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Misshaped's reviews view profile

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Trust a Danish Hosteller  
on February 3, 2005 - 12:26 AM PST
  of Flickering Lights (2001)
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful

I work at a hostel and I make a point to ask international travellers which films from their contries I should watch. This little gem was brought to my attention by a group of Danish hostellers. It was described to me as this..."Imagine the guys from Resevoir Dogs go on to open up a restaurant after the heist." I was expecting a bloody riot, but it ended up being quite sweet and touching.

Anders Thomas Jensen is one of the Dogme '95 directors, so you might want to also check out some of his writing credits for Dogme #3 Mifune (which I thought was so-so), Dogme #4 The King is Alive, or Dogme #28 Open Hearts.
My first Fassbinder  
on December 31, 2004 - 7:35 PM PST
  of The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (1972)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful

What a great way to start an obsession with Fassbinder. This film is gorgeous to look at, but painful if you allow yourself to become involved in the lives of the characters. It's amazing to think that he made 33 films in his short time as a filmmaker. Watch the extras for more info about'll learn a lot.

The characters exist in a claustrophobic space together in Petra's apartment and the viewer is held captive in the middle of these intense love/hate relationships. There are no outside shots and many of the scenes are extremely long single shots, so it's easy to fall victim to Petra's obsessive needs and desires in her home.

You may love Petra and feel her pain, or perhaps you'll feel the need to slap her around, but in the end you will be glad Fassbinder took the time to explore these interesting characters.
Unsettling & Incomparable  
on December 31, 2004 - 7:21 PM PST
  of Heart of Glass (1976)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful

Herzog's slow pacing sets the mood for this dreamlike film. The actors were actually put under hypnosis, so their performances are creepy and memorable. It's short (only 94 minutes), but the story carries you along into the dark fairy tale world of a pre-industrial 19th century Bavarian village. I don't think you'll find another film like it. Take your time with it and allow yourself to enter the world and its apocalypic vision without expectations.
George Clooney keeps surprising me  
on December 31, 2004 - 6:57 PM PST
  of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

Yes, George Clooney was originally on the "Facts of Life", but he's come a long way since then. I was really impressed by his direction of this film. I'm actually looking forward to a lot more from him in the future.

I don't think you need to know who Chuck Barris is before seeing this film, but it's good to know at least that he was the host of The Gong Show and he created a lot of other cheezy game shows. I also don't think it matters if you believe if he was a hired killer working with the CIA. Sam Rockwell does an excellent job bringing Chuck to life with all of his tics, gestures and vocal intonations. Drew Barrymore plays along side of Sam as Chuck's love interest, Penny. Drew wasn't terribly interesting, but I did enjoy the snippets of Julia Roberts, who appears later in the film.

I'm looking forward to "Goodnight, and Goodluck", another film George Clooney will be directing in the future. In this one, Edward R. Murrow comes up against Senator Joseph McCarthy. Sounds interesting to say the least.
What makes a family?  
on August 6, 2004 - 8:13 PM PDT
  of What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
6 out of 7 members found this review helpful

Peter Hedges asks a very important question in What's Eating Gilbert Grape; "How do you fulfill your individual purpose in life and yet be of a family? That's our task - to say we come from where we come, and we're composed of those who preceded us, and yet, we have to forge ahead. One of the ways to do that is to not run away. It's to stay present and to try to separate what's mine from what's theirs. And in that, there can be much dignity and much can be learned."

There are some interesting differences between the book & the movie. Gilbert feels much older in the book & his mother is an angrier person, full of rage which led to her overeating. In some ways I wish the movie depicted this more darker representation of an older son dealing with a much more frustrated mother and frustrating siblings. Johnny Depp's "Gilbert" seems to have occasional temper tantrums within the confines of resignation towards his family. I'd prefer to have seen an even more angsty struggle in an intense relationship with his totally dependent mother and brother. Peter Hedges explains; "A lot of the journey in terms of Gilbert's relationship with the mother is about where he ends up. By the end, he has a full range of feelings about her, but added to his collection of feelings is some respect - a lot of respect, and love and appreciation."

If somehow you missed seeing this film, put it in your queue and find out what exactly is eating Gilbert Grape.
Be careful what you wish for.   
on July 8, 2004 - 10:56 AM PDT
  of Little Otik (2000)
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful

In the great Hollywood tradition of films based on the troubles of parenthood (Eraserhead, Raising Arizona, Rosemary's Baby, and the like), Little Otik gives us the Eastern European outlook. "In a Czech Republic created from the Velvet Revolution of Vaclav Havel, Little Otik clearly says that humans should not cop out on their responsibilities to others or sweep misconduct under the rug but should instead look beyond the immediate present to the long-range consequences of their behavior to their societies." For more insights into the politics of this film. It is as well a new version of the Faust myth: when one rebells against nature, there will always be a tragic reaction to that rebellion.

Jan Svankmajer's technique is brilliant, and there is a great animated sequence in the middle of the film. I love the film within a film. Some have complained that the film is too long (2hours), but I didn't have any trouble with the time.

If you like it, make sure to add The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
A for Maggie, but a D for Negroponte  
on July 4, 2004 - 9:28 AM PDT
  of Jupiter's Wife (1994)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This documentary was the Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and has been dubbed "one of the 10 best films of the year" by the San Francisco Chronicle. I'm a little surprised by that since I wasn't terribly impressed by this film. Sure, it's incredible that it was made for around $500, but its quite slow and meanders through the life of an interesting subject. Negroponte is a fairly dull narrator, who seems to have never encountered a homeless person before. It's almost a shock to him that somebody who is homeless can be so fascinating. In some ways, he seemed to focus on the more bizarre things about Maggie and tried to interpret the things she said in order to come up with a much more grandious conclusion about her character. I think you've got to really like Maggie and her story a lot (which I actually did), or find Negroponte fascinating (which I didn't) to keep your interest. At times he shows his own home movies/photos of his family, which I found distracting. Also, the extras were just outtakes which didn't add much to the story. I'm still clinging to hope though that W.I.S.O.R (2001) or Children Underground (2001) are better examples of his work.

A lot of reviews indicate that this film will "change the way you look at homeless people". I guess that may be true if you've never taken the time or had the opportunity to actually talk to somebody who is homeless. Then again, not all homeless people believe they are the spouse of the god Jupiter and are as lucid as Maggie is. I suggest you volunteer or work at a homeless shelter like I did for a couple of years. That will definitely change the way you look at homeless people.
Peter Sellers presents the Daodejing   
on July 3, 2004 - 10:40 PM PDT
  of Being There (1979)
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful

The spirit and meaning of this film manifests itself differently for each person who sees it. This is quite like the character, Chance, played to perfection by Peter Sellers. You may see him as Jesus, a divine man and uncorruptable by power, wealth or lust. Or maybe he's just like the slow witted soul, Forrest Gump, who savors the most out of life and his lucky encounters. Some have likened him to the Roadrunner in the cartoons, who can easily avoid the pitfalls while the Coyote drops off the cliff everytime.

Reading about Taoism, I can see in this film a clear connection to the order and harmony of nature, which will always prevail over the power of the state. Chance is in accord with Tao. He is simple, in harmony with his garden, and unconcerned with fame or fortune. In Chinese writings, Taoists were said to have magical powers and could heal people or restore their vitality. One is not supposed to strive for power since that is pure vanity. One should try to do "nothing". This is the state of wu-wei...following the flow of natural forces. Chance is carried along this stream of events in his life, never resisting but allowing life to happen around him. By doing nothing, he accomplishes everything.
Meshes of the Afternoon - American avant-garde classic  
on June 23, 2004 - 9:01 PM PDT
  of Maya Deren: Experimental Films (2002)
6 out of 7 members found this review helpful

I remember watching "Meshes in the Afternoon" in a college class, and 16 years later it was wonderful to revisit this film/poem. I still get chills from it.

If you are fascinated by films that still influence current filmmakers, then this series is a requirement. As well, I learned a lot of details about Maya through the DVD extras (Anais Nin met Maya while she was filming "At Land"). The New York Times said that Deren "both evoked and exemplified the American avant-garde movement virtually by herself."

Of note: after Maya graduated college, she worked with Katherine Dunham (anthropologist/dancer) and it's evident from her films that Maya had a profound awakening from this collaberation. She wrote an essay around that time entitled, "Religious Possession in Dancing". The DVD includes a snippit of a film Maya didn't complete prior to her death; "Divine Horseman: The Living Gods of Haiti".

Maya fills her dervish-like characters with a vodoun spirit, carrying them through a most personal and symbolic dreamworld. I may be way off base here, but I believe David Lynch was inspired by Meshes of the Afternoon when he composed Lost Highway. Each is a moebius strip filled with a sense of doom for the many dopplegangers involved. And as in vodoun practice, the dream self or spirit can inhabit another body in the world of the surreal.
Jesus is coming back... and he's coming for his bride  
on June 12, 2004 - 8:21 PM PDT
  of Hell House (2001)
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful

I've heard of hell houses...this wasn't a surprise to me that they existed. I know how people are when their convictions are strong and they believe 100% in what they are doing. The people of Trinity Assembly who put on the hell house believe it's the best way to get people to accept Jesus into their lives...scaring the hell out of them!

The part of the movie that actually surprised me was the total joy felt by the kids and parents when they were chosen to play the part of "abortion girl", "suicide girl" or "date-rape guy". Yes just like a school play, they auditioned for these parts in the hell house. Nobody seemed to want to play an angel...weird.

Also, there are some quotes from this film that are darn right S C A R Y !!

"Jesus is coming back and he's coming for his bride." was uttered by one young girl. Please somebody tell me what does that mean?! Is this in the Bible, because it's freaking me out.

"I'd like to thank my rapists." cheered a girl who played a rape victim at a rave. She told the camera that she wasn't sure what it would be like to be "raped" but it ended up being fun. I didn't know if I should laugh or scream in horror.

How about the dad that said to his daughter, "Boy, I hope I get Domestic Violence this year"?

How about a pentagram spray painted on one of the sets that ends up as a Star of David? Are you scared yet?

I really think that the people of Trinity Assembly believe they are doing God's work. But as they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
Desperation & Disillusionment  
on June 12, 2004 - 7:08 PM PDT
  of Carnal Knowledge (1971)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This film is well crafted and positions each of the characters on the edge of an emotional breaking point. We watch them come together and eventually implode under the weight of their relationship issues.

The two main characters are almost polar opposites. Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) contantly flashes that salacious grin, but behind the wall of teeth hides a man who feels each woman in his life burned him and stole something precious from him...his youthful vitality & potency. Sandy (Art Garfunkel) displays a desperation and ineptness towards his first girlfriend (Candice Bergen), and she stays with him not because she is attracted to him, but because he is "safe"...a known in a world of dangerous relationships. Jonathan eventually shacks up with a sexy woman slightly past her prime (Ann Margaret). She is his ideal in many ways, but can she continue in an empty relationship built solely on physicality?

As we follow the growth of these men, we peek into their bedrooms and hope to see something titillating and erotic, but instead we're left feeling the emptyness that comes from failure. It is a dark and very honest film.
Brilliant! Manic! Boils!  
on June 5, 2004 - 11:35 PM PDT
  of How to Get Ahead in Advertising (Criterion Collection) (1989)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This film is so underrated. It's been on my list of movies-to-watch since it came out, and 15 years later I was impressed with the spot-on relevant storyline. Today, we continue to be sick mass consumers buying into almost anything PR/advertising throws at us.

This film drips of 1980's British satire and has garnered comparisons of Withnail and I, Fight Club, Network, American Beauty, Wall Street, and Swimming with Sharks.

George Harrison was Executive Producer of this film. He had his hand in other projects as well (Mona Lisa, Rutles, A Private Function, Monty Python's Life of Brian, Time Bandits, and Black and Blue by Robert Altman)
There are no samurai here  
on June 5, 2004 - 9:49 PM PDT
  of Mifune (1999)

Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" inspired the title for this movie. Mifune is a samurai in denial of his poor past, but in the end has to deal with his heritage and become the hero in the movie. I'm afraid this version of the story was a little flat. I really enjoyed how it was filmed on digital since I'm a huge fan of the Dogme style (see the Vow of Chastity to understand:), but the plot didn't have any truly surprising elements to keep my interest. Kresten's relationship with his brother Rud was the only partnership that I cared about, but it felt like I was watching the Swedish version of Rain Man after a while. When they hire a stunningly gorgeous prostitute housekeeper named Liva, and end up taking in her bratty younger brother who's been kicked out of private school, it all unfolded quite conventionally (happy ending included). I'm not saying this was a disaster, but it just didn't blow my mind either.
I'm not deluded, I'm possessed!  
on June 2, 2004 - 11:15 AM PDT
  of Gothika (2003)
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful

Don't you just love it when you get to the end of a movie and all you want to do is talk about it with the person you saw it with? You can't wait to go over the interesting plot twists and turns...and the excellent character development...and the gorgeous cinematography. I love that!

But it's a definite sign of a bad movie when you have to sit down with the person you saw it with and figure out how to make the movie plausible.

This is a movie that starts off quite interesting. Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz & Robert Downey Jr...good actors...the movie looks pretty nice. The suspense builds from the beginning and then wham bam we're in the middle of a supernatural thriller. You start to wonder how it's going to work out in the end and then wham bam...Deus Ex Machina. I can just see the writers scratching their heads on this one. "How do we get our hero out of trouble?" Let's just skim over the plot holes, throw in some creepy stuff, some violence, and owls flying at your face in a barn...the audience will work out the ending later.

It's a shame really because I wanted to like this film more than a "five".
Seven videos - I wish there were more  
on May 25, 2004 - 8:18 PM PDT
  of Bjork - Volumen Plus (1993)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful

"Alarm Call" directed by Alexander McQueen: Bjork looks amazing in this video but that's not very surprising. There's a scene with a snake moving up between her legs...cliche I'm afraid. There's a simple eroticism without much originality in this video.

"All Is Full of Love" directed by Chris Cunningham: I felt a deep sadness during this video. It was so powerful and easily one of the greatest videos Bjork has ever made. There is such a humanity displayed between two robots that embrace and kiss, yet the love is one that will never be free of the the machine world. Without the other machines keeping them running, it appears they would be unable to continue existing though their love is everlasting.

"Hidden Place" directed by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin and M/M (Paris): I had a hard time staying focused during this video since it had a high level of repetition. It felt somewhat sinister since globs of liquid were coming from her eyes and nostrils and pouring into her mouth, but Bjork's expression was one of joy. I kept trying to find the "hidden place" the song was referring to and was unable to locate it.

"Pagan Poetry" directed by Nick Knight: This video started off quite abstract and little by little Bjork's form is revealed. It is slowly shown that the dress she wears is attached to her skin by piercing small strands of pearls. It is such a beautiful image that you barely notice that her skin is pierced until the end where huge hooks are threaded through her back in a corset shape.

"Cocoon" directed by Eiko Ishioka: I felt this was a very silly video, lighthearted and comical in nature. Bjork is portrayed in a highly Japanese style and worms of red ribbon flow out from her nipples as she plays with them, twirling like a kite tail. Eventually she is wrapped up in this ribbon like a cocoon, floating into the sky.

"It's in our Hands" directed by Spike Jonze: I was disappointed in this video since I really love the videos Spike Jonze has done in the past. I was afraid for a few minutes somebody edited in a copy of Paris Hilton's sex tape, but it was actually Bjork portraying a tiny faerie in the woods.

"Nature is Ancient" directed by Lynn Fox: Even though this video does not feature Bjork, I found this to be my favorite video in the collection. It was fascinating to look at and was both a look into the cosmos as well as the womb. The universal beauty of creation is evident and I felt worked perfectly with the song.
You have to make a choice in life: Be a gambler or a croupier.   
on May 25, 2004 - 6:33 PM PDT
  of Croupier (1998)
13 out of 14 members found this review helpful

The stone faced Jack Manfred lies through his teeth with a cold and calculated stare, and as a viewer I am never quite sure what to believe about him. A very interesting backstory is hinted throughout this film and the plot is fluid enough to go in any direction. Jack swears he doesn't gamble yet he manupulates chips and cards like an expert card sharp. Is he writing a book and taking the job as a croupier to be a more authentic author or is he just doing this to be part of the world of gambling? His father claims riches and success yet he mixes drinks at a poolside bar. Does Jack love his girlfriend, or the fellow dealer he works with at the casino, or the South African punter he meets in the casino?

I'm not sure we'll ever know if he's honest Jack or his alter ego Jake hiding behind his cards. It's never easy to know with an unreliable narrator, but I stopped worrying about it when I allowed myself to be enveloped by this most stylish and sexy movie.
The name caught my eye  
on April 29, 2004 - 7:53 PM PDT
  of Wisconsin Death Trip (2000)
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful

I wasn't wild about this film, but there were parts of it I really liked. Imagine coming across some old newspaper clippings or some yellow, dog-eared photographs in a old photo album. Each of those stories and faces you look into are connected to a pecular place in time and space. When you string those images together, you get a feel for that lost and buried history. James Marsh digs it up and pastes it together to form a picture of Wisconsin somewhere in its hidden past. It's not a horror film like Blair Witch, nor is it a social commentary like Dogville, but to me it falls somewhere in the no man's land of "in between".
Have you rented this yet?  
on April 29, 2004 - 7:35 PM PDT
  of Farewell My Concubine (1993)
7 out of 7 members found this review helpful

If you've been thinking about renting this, then make sure it's high up in your queue. Honestly, it's about time you saw it. Leslie Cheung is absolutely amazing and it's such a loss that he is no longer with us. The first part of the film shows us in painful detail the training young boys went through to be a part of the Peking Opera Academy in the early 20th century. The film is also filled with overlapping and complex relationships: 1)Cheng Dieyi (Leslie Cheung) and Duan Xiaolou (Fengyi Zhang) are two boys who grow up together and become "stage brothers", 2)Juxian (Gong Li) and Xiaolou marry & 3)the king and concubine in the opera "Farewell my Concubine". This is not just a personal journey you're watching, but also an informative Chinese history lesson. See it already, ok?
Don't work with kids or animals  
on April 24, 2004 - 7:10 PM PDT
  of School of Rock (2003)
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful

Jack Black brings up this quote in the extras on this DVD and says he's not worried because he's a big kid as well as an animal himself. I tried to ignore the things I didn't like about this movie while I was watching it. Why did you have to be so amazingly whiny Sarah are usually so funny?! Why didn't you go all Stevie Nicks on us Joan Cusack...I know you had it in you?! Why was the whole movie so could have actually had a few plot twists and turns?! I guess in the end I just like to see Jack Black acting like a big goofy dork. He's really good at it. My only advice is to put this movie a bit lower in your queue than I did. There are a lot better movies than this one floating around.
Based on a true story  
on April 24, 2004 - 7:01 PM PDT
  of Murderous Maids (2000)
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful

I cringe sometimes when I hear the words, "based on a true story." I worry there is no way a film could truly capture a real life experience. But Murderous Maids comes very close to the story floating in my mind about what happened to these two sisters. There is an intensity, a yearning, a hurried need in Sylvie Testud's eyes when she looks at her simple and naive sister played by Julie-Marie Parmentier. It is not a lustful or carnal passion, but more like a parent living through her child. She knows that any dream she might have had for herself will never come true, so instead she tries to give the world to her sister. She is stuck in her caste and is unchosen in the world...she is the drudge with no future. But even these plans fall short and the world comes crashing down on the heads of these maids. Don't rent this if you're only looking for some incestuous lesbian French maid on maid action.
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