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Rating History

Apocalypto
Apocalypto (2006)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I expected more. Much more, I'd say. And after two hours I was somewhat disappointed at what I'd seen. I can't understand why there was so much fuss and hype about an average movie, which does look like a Discovery documentary with all those gory elements essential for savage life. I admit the movie looks great in terms of visual representation of the Mayan world, but is it enough?

Mel Gibson is an interesting director whose films are always an object of close attention of his critics and fans. I still remember my emotions after seeing "Braveheart" and think it's one of the best movies I've ever seen (which is proved by the presence of the movie in my DVD collection) though it sure has little in common with the real Scottish history. "The Passion of the Christ" was a benchmark for me while I chose critics for "My critics" list at the Rottentomatoes blog: their dislike was an initial ground for choosing (and vice versa). I didn't like the movie 'cause it didn't look true: it resembled some Baroque pictures where posture was more important than the content. After seeing "The Passion" I said to myself I'd never see Mel Gibson's movie again. I should've kept my promise as I see it.

The thing is I expected so much that my disappointment is too great to give the movie high evaluation. Of course visual impression is great (no wonder 'cause it was shot in Mexico), and though there were some inconsistencies in architecture and rituals it doesn't matter much. The whole movie is centered around a young hunter Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) whose tribe lives deep in the forest. The first part depicts the tribe's life in the forest with all its essential moments (hunting, eating, story-telling, joking and baby-making). Soon the idyllic scenery is broken by the violent intrusion of the Mayan warriors whose aim is to capture men and women. As it often happens in such movies there's a very bad guy (Snake Ink - Rodolfo Palacios) and just a bad guy (Zero Wolf - Raoul Trujillo). Jaguar Paw becomes an object of insults and tortures on Snake Ink's part, and in some moments his life is greatly endangered.

After the village is burned to ashes and most of the villagers are captured or killed, the audience has to follow the long trail to the Mayan stone city. There's some impressive moments here, but neither of them moved me enough to be mentioned here. After all Jaguar Paw manages to escape home, and the last forty-five minutes is a forest chase. Jaguar Paw has a strong motive to get back home as soon as possible 'cause his pregnant wife sits in the stone hole at the moment and unless he manages to get back home soon enough she's sure to die. I won't put other spoilers here, but you may be sure there's much to see here but no so much to be impressed with.

And this lack of impression is a problem of the whole movie. There's so much to like here (good directing, good visual representation, good story after all), yet it feels like a big pie made without filling. It has a potential, and I'm sure most liked it because of visual impressions, but on the whole I can't regard it as a good movie. My opinion: it deserves some credit rather than recommendation.

United 93
United 93 (2006)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[color=paleturquoise]I?m not an American, but strangely enough I identify myself with the movie and its characters. For most of my compatriots this tragedy (though very controversial, in fact) seemed a kind of retribution for everything that the US has done to the rest of the world (Note: I have to explain that these are the traces of years of Soviet propaganda, and such notions mostly reign among older people). As for me, I think it?s just a consequence of the senseless and brutal Western policy towards the Muslim world, which is exploited by American and European corporations for the sake of the Western way of living. We live in the same world, and yet one half of the human population regards another half as an enemy. I?m afraid such notions and ideas will prevail in the future, and another 50 years will by plagued with hostility and battle for power and natural resources (as it has already started in Iraq).[/color]

[color=paleturquoise]It was rather brave for Paul Greengrass to shoot such a movie. It's a fiction, but it looks so true to life that it's hard to believe it wasn't so in fact. Some evidence helped Greengrass recreate the story, and perhaps that's why it looks rather convincing (though as a person working for the airline company, I can't believe some of the aircraft's manoeuvres). And yet I didn?t expect much from the director who shot "Bourne Supremacy": I thought it'd be a kind of propaganda movie with some inspiring moments of courage and patriotism, etc., which is a common flaw in patriotic and heroic movies. Glad I was wrong.[/color]


[color=paleturquoise]The plotline depicts the whole story from the first officer's preparations till the very terrain collision. It's not a documentary, though some of the characters are played by their real prototypes. It's fiction from start till end, and yet it looks true and convincing. Convincing to the bottom of one's heart, and that's why I bought the agenda: in some moments tears filled my eyes though I'm not a good person in terms of sympathy. You know when you listen to dialogues between people who are likely to die and aware of it well enough, it's hard to keep a straight face and dry eyes. And it's a credit to Greengrass: unlike Oliver Stone?s insipid one, his movie is sure to remain in the history of September 11, 2006. It may not be too good, but does it matter when you see such a tragedy on the screen and know it happened for real (though the aircraft may well have been shot by fighter planes)?[/color]


[color=paleturquoise]It?s no use analyzing some directorial or acting aspects (most of the actors are unknown to me, and they didn't have much room to show anything). It's a jewel which shouldn't be valued for art of its creating, but for the shine it gives. I can?t find anything bad here (others may), and it?s very unusual for me not to put any criticism into the review.[/color]

[color=paleturquoise]The movie?s great and heart-rending. It?s a masterpiece in itself. Thank you, Mr. Greengrass. [/color]

Capote
Capote (2005)
9 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I chose "Capote" randomly: I just came up to the DVD stand and took the one which looked best (if you saw the cover you understand what I mean). Of course I knew it was the movie which gave Hoffman his Oscar award, and I have to confess it influenced my choice in a way. And now, after 100 minutes of ironic and patient contemplation I come to the conclusion the time spent isn't worthy of pleasure obtained in return.

For everyone who knows at least something about the American fiction Truman Capote's name sounds familiar. Can't say I like him very much (to me his style sounded rather boring), but his short stories seemed true and lyrical to a certain extent, which is a point to them. In this movie the creation story of his novel "In Cold Blood" is depicted. Based on Gerald Clarke's book and Dan Futterman's screenplay, the movie retains a scent of something artificial and contrived, though the director (Bennett Miller) did his best to achieve his goal. I hope it was his goal to show complicated interaction between Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the two murderers - Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino). Alas, he didn't manage to do it, though I appreciate his effort.

The story starts from the horrible scene when a young girl discovers a body of her friend shot to death. Later more three bodies were discovered - the whole Clutter family (it's a real murder which happened in 1959). Truman Capote comes across a newspaper article about it and travels from New York to Kansas with his friend Harper Lee (you may have read her book "To Kill a Mocking Bird" or have seen the movie) to write an article about the murder. Rather occasionally he meets one of the murderers (Perry), and here the story of their relations starts: an idea comes to Truman's mind that he could write a book about it ("honest", as he says at a New York party), and he does his best to keep the two convicts alive - he manages to do it for four years till both of them are executed.

The movie doesn't even try to make execution an issue: those two were guilty, and if the law says so they have to die (though I'm against death sentences). There's no issue here at all. It's just a depiction of how two people (Truman and Perry) want to use each other - one wants to write a book, and the other is eager to save his life (frankly speaking, I don't understand how he could count on mercy after four murders). Truman talks to Perry again and again, and they share their little secrets and sad remembrances about childhood. Soon Capote starts feeling a kind of dependence on Perry, and so does Perry. The whole story lasts for four years (as I mentioned) and ends at the moment, when Capote observes his Perry's execution. Quite a horrible spectacle though, but I understand why he did it: he wanted to get rid of this obsession which started to overcome him (by the way it did after all).

This movie isn't about why those two killed those four. And it's not a court movie (so if you expect an enthralling court drama, you're in the wrong room). It's about the way books are written and the way people are used. The director doesn't judge Hoffman's character at all: he's shown as he is - vain, pompous and avid for glory. But in search of glory Capote comes across something which is as close to him as different from him. In one scene he says, "We grew up in the same house, but I left through the front door, and he left through the back'. It's a kind of reminder to everyone that we're not so different, and sometimes one can find oneself in a predicament, when all of your childish fears and disappointments catch up with you.

The movie isn't good. It's stale and boring (starting from the middle), and you're unlikely to think much of it. But it tried not to be. It really did, and I understand it. Alas...