Wednesday, 27 February 2008


Movie Review: Silkwood

Year of Release: 1983
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher

Plot outline: The story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a plutonium processing plant who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant (IMDb).

Long before Julia Roberts played the role of no nonsense, streetwise, self-made lawyer Erin Brockovich, Meryl Streep tackled the more challenging role of poor, without hope, low-income worker Karen Silkwood. If you don't know why she's considered as one of very few Hollywood living legends, this movie will definitely show you Meryl Streep at her best. While Cher, despite her real-life glamorous lifestyle, she acts superbly well for the unattractive, unglamorous role of Silkwood's lesbian co-worker. And the script and the directing successfully gives an excellent portrait of the world of the underclass.

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars

Monday, 18 February 2008


Movie Review: Rendition

Year of Release: 2007
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Gavin Hood
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep

Plot outline: A CIA analyst questions his assignment after witnessing an unorthodox interrogation at a secret detention facility outside the US (IMDb).

Without getting too deep into certain particular issues, this thought provoking movie shows a broad sense of the dilemma of extraordinary renditions that have been happening since 9/11. The story smoothly connects four opposing subplots of the people involved in this controversial program. Many questions emerge as the story progresses, e.g. Does the program really help stop terrorist acts? The facts that foreign intelligence are often relied on and they are not particularly too keen about the diligence of their work, what happens if the wrong people are arrested and tortured? This is a very brave subject Hollywood has brought up so far.

My judgement: **1/2 of out of 4 stars

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

Movie Review: Charlie Wilson's War

Year of Release: 2007
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Plot outline: A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects (IMDb).

Despite great performance by the cast, especially Philip Seymour Hoffman, clear cut storyline and witty dialogue, the movie lacks the sharpness to bring the audience to greater understanding of the real issue of this delicate and difficult political affair. The movie seems to oversimplify many things: e.g. the defeat of the Soviets seems so quick and easy (in reality the struggle lasted about a decade); the claim that Charlie Wilson single-handedly brought down the entire communist world is certainly highly disputable; the final scene of Charlie Wilson's request for more financial help to build a school in Afghanistan, which is blatantly rejected, followed by his closing statement, "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world ... and then we fucked up the end game." - do you honestly believe that the end game can be easily resolved only by building a school in Afghanistan??? It's been forty years since Mike Nichols produced his masterpiece The Gradute; has he lost his sharpness?

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Monday, 4 February 2008

Bruce Almighty

Movie Review: Bruce Almighty

Year of Release: 2003
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Tom Shadyac
Cast: Jim Carrey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Aniston

Plot outline: A guy who complains a lot about God is given the opportunity to temporarily become God, to teach him how difficult it is to run the world (IMDb).

Not heavy, it's light, but not too light. While the script allows Jim Carrey to do what he does best with his routine and Jennifer Aniston to play the delightful love interest - which gives us plenty of funny, charming moments, it gives Morgan Freeman all the important lines to deliver depth to the story and to bring the ending to higher notes. This movie is a feel-good drama comedy that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Trading Places

Movie Review: Trading Places

Year of Release: 1983
Country of Origin: USA
Director: John Landis
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche

Plot outline: A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires (IMDb).

Nature vs. nurture? Well ... in this black comedy about wealth inequality, it doesn't matter who wins the debate, behind the grandeur of high-class wool-suited men in a big flashy stockbroking firm lies greedy, cruel souls. And what better way to punish them than by turning them into poor people. The story is well scripted and well executed. The musical score by Elmer Bernstein smoothly matches the spirit of the story. This movie has become one of comedy classics.

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars