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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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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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Pi (1998) – Her Review September 10, 2006

Posted by Eury in Movies, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
2 comments

NUMB3RS - We all use math everyday

Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Starring Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis

Max is a brilliant mathematician that believes that the everything in the universe has an underlying order, be it the immensity of the spirals of the galaxies or the infinitesimal patterns found in our very own DNA. Because the stock market chucks out so many numbers every day, Max uses it to test his theory. He could care less about becoming rich… he is simply obsessed (and practically possessed) and needs to find the answer.

In his search for the answer, he comes across a 216 digit number that seems to be the portal to some universal truth, but the number dies on his computer almost as soon as he sees it.

Besides being plagued by trying to find the universal code for everything that exists, Max, after looking at the sun when he was a child, has such tremendously painful migraines, that the shakes and sweats he gets are only the beginning. He must take a truckload of medication to even control the pain . They are so painful that he often hallucinates and becomes very paranoid. Throughout the film there are people seemingly out to get him, following him. We see these people through his eyes and we have a hard time figuring out … are they real? or are they part of his crazy schizophrenic delusions?

This movie impressed me in several ways. Lets start with the black and whiteness of the movie. This is not your regular b/w film. It’s very constrasty and grainy. It is quite jarring and with bright flashes of light. It helps immerse us into Max’s brain and makes us feel like we are seeing through his eyes. Then there is the music. I’m not an expert but this type of electronic music seemed so perfectly fitted to the experience we are having. How better to bring us into Max’s world where has built a home-made super-computer which he uses to conglomerate all the equations that he has revolving in his brain. The computer is like him…. the closer he gets to the answer, the more the headaches and panic make him crash just like his comp does when it seemingly cannot deal with the ultimate answer to all life. There is also the effect of the music being thrown from one ear to the other.. it makes us feel very off-balance and wary. The combination with the fidgety camera made me feel very much in his shoes.

The more Max searches for the answer, the harsher his migraines become… but it’s an addiction; he can’t help himself and we can see why… we are just as intrigued and want to find out too.

Clever, bold and edgy, Pi is an amazing piece of work.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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π (1998) – His Review September 10, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Movies, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
1 comment so far

Bye bye, miss American Pi

Dir. Darren Aronofsky

Starring Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman etc.

A guerilla mathematician (not really, but I thought the concept was cool) goes deeper and deeper into psychosis as he struggles with finding the ultimate question, and the answer to it.

Well, that’s the bottom-line of Darren Aronofsky’s “Pi” anyway, but quite simplified. Math-mad Max (Gullette) starts out fairly sane, as he tries to find a pattern in the global stock market using a homemade super computer. After his computer crashes during one of his scheduled calculations things get weirder. Max finds odd coincidences not only between life and math, but between his own past and present.

For those of you who enjoy the TV-show Numb3rs, it should come as no surprise that math and science can be a trigger for storytelling. Another comparison would be Discovery Channel documentaries, that often succeed in making a heavy topic accessible. Pi takes it one step further, and actually manages to make the topic scary as heck. The grainy black-and-white photography, the repetitive voice-over, and the excellent dark electronic music score all combine to make you experience Max’s journey for yourself. It works so well even after a second viewing, that I began to see spooky patterns in the google-search I did for how to write “π”. And wouldn’t you know it – seconds later the browser crashed.

Coincidence? I think not.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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Nothing (2003) – His Review August 20, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

Much ado about Nothing

Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Starring David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Gordon Pinsent etc.,

This review contains no spoilers!

This is not the movie version of Seinfeld, but it is a movie about nothing.

Nothing is the story of two friends who both have the worst day of their lives. Dave is accused of embezzling from his work, he is fired, and his girlfriend dumps him. Andrew gets locked out of the house and ends up accused of molesting a girl scout. To top it off they receive notice that their house is being demolished.

Then nothing happens.

If you enjoy odd movies that deal with pure fantastic elements, you’ll like this movie. It’s not a joke-y comedy, it’s got much more in common with arthouse cinema than National Lampoon, but it is very funny. It gets a bit dark and grim at times, but there’s fun in that too.

I can’t really go into anything more about this movie without ruining at least part of the actual point of it. I hadn’t seen the trailer for it before seeing the movie, and they do give way too much away in it, so you may want to steer clear (link to the trailer in case you just don’t care). I promise, it’s a lot more fun to see this film without knowing what’s gonna happen. And it’s an everflowing source of puns – “What did you watch today?” “Oh, Nothing”.

This is His review, you can read Her review here which doesn’t have spoilers either.

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Nothing (2003) – Her Review August 20, 2006

Posted by Eury in Comedy, Fantasy, Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
1 comment so far

Nothing lasts forever

Dir. Vincenzo Natali
Starring David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Gordon Pinsent etc.,

David and Andrew have been best friends since they’ve been 9 years old. Neither are popular; Dave is very self-centered and Andrew is afraid of everything. They survive by sticking together. Even as an adult, David (David Hewlett) doesn’t get along well with anyone, except for Andrew (Andrew Miller) work at home travel agent, agoraphobic and pack rat. They live together in a house filled to the brim with lots of junk until one day their lives take a spin for the worse when both are accused of crimes they have not committed. Nothing more of the plot can be told after this without spoiling all the fun, and I really don’t want to do that.

What I can say is this film, written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who also wrote and directed the famous Canadian cult classic “Cube” is truly “nothing” to scoff at. Natali, quite famous for his grandiose visions that he creates with low-budgets and green/blue screens does not disappoint. This movie is extremely funny, extremely original and like “nothing” I’ve ever seen before and it sort of makes me proud to say that it’s Canadian! Trust me, find this little unknown jewel and let yourself enjoy something truly unique.

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Dark City (1998) – Her Review August 17, 2006

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

Where the sun don't shine!

Dir. Alex Proyas

Starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Keifer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly etc.,

Dark, as in secret; dark as in hidden; dark as in foreboding; dark as in unenlightened. Dark as in night… without sun, as in mystery, evil, hellish, bad, sinister. Dark, the perfect adjective to describe this city and this movie. Very film-noir, very stylistic and thought-provoking.

Our story begins with a vocal introduction by whom we soon learn is Dr. Schreber (Keifer Sutherland )who explains that aliens from another planet, have altered the memories of humans to find out what makes us tick, so to speak.

Our central character, John Murdoch, (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in a hotel room with a murdered prostitute. He doesn’t know if he killed her as he doesn’t remember anything, not where he is, not even who he is… and he, of course, doesn’t know that someone’s been mucking around with his brain and using him as a guinea pig.

While being chased by both the very dead-looking alien strangers (dressed appropriately in black leather duds) and the dead-pan faced detective, Bumstead, (William Hurt) he tries to uncover his identity and his memory, which he captures in very tiny spurts of seeing himself as a young boy at the beach.

For once, (unlike the DaVinci Code) a film does a great job of not spoon-feeding us every single clue. It relies on us, the audience, to take notice of details so that we can piece together the mystery for ourselves. It treats us with respect and credits us with being intelligent enough to do it on our own. Bravo! It also contains an action sequence that (even though 8 years old) puts many current sci-fi mystery thrillers to shame.

Warning: Spoiler in following paragraph:

As much as I want to try to avoid saying too much, I will say though that this movie delves into questions that both we and psychanalysts have asked for the longest time… what is real? Is anything real, even love? Or is it all just a dream? Are we being examined by some super-beings. Are we living in a world like the Matrix?

Stylistically, this movie has so much going for it. It looks like it’s pulled directly out of a graphic novel or a very dark video game. I was very surprised that I had never heard of this movie before Jinx’s suggestion of watching it. An original movie that surely could be watched over and over again, as knowing the end doesn’t detract from it’s uniqueness and the cool feeling it will be to find those treasured little details you may have missed the first or second time around. A true classic.

This is Her Review. Read His Review Here

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Dark City (1998) – His Review August 17, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Movies, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller.
1 comment so far

In the dead of night, love bites

Dir. Alex Proyas

Starring Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Keifer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly etc

Dark City gets quite a bit of it’s character from old-school film noir and pulp novels. Our main character John has lost his memory, and searches for clues in the dark. The femme fatale (his wife) is a singer at a nightclub. There is a killer on the loose, and an almost washed-out cop is on the case. It certainly sounds like something that has been boiling hard since the 40’s. However, we the audience already know things are not what they seem.. (thanks for the prologue narrative Keifer).

As it turns out, mysterious “strangers” who can alter reality hold the city at siege, it’s citizens unknowing and uncaring. John’s search for his own identity leads him on a cat-and-mouse chase, and finally a stand-off with the bald baddies.

As a pitch it has some flaws, but the way this movie is put together it just makes perfect sense. The pace is eerily slow, but never dull, it’s just like peeling a fruit slowly makes it taste that much better. It’s creepy but not horror, it has no comic relief but it’s not humorless.

The effects and the look of the movie is also very cool. If you’ve complained about movies being “too dark” at some point, chances are they were just badly lit and shot. Dark City shows that there is lots of detail to be found in a two-tone palette of black and black (yes I’m exaggerating a bit). Things in this movie may strike you as very similar to the Matrix, but it’s best if you discard those thoughts and focus on this movie. Yes, the Wachowskis are thieves, but they steal some pretty damn good stuff.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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