Archive | Foreign RSS feed for this section

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

4 Apr


This review opens with cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli assembling a stunning wide-angle shot of this blog while composer Ennio Morricone fills the moment of silence with his amazing, original score. I stare at the keyboard with an itchy finger waiting to press return. Sergio Leone’s signature western, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly continues to be an international sensation forty-five years later. The story about three distinctly different gunslingers with a history with one another search for a shipment of confederate gold. Although, Eastwood and Van Cleef get all the glory for being the ultra-cool cowboys, it is Eli Wallach that pushes the action forward and keeps the movie moving towards its big payday. In this film, Leone is able to put everything together in the right spots and make the best of film of the Dollars trilogy, as well as the most iconic western of all time. This critic presses publish and rides off into the sunset.


Chuck’s Grade: A

Adam’s Grade: A

Comes a Bright Day needs more polishing

6 Mar


I was hoping to find a gem when I stumbled upon the British film, Comes a Bright Day on Netflix, but unfortunately it was more like an unpolished stone.  I loved the premise, a young guy named Sam (Craig Roberts) goes to a jewelry store to ask Mary (Imogen Poots) out on a date when a pair of thieves rob the store at gunpoint. Writer/Director Simon Abound script is original, but there are too many inconsistencies with the characters’ behavior, as well as the film trying to find its identity.  One minute the actors are cold-blooded killers, and then in the next scene they are bumbling idiots. Also, the hostages performed in a similar fashion by going back and forth between moments of strength and weakness, but their motivations often felt forced. I liked the idea, but the film definitely needed more polishing before I would put it on my DVD shelf.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Oldboy is not your ordinary revenge story

1 Feb


Oldboy is the second installment, and most well-known in director Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy. It is considered one of the best films ever made, and has spawned an American remake to come out later this year.

Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-Sik) is imprisoned for 15 years in a room without knowing his captor’s motives, and then is abruptly released. He tries to find why he was imprisoned and exact vengeance on those responsible.

Chan-Wook’s direction is flawless. The pacing creates the right amount of suspense and intrigue. The silences are filled with subtext and the action sequences are some of the most memorable scenes in Asian cinema. There are moments that audiences must avert their eyes, but not for long because Choi Min-Sik’s unnerving will and the story’s plot twists make this film one of the most talked about movies in history. Every detail is perfect, even down to the infamous room’s wallpaper. Oldboy is not your ordinary revenge story.


Adam’s Grade: A-

Chuck’s Grade: A+

The Red Balloon

30 Jan


Recently, I read an article that provided a list of films a young person should watch by the time they are 14-years old.  Le Ballon Rouge meaning The Red Balloon was one of them. I missed the article’s prescribed deadline, but I did finally get around to watching the short film. On his way to school, Pascal, finds a red balloon and takes it with him. Soon afterward, the balloon begins to have a mind of its own, and follows Pascal around Paris. The film brought me back to being a kid again. At least for the film’s 35 minute duration. The Red Balloon reminds audiences the adventures a child experiences and the meaning of friendship. The dialogue is sparse, but the simple device of a balloon and special effect help tell a magical story of imagination.  In 1956, it won the Palme d’Or for short film and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A

Dredd brings justice to its fans

25 Jan


In America, the new film featuring the comic book character Judge Dredd was fighting a losing battle before it arrived in theaters because of Sylvester Stallone poor adaptation in 1995. However, this film presents a much different interpretation of Dredd. He is much darker character that never cracks a smile and will bring all perpetrator to justice; dead or alive. The premise is similar to many other recent action films (District B-13, The Raid, Om-Bak, etc…) where the protagonist must ascend a skyscraper housing project filled with criminals and innocent people. Aesthetically, this film looks amazing, but the ultra violence is over the top and in your face bloody. The first couple sequence carry an important shock value, but after a non-stop 95 minutes audiences are exhausted from the body count and graphic depictions of death. The film almost meets its potential, but pulled back when Anderson was captured, which weakens the film.  Dredd brings justice to its fans.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection comes to life when it counts

23 Jan


Usually, sequels are not very good compared to the original, but Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection holds up well against its predecessor. This installment has the original cast minus action star Donnie Yen. I like this story better because it does not flip-flop back and forth between fantasy and horror. Xiaowei is a fox demon trapped in a beautiful body that must live on a human heart to survive, but if she finds someone who will freely offer her a heart, then she can become a human being.The Resurrection is a fantasy film with a romance about forbidden love. The deception in this film is subtle and the love triangle relationship between actresses, Zhao Wei and Zhou Xun, and actor Chen Kun carries audiences through to the end. There are some consistency problems when it comes to the visual aesthetics and the film is much too long for the story being told, but it does comes to life when it counts.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Amour changes people

19 Jan


Michael Haneke’s film Amour meaning Love, won the Palm d’Or last year because of its powerful portrayal of an elderly couple’s love for one another. The film industry often ignores subjects about the elderly, but Heneke’s personal connection to this topic makes it one of the year’s most moving films.

Retired musician teachers Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are devoted to one another.  After viewing a concert with one of their ex-students, Anne suffers the first of two strokes which paralyses her on one side of her body, and the strength of their marriage is challenged with unexpected frustrations and obstacles.

Heneke allows his actors to explore these characters through long continuous takes that reveal the subtle moments of strength through silence. Riva and Trintignant are sensational and their character’s affections will make audiences think about their own mortality. Amour is a powerful film with an emotional story that changes people right before our eyes.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Bicycle Thief rides into audiences’ hearts and minds

9 Dec


Director Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief is one of the memorable and meaningful films ever made. Its importance to the post-war Italian neo-realism movement in the late 1940s is obvious, but its greater impact on cinema in general is even more important, and still felt today.

The film is simple. It follows a poor father searching for his stolen bicycle, which is pivotal for his employment and the salvation of his family.

The authenticity of this film is undeniable. It connects with audiences generation after generation because people identify with what the father is going through. The main characters Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) and his son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) are inexperienced actors but their performances find the truth within the brilliant storytelling. The Bicycle Thief is an incredibly moving masterpiece that rides into audiences’ hearts and minds forever.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’ Grade: A+

Shottas was worth the wait

7 Dec


Most people have never heard of this low-budget Jamaica/Miami gangster film, but it is a cult classic for die hard fans that love under the radar productions. This movie was actually a hit years before (2002) it was released because of a large number of bootleg copies that were being passed around and sold illegally. This is one of those films you try to convince all of your friends to watch because you want them to appreciate this “awesome” movie.

Most of your friends will not think it is “awesome,” because they cannot get past the low-budget aspect of the film, but I was intrigued by the story about three Shottas (gangsters) that rob and kill their way to the top of the drug trade in Jamaica and Miami. Director Cess Silvera assembles a solid cast (Ky-Mani Marley, Spragga Benz, Louie Rankin, Paul Campbell) that provide authenticity to the script while the soundtrack delivers amazing beats. Shottas was worth the wait.


Chuck’s Grade: A-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

Babel is a testament to good story telling.

28 Nov

Babel is an emotionally draining film that connects four stories, continents, and cultures. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu creates a interesting film by using non-linear editing to introduce the main characters. A married couple (Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt), an Mexican housekeeper, a couple of children herding sheep, and a deaf school girl and her father from Japan.  These characters and the obstacles they face are connected by a gun.  The premise of this story is rich and contains many layers of intrigue. The strength of the film is the director’s ability to bring this complex multicultural story together in a way that builds tension. Babel is a powerful film that explores the interpersonal connection people have with one another, whether they realize it or not.  Pitt gives a wonderful performance, but I felt Blanchett was a little too strong early on in the film. Babel is a testament to good story telling.


Adam’s Grade: B+

Chuck’s Grade: B-