Lepa sela lepo gore (1996)

Lepa sela lepo gore Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Lepa sela lepo gore Movie Review

Lepa sela lepo gore (Pretty Village, Pretty Flame) is a 1996 Serbian war film directed by Srdjan Dragojevic and starring Dragan Bjelogrlic and Nikola Kojo among others. It is a Serbian classic.

………………………………………………….

Pretty villages burn pretty and

ugly villages remain ugly even when they burn

………………………………………………….

Lepa sela lepo gore Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The film is set during the Bosnian War and it tells of the story of a group of Serb soldiers trapped in a tunnel by a Bosnian force. But it also employs a flashback structure to it as it showcases the past of these soldiers, especially focusing on the friendship between Milan and Halil. Now these flashbacks sometimes were too convenient and rushed (the schoolteacher flashback should have arrived much sooner), but they were mostly really well incorporated into a coherent whole.

The script is excellent here, really well crafted. The film has a strong anti-war statement and it doesn’t take sides which is very commendable. It is moving in emotion, epic in execution and it tells its story so well and is incredibly involving throughout its whole runtime. The ending is good but not my favorite and I liked the flashbacks quite a bit and some were great, but the standout is definitely the tunnel storyline and thankfully it took the majority of running time. The highlights were their humorous conversations as well as that scene with the woman which felt really suspenseful and was stupendously well shot and executed.

Let’s talk about the characters. I have to say that the character development is terrific here, stupendously so as I felt as if I met these people. They felt so real owing to their realistic portrayal and superb performances from a very talented cast. I admit that I wasn’t a fan of Milan and Halil as they were incredibly underutilized as adults and I preferred their flashbacks as children much more. But others are mostly much more memorable.

………………………………………………….

Lepa sela lepo gore Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Velja is one of the highlights. Overly crass, but highly realistic and he had some fantastic scenes. Brzi and Profesor are somewhat less memorable, but Marko has his moments and Viljuska has some highly amusing lines of dialogue and is entertaining as this over-the-top but highly likable character. Gvozden as this huge Tito fanatic is also very well developed and he definitely left a big impression.

The acting is phenomenal in this film. It is the kind of strong, subtle and realistic acting that I favor over the more theatrical and unrealistic acting that unfortunately plagues Serbian cinema and TV these days. Milorad Mandic is funny and great, Bata Zivojinovic is reliably competent and Nikola Kojo is the standout here as his performance is so great and subtle and real plus he carried a lot of the movie taking the significant amount of screentime. Everyone did a great job here honestly and they brought a lot to these characters becoming so realistic and like everyday Serbs.

The dialogue in Lepa sela lepo gore is also fantastic and again so naturalistic in its quality. The humor is phenomenal as the film is surprisingly funny and sometimes even hilarious with its very dark, but highly amusing black humor. Most of the scenes with that American female reporter were hilarious and the piss scene was an example of black humor done so well.

………………………………………………….

Lepa sela lepo gore Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I am generally not a fan of war movies, but this one honestly surprised me how strong it is and it surely is a modern classic from this region. The direction from Srdjan Dragojevic is highly competent and fantastic, the editing and pacing are both superb and the film is also very well shot and also scored. It succeeds as a strong war drama across the board.

With highly realistic and such well developed characters, superb dialogue, fantastic black humor with many funny lines, competent direction from Srdjan Dragojevic and naturalistic, superb performances from its great cast with Nikola Kojo, Milorad Mandic and Bata Zivojinovic being the highlights, Lepa sela lepo gore (Pretty Village, Pretty Flame) is a strong war drama across the board. It is so well shot, moving in its emotion and epic in scope that it easily ranks as one of the greatest classics of Serbian cinema.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

Princess Mononoke is a 1997 historical fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s weakest offerings.

………………………………………………….

You cannot change fate. However, you can rise to meet it, if you so choose

………………………………………………….

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I never really cared for this movie and now upon second viewing, I can confirm that it truly is the most overrated Studio Ghibli film ever and also one of their weakest. That puts me in the vast minority, but I have to be honest and say that this is one of a handful of highly respected animated films which I deem very overrated.

That does not mean that Princess Mononoke is a bad movie. It is a solid film which has its strengths. Technically, the film is very strong and more on that later. In terms of story, it is ambitious and its attention to detail is remarkable. It has a strong environmental message and its characters are not painted black-and-white but are rather complex and realistic.

However, I still disliked those characters personally. That is because I could just never connect with any of them. Neither of them was remotely relatable or likable to me and that was a huge hurdle for the movie which never managed to overcome it. And it has too many characters and most are highly forgettable.

………………………………………………….

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Ashitaka himself is very boring. I do not know why Miyazaki stated that he is an atypical protagonist when he couldn’t be more standard as heroes go. He’s bland and uninteresting. San is underdeveloped as is their relationship. Lady Eboshi is the only very good character in the movie as her motifs, her background and her goals are well realized and she is a complex person in the grey area of morality. But even she was not great.

As I said above, the only truly excellent thing in Princess Mononoke is its animation which is expected from such an art-driven studio. I really enjoyed the forests here and the animals are so realistically designed. The film features very polished, but still old-fashioned type of hand-drawn cell animation. The mix of traditional animation and the computer animation (present in demon flesh) is really well executed.

The film is very well animated, but even its animation is nowhere near the quality of Ghibli’s best films such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ for instance. The film succeeds as a historical piece as it has a great eye for detail and it recreated this period in Japan’s history so well.

………………………………………………….

Princess Mononoke Movie Review

………………………………………………….

But even though the dialogue is strong and the script is quite good, the execution is far from great. The film is just overlong, clocking in at over two hours. I was honestly bored. It is ambitious and epic for the sake of being ambitious and epic. I am not a fan of epic fantasy and thus this did not suit my tastes.

The film also features overwhelming action. Certainly some of it was great and so well executed with the fight between San and Lady Eboshi being the highlight, but still the film favored action and spectacle over substance. The gore is also overwhelming and not really needed so every bloody scene felt like a big distraction for me. All in all, even the environmental message is done better and more subtly in some of the studio’s previous classics so this surely is one of their weakest offerings.

Princess Mononoke is one of the most overrated animated films. Certainly the animation is excellent and frequently even stunning, the script is good and the characters are realistic and quite complex, but none of them was remotely likable or relatable to me and the film bored me with its prolonged runtime, excessive gore and overwhelming action and spectacle. And even its environmental message is done better in some of the studio’s previous classic films. It truly is Studio Ghibli’s most overrated film and one of their weakest offerings.

My Rating – 3

Share

The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)

The Scent of Green Papaya Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Scent of Green Papaya Movie Review

The Scent of Green Papaya is a 1993 Vietnamese drama film directed by Tran Ahn Hung and starring Tran Nu Yen-Khe. It is a very moody film.

………………………………………………….

You need a bit of fat to make the vegetables shiny

………………………………………………….

The Scent of Green Papaya Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is the movie that proved me one thing – sometimes your mood can really impact a viewing experience. Maybe any other day, I would have disliked this, but I saw it at just the right time, when I was in the mood for something slower and more artistic and thus it ended up being a very enjoyable experience to me.

There is little plot here which was done for better and for worse. Certainly that led to such a sensual, wonderfully atmospheric and moody film, but the one which still felt too simplistic and it should have been deeper. Of the plot there is, I have to say that I preferred the first two acts to the third one because whereas the film was previously one thing (sensual and slow), in the third act it became a whole other thing with her blossoming into a beautiful young woman and starting a relationship with her master. It was a fine development, but not the best possible one for this story I felt.

………………………………………………….

The Scent of Green Papaya Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I really liked Mui. She wasn’t as interesting as an adult, but as a kid she was wonderful and the film made such a wise decision to make her a gateway to this word/house and I loved seeing it through her eyes. All of the other characters are not as memorable and that terrible kid never got punished which frustrated me, but Mui remains the heart and soul of this entire film.

The Scent of Green Papaya is an incredible visual experience. Everything here is gorgeous to look at and yes, the fact that it was filmed entirely on sets is unbelievable to me as this house looks so real and authentic. Tran Ahn Hung is the one responsible for this movie’s high quality as his direction is top-notch and his vision was authentic and admirable.

The film has such an immense, almost overwhelming attention to detail that it really needs to be watched closely or otherwise you can miss some interesting details. Yes, it is slow moving, but it is still very absorbing and powerful somehow. It sucked me in and it held my interest completely which I did not expect. And its almost silent approach with minimalist dialogue worked wonders for its mood.

………………………………………………….

The Scent of Green Papaya Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So let’s talk about that house. It was wonderful to behold. I loved how the film is a period piece but despite those curfews, it did not include any history or politics in it which was a great, refreshing choice. The house was so well explored as we got to see so many of its corners and I loved the details in it, especially those vases with lizards sleeping in them. And seeing papayas and how they are cooked was very interesting and informative to me.

As an animal lover, this was beautiful to me. You have frogs here and I loved their scenes, but the insects play the biggest part in Mui’s childhood as she kept them as pets in such an incredible, small, really well designed cage that was the cutest thing I’ve seen recently. It is those cute and heartwarming details that make this movie such a rewarding experience and it is easy to see why it got so much acclaim at various festivals.

The Scent of Green Papaya is an almost plotless movie for better and for worse and I preferred the first two acts over the last one, but its almost silent approach with minimalist dialogue ultimately worked in its favor as the film is such a sensual, lovely experience that needs to be seen when in mood for slower, more artistic cinema. It also needs to be watched closely as its attention to detail is astonishing (the wonderful house, the vases with lizards, the frogs, the insect cage, the papayas) and that approach led to it being such an engrossing cinematic experience.

My Rating – 4

Share

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

Whisper of the Heart is a 1995 romantic drama anime film directed by Yoshifumi Kondo. It is one of the best films that Studio Ghibli has to offer and one of my personal favorites.

………………………………………………….

It’s not easy to live your own way. You can’t blame anyone but yourself

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Let’s first talk about the story. The movie is interesting for being one of the rare Ghibli films with no fantasy elements whatsoever. The Baron fantasy sequences were actually figments of imagination of the main character. They are fantastical, but not real. Still, those were wonderful and they complimented the storyline really well. They are a textbook example of how animation can sometimes suit the genre of drama much better than its live-action counterpart.

This is a wonderful movie which is exceedingly romantic and sweet. I just adored it and watching it was such a beautiful experience for me. The romance between the two is exceptional and it develops at the perfect pace. The entire story with how they meet and how they were reading the same books was just so romantic and wonderful that I ate it up.

But whereas Whisper of the Heart succeeds incredibly as a teen romance, it succeeds even more as a pure drama. And what drama this is! Honestly, this was the deepest and most thought-provoking film I’ve seen in quite a while. I saw this movie around five years ago, but I am more mature now, so I respect it much more upon second viewing.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I am currently at the most unpredictable and dangerous moment in my life. I am trying to find a job online, but it is moving at a slow progression and I am very anxious about finishing faculty so this movie was just perfect for me. I watched it at the most perfect time possible and thus I connected with its characters enormously.

It is a very smart, incredibly sophisticated story about two teenagers who chase their dreams but are yet not ready for a job. The line from Shizuko’s father about high school was pitch-perfect in its honesty and truthfulness – you can follow a different path than the default one given to you by your country and the entire world, but that path is going to be incredibly difficult and it is in the end not worth it. It is a sad, terrible truth that the movie made clear and with that I am struggling in my life right now.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

And another great line is how wanting to do something is not the same as preparing constantly and bettering yourself so that you can manage to get that job and secure your future. Life is difficult and getting a job and growing up is so hard and Whisper of the Heart gets that and is probably the most honest teen movie out of all of them as it teaches us those great messages in a very urgent manner.

Let’s finally talk about these characters, these great characters. Surely the parents are sweet and respectful and Yuko is a great friend to our main heroine, but honestly this movie is mostly just about Shizuko and Seiji and that was great. It’s a phenomenal chamber drama in a way. He is at first a bit too unlikable in a forced way, but he became much more likable and sweet later on and of course their relationship is very strong and heartwarming.

But Shizuko is amazing and I loved her. She is one of Ghibli’s finest heroines as she is so well developed and although a good girl, she isn’t overly kind and she seemed very realistic to me. Her troubles are so well established and her interactions with everyone were top-notch, but it is her love for books that was awesome to witness, her wild imagination was beautiful and her constant struggle with herself and her own dreams led to such a terrific character development and complex dilemmas.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart is gorgeously animated! The character animation and designs are nothing spectacular, but the landscapes are excellent and for once we got a Ghibli movie set in a city. That was refreshing to see and Tokyo is perfectly animated. I loved that final scene which was gorgeous and of course the antique toy shop is the visual highlight as it is superbly detailed and immensely charming. The movie is not fantastical, but it compensates that with an astonishing attention to detail to everyday objects and the city itself.

The movie is superbly voice cast and the acting was excellent. Yoko Honna was just marvelous in a great role. As I said before, the dialogue is phenomenal and the script itself is absolutely spectacular. It favors drama and emotion over spectacle and fun and that was very refreshing. It is in line with ‘Only Yesterday’ as these two are two realistic, contemporary dramas rarely seen in animation and both are some of my favorites from the studio, both honestly quite underrated.

I do realize that the final scene was a bit too sentimental and it surely was overly emotional, but I still liked it, especially for its gorgeous setting and animation. The score is fantastic and Take Me Home, Country Roads is one my favorite songs of all time and seeing how it was a perfect theme for the movie only further strengthened my love for it.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The fantastical sequences should have been shorter and sometimes the movie struggled with its pacing, but it was mostly top-notch in terms of both technical aspects and story/characters/emotion. I loved the shop and the cat, the grandpa was wonderful and my favorite scenes were the ones in the antique shop and the library. A very charming, atmospheric movie this is.

With superb character development and one of the studio’s finest heroines, wonderful animation fueled by a meticulous attention to detail, a perfect use of one of my favorite songs and a top-notch script, Whisper of the Heart truly is one of the best Ghibli movies and one of my personal favorites as I connected with it on so many levels. Thematically rich and incredibly smart and truthful in dialogue and its statements, the movie speaks to me on a personal level. Gorgeous in its romance and deep in its drama, you just can’t get a better animated teen drama than this one.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

Raise the Red Lantern Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Raise the Red Lantern Movie Review

Raise the Red Lantern is a 1991 Chinese period piece starring Gong Li and directed by Zhang Yimou. It is a pretty strong, accomplished picture.

………………………………………………….

Good or bad, it’s all playacting.

If you act well, you can fool other people;

if you do it badly, you can only fool yourself,

and when you can’t even fool yourself, you just can fool the ghosts

………………………………………………….

Raise the Red Lantern Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It is about a young woman who becomes one of the concubines to a wealthy “master” during the Warlord Era. This film is actually very clever and thought-provoking in its storyline and rich in themes. Some such as Roger Ebert may say that it is about sexual enslavement, but I disagree. The film is great as it thankfully stays away from any sexual approach and thus becomes much more than a mere movie that shows how awful Chinese women were treated around hundred years ago.

It is actually about a change in one’s nature as the protagonist is such a fantastic, complex character who changes throughout the movie’s runtime. At first, she is just the latest concubine, but eventually she incorporates herself into this whole lifestyle and routine and instead of fighting it, she fully embraces it. Instead of fighting the man, the master in this instance, she starts fighting the other concubines. The film cleverly shows how a system can ruin one’s nature and cement the terrible fate of the oppressed even faster.

………………………………………………….

Raise the Red Lantern Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So Raise the Red Lantern actually gives us the answer to why and how the oppressed never rise against the system by showing us how the system is so powerful that it can literally destroy your soul. The “master” is actually shown here a couple of times. I myself saw him once quite clearly. But most think that he is not shown in the movie which just goes to show how powerful the film is and how it was so well approached with making him portrayed just as this oppressive figure and never becoming a proper character in his own right.

I liked all of the concubines and how memorable they were. The movie is very flawed for at times verging into soap opera territory. I do realize that it was important to show the main character fighting with other concubines, but at times the movie was too focused on intrigue and affairs and that was the only major problem here. Otherwise, the movie is excellent.

Zhang Yimou’s direction is absolutely superb and his every choice was excellent here. Gong Li is particularly absorbing as the Fourth Concubine. She shines in this movie as she is not only incredibly beautiful which she was supposed to be, but she was wonderfully cast as she also can act as evidenced by a powerhouse, incredibly strong and layered performance.

………………………………………………….

Raise the Red Lantern Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Raise the Red Lantern sounds good, but it had too much annoying singing in it. The cinematography is naturally its selling point as it utilizes on the color of red stupendously. Those red lanterns looked amazing and the interior design here is simply splendid and quite breathtaking. The film really knows how to capture the period and especially the place. We never really left this palace and I did not mind as every  one of its corridors and especially the rooftops were gorgeously shot and so well incorporated into the imagery. Some of the shots reminded me of silent films with those long and artistic takes and that was a particularly potent filmmaking choice.

Raise the Red Lantern did at times verge into becoming a soap opera. However, this is still an excellent Chinese period piece with a very artistic and potent approach to the cinematography and a layered, magnetic performance from beautiful Gong Li. Zhang Yimou’s direction is also phenomenal and the film is very absorbing owing to its thematically rich and complex narrative.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Day for Night (1973)

Day for Night Review

…………………………………………………

Day for Night Movie Review

Day for Night is a 1973 French drama film directed by Francois Truffaut. It is another overrated French movie.

………………………………………………….

An actress who won’t appear in a bathing suit is ludicrous!

………………………………………………….

Day for Night Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Jesus, how many more French movies are over-praised up to this point. I am just baffled at the majority of the input from this country and why Hollywood loves it so much. I honestly have no idea and it annoys me.

Here we have another dull and ultimately pretty shallow movie which tries to give us the entire filmmaking process as it follows the making of the movie and everything that goes with it, but it is so concerned with the love affairs and relationships between its characters that it becomes a tired, boring telenovela that rarely has anything to do with the film business itself.

The actors did an okay job, but nobody really stands out. The same goes for its characters. There are too many of them and not enough stay in your mind. I do think that some stories here and some scenes were interesting and even had great conversations and interesting points to state, but most of them were not like that and I was ultimately bored.

………………………………………………….

Day for Night Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Day for Night is well filmed and overall well made, but overlong and another one of those French movies that are obsessed with too many details and not enough heart or genuine story at its core. Francois Truffaut made much better movies than this one and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film win was just thoroughly undeserved in this scenario.

Day for Night has a couple of interesting scenes, but most of the film was one giant, boring telenovela with too many forgettable characters and an over-reliance on soapy elements and not enough story. It is a very overrated film that did not deserve its Oscar at all.

My Rating – 3

Share

Pom Poko (1994)

Pom Poko Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Pom Poko Movie Review

Pom Poko is a 1994 fantasy drama anime film from Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata. It is one of the weaker, but still underrated Ghibli films.

………………………………………………….

They used their balls as weapons in a brave kamikaze attack

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So this is basically another nature tale where environmentalism is the prevailing message. This time around we follow raccoon dogs who have the power to transform into anything and are forced to transform into humans and live in their society as their forests are getting destroyed. So they do try to hammer this message a bit too much and for some that would be a deal-breaker, but I didn’t mind it too much as it is a very important message and people and children should be aware of this problem.

This is a very interesting film in that it very much seemed like a live-action film. Let me explain. Its running time is two hours and the film is sprawling, ambitious and rich in themes and characters which are all rarely seen in animation. That was a two-edged sword however. It was admirable in ambition, but it was also probably too long and some scenes in its middle section felt either repetitive or even unnecessary. There were too many details and plot points in my opinion.

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

But the story in Pom Poko still worked and these raccoon dogs were very interesting as they have the power to transform and all those transformations were beautiful and interesting to watch. I loved how the humans were realistically portrayed in all their actions and yes – the ending killed me. It  affected me emotionally as it truly is a beautiful, poignant scene. Watching them live as humans and miss their forest home was devastating, but still that final scene where Shoukichi gathers with his companions was so touching and the fourth wall breaking finale was also devastating.

So Shoukichi is a memorable, likable protagonist, Oroku is a lot of fun and old Seizaemon is great. Now most of these characters are underutilized as you got too many of them, but still they all felt like a big family thanks to a lot of emotional connection, excellent interactions between them and fun humor. I loved their relationship with humans too. The voice acting is also pretty good per usual.

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

So let’s talk about the animation. Firstly, the character design. Let’s first address the elephant in the room – those giant balls. Yes, these animals have giant balls that in the movie they use to fight the humans in the end even. So yes, it felt weird, but if you are used to anime, you would not mind it like I did not. In fact, it was quite funny to me and it is the most memorable thing about the movie for better and for worse. Love it or hate it, it is bold and the overall character design is actually excellent as they have three forms and they shift from realistic to anthropomorphic to transformed so smoothly and all the forms are beautiful.

The overall animation is very competent and actually great. I loved the natural landscapes, but the city imagery was also very memorable. That scene where you witness the destruction of the hill for the placement of the city was truly heartbreaking. The animation here is so polished and so beautiful as a whole that it honestly doesn’t stay too much behind their more well known, earlier efforts. The parade sequence is particularly dazzling to witness.

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Pom Poko also has a very strong score which accompanies those emotional scenes so well and I really liked it personally. The pacing is problematic, but the direction from Isao Takahata is very strong per usual as he is one of my favorite anime directors for sure. But I have to say that I really did not like the narration here.

The dialogue overall is excellent here and the movie is smart, but that narration kidified the movie a bit too much and it was just so unnecessary and extremely overwhelming as it took up a lot of the movie. But the humor is honestly quite solid and the film is charming and poignant enough that it overcame those many flaws and it is in my opinion quite underrated and possibly better than overrated ‘Porco Rosso’.

Pom Poko is a flawed, but solid and ultimately even underrated Ghibli film. Its narration truly is overwhelming, the film may be too weird for some in regards to the character design and it was too long and the middle section dragged a bit, but still this is a very moving, rich tale with a strong environmental message, likable characters, accomplished animation and such a poignant, truly touching third act.

My Rating – 3.5

Share

Porco Rosso (1992)

Porco Rosso Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Porco Rosso Movie Review

Porco Rosso is a 1992 animated adventure comedy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of the weaker Studio Ghibli offerings that still has a lot to offer.

………………………………………………….

I’d rather be a big than a fascist

………………………………………………….

Porco Rosso Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The subject of aviation is naturally very dear to Miyazaki, but somehow he never really knew how to utilize all that strong love for it. ‘The Wind Rises’ was problematic and Porco Rosso is no exception. It is a film that is just solid and I’d come to expect much more than solid from this director.

So the film is about an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace who was transformed into an anthropomorphic pig. The film is interesting for being the only Miyazaki film that is very realistic and could have happened in real life, everything except the curse part of course. Its Italian location is interesting and unique for the studio and I love the 30s decade so this was pleasant for me naturally.

………………………………………………….

Porco Rosso Movie Review

………………………………………………….

But I have to agree with the director himself who stated that he made an adult movie for children. And that is exactly the major problem of Porco Rosso in a nutshell. It is realistic, it has politics and history in it and yet somehow the movie is not serious as it tries to be fun and funny. It is fun and funny at times, but this tonal inconsistency just felt off for me and ultimately the movie did not work as much as it could have had he decided on just one consistent tone.

I found its first act somewhat abrupt as it starts in a rushed way and it did not introduce me to its characters and its world properly. The third act of the film is where it is at its silliest and most childish and although amusing, it felt too silly in contrast to everything that came before it. The second act is easily the best one as it features some strong characterization, humor and wonderful drama.

………………………………………………….

Porco Rosso Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Porco himself is very memorable and I really liked his character as he is a departure from the usual heroes from the director, or should I say heroines. His story is excellent and I loved the hint at the end that his face may be restored to human. Fio is such a wonderful, subtly feminist character and she is a lot of fun and has some great energy. The relationship between these two is the heart and soul of the film.

Donald Curtis is somewhat typical as an antagonist and again that fight at the end was silly, but Madame Gina is memorable as a love interest and I really enjoyed the love story in this movie and I even found this triangle to be pretty solid.

Porco Rosso is so well animated. It isn’t quite on par with the previous Ghibli films as it isn’t as artistic and the backgrounds are sometimes lacking, but the designs of the characters are so good, especially that of the protagonist, and the film is pleasing in color and quite endearing. The flight scenes are so well executed and I loved the attention to detail that went into the animation of airplanes. It is evident from this movie how much Hayao loves aviation.

………………………………………………….

Porco Rosso Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The score is also stupendous. It isn’t as memorable as say the score from ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ or ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is very fitting to the story and feel of the movie, not to mention the locations, and I loved how fun and retro it felt.

The movie is well paced and edited in spite of that somewhat rushed first act. It otherwise flows really well and the direction is as strong as usual. I also thought that the dialogue is quite solid and I loved the conversations between Fio and Porco and his origin story is so well told. So the movie is not one of Ghibli’s strongest and it is more in line with ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. Still, it is endearing and charming enough that I can’t criticize it too much.

Porco Rosso is a problematic movie. The animation is as wonderful as usual for the studio, the characters are memorable, I loved the relationship between Fio and Porco, the locations of the film are different and interesting and the film is so well scored and charming and endearing for the most part. However, I have to agree with Miyazaki himself that this is an adult film for children and it thus felt odd both conceptually and tonally. It struggled with its tone too much, the first act is somewhat rushed and the third act is silly leading to one of Ghibli’s more humble offerings.

My Rating – 3.5

………………………………………………….

Share

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review

Pan’s Labyrinth is a 2006 fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. It is one of the best films of all time and one of my personal favorites.

………………………………………………….

But captain, to obey – just like that –

for obedience’s sake… without questioning…

That’s something only people like you do

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The story is brilliantly crafted and the shift from war/historical drama to dark fantasy is always conveyed smoothly and in a slick fashion. That’s why the film is great as both a war drama and a fantasy and it really wouldn’t be as phenomenal had it relied on just one of those genres. It is the ultimate Spanish Civil War movie as it captures the brutality of its soldiers and all of the shootouts so well while giving us an unforgettable villain in the process, but more on him later.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy, a very dark one indeed which means that it isn’t really suited for kids and only adults should watch it. It is the finest adult fairy tale ever conceived and one of the all-time best in the fantasy department. What I loved about it is its attention to detail in the modern recreation of a fairy tale.

The tasks obviously come from all those classic fairy tales, but the brutality and the grotesqueness of its creatures is particularly great as it also is faithful to the mature tone of all those fairy tales and is in line with del Toro’s vision. The look of the creatures and the use of insects here are his trademarks. So the film is phenomenal for the fact that it feels like an adaptation of an ancient fairy tale, but is in fact an entirely original work which just goes to show how talented and creative this man really is as he also wrote the script for the movie.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Ofelia is such a great protagonist. She is your archetypal fairy tale hero, but always competent and brave. Her sacrifice in the end was touching and her plight in the entire film is hard to watch. I loved Mercedes. She is a kick-ass female character and the only one who genuinely managed to stop and hurt Vidal and thus she is the bravest person here. All of her scenes were filled with intensity and simply brilliant.

The Faun is very well imagined and I loved his uniquely grotesque and different design. The Pale Man is even more memorable as this child-eating monster with eyes on his hands. His design is absolutely fantastic and so authentic. I also loved those fairies and the scene where the two were eaten was devastating. And of course that giant toad was a short, yet memorable presence.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

And now we come to Captain Vidal. What is there yet to say besides that he is one of the greats. He is a calculated and brutal villain, but never quite becoming a cartoon villain as he was realistic to me and I could see that he could have been a real figure. There were people like him, dictators, and thus the movie is all the more hard-hitting. His presence is felt in every scene, he is creepy and powerful and he never made a mistake which I also loved. He is one of my favorite villains ever and one of the biggest reasons why this film is such a classic.

The acting is of course magnificent. Ivana Baquero did such a terrific job in the main role and for a child, she was absolutely superb and she sold her every scene. Maribel Verdu is also competent and she did a great job in such an admirable female role. The voices of the creatures and monsters were all terrific as was the narration. And of course Sergi Lopez was amazing in the villain’s role and he brought him to life in such a grand style with excellent facial and voice work.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Pan’s Labyrinth is visually dazzling. It is a dark film, but here that approach was warranted given the tone and still it could be well seen. The cinematography is absolutely terrific with some of the camera movements bringing a lot of intensity to the scenes. Of course the shaving scene is so well filmed with that clock approach, but I liked every one of its brutal scenes as they were so well filmed and they knew when to show us the whole thing and when not to show us.

The film is brutal and sometimes too painful to watch, but only in a couple of its scenes and even though I dislike violence, here it was crucial for the plot and especially its villain and thus I didn’t mind it. Some of the imagery here concerning the fantasy elements was fantastic and I loved that bright ending. I also loved the use of the forest and the house, both looked great.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Of course the effects are excellent. As I said above, the creatures look very original in their grim and somewhat creepy designs and all are brought to life so well and they meshed superbly with the screen actress. The film’s editing is just brilliant and so tight that every scene here lasted for just the right time and nothing at all was either rushed or prolonged. That is why the movie is consistently involving from beginning to end.

Pan’s Labyrinth features an unforgettable score which I never forgot from the moment I heard it. The whole film has great sound effects and great score, but Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby is just such a gorgeous theme which really stuck with me long after seeing the film for the first time. It gives power to all of the scenes that use it, especially the emotionally rewarding ending and its melancholic and beautiful tone just gets me every time.

………………………………………………….

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Review

………………………………………………….

My favorite scenes are the ending, the labyrinth chase, the demise of the villain, the Pale Monster and Mercedes hurting Vidal. The film’s tone is dark and mature, but there is light in its ending which was necessary to break all that brutality and darkness. The direction from Guillermo del Toro is just brilliant and this is his magnum opus and better than any other movie he’s made by a mile. The film is memorable and original with such a great dialogue and story and it’s also so emotional and simply powerful in every way. It is my favorite movie from the 2000s and an undisputed classic.

With superb visuals and authentic creature designs, such a great score with an unforgettable melancholic theme, excellent performances across the board and many instantly memorable sequences, Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo del Toro’s magnum opus which features a fantastic and very dark original story and one of the best film villains ever in Captain Vidal. Whether as a drama or as a fantasy, the film is consistently engaging and superbly crafted in every way. It is simply an immaculate achievement and one of the greatest films of all time.

My Rating – 5

………………………………………………….

Share

Rosetta (1999)

Rosetta Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Rosetta Movie Review

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

………………………………………………….

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

………………………………………………….

Rosetta Movie Review

………………………………………………….

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.

………………………………………………….

Rosetta Movie Review

………………………………………………….

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

………………………………………………….

Share