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Second in a three part series
To be fair I accidentally watched half of this film before realizing I was in the second part of a series. At which point I went back to the first film and wondered whether I need have bothered. This sounds like a criticism but is not. Unlike a lot of series the two films blend together seamlessly and you get many flashbacks from the first part.
It is a loosely faithful version of the famous manga series. Japanese manga have an ability to take you into a mysterious world and keep you intrigued and with an appetite for more. Death Note was similarly interesting in the way it converted to film and kept this charm. You have to accept that it comes from the world of manga as quite simply most of the plot and characters are larger than life and flawed in a gorgeous manga kind of way.
The manga films that don't work for me are the likes of transformers which is taking itself far too seriously but I digress.
What makes this series compelling is the connection to religious cults that fascinate the Japanese people in real life. The acting is above average and the special effects work without being over bearing or loud action for the sake of it.
You need to concentrate as it weaves like a good mystery novel. The last 30 minutes are excellent and build you up to a bit of a let down at the end but there is enough to make you want to see the last part.
A Sound of Thunder (2005)
Rarely have I seen a film this bad. A futuristic movie that is hard to understand, poorly explained (even with the actor's monologues), pretty badly acted and with dreadful special effects. It could be a candidate for B Movie of the year but it takes itself too seriously for that and there are few laughs to be had at its expense. There is one scene where two actors are walking on the street with CGI cars and stores around them that look like something out of a 80s/90s computer game. That made me laugh. If you watch this movie after these comments you deserve a medal so do something better with your time... anything... even watching paint dry has to be more entertaining!
Bad Boy Bubby (1993)
Unusual almost horrific
A very strange and at times dark film that is basically in two parts. The first is Bubby as a prisoner to his mother, kept from going out under various threats that scare him. The second is his release from the basement into a world as mad as his other one.
Nick Hope as Bubby is brilliant. He has had no education but can copy what has been said to him. In this bizarre almost Monty Pythonesque way he stumbles around his new world with sayings he has picked up from either his mother or estranged father. Everyone he meets adds to his vocabulary until he has a weird, twisted dictionary that is used to successfully front a rock band with. Very odd, cleverly directed and worth checking out but not for the faint hearted.
I saw this on a JAL flight and then bought the DVD last week as it has just been released in Japan. The DVD has a whole disc of extras which are very funny giving mini stories into some of the lesser seen characters in the film and the usual documentaries. However the extras are in Japanese, though the movie has English subtitles.
As for the film. It immediately hit with me because though the film focuses on the world of high school ping pong, it is really a story about two boys who play the game. More important is their view on the competitiveness of the game and the many characters surrounding their sport. It is beautifully filmed with some amazing scenes, clever but subtle effects and an abundance of humor. Highly recommended and even though expensive on DVD gives good value for money
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Fly on the wall feeling
In the DVD commentary, director Nair explained that the movie was completed in 30 days. The net effect of this is to create a high energy movie with a large but tight cast that give you the feeling that you are a fly on the wall of the Verma household as they go through the run up to their daughter's wedding. There are many subplots and always chaos as you might expect for a Punjab wedding but there is also some lovely humour, especially from Dubey the poor, abused wedding organiser.
This is not a classic movie and though good, the acting is also not outstanding. even the camera wobbles as Nair tries to cover her multi layer scenes in 30 days. But none of this matters because you come away with a warm feeling that you were there.
King Rat (1965)
High drama set in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp
King Rat is the oddball among James Clavellfs novels, but in my opinion is the best story. The stage is a Japanese Prisoner of War camp where allied officers are forced to literally eat dirt. The horrors of these camps are well documented and in Forbes adaptation of the book little is left to our imagination. That is not to say this is a vividly violent film. It most certainly is not, nor does it need to be as the sheer look of these poor wretched creatures is vivid enough.
While the backdrop is a prison camp, this is not a war movie. It is a tale of humanity and suffering. It centres around one character played brilliantly by Segal, who when outside the barbed wire fences is an ordinary corporal, while inside he is king. He shows ingenuity in obtaining supplies and living well while those around him starve. Soon the high-ranking officers are calling his shots and hence the title King Rat. The movie shows how far man will go, how much pride he can eat and how much dignity he can lose to survive.
The final scene when the prisoners are liberated could have been stronger but you have to realize the date the film was made. Even so, the look of disappointment on Corporal Kingfs face contrasting with the delight of the freed prisoners is quite incredible. An excellent film, highly recommended.
Night Without Stars (1951)
Like many Pinewood Studios movies of this era, the cinematography runs like a stage play and this leaves the spotlight firmly on the actors. Both Nadia Gray and David Farrar play their roles adequately though rather wooden. I like the way that casting works in this period. Even before they open their mouths you can tell they are up to no good and this is particularly so for Maurice Teynar as the evil brother. Great touches when the blind Farrar stumbles around Chaval's dark appartment and each area he comes too lights up as if through his senses. Budgets were obviously short on the burning taxi in the valley which looks like someone was holding a lighter to the set! Still worth a view on late night TV.
Dersu Uzala (1975)
Kurosawa is one of the great story tellers of all time. If he had been living a thousand years ago he would have been the one that created fables and legends. There is often a moral in his work and there is always a portrait of humanity. In Dersu this is more naked than ever as it focuses on just two people, the Captain, a Russian military surveyor and a clever old hunter called Dersu Uzala. They are set against a backdrop of the harsh, but stunning Siberian landscape. This is where we get to see the beauty of Kurosawa's direction with his amazing ability to paint skies with his camera and make you feel the cold wind blowing across the land. Dersu and his Captain quietly wander the forests charting the land. The unspoken communication between them and the feeling of immense respect that grows is warming. A truly magical story.
The Jackal (1997)
Little good to say about this
Can anyone explain to me why Bruce Willis (the Jackal) makes disguise changes every five minutes, when he is the only one around and when all the disguise changes make him look like the same person? This aside there is very little to entertain the viewer. Though I have to admit to side splitting laughter at the finale (yes I got to the end - just!) as a family-mover lowers its window to reveal a 33mm canon targetting at the first ladies rather ugly thighs (not a dig at Hilary surely?) and noone in the crowd notices?
Basically the plot goes through mind numbing paths that are either meaningless, have such deep meaning that the profoundness is lost, or are boring. Willis is his usual sterotypical poker faced self and heaven knows what Poitier is doing in there? Dont waste your rental money, rent something else!
Trois huit (2001)
Fascinating French drama
A TV drama style film that portrays a guy who is bullied by his fellow worker at the factory. Complex relationships between the two ensue and they are both well acted. Pierre is relentlessly teased by Fred sometimes leading him into a false impression he is his friend and other times physically and mentally torturing him. This is the basis of the film and as such is amazingly well told. I found it very life like and compulsive viewing. Supporting cast play their roles well and I would highly recommend the film.