Monday, February 13, 2006

The Surprises in the movies from 2005.

These films are great surprises and seem to come from nowhere, you will get a look at massive hits and a few films that flew under the radar. Please see these films when you get the chance and if you can buy these on VCD or DVD here in Korea, and then please do.

11. Turtles Can Fly

Plot Outline. Set in Ghobadi's native Kurdistan, close to the Turkey-Iran border. Soran is a 13-year-old boy who orders other children around as he installs an antenna for villagers keen to hear of Saddam's fall. Eventually, he falls for Agrin but is disturbed by her brother Henkov, who was left armless after he stepped on a landmine and who can now seemingly predict the future.

Selected as Iran's submission in the Best Foreign Film category for the 2004 Oscars.

I was honored to see this film in Korea in 2005 and what a joy it was to watch, a real sad story and a very interesting look at war through the eyes of children. It got a very small release in Korea and in the USA. It is available on region 1 DVD. The end of the film will haunt you for awhile.

10. Kung Fu Hustle

Plot Outline: In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.

The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2006.

This film was funny and Stephen Chow does a great job of acting and directing in it. The film took a look at gangster movies and added a Kung Fu twist and made audiences around the world laugh. They are talking about a sequel to begin filming soon. I can only hope that it will be a funny as this film was.

9. The President’s Last Bang.

Plot Outline. A look at the life of President Park Chun-Hee and the events leading up to his assassination.
President's Park Chun-Hee's son took the film-makers to court to block the release as he claimed it tarnished the image of his father. Four minutes of documentary footage in the movie was censored by the courts which claimed that it would confuse viewers who may believe this film is non-fiction. The film-makers opted to leave four minutes of black screen where the scenes were cut.
The Film only received a 3 screen total viewing in the USA and will be released on DVD in USA on April 4 2006.
I recall when this film came out with the 4 minutes of black screen. The film is a fictional account of how former President Park was killed in 1979. A very good story and plot and a very interesting look at the late President.

8. Constantine

Plot Outline: Based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hell blazer and written by Kevin Brodbin, Mark Bomback and Frank Capello, Constantine tells the story of irreverent supernatural detective John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), who has literally been to hell and back. When Constantine teams up with skeptical policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister (also played by Weisz), their investigation takes them through the world of demons and angels that exists just beneath the landscape of contemporary Los Angeles. Caught in a catastrophic series of other worldly events, the two become inextricably involved and seek to find their own peace at whatever cost.
I have earlier stated what happens when a comic book or video game adaptation goes wrong. This film is what happens when it goes right. Not being a huge fan of the comic I decided that this was worth watching and I am so glad that I did. This film was great due to the basic fact, I had no clue of what was coming next and I loved the ride. Hopefully in a few years we will see a #2 for this film.

7. The King and the Clown.

Talk about a surprise as of today’s writing this in now the #3 all time film in Korean Box Office history with over 10 Million Tickets sold. The film needs to be seen to believe. A great plot a great story. Plot Outline: Two clowns living in the Chosun Dynasty get arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king. They are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution, but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh. Keep an eye out for the one who the King loves, it will blow your mind. My translation was very bad so I will give this another chance when it comes out on DVD. The Korean audience was in love with the film.

6. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Plot Outline: It's 'vege-mania' in Wallace and Gromit's neighborhood, and our two enterprising chums are cashing in with their humane pest-control outfit, "Anti-Pesto." With only days to go before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, business is booming, but Wallace & Gromit are finding out that running a "humane" pest control outfit has its drawbacks as their West Wallaby Street home fills to the brim with captive rabbits. Suddenly, a huge, mysterious, veg-ravaging "beast" begins attacking the town's sacred vegetable plots at night, and the competition hostess, Lady Tottington, commissions Anti-Pesto to catch it and save the day. Lying in wait, however, is Lady Tottington's snobby suitor, Victor Quartermaine, who'd rather shoot the beast and secure the position of local hero-not to mention Lady Tottingon's hand in marriage. With the fate of the competition in the balance, Lady Tottington is eventually forced to allow Victor to hunt down the vegetable chomping marauder. Little does she know that Victor's real intent could have dire consequences for her ...and our two heroes?

I knew that this would work in a short 4 minute carton but was quite surprised when it worked as a movie. The film did so-so in the USA and to be honest I have no idea why, I was laughing from the start of the film to the very end when they said that no rabbits were hurt during the production of the film. If you missed it please see it when you need a great laugh.

5. Batman Begins.

Plot Outline: A new restart of the "Batman" franchise under the helm of "Memento" Director Chris Nolan and more in tone with the early "Batman: Year One" style comics. As a boy a young Bruce Wayne watched in horror as his millionaire parents were slain in front of his eyes, a trauma which led him to become obsessed with revenge but his chance is cruelly taken away from him by fate. After disappearing to the East where he seeks counsel with the dangerous but honorable ninja cult leader known as Ra's Al-Ghul, he returns to his now decaying Gotham City overrun by organized crime and dangerous individuals manipulating the system whilst the company he inherited is slowly being pulled out from under him. The discovery of a cave under his mansion, and a prototype armored suit leads him to take on a new persona, one which will strike fear into the hearts of men who do wrong - he becomes, Batman. In the new guise, and with the help of rising cop Jim Gordon, Batman sets out to take down the various nefarious schemes in motion by individuals such as mafia don Falcone, the twisted doctor/drug dealer Jonathan 'The Scarecrow' Crane, and a mysterious third party that is quite familiar with Wayne and waiting to strike when the time is right.

When Batman is done wrong we get the horrible George Clooney Version, when it is done right we get this and much more. With the casting as Michael Caine as Alfred and the addition of Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), you get a great film. I loved the in house joke about the “Office Space” line… Did you get the memo? Keep it up; I am looking forward to the next chapter.

4. Hustle and Flow

Plot Outline: Rapper DJay (Howard) works the angles to get his first record made, with help from assorted people in his Memphis 'hood. And when he hears that rap superstar Skinny Black (Ludacris) is heading to his area, he throws together a supreme hustle to grab Skinny's attention. A rap star from the Dirty South who is trying to make it in the hip hop world, he has to deal with many different types of people who try to bring him down, including strippers, baby's mama, and all the things that try to keep a player down. This is probably his last chance to make it, he is approaching his 40's, and his life is looking downhill.

Terrence Howard has been nominated for Best Actor from OSCAR for his role as DJay.

The only reason I even saw this film was that I was waiting for an order to come in and the crowd around me kept talking about this film and that it had to be seen to be believed. I had nothing planned for that day so I decided to take a chance on this film. I am so glad that I did. You see man realize that he has one shot to make his Rap dream come true and you get to go along for the ride. Howard with this film and his small role in the “Crash” and in the “Four Brothers” looks like he is ready to take the next step into becoming a major Hollywood actor.

3. March of the Penguins

Plot Summary. Each winter, alone in the pitiless ice deserts of Antarctica, deep in the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, a truly remarkable journey takes place as it has done for millennia. Emperor penguins in their thousands abandon the deep blue security of their ocean home and clamber onto the frozen ice to begin their long journey into a region so bleak, so extreme; it supports no other wildlife at this time of year. In single file, the penguins march blinded by blizzards, buffeted by gale force winds. Guided by instinct, by the otherworldly radiance of the Southern Cross, they head unerringly for their traditional breeding ground where--after a ritual courtship of intricate dances and delicate maneuvering, accompanied by a cacophony of ecstatic song--they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate. The females remain long enough only to lay a single egg. Once this is accomplished, exhausted by weeks without nourishment, they begin their return journey across the ice-field to the fish-filled seas. The male emperors are left behind to guard and hatch the precious eggs, which they cradle at all times on top of their feet. After two long months during which the males eat nothing, the eggs begin to hatch. Once they have emerged into their ghostly white new world, the chicks can not survive for long on their fathers' limited food reserves. If their mothers are late returning from the ocean with food, the newly-hatched young will die. Once the families are reunited, the roles reverse, the mothers remaining with their new young while their mates head, exhausted and starved, for the sea, and food. While the adults fish, the chicks face the ever-present threat of attack by prowling giant petrels. As the weather grows warmer and the ice floes finally begin to crack and melt, the adults will repeat their arduous journey countless times, marching many hundreds of miles over some of the most treacherous territory on Earth, until the chicks are ready to take their first faltering dive into the deep blue waters of the Antarctic.

When French Cinema goes wrong, I rejoice with glee, when they get it right, I usually love it. (Please see “The Brotherhood of the Wolves” for a great example when the French get it right) The fact that I have praised 2 French Films, this one and “Joyeux Noel” has surprised some of my friends. If you can see it please see it with the English Narration completed by Morgan Freeman. It has received a nomination from OSCAR for the Best Documentary, Features Award.
2. The Wedding Crashers.

Plot Outline: Guided by a set of "wedding crashing rules," Washington, D.C. divorce mediators John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) can charm their way into any wedding...and into the hearts of every bridesmaid...for one night. But at the biggest social event of the year, John breaks the rules and falls for Claire Cleary, the daughter of the United States Secretary of Treasury, William Cleary (Christopher Walken), and Jeremy is left at the mercy of her "stage-five-clinger" sex-crazed sister Gloria (Isla Fisher). Being there for his buddy, Jeremy follows John to the family's huge estate for a weekend that may even be too wild for these professional party animals.

With a modest budget for US films ($40,000,000) this film has grossed over (209,000,000) and became a huge hit in the USA. Please see all 114 rules of the wedding crashers on IMDB site, trivia section. Rachel McAdams star also shines in this film as being the love interest for John Beckwith. Please see the unrated version with about 10 extra minutes added to the film.

And the number 1 surprise film of 2005 was

The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Plot Outline. 40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) has done quite a few things in his life. He's got a cushy job stamping invoices at an electronics superstore, a nice apartment with a proud collection of action figures and comic books, good friends, a nice attitude. But there's just one little thing he hasn't quite gotten around to doing yet--something most people have done by his age. Done a lot. Andy's never, ever, ever had sex--not even by accident. So is that such a big deal? Well, for Andy's buds at the store, it sure is. Although they think he's a bit of an oddball, there's certainly a planet full of stranger (and homelier) guys who've at least had one go at having a go. They consider it their duty to help Andy out of his dire situation and go to great lengths to help him. But nothing proves effective enough to lure their friend out of lifelong chastity until he meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a 40-year-old mother of three. Andy's friends are psyched by the possibility that "it" may finally happen...until they hear that Andy and Trish have begun their relationship based on a mutual no-sex policy.

This film has been Carell’s Breakout role and with Keener being nominated for an Oscar for her work in “Capote” this film could be the start of bigger things for both of the stars in the film. Please watch the unrated version of this movie with an extra 17 minutes added to the film, I was laughing all day with memories after I saw this for the first time.
Now with films that were pleasant surprises the next section deals with films that had the potential to be good or better that what showed up on the movie screen. The next sections are the films that have been the Disappointments of 2005.

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