Categories: 03 Rating, Rating 1, Rating 2, Rating 3, Rating 4, Rating 5

Talk to her - Hable con ella, Drama Romantic, Spain 2002

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Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama Romantic, Spain 2002

Director:Pedro Almod?var

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Javier C?mara .... Benigno Mart?n
Dar?o Grandinetti .... Marco Zuluaga
Leonor Watling .... Alicia
Rosario Flores .... Lydia Gonz?lez

Benigno works in a hospital as a nurse to take care of patients who are in deep coma. He is particularly tentative and gentle to one of the the patients, Alicia. He speaks to her everyday, telling her everything that he does, every drama that he watches, treating her as if she is responsive. They have had brief encounter shortly before Alicia's accident that render her into a coma state. One day a new patient is admited to the hospital, a female bull fighter Lydia who got run over by a bull during a fight. Her boyfriend Marco, a writer on world travel quickly becomes a good friend of Benigno who share a similar situation. Alicia was later found raped and pregnant and Benigno is the number one suspect...

My review:
Director Pedro is known to make movies of highly controversial characters. His previous work such as "All about my mother" and now "Talk to her" both confirm that.

What is love when it is only one way? Is it love just to physically take care of one another? Is Benigno's love for Alicia pure or obsession? I believe love is a mutual feeling, Benigno may argue that his act was pure and all good intention, but it was highly selfish, he was only thinking of his own interest and not Alicia's best interest. That could not have been love.

Lilya 4 ever, Sweden, 2002

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Lilja 4-ever (buy from Amazon)

Drama, Sweden, 2002
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Oksana Akinshina .... Lilja
Artyom Bogucharsky .... Volodya
Lyubov Agapova .... Lilja's Mother
Liliya Shinkaryova .... Aunt Anna
Elina Benenson .... Natasha

Lilja is a 16-year old girl in Russia, her mother went to USA with the boyfriend leaving Lilja behind to be taken care by Aunt Anna, but Anna took over the house and dumb Lilja in a smelly, dirty apartment in a terrible area. Broke and desparate, Lilja earns money by selling sex. Volodya, an 11-year old boy is her only true friend. One day she met a guy who promises her a new life in Sweden, Volodya is skeptical, but Lilja decided to go anyway. Is there a new life in Sweden or is it just a beginning of another nightmare?

A pretty sad story which could be happening right this minute to many family-wrecked girls. There are a few distubing scenes. Well filmed and story well told. A simple storyline that leaves a reasonate.


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Farinelli (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Italy 1994

Director:G?rard Corbiau

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Stefano Dionisi .... Farinelli/Carlo Broschi
Enrico Lo Verso .... Riccardo Broschi
Elsa Zylberstein .... Alexandra

Farinelli, is the artistic name of Carlo Broschi, a young singer in Haendel times. He was castrated in his childhood in order to preserve his voice. During his life he becomes to be a very famous opera singer, managed by his mediocre brother (Riccardo).

My review:
I first got to know about this film during a Digital Signal Processing conference, during which a French research team presented their work of morphing two singers' voices into one voice. Why would they do that? They did it for this film. Farinelli, a castrated singer could sing a really wide range, in fact, it is so wide that no one on earth alive today can replicate that. So they had to rely on modern science to come up with a way to reproduce the voice in the movie.

Back to the movie, Farinelli is a fascinating character. The director also paid attention to a lot of details. The scenes are grand and the music is simply magnificent.

Bad Education (La mala educacion)

Posted by Ryoko

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Bad Education (Original Uncut NC-17 Edition) (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Spain 2004

Director:Pedro Almodovar

My rating: 5
Key actors/actresses:
Gael Garcia Bernal: Angel/Juan/Zahara
Fele Martinez: Enrique Goded
Javier Camara: Paquito
Daniel Gimenez Cacho: Father Manolo
Lluis Homar: Berenguer

Ignacio and Enrique were students at a religious school and they loved each other. Father Manolo, director of the school and its professor of literature, disturbed their love because Ignacio was the very special student for him.
After the next few decades, Enrique got famed as a movie director. One day Ignacio came to his office suddenly. Enrique was surprised at this visit, however, he felt something incongruous and could not believe the man was Ignacio.
Each life of Ignacio, Enrique, and Father Manolo was changed and destined unexpectedly by the reunion.

My review:
After my friend and I watched this film at a theater last year, we got excited with this screenplay and the acting by Gael Garcia Bernal: we kept talking about this movie at a cafe until nearly midnight at that time.
It was hard to predict (read ahead) how this story would be going on while I was watching this movie. Gael played 3 characters, and one of them was a drag queen (Zahara). When he was singing `Quizas,quizas,quizas'as Zahara, he looked decadent but mysterious and fascinating to me. Surely his performance was GREAT. I don?t know any other young and good-looking players in Japan (at least) that can act great like Gael did.
Here is my rating: story = 4 stars, acting = 4 stars (nearly 5stars), direction = 5 stars, visual = 4 stars, and my conclusion in total = 5 stars.

La Fid?lit?

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Fidelity (Fidelite) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Spain ] (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, France 2000

Director:Andrzej Zulawski

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Sophie Marceau .... Cl?lia
Pascal Greggory .... Cl?ve
Guillaume Canet .... N?mo
Michel Subor .... Rupert MacRoi
Magali No?l .... La m?re de cl?lia

Clelia is a young photographer with her own style. Her photos are all blur, it reflects how she perceives the world. She met Cleve, son of a book publishing business, they got married but she is attracted to another guy, she isn't unfaithful but she cannot resist either. Life around her is complicated and so are the people...

My review:
Not my type of movie, many characters that inter-connected with Clelia very unsure about how she feels and her boyfriend messes up with some gangsters which bring a very strange angle to the entire stories.

The Fabulous Baker Boys

Posted by Ryoko

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The Fabulous Baker Boys (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, USA 1989

Director:Steven Kloves

My rating: 5
Key actors/actresses:
Jeff Bridges: Jack Baker
Beau Bridges: Frank Baker
Michelle Pfeiffer: Susie Diamond
Jennifer Tilly: Monica Moran

Frank and Jack Baker were professional musicians who played the piano at small clubs.
One day they auditioned female singers and decided on Susie Diamond.
After Susie joined this piano duo, they got good fame and re-evaluation; however, some kinds of discord among them came out to the surface.

My review:
I was a student at university when I watched this film for the first time by the recommendation from my boyfriend of those days. At that time I thought this was just a romantic movie, however, now I think it is not just a love story but a drama about persons who tried standing on their own feet.
Michelle Pfeiffer is beautiful and charming in this film. And sexy. Her performance is so vivid. Moreover, she?s a good singer: I really like her singing?More than you know?, ?Ten cents a dance?, ?Can?t take my eyes off you?, ?Makin' Whoopee?, ?My funny valentine?.

Needing You

Posted by Ryoko

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Needing You (buy from Amazon)

Type: Comedy Romantic, Hong Kong 2000

Director:Johnny To

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Andy Lau: Wah
Sammi Cheng: Kinki

Wah is a computer programmer and Kinki is a secretary in the same company. They didn?t get along well at the beginning, but gradually they got to care about each other.

My review:
I watched this film when I went toward France from Japan via Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific. I cannot understand Chinese, but its subtitle was simple English, so luckily I could enjoy the whole story. I laughed a lot and was never bored on the way to Hong Kong from Narita.
Kinki is a young, moody, cheerful, cute girl and its play by Sammi Cheng is nice. I do not like romantic comedies, but this movie is one of my favorites! My rating is 3 stars but it is nearly 4 stars in fact.

Iron Ladies(Satree-lex)

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Iron Ladies (Sub) (buy from Amazon)

Type: Comedy, Thailand 2000

Director:Youngyooth Thongkonthun

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Jesdaporn Pholdee .... Chai
Sahaphap Tor .... Mon
Ekachai Buranapanit .... Wit
Giorgio Maiocchi .... Nong
Chaicharn Nimpulsawasdi .... Jung
Kokkorn Benjathikoon .... Pia
Shiriohana Hongsopon .... Coach

A true story of a Thai male volleyball team that won the national championship in 1996.

My review:
Very funny indeed!

Battle Royale


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Battle Royale Directors Cut

Type: Drama Thriller, Japan 1998
Director:Kinji Fukasaku
My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Tatsuya Fujiwara .... Shuya Nanahara

In future Japan, the younger generation has lost faith of the government and they constantly challenge authorities and resort to violence. The government passed a directive allowing the military to select one secondary class per year to participate in an exercise called "Battle Royale", in which the teenage pupils are brought to a isolated island controlled by the army. They are forced to wear a necklace with explosive and are equipped with various weapons, from spring arrow, knief, pistol and machine gun and are forced to kill each other. In 3 days' time, there can be only one survivor, or the necklace will blow their heads off. The teenagers are fighting for their own lives. To make it more interesting, they have put two pupils that do not belong to this class.

My review:
This is a highly controversial movie, indeed, it talks about a very sensitive topic. The idea on teenagers killing teenagers for their own survival is too much for most people. The movie is full of vivid and graphical violent scenes. Once the movie has established the plot, the director tried to portray behaviours of the two extremes, namely good and evil. There were some who played by the game and try to eliminate others, there were others who refused to give in to the game and strive to survive by other means without killing each other. I particularly like the light-house scene where the group of girls who initially were determined to stand by each other and sworn they would never harm one another. They took shelter at the light house. But the balance totally swinged the other way as soon as one of them was poisoned to death by accident. The results? They all killed each other and the girl who planted the poison in the first place intended to kill the boy that they rescured. She jumped off the light house and killed herself out of guilt. Peace was never long lasting, it was hanging on a thin thread, small disturbance to the system sent them to the path of no-return. Whether the director is trying to convey something deep and meaningful, or whether he is just taking the pleasure out of making a controversial movie, you can be the judge of that. But in terms of the pace, atmosphere, cinematography and casting, this is a fine movie. If you cannot accept the idea of people killing each other for their own survival (which by the way is exactly what people do when they are at war and I am all against it), then this is probably not a movie for you.

Before Sunset

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Before Sunset (buy from Amazon)
Type: Romantic, USA 2004

Director: Richard Linklater

My rating: 5
Key actors/actresses:
Ethan Hawke - Jesse
Julie Delpy - Celine

Posted by Doris Wong
In 1995's Before Sunrise, American student Jesse met the French beauty Celine on an europe train. The 14 hours spent together in Vienna has connected two young hearts.
Before Sunsets picks up 9 years after they separated in the train platform & swore they would meet again at there after six months.
Jesse, now a best selling author living in new york with his wife & son, is giving a reading to the journalists in Shakespeare Book shop in Paris, the last stop of this book tour.
Celine, now a Green Cross environmental activist living in Paris, walks in the book shop staring at him.
In several hours before Jesse has to fly back to US, they walk in Paris & keep talking as they did in Vienna nine years ago.
What is his book about?
Who did not go back to Vienna as promised?
Was the girl Celine whom Jesse saw in NY?
What happened to them after separated?
What are their problems now?
In real time, they share their mind and regain the power of love before sunset.
This time, it's more difficult than ever to say goodbye...

My review:
The reunion of Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy is amazing!
I was so excited when I heard about this film in news of Cannes Film Festival. I had great expectation & looked forward to watching this film as soonest as possible.
I did & found it with no disappointment but just surprise!
The chemistry between Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy is still there.
After nine years of living experience, Ethan Hawke's acting is more mature & Julie Delpy is still a french angel.
You may say this film is their baby as they really took part in writing the screenplay, beside with the director Richard Linklater (also the director of "School of Rock", really unexpected!). Even Julie Delpy's parents played the roles of man & woman whom Celine spoke with in her courtyard.
This time, they talk more in depth about love, marriage, religion, life, hope and dream, in their ideal eyes against the real world. As they're growing older and having their own companion, the way they expressed their love to each other is more subtle than they were in Vienna.
What touched my heart is that their youthful hearts & passion of love were back after the long long talk. While watching this, I could feel the same although I have different living experience to reach my age now that is same as theirs.
I especially like the ending. It just ends unexpectedly with Celine in her apartment recreats Nina Simone's dancing and Jesse sitting in her sofa, in fact almost lying, watching her to say this "Baby, you're gonna miss your flight." & Jesse just smiles "I know." Then if fades.
It gives the audience much imagination whether Jesse & Celine will never separate again, just like people wonder whether they will meet again six months later in the ending of "Before Sunrise".
In reality, it's difficult for Jesse to leave his wife & son especially and them move to Paris, thus I think this ending is just perfect to avoid seeing the lovers separate again.
I had watched this film three times. Each time after the ending, it leaves me a sweet & warm feeling for a while. Besides, Julie Delpy's song simultaneously comes into my head.
I love this movie and I love this feeling.
I recall the last film that brings me same feeling maybe "Amelie" in 2001!!

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