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The Movie Poster

ONCE A poor farm girl in love with a poor farm boy, Buttercup is going to be the next queen of the kingdom, the last thing she could have done hadn’t she heard that her lover is dead from his sail. Little did she know that there is a plot to kidnap her, as part of a feud between the neighbouring kingdom. Least did she know that there is a masked swordsman out to save her life.

A comedy for a lifetime

If you’re just out for a bad day, or things haven’t turned out as you expect them to, this film will break the ice. It’s really funny, well-written tale. They all have this witty dialogue that will keep ringing in your head. (“Inconceivable!”) And as if this isn’t enough, the film has still a lot to offer. You get fencing, a tour in the Dark Black Forest which houses R.O.U.S’s (Rodents of Unusual Size), a six-finger man and what-not.

Although it’s a bit aged, released in 1981, it still makes good laugh. Partly because the film is set-up from medieval times and of its universal appeal. But mostly because of the dialogue. (Thanks to William Goldman!) In fact it’s really old that visual effects have not properly evolved. On a fencing scene, a man is continuously hit by his opponent, but the blood doesn’t come out until the next cut. I don’t know if it’s intentional or a fall short of technology but it contributes on how amusing the film is.

Special mention to characters

Apart from the hilarious lead characters, the extra characters shine as well. One is the Albino, who serves for the villain and is currently living in the Darkest Pit. He is really weird, and his looks are somewhat maniacal , uncombed hairs, masked freckles. He is supposed to be scary but I perceived him as comical. Now, why is that? Another is the clergyman, who speaks gibberish, and mocks the soon-to-be-wed couples. I would love to see their characters again someday.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Last thoughts

Today a lot of comedy films have been released, with their high-tech technology backed with sophisticated shots, so why would you spend a time on “Princess Bride”? One word: script. This film has reminded, again and again, that no matter how the elements of the filmed played out, story is king. Always has been, and always will be.

Annie with Alvy at the park, mocking people who pass by

“ANNIE HALL” is not a film entirely about Annie. The film is about Alvy Singer, a man in his forties and after failing two marriages, he is already up for one.

What’s so great about Alvy Singer?

Not so much. He is not entirely handsome but, yes, you might find him attractive. He has a self-centered personality, and a bit talkative about psychoanalysis, which I find doubtful since he keeps talking about this theories that somehow just pulled random out of his sleeves. (All I know about psychoanalysis is that it came from Freud and all about Freud is that sex is an essential part of life.) He is not tall. He doesn’t have a great personality but, I won’t deny it, he is funny.  He is also too rational. One more thing, he is played by Woody Allen.

Annie Hall, on the other hand, is a beautiful, submissive woman and, like Allen, has humor. Allen meets her while playing tennis, and from then on they keep striking on wits. Continue Reading »

Skinny Chris Evans

“Captain America: The First Avenger” tells a story about a small, weak and feeble young man named Steve Rogers, who has a deep conviction to join the American army and help win the Nazi war, but because of his present condition he has been denied for a few times.  On  his recent attempt, luck finds him when he is spotted by the head military scientist and immediately admitted to the army, and is later transformed into a buff, strong and invincible young man. The journey starts there.

One thing that struck me at the start of the film was how did they shrunk Roger’s (Chris Evan) body. We saw resizing small into big, like that of “The Hulk”, but never the other way around. It turns out that the production team did a lot of effort CGI-ing Roger’s body, and it took them a while to shoot the scenes. Well, the first choice was to take a real skinny person for a double, take off its head and replace it with Evan’s. But the double’s performance didn’t lived up to Evan’s performance and so the production team opted for green screens. This also made Evan relieved, since he doesn’t want to share a performance. Rest assured, the film looks realistic and impressive.

Perhaps, this is the best hero I have ever seen, at least that I knew of. And like all other hero films, he has the girl that supports him and later he had her. I was surprised when they didn’t spared the film from visual effects. There was a big explosion encounter, and I thought it is the end of the film – since usually this is the way hero films end, with tons and tons of explosion – but I guess I was only halfway. That was exciting. I was looking forward for the next scenes.

What set this apart from the movie is perhaps the ending, which is hinted by the beginning of the film. It is a thrilling prologue on the upcoming Marvel film, “The Avengers”, which you might recognize as the team of Ironman, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, etc. Isn’t that great? A one big superhero film. Sounds like “The Incredibles”. Not actually. Why? Because this time the film already built a strong characterization and I’d like to see them explode!

 

“A Few Good Men” is a heavy drama revolving around the trial of two U.S. Marines, who are accused of killing another Marine, and the effort of three assigned officers to win their case.

On the first twenty minutes, we already know who is the perpetrator, and we can already form our personal judgment whether the two U.S. Marines, Dawson and Downey, be put to jail or not. Unfortunately, our characters is still about to find out and the only suspense we get is how they are going to find out, which is not enthralling  since we know who will be the last person to testify.

The better half of the film is spent mostly in the courtroom, debating about the case of Dawson and Downey, and I have to say, it is a great plot device to use the witnesses to reveal  information bit by bit rather than a cut to a series of investigation, this way the film spares us from the actual trial going on.

My only argument is that the whole story is quite shallow for a dramatic film. There is nothing at stake. If Dawson and Downey losses, they spent their life in jail. Normally, you should get mad on this fact but D and D (allow me to call them like that) just look straight ahead upon hearing this. We don’t even see them participating on unearthing facts, at least not freely. They just flash this grave look that says, do whatever you want, we don’t really care. So why should I even care about the case?

ImageThe first conflict I can come up with is how should the three assigned officers prove to the court that D and D are innocent, which is a bit ironic since these officers don’t really have a solid evidence to prove their statement, but as fate would have it they will later rightfully receive it. You might think that the system or the government is the conflict. At first, yes it’s the government. On second thought, not really. The government is not even trying hard, at least in the way I see it. The government is neutral.

The second conflict is from Tom Cruise’s playful lawyer character, Daniel Kaffee, who is afraid of falling short on achieving something, as this would stain his late father’s reputation. In fact, he hasn’t entered the courtroom not until D and D’s case.  Unfortunately, this conflict ends when the earlier mentioned conflict starts.

Demi Moore’s character, JoAnne Galloway, is the whole reason why the D and D case is raised. She takes it seriously, accompanying Daniel in all the investigation and makes sure that everything goes smoothly. But there’s no reason to justify her behavior. When asked why she is doing all this trouble, she answers, “Cause they stand on a wall and they say, ‘Nothing’s gonna hurt you tonight, not on my watch’”.   This isn’t convincing at all, unless she has a painful memory on the matter. There are people who render service to protect people (i.e. police, security guard) and they might have a heavier case than this (i.e. death penalty) but why wouldn’t JoAnne prioritize them?

If you’re fond of watching courtroom scene, hearing intellectual rebuttals, this is the film for you. It’s intense. There is no room for a little bit of romance, even though by the look of the characters they demand it. The two U.S. Marines are charged for three penalties – murder, conspiracy, unbecoming a U.S. Marine – and by the end, I liked what the court’s verdict, and you will too.

PS: Have you ever heard of the famous line “You can’t handle the TRUTH!”? Who would have thought it came from the “A Few Good Men”

The drama in “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” deals with Craig, a teenager, who suffers from deppression, insecurity and pressure, like most teenagers. He dreams of suicide, through jumping on a bridge, but somehow finds the courage to call help and checks himself in a hospital for further medication.

So what’s funny in the story?

To tell you upfront this is not a funny film comparable to “Hangover” or “Wild Child”. But it is funny enough to make your heart smile and your eyes sparkle. My theory of why they call it a “funny story” is the concept of you first think of yourself as worthless, then later you think yourself as genuine, like you have a function on this greater and bigger system we live. The idea is dull but to some degree, it’s actually funny. The moment you realize it’s all there in you, sleeping, you just have to wake up at the right time and the right place. By that, I’m talking about our main character, Craig, who feels he is talentless but later finds out he has a talent in drawing, who feels he is inspireless but later inspires everyone else.

Is suicide the main theme?

Although his suicidal thoughts is the reason in the first place that moves the story, this idea, as the film progresses, is negligible. (But maybe I have to rethink about that because all of the patients in the hospital are, one way or the other, brought by suicide attempts.) The story deviates from its premise in the first encounter where Craig meets Bobby, a frustrated father, by then the story talks about friendship. There’s also a time when Craig meets Noelle, a lovely lady who is about the same age as Craig, by then the story talks about infatuation. You might think there’s a danger of the film playing many concept at one but surprisingly the film delivers it well.

It’s tiring seeing films with extreme conflicts, the one that talks about life and death or love and hatred or travel throughout world. Perhaps, you might opt to see real mundane things happening to a person, without the aid of superficial conflicts. I might contradict my point since it isn’t normal to be in a hospital ward because of suicide attempt but then again this isn’t about suicide. The film also plays metaphors. Upon staying in the hospital, Craig shares a room with Muqtada, an egyptian who secludes himself from the world and spends all his time in bed, but he is not bedridden. I could easily see him as a friend who can’t find any place in this world and thus makes his own world. He is pitiable and is need of help, by then the story talks about service.

So how was Emma Roberts?

Emma Roberts, as Noelle, has a mild role. It’s logical to the part she plays. Noelle is just another plot device to realize how genuine Craig is. Zach Galifianakis, the founder of Hangover’s wolf pack and one of the main reason why Hangover received a sequel, is still amusing as he plays Bobby. When Bobby asks what Craig thinks of why he is in the hospital, Craig says “I heard you tried to rape a penguin at the zoo.” Bobby is alarmed and retorts, “Who told you that?” That line made me squeaked. That was priceless.

It’s really amazing how actors can adapt different character stories and still manages to convince us that it is their personal life.You may think that Emma Roberts always plays a warm character. But if you happen to see “Lymelife”, you can see Emma in a seductive role, though not in anyway fetish. There was scene where Emma flaunts her chest and teases her partner. I can never forget that. That made me think that actors do illuminate magic.

The verdict

In essence, the film is dramatic but the narrative is funny. The film is no puzzling code. You can take it at face value and still get that same mild experience. But sometimes if we dig deep, we feel deep. (But if we dig deeper, we drown. Kay?)

IMdB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804497/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_pq7HKc9z8

Jones tries to get the golden statue

The then 39-year old Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones. We first see him in the middle of a treasure hunt, out in the deep forest of Peru, to retrieve a golden statue, that is heavily guarded by booby traps.(I really wonder why of all the places would you hide an artifact in an enclosed cave that is mostly suspicious for such materials rather than bury it 10 feet below ground.) He carefully replaces the statue for a pouch that has the same weight, thinking that this will fool the “security measures”, i.e. booby traps. He slowly walks away from the altar but the cave starts to collapse. He runs and dodges swift arrows. He jumps from a pit and he has to run after that or else he gets hit by a gigantic rolling stone.

First ten minutes of the story and we are already in adventure.

Apart from being a history professor, Jones is an enthusiastic archeologist. And apart from being an enthusiastic archaeologist, he is also an uncommonly handsome man, even his student drools over him. (Don’t worry, this film has nothing to do with pedophiles). Jones donates his treasures to the museum for the public’s pleasure, but as the film shows, his past treasure hunts has not been succesful. He is stepped over by an archenemy, Belloq, a fellow archeologist who have been fond of pestering Jones up until the end. Despite the failures, he has already received publicity on his past discoveries, as the “obtainer of rare antiquities”.

It is not surprising therefore that one day two U.S. military personnel, on behalf of the U.S. Government, hires Jones to search for the lost ark that is believed to be a “source of unspeakable power”, before the Nazi could turn it against them. This sets off Jone’s mind ablaze and he is then set off across Nepal for another journey.

Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan (1998), artificial Intelligence (2001)), the film has never been short of action and adventures. The moment you think it is going to end, you realize that the end has not started yet. I can picture out that Indiana Jones has been the father of succeeding action adventure films. By some anonymous decision, according to Wikipedia, it is the best action adventure family film, as it appeals to adults and children.

Jones and Belloq having a "friendly" conversation

We must also give thanks to George Lucas for the story, and Lawrence Kasdan for the screenplay. In addition to the charming actors and the classic soundtrack, you’re also likely to be impressed by how the story is told. Close to the end, Jones almost has the ark on his disposal but because of his deep interest in historical objects, he suspends his decision. This leads him to be a captive, and ultimately, for the story, the last confrontation.

During his journey, Jones is accompanied by Marion. I’m glad Marion is not that classy or goody-goody suburban girls. She knows how to run, punch, kick, somersault, almost anything similar to Jones, but still maintains that look for sexual interest.

Despite thirty year of its release, I still see some authenticity. When Jones is chasing to retrieve Marion from the enemies, he clutches on a moving vehicle and makes his way down to the back of the car. This stunt really looks dangerous as Jone’s back is sliding and clashing on the ground. To this day, “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” still remains one of the top of all action films and is classified under the banner “classic”.

Nothing tells victory other than walking with a backdrop of fire, smoke and explosion

Based on a novel, “I Am Number Four” is a teen action science fiction film that might be identical with “Twilight”, except that we’re not talking about vampires we’re talking about aliens.

In my childhood days, aliens are supposed to have deformed bodies, numerous eyes, extended parts and, in most cases, inaudible languages. But in this film, “I Am Number Four” shows aliens as well-fed, well-trained human figure with mystic powers. I reckon they are attempting to revolutionize the people’s perspective on aliens like “Twilight” did with vampires – except of running away from the fangs they come straight towards it.

Like “Twilight”, the main character is in High School named John Smith (a.k.a. Number Four), an alien that came from Planet Lorien. Their planet is destroyed and their being hunted down by another race for no particular reason. (The story says it’s not for colonial reason, what then . . . for fun?).  There are nine of them in total. Number one, two and three are dead. Who’s next? Go figure.

In order to protect them, “aliens” have babysitters (a.k.a. Guardians), which is ironic since these babysitters don’t have any powers except knowing hand-to-hand combats and having a piece of glowing dagger. They can’t fly, run fast or lift a refrigerator. How can these “babysitters” compete with villains who have laser guns, ginarmous winged beasts and an uncommonly sense of smelling? Continue Reading »

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