Tag Archives: film

The Air I Breathe

Every time I watch this movie, I’m surprised at how simplistic it is. It follows a very simple storyline between four characters and never veers from that path. Focusing on human emotions and the tribulations we all face (although the cases may be extreme in this case) it’s a movie where the acting and humanistic side aren’t far off. Add elements that make it a worthwhile plot, and you have the makings of a film debut by Jieho Lee in his first film.

The entire film is based on an ancient Chinese proverb. Life itself is made up of four emotions. Happiness (Forest Whitaker), Pleasure (Brendan Frasier), Sorrow (Sarah

A well known cast with a bit of heart.

Michelle Gellar), and Love (Kevin Bacon). Each of these characters are represented on a hand, all connected by fingers (Andy Garcia). Through four separate “mini-stories” played out in an intertwining fashion, we gain insight into what the Chinese proverb means.

Hey may look friendly here, but he seems always frightening in his films.

Here’s something I don’t get though. Most critics gave this a bad review. They said that the all-star cast didn’t give enough of a boost to the film. I don’t think the cast or any of that hullabaloo had anything to do with this movie and how it did. This movie focuses on the plot. Seeing as its a character driven plot, the characters fuel and progress the story by their emotions and actions (finally discovering the emotion they represent by their part’s end). People say Brendan Frasier is a terrible actor (excluding The Mummy Series, of course. If you think those are bad, you have no idea what a good action movie is.) but I think this movie proves that theory wrong. Brendan Frasier plays an atypical character to what he normally plays. He’s not a muscled buffoon or frozen caveman come to life. He plays a thug, sure. But he plays an introspective thug who thinks before he acts. He has emotions and feelings you don’t normally see in a Brendan Frasier vehicle,

Give her the nod for this one.

something I’m proud to say he did very well.

There are other reasons this movie is good. Andy Garcia, how can you ever go wrong with that? He’s a frightening mobster man in whatever he does, and I’d personally never want to cross him. Forest Whitaker plays outside of what I think his normal roles are with his timid and almost asthmatic accountant position. Sarah Michelle Gellar was at least applauded for this movie, which I think was justly deserved. Kevin Bacon, well, he’s just Kevin Bacon. Combine interesting roles with an uncanny cadre of actors and you have yourself an interrelated plot about the human extremes of emotion.

Kevin Bacon. He’s footloose in this one.

This movie isn’t flashy. It’s not presumptuous or too intellectual. It shows you that it is what it is and that’s it. An emotional rollercoaster with a happy ending. Not everything that leads up to the ending is happy, but we must all go through trials and tribulations before we see the silver lining (or get to reach it). I think this is an understated film. It’s one of those films you should own in your collection as a little bit of a “life check” for when things are bad, or even good. So I would recommend at least giving The Air I Breathe a try. It’s thought provoking. 8.2 out of 10.

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Leaves of Grass (The Film)

I was pleasantly surprised by this film I had never heard anything about. The second I saw Edward Norton playing twins, my mind jumped to Nicholas Cage in Adaptation. And I love that film because of him and everything about it. So I got a little bit excited once I saw both of them interacting together onscreen. A film that centers around the lifestyle of weed and academia, I know one half of. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. It enhanced it with how intelligently represented both sides are.

I think it was best said by whoever put it on Wikipedia when they said this film has everything of the great tragedies. Mistaken identity, betrayal, violence, loss, and all that good shizz. I was hooked the second Ed Norton stepped on camera as his

Two brothers, one person.

intelligent half, Bill Kincaid. He gives such a convincing performance as the well-to-do, goody-goody brother of the family that went off to college to become a thinker. And that scene is completely contrasted by his portrayal as Brady Kincaid, the equally intelligent marijuana grower. Both sides have an intelligent way of speaking (despite the Oklahoma “Southern” accent) and it comes off as very entertaining to hear their rapport.

A great little cast.

So the movie’s about Bill and Brady, the Kincaid twins. One has aspirations of Harvard and the other aspirations of a lucrative weed business. They parted ways long ago after differences in family experience and got on fine. But things haven’t been going so well for Brady. Brady tricks Bill into flying out by faking his own death and meeting up with Brady’s associate, Rick Bolger (Tim Blake Nelson). After everything gets figured out, Bill finds out that Blake needs him to pose as himself while he goes out on some business. All he has to do is visit their mother, Daisy (Susan Sarandon) and everything will be fine. But, of course, that’s not how things turn out.

There’s a great quality of culture clash in this movie when North meets South, East meets West. Although both characters started out in the OK, they have drifted apart and need to reconnect. There’s a great subtle love/seducing interest between Bill and a small town girl, Janet (Keri Russell). She noodles and ropes them broncos and all that shit, and its strange for Bill to find a girl just as knowledgeable when it comes to poetry. There’s a clash between the greater Christian community and the Jews in this movie as well. Big props for Richard Dreyfuss pulling off the kinky role of Jewish mob boss in this film. And never forget about the little guy, a great job by John Pais.

What a great Jewish badass.

People had a problem with the move from the comedic to the dark and tragic, but it didn’t bother me as much. Moving from quirky to murky isn’t as hard as people take it to be in films. This movie leans in that direction from the beginning with the drug running and gang violence and can’t end well because movies have to have that element of loss or gain. If Bill came down and visited his mother and nothing bad happened and things went off without a hitch, this movie would be about 45 minutes shorter. So I give the benefit of the doubt to this film for tiptoeing around that issue.

I was pleasantly surprised how well Tim Blake Nelson directed and wrote this movie, as well as starred in. He pulled off the trifecta well and made a compelling story all at once. From only knowing him as

That’s some great work you’re doing there, Mr. Pendanski.

Mr. Pendanski in Holes, he made one hell of a movie. There’s not a lot of focus on the life Bill had (obviously this movie is meant to change him towards family) and it’s a lot about going back to your roots. I thought Edward Norton did an amazing job in both roles and made me think (if I didn’t know it was Edward Norton) that it was two different people. Let’s jump back 50 years when filming two people at once was more of an amazing thing and blow some minds. Maybe roll up a joint (this movie is really not about weed at all…) and enjoy some Leaves of Grass. Its limited release and Sundance Premier really secured this as a not well known good movie. I’ll give it a 7.7 out of 10.


Paprika: The Inception Anime

So based on my new obsession with anime, my mom picked this little anime film up for me from the library. I had not expectations and I was delightfully surprised. This anime film, which got positive reviews across the board in 2006, is an anime about dreams. In my opinion, anime is one of the few mediums that can accurately depict dreams. (Nice attempt Christopher Nolan, but this film came 4 years earlier than your Inception.) If I had seen this before I had seen Inception, I would’ve considered Inception a rip-off (sort of is). But it’s comparing apples to oranges. And that’s the way in which this anime stands out.

Paprika is a story that appears to take place in modern day. A Japanese technology company has created a piece of technology known as the DC Mini. These apparatus is used by psychologists to analyze the dreams of patients firsthand in order to diagnose and treat their patients. The one problem? The machine hasn’t been finished. And then it’s stolen. So the members of the company must go on what appears to be a wild goose chase in order to find who stole them before dreams become fused with reality.

That’s what makes this film unique. At any moment, the characters in the film could be dreaming, awake or asleep, and the

What's going on here? Probably why it's rated R...

mind-bending elements that present themselves in this film as the characters navigate the dreams is done beautifully. The film incorporates a love of parades, movies, and the thrill of flight all in one. Although I myself do not dream in terms of surreality, I could appreciate the elements of dreaming used that most people experience. The vivid colors and feeling of a warped reality and drawn beautifully and the movements of the characters are animated fluently and gracefully, something I’ve found that some anime have trouble with. (I guess it all depends on the budget and skill of the artists…)

Yuri Lowenthal. Fat, but good.

The voice actors are decent, most notably is Yuri Lowenthal. I didn’t pick up on his voice immediately, but he is one of those A-list voice actors that get a lot of work today. I think now would be a good time to explain voice acting in terms of skill. In the past (1970’s to 1990’s I believe) voice actors were picked more often for the sound of their voice rather than their acting skills. (It’s like choosing a sports announcer.) But in recent decades, voice actors are being chosen for their versatility and their acting skills. It’s this change that has given a lot of credit to an industry that is not seen as all that credible in America. In a more dramatic sense, in comparison to cartoon voice actors, these actors can perform dramatic as well as comedic and everything in between. And this gives us a better viewing experience because sound is half the battle in anime. Big league hitter companies in anime dubbing are ones like Funimation and Aniplex.

Paprika. Worth the jump.

Other than that, there is a certain cute element to Paprika. If you watch the ending romance you’ll understand. Characters are thrown into each other’s dreams and the underlying feelings that are discovered help bring a happy ending. I do enjoy those snapshot films where a problem arises and returned to normal through understanding and conflict resolution. A “slice of life” if you will. And that’s what Paprika is. A little slice of dreams. 8.1 out of 10.