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The Others (2001)
Nicole Kidman rules!
If I had to sum up this movie in a word, it would be "chilling." The Others is a delightfully atmospheric suspense film. It's tense, scary, and very memorable -- I don't think I'll ever forget the image of a terrified Nicole Kidman clutching her rosary beads around her shotgun as she tears down the halls of her dreadful Victorian mansion.
Writer/director/composer Alejandro Amenabar creates a dark, dark atmosphere, in which you feel like you can't trust anyone. Nicole Kidman, in her brilliant performance as Grace, is supposedly the "heroine" of the film, but as I watched the movie I found myself more frightened of her than rooting for her; steely and overbearing, with a hint of psychotic hysteria in her icy eyes. And then the children, (held their own and even stole a few scenes from the more experienced players) were just hellishly creepy. The little girl was one of the most ominous characters I have ever seen in a film. And the servants (who were also finely played) will keep you guessing the whole way through. Every time you think you have it figured out, some of the household help will pop up and throw the whole framework off-kilter.
The real attraction in this film is Nicole Kidman, following up her bravura performance as Satine in "Moulin Rouge" with a woman teetering between insanity and iron control. Grace has so many layers, and Kidman reveals almost all of them through her face. The film is anchored by her presence, and she plays off the other actors extremely well -- note the tense relationship she has with Anne, her daughter. When the two lock eyes, it's like watching two trains crash head-first into one another.
The only disappointment in this movie is the ending, which is slightly anti-climactic. When you get to it, you'll be satisfied, and it ties up everything that's happened in the movie up to that point quite well. But it seemed almost anti-climactic, and I was left feeling a little bit let down.
Overall, I gave The Others a 9/10.
Wo hu cang long (2000)
Soaring, beautiful filmmaking!
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", is most certainly the best movie I've seen this year. The drama and the action are amazing. The acting is the best I've seen ever in a karate movie, the best I've seen in a movie this year - it's a crime that Michelle Yeoh wasn't nominated for Best Actress. The cinematography is genius - the scenery of mainland China is captured flawlessly, the costumes are in turns effectively simple or incredibly detailed.
Some of the other people who have seen this film pointed out a few "flaws". One of the most ridiculous I can find is people complaining of lack of character development. This movie had some of the most clearly drawn, complex characters in any movie. Especially note the characters Shu Lien and Jade Fox - both are masterfully portrayed and are a perfect example of the characters' emotions.
While the plot is certainly not the most complex thing, it certainly gives these people a great reason to be running around the country after eachother - the real joy in this movie comes in the interactions. Any scene in which the three leads are, especially the ones with Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien, sparkles with energy and chemistry. This movie proves that the karate genre -- no, movies in general! -- are not beyond hope.