Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who's to blame?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39419543/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts

Take a look at these two kids on the right, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei:



They look like nice people, don't they? But they turn out to be sick, soulless creeps. How did they turn out this way? Are they exceptional among today's youth? Food for thought...

What causes people to behave this way? Is it a sign of the times? The natural fallout from today's obsession over social networking, social sharing, reality television, mobile devices?

Does the fault lie with these kids, or with today's society in general?

And what should be done with these kids? I say, lock 'em up and throw away the keys. Send a clear message to all young people: The use of the Internet must be balanced with social decorum and human decency. Beyond that, we must all respect privacy and human dignity...

Concepts that are apparently alien to today's youth.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Movie Review: Devil

Up until opening day, there were absolutely no reviews for the M. Night Shyamalan-produced, John Erick Dowdle-directed Devil -- I was apprehensive. Typically, this is a bad omen -- the producers are afraid that early word from critics may hurt the opening box office. But they needn't have worried: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.

Devil is a psychological thriller, as well as a simple story of redemption. It's about five people that are trapped in an elevator. And one of them is the Devil. He's there to harvest souls.

Despite the fact that we know the Devil is there from beginning to end, the thriller aspect still works, as we find the trapped passengers getting killed one by one. The police and firefighters work furiously in a race to get into the elevator before the Devil completes his task.

Even though the film is only 1:20 long, the shortest I've seen in a very long time, it feels very full and satisfying. This is a testament to the skill of the director.

Recommended.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Movie Review: Machete

You gotta love Robert Rodriguez! He makes such over-the-top action gore fests (as does Quentin Tarantino).

Machete is another fine example of his craft. Hands and heads lopped off. Bullets in the face. Blood spatter everywhere. And Rodriguez does it with a certain tongue-in-cheek bravado and campy humour. For example, in one scene, Machete uses a hospital surgical tool (used for stripping flesh off bone) to gut a man and stretch his intestines out the full length to be used as a rope as Machete jumps out a window. Everybody in the audience laughed, including myself.

In another scene, a house is blown up and a man falls down on top of Jessica Alba's car hood, charred and smoking with a meat thermometer stuck in him. The mercury in the thermometer instantly rises to the top. Very amusing.

In fact, this is one of the funniest movies I've seen all year! Comic relief is necessary when you are immersed in so much blood and gore and violence. Speaking of which, one of the least funny scenes is when a priest (Cheech Marin) is literally crucified in a church. When those nails were driven into his wrists, I felt rather squeamish (quite unusual for me).

In the final action sequence, Machete brings with him the mother of all machetes -- it is HUGE. Really quite funny.

Machete is made as an homage to the "B-movies" of yesteryear. There is no pretense at a good story; indeed, the story is ludicrous. Acting is laughable -- Robert de Niro is a campy caricature of a corrupt Texas senator, Don Johnson is silly as the commander of a vigilante army, Steven Seagal is less than convincing as a Mexican drug kingpin.

Rodriguez includes some of his favourite actors in the cast: Danny Trejo in the lead role of Machete, and Cheech Marin as a priest and Machete's brother.

One of the unexpected side benefits of watching this movie is seeing Lindsay Lohan's tits. Hey, how often do you get the opportunity to gawk at a PR disaster's hooters?

I also like Michelle Rodriguez (no relation to the director). In the final action sequence, she is extremely sexy dressed up in leather and wearing an eye patch (earlier, Don Johnson had shot her in the eye).

This Labour Day Weekend, I really wanted to catch The American and Machete. I was simply in the mood for blood -- call it blood lust. And I was suitably sated. Thumbs Up.

Movie Review: The American

The American is an exquisite gem of a film. There, I said it. A great number of reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes will disagree with me.

These reviewers say that the movie is too slow, too ponderous. I normally don't like films that are too slow either, but in this movie it works, thanks to the beautiful photography and elegant direction. The slow pacing allows the audience to soak in the atmosphere of the charming Italian countryside and to dwell in the mind of the main character, Jack (George Clooney), an assassin in hiding. I actually shared his feelings as he walked down the cobblestone streets, sat in the café sipping coffee, and driving on the winding roads in the mountains.

When Jack discovers that he is targetted for termination by the Swedes, he hides out in a small Italian village. While he's there, he does one last job for his employer: provide a customized rifle for a beautiful assassin named Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). The normally reserved and very private Jack strikes up a friendship with a local priest, and a torrid affair with a young prostitute.

However, trouble follows him to this town in the mountains of Abruzzo...

George Clooney gives another great performance. I re-watched Up in the Air a few nights ago on television and it reminded me of what a fabulous actor Clooney is. The American cements my opinion that George Clooney is absolutely one of the finest American actors of our time.

The feel of the film also reminded me of In Bruges, a story about two hitmen hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, after a job goes very awry. It was also rather atmospheric, giving the audience a good taste of the historic city of Bruges. Coincidentally, Thekla Reuten (the beautiful assassin) also starred in In Bruges.

I also have to put in a good word for Violante Placido, the prostitute Clara. She is very convincing and enticing. If I were Jack, I'd want to run away with her, too! (Please? Pretty please?)

Highly recommended. Definitely on my Top Ten list of the year.