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Friends with Money (2006) – Her Review September 30, 2006

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

Who says money doesn't buy happiness?

Dir. Nicole Holofcener

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Greg Germann, Simon McBurney, Jason Isaacs and Scott Caan

A peek into the lives of 4 women, 3 of whom are quite affluent and their not so fortunate friend who has a hard time making ends meet.

This movie doesn’t really tell a story, instead it makes us wonder why they are the way they are.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Franny (Joan Cusack) is the richest of the girls and drops money at the bat of an eye… 2 million for charity, no problem. Things are a little different, though, when Ovilia (Jennifer Aniston) asks her for $1800 to take courses. To me, Franny, is the girl that feels guilty at having so much money, she doesn’t want to look like she is wasteful or throws money around. Charity is a good cause, courses for Olivia to become a personal trainer that she doesn’t believe she ‘ll actually ever do, not so good.

Joan (Frances McDormand) is a clothing designer and has taken to having fits in public and has stopped washing her hair. Ironic, when you discover that her husband creates designer creams and shampoos. Matt (Simon McBurney) is her metrosexual counterpart who comes complete with a British accent; I found him quite adorable. He seems quite happy with his feminine side even though Joan’s friends whisper about him behind her back.

Christine (Catherine Keener) co-writes with her husband. They have all this bottled up frustration that starts to leak into the dialogue of their current writings. Once the words are on paper, though, there is no turning back… they’ve both spilled their beans and it’s just not going to work.

Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) is a mess. Scrounging to make ends meet, she works as a maid. She doesn’t seem to be able to get herself together and has no qualms about getting stepped over by everyone and anyone.

For the most part, I loved this movie. The acting was superb and there were many very funny moments. There was something that bothered me though. The film seemed to be telling us that money does solve all problems as it appears the couple with the most money, have not only a loving and intimate relationship.. but also are truly best of friends. On the other end of the spectrum is Olivia, who almost penniless, can’t seem to get it together. There was also the end of the movie, which left me thinking, ” What? …the ? … ? “

This is Her review, you can read His review here.

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Friends with Money (2006) – His Review September 29, 2006

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

Ok ok, here's the pitch: Friends.. ok?.. with Money!Dir. Nicole Holofcener
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener etc.

Having seen the trailer a few months ago and liking it, I was apprehensive this would turn out a world of boring. It didn’t.

There’s not much of a storyline to jot down here, since Friends with Money is mostly about characters, and the dialogue between old friends and family. None of the women (or their respective hubbies) have their hearts on their sleeve, and it’s fun guesswork trying to figure out what they’re actually all about. Why is Olivia (Aniston) single and working as a maid? Why is Jane (McDormand) increasingly wound up and pissed off? Is it because her husband is gay? Is her husband actually gay? Etc etc.

As with quality TV-shows there needn’t be a non-stop thrillride of a story to keep you interested, as long as the writing is good. I wasn’t too surprised that it was well written, since the movie has Joan Cusack in it, who practically never does bad movies. It is an ensemble piece though, and everyone gets their spotlight and manage to use it well.

I mentioned TV-shows, and well yeah. It does have that feel, perhaps because Holofcener (writer/director) has done a little bit of TV. I’m not sure if she borrows from her experience there to make movies, or the reverse, but this movie could easily be serialized into a show. Not a real critique, but it struck me as something worth pointing out.

All in all – well written and played drama. Check out the trailer to see if it fits.

This is His review, you can read Her review here.

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Storm (2005) – His Review September 25, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Action, Drama, Movies, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
2 comments

Storm bork bork bork!Dir. Måns Mårland and Björn Stein
Starring Eric Ericson, Eva Röse and Jonas Karlsson

Sweden is hardly known for mainstream cinema, in fact the only thing most foreign people will know of swedish cinema is Ingmar Bergman, so don’t feel too out of the loop if you read this review and go “huh?”.

Storm follows succesful but detatched thirty-something journalist DD (Ericson), who leads a “rich” social life with parties and drugs, but doesn’t have much of an inner life. His fish-bowl world cracks when he meets a mysterious woman, hunted by unknown fiends, who seems to know him inside out. Despite his best attempts he gets involved, and receives a seemingly unbreachable metal box. The hunters now go after him, to get hold of the box before it is opened.

There’s hasn’t been many good Swedish movies made since the 80’s. Even the new generation of film-makers seem to follow in the footsteps of the old garde – directors who haven’t changed direction since their first movie, and writers who keep rewriting the same script over and over. How many damn “comedies” can you make about a man and a woman who have been married for 10 years, drink and fight, and then get divorced? Why would kids want to see the 3rd sequel to the crappy kids version of the multi-sequel remake of a Danish original movie series? Where’s the originality?

Well, it’s not in this movie. But – and it’s a big but – this movie steals it’s inspiration not from Sweden, but the mainstream international market, while still retaining a subtle Swedish aftertaste. The action scenes are certainly nothing to gape over, and the ride isn’t as smooth as it can be with an accomplished driver/director, but it is quite refreshing nevertheless. The straight action-movie lingo can be pretty annoying, but I found that, along with the comicbooks that are also used as a literary device, it sort of makes sense. It’s surreal and fake, as if filtered through the mind of a 10 year old film- and comicbook-geek, another piece of DD’s puzzle.

You’re allowed to not like this movie, it probably takes a certain mindset when you watch it to get engrossed since it’s so fidgety. If you like movies that switch genres on you, fairly successfully, from flickering sci-fi action to spine-tingling thriller to heart-wrenching drama, give it a try. It may work on you.

This is His review, you can read Her review here.

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Storm (2005) – Her Review September 25, 2006

Posted by Eury in Action, Drama, Movies, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
1 comment so far

Swedish Rubik's CubeDir. Måns Mårland and Björn Stein
Starring Eric Ericson, Eva Röse and Jonas Karlsson

This movie starts out like a typical sci-fi thriller, with Lova, (Eva Röse) or Promise as they call her in English, being followed by a multitude of men including the character played by Jonas Karlsson. She is protecting what appears to be a brushed silver cube which she hands off to another girl telling her to guard it with her life as they are apparently the only survivors. I was strangely intrigued… what could the cube be… did it contain something, did it have some sort of power?

Enter Eric Ericsson as DD. He’s a bachelor in Stockholm who seems quite content to live alone. After listening to his neighbor having sex with his girlfriend, he quite, nonchalantly, lets us know that he believes that love is pretty useless… and if you want sex, you’re never better served than by yourself. Not only does he not appear to be affected by sentimental feelings, we learn that since he was a child he also cannot feel any pain of the physical kind. After another boring night at the bar, he opens up his taxi door to help Promise, who appears practically out of nowhere, fleeing from some mighty dangerous dudes. Hence starts DD’s descent into a maddening spiral of events.

The movie has many twists and turns, moving between scenes that appear as if out of a video game, others from comic books and even revisiting DD’s past. It certainly appears more complex and complicated in writing than on the screen. I felt the movie moved along smoothly and opened layer after layer to the viewer’s eyes which made it easy to understand.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

This movie deals with a subject seen in many movies over time… a tragic event that leaves someone scarred and incapable of becoming a secure and happy adult. Storm uses a unique and interesting way of entering DD’s mind and his memories to help him become whole again. DD must relive some horrendous acts he did (not pertaining to the actual tragic event) hoping to be punished because he is riddled by guilt. Promise is there to help him while the character played by Jonas is trying to prevent him reliving his pain and tries to get him to stay just as he is.. cold and detatched.

The story is not a new one, but Storm brings a new twist in how the story is told and although it had lots of action scenes it managed to make us care for DD and feel his pain; the pain he’d been avoiding since childhood, the pain that has prevented him, until now, from being able to love and be loved.

This is Her review, you can read His review here.

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House of Flying Daggers (2004) – His Review September 19, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Action, Drama, Movies, Romance.
2 comments

Almost a euphemism for Snakes on a Plane

Dir. Yimou Zhang
Starring Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau
Click for larger poster >>

OK, it’s time for pretty again. And gritty perhaps?

Yes, what us blissfully ignorant westerners will always refer to as Yimou Zhang’s second movie gets a little closer to “realism” than it’s predecessor. The stunts are still wild but plausible, the story is much more down to earth, and the actors actually act full out.

It proudly puts a lot of effort on cinematography and a few key action moments, but the story arc is fulfilling in and of itself which to me makes for a more complete experience. Where Hero had one foot in epic chinese traditions, both in storyline and in storytelling, Flying Daggers focuses on a simple story:

China, the Tang Dynasty era. A would-be political assassin is captured. A young officer of the law frees her, and pretends to woo her while trying to find her guild, the House of Flying Daggers’ secret headquarters. The rest of the story merely nudges you to switch whom you root for, as there are no real heros and villains, just people. Romantic, voyeuristic, judgmental, kind, unpredictable, flip-kicking people.

It’s nothing you will miss not seeing, but definitely something you will be glad you did.

This is His review, you can read Her review here.

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House of Flying Daggers (2004) – Her Review September 18, 2006

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

for only 42.95, not only do you get this fabulous set of daggers...

Dir. Yimou Zhang
Starring Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau

In a previous review I wrote about how, now that I had seen Hero, that it was difficult for me not to compare any movies of the same genre with it. Well, this movie is not only of the same genre, it is by the same director: Yimou Zhang.

The story rotates around Mei, a blind girl… although in disguise in the palace as a dancer, she is actually a martial arts expert believed to be the daughter of the recently assassinated leader of the Robin Hood type of gang called the House of Flying Daggers.
Without giving out any spoilers, there is an exquisite dance near the beginning of the film called the Echo Game. It is simply breathtaking. Mei performs a dance with acrobatics worthy of the Cirque du Soleil. Combined with the ryhthm of drums and the dust flying off of them and the flow of her sleeves.. (you’ll understand once you see this, I assure you) the scene is a memorable one.

Not quite as spectacularly shot as Hero, this is still very much eye-candy for anyone who enjoys a visual festival of color and costume. Although the story supposedly is set within a few days, we do see a movement through the seasons, albeit sort of backwards. When they leave the palace, the trees are all in their autumn glory, red, gold and rust. We then enter a sea of very fine bright green.. just as in spring.. and are even witness to a wintery snowstorm.

There are some astounding action sequences in this movie. Again, I will compare it to Hero.. by saying it is not as fantastical.. or magical, but more real and frightening. There were moments where I literally held my hands over my eyes (as if that would really help, huh? ) because it was so intense. Although this movie has incredible action sequences (notably one amazing one in a bamboo forest), the story is a very simple one mainly of a woman and a man and an ex-lover doing what lovers have done through the ages.

Perhaps not a very complex storyline, but such a sight for sore eyes, shouldn’t be missed.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (2004) – Her Review September 16, 2006

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

We have the technology, if we can find enough pieces, we can build a new better stronger Ron Burgundy!!

Dir. Adam McKay

Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, David Koechner etc.

This movie, made up of portions edited out of Anchorman is surprising funny for something made out of the scraps on the editing room floor. Ok, maybe it’s a little stilted in places but it still surprised me that they were able to construct a story that actually made sense out of the nonsense they pulled out of the first one. Reminded me of the little quote we often hear “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

It did make me think though.. about what it does take to make a good movie… is it someone who knows how to edit? Cause if they can make a decent movie out of “crap”, imagine what someone can do with “good” stuff… and what does it say for movies that are so badly edited that they can’t even make something cohesive with “good” stuff.

Well, anyways… although not brilliant, it is Will Ferrell!! .. whom for the life of me, I don’t know why, but I always like… it’s fun and worth a look-see.

This is Her review, you can read His review here.

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Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie (2004) – His Review September 16, 2006

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

I'm Ron Burgundy?

Dir. Adam McKay

Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, David Koechner etc.

Based on the real life events that took place during the cutting of the movie Anchorman, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy gives us a whole other movie about the guy.

It’s not as funny, as tight, as well scripted or even half as good as Anchorman, but it’s still worth a watch if you liked the original movie. You can’t help noticing exactly why some of the stuff in here was left out of the original, but just like the gag-reel that often rolls with the credits in comedies, it’s highly amusing at times.

It’s an experiment in using bonus material for something other than an exercise in clicking the navigation buttons on your DVD remote – just sit back and enjoy the inanity.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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Appleseed (2004) – His Review September 12, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Action, Animation, Movies, Sci-Fi.
2 comments

I bet you're all thinking what I'm thinking. Does he have a robot penis?

Dir. Shinji Aramaki
Starring Ai Kobayashi, Jûrôta Kobayashi and Yuki Matsuoka

Based on the manga by Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell), Appleseed has been done before. There are good and bad reasons for making a remake, and a serious contender for the best excuse is “achieving the full vision of the material”. Appleseed may not take it to it’s ultimate heights, but it is a hell of a cool movie, and without a doubt the one to best match Shirow’s amazing art (may be NSFW).

Deunan is a 20-something woman who has spent most of her life as an elite soldier fighting in the World War. A war where the original reasons for fighting have long been lost, and replaced with simply “survival”. As she is plucked out of that reality and dropped into an oasis of life and comfort, the city of Olympus, she soon finds a new reason to fight – for the survival of mankind (?).

screenshots from Appleseed

Well yes, the plot is derivative and the intrigues are also quite messy. It’s not easy knowing who is with who, who’s on first and what’s the frequency, Kenneth. At least in the first half of the movie – then the red herrings get sparser, and we finally get to know the elusive “deal”. I really don’t have a problem with this. This isn’t a Disney movie where everything has to be understandable to a 5-year old, this is a movie with close-ups of people getting shot in the head. And it’s pretty, too.

screenshots from Appleseed (2004)

Amazingly enough, an animated movie completely sans-ponies can still be gorgeous. Check it out, in English if you’re so inclined, or in the original Japanese with subtitles.. It’s the eyecandy that matters most in this one anyway.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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Appleseed (2004) – Her Review September 12, 2006

Posted by Eury in Action, Animation, Movies, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

could you move those rabbit ears a bit to the left, I 'm getting lousy reception.

Dir. Shinji Aramaki
Starring Ai Kobayashi, Jûrôta Kobayashi and Yuki Matsuoka

The story of Appleseed ( Appurushîdo ) starts off with Deunan Knute, fighting in the badlands, unaware that the world war is over. A helicopter swoops down with her ex-lover (Briareos) and the beautiful Hitomi. She’s shot with a tranquilizer gun and brought back to the futuristic city of Olympus.

The city is very clean and sterile and considered “Utopia” and is populated by humans and bioroids (biologically engineered human-like cyborgs with lowered emotions). The city is in majority run by 7 old guys in floating chairs that consult what they call “Gaea” to help them make decisions.

The new society has problems though, the bioroids want to procreate and the humans want to get rid of the bioroids as they are worried that they will take over and eventually there will no longer be any humans at all.

At first glance, I thought Deunan was a young man, as so often the males in anime seem so androgenous and are pretty boys. She certainly kicks butt like a guy as she is a highly trained soldier. If it weren’t for the boobies, I would have thought she was a dude. It does fit her role well though, as too soft and pretty would perhaps not have been so believable.

This movie is just full of eye-candy. The backgrounds are so realistic that at first I thought they were photographs. The characters on the other hand look like cell-shading from comic books. I liked that. Instead of the very “poser” like characters we often see in this century’s animated movies.. these seemed less plastic, somehow and more approachable.

screenshots from Appleseed

The gorgeousness of the city and its mirrored streets will just blow your mind. I was also impressed with how natural the movement of the characters was. I’m often struck by small details in movies and in this one there is a very short shot of Deunan checking if a gun is loaded and I was struck how very real the way her fingers moved looked. Yeah.. I know it’s a very small detail, but one I will remember because it impressed me.

screenshots from Appleseed (2004)

The action sequences are pretty amazing and the music is awesome too.

Although the movie sounds perfect, there were a few things that bothered me. First thing was Briareros. Like Deunan, he was a trained soldier, who after a very bad injury, now is a cyborg with 75% of his body being mechanical. I couldn’t help thinking, hmm… why didn’t they just put him into a bioroid body, they certainly have the expertise and technology to do that. Then there was the whole premise of the movie. It just felt a little cliché.. the whole “what if the future world of robots, cyborgs etc., want the place to themselves?” I also was a bit confused about which party Deunan wanted to be with, was she with the humans that wanted to save the earth from bioroids, would she save the bioroids and perhaps put the humans at risk?

Ah… perhaps there was too much story to tell in this brief amount of time. One thing is for sure, the beauty of the whole movie is more than a worthwhile excuse to watch it.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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