Movie reviews Most of us love to go to the movies — but if there are many movies in town to choose from, the choice can be difficult. Movie reviewers like to help with that choice. Movie reviews are written, not to tell you what to see, but to help you decide whether or not you would like to see a certain film. Movie critics offer their opinions on the qualities of a particular movie. Sometimes their reviews are positive and other times they are negative. Different reviewers may have very different opinions about the same movie. What one movie reviewer finds entertaining, another may find disappointing. Besides offering their opinions, movie critics also tell a little about the story line to catch our interest and perhaps encourage us to venture to the theatres to see the movies for themselves. Most reviews include certain kinds of information and organize that information in similar ways. Knowing what to expect can help you get the facts you need and understand the writer's opinions. Here's what you can expect in a typical movie review. Title and The title of the review and the deck (a deck sentence in special print above the review) suggest the reviewer’s opinion — whether he or she thinks the movie is worth seeing or not. Where At the top of the review, is the name the movie and the places where it can be seen. Introduction Here the reviewer tells us why he or she thinks the movie is good or not. There is also often a brief summary of what the movie is about, the story line and what kind of movie it is — adventure, horror, romance, for example. Actors' This part gives a short description of Roles the main characters and names the actors who play the parts. Reviews refer to roles the actors have played in other movies. Story line In this part you find out more about the story line and also where and when the movie takes place and what the setting or mood is. There may be more information about the roles as the reviewer talks about the story line. Conclusion The reviewer may conclude with an interesting or thought-provoking question or statement to tempt you to see the movie for yourself. Our local reviewer sometimes makes a link with a local situation or social attitude. Here are some excerpts from K. Rudeen's review of The Insider. No smoking without fire REVIEW:Heavyweight performances drive this promising Oscar contender The Insider In English at EGV, UA, UMG, Siam Square, Cineplex and World Trade Centre Director Michael Mann and actors Al Pacino and Russell Crowe combine their eclectic talents to make The Insider a powerful suspense drama, a film serious viewers can't afford to miss as the Oscar hopefuls queue up for local screening. Superficially, the film shows how traditional investigative journalism exposes the shameless lies of greedy businessmen; but at its heart it tells the story of two men's struggle against the mighty forces of the capitalist establishment. Pacino plays Lowell Bergman, a 60 Minutes producer who persuades Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), a former executive of a giant tobacco company, to blow the whistle on his former employer's alleged malpractices concerning public health. Bergman finally convinces Wigand to talk, only to find out that his network, CBS, has decided to kill the controversial scoop for fear of ensuing legal troubles. This forces Bergman to go behind his bosses' backs in his crusade to pressure CBS into airing the interview; while Wigand, his sole ally, is left to face the devastating consequences of his disclosures. More impressive, however, is the Australian-born Russell Crowe. He's perfect for the role of the man who knows too much. Wigand, gagged by the confidentiality agreement he signed with the company, is miserably weighed down by all the secrets he's not supposed to divulge; he speaks in a near whisper, eyes lowered, as if the most crucial parts of his speech get blocked in his throat. Christopher Plummer plays another key character, Mike Wallace, a veteran correspondent of 60 Minutes and close friend to Bergman. The Insider is based on the Vanity Fair article The Man Who Knew Too Much, and the film presents a fairly accurate report of this true account which finally led to the $246 billion lawsuits between 49 states and the US tobacco industry. But truth isn't what most concerns us: The movie is engaging, fact-packed, fast- paced, and, in a way, inspires us with mixed feelings of anger and surprise at how little we know about the ethical standpoints of these billionaires. At the centre of the film are the performances of Pacino and Crowe. Bergman is a seasoned newsman who upholds the liberal ideology of a free press ("Are you a newsman or a businessman?," he barks at a CBS executive); and Pacino simply does what he always does best: slick, ranting, incisive, with a deadpan sense of humour. These are the kind of characters films tend to glamourise. More impressive, however, is the Australian-born Russell Crowe. He's perfect for the role of the man who knows too much. Wigand, gagged by the confidentiality agreement he signed with the company, is miserably weighed down by all the secrets he's not supposed to divulge; he speaks in a near whisper, eyes lowered, as if the most crucial parts of his speech get blocked in his throat. But despite all the complications, The Insider is simple to follow. Unlike other investigative hits, for example All The President's Men, which tells the story of how two Washington Post reporters uncovered the Watergate scandal, The Insider doesn't drown us in an ocean of information. The strategy is clear: This film focuses on the characters, not the process. And, alas, that only makes me wish to see characters like Bergman and Wigand in this country — not the self-proclaimed heroes, but people who're at least interested in telling the truth about the cigarettes we smoke, the water we drink, the chickens we eat. If we're talking exposés, there are plenty of stories to expose in this complacent, mai pen rai Thailand. Sharing feelings Kong stresses that in writing a movie review, he is simply expressing his own opinions about the film. That is why he writes his reviews in the first person (i.e., he uses the word "I"). He says his purpose is simply to share his impressions of a movie with his readers. "For example," he says, "if a movie is supposed to be funny and it’s not funny, I try to explain why it fails to do what it is supposed to do." He generally starts thinking about writing his review only after he sees the movie. "I try not to think about my feelings while I’m there," he says. "I just let myself go with the experience, then think later." Kong admits to having somewhat of a formula for writing his reviews. "I begin with my general impression of the movie," he explains. Then, he says, he deals with typical elements of a movie review such as the plot, the characters, the actors, and comparisons with other similar movies. Kong says there are two general approaches to movie reviews. The first deals with the subject itself and what it tells us about society. The other is the "cinematic approach" which focuses on the techniques of movie making e.g., the filming techniques, the acting, the directing, etc. "I try to balance the two approaches," he says. But writing a good review is much more than simply mixing impressions with facts. It has to be interesting and entertaining at the same time. This often means developing a catchy, attention grabbing, theme. For example, here is how Kong began a recent reviews on the movie Inspector Gadget: Inspector Gadget is a comedy with creaks, loose screws and broken springs. Worse, it has no heart, no human touch in its entire length. A gadget, of course, is a small device or machine, and Kong is clearly comparing the movie to a gadget – one which doesn’t work. In other words, in Kong’s opinion, the movie is a failure. Does Kong ever worry about being so outspoken and critical? "No," he says. "When you watch movies, you know right away when something is not good, that it is a hoax and it cannot fulfil what it is supposed to do." In such a case, the reviewer should be honest and tell his readers about the movie’s failings. OUR REVIEW FROM THE BANGKOK POST REVIEWS The ugly American REVIEW: Poignant drama is a slap in the face. heavyweight K. Rudeen contenders strong candidates indie an independently made movie, not the product of one of the big Hollywood studios In his fantasies, Lester sees Angela motive festooned in rose petals. a reason for American Beauty doing something In English at EGV, UA, UMG, Siam Square, decadence Cineplex and World Trade Centre a low Why would a Thai want to see a movie called American standard of behaviour Beauty? deformity Apparently, because it's a front-runner in this year's Oscar a chance for best picture; its two leading stars, Kevin Spacey and from the Annette Bening, are also heavyweight contenders to usual shape or grab the statuettes for best actor and actress. Plus this: appearance; American Beauty is an indie project, and some local film ugliness intellectuals have rushed to announce that the movie is a raving masterpiece. praising inspire American Beauty is a genus of rose favourite in American to cause homes; its use in the film is entirely symbolic. sensitive Interpretations vary on the motive of the title American difficult to talk Beauty — mine read it as a satire. And if you ask me, the about reason we should spend 100 baht to sit in the theatre is numbed having no not to see the beauty, but the ugliness, the decadence, feeling and the psychological deformity of the characters. I see nadir the point why Western critics have been raving about it: the lowest American Beauty is so American. This is an example of point; having how a supposedly universal medium like a movie can no hope hysterical inspire different perceptions. I watched this movie as a easily upset; Thai watching a foreign film. I get the story, but I'm afraid I overly didn't get the sociological details that would deepen my emotional understanding and appreciation. I know that the Kevin resurrected Spacey character has a problem, but is it the same brought back to life problem as a middle-age man in my neighbourhood? Are infatuation we that Americanised? a strong, Don't get this wrong: As a movie — as an experience — usually American Beauty is strangely affecting. The film is witty unrealistic, and hilarious, yet sublimely interlaced with an air of tragic love pubescent poignancy. And from sexual standards, it's pushing the just entering envelope. Masturbation, paedophilia, voyeurism, adultery, adult age teen sex, repressed homosexuality — writer-director Sam nuts Mendes treats these sensitive issues with a kind of crazy numbed insensitivity that sometimes makes us laugh, but dependent needing most of the time makes us aware. another The story of a broken-down middle-class suburban family isn't new, but it's the characterisation and the writing of Alan Ball that lift this one above the others. I believe, generally speaking, that many American men could identify with the frustration of Lester Burnham, a salesman who's reaching the nadir of existence. "I've already been dead," he narrates at the opening, "the high point of my life is when I jerk off in the bathroom every morning." Lester has a wife, Carolyn (Bening), a hysterical real estate agent with whom he has stopped having sex since time immemorial, and a teenage daughter named Jane, played by Thora Birch. One day at a school sports event, Lester meets Angela, Jane's friend, and suddenly he's resurrected from his living death as he feels the jolt of an all-out infatuation for this pubescent blonde. While this narrative is executed with a comical helplessness, the darker corner begins to lurk as another family moves into a house next door — a colonel, his nuts wife, and their darkly handsome son, Ricky, who soon supplies pot to Lester and develops an intriguing sexual affair with Jane. None of these characters are normal; they're all twisted in their own way. One of the best scenes is when Ricky, with an indescribable glimmer in his eyes, shows Jane his videotape of a crumpled plastic bag; and when they meet again she candidly implores him to kill her father. Projecting the movie as a satire, Mendes carefully works his way to a heightened, powerful drama of the last 20 minutes that can leave you cold. I think American Beauty will get the Oscar, but that shouldn't be the sole reason for you to want to see the movie. It's just interesting to see the other side of America — not the White House, not the NYSE, not Yellowstone. After the Clinton-Lewinsky saga, this Lester-Angela version helps to offer more insights to the social conditions of this country — the country on which we're so mentally dependent, the country we're so concerned with its definitions of the ugliness and beauty. OUR REVIEW FROM THE INTERNET American Beauty **** (R) BY ROGER EBERT American Beauty is a comedy because we laugh at the absurdity of the hero's problems. And a tragedy because we can identify with his failure – not the specific details, but the general outline. The movie is about a man who fears growing older, losing the hope of true love and not being respected by those who know him best. If you never experience those feelings, take out a classified ad. People want to take lessons from you. Lester Burnham, the hero of American Beauty, is played by Kevin Spacey as a man who is unloved by his daughter, ignored by his wife and unnecessary at work. "I'll be dead in a year," he tells us in almost the first words of the movie. "In a way, I'm dead already." The movie is the story of his rebellion. … Everything changes for Lester the night he is dragged along by his wife to see their daughter perform as a cheerleader. There … he sees his angel: Angela (Mena Suvari), his daughter's high-school classmate. Is it wrong for a man in his 40s to lust after a teenage girl? Any honest man understands what a complicated question this is. Wrong morally, certainly, and legally. But as every woman knows, men are born with wiring that goes directly from their eyes to their genitals, bypassing the higher centres of thought. They can disapprove of their thoughts, but they cannot stop themselves from having them. American Beauty is about yearning after youth, respect, power and, of course, beauty. The moment a man stops dreaming is the moment he petrifies inside … At the end, somehow, improbably, the film snatches victory from the jaws of defeat for Lester, its hero. Not the kind of victory you'd get in a feel-good movie, but the kind where you prove something important, if only to yourself. American Beauty is not as dark or twisted as Happiness, last year's attempt to shine a light under the rock of American society. It's more about sadness and loneliness than about cruelty or inhumanity. Nobody is really bad in this movie, just shaped by society in such a way they can't be themselves, or feel joy.
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