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Definitely something I have to watch again to wrap my head around. 10/10
9.5/10 one of the best movies i've seen.
I completely agree with the 7-year Anonymous review below (read that review after because of SPOILER). The movie was really starting off good and held your attention. Right when you start to piece the story together, and almost think you know what is going on, it comes to an end. The end then completely ruins everything you thought the movie was about which makes you feel unsatisfied.
*AYE MATEY, SPOILERS BE OFF THE PORT-BOW*

This is a brilliantly made, fantastically edited and shot movie that really sucks you into its abstract mystery. Then, once you're really interested in the whole thing, the ending pretty much sucks. It's essentially akin to the most hackneyed of plot devices: It was all a dream. The reason why this particular deus ex machina is so vile is that it invalidates everything you've just spent two hours watching. Nothing is more disappointing than investing such extensive time in trying to piece together and track various pieces of evidence and fragments of story, trying to divulge what the truth is, only to find out the entire thing is a lie.

This movie shares a lot in common with Shyamalan's The Village, in that the ending is only a surprise in so far as you think of it as a possibility ahead of time but reject it as so ludicrous and vile that you never expect it to be the actual ending. And then, low and behold, there it is, everything you just watched is irrelevant to "reality." I can't help but think that this film needs to have a new ending reshot that solves its varied riddle is a clever, intricate and valid way. Then, it would make the first hour and a half brilliant and worth remembering.


An Unfinished Life- Einar (Robert Redford) is a gruff Wyoming rancher living with his long-time friend and ranch hand, Mitch (Morgan Freeman), who has been recovering from a bear mauling. Jean (Jennifer Lopez) and her young daughter (Becca Gardner) have run away from her abusive boyfriend and seeking temporary refuge with Einar. There's still a lot of tension and unspoken anger between the two. Einar blames Jean for the death of his son from a car accident. As their stay continues each member imparts wisdom to the other, hard exteriors get warmed, and lessons about forgiveness are learned.

This is melodrama with a capital M. An Unfinished Life is clunky, the movie hasn't the foggiest idea when it comes to subtlety, the characters all shout out their feelings all the time, and worse yet, it's also incredibly transparent. A scene where Lopez breaks a dish and Redford goes nuts is just embarrassing. Of course they're talking about his dead son but the moment is played to the hilt that I half expected every line to end in a wink ("It's just a dish" wink "Maybe it's more than a dish to me!" wink "Maybe that was my favorite dish!" wink). Honestly, it was at this point that the film lost me. The metaphors are another symptom of the film's over ramped obviousness; Redford might as well be pointing at the bear to pantomime that it's supposed to represent his pain and anger. And Freeman's eventual forgiveness of his attacker is meant to encroach upon Redford to do likewise to the source of his pain, and many other moviegoers, Jennifer Lopez. I cannot find a movie emotionally involving when it doesn't even bother to mask its grand statements.

Seriously, this movie is brimming with sprawling earnestness meant to cover the narrative shortcomings. This is a simple tale that could have suckered the audience in with its framework to showcase complex characters and their personal interactions, like a Million Dollar Baby, but even though An Unfinished Life is simplistic it still manages to beat you over the head. Every line of significance is underlined so you get it. It's like director Lasse Hallstrom was making a seething parody of these overarching, small-town, large cast, homesy feel-good flicks he's specialized in for a decade.

The acting is all fine. Redford is fun to watch and get his Jeremiah Johnson back on. Lopez makes you forget how much you hate her in other movies. Freeman is settling into a weird groove as a disfigured narrator, and the young Becca Gardner gave me shudders of Jake Lloyd. Every line of hers is flat and monotone, though I'll give her another shot before writing her off. The acting of the ensemble really isn't the issue with An Unfinished Life.

Despite all its earnest intentions and lush scenery, An Unfished Life is too much melodrama squeezed into such a small space. It's an old fashioned tale that feels too convenient, too simplistic, too perfunctory, and too unhappy with being any of those things. This feels like a Hallmark card turned into a movie by someone who has no grasp for human emotion. Everything is shouted when it needs to be a whisper and explained when it needs to just be experienced. And yet there will be an audience for this slow burn small-town tale of forgiveness and accountability. It may please people immensely, but I prefer a little subtlety to my drama. I won't say the film is bad but I'll never say An Unfinished Life is particularly good, even as melodrama.

Nate's Grade: C

Stay- This is a movie that piles on the mystery and clues but once the finish does arrive I was left saying, "That's all there is?" There's so little to this film that, in retrospect, it's simply blowing off the dust on An Occurrence at Owl Creek (I may have said too much). The trickery Stay throws at you is slightly intriguing but mostly confounding and, once the reveal tidies everything up, wholly unsatisfying. Part of the problem is that I didn't care about any of the characters, so I didn't really care about their plight. Yes I get it that there is a reason for how shallow they are, but the only thing Stay had to keep me going was my waning interest in what the hell is going on with everything. I'm not the biggest fan of Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland) as a director, and he serves Stay to good and harmful effect. Forster gooses the film with all sorts of visual trickery like jump cuts, using twins and triplets as extras in backgrounds, repeating scenes, playing around with blocking, and lots and lots of spiral staircases (hello, Vertigo). And you do realize that most of these disorienting stylistic decisions have a seemingly coherent reason in retrospect, but it also effectively pushes the audience away from the story, aided by the fact that no one can get into the characters. The entire affair seems pointless and empty but it is pretty to look at. I'm sure I'd garner more from a second look, but I really just don't want to see Stay again.

Nate's Grade: C+

Howl's Moving Castle - The flick is wonderfully imaginative, as to be expected from Miyazaki. The Pixar people really do an excellent job of bringing these films to an American audience and treat the English dubs with reverence. I'm not someone who'll bemoan an English dub when it comes to anime but it's nice to see effort and respect. The story is a bit similar to Princess Mononoke with the warring factions, the mystic and the industrial, and Miyazaki's refusal to paint in black and white. There are so many delightful touches here from the fire demon to the door portal to one segment that just involves two old ladies ascending stairs for three minutes. And yet it's the spirit Miyazaki infuses and the attention to story and character that sets his films apart. There's a genuine sense of magic while watching his films and Howl is no different. The only bit of contention I had with the movie is how abrupt the ending is. Howl's Moving Castle is a bit soaked with confusion and some narrative cop-outs ("Surprise! I'm the prince responsible for the war!"). I would have loved another 30 minutes in this world as well as a better opportunity for Miyazaki to bring his story down with a smoother landing. Still, saying this is a slightly lesser Miyazaki film is like saying a million dollars is less awesome than 2 million dollars. Howl's Moving Castle is another sterling addition to a master storyteller.

Nate's Grade: A-


Like it. Love it. Or...absolutely fucking hate it

I will not be writing much about this film because I'm not totally sure I liked it or hated it. but judging by the rating I thought it was good. And one of the most confusing movies I have seen. It goes right up there with Donnie Darko. I thought Ryan Gosling from the famous Notebook did a really good job of playing a F'ed up individual. Just go rent this one before you buy it. For all those people who like weird movies, where its hard to get entertainment or meaning out of it for the average movie watcher....tell me what you think....cuz im still confused.

stay classy
On second thought, it reminded me of a HIGH SCHOOL film project gone bad! What a mess. How (why) do movies like this get made? I'm sure it had the best intentions, but it did not work AT ALL. It sure posed a lot of questions, though. Questions like:

1. Why cast three Brits as Americans for three of the lead roles? If they were dying to have Ewan McGregor, Namoi Watts, and Bob Hoskins in the film -- why not just set it in London?!? HELLO! The Tower Bridge could have worked just as well for key scenes! It's not like those three actors did any better job than three American actors could have done. And frankly, Naomi Watts has one of the worst American accents I've ever heard. I can practically feel her tongue shaping every over-articulated American syllable. I also rarely believed her for a minute in this film. I know she has done some good work in the past, but lately she's falling into the "overrated" camp, in my opinion. She's got lots of tics and comes off as very forced and plodding much of the time. (By the way -- they SHOULD have cast a Brit in the Ryan Gosling role! Ay yi yi! Talk about posturing!)

2. How many psychiatrists have you ever known who wear skinny yellow pants and little sailor sweaters? (Or whatever the heck that thing was that he was sporting.)

3. What in the world was up with the crazy cuts and editing? Give me a break.

4. Was it just me, or did anyone else groan when they started playing "These Eyes" after a character re-gained his sight? Talk about going for the obvious!

In a nutshell -- lots of sturm and drang signifying not too much, which led up to the big "reveal" at the end. Didn't work at all. I love Ewan McGregor, but I have to be honest -- I could not wait for this to end.


Match Point
Starring: Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys-Myers
Directed by: Woody Allen
I think its good, but a little slow.
If you like this type of movie. I think you'll like this one.

It's quirky and twisted, though not as smart as it thinks it is.

When I got to the end of the movie I thought it was going to go one of two ways and the movie did go down one fo those two paths. Predictable, but not overly so. But hey... not everythng can be The Sixth Sense.
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