Archive for April, 2009

The Butterfly Effect

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

butterfly-2The title of this 2004 sci-fi thriller starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart refers to the notion of sensitive dependence in chaos theory, whereby a change in something seemingly innocuous, such as the flap of a butterfly’s wings, can have enormous and unpredictable ramifications, such as a hurricane in Asia. The film applies this theory to four children growing up in American suburbia whose young lives have been marred by tragedy. When Evan Treborn (Kutcher), one of the group who is now a psychology undegraduate, discovers he can travel back in time he decides to alter the present by ‘undoing’ the harrowing events of the past.

The story begins with Evan as a child who, though a kind boy, shows definite traits of madness. Rather than sailing boats and flowers, his precocious primary school drawings depict cold-blooded murders; he has frequent blackouts, raids the kitchen cupboard for knives and is eventually referred to a psychiatrist (Nathaniel DeVeaux) for treatment.

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Burn After Reading

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

george-clooneyBurn After Reading is another screwball comedy from the Coen Brothers, which takes a bunch of Hollywood A-listers and lets them play the fool in the world of political espionage. This is a parody of the classic spy thriller, where nothing is at stake, caution is thrown to the wind and chaos reigns supreme.

The whole film hinges around a lost disc containing the memoirs of Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), recently sacked from the CIA following a drink problem, which falls into the hands of two gormless gym employees, middle-aged plastic-surgery junkie Linda (Frances McDormand) and easygoing airhead Chad (Brad Pitt).

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House of Flying Daggers (shí miàn mái fú)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

houseofflyingdaggersZhang Ziyi, Tony Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro star in this epic tale of duty and passion from Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Hero, Red Sorghum). When translated into English, the film’s Mandarin title (Shi Mian Mai Fu) literally means ‘Ambushed from Ten Directions’. It’s the perfect description of this martial arts love story, whose main trio is both supported and attacked by numerous warring factions.

The year is 859 AD and the great Tang dynasty is waning. Numerous rebel groups are gaining strength, including the infamous House of Flying Daggers. Though the group’s old leader was captured and killed, a new one has risen in his place, his identity unknown. Jin (Kaneshiro) and Leo (Lau), two police chiefs, have been ordered to kill the mysterious leader within ten days.

Their first port of call is a teahouse, home of the blind dancer Mei (Zhang) who is thought to be the dead leader’s daughter. (more…)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

40-year-old-virginSex has become such an idol in modern times, and especially in Hollywood, it’s difficult to understand how a middle-aged man could have spent his life avoiding it. In one of his funniest movies to date, Judd Apatow, creator of such off-beat gems as Anchorman, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express, presents us with just such a creature.

Meet Andy Stitzer (Steve Carrell, who also co-wrote), the titular ante-hero who has spent years of bachelordom collecting action hero figurines and making egg mayonnaise sandwiches. Working in the stockroom of an electronics store by day and watching Survivor with his elderly neighbours by night (“I’ll bring the soda!”), Andy seems unlikely to ever woo a woman to bed – until three of his fellow workers stumble upon his secret.

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Eden

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

charlotte-rocheToying with ideas of prejudice, loneliness and redemption, Eden tells the story of a reclusive chef whose greatest pleasure is creating dishes that arouse people to dizzying heights of pleasure.

Eden opens with a grotesque scene of a fat chef, Gregor (Josef Ostendorf), skinning a furry animal with sensual relish before chucking large chunks of meat into a pan. We next meet him in a local café, engaged in the second of his two hobbies: ogling the local waitresses. Strolling in the park after his habitual espresso, our friend rescues a disabled girl from drowning in the fountain and returns her to her mother, Eden (Charlotte Roche), who is none other than the waitress who served him. (more…)