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Bunraku takes the combined talents of Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore and Ron Perlman and places them in an utterly insane universe where cowboys clash with samurai warriors and megalomaniacal despots in a hyper-real, hyper-stylised environment. The name comes from an ancient from of Japanese puppet theatre, and at times the movie feels like a stage-play on film, the back-drops popping up and down, the camera zooming in and out origami-like wonderlands.
Yet in spite of the film's technical achievements, it fails to hold together as a coherent whole, the result overlong and undercooked.
One Missed Call
One Missed Call is yet another PG-13 horror movie adapted from a Japanese source. Taken in concert with The Ring, one has to wonder if these productions illustrate some subconscious fear of technology felt by the Japanese. First, they're being menaced by video tapes. Now, it's cell phones. What's next: The Blu-Ray ghost? One Missed Call starts out with an intriguing premise then ruins it by trying to build a story around it that explains too much. Of course, the more exposition it delivers, the sillier the entire thing becomes until it collapses under its own weight. This is the kind of concept that cries out for atmosphere and existentialism, not gratuitous "boo!" moments and endless shots of people crawling around in dark spaces with a flashlight.
If ever there was a reason not to check your cell phone voicemail, this is it - not that most of us worry about a ghost hiding out in the circuitry of our most indispensable electronic gadget. (Although I wonder about gremlins sometimesÖ) Of course, it doesn't matter if you forget your password, because cell phones in this movie don't use them, nor do they need batteries, which could be an argument in favor of a haunted phone. No more worrying about recharging or having to hang up when the indicator reads "zero bars." Presumably, the ghost has also solved the cell signal problem. The single drawback - looming death - is one of those side effects that probably shouldn't be ignored.
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Iím Not There
I'm Not There may be a brilliant myth-making exercise, a fearsome piece of pop art, a truly fascinating film. It may also be a hollow jumble of post-modern pick-up-sticks -- a chaotic stack of signifiers and images and in-jokes with nothing at the heart. Part of me wants to see it again as soon as possible; crack its codes, follow the arcs, catch anything I missed. I also wanted to not see it ever again -- to let it be a dream, a blur, like a few notes of music that find you at an unexpected moment and you hear the rest of your life.
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He Was a Quiet Man
Here's a film that evokes, at different times and in different ways, Joe Versus the Volcano, Brazil, and Taxi Driver. It's an effective and affecting movie about the crushing power of office servitude and the soul-sapping impact of office politics. The film is not an accurate representation in the strictest sense of what it's like to work in an office environment, but it captures the feeling of the experience even if some of the details are exaggerated. One could argue that He Was a Quiet Man is a cautionary tale, but it's more of an autopsy than a warning and eventually evolves into a character study and an offbeat romance before coming full circle via a clever and reasonable twist.
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Echelon Conspiracy is a more evocative title than a movie this stupid deserves. Once again, Hollywood displays a blatant ignorance of the capabilities of modern computers by providing a "God machine" that seemingly has no limits, except when it comes to the simple things. The storyline hinges on contrivances so exaggerated and circumstances so implausible that it's never possible to take the movie seriously. Yet director Greg Marcks and his screenwriters stumble forward, hoping no one in the audience will take a moment to think about how paper-thin their "conspiracy" is - something that should be evident to anyone whose condition is short of a persistent vegetative state. And, no, I didn't like it any better when it was called Eagle Eye.
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Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge is a rigorously accurate historical account of events that occurred during the period between 1899 and 1900 in Paris' infamous Moulin Rouge nightclub. Luhrmann's meticulously researched motion picture uncovers several shocking truths previously unknown to historians - for example, it seems that musical luminaries like Elton John and Paul McCartney are guilty of plagiarism - songs credited to them were originally penned by a little-known songwriter named Christian and performed at the Moulin Rouge.
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The Crow is a gothic nightmare. With a view of Detroit that is every bit as bleak and dazzling as the urban panoramas presented in Batman and Blade Runner, this film makes it clear from the outset that wherever its flaws may lie, they will not be in the realm of visual presentation. Indeed, not only is The Crow a feast for the eyes, but it collides violently with another sense, utilizing a high decibel soundtrack to keep the energy level up.
Robin Hood: Beyond Sherwood
12th Century England It is a deadly time of dark tyranny, black magic and the outlaw archer known as Robin Hood. But when the Sheriff of Nottingham unleashes a winged monster upon the nearby town...
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A sailor prone to violent outbursts is sent to a naval psychiatrist for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood. Through the guidance of his doctor, he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew.
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The Cake Eaters
The Cake Eaters is a small-town, ensemble drama that explores the lives of two interconnected families coming to terms with love in the face of loss. Living in rural America, The Kimbrough family is an odd bunch: Easy, the patriarch and local butcher, is grieving over the recent loss of his wife, Ceci, while hiding a secret ongoing affair for years; Beagle, his youngest son who was left to care for his ailing mother, works in the local high school cafeteria by day but has a burning passion inside that manifests itself through painting street signs; and the eldest son, Guy, has been away from the family for years while pursuing his rock star dream in the big city until the day he learns of his mother's passing and that he has missed the funeral.
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The Holy Mountain
A Christlike figure wanders through bizarre, grotesque scenarios filled with religious and sacrilegious imagery. He meets a mystical guide who introduces him to seven wealthy and powerful individuals, each representing a planet in the solar system. These seven, along with the protagonist, the guide and the guides assistant, divest themselves of their worldly goods and form a group of nine who will seek out the Holy Mountain, in order to displace the gods who live there and become immortal.
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Higher. Faster. Harder.
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Kiss of the Spider Woman
Luis Molina and Valentin Arregui are cell mates in a South American prison. Luis, a homosexual, is found guilty of immoral behaviour and Valentin is a political prisoner. To escape reality Luis invents romantic movies, while Valentin tries to keep his mind on the situation hes in. During the time they spend together, the two men come to understand and respect one another.
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Life or Something Like It
A reporter, Lanie Kerrigan (Jolie), interviews a psychic homeless man (Shalhoub) for a fluff piece about a football games score. Instead, he tells her that her life has no meaning, and is going to end in just a few days, which sparks her to action, trying to change the pattern of her life...
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A child meets the monster that lives under his bed. He even becomes one of his best friends. Soon the child discovers a whole new world of fun and games under his bed where pulling pranks on kids and other monsters is the main attraction.
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Last Call aka Against the Current
F. Scott Fitzgerald spent a lifetime battling demons - alcohol and a schizophrenic wife - and yet, wrote some of the greatest novels in American Literature. Despite a tumultuous relationship with his mistress, his ailing wife, declining health, and his daily drinking binges, Fitzgerald secretly wrote a scathing novel about the film industry which some call his best novel. It was his final triumph. Last Call is based on a true story about this troubled genius, starring Oscar, Emmy, and golden globe winner Jeremy Irons, Neve Campbell, and Academy Award winner Sissy Spacek.
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