What was the last movie you saw at the theaters?

Tools    






Wah-Wah (Richard E. Grant, U.K.)

Wah-Wah is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of the end of an age. Ralph Compton (played by Zachary Fox in the opening minutes, then About A Boy's Nicholas Hoult as the character ages) lives in Swaziland, the small country in southeast Africa. It's the late 1960s, just before the kingdom took back its independence from the British. Ralph's father (Gabriel Byrne) is in the foreign service, assigned chiefly as a teacher of English, and has a chest full of medals for his work. His wife (Miranda Richardson) has grown weary of their post, and weary of her husband. As the movie opens, young Ralphie pretends to be asleep in the back seat of the car as his mother commits adultery in the front seat. His parents divorce soon after, Mom leaves, and Ralph chooses boarding school rather than stay home with his father, who has taken to drinking very heavily. When Ralph returns a couple years later, he learns his father has remarried a loud American former stewardess (Emily Watson), and Ralph tries to deal with his broken family the best way a fifteen-year-old can.

This a thinly-veiled autobiography from the writer/director Richard E. Grant (well-known actor from Withnail & I, The Player, L.A. Story, etc.). While the subject matter is obviously very personal to him and most of the individual scenes feel authentic, as a narrative it doesn't quite work. The pacing and tone are off, and frankly he tries to cram much too much into one-hundred minutes. The result is too choppy, and comes off more like a beautifully photogrphed TV movie. Byrne has some nice moments as the alcoholic father who was kind and charming by day and a monster at night after a bottle of Scotch, and some of the supporting cast does some good work too, especially Julie Walters as a family friend and the wife of the man Ralph's mother ran off with. Nicholas Hoult, who was so good in About A Boy a few years ago, has hit a tremendous growth spurt since then and is over six feet tall now (you can also see him in last year's dud The Weather Man with Nic Cage). He's also a darn good young actor. Ralph is darker and different from that shy misfit who kept politely pestering Hugh Grant. I'm sure all the things that happen in Wah-Wah are based on the emotional high and low points Richard Grant experienced as a boy, but he needed somebody with more distance from the material to edit it for him, show him how to condense all those incidents into a cohesive story that flows and characters that come off as more than just types. It's a heartfelt first effort, but less than the sum of its parts.

GRADE: C+
__________________
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra




Joyeux Nol - Merry Christmas (Christian Carion, France)

On Christmas Eve 1914, still the earliest months of World War I, along the frontlines there were pockets of spontaneous, unsanctioned cease-fires where for a day or so soldiers put down their rilfes, emerged from their trenches and met the enemy as human beings in No Man's Land. Hundreds if not thousands of soldiers met in this way along the Western Front that Christmas. Joyeux Nol dramatizes this bizarre and inspiring chapter of the war.

The movie is set in the middle a France, where a regiment of German soldiers are dug in facing French and Scottish troops. Though only a few months into the War, all sides have already experienced the incredible loss rates and insanity of trench warfare. On the German side there is a soldier who was a top tenor (Benno Frmann, The Princess and the Warrior) with the opera in Berlin before being called into service. On the French side, a young Lieutenant (Guillaume Canet, Love Me If You Dare) worries about his wife and new child not having had communication with them since the war began. In the Scots trenches, a priest (Gary Lewis, Billy Elliot) has signed on as a stretcher bearer so that he may tend to the young men of his parish who went to war.

After getting back stories for these and a handful of the other soldiers, we witness a bloody assault on December 23rd by the French and Scots that meets German machine guns and forces a retreat. The German command have arranged for candles and small trees to be sent to the front, so that their soldiers may experience a little bit of the holiday and hopefully boost morale. In the Scottish trench, the priest gets on the bagpipes and starts the men in a song about home. The Germans, only fifty some yards away, answer with their tenor, who sings a carol, and some of the men put their lit trees on the top of the trench - initially confounding the French. The Scots return with another carol on the bagpipes, and the tenor joins them. Caught in the moment, he rises from his trench and walks into No Man's Land. Soon the heads of all three armies are watching the show, and a truce is struck up among the three commanders. Men meet as men, exchance cigarettes and coffee and chocolates, show each other pictures of their wives and homes, and for a few hours there is peace. This extends to the next day when they decide to properly bury the dead that litter the grounds. They even play football together. War, by necessity for a soldier, is about the dehuminization of the enemy. For this brief odd and wonderful moment, that programming was overridden in an instinctive gesture of basic humanity.

All extremely unlikely, except these are exactly the sorts of things reported in the various accounts from the front that Christmas. Writer/director Christian Carion melds all of those stories into one melodrama. Yes, some of the supporting characters are stock types, and the subplot about the tenor's lover from the Opera joining him on the front is pretty contrived, but overall a nicely made movie with a slew of good European actors. In addition to those already mentioned there's also Daniel Brhl (Goodbye, Lenin, The Edukators) as the German lieutenant, Alex Ferns ("The EastEnders") as the Scottish lieutenant and Diane Kruger (Troy, National Treasure) as the soprano who cannot bare another minute away from her love. I'm not sure why this wasn't put into theaters in America in time for Christmas 2005, as it was throughout Europe. It's going to get a small art house run in March, but hopefully it'll be on DVD by Christmas '06.

GRADE: B



Originally Posted by Holden Pike
After getting back stories for these and a handful of the other soldiers, we witness a bloody assault on December 23rd by the French and Scots that meets German machine guns and forces a retreat. The German command have arranged for candles and small trees to be sent to the front, so that their soldiers may experience a little bit of the holiday and hopefully boost morale. In the Scottish trench, the priest gets on the bagpipes and starts the men in a song about home. The Germans, only fifty some yards away, answer with their tenor, who sings a carol, and some of the men put their lit trees on the top of the trench - initially confounding the French. The Scots return with another carol on the bagpipes, and the tenor joins them. Caught in the moment, he rises from his trench and walks into No Man's Land. Soon the heads of all three armies are watching the show, and a truce is struck up among the three commanders. Men meet as men, exchance cigarettes and coffee and chocolates, show each other pictures of their wives and homes, and for a few hours there is peace. This extends to the next day when they decide to properly bury the dead that litter the grounds. They even play football together. War, by necessity for a soldier, is about the dehuminization of the enemy. For this brief odd and wonderful moment, that programming was overridden in an instinctive gesture of basic humanity.

Unless i'm getting the Wars mixed up, I've heard something similar took place during the Second World War where both sides after a night of fighting stopped at the crack of Christmas morning, and exchanged hugs and tears for a brief moment. Very touching.



Arresting your development
Originally Posted by Escape
Unless i'm getting the Wars mixed up, I've heard something similar took place during the Second World War where both sides after a night of fighting stopped at the crack of Christmas morning, and exchanged hugs and tears for a brief moment. Very touching.
Too bad it couldn't have been Christmas morning everyday for em'.
__________________
Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.
Embrace the chaos and sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.






i saw last capote recently, very very good movie. making me read his books
__________________
Just a dog? Porthos dreams of being a bear, and you want to shatter those dreams by saying he's just a dog? What a horrible candle-snuffing word. That's like saying, "He can't climb that mountain, he's just a man", or "That's not a diamond, it's just a rock." Just.




The Proposition (John Hillcoat, Australia)

A great looking flick with atmosphere to spare, it never becomes the great movie it might have been. Set in the Australian Outback at the turn of the 20th century during the last throes of the Bushranger era, The Proposition is chiefly about a lawman, Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone), who captures two brothers from the infamous Burns gang of bloodthirsty outlaws. The proposition of the title is this: the Captain will arrest the younger brother, Mikey, if Charlie (Guy Pearce) will ride out into the desert and kill his older brother Arthur (Danny Huston), the leader of the gang and the most insane and violent of the bunch. Charlie has until Christmas, just a handful of days, to complete the task. If he does, Charlie and Mikey will be pardoned. If he does not, Mikey will be hung on Christmas Day. Charlie reluctantly agrees.

If it sounds like a classic plot for a Western, it is. But there's nothing classic about the tone of The Proposition. First of all it is one of the goriest and bloodiest "Westerns" this side of Jodorowsky's El Topo (1970). That kind of stuff doesn't bother me in and of itself, but it's certainly a warning for the weaker of heart. My problem with it is the narrative is really choppy and awkward, leaving the gore and these characters to meander in pretentious confusion. The screenplay was written by singer/songwriter Nick Cave, and while it has lots of great elements what it doesn't have is a strong spine or any sense of basic exposition. Many individual scenes work as stand alone pieces, but as a whole you keep feeling like you got up to go to the bathroom a dozen times and have missed crucial plot points and character introductions. And it's a shame, because there are some great actors in The Proposition doing their best to make it work, but the script and/or editing have let them down. In addition to Pearce and Winstone who are always great, Danny Huston, son of the legendary John Huston and half-brother to Anjelica, gets his best role ever as the philosophical madman who likes watching magnificent sunsets and quoting poetry, believes in the bond of family above all else, and will behead and rape and disembowel like he's buttering bread. Danny was also very good as the duplicitous Sandy in The Constant Gardener last year, and between these two movies and work in recent years like Silver City and Birth, he's proving himself to be a good actor. The cast also features Emily Watson as Winstone's wife, David Gulpilil (Walkabout, Rabbit-Proof Fence), David Wenham (Faramir in LOTR), an unrecognizeable Noah Taylor (Shine, Almost Famous) and a scenery chewing cameo by John Hurt as an old bounty hunter.

Besides a bunch of very good actors, the main highlight of the movie is the amazing cinematography by Benot Delhomme (The Scent of Green Papaya, The Winslow Boy). There are some shots that rival a Terence Malick movie for sheer breathtaking beauty. This makes the weak and flawed narrative all the more frustrating. Nick Cave and fellow Bad Seeder Warren Ellis provide the music, and while it can be as overwhelming as the violence at times, it works. So many individual things work in The Proposition, which makes its failure to become a great movie puzzling and disappointing. There had to be a way to blend the stylized violence and the attempt at myth with better fundamental storytelling. It's an experience alright, but it might have been a masterpiece.

GRADE: C+




Mj Nikifor - My Nikifor (Krzysztof Krauze, Poland)

Based on the true story of a "native" artist in '60s Communist Poland. Native art, or what has been dubbed "outsider art" in America, meaning coming from those without formal training, folk artists or art created by the mentally ill, which used to be called "nave art" in Europe. One of the first such artists to be recognized in Poland was Nikifor Drowniak Krynicki, who left thousands of paintings and drawings behind, creating upwards of two to four pieces every day of his adult life. My Nikifour is the story of how he was befriended and discovered.

Marian Wlosinski (Roman Gancarczyk) is a middle-aged husband and father who is a State employed artist, which mostly invloves creating uninteresting banners and murals, and has little time to truly express his art. But it's a living, and supports his family. At his studio in Krynica, an elderly odd little man has taken to inviting himself in every day, siting at a desk by the window, and without much in the way of conversation will paint all day long - when he isn't eating the paint, that is. Out of some basic charity and pity for this old man who makes what little money he can by selling his art for change on the street and train station, Marian lets this man (Krystyna Feldman), who only identifies himself as Nikifor, stay and work each day. He wears stinking rags, has skin conditions and a hacking cough, but Wlosinski can't turn him away. Over time he bonds with the sick, crusty old artist, and even his wife and two daughters take a sort of liking to him. It's a nice little character piece about faith and tolerance and art. The two lead performances are both good, and when you realize that Krystyna Feldman is a woman, the cross-gender nature of her role as Nikifor is pretty amazing. The narrative holds no surprises I suppose, and thankfully no clich plot mechinations of oppresive bad guys or evil doctors are employed. It's just a nice, bitterweet story of an unlikely friendship and an unlikely artist.

GRADE: B-



The last movie I saw was Walk The Line, which i thought was a awesome movie.



wow...the proposition was just shown on the Berlin film festival.....it seems like your festival is very good....and hey, the polish film's main character has the same name as me,now if that's not a good enough recommendation to see it.........



Last movie I saw in theaters was Underworld Evolution...It was interesting but made me think they might make more .. I dont know how I feel about that!
__________________
I think I should warn you all, when a vampire bites it, it's never a pretty sight. No two bloodsuckers go the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them...
~The Lost Boys ~



In Soviet America, you sue MPAA!
I finally got around to seeing The New World.

****!
__________________
Horror's Not Dead
Latest Movie Review(s): Too lazy to keep this up to date. New reviews every week.




Jazireh Ahani - Iron Island (Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran)

Iranian movie about a hundred or so people who live on a rusting old oil tanker, their mini-society within that world, and what happens when they have to leave their island. There's some very think allegorical stuff going on here, and some of it was basic and easy to translate, as in the boat represents Iran, the drilling into the bottom of the hull of the boat to get oil which will keep them independent for a time or some of the young boys bringing back a television with Western influences on it. But the larger points it was going for I just didn't get. I'm sure "The Captain" respresented somebody specific, that the pregnant woman and her stillbirth refer to some point in the country's history, that the residents signing their power of attorney meant something more, that the drowned boy tortured until made to admit "I fu*ked up!" and then left unconscious at the prayer sight and a dozen other characters and actions were symbolic of something. Unfortunately I don't know enough about Iran to know what, I reckon. There were some very nice shots of the boat alone in the azure sea, but in the second half of the movie when it stops being about the characters and is only about the allegory, I had no way to interpret what the filmmaker was going for. I did get the impression it was being very critical of Iranian history and policies, and it is probably a very brave and radical film. Maybe I'll watch it with a couple Iranians someday and they can walk me through it? Until then, I don't even feel qualified to give it a grade, other than to say as a narrative it didn't work apart from the allegory (whatever it was).




Cowboy del Amor (Michle Ohayon, U.S.A.)

No, this isn't a sequel to Brokeback Mountain. Cowboy del Amor is a gentle and enjoyable if lightweight and innocuous documentary about Ivan Thompson, the self-appointed "Cowboy Cupid" who, for a fee, will take American men into Mexico and find them wives. He runs a mail-order Mexican bride business, but without eliminating the middle man. He actually goes with the men and sits on the interviews as they look for prospects. Ivan, sixty-years-old, is a character alright, and in the movie we follow one set-up from beginning to end and see a couple others in various stages. The shopping husband we chielfy spend time with is a nice enough guy, and that he isn't some obvious sleazeball and the woman he chooses not some tart looking for a Green Card makes the whole thing kind of oddly sweet, in its way. Michle, the director, doesn't insert herself into the proceedings, but we do hear her ask a couple pointed questions and with her editing she doesn't let the fact that the whole idea is far less than sweet go by unnoticed. We also get to see matchmaker Ivan and his Mexican ex-wife and her family, giving much more perspective to who he is when he isn't being a salseman for the lonely. It's fluff, but Ivan with his homespun nonsense and thoughts about American women and the depths of love is amusing enough, and the main contracted romance sincere enough that it's an amusing hour and a half, but not anything more.

GRADE: C+



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Casanova. Really, really bad. So childish, it was unbelievable. Barely funny, not romantic, with an increasingly thin connection to any reality and logic whatsoever. I recommend to anyone to watch the bbc version instead, superior in every possible way.



Walk The Line was the last movie and the performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were outstanding. The storyline was good as well.




Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, France)

Weird movie that as far as I can tell is weird just for the sake of being weird, which gets boring pretty quickly. Sort of a stylized nightmare of a finishing school/prison where little girls aged about eight or nine arrive in coffins. They arise, are given color-coded ribbons for their hair that correspond to their age, and partake in lessons, though it seems mostly centered in ballet. Much of the screentime time is spent with topless nine and twelve-year-old girls in white panties cavorting on the grounds, which is a large mansion in a dark woods with a high wall around it. There's also a theatre through a grandfather clock they perform in for anonymous adults and dark caves and running water. Feels fairy tale-ish and also kinda like "The Prisoner", but never with much of any point. Innocence is purposefully obtuse, and while there's definitely some obvious metaphors about caterpillars and butterflies and such, it's all for nothing. There's plenty of symbolism to interpret, and none of it worth the effort. The ending seems to suggest some Margaret Atwood-like Sci-Fi context, but by then you won't give a crap...and it still doesn't make the hour and fifty-five minutes before it any better or clearer.

GRADE: D



Kakushi-ken, Oni no Tsume - The Hidden Blade (Yji Yamada, Japan)

Writer/director Yji Yamada's The Twilight Samurai was a moving and poetic character-driven story set in Feudal Japan that had almost nothing to do with swordplay. His latest, The Hidden Blade, is in a similar vein, though doesn't acheive the kind of perfection Twilight did. This one is a little more plot driven, but it still owes much more to Samurai films by Masaki Kobayashi than it does to the likes of Takeshi Kitano. A mid-level Samurai named Katagiri (Masatoshi Nagase) who has never had to draw his sword in combat ("Killing is frightening, even for a Samurai") is forced to unsheath his blade against a friend (Yukiyoshi Ozawa) who has turned rebellious. But it takes a long time to get to that duel. What the movie mostly consists of is an honorable man trying to work toward a higher justice within the rigid caste system, and find a way to be with the woman he loves (Takako Matsu) while maneuvering through the societal restraints. While the examination of love and the encroachment of modern rifles and canons into what was a centuries old noble form of combat are the main issues, the movie does take time to develop the characters well. It's also got some terrific humor sprinkled throughout. And when the final confrontation does come, it's a good one. The Twilight Samurai is a beautiful film. The Hidden Blade is an entertaining one, but refreshingly in the old fashioned style.

GRADE: B



Hidden Blade sounds good, though wouldn't mind seeing Twilight Samurai first, what grade would you give that Holden?
__________________




chicagofrog's Avatar
history *is* moralizing
i saw Innocence a week ago and i agree with Holden. beautiful pics are not enough to save the lack of interest growing in the audience's heart.
instead, go see/buy/rent/order Saint Ange

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367000/

called House Of Voices in English



the pics are even better in quality and originality, the house is as haunting and present as in The Others, Virginie Ledoyen is as beautiful as good an actress, and the end, well... is maybe confused for many (i say that since it seems i kinda like confused endings and my tastes often don't agree with other people who watched - but didn't see - the same movie) just as it is for me, so Holden's and others' opinion would be interesting.
__________________
We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.



Originally Posted by Pyro Tramp
Hidden Blade sounds good, though wouldn't mind seeing Twilight Samurai first, what grade would you give that Holden?


The Twilight Samurai is very good, an A-. Also check out some of Kobayashi's great films, like Samurai Rebellion (1967) and Harakiri (1962).




The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005 - Tommy Lee Jones)

Working from a strong script by Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams), director Tommy Lee Jones has crafted a piece of cinematic poetry about friendship, vengeance and responsibilty. Jones also stars as Pete Perkins, a southern Texas ranch foreman. As the movie opens a body is discovered in the desert: it is a migrant cowboy named Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cesar Cedillo), who has been shot and left for the coyotes in a shallow grave. The narrative takes us back and forth in time to see who Melquiades was, the fast and deep friendship he and Pete struck up, the border patrolman Mike Norton (Barry Pepper) and his wife (January Jones) new to the community, and the fateful intersection that led to the shooting. It was essentially an accident, but Norton is a thug who has quickly earned a bad reputation. He doesn't report the shooting of course, but Pete doggedly figures it out. When the local sherrif (Dwight Yoakam) refuses to take any action, old Pete Perkins decides to take matters into his own hands. He kidnaps Norton, forces him to dig up the body of his friend, and the three men set out on horseback toward Mexico, so that Pete can fulfill a promise to Melquiades and bury him in the small village he loved.

This is Tommy Lee's feature debut as a director (though he also helmed the 1995 made-for-TV movie The Good Old Boys, starring himself, Sissy Spacek, Frances McDormand and Sam Shepard), and it is strong, confident work. Wisely he lets the tone stay elegiac rather than becoming frenetic. Jones' Pete is most definitely angry, but he doesn't let thet be what drives him. Taking Norton out to the desert and shooting him would have been easy enough and maybe even cathartic, but he doesn't want that kind of revenge. He wants to make him understand the gravity of what he has done and cannot undo, to beg Melquiades for forgiveness, not him. Even with a graphically decomposing riding partner there is some real humor too, and the Quixotic journey they make is engaging and poignant.

In addition to stellar direction, Jones is excellent in front of the camera. Tommy Lee is one of those actors that is so good so often, but too much of the time - in recent years especially - he's off collecting paychecks in bad and forgettable flicks (The Hunted, The Missing, Man of the House). To see him in Three Burials is a vivid reminder of just how truly great he is on the screen, how powerful yet quiet a presence and what a range of subtle emotion he can project and embody. Pepper gets the more thankless role of the bastard who needs to be taught a lesson, but he can definitely stand toe-to-toe with Jones on screen. There's an excellent supporting cast, led by Yoakum who continues to impress. He might not have a heck of a lot of range, but when you look at his work in Sling Blade, Panic Room and here, you have to see he's more than a singer/songwriter with a sideline. January Jones (no relation) is good as the bored and unloved wife who is lost in the dirt and dust of Texas, Melissa Leo ("Homicide: Life on the Street", 21 Grams) is excellent as the sexy aging waitress involved in extramarital affairs with a few of the men in town, and speaking of musicians turned actors The Band's Levon Helm has a great cameo as a blind hermit. Julio Cedillo gets a relatively small number of scenes as the title man before he becomes a corpse, but he is able to convey his simple integrity and dreams very well and very quickly, and you understand why Pete would go so far to keep a promise to him.

It's a little bit of Lonely Are the Brave mixed with Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Lone Star and "Lonesome Dove". The end result is a great film. Can't hardly wait to see it again. Definitely one of the best movies of the year, and a shame it was shut-out at the Oscars.


GRADE: A



Half man, half machine
Metropolitan (Whit Sillman, 1990) A+

I had seen Stillman's other two films, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, but had never seen his debut until last night. Ok, now, does it make me pretentious if I say that I found Metropolitan ****ing hilarious? Pretty much everything that comes out of Christopher Eigeman's mouth in the film had me on the floor. A brilliantly observed film.

"The story of Babar... I'd forgotten how beautiful it was."
__________________
"Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me." - Federico Fellini

"If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed." - Stanley Kubrick

"Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you." - Roger Ebert