Category Archives: movies

Unleashing minimal ass-kicking

I do expect a certain amount of ass kicking from a Jet Li movie. I do think that is a reasonable expectation to have based on his previous work. So Unleashed really bummed me out. I should have known that it wouldn’t be so great, since it does feature Jet Li being turned into a human pitbull by Bob Hoskins. Morgan Freeman is his usual sage-like self and Hoskins is quite funny. Where the movie totally lost me was in the long rehabilitation interlude where Danny (Jet Li) experiences normal human life for the first time. Jet Li is a great physical actor, so I wouldn’t have minded a scene or two of him experiencing ice cream for the first time or learning how to use a spoon, but far too much of the movie was taken up with Danny’s emotional growth at the expense of the ass kicking. Jet Li should just be punching more people! Or hitting them with sledgehammers! A good Jet Li move should have some punching, or an explosion, or an extended awesome training sequence, or a car chase, or more punching every 10-15 minutes!!!!! There was not enough martial arts in this movie. Instead of paying money to see this movie, I would reccomend seeing Kung-Fu Hustle, and then sneak into the theater showing Unleashed so you can see the final fight sequence (which was great). One great final fight sequence doesn’t make up in my mind for the lack of Jet Li punching things throughout the rest of the movie.

I’m also feeling rather adrift because Jet Li and Jackie Chan are getting so old. Where can we look to for some decent martial arts movies? I’m really hoping that Ong Bak is going to help get more Thai movies distributed, and I really really hope that Tony Jaa is learning some English. Because I want to watch action movies with more action!!!!!!!!!!!! MORE ACTION!!!!!!

Kingdom of Heaven

Was ok. I think you know what you’re going to get when you see a Ridley Scott historical epic. Plenty of big battles, jerky camera, slow motion fighting and blood spurting. I’m not sure if Orlando Bloom, decorative as he is, really had the charisma to pull of his role. He’s fine when killing people, but for all the scenes that called him to look off into the distance being pensive he just seemed rather blank. I found the whole love subplot between Balian and Sibylla to be wholly uninteresting and boring. On the upside, there were plenty of epic battles, and I do love some epic battle!

i ♥ stephen chow

I ♥ Kung-Fu Hustle! It is a little bit more bloody and just as cartoony as Shaolin Soccer. There were some scenes that were a Looney Tunes short come to life. Stephen Chow makes fun of American blockbusters like Spiderman and the Matrix. Tons of actors from Sholin Soccer appear in the movie. A bunch of unlikely kung-fu masters from the poor section of town fend of the evil Axe Gang, but the plot of this movie doesn’t really matter so much because it is packed with hilarious kung-fu action. I loved this movie and I want to see it again!

Shaolin and more Bollywood Austen

New Legend of Shaolin Jet Li and his sidekick son are on the run after their village has been destroyed. They end up saving 5 kids and meeting a thieving mother and daughter who also know kung-fu. Jet Li’s main weapon in this movie is a spear, and there are a bunch of fab fight scenes, mixed with the occasional bit of comedy. It is a good movie to watch if you like Jet Li (and who doesn’t?) but be prepared for a wacky looking bad guy with a very strange “car”.

I Have Found It (Kandukondain Kandukondain) is a Bollywood adapation of Sense and Sensibility set in contemporary India. Aishwarya Rai who had the Elizabeth Bennet role in Bride and Prejudice plays the Marianne Dashwood role in I Have Found It. The soundtrack is great, the storyline of the novel does get shifted around, but it is a good adaptation. Bride and Prejudice was a bit uneven in tone, because I think sometimes the Bollywood elements were taken seriously and at other times that aspect of the movie got watered down a bit. But since I Have Found It is a real Bollywood movie instead of Bollywood lite, it is much more cohesive. Our heroine will have a minimum of 4 costume changes per song! People will start singing and suddenly be transported to Egypt! Suddenly someone will start singing and be surrounded by backup dancers! In sailor outfits! I enjoyed this movie, if you like Jane Austen and Bollywood movies check it out.

daylight savings ennui

I hate losing an hour! I was feeling tired all last week (I worked 2 evening shifts, which was a little exhausting) and I taught a bunch of classes too. I always get weary of teaching a couple weeks before I’m all done for the semester. I have a few classes this week and next week and then I’m all done.

One admirable habit of the future Mr. Tangognat is that he sometimes sends me gift cards to bookstores — so today I hit Borders, they were having a buy 2 graphic novels get 1 free sale, and I ended up picking up one of the new Sin City trades, xxxHOLIC #4, Tusbasa #4, and Saikano #1. And I ended up paying .94 cents thanks to the sale and giftcard. Wooooo!

I went to see Sin City, and walked out feeling exhilarated and numb at the same time. Visually it was stunning, I haven’t read any of the comics before but it did seem like Frank Miller’s idea of ‘noir’ was amped up so much it verged into self parody at times. Clive Owen certainly makes being covered in tar look very very very good, Elijah Wood was quite creepy, and Mickey Rourke was great.

3 subtitled movies

So this was a big knitting and veg-out weekend for me! This is what I watched:

The Emperor and the Assassin – I’ve seen Farewell My Concubine, but somehow I missed seeing this movie which takes place in the third century before China was unified during the warring states period. Lady Zhao (Gong Li) and the King of Qin plot an excuse to go to war against the kingdom of Han. Lady Zhao will convince the Prince of Han to send an assassin kill the King, thus giving the King a perfect excuse to invade Han. As you would expect, this is a gorgeous epic, and you see the effects of power change the relationships between characters, causing loyalties to shift.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – My little sister suggested that I see this. I think the only other Bollywood movie I’ve seen is Lagaan, Bride and Prejudice is probably more Bollywood-lite than anything else. The first part of the film introduces Rahul, a widower, and his daughter Anjali. Although his wife (Tina) died shortly after she gave birth she managed to write 8 letters to her baby before she died, and her daughter is able to read a new letter on each birthday. In the eighth and final letter Anjali learns that when her father was in college his best friend was a tomboyish girl named Anjali, who loved her father. Tina, Rahul and Anjali were all friends although Rahul was of course oblivious to Anjali’s feelings and feel in love with Tina.
The first part of the movie is an extended flashback to college in the 80s, it had a bit of a Grease feel, except with more neon and the occasional fanny pack. The second half of the movie deals with little Anjali’s determination to find the perfect wife for her father. It ends up being a little like the Parent Trap, except without twins. I don’t really have a feel for the whole Bollywood aesthetic, because I get the sense that Lagaan might have toned down some of the usual excess. I’m guessing that Kuch Kuch Hota Hai might be a little more typical, the acting style sometimes reminded me of silent movies because it is very broad and there is so much emphasis on expressing emotions wordlessly. I guess if you don’t have a tolerence for extreme cheesiness and musical numbers, this type of movie is not for you. I don’t really mind cheese or singing and dancing, so I did enjoy this movie. I’m starting to think that more western movies should have a massive choreographed song and dance routine where people get pelted with floweres whenever anyone gets engaged or married. It just seems like the thing to do!!!!!

After Life – This was my favorite movie out of the three that I watched this weekend. I’d seen Kore-Eda’s Marboroshi years ago, but I didn’t manage to catch After Life when it was showing in movie theaters. In after life a group of people arrive at an ordinary building. They are assigned counsellors, who tell them that they can pick only one memory to take into the afterlife. Their chosen memory will be recreated, and after they relive their memory, they will forget everything else and move on into the afterlife. Kore-Eda’s movies have a slow-paced meditative style. The camera will frequently linger on elements like a chair and desk, an ordinary flower pot, the moon, or a room right after a character has left it. The plot develops slowly as you listen to people talk about their past lives in an attempt to pick their one defining memory. How is personality constructed by one’s experiences, and how are memories shaped? Revelations gradually unfold as the counsellors also share details of their lives with the people they are interviewing.

Isabella, Filenes, and Bollywood Jane

Well, my Mom and my little sister and my stepfather are in the Boston area scoping out east coast colleges. Today we went to two major attractions of Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Filene’s Basement. The Gardner museum was stuffed full of so much stuff, I started feeling a little dizzy after walking through only a couple rooms, because I wasn’t sure where to rest my eyes. I hadn’t been to the museum before because usually when people visit me, I’m still working during the day so they tend to do more sight-seeing stuff when I’m not around.

After doing some shopping we went to see Bride and Prejudice, which I enjoyed because it isn’t too often that you see a movie so unabashedly cheesy. It was fun seeing elements from Pride and Prejudice reflected in the Indian setting. There were a couple familiar actors from American TV — Alexis Bledel pops up briefly as Georgina Darcy and Naveen Andrews (Sayid on Lost) plays the Mr. Bingley role. I can see why some of the reviews of the movie said that the Bollywood elements were a little off, because some of the musical numbers could have been a little more over the top. It was still a really cute movie.