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Reviews

Kill Your Friends
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Kill Your Friends: "Music" can jog on
'Kill Your Friends' tells the story of an A&R rep who's literally kills his way to get to the top of his field. Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is aiming to be the head of A&R at the recording label that he works for, but keeps being shunned for other coworkers. Since this does not sit well with him, his jealous rage turns into a murderous rage and eventually leads to an 'American Psycho' type story.

The film touches on points that sat well with me on a personal level, such as:

  • music is terrible - bands are terrible - music and bands are terrible


While I appreciate music, I don't like it. Does that make any sense? Anyways, Stelfox reflects the same thoughts. However, his ambitions of success and taking everyone down in order to get to the top of the ladder are paramount. What ever musical tastes and favourites that he had are long gone.

The story takes place during the high of the BritPop era, way back in 1997. Pretty much all of the music from the era was released during the film's time frame. This includes music from Blur, Radiohead, and others.

It is a good, British comedy to start. As it continues, the film seeps into Stelfox's darker side, and the film ends up in the same realm. Things get nasty at points, including fraud, framing, and blackmail. The story adds to sadistic tendencies and leaves a mark in your memory. While we think about doing these things, it's hard to imagine that we actually act on them.

Again, American Psycho.

Desierto
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Desierto: Running in the desert while being chased by a racist with a sniper
Gael García Bernal is one of many migrants who tries to cross into the United States in 'Desierto'. While he and many other migrants attempt to enter the United States via badlands and flat desert, the majority of them are picked off by a crazy, racist sniper. Bernal and a few others attempt to flee the crazy racist before they're left to rot in the desert.

This film pretty much had no script. What ever little dialogue it had wasn't terribly important, and the villain of the piece talked either to himself or his dog about getting out of the Hell that he lived in while near the border. This was confusing, considering how much he was defending his land from migrants, yet he wanted to leave the Hell that he was living in.

Also, when one watches a film in a packed theatre and people are laughing at important scenes, then either something was lost in translation, or the movie is a farce, and this movie wasn't lost in translation by any means. The villain was plain terrible.

At the Toronto International Film Festival, it won the the FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations. Feel like I need an explanation about this.

While it was shot in a decent way, one hopes that Jonás Cuarón pieces together a better script in the future.

El Club
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- The Club: Exposing evil through brutal honesty
Pablo Larrain (No) returns with another story that shadows his country with 'The Club'. Before the details emerge, this story is nothing like 'No'.

'The Club' takes place in the somewhat remote coastal village of La Boca Navidad where a house of secret guests exists: they are either child molesters, baby snatchers, or were active supporters of Pinochet, and they were all Priests. They have all been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for their crimes and sent away to this house as not to harm the Church's image instead of being put in the public eye and then thrown in jail. The house is quarterbacked by a Nun who also suffered a similar fate as her house guests.

One day, a new guest comes to join The Club, only to be eventually tracked down by a former altar boy who shouted claims of constant abuse from outside the house for him to hear. Not long after, we learn that these claims are true, and the reaction sets off a further investigation into the requirement for the house and the livelihood of the guests who reside there.

'The Club' isn't an artistic work that should be shared for praise and glorified for any kind of distinction. Instead, it clearly details the horrific nature of how the Catholic Church deals with their worst offenders — by putting them in houses in rural locations, 100% funded by the Church. As the film progresses, we learn that the house mates have ways of passing the time — good and bad. Some are healthy, while others are vices. Eventually, when the house comes under inspection by the Church as to whether it should remain or not, extreme actions are taken to try and keep things intact.

While advertised as a dark comedy, this film is almost nowhere near that. It was intended to show the evil behind the Church, and that its image cannot be tarnished. In a continent that houses 40% of the world's Catholics, a film like this definitely sticks a thorn in the Church's side. It gets dark, it gets rather nasty, it gets brutal, but, while it's just a story with fictional accounts, they were created via true stories over the years.

Watch this film with the expectation that you will be shocked by what you see and hear, but hopefully you will be moved enough to know that there's evil where good supposedly resides.

Mænd & høns
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Men & Chicken (Mænd & høns): Actually worth the surprising story
Anders Thomas Jensen has been known for spawning very creative stories, ones that are arguably designed for the absurd. Even if this is the case, there's an underlying genius to what he has created with 'Men and Chicken' (Mænd & høns). Whatever the idea might have been, it came together in the end perfectly.

The story revolves around two brothers from Denmark who suffer from grotesque appearances and other mental issues that hinder them on a daily basis. While one brother, Gabriel, is a University professor who can't maintain a relationship, the other is the loose-cannon, Elias (phenomenally played by Mads Mikkelsen), who also has relationship issues and can't seem to go more than an hour without having to gratify himself.

The brothers learn from their now deceased father that he was not their biological father, that the real one is a Geneticist who specializes in Stem Cell Research, fathered both men with different women, and that he resides on a remote island. While this excites Gabriel at first due to his assumptions that him and Elias could not be related, they embark on a journey that reveals their true family history. They find out that they have three other half-brothers who live on the remote island, and surprise surprise, they have similar features. While Elias is able to, say, communicate with the loners of the island in far less civilized methods, Gabriel attempts to help improve their ways of problem solving by talking and not by hilarious slapstick comedy beatings.

It seems as if the story gets its inspiration from Kafka's 'The Metamorphisis'. So very "Kafka-esque" ('Mission Hill' reference). I'll let that idea sit with you.

The film breaks the barriers of creativity in storytelling from both a comedic and dramatic perspective. It opens and closes as if reading a kids storybook, the musical score has a certain creepy feel to it, and the makeup and design all around was made to give the characters a worn down and dirty look that couldn't have possibly been any better.

What was really fantastic about the film was despite the absurdity, the story really gelled into something of substance and quality. It told us that aren't able to choose our family, and that being different is the best thing in the world.

The film ends on the note that every life -- be it creature or human, ugly or pretty, fat or skinny — is truly a small miracle. Things happen that are out of your control, and when you learn about what who you really are, it is possible to find comfort and acceptance.

"For the very simple reason that life is life, and that the alternative is not preferable."

Victoria
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Victoria: A night out in Berlin, and the next day somewhere else
A good experiment every now and again shakes up the cinema world. Perhaps a good idea makes an actor better, and through that, a quality performance.

'Victoria' tells the story of a young woman who befriends a group of men after a night of partying in Berlin, only to get very close with one of them and then eventually join them in a wild escapade that will likely change the course of her life — all of this over the course of two hours and twenty minutes, all shot in one take.

The film's one-shot take experiment rings similar to Alexander Sokurov's 'Russian Ark' where he filmed a 96-minute Steadicam sequence shot. Here, while the rules for editing and lighting clearly are different, the whole one-shot take idea quickly leaves your mind after a while. Instead, it's the characters and their natural conversations that easily garner your attention. While Victoria gets along with the gang of friends, she gets the closest to the one who began talking to her in the first place, Sonne. Not long after the groups original hangout, Victoria and Sonne eventually go by themselves to talk. Victoria reveals her past as a girl growing up in Spain who had a career ahead of her, but now aimlessly wanders around Europe with nothing binding her anymore. The film takes its time getting to the advertised suspense, but without the character development, the film would practically fall flat on its face.

The interaction between the characters is the best part of the film. Everything feels very natural and unforced, giving it a valid feel as if you are the one who was out partying all night long. The film is also backed by a simple, minimalist score that helps pass the time during certain sequences, but also adds to the level the film is at.

Decent story, decent script, fun concept, but great character interaction kept 'Victoria' afloat. Don't expect this to be a life-changing film, but, if you can, try to put yourself in Victoria's shoes as you learn more about her. Would you do the same things that she did?

Hrútar
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Rams: Brotherly Love
Iceland is slowly working its way up the world cinema beanstalk. 'Rams' has garnered attention from around the world as being a beautifully-shot comedy-drama about two brothers who don't speak to each other and have to solve a local crisis together.

Both brothers, Gummi and Kiddi, are farmers who own and look after Rams and Sheep, of which they are heavily dependant on their livelihood for. The brothers, while still incommunicado, compete against one another in livestock competitions where Kiddi normally wins. When it is later discovered that Kiddi's livestock could be infected with an infectious disease called Scrapie, the entire village must have their livestock slaughtered and their domiciles cleaned up in order to prevent the spread of the disease as to rid of it for good. However, this could land a deathblow to the farmers as they need their livestock to make a living. Also, there's the personal attachment, apparently.

The film felt like a letdown as it was advertised as a balance of comedy and drama, but ultimately ended up feeling like a real bummer. Slow pacing and limited dialogue weren't enough to make this a memorable picture. The film won Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival. A commendable achievement, but there isn't much here worth preaching about. Perhaps a good night's sleep, maybe.

Desde allá
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Desde Allá (From Afar): A long-distance relationship
'Desde Allá' (From Afar) slowly and carefully brings you into the world of Armando, a wealthy loner who spends his free time coercing Caracas street gang youths to go back to his apartment so he can enjoy their company while pleasuring himself. He finds Elder, another street youth, who he runs into trouble with at first, but eventually end up bonding to the point that their relationship becomes physical.

In terms of both Armando and Elder's chemistry, it's nothing to rave on about. Because they are such opposites, it's easy to see how they clash, but that's as far as it goes. It's more of a strange encounter because they are such different people, especially Elder, who starts off the film as being vehemently homophobic but oddly changes after some time with a very limited showing of affection and care.

The film, which recently won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, goes about its storytelling by long tracking shots or stationary frames that have a lot happening inside of them. Very little dialogue is exchanged, but looks and actions speak louder than words in this picture. While it keeps the suspense a bit on the up, others might want consistent dialogue, which this film doesn't have.

The film should be praised for several things: talking about a taboo subject in a country like Venezuela, and showing the issues that are happening in the country, which includes the long lineups for basic necessities and consistent criminal activity.

Without writing spoilers, what really makes this film is the ending. It's fairly open- ended, and it's a bit shocking to say the least. During the TIFF Q&A, Directory Lorenzo Vigas was rather inquisitive of the audience, trying to find out what they thought the ending was about. Not all films should provide the necessary answers for the viewer, but good films allow for interaction and further interpretation.

On a further note, this film was NOT selected by Venezuela as its Best Foreign Film selection for the upcoming Academy Awards. I'm not sure if this has to do with the topic. I haven't seen the actual selection 'Gone with the River' (Lo que lleva el río), so I can't comment. However, it seems odd that this film, which is showing at several world film festivals, and was in competition for the Golden Lion — and won — was NOT Venezuela's official selection.

El abrazo de la serpiente
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Embrace of the Serpent:
For the things we don't see, or weren't around to see, 'Embrace of the Serpent' attempts to re-image a dark past in our history.

Karmakate is the last survivor of his tribe, living in the heart of the Colombian Amazon. At two separate points in time, he is asked by foreign scientists' Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evan Schultes -- both with different purposes -- on how to find a scared healing plant. The film borrows a lot of its content from their diaries from when they had commissioned Karmakate to help them in 1909 and 1940, respectively. He is conflicted as he has no ambition to help "the White man" because his tribe was wiped from the Earth by them, and he lives his days by himself.

The film doesn't beat around the bush. As it progresses, it becomes evident that the story is about the devastation of colonialism and what it had done to the land & its people. Everything from spreading Catholicism to Rubber Farming, more and more they see the land changing for the worse.

It was impressive to not only hear these actors speaking Spanish, but also being able to converse in the native tongue of the locals, including the several other languages that were used through out the film. Couple that with the beautiful cinematography, and you have yourself quite the masterpiece.

Fans of Miguel Gomes' 'Tabu' would likely enjoy this. Shot in black and white. Beautiful transitions and landscape shots. Winner of the Art Cinema Award at Cannes. Expect this film to go for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

Mi gran noche
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- My Great Night: Everything's a wonderful mess
'My Great Night' (Mi Gran Noche) is Álex de la Iglesia's latest dark comedy romp where a TV taping for a New Year's Eve special is happening (in October) and the people inside are slowly going insane from the monotony of it all. Plus, constantly dealing with personal issues and other madness behind the scenes make up for a collection of entertaining stories that eventually clash.

Iglesia keeps his typical pace of quick comedy going, with quick exchanges and constant surprises; it is rare that you are waiting for something to happen. He brings back the majority of his common cast, along with Spanish singing sensation, Raphael.

While most of Iglesia's films can be somewhat sadistic and violent, this film lacked a lot of that typical content. However, he managed to replace it with more racy/sexy humour. Don't worry -- he levelled it out with some violence for the fans. Regardless, this decision made the film a lot better than anticipated. His previous film, 'Witching and Bitching' (Las brujas de Zugarramurdi) fell flat on its face. This film bounces back in fantastic form. Plenty of laughs for everyone!

For a bit of a gauge, this film is somewhat similar to 'The Perfect Crime' (El Crimen Ferpecto), only a wider cast and more controversy.

Definitely give this a watch if you're a fan of Iglesia!

The Lobster
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- The Lobster: Another take on relationships
Yorgos Lanthimos gives us another taste of his monotone storytelling with 'The Lobster'. The story revolves around several nameless people who exist in a society that demands people to be in a relationship, or be transformed into the animal of their choice and be expelled into the wilderness to fend for themselves. Those who either become single through break-up or becoming widowed are sent to a hotel-like prison where they are cared for, but only for 45 days. If they fail to find a suitable mate, they are transformed and expelled.

It doesn't take long to realize that you're not watching a Sci-Fi flick, but more so a satire on relationships and how people should always be a part of one, that single life is frowned upon. Colin Farrell's character attempts to jump through the hoops of the hotel by doing as they please, but his and other people's mentalities reveal that they cannot stay in that environment and would rather live amongst the Loners who vacate the forests, or die.

We learn that mostly everyone who is a guest at the hotel is repulsive in some way: looks, attitude, or even a minor speech impediment. Eventually, it is understood that this brood of people -- losers, if you will -- are still supposed to be given a chance to find a mate and then live the rest of their dull life with that mate in order to avoid transformation.

While the film exaggerates for our entertainment, it paints a very clear picture about how we perceive relationships and how we must be in one to complete our lives. Clearly, the attitude towards this idea is frowned upon (without going into Spoilers). The entire cast does a great job meeting the tonal demand of Lanthimos' films: dry, monotone, and almost no emotion. Farrell does a great job being terribly awkward. Rachel Weisz narrates the film, reading awkward lines in exchange for laughs. This film should be praised for its photography and script, but not for its length. Perhaps 20-30 minutes could have been shaved off to spare one from nodding off at times, just waiting for the end to come.

'The Lobster' probably could have been a lot better had it been shorter. Despite its great script and hilarious pacing, the film eventually falls flat when it probably could have stayed on its feet.

Hardcore Henry
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Hardcore: Just plain fun
'Hardcore' is the riveting story of a newly-made cyborg who must save his wife from evil tyrants and...wait a minute. Who cares?? The whole movie is a blast!!

Ilya Naishuller is a young director who had a very cool idea to shoot an action film from a first-person perspective using a GoPro Hero3 Black Edition camera. The proof of concept was released as "Biting Elbows: Bad Motherf***er". It was pitched publicly and helped to successfully crowd-fund the feature, 'Hardcore'.

It's better to keep this short and sweet: the film is extraordinarily violent; not for the squeamish. It has plenty of action, free-running, stunts, and plenty of room for comedic elements. Even the opening titles give you a taste of what's to come!

Sharlto Copley (District 9, and other Neill Blomkamp projects) plays the main POV's assistant throughout the film. Copley definitely gives a range of character performances and is quality. Wearing many hats, he guides you along as if you were needing assistance in a video game, which, by the way, this film makes several references to. In particular, the Chernobyl level in Call of Duty 4 with Capt. MacMillian. Even the opening scenes are reminiscent of Half-Life, and a lot of the free-running scenes are inspired by Mirror's Edge.

For those who are wondering, no. You likely won't get dizzy watching a 90-minute action film from an FP perspective. Well, maybe you shouldn't sit in the front row. Otherwise, you will have a blast.

'Hardcore' is an all-around fun time. Just be okay with the violence. It's only 90 minutes of your time that you'll likely want to experience over and over again. Or, you'll just want to plug in a play a few games.

Either way, it's bloody fun!

Green Room
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Green Room: Slice'em up romp with Neo-Nazis
From the team that brought the world 'Blue Ruin', Jeremy Saulnier goes back to basics with 'Green Room.' A Punk-Rock band, in desperation of making some decent money while on the other side of the country, takes a gig at a somewhat desolate venue that frequents Neo-Nazis. When they witness a murder in the Green Room, then the classic Horror/Thriller movie romp ramps up.

The film opened TIFF's 2015 Midnight Madness category to great reactions. The film definitely had a few hearts pumping. People who are fans of 'Blue Ruin' will be quick to compare, but it's important to understand -- and Saulnier clearly indicated this post-show -- that it goes back to Horror film roots that 'Ruin' steered course of, and that's 100% okay. Think of the typical stuck-in-a-room slasher flick. 'Green Room' is plenty more gory, so be prepared. The film garnered a good cast, including Patrick Stewart and Imogen Poots, and of course, Macon Blair.

Well-executed action and horror. Did a good job at leaving people shaking and then eventually applauding. Only major gripe was the Stewart and Blair's dialogue were a bit difficult to hear at times.

See this in a packed-house cinema if you can.

Saul fia
(2015)

TIFF 2015 -- Son of Saul: Expect a little more than an education
Easily tagged as a Holocaust film (but shouldn't necessarily be), 'Son of Saul' explores the perspective of a Sonderkommando named Saul — a German Nazi death camp prisoner who's job was to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims — who finds a dying boy from the chambers and attempts to give him a proper burial who he claims to be his son, all during his time at Auschwitz. The film is uniquely shot from an over-the-shoulder perspective that keeps the viewer entirely focused on Saul, but still with the motions and actions surrounding him very noticeable (thanks to absolutely brilliant sound work in order to help achieve the eerie feel). 'Saul' reaches certain pinnacles of significant discomfort during scenes of execution — in the gas chambers and the burial pits — and a stone-faced Saul can do nothing but be forced to listen or watch.

At points, the viewer feels claustrophobic when being ushered from the trucks in the middle of the night to one's fate. While the main story of Saul's attempt to give his "son" a proper Jewish burial is what drives him — already accepting his own fate — the film goes beyond the typical WWII Holocaust story where you might only hear of incidents. In this film, the viewer is thrust upon into the fray of Hell, constantly following Saul through several one-shot takes that leave you wondering what is waiting for him.

A word to the wise: this film prides itself on authenticity, realism, and truth; 'Son of Saul' is painfully poetic.

Minority Report
(2002)

Justice Remains Blind
What's to say?

Well, I don't believe that I've seen Spielberg use such experimental camera work before. In fact, I've never seen him do something like THIS before. A.I. doesn't count, folks.

As a man trying to prevent crimes via future-tellers known as "Pre-Cogs" (sp), Tom Cruise works hard to clear himself of a crime that he's going to commit in the next two days.

The script works; the camera work, works; the acting works; the ending...was there. However, I didn't feel quite fulfilled by a movie that felt like it had dragged on way too long, but made some sense in the end. I'm glad I payed decent cash to see this flick, because it simply entertained my futuristically-creative self (a-la Robert Zemeckis BACK TO THE FUTURE). People should have fun watching this, but should also make concentrate on the detail that looks so unobvious.

Spielberg intentionally starts the movie with a pre-crime to help describe how the system works to the audience. A good idea, indeed. I credit him for taking an extra step in descriptive film-making. He also managed to fit in some comedy into this Sci-Fi flick of sorts. I've never seem Spielberg do such a thing, but hell, I liked it.

Overall, I was continuously watching. For a movie that's 144 minutes long, it can sure tell a crazy story about how any crime that is committed isn't a crime, until it has actually been committed.

Justice still has a place in democracy.

Following
(1998)

Nolan's foundation into solid film-making
'Following' describes the tale of an out-of-work writer who seeks inspiration from the people he follows on a daily basis. He continuously follows random people, until he is followed by someone else, a burglar, whom he learns the profession from and becomes very intrigued.

The movie has it's film-noir setting already deep-fried into the screen, with extra elements to boot. This, being Nolan's first piece of professional work, had his ideas written all over it. If you had seen his other movies (Memento and Insomnia), you would know that he follows along the same story lines as the others (and quite well, I might add).

'Following,' although a slightly chilling tale if you're the type who always looks behind them every 5-10 seconds whilst walking down a busy downtown street, gives you the idea of what it would be like to dig into someone else's life. Even though the main character follows a person to wherever they may go, he does not continuously follow them around the city afterwards. The only problem is that the main character, credited as "Bill," falls deeply and dangerously into one's secret profession.

Overall, 'Following' uses film-noir, minute suspense, and a twist-at-the-end plot to give you an idea of what might happen if you pass the red line that defines your profession.

Insomnia
(2002)

The past will come back to punish you.
(Pre-screen Review from Silvercity Theatres: Yonge And Englington, Toronto, Ontario)

As always, a European script makes it to American soil, and makes a moron out of the simple film-maker. Apparently, 'Insomnia' was written by a Norwigean (spelling), and it's flow manipulated this film quite significantly. Plus, having an excellent director behind the camera, and a great staring cast, I would have to say that it all led to a quiet ending.

No complaints about this film - there wasn't much to say, really. All around, 'Insomnia' carries the confusion, lost roads, and numerous side-effects that 'Memento' left with the viewer (as this film was directed by Christopher Nolan, who directed 'Memento'). Also, the cinematography shifted the movie-goer's perspective into an actual insomniac drive. For me, I felt the dread and fatigue that was pushing through Al Pacino's character as the film dragged on. However, it literally did me in, as I started to fall asleep within certain points of the film.

Pacino's character was faced with bad karma, as we find out late in the film. He had figured out that covering up the murder of his partner was only making things worse, and turning himself in would have made him feel a whole lot better about things. As for Robin William's character, he made me feel like he was an innocent man at times. His explanation about how he had committed murder seemed almost like it really was an accident. However, a man out of control, like himself, did not deserve to be around others if he were to continue on his life in the way he was planning on living it. Either him, and Pacino could turn themselves in and try to erase their crimes, or, they could face what decisions they had made in the past and continue on.

Overall, good film. Hell, it kept me silent for the first five minutes after the credits started falling.

Lola rennt
(1998)

Choose the door without the gun.
Try to think of it as this: If you drive down the street, and you notice two different ways of getting where you want to go, which one are you going to choose? And why?

So go ahead - choose direction #1. What happens? You might just get into a car accident, or you might see something that you're not supposed to see, or you might even get pulled over by the police. Choose the second direction. See what happens. You might save someone's life, or you might find some money, or you might even meet the girl (or guy) of your dreams!!!

These are the odds of life: you make your choices, and you witness your fate.

A-LA RUN LOLA RUN!

That was the exact same deal, and I'll tell you that this movie didn't hold back on those facts. You make the decision, and you either bask in your glory, or suffer the consequences.

The acting is decent, the speed was intense, and most of all, the cinematography was excellent. The part-animation deal was creative.

Unbelievably awesome movie...I love Lola. I want a girl like her. Lola, The Great.

Requiem for a Dream
(2000)

This movie makes 'Traffic' look like an anti-drug movie for kids.
In the most violent, destructive, and emotionally gripping manner, Darren Aronofsky (and Hubert Selby Jr.) has managed to make sure, that I, Garry Tsaconas, will never even go near drugs in my entire life.

The whole objective of this film was to give the viewer a direct observation as to how drugs (in this case, heroin and cocaine) can basically lead you from a high Utopia, into the final steps before death. (***Spoiler Alert Starts***) What was interesting about the movie was that none of the main characters die. They all end up at the lowest points in their one-decent lives, and can barely hang on to life anymore . When Harry (Leto) has lost his arm at the end of the movie, how many people walked out of the theatre and said, "B.S.!!!! That's not possible?" Think again. When inserting needles into the human body, one must be aware of using....oh I don't know, A CLEAN NEEDLE, PERHAPS?! These junkies get what they deserve. Period (***Spoiler Alert Ends***).

The acting, I must say, was excellent on behalf of all four main characters. I was very impressed at what I saw, especially since they worked with such a deep script. Marlon Wayans, for a typical comedian, managed to pull off an above-average performance. Jared Leto pulled a sweet job in this flick, nailing down an accurate Coney Island accent (although I'm not from Coney Island nor have I ever been there, the topic is up for discussion). Jennifer Connely did an alright job, but she wasn't up for any type of praise, I'd say. Ellen Burstyn carried about 50% of this movie. She does have talent, and she sure knows how to give you an impression or two. I can understand the whoop-lah of Julia Roberts getting the Best Actress nod at the 2001 Academy Awards, but she hadn't of been involved, I swear, Ellen Burstyn would've taken out the competition.

As for the directing and the cinematogrophy, it sure captured the detail that was needed to show the effects of this film. Dual-screen shots, quick-action sequences to show what the viewer already knows (i.e. someone either shooting up, sniffing coke, popping pills, or simply eating food), and certian angles and shots that controlled the entire room, all for the viewer.

'Requiem For A Dream' was not easy to watch. Well, to be honest, the second half of the movie was hard to watch. The first half is where the cinematic expertise comes into play. And for that, my hat is off to the cast and crew who were involved in this memorable film.

"I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress, and the television, and you, and your father. Now when I get the sun, I smile."

- Sara Goldfarb

American Pie 2
(2001)

The boys become men.
What a sequel. What a sequel.

I personally thought that I would NOT laugh as hard as I did for this movie, but DAMN did I ever! STIFLER WAS THE KING IN THIS FLICK! He was the one who made me laugh the hardest. A complete moron, and he stills gets the lesbians in the end. What a b*****d!

The movie generally revolved around the main guys, whom went up to a summer beach house to try and discover themselves, or "see the big picture."

It was interesting to see that the guys were looking in another direction for this story rather than try to get laid and say goodbye.

Everything worked out very well, especially for Jim, whom I'd say did the right thing. I know what you're probably thinking...Jim should've taken Nadia all night long, yea. Of course. Well, Jim was wise in doing what he did, and I probably would make the same choice.

Overall, great laughs, great story, great acting, and Stifler is the king.

Yaadein...
(2001)

A movie only few can relate to.
The thing about 'Yaadein' that people don't seem to like is that it clearly does NOT relate to them. Hindi movie-goers want a sheer love story that is mysterious, and only breathes within your head, and your heart.

'Yaadein' tells you that love can be extreme fickle. Because of this, it probably disappointed many people who expected Hrithik Roshan to TOTALLY score with Kareena Kapoor. It took a lot of doing and understanding, especially from the parents' side.

This film gives the movie-goer a good message: That abandoning family for business changes you, and it weakens your heritage and tradition. Even if it keeps the tradition in the family, some things still wont end up all perfect and wonderful. Money, business, and wealth kill tradition.

One further point of concern: Most Hindi film titles contain the world "Dil," "Prem" (sometimes), "Ishq," "Hai," or even the infamous "Mohabbatein." This is 'Yaadein.' MEMORIES. Try to cherish them, because love is not exploited in this film, like they are in others.

Rating (out of 10): 8.5

Ghost World
(2001)

Thora Birch carried this movie on her shoulders.
What's to be said about young talent?

Thora Birch carried this movie on her shoulders, and I swear......I HATED SCARLET JOHNSON IN THIS MOVIE! SHE WAS SUCH A....oh wait, the review. :)

Anyways, 'Ghost World' showed Enid and Rebecca what lies ahead of them. The second high school finished it became a slow moving roller coaster ride for the both of them.....well, really for Enid. Rebecca refused to learn about the real world, which kept her from actually getting along with anyone, including Enid.

The character of Seymour (Steve Buscemi) was done quite well, judging the fact that Buscemi is always like Seymour in most of his roles. He was your typical loser, but it was interesting how Enid fended for him, or "stood up for the little guy," just like herself. That showed that Enid was not cruel and devilish to everyone in this movie, but she slowly started to learn to lay off, as she was becoming one with the world.

Bottom line: Rebecca sucked. She was a bitch. I hated her. Period.

GREAT MOVIE! GREAT LAUGHS! GREAT ACTING! Good work, Thora. This movie was all yours.

Traffic
(2000)

Three different shades of colours...
I saw this movie basically for two things:

1) Screenplay - For a movie that lengthend to about two and-a-half hours, I was impressed as to how the screenplay kept everyone in synch with the movie. Every scenario got it's share, and every scenario ended up blending in with everyone else's scenario somewhat.

Probably the most interesting part was when Benicio Del Toro went to the baseball game at the end of the movie. I had no clue that the cast was going to come up like it did. For a movie of it's length, I could sense when it would end. For "Traffic," I couldn't see it. It's like it struck me in the face with cold water softly. That element also gave me the idea that this movie had no begining or end. Everything started in the middle, and everything finished in the middle. There was no positive solution; Montel (Cheadle) continued to keep his eye on Zeta-Jones' husband, Caroline (Christensen) tried her best to get off her addiction with the aid of her parents, and Jaiver (Del Toro) saw the youth that were going to be the future in the baseball scene.

2) Cinematogrophy - Spotting the imagery in a movie for the first time is very interesting and it gives you so many ways of looking at that particular movie. In "Traffic," there are three basic locations for the three scenarios: Mexico (Tijuwana, Mexico City), San Diego, and Cincinati/Washington, D.C. Everytime a scene took place in Mexico (mainly Tijuwana), the camera's quality was a bit different and a strong reflective colour of sun yellow was always there. In Cincinati and Washington D.C., the colour was always a clear morning-sky blue. In San Diego, it was right in between Mexico and Cincinati.

The point is, I noticed that where ever corruption lingered around (where it was visible), it was surrounded and shown by the strong yellow light of Mexico. Whenever the blue light was shown, it was in a place where order and attempted resolve to drugs was present. Supposedly, this blue light symbolized purified American; perfection. And, in San Diego,

the light was not too strong. No one could tell that Zeta-Jones' husband was the leader of a cartel. No one around their neighberhood could tell.

The light was neutral.

Bottom line: The movie's elements' two main elements (stated above) were what I could see flat out. If it hadn't been for those two main elements, not even the acting (which was excellent, by the way) could've saved this movie.

Excellent job, Mr. Soderbergh.

The Virgin Suicides
(1999)

Where the hungry go to die......
The movie is not just about general suicide, but the events that lead up to it. There are reasons for suicide. It's just that we will never find out what they really are.

Sofia Coppola did an excellent job on her first major project. Jeffery Eugenides wrote an incredible book. I read the thing twice in two weeks. I believe Sofia was purely inspired by Jeffery's astounding piece of work.

Even though more than half the cast did not really have any acting experience, they pulled through with help from Sofia. Even the single-shot scenes worked effectively with the darkness of the movie.

You can't get this anywhere else because it is PURE INDEPENDENT FILM.

"......and we will never find the pieces to put them back together."

Drop Dead Gorgeous
(1999)

A worthwhile experience of blinded America
The fact that the film was a fake-documentary (at least 95% of it) made so much sense of how a witch such as Kristie Alley's character can go to make her daughter win. I have seen such actions. HILARIOUS!

The movie was too funny! Excellent screenplay! I laughed even after it was over. Sure, the ending was corny, but spontaneous. As a major movie-goer, I look for different theatrical creations. "Drop Dead Gorgeous" proved to be one of them. Very creative and funny writing and directing.

Sometimes, amateur camera work is the way to go. This movie showed it all.

American Beauty
(1999)

This is the real world
This movie is like looking into a mirror. You are faced with making hard decisions everyday, thinking of how you are going to make it, without being physically, and mentally, tortured by the sickness of it all.

"American Beauty" is a fully-flexed simulation of what the world is like, outside of the movie screen. We all see what this, "beauty" is like, we just do not want to admit it.

The acting portrayed simplistic behavior of someone who cannot take the pain. Kevin Spacey seemed to reach that point well with his superb acting skills. Annette Bening reflected her mother-like personality as the typical, over-the-edge mom who has completley lost it. Thora Birch expressed teenage emptyness. She knew, somewhere in herself, that a normal teenager, acts like how Jane Burnham acts.

As it was funny in the begining, I chose not to laugh at anything else after the first half of the movie. I was too into it. I was psyched! But I never ever, ever, walked out of a movie, so stunned, shocked, and impressed for any other movie in my entire life of watching the silver screen.

To anyone who watched this movie, you have seen something that no other director could possibly do.

Cheers to Sam Mendel and Alan Ball.

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