Quick Cuts

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This movie is almost as good as all the critics keep telling you. Highly recommended.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (Les Pacte des Loups)

I first heard of this movie in reports from Cannes, 2000, where, evidently, early clips were shown. When it was released in France last January, the reports were mixed but I was still excited. Was it worth the wait?

The movie is a rich grubby tapestry. I loved all of it from the Beast to the painted aristos. Some critics have said that it is too long but it all develops the sense of place. Usually, in a horror movie, the evil is localized and no one outside of a small area ever hears of it. The film makes clear this is not a local evil but had ripples all the way to Paris.

If I have a negative, it was in the fight sequences... They were shown in that time skipping jerky manner made popular by Gladiator. This makes it difficult to follow exactly what is happening and I can't help but feel that is the intent, to disguise any inadequacies on the part of the actors and stuntmen. That being said, the climax still kicked big fat ass.

Crimson Rivers

I missed seeing this when it was in the local theaters last fall so I have only seen it on DVD which is a pity because the mountain photography is gorgeous.

A great thing about this movie is that the viewer only knows what the cops know. There are some pretty gruesome clues which is why I hadn't watched the film sooner, my 11-year old was getting caught up in it and she distracted me. Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel are excellent as the cops.

Iron Monkey

Loved it even though they cut the chorus of kids singing the Wong Fei Hung song over the end credits. Yes, I paid to go see it in the theater when I already owned it on DVD. It was money well spent.


A surprisingly entertaining movie about a serious subject, women in Afghanistan. I loved the scenes where the legs are air dropped in. My only quibble is the end of the movie was too indefinitite for me. I'm not sure what happened. I like to have these things spelled out for me.

Mission Kashmir

Altaaf (Hrithik Roshan) and Khan (Sanjay Dutt) are both flawed. Each has performed an act the other can not forgive. In the heat of battle, policeman Khan killed Altaaf's unarmed parents and little sister. He then adopts the homeless boy. When Altaaf discovers the truth he leaves home. Ten years later he's back and a member of a militant Muslim terrorist organization. A bomb intended for Khan murders Khan's wife instead.

The action is acceptable but there is not a lot of it. It's not really an action film. It's more of a drama and political thriller with a background in Kashmir. Apparently, Kashmir is an Eden, where all sects live in harmony, poised to burn like straw when the proper match is lit. The movie skillfully bares the tension between Khan and Altaaf as Khan tries to keep the peace. Since neither Altaaf nor Khan is unstained (and perhaps an unfamiliarity with Bollywood conventions) I was kept guessing how it would turn out until almost the end.

Like Hollywood musicals, many of the song and dance numbers were dull though one where Khan makes up with his wife was snappy. Hrithik Roshan is a beautiful man. Mission Kashmir provides ample opportunity to consider his beauty as his closeups come often and long.

Second Time Around

Example of bad subtitle (~33K)

Ekin Cheng is Ren, a dealer at one of the lesser casinos in Nevada. Feeling the luck is with him Ren and his pal Sing (Jonathan K) go off to Las Vegas with the boss' money. This does not end well. Ren loses all the money. He and Sing hitch a ride with Anna who is carrying a boat load of her boss' money. There is an accident when their car swerves to avoid hitting a particularly vicious looking bunny. Ren wakes up in the hospital two days later. Anna and Sing are dead, the money is gone, and the cops are looking for a waiter, Alvin. Ren drives off the road in another car and he and the cop he is with, played by Cecilia Cheung, end up thrown back in time three days so Ren gets a chance to make things turn out more to his liking.

I want to warn viewers who will be relying on the English subtitles. They were all chopped up. It appeared that for any speech that would have taken two lines on the screen, only the second line displayed so there were many speeches such as "the money." and "with me", particularly during the exposition. However, my interest was kept despite that and I didn't guess the denouement. The picture quality was quite good and the film was plainly shot largely in the US which was interesting to me.

The Son's Room

Very good if you like this sort of melodrama but it needed more Chow Yun-fat and guns.

Tears of the Black Tiger

Front cover from Tears of the Black Tiger DVD

Take a conventional story of rich girl falling for poor boy who ends up on the wrong side off the law. Make it a singing cowboy movie except no characters sing. Add ferocious gun play to the fancy trick shooting; rocket launchers; lots of pink, rich, deep pink. Set it in Thailand in the ‘50s and you have Tears of the Black Tiger. I'm sure it also references a heap of Thai genres that I didn't recognize.

It sounds a bastard child but is really a carefully crafted hybrid/homage. Rumpoey, the rich girl, and Dum, the poor boy with the unfortunate name, ride off in a taxi. The view through the rear window is monochrome. Dum sits playing his harmonica in front of backdrop with a heavily stylized scene painted on it. There is no pretense that this is a location.

Mahesuan (Supakorn Kitsuwon), a villain, is notable. If his mustache hadn't been drawn on with eye-liner he would definitely have been twirling it. Accept no imitations. Watch the totally original, but homage heavy, Tears of the Black Tiger.

The Three Swordsmen

Andy Lau as Siu Sam Siu (~22K)

The major problem with this picture is the subtitles. It is obvious that English was not the first language of the subtitler. To make it worse, they are often white on white or cut off by the bottom of the screen. Either way, illegible. This made the story often incomprehensible. For these reasons, I do not recommend the movie to those not fluent in Cantonese or Mandarin.

The bouncy theme leads me to suppose it is a comedy but it does have sad bits. Siu Sam Siu (Andy Lau) and Ming Jian (Brigitte Lin dubbed with a male voice) are rivals for some martial arts title. Siu is framed for a murder and has to find the culprit before he is arrested. That is about all I could follow.

Time Out

Yesterday, the Talk Cinema picture was Time Out (L’emploi du temps). I am ashamed to say, I did not last through the whole thing. I gave up after about an hour, with another hour to go. This is the kind of movie that gives foreign film a bad name.

Vincent was fired from some fairly high powered job a month ago. He hasn't told his wife. He drives around all day and pretends to his wife that he is still employed. Then he pretends that he has gotten a job with the UN in Switzerland. He borrows money from his Dad for an apartment in Geneva. When I left, Vincent had either come up with a great new business idea or was scamming old acquaintances. I suspected the latter.

There were some interesting scenes. For instance, Vincent parks his car on a snow covered road and hikes into the mountains to find a closed up house in which to write in peace. Mostly, though, Vincent drives around and acts like an asshole. I just wanted to slap him upside the head. How dare he not tell his wife that he was out of work? Oh, and the actor who played Vincent, Aurélien Recoing, looked just like Larry Miller. I found this very distracting.

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