Not Recommended. Tarantino is not to be trusted. This movie is boring. I walked out after the first third of the movie because it had no soul. Okay, I understand that these movies are the Chinese version of superheros. But I guess I just don’t like Eastern superheros because they think that emotionless expression is somehow “deep”, when all it really is is dramatically uninteresting. Human beings are emotional beings, so universal emotional suppression in all characters is simply boring drama. Yeah, yeah, my western prejudice. And in this case, my western prejudice is simply superior for dramatic story. And if you doubt that, just look at the worldwide gross of OUR superhero movies as opposed to these Eastern superhero movies, and well, your doubt will dissolve. Also, a movie that is a string of long 5 minute fight scenes, one after another, just doesn’t make good story. Sure, the choreography and cinematography is cool, but choreography and cinematography IS NOT STORY, they are enhancement to story. Without story, they become boring shallow style without substance. And that’s what Hero is: style without substance.
Recommended with caution. This is a great moral tale about guilt and consequences of sin. It does have a dark “arthouse” edge but it has an ultimately redeeming moral to it. My mantra is that thrillers like this are among the strongest lights of morality in a postmodern world that denies absolute morality and guilt. Christian Bale wins the award for the most extreme commitment to acting because he let his body shrink to a concentration camp victim skeleton of malnutrition in depicting a man whose guilt over his past consumes him and breaks his life apart. Not only does it break apart his own life, but hurts others as well. He can’t eat, hasn’t slept in a year, and can only buy sex from a prostitute because he cannot achieve true intimacy with anyone. He becomes paranoid that people are out to get him and has confusing perceptions of reality. He is haunted by his conscience in the form of a guy who no one else sees, and the machinist tries to kill – He’s trying to kill his conscience. His crime lies in not accepting responsibility or consequences of his own mistake in an accident that led to a death. It could be argued that this is a bit weak because the hero’s ghost is not a deliberate evil on his part, but an accident. But on the other hand, it can be more universal because he is still avoiding his responsibility for hurting others, he is running not from a crime, but his responsibility in an accident – which becomes a crime. That makes him more of an Everyman that we can all relate to. He’s not a deliberate criminal, but a normal guy with a criminal spirit. Hmmmm. Sounds to me like Total Depravity. Brad Anderson also wrote and directed Session 9, which is another EXCELLENT SCARY thriller about self-deception and suppression of evil in the soul. The Machinist is a great moral fable on par with Se7en, The Addiction, Phone Booth and Collateral. I find it not coincidental that the movie poster has the artistic shadow of a crucifix over the main character. I only pray it comes from the writer’s own worldview reflecting the origin of this notion of conscience and guilt.
Not Recommended. This is a boring predictable action movie. Yeah, it has a good moral: Great riches are not for one man to hoard but for sharing with the world. The hero seeks treasure but ends up giving it to the world. That’s cool. But everything else is pretty boring. I’m all for a good popcorn movie, but I like to have a secondary level that is deeper to it all. This one tries to be in that it is linked to the founding of our country, but it doesn’t work for me. One complaint: They pitch a pragmatic morality and try to link it to the founding fathers. The hero says that the founders were guilty of treason, so their founding of the country was doing wrong in order to bring about right, thus justifying his own stealing of the Declaration of Independence in order to save it. Well, sorry, but the founders were not traitors. It was a war for independence of lesser magistrates against unjust higher magistrates, it was not a revolution in the strict sense of the word. They had every moral right to withdraw from Britain, because they did it through lower magistrates, NOT through a mere populist uprising, in other words, a mob, like the French Revolution. THAT was illegal, immoral, and criminal. But the American War of Independence was both moral and legal. And these pragmatism arguments always sound good until you examine it more closely. Oh, so it’s okay to do wrong in order to accomplish right? So the ends justify the mans? Okay, then killing all poor people to get rid of poverty is justifiable on this ethic. And none of us would accept that option. Well, that’s what ends justifying the means DOES lead to. Justification of crime in the name of ultimate goodness. Pragmatic morality is criminal ethics. To be fair, the hero was in other ways, a good guy who didn’t seek to win through violence, but through his wits, and that’s good.
Not recommended. I loved the first one because it was a modern version of Pride and Prejudice. This one was uninspiring. It had gratuitous language that was off-putting. It has a good moral couched in an immoral lifestyle. Bridget learns about loyalty and trust in love, but unfortunately, she is so neurotically distrusting of Darcy that she became stupid and unsympathetic to me. How stupid is someone who mistrusts their lover without reason over and over and over again? And then, they don’t get married at the end. Very unsatisfying. Too modernist.
Hard to Recommend. This is a complex one. This film is really quite brilliant, and Oscar-worthy on all accounts of the craft. It even has some very beautiful truths in it. The problem I have with it is that it is pure Romanticism, humanistic religion. Let me explain. It’s the story of the man who created Peter Pan, Sir James Matthew Barrie. He meets a widow with three boys and befriends them all in his visits to the park. One of the boys, Peter, has lost his innocence to cyncism because of his father’s death. He doesn’t see the fun in life. He cannot play imaginatively with his brothers because it’s all just foolishness. He has a keen awareness of death. Barrie is more the child and tries to get little Peter to explore his imagination and write, because he is a good little writer. So we have a man-child teaching a child-man how to rediscover imagination, to regain his innocence lost too soon. The boy can’t have fun imagining his dog is a dancing bear because “he’s just a dog.” But Barrie explains to him that a diamond is “just a rock” without a bit of imagination. Barrie bases his character’s name, Peter Pan, on this little boy. But by the end of the story, we see little Peter explain to the stunned, Barrie and audience, “I’m not Peter Pan, HE’S Peter Pan.” So the whole theme of this story is the redemption of imagination. How realism can kill our spirits if we do not believe in the transcendence of reality. The “realists” are those whose skepticism is self destructive. Or, as Barrie puts it, “just when I find a glimmer of happiness in this world, there’s always someone who wants to destroy it.” There is a moment when Barrie’s patron laments about the theater’s loss of innocence, “They changed it. The critics. They made it important.” Some great writing throughout this work of art. Another beautiful coming of age moment occurs when the eldest brother tells Barrie not to visit his mother because even though he likes Barrie, he just doesn’t want his mother to be hurt again. Barrie responds, “Ah, there it is. In thirty seconds, you just became a man. The boy has left.” Very profound understanding of what becoming an adult is, a recognition of mortality and the concern for others. It’s a great coming of age story. It’s a wonderful romp into the world of beauty and creativity, the necessity of imagination in our lives as human beings. My problem is that the Romanticism of the worldview is a God substitute. Barrie is the artist as prophet. Imagination is salvation, a faith substitute. Art as religion, literally. And in true Romantic passion, Barrie misplaces his love onto the fun-loving widow (played by Kate Winslet) who becomes his muse, rather than on his own wife. While they do not commit physical adultery, the story is essentially emotional adultery. Another Bridges of Madison County. Argh! The Romantic, rather than fix his marriage and face his own immature selfishness, seeks elsewhere for passion. The only sin to the Romantic is to restrain the heart. “Follow your heart” is his mantra. Doing the right thing becomes oppressive to these selfish infantile narcisists. Neverland becomes the symbol for imagination, indeed salvation, and Barrie’s wife wants him to take her there (in his heart), but instead he takes the widow. In fact, his devotion to the widow and his art drives his wife to adultery and divorce, but quite frankly, he is the one to blame, making him rather unsympathetic, a jerk of a protagonist if you ask me. Anyway, this idea of art as religion is climaxed when the widow dies and we see a imaginative representation of her entering Neverland (read: heaven substitute). Barrie tells her mourning sons, “Mom is still here on every page of your imagination. She’ll be with you always.” Well, Romanticism wants to ignore God but maintain the transcendence that only God can provide. A transcendence that gives meaning to this life because this is not all there is. There is an afterlife, there is eternal life. Romanticism negates God and hijacks the language and concepts of religious faith and substitutes creativity and imagination for the deity. It worships creation in place of the Creator. This is all very unsatisfying and dishonest for a worldview that conceives of this world as all there is to create a false hope in the living by appealing to imagination. Imagination, when properly rooted in the ultimate Creator has true value and meaning in reflecting God’s image. Without this transcendence, imagination becomes self deception and creativity, mere diversion. Imagination as imago populi is idolatry and spiritual death. Imagination as imago dei is truth and redemption.
Highly Recommended. I won’t say it. I won’t say it was “incredible.” No. It was FANTASTIC. Pixar is the greatest animation studio since Disney started. In fact, they have become what Disney has failed to maintain, the animated family film studio. I absolutely loved the pro-family nature of this film. A family that bickers and is not being themselves, who have to draw together and use their special abilities to not only save the world, but save each other as well. Some tight-lipped prissies will say that the family was discordant and always bickering which did not support harmony in family. And these people do not know what they are talking about. Just cause a family bickers does not mean they are not harmonious on a deeper level. Anyone who claims that they do have a happy family that doesn’t bicker at all is not fooling anyone but themself. I have to admit this, that the scenes of the family drawing together to save each other, along with their friend, the freezer superhero, actually made me tear up because every act of drawing together and helping each other was an ACT of harmony and familial love that supported the ultimate bond that a family should have. I loved the kids. I loved how each of their super powers reflected their own character type or personality. The girl who can turn invisible and create force fields around herself is a shy girl who hides and protects herself from hurt. The speedy boy is an ADD kid. The stretch mom is a mom who stretches herself for everyone in her family, and the super dad is a testosterone fiend looking for excitement. I loved it. The theme of “the hero in all of us” or the “special value of each person” was very beautiful. And even the sociocultural picture of our society was profound. In the story, people start sueing super heros for saving them when they didn’t want to be saved or the collateral damage that occurs in the midst of the saving. Sound familiar? This gets to the point that all superheros can no longer afford the legal cost of saving people so they stop it and become “normal.” Well, how real is this? THIS IS AMERICA. We have a society where criminals sue their victims and win, where single selfish individuals win outrageous lawsuits that hurt medical or scientific industries. Law suits have become a new form of legitimized crime. We are a litigious society that blames everyone else for our own sins and wants everyone else to pay for it. We have a society of mediocrity where employees who seek excellence are castigated by the rest of the employees because excellence makes their mediocrity look bad. I know, I’ve seen this myself. Consequently good people who would help society are hindered in doing so because of the selfish mediocrity and jealousy of others. This entitlement mentality and blameshifting culture is destroying goodness and righteousness in our country. The Incredibles makes all good fun of this fault, but it leaves you with a profound revelation as well. This entitlement and blameshifting is squelching the “super heros” around us. The Incredibles brings back goodness and excellence and roots it in the family like no movie I’ve seen I a long time.
Not Recommended at all. BORING. A movie about Alexander the Great done by Oliver the Amateur. I don’t get it. I don’t understand how studio execs just keep giving away tons of money to this guy who makes terrible movies that don’t make money. I am personally offended by Stone’s arrogant selfishness that actually thinks he deserves three hours for all his movies when they barely deserve one hour fifty minutes. He reminds me of Scorsese. These guys are the kings of terrible epics and colossal wastes of money. Everything is too long from the very start of the boringly drawn out title sequence in the beginning, followed by a long boring droning and redundant monologue by Anthony Hopkins as Ptolemy, Then followed by long boring battle sequences that are attempted to be salvaged by giving it a Lord of the Rings rip off soundtrack. We see a long boring inspirational speech by Alexander to his troops when facing King Darius. This is so boring, even to Stone himself, that he fades out of it and onto a flying eagle, and then fades back into the boring speech being boringly concluded. Well, I’ve got to say, Stone didn’t have a conspiracy here, so that’s new, I guess. Not only is it way too long and boring, but you just don’t care for any of the characters, including Alexander himself. Look, let’s face it, all these lines about undying eternal love and devotion just don’t ring with truth at all in the mouths of Mr. multisexual Alex and his sex buddy. Try as hard as he may, it’s inherently fallacious. Most people just won’t buy it. (There is a reference to Achilles and Patroclus 6 times). And besides, what’s so heroic about this genocidal murdering bloody warrior, who invaded other countries, not even for gold or wealth, (which is supposed to be some kind of virtue to the Stone) but simply to conquer and be king of all. Yeah, that’s a real hero. What a great guy for trying to unify the whole world — UNDER HIS THUMB. So Communist Stone complains and criticizes George Bush, but then makes a movie glorifying the very kind of conquering and subduing that he claims Bush is engaged in. Go figure. Of course, Stone tries to smooth it over by making Alexander a P.C. modernist. He’s for the gay marriage laws, (“there are other ways of loving”), and he is Mr. Multiculturalist. In a world of racist nationalists, he believes in interracial dating and even interracial marriage. Okay, his multiculturalism lies in believing all the peoples and nations HE IS CONQUERING are equal in worth and value. “None of these poor suckers we are killing and subjugating and enslaving are inferior to us Greeks (like all those snobbish Macedonian advisors of his believe).” He actually says he is “freeing all peoples” to be under his rule. Wait a minute. Does anybody else see the obvious absurdity here, or am I just crazy? Freeing people by conquering and killing them? Let’s call him Alexander the Marauding Multiculturalist. Well, they got one thing right, multiculturalism’s kinship with Fascism. So Alexander is this “great” leader who is basically a man of action. This is another existential movie that scorns “those who think too much” and trumpets at the very beginning a quote from Virgil: “Fortune favors the bold.” Alexander spouts platitudes, half of which I couldn’t even hear in the midst of a noisey audio mix. “Fear of death is the cause of all our misfortunes.” “Conquer your fear, and I promise you, you will conquer death.” “We’ve all suffered. In the end, all that matters is what you’ve done.” So we are the sum total of our choices or actions. Action is elevated in this amoral universe, that again, Stone would attack if it was a person on the opposite side of his political beliefs doing all the “bold action.” You get it? These kind of filmmakers think they are being profound by exalting “action” without morality, and then cry like clubbed baby seals when a man of action does WHAT THEY DON’T LIKE. That’s called hypocrisy, self-deception. I mean, just apply this existential amoral “bold action” to Stone’s boogeyman, Bush again. Hey, Bush is bold and a man of action in invading Iraq. So I guess Oliver Stone must have voted for Bush. Not that I agree with Bush, but I know Stone has expressed his hate speech against him. Send out the word: Oliver Stone supports Bush’s bold invasion of Iraq. An odd moment that totally said, “Editing nightmare” occurred after we see this big battle with Babylon and then we see King Darius flee the battle. And then we cut to Alexander weeping over a soldier who died, looking very regretful and like a loser. Then we hear Ptolemy’s narration telling us Darius was defeated and Alexander won. What? What kind of a non-sequitur was that? And an anti-climactic one at that. This movie was so boring, that you would not miss a thing by not seeing it. The court intrigue was boring, just a bunch of people trying to speak with subtext that you don’t even care about, and the long boring war councils talking about stuff that simply wasn’t interesting, and of course, Ptolemy’s long boring narration throughout and over the transition periods. Who cares. I’ll take the pagan Gladiator any day over this broing drivel.
Not recommended. It was a very creative approach with a story that takes place mostly in a single room, with lots of good twists and very good visuals. But it fails on a moral level. It’s the story of two guys who have been chained into a room and can only get out by killing the other guy or dying in the process, as the place is boobytrapped. And then we discover that the people who this is done to, have dark secrets. It’s in a genre of killer movies where the killer makes a moral point to the audience. Now, I like that as a genre. Movies like Seven and Collateral (morality without God leads to evil) and Phone Booth (the true nature of sins and repentance) are great moral fables, but this movie falls short in that it fails to portray the victims as truly worthy of their suffering. Oh, it tries to make them worthy, but it doesn’t work. First of all, the hero is supposed to be a doctor who is too busy for his family and addresses sick people as objects with diseases. Well, okay, this is a slight character flaw, but certainly not deserving of being tortured so, as the killer says, he should stop taking life for granted. What kind of a stupid motive is that for a killer? I want you to appreciate life more in the face of death. Well, that is a good artistic motive, but it doesn’t work for a killer. Okay, then the photographer who follows the doctor is supposed to be bad cause he is snooping on the doctor. So that’s supposed to be worthy of death? And then, the other people who were killed, one was a drug addict, and another, a couch potato. Se7en did this theme right because the people killed were extremes of the seven deadly sins, which DID make the point that sin is serious. And Phone Booth worked because the revelation of the hero was that he really was a lying conniving cheater and manipulator that successfully hid his true personality from others and the audience. So the revelation of his character may not have deserved death (like a twisted serial killer believes), but it illustrated the true seriousness of his sins. That effect simply does not occur in Saw because the victims seem too average and their sins are not explored to show the true negative effects on other’s people’s lives. This is true especially of the hero, who is tempted to engage in adultery, but when he gets to the hotel room, he doesn’t do it! That moral triumph makes the hero look good, not bad, and therefore unworthy of the “punishment” that the killer puts him through. Fatal Attraction did it right because it had the hero follow through on his adultery from a character flaw, but then he rises over that flaw through love and a wife who is a good shot with a gun. The power of the movies like Fatal Attraction, Phone Booth, and Se7en is that they reveal true guilt in the hero that requires redemption, and that’s what makes the morality of those movies so good, true and beautiful. When the killer “wins” at the end of Se7en, we think that we should fight evil in the world, and that we should not ignore the religious idea of sin and guilt or society will become more evil. When the killer gets away at the end of Phone Booth, we conclude that Satan is always out there prowling like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, so we had better get our lives together and stop deceiving ourselves about our own goodness and repent from our sin. When the killer gets away in the end of Saw it is not to make a moral point, but rather to show that evil wins and average people die without purpose. Like I said, nihilistic trash.