Monday, July 11, 2005

Just after the 100th film...

I have passed the benchmark of 100; 100 films that I've seen for the year 2005. Last years set of films is definitely better, American films continue to sink and suffer from mediocrity, placing so much of their money in the visual effects and big Hollywood stars, plus the year 2006 will be flooded by remakes, films from South Korea like My Sassy Girl, Il Mare, The Phone and Oldboy will be copied (haaayyy). Sideways, Primer and Before Sunset saved the American films for the first 6 months of my movie viewing.

Thank God, South Korean films definitely got my attention this year, both on the entertainment and the artistic side of filmmaking. I have to admit that most of their works is melodramatic, I guess that's what they are, but they are not dumb and cheesy in doing this genre. European films however are always consistent, always maintaining the balance between the style, content and elegance.

These are the last films I've seen in July:

Madagascar (US) - I enjoyed the first half hour, but the film suffers from predictability and lack of excitement. FAIL

Das Experiment (Germany) - Good thriller, reminds me a little of Silence of the Lambs, very original and dynamic. PASS

Shutter (Thailand) - Very scary but ocassionally funny, overall; good movie... PASS

The Forgotten (US) - Creepy enough but it suffers from predictability. Watch the trailer and you know what will happen in the first hour of the film... FAIL

2046 (Hong Kong) - The critics like this film a lot, they say its visually beautiful and nearly poetic... but I don't buy it... FAIL

Premonition (Japan) - One of the worst film of the year, I really regret watching it because of a free pass... FAIL

Sunday, July 03, 2005


“I do like to think about the life of wine, how it's a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing, how the sun was shining that summer or if it rained... what the weather was like. I think about all those people who tended and picked the grapes, and if it's an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I love how wine continues to evolve, how every time I open a bottle it's going to taste different than if I had opened it on any other day. Because a bottle of wine is actually alive -- it's constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks -- like your '61 -- and begins its steady, inevitable decline. And it tastes so fucking good.”- Maya to Miles in Sideways

I was caught by surprise by this magnificent poignant comedy, again directed by the very inventive and talented director Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt). I have no idea on what is wine or wine tasting in general is all about but giving the sense of its metaphor in real life made it so affecting, humorous and eventually eternal.

Sideways strong point is primarily its moving and intelligent screenplay written by Alexander Payne and co writer Jim Taylor. His funny, sad and wild insight about human beings ups and downs will definitely give a delightful experience to the audience. Probably more humorous compared to his previous works, Sideways, indeed tackled the same central idea as About Schmidt, (identity crisis of middle aged men and their quest to find personal stability and happiness).

The performances are also excellent especially the good chemistry between Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church). I would say that Paul was definitely robbed by an Oscar nomination last February but I’m not so surprised about AMPAS making a lot of big mistakes when the award season comes. Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen are very strong in the supporting roles that they have completed a powerful acting ensemble for an indie film.

This Oscar winning film is a favorite of more than 200 critics in the US and became one of the top grossing indie films of all time. Beyond the simplicity and charm of this film, it will take you the bittersweet and crazy moments in life.

Movie of the Month for June:

SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER and SPRING... - Korea's top director Kim Kiduk has made a silent, subtle, beautifully shot film showing the basic pillars and ideals of Buddhism, or should I call this mini-masterpiece Buddhism 101. Four seasons, four periods in every human life, is a continous cycle of life and death... Rich in symbolisms and landscape images, the movie has provided the audience an air to breath, a room for meditation and contemplation. (A)