The Official Review Thread of 2008

Sabin
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Postby Sabin » Sat May 31, 2008 10:29 pm

'The Fall' is a beautiful achievement and a retarded film. No more needs to be said. Look at stills and avoid like the plague.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Postby Mister Tee » Thu May 29, 2008 12:54 pm

I ended an extraordinarily long absence from theatres last weekend by going to see Reprise, a Norwegian film that got fairly enthusiastic reviews here in NY.

I enjoyed the movie alot. It's centered on two (male) aspiring writers in their early 20s, and covers a few years in their lives as they succeed or not, connect with women or not, and generally watch their lives play out unexpectedly. The content isn't exactly fresh -- the creators are youngish, and probably don't have enough life-experience yet to fill out a major film -- but the technique is solid (if sometimes needlessly flashy), the dialogue shows ability, and for the most part the film bounces along with vitality. (There's a brief lull down the stretch, but then the film rallies for a high-spirited finish)

Overall, recommended, especially in this moribund landscape.

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Postby rain Bard » Mon May 26, 2008 4:44 am

Presumably in this case they wanted to wait to tie in with the release of the recent Rambo movie, which was surely known to be on the horizon in January 2007 when the film was bought.

What's worse are the Sundance films that never see the light of day. Two of the best films I saw at Sundance 2007 are still without North American distribution: VHS Kahloucha and Comrades in Dreams. The latter has not even been screened at one of the many many film festivals my city hosts, which makes me doubly glad I made the trip out to Utah.

I also suspect that my favorite film from Sundance 2008, Eat, For This is My Body is going to be scarce on the festival circuit and remain undistributed.

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Postby Precious Doll » Mon May 26, 2008 4:08 am

I'll be seeing Son of Rambow next month. Looking forward it to. But why does it take so long for some of these films to be released. This premiered at Sundance, to much acclaim, last year.
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Postby Sabin » Sun May 25, 2008 3:04 pm

'Son of Rambow' is adorable. All things considered, I would've preferred a movie just about kids remaking 'Rambo' in lieu of myriad character complications involving unappreciative brothers and religious constrictions. But it's charming and enjoyable and the two leads are rather perfect. I laughed quite a bit.
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Postby Damien » Sun May 25, 2008 1:53 pm

--Precious Doll wrote:I thought I'd give a plug to one of the best films I've seen recently, Fatih Akin's luminous The Edge of Heaven, really a 2007 film, but it seems to have opened around most of the world this year.

It just opened here in New York this weekend. Thanks for the heads up, Precious. I'll be sure to catch it.




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Postby Precious Doll » Sun May 25, 2008 2:50 am

I thought I'd give a plug to one of the best films I've seen recently, Fatih Akin's luminous The Edge of Heaven, really a 2007 film, but it seems to have opened around most of the world this year.

I didn't care very much for Atkin's earlier work including his much admired Head On from 2004.

However all the elements of The Edge of Heaven come together beautifully. The film has two major story lines, both set in Germany that move to Turkey later and interconnect seamlessly.

The pace of the film is leisurely allowing the actors to fully live their roles rather then simply act them out.

And that Atkin tells us the audience at the start of each of the two parts of the story which character is going to die gives the film an ongoing sense of dread.

This is well worth seeking out.
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Postby Damien » Sun May 25, 2008 12:43 am

Okri wrote:And what do you (Damien) think of Wong Kar-Wai in general?


Sabin wrote:What did you find worthwhile about 'My Blueberry Nights'? To me it's the epitome of disposable.

My Blueberry Nights totters on the "precious" at times and there are some annoying aspects -- I'd want Jude Law's restaurant to go out of business within 2 months -- and the pacing is a little too deliberate, but ultimately I think it's very fun, very playful, very moving, and its compassion and empathy won me over. And I love Wong's compositions which frequently place characters at the edge of the frame surrounded by space -- even when they are in conversations with others -- which perfectly conveys a sense of lonely lives longing for connections. (The movie may be the perfect modern rendition of Forster's Howards End, with its entreaty, "Only connect!")

Norah Jones is not yet an accomplished actress, but she's a lovely presence, and her uncertainty actually works for the character. The rest of the cast is terrific, and I don't know why the world seems to hate Jude Law now -- he's a wonderful actor.

As for Wong Kar-wai, the first film of his I saw was Happy Together, which I detested. It seemed like all effect (and affectation) and struck me as ridiculously superficial. That the gay lovers were given a stereotypical sado-masochistic dynamic by a straight director was annoying. Moreover, I found his visual stylization -- the switching between black-and-white and color, the different film speeds and film stock, the spastic camera -- all to be wretched excess, pointless and signifying little.

And I was ready to write him off. But Zach urged me to give him another chance, so I watched Chungking Express. And I was completely smitten. I think it's in many ways it's what proponents of Pulp Fiction claim the Tarantino film to be, but unlike that thing, it is genuinely clever, witty, funny, and its mixture of the violent and the droll is seamless. I love the playfulness of the film, and Wong has also made a wildly romantic movie. The scenes with Faye Wang in Tony Leung's apartment are among the most joyful I've ever seen.

And then Fallen Angels. Loved it. And I went back to Happy Together. And I realized I was wrong. Now, after having seen his earlier films, I realized he didn't indulge in effects for the sake of effects, but effects for the sake of emotional resonance. And I now loved Happy Together.

I next found much of In the Mood For Love to be brilliant (especially in the first half), and Wong's mise-en-scene, which seems like a day-glo version of Sirk, is extraordinary. I did grow a bit impatient with the film at times, as, by their very nature, the repressed emotions in the film do become somewhat stifling dramatically. But it's a gorgeous and moving film, and Wong says so much in his expressive visuals when the two main characters aren't being traditionally expressive at all.

2046 is a largely mesmerizing contemplative and beautiful (both visually and emotionally) work about love and loss and time and safe harbors,. It is sometimes a little difficult to get a handle on the female characters and the futuristic stuff is, characteristically, for me a bore. But this is a fascinating and deeply moving picture. Wong’s visual control is superb, the small enveloping frames a perfect metaphor for the inability of the characters to break out of their own emotional prisons. It’s also very funny and ravishing to look at to boot. And Tony Leung is wonderful.

In short, Wong Kar-wai is as major a filmmaker as there is today.




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"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby Damien » Sun May 25, 2008 12:41 am

SON OF RAMBOW.

Directed by Garth Jennings.

What a sweet and lovely film this is. There are some inconsistencies and narrative flaws, but it's such a warm-hearted and evocative portrayal of childhood, and the intensity of friendships and dreams and disappointments and longings and optimism and hurts of pre-pubescence is beautifully conveyed. The film is both very funny and extraordinarily moving, and it understands the special, weird world of children in a way that renders it a very special achievement. There are images in the movie I'll always cheerish, some for their humor, others for their poignancy.




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"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 24, 2008 8:10 am

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine.
Dir: Steven Spielberg

Although it contains some really neat elements that made the first three movies so great: The outrageous action scenes, Karen Allen (who still hasn't lost it since Raiders) and Cate Blanchett obviously having a ball as the lead villain. But the story is just preposterous. (I mean, aliens, really?) and CGI effects keep it from being a real winner.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Art Direction, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing.

Grade: B-




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Postby abcinyvr » Wed May 21, 2008 11:20 am

Saw My Blueberry Nights yesterday and it is a true and worthy Wong Kar Wai film. I am a huge fan of his work while not actually loving every movie he makes. MBN contains every one of the elements which make a Wong Kar Wai film what it is - colour, varied film speeds, repetitive use of music, the endless smoking, the rain, and the perfect dialogue. It is not one of his best but it is worth seeing. I was surprised by Nora Jones' performance. I think her music is awful and was expecting her acting to be similar. Not so. I was actually impressed by most of it, Rachel Weisz was a bit uneven though.

Earlier in the day I also went to The Stone Angel which features, not unexpectedly, a very real performance by Ellen Burstyn. She is not in the entire film and that would hurt any chances if the film gets into wider release this year. She is pretty much guaranteed a Best Actress nomination from The Genies. Unfortunately this is just the kind of generic unambitious Canadian film which always seem to get financing.

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Postby Hustler » Sun May 18, 2008 12:17 pm

Sabin wrote:MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS

I don't think there's any living filmmaker who is so adept at capturing the most ecstatic base components of cinema as Wong Kar-wai has demonstrated. There really isn't much by way of competition. When limited to vignettes, his films tend to soar with the infinite possibilities of the mundane. By the same token, I don't think there's a filmmaker who creates a more sensually melancholic wallow. His characters are all deeply, seductively alienated. Although 'In the Mood for Love' is his masterpiece if only for managing to be ecstatically melancholic throughout, I don't think he has quite topped the glory of the second half of 'Chungking Express'. That is the Wong Kar-wai I love deeply and the one I had hoped returned with 'My Blueberry Nights'. A movie like '2046' is maddening, monotonous, intermittently brilliant but all-too frequently insufferable. It's something to grapple with, curse, and exalt at the same time. 'My Blueberry Nights' is something to watch melt and lose flavor.

The beginning to 'My Blueberry Nights' features Jude Law as a coffee shop worker in New York. I've been to New York a handful of times and I know that there is no place in New York like this store. I am fine with that; I want it to exist, and Lord knows I'd imagine so do New Yorkers. He collects keys left behind by those jilted in love, including Norah Jones who leaves it for her ex to pick up who will never lay claim to them. They begin a tentative platonic courtship in loneliness that is the high point of 'My Blueberry Nights'. Darius Khondji doesn't do much to add to Wong Kar-wai's immediately recognizable mise-en-scene but in circling the store he does his best work since 'Se7en'. And although we've seen this before, it's an entertaining return to over-the-counter love.

Then begins a road trip for Norah Jones on her way to the horseshittiest Memphis and Vegas you've ever seen. If American cinema has been defined by the immigrant experience, than Wong Kar-wai unintentionally pays homage to the American foreigner experience in really not bothering to learn a goddamn thing about the world he present. The actors go under-directed, the dialogue goes down like lumps, and the plot meanders forward from one encounter to another with little-to-no concern for theme or characterization beyond archetype. Normally, this isn't a problem for Wong Kar-wai whose indelibly etched creations seem born of the same ilk as these in Hong Kong. One looks at 'Happy Together', and it certainly doesn't feel incredibly Argentinean but he is dealing with characters he understands. A lot of stock clichés go used in 'My Blueberry Nights' and while he's employed them in the past, only now do they feel self-parodic. One can interpret 'My Blueberry Nights' as taking as quintessential a Wong Kar-wai story and transferring it into the American star system to see how linguistic distance can benefit a viewing, but I'd be inclined to say that this would prove a slight, disappointing viewing in any language.

A major disappointment.

I agree Sabin. this film was a great disappointing for me. First of all, Norah Jones´election was the most unwise decision ever made. She´s absolutely unexpressive and this certainly hurts the whole movie.
On the other hand it seems to be extremely hard to translate to an eastern culture the american existentialism.

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Postby The Original BJ » Sat May 10, 2008 5:00 pm

I generally love Wong, but after My Blueberry Nights received mostly negative reviews, I thought I'd wait until video. But if you liked it so much Damien, maybe I'll check it out sooner than I'd thought.

In the Mood for Love is my favorite Wong, but I think Happy Together is in many ways his quintessential film -- my second go-round with that one had me shocked at how little actually happens, and yet how entrancing the visuals, music, and overall aura remain.

And I'm not sure I've ever re-evaluated a film so completely on second viewing as 2046, which I almost actively disliked on take one, but which I came close to loving on take two. I must have just been in a bad mood (or maybe I wasn't in the mood, so to speak) that day.

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Postby Sabin » Sat May 10, 2008 4:03 pm

I just re-watched 'Happy Together' for the first time in almost a decade. It's a love-biting, hate-fucking pipe-dream of a movie, more compelling as state of mind than narrative which is monotonous in its mind-games and bickering at its worst. At its best, it presents imagery and emotion that are unescapable. I think it's a very, very strong film. I've seen six WKW films and three are masterpieces ('Chungking Express', 'Fallen Angels', 'In the Mood for Love'), one is pretty close ('Happy Together'), and the other two are wretched in their frustrations. '2046' has moments of dazzle and brilliance but is bogged down in its self-absorption and confused intent. 'My Blueberry Nights' is the only film I've seen of his that I could describe as irrelevant. I hear 'Days of Being Wild' is excellent.

At his best, I think Wong Kar-wai is the only filmmaker who embodies Godard's ethos of a girl and a gun being the sole basis for a compelling narrative.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Postby Okri » Sat May 10, 2008 2:59 pm

And what do you (Damien) think of Wong Kar-Wai in general?


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