Posts Tagged mystery


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This movie blew my fucking mind, which is clearly exactly what it wanted to do. You have no choice but to go see it multiple times. Unlike Memento or The Sixth Sense, other mind-blowy movies, you don’t just watch this movie and you get the “a-ha!” ending and you go home and you’re done. You keep going back and peeling back the layers, trying to figure out what the fuck is happening. And the answer is there, you just know it, you just have to pay close enough attention to all the little excruciating details. If only you can knock the rust off your brain, surely you’ll puzzle it all out.

Christopher Nolan continues to do what he does best: admire and respect his audience enough to not spell it all out for them. Christopher Nolan knows you don’t need the whole thing exposited to you; Christopher Nolan knows you’re smart.

Another thing he does exceptionally well is have beautiful people do amazing physical stunts in nifty environments. These people, they are beautiful. I think the person-candy element to this movie is glossed over too often in other reviews. There is something for everyone, and each member of the cast is totally delicious in their own special way. Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears the hell out of a vest while defying gravity, for crissakes. Marion Cotillard is carved from marble. Ken Watanabe just gets improbably hotter with age. All of them: gorgeous. All of them: sharply intelligent.Christopher Nolan does not suffer fools, and would never ask you to.

I’ve read some reviews that accuse this movie of not having enough emotion to it, but I am not sure what movie those reviewers have been watching, because the one I saw abounded with sorrow, devotion, anguish, love and pain. There’s quite a lot of pain in all of Christopher Nolan’s movies, isn’t there? Christopher Nolan knows pain is the common human denominator. His characters can’t sit back and wail about their pain; they have work to do, saving each other and saving themselves. Christopher Nolan believes you can keep up.

This movie fills the brain-puzzles-with-hot-people hole in my heart that was left by the departure of Lost, except it fills it with 14 karat gold and chocolate and puppies. In its daydreams, Lost wants to be Inception when Lost grows up.

The Ghostwriter

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Roman Polanski is a nasty old rapist, but he can make a hell of a movie.This film was taut, extremely well-acted, never pretentious or noisy. It was just good.

Pierce Brosnan, I knew you had it in you. My hope is that now that he’s getting on in years, Brosnan will get the opportunity to act in his movies instead of just holding up his handsomeness. Here as a thinly-veiled Tony Blair, you absolutely forget Remington Steele. Olivia Williams remains fairly typecast, but dammit, she’s good at that brittle, seething intelligence, barely suppressing hysteria character she does. Ewan MacGregor can basically do no wrong. Kim Cattrall is very distracting but does her job; apparently she is slightly British in real life, but it’s a bit confusing here.When Tom Wilkinson shows up, you know you’re in a good movie.

Anyways, good, grown-up movie. Simple, elegant, no delusions of grandeur or overwrought action sequences. Nice job, Nasty Old Rapist, although not good enough that it should keep you out of jail.


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I will admit that I balked at seeing this movie at the International Film Fest, and that what got me over my reticence was hearing that it was from the director of (and included several actors from) The Host. The Host was absolutely one of my favorite movies in 2006 – so unique, it was like 4 movies for the price of one. Mother sounded heavy and boring.

Well, clearly whoever wrote the blurbs at the film fest should be sacked, because Mother was a hell of a thing. It’s a mystery that slowly unravels, and I found it so gripping that I straight up forgot to breathe on occasion. The story isn’t so complex or unusual, but every character in it was extremely complex and unusual. After a while, I stopped trying to figure out the story and where they were going with it, because it never went where I expected. The moments of hilarity were laced all through it, and capped with a powerfully poignant ending.

Maybe everyone in Korea is that interesting and weird/compelling. I mean, I dig pretty much any movie that shows people in other cultures going about their totally foreign daily business, so they had me there. So now Korea can add “movies” to the list of Things I Think Korea Must Be Making For My Joyous Personal Consumption, alongside kim chi, karoake TV shows, bulgogi and college roommates.


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I’ve been trying to figure out what went wrong with this movie…it’s almost like the script was translated from the French by Babelfish. The story is fairly simple, and should be almost foolproof, yet somehow everything comes out wrong. Important pieces of information are glossed over or omitted, and almost all of the “twists” are easy to figure out when they give you 2 hours with not much else happening to think on it. When it’s all over, if you pick out the plot, it’s not bad at all. The implementation, the direction, needed a much stronger hand. I believe what they were going for was the terror of being in space and not knowing what’s going on, but they couldn’t strike the right balance between giving enough information so that the audience can give a crap and follow your narrative, and giving so much that your scenes lose forward momentum.

The makeup and sets are top-notch. The Scary Monsters are each very unique and realistic, and if perhaps the creature design is really derivative, I’m willing to grant a pass for doing it well.  The sets are nice, too – I like a spaceship that looks more like a fishing freighter than a Mac Genius Bar. Really, the whole thing is like a fucked-up homage to Alien, which I didn’t mind a bit.

The cast, tiny though it is, is largely phenomenal. Ben Foster, holy crap…this guy eats tin cans and bleeds orphan’s tears in every damn movie he’s in. He is amazing. Dennis Quaid is sadly cast rather beyond his reach here, but you get the sense that his role was trimmed down to just the essentials so they could get back to more Ben Foster. The rest of the Red Shirts are much more natural and compelling than they really need to be and really class up the joint.

I would say one might enjoy this movie more if one were drinking, but with the dark blue filter and aimless narrative, you’d be out like a light in the first half hour. Just go rent Sunshine instead, for well-done Creepy Space Mystery With Monsters (although without the awkward happy ending).

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor)

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I call the ridiculously compelling and addictive trilogy of Swedish mystery novels this movie is based on “Swedish crack”, so it goes without saying that I’m going to be very hard on this adaptation. I try hard, but ultimately I can’t usually get the book out of my head while I’m watching a movie. How much I like a movie adaptation is directly proportional to how faithfully it serves the spirit of the source material, and although I may support changes to the narrative or characters, I do notice every. single. departure from the text and that can mess with my suspension of disbelief. Even more so than usual, I am totally unable to see how this movie would hit a viewer unfamiliar with the book. I am blinded by my particular devotion to the novel, so consider this a review for those who are already hooked on the Swedish crack, and skip it if you are not.

This movie is, by and large, almost slavishly faithful to the book. The opening scene of the movie is a meticulous reproduction of the opening scene of the book, for instance. Much of the dense background of the story is elucidated in a well-done montage that covers a lot of ground very quickly. The cinematography is quite excellent, as well, although I had hoped to see more of Stockholm. My only criticisms come down to the individual performances, and certain aspects of the editing, and how I don’t feel they are true to the spirit of the source.

Noomi Rapace is a thing to behold in this role, and it was a hard, hard role to fill. She could not possibly look the part more, and is incredibly authentic in it. That said, she has missed (or was forced to miss) what I feel is a central element of the character. Lisbeth Salander is a vividly compelling character, but only if you know her. To strangers or the untrustworthy, she comes off as at the very least stupid and weird, more likely actually developmentally challenged in some way. At the heart of why she is often victimized is that at first glance (or even second and third), she seems like an easy target: a strange little retard who couldn’t possibly fight back but doesn’t inspire sympathy in others.  Of course, this belies an inner steely bad-ass genius, but the whole point is that almost no one knows that, and that’s the way she likes it. Noomi Rapace has a full handle on the bad-ass, but plays Salander like that at all times, so that it doesn’t much make sense when she’s continually underestimated and attacked.

As an extension of that, I found that many scenes were reworked in a way that I felt minimized Salander’s capability and calm, and depicted her as much more the victim than she was written. This is a woman who always gives more than she gets in a fight, but this director shows her getting mugged by teenagers on the subway (in the book, it’s one person, and she kicks him in the motherfucking HEAD). I’m guessing the director wants us to feel more immediate sympathy for a character that, as written, definitely does not want our sympathy. The real sympathy she engages is more because, as the audience, we want to be in her inner circle because she’s infinitely more awesome than we could ever be, and maybe if we feel protective or fond of this fictional character, we somehow can claim a piece of that badassery.

The dude who plays Michael Blomkvist, our protagonist, is so forgettable that I can’t even be bothered to look up his name. This character is supposed to be rakish and intelligent, rumpled yet still attractive and charming enough to literally nail every single female character in the book and still have you enjoying his company and never thinking less of him. This actor, to quote a better writer than I, has a face like  a catcher’s mitt,  and absolutely no pizazz. I’m not completely certain he even has a penis. The director eliminates most of Blomkvist’s conquests, although a moment’s reflection suggests that Movie Blomkvist can pretty much only land autistic rape victims. Did Stellan Skarsgård want too much money?

Complaints aside, this adaptation is very faithful, and ultimately the story itself is so taut and compelling that even its missteps are lost in the flow. Much has been made of the fairly graphic rape scenes in the movie, but really, those scenes are fairly tame compared to the book. The whole picture was somewhat awkward and I might go so far as to accuse the director of ham-fistedness, which makes me apprehensive of the coming American remake by the same man, but all in all I am forced to admit it’s pretty goddamn good.

The Big Lebowski

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behold: perfection.

Reservoir Dogs

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i know he’s supposed to be acting, but i think Michael Madsen really might be criminally insane.

Fight Club

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AWESOME. i almost didn’t see this, because no one mentioned how funny it is. Brad Pitt continues to annoy me with his excellent acting.

The Illusionist

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nicely done! Paul Giamatti is my Movie Boyfriend, and he does this weird, awesome voice here that i dug.

The Shawshank Redemption

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Best. Movie. Ever.