Crash (2004): Crime / Drama / Thriller

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People from every walk of life, dealing with loss, racism, and life itself, collide with each other in the city of Angels.

Find the one you hate the most. You’ll like them later on. Find the one you relate with the most. You’ll hate them in the end. Welcome to a world where all East Asians are Chinese. All South Americans are Mexicans. All Middle Easterners are “Osama”. All blacks are criminals. And all whites are rednecks.

Racism, bigotry, misanthropy… passed on from one to the next, by white to brown, to black to yellow, to another shade of skin colour and back to where it started, in an endless spiral of hatred that has no beginning but hopefully one day an end. Wait, there is more! Colour is not enough. Where do you stand in this world? Are you educated? What is your financial and societal status? You work for the government or against the government? Either way, you are criminal. You have principles? How much?

“Crash” includes an amazing ensemble cast and explores in depth all the aforementioned, yet its message focuses on how to overcome the notion that everyone is a victim, whoever is different is the enemy, and it is always someone else’s fault. People’s interconnectedness extends to their feelings too; loss, love, pride, shame, isolation, belonging, loneliness, redemption and regret… all blend into one making it easier to accuse everyone we don’t know for ostensibly having everything we always longed-for. Until we realised we want more…

Change will not happen miraculously. A legend said it once best: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”

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Jumper (2008): Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

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A man with teleporting abilities, living a carefree life, gets caught in an ancient war between Jumpers and Paladins.

There is a lot of negativity surrounding this film. It was meant to be a franchise but the box office results scratched the idea off the producers’ mind. From where I stand, Michael Rooker has been under-utilized. For a guy who usually does the villain in the story, it’s really great to see him as a washed-up yet filled with remorse dad who pays the price. I would definitely want to see more of him on the screen. Samuel Jackson is always great but could have been even greater as the fanatic Paladin. Reciting passages from the Bible like in “Pulp Fiction” (1994) would have elevated his character to the sky.

Jamie Bell is always at his best so there is nothing much to say, which leaves us with Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson (who got engaged after the film). Once again, there could have been a strong story between them – and even stronger subtext for the film – after what happened in their childhood years.

To cut the long story short, production and budgetary issues watered down a what could have been a brilliant story and a brilliant film. That said, it definitely deserves a watch as you’ll spend an entertaining hour and a half forgetting about your own problems. For this one, my round of applause goes to the visual and sound effect department. Spot on!

Franklyn (2008): Drama / Fantasy / Sci-Fi

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Loss and despair connect four troubled souls in two intermingled, alternate realities.

I have spoken of underrated films before but “Franklyn” definitely gets the cake. I watched it almost ten years ago and so much I wanted to talk about it with someone who had watched it as well. But no one had. And to this very day, hardly anyone still has.

Gerald McMorrow, possessing the exceptional intellectual ability, is the artistic mind behind the camera, who writes and directs something unique as “Franklyn”. Despair, escalating to delusion, paranoia, and schizophrenia, all fester the human mind and soul, shape people’s fate, and twist (?) the concept of religion. In front of the camera, Eva Green, Ryan Phillippe, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill, and the late Susannah York will hold you spellbound with their performances.

Two strong elements in the film that I feel like sharing: Perception’s immense power and a father’s unconditional love.

“Franklyn” is art. And like any other form of art, it examines the world through its own prism. I guess it is up to us to examine our world through our own life’s prism.

London (2005): Drama / Romance

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Let me introduce to you writer/director Hunter Richards. Is he well-known? No. Should he be? Definitely. What for? “London”! Unknown too? It shouldn’t be.

Addressing mostly the Hollywood lovers, “London” focuses on three characters portrayed by two actors and one actress who are known to be action heroes and one of the hottest women alive respectively. Chris Evans, Jason Statham, and Jessica Biel have been fully humanized, “made redundant” to people next door, and deal with everyday issues that you and I are troubled with. No heroes, no celebrities here.

“London” takes place profusely in a house party’s toilet where:

  • Evans and Statham camp there as they are not welcome.
  • Expensive paintings are used as a flat surface for everyone to constantly snort cocaine.
  • Politics, religion, history, sociology, philosophy, drugs, human psyche, sadomasochism, and relationship issues are elaborated.
  • Finally, while the aforementioned are happening, everyone comes in and out to do their need.

Statham and Evans steel the show. They look each other in the eye, are not afraid to go berserk, and their characters find mental and spiritual/psychological ablution. A brilliant cinematic reflection on how real-life introspection can be turned into a liberating life’s unfolding.

The Last Winter (2006): Horror / Mystery / Thriller

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Kubrick’s and Carpenter’s influences mix in this thriller that went utterly under the radar. A slow burn, dark, claustrophobic, environmental, psychedelic, mystery that will make the viewer want to find out how this arctic mystery ends. With┬ácharacters like the ones you meet here, you’ll probably find yourself undecided whether they deserve what’s happening to them or not. Production-wise, it’s an ambitious effort that falls short in the use of CGI. I guess the budget of two and a half lemons takes the blame for that one.┬áDespite the school of thought you follow, the film does not make it easy on your final decision as to whether it is a half-baked or a well crafted film. One thing is for sure though, it won’t leave you indifferent.

On The Beach (2000): Drama, Sci-Fi

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Almost 15 years ago, late at night, I watched it in my basement (drinking and smoking) and, in the end, three hours+ later, plastered, I was left wondering “is anyone alive”??? Over three hours of perfect balance between world scale and personal drama/suffering that will depress and haunt you at the same time. Don’t be afraid of getting sucked into what could be the end of mankind.

P.S. I tried to watch it sober last month again – got sauced half way there.

P.P.S. At least I’ve quit smoking…