Samuel Hadida

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The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Review


Good
Returning to the florid visual style of Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gilliam takes us on a whimsical flight through his imagination with this scruffy, messy movie. The plot doesn't really hang together, but the cast and imagery are magical.

Travelling showman Parnassus (Plummer) performs on the backstreets of London with his lively troupe: his elfin daughter Valentina (Cole), the eager Anton (Garfield) and the tiny Percy (Troyer). One night they encounter an amnesiac, Tony (Ledger), who joins the gang and suggests modernising the show to attract a better audience. What Tony doesn't know is that Parnassus has made a pact with the devilish Nick (Waits), buying immortality in exchange for Valentina's soul on her 16th birthday, which is coming soon. And Tony has some secrets as well.

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True Romance Review


Essential
Pardon the unprofessional lingo, but True Romance is one of the more awesome movies of the past 20 years. It is a film about the guttural connection between the heart and soul and the blood and guts. It is a brilliant romance about people who love movies, are obsessed with Elvis, and who love so deeply that they will kill in the most heinous, merciless, cold-blooded ways. It may seem contradictory to call a movie like this both hardboiled and sweet, but True Romance is a movie that thrives on its contradictions. It is wacky, scary, violent, funny, and completely off-the-wall -- just like love itself.

At the heart of all great films is the joy of discovery. We become not merely entertained with a fascinating story and engaging characters, but consumed by a vivid new landscape that excites and frightens us. In its own twisted way, True Romance opens up a whole new world. And this world of pimps, guns, drugs, and love is zanily, ridiculously brilliant. Not often do we see such a world in what is otherwise a simple love story, but that is the essence of True Romance; it is the most warm-hearted movie ever made about killers, coke dealers, and hookers.

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The Bridge of San Luis Rey Review


Unbearable
There's a sure-fire way to spot a lurching cinematic failure: look at the stars. Not in astronomic terms, but in who is in it and why is it not getting buzz. You heard about Clint Eastwood's Mystic River a long time before it came out because it had a big cast and they were all excellent in the film. Furthermore, the film itself was brilliant, one of the best of that year. So, one has to wonder why a film starring Robert De Niro, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel, Kathy Bates, and F. Murray Abraham (all talented actors) was released and forgotten within a week? It happens once in a blue moon but when it does, look out! You're about to witness a sinker like none the world has seen. Stand in awe of Mary McGuckian's The Bridge of the San Luis Rey, a true, honest-to-God blunder.

Thornton Wilder's famed novel has been filmed three times, including this one. The story is interesting and its ideas on religion and corruption are certainly timely. Brother Juniper (Gabriel Byrne, wasted as a pointless framing device) has recently collected data and put it into a book about five souls who lost their lives when the Bridge of San Luis Rey collapsed. The book implicates a bit of a conspiracy concerning the bridge's collapse, but the Archbishop of Peru (Robert De Niro) sustains that it was an act of the devil and that Brother Juniper, and his book, are calculating heathens. Most of the film is a flashback to the events leading up to the bridge's failure, mainly concerning the wealthy Marquesa (Kathy Bates), a young actress Dona Clara (Émilie Dequenne), and their relationship with the Viceroy of Peru (F. Murray Abraham). The Viceroy has impregnated Dona Clara and is a bold faced hypocrite for first shunning the Marquesa and then making Dona show her respect and humility. The only one who seems to really care about the poor actress is Uncle Pio (Harvey Keitel), the head of the acting troupe that Dona Clara is in. The film leads up to both the breaking of the bridge and the court's judgment of Brother Juniper. Neither goes well, as you might imagine.

Continue reading: The Bridge of San Luis Rey Review

The Aura Review


Good
Before his untimely death earlier this year, Argentinean director Fabian Bielinsky had been stretched to near-death over the Hollywood rack. Bielinsky debuted in 2002 with Nine Queens, a smart heist flick with a simple premise, and was immediately gabbed about as a rising star. Instead of immediately giving him money to do his next movie, Warner Brothers bought the rights to the film, remade it, and drained it of all charm and potency. Four years later and five months after his death, Bielinsky's second and last film is finally getting released.

It all starts with a taxidermist named Esteban (the great Ricardo Darin) and a boring job at a museum. When he's not stretching animal fur over plaster of Paris, Esteban has a knack for figuring out heists and bank robberies in his mind. So, when a botched hunting trip with a friend leaves Esteban to help on a small robbery in Bariloche, his reserved demeanor and special talents become a rare instance of utility.

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Battle Of The Brave Review


Grim
Epic romance, period setting (18th century war between Britain and France over control of Canada), amazing cast (check out the last few names), Celine Dion song on the soundtrack... sounds like a recipe for success. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The film was retitled from its original Nouvelle-France to the generic Battle of the Brave and eventually dumped on DVD, at least in the U.S.

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Silent Hill Review


Good
I have not played the video game upon which this film is based, and I assume that that's not a prerequisite. If the game is anywhere as creepy and odd as this movie, perhaps I should. The plot concerns a typical family with atypical problems, their young daughter Sharon (played by the J-horror-haired Jodelle Ferland) is a sleepwalker and it seems as though her somnambulistic journeys take her further and further from the safety of home (in the opening minutes of the movie we see her standing atop a particularly dangerous cliff face). Her parents Rose (Radha Mitchell) and the dour Christopher (Sean Bean) are at odds over what to do. Christopher opts for medication, while Rose decides to follow Sharon's lead. When she's dreaming, Sharon mentions a town called Silent Hill. Rose decides she'd better bring Sharon to the town and find out just what all the fuss is about. Turns out, Silent Hill is off limits - the place is a ghost town after a disastrous fire. And the fire still burns under its decaying crust.

A car accident, a nosy cop on a motorcycle (Deborah Kara Unger), and Sharon's escaping into the deserted town that rains ash, all collide in a chain reaction that leads Rose into a literal heart of darkness. Silent Hill, the town, inhabits a peculiar limbo - it is quite literally cut off from the rest of the world - where air raid sirens (surely some of the creepiest sound effects you're ever likely to hear in a film) precede the coming of a dark tide that washes over the ghost town with surprising regularity. With the arrival of the eldritch dark, the walls literally shred away, revealing an industrial hellscape that lies somewhere beneath the reality of the decaying town, populated by human-faced, screaming insects, twisted lava infants, and something called "Pyramid Head," that has an incredibly unwieldy helmet and one of the largest swords in cinema history. It's a brutal, dark, and hideous place and the highlight of the film.

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Domino Review


Terrible
The opening text of Domino informs the viewer that the film is based on a true story "sort of." It should also inform the viewer that it makes sense, entertains, and maintains focus on its main character "sort of." What it does far more consistently is annoy, disappoint, and remind the viewer of far better films they could be spending their time watching.

The story, very loosely based on the exploits of female bounty hunter Domino Harvey (Keira Knightley), follows our heroine as she grows dissatisfied with her socialite upbringing and embraces the darker side of law enforcement. Her mentor on this journey is legendary bounty hunter Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke), assisted by pseudo-comic relief Choco (Edgar Ramirez). That she meets these gentlemen as they try to scam hundreds of dollars off of would-be bounty hunters (including herself) doesn't dissuade her from trusting them with her new life.

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The Brotherhood of the Wolf Review


Terrible
Brutal. Ugly. Predictable. Boring. Stereotypical. Comical. Violent. Lethargic. Seven words to describe the hellish cinema experience of The Brotherhood of the Wolf. Alas, I forgot two more epitaphs: disappointing and plagiaristic.

The Brotherhood of the Wolf has all of the makings of a great French epic. Dashing leading men including Vincent Cassel (The Crimson Rivers), voluptuous women such as Emilie Dequenne and Monica Bellucci, a promising storyline packed full of complex, daunting elements of suspense and mystery, and impressive production values clearly evident in costuming and set design. The problem is that this film is about as French in style and execution as McDonald's French fries.

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The Bridge of San Luis Rey Review


Unbearable
There's a sure-fire way to spot a lurching cinematic failure: look at the stars. Not in astronomic terms, but in who is in it and why is it not getting buzz. You heard about Clint Eastwood's Mystic River a long time before it came out because it had a big cast and they were all excellent in the film. Furthermore, the film itself was brilliant, one of the best of that year. So, one has to wonder why a film starring Robert Deniro, Gabriel Byrne, Harvey Keitel, Kathy Bates, and F. Murray Abraham (all talented actors) was released and forgotten within a week? It happens once in a blue moon but when it does, look out! You're about to witness a sinker like none the world has seen. Stand in awe of Mary McGuckian's The Bridge of the San Luis Rey, a true, honest-to-God blunder.

Thornton Wilder's famed novel has been filmed three times, including this one. The story is interesting and its ideas on religion and corruption are certainly timely. Brother Juniper (Gabriel Byrne, wasted as a pointless framing device) has recently collected data and put it into a book about five souls who lost their lives when the Bridge of San Luis Rey collapsed. The book implicates a bit of a conspiracy concerning the bridge's collapse, but the Archbishop of Peru (Robert De Niro) sustains that it was an act of the devil and that Brother Juniper, and his book, are calculating heathens. Most of the film is a flashback to the events leading up to the bridge's failure, mainly concerning the wealthy Marquesa (Kathy Bates), a young actress Dona Clara (Émilie Dequenne), and their relationship with the Viceroy of Peru (F. Murray Abraham). The Viceroy has impregnated Dona Clara and is a bold faced hypocrite for first shunning the Marquesa and then making Dona show her respect and humility. The only one who seems to really care about the poor actress is Uncle Pio (Harvey Keitel), the head of the acting troupe that Dona Clara is in. The film leads up to both the breaking of the bridge and the court's judgment of Brother Juniper. Neither goes well, as you might imagine.

Continue reading: The Bridge of San Luis Rey Review

Killing Zoe Review


Grim
The bastard child of Pulp Fiction and a constant reminder that Roger Avary bears little responsibility for the success of Quentin Tarantino's films, this blood-splatterred heist movie tells a pretty simple (and stupid) story: Eric Stoltz flies to Paris, beds a hooker (Julie Delpy), gets stoned, robs a bank, and finds the hooker working there (who messes up the bank heist). The end! Thank God!

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Spider Review


OK
The strangest thing about David Cronenberg's Spider is how out of sync it is with the director's other works. Slow, laconic, and intermittently fascinating, Spider is a movie in which virtually nothing happens. Placed amidst an oeuvre that includes eye-poppers like The Fly, Shivers, Videodrome, and the recent eXistenZ, the movie stands as his most understated piece since 1988's Dead Ringers.

The pacing of Spider is totally understandable, seeing as it entirely takes place in and around a halfway house for recently-released mental patients -- and, obliquely, within the mind of its central character. "Spider" (Ralph Fiennes) is a muttering mess, a paranoid schizophrenic who wears four shirts atop one another and scribbles illegibly in a little book he carefully hides at the end of each day. Just out of the loony bin, Spider hops a train to London, finds his depressing room at the inn, faces annoyed berating at the hands of stern Mrs. Wilkinson (Lynn Redgrave), and immediately begins shutting himself into a cocoon. "Caterpillar" might be a better nickname -- for the man and for the movie.

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