In the closing days of World War II, family doctor Akagi runs (literally) from patient to patient in a small Japanese seaside village and discovers an alarming increase in hepatitis among his increasingly war-weary patients. He seeks a cure but the government is more interested in preparing for The Final Battle as the war draws inevitably to a close. He enlists the support of a diverse collection of friends including a morphine addicted surgeon, a hedonistic monk, and a young recovering prostitute who inevitably falls in love with him.
Dennis D. McDonald’s MOVIE REVIEWS
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None of which is bad, given the skewing of this movie to a somewhat older audience than the first, but if you think of sports metaphors, Shrek 2 is a homer inside the park; Shrek was a homer outside the park. Both are winners, but there is a difference.
I went into this movie assuming it was going to have some heavy handed propaganda about conservative, born-again intolerance. It's more complex than that. Yes, there is a constant buzz about "Jesus" at this high school, where wall displays showcasing "Creationism" share space with posters showing a smiling George W. Bush. But to discount this movie as just another example of left-wing Hollywood bashing of moral-values types who condemn liberals at the drop of a hat would be very short sighted.
For one thing, our hero, played by Jena Malone (Contact, Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Donne Darko, Cold Mountain) is facing both a moral dilemma and pregnancy. A devout Christian, she has to deal with the fact that her boyfriend is gay and that she is pregnant. The interesting plot twist is that the people she become closest to are the school misfits, the ones who are not bible-thumpers but the ones who are a bit out of the school's mainstream. (That Jesus himself is known to have non-judgmentally recruited sinners to his cause is well documented. I assume this element of the plot is probably intentional.)
What I liked the most about this film was that it addresses hypocrisy and intolerance in a fresh and clever way. In one scene, Jena Malone's character Mary argues with the school's most "popular" girl (played brilliantly by Mandy Moore) after an abortive attempt to "exorcise" her. The argument becomes heated and the girl hits Mary in the back with a thrown Bible. Mary turns around and yells, "This is not a weapon!"
In another scene, the parents of Mary's boyfriend have discovered his homosexuality and send him packing to a Christian "Mercy House" for "de-gayification." Later we are told that Mercy House is designed to provide comfort to the people who send their kids there, not the kids themselves.
Despite the simplistic religious underpinning of this high school, what we see in this movie is the real moral dilemmas that these young people face. While the adults have been able to transfer their homophobia to most of the young people at the school under the guise of religious justification, Mary instead desperately seeks a way to help him -- and offers herself. This is a profoundly moral decision, albeit misguided.
Mary has her baby. But her boyfriend has fallen in love with another young man at Mercy House, also sent there because he's gay. And the school's popular girl gets her comeuppance for trying to frame Mary and her clique of misfits. The ending is almost too tidy, but along the way we have seen some moral dilemmas addressed in a fresh and different way.
As someone who spent 12 years in Catholic schools, and whose children have also attended private religious schools,I have some familiarity with what it's like to have religious and moral teaching pounded into you day in and day out. These teachings do have a direct impact on young people at a most vulnerable time of their lives. How they are presented, and by whom, is sometimes as important as what is presented.
It's sad though to see such teachings include intolerance and fear, as shown in this film with regard to homosexuality. While this element is treated as a basic plot point, I cannot help but feel sadness at what a place like "Mercy House" must do to its young charges as they attempt to "brainwash away" young people's homosexuality. That such cruelty and intolerance are so institutionalized is a sobering fact that hovers in the background of this movie and, along with Mary's pregnancy dilemma, propels it way above being "just another teen comedy."
It's interesting to check out other reviews of this film on the web. As the producer and director point out in their commentary on this DVD (recorded 8 days before the release of the film) they were already receiving criticism from the religious "right." That's to be expected, as satire to operate has to ruffle some feathers. One review criticizes the film for not presenting better adult role models. Duh? This is a teen comedy; very few teen comedies present adults as central characters or positive role models. Maybe such critics would prefer the way adults are presented in Hell House? Another reviewer states that this movie presents smoking in a positive light. Huh?
I find it interesting that Catholic education has been a target of satire for as long as I remember; here we see another branch of the Christian faith being skewered, so maybe it's a form of justice that a movie like Saved! comes along to spread the satirical jabbing around. You know, sort of "even things out," the way Woody Allen used to satirize New York Jews.
But what sets this movie apart is that it isn't just a comedy. At its core it does address some real issues, albeit in an unusual and (some would say a disrespectful) way. To which I say, welcome to the real world of Free Speech.
The house was packed. The movie was terrific. We had a great time. Another Pixar triumph. So what is so great about this movie? It’s funny, the action is nonstop, the characters are memorable, the animation excellent, the dialog is witty, the satire is clever.
Yes, we get to see Denzel kick some serious ass in what has to be one of the best kidnapping-revenge movies I’ve ever seen. What makes this movie rise far above its standard story and outdated “NYPD Blue” jumpy photography is a set of terrific performance by all main and supporting characters.
The view of the publishing business that emerges in this documentary is very different than the one you see if all you know is Amazon.com, Borders, and C-SPAN's BookTV. Here you see charismatic young publishers betting the farm to bring fringe and suppressed book to light while battling the forces of "mainstream media" that at all turns seem to be resisting and twisting "the truth."
When Germany’s Bismarck sank Britain’s Hood in 1941, 1,415 men lost their lives; only three survived. The final explosion that sent Hood down is dramatized as one of many fantastic occurrences in this tense and realistic film.
Updated on Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 10:55AM by Dennis D. McDonald
First I popped in the DVD and selected the “play all songs” options. Wow. I have never seen a song-and-dance production number like the one that takes place on the top of the moving train (“Chaiyya Chaiyya”). My daughter wondered, “How many people died making this?” The rest of the musical numbers are quite interesting, a mix of romance and action, including one sequence with plentiful fire and explosions.
This movie has some of the most incredible special effects I’ve ever seen. The views of the earth and disastrous weather systems viewed from space are simply gorgeous. The repeated disasters are very skillfully done and usually very scary. The surround soundtrack is spacious, effective, and loud.
This movie is a good experience if you have any interest at all in early exploration of the Americas by the Spanish. I watched it spellbound and, despite some serious drawbacks, I've decided to watch it again.
Colin Farrell (Daredevil, Phone Booth, S.W.A.T.) plays a young lieutenant who is captured by the Germans during WWII, cracks during interrogation, and is sent to a German prisoner of war camp in Augsburg Germany. Bruce Willis (Tears of the Sun) plays the colonel in charge of Allied prisoners. Farrell's character is dumped in with the enlisted men (Willis knows he cracked during interrogation) and is soon joined by two black American pilots. Although officers, they also are put in with the enlisted men and the scene is set for skullduggery, racist arguments, murder, and a courtroom drama.
Many years ago I remember thinking, while reading Philip K. Dick's quirky novel UBIK, "No one will ever be able to film a movie like this." I think i just saw one -- ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, and it makes perfect sense in a lopsided way.
This black and white doomsday adventure from 1964 tells about a U.S. bomber crew sent by accident to destroy Moscow and how the U.S. president (played by Henry Fonda) deals with the situation.
In Episode 4, "A New Hope," Alec Guinness, playing Obi Wan Kenobi, says to Luke Skywalker when giving him his father's lightsaber, "...an elegant weapon for a more civilized age." Watching these three films for the first time in many years brought to my mind a similar statement, "...simpler films for a simpler age."
Shot in vivid black and white, this widescreen Japanese horror movie from 1964 operates on several levels. There is the supernatural aspect (the demon and the mask), there is the sexual frustration of the main characters that is wildly and explicitly unleashed during the film,
The most interesting extra on this DVD is the long documentary that tracks the production of the film. It documents with great detail and enthusiasm what I think is the main message of this film, that people “outside the mainstream” who have a vision can produce blockbuster entertainment that depends heavily on modern technology managed and used in a tightly controlled temporary business environment.
I saw this on the Sundance channel, so I didn’t get a chance to see any DVD extras. Still, that’s quite enough. As a great fan of animation I love Plympton’s quirky, jiggly style, and his lewd, schoolboy humor sometimes transcends its frequently sophomoric origins. (Really, how many visual representations of an erection can you think of?)