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Comic Book Confidential (1988) July 31, 2006

Posted by Eury in Documentary, Movies.
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shoot me now!

Dir. Ron Mann

starring: Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller etc.,

I’m a person that is curious about many things and quite enjoy documentaries. I just knew this was going to be great, right? Comic books… who hasn’t read one? If you were alive in the last 50 years, there is a good chance you had a neat (or not so neat) pile in your bedroom. Some people read superhero comic books or war stories and others, just fun teen stuff like Archie and Veronica. There was something for everyone.
As a history lesson, there was much to learn. I had no idea that there was such terror that comic books would turn us or our children into violent, crazy, gun-toting, rock-hitting friends over the head psychopaths. There was also censorship. Each comic had to pass the “Comic Book Code” and were checked by some puritanical groups. Whatever they didn’t like they either edited out with white paint or simply did not allow to be published.

There were a few funny little videos included to show us examples of the hysteria that the advent of comic books created but on the whole, I was bored. The pace was slow and sluggish… I wish they would have mixed it up a little… it was very logical going forward in chronological order, but I couldn’t wait to get out of the gritty, smudged images and the bad sound. I understand the need for showing us the underground material that was produced, but I wanted to see comics that I recognized and thought were fun. Instead, the last 20 minutes felt like torture to me… I just wanted it to be over.

As I stated before, I usually really like documentaries… I often find that they make me interested in a subject I may little or no knowledge about. Although I could certainly not be considered a huge comic book aficionado, I have had my share of reading comics as a teen and even later in life. I wanted to like this… I really did; I just didn’t. As a historical document that states facts … yes, it does it’s job…, as a piece of work that I found interesting… except for a few funny videos, I’m afraid not. ūüėõ
I would have called this documentary “The Comic Book Blues” because, sadly, it just got me down.

Keywords: Superheroes, Comic Books, Censorship

Comic Book Confidential (1988) July 31, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Documentary, Movies.
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I think there ought to be a law against them

Dir. Ron Mann

Starring Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Frank Miller, Stan Lee etc

We can laugh at it now. In the fifties, comics were turning kids into juvenile delinquents panel by panel. This movie starts off echoing the sentiments of the times, with clips from a PSA-type information film about the dangers of comics. It is a shadow not unlike the one currently hovering over videogames, usually cast by confused parents of irreverent children.

Comic Book Confidential flips the pages of comics history, with candid, informative interviews with people who were in the business as things happened. How comics evolved from sunday funnies for the kids, into the diverse multi-market of today (well.. 1988 anyway). Talking heads can make a documentary tedious, but there’s no danger of that here. The interviews are mixed with samplings of the authors’ work, the comics themselves, complete with narration and sound-effects. It’s a treat to see and hear Frank Miller,¬†pretty much finding his feet¬†at the time, knowing his recent success as a movie director.

The movie manages fairly well to portray and explain a world that has spread it’s tendrils into many areas of entertainment nowadays. You don’t need to know about comics, or the people in this movie to get the point. It’s better than anything on Discovery Channel, except less sex on the savanna.

Keywords: Superheroes, Comic Books, Censorship

Night on Earth (1991) July 30, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Drama, Movies.
1 comment so far

I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy

Dir. Jim Jarmusch

Starring Winona Ryder, Rosie Perez, Roberto Benigni, etc.

5 slices of the lives of 5 cabbies in 5 cities around the one world which we do own. Yeah, the original tagline is slightly better.

It’s quite common for movies to forget themselves, get lost in the chase for an audience, and¬†lose the heart of the story. How often have you gone to see a movie, already loving the key ingredients of it? You know and like the actors, the storyline intrigues you, and then you find that it was just a big mess in one way or another.

Now, Jim Jarmusch must have it easy in some ways. He is a storyteller. The premise of 5 cab rides at night may sound like a bad reality TV-show, but in the hands of a good storyteller it will entertain you. The stories in this movie aren’t even that important though, it’s the way they are told. Nothing much is happening, but the way it’s not is fantastic. It will have you hooked and wanting more, but you still feel fulfilled.

This is a very good movie if you’re looking for something to “clear the palet” inbetween your regular intake of blockbusters and trilogies. If you’ve somehow become disillusioned by a movie you’ve seen, check this out. It may restore some of your faith in movies.

Keywords: Episodal, Taxi

Night on Earth (1991) July 30, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Drama, Movies.
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That'll be 33.20 please

Dir. Jim Jarmusch

Starring Winona Ryder, Rosie Perez, Robert Benigni etc.,

As a photographer often strives to show us the beauty in everyday ordinary objects, Jim Jarmusch shows us that there can be hilariousness, tragedy, angst and even insight in life’s little mundane moments if we just take the time to really look. Night on earth, takes 5 different taxis, in 5 different cities around the world and gives us a little peek into people’s lives all over the world.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

The evening starts off in Los Angeles where a wealthy snobbish woman, Victoria Snelling (Gena Rowlands) takes a cab with Corky (Winona Ryder) a tom-boyish cab driver. Although we would tend to believe that Victoria is the well to do lady and Corky is feisty and rough around the edges we learn that maybe Corky is the one that actually has it all together. When Victoria offers Corky the chance to be a movie star (heck, be someone she is not… and for money!) how could she possibly pass that up?… She is astounded to find that Corky actually knows what she wants in life and it has nothing to do with money or fame… all she wants is to do what she loves and be loved for who she is. Isn’t that, in fact, what we all want?

As the world turns, so do our stories: Black diplomats denigrate a black cab driver in Paris, who, in turn, enraged by their racism, dumps them in the middle of nowhere to later pick up a blind woman and find that he is more blind than she ever could be, and in Finland we learn that no matter how bad we think our lives are, someone out there has got it worse.

Don’t think this film is just about sad circumstances and harsh realities. Just like real life, it is also full of comedy and belly-aching goodness. Roberto Benigni makes us explode with laughter as an hyperactive Italian cab driver that decides to confess his sexual sins to a priest he picks up at 4am.

Cut a slice in anyone’s life and you will see, we all have a story. Nobody is just ordinary.

This movie is a little gem. It reminds us to look further than our noses and realize that life is full of interesting and wonderful moments and people, if we just allow ourselves to get a little bit closer.

Keywords: Episodal, Taxi

Hero (2002) July 29, 2006

Posted by Eury in Action, Adventure, Drama, Movies.
1 comment so far

Amazing Eye Candy

Dir. Yimou Zhang

Starring Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi ZHang etc.,

Hero is the story of a Chinese warrior named “Nameless” (Jet Li) who gets the privilege of meeting the King of Qin and is given gifts in return for assassinating the King’s 3 most treacherous enemies: Sky (Donnie Yen) Broken Sword (Tony Leung) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung). The King wants to know the entire story and Nameless obliges. With each proof of having killed the assailants, Nameless is given more gifts and is allowed to get closer (10 paces) from the King.

As Nameless relates his story, my jaw dropped to the floor and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the movie. I do not remember a movie in my life that was ever this beautiful. It didn’t matter if it were inside the dark palace with hundreds of votive candles that made pounding sounds rthymically as the wind caught the flames or during the most violent battle, it was all beautiful. I can honestly say there is not a frame in this movie that I didn’t find amazingly gorgeous.

The music in this movie was also unbelievable. No matter if it were the Chinese seven-stringed zither (thank you, Google!) played by an old blind man during an outside courtyard chess scene, the soulful one-stringed violins and cellos, the acapella soprano or the men’s choir voices or even the rustling of falling leaves… it was always perfect for the mood, and sounded incredible.

Not only did this movie astound me with it’s poetic beauty and sound, but the story is great too. We watched the sub-titled version of this movie and the dialogue is lean yet smart. The story is so visually well-told that you don’t need tons of dialogue. As the movie progresses, the plot begins to gather layers and becomes more and more interesting as do the characters of the movie. Where in the beginning they are seen as just very good warriors that can beat the crap out of anyone, as the movie progresses, you see their bravery, their love, their passion and their insight, soul and depth.

The artful way the story is told is quite extraordinary. As the story progress, the characters fighting individually, we see them wearing different colors. I was struck that you could clip out just one scene anywhere and know exactly which section of the movie it was from. I also knew there must be some symbolism to the colors used and did a bit of research (again, thank you, Google! ) and found that red was for fire and imagination, blue was perceived reality, white was for truth and green, for enlightenment and peace.

The only thing I can see that was wrong about this movie, was that I didn’t see it in a cinema, where it truly deserves to be seen and heard.

I cannot overstate how beautiful this movie is. Every single frame is drop-dead gorgeous.

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Keywords: Kung-Fu, Legends, Epic

Hero (2002) July 28, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Action, Adventure, Drama, Movies.
1 comment so far

Our hero, the Jet

Dir. Yimou Zhang

Starring Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi ZHang

Jet Li proved he’s a great actor in Danny the Dog, so I can support his choice to abandon martial arts movies. If he sticks to it, Hero will be one of the last to feature him in full action mode, and while the acting takes a back seat here, it certainly is a good overall performance. Action scenes can’t be done solo though, and the team behind him,and his co-stars bring a lot to the table. The fighting is shot and cut well, which is important. And while it leans towards the fantastic, everything works well within the movie.

The movie is told mostly in flashbacks, by the “hero” who has supposedly slain the most dangerous assassins threatening the King of Qin. What follows is just plain cinema at it’s grandest –¬†big scenes, great colors, lights and cutting, and some fancy dancing around in trees. Is there more to the story than what is told?¬†Chinese history is as much legend as fact, and that is mirrored in the storytelling here. The facts are blurry.

You would probably find more depth¬†in every scene every time you rewatch this movie. Much is left to interpretation, and just as much transcends interpretation – it’s just there to look pretty. Without giving too much away, let me just say there’s a scene with a lake. Holy heck. This movie is just plain gorgeous.

If you can, I suggest you try to get hold of the chinese extended version which adds 8 minutes to the movie (107 minutes in total). I couldn’t tell you what’s different since I haven’t seen the regular version, but you’ll definitely want as much of Hero as you can get.

Keywords: Kung-Fu, Legends, Epic

Mambo Italiano (2003) July 27, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Drama, Movies.
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But... I'm italian!

Dir. √Čmile Gaudreault

Starring Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino, Peter Miller, Claudia Ferri

Comedies that play with prejudice and perception have a good chance of success. They have a lot to build on from the start, and with a good script, it pays off.

In Mambo Italiano we follow Angelo: young, canadian-italian and gay. He’s got some issues right there, and the mix doesn’t exactly make him internally serene. It shakes up his family and his life, there’s heartache and love-loss, but it remains a pretty sweet family flick. I don’t know if that speaks for an altruistic streak in all canadians, or just their film-makers.

For you comparison-buffs out there I would describe this movie as a light-weight blend of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and But I’m a Cheerleader. It doesn’t dodge all of the serious stuff, but puts it in a perspective where you can laugh at it. Alienation and family choke-holds can be pretty funny, trust me.

Keywords: Canadian, Family, Gay

Mambo Italiano (2003) July 27, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Drama, Movies.
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What'sa matter for you?

Dir. √Čmile Gaudreault

Starring Luke Kirby, Ginette Reno, Paul Sorvino, Peter Miller and Claudia Ferri

I’m coming out,… right now… and admitting that I really liked this movie. For the most part it is filmed in the Italian section of Montreal, St-Leonard. Yes, it’s Canadian but don’t let that scare you off! Lots of good things come out of Canada, including me. ūüėČ
It’s all about a young gay man, Angelo Barberini (Luke Kirby) who decides to tell his parents, Maria and Gino Barberini (played by famous Quebec singer, Ginette Reno and father of the beautiful Mira Sorvino, Paul Sorvino) that he is gay and their journey of coming to grips and accepting his life choice.

What I particularily loved about this movie was how it played with the stereotypes of Italians and their mucho-macho attitudes and how being gay would almost be worse than being dead. Everything is done just a bit over the top, the laughter, the crying, the dramatics… but that’s just the point.. that’s why it’s funny and not just clich√©… and when I say, everything, I mean everything… including the wild and crazy wallpaper seen both in the Barberino household as well as at every single therapist (and there are many) that Anna Barberini (Claudio Ferri) consults because everyone in her family is crazy except, of course, her!

If this was simply a big laugh at the Italian community and gays… it may have fell flat on it’s face, but it is not.. it is about family and their love for their son… the thread that keeps this whole movie together and makes it sweet and tender. Their love just shines through the entire movie and although this is basically a comedy, there were moments where I was truly touched.

Keywords: Canadian, Family, Gay

Just My Luck (2006) July 27, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Movies, Romance.
1 comment so far

Just My Luck(2006)

Dir. Donald Petrie

Lindsay Lohan, Chris Pine etc.,

Take a girl that’s been born under a lucky star and a guy that is so unlucky he should come with a warning sign that says “Disaster Zone” and you’ve got the foundation for a fun and silly movie.

The movie starts with Ashley Albright (Lindsay Lohan) who is so incredibly lucky that everyday is like winning the lottery; it’s almost as if the world revolves around making her happy. We then get a peek into the world of Jake Hardin (Chris Pine) whose luck is so bad that he walks around with a backpack filled with emergency supplies such as bandaids, antiseptic and even a poncho because not only can disaster strike at any moment, it actually will.

They meet at a masquerade ball and exchange a kiss on the dance floor and this is where the fun begins…they swap both saliva and luck. Jake goes from a guy who has never, ever had anything go right for him, to acquiring a recording contract for a new band (McFly) and even a new apartment, all in the space of a couple days. Ashley on the other hand has several mishaps including losing her job, her clothes and having to move in with her workmates. Maybe I’m just mean, but when she receives a double dose of being splashed by cars, I couldn’t help but be pleased… YEAH!! She really didn’t deserve it but I guess she just had it too good even, for me… money, clothes, job and pretty to boot!

The rest of the movie is pretty much watching Ashley, with the help of her two friends (Samaire Armstrong and Bree Turner) trying to find the guy who kissed her that fateful night so she can get back her lucky streak.

Although I enjoyed this movie because it made me laugh, I wouldn’t actually say it was very romantic. I didn’t find she had much chemistry with her co-star but this may have to do with a script that had her searching for him not because he swept her away but to get rid of her unlucky blues.

If you are looking for an evening of relaxation and fun, then get this movie… if on the otherhand you are also looking for romance too, albeit clich√© , then I suggest that you get another movie by the same director:How to lose a Guy in 10 days

Keywords: Sex and the City, Role-reversal, Paranormal

Just My Luck (2006) July 26, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Movies, Romance.
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Ouch, my contact lense stings!

Dir. Donald Petrie

Starring Lindsay Lohan, Chris Pine

Is the world ready for Chris Pine? Come on, this guy is gonna be huge – the next Freddie Prinze Jr even.

*Cough*

Sorry, that would be the teenage girl in me talking, and this is supposed to be a guys review. Just My Luck is nothing new under the cinema roof, taking cues and plot from a slew of (not to shabby) romantic comedies from yester-year. The biggest problem that this movie has is that it’s not very romantic.

The plot involves up-n-coming business brat Lohan, who just can’t get a break from being lucky, and Pine who lives on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, knee-deep in misfortune. We follow them in their daily routine for a bit, until they inevitably swap luck due to.. umm.. the “turning of the wheel”, in the form of a kiss at a party. After the “fate-rape”, we follow them in their new shoes, and the storyline unfolds as expected.

It doesn’t really click though. Hard to say why really, it’s definitely not bad casting, both leads do well, but for a romantic comedy it just lacks some heat.

Now, the comedy side on the other hand, measures up. This is a funny movie. Some predictable jokes fall short of the punchline, but it got some laughs out of me. The funniest bits are obviously when they get splashed with water. That’s just hilarious. They get all wet and stuff. OK, sarcasm aside, it is good for a fun date night or a pizza dinner at the TV.

Keywords: Sex and the City, Role-reversal, Paranormal