Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Prestige Reprise

Second viewing, same theatre, correct volume. WOW!!!!
I know, I know, caps and 3 exclamations...
This is a film about men and magic. One of the supposed truths, which rings true during the film, is actually false: once you know the secret it is no longer interesting, it is worthless, and by extension, you. I'm paraphrasing the Christian Bale character's warning to a child after he shows him the mechanics of a trick.
This movie, by Mr Memento Christopher Nolan, is an elaborate trick. Second viewing, after the reveal, allowed the truth mastery of the form and story to shine through. The emotional core of the movie is exposed on second viewing, the story richer, the clues strewn about evident. The difference is this knowledge enriches and changes the experience.
Go back, I dare you.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Dragon Tiger Gate

Donnie Yen!
Dragon Tiger Gate is an enjoyable kung fu
film, with some terrific fights and a decent plot. It is always a
pleasure to pop a disc in --that's right, not in theatres (imagine
that)--and find a good film that I have heard nothing about previously.

Sure, I could comb the Internet and the great support sites for
Asian Cinema, but you know what happens then: your mailbox is flooded
with cool discs but you have to sell your TV to make the rent!
is not a film for the uninitiated. While the story is not complex and
the action and editing fast paced, a good knowledge of the films that
have come before isdefinitely rewarded here. I try to catch as many Donnie Yen films as I can, ever since the "Iron Monkey" came to town.
There was not enough wire-fu or cgi to piss off my purist buddie, and enough to keep me smiling and air choppin' along with 'em.

The Prestige

Batman vs Wolverine in a world gone mad! Effects not by Magneto but indeed, Nikola Tesla himself!
This battle brought to you in a time blender by the formidable director Christopher Nolan of Memento and Batman Begins fame.
This is a costume drama set at the dawn of electricity about the rivalry between two magicians and two scientists. The scientist battle is only alluded to--Edison vs Tesla is apparently not nearly as photogenic as women being sawn in half!
Less convoluted then Memento--intentionally--there are some reveals to the audience that follow the same hammer the point in methodolgy of many American films. I try not to look ahead and unravel movies while I watch, and spent most of that energy reconstructing the timeline of events.
All viewers in my party loved the film, the rest of the audience was a touch restless on opening night in a packed house. Our new mostly all digital theater did let me down, I found myself begging the projectionist to turn the sound up! In spite of that technical problem I highly recommend this film.

The Departed

"Mr State Trooper...please don't stop me.." thanks Bruce.
What a terrific film! Great actors, great story, fine Scorsese camera.
The actors? Jack Nicholson, Matt Damian, Mark Wahlberg,
and Leonardo DiCaprio. It would have been a shame if this cast had
delivered a swing and a miss, but it has been done before! I am
remembering the Brando,Deniro, Bassett and Norton heist film that was
just awful. "The Departed" hits the ground running and keeps moving.
Fantastic performances throughout, and a couple of terrific supporting
roles taken by RayWinstone and Alec Baldwin.
The story? Well, "The Departed" is a re imagining of the fantastic Hong Kong film, "Infernal Affairs".

One of the nice things about these films is watching the two different takes on the same story. Both films stand up well, even viewed back to back. Not a dull moment in either,
and since the viewer knows allegiances the cops and robbers don't it is not like watching one reveals secrets about the other.
Both films highly recommended.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Where have all the HK Actioners gone? Well, thanks to the turnover of Hong Kong we fans have been forced out of the Kung Fu ghetto and into Japanese Gonzo and Korean CGI. Not necessarily a bad thing, but Fearless and now SPL bring back a nostalgia for the days of kick or be kicked, doves, handguns akimbo, and lightning fast chops.
SPL brings one of the masters out in the role of mafia boss Po, and Sammo does not disappoint. I actually got to know the "real" name of one of my favorite actors, Simon Yam. He was one of my favorites from "Bullet in the Head". The other treat was, of course, Donnie Yen, still buff
and fast and apparently behind the action sequences as well.
In this political climate sitting down to drink wine with friends and watch corrupt cops had its moments of tension in the room..that gave way to enjoyment of hard boiled action pretty quickly. This film takes place in the early '90's, but the camera and the message are up to the minute. Which means, like Fearless, a terrific fight film ends on a sobering series of notes.