Monday, February 4, 2008

What's its like to kill someone?

“Nothing!! It feels like Nothing.”

says the disturbed man - Jim played by Christian Bale, the next two hours of your will be highly uncomfortable with this great actor.

Critics don't like his accent, can't differentiate with R's with S's, but surely he makes you understand the man inside him. A highly stressed man, who has just returned from the Gulf War and the last psychotic seizure while they are driving down from Mexico dominates "Harsh Times. I was so scared from that ride, you would surely want it to end right away, well, the film ends after 10 min. A predictable end but it is not the end which is important. How Ayer spinned the whole issue and showed you the disintegration of two characters within the space of 2 hours is what is worth seeing in the film.

The streets are filled with violence, drugs and prostitute, reminds me of "Taxi Driver", but here is a man, who feels killing is nothing. He is not a colorful anti-hero; he's a frightening one. Those who demand a connection between the audience and a film's main character will not relate to what Harsh Times has to offer. Here is a difficult character to understand.

The Job hunt by Bale and the other promising actor Freddy Rodriguez playing Mike gives you this uncanny feel of just roaming around the city can be dangerous. You sometimes just can shut the world around you, in the beginning it seems that these two characters are out there to change his world, a city they call their own.

Mexico looks like this abode of peace where you get drugs and booze but with no trouble attached. As soon as they head back for the city, the uncomfortable phase sets in.

Ayer here is talking in two languages. Difficult to understand, but if you like "Taxi Driver", there is a less chance you will not like this film.

My Rating: 7/10

Harsh Times (2005)

Director:David Ayer

Writer (WGA):David Ayer (written by)

Christian Bale ... Jim Luther Davis
Freddy Rodríguez ... Mike Alonzo
Eva Longoria Parker ... Sylvia (as Eva Longoria)
Chaka Forman ... Toussant

Camera (Deluxe color, Super 16/35mm/DV-to-35mm), Steve Mason; editor, Conrad Buff; music, Graeme Revell; music supervisor, John Houlihan; production designer, Devorah Herbert; art director, Morgan Blackledge; set decorator, Ann Cummings; costume designer, Michele Michel; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Lori Dovi; supervising sound editor, Piero Mura; line producer, Michael Crawford; associate producers, Paul Barreras, Roberta Gorski; assistant director, Arturo Guzman; second unit camera, Christopher C. Pearson; casting, Mary Vernieu, Shalimar Reodica. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation), Sept. 11, 2005. Running time: 120 MIN.


Jim Davis (Christian Bale) goes away to participate in the Gulf War. He's back in South Central L.A., looking for a job. He has a pal named Mike (Freddy Rodriguez), and his Mexican girlfriend, Marta (Tammy Trull).Jim and Mike go out for a drive, ostensibly looking for jobs. This is a source of concern for Mike's live-in lover, Sylvia (Eva Longoria). She wants Mike to find employment but doesn't trust Jim. When Jim's application to become an L.A. police officer is rejected after he fails his psychological profile, he spends the day hanging out with Mike, drinking, doing drugs, and committing petty crimes to get a few dollars. Eventually, the Department of Homeland Security shows interest in Jim but Mike is no closer to getting a job and he is becoming more enmeshed in Jim's self-destructive web.

Skin is what draws the line in the sand

A film which braves to speak to you rather than showing to you. Reminds me of HOTEL RWANDA and you contrast it with IN MY COUNTRY, the director braves to show so little but speak so much in form of stories told over and over again and every defendant getting off saying "I was just doing my duty".

Something which is unimaginable in any other parts of the world hallowed with a slithered past, 'ubuntu' seems to be inspiration on which reconciliation is based in South Africa. Its 1995 in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings -- agents, torturers and other apartheid personnel were brought face to face with the families of their victims, and, upon giving truthful confession of their crimes, could be granted amnesty.

The past is revisited, but not recreated in visuals, it is only told before the commission, the commission takes to the interiors of the country and how do the people keep a tab on the stories? - By listening to the radio, the radio broadcaster-Juliete Binoche, a poet and radio journalist who supports the trials—although they are hard on her as she feels increasingly guilty for her ignorance of (and her family's complicity in) the government-sanctioned torture and murder.

Samual L. Jackson also enters the arena with his own baggage of preconceived notions and for him the very presence of Juliete in the commission is repulsive until he takes her to the bed to find out the real reason.

The film has some great drama particularly when Samual L. Jackson visits Juliete's home and the film falls off weight going into the inner dynamics of their relationship and how truth can never be buried off for ever, even in a relationship. Juliete also presents herself into reconciliation with her husband by facing the truth. Well, the truth is bitter, so is the aftertaste after you finish the film

My rating: 6/10

Country of my skull (2004)

John Boorman

Writers (WGA):Antjie Krog (book)
Ann Peacock (screenplay)

Samuel L. Jackson ... Langston Whitfield
Juliette Binoche ... Anna Malan
Brendan Gleeson ... De Jager

Basic Plotline:John Boorman's "In My Country" is set at the time of the commission's hearings, and stars Samuel L. Jackson as Langston Whitfield, a Washington Post reporter covering the story, and Juliette Binoche as Anna Malan, a white Afrikaaner who is doing daily broadcasts for the South African Broadcasting Company. As the commission and its caravan of press and support staff travel rural areas, Whitfield and Malan find themselves in disagreement about the Commission, but strongly attracted to each other.

An Odd melodrama

An American beauty turned teen thriller with American pie popping the virginal quest heralding the Beethoven symphonies strumming the binomial piano sting leading to a murder. This film just doesn’t know where it is leading the viewers. Dot played by Camilla Belle is a deaf who is not a deaf, Martin Donovan playing the father who screws his daughter Elisa Cuthbert how acts and overacts and sometimes doesn't know if she can act at all. The finale rape scene while her mother Edie Falco pops away her drug dream.

The dysfunctional family just gets better, Katy Mixon playing the role of Nina's cheerleader pal and best friend talk’s non stop about fucks, dicks and nipples - ala American pie which incidentally later starts aiming towards Oscar honors.

What exactly is wrong about the film and or what can be the best part of the film. Well, the cinematography is definitely great, so is the soundtrack, but everything else just falls flat, simply too much melodrama in the film.

The only great part of the film I think is worth mentioning is the narration of Dot, who keeps comparing her life's misguided truths with Beethoven which is surprisingly just a part of the film which in coherence with the rest of the plot doesn’t make sense.

The inner berating of a deaf girl and how she handles adolescence is worth watching in the film, but his part is just a string in the piano which is torn out for the last murder act, everything else is a cinematic error proportional to dipping the script in all kinds of potions to make it shine.

Please avoid this film, simply because we are already so confused in life, Dare not make it anymore complicated.


MY rating: 4/10


Jamie Babbit

Writers (WGA):Abdi Nazemian (written by) &
Micah Schraft (written by)

Elisha Cuthbert ... Nina Deer
Camilla Belle ... Dot
Edie Falco ... Olivia Deer
Martin Donovan ... Paul Deer
Shawn Ashmore ... Connor

Basic Plotline:
Following the death of her widowed father, Dot (Camilla Belle) is taken in by her adoptive godparents, Paul (Martin Donovan) and Olivia (Edie Falco) Deer. Deaf and silent since age 7 when her mother died, Dot is sullen and introspective. She is treated like a freak by the Deers' hostile daughter
Nina (Elisha Cuthbert), whose poisonous behavior goes unchecked by mom and dad. As Dot quietly observes her new environment, it soon becomes apparent that the Deers are not the Cleavers. Decorator Olivia is a pill-popping zombie, while Paul regularly pops Nina, phoning her at school to ask, "Are you wearing your cheerleader outfit?"

Pretty soon, everyone is unburdening their secrets to Dot, who has secrets of her own. Nina wants to kill dad (her vengeful love-hate feelings almost find an outlet in a steam-iron incident), Paul acknowledges that he's sick and needs help, while poor Olivia just wants the right wallpaper.

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