Sunday, December 14, 2008

Raging Bull [1980]

Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarty
Points: 100 out of 100
Comment: "Ranked amongst the foremost in cinema history, and I agree..."

The story of Jake LaMotta, a former middleweight boxer brilliantly portrayed by Robert De Niro. He's not nearly as well-known as Muhammad Ali, whose life story is much more captivating. But Jake LaMotta is a pretty interesting character himself due the fact that he is not just a boxer. This film tells it all. Well, almost everything. The film omitted the story about the early days and simply began with his boxing career and his later years.

The film was made in 1980 but director Martin Scorsese opted for the black-and-white style, just like how films prior to the 1960's were made. But it was tastefully done, complete with the aesthetics of films from that era. One such example is how blood spatter is exaggerated during the boxing scenes.

One thing you will notice as soon as the film begins is how fat Robert De Niro is. Indeed, he actually put on a lot of weight (from 66 to 97 kg) for the sake of doing the role justice. By today's standards, the feat may not seem that impressive as actors from today's era are also doing it. Actor Christian Bale is notorious for not only gaining considerable amounts of weight, but also for losing it. But bear in mind that De Niro is probably one of the earliest major film stars do begin this trend, hence making it an amazing feat until today.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Interesting plot
- Tasteful aesthetics
- Great performances from cast
- Story told beautifully

The Bad [-0]
- (None)

100 - 0 = 100 points

Friday, December 12, 2008

2009 Film Highlights (Part I)

Film: Bunraku
Director: Guy Mosche
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Camui Gackt, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore
Release Date: To be announced
Trailer Link: (Not available)

A drifter (Josh Hartnett) and a samurai (Camui Gackt) arrived in a town terrorized by criminals. Despite having different missions, they join forces to take down the criminal masterminds.

I am really excited about this film. From the looks and sound of it, it seems like it is going to be an art film as the director make heavy use of green screen. I'm thinking this is going to be something like Sin City [2005] or 300 [2007]. It's difficult to say how the film is going to appeal visually as no trailer had been released yet. But for me, the real drawing power of this film comes from Gackt!!! One of my all-time favourite artist! I guess you can say that I have a man-crush on him.


Film: X-Men Origins Wolverine
Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston
Release Date: May 1st
Trailer Link: YouTube (Low Quality)

The film explores Wolverine's violent past; his life before he went through the Mutant X program and how he ended up in it.

The title pretty much says everything. This is a tale of Wolverine's origins. Why Wolverine? Well, why not? He's arguably the most famous X-Men character ever, may it be in the comics, animated series or the films. Some facts were already revealed in the X-Men films and this one will simply further explore them. I never really like the comic or the animated version, so I can't really say that I am an avid X-Men fan. But I do credit them for making me believe that freaks can be cool too.


Film: Angels & Demons
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer
Release Date: May 15th
Trailer Link: YouTube

Robert Langdon was again forced to utilise his knowledge symbology to investigate the murders of religious figures. This time around his battle of wits is against an organisation known only as "Illuminati".

You guessed it, it's another adaptation of another novel by Dan Brown. It struck to me as quite a surprise that director Ron Howard treats this film as a sequel to The Da Vinci Code [2005] even though in the book, the events of this film takes place before it. But I guess it can be a good thing to experiment, kind of like what Alfonso Cuaron did for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban [2004]. Tom Hanks returned to fill in the shoes of Robert Langdon (the hair, however, did not) and this time he is joined by Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard.


Film: Terminator Salvation
Director: McG
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, Helena Bonham Carter
Release Date: May 22nd
Trailer Link: YouTube

After the nuclear holocaust perpetrated by cyborgs, the human survivors now fight for their survival under the leadership of John Connor.

Okay, the first film is about how the cyborgs drew first blood and it warned Sarah Connor of the terrible future. The second and third film is about preventing the war from taking place, but it happened anyway so this fourth film tells about it all. With that being said, I get the feeling that this will be a futuristic war film, something different from the previous films and I'm really excited. Playing John Connor this time is Christian Bale. Although I think he's a fantastic actor, personally I think he has become too recognisable to be playing this role. No doubt, he will be wonderful, but I question their choice as I think there other actors out there who could be much grittier.


Film: Dragonball
Director: James Wong
Starring: Justin Chatwin, Chow Yun-Fat, James Marsters, Emmy Rossum
Release Date: April 8th
Trailer Link: YouTube

It's a race against time as Son Goku ventures to find the seven mystical orbs known as dragon balls before the evil Lord Piccolo does.

I'm just going to come out and say it. This is NOT Dragon Ball that we all know and love. I know the title says "Dragonball" and features Son Goku, Master Roshi, Bulma and Piccolo, and they have to find seven dragon balls, but all of these are used in name only. From the looks of the trailer, I can speculate that it will be hated by many and will be dubbed as one of the biggest mistakes in films of 2009.


Film: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Director: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
Release Date: July 17th
Trailer Link: YouTube

The Dark Lord Voldemort is trying to strengthen his grip on power to rule the world and while The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter gets to know his mortal enemy more by learning about Voldemort's past.

Okay, any decent Harry Potter fan wasn't upset when they delayed the release of this film for a full one year? I sure was, but then looking back, a lot of great movies were also released at the time. And of course, by delaying it, the wait for the two final installments is also shortened. I like how the Harry Potter franchise gradually gets darker with each sequel. See the trailer for yourself.
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