Archive for the “2000” Category


April 4, 2009
Netflix DVD
121 Minutes
Action / Sci-Fi / Sport / Thriller
Kinji Fukasaku

Could You Kill Your Best Friend?

In the near future, a class of teenagers is chosen by lottery to be stranded on a remote island and given three days in which to kill one another until only one survives.

“Bracing, violent, blackly humorous satire on the bleaker aspects of modern society that manages to be more than merely an excuse for a killing spree” — Halliwell’s Film Guide 2008

** Halliwell’s
8.0 IMDB

Battle Royale @ Amazon


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September 21, 2008
Netflix DVD
Italy / USA
Italian / Sicilian / English / Latin
92 Minutes (USA Version) — December 25, 2000
Comedy / Drama / Romance / War
Giuseppe Tornatore [Cinema Paradiso]
Monica Bellucci [Bram Stoker's Dracula; Irreversible; The Matrix Reloaded]

An Intimate Portrait And An Epic Story Of The Courage We Discover, The Innocence We Surrender, And The Memories We Cherish…Forever.

In Sicily in the early 1940s, a beautiful woman, who loses her husband in the war, is the object of an adolescent’s day dreams.

From the man who brought us perhaps the most nostalgic film of all time, CINEMA PARADISO, a movie I love with all of my naive heart. Take a look at the tagline above. He tries to have lightening strike twice. “The memories we cherish forever”?

This lightweight story is about a small Italian fishing village as Mussolini rises to power just before World War II. A young teenager named Renato is our surrogate for this film. We will grow up with him and experience life in Italy with him. The film opens with him receiving a new bicycle which seems to be the entry fee into a group of older boys who hang out together. He follows them one day as they race to a seawall, sit on it, and wait. His questions are all answered as Malena walks out of her house, past the panting boys, towards the market. As she passes, we actually get to see Renato’s shorts get tighter.

The entire story revolves around a woman whose husband is fighting for the Italian army. This woman is so beautiful that the rest of the village goes completely bonkers. Rumors spread, men declare their love, women spit on her, boys climb trees to peer into her house, German occupiers pay to sleep with her–all while she pines for her beloved.

In order to pull off a story like this, the woman needs to be almost supernaturally beautiful. Beautiful enough to become the obsession not just of an adolescent boy (which is comparably easy), but the obsession of an entire region of Italy, as well as male and female viewers, alike. There are maybe five women on the planet who could inspire such a response. Monica Bellucci is absolutely one of them.

From the moment we see her sashaying by the group of boys, we are goners. She is a work of art. From that point on, there is not a single thing that happens in this unevenly toned film that seems out of place. A beautiful woman can make people do unbelievable things. I would say that Bellucci would probably lead any number of global villages to cease to function as societies were she to show up in one of her cleavage-baring dresses.

Beyond that, there isn’t much here. The character of the boy is a pretty realistic portrayal of someone who is protecting the thing he loves without telling the object of his affection. He spies on her, he dreams about her, he masturbates to her, she shows up in his daydreams as a teacher, or butcher, and he writes unsent letter to her declaring his love and that he’ll always be around to protect her. It’s probably a uniquely male thing to do, to create a fantasy world where you have a relationship with someone you’ve never spoken to, where you defend someone who doesn’t know your name, where you know that if she would just talk with you once, she’d be as convinced about your compatibility as you are. This is hard to portray on film, so it falls back on flashes of breasts and on the incredible face of Ms. Bellucci.

Because I am a straight male, I needed to do further research on Ms. Bellucci and was shocked and horrified to find that the version of MALENA that I saw on DVD, while rated R (deservedly), had more than ten minutes cut from it, including several more scenes of seduction and nudity. The horror!

I am now firmly on the Bellucci bandwagon. To fans of hers I say, skip IRREVERSIBLE as you may never recover from what you see in it. I am also incredibly happy that she is roaring into her 40s as beautiful as ever.

The film, in a nutshell is about a woman so beautiful that a village goes bonkers. Don’t look for anything deeper than that.

* Halliwells — “Teenage fantasies of sexual success conflict with the realities of political failure and personal humiliation in this engaging fable that shows the influence of Fellini.”
5.4 Metacritic
7.4 IMDB
** Ebert
*** Berardinelli
B- Gleiberman

Malena @ Amazon


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September 6, 2008
Netflix Roku Download
75 Minutes
Vicky Funari & Julia Query

A bit long, even at a brisk 75 minutes. Story of strip club and their efforts to unionize against the wishes of the pretty-progressive-thinking female management. Only in San Francisco. Basically a labor struggle with boobs as an added attraction.

6.2 Metacritic
6.5 IMDB


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November 17, 2002

Camera Cinema Club



It’s a bit hard to describe this one. No matter who you are reading this, I would like you to go see this film, support it, show it the love and care it deserves. The fact that it takes place on a farm is no reason to go in with pre-conceived ideas.

The truth is, this film could take place anywhere. It is about a widower and his two sons living in a small Nebraska farm town, how they interact with each other and the town, and how secrets can eventually tear apart families, or bring them together.

Anson Mount plays the cocky brother, Tully. He is so good-looking that men, women, animals alike are charmed by him. As are we in the audience. He has a roster of town girls he sleeps with, he assumes everyone would like a chance to mess around with him, and he has never needed to actually communicate with women in order to spend time with them. Glenn Fitzgerald plays Earl, the geekier, quieter brother who raises award-winning cows and shares secrets with the local veterinary student, Ella, played with swooning attractiveness by Julianne Nicholson. Bob Burrus plays the father perfectly. He is all leathery skin and infrequent speech, like you might imagine an old farmer acts. He spends nights in his workshop, fixing things and hiding out in his loneliness.

Nicholson is a sight to behold. She’s tomboyish and freckle-faced. She understands each of these men in ways they probably don’t understand themselves. She is probably the best friend of Earl, and she knows exactly how to get playboy Tully to spend time with her.

The dialogue is normal. That is the biggest compliment I can give it. The characters talk like real people. They don’t over-explain things, as movies are want to do, so that the dumbest in the audience knows what is happening at every second. People often interact with each other without saying anything. Characters who are alone, do not talk to themselves, explaining what they’re thinking. When Ella rides her bike over with tears in her eyes, she doesn’t say “I’m sad because….”, when Tully offers her companionship, under the guise of doing errands, he doesn’t say “Please tell me what happened” he just puts her in the car with him. Tully goes to a favorite spot alone, Ella goes to her favorite swimming hole, Earl escapes to the movies, and the father parks his truck and enjoys his weekly Pabst six-pack. None of these scenes require dialogue. We don’t need to know what they’re thinking about. We can see how they’re feeling, knowing what exactly is going through their minds will not increase our enjoyment of any scenes, they will simply ring less true.

That is the biggest selling point for this film. The character interactions are realistic. The clerk at the grocery store who cherishes the three minutes she spends a week with the father. The stripper who sleeps with and then claims Tully’s body as hers alone. The way the two brothers can be fighting one minute, and teaming up the next. All of these things are the way life is really lived.

Add to this the beautifully shot fields of the plains, the simple pleasures of a waterhole, or french fries at the Dairy Queen, or a slow walk through the crops, and we see captured on screen the slow, but fulfilling pace of life on a farm. And I’m making these statements based on a video-projected VHS copy that we were forced to watch, due to Fed Ex losing our print. After about five minutes, the quality of the projection was completely lost as I entered this film’s world.

The story involves the possible foreclosure of the farm due to debts that no one anticipated. But rest assured, this is not one of those big-guy-against-the-family-farm films, nor is it one of those “Aw, look at the poor, backward farm folks who don’t have Playstations.” It treats the townspeople and the way of life with respect.

The plot has secrets that are revealed one by one, but they are just icing on this beautiful cake. It is really saying something when a film would have been just as enjoyable, had the revelations not even been a part of it.

Again, the fact that the film takes place on a farm is really inconsequential.

Nicholson is something to see here. And so is this film. Let it wash over you.


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Written by Michael W. Cummins