some quotes....

I just want to tell you, I'm the one who was supposed to take care of everything. I'm the one who was supposed to make everything okay for everybody. It just didn't work out like that. And I left. I left you... And now, I'm an old broken down piece of meat... and I'm alone. And I deserve to be all alone. I just don't want you to hate me.

-Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, The Wrestler

samedi 16 août 2014

One sentence reviews (4)

Phần 2
Phần 3

Không phải 100% review dưới đây tôi viết sau khi xem phim lần đầu, một số là của những phim tôi xem từ lâu nhưng "chợt" nhớ ra vì nghe thấy nhạc phim đâu đó, hoặc vì trùng với tâm trạng của tôi lúc đó.

01. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012): 3.5/5
The film still manages to capture the epic ambiance of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (the New Zealand scenery setting is just speechlessly magnificent) but one cannot rise any deep feeling from such background without a solid plot and compelling story, which The Hobbit definitely does not possess. The shallow composition of "the Team" (90% dwarves) does not help either, the characters are all the same and lack the depth (and backing history) to be believable in the eyes of the audience. Even the main characters are thinly built due to the fragmented and incoherent story/journey, a fact that makes the film even less attractive. The three parts should have been compressed into two, even one, the greed (of both money and creativity) really kills this first entry of the trilogy. One more thing, the action sequence with the Goblins is actually quite similar to the action sequence in King Kong, one more minus point.

02. Les Misérables (2012): 5/5
The film has its own share of weak points - next-to-none transition, very poor long shots - especially the barricade sequence, interrupted and slow opening. But the rest is just emotionally amazing - the cast is pitch perfect (although Russell Crowe seems to be not really at ease with his role), the close-up shots are heart-breaking, the music is superb. Mr. Tom Hooper really mastered this musical by excluding any unnecessary "dancing" (appears far too much in Hollywood musical) and focusing on the build-up of emotions and feelings. The musical itself is already lack of deep emotion (due to the frequent interruption of singing and dancing), a musical adapted from a huge popular novel and theatrical work is even less able to get the emotion from spectators (how can they when the ending is already well-known?). But “Les Misérables” just wonderfully takes their heart away by stunning performance of ALL the cast (especially Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks) and the wonderful, wonderful music. 5 stars for a flawed film, yes, that the way cinema is, it is all about emotion and feeling.

03. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012): 4/5
The portray of Jiro sensei and his (actually, his group)'s superb art of sushi making is sincere, calm (in comparing with the determination of such "shokunin" like Jiro sensei) but no less intriguing (especially on the quest for creating good sushi). However the underlined message is somehow confusing and the focus is not as clear as the title. Still, the documentary is really interesting to watch and deserves compliment for being able to translate the uttermost calmness of sushi, and Japanese people, to the world through the simple but beautiful cinematic language.

04. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012): 4/5
Amazingly good for a coming-of-age film. Despite the not-so-impressive final showdown and the conventional plot (can't help, since the film has to stay put with the half-century-old concept of Spider-Man), the film is still worth watching for its compelling acting (Garfield & Stone are pitch-perfect for their roles), eye-catching 3D effect and the enjoyable non-twist-and-turn story. The surprisingly bright ending is also a plus (a “500 Day of Summer”-type of ending), and the "uprising scene" of the ordinary New York crane workers is truly emotional and surprising for such a superhero film.

05. The Guard (2011): 4/5
Un héro très discret - A very quiet hero, that's how you can find calmness among arms and blood.

06. Colombiana (2011): 3/5
For guilty pleasure, this film has done its work: Simple plot, checked; hot chics, checked; cool hero, checked; “revenge is a dish best served cold”, checked; evil villain, checked - what could you expect more?

07. Life of Pi (2012): 4.5/5
Visually heart-breaking! The photography of the film is so good that it dwarfs Hollywood "epic" films of these days by a whole kilometre. The storytelling is quite simple, yet contains full of surprises that re-enforce the storyline and keep audience in their sit for the whole 2 hours. The only minus point of this film might be the immensely strong vision can easily be cut off without the 3D and wide-screen effects.

08. War Horse (2011): 3.5/5
Long and somehow tiring film. The cinematography is illustrious, the reuniting scene is absolutely heart-breaking, but the slow tempo (for a war film) and the just-above-average story and acting did damage the wholesomeness of the film.

09. Lincoln (2012): 3.5/5
Daniel Day-Lewis is just mesmerizing as Lincoln (he should really campaign for a political position!), a fact which is quite understandable since the subtleness, intelligence, wisdom and underlying energy of The Greatest US President indeed suit the charisma of Daniel Day-Lewis very well. It will be very unsurprising if Daniel becomes the first actor with 3 Oscars for leading role with this remarkable achievement. The film in a whole, though, is slow, quite unattractive and even lack the usual awesomeness of Spielberg. Several scenes are moving enough to catch the emotion of spectators, but the overuse of rhetoric language (which is really, really difficult to understand, let alone FEEL), the seemingly wise but finally ill-advised intention (of Spielberg or his writer?) to (almost) totally avoid the tragic on-going war except for its shadowing consequences to the debate at Capitol Hill, and the tiring story-telling (similar to War Horse) keep Lincoln as just a political biography and a little bit lower than a real biopic/epic film, which Steven Spielberg really aimed to, I suppose. It will be a disappointment if this film can win Oscar for best picture over Life of Pi.

10. Django Unchained (2012): 4/5
Technically flawless (in a Quentin Tarantino's point of view), super fascinating to watch, especially when considering the most conventional plot that Quentin's ever used, and of course (still) full of bloody surprises that no one can envision. Yet, the film somehow lacks the necessary passion to become a Quentin's opus - the cast is far less impressive in comparison with “Inglourious Basterds” (poor Leonardo, still not able to find the role of his career) except for the always exceptional Christopher Waltz, even the characters are less colourful than “normal” (aka. super interesting) Quentin's characters, the conventional plot with quite loose and slow opening could not help either. Also, the film is specifically Spaghetti-Western homage, so spectators without such kind of background will find the ultra-violent and bloody nature of this film quite irrelevant, even ridiculous. Still, maybe all these criticisms exist only because the expectation and the “normal” quality of Quentin's work are too high, this film is still amazingly entertaining. One more thing, this is the first time Quentin, the king of close-up and medium shot, deals with such many long shots with the enormous American nature as background, and he did them very well, the exhilarating feeling watching those scenes are on the same level as with Coen Brothers' “True Grit”. Funnily enough, this Western cowboy film, in many scenes, seems to be more a Coen Brothers' than a Tarantino's :)).

11. Silver Linings Playbook (2012): 4/5
A film utterly delightful to watch, which, strangely enough, reminds me of “When Harry Met Sally”. THIS is the film to bright up your mood after a bad day, but THIS is not the film deserving THAT many Oscar nominations (hat off to Harvey Weinstein, who one more time proves to the world that his genius lobbying can do anything with the nomination process). Why? Simply because the "crazy" pretext and the madness background of the film were not fully utilized, thus the connection between the hilarious opening and the heart-warming ending is just next to none. However, Jennifer Lawrence is really superb with the acting and her attractive sensual appearance is indeed a germ for Hollywood nowadays. Jennifer, welcome to the world of "movie star"!

12. The Grandmaster (Nhất đại tông sư, 2013): 4.5/5
The most understandable Wong Kar-wai so far, yet, all the melancholic ingredients à-la-Wong Kar-wai are still there, which make watching the film a real pleasure for his fans (like me) who have been waiting for almost 10 years for the authentic Wong Kar-wai be back.

13. Journey To The West (Tây Du: Hàng ma thiên, 2014): 4/5
The opening sequence was so strong and sudden that the rest was dwarfed for good.... The gory ambience and dirty setting remind me so much of Chow's “The Mad Monk”, which has a surprisingly similar plot and underlined philosophy, but the lack of Chow himself really leaves a big hole on the film. Chow, we miss you, the real you...

14. The Truman Show (1998): 5/5
My official in-flight film - watched this at least 3 times when I was "up in the air", and will still watch if it is shown. Nothing can soothe your confined situation, physically and mentally, better than this wonderful mixture of deeply original concept, down-to-earth yet charming characters, and many surprises throughout the film, sometime heart-warming, other time heart-breaking. The ending seems to be lousy but it only heightens the film's message to us about our boring, uninteresting lives, which are no better than the caged life of Mr. Truman, the only True Man among us.

15. Kon Tiki (2013): 3/5
The film falls far below my expectation, which consists of many years imagining about every single page of the book (written by Thor Heyerdahl himself) that I have read for many times since childhood. Despite a strong beginning, the film is really mute and lack of any excitement due to a disoriented storyline - what is the real driving force of the plot? The desire to prove himself, to surpass all difficulties of Thor? The complex interaction and inner struggle of the Kon-Tiki team in such claustrophobic and dead-or-alive condition of the raft? The joy of discovering the immerse beauty of nature, of ocean? How can the spectators realize and feel such plot when even the director and the writer themselves apparently could not make it clear? Quite a disappointment for an Oscar-nominated film, especially when I have been waiting so long for the day when my favourite book of childhood is brought to the big screen.

16. Almost Famous (2000): 5/5
One of my all-time favs, and one of the most upbeat and hear-warming films I've seen. The moment when Penny, sweeping away her tears, heart-brokenly smiled and walked away from the bitter truth (that Willam flapped to her face) will always be "a moment to remember" of the 2000s cinema.

17. Oblivion (2013): 4/5
Considering the thin and dangerous post-apocalyptic pretext (which makes any sci-fi film trapped among cliché and/or cheesy minor details), “Oblivion” is really well-executed thanks to a pragmatic director, who is wise enough to avoid the cheesy traps like "romantic affairs between the last standings" or "existentialism reflecting through the forgetfulness, blah blah blah" and to focus instead on making the film "make sense" (logic) and "raise emotion" (affection). The first act (or leading/intro part) seems to be long and a little bit boring, but it should be so that the weak background of "apocalyptic thing" can be reasonably developed, the emotions (of characters, and of spectators) can be built up for the climax, and the visual stunning aspect of the film can be shown off to sci-fi lovers (the apocalyptic environment "à-la-Planet of the Apes" is really convincing). The second and the third acts could not really achieve the necessary climax (given the context of the film, this is almost impossible), but the likeable-yet-charismatic Tom Cruise, alongside with his two impressive "concubines" (Kurylenko is only above average, but Riseborough did an amazing job) did deliver the film to the very end, and did it really well. And even if they could not, “Oblivion” would not be considered "oblivious" due to the superb visual and score. The major deficiency of this film might be its lack-of-climax plot, especially the deaths, which would have been executed much better given the tiny number of characters and the excellent contexts that led to their deaths. This film makes me remember of “Thor”, which is also a film with minimal and lousy story yet well executed thanks to the director and the cast. The only difference between these two is that “Oblivion” is much better - a truly dedicated film for the sci-fi genre (curiously enough, “Thor” has much higher score here in Rotten Tomatoes :)) ).

18. Wreck-it Ralph (2012): 3.5/5
A neatly-made animation with entertaining plot, "à-la-Disney" cute main characters (the supporting ones and the villain are just, as a typical Hollywood animation, thinly made), interesting concept (the sequels are surely to come in the following years). But, originality is no where to find, in term of both character development and visualization, the lack of the more-famous arcades/NES/Atari video-game characters like Mario is also disturbing (Disney is unable to secure the right to use them? or they just don't want to use? - since Hollywood always, from one film to another, tries to downgrade the significance and superiority of those Japanese "anime" characters - Astroboy, Goku,... to cite a few). The film would have been much more original, and paid a good homage to the long-gone era of arcades, if only the director/writer could use a less cheerful but more nostalgic story to back the development of characters, but this is a Disney film (!), so such expectation is just unrealistic. (Note: Is this a hidden message from Disney in this film supporting the current "invasion-for-democracy" policy of the "bad guy at outside but good guy at heart" US?)

19. The Master (2012): 4.5/5
Why my beloved PTA becomes more and more brutal? After “There Will Be Blood”, another epic oeuvre of PTA about an iconic era that helped shaping the modern American society - with the characters so raw they can suck all happiness out of the audience. Alcoholism, delusion, fanatic religions, rotting social relations (kinship/friendship/love), the ugly aspects of American society (and any modern society), which normally hide deep under the fancy surface of prosperity, or religious dedication, are dug out and depicted through utterly brutal and complex characters. In fact, PTA's characters in this film are so complex that they actually show nothing about their really "character" to spectators, and leave them, after the screen already turns off, in a state of opaqueness, wondering about who they (the characters) really are, what they really think, and why PTA wants to create such characters. In a way, this issue makes this film less enjoyable than the dark, yet somehow twinkling, “Magnolia” (which so far is my PTA's fav), but such rawness makes the film deserved to be watched and re-watched to have a deeper insight on what are the things that built up the American modern identity, just like “There Will Be Blood”. Besides, the cast/cinematographer/score composer of this film can also be considered Master, which is rare in these fast-food days of Hollywood. Joanquin Phoenix - welcome back to your real domain, please continue to shine as an actor rather than to hide as a rapper. And those who watched the film already will surely keep in mind for a long time the genius PTA's scene when the famous photo "They Are Coming" (or the "model with/without clothes" photo) of Helmut Newton is recreated into big screen in a most original way to imply the idea of the film on peeling off the superficial skin of the American society.

20. The Wolf Children (Okami kodomo no ame to yuki, 2012): 4/5
Never before the werewolf subject is approached with such ease that can only come from a brilliant director like Mamoru Hosoda who has dealt with many fictional subjects (time travel? artificial society?) and yet presented them in a very down-to-earth way that is both simple to digest and delightful to enjoy. The story of Ame and Yuki is far less complex than his previous “The Girl Who Leapt through Time” and “Summer War”, but the light-hearted story-telling, friendly characters and breath-taking visual (especially the natural sequences) did great job to compensate the conventional, non-twist-and-turn plot. This is not a film about struggle, about the hardness of life, it is all about love, compassion, and understanding, just like the ever-shining smile on the face of Hana, one of the best character Hosoda has ever created.

21. The Descendants (2011): 5/5
If “Sideways” is all about finding your own family, then “The Descendants” can be called “Sideways Part II: Finding Back Your Family”. A “standardized” Hollywood family drama at its very best: witty script (with a lot of somewhat cliché quotes, though), charming characters (especially the naughty kids), complicated situation and satisfying ending - but still possesses the essence of Alexander Payne: a lousy appearance and manner are utilized to cover an endearing and deeply human heart and soul, which are constantly searching for the very meaning of one's life: family.

22. Iron Man 3 (2013): 3.5/5
Should have been 4 stars if it were an authentic 3D film (I watched this in IMAX3D), the post-production-converted 3D of this film is really unconvincing, just like any other 3D-converted film. Similar to “The Avengers”, “Iron Man 3” is really interesting, clear-cut with minimal plot (minimal, not minimalist!), simple story (to focus the audiences' attention on the technology and visual effect show-off - which was already proven as a good choice by “Avatar” and “The Avengers”), and a lot of Robert Downey Jr.'s slick fun. Yet, if “The Avengers” is a super-heroic superhero film, “Iron Man 3” is more like a rom-com superhero film, with quite high dose of Stark-Potts relationship (which is not bad, but not interesting either), very diminished "evil plan" (which does has bright twist-and-turn but is lack of any depth or conclusive ending - which makes it even more disappointing - similar to “The Avengers”), weak supporting characters (the little boy is fun to watch, but is not convincing at all), and above all an apparent superficiality that really damages the quality of story-telling - the new trend of superhero films is always somehow related to the internal struggle of the superhero (the kind of "to be or not to be") - but this film did not even care about that popular (and agreeable) trend, it was all about having fun and entertainment - just like a Hollywood McDonald! This is really disappointing because the twist-and-turn regarding The Mandarin is really surprising, political correct and involving, which could be easily developed into something substantial with another more-serious film makers.

23. Jack Reacher (2012): 3/5
The opening is very promising for a detective film with enough dose of thrill, devilish antagonist, and of course a mysterious detective (Tom Cruise is as dependable as ever). However, the rest is disappointing due to the shallow story (the brilliant "evil plot" at the beginning was recklessly developed into a ridiculous easy revelation at the end), the weak supporting characters, and the definite lack of "ambiance" (the "mysterious" detective and his arch-enemy turned out to be not really mysterious at all!). The most disastrous decision of the director/writer might be the revelation of à-la-“ABC Murder” plot from the very beginning, which made the film much less interesting to guess (and to watch). Rosamund Pike might have one of the most beautiful and cinematic faces I have ever seen, what a pity that she only possesses a mediocre level of facial acting skill, which will never be able to elevate her to the rank of A-level stars. Coincidentally enough, she already played another beautiful-but-forgettable legal employee in “Fracture”, which also had a promising opening but finally ended up at nowhere. Tom Cruise, you deserve a better director and better script than this.

24. Raging Bull (1980): 5/5
Once watch “Raging Bull”, you will forever remember “Raging Bull”. Only a glimpse of Robert De Niro talking to the mirror "I could have been a contender", only some notes from the tragically beautifully composition by Mascagni, those are more than enough to bring tears to anyone that once loved, and still loves the tragic fall of the ever proud and arrogant Jake La Motta.

25. Lost in Time (Vong bất liễu, 2003): 3.5/5
Accidentally switched the audio stream to Mandarin dub, and realized that the lousy Mainland dubber already killed half of the film's emotion by her lack of husky voice - or the distinctive "Cecilia's voice". Despite all the crazy scandals, or her up-and-downs in the career, Cecilia really possesses an incomparable charm among her generation (of Hong Kong actresses), which can be proved by this film. From the very first film (“King of Comedy”), Cecilia already showed that she could be at her best with characters that try to cover their fragility and loneliness by strong-will and reckless behaviour. And maybe she needs that kind of role again (and such good director like Derek Yee) to revive her career, a chance that she deserves because that is also a chance for the Hong Kong cinema to get back its treasure - one of the most original actresses in recent years.

26. Fast and Furious 6 (2013): 4/5
The acting is lame, especially Michelle Rodriguez who really makes audience confused about what she feel and think throughout the film (and Mr Dwayne Johnson, true to his nickname "The Rock", is really "stone" through and through). The "melo" sequences are cheesy, the middle part of the film is a little bit low-key (in comparison with the rest), and the choreography (or editing?) of some action sequences is either interruptive or too fast to follow. BUT, the film in a whole is beautifully made, grandiose, and beyond expectation (given the already excellent "they've got a tank" trailer). The racing/action sequences are entertaining, involving and, incredibly enough, believable despite the fact that the director will surely get an F in physics for defying gravity and all natural laws. The editing is quick, strong, and very effective in keeping the fast tempo of the film (Mr Bay should learn from this film for his next “Transformer”), although the effect could have been even more effective with a better soundtrack (the film's background music is not as epic as the film itself). Regarding the cast, Vin Diesel is as awesome as ever, the female cast is deeply strong and convincing (except Rodriguez, who is given a somewhat awkward role), the male cast is funny and complementary (to their female partners), and the villains are well-made (although their "ending" is a little bit messy and lousily developed). Besides, the film paid a nice homage to the series with an outstanding opening credit and warm ending, as well as opened a bright future for the series with a little surprise at the ending credit. It is really hard to keep the identity of such pure action series, but “Fast 6” did it wisely and entertainingly. I generally enjoy (good) action films, but this time I not only enjoy but also respect the film, because it deserves that. Oh, and IMAX, I love you for enhancing the visual and sound effects to their best!

27. Le Dernier Métro (1980): 4/5
Listening to the dreamy melody of "Mon amant de Saint-Jean" and watching the supremely elegant face of Catherine Deneuve are more than enough to bring back Paris to anyone who loves this bizarre, heart-broken, yet enormously charming city.

28. The Professor and His Beloved Equation (Hakase no aishita sûshiki, 2006): 4/5
The beauty of this film lies on the faithful adaptation by the director (and the writer) of the wonderful book by Yoko Ogawa. The simple and charming storytelling of the book was entirely transferred into the film, so were the affecting relationship between the characters, and the love between them and mathematics. Mathematics is often regarded as an emotionless and alienated subject, yet, this film proves that mathematics can be loved, and should be loved, since it is the gift from the nature for the sake of our enlightenment.

29. Armageddon (1998): 2/5
Known "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for a very long time, but this is the first time I watched the film. The first one-third of the film (the introduction/recruitment à-la-“Seven Samurai”) is actually engaging enough with an adequate amount of fun, quick editing, and interesting premises for character development. However the latter two-third, especially when the characters are "un in the space", is simply a total disaster, through and through. As bad as a Michael Bay's film can go, the film is full of cheesy dialogue, cheesy images, cheesy characters, and of course cheesy (and bored-to-death) plot. I tended to write more criticism about the film, but given the utterly bad quality of this film, it will be only a waste of my time. Simply put, even on the Armageddon day and having no other film to watch, I will not watch this horrible “Armageddon” again.

30. Lan Kwai Fong 2 (Lan Quế Phường 2, 2012): 1.5/5
One and a half stars for the amount of "exposure" (including the "surprise" appearance of Sola Aoi), zero star for everything else.

31. Now You See Me (2013): 3.5/5
Not as bad as I imagined (and as the ridiculously low score on Rotten Tomatoes), and not as, predictably, good as the trailer either. Due to the not-so-good reputation of Louis Leterrier, I did absolutely not expect a film that could maximize the wonderful premise of the trailer, but it turned out that Leterrier did handle the material quite well with up tempo, quick editing, excellent cinematography, and solid cast. The first quarter (including the introduction of characters and the "first act") is really entertaining and tightly plotted, but the remaining is a little bit tiring (it would be very hard to find a screenplay that can balance such extraordinary premise and the "revelation") and full of plot-holes, while the lame ending nearly ridicules the film in a whole (the fake emotional tension and, later, affection, between the two detectives is simply an ill-advised plot detail - they should have been treated in the way the two main magicians are treated). However, such films that try to mix the magic tricks and reality into one believable plot often fail to deliver a satisfactory ending (even the great “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist” have quite disappointing ending), therefore “Now You See Me” should be viewed in a whole - which is an interesting, involving, and solid film of the action genre, at least it is much more successful than the terrible “Law Abiding Citizen” (which also had a very promising trailer). Small lesson learned: If Morgan Freeman does not play a God-like or father-like character, the film will not really bad, but not so good either (see “Wanted”).

32. Pee Mak Phrakanong (2013): 3.5/5
The shallow script is somehow compensated by the fine mixture of horror, romance, and (dirty) comedy. Still, the quite innovative idea of the film should have been developed into more details instead of abruptly finishing with such Korean-ish ending.

33. Kung Fu Hustle (Tuyệt đỉnh công phu, 2005): 5/5
Some said this film is somehow weaker than “Shaolin Soccer” in term of originality. I agree. But every single time watching this film, even only a portion of it, still brings me joy, pleasure, and emotions. That is how “Kung Fu Hustle” works, on three layers to be exact. The first layer of joy is for the ordinary viewer who has no idea about what is a Stephen Chow's film or what it is all about the Hong Kong cinema, since the film itself is a magnificent piece of over-the-top CGI that could jolt anyone, even my father who did not know this is a Chinese or HK film. Thanks to this layer (which the previous films of Chow often ignored) that “Kung Fu Hustle” was a huge success to the general audience, even the Americans who would be absolutely unable to understand the essence of the Chow's style of storytelling. The second layer of pleasure is dedicated to the avid fans of Hong Kong cinema and Chinese wuxia genre (literature and cinema in a whole) who will hundred percent go crazy about the tons of homage to the wuxia world, from the idiosyncratic characters of Jin Yong, to the crazy martial styles in the old Shaw Brothers films or the outdated TVB wuxia series, and of course the appearance of the kung fu legends of Hong Kong cinema who reinvented their roles in the most hilarious yet fully righteous way. The final layer, the emotional one, is reserved for the lifetime crazy fans of Stephen Chow, including myself, who can simply recall the Chow's identity from every single details of the film, who would cry their eyes out thinking about why Chow does not want to bring us HIS films any more, who still find joy in the new “Journey to the West” but somehow feel a deepen hole in their love to cinema thinking back about how excellent Chow was in the 1995 version. Suddenly I think about how similar Chow and Quentin Tarantino are, in term of originality, in term of their love to cinema, and in the amount of joy that they have brought to cinephiles around the world. Too bad that Quentin still makes films, good films that is, while Chow is simply nowhere to find...

34. Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988): 5/5
“Cinema Paradiso” is one of those rare films that once you watch, you will never ever forget. You will never forget the tender melody echoing from the utterly beautiful soul of Ennio Morricone, you will never forget the gentle touches by Giuseppe Tornatore on the stories of the broken hearts, on the childhood dreams that never come true, on the sincere love to cinema, on a tiny little Italian town with a tiny cinema house, on the clumsy yet utterly beautiful Italian character, and of course you will never forget the shiny smiles of the little Salvatore and the broken-hearted and nostalgic tears of the same Salvatore, but in an adult form. Watching, no, tasting Cinema Paradiso is like you taste something strangely sweet that makes you remember the candies of your forgotten childhood, that makes you remember how dreamy you once were, that makes you regret the dreams so beautiful that you never dared to realize. Yes, Cinema Paradiso is a paradise, a lost paradise of the past.

35. Drug War (Độc chiến, 2013): 4/5
A proof for the fine film making of Master To, who can cover up the not-so-subtle characters and background stories by fast-pace plot, terrific setting (the "coincident car crash" at the end seems incongruous but that is the "To-ish" style), trademark gunplay of Master To, and of course fine acting from the two leading actors. In waiting for the next master work of Master To, “Drug War” is more than enough to satisfy the thirst of To's avid fans, like me.

36. Redemption (2013): 2/5
One word: Lame. The film had a lot of (pretentious) storylines but nothing was dug deep enough, only some melancholic but cheesy details floating around with full of clichés tried to explain the weird behaviours and psychology of the characters, in vain. The inability of Jason "Stath" to act emotionally could not help either, especially when the writer and director themselves could not decide which is the main plot of the film instead of confusing (themselves and their audience) the whole time with useless background stories. The melancholy and loneliness of the film's characters recalled a very good recent film - “Drive”, which was, alas, much more successful by focusing on DESCRIBING the identity of its characters through a single consistent plot rather than trying to EXPLAIN such identity through chaotic storylines. And that makes a whole difference between them two.

37. Cold War (Hàn chiến, 2012): 3.5/5
The production value of this film was top-notch and at a Hollywood-level with an always-shining, neat, clean, and minimalist setting (which, ironically enough, distances the film from the real life of the crowded and humanly chaotic Hong Kong). The opening sequence was also strong, fast-paced, effective and gave out a lot of good pretext for a good, if not excellent, Hong Kong "cop-movie" "à-la-Infernal Affairs" with full of internal conflicts (between greed and righteousness, between professionalism and paternal love, and of course between the police in the light and the "evil force" in the dark). However, the middle part of the film missed the tight control of the opening while the ending was confusing and pretentious. It seems that the directors were so self-confident that they forgot to develop the excellent pretexts from the beginning and only focused on keeping the "clean" setting of the film intact by procedural plot-twists, which was not really efficient due to the lack of connection between the (quite inhuman) characters with the audience.

38. Skyfall (2012): 3/5
Suspicion confirmed: I could not, and will not enjoy Mr. Bond's stories, even this "most successful" one. Except for some fun homages about the old Bond films and the excellent production value, “Skyfall” fell behind with weak villain, shallow storylines, and failed attempts to make 007 more "human" with melancholic background stories. In my opinion, 007 concept has been already too dated to revived, renewed, reboot, or whatever the "re-" is.

39. A Good Day to Die Hard (2013): 0.5/5
Depicting Russia like a salvage hole full of wild and stupid pigs? - NOT in my watchlist then. It's funny how Rotten Tomatoes does not accept zero-star rating.

40. Pacific Rim (2013): 3.5/5
The "mecha"s are simply awesome, full of steampunk details "à-la-del Toro", but the lame story almost and the sub-par cast almost bring the film down to the B category. It seems that a fine mixture between sophisticated tech. and simple yet concrete storyline like Avatar is still a challenge to Hollywood. Still, the well-meaning robots have made Pacific Rim at least ten time better than the nonsensical Transformers.

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