Entries tagged with “Keanu Reeves”.


The laws of commercial success or failure are complicated. ‘47 Ronin‘ is a film that failed completely at the box office and is considered one of the biggest losers of the Universal Studios in the current decade, despite of belonging to a popular genre (fantasy action movie) and despite having as lead actor. I actually liked the film, and some of the reasons may be the same that let to its commercial disaster.

 

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1335975/

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1335975/

 

47 Ronin‘ is based on an 18th century historical event which took place in a Japan led by the shoguns who decided to close its gates and shores to foreigners and all but cut the ties with the external world. It’s a bloody story of revenge and sacrifice that raises issues of honor, tradition, and respect for authority very close to the essence of the Japanese soul. The story was taken over by oral and written literature and later by cinema, with a romantic intrigue of impossible love being added among other. The approach in telling the story and the perspective taken by the writer or film director tells a lot about the way tradition and the whole era of the shogunate are being perceived. I can understand that Japanese viewers may dislike the Hollywoodization of the story. Script writer and film director have taken the Japanese story into the territory of fantasy action movies. Feudal Japan is in their vision a land populated by spirits of the forest, dragons and witches. It’s pure entertainment, and this is the main angle this film needs to be judged from.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

I found the result more than satisfying in the limits of its genre. The film is spoken in English, but I guess it would have had no chances otherwise in the American cinema theaters. The majority of the acting team is composed of Japanese actors, some of them well-known in Hollywood and they all do a fine job: is the noble commander of the samurais revenging their murdered and dishonored master, represents the dark side oponent, gathers beauty and delicacy for the lead feminine role, while is best in the feminine role of a witch with transcending powers. In order to match the Caucasian physiognomy of the authors of the script had to invent a biography of a mixed race cavalier who did not appear in the original story. The role will not be remembered as a peak of his acting career, but he did not do less or worse than many other lead stars in action movies. Cinematography is beautiful, costumes are colorful and expressive, and the action scenes are well choreographed.  ‘47 Ronin‘ is a well made action movie which succeeds to be true to the essence of the story despite the liberties taken by the Hollywood adaptation of the story. It may lack authenticity, but purist can always find on youTube the Japanese film with the same name made in 1941. It is all spoken in Japanese (with subtitles) and it lasts longer than 3 and half hours.

 

(video source menatil)

 

As John Wick: Chapter 2 is on screens and gets unexpected good reviews and not only from fans, I thought that it’s a good opportunity to see the first and original John Wick which also received some positive echos, much above what is typically delivered for a film in its genre. It’s certainly a matter of setting expectations, but I personally was not disappointed. If violent action movies are one of the genres that entertain you, good chances that you will not be disappointed either.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2911666/

 

Rule #1 to enjoy such a film is to accept the conventions of the genre. The story takes place in the parallel universe of the crime underworld. Although bodies start to accumulate in piles pretty soon, there is no policeman in view with the exception of one cop showing up at one point, looking at the scene of the carnage and wishing good evening to the hero who happens to be a professional killer. This parallel universe is not lawless, it’s just that the laws or better said the rules are different. There is a code of honor, there are territories of neutrality, and there is only one punishment – death – for breaking rules or trespassing borders. At the roots of the story stands a failed tentative by the main hero to break the cycle of violence of his profession and jump in the universe of normal people. All this is just memories when the action starts. This film is for what ‘Jack Reacher’ is for Tom Cruise and I suspect that at some point even taking the name of the hero as a title is not a coincidence. It’s the start of a series and the second installment was not too late to come.

 

(video source Lionsgate Movies)

 

Assuming you bought into the story and the convention, there is some good stuff to enjoy. Stuntman is sitting for the first time on the film director chair and he delivers exactly what is expected – a coherent story telling and perfect choreography of the many action scenes that occupy more than half of the duration of the movie. delivers what is expected, and a few other fine actors show up in small and even smaller supporting roles. Cinematography is just beautiful, with combinations of dark colors that fit well the violent dark universe that they populate. If you can just forget how sketchy the whole story (or pretext) of the film is, you have good reasons to enjoy it.

 

I liked director ‘s Drive. I read it as a love story disguised in a violent action movie, an uneasy combination that worked perfectly, to a large extent thanks to the presence in the lead role of Ryan Gosling, one of my preferred actors. From the same director comes now The Neon Demon a film that confirms the fame of Refn as a director who does not hesitate to create violence on screen in a manner that would almost make Tarantino blush, but yet has always another different message that provides substance to his movies.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1974419/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1974419/

 

‘The Neon Demon’ begins as the innocent-girl-in-LA genre, with Jesse () landing in California and finding pretty soon herself engaged on a stellar modeling path. All is due to her looks, she has the charisma and innocence that makes the room light and warm up when she steps in. Her beauty is her strength, but may also become soon her main liability as she becomes a threat to the other beautiful women around and they may fight back by all means. And ‘by all means’ indeed means ‘all means’ – we are in the beauty industry, and the demons can be as dark and scary as in a haunted mansion.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

Much of the rest of the film is in almost pure horror genre. Some will love it, some will hate it, some will exit the screening theater at some point. My impressions are pretty mixed. I am not intimidated by explicit horror or sex on screen, I have seen worse horror in some Korean movies for example, and these actually fall within the logic (or un-logic) of the story. The film is visually striking, with plenty of beautiful video art elements, too many actually, and this is one of the aspects that I did not like. There are so many beautiful filmed scenes and they are so long that at some point the whole experience smells of narcissism. Same about the usage of electronic music.  is an excellent Jesse, beautiful and vulnerable, threatened and threatening. She is actually one almost sure bet for the list of the stars of tomorrow, with no less than 54 roles on record, three for each of the 18 years of her age (her first one was ‘Lucy 2 years’ in I Am Sam!). makes a short appearance, but his fans should not go to this film just to see him. The last 15 minutes of the film put in context all that we have seen until then, but I have seen better endings.

‘The Neon Demon’ is not a film all will like, and it’s not easy viewing even for those who will like it. It’s worth being seen despite its problems. For dully warned audiences only.