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The Life of Muhammad (2011)
Life of Muhammad (2011) now available at shop PBS dot-org (both DVD and blu-ray)
Our regional PBS station used a single night to show the entire 180-minute run of "The Life of Muhammad" (2011). The experts have a cumulative effect of being a bit uncertain of what can and can't be known about that era of history. I found the use of black and white photography to be a bit confusing however. There are NO ancient pictures of the Kaaba and to have such "stock footage" inserted would be confusing for the viewers who should be watching this PBS - BBC Production with those who have some perspective on what is knowable and to be agreed upon as far as figures of civilization and world culture.
I do rate the 3-part series (PBS and BBC) to be a 9 * rating.
Is this a story about Avenging a Wrong or about Murder as an Addictive Behavior?
I agree that this is a great Western movie of the 20th Century -- it is certainly not typical with the reason for the Action and Conflict being the aggrieved women themselves. The cast of characters as developed by David Webb Peoples and director/producer Clint Eastwood are a sordid bunch. We see the earthy and grim parts of a lot of the "Wild West" and learn that Gun Control is not just a measure of the contemporary U.S. political groupings. I don't quite think that the main character is an anti-hero but he does seem a bit like a reformed addict pushed to the breaking point. It is not for the young and over-sensitive. UNFORGIVEN (1992) is a good example of a two-hour feature that doesn't need the big tech-effects to keep us thrilled and on the edges of our seats. It does reflect a kind of critique of gun violence while showing that guns can provide a kind of means of revenge where the "bad" people get their comeuppance. I rate it an "8" *
V for Vendetta (2005)
This movie presupposes too much back-story
I agree with the positive reviewers that this is a very good film but what keeps it from the 10-star "Excellent" rating for me is that it requires that those viewing it are already in on the format and back story. The originator of the graphic novel may be the one who needs to provide a little more of his original conception in some sort of DVD featurette. Also, the version of the DVD I watched lacked a Director - Producer Commentary track. It is also a bit distracting how Evey seems to be the same age entirely throughout. Did some time elapse or not? I do rate this film-project a 9 -- it is well worth viewing and thinking about!
Zero Hour (2013)
The show "Zero Hour" (2012) from ABC offers its pilot - premiere episode viewers a kind of Flash Back to Nazi Germany and Flash Return to post 2001 U.S.A. where the "fate of the world" hangs in the balance. It was quite ironic that during the early Feburary 2013 week of media hype over a Bavarian Pope (Benedict XVI also Joseph Ratzinger) and his early resignation from a "life" appointment to the Chair of the Roman Catholic highest priestly office that this ABC Fantasy - Thriller also focuses on Germany and its 75 year ago crises and power struggles with the "Free World." The inhabitants in the Nazi universe of 75 years ago all speak flawless English and those who have survived to the year 2013 -- are quite aware of what is the Treasure and "Holy Grail" of the week that will determine the fate of the future. The appeal of this show is to fans of the TV series "Lost" as well as the Movie franchise "The da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" -- I will watch through the first weeks of set-up but was a bit wary when I sort of wondered if a sniper was to have been part of the plot line and was relieved that it was instead just a surveillance camera on the Ransom Drop for the Kidnapped Wife of the primary Lead Character. Give this eclectic series a chance but we must insist that the inherent problems (are there really "12" corners of the world?) be at least given some sort of internal logic due to a viable Sci-Fi mechanism. My Rating is just an "8" for this pilot - series kick-off 43 minute episode.
In contrast to recent Times Square Car Bomb plot (May 2010) - this movie is paltry faked fright scene
The Movie QUARANTINE has a gimmick -- that of a local news team going on a kind of "embed" (fully approved following around and miking the firemen/EMTs) for a rescue intervention to a multi-floor apartment that has a cross-section of the sick and dying and infected. Once the people who have been given a case of the "rage" (see the much better 28_DAYS_LATER) emerge from the shadows and begin to attack/bite and kill the hapless victims in their paths, the film is on its quite predictable if horrifying path of gross-out effects that are not at all given any kind of framework for viewers to see and to care even a little bit. In this first week of May 2010, there was a much more gripping actual event that could have been an urban event of gigantic mayhem and destruction/killing. That car bomb that was luckily spotted and kept harmless however was still a chilling example of the kind of real-world scenario that makes us all glad of the first responders and the law enforcement who do have people's lives, liberties, and pursuit of happiness in mind.
Do not - repeat Don't - borrow this film nor buy it; spend your time with learning about Field Emergency First Aid and keeping one's neighbor safe from infection and the spread of real-world plagues like MRSA and other non-antibiotic-responding infections. It will be a greater use that may help/educate you with aiding your fellow human beings -- unlike this Zombie-exploitation "B" movie
A worthy effort to give "New Directions" to High School depiction (21st century)
This is a cleverly written and well-cast show that seems to exist in a kind of "private school"/money-is-no-object kind of universe. The High Schoolers and the Faculty / Administration live in Midwestern USA but have a kind of search for meaning that takes a long, long time to realize. The high school seems to be underpopulated with hall monitors and deans/assistant principals who will enforce rules and nab the offenders who are hazing other students mercilessly. The pilot gave a kind of funny behind-the-scenes look into how teachers in the late 2000s remain under-paid and co-opted as far as how they do work to make the teens people who are seeking to succeed in "the real world". I really enjoyed the off-beat choices as far as the Glee Club / Swing Choir rock and R/B covered music. Kudos to writers and director!
Marathon Man (1976)
NY Locations are conveying meaning as do the stellar acting ensemble
I saw this movie in its original theatrical run and am still impressed some 32 years later with the director's choices and the grit these consummate actors undertook and executed in such vivid manner. I was terrified with the scene I had forgotten when the "Babe" character is trying to fall asleep in the bathtub and it makes the sense of being cornered by the burglars so visceral. Kudos to the screenwriter and director who have made other classics! I hadn't put it together until watching the DVD featurette-movie's impact by its 25th anniversary that Dustin Hoffman was during the film so late in his 30s, age-wise. He is an American treasure and Laurence Olivier truly was an actor for the entire century! Watch this film for certain film locations and the New York City (places and people) of the mid-1970s will jump out at you as well. I know that other films have achieved some of the "tricks" of this movie better but I still rank it uttermost from the vivid ways it works on the audience member who is willing to suspend disbelief about the ways that regular people could combat evil personified.
How post-modern can you get?
I didn't care for this film at all but did laugh out loud at just a few moments of black humor and insightful satire on the American High School. The director/writer is a little too cynical and loves to rub it in to his audience that he is "smarter" than the average American. Post-modern devices like giving the transgressors the rewards while punishing some of the "bad guys" by chewing them up in a kind of museum of horrors is not what I choose to view in feature films. If I were you (IMDb comment browser) I'd rent RUSHMORE that is ten times funnier and realizes that adultery/sex with students is not up for joking around with ! Very odd choices for soundtrack and background music I must admit - - they actually advance the plot, such as it is.
Twenty year flash forward & backward problematical
I enjoyed this book by Stephen King and would have been pleased if it had never been made into a movie - - now that I have seen the Goldman (screenwriter) & Kasdan (director - co-writer) adaptation on DVD this Labor Day Weekend 2007 I'm quite sure that a major studio mega-budget can't fix what your imagination can. My advice is read the book and then pick a title that's not related to a prior media project (e.g. PAN'S_LABYRINTH of last year). The set-up for DREAMCATCHER (novel and movie) is classic Stephen King as far as defeating evil that has possessed and contaminated the community. The song that is vintage early Baby Boomer ("Blue Bayou" / Roy Orbison) that somehow is a "stuck in the mind" common denominator DOESN'T quite work as far as its origin and various covers fitting the 20 years prior to 2003 or whatever the year of the film's time setting. What goes extremely haywire in this action film replete with gross-out sh*t-weasels (King's way of scaring the readers way out of our comfort zones) is the not-very convincing military scenes that reminded me way, way too much of MEN_IN_BLACK as far as super-villain aliens who can be wiped out with only a barely detectable sense of "shoot first, ask questions later" and no unintended consequences to follow. The book is much more frightening as far as the way that Jonesy is held prisoner in his Warehouse of Memories and he figures out ways to entice Mr. Gray to overplay "his hand" and plan for world domination. The DVD extra of having Stephen King make a kind of cameo amongst the Special Feature choices was great for fans like me but I still have trouble rating this horror-action film more than a 7 in IMDb's rating system. I would rate it a R-16 and not just a PG-13 if I was running the MPAA system. Kids might inadvertently learn not to drive fast through snowy roads (even if you are seat-belted) as some of the characters learn, crashing with surprisingly minor injuries.
I would give this a PG-16 and the musical ONCE a PG-14
Although there is much to enjoy as far as shocking and jolting Narrative twists and turns that the director of DISTURBIA takes us on, it is ultimately a bit trivial in a bigger scheme of things. I understand that it was a project that got shelved and put into production after a long wait. The edginess of it all does OK with its updating of REAR WINDOW (the Hitchcock thriller about a crippled voyeuristic photographer in a stuffy NYC apartment.) DISTURBIA (2007) came out this spring around Easter/Spring Vacation in the close vicinity of a real-life drama that received publicity in the St. Louis area where a stalker-pedophile was trying to "warehouse" teenage boys and the seemingly "normal neighbor" was foiled in his last kidnap only by an observant fellow student on a school bus who reported to police the relevant clue about the make and color of car that was being driven to crate the victim to his "lair". There are comedic moments but also some gross-out ones that apparently enthralled a wide teen audience this spring ahead of the crowds awaiting SPIDER-MAN 3 in May. Due to the viciousness of certain actions of this film's villain I would rank it not as a PG limiting it to 13-year-olds but to 16-year-olds and older. That might also prove a bit of a severe lesson about driving while distracted by cell phone well above the speed limit. A much better film for those of the plus-14 age ranges is the UK musical-reality based feature film taking place in Dublin streets, a music store, a recording studio, and low-rent quarters titled ONCE (currently in theatres Summer 2007). After its R-rated language of the first moments, viewers must admire ONCE for its long-enduring and hummable soundtrack - display of musical virtuoso on the pop music end of things. I evaluate DISTURBIA at the level of 7 while I highly regard the suspense classic REAR WINDOW (1954) as a 10 here at Internet Movie Database.
Perfect modernization of boy meets girl in Musical Universe
I saw this film in a small theatre last evening (Friday Aug. 17) with 75-100 others and simply was enthralled. It is deserving of a severe rating for harsh and explicit language issues but the Restriction ("R") is really missing the spirit of this highly commendable film made in 2006 to be targeted at a young adult audience. What the pop-rock music conveys is the skill and tunefulness and pride in one's creative juices versus the over-produced and technically questionable extreme loud general audience Pop music of recent years. The Dublin setting for "Once" comes across as noisy and authentic and the situations work well to link the songs in a way that other youth musicals gone to the movies (prime examples of which are "Rent" and "High School Musical") just don't ultimately succeed in persuading viewers of a certain sophistication. I am not quite keen of hearing to catch part of what happened in some of the sections of the movie where the dialect Irish accented people were given lines but the main character is easily understood and the female lead didn't always get her Czech subtitled. The Soundtrack for this film will likely sell lots and lots of copies later this year - - I am hoping that an Oscar nomination is in the realm of possibility for those music specialists in the Academy who are paying attention to small masterpieces like this 85-minute film! See "Once" yourself in a theatre and don't just wait for its DVD premiere!
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Makes little sense except to Book Aficianados
I borrowed this DVD from our Family Video outlet and was quite underwhelmed as far as other recent treatments of the same kind of set-up. After this production company (Walden) had succeeded in adapting C.S. Lewis' CHRONICLES_OF_NARNIA:LION_WITCH_WARDROBE, I presumed that this would be rather given the narrative framework of what's more like a look back at childhood with an adult narrator telling about the significant year from grade school (previously done in a classic way in the adaptation of TO_KILL_A_MOCKINGBIRD). My expectations of there being an anchor and solid correspondence with the book failed terribly. I had read the book 20 or so years ago; since many plot developments seem so scrambled and incomprehensible (key is the one where the main character has gone away for a day without parental permission) As well as the dearth of supervisory figures during the recess and lunch periods. The Studio's Budgeted money thrown at some of the special visual effects and animation should have been better allocated as a shift into a animation-graphic representation type presentation and not a blend of live-action and blue screen fantastic creatures that are essentially unexplained from the plot. All of you who love the book and who read and re-read it for imagination's sake - - go ahead and share good reviews here. As for me, though, I would send the adult audience out in search at your video outlet for PAN'S_LABRYINTH or the early 80's MY_GIRL with Macauley Calkin. Rank this one as a 7 in my evaluation!
The Departed (2006)
Entertaining Remake and Impassioned Acting
I am so glad to have seen this contender for "Best Picture" from last year and I fully understand how this fits into the Lifetime Achievement of a notable American director - Martin Scorsese. It still does not really extend the engaging story of the original Hong Kong thriller-cop drama "Infernal Affairs". I must say that I felt that the original movie was thoroughly engaging with (for me) regular-looking actors and the 2006 remake seemed a bit of a tour de force for several highly paid actors to "earn their chops" (i.e. salaries in the millions). The movie also served as a way for the New York-born director to work out some resentments toward authoritarian systems (e.g. city police forces, state police academies, Roman Catholic clergy, abusive relatives, alcoholic-enabling family members, plus more). My prediction is that the Academy on Feb. 25-upcoming may reward the adapted screenplay work and the direction but NOT give this the ultimate Oscar when the whole show is over. A good movie but not on the superb level that "The Usual Suspects" was a few years ago.
Lady in the Water (2006)
Do you believe mankind can be saved?
I was one of 50 or so afternoon matinée audience members to see this film on its first day of release. The experience of viewing it on the large screen was certainly highly worthwhile since it at times grabs and pushes you to moments of fear, sadness, and elation. Maybe it is a bit gimmicky and new age-ish for some people's passing judgment on it but I found it enthralling. The performances are top-notch as we see some physical transformation and special effects, much better than those in the director's SIGNS (2002), that keep us guessing whether our sense of movie conventions can be trusted or not. If I could tone down some aspects of it, I guess the music was a bit heavy to affect first-time viewers; the motley group that comprise the apartment complex population was quite a bit more harmonious than much of America 2006 (Year 5 of the "war on terror") is usually depicted in the mass media and in my circle of experience. I give a vote of confidence to this director who has invested a lot of hope in the salvation of humanity - - via myths - symbols - group problem-solving. I will be going back to see this film for a second and third viewing!
Red Eye (2005)
How to escape a bad "seat assignment"
I enjoyed this Wes Craven film on DVD and the accompanying "Making of" Featurettes. It is deliberately "take your brain out" to enjoy the thrills and action sequences but the hero makes amends for the forced help she had to give the "manager"/terrorist. It did distract me a bit that the only Texas people seem to be the maligned "Dr. Phil" (now a longtime syndicated talk show psychologist) and the "reality-TV" celebrity of the second order -Cody of Survivor DOWN UNDER season - is given a thankless part and does that part quite unremarkably. Much better is Rachel McAdams and the villainous Cillian Murphy provides some heart-stopping delivered lines and stunts/action sequences himself. It is amusing to see how the airline "seat assignment" is a kind of hellish torture that in these post-9/11/2001 days would seem to be less inescapable as the screenplay implied. As far as my limited experiences on domestic flights, people overhear and eavesdrop a lot more than anyone does, according to the film's internal logic and "etiquette". Single women should always travel in pairs according to the film since "as a team" they can defeat the worst al Qaeda can throw at young Americans (wishful thinking). I rate it an 8 * feature.
Kyle XY (2006)
A Parable for Foster Care
This mystery-science fiction series pilot shows a lot of promise as far as commentary on how far can the "helping professions" go; it is definitely a "blue state" kind of show (set in Washington State) since it implies a kind of alien visitor who can be plopped in front of "old style" computers and assumed to be techno-adept without much sense of what language he speaks or their importance. The director knows how to fold in a certain sense of threat and danger without going off in bizarre or grotesque scenarios. The helping family is seemingly ready to become the means to socialize the alien/savant and they are "instant foster parents/siblings" since the mother is apparently a state social worker/psychologist at Children/Family services of that state/county. The alien (Kyle is a "name" which seems a little too quickly attached to him) doesn't come with supernatural tools as did the "STARMAN" of a few years ago but he isn't quite a full amnesiac either since he is capable of narrating the first episode at least. For those of you looking for a mildly entertaining made-for-network series, on the basis of its pilot (June 30) I give it a 9 * rating). I hope the next episodes get shown on ABC main network and the creative thinking is given its full credit.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
History - - written by the "winners"
I found the Ron Howard - Akiva Goldman collaboration to be on quite a set of parallel developments as the earlier A_BEAUTIFUL_MIND. The hero is quite a commendable figure and his feminine co-seeker is beautiful while never looking mussed-up or tired from the ordeals he puts her under. Like the Nobel Prize winner who observed a startling "theory of equilibrium", the hero-professor has a mind that solves millennium-old problems of a highly theoretical and conceptual level - - even resolving the difference in a riddle between "the" Pope and "A" Pope (i.e. Alexander Pope). Unlike a lot of the people who are wanting the film to be a clear extreme "battle" in the ongoing Culture War between believers and non-believers, I place the background material (2003 novel THE_da_Vinci_CODE) in the category of fiction, strictly tongue-in-cheek. I wish it had spent more time on Leonardo and a lot less on Emperor Constantine; the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene will remain in the realm of the imaginative and can't be wholly decided as to the nature of their earthly relationship. While the best moments of the movie come when we're least expecting them (attacks by the deranged Silas who somehow has blue eyes while being an albino), the worst moments of the film come when the audience is presumed to already be fully initiated into what landmarks are in Paris (Louvre, Sant-Sulpice)and what's in London (Church of the Temple, Westminster burial site of Isaac Newton). As a puzzle-enthusiast I enjoyed the sequences that required us to do a certain rapid amount of anagram shuffling. What I didn't appreciate was the presumption that the blame for Crusades and Medieval Witch executions was some type of conspiracy that has had a "lid" on it until recent authors have opened and gathered all the clues. When you say that "History" is what you make it - - you have cut loose all the connections to what's reasonable and verifiable, granted that fair interpretation matters. I do believe that this film will last longer than the small-minded "crusaders" who dramatically view it as a threat to religion in general. Therefore, the Winners (Ron Howard, Akiva Goldman) have produced and directed a wacky and roller-coaster of a movie that can only be understood as fiction - - repeat after me - - only a story, only a story !
Saint Ralph (2004)
Inspirational but might confuse pre-teens
This 2004 feature film from Canada is a gem and deserves a lot of credit for showing some of the athletic determination that isn't about basketball and football. The hero is a kid with minimal family support and the priests in his parochial school are a real mixed-bag. He does find a supportive adult in the nurse who cares for his mother who has been totally incapacitated and is in the 1950s era hospital. The elements that don't quite fit include the 14-year-old's quite contemporary haircuts and the ease he goes from not running to running the 26+ miles necessary for a full marathon. The screenplay does bring up some of the intolerance that was out-and-out bullying by clergy and administrators in Catholic institutions and yet also leave out some of the ways the kid has eluded getting caught without elder supervision and household tending for many, many months. Despite plot weaknesses, SAINT_RALPH deserves a 9 * rating and it has some real belly-laughs throughout. Rent it and talk about its message of "miracles" with your loved ones!
Poor man's "Passion" - depiction
This documentary uses a mega-title to cover its deficiencies and low budget dimensions. From closing credits I notice that it was a film project from S. California Americans; this doesn't explain so many shots of Sydney Australia, Rome Italy, and Jerusalem Israel, however. The film was shot on location in L.A. - - with a strikingly vivid shot of Jesus walking toward the "Hollywood" sign in the long distance in its final section. "THE_LIFE_AND_PASSION" is made-for-cable, I assume, but has hybridized some rather uniformly constrained academic voices on the historicity of the New Testament authors & documents with a mini-Passion Play version of a harmonized Crucifixion and Death of Christ. Not what I was expecting especially with its similarly weak dependence on the Pat Boone insertions and classic art being shown. Look for something with more depth from other distributors and religious commentators is my advice. 6 stars only. For a take on the other extreme as far as a "non-traditional" coverage of a company portraying the Palm Sunday to Good Friday events - - rent Jesus OF MONTREAL (it is R-rated and not for the little ones or mid-teens).
Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)
Family film that will charm the heart of pet lovers of all ages
This film came amazingly quickly to Video/DVD. I am so thankful that we got to borrow it at Blockbuster and then buy it the same week. The Wayne Wang adaptation of the DiCamillo children's novel was brought to the small screen with some great extras. The DVD featurettes and "Gag reel" are quite amusing;the commentary track I listened to (Producer and Adult co-star) was far above average in the run of such extras. The 106-minute film had no weak sequences. To my taste, the special effect sequences were so tasteful and brief while moving forward the attention-grabbing narrative. In COMMENTS, I am usually more of a stickler about filmed locations versus the supposed state/region. The Florida setting was believable even though the Louisiana "reality" was discernible. The interplay between the dog and the adult and child actors was very, very well-shot. The Picardy shepherd breed dog(brought from France) was one I unhesitatingly endorse as a "10" animal actor, considering other famous canines, small, medium, and large. Do run to the video store and see this superb production!
War of the Worlds (2005)
Spielberg can't make sense of 9/11/2001
The film I saw with a sparse matinée crowd here in southwest Michigan reminded of better treatments that offered audiences surprise, novelty, and more toned-down pleasant amazement. This, after all, is the same filmmaker who brought us CLOSE_ENCOUNTERS_OF_THE_THIRD_KIND and E.T. in his heyday and now that he is a "message" director he apparently felt he could team with hyperactive celebrity/mogul Tom Cruise and bring some sort of answers to our troubled times of war and terrorism. For those of you deciding whether or not to see the film, I'd recommend to wait for the DVD release. It cannot see "forest for the trees" of its visually overstimulated usage of effects like all our worst nightmares (tornadoes, mass transit cataclysms, spy intercept and machine killing technology, earthquakes, even some U.S. military impotence against foes that won't surrender!). The scenes that deal with the wrecked planes and missing persons' posters were heart-wrenching for those of us for whom September 11, 2001 is still a foundational date of destiny. Shame on you, Mr. Spielberg for trying to insinuate something about destroyers "buried" ready for activation (sleeper cells of the al Qaeda variety) and the young boy/rebel thinking that joining vigilante-style in the Army/Reserve assault that seems rather disorganized and knee-jerk will "solve" the confrontation between the destroyers and those about to be destroyed. This film certainly was apparently rushed in some ways to meet a "gap" in the Hollywood schedule as far as a 2005 blockbuster. Its "framework" narration does give one pause. Certainly for those of us aware of the levels of material utilized by those drawing on past versions of this tale of the 1890's by H.G. Wells the WAR is won by forces humanity has taken for granted, apart from any sort of prayerful plea for help like the 1950s version of the WAR. Maybe this S. Spielberg creation will look better to me later when I see it and can stop and start the puzzling sequences. For me, a 8* out of 10*.
Batman Begins (2005)
Superb updating with slight retro back story elements
I saw this in a multiplex audience and everyone gasped and cheered at the peaks of thrills and visual effects. The "history of Batman" is treated with respect and suffers none of the indignities of the 60s TV series. I was stymied a bit as to how the modern-day elements fitted with the "classic" setups of the Wayne family helping society overcome the "Depression" (1929- late 1930s); I guess the director/writer assumed we would make a "jump over the logical paradoxes" with him and the Ninja-fighting styles. Quite a super choice to offer this Director such a mega-budget when story is his predominant strength. I would recommend that parents leave the under-13 crowd at home and talk to the young teens about some disturbing imagery, like the attacking crowds who've been "poisoned" and the ethics of capital punishment. Well worth the trouble to get to a theater - - don't wait for it on the small screen! See it this June or July!
The difference made by moral courage
This mini-series is a bit challenging for those who don't remember some of the "routine" of the CIVIL_WAR (Ken Burns mini-series)documentary PBS episodes. For all of us who were impressed by the coordination of music with period still photography and enthusiastic people to give a personal "spin" on the history being recounted, this is a great tool to make history come alive. The two women have been under-appreciated and this well-timed presentation goes a long way to bringing them out of the shadows into the limelight. Kudos to the producers and backers of this educational documentary that gets it right - - women's voting mattered in a land that claims to be "home of the brave" !
Cold Mountain (2003)
Well worth renting - - a war movie with a heart
My wife and I enjoyed this studio adaptation of a superior recent novel and highly recommend it to film buffs. Not everyone rates it a "10" but it achieves a number of commendable priorities. It conveys the rage, gore, and horror of battlefield combat with its mass confusion (not being conveyed in the present-day coverage of the Iraqi Insurgent War and Afghanistan Taliban- al Qaeda battles); also, it highlights the ambiguity of "Support the Troops" when their place is so desperately needed back at the homes of their loved ones. I know that purists might object about the accents of the multi-national cast. It is, however, a treat to hear the talented actress Renee Zellweger have a go at the most rambunctious and endearing character of the entire film. The film's score and end credit music are quite excellent and demonstrate something of the character of that period of U.S. culture. The director and art-scenery department also have produced a landmark depiction, meant to update some of the cultural "imaging" done in the classic GONE_WITH_THE_WIND. It is a great 21st Century historical epic, well grounded by the novelist Charles Frazier, who also consulted in the making of the film itself.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Flawed epic is Blood-fest and visually hammering !
First of all, this film is not for the squeamish nor the uninformed as far as the history that underlies the somewhat oversimplifying "harmonization" approach to this sad part of world history. I ranked this major film of 2004 as a "7" and that's unusually low for me as far as movies that I had so much anticipation and had heard from many who were emotionally satisfied by. It is, however, quite oddly anti-Semitic even as it makes the cultural context so essential, given that the major languages of the time and place (Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin) are what the film dialogue is conveyed in. I have seen over much of my life such "PASSION plays and skits," both good and bad, but I found this one oddly visceral and bloody for special-effect pizazz sake. I just don't understand what's happening with its extended VIA DOLOROSA segments, the good soldier-bad soldier politicking, and special effect-loaded punch as the dead Jesus is taken down from the cross in a thunderstorm by sympathetic Romans who all have sympathy for Mother Mary. The Satanic scenes are slo-mo for bad purposes in my opinion. The macho fight scene in the Garden Gethsemane did work, however; the Malchus (ear-cut off) healing episode was effectively reminiscent of other similar epics like THE_ROBE, BEN-HUR, etc. The diverging sorts of flashbacks and Jesus POV shots felt out-of-place since the film attempts to convey again and again the intense physical suffering and spiritual struggle with an unearthly Satan-figure. What an odd blend of Middle-Eastern music soundtrack and loud, loud looping of dialogue only partly subtitled! I believe this may be better in a DVD format when you can alter some of that distraction from the sometimes quite effective flashbacks. I do wish that the make-up was more consistent as far as making the Jerusalemites more uniformly dark-toned than sometimes all-too Italian. I also found it strange, strange, and hateful that Herod came across as the quintessential fop with a "bad wig" and sissy attributes. Mel Gibson knew about the villainous "fall guys" and resisted assigning much to blame Pilate for [which is historically untenuous]. Again this film is NOT for everyone; only mature 17+ year olds and people who have their emotions under control.