This list is my top 50 films from 2000-2009.
50. 12:08 East of Bucharest(Romanian)
Back in 2006 I listed this film as #16 on my Best of the year list. I have seen the film a few times since I fist saw it at the Pusan International Film Festival. The film has gotten better each time that I have watched it. It is a simple film with a simple question and by the end of the film, you really don't have a good answer. I think that you will walk away with seeing a great film.
49. Shutter (2004) (Thailand)
I had head that this was going to be a scary film. After, I saw the film, I had no idea how great of a film this would be. The film had a very simple plot about a wronged ghost now seeking revenge and by the end of the film, I loved it. If you like horror films, then please go and see this version and forget about the 20008 USA remake.
48. Hero (2002) (China)
What I had to do back in 2003 to see this film. Because Miramax Studios had the USA film distribution rights and had delayed the film a few times, I finally resorted to ordering a copy of the film from A Chinese DVD company. After I saw the film, I was so happy that I had ordered it. I was finally able to see the film in the USA I was glad that Miramax did not alter the film. The film is basically one mans path to kill a man that he thinks is evil but by the end he makes a decision that helps to unify China. the film was criticized for being very Pro-Communist Chinese, I hope that you will give the film a chance and please see it if you haven't already.
Cameron Crowe is the director of this film and with his films it has been, I loved it (Say Anything, Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous) or hated it (Singles, Vanilla Sky)
The plot of this film had me worried to say the least, It deals with the loss of a father. I lost mine last year and to be honest still trying to deal with it and to be more honest, not doing that good of a job with it. I knew that I had to see the film but I feared what it would bring.
I can honestly say that, to me, this is his best work, as of to date.
The film vindicates what I have been thinking about Orlando Bloom. He can be a strong #2 in a film (Lord of the Rings trilogy and Pirates of the Caribbean) but with the box office failure of “The Kingdom Of Heaven” can he be counted on being the star of the film? He pulled it off with a excellent acting job in this film.
The plot is real simple here, boy genesis design the new brand of shoe but the shoe is recalled and the company that he works for looses 976 million dollars because of this failure. His boss is played by Alec Baldwin, who has a cameo role, and tells Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) that what he will have to cut because of the loss. The 1 Billion dollar story is awesome. He then looses his girlfriend, then he decided to go home and kill himself.
While he is attempting to kill himself, his sister calls on his cell phone to inform him that their father had died and that he is needed to go to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to retrieve his father’s body. He tells himself that after he does this he will return home to finish the job.
What I found really funny was when the family was together celebrating his fathers life, it reminded me a lot of my family. Crowe does a good job to show how a family interacts with each other.
The music was awesome and with the last 20 minutes of the film you see Drew start to come to terms with all that has happened to him with Claire’s unusual help. The Wedding sidebar is awesome and is played well with a new love and a passing story told together. You will either get this film or you will not. This is a date movie, but when it comes to the big screen this will be a solo for me. If you have lost somebody close recently then this film will hit home, and at times, too hard.
Many years after this film was released, I still love it and the majority of people still hate it.
46. Zero Day
The film is a 2003 mockumentry about a school shooting much along the lines of the Columbine High School massacre. I remember back in 2003 I was a huge fan of the Dallas Texas Angelika Film Center, they were playing these foreign and "Indy" films that I had heard about and instead of trying to order it via DVD, I could actually go to a movie and actually see it on the big screen.
I had seen the previews for this one for about 2 months before it came to the Angelika, I remember that I had read a preview from Yahoo Movies and I was off to see it. After the film was over , I knew that I had to see it again and I did. I really could not believe someone actually made a film like this and I loved it.
I have a copy of this film on DVD. I have let a few people borrow it and each time they have really been freaked out by it. The end of the film is what was really their biggest complaint. The film gives you, the viewer, a step by step how to do your own "Columbine". It still freaks me out a little every time I watch it.
45. Kung Fu Panda
I really had no idea if I was going to like this film. As a young boy, I grew up with Bruce Lee and the The Shaw Brothers. I knew that it was going to play at the IMAX and I knew that I had to see it.
I saw a lot of Kung-Fu film growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I heard that Dreamworks was working on an animated 3D film about a Kung-Fu Panda. I was thinking that this will either be good or this will be a huge disaster. Well, I did not like the film. I loved it.
The film opens up as A Panda (Jack Black) has gone to war to save the innocents and he soon has the “Awesome 5″ join him and they are going to fight an epic battle. There is only one problem, Its all a dream. You then see the panda wake up and go to his father (A Crane) and work in his noodle store. I loved the little joke about ownership and the “noodle dream”
We are then shown Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) have a premonition that the Evil warrior Tai Lung (Ian McShane), the former protege of his own protege, Shifu,(Dustin Hoffman) a muskrat, will escape from prison, and return to destroy their valley. Oogway orders a formal ceremony to fulfill a prophecy that of a mighty Dragon Warrior who can defeat him. To everyone, that is obviously one of the Furious Five, a quintet of supremely skilled martial artists trained by Shifu,should be picked. So when Po the Panda is selected the real story begins and I loved it.
It reminded me about all of the Kung-Fu films that I have seen in the past and I knew that they were going to give it a little twist. It was usually the one who you never expected to be the hero to save the day. What I loved what how Master Oogway said good-bye and gave his little advice to Shifu. You can see Shifu has a task but how do you train a panda?
What was funny was when he realized the it was food that could make the Panda become the warrior and it sure sounded stupid, but it works and it was great. Then near the end of the film, you see the final battle between good and evil. It took a lot from the Shaw's past films. It was a great action scene and it well worth seeing a few times, to see if you really saw all that this part has to offer.
The film works and was a nice tribute to the past Kung-Fu films.
Now, I thought that I would really not like this film. What a great film this was and especially the 2 DVD Unrated set. I saw a lot of the crazy things that I did as a teen and I really can’t believe that, the names may have changed, but the real story is the same.
The film talk about problems that teens go through and how their friends can either help them or muck it up some more. What you see in this film is 3 teens try and have a fun party and by the time of the end of the film, you might, just realize that you now have a teen classic in your possession.
43. Shaun of the Dead (England)
It is a 2004 British horror comedy directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Pegg plays Shaun, a man attempting to get some kind of focus in his life as he deals with his girlfriend, his mother and stepfather. At the same time he has to cope with an apocalyptic uprising of zombies.
I have, to this day, never been a huge fan of the "Zombie" film. So when I saw the preview at the Angelika, I was really surprised that I was laughing at this film. So when the film opened in the USA, I went and saw it and could not believe how much I loved it. The films tell of a very unusual plot, a love story and a zombie invasion. I really liked how ,in the end, they tied up the film together.
42. Good Bye Lenin! (Germany)
Well, once again I saw this films preview at the Angelika and once again, I went and saw the film and loved it. In a brief prologue, Alex Kerner (Daniel Brühl) recalls how proud he was along with his countrymen when the first German to enter space, came from East Germany.
The rest of the film is set in East Berlin, spanning from October 1989 to just after German unification a year later. Alex lives with his sister, Ariane (Maria Simon), his mother, Christiane (Katrin Sass), and Ariane's infant daughter, Paula. His father fled to the West in 1978, abandoning the family. In his absence, Christiane has become an ardent idealist and supporter of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (the Party). When she sees Alex being arrested in an anti-government demonstration, she suffers a near-fatal heart attack and falls into a coma. The police ignore Alexander's plea to assist his mother, rather releasing him later that evening to go and see her.
The rest of the film is her family setting up a version of East Germany that never really existed, to try and save her. It was a simple film that won some major film awards in Europe back in 2003.
Here are the reasons I gave why I think that this film failed at the box office. I have both of the split up films on Blu-ray and would like the 2 films combined with all of the fake trailers for the ultimate Blu-Ray release.
This was my earlier review of the film, where I broke the film down for those who were not fans of the NASCAR series, which a lot of this film is based on. I now have this film on blu-ray and eagerly await part 2 of this film.
39. United 93
I have always had a question about my life in the US Army and as a police officer, what would you do when you have to face real evil and its wants you dead. I was lucky, I was always able to skate around this without ever having to answer this decision. The people on flight United 93 has the same decision to make and the film deal with their reaction to insanity. They chose to try and save lives and by doing so gave up their own.
This will not be an easy film to watch, if you know anybody who lost anybody on this sad day then please do not see the movie, it will be too painful to remember. If you want to see a very good movie then I highly recommend this film. There are no big name stars in this film and some of the actually US Military and FAA people involved in the decision making of that day play themselves in the film. Near the end of the film, when you know what is going to happen, and the passengers and crew call to say goodbye to their loved ones, It will make you very angry and very sad at the same time.
The film is shot in real-time mode, so you feel as though you are actually there when the decisions are made to close the US airspace and when the US Military is totally caught flatfooted and they send planes up with no weapons and when the words are shouted, “Lets Roll!” I was hoping that maybe, just this one time, the people actually do get to go home to their loves ones, but alas it ends as it did in real time.
After the plane crashes, the film ends and you see written that the film is dedicated to the heroes of United flight 93, I just started to cry and I could not stop for awhile. As I said earlier, this film will be very hard to watch, but it needs to be seen.
This is the one film on this list that I can not watch again. I keep hoping that the film ends differently but when I last saw it, 3 years ago, I was still crying at the ending. So the ending hadn't changed.
38. Bang Rajan (Thailand)
What you have in this film is a 2000 Thai historical drama film depicting the battles of the Siamese village of Bang Rajan against Burmese invaders in 1767. Oliver Stone loved this film and when it was show in the USA its title was "Oliver tone Presents Bang Rajan".
In an attempt to simplify an explanation of this movie, "It's the Thai version of their Alamo". The film is very violent, very bloody and very good. It looks like there will be a sequel to this film coming out of Thailand in 2010.
37. Monsters Inc.
This film came out back in 2001 with an original idea. What if the monsters that we see in our nightmares are really here so they can prevent an energy crisis back in their world? I remember thinking that the idea of this plot sounded new and that it was done by Pixar, so it might be worth a viewing.
What was shown was a 94 minute film that should not have worked but it did. It made you actually feel sorry for the monsters and by the end they have replaced fear with humor. What I also liked about this film was the story of the little girl "Boo" and her monster protector "Sully". When she calls this 6" plus monster "Kitty", it was just too funny. The film has recently been released in the Blu-Ray format and deserved to be re-watched or seen for the very first time.
36. The Chaser (South Korea)
The plot of the story was actually original. It tells of an ex-police officer, who has become a pimp. He keeps losing his girls and is not sure why. Its a busy night and he sends one of his girls to a nice house with a nice man. The pimp then realizes that he sent another girl to this # and she is now missing also. The cat and mouse game now begins between Eom Joong-ho (The pimp) and Ji Yeong-min,(the serial killer).
I remember seeing this at CGV and I could not believe how much I was into this film. The plots kept twisting and I was never sure what was coming next. For A horror film to become a classic, to me, it must have the "Ah Damn" moment where the audience can not believe what just went down. When this film has it, the Korean audience could not believe what they had just seen and I went, "Hello Classic". Please get a copy of this film in DVD or VCD and watch it.
35. Memories of Murder (Korean: 살인의 추억 Sarinui Chueok) (South Korea)
When you really start to watch films from a foreign county, you start to have favorite stars and directors from each country. As for South Korea, my favorite actor is Song Kang-ho. My rule is very simple with this actor, if he is in the film, then I see it opening weekend in Korea.
At the start of the film, in October 1986, a young woman is found raped and murdered in a ditch near a field. Soon after, another woman is found raped and murdered in a field. Local detective Park Doo-man(Song Kang-ho), not having dealt with such a serious case before, is overwhelmed; key evidence is improperly collected, the police's investigative methods are suspect, and their forensic technology is near non-existent.
Detective Seo Tae-yoon is sent from Seoul to assist them; their methods clash and he is unable to convince them they are dealing with a serial killer until his predictions of another murder come true. He realizes that the killer waits until a rainy night, and only kills women wearing red. A female police officer realizes that a local radio station is always requested to play a particular song during the nights the murders are committed.
As a few of my readers know, I am an Ex-Military Police and I have always enjoyed police dramas. As I was watching this film, I kept seeing all of the errors that the police made in this film.
Sad to say but,Korea has a statue of limitations on murder, what that means is that after 15 years of the murder being committed, you can not be charged with the crime, due to the time limit being over. With this film and Voice of A Murderer, both films deal with real world murders committed in South Korea and sad to sat neither one has been solved and the time period is over.
What you see in this film is that the unknown murderer is way smarter than the police are and you really are shown that fact at the very end of this film. I thought that it was a perfect ending to a great film.
34.Love Actually (UK)
Love Actually is a 2003 British romantic comedy film. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress. The ensemble cast is composed predominantly of British actors.
The film begins with a voice over from David (Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy with the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airport, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David's voice over also relates that all the known messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate. The film then tells the 'love stories' of many people:
The film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a week by week countdown until the holiday with an epilogue that takes place one month later.
Each story is linked in some way except for Billy Mack and his manager, who are not friends with any of the characters; however, he appears frequently on characters' radios and TVs; his music video provides an important plot device for Sam's pursuit of Joanna. John and Judy work for Tony who is best friends with Colin who works for a catering company that works at the office where Sarah, Karl, Mia, and Harry work and also catered Peter and Juliet's wedding. Mia is friends with Mark who runs the art gallery where the Christmas office party takes place. Mia also lives next door to Natalie. Mark is in love with Juliet and friends with Peter. The couple are friends with Jamie and Sarah. Harry is married to Karen who is friends with Daniel, and Karen's brother is David who works with Natalie.
Now, this could be a lot to try and keep up with in one movie, but, to me its now a modern Christmas film, that tries to tell us what love can actually make us do.
33. Rocky Balboa
For those who have seen the previous films, this follows 15 years after part 5. What we are shown is a Rocky, who has lost the one love of his life, Adrian. You see him as an ex-champion who has his own little dinner and loves to tell stories of his past bouts. You see how much he really misses her and how empty he feels without her. You are also shown that his son and he are slowly growing apart and that its hurting him also. You are also introduced to Mason Dixon, the current heavyweight champion, and you see that the fans hate him.
The films story starts with a computer scenario between Rocky and Mason in which Rocky wins and then he gets to hear all of the negative press on him on ESPN and other media outlets. After watching this, Rocky decides that he want to try and to get back into the ring for some small local fights. Masons people hear of this and arrange for an exhibition between him and Rocky to be carried on HBO PPV.
What I liked about this was that the next scene, Where his son is asking him to stop this because it's really hurting him and that he cannot compare to his father. Rocky then gives the speech of the film and tells his son, to be your own man and don't worry what others say. It works and then you see him join his father for the training.
Tony then tells Rocky how he can beat Mason and it was just funny how he said it. Then its fight night. Stallone gives you his all and you will believe it. It was great to see him actually carry a film and be very happy with the results. His son is played by Milo Ventimiglia, and you believe that he is sick of always being compared to his father. Once again Burt Young shows why he is a great actor with his dead on role as Paulie (Rocky's brother-in-law)
This film is best seen with a huge audience that loves boxing, it has been reported that entire theaters have shaken because people are clapping and cheering, as this is a real fight.
32. Curse of the Golden Flower (China)
The Chinese title of the movie is taken from the last line of a Tang dynasty poem attributed to the rebel leader Huang Chao, "On the Chrysanthemum, after failing the Imperial Examination" (不第後賦菊/不第后赋菊) or simply "Chrysanthemum":
“When autumn comes on Double Ninth Festival, / my flower [the chrysanthemum] will bloom and all others perish. / When the sky-reaching fragrance [of the chrysanthemum] permeates Chang'an, / the whole city will be clothed in golden armor.
As I stated earlier in this review, When you really start to watch films from a foreign county, you start to have favorite stars and directors from each country. As for Hong Kong, my favorite actor is Chow Yun-Fat also, if he is in the film, then I will watch the film.
On the eve of the Chong Yang Festival, golden chrysanthemum flowers fill the Imperial Palace. The Emperor (Chow Yun Fat) returns from his various military campaigns with his second son and general, Prince Jai (Jay Chou). It is hinted in their brief but intense sparring session, that Jai has grown resentful towards his father and his controlling ways. However the Emperor is not afraid to warn the Prince of his past mistakes and that he shouldn't take anything of the Emperor's that isn't given to him. The Emperor's pretext is to celebrate the holiday with his family, but given the chilled relations between the Emperor and the ailing Empress (Gong Li), this seems disingenuous.
For many years, the Empress and Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye), her stepson, have had an illicit liaison. Feeling trapped, Prince Wan dreams of escaping the palace with his secret lover Jiang Chan (Li Man), the Imperial Doctor's daughter. Meanwhile, Prince Jai, the faithful son, grows curious and then worried over the Empress's health and her abnormal obsession with golden chrysanthemums. Wan agrees but the younger son, Yu seems oblivious to the matter and doesn't question it further.
This is the opening of this film. It is a very slow pace and you just have the feeling that when all hell will beak loose, it will end very bad for the heroes and anti-heroes in this film. By the end of the film, hell has now visited China and it has decided to stay a while longer.
31. The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen) (Germany)
It is a 2006 German drama film, that involves the monitoring of the cultural scene of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police. This film also won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film had earlier won seven Deutscher Filmpreis awards – including best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor, and best supporting actor – after having set a new record with 11 nominations.
Like I stated earlier, I do like Police dramas and this one was a great one. The slow thought provoking work that the police officer took to try and capture his prey. What he soon realizes is that he is now being played also and then the real film begins.
The film has a very interesting ending that leaves you very happy that you went and spent time with this film.
30. Reign Over Me
What do you do when every day reminds you of what you have lost and you do not know where to go? Reign Over Me is about two old friends who fell out of touch and are re-united in post-9/11 New York City.
You have the main idea of this film and it will not be an easy film to watch. The film deals with an aftermath of the American 9-11 attacks and its loss on this one man Charlie Fineman. Throughout the film, you see a man who, once had it all, and in a moment of hatred, lost it all. You are watching him try and deal with it by not dealing with it.
Please notice how the music is used and how the Mel Brooks film festival is shown. Please listen to Charlie's, part when he does remember his family, this becomes the money shot for this film.
29. Sin City
Plot Outline: Sin City is a violent city where the police department is as corrupt as the streets are deadly. In this movie, we follow three stories, the central of which is Marv, a tough-as-nails and nearly impossible to kill street fighter who goes on a rampage of vengeance when a beautiful woman, Goldie (King), he sleeps with for only one night is killed while lying in bed with him. Walk down the right back alley in Sin City and you can find anything.
Certain films need to be seen on the big screen so that you can really see what a film has to offer and this one did not disappoint. With Mickey Rourke's showing of what Marv could do when he goes to war. With Bruce Willis acting as a man who needs to save one more soul from hell and with Clive Owen showing us as, Dwight, that a man can find true love once again.
Please watch the Directors cut of this movie, it adds about 15 minutes and fills in a few blanks from the film.Also, if you ever get the chance, the Blu-ray version of this film, rocks.
28. The Queen (UK)
The main plot focuses on the differing views in how to deal with the death of Diana. The Royal Family, while on their summer residence at Balmoral Castle, sees her death as a private affair, not to be treated as an official Royal death, in contrast with newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair and Diana's ex-husband Prince Charles, who attempt to reflect the public wish for an official expression of grief. Matters are further complicated by the media, royal protocol regarding Diana's official status, and wider issues about republicanism. The views of Diana's sons throughout the film are only portrayed through other characters.
Helen Mirren won 29 major awards for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II.
To be honest I never was a huge fan of the late Princess Diana. So when she died in 1997, the world reaction caught me by surprise. What this film is about is the week after the Princess death and to her funeral on the next Saturday and how the Queen and Tony Blair reacted to the public outcry of grief for “The People's Princess.”
What this film asks is when a very privately public person can morn?
The film gives the real impression that the Queen and the Princess, grew to dislike each other. You also see the Queen being very protective of her 2 grandsons by removing radios, TVs and newspapers so not to upset them. The film does not pull any punches and casts the royals in a not so good light but it does show them trying to understand their country’s grief over Diana.
27. City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) (Brazil)
The film is a 2002 Brazilian crime drama film , released in its home country in 2002 and worldwide in 2003. It was adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Cidade de Deus, between the end of the '60s and the beginning of the '80s, with the closure of the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li'l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is "Fight and you'll never survive..... Run and you'll never escape."
Well once again an independent film and once again, the preview at the Angelika, clinched it for me to go see it. Before I went to see the film, I had heard that nit was going to be a very different film. After I saw the film, I knew that they were right. This film isn't for everyone and should only be seen by those who love violence in their movies. It is a hard brutal film about gang war and it pulled no punches.
26. The Twilight Samurai Tasogare Seibei (たそがれ清兵衛?, literally "Twilight Seibei") (Japan)
is a 2002 Japanese film directed by Yoji Yamada. Set in mid-19th century Japan, a few years before the Meiji Restoration, it follows the life of Seibei Iguchi (Hiroyuki Sanada), a low-ranking samurai employed as a bureaucrat. Poor, but not destitute, he still manages to lead a content and happy life with his daughters and senile mother. Sadly, through an unfortunate turn of events, the turbulent times conspire against him.
The film is different from many other samurai-themed films in that it concentrates on showing the main character's everyday struggles, instead of focusing on action-oriented battles.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards, The Twilight Samurai also won an unprecedented 12 Japanese Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay back in 2003.
If you are a fan of the TV Show, "Lost" then the star of The Twilight Samurai Hiroyuki Sanada, will be appearing in the 6th and final season of the popular American TV series “Lost.” He will play “Dogen,” an important character that holds the key to the story of the final season, producers said, adding that the part has been especially written for Sanada.
If you are a fan of the Samurai film genre, then please watch this one and completely ignore The Last Samurai.
25. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (simplified Chinese: 卧虎藏龙; traditional Chinese: 臥虎藏龍; pinyin: Wòhǔ Cánglóng) (Taiwan)
The film was directed by Ang Lee and featured an international cast of ethnic Chinese actors, including Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Chang Chen. The movie was based on the fourth novel in a pentalogy, known in China as the Crane-Iron Pentalogy, by wuxia novelist Wang Dulu.
This is the one film on this list that I really hated the first time I saw it. Looking back, I really am not sure why, but as for now; I love the fact that the film starts you on a journey and by the end of it, the journey is over and the dream is gone. The unspoken love stories that are shown in this film is what makes it into a great one.
24. The Watchmen
Have you ever seen a film and afterwords, you have no real idea how to explain it to any of your friends? This was my problem with the film after the first showing. I was not a “fanboy” of this series, so I couldn’t openly praise it for being the first true adaption nor could I condemn it for not being like the comic book, since I had not read the book.
The film is basically a murder mystery set under an alternative 1985 reality in which the USA and the USSR are a few steps away from unleashing World War 3.
The film opens with the murder of one of the Watchmen, Edward Blake / The Comedian and you are left to wonder why this happened. The film then really takes off with the introduction of Walter Kovacs / Rorschach . He is also a Watchmen, but unlike the others in this group, Rorschach has continued his one-man battle against crime long after superheroes have become both detested and illegal. Rorschach's actions and writings display a belief in a moral absolutism and objectivism, where good and evil are clearly defined and evil must be violently punished. He has alienated himself from the rest of society to achieve these aims.
Two things that I really liked about this film was the music and how it was used exactly for the scene. I was laughing when certain songs were being played because of their subtle use in the film and after the film was over, I told the people who saw the film with me, why I was laughing at the music. Another thing I liked about the film was the partnership of Nite Owl II and Rorschach. I saw in the film that they had been partners and I soon realized that the film had captured it quite well and made the film more believable for me. The film was made for me during the scene where Rorschach describes the moment when he stopped being “Kovacs pretending to be Rorschach”, and fully became Rorschach. To me, this was the scene that made a good film into a great one.
23. Waltz with Bashir (Hebrew: ואלס עם באשיר - Vals Im Bashir)(Israel)
This film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. This film reminded me a lot of “Persepolis” but instead of it being told though a woman, this film is told by an Israeli Army veteran who can not remember anything about his time during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
The film shows briefly the aftermath of Sabra and Shatila, and how it haunted the narrator of the film. The military veteran will catch a lot of the little jokes that were shown thought this film. The use of 80’s music through the inanity of the war is what a few people have stated that turned this small film into a great one. The film is in Hebrew so please try and find English Subtitles for it, if you decide to watch this film.
22. Star Trek (2009)
I really went into this film, absolutely, wanting to destroy this film piece by piece. I could not believe that they were going to relaunch one of my all time favorite TV shows and they were not going to include William Shatner (the original James T Kirk) in this new film. I even listed this film as one of my 10 summers, “Do Not See” List. After the film was over, I was so glad that I was wrong about this choice.
Now you must remember one thing, the time line was altered by the Narada. So what we think was Star trek is now another reality of it. Once i saw that I realized that, I was going on one heck of a trip.
I must also now agree that having a prime James Kirk, would have destroyed this film. Please watch the scene where Prime Spock, talks to the younger Kirk, you can see the pain in his eyes knowing that he has seen his old friend die and now he can help the younger one live. Also, the next scene where, we are introduced to Scotty, was a classic with Prime Spock telling Scotty the formula that, Scotty, would later invent.
What was also different was the unwritten love between Uhura and Spock. You could definitively see what Spock’s mother, had been trying to teach him about love.
Leonard Nimoy stated that he actually cried when he saw the scene of Kirk meeting Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. He remembered his old friend, the original McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Nimoy tells America’s TV Guide magazine, “I started crying – and it (scene) still moves me now. I loved D-Kelley, salt of the earth.
I could break down this film piece by piece but, only you, the reader, can decide, if this film is worth your time and money. on Blu-Ray, its great.
I knew that this could be a good film, I had no idea that it would be a great one that I would want to get on Blu-Ray as soon as possible.
Invictus is a 2009 biographical drama film based on Nelson Mandela’s life during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Morgan Freeman as South African President Mandela, and Matt Damon as François Pienaar, the South African Rugby team captain.
My favorite part of the film was the opening when Mandela attempts to tackle the country’s largest problems—including crime and unemployment—he attends a game of the Springboks, the country’s rugby union team. Blacks in the stadium cheer against their home squad, as the Springboks (their history, players and even their colors) represent prejudice and apartheid in their mind. Knowing that South Africa is set to host the 1995 Rugby World Cup in one year’s time, Mandela convinces the South African rugby board to keep the Springbok team, name and colors the same.
He then meets with Springboks captain François Pienaar. Though Mandela never verbalizes his true meaning during their meeting, Pienaar understands the message below the surface: if the Springboks can gain the support of black South Africans and succeed in the upcoming World Cup, the country will be unified and inspired. Mandela also shares with Pienaar that a poem, Invictus, had been inspiring to him during his time in prison, helping him to “stand when all he wanted to do was lie down”.
In my live I have seen nations unify over sports, I saw the USA cheer an Ice Hockey team to a gold Medal in 1980. I have seen a divided Germany win the Football World Cup back in 1974, and people wishing that their country could be unified. I saw that same spirit in this film. Sports can not solve all of one countries problems but it can unify them, if only for a brief moment. Please see this film when it arrives in Korea in March, 2010.
Of all of the missed nominations, I could not believe that this film was not selected Best Foreign Language Film. I must give props to Harry (Ain't it Cool) for turning me on to this film. I was able to watch it in the original French with English subtitles.
The unusually drawn animation tells us about a poignant coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution and ends with her leaving Iran forever. This is a great story and I think that all young ladies need to read her book and to watch her movie and see how one little girl became a woman.
19.Walk The Line
Johnny chose Joaquin Phoenix to play him in the film. June Carter Cash reportedly chose Reese Witherspoon for her role in the film. also. This should any debate why these 2 were chosen for the roles.
The film covers his childhood to 1968, when he wed June Carter.
I had no idea what to expect from this film and I already knew the story. Being raised in Texas, I was introduced to Cash’s music at an early age and I am still a huge fan of “The Man In Black”
The film starts of with Cash talking to his older brother and in the next scene you see him talking to his same brother as he is dying from an accident. (Joaquin lost his older brother River, when he was young also. Later in the film Cash talks about his brother dying and you can see the real pain in his eyes as he is acting)
The film is basically a love story between Johnny Cash and June Carter. You see how these two, who should have never been together, fall in love and see how June handles Johnny’s huge drug problem. The scene of him singing for the prisoners was awesome and was recorded into one of the finest live albums ever produced. “Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison”
The only complaint that I have is that the film is not long enough. It ends in 1968 and their is so much more to tell of this man. I want another walk the line made.
18. Brotherhood of the Wolf (France)
The film is loosely based on a real-life series of killings that took place in France in the 18th century and on the famous legend around the Beast of Gévaudan.
When I fist saw the preview of this film back in late 2001, I thought that this film was different. It looked very cool and it sure did not look like any French film that I had seen in recent memory. Click here for the plot.
After I watched the film I was not sure what I had just seen. I went and saw it again a few days late and then I realized that if this was the future of French films, that I wanted to see more of them.
17. There Will Be Blood
Have you ever just wanted to ask the Academy Awards, “What in the hell were you thinking”?
A few years ago when, “No Country for Old Men” won the award for Best Picture, I flat out could not believe it. I screamed at my TV in Auckland, NZ, and asked “WTF? Did anyone there see the film that I saw?”
In my Top 25 films of 2007, I had this film at #2. After seeing it on the big screen, I kept wondering, ‘When can I get this film on Blu-Ray?” The film is not a good one, its a great one. Daniel Day-Lewis won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his role as Daniel Plainview.
The film tells of a time during the early days of the oil boom in the USA. The audience is introduced to Daniel Plainview, as a man who is trying to get his little piece in the world. We then see him make his start in the oil business.
What the films shows us is, a man who will do anything to get it all and when he does; We are shown its true cost, to the ones who love him. And yes, Daniel Plainview's memorable quote "I drink your milkshake" so worked for me in this film.
16. Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in) (Sweeden)
I had not heard of this film until “Harry” from “aintitcool.com” named this film as his #1 film of the year from 2008. I read his logic behind his selection and I knew that i had to go and find me a copy of this film so I could make my own judgment about it. I could not believe that this film got so little publicity and the teen love vampire flick “Twilight” was given all of the praise. This film is what “Twilight” should have been.
This film is in Swedish so please be sure to find English subtitles for it.
The film is about a 13 year old girl who moves into a 1980’s apartment in Sweden and she befriends a boy who is bullied at school. The secret is that the 13 year old girl is a vampire and that a few people have mysteriously disappeared in the area. You start to see the boy fall in love with this girl and when he finally figures it out. It is what made this small film into a great one.
15. Gran Torino
If this is the masters' coda, then he went out with a classic with Grand Torino.
For the last few years, I have really enjoyed Clint Eastwood's films. His style lately has reminded me of my favorite Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa. The hidden secrets, the pain of sin that he can not forgive himself for and the struggle for life and death are features in both of their films and are the main points for Eastwood's new film "Grand Torino"
When the film opens, we are being show an man,disgruntled Korean War vet, Walt Kowalski. We are shown that his wife has died and that he can not deal with his family nor his grand-children. After the funeral, we are introduced to the other main character in this film, a young Hmong teenager, named Thao Vang Lor. What we see is a boy who is lost and is trying to figure out how to become a man.
Walt, for some unknown reason, takes a shine to this boy and tries to teach him how to become a man. I will leave this part of the film unspoiled, let me just say that this was some of the funniest parts of this film.
What I also liked about the film was the voice of reason, Walt's Preacher, Father Janovich. Walt's calls him a "27 year old virgin, who think that seminary school has taught him about life and death." When you see him also start to learn from Walt, it's another small piece of a film that takes it from a good film and turns it into a great one.
But with every hero we are also introduced to a villain. His cousin, Who as part of Thao's initiation into his gang makes Thao steal Walt's prize possession, a 1972 Gran Torino. When the attempt fails Thao, has to work for Walt for a few days and you can slowly see Thao start to respond to "tough love" that all master deal out to their students. What I liked here was that the master did not want to be one and the student had no clue that he was even a student. It should not have worked but, By the grace of Eastwoods' directing and acting, its well shown and very believable.
The above might be a problem for some of today's modern audience. They have grown accustomed to a much faster pace of film, a higher body count and people who call themselves actors, who truly are not. If they are looking for this in this film, then they will walk away very upset and then they will have failed to truly see this film.
The films ending was quite a surprise that I will not spoil for you. i was thinking one thing and then he goes and does something that I could not believe that he did it and that he pulled it off on the screen. When the films final credit were rolling, I was sad. I was thinking, "If this is Clint Eastwood's coda, then we have been taken on a pleasant journey in this film.
14. V For Vendetta
I knew that this film might be hard fro me to review, The majority of reviews out now have claimed that Conservatives (Me) would hate this film for whatever reason.
Well as usual, they are wrong. Not only did I like it, I loved it!
The Rhyme that is said with Fawkes and V goes like this¦ “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, ’twas his intent to blow up the King and the Parliament. Three score barrels of powder below, Poor old England to overthrow: By God’s providence he was catch’d With a dark lantern and burning match. Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring. Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King! Hip hip hoorah! A penny loaf to feed the Pope. A farthing o’ cheese to choke him. A pint of beer to rinse it down. A faggot of sticks to burn him. Burn him in a tub of tar. Burn him like a blazing star. Burn his body from his head. Then we’ll say ol’ Pope is dead. Hip hip hoorah! Hip hip hoorah!”
What really helped this film was the police inspector Finch, who soon becomes the Jimmy Cricket to his government. His belief that Evey, V, The detention camps, the murders of Party leaders is all connected and when the truth hits him he makes this comment."If our own government was responsible for the deaths of a hundred thousand people… would you really want to know?" When he realizes the truth, the shot helps turn the film into a great one.
For humor, please watch the shot with Deitrich when he interviews the fake Sutler. The comedy sketch was in the taste of "Benny Hill" and I was laughing all the way through it. I also liked the little wink to "Oldboy" You will see it when Evey states that, God is in the rain drops and because she feels the rain, she is alive. Not a live octopus but the message was the same. Near the end when he ask Evey to dance he states, "A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having”
The film shows 3 murders that V commits while waiting for the 5th of November. You see that all 3 of these people helped to create V. A rich man who owned the drug company that stopped the plague, a corrupt priest, when these 2 were killed the viewers felt well. It was that last one of the 3 that will get to you.
She was a doctor that had an idea, what if we could create something that would destroy our foes and save England. She uses the undesirables, as test subjects. The whole thing seems a failure but one test subject, located in room V, can no longer remember who he was or where he grew up, the results are all up to him.
On November 5th, a fire happens at this place and she sees the man from room #V, she realizes what she has done. We know this from her diary. At the end of her life she ask V for forgiveness and then she dies due to the poison that V had given her 10 minutes earlier. At the end she realized that it was wrong.
The final part of the film that will hook you is when Finch goes to the former camp and sees the results and then has a vision, a hunch, as he called it. He sees the past and the future and he sees that it is all connected. Evey's family and brother that were killed by the government's vendetta. The knowledge that his party killed over 100,000 of its own citizens. He see it all and when he tells what will happen near the 5th of November and it happens step by step, It will pull you into the movie. Please see the film and you might find out that you all will like it but for totally different reasons.
People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.
Plot. In 480 BC, the Persian king Xerxes sends his massive army to conquer Greece. The Greek city of Sparta houses its finest warriors, and 300 of these soldiers are chosen to meet the Persians at Thermopylae, engaging the soldiers in a narrow canyon where they cannot take full advantage of their numbers. The battle is a suicide mission, meant to buy time for the rest of the Greek forces to prepare for the invasion.
However, that doesn’t stop the Spartans from throwing their hearts into the fray, determined to take as many Persians as possible with them.
TONIGHT WE DINE IN HELL!
There really is no way to do this review without any spoilers. If
you want to see the film, then stop here on this review now an read it
after you have seen the film.
Being a history major, I have studied this battle and had always been impressed with the Spartan tactics that were used during this battle. In my humble opinion, the film does justice to the 300 Spartans.
I went and saw the film, for the very first time, at the Yongsan CGV IMAX, with 2 of my friends, who had never seen an IMAX film before. It was hard, while going to the Yongsan Electronic market and having not to watch any shots from 300. The film was playing at most of the pirate DVD sellers in the market. I am happy to say that both of my friends now understand why I love seeing films in IMAX.
The film opens up with a Spartan narrator of the childhood story of Leonidas I, King of Sparta..480 B.C. You are shown how he became King and how this battle was started.
What kept me surprised was all of the visual effects that were in this film and with the films budget being at 60 Million.
One of the scenes from the film that the audience enjoyed was on the first day of the siege Xerxes demanded the Greeks surrender their arms. Leonidas replied (“Come and get them”). The crowd went wild after that quote. What I liked was how they showed the traitor, Ephialtes. They took their time and showed why he felt was right for his reasons for treason.
Another thing that I liked about the film was the way that they showed Xerxes. They told that he believed that he was a God and acted like that in the film. Watch for the scene, near the end of the film, where the God myth is destroyed.
The last thing that I really lied about the film was the narrator,Dilios. His story was changed for this film and I thought that it helped the film, especially at the end of this film.
12.Up (my #1 film from 2009)
To be honest, I really was not expecting much from this film. I knew that it was a Pixar film and that I had liked the small preview of it that I'd seen online. I was thinking that this will be a cute kid’s film that I will never want to see again about a boy an older man and a dog exploring South America. The previews tell you that this will be a light film, when I actually saw it I could not believe the quiet dept that make this small film into an instant classic.
Like I had stated earlier, I really had no hopes for this film. It was going to be a small, light, kids film, that I might like. The film opened up exactly like I thought it would with a goofy boy, wearing explorers goggles, watching his hero on the movie screen and seeing his hero fall from grace and maybe his hero redemption. I kept thinking OK, “So why is this a good film?”
The answer is because what happens next in the movie.
The goody boy meets a crazy girl and they find in each other that they want to both be explorers and that she has already made an adventure book. She has a few pages filled up and she tells him that she will keep the rest of the pages blank until she can go to South America and see a huge waterfall and fill it with stories from her life there. You are also shown that she gives him a grape soda badge and they are both now part of the same club. Then the film takes the step from good film into a great film and what was so awesome, there were no words used so this part will easy play in foreign theaters.
What you are shown for the next 4.5 minutes is that goofy boy, Carl Fredricksen being married to that explorer girl, Ellie. You are silently shown their entire life together and how they both loved each other. You are shown some good times and the bad times, but you are shown one thing, and that is the love that these two people had for each other. Richard Corliss of Time called it "the sweetest, saddest 4½ minutes you'll ever see on film."
Director Pete Docter intended for audiences to take a specific point from the film, saying:
"Basically, the message of the film is that the real adventure of life is the relationship we have with other people, and it's so easy to lose sight of the things we have and the people that are around us until they're gone. More often than not I don't really realize how lucky I was to have known someone until they're either moved or passed away. So if you can kind of wake up a little bit and go, "Wow, I've got some really cool stuff around me every day", then that's what the movie's about."
It was like they made a 3-5 minute version of "The Notebook" and they tell the story without any words, just with love and life that anyone in the audience will be able to follow. When you see that Ellie had died and the love is gone from his eyes, I was realizing that I might be seeing a way better film; than I thought that I was going to see.
Due to those two not being to have any children and that fact that the court has declared him a public disturber and that he must now live in a retirement home. Carl looks at the photo of Ellie and decides to do one last adventure, he makes a big balloon out of thousands of small ones and he takes his house up and with him and they are both going to South America.
Now this part of the film will leave a lot to the imagination of the audience and it will, at times be a stretch to believe but, for whatever reason, this part of the film works as we see Carl go on his adventure and now he has a sidekick a boy by the name of Russell, a Wilderness Explorer stowaway on Carl's flying house. This part of the film I will leave unspoiled because you will have to see it to believe it.
What I thought was a great idea near the end of the film is when Carl finally finds Ellie old Scrapbook and he looks at it and then he discovers that she added a lot of new pages to it and finds her mementos of her life with Carl after they were married, and a final note from her thanking Carl for her adventure and an encouragement for him to go on an adventure of his own. Invigorated by Ellie's last wish, the man goes into "HERO" mode to save the day.
I must say that I loved how the film ended and the extra pictures throughout the credits. When you decide to see this film, please get their early and do not leave your seat because if you do, you will miss something. This film is definitely a Blu-Ray ownership.
11. Ratatouille (My #1 film from 2007)
Brad Bird has done it again. As in his previous films The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, this one is a sure sign of a good director becoming a great one before our very eyes.
To be honest, when I first saw the trailer for this film, I did not think too much of it; A rat who likes good food. Ok, a bad take off of “Mickey Mouse”. Then I was able to see a 9 minute preview of this film and I kept thinking, “Pixar, might have something here”. After seeing the film, I know they have something here!
I am not a huge fan of the comedy of Patton Oswalt, but in this role, He pulls it off very nicely and This was the first role of Janeane Garofalo that I have liked her in since CopLand
One of the roles I really enjoyed was the role of the Food Critic, Anton Ego, the role was voiced by Peter O’Toole. Each time that Anton was in the film, it was a legend taking over and I actually believed that he was a food critic, who, could destroy you with one bad review. His review at the end of the film is why very few actors could have played in this role.
The film is simple enough, its about a young man and his rat. You have seen the story before as in Ben or Willard but this one is different. The rat wants to help humans, by being a great cook.
What I really like was the actual story itself. The film was not too long nor was it too short. It had a great flow and a great pace. It was very easy to believe that you are in Paris and that you are just along for the ride. This film is also worthy of a Blu-Ray ownership.
10. Letters From Iwo Jima (My #1 film from 2006)
Letters from Iwo Jima (硫黄島からの手紙, Iō Jima Kara no Tegami?) is a 2006 war film, directed and co-produced by Clint Eastwood, and starring Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya. The film portrays the Battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the Japanese soldiers and is a companion piece to Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers, which depicts the same battle from the American viewpoint.The films spoken language is almost entirely in Japanese.
The island of Iwo Jima stands between the American military force and the home islands of Japan. Therefore the Imperial Japanese Army is desperate to prevent it from falling into American hands and providing a launching point for an invasion of Japan. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. General Kuribayashi, however, does not favor the rigid traditional approach recommended by his subordinates, and resentment and resistance fester among his staff. In the lower echelons, a young soldier, Saigo, a poor baker in civilian life, strives with his friends to survive the harsh regime of the Japanese army itself, all the while knowing that a fierce battle looms. When the American invasion begins, both Kuribayashi and Saigo find strength, honor, courage, and horrors beyond imagination. ~ IMDB
The film is based on the non-fiction books "Gyokusai sōshikikan" no etegami ("Picture letters from the Commander in Chief")by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (portrayed on screen by Ken Watanabe) and So Sad To Fall In Battle: An Account of War by Kumiko Kakehashi about the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Clint has a simple idea while he was filming "Flags of our Fathers", What if he made a film about the Battle of Iwo Jima from the viewpoint of the Japanese? He assembled a Japanese cast and shot the film in a few months. CNN's Tom Charity in his review described Letters from Iwo Jima as "the only American movie of the year I won't hesitate to call a masterpiece."
The film basically tells the story of doomed soldiers that have to try and stop the US Military invasion of Iwo Jima.
9. Gladiator (2000)
When I saw the first preview of this film it was to "Kid Rock - Bawitdaba". I had no idea what I was going to watch but I knew that it looked interesting. This was also the film that introduced me to Russell Crowe. The film starts out with a quote to, "Unleash Hell". I remember thinking that I was going to see a very interesting film and 10 years later, I still love watching this film about revenge.
8. Battle Royale (Japan)
I had first heard of this film from the http://www.aintitcool.com/ website and I knew that if I could ever get the film on DVD that I would have to watch it. The only problem was that I was living in the USA at the time and nobody was releasing the film on DVD in the USA. So I had to try and order a DVD from Asia.
When “Battle Royale” arrived, I watched it a lot for the next few days. I had never seen anything quite like it. I could not believe that someone had the reason, to make a film like this. At the time of the viewing, the urban legend was, that this film was banned in the USA and would never get a release date in American theaters. (This has since been disproved, because the Japanese right holders want the film to have a wide release in the USA and no film company has stepped forward with that request.) So when I showed my college friends this film, I sold it to them as being a banned in the USA film that you just had to see.
The vast majority of my friends really did not get this film when I show it to them. they could not believe the violence, the insanity, nor the illogical idea of the film. They told me that the wanted a wild film and after they saw “BR” they wanted nothing more to ever do with a wild film ever again.
The prologue title card reads:
"At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence, and fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act—AKA: The BR Act..."
The idea is very simple, The students are informed that they have been selected as participants in Battle Royale, a game created by the Millennial Educational Reform Act (better known as the Battle Royale Act) where the students must kill each other until only one is left. One class from the country per year is selected to participate in the program. If after three days a winner is not declared, the explosive collars attached to each student's neck will be detonated and they will die.
Then the film really begins. I have to say that if you have not seen this film and violent films upset you, then please pass on this film.
7. Million Dollar Baby
This is the story of a boxing trainer, his elusive past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur female boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
I went into this film thinking that it was going to be a female "Rocky" and for the first 2/3's of the film that is exactly what it was. The the film takes you on a very sharp detour and by the end of the film, I wasn't exactly sure what I had just seen but I knew that it was a great film. I took me another viewing before I caught all of the information that this film was trying to express.
I love the directing of Clint Eastwood in this film. He tell you a film about hope and joy and then ends it with one mans path to his private hell. it should not have worked, but it did.
6. The Vengeance Trilogy (South Korea)
My earlier review of the trilogy
The Vengeance Trilogy (Korean: 복수 삼부작) are three films, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003), Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005), directed by South Korean film director Park Chan-wook, which dealt with the themes of "revenge, violence and salvation". Originally these three films weren't the official series, but as spiritual successors, two films (Oldboy & Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) followed the film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.
this link is where the Story of the Trilogy started for me.
When I first started college at the University of North Texas in fall 2000, I was introduced to this site. (A'int it Cool) they started to recommend some really small films over the years that I managed to track down. (Twilight Samurai, Battle Royale , The Brotherhood of the Wolves, Ken Park and Tae-Guk-Gi) were all movies that I have watched and now own on DVD because Harry from "Aint it cool.com" told me about them.
So imagine my surprise in early 2003 when I see this review having a Korean film at the top film of the year. I read the review and I decided that I need to get a copy of this film. Then later that year, Oldboy's review comes out.
I recalled that it was a Japanese Cartoon but I also discovered that, the movie was only very loosely based on the Japanese manga of the same title. Most of the film is original story written by Chan-wook Park, the director. Now, OldBoy was #2 on Harry's end of year list. I told myself that when I took the job in Korea that I would find these 2 on DVD and see if all of the hype was true or not.
Well fate stepped in; I was able to find OldBoy on VCD, with English Subtitles, fast. Then I waited for a weekend at CGV, when they played Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance back to back. I then bought Mr. Vengeance on DVD and waited until Lady Vengeance arrived on DVD.
All 3 films have one huge common factor, Revenge. All 3 have revenge for a daughter that was taken away. All 3 could be considered a huge chess game with all of the pawns in play and when they are all unleashed the results have been death. All 3 leave you with the fact that after the revenge is complete, what was actually achieved? In all 3 you are left to feel that they will never recover from their acts of vengeance.
Please see all 3 films back to back and after the 6+ hours is over, you will have a good look at Korean films and what their real potential can be.
5. Joyeux Noel France (My #1 film of the year for 2005)
A few years ago, I wrote one of my longest movie reviews for an anti-war film from France called “Joyeux Noel.” The majority of this film takes place between December 24-26 in 1914, during World War I. I thought so much of this film that I named it my #1 best film back in 2005.
I was trying to find a film for Christmas that was different. We have all heard the stories about the child who was born on this day and how he would be the savior of the world. I them remembered this film and how men from both sides of this war remembered him and honored him by instead of killing their fellow man, they tried peace on earth and goodwill towards mankind.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
These same words would have worked in 1914 France; it was on the front lines of World War I.
The film is in German, French, Latin and English.
Wow! Is the first word that comes to mind after watching this movie.
If you a military man then this film will hit home early and often. If not a lot of this film will not make sense. Let me try and explain this film to you.
The plot is really simple, it is December 1914 and Scottish, French and German units are stuck in trench warfare. It it becoming closer to Christmas and the men decide instead of war that a truce is declared.
The film was so believable even from the beginning where there are three children talking about how the enemy must be destroyed and killed in 3 different languages (English, French, German). to the end where you see the aftermath of peace, when the world wants war.
The film opens with the children and then 3 different shots of Scotland (where a boy rings the church bells and is happy that war is declared) France, (Where a Senior Officer tells his son, a Junior officer, that the big war that France has wanted with Germany is at hand) and Germany (where an Opera singer is drafted into the German Army).
What I really liked about this film was that It shows all 3 sides and shows their fears and doubts of the war. In the next shot you see a brother have to leave his brother in No Man’s Land ( In WW1 and other later wars which involved trench warfare, the term no man’s land indicated the land between the trenches of the opposing foes. This land belonged to neither side; it was a neutral place on the battlefield.)
The brother feels guilty that he has abandoned his brother to die alone. You then see a Danish female who has figured out how to work the system and get to see her lover, who is stationed on the German front lines, at an Officer party where they are to be the guest singers. He feels guilty that he is safe and that his friends are not. He goes back to the front with his girlfriend in tow. The film makes fun of the officers, please see the Scottish and German jabs at their Top officers.
It all starts simple enough, the Scottish soldiers are celebrating Christmas and they decide to play their bagpipes. The French and German soldiers are stunned but they listen. Then the German soldier who can sing gets up and sings a German Christmas song, while he is singing the Scott’s join in with their bagpipes and help him out. After the song is done, the singer listens to the pipes play Oh Christmas tree. The German then did something that will stop the audiences, he get up and picks up a small Christmas tree while singing carries the tree into the middle of no man’s land. After he is finished the Scottish soldiers erupt in huge clapping, the French soldiers are just stunned but they also show that they have liked it. The German and The Scottish officer then start to talk in broken English and soon the French officer then joins them, they agree to a truce for Christmas.
Then all 3 sides come out of their trenches and meet and talk, It soon becomes midnight and a stretcher bearer, who is also a priest back home, leads a Christmas mass in Latin with all 3 sides participating in the mass. That night it was peace on earth and goodwill towards men, for no one died their that night. The next day, the brother finds the body of his dead brother and is trying to bury it, another truce is declared so that all sides can bury their dead. The scene that got me the most is when the priest went to a German grave and gave it blessing in Latin.
The next day (Boxing Day for the Scots) was observed also, all of the soldiers went into the German trenched because the Germans were going to fire artillery at the Allied side. after the Germans has finished shooting, the Scottish Officer stated that he thought that the British would fire next, so everybody then goes to the Scottish side and waits until the Allied side has finished. On Boxing Day nobody died. Everybody states their goodbyes, the German officer tells the girl and her lover to surrender so that their voices can survive and that they will not be blamed for the truce.
When all 3 sides headquarters learn of the truce, by reading their soldiers mail, Hell in unleashed. The Scottish unit is disbanded and broken up. The Germans are arrested and redeployed by train. The French father yells at his son and calls him a fool who has thrown away a good career. What was the most damning was the Priest supervisors reaction. He tell him that he is being sent back to Scotland and that he has done wrong in God’s eyes. (You must remember one thing here all 3 sides were told by their men of faith that their side was right and that they are on Gods side) (This was used allot in the US Civil War by both sides and is used now in the war against terrorism)
His reply was so correct, I was talking to the masses that day and in his eyes they were all gods children. He was rebuked and as he listened to his supervisor tell the men that they must kill Germans and that they are evil etc etc. He removes his cross and walks away. The Bible teaches us to preach the word to all that will listen not just select people, all who came to listened that night received his holy words.
The film shows very well why all of the Headquarters were scarred of this truth, In war you must make the enemy sound so bad that when you kill him you will give no sadness nor guilt. Something went wrong, these men met and realized besides the language that their really was not much of a difference. They all had families, loved one and all wanted to be anywhere in the world except where they were, at war.
When I was in the US Army, I was taught that the USSR was the enemy and I taught others what the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) taught me at Munich, were the enemy and needed to be killed and to kill all of them. To this day I do not trust neither Russia or the PLO, to be honest I do not know if I ever will. I recall the sermons about God’s Army and how the Russians were killing Christians. Seeing this reminded me of those times.
The ordinary soldier will respect this film, the higher ranking officers will be very afraid of this film. Daniel Bruhl once again shows why he will be a leading actor for years to come. In this film he plays the German officer in charge and if you saw the movie, “Good Bye Lenin” He was the star of that classic also. Overall if you want a good story where insanity is the norm and men learn that truce has too high of a price, then please see this film when you can.
My special Christmas Eve review of this film.
4. The Dark Knight
Well, to be honest, I still am not sure if I have seen this film. As of the writing of this review, I have seen the film about 15 times now via cinema and blu-ray disc and I am still not sure I have seen all that the film has to offer.
When I was a child, I used to collect comic books and I always had one favorite hero, The Batman. I had no idea why I liked him. Maybe it was his dark outfit, maybe it was him trying to save Gotham City from the bad guys. I have no idea to this day why I selected him as my favorite. All of my other childhood friends were into Superman. I like him but to me he was just to good to be true. After awhile, I quit reading the books and moved onto baseball cards.
I forgot all about Batman until I heard about a story called The Dark Knight Returns and rediscovered Batman as a dark hero that the world deserved and have not left the Batman world since.
So who is the man that we call “Batman”? To me he is a Ronin because he has always blamed himself for his parents death as a child. In the new batman film, he looses another one close to him and it looks to make him more of a “Ronin.”
So with all of this in my mind, I went to see my childhood hero, “Batman’s” latest film, The Dark Knight . I had only one thought after I saw it at the IMAX, “My God, They have finally gotten my hero right.”
If you are going to show a hero, you must also show the villain. Batman’s main villain is The Joker and he is shown the way that the Joker was meant to be played by the late, Heath Ledger.
Alfred states the best description of “The Joker” and he makes this comment. “You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.” …….”Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Mr. Ledger’s acting makes you think that all he wants to do is to watch the world burn while he laughs at the result.
Near the end of the film “The Joker” makes A statement that shows that him and Batman are the same..
The Joker: You just couldn’t let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.
Batman: You’ll be in a padded cell forever.
The Joker: Maybe we can share one. They’ll be doubling up, the rate this city’s inhabitants are losing their minds.
This led to the first major question that I had about the next film. Do they recast the Joker or do they try and find another villain? The Joker was supposed to be in the third film and with the death of Mr. Ledger would you want to even try and make another one? How can you top this battle between good and evil between the Joker and Batman?
I have written words of praise for this film in order to try and convince you to see this film. I honesty do not if the words I have written have done this film any justice. All I can ask is that you take your time and please see this film. It is worth your time and your $.
If We are given a hero that we deserve, as a world. We are not given a hero that we need. I think this is why the film has done so well in the USA. He is what we need as a nation, a dark knight.
3. The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
I remember seeing on television many years ago that some company was going to make a movie about "The Lord of the Rings" series and I went ho-hum and moved on.
I remembered reading the 3 book when I was in High School back in the early 1980's and the book really did not impress me that mush. So when the first film opened up back in 2001, I did not see it until the 3rd week that it was out. All that I remembered that the books were boring and that if the film was like the book, I wanted no part of it.
After the first weekend, I started to hear many great reviews of the film from critics, whom opinions, that I trusted. I finally went to see the film 2 weeks later and I became a fan of this series. I remember I saw the first film back to back, just to make sure I really saw everything that the film had to offer. I remember waiting for and purchasing all 3 special editions of the films and now eagerly await all 3 to be released in the Blu-Ray format.
What I have found best about this series is to watch all 3 back to back, in their extended version and just to sit back and enjoy the road to becoming a hero.
2. The Notebook
I had seen the preview of this film back in 2004 and I thought that it would be a great date film, so I took this young lady to the movies with me and was hopping for a nice night out. When I heard this part in the beginning of the film, I knew that this was going to be a very different film.....
"I am no one special. Just a common man with common thoughts. I've led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but in one respect I've succeeded as gloriously as anyone who ever lived. I've loved another with all my heart and soul and for me that has always been enough."
I had once been married and maybe, one day, I will find love again. In this film, I heard the actor speak those simple world and I believed him. He knew love.
The film takes place in the present and back in the 1940 when we are shown a young couple by the name of Noah Calhoun and a 17-year-old heiress named Allie Hamilton. We are shown their summer love and then we are shown her forceful removal away from Noah and then we are shown Noah's good-bye words to her..
My Dearest Allie. I couldn't sleep last night because I know that it's over between us. I'm not bitter anymore, because I know that what we had was real. And if in some distant place in the future we see each other in our new lives, I'll smile at you with joy and remember how we spent the summer beneath the trees, learning from each other and growing in love. The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that's what you've given me. That's what I hope to give to you forever. I love you. I'll be seeing you. Noah ...
The entire female audience in the theater started to cry, my date did and I thought it was because of the film.(Later, I learned that she had recently lost both of her grandparents and she saw their love story in this film.)
It soon became even more clearer when in the present part of the film, it is made evident that the elderly woman is Allie — suffering from dementia, which has stolen her memories — and that Duke is her husband. Allie does not recognize their children and grandchildren, who beg Duke to come home with them. Duke insists on staying with Allie, refusing to abandon her by telling his children this...
"That's my sweetheart in there. Wherever she is, that's where my home is."
Once again, the female audience along with my date lost it. I kept thinking, OK whats next?
Then we are shown 1947 Allie is now engaged to someone that her parents approve of and In 1947, while trying on her wedding dress, Allie spots an article about Noah's renovation on the Windsor Plantation in a newspaper and faints. She realizes that she still has feeling for this man.
Later we are shown how this couple finally get together but to me the film became legendary when, in the present, Duke asks his fellow patient whom Allie had chosen. She soon realizes the answer herself; young Allie appears at Noah's doorstep, having left Lon at the hotel and chosen Noah. They embrace in reunion. Duke's elderly companion suddenly realizes that she herself is Allie. She remembers her past, and that Duke is Noah. They joyfully spend a brief intimate moment together; after originally finding out about her impending illness, she had herself written their story in the notebook with the title and instructions for Noah: "The story of our lives, by Allie Calhoun. Read this to me, and I'll come back to you." But soon Allie relapses, losing her memories of Noah yet again. She panics, and has to be sedated by the attending physician. This proves to be too difficult for Noah to watch and he breaks down and when he broke down my date really started to cry.
Watch the deleted scenes on the DVD, it really clarifies "The Notebook", why Allie wrote it.
Ever since I first watched this film, I have compared all movie love stories to this film. When I saw the film 'UP", I compared the 4.5 minute love start as a "Mini Notebook".
I had no idea, I thought that highly of the film until I rewatched it a few days ago and saw how many films have failed in my eyes because their love story can not compete with this one.
This is also why this review is a few weeks later than most end of the decade list, I had 2 films that I placed above the rest and until a few days ago, I did not have a real cut decision. This film is also about love, but the notebook was between a man and a woman, my #1 film of the decade is love between a father and a son.
So my #1 film of the decade between 2000-and 2009 is......
1. Finding Nemo
It tells the story of the overly protective clownfish Marlin, voiced by Albert Brooks, who along with a regal tang called Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, searches for his son Nemo, voiced by Alexander Gould. Along the way he learns to take risks and that his son is capable of taking care of himself.
What would a parent do to protect his child and when does the parent realize that the child can make his own rational choices in life? Such is the power of this story about a father and his son who become separated, and must struggle to find their way back to each other. Marlon is a loving but neurotic and overprotective father; Nemo is a frustrated young fish who wants to be independent and see the world, and resents his father for preventing him from doing so.
This film was different, in other past animated classic it has been the mother who is the strength of the film. But, in this one we are shown that the mother has dies and its the father who must try and do the best that he can.
We are shown 2 stories in this film, a father trying to find his lost son and the son trying to find his way back to his father. Along the way both sides pick up allies in their quest and you see how the father tries to survive all of the trials that he must go through just to get to Sydney, Australia to rescue his son. Please see it when you get the chance and hopefully this year the film will be released in Blu-ray.