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maritoni's reviews view profile

the joy of jarmuch  
on January 11, 2005 - 9:45 AM PST
  of Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful

Jim Jarmuch's latest effort COFFEE AND CIGARETTES is an amusing string of vignettes tied together with (what else) coffee, cigarrettes, checked tables, a great soundtrack and strange conversations. Very little plot here. Mostly actors play themselves (a clever device which I found to be an interesting exercise in acting for the performers), including Steven Wright, Roberto Begnini, Joie and Cinque Lee, Cate Blanchette and whole host of other famous and less-famous faces.

To me the most successful scene has Alfred Molina and Steve Coogan playing more or less themselves. They meet for the first time in an LA cafe on Molina's initiation. Hilarious banter between two actors playing ego trips with each other in oddly classic comedic form.

Cate Blanchette does a nice turn as playing herself and opposite herself as down-n-out rocker cousin Shelly. Another great vignette involves an unlikely exchange between Wu Tang-ers Gza and Rza and the always charming Bill Murray.

As other reviewers note, some scenes are more successful than others, but on the whole it's good fun. Definitely worth a view.

examination of lonliness and sensuality  
on August 6, 2004 - 1:25 PM PDT
  of Swimming Pool (2003)
4 out of 11 members found this review helpful

i saw see the sea and then this ozon film. the two are definitely of a certain genre of ozon films. the themes that come to mind are ominous tension, lonely women, beautiful places, water, sexual repression/expression. the film is a tad slow, but holds attention anyway.

rampling is appropriately understated, uptight and lovely as sarah. sagnier does a nice turn as the super sexual, sad julie. there are enough unexpected detours along the way to keep things moving. and once you've seen it, check out a fascinating analysis of the film on ozon's official website (there are spoilers so don't read it before you see it!)
strange, spooky  
on August 1, 2004 - 11:46 PM PDT
  of See the Sea (1997)
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful

there is an ominous feeling from the very start of the film which builds ever so slowly to the inevitable, but still shocking conclusion. the relationship between the women is intense and confusing. apparently ozon did not reveal the plot to the actors ahead of time and they improvised on camera. that technique works really well, makes good use of a lot of silence and quiet and tension, adding to the haunting feeling. thoroughly engaging and disturbing.
interesting and significant, though not my cup of tea  
on August 1, 2004 - 11:36 PM PDT
  of The Unbelievable Truth (1989)
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful

appreciate the originality (at the time) of hartley's approach and it's not hard to see the influence hartley has had on indie filmmaking. the tone is quirky and self-important with lots and lots of dialogue (delivery of which feels deliberately whiny and hokily earnest), and not too much in the way of plot or action. worth a view if you are an indie film fan, just to know hartley's work. but i can't say i really enjoyed it.
good for the fans  
on August 1, 2004 - 11:20 PM PDT
  of 24 Hour Party People (2002)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

as the description implies, yes this film is meandering. a bit too long at nearly 3 hours. of course if you're a fan of the manchester music scene it's a fun watch. i also appreciated the unique storytelling technique, though not entirely successful, using a sort of unexpected central character, tony wilson, to follow through the period from punk scene through to the raves. wilson serves the the film pretty well, especiall with his day job as a tv reporter giving a comedic and slightly historic background to the story. the filmmakers are definitely big fans and it's certainly an affectionate portrayal. the extras are pretty good too!
truly a classic  
on July 17, 2004 - 3:36 PM PDT
  of Drunken Master (1978)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

i really enjoyed seeing this one again. to me it's jackie chan at his best. and it's the kind of kung fu film that i grew up watching on saturday afternoons on tv - fun, not too serious, with great kung fu choreography. for a kung fu film the story is pretty good. in fact, "karate kid" seems to have stolen a lot of the stuff. i highly recommend for fans of kung fu.
a classic, sort of  
on July 17, 2004 - 3:29 PM PDT
  of The Heroic Trio (1992)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful

it's film i've meant to see for ages and when i finally buckled down and did it it was not quite what i expected. other reviewer's note about no original language is one big disappointment. the other is how dated it feels. though a lot of the action sequences hold up pretty well, the costumes and f/x are so cheese it's laughable and launches this more into the hokey/campy arena. nonetheless, it's always fun to see chicks kick butt, especially these legendary hk actors. i would peg this as a must see, just because it is if you're into the genre, not because it's particularly great.
"the people you don't usually see"  
on July 5, 2004 - 1:10 PM PDT
  of Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
16 out of 17 members found this review helpful

this film felt very real for the most part because of the subtle directing of frears. though the acting felt a little uneven in parts, all the actors/characters are fairly engaging and complex. i love that this is a story about immigrants - not mobsters or superheroes or society types. the story that unfolds is compelling and even stressful but in an understated, intense way that reveals a side of london that you don't often see. there is even a love story embedded, but thankfully no saccharine hollywood, neatly tied up conclusion. overall a fresh look at the daily challenge of living as an immigrant.
on January 24, 2004 - 9:29 AM PST
  of Days of Heaven (1978)
0 out of 2 members found this review helpful

A gorgeous film. It's languid and rich. Not a lot of dialogue, with nice convincing performances by all, especially Richard Gere. An indie classic.
on January 23, 2004 - 8:02 PM PST
  of 25th Hour (2002)
8 out of 9 members found this review helpful

The best Spike Lee movie in some time. Ed Norton and the rest are well-cast as flawed but likeable characters and Lee does a fine job directing. Intense, brash and stylish, just as you hope for from 40 Acres and a Mule.
Elegantly, quirky and campy  
on January 23, 2004 - 7:55 PM PST
  of 8 Women (2002)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful

What a strange and delightful film. It's a musical. It's a murder mystery. It's beautiful women. It's French. Some of the songs are a bit strange and long and the story sometimes drags, but in general, I found this film intriguing and engaging. The production design is colorful and very pleasing. And of course all the ladies are gorgeous and joyful to watch.
on January 23, 2004 - 7:50 PM PST
  of Heavenly Creatures (1994)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

Beautifully filmed with wonderful performances by both Lynskey and Winslet. The film evokes a fantastical playful tone with such subtle darkness that it's easy to empathize with the protagonists albeit with a that harrowing feeling that something's going to happen. A winner in my book!
strives for lovely, not really amazing  
on August 7, 2003 - 1:10 PM PDT
  of Lovely & Amazing (2001)
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful

an interesting attempt to look at family dysfunction that doesn't quite succeed.

though i appreciate the skills and performances of each of the main actresses, i couldn't help feeling that the film was incomplete somehow. the characters as written all bordered on being charicatures and lacked a depth that i wanted to see come through. the humor faltered somewhere between dark and fluffy.

there are some nice moments like the post-coital scene between mulrooney and mortimer (which another reviewer mentions) and a sweet scene between keener and goodwin at mcdonalds.

after beating you down throughout the film with a sort of depressing futility, it suddenly ends with a quiet hopefulness that yeah, this is my family, it's what i've got and i'm sticking to it...
worth a view  
on July 21, 2003 - 11:07 AM PDT
  of Smoke Signals (1998)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful

decent first feature for chris eyre. sherman alexie wrote screenplay. important, groundbreaking film for the native american community.

to me, this film gives a first impression of contemporary native american life. the story is rather predictable and the characters aren't that deeply drawn, though they are refreshingly diverse (you might even say quirky, certainly non-stereotypical). the cast is likeable, especially the lead actors and somehow when i got to the end i was satisfied.

hopefully, this is just the tip of the iceberg for these talented folks.
heartfelt, understated drama  
on July 18, 2003 - 12:19 PM PDT
  of Our Song (2000)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

Writer/Director Jim McKay brings a truly sensitive, realistic portrayal of three teen girls who are best friends in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. "Our Song" follows Joy, Lanie and Maria over the course of a transitional summer.

Excellent performances by all the lead actresses and the Jackie Robinson Steppers (the girls are all in this wonderful community marching band) as well as many of the supporting roles. It's such a pleasure to see characters of color (and young women at that) portrayed with depth in such rich roles that go far beyond stereotypes of urban life.

Shot in documentary style, McKay really captures the feeling of this community from these girls perspective. One thing that makes it so real is the wonderful performances. The other strength is the well-written script with much of the tension and emotion revealed in what is left unsaid, rather than overly explaining things in dialogue.

In the end, I felt both sad and uplifted reminded of the pain and hope of being young and going through life changes. I highly recommend this film!
Let's hear it for the art of low-budge filmmaking!  
on July 7, 2003 - 11:13 AM PDT
  of Pi (1998)
10 out of 11 members found this review helpful

Fascinating and visually arresting feature debut of Darren Aronofsky. The talented director gives you a true film experience.

Sean Gullette stars (and co-wrote the script) as Max a paranoid (rightfully so) sociophobic genuis mathemetician in search of the pattern behind the stock market. The story is a bit clunky as is some of the supporting acting (especially the "corporates" who are out to get him), but Gullette and Aronofsky do a nice job getting us into Max's head. And what Max is really looking for is simple and earnest - truth and order.

What's really great about the film is the wonderful use of the medium in telling the story. Aronofsky and his crew present a visual and emotional story without having to tell us so explicity as we've seen time and time again in low budget indie flicks.

Definitely a must see!
Season 1 Disc 1 is a dark and funny appetizer  
on July 1, 2003 - 9:52 AM PDT
  of Six Feet Under: Season 1 (Disc 1 of 4) (2001)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

I don't have cable so I've been waiting to be able to finally rent this series on DVD. My wait was worth it.

There are so few television shows that really bring an original voice, personality and place. Northern Exposure was one of my favorites and while I can't say this is quite there yet (let me get through the next Disc or two and see how things develop) it does remind me of that quirky yet genuine feeling I get from the characters and place. Wait, where does this take place? Los Angeles? A unique LA anyway...

The format of using a recent client to frame the story for the episode works well, but what it comes down to is a wonderfully tortured and yet loving (even normal) family constantly shadowed by the recently passed patriarch of the family and his chosen line of work. Makes for good and profound comedy and drama.

Plus, the boys and girls are all eye candy, albeit strangely so. Looking forward to Disc 2.
Imperfectly quirky and enjoyable  
on June 25, 2003 - 1:01 PM PDT
  of Bottle Rocket (Criterion) (1996)
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful

It's great to see Wes Anderson's early piece to appreciate the evolution of his directorial hand. BOTTLE ROCKET is a valiant first feature with likeable characters played by expert quirksters Luke and Owen Wilson and Robert Musgrave.

The story follows the uneasy friendship of the trio as they muddle through crimes that in the end seem pointless. But that's not the point. The point is seeing these relationships unfold and discovering what matters to each of the unusual, yet somehow familiar (a little Dignan in each of us?) characters.

A worthy comic effort that doesn't use too much formula and let's us just enjoy our new friends. Well written and nice performances from the leads, with a few strange supporting roles. Definitely worth a view!
Great performances!  
on June 23, 2003 - 2:39 PM PDT
  of Personal Velocity (2001)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

First off, you have to appreciate some wonderful, layered performances by each of the three actresses, Kyra Sedgewick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk. And then you have to appreciate a story that works so well with the DV medium.

Each story tells the tale of a complicated woman that goes through some sort of transformation. I appreciated the "reality" of the characters and the lack of concern for tying things up neatly. This is the perfect kind of story to use DV, allowing the performances to breathe and giving that sense of intimate voyeurism into someone's dysfunctional life which may or may not parallel our own.

I question the role of the male narrator, but in the end it didn't bother me too much. Perhaps it was to be able to have a distinct anonymous voice that would not be interpreted as one of the women characters.

If you appreciate a moderately paced, languid story that doesn't give easy answers check this out.
on June 23, 2003 - 2:00 PM PDT
  of Secretary (2002)
10 out of 12 members found this review helpful

What I loved about this story was the discovery and acceptance of self. It's well-written (by Bay Area playright, Erin Cressida Wilson) and wonderfully acted by James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal and both evoke a twisted sensuality. They both have such incredible faces and have great subtley in bringing their characters emotions through expression merely than through loud acting. Ah there's some of that too, but always with ironic depth. Some of the supporting characters are rather bland (especially the parents), but serve the story well enough. The film is quite beautiful as well, with great production design. Though it may not be everyone's cup of tea, in essence it's just another love story. With some teeth, so to speak.

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