The Movie Buffer

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

International Superstar!

This blog is now being read in 7 different countries! Hooray! Thank you everybody!

Let me just holla at my boys and ladies in: The UK, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Singapore, the USA and of course, Canada!

You keep coming and I'll keep writing 'em.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kamikaze Girls


May contain trace amounts of spoilers


Kamikaze Girls is a story about the two girls with big dreams and their struggles to succeed. Momoko, the one that dresses up in gothic "Lolita" style clothes, wants to live like the French did in the Baroque age. She spends her time eating only the sweetest sweets and practicing the fine art of needlepoint. Ichigo, the punk-rock school girl, wants to live a life free from the oppression of other people's expectations. These two unlikely characters meet up in a small town called, Shimotsuma, and their saga begins. Throughout the film the unlikely pair run into situations that are unlike anything they would have thought possible and as a tag team they break down the walls they had erected to protect themselves from the outside world.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is the title. I don't know why Viz chose this one. It's flawed in several ways: There are no planes involved, No divine winds, and there are no suicides. Furthermore, they left the original japanese title in the credits and it is much better, "The Legend of Shimotsuma". Also, kamikaze girls as translated by the average guy may end up as "Suicide girls" and that whole can of worms is opened. Bad form Viz.

Though the Engligh title may lead you to believe that this is a drama, don't be fooled. This is a comedy through and through. There are scenes with some slapstick, others with wordplay and other with just funny japanese in jokes. I watched the film with two friend who aren't japanese and they seemed relatively please with the funniness of the film. Lots of jokes at the expense of the consumerism and the classes in Japanese society.

The film's director, Tetsuya Nakashima, uses several different styles troughout the film to capture the eclectic content of the film. There are all kinds of different techniques such as anime sequence, overexposed/underexposed shots, and flashbacks. If you are easily annoyed by these techiques then this movie is not for you because they happen throughout and without warning.

The two lead actresses, Kyoko Fukada(momoko) and Anna Tsuchiya(Ichigo) are great at portraying their characters though they are relatively new to the acting scene. Though, most of their conversations end in a shouting match, which at a high pitched Japanese squeal can grate at some nerves, or drop kicks to the back, the dialogue is great.

The musical score was excellent. Since both of the girls are considered "idols" in japan, this means that they act, sing and dance, many of the songs that are played are their own. Sort of a cross promotional kind of thing. But it wasn't intrusive at all.

The only flaws in the film were minor. A couple of the secondary characters seemed tacked on for cheap laughs and the feverish pace sometimes lead to contradictions. But this movie is easy to forgive because is just hilarious to watch.

As a whole the movie was quite impressive, but from a guy that has spent extended periods of time in Japan and watching japanese films it was pretty typical. I'm going to give this film a 7.5 out of 10 or 3.5 stars. It was fun to watch but there was nothing too outstanding.

Constantly moving plot line, doesn't get bogged down
Comedy is great for a Japanese flick
Visual style is nothing like a hollywood or american movie

When cute Japanese girls scream their voices become really annoying
Secondary characters are lost because everything changes throughout the film
Title is utter garbage

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Top Tens: Memorable Movie Quotes

Old idea but so fun to do. This list is what I think most people would remember, if it was my list it would all be Transformers: the movie, Army of Darkness and Clerks quotes.

And here comes the fun:

10 - "I'm the King of the World! Wooooo!" Titanic: Simple and everybody saw Titanic.
9 - "Follow the yellow brick road" Wizard of Oz: Munchkins speaking = hilarious
8 - "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" Rudy: An inspiring story about Sean Astin and football
7 - "Alrighty Then!" Ace Ventura, Pet Detective: Prompted a generation of ass talking youths
6 - "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!"Apocalypse Now: Showed what the military is really like.
5 - "Rosebud" Citizen Kane: the original twist ending
4 - "Use the Force, Luke!" Star Wars: A new hope: Come on, This one is obvious
3 - "E.T. Phone Home." E.T.: I love that little squishy guy!
2 - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" Gone with the Wind: Classic line delivered perfectly
"I'll be back/ Hasta La Vista" Terminator 2: Arnold at his very best

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Poll time!

I made a stylistic change to my reviews recently, I stopped putting the "check list" of pros and cons of the films at the end of the reviews, and I want some feedback from the readers. I'll enable anonymous posts for a couple of days so people who wish to remain nameless can.

Do you like the checklists or not?

Cheers and See you at the movies!

Dvd Rental Extravaganza!

I spent my movie budget last week on Thumbsucker and The Aristocrats so friday night was a movie reantal night. We got Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - the Untold Story and Star Wars Episode 3.

Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

The family guy was exactly what I expected, 90 minutes of "you remember when...", "this reminds me of..." and "like that time....". There were a few good laughs, the Roseanne part and some of the dialogue between the news anchors. But the rest was all the same jokes we liked on the show redone for the movie. Since the humour of the faily guy is based on just random acts it was hard to get into the film because nothing really fit together. There was about 10 minutes of story and then all flashbacks and time filler. I don't need to see Peter nurse a wound for more than 10 seconds tops. If you're a big fan of the series, then you will not be disappointed but if you're like me and are a casual fan of the show just watch the first season over and you'll have gotten the movie.

Should you rent this: Only a big fan should

Star Wars 3

I saw this one in theatres and I was rather pleased by it. When I watched it again, the flaws that were minute before became far more obvious. This is by no means a great movie but it does better than the previous two films. The action reminded me of Indiana Jones and lo and behold a guest director had taken the reigns from Lucas for the action scenes - that man was the one and only, Steven Spielberg. This movie is a decent action movie but a sub-par Star Wars movie. Also, the hand chopping off scenes get a little ludicrous

Should you rent this: If you want to finish the series, yes. Otherwise don't go out of your way to.

Friday, November 18, 2005


*** Note***

You know the drill


I'm having some fun going to these indie type flicks. I guess it's the fact that they may end up surprising you.

In this movie, rather than focusing solely on the thumsucking habit of the main character the director paints a great picture of life in middle america. We've seen this sort of story in "American Beauty" but in this film instead of having issues with image and perception, the characters are actually striving to better themselves actually rather than superficially. The story revolves around the life of a loner 17-year-old, Justin Cobb, played aptly by Lou Pucci. Justin thinks his problems revolve around his habit of sucking his thumb in times of stress. His overprotective mother and father try te get him to stop, his nurse mother shows him compassion and understanding and his macho father tries to fear and guilt him out of it. He even lets his orthodontist hypnotize him to help him quit. The thumbsucking is dealt with relatively early in the film and it goes on to describe how his life and world change. The secondary characters in the film seem one dimensional to begin with but as the story unfolds more and more layers appear and everyone feels like a real person by the end.

Vincent D'Onofrio and Tilda Swinton do a great job as the concerned parents of Justin. They both start off being very simple characters but as Justin's life "normalizes", it is revealed that they have character beyond the Mom and Dad archetype. Keanu Reeves and Vince Vaughn also appear in the film as the orthodontist and the debating club coach, respectively. Keanu falls back into the strange loner character so he does an okay job with that. I was very pleased with Vaughn's character. It was unlike anything I have seen him do. He was quiet, nervous, insecure and serious, everything that a fast talking comedian shouldn't be.

The director, Mike Mills, used many different kinds of camera shots, framing and lighting to better show the moods without fail. The film was cleverly shot and the cuts were intuitive and nothing ever felt rushed or missing.

The soundtrack was another fine point to this movie. The majority of the music was performed by the Polyphonic Spree and they did an awesome job at highlighting the evolution of the characters and the progression of the mood.

The only problems that I had with the movie are fairly small. Justin's love interest in the movie has an abrupt character change without warning or explanation, which would be fine if she neve came up again in the movie but she plays a huge role in his life. Second, bringing in ADHD seems like a really tacked on way of introducing Ritalin and a drug addiction in the story. Finally, the "mom and dad" story line that gets developed extensively throughout the movie gets dropped at the end.

This film deserves an 8/10 or 4 star rating. The movie was great save a few mistakes made by a rookie director and screen writer. The subject material has been done and redone but the director makes it interesting. Pucci has a bright future ahead of him if continues to pick interesting films like this one. Some have mentionned that the title stinks but there's something that you can relate from thumbsucking to the awkwardness of being a teenager.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What are you watching this weekend?

Unlike any part of the year. this is the time when good movies come out every weekend. This week is "Walk the Line", the Johnny Cash story( I call it this because 'biopic' is such a lame expression), and the new Harry Potter film "Goblet of Fire".

"Walk the Line" looks interesting though I am doubtful that Joaquin Pheonix will be a good Cash mostly because his previous attempts at acting are marginal at best. But my imagination has been piqued and I will certainly be there on opening night.

"Goblet of Fire" looks exactly like all the previous Potter offerings. Kids are obsessed with that little guy and parents seem to like it aswell. I'm going to pass on this one because I'm not a fan of the series or the books and also I want an unsullied mind when I watch the new Chronicles of Narnia flick. Now that's real fantasy writing!

Also, I'm going to catch an independent film called "thumbsucker", so a review is going to follow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

This is the brass ring: A gold Statue

With the Academy Award consideration period ending in a month, the major studios are going to be releasing their contenders. 20th century Fox is hoping that "Walk to Line" will be similarly sucessful as last years' Universal release, "Ray". Other films that have oscar hype are "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", "Memoirs of a Geisha" and the new musical "Rent". These big studio oscar hopefulls are going to have a run for their money this year with all the smaller semi-independent films that have been released such as "Chumscrubber" and "The Squid and the Whale". I predict a few surprizes and a few snubs at this years awards unlike the last couple of years save the one where Halle Berry won for "Monster's Ball".

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Aristocrats

There is no way that I can spoil this movie. Read on and Enjoy.

The Aristocrats had the tagline "No nudity, No violence and Unspeakable obscenity". It is the perfect hook. What looked like a movie showing the progression of humour and joke telling from the Vaudeville age to the present turned out to be 75 of todays most recognizable comedians giving thier two cents or not about this joke that has a fixed beginning and end but the middle segment is whatever you want it to be. This is the joke that comedians tell other comedians to stretch their imaginations and push the envelope after the censors have gone home to their warm milk and Family Circus comics.

Being a documentary, I expected a few stylistic cues like a progression from person to person or idea to idea but it turned out to be very much like the Joke. The beginning and the end were laid out before we knew what the middle was and the next 79 minutes was the explanation.

The language was foul beyond belief. If you like the profanity then this is certainly a movie for you. It got so bad there were two instances where people left the theatre. The funny thing was that they had lasted through the worst and they were moving on to what would be the tamer ending.

The editing also ground my nerves raw. They could not get a whole cut of the joke. The camera man always started cracking up or someone would chime in with a tidbit of info or they would just cut the scene and never come back to it. They tell you the joke of course but they leave the middle part mostly to your imagination. The movie is more about the reaction to the joke rather than the joke itself.

I thought there were some good points to the film: Lewis Black, Bob Saget and Penn&Teller, but its definitely not one that I could recommend to anyone other than those who like grossout humour. All things considered, I give this film a 3/10 or a 1.5 star rating. It does have some of the funny but not enough to save the film from floundering.

Zathura is Jumanji, Jumanji is Zathura!

Okay, okay, I know children's movies are based around 2 or 3 main ideas. I know that the same story can entertain children over and over. But in the case of Zathura, it has some how tricked some critics into thinking that this is a new and wondrous concept.

While watching TV I caught the ad for Zathura - Kids playing a board game get transported into space where the game world becomes reality - I thought "wow, this is very much like Jumanji but in space". Lo and behold, the story was written by the same author as Jumanji, Chris Van Allsburg. It took him about a decade to come up with Jumanji in space ( Jumanji released in 1995, Zathura in 2005).

Then the most aggravating part of the ad appeared the quotes from critics. "The most original movie of the season" it claimed and I laughed heartily. Jumanji in space? Give me a break. Next thing you'll know, they're going to be saying that the next American Pie is imaginative or XXX3 is unique. I can't disagree with the fact that in the trailer the effects look great and the backdrop of space is rather amazing. A more apt quote would have been something along the lines of "a tremendous visual journey" or "special effect mastery at its best" I know Hollywood has been releasing far too many remakes and reinterpretations of the classics and not so classic films but there has to be somebody doing something original, am I wrong?

Regardless of originality or not, the film looks good and kids will probably end up loving it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005



Mild spoilers present, Hoo-ah!

***End Note***

Most major film critics could not decide whether not they liked this movie or not so it did not gain the buzz that it should have had. So, view this movie knowing if you come out and you don't know if you like it or not, you're not the only one.

Personally, I thought the movie was great. The style that Mendes, director of such films as "American Beauty" and "Road to Perdition", brings to the table is an acute eye for the fine details of a scene, the slow pace of a mundane job and the cruelties of humanity. The source material for this movie is an autobiography of a young marine, who participated in the first gulf war, Anthony Swafford. His insights into life in the corps show the viewers that though the fighting may be over before you know it, the effects of war linger, frighten and change you for better or for worse.

The acting in this film is good, Jamie Foxx, plays a hard nosed Staff sergeant for an elite division of scout snipers. He drives his new recruits to their limit and smiles while doing it. Foxx is a career soldier, which is an excellent foil to Jake Gyllenhaal's weekend warrior character. Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Swofford is excellent. I could believe that he was going insane from the boredom. He goes from bright eyed new recruit, to trained killing machine and finally to resigned veteran. The secondary actors try hard but end up one dimensional. But in a military type movie complex characters are kept to a minimum. So it’s a toss up here: Bad acting lead to bad characters or did bit parts make actors look worse than they are?

The way the film was shot takes on characteristics of past war movies: It has pans and stills of the desert terrain similar to “Lawrence of Arabia”. It has the handheld camera shots like “Saving Private Ryan”. It has the close ups and the contemplative shots that mimic the style of “Platoon”. Mendes doesn’t have the technical prowess of David Lean, the grandiose nature of Steven Spielberg or the first hand experience like Oliver Stone, so paying homage to these past films helps him get through the content.

The movie deserves 8.5 out of ten or 4 stars because it showed what a military career can be without all the bravado, propaganda and glory that they would make you believe. Furthermore, the action was great, the day-to-day parts were interesting, sometimes even funny, and Jake makes his character likeable though he has many problems. The film misses with some cookie cutter characters like Chris Cooper’s overzealous colonel, the bloodthirsty new recruits and the veterans that can do no wrong. Moreover, the scene mimicry does get under your skin if you recognize it. The director should have taken a chance and tried to make it himself.

So enjoy this film wholeheartedly, you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Least likely comic book movies

You may or may not know that yours truly is a comic book geek. Yeah, two socially inept stereotypes rolled into one. With recent sucesses and past failures at making comic book movies, here's a list of books that should not be released in live action format.

5. The Flaming Carrot:
Like the name suggests the main character of this movie is a detective who, instead of having a human head has a head shaped like a carrot but instead of having a leafy green top part it has flames. He runs around solving crimes, rescuing dames and kicking peoples teeth in. Great comic book, awful movie idea.
4. Turok:
First person shooting like DOOM, but in the jungle, killinging dinosaurs. Passable video game, uninteresting comic, bad movie.
3. Gen13/DV8:
Dawson's creek but with nubile super-heroes and super-heroines. My favourite artist worked on this comic but other than that it was dull.
2. Howard the Duck...wait they made this.
1. Too Much Coffee Man:
A hero that knows no bounds when imbibing the sweet, sweet nectar of life, coffee. Was ripped off by Mad-TV and now the regular joe hates the character.

I did like the comic form of most of these books. The ideas are great for little 32 page stories but for a 100 minute movie. I think it would grind on peoples nerves.