l'Etudiante

Image from Amazon
L' ?tudiante (buy from Amazon)
Type: Drama, France 1988

Director: Claude Pinoteau

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Sophie Marceau .... Valentine
Vincent Lindon .... Edward
?lisabeth Vitali .... Celine
Jean-Claude Leguay .... Charly
Elena Pompei .... Patricia

Story:
Valentine is a studying to be a teacher, and she is about to focus on her final exams that is going to take place in 3 months time. She encounters a musician during skiing and just when she thinks after a one-night encounter, she can put him behind at least for 3 months, until after exmas. She is wrong, they couldn't stop seeing each other, but the relationship isn't always pleasent, they argue and cause pain to each other just like any relationship...

My review:
This film is often viewed as the sequel to La Boum 1 and 2 where Sophie Marceau played a 13 and 16 year-old girl and her encounters with boys! Now her role has matureed and is now a grown lady. These 3 movies are must-watches for many French people of this generation and the music used in the movies are all very familiar to them.

The relationship described in the movie is fairly realistic, I think Valentine is a very high maintanence character, not very fun to be with!

Anthony Zimmer

Image from Amazon
Anthony Zimmer (Original French Version with English Version) (buy from Amazon)


Type: Suspense Thriller, France 2005

Director: J?r?me Salle

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Sophie Marceau .... Chiara
Yvan Attal .... Francois Taillandier
Sami Frey .... Akerman
Gilles Lellouche .... M??ller
Daniel Olbrychski .... Nassaiev

Story:
Anthony Zimmer is one of the most wanted man in France by the French authority and the Russians, because he helps big international criminal organisation to laundary their money. Very good at his work and smart to avoid getting caught, changing his face from time to time. The only weapon French government has is Chiara, a French agent sent to approach Zimmer before, and they are still in love. Unsure about Chiara's loyalty, she is asked to hunt down Zimmer, or better Zimmer will come to her. To disrupt the chase, Chiara picks up a random guy on the train called Francois and claims that he is her lover Zimmer, landing Francois in deep trouble...

My review:
Full of twist and turns but no real surprise, Sophie Marceau is as beautiful as ever.

Yureru

Posted by Ryoko

Type: Drama Suspense, Japan 2006

Director:Miwa Nishikawa

My rating: 5
Key actors/actresses:
Joe Odagiri : Takeshi
Teruyuki Kagawa: Minoru

Story:
"Yureru" (literally "swing") is a story of two brothers. Minoru works for the family business, a gas station, and takes care of his father in Yamanashi, the suburbs of Tokyo. On the other hand, his younger brother, Takeshi, works as a photographer in Tokyo. However, their world got upside-down by an accidental death of a female friend of their childhood.
"Yureru" was invited to Fortnight Program at Cannes Film Festival this year.
You can see its trailer here: http://www.yureru.com/trailers/

My review:
I?m proud of those great actors in Japan: Odagiri and Kagawa. Especially as for Odagiri, he is very popular here but I was not interested in him at all until I watched this film.
Why did I watch this film? Because I heard a good reputation for ?Yureru?, in addition, happened to read Odagiri?s interview on a magazine, which made me feel curious: he mentioned that he felt so jealous toward Miwa Nishikawa, the young female director of this film because ?she is in the nearly same age but she is so talented. Amazing!?.
Last August, my friend and I watched this film at a small theater in the afternoon on a weekday, and every seat was full up with many men & women of all ages. Its story is trilling and creeps up on you. It?s not a horror movie but a psychological drama. You may feel something tense between Odagiri?s and Kagawa?s plays from the beginning to the end. There is no room for poor players for this movie.
Well, I?m really looking forward to reading Dominic?s review of ?Yureru?, and will let you know my review after watching ?Shinobi? starring Odagiri.

All about my mother

Image from Amazon
All About My Mother (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Spain 1999

Director:Pedro Almod髒ar

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Cecilia Roth .... Manuela
Marisa Paredes .... Huma Rojo
Candela Pe馻 .... Nina

Story:
Also known as Todo sobre mi madre.
A single mother in Madrid sees her only son die on his 17th birthday as he runs to seek an actress's autograph. She goes to Barcelona to find the lad's father, a transvestite named Lola who does not know he has a child. First she finds her friend, Agrado, also a transvestite; through him she meets Rosa, a young nun bound for El Salvador, and by happenstance, becomes the personal assistant of Huma Rojo, the actress her son admired. She helps Huma manage Nina, the co-star and Huma's lover, and she becomes Rosa's caretaker during a dicey pregnancy. With echoes of Lorca, "All About Eve," and "Streetcar Named Desire," the mothers (and fathers and actors) live out grief, love, and friendship.

My review:
The director is known for making bizare movies and this one is supposed to be a milder piece of his works. It features unusual characters that we don't normally encounter, in this case a transvestite Lola who doesn't know he has a son. Lola also seduces a nun. Are this events so extraordinary that we shout "shocking!"? Or are we too ignorant or even turn a blind eye on things that actually happen everyday on earth? Just imagine in a place where famine is a daily phenomena, than having food is extraordinary then. What about clean drinking water? What about political freedom? Bizare or not, normal or unusual, it's all a matter of prospective.

The Last Samurai

Image from Amazon
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.

Inochi

Type: Drama, Japan 2002

Director:Tetsuo Shinohara

My rating: 3

Key actors/actresses:
Makiko Esumi .... Miri Yu
Etsushi Toyokawa .... Yutaka Higashi
Toshio Kakei .... Kamata

Story:
Based on a best-selling autobiography.
Miri was unexpectedly pregnant through an affair with a married man with whom she had just broken up. Having made the difficult decision to keep the baby, she reunited with an old friend (her ex-boyfriend), Yutaka who was suffering from terminal cancer and was struggling to stay alive. Miri gave birth to a health boy, and Yutaka has developed a deep fatherly relationship with the baby boy. Through facing life and death everyday, Miri and Yutaka learn the deeper meaning of life.

My review:
A rather heavy movie that attempt to offer some views on life and death. Life is a miracle and should be treasured.

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

Image from Amazon
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

Image from Amazon
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

Image from Amazon
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.

Bad Education (La mala educacion)

Posted by Ryoko

Image from Amazon
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

Story:
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.

<< 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 >>