Monday, October 31, 2011

Scene of the Week: Halloween Edition - Mulholland Drive

By s. Monday, October 31, 2011 , , , 2 Comments
Mulholland Drive
directed by David Lynch

The scene: In a sequence that is bound to make you jump and turn your blood into ice cold liquid, two men are talking in Winkies restaurant. One of them tells another that he had a dream last night where he was sitting in this restaurant, talking to the man he is talking now and then they walked out and behind the restaurant there was a man with the scariest face one can imagine. The other man convinces him that he should face his fears, get out of the restaurant and see for himself there is no one hiding behind the building. The two men walk out of the Winkies and slowly walk towards the place the man saw the scary face in his nightmare. They walk closer and closer, step by step, and suddenly for just a short moment horrifying person peaks in from behind the wall. The man who had a dream collapses and presumably - dies.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

5 emotions, 15 movies, 15 pictures.

By s. Sunday, October 30, 2011 2 Comments
Desire Moulin Rouge / Atonement / Black Swan Love Love Actually / Solaris / Big Fish Joy Inception / Amelie / A Single Man Sadness The Hours / Brokeback Mountain /Hearry Potter and Deathly Hallows part 2 Fear Se7en / Repulsion / Mulholland Dr.

Screaming Sunday: Skeleton Key

By s. , 2 Comments
Plot: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.
The heroes: Young nurse who works as a caregiver. Although strong and seemingly cold, Caroline is one of those horror movie likable but also tough heroines who aren't dumb and will do everything they have to do to survive. Kate Hudson who does mostly romantic comedies, delivers very good performance and one can only hope she will appear in serious material more often.
The antagonists: The spirits of voodoo practitioners trying to go back into the world of the living.
What makes it so great? "Skeleton Key" is one of my all time favorite horror films - it has this dark, magical ambiance that was seen for the last time in "Angel Heart". Voodoo, rituals, creepy attics, rain, ghosts, really can't get any better than this. There is only a handful of good movies set in fascinating Louisiana and this is one of them. Plus Gena Rowlands' performance as Caroline's mysterious employer is honestly one of the most magnetic you'll ever see in a horror movie.
Best scene: The final ritual scene.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday TV Special: The Walking Dead

By s. Saturday, October 29, 2011 , , Be the first to comment!
Plot: :The series follows the group of people who managed to survive the apocalypse - nobody knows what happened for sure, but the fact is that now most of the population turned into zombies. The bites kill you...but you don't stay dead for long.
Structure: Each episode follows the story of the survivors who try to stay alive in the World that's filled with zombies. The series follows the events of graphic novel it is based on.
Verdict: The first episode of the show was great and it had one of the most amazing zombie attacks I've seen, where the main hero rides on the horse through seemingly deserted streets and suddenly swarm of undead attack. But then it went downhill - the series focuses too much on boring exchanges between characters and lacks scares and thrills the subject matter requires. But I'm hoping with time it will pick up the pace. 
What makes it so great? It's worth watching for the terrific zombie make up alone.
Who you may recognize: Andrew Lincoln - the guy who held "to me you are perfect" card for Keira Knightley in "Love Actually", Sarah Wayne Callies from "Prison Break", Laurie Holden from "The Mist" and "Silent Hill" and Norman Reedus from "The Boondock Saints".
Who's behind it? The first season was overseen by Frank Darabont, the director of "The Green Mile" and "The Shawshank Redemption"
Who will like it? Fans of zombie movies, survival horror and apocalypse setting
When and where? AMC, Sundays. Season 1 - DVD
Zombie attack in the first episode of the series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2

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(130 min, 2011)
Plot: Harry, Ron and Hermione search for Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes in their effort to destroy the Dark Lord.
Director: David Yates
Writers: Steve Kloves (screenplay), J.K. Rowling (novel)
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint

Years of magic, years of love.
I remember when I was still a kid and I was siting in the theater watching “Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone”. I recall how I loved the characters flying on broomsticks, facing danger and forming life long friendships. Over the years I haven't missed any of the movies, although I only started to read the books recently. What makes that series so beloved and unique? Why is it my favorite popular story, one which I love more than 'Lord of the rings”, “The Matrix”, “Star wars” or “Pirates of the Caribbean”?

The secret is that J. K. Rowling realized that her readers will grow, that with time they will mature. As they did, the characters followed. We saw Harry, Hermione and Ron falling in love for the first time, having disputes, facing tragedies and going through normal phases of life. Even though they live in magical world their lives never differed too much from ours. Kids and adults all over the world witnessed their adventures and related to them. Because in its heart “Harry Potter” was never about magic. It was about friendship, love, loyalty and sacrifice. And most of all – about making choices.
The second part of “Deathly Hallows” shows Harry, Hermione and Ron on their quest to destroy horcruxes – magical objects in which Voldemort hid parts of his soul. Only when they are destroyed he can be killed. Their quest continues during epic battle for Hogwarts, when Death Eaters attack the legendary school and all of our beloved characters try to stop them.
While part 1 had very flawed pacing part 2 is an extraordinary movie – things move fast, very rarely too fast. Apart from one short scene with Helena Ravenclaw (which I think could be cut down by a half and the movie would be much better) I was not bored for a second, whilst during part 1 I think I dozed off at one point. The movie races as fast as the spells shoot out of wands, but you can still follow the story. Still, I cannot understand why the last part and with all honesty, best part of the series was made into the shortest film. Some of the scenes, like duels between Snape and McGonagall and Molly Weasly and Bellatrix Lestrage really deserved to be longer.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just a random thing...

By s. Friday, October 28, 2011 , , , , 2 Comments
...that haunts me.

10 movie pets you'd love to adopt

By s. , , , , , , , , , , 6 Comments
Name: Sonny
Breed: French bulldog
Movie: Due Date
Superpowers: Obedient, willing to smoke weed with you, manages to get out of horrible car crash alive, appreciates Pink Floyd, when standing on the edge of Grand Canyon is not tempted to jump.
Flaws: That is one horny dog.

Name: Daisy
Breed: Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Movie: Snatch
Superpowers: Able to escape Bulletproof Tony, eats a squeaky toy so she distinguishes herself from others with a peculiar sound and has a treasure chest inside her stomach
Flaws: Sophisticated food needs - huge diamond, for example.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The nature of sleep, the nature of life. (Sleeping Beauty)

By s. Thursday, October 27, 2011 , , , 5 Comments
Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles 
Somnophilia (from Latin "somnus" = sleep and Greek φιλία, "-philia" = love) is a paraphilia in which sexual arousal or orgasm are stimulated by intruding on and awakening a sleeping person with erotic caresses, but not with force or violence.
Only once in a blue moon a movie comes along that fascinates me so much even after I write a review on it, I still feel being haunted by it. Lucy, the heroine of Julia Leigh's fascinating and stunning directorial debut is more fascinating than Justine in "Melancholia" - another of this year's tortured souls. It's not even that Lucy is sad or depressed - in fact she is one of the strongest characters I've seen. But as facing the end of the World comes easy to depressed Justine who has nothing to lose, living comes easy to Lucy, who basically just swims through time and events, cold, strong, unmoved. What makes her so special is that no matter what life throws at her her emotionless state allows her to deal with it. She has multiple jobs - she never complains. Her friend is dying - she stands by him strongly. She has money trouble - no problem, she finds a way to handle with it, But money bring her no joy - in one of the movie's most haunting moments Lucy burns a banknote, because it means nothing to her, because she made so many that night, she simply can do it. And if she can do something, she just goes ahead and does it.

Love and Other Drugs

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(112 min, 2010)
Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Charles Randolph (screenplay), Edward Zwick (screenplay),
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Judy Greer

Sex over substance

Maggie (Anne Hathaway) is an alluring free spirit who won't let anyone - or anything - tie her down. But she meets her match in Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal), whose relentless and nearly infallible charm serve him well with the ladies and in the cutthroat world of pharmaceutical sales. Maggie and Jamie's evolving relationship takes them both by surprise, as they find themselves under the influence of the ultimate drug: love.

Ah, how I loved the 90s. The time when MTV actually played good music, when Johnny Depp wasn't the object of incisive salivation of 13 year-old girls, when actual good singers were considered to be good singers, not plastic platinum blondes and when “Friends” were on TV. So the beginning of “Love and other drugs”, set in 1996 when we hear “"Two Princes" in the background started off promising. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from that moment.

There are two things that annoy the living hell out of me when I watch comedies – when it's not funny and you can clearly see when director wanted you too laugh, it was just too lame of attempt to succeed and when you are bored so much you split your focus and start doing something else. During this particular movie I actually started feeding my virtual cat slash dog on Facebook. That's how bored I was.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Soundtrack Wednesday - The Skin I Live In

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Artist: Alberto Iglesias
Song: Los Vestidos Desgarrados 
Movie: "The Skin I Live In"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

7 films to see on Halloween.

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Halloween is just few days away and it's a perfect time for a little horror marathon. If your nearby theatres didn't prepare anything special - for example obligatory "Saw" marathon, you don't feel like seeing "Paranormal Activity 3" - and you really shouldn't considering the reviews - and there's nothing on TV, here are some suggestions for you. If you are easily scared you can always watch something related to magic and not filled with zombies, werewolves or vampires. Here are some recommendations as to what you may enjoy watching during Hallow's Eve:

Scene of the Week: Drive

By s. , , 2 Comments
directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

The scene: When the driver (Ryan Gosling) gets in the elevator with Irene (Carey Mulligan) his neighbor he is falling in love with and unkown man he suddenly notices a gun in the man's pocket. Knowing that the man was sent after him and Irene, the driver pushes her to the end of the elevator and decides to kiss her - for the first and last time - before he begins senselessy kicking man's head and killing him. Irene, previously oblivious to the fact the driver is capable of unimaginable violence slowly exits the elevator and stares at him shocked, while he looks apologetic knowing that even though he just saved her life she will never look at him the same way as before.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eden Lake

By s. Monday, October 24, 2011 , , , , , , , 1 Comment so far
(91 min, 2008)
Director: James Watkins
Writer: James Watkins
Stars: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender and Tara Ellis

oh, Children!

Stephen Taylor (Michael Fassbender) invites his girlfriend (Kelly Reilly), a kindergarten teacher Jenny, to spend the weekend in Eden Lake, a paradisaical and remote place in the woods. However, his true intention is to propose Jenny. While camping at the lake shore, they are disturbed by a gang of loathsome boys leaded by the punk Brett. The next day, the couple realizes that they have been robbed and are stranded in the woods without their car. While walking through the forest trying to reach the road, Steve and Jenny meet the gang and they are brutally attacked. Steve is captured by the youths while Jenny is seeks a way out of the woods with the criminals chasing her.

I want to say upfront – I love kids. I want to have three myself. Whenever I turn on the news and I hear something bad happened to a child I instantly have tears in my eyes. But as I sometimes wonder about my future kids' possible names and how would they look like I always think of infants and kinder garden kids, never about the time when they start to rebel. Teenagers are hell, no matter where they are and who raises them. But hell has many different shades - there is a difference between smoking cigarettes in school bathroom when they are fifteen and torturing strangers when they are twelve.

“Eden Lake” tells a story that can happen to anyone and that is the most petrifying aspect of the film. When you're watching it you think that something like this cannot possibly happen in today's world, but then you start thinking and you come to the conclusion that sadly it is, in fact, our horrible reality – that children like those in the movie can be seen anywhere around us. Stephan and Jenny are a normal couple – she's sweet, loves kids as she is kinder garden teacher. He is trying to look like a macho in front of her, but as he wants to propose, he takes her for romantic weekend at the lake.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

By s. Sunday, October 23, 2011 , , , , , , , 2 Comments
(118 min, 2011)
Plot: Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have the perfect life together living the American dream... until Emily asks for a divorce. Now Cal, Mr Husband, has to navigate the single scene with a little help from his professional bachelor friend Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling).
Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Stars: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Julianne Moore

The only one?

I'm gonna sell this movie to you right here right now. Ready? It's the best romantic comedy since “Love Actually”. It's not as good, it's not as funny, but in the sea of mediocre comedies with the obligatory presence of 1) never ending swearing 2) marijuana 3) forced pro-family messages in the end so that nobody would accuse the film of being cheap and stupid, “Crazy stupid love” which doesn't have any of those things is a breath of fresh air.

You may not like Steve Carell, the departure of whom from “The Office” I still mourn, but he is the heart of this movie. He is very funny, easy to relate to and nothing he says, even if it's dangerously close to being sentimental sounds cheap. The movie has very odd pairing – it has Carell, who appeared in silly comedies for years now and Ryan Gosling, who does serious dramas, mostly indie ones. I have seen most of Gosling's movies and I would never suspect him of being capable of being that hilarious. He is. He is the true star of the movie – from the funny one liners to the continuous looks of disgust he gives Carell as he looks at his wardrobe and behavior, Gosling steals every scene from professional comedian Carrel. He also has this way about him – you see him picking up all those ladies and you don't question it. He is the kind of guy you would love to go home with.

Midnight in Paris

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(94 min, 2011) 
Plot: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates

From Paris with magic

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

I went to see “Midnight in Paris” because ever since I was fifteen I haven't missed any of Woody Allen's movies. I knew nothing about the film and I really didn't expect for it to have a fantasy element. I thought it's going to be typical Allen's movie with neurotics and amusing situations, witty dialogues and classy cinematography. Well, “Midnight in Paris” has all of that but in the fashion of “The purple rose of Cairo” it also has fantasy in it. It's not the best movie Allen made since “Hannah and her sisters” as many overeager reviewers seem to think, but it's certainly one of his best films.
Gil is about to marry Inez, but before they get married he goes on a trip with her and her parents to Paris. Gil is an aspiring writer and he instantly falls in love with the city. All he wants to do is walk in the rain and soak up the atmosphere. One evening he is walking around the town alone and when the clock hits midnight, much like for fairy tale's Cinderella, a carriage appears and magically takes him back to the 20's – Gil's favorite era. There he meets Scott Fitzgerald and his erratic wife Zelda, Ernest Hemingway and others. He also meets Picasso's muse Adriana and falls in love with her.

Screaming Sunday: Shutter

By s. , , , 1 Comment so far
Plot: A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can not escape your past. 
The heroes: Tun and his girlfriend Jane - first both being nice enough for you to care about them, but by the time the movie is over you will end up liking only one of them.
The antagonists: Ghost of young woman showing up first at the pictures and then...closer and closer to scared couple.
What makes it so great? The fact that you are rooting both for the heroes and then for the ghost.
Best scene: The blinking sequence in the photography session and the haunting and incredibly creepy ending.
Oh-oh something's not right line: "Jane? You're early"
Morbid trivia: When Tun flees through the staircase, he encounters his former girlfriend's ghost at Level 4. Number 4 is, in several Asian languages, pronounced similar as the word for death or suffering.
Scare factor: 5/5 - This one is as scary as they come I actually had to hide my dvd well after seeing it, 'cause I'm so scared of that movie. Watched it in the afternoon, in a sunny room and I still jumped out of my skin few times.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trick 'r Treat

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(82 min, 2007)
Plot: Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband.
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty
Stars: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox and Dylan Baker

 Tricks are for kids

Halloween, Samhain, Hallow's Eve.
The most magical day of the year when the line between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. Halloween has magnificent traditions that have been cultivated for centuries - dressing up, scaring people and of course - trick or treating. "Trick 'r Treat" not only captures the atmosphere of Halloween but also does the rare trick of being both good horror movie and good comedy.

We get to see all of the most famous traditions - carving of pumpkins, getting dressed in either scary or slutty costumes and giving kids their candy. Since it's a horror movie we also see obligatory guts and blood - it's definitely not a film for the squeamish as it has a maneuver that I previously saw in "Hostel" and to this day it remains one of the worst things I've seen - cutting of one character's Achilles' tendon. There are also scenes that will remaind you of other films - the crawling severed hand brings "Addams family" to mind and the creepy prologue with scarecrows inevitably brought me back to that horrible afternoon I was freaking out while watching "Jeepers Creepers".

One of the best things about the film is the main monster - the spirit of  Halloween incarnated in the form of a child with pumpkin for a head. That spirit ensures that everybody honors Halloween's traditions and if they don't...well, there is a bloody trick coming. There are four separate stories in the movie, each containing fair amount of scares and laughs and just the right level of gore and creepiness. Something that distinguishes "Trick 'R Treat" from other productions is that writer/director Michael Dougherty doesn't abscond from something not many would do - killing children on screen. But as Halloween is the most fun for the kids it's probably the best  and the most effective scare in the movie - I myself would never let my child go trick or treating alone in the evening on the scariest day of the year.

Saturday TV Special: Deadwood

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Plot: A show set in the late 1800's, revolving around the characters of Deadwood, South Dakota; a town of deep corruption and crime.
Structure: Each episode tells another piece of the story - we see individuals coming to Deadwood in search of fortune and gold and those who already settled - plotting to hold the power over town.
Verdict: Although I'm not a big fan of westerns every once in a while production from that genre comes along that is so great I forgot all about it. "Deadwood" is simply addictive and from the first episode it  pulls you in with its complex intrigues, mischievous games and fantastic characters.
What makes it so great? Possibly the most amazing performance in the history of television - by Ian McShane, amazing lines, lots of thrills and humour and colorful supporting characters.
Who you may recognize: Ian McShane, recently seen as Blackbeard in "Pirates of the Carribean - on stranger tides", John Hawkes nominated for Academy Award last year for "Winter's Bone", Brad Dourif, sherif Dearborne from "True Blood" and Keith Carradine, Frank Lundy from "Dexter".
Who's behind it? Writers of "Lost" and "Sons of Anarchy".
Who will like it? Fans of HBO shows, good performances, westerns and fantastic dialogue.
When and where? All three seasons are available on DVD.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Young Victoria

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(105 min, 2009)
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Stars: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend and Paul Bettany 

The girl, the queen.

I'm in love with this movie. So rarely I get to see moving, touching, fascinating depiction of reign. "Golden Age" was a huge disappointment, "Alexander" sucked immensely. The only two recent good films about monarchy that come to my mind are "The Queen" and "Elizabeth". And this one is better than both of those, in style and emotions presented, at least.

From few years UK has one historical drama they push to Oscar race - "Pride and Prejudice", "The Dutchess", "Atonement". This time there is no Keira in the movie. And perhaps this is why I loved it. Each year I give my own oscars and I was almost sure I will reward Tilda Swinton for Julia. But no, the hell I won't. Emily Blunt's performance in this movie is masterful. I love this actress - she was superb in 'The Devil Wears Prada' and the best thing about 'Sunshine Cleaning'. In this film she reminded me a lot of young Kate Winslet, before she started her epic award-baiting - I mean lovely, lively and unforgettable Winslet from 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Titanic'. Blunt's role in this movie is just so...beyond words. She plays the queen, but first of all she plays young woman - lively, filled with energy, frolic, proud and joyful. The scene where Victoria finds out about death of the king and the fact she is now the ruler is amazing - Blunt captures so many emotions in such short scene. The movie is worth seeing just to witness her performance, so peaceful and calm and yet complex and filled with passionate emotions.
I had no idea who was in the supporting cast prior to seeing this movie - it turned out to be very impressive ensemble - Jim Broadbent, Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong, Paul Bettany - great performance - and Rupert Friend, young soldier from 'Boy in striped pyjamas' as prince Albert, Victoria's love interest.

I cannot even express how much I loved seeing a royal couple in love. Usually when we see drama like this the princess always hates her husband and whines for 3/4 of the movie about her fate and usually has passionate, tragic romance with other man. Here the queen and prince were in love and Blunt and Friend had awesome chemistry. I cried like an idiot during the proposal scene.
The score for the movie is beautiful, I have to say in top 5 of that paticuliar year. The costumes are amazing. As for accuracy I believe some things - like Albert getting shot - were made more...spectacular than they really were. But the movie is not only beautiful, it is interesting, funny at times, contains wonderful performances and it holds viewer interest throughout the film. Finally a film, that I will definitely see more than once.

Alice in Wonderland

By s. , , , , , , 1 Comment so far
(108 min, 2010)
Director: Tim Burton

Linda Woolverton (screenplay), Lewis Carroll (books)
Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter

Rescued by rabbits, cats and queens. 

What a disappointment. I've always said "Alice in Wonderland" is a dream material for Burton. Lately it seems that balls are falling off the great directors - first Jackson did "The Lovely Bones", so sweet it made me want tovomit with candies and pink ponies and now this. Burton clearly was not thinking a lot about his own movie or he suffered some major head trauma because his Alice bounces from usual grotesque and morbid scenes to completely childish resolutions and cartoonish, silly sequences. In the effect it is a movie....for nobody. Adults will find it too silly, kids will find it too scary, Burton's fans won't like the art direction which is so tacky and vulgar my eyes were hurting - and since it was in 3D used maybe in 5 scenes, my eyes were REALLY hurting.
There is no atmosphere - nothing is fascinating, everything is just...fake. Jabberwocky was embarrassingly poorly done, the creatures were animated in a very rookie way and the whole thing was just...painful to witness.

Having said that, the dialogues are sublime and the tea party sequence is the most insane and fantastic thing since 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. The entire audience went nuts along with the characters - nobody could comprehend what the characters are talking about and what is going on.

The actors were great too - Rickman made fantastic caterpillar, Michael Sheen was absolutely adorable as the white rabbit - god, I could just hold him and never let go, Depp was fine, but the whole weird romantic tension between Mad Hatter and Alice - Burton was never good in portraying chemistry - even in 'Big Fish' we sorta have to believe the words the characters are saying - we don't see their love, Depp on the other hand never has chemistry with women - maybe this will change next year when we see him alongside Angelina dynamite Jolie in 'The Tourist'. However he is very suggestive and there was something incredibly eerie and disturbing in Alice/Hatter relation. But apart from that his make up is awesome, but by the end of the film...well clearly Disney holds Depp very close to money chest and he will do anything for the studio. That dance reminded me of Slumdog's ending and that's never a good thing. Mia Wasikowski was good as Alice, but there is not a single drop of passion, energy or charisma in that girl. But her looks were ok and she did interesting job.
The best ones in the show are the queens - Red one, played with a lot of force by director's muse and always lovely Helena Bonham Carter and the best one in the whole movie - Anne Hathaway as the white one. She stole the show, she was absolutely fantastic and hilarious. She played crazy vegetarian, not so much walkiing as floating, dealing with disgusting things and showing her disgust but underneath all of that her love and compasion for all things on Earth. She looked incredible and created one of the most memorable characters to appear in Burton's film. I also loved Stephen Fry as the floating, disappearing Cheshire Cat.
The music by the always terrific Danny Elfman is memorable and main theme is very good. The movie is lovely, but it could have been so much more. But the actors...ah, it's a real treat to see their performances here.

The Hours

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(114 min, 2002)
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writers: Michael Cunningham (novel), David Hare (screenplay)
Stars: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore

Hours, days, years, moments, lives.

(spoilers ahead)
“The Hours” is one of the most powerful movies I've seen. But before I get to describe the actual story I want to go through the structure of the film. There are many common motives in the movie – suicide (Laura's attempt, Richard's death, Virginia's final escape), eggs, flowers, books, service people who don't understand their customers (Flower lady who didn't get Richard's book, Virginia's cook who is mean to her, Laura's babysitter friend), kids we can rely on, that somehow make us confess more than we wanted to, devoted partners, on whom we can count on, even if we don't deserve it, moments of total desolation, the release of real feelings when important visitor comes around, the kiss – whether it is long overdue (Clarissa), the dream come true (Laura) or quick impulse and the sign of affection (Virginia).

Three women, each living in different time, different city. But they all have all those things in common. They actually have something in common with all of us – the feeling of despair, of being lost, alone. Solitude. Although they are surrounded by people.

The bravest one of all three is Clarissa. She lives with her partner Sally, she is a publisher, she has a daughter. She also takes care of her friend Richard, who is dying of AIDS. Every single day she is busy, she is in constant motion, running errands, doing housework, working, buying flowers she adores. "Always giving parties to cover the silence". It's her way of coping with the fact her life is running away from her, before her own eyes. And her dream ran away long time ago. She loves Richard and she only had one magical summer with him. After that he left her for Louis. When Louis visits Clarissa, on the occasion of big party she is throwing for Richard few hours later, she breaks down. He was the one, her one and only, and he spent his life with someone else and now she is taking care of him, long after his best years, watching him slip out of consciousness, sanity and life, being reminded every single day that her dream will never come true.
Virginia Woolf is kept in the countryside, for her own good, by her husband. She had deep depression, she tried to commit suicide. She can't find joy in this quiet place and hopes desperately to get back to frenzy and life beaming London. Virginia is working on the book, „Mrs Dolloway” which will make the most literal connection in the plot between three women. Virginia is a rebel, she doesn't except any rules or conventions Her servants mock her and she is scared of them. Being left alone in a peaceful place like that only makes her feel worse – after all, all she has is the time and peace for her thoughts and ideas. Sometimes too much thinking, especially abut dark matters, especially by someone with vivid imagination and great brilliance is the worst possible thing. Her husband who deeply believes he is saving her, by keeping her away from havoc, finally comes to understanding that she will never be happy in the place like that. Her selfishness and his love is perfectibility portrayed in the scene on train station, where Virginia finally understands exactly how much her husband loves her. So much he condemns himself of being alive when she'll be dead, so much he will willingly go through her illness worsening and her condition deteriorating.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time Traveler's Wife

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(107 min, 2009)
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Bruce Joel Rubin (screenplay), Audrey Niffenegger (novel)
Stars: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams and Ron Livingston

You pull me through time

Confusion never stops, closing walls and ticking clocks
Come back and take you home, I could not stop, that you now know
Come out upon my seas, curse missed opportunities (am I),
A part of the cure, or am I part of the disease
You are
And nothing else compares,
Oh no nothing else compares,
And nothing else compares
You are
Home, home, where I wanted to go
- "Clocks", Coldplay

I love romances with a bit of science fiction in them, like Vanilla Sky, Solaris, The Fountain and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. All of those are in my top 25. Why? Well for one, those are exceptional movies. Also - I believe love is a miracle, something that cannot be explained. That kind of magic, deserves more magic around it, hence on screen it conquers death, it conquers science, it conquers time. That is not unusual, love can do all those things. It is the only thing, in fact, that can.
I was very hyped to see this film, the trailer looked incredibly emotional and I take so much sick pleasure in watching romances. The key to the success is to have chemistry between actors - lovely Rachel McAdams and very handsome Eric Bana definitely had a lot of it. Bana is playing a man who travels through time, back and forth, to see the woman he loves. The movie is incredibly bittersweet and has many powerful scenes, I even shed a tear on certain of them and that's a sign of a good love story.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Soundtrack Wednesday - Thin Red Line

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Artist: Hans Zimmer
Song: Journey to the Line
Movie: originally "Thin Red Line" also "Carnivale" and trailer for "Shame"

2nd trailer for Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

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August Rush

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(114 min, 2007)
Director: Kirsten Sheridan
Writers: Nick Castle (screenplay), James V. Hart (screenplay)
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Saccharine sounds

As a romantic, I love heartwarming movies and fairy tales - I believe in soapy stuff like soul mates, destiny, love at first sight - it's rare, but one can't be sure it doesn't happen. But I hate too much sugar and sweetness and there is such thing as too much sentimentality in a film - „August Rush” is an example of the sentimentality and sweet lovey dovey moments in such concentration it will make you nauseous, maybe even sick to the point you fast forward.

The story goes like that – Lyla, violinist and Louis, singer for rock band spend the night together and fall in love. The boy is not right for her according to her dad, so their ways part. But a child is born some time later and because of lies and intrigue Lyla doesn't know it is alive. 11 years later that child uses music to find his parents.

The child, named Evan has a wondrous music gift and can create symphonies out of nowhere – too bad that, except for the last few moments in the movie, those symphonies of his sounded more like irritating noise to me. I never thought I'm going to say that but „The Soloist” puts this movie to shame in this area. And „The Soloist” is an awful movie. Plus the amazing gift to create music subplot doesn't even work here - it's too absurd. When you are watching a movie like this you are supposed to automatically buy the things you see. When I was watching "Perfume" I didn't have to wonder why Grenouille had this amazing gift of hightened scent, I just kept watching the movie without any "but how?". Here not only I couldn't listen to that "music" without cringing, its origin - which basically was, what? God, magic, unicorns and rainbows? - puzzled me throughout the film.


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(96 min, 2009)
Plot: A doctor hires an escort to seduce her husband, whom she suspects of cheating, though unforeseen events put the family in danger.
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writers: Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Anne Fontaine (motion picture "Nathalie")
Stars: Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson


Hairpin fiasco

This movie had a potential but one of the worst casting decisions I've seen blew it. That and in addition implausible script, but sometimes the actors are so good, you try hard not to notice how silly the story really is. However, Amanda Seyfried has managed to screw up so badly, even actors like Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore at their finest cannot rescue „Chloe”.

I have no idea who thought casting Seyfried as exclusive hooker would be a good idea. She doesn't have the looks for it. You know, how the reviewers write things like „an actress of unique beauty” when they don't wanna say someone is far from being beautiful? Yeah, that's the case. She has nice body and very pretty hair, but out of thousands of hookers in the world the idea that this one would actually get clients is just preposterous. Bulging eyes don't make her interesting. But that's not the worst - she acts slutty, she behaves in a vulgar way, common way, without giving viewer a hint of knowledge that she would actually be capable of making a man desire her. She was supposed to be mysterious and fascinating, instead that whole performance is forced and laughable. To call her 'whorish' in this film would be a compliment, I find the word itself to have more class than her performance. When trailer triumphantly says 'and Amanda Seyfried as Chloe” I guess it was supposed to drag all the „Mamma Mia” fans to the theater. Horrible, horrible casting. I mean are we really in such deep crisis that we don't have beautiful young actress? Is Scarlett and Angelina all we got? Amanda should stick to the roles like her work in “Big Love” and “Jennifer's Body”. This is, well, out of her league.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Scene of the Week: Black Swan

By s. Tuesday, October 18, 2011 , 2 Comments
Black Swan
directed by Darren Aronofsky

The scene: After ecstasy fueled evening at the club Nina (Natalie Portman) and Lily (Mila Kunis) get inside the cab - Lily, fun loving girl holds Nina's hand - Nina is a shy ballet dancer who probably never even been in a club prior to that night. The girls exchange glances and then straightforward Lily starts seducing innocent Nina - she stops her and grabs her hand instead after which she keeps holding on to it, finally having someone in her life who brings her joy. The scene ends with Nina looking through the window, with the look of freedom and exhilaration on her face, while bright light hits her face and we get the sense the Black Swan hiding inside her is ready to emerge.

Sex and the City 2

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(146 min, 2010)
Director: Michael Patrick King
Writers: Michael Patrick King, Candace Bushnell (characters from the book by)
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis
Shiny shallow people 
I like the series, I like the first theatrical movie. So I figured, despite alarmingly bad reviews, I will go see the sequel. And thank God, I didn't pay for the ticket on this one. It's as bad as you read.

The movie begins with the most flamboyant wedding I've seen – there are swans there, freaking boy choir, even Liza Minelli. The beginning was rather bad, but then movie started progressing towards fun – there were few funny jokes by, as usual the most hilarious in the cast Kim Cattrall, the plot was not insanely stupid (at least at that point) and even Penelope Cruz made an appearance. But when the gals go to Abu that was just bad on so many levels – I''m gonna pretend I didn't see all the potentially offensive jokes and stereotypes used in the movie. The series was always rather outrageous and used vivid and courageous wording, but this time they went too far. I can laugh at distasteful joke as long as it's funny. Here the jokes are not funny – they are just vulgar and disgusting. And movie becomes more stupid with each second – the high point being Islamic women wearing Louis Vatton under their black clothes.

There isn't much of the 'sex' in 'Sex in the City 2” unless what is considered sex are extreme shots of erect penises (I'm all for it, but they went too far) or boring humping on the hood of the car. Sex is supposed to be passionate, sensual or at least hot. Apart from the brief appearance by Mrs Cruz nothing in this movie was hot. And keep in mind I don't find Penelope particularity breathtaking in the first place.

(500) Days of Summer

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(95 min, 2009)
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Geoffrey Arend

I want the one I can't have

"I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's written all over my face"
- The Smiths, "I want the one I can't have"

Meet Tom. He writes catchy phrases for postcards, he likes the Smiths, he is a romantic.

Meet Summer. She's individualistic, independent. She never wants to get married and she doesn't believe in true, romantic love.

500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy, told in nonlinear narrative structure, jumping between 1st and 500th day of Tom and Summer's relationship. There is one thing that will kill every movie, especially romantic comedy - lack of chemistry. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are a terrible match when it comes to personality and on screen presence. But it's not their fault - Zooey is like a separate entity - she is in the movie, but she is never a part of it. Sure, her character was supposed to be independent, but in the light of Summer's final choice, casting Deschanel was a big mistake. Zooey is a wonderful person but she is a terrible actress - I don't know if I can even call her that - her characters are exactly like her. Had I not made mistake of watching interviews with her I wouldn't know that. I never saw a single interview with her sister Emily (who plays doctor Temperance Brennan in well known show Bones) and I still regard Emily as a good actress. But Zooey is always the same, the only two times that I may, just may, admit she tried something new was in “Winter Passing” and “The Assassination of Jesse James..” but her performance there was very brief – I still hope we will get to see more of her in rumored Director Cut of that film, which is almost holding a legendary status, since only few saw it and no one knows if it's ever going to be released.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jane Eyre

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(120 min, 2011)
Plot: A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he's hiding a terrible secret.
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Writers: Charlotte Brontë (novel), Moira Buffini (screenplay)
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell

Redemption through love

"Listen to me. Listen. I could bend you with my finger and my thumb. A mere reed you feel in my hands. But whatever I do with this cage, I cannot get at you, and it is your soul that I want. Why can't you come of your own free will?" 

At least once  a year the British release cinematic gem in the world - this year it's "Jane Eyre". Brand new version of Charlotte Bronte's novel delivers not only beautiful cinematography and fantastic acting but also this unique brand of magic - subtle, delicate, yet at the same time dark and profoundly mysterious.
Having seen four parts of BBC's series based on the book the only thing that felt underwhelming was the feeling that ties Rochester and Jane. It felt a bit rushed, yet it works if you suspend your belief for a moment and try to put yourself in characters' shoes. Rochester never met anyone like Jane before and Jane was never treated that kindly and as an equal. First they form the partnership, mutual respect and at the same time - mostly thanks to Fassbender's magnetism - sparks fly out between them. You can feel Jane's agony when she is forced to leave him to save herself.

Screaming Sunday: The Descent

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Plot: A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.
The heroes: Or in this case heroines - group of young women, not very annoying, some of them likable, some of them a t least interesting. All in all, for a modern horror movie - it's very good, you root for them to survive and that says something. Most of the heroines in modern horror films are so dumb you want to see them slaughtered. But apart from questioning the logic of getting in remote cave voluntarily, the girls actually put up a fight to survive.
The antagonists: Crawlers, blind creatures living in the caves hungry for human flesh.
What makes it so great? The strong characters, amazing ambiance and the fact that whole story is left to your interpretation.
Best scene: Already quite famous - infra red vision and first creature behind one of the girls.
Oh-oh something's not right line: "Hey, there's something down here..."
Morbid trivia: According to the audio commentary on the special edition DVD, there was a exact replica made of Nora-Jane Noone and after the movie was finished, she got to keep the head of the doll and put it in her mother's freezer as a joke.
Scare factor: 4/5 - You're definitely gonna need to turn on the lights for this one.
Gore factor: 5/5 - Very heavy, very disgusting and quite imaginative I may add. Best example? Eating intestines out of alive person.
Is there a twist? Yep, a good one too.
Hint: Watch the uncut version with far superior ending.
Unsuitable for: People with claustrophobia.
Repercussions: You will never ever be able to enter any cave again.