Category: Rating 4

Twilight Samurai

Image from Amazon
The Twilight Samurai (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 2002

Director:Yoji Yamada

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Hiroyuki Sanada .... Seibei Iguchi
Rie Miyazawa .... Tomoe Iinuma
Nenji Kobayashi .... Choubei Kusaka
Ren Osugi .... Toyotarou Kouda
Mitsuru Fukikoshi .... Michinojo Iinuma

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Seibei Iguchi is a low-rank Samurai who suffers poverty as he spends all his money for the family,include a bed-bound wife who is sick, 2 daughters and an old mother. Wife died out of illness and put the family further in debt, but they are happy as a family. Tomoe is Seibei's long time love and childhood friend, Tomoe was just divorced from an abusive husband.Just Tomoe and Seibei may start to develop some special relationship, Seibei decided that Tomoe will suffer too much if she follows him. Until one day, Seibei's brilliant sword skill was discovered and he was sent to deal with a very strong enermy, facing a live or death situation, Seibei confessed to Tomoe that he really loves her...

My review:
The second movie that I watched directed by Yoji Yamada, simply excellent, well directed and well acted. Aduience can feel for the characteres in the movie and the sword fight was very impactful and so was the numerous scenes with Seibei and Tomoe.

The Closet

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The Closet (buy from Amazon)

Type: Comedy, France 2001

Director:Francis Veber

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Daniel Auteuil .... Fran?ois Pignon
G?rard Depardieu .... F?lix Santini
Thierry Lhermitte .... Guillaume
Mich?le Laroque .... Mlle Bertrand

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Fran?ois works in a condom factory as an accountant and he knows he is about to get fired and his family life is in a mess, his ex-wife and son wouldn't talk to him at all. Just when he is going to end his life, his neighbour suggests to him that he should pretend to be gay and they will send some gay pictures of Fran?ois to his boss with a note saying that if he gets fired, it will be discrimination and the gay community will protest. So his job is now safe, but what happens next is something totally unexpected ...

My review:
Very funny comedy, highly entertaining. Great acting too. It is also interesting to see three great actors to play such soft comedian role, different from their usual masculine roles like cops.

The Last Samurai

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The Last Samurai (Widescreen Edition) (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, USA 2003
Director:Edward Zwick

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Ken Watanabe .... Katsumoto
Tom Cruise .... Nathan Algren
William Atherton .... Winchester Rep
Chad Lindberg .... Winchester Rep Assistant
Ray Godshall Sr. .... Convention Hall Attendee
Billy Connolly .... Zebulon Gant
Tony Goldwyn .... Colonel Bagley
Masato Harada .... Omura

Story:
The Tagline of the movie:In the face on an enemy, in the Heart of One Man, Lies the Soul of a Warrior.

Nathan Algren, a US veteran captain who once fought the Indians, deserted by the war on his own land has agreed to go to Japan to train the Emperor's army to fight a civil war against the last of Japan's samurais. "Samurai" represents a certain honour and duty to the country. Nathan soon finds himself being captured by the enemy led by Katsumoto that he is supposed to fight against and he learns from Katsumoto what it means to be a samurai.

My review:
A good portion of the movie was filmed at Himeji of Japan, a beautiful city, a world heritage, I was there for a vacation during the cherry blossom season, just like how they show it in the movie. I talked to my Japanese friends and they too like this movie very much. It is not easy that Hollywood makes a movie of a foreign country and the people of the country can actually agree with. All in all, Tom Cruis and Ken Watanabe's performance was great. And the storyline conveys the spirit of the samurai, "to serve" and it always stresses the importance of "die with honour". The movie is very entertaining with a few big fighting scenes.

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

Story:
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
Actors/Actresses:
Oksana Akinshina .... Lilja
Artyom Bogucharsky .... Volodya
Lyubov Agapova .... Lilja's Mother
Liliya Shinkaryova .... Aunt Anna
Elina Benenson .... Natasha

Story:
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?

Review:
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.

Farinelli

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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

Story:
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.

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

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

My review:
Very funny indeed!

Battle Royale

Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/external-search?tag=dominicchan-20&keyword=B00005Y7L4&mode=blended

Image from Amazon
Battle Royale Directors Cut

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

Story:
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.

Old Leglessbird Movie guide

You can find the old leglessbird movie guide here.

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