Welcome to FilmProphet.com
> Online Since August 2003!

Film Prophet's Movie Reviews Page 11

 

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Starring Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shido Nakamura

Film Prophet's Review...
Director Clint Eastwood tells the perspective of the Japanese who fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima between America and Imperial Japan during World War II. The Japanese Army is desolate to prevent their rough terrain from falling into American hands by severe defeat. General Tadamichi Kuribayashi, Watanabe, is given command of the forces on the island and sets out to prepare for the imminent attack. Soldiers strive to survive while they’re short on water, food, and ammunition, and rejected by the mainland when they request reinforcements all the while knowing that demise is upon them soon. They don't stand a chance to the adequately equipped Americans. The story allows an inclusive audience to understand the cruelty met on the losing side of a war. They are not faceless no more. The Japanese were fighting, or really defending, a lost cause to begin with. As the movie shows, they had lots of planning time and knew the Americans were coming to invade eventually, but they spent time digging ditches on land because they had no aircraft or naval support. For this reason, Eastwood uses many shots covering the area of the land primarily since Iwo Jima is home territory of Japan. The touching poignant music score is effective and perseveres with a lasting aspect. The colors are very gray and stark so it wouldn’t excite or dazzle any viewer colorfully because of the inevitable defeat on Japan’s side and the capture of the fields of Iwo Jima by America. The movie however didn't bring anything new historically speaking, maybe except faintly for the bayonets defense on soil. It leads up to the one Battle of Iwo Jima for which is the main war scene. There is very little action with war scenes until the American invasion begins when arriving on shore around the midway point of the film. It continues throughout the subsequent half by following the remaining Japanese solider survivors who are shrinking in numbers. What basically is an all Japanese male cast, Ken Watanabe leads the effort. There were small individual glimpses of their own psychological terrors and past. Their characters know they are going to die, whether it is at the missiles of the Americans or by their own charitable methods. Scenes of sacrifice are uncovered when commanders commanded suicides together. The film displays that in war there are no villains or positive guys, but actual human beings. The movie also makes more sense after seeing its earlier counterpart, Flags of Our Fathers. Part two of the perspective by Eastwood complements its companion in Japanese language and some of the battle scenes at Iwo Jima are envisioned and recalled from the American viewpoint movie. There are scenes in caves and tunnels than on the beaches found in the more glorious memories of American soldiers back at the home front in the other movie. Japanese were on watch out and to their advantage had hidden underground attacks despite naval bombardment wipe out. To lose and not die fighting for their country would bring shame to one’s self and family. There was no return for these souls who were fighting, protecting, and inhabiting on the land of garrisons.

Final Grade: B/B+

Breach (2007)
Starring Ryan Phillippe, Chris Cooper, Laura Linney, Caroline Dhavernas, Gary Cole, Dennis Haysbert

Film Prophet's Review...
An espionage story centers on aspiring FBI agent Eric O'Neill, Phillippe, who is chosen to work as an assistant for the notorious long time operative Robert Hanssen, Cooper, who is suspected of illegal activity and convicted of secretly spying for the Russia and leaking information to the country for over fifteen years. The ambitious FBI agent is transferred hastily to this high-profiled assignment he is unready for. He is assigned to keep notice on him to use as evidence against him and gives a second-thought to his new procedure when he grows respect towards him. Though, the movie is more interested in Hanssen’s fondness for his church hobby and religious means for a lengthy time than fascinating the audience with his contact with the Soviets and him selling country's secrets to Russia. It is a true story, but the story spends plenty of time to discuss tidbits on his sexual deviance and private life that’s conversed in background stories. The always exceptional Chris Cooper delivers a prudent performance. He is so comfortable of what's probably required to be average and goes beyond his functional role to make Hanssen have a stern and severe presence in each scene. Without the introduction to his character, the movie's plot would be entirely different after the first couple minutes. Phillippe embodies the anxious and unsafe tone for the movie and does well in his long loud grinding tirades. O'Neill is overmatched by his boss Hanssen, well, two of them. Linney performs as the boss who handpicked him as his assistant. Both bosses are obstinate and too direct too. There's apprehension feedback from Hanssen to O'Neill that just makes him slightly more curious into his own saddle that could get him into troubling matters. Hanssen is very discomforting, rigid, and detects frauds and deception easily, which creates this apprehension between the main two male characters. Since it appears he can read anyone, it is unbelievable that O’Neill the young trainee can outmaneuver such an expert. To not know he why O'Neill is suddenly there with him is even more impossible to believe. During the story, he digs up information from him in interactions and computer data carefully without much lead guidance. The script here is simple, easy, and immediately slow. At times, Hanssen teaches his assistant the ropes about the bureau and morals. At other occasions, O’Neill has a wife back at home who gets upset at not knowing everything about his job. Most of the time, it’s in religious context discussions, talking about targets, and Hanssen originally caring about being in high-profiled position that’s brought up in several small occasions. Like the connotation of the insignificant movie title, all this goes devoid of a cause. There are no vendettas between anyone. Many occurrences continue to express the minor background anecdotes that don't elevate any plotline or the key character relationship sufficiently. The movie just hangs around according to superior plan until any overdue unraveling event occurs in the divested material stripped of sparkle in the first hour proceedings. When the hour mark comes, there’s lots of fidgeting and deceitful uneasiness, and it crops up well between O'Neill and everyone, but the rest of the movie is mediocre. Robert Hanssen was a traitor and deviant but his story in movie is handled without dramatic poses or crime procedurals.

Final Grade: C+/B-

The Lives of Others (2006)
Starring Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Tukur, Hans-Uwe Bauer

Film Prophet's Review...
A rational German study on Berlin's national security agency in the eighties under the East Germany government regime before the Berlin wall fell establishes a system of surveillance clandestinely in anyone’s home. The movie focuses on one home of an adult couple in particular. It goes with total control of the story from director and writer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck with fine accuracy in a smooth fashion of expression. Dreyman, a successful theater playwright, lives in an apartment home with his girlfriend, a renowned stage actress, as they’re unaware of the bugged home they live in. A secret service agent and professor named Wiesler is assigned to observe and investigate the couple from an espionage viewpoint using recording devices in a small attic. The reserved voice of Wiesler, played by Ulrich Mühe who can pass for looking like Kevin Spacey, securitizes and interrogates restlessly. Many artists from writers, directors, and stage performers during the time endured their lives invaded by spies. Homes were bugged effortlessly and phones were wiretapped. ‘The best way to tell whether someone is guilty is to question him until he admits everything.’ Therefore, the person is more sensitive and a little weaker. The movie has an authentic sincerity through the invasion of privacy path teaching a message for people to be more safe and careful. The smart stimulating study on the story’s core subject of ideology provides a profound premise. The movie replaces any clichés with keen observations in an intricate, well acted literate form. It executes perceptively with no senseless operations, mechanical antics, or any violent pushy armies in order to please. Numerous layers develop verbally and visually, to admit and behave, in front of others who are taking notes and acting upon in a cast where no one truly stands out and each performer fits in the position of a natural character. Likewise, all events in the story aren't complete standouts or trivial, but blend in superbly. The flow and craft of the camera and editing is in sync and persuasive. Another exceptional underline is the invigorating fresh music score in just about every scene without words appending to the revitalizing pace of the film. The movie especially excels in the area of meditative moments with a pondering conscious during these times. The package put together is professionally and slowly brilliant with the least of flashy action. In company of the characters, the loyalty and betrayal on and between sides and the sophistication for Dreyman are what's more personal in accordance to the domestic relationship in opposition to the playwright’s manuscript he typewrites about the anniversary of the German Democratic Republic. Wiesler sitting and surrounded by listening equipment simply monitors the lives in the apartment with his eyes having a hushed ordeal with whose commitment he is lies with to the country or his self-interest and devotion to principles. Thinking individually and taking pride, he gradually grows engrossingly like a guardian attached to the lives of the others with care through his surveillance devices.

Final Grade: A-

Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Starring Giulietta Masina, Franca Marzi, François Périer, Amedeo Nazzari

Film Prophet's Review...
In the Italian film by Federico Fellini, a feisty prostitute named Cabiria, Fellini’s actress wife Masina, along the sordid streets of Rome owns a little house in a poor vicinity, has a bank account, and keeps getting knocked down again and again with so much dignity. It’s an infertility of life for gullible women in macho Italy. The movie’s first scene is an omen of Cabiria’s usual lows. She is pushed and nearly drowns in a small river, a fragile opening for a naive woman, and is saved by children. Livid for the most part, she's loud and proud, joyful and despondent, then the movie finds joy for a short instance on the young sidewalks and lots followed up sorrow later. It suddenly changes from delight to troublesome, and she loses her temper easily. At one point, she’s honored tailing along with a famous movie maker one night on the Via Veneto, but the movie reminds the audience that at the end of the day she is merely a prostitute. The movie is shot on location with empty ruins on spatial dry land and on the night streets. The Oscar winner for Foreign Language Film, Fellini knew how to resonate the ambiguity of searching life's missing spark in a movie. Hapless solitude, frustrations, exhaustion, and empty foibles are phenomenal gifts in all his movies that sum the story in one concluding rich peaceful scene providing no solution, but it’s very illustrious. Fellini and Masina pull all the right strings in the performance and the direction of Cabiria’s tender plight with a purpose. The compassion is around the central character where optimism meets gloom seeking happiness. She displays a tremendous level of resilience reflecting in one person. The variety of expressions on her expressive face is affecting and what a difference a motion can make. She develops into a sharper state as the movie goes on, allowing time to sympathize with her, and her vulnerability shadily hounds her. Figuring out after the crowd ritual sequence regarding the Madonna shrine didn’t change anyone really, healing and forgiveness are unremitting. The story floating with simplicity in the film lies in the heroine and has no plot, but has its issues on dowry and marriage, and a few other men she meets who have a cyclical thing in common of being unsolicited and deceitful. The sordidness and thieving men is the motive present for her intrinsic wanderings to escape. It's enough to abolish any other little stories. Fellini directs stories with a penchant of expressing splendor towards outlying loneliness in the mingle of connectivity and disconnect that endures in memory. His movies are full of unforgettable images and scenes as the movie passes away in time from the audience. They’re distinct that they stay in memory and bud out later in relation to one’s own ordeal. It may take days, but Fellini movies comes right back into mind.

Final Grade: A-

Infernal Affairs (2002)
Starring Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, Kelly Chen, Sammi Cheng

Film Prophet's Review...
In the Hong Kong crime film, two undercover men from two opposing sides enter as moles where one infiltrates the police department and the other as an undercover cop in crime group. Their loyalties lie based on their secret double divergent lives and may reconsider. Their objective is to find out who is the mole from the other side. The police are working to bring down the crime organization while each side is trying to go about their business despite a mole within. Excellent acting as usual from Tony Leung as the undercover cop sinking into a dangerous assignment as the only person who knows about his true identity is the Chief. Andy Lau plays a young crime member who joined the Academy as a cadet similar to Leung’s character, not ever knowing each other. The two become so attached in their current roles that they essentially rather forget who they are aligned with originally. They are entrenched to pretend and do so well at it though each display some sort of nervousness among the tension. The pressure gets to both men and to how their real identity is turning bent. They act less than cops and drug dealers and more like bemused men in a juggling act. The potency of the movie is its plot revelations while information is leaked to the mob leader and Chief. The direction’s emphasis is on the concerned looking faces in a contemplative tone. There are no inflated gun shooting scenes or silly players. The villainous and aroma of suspicion is not always there, but the cold conditions are. However, there are gaps between scenes that upset the continuity of the storyline sometimes. Even though the plot is unpredictable and profound, the story threads are hard to intercept. The character development and personal relationships aren't developed early on in a sequential phase because of the story’s rush delivery. The supporting characters are pivotal in relation to the moles, but the viewer's perception is still around the double lives of the moles and not them. The romance with the psychiatrist and wife role between each mole is an integral female character, but she is not fleshed out as can be. Even more, the moles are new and young to their own original side, but the movie skips over several years and almost begins the movie when each mole already fits in the opposition. The plot unravels in a fast edited movie, inserting brief flashbacks as a method to bring back what the story missed. The story is rushed that it becomes convoluted often especially since the story was set over years. Each side knows there’s a mole planted inside early in the movie and the moles have already obtained allegiance to the opposing bosses impulsive to the viewers. Not everything was fully built up and scenes played more like different chapters than a continuation after a poor exposition with a premature growth of the storytelling to know who is who and what state of affairs they are in for about the first twenty minutes, but the rest of the movie is put together well. Aside from the terrific rooftop scenes, the best sequence is the drug deal mission when the cops are monitoring the mob from a hideout with audio equipment, cell phone devices, and monitors while the moles secure communication.

Final Grade: B-/B

Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Jared Leto

Film Prophet's Review...
Directed by James Mangold, a recent high school graduate by the name of Susanna Kaysen, Ryder, in the late sixties voluntarily checks herself into a mental institution full of other confused young women but with illnesses. The psychiatrist she meets with gives her the behavior name of Borderline Personality Disorder, whatever that means and she doesn’t know either as she says, ‘how am I supposed to recover if I don't understand my disease.’ Susanna is discernable by the timidity of the world’s self-image, conviction, and goals. She keeps a journal to herself and meets several young women inside who not only become her closest friends, but lightly bring back her self-esteem up among them. The set of a starlet cast features a range of supporting characters of mental patients predominantly all rusty young females diagnosed and trying to recover. Angelina Jolie is an Oscar winner in her psychotic portrayal for being the movie’s sole exuberant and wild patient. Her yells and noise are the movie’s attitude of action. She demands attention as the act of eclectic charismatic but most of the time she's just lounging around in unsolicited places. Whoopi Goldberg plays the kind head nurse. Days past by that are too quiet as the place is meant to be. The nurses and staff are nice so there is no conflict there. The female patients are nice to each other as well, actually quite friendly. There are bonding moments like bowling downstairs and field trips, and short term issues are solved by easy solutions. These young women enjoy their special disorders they have. Though, no one really has a disastrous mental illness, especially Winona Ryder's main character who can choose to be sane. The true story has a very soft sense of trouble and paranoia. These women patients really do not have turmoil lives, as Mangold expresses this in a benevolent view. Most of the disorders including Susanna’s seem to be internal and ultimately no one can help but the one who has the illness. Flashbacks play in Susanna’s mind from memories of the outside regular world. The editing of timeline is a jumble of events for her to begin with, and the audience can even forget the setting is in the sixties. As the story opens, it comes across foremost with an apathetic teenage angst than anything else. However, there is barely any vital energy or occurrence as scenes hold some sadness. Screams of get out and go away happen but very little occurs, touching up on the poignancy of the story. There are a few confrontations not of any tension with despair, but it takes a while until any of that gets in front of the audience. As the movie evolves, it is more like describing each one's personality and upsets as Susanna regresses to the level of a true mental patient for a tad bit, but appears okay most of the time. ‘You are a lazy self-indulgent little girl who is driving herself crazy.’ She blames her parents and thinks people around her are the crazy ones outdoors. One can assume the women don't want to face the realities of the world, but in the institution they’re disconnected pale individuals too sensitive to have a responsibility in society.

Final Grade: C+

United 93 (2006)
Starring Christian Clemenson, Trish Gates, David Alan Basche, Cheyenne Jackson

Film Prophet's Review...
Director Paul Greengrass circles the events surrounding the non-fictional doomed day of the hijacked United 93 flight when passengers foiled the terrorist plot on the airplane that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania in a real time account from takeoff to hijacking. Switching from control centers witnessing the actions around the country to the flight, the movie also covers the hectic ground crews, air traffic control centers, and passengers embracing the range of confusion and chaos. The people on ground are basically left vulnerable to help. They have shocking dubious disbeliefs that there are hijacks happening because they haven't had one in years or almost decades. Both the people on the flight and the control centers are helpless because of the distance between the event in air and safe ground land. Traffic control is not able to fully handle such a high magnitude emergency, so all they could do is look at the radar on monitors and relay reports from calls. The unknown cast and lack of any stars is ideal for the story of American bravery to create a nameless heroism against terrorism. This way, it eliminates stars that movies have to selectively follow on just them for the majority of the time. There are no unnecessary backgrounds to the passengers; each person is equal and has a cause to get to destination on time. They were strangers brought together by tragic circumstances and there is only a group of authentic people terrified who eventually gather the audacity to do something about it. From the heroics, victims, and the perpetrators, the gloomy viewpoint of fortitude displays courage in miserable circumstances. It basically begins on the morning departing onto flight and the movement of all the people - security check, pilots, stewardesses, air traffic control, passengers - that carries them there. The terrorists were also played with the humane card as they were scared like the passengers with hesitant, skeptic faces of trepidation. It’s unflinching with the anticipation of the unthinkable situation and the sorrow sentiment that holds throughout. The objective of the movie is to make the viewer concerned and cautious, and it’s done one notch up than probable by putting the viewers to picture themselves on the plane. The movie audience and the terrorists in story are the only ones realizing what will unleash. The audience knows the outcome of the flight, but the director’s imagination and recreation aboard is where it reckons. Factual information is gained from plane calls, flight recorders, family memories, and ground controllers. Greengrass made it uplifting and unsettling respectfully, but there will be people who will never want to relive the national tragedy. It could easily be the most wrenching realistic terrorist or plane drama movie made. The movie avoids real footage, patriotic speeches, extra human interest dramas and arcs, political commentary, and stretching the sole flight with no content until the capturing situation occurs. The movie recreates the disbelief, terror, and despair reflecting intelligently on the tragedy visiting the confusion and fear on that day. The passengers saying their byes to loved ones by plane phones is achingly heartrending before finally deciding to retaliate at the surging peak of the alarming movie.

Final Grade: A-/B+

Half Nelson (2006)
Starring Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Monique Curnen, Karen Chilton, Tina Holmes

Film Prophet's Review...
Ryan Gosling’s passive and nuanced breakthrough performance in this Indie film follows the relationship between his young, crack addicted eighth grade history teacher character and his astute female student in urban Brooklyn. After one of his coached girl’s basketball games, she soon discovers his crack habit and an authentic friendship forms. She stays away from judging him and this reaches sympathy between the two and to the audience. His addiction pulls them closer into each other’s lives. For instance, when she needs a car ride home after school or a game, this early on becomes a recurring custom for him to then ask her if she needs one. The independent film is penetrating and sublime with authenticity. It may be too unconventional for some because the intricacies in the story are not tremendous or dynamic, but pure and simple. Gosling's confrontation with Frank, a relative of the student, is the most aggressive the movie will be, which is at a low altitude as Gosling’s character is not sure how to react or what to say. Scenes cut around his addiction alone and with others at night and for during the day, he has his chalkboard lectures and girl’s basketball coaching while she is just biking around. Saying to her mother and others that they don’t have to worry about her, she’s strikingly self-reliant and sturdy mentally. She does not deliver much dialogue and seems observant and thwarted. Sometimes the hand-held camera work is blurry and unclear like a grainy filter effect and that is all the special effects in the movie really. There is plenty of face shots with pulsating slight sounds. Gosling looks and acts insensitive wonderfully. The trembling camera almost compares to the vision from his eyes that is not quite stable. He is a son of former peace activists with a well educated mind of history. Gosling makes him slipshod and swaying at the same time. He has a way of connecting the students, but he’s not a role model. The two live in parallel lives despite age and color and they’re falling off the path. He teaches around the topic of certainty and yet he has not been able to do it in his like writing his pushed back children's dialectics book. Part of the story’s objective is to show what is truly going on in one part of the world that is most likely happening in other places. The story’s regularity opens simple interactions but at a loose pace with grim material. There are also minor tendencies happening of education, politics, families, and drugs on the urban social aspects in a shaded way. The majority of situations are unexciting, almost miserable, but people still sustain on without being totally happy or always having something that's exciting to do because they’re flawed like each person in this movie to bring the realism of their stresses. There is a theme of opposing sides, as discussed during his teachings, and the opposition of drugs to him and the turning point when one side takes over.

Final Grade: B

The Painted Veil (2006)
Starring Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Toby Jones, Liev Schreiber, Anthony Wong

Film Prophet's Review...
Based on W. Somerset Maugham’s novel, the story set in the early twenties of a vain smart man and spoiled wife from a wealthy family whose unsettled marriage brings them to China from London gives them purpose in a beautiful remote place plagued by a local cholera disease. The story soon begins with when the wife cheats on her scientist husband with a married man. The husband gives her an ultimatum when he finds out about her adultery and infidelity. This is after her rich parents who support her want her to marry or move out alone. Walter, the husband, says he will do anything it takes to make her happy, so she accepts his proposal. The small poignant tale about a troubled lasting marriage discharges startling amounts of luminous provinces on a gorgeous rural China milieu. The settings, landscapes, and costumes are part of the cinematic look. The two central characters are affected by the surrounding and beauty in the atmosphere. The photography is stunning and its mixture with the great music score adds to the sultry environment. The music throughout is gleaming and brilliant. A compelled audience can be easily swept by the spell of the music score over the settings. The camera allows time for the viewers to take in and absorb the scenery as long wide camera shots shot on location give the film a realistic grip. A beautiful environment can alter a person’s humility, especially on a luxurious journey. The husband would rather work on his bacteria diseases than acknowledging his wife when they’re together in China. However, the work is not really easier than the task of repairing a damaged marriage with care. Since there is not a lot of action, the turning point moments arrive in the dialogue between Watts and Norton. Mostly delivered efficiently by Norton to Watts in clever remarks, it’s disastrous and assertive to the utmost subtlety, with a line like, ‘no, I despise myself, for allowing myself to love you once.’ Dialogue keywords, such as, that must be fascinating, charming, and shall, also bring the movie back to affluent twenties. Norton has an absolute calmness to his character to make Watts’ unhappy in China. The amount of magnetism each Norton and Watts possesses to their inequality characters is staggering, as expected, creating chemistry in a relationship that has little. Each scene contains the difficulty between the two and not just small talk, thus making the audience more engaged to them. They are people who should have probably never married and try to find some sort of common view between each other on ground. As for the storytelling, it offers that inner beauty notch from the intricacy of the characters by side the cultural battles. Watts is just right in her blouses and under fancy umbrellas. Her character transforms from a petty girl into a generous woman, expanding from her frailty. She learns of her husband’s own courage and dedication in combating the local fatal disease as the two grow in the process towards humanity, kindness, and forgiveness.

Final Grade: B+/B

The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Starring James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Kerry Washington, Simon McBurney, Gillian Anderson

Film Prophet's Review...
Set in the early seventies, the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Whitaker, hand-picks his personal physician, McAvoy, who arrived from Scotland. At first, the newly graduate young doctor is privileged by his new position, but soon awakens to Amin's savagery and his own complicity in it later on. Alike among his brutal supporting men, Amin was a destructive figure in Uganda. Formally trained as part of the British army, he wanted to raise an army to fight for Scottish independence, thus becoming the last king of Scotland dictating powers. Although this is not completely covered in the film, the movie as whole focuses on Amin’s private relationship with the Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan. It is Nicholas’ narrative that commands attention to Amen from his own naive perspective witnessing the ruler’s righteous with him to turmoil. All the more, he is a fictional character in a true events story, as movie is more about the young doctor when it should be less. It’s recognized for Whitaker’s outstanding strong performance for his stunning portrayal as the Ugandan dictator. The performance is unanimously touted more than the actual movie. The movie is not entirely a storyline about Forest as Amin, but the motion picture is not complete and enough without him. He is on screen for no more than two thirds of the duration, but his performance is more than the movie can ever wish for. It begins when Nicholas leaves Scotland for Uganda on the globe to be a doctor there. Forest Whitaker does not seem like the lead role, but as mentioned, he is the focal point of the story’s narrative coming from Nicholas, as James McAvoy is stupendous. He is introduced to the audience as he gets introduced to the people where he works around, and then by side with the dictating president and his formal introductions and speeches. In early clips, Nicholas heals wounds that call for medical attention where the real wound of the movie is eventually what the dictator will create. Not much of a storyline begins; there is no true antagonism yet to be found. Whitaker erupts after a dozen minutes of film time for his first appearance, but shows his kindness in words among his natives in the country. He is the aggression and the leading role as one in the same character believe it or not. Nicholas is the nearest doctor to him, so he provides immediate service for him and his family as the president's personal physician. Whitaker gives fury, jokes, charisma, and atrocity to his portrayal of the leader. His aggression happens when someone betrays him, as this is what pushes him to the edge. Every moment he is on he is in his fearful stance and look, although there’s room for his comic soundness too. Whitaker humanizes Amin and then is truly a menace later. Paranoia stirs up the story for the two main characters later on in the movie. This is not a movie about the king… it’s about the country and people living in unrest mainly from the point of view of young white doctor Nicholas’ innocent Scotsman experience.

Final Grade: B-/B

La Strada (1954)
Starring Giulietta Masina, Anthony Quinn, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani

Film Prophet's Review...
Director Federico Fellini's everlasting Italian rogue drama is about two loners joining together. One is a traveling strongman artist and the other is his new sidekick, a short-haired droll young girl. Young Gelsomina is sold by her very poor mother to Zampano, a nomadic strongman. She joins him on the road in Italy and helps him during his shows on the streets and then in the circus. Zampano treats her faulty although she takes care of him. With no one near them evermore and no homes to stay at, they’re so distant from a community yet close to the audience as they grow during the road trip story. The English translation of the movie title is The Road. The nature of these characters and their despairing work performing and gathering residents to make money is simple, but not totally free from anxiety. Zampano teaches Gelsomina acts of his independent show out of his traveling motorcycle wagon vehicle. The acts are mostly for her to play a couple instruments and be his assistant while children laugh at her silly jesters at borough corners. In the earlier parts of the story, she copies his coarse etiquette at places like at a diner she hasn't visited learning traits and picking up habits, but they’re not for her. She remains personally optimistic no matter how brutal it is for her to travel nightly, reside with him, sleep in the back of a wagon, and eat soup she could prefer less about, carrying an irresolute look on her face. Giulietta Masina’s performance as Gelsomina is very versatile displaying a wide range of sentiment. She acts magnificent when not even speaking without lines on screen somewhere. She express with her face with delights and long frowns and really puts herself into the joyful peasant shape character. Anthony Quinn, with some extra Italian voice work to his aid, plays a heartless strongman performer and treats his traveling companion not too well like she does for him, but in the end, their purposes are bitterly poignant at sea which is a trademark in Fellini’s distinctive films. Zampano’s only means of showing his care is through his vigor. There are hardly any unordinary hardships thrown at them, but this way it does make the story conventional. It offers no more than the psychosomatic view into its main three characters, the third the two meet along the way named The Fool. One superb shot shows Gelsomina sitting on an empty street curb at night not to know what to do without the company of Zampano until approached. The movie is about human loss told in simple story enhanced by the expressive music score. It’s flaunted by the aftermath experiences together and apart, through helplessness and redemption. The humanity relationship of a man and woman in a succinct realization has no real plot. It’s candidly direct that the movie’s scenes can remind people of the solitude the two went through. Like its current times, post war Italy did not have many economic opportunities and most people were in dismal conditions. However, people will seek to be beloved and embrace chances out of something. The black and white feature also won the first Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.

Final Grade: A-/B+

Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1944)
Starring Nikolai Cherkasov, Lyudmila Tselikovskaya, Serafima Birman, Mikhail Nazvanov, Andrei Abrikosov

Film Prophet's Review...
In Sergei M. Eisenstein’s Russian historical biopic, the archduke Ivan IV of Moscow, Russia during the middle sixteenth century becomes the first czar ruler to the throne. There’s outsiders chanting and threatening his success and campaign to regain lost Russian territory. The ruthless Russian Tsar who tyrannized Russia unites a weakened country with his royal campaigns. Ivan deftly plays to the people to his power. The people just complain how nothing is getting done just like the movie's storyline approach in some parts. The young prince to czar has his early doubters, coming from men in weird beards and huge fur wardrobe. After the long initiation opening, the movie viewers too have their doubts to the movie. The period piece shows bits of the reign through hereditary, nobility, and upper-classes somewhat surfacing political and historical content. All of which are shown with beguiling imagery in a gray visual style. Like most shots, the camera remains still shifting from haunted face close-ups to silent screen poses as they all glance endlessly at one another thinking inside. Sometimes the dialogue is off-screen while still image shots of other people within the sequence are shown with uncertain expressions. The English subtitles don't blend onto the picture too well for a readability restoration and it ruins the experience. Manners in the movie are more important to Eisenstein than words however. The characters exchange fleeting looks at each other that don’t show any greater emotion that it’s just really slow-moving interactions as faces stare. It's not cheerful in any way. The thinly monstrous message is pure propaganda in addition. The movie’s mechanisms are very dated with low amount of action. It’s not timeless modernly at all while most around its release date can be. The outdated techniques were a form of cinema used long over a decade before. The acting beholds bold expressions lurking in candlelight with shocking or just dull expressions. Men widening eyes like in a horror silent movie and taper with their eyebrows and incompetent ruling minds. They look around fancying in their wardrobe, table course meals, drinking wine, and making talks about land and kingdoms that sound like speeches. As Ivan’s and the other men’s authority increases, they are more monstrous in comparison when associating with a larger power. Ivan goes from young man to majesty to brute. Their mannerisms with the corruption of power resemble brutes, turning the men smitten with the ugliness of power and control. The merciless exaggerated play of reactions takes a look at old Russian sovereign wealth with a dose of divine will.

Final Grade: C+/C

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patric Knowles, Ian Hunter

Film Prophet's Review...
In the midst of the most colorful movies ever created, the medieval myth of Robin Hood bravely goes into Prince John's castle domain during supper to call him treacherous for his royal treachery ways and wanting to take the throne from his absent captured brother King Richard of England. Robin escapes after the first unsurpassed swords-play and John orders for his ransom. It’s an ongoing pursuit to capture him. Meanwhile, Robin assembles his merry men to support and defend him. They are a band of outlaws to disrupt the actions of Prince John's men and take the disorderly tax money back to the citizens of the land. Prince John oppresses people and hangs those who refuse to obey and pay the taxes. Sir Robin of Locksley has such abhorrence towards traitors, as he woos mushy Maid Marian and attempts to foil the cruel throne rulers. Director Michael Curtiz let Errol Flynn do his own physical stunt work. His wit splashes and he’s gallant with chivalry and cocky charm. There are no painted backdrops or cardboards in this Warner Bros set production. The panorama is shot with a glorious natural look for the Sherwood Forest in Technicolor. In other locations, the medieval times is captured merrily with vivid clad costumes, small details and structure on the walls, furniture, and vibrant wardrobe fitting to the epoch. The legendary story is filmed in dazzling hyper colors in a fast-moving on screen adventure. The colors must have amazed the thirties audience. There are only really two lively exchanges of exciting dueling, which are the first and the last tremendous ones. The rest are small and flamboyant with swinging and jumping swordsman. Fortunately, this is not just a child movie where men prance around in tights and hats shooting arrows through enemy guards… actually, it’s quite like that. Sometimes, there are weak spots during the amusing movie. The spoken dialogue can be unclear and tedious with a fast exchange of words that comes off purely artificial. Many names are said out in the beginning and Flynn as Robin has plenty charisma that make the others look quite plain especially when the title character is not around. The annoying villains make Robin standout even more. When Robin isn’t around, the rulers in the big castles talk prejudices and debate about ruling regions. At other times, arrows fly in from all sorts of angles hitting chests of random men. The archery contest is casual, but incognito for someone. The forest parts in the middle of the film are joyful and playful as Robin and his merry men laugh flippantly. Robin recruits more company and roasts meat for the poor in big old joyful harvests. It’s merely an enjoyable mindless adventure.

Final Grade: B

Amores perros (2000)
Starring Gael García Bernal, Emilio Echevarría, Goya Toledo, Vanessa Bauche, Marco Pérez, Adriana Barraza

Film Prophet's Review...
At a harsh look of Mexico City’s culture stratum, the movie by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu is divided into three main stories, whose deprived and wealthy characters affect the other’s lives without ever knowing it. They all revolve around one fatal car accident where the pieces from the incident are lost or gathered. Octavio is trying to raise enough money to run away with his sister-in-law, and to do so, he enters his resilient dog into a dog-fighting matter. After one of the dogfights goes bad, Octavio flees in his car, running a red light, and causing the car accident. This incident shapes and disturbs a world-class supermodel and a dispossessed hitman who cares for his stray of dogs, forming the other two distinct stories in the Mexican locale. Pinpointing dramatic precision along with contrasting photography and gloomy sound design, the movie begins with its pivotal occurrence that happens near the middle of the film. The first sequence is that car accident with speedy editing to elevate the rush of a threatened sequence. For two and a half hours, it chronologically spills out of linear format. The characterization is sharp within the poverty culture and the complexity is gripping as movie grabs onto the viewer with its character revelations later in the plot. Living beings are all fragile in this deceiving outrageous civilization. The characters are placed in hostile conditions not just of humans, but including dogs. Stark reality is learned through daily struggles conveyed by wrenching trauma of relationships between people and between people and their dogs. There’s numerous amount of dog callousness and fighting scenes in the first act, but that changes with the next two. There’s ownership of one or several dogs in each act from the main characters and the responsibilities that come with them are almost like raising a baby. The supermodel and the homeless man treat their dogs with more accords than other humans. Octavio’s utilization of his dog is in combat with dismay excess for hard cash including bets from the observing outside. However, one may query at the dogs’ motives to withstand such facade. The dogs in this movie are symbolic in a way. They are in a fight for survival by means of dogs to dogs, than humans to dogs, as there are plenty of events that represent them. The complications and causalities in the movie allow the audience to anticipate the results of the characters and their actions with apprehension over what will happen to them, even when the injured model’s ordinary dog pet is trapped underneath a wooden household floor for a long time. The narrative and its motifs are strong through an excellent screenplay and its dialogue to keep viewer intact. There is not one moment of a decline as the story is a consistent hostility. The music selection and scoring is also superb. The acting is with of infinite angst, but leaves one with a true authenticity and believability out of the performances. They’re portraying unnerving real lives in an artistic mode of expression with this rough concentrate of dire consequences where not many are satisfied in the end. This living condition can be universal to all. The movie involves them in moral situations as misguided anti-heroes depicted in the interjecting narratives.

Final Grade: B+/A-

Dreamgirls (2006)
Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Keith Robinson, Danny Glover

Film Prophet's Review...
Based on the eighties Broadway musical, a trio of black female singers in early sixties Detroit cross over to the charts with their live group stage performances and record singing. They consist of lead Effie, Hudson, hushed Deena, Knowles, and timid Lorrell, Anika Noni Rose. The songwriter for the group is Effie's brother. One early night after entering a talent contest, a merciless small-time promoter named Curtis Taylor, Foxx, takes notice of them. From him, they are introduced as the Dreamettes as emergency back-up singers for fading soul legend James Early, Murphy. This happens in the early parts of the movie when they struggle of being unknown singers, to a big break in stardom, then fall and decline with jealousy, romance triangles, and betrayal, and a long outburst of personal acts before the key finale. The music storyline is very conventional as it appears so in the beginning. The Dreamgirls movie follows the steps of the recent year-end musicals or music storylines such as Chicago, Walk the Line, Ray, Rent, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Producers. There was certainly a big Oscar buzz the entire year, so the film surely knows how to carry an elongated tune. The big portions of the film are when the ladies voice synchronizes the light music numbers to act to, and to dance and shake in synchronization. The original Motown sound is heard in almost every scene. For example, the backstage and dressing room discussions while the music on stage is overheard in the background so there is a constant sound of music somewhere usually. The sound editing works in favor for the music, as the girls are shown in car rides as the movie switches to stage and instrumental sound beats that carry on. The movie goes no more than a minute without some music blaring in. The powerhouse of the movie comprises of the female voice vocals of the music and sound. This includes the acting while singing to express the lyrics. Subsequent to group song performances, the movie audience is swept by individual ones… in particular by Jennifer Hudson. Her shining scene fumes furor and heartache spot on sung directly to the greatly unaffected Curtis played by Foxx in the energetic production number ‘And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.’ This is a major standout crowd-pleasing moment, among the best singing jobs in any movie. It’s a breakthrough scene to boost this movie's proceedings from the scenes the movie had before. Start from this scene at the hour mark and this film is fine as can be. The first half was more joyful carefree dancing as the film forms countless music montages. Afterwards, the second hour had lyrics that were more meaningful to the singers in true relations after the disintegration of the group. The first hour depended on the vocals and energy the music instruments and body moves convey along with the lighting and costumes. The loose story is non-essential to the stable rapid condensed onstage melodies. Nothing groundbreaking in terns of a plotline, as it's a straightforward adaptation with simple content. It takes in account both the history of a Motown act and slightly with a racial period for the duration of an archetypical black music career storyline around the same era. Notable names associated with the film are predominantly African-American, and they all are wearing big black wigs. The acting is top-notch, especially in second half where some they display fond sadness in their faces, like Foxx’s tacit stern face observations in the last moment of the film. Some characters are simple-minded who sing soul with no soul, except within a few individual Hudson performances and Eddie Murphy's aging suave near the end. Minus the music, they moan and complain a lot. Once Curtis becomes creative, something new changes, like lead acts or the look. It is then when the audience first learns something of these girls: they become selfish for stardom just as Curtis is greedy for money. Effie’s bad temper begins it over an entire true musical song during a long argument about who is singing lead and dealing with the dismantling changes in the group. There’s also minuscule romancing with each other but it is not as seductive as the music’s tune.

Final Grade: B-/C+

The Good Shepherd (2006)
Starring Matt Damon, William Hurt, Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, Tammy Blanchard, Eddie Redmayne

Film Prophet's Review...
The story follows the rising account of the Central Intelligence Agency’s origin as seen through the eyes of a fictional agent officer named Edward Wilson, Damon, whose marriage and personal life is wrecked by the stress and difficulties of his overwhelming career. The problematic career is classified like the research agency attempting to conceal identities and uphold integrity, but neglects to do so in the movie. It flashbacks to look back at the life of Wilson and forward to what went wrong at the Bay of Pigs foreign policy. The CIA is all about clandestine operations, asking Wilson to spy, which sets up a vast paranoia in his life. People supply and leak disinformation and they’re promoted, but the audience does not know why as people move around to places and there’s no reason for their betrayals. Due to false information, distrust, and spying, there is always something that goes wrong no matter how structured the national intent in the organization is to collect and analyze strategic reserved information. De Niro's time-consuming period piece production about the birth of the CIA spent nine years in the works. It’s close to three hours running time. It is also Joe Pesci's first film in about eight years and appears in one scene. De Niro as an actor stumbles literally through several scenes and recruits Damon and then guides his character and teaches him the necessity of secrecy. It’s utterly long without a mix of action events for a cinematic satisfying factor and usually the fine long movies are big budget blockbuster entertainment films. A soft draining music score in the background happens during short non-essential scenes. The plotline is slow to begin to kick off the movie. There is at least thirty minutes of completely useless scenes, such as Damon dressing up as a woman in a school musical play, mud wrestling stints, and awkward rituals at the Skull and Bones initiation. The fictionalized story gives a slight peek into the workings of the CIA and no more than just the life of Wilson. Damon is in nearly every scene as it's a film about Wilson. He’s a man in a trench coat and a hat. He is silent and motionless throughout most of the film and reveals little while making tough decisions looking at top secret folders, binders, and papers. He has a strained relationship with his marriage and grown-up son. Jolie appears thirty minutes within the film in order to establish a previous affair with another woman for Wilson. The son relationship is the most uncomfortable area of the entire movie. Anytime Edward and his son Edward Jr. are on scene together, it is achingly depressing. There are plenty of well-respected individuals in the crew and cast, so take away the immense veteran cast and crew and this movie would be a total dump delivered by anyone else. Wilson and other experts commit treacherous duties that Wilson is reluctant to perform while the same experts may be spying on him as weasels. These characters hardly lighten up. There is really no humor for the audience. As one character tells Wilson, ‘they said you were a serious sob that didn't have any sense of humor.’ Everyone is so solemn and mellow and speak so vaguely in short sentences. People act tiresome and exhausted as the story grows, for instance, Jolie’s character and pretty much everyone else. The energy of the movie is really the set decoration: the bright setting landscape near beach shore waters or in the city while the characters and story portray very little upbeat moments when they're placed on it. Director Robert De Niro shares how working as an intelligence officer for the CIA in the early days was not all positive and exuberant, rather ponderous, stressful, and extensively secretive.

Final Grade: C+/B-

Children of Men (2006)
Starring Clive Owen, Claire-Hope Ashitey, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Film Prophet's Review...
Featuring a cautionary tale about the world in a sad and strange future ruled by a fascist dictator, the story takes place where humans have lost the ability to procreate and the world is shocked by the news that the youngest person on Earth of eighteen years old has been killed. As mayhem erupts, a former radical named Theo, Owen, becomes the protector the first pregnant woman in almost twenty years. The cinematography, sound, and suitable editing are outstanding for the viewing treatment of a dystopian creation of an ideal world for this story. Director Alfonso Cuaron‘s futuristic cinematic appeal has crafty indelible images through means of remarkable camerawork. The camerawork is in fact the best aspect of the film. Some scenes are formed by continued shots, long and unbroken, where the camera circles around inside a moving vehicle… for instance, those car endangerment scenes in particular when several people in one car are driving in reverse away from motorcycle rebels. Theo and company are on the move from and to different locales in a terrifying chase that takes them to fearful areas. The city street sidewalks are shoddy like a wasteland and violence looms at all corners of the streets as they take a trip across the country to avoid attacks, small bombings, and aggression that occur at any instant. Theo is a reluctant cynical protagonist in a devastated countryside while others can only weep, do nothing, or operate a gun. The unlikely savior sheds vulnerability. Theo never combats with a gun or weapon. Guns are associated with guards, protestors, and rebels. These people are the last generation that will exist. The ethical movie about humans who can't make babies anymore register the audience to consider other associated human elements while they watch the hunted redeeming protagonist hide, protect, and run around in a turmoil world of no peace. The script does not do much to explain the details and restrictions of making babies anymore and why all of a sudden there is one to be pregnant. It did not enter more into the single idea and there wasn’t talk about still having the pleasure of intercourse activities or anything like that. An idea so big like this omitted a large amount of material, such as religion and marriage circumstances. There is not enough detail into the center of the main idea, but there wasn’t enough time to discuss it seeing Theo’s confusion and on the go deeds. As Theo once says, ‘Listen I don't know what's quite going on.’ The rebels and guards engage in brutality of senseless gunpoint violence, but it’s from Theo’s civilian point of view and what the protagonist knows and sees which is not really much to begin with. The movie misses the grounds of hard issues surrounding the idea, such as animals that can still mate, maximizing individual fitness declines, family surnames are vanished, and so on. One may think women are less important since part of their anatomy is to mate with men. Women are no longer able to conceive and they are mostly reduced to blandness in the film. Reducing population size is in relation with diminishment of reproduction and the human breed. Gender motivation and differences aren’t so different anymore. It’s not a biological race anymore. Males and females aren’t wholesome and there aren’t many distinctions than their structure. Another could say humans who don’t create life serve no purpose in its species to reproduce and continue the breed. The young dies and the rest just get older and die out not through plague, famine, or disease. The movie hark backs Equilibrium with the elimination of feelings in the future with plentiful of action sequences. Here, refuges are deported on buses and others talk pregnancy and try not to think about it. The backgrounds of the story and character relations aren’t totally developed, again for the sake of fear and not knowing a lot like Theo. Yet, the subject is of great concentration, the story needed to seek more credibility in its substance from the script's storyline than just exhibiting fabulous looking sequences.

Final Grade: B

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Starring Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton, Brian Howe, James Karen, Dan Castellaneta

Film Prophet's Review...
Based on a true story, the biographical drama centers on Chris Gardner, Smith, a very low-income employed salesman who strives with his five year old son, played by Smith’s real-life son Jaden Smith, of deprived living near into poverty just as he is about to begin a competitive stock brokerage program. The odds are entirely not in favor for Chris as he tries to make a career change at mid-life with stingy circumstances. He displays courteous manners in a humble, gentle, and kind way and does not come off too desperate for the job. He and his son endure the many hardships in pursuit of his dream and a better life for the two of them. Will Smith as Christopher Gardner is a strong amiable protagonist that gives something the audience can cheer through the many gloomy scenes of not much cheerfulness. There are more despondent moments than happy ones. New day, same old frustrating obstacles… or same old frustrating obstacles, new day. Taking the second half of that unconventional sentence structure, Chris Gardner is a true optimistic person. He juggles numerous obstacles each day: taking his son to a daycare school, health device salesman, unpaid parking tickets, solving Rubik's cubes, landlords, taxi drivers, clothes, and seeking that new job during the whole day with little pay and transportation. It's almost impractical to get back up again each morning broke to earn cash daily through the pitfalls with practically no money or shelter. He is also in a relationship with a woman who doesn't believe in him or support him. Some can say the villain in this story is the wife and mother of the small Gardner group because pretty much all her lines in the film are agitating and fully agitating, but it’s really the long struggle for a sustaining domestic life. Chris still believes in the salesman business venture he got into and cares about it that he’ll chase around a hippy in the street who stole one of those portable machines. Will Smith carries the weight of the film and lifts the bulk of it to a lighthearted tone. That’s literally too because he has to carry forty pound portable bone density scanners around with him in almost every scene. It takes just a couple minutes to forget the usual Will Smith persona and fully accept him as this wounded parent. Everything centers on his portrayal of Chris Gardner and every bit of his charm, intelligence, and earnest belief in himself comes through Smith’s on-screen charisma and likeability. The chemistry between Will Smith and his child is completely natural. Light comic moments utter sparse laughs out of the humanity of their situations. They care for one another, so the audience cares about them. These are the type of people audiences want to see succeed. The father's undying care for his son pushes them to tolerate a tragic living. They go so far to make things glorious with jokes different from reality terms, for instance, the scenes of dinosaurs at the terminal. During the story, the son witnesses his father being discriminated against, but the success and happiness in this story equates with money in this film. Chris meets others who spend money and enjoy football games, pets, luxury cars, and so on. The film teaches hard-working American family values when trying to save a relationship by earning more money while spending. Not letting anyone to convince someone to give up another’s dreams, most people would have given up somewhere along the line with all of the obstacles that befall on Chris while trying to seek a successful career. His power of determination is tender and seeing his son smiles makes him happy and that is a blessing to him to survive in a time with hardly any income.

Final Grade: B+/B

Orpheus (1950)
Starring Jean Marais, María Casares, François Périer, Marie Déa, Edouard Dermithe

Film Prophet's Review...
By director Jean Cocteau, the French movie is an adaptation of the classic Greek myth set in modern Paris of Orpheus the poet who becomes obsessed with Death, the Princess, and her enigmatic emergence in his life. Orpheus listens to the same cryptic messages transmitting out of his car radio he once heard before and believes they’re solely for him. His wife Eurydice is soon to be killed by the Princess' accomplice against the rules of death’s underworld. As an ancient story brought about in a contemporary context, Orpheus is still a popular poet just as the classic true myth is told. The audience is immediately drawn into the film’s fascinating subconscious split world of a poet's affection for both his wife and the princess of death, a sharp female figure who conducts grim reaper duties upon people’s death. The entrance to the opposite worlds is produced through stepping through mirrors, look like computer images. These mirror effects are actually camera tricks; there is no glass or matching sets and this illusion created in the design and lighting also brings to the result of it all. The black and white surreal fantasy has a couple scenes film in reverse to enter the world of the dead. There’s also the terrific motionless moving into the world of death. Inspiration is not found in any of the beginning scenes until fantasy strikes. The style of the movie gets very fascinating right after the motorcyclists as the errand radical youth poets in an early sequence when an accident occurs and the princess who represents Death enters. The chauffeur driven limousine and the poet Orpheus are summoned by the Princess to aid her in transporting a dead body. From there, the story holds the audience’s interest with its strange view where the dead spring to life at the princess’ command getting up from the recent death like a trance walking through mirrors to the world on the other side. "Do you know who I am? - I am your death." María Casares’ acting as the pushy and demanding princess giving orders as others serve is dominant and she’s excellent in her role. She has the most on-screen presence and her aura is strong and scheming playing an entirely dark character as she lights up the scenes she’s in. Jean Marais in the title role is also remarkable as he outperforms his Beast in Jean Cocteau’s other French adaptation. The chauffeur is persuasive as the princess’ accomplice and falls in love with Orpheus' wife and her welcome stature while Orpheus is obsessed with the cryptic word messages and chasing Death to find out more. ‘I am delighted that I am no longer alive.’ The script is captivating and original with poetry in dialogue. “This is the first time I have almost understood the notion of time. Waiting must be frightful for men.” The absorbing dialogue is convincing especially when they are poetic characters inside a poetry atmospheric environment. Some viewers however will be baffled by alive or death existence in which world. Authorities and friends debate over the realm of Orpheus’ experience to what happened. The princess’ rules to handle death and the laws between each world are regulated with stipulations, such as death’s permission to love from the other world that is all imaginary, but so convinces in its way of establishing the storyline. Several romance angles are drawn up from a single fantastical occurrence. The conditions are complex in the story’s lucid immortality in connection to romance. The compelling characters are in several dimensions and they’re enough to keep a viewer occupied as the cast do well in their dangerously entangled roles with a destruction of whimsical reliance… life is a long death of ruin beliefs. "Mirrors are the doors through which death comes and goes. Look at yourself in a mirror all your life and you'll see death do its work."

Final Grade: B+/A-

Blowup (1966)
Starring David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle

Film Prophet's Review...
Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's first English language film is about a successful freelance photographer who is talented but has an aimless life of cynicism and solitude. Thomas, Hemmings, is a fashion photographer in sixties London and becomes bored with his lucrative career of young female glamour photography. Tired with his oddly-lifeless existence with female models and casual sex, Thomas wanders into an open park with his camera, stops to take pictures of a couple embracing at a distance, and upon developing the photos later he believes that he has photographed a murder. The flashback to the sixties is reflected in nearly every scene with its young London classy jazz music and trendy fashions, manners, and free spirit found in the street life and slums. The society is through the lenses of these pigeonholes. Comparing snapshots and picture taking are verbal less and don't cause for any communication during photo-taking other than the pose. This is an incredible space and emptiness attributing lots of things, as Thomas’ sole means of communicating are with his camera. His models seem so readily available to him sexually as they’re so loose and pretentious. He photographs without feeling any involvement, and sends the same thump to the viewers in relation to the protagonist's drifting decadence. The first half’s worthless mood at whole is too casual at the swinging lifestyle. The movie examines how useless and light, especially in a movie, glamour photo-taking is in the beginning scenes as nothing vital occurs. The point comes across and it’s understood only later in the film as an archetypal Antonioni trick. After the entire long modeling jumble, Thomas arrives in that park to take pictures. Antonioni uses an absence of sound of activity composed of his snapshot takes left in peace without any special effects. Oscar nominated for screenplay and direction, the story somewhat moves along without dialogue and back story, with a slim plotline surrounding an intriguing idea for a story. Antonioni's conception of artistic sense isn't blown up to the fullest in more than a couple scenes. Two incidences are very outstanding in this movie. First, discovering more in the snapshots, Thomas enlarges the frames and something in the photos appears to be a murder. The movie cuts back and forth between the photos and Thomas, who looks like a young Gene Wilder, using closer blown up shots. He doesn’t say anything, looking more closely and magnify throughout his observing and developing, as the audience is left with his stern looks and viewer's own to interpretation at the photos in sequence with a calm and gentle breeze of noise. Second, the final scene with the mimes is a memorable ending, a truly lyrical finale that is devoid of dialogue. The signs of hint of witness a murder occur later in the middle in the film, so the territory upon the possible murder happens after all the wandering, models shoots, and little talking. The slim chance of finding the truth through his art, inquiring about the illusory of his photos in parable to his own life, bounds a fleeting nature of photography perception.

Final Grade: B

Blood Diamond (2006)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, Jennifer Connelly, Arnold Vosloo, David Harewood

Film Prophet's Review...
The story is set in Sierra Leone, Africa circa 1999 in a time when the place was in the middle of a ferocious civil war surrounding precious diamond stones used to finance rebellions and wealthy UK diamond manufacturers. The movie concentrates on the ruthless diamond trade where an African fisherman is trying to find his family, a white African soldier turned smuggler middleman attempts to partner with him after learning about his blood diamond he unearthed, and an American journalist wants the inside scoop of the diamond trade in Africa as her breakthrough news story. DiCaprio plays Archer, a smuggler out for a rare pink diamond and teams up Hounsou, Solomon, a local African fisherman searching for his kidnapped son and knows about the locale of the diamond he found. They stick together to accomplish their objectives and take the African rebels down. This special pink diamond is of enormous prosperous size… Solomon dug up his fortune as a Rebel prisoner and hid it. Blood diamonds refer to all the death and carnage on the ground. The money from the diamonds that were sold were used to buy weapons to start civil wars, massacres, and enslave more homeless people to mine more diamonds everywhere in West and South Africa. The action-packed drama film from director Edward Zwick is his finest work since Glory. It’s got the political intrigue and social commentary mixed with a fascinating shaping conflict. Some viewers might think twice about the next time someone purchases a diamond and how it got to where it is. Farmers and villagers are caught in between the ambushed atrocities from rebels and the diamonds they can't find. With almost two and a half hours of setting turmoil, the proficient production team opens up a beginning sequence with fierce rebels fighting over land to discover diamonds and this separates the villagers from their homes and families led by vicious Captain Poison shooting down the defenders, as he and the rebels take Solomon’s young son. His wife and other two children are sent to a refugee camp. Children are prisoners to become rebels trained with weapons to combat against the government and obtain land while mowing down all in sight. The value of these habitants on their native location is a death land of violence. A civil rebellious conflict zone with the diamond industry calls for immediate multiple struggles and riveting uncompromising situations in a bling-bang quest. The rush of guns collide with the narrow minds over geographic parameters are enforced vehemently. Almost every scene has a man to man, face to face, short severe conflict reacting arrogant and greedy. The movie maintains this when African men are on screen in the quick slay on top of their vehicles. Archer, Solomon, and others run for survival in danger away from their missile fires. Selected flawlessly for his role is Hounsou as he erupts from his expression from his own eyes in his character’s luring circumstances with adrenaline. DiCaprio's acting career has grooved in action-historical subjects and all his performances absorb entertaining finesse and stimulating confidence. Loud quotes are roared from each, such as, that makes us partners and where is my son. The two, and Connelly as the journalist, reveal sources between each other to precede the story, developing the relationship of questionable trust, with noteworthy scenes of the gates of the refugee camp, on the helicopter, and on the trail of the final scenes. The humor and comic relief is very present and natural in their interactions. The second half they hide from some rebels and visit other villagers who have yet to taste much violence on the war driven area. The movie holds together with excellent performances and teamwork leading to a plausible finish to the story.

Final Grade: B+/A-

Little Children (2006)
Starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich

Film Prophet's Review...
At a neighborhood playground and pool recreation settings, two characters share an infidelity and affair not just from their routine basis but from a common bond that allows them to relate to one another when they meet at a park in a jiffy. The life of a suburban mom, Winslet, embarks on an affair with an equally foible dad, Wilson. Parenting is split divided between wife and mother roles and interactions with the neighborhood in a bright spring season. Beginning scenes have women gossip and chat while looking over the play area. They are the mothers of the young and a sole father comes during the weekdays. The small community interacts and meets people who already have children. They consist of the soccer moms, the housewives, or the disempowered husbands. A male omniscient voiceover narrates inside perspectives and views on others’ gazes in this adapted screenplay device such as skeptical behaviors, plentiful of excuses, dutiful tempted requests, and rousing possibilities. The performances from Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson kept the story for the most part intact when they were on screen. When they weren’t such as in the center of the film to allocate time to a few other characters, it was low-key, away from Kate's character and the main storyline. An ex-cop pesters a prison release pedophile and there is an amateur touch-football league team made up of policemen while Wilson’s character should be studying for his bar exam. In one scene, the implicit child offender dives into a pool full of kids and the direction is so poignant and interesting on how it is carefully handled, similar to the safety of infidelity in this story. Winslet has a physical flair acting her character with exasperating sudden actions. In the book club meeting scene, Winslet provides the definitive quote of the film, “It's the hunger; the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.” Connelly is the breadwinner in the family to Wilson’s character and her best scene comes when they have dinner together with the other couple and Winslet’s character says to Wilson’s, ‘you never told me that’ as the look on Connelly’s face at the table illustrates her suspicious radar on them. Todd Field's direction of the novel is in an unhurried fashion with all the characters and their situations expanding sincerely. The movie examines fluctuating habitual troubles to every character concealed from others to know about. The two main characters strike up just a friendship early on and they don't appear together until thirty minutes later in the story. After mid-course, they are left with scenes of caressing each other with no further development than a risky demeanor. It soon gets back on the right track in a movie with a few shining moments, but ends with wacky irresolute concluding scenes. The children in this movie are in actuality the adults and their playful adultery. The adults have to take responsibility for their children from their treachery actions while valuing the children and the children are the true bystanders of the film looking onwards to their parents mingling with other parents in susceptible ways that has an affect on them in the long run barring certain discussions from the children. Almost each character is hiding something from their spouses who have made sad choices… yearning, fantasizing, and regretting. The characters are really failures with no redeeming qualities as they must learn how to deal with their inner truths inheriting qualities of a child. There are no easy solutions for them.

Final Grade: B

The Fountain (2006)
Starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ethan Suplee

Film Prophet's Review...
Among the issues of meditation on death and mortality is the journey of one man in the present, the past, and into the future. Tommy Creo, Jackman, tries to save his wife Izzy, Weisz, who is afflicted with a terminal cancer. Izzy writes a book dating back to the sixteenth century quest about the Fountain in Spain with Queen Isabel, Weisz, sending a Conquistador, Jackman, to find it. There is a connection between the two, or three, allegories in relation to the big tree. The big tree is the sole interesting aspect of the story. Acclaimed cult science-fiction director Darren Aronofsky has a technical motion picture at display, but behind the exhibit is a disjointed storyline resulting in deprived characters from the beginning scene. Unaware of the time period, it begins with some battle with stakes and swords from nowhere. A hallucination, maybe, but why, how, and who chooses to move the storyline between these times is unfocused and unclear. Transitory flashbacks appear within the storyline, going back and forth, between several settings in time with the same presence to Jackman's odd character. Weisz plays a Queen, a patron, and his cancer-stricken wife in these timelines. The only way to tell the time is different is by costume change. Improbable landscapes, like the rainforest, shape the settings like an alternate universe of vagueness. The two main characters suffer through a painful stifled loss together in the story as well as by the movie’s own loss with its undersized writing and incoherent script. There was no open time or dialogue to properly introduce only two main characters. Identification is left up with close face shots in glowing lights like an angel shot. There was a lack of quote writing to push start the direction of the story. Instead, there are grieves with relying too closely on indistinct art designs and objects. These visuals and objects only serve to confuse people. Nothing is believable in the film but as a science-fiction, some things should be that leads up to the existential science-fiction areas. Property, space, time, and causality are all parts of the movie while Tommy Creo weeps for his dying wife while trying to find a cure for her in the present. The overworked scientist has a crew working on monkey on an operation table, but pieces like that one do not interweave at all… it's a vast mess at the start and the numerous timelines are incapable to organize the storyline plausibly. It is unclear if these timelines are fantasies or reality too. As mentioned, it cuts dubiously between the different timelines to tell one big story with the intimacy of the couple. The Fountain is about the need to accept death as a natural as it is, instead of the forever continue of a living organism. So forget that deceiving story arc of the search for the fountain of youth. The simple concept was made complicated and some scenes were downright humdrum with no perception. Jackman has confusing frustrations of accepting her death and learning to let go. His interactions with Weisz are simple that everything else is completely bleak. Aronofsky uses that and pain to get his fragility of life and humanity point across grimly.

Final Grade: C/C-

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano

Film Prophet's Review...
A family determined to get their young child daughter into a beauty pageant takes a journey trip in their VW bus from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California. The Hoover’s are a slight quirky family drawn into situations that cross happy movements and bad luck, underlying the comedy-drama genre effectively. Progressing the strengths of this particular family and ranging from a past drug addiction and suicide attempt, strong comic performances surface in an indie-comedy way. Part of the excellent ensemble unit is Greg Kinnear as the middle-age bankrupt father, but optimistic motivational speaker and writer. His teenager son vows to silence for the Air Force and writes messages on a notepad, ‘but I'm not going to have any fun,’ where almost every line is a modest comedic remark. Some of the others are a hedonist Grandpa and a plump seven year old girl who wants to win the Little Miss Sunshine pre-teen beauty pageant. Each family character has some concise motivation to an apparent goal or something oddly fixated for audience members to connect with, fleeting miniscule to the big family picture. Each one pursues it, whether it’s a book, pageant, or pilot school, with a personal focus and quest to carry on some happiness in interim down the line. The first memorable scene is at the dinner table with some ill-ease uncomfortable moments of unfamiliarity between each other and commotion to tune out precision to prevent others from hearing it. They find the inspiration against the society norm, like America's fascination with winning at any kind of popular competition, no matter what stumpy intrinsic, invaluable merit qualities one may have as long as one has the contentment in the meantime. Each has an integral part to share with several punch-lines to lessons in the course of the poignant and witty simple original screen writing story investing with sentiment. The story is a sensible drama at times with both cold and warm moments for the audience’s consideration for them as they grow their own care throughout. The humor is very subtle, within the context of abnormal daily conversations. It is mostly based on the interaction between the contrary personalities and conversations fusing clashes and continuous hilarity for the audience to follow, but not laughing out loud kinds. Every part of the story flows and follows into the next part. It's all about capturing an atmospheric mood with the performances. This is Carell's best subtly hilarious performance to date, not by doing anything outrageous or offensive either. His character as a post-suicidal homosexual brother-in-law on the wife side of the family is multi-dimensional and plays him with such delicately dignity. The 'weighing my options' at the counter for magazines is an ideal example. The simple comedy drama is the type where the acting and themes lift the movie as this one drizzles in essential storyline themes. The father is about dividing between winners and losers and learns to accept losing sometimes. Unhappy moments are a way of learning than staying within a superficial happy stable time where outer physical beauty is the judge. The facial reactions in the crowd from the family during the actual dance sequences on stage lead to a forthcoming pinnacle moment. The family goes through some sadness and finds moments of uplifting joy near the end. It’s a joy for the audience as well, but not entirely for each family member in the opening and middle scenes of the movie. Sense of individual advice pours on from each other to influence decisions, like the ice cream and weight moment in the diner. There are small valuable moments that aren't planned that become fun ultimately. Notable are the times when the family works together when the bus needs to start moving again.

Final Grade: B+/A-

Casino Royale (2006)
Starring Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Sebastien Foucan

Film Prophet's Review...
The twenty-first James Bond film follows the newly 007 agent who must defuse a Russian operation with a banker gambling at a high-stakes poker match in Montenegro to fund terrorism. Recently obtaining his 007-number and his license to kill, James Bond, who hasn’t yet developed his full ultra-suave persona just yet, sets out on his first operation, so he learns some lessons on the horizon. Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent in the second swing lets his personal feelings get in the way. There are only two pliant young women in the movie because of Bond’s occupying romance with the second. The sixth actor to play Bond, Daniel Craig, certainly looks the act in the smooth attire and he’s legit to the sophisticated killer instinct role. Craig is the best part of this film. Judi Dench reprises of her role as M. The black-and-white opening sequence has Bond shooting a man in an office and attempting to beat and drown a man in a bathroom. This is all nothing too spectacular. The James Bond theme is an integral part of any James Bond movie and it doesn’t appear in the opening credits. The gadgets provided by Q and the familiar Bond-theme during the movie are gone. Vast amount of locales and a wide range of countries are displayed, as Bonds skips around from country to country remaining audacious. When he chases an African arms dealer, he makes jumps the type any normal human would be badly injured or slowed down by the wounds, but he keeps charging on full speed and adrenaline. The energetic music kicks in and he chases guys on foot past obstacles for whatever reason. The last moment is the pinnacle defeat that the opponent unexpectedly receives when he thinks he has won. In Bond movies, the plotline doesn't matter so much as single moments do, like the man against man encounters, such on stairs or at an airport. Nothing in the previous twenty films has happened or really influences to justify anything. The story is about the new Bond’s individual effort, over its characterization and even CGI effects. Other characters are there for envoy conversations over lots of funds with stern faces. Almost after every action sequence with Bond in the first half comes one of those. Where the third Mission Impossible succeeds in most action ingredients, this movie doesn't have them. It had a central amazing mean antagonist to put the protagonists under agonizing drama circumstances with choices to make. Here, there is an inkling that Bond is usually on top. The main villains are not visible other than they show up looking angry with smug looks. It frequently seems that without knowing this is a Bond titled film that it could be any other middling action film with a poor plot including narrow characters surrounding it. It tries to fit in the current time period of the release by means of cell-phones and one private high-stakes poker match… with breaks of an hour long to allow some Bond action. The first forty or so minutes had some action, but garbled at the same time though the camerawork and choreography showed enough, it stops for poker and romance on a beach. The story is somewhat unoriginal and thin and the film had no lucid storyline for over two hours. It thrusts the beginning in, and there’s barley a complete middle. Continuity after the scenes is non existent and Bond’s missions, if one wants to call them, occur suddenly… as M says in a part when Bond calls her during the airport sequence, 'Bond, what the hell are you up to?'

Final Grade: B-/C+

Babel (2006)
Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Rinko Kikuchi, Adriana Barazza, Gael García Bernal

Film Prophet's Review...
In the remote sands and rocks of the Moroccan desert, a rifle shot discharges to begin a chain reaction to several relationships of agony over three continents, Mexico, Morocco, and Japan, who are all fundamentally linked by the rifle. It will link an American tourist couple's frantic struggle to survive in Morocco, two Moroccan boys involved in an accidental crime, a nanny crossing into Mexico with two American children, and a female Japanese deaf-mute. Their conditions worsen with each minute, excavating vast disconnect. They are separated by cultures and distances, as each of these groups of people are headed towards communication isolation and grief in the course of just a few days. Lost to themselves and others, they are pushed to edges of confusion and fear. Communication without understanding is how people get misunderstood easily by those around them. A man sells a rifle in question to a goat herder in Morocco and his young sons decide to use it for practice on a passing tourist bus in the first sequence in the film. They’re living in a dangerous environment where youth has an easy access to armed weapons revealing the nature of culture, however, that’s only based on first perception. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has penchant for placing the storyline segments in a format that isn't sequential or chronological. He won best director at the Cannes Film Festival. His photography and editing is a prime aspect during each scene. Unhurried and loosely connected, the movie cuts back and forth, backwards and forwards to scenes to finish off. The effective editing of shots within each scene is alluring to watch because the atmosphere is highly sophisticated while not a lot is communicated. Uncivilized Moroccans are distant away from everything common and regulated in an urban setting, so where does a bullet from a rifle land when it has no objective physical target in the away in miles of remote distance… flooded with many indigenous people in the background, the main characters on set are aren't in too many scenes up front as they share the one hundred and forty minutes of movie time as an ensemble. People unable to communicate divide over culture, language, and nation coping with issues of global magnitude. It’s bad enough these individuals are quite exhausted in the dry heat mostly. All these tragedies are heightened by loss and the lack of understanding and the consequence of both. The village in dessert is really the main setting where Pitt and Blanchett develop around a single tragic incident with the horrible available treatment there. The Japanese girl’s point of view mutes out all sounds when it is in her deaf-mute visions… the sadness of not hearing any music or sounds when she tries to express her anguish. The engrossing-complex misunderstood world of silence for her, and others it is the bleak exchange of words. The other story is about a Mexican nanny who has to watch two children, but needs to go to her son's wedding in Mexico. The nanny and her older nephew go through an excruciating search crossing Mexican borders with heavy barriers. It is not always safe leaving the native land, leaving the natural grounds of heritage. The troubles and the frustration of not being understood in a vague environment put the characters in a strenuous position. Some are disturbed by authority pushed because of misunderstanding, it is bluntly cruel. The movie thankfully goes without having a racial attack in the mundane Crash film, though it misses an intellectual conclusion in the end. Featuring many different languages, the scope is global and its themes are universal. Distraught humanity is at odds with each other. People suffer the same kinds of problems and the movie shows how most people on the opposite side of the situation often ignore that.

Final Grade: B+/B

Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Starring Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah

Film Prophet's Review...
The original screenplay tells the story of a lonely IRS tax auditor named Harold Crick, Ferrell, who inexplicably finds himself as the main character of a narrator’s voice he only can hear as the author writes about it as he lives it. The narrator, Thompson, is in fact an author in actuality who has an unfortunate case of writer's block on how to kill Harold at the end of her novel. Harold’s living a non-fictional life written by a person who also resides in the real world. The woman's voice begins to narrate his life as soon as the movie opens and he hears it right away. The voice is talking about him, not to him. About four minutes within, she recites, ‘Little did he know that events had been set in motion that would lead to his imminent death,’ as Harold hears this and that quote becomes of big emphasis throughout the movie. She declares right down to every little number and action only he would know. Harold’s days are timely coordinated and calculated precisely. Director Marc Forster’s movie has some instances with screens of doodling drawings to illustrate the numbers working of Harold's mind as he goes through his day early in the film. Harold is not the author of his own narrative, as a woman puppet masters his life. He begins to overhear the voiceover narration by every move as he is followed by an endless voice. She speaks with a fluid English structure to words like a novelist. It eventually drives him restless when the voice isn't there when he wants to know more. The quirky supporting crew he comes across achieves one on one conversations with him by counseling sequences and guidance. Hoffman has a character with symbolism of his role as a lifeguard and he brings a clever balance of professionalism for some of his time. As the outspoken baker and Crick’s foreseeable hookup, Maggie Gyllenhaal is full of charm almost like what Portman does for Garden State, captivating the protagonist and the audience uniformly, as she is also the most delightful bit in the movie. The cookie scene was the favorite of the interactions, ‘thank you for forcing me to eat them.’ The moderate whimsical movie literally narrates the story’s reality and fantasy as a unit of a simple man’s portrait during his redemptive journey for his ordinary sanity. He seeks to see whether he is in a comedy or a tragedy and tries to make sense out of it all as he finds out along the way. The oddball writer allows Crick to have some vulnerability too. There is very slight humor by Ferrell’s lighthearted modulated performance. He was more soft and gentle than usual, but the movie was dry at humor by and large. It isn’t a true heart-warming story. It is in fact mediocre overall, too ordinary, and the movie admits to this in the end. As the plot moves forward after middle, it pushes the assertion of how ordinary is dull and to make the most of opportunities while creating one's own and all that other imposing stuff. It’s sappy and depressing when the entire time Block is speculating about his looming death that will occur someday, anywhere, at anytime, impending throughout. The characters write and talk about it and Harold can't do anything about it. In the second half there seems to be a glitch in the film of whether or not Harold hears the voice anymore and it is unclear if it is for him or just the movie audience as it doesn’t look like he’s too concern by paying attention to the voice any longer. There are some difficulties for Harold which is true for anyone to find someone with the ignorance of people in the way who want to make sure everything is just plain to them with nothing unordinary. Block is portrayed as a very ordinary person despite the numbers-crunching. Things just have to be okay, so to convince the normal like Harold to continue living when nothing was really wrong with him in the first place comes from a senseless piece to pick perhaps a more treacherous person to undergo the struggle, but that would be against the run of the mill mundane theme of the story.

Final Grade: B-/C+

The Fog of War (2003)
Starring Robert McNamara, Errol Morris

Film Prophet's Review...
The political documentary reflects on past social and cultural morals over a half a decade ago from its release interlacing with modern ideals. The documentary is fundamentally about Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. The documentary at about two hours long combines twenty hours of interview with McNamara at age eighty-five given about a year before the Iraq War discussing some of his responsibilities and the problems that came with it. It received an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Archival footage, documents, fast and sporadic audio clips, and photography are collaborated with the narration from McNamara’s interview. He talks directly to the camera with eye contact to the audience, a technique by Director Errol Morris who does little talking and is not even shown once. The first half centers on the missile crisis and nuclear weapons while the second half covers the involvement in the Vietnam War under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Morris divides the film into eleven lessons, or sections. The original captivating music score by Philip Glass enhances the skepticism of political decisions throughout the film and it’s an additional eerie personality at helm. McNamara himself is incredible to watch with his passion, both in the interviews and in the footage that frequently supports his narrative. A hunk of the film comes from McNamara and his ambiguities and haziness about governing, power, and moral dissonance to impose ethical statements. He captures broad material dated back to the First World War at the time of his birth into clever contradictions and single quotes to present the matter as lessons. He skips around in the timeline and part of the film shows his childhood, education, and private life along with intimate monologue statements about his experiences in life. McNamara basically tells the movie's story himself individually and personally. It is the director's show on him while looking back at his revelations and reflections when he is not too critical on himself until the end. Sometimes vague on subjects, he covers the main points, but it puts such difficulty on his stance to reveal enough in one sitting for the entire film without referring to any physical tangible evidence so he is reciting from pure memory. McNamara was pretty open and proud of his role in improving military, but also distances himself from the deaths in Vietnam and blames Lyndon Johnson mostly. There is not a whole lot of insight educationally with a historical context, as it is more on McNamara’s meditative thoughts that lie behind decisions and actions. It is not easy to reach a breaking point; commanders make mistakes and judgments that can alter nations, such by decisions to launch missions. The film does not always use the best choice of footage that’s actually edited with the material being discussed early on with the air force and destruction clips. It goes off the war topic a bit by introducing cars and pointing out safety and profits, as this proves McNamara was numbers and facts at knowledge. Revealing the truths about something decades after it took place could have made a difference then to America's foreign policy to respond to at a time when it really mattered. It’s a profound film if released and done a half decade ago that holds little as weight at present because it's so obsolete in discussions modernly. It does have a resonance parallel to Iraq with America not having allies’ involvement and that nations should not go to war by itself just like when America went down in Vietnam. The movie is on hindsight, which is an understanding the nature of an event after it has happened. Leaders do go through absolute indecision about the morality of actions, unprepared for reality.

Final Grade: B

Red Beard (1965)
Starring Yuzo Kayama, Toshirô Mifune, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Reiko Dan, Akemi Negishi, Miyuki Kuwano

Film Prophet's Review...
Running at a hundred eighty five minutes long, this is the final time Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshirô Mifune worked together in a film and the last time for a black and white Kurosawa film. Taking place in nineteenth century Japan, young graduate Dr. Noboru Yasumoto, Kayama, has been assigned to a rural clinic for his medical training under the guidance of Red Beard, Mifune. Not really wanting to be there in the first place, he decides to stay and help. Yasumoto, who was trained in Dutch medical schools, tries to become the personal physician of the Japanese Shogunate. He starts out as a dismayed, apathetic, and stern intern, differing with Red Beard as the unbendable physician ministering the poor in his clinic full of smelly patients in the slum. He learns more than medicine under Red Beard's guidance… that is through compassion. The waiting room in a scene five minutes in shows the sickness in herds of people sitting on the floor exhausted and tired. Such authentic acting by everyone made the notion the supporting roles were actually these real poor people coughing and deep breathing despairingly. Kurosawa’s genuine camera views show all compulsory angles to make the scenes genuine as the acting breaks through. After a very promising beginning during the first twenty or so minutes, the movie takes a shift to move out of the doctors to put a bigger focus on the long-suffering. The movie just sees them lying there telling their stories and that is their way of going out in a therapeutic manner. The physicians and others sit, or kneel, with them as they listen to the final words of a dying patient. Past interactions affect people in the long term and their stories elaborate substandard humanity aspects, during the relationship between young doctor and the compassionate clinic doctor while observing patients and their recent lives. With Red Beard the doctor, they learn more about what humanity is and how it is all around them and they as doctors are nothing without the pits of human's lives which is death and sickness found in unlikely places. Red Beard, the authority figure, was being hyped up in the story to see Mifune’s appearance in the opening with his introducing rules around the place. This role is not Mifune’s typical zany role nor is he in the same manic samurai form he was in some of his earlier acting roles. He reacts rather calmly and prudent and does not do the yelling. He keeps asking for Yasumoto’s notes during the movie, and Yasumoto says, ‘they are mine not for others.’ Yasumoto thinks he knows more about curing than him, but he is apparently stubborn. Red Beard wants to fight poverty and ignorance. The movie in general is moderately hushed. There is too much silence with impermanent gaps and the movie tries to establish an attachment to several patients who die, but the final third of the movie is too random. The acting is still proficient, especially the frightened girl during her sad mistress subplot as a criminal with terrible past. Yasumoto gets drawn in bit by bit, starting with that encounter. Like her and others, the supporting characters are developed through background discussions than current-time situations. Watching a man dying telling a painful love story makes a very solemn film for three hours. The background of short stories goes into fine detail to family or work, respected or not, it still yields attention in the story more than anything else. They tell their stories from their dying beds under blankets all very slowly, always talking sorrowfully. 'I want to tell everything and die without any secrets.' The numerous minor roles during the middle of the film carry out when it is not about the main story of the two doctors. There are too many conversations about the trembling past when the premise of the movie is surely about the story of the young being brought into a practical world by the experienced and the journey they share by carrying copious stretchers and listening to the sincere stories they encounter. "I buried it. She was my wife. She's come for me."

Final Grade: B-/B

Borat (2006)
Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian

Film Prophet's Review...
The full movie title is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, and that is the abridged version as Borat Sagdiyev, or Sacha Baron Cohen, says so. The campaign of this movie thrives through Cohen’s alter-ego in his Borat character in person, or rather on screen, in other entertainment screen forms. Borat continues to develop his popular personality through word of mouth and promotions on shows and his own show, like Da Ali G Show, evolving from previous characters. Borat does satirical interviews and he is a reporter living in a rural neighborhood of the poverty-stricken country of Kazakhstan. He is sent to America for lessons by Americans and watches a re-run video of Baywatch to marvel at Pamela Anderson. Mostly everything is fictional in the movie: the country and most of the characters in the low-budget mockumentary comedy. Sacha Baron Cohen is in every scene and he never breaks out of character. Borat during the whole movie makes sex a big deal in his ending passages. Sexual implications, profanity, and segmented degrading name calling are said straight, open, and direct to others as he smiles raising two thumbs dressed in a tie and suit. The comedy is not so about the disturbing physical or visual gags. Sometimes tasteless, all the jokes come from one character and everyone else is mostly plain so that it makes him look for more funny and unusual, like drinking water from toilets. His lingo, accent, and pronouncement of lines are quaint and he misses words in sentences so his English compound speech is incompletely farcical. Followed up to each portion of his dialogue is some sort of Jewish line or conclusive remarks with a spin on it all. These quotes are not laugh-out-loud, rather short ones. Viewers knows they are coming every minute and the audience knows what to expect with all its simple minded crude language, rapid quotes, and verbal slapstick through Borat and his interactions with indifferent people. People in the film don't laugh so it is just for the movie audience. Borat’s intellectual customs of welcoming in America irk differences to his fictional culture. He is almost dumb in America so for instance when he is learning about the not at the end joke. He tries to learn popularized American traits and discussion habits, and asks ridiculous questions, ‘Should I make a joke about my mother-in-law’ and ‘What gun is best to kill Jew with’ simply because he doesn't know any better. He asks to be taught manners, but can’t hold him self back to say something silly like, ‘In my country they would go crazy for these two, not so much for you.’ His experience in homosexual, women, Jewish, and black communities strike various ethnicity, social standing, and stereotypes towards his prejudice values for humor purposes. The movie is fast running at about eighty or so minutes. There is little leeway in the editing of the film as it skips to scenes ready for cruel, goofy lines. Occasionally repulsive and disgusting with male nudity and grotesque humor, the second half slows down during his three week journey. The material goes unfunny and ridiculous as far as Cohen can take his character with no new material over and over again. It is less hilarious than expected, and more about the boundaries of cruel and decency assimilation. The mockumentary demonstrates that America is full of idiocy and ugly prejudices that still exist which makes this non-fictional country distinctive for relinquishing laughs in fictional storylines.

Final Grade: C+

Equilibrium (2002)
Starring Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, William Fichtner, Sean Bean, Emily Watson, Dominic Purcell

Film Prophet's Review...
In a fascist totalitarian future where all ways of feeling are criminal and disposed of by a drug sedative, the dystopian world has eliminated future war by suppressing all human emotions after an apocalyptic Third World War. Cleric Preston, Bale, a top ranking government combat agent is responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. When he misses his doses that hinder emotion, suddenly he becomes the only person capable of overthrowing the strict regime’s ruling system. Everyone is the same and the film is almost in the same context of other science-fiction films by recycled elements and contemplative science-fiction themes with a degree of fantastic choreographed action with gun-fighting martial art using the latest special effects with a CGI environment. There’s a surging loud music score as Cleric dodges misfires while an extreme body count of bloodshed happens during massacre raids. Dynamics in visuals and character motivation are there, but not so behind Cleric’s bleak background of training in martial arts that makes him so special at what he does by being so unstoppable. There is a part where Cleric is trying in sensation to feel, like in the dog slaughters, and he is afraid to show feelings among his male colleagues. The dog in trunk scene leads to a cool gun-filled action sequence with one up against numerical odds. His reverse to normal feeling by not taking the drug is ironic. Where emotion is outlawed by an oppressing drug to keep society calm, people are emotionless and total peace means static. The movie is limited in happy moments, like much dialogue between characters, as the most it shows is a rainbow. ‘It's just a word for a feeling you've never felt.’ The zoom-ups on Bale’s face show his blank stringent stare without once cracking a smile. Bale holds his lead role with enough charisma to his stolid grim character. As soon as the diminutive role of Sean Bean exists, Taye Diggs a second later enters, who is incredible. Still, the problem in the movie is that the world is all about eliminating war except a gun of some sort appears on screen frequently and people engage in acts of violence and combat form that utilizes handguns. Another thing is emotionless characters have performers to display some sort of emotion to the audience can be tricky and uneasy. The relation complication and dilemmas, like the wife subplot as a feeling, aids in. The other female character of Emily Watson has dialogue about feeling nothing and talking about never knowing what it is to Bale to live just to continue existence. She delivers the best line in the movie, “Without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock ticking.” Cleric tries to go forward in the underground resistance for sense offenders as he plays with the opposite sides in the middle of the film. His engrossing character and his hardships between two opposing sides make the film worth watching even with more faults than positives in the movie. Freedom is more valuable than the facade of a peaceful world. There’s a message that the world is headed towards bland acceptance of compliance, and possibly an annihilating revolution.

Final Grade: B-/C+