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Old 02-20-2012, 03:28 AM   #26681
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Safe House was good.

It was pretty paint by numbers though. What you expect to happen is exactly what is going to happen.

It entertains but never amazes.

Denzel played Denzel.

Reynolds was surprisingly unfunny and handled his part well enough.

Worth catching the matinee for or waiting for the blu if you are't a fan of going to the theater.

4/5
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:13 AM   #26682
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I just saw a movie that I absolutely did not like but, at the same time, feel the strange need to talk about (I believe a few others have seen it). It's a British indie called 'Kill List'. It's the story of two hitmen who pick up a job for money and they get a LOT more than they bargained for.

Frankly, I don't even know how I feel about it. It's a fascinating little movie for the first half. However, at about the
[Show spoiler]second death scene- the Librarian- it got very sick, very twisted. Little did I know but the worst was yet to come It got increasingly darker and more disturbing leading up to the disturbing and reprehensible ending. Seriously, it is incredibly sick and twisted. If I ever hear the word "Hunchback" again I don't know what I'll do.


I'm very torn on this film- on one half it is stimulating, intriguing, intense and downright horrifying with great production values. On the other hand it is vile, disturbing and disgusting to the point of not being able to watch it. Never before have I been so torn on a movie. For making me talk about it, I will give Kill List a C (a 2.5/5). A rating split down the middle for a movie that split me down the middle.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:07 AM   #26683
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I wanted to get this weeks ago, but in the middle of my blind-buy purge, it felt like too much at the time. Well, I finally bit the bullet.

Next greatest blind-buy: “Arrietty.”

As expected out of Studio Ghibli, “Arrietty” is another cute and imaginative fantasy. It is quite charming to watch a group of wee people sneaking around and “borrowing” things. There isn’t much action or strong conflict in this movie, but as it is with “Ponyo,” the artwork, the imaginative concept, the characters, and the overall cuteness makes the movie appealing.

The story is not terribly strong. It does a fine job of establishing the characters and showing how perilous their world can be. However, even though the film establishes the dangers, it rarely throws the characters into peril (you can find a lot more peril in something like "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.") "Arrietty" does set up some slight conflict among the characters, but it never reaches a critical point; the film overall feels safe (which could be good or bad). My only other major complaint about this movie is simply that it doesn’t feel as lively or imaginative as other Studio Ghibli films. Maybe this film will resonate differently with others, but I felt more spirit coming out of “Ponyo,” “Spirited Away,” “Castle in the Sky,” and others. Given these issues, you might think I disliked the movie; on the contrary, it met my expectations and was quite charming, it just didn't blow me away.

Fortunately, the animation quality is still top-notch. Backgrounds are nicely detailed and rendered. Movements are smooth. Character designs are pleasing, and designs for the settings and props are decent. The film has okay writing. Music is lovely.

4/5 (entertainment: 4/5, story: 3.5/5, film: 4.5/5)

Recommendation: Sure, why not?

This British Blu-Ray looks perfect! Sound quality disappointed me though; it does sound okay with the dialogue, music, and certain ambient effects. A lot of the other sound effects sounded muffled and distorted. Maybe this is from the mixing on the English dub side, I don't know; chances are that the original Japanese track might be better. As it is, I found it rather distracting.

Also note that this Blu-Ray has a British voice cast, which sounds quaint. If there's ever a US release, they'll probably use an American cast, so I found this dubbing novel.

PQ: 5/5, AQ: 3.5/5

This Blu-Ray is Region-B locked.

If this movie was a song, it'd be
[Show spoiler]some kind of nice folk music.


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Old 02-20-2012, 01:54 PM   #26684
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al_The_Strange View Post
I wanted to get this weeks ago, but in the middle of my blind-buy purge, it felt like too much at the time. Well, I finally bit the bullet.

Next greatest blind-buy: “Arrietty.”

As expected out of Studio Ghibli, “Arrietty” is another cute and imaginative fantasy. It is quite charming to watch a group of wee people sneaking around and “borrowing” things. There isn’t much action or strong conflict in this movie, but as it is with “Ponyo,” the artwork, the imaginative concept, the characters, and the overall cuteness makes the movie appealing.

The story is not terribly strong. It does a fine job of establishing the characters and showing how perilous their world can be. However, even though the film establishes the dangers, it rarely throws the characters into peril (you can find a lot more peril in something like "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.") "Arrietty" does set up some slight conflict among the characters, but it never reaches a critical point; the film overall feels safe (which could be good or bad). My only other major complaint about this movie is simply that it doesn’t feel as lively or imaginative as other Studio Ghibli films. Maybe this film will resonate differently with others, but I felt more spirit coming out of “Ponyo,” “Spirited Away,” “Castle in the Sky,” and others. Given these issues, you might think I disliked the movie; on the contrary, it met my expectations and was quite charming, it just didn't blow me away.

Fortunately, the animation quality is still top-notch. Backgrounds are nicely detailed and rendered. Movements are smooth. Character designs are pleasing, and designs for the settings and props are decent. The film has okay writing. Music is lovely.

4/5 (entertainment: 4/5, story: 3.5/5, film: 4.5/5)

Recommendation: Sure, why not?

This British Blu-Ray looks perfect! Sound quality disappointed me though; it does sound okay with the dialogue, music, and certain ambient effects. A lot of the other sound effects sounded muffled and distorted. Maybe this is from the mixing on the English dub side, I don't know; chances are that the original Japanese track might be better. As it is, I found it rather distracting.

Also note that this Blu-Ray has a British voice cast, which sounds quaint. If there's ever a US release, they'll probably use an American cast, so I found this dubbing novel.

PQ: 5/5, AQ: 3.5/5

This Blu-Ray is Region-B locked.

If this movie was a song, it'd be
[Show spoiler]some kind of nice folk music.

Almora - Shehrazad - Dream On - YouTube

I'm glad you liked it. I saw the US dub at the theater yesterday and felt it wasn't as strong as the UK one. I'll check out the Japanese version on the Blu-ray. The US version also adds a line of narration at the end to explain the future of some of the characters.
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:17 PM   #26685
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Chronicle
Film: 3/5

the good
-awesome special effects
-intruiging plot-line where the kids go exploring and wake up to having special abilities
-great humour where they use their powers in public

the bad
-screenwriter couldn't resisit telling us what to think. Andrew has an alcoholic dad and a mom dying from cancer and bullies at school?? Heck, I'd pity Hitler in his shoes! I prefer films that give the audience the choice of sympathisizing with character A. v. character B, not telling the audience who to sympathisize with. They went overboard setting up Andrew, as they were obviously afraid that the audience wouldn't warm up to Andrew unless they injected him with tons of sympathy steroids
-the whole "apex predator" theme was just dumb and made no sense.
[Show spoiler]The first thing Andrew says when he mentions "apex predator" is "does the lion feel bad when it kills the gazelle?". And then later he says he's an apex predator? Sorry dude, but last time I checked, lions and gazelles are different species and kill for food. You're killing the same species and doing for sport. Yes yes I know the whole point is that he's off his rocker and so I shouldn't even be pointing out that what he's saying makes no sense, since its not supposed to make sense! But shouldn't it make SOME sense?Shouldn't it even make half sense?

-the last sequence of
[Show spoiler]Andrew flying around and being chased by Matt was WAAAAAAAAAY too long and got old after Andrew threw the 503rd police car. I was honestly happy when ANdrew got killed - his screaming had gotten so annoying and the antics so redundant that I had to hold back from doing a standing ovation in the theater and yelling "Bravo Matt!" Plus, what was up with Andrew robbing 4 people on the street for money instead of a bank?

Last edited by surfdude12; 02-20-2012 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:10 PM   #26686
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
Chronicle
Film: 3/5

the good
-awesome special effects
-intruiging plot-line where the kids go exploring and wake up to having special abilities
-great humour where they use their powers in public

the bad
-screenwriter couldn't resisit telling us what to think. Andrew has an alcoholic dad and a mom dying from cancer and bullies at school?? Heck, I'd pity Hitler in his shoes! I prefer films that give the audience the choice of sympathisizing with character A. v. character B, not telling the audience who to sympathisize with. They went overboard setting up Andrew, as they were obviously afraid that the audience wouldn't warm up to Andrew unless they injected him with tons of sympathy steroids
-the whole "apex predator" theme was just dumb and made no sense.
[Show spoiler]The first thing Andrew says when he mentions "apex predator" is "does the lion feel bad when it kills the gazelle?". And then later he says he's an apex predator? Sorry dude, but last time I checked, lions and gazelles are different species and kill for food. You're killing the same species and doing for sport. Yes yes I know the whole point is that he's off his rocker and so I shouldn't even be pointing out that what he's saying makes no sense, since its not supposed to make sense! But shouldn't it make SOME sense?Shouldn't it even make half sense?

-the last sequence of
[Show spoiler]Andrew flying around and being chased by Matt was WAAAAAAAAAY too long and got old after Andrew threw the 503rd police car. I was honestly happy when ANdrew got killed - his screaming had gotten so annoying and the antics so redundant that I had to hold back from doing a standing ovation in the theater and yelling "Bravo Matt!" Plus, what was up with Andrew robbing 4 people on the street for money instead of a bank?
After reading your spoilers I am surprised you gave it a 3/5. Souns like a pass for me.
Because Calamari Marionette Ph.D sounded pompous, that's why.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:33 PM   #26687
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
Chronicle
Film: 3/5

the good
-awesome special effects
-intruiging plot-line where the kids go exploring and wake up to having special abilities
-great humour where they use their powers in public

the bad
-screenwriter couldn't resisit telling us what to think. Andrew has an alcoholic dad and a mom dying from cancer and bullies at school?? Heck, I'd pity Hitler in his shoes! I prefer films that give the audience the choice of sympathisizing with character A. v. character B, not telling the audience who to sympathisize with. They went overboard setting up Andrew, as they were obviously afraid that the audience wouldn't warm up to Andrew unless they injected him with tons of sympathy steroids
-the whole "apex predator" theme was just dumb and made no sense.
[Show spoiler]The first thing Andrew says when he mentions "apex predator" is "does the lion feel bad when it kills the gazelle?". And then later he says he's an apex predator? Sorry dude, but last time I checked, lions and gazelles are different species and kill for food. You're killing the same species and doing for sport. Yes yes I know the whole point is that he's off his rocker and so I shouldn't even be pointing out that what he's saying makes no sense, since its not supposed to make sense! But shouldn't it make SOME sense?Shouldn't it even make half sense?

-the last sequence of
[Show spoiler]Andrew flying around and being chased by Matt was WAAAAAAAAAY too long and got old after Andrew threw the 503rd police car. I was honestly happy when ANdrew got killed - his screaming had gotten so annoying and the antics so redundant that I had to hold back from doing a standing ovation in the theater and yelling "Bravo Matt!" Plus, what was up with Andrew robbing 4 people on the street for money instead of a bank?
On the final note,
[Show spoiler]you see those dudes earlier in the film being pretty hostile towards him, it was some sort of revenge
and the apex predator is him getting at the idea that he's the
[Show spoiler]next advancement in the food chain and that he's on a whole new species, I gave the who subtext little thought because the dude had mental illness and it's only mentioned twice.
I sort of agree that they lay on sympathy a little too blatant, but then again, we would say he's a bit over reacting when he goes ape-shit if they toned it down a tad
"Film lovers are sick people." - François Truffaut
[FADE TO BLACK]
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:35 PM   #26688
surfdude12 surfdude12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
After reading your spoilers I am surprised you gave it a 3/5. Souns like a pass for me.
haha I know. I didn't expand on the "good" stuff because I figured it had already been done, so I see how it looked lobsided. The film was somewhat entertaining. The plotline about how they achieved their powers (in an underground well) was fascinating. But of course, that was never explored. What is this power? Is it E.T-based? An ancient religious site? Were they purposely given the power or by accident? If give the powers on purpose, for what reason? The script declined the opportunity at exploring these fascinating themes and plotlines in exchange for depressingly reducing the second half of the film down to the same old 101-teenybobber good guy/bad guy chase scene (with the essential summoned cops and NYC-backdrop), thereby once again reducing an up-until-then original script down to the 101-Hollywood-popcorn ending!
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:36 PM   #26689
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
haha I know. I didn't expand on the "good" stuff because I figured it had already been done, so I see how it looked lobsided. The film was somewhat entertaining. The plotline about how they achieved their powers (in an underground well) was fascinating. But of course, that was never explored. What is this power? Is it E.T-based? An ancient religious site? Were they purposely given the power or by accident? If give the powers on purpose, for what reason? The script declined the opportunity at exploring these fascinating themes and plotlines in exchange for depressingly reducing the second half of the film down to the same old 101-teenybobber good guy/bad guy chase scene (with the essential summoned cops and NYC-backdrop), thereby once again reducing an up-until-then original script down to the 101-Hollywood-popcorn ending!
Christopher Nolan would have answered all those questions.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:40 PM   #26690
surfdude12 surfdude12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foggy View Post
On the final note,
[Show spoiler]you see those dudes earlier in the film being pretty hostile towards him, it was some sort of revenge
and the apex predator is him getting at the idea that he's the
[Show spoiler]next advancement in the food chain and that he's on a whole new species, I gave the who subtext little thought because the dude had mental illness and it's only mentioned twice.
I sort of agree that they lay on sympathy a little too blatant, but then again, we would say he's a bit over reacting when he goes ape-shit if they toned it down a tad
ok that makes some sense now with the bullies, but he did take their $$, hence your "some sort of revenge" I guess I'd rather rob my former bully than Bank of America, even though BOA has $5million in the vault and my former bully only has $5 in his wallet? Hmmm wait a minute...

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Old 02-20-2012, 06:42 PM   #26691
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
haha I know. I didn't expand on the "good" stuff because I figured it had already been done, so I see how it looked lobsided. The film was somewhat entertaining. The plotline about how they achieved their powers (in an underground well) was fascinating. But of course, that was never explored. What is this power? Is it E.T-based? An ancient religious site? Were they purposely given the power or by accident? If give the powers on purpose, for what reason? The script declined the opportunity at exploring these fascinating themes and plotlines in exchange for depressingly reducing the second half of the film down to the same old 101-teenybobber good guy/bad guy chase scene (with the essential summoned cops and NYC-backdrop), thereby once again reducing an up-until-then original script down to the 101-Hollywood-popcorn ending!
I applauded the fact they didn't delve into what gave them the powers, it would only end the same way, except with the 3 teens fighting aliens/other superpowered force instead of each other. The plot looked at the characters instead of set pieces and really thought about how they would of re-acted if they did get the powers. I'm pretty sure if I got powers I wouldn't get all that bogged down by what it was that gave me them to a certain degree. Plus the format the film is being told in doesn't really lend itself to that plotline.
"Film lovers are sick people." - François Truffaut
[FADE TO BLACK]
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:43 PM   #26692
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
ok that makes some sense now with the bullies, but he did take their $$, hence your "some sort of revenge" I guess I'd rather rob my former bully than Bank of America, even though BOA has $5million in the vault and my former bully only has $5 in his wallet? Hmmm wait a minute...

Don't worry I definatly get what you meant, it's pretty logistical. Yet again as easy as it is to rob with powers, might as well pick up bits and pieces as you went along
"Film lovers are sick people." - François Truffaut
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:00 PM   #26693
surfdude12 surfdude12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foggy View Post
I applauded the fact they didn't delve into what gave them the powers, it would only end the same way, except with the 3 teens fighting aliens/other superpowered force instead of each other.
haha, so its either they fight aliens or each other? hmm I like option (c): they communicate with aliens/superpower force. they learn info about alien/force and themselves. they may or may not fight. they find out why they were or were not chosen. they make a decision what to do. etc etc. I don't need a fight - I need a point to what I'm watching.

Quote:
if I got powers I wouldn't get all that bogged down by what it was that gave me them to a certain degree.
assuming "what gave them to you" lets you use them freely. if you gave those powers out for a noble purpose, would you let some dumba$$ become a self-proclamed "apex predator"? nope. I'd call timeout and have a talk and give him a choice: do what I say or face consequences.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:07 PM   #26694
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Kicking off the second half of my 100 movies to see before you die:

51. Leon: The Professional (1994)
Crime, Drama, Thriller, 133 minutes (extended version)
Directed by Luc Besson
Starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman



Leon (Reno) is good at one thing: killing people. In other matters he's almost like a child. He can't read or write and he barely has enough skills to look after himself. He lives in an apartment building and hides away when he's not on a job.

Leon's neighbors include 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman), who lives with her drug-dealing father. When a corrupt cop (Oldman) murders her father and the rest of the family, Mathilda turns to Leon for help. This is where things start to get interesting. Although she's 12, Mathilda has more of an idea of how to survive in the real world than Leon. She offers to take care of him in return for protection and shelter. She also wants to learn how to kill people.

The premise is so unlikely, but it works. Leon teaches Mathilda the tricks of his trade. Some might find it inappropriate to watch a 12-year-old girl dealing with material of this nature, but Portman is superb in her first full-length feature. The two develop believable chemistry and love each other in some ways. The only other thing that Leon cares about is his beloved potted plant. The two are continually on the move to stay safe, so it's not much of a life for a young girl.

The movie works because of the strong relationship between Leon and Mathilda. It's interesting to watch her train and see the bond deepening between the two. Revenge is always on her mind and she tries to persuade Leon to kill the men responsible for murdering her family. The final showdown is intense and contains a lot of action for fans of that genre. But, unlike many action movies, we feel as if we know the main characters and we genuinely care what happens to them.

The Blu-ray contains the original 109-minute theatrical version and the extended 133-minute version. I recommend the latter to see the full extent of the relationship between Leon and Mathilda.

If you like Leon:

Luc Besson has been responsible for some good action films over the years; both as a writer and as a director. He was involved in the screenplay for Taken, starring Liam Neeson, which is one of the best action movies you'll ever see.

If your taste runs to foreign language movies, Besson directed La Femme Nikita, starring Anne Parillaud. After being sentenced to death, Nikita is offered a role as an assassin for the French government. Jean Reno also has a small role and the movie definitely has a similar feel to Leon.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:09 PM   #26695
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
haha, so its either they fight aliens or each other? hmm I like option (c): they communicate with aliens/superpower force. they learn info about alien/force and themselves. they may or may not fight. they find out why they were or were not chosen. they make a decision what to do. etc etc. I don't need a fight - I need a point to what I'm watching.



assuming "what gave them to you" lets you use them freely. if you gave those powers out for a noble purpose, would you let some dumba$$ become a self-proclamed "apex predator"? nope. I'd call timeout and have a talk and give him a choice: do what I say or face consequences.
Well first of all it is a Hollywood film, it HAS to end with a big action set piece. And the way they get there powers seems to happen by coincidence, they come across something that's crashed from space and they go and get super power radiation, it doesn't out and out tell you but that seems to be what the film was getting at. Plus apex predator dude gets a
[Show spoiler]spear to the heart at the end, so he does face the consequences
"Film lovers are sick people." - François Truffaut
[FADE TO BLACK]
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:32 PM   #26696
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Quote:
Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
haha, so its either they fight aliens or each other? hmm I like option (c): they communicate with aliens/superpower force. they learn info about alien/force and themselves. they may or may not fight. they find out why they were or were not chosen. they make a decision what to do. etc etc. I don't need a fight - I need a point to what I'm watching.
Why on Earth would you want it to be like that? That would be interesting for crying out loud.
Because Calamari Marionette Ph.D sounded pompous, that's why.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:52 PM   #26697
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52. The Lives of Others (2006)
Drama, Thriller, 137 minutes, German Language
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring Ulrich Muhe, Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck



Most of us have never grown up in a regime that denies us freedom of speech, freedom of thought, or freedom of belief. Those terms were part of my study material leading up to my Canadian citizenship test which I took in January. Now, after swearing an oath and becoming Canadian, I'm reminded how precious those freedoms are. If you were born in East Germany before the wall fell, or in other parts of Eastern Europe, you will understand how different life was just over 20 years ago.

The Lives of Others is set in East Germany in 1984 and it focuses on some of the freedoms I mentioned above. We see a man interrogating a prisoner sometime in his past, and then watch him teach the importance of the techniques to a class of students. He's an expert in human behavior and body language and can tell when someone is lying. He also notes subversive behavior throughout society, right down to the students in his class. He's Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler and he's a member of the Stasi; a government secret police force.

The story focuses on author Georg Dreyman (Koch) and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (Gedeck). Dreyman writes plays and one event in particular inspires him to write a book outlining the oppressive regime in East Germany. Put yourself in his situation for a moment. Who would you trust with your ideas? How would you try to get the book published in Western Europe?

Wiesler suspects something and thinks that Dreyman should be under surveillance, so he offers to supervise the operation himself. His team bug Dreyman's apartment and Wiesler listens from his hideaway in the roof of the building, writing daily activity reports on Dreyman and his associates.

As the story progresses, Wiesler starts to think about his role and the purpose of his life. He's following orders, but is he doing the right thing? One of the themes early in the movie is that people remain true to their nature, but what is Wiesler's true nature? And so begins a powerful story of an authors' fight to make his opinions known and the intervention of Wiesler.

The three main actors all give terrific performances, but it's Muhe as Wiesler who steals the show. Pay close attention to your own feelings as you watch this film and note what happens to your opinion of Wiesler. The Lives of Others is a realistic and moving account that will evoke strong emotions if you allow yourself to be drawn in. If you are worried about subtitled movies, this is one that deserves your attention so please don't let that stop you. I thoroughly enjoyed Pan's Labyrinth, but The Lives of Others rightly won the Oscar that year. It's one of the best foreign language films ever made.

If you like The Lives of Others:

I'm not going to suggest movies involving spying or secret government departments as there are plenty of those. Instead, I would consider watching Revanche. It's an intimate little film on a much smaller scale than The Lives of Others, but it closely examines the motivations of its characters. Some are obvious, but what isn't obvious is its conclusion. It shows how people make up their own minds about what matters most in life. The characters come to an unusual mutual understanding as a result. Like The Lives of Others, it's a German language film.

Last edited by Steve46; 02-20-2012 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:39 PM   #26698
surfdude12 surfdude12 is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve46 View Post
52. The Lives of Others (2006)

As the story progresses, Wiesler starts to think about his role and the purpose of his life. He's following orders, but is he doing the right thing? One of the themes early in the movie is that people remain true to their nature, but what is Wiesler's true nature?
the beauty of the script is that we don't know if Wiesler ends up doing what he does because
[Show spoiler]he has a change of heart and realizes the whole GDR system is overly-oppressive
or
[Show spoiler]he doesn't have a change of heart, he is an idealist Stasi soldier, sees this mission as the "farce" that it is (helping some fat politican get laid) and so intentionally sabotaged it because he sees it as improper use of Stasi resources


I'll be an optomist and go with the former
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:02 PM   #26699
Steve46 Steve46 is offline
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Originally Posted by surfdude12 View Post
the beauty of the script is that we don't know if Wiesler ends up doing what he does because
[Show spoiler]he has a change of heart and realizes the whole GDR system is overly-oppressive
or
[Show spoiler]he doesn't have a change of heart, he is an idealist Stasi soldier, sees this mission as the "farce" that it is (helping some fat politican get laid) and so intentionally sabotaged it because he sees it as improper use of Stasi resources


I'll be an optomist and go with the former
It gets better with subsequent viewings.

I love
[Show spoiler]"remember your audience", the red thumbprint and the last line of the film, "It is for me."
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:51 PM   #26700
KilloWertz KilloWertz is offline
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Kicking off the second half of my 100 movies to see before you die:

51. Leon: The Professional (1994)
Crime, Drama, Thriller, 133 minutes (extended version)
Directed by Luc Besson
Starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman



[Show spoiler]Leon (Reno) is good at one thing: killing people. In other matters he's almost like a child. He can't read or write and he barely has enough skills to look after himself. He lives in an apartment building and hides away when he's not on a job.

Leon's neighbors include 12-year-old Mathilda (Portman), who lives with her drug-dealing father. When a corrupt cop (Oldman) murders her father and the rest of the family, Mathilda turns to Leon for help. This is where things start to get interesting. Although she's 12, Mathilda has more of an idea of how to survive in the real world than Leon. She offers to take care of him in return for protection and shelter. She also wants to learn how to kill people.

The premise is so unlikely, but it works. Leon teaches Mathilda the tricks of his trade. Some might find it inappropriate to watch a 12-year-old girl dealing with material of this nature, but Portman is superb in her first full-length feature. The two develop believable chemistry and love each other in some ways. The only other thing that Leon cares about is his beloved potted plant. The two are continually on the move to stay safe, so it's not much of a life for a young girl.

The movie works because of the strong relationship between Leon and Mathilda. It's interesting to watch her train and see the bond deepening between the two. Revenge is always on her mind and she tries to persuade Leon to kill the men responsible for murdering her family. The final showdown is intense and contains a lot of action for fans of that genre. But, unlike many action movies, we feel as if we know the main characters and we genuinely care what happens to them.

The Blu-ray contains the original 109-minute theatrical version and the extended 133-minute version. I recommend the latter to see the full extent of the relationship between Leon and Mathilda.

If you like Leon:

Luc Besson has been responsible for some good action films over the years; both as a writer and as a director. He was involved in the screenplay for Taken, starring Liam Neeson, which is one of the best action movies you'll ever see.

If your taste runs to foreign language movies, Besson directed La Femme Nikita, starring Anne Parillaud. After being sentenced to death, Nikita is offered a role as an assassin for the French government. Jean Reno also has a small role and the movie definitely has a similar feel to Leon.
Uh oh, now there's a whole three movies from your list that I can give the thumbs up to. At least from ones I remember.
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