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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino's (Pulp Fiction) take on the popular martial arts vengeance theme. A woman about to get married was attacked inside the church by a group hired by her former lover, killing her groom, all the guests and rendering her coma for several months. When she woke up the first thing she intended to do was to kill Bill and his team of assassins.

Gory, gruesome and extremely violent, this film caters to those who want fast-paced and stunning swordfights. Excellent use of music and fantastic animation, beautiful cinematography and cutting-edge editing technique makes this first installment a film to watch for.

Cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and David Carradine
Director: Quentin Tarantino.

Watch out this gal can kill!

Moulin Rouge

'The greatest thing you'll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.'

Call it what you will: post-modern musical, bohemian pastiche, new age technoclassic, whatever. This movie is sure to knock you out of your stupor and make you...yes! fall in love again. With astonishing performances from Nicole "She Can Really Sing" Kidman (As the Sparkling Diamond Nadine) and Ewan "The Singing Obi Wan Kenobi" McGregor (As the Penniless Poet Christian), the Moulin Rouge has enough grit and glam to make you laugh and love and cry.

Wonderful remakes of Material Girl, Your Song, Lady Marmalade, Come What May and other songs plus artsy-fartsy turn-of-the-century special effects make this film something to dye to your hair for.

Voted in 2001 as the Best Hollywood Movie of the Year and earning for Kidman an acting trophy denied by the Oscars and for McGregor the same plum (and snobbery from the Academy Awards.)

Directed by: Baz Luhrmann (Strictly Ballroom, 1992 and Romeo+Juliet, 1996).

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sky High

What are you gonna do? Your mom and dad are the two greatest superheroes the world has known and you're entering a prestigious highly-elite high school for the gifted and you find out that you have no superpowers whatsoever. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is exactly in this tight spot when he enters the Sky High. Being the only son of Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russel) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), expectations run high while the school bullies are watching his butt hoping he commits a blunder. Will gets entangled with Warren Peace (Steven Strait) a fire-throwing upperclassman whose dad was a supervillain that the Commander had imprisoned. Meanwhile his friendship with Layla (a plant-growing mutant) gets sour while he sorts out the best possible way to tell his parents that he is not a super like them. The Commander gets even more disheartened when he finds out that his son has been lumped together with the Sidekicks or Hero Support.

But as his name suggests, Will has more strength in his will than in his muscles and accepts his destiny. He teams up and befriends other school "losers" and together they take on a battle that makes them truly worth the name Superheroes (and Heroines!). Although this movie comes dangerously close to copy-catting the Hogwarts of Harry Potter and the cuteness of the Incredibles, it gets away with some touch of originality and human element in its plot. Acceptance of oneself, whether you are a super or not, is one of the redeeming values of this film. It's not the power that make you a super hero, its your attitude that does make you one, as Will didactically states in one scene.

All in all, this movie is fun to watch, especially during rainy days when you have nothing else to do.

Released: 2005.
Cast: Michael Angarano, Kurt Russel, Kelly Preston, Lynda Carter, Danielle Panabaker
Directed by: Mike Mitchell

Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl

A swashbuckling action-packed fantasy adventure for the whole family to watch and enjoy. This film which was released by Disney Pictures in 2003 earned for Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow) an Oscar nomination for best performance by an actor. Set in the 17th century featuring pirates of the high seas cursed by a plague that makes them immortal and yet incapable of feeling anything or enjoying life's pleasure, this movie is sure to thrill people of ages from 1 to 101.

Supported by awesome performances of Orlando Bloom who played the true-blue pirate heir Will Hunter (The Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven) and Keira Knightly as the British femme fatale Elizabeth, Pirates soars with non-stop action and surprises. Geoffrey Rush (Shine) as the head of the brigand pirates (redundant?) who sailed the cursed ship the Black Pearl and Jonathan Pryce (Evita, Tomorrow Never Dies) complimented the act.

Amazing swordfights, stunts and eye-popping special effects make this movie an unforgettable experience to relive again and again.

Distributor: Disney Pictures
Released: 2003
Actors: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Joseph Pryce
Director: Gore Verbinski

out of five

Bring in the whole family!

Friday, August 26, 2005


Full Title: Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain
Country: France
Language: French with English subtitles
Date Released: 2001
Academy Award Nominations: 5
Director: Jean Pierre-Jeunet (Delicatessen and A Very Long Engagement)
Actors: Mattieu Kazovitz and Audrey Tatou (A Very Long Engagement, Pretty Little Hands, The Da Vinci Code)

Amelie is one-of-a-kind film that tugs at your heart while it makes you laugh. From the very first scene down to the last, Amelie promises to be a different kind of a foreign language film. The French, as you know, are very famous for their depressing and shocking films. This one will really make you laugh and without you noticing it, draw a few rivulets of tears from you.

It has a fantastic plot and very surprising twist and ending. Audrey Tatou is a rare gem with her dead-pan, in-your-face humor and believable acting finesse. Editing and musical score
together with the special effects will sweep you off your feet while the story will rock to wakefulness as it is fast-paced (unlike most French films, by the way), unconventional and masterful.

At the core of the story was the simple wish of the young woman Amelie to do something good to humanity (at all cost) and the sacrifices she was ready to face to make people realize that after all the misery and drudgery there is in the world, it is still, basically a beautiful life. Now compare this film to Gaspar Noe's nihilistic film In the Bowels of France, I Stand Alone and you know what I mean.

And to top it all, in this film, it's a happy ending. What more can you ask for?

out of five

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Shawshank Redemption

I was still in high school when I saw this truly magnificent film. It's so mesmerizing that I have even memorized some of the lines spoken in the movie. With a haunting musical score and flawless narration by Morgan Freeman, this film was edged out of the Oscars only by Forrest Gump.

The Shawshank Redemption was an adaptation of Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. It chronicled the life story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a bank executive, who was wrongfully accused of murdering his wife and her lover. Serving almost two decades at the Shawshank facility for hardened criminals and outlaws, Andy earned the respect and admiration of his fellow inmates and his jailguards and even the ruthless warden by his incurably optimistic attitude towards life and his ominous silence and endurance of sufferings.

He made numerous friends, as well as enemies inside but his greatest contribution was "setting free" every man in Shawshank including their jailers. In a poignant scene in the movie, where Andy put a microphone on the phonograph, he earned a month's detention. Nevertheless, as Red (Morgan Freeman) put it:

"We never knew what those two Italian women were singing. But we all know, that for the brieftest of moment, everyman in Shawshank, was free."

And when Andy made his great escape from the prison, everyone felt happy but at the same time sad. Red said:

"Some birds are not meant to be kept because their feathers are too bright. Yet when they leave, something in you dies... Sometimes something's too painful that they cannot be expressed in words and that is why it makes our hearts ache."

Released in 1994.
Directed by: Frank Darabont.
Actors: Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman

Cinema Paradiso

I've watched this film more than eight times and eight times I cried. This is truly cinema at its best: a celebration of human spirit, love, friendship and sacrifice. Two thumbs up for Giuseppe Tornatore and Philippe Noiret.

This movie chronicles the lives of two friends (the young Toto and the middle-aged Alfredo), their love for movies, their passion for making people happy and their sad and poignant love affairs.

The movie is full of wit and lyricism. It doubles as a social critique and a keen observer of human behavior. But the over all triumph of the movie is the raw depiction of the deepest human emotions when confronted by war and circumstances.

"Life is not like the movies," says Alfredo and he is correct because in this movie, movies themselves are Life.

out of five

You really have to watch this one!!!

Country: Italy/France
Released in 1988.
Cast: Philippe Noiret, Salvatore Cascio, Marco Leonardi, Jacques Perrin, Antonella Attili, Pupella Maggio, Agnese Nano, Leopoldo Trieste
Music: Ennio Moriconne
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

Children of Heaven

A deceptively simple film about siblings Ali and Zarah who shared a pair of sneakers inorder not to burden their poor parents about buying them new shoes. Ali promised Zarah that he would win third place in an inter-school marathon contest so he could give to Zarah the consolation prize of a new pair of sneakers.

Meanwhile, the siblings found out who "stole" Zarah's shoes and they followed her to her home. They soon found out that she was poorer than they were sho they decided to let the matter go. When leaving school Zarah had to run fast to let Ali use his shoes in time for his own class.

The movie is full of snippets of bravery, self-sacrifice, generosity and magnanimity. Flawless imagery and fine acting give the film its added plum. And the fact that this film is from a non-Christian perspective makes it even more interesting.

Director: Majid Majidi
Actors: Amir Farokh Hashiman, Bahare Seddiqi
Country: Iran

out of five

A total knock-out!!!