The Cloud Atlas – the epic that wasn’t

24 11 2012

The Cloud Atlas

Moral of the review: Simplify for more impact

Two days after having watched this movie and, unfortunately, it was not worth the money put into it (but that is a statement that applies to most movies nowadays).

Pros: I loved how there were really funny parts and really yucky parts side by side, the movie had me going from laughing to not looking forward to seeing what it was about to show in the same minute; the acting was great and the actors are really good; the cinematography is great, despite all the different scenes and action happening it felt like there was still attention paid to detail, for example the scene where Halle Berry is peering through the keyhole and down the barrel of a gun still stands out in my mind’s eye just for the angle it was filmed in.

Cons: All the stories were great and compelling but the connecting thread was still too tenuous.  This is the main con and it is especially present for me because the point of the movie was rooted in really getting that connecting thread.  Was it something about love?  Something about how we repeat our actions but we can not repeat them if we take risks and help (or not) people?  The other con for me about this movie was that it was not an epic yet it had all the feel of trying to be one; I think the stories may have been much more intimately connected if they were kept more grounded, less large and dramatic… some movies gain by keeping them simpler.


Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)

18 09 2010

I have a soft spot for redheads… especially those with long curly hair… it really wasn’t easy seeing him kill redheads.

This is an excellent movie.  The story is unique and fresh, the mood is dark, ethereal, and consistent, the main character (it’s all about the main character) is rich, deep, and he draws you in.  It’s all about the main character but the other actors are excellent too.  They all play minor roles but none of them break the maya beingplayed out in front of the viewers eyes.

Who is this main character?  I had never heard of him: Ben Whishaw.  I hadn’t but he has been getting rave reviews for all his pieces.  Most recently he was in The Tempest (2010), Love Hate (2009), Bright Star (2009), The International (2009), Brideshead Revisited (2008), I’m Not There (2007), Stoned (2005), and Layer Cake (2004), How is his acting in The Perfume: excellent.  The way he embodies his character reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot; to the point where there is no distinction.  In my opinion he’d better ask Day-Lewis how to stay sane and in touch with yourself during a long career acting (or maybe they should both try to figure it out together…).

No need to go into the plot here, but I will say that it involves some very beautiful women dying (though you don’t see much of the dying itself).  So it is mildly disturbing in case you were thinking about taking the 5-year old to see it.

Arlington Road (1999)

15 09 2010

You can often tell a good movie right from the start.
You know how sometimes you see someone and even though they are dressed completely different something inside you says: “That so and so!” and you know it is, and it is, and then perhaps a minute later you question what miniscule details your eyes had caught that had revealed the hidden identity…
Experts will tell you that it is practice.
Some people can look at a couple discussing something or arguing about something and they can tell you, within, less than a minute, less than a few seconds, whether that couple stands a chance of staying together.
Practice fueled by obsession which suddenly reveals a world in the details.

When the movie came on the Portuguese midnight broadcast the details added up and I knew it was worth the watch.  The story of a man fueled by an obsession, an obsession rooted in his wife’s death, driven to notice the details which open his eyes to someone suspicious.  Jeff Bridges does an excellent job as the driven man while Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack portray an excellent creepy couple…

There are a few instances in the movie where the quality may seem to sag, but I must admit that those are well worth the ending.

and you, what is your obsession?  what details are you overly aware of?

der die den Das The experiment 2001 / 2010

11 09 2010

Arghhh.  Such a powerful movie.  Such a powerful concept…

Based on an experiment conducted in 1971, the Stanford Prison Experiment.  An experiment to understand more about violence, and about human nature (I guess that’s why they did it…).  Get a random group of people, divide them into two groups, one group you designate as the Guards and the other as the Prisoners.  Then they get to reenact those roles for the following 2 weeks.  The idea is that, in part, when someone plays a role they end up becoming that which they are enacting.  Ask the nicest group of people to be in a position of power of another group and ultimately the niceis will become abusive and violent.  Brings to mind Nikos Kazantsakis’ book: Christ Recrucified.

Anyway, I first watched the The Experiment 2010 version, with actors Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker and only afterwards did I watch the 2001 version, German version with actor Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run).  The American remake hit me harder.  The German version was more realistic in that they used a fake prison located in a basement, just like the original experiment, while the Americans went and got a real prison.  Also, I think it’s more realistic that they were constantly being watched, the American version left out the role of the observer, the professor completely out.
I think it was the incredible acting of both Brody and Whitaker, but especially Whitaker, that really got to me.  Sure, the main guard captain in the German version really plays the part perfectly (Germans make excellent guards………) but Whitaker was demented!!!

The German version has a 7.9 on IMDB… not sure I’d give such high marks… The American version only got a 6.4.  I give them both a … ah, it’s just a stupid number.  Very good though!

Very powerful.  I strongly recommend both.

Samsara (2001)

9 09 2010

…cycles to the image of the inscribed stone.  The movie itself, beyond the message, is powerful.  It looks like a low-budget movie, it looks like its going to fall into the category of one of those movies where the idea is awesome but the director’s couldn’t focus on how to transmit that idea, but it doesn’t.  The filming is great, the transitions between scenes, between ideas, between characters is intelligent.  It has one of the best sex-scenes I have ever seen on cinema.  It approaches so many topics about living in this world.
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.

What most people will find: it is a long movie and it is slow.  It is not action packed though if you dwell into its world you may find it full of life.

Samsara: “Saṃsāra (sanskrit: संसार) literally meaning “continuous flow”, is the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (i.e. reincarnation) within Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön, Jainism, Sikhism, and other Indian religions. The word has its origins in the sramanic traditions of ancient India, and is today used in many modern Indian languages to refer to the physical world, or family, or the universe. In modern parlance, samsara refers to a place, set of objects and possessions, but originally, the word referred to a process of continuous pursuit or flow of life. In accordance with the literal meaning, the word should either refer to a continuous stream of consciousness, or the continuous but random drift of passions, desires, emotions and experiences.” – From Wikipedia (if its from Wikipedia then it’s got to be true).

As an overview, this movie is about a tibetan man who became a monk at a very early age.  After a powerful session of meditation he finds his thoughts wondering towards earthly desires (SEX) and decides to became a family man.  It follows his trials and tribulations, his inner battle.  Treading the minefield of desires.  It follows him to his breaking point and to the moment he is faced with a choice in his life.  At that point he breaks down in tears, looks at both paths, and in the middle the camera cycles to the image of the inscribed stone…

Inception (2010)

1 08 2010

The dream within a dream within a dream within a dream.

Another recommended movie.

This is a much more commercial movie than the ones I normally give a thumbs up to.  In fact, I’m surprised that this isn’t based on a Korean movie dating back a decade… is it?  I can’t find a link to that but I did find a Bollywood remake of Inception that is in the makings.

Anyway.  I’m giving it the thumbs up because the acting is good (when they have to act and not just do a stunt), the idea of the plot is excellent (more on this in the thumbs down section), the images are way cool!

Thumbs downs are because: for a lot of the movie they kept revealing some extra detail.  I think of that scene in Thank You For Smoking:
Jeff Megall
: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they’re looking to make.
Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?
Jeff Megall: It’s the final frontier, Nick.
Nick Naylor: But wouldn’t they blow up in an all oxygen environment?
Jeff Megall: Probably. But it’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue. ‘Thank God we invented the… you know, whatever device.’

I’d encourage simplicity, not revelation upon revelation upon revelation.

The other thumbs down is just something I didn’t get.  I didn’t really notice a significant time different between the real and dream worlds when the guy was driving the truck; but when he starts falling THEN the shift is really played upon.

And the final thumbs down was because it didn’t seem plausible how synchronized all the “kicks” ended up being; they are all super rushing to get their kick on and they all end up so perfectly.  Of course it’s a movie… I just mean, not plausible like in that scene in Mission Impossible where Cruise explodes the helicopter and the explosion sends him onto the train…. yawn…

Overall, definitely a movie to go watch and definitely to watch in the cinema or imax where the eye candy can overpower the neurons.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

31 07 2010

Da Dum!!


You have all been waiting for my return!

Cheer  –  Applause  –   Yayyyy

And here we are, you and me and the hot seriously-traumatized-lesbian-Girl-With-The-photographic-memory-and-the-Dragon-Tattoo

A great movie in my honestest opinion.  Wait, what you don’t have anything bad to say about this one?
Humm, let me see, if I were to point out some defect I’m sure I could.
For example, Harriet’s character… damn, she looks really out of this world.  I mean, when she shows up in the house she looks like a transvestite (and I am not saying this to be mean or to use “transvestite” as a negative adjective).  Maybe that’s how Swedish people see Australians… or maybe they just went overboard with imagining how tanned a Swedish person would look if they went to life in the Australian outback… maybe they didn’t go overboard… I don’t know but she looks off.

Other defects… not really.  The acting is excellent, the plot is excellent, the camera shots very good (could be better), and the script … well I wish I knew Swedish (the translations weren’t super awesome).

Go out and watch this.  I think I’m going to go buy the book and read it in bed with my wife.

Oh, and p.s. I CAN’T wait to see how the american remake is going to fuck up this great movie!!!