Tag Archives: poetic

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.

Advertisements

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance: Death Be a Lady…

In a turn of events of Park Chan-wook’s series, it’s the lady’s turn to be the one seeking vengeance. In this straightforward, lunge at the throat revenge story, Park Chan-wook ends his series. This one is a bit more delicate and see-through than the other movies, but it leaves the series with a bit of a twist and bang.

Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young Ae) is a recently released child murderer who smothered a kidnap victim with a pillow to stifle his cries. After confessing, she went to jail for 13 years, performing good deeds and being seen as a saint in jail. She helped out her

Stone. Cold. Fox.

fellow cellmate and seems to have done a complete 180 on being released from jail. She’s cold. She’s calculated. And she’s going after the real killer who framed her. Classic revenge story? You got it.

I was a bit surprised this one was a bit more straightforward with who was seeking revenge against who. Lee Geum-ja is going after Mr. Baek (Choi Min-sik), that classical actor and wonderful dramatic presence.

I loved this tatoo.

He has less of a role in this movie, but Lee Young Ae makes up for that with a femme fatale performance that would make any man shiver his timbers. What I really liked in this movie is the way that Park Chan-wook wanted the revenge scene (as Lee Geum-ja wanted it) was to be poetic and beautiful at the same time it would be cathartic and an aggressional release.

The cinematography and locations are once again stunning. Snow scenes, an abandoned school and the ironical revenge point, and a few strangely surreal daydreams and flashbacks that occur that I quite liked. I liked the initial setup on Lee Geum-ja in jail. She’s meeting all

Really stunning color scheme right there.

these hardened women criminals and they always label them by name and years served. Then somehow there’s someone who Lee Geum-ja saves them and uses that later on in the film. I enjoyed the whole “Ocean’s 11 feel” for the small part of the film.

The end scene is why you watch this film. You feel for the whole situation and you know that it’s very real human response that is dished out there (no spoilers!). It’s harsh and brutal and it comes from a place most of us dream about but are never given the chance to. You’ll just have to see for yourself…

This is that weird thing I was talking about…

What more is there to say about this? Lee Young Ae is a cold beauty and really sells the part. The movie has this whole quirky, otherwordly feel to it where street justice is dealt out in a modern day world. I just think those South Koreans really know how to make a spectacular set of films. And a cameo by Song Kang-ho and Yu Ji-tae! Get some of this Lady Vengeance. 8.3 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.

 

 


Bodyguards and Assassins: Poetry in Revolution

This foreign film from Hong Kong is a diamond in the rough on Netflix. I really gotta hand it to the foreign film section of Netflix in general. Whenever I wanna go for a movie that I didn’t even know was critically acclaimed, I check that shizz out. This movie surprised me. Me and my roommate Ian (that infamous Ian of my other blog posts) we love foreign martial arts films. We absolutely lose our shit when we watch these. And this one was like, “Okay, I’ll deliver that. But guess what. You’re going to feel like a G.D. revolutionary after you watch this film. Just wait.”

And wait we did. With a sweeping and dramatic 2hr. 20min. dramatic climax into some dramatic action scenes, this movie delivers intellectually and

There's definitely some of this.

emotionally. You may think, “Hm, Bodyguards and Assassins huh? Sounds like a straight ahead martial arts mind destruction machine.” And it should make you think that. Because that does happen. It teases you with a bit about 45 minutes in, but the last hour of the film really gives it to you on a grand scale.  In a historic context (they mention actual people and death dates in the movie, so many non-fiction?) this movie enters Hong Kong in a time of revolution and a call to action. This wonderful film pushes just what it means to sacrifice for your beliefs and what needs to be done to do so.

A time of revolution.

The plot of the film, as me and my friends struggled to understand at first, is that of a man named Sun Wen. This intellectual revolutionary intends to head to Hong Kong and debate on the issue of China’s corrupt Qing dynasty. With no safety and no secure way to get him into the city, a handful of citizens take up the call and arms in order to safeguard their country’s future. Headed by Chen Shaobai (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and Li Yutang (Wang Xueqi), these two older men who finance and head the revolution place their lifelihoods and lives on the line in order to see justice delievered.

The rickshaw driver makes his worth known.

With a unique cast with so many characters from so many parts of this small section of Hong Kong, it can be a hassle to try to keep them all straight. I had trouble myself, but I felt that the individual attention to storylines and amazing costumes and design really individualized each character. With each character came a heartful angle and allows audiences to connect. Not in a sappy way but in a way like… Black Hawk Down. You know they may not all survive, but you have hope and the want for them to do so. Everybody can have their favorite character, and it all works out.

And finally! Here comes a cinematographic film with great fight scenes not

What a picturesque scene.

directed or relating to Ang Lee. And no John Woo doves either. From director Teddy Chan (this guy has been busy since 1981…) and writer Peter Chan and Huang Jianxin (related? Not gonna assume due to racism…) comes a film that was worth the hype I didn’t hear and the Hong Kong Awards I didn’t know it won. 35 nominations and 13 wins from 4 different award affairs? Word. The action scenes though! Leave it to the Asians to make a hooked and metal linked harpoon into a deadly assassin weapon. Some of the fighting may have appeared overdramatic, but it led to a movie I would consider to be worth every minute.

What a great cast. Word.

I can’t talk specifically about the acting, but for most of the cast to be nominated for best actor or best supporting actor, I think, speaks for itself. As in most foreign films, I take the emotions I see through the characters actions and faces to be the true bridge between the gap in language. Another thought goes out to a good subtitled translation. It better sound more poetic than what they’re actually saying to work. If it sounds to corny of colloquial for even an American audience, it won’t cut it.

But this movie is definitely worth the watch. The beginning is slow with development, but it is well worth it by movie’s end. For those who love a good period piece that really has the feeling of the time its set in, check this out. And for those who love a damn good thrashing when it comes to action, be patient. It’s coming. Seeing as this is acclaimed and I loved the shit out of it, 9.3 out of 10 for a movie about Bodyguards and Assassins. Get some. 

Really. Get some.