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All reviews - Movies (74)

A Deep Study into Marines at War.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 17 October 2014 12:24 (A review of Jarhead)

This is one of my favorite war movies, oddly enough, it had no war, but it had everything you see in a war movie except the action, instead, it was a deep study into characters and it was written by a former marine, a movie that cuts the conventional Hollywood bullshit and show you the real side of 'war'.

Directed by Sam Mendes, the guy who brings suburban family movies that either hit or miss, this movie is very surprising coming from the same guy, it's a story about the marines in 'gulf war' or the 'Persian Gulf War', in which after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and was building up to attack Saudi Arabia, a coalition forces from 34 nations led by the United States was formed against Iraq condemning it's invasion, so the U.S sends it's marines to the Iraqi Side of the Arabian Desert (the Desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia) to protect the oil fields in case Saddam attack them, a 5 weeks in the desert in which you feel the marines frustration and craziness and it was one of the best character studies ever to see in a movie.

The movie starts with the marine corps training, a scene which pretty much looked like the drill instructor scene from 'full metal jacket', and it can never be as good as that seen from the Stanley Kubrick film, but i'd like to give this movie the benefit of the doubt, the reason is that we will always have the image of that movie in-mind, so every-time we see a cruel drill instructor yelling at the marines in the camp training, we would say that it's trying to duplicate 'full metal jacket', and it may not be true, because at the end of the day, this is a movie about marines, and it featured marines training so it can be a standard situation no more no less.

Jake Gyllenhaal in the leading role, playing as Anthony Swofford, a guy who feels like he made a mistake by enlisting in the marines and he want to get out of it as soon as possible, he embodies that character so well, it's one of his best performances ever, he brings the movie into actual reality, along side of him was Peter Sarsgaard playing as an ex-criminal who lied in his application and will get dismissed after going back home, and the overall performances were very good, Evan Jones play as weird freak, Jamie Foxx on the other hand was out of place, personally, i never liked him as an actor, but sometimes he brings a good performance, like in 'Django unchained', when he played as slave who didn't say much the entire movie, but here, he played as a tough Staff Sergeant, and he wasn't able to fulfill his role, i thought that he was really annoying, specially in the beginning at the training camp, but he got better as the movie continued.

This movie might sound like it's a war movie, but it's actually an anti-war movie, and that's what i liked about it, it was written by a former marine, and whose better to show you the marine corps in a war than a guy who lived it, because we've all seen war movies when they tried to sell us the idea that the marines or the army in general are fearless tough people, but at the end of the day, these people are humans with emotions, this movie doesn't shy away from anything, with Jake Gyllenhaal pissing himself when the bombing started, the whole 'wall of shame' of the girlfriends and/or wife's of the marines who dumped them, showing you screw ups and failures, degrading and humiliating soldiers who screwed up, freaky characters who loses their minds in the desert and starts messing with dead people, it's all very deep study into people at war and it's very unconventional and different from other movies, the movie mention masturbation numerous times, which might be kinda offensive to some people to see the marines represented that way, but it's all very real, many of wife's and girlfriends do dump their husband/boyfriend when they get sends to war, guys do masturbate to the photos of their girlfriends, girlfriends do send their sex tape to the boyfriends as a revenge, it's all real, and people might not like it.

The movie was visually stunning, it was beautiful, i actually had to pause few times just to look at the frames, specially the ones with the oil burring up in the night, that was one of the best visuals I've seen, and the music was fantastic, sound mixing and score were beautiful, the overall production was flawless.

The reason that this movie had no war, is that, the majority of 'Operation Desert Shield' was handled by the air force, the coalition forces used aerial and naval bombardment to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, there were very few ground battles, and the marines had nothing to do with it, they were on the Saudi side of the desert when the battle were inside the Iraqi borders, and because i know that, i already knew that there are going to be no war, but people who don't know that might find it frustrating, the entire build up was ended by nothing, but i think that's the point, it goes to show you the frustration the marines felt never having to fire a pullet the entire war, and it achieved it's point very well.

As i mentioned before, the movie brings realism never before seen in a war movie, it's even shows you how the marines live after they go back home, they either get a regular job or go back to whatever shitty life they had before, shows you how for some of them, the marine corps destroyed their lives, left them in an empty house surrounded by walls in which no-one even remember that 'they served their country', so after all, this movie is very politically motivated and i loved every second of it.

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Very Weak for a Gangsta Flick.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 12 October 2014 10:11 (A review of The Untouchables)

Coming from Brian De Palma, the guy who directed Scarface starring AL Pacino, this movie blow your mind in the other way, as it lacked dialog, lacked suspense, lacked performances, lacked even the basic elements to make a movie memorable.

With A-listers all around like Robert De Niro at his peak and Sean Connery the old and better, this movie should be one of the best gangsta flicks there is, but talent should meet talent at the other end, otherwise, we would have a very cold unpolished movie with no suspense and not even one decent performance.

It's a movie about the legend AL Capone (played by Robert De Niro), a very intimidating mafia boss who control the illegal trading of alcohol during it's prohibition in Chicago in the early 30's, determine to stop him is the newly appointed treasury officer Eliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner), but in a corrupted city, with corrupted policemen, Ness find it to be very hard to assemble the right crew to help him, so he find Jim Malone (played by Sean Connery) who's an old and wise foot patrol policeman.

After assembling the right crew, which consists of Jim Malone, an accountant named Oscar Wallace and a new cop named George Stone (played by Andy Garcia), the four decide to stop an alcohol trafficking at the Canadian-American border, with the help of the Canadian police, a scene which should be the most important one in the entire movie, had so many flaws, it left me speechless.

The scene was very weak and unbalanced, and it was really obvious to see that, the four cops were hiding in a cottage on the american side and the Canadian cops were hiding behind the mountains on the Canadian side, and they were both monitoring the gang members trading boxes of alcohol on the bridge connecting Canada with the U.S, so you see the Canadian police on their horses raiding the bridge, at the same time the four cops starts raiding the bridge too, but it took the Canadian cops few minutes to reach the bridge and start shooting, and it took forever for the four cops to reach the bridge, so after the shoot out started, the gang members starts fleeing to the american side only to see the four cops in their way, the camera cuts to the american side and shows you the shoot out between the four cops and the gang members, and it never cut back to the Canadian cops, so you don't know what happened to them, i mean they came from the other side of the bridge riding horses, so what happened to them? did they shoot some gang members?, did they got shot? did they disappear? because that's the only explanation, the shoot out on the american side took along time, but the Canadian cops never reached the other side of the bridge, it's like they jumped off to the water and died.

Robert De Niro's performance as Al Capone was incredible, he was very intimidating while on screen, he had the laugh, and the accent and he was the best thing about this movie, the problem is, he had no screen time at all, he had very few lines and his character isn't even in a supporting role, it was a cameo, which is very shocking when you realize that the best thing about this movie came from a cameo, instead, we have Kevin Costner playing as a family man, delivering one of the worst performances, I've seen in a long time, how he was casted in supposedly a strong gangsta flick was beyond comprehension, he wasn't even able to deliver the most important punchlines in the movie, he was very weak and pathetic, furthermore, Sean Connery performance was very awkward, his Irish-American accent was laughable, it comes very strong at some scenes and it disappear on the other scenes, so how he won an academy award with that accent is terrifying.

Now, i might have trashed this movie more than others, and the reason for it, is that this is a gangsta flick, a movie about mafia should never come off this weak and/or mediocre, it's a movie about AL Capone, in which AL Capone was not in it, and the leading man was horribly casted , and the movie lacked dialog, the screenplay was very weak, there were too many scenes when you expect something to be said, but it didn't, it's like they didn't speak to each-other unless it was absolutely necessary, and the confrontations were one sided for the most cases, the whole atmosphere was cold, you'd expect some sound-effects to go with these car chases, but it was awfully silent, the only thing to make up was the beautiful cinematography, the beautiful music and the very few scenes with Robert De Niro.

Overall, a very weak and unmemorable movie who lacked many elements, in which it came off laughable when it shouldn't, and it wasn't funny when it should, because Kevin Costner couldn't deliver the fucking punchline in a proper or at least in an exciting way, this guy should never be in a serious movie.

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A Gory Mess with Absence of Logic.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 7 October 2014 07:09 (A review of 28 Weeks Later)

This movie is supposed to be a sequel to the 2002 Danny Boyle '28 Days Later... ', which is a mistake by itself, because that movie didn't need any follow up, it ended perfectly well and the story was closed.

The movie starts with Don (played by Robert Carlyle) along with his wife living in a Cottage far away from the city with few other people, the evening was disturbed by a knock on the door from a kid who was followed by infected people, the movie throw logic away from the very first 10 minutes with Don opening the door for the kid, because you know, it's not like there are zombies all over him, so zombies start breaching the house and killing everyone, and don abandon his wife and escape the house because he wasn't able to do anything to save her, and the scene ends with everyone's dead expect don.

Cut to 28 weeks later, with London secured by NATO forces and American Marines, and few people are coming in to live there! which is absolutely stupid, the city wasn't entirely secured, doctors weren't able to find an Immunity or anything to defeat the virus, so why are people coming in is never explained, Don welcome his daughter and son at the train station and take them to the hotel, Don's kids decided to go to their old house which belongs to a unsafe (possibly infected) area just to bring some family photos, they find their mom there infected but not dead.

Here's where the movie starts becoming ridiculous, they bring the infected person to the same area where there's residents, because you know, it's not like the virus caused an epidemic before, they leave the infected person with minimum security, don goes to visit his wife, and nobody stops him, because the movie have to start again, i mean, it has to start some way, and next thing you know, it's an epidemic all over again.

The movie spent too much money and time trying to make you feel like the Marine had this area covered, they bring "code red", like it supposed to be the ultimate protocol to kill the epidemic if it spread again, but when it does, you'll find out that "code red" was absolutely stupid, they locked down all people, infected or not at the same room, but somehow people were able to break and flee, maybe they used plastic locks to lock them down, when people starts fleeing, Marines start shooting everybody, it was a gore festival, but how killing everybody is securing the area?, furthermore, they bombed the city killing all 1500 people who arrived to London to live there, then they gassed it and took off, somehow that doesn't seem like they did a good job, and why the movie was trying to sell the idea that Marines knew what they were doing, but then the whole thing collapsed on itself making them look stupid, that seems like a terrible writing for me.

The worst thing about this movie was that, you don't really care about the people, right when Don becomes infected, there's none to root for, who's the protagonist? this movie used cliche no.1 in horror for the entire movie, which is killing secondary characters that you don't care about, even worse, they bring you another group led by the Marine Doyle (played by Jeremy Renner) who happened to abandon his mission and friends and went to few people to save them from the bombing and the gas, because the movie had to continue somehow, and you have to root for someone, but i didn't care about anyone, if anything, i wished that people would die because i wanted the movie to end.

It's very hard to mention performances here, because all they ever did was running, but Robert Carlyle brings a believable performance, on the other hand, Jeremy Renner played the most cliche Marine character ever, it was like 'let me leave my post to save people i don't know, and then let me waste my life trying to save those people even though, i just killed so many of them when i was at the top of the building'.

Overall, Absolutely unnecessary movie that was executed with no logic, no protagonists, nobody to care about, and had a terrible ending, which i hope didn't mean that we'll have another one, because i'm done with these zombies bullshit.

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Very Inspiring.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 3 October 2014 09:04 (A review of The Square)

The Square is a very inspiring documentary which follows few people as they participate in a revolution against 30 years dictatorship in Egypt, filmed mostly by small digital cameras used by the director herself (Jehane Noujaim), this movie said 'fuck stock footage', as it relies entirely on recordings from the grounds.

The Egyptian revolution is very enormous, and one of the biggest in history, but it mainly consists of three significant parts, one Against 30 years Dictatorship (against Mubarak who ruled Egypt from 1981 to 2011), two Against Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Against Mohamed Hussein Tantawi), three Against Muslim Brotherhood (against Mohamed Morsi), so this movie starts at the second part, right after Mubarak stepped down from the presidential office, which means the movie lacked two weeks from the main revolution which started in 25-Jan-2011.

The very best part of this movie is that it was able to combine all aspects of Egyptian society in one group, you have Muslims, Christians, Lower, upper and working class citizens, a foreigner, a political activist, a member from the Muslim Brotherhood, so this managed to give you an access to the ideology of those people, while it focused mostly on Ahmed, a lower class citizen, an uneducated person who worked his whole life in the streets, it showed you that all those parts of society have one thing in-common, which is the ability to rise together against their regime, risking their life for a good cause.

When the armed force took over the country, it didn't do anything beneficial, they removed Mubarak from the office, and kept the same corrupted government in the same places, furthermore, they asked people to go home because their demands are now being taking care off, and when some citizens refused to leave the square, they violently removed and arrested too many of them, so the revolution starts rising again, this time they felt betrayed by the armed forces because they lied to them, the Muslim Brotherhood participated for the first time in the revolution, but they did it for themselves, for political gains, and an election came about, which is probably the most inappropriate one because people had no idea who to elect, Morsi (From the Muslim Brotherhood) or Ahmed Shafik which came from the same previous corrupted government, Morsi won the election, right after he took over the presidential office, he started changing the constitution, he gave himself access to many thing, even Mubarak had no access to, so in 30-June-2013, a massive revolution starts again, against Morsi until they removed him from the office.

Although, this documentary starts two weeks after the 'jan-2011' to the end of the revolution 'june-2013', which is almost two years, i still think that the first two weeks were very valid to make this documentary a masterpiece, but it was very impressive work nonetheless, it managed to showcase that the Egyptian are very courageous, very inspirational people, it managed to showcase the different aspects of society, it managed to show friendship, specially between Ahmed and Magdy, even though they have different ideologies, they still defended each-other and stood for one-another.

What i always loved about Egyptians is that they are aware of their culture, and they aren't blinded by ignorance, people who lived under the same corrupted regime for 30 years still have the courage to change, even if it means risking everything they have, even the most lower class people shows you hope, which is something i don't see coming from a country who lived pretty much the same situations, i just wish that Iraqi people would have 10 percent of the courage that Egyptians have, although they have too many parties involved, one that benefit from corruption and ones that don't, they stood together to achieve the real democracy, something i wish to see someday happening here in my country, so lets just hope........

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Boring, Pointless and Random.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 3 October 2014 04:35 (A review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

Let me give you a little preview, this movie was directed by Terry Gilliam, the guy behind the overrated 'Life of Brian', the overrated 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' and the overrated '12 Monkeys', it seems like every movie this guy created have turned into "a cult classic", and while the movies i mentioned weren't terrible, in fact most of them are decent or below decent, but i'm pretty much okay with them, but 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is where i draw the line, because it was pure randomness.

It tells the story of two stoners, played by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro, the character played by Johnny Depp is actually Hunter S. Thompson, the writer of this movie, as he works for 'Rolling Stone' and he goes to Las Vegas along with his attorney to cover A motorcycle rally, and that's the entire story, he goes to las vegas and end up going from one place to another while stoned, the entire movie is those two guys being stoned and not making any sense, so how this movie was well received by audience is beyond comprehension.

Even, when i'm saying that "the entire movie is about two stoners going to las vegas", that line might be an overstatement, because the movie was much less than that, every sentence was written for this movie didn't make any sense, the camera work gave me a migrate, there weren't any jokes in this "comedy", there weren't any dialog, most scenes were way too short and not settle, stoners performances were very stoned, many scenes were random and disgusting, and overall, you can't laugh when you have a migrate from the camera work, and you have no idea what's going on, and the movie was way too long to enjoy, two hours of complete randomness were too much for the normal brain.

Furthermore, this movie had so many cameos from great actors, like Tobey Maguire, Camerona Diaz, Gary Busey, Mark Harmon, Richard Riehle, Gregory Itzin and Christina Ricci, but the movie never uses those people, they were just there within frame, most of them didn't even have a line, and the ones that did, it was just as bad as the two leads character, adding insult to injury, they even managed to make Christopher Meloni character annoying.

You watch movies like 'The Hangover' and you think, well, that was very funny, and kinda random, so why this isn't, because this movie didn't have any interesting characters, nothing was happening, and nothing made sense, scenes were too short and too many, it was very hard to focus on something, just when you start to engage a little bit into a conversation, the scene ends, it was very hard to get through and not funny at all, even terrible comedies can make you laugh once or twice, this one never.

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too Painful to Watch.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 30 September 2014 10:46 (A review of Hunger)

Hunger was the debut full-length movie for Steve McQueen, and it is one of those movies where you have to watch it because it's a debut for a promising director, but it just burnt into my mind, to be honest i wish that i haven't seen it, it was too painful to watch.

It tells the story of Bobby Sands, an IRA (Irish Republican Army) member, who were imprisoned in HM Prison Maze, and was leading the prison into a hunger strike demanding the Special Category Status, which is a status in which he should be treated as a political prisoner not as a criminal and should not be wearing a prison costume.

The movie starts silently for long time, with no dialog, just capturing the suffering and the violence inside the prison, how the prisoners were treated and how they exchange messages and fight the system, and it was very hard to get through the beginning, because it was kinda disgusting and had so much violent, brutal scenes, but that was the tip of the iceberg for what's coming up next.

The entire 96 minutes had one very interesting 15 minutes dialog, a conversation between Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender) and a priest (played by Liam Cunningham), more than 10 minutes of that conversation was shot one take only, and that was really impressive, although, they starts slow talking about irrelevant things, but then the priest tries to convince Bobby not to go through with the hunger strike, and it was really amazing, it made me question the amount of dialog an actor can memorize and deliver in one take.

Steve McQueen does a fantastic job capturing the changes on Michael Fassbender body as he go through with the hunger strike, and Michael Fassbender lost so much weight to play this part, add some make-up, scares and tortures remarks and that image will be burnt in your mind, it was so disturbingly realistic, that it made me feel sick, i actually felt sick watching it, i remember feeling that way when i watched 'Requiem for a dream', and although it showed devotion from the actor, and talent from the director, but i don't think it was that necessary to show someone dying from hunger exactly like what it would look like if it was really happening, but if you're familiar with Steve McQueen, you'll know that he would go as far as he can just to get his point across.

Overall, the movie was really painful to watch, but that doesn't mean it's bad at all, if anything, it was incredibly realistic and disturbing, and for a debut film, this is really impressive work, although, i would appreciate it a lot better, if the director gave us a little background as why is this happening, he did gave us an introduction to the story but that doesn't explain everything, i had to read about it to fully understand the situation, so he lose a point for me, because he just assumed that everybody knows about the conflict between the IRA and the British government.

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Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 28 September 2014 06:13 (A review of Behind the Candelabra)

It is one of those movies, when you expect it to be bad or mediocre but you end up having a great time.

It's tells the story of Liberace, a well known and famous pianist and entertainer, he lived a life of success and sexual perversion, he was known for his costumes and his candelabra (he came up with an idea of setting a candelabra above his piano), the movie didn't focus on his art, instead, it focused on his relationship with Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon), and that's actually convenient because Scott Co-wrote this movie, the movie starts with Scott, he's a bisexual good looking guy who wants to be a veterinarian, and his friend introduced him to Liberace once, so Liberace offered Scott to come work for him as his assistant, and things evolve into a gay relationship.

I think the gay relationship wasn't the most interesting part about the movie, how scott evolved was more interesting, he was very shy at first, it obvious that he never tried a gay relationship before, he used to shiver when Liberace touch him, so you get to see Scott change, from that guy, to a jealous person, with a "California Diet", drug addictions and plastic surgeries, you get to see him abandoned his entire life, dreams and people who raised him just to become somebody's boyfriend, an idea that he completely rejected at first, but a life of glory, cars and gold made him forget what he really wants.

I wasn't familiar with Liberace before watching this movie, i actually never even heard about him, so i didn't think that this movie is going to be interesting, but it did surprise me, specially the performances, as usual, Matt Damon performance was incredible, even more incredible was Michael Douglas, he had the look, the walk, even the voice, you can watch interviews with the real Liberace to confirm, the movie production design was really interesting, they used actual items, furniture, specially made costumes, Jewelry's and many things were used by Liberace.

I think it's fair to mention that the movie somehow was more about Scott than Liberace, i mean, they didn't focus on his music, i think they're were only two maybe three scenes of Liberace playing the piano, which is why the movie title is "behind the candelabra" not "Liberace" i was actually worried on the way Steven Soderbergh will interpret this story, i don't like this director, and i thought that he was going to glorify a life style of perversion (drugs, homosexuality, plastic surgeries, ect.), but somehow he stayed on the line and kept a Biography pattern and did a very good job, if i have to criticize, i think he should have included more drama but it was good nonetheless.

Overall, it's a good, enjoyable movie, with great performances, great music and a valid message.

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Guilty Pleasure.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 27 September 2014 10:14 (A review of Pain & Gain)

For the record, i just want to point out that making a comedy movie about a real murder is very inappropriate and Michael Bay is an ass**le for doing it, that being said, i also want to point out that Paramount didn't even pay a dime to the actual survivor Marc Schiller, which is usually not the case for movies based on true stories, they tend to support the actual guy, and in most cases, they tend to use him in interviews to further promote the movie, and these crimes didn't happened along time ago, which means, the family of the victims still alive and can see this comedy which makes the producers even more ass**les.

It's a story about three meat heads, steroids junkies, two of them with a criminal record, and they go to the sun gym in Miami, effected by their reality and wanting to live the american dream, they came up with a plan, which is kidnapping a rich guy, take everything he owns, and release him drugged so he wouldn't know what happened, they set their site on an accountant who goes to the gym, who also have a record of scamming, which makes it the perfect target, because he wouldn't go the authority if things happen to him.

After kidnapping him, he identify one of them, so after so many days torturing him, they get all the signatures they wanted, then decide to kill him, so they ran him over by their car, and because they were so amateur and stupid, they didn't check if he was dead, but that didn't effect them because the authority didn't believe Victor Kershaw (the alternate name of the actual guy), he was drunk, and they thought that he made a car accident, plus no-one reported that he was missing.

As bad as all this look, the reality is that the movie was disturbingly accurate, they actually dressed like a Ninja and green bug when they kidnapped him in-front of his restaurant, they used code names like "eagle's nest" and the first attempt of kidnapping him, the one that failed, they were running in his yard, covering themselves with piece of cloth and yelling, "mission abort", so it may all sound so stupid in the movie (Michael Bay comedy style) but it actually happened, they actually lived in his house and used his cars, but after they ran out of the money, they decide to re-do it again, with a guy and his wife that owns a sex phone business, this time they accidentally kill them both and they get arrested, they decide to dismember the bodies and dispose them in barrels in the lake, and the scene when they go to home depot to buy a chainsaw, and then they use it and it breaks, they actually returned it to the store after using it, which is the reason i said that this movie was disturbingly accurate.

The reason why this movie is a guilty pleasure to me, because those guys where so stupid and so amateur, and the movie was so bizarre and hard to believe that you forget that it based on a true story and you starts enjoying it for what it is, and the writing was very creative, some one liners were absolutely hilarious, Daniel Lugo (played by Mark Wahlberg) tells John Mese "star 69" after Victor Kershaw hangs the phone on them, so John Mese says "you want me to have sex with him?", and there were so many scenes that was really funny, even the editing, which tells you, "the perfect performance", "the weakest link", "the new recruit", which was basically, an introduction to characters, even further, Daniel Lugo was unintentionally hilarious, with lines like "i'm a doer", and "i have no sympathy to fat people, not only it's disgusting, it's unpatriotic", and the fact that he actually thought that he was going to make america a better place.

The performances were awesome, and all over your face, the characters were very well written and very well mixed together, and overall, it was very enjoyable movie, even the awkward scenes had me laughing all the way, and to confirm that this is an accurate movie, watch a documentary called "Muscles and Mayhem" which is based on the actual crimes, the only way the movie got it wrong, when they kidnap Victor Kershaw, there were more people involved, but they didn't help the three all the way, they just helped them do the kidnapping, also Paul Doyle (played by Dwayne Johnson) wasn't buff at all, he was skinny white dude, and the death sentence scene, the movie shows you that Adrian Doorbal cried when hearing the sentence, and Daniel Lugo didn't care, but it actually the other way around.

Overall, hilarious, unfortunate movie, with great performances, great atmosphere and funny characters, and might be the only movie by Michael Bay that i actually like, even though, he was an ass**le who made us root for the bad guys, it's still a funny movie, i'm sorry.

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Pure, Brutal Reality.

Posted : 7 years, 10 months ago on 25 September 2014 11:57 (A review of Syn Babilonu)

I'm incredibly overwhelmed about the fact that i'm reviewing an Iraqi movie, because in all my years watching movies, never thought that some day i will be watching a movie from my own country, because we are a nation of wars, discriminated by the entire world for 30 years, and discriminated by our system for 30 years, an under developed country that is barely recovering from dictatorship that took the lives of so many generations, a nation of people that became so familiar with death even 10 years from the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Set in 2003, this movie takes place 3 days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, at an unknown location in Kurdistan with an old woman and her grandson who embark on a devastating road trip, traveling for 1000 Km to northern Iraq (Nasiriyah), to search for her son (Ibrahim) who have been missing for 12 years (since 1992), all she has is a letter from a friend in battle saying that Ibrahim have been captured by Saddam Baath party and imprisoned in AL-Nasiriyah Prison, with a little hope Ibrahim mother takes her grandson Ahmed through a brutal, dangerous route searching for his father.

After arriving at the prison, they found it to be compromised by locals who came searching for their sons, so they starts searching in massive graves trying to find his name on the lists, going from one mass grave to another, you go through their desperation and struggles, they meet Musa, a former national guard who was forced to kill women and children in Anfal Massacre in Kurdistan, you get to hear his story and how Baath party threatened to kill his wife and children if he refuses to comply, he starts helping them going from one place to another, until they're overwhelmed by his help and decide to continue alone.

As you can imagine, a story about a guy who have been missing for 12 years, and was captured by Saddam Baath party for god knows why, does not have a happy ending, and it shouldn't, it was pure reality, even more than the story of desperation, the actual end was devastating.

It's very hard to mention the word "performances" here, because non of them were professional actors, just normal people who lived these situations before or seen them from close, but they left no doubts in me and were completely satisfying, specially Shazada Hussein with that desperate look on her face, she was heartbreaking, along with very good performance by Musa (Bashir Al Majid) and let's not forget Ahmed who delivered a believable performance, even though sometimes he was mediocre, but it was difficult to put a kid in these situations and tell him to react to it, so i think he was as good as it can get.

The film was shot in Iraq entirely which was very dangerous decision, even in 2009 where the situation are somewhat ok, it's very hard to film through Iraqi streets and Iraqi crowds, Hollywood movies don't take that risk, instead they film in Jordan or Morocco and alter the production design to make it believable with different degrees of success, but an Iraqi movie have to be from Iraq, and that was absolutely valid to show cultural differences, language differences, real people, and the cinematography did a fantastic job at showing historical landmarks from Iraq and showing the effects of destruction on Iraqi streets, they even recreated events from 2003 to show you how Iraq looked after and during the war, and it stills boggle my mind on how they did it.

Overall, it was pure, hard reality, a glimpse of crimes done by Saddam Hussein, a showcase of the results of a 30 years dictatorship, a story within a brutal reality, a movie that shines the light on a country that had so many genocides from inside and outside, some of them haven't even recorded or discovered yet, and this movie is defiantly not for a weak heart, as it focus on three generations destroyed by reality, and enormous effort from Mohamed Al Daradji and Human Films for this massive production.

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Funny, Awkward, Vile and Offensive.

Posted : 7 years, 11 months ago on 24 September 2014 11:14 (A review of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan)

Borat is the first "Mockumentary" I've seen, i wasn't familiar with the genre, in fact, i think nobody did, my first viewing was maybe in 2009 and this is my second viewing, i'm also not familiar with Sacha Baron, I've seen few interviews by Ali G on YouTube, and i thought it was hilarious, in HUGO he wasn't the same as in Borat, but this is definitely a weird viewing experience, because it was funny, awkward, offensive and vile, all at the same time.

The idea is very original, as it obvious from the title, Borat travels to the United states to learn their culture so maybe he can pass that to his country Kazakhstan, and in the way, he film actual reactions by actual people, although few scenes where not real, like the Pamela Anderson scene, but in general, the scenes where real, which makes it very different from the comedies we watch usually, but that was the point.

Sacha Baron plays the character very well, the look and the thick English accent convinced people that he was real which was the most important part, because with a camera pointed at people, the possibility of this being a prank was high, but his performance convinced them otherwise, in most cases, the movie was really funny, some scenes were really awkward, like the fact that he kissed every guy he met, that feminist meeting was very awkward, but that was the point, to laugh in a awkward matter, some scenes were vile and disgusting, like that nude fight, or at the end of the "sophisticated dinner" scene before they call the police on him and kick him out, but the movie achieved every scene successfully, everything was on the spot.

I do think that the movie was to be comedy and was also to expose, because with that real reactions, so much can be learned here, it showed Americans as being respective to cultures, and they were trying to help him as they can, it showed friendly people, although a lot of men were offended by Borat kissing them, but most of them took it friendly, it showed sexism, those three drunk guys in the van, although, i don't like to judge them because they were drunk and almost wasted, and they only represent themselves, but i do think that national anthem scene was offensive, not singing the national anthem, but that interview done before it, a cowboy guy telling Borat that he should shave his mustache because "he look like a Muslim", and he have seen so many Muslim carrying Bombs, it shows so much ignorance, but let also not judge that person because he was one guy only, what was more offensive, was the crowed cheering for Borat line, "May George Bush drink the blood of every man, woman, and child in Iraq!", that was absolutely disgusting and terrifying to see something like that, but i don't blame the movie for showing that scene, it's a golden footage, exposing what people really thinks, they may not be all people in that town, but there were a lot of people.

Overall, i think it was funny, sometimes more awkward than funny, vile and offensive, however i strongly disagree with the way the movie handle it's participants off-screen, those "Kazakhstan village people", were actually Romanians who have no idea what was going on and were paid dimes for it, that driving instructor had no idea what he was in for, even though telling him won't change his reaction, i do think that all those people should have been informed about it after filming, not lying to them and keeping them completely in the dark, because if they were paid and informed after recording the scenes, none of them would file a lawsuit against this movie, and i do think that it was offensive to Kazakhstan, so after all, it was like telling an offensive joke just to make people laugh, and it did succeed in both.

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