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A History of Violence (2005) – His Review November 26, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Action, Drama, Movies, Thriller.
7 comments

temporary

Dir. David Cronenberg

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, Ashton Holmes, William Hurt etc.

The name Cronenberg should mean something to most people. To me he’s “not the weird guy who made Twin Peaks, the other one”. Call me uninvolved, but I’m not really a fan.

A History of Violence is a good start to making me one. It’s intense in it’s stillness, and very much seething with the titular violence. Homely small town diner-owner Tom Stall (Mortensen) takes on the forces of darkness from his own past, while trying to keep his family out of harms way. It’s all written and played very small, with bursts of plot/character development/action. This makes the whole experience come together as one entity, with nothing to detract or disorient.

Acting – superb. Photo – perfect fit. Movie – fantastic. I can’t see any reason not to see this movie, unless you’re a whore of Satan. You’re not a whore of Satan are you?

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

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A History of Violence (2005) – Her Review November 26, 2006

Posted by Eury in Action, Drama, Movies, Thriller.
2 comments

Hey, look it's Aragorn

Dir. David Cronenberg

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, Ashton Holmes, William Hurt etc.

I was a little apprehensive before seeing this movie.. first because it was by David Cronenberg (yes, he’s Canadian… but still, not everybody’s cup of tea). He’s known particularly for being off-beat, unique and a little crazy. I was also a bit hesitant as the title sort of made it look like it may be full of gore and I didn’t feel up to seeing it.

This movie, however, was a pleasant surprise. It starts off with a couple of psycho killers who leave a motel and kill the clerk before leaving. My first instinct was to believe that this movie would be about these two guys going from town to town, just killing people off like flies, without a care or a look behind. We’ve all seen those movies… the been there, done that kind of movie… blood, guts and a bit of yawn.

What actually happens is that these two crazies come to a small town, where mostly everyone is kind and polite and a bit conservative and bully their way in a small restaurant where they get surprised by normally very calm and collected Tom Stall, played by Viggo Mortensen who in a burst of bravado kills them with their own weapon and becomes the town’s hero.

After appearing in the newspapers and on television, Tom must now confront mobsters from Philadelphia who believe he is an ex-mobster and are now harassing him and his family.

Violence runs throughout this movie, but it isn’t in any way gratuitous. I want to say so much about reactions and how events open deep feelings, restrained feelings, but I won’t go any further because such statements wouldn’t make much sense without explanations and it’s too hard to explain without giving anything away, and for once, I really think there should be no spoilers at all. I can say though, that you will probably be completely immersed into this film.

The acting is superb, the direction of this movie is exceptional. This may be perhaps David Cronenberg’s most commercial venture of date, but I must say, it doesn’t make it bland, boring or ordinary. Au contraire, this is one of my favorite movies I have seen this year. I was in awe.

This is Her review, you can read His 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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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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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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Lady in the Water (2006) August 5, 2006

Posted by Eury in Drama, Movies, Mystery, Thriller.
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Insert gratuitous water joke here

Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Cindy Cheung etc.

When Cleveland (Paul Giamatti) finds, Story ( Bryce Dallas Howard ) a sea-nymph right out of a bedtime tale, in the pool of the apartment building he is a concierge of, he tries to help her accomplish the mission she has here on land.

Warning: Spoilers in the following paragraph

To help her, he must gather a writer, a guardian, a healer, a translator and a guild to help and protect her from a monster that will try to stop her from being freed. To do so, he asks for help from several tenants of the apartment building that he believes they could be and they gladly all come to his aid.

What is wonderful about this movie, is it’s the kind of thing we would all like to be in the position of doing. Being involved in something magical, mystical and much bigger than ourselves and knowing it’s for the good of all mankind. Here, we are rooting for Cleveland, a man who has lost his wife and children and who sees himself as a nobody. We are not sure how things will turn out but we learn that for the most part people are good and want to help and that even though we don’t always believe it, every one of us may have an important role to play here on earth.

I also appreciated that the movie (in one small scene) turns towards us, the audience, and laughs at itself and movies of this genre. It made me smile.

I enjoyed this movie; it made me root for the little guy and made me feel like, yes… everybody can be a hero. 🙂

This is Her review, you can read His review here

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Lady in the Water (2006) August 5, 2006

Posted by Jinx in Drama, Movies, Mystery, Thriller.
2 comments

Insert gratuitous water joke here

Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Starring Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeffrey Wright, Cindy Cheung etc.

What is it with Shyamalan that brings out the Siegel in every reviewer in the world? “Muddy Water“, “A Narf is a Narf, already!“, “Shyamalan’s Lady doesn’t hold water“, “Is Lady in the Water a floater?“, and enough similar passes on drowning to make you cough up seaweed. I bet people sat around thinking up “ironically applicable” titles for their reviews the minute this movie started production.

Well, I’m just gonna review this movie, ok? No agenda, no golden shower jokes.

Lady in the Water is the story of a superintendent (Giamatti) who has pretty much given up on himself. The apartment building where he works has a host of interesting characters, much like any place would, and it feels very familiar. It’s a well-defined slice of everyday life. One night he gets a visitor, the mysterious midnight pool intruder Story (Howard), who rekindles something inside him. He regains some of his lost sense of wonder, as he investigates who she could be and what the heck she’s doing in his apartment wearing nothing but one of his shirts.

This movie is Shyamalan spoofing himself in various ways, and it’s fun. If you enjoy movies, the way stories unfold in patterns and turns, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s a lot more mundane than his previous films, it’s as if there’s a big budget movie played out within a low budget one. I won’t mention anything about the ending. Is there a twist? Watch it and see. If you can watch a rom-com knowing exactly what’s gonna happen and like it, you can certainly watch a movie where you have no clue, and not feel too cheated.

This is His review, you can read Her review here

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