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Apocalypto [DVD] (2006)
Apocalypto [DVD] (2006)
Dvd ~ Rudy Youngblood
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £2.97

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Chase and Revenge Action, 16 July 2007
This review is from: Apocalypto [DVD] (2006) (DVD)
Mel Gibson is obviously a controversial filmmaker. It is nearly impossible to avoid addressing that here but I'm going to try really hard. Suffice to say, Apocalypto is a very violent and brutal film that portrays the Mayan civilization in a way that troubles some Anthropologists. None of that really matters to most viewers though and I'm here to tell you that most viewers will find that this movie is about as intense and compelling as you can get.

Apocalypto is two kinds of action sub-genres mended together in an amazing setting that most viewers will find authentic. It is an action chase film smattered with revenge elements typical of a Gibson movie. Apocalypto opens like Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, with no credits and instead a quotation alluding to the theme of a civilization in decline. The quote is from historian Will Durant and states: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." The civilization in this movie is the ancient Mayan civilization and there is a genuine attempt at convincing the audience we are watching from a time machine. Again, like The Passion of the Christ, Gibson refuses to use English and instead goes with Yucatec Mayan, which may or may not be exactly what these people spoke but I have to applaud Gibson for doing this. I can tell you one thing, it hooked me in a lot more than English would have and helped me delve a little deeper and go back in time a little more efficiently than most historical depictions by a long shot. I didn't need my imagination at all. I can't say enough about Gibson's ability to get his audience into the hearts and minds of his characters and their settings. We also get a relatively unknown but talented cast of Native Americans, which itself serves to accentuate the film's authenticity as we have no prior references to the actors' faces.

Apocalypto, in perspective, runs as a political parallel and comments on a civilization in decline. However, like most action films, it focuses on one protagonist as we root for his survival and safe resolution to his goals. His name is Jaguar Paw and he is a Mayan man with a young son and a pregnant wife. To avoid spoilers, I'll just say that he ends up having an improbably horrendous few days. He and his friends get a good look at how the Mayan civilization is in decline from greed, disease, self-destruction, failed crops, slavery and of course human will not forget the human sacrifice. This is hell on Earth but Jaguar Paw is up to the task and I couldn't help but root for him out loud on various occasions as I watched. That alone praises the film's passion. I bought into this movie entirely while watching it and it even prompted me to learn more and study the points of contention many people have with Gibson's depiction. A lot of movies that reference history can get folks thinking and whatever you may find in terms of truth, perhaps it is that provocation alone makes Apocalypto effective.

X-Men - The Last Stand [2006] [DVD]
X-Men - The Last Stand [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wolverine doesn't cry! He kills, 16 July 2007
X-Men: The Last Stand is the second sequel to X-Men, and unlike the first sequel it falls far short of the original. I could spend a lot of time getting into why Brett Ratner is as much to blame for the this as Joel Shumacher was for the near fall of the cinematic Batman. We may very well be one sequel away from a screenplay riddled with puns and fight scenes choreographed like a Broadway show or Disney on ice. Don't hold me to it...all I'm saying is that this disappointing garbage is a few more steps in that direction.

X3 (because us American's love for our blockbuster movies to have the shortest colloquialisms possible) mimics the Dark Phoenix saga by legendary comic writer Chris Claremont, and it mixes that arc with a newer story I'm not so familiar with. I'm assuming this is where the idea of the mutant cure comes from. In short, there is a cure available and it might mean the end of mutants, so we might be tempted to ask ourselves some important questions and a better filmmaker like Bryan Singer may have made these questions far more clear and allowed the answers to cut more deeply. We've developed differently our whole lives, so how much would we really enjoy being like everyone else on Earth? What does Mystique, a shape-shifter who prefers to walk around blue and scaley as opposed to adjusting her appearance like we know she can, really think of this opportunity? What about everyone else and how can a director address this with such a large cast? Ratner is not up to the task of making these observations interesting...he does however know how to direct straight action and make a highly commercial film. He did his job.

Singer on the other hand brought a tremendous amount of emotion and soul to his films, and he did this without being remotely heavy-handed. As a bonus he could also deliver straight action, but in his films we actually cared about the characters. In the second X-Men film we got to see Pyro blast some cops in front of Bobby Drake's house and then we got to see Bobby fly away with the other mutants, but instead of seeing some more explosions and loud jet engines, we see Bobby briefly glance at his family who just betrayed him...and we connect. Here in X3, I honestly just wanted to see the fire guy fight the ice dude. I wasn't buying into the characters anymore and the all-too-often clunky dialogue didn't help either. All the characters that were carried over from the other films are almost just empty shells of themselves from the previous movies, so I felt as if I had to think back to when I gave a damn.

But it's not all bad. Jean Grey's return from death in X2 as the ultra-powerful mutant Phoenix is fun to watch and the film doesn't pull punches to work toward a definitive end to the series (another reason an additional sequel could be dangerous). I'm not a real fan of the comic, but I'm familiar with it enough to know that hardcore fans have countless concerns for how there favorite characters are portrayed. It's not a horrible movie in comparison to some movies of it's ilk. The real disdain for me lies in how X3 betrays the depth of the first two films.

X Men 2 [DVD] [2003]
X Men 2 [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Hugh Jackman|Halle Berry|Ian Mckellen|Patrick Stewart
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.72

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the Greatest Comic Book Movie Ever, 16 July 2007
This review is from: X Men 2 [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
When taking into account all the comic book movies that have hit the theater recently this may sound like a bold statement, but really it's not. This may be a large grossing sub-genre but it isn't really that many movies we're talking about. With X2 though, I'm inclined to go even further and say it's one of the best sci-fi action films of all time...seriously. In terms of strictly comic book movies, it's simply either this or Batman Begins. I say X2 wins even in that comparison, but I'm certainly willing to accept the opposite view.

The film opens with a brilliant introduction to a crucial character, the German teleporter Nightcrawler who looks like a little blue demon but possesses an intense devotion to Catholicism, and his introduction does not serve to assist in painting him as a hero. More of an anti-hero I guess. I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't actually seen it but X2 opens with one of the more memorable action sequences of recent date and the film contains three more specific sequences that are just as good. Magneto's inevitable escape from his plastic prison is one of them.

One of the other memorable scenes sets up the real storyline for X2 quite nicely and introduces us to other mutant heroes in the process. William Stryker, an inventive military man, is motivated by his personal experience with mutant-kind to actually organize an assault on Charles Xavier's school for mutants. He wishes to gain access to the mutant tracking device called Cerebro and destroy all of them. His teams' assault is truely great action-filmmaking. The X-Men and Magneto, with his loosely forming band of mutants who agree with his politics on how to respond to humanity, find a common enemy in Stryker. The relationship established between Charles and Magneto in the first film is really important here as younger mutants develop and choose sides. I have to say, if I were in their predicament I may certainly be swayed by Magneto's extremism. The character developement here for supporting roles is important to note. Mystique and Pyro are really great villains here with massive emotion behind their actions and it's never over-stated, but it enhances the meaning and consequences to action sequences so well.

The other incredible action scene is when Bobby Drake's family calls the cops on him and his new mutant friends. There are enough under-stated layers in this scene and the characters; Wolverine, Rogue, Bobby and Pyro, are still consistent. The police show up and Pyro reveals his wrath. I always get excited for that scene even though I know he's wrong in his reaction. I mentioned four action sequences but the fun doesn't end there. Lady Deathstryke, who has been brainwashed by Stryker, and Wolverine have a great fight scene. Other scenes during the climax are just as impressive and all the while we are given enough tid-bits of so many characters that we still manage to care and even get a bit surprised near the end. It's a shame this wasn't pulled off in the third film.

X2 is unique in the sense that the plot is secondary and the film's primary operative is to develop the characters for more climactic stories. I think the screenplay succeeds in this sense but overall the screenplay (written by voice actor David Hayter) is not one of the film's strengths and can require a more robust imagination to really appreciate. Overall though, within the context of a complete trilogy, X2 is nearly perfect.

X-Men [DVD] [2000]
X-Men [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Patrick Stewart
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.73

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Retrospect, the Father of Modern Comic Book Films, 16 July 2007
This review is from: X-Men [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
The first X-Men film is not really perfect, but in terms of it's timing and what it meant might be coming down the pike with regards to cinematic interpretations of comic books (specifically Marvel comics) it is pretty darn close to perfect. Lets face it, this is the harbinger of the comic book movie age that has, like it or not, made some exciting and high-grossing films. I personally think the majority of comic book movies fail and could care less about how much money they make, but X-Men is a bit more than that. It's a very good movie too.

I didn't get a chance to see this in theaters but that actually served the film well in terms of how I viewed the hype. I didn't care because so many did...that's the old punk in me in guess. So I waited and received the film as an early Christmas gift the following year. I actually watched it Christmas eve and found it to be incredibly refreshing and enjoyable.

It begins by showing us a young boy being separated from his parents at a German concentration camp in Poland. His parents are going into the camp and will be killed. The boy is desperate to save them and as the German soldiers hold him down he reaches out and somehow begins to bend the metal gates that close in his parents before being struck down by the butt of one of the soldiers' guns. The boy is Eric Lehnsherr, one of the great all-time Marvel comic villains known as Magneto. In one fell swoop, Bryan Singer does something that I've always been glad X-Men writers did consistently, and that is allow us to sympathize with this villain.

We are then introduced to the primary plot of a modern day Senator bent on the granting the government the ability to force registration of all mutants. Then it shows how telepathic and mind manipulating mutant Charles Xavier and his old friend and rival Magneto fundamentally disagree on how mutants as a race must react to this oncoming repression. This is followed by the introduction to our primary protagonists; Rogue, a young girl who drains the life of all people her skin makes contact with, and Wolverine, an enhanced mutant with the ability to heal himself enough that his body endured somking of skeletal replacement surgery. His skeleton is made of an indestructible metal and he also has claws made of this metal that break through his skin anytime he wants to kill someone. Great characters that Anna Paquin and Hugh Jackman are able to portray well here. Again, Singer introduces these characters with relatable depth.

In short, Magneto wants to destroy humanity and the X-Men must stop him in an environment where they are not appreciated in the least by the public. Singer attempts to make sociological insights on those terms in addition to bringing great character depth. When you consider the number of characters and the length of the movie, these are not easy tasks to say the least. Then again, when watching the Usual Suspects it's quite obvious Singer has a knack for just this sort of thing.

X-Men is a very good movie but I won't give it five stars because it also contains some fairly annoying dialogue that I absolutely refuse to forgive. For example, the character Storm asks the villain Toad what happens when a toad is hit by lightning and answers her own question by saying "the same as everything else." It's not funny or witty. It serves no purpose other than to make Storm look like a big cheese ball, and that isn't really fair. Not to mention, who really cares what happens to a toad when it gets electrocuted and why is that even a question to begin with? Let's just watch the lightning bolt strike and see toad explode. That is really just a nit-picking though, as X-Men is still a very good movie and it actually gets more and more important in terms of movie history with time.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn [1987] [DVD]
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn [1987] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Campbell
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £8.37

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Comedy/Horror Standard, 16 July 2007
Allow me to preface this review with a helpful fact. A few years back when Spin Magazine was writing about the films they felt were the greatest of the 20th century, they chose to include Sam Raimi's sequel to his very first film; which was a small independent horror called The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead was a great film in it's own right, however, the editors at Spin wanted to give Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn the recognition they felt it deserved. So they placed it at the top of their list...that's right, they felt that it is, in fact, the single greatest cinematic achievement of the 20th century.

Evil Dead 2 follows Ash Williams and his girlfriend into a small creepy Michigan cottage where they stumble upon some recordings that contain readings from an ancient relic called the book of the dead, and by playing these recordings they unleash demonic supernatural forces that quickly haunt and possess everything from the trees outside and Popeye's lamp to Ash's hand and his girlfriend's severed head. The shenanigans unfold and Ash is more game than perhaps anyone to take on these evil forces as best as he can, but some sort of defeat is consistently inevitable.

As a reader I hope you are not anticipating my rebuttal to Spin Magazine here. I just so happen to concur 100% with Spin's gutsy assertion. On the surface of Evil Dead 2, we are seeing vintage 80s shock horror but it certainly isn't presented deeply enough to qualify amongst the failures within that genre. Evil Dead 2 is microcosmically structured like classic slapstick and macrocosmically it functions as pure satire. In this sense it's budget is used firmly to it's advantage and runs together with the theme of making a select audience laugh, first and foremost. Those who are both distinctly either disturbed by gore or preoccupied by gore as a strength in horror, should take keen note that gore in this film is applied almost exclusively for physical slapstick comedy. Those who hate gore will hate it here and those who love to be immersed in gore may not understand or appreciate it's use in Evil Dead 2.

We get to see a chubby fruit cellar witch's soul-swallowing head extend via shoddy stop-motion effects. We get to see an eyeball pop out of her head and shoot across the room into some chick's mouth. We get so see blood spray humorously and pretty consistently out of the walls and floors of the cottage. We get to see Ash fight his hand, cut it off, and add a chainsaw to where his hand once was. We get to see him kill his girlfriend and fight both her severed head and headless body in a tool shed at the same time. We get to see Ash get clumsily chased around the house by a force of evil we never see. We also get to see the volume of slapstick comedy increase as the film goes on and finally we get to see a conclusion that still makes me kind of wish they never made a sequel (even though Army of Darkness is in and of itself a very good movie).

Evil Dead 2 may require a deeper degree of movie history appreciation, perhaps more specifically to exploitation and horror films. I know I sound like a movie snob saying that but the film does offer some fun and fitting tributes or references to past films. I think it is definitely fair to say that Raimi has a great appreciation for movies in general and we can plainly see that he has so much fun making them. Evil Dead 2 for me is fun, affable, and carefree; it is all the things it shouldn't be on it's surface, and it is perfect for that fact alone.

Carrie (Special Edition) [DVD] [1976]
Carrie (Special Edition) [DVD] [1976]
Dvd ~ Sissy Spacek
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £14.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars De Palma's Standout Creation of King's Carrie, 16 July 2007
The only flaw of this Brian Depalma vehicle is...dare I say this...the story? Yup, telekinetic devil child? It's certainly not boring but I almost can't possibly grant it a five star rating. I'm going to anyway. King's first novel is not his best, but it is still very good. I will assert that the film is actually better and Carrie is one of the best adaptations of a King novel ever made into a film. My hats off to Depalma for creating one of the scariest films of all time in the process. I'm a huge horror fan, so Carrie has quite a few things to take into account for your own tastes. It's a bit dated and requires some imagination from the viewer...I'm probably preaching the quire here anyway.

Most people my age have only seen the edited television version which is on about three or four times every Halloween. The made for television remake was a horrorshow in a different way because it came close to ruining the credibility of its original. Depalma holds back his amazing technical abilities intentionally and builds this tale of revenge and justice up for one of the most climatic sequences ever made. "They're all gonna laugh at you" rings in Carrie's ears after a bucket of pig's blood is dropped on her head...the music goes from extremely happy and glorious to tense and terrifying, the lighting goes from normal to blood red like Carries now blood soaked appearance. We go from feeling sorry for her to feeling sorry for the kids who we thought for one minute might deserve what's coming to them in a few moments. What follows is quite possible the most brilliantly filmed horror sequence ever. Split screening and panning from Sissy Spacek's amazingly tense eyes and face to her victims soon to be lifeless bodies. Then the fire comes in and we realize that these kids have unknowingly unleashed hell on earth. The film keeps going down a very dark road and doesn't disappoint.

Anyway, it's one of the greatest horror films of all time and is totally unforgettable. In the long run its films that you remember fully that stay intact as classics and Carrie is certainly one of them.

The Dead Zone [DVD]
The Dead Zone [DVD]
Dvd ~ Christopher Walken
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £9.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the Better Stephen King Screen Adaptations, 16 July 2007
This review is from: The Dead Zone [DVD] (DVD)
David Cronenberg directs the Stephen King novel about a man who awakes from a coma with a life draining ability to see future tragedies when making contact with people. He also finds he can change these morbid outcomes. The screenplay (not written by Cronenberg or King) remains the films only real flaw besides some questionable supporting cast members. The novel is not a book that would make a perfect story to tell on film so the screenplay sort of stays in the shallow end and spits forth each episode that our hero Johnny Smith expereinces one at a time and without the level of understanding and depth King's book has. That is not to say The Dead Zone isn't a good movie. It's actually a very good movie.

The film remains a semi-classic in the suspense genre. Cronenberg has a way of handling scenes that is very European despite lacking the technical skills of his peers. He can give the actors very specific emotional direction and tell so much with using little or no dialogue. This helps the screenplay because it only offers some flashes of great dialogue. Cronenberg loves taking on films that lack certain aspects and giving them depth in places you never thought could have it. He is a unique force in independant films and earns his stars among the mainstream fans with this film. Martin Sheen surprisingly gives a solid performance here as well. He plays a crooked politician bent on gaining the presidency and earns our hatred quickly. He is actually quite remarkable here.

O.K., now it's time to play favorites. Johnny Smith is played by one of the most identifiable actors of all time. The greatest character and supporting acting of all time in my eyes and here we see him in a rare feature role. He is Christopher Walken and with all the imitations of his wild talk and bizarre off-screen shenanigans aside, he is quite simply an amazing actor. He takes his role very seriously here and turns the film from mediocrity into a very good movie. He takes the character for what readers may have loved about him and that is that he is your every day guy who happened upon some very usual and at times deeply sad just wasn't in the cards or it wasn't meant to be like Smith's Doctor felt. For those who read the novel you'll see subtle references to some of the more robust thinking in the story but never quite enough. There is an underlying message in the film that I really wish wasn't somewhat lost among the communication of the screenplay and the direction. King's novel touches on these things tremendously well and makes us question fate and wonder if time and death is really just so one-dimensional. The film makes you think if you want it to, but not like the novel which is truly one of King's greatest. I honestly believe Walken may have been the only guy on the set who understood this about the story.

If you are looking for a film full of suspense and several exciting climaxes and you like Christopher Walken, then I highly recommend The Dead Zone...but keep in mind that so few King novels have been done real justice with a film and where this is probably not one of them it remains a very good movie. It isn't quite Carrie or The Shining but it is still very good.

Image [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Image [DVD] [1973] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Mary Mendum
Price: £12.84

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 70s Sadomasochistic Cinema, 16 July 2007
Radley Metzger's finest film in many exploitation film fans' eyes. It is certainly an interesting film if for nothing but for it's very existence. It is a rarity to see careful and meticulous hands take on a story that is so explicit and amoral in many viewer's estimation. Metzger is a wizard at his craft, no doubt about that, but it's a shame that his craft was and still is considered to be filth, as this film is by no means mainstream or even nearing social acceptability in terms of even what today's typical NC-17 film offers as far as sexual content limits. This film has scenes that are well past that limit.

The story is about a writer named Jean who meets an old girlfriend named Claire at a party and upon reestablishing some relationship, he finds her life is basically saturated in sadomasochism. Her slave, Anne, is obviously a major part as well and makes for the most insightful character analysis. The film cuts sharply straight into it's themes of dominance and submission in an anterior sense for Jean, in a deeply experienced sense of authority for Claire, and of course in a vulnerable and docile role for Anne. The character commentary is pretty solid, mainly because these kinds of roles are seen so infrequently. I don't want to insinuate that the film is a study, because it's not. It is vintage exploitation, so it's priority's are for the most part elsewhere.

It's difficult to comment on in detail, but this movie pulls off being a decent film while at the same time containing elements that most would think were gratuitous. Let's face it, in today's American Culture any nudity is deemed gratuitous nudity and as artists, film makers are bound to create films that don't touch on so many elements in this area of the human psyche. This is no surprise as films like this one, In the Realm of the Senses, Ken Park, some of Catherine Breillet's work, and many others are often reduced to being called filth despite containing the majority of elements it takes to tell an important story, make a crucial observation and pull at some strong sense of the human spirit. The image does just that.

It also does something all films should consider. That is allow for total freedom of creativity regardless of consequences. Metzger took a story that was about genuinely graphic things and in turn made something few people consider possible, a quality film that explores these unconventional and offensive elements. There are and were some directors who did this, but none I can recall that were quite as carefree as Metzger was for his time. I recommend this film, but do remember that this is a low budget foreign film that one may only come across if ever taken a keen interest in this tiny and bizarre sub-genre.

Kill Bill, Volume 1 [DVD] [2003]
Kill Bill, Volume 1 [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Uma Thurman
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Tarantino's Bloody Epic Revenge Homage to Westerns and Kung-Fu Flicks, 16 July 2007
The brilliant bonding of cultures and the playing of icons and genre clichés against varying taboos back and forth again, make Kill Bill one of the most unforgettable, enjoyable and utterly addictive films of recent date. Its extreme pacing differences from other films are forgivable for me and will likely influence future films just as so many films have influenced Tarantino's fourth. But Kill Bill is by no means entirely derivative. It uses its influences to hook us in and expect ends to come from its common means, only to be bashed over the head by a rain of blood and limbs and some of the most outstanding technical abilities we have seen in any film, much less one about straight revenge and samurai sword wielding death squads. The film gives us situations we've seen before when thought of in perspective, but sort of recycles them, and somehow Tarantino manages to allow these devices to fool us all over again, despite the fact that we know to expect the unexpected from this filmmaker.

Quentin plays icons like aces, and his timing is so exceptional it is understandable that this film was over many viewers' heads. His understanding of pop culture and its subtle subconscious effect on his audience is impeccable to say the least. In Pulp Fiction he makes Vincent Vega enjoyable simply on the basis that we are watching the icon John Travolta play his cool self in a different light than he did in various films of singing and dancing and in television's Welcome Back Cotter. In Jackie Brown he plays Pam Greir's Blaxploitation persona to the tee and she brings her fairly obscure and uncontainable energy to the screen one more time. What is even more amazing is that here he uses the assumed coolness of Uma Thurman carried over to some degree from one of his very own films, and ultimately casts her face, style and look...and that is really all we need to see in his films, isn't it? If only Elvis were alive today, I have a feeling he may be swinging around a sword or a gun in one of Tarantino's films. Quentin's cultural understanding is by no means limited to his cast, it is everywhere. It's fun to write human dialogue about nothing and everyday conversations, like Seinfeld and Kevin Smith, but those who think that is Tarantino's one trick may want to back off of Kill Bill because he doesn't need it much here, and it isn't nearly as apparent.

The cartoonish violence of Kill Bill clearly calls for a certain taste but it is also the first time we are seeing Director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer, Dead or Alive) possibly show up as an influence on Quentin, and not the other way around. It has the feel of watching a live action anime film. The title itself and knowledge that it is a revenge film pretty much sum up the plot. Kill Bill plays off of the old Westerns and the old Samurai and Kung Fu flicks. He even enlists Street Fighter Sonny Chiba as a supreme sword maker to add further to the reminders that this genre was great...and far from dead in Quentin's eyes. Kill Bill is incredibly violent and no punches are pulled. This shows to me that Tarantino doesn't care what people think, he is going to make a Kung Fu movie and he is going to do it on his terms. In the process I think he is just crazy enough to once again change the way movies in general are created. I haven't laughed guiltlessly at violence this much since Evil Dead part 2. Why no guilt laughing at a girl flailing helplessly (and armlessly) spraying blood and screaming on the ground? I really don't know, but I've never killed anybody and probably never will, so don't read too far into it.

Finally, it's just a movie. A simple movie with fighting and fun characters. Some of the greatest films of all time develop characters based on our own stereo-types and judgments of what we know about them and what we are shown. Quentin does that in every one of his films and that is why they work. He doesn't need melodrama or any complexities because that isn't what he sets out to do and it never was. He allows actions and dialogue do that for us and perhaps conveniently it never seems forced upon us. Quentin sheds off pretentious rubbish and plays on what we know as a culture, in order to show us something few films of quality care to do without shame; eye candy, entertainment, blood and guts, and all of it executed with innovation and complete perfection. If you don't like that you might prefer books anyway.

House Of Sand And Fog [DVD] [2004]
House Of Sand And Fog [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Jennifer Connelly
Offered by WorldCinema
Price: £3.79

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Good for It's Performances, 16 July 2007
House of Sand and Fog is a hopeless but convincing tragedy about contested houses and broken pasts. It is morbid and profound enough to keep the riff raff away while also being flat enough to stray from any mainstream. I enjoyed the film for the same reasons critics probably enjoyed it. The film is carried by it's performances first and foremost and almost entirely. One of the more educated knocks on House of Sand and Fog is that the book is simply not really that transferrable toward the movie medium. I never read the book but the film and story stand enough to fuel three of the better performances of that year and also the greatest ensemble considering it's cost.

First is Ben Kingsley who plays Colonel Berani, a man who was forced to flee Iran during it's revolution. He sees a similar home in San Franscisco with regards to it's view (in Iran his home oversaw the Caspian Sea beautifully). This new home was recently repossessed from Kathy, played by the beautiful and talented Jennifer Connelly. I genuinely want Connelley to show her range in the future but House of Sand and Fog is not such an environment. Here, Jennifer plays a women ruined by Alcoholism and being ditched by her husband. She then sparks up an affair with a married police officer named Lester, played by Ron Eldred, and the undermining to throw Berani out of the house begins.

First time Director Vadim Perleman takes a subtle approach in the differences and similarities between the film's main characters. It was enough to make me walk away from the film wanting more but as if by osmosis the film won me over in perspective only days later. Watching the three main characters tangled in their flaws is enough to keep the film compelling. Berani is too proud and deaf to women, Kathy is too eager and manipulative and Lester is too idealistic and blinded by love. They are all ignorant to one another and completely void of empathy. Nadi is Berani's wife and she is played by the outstanding Shohreh Aghdashloo. Nadi is one of the only really likeable characters, because she is also the only one who sees the other's sides, but she is restrained by her submissiveness and her lack of English. Though heavy handed enough to obtain a brooding feeling that tragedy is inevitable, watching these characters fall is worth the wait if you appreciate this sort of film.

Kingsly proves his versatility once again and upstages Connelly in that regard by a long shot. Connelly really just invokes the roles she's been celebrated for before this movie, although she is still quite effective and it revisits her type-casts a bit deeper. It is Aghdashloo that truely stands out and I viewed this film and her performance after the hype with some degree of suspicion. She is excellent.

Overall, House of Sand and Fog is a downer. It wasn't as good as I hoped, given both the indie hype prior to it's release and the mainstream hype during and after it's release, but it was still pretty good. The cast alone makes the film worth watching but I would still imagine we will see more from Perleman in the future as well.

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