Author Topic: goodguy's Watch Log  (Read 57607 times)

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #45 on: May 31, 2009, 12:30:55 AM »
  Låt den rätte komma in (Sweden 2008, AKA Let the Right One In, AKA So finster die Nacht)
Written by: John Ajvide Lindvist
Directed by: Tomas Alfredson
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
DVD: R2-DE MFA+/Ascot Elite (May 20, 2009)

My rating:

IMDb summary: Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl. She can't stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people's blood to live he's faced with a choice. How much can love forgive? Let The Right One In is a story both violent and highly romantic, set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982.

In its use of vampirism, LTROI reminded me of Abel Ferrara's flawed masterpiece The Addiction. There is the same messy and grim approach to the actual blooddrinking and the same disregard for the typical vampire lore. There are vampires in both movies, but neither is a vampire movie; they are about something else entirely.

Linking a vampire tale with a coming-of-age story is not that unusal. But LTROI doesn't fall into the traps of a teenage love fantasy. There is tenderness and even a kiss between the two leads, but their bond is decidedly asexual and prepubescent; it is forged from a deep sense of alienation and has a haunted innocence. Both performances are spectacular.

Alfredson finds striking visuals in the most banal and desolate settings, creating a bleak and chilling atmosphere with a strong poetic quality. This is combined with a beautiful score and an ingenious sound design that draws the viewer into the isolation of the protagonists.

Highly recommended and certainly one of last year's best movies.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2009, 12:32:54 AM by goodguy »
Matthias

Offline Achim

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #46 on: May 31, 2009, 08:05:34 AM »
Linking a vampire tale with a coming-of-age story is not that unusal. But LTROI doesn't fall into the traps of a teenage love fantasy. There is tenderness and even a kiss between the two leads, but their bond is decidedly asexual and prepubescent; it is forged from a deep sense of alienation and has a haunted innocence. Both performances are spectacular.
I haven't seen it yet so have to go with hearsay; and in spoiler tags, as it's a rather reveling plot point:
(click to show/hide)

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #47 on: May 31, 2009, 06:25:00 PM »
I haven't seen it yet so have to go with hearsay; and in spoiler tags, as it's a rather reveling plot point:
(click to show/hide)

The German DVD is uncut. Spoilers for the twist you are referring to:

(click to show/hide)

I haven't read the novel, but from what I gathered, it goes into more detail on several things that are left without an explanation in the movie. Besides the aforementioned twist, there is also the Hakan character. Spoiler again:

(click to show/hide)

Oh, and since I forgot to mention it in my review: The German subtitles seem to be adequate. There is of course always the danger that little subtleties get lost, but at least I didn't catch any glaring errors. Also, the film isn't that dialogue-heavy and some of the Swedish I was actually able to understand.
Matthias

Offline Achim

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #48 on: June 01, 2009, 06:23:13 AM »
Thanks for the confirmation. It's apparently more obvious in the film than the review I listened to originally suggested...


I haven't read the novel, but from what I gathered, it goes into more detail on several things that are left without an explanation in the movie. Besides the aforementioned twist, there is also the Hakan character. Spoiler again:

(click to show/hide)
(click to show/hide)


(BTW, I am not in the habit to spoil movies for myself by listening to review podcasts. I usually only listen to them if I already seen the movie, don't know the movie or am on the fence about it.)

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #49 on: June 03, 2009, 07:03:10 PM »
  The Reader (2008)
Written by: David Hare, based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Kate Winslet, David Cross, Ralph Fiennes
DVD: R1-US Weinstein/Genius (Apr 14, 2009)

My rating: -

Cover blurb: Academy Award winner Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road) delivers a dynamic performance in this "tale of eroticism, secrecy and guilt" (Claudia Puig, USA Today) set in turbulent post-Nazi Germany. Bringing to life the celebrated international novel, Winslet is riveting as Hanna Schmitz – a lonely, working-class woman who experiences a brief but intense affair with a teenage boy. Years later they meet again: Hanna now a defendant in a notorious case and her ex-lover, now a law student, holding the secret to her salvation. Directed by three-time Academy Award nominee Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) and featuring Ralph Fiennes (The Duchess) as the grown man still reeling from Hanna's influence, The Reader is a "moving, romantic and poignant story" (Roger Friedman, Fox News) about the difficult distance between truth and reconciliation.

The Reader isn't as bad as I feared it to be, but it isn't a good movie either. Why did I buy it, despite my low expectations? Well, I happen to like Kate Winslet and she did win an Oscar for her role here - btw, as predicted by herself in that Extras episode three or four years ago.

But while the Best Picture nomination was a joke, Winslet's nomination at least seems to be warranted. I can't say if she deserved to win, since I haven't seen all of the other nominees, and I slightly suspect the combination of Holocaust theme, being nude and handicap acting was in her favor.

Still, especially in the early and middle parts of the movie Winslet is great, while David Kross as her young lover is pretty solid. Ralph Fiennes on the other hand hasn't much to do except looking thoughtful and torn.

The movie itself unfortunately hasn't much to say. It dutyfully poses the "big moral questions" and then slaps easy (non)answers on them in a painfully obvious way. And if that isn't annoying enough, the movie also hedges the small bets it makes with a closing statement from one of the survivors.

Somewhere in all of this are glimpses of a good movie. One cannot help but think that, without the Holocaust backdrop, it could have been more honest and meaningful.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 08:11:37 PM by goodguy »
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #50 on: June 06, 2009, 05:18:48 AM »
  Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere (2004)
DVD: R2-DE Ascot Elite (2007, Firecracker SE)

My rating:

Firecracker (2004) is the second movie by American independent filmmaker Steve Balderson. It is almost a classic tragedy, yet very odd and original. It is gorgeously shot on Super 35mm film, mixing stark black & white photography with highly saturated color sequences. It is a movie I cannot recommend highly enough. But lets talk about something else instead.

The documentary "Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere" has been included on the German release of Firecracker. To some extent, it is indeed a making-of for that movie. But at almost two hours running time, it goes way beyond that. What you get is an in-depth look at truly independent filmmaking as a family business in the middle of nowhere (in this case Wamego, Kansas).

The term "independent film" has been watered down over the years. Often it is used for small-budget movies, financed by subdivisions of big studios. That's not the case here. Firecracker was financed, produced and filmed completely outside the Hollywood industry. The documentary shows how that was possible and focuses heavily on the business and administration side of filmmaking.

This may sound a bit boring, but trust me, if you have any interest in the filmmaking process at all, it is deeply engrossing and informative. And it gains additional appeal, because you see a family of pretty earth-bound people working together to make an artistic vision come true without compromise.

DVD Notes

AFAIK, the German and the US release of Firecracker are the only ones available. The German DVD wins due to being anamorphic and for including the documentary. The documentary and all other movies by Steve Balderson are also available on his website www.dikenga.com. And I just noticed that the documentary now has two sequels and all three together have a very reasonable price. Time for another double-dip, I guess.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 05:45:02 AM by goodguy »
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #51 on: June 12, 2009, 12:01:03 AM »
   Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Written by: Jenny Lumet
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger
DVD: R1-US Sony (Mar 10, 2009)

My rating:

Cover blurb: When Kym (Anne Hathaway - Golden Globe Nominee, Best Actress, Motion Picture (Drama)), returns to the Buchman family home for the wedding of her sister Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt), she brings a long history of personal crises, family conflict and tragedy along with her. The wedding couple's abundant party of friends and relations have gathered for a joyful weekend of feasting, music and love, but Kym - with her biting one-liners and flair for bombshell drama - is a catalyst for long simmering tensions in the family dynamic. Filled with the rich and eclectic characters that remain a hallmark of Jonathan Demme's films, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED paints a heartfelt, perceptive and sometimes hilarious family portrait.

From a deceptively clichéd setup, RGM soon moves into a richly developed family drama, masterfully handled on all levels, be it script, cinematography or acting. Demme clearly draws from his experience at making documentaries, giving large parts of the movie a kind of "home-made wedding video" style. But again, that is only the surface, because the narrative flow, seemingly often interrupted by the set pieces of the wedding ceremony, is in fact continued throughout them as the camera work subtly reinforces previously mapped out connections and tensions between the characters while adding new layers as well.

RGM is an ensemble piece with an exceptional cast throughout. But the biggest surprise to me was Anne Hathaway. Not that I ever thought her to be a bad actress, just a somewhat unremarkable one, starring in mostly fluffy roles. Here she finally gets the chance to truly shine in a mature and complex role and her performance is nothing short of amazing.

This might very well be the best film of 2008. It is a shame that it didn't get nominated throughout the Oscar main categories and I firmly believe that Anne Hathaway should have won for Best Actress. Very highly recommended.
Matthias

Offline Rich

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #52 on: June 12, 2009, 12:55:27 AM »
   Rachel Getting Married (2008)
Written by: Jenny Lumet
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Debra Winger
DVD: R1-US Sony (Mar 10, 2009)

My rating:


Damn - I gotta buy this now after your review - and I'm trying to save money for holiday!
 :surrender:

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #53 on: June 15, 2009, 08:19:09 AM »
   Gia (1998)
Written by: Jay McInerney & Michael Cristofer
Directed by: Michael Cristofer
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mercedes Ruehl, Faye Dunaway
DVD: R2-DE Warner/HBO (2008)

My rating:

IMDb summary: Fact-based story of top fashion model Gia Marie Carangi follows her life from a rebel working in her father's diner at age 17 to her death in 1986 at age 26 from AIDS, one of the first women in America whose death was attributed to the disease. In between, she followed a downward spiral of drug abuse and failed relationships.

Wow. I've seen this many years ago and I didn't remember it was that bad. The movie tells Gia's story as a sort-of cautionary tale, interspersing a series of vignettes with fake interview snippets. A very dated "stylish" look, sex scenes in Playboy softcore manner, and a heavy-handed but insubstantial approach of the subject make this a thoroughly boring affair. As a punk girl turned supermodel, Jolie is fun to watch in the early parts, but that's about it.

Overall, a nice reminder that HBO once was just another crappy cable outlet and that the channel's foray into high quality TV didn't start before around 2000.

On the other hand, I might be entirely wrong - a look at the award wins and nominations on IMDb is mind-boggling.

DVD Notes

There are two versions of this movie, an R-rated one and an Unrated one with slightly extended sex scenes. The new German DVD contains the latter, and it's rated FSK-12. The same UK DVD is rated 18.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #54 on: June 15, 2009, 10:11:23 PM »
   Taken (FR 2008)
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Starring: Liam Neeson
DVD: R2-UK Fox (Feb. 9, 2009; Extended Cut)

My rating: -

Cover blurb: Liam Neeson stars in this action-packed international thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. When his estranged daughter is kidnapped in Paris, a former spy (Neeson) sets out to find her at any cost. Relying on his special skills, he tracks down the ruthless gang that abducted her and launches a one-man war to bring them to justice and rescue his daughter.

Frankly, it escapes me why everyone seems to think Taken is "Da Shit" and Punisher: War Zone is, well, just shit. Both are pretty violent action movies that can be enjoyed to some degree with the right mindset, or more precisely, the mind checked out at the door for a bowl of popcorn. Yes, one tries to be more gritty and real, the other one more comicbook-like and gory, but they are really not that different.

Except: While PWZ knows it is just trash, Taken is pretentious and manipulative. So it spends half an hour of its short 90min running time to setup its paper-thin characters, and it casts a serious actor as protagonist instead of a B-list one. Well, that doesn't work, because it raises expectations beyond the realm of mindless fun, and the script is unable to meet them.

For a vastly superior and really brilliant take on the "black ops guy rescues girl from sex slavery" scenario, I recommend David Mamet's largely ignored Spartan (2004), starring Val Kilmer.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #55 on: June 17, 2009, 02:36:21 AM »
   Quantum of Solace (2008)
Written by: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Directed by: Marc Foster
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Curylenko
DVD: R2-DE Fox (Mar 27, 2009)

My rating: -

Sorry, not much to say about it. More entertaining than Casino Royale, although a second viewing will have to confirm that, because I gave CR the same rating the first time I saw it, and it dropped to plain "boring" the next time around.

Marc Foster (does anyone remember Stay?) doesn't do action all too well, plus some intercuts are beyond cringeworthy. Gemma Arterton could have been as good as Eva Green, but she didn't have enough screen time. And as far as Olga Curylenko movies go, I prefer Hitman.
Matthias

Offline goodguy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #56 on: August 31, 2009, 07:33:32 PM »
   Battlestar Galactica (Season 4.5, 2009)
Created by: Ronald D. Moore
Starring: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff
DVD: R1-US Universal (Jul 28, 2009)

My rating:

Cover blurb: All will be revealed as the thrilling final episodes of Battlestar Galactica 4.5 land on DVD. From their initial action-packed battles against the Cylons to their desperate attempts to find the fabled 13th colony, Earth, a determined band of human survivors has captivated audiences everywhere with their desperate quest to find a new home for their dwindling numbers. Join them now as the fleet journeys into the furthest reaches of unexplored space and faces a crucial decision that will change all of their lives irrevocably. ...

It is a bit difficult to write about this without spoilers, but I try. Overall, they brought the series to a satisfying conclusion, making it the only well-rounded scifi tale besides Babylon 5(*1). I still think Firefly is the most brilliant attempt in the genre, but its short run makes it difficult to compare.

Anyway. The begin of S4.5 shows again that BSG is at is strongest when focusing on character development rather than expanding the series mythology or attempting a political or sociological commentary. I know that especially the latter has earned the series quite a reputation as being dark and edgy, but I'm unable to buy into that, sorry.

So the first two epsiodes are great stuff, but then we get into the events involving Gaeta and Zarek, which are essentially a retake on the resistance story. This could be interesting, but Zarek is too easily made the bad guy, thereby not only removing any dramatic tension, but also any meaningful political discurse. Still, the welcome return of Starbuck as a bad ass makes these episodes worthwhile.

In the middle of S4.5 we have the BIG REVEAL how it all really happened. Great stuff, at least as far as the idea goes, but could it be presented anymore clumsily? Worst info dump ever. Followed by a Jane Espenson episode that again sticks out like a sore thumb: mixing more info dump with bad soap opera and characters changing there mind on a whim. Espenson really isn't suited for a show like BSG.

After hitting rock bottom, we get one of the best episodes of the series, once again centered around Starbuck. Starbuck is a character I immediately liked from the beginning, even when I had a less favorable opinion of the early seasons. I'm really excited about the way "the song" is integrated in the story presented in this epsiode and how it is used later in the finale.

The 3hour finale (and the epsiode before that) are a somewhat mixed bag. I liked the flashbacks to the life on Caprica before the Cylon attack. I didn't care much for the big battle and found some of the CGI really bad, especially on board of the colony ship (but that could just be the strange magenta based color-palette, which made it look like a first generation computer game). We also learn what the opera house dream was all about - calling that underwhelming is me being polite.

As I said at the beginning, it is difficult to write about this and avoid spoilers, so I won't say anything about where and how it all ends, except that the idea per se works well within the context of the series, but I'm a bit miffed about the way it is actually done. Although, partly this could very well be due to the fact that I watched the extended version instead of the originally aired episodes.

I'm not sure if I will give Caprica and The Plan a try. From what I gathered, Espenson seems pretty involved in the latter. On the DVD extras, she talked about how it will be darker than BSG, but also with more comedy elements. Shudder.

---
(*1) I'm actually tempted to rewatch B5, but I sold my set years ago.  :(
Matthias

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #57 on: August 31, 2009, 09:28:49 PM »
(*1) I'm actually tempted to rewatch B5, but I sold my set years ago.  :(

I actually have B5 twice. First the original release and their ever-changing look and then the complete box with everything.

I would sell you the former for a very decent price, if you are interested.
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Offline Kathy

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #58 on: September 01, 2009, 11:17:39 PM »
(*1) I'm actually tempted to rewatch B5, but I sold my set years ago.  :(

I actually have B5 twice. First the original release and their ever-changing look and then the complete box with everything.

I would sell you the former for a very decent price, if you are interested.

If he is not interested, I am. I haven't seen any of this series yet. :-[

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: goodguy's Watch Log
« Reply #59 on: September 01, 2009, 11:21:07 PM »
If he is not interested, I am. I haven't seen any of this series yet. :-[

I would but shipping is so expensive that you probably get it cheaper when you buy a new one on Amazon.
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