Author Archives: jolosarmientoparttwo

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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I Don’t Get It! [Primer] (103461)

Primer might be the most awful film I have ever watched in
my lifetime. The premise is interesting, time travelling theories usually are,
but not even that can salvage any sort of hope for a movie like this. Not only
was the techno mumbo jumbo jargon very demoralizing, they don’t even give us a
chance to absorb all of the complicated information before assaulting us with
another barrage of what is undeniably a steaming pile of bull. Much like
television shows such as CSI and NCIS, the creators of this horrid production
relied heavily on the incompetence of the audience, without even attempting
suspension of disbelief. They did however succeed in suspension of satisfaction
because the incomprehensible, dialogue, lack of substance, and outright
confusing plot combine to completely destroy any sort of positive feedback they
might be hoping to achieve.

It is true that science fiction requires viewers to just
blindly accept impossible things as fact. It happens everytime. They throw
terms such as “hyperdrive”, “antimatter” and “particle-charged laser beam of
death” at us and we will naturally eat it up for the sake of entertainment. Of
course we all know that it’s only true for the make-believe movie world (most
of us anyway). The second we walk out of that movie theatre we quickly dismiss
any notion of there being an actual “sdkfhsl” alien race on planet “Cthulhu”. Primer
doesn’t seem to understand this however. I don’t know, I guess I just felt
insulted because I knew that they were trying to sound smarter than me even
though they probably knew nothing about actual time travel. I honestly prefer
Donny Darko’s wormhole theory to this crap.

On the other hand, I suppose that the idea of having a body
double is interesting. It was also nice when i found out that they could
interfere in any way with the outside world for there will be unknown consequences,
which is why they often lock themselves up in a hotel room. This was realistic,
that is true, but it also limits the possibilities (if i remember correctly
they did not want to travel to the future because it was dangerous). Risking is
exciting, while playing it safe ultimately ruins the experience (once again,
this is not real life, it’s a movie, so please do something we real people
wouldn’t normally do). What probably redeemed the film for me would be the
moment that i found out there was a second time machine built as a failsafe.
This opened up countless scenarios for the plot to evolve but once again i was
disappointed at how needlessly complex they had to make it.

The ending was fine, basically just retelling the problem
but at a grander scale. They could have done a better job in building up the
tension leading up to that moment though. I didn’t really feel fearful of what
could happen because they didn’t exactly show me any horrifying catastrophe
resulting from their first experiment. In fact, it came off as completely
harmless and at the same time, useless (wow he became a hero at a party… what
happened to the MONEY!!).

Overall the movie was boring. And I’m not just being
stubborn because I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. No
matter who you are, do not watch this.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Down but not Out [Punch Drunk Love] (103461)

This was probably the first Adam Sandler movie i’ve watched
that wasn’t based on slapstick comedy or racist jokes. Most would probably read
that previous sentence and assume that Punch Drunk Love was a horrible
experiment that failed at being funny. On the contrary, the film wasn’t bad at
all. It might be Sandler’s own fault for being typecast as that funny dumb guy with
a good heart but i believe his performance (as an actor) in this film was his
best work to date.

I can somehow relate to him in terms of his being awkward.
Growing up, I found myself to be a bit more reserved compared to my peers. I
was no athlete and I wasn’t the most eloquent speaker in class. Needless to
say, I would often shy away from any birthday parties that I was invited to,
only attending if it was absolutely necessary. Okay fine I was totally an
introvert, or socially awkward as they would say. His behaviour was very
similar to mine I guess with the only difference being that I could hide all of
my insecurities and control my temper, only losing it when I was completely
alone and out of earshot.

I found his character to be quite unique in that he is
actually a pretty successful guy. He owns his own business and apparently does
well for himself. It was interesting the way he sought to take advantage of a
frequent flyer promotion because it shows that he is actually quite intelligent
and is a keen observer of details. Interesting to note is that he seems to
suffer from ADHD because one of the symptoms of this is obsessive-compulsive
tendencies. In many instances he also lies, denying that he said or did certain
things that he feels are embarrassing or humiliating.

I was very much surprised when Lena, Barry Egan’s love
interest, turned out to have the same unusual behaviour as Barry and that they
actually hit it off. It was actually giving me that whole soul mate vibe seeing
as how they are perfectly suited for each other. It was natural to see Barry
completely lose it after seeing Lena get hurt, as he has been waiting for
someone like her all his life, someone who could relate to him and communicate
with him without prejudice or malice.

I also felt irritated by his sisters who i think are too
judgmental, lacking any measure of sensitivity towards their clearly awkward
brother. They don’t even bother to try talking behind his back, instead letting
him hear of all their degrading insults.

At the end of the film I am glad to see that he found the
courage to confront the syndicate’s leader, who i don’t think was named but is
nevertheless a total jerk to him. This event signals a change in his demeanour
and could possibly symbolize the end of all of his turmoil (brought about by
the phone sex call and his refusal to pay up).

I am not sure what to think of the weird psychedelic
sequences that play out in between scenes but I suppose this would serve to
enhance the notion that Barry sees the world in a different light.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Spiritual Exercises [Hotel Chevalier/Darjeeling Limited] (103461)

Darjeeling limited is my favourite film to date (the ones
that we watched in class). Owen Wilson is such an amazing comedy actor, his
presence alone makes this movie Oscar-worthy. Anyways, I was actually very
surprised to see Bill Murray in a desert setting that isn’t Las Vegas. And also
the fact that he was attempting to catch a train, and failing miserably, sort
of gave me that poor, clueless foreigner vibe comparable to Tom Hanks’ The

I was very happy to finally encounter a comedy movie as this
is my favourite genre. Watching the short into Hotel Chevalier was, in my
opinion, a very important part of the whole experience as it provides a much
needed background for Jack, the youngest sibling. It was also a good idea to
keep the origins and purpose of the three brothers in the dark for the earlier
parts of the film. By keeping it vague, we were forced to use our imagination
to try to gather what was really going on there.

Seeing as they are in a foreign land, it was interesting to
note how awkward it was for them in trying to blend in with the crowd. They
were trying so hard to be spiritual and everything but their goofiness doesn’t
makes this very convincing. Still kudos to them for the effort.

The relationships between each character are pivotal to say
the least. From each of the brothers to one another, the brothers to their
mother, to their late father, etc. Clearly they all have abandonment issues and
each harbours resentment towards their mom, if only slightly. However, they did
in fact travel all the way to a far-off land, leaving their life and families
behind in order to get some sort of closure which shows that they still had
hope for some sort of reunion in their dysfunctional family.

The death of the Indian boy felt a bit out of place for me
because there was nothing comedic about death and that was when I realized that
this was what they were going through. Clearly they have not yet coped with the
death of their own father, with one of them still stubbornly clinging on to his
father’s material possessions insisting that he was the favourite. This was the
same brother who was soon to become a father himself which i think scares him a
little because he is on the brink of divorce and he does not want his child to
experience the same emotional burdens that he himself carries. We also learn
later on that Owen Wilson’s character attempted to commit suicide most likely
due to the isolation and midlife crisis.

I am glad to see that by the end of the movie, the three
brothers have learned to accept their past and each other. This was clearly
shown in at least four instances. When they agree to let Owen keep their
passports, when Peter, the middle brother gives the Francis, the eldest, his
father’s belt, when Francis himself tears apart the detailed itinerary he kept
on referring to throughout the film, and when they jettison all of their father’s
luggage together.

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Posted by on 26 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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Fame and Misfortune [Velvet Goldmine] (103461)

I was born into the 90’s and therefore I am forever in love
with the music of my era while at the same time despising most of those that
came before or after. Glam Rock came at a time when platform shoes and glitter
make-up were not only restricted to women, but were actually a part of the
status quo. When I think about it, the music could actually be secondary to the
image as I find myself liking the song, then immediately disliking it upon
discovering it was performed by cross-dressing queers.

A lot of the culture bothered me. It seems to me that everybody makes a point to be as
outstanding as possible in order to be accepted but wouldn’t this be
counter-productive seeing as how everybody is doing it. In their effort to
become an individual, they are actually joining the majority and conforming to
their new standards.

I felt sympathy towards Brian Slade. In his mind he wanted to change the world and
turn it into his own ideal paradise. However, it was clear that it was always
about generating income for his label. They influence him to wear certain outfits,
act in certain ways, and say certain lines that make him more marketable to the
general population. Worst of all, he is apparently oblivious to all of this. He
believes that what he has accomplished was actually due to his own ability when
in fact he merely copied it from Jack Fairy (a metaphor for this would be the enchanted
emerald that he stole from him). It’s the typical life of a superstar, when you’re
at the top, there’s no where to go but down.

It also felt disturbing to me because of all the homosexual loving. Not because of the
whole idea of homosexuality but because they treated it as some sort of fad or
trend that will allow them to be a part of the “in crowd”. The image was so
popular back then that people were willing to change their sexual preference
just for that. The site of Arthur Stuart jacking off to Slade’s image was so
pathetic even for a fanboy it sort of reminds me of the modern Justin Bieber
fans of today.

The music played an important role in the film not only to invoke certain emotions,
but also as a portrayal of the songs of that particular time period. I had yet
to be born during the pinnacle of glam rock and so i could experience none of
its allure and mystique that is until watching Velvet Goldmine.

I really like the Citizen Kane-like storytelling, as it adds to the overall mystery
surrounding Brian Slade. I’m only disappointed when sometimes I find it
difficult to chronologically arrange all of the scenes due to the constant
shifting between past and present day.

I would have to say that the strongest part of the movie would probably be the
development of the characters. Apart from Jack Fairy, each character was given
a fair amount of back-story which would explain their unique personalities. Arthur
Stuart is arguably the most fascinating character due to his complex set of
beliefs and values. Also, the amount of change he has gone through was quite
note-worthy as well, from an overdressed fop evolving into a serious-looking
reporter. If this was a self-induced change or if this was brought about by
societal restrictions we will never know though I would place my bets on the
latter as society seems to have a very strong influence on its denizens.

Overall I found it to be a very entertaining film that anybody should watch especially
if you are fond of music, fashion, and cultural identity crises.

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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized


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