Average User Score: 7.2Jul 17, 2014This and 'Gangs of New York' are the two films Scorsese spent the most time preparing for, and they're his worst films by a country mile. 'Last Temptation' is one of the worst movies I'll ever see, shot with indescribable ineptitude and adorned with wretchingly awful music, relentlessly laughable acting and, obviously, heaps upon heaps of torture porn'. The last half hour is an incoherent disaster. Bill Murray once said, 'Religion is the worst enemy of mankind.' Yes, and that goes double for film-makers.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.1Jan 15, 2014One of the uglier and more bewildering films of our time. I actually laughed when I realized Bilbo's ring-vision actually looks more real than the phoney, almost fully C.G. 'regular' world. Martin Freeman looks visibly uneasy to be in the film during every single, cartoonish scene of this calamity. Peter Jackson should have been put in charge of the J.R.R. Tolkien Theme Park, not the films.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Aug 19, 2013c'The Impossible' is an absorbing, well-shot, well-acted film with convincing special effects. It is based on fact. It provides the experience of having one's family caught in a catastrophe with a vividness few other films have had. My qualm is with the film-makers' decision, faced with an event that killed an estimated eight thousand people in Thailand alone and devastated countless families, to take for their subject an extraordinarily fortunate family of British tourists who were violently separated and endured terrific trauma, but who managed to find each other and return home with every family member alive.
The story of this family is pretty inspiring, but should Bayona have considered making a film about a Thai family that did suffer loss, as innumerable families did? Is his message that when calamity strikes us we suffer great terror and difficulty, but it will all be O.K. in the end? And why are nearly all the other people we meet in this movie also European? Why are there so few Thai people? Why does nearly every one speak English? Amid so much destruction, why do we see barely any dead people? Did one of the only films made about this titanic South-East Asian cataclysm really have to star Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts?… Expand
Average User Score: 8.5May 29, 2013Comedy writer Julius Sharpe said on Twitter the other day that he just wanted to 'thank all the people who reviewed "Star Wars" on Netflix. You guys swayed me, I'll check it out.' His point could save us all a whole lot of time. 'Django Unchained' is already a hugely popular movie, and so many, even among those who haven't seen it, are familiar by now with its fairly simple plot. So this time around, I'm only going to point out a few marked ways in which Quentin's seventh film struck me as rather unTarantinian.
'Django', of course, is still very obviously a Tarantino film. But look, for instance, at how the flash-backs are done with quick fades rather than simple cuts, and how they're shot with different filters 'flash-back' filters. This drains them of most of the immediacy of the flash-backs of his other movies. Or, more accurately, they make them actually feel like flash-backs; the equivalents in his other films were effectively just scene transitions. He also uses music rather flamboyantly this time, often using only small parts of songs, and he uses more of it than usual.
The camera is also much more active than in previous films. Look at the often flashy way he films the lengthy scene at Candie's dinner table and compare it to the tavern scene in chapter four of 'Inglourious Basterds'. In that scene, the camera is resolutely static throughout, using simple two-shots, three-shots and close-ups. For my money, this helped to make the scene considerably more immersive and suspenseful than the one at Candie's dinner table.
Compare also the unwavering realism of the nazis and peripheral characters in 'Basterds' with the slave-owners and townsfolk in 'Django', who are frequently exaggerated and played for laughs. For myself, I was a bit disappointed by this decline in realism. I know Tarantino did this to retain the feel of the Spaghetti Westerns he's always loved so much. But one of his greatest strengths has always been his talent for taking lesser genres and accentuating their best elements, while omitting their weaker ones. For most of his movies, this has included maintaining strict realism in the story's environments and supporting characters, but not so much in 'Django"s case.
Because of its content, the story it tells and its central characters and performances, 'Django' is an excellent, classical tale of a film. It has a couple of plot twists that are stunning. I am told that the Samurai sword-fight sequence in 'Kill Bill Vol. 1' is probably the best ever filmed, and I have no doubt that 'Django"s revolver melee is as good a one as we're ever likely to see. But to an extent that surprised me, the movie lacks the definition of the rest of Quentin's films. I think there are three main reasons for this.
First, the story is that of a journey, an adventure, and has a fairly set path its makers must follow. Tarantino's stories usually move wherever and whenever they want to, but in each place they visit, they tend strongly to sit firmly down and stay there a good while. 'Django' is more fluid and, except for Candyland, moves through its locales rather speedily.
The second reason is that after 'Inglourious Basterds', his most restrained and static film yet, I believe Tarantino felt a need to have more fun making his next film, use more music, more comedy (I don't know how long it's been since I've laughed in a theatre as hard as I did when Quentin gets himself blown to smithereens), be more dynamic with his camera, and to finally fully indulge his love of Spaghetti Westerns, a desire which until now he's had to satisfy only in bits and pieces. This is all fine. But I think he set to work with less restraint than was strictly wise this time.
The third reason is that his editor Sally Menke died a year or so before production began on the film. Sally had edited all of Quentin's films and had long been known as his greatest collaborator. I realize now that such a loss does have its effect on a film. And her replacement, though he was an assistant in the editing of the Kill Bill movies, may not have been an ideal choice.
I point these things out because so few critics seem to have talked about them, and because together they work to produce a film with fewer marks of its director's craft and brilliance. Obviously 'Django Unchained' is a very strong and enjoyable film with numerous virtues, which delves fearlessly into a subject that's been so widely and wrongly ignored for so long that it now seems in real danger of being largely unknown to many of us. Consider the nauseating case of Arkansas Representative Jon Hubbard who, in a book published last year, wrote that slavery 'may actually have been a blessing in disguise'.
Quentin spoke with bafflement about the unyielding reluctance of the film industry, and of society at large, to discuss or confront the terrors of thralldom. He said of his movie, 'Let this be the first stone through the window.'… Expand
Average User Score: 8.3May 28, 2012Thirty-five. That is the approximate number of times I bellowed the
usual two-word, seven- letter refrain at the screen while watching this
abomination of cinema. That would bring the total number of instances
I've bellowed this phrase at a movie to perhaps forty. Every other movie I've ever seen is a better movie than 'Amelie', but
it will appeal very well to people who'd rather live in a different
universe. It picks up real, living humans and uses them like toys, like
terminally uninformed parodies of humanity. It squanders reality. See
that bar-maid there? That actress playing her is probably a fascinating
woman - I'm SURE she's a fascinating woman - people tend heavily to be
fascinating. Sadly though, this cartoon of a movie allows no
manifestation of any side of any of its performers' personalities to
show through at any point. I have never, ever been more infuriated by a
movie. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's previous film was 'Alien: Resurrection',
which goes part-way, but not all the way, in explaining how this movie
is as bad as it is. Although there is ever so much more to be said, that's about all I'm
going to say about 'Amelie'. I'd like to tell you that this is because
the film's Hadesian wretchedness is beyond my ability to properly
describe, but that would constitute a falsehood on the scale of
'Amelie'. The truth is that I am dismayed by the idea of exerting any
more mental energy contemplating this grotesque puppet show. That the
film receives such unbroken acclaim is a dreary testament to the desire
of so very many people to escape from any form of recognizable life.
For Jean-Pierre Jeunet to spit in my face would be so much kinder than
what he did to me by making this movie it would constitute an
(Note: Buried in the film's sound-track is one of the greatest songs
I've ever heard; a version of 'Guilty' sung by Albert Bowlly in 1931.
An acquaintance haplessly gave this film to me, and afterwards I told
her that, although it was the single most detestable film I'd ever
seen, without it I'd surely have gone the rest of my days without
having heard that sublime melody, and was grateful to her. My
relationship with that song will end only at the hour of my death,
unlike my relationship with this film and its director, which
terminates with the completion of this sentence.)… Expand
Average User Score: 6.7Apr 14, 2012So dreadfully rarely is film let out of its cage. So terribly scarcely is the language of movies used as though it's never been spoken before. This is cinema unbound. Terrence Malick's fifth film is a grand victory of human awareness and stands among the greatest, most fearlessly original and most universal of all films. It explores human experience from the inside, from within its characters' thoughts and sensations. Malick identifies its protagonist as its viewer and assembles a multitude of brief impressions of astounding vividness to act as an analogue of our own collection of memories. Roger Ebert wrote of Charlie Kaufman's great 'Synecdoche New York',
'For thousands of years, fiction made no room for characters who changed. Men felt the need for an explanation of their baffling existence, created gods, and projected onto them the solutions for their enigmas. These gods of course had to be immutable, for they stood above the foibles of men. Zeus was Zeus and Apollo was Apollo and that was that. We envisioned them on mountaintops, where they were little given to introspection. We took the situation as given, did our best, created arts that were always abstractions in the sense that they existed outside ourselves. Harold Bloom believes Shakespeare introduced the human personality into fiction. When Richard III looked in the mirror and asked himself what role he should play, and Hamlet asked the fundamental question To be, or not to be, the first shoe was dropped, and "Synecdoche" and many other works have dropped the second shoe.'
'The Tree of Life' is an other of the greatest of these works. As the years pass, our films seem to be moving deeper and deeper inward. This film attempts to be a mirror. It shows us a life such as our own and asks us to discern what is important in a life, what is good, what is lasting; and what is meaningless noise, what does not last. Kaufman's film also explored the human experience in an unconventional way, but while it had very little compassion and was devoid of wonder, Malick's film possesses those qualities and others in rich abundance.
I love, love, love the way Malick makes movies. He spurns artificial light, films his actors constantly (even when they don't know it), foreswears story-boards, always seeks to captivate fleeting, chance moments; a butterfly alighting on Mrs. O'Brien's hand, thunder flashing in the skies before Pocahontas, an inquisitive baby giving John Smith a kiss. He films and edits what ever and how ever he wants; what ever feels right, what ever is beautiful. He loves open fields, tall grass. He loves twilight and dusk. He loves water. He loves Sol, loves its light shining among plants, among people. He loves flocks of birds, hands holding hands, heads turned upward. He loves things that glow. He nearly always shoots manually; his camera is free. It swings and flutters about Smith and Pocahontas as they embrace. It runs joyously through a forest, peering upward and making Sol beam and dance among the branches and leaves. I am so very grateful there exists such a film-maker as him. I am stunned to learn that Malick himself lost his own younger brother as a young man, for which he largely blames himself, and has borne that guilt and grief for the rest of his life. This explains so much about his films - this one above all - and the depth, meaning and power of it are made so much more profound by this knowledge. 'The Tree of Life' is the product of a tortured man, and what we see in it is not only his philosophical message, but is from his own wounded heart. His own pain is present. We are told artists must suffer for their art, and here Terrence Malick, in his anguish for his little brother he's carried since the late sixties, has made a film which stands among the greatest and most essential of all human art. Jack's vision of the after-life is also more clear in this light; what Malick shows us is not only his belief, but is deeply personally important to him. It is his consolation, his hope.
There's a moment in the film that moves me more than film has ever before moved me. One morning, when the boys wake to find their father has gone on a trip, and they're free to romp in the house and tease their mother with a lizard and for once life is as it ought be with them, they run outside laughing with her as 'Les Baricades Misterieuses' plays, and we hear the mother's prayer for her children - for all that live. 'Help each other. Love every one. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive.'… Expand
Average User Score: 9.0Mar 27, 2012I've never before been bored by a slow-moving film. Ever so much more weight is put on the horse-head scene than it supports. A husband-wife fight is phoney, weak, amateur and isn't even peanuts compared to any such scene by Scorsese. A curly-haired guy beats a guy up and it looks as fake as the fakest action I've ever seen; it was so bad it was hysterical. As in the faintly superior sequel, Robert Duvall's role consists almost entirely of standing around looking mildly concerned. Early scenes with Brando are effective enough, but not a whole lot else is. That curly-haired guy gets shot by a whole buncha guys later on and some friends asked me if I understood how and why the ambush happened as though I could possibly care why it happened or who he was. I heard one person complain that the film 'insists on itself', but it seemed to me more like it didn't even care it existed. At the moment, this movie has nearly five hundred and fifty thousand votes on I.M.D.B., but 'Goodfellas' has only three hundred and twenty-five thousand and 'Casino' barely over a hundred and fifty thousand. Sad. But Francis Ford went on to make an infinitely better film only seven years later, and his daughter an unutterably better one three decades later, and so the Family thrives.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.6Feb 8, 2012This is an offensively inept, amateur film with its heart in the right place. So many casual movie-goers like submediocre films like this because they're the kind of movies they'd direct themselves if they were into movies to any substantial degree, which they're not. This movie repeatedly left me dumbfounded and irate with its boundless inanity, its preadolescent writing, its loathsome attempts at humor. Despite having made this crater of a film, Tommy Lee Jones is and will continue to be a great actor and a fascinating man; this movie's spectacular awfulness falls several feet short of unforgivable.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Jan 5, 2011If, in 'Kill Bill Vol. 1', Quentin Tarantino made one of the best
movies for people who love Japanese grindhouse, then in 'Vol. 2' he
made one of the best movies for people who love movies. Tarantino has consistently been my favorite director and 'Kill Bill Vol. 2' is the greatest of all his films to date. This isn't a sequel to 'Vol. 1', as he didn't decide to split 'Kill Bill' up until just after he finished shooting, it's simply the second half. 'Vol. 1' is an excellent, excellent film, but no where in the range of this one. I grin ear-to-ear all the way through this movie. 'Vol. 2' is Quentin's most visually beautiful movie yet (and the magnificent opening chapter, shot in gleaming black-and-white, is resplendent to a degree that is profound, as is the great sequence at Pai Mei's ancient abode, shot in gloriously seventies-style over-saturated greens and glaring whites), and it's where his flair for spaghetti-Westerns comes out the most. As in all of Tarantino's films, the dialogue is an unadulterated joy. This is nearly his least violent (and actually also almost his least talkative) film yet, and I've read both the original script and David Carradine's 'The Kill Bill Diaries', about all he saw of the making of the movies, and it's clear that many of Quentin's best decisions had to do with diminishing or removing the action. In place of the more obvious strategy of showing us a detailed sequence of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad gruesomely gunning down the people in the chapel, he decided no, pull back and let us just listen to a brief event from a distance, observing it in a kind of silhouette. And in place of Bill firing a warning shot at the Bride and holding her at gun-point while she walks towards a couch to seat herself, he decided Bill simply regards her casually, his pistol just visible at his waist, of which they are both aware. In the earlier idea, all suspense would have been spent with the warning shot. When Bill relates the tale of Pai Mei to the Bride, he decided it would be more effective to let us use our imaginations while listening to Bill's ponderous speech by the camp-fire in the dark than to play seventies Kung Fu footage of Pai Mei in action over the monologue. The first time I saw the movie, the first big thing that struck me was Budd. His is a great and tragic character, and Michael Madsen is a great actor, and his performance begins in a singularly perfect scene with Carradine which shows us his indifference to, and acceptance of, his approaching probable demise. And for a long stretch the Bride is forgotten, and we simply follow Budd into the lonely strip club he tends bar at, getting a taste of what his existence has become, of his disappointment and withdrawal from life (the scene where he argues with his boss Larry and finally relinquishes both his hat and his pride is worthy of applause). Every time I watch the scene of the Bride's sneak-attack on him, I am more amazed by how exquisitely constructed the whole sequence is. A long, meticulous build-up ending in unexpected truncation is a trade-mark of Quentin's, in action as well as dialogue. What Budd does with the Bride is endlessly fascinating to me in its brilliant, primeval simplicity. This is the stuff of great myths. In the last chapter the tone of the film changes from the grandiose, Tarantinian adventure of the first four chapters and settles into an intimate dialogue between the story's two central characters (and one other, for a time), in which Quentin subtly and expertly simmers the tension and danger that exists between these two supremely deadly assassins. This section of the film is in keeping with an other trade-mark of Quentin's, that of inserting elements of simplest, uttermost reality into an over-the-top, epic story. With Quentin's help, David Carradine produced a magnificent performance in this film, as a man who is possibly even more laid-back than Carradine was himself (and who delivers three great monologues), but who can be deeply, genuinely menacing. 'Kill Bill Vol. 2' is the most joyful, the most exciting, the most glorious celebration of the cinema I've ever seen. It is Tarantino's deepest and most emotionally powerful film by far (and the often over-looked sequence of the Bride slowly preparing herself before leaving a bed-room to face Bill is one of the very best in the film). It has both the best and second- best uses of music I've heard in a movie (if not more). The climax of the Bride's raggedly magnificent confrontation with her wicked rival Elle evokes in me the emotion of sheer love. And the scene of the Bride's triumph over the designs of Budd has become my central image of the cinema. This is a movie that bursts with human life, and with its director's signature passion and love of the movies. I can't tell you how many times I've put the D.V.D. in to look at a specific part, and then ended up watching the whole damn thing again.… Expand