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All reviews - Movies (1481) - TV Shows (36) - DVDs (2)

A great little gem!

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 22 April 2008 12:38 (A review of Amélie)

"It's better to help people than garden gnomes."

Amélie is an appealing little gem of a movie that is full of imagination and charming performances.

Audrey Tautou plays a young French woman named Amélie. She has always avoided true love and such things, instead enjoying life's little treats; skimming stones over water, plunging her hand into a sack of grain, and cracking the top of her Crème Brulee' with a spoon. But after she does a good deed for someone, she enjoys the pleasure of knowing she's made a difference in someone's life. She decides that she will continue doing good deeds; interfering with people's lives, etc.

But somewhere along the way she finds true love in the form of a young man named Nino (Kassovitz).

The film is very well made; the cinematography does justice to the beautiful locations, and the art direction is simply gorgeous. From costume design to production design, each shot is beautiful in all aspects.

Audrey Tautou was a perfect choice for the main character. Her wonderful appearance makes her look great on screen; she's sincere, delightful and charming. Apart from Tautou, the supporting cast is just fantastic. Each performance is heart-felt and truly stunning...despite having to read subtitles for each word they say.

The direction is very good. Each scene is done extremely well, and is thoroughly entertaining. Accompanied by a pleasant, charming score.

Overall the whole film is an intriguing experience. Well made, gorgeous to look at...all in all it's unmissable. Marred by overlength and its tendency to make the audience frustrated at Amélie's slightly weird strategies that grow old towards the end.

Look, describing the film doesn't do it justice. Just take a chance and go rent the movie for a pleasant evening of laughs and sincerity. I guarantee that you'll be enthralled.

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Brilliant and unmissable!

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 22 April 2008 12:35 (A review of City of God)

"You need more than guts to be a good gangster, you need ideas."

There is a rather unsavoury, chaotic part of Rio de Janeiro that not many tourists get to see. City of God is a Portuguese film that exposes this part of the country; showing us scenes of relentless murders, crimes, wars and other things in that vein.

From start to finish, City of God is an extremely powerful, enthralling, compelling experience. The beginning of the film establishes clearly what we about to experience, and quite plainly states 'welcome to hell'. We are thrown into a part of Rio de Janeiro that encompasses all the gangs and crime lords.

The film chronicles many decades in this region where murder and crime are commonplace. We follow our protagonist Rocket (Rodrigues) who is also the central narrator of the piece. The film opens at the climax of the movie, but from there Rocket tells his story through flashbacks of the decades of crime that have governed his existence since he was a boy. Growing up in such a chaotic neighbourhood, Rocket had come to terms with the fact that all boys will usually grow up to become members of a gang and will become mixed up in the world of crime and murder.

Rocket has no desire to be a hood, and is determined to avoid the gangster life. Instead he aims to escape his brutal surroundings by becoming a professional photographer.

City of God is an uncompromising look at life in the parts of Rio de Janeiro that actually exist. The film never holds back on authenticity; displaying graphic killings as well as explicit images of drugs, sex and murder. Because of such a gritty look that the film establishes, it firmly feels like documentary footage that has been filmed by someone caught in the crossfire.

The film proves that you don't need flashy special effects and big name stars to tell your story, but rather gritty realism and ruthless images.

The performances felt quite real, and at some point in the film you will probably be in tears because of its authenticity. But on this point, the film's biggest flaw was the style it was filmed in. I can appreciate the shaky cam as it firmly positions the audience in the action, but the fast shots and the unnecessary close-ups are what ultimately spoilt the cinematography. And aside from all the relentless images and its great style, the film has nothing else going for it; no solid plot, no overly memorable characters, as well as plenty of scenes that felt out of place and marred its pacing.

City of God has been compared to American films such as Scorsese classics. Scorsese's films are generally superior, but City of God is still a mighty impressive effort. Brutal, realistic, authentic, disturbing, provocative, gritty - everything is present here. Well worth seeing for those who can stomach it.

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Enthralling anime!

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 22 April 2008 12:30 (A review of Spirited Away)

"Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can't remember."

Spirited Away is a breathtaking, incredible anime experience. The whole movie is a highly imaginative, wonderful, fantastical children's anime feature that could be the greatest piece of animation to come out of Japan.

A young girl named Chihiro (voiced by Hîragi in the Japanese dub, and Chase in the English dub) is travelling to her new home with her parents. Before arriving at their new house, Chihiro's father takes a wrong turn and ends up stopping in front of a mysterious building. Soon Chihiro finds herself venturing into a secret world where her parents undergo a mysterious transformation.

Chihiro is left disorientated, and is now trapped in a world where she must face strange spirits, groups of creatures and a pissed off sorceress who seeks to prevent her from saving her parents from the spell and returning to their rightful place in the human world.

The animation looks gorgeous. Each character - each location - has been beautifully detailed for best effect. Without limited itself to one audience, the movie extends beyond the regular anime lovers. I, myself, am not the biggest fan of anime - and I never will be - but Spirited Away was an amazing experience unlike any anime I've ever viewed before. The story is unique and innovative, with characters who are both strange and creative. It's not often that one would find giant frogs in a feature such as this, but this only heightens the creativity of the filmmaking team.

The director, Hayao Miyazaki, is a name that towers above most other names in the anime world. Many would recognise his work, and this could be his best yet. The whole experience is uniquely strange and interesting, and in a sense groundbreaking. Because of the miraculous voice cast, the audience can easily get into the story. The whole voice cast is amazing, be it English or Japanese. It's obvious that the English dub was of high priority, and is outstanding despite a very limited number of lip-synching issues.

The captivating animation sucks you in - keeping you fascinated, wondering what will happen next. At the end of the day, the experience is engaging and incredibly creative. It's no wonder that Spirited Away walked away with an Oscar for Best Animated Feature of 2002.

Admittedly, the film does tend to drag on extensively - but the animation and techniques keep us sucked in despite this tendency. Spirited Away is a breathtaking production, and one of the greatest anime films that has come to fruition in recent years. It's not for all tastes, but I would recommend the film highly.

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Loved it!

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 22 April 2008 11:56 (A review of When Harry Met Sally...)

"Men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."

Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally is a film that defined the romantic comedy genre. In this day and age we overlook romantic comedies as they populate 50% of the year's scheduled releases. Many have tried to replicate the charm, intelligence and wit of When Harry Met Sally but there are only a limited number that get anywhere close. The film contains some of the most memorable moments and lines that are instantly recognisable. Even if you've only seen parts of the movie you'd be familiar with at least one unforgettable scene because there's far too many to count.

When Harry Met Sally opens as Harry Burns (Crystal) is hitching a ride to New York with Sally Albright (Ryan). The two spend 18 hours in the car so there is plenty of time for chatting and getting acquainted. Unfortunately, Harry is quite the pessimist and is unable to see the good side of anything. This is particularly true when he discusses the topic of men and women being friends.

When Harry and Sally part ways neither of them have a high opinion of each other. Over the next eleven years the two occasionally bump into one another. But eventually the dust settles and they decide to just be good friends. As this close friendship blooms it becomes more and more obvious that they are made for each other. But they are afraid that bringing sex into the equation could jeopardise the great relationship they have already struck up (that took such a long time).

The great script was nominated for an Oscar and there is little wonder. Nora Ephron's screenplay contains dialogue that is witty, funny, memorable and smart. Harry's philosophies particularly stuck out for me. When he discusses the impossible friendship between an attractive woman and a man, I laughed because I realised how accurate he was. I'm sure any guy can remember being good friends with a girl, but occasionally contemplating sex.

The two main stars are in their youth, and hence still in their prime. Billy Crystal's engaging voice breathes life into the Oscar-worthy screenplay. Crystalisms are frequent occurrences throughout the film. Meg Ryan is an actress that I've never thought highly of. I guess her typecast role is in films I have no interest in seeing. But because Meg is so young here she is talented and a delight to see on the screen.

The film is highly predictable at times, granted, but there's a great story filled with moments of romance and lovability.

When Harry Met Sally is the pinnacle of quality romantic comedy. Without this first class comedy romp there would be no romantic comedy genre. Trivia fact: that's director Rob Reiner's mother delivering the famous line "I'll have what she's having" after Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm in the middle of a restaurant. Guys, tip for a date: have this one in your DVD library and watch it with your girlfriend without delay.

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Sci-fi masterpiece!

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 22 April 2008 10:27 (A review of 2001: A Space Odyssey)

"Good morning, Dave."

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is a truly groundbreaking, unforgettable, incredible science fiction experience unlike any other film you are ever likely to see. Kubrick is a true visionary, and the entire film is a visual feast that will be devoured by the eyes of science fiction fans.

Many filmgoers will look upon 2001 as a load of tripe that is boring beyond belief. While these people are entitled to their own opinion, I still regard the film as a masterpiece of the highest order.

2001 is a vastly unique film that is mysterious, thought-provoking and just immensely fine filmmaking. The special effects won an Oscar for a very good reason, as they present viewers with an astounding vision of the future. The state-of-the-art special effects are still fundamentally impossible to fault; the filmmakers use models, matte paintings and extensive sets. For a film of the 1960's, it most certainly does not feel dated one little bit.

As the movie opens, we are shown the dawn of man; a time when monkeys still occupied the planet. Fast-forward many thousands of years and we are looking at space-crafts in the depths of space. The film mainly centres on the crew aboard a space ship controlled by the advanced HAL 9000 computer (voiced by Rain).

The crew are on a voyage to the moon to investigate a mysterious monolith discovered beneath the surface. The plot is expanded over the film's 140-minute running time, and to be honest I felt that Kubrick wasted no time during the film's duration.

While many will think the pacing is painfully slow, I found the film not slow but fascinating. The visual effects showcase some marvellous special effects that even had me in awe. The effects were created in the pre-CGI days, and yet the effects are still even more effective than much of the CGI we see in modern productions. It's blended seamlessly and Kubrick uses brilliant camera work to further solidify its overwhelming impression. It never seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere; and thus takes its time for maximum impact. Some scenes are merely shots played out to minor voices or heavy breathing. And the conclusion of the movie is simply hypnotic imagery with spellbinding music.

The film was much talked about after its initial release, and it is still widely discussed to this very day. The movie is very mysterious, with multiple layers piled on top of each other to present the audience with the opportunity to make their own interpretation. The magnificence of the filmmaking lies in the fact that the film defies explanation. It's a visual marvel and a groundbreaking achievement in motion picture history because of this very fact.

When I was younger I couldn't understand what on Earth was going on because of how enigmatic the film was. But I've grown to understand that this was the very point of the movie. It was never meant to surround the viewing audience with blatant information, but rather the unfathomable nature lets the audience draw their own conclusions.

The end of the movie leaves a baffling, profound impact on the viewing audience; it's overwhelmingly different, it sets a new genre, it sparks thought. In a nutshell, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a sci-fi masterpiece that cannot be missed. It's provocative, brilliant, fascinating, engrossing, stimulating, enthralling, captivating, influential - and any adjective branching off from those words, as the film wears them all with aplomb. This is by far Kubrick's best work, and is still up there with the best films of all time.

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Worth watching. Nothing special, though.

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 22 April 2008 08:21 (A review of Along Came Polly)

"It's an art opening for this Dutch guy, Jost. His art sucks, but he used to sell me really good pot."

Along Came Polly is your usual conventional by-the-numbers romantic comedy that is good for nothing more than a good laugh. As usual, these kinds of movies are reeled out frequently by the studios just to soak up some light money.

As the film opens, Reuben Feffer (Stiller) gets married to the girl of his dreams named Lisa (Messing). But while the two are enjoying their honeymoon, Lisa dumps Reuben for a muscle-bound nudist French scuba instructor (Azaria).

Reuben is heartbroken, but his best friend Sandy (Hoffman) encourages him to move on, get over Lisa and find someone else. At a formal party, he meets Polly Prince (Aniston) who was an old class mate of Reuben's. The two strike up a good friendship, although Reuben wants to take things further than that. But Polly, who's scared of commitment, is reluctant to move to the next level and troubles ensue.

Like I stated before, this is strictly a by-the-numbers affair that isn't a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. There are a few good laughs, most of which are toilet oriented. Like most of Ben Stiller's films, his performance is good (although he always does the same type of role) and there are some funny, witty lines that he delivers. That said, the laughs are only occasional and there are very few that are actually memorable. And, like all movies in this vein, there are moments when the fun is over until the very end when things turn out okay. The same old formula is becoming very tiring!

Jennifer Aniston is at her usual standard here. She seemed to resemble her character from Friends in a sense. Philip Seymour Hoffman is actually pretty decent in an unusual change on his usual role. I never would have expected someone of his stature to pop up in a romantic comedy like this.

Along Came Polly was never meant to be anything groundbreaking or any sort of a masterpiece...and it isn't. That said, it isn't terrible either. I enjoyed the movie as it is told well and has some good gags (being from Australia, some of the Aussie gags had me in stitches). Nothing we haven't really seen before, but worth a rental at least.

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Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2008 07:11 (A review of Into the Wild)

"The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences."

Sean Penn's beautiful film Into the Wild is yet another masterpiece of 2007 that divides the blockbuster/action lovers from those who seek magnificent filmmaking.

Into the Wild is a gorgeous production affluent in poignant messages about life. The 140-minute film is exquisitely paced and carried by not only the performances but elegant shots that depict beautiful pictures of nature.

The film is based on a best-selling novel by Jon Krakauer that tells the tragic tale of a young man who escapes the banalities of life, leaves his middle-class family and explores the world. Christopher McCandless (Hirsch) graduates from university with fantastic grades. His marks will open up endless opportunities for jobs and careers for his imminent future. But Chris doesn't want to continue an acquisitive life that is orientated by money and materialistic possessions. Instead he wants to travel to Alaska where he feels nature will provide true happiness free of obligation and relationships. Chris donates most of the remaining money of his college fund to charity, burns the rest and hits the road as a dirty hitchhiker under the alias of Alexander Supertramp with the goal of Alaska in mind.

His excursion introduces him to a procession of people whom he becomes emotionally involved with. These people shape Chris' life and are touched by his vigour and dedication that will lead him to his eventual ambition of reaching the wilderness of Alaska. Chris is an inexperienced bushman but is devoted to his belief of finding contentment in the natural world away from a world that relies on wealth and materialistic belongings.

Into the Wild is powerful, riveting and moving. Sean Penn's direction is fundamentally perfect. He wrote the screenplay and transitioned this script to the big screen. The cinematography was one of the first things that really struck me. The colour palette felt natural; showcasing some landscape scenes that are absolutely beautiful to watch. Be it running water, stunning mountain ranges, animals in their natural habitat or the wind grazing the trees; these are all unique examples of accurately showing the mainstream environment of its location. Even shots that show the mundane city or the typical life of suburbia look graceful thanks to the great cinematography and powerful score. The soft guitar music was frequently utilised and it gives each shot a magical feeling to it. The music suits each and every scene it features in; each note was carefully planned out to suit the shot that it's being used for. This care and dedication to on-screen perfection means that the audience can never be bored.

I was never bored in amidst the fascinating events and the engaging story. Emile Hirsch's performance as Chris/Alex is close to Oscar worthy. I will admit that his character was a selfish human being who brought the tragedies upon himself, but Hirsch plays the role faultlessly. Hal Holbrook was nominated for an Oscar for his minor role in the film. He only appears for little time during the final quarter, but the character is one of the most significant in the film. Hal's performance has a heavy, powerful impact on the audience. He almost had me in tears during his important lines that are vital for the advancement of the story. Jena Malone was a stand out as Chris' sister who also delivers lines of narration throughout the film's duration.

Into the Wild is a remarkable tale that is thoroughly engaging and immensely entertaining. Into the Wild is stunning, gorgeous and memorable. It celebrates the extraordinary, tragic tale of an ambitious man who abandons his money-orientated existence and gives up all possible prospects of becoming highly successful in the pursuit of happiness. Highly recommended.

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Spielberg's reputation is well earnt!

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2008 03:23 (A review of Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

"Have you recently had a close encounter?"

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a miraculous piece of science fiction cinema, and is unquestionably one of Spielberg's many groundbreaking masterpieces created during his youth.

The film also marks Spielberg's first invasion film, with two other equally impressive invasion films to follow years later. Before Close Encounters, Spielberg had already made a name for himself thanks to his skilful effort in making Jaws two years previously.

Undisputedly among the best science fiction movies of all time, Close Encounters of the Third Kind follows a young father named Roy Neary (Dreyfuss) who lives a general suburban lifestyle with a family and a mortgage. On one night Roy finds himself out driving in the middle of no-where. While in a state of disorientation, Roy experiences a 'close encounter' with a UFO. He strongly believes in what he saw, and what follows is a personal struggle in addition to a descent into madness.

Like most of Spielberg's movies there are lots of absorbing recurring themes; principally, the theme of a neglectful father. Because of Roy's obsession with the strange occurrences with aliens he neglects his family and begins going insane. This is played to perfection by Richard Dreyfuss. The man can act extremely well; he portrays a very likable man despite the characters flaws created by the screenwriter.

The special effects still look absolutely staggering, with alien spacecrafts that look out of this world! The design is flawless and revolutionary, marking one of the first invasion films not to include the trademark 1950's style flying saucers. The use of lights was especially stunning, and the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond is outstanding.

The impressive visuals are accompanied by John Williams' evocative score. The use of choirs during key scenes creates such an exceptional atmosphere and is perfect for use during scenes that showcase such marvellous special effects.

Steven Spielberg, still a young man, put everything he could into this movie. His incredible vision is realised on screen in an inspirational way. The middle section of the movie is tight, but requires patience on the part of the viewers. Because of the fascinating style it's impossible to feel bored.

Of course this invasion film is not concerned with action or the end of the world, but the beautiful bond that mankind can share with creatures from another world. Many criticise the conclusion for the movie, calling it unsatisfying. The ending is perfect and symbolic. I could not think of a better way to finish the already perfect experience.

Close Encounters is a remarkable science fiction film that cannot be missed. Both critics and audiences adored this movie when it was first released, and its original impact still remains. Watch it without hesitation.

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One of Spielberg's masterpieces!

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2008 03:19 (A review of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial)

"E.T. phone home..."

I don't know if it's possible, by any stretch of the imagination, to find Steven Spielberg's E.T. anything less than a perfect movie. The whole experience completely blew me away, and just the thought of this movie being made almost 30 years ago makes the film seem even more amazing.

The whole movie has not dated one bit. Every time we see that little fat alien it never looks fake - not even for a second. For the whole time he looks incredibly real, without any hint of flaws at all. The whole story is classic, and the whole experience is filled with moments of true nostalgia.

E.T. is the tale of a little ugly-but-loveable alien who comes to Earth with others from his species. But as the government arrives at the scene, the aliens pack up and leave...inadvertently leaving behind one of their own. The story then turns to a young boy named Elliot (Thomas) who lives with his family. In a bad state of mind because of the recent divorce of his parents, Elliot is having trouble coping. But one night his whole life is changed when he finds the little alien in his garden shed. Of course, no-one believes what he saw...until Elliot decides to bring the alien into his home and harbour him from the harsh world that surrounds them. But the government have not called off their search for the little extra terrestrial they know was left behind, and now know where he is hiding.

E.T. is a film filled with incredible power. With each new film Spielberg sets the bar even higher with his new state-of-the-art special effects and innovative concepts. Spielberg conceived the whole concept himself, and this only heightens my respect for the man. His directing is always done to perfection. He knows how each shot will play out, and must reach perfection before the film's completion.

And John Williams' score...was absolutely flawless. The music gave me goosebumps because it was so powerful, and it still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. The power of the movie never wears off no matter how many times you've seen it. If anything, it's more powerful with each new screening. The score is triumphant, inspirational and poignant.

The whole sound design was amazing. The little alien sounded so oblivious and innocent, and his tone of voice is so gorgeous not to mention adorable.

Performances are loaded with power. Young Henry Thomas, star of the show, carries the film incredibly. He's a young actor, but he can't be flawed in terms of acting skills. He had me in tears. It was interesting seeing young Drew Barrymore in the cast. She's still a young girl and she looks so delightful.

Almost 30 years on, E.T. is a film that still captures the hearts of contemporary audiences. It stands the test of time and is a true classic. I was in tears for the whole movie, and you will be too - in terms of both sadness and the poignancy of the experience. Do not miss this one or you will be passing up one of the greatest films of all time.

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A classic. Not to be missed.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2008 03:14 (A review of Cool Hand Luke)

Cool Hand Luke is a forever classic movie that tells the fairly simple story of a man who just doesn't know how to give up.

During the opening credits we are introduced to a man named Luke (Newman); he's drunk and cutting the heads off parking meters. His crime isn't seen with sympathy and he is sentenced to two years on the chain gang in a prison camp. His treatment is inhumane as the prisoners are forced to work long hours under the boiling hot sun performing maintenance duties on roads - they re-tar the surface, shovel out clogged ditches, etc. And at night the slightest contravention leads to a night in 'the box'; that is, a small shed where a prisoner will be in solitary confinement. Luke approaches his punishment with a smile on his face. His spirit can't be broken no matter how harsh the conditions are. He's silent most of the time and he's not a trouble-maker. His nickname amongst the prisoners becomes 'Cool Hand Luke' to match his cool personality.

The prison warden (Martin) is not pleased with Luke's attitude and aims to break his spirit. This conflict becomes the heart of the film.

Cool Hand Luke is a memorable movie that is a study of the unbreakable human spirit in the face of oppression. It's not a prison movie, but a simple tale about failure to conform in a world that requires it.

Although a dialogue-driven drama the film has a great message and is filled with memorable sequences. The film is long but it's not overlong. Each scene has a purpose in relation to the advancement of the story; each scene further develops the character of Luke and his indestructible spirit. By developing the character so effectively we can easily empathise with him during his dilemma later on into the movie.

Paul Newman delivers an unforgettable performance as Luke. Many may regard this as his best performance. He was nominated for an Oscar and his portrayal is full of heart, but it's still up for debate as to whether it's his best performance. There are many familiar faces present in this production. George Kennedy achieves a highly memorable performance. His character recognises that Luke is a man who can't be beaten. Also look out for a very young Dennis Hopper.

The music by Lalo Schifrin emphasizes the drudgery of working in a chain gang. The music also underlines the heart and spirit that is a recurring theme in the movie. The soft guitar music is especially effective in creating this type of atmosphere.

Cool Hand Luke is a great film that is a classic in every sense of the word. Its great messages alone make the film worth watching. A must for film buffs.

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