Movie reviews - 2004-07-01

  • 2004-07-01
This week:
- Kill Bill: Vol. 2
- The Dreamers
- El Cid: The Legend

Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Two people down, three more to go, as the Bride continues her "roaring rampage of revenge" in "Kill Bill: Vol. 2." This second installment is quite different from the first in both tone and atmosphere. From Yakuza and kung-fu movie-homage, the film ventures into Sergio Leone-inspired territory. Kitsch and cheesiness are still aplenty, however, and "Vol. 2" is a slower and more reflective picture than "Vol. 1" and overall it's better crafted. But although the movie is intriguing, it's by no means great, even rather disappointingly unconvincing in some areas. The dialogue is surprisingly uninspired until the point where Bill's long superhero monologue has you peeking at your watch in boredom. Tarantino is still the Master, but his piercing blade has turned just slightly dull. *** 3/4
Julie Vinten

In his fifth feature, American director Quentin Tarantino enthusiastically demonstrates his astounding genius as a filmmaker. "Kill Bill Vol. 2" is such a fantastically brilliant film, it will send shivers up and down your spine. This is smart, sassy and stylish entertainment for all devoted filmgoers. The Bride (Uma Thurman) is back. She is also known as Black Mamba, but it turns out that her real name is actually Beatrix Kiddo. And she's out to kill that rotten Bill (David Carradine). Tarentino co-wrote this opus with his muse, the savagely talented Thurman. The first part, "Vol. 1," was an Oriental martial-arts-influenced action cartoon; while this film continues the story of the Bride's revenge, it serves more as food for thought with an occidental outlook. It's funny, sad and meditative. *****
Laimons Juris G

The Dreamers

"The Dreamers" is a rare, multilayered movie that succeeds on all its many levels without ever loosing focus. Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American studying in Paris, meets the French twins Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green). They all share a deep passion for film, and soon the twins ask Matthew to move in with them. Thus begins a captivating story about sex, politics and movies, set against the backdrop of the Paris student-worker revolt in 1968. The sexually and emotionally intense relationship between the three young people is narcissistic beyond belief, but the movie itself isn't, and that is its strong point. Bernardo Bertolucci has made a powerful coming-of-age movie that pays homage to the art of film while affectionately and nostalgically depicting the turbulent time of Paris in the 1960s. *** 3/4
Julie Vinten

Once upon a time, back in the 1960s, film was considered a contemporary form of art. Director Bernardo Bertolucci presents a little bit of visual poetry in his latest effort. Serious movie buffs will be in seventh heaven as the Italian intertwines the plot with archival clips from a number of classic flicks. As the streets of 1968 Paris seethe in revolution, three students stay cooped up in an old apartment. They drink wine, talk philosophy and have sex. History and nostalgia act as fuel to keep everything afloat. However, it's the young actors who prevent "The Dreamers" from really taking off and soaring. Bertolucci is best known for his groundbreaking "Last Tango in Paris." This movie never comes close to the artistry emanating from that modern treasure. *** 1/2
Laimons Juris G

El Cid: The Legend

"El Cid: La Leyenda" (El Cid: The Legend) tells the tale of the celebrated 11th century Spanish hero who drove the Moors from Christian Spain. Unfortunately, this cartoon fails in almost all aspects of filmmaking, making it an almost unbearably boring cinema experience for both children and grownups. The narrative is both unintelligent and unoriginal, and the same goes for the drawing and visual style, which is uninteresting, to put it mildly. The historical tale itself is fairly complicated, and confusing and messy storytelling soon makes the viewer give up trying to understand who did what to whom. It only adds to the confusion that it's extremely difficult to tell the various characters apart - except for the man with the one blind eye and the vicious laughter who is, obviously, the bad guy. * 1/2
Julie Vinten

The Muslims invaded Spain in 711 and controlled most of the peninsula until the end of the 11th century. El Cid is one of Spain's legendary heroes who helped drive the invaders out of Europe. With a budget of $9 million, this Spanish kiddie cartoon is a total waste of time and energy. This reviewer felt relieved when the movie finally ended. It is very difficult to imagine youngsters sitting through this hodge-podge of banal cliches. The animation is stiff and crude while the main male characters are bulky, sporting tiny pinheads. Lacking humor, the plot is confusing and boring. The soundtrack is this film's only positive aspect. The Hollywood version of "El Cid" made in 1961 and starring Charlton Heston is a lot more interesting to watch. * 1/2
Laimons Juris G