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vepro´s Reviews

Displaying Review 6 - 9 of 9 in total

  • Written by vepro on 18.12.2012

    I must say at the beginning, that I usually don’t write anything about movies I don’t like but this one got me so upset and I found myself really offended and insulted by it, that I couldn’t just let it go.
    When you read the plot of Taking Lives on IMDb it seems quite interesting and that is why I watched this one in the first place. But the short plot is the same as the whole movie: deceiving and untrue. You are promised a suspense thriller, with a possibility of a psychological aspect included (her being an FBI profiler) but what you get is whodunit movie done wrong.
    Basically, Jolie is an FBI agent who helps Montreal’s finest to catch a serial killer, Hawke, who takes identities of persons he kills. First of all I think casting is totally wrong and the actors were hopelessly unconvincing in their roles, especially Jolie who’s lack of acting skills keeps me asking myself are looks really all you need to make it in Hollywood. It feels like every one of the actors is overacting every single scene throughout the movie, especially Hawke.
    Movie focuses on the Jolie – Hawke relationship rather than the process of taking over identities, cat-mouse plays between the police and the killer, profiling the killer (which is done in two sentences) troubled childhood and so on, which are all great plot making devices, and by doing so it losses it’s thriller aspects and becomes yet another whodunit movie.
    So, failing to be a psychological thriller, the only thing that keeps you interested is curiosity whether this movie is so bad you knew the killer just after few scenes past by. And this is done by using all the cheap shots out there. Everything that drives the plot further is never shown to you. What you are shown are lies that imply that someone else did it but just by director’s choice, not because of the story, like the matchstick man that police officer Paquette plays with, unknown man under Martins bed, character of Kiefer Sutherland and so on. And then, at the end, flashbacks show you just where it was that the director of this abomination tricked you. Furthermore the movie is packed with clichés well known to a person who watched more than ten movies in his/her life. Here are some of them: police officer that hates other police officers from other police stations/cities/states; police officer which is therefore a suspect in viewers eyes; police officer grabbing killer’s lookalikes on the street just to discover it is not the killer; light gone out just as female lead is entering the basement; sex scene with the killer; scrubbing herself after the sex scene with the killer just after she finds out who the killer really is.
    And after the killer escapes you think to yourself, for a brief second, seeing Angelina pregnant with twins – wow there might be one decent scene in this movie – he is gone and she is stuck with his unwanted children, without her job and this will not end well. But no, he has to come back to fight one last battle with her and to try to kill his unborn babies just seconds after he insists that they are in fact his children. And then you see him stab her in the stomach with huge scissors and you are again – wow am I seeing this in this kind of mindless movie. But no, the director pussy-outs, the stomach is fake just like everything else and it is yet another FUCK YOU AUDIENCE moment. Because you know he shown you her getting fired, carefully holding her stomach when she couldn’t possibly know is Hawke around or not, you hear him earlier in the movie saying how he came inside of her. But he left out one little thing – it is all staged. And how could she even know he was going to stab her when originally he was going for his trademarked choke to death move.
    Anyway, that’s not all. The movie shamelessly drains from the success of Se7en using even similar lightening, credits in the beginning, involving a new character deep into the movie and so on.
    Why this movie is not total and unforgiving piece of cinematic shit is very good usage of camera in exterior shots, decent gore moments, some good snapshots and one good jump scare, the scare that, now that I think about it, has nothing to do with the movie at all.
    Taking Lives, the title that is referred to once during the movie, and so by saying it, at least does what its name imply. It takes lives, 1h 48m of it to be precise. And that would be just find if it wasn’t so pretentious, full of itself and full of plot holes, poorly directed and cut, plain stupid and above all insulting.

  • Written by vepro on 04.01.2013

    After seeing Neco z Alenky few days ago, my thirst for surrealist cinema grew bigger and I remembered this anime gem that I also kept for these surrealist thirst times. Being pretty uneducated on notion about anime cinema I had no expectations from this movie whatsoever and I’m glad that’s the case.
    This movie, with story so short it could fit literally in few sentences, beginning through end, is Mamoru Oshii’s only movie I’ve seen so I can’t compare it to any of his other works, but, come to think of it, I can’t easily compare it to anything I ever saw in my short existence.
    The story is set in an unknown world, unknown time and unknown universe. There are only two characters (well, apart from fisherman ghosts) who wonder trough apocalyptic medieval environment (which reminded me a great deal on Devil May Cry world) where only thing that moves is the wind, ever running water and restless shadows of things past. Everything moves slow and easy, which contributes to a sense of timeless, or frozen in time universe. The characters actions seem carefully thought through, almost like an ongoing set of rituals which last in every movement.
    There are only few sentences spoken in this movie, the story is short, but, combined with almost perfect animation and brilliant music score it tells as many stories as viewers can imagine. What I can gather from first viewing, it is definitely about religious questions, existence or death. That little that is spoken talks about the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, angels and demons. There are clear christian symbols used, especially on the male character; his crucifix looking weapon, stigmata like wounds on his hands, or the fossil of an ages ago deceased angel. It also can be seen as a metaphor for a clash between rational (pragmatic) and religious (spiritual) point of view, but I will most likely have to see it a few more times to develop some kind of deeper theory what it, or what I think it is about.
    And I’m still just so much overwhelmed with the visual and auditory delivery of this piece of art, and this is art in it’s pure form, that I can not even begin to dig under this first layer that grasps you in the beginning and doesn’t let go long after you finish watching it. But there is indubitably a lot that this movie can offer apart from its appearance. There is a whole world of ideas, symbols, meanings and metaphors that lie there and wait to be absorbed by a viewer who decides to come back to this movie and look for some answers. I know I will.

  • Written by vepro on 06.01.2013

    Due to some personnel changes in our national television Croatian people are able to see a fair amount of European cinematography, and the better part of it, as I see it. Among all this titles available to us now was Michael Haneke’s Funny Games U.S. I watched it for a few times before but viewed it trough yet another time. After remembering what a good movie the remake is I re - watched the original once again and thought about writing a few lines on the topic, being a fan of Haneke’s movies.
    To cut the plot short: it is about two young men torturing and eventually killing a family of three, mom, dad and a little boy. Oh yeah, there was a dog as well. Nothing fancy, nothing new… well we’ll see about that.
    It is clear from the beginning, if you think about it later that is, that this is a movie about violence, about the violent rupture in normal, whatever that might be, settled life of an upper class family. This manifests itself in the very beginning, just when the title appears and it manifests trough music. When violent, or rather fast, unarticulated music interrupts classical music game that this, or rather what seems to be, perfect family plays on their way to their “little” resort, rich man’s escape from the land of the poor and unprivileged; we can see the first manifestation of violent act in this movie. And it is this one that summarizes the nature of the movie.
    It is also clear, through the looks of this family, their taste in music, that they are indeed high class, wealthy, educated people. What gives them away as well is the boat, expensive car and a vacation home the size of average family of six house, surrounded by other wealthy people’s houses of the same type. With its private lake. And they play golf. This is all based on stereotypes of course, but Haneke uses these stereotypes to portrait the sort of people that are not usually the targets of a homicidal killing spree and do not, seemingly, deserve to be tortured; or rather: the sort of people we don’t see tortured in Hollywood cinema. They are partially here because Haneke claims that every one of his films is made to shock the bourgeoisie, which became his battle cry. And that is exactly what both versions of this movie do; one shocks overly secure Austrian bourgeoisie, the other feeds on all American fear of the streets (all American referring of course to WASP-s), or the Others. Violence and bourgeoisie are focal points of Haneke’s work since the beginning, but I feel that here they are pushed to the extreme.
    The violators are also not your typical maniacs. They’re polite, sweet talking, slick, educated, have good manners. Well, apart that they are homicidal maniacs with no real, or revealed reason what so ever. Haneke presents few, all of which are contradictory, explanations about the origin of violence. By making them all false he’s implying that it is not about where violence comes from: media, family background, society, childhood, disturbed individual. It is about pure violence, not the graphic movie violence, but real violence. And in this movie everybody is violent, the director, the violators and the viewers. Viewers violence is stressed through breaking the fourth wall but I will not hook on to that part now, as it would require another few pages of theoretical reading, and all the possibilities it opened.
    To finish this review, which really covered only a small part of this movies complexity, I think Haneke made a great, interactive and auto – reflexive study of violence in media. In a way it is a typical example of postmodern cinema, because it breaks the convections of moderna, annoys and asks questions rather than gives all the answers. It makes the viewer sick and uneasy, but it makes you think as well. It keeps the familiar narrative structure up to a point just so it can be shattered later and cause the viewers lack of closure, happy ending and sense of not being guilty. It awakes the problems of violence that surrounds us, but gets unnoticed. The nature of violence is distorted in media, and this piece of different cinema shows what violence really is, and what feelings it should awake. Funny Games is an ugly movie but one that really needs to be seen by wider audience to spread its message, hence the remake.

  • Written by vepro on 19.03.2020

    A discussion about The Parasite with a friend, which was abruptly aborted, led me to seek out traces of Kafka's work and philosophy in Bong Joon Ho's film and its characters and themes. Apart from the immediate parallel between the film’s title and Kafka's novella Metamorphosis, there seem to be more similarities in these two works of fiction, which unfortunately share an uncanny resemblance to our everyday life and the condition of our society.
    Let's get the obvious one out of the way. Gregor Samsa's degradation from a human being to a vermin is caused, at least among other things, by his inability to provide for himself and to help his family financially. As soon the metamorphosis starts, his immediate family and friends abandon him, as he is now less than human, cease to take care for him and, basically, leave him to die. We find the Park family in a similar situation. Slowly slipping down the society’s ladder of success, the Parks live in a kind of semi-world, not among other 'proper' employed humans, but, at the same time, not so far from the very bottom where other vermin reside. Their metamorphosis isn't finished yet and still we see some indication of their final form. Living in a damp, poorly lit and narrow space, they act like bugs, working jointly on projects, always together, cramped, and sharing their prey, which is the only immediate thing they care about. How to get something to eat.
    The Parks’ situation at the beginning of the film is similar to the situation K. finds himself in Kafka's The Castle. In constant fight between employment and imminent downfall, K. is stuck in place, unable to make sense of the world and his surroundings. He is, it seems, invisible, and more important, he seems unimportant, not an agent of any kind in the world or his own fate. Park family is also mostly invisible to the 'real' world. Only those in the same circumstances communicate with them, but not without a healthy dose of malice and distrust which works both ways. Until the deus ex machina moment, the Parks are unable to make a move to improve their situation. However, as in most Kafka's works, this isn't really their fault. The world is fixed in a way that the individual cannot take agency over their fate, and the absurdity of society and relations within it keep him in place.
    The Parks, however, possess an uncanny life force and will to survive. At the beginning, this seems like a positive and praiseworthy quality of a down-on-their-luck family. Reading a little bit deeper in the film’s body of text, sadly it is clear this isn't the case. The fear of not slipping furthermore in the gutter of society is the real instigator of the Parks’ false hope. The same fear is central to Kafka's characters. First and foremost, there is the fear of insecurity and finality in the face of the infinity of space and society. Second, there is a fear of the bizarre nature of society and interpersonal relations. And, third, there is a fear of insignificance of the individual in the grand scheme of things. In the case of the Park family, and so many more families across the globe, the fear is more about surviving, but nevertheless, fear is what keeps them imagining a better future for themselves.
    As so many characters in Kafka's work, the Parks seem to try to make most of their situation and keep the optimistic attitude with an idea of resolution of their problems being just around the corner. For a while it seems to be working, and they liberate themselves from their semi-underground position, basically living their dream lives, leastwise as servants. However, it all slips away fairly soon, as Parks see they are vermin to the people on the top of the food chain, and they dislike that denotation. Also, they become aware of their nauseating appearance, mainly linked to the smell, which they couldn't distinct while living among others like them. As Josef K. puts it in his dying breath: " 'Like a dog!' he said, it was as if the shame of it should outlive him." The pride and the rage of Ki-taek is the breaking point of the Parks’ new life. Only in relation to the rich, and consequently, the clean, can they see who they really are. It's not dissimilar to Gregor's situation, where he can assess his repulsion and unimportance only in the relation with the rest of his 'normal' and healthy family. “The animal wrests the whip from its master and whips itself in order to become master, not knowing that this is only a fantasy produced by a new knot in the master’s whiplash.” The quote by Kafka reads like it's cut right out of the page of The Parasite screenplay. The downfall of the Parks leaves them where Ki-taek always knew all their plans and non-plans will leave them. At the bottom. Only this time, they all know how strict and impenetrable the boundaries between two worlds are.
    The final theme of the film, which is also profusely present in Kafka's work, is the theme of alienation. And, as it is pretty easy to spot the alienation between the classes in these works, as it is in real world, the alienation between people in all other spheres of life is what's truly depressing. Even before Marx's theses of capitalism alienating working class from itself, the product, and the working process, the world is divided on those who have and those who don't. It is sad, though, that in this day and age if you are born as a have-not, it is almost impossible to become a have, which ties back to the theme of futility and submission. You would think that this kind of economic segregation would unite the have-nots in some kind of mutual struggle and solidarity, but as we see in the film, it is really an all-out war for the crumbs which fall of the table of the rich. So, in reality it is a parasitic circle of life, with two highly separated types of vermin, one a true parasite, and the other perceived as one by the parasite.

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