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The Strangers (2008)
Mainly atmospheric sound effects
Omit the sound effects and what have you left? Not very much.
If you watch this film alone at night you'll find it pretty scary. Especially the knocking on the door. It's hard to know which door it is. Is it the door in the film or is it your own? The knocking starts again. It's quite frightening. Hang on to your seat.
There is little dialogue which is a pity because it's hard to understand what's happening. Sure, we know it's night time and there's a young couple making love in a house but who are these masked strangers determined to enter and why? It happens that the couple have an old shot gun on an upper shelf which the man uses in self defence. The intruder collapses with a nasty wound to the head. If you are of mild temperament you may wish to throw up when the camera gives you a close-up of the wound. Shattered flesh is not pretty.
Apart from that incident most of the time is spent searching for shadowy figures among the trees outside. The couple try to escape in their car but the car is rammed by another which appears out of the darkness. Another unexplained incident.
When the girl is left alone in the house she seems to spend an interminable time creeping around with a carving knife in her hand. Stupidly she throws back the curtains and there's a threatening face at the window. Screams and more screams.
In the end a couple of school boys passing on their bikes find the couple bound and bloodied on the floor. One of the boys moves forward to touch the woman. What better way to end this creepy film than another loud and terrifying scream?
Ladder 49 (2004)
Just enough excitement to lift it above average
This film is about courage and comradeship and the constant concern for our endangered loved ones. A fireman's lot is a life fraught with danger as he faces raging fires day after day. Hell on earth, you might say.
Jack Morrison (Joachim Phoenix) is the main character of our story. A brave man willing to risk his life to save others. A truly courageous man to be sure, but he is just one of many. His comrades work as a team leaning on each other for help in every desperate situation.
Viewers will enjoy the exciting fire scenes of which there are about half a dozen. Rescuing a man from a window sill high up on a skyscraper, falling through a roof into billowing flames, carrying a young girl overcome with smoke down stairways choked with flames to the safety of a waiting ambulance . These are just some of the incidents that Jack's wife watches on her television set. She dreads the day he may not come home.
On the whole the burning buildings look fairly authentic although I thought some of the flames inside the buildings appeared to be appropriately placed jets of burning gas. The oxygen masks were very loose fitting and I wondered how efficient they would be in the smoke-filled rooms. Actors talking through masks are difficult to hear and I had some problems here, but I got the meaning.
There is a tearful ending at a funeral service when Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta in a supporting role)) recounts the courage of all firemen inviting the congregation to stand in their honour. He remembered the day when Jack Morrison started as a rookie fireman sweeping the floors when things were quiet and handling the nozzle of the hoses when in action. From those early days he climbed the ladder to recognition for his courage and unforgettable bravery.
This film will make every fireman feel good about himself, although he may have a quiet chuckle at some of the techniques used in fighting fires in buildings on the point of collapse.
Flawless! The diamonds perhaps. The film? I don't think so!
The members of the Diamond Corporation would have a great laugh at this film while watching the antics of a janitor (Michael Caine) and top executive ( Demi Moore) planning the theft of diamonds from the Corporation.
The characters played by the stars are convincing enough but the actual story is completely unbelievable.
The hundreds of million dollars worth of rough diamonds are stored in a room behind a massive door that can only be opened when the combinations of three locks are known. Having discovered the codes our somewhat nervous thieves conspire to work together on a plan which requires clockwork precision. She is to telephone the security officer who is watching all rooms on digital screens at a precise moment to distract him from his job. At that moment the janitor with utmost accuracy opens the security door to the diamonds. If that were not unbelievable enough he then scoops up buckets of rough diamonds and flushes them down into the underground sewer to be recovered later. How improbable! There is a nervous moment when the janitor having finished the job and having just left the building is called back You think that this is the end of his little plan, but no .one of the executives wants him to clear a toilet which happens to be blocked. You guessed it .by a massive cut diamond. Are we meant to take this seriously? On the positive side the film sets are smartly presented with the staff of cutters and polishers all in black suits entering the building in military precision. The processing of the rough stones is interesting and of course the final diamonds are so magnificent. I enjoyed this part of the film.
The voices worried me a bit. I know Michael Caine likes to do a Cockney accent which immediately puts his character into a certain social strata. As for Demi Moore she spoke with an American accent which I found difficult at times. English sub-titles would be a great advantage and would have made the story easier to follow.
Flawless? The diamonds perhaps; the film? I don't think so!
Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)
Great title for an intriguing film
You probably have not seen anything quite like this before nor would you want to see lots more based on a similar theme. But for the moment this turns out to be quite intriguing, rather original and so absorbing that it seems that you yourself are actually a part of the proceedings. Just imagine, if you can, lying helpless completely paralyzed except for the fact that you can blink just one eye. Would you welcome a quick death or would you want to communicate with others if such an event were possible?.
This film portrays a man bent on publishing a book by the slow process of choosing letters that are spoken to him simply by blinking his eye once for yes and twice for no. The words are written down by a secretary, the words become paragraphs, the paragraphs pages, the pages chapters. A slow process to be sure but what an accomplishment.
At one stage I thought I saw his lip quiver, a slight noise in his throat. Could it be possible I thought that he might be at the beginning of the road to recovery? A wishful thought indeed. A stupid thought. Here was a man imprisoned in his own body like a mariner in a diving bell.
The story line is limited. Not much can happen to a paralyzed man lying in a hospital bed. But he can hear the doctors and carers talking and his memory can take full flight as he recalls happier days. There is a scene where two men from the telephone company come to connect a telephone to his bedside so that he can hear his wife speak. The sarcastic remarks of the installers are cruel indeed.
Enjoyment is hardly the word to describe this film. Involvement is the word I think. When the film is over and the credits roll you will be a somewhat different person having become so involved in the details of his care.
Much praise must be given to the script writers who had the job of presenting the story in an interesting way. I found the dribbling of saliva from the twisted lips a down to earth detail and the rolling of the eyeball an amazing interpretation of frustration (and a little bit scary).
The reverse motion cinema-photography at the end puts everything back together again Or so it seems. If only our problems could be fixed so easily. This is a true life story and the man involved died soon after his book was published.
A quite remarkable thoughtful film. Congratulations to all concerned.
Makes you think, especially about meat pies!
Dark shadowy streets and poorly-lit rooms introduce us to a gloomy Dickensian atmosphere which is maintained through most of the film. Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) is not a cheerful fellow. How could he be? Judge Turpin who once condemned him to prison has stolen his wife Lucy and their little daughter Johanna.
Mrs.Lovett(Helena Bonham Carter)who sells meat pies is one of his few friends. She has a spare room above her shop which she says would make a good barber shop. Some say Sweeney is the best barber in London. He probably is. Certainly better than Pirelli (Sacha Baron Cohen). So Sweeney sets up shop which meets with Mrs.Lovett's approval.
This horror musical is a story of revenge as Sweeney sets his sights on the Judge luring him to his barber's chair where a quick shave promises an opportunity to slit his throat. Mrs.Lovett enters unannounced and the opportunity is lost. Sweeney's fit of uncontrollable rage makes him more determined than ever as he plunges into despair on the point of madness.
Art decoration and costumes are award winners for this film as are the principal players for their perfect characterizations. Most of the dialogue is sung in this Sondheim musical. Half sung half spoken and with a Cockney accent is a triumph for the actors. "My friends" has a sinister appeal as Sweeney gloats over his shiny cut-throat razors; "Johanna" his daughter is captive in the Judge's house. "While I'm around" is one of my favourites.
At the depth of his madness Sweeney makes alterations to his barber's chair so that he can tip it backwards after murdering his victims. The bodies are directed to the basement where the human flesh can be put through a mincer and the bones discarded into the blazing furnace. The pie shop flourishes with its popular meaty pies. Mrs.Lovettsays it's a shame to waste the meat, it being quite expensive and hard to come by.
Some people might not appreciate the bloody mess as Sweeney hacks at the jugular veins of his victims. It is not a pretty sight. However I find the basement scene where the human mince disgorges from the mincer even more horrifying. Add to this the complaints from residents of the awful smells issuing from the premises and we get a fair picture of the situation.
There is some relief from the dreary atmosphere when Mrs.Lovett dreams of a day by the seaside. The screen is suddenly filled with sunshine and joyous colours so different from the world in which she lives.
This is a splendid production, well put together with every detail attended to. Some might argue that in certain scenes there is too much detail. But there can be no argument that the Sondheim musical has been transferred from the stage to the screen in the most admirable fashion.
It's a devilish boring film
I was drawn to watch this movie because of the somewhat amusing title and I noted it was a film by Sidney Lumet. Will I never learn? I have always said that you can't judge a book by its cover and you can put movie titles into the same category. I was hoping for a gripping thriller. No such luck. While I can't fault the acting, the characters they played were rather boring and I found it quite an effort to stay awake. I would have appreciated some sub-titles as my hearing is not the best, but if I understood every word, it would still not be a major film for me. I cannot understand why any reviewer would give this film 10/10. That indicates a perfect score; and in no way is this film a piece of perfect entertainment. I liked the robbery in the jeweller's shop. It was tense and believable. The best part of a very ordinary film. The double shoot out was great. Pity the film did not end there. Sorry Mr. Lumet, but that's how it is with me.
A baby's smile lightens up a dull and uninspiring film
The story starts well. We find ourselves in a land of little people
. A happy lot living peacefully in idyllic beauty. Just like in the Bible story of Moses floating down stream in a basket, a baby is found on the edge of the river. What's to be done? The problem is that it's not a baby of the little people so someone will have to take it safely back to the land of the big people. Unfortunately the evil Queen has been told of the arrival of the promised child whom she believes will usurp her power over the earth. She calls on her soldiers to find the child and kill it. Didn't Herod have a similar idea? Is this going to be a story based on the Bible? A dwarf called Willow has the unpleasant job of carrying the baby to safety beyond the river through dangerous territory. The evil Queen's soldiers are everywhere so it won't be easy. Willow is a bit of a magician at heart and the wizard has given him some advice. The rest of the story is an adventure as Willow and the baby overcome every imaginable adversity.
When Willow reaches the vicinity of the Queen's castle he is in grave danger of the Queen's wrath and cruel intent. Despite their numbers the soldiers are indeed sadly lacking in military manoeuvres. Willow and the baby keep dodging the soldiers as a fierce battle rages around them. I found these battle scenes uninspiring. They did not excite and continued for far too long. The two headed monster brought some relief but on the whole the final overthrow of the Queen should have been much more gripping.
The baby has a sweet smile and will warm many hearts in an otherwise dreary film. The character Willow is a man of good and kind heart and has a good rapport with the baby. Val Kilmer plays a likable rogue among the big people. The character of the Queen is nicely portrayed as one of the most cruel and evil kind. The remainder of the cast fit nicely into the fantasy. The weakness is the unimaginative aspects of the story. On the whole very disappointing.
10,000 BC (2008)
Extensive credits give some idea of the work involved in this imaginative tale.
What a task it must have been to write about events which might have taken place so long ago. Personally I would not know where to start. While not original, a love story might add a little interest to a series of exciting events. Such is the case here.
The writers borrow ideas from the old Testament (the tribe in question is waiting for a messiah who will lead them to peace and victory over their wild neighbours) as well as from George Bernard Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion" (Androcles removes a thorn from a lion's paw and the lion remembers his kind action). There are other ideas used many of which we have seen before in other films.
I think most of the reviewers have been too critical of this film. Forget anachronisms, I say. Just relax and enjoy the expansive sets, huge casts and non-stop action. Let your imagination take over. It's just an exercise in what might have been.
Steven Strait is a bit of a charmer in the leading role of the young man who saves his tribe. Unafraid of the gigantic mammoths and huge cats, he well deserves the white spear for his bravery. But high marks go first to the film's director who had some mighty big tasks in putting all those wild tribes into believable situations such as fighting the mammoths or building the pyramids.
I was sorry his girl friend got a nasty spear through her body, but I'm not telling what happened after that except that the tribe had a Wise Mother who seemed to know the answers to all life's problems.
One of the criticisms not mentioned by others was the fact that I felt the costuming was a little too modern. The climatic changes were a bit puzzling with flooding rains and snow storms and sandy deserts. A huge problem for the wardrobe designers, I would think. Scenes of the slaves building the pyramids would be more effective if they were lashed with whips on their half-naked bodies. I think generally speaking all characters should have worn less clothes and clothes that had been roughly put together considering 10000 BC is a mighty long time ago.
Get Smart (2008)
Not funny. Not clever. Not smart.
I enjoy a good comedy but this one has something missing. I guess it's the lack of a good script I have to admit I did not see the original TV series. I watched "Get Smart" on DVD but scarcely raised a laugh. There's lots of action but no substance. Most of the scenes are forgettable. The dance with the fat lady led to nothing. Slightly amusing was the secret service agent Max seeking something hot from a street stall bakery. Then he was eavesdropping listening to a couple of Russians while making staccato squirts into a urinal , stopping and starting as he listened to their plotting.. At least that episode was original. Perhaps the most exciting sequence was secret service agents getting tangled in a banner flying high in the sky "Suicide. Don't do it".. Over all the effects were quite well done, but the story was no more than a collection of unrelated adventures. The actors were easy on the eyes but deserve better. Sometimes I think that the actors get more fun out of the so-called comedy than the paying audience.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004)
Fact versus faith
The story centres around an event that took place in Peru when five people crossing a rope bridge fell to their death. The question then arose.......Was it a chance happening OR was it an act of God? Brother Juniper a man of the cloth attacks the problem in a factual way by door knocking the friends and relatives of the victims and compiling a biography of each individual in the hope that all five may have something in common. When the resultant volume fell into the hands of the Spanish Inquisition, Brother Juniper was found guilty of heresy and subsequently burnt at the stake with all his books.
Early in the story we see the swinging bridge high up above a treacherous looking ravine. It is quite ominous and frightening. I for one would never dare to cross it.
Thornton Wilder's story of the five victims who for various reasons were in the party ready for the crossing is really heavy going. I watched the DVD a second time for a better understanding, but with no English sub-titles I missed a lot of the dialogue. Basically the film covers the cross examination of Brother Juniper's activities with flashbacks showing details of the lives of the victims. I am not sure if it was the script or the poor editing but I got terribly confused with the characters at times. Robert de Niro as the Catholic Archbishop was unrelentless in his pursuit of the confiscation of the observations recorded by Brother Juniper. The Church he said was built on steadfast faith on which Brother Juniper seemed to cast doubt and should therefore die..
Costuming and sets were excellent. I found the linking of the scenes somewhat haphazard and consequently difficult to follow. The final scene in which the frayed ropes of the bridge finally give way is utterly terrifying as we watch the travelers drop to their death in the waters at the base of the ravine. We knew it was about to happen as the tight ropes begin to split and open but at what precise moment the bridge will snap keeps us on the edge of our seat. . I give an extra mark for this scene.
Summing up, a good subject but needs to be retold in a more expert manner.
Les demoiselles de Rochefort (1967)
I have such pleasant memories of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (which I found quite moving)that perhaps I was expecting too much of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.
The story is pretty flimsy. A couple of young ladies (twins) seeking the men of their dreams. Of course they finally find them and every one is happy.
There is a lot of dancing ( but I thought the choreography was poor and the ensembles ragged) and I'm afraid the songs of which there were many were not at all catching or toe-tapping. Gene Kelly's dancing was not up to scratch either.
Jacques Demy's bright carnival atmosphere gave the film a lift and as always Michel Legrand's music gave strength to the production. The exaggerated wigs worried me a bit as they detracted from the beauty of the twins. Perhaps I am out of my depth when it comes to women's coiffure or may be I just don't remember the oddities of the 60's.
Jacques Demy redeemed himself with his brilliant fairy tale "Donkey Skin" which I thoroughly recommend.
If you think I have been harsh in condemning the unimaginative choreography of Les Demoiselles watch "Across the Universe" and you will appreciate what I mean.
Long Way Round (2004)
Just one long adventure
First of all I thought I was going to see two bikies make a long and dangerous journey on their motor bikes from the U.K. to New York. I soon realized of course they had a back up team who followed them and helped them when the journey got too tough.
I got the impression that Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor whilst being motor bike enthusiasts did not know a lot about the engineering aspects and relied on others to help them in distress.
Some of the roads encountered were no more than tracks with deep pot holes filled with water. There were numerous rivers to be crossed, so many in fact one wonders how well researched their journey was in the early preparation of the long trip.
The cameraman who rides the third bike is rarely seen because the documentary is about Charlie and Ewan.
The warm relationship between Charlie and Ewan is felt throughout the film and the love they had for their wives and children was forever in their thoughts as they journeyed through lands which seemed devoid of people. Occasionally though they did meet families who opened their homes to them and gave them a comfortable bed for the night. Ewan remarked on the friendliness of every stranger implying that we human beings are really the same the world over despite our different languages and physical features. Food differences can be a problem at times and one can gag at even the thought of it.
The journey is very long and no more than a minute can be devoted to some of the interesting places they visited. The film is divided into 10 episodes with a large proportion of the time spent in Mongolia. The Road of Bones over which our bikies travelled snakes its way for many miles and remains as a memoriam to the millions who died while constructing it and there bodies interred where they fell.
When I set out to watch the 3 DVDs I thought I might find them a bit repetitive and may be boring, but it proved to be otherwise. The more I watched the more interested I became and I felt a little disappointed when their journey ended. It was really good sharing their trip in the comfort of my lounge chair and to hear their cries of "We made it! We made it!" mixed with a few tears when they reached the end of their journey.
One from the Heart (1981)
Review in two words: No good!
What a lot of work went into a big time musical that just did not pay off. The recreation of Las Vegas in the big sound studios was well done with the brassy atmosphere and flashing lights giving us a riot of sound and colour. It's good to be experimental with the effects but sometimes it's better not to go too far. I found the singing voices superimposed on the airport noises were annoying to say the least. A lot of the images too are superimposed. A little might be acceptable but too much is bewildering.
The theme of the film is summed up in the song "You don't know what you've got till you've lost it". A couple of lovers argue over nothing, break up, and go their own way seeking new partners. A vindictive act to teach each other a lesson.
The beginning of the film and the end are the best parts with very little substance in between.
Like the acting the songs were not particularly impressive and I really did not like the characters The failure of the film at the box office is not surprising. May be those reviewers who gave high recommendations saw themselves in the devastating break up between the lovers.
I really cannot find very much to praise except perhaps the development of the atmosphere both visual and sound. All in all it's a costly experiment that went wrong and did not attract me in the least and I dare say many others.
No future in this one
I think the one word title got me in. It did not give anything away. But titles mean nothing.
This film just got sillier and sillier as the gifted magician (Nicholas Cage) used his special powers to counter future events. Winding back time is not a new theme in movies. Experts have been sent back in time to change events thus saving the world from disaster. It's a case of wishful thinking that's beyond belief. Messing around with time seems to have fascinated lots of writers.
I like imaginative stories, but this one did not inspire me. The idea of a Government using a gifted person to locate and defuse a nuclear bomb seemed a bit far-fetched to me. After all, his seeing into the future was limited to 2 minutes, so he had to work very fast with events that changed every minute.
The huge cast and crew and costly production was such a waste. It's a pity that someone could not have looked into the future and realized that this film would turn out to be a dud
The Safety of Objects (2001)
Weaving four stories can sometimes end in a bit of confusion
Attracted by the strange title I decided to watch the movie for an explanation. Having watched the film I was none the wiser and somewhat confused with the interweaving of four short stories There were lots of characters in these four families (too many for me) and what might have been an interesting expose of their lives turned out to be very ordinary.
I have to say the actors did well in their individual roles but as characters they failed to get me involved in their every day lives. I thought Glenn Close did quite a remarkable interpretation of a mother grieving over her first born son. The plastic bag scene was the high light of the film. It was done with such emotional intensity. Very little of the remainder of the film reached this high standard.
It is not a cheerful film. Very few of the characters seemed to be really happy. All had their problems. Perhaps it was all too much like real life. And if you cannot find solace in other human beings you must look beyond for other objects.
Isn't it true that during our lives we surround ourselves with familiar objects that give us a sense of security? You know the feeling that one gets after arriving home after a very long journey. A certain warm glow pervades your being because this is home, this is security, so much is familiar and you find at last the desired safety of objects.
Jesus Camp (2006)
How not to treat kids
Watching this documentary made me feel quite sick to learn that kids are being indoctrinated in this cruel way. It is heart-breaking to see kids writhing on the floor tears in their fearful eyes. I did not feel that those children were receiving much love from the pastors. Their little hearts were filled with the fighting spirit, yes and some hatred too. Jesus said "I am the Way". He did not say "Hate and kill". Remember his command, difficult though it might be..."Love your enemies!"
I am so glad that the Jesus Camp has been closed down indefinitely. That is great news. Hopefully most of the children will be saved.
Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
Another blue-eyed Jesus
With such perfection at every moment of this film, I failed to understand why Jesus was portrayed with blue eyes which were rarely smiling. Perhaps it sets him apart from all the other characters and as we know blue eyes can be exceedingly piercing and hypnotic. The director uses this to great effect in the many facial close-ups.
The film starts quietly as the story unfolds clearly following the gospels of the new testament. Suddenly we meet shaggy-haired John the Baptist knee deep in the River Jordan inviting sinners to repent and be saved. Michael York really gets inside the character with his incredible religious fanaticism. He lifts the drama to a new plane and the scenes that follow gather in strength and have great dramatic appeal.
I admire a director who can control such crowd scenes of which there are many in the film. The garb worn looks authentic as do the beards and the settings are beyond reproach both inside and out. Artistically a real masterpiece.
Despite the severity of the crucifixions, Zeferelli avoids over-indulgence in bloody close-ups. Jesus while hanging on the Cross does not get speared in the side. Nonetheless his few words "It is finished" and his limp body as it is carried away for burial says it all.
Not all his miracles are shown, but those that are could form the basis of hours of argument. In the "Loaves and fishes scene" the fish miraculously multiplied in the baskets and the followers quickly sank their teeth into the raw unscaled fish. Much was made of the miracles where people were brought back to life after death. Perhaps Jesus was indicating that with faith this was possible and was paving the way for an understanding of his own resurrection later.
Of great interest is the casting of the film. So many great actors were recruited. I guess everyone likes to be part of a successful production.
The Monkey's Mask (2000)
Best to leave it in book form
I could not find anything interesting in this film. Prose and poetry divided into chapter headings and dished up as an experimental film failed as a piece of entertainment. Let it be a lesson to other film makers.
Don't be misled by the title. The writer chose the title before she wrote the book because she rather liked the Japanese haiku of that name. Believe me, there are no monkeys or masks, but after due consideration they might have livened up the film.
The sex scenes were passable but with little delicacy. The writer said she had hoped for a more grubby presentation of those scenes. I could not see much point in the scene where the woman walks into a room with her panties off. Do lesbians like to advertise their pubic hair? On the positive side the cinema photography was excellent. Glimpses of Sydney harbour and its famous bridge put me in a great mood anticipating what beautiful scenes might follow. Alas! What a strange mixture.
In one of the final scenes we see a notice warning people to take care because the Sydney Harbour rocks are slippery. I waited in trepidation because i was sure something terrible was about to take place. But no! We hear a man addressing a lesbian investigator ...."Thank you for making love to my wife; you sure put a light in her eyes".
I'd be surprised to learn if a film like this could prove to be a profitable venture. My recommendation: AVOID!
Love Actually (2003)
Love is a many-splendoured thing
I thought that the world was spinning on its axis because of the big bang billions of years ago, but after watching this film I've come to the conclusion that it's love that makes the world go round.. And what a busy little film it is with so many characters burdened down with so many difficult relationships. At first I was somewhat confused as a multitude of characters were introduced ,but slowly I was able to sort out the couples and their particular problems.
It's a happy film set a few weeks before Christmas with the street illuminations decorating many of the scenes. The dialogue is suitably punctuated with songs many of which were familiar to me. I actually found myself tapping my feet in some scenes. This is unusual for me.
The large cast had a nice variety of characters, too many to comment on all. I liked Hugh Grant as the English Prime Minister and some of the impossible situations he found himself in. Some of the scriptwriting was surprisingly frank relating to the President of the United States. Love has no boundaries it seems when a young boy makes a determined effort to meet the girl of his dreams by breaking all security rules at the airport. And what a devilish invention the telephone is when it rings at the most inappropriate moments.
As Shakespeare said " The course of true love never did run smooth'. No, it never did and it never will. But that's love actually.
The Number 23 (2007)
Something different for Jim Carrey & something original for movie goers
This film is worth seeing both for its original theme and for the stunning dramatic performance of Jim Carrey. It's a psychological thriller about obsessive behaviour that can drive a victim to madness.
Numbers are a part of our every day lives whether we are concerned with distance, time. prices or a day at the races. A number on a baker's van could foretell the winner of the steeplechase. All you have to do is convince yourself that numbers are more than just numbers; they have a special message or a special meaning.
In this movie the number 23 is all important, and a rare book published on the subject has 22 chapters which Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) lives by. The interpretation of the numerological arguments gets him into a lot of trouble including some wild and dangerous nightmares.
It is completely fascinating that important dates of world events when separated into single digits can add up to 23; not just one or two events but very many. You are more than half convinced there is something in it. But while you are thinking about it Walter comes to some serious conclusions and makes accusations that will change not only his life but the lives of others.
For something original and different, this film fits the bill. I loved the epilogue.....a quote from the Holy Bible. And would you believe it, verse 23?
Bee Season (2005)
Lots of words and no communication
I love playing with words and language although I never thought that they could have a mystical quality. Some words are strange like the palindromes and some words have all the vowels in them and others in foreign languages seem to get by with almost no vowels at all.
If you intend entering a spelling bee contest you must be well read and have a good memory. In this film you will be introduced to many words you did not know existed. One of the key words in this film story is the Japanese "origami", but I am not telling you why.
The story centres around a little girl called Eliza, a real little champion when it comes to spelling. When she closes her eyes and meditates she can see the letters. It is a strange and mystical moment. Her father recognizes in his daughter a special spiritual gift which allows her (it seems) to commune with God.
She asks her father a strange question. "Is God red?" The importance of this question is revealed in the closing sequences of the film. Moments that send shivers down your spine. An all absorbing riveting moment as she hesitantly spells out the all important word in the National Contest.
Her father spends many hours coaching his daughter in the hope that she will develop her mystical powers, something which he himself had never quite attained. Unfortunately he was so absorbed in this task, he neglected the needs of his wife and son. There seemed to be no communication between the family members. His family life was shattered like a glass vessel smashed into a hundred shards. The story suggests that in some mystical way love and communion with God can recreate the whole.
All the roles are well-played. I thought the argument between father and son was particularly well done. The girl from the Hare Krishna group was like a breath of fresh air to a troubled family. And mother's nervous breakdown brought us into a fantastic world of stolen glass fragments.
Altogether I think the film was completely absorbing and the ending well thought out. After all,it seems that sacrifice and love can mend a broken world.
Der junge Törless (1966)
Could have been a really dramatic piece
"Young Torless" could have been a much more dramatic film. It's based on a book I haven't read and I'm told much of the events described in the book are either omitted altogether or simply glossed over. Perhaps the film was heavily censored. I did get that feeling. The setting was a boarding school for boys with constant bullying of the weaker individuals and there was a passing reference to some homosexual encounters If the students had little previous experience as actors it was a credit to the director to reach the standard that was attained, but on the whole the acting was rather bland and lacked dramatic impact. In the scene where the boy is strung up by his feet, he should have been stripped naked hanging like a carcass at the abattoirs. Just imagine how much more demeaning and humiliating this would have been and would have given the school authorities more reason to take strong action against the perpetrators. In the film Torless who is pretty much inactive most of the time as a cold detached observer of the bullying going on around him bursts out with a speech about the fine line between good and evil while the school authorities sit and listen in quiet contemplation. The mathematics tutor was of little help to anyone including Torless.
The black and white photography added the right touch to the mood of the film but the script was far too bland. Even the scene with the prostitute was a bit of a let down and did not raise much excitement with the school boys.
The Wedding Party (1969)
I chose to watch the DVD because Robert De Niro was included in the cast. It turned out that he was a member of the supporting cast in a role of no great importance. It was however of historical interest to see him in one of his earliest roles.
Charles Pfluger played the role of Charlie a frustrated young man uncertain if he should fulfil his wedding commitments. Many a man has had an attack of the jitters just before marriage so he will have many sympathizers. The film is broken up into chapters each covering the events that lead up to the marriage ceremony. In the lead role Charles Pfluger outshone all the actors The film is a farcical comedy that uses accelerated motion to get laughs. The nonsensical behaviour of men overloading a car with luggage and falling out of the car as they do so was shear clowning and not particularly funny or clever. Speeding off and then returning to pick up luggage which had fallen off was pathetic.
I don't know what they were doing in the cutting room. There were some abrupt changes which suggested some of the frames had been omitted.
One thing is certain . The music dominated the film. It was deafening at times and drowned out the dialogue. This may have been intentional especially in the dinner scenes and party scenes in which everyone talks at once and nobody listens or replies. This is typical of all parties where drinks flow freely.
Many of the actors tried hard to become amusing characters by assuming annoying voices that were very false and did not ring true.
On the whole a disappointing comedy.
Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Imagine two old ladies with their housekeeper living at the beach in a Cornwall village. There they are with their pretty garden, a daily walk by the sea and memories of their younger days. A violent storm one night throws up an unconscious man on to the beach. The old ladies find him. He is breathing . They call for help. From that day on their lives are changed for ever.
This is a beautiful film, exceptionally well-acted with emotions simmering below the surface throughout. There are no serious outbursts, no explosive arguments but the old ladies continually vie for the young man's attention. They take him to their home, feed him and care for him until his broken ankle is healed. He is Polish and knows no English. They give him daily lessons. What a handsome treasure the sea has yielded.
There are some sad moments in the film and some amusing moments too. The ladies watch each other all the time each trying to find a reason to enter the young man's bedroom. He is truly spoiled with love and attention. Much to their surprise he turns out to be a competent violinist so when he can walk he plays some merry tunes for dances at the local pub.
When Olga a Russian artist holidaying by the sea learns he can play so well, she persuades him to meet her brother who is a top musician in London. The old ladies begin to feel that their pearl from the ocean is being stolen from them.
By the end of the film you feel you know the ladies so well. You understand their feelings and their changing moods, their hopes and disappointments. Maggie Smith and Judi Dench are priceless as Janet and Ursula and Daniel Bruhl makes a handsome Andrea a foreigner who puts a sparkle back into their lives.
The theme of the film gives an ample opportunity to introduce some fine music and Daniel makes a convincing concert violinist. All in all a really handsome film not to be missed.
Red Eye (2005)
Certainly not a promotional film for air ways travel
Meeting strangers can be fun. It can be the beginning of a life-long friendship. And at the end of a long day how nice it is to talk about sweet nothings on the red eye special. But not this time. Beware of the man who buys you a drink. He'll want something in return.
Wes Craven exploits these ideas in his remarkably gripping tale of drama at 30,000 feet. Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) is the somewhat naïve hotel employee who becomes the target of Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy) a hired killer whose job is to ensure that the party to be murdered at a seaside hotel occupies a certain room number. Lisa who is in charge of room reservations is the one who can arrange it. Jackson threatens to kill Lisa's father if she refuses to call the hotel from the plane to make the room change.
Rachel is lovely to look at. She portrays Lisa as a sweet young girl who turns into a raging tiger in her moments of self-preservation. Cillian uses his eyes to maximum advantageous as the determined villain Jackson. The two make an interesting pair as the conversation proceeds. Apparently he has been stalking her for several months. Lisa is becoming decidedly uneasy as the facts are revealed, but hemmed in on a window seat there's not much she can do.
Wes Craven keeps up the pace throughout. This gives you little time to seriously analyse some of the situations. There must be easier and less expensive ways of eliminating a man than shelling his hotel room from a boat anchored off-shore.
The film ends with a high speed chase as Lisa is pursued. She aims well with chairs and vases and walking sticks. She's not bad with a gun too although her best effort is a swift plunge with a pen to the throat. Jackson becomes extremely croaky after that. In the end everyone is happy including the audience. This time they get their money's worth.