06 May 2009

Movies - Last Seen

The Spirit, USA (2008)

Really not that bad as it may appear. The beginning is a bit confusing, and the extreme visual style is not helping to accept this movie, but The Spirit has many good moments, number of great scenes, decent story and overall it's quite enjoyable once you get used to it.
Whoever did this film made a mistake by forgetting that this is a movie, and not episode of TV show, and as result the writers ruined the structure of the plot by starting it in the middle. I think chronological storytelling could have been much more efficient and better. Such jumps between past and present in order to present all the characters and their backgrounds is not an example of good filmmaking.
Another weak element I have to mention was Scarlett Johansson. She was absolutely terrible with her wooden acting, sometimes it seemed that she was just reading her lines from a card in front of her, there was no emotion of any kind.


The Sky Crawlers, Japan (2008)

Very enigmatic science fiction anime, with small touches of steampunk and retro visual styles, and visually very impressive action sequences of the dog fights between the airplanes.
The Sky Crawlers is heavy on the story, with many questions and unclear moments. The movie is trying to be philosophical and deal with complex ideas about the meaning of life and purpose of war, about place of individual inside military system and about society in general. Coming from acclaimed creator of Ghost In The Shell, I would say that The Sky Crawlers succeeds in that part and presents certain thematic depth.
So I would not recommend this movie to people that like fast and entertaining storytelling with lots of action and explosions. This is different kind of anime, with slow pace and many quiet moments. The film is very cinematic in it's approach, it is very scrupulous on small details and overall the director did very good job.
Despite many positive sides of this movie and great ending (there is a scene after the credits that partially explains what happened), it is somehow not completely satisfying.


Murder By Death, USA (1976)

Small and enjoyable crime comedy with great performances by highly impressive ensemble of famous actors. The movie was written by legendary Neil Simon, so as result it seems more like a theater play, but it is still great to watch on the screen.

From more academic and theoretical side, Murder By Death is a perfect example of post-structuralism in arts. The classic formula of detective genre undergoes here brutal deconstruction, every known element of classic detective story changes and delivered from different angle. The sense of space and time becomes intangible and twisted, the flow of causality becomes reversed, the logic and common sense can no longer help to understand this chaotic reality, the absurd and nonsense are the driving forces behind the events of this film. The result is funny and intellectually amusing, this is really smart movie, the kind you find academic articles and books written about it, with deep analysis of every small detail.
Despite all that, the film is very light and not heavy at all. The characters talk fast and throw many jokes, the events are ridiculously funny and sharp. The ending feels a little off and over complicated, but if you think about it, this is exactly what should have happened and it's suitable for such crazy film.


Waltz With Bashir, Israel (2008)

There are number of ways to approach this film due to its heavy political content.
If to examine only the artistic side of it, Waltz With Bashir is absolutely amazing. The animation is beautiful, psychedelic and highly imaginative. The soundtrack and the accompanying music is perfect, you can't ask for it to be more suitable. The semi-documentary style of the movie is very unusual and original choice, the visuals and the war scenes are very impressive, from the very first frame there is a constant feeling that you are watching a masterpiece. This film moves fast, there is no slow and boring moments, the dynamics of this film are kind of poetic and even abstract. This is a must see just for its artistic achievement, it is truly incredible.

The content is more problematic, and I prefer not to say my exact opinion about it. I'll only say that I personally don't like to see in movies certain emotional manipulations in the content and explicit political agenda coming from real life situation. It makes the movie seem like forcefull propaganda and this is why I rated it 8/10.
Anyone who is less familiar with the conflict at Middle East by being far from it, either geographically or mentally, will be able to better appreciate this film. People involved, that have already established opinion, will have uneasy feelings toward the content due to its nature. Either way, the film is highly recommended.


Laid To Rest, USA (2009)

Gosh, that was so bad! I can't believe I was actually eager to see it. Highly annoying lead actress, she is absolutely terrible. Embarrassing acting performances from all other actors as well. The murders with some nice gore action are the only good moments in this garbage, and they are very few in numbers.
Things just happen with no explanation, people walk pointlessly from one place to another, nothing makes any sense whatsoever. The story is so stupid I wanted to throw something heavy on the screen so I will have excuse to stop watching this stink.

Avoid it at any cost, this is so bad and disappointing that even After Dark Horrorfest compilations will stay away from it. Believe me, you will be better in your life without watching this crap.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, USA (2008)

Perfect production and almost perfect film. Incredibly complex movie that looks very effortless, it pulls the viewer inside with visual beauty and fairytale love story and doesn't let go. Which makes it a pure escapism.
Brad Pitt leaves all his familiar mannerism and gestures outside, there is no erratic hands movement and nervous looks like he does in other films. His performance is really good and he deserves every compliment. Cate Blanchett proves once again she is among the best actresses ever, and she is out there with others like Catherine Deneuve, Marlene Dietrich and Liv Ullmann.
Many people compare this film to Forrest Gump, saying it is exactly the same, but I disagree. There is a similarity of the structure and form, but each one is about something else, they have significantly different themes and content.
One problem in the film for me was the way the story was told. Somehow the young woman reading the journal to the dying old heroine didn't look right to me. These hospital scenes were unnecessary and the movie could have been better without them, even if I understand the logic behind it. And the other, more important problem is the lack of serious impact after the movie is over. For some reason the impressive watching experience completely escapes from the mind once the film ends, I never thought that such film can be so forgettable.


Nightwatch (Nattevagten), Denmark (1994)

Nice effort to make horror thriller, but this movie suffers from number of problems.

First, it is not scary as it tries to be. I mean, it could be scary for teenagers, sure, but it's hard for me to see how any grown person will feel the same.
Second, the story is not well built. It takes almost one hour to get to the point and to see something suspenseful. Everything before that is just confused life drama.
Another important thing, this movie fails exactly where most of the horror films fail - in order for the events of this movie to happen as they happened, all the characters should be extremely stupid. And this is how it goes here as well. Any empathy toward the characters, any effort to identify with them falls short when you see how dumb they are. I mean, how can you sympathize with the protagonist when he is stupid as wooden log? And as result you feel annoyed and irritated just because of it.
Not really recommended, but ok to watch. Maybe the English remake by the same director, also called Nightwatch (1997), is better, but I doubt.



  1. If you thought that Nattevagten didnt quite deliver (i liked it...but i know what you mean). Then check out The Final Hour (Den Sidste Time), its the same director...but a better movie.

  2. I found the movie you are talking about, but it's different director - Martin Schmidt. :)
    I'll check it out.