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2nd-Dec-2010 07:04 am - Review of "Umberto D.", "Female"

Umberto D. (De Sica, 1952)

An old person is having a bad time. That's all this movie is about basically. Umberto is in retirement and the pension he gets is less than he can live by. Film starts by showing old people protesting demanding higher pension, but it being broken apart by the government. It's just the start of Umbreto's failed attempts at trying to improve his life.

He's being threatened by eviction by his bitchy landlady, even though he has lived in the same place for 20 years, it seems the landlady has no sympathy for his inability to pay his rent on time. He sells his assets one by one, but still unable to get the money he needs. He knows that if he just gets the rent money, by law, the landlady cannot evict him. To a man who has lived in the same place for two decades, being forced to leave it is not just a matter of changing rooms, but a failure. It is the old man's last grasp on his dignity.

In his life, there is nothing left, aside from that one final attachment. That and his dog, a pet that he is brother, son, and friend to him.

I get what the film is going for. A realistic look at the life of a pensioner on hard times, but it never really grabs me the way it is supposed to. Maybe I just don't give a fuck about old people? Or maybe the fact that Umbreto is old and having a hard time is not enough for me to care. Being realistic is never enough for me. It needs to be realistic and watchable. Life just is, but film has to put an effort in.


Female [Fîmeiru] (Various, 2005)

Anthology films are not my favorite things in the world. It usually just does not work very well, but when you have one of your favorite directors contributing to it, you can't just ignore it.

The director in point is Japanese crazy man cyberpunk director Shinya Tsukamoto, he of "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" fame. Well, cult fame. I have a massive hard-on for his body of work. Looking through his newer outputs, one of his works was making a short film part of "Female" anthology. So, seek it out, I did.

The series of short films are based on stories by Japanese female authors concerned mainly about women.

Peaches: First story has a twenty-something women going back to her hometown to visit the funeral of one of her teachers. While there, she reminisces about the affair she had with her school teacher when she was 14 years old. Mostly it has the girl eating a peach in a very sexual manner. 2/5

Drive Until you See the Sun: Road movie. An elderly prostitute gets in a taxi and is suddenly threatened by a hiding young punkish girl with a knife, asking for money. The driver is also a woman, so the story is about the three women's lives as they argue and shit. 3/5

Licking Nights: A woman takes some kind of pill to have sexual dreams about one of her coworkers. Basically, that's it, but I guess, sexual dreams are good. 3/5

Heels of the Muse: The only real good film of the lot. A young boy is friends with a young girl, so they go to her house to study, but he is in awe of the girl's beautiful mother. The mother eventually notices and seems to relish in the attention. 4/5

Jewel Beetle: And finally, I come to the film by the director that I watched this collection in the first place. And unfortunately, not very impressed. Nice visual tricks, but story did not grab me like it should have. 2/5

The film is wrapped by two small segments, which is basically a music video of dancing women. I've seen better in actual music videos from any country.


The Descent: Part 2 (Harris, 2009)

I viewed “Descent 2” with low expectations. While the first one is a horror classic (or should be), the sequel had a new director involved, and was not even a kind of horror that really works as a franchise.

First one worked really well because of the setting and the pacing. It put several women in a cave and that itself was atmospheric because it felt suffocating, maneuvering in tight spaces. And then halfway through the movie, it added weird creatures, so you went from bad to worse.

In the sequel, they try to repeat the same idea. Put new characters in the same cave and have them get attacked by the creatures, but it feels familiar and does not give you the same suspense. Almost like someone reading the plot of the first movie and trying to recapture it without knowing exactly why the first one succeeded.


(McDonald, 2008)

At first it seemed like it could be a great movie. Set inside a radio station with only three characters. The DJ is hosting a late night show. It’s a small town radio show and the content is not really that exciting. Things start changing when they get reports in with some strange happenings in the small town. Riots, people dying, the army getting involved, but no official news. It seems there is some kind of outbreak going on in the town and we, as the audience, only have the radio station point of view.

This is an excellent twist on the zombie/outbreak genre. We’re always smack in the middle of the action, but what would it feel like to be stuck in a radio station, getting calls, and trying to communicate it to the people?

But this is a Canadian film and Canadian films are generally not that good. So they can’t really handle that premise very well and eventually it starts sucking. The people seem to get infected by…words. That is, if they understand a certain concept, they get infected, and I soon realize that it is a message movie, probably about how information can affect people’s mindsets and manipulate them into violence, such as religion or war. Soon, the movie starts sucking, because the people do not seem to be acting realistic. I like the zombie genre because it is supposed to have people reacting realistically in an unrealistic situation. “Pontypool” has people acting unrealistically in an unrealistic situation, which kills the mood for me.


Ruling Class
(Medak, 1972)

Some sort of satire on the British upper class, which is probably what the 70s was all about anyway. The middle class mocking the upper class.

The Early of Gurney dies an accidental death caused by some kind of weird sexual satisfaction act, probably the films way of showing how kinky the upper class is in the privacy of their own rooms in contrast to the show they put on for the public.

After the death of the Earl, he is to be replaced by his son, Jack Gurney, who has been away. The family is in a state of confusion as how the inheritance will be dealt with. But then Jack returns (we learn from a mental institute) looking like Jesus Christ and acting like God, talking of love and peace, and all that, which troubles the royal class. Halfway through the film, there is a change in Jack’s style. The family has manipulated him to father a child and now they want to prove he is legally insane so that he will be committed, which will have the state belong to the child and this means it will give the family temporary control over everything. But to prove he is sane, Jack changes. He cuts his hair, changes the way he dresses, and stops talking about love and instead gives speeches on preserving the tradition of Britain and advocating hate and violence. This makes him normal and well liked.

So, we get it. The movie shows us that peace and love is considered insane by the royal class while and hate is considered sane. That’s the message in this 2.5 hour movie.


Supernatural [Season 1-5] (CW, 2005-2009)

When I first watched "Supernatural", it was something to do while doing other things. My sister was watching it so I got it off her, looking for a show that I can watch in the background.

At first, "Supernatural" was a what "X-Files" would be if it was targeted for young girls. Two brothers hunt monsters every week. But not just any two brothers, but two handsome but different brothers to appeal to the demographics' likes. Dean is a wild boy who's good with girls, is not very smart, and likes food (think Joey from "Friends"), but is actually using all that as a cover to hide his sensitive inner being, a personality trait that will probably make the girl's melt. The other brother, Sam, is more emotional, sensitive, smart, and charmingly boyish, appealing to another set of girls. And their close brother love with all the sibling drama and end of the episode heart-to-heart talk is just not something I'm fond of. The story-line of the first season is that they are in the search of their father, who is also a hunter like them, but has disappeared, but the storyline is not addressed that much, as it is mainly about going from town to town and killing supernatural beings while looking handsome and dramatic.

Season 2 starts to get things rolling as things seem to get more serious. The biggest obstacle here for me was realizing the show is not as shitty as I thought it was.

But it is with Season 3 that things really get good. The stakes are getting higher with each episode. The brothers are having a more well-defined personality and the dramatic conflicts between them start making sense. Sam starts getting darker as he toys with certain dark supernatural powers (for good, he argues, but that's how it always starts, right?) while Dean tries to desperately protect his smaller brother. From Season 1, the story is always about demons as the main enemy, but as the show progresses, the enemy and the situation becomes bigger. It starts off as finding their father and killing the demon that was responsible for the murder of their brother when they were children, but soon that seems nothing with the way things go from bad to worse. By the time, you reach Season 4 and 5, it's not about two brothers out to find their father, but two brothers facing the end of the world, filled with plots involving angels and demons. I've always been fascinated with the Abrahamic religion stories, so it is fun seeing the ideas and characters being presented in a modern format.

Fans of the earlier episodes did not like that the show moved away from the monster-of-the-week silly episodes, but for someone like me who likes the idea of Michael fighting Lucifer, Gabriel being a dick, God not caring that much, fallen angels, new prophets, demons changing sides, and so on, it's a lot of fun.

The story sort of wraps around in Season 5. While there is a Season 6, I sort of consider Season 5 a nice little end to the show, because the creator seems to have considered it as the end to his story. I haven't watched Season 6 yet, but it does seem to have a different person in charge of the show and it does seem to be mainly done for contractual purposes, so I don't have much high hopes for it. But the show from Season 2 to 5 (best being 3-4) were fantastic.


Community [Season 1] (NBC, 2010)

Show is getting a lot of positive feedback but you wouldn't know it from the first few episodes. You think, what's the big deal? It's so typical.

But then, like some of the best comedy shows, something clicks, and it becomes fantastic. The series is about a community college where a diverse group of people have a Spanish study group. This group consists of very different variety of people, a cocky ex-lawyer, an independent feminist kind of woman, a black divorced housewife, a young hardworking younger student, a black ex-football player, an old man, and an Arab. And in the first few episodes, these characters are exactly like how I described them, but eventually they all become likable, so when you are watching them, you realize you LIKE watching them because you LIKE them. Which is

And the later episodes each have a distinct feel to it, as they copy film genres. Abed (the arab character) is a film buff and he is usually commenting as if he is watching a film, so this meta-style fun to watch, it's not breaking the fourth wall, because Abed isn't talking to us, he just sees everything as TV (I totally understand).

Needs a bit of patience, but it does become really good.


Lisztomania (Russell, 1975)

The movie is based on  the life of 19th century composer called Franz Liszt.

Loosely based.

Extremely loosely based, unless there was ever a time where Liszt's daughter had a voodoo doll of him which she could put pins in to hurt him and the daughter was in love with Richard Wagner, the revolutionary German composer, who had vampire teeth and sucked on Liszt…energy?...and had little nazi soldier and was trying to create the ultimate soldier and turns into a Frankenstein Hitler with a guitar that is also a machine gun.

Well, it's Ken Russell directing, so what do you expect?

The title is interesting, because it was a phenomena back in the 19 century. Women reacted widely to Liszt's concerts, shouting and fainting, so basically he might have been the first pop star. From Wikipedia, " Lisztomania was characterized by a hysterical reaction to Liszt and his concerts.[3][2] Liszt's playing was reported to raise the mood of the audience to a level of mystical ecstasy.[3] Admirers of Liszt would swarm over him, fighting over his handkerchiefs and gloves.[3] Fans would wear his portrait on brooches and cameos.[2][4] Women would try to get locks of his hair, and whenever he broke a piano string, admirers would try to obtain it in order to make a bracelet.[4] Some female admirers would even carry glass phials into which they poured his coffee dregs".

Russell takes this idea and makes a weird movie out of it. He casts Roger Daltrey as the handsome, lion-haired, almost always bare chest Franz Liszt. The movie is very surreal but surreal in Russell's own extremely fun way. In one scene, Liszt gets a big boner, his penis bigger than his whole body, and that musical sequence is very enjoyable to watch (not that I enjoy watching huge penises…)!

Like a lot of Russel's movies, I don't enjoy it that much, but at least I'm happy knowing that I've watched it.


Get Him to the Greek (Stoller, 2010)

Anything that Judd Apatow touches feels like a Apatow film. Even if he is neither the director or the writer. Does he choose films and scripts that appeal to his style or does have such a direct influence on the films? Maybe the people involved just try to appease him by copying his style.

"Get Him to the Greek" has the main ingredients by now. Platonic love between men, mixture of gross-out human with some sprinkles of dick-flick drama, and finally characters that feel like nice enough people.

This time,  the hetrocouple is fat, nerdy music industry guy, Aaron (Jonah Hill), with Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), a has-been, drug-addicted rock star. The plan is to have a comeback anniversary concert with Aldous Snow, and it's up  to Aaron to make sure he gets there on time and stay out of trouble. Through the journey, they will face many high jinks, but they will find that bro love is the backbone of a modern society and solves all world problems. Or something like that.


Date Night
(Levy, 2010)

I will admit that the movie was sweet, but not really that funny. Both Steve Carell and Tina Fey are good comedians, but they are more of TV show comedians than film comedians. They don’t bring anything exceptional to the table, the way I would have imagined they would, given that I’m speaking as a fan of them.

Both Fay and Carell usually do an exceptional job if the lines written for then are very good, but in “Date Night”, there is only a few scenes where they really shine. When the movie turns into an action comedy, with the married couple they play are on the fun from bad guys, it does not work that well. They aren’t really physical comedians, so I don’t see them bringing much to the table in a action-comedy sequence.

Likable actors playing likable characters in a likable movie. Just nothing more than that.

30th-Oct-2010 09:42 pm - Mehrnoosh - Cheshmat
The Iranian music that you usually watch on Iranian Music Channels suck balls, because it is usually shitty boy bands, pop rap, or 60 year old has-beens weather leather jackets. The underground scene is great, but usually they don't have enough audience or pull to get on Iranian music channels.

The song "Chesmat" is sort of an exception. It's so adorable!

Video on Youtube

Its one of those rare pop songs that makes me happy when I hear it like The Turtle's Happy Together and Left Banke's Pretty Ballerina.
26th-Oct-2010 09:14 am - And So On.

I never feel too comfortable writing about my personal life in too much detail at LJ (real men bottle up their feelings until they die of a heart attack).

But to summarize,

1) People lie.

2) Emotions suck balls.

Thank you and good day.


25th-Oct-2010 03:27 pm - Game Review of "Mirror's Edge"

Mirror's Edge (Xbox 360, 2008)

Two surprises.

Surprise 1. That I even play this game.

Surprise 2. That I actually kind of liked it

Reasons for Surprise 1.  Whenever I play a FPS, I hated the platform parts. I hate jumping on ledges, jumping of ledges, climbing up, climbing down, and jumping again, almost all the time missing the edge and falling into oblivion. I didn't mind it in 2D games, but my brain is too old for 3D platform parts. Never a fan of "Tomb Raider" either. I liked my 3D bloody, more bullets than jumping. And most FPS games I play have a shit load of shooting and killing and a little bit of platforming. "Mirror's Edge" is the opposite. Mostly platform and just a bit of shooting. Playing it would be, for me, like playing a Mario game where 90% of the game is Mario swimming in the water and 10% on land…I hate swimming parts in a 2D  game so…much…

But I liked the game!

Reasons for Surprise 2.  Not sure exactly. The plot is bad. This isn't the age of Pacman anymore, video game plots have, if not great, been decent and at least entertaining, "Mirror's Egde" is awful. The shooting parts of the game is also terrible. But the rest of the movie is good. I never knew I'd like a game where I'm constantly jumping from one place to another. It's done in parkour style, so the best parts of the game is when something is after you, like soldiers or a helicopter, and the music technos up, and you glide, jump, slide, and use your environment to get from one point to another at the fastest way.

The game would have been better if they could sort out their plot and remove the combat part. I liked running and jumping, I didn't want to break the momentum by trying to fight. I played a large part of the game by not killing anyone and just disarming them, but during the later parts of the game, it became very difficult to continue doing that. Maybe some work visually too. The outside world was nice and bright, but inside buildings it was dull, and everywhere was EMPTY. I don't mind rooftops being empty as you jump from one roof to another,  but it would have been cool if the offices and buildings had people in them. I would have liked to run through them, being shot at, while being trying to maneuver out of there!

16th-Oct-2010 03:44 pm - Review of "Sauna", "M"

Sauna (Annila, 2008)

Don't you love it when you watch something and it raises a point, and you read on it, and learn something new?

"Sauna" is set in the 16th century, the end of a 25 year old war between Sweden and Russian. The first thing I thought about was, wait, Russians and the Swedes had a 25 year old war? The Swedes?? But they seem so nice! Well, according to my dear old friend Mr Wik P. Dia, there seems to have been several Russo-Swedish Wars, starting on and off from before the 10th century up to the 19th century! Apparently, in the 15th Century War, the Russian Tzar and Swedish King didn't like each other with the Tzar writing to the King, "Ask your merchants and they will tell you that Novgorod's suburbs are larger than your Stockholm and that Novgorod's governors are descended from sovereign rulers of great empires, whereas your parents sold oxen at a market several decades ago."

Dude, burn.

Anyway, this historical lesson does not have much to do with the movie, but I thought it was more interesting than the film itself. The film has both sides sending their representatives to map the land between the two territories and agree on the borders. Our film's side is the two Swedish brothers, one a bloodthirsty soldier and another his younger, inexperienced, educated brother. Before their border tracking quest with the Russians, the older brother kills a man and leaves his daughter locked in a basement to die, an vicious act against them when he suspects them of supporting the Russians. The younger brother, feeling guilty, sees the ghost of the daughter following him.

To make matters more strange for them, they come across a strange building in the middle of a swamp, later claimed to be an ancient sauna. And near that, is a village, which the Russians and the Swedes have to decide to which country they will belong to.

All of this, in a spooky atmosphere and here the movie does good, the feeling of it all. But the movie is an art film disguised as a horror film and a BAD art film at that. The plot has more questions than answers, but it asks so many questions that after a while, you don't care about looking for answers. I don't want a movie to spoon-feed me, but I want it to show me a path or at least, make me care to  try to look for an answer. If it just dumps textbooks of questions in front of me and leaves home to wank, don't expect me to put in much effort.


M (1931, Lang)

Sometimes an old movie surprises you, not because of how good it is, but how good it is and does not feel outdated at all! I'm a critical guy, while I appreciated a movie having done something first, it does not necessarily mean I will enjoy it.  "M" is an old film. It was released in 1931, which is one of those dates that I need to think about it to really realize how far back it is. 1931! I wasn't born, my father wasn't born, and I think even my grandfather wasn't born! And the world's first serial killer movie (I think, it might be one of those well-established but wrong information) from before World War 2 is not only fantastic but fresh.

In Germany, children are disappearing. A man seems to be kidnapping, raping, and killing them. The people are in a panic. Unlike most clichéd serial killers that came since this film, "M" stays fresh and unique becauseit doesn't resort to the clichés before there even was clichés! It is not Serial Killer Vs the Policeman About to Retire, or Ex-Policeman Called in the Job, or Journalist, the Father of a Kidnapped Child. In "M" it is not about individuals, but about society. It's Serial Killer Vs People. The panic affects everywhere. The woman whose child does not come home, or the older men discussing it over drinks, or the police, or even the small time criminals.

And when faced with a situation that they don't understand and can't resolve, panic turns into hysteria. Any man talking to a young girl is accused, fights break out as people suspect each other, and the police under pressure but unable to find any leads.

And suddenly we get the first scene with the serial killer. Looking at a mirror, he uses his fingers to pull at his lips. A smile, on his baby-faced expression. The world is going mad due to him and here he is, trying on a smile. Later on, he gives one of the best monologues ever made by a serial killer character. Passionate, angry, frightened, frightening, he tries to convince his audience that he kills, not because he wants to, but because he MUST. "Who knows what it's like to be me? How I'm forced to act... how I must, must... don't want to, must! Don't want to, but must!"

11th-Oct-2010 09:10 pm - Review of "Fallen", "Birdcage Inn"

Fallen [Krisana] (Kelemen, 2005)

Man sees woman on a bridge. Passes her by, hears a splash sound, calls the police. Spends rest of the movie doing nothing, the movie showing nothing, me watching it and doing nothing, and somewhere in that mass of nothingness, the man occasionally investigates the woman's life because he's a loser and does not have anything better to do.

Movie is in black and white, OF COURSE. Also, the kind of movie where when the character moves off-camera, the scene doesn't quickly change. No, we look at the scene for a few extra seconds. These extra seconds all slowly pile up until instead of watching the movie, your eyes is on the DVD display, calculating how much time is left in the movie and wondering how come the time display says only 00:55:13 when six hours ago it was 00:52:56.


Birdcage Inn [Paran daemun] (Kim, 1998)

Prostitutes in films are usually such gentle souls. If more of them were like In Real Life, I'd have so many hooker girlfriends. In "Birdcage Inn", a young girl moves in a small motel resort own by a poor family. The motel barely has a few rooms and the young girl, Jin-a, will be the resident prostitute, probably there is some profit-sharing business scheme, but it was never discussed in detail (which it was, prostitution business intrigues me!).

Jin-a has probably the saddest looking eyes I have ever seen in a movie prostitute. She always looks on the verge of tears (and she cries lots of times during the movie) and her eyebrows are constantly like this - /o_o\ hmm that emoticon doesn't look the way I wanted it to appear.

Anyway, the interesting thing about the movie is the interaction between Jin-a and the family. The family consists of an older couple and a young teenage soon and an older daughter that is twenty, the same age as Jin-a. They have lunch and dinner together and the family treats the prostitute as their daughter, not necessarily out of any special love for the girl, but because this is their business and they have been doing it for decades and they are not judgmental and the motel prostitute is probably to them somewhat like a family. Well, the daughter doesn't like her, she lashes out against her due to her own repressed sexuality.

There are some things that are a bit clichéd, like the mean pimp that abuses her, but the most powerful aspects to me are the views on sexuality and the way the characters react towards Jin-a. The father is a quiet, gentle, but a tough man, that protects her from abusive clients and stands up for her lots of times. But in a particular scene, he can't control himself and particularly rapes her. The situation is damaging to all the characters involved, but this is the only kind of life they know and they have to deal with the best they can.


The Way We Are [Tin shui wai dik yat yu ye] (Hui, 2008)

This slice of life film is so, well, slice of life, that I don't know why I should watch it. This is the life of a single mother (husband died) and her teenage son. Somewhere in the movie, the mother befriends an aging neighbor.

And what happens?

Well, not much really. It's like stepping in some sort of weird portal and coming out as an observer in some random person's life. You watch for a while and then leave. The title is honest, because it's just the way they are. Most attempts at movie conflicts or sentimental crowd-pleasing moments are ignored. The director at times seem to get close to those moments and then just drive nonchalantly away. Just the way it is.

The teenage boy does not have any arguments with his mother, doesn't get into fights at school, doesn't fall in love. He goes to his friends house, talks to his female cousin, meets with girl from his church, and visits his grandmother in the hospital, but none of these scenes provide anything more than a glance at his life. The same with the mother.

I supposed, one could argue that not all movies should have cheap thrills, but I say, then it should be replaced with at least something. Normal is not interesting.


Address Unknown [Suchwiin bulmyeong] (Kim, 2001)

This is somewhere in South Korea. It's a remote area with a US Base Camp nearby.

The characters are as follows.

Woman living in a abandoned US army bus. Years ago she had a relationship with a black US soldier who has gone away now, but who gave her a son. Every day the woman writes letters to her ex-boyfriend, but she does not known the address, and it keeps coming back. To the folks in the area, she talks in English, refusing to speak in Korean, causing conflicts when no one understands her. Her son seems to be in his early twenties, a dark skinned South Korea, brooding and angry, and lashes out at his mother, his anger at being an bastard son of a doomed, inter-racial relationship and a mother that refuses to let go off the past. This man works for his mother's current boyfriend, a dog butcher. Their job is to find or buy dogs, tie a noose around their head, hang them, and then beat it to death with a bat (why? Does it tenderize the meat?). They then sell the meat.

Next set. Teenage girl with one bad eye. Long time  back, her brother made a homemade gun and plays with her. The gun goes off, blinding her in one eye. She lets her hair fall on her bad eye, ashamed and embarrassed at it. She lives without a father, who is said to have died in the Korean war. She seems silent, angry, and lonely. At night, she has the puppy go under her dress, between her legs, while she moans.

Through the window, a teenage boy spies on her, feelings of lust and love overwhelming him. He is shy, meek, and is the son of a proud ex-soldier, who constantly brags about the three communists he has killed. On each payday, he is bullied by two younger boys, who takes his money and mock him by showing how their English is better than his.

They are angry, desperate, lonely people. Their lives and minds wrapped by the shadows of the War and the US Army Camp, who they have a strange relationship with. They bought respect and hate the Americans. They learn English but hate themselves for learning it. They are scared of them and do what they say, and again, the hate is self-inflicted.

"Address Unknown" is a world of damaged people in a damaged world and Ki-duk Kim has the courage and audacity to sometimes show in a dark, dark comedy manner. A desperate, desolate, barren existence that to tolerate it, we have to sometimes laugh at it. Even if we don't want to. But then, what else is to do?

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