2010, 11:20:04 AM »
   The Secret of Kells (IRL 2009)
Written by: Tomm Moore, Fabrice Ziolkowski
Directed by: Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey
DVD: R2-IRL Buena Vista/Cartoon Saloon (Aug 19, 2009)

My rating:

Cover Blurb: There are legends of a secret book, whose pages hold tremendous power to defeat the forces of darkness. Now one boy must fullfil his destiny and write the final chapter to bring light back to the world.
Brendan, a mischievous young boy, is hard at work with his uncle to strengthen the village walls as a protection against a legion of Viking raiders. In order to save his people, Brendan must embark on a secret quest that will take him beyond the world he knows into an Enchanted Forest where a host of mythical creatures await. There he will uncover the mystery, experience the magic and live the adventure of THE SECRET OF KELLS.


The Secret of Kells isn't quite on the same level as Persepolis or Sita Sings the Blues, but it still shows that the results of working within the limits of handdrawn 2D animation and a strict formal and stylized approach are simply more magical and rewarding than anything 3D animation has to offer.

Kells takes his cues from the art of illumination and indulges in a rich, ornamental style grounded by the use of basic geometric shapes. It even refrains from the use of perspective (except for the Viking attacks). A visually stunning and marvelous movie whose only weakness is a somewhat underdeveloped story that kinda fizzles out at the end.
Matthias

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #109 on: July 03, 2010, 01:00:55 PM »
Cate Blanchett was a promising talent when the first movie was made and an established star at the time of the second one, which actually is befitting for her role.

That's a very good point. I'll certainly give this one a go.

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #110 on: July 07, 2010, 09:29:15 AM »
   The Saragossa Manuscript (PL 1965)
Written by: Tadeusz Kwiatkowski, based on the novel by Jan Potocki
Directed by: Wojciech J. Has
Starring: Zbigniew Cybulski
DVD: R0-UK Mr. Bongo Films (2008)

My rating:

Cover Blurb: Enter a dazzling, mysterious world of the supernatural courtesy of The Saragossa Manuscript, a magical text discovered during the Napoleonic Wars by a pair of opposing soldiers. Capt. Alphonse van Worden lives out the book's intricate, devilish storylines as he embarks on a journey across scenic Spain, now populated with ghosts, alluring demons, debauched royalty and mystical priests. Spanning centuries and nations, the manuscript's reach encompasses a wide array of stories both humorous and horrifying, gleeful and grotesque, before the final chilling revelations bring this one of a kind book to a close. Critically applauded and embraced over the years by such admirers as Jerry Garcia, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, this swirling tapestry has been restored to its original, full length director's cut with all of its labyrinthine riddles intact.

Much less weird than one would expect from a movie that Jerry Garcia named as his favorite. It wasn't Garcia though, who put this on my radar, but rather Neil Jordan in a side comment in his AC for "The Company of Wolves".

Anyway. Based on an early 19th century novel by Polish author Jan Potocki, this is a bit like a cross between Don Quixote and the Decameron.  Stories are nested within stories and the narrative framework is quite nifty, but pretty easy to follow. Shot in B&W cinemascope and with a great score by Krysztof Penderecki, the outer stories taking place in the Spanish Sierra Morena have the most visual impact in a haunted, slightly surreal way. Some of the substories unfortunately degrade somewhat into slapstick and farce, but overall it remains entertaining.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #111 on: July 07, 2010, 09:30:24 AM »
   The Hourglass Sanatorium (PL 1973)
Written & Directed by: Wojciech J. Has, based on short stories by Bruno Schulz
Starring: Jan Nowicki
DVD: R0-UK Mr. Bongo Films (2008)

My rating:

Cover Blurb: Adapted from the 1937 collection of stories by Polish author Bruno Schulz; Sanitorium Under The Sign Of The Hourglass, Wojciech Has's 1973 film version follows the journey of a young man, Joseph (Jan Nowicki), as he visits his dying father in a mysterious sanatorium. Joseph comes to realise that time itself behaves very strangely inside the walls of the asylum, and he soon finds himself immersed in a web of memories, fantasies and visions - which express the longings and frustrations of his childhood.
The film contains crazed scenes of Jews dancing together and many of the residents appear dressed as giant birds. For his part, Schulz was widely seen as Poland's answer to Kafka, he was eventually murdered by Hitler's SS army during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
A surrealist headspin, this film has been compared to the best works of Terry Gilliam, Peter Greenaway, and Luis Bunuel...


I'm glad I bought both of Has' movies together, because, while I liked "The Saragossa Manuscript" well enough, I might not have given another of his movies a try afterwards. But with this one we truly are in the realm of the surreal and the weird. While the transitions between stories in "The Saragossa Manuscript" were clearly marked, this is not the case here. The protagonist moves as seamlessly between fragments of his memories as he moves between places that cannot possibly be connected. The structure is dreamlike, but never feels arbitrary, even if one has difficulties making heads or tails of what the hell is going on. I greatly enjoyed this, but a second viewing is definitely required to make more sense of it.
Matthias

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #112 on: July 07, 2010, 09:31:36 AM »
   Gone with the Wind (1939)
Written by: Sidney Howard, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell
Directed by: Victor Fleming
Starring: Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland
DVD: R1-US Warner (2004)

My rating:

Cover Blurb: David O. Selznick's production of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize winner 'Gone with the Wind' is "the pinnacle of Hollywood moviemaking," Leonard Maltin of 'Entertainment Tonight' said. And in Maltin's view, "it looks better than it has in years." This sweeping Civil War-era romance won an impressive 10 Academy Awards (including Best Picture), and its immortal characters Scarlett (Vivien Leigh), Rhett (Clark Gable), Ashley (Leslie Howard), Melanie (Olivia de Havilland), Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) and Prissy (Butterfly McQueen) populate an epic story of enduring appeal across generations. Judged by many to be the greatest movie of all time, 'Gone with the Wind' now comes home in its best video edition ever!

For the most part, this is an obnoxious sentimental melodrama, which heaps misery upon misery upon its heroine in almost comic (albeit probably inadvertently) proportions. But it has its moments, especially in the early parts, as I found confirmed upon rewatching. Yes, I seem to like insufferable characters, but, really, isn't Scarlett the only sane one among all those fools happily talking about war? At least she has a certain spark and seems alive. Now that Melanie on the other hand...

As far as the cinematography goes, the silhouette shots against the horizon (or that burning warehouse) still hold up, but otherwise it isn't too remarkable, although often pretty to look at. Certainly not the "greatest movie of all time" and I hope Maltin's "pinnacle" quote is taken out of context.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #113 on: July 08, 2010, 01:03:01 PM »
  Der freie Wille (DE 2006, AKA The Free Will)
Written by: Matthias Glasner, Judith Angerbauer, Jürgen Vogel
Directed by: Matthias Glasner
Starring: Jürgen Vogel, Sabine Timoteo
DVD: R2-DE Kinowelt/Arthaus (2007)

My rating:

Glasner's film about a serial rapist begins with a prologue to make it abundantly clear that its protagonist, Theo (Jürgen Vogel), is a monster who doesn't deserve our sympathy. In an almost unbearable long scene, Theo assaults a woman, brutally beats her to a bloody pulp and rapes her. We learn later that this is the third time he has done so.

9 years later. After his time in a psychiatric detention facility, Theo is about to be released to live in a halfway house, supervised by a social worker. Theo shows remorse for what he has done and he seems to have worked hard to become a different person and to control his violent urges. He gets a job in a printing company. He awkwardly attempts normal social interaction. He exercises a lot. That urge is still there, but he seems to control it.

The boss at the printing company has a daughter, Nettie (Sabine Timoteo), and Theo accidentally meets her at work for a short moment. Suddenly, the film abandons Theo and follows Nettie. She's in her mid-twenties and finally about to move out of her father's house into her own apartment. The relationship to her father is strange, almost creepy. So is the one to her ex-boyfriend. Nothing is made explicit though. But as damaged as Nettie herself may be, it is clear that she too attempts to take control of her life.

Of course, the stories of Theo and Nettie eventually come together. A chance meeting at the supermarket, an awkward, silent date at which she suddenly states that this is getting nowhere, because she doesn't like men. Well, Theo doesn't like women either. They meet again anyway, go to a movie, have nothing to say afterwards. She comes to his karate class, where he teaches her self-defense. During the sparring, she aggressively acts out against him, he takes it, calmly continuing the session.

More I will not reveal, because it could be considered spoilers. Glasner shoots all this in a matter-of-fact-style and on digital video to allow for long takes. The camera often gets very close to the actors as if it wants to crawl under their skin to see what makes them tick. The colors are desaturated. The dialog is sparse, with long stretches of silence. These aren't very articulate people. There is no score, but the sound is carefully designed.
 
Director and cinematographer Glasner and actor Jürgen Vogel have worked on this project for many years before the film was made. They did tons of research. But in the end they created a deeply personal story, not a social study. The script became a mere blueprint; the scenes were developed with the actors during the filming. Both Jürgen Vogel and Sabine Timoteo are terrific in raw and unflinching performances, but especially Timoteo will leave you speechless towards the end.
 
This is one of the best contemporary German films, but certainly not an easy one to watch. Forget about hollywoodized productions like "The Live of Others" or "Downfall". The real German cinema is elsewhere.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2010, 01:14:32 PM by goodguy »
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #114 on: July 09, 2010, 05:52:34 AM »
   Mouth to Mouth (2005)
Written & Directed by: Alison Murray
Starring: Ellen Page, Natasha Wightman, August Diehl, Beatrice Brown, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos
DVD: R0-US Strand Releasing (2007)

My rating:

Cover Blurb: Sherry, a young runaway meets the radical street collective SPARK - Street People Armed with Radical Knowledge - while living on the streets of Europe. They introduce her to a new life filled with substance. She travels through the continent in the SPARK van, recruiting members from street gangs and disenfranchised youth at raves and town squares finally settling in an abandoned vineyard in Portugal that will become their paradise. Harry, the group's leader begins harvesting ripe grapes and ready minds through his own methods of hard work and punishment. The stakes are high within this volatile group. Sherry is searching for a place to belong where she can still be herself. She thinks she has found this in SPARK, but when her mother comes to find her, Sherry discovers that she must pay a price for rebellion. An adventurous coming-of-age story that follows young rebellious Sherry through Europe as she loses her illusions, virginity and lip ring; MOUTH TO MOUTH considers the fine line between acceptance and manipulation.

Worth seeing for Ellen Page's committed and honest, but somewhat underdeveloped performance. And if you ever wondered why she had short hair in "Hard Candy", you will find the answer here. She joined a cult and shaved off her hair. Actually, writer/director Alison Murray's apparently did so in the late '80s. Her semi-autobiographical debut feature has enough kinetic energy to propel you through the first half hour or so, but then it becomes more and more apparent that she hasn't much to tell beyond the glaringly obvious.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #115 on: July 19, 2010, 02:51:56 PM »
  Lola rennt (DE 1998, AKA Run Lola Run)
Written & Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
DVD: R2-UK Columbia TriStar (2000)

My rating:

Cover Blurb: Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), who works as a small-time courier for a big-time gangster, is in huge trouble. He has accidentally left the cash from a mob deal on the subway, and he has only twenty minutes to deliver the 100,000 marks to his unforgiving boss. Desperate, he calls his girlfriend, Lola (Franka Potente), the only person who can rescue him form certain death.
As the seconds tick away and the tiniest choices become life altering, Lola must try to reach Manni before the line between fate and fortune begins to blur. One story told from three different perspectives, Run Lola Run is a veritable maze of intriguing plot twists and heart-stopping suspense in a high-octane thrill ride about one woman's desperate attempt to save her lover.



A rating of 4½ would be probably more adequate, but since Jon was so dismissive in his recent review, I decided to round up. Frankly, Jon's reaction surprised me, because "Run Lola Run" bridges the gap between experimental arthouse cinema and mainstream with a postmodernist approach that is not entirely unlike the early movies of Tarantino. Of course, Tykwer is less violent, a little more philosophical, a lot more puristic, and his hommages (which are actually just little nods) to other movies show a better taste.

Now, is RLR the best video game adaptation without being based on any actual game, a cross between "Groundhog Day", Godard's "Breathless" and "Wonder Woman", a philosophical meditation on fate and chance, or a portrait of the reunited Berlin, completely in flux?

Well, it is all that and probably more, but while the movie certainly isn't without depth, it also works on a strict surface level as a fantasy of wish fulfillment that is pure Hollywood. Add to that an iconic female lead, true love that conquers all and a few thriller elements, and you are in for a fun ride.

Right from the start, the prolog ironically alternates between both choices. T. S. Elliot versus Sepp Herberger, a narrator waxing philosophically only to be dismissed by more football platitudes from a guy in uniform.

The plot and the backstory are given in the initial phone conversation between Lola and Manni that gets more and more hysterical until Lola's first glass-shattering scream. Then it's mission time for Lola. 20 minutes to get the money from her banker dad and to get to Manni before he robs a supermarket. Game on and Lola runs through Berlin to frantic techno music with spoken lyrics, Anne-Clark-style. If at first you don't succeed, repeat. Three times.

That's pretty much all that happens. There is no narrative ballast, no character motivations, no further explanations, only encounters and exchanges, although the repetitions cleverly interlock, expand and, of course, change the happenings until the final outcome is achieved. That minimalist narrative is of course what makes RLR interesting, because while it keeps the basic framework of an escapist mainstream fantasy, it throws away all the exchangeable fillings.

Tykwer uses different techniques and even different film materials to organize his story. Lola and Manni are shot on normal 35mm film, the flashbacks of Manni's initial backstory are in black and white, any scenes not involving those two are shot on video. As Lola runs into various people on her mission, a sequence of photographs shows flash-forwards to their future as generated by the ripple effect of Lola's actions. There is animation, there are split screens, an almost codified use of colors, dazzling camera moves that create a hyperkinetic visual style. The pacing and editing is flawless and the rhythm precise with ironic counterpoints and full stops, such as the sudden soap opera of Lola's dad and his mistress in the bank office.

Each segment starts with the same scene Lola leaving the apartment (and her distracted mother). Then it turns into a cartoon of Lola running down a staircase and passing a guy with a dog on the way. That's her first obstacle and the first difference between the segments, with a strong hint how the segment will play out. The song lyrics do so as well. In the first run, she is determined, but she just passively reacts. In the second run she fights head-on, with no regards for herself or the people around her. In the third run she becomes completely in tune with what is happening around her, causing her to succeed.

The final ending cannot be anything than a happy one, albeit again with a slightly ironic touch. Also, if you didn't pay attention to the bank security guard, you might have missed something.

I'm glad Jon caused me to rewatch this; I had almost forgotten why I liked Tykwer once. I also posted a few remarks directly in response to Jon's review.

And for a Berlin film that is the complete antithesis to RLR, I recommend Maria Speth's "In den Tag hinein" (AKA The Days Between).
« Last Edit: July 19, 2010, 03:15:10 PM by goodguy »
Matthias

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #116 on: July 19, 2010, 05:18:43 PM »
Well, I haven't read your remarks on mine, but that is a truly excellent review.  :thumbup:

I do agree with "Add to that an iconic female lead, true love that conquers all and a few thriller elements", although I didn't find it thrilling as I was getting bored.  ;) I also did appreciate the different film styles as you pointed out, but I just can't quite see the overall point, nor how you find such relevance with other [better] films. 

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #117 on: July 25, 2010, 02:29:23 PM »
   The Prestige (2006)
Written by: Jonathan & Christopher Nolan, based on a story by Christopher Priest
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine
DVD: R2-DE Warner (2007)

My rating:

IMDb Summary: A mysterious story of two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy.

The Prestige is a clever construct in a pedantic and unambigous way, and it hammers home its meaning with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Upon rewatching, the movie's first line "Did you watch closely?" becomes plainly insulting, because their is no longer a twinge of confusion or surprise to distract from its unevocative blandness. Still, the period dressing is nice to look at, the acting is solid, but overall it's an underwhelming affair.
Matthias

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #118 on: July 25, 2010, 03:21:28 PM »
Do you like any Nolan film?

Offline Achim

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #119 on: July 25, 2010, 03:45:30 PM »
The Prestige is a clever construct in a pedantic and unambigous way, and it hammers home its meaning with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Upon rewatching, the movie's first line "Did you watch closely?" becomes plainly insulting, because their is no longer a twinge of confusion or surprise to distract from its unevocative blandness. Still, the period dressing is nice to look at, the acting is solid, but overall it's an underwhelming affair.
Having a movie with a twist still be interesting on multiple re-viewings is quite difficult. It all relies on how well the story between the opening and the twist at the end is told.