Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Tian Zhuangzhuang
Written By: Zhang Rui
Main Cast: Dan Jiji, Gaoba, Jayang Jamco, Tsesheng Rinzim, Daiba
I'M TRYING REAL HARD, RINGO!
I told my wife that I was just going to lay down with her for a few minutes and then get back up to write my review for The Horse Thief. Well, about as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light and didn't wake up until it was time to go to work this morning. So, I had to postpone everything by one night and now here we are. Let's get to it...
The plot synopsis I'm about to give you is the plot synopsis that I got from watching this movie. There was VERY little dialogue, which kind of made it a little hard to follow the film. However, I think I pretty much got the gist of everything - so I'll hit the bullet points and we'll go from there. So we've got the main character, his name's Norbu and as the title suggests, he's a horse thief. Except he's not just a horse thief, he's basically a kleptomaniac, as far as I could tell. In addition to being a thief, he's also a family man though, taking good care of his wife and kids (thus why he steals) and trying to provide for them, by any means necessary. The film is set in Tibet, among a clan of religious fanatics who offer sacrifices and offerings to Buddha, in exchange for him taking care of their land. Norbu is a part of the religious clan - that is until he's caught stealing temple offerings and is told to leave and never come back. Furthermore, he's told that if he ever does come back, his hands will be cut off. After being exiled, his son becomes very ill and Norbu believes it's because he's betrayed his God. Where he once got holy water from a lake meant to be used by all of the community, he now holds a pale to a trickling drain pipe in hopes that the rains from the heavens will cure his son. His son eventually dies and Norbu tires to change his ways, going back to the clan to try and make peace, but ultimately getting attacked and ran off.
This is the kind of movie that I'd normally just write off within the first twenty minutes and spend the next hour and change just putting up with it. I decided this time that I'd REALLY try to give this one a fair shake. I'm not saying I liked it or anything, but it wasn't a completely heinous ninety minutes and actually I'll give credit to some good cinematography and I suppose, a decent story. Martin Scorsese supposedly named this one of his top movies of the 90s (citing that it wasn't really a known film until that decade, despite being released in '86) and I'm willing to bet that was a big reason why THE BOOK broke down and included it. It's really nothing particularly important or particularly good and honestly, I think there were plenty of other important films. The lack of dialogue was a big turn off for me and were they really killing those animals? I'm no card carrying PETA member, but some of that stuff looked pretty brutal (cutting a sheep's throat and another scene depicting a group of sheep being buried alive, all for sacrificial purposes).
In the end, if it was something I really wanted to write off, I would have which proves that there must have been something there that kept me attached to the action. Again, not a great film by any means, but it's one of the better rare ones. Like I've said before, the rare stuff is usually the stuff that I dread going into, probably just because I know NOTHING about it. Not a lot of hype, not a lot of opinions to be found online, not a lot of nothing. This one was short enough to not get on my nerves too much, but ultimately I'd call it a worthless entry into THE BOOK, but one that must carry some sort of importance that I'm just not getting.
RATING: 4/10 I'll give it a few notches for the stuff I mentioned, but nothing worth going out of your way to see or anything, despite Scorsese's recommendation.
MOVIES WATCHED: 834
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 167
July 31, 2014 10:55pm
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong
Written By: Eleanor Witcombe, from novel by Miles Franklin
Main Cast: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes, Robert Grubb, Max Cullen
Click here to view the trailer
So I've been away from the blog for nearly a week now and that's probably going to be the norm until I really get back into the swing of things. I'm just too tired throughout the week to give the attention required to a movie, let alone writing a review. So, since my weekend falls on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that's when you'll see me the most. Now then...My Brilliant Career...
This is streaming on Netflix for anyone with those capabilities who wants to play along at home. The film stars Judy Davis as Sybylla, the daughter of a couple of laborers (farmers) who are mostly annoyed at her dreams of a better life. Instead of being a famous writer, which she aspires to be, she's seemingly destined to chop wood, milk cows and do all of the other things that go along with being a farmer's daughter. When her grandmother sends along a letter, the parents make the decision to send Sybylla along to live with her for a little while, hoping to teach her a little discipline. At grandma's, Sybylla is exposed to the life of aristocratic, attending balls, wearing fancy dresses and being courted by upstanding gentlemen. The first man who tries for her hand is Frank Hawdon (Grubb), a proper "jackaroo" who dons a mustache and mostly makes a fool out of himself, in hopes of whooing Sybylla - he mostly fails. The other man in Sybylla's life is Harry Beecham (Neill), a landowner who she detests at first, but warms up to as the movie progresses. The two both vie for her hand, but she manages to dodge them both - almost stringing them along. It becomes apparent later in the film that Frank is merely a pawn to her and that if she were to become involved with anyone, it would be Harry. Like any standard romance tale, however, there are ups and downs for the potential couple.
Can I just start by saying how much I loved Robert Grubb in this. He was far and away my favorite character and this is a prime example of giving someone a supporting part and them running it in for a big touchdown. In fact, none of the cast was really worth speaking ill about, except maybe Sam Neill. I just don't get the appeal of this guy. How on Earth he was able to finagle his way into Jurassic Park, a ginormous blockbuster movie, is beyond me. He's just so damned bland, not particularly good looking, not particularly talented and just looks like any schmo off the street. Sorry Sam, it's damn true! In fact, when speaking of My Brilliant Career we're talking about a bagel without any cream cheese, a cheeseburger without a melting piece of Gouda or a piece of toast without any jam - I'm saying it was plain and perhaps the very definition of an average picture. There just wasn't any spark and when it was all said and done, I wouldn't say I'd suffered from having watched it, but I certainly wasn't enthralled with the experience either. I liked having seen an early Judy Davis picture, an actress that would go on to be a favorite of Woody Allen, which means I've seen probably, at least a half dozen of her pictures as it is. She was fine here too, but I kind of realized within the first twenty minutes that this wasn't going to win me over.
I keep getting this feeling like the best movies from THE BOOK are behind me. I'm pretty sure that isn't true, but I keep getting this suspicion. I feel like I've put off the worst until the end and now it's the beginning of the end and I'm left with a bunch of movies that I'm going to loathe. I feel like a kid on Independence Day whose burned up all his sparklers and all he has left are those things you throw on the ground and they make a snapping sound. POOF! Anyway, I'm being overly dramatic here and damn, it was only a few movies ago that I watched Badlands and loved it, so my thinking is totally irrational to boot. I just didn't get the importance of this one at all. Sure, THE BOOK manages to pull some excuse out of thin air, but after a while their excuses as to why something so average is in THE BOOK become so lame, that I'm sick of reading them. Nothing terribly bad to say - it's a period piece and the music, costumes and everything reflect that greatly. The acting, for the most part, is fine and if you're a fan of old Judy Davis, take a look at her as a spitfire when she was a young woman - she evolved seamlessly. However, the film has no spark, no excitement and ultimately is just a bland tale that I don't think I'd ever want to sift through again.
RATING: 5.5/10 A big old *blah* for this one. Like I said, it streams on Netflix so you be the judge, but as for this guy, it's totally forgettable and too unimportant to be included here.
MOVIES WATCHED: 833
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 168
July 29, 2014 11:07pm
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Running Time: 108 minutes
Directed By: Claude Chabrol
Written By: Claude Chabrol, Colo Tavernier, from novel by Francis Szpiner
Main Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Francois Cluzet, Nils Tavernier, Marie Trintignant, Lolita Chammah
Click here to view the trailer
FRENCH WHORES AND ABORTIONS
Hey, don't hate on me for that subtitle - that's really the subject matter! Finally got sent this one from Netflix after months of it being on a "very long wait" and I have to say, the wait wasn't worth the return. Read on...
The Story of Women is set in France during World War II and revolves around a mother, Marie (Huppert) and her two young children. The three struggle to make ends meet, with the father locked away in a POW camp and Marie & kids living in a dilapidated apartment, that rumbles often from a passing train. The neighbors are helpful, especially a young female neighbor, Ginette, whose husband is also away at war. When Ginette becomes pregnant, Marie decides to help out by performing an amateur abortion on her kitchen floor. She takes some tubing, feeds it into some soapy water and then into Ginette. A few nights later, Ginette awakens with blood pouring down her thighs - the pregnancy successfully aborted. Meanwhile, Marie makes friends with a prostitute, Lulu (Trintignant), whom she informs of her "special abilities" and offers to help her out if she ever "gets into trouble". Lulu, being a popular prostitute, tells all of her friends and before Marie knows it, she's the number one place in tow to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, now charging upwards of 1000 francs for her services. In addition to that "talent", Marie also begins to rent out the spare room of her apartment to prostitutes looking for a place to get cozy with their Johns. Oh yeah and Marie's husband finally makes it back from that POW camp, returning home to a wife that wants next to nothing to do with him. She gives him the cold shoulder daily and when he begins to question where she's getting her money, she refuses to give him a straight answer. That should pretty much bring you up to snuff...
Okay, so I've got the Hell's Kitchen finale tonight, plus Big Brother so we've got to make this a bit snappier than normal. Hopefully my review doesn't suffer as a result...
I was actually really looking forward to this one, a combination of Isabelle Huppert (whom I liked In Loulou), Claude Chabrol (whose work I admired in Le Boucher) and just the fact that I generally dig modern French films (by modern, I mean 70s and beyond - not so modern anymore). Therefore, this one was kind of coming in with a seal of approval and ultimately, I have to say I was pretty disappointed by this one. I mean, not much happens right? So we're introduced to Huppert's character and we get the information that she does abortions, rents out rooms to prostitutes and loathes her husband and then we stew on that information for the bulk of the picture, until her husband turns her in, she's jailed and put to death. The end. I mean, yeah some other things happens, but as far as I could tell the characters were pretty hollow and as was the story. I never got a sense that there was anything deeper going on, that there was more digging to be done by the audience. The film just existed for about two hours and then it was over, end of story. I usually get a great sense of layering when it comes to French films, movies that demand to be studied and explored, watched over and over again. With this one, I didn't at all.
Even Huppert, whom by all accounts got nothing but praise for her role here, didn't blow me away or anything. I took to her in Loulou, but here she was just doing a job, no more, no less. The rest of the cast was just about ho hum. I'm not even gonna' touch on the whole abortion thing, because as long time readers of mine may know, I'd rather keep issues like that out of the blog to avoid any harsh feelings. To be honest, I'm not staunch on the issue either way, so the subject matter didn't sway my opinion one way or the other. The film was just okay - in fact, the very definition of an average movie. Not great, not terrible by any means either. A must see? Not at all, but not one to particularly avoid either. I'm sure some will love it, others may hate it - I fall directly in the middle.
RATING: 6/10 Barely a '6' and in fact, a '5.5' may be more appropriate, but in a way that also seems a tad too low so we'll go '6'. Anyway...hopefully that wasn't too rushed.
MOVIES WATCHED: 832
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 169
July 24, 2014 6:34pm
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Running Time: 101 minutes
Directed By: Thorold Dickinson
Written By: Peter Frye, Zvi Kolitz
Main Cast: Edward Mulhare, Michael Wager, Margalit Oved, Arik Lavie, Michael Shillo
Been watching The Leftovers, the new series on HBO and my intrigue grows more and more each week. My wife and I have become TV junkies lately, basically ready to give any new series' a chance, loading our DVR with as much as it can hold. So when The Leftovers started last month, it was a no brainer for us. The episode that focused on the priest was magnificent storytelling. As we're watching, we're constantly batting ideas back and forth, asking each other questions. The show has so much potential to be great, I just hope it can follow through and wrap everything up nicely when it comes time to end it all. I'll be sticking with this one.
I really hate to use the "B word" when it comes to describing a movie, as I usually feel that it's a cop out when describing how a movie made you feel. However, I'll make an exception for this pile. It took me two sittings to finish this. I started it this morning and after about a half hour of enduring, I couldn't keep my lids open anymore and succumbed to a nap. When I woke up hours later, I hesitantly resumed and finished.
I can't even really present a proper plot synopsis because I tapped out at the same time I stopped to take a nap. By "tapped out" I mean, I just sort of stopped paying attention and during the last hour, I just kind of watched, let the images flash across the screen, just so I could claim my tick. It had to do with four characters being put on assignment in Israel to defend a hill that overlooked the road to Jerusalem. We learn a little bit about each character and learn within the first five minutes that by the story's end, they'll all be dead. It was yet another war film you can add to the probably five hundred plus war films that are in THE BOOK. Is that a bad estimate? I mean, I really feel like half the movies I've watched have had SOMETHING to do with some war (especially World War II).You'd think that after watching that many war movies you'd start to get a taste for them, but if I never saw another war movie again, it'd be too soon.
This was more of a propaganda film than anything and there was some sort of message in there I'm sure. The thing is, I never cared enough to pay enough attention to take away any messages. I just wanted this to be over. I'm probably making it out to be a lot worse than it is and maybe it was just that I wasn't in the mood for crap today, but this movie just bored me to tears and even writing this review is something that I put off until the last minute tonight. I have nothing positive to say here, other than the fact that there was a pretty good little foot chase near the beginning of the film, which lead to a somewhat interesting little romantic side story, but it certainly wasn't enough to do this one any wonders. Let's just say that I didn't like it and call that a review, shall we?
RATING: 1/10 Again, I'm probably being too harsh and I realize that wasn't much of a review, but I'm tired and I have nothing more to say, so that's all I got. Sorry...And no, I couldn't even find any proper pictures for this one.
MOVIES WATCHED: 831
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 170
July 22, 2014 9:49pm
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Terrence Malick
Written By: Terrence Malick
Main Cast: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, Linda Manz, Robert J. Wilke
Click here to view the trailer
Been re-watching Oz on HBO on Demand with my wife, since she's never seen it and am being reminded of just how awesome that series was! I still remember discovering it for the first time, on recommendation from my brother (add another one to that ever growing list) and just binge watching it like a junkie. Seriously, if anyone ever wonders why I'm a fan of professional wrestling, it's because when it's great wrestling can be just like Oz. Great characters, good guys/bad guys, feuds, build-ups and great climaxes. I kind of wish the creators hadn't decided to end the show after only six seasons. They could've easily interchanged characters in and out and kept the show running for as long as they wanted to. It would never be hard to introduce new characters and thus, create new feuds/interactions. If you haven't seen the show though, you need to...like now!
A DOUBLE SHOT OF MALICK: 2 of 2
So after revisiting Badlands the other night and taking to it, I was eager to check out Days of Heaven for the first time - a film that I'd heard many great things about, which included it having mind blowing cinematography. Anyway, the wife worked night shift again last night, which gave me the opportunity to check it out. Let's not dawdle...
|This shot literally made me snap my head back and mouth "WOAH", not unlike Joey Lawrence.|
|Loved every image of that giant house towering over everybody, everything. Great house!|
Boy, where do I start? How bout with, I didn't care for it. First of all, the damn thing LOOKED amazing - there's no questioning that. I wanted to like it so much because the cinematography coupled with the Ennio Morricone score was enough to make any film snob cream their pants. However, I'm big on story and that's where Days of Heaven left me hanging. I'll even go so far as to say the acting wasn't anything worth writing home about either, a young Richard Gere and a seemingly talentless Brooke Adams in a movie that looked way too good for what they deserved. In regards to it's dialogue and story, the film is just TOO quiet. At times, I felt as if I was intruding on conversations between the characters, intimate ones that I wasn't meant to barge in on. There weren't any pronounced exclamations, the kind of words that make cinema - just muttering that we were happening upon. And as much as I appreciated the Sissy Spacek narration in Badlands, I felt the exact opposite with the Linda Manz narration here. I don't know how old she was supposed to be in the movie, but THE BOOK says she was seventeen at the time. Maybe, I'm crazy but I was viewing her as a twelve or thirteen year old and thinking the whole time that these narrations were WAY too adult for this character - adolescents wouldn't be having this deep of a perspective on the human race.
|I'm pretty sure ever single shot in the movie was blocked to perfection and perfectly calculated. Here, a simple shot of a scarecrow in a wheat field is magnificence.|
|What was the deal with the locusts? Was there some kind of religious message in the background that was going totally over my head?|
RATING: 6/10 I just can't bare to rate this one any lower and yes, the camera work is THAT GOOD! I seriously want to rewatch this one someday, because I still want to like it. This film is like a beautiful woman with a terrible personality.
MOVIES WATCHED: 830
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 171
July 20, 2014 6:13pm
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Running Time: 93 minutes
Directed By: Terrence Malick
Written By: Terrence Malick
Main Cast: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri, Alan Vint
Click here to view the trailer
Note: Finally finished off Fargo (TV Series) and I have to say it was fantastic! Seriously, this was a great homage to the film and you could really tell that the creators of the show had utmost respect for the Coen's film. I've heard mixed reports on whether or not this has been picked up for another season, but I for one would LOVE to see it run in the same vein as American Horror Story, where we get a brand new story each season, perhaps even using some of the same actors. I think their challenge next time will be separating it from this series and the movie. I think anyone who's seen the series will admit that it shared many similarities to the film, in that each character was seemingly patterned after one of the characters from the movie. They obviously can't do that every time, so can they make another, separate series? Apart from that, you just had to love Billy Bob Thornton in this. I said on Twitter that I'd rarely seen him better and I meant that. Martin Freeman was also fantastic and really there wasn't a bad apple in the bunch as far as the cast went. The other outstanding factor of this series was the camera work. Just unbelievable, too good for free TV stuff. If you missed it, pick it up on DVD when it comes out, especially if you're a fan of the film and keep an eye out for all those hidden references to the original movie. Now then...
A DOUBLE SHOT OF MALICK: 1 of 2
My wife's working one of her rare evening shifts tonight, which means I had about four hours to kill between the time I got off work and the time she gets off work, which meant...MOVIE TIME! And hey, I even I had a spare hour or so to get the review taken care of too. This is of course an ode to the final two Terrence Malick films in the BOOK. If I'd been thinking, we could've made this a "hat trick", but I'd already watched The Thin Red Line last year, so that was out. Badlands and Days of Heaven are supposedly his finest two works anyway, so better to lump them together.
At it's bare bones, the film is your typical love on the run film - a more realistic approach to the Bonnie & Clyde scenario - with a little more poetry via a Sissy Spacek narration, Martin Sheen giving the performance of his career and a talented cameraman grabbing one of a kind shots. It all kicks off when Kit Carruthers (Sheen), an uneducated garbageman meets and immediately falls for Holly (Spacek). The only problem is, is that he's twenty-five and she's only fifteen. Holly's father (Oates) obviously disapproves and during a scene where Kit goes to ask for his approval, her father blatantly tells him to stay away. That night, Kit sneaks into the house and begins packing a bag for Holly. When her father sees him and questions his actions, Kit becomes a bit irate and shoots him, killing him. Holly is, at first, upset with Kit, but ultimately decides to go with him, as the couple plan to exit South Dakota (where the film begins) and go where the road takes them. They first take refuge in a wooded area, building a labyrinth of treehouses and elaborate traps, to catch anyone that may be after them. They live like savages for a while, a Tarzan and Jane couple with shades of Bonne & Clyde (Kit fishing using a pistol) and things seem to be hunky dory for a while. They're eventually found and Kit has to shoot his way out of another situation, killing three this time. It becomes a widely publicized story, the fugitives Kit and Holly and the two are officially on the run, killing anyone who get in their way.
I had seen this once before and according to a combination of my memory and IMDB, I wasn't THAT crazy about it - barely remembering it and only having it marked as a '6' on the movie site. I actually took to it quite a bit more this time around and even wondered why I hadn't recalled this one more fondly. I was dog tired when I got off work (as per usual), so coming out of the shower and plopping down on the bed with a good movie was just what the doctor ordered. Also, sort of a risky move, as sometimes I'm so dog tired that I just can't keep focused on a good movie and my eyelids become like anchors. This one was really easy to slip into though, providing an easy to follow plot, interesting characters, real life dialogue and a backdrop that was relatable. In fact, I applaud the way Malick was able to slip in the real snobby elements - you know, the ones that make the film snobs gush. At first, Spacek's narration is just like any other narration, a girl reading from prospective diary entries. And then you realize how literary they sound and honestly, I was shocked to read that this WASN'T an adapted work, as the narration seems like Spacek just reading lines out of a great novel:
"He needed me now more than ever, but something had come between us. I'd stopped even paying attention to him. Instead I sat in the car and read a map and spelled out entire sentences with my tongue on the roof of mouth where nobody could read them."
Tell me that's not brilliant writing...
And then, of course, there's that camera work, which provided me with a multitude of shots to choose from for this very post, but ultimately I had to decide on three. It's funny because the characters don't really deserve this good of a movie. When you think of this heathen Kit Carruthers, poetic lines and visual artistry don't spring to mind and maybe that's why this film stands out as such a great one - because it creates a mash-up of such beauty and such ugliness.
I should stop to say something about the fact that these characters become celebrities from being violent, but is it worth even mentioning this in a day & age when this sort of thing has become so commonplace? Even today people who take guns inside fitness centers and schools get glorified by the media, whether this is the media's intention or not. Kit Carruthers has good intentions, yet by the time he's carried out all of his "work", his intentions seem to be lacking anything good. This would be a fine time to mention Martin Sheen and the stellar performance he turned in, turning his thirty-something self into a twenty-something, transforming his voice into a drawled dialect and a character worthy of dissection, a sort of dirt road Travis Bickle, with far less complications. I won't go into the dissection at this time, because it probably wouldn't turn out that good and in fact, I think I'll call that a review. Certainly a film worth your time for all the reasons I mentioned above. It has few flaws, not even any really worth committing to paper though. For some reason, Malick would make Days of Heaven five years later and then disappear from the movie scene altogether until 1998 and The Thin Red Line. Has he ever given any explanation as to his disappearance?
RATING: 7.5/10 Can't go '8' because then you're talking a whole other ballpark, but it's damn close and perhaps come recap time it'll win me over by sticking with me.
MOVIES WATCHED: 829
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 172
July 17, 2014 7:05pm