February 14, 2009


Recent Movies Watched

Taken (IMDb) is very good strictly action movie. It reminds me of the action movies from the 80s and 90s where you have obvious right and wrong. But I prefer movies where the protagonist is more conflicted such as the Bourne series. The movie follows the perspective of an ex-spy played by Liam Neeson who has retired to spend time with his estranged teenage daughter. He begrudgingly allows her to go on a trip to France with her friend. Soon after she arrives she calls her dad to check in with him and as she does she realizes that some men have come to kidnap her and her friend. The father gives her some quick instructions and ultimately is on the phone with the kidnappers. He offers them the chance to be left alone if they release her, but if they don't, that he will use his skills to find and kill them. The only response he gets is “good luck.” Liam's character hold's true to his promise, and the rest of the movie is scene after scene of him tracking down and taking out everyone connected with the kidnappers.

Paprika (IMDb) is one of the most visually amazing animated films I've seen from Japan. Anime (animated films) is a large industry from Japan, and its quality is unrivaled. Anime, as a form of entertainment, reaches into much more diverse realms of Japanese culture where animation in western cultures is often intended primarily for children. Maybe this is why anime is largely under-appreciated in western society; and that might also explain the phenomenon of the niche group of western ultra-obsessive fans of the genre. The Japanese have a term for such individuals, Otaku, and its meant to be derogatory, although some obsessed fans take it as a compliment. I've seen a few anime films, and have amazed at its beauty and story-telling quality. Especially directors like Hayeo Mayazaki, who can weave such interesting and fantastic stories together with gorgeous animation. Paprika rovolves several people who are inolved with a company who has created a devise that lets its users enter and control their own and other's dreams. And unanticipated side affect is that their dreams can merge. Someone has stolen the device and is taking over the dreams of the characters involved. The heroin of the story is a girl named Paprika, who but the figment of one character's dreams. It is quite an interesting story.

Cashback (IMDb) is a British drama/comedy around a young art student who after a breakup with his girlfriend finds that he cannot sleep and so decides to trade the extra hours he's gained from his insomnia for cash by working at a local grocery store. He calls this process Cashback. Having worked in grocery stores I completely can identity with his perfect description of the techniques employees use to distract themselves from the agony of waiting for their shift to end, of accidentally viewing a clock and seeing how little time has really passed. Ultimatly he gets over his problems with insomnia by falling for a beautiful coworker who also inspires him artistically.

Ouid Pro Quo (IMDb) stars Nick Stahl (In the Bedroom, Terminator 3, HBO's Carnival) playing a paraplegic public radio reporter who gets a tip about a secret society of people who have no disability but wish they were paraplegic. As he tried to infiltrate this secretive community the only person who trusts him enough to open up to him is a woman played by Vera Farmiga (the female lead from The Departed) who he gradually begins a romantic relationship with. But as things progress more unusual truths are reveled until he discovers they share more in common than he would ever have imagined. Although a very interesting story with great acting, the filming has some serious sound problems. In crowded areas the conversations are almost inaudible. Perhaps this is something that can be fixed with remastering.