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All reviews - Movies (102) - TV Shows (1) - Books (36)

Bizzare and yet a little boring

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 5 March 2008 04:06 (A review of The Happiness of the Katakuris)

The Happiness of the Katakuris might best be described as Agatha Christie meets Beetlejuice, and then throw in the Sound of Music. If that sounds like it probably wouldn't work, it sorta doesn't. The musical numbers tend to be very surreal and luckily short. And although there were a few good laughs, and more chuckles, I was glad when the two hour long movie was over. The locations are excellent in this movie, the irony good, and the characters likable. And overall it might have been a much better movie if they had cut it down more, and the pace had been quicker. And the end had me puzzled, but relieved the whole thing was over. However, I might remember it for a long time.

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Passionate & Low-Key

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 4 March 2008 11:57 (A review of An Inconvenient Truth (2006))

Only Al Gore could be so passionate and so low-key at the same time. This documentary is basically a wooden old guy doing a slide show with graphs and pie charts about things you don't want to know. But, with Al's comforting voice, willingness to be the butt of his own jokes, vivid scenes of places in peril and intimate views of Al's past and present, it becomes a whole lot more than a slide show.

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Vivid and Joyful

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 28 February 2008 11:51 (A review of Bride & Prejudice)

This is such a weird combination. The mixture of one of the most famous books about the constraints of British Society with a Bollywood Musical. And I have to disclose that I hate musicals! However, I was able to give much more leeway in honor to the Indian tradition of outlandish musicals. And I'm glad I did. The dancing and costumes was so riotous and joyful. The singing wasn't my cup of tea, but only moderately tripped up the pace. Although the storyline might be quite accurate, the choice of actors wasn't perfect. Darcy was just too wimpy, and Lalita was much too strong. But they were pleasant to look at. All in all I liked it, and hope to check out something true Bollywood soon.

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A Life in Animation

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 25 February 2008 01:27 (A review of Persepolis (2007))

Persepolis is the story of a young, spunky girl who grows up in Teheran during the turbulence of the last 30 years. It was originally a graphic novel, and has been turned into a stylistic animated movie. The graphics are lovely, and the characters very likable. I'm hoping that when it goes into wide release they'll actually dub it into English. I usually abhor dubbing, but animation should make it easy, and reading subtitles makes it hard to enjoy the artistry of the movie. And as the movie mainly takes place in Iran, but everyone speaks French, it's not exactly true to history anyway. As a true story, it sometimes lags, and the ending is a bit flat. But then that's how life actually goes, you don't have true endings, just segues into other parts of your life.

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Very Flawed Golden Bowl

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 24 February 2008 02:38 (A review of The Golden Bowl)

Although the bowl of the title is slightly flawed, the movie was horribly flawed. The acting is so bad, that the director must be held responsible. Who would believe Merchant & Ivory could release this drivel. I assume Henry James is hard to turn into a movie. I can't read his writing, but several of his books have been turned into pretty good films, especially "Wings of the Dove" "The Heiress" and "Portrait of a Lady". Maybe the choice of casting was bad, or maybe the director couldn't see how bad the acting was, or perhaps the script was tweaked enough to make it engaging...whatever it was this movie failed the viewer completely. The photography, costuming and sets were lovely as always. So perhaps it's worth watching if you turn off the sound?

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Intriguing and Smart

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 February 2008 08:51 (A review of The Madness of King George)

The story of King George's bout with madness is interesting and could easily have been done badly. But the script keeps a healthy distance and gives the viewer flashes of depth. The ending seemed a bit contrived as the King is coincidentally cured the day his son goes to take regency. But apart from a few boring plot devices I think they did a nice job of not going over the top in acting. It would have been terribly easy to make George zanier, or the Prince of Wales more despicable or cartoonish. But they seemed to give all the characters a viewpoint where we could understand why the did what they did. The Prince begged to be given something of worth to do. The touching relationship between George and his wife was done exquisitely. The people plotting intrigues generally had a valid point. All the second layer characters were given interesting and multi layered points of view. The buffoonish doctors even were handled with a touch of sympathy, doing the best they could with the knowledge at hand. And George himself was so complicated you never were sure you liked him. But even if you didn't like him, you felt sorry for the horrendous things he suffered. Excellent movie, should be watched by all.

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Touch of Absurd, and Good Ol' Fashioned

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 19 February 2008 05:01 (A review of Muriel's Wedding)

Muriel's Wedding is truly nothing more than a Ugly Duckling story, but you know you are in for a bit of fun when you are see the welcome sign for the town of Porpoise Spit. Muriel is not only a frump, she's pathetic and really you can't blame people for not liking her. Not that you care much for the others as well. They are all hysterically funny caricatures. But after enough times of being told she's too pathetic she goes a little haywire, absconds with the family savings, puts her family in hot water, and heads off to change her fortunes. Along the way she meets up with another dropout from her high school and a true friendship is formed. The story takes interesting turns, and Muriel has her moments of growth, and other moments that make you groan. And even when Muriel has her Swan moment, underneath she's still a little annoying and "ugly duckling"ish. And maybe that's what makes it a different sort of movie. Muriel is most likable when she's halfway between duckling and swan.

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Players and Schemes

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 19 February 2008 04:39 (A review of Syriana (2005))

I'm thankful I watched the movie, and didn't read the book. There are a lot of players and schemes going on, and I'm sure I couldn't have kept track of it in the book. In a way this could be considered a gangster film, even if some of the players were well respected governments. But somehow it was able to make nearly all of the characters multifaceted, and complicated, and not exactly "good" or "evil". It was a nice ensemble movie, smart, well shot, filled with "actors' actors" and thought provoking. And with most things based in real life, it didn't get all tied up with a bow at the end. George was good, Oscar-worthy I'm not sure.

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Toni never gives anything but authentici

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 18 February 2008 02:28 (A review of Japanese Story)

The plot left a bit to be desired in this movie, and the Japanese character was written a bit shallowly, but this movie still had an interesting take on a pretty routine plot. A female Australian Geologist ends up playing driver to a Japanese man, and she never is exactly sure why he deserves this attention. He's uncommunicative and bossy, and young and attractive. Some plot devices are pretty stupid and irritating. But the photography is great in an understated way. And most of all Toni Collette is wonderful in a truly authentic way. And the movie gives you the opportunity to see that. It gives you the chance to actually see the bits that usually get cut away. From her having to fold his drunken body into her car after a night of required karaoke (which NO one wanted to do, but was the usual thing to do), to her melt down in the bathroom where she is crying without trying to make noise, etc., etc., etc. This is a quiet movie, the kind that let's you think about all the little intricacies of being in certain situations. Flaws aside, it's one I recommend.

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Beautiful but smug

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 18 February 2008 01:53 (A review of The Third Man)

The cinematography is brilliant, and so vivid you almost forget you are watching a black & white movie. It's been well preserved and looks as if it could have been released yesterday. And the locales were so interesting that Vienna seems like another character (whether it was shot there or not). But maybe today's audiences are just too smart, but I never trusted anything or anyone, so any shocking developments were anything but. Except the girl, in a movie full of smug, smarmy and overly earnest people, she always seemed real, and sympathetic and realistically honorable. But, as a movie in all the top 100's list, it let me down, but it was probably the first brilliant movie of it's kind, but now isn't enough.

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