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Monday, July 22, 2019

Contagion (2011)


At best this is a tense, powerful look at the worldwide paranoia that results when a lethal virus begins to spread; at worst it is a jumpy, conjolted attempt to bring a fresh look to an exhausted sub-genre. Steven Soderbergh returns to the similar star-powered, collage-like storytelling style that he used with such grace in his award-winning film, Traffic (2000). He is unable to recreate that success because of a plot that is far too busy to allow us any emotional attachment to its characters which ruins the humanism that Soderbergh tries so hard to establish.

The Kid with a Bike (2011)


Films that embrace the use of subtle storytelling have the duty of attaching audiences completely with the emotion of the characters. Directors Jean-Piree and Luc Dardenne give us the characters, but only brief tastes of their heart and soul. One can help but think of Vittorio De Sica's subtle masterpiece Bicycle Thieves (1948) while watching this film. Both passionately utilize realism and tell stories of the desperation of human nature. The Dardenne brothers capture the realism, but what is realism if we are not convinced what we are watching really matters?

Boy Wonder (2011)


Boy Wonder is Michael Morrissey's thrilling debut film that has gotten little attention, I went into it with a bare minimum idea of what it was about and I what I got was one of the most exhilarating experiences of the year. Morrissey is a devilishly deceptive director, this film has the look of a straight forward revenge thriller but as the film progresses layers of psychological destruction are unleashed.

The Help (2011)


For a film about so much struggle, The Help flows too smoothly and much of it feels like it has been done before. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett and set in Jackson, Mississippi at the height of the civil rights movement during the early 1960s. Director/writer Tate Taylor handles his subject without giving us anything new; just another dramatized, inconsistency characterized Hollywood civil rights vehicle. Like countless other Hollywood pieces dealing with sensitive racial subjects, this film is full of forced emotion.

The Ides of March (2011)

I am a harsh skeptic when it comes to political thrillers, it is far too easy for dramatic stories about the corrupted nature of today's politics to be made, yet we rarely get one that feels honest (how ironic). But this film is different, it digs deep into the corrupted nature of politicians and the unfortunate people who get hurt when "the shit hits the fan." George Clooney directs this tense, chilling portrayal of modern day American politics.

Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, a young, optimistic campaign manager who has naive hope and confidence in his candidate, Mike Morris, and of politics in general. Gosling delivers his second great performance of the year, he plays his role with a chilling calmness as his character's moral values are challenged and twisted. This performance is equal, perhaps even better, than his other great performance in the film noirish thriller, Drive. George Clooney plays Mike Morris, a likable candidate who at face-value seems to be the perfect person to become to support and become next president, but as the story unravels we get a hash lesson of why nobody is ever what they seem. A wonderful supply of strong supporting performances featuring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. George Clooney deserves his award season nominations for his direction, this film is meticulously plotted and the brutally honest portrayal of today's politics that we need, but only get once or twice a year.

Midnight in Paris (2011)

A delightful dose of wonderfully imaginative nostalgia. Woody Allen makes it look effortless. Owen Wilson plays Gil Pender, a Hollywood script writer who is working on his first novel which is about a man who works at a nostalgia shop. Wilson seems like he would have been an odd choice, he is known for his outgoing, charming roles in silly rom-coms, but here brings his irresistible charm to a more serious and completely un-formulaic film. His performance isn't going to steal your heart and won't win any awards, but it is still a good, satisfying lead performance by an actor who should show off his real talents more often. Gil and his fiancé, played by Rachel McAdams, travel to Paris for business reasons and to prepare for their wedding. One night while wandering the streets of Paris, at the stroke of midnight Gil is swept away by an early 20th century can and thrown right in the midst of his dream decade, the 20s, in a Paris inhabited by the great literary and artistic minds. He befriends Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and is smitten by Parisian beauty Adriana who just happens to be having an affair with Pablo Picasso. Marion Cotillard plays Adriana, a classical beauty who puts all other women to shame. Her performance is the depth of this film, she is a lover who is trampled on by love, her fragile personality is adorable.

At midnight each night, Gil spends as much time as possible indulging himself in all the gloriousness of the 20s only to return to the present the next day. As his trips to the 20s become more frequent he begins to let it effect his normal life which causes him and his fiancé to begin to drift apart. But as his meets an endless supply of early 20th century culture figures that also includes Salvador Dali - played hilariously by Adrien Brody - he also begins to learn from their views and outlooks on life. The way the film comes together is a bit abrupt, but nothing that should bother anyone. Through Adriana, Gil sees a lot of himself, dissatisfaction with the time periods they were born in and trying to live in other time periods to escape those dissatisfactions, and he comes to understand that no time period is the best, all are great for reasons of their own.

Not once does this film stop being an absolute joy to watch and you can see Allen having such fun with his idea. This film may not be that emotionally deep, but it wants nothing more than to be clever, original, and entertaining and Allen is all of that. Not to say that there isn't depth here. A nostalgic exploring story crafted gracefully with easily the best script of the year that mixes historical personalties, time periods, and creates colorful characters all at once. Woody Allen is at yet another peak in his work.

Hesher (2011)


Hesher is an empty shell of a film which has an outlook on life reminiscent of an angsty teen trying to be as loud and crude as possible. The strength of the performances are diluted down by brash outbursts of hate and a complete abundance of sentimentality. Here is film about sadness and dealing with loss that rarely gives us any heart or sympathy for its suffering characters, and when it does its anarchic, hate-fueled aggression once again ruins the moment. Simply put, this is one of the most unsatisfying films I have seen all year long.

Dogville (2003)

Dogville (2003) - A women takes refuge in a poverty-striken small town in the Rocky Mountains to escape gangsters who are hunting her. To stay in the town she must gain the towns people's trust, which she does easily, but the real struggle is to keep the conflicting morals and ideals of this desperate town at bay. Using a stage-like set where we are able to see all the goings on of the town at all times, Lars von Trier allows us to make our own decisions about the town of Dogville and its inhabitants reactions and decisions when facing adversity. By the end of the film when it is time for the final decision to be made all of your views or morality, tolerance, and forgiveness will be put to the test. Another brilliant film by von Trier.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

A heartbreaking story of truly forbidden love. Enis del Mar and Jack Twist fall in love, but a ignorant world makes them fear and hide their love. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give two of the greatest performances in the last twenty years. Brokeback Mountain is about two gay cowboys, that statement alone will turn many heads and cause many offensive comments. But Brokeback Mountain is much more than a film about gay cowboys. It is a film about a struggle, the struggle two gay men are faced with. The love between Jack and Enis is pure. Their love is so true and so powerful, but because they are gay they must hide in the shadows. Ang Lee's direction is emotionally haunting. Viewers that are able to see this movie for what it truly is will understand how wonderful this film is. Brokeback Mountain is an film filled with A-list actors like, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams. Each one of the young stars in this film have performances that will forever be remembered.

Brokeback Mountain is a fearless look into the 20 year love affair/struggle of two gay men spanning from the early 60s to the early 80s. The film is set mostly in Wyoming, an area that has always been a very anti-gay area. The film references the shockingly violent reactions to homosexuality in the area, and how it affects Jack and Enis' relationship. People spend their whole lives, and many ultimately fail at finding true love. Jack and Enis find true love but because it is with each other, it is forbidden, and their lives turn into a constant battle with their emotions.

Ang Lee gained worldwide acclaim for his sensational directing in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Brokeback Mountain is a complete 180 degree turn from those days, but is also a whole new achievement. One of the most beautifully shot films in the last 20 years. But a film cannot run completely of emotionally powerful direction, for a film to be great it needs strong acting. Highly emotional viewers please beware Brokeback Mounting is a emotional freight train. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall as the leads become household names. Both Ledger and Gyllenhaal gain recognition from very memorable, and entertaining performances. Ledger rose to fame as a result of his rebellious performance in 10 Things I Hate About You. Gyllenhaal gained international fame from his lead performance in the dark Sci-Fi thriller Donnie Darko. Ledger and Gyllenhaal have grown a lot since then, and in Brokeback Mountain their performances are two of the greatest ever.

                  Potential Spoilers
Enis del Mar (Heath Ledger) is a ranch hand, and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a rodeo cowboy. They are hired by Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to herd his cattle on Brokeback Mountain. Both Enis and Jack develop a very emotional relationship during their time on Brokeback Mountain. Their trip is cut short. Ennis marries his long-time fiancee Alma Beers (Michelle Williams) and fathers two children. Jack marries and starts a family with rodeo rider Laureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). When the two meet again two years later they realize that they still have very strong feelings for each other. The decide to not keep a secret relationship. As the years go on their love becomes more and more of a struggle.

While its plot was controversial that did not keep people from flocking to see Brokeback Mountain when it came out. The film was a box office success making over 150 million worldwide. With Brokeback Mountain drawing in that many viewers, that definitely showed some significant maturing on our part. But controversy kept the film banned in many theaters across the U.S. and in various parts of the world. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. Unfortunately it was upset by the also controversial film Crash, that referenced modern day racism. Brokeback Mountain did win three Oscars, including Best Director for Ang Lee.

A wonderful adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story by the same name. Brokeback Mountain was nominated for over 70 awards winning over 50. It gained worldwide acclaim, and there is no denying the shear emotional power in this film. Emotion is needed in any great film, and many have suffered because of its lack. Each and every person involved in this film went out of their comfort zone and had to go to emotional extremes to play their parts. Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway were both known for their smaller and more comedic roles before this film. With Brokeback Mountain, they both were able to show off they acting talents, showing the world they have endless talents and range. I could ramble and gawke over the acting power and direction, but the experience is what will truly let the viewer understand the significance. Ang Lee's direction captures the emotion, but it is Ledger and Gyllenhaal that made Brokeback Mountain one of the most unforgetable emotional experiences.

Black Swan (2010)

The perfect psychological-thriller to end the decade. Nina Sayers is a dedicated dancer who works with a prestigous ballet company in New York City. She is played with shocking passion by Natalie Portman in a role of a lifetime, and she doesn't disappoint. Nina's dream is to be the Swan Queen in the production of Swan Lake, but when her dream comes true her mental state slowly crumbles. What makes Black Swan so irresistably powerful and shocking is the Darren Aronofsky's overpowering direction. Aronofsky is able to use excessiveness for the entire film to allow us viewers to feel just as overpowered as Nina's character.

As the Swan Queen, Nina must be able to embody both the White and Black Swan. French actor Vincent Cassell plays Thomas Leroy, the agressive and controversial director. A role that has been overlooked by the two female leads, but in reality turns out to be one of the deeper and more important performances.  Consistently throughout the film Leroy tells Nina that in order for her to cross the barrier of just being the pure and innocent White Swan to being able to be the dark and passionate Black Swan, that she must "lose herself." In Black Swan Aronofsky  takes one of the most common themes in film -- the loss of innocence -- and uses dark direction with horror qualties and is able to take the film to unheard of heights. Never have I been so terrified when watching a mental breakdown, when Aronofsky begins this insane journey to "perfection" he allows viewers not one moment of let up or ease.

The major struggle of the film is as said before, Nina's attempts to lose her innocence and to finally have the emotional passion required for her to be the Black Swan. Lily played by Mila Kunis is a role that shows her true acting talents. Lily is a free spirited beauty who is the complete opposite of Nina which makes her the true Black Swan of the film. Nina's insanity convinces her that Lily is out to get her part at all costs. Perfection is what Nina seeks and the women who she sees as perfect is former Swan Queen Beth MacItyre who is played by Winona Ryder. Ryder's performance begins the insanity of the film with her reactions to her apparent forced retirement.  A smaller role that has major effects on the film is Barbara Hershley's performance as Nina's mother obsessive mother Erica who's pregnancy with Nina brings a sudden hault to her own dancing career. Her controlling nature seems to be what truly makes Nina so emotionally unbalanced and shielded.

Melodramatic from start to finish. Clint Mansell's music paves the way for all of the shocking times in the film. Insanity is another theme that is used so often in films that it would be harder to find films without it than with it, but only a director with unlimited amounts of courage could make this story as magnificent as it turns out being. Portman has earned endless praise as the mentally weak and emotionally unstable Nina, and you will not get one work of rebuttal from me. Real dialogue is the only thing her performance lacks. It is her beautiful dancing -- which Ms. Portman worked very hard on no matter what anyone else has to say -- and emotional destruction which will dominates this terrifying, suspenseful thriller.

A journey to perfection, that ends with the usual Aronofsky flair. Black Swan doesn't have a storyline with any real level of uniqueness, what it does have is a cast filled with stars all at the highest levels of their careers. Portman in a potentially career defining role, Kunis in a star making role, and Cassell bringing his endless acting talents overseas. The crew for this film is a match made in heaven, the technical aspects of this film are at the highest levels. There is no real classification for Black Swan; you could call it a drama, but that would be far to broad. It could be called a psychological study, but it is much deeper than that. You could even consider it a horror, but that just doesn't seem right. So I guess I will settle with saying that Black Swan is a overpowering experience that is powered by shocking but undoubtedly great direction by Darren Aronofsky, and the greatest performance of Natalie Portman's young career.

Watchmen (2009)

This is one of the most faithful adaptations of a book I have ever seen. Although, even this being a very faithful adpatation, the Watchmen graphic novel is able to go to much higher levels than the film. Zach Snyder does a splendid job depicting Alan Moore and David Gibbons' Watchmen world and making it into one of the most unique films to date. Watchmen is filled with Alan Moore's, to say the least different views of the world and human nature. Snyder takes graphic to a whole new level. Watchmen has excessive gore and at times off putting nudity, but as a whole Watchmen is a very entertaining film.

With the ever increasing popularity of comic book adaptations, Watchmen was by far one of the most highly anticipated. Time Magazine ranked the Watchmen book as the greatest graphic novel of all time. Beating out the likes of, Frank Miller's Batmam: The Dark Night Returns, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, and Artie Spiegelman's graphic novel/ biography Maus. Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) was the first choice at director, but he considered Watchmen "unfilmable" and it was dropped. Darren Aronofsky (Requiem For A Dream) and Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Trilogy) were the next two considered but things didn't work with them either. Zach Snyder's impressive work with 300 ultimately lead to him being the final decision. Snyder came in completely dedicated, and did a fantastic job with Watchmen's very challenging material. I have always seemed to be drawn to controversial and unique films/ books (and yes also violent). Watchmen fits both of those molds. Snyder's willingness to stay true to the book and dark direction is what made Watchmen a very good film, not a bust like many were expecting.

The story takes place on an alternate timeline where masked, costumed heroes fight crime in America. An act enforced by president Nixon bans masked heroes that are not working for the government. But when Edward Blake a.k.a. The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is killed things get desperate for the former masked heroes. A violent, mysterious masked "hero" Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) believes there is a mask killer on the loose. Around the world the U.S. and the U.Ss and the Soviet Union are on the brink of a nuclear war which could destroy the world. Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) is considered a superman and the U.S. ultimate weapon, but he isn't as dedicated to helping Earth as people expect. An ex masked hero Daniel Driedberg a.k.a. Nite Owl 2 (Patrick Wilson) is faced with the decision of returning to crime fighting, or not. Adrian Veidt a.k.a. Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) tries to protect the world from its self, he uses very different methods to help the world. Humanity is on the verge of extinction and the world needs a hero, but this won't have any comic book hero to save the day.

Watchmen does not feature any hotshot actors, but the performances by a very strong cast may lead to very bright futures. The performance that stood out the most to me was by Jackie Earle Haley as the very complicated character of Rorschach. As in the Watchmen book, while watching the film I found myself interested the most in Rorschach's character and storyline. His very violent methods that seemed very understandable (at least to me) when considering the harsh times the world are facing. Like another character that some may know about, a character by the name of Tyler Durden, I found myself agreeing (to an extent) his excessive/violent ways. The brightest face on the Watchmen cast is easily the darling beauty by the name of Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre 2. Her performance is strong, but yet not really that special. Her face is an added bonus though. Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian is also a very strong performance, second only to the great performance by Jackie Earle Haley. It is always great to watch a film with such high expectations be taken over by great performances by virtually unknown actors.

Although Watchmen was a very good film, the level the book was able to reach is much, much higher. The films length may turn away many (162 minutes for the regular version), but its storyline will keep viewers interested all throughout. Not to mention plenty of violence and action. Watchmen was a huge box office, bringing in over 180 million worldwide. With a very hopeless feeling throughout, some people may not enjoy its storyline. Be prepared to the view the world, and human nature a whole new way. Viewers will not be able to avoid the temptation to think deeply about how today's world will turn out, and what human nature is truly like. Snyder's direction and outstanding special effects are Watchmen's highlights. Watchmen is a must see for our generation, but if you really want the complete experience I reccomend you check out the source material.

28 Days Later (2002)

Animal liberation activists break into a laboratory and are caught by scientists while trying to release chimpanzees being uses for medical reasearch. Despite the scientists warnings that the chimpanzees are infected with "Rage", the activists release the chimps, then are attacked and the group is infected. 28 Days Later, and man named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens in a deserted hospital. He discovers that London is abandoned with signs of catastrophe. While exploring the area a group of "Infected" try to attack him, but he is saved by two surviviors Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley). The group must try to survive and find away back to civilization.

Both terrifying and politically relevent. 28 Days Later succeeds on levels that other post-apocalyptic films could only dream of. Just as much a thriller as a study on human reaction. The film thrives on the emotional reactions of its charcters, and sensational performances from an unknown cast. There is something about films show off incredible talents, from before unheard of actors. Cillian Murphy is the star of 28 Days Later, his performance allows the film to keep its emotional power even throughout the slow moments. There are plenty of slow moments in this film, but the terrifying setting of post-apocalyptic London does not allow viewers any downtime. Danny Boyle has a gift of being able to signify emotions even in the most challenging subjects.

Danny Boyle shocked critics and audiences with his controversial portrayal of drug abuse in the film Trainspoting (1996). He then had his first box-office hit with The Beach (2000) with featured Leonardo DiCaprio. With 28 Days Later, Danny Boyle achieved new hights in his career. No big name actors were cast. So Boyle was able to focus more on the setting and storyline, rather than the complications that come with A-list stars. boyle's direction radiates and terrifying feeling for viewers. The "Infected" are shockingly terrifying. Boyle's direction is dark and uncompromising, viewers beware.

Political significance is a constant in zombie/post-apocalyptic films, and 28 Days Later is not exception. But what makes 28 Days Later different and wonderfully unique is, the way is perfectly studies the reactions of people facing certain doom. We have our crew of survivors full of hope and ignorance. Then we have our soldiers who unfortunately know the horrific truth. I will not reveal the cause of this disaster for not wanting to ruin the experience of this great film. 28 Days Later takes emotional and reaction study to a whole new level.

There is no end to the praise Cillian Murphy deserves for his performance. He plays Jim, a man who wakes up in a hospital to find himself in the quarantined city of London. Murphy does a near perfect job. He starts out as a confused and terrified loner, then he becomes an ignorant survivor, and finally he is a knowing animal. Naomie Harris has her breakout role in 28 Days Later as Selena, a survivor trying to be the tough leader, but hiding her true fear. Both Murphy and Harris were unknowns before this film, but they both have two great performances, and for a short while silence the critics who say horror films have mediocre and even amateur acting.

28 Days Later was a major box office success, grossing over 80 million worldwide while its budget barely reacher 5 million. Danny Boyle has shown us time and time again that he does not need A-list actors to make great films. There is nothing better for the film industry than films that have unknown actors having award worthy performances. Political undertones, horrifying setting, and plenty of violent scares are what make up this great film. 28 Days Later is a modern horror delight that is just as smart as it is terrifying.

On the Waterfront (1954)

Oh the glory days! Hollywood was at its peak all throughout the 50s; wonderful musicals (1952 - Singin' in the Rain), clever witty comedies (1959 - Some Like It Hot), classic, original film noir (1955 - Kiss Me Deadly), Hitchcock thrillers (1959- North by Northwest) gripping dramas that dared to be socially and politically relevant. Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront defines what daring filmmakers dreamed of accomplishing in the tense, post-war 50s. Painting a gripping picture of America facing severe economic problems where morals are crippled and hope crumbles. With the backing of powerful producer Sam Spiegel, -- he would produce David Lean's epic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) -- the directing talents of Elia Kazan, the star power of Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint and most importantly the openness of audiences the film was a success in every sense of the word -- grossing $9 million with the budget only being roughly $900,000. Over time, On the Waterfront has stayed a perennial classic that marks a time when Hollywood was finally proving that it had the guts to show the world as it really is. I see this film with my younger eyes and I am still touched in the deepest of ways by its story of greed, corruption, human nature, and even love.

Santa Sangre (1989)

Santa Sangre is a like a surrealist painting; it is unique, grabs you attention in an instant, and full of images and ideas which will cause viewers to go insane trying to understand their meanings. Every new viewing makes you feel closer to some sort of an epiphany that will finally put your mind at ease, but right when you think you "get it" a shocking image brings you back to square one. Alejandro Jodorowsky is one of those few directors who I would love to have a deep lengthy conversation with. His films intimidate me because after each viewing I am left a rush of emotions that I never can get a grip on, and I love it. Nothing is more satisfying in a film experience than having your mind strained and intelligence tested, and that is what Santa Sangre does - its images shock and its ideas test.


An adrenaline rush of violence and emotion. It's films like Irreversible that remind us what a good independent film can accomplish. French director Gaspar Noe creates a violent, but real world where love and pain live in the same breath. Films with a true understanding of the world they portray are films to be cherished. Disgusted is one of the feelings that stood out the most for me after I saw this film. Similar to many, but this experience is like no other. From the panic stricken beginning, to the aching emotion the viewer feels at the end, Irreversible will tear apart many, but disappoint none.

Starring Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, and Albert Dupontel. The performances hit with force, but it is Vincent Cassel who delivers the knockout punch. Cassel plays Marcus, a man seeking revenge for the brutal rape of his girlfriend Alex. Alex is played superbly by Monica Bellucci. She is innocent, kind, and cautious but nothing can save her from a world that takes no prisoners, where no one is safe from misery. In their first major film together since L'Apartement, real life husband and wife Cassel and Bellucci once again play on screen lovers. Their wonderful on streen chemistry and veteran way of doing controversial scenes is what keeps Irreversible from being just another dirty graphic film. With their acting strength this film is able to reach hights much higher.

With the films protagonist being a very tough person to understand, Irreversible needed to hit on all cylinders to work as a whole. I'm not going to sit here and say that this is a masterpiece, because in no way is it, but this is one of those wonderfully crafted indie-films that need to be checked out. The film follows a non-linear narrative depicting the acts of vengeance before the events that caused the turmoil. A very hard idea to work with, viewers will feel the sudden and very strong urge to dismiss this film when the shocking acts of violence seem to be shown without any cause or meaning, but please I ask you with passion, do not dismiss this film. Yes, there is nudity and violence portrayed in the most disturbing of ways, that may seem like something unappealing right away. But Gaspard Noe does a great job making it all seem worthy. Noe starts the film with camera movement so fast-paced that it may cause viewers to get serious headaches, during the parts with intense emotion he rightfully keeps the camera moving and does not ease up for even the briefest of moments.

Brief story lines have been known to cause much trouble for
filmmakers. Allow me to elaborate; when a film's plot line only takes up a shorter period of time, like how this film takes up only about an entire day. Or if the film only features a few major events and wastes painful amounts of time with very little worth mentioning occupying the time, like countless amounts of films have tried to get away with. Something I must admit is that Irreversible struggles to deal with both, at times the film does tend to drag. But as I have learned from watching many films is that every film tends to drag a bit. For example, the universally praised, low-budget indie-film Reservoir Dogs, the film that shot Quentin Tarantino to worldwide fame even had its slow moments. Yes, in between viscous killings and witty dialogue even a Tarantino film had dull moments in order to allow the storyline to progress. In no way am I comparing Irreversible to Reservoir Dogs, because there is no way I possibly could. Both films are completely different from the other and both are great in their own ways. One similarity though is that both films are great in their own twisted ways. Now back to the movie on hand, Irreversible no doubt has flaws. Including, perhaps, violence that will be over the top to many. Also a storyline that is brief while also being out of order, and may confuse the average movie watcher.

As I have named some potential "flaws" for this film I will end by saying that Irreversible is a film that the faint of heart will most likely not tolerate, and its unique masterfullness will be lost on many. The shocking and controversial (but very powerful) scene that dominates Bellucci's screen time will unfortunately cause many to overlook her performance like the majority of the film. So finally, I beg of you, do not allow anything you find distasteful of gitorious about this film let you overlook the emotionally pained performance by Vincent Cassel.

City of God (Cidade De Deus) (2002)

What makes a film a must see? That phrase has become one of the most overused lines to the point where it has very little meaning anymore. If an action film has some good fight scenes and nudity all of a sudden it is a must see. If a horror film has lots of gore and flashy kills that makes that film a must see... So I feel like calling this film a must see would do no good, so I must think of something else to call it so I could maybe at least get your attention for a moment. Now believe me when I say this: City of God is one of the most powerful and wonderfully made films ever. I know it is very risky to use absolutes when reffering to a film made within the last decade, but there is no other way of talking about this film. Director Fernando Meirelles does something truly extraordinary with his debut film, soemthing that filmmakers work a lifetime on and still never achieve. Meirelles has made a film that isn't just a gripping story, but also passionately and sympatheticly shows the world a real-life tragedy. A film about a world so different and outside from ours that it is hard to even believe it's real.

City of God is divided into various different stories about  numerous different characters, all as powerful as the other. Our hero and storyteller is Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues), who is an intelligent young man who is trying to get away from the violent life in City of God by becoming a photograher. Through his stories we learn about how life was growing up in the City of God while also meeting many colorful characters -- some colored far more darkly than others. Among these characters are Goose (Renato de Souza), Rockets brother and part of the Tender Trio along with Clipper (Jefechander Suplino), who later leaves the trio to join the church, and Shaggy ( Jonathan Haagensen), the leader of the trio.

Li'l Ze (Leandro Firmino da Hora) is a psychopathic killer the main antagonist of the film. He first joins a gang before he is even 10 years old and is called Li'l Dice (Douglas Silva), but when he doesn't feel like he is being treated right he turns on them. Then he starts his own crew with Benny (Phellipe Haagensen) and they quickly become the biggest and most deadly gang in all of City of God. Rocket is afrain of Li'l Ze and does everything to avoid him, but it ends up being Li'l Ze that saves Rocket's life -- even if Li'l Ze doesn't even know it. The main struggle thoughout the film is Li'l Ze's rivalry with Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) and Knockout Ned (Seu Jorge) which in the end turns into an all out war that makes life even more of a Hell for everyone living in City of God. Unfortunately I cannot continue talking about all the fascinating characters because I may end up spoiling some of the wonderful plot.

City of God passionately tells a story of violence, revenge, and finally escape. Even with so much violence and death there is endless amounts of beauty very evident in this film. From Rocket's innocent character to the always beautiful landscape of Rio De Janiero. Meirelles shows us it is possible for there to be beauty in even the most ugly situations, life is covered with endless beauty we just have to find it...Each and every character in this film is showed for who they really are, and as you will see there is not one character that doesn't have something good about them. Even Li'l Ze the ruthless killer who seems like he could get his rocks off from killing innocent peopla has a little something good about him.

We are shown a world that is really out there, City of God is not a mde up place that Meirelles made up so that he could have a memorable film to make.  This is a world of poverty that causes steaming hatred evoked by horrific acts of violence. Li'l Ze may be the "villain" of the film, but he was not born that way, no one is born that way. A rough and hopeless life where crime is the only way to survive causes Ze's lifestyle choices and most of his acts of violence. Rocket on the other hand grows up around good influences like his brother Goose, his encouraging mother and father, along with a group -- very small group -- of dependable friends including his brief love interest, Angelica. Benny is the only friend is seems like Ze ever has, when he is gone there is nothing between Ze and endless amounts of violence. This may seem like an outrageous thing to say, but when you are revealed to more of the tragic story of City of God don't be surprised if you start to feel sorry for Li'l Ze. A character who had no hope in a terrible life. Yes, he could have made much better decisions, but everyone can't be as determined as Rocket.

I have done the same thing with this review as City of God did with me; I have waited till the very end to reveal that this shocking film is based on a true story. Finding out that this film is based off of true events make this emotional gripper overwelming.  Each of the major characters are real or at least inspired by real people.City of God takes place from the end of the 60s all the way to the 80s. An epic tale of desperation summed up by a final act of redemption. City of God is a fantastuc film that is much, much deeper that just a film. Tender acting and sympathetic narration from Rocket portrayed by Alexandre Rodrigues allows you to see the characters as the people they really are (or were). If the stories were not told in this way we would judge the characters by the major events of the film, and as I learned that is very wrong. Acting and direction are the two main qualities that make a great film and in City of God both are wonderfully passionate. Popularity did not come immedietly for this film, what in the end brought everyones attention to this powerful little film that really wasn't so little was the four Academy Award nominations it recieved; Cesar Charlone for Best Cinematography, Fernando Meirelles for Best Direction, Daniel Rezende for Best Editing, and Braulio Mantovani for Best Adapted Screenplay. Meirelles has done something very special with City of God, something that only comes around once, maybe twice, every twenty years.