Comedy, Animation/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/101
Cast: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Director: Andrew Stanton
Finding Nemo reduced this hard-bitten reviewer
to tears. No, really.
And it's not a confession that comes easily. However, these tears
were not the sad kind, they were the laughing kind.
Ignore the Disney label on this film this
is a Pixar movie through and through. Pixar are those eccentric
computer nerds that brought usToy Story and Monster's Inc. and Finding
Nemo cements their reputation for consistent quality and innovation.
All the Pixar trademarks are here: the witty characteri-sation,
fast, tight plotting, and spectacular animation. As usual the gags
are not all for the kids there's plenty for us big kids too,
like the shark called Bruce who speaks with an Australian accent
and who has started a self-help group along the lines of alcoholics
anonymous for sharks that want to control their addiction to fish.
The story follows Marlin, an over protective,
neurotic and desperately unfunny clown fish searching for his son
Nemo after he has been decaptured by a scuba diver. Marlin has tragedy
in his past and as a consequence has all the usual parental anxieties
magnified to obsessional proportions, so when Nemo disappears, Dad
will go anywhere and do anything to get him back. The lingering
note of tragedy adds a hint of poignancy to the comedy of the whole
Perhaps this is an unpromising premise for a film
but the Pixar team's talent for making the ordinary into something
unusual gives the adventure an entirely fresh feel. Arguably the
dialogue and the plotting are not quite as sharp as earlier films
but to make an issue out of this would be churlish. The setting
for the adventure, the Pacific ocean, Australia's barrier reef and
the city of Sydney gives the animators plenty of scope to ratchet
their skills another notch, creating scenes of quite stunning beauty.
But what makes the film bubble is the cast of
digital characters, each of whom is a caricature of a familiar human
type. Finding Nemo is not simply a fishy adventure, it is more a
gentle, affectionate mocking of its human creators.
The Last Samurai
Historical/US/English and Japanese (English and
Cast: Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Hiroyuki Sanada
Director: Edward Zwick
Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) is a soldier
without honour. He is a man of decency and ideals but as member
of the 7th Cavalry he became complicit in the murder of innocent
women and children. He cannot live with the shame and we meet him
as an alcoholic and a performing monkey for the Winchester weapons
Being recruited to go to Japan to train their
modernising army to fight against an insurgency of traditionalists
does nothing to relieve his fatalism and gloom. In his first encounter
with the insurgents he is captured and taken to their mountain village
where he quickly discovers that these people are not savages as
he has been led to believe: they are educated, disciplined and devoted
to the code of the samurai.
He becomes fascinated as he realises these are
people who live by unshakable principle. He learns their ways and
sets off on the road to recovering his own honour and integrity.
This powerful and moving film is about a clash
of values: venality and principle; about a clash of civilisations:
the Western technologised, commercial world and an older philosophy-driven
way. The artful directing through shots of telegraph poles and railway
lines scarring Tokyo reminds us that the forces changing Japan are
the same ones that seized America's west.
The vision of Japan's reformers is enlightening
as we see that the rush to modernise was part of a factional power
struggle within Japan: the modernisers had no interest in modernity
except for the power the technology and commercial systems would
give them over their rivals; they were self-serving manipulators
of a weak Emperor.
The Last Samurai parts with the Hollywood tradition
of hiring cheap Chinese imitations of Japanese people and uses well-known
actors of real presence and talent: Ken Watanabe as dissident samurai
Katsumoto deserves a truck-load of Oscars and there are impressively
toned performances from Hiroyuki Sanada and Koyuki.
If Hollywood is to movie making what the telegraph
rail companies were to the west, then The Last Samurai is the noble
dissident. Let's hope it's not the last one.
The Matrix Revolutions
There's a lot of hush-hush for the final chapter
of the Matrix. Warner Brothers have not offered reviews or trailers
so we have to presume that on November 5th, the rebels' long quest
for freedom culminates in a final explosive battle. Will Zion survive
the attack of the Machine Army as they wage devastation? And where
exactly does Neo fit in all this and how will he end the war and
save all of humankind?
Cast: Keanu Reeves/Laurence Fishburne
Director: by Andy and Larry Wachowski
Ten strangers are brought together in a rainstorm:
A limo driver, an '80s TV star, a cop who is transporting a killer,
a call girl, a pair of newlyweds and a family in crisis, all take
shelter at a desolate motel run by a nervous manager. Butt he ten
travelers begin to die, one by one. They soon realize that, if they
are to survive, they'll have to uncover the secret that has brought
them all together.
Cast: John Cusak, Ray Leotta, Amanda Peet
Director : James Mangold
Sony Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
Jim Carrey self-declared Jerry Lewis on
acid gets together again with director Tom Shadyac to recreate
the Liar Liar team so if you saw Liar Liar, you should be
cued to the goofy tone of this film. Carrey is Bruce Nolan a TV
reporter who thinks he should be running the show. He misses promotion
and goes ballistic, cursing God for mismanaging the universe of
Nolan. God, played perfectly by the ice-cool Morgan Freeman, calls
Nolan's tune and turns the universe over to him for a while. Perhaps
being the main man isn't all that Nolan thinks it will be.
Comedy/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/101mins
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, M Freeman
Director: Tom Shadyac
Daddy Day Care
Self-absorbed careerist daddies Charlie (Eddie
Murphy) and Phil (Jeff Garlin) mess up their bright careers in advertising
and suddenly find themselves unable to pay for their kids to attend
their up-market day care centres so they decide to set up their
own school. How difficult can it be to look after hordes of screaming
brats? Their anarchic
school takes off big time, and piques the owner of conservative
rival school ma'am Miss Gwyneth Harridan (Anjelica Huston) who sets
out to put them out of business.
Comedy/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/93mins
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Anjelica Huston
Director: Steve Carr
This has to be the suspense movie of the year:
20 years in gestation, ten days in shooting on one location
with a novel plot and immaculate execu-tion. New York wide boy Stu
(Colin Farrell) finds himself in Manhatten's last pay phone in the
sights of a sniper who seems to know all about him. Put down the
phone and he gets shot. Keep the phone to his ear as his life is
stripped bare and he may get shot anyway. The police think Stu is
a killer and are ready to shoot him too. Tense and inventive.
Suspense/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/81mins
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, F Whitaker
Director: Joel Schumacher
Capitalizing on his fame as the star of "Hogan's
Heroes," Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear) dove into the freewheeling
spirit of the 60s and 70s with relish, having affairs with numerous
women. Eventually, Crane teamed up with video technician John Carpenter
to document his exploits, an association that may very well have
led to his murder in a Scottsdale, Arizona motel room in 1978, which
remains officially unsolved to this day.
Cast: Greg Kinnear, William Dafoe, Rita Wilson
Direcotor: Paul Schrader
Sony Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
Sarah Jordan (Angelina Jolie) is a rich American
living in London who at a charity event is arrested by the sight
of macho aid worker Nick Callahan (Clive Owen) gate crashing with
a starving Ethiopean kid in his arms to accuse the rich of double
standards. This act propels Ms. Jordan into an orgy of international
acts of mercy, ferrying, cartloads of urgent supplies to Callahan's
aid group in the world's trouble spots. When Callahan and Ms. Jordan
get the hots for each other against a backdrop of starving refugees
the film reveals itself as a steamy romance.
Romance/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/127mins
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Linus Roache
Director: Martin Campbell
The Brown Bunny
Low key, sensitive art film or a crock
of rubbish? Man of parts Vincent Gallo is Bud Clay, a man in pain
travelling across the US to find his lost love played by Chloe Sevigny.
On the way he meets up with a number of women who succumb to his
moody looks. There are long brooding shots, some very graphic sex,
and the film eschews plot for contemp-lation while Gallo, who also
wrote and directed, gives a quietly intense performance. The Brown
Bunny was booed at Cannes but was received well at the Toronto festival.
Art/US/ English (Japanese subtitles)/90mins
Cast: Vincent Gallo, Chloe Sevigny, Cheryl Tiegs
Director: Vincent Gallo
An entrepreneurial criminal, Slim (Dorff) is as
smart as they come and with his two friends, they form a team of
risk-taking rush-seekers to pull off a series of five bank heists,
each time using a different extreme sport to make the getaway. Following
an unexpected windfall on only their second job, the gang nets $20
million in untraceable bonds. Having scored enough money to retire
on, Slim and his crew decide to call the robbery game quits. But
both the mob and the police have other plans in mind for them
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Natasha Henstride, B Payne
Diretor: Gérard Pirès
It was supposed to be simple: kidnap the child
of rich parents, hold the kid for 24 hours, keep the mother under
control while an accomplice gets the ransom from the father, who
is on a trip. But things go very wrong because they find out that
the kid they kidnapped is asthmatic and the parents find out a little
too much about the kidnappers.
Cast: Charlize Theron, Courtney Love, Kevin Bacon
Director: Luis Mandoki
Bad Boys 2
Fractious duo Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence)
and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) are part of an elite Miami police force
drug squad hunting down a reliably ruthless drug lord who is single-handedly
taking over the illegal drug trade in Florida. Their mission is
complicated when Marcuss dutifully gorgeous sister, who happens
to be a DEA agent on the trail of the same bad guy, gets cute with
Mike and then has her cover blown. Will the bad boys save the girl
and put paid to the bad guy? Its anybodys guess in this
fast-paced, production line cop flick.
Crime-Action/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/146
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Gabrielle Union
Director: Michael Bay
Post-post modem, post ironic, post coherent, and
posthaste to the bank with buckets with dosh. After a six-year absence
Tarantino is back with the biggest, baddest, most hubris-laden film
of his career. The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad led by Bill
and his evil troupe, turn on one of their own, known only as the
bride (Uma Thurman), massacring her wedding guests, her husband
and her unborn child on her wedding day, and leave her for dead.
Or they thought. The Bride comes to four years later and sets about
slashing her way to revenge. From there on, its just blood sport
all the way.
Action/US/E&J (Japanese subtitles)/93 minutes
Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, David Carradine
Director: Quentin Tarantino