Monday, July 30, 2007


PHENOMENAL: I'll say it was hard not to give this movie a Phenomenal, but in keeping with the scale, I feel like I made my point here. Once is actually phenomenal though, in the adjective sense. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I dare you to have expectations going in, because they will shatter. First and foremost, the music is strong. From the first notes in the first scene, the voice of the main character reaches deep into your heart. Later on, the music becomes so overwhelmingly emotional, I felt as though it was meant for me. A particular duet, uniquely powerful, and sung in the back of a music store brought literal tears to my eyes with its honesty and beauty. But, in an effort to praise the film, alongside the soundtrack, the story is surprisingly quaint and cleverly humorous. It is charmingly realistic, shedding believable light on a common story. The characters in this film, playing themselves, were outstanding. Their dialects funny and witty, their lines scripted beautifully. I am telling you that this movie cannot be missed. It satisfies musical, scriptural, and schematic needs within film, making this movie far more an experience than a form of entertainment. Be ready to love these characters, feel their turmoil, and embrace their music.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

MUST-SEE: Up from the depths of hardly-released, almost-forgotten, and extremely-underrated films, comes Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Do not miss seeing this film. Of all the artful cinematic films I have seen lately, this Pink Panther/Pulp Fiction genre proved light-hearted and bloody and witty enough to rank just as high in credibility, if not even higher in entertainment. It is packed with phenomenal dialogue, hilarious wit, and perfect characters. Of the scant 7 in the theatre with me, no one was left silent. We were roaring, biting our lip, and clapping at the pure genius that went into making this film what it is. Don't underestimate it! Homophobes, Kilmer is not what you expect. Prudes, it's too clever not to appreciate. Film snobs, it carries strong dialogue, plot, and characters throughout, signing it up as the most credible mainstream flick I've seen since viewing the two I compared. There's plenty of blood and guns to acquiesce the bad-guy, wit and humor to tease the comedian, and a somewhat (depends on your outlook) happy ending to appease the stereotypical viewer. Go get this film! Delight your mind!

Golden Door: Golden Accomplishment

WORTH-IT: I must say this film was an obvious attempt at the director to exude his talents onscreen, but despite that frankness, his talents proved worth the show, and the film succeeded all of my expectations! It begins like a movie out of the 50s, slow, quiet and solemn. We witness the flight of one Italian family from their barren homeland across the sea to America. A typical storyline, this film stands out as one describing the mindset of the travelling family. It depicts their struggles along the way, never actually making it to their existence in America. Because of this point of view, we delve into the details of seaward travel. Here the movie ascends into a modernistic abstract motif as the hopes of the Italians are illustrated by seas of milk and fields of gigantic vegetables. At times, the film reaches a comedic level, forcing laughs out of a drastic situation. All in all, the movie was enjoyable. Its variety kept me on my toes, and delivered entertainment despite the monotony of the story. Although slightly disconnected between its quarrelling genres (comedy, romance, abstract) it wraps as a unique story of one told umpteen times. Characterization is done well, scenery seems realistic, and the story is relatable. It views like a surprisingly good book reads. Give it a chance, and let its story educate you and open your mind.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

After the Wedding

PHENOMENAL: Wow, this movie exceeded my expectation and fed my need for entertaining foreign film to excess. First of all, the writer delivers a powerful story, one that entices the viewer with bits of scandal, celebration, and orphaned children. As the viewer, we're in for a treat, a treat for all senses. The language (Danish) is not one we are tuned to hearing and it delivers as much resonance in its uniqueness. The scenery basks in color as it surrounds a pricy wedding, the canals of Denmark and the streets of India. The cinematography gives us people of all colors, and scenes with as much diversity. The eye never grows tired of the candy set before it, as the ear is fed by the linguistic music. The technological features simply backdrop the story and its grandeur. What a fabulous experience to sit through a film and never want the story to end. Be ready to get deeply involved with the characters, never settling on a side, and continually failing on judging who is right and wrong. The story is beautiful, encapsulating, and most all, touching. It may be a bit out of reach for the average man, but allowing After the Wedding to take you along, you will find yourself whisked away to a place not calling for rationale, but for heart. Here, it is delivered in full, it is broken, mended, and mostly, molded. See this film as soon as you can.

Ratatouille: Rat-tastic!

WORTH-IT: Everyone should know by now (now being post-Walt Disney and mid-Pixar Disney) that cartoons should never be ignored. Not only do they carry significant amounts of raw graphic talent, but the scripts get better and better with every draw. Ratatouille holds up the continuing rep with a happy film set in Paris about a young boy struggling for a job, and a young rat struggling for the chance to cook. Led to each other by twists of their bumpy fates, the two develop a friendship and a knack for cooking. The story evolves into the revamping of a once-popular restaurant and features foods that looks so real, I could smell them. The voices are questionable, as I wasn't exactly sure who was French, Italian, American, or Spanish... or why that melting pot would have accumulated into this diner... BUT despite that downfall, and the fact that the main characters are RATS (realistic-looking vermin), the attitude of the movie, cute and heart warming, carries the film into the future of animation. Adults will appreciate the innuendo, and children will adore the catastrophic possibility of rats in the kitchen. Definitely see this movie, and don't feel like you have to take a kid to get in.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Dreamers

WORTH-IT: Again, this film IS NOT for everyone. That said, and for those who can allow their minds to disassociate nudity and eroticism with porn, the movie is brilliant. Bertolucci introduces us to teen innocence hiding from the corrupting world. Based around the French student revolts of the 1970s, we witness three teens up against maturity, de-innocence, and the rule of authority. The teens we get to know are babies to the real world, yet want to feel important, and yet, want to remain protected in their innocence. The film is done beautifully through the eyes of naive brother and sister and their American house guest. You'll see plenty of skin and witness immense inappropriateness, but keep in mind the point: it is in these episodes their innocence shines. The characters are developed so well that we empathize with their belief in their actions and we want somehow to protect them as well. Set against an always flawless Parisian backdrop, these awakened teens probe out their fantastic discoveries of mind, body, and spirit with the aide of each other's prodding and the fear that world will close in on their innocence soon. I recommend the film to indy lovers... it's melancholy, eccentric mood enthralls the mind into a truly frank coming of age tale.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard: and Die Laughing

WORTH-IT (Bay): I don't know how to persuade anyone to go see this movie. But you should! If you weren't a Die Hard fan from the start, you probably aren't pumped about it, and you probably won't end up seeing it. If you think action movies are for the most part predictable, then you're probably right. But, in the case of this sequel times three, I will try to make you forget those opinions, and help you to understand why this 4th installment will not only entertain you, but entrap you as a Die Hard appreciator. First, and foremost, know that this film is a COMEDY. Do not see it and criticise its action-movie credibility, it's ability to cast super-men and evil-villains, because at it's peak, it is hilarious. The casting to compliment this element: phenomenal. Bruce Willis brings forth the perfect emotionless good-guy/tough-guy to keep the world from ending via digital terrorist attack, unknowingly aided by Justin Long's perfectly posed dork-with-charm-and-asthma computer-whiz. The story is the relationship between the two. It's embellished with how many cars Willis's McLean can explode, how many people he can shoot, and how many rubber keyboards Justin Long can use to discover the perfect codes for unlocking the ruination of the nation. As you read this, you might have to take a breath by the end... as you will do so in the movie. Although, the writer brings the majority of those breaths in because you're chuckling to hard AND you're waiting to see if the semi Bruce drives over the crumbling bridge can will stay on all 18.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Paris Je t'aime: I Love You!

PHENOMENAL: Yep, there it is... the first of the 'phenomenals' since I enacted the grading system. But it is truly deserved. Paris is a fantastic montage of neighborhood love stories taking place in the 14 arrondissements of Paris. Each of 18 clips emerges out of the creativity of some of own favorite directors, including Craven, the Cohen Brothers, Natali, Van Sant, and so many more. Beloved stars pop up throughout the stories, including Maggie Gyllenhal, Natalie Portman, Willem Dafoe, Gena Rowlands, and Gerard Depardieu. (That is just a few). Each story is smartly told, beautifully portrayed, and adequately sympathetic towards Parisian love stories. It is not, by any means, one's typical love story. You'll see ne'er a stereotype, but plenty of cheating hearts, gushing blood, and even a little narcotics. All of it spells out each director's take on love in Paris, either laughing at the nickname "city of love" or debunking that myth for those who believe it. Don't expect a single plot, but instead, a single motif. It's love. It's truth. It's Paris in the eyes of those who have lived it, experienced it, and love it. Allow this movie to reiterate the infinite definitions of love for you. And enjoy as it reiterates why we all hold Paris high in our romantic spirits. You'll leave uplifted, humored, hopeful, relieved, and of course, in love. As Osacr Wilde says, Without love, you are dying, and death of the heart is the most painful way to go. These 18 directors have brought us reasons to be in love, ways to be in love, and reminders of why we are always looking for and wishing for love, whether it's the city, the story, or the heart you adore.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

La Vie en Rose: Edith Piaf Croons

PHENOMENAL: (Subtitled) La Vie en Rose captures the mind through ear and eye, taking its viewers on a tour of France and New York, along the trodden stage of cabaret to music hall star, Edith Piaf. In few words, I loved it! In fewer words, Fantastic! And, for the sake of my readers, in more words... La Vie en Rose is fun, emotional, and sensual. It takes its audience on a scenic tour of despair and hopelessness to freedom and success and back through broken roads of aching hearts and ailing spirits. We get to see a portrait of the chanteuse unique, Edith Piaf, as lived from birth. She suffered immensely, but her genuine talent and spunk wind her up on stage, singing for men and women, making her the picture of envy for all. But the film reveals many more parts to the prodigy's life. It paints the picture inside her head, masked by love, fame, and fortune. We watch her tarnish her own relationships, delude in her own fantasies, and eventually, dig her own grave. It's a bitter story, but one cured to tickle our curiosity and entertain our desires for the same longings we are taught to harness. Piaf is represented as a strong woman, misled, mistreated, and out to work for her own neck. This story of true determination, pride, and passion grips the spirit and educates the soul. Piaf is quoted as saying "I'll die when I can no longer sing." To feel that emotion, to understand that sincerity is to experience Edith Piaf. The movie is entertaining through her voice and her story and the life she forces others to live. It creates a phenomenal 2-hour portrait of a young woman out to prove worth and push limits. Definitely treat yourself to this film. It will be talked about.


ALMOST WORTH IT: I know, that doesn't really count as a grade on my scale, but I cannot decide, so there it lies. This movie is a roller coaster for my opinion. It began slowly and aimlessly, offering big names for poor script. What attempts to be a dreamy flashback for a deathbed Vanessa Redgrave is a stream of disconnected emotion and storyline, barely holding my attention, and even more barely touching my emotions. Fortunately, somewhere along the dreamweave, I was caught. A mystical and rebellious Claire Danes and a sweet and blubbery Mamie Gummert merged into the Redgrave/Streep miracle and I found myself weeping before the credits rolled. I am not sure where I got caught or how, but the story grabbed me, twisted my heart in it's plot, and sufficed my satisfaction for the time spent on the first half. The scenery mixed with sound and music carries you away each time, through years of rain and pain to the cliffs and rolling waves found on the peaceful beachy nook in which the flashbacks take place. Although the present-day story does little for most of the movie, by the end, it reaches a place of identification, both for the characters and the audience to reckon with. Understandings evolve for both sides, and the story becomes a pleasant one; foggy, but pleasant. It is to the Tee a girl's movie, perfect for mother/daughter outings, the need for a good cry, and the picture of every little girl's dream for romance and secrecy. For those of us wishing to see intellect and true mystification through the story, it may lag. Sit through it until the end though, and give it your open mind, because if you can stay focused at least half-way through, it will surprise you, and you'll leave teary, touched, and not completely at a loss for $10.