Movies Based on Books A Lunch Community <![CDATA[ Ender's Game: Limitations of a Medium]]>
Of course that was before Computer Generated Imagery, CGI, got really good.  The movie Ender's Game still has a problem but the computer cinematography is not it.  The movie is two hours long but another 30 minutes would have helped a lot.  Maybe an hour could have made it as good as it could possibly be.

But having read the book multiple times I find the movie somewhat disappointing, but that is what I expected.  Too much happens in the book, and too much that is inside Ender's head to come across well in a two hour movie.  It is the psychological aspect for which Card said it was "unfilmable".

I did a review of the book:

The story of Peter and Valentine, Ender's brother and sister, on Earth after Ender goes to Battle School is completely missing from the movie.  But that is a factor which affected the ending of the story so the end of the movie had to be modified.

Maybe people who have not read the book can rate the movie higher but I can only give it a +3.5.

Movies have too much of a time constraint and maybe they need too large an audience to make money so the producers have to compromise and can't do what would appeal to readers since they are not a large enough part of the market.]]> Mon, 18 Nov 2013 02:41:29 +0000
<![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
So many people have gushed over Rodriguez's "comic book" visual style to match the way Frank Miller's original comics were drawn, but I'm not impressed by this at all.  The problem with this film is that it seems like Rodriguez banked on the idea that people would like this only for its "unique" cinematography, female eye candy, fast vintage cars, and tales of revenge against over-the-top bad guys.  While I like tales of revenge and pretty ladies, they can't save a film with extremely bland characters and storylines, and the stiff acting in some areas don't help, either (especially Jessica Alba).

I think it's quite frustrating that people will be quick to slam the cinematic pap generated by the likes of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich yet give Rodriguez's movies a free pass, even when they're fundamentally similar for the fact that Bay's, Emmerich's, and Rodriguez's movies are all style and no substance.]]> Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:41:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ The man whose life needed a second take.]]>
Often called the worst film director of all time - with his films also given the privilege of being regarded as some of the crappiest ever produced - it would seem that Edward D. Wood Jr. would have no reason to be optimistic. Yet, played here by Johnny Depp, he has nothing to do but smile. Certainly a whacky, peculiar individual; Ed believed his area of expertise to be filmmaking, even though he didn't know jack-squat on the subject. He never went to film school, although he walks the walk by residing in sunny Los Angeles, California (AKA Hollywood). Ed lives with his girlfriend Dolores (Sarah Jessica Parker), who stars in the stage and film productions that he attempts to carry out. Just when Eddie feels that success is safely in his tight grasp, a negative review in the newspaper of his latest effort proves discouraging. Perhaps he has been plagued by romantic delusions of what life should be like for an upcoming artist of the visual medium in the highly desirable Hollywood. Edward dreams of new heights yet can't seem to get past the old lows.

But one chance encounter can change a life - or in this case, a career - and Edward's very own encounter is with an idol of his, Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) of "Dracula" and "White Zombie" fame. Edward drives Bela back to his house after they meet and greet on the street, and the two hit it off almost instantly. Bela was once a big star, so Edward thinks he can take advantage of that quite easily. But he brings his ideas to the studio executives - with the promise of Bela appearing in a role - and gets the same old response: "isn't he dead?" If it's not that, it's words of advice to stay away from the man; for he has, apparently, slipped himself right into a life of frequent narcotics abuse. Edward ignores these warnings even though they do end up being true, and decides to shoot his picture. First, it's a film about transvestites. After that one is unsuccessful (but completed), the next film is called "Bride of the Monster". This is the one to end it all, literally; for it is upon the completion of the film that Dolores breaks up with Ed after a new leading lady steps up to take her place in the production.

Another why she broke up with Ed; his strange knack for stealing her clothes and wearing them around the house of while directing. When he wears the feathered coat, he somehow feels terrifically inspired. I suppose we all have our "feathered coat", although it might not be a literal one like Ed's (or rather, Dolores's, to be absolutely precise). The reason for this fetishistic sort of behavior can be traced back to Ed's boyhood, as he himself says; when his mother would dress him up in women's clothes because she lacked daughters. This puts somewhat of a psychological handicap on Wood, although he is forever insistent on being a straight man. Anyways, I find myself drifting.

For "Bride of the Monster" and the production that followed, "Plan 9 from Outer Space" (arguably his most infamous film); Ed added a few new members to his crew. The important new additions include: friendly and sociable brute Tor Johnson (George "The Animal" Steele), sexy television horror host Vampira (Lisa Marie), Kathy O'Hara (Patricia Arquette) - who becomes Ed's new girlfriend after Dolores gets jealous and leaves him -, and financial investor (and television psychic) Criswell (Jeffrey Jones). Bill Murray also has a brief but very funny role as an openly gay man named Bunny Breckinridge who unsuccessfully tries to get himself a sex change (ironic, since Edward's first movie, being the one involving transvestites, is strictly about a man who also desires a sex change). There are a lot of characters here; some kind, some mean, some decent, each colorful and very real in their own way. Even Vincent D'Onofrio makes a cameo appearance as Orson Wells, another great man who inspired Ed to take up filmmaking.

Tim Burton was chosen to be the director of this fine biopic, but it never feels as if he was saddled with his duties. He certainly voices his opinions on the various characters that he must recreate, and his vision can be found in the evocation of the 1950's era. It was, after all, his choice to shoot "Ed Wood" in black-and-white. Good call, Tim. I couldn't picture the thing working so well with color photography. If you really want to capture a historical period on cinematic terms, shoot with an understanding for the times. Burton, an intelligent and creative filmmaker, knew what he had to do; and he did it. But at the same time, he seems to be dealing with themes here that really hit close to home for him. As far as the whole biopic thing goes, he's less concerned about accuracy and more about the thematic elements. This is a film of themes, motives, morals, emotions; not facts. Those who actually knew any of the characters in real-life might think differently of the film than those who haven't, but they are a few and far between.

Now with that out of the way, you can enjoy some of 1994's finest performances. Depp is sensational the titular failed filmmaker Ed Wood; making you care for him throughout, if only because he is a nice and decent man but completely unable to surpass the level of "utter shit" when it comes to his own directorial features. And then there is Landau, who deserves praise not only for channeling the Hungarian accent of Lugosi, but also the visual representation (impressive prosthetic make-up work ensures this). Wood and Lugosi seemed like they really had a thing going between the two of them; and the encounter that they had in the street that fateful day changed the lives of both men forever. Wood found an inspiration and an outlet, Lugosi found a true friend and a guardian. This is the kind of film that surely inspires people; to make movies, that is. By evading the obvious decision to mock Edward D. Wood like most probably would have, Burton instead celebrates what he did for cinema; he gave bad movies a beating heart. You can look at all the bad movies that are still being made today, and they lack this element. Give me a heart over a soulless drag through endless CGI action set pieces any day. Therein lies the appeal of the man and the film. Maybe all you need to make a movie is ambition, if not skill. In that sense, Eddie was kind of lucky.]]> Thu, 31 May 2012 20:08:10 +0000
<![CDATA[ Fight Club: Post-Modern Castration Paranoia]]> NOTE: This was formatted for my blog, so just in case you plan to waste your time reading(as in the pictures and spacing won't be correctly placed) , follow the link :

"I am Jack's Raging Bile Duct."
Post-Modern Castration Paranoia

The 1999 film Fight Club is about..? Well what is Fight Club, here I am sitting on my sofa expecting a 2 hour blood fest of men beating one another within an inch of their life, yet I am served a cold, sardonic pitch upon ‘us’ - the consumer. Years ago, David Fincher served this oddity of a film to the mainstream audiences – ironically our beloved consumers and the impression left was not of the common film; controversy had spread for the films exploitation of filming style, often unconventional narrative structure and most importantly, the films ‘violent’ themes. Perhaps the most self-destructive effect Fight Club caused upon itself was the surprise audiences were given, not because of the films dark undertone, but the lack of violence and predictable plot; audiences were exposed to a film countering their original predictions with an insulting film, criticising the audience for their own admission. Now as time goes by, Fight Club reaches cult status, not necessarily just for its rich subtext, but its kickass approach which makes this film, for the lack of a better word, cool. We’re given a cool experiences which has created what many believe to be a guilty pleasure in filmmaking, garnishing the award for "50 Best Guy Movies of All Time”, perhaps the magazine itself doesn’t realize the misogynistic themes, insulting men’s lack of masculinity of the modern age often because of women and the removal of their endowments. Fight Club’s multiple subplots and themes, ask the viewer to see pass the surface, dealing with consumerism, emasculation and anarchy.  So let’s fall into the rabbit hole, which is Fight Club.


We begin with our protagonist, nameless – often referred to as Jack. Jack suffers insomnia from his modern lifestyle. The lifestyle he lives gives him very little reward for his boredom of an office job, requiring he endanger the lives of thousands (maybe millions) of people’s lives. Unhappy with his life in an office and buried in the IKEA catalogues; he searches for medical help, only to be denied help and mocked by a mocking doctor. Searching for a cure, Jack finds liberty in support groups for people with diseases. When he discovers crying at these groups results in his loss of insomnia, he becomes addicted because people “really listen”.

  Soon the introduction of a fellow female liar makes him seek other outlets of his suppressed emotions.  After meeting a ‘single-serving-friend’ on an airplane – Tyler Durden, a man who is the complete opposite of himself, strong, cynical and outspoken - Jack returns to find his condo has caught fire, as well as all of his possessions. From here, Jack moves in with Tyler, creating a Fight Club, for middle-aged men to express their oppressed masculinity.  Soon though, their ‘support group’ spirals out of control into an anarchist group – Project Mayhem. The group then spread anarchy throughout the cities of America, becoming a powerfully organised terrorist group. It is here when Jack confronts Tyler, discovering that Tyler is himself. Tyler was an alter ego created, so Jack could cope with his fears and depression. From here, he attempts to stop Project Mayhem, but only failing, resulting in the destruction of America’s credit companies.


So who is our humble narrator? Edward Norton plays what is only credited as ‘Narrator’. There has been large deliberation on what his actual name is, although some conclusions can be drawn in the novel (1), the film is a lot more complex in our protagonist’s identity. In addition, the mere existence of Tyler is a complex one, for it is questionable how many things occur throughout the film. First of all, the name of the Narrator is a debatable one. Never is the name revealed in the film or book, only speculation can be made upon it. Our protagonist is a living MacGuffin, to clear the air; Jack is not his real name. Jack is a way for the Narrator to describe himself. The only other possible known name is Tyler Durden. At one point it can be confirmed his name is Tyler, when he calls Marla asking her what his name was, she answers Tyler Durden. However, just because she knew him as Tyler does not mean that he had not created this identity by himself, and later grew it into an alter ego. Jack had used many fake names at his support groups, Cornelius for testicular cancer, perhaps Tyler is for Fight Club. In fact, numerous times throughout the film it is specifically said that he is not Tyler, but simply becoming what he had created. Tyler is an improved vision of himself, as he continues he becomes that vision.

“I am free in all the ways that you are not. People do it every day: they talk to themselves; they see themselves, as they'd like to be. Nevertheless, they don't have the courage you have, to just run with it. Naturally, you're still wrestling with it a bit, so sometimes, you're still you. Other times, you imagine yourself watching me. Little by little, you're just letting yourself become...Tyler Durden."

Such examples illustrate the slow transformation into another identity. The transformation itself is a long process taking “Jack” over a year to complete. Jack does not suffer insomnia contrary to his belief, but narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is the constant fatigue he suffers from his ‘insomnia’. However, Jack never has insomnia, instead he spends his nights as Tyler – working night jobs at the Pressman Hotel and as a projectionist, and most importantly making soap. All of ‘Tyler’s activities’ takes place while Jack is supposedly not asleep. “What about narcolepsy? I nod off, I wake up in strange places, I have no idea how I got there.” It is shortly after this when Tyler Durden begins to become an image, slowly integrating into Jack’s mind with short flashes leading up to their meeting. (4)  

Tyler’s lack of existence is obvious throughout the film (although these clues are not obvious until multiple viewings). There is a clever use of Pitt’s character throughout, some examples are:
One: When Jack and Tyler both go onto the bus, Jack only pays a fare for himself. As well as that, when a man walks past, bumping both Jack and Tyler, the man only apologises to Jack.
Two: Often Tyler will speak for Jack, and Jack will repeat himself, without the third party noticing Tyler. During the hospital scene, Tyler tells Jack exactly what to say, and Jack repeats himself. Furthermore, while at the Paper St. Residence Marla and Jack speak, but Jack is disrupted by the sounds of construction in the basement, which Marla cannot hear. Again, in this scene he is told what to say to the third party – Marla. 
Three: Jack attempts to call Tyler with no answer. Although, Tyler shortly calls him at the same pay phone he just tried to contact him. Tyler says he never answers his phone and he used ’69 to call him back. However, later the Paper St. Residence is revealed to have only rotary phones, which would not be capable of redialling, therefore, Jack had imagined the entire phone call. Later when Jack and Tyler finish drinking at the bar and go home, Jack asks where his car is, Tyler then replies, “What car?” It is then questionable how Tyler managed to get to a bar from such an isolated area – Paper St. 
Four: When Tyler finishes having sex with Marla, he opens the door to Jack who was ‘passing by’ and talks with him. Once Jack leaves Marla asks who he was talking to, since there was only two people in the house, this meant Tyler must have been talking to himself, or Jack was talking to himself.
Five: When Tyler (who is driving) purposely crashes the car, while recovering Tyler pulls Jack out of the driver’s seat, implying Jack had been driving the whole time.      
According to David Fincher, "We're designed to be hunters and we're in a society of shopping. There's nothing to kill anymore, there's nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman is created."
Feminism is not a detrimental on society (although the film may say otherwise). Feminism in the latest decades has been highly successful in ‘Western Societies’ (I have a personal dislike for this phrase). It has lead to the equilibrium of sexes. Since feminism, many other minorities and groups of social change have arisen, debatably shaping the world into a better place. However, Fight Club’s message is not necessarily that all this is a bad revolution, but it is being done to the point of reversing the problem, this time suppressing men; or alternatively, Fight Club mat very well show that equilibrium is an impossible feet. Of course at the present woman are not as powerful as men in previous ancient societies, but the beginning of this process is leaving men more damaged than ever before. The emasculation of men in society is not only taking the previous tasks that were once theirs, but also taking away the primal instinct of superiority. (2)
It can be easily seen that males are made to be a superior sex. Males generally are physically superior and evidentially more inventive – although it’s debatable whether women were given the opportunity to make inventive and creative contributions to our societies. Perhaps the most powerful theme throughout Fight Club is not the irregularity of men assimilating to an equal level with women, but whether it’s possible. In almost all (if not all) societies of past and present have seen men superior. The ‘hunter-gather’ lifestyle saw men the most important and physically powerful sex. What Fight Club asks is whether it is possible to ever fully lose this instinct of ‘hunter-gather’, whether it is possible for men to ever truly become equal – or if woman will abuse their latest increase in power. If men were one day capable of removing the shackles of primal instinct, at what cost would it be? Will assimilation conclude in ultimate depression and self-loathing?            
It would be pure denial to say Fight Club is not a misogynistic film. The film screams of fear for the future of the male sex, predominantly at the latest ill attempt to reach equilibrium among the sexes – feminism. The fear manages to effectively mask any other theme of the film, by using hidden subtext, or obvious signs. Jack’s condo and ‘IKEA lifestyle’ is the essential emasculation of our protagonist, quibbling over the fine details which would only gain attention of women in the pre-60’s. 
"Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee table in the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogues and wonder, "What kind of dining set defines me as a person?" We used to read pornography. Now it was the Horchow Collection. I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of wherever."
Our nameless protagonist (referred as his own third-person description of him - Jack) is not the quintessential heroic, rustic man known to a previous lifestyle. In the eye’s of Tyler Durden, Jack is whinging little man, engrossed in the superficial world of consumerism and emasculation. Self-described Jack falls into the ‘nesting instinct’, miserable in the conventions of modern society’s plan – equality. Jack is the model citizen, living to empty his wallet and die, "On a long enough timeline, the survival
rate for everyone drops to zero." At times Jack is shown wanting to be a women. Ever so sarcastically, we are given the obvious hints, "I want bowel cancer!"
The crippling disease is demonstrated in Jack’s zombie-like state of self-loathing lethargy. Jack’s miserable attitude is caused mainly by his work, often requiring him to rest on a lovely airplane seat. Physically Jack deteriorates with his inactive lifestyle, and the crippling insomnia. As an insomniac, he searches for the miniscule excitement that is his impulse spending, rewarded with almost no sleep. With no excitement or rest, Jack’s life becomes a slow debilitating death, not only physically, but also to his morale’s. Despite all his problems, he is not a wreck of a person, but a perfect person, "I am Jack's complete lack of surprise". Jack’s lack of existence leaves him as a boring person. Perhaps one of the many reasons for this film’s unpopularity too many is their narrator is a soulless bore spewing words of self-pity. Jack is non-existent to the point of having no name, credited only as ‘Narrator’. It is for these reasons why Jack has Tyler, to support himself and bring out his own primal instinct of masculinity and impulse. For another alternative, Jack escaped his miserable state in various support groups. During the support groups, he was able to release his built up sadness and cry. Although his reliance on these support groups was a gapping weakness, it freed him mentally.
Of course, Jack’s temporary enlightenment is put to an end, and you guessed it by a woman. As soon as Jack begun to escape his entrapment of consumerism and gain some of his primal manhood, a woman goes for a kick in the balls and throws him back into the even more pathetic state he originated. In this early stage of the film, there are two major allegories,
Our macho primeval. One: The main support group shown throughout the film is the support for testicular cancer. Here Jack meets Bob, "Bob, Bob had bitch tits." This is our introduction to the support group and semi-important character, Bob (Meatloaf). Already in the line above, our Jack uses a womanly insult ‘bitch’ to describe his now womanly assets – large male boobs. Upon that, Robert ‘Bob’ Pulson has a very soft, high-pitched voice, resembling a woman’s. He also has a very kind nature about himself and no balls; Bob is the trigger for Jack to cry. Much like the rest of the film’s metaphorical motifs, Bob is the example of a man hitting rock bottom. He had previously been a body builder, a profession that screams machismo, yet due to the modern use of steroids, becomes the womanly figure he is now. It is at this point, where the small manliness retained is destroyed by a womanly figure, causing Jack to cry and lose his composed self. The rest of the group is no better of an influence, for none of them have their testicles anymore. We hear a story of man, brought to crying because of his ex-wife. The support group itself is a pool of fear of women, and the slow transition to becoming one. Jack’s reliance on groups of this general nature of weakness reflects his own emotional stability. For Jack to free himself of the constant pressure of his ideal modern life, he must further degrade himself, asking for help he does not even need, "And then... something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion - dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom."
Two: Marla Singer, our one and only real female character. "If I did have a tumour, I would name it Marla. Marla, the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you would stop tonguing it, but you can't." Marla’s entrance into the support groups (and introduction to the film) results in the ultimate hatred of our humbly broken narrator. Marla is represented as a pest, infecting Jack’s Zen with her mutual lies and constant smoking. Marla lives in poverty dresses darkly and is portrayed as an antagonist. Although she is no out spoken feminist (the enemy), she is the essentially the final straw of Jack’s sanity (or insanity?) leading to the creation of Tyler Durden.
To conclude, Fight Club’s message is not of hatred towards the female sex, but fear for the ‘Westernised’ males. Through capitalism and social revolutions, attempting totally equality has changed the primal role of a male. Our film suggests that this is perhaps impossible to ever achieve in a healthy manner. The broken Jack manifests his emotions until he reaches insanity – or potential enlightenment – forcing himself to create what he wishes he could be. This idol he creates himself is a force of inspirations, resurrections and jealousy, which extends to not only Jack, but also huge groups of men wanting to break free of their modern lifestyle, "Our generation has had no Great Depression, no Great War. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives."  Fight Club is ultimately, what Tyler Durden is fighting for, the freedom of men, destructions of corporations and business, and the revival of the ‘hunter-gather’ customs.
According to Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud, the human psyche contains three main driving forces for our actions and desires. (5) Although rather complex, in short these three are what drives us to carry out what we desire - the Id, Ego and Superego. In Freud’s theory, we are all born with an id. The id is responsible for our basic desires, essential for infancy. Freud believes the id is responsible for our pleasure. To summarise, the id will want what is required at the specific moment, caring for no variables of the certain situation. When an infant is thirsty, the id wants water, thereby resulting in the newborn crying, regardless of whether water can be provided or the situation is appropriate for crying. The id can be describe as selfish as it cares not for anything else then satisfying its current desire. Therefore, the baby wanting water will cry until water is provided, the newborn doesn’t care for time, or if its parents are preoccupied or unable to satisfy the newborn, it will still demand water despite impracticality.
Our (and Jack's ) Psyche.
Freud believes that as a child further develops (age of 3) the ego will develop. The ego, theoretically takes into account the practicality of the id’s desire. The ego understands and analyses variables. The ego ultimately satisfies the id’s desires while taking into account other desires and the fallout its own.  
At the age of five, it is said we develop the final drive, the superego. The superego develops as societal customs and restraints influence the child. The superego is the moralistic aspect of a person, taking into account normative of society.  On whole, the id is responsible for our most primitive desires, taking in no consideration of potential hazards or impracticability. The ego controls the id with reason, and associates the superego, surpassing just logic to cultural preferences. The id is the aggressive and sexual desires, controlled only by modern civilisation’s customs, Freud stated:
 "Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him."
Jack’s creation of Tyler and ‘change’ into him is explainable by the extreme differences in the superego. Jack had been raised in beliefs positive to consumerism. As the Freud theory surfaced, it was used by business to exploit the id’s desire, replacing id’s original desires (aggression and sexual) with the product being sold. Jack’s altered id was responsible for his desire to fill his void will products, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” With the id effectively buried under the control of advertisers, his environment easily influences the superego. Jack’s superego, or ideology leads him to believe his current life of depression and boredom is the typical ladder to stardom and wealth. The path he takes is what he is raised to attempt, fuelling consumerism. Tyler is the polar opposite to Jack; Tyler’s superego is the same as his id’s desires. Tyler’s superego is as primitive as the id, being our desires without the account of potential hazard or fallout. Therefore, Tyler’s ideology is pure to his ancestors design in thought, like in Freud’s statement; Tyler’s desires are violent and sexual. However, Tyler himself does not directly circum to primitive thinking without thought; Tyler develops a divine plan to do what he believes is correct and essential for the survival of civilisation, which is to restore our original ids – by returning to the dark ages. Of course, Jack’s superego and suppressed id does not agree with Tyler’s pure ideology, resulting in the creation of an alter ego – ego being the balance between the id and superego, with the conflicting beliefs and loss of balance, another ego must be created to support the psychological stress.
Fight Club’s intention was for the viewer to realise the change of nature and ‘controlled’ ids in our post-modern society. After the turn of World War Two, the “middle children of history” were bombarded with latest societal trend: 
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. we've all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
Aggressive tactics.  Tyler’s philosophy is the alter ego of Jack, conflicting with his original ego. His rebellion stems from his id, defying the damage that has been done to him by society’s fast-paced consumerism. Tyler’s desire is to return to ‘the beginning’. This involves anarchism to counter modern technologies. Tyler’s specific policy on government is never revealed. Capitalism is the opposition of Tyler. Capitalism is responsible for the surge of business and freedom to own and sell assets, resulting in the growth of consumerism. In this case, Marxism is the obvious approach as a direct retaliation to Capitalism, highly influenced by the Cold War. Tyler does use some Marxism for the sense of equality, but in the very same time includes Fascism and Anarchy. "You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else." Here Tyler’s words stay true to the sense of Marxism of ‘equality’ of all, but in at the very same time uses Fascist techniques to gain control. Through series of brainwashing and intense conditioning, Tyler exploits the men’s weaknesses to gain full control. Fight Club and Project Mayhem are strictly for men only. Remembering the insecurities of post-modern men, Tyler offers the outlet for desperate men, thereby exploiting their desires – Tyler does this by appealing to their suppressed ids. Furthermore, although Marxism and Fascism is used for control and some ideology, anarchy is the ultimate tool of execution. Project Mayhem gains influences by committing acts of vandalism, often seeming random and for the sake of ‘slowing progress’. However, beyond mere execution using anarchy, Tyler’s final wish on society could quite possibly be Anarchism – returning to the dark ages. In Tyler’s vision he speaks of roaming through ruins of cities, hunting wild animals are all signs of the vision of our now obsolete primeval lifestyles (in most parts of the world).  
The infamous pink soap, like many other aspects of the film, is a symbol itself. Throughout Fight Club, pink soap is often just ‘around’. The soap proves that not a single frame was wasted in this film, but everything shown has some level of subtext. The soap happens to be one of the most important motifs. When asked what he does for a living, Tyler identifies himself as a soap manufacturer, ignoring his other jobs as a projectionist and waiter at the prestigious Pressman Hotel. Soaps significance plays a crucial role, as Tyler states soap is, the foundation of civilization”. First, soap is used for the productions of nitro-glycerine, resulting in the explosives used for Tyler’s ultimate plan; with this comes to explosives used to destroy Jack’s apartment, which symbolises the beginning of Jack’s new life, “the first soap was made from the ashes of heroes”. Therefore, soap as Tyler describes is the root and foundation of society, and especially in this case, the actions leading to Jack’s anarchist regime: purification, cleanliness and enlightenment. Furthermore, soap is also a drive for their plans. In order to make soap, the two (one) must steal fat from a liposuction clinic; thus, kick starting the chain of vandalism and anarchy. The ‘soap’ is made into either explosives; or the fat created into soap for “selling rich women their own fat asses”. Beyond the sense of purifying the negative effects of post-modern society, in the department store its shown as higher class. Tyler and Jack selling women their ‘own fat asses’ shows a contempt for the higher class, placing Jack in a lower level. Therefore, soap is seen as form of purification and drive for Project Mayhem and differences in people by financial classes.
Upon our final scene, we are given a message. 3 minutes. This is it. Here we are at the beginning. Ground zero. Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion?” (soon followed by the humorous remark, ‘flashback humour’.) It is this part of the movie, where it asks something of the viewer. The ‘ground zero’ remark brings up the thought of a beginning, asking men to understand the message and take action. Whether Fight Club intended for direct copycats on the film’s Project mayhem, or just for awareness to their consumerist lifestyle, we are asked to take some action.   
Fight Club’s overruling message has unfortunately been heard upon deaf ears. Its status as a Cult Film insists that only a select group truly understand what the film attempted to voice. It’s unfortunate that many have accepted Fight Club’s oddity as entertainment. Entertainment value of the film is quite powerful; although too many let the title itself discourage, many assume it’s a simple film about violence. And to be fair, Fight Club without its deep subtext is a whole bunch of seemingly random, far-fetched events, and this is how many see the film. Howard Hampton comments:
“. . . Fight Club generated no noticeably baleful side effects whatsoever. Are left-wing critics and right-wing politicians the only ones left who believe in the potency of "transgression"? What is the world coming to when a movie featuring charismatic performers revealing in anti-social behaviour and a host of semi-subliminal advertisements for the joys of chaos can't incite a single unbalanced loner to commit a kamikaze act of homage?”
Overall, Fight Club beckons many questions and ideology without ever fully creating awareness beyond a selective group. Fight Club takes on many challenging issues, expressing the fear post-modern society will have upon men. Although the film may not be anti-feminist, it does question whether it will be possible for men to ever adjust as society expects them. Through Capitalism, Consumerism and equilibrium we are denying our id’s desires to be met. Is it possible to deny our primeval drives and essentially evolve, or will our modernisation result in the deterioration of our sanity due to abnormal stress? Fight Club’s answer to this problem is to return to a simpler time, a time where primeval instinct ruled supreme. This may be our only options to retain not only our species sanity and survival, but the preservation of our future.      


(1)I have not read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, this writing is solely directed to the film; otherwise it may become a comparison. Therefore, any conclusions drawn are from the film only, even though it may contradict information in the novella.
(2)Any beliefs throughout the film may not be of my own thoughts and beliefs, although I will be writing what the film believes creating a biased style, I may at times put in my own opinions.
(3)Jack is not the real name of the protagonist; it is just a fake name replacing ‘Narrator’ (as it is credited). This originates from use of the phrase by the character himself, which he found in old medical books, “I am Jack’s cold sweat”.
(4) [Pictures of Tyler Durden]
(5) [Picture of Sigmund Freud’s chart],-Consumer-Psychology,-and-Redemption&id=905360

]]> Sun, 25 Dec 2011 15:23:32 +0000
<![CDATA[ The scary truth of all filmmakers...]]> "Honey, what if I'm wrong? What if I just don't got it?" 
"Ed, it was only one review." 
"Orson Welles was only 26 when he made Citizen Kane. I'm already 30." 
"Ed, you're still young. This is the time in your life when you're supposed to be struggling." 
"I know. But I'm scared it's not going to get any better than this." 

"Burton's faithfulness and Depp's striking performance makes this biography a terribly sad film, for success that's never met, with a side of hatred and mockery as a legacy." 
I've never had a film that told me to kick myself in the balls before, until I saw Tim Burton's Ed Wood. I, like many people watched Citizen Kane for the first time, and after feeling underwhelmed at 'the best' film ever, I decided to go the other way and watch 'the worst'. With my endeavour I watched Plan 9 From Outer Space and whole bunch of films from the infamous Edward D. Wood Jr. Of course, like most the world, we all laughed and enjoyed the absurdity of his films - full of countless mistakes so obvious I'm not sure how post-production didn't die of laughter, and pretty much anything else that could go wrong with a movie, did. Although I don't believe Ed Wood's films are 'the worst', and he didn't merit the Golden Turkey for 'Worst Director of All Time', he certainly fits a template of public demand, ridiculously entertaining. Anyway, back to the kicking of my balls, which I intrigued you with earlier, Ed Wood is sad! I wouldn't compare Ed Wood to the likes of Kramer vs. Kramer- in the sense of tear jerking. However, Ed Wood may not bring you to tears, it does make you question your own self-worth, especially if your aspiring into the film industry like little naive me. What this film tells is the unfortunate tale of a director (which we can all relate in some degree) just never making it, and leaving a terribly humiliating legacy, and to see Johnny Depp's smile after the biggest rejection of what he tried so hard, I just want to kick my own balls for ever mocking his films. 

It's a fairly truthful biography, although not perfectly accurate, it follows the general idea. Edward D. Wood Jr. - a man born with one of the coolest names ever, continues his life ambitions to become a director, following the footsteps of his idol, Orson Welles. Through pristine black and white, we are served a comical and often strikingly accurate portrayal of the infamous director. Although much of the details are fiction, you get a very satisfying feeling while the film 'nit-picks' the mistakes of Plan 9 (among others), and even re-enact them perfectly. With that said, I never had the urge to wander off and play Tetris like I usually do, there I was, three in the morning, thoroughly entertained and laughing. 

The performances and plot are made for each other, the relationship between the two are best describable as covering your body in butter, then sliding down a giant pile of butter - smooth. What makes Ed Wood such a fun and enjoyable film is the entertaining, yet faithful plot, and the comical performances. Johnny Depp is perhaps one of the most enjoyable actors ever; with every role, he emits an energetic burst of excitement. In this particular role, he has a painful optimism, which makes me just want to drown him with money in the hope he can make something good! Depp fills the shows of a legend in filmmaking, and adds dynamic of sympathy, which previously never occurred to people, but now Plan 9 brings me closer to weeping than laughing. 

Let the towns people celebrate in Tim's latest contribution to the world. Burton, directing or not, has always brought a gothic aesthetic to all his works. Burton has always had what I would call reliable work, and to some degree always making entertaining films, despite their quality. Although Burton never seemed to quite make his masterpiece, he's perhaps been close (not necessarily directing), and Ed Wood is his success, however, I do feel he could maybe make a larger impact. As far asEd Wood goes, its brilliantly directed, and adds to its overall, likeableness. 

Overall, like butter on butter, with some extra butter, Ed Wood is smooth, it's a film of extreme likability and quality. Burton's faithfulness and Depp's striking performance makes this biography a terribly sad film, for success that's never met, with a side of hatred and mockery as a legacy. I think Ed Wood's greatest achievement is to not only tell a quality story, but to send a fear into any aspiring filmmaker, that you may one day fail, go into porn and be known as 'the worst'. 

Comments/votes preferred on RT, but My Blog:]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2011 15:59:44 +0000
<![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> Mon, 13 Jun 2011 21:32:42 +0000 <![CDATA[I Love You Phillip Morris Quick Tip by devora]]> Tue, 31 May 2011 16:50:45 +0000 <![CDATA[ One of the best rolls I've seen Jim Carey in by far!!!!]]> This movie stars Jim Carey as Steven Russell, a cop living in Georgia, who after a life-changing event realizes he’s gay and begins to live his life that way. He is a married man with a child, so instead of telling his wife, he moves them to Texas and begins to live on the D.L., but not for long.

 He goes from a law-abiding citizen to a con man which eventually lands him in jail where he meets the love of his life, Phillip Morris, played by Ewan McGregor.

Although he’s a con man, I found myself rooting for them the entire movie because their love for each other was so genuine. I mean he broke out of jail multiple times just to be with his love.

When I researched the real Steven Russell, I read that he has an IQ of 163, which if you see or already saw the movie, it’s believable. This man escaped from prison so many times, he’s been giving the knick name of Houdini and King Con.

I won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but I will say the last time he got caught he was given a 144 year sentence and his time wouldn’t be fully served until July 12, 2140, according to Wikipedia. So you can pretty much say he’s in jail for life. He is currently 53 years old.

The movie, although it’s based on a real person, is hilarious and one of the boldest roles I’ve ever seen Jim Carey play. I give him two thumbs way up!!!

]]> Fri, 6 May 2011 17:07:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ Sweet, funny, and well-acted film crafted by superb craftsman.]]>
What makes "I Love You Phillip Morris" a special 2010 release is not its nigh consistent sense of humor, not only the taut performances, and not only the smart script; but also the heart that this film has, and it's bigger than that of most movies I've seen recently. Few movies have hearts at all, which doesn't surprise me, because money-grabbing cinema cannot have a heart, much less should it be called "cinema". Anyways, I must get back to this review. There are moments of pure delight, sorrow, and enjoyment to be found in this little movie, if you find the material that these filmmakers are working with to be interesting. If you do not, and chances are you won't complain too much, then "I Love You Phillip Morris" is not for you.

Writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa adapted the script from a true story, which was literally the tale of a man who turned gay, and turned into a con-man to pay for his expensive life-style. Went to jail, fell in love; will do anything to stay with that man whom he fancies.

However, the story has its turning points. The con-man, Steven Russell, and his lover, Phillip Morris, are not quite on the same level of knowledge. Phillip does not know of Steven's "other life", as a con-man and an artist of theft, and Steven keeps these secrets hidden deep down for a while. The film advertises the story as being one that is "so incredible, it could only be true". Well, I'll be damned; this thing works.

These are talented writers and filmmakers working here. Ficarra and Requa directed and wrote this adaptation using their past writing knowledge, yet this is their first directorial outing. I do hope that it's not their last, because this film is full of filmmaking and screenwriting energy. It works on so many levels, that I find very little to complain about. Oh, and if you must know, Ficarra and Requa wrote "Bad Santa". They also wrote "Cats and Dogs". I guess they have multiple (writing) personalities.

I do enjoy Jim Carrey when he's not over-the-top goofy and looking for a big fat wad of cash to appear on his desk. He's not a "money-grabbing actor", so to speak, and he's had his share of goodness. Steven Russell is his best character role since Joel from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Jim Carrey nails the role and wrestles its challenge to the very end. Then there is the always delightful Ewen McGregor, who delivers just the right amount of sentimentality and sweetness into his role. He does not simply add these ingredients; he injects them.

This film is a strong recommendation because it is funny, smart, and knows what it's doing and where it will be heading. Here is another film that proves a good amount of our suspicions, about Jim Carrey, to be wrong. I wouldn't be in the minority when I suspect that Jim Carrey would rudely satirize the gay male in such a role, although what he does here is make us laugh, and make us sympathize, without exploiting the character in a crass, rude, or crude way. It's quite admirable, and respectable, actually. These films should by all means be made, although few are quite like this one. I recommend it to just about anyone reading. It has good intentions, good spirit, and good humor scattered throughout its often deceptive frames. It's all done in the name of love.]]> Sun, 1 May 2011 17:35:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ I Don't Love You, Phillip Morris]]> Written and Directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra
Starring Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann
Phillip Morris: Enough romance. Let’s fuck.
I suppose it is fitting that a movie about a man who never quite grasps who he truly is should suffer from the same issues. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS is a rather ridiculous account of the life of Steven Jay Russell, an American con man with an uncanny ability to break out of prisons. On one of his fateful visits to the big house, he met the love of his life, Phillip Morris, and proceeded to break them both out of prison so that they could live happily ever after. His story has it all, from dangerous escapes to fraudulent scams to even gay prison sex but yet somehow, in the hands of writing/directing team, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (CATS & DOGS), his life amounts to nothing more than a big old boring mess.
Russell was adopted as a baby. He grew up to become a police officer in a small town. He married and had children. He felt abandoned but aside from that gaping hole in his heart, he was content. He was at least until one day, when he got into an automobile accident and decided he had enough of living a lie. It was time for Russell to live as an out and proud homosexual. He divorced, moved to Miami and got himself a cute, younger boyfriend and, if you are to believe the incredibly tacky clichéd picture the directors paint, he also got too matching miniature dogs to parade up and down the street with said younger, cuter boyfriend. There was just one tiny problem; being gay is expensive and Russell had no skills that could afford him the lavish lifestyle he and his boy toy had grown accustomed to.
This is when Russell turned to insurance fraud. It is also the point where the film starts to get thoroughly lost. Russell is played by Jim Carrey, who is the first person who comes to my mind when I picture believable gay men strutting down Miami Beach in white cargos and a T-shirt that is two sizes too small. I guess the costume people wanted to make sure there was no confusion over his sexuality, just in case it wasn’t coming through in the performance. I personally think Carrey doesn’t get the credit he deserves for some of his dramatic turns but the trouble here is he can’t seem to decide whether this particular turn is meant to be dramatic or comedic. I’m sure he had no assistance from his directors mind you. There are some genuine attempts at touching moments in the film and Carrey handles them as well as he can but then the next scene will rely solely on Carrey’s humorous side, only without the actual humour.
And what of Phillip Morris? I mean, he is in the title and all. Phillip Morris is another minor offender doing time, played by Ewan McGregor, who is as swishy as he can be with his pretty blue eyes and horrifically dyed strawberry blond hair. The twosome meet in a library one day and it is love at first sight. Well, they stare longingly into each other’s eyes for no reason other than the fact that they are gay and standing next to each other so naturally I assume this is the great love it is meant to be. Once together, I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS doesn’t seem to know what to do with them or itself. Is it a comedy or a serious romance? Is this really the treatment of someone’s life story? Because if it is, it plays as though it were completely made up or implausible. More importantly, is the intended audience meant to be gay or straight? It shouldn’t matter but there are moments when it isn’t clear whether the filmmakers are laughing with or at their heroes. To that extent though, I guess it doesn’t matter who the audience is meant to be as I don’t see there being much of an audience for this film at all.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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<![CDATA[ Among the stars]]> Tue, 5 Apr 2011 16:17:16 +0000 <![CDATA[ Among the stars]]> Tue, 5 Apr 2011 16:17:16 +0000 <![CDATA[ I Love You Phillip Morris]]>
I Love You Phillip Morris is a sweet, touching, funny, and incredibly powerful comedy/drama about Steven Russell (Carrey), a typical church-going southern man, happily married to a wife and with a young daughter. We soon discover he only joined the police force to find his biological mother, who spurns him and he promptly quits. It takes a car accident for him to figure out that he shouldn't hide who he is anymore. He promptly comes out to his wife and moves to Florida to live the stereotypical gay lifestyle that he's always dreamed of. He soon realizes that the lifestyle was very expensive and he had to commit all sorts of frauds to keep that up.

He soon lands in prison where he meets the titular Phillip Morris (McGregor) a charming, sweet, handsome man that he promptly falls in love with him. They write eachother for months while they were in separate divisions of the prison and they both get released and are free to be together. Their journey towards love is a bit tumultuous however, as Steven does whatever he can to make Phillip happy and have him lead a happy life. Unfortunately that lands both him and Phillip back in prison and Phillip is now very pissed at Steven. However, it takes drastic measures for Steven to prove that he still loves Phillip and for Phillip to love him back.

I had never heard much about the real-life story of Steven Russell and Phillip Morris, but this movie makes the true story look fascinating and I may investigate it further. The facts may or may not be true, but the film maintains its sweet, romantic, funny tone throughout its running time. If you're looking for a hilarious film, then you are going to be disappointed. If you're looking for an interesting story about two men deeply in love with eachother, then you won't be disappointed. Some of you may think that a 90 is too high, but you see the movie and say it doesn't deserve it.

The film features three wonderful performances. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor are the couple at the focus of the movie, and they both give some of the finest performances of their careers. This proves once again that Jim Carrey can dial down the goofy and give great powerful performances that makes him one of my all-time favourite actors. Ewan McGregor did a wonderful job playing the sweet-natured Phillip Morris and they had wonderful chemistry as a couple. There was also Leslie Mann as Steven's kind ex-wife Debbie.

I don't have much else to say about this movie other than it is one of my new favourites. Great performances, great drama, and all in all a great movie. I would recommend this in general, unless you have more conservative views on homosexuality and I would recommend this if you liked Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or The Truman Show. Just simply a fantastic film and again, one of my new favourites of all time.]]> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 00:44:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ 3 stars: Stare into the bright eyes of adventure]]>  

You have heard stories like this before, stories of far away lands, magical kingdoms, strange creatures, dashing princes and beautiful princesses but this however is not a story that you have heard before. This is not a story of a dashing prince who sets out on a quest to save the beautiful princess from some kind of unspeakable evil. This is instead a story of a young peasant boy who out of love dares to cross from the human realm into the realm that all fantasies are made of a world full of magical creatures, not so dashing princes, evil witches, and flying pirates. Jump head first into the magical fantastical world of genius writer Neil Gaiman jump into the magic, the adventure, the romance; jump into the world of Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" a world where adventure and romance are as bright as the stars are numerous.

"Stardust" has all the typical trappings of your standard order fantasy/romance/adventure it has the hero who at the beginning is shy meek and really feels out of place in the world around him, throw in the typical conundrum of a princess under a spell or in this case a magical fallen star(played wonderfully by Claire Danes). An evil witch queen (in this case a deliciously evil Michelle Pfeiffer) a few other people who are either looking for what our hero seeks. The only reason "Stardust" succeeds at all is mainly due to the fine performances from its stellar cast especially Robert DeNiro as a not so tough flying pirate, Michelle Pfeiffer as the evil witch queen, Claire Danes as the beautiful star(literally) and relative newcomer(at the time) Charlie Cox as the young hero Tristan. They are all uniformly excellent and are one of the main reasons this film works as well as it does despite the flaws and major lack of searing adventure. This film is a perfectly competent piece of filmmaking a work of art at its absolute finest Matthew Vaughn has created a fine film but this fantasy/adventure lacks the thrills, the sense of adventure the sense of excitement that its fantastical story should bring to the screen. Instead, "Stardust" settles for highly entertaining and beautifully lavish which in my book is not such a bad thing; but then again it is not such a good thing either. This could have been a fantastic fantasy film; it has all the trappings, great set pieces, amazing locals, and great performances that are very typical of this genre. It does not have whimsical nature expected from an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's work it lacks the humor, the style, and the grace that Gaiman brings to his works. Vaughn and Jane Goodman's screenplay lacks the wit, style and charm of the original 1998 novel but what it lacks in style and in charm it makes it up with fine romantic chemistry between the two leads that adds some much needed power to this impressive yet lackluster film. I liked "Stardust" I liked it allot I was very impressed with this films performances, set designs, gorgeous locals and occasional witty humor (sadly there was not enough of that). This film felt flat at times when you should be cheering for the hero to succeed at his quest to follow his heart and find true love and become the man that he had no idea he was. This is a great story wrapped up in a rather unimpressive film "Stardust" works as great entertainment but sadly, beyond that there is not much else to it, which is such a shame when it comes to fine filmmaking such as this. "Stardust" is beautiful and enchanting but its star never glows bright enough for others to see its beauty.

"Stardust" can easily be described as magical expect there is one flaw in that, there is very little magic to this film. All the magic it has comes from the rather strong chemistry from Cox and Danes as the hero and heroine of the story. The one thing that disappointed me the most is that I did not always feel emotionally invested in the story when I should be cheering for these two. I just sat there enjoying myself as the films story progressed which as I said before is not a bad thing, it is also not such a good thing either as it leaves you with a much more to be desired feeling. This is not a bad film on the other hand this is not a great film either this is a rather good film that had the potential to be so much more but only missed that chance by a hairs length. "Stardust" is stylish, charming, unevenly humorous and very romantic this is a high quality rainy day fantasy/adventure film that works so well and is so good that even though at some points you feel distant from this film and its characters. You never feel distant from the amazing world that Matthew Vaughn and his team of production designers have created. This could have been a fantastic instead, it settles for average too easy instead of shooting for the bright stars that linger in the sky.

I loved this film in many ways one in particular is the fine, fine performance from the young Charlie Cox as the hero Tristan Thorne I can not express enough at how much I enjoyed his performance. He is just so straightforward as Tristan that from the first moment that you meet him, you just love him and as his character grows, you grow with him coming to find a sense of respect and admiration for the young aspiring hero. Cox never falters for a minute he is always on the very top of his game and in terms of the talent on display in this film; Cox gives one of the finer performances. The only other actors in this film that can come close to matching Cox are the legendary Robert De Niro as the tough talking Captain Shakespeare and Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia the witch queen. Cox displays some serious talent and potential as a leading man he has the looks, the charm and the style in this lavish production he proves that he has the right stuff to be a damn fine actor. As for his leading lady Claire Danes I have less admiration for, now I freely admit that I do have a sort of a liking for Danes she has proven herself in many other films that she is a fine actress. For some reason in this film, I did not find her very appealing as the love interest to Cox's Tristan. Danes feels flat almost as if she is trying to hard to be funny or witty or good for that matter. She comes off (when you first meet her character) kind of smarmy and uninteresting. As the film progresses that feeling never goes away even when she starts to warm up to Tristan you don't buy the romance between the two even though they have great chemistry and look great together. The romance between them-as I said- feels forced at some points as if the director was trying to move the romance up to fit the pictures story. So as there story moves on the romance flourishes. You never feel invested in it much like Danes performance you like looking at her, you believe her as the character but you never really feel invested in it so as great as this film is. It is great in its own ways. The Danes/Cox romance fails to find its footing thereby almost causing this film to fall apart at the seams. However, thanks to strong performances from the supporting cast "Stardust" is able to shine bright enough to standout amongst the crowd. The rest of the cast including Peter O'Toole, Mark Strong, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, Rupert Everett, Ben Barnes, Sienna Miller, Jason Flemyng and Nathaniel Parker all turn in fantastic supporting performances in this beautiful fantasy adventure.

On a technical/production level, "Stardust" is phenomenal a true visually delight however, as a romance there lies the major kink in this films armor the kink that almost causes the film to be struck by a stray arrow. I know I have said some very damming things about this film but let me reassure you that "Stardust"-flaws and all- is one of the most enjoyable fantasy/adventure films you will ever see this is truly filmmaking at its finest and one of the best Neil Gaiman adaptations. "Stardust" may not be as bright and powerful as it could have been but for what it is this film is damn good although it could have been so much more than it is.

]]> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 02:10:55 +0000
<![CDATA[ Lightweight but lots of fun. Carrey & MacGregor are delightful!]]>
I believe he is IDEALLY cast because of that. It's true that Carrey is not a classically trained actor...he is just very good at faking emotion (lots of actors do that, of course). But think about one of his most acclaimed performances, as Andy Kaufmann in MAN ON THE MOON. Kaufmann was a cipher, a man who deliberately avoided showing his real self by faking one "public persona" after another until he had no real persona at all. Carrey was pitch perfect. In PHILLIP MORRIS, he plays a gay man who initially lives a lie of being straight. He also joins the police force, not because he wants to fight crime, but as an avenue to getting access to paperwork that will show him who is real mother is. (And when he finally meets her, she slams the door on him. He was the middle child, and he wants to know why she kept her first child and her third, but not him.)

Eventually, he amicably ends his marriage and perhaps over-compensates by living a lavish Key West lifestyle...flamboyantly gay. He funds this lifestyle elaborate con games. The way Carrey plays Russell, we're never sure if Russell is actually a little self-deluded and half believes the cons...or is he just so good at them because there's no real Steven Russell inside the body. This disconnect from reality allows Carrey to jump everywhere emotionally with great facileness but we also never know when or if what we're seeing is really what Steven Russell is feeling. I liked this. Does this man have any self-insight, or is he faking everything...even love?

For when he is sent to jail, he falls BIG TIME for a fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan MacGregor). The feeling is mutual...or is it. Certainly, Morris loves Russell. Does Russell really love Morris, or is he just fulfilled in some way by being loved, and thus will do anything to keep winning the approval. And does it matter? They both seem happy with each other.

Eventually, both are on the outside, and the question becomes, will Carrey go straight, or will his desire to keep Morris living in the lap of luxury drive him to further cons? The answer is not hard to guess, and where the film goes from there is too much fun for me to ruin now.

In reality, although based on a true story, the entire film lives at an exaggerated, slightly fake level. It's just so hard to believe Steven Russell did all the things the movie says he did. (Although apparently he did!). But it strikes such a rich tone that frankly the film is a blast from beginning to end. Russell has seemingly endless depths of trickery that he can go to...and Carrey plays the role with gusto. "Gusto" is a word I seldom trot out...but it is SO appropriate here. He's having a ball playing a guy having a ball. And MacGregor is a delight as Morris. He's filmed in such a way that he practically glows. He's slightly fey, slightly effeminate...but it never struck me as a caricature. We DO believe he loves Russell.

There are plenty of plot hi-jinks throughout the film...including one of the funniest and cleverest prison breaks since SHAWSHANK. It's certainly quite entertaining just at that level. But watching these two guys absolutely grab the screen is the enduring pleasure. And yes, there is plenty of relatively graphic smooching and sex in the film. I say "relatively" because if what we saw was between a man and a woman, we'd scarcely bat an eye. But because it's two men, some of the physicality is a bit surprising to see in a mainstream movie. Carrey & MacGregor play it with nary a wink or a hesitation...and thus their relationship has real spark. It's sexy and fun and romantic.

The film is too lightweight and frothy to really be great...but it is a wonderfully good time nonetheless, and should be enjoyed by any adult audience not afraid to see Carrey and MacGregor do some serious smooching.]]> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 00:09:48 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Conman Finds His Soul Mate]]>  
Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Russell is a delightful bag of contradictions. He’s funny but touching, exaggerated but believable, contemptible but justified, caring but manipulative. There are times when it seems like he’s thinking of no one other than himself, and there are other times when it’s clear that he does what he does out of love. It’s a daring, complex performance, and it’s for reasons other than the fact that his character is gay; it establishes that Carrey is capable of something deeper than outlandish personalities and extreme physical comedy. His take on Russell is engaging, although it’s not necessarily understandable. This isn’t a criticism. Sometimes, it’s preferable for audiences to figure out characters for themselves, for them to put their own spin on why certain people are they are way they are.
We’re given a small glimpse of his childhood, in which he learns that he was adopted. We then flash forward to his early adult years; he’s married to a woman who’s a bit too religious and perhaps a little ignorant but sweet nonetheless, he has a delightful daughter, and he’s the manager of a Texas food service company. But after surviving a car accident, he decides to live his life as an openly gay man, and he leaves his family behind for Miami. It’s there he realizes that living a gay lifestyle is more expensive than his salary as a sales manager will allow. So he does what any man vowing to live authentically would do – he becomes a conman. After relatively simple schemes like feigning slips and falls in public places, he plunges headfirst into various types of fraud, including credit card, passport, and insurance. He even sells bad tomatoes.
Unfortunately, his crimes catch up with him, and he’s arrested and sent to jail in Texas. He learns the ropes quickly; everything essentially boils down to a choice between paying someone off, learning how to fight, or giving someone oral sex. He knows who to talk to and where to guide someone should they need something. He spends all his free time in the library, where he reads nothing but law books. Into his life enters Philip Morris (Ewan McGregor), a soft spoken gay man who was tried and convicted for theft of service. He wants to see if there’s a legal way to help an AIDS patient lying in the infirmary. Russell lies and tells Morris that he’s a lawyer. The two immediately hit it off. Over the next few weeks, they form their own little slice of heaven in a jail cell, oblivious to the yard beatings and the cell searches.
At this point, I’m going to stop describing the plot, for I want you to be surprised by the lengths Russell will go to be with Morris. I will say that what the film, in its own offbeat way, is surprisingly sweet. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s screenplay, based on Steve McVicker’s book “I Love You Philip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks,” reveals a delicate and finely crafted balancing act between humor and drama; it’s funny, though it never resorts to desperate slapstick or gross-out vulgarities, and it’s heartfelt, yet it steers clear of broad, contrived sentimentalism. It’s bold and appealing – a romantic comedy that refuses to follow the rules of a romantic comedy.
Apart from Carrey and McGregor, I was pleasantly surprised by Leslie Mann, who appears briefly but is no less important as Russell’s ex-wife, Debbie. Even after learning that he’s gay, even after they get divorced, even after he gets sent to jail, the two remain on fairly good terms. This is amazing coming from a woman perpetually hung up on what the Lord does and does not intend to have happen. She believes that Russell is a man who doesn’t know who he is and is always searching for something. I guess that makes sense. Why else would he be so reckless in his attempts at pretending to be what he isn’t? Part of what makes “I Love You Philip Morris” such a good movie is that it presents Steven Jay Russell without forcing us towards any definite conclusions about him. True, he may be serving an unusually long jail sentence (in solitary confinement, no less), but you have to admit, he is a romantic.]]> Wed, 8 Dec 2010 05:18:05 +0000
<![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> Wed, 20 Oct 2010 21:45:12 +0000 <![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by smurfwreck]]> Fri, 24 Sep 2010 12:27:46 +0000 <![CDATA[ Entertaining]]> Stardust. The movie has an A-list cast and strong acting, especially for a "fairy tale" movie. There are some really delightful scenes, such as De Niro (as Capt. Shakespeare) giving Charlie Cox and Claire Danes lessons in fencing and dancing, respectively. There are also some really original twists on cliched scenes, such as the sword fight with the corpse (it sounds odd, but looks great in practice). It might not be the next Lord of the Rings, but it's pretty fun.]]> Fri, 24 Sep 2010 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> Mon, 30 Aug 2010 01:06:14 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by gotmilk]]> Thu, 5 Aug 2010 17:58:22 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by Brithepie]]> Tue, 3 Aug 2010 22:04:22 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by bmcintire4]]> Tue, 27 Jul 2010 19:45:40 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by forrest5]]> Mon, 26 Jul 2010 20:11:19 +0000 <![CDATA[ Fight Club!]]> "The first rule about Fight Club is..."

I LOVE this movie.  I love Palahniuk in general.  I saw the movie several times before reading the book but I loved the book equally as much.  It was pretty awesome how they didn't change too much between the book and the movie.  Both the book and movie contain tons of awesome quotes including my favorites:

"It is only after we have lost everything that we are free to do anything."
~Chuck (Fight Club)

"Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing." 
~Chuck (Fight Club)

]]> Fri, 23 Jul 2010 21:43:05 +0000
<![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by AustinArtaud]]> Thu, 22 Jul 2010 00:06:57 +0000 <![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by JaseSea]]> Tue, 20 Jul 2010 22:34:57 +0000 <![CDATA[ I want you to hit me as hard as you can.]]> Who is edward norton. That is a question youll be asking yourself the whole time your watching this movie. The story follows a man named Edward norton as he goes from a inspection person for the auto industry to the leader of a fight club. And during this he gets caught up with a drug using girlfriend, a man who works as a projectionist at a theatre with a fondness for splicing porn into the movies. It messes with your mind, forces you to think, and then blows what you thought you knew to pieces.

]]> Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:19:51 +0000
<![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by erin_arata]]> Tue, 20 Jul 2010 02:48:20 +0000 <![CDATA[ SO NOT in Las Vegas.]]> I just rewatched The Spirit not too long ago and for all it's goofy meandering, it's look was clearly borrowed from this movie and Frank Miller a noted comic legend who lately has had more misses then hits in his written works-was a part of BOTH movies.  Taking another look at this film reminded me how odd and frankly great the film was.

The plot has a running theme of corruption and sinful people in all three of it's stories.  The first is about a hard headed street fighter whoe's night with a hooker has the cops knocking on his door the next morning when she is dead in his bed.  Marv didn't kill her and knows he's been set up and is on a quest to find the real killer. 

Second is Dwight, a mirthless tough guy whoe's barmaid girlfriend has been roughed up by a scumbag and his friends.  After threatening the creep, Dwight hits the road to follow the scumbag who head right into the red light district of town, where the hookers act as enforcers. 

The final story has a cop wrongly convicted to prison when he's been railroaded for child rape.  The "victim" knows he's innocent, but the attempted rapist is a politicians son so people hush up and the cop sits for years for a crime he never committed.  The cop signs a confession and gets out to protect the girl who grew up to be a stripper when he learns that that rapist still has his eye on her. 

All the players, including Jessica Alba whose known for her razztastic performances, play they're parts from well to great, especially Mickey Roarke as Marv.  You might also notice that all the men are down and out, tough guys or scum bags.  The women are all strippers or hookers.  Sin City indeed.  Bruce Willis and Clive Owen are great as Hartigan and Dwight respectfully and Carla Gugino and Rosario Dawson are sexy/cool.  Gugino by the way is a parole officer, and NOT a stripper or hooker, however she IS naked so that takes the shame off of having a "respectable" job in this movie. 

* By the way, just as an editorial, while I'm on the naked thing-this movie used the literal comic books as storyboards for the movie and Alba's character Nancy the stripper is naked in the books.  Alba reportedly flat out refused to be naked (a naked stripper?!?  GET OUT!!!) and they let it slide since it ultimately wasn't important to the movie.  I'm not so much upset that we don't get to see Alba in the buff but that they made a compromise cause they cast an A list actress who looks good rather then find an actress who WOULD do the role in the nude the way it was supposed to be.  Frank Miller's reluctance to do this movie was the way other Hollywood related works of his got butchered by others and here he is working with the director and getting the information that they made a small sacrifice over something that could have been avoided. Imagine if they got Anne Hathaway or a willing actress to be nude AND get a better performance on top of that.  Just say'in.

I was highly entertained.  Even as the adrenaline of the middle one died down and the movie played out I was still compelled to watch to see what happened.  No matter how silly things were in the movie, like with this yellow guy with a mechanical wang in the final act.

I wasn't familiar with the original Frank Miller books but from what I'm told they kept it as close as possible to the books with few altercations for movie adaption.  With this knowledge and my enjoyment of the movie, I'd say that they did a good job.

This movies trailer didn't shout out loud it's three weird tales, but it had NO problem telling us the big list of names that are in the movie or that it's a comic book film from comic scribe Frank Miller who anyone who knows comics is a big name.

The movie has been out for about 5 years as of this writing so it is pretty known for a major studio release with a big name ensemble cast.

This movie gets a + 4.  It isn't boring, it's shot well and cast pretty good.  Bruce Willis's story is slow to start but it gets better but there is an underlying current of something sinister always brewing under the surface.  Maybe thats the point.  The movie isn't just fist fights and shooting, theres beheadings, blood and other pieces of business that make this movie not for the squeamish.  Especially when it comes to Elijah Wood's character's scenes.  He's an evil Harry Potter look alike whos fast, has claws and a taste for flesh.

A fun game I played during this movie that also put my own taste for movies and style spotting was trying to figure out which scene Quentin Tarantino directed, since he directs a scene in the movie.  I had about 6 guesses and after the movie I looked up the answer and 1 of them was right.  See if you can figure out which scene it is before looking up the answer.

Recommending this movie is easy.  Find a comic book fan who wants a movie to be as close to it's source material as possible.  Sin City is pretty close from what i've read and asked from it's fans.  Action fans and comic book fans would be pleased.

Sin City is fun but like I said has a nastyness about it.  Soem fans didn't like the stories told and would have rather seen others instead but since the movie was popular enough, a second movie is in the works reportedly.  Hopefully they keep the cool attitude and the good casting.*

]]> Mon, 19 Jul 2010 04:05:32 +0000
<![CDATA[Sin City (2005 film) Quick Tip by TheJohn]]> Mon, 19 Jul 2010 02:00:36 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by gmosaki]]> Wed, 14 Jul 2010 07:12:49 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by cruzer79]]> Mon, 12 Jul 2010 22:05:13 +0000 <![CDATA[ I am Jack's carpel tunnel.]]> FIGHT CLUB
Written by
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter

Editor's Note: They say the first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club.  I'm actually pretty certain that this is also the second rule of Fight Club.  I am breaking both of these rules in this piece but, to be fair, I'm not a card-carrying member of Fight Club so I don't think I have to abide by the group's rules.  Anyhow, you have been warned ...

When David Fincher’s FIGHT CLUB was released in 1999, it was one of those movies that not only made you stop and take notice but had you wondering what the heck had just happened.  Even though the century was about to turn, people did not know what to make of it at first.  How could they really?  Here you have this violent, aggressive piece of filmmaking that is hellbent on literally blowing up most of the institutions that modern society has grown entirely complacent to.  More importantly, all of this unrest stems not from a growing revolt amongst the masses but rather the increasingly debilitating delusions of just one man’s mind.  
“This is your life and it is ending one minute at a time.”
The man in question is never even named.  He is simply The Narrator and he is played by the seamlessly talented Edward Norton.  Norton is the perfect choice for our hero.  His earnest face and effortless charm make him very easy to like and to relate to.  Our Narrator, who is not coincidentally reminiscent of Malcolm McDowell’s narrator in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, starts out just like us.  He has put in countless hours at a thankless job to afford his ideally located condo and to amass the multitude of perfectly suited furniture pieces to fill that space.  He has done everything according to the great design but yet he is in a constant state of unrest.  He can’t even sleep unless he has the chance to shed all of his pain in the arms of people facing their own mortality at nightly support groups for a variety of cancer patients.  He is an exacerbated version of who a great majority of us actually are.  And thanks to Norton’s uncanny ability to draw in his audience, our dormant anger grows with his.
“This chick, Marla Singer, did not have testicular cancer.”
Of course, The Narrator does not have testicular cancer himself but the fact that he actually has testicles at least suggests that he could.  Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) is something of a monster.  She too does not step in time with the rest of the world – chain smoke getting caught in her wildly untamed hair as she walks in and out of Laundromats stealing people’s clothing before walking directly into traffic without skipping a beat.  Marla is what sends The Narrator over the edge.  Her presence disturbs him but he cannot figure out how.  He just knows that he can’t sleep again now that Marla has made herself known.  It might have something to do his addiction cancer support groups.  He appreciates the sincerity of humanity when death is looming and Marla essentially wants to die.  Her death is close, or so she would like it to be, but, unlike her cancer patient friends, her death is one of her own choosing.  Where is the sincerity in that?  To be fair, I would probably lose a wink or two over that conundrum too.
“I know this because Tyler knows this.”
The pressure of life’s trappings starts to hit our Narrator a little too hard at this point and what was waiting patiently to emerge this entire time finally does.  Fincher has been giving us subtle hints; they’re blink and you’ll miss them moments but Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt in his prime, has appeared in frame a few times for split seconds at a time.  We don’t know it then, unless we’re super geniuses or have read the Chuck Palahniuk novel, but Tyler is a complete fabrication of the Narrator’s mind.  The impact of the story rests on the audience not knowing this bit of information until later because they need to believe the bloody reality of these two men beating each other rotten in the parking lot of some dive bar.  They need to believe this because it needs to inspire legions of other men to do the exact same thing.  These men and their nightly brawls are Fight Club.
“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.”
I am not a fighter but I, like the Narrator, beat the living crap out of myself from time to time.  The difference, or at least the one I am choosing to focus on right now, between the Narrator and myself is that I beat myself up under my breath when I don’t think anyone is listening.  He beats himself bloody and he does it right there for everyone to see.  And while he may be beating himself up, he is still fighting back for the first time in his seemingly insignificant single-serving life.  Aside from sincerity, there is something else the Narrator took from his life moonlighting on the support group circuit.  The imminent promise of death is a pretty good reminder for most that they’re still alive.  Pain, the intense kind that leaves scars and ringing in your ears while it drips your blood to the floor, has a similar effect.  This is especially true for those of us who don’t even realize we still haven’t slept in years.

For more BLACK SHEEP REVIEWS, just click the link.
]]> Sat, 12 Jun 2010 12:47:26 +0000
<![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by Lopez15]]> Fri, 4 Jun 2010 19:47:25 +0000 <![CDATA[ WHAT A GREAT ENDING]]> Go to fullsize imageGo to fullsize image


I don't know about you but I have always been a huge fan of the Coen Brothers Joel and Ethan, I have liked every film the two have put together. This is no exception and is just another classic in a long list of classics, both theatrically and on DVD this is a brilliant film. I can honestly say that a lot of the time I do not agree with the winners or even the nominees chosen by the Academy for the Oscar but they got it right with this one. By the way I do not care what people think, that ending was BRILLIANT.

The story is all about Llewelyn Moss [Josh Brolin] a normal every day guy who happens to stumble upon something he should not have. When he comes across a massacre and ends up leaving the area with a bag full of money a killer [Javier Bardem] comes after him and one of the best movies ever made starts to unfold. Add in a sheriff who is trying to put this all together played by Tommy Lee Jones and another hired hand played by Woody Harrelson and you have one great scenario taking place. This movie has every thong you could want in a film, there is some good humor although it is on the darker side. There is also not only some good action going on but a really dramatic tale of greed. Don't let any one tell you differently this movie is all about greed and obsession. One mans combo of the two leaves not only him but his family in danger that may even lead to death. Another's combo of the two leads him down the same path while another's completely breaks him. It may seem confusing reading this but when you watch it you will get it, and dare I say you will enjoy it.

Writers/directors/producers Coen Brothers have crafted one of the best films to come out in years. The direction of this film can be felt threw out the entire thing and the screenplay is amazing. This could be the best film the two have put together and that is really saying something, come on just think of what these two have made. Based on a book that is also just as good, this was a masterpeice work in my opinion. Acting wise this film shines just as much as Josh Brolin gives one of the best performances of his career. I was really rooting for this guy during this movie even though he brings it all on himself, but man does he give Bardem's character a run for his money. Woody Harrelson is just as good in this film as a hired hand trying to get the money back for his employer. He really shines with his sense of humor in this film and the way he carries himself.

Tommy Lee Jones as usual is great as the sheriff who is determined to find his man, so much so that it brings him down. It is somewhat disappointing knowing about the drama going on between him and the studio about this film, mainly because he may never work with the Coen Brothers again. But aside from that we have what has got to be one of the greatest performances in cinematic history, and I am serious when I say that. Javier Bardem turned in one of the best performances I have ever seen, really brought to life one of the most interesting characters I have had the pleasure of viewing.

This film is definitely worth your money, I say buy this not rent it. I hear people complain about the ending of this film all the time and I don't understand why. I thought that it was one of the most brilliant endings in a long time; I never thought it would end like that. Maybe because it isn't what would be considered a typical ending people hated on it, but I think that is what makes it so good. I loved it and so did my brother who watched it with me, at least one person agreed with me on that ending. Of course regadless this was an excellent film and I rated it among the best I have ever watched, I truly enjoyed this film.

Go to fullsize imageGo to fullsize imageGo to fullsize imageGo to fullsize image]]> Sun, 30 May 2010 21:34:17 +0000
<![CDATA[My Favourite Movies Based on Books]]> Fri, 21 May 2010 18:47:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Fight Club (1999 movie) Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Mon, 5 Apr 2010 23:45:47 +0000 <![CDATA[Like Water for Chocolate (movie) Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Mon, 5 Apr 2010 18:41:37 +0000 <![CDATA[ Darkness in the Human Heart (4.5)]]> I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carry one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Camanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how theyd've operated these times. There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. "Be there in about fifteen minutes". I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world."

This is the opening monologue to No Country for Old Men spoken by Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones).  And singlehandeldy it is perhaps one of the most important lines in the film.  For without it you may not actually grasp just what No Country for Old Men is about.  This is the Coen Brothers at one of their finest moments.  Based off the book by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men is a dark film that mostly centers on how much times have changed.  As I said, the opening monologue is among the most important lines in the book.

The film opens with a man being taken into custody by one of the deputies of the Sheriff.  He doesn't look like much, and all he has with him is some sort of cattle gun.  Yet we see later that Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is quite deadly with it.  He eventually escapes the prison by killing the deputy and stealing the car.  The fact that we are introduced to Chigurh so early is another point that the film is trying to make.  When sitting through No Country for Old Men, one is encouraged to have an open mind.  And indeed there are certain things that are unusual about it, but very much in tune with a type of style the Coen Brothers are known for.  There are quite a few moments of Dead Pan silences and some very unusual dialog throughout.  This is never more true than when we are introduced to the films central protagonist: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) while he's hunting.  It may also be good to know there isn't much music in and of itself.

While hunting, Llewelyn (we're going to refer to him as Lew for the rest of this review) comes across what looks like a pretty bad stand off.  There are tons of cars around and a lot of dead bodies.  The only one who happens to be alive is on the verge of death himself.  But the real prize is the bag that Lew finds.  It's got tons of cash in it.  So he takes it, not realizing just what kind of a mess he's really gotten himself into.  Anton Chigurh has been hired to get the money back... and this is where the hunt begins.  Chigurh is a ruthless man who will do anything it takes to get the job done.  What ensues is Lew trying to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer, while Sheriff Bell tries to find and stop Chigurh before it's too late.

The style of the film is what gives it a unique tone.  There's a lot of dead pan silences and thus there isn't a whole lot of dialog within the film.  Because of the lack of all these things there's a sort of tension that runs through the film as Lew tries to evade Chigurh and protect his wife from the sadistic man as well.  The performances are spot on, but the best performance comes from Javier Bardem as Chigurh.  He gives a masterful performance that's quite terrifying, and all too real. 

One of the biggest strengths of the film, however, is that it is deep in themes.  This is isn't one of those movies you just sit back and enjoy.  It's also one that provokes one to think about a few things.  If you're just not into that sort of thing... you're probably not going to like it.  The themes of fate and destiny are nothing new to The Coen Brothers.  One of the more iconic moments in the film is Chigurh flipping a coin and telling someone to "call it."  What do you stand to win?  Everything.  Call it wrong and it's the end of your life.  This is one of those plays, but perhaps one of the biggest themes is this idea of being the hunter and becoming the hunted.  Every character is after some other character... while being pursued by another. 

If anything there is something that can be said about connecting dots.  While the film is very good, those who have yet to read the book may find themselves stumbling to put certain things together.  Certain characters are introduced... but have no back story.  Other times the movie leaves you with complete ambiguity.  For the most part the movie is pretty close to the book.  There are certain things that have been cut out entirely, but a lot of the time you might find it best to read the book just to fill in some of the holes or to answer some of the burning questions the movie might leave.  Normally I wouldn't suggest such a thing (books and films are like apples and orange... both are delicious, but very different), but considering how faitfhul the Coens tried to be, it's quite clear that in some instances the book can answer some questions to your own interpretations.  

It's a little hard to say whether or not the story is about Lew or about Chigurh, but when one discovers the meaning behind the title of the movie, you might be quick to think it's actually about Sheriff Bell.  He may not play as big a role as Lew or Chigurh, but he is essentially the one who helps us better understand the main theme of the film in and of itself.  If you're mistified on what the title means allow me to help.  It refers to how the times are changing.  Recall in Bell's opening monologue that there was once a time when a Sheriff didn't need a gun.  Those times are gone.  Those who have grown old will realize it isn't the country they grew up in anymore because of how much it has changed... how it has become more deadly ("Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun....")  This may also explain the films controversial ending.  I won't spoil it, but as with a few other instances, it leaves one with the feeling of ambiguity and asking questions.  For others it may be depressing as hell.  I've heard about some who rather enjoyed the movie until it got to the end.  It's not what you expect, but you can interpret it for yourself. 

No Country For Old Men isn't for everyone in that case.  I know I say that with A LOT of movies, but this is especially true of No Country For Old Men.  It's a very thought provoking film that asks a lot of its viewers.  Particularly to either interpret or fill in the holes themselves.  This can be fun for those who enjoy it, but if you're the type who isn't really into that sort of thing... then it's definitely not for you, and in fact may even leave you infuriated.  After all, most go to the movies for escapist enjoyment... to turn off their brains.  No Country For Old Men asks you to keep the lights on upstairs and to piecing things together.  If that is for you, you'll be pleasantly surprised by No Country for Old Men.]]> Sun, 6 Sep 2009 01:34:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ The times they are a chang'in]]>
A wonderful piece of the changing world has a good man whos hurt wanting a man's coat in the middle of the night and willing to pay big money for it and the owner giving the man stick for the money before he hands anything over.  Later on an evil man who suffered a bad accident needs help and two boys lend aid, he insists on giving money which the young boys try to refuse.

In desolate West Texas, a welder and trailer park dweller Lewellon Moss is out hunting and comes across a a mass murder scene, with a stash of brown heroin in the trucks and a couple million in cash not far away.  Seeing this as a chance to make a better life he takes the money and runs home but finds that bounty hunters are on his tail, including one sociopath Anton Chigurgh who is able to find him wherever Moss goes.  Moss needs to stay a step ahead of Chigurgh before Chigurgh can take the money back and kill Moss and Sheriff Bell needs to track down either party while steadily feeling the dread of the new violent world creep up on him.

No Country For Old Men is proof that the Coen brothers best movies have been they're violent dramas.  From they're earliest movie, Blood Simple up to this one it has always been the case.  They're comedies are nice but you can tell they're passion rests in drama.  The movie is devoid of a musical score creating a real sense of atmosphere and gravity to the drama and the couple of funny lines uttered are real sounding diolouge that regular people can utter in a real life situation.

The only thing thats out of this world is the antagonist, Anton Chigurgh.  Described as a "prophet of destruction" in the book his eerie voice, twisted morals and ice blooded actions coupled with professionalism to a job of a bounty hunter makes him the newest member of classic movie villians.  Scarier then the classic Terminator with a visage that can blend into any background and making him indistinguishable from anyone else.  A former colleague is even surprised that a man fought Chigurgh and lived to tell the tale.

People have complianed about the violence of the movie.  It comes about every 20 minutes and is bloody and sudden, very reminiscent of Taxi Driver which is another movie which gets attacked for it's shocking shoot out in the penultimate scene, the only violence in the movie.  It can be jarring since none of the violence is stylized and every shot fired has a bloody death.  The calm serenity of the movie is shattered with it's shotguns and rifles.

Creepy and dark with the feeling that a forboding stranger with his pneumatic cattle gun and silenced shotgun is calmly approaching you from behind.  No Country For Old Men has it's morality in play on the world that once was and will never be the same.  When past movies that turned the cinema world on it's ear with it's violence and changed the landscape, No Country does the same and makes a point to tell us what a world it's become.]]> Sat, 11 Jul 2009 00:05:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Grim and Gritty Modern Noir]]> WARNING: This film contains graphic stylized violence including torture, as well as sexuality/nudity, coarse language, and disturbing themes.

Only a sick and twisted mind could conceive of the warped stories that are found in the graphic novel series Sin City. Frank Miller is just such a mind. His morbid fascinations with corrupt authority figures, hypocritical religions, sleazy yet strong-willed women, and violent anti-heroes are thrust into the spotlight in his work. With his comic books and graphic novels, we are given a disturbing glimpse into his worldview. His characters are tainted with cynicism, darkened by madness, haunted by guilt, plagued by lust, and drenched in blood. Naturally his stories have been a commercial success despite their controversial subject matter, so it's no surprise that Hollywood producers, directors, and writers have sought to adapt them into films. This is something Frank Miller has always been reluctant to allow... up until now that is. Filmmakers and friends, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino unite their perverse adolescent minds and together they bring Frank Miller's Sin City to vivid life in a stark and oppressing film, which will leave its viewers desiring a thorough shower in order to wash away the residue of the film's immoral characters (not to mention the combined residue of lustful sweat and vengeful blood).


Basin City, better known to its inhabitants as Sin City, is a shady underworld of crime and corruption. It's a place where crooked cops patrol the streets, where serial killers and sex offenders go free, where the church buries its own sins, and the noblest men are psychotic vigilantes. In this dog-eat-dog environment, only the strong survive and the pressures and strain of survival fracture the human psyche. No one is innocent, no one is pure and even Sin City's most charismatic denizens are scum. In this world diversion takes the form of strip bars and brothels, evil hides behind the mask of propriety, and revenge and redemption are the same.
The film is divided into three stories. They are:

1. Detective Hartigan has been tracking down a powerful senator's son, who kidnaps, rapes, and murders young girls. Hartigan is betrayed by another cop, his partner in fact, who is under the pay of the senator. Hartigan takes the fall for the senator's son only to protect one of the intended victims. Years later he is let out of jail and tries to save that same girl from the senator's wrath, but she has become a stripper and fallen in love with Hartigan, the man who once saved her. Soon Hartigan realizes that he was part of a plan to bring her out into the open where the senator's son can carry out his wicked desires.
Bruce Willias as Detective Hartigan

2. Dwight is an enigmatic criminal with a soft spot for damsels in distress. When his new girlfriend is beaten up by her abusive ex, Dwight plans to teach him a lesson. Dwight chases him into the red light district where a band of vigilante prostitutes kills him, only to discover that he was a cop with a destructive ego. Now Dwight and the prostitutes must fend off corrupt officials and the mob in order to keep their territory to themselves.
Rosario Dawson as Gail and Clive Owen as Dwight
3. Meanwhile Marv, a deformed schizophrenic brute, seeks bloody retribution after the woman he slept with is killed and he's framed for the murder. In his attempt to solve the mystery of her death and avenge her, he discovers a plot that leads to one of the city's most powerful families, corruption within the government, police force, and the church. He pulls off his brutal revenge but he ultimately pays the price in the end.
Carla Gugino as Lucille and Mickey Rourke as Marv
These three tales interlock like pieces to a sinister puzzle, each piece bringing the audience closer to the story's completion, showing us the seedy underbelly of Basin City from multiple perspectives.


Much like Pulp Fiction in its fragmented narrative, Sin City unfolds out of chronological order, which is perhaps the film's greatest flaw. However the film is boosted by the dramatic visual style of Miller, Rodriguez, and Tarantino who imbue it with the atmosphere of a 1940s noir film and the savage violence of 1970s action cinema. Most of the movie was shot against a green screen and then CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) artists created the surrounding environments. This made it possible for the filmmakers to replicate Frank Miller's graphic style; the high contrast black and white metropolis, the inverted shadows cast upon brick walls, the saturated red of blood splatters, and the golden yellow of a vixen's hair.

The morally ambivalent characters are brought to life by a talented ensemble cast including Jessica Alba, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel, Rosario Dawson, Benicio del Toro, Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Marley Shelton, Nick Stahl, Bruce Willis, and Elijah Wood.
Sin City poster

The film won't appeal to everyone. It's gratuitous depictions of violence and sex are proof of that. However, if taken with a grain of salt, Sin City is an entertainingly over-the-top exploitation masterpiece that faithfully recreates Frank Miller's imaginative graphic novels.

]]> Tue, 5 May 2009 19:37:21 +0000
<![CDATA[ This Comic Plays Well on the Big Screen!]]>
The main actors Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, and Bruce Willis are all excellent in different ways. All three are protectors of the women and act as dark knights to save them. Additionally, Josh Harnett seems to be floating about as someone who murders troubled women.

The special effects are wild, the violance graphic and the women are very hot! Don't look for realism in this film because you won't find it. It is more like a dark fantasy where guys can get shot a hundred times, get hit by cars, jump off buildings and keep coming. Highly Entertaining and well worth watching on DVD because you can rewind things that you couldn't believe that you saw!]]> Sat, 21 Mar 2009 18:22:26 +0000
<![CDATA[ A Glowing Comic Fantasy]]> Neil Gaiman's original story, Stardust is a charming fantasy film with a humorous twist. Much like The Princess Bride in its combination of romance, adventure, comedy, and fantasy, Stardust is a remarkable film with a lot of heart. The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who had been eager to adapt the story for the cinematic medium. Thankfully Vaughn was a more than competent director and he had a great deal of respect for the source material. It should also be noted that Vaughn had directed primarily low-budget, critically acclaimed crime dramas and that he was unused to the pressures of making a commercially successful film of this scale. And yet he has succeeded in creating an entertaining movie. The film is relatively faithful to the novel, and yet it stands out as a separate entity. All of Gaiman's charm and wit are retained, while screenwriters Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn add a contemporary edge to the fractured fairy tale.

The story begins with a young peasant boy named Tristan as he tries to win the heart of the vapid damsel, Victoria. One night while sitting under the starlit sky, Tristan and Victoria watch as a falling star plummets to Earth. As a token of his love, Tristan offers to retrieve the fallen star for Victoria, but to do so he must cross the forbidden wall that borders their small English village. After crossing the wall, Tristan discovers that he's entered a bizarre world of magical enchantment. When Tristan finds the fallen star, he's shocked to see that on this side of the wall it has taken the form of a beautiful young woman named Yvaine. Yvaine says that she was struck by a bewitched necklace that was speeding through outer space and that it knocked her to Earth. The necklace, it turns out, is a precious heirloom belonging to the dead King of Stormhold Castle. The King's sons have killed each other in order to succeed their father as the new king, but now only the good Prince Primus and the devious Prince Septimus remain. The two rival princes must race each other to the necklace before either can ascend to the throne.
Meanwhile, Lamia, the Queen of the Witches, seeks the heart of a star, which she plans to eat so that her youth and beauty will be restored. Lamia, too, soon sets out on a journey and she uses her mystical powers to slow Tristan and Yvaine down. As Tristan and Yvaine elude the evil prince Septimus and Queen Lamia, they take refuge in the flying pirate ship of the seemingly fearsome Captain Shakespeare. It's not long before Tristan and Yvaine come to realize that they love one another, but can they overcome the many obstacles that stand in the way of their happiness? And can Tristan, an ordinary peasant boy, prove himself to be a courageous hero or shall he falter at the cost of Yvaine's life and his own true destiny?

Despite the film's predictable ending and the cliché fantasy themes, Stardust is really quite enchanting. The film shines with dazzling action, witty dialogue, and a perfect cast. The cast includes Charlie Cox as Tristan, Claire Danes as Yvaine, Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia, Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare, Sienna Miller as Victoria, Peter O'Toole as The King, Mark Strong as Septimus, Jason Flemyng as Primus, and Ian McKellen, who voices the narrator. Newcomer Charlie Cox captures the spirit of his awkward hero nicely and Michelle Pfeiffer is deliciously evil as the Queen of the Witches. My only complaint regarding the cast of the film has to do with Claire Danes. While there's nothing wrong with her feisty portrayal of Yvaine, I found her heavily plucked eyebrows to be very distracting and they gave her an unintentionally eerie appearance. But this is minor.
Yvaine on a unicorn...

The DVD includes "Good Omens: The Making of Stardust" documentary, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, the theatrical trailer and previews.]]> Wed, 24 Dec 2008 00:34:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?]]>
This is a movie about people and personalities, not one particular event, though several of these everyday occurrences will stand out in your mind forever - Like the world's filthiest toilet that Renton is forced to use, and his toilet daydream that follows it. There's an unforgettable scat scene with morning sheets that will be sure to turn your stomach.

Warning: There is a dead baby scene in this movie that will turn most stomachs and perhaps make you hate every heroin addict that ever lived. Though nothing is ever said about it, the insinuation is that the baby died from neglect. Before even reporting it, the mother needs a "hit" to calm her down.

Set to a great soundtrack and filled with witty dialogue (although absolutely filled with flagrant curses) and narrative, 'Trainspotting' highlights not just the differences between "Us And Them" but the differences between the addicts themselves. The most violent of the addicts, Begbie, never touches heroin and considers it to be filth while swilling alcohol and stabbing people. Spud is simply confused all the time, while Tommy manages to steer clear of the horse until his girlfriend dumps him.

If you're a fan of the addiction movie, then this is a must-see. If you can't handle horrific scenes, such as the dead baby scene, then perhaps pass on this. Because of its languid, what-happens-everyday approach is far from an active script, a rental first might be the best approach to viewing this movie before buying. Enjoy!
]]> Sun, 2 Nov 2008 16:11:06 +0000
<![CDATA[ among the stars]]>
That said, Stardust the movie has its moments. Clare Danes makes a luminous star, Charlie Cox a credulous young hero, and deNiro has a great time camping it up in his role as secretly gay pirate captain. Michelle Pfeiffer is less successful as the witch; either of her two crone sisters could have done better. There are more than a few problems with the story line, which, especially at the start, jumps about in a confusing manner.

It is in its individual scenes that this movie shines. Seeing a dying prince bleed blue blood. Watching the 6 dead brothers in their ghostly throng, bearing their slashed throats and axes in the head. The Capt. Hook - style sequences with the air ship. The fairy tale backgrounds and the gypsy wagon. The special effects, which, while not spectacular, do their job. The developing love story. It isn't perfect, but Stardust is good entertainment, fun to lose oneself in on a rainy evening. If you enjoy the movie, you owe it to yourself to read the book. It's even better.]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Best picture for 2008 is the least of its praises]]> Pros: Everything but the lack of music

Cons: Maybe too violent for some--not really a con, but it fits here

The Bottom Line: A new sort of epic that is worth every second.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

No Country for Old Men won the best picture Oscar for 2008 and has had about 2 score people write reviews for it. I will write the normal review but have an analysis portion below that puts the story (based on the book) and the film itself in context based on the artists involved.

The plot is simple to explain but deeply complex in the telling.

While hunting, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) finds the remnants of a massive shootout that left all but one dead and he about to die. Among the ruins, he finds a satchel containing a huge sum of money. He takes this home and begins to formulate a plan. He feels guilty for not helping the one partial survivor, so he goes back in the middle of the night. He finds pretty quickly that he is not alone and those who have joined him are shooting at him. He hurries home and sends his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) to stay with her mother. He sets out to confuse those who have begun to chase him.

Meanwhile Sheriff Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is alerted to the massacre. Because Moss had left his truck behind, Sheriff Bell uses his seriously uncommon common sense to piece together that Moss has either the money or some of the drugs that were the cause of the massacre. From here starts a chase in four parts. You will have to watch the film to see how the rest of it plays out. I will say this before getting into the rest of the review: unless you lack a sense of, or understanding of dread, then you should have goose bumps very often.

The acting was spectacular. Atonement had the same caliber of talent but it and No Country are the rare gems in this regard that I can remember in ages. The only reason that Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem stand out is the amount of time they have on the screen. One of my favorite “bit-part” actresses, Beth Grant (Carla Jean’s mother) is her usual hysterical self in a movie that has very little comedy in it.

The camera work was the Coen brothers at their best. I will get to this in the deep analysis below, but they have a sense of location that has to be seen to be understood. This very talented pair knows how to use this necessary function of filmmaking to further the symbolism in a movie already rich with symbols. They use the same sorts of framing as a sort of control, meaning they will use a framing shot with the very dark Chigurh closely followed by the same framing for Sheriff Bell. This isn’t at all unusual for the Coens.

The only thing I have any trouble with is the music, or the lack of it. The best Coen movies (Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, and especially Oh Brother Where Art Thou) have plenty of and memorable music; I cannot recall so much as one note of anything in this one. Yes it could be part of the underlying sparseness of the film, but I think it is really a layer that is missing.

The violence in the film, for some, might be gratuitous and this is a perfect lead in for the contextual analysis to follow. Violence plays a significant role in every McCarthy novel except his first The Orchard Keeper (and it still has its fair amount, but the tone of the novel is different so the violence doesn’t have the same impact). Therefore, the Coens did a good job of integrating this aspect of the novel into their film.

I highly recommend this film; it may not be for everyone, but what film ever has been?

The review is over. The contextual view follows and will likely contain plot spoilers. Much of the focus will be on McCarthy because my assumption is that fewer people will be familiar with McCarthy than with the Coens.

So much of Western literature has been about sex and death—those two facets are supposed to be the guiding principles of life and literature. This means that stories primarily about either or both become huge YAWNs. For McCarthy, the balance is entirely different. For him the primal urges are violence, fear, and death. Keep in mind, these are primal urges occurring deep in the limbic portion of the brain skipping the higher functions almost entirely. And what sets him apart from the crowd is that his language to describe these events is so lush that both the limbic and higher brains are involved in processing it. This is challenging mainly, but can also be frightening and sometimes frustrating—but in the same sense a good crossword puzzle can be frustrating. The sort of standard man vs man paradigm works only so far with McCarthy. In a similar vein, man’s inhumanity to men also only goes so far. McCarthy has found a behavioral space that is outside of hatred and where motive is vague if it is involved at all (it is not uncommon for men to fight for no decernible reason other than fight). This probably sounds silly, but Chigurh is a recent example of what I mean. I will examine him, then move back to McCarthy.

In both novel and film, No Country contains something that may not be unique, but I am so struck by it that I can’t recall ever seeing it before (and the only real analog to Chigurh in a McCarthy novel is the Judge in the utterly brilliant Blood Meridian). Chigurh is a character. He moves, speaks, bleeds, so he is “real” in that sense. However he ultimately is the avatar of what I call beige evil. Evil typically has a driver behind it, a motive. In Chigurh, what you get is not a motive-driven evil; what you get is the essence of whatever solipsistic ethic a complete sociopath maintains. He doesn’t want the money. The film makes a decision that the book does not, but even the film leaves room for the following conclusions.

The money is the reason he was hired; this was a poor choice. Chigurh is a force; he is the shadow of a dream where you are chased but when you turn around, instead of seeing nothing, you see him. Everything else is incidental. Killing isn’t a motive either; it is a gerund. One must have some activity for momentum to continue, killing is Chigurh’s avocation.

The reason money isn’t the motive is clear enough for me. He shows up in the executive office and kills the guy behind the desk—the one who apparently helped control the drug – money transfer situation. Ostensibly, this man hired him. This can be seen as motive: if he kills the folks, he gets to keep the money. The problem with this as motive is that he doesn’t kill the kingpin, just a deputy. Besides, given all that we know about him, who would be able to stop him from just taking the money—a very tiny few see him and live.

The Judge, Chigurh, and the father and son pair in The Road are characters, but they are different from the rest of the very well crafted characters. In all cases, these people for lengthy stretches become symbols or forces. The Judge is the model for a playful evil: let’s see what happens if I do this horrific act. Chigurh is already well fleshed out. The father and son in The Road are the keepers of the light (this last is unique among McCarthy’s works—a symbol of something essential to the higher brain).

Sheriff Bell and Moss are indicative of nearly all of the main characters from his other novels. Each man has a common sense that is extremely broad but has the ability to focus intensely on something in particular without losing the over all sense of preternatural native knowledge. They are closely related to characters like Marion Sylder in The Orchard Keeper and the eponymous Suttree. And each of these men and a score of others like them use relatively short sentences to make their points. Why speak more when less will do?

These men know themselves as deeply as they know their surroundings. This is the second aspect of McCarthy that is so important to his work and that works well with the style the Coens use in their better films. Location is as important as the people acting within it. He will often spend several paragraphs setting up a scene where only a few sentences are exchanged before moving on. Faulkner, someone McCarthy is often compared to, had a similar sense, but what sets the two authors apart is just how each man frames their “place.” For Faulkner, the place was a mini-universe; it was a place where, as has been said often, the illiterate consider their lives within a deep narrative using words they would never have heard, let alone understand. For McCarthy, location is more of a set piece and proving ground. McCarthy’s sense of place is limited only in the sense that he cannot spend dozens of pages describing a valley. In the same way, it is a proving ground for McCarthy to show off his style which is a mixture of beauty and sometimes frustration given the breadth of the man’s knowledge of the rarer words in English.

People unfamiliar with his work will, by and large, run into problems with what appears to be, and sometimes is, a dull look at a landscape only for that purpose. Billy Bob Thornton did a respectable job of translating All the Pretty Horses to the big screen, but it was mostly ignored. Thornton did his level best to show the landscapes as the author described in lasting detail. The problem is that the film was incorrectly billed as a romance. Those seeking romance were totally disappointed. Those knowing McCarthy may have been disappointed, but they understood (or at least I did) the attempt to show at least a reasonable attempt of explaining how McCarthy’s stories work.

Now to the Coens. Their work in Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo and Oh Brother showed that the brothers think in the language of epic. Fink was almost entirely an inside movie; however, the story still had an epic scope. The interior scenes in Miller’s had the same feel to it. Perhaps you can argue that what they do isn’t tied to location and I won’t argue; however, I would argue that they know how to integrate location into a film so that it makes sense as well as preserves the story they want to tell.

Artful directors know how to manipulate the scene and framing to increase emotion. Actors can do this with words and motions, but if you add thoughtful camera work and the impact is far greater. The Coens’ epic films allow for a level of ease that is uncommon among current directors. Since the films have such broad scenery and scope, the viewer never, or rarely, gets a sense of claustrophobia. What this permits, though, is a very wide area with which to make a point. Consider the way Chigurh walks down the hallway in the Hotel before his encounter with Moss. He is framed in the center—his entire blackness walking down the middle of a hallway that may as well have been as wide as a football field. There is no close up claustrophobia that is common or even required for focusing on the bad guy. Instead, the whole scene stretches the length of the screen. That sort of sudden dread in what was, for me, a relaxed state is like a strong muscle twitch.

I may have already gone in too long, but here seems a logical stopping place. If you watch No Country a couple of times then watch the others I’ve listed, you will see signature character types, situations, and camera use that would allow you to spot a Coen Brothers’ movie with one eye closed. The same can be said of McCarthy—but it requires both eyes.


]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ 'To this we've come']]>
The story is fairly simple: on the raw plains of Texas a slaughter of men and dogs engaged in a drug deal is discovered by a simple guy Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). Moss observes the mayhem, sees the drugs, finds the 2 million dollar payoff money, takes the money, and embarks on an escape, leaving his wife Carla (Kelly Macdonald) to escape the pursuit of a mad killer Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who in turn is being pursued by the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) and a hired hitman (Woody Harrelson). The satchel of money contains a tracking device and Chigurh has the instrument necessary to follow the trail the device leads. The remainder of the film is the pursuit both in Texas and in Mexico, accompanied by countless brutal murders of all sorts by the crazed Chigurh, until a surprise ending.

But the toughest part of this violent film is more in the discussion of shared philosophies between the sheriff and his old cronies: they reflect on the sad state of universal crime that is so different and more malevolent than in the 'old days'. The conversations, in the superb dialog of these old men, bring our attention to some realities we would rather not confront, and those realities are even more disturbing than the repeated images of bloated bodies and senseless murders that fill the screen. Jones, Brolin, and Bardem are indeed superb in their roles, but the small cameos of the townsfolk of Texas are little gems of acting and direction. This is a difficult film to watch because of all of the violence, but the message is one we must heed. We may be allowing the creation of 'no country for any men'. Grady Harp, March 08]]> Sun, 16 Mar 2008 12:00:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ A beautiful heartbreaking film.]]> Tue, 5 Feb 2008 12:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[ No words needed except: get it, it's beyond magic.]]> I just did and the impression still has me speechless.

This review should just be a blank with ten stars and one advice: BUY IT!

The clarity of the picture, sharpness, sound, the tiny details, even in the darkness and the rain. It looks as if it has been shot yesterday.
I prefer Ridley Scott's final version, included here on disc one. It has several added and extended scenes which makes it all a little easier to understand. Although I admit this has become difficult to judge after having watched the film so many times.
Also included are the 82 international and US theatrical versions, the 92 director's cut and the workprint version. For details on these see amazon's description above.
I love Philip K. Dick's writing, so I was very happy to have a featurette and an audio interview included in the set.
Why this 5 disc box?
Please don't ask - as I said, this doesn't need words, please, just get it!
You won't be disappointed, you can't be.]]> Fri, 11 Jan 2008 12:00:00 +0000