After U [V for Vendetta] (103461)

V for Vendetta was really cool. I’m an action movie lover
and this was pretty sweet for me because it’s not just about mindless killing.
Well it’s still about killing albeit with a purpose.

In the beginning it is emphasized that everything that
happens throughout the film will be based on an idea, that being Guy Fawkes’
idea of revolution. The alternate universe gives us unfamiliarity and therefore
a sense of fear. Imagining a world in which the United States has been reduced
from most powerful nation, to a hodgepodge collection of infighting tribes, who
wouldn’t be scared?

It’s not a new concept though, totalitarianism and
vengeance. Those are all old stuff. What makes the movie great however is the
portrayal of fear, and the things that it can make you do, or not do. People
always talk about martial law and world war 2 and how horrible they were and
all that jazz. Well, this shows us just how crappy it could be. Media monopoly,
conspiracy, abuse of authority, extreme prejudice, police brutality, it’s a
very real threat that nobody wants to see come into fruition.

The problem with this film however, is that they make it too
simple. Unlike Primer (thank God for that), VFV keeps things easy to understand
by portraying the enemy as inherently evil. Sure V resorts to violence in his
methods, but ultimately there is not much conflict in his decisions as the ones
he brings punishment to are also inherently evil, so therefore no difficult moral
restrictions on his part.

Back in high school my English teacher was quite the
fanboy/comic book geek, so he would often give us comics as reading material.
He made us read Watchmen and V for Vendetta among others and it really felt
like déjà vu when I saw the Evey prison scene because even the angles of the
shots were nearly identical to the panels in the comic. Of course, it was much
more striking in the book because Evey was portrayed as literally a walking
skeleton there (think Auschwitz or Gulag) while naturally the Natalie Portman version, though bald, is still
elegantly beautiful. I think this was necessary though because most people
would lose sight of the point and instead focus on her transformation to
ugliness if they had stayed true to the original.

When the scene shifted to the Valerie Page story, I felt
moved. I believe it greatly changed my views on lesbianism and gay
relationships. I used to consider it as just a passing phase much like the
authorities in the story did, and if it wasn’t i just assumed it came about
from some sort of terrible traumatic experience or perhaps festering
insecurity. As a matter of fact, I even have this friend who is more or less an
open lesbian and I kept on telling myself that this was just because she came
from an all girls school and that college will eventually allow her to outgrow
her curiosity (her ex girlfriend did, and they are still friends). Now, I fully
understand her perspective and I am very regretful for the way I had been

All in all, VFV is great because it caters to popular demand
(flashy action scenes, dramatic emotional scenes), while at the same time
sending a message across (dangers of politics, importance of freedom). Truly
this is a must watch for anybody who isn’t Hitler.

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Posted by on 29 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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What a killer [Zodiac] (103461)

Zodiac was a crime-thriller that stayed true to its genre.
Very often I find myself watching films similar to this one. Detectives, murder
suspects, clues and theories, then at the very end a conviction. An easily
predicted and foreseen conviction. Directors often use this technique where
they make it really, really obvious that they want you to believe that this person
is the killer. Ideally people should be “shocked” to find out that it was
actually the guy that the clues don’t point to.

In Zodiac, the film is very realistic (it is after all,
based on a true story). Some clues point to Allen while some contradict his
involvement and point to other possible suspects. Also, the case lasts for many
years just like in real life where justice is often delayed due to lack of
evidence, reasonable doubt and alibis, most of them remaining unsolved to this
very day. Unfortunately, circumstantial evidence is not sufficient proof of

In my opinion the movie is very accurate in portraying the often
time-consuming and meticulous work of an investigator/detective. Graysmith’s
relationship with his family gradually deteriorates with his constant attention
on solving the mystery. Meanwhile, Avery turns to alcoholism after becoming
paranoid and Toschi is demoted. Frustration is at an all time high because of
the killer’s ciphers and messages that aim to ridicule the police. That could
possibly be one of the most irritating feelings in the world, knowing that you
were wronged by someone but powerless to retaliate because you don’t know who
that someone is.

Because the story is told from the eyes and ears of the reporters
and policemen hunting the suspects, we are never given a specific motive for
the killings, only assumptions. This is critical in adding tension to the story
and giving it that film noir vibe. We are left to our own imagination to deduce
the identity, motive and any discernable pattern from the killings.

I was quite happy with the casting they did on Zodiac. Each
actor seems to fit the character he/she is playing. Robert Downey Jr. plays an
arrogant prick who soon turns into an alcoholic (what a coincidence). Jake Gyllenhaal
is always the perfect poster boy for the typical novice (like in Jarhead). Mark
Ruffalo the hard-nosed but generally friendly professional (Shutter Island) and
finally John Carroll Lynch who just looks plain creepy for some reason.

I enjoyed the ending of the film because it provides a
little bit of closure but still leaves doubt over the identity of the Zodiac
Killer. This allows us to finish watching the movie but still thinking about it
long after the credits have rolled. What perplexes me though is how the hard
criminal evidence exonerating Allen could have been easily fabricated. The
handwriting may have been one of his victims or an accomplice forced to write
it on his behalf. The same can be said for the DNA sampling which reveal absolutely
nothing because the letters could have come in contact with anyone. Also, why
did it have to take 14 years for the original surviving victim (the one from
the beginning) to identify Allen as the real killer? Shouldn’t they have asked
interviewed him at the exact moment that he recovered and Allen became the
prime suspect? Just a few things to think about.

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Posted by on 29 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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An offer you can’t refuse [The Godfather] (103461)

Did you know that before Francis Ford Coppola’s The
Godfather came out, La Cosa Nostra was about as different as it could possibly
be? Contrary to popular belief, The Godfather was not based on the Mafia. In
fact, it was just the other way around; the Mafia was based entirely on the
movie. Before the film, the Family was nothing more than a bunch of cutthroat
thugs who would sell each other out at the slightest mention of cash. After its
release however, real-life mafiosos began to brandish values such as honor, loyalty,
tradition and some even altered their speech patterns to match that of Don Vito
Corleone’s which goes to show you just how much of an influence a great movie
can have on society (especially Italian-American immigrants).

Unlike other gangster films I have watched, which portray
crime as deplorable and allows you to view the movie’s events as either an
outsider or from the law’s point of view, The Godfather allows one to see
gangster life internally. It basically glorifies the idea of a crime syndicate
that looks out for each other and shows each other fondness and respect (fear and
respect are apparently synonymous). It makes you almost want to join in on
their brotherhood and revel in the glory. Keep in mind that the film shows none
of the actual crime rings supposedly operated by the family such as extortion,
prostitution, etc. It also portrays lawmen as arrogant and corrupt such as the
FBI agents who crash the wedding “disrespectfully” as well as the policeman who
is under a rival family’s payroll.

I think the most important aspect of this film is the
evolution of Michael, initially innocent and doe-eyed, to a ruthless, murderous
leader due to unforeseen circumstances. Basically, once you’re in the life, you
can never get out. I also noticed that true to life, nobody ever sees the wrong
in themselves, often justifying their mistakes. Though Michael at first
distances himself from his family in order to be accepted by Kay, he never
shows any attempt at stopping his family’s crimes. I found certain lines in the
movie particularly striking.

My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power,
like a president or senator.

Do you know how naive you sound, Michael?
Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.


Michael: Oh.
Who’s being naive, Kay?

I’m really glad to be able to watch this film. I used to
have this classmate who kept bugging me to watch it, which I think is precisely
why I never did. His constant praises for the film made me feel like it was
probably another one of those overrated fads that are abundant these days. It
didn’t help that said classmate always had slicked back hair, was fat, and
tried to be friends with everybody. Now, having watched it, I guess I can see
the appeal of having money and power, but this comes at the cost of other
people constantly trying to topple you over to get a slice of the cake. Still
it is a great film that truly changed the way people view crime.

I still liked Scarface better though. More chainsaws and M16’s.

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Posted by on 29 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Paris Je T’aime: The City of Love in a Nutshell (083568)

I personally really enjoyed this anthology film that broadcasted the talents of multiple directors, actors and artists all in relation to their love for Paris. It was sweet, charming, hilarious and so much more. A truly heartwarming experience, all 18 shorts that are presented in this anthology each shine in their own right and respectfully so.

One of the shorts that I enjoyed in particular was entitled “Tuileries” written by the Coen brothers and starring Steve Buscemi who I am a fan of. The way the film played with the emotion of love and how it humored the audience with over-the-top acting as a jealous boyfriend is enraged over the simple eye-contact that the character of Buscemi makes with his girlfriend is hilarious. The color tone and contrast of yellow and orange gave off a very warm atmosphere and was all the more enlightening and welcoming to the audience.

Another of the films that stood out to me was “Faubourg Saint-Denis” starring the gorgeous Natalie Portman. The way it told the story of a blind man’s relationship with a young aspiring actress and how he accidentally misinterprets her words as cause for a break-up between them, the way in which he suddenly reflects upon their time spent together whilst never mentioning anything to do with sight really made me realize the importance of those things that one can take for granted in a relationship.

However, one short in particular that I wasn’t fond of was “Tour Eiffel” about the story of two mimes falling in love. Everything was actually fine for me whilst viewing the short, up until the mimes began to use their feet as vehicles and move quickly about the town. This sat very awkwardly with me as everything else in the film was realistic except for that aspect. It was just simply too weird and felt misplaced, it never sat right with me throughout the entire short and made me feel uneasy.

The short “Parc Monceau” that starred Nick Nolte was excellent in playing with the minds of the audience. Filmed in one continuous shot, the short leads one to believe that Nolte is an elderly man seeking the heart of a younger woman whilst encouraging her to leave her current man, Gaspard. By the films end, we learn that he is in fact the father of the young woman and Gaspard her son. The twist is so effortlessly revealed through the camera’s subtle change in angle, from a trailing shot of the two characters talking along the sidewalk to it slowly panning as they walk past the camera, marking the turning point and twist in the film’s plot. Charming and sweet, this was one of my favorites in the anthology.

Lastly, the short entitled “Quartier de la Madeleine” that revolves around a young tourist falling in love with a vampire was captivating for obvious reasons, it had a vampire in it. It’s use of color (Black, white, blue and red) was very artistic and stood out amongst the rest of the films for that reason alone. While it’s ending unforgettable as the two fall in love and resort to sucking on each other’s necks instilled both a sense of wrongness and humor, it was yet another brilliant piece of work.

Ultimately, Paris Je T’aime was a great way to end the class, after following the heavy dosage of drama and violence in The Godfather Parts I and II, this anthology film was perfect in lightening the mood and ending the class on a very happy, joyous and humorous note. Overall, I have truly come to appreciate film from a whole other level, and now understand the importance of having an open mind and thinking out-of-the-box when viewing movies and films alike.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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The Godfather Part II: A Masterpiece Continued (083568)

The Godfather Part II, albeit a direct sequel to The Godfather, can be seen as a completely different film in its entirety. Detached from the first in the sense of style, the only thing it perhaps shares in common with its predecessor are the characters. The film is told in juxtaposition between the rise in power of Michael Corleone to that of a young Vito Corleone. It is done so in such a way that brings about a whole new edge to the franchise, it invokes understanding and reason as to why the mob life is the way it is.

What I enjoyed in particular was the style of the film, the juxtaposition between past and present (Vito and Michael Corleone) worked effortlessly for the plot and I believe the film benefitted from the two stories being compared and contrasted simultaneously. Every time the present story line of Michael cut back to that of Vito in the past, it was as if taking a fresh breath of air after spending much time submerged in the violence and cold heavy world of the gangster life that Michael lives. Looking back upon the life of a young Vito, we as the audience are exposed to his roots and I personally found it all the more captivating that the future Don was a very humble and sincere working husband that only did what he had to do for the love of his family. It shows that beneath the rough and cold-blooded exterior of the mob boss Don Vito Corleone lies the humble beginnings and compassion of a family man.

All of this juxtaposed with that of the rise of Michael as the new Godfather, it really sets apart how different the two are, although they are family. Michael is all about the business, at times he does show his respects towards the importance of family (He refused to have Fredo harmed whilst his mother was alive), while at the same time his cold-blooded gangster side is what controls him as he shows no hesitation in issuing the order to murder his brother Fredo towards the film’s end. Michael won’t stop at anything to remain in power, even his marriage falls a part as his wife no longer feels the love they once shared, in essence Michael is nothing like his father and that is made no clearer than when the two are contrasted right next to one another.

By the film’s end we are greeted with a flashback of the Corleone family during a birthday of Don Vito. During the scene we see Michael announce his enlistment into the army to fight in the war much to the disapproval of his brothers and family except Fredo, ironically he is the only one who supports his decision. The scene ends with Michael alone at the dinner table while the rest of the family leaves to greet Don Vito, the family can be heard in the back singing while Michael sits in the table, the film then cuts to Michael on a park bench alone staring out into space further emphasizing the displacement Michael feels towards his family, that he is a loner and that his actions should not come off as a surprise but more seen as a long time coming.

Ultimately, The Godfather Part II brings more depth into the characters of the Corleone family, especially in that of Michael and Vito, it is a tragic film at it’s core and it is this tragedy that drives the movie. Another classic, this film I personally enjoyed much more than the first Godfather.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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The Godfather: A Film That One Can’t Refuse (083568)

It’s difficult to talk about one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time, for the reason that there is just so much to be said. The Godfather for many is an instant and timeless classic, a movie that has set the standard for other films to strive to be like. I myself enjoyed the film, it falls nothing short of the epic ambiance that it instills right from the opening credits as the audience is greeted by the infamous scoring of the Godfather soundtrack. It’s tune now infamous and directly linked to heart and soul of the Godfather series.

A gangster film at it’s core, the Godfather is an epic tale of the Corleone family through the rise and fall of Michael Corleone. Filled with violence, blood and gore, at first glance this may seem as more of an action film than anything else. However after an entire screening, it would be rather obvious that this is a film best filed under the genre of drama. Francis Ford Coppola’s work is rightfully described as a masterpiece, and after viewing the movie I can’t argue with the high praise that I’ve always heard about it.

What I exceptionally liked about the film was how it was both sincere and sadistic in it’s own right. At one moment we as the audience would be listening to Don Vito talk about the importance of family and how even the involvement of narcotics in the mafia business would bring about nothing but trouble, in a sense Don Vito was a very noble and respectable man as the Godfather. However, in the next scene we would then see men being garroted and strangled to death by orders of the same man whilst being justified as all a part of business. The Godfather doesn’t fail to erect the cold, heartless and deceptive atmosphere of the mafia world.

Towards the end of the film, in its climax, the movie juxtaposes the irony between the sanctification of the catholic beliefs of the Corleone family during the christening of Connie and Carlo’s son to that of the relentless killing as ordered by Michael. In essence, although kept cool, calm and somewhat comforting on the surface, the mafia world is exposed for all its blood, gore and backstabbing that it enthralls. The Godfather speaks volumes not just about mob life but about the importance of family. What stood out to me throughout the film was how Don Vito never failed to teach Michael the importance of family and how he should place his family above all else. Amidst the gangster life that he lived, it was the lone bright spot that shed some light into the darkness of the Godfather.

The scene which I feel captures the soul of The Godfather film is the famous part when studio head Jack Woltz in terror is greeted in the morning with the fresh head of his most prized horse in his bed, covered in blood ( As Tom Hagen comes to greet Woltz with a caring and warm personality and nature, it completely masks his true intentions, that these people are going to get what they want no matter what the cost. The Godfather leads many into a false sense of security before whiplashing it right back into their face, this scene captures the deceptive spirit of the mob world and the coldness that it ensues, whilst being simplified as “business” which adds all the more to it’s heartless nature.

Ultimately, despite what the film may stand for, it is utterly a tale of epic proportions set in a gangster world. It is a film not worth watching but worth experiencing, a film that one simply can’t refuse.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Zodiac: A Murder Mystery at its Best (083568)

Zodiac, a film by the critically acclaimed director David Fincher, lives up to his repertoire and if not, may even surpass it if possible. The second time for me to view this film, I’ve come to appreciate it so much more. What Fincher has done is truly remarkable, taking what seemingly may come off as “boring” and “dull” in essence that this is a film almost entirely about research and study, instead he has used his skills and talent to produce a motion picture that will keep the bravest of souls at the edge of their seats in suspense.

Gritty in nature, the film revolves around the mystery of the Zodiac killer, based on true events. What I exceptionally enjoyed about the film as well was the excellent use of scoring and a soundtrack that would pierce directly into the souls of the audience. Although perhaps more than 90% of the movie is dialogue, it is what that dialogue revolves around that keeps the movie so entertaining and enthralling. Witty, smart and humorous,  the conversations had in Zodiac are a prime example of how dialogue can carry a film. The exchange of words between Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.’s characters are captivating and charming in their own right. As are the moments of dramatic silence when clues are coming together and the excitement that ensues of a character realizing a sudden connection in evidence or previous information that was mentioned.

I absolutely love it when a detective is putting together the pieces of a puzzle, it’s exciting, adrenaline packed and leaves the audience with the utmost desire to hear what this all boils down to. The twists are there, just as there are red herrings as well. It is in fact these false clues that leave the audience cringing at their seats, shrugging while trying to cover their eyes and ears and yet still can’t take their eyes off the screen. For example, when Gyllenhaal’s character is at the home of a movie poster maker for who he believes shares the same writing style as that of the letters from the Zodiac killer, the audience is met with an eerie silence and absolute shock when the man mutters “I made those posters,” thus insisting that this man is the killer himself. The tension in a split second is built to a breaking point and just when it seems that the situation could not get any more intense, Gyllenhaal’s character proceeds to go to the basement with the aforementioned man only to let his suspicions and fear get the best of him as it climaxes with him hastily running out of the household. It is these moments that make the film so amazing and emotional.

My personal favorite part of the movie was towards the end, when Gyllenhaal’s character enters the store where he believes the prime suspect of the Zodiac killer now resides. Previously in the film we hear Gyllenhaal’s character mention how he is driven to find this man because he needs to “look him in the eye and know it was him.” In this scene we see his character enter the store and ask for the assistance of an employee (the suspect), what transpires is a dramatic shot of Gyllenhaal’s character starting into the eyes of the suspect whilst nothing at all is being said. With nothing but that, the film is somehow resolved as he has fulfilled what he had set out to do, leaving the audience with closure that that man was indeed the Zodiac killer.

Ultimately, this was a fantastic film and has now become one of my all-time favorites. The eerie and violent nature of the film makes one want to look away and at the same time desire for more. A thrilling ride from start to finish, Zodiac showcases how murder mysteries should be made and its effect when at its best.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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