bladerunner112's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

The War of the Worlds
½

Well, when all is said and done and Spielberg looks over his life work, WOTW is not going to rank at the top of anyone's list. Having said that, its pretty good. He stays very close to the original material and, since we all pretty much know that formula, there are no big surprises and the ending seems too easy. Great mood throughout however and, since I get easily frightened at movies, had me closing me eyes occasionally. Tom Cruise is under-utilized here doing his standard "immature adult rising to the occasson" part (ala A Few Good Men, Minority Report etc). The little girl is excellent and man can she scream. Aliens are subpar for SS. No big life lessons unless you have alien-phobia and need some exposure work.

Cheers,
Dave

The Road Home (Wo de fu qin mu qin)

A very sweet and thoughtful love story. I was once again impressed that big budgets have less to do with a good movie than a good story, writing and acting. And, I was challenged to suspend judgment of cultural rituals that seem "outdated" to me - they come from a unique history and a rich and complex story.

Manufactured Landscapes

This is a thoughtful and introspective Canadian documentary exploring the ideas behind the artists stills collection wherein he brings to life landscapes created by modern industry. I really appreciated how apolitical this movie stayed and allowed me to draw my own conclusions and opinions. It struck me that everything in my life from my car to my tv remote has a story behind it. Perhaps the best movie I've seen that has brought me into modern Chinese culture and life.

Three Seasons
½

Like many films that come from SE Asia, there is a nice pace to this beautifully filmed movie...and, again like many such films, I really didn't "get" the point. Having said that, it was enjoyable enough if not rivetting. I often find that a close look at other cultures leaves me with an awareness of universal human themes: the need for relationship; the struggle of class; that ever culture has good and selfish people.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Wow, I loved this documentary about the world of Donkey Kong. This is a great example of how a documentary can be as riveting as any work of fiction. We have a protagonist, a villian and a great context to build tension and the uncertainty of potential tragedy. Well done.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Although a bit confusing if you've not seen the earlier installments, this is a very thought-provoking film about atonement and vengeance. "Big atonement for big sins...small atonement for small sins" is one of the key ideas. Redemption ultimately comes from forgiveness the movie suggests, not vengeance as we see that Geum-ja's freedom comes as her daughter offers her forgiveness. A bit unevenly paced and VERY harsh at one point, this is a good movie and worth the time and effort.

300
300(2007)

Well, not much here that one does not expect. Greek mythology told with the Frank Miller edge and brilliant pacing from director [url="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0811583/"]Zack Snyder[/url]. Filled with testosterone driven scenes of violence and glory, 300 delivers the perfect "guy" movie.

Fido
Fido(2007)

One of the quirkiest and oddest movies I've ever seen...and it genuinely works! Imagine the world of Pleasantville or Father Knows Best and morph into it zombies as pets. In order for this movie to work, the script and actors have to buy into zombies as a normal part of their lives...playing it mundane and deadpan adds the energy to the premise. The opening scene is a 5th grade classroom with the perfect middle american 50s look with the teacher introducing the guest for the day, the security head of the Zombie management agency. He casually asks the kids how many of them have had to kill a family member who became a zombie after they died...3 kids put up their hands...hilarious. Carrie Ann Moss (a nice vancouver girl) is the best of a good cast, playing her thoughtful and liberal (meaning pro-zombie) part with depth.

Jesus Camp
Jesus Camp(2006)

As a documentary, Jesus Camp is not great (despite its nomination in the documentary category). There is little effort on the director's part to make a strong statement either pro or con as he allows the camera to simply follow these very eccentric evangelicals around as they try and "ramp" up the religio-political fervor of these children. At one point, the woman in charge of Jesus Camp is asked on a radio show what the difference is between her efforts and those of islamic extremists who put M16s in the hands of their children...her response: "we have God on our side"...WOW!!
Deeply disturbing and saddening for me was this documentary as I spent some time in this movement (in another lifetime) as I saw these young children being brainwashed.

Mrs. Henderson Presents

This movie has been hanging around the movie channel for a while now and I finally watched it. So, it was passable I guess, but not much to really hang my hat on. Judi Dench and Bob Hoskin were fine but with average chemistry and the story was completely predictable. It wasn't bad, but nothing special.

Breach
Breach(2007)

Breach is a very evenly paced film, using nothing more than storyline and context to generate ample amounts of tension and suspense. Its really remarkable to see that action/violence/gore/score/special effects are not the necessary or requisite elements needed to make a scene suspenseful...rather, its really good characters taking risks in concert with the storyline/plot that make it. Anyway, I really enjoyed this story about the final investigation stage of FBI traitor Robert Hanssen. Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe are both exceptional in their respective roles and Laura Linney (as usual) provides excellent support (its always a pleasure to see good actors working with a good script and direction). Although not trying to suggest any deep commentary about life (as opposed to The Good Shepherd), Breach tells its story well and reminds us that acts of betrayal not only injure the primary victims, but can cause sweeping hurt and loss to others on many levels.

Twist of Faith
½

Twist of Faith is an HBO documentary about a man's recovery from sexual abuse perpetrated by his childhood priest. The doc explores how the Catholic church continues to re-abuse by refusing to take responsibility for the actions of their clergy. Further, Twist of Faith shows how spouses and children become colaterally injured by the abuse. In the end, this documentary is about the painful and awkward recovery of a troubled man. From my perspective we see how difficult this sort of process becomes when we try and make sense of our traumas on our own.

Junebug
Junebug(2005)

I have to admit that I almost didn't watch Junebug. It was one of my online rentals that I couldn't remember selecting and it sort of just stuck around for a while. When I select movies on zip.ca, I do so for a myriad of complex and quirky reasons which seem plausible at the time of selection. When they actually come in the mail however, I often can't recall the movie or why I ever selected it in the first place. And, like my movie friend Todd, I don't really like to preview a movie too much. All of that to say, it was sitting on my entertainment center for like forever and I had no idea what it was about...that was strike one. Strike two was that it sounded like a kids movie or something. But strike three was that I saw it playing on my satellite movie channel (not only the kiss of death, but why am I renting a movie I can see for free???...get it??...okay, I'm Scottish). But, for some reason, I think I was up late and was in the mood for a movie, I decided to give it a chance...and here's the payoff pitch...I was soooo glad I did.

We live in a idealistic world where we have come to believe that true intimacy feels good and that the litmus test of whether we have found a good mate or a good friend is when the connection between us is so seamless that we never have to work at staying closely connected. I love it when filmmakers buck this trend and show us something more authentic and substantial. Junebug is another in a line of recent films trying to show that real life contentment and intimacy means finding a meaningful connection with the quirky, bumpy, uneven people in our lives, often our families. The basic premise is this: average southern kid goes to Chicago and marries an art gallery owner who has lived around the world (they come from very different backgrounds...get it?). She needs to travel near his home town to meet an undiscovered and quirky civil war artist and so the newlywed couple decide to make a family trip out of it and literally "meet the parents"...but unlike Ben Stiller's experience, this "meeting" will not be filled with poignant and clever hi jinx, but rather with a real family challenged with the task of opening itself up to an outsider. And from the point of meeting, director Phil Morrison allows the characters to collide with each other in messy and subtly painful ways.

Indeed Junebug is full of collisions: of values, world views, mores, gender, personalities - and these collisions often lead to some of the best understated tensions I have seen in a movie for a long time. Everyone in this movie has a unique perspective and "way" about them and from the start these differences begin to exasperate and delight in the same conversation. And yet Morrison skillfully invites his characters to "hang in there" and stay connected. Nothing is candy coated and we see these real and flawed people work through, tolerate and to be challenged and...to stay connected. One of the best scenes is when the new sister and brother in law try to have a conversation about Huck Finn...she having studied it in University and he trying complete a book report on it for his GED assignment.

The performances from this cast of "character actors" are very good the movie leaves us with a genuine sense of satisfaction. And though I think Junebug is asking us to rethink our idealistic perspectives on the nature of intimacy and relationships, in the end this movie is making a strong statement about the importance of family as the background adhesive that truly holds our lives together...that although quirky and often frustrating, it is through our family connections that we maintain a sense of self and continuity.

Bubble
Bubble(2006)

What an odd yet compelling film. I was vaguely aware that this was one of director Soderbergh's movies about grass roots america, but didn't know much more. Shot with high quality equipment, Soderbergh asks what a murder mystery might feel like in "real" life. There are long scenes where nothing really happens...there are interviews between a detective and a suspect that are soooo benign as to be amusing. Soderbergh refuses to add any "hollywood" to this movie and the end result is so satisfying in a wierd sort of way. The first 15 minutes of this "movie" were like what a network exec would feel when pitched the idea of "its a show about nothing"...well, something has to happen! Thats how I felt...this movie is about nothing and borders on the boring except these "average" folks draw you into their mundane world.
For this, I give Soderbergh full marks and highly recommend one of the quirkiest films of the year.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Okay, lets look at the positive stuff first. Wil Smith's son is pretty good and plays the loving, longsuffering but very cute part quite well. Even Wil himself rarely fails to charm us and he is in good form again. While not quite finding the complexity of a Hanks, Sandler or Carey in this crossover role, he does capture that part of the character that allowed him to persevere against soooo many heartbreaks and disappointments...speaking of which, does this guy qualify for the "Can anything else go wrong?" award, sheesh.

Now, the not so good. I think the film (and I assume the book) are trying to say something about the "pursuit" of happiness or whatever as being the key to life..."the trip's the thing" sort of stuff. I completely dig that theme and love it when I see it on film...however, they botch this one up mainly because, although they give lip service to the idea, they completely sell out to the more core idea that the trip is a necessary evil on your way to getting rich and successful...who would ever want the existance Smith's character lives out for the majority of this movie, its bloody awful. Its only when he succeeds, and yes by succeed the movie means that he becomes rich and powerful, do we finally feel like his life has been worthwhile. As the movie came to its obvious conclusion, I was sooo hoping that we would not be faced with the closing captions screens telling us how good everything worked out...if director Muccino had gone that way, just maybe we would have had to face that it was the whole journey that was important, the end product was insignificant in comparison...but no, there it was declaring the achievement of the American dream to be the only worthy goal of a person's life. No doubt Chris Gardner was a hard working African American who had to persevere against the odds to make it...but, please be more honest about the moral or values you are wanting to champion.

The Pursuit of Happyness has enough of the hollywood formula to make it an enjoyable watch and I would give it a solid 7.5 for entertainment value...but the confusion on the core ideas was such a letdown for me.

The Good Shepherd

Robert DeNiro has crafted a thoughtful and expansive tale chronicalling the early days of the CIA. Matt Damon plays the lead role and we follow his career as a special ops CIA spy from his covert fraternity days, through WW2, cold war to the Bay of Pigs". Damon, along with costar Angelina Jolie are so able to play as very young (do these 2 ever grow old?!). Although a bit slow and brooding, the movie keeps working away at the theme of the connection between secrecy and hurt. Ironically, Damon comes to convince himself that it is only in keeping secrets that he is able to be a good father, husband and patriot (there is a heart-renching scene near the end where he makes a decision which ultimately protects his son but seems so brutal, thus the title The Good Shepherd). "I'm afraid all of the time 'cause everything is a secret"...spoken by Damon's adult son in the film pretty much sums up this important theme. I remember Betty Carter (a well respected family therapist) once said "its not what we know that makes us crazy, its what we don't know"...I have seen this played out in peoples' lives so often and its what DeNiro invites us to face - do we really help by keeping things hidden. There are no easy answers to this I suppose but, as the large engraving says in the lobby of the newly built CIA building in Langley near the end of the movie, "The truth shall set you free!".

The Holiday
The Holiday(2006)

Okay, you probably know the basic plot...2 women who have their heart broken decide to trade houses (England and LA) and, of course, encounter complicated romantic situations. Got it? Well, its ultra-cute and follows formula to the tee...however formulas work and this one does too. I was in the mood to feel good and The Holiday lets me believe in good outcomes and that tragedy is for another lifetime. Winslett, whom I've seen twice this week (Little Children) shows why she is probably the best working actress today...Jack Black is adorable...Jude Law works his role and, according to my wife, provided first class eye candy...only Diaz really mailed it in.
Nothing new here but delivers exactly what you would expect.

In the Weeds
In the Weeds(2000)

What do you get when you combine mid-level actors, uninteresting writing, overdone cliches about "life", dreams and coming to terms with reality, astonishingly bad stereotypes, predictable plot turns, mediocre soundtrack with an aging Molly Ringwald??? You get "In the Weeds". There is a line in a Monty Python skit where Eric Idle is reviewing an Australian wine and he says "this is not a wine for drinking...this is a wine for laying down and avoiding". Well, in the same vein, this is not a dvd for watching, this is a dvd for avoiding. Awful, simply awful. [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/smilies/rotten.gif[/img]

Little Children

I went to see Little Children last night and, although I think it might take some time for it to sit with me to decide what I really think about it, here are my initial reactions.

The movie feels more like the reading of a book than it does a movie, with a narrator helping us into the minds of the characters as opposed to the voice over doing basic plot setup...indeed, little children has the even pacing of a novel, taking its time to let the various stories unfold. I found I enjoyed the movies patience and careful storytelling.

I think Little Children is about suberbia and the self-absorbed lives of the characters, people so into themselves and their little dramas that their children are more landscape than anything else. Whether director Field intended this or not, there is a sharp critical edge against the lack of meaningful attachment parents have with their children, including the elderly mother of the local pedophile. The movie subtly asks us to pay more attention to engaging our children and perhaps a little less to the small problems that consume us.

Perhaps the part of the movie I liked the best is that there are a number of very complex and engaging novelettes which run in and through each other not unlike Magnolia or Short Cuts. I love these "collage" films that allow the overall impact of a number of stories to challenge and engage the viewer. Although often bleak, Little Children has an important message for all of us in North American culture...PS Kate Winslett is wonderful in her role.

The Hills Have Eyes
½

bad, bad, bad...sooo dumb. But, I went, didn't I? I think I begged Peg to take me so I could have some fun getting scared..it was too dumb for that. I read some positive reviews and took a chance. Note to self: don't read those Jeff Anderson anymore.

Shortbus
Shortbus(2006)

Creative, provocative and wierd. I love the attempt to shock us into facing our sexuality but, maybe, the characters a bit "out there" for most of us. I wonder if we could get the same questions going (ie what prejudices do I carry around about my sex?), without the fringe element...who knows. Because the characters were extreme, I found it difficult to really resonate with their struggle...and just maybe those are the very prejudices I need to face.

The Descent
The Descent(2006)
½

Oooops, I'm embarrased to say I kinda liked it. Okay, I get sooo scared in suspenseful movies and this one made me hide my eyes quiet a bit. The first 2/3s before the mole people attacked were pretty good...after that, meh.

Miami Vice
Miami Vice(2006)

Brooding and dark like the series, it held me for a while. I thought Farrel and Fox were well cast as Crocket and Tubbs. Otherwise, kinda forgettable.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
½

Hmmm, really liked the first one but found the sequel to be confusing and long...not a good combo for summer fare...also, the theater's AC broke and it was like a million degrees - do you think that affected my opinion...yahuh, it felt like i was in hell, lol.

The Devil Wears Prada
½

Meryl Streep is worth watching in this passable movie about finding one's identity. Streep however brings the evil Miranda to life giving her depth and complexity. Interesting satire on the fashion industry and a very good performance by Stanley Tucci are the other positive parts.

Superman Returns

This one may be the best Superman yet. It does a great job with the love thing between Superman and Lois and shows us so much more of Superman's struggle (Its not easy to be me...David Gray) with his conflicting roles. One of the interesting philosophical pieces that has intrigued me was in one of the trailers where we hear Jor-el on voice over (as God) saying that it is mankind's capacity for goodness which is the motivation to save them by sending them (us) his only son...clear reference to the Jesus event and it is here that I take exception. Modern Christianity has championed this idea that it is moral improvement which is the basis for spiritual formation and indeed is the litmus test of faith...I could not disagree more! It is actually our complete lack of capacity for good, our million year history of demonstrating that we do NOT morally reform and that ultimately, unless some "other" should rescue us, we are in a pickle...Jesus was many things I guess, Superman was NOT one of them.

Good movie though [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/smilies/biggrin.gif[/img].

Snakes on a Plane
½

Fully light summer fare here...I found it enjoyably campy...I watched it completely to hear SJ say the big line "Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!".

World Trade Center
½

I saw this one a few months back and I can't really remember much except I sort of thought it was okay but that maybe Nicholas Cage was miscast. Not nearly as good as United 93. I suppose for Americans, it is likely another opportunity to do some consolodation work about 9/11.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
½

I really enjoy Will Farell and this one doesn't disappoint. Light and enjoyable farce about Nascar.

Little Miss Sunshine

What a cute and interesting movie about a family trying to stay optimistic in the midst of lots of heartbreak. It has an indy feel and very good performances, especially Greg Kinear. One more in the current rage at examing how we as broken/flawed/quirky people need oodles of compassion and forgiveness to stay connected long term.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
½

Documentaries are wierd...its hard sometimes to know whether you are watching a good sort of TV documentary or something worthy of film. It took me a bit to decide on this music doc about Wilco. First, I never heard their music before watching the doc...but their music is really good and its the music that drives the movie...director Jones gives us enough of their soulful/folk/rock in performance or video style to keep the viewer engaged...he also filmed in B/W and delivers an artsy sort of feel...kinda cool.

The movie however is trying to make big statements about the state of the union in big music business and how they are trying to commercialize art...nothing new here really albeit somewhat interesting to watch it all unfold live so to speak.

Overall, pretty good and definitely worth the time.

Blood Diamond
½

I just saw this powerfully political film. Leonardo is emerging as one of the best of his crowd. Although long, this film never lags and moves forward in a straight line making very strong political statements...yet it does not feel heavy-handed at all...clearly an Oscar contender.

The Break-Up
The Break-Up(2006)

If you can get your head around the fact that the studio payed Aniston and Vaughn big bucks to play in a non-romantic comedy, this film works big time. If you went naturally expecting what was conveyed in the ads, you will feel ripped off...and for good reason methinks. Here's what I think happened. The studio signs these two big stars and expects a formulaic black comedy and then hands things off to director [url="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0715636/"]Peyton Reed[/url]. He makes this very insightful film about breaking up and shows off Aniston's depth and presents it to the producer...can you imagine their jaws as they realize that this movie is NOT going to have mass appeal. So, knowing there is not much to do but advertise the sh** out of it showing us all the funny and quirky moments. We go to this summer lark expecting to be entertained...so there it is.

Okay, get by all of that and you have a very good movie. Reed does not sugar coat it and does not bail out hollywood style. There is a great scene between Vaughn and Favreau that nails how friends should and do respond to their friends in relational crisis...there is no zany caper hatched to win the girl back...there is honesty and reality.

This is a very good movie if you can detach it from its studio context.

Babel
Babel(2006)
½

Well acted and the premise of the movie is pretty interesting...but Crash does it way better. This movie is sooo dusty, I wanted to have a long gulp of water at the end. I wonder what all the hype is about.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Well, truth be told, its simply a shockingly funny movie. And, whether we like it or not, exposes our latent prejudices and bigotries. We should all see this movie to be fully reminded of our humanity. It has its flaws but any movie that can keep me so on my toes is well done.

Stranger Than Fiction

Will Farell is so likeable and Maggie Gyllenhal is completely adorable in this charming movie about living our lives NOW. Thoughtful and completely satisfying.

The Queen
The Queen(2006)

Very interesting and well done movie on this unique event in our shared history.

Fighter
Fighter(2001)
½

I thought I was done with documentaries but a well done doc is probably the most deeply satisfying movie experience around. Fighter did not disappoint.

Fighter is about a air fighter in WW2, Jan Weiner...he also just happens to be one of the men in the documentary - but the film is not about the real man, but the story of the man who was a fighter. The film follow two friends (one the principal the other a writer, Arnost Lustig) on a tour of his flight in Europe during the war.

This movie is about the subjectivity of history...how any story can be seen from different angles and even the one who is in the center of the story has only one part of the story to tell.

This movie is also about 2 men trying to hang onto a friendship despite their different ideas and experiences vis a vis a very controversial part of our history, that being the Nazis and the communists. You see, its one thing to have a different opinion on something benign, say the weather or the whether the Canucks should play the back up goalie more often - its very easy to be connected and friends...but take issues into which we both invest real importance, our children, our bank account, our sex life, then we shall see how well we tolerate difference in the other and even in ourselves.

Herein lies the genius of film as art...you take a very basic/simple idea: we look at things from a different perspective...and then you allow that idea to be focussed upon through these very lovely and complex conversations and contexts and then suddenly you say to yourself "WOW, all of us, we look at things from such different perspectives...we are not trying to be the center of pain for another...we are simply different"...such is the genius of film.

In a brilliant soliloquy, Lustig reminds us that it is only the rare person who becomes a hero who stands up and fights the bad in society...most of us are sad when someone dies but deep down are silently glad it is him and not me...and this is observed without contempt.

Director Amir Bar-Lev has made a movie to be listened to more than watched. Its more like My Dinner with Andre in the sense that it is within the dialogue and the ideas that the power of the film is experienced.

De zaak Alzheimer (The Memory of a Killer)
½

I just watched Memory of a Killer last night cause I had little else to do and it was a pretty good time filler. I think I OD'd on european movies a few years back and thus didn't love the subtitle thing...but, still, it kept me interested.
The Good:

[list=1][*] A pretty interesting plot with a bit of a suspense element as we wonder if the killer will get caught and if the police will catch on to the bigger picture.[*][url="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0100460/"]Koen De Bouw[/url] who plays the chief inspector plays his role perfectly...very human actually and whenever he was on scene, I was genuinely interested.[/list]The Bad:
[list=1][*] A bit dreary and washed out in appearance and the antihero killer played by [url="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0213912/"]Jan Decleir[/url] does not draw me in at all.[*] It would have been much better at 95 minutes.[/list]Insights about Life:
[list=1][*] I guess the whole Karma thing that ultimately bad guys get whats coming to them and real justice prevails is teased with in a nice way.[*] I was a bit disappointed that the movie didn't do more with the alzheimer's theme...its sort of vaguely referred to but could have played a more overt role as the idea of memory is visually toyed around with by director [url="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0887452/"]Erik Van Looy[/url][/list]As I read my post it sounds like I'm "iffy" on the film. Not really. Its pretty good and would have been very good if shorter.

Dave

The Transporter

Handsome Rob kicks some major *ss but overall the movie just doesn't get smart enough. I wondered how the hero would do against Morpheus, but the point is moot. Excellent explosions and the first chase scene is cool. Other than that, you've seen it before. Italian Job is a much better movie if you like Jason Stratham (Handsome Rob). One last note, there are some real "bad *ass" dudes in this movie, cool for a nano-second.

The 40 Year Old Virgin
½

The 40 Year old virgin gets a nine relative to other comedies...it has charm, fantastic cast chemistry (as good as I've seen) and almost non-stop laughs...in fact the movie sustains a high level of comedy for the entire length - wow. The waxing scene left me breathless with laughter and any time Carell imitated "street" lingo, I lost it. Catherine Keener is very good as a straight man(?) and ensemble cast of comics keep the comedy diverse, although I found Paul Rudd (Phoebe's boyfriend) a bit flat at times. Comparisons to Wedding Crashers are inevitable and Virgin is a much better movie...WC has funny moments but this one kept it up all the way through. I was reminded of Something About Mary more than once, especially the final song, but Virgin even outdoes Mary for sustained comedy...well done mr. Apatow.

I Heart Huckabees
½

I just saw this movie for the second time (the first being in the theater and me and Todd liked, but did not love it). It was better second time around and I liked the overall teasing of philosophy and how passionate/certain we become of our ideas. I found I enjoyed the game of identifying the various perspectives represented and I really liked the the way the film showed how most views are somewhat complimentary. Great job by Naomi Watts and Mark Walberg. The "ball in the face" scene was brilliant. Having said all of that, the film has flaws...mainly Schwartzman who left me a bit distant for a sympathetic lead. I guess there were times when I was left too lost to understand the inside jokes. All in all though, a good movie.

Downfall (Der Untergang)
½

Everything you are going to read about this movie is likely bang on. Its very well acted and directed. It presents a Hitler who is nuts but is also human (not my kind of guy but human nonetheless). Its gripping in parts as you see how deeply the devotion some people had to Hitler and the Nazi doctrines. Ultimately, the film left me feeling very sad about this whole chapter of our history. Cudos to German director Oliver Hirschbiegel for being willing to face the Hitler saga so honestly and openly.

Secretary
Secretary(2002)
½

Secretary really surprised me with its depth, complexity and thoughtful script. Clearly, however, this is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. Its about a young woman who self harms who finds salvation in a dominant/submissive S&M sort of relationship. The director invites the viewer to be simultaneously turned-off by and attracted to the characters and subject matter. While not completely relativistic, it left me thinking that maybe this sort of arrangement might be a good fit for some people...not mainstream, but there nonetheless.

Murderball
Murderball(2005)

The main thought that went through my mind as I watched this well done documentary was how much I do not want to be crippled (I even made a silent vow to slow down on bike rides). Yet, watching these people coming to terms with the tragic losses/limitations of their lives is truly admirable. As a Canadian, I'm glad this movie did not downshift into a "rah rah USA" sports flick. The actual game parts of the movie are interesting and engaging enough, but its the life stories that drew me in. Cudos to Rubin and Shapiro for a well done documentary.

They Live
They Live(1988)
½

They Live is a movie that tries to interact with a Matrix-esque theme of being blind to cultural control of our lives and minds - I like the attempt. BUT...way too campy. I can't believe this style floated even in the 80s, it was just too over the top. Roddy Piper is horrible and was way too distracting for me to get into the movie. Nice try, but misses the mark.

Wedding Crashers

I saw Wedding Crashers with 5 of my closest friends while we were on a bike trip on Vancouver Island. We were feeling well fed and had a bit to drink..in other words, we were in the mood for a good laugh. And we got one. This is a very fun movie that even had a bit of charm (and a surprising amount of sex/nudity). Vince Vaughan was fantastic and Owen Wilson always comes through as a straight man. Shallowness at its best but made me laugh out loud.

Bus 174 (Ônibus 174)

I'm giving Bus 174 a high rating for its exceptional sociological analysis of street kids who live in Rio. The main idea is that these invisible kids who are the object of social disenfranchisement and penal cruelty/torture, found a way to have a voice through the gripping hijacking of a bus in June of 2000. The film uses mainly live footage of the crisis and weaves in the tragic story of the hijacker, a young man who had been living on the streets since he was 5. As a documentary it is very well done and left me with a sense of bewilderment that life can get so awful for children. I must confess however that it is difficult to watch a subtitled documentary trying to follow the complex themes while trying to read...but, small item. I watched this movie with a group of friends and I must say that this sort of harsh realism rarely lends itself as a party movie.

No Man's Land

This is a very interesting film (subtitled) which is a sort of metaphor of the whole Bosnian war. I don't know if its based on true events or not but it doesn't matter. The film focusses on 3 soldiers (1 Serb and 2 Bosnians) who get caught in a trench between the respective lines. One of the men is laid flat out on a bouncing mine keeping him pinned to the ground. We simultaneously see the commonality of soldiers and the hatred they carry for each other. And then we see the political mess created by the UN and the ubiquitous media. The story line is simple yet carried me along to the end allowing me to get a sense of this senseless war.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
½

I guess I liked the movie, mainly because of the very quirky Willy Wonka played by Johnny Depp. The film looks great (ala Tim Burton) but lacks something. We get the obvious messages about children but overall the story seemed thin to me. I realized early on that each of the kids was going to face his/her own karma and that Willy had some reckoning of his own to do with his father...so, when it happened, I was a bit disinterested. Charlie's house looked cool though. I really did like Johnny Depp though...very off beat, what a shock.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring

Aaaaallllrightythen...this is NOT your fastest paced movie ever made...actually, it may be the slowest - but it is fantastic. If you can stomach very, very little dialogue (and subtitled to boot), and not much in the way of action, there is sooo much in this film. We follow the life of a young Korean lad who is the disciple of a master Buddhist monk. The seasons of the film correspond to the seasons of life and emphasize the connectedness of all the events which run throughout. There is a marvelous scene in the first Spring where the young boy torments a fish, frog and snake and is then chastened by the Monk who prophecies the Karma which is to be his life. At first, for those who, like me, are unfamiliar with Eastern spirituality, it was tempting to overlook the profound nature of Karmic thought, but because the director so skillfully wove this theme throughout the film, I had to face the power and depth of this thinking. Even though there is a harshness to the life of the lead character, this movie is full of grace, compassion and understanding. I know as a parent I am so often impatient with the development of my children (or myself for that matter) yet [u]Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring[/u] invites me to be patient and trust the slow, yet powerful movement of maturity throughout the seasons of our lives. Of late, I have been deeply moved to consider the relevance of Buddhist doctrine for our western mindset - a mindset that speaks against anxiety/depression/worry and asks us to move more gracefully with the seasons of our lives.

The Straight Story
½

I saw The Straight Story with Adele, Todd and Shar one evening and I think I can safely say they were bored to tears by this very slow-paced movie...but I really enjoyed it. Richard Farnsworth plays Alvin,a man at the end of his life who is trying to make peace with his estranged brother by driving across Iowa on a lawnmower (and they thought it was boring!!). Okay, okay, so maybe it was a bit one thin on special effects, but I think I was in the mood to reflect and think about important relationships. I loved the wisdom and perspective that Alvin demonstrated with the various people in the movie. At one point, he meets up with a young, pregnant teenager who is trying to run away from her life and family. Alvin quietly talks with her over a campfire about the importance of connection with our families (no matter how quirky), especially when the compass of our life is askew. I looooved the gentle soundtrack as well - there are long scenes where we follow Alvin driving his mower through the deserted Iowa roads while a haunting violin/guitar track is playing...I became lost in my own reflections during these scenes and, at the end of the film, had a very pervasive sense of calm...that was until the others gagged at the slowness of it all and left me defending this wonderful little movie. If you want a quiet and reflective evening with a film, this one is bang on!

The Dreamlife of Angels

Well, it seems I've had a plethora of slow-paced movies of late. I saw [u]The Straight Story[/u] (Very slow), then [u]Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring[/u] (it made [u]The Straight Story[/u] look like [u]Ace Ventura[/u]) and now [u]The Dreamlife of Angels[/u]. Its not superslow but it takes its time in moving the storyline (such as it is) along. Maybe it don't get foreign themes because this one was lauded by the critics and I didn't really get it. Its about a young french woman (Isa) who is on her own and sort of panhandling her way through life. She gets a job at a garment factory and meets a very depressed girl (Marie) and their lives together begin. The rest of the movie is the different ways these two leads approach life - Isa from a free-spirited and caring perspective and Marie from a shame-based fearful one. I really liked how the director explored the devestating impact contempt has on relationships. Beyond that, there was not much here for me...the deeper metaphors and "meanings" went over my head and I didn't really get the angel or dreamlife metaphors. If you are interested in following two young women around as they do very little, then this film is for you.