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King Kong (2005)
the definitive movie
Yes. i know what you're thinking. It's a three hour movie and you already know the ending. but this is THE movie and it's worth every penny. Forget any biased opinion, any thought of 'this is just another movie' and most of all, you must not wait for the DVD. This film is meant to be viewed in the cinema, on the biggest screen you can find.
A combination of the 30's classic feel with 21st century effects, some of the best actors around and a great director at the top of his game who's totally in love with the film. One of the greatest action scenes of all time (3 T-Rexs and one angry Kong) and the most insane love story that convinces you completely. Kong is king one more time.
This movie makes Oz look like a sitcom
When the first season of oz finished airing, we had many characters who we grew to care for (or hate) presumably dead. That was a risky premise that the creators didn't venture into. I love Oz. It's a true victory, but after seeing this movie (in the Haifa film festival), I know there's something better.
Carandiru does just that and takes it one step further. The brutal massacre in the end kills almost everybody, after building in us pure hope, not through melodramatics (no rape scenes or male nudity for example), but through hard realism. It's difficult to explain this, but this movie makes you care for the worst kinds of men because it shows you their humanity - their weaknesses and faults, in the prison and outside it. It doesn't give faces to the dead - it gives them souls. Not just a statistic you hear about in the news - 111 dead - they are people with stories, good and bad, that live again in this movie. And you mourn for their senseless death in a way you wouldn't if you heard about it in the news, shocking as it would be.
In an era of computer-generated effects which hide poor movies, seeing this rare gem, offers a rich cast of characters, many scenes where hundreds of actors participate perfectly (especially the visiting-day scene) detailed, original stories, and all of this in a claustrophobic set. This a lesson in how cinema should be and can be.
misses too many points
in my opinion, the major flaw of this production is that it doesn't aim properly. there is no way to capture the entire napoleonic era, not in 6 hours and not in 60 hours. the best angle is to pick one topic and focus on it. picking napoleon is of course the most natural thing to do. focusing on his character alone is slightly more problematic. it could've been done better if the character wasn't written so flatly - there is a lot of conflict inside him considering his origin, his position and the many pressures from all sides that he constantly struggles against, quite successfully at times. none of that is shown. we get a cardboard figure, with many good points missing (like the jena battle, where his victory was sidelined by one of his marshals' success at the same time in auerstadt, and napoleon's dilemma regarding the man), many interesting characters missing or lacking depth (massena, bernadot, ney) and other faults. the small scale of the massive battles is a shame, also, although judging from other comments here, the DVD version could have them more on the wide-scale.
all in all, it could've been better. TV movies are judged less harshly then "real" movies. maybe if the creators where put more to the test, this work could've achieved a higher standard.
the cast is misleading
Bouba (doll in Hebrew) is not a good movie. Rather boring most of the time, not easy to watch, not something I'd recommend for the non-Israeli viewer as first choice. Its the story of a mute hermit who lost his voice (or chooses not to speak) after a traumatic combat experience. He has a complicated relationship with his criminal brother and a stray girl, and there are certain problems they bring along to his almost autistic life. This is an uneasy, serious, realistic movie which doesn't completely fail but is simply not interesting as is, Most of the attention it gets is from some extremely disturbing scenes. It is not to be viewed by anyone looking to pass an evening relaxing in front of the TV or video, especially not with the kids. But why should they do that ?
Well, for two major reasons. Two of the three leading actors in fact. One is ze'ev revach, a king of light (and dumb) Israeli comedies, who plays an impressive lead role. The other is hanni nachmias, who's usually in the younger entertainment and education business, kindergarten level mostly. They're not the kind of actors you'd expect to see in this kind of film, and (hilariously enough, at least for me) every time this movie is on TV tons of letters are sent to the press and the TV station as to why are they showing this film, why there was no warning about what's in it and why did those two actors do this kind of film in the first place.
So what's so traumatic ? I don't know how many people can bear to watch a jerry-lewis-style comedian being p***ed on, and the girl who used to teach alphabet getting raped and soddomized. On-screen. With nothing left for the imagination.
Most people watch this movie for two reasons - one is expecting it to be a light comedy (considering the talent) and getting one major surprise. The knowledgeable others just want to see sex and violence with a surprising cast. This movie has a so-so plot but its mostly important for the constant controversy it generates and the questions about casting, both from the makers point of view as to how their film will be remembered and a star's choice to do certain uncharacteristic roles. Somehow, maybe this film survived in peoples' memories because of the cast and what said cast does, and if that was the creators' intention in casting, then even more debate arises.
just perfect and just waiting for a Hollywood re-make
Itzik Finkelstein is a nobody. He knows there is no reason for his loser life and decides to take revenge on the people who got him where he is. Aided by a devilish monk he sets out to take out his loved ones, his friends and other life-destroyers who are to blame. Itzik Finkelstein is doing what everybody always wants - absolute payback for their dead life.
This flawless comedy is sarcastic, touching, thought-provoking and very funny. Moshe Ivgi shows exactly why he rules the Israeli cinema for the last twenty years. Everybody else is just perfect. This one is a must.
Jennifer Eight (1992)
underrated with quite a few original ideas
This movie has a lot of things going against him. The mystery is quite obvious, there's too much formulated writing (like who dies, who falls in love, who takes the falls, what happens when)and you can mistake it for just another detective-thriller. But there are several key ingredients that make this movie worth watching.
Take for example Uma Thurman's character. This is the best depiction of a blind person in movies. She's not psychic, she doesn't have radar senses, she's not clairvoyant, she's not one-with-the-universe. She's blind. Its very crippling to be blind, its one of the worst handicaps and this movie shows an actual blind person who has a hard time coping with all of the action going around her.
I'd love to mention the end of the movie which brings into climax the uniqueness of the film. Its quite surprising and it gets to you. But I'm not the spoiler kind of guy. so I can only recommend the movie. An intelligent thriller, very mindful of realism, with a good performance by an impressive cast. Something worth renting. Go see it.
Die Venusfalle (1988)
There is one insane fact about this movie i have come upon. once someone sees it he becomes hopelessly in love with the film and tries to hide its existence from the rest of the world. i can't put any other film that so captures the magic that is falling in love. it gets to the point that the box description makes the movie sound bad. people just don't want you to see it.
just to get you on the concept. a guy has the perfect life - he has a successful clinic and is going to marry the perfect wife. one day he makes a phone call, dials the wrong number, the woman on the other side says "hello" and he knows she is the love of his life. torn between his perfect life and this unrealistic notion that he should ruin them for the woman he never saw, he wanders around the streets and tries to make sense or just lose himself. this is the point where the movie begins.
its a powerful investigation of the "Venus trap" - the insanity of falling in love out of the blue that made the Greeks create a goddess for it. people that i have spoken with who have seen that movie tend to view their life and their love-life differently afterwards. there is something in it that haunts you.
-- slight spoilers for second viewing (nothing lethal) --
the movie is an experience to watch. many things, including lights and make-up change dependent on the main character's presence. the best example is his wife. you can spend the entire film thinking she's some vulgar cow, until the scenes where she's without him. the opposite example of course is the symmetry that happens whenever you put the intended lovers in the same shot. these motives would have been considered simple gimmicks in a Hollywood film, but here they work subconsciously into bringing you into the Venus trap.
Yom Yom (1998)
Bad movie, beautiful accessories.
I think I'm one of the three people who actually paid to see this movie in the cinema. When I went in, I knew what the hype (as much as there was) told me. That is - Amos Gitai, Israel's most famous director, went and did a film with the Israeli actors elite. That is - Moshe Ivgi (the current godfather of Israeli cinema), Julianno Merr (An actor of epic abilities who was born in the wrong place), and Keren Morr (leading theater actress and T.V. comedy goddess). And we were told this was an intelligent comedy (something almost unheard of in nowadays cinema).
None of that was true. The movie is a series of eight-minute long-shots about the uninteresting life of two childhood friends in down-town Haifa (a harbor city in northern Israel). Mostly they deal with the stagnation of their life, compared to the massive urban development going on around them. Its very artsy, very boring, very unfocused, not intelligent enough to make you think, not touching enough to make you care. too Israeli for an outsider to understand, too pompous for Israelis to like. and of course not funny at all.
So, what good is there in this movie ? a lot of things nobody expected. First of all, Hana Maron, an extremely talented actress who used to be the wunderkind of German cinema before World War Two, simply steals the show, every second she's on it. Its a rare chance to see someone who should have been the European Shirley Temple and could've been the European Bette Davis. Secondly, the film is probably the last documentation of down-town Haifa, a place which used to be the pearl of the eastern mediterranean, and is now bulldozed over. It also has in it the not-so-casual reference to it being the only place where Arabs and Jews coexist and even marry. And third, and that is the reason this movie still gets viewers - Israeli no. 1 model and would-be actress, Natali Atia, in real live sex action with Julianno Merr for eight minutes. It looks like someone must have left the camera there and caught them on film. Considered by many to be the hottest sex scene in Israeli movies ever.
Edut Me'ones (1984)
The worst Israeli movie ever. Guaranteed
Its not that Israeli cinema hasn't given us some bad excuses for film waste. What makes this film top them, is the fact it has the nerve to take itself seriously.
Anat Azmon's neighbor gets raped. She accidentally sees the guy and becomes the main witness against him. His brother, a mobster, threatens her life continuously and begins entering them. her ex-husband uses this to try to take their child from her. When you write it down, it sounds okay, doesn't it ?
Its not just that everyone plays bad (except maybe for Uri Gavriel playing the mobster). the script gets you bored too fast. You get the feeling that it should have been a thriller (I'm not even going to say a psychological thriller). But nothing makes sense. And that's just the first level of 'Bad'. The level that most films can get to. The second level ? you just have to see it to believe it. Just to get you clued in, this movie shows a five-foot guy successfully raping a seven-foot woman (who accidentally bashes him half-way across the room on one shot). She's so afraid of the midget she throws up on him. This is the opening scene.
Hole Ahava B'Shikun Gimel (1995)
Love and Madness can be confusing
Moshe Ivgi, the leading Israeli actor for the past twenty years, in a role that fits him best. A romantic nobody from nowhere, who falls in love with a girl who's way out of his league and is driven insane by the knowledge he can't have her. The movie plays around with the question - are we in love with a person, or are we in love with the ideal of love itself.
Not to be missed also are the most realistic portrayal of a madhouse, and the accurate portrayal of an Israeli dead-end suburb (shikun). Not much hope there in any of those places, but the ending will make you think about moving in.
an insane little film about Tel-Avivian reality
A story about a small-time con-man and a herd of people who believe him to be a guru. (the name of the movie is a mingling of the word guru and his family name - yeshurun, which creates the first word from an old settlers' song).
This movie contains the best gathering of characters in an Israeli movie. Most of them wander around tel-aviv looking for love, hope or a piece of action, in the empty streets of Tel-Aviv at night. From the cross-dressing vegetable salesman to the sensitive cop. From the violent literature professor to the national kibutz-quire looking for their lost megaphone. And although this movie is all about bitterness, you can't help laughing all the way through. This movie is for anyone who likes the insanity that is the night life of a big city. It's very extraordinary in the body of Israeli films, and you can enjoy it, no matter what nationality you are.
B.T.W. : The two scenes with the wife-beaters are cult material.
Le'an Ne'elam Daniel Wax? (1972)
a legitimate contender for "best israeli movie ever" title
A successful singer returns home to his native Israel with his beautiful english wife. he then becomes obsessed with finding his hero from the university, Daniel Vax, who seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. his journey through 1970 Israel, reveals a disturbing view of the country and its people, at what should be the peek of their power.
This movie deals with the question nobody young wants to ask - what happens to you after you have acchieved your life's dream. what then ?