Rosetta (1999)

Rosetta Movie Review

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Rosetta Movie Review

Rosetta is a 1999 Belgian drama film directed by the Dardenne brothers. It is a quite good yet deeply flawed movie.

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Your name is Rosetta. My name is Rosetta. You found a job. I found a job.

You’ve got a friend. I’ve got a friend. You have a normal life. I have a normal life.

You won’t fall in a rut. I won’t fall in a rut. Good night. Good night

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Rosetta Movie Review

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As is usual for European movies, this is a very hard-hitting, serious drama and it is one of the worst of its type as its story is just so terrible. You have an adolescent girl who is basically homeless with a prostitute alcoholic mother and she moves from job to job in order to survive. The movie is very primal in its approach as the protagonist displays almost animalistic behavior as she would do anything to survive.

That was great and very unusual to see in a film. The film is thus tragic and should be seen by everyone so that we all realize how really happy and entitled we are. But Rosetta also never really became as truly tragic as it needed to have been as its protagonist is just so unrelatable and such a bad human being.

Yes, Rosetta herself lost me entirely with some of her actions. Ratting on her friend was not cool, but what was even worse is that she almost left him to drown in the river. I do not get why someone would do a thing like that and the movie truly lost me with that very unfortunate choice. I cannot possibly root for a main character like that, now can I?

Another thing that annoyed me is its camera work. It employs that annoying shaky cam in order to tell a story and I know that it thus differentiates itself from the other dramas of that time especially and it was somewhat suitable, but I still thoroughly dislike that approach and I disliked it here as well.

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Rosetta Movie Review

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Rosetta is well acted for sure and Emilie Dequenne did a really good job in such an unfortunate role to play. I liked the movie’s approach with less dialogue and more details and it felt sometimes that we truly were following her quest for survival. The dance scene was also quite nice. It is such a shame how the movie treated Riquet as he was such a nice guy.

Rosetta is an engaging and hard-hitting but deeply flawed drama. It is well directed and acted, it is important to see and the almost animalistic behavior of its protagonist was interesting to see. But the film lost me with Rosetta herself who is such a downright terrible human being and had she been more likable, the movie would have been much more tragic.

My Rating – 3.5

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Chariots of Fire (1981)

Chariots of Fire Movie Review

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Chariots of Fire Movie Review

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 sports drama film and Best Picture winner for the year.

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If I can’t win, I won’t run

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Chariots of Fire Movie Review

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This film is incredibly mediocre, I have to be honest. And boring as it can be. This is why the Oscars are a big joke. This film actually won Best Picture. That is ridiculous. In an incredibly weak year for movies and 1981 is definitely one of the weakest, Chariots of Fire is one of the most forgettable as well.

The story is simplistic, clichéd and everything you would expect from an Oscar bait. It consists of boring dialogues and even more tedious running. I literally wanted to fall asleep because it was dreadfully dull from start to finish.

The characters don’t help. They are so one dimensional and so thin and flat that you do not care for any one of them. The same can be said for acting which is nothing to write home about.

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Chariots of Fire Movie Review

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As for the technical side, it is the only saving grace here. The direction, the cinematography are all okay, but the score is of course iconic with a theme that is not only catchy and easily recognizable, but also one of the most memorable and finest scores ever in a film. I wish a better and worthy film would have gotten this treatment with this superb soundtrack.

With boring and flat characters, uninspired and weak story, awfully boring and dreadfully dull tone and overall bad approach, Chariots of Fire is a joke of a Best Picture winner and one of the worst ever to win the ‘coveted’ award. It is solidly made and the score is absolutely terrific with an extraordinary theme, but everything else in this movie falls apart, it is tedious to watch and it is one of the most overrated films of the eighties that proves how incredibly weak dramas were in this decade.

My Rating – 2.5

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Anna Christie (1930)

Anna Christie Movie Review

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Anna Christie Movie Review

Anna Christie is a 1930 Pre-Code drama film directed by Clarence Brown and starring Greta Garbo and Marie Dressler. It is a flawed, but good movie.

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Give me a whisky, ginger ale on the side.

And don’t be stingy, baby

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Anna Christie Movie Review

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Greta Garbo – an actress who continues to have different effects on me. Sometimes I love her and sometimes I find her performances over-the-top. This is unfortunately the latter case. As her first talkie, the film was definitely very popular mostly because audiences wanted to hear her speak for the first time. And her transition was rough. She is lovely as usual and very memorable here, but more often than not, her delivery was overly theatrical and suited more for silent movies.

Marie Dressler, on the other hand, is a total revelation for me. This is the first time I’m seeing her in a movie and I fell in love with her immediately. She steals every scene she is in and is much better than both Garbo and George F. Marion who also delivered a middling performance. Her performance is very down to earth and realistic and she gave life to such a funny character whom I really liked.

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Anna Christie Movie Review

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She is an interesting character as she is a former prostitute and now a drunk. It is obviously a Pre-Code movie as it shows deglamorized, ruined people which was refreshing to see. Her banter with Chris is absolutely fantastic and so funny whereas her relationship with Anna is sweet and I wanted more scenes from her.

But Anna is also a memorable protagonist and I really liked her building relationship with her father. Charles Bickford is okay in the role, but I could have gone with no Matt Burke here as the addition of a love interest was just not all that necessary as we already had a pretty strong, rich drama just with these three people.

Anna Christie is very weakly directed by Clarence Brown and the film looks static for the majority of its running time. But I do not fault the director and the cinematographer all too much because this was typical for the early year of sound films. A much bigger problem is the second half which just wasn’t as investing as the first half was albeit it does have a great scene where Anna confesses about her troubled past. She is a strong female character for sure.

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Anna Christie Movie Review

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The dialogue is very good and it is probably the highlight of the entire film. Its first act with just the prolonged conversations between its characters was mesmerizing and the highlights are those scenes as well as Garbo’s arrival which was quite unforgettable.

Marie Dressler is a revelation in Anna Christie as she is so funny and she steals every scene she’s in whereas Greta Garbo is memorable, but her transition from silent movies to talkies was frankly a bit rough as her performance here is too theatrical. The movie itself is much less interesting in its second half, but much funnier and more memorable in the first half. It has its moving scenes and very well developed characters but a static approach leading to a good, but flawed film.

My Rating – 4

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Out of Africa (1985)

Out of Africa Movie Review

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Out of Africa Movie Review

Out of Africa is a 1985 Oscar-winning period drama film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the lead roles.

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Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round

so that we would not see too far down the road

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Out of Africa Movie Review

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This movie is again all the same as with ‘Chariots of Fire’, an overhyped and awarded film when it actually didn’t deserve any of the awards. The story is so typical, standard and without any lack of charm, passion or energy in its awful execution and direction. Everything moves at awfully slow pace with weak editing and it is never ever interesting or engaging to watch.

The characters are so-so and the acting is fine, but both of the actors have given much better performances. They never do anything spectacular here that would earn them nominations. Plus Streep is incredibly annoying with her fake and overly theatrical Danish accent. And unfortunately the movie did not know to make use of its setting as well. There are some interesting sequences with the lions, but unfortunately they never used Africa as much as they should have.

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Out of Africa Movie Review

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The movie has good technical aspects, there is no doubt about that. The cinematography is absolutely splendid as is the costume design and of course the beautiful scenery. Also the score is quite remarkable with a very beautiful music throughout the whole film that evokes natural imagery in the head. Unfortunately, all the technicalities are spent on this mediocre story and boring characters when in reality it did not deserve this treatment which again draws comparisons to ‘Chariots of Fire’. I have to compare the two constantly because I cannot emphasize enough how the Academy screwed this entire decade. And yes, the dramas were incredibly weak in the eighties but there are still those that deserved it a lot more than such films like these two. It is a shame that they chose them as winners and I think that they have definitely been regretting those decisions ever since.

Out of Africa has magnificent cinematography, beautiful music and great scenery, but it is in the end a very mediocre film thanks to a boring story, tedious characters, annoying Streep’s accent and a lack of any energy and charm in its execution and direction. Consequently, it did not deserve Best Picture, it did not deserve any of its nominations besides the technical ones and it nowadays has the critics ratings it deserved to have at the very first place because it really is a mediocre film.

My Rating – 2.5

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Earth (1930)

Earth Movie Review

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Earth Movie Review

Earth is a Russian film directed by Alexander Dovzhenko about the process of collectivization.

The plot and theme of the film is interesting but it is unfortunately very poorly executed mostly because it is rather contrived both in its beginning and its ending. It just starts and it just ends. Its running time is incredibly short and it should have been longer but it doesn’t matter because this short movie also managed to be incredibly tedious and not engaging or thought-provoking at all which given its great subject matter is such a shame.

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Earth Movie Review

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The characters are the biggest problem for Earth. They are all underdeveloped and emotionally distant never letting you connect to them or know them on any level. Also the movie has technical aspects which are pretty standard and even mediocre at times. The score is solid as is the acting and the cinematography is really good, but the editing is not remarkable and the directing should have been better. There is some striking imagery here but it is lost in the film’s cold and very weak approach which never lets you connect, it never uses its plot in any meaningful way and it never quite explains what is going on at any moment leaving you to try to figure out for yourself.

This is one of the most overrated and weakest Soviet films of the period, a movie so frustratingly problematic and flawed that it really started to get on my nerves. It has some striking and powerful moments similar to ‘Battleship Potemkin’ but unlike that masterpiece, it never achieves that status because as a whole it is quite poor and failing to reach its potential.

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Earth Movie Review

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With problematic editing, troublesome directing, awfully short running time, tedious and unrealized story, Earth is one of the most overrated as well as the most frustrating Soviet films. It has a solid score, great cinematography and fine acting, but everything else is underused, it fails to make use of its promising subject matter and it is overall an incredibly flawed and boring movie which fails miserably when compared to other Classic Soviet films of the era.

My Rating – 3

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Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

Only Yesterday is a 1991 anime drama film directed by Isao Takahata which is Studio Ghibli’s fifth movie. It is one of their most underrated and very best.

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There is always a tomorrow

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The story is so strong. I am not usually a fan of this framing device where we jump from present to past, but this use of flashbacks is so strong that it complements the movie instead of hurting it. Critics have pointed out the strong adult approach that is present in Only Yesterday and that is definitely the case here. It is intended for women, but could be enjoyed by men as well. But it is mostly for adults as its story is very mature and deep.

We follow a 27-year-old woman as she journeys to the countryside and meanwhile reminisces about her 10-year-old self. This is not just your regular reminiscing, but it is important as she thus grows more as an adult and realizes her past and present mistakes. She is somewhat lost as an adult and she wants to fix that.

What I loved about it the most is its portrayal of childhood. Now there are a lot of movies about this subject matter, but this is easily one of the best of its type because it shows so truthfully how everything seemed better and more magical during childhood, but it also shows us that some of the problems and traumas faced during childhood are never really forgotten and they shape you as a human being. Incredibly powerful stuff.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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And I loved her romance with Toshio, so well done. I rooted for them to end up together and it is implied that they did which was wonderful. Their conversations were just so wonderful and realistic that they were easily the highlights here in terms of the dialogue. Toshio is a great character and Taeka just might be my favorite Ghibli heroine or at least in the top two or three. She is beautifully developed and always grounded in reality as she is never portrayed as too good, especially as a child and I appreciated that.

Other characters aren’t as memorable but they definitely help shape her experiences as an adult and as a child. Toshio’s family does have some great moments with her as they pressure her into dating Toshio which was such a realistically depicted scene. Taeka’s mother is also superbly realized, caring, yet also careless at times towards her. The same goes for her sister. And of course I liked all of her classmates and especially her love interest.

The scene where the two share their first conversation is just beautiful to witness. It wonderfully showcases the power and innocence of childhood love. All of the scenes between Taeka and Toshio were of course the other highlights. I loved the scenes with hitting puberty and the period talk is something you rarely see in animation and is greatly portrayed here. And her math problem led to such a great and relatable scene to me personally.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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But there is no denying the power of the last sequence. I just adored that ending and it is in fact one of my favorite Studio Ghibli scenes ever. There you see the need for the animated medium as this is a drama and not a fantasy but there it employs its flashback approach by bringing the kids on the screen together with her and facing her with her former self. That moment was just poetic and deep that I felt it emotionally. The fact that probably my favorite song ever The Rose was playing during the scene only heightened the emotion for me. It is the truly touching pinnacle of this entire mature and relatable drama.

Only Yesterday is beautifully animated. Now it isn’t on the level of some previous Ghibli classics such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is still incredibly strong. The film portrays its characters realistically as they are not overly pretty and perfect. The imagery is gorgeous and the attention to detail is once again overwhelming.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The film showcases the importance of country life and especially farm producing and I just loved that. This studio has always been the proponent of living in the country, but this movie takes that to the next level as it also shows us the importance of working and how producing plants can be beneficial to not just your health but also emotionally as you help grow a living thing. The relationship between humans and nature is so well emphasized here and it shows us how the two can co-exist peacefully and productively.

The score is again terrific and not just in the ending, but also in its use of Hungarian and Romanian folk music as that somehow transcends and perfectly fits the country scenes. It is so well edited and directed and a further proof why I love Isao Takahata so much as he truly directs his movies stupendously and his Ghibli films are my favorites.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday isn’t perfect as I thought that some scenes weren’t as compelling as the rest and the film needed more humor in my opinion as it was overly serious, but it truly is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest outings and definitely near the top of the list for me. It is an underrated film that should be appreciated by more people and now that it finally came out in the USA, I am glad to see that start to happen. Also, it is easily one of the best that the very weak year of 1991 has to offer.

Only Yesterday is one of the very best that Studio Ghibli has to offer thanks to again gorgeous animation, a truly phenomenal score, excellent character development and a rich story. Its framing device is put to some great use, the film flows so well, it is beautifully directed by always great Isao Takahata and it is so emotional, relatable and ultimately deep in its very mature story. The highlight is the ending which deeply touched me with its song choice, imagery and strong emotion.

My Rating – 4.5

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Greed (1924)

Greed Movie Review

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Greed Movie Review

Greed is a 1924 silent drama film directed by Erich von Stroheim. It is a famous movie that is quite commendable, yet never as great as it could have been.

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We can’t afford such extravagance.

Thirty-five dollars… and the water extra!

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Greed Movie Review

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Now the reason why it isn’t great lies in its approach. I do get that greed is terrible and it is a problem that plagues today’s society just as much as it did that of 1924, but the way it was approached wasn’t the greatest and was typically excessive and overly melodramatic for its time.

I am talking about too long stares, some very implausible scenarios (the hand infection) as well as an over-the-top and too aggressive and nowhere near as subtle take on the subject matter. That was a problem here, but again the film is so epic, so moving at times and ultimately powerful that it managed to overcome that problem.

Greed is Erich von Stroheim’s magnum opus in terms of directing as his direction here is absolutely amazing and one of the best of the silent era. It is a shame that we cannot see the full version, but watching the restored four-hour version was a pleasant experience as they lovingly recreated the lost footage in a way.

The characters are memorable and so well developed and the acting is very strong and actually quite subtle at times, especially for its period. To me the final part was a spectacle, both visually and in terms of the action, but I also loved the romantic vignettes and those more sentimental scenes were some of my favorites as you could definitely feel the plight of its characters.

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Greed Movie Review

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The dialogue in the intertitles is so strong as are the descriptions and the narration. The film is a visual masterpiece not only in its strong camera movements, but also in scenery and you do get some stupendous imagery, especially in the desert in the final scenes. The film is thematically so well connected and overall stupendously well made that it is a shame that it wasn’t all that subtle as it would have been a masterpiece that way. And of course we cannot judge this movie fully without all of its footage, but as it stands, it is a very good, admirable silent movie that was pretty groundbreaking for its time in more than one way.

Greed should have been more subtle in its approach, but its ambition and especially its scope are unprecedented. The film is visually arresting with such a spectacle of the last act, it features very good characterization and excellent acting, but it is its strong emotion and Erich von Stroheim’s confident direction that take it to the next level.

My Rating – 4

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Mommy (2014)

Mommy Movie Review

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Mommy Movie Review

Directed by Xavier Dolan, Mommy is a 2014 Canadian drama film about a widowed mother raising her extremely problematic son.

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Loving people doesn’t save them

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Mommy Movie Review

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This is the movie which I was very excited about and heard great things, but it let me down unfortunately. The story is where I had the biggest problem. It is very repetitive and the concept is that for a short movie or maybe an hour and a half at best, but they stretched it for more than two hours which is troublesome and quickly wears its welcome. I was also very annoyed with its constant redneck cursing, yelling and overall awful behavior of its characters. And the kiss between them near the end is extremely sick and very unpleasant and totally unnecessary sensational stuff. Plus I never found the mother’s behavior realistic for a second because she had no reason to put up with his behavior for so long. It definitely felt unrealistic.

As for the characters, they are very well developed. You feel like you’ve met them, but that is not necessarily a good thing here as both of them are extremely unpleasant and annoying people that you never wish to see again. But the acting is absolutely amazing and it is probably Mommy’s biggest asset with both actors giving an extraordinary performance in very demanding roles.

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Mommy Movie Review

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The directing from Dolan is very good as is the cinematography with a lot of cool choices. However, the small aspect ratio is awful, I have to be honest. I can understand that it is original, but it is never artistic and it is just frustrating to watch for such a long time such a short screen. Very unappealing. And the editing is of course weak because the movie never needed this long running time leading to a lot of repetitive sequences.

With well developed but annoying and despicable characters, awful and frustrating aspect ratio, extremely bloated running time and bad approach with too much cursing, yelling and some sick scenes, Mommy is a huge disappointment and although it is very well directed and acted with fantastic performances, it is also a bit unbelievable at times, annoying for the most of its long running time and above all a very unpleasant watch.

My Rating – 2.5

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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014)

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Movie Review

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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Movie Review

Directed by David Zellner, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a 2014 American drama film about the urban legend following the death of Kanako Higashi.

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Solitude? It’s just fancy loneliness

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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Movie Review

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This was an incredibly frustrating movie as it has its fair strengths but again is riddled with awful weaknesses. For example, the premise is excellent with a girl going on a trip to Fargo to find treasure. But the story in the film never makes use of that premise with too dull pacing and only interesting beginning and ending with the second half being incredibly boring and slow.

But the protagonist is extremely annoying and the actress portraying her is unfortunately stuck with this hugely unsympathetic and flat character. She is just flat, lifeless and tedious and that never is a good sign when your main character is like that while also being the center of the movie. It just brings the whole movie down.

But technically this is a stunningly beautiful movie. It is weakly edited but fairly well directed. And the cinematography is terrific with absolutely gorgeous scenery with the third act in the wilderness of course being the highlight. The movie is very well filmed and it is such a shame that the script and character development are such failures as otherwise it could have been a thrilling picture.

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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter Movie Review

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Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is beautifully filmed with terrific cinematography and gorgeous scenery and it is fairly well directed, but the script is weak never making use of its interesting premise and the protagonist is awfully flat, unlikable and just plain boring. It could have been a great film had it been as amazing as its ending, but it unfortunately isn’t and it’s just passable because it is so lifeless, tedious, extremely slow and uninspired. It is such a shame because it had a lot of untapped potential.

My Rating – 3

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Timbuktu (2014)

Timbuktu Movie Review

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Timbuktu Movie Review

Timbuktu is a French-Mauritanian film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and released in 2014. It is about the city of Timbuktu which is under the terror and occupation of ISIL. The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

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I’m Abdelkarim’s driver. I have a message from him:

“He can’t do anything to help. It’s over

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Timbuktu Movie Review

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This is the worst movie nominated for 2014 Foreign category at the Academy Awards. It is not bad, but it is not good also mainly because it is another one of those politics movies which only the people interested in politics and this particular subject matter will find interesting. Others like me find it boring and very uninspired from start to finish. Yes, it is very relevant and also hugely important for all the goings-on right now in that region, but the movie fails to bring that necessity and power to the story which means that the execution is poor.

The acting is quite good with each and every performance being quite solid and serving the purpose. But the characters are not well developed and the script is so-so. It is well filmed and made, but the directing should have been way better as well as the editing which is weak. It is technically solid, but again, nothing too remarkable. And the running time is too short, but again, it is dull even though the movie is that short which is really saying a lot.

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Timbuktu Movie Reviw

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Timbuktu way be well filmed, well made and it is important and very relevant, but it fails to bring the power and importance from the script to life with uninspired direction, very poor characters and above all slow and boring approach. It is naturally important and politics fans will most definitely find it appealing, but for others, this is a weak, so-so movie that did not deserve any of its nominations for sure and it is the weakest nominee for Best Foreign Film without a doubt.

My Rating – 2.5

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