2002

Russian Ark

Russian Ark

This poster - nothing nowhere this fun happens in this movie

(Russkiy kovcheg)

2002

dir: Aleksandr Sokurov

Usually when people are ambivalent about something they say "I'm in two minds about this". In the case of this film I am in fifteen minds about it.

Reading reviews of this film from the serious chin-stroking film reviewers over the last few months, I was lead to believe that this film is one of the single greatest contributions to cinema in the last 100 years. It only recently received cinematic release here in Australia, and I was eager to see it on the big screen instead of waiting another month or so to see it on DVD.

Much has been made of both the achievement in cinema this film represents and the artistic conceptual realisation that the film maker strives for. Essentially the achievement is an entire film made without edits. It is one continuous shot, unedited and incredibly well choreographed behind the scenes, with hundreds of extras having to be doing the right thing at the right time. Apparently it took them three attempts to get it right, which must have been quite frustrating for all concerned.

The other big selling point is the fact that the entirety of the film occurs within the walls of the Hermitage Museum, in St Petersburg, a place notoriously hard to get access to, especially for something of this nature.

Rating: 

Adaptation

Adaptation

Some days it's hard not to feel exactly like that

dir: Spike Jonze

2002

This is one of the best films from last year that practically no-one is going to bother seeing, I can just feel it. It probably has one of the least marketable premises of any film I can think of in recent memory, and doesn't exactly scream 'rollercoaster ride of thrills and spills' for your $13.50

It is still in my anything but humble opinion one of the best films of 2002, and Nicolas Cage manages to surprise me heartily by delivering two sterling performances, when I expected nothing from the man. Nothing at all. His last bunch of films have been dogs, so I had begun mourning the talent that Cage used to possess. And what does the fucker do? He delivers his best performance in over a decade.

Rating: 

Die Another Day

dir: Lee Tamahori
[img_assist|nid=1048|title=Bang Bang, you sexy middle-aged man|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=320|height=450]
There. That feeling you had in your chest. Hadn't you noticed it before? Did you think it was just that you're getting really unfit and unhealthy? Or that maybe you had tuberculosis? No, that wasn't it.

That's it. Breath out. See, what happened was, you were waiting with bated breath for my next movie review.

And what will it be: a review of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, where I kept getting funny looks from the parents who'd brought their kids along, who were wondering what a 30 year old man was doing watching a kiddies film sans kiddies? Will it be a review from an advanced screening of The Two Towers, where 700 nerds were on the verge of premature ejaculation for nearly 3 hours?

No, it's a review of the 20th sequel to a very, very tired franchise which like its title suggests, will not die any time soon.

Rating: 

Two Towers, The

dir: Peter Jackson
[img_assist|nid=1055|title=The Two Towers. It's about two towers, apparently|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=315|height=450]
There's no disputing that this is a technically competent film. What is debatable is whether it stands as a decent film on its own, which is the litmus test for any and every film.

Why? Well, I just didn't enjoy the film that much. Admittedly I was wretchedly hungover at the time, but I've enjoyed plenty of other films in a similar if not worse state.

Maybe my expectations were too high. My expectations were high for the first one as well, but they were satisfied tenfold that time. This time, well, I wondered a bit why I should care, a feeling I certainly did not get from the book this is based on.

By any objective measure I can think of the film does not stand on its own. Viewers who haven't seen the first one and have never read the books wouldn't have a fucking clue what's going on. That's not necessarily a fatal flaw, in that we want filmmakers who ask their audiences to put a bit more work into their viewing experience and not have to spoonfeed the dullards. But in general I like to believe that even individual parts of a trilogy should be complete stories in and of themselves. This film goes on for three hours and then kind of just ends, leaving me in the audience thinking "And? So?"

Rating: 

Quiet American. The

dir: Philip Noyce
[img_assist|nid=1044|title=I wonder how that war ended up going...|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=319|height=475]
Wait, there was a war in Vietnam? Why didn't anyone tell me about it? Was it a big war? And why has Hollywood ignored this potential goldmine? They should get that room with the thousand monkeys chained to their typewriters cracking right away.

I am sick to death of films relating to the Vietnam war. Thoroughly sick to fucking death. Sure, there's been plenty of wonderful and touching films about America's obsession with that little communist country (Full Metal Jacket, Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Hamburger Hill) and the apparent deep scar it has left on the national psyche, but I think it's been done more than enough. Give it a rest, people. Hell, I love a good war film as much as the next sociopath, but there's this point where a dead horse has been whipped so much that you haven't even got enough horse left to make gravy with.

In that case am I glad that this film, though it deals again with that country, is focused upon the lead up to
the 'war' as opposed to the war itself? Well, kinda.

Rating: 

Star Trek: Nemesis

dir: Stuart Baird
[img_assist|nid=1036|title=Which shine-head is which? Seeing double means seeing four Jean-Lucs!|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=300]
There is a law in economics referred to as the law of diminishing returns, or alternately known as the law of variable proportions. Essentially it states that if one factor of production is increased while the others remain constant, the overall returns will relatively decrease passed a certain point.

Accept for a moment that the number of Trek fans and other obese obsessives is relatively constant, if not decreasing over time. Establish that the amount of merchandising and truly quality television shows pumped out continues over time, with more and more money being poured into this formerly profitable venture. The law of diminishing returns states that past a certain point you cannot get back what you put in.

Rating: 

Rules of Attraction, The

dir: Roger Avary

I don't have an agenda in reviewing it favourably, and I am not that egotistical as to believe that my reviews affect people's viewing decisions. I can resolutely state that I probably got more enjoyment out of it than most people would, and probably forgive its amateurish errors more readily than I should.

Rating: 

One Hour Photo

dir: Mark Romanek
[img_assist|nid=1031|title=And what can I see in these missing frames from the Zapruder movie? Nixon doing what?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=353|height=500]
Robin Williams was, to use the official psychiatric term, a complete loon. He was a complete loon for a long time. Anyone who's ever seen one of his coke fuelled stand-up performances from the 80s (such as Live at the Met from 1986), or seen anyone try to interview him on any type of show knows how much of a complete nutjob he was (and probably still is). The man used to have a chaotic level of energy when 'on' that it meant even he didn't know what was going to come out of his manic mouth next. You've never seen someone cram more free associations, impressions, parodies and downright crippling gags in such a short space of time. Of course by delivering twenty gags in the space of fifteen seconds even when ten leave you scratching your unmentionables the other five kept you giggling like a schoolgirl.

Those days of coke binges and having sex with Christy Canyon (I'm not making that up) are long gone, but the mania certainly remains. Even now you'd be hard pressed to find a better example of a person with extreme bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression back in the old days.

Rating: 

Red Dragon

dir: Brett Ratner
[img_assist|nid=1035|title=Ralph Fiennes never looked so cute|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=271|height=288]
I would never have believed that Brett Ratner, director of such classy fair as some of Mariah Carey's film clips and Rush Hour 2 would be capable of making a decent film. I guess films like this go against the auteur theory of film making, either that or he deserves more credit than I am capable of giving him.

It's weird. The film works, amazingly enough. It's not Battleship Potemkin, don't get me wrong, but it is not the mess that I expected. What can be said with a comfortable level of certainty is that Ratner achieved something that Ridley Scott, for all his pretensions of being a first rank director, could not: he manages to make the whole serial killer thing work again, and somehow compelled Anthony Hopkins to actually act. Like he gets paid to.

My hatred of that farce masquerading as a film known as Hannibal is well known, If it isn't, it should be. I proudly aligned myself with the masses last year in declaring it one of the most truly stupid and mishandled films ever made. I can count at least fifteen levels upon which Hannibal failed, and with a somewhat slightly less passionate zeal I can comfortably assert that in my anything but humble opinion, Red Dragon gets it right.

Rating: 

Secretary

dir: Steven Shainberg
[img_assist|nid=1034|title=There have to be better ways to get the mail. But I fail to hear any complaining.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=467]
What a fucking freaky film. It starts off being a film about one freak, who then finds an even bigger freak than herself. It just makes you hope they eventually get together and raise some freak babies.

There were certainly a bunch of people in the audience I saw this film with who didn't have a singular clue about this film. They were the ones that walked out not because of the sexual / sadomasochistic content, but because the psychosexual stuff wasn't sexy. They were actually expecting or hoping for some T & A and double entendres about taking dictation and doing a Lewinsky under the desk. Not a story about a demented self-mutilator and a sadistic obsessive-compulsive.

Rating: 

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