(ru) wrote: An interesting film, no doubt heavily influenced by "Traffic" and "Babel" "Ajani" takes 5 or 6 stories and quite brilliantly interweaves them together. The film mostly focuses on the Arab/Israeli conflict, and it's effect on the regular townspeople. It would help if you knew a bit of history (I didn't) to have a better political connection to the stories, but that's ok, the stories make up for it with it's human element. It's a bit confusing to follow for the first bit while you're trying to figure out what the filmmakers are doing, but once you get into it, you get hooked. Contains a twist ending that's both shocking and in an instant, puts more depth into the story. A must see if you're into these types of films. Great work here.
(it) wrote: [font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Butcher Boy (1997) **[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]Problematic ?magical realism? black comedy based on a novel by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady (Eamonn Owens) is a young Irish boy who lives with his depressive mother (Aisling O?Sullivan) and alcoholic father (Stephen Rea) and spends his days playing with his best friend Joe (Alan Boyle). The thing is, Francie is a bit off his rocker. When his mother kills herself, his mind begins to? unravel. He has frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary (played by, obviously, Sinad O?Connor), takes a crap on his arch-nemesis Mrs. Nugent?s (Fiona Shaw) rug, and generally goes completely insane. Makes for a good black comedy, or even a decent drama, don?t you think? Wrong. The main problem here is that Francie is an annoying little fuckface; you want to slap him off the screen. He renders everything unfunny and labored. Even the emotion here is poorly put across, thanks to Francie?s incessant ramblings. The other thing is, the tone of the film is questionable. It?s shot and scored almost like a freakin? Home Alone movie! People compare this to A Clockwork Orange; it?s not completely wrong? but that film had things that this movie never has, namely: originality (aside from the ?weird? stuff, the plot is dreadfully familiar social drama stuff), humor, drama and a protagonist that, although he was an asshole, never felt like he was some sort of overly excited Dennis the Menace. The acting?s certainly not bad; Owens? performance in itself isn?t bad? it?s just that with everything in the movie being what it is, Francie is simply irritating. In essence, The Butcher Boy is a good movie where absolutely every aspect needs heavy work.[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]The Blues Brothers (1980) ****[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]Unbeknownst to many, weapons of mass destruction were contained in Chicago in 1980. Their names? Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd), blues musicians. At the beginning of the movie, Jake is released from prison and rejoins his brother Elwood. They visit the nun that raised them and learn that the orphanage must pay 5000 dollars in taxes or else they will be closed. The answer? Get the Blues Brothers band back together and have a giant concert to raise the money. This proves to be harder than they thought, seeing as how the brothers soon get Carrie Fisher, the Illinois branch of the Nazi party, a vengeful country rock band and the entirety of the Chicago police force on their tails. Oh, and sometimes, they stop to sing a song with James Brown, Ray Charles, Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin. An extremely fun movie, The Blues Brothers only bogs down during its excessive car chase scenes (most of which look perilously like the one before it); at two hours and a half, it?s a bit too long? but the performers are so earnest, the music so good and the film so funny that it goes by in a breeze.[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]A Few Good Men (1992) ***[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]The most talented of the vanilla hacks in Hollywood (Rob Reiner? in fact that?s not really fair, as Reiner has only been a vanilla hack for the last 14 years? ever since Misery) takes on one of the most clich-filled genres in movies: the courtroom drama. The result is exactly what you?d expect; there are absolutely no surprises here. Tom Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who?s assigned (along with Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak) to defend a pair of marines who may or may not have killed a fellow soldier during a hazing ritual. Cue in a lot of dependable character actors (Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, JT Walsh, Christopher Guest, Matt Craven, Xander Berkeley, Noah Wyle and Cuba Gooding Jr. before he started sucking) who pave the way for the inevitable confrontation with the very Jack-like colonel played by Jack Nicholson. The film is on auto-pilot most of the way; it?s never quite dreadfully bad nor is it ever particularly captivating. It?s the kind of movie you watch without much attention (to its credit, however? the film is never boring). There are redeeming features, obviously; Nicholson is always entertaining, for one, and some scenes have tension. The two leads (Cruise and Moore) are nothing to write home about, both of them in the stage in their career where acting wasn?t even necessary anymore. I do like the film?s comfortable familiarity, in a way; it?s nothing great but it?s adequate and somehow that works for me. Go figure.[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]When Harry Met Sally? (1989) ****[/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black]Refreshingly cynical (for a while, anyway) romantic comedy; in fact, it more or less set the path for every freaking Julia Roberts/Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy since. What sets it apart is a witty, intelligent script from Nora Ephron (who, unsurprisingly, went on to direct a lot of these offspring), spirited performances from the two leads? and an almost complete lack of cutesy, cloying romantic behavior. Harry met Sally in 1977, when both of them were in college and carpooled back home to New York. Over the years they meet again and become friends, despite Harry?s theory that men and women can?t be friends because one always wants to boink the other. Filled with caustic one-liners and a (sometimes overly) perceptive view of romance, it?s the perfect antidote to sugar-sweet romantic comedy while remaining a perfectly charming film in itself? that is, until it throws everything it stands for down the drain and ends with a happy ending. Too bad. [/color][/font][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][b][font=Times New Roman][color=black]11'09''01 - September 11 (2002) ***1/2[/color][/font][/b][b][font=Times New Roman][color=black] [/color][/font][/b][b][/b][b][font='Times New Roman'][size=2][color=black]11 directors from 11 countries make 11 short films about 9/11. Like most movies of its type, it?s a relatively uneven affair. The best film comes from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of Amores Perros), who gives us a wrenching audio-visual ?montage? (it?s not a film in the narrative sense) set to sounds of phone calls from inside the tower. The next best film is Claude Lelouch?s, an almost-soundless tale of a deaf woman who ponders leaving her boyfriend while he is escaping Ground Zero. Ken Loach?s film is also powerful, focusing instead on Pinochet?s takeover of Chile on? September 11th, 1973. There is a slew of decent-if-nothing-more shorts from Samira Makhmalbaf (smart but overly cutesy), Idrissia Ouedraogo (funny but rather pointless), Mira Nair (emotional but familiar), Danis Tanovic (startlingly average in every way) and especially Sean Penn (whose contribution stars Ernest Borgnine). The really bad films come from Youssef Chahine, who gives us some sort of half-completed fantasy in which a dead soldier visits the director. It?s pointless, meandering, silly and contrived. Amos Gitai?s film had potential: an unbroken shot of reporters covering a suicide bomber on the morning of 9/11. However the movie is more confusing than anything and feels interminable at eleven minutes. A decent anthology that?s definitely worth seeing for the first three shorts? but, as a matter of fact, they all have at least one redeeming quality.[/color][/size][/font][/b]
(de) wrote: John Frankenheimer's 2002 Path to War couldn't have been more timely. As one brash Texan president revved the country up for a long, pointless, losing war, Frankenheimer dramatized the last time the country had been down this catastrophic path. The parallels come easily to mind. Johnson led a whole bipartisan Washington consensus that mistakenly believed Vietnam a vital Cold War front. Communist rule of Vietnam would imperil the US ... not at all, in fact. And the whole military engagement began with possibly trumped-up reports about naval conflict in the Gulf of Tonkin. When Path to War aired on HBO, another Texan president forged a mistaken Washington consensus that Iraq represented a vital front in a global War on Terrorism. Cherry-picked intelligence mistakenly suggested that members the anti-US terrorist group Al Qaeda sheltered in Iraq, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. A myth persisted that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. In each case, the subsequent war extended beyond the president's term, was ruinously expensive and deadly, and handed territory to the very forces the US feared. Voices of warning George Ball and Clark Clifford go unheeded, like Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, and Valerie Plame, in 2002. Oh, but the differences are so telling: Michael Gambon's Lyndon Johnson burns to build his Great Society, to extend Civil and Voting Rights. He shines most when talking down the racist George Wallace, and when the confused president confides in his partner, Ladybird. By contrast, George W. Bush sought to be something called a "compassionate conservative", but he was a child of privilege and faith. In Path to War, the Vietnam War is driven above all by Robert McNamara's single-minded focus on the lessons of Munich. But the horror in Alec Baldwin's eyes as a war protestor immolates himself ... You will never see doubt like that in the eyes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or Condaleeza Rice. At the remove of fourteen years, I have one question: why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over?