Archive for the 2000s Category

Buffalo Boy (Nguyen, 2004)

Posted in 2000s, 7/10 on December 5, 2013 by chrisfilm

Buffalo Boy (Nguyen-Vo Minh, 2004)

When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, ‘My son’; and he answered, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.’  –Genesis 27: 1-4

A solid coming-of-age story. A quiet but confident teenage boy is sent, in essence, to take on the world as his parents request he take their two buffalos to dry land to feed during flood season. It’s a long journey which finds him doing whatever he can to survive and meet his parents’ requests. But in doing so, he has no choice to grow up quickly. As he returns home, the story has really just begun. From here his relationship with his father, with his mother, with his newfound friends and enemies all contribute to the continual molding of this boy as a person. The many different worldviews become blurry, and like any other teenager, he bounces back and forth between believing the world has the answers and his father has the answers. It becomes a great depiction of a father/son relationship and how growing up and going out, and eventually maturing reshapes that relationship. Overall, it’s not as cinematic an experience as I would have liked and tends to become unfocused at times, but it’s a good watch despite this.  7.5/10

buffalo boy


Time of the Wolf (Haneke, 2003)

Posted in 2000s, 7/10 on October 14, 2013 by chrisfilm

Time of the Wolf (Michael Haneke, 2003)

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  –Genesis 22:12

Haneke’s post-apocalyptic vision – a subtle nightmare of corruption, fear, hopelessness. I say subtle, not because any of those three attributes are difficult to see, but because we never know why this world is in a post-apocalyptic state and we never venture outside of the small local setting. It’s a unique approach to the genre and reminded me a bit of Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which I liked. But it is so bleak and so drab with nothing but unhappiness at every turn. Even those trying to keep the peace seem to do so with such a forced will, like they can’t remember what the purpose of justice is besides being something they used to believe in. So while I can respect Haneke’s vision, which is most likely a very accurate representation of how this situation would look, and think this is an extremely well made film, it’s a very sad existence that brought nothing but dreariness to my view of humankind, and I don’t like that.  7.5/10

time of the wolf

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Montiel, 2006)

Posted in 2000s, 9/10 on February 20, 2013 by chrisfilm

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Dito Montiel, 2006)

Writing an auto-biography can’t be easy. Writing, then directing a film version of your auto-biography can’t be easy either. So let me get my minor quibble out of the way. The director making himself out to be a bad guy for making the central life decision seen in this film is sad. Realizing he needed to break the cycle of complacency towards violence, hatred, and failure was the right move.

guide to recognizing your saints

Okay, with that being said, I felt my heart break watching his honest depiction of his youth in this impoverished, violent neighborhood. Entrapped in the most complicated of ways, he wasn’t in a situation where there was no good surrounding him; his friends and family, while all deeply flawed, still loved him as best they knew how. But at the same time they were still harming him without even knowing it. The complexities of his numerous relationships were incredible and presented with such ease to where no one felt pigeon-holed as a ‘point’, but instead all felt like actual people working through their own confusions and insecurities. But in the end this is about a young man who recognizes something about his situation that no one else can see, and when he’s pushed past his breaking point, doesn’t give in to apathy. Nothing about this is easy to view, but everything about it is important to see.  9/10

Best of… Series – 2003 – All the Real Girls

Posted in 10/10, 2000s, Best of... Series on February 6, 2013 by chrisfilm

As a way to mix some of my old reviews in with my new reviews, I’m doing a Best of… Series. In this series, I will review my favorite movie of each year.

This review contains slight spoilers.

All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green, 2003)

Heartbreaking. Early David Gordon Green is a perfect representation of real life. Characters stutter, stop in mid-sentence, and say very strange things at times. I found myself recognizing some of the actions in this movie as some of my own. The film begins as a flirtatious romance is budding. The cute whispers of nothingness, shy but curious glances towards one another, and the feeling that happiness is the only emotion you’ll ever experience again. I’m not sure if new love has ever been as accurately portrayed, or as beautifully photographed and acted.

all the real girls

Then, the turning point came and I felt my world shatter along side them. Confusion, anger, sadness, confusion, confusion, and more confusion. Seriously, the ‘why’ aspect of the events that turn this film upside down are a mystery to everyone, even the perpetrator. It’s such an honest, frustrating, but somehow still poetic look at teenage years. It’s easy to be swept away and get your personal emotions tangled with those of the characters, and despite the pain, isn’t that when you know a film is on another level?  10/10

The Nativity Story (Hardwicke, 2006)

Posted in 2000s, 6/10 on December 28, 2012 by chrisfilm

The Nativity Story (Catherine Hardwicke, 2006)

Last weekend at church they played a video using scenes from this film and it was poetic, moving, and visually striking enough to interest the wife and I to watch the whole movie. Sadly, in the end, I found my church’s video to be closer to what I like in film than the actual movie. Joseph and Mary’s travels to Bethlehem are the highlight of the film. It is here where the time period feels most authentic, and where their relationship develops at a real pace. But without fail, every time the poetic goosebumps started to kick in, the scene would cut to the three wise men’s tale who were, unfortunately, presented more like the three stooges. More of Mary, Joseph, and the circumstances in which Jesus Christ was born (with maybe a little less hokey spotlighting), and less sideplots please. It could have been a uniquely serene film if told purely from their perspective.  6/10


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Cuarón, 2004)

Posted in 2000s, 9/10 on October 22, 2012 by chrisfilm

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuarón, 2004)

Random movie review time. I don’t know why, but I felt like today would be a good day to review my favorite Harry Potter film. Here is where the films become less about formula and making sure all plot points are covered and more about creating a world and becoming immersed in it. For the first time you can feel Hogwarts and the wizarding world, you can feel the effects of Harry’s past weighing on him, and you can feel bonds between characters. The large amount of screen time given to David Thewlis helps makes this movie was it is. He subtlety gives off the sense that life has dealt him a rough hand (both past and present) before we even know a thing about him, and the way his connection to Harry’s past acts as liberation to both characters is the most emotionally honest link in the entire series.


Additionally, this film is full of cinematic brilliance. Time is taken to focus on little day-to-day details which brings the fantasy world these characters live in to reality. Cuarón’s focus on telling the story visually gives the castle, the surrounding landmarks, and even the train to Hogwarts a feeling of depth – as if this world does exist somewhere in our own. He’s also not afraid to present the current bleak state of the wizarding world, and the combination of beauty and darkness is sublime.  9/10

Last Days (Van Sant, 2005)

Posted in 2000s, 7/10 on June 6, 2012 by chrisfilm

Last Days (Gus Van Sant, 2005)

I’d had this on my radar for a very long time and while it’s generally viewed as a ‘love it or hate it’ film, I found myself right in the middle. I can understand Van Sant’s intent – a movie about the true horrors of a rock star junkie lifestyle that doesn’t resort to any cliché events or circumstances. The scenes where the main character, alone in his house, takes up his instruments and loses himself in his craft are telling. Despite spending most of his time stumbling around, incoherent, and barely able to function, his music is fluid and flawless – a testament to one’s ability to escape reality when encompassed by an object of passion.

But despite my appreciation for the contrast, the stumbling incoherence grew tiresome after a while. The guy is made out to be a fool. Van Sant could have given us enough of a feeling for how miserable this man is while still including a slight glimpse into his non-shot up side. The way it is, and especially because it’s filmed in such long takes (which I love with the right setting), becomes tedious and distant for someone who has never experienced this lifestyle.  7.25/10