The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and
television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality
for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews
that are positive for a given film or television show.
From the Critics
From RT Users Like You!
The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
The Tomatometer is 75% or higher, with 40 reviews (movies) or 20 reviews (TV). At least 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
[i]Le Trou [/i]is a film that feels truly remarkable in its attention to details and specifics. In a sense, it feels like the [i]Rififi [/i]of the prison break genre. This is the rare prison break film that doesn't require a huge suspension of disbelief because every single aspect of the break is shown on screen. One of the truly great things about this film is that the film's director, Jacques Becker, is able to show you nothing but men digging a hole or breaking down a wall, and he somehow makes it completely riveting.
Credit must also be given to Becker and his cast of actors for being able to create such distinct characters among the inmates. There seems to be true personality to each prisoner, and I felt a genuine attachment to each of them. Marc Michel, Philippe Leroy, and Jean Keraudy are the standouts of the cast, but there are truly no weak links. Though the story and the characters are all imensely intriguing, [i]Le Trou [/i]is definitely more than a simple prison break film. Beneath the surface, there are certainly issues raised in the film about true friendship, solidarity, and possibly even politics. In terms of symbolism, the standout scene is clearly the one involving two prison guards feeding a fly to a spider. [i]Le Trou [/i]may be a highly entertaining prison break film on its surface, but there are certainly more layers to the film that make it a more complete experience.
Becker's [i]Le Trou [/i]is nearly flawless. The story, characters, and subtext are all wonderful and are also complimented with great cinematography. There are many shots in the film that are so stunning that they will leave you wide-eyed with your mouth open. It is the rare prison break film that doesn't require you to turn off half of your brain to enjoy it. Becker fills his film with so much detail that you have no choice but to believe that what is happening on screen is utterly realistic. It is also a film that is filled the brim with creativity and imagination. Each scene feels more innovative than the last. For my money, [i]Le Trou [/i]is the best film set in a prison that I have ever seen, which includes the likes of [i]The Grand Illusion [/i]and [i]The Shawshank Redemption. [/i]
Thanks to Kurosawa Fan for an awesome reccomendation.
Yimou's [i]To Live [/i]is a film that's both grand and simple. It is grand in the fact that the film takes you on a journey through three decades of political turmoil in China, but it remains simple by keeping the events focused on the lives of one couple. By the time the film is over, one feels as though they have gained a huge amount of insight to what life in China was truly like for those in working class as the Communist Party rose to power.
There's no doubt it's a political film, but I personally found it to be a rather objective one. This is definitely a debatable point, but I never thought Communism was vilified in anyway. It is true that many of the tragic events of the film can be directly related to the Communist movement in China, but these events seemed to attack the revolutionary movement moreso than Communism itself. When it was all said and done, I came away with no more positive or negative feelings about Communism. It'd be interesting to see how others come away from it.
Yimou shows the same control over his technique that he showed in [i]Raise the Red Lantern. [/i]He never goes too big, but his most important scenes don't feel underplayed either. Practically every scene hits the right note, and the film is truly devastating when he wants it to be. Yimou never seems to lose focus and never strays from the story or the characters we care about. Gong Li is absolutely terrific here in a performance that may even be better than the one she gave in [i]Raise the Red Lantern. [/i]Li constantly plays her age appropriately and she will leave you in tears during her bigger scenes. She is easily one of the best actresses working today.
This is probably the poorest script that Wes Anderson has directed to date. We wait at least 45 minutes for the story to progress yet very little is established before then. What is driving the brothers' desire to reconnect? Why were they driven apart in the first place? The answers could probably be hypothesized, but Anderson never makes us feel this sense of purpose. He never really gives us a reason to care. The story is too thin to carry its lofty thematic goals, and it results in a project that feels more like a minor exercise for the director than a complete work.
The film does show more compassion than the emotionally vacant [i]Life Aquatic[/i]. As a result, [i]Darjeeling[/i] is a step up from his previous effort. However, Anderson is still repeating himself. We're getting the same slow-mo tracking shots set to i-Tunes track #1 and the same character montages set to i-Tunes track #2. While Anderson allows more room for expressive acting to drive the drama, it's clear that he's still relying on detatched reactions to quirky situations to drive his comedy. More generally, he's still telling the same stories about the same repressed individuals with the same mommy/daddy issues. After five efforts, it's becoming clear to me that Anderson will forever be linked to the word "Limited," and it will have nothing to do with this film's title.
The good thing about going in circles is that your strengths will typically remain your strengths from project to project. Anderson hasn't lost his touch for charm nor his eye for aesthetically immaculate productions. There are scenes where the director's considerable talents come to the forefront. The most notable of such scenes is the hilariously executed brotherly tiff that gets a little out of hand and the river rescue that doesn't go exactly as planned. As successful as these scenes are, we're still reminded of things Anderson has already done: a comedic quarrel/rundown between Chas/Eli of the Tenenbaum clan and another aquatic tragedy in [i]The Life Aquatic[/i].
Should Anderson's stunted growth as an auteur stop us from appreciating [i]Darjeeling[/i] as a stand alone piece? Absolutely not. The film is a minor effort because of a sloppily structured narrative that never draws us into its incredibly thin premise. However, those that believe in the auteur theory have to consider this to be yet another moment of stagnation for the director. Because of his prior success, we have to consider a broader question when examining his latest work. Will Anderson's inability to progress prevent him joining the ranks of the best American auteurs of his time? Probably.
Most film enthusiasts are looking for the following three qualities in a film: thematic depth, emotional resonance, and evocative visuals. It's fortunate for us all then that Guillermo del Toro has created a film with hefty doses of all three. With [i]Pan's Labyrinth[/i], del Toro has made the ultimate cinephile crowd pleaser. It is one of the most complete movie-going experiences of the new millennium. del Toro deftly crafts a story that is works exceedingly well as an indictment of fascism, an affecting family drama, and a rousing and wholly unique fantastical adventure.
[i]Pan's Labyrinth[/i] is already a strong film on paper, but del Toro matches his emotional and engaging storytelling with remarkable technical execution. The most evident of the film's technical qualities are those involved in the overall aesthetic. The cinematography, art direction, costume design, make-up, and special effects combine to deliver an incredibly lush and vivid visual experience. A more subtle, but equally effective, technical quality to the film is its nearly impeccable sound design. del Toro and his crew always seem to emphasize the right sound at the right moment. It is here where the director's past experience in mainstream horror and action, where sound plays such a vital role, appears to be most key. Add into that some of the smoothest editing transitions you're ever likely to see, and you have a film that can be equally admired by film enthusiasts and filmmaking enthusiasts everywhere.
While the film's most transparent thematic target is 1940's era fascism, the parallels to a more contemporary war-torn world are undeniable. The film's violence is unflinching, but hardly glorified in the same vein as modern day action films. It is a type of violence that is not enjoyable or easily digestible nor is it meant to be. The graphic nature of the violence is is there to provide the stark contrast between "the reality" of a world torn apart by violence and "the fantasy" of a world where leadership is earned by refusing to shed innocent blood. In a fitting final touch, del Toro leaves it to the audience to choose which world they believe in.
Right away, after witnessing a ridiculous "home video" montage set to "Over the Rainbow", the audience will know they're in for a long one during the beginning moments of [i]Alpha Dog[/i]. Despite being "based on a true story," the youth culture that exists in the film could really only come from the mind of a 50 year old white man who grew up with Hollywood in his blood and background. The fact that the film was written and directed by a man who is absolutely clueless to the culture that he is trying to portray is all too transparent. It's a pure fantasy world sketched out by filmmaker Nick Cassavetes. In this world, every female is an empty vessel that is only good for ass slaps and the occasional sex romp. The mere thought of a kidnapping victim is apparently enough to get more than one of them to strip their panties off. If a female in this film is not begging to engage in fellatio then she's shrill, loud, and apparently useless. However, the film's rampant sexism and borderline misogyny only makes up a fraction of its questionable morality. It goes from relatively less frequent issues, like racially derogatory and homophobic writing, to the major issue of giving the sympathetic touch to a group of people that collaborate on a vile act. To say that the film doesn't try to emphatically show sympathy to its unforgivable characters would be a complete lie.
Perhaps it would be possible to look beyond the moral issues and terrible writing if the film had anything else going for it. But from narrative to aesthetic to actor-direction, Cassavetes blows the entire operation. The film carries no concept of "main character" whether that be in any given scene or the entire film. The characterization as a whole is laughable and is obviously a result of a writer who has absolutely no familiarity with his subjects. Cassavetes aesthetic can only be described as dull and barely even professional. The use of split-frame is pointless, and the over-saturated film stock used on *some* of the interview footage feels nothing more than amateurish. But Cassavetes biggest blunder in the role of director lies in his guidance of his actors. When I saw Cassavetes' [i]The Notebook[/i], I noted that the director was doing a disservice to his actors by never reigning in their performances, which allowed them to occasionally embarrass themselves on screen by over-acting. With [i]Alpha Dog[/i], this problem has only gotten much, much worse. Every other line of dialogue is screamed; every other scene features one or two characters with tears streaming all over thesmelves, and there are simply too many nervous twitches and emotional breakdowns to count. There is embarrassment to be felt for every actor on screen, but perhaps none more than Sharon Stone while she blubbers away in a fat suit. From the director of the nearly unbearable [i]John Q[/i] and the equally unbearable [i]The Notebook[/i], comes a film that somehow manages to be much worse than expected.
[u]Note[/u]: The body of this review unfortunately does not touch on a particular scene where a kung-fu fight, straight out of a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, breaks out during a house party. It is simply too inexplicable for the written word.