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Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...)

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10 Things I Hate About You [DVD] [1999]
10 Things I Hate About You [DVD] [1999]
Dvd ~ Heath Ledger
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £7.84

5.0 out of 5 stars A very good surprise - a teenage dating comedy, which is actually good, charming, full of wit and completly free of obscenities, 27 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I haven't been a teenager for a long time now and therefore romantic comedies about teenage dating are really, REALLY not my usual poison. But this one, inspired by "Taming of the shrew", I found EXCELLENT and I spend a really good moment watching it! Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

The story follows initially Shakespeare quite closely, even if the action takes place in American high school, in our times. By the orders of her father Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) can start dating only once her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) gets also a date. The only problem is that Kat, although a very attractive girl and definitely not uninterested in men, is such a shrew that no boy is ready to go anywhere near her. Then one day Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a new student, fells in love with Bianca. Following the advice of his friend Michael (David Krumholtz) he hires local "bad boy" Patrick (Heath Ledger) to seduce Kat - and therefore open him the way to ask Bianca out. From that moment the story diverges quite a lot from Shakespeare's original, as it can be expected - and I will not say anything more about it.

The greatest asset of this film is a strong scenario, full of good dialogs and tasty jokes but lacking any kind of obscenities. Let's stress it again, the two key words of this scenario are "GOOD TASTE". This film is many levels above typical teenage dating comedies, which are usually full of gross, embarassing and frequently obscene moments.

The cast is excellent. Julia Stiles is SPLENDID, both in beuaty and talent, every inch as good as later in "Dexter" when she played Lumen. It is really a pity that she didn't have a better career in Hollywood... Young Heath Ledger is AMAZING and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Charlie Krumholtz are very good. Gabrielle Union adds her glorious beauty to the show in a smaller role and special mention goes to Susan May Pratt who plays Julia's only friend, a girl completely obsessed with Shakespeare. Three other characters add a lot to this film: Bianca and Kat's father (Larry Miller), Ms Perky (Allison Janney), school guidance counsellor with a quite unique side business and last but definitely not least Mr Morgan (Daryl Mitchell), a very competent, very black and totally amazing English literature teacher.

The chemistry between two main characters is very credible, the ending is not only touching but plausible and the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic - it is a real pleasure to listen to it.

Bottom line, this is a very good romantic comedy, clever, well made, without embarassing, obscene or gross moments and at the end we are left feeling really good. Bloopers mixed to the credits are also a recommended viewing. ENJOY!

Sergeant Rutledge (El Sargento Negro) Spanish Import, plays in English
Sergeant Rutledge (El Sargento Negro) Spanish Import, plays in English
Dvd ~ Woody Strode
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: £17.87

5.0 out of 5 stars A deadly fight against the Apaches in the desert - and an even deadlier one against all odds in the courtroom..., 23 Dec 2014
Of all John Ford's westerns this is the only one with the main hero being black and the only one which action is situated mostly in the courtroom - and in fact it is as much a judicial drama as a western.

This film was made in 1960 and its beginning, which even today can be a little bit scary, was even more controversial in those times. During a dark moonless night, at a deserted train station in the middle of nowhere, a young white woman is suddenly brutaly grabbed and overpowered by a gigantic black man with a menacing face and blood on his clothes. And things get then even worse, because we soon learn that this man, Sergeant Braxton Rutledge, is a deserter and a fugitive, wanted for brutal rape and horrible murder of a white teenage girl and also for the murder of her father - who was also his commanding officer...

I will say no more, but believe me, this film contains many brutal and shocking twists and surprises, which are only very slowly (but always very logically) explained, with the final shocker coming only at the very end. The timeline in the film is somehow similar to the later "Man who killed Liberty Valance", but even more complicated - there are many comings and goings between events which happened in the past and the "present time" courtroom in which witnesses take turns to tell the story. Some events are also described by different witnesses in a different way, a little bit like in "Rashomon", although here there is no doubt about the real truth - at the very end of the film things are established with absolute certainty.

This western was one of the very first to picture the "Buffalo soldiers", black men (sometimes former slaves) who served in US Cavalry in the plains during Indian Wars and it shows them with a great respect - and also some quite tender humour...

This is also one of more brutal films in the whole John Ford's career. The crime which is the central piece of the film is absolutely horrible and the violence of ongoing war against the Apaches is described in pretty graphic words (no images though - this is an old film). During some of the scenes in the desert, the fear felt by black soldiers and white farmers is almost unbearable, as the arrival of Apache raiders in the area surprised everybody and pending the arrival of military reinforcement, they have the upper hand - and they are known for horribly torturing people they capture alive...

Even if on the poster of the film his name was put only in the fourth position, the real star of this film is the black actor Woody Strode (1914-1994), who plays Sergeant Rutledge. This very tall and athletic man with a quite threatening face played in quite a lot of Hollywood films, albeit mostly in second roles. Before going to Hollywood he was an Olympic level athlete and his nude painting was even displayed during Berlin 1936 games (and was pretty fast removed from public's view on Hitler's personal order...). His film career started with a western (a cameo in "Stagecoach" in 1939) and ended with another western (a cameo in "The quick and the dead" in 1995 - the film was released soon after his death). Other than those films, he also appeared in "The Ten Commandments" (a cameo as King of Ethiopia), "Pork Chop Hill", "Spartacus" (Draba, the black gladiator who fought Kirk Douglas), "The man who shot Liberty Valance" (Pompey), "The professionals" (Jake Sharp, the mercenary with the bow), "Once upon a time in the West" (Stony, the gunfighter with the sawed off Winchester, who waits for Charles Bronson in the legendary train station scene) and in a great number of lesser movies. He also played a lot the villains opposing Tarzan, and almost always dying horribly as result...))) A great friend of John Ford, married to a real Hawaian princess, he had a long, well filled and pretty succesful life.

The second major star of the film is Jeffrey Hunter, who in 1960 was at the beginning of what seemed as a very promising career - and he indeed was to star in some important movies and even play the main role of Captain Pike in the pilot of "Star Trek" (the legendary "Cage"), before his untimely and tragic death in 1969. He does a great job in this film as the counsel for the defense and possibly the ONLY MAN in the courtroom who doesn't want to simply hang Sergeant Rutledge and be done with it...

All other actors, mostly experienced veterans from "Ford's Company", also did a great job. Although very dramatic and for those times pretty brutal, "Sergeant Rutledge" contains also some pretty funny moments, quite typical for John Ford's sense of humor. The testimony of the wife of the old colonel who presides the court martial is an absolutely marvelous moment of great comedy in the middle of a great tragedy...)))

I watched this movie for the first time when I was just a kid and recently I was very pleased to see that it didn't age AT ALL. It is an excellent, very original, very intelligent and very surprising film. Enjoy!

The Emperor and the Assassin - Region 0 - Mei Ah (Gong Li / Zhang Feng Yi)
The Emperor and the Assassin - Region 0 - Mei Ah (Gong Li / Zhang Feng Yi)
Offered by Revival Books Ltd
Price: £49.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "When the map is unrolled, the dagger is revealed", 23 Dec 2014
This old Chinese wisdom, which can be understood in many different ways, all very instructive, was inspired by THE most famous assassination attempt in history of China, which occurred in year 226 BC - the attack of Jing Ke from Kingdom of Yan on King Ying Zheng, ruler of Qin, who was later to become Qin Shihuangdi, the First Emperor of China. This most excellent film, directed by the renowned Chen Kaige (he also made "Farewell my concubine"), describes the background to this archifamous episode, all the preparations for the assassination, the event itself and its consequences.

The story sticks as much as possible to the description of events in the ancient chronicle by Sima Qian, who was writing 120 years later, when the memory of this incident was still very much alive (although already covered in legend). So, before watching this movie, here is, very shortly, the reminder of the REAL story, as Sima Qian described it. In year 226 BC, the kingdom of Qin just finished swallowing the kingdoms of Han and Zhao and therefore reached an exceptionnal level of power. The remaining Chinese kingdoms of Yan, Wei, Qi and Chu were unable to reach an agreement on alliance against the agressive superpower and remained passive and divided. Dan, the crown prince of Yan, faced with the indecision of his own father and certain that his country would be next to be attacked, decided to organise the assassination of the ruler of Qin. For that purpose he found a volunteer amongst the noblemen from his attendance to perform a suicide mission - the name of this man was Jing Ke. He was to go to Qin to pay respects to king Ying Zheng and bring him two gifts - the head of a Qin dissident who searched asylum in Yan and a wonderful map of Yan painted on silk. Both maps and the heads of enemies were widely known as being weak spots of Qin's ruler and therefore the crown prince of Yan was almost certain that Jing Ke would obtain a personal audience with the king and would be allowed to personally open and display the map - in which was hidden a deadly secret...

In the film the character of Jing Ke was somehow changed and was mixed with another famous Chinese assassin from those times, but otherwise the film respects quite well the letter and spirit of ancient chronicles. Other elements from Sima Qian monumental work are also well taken into account - it is known, that king's favourite concubine was from the kingdom of Zhao and in the film the Lady of Zhao (Gong Li) plays indeed a very great role. Chen Kaige took for himself the important role of Chancellor Lu Buwei, who according to a very tenacious rumor was in fact king's Ying Zheng real father... Other famous authentic persons appear in the film, like Lao Ai, a "false" eunuque, and also general Fan Wuji, the dissident from Qin who willingly accepts to kill himself so his head can serve as bait for king's Ying Zheng assassination...

I found this movie absolutely fascinating! It's definitely better than any other Chinese film about ancient history, for many reasons, of which not the least is that there is NO idiotic kung fu stunts! You will not find here people flying and floating over the trees, no martial arts displays, no "magic" secret weapons - the fights, when showed, are realistic. There is also no clear divide between villains and "good guys" (the thing that horribly hurt the "Three Kingdoms") - there are harsh realities of politics, strategy and war.

Actors are simply stunning, the scenario is waterproof and the fidelity to the ancient historical sources is very well respected. And the story in extremely powerful and leaves us with more questions than answers, which allows for a lot of reflection on the nature of power, good, evil, loyalty, crime, punishment and atonement. I absolutely recommend this movie as an obligatory viewing for anybody interested in Ancient China and its history. Enjoy!

Waterworld [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Waterworld [DVD] [1995] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Kevin Costner

3.0 out of 5 stars A watered down version of "Mad Max 2" - twice as long but only half as good, 22 Dec 2014
I found this SF/adventure film watchable, but definitely not as good as it should have been, considering the huge budget and the talent of all involved. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Somewhere in XXI century waters started to rise and ultimately engulfed all the lands, transforming Earth in a planet-ocean - the Waterworld. With time surviving human communities, living on floating atolls or roaming the sea on board of frail ships (this latter category is called Drifters), forgot about the past and the very idea of emerged land is now considered as a myth. Waterworld is a very tough place to live and the danger from predatory nomadic communities, like Slavers and Smokers, makes the existence even more precarious.

It is in those settings that we meet the Mariner (Kevin Costner), a particularly skilled and powerful Drifter. He owns a beautiful and very fast trimaran, which can outrun virtually any other ship. The film begins when Mariner goes to one of floating artificial atolls to trade. There he meets, amongst others, atoll's sheriff (R.D. Call), a huge, brutish Drifter named Nord (Gerard Murphy), a local woman named Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn, splendid!) and her adoptive 10 years old daughter Enola (Tina Majorino). And then the film really begins...

"Waterworld", which was I believe supposed to be a kind of "Mad Max 2" on water, is not exactly a bad film - it is in fact watchable, interesting in some moments and entertaining in others. Kevin Costner, an actor I am usually not very fond of, plays here well and his grumpy, crabby, unfriendly, frequently (but NOT entirely) unpleasant and very, very lonely Mariner is quite credible. Jeanne Tripplehorn, a good actress and one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood (for my personal taste, in "Basic Instinct" it was SHE who was THE hot one, not Sharon Stone) is a real pleasure to watch. Little Tina Majorino played also very well and, unlike so many child characters in adventure movies, her Enola is an asset to the story rather than a problem.

However, even with all those good points, the film ultimately disappoints. It is absolutely nowhere near the level of two great classics of post-apocalyptic genre: "Mad Max 2" and "Escape from New York". I was very disappointed when I saw it in cinema in 1995 and recently, after purchasing and watching the Region 1 NTSC 179 minutes extended version (WARNING: it will NOT play on European Region 2 PAL DVD equipment), I could only confirm this first feeling. It is a cruel disappointment, because in principle the director, Kevin Reynolds, should have aced this film, as he made earlier two ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT movies, "The beast" and "Rapa Nui" (they are both on my list of great favourites). BUT he also made earlier "Robin Hood, prince of thieves", definitely the sh--tiest "Robin Hood" film ever - and in this movie, very sadly, he made many of the same mistakes.

The greatest problem of "Waterworld" is the absolute failure in the bad guys chapter. Already in "Robin Hood" both the Sheriff and the Witch were a parody - but here it is actually worse. The Smokers are totally pathetic and their leader, the Deacon (Dennis Hopper) is simply ridiculous! When one remembers Humungus and Wez from "Mad Max 2" or the Duke of New York City and Rehme from "Escape from New York" and then looks at Deacon and his main sidekick - well, one wants to sit down and weep...

Let's not even talk about the "ideology" of Smokers, who, other than being predatory bandits, are supposed to be even more evil because they 1) smoke cigarettes 2) use fossil fuels 3) seem to be influenced by Christianity (organised in a "parish" led by a "deacon") 4) refuse to control the growth of their population (on atolls "illegal" babies are killed - but Smokers refuse to do that) 5) worship Captain Joseph Hazelwood, the unfortunate skipper of "Exxon Valdez", as "Saint Joe" (there is actually a reason for that) 6) want to find land to build an 18-holes golf course on it (I am not kidding!). At another moment the Deacon insists, with an evil grin, that theirs is the society of "continuous growth"... I rather appreciated the strong environmentalist message Kevin Reynolds placed in "Rapa Nui" (an infinitely better film) - but here it is so over the top that it becomes completely ridiculous.

Continuing on the bad guys. Kevin Reynolds made an ENORMOUS BLUNDER giving them massive firepower. Possible the first rule to observe in post-apocalyptic adventure movies is: "Remove the firearms!". It was in part the vision of a world with modern vehicles but Middle Age weaponry that made the success of "Mad Max 2" and "Escape from New York". The removal of almost all firearms helped also to create uniquely tense action scenes and to introduce the concept of "magical weapons" in the modern world. Indeed, the one revolver and its precious handful of rounds owned by Humungus and Max's sawed off shotgun and its one, last cartridge in "Mad Max 2", are precious, cherished possessions, which make a great difference in the world of bows, arrows and war clubs. In "Escape from New York", Snake Plissken's MAC 10 and revolver made him into a great power in a place until then ruled by crossbows and knives. And in "The road" father's revolver (plus its two last cartridges) is the supreme "magical weapon" which keeps the darkness at bay...

Here on another hand we have dozens and dozens of "bad guys" with firearms, some of them even with fully automatic weapons - in fact they even have calibre 0.50 heavy machine guns, and TONS of ammo for all this heat! This firepower immediately removes all interest from the one big battle scene, because what possible chance can have a community armed with harpoons, crossbows, spears, clubs and knives against an army lavishly equipped with firearms... This presence of massive firepower keeps hurting this film also later.

Pathetic, lame action scenes are another great weakness. Some SPOILERS AHEAD! Other than the terribly disappointing atoll battle, the final confrontation between Mariner and the Smokers is amongst the most laughable things I ever saw on the screen and the way in which Smokers floating fortress is destroyed is amongst the biggest let downs in action/adventure cinema. I appreciated also the cowardice of the director, who first insisted in the film that Smokers are doomed because they have too many children, but when their society is shown and then mercilessly obliterated, many hundreds of adult men and women appear - but absolutely no kids are shown... Because we would have obviously some trouble to relate with "the hero" after he incinerated alive hundreds of pre-teens, children, toddlers, infants and new-borns...

The director also used 175 million dollars to make this film - and we do not see it really on the screen. There is one floating atoll, some small ships and they are OK, but nothing else. There is also one huge floating fortress and it could have been a great and fascinating place - but it appears ultimately rather shortly and is poorly made. Also, everything is dirty, primitive and very much used, as it should be, but without any kind of originality or attempt at colour, grotesque or humour (unlike in "Mad Max 2" and "Escape from New York"). Unnecessary gross factor was added, like the filtering of urine into potable water and the scene in which Kevin Costner takes a (forced) bath in excrements...

This unique kind of world could have also been a much more fascinating place, but the scenario avoids mostly all possibilities offered. We see, just for a second, one and only one of the creatures living in the ocean and there is also a dead shark being cut in pieces shown at another moment - and that is all we see about animal life on Waterworld. Some traditions are shown or hinted, but only in very short glimpses.

I hoped that the EXTENDED VERSION would show more about Waterworld - but to my considerable surprise, the 40 minutes of added footage ultimately... don't add almost anything, it is mostly just unnecessary filler! Also, the extended version is in fact the TV version of this film and therefore was CENSORED - the few strong language moments were removed as was the short and rather innocent scene in which Helen's naked back is shown (in cinema version it is not Jeanne Tripplehorn who appears in this scene, but a stuntwoman).

In fact, the best scenes are those describing the relations between Mariner, Helen and Enola during their common voyage, as well as their meeting with one of Drifters - this part of the film is actually pretty good. The atoll life scenes are not bad and the very ending is quite honest. The rest however is mostly disappointing and sometimes really, really bad...

Bottom line, this is only an average, watchable, less than half-successful film, recommended mostly to amateurs of SF/adventure movies, but rather to see once and to rent rather than buy. I usually don't like remakes at all, but for "Waterworld" I would be ready to make an exception - if Hollywood decided to make another try at the same topic, I wouldn't say no and I would probably go to see it.

The Host [DVD]
The Host [DVD]
Dvd ~ Saoirse Ronan
Price: £4.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Soul looks for her host's soulmate. A Soul finds him, her own soulmate and their mates. Then Soul, host and soulmates all mate, 19 Dec 2014
This review is from: The Host [DVD] (DVD)
I found this SF/romance movie surprisingly good and interesting, not a masterpiece, but a very honest thing indeed. It came as a surprise, as I didn't like the book AT ALL. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Earth, near future. Our world have been conquered by very advanced alien race, who call themselves Souls. Those invaders are small parasites, unable to survive for extended periods of time outside the bodies of their hosts (if removed they must be quickly placed in special survival containers - or die). With time Souls evolved in such a way, that their hosts must be sapient creatures themselves (at least, if I correctly understood this).

Having acquired the technology of starflight they started to expand, conquering more and more worlds - Earth is just their last prize. However, on our planet they meet for the first time an unexpected challenge, as some hosts minds remain alive and active even after Souls invaded and took control of their bodies. This creates a very uncomfortable situation, for both the host mind and the Soul...

This film tells the story and tribulations of one such unhappy "couple" - a young human girl, Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan) and an ancient, experienced Soul known as "Wanderer". All this covers like the first 5 minutes of the film and I will say no more about the rest.

Before reviewing the film, I must state here loud and clear that I read and HATED the book, as it was much, much too long (656 frigging pages!) with definitely not enough story to justify its length. Not only it was long winded and boring but it was also rather poorly written - which is a surprise as the "Twilight" books were actually rather good and I liked them (yes, I am THE ONE heterosexual grown up married man on the whole planet who liked both "Twilight" books and movies). I managed to finish this 656 pages long tedious brick but it was really an ordeal...

The film is MUCH BETTER. The book was long winded - the film is, quite obviously, much shorter. The book made unending spirals, circles and other (not always Euclidean) figures around every development - the film action is quite to the point. The story in the book took every possible and imaginable detour and bifurcation and also drove into every possible pothole - in the film it was smoothed and streamlined, for the greatest benefit of the viewer. In fact the scenarist removed all the blah, when preserving all the main story intact - and that did to this film a lot of good. Kudos to Andrew Niccol for the scenario.

Actors were selected VERY well! Saoirse Ronan was an excellent choice for the main role and she completely ACED it. I saw this young Irish actress in "City of Ember", "The way back" and "Byzantium" and she always impressed me. Her character, exactly as Bella in "Twilight", is a deceptively average gal who finds herself the object of attention of... well, more than one rather not average young gentlemen... And exactly as with Bella in "Twilight" we come ultimately to realise that she is definitely NOT average - AT ALL! It takes a special kind of beauty to play such a character and indeed, nobody would ever mistake Saoirse Ronan for a Victoria's Secret mannequin. However the power of her "smart+talented=sexy" appeal is such that she can easily outstage most of Hollywood lookers - and match the others...

Max Irons (already good in "Red Riding Hood") and Jake Abel (whom I never saw in anything before) play respectively Jared and Ian, who are the Edward/Jacob team (sorry, I couldn't resist) of this film. They also do a good job, but their roles are ultimately not so hard...

William Hurt is absolutely excellent in his role of wise, aged, shotgun carrying uncle Jebediah Stryder who is the benevolent, reasonable, paternalistic, pretty deadly and quite scary ancestor ruling an underground (in all possible meanings of this term) kingdom...

Diane Kruger ("Ich bin Helen von Droy, und I vound Vreemazons Dreazure, ja?") shines absolutely (in every possible meaning of this term) as a high ranking officer of special police of Souls, the Seekers. Known simply as The Seeker (although I couldn't stop thinking of her as "Ve Zeeker, ja?") she quickly develops a special interest in The Wanderer/Melanie Stryder case - and she actually has her own very good reasons for that... In the book, the body The Seeker occupied was a petite brunette, here quite obviously the director made the choice of a whole different enchilada - and it did this film a lot of good, especially considering that Seekers for some reason wear always immaculately white, top fashion clothes...

Emily Browning appears briefly towards the end (I am not saying anything about her character) bringing to this film her talent and her unique, unconventional kind of beauty. Kudos to Andrew Niccol for the choice of actors and wardrobe.

The film is well made, with relatively few obvious plot holes which appear mostly in the one, short action scene. The stupidity of this scene resides in long, persistent shooting against a target that is OBVIOUSLY bullet proof, to the point of running out of bullets when a softer hostile target appears... But this scene is ultimately not so important and can be easily disregarded. The rest of the story actually more or less makes sense, it is skilfully narrated and illustrated and contains also a couple of very quotable lines ("kiss me like you wanna to get slapped!"). Kudos to Andrew Niccol for directing.

Bottom line this is a good, very honest SF film combined, like in "Twilight", with an obviously unusual interspecies romance. It's just that here, unlike the "Twilight" triangle ("should I go for dead guy groove or doggy style?") we have a slightly more complex figure... To my surprise, I liked it and I spend a good moment watching it. Recommended to all SF amateurs and all those who like somehow unusual romances... ENJOY!

Fantastic Voyage [DVD]
Fantastic Voyage [DVD]
Dvd ~ Stephen Boyd
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good films don't really age - they just gain vintage charm. And this voyage is still FANTASTIC!, 18 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fantastic Voyage [DVD] (DVD)
EXCELLENT! One of best SF/adventure films ever and a real monument of cinema! I always LOVED this 1966 film and recently I was happy to confirm, that it didn't age AT ALL and is still a great watch! Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Cold War. United States and the Soviet Union are both intensely working on technology of miniaturization of matter by shrinking individual atoms. Czech scientist Jan Benes, working under duress for the Soviets, made a great breakthrough, but doesn't want Moscow to have this technology. With the help of the CIA, he escaped to the West, but an attempted assassination leaves him comatose with a nearly impossible to remove blood clot in his brain.

The only way to save his life is to operate from INSIDE his skull. It is decided to use the experimental miniaturization technology to reduce a small submersible, the "Proteus" as well as its crew, and introduce it into Benes body. The crew must then bring "Proteus" into Benes brain, remove the clot and evacuate before the miniaturization ends - indeed, at that time it is possible to miniaturize things and people just for 60 minutes...

An ad hoc team is assembled for this mission: Captain Bill Owens (William Redfield) - pilot; Dr. Michaels (Donald Pleasence) - mission medical commander; Dr. Peter Duval (Arthur Kennedy) - brain surgeon; Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch) - assistant to the brain surgeon. Last but not least there is also CIA agent Charles Grant (Stephen Boyd), who is there - well, initially, we don't know why, but it will quickly turn out it was a good idea to place him on board... All that takes care of about ten first minutes of the film - and then the fantastic voyage begins and I will say nothing more...

This is an almost perfect SF/adventure film, one of the best ever made! The vision of inside of human body as an alien, unknown universe is glorious and even today, after almost 50 years, makes a certain impression. For its technical aspect this film got two Oscars (Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects) and there is no question that they were TOTALLY DESERVED! The all shattering power of human heart, lungs hurricanes, earquakes (yes, you read well, it is NOT a typo) as well as merciless wars of extermination waged in this innerspace - all of this still connects with the viewer BIG TIME. And then there is of course the fact that human beings, once removed from their comfort zone, find quite quickly that all masters of creation that they may be, for some... well, things... they are just a new and welcome source of yummy proteins...))) As all not yet fully explored and mapped territories, the inside of human body also has "HERE BE DRAGONS" warning written on some more remote corners...

Even if in principle Stephen Boyd, whose character is the muscle, security and counter-intelligence guy, was supposed to be the main star of the film, he is frequently outstaged by actors playing other members of the crew, especially one of greatest Hollywood workaholics extraordinaires, Donald Pleasance (the other one was Ernest Borgnine). Raquel Welch shapes are also used to the greatest possible extent (she keeps putting and taking off her diving suit).

The scenario is strong, characters act mostly rationally, there are some twists (some of them really surprising and cruel) and as the clock is ticking, there is a real suspense in this film. The crew of "Proteus" faces many great dangers and must use some fast thinking to survive and accomplish their mission and it is not so easy to immediately find some plot holes. This scenario should be studied by present day Hollywood writers - they could learn A LOT from it...

Another thing you must know before watching this film - THERE WILL BE BLOOD! In fact even more, this is LITERALLY the most drenched in haemoglobin movie EVER! OK, I stop here. Sorry for that, I couldn't resist...)))

Once again, this is a VERY GOOD SF/adventure film, old but NOT AGED one little bit! I tried once to imagine how a modern remake would look - and I shivered in terror... Thanks God nobody ever dared to take another shot at this masterpiece - and let it stay that way. BUY IT, SEE IT, KEEP IT and never let it go. ENJOY!

Tideland [2006] [DVD]
Tideland [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeff Bridges
Offered by Rare Dvds
Price: £17.98

2.0 out of 5 stars Watching this film was like swimming in mental vomit - regurgitated by a morbidly sick mind..., 8 Dec 2014
This review is from: Tideland [2006] [DVD] (DVD)
This is the first Terry Gilliam's film which I didn't like at all. Even if by making "Tideland" Gilliam clearly proved once again that he really knows how to make films, I found the whole story absolutely gross, deeply sick and morally REPULSIVE and I was hardly able to finish watching it.

This film is about 11 year old Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland). When we meet her first she lives in some large city, in a miserable dump with her very poor and absolutely abject parents. Her father, Noah (Jeff Bridges), is an aging, struggling musician, who in his better moments knows how to invent cool games and tell a good story - and we could maybe feel some sympathy for him, if he wasn't a drug addict, who trained Jeliza-Rose when she was still a little girl to prepare his daily injection of heroine... We never learn the real name of her mother (Jennifer Tilly) - Jeliza-Rose and Noah just call her "Queen Gunhilda" - but it is clear from the first moments of the film that she is a totally degenerate junkie, hardly even able to function anymore... Then, a couple of minutes into the film, something happens and as a result Noah and Jeliza-Rose take a trip to rural Texas. They go to the place where Noah was born - and then the film really begins.

This being a Terry Gilliam film, from the technical point of view everything is done very well. Images are actually pretty impressive, the story (even if it is sick and perverted) flows harmoniously and also actors were selected well and encouraged to perform with skill. Especially great praise must be given to Jodelle Ferland who was only 11 years old at that time - and did an incredible job.

A precision here, concerning the character of Noah, played by Jeff Bridges. Some reviewers said that he reminded them of Dude from "Big Lebowski" - but I strongly disagree! Dude, albeit by his own decision a marginal, was actually a rather likeable and certainly harmless, well, dude... Noah on another hand is really a piece of human garbage - with hardly any redeeming traits...

The scenario however is, well, I guess the only possible word to describe the scenario is SICK! In his films Terry Gilliam always had a very personal relationship with reality and it will come as no surprise that large parts of "Tideland" happen actually in some... unusual states of mind. Usually, this actually makes the charm of his movies - and yes, here also, the imaginary world of a very unhappy and probably slightly unbalanced child, is indeed a more pleasant place than the reality. Most of the story however describes precisely this real reality - and it is simply repugnant to watch! You take the grossest parts of "Jabberwocky", the most disturbingly insane parts of "Brazil", the most cruel elements ot "12 Monkeys" and you will get the idea. Add to this the fascination with deformed bodies and minds, throw in sexual perversions and you will have a general idea of how gross this film is. There are moments we can actually almost really SMELL the decaying bodies and rotten minds...

Every time I thought that this film couldn't go deeper into gross and abject, I was wrong - with every next ten minutes, this film gets more disgusting. SPOILER ALERT HERE! I am shocked that Terry Gilliam could show on the screen an 11 year old girl kissing - by no means innocently - a grown up man (and the fact that this character is supposed to be mentally handicapped doesn't change anything). I am also shocked that an 11 year old child was asked to play scenes in which she mixes drugs and cuddles a (supposedly) dead decaying body... I am even more shocked that her parents accepted that...

Once again, I must grant to Terry Gilliam, that he knows how to make films and even that one can actually cause a kind of morbid fascination. But still, this is an abject thing. For the life of me I cannot understand why Terry Gilliam made "Tideland" and why did he have to put an 11 year old girl through the filming of this... this... thing... This is clearly the sickest and the most depraved of his films and I am sorry that I watched it. AVOID!

War Hunt [DVD]
War Hunt [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Saxon
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £5.08

5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a badly damaged man, who found his real place in the world - in the "no man's land", between two hostile armies, 5 Dec 2014
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This review is from: War Hunt [DVD] (DVD)
I liked A LOT this little known 1962 black and white war movie. It is an independent production made on a little budget with actors who were then completely unknown, but it packs TERRIFIC punch. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

Near the end of the Korean War a new replacement, Private Loomis (Robert Redford), is assigned to an infantry company in the front line. He soon meets a quiet fellow soldier, Private Endore (John Saxon) and is quickly warned by others in the company not to speak to him. It appears that Endore is a very peculiar and quite scary fellow, who has a gift to infiltrate enemy lines to observe and gather information - but he also hunts and kills isolated enemy soldiers... Company commander Captain Pratt (Charles Aidman) lets Endore go on those "hunting" raids because he appreciates the intelligence he brings back. But ultimately this situation must bring trouble...

The making of this film was in itself a kind of adventure in cinematographic guerrilla, as it was in large part a huge improvisation by a bunch of pals. Brothers Denis and Terry Sanders managed to gather 250 thousand dollars to produce an independent war film - the former also directed - and it turned out quickly that it wasn't enough. In order to dissimulate this lack of means, they put most of the action of the film at night. As their wages were lower, actors who usually appeared on TV were hired like John Saxon, Charles Aidman, Gavin MacLeod (Private Crotty), William Challee (the battalion commander) and especially young and at that time almost completely unknown Robert Redford, for whom it was the first credited cinema role ever.

Another young TV actor, a certain Sydney Pollack, also got a part - he plays Sergeant Van Horn. It was during the work on "War Hunt" that he met and befriended Robert Redford - and the rest is part of history of cinema ("Jeremiah Johnson", "Three days of Condor", "Out of Africa")... The role of Sergeant Showalter went to a complete beginner, for whom it was the first role ever in anything, a guy named Tom Skerritt... Some friends of the producers also gave a hand for free, like a certain Francis Ford Coppola, who at that time was a struggling assistant director to Roger Corman - in this film he plays an (uncredited) role of a truck driver.

Pentagon was asked to provide some assistance in making of this film, this was however gently but firmly refused, as US Army public relations department was incensed by the scenario. Their objections concerned mostly the very idea that a company commander (an officer with at least eight years of experience) could allow one of his soldiers to wage a kind of "private war" and also dispense this man from observing any regular military discipline and regulations - and honestly, I can understand that.

I still think however that it is a pity that US Army didn't help with this film, because even if it tells a pretty powerful story, it is actually surprisingly moderate in its general tone concerning all things military. If we except the captain who plays a dangerous game with a clearly unstable soldier, all the rest of military institution actually works logically and rather efficiently. As this is clear now that war will end very soon, high ranking officers and professional NCOs try very hard to prevent any further needless casualties. When battle is joined, all differences and grudges are momentarily forgotten and everybody stands shoulder to shoulder, against the common enemy. Officers really care about the welfare of their soldiers. The battalion commander is a clever, grizzled old war horse, who instantly understands that Endore is a huge problem the moment he sets his eyes on him. The captain, a rather likeable guy by the way, certainly messes up the situation, but even him, once things turn badly, will own up to his errors and will try to correct them - at no small risk for his own life... At no moment it is suggested that army or war made Endore into a killer - in fact quite to the contrary, we quickly realise that this guy arrived on the front already irremediably damaged, before even his first killing. Etc. etc.

There are of course some plot holes. The biggest one is the fact that Endore could "hunt" for many months in the same sector of the front. The Chinese soldiers in Korean War were dangerous, ruthless and resourceful opponents - they would never allow such a situation to last for months. Even in the worse, laziest army of the world engaged in such a static long term war, when one sentry manning an advanced post is killed at night, the vigilance is doubled. If two such incidents occur, few men will sleep at night after that - most of them will be waiting for enemy infiltrators, with their weapons ready to shoot (they can later sleep by shifts after sun rises). If three such killings happen, any commanding officer worth his salt will do EVERYTHING in his power to prevent more such casualties. It means that further infiltrations will be met by new minefields, better and more numerous booby traps, more frequent illumination, ambushes, snipers, aggressive counter-patrolling, pre-sighted machine gun, mortar or even artillery fire at the slightest alert, quite possibly retaliatory counter-raiding and certainly all other possible counter-measures I didn't think off. When the enemy is forewarned, ready, armed and on full alert, no matter how good the infiltrators are, they will be detected and vigorously countered (even the Predator, with all its alien camouflage technology and superhuman skills, got clipped in an ambush after his second killing). BUT, this film is so good, that even this ENORMOUS plot hole doesn't affect in any way my five star rating.

This is a REALLY GOOD war film and a REALLY GOOD war time story. I will certainly keep my DVD for another viewing in the future. ENJOY!

There Will Be Blood [DVD] [2007]
There Will Be Blood [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Daniel Day-Lewis
Price: £4.00

2.0 out of 5 stars A horribly disappointing pile of freakishly weird ugly nonsense - even grandiose acting by Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't save it..., 3 Dec 2014
I didn't like this film AT ALL and count it amongst the most disappointing viewing experiences of my life. It is a pity, as it included a great performance by Daniel Day-Lewis - but no actor, no matter how good, can save a film with such a horribly bad, nonsensical scenario.

This film tells the story of the very beginnings of oil business. We first meet the main character, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) in 1898, when he is digging in the desert, all by himself, looking for oil. The only thing I will say here about what follows, is that, quite obviously, he will ultimately manage to create and then develop a drilling company and also that of course, there will be many difficulties ahead - as it is quite clearly shown on the cover of the DVD.

The first 25 minutes are actually VERY good. If only the whole film could be on the same level, it would be a total masterpiece! However, from the moment the character of Eli Sunday (Paul Dano) arrives on the screen, the whole story takes a turn into freakishly weird. Even worse, the main character also starts to act like a mad man, followed by everybody around him. The whole thing slows down and gets boring. The dialogs become crazy speech. Then an unexpected development happens - and then as suddenly as it began this new plot line is cut off. And then we go full speed towards the ending which is IMPOSSIBLY STUPID!

This film was supposed to be an adaptation of 1927 novel "Oil" by Upton Sinclair. I didn't read this book, but the director himself recognized that ultimately "There will be blood" cannot be considered as an adaptation and that Sinclair's book was only an inspiration. I think that this total departure from the original was one of the reasons why this film is such a disappointment. I certainly never shared far-left and extremely anti-Christian views of Upton Sinclair, but just judging from the synopsis of his book, it is clear that "Oil" at least had some coherent logic in it - whereas this film is just freakishly weird chaos...

Thanks God I didn't buy it, just rented - but still it was a waste of money and watching this thingy was a total loss of time, as the only impression I was left with was disgust and disappointment. Two stars just for Daniel Day-Lewis. AVOID THIS THINGY!

Alien Planet [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Alien Planet [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Wayne D. Barlowe
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic, fascinating and deeply moving exploration by robotic probes of exoplanet Darwin IV, a fictitious living alien world, 2 Dec 2014
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I liked a lot this 2005 Discovery Channel production, which for me is in fact a SF film disguised as a "docufiction". Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.

This is the story of robotic probes send by humanity to explore the exoplanet Darwin IV, situated 6,5 light years from Earth. An interstellar robotic spacecraft named Von Braun, traveling at 20% the speed of light (37,000 miles/s), reaches Darwin IV in 42 years. Upon reaching orbit, it deploys the Darwin Reconnaissance Orbiter, which looks for potential landing sites for the probes Balboa, Leonardo da Vinci (nicknamed Leo) and Isaac Newton (nicknamed Ike). We land on the surface very quickly after the beginning of the film and for most of 94 minutes we explore Darwin IV - and meet its indeed very alien fauna, flora, climate and landscapes.

For my personal taste this was actually a really good SF movie rather than a typical Discovery Channel production - although quite obviously of the sub-genre "hard-fiction" (which means trying to stick to some real science). I liked it A LOT as it is indeed a good show with lot of strange and yet not completely unlikely creatures and also with some genuine, surprising twists, none of which is stupid or too freakishly weird. The ending is particularly good - surprising, moving and exciting.

I will not say much about the creatures and other treasures of Darwin IV - you deserve to discover them by yourself. However I must say here that, for my personal taste, the makers of this film took the correct decision to make this alien planet NOT TOO alien. Darwin IV is in its general lines an Earth-like planet, not one of many more different possible living alien environments, like ocean covered blue-world, Europa-like ice ball filled with a deep dark ocean, tidaly locked planet with life existing in the intermediary middle area between too cold and too hot, dark far-from-its-sun planet with non-carbon based life, or any other place that the Almighty in His infinite wisdom decided to create. Also, alien life on Darwin IV is carbon-based.

Create a fictitious and yet plausible VERY alien world would of course be possible - but I clearly understand that it would take a tremendous effort of reflection/conception. Here, this world is clearly alien, but still familiar enough for us to understand it and relate to it. Of course, I would welcome with pleasure a good docufiction about a more "exotic" living world and I think we should soon get one, now that we know a lot more about exoplanets, extreme environments on Earth and also about more distant places in our own Solar System (expected for 2015 images of Pluto and some other Kuiper Belt objects to be taken by New Horizons will certainly add even more knowledge) - but for 2005 I think it was more prudent to not venture too far in speculation.

Bottom line, this is a very, VERY succesful Discovery Channel production. I enjoyed it A LOT, I recommend it to all SF afficionados and I will definitely keep my DVD fo another viewing in the future. ENJOY!

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