Tag Archives: humanistic

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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Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Most of the time when you hear a vampire movie is being made, you don’t ever think it will ever get any Oscar buzz. In the case of Anne Rice’s novel turned movie, Interview with the Vampire, that’s a different story. Winning best score and art direction, even

Two regal and noble vamps.

nominating Kirsten Dunst for best supporting actress, this movie cleaned up for a drama about blood suckers. With an all star cast including Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas, what woman could resist the allure of at least two hunky men? For me, I couldn’t resist a movie spoken in Old English (Shakespeare style).

At the start of the film, we encounter a reporter (Christian Slater, supposed to be played by River Phoenix before his untimely death) following an interesting man with long hair. Before he knows it, he is cornered by what he finds to be a vampire from the late 1700’s. His name is Louis (Brad Pitt, french pronunciation) and instead of sucking his blood dry, he tells him of his story. How he was turned and why he is here, now, telling him all this.

Is Jumanji what tainted this wonderful performance from Kirsten the child actress?

It all starts when Louis loses his wife and child, feeling as if he is a soulless human, wandering through the world in a cold daze. Seeking any means of escape, he encounters Lestat (Tom Cruise), a malevolent vampire who wishes to fulfill his wish, but not in the way he thought. Becoming companions, Lestat teaches Louis the way of the vampires and encourages him to enjoy the new life he has now. But Louis’ problem is that he still feels human with compassion and sympathy, not wanting to live a life alone, in the dark. Forever.

The movie moves through to the present day, skipping a few decades here and there, a century or more until we come to the point where

Great costumes.

Brad Pitt is talking to Christian Slater. It’d be interesting to see Louis enter the 20th century, but the movie was 2 hours long as it was. It covered all the important parts of a period piece film, with elegant and regal outfits galore. The music I didn’t notice as much (sorry those who won an Oscar for the soundtrack) but I was more swept up with the look and feel of the film. Elegant, but always with that underlying element of death.

Hispanic thunder.

I had tried to catch this movie earlier, but I’d only seen snippets of it. I always came in on that depressing scene with Kirsten Dunst and I was like, “I gotta check this movie out.” Sitting down to an elegant (not Underworldy) film about vampires, I had no idea what to expect. Anne Rice, another woman who wrote about vampires? Pleasantly surprised was the end result.

I really liked all the performances in the film. I think that, and the writing/scripting for the film really set it apart from other vampire movies. You felt like they were humans first, and you forgot that they were out in the dark all the time. The language is poetic and fluid, and seems to slip off their tongues as if it was first nature. Tom Cruise (although people may shit all over his attempts as an actor for his beliefs in Scientology) was ballin’ in this film. He’s one of those actors that you know it’s him, and you’ll always see him as Tom Cruise and not the character he’s playing. But by god, he can deliver a vengeful rage of a line or something just as emotionally stirring. He’s a very

‘Sup, Slater?

engrossing actor and needs to be given credit for it. Beliefs/opinions needs to be separated from a body of work. They have nothing to do with each other.

As for the rest of the cast, they all did just as well. Brad Pitt (other than a Fabio looking vampire with long hair) is emotion filled and  a likable main character. That’s what he usually is. Kirsten Dunst was a phenom as a child actress in this movie, playing the adult in children’s clothing, Claudia the vampire. You know those performances where you see it and you think, “That girl was in Spider-Man with a snaggle

Vampires you can fall for.

tooth…” That’s a “wow” performance. Antonio Banderas, you don’t see him that much anymore these days (other than Nasonex commercials). But I appreciated his accent all the same. The Hispanic Schwarzenegger. Rico Suave.

With a great cast and some spectacular settings, who wouldn’t believe this was a well done period piece. And I love a good period piece. This film deserved awards and it really focused on the humanity of the vampire. People didn’t like The Queen of the Damned in the mind of Anne Rice, but we’ll see what I have to say on the matter… 8.5 out of 10.


Oldboy: Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This

Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all

Hammer time.

kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.

I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.

If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…

Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.

Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek

I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.

revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.

Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).

The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)

The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and

A strange sense of Korean comedy…

again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…

Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.