Memories of Murder, review (warning spoilers)

Kang-ho Song acted in the fun Korean blockbuster The Host as the not-to bright but loving father.   In Memories of Murder is plays a detective in a very small rural town, where it looks like a serial killer is on the loose.  Most of the forensic evidence is destroyed by the time the police are on the scenes.  He interviews many suspects and feels he can tell who is guilty by looking in their eyes.  His partner takes pleasure in beating the crap out of suspects until they confess to just about anything.

Enter the more sofisticated detective from Seoul who looks for patterns.  The killings occur on rainy nights, were all wearing red, and on each night a certain rare song is requested on the radio.  As the police narrow down their search they are constantly stymied by the lack of evidence.  Even the specimen sent of to American for DNA testing is equivocal .

Does Hae-il Parklook like James Spader?

I will rate this one 3/5 acorns with 1/2 for crimes against women and policemen beating up suspects, guilty or not.


Movie Marathon, 4 movies in 2 days

I’m Not Scared is a very beautifully shot Italian movie about a boy who discovers a kidnapped child chained in an abandoned house.  The boy is crazy with fear and tells MIchele, he thinks he is dead and that his family is also dead.  Michele keeps quiet about this and finds that he parents are involved in the kidnap scheme.  While he ponders all of this he takes Filippo food and out to play.  My favorite scene is when they roll in the wheat fields that this provincial Hawaiian never knew existed in Italy.  Once the grownups discover Michele knows about their secret, Filippo is moved.  From the TV he discovers that Filippo’s family is not able to raise the large sum of money in time.  He is moved to action when he overhears the adults pulling straws to see who will be the one to kill Filippos.    I will rate this one 4/5 acorns.  No clives

Nine Queens is an Argentinian movie about con men.  The nine queens is a set of rare stamps, most valuable as they contain a printing error.  A conman, Marcos, who has recently lost his partner hooks up with a young man, Juan,  who he catches bungling a simple con and offers to bring him in on a scam in which they will sell a forgery of the nine queens to a stamp dealer.  Many things go wrong.   Many people are involved including members of Marco’s and Juan’s sister.  As the plot thickens it is less clear who is conning who.  This movie did not have a lot of action.  Marcos talks a lot as he “trains” his apprentice.  The end is most satisfying.  I will rate this one 3/5 acorns, no clives.

City of Ember surprised me in my search for movies to see on movie day.  I love a good fantasy tale and this one has Tim Robbins in it.  The City of Ember is an underground city, powered by a massive generator.  The city was created by the “builders” 200 years earlier as a way to save the human race from total annihilation.  A box holding the secret, given to the mayor had been lost and when the generator starts to flicker, the Citizens of Ember turn to religion or believe in the corrupt mayor.  A small fraction is more concerned and tries to find how why and how.

Martin Landau has a great cameo as a pipe worker who knows his job very well but no one else.  His young apprentice, Tim Robbins son, very much wants to fix the generator.  He swaps graduation jobs with a classmate to get her job in the pipeworks and she becomes the messenger she so wanted to be.  Together they discover meaning of the box hidden in grannie’s closet, a giant mutated mole and the mayor’s secret.  As the puzzle unfolds the movie took on a Myst like quality with a bit of the Goonies and Whoville thrown in.  I will rate this one 3/5 acorns, no clives.

Body of Lies stars Russell Crowe and Leonardo Dicaprio as CIA operatives.  Russel Crow put on a bunch of weight for this roll as the protected man back in Washington and Leonardo as the operative in the Middle East.  Following a lead on a terrorist who anonymously has been blowing up stuff in Europe, Leonardo goes to Jordan.  He enlists the aid of the Jordanian CIA equivalent, played by Mark Strong.  Crowe’s character is detached from any personal relationships other then that with Leo.  Leonardo’s character is not only immersed in the relationships with Mark Strong’s character, but he also sees the destruction and loss of life that result from his actions and relationships.    As an action picture, Ridley Scott has made an excellent picture.  The acting was a+.  As a commentary on American’s in the Middle East, I can only hope there is much fantasy.    I will rate this one 3/5 acorns.  I will give it 1/2 of clive for torture and finger smashing.  Youch!

Dexter, Season 2

Michael C. Hall plays Dexter, forensic expert who is also a serial killer.  In Season 2, pressures mount as the FBI begins examining the bodies discovered in the bay.  Sgt. Doakes is on his tail again, after briefly being put off thinking Dexter has been hiding a drug addiction.  He even finds Dexter’s trophies, the single drop of blood from each of his victims.  Rita, his girlfriend has to confront her domineering mother and jealousy over his NA sponsor, Lila.  Lila has a fatal attraction for Dexter, and is clearly unbalanced.  He starts to recognize this after she sets fire to her own apartment when she finds out he plans to spend a day at the beach with Rita.  Meanwhile, Dexter finds out more disturbing facts about his mothers and adoptive father and seeks out the one remaining murderer.

I was sad to see the last episode.  Now I have to wait until Season 3 comes out on DVD.

Someone should have warned Lila not to mess with a serial killer.  But, I for one was glad to see her end.  Still there is something very scary about the look in Dexter’s eyes.  He truly likes what he does.  Luckily for the “normal” he has a code, like Anton Chigurh, in No Country for Old Men.   Just stay off their list.

Season 2 Dexter and Death Race reviews

Season 2 of Dexter is lined up in the Netflix queue.   Really, it’s tough to figure out what I can’t stop watching it.  There isn’t anything redeeming about a serial killer with a string of over 30, is there?  Dexter’s neat little bundles have been discovered under the sea by some divers seeking a shipwreck.  One of the Carradine brothers playing and FBI agent is called in and Dexter’s sister is attracted to him even though he is much older.  Dexter’s girlfriend’s mom has moved in and she tries to take over the household.  Dexter’s sponser at NA is all over the place and she clearly has some really big issues of her own.  Dexter breaks up with his girflriend,  and finds out more about his mom and her death, but I won’t let this spoiler out of the bag.    So why is this all so intriguing?  It’s the vigilante angle.  Even “normal” citizens argue that he should just be let go.  So I can’t wait for the next two discs.

Once again I showed up at the wrong time for a movie so ended up seeing Jason Statham in Death Race instead of Babylon AD.  It’s pretty much straight up action.  The trailer explains the plot and there aren’t many surprises.  Mr Statham shows off his rhomboids…I’m a sucker for great rhomboids.  It’s the testosterone.  This movie does play up the difference between testosterone and estrogen, the estrogen being displayed by Natalie Marinez and Joan Allen.  Not a deep movie but the non stop action, predictable plot, likable characters and happy ending made me glad I got to see it on the big screen.


Frederick Koehler plays an interesting character named Lists and Ian McShane is coach.  And oh, btw, Ford will be happy to see their cars in the race.

Life’s Little Dramas. Traitor, Kaibei and Dr. Who Reviews

Sunday I took my “trainer” dog Malu, the Blue Healer, for a walk in Waimanlo.  He was on a leash.  I saw a slight movement just a split second before he did and before I could react he pounced on a bird.  I know it was a bird because I saw it’s green tail sticking out of his mouth.  Malu did not pay any attention to my command to drop it, nor did he listen to his real pack leader.  Instead he took a gulp and swallowed it.   What a dog.  I still feel sorry for that little bird and very disappointed in my leadership skills.  I don’t think I’ll be getting a dog any time soon.

Back home, I’m attacking the weeds in the patio.  Occasionally I pull up an especially big clump and an earthworm gets disturbed.  I worry about them as those lizards come out of nowhere and eat them.  I cover them with dirt or a pot until they find safety.   And to think I used to dig those guys up and go bass fishing below the reservoir.  Ew.

So much for life’s little dramas.

I watched Kaibei because it had Tadanobu Asano in it.  He plays Yamazaki, a gangly, nerdy guy, who trips over his own feet and doesn’t know how to swim.

Kaibee is about a women’s mother. It is a tear jerker. Dad, Tobei, is imprisioned because of his politcal beliefs. This takes place prior to WW2 when Japan has invaded China. Kaibee makes many sacrifices for her children and bears the shame, the poverty and the loneliness to see her husband. Yamazaki (Asano) shows up one day and becomes a great support to the family until he his drafted In typical fashion, even without the samurai theme, everybody dies and no one gets the girl. Asano is great as the gangly klutz.

Season 1 on Dr. Who has ended on the Netflix queue. The new Dr. Who has been introduced. I’ll see how I like him. I hear he is very good.

Traitor,  stars Don Cheadle as and US asset in the Middle East. His father before him was killed in a car bombing in Sudan.  He was raised by his mom in Chicago.  His skill is building bombs and this comes in handy if one is infiltrating a terrorist organization.  Mr. Memento himself, Guy Pearce plays a FBI agent who gets on his trail as he seeks out the group.  Only one person in the USA knows Don is a good guy, and it is not Guy.   I don’t know how “real” this portrayal is.   There is a cool twist at the end which I will not say more about.   I will rate this movie 3/5 acorns.

Tropic Thunder, Dr. Who Season 1, Red Cliff Reviews

I went to see Tropic Thunder because I wanted to laugh. Robert Downey Jr. plays a Australian actor who gets so deep into his characters he doesn’t know who he is any more. He thinks he’s a black man and has had his skin altered and “talks black”. This offends the hip hop star who also acts in this movie. Tom Cruise plays a puffed up movie exec. He has fake body hair and is almost unrecognizable. Jack Black is Jack Black and what a crazy funny guy he is. Nick Nolte plays a Vietnam Vet who writes a book about his experience. He is on location as an advisor. The filming is not going well. Ben Stiller, on the downside of his his action star career can’t cry and the pyronechnic guy decimates the forest when the camera isn’t running. To make things more real, they actors are dropped into the jungle without their cel phones and stumble on a drug running operation. Brando Soo Hoo plays the tough child leader of the drug runners. He is trained in Karate, Tae kwon do and Kung fu.

If you like vulgar humor that pokes fun at the movie industry and relationships, this is your movie. One does not have to dig deep for a cheap laugh.

Disc 3 of Dr. Who Season 1 came, and I am enjoying the series. I’m confused. Christopehr Eccleston is listed as the actor playing Dr. Who, but one IMDB David Tennant is listed as Dr. Who. Oh oh, I just read that he quit after one season and was replaced by David Tennant! There ought to be a law! David Tennant is Scottish. I will have to prepare for the switchover. At least I’ve been warned. I am enjoying this series…tongue in cheek humor, geek gadgets, zany monsters and time travel.

Red Cliffs is based on a book that can be downloaded at It tells the story of 3 kingdoms and a battle at Red Cliffs. Cao Cao wants to rule all three kingdoms and has the largest army. His only motive is greed. He has put Liu Bei on the run and Liu Bei and Sun Quan for a truce to beat Cao Cao. They are still outnumbered, but have the love of their people, two very astute military strategists, and very loyal champion fighter generals on their side. When Cao Cao decides to attack from the sea, he is lured into fighting a land battle where he is defeated. Apparently there will be a sequel, because he doesn’t die, but comes back from the sea to fight the battle of Red Cliffs. John Woo directs an excellent cast. It is an interesting historical drama with good acting and great action shots. I will rate this one 3/5 acorns. Having very cute actors doesn’t hurt one bit (Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro)

Cruel Winter Blues, Review

Two hit men mess up a hit and kill the wrong guy. The dead guys “family” seeks revenge and one of the hit men takes the fall for his friend. He does it because he has no family and the other guy has a mother, that visited them when they were in prison. Jae-moon goes after the man who kills his friend. He takes a new guy, Chi-guk with him to stake out the small town where the target’s, Dae-sik’s mother lives. Chi-guk is from that town and once was a Taekwondo instructor.

Jae-moon eats lunch at Dae-sik’s moms restaurant as it is the only restaurant in town. She takes him shopping and drinking with girls, and when he has the chance to kill Dae-sik he hesitates.

One thing he tells Chi-guk about being a ganster, is that when an order comes from the boss, the order must be obeyed, no matter what. Chi-guk appears morally conflicted about the life he has chosen.

Unless there is a sequel, the whole Taekwondo storyline goes nowhere.

Although not a greatest action flick, gangster flick or drama, this movie is still entertaining.

I will rate it 2.5/5 clives.

Atsuhime, Nakayama Shinchiro, and Throw Down reviews

Throw Down is a Chinese movie about Judo. I didn’t concentrate too much on the storyline as I was seaming a sweater, but here’s what I think happened. A young judo student comes in to town with the thought of challenging his hero to a match. That man has fallen on hard times and drinks a lot. It’s not explained too well why. Throw in the 3rd character, a women who is looking to “make it”, in acting or singing. A judo mentor who has a disabled son he takes care of dies in a duel and this is one factor in the alcoholic dude’s love of judo and honor coming back. I’m think the son must be autistic or an idiot savant, because he thinks he’s Sugata Sanshiro and can since in Japanese. But then I digress.

The high point of this movie are the judo matches. It’s a lot more like wrestling. I won’t rate this one.

Nakayama Shinchiro stars Raizo Ichikawa (best know for his role as Nemuri Kyoshiro (sleepy eyes of death). He plays a gambling man named Masakichi who vows to go straight when he falls in love and marries Oshima. However, his enemies conspire and the “boss” rapes Oshima and she kills herself in shame. Masakichi kills the boss and goes on the run.

He supports himself by gambling and he meets a young man who is trying to win enough money so he can get married. He is not a good gambler and borrows money from a loan shark. Masakichi, still haunted by is wif’es death, tries to help the young man and his wife, Onaka. Onaka looks just like Oshima. The loan shark falsifies the IOU and demands Onaka in exchange. Of course this is too much for Masakichi and he is the only one that can get them out of the mess they are in.

Raizo Ichikawa had a short life but made quite of few movies. I will give this one 3/5 acorns.

Atsuhime and her husband are able to reconcile their differences from last weeks episode and she vows to be true to her heart, in spite of all the intrigues and politicking around them. I feel anxious with every episode as the history books tell me she will be a widow after only about 5 years of marriage. She has come to adore her husband even though their relationship remains platonic.

Darn if I didn’t watch Legend of the Shadowless Sword again. I hate when I forgot I saw a movie before and rent it again. At least this one was fun. How could I forget the exploding men?

The Restless and Open City, Reviews

The Restless (Joong-cheon)

This Korean movie has some very stunning, beautiful scenes and great fighting. The high wire flying, though, doesn’t always work and was too much. Our hero, Yi-gwak, starts off looking a bit like Kibakichi with his tattered clothing and basket hat. He is down and out having lost his lover when she is accused of calling ghosts and executed. As she goes to her death, they vow to never forget their love for each other.

Yi-gwak is the real connection to the ghost world. In his glory days, he belonged to the Chuh-yong-dae, an elite force that fought evil demons. When the group is destroyed he is the lone survivor. He had refused to go on the mission, saying the timing was not good in disagreement with the leader.

So there you have it. Our down and out hero stumbles into Mid Heaven, a place where people go to wait 49 days before reincarnation. And who does he see there, but his old flame, who is now chuneen. Apparently she is a mid level deity who has no memory of her former life, including him. Well to me, that would be a deal breaker, but Yi-gwak persists with winsome looks and corny theme song, to try and jar her memory.

Meanwhile, his old boss, and some members of his former squad are trying to open the gate between the worlds of the the living and the dead. One of the members was jealous of him in their former life because he always felt he should have been promoted first, another was in love with Yi-gwak, and the brothers had idolized him, but of course are loyal to their chief. Yi-gwaks old girlfriend, has the key to the gate.

It seems all this drama would make for a great movie, and while there were moments of great beauty and action, it was all and all, trite. I will rate this one 2/5 acorns, no clives. I love the fantasy, the costumes and the fight scenes. The romance was corny, but the cheese factor was not very high.

Open City, (Mubangbi-dosi) stars Myeong-min Kim as Jo Dae-yeong, a detective, selected to be part of a force formed to target pickpockets. A new group of pickpockets is forming under the leadership of a woman, Baek Jang-mi, who flirts with our hero. She also tries to recruit his mom right out of prison, to be her “machine”. He has issues with mom, who was taken away to prison when he was a little squirt and we get glimpses of his sad face as she is being escorted away from the tenement they live in. He lives with his sister who is the only person he cares about. He can’t forgive mom. Mom has diabetes on top of that and has a hypoglycemic episode while living as a street person. She finallys succumbs to Jang-mi’s offer and takes money from her to start a noodle shop.

I still wonder why Korean policemen are often portrayed beating the crap out of people they arrest. I hope it is because it is felt that makes a more interesting movie. There are very few guns used in this movie. Almost everyone uses a knife or some other sharp, pointy object. I suspect it’s because Korea has more strict gun laws then the USA.

I will rate this one 2/5 acorns. There be blood as there be knives and gangsters who like to remove fingers.

Atshuhime, Domino Reviews

Here I sit writing this in spite of my “resolve” to turn off the computer today! Well, that was my resolve yesterday, too. Same with the healthy eating resolve. Yes, there is ice cream in my freezer! Thankfully it’s a finite quantity.

Atsuhime ended on a very happy note. Her crazy mother in law has it in for her as no baby is forthcoming (her husband’s choice is a platonic relationship) and Atsuhime got the shogun to invite the hated Yoshinobu to the first meeting with Harris, the US representative. She has conspired to keep Atsuhime and her husband Ieasada apart and both of them are unhappy. I cannot find much information about Ieasada, whether he was truly an imbecile, mentally ill or just emotionally crippled. They have come to care for each other. However Atsuhime’s mission to have Yoshinobu named as heir bodes ill for Ieasada’s trust in her.

Domino stars Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter. Her story is a fictionalized biography of a real life bounty hunter, Domino Harvey. It is directed by Tony Scott, brother to Ridley, who also directs/directed Numb3rs, Top Gun, The Hunger, Enemy of the State, and the Last Boy Scout.

Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter…I just had to see it. And there was Mickey Rourke who really does fit the part and a cutie pie Edgar Ramirez, as Choco.

Domino comes from a wealthy but dysfuntional family. Her mom, played very well by Jacqueline Bisset has made a living of marrying well. She tucks Domino in a boarding school. Domino never fits in to the the right jobs…modeling, sorority sister, student, but likes martial arts and guns. After her fish dies she resolves never to care about anything or anyone, as the investment leads to pain and suffering. She happens on a How to become a bounty hunter, class, run by some con men, but when she discovers their con, they choose to have her join them.

Christopher Walken decides to follow them for his reality show. Mafia types, a child with a blood disorder, small time hoods counterfeiting licenses and fraternity boys all get involved and the whole confusing story comes together in the end with a big boom!

Somehow Monique and Macy Gray were also stuck in this movie. They have a scene where they wear first lady masks. What a hoot.

I will rate this one 3/5 acorns. There is violence so maybe a bit of a clive.

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