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Dear White People

You could make a (film geek) party game out of guessing director Justin Simien's influences, but his vision seems to spring directly from what's up…

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Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Great Movie Archives

A Tarantinian Bank Job

May Contain Spoilers

One of the best things that can happen to a moviegoer is showing up expecting a standard genre film and ending up seeing something better. This was my experience with Roger Donaldson's "The Bank Job" which at first sight seemed like just another Hollywood caper movie in which the inevitable elements could be timed with a stopwatch.

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Serpico, the cop who wouldn't take money

May Contain Spoilers

In contemporary Hollywood, when a young actor becomes successful, he immediately tries to convert fame into power and money, investing his time in formulaic projects that guarantee great results at the box office and, thus, his ascension in the industry. It was not always like this - and we just need to observe Al Pacino's career to confirm that: after he became a hit with The Godfather, dozens of screenplays fell onto his lap, but he still focused on challenging and complex works in which he struggled against Hollywood's attempts to turn him into a heartthrob - projects such as A Dog Day Afternoon (in which he robbed a bank to pay for the sex reassignment surgery of his boyfriend, played by Chris Sarandon) and, of course, Serpico.

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Days and nights of bottles

May Contain Spoilers

In the biochemistry class during my naive undergraduate years, the professor jokingly said the capability of metabolizing alcohol depends on our genetic makeup. Thanks to the variations in the genes, some people can produce more enzymes or more active enzymes to take care of alcohol in their body. They can be heavy drinkers, or the ones less susceptible to the hazards caused by alcoholism than their fellow drunks.

That may explain the existence of Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), the "laureate of American lowlifes" who lived a relatively long life despite many days and nights of bottles and women at the bars. As Stephen King says in his insightful book "On Writing," writing usually has no business with drinking ("Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn't drink because they were creative, alienated, or morally weak. They drank because it's what alkies are wired up to do."). Sometime there are exceptions like Bukowski. Drinking and writing always came together to him, and he had no problem with that.

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Why video games are indeed Art

May Contain Spoilers

A few days ago, I was one of many critics who panned the film SUCKER PUNCH. Though I hadn't written my own, I advocated several reviews that I felt reflected my sentiments.

Though I agreed in their disapproval, two words kept on reappearing with each negative review I read: "video game." To say that the film draws greatly upon video game aspects is accurate. But with each citation, my fellow critics continue to beat the dead horse of an argument that video games are a meaningless form of mindless entertainment.

I grew up on movies and on video games, and love and respect what they bring to the table. Though I enjoy them on different levels, they both have given me moments of wonder and serious reflection. As an avid gamer and film lover, I find it a shame to see how one medium has gained artistic acceptance while the other continues to be derided by the mainstream. There are many reasons why they are looked down upon, but if you give them a shot, you just might conclude that video games should be considered art.

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They should have sent a poet

May Contain Spoilers

Absolute silence while the Warner logo, the name of the production company and the title of the movie are displayed on the screen. Suddenly, we see ourselves orbiting the Earth while a cacophony of radio and television transmissions confuses us by their sheer volume and sound pollution they cause. Then, slowly, we begin a journey throughout the universe that will last for the next few minutes, taking us far from our old and familiar planet while we experience a kind of time traveling as sounds of our atmosphere become older and older - until, eventually, we are involved by an oppressive silence and we realize that we traveled further than our oldest sound emission. And when we begin to realize the dimension of our surroundings - that goes much beyond our capacity for abstraction -, we are back to the starting point, returning to Earth through the portal represented by the blue and young eyes of Ellie Arroway, our leading character.

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An Evening with Frankenstein

May Contain Spoilers

So exactly what is National Theatre LIVE anyway, you may be wondering?

Simply put, it's a program run by the Royal National Theatre in London, which broadcasts live performances of their productions via satellite, to movie theaters, cinemas and arts centres around the world. If you live in the UK or nearby, you'll see it as a live simulcast; like watching a sporting event. And if you live farther away (Canada) you'll see it as delayed broadcast and what we were shown.

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Man as a lesser species

May Contain Spoilers

One of my earliest and most memorable movie going experiences was Franklin Schaffner's 1968's "Planet of the Apes". It was presented in my grade school's Cine Club (sort of a small film festival that played one different, semi-recent movie every Saturday during a period of about a month). For weeks prior to the showing I was mesmerized by the publicity artwork which depicted a caged Charlton Heston being repressed by a gorilla. As an eight year old the movie originally struck me purely as a horror piece but it is the other "little things" that still compel me to write about it after all these years.

What's more, I believe "Planet of the Apes" with all of its different incarnations: original classic, sequels, remakes and TV adaptations, makes for a wonderful example of cinematic "dos and don'ts" At a glance the first entry in the series may seem like just another monster movie but this is hardly the case. It's too bad neither the majority of the filmmakers involved in the sequels, nor Tim Burton in his remake, were ever able to figure this out.

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He's his mother's right arm. And her left.

May Contain Spoilers

I have a small childhood memory indirectly associated with Alejandro Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre"(1989). I remember well about how it drew the attention of people when it was introduced in South Korea in 1994. One tagline was simple brutal honesty that I still recall with smile: "This is no doubt the cult!" And here is another nice one that makes my eyeballs still roll: "Today, You will be infected by the cult!"They were blatant enough to draw the attention from an 11-year-old boy, but the problems were that (1) I was too young to get the chance to watch it, and (2) my hometown was a local city far from Seoul. However, that was a blessing in disguise. They showed the audiences the butchered version with a considerable amount deleted due to local censorship. In those days, bold, controversial films like "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover" were never introduced to South Korean audiences unless they were heavily chopped. You probably think it is kind of weird considering some uncompromisingly violent South Korean movies made nowadays, but it did happen a lot when I was young.

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But didn't they just now meet?

May Contain Spoilers

In "Certified Copy," his most recent movie, director Abbas Kiarostami adopts an intriguing and surprisingly efficient narrative strategy: after structuring the first half of the film emphasizing the realism and naturalism of the situation and of the dynamic between the characters, he changes the internal logic of the movie in the second half in a subtle but clear way, investing from then on in a tone that flirts with fantasy by establishing a fascinating game involving the main couple.

Written by the director himself, the movie begins with a lecture given by the writer James Milles (Shimell), who has just released a book that defends the importance of replicas of great works of art in a general way. Attending the event is the character played by Juliette Binoche, who owns a gallery and seems to be fascinated by Milles, offering to take him on a tour in Tuscany before he leaves Italy. Disagreeing with some aspects supported by the author in his book, she initiates a discussion while they visit museums and restaurants, until something curious eventually occurs and they start to act and talk as if they were a couple with 15 years of marriage.

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The Shawshank greatness

May Contain Spoilers

Is Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption" the best motion-picture of all time? According to Internet Movie Database users, that is exactly the case. The advent of the internet likely brought together the largest congregation of movie fans in history, ready to express their opinions in the most accessed movie data base ever, and the best rated film there is "The Shawshank Redemption."

This isn't something to take lightly, true, but there are peculiarities about the website's data that needs to be considered. If you've followed their rankings in the past you may have noticed that the response by users to recently released films tends to be more extreme than that of older ones, in other words, a recent good movie might initially appear with a higher rating and a bad one with a lower one; films only seem to reach their rightful place with the passage of time and particularly with the accumulation of a larger number of votes. Their opening weekend is not the most accurate of moments to evaluate what audiences really think about them.

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