Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Starring Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Jeremy Davies, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, Paul Giamatti, Harve Presnell

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Expectations: High. I remember loving this. It’s been a few years.


Here’s another History class review.

Saving Private Ryan opens and closes on the same image of a faded American flag. The only sound is the quiet rippling it makes as it moves with the wind. In honor of the soldiers that have fallen and everything that has been sacrificed for the lives of their countrymen, the flag waves steadily and means much more that the simple colored fibers it is constructed of. Like the flag, the film is a commentary on the value of life and what one man is worth. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is the top of the game in terms of World War II films and with good reason. It is an absolute triumph on nearly every level.

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September 17, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Harry Brown (2009)

Harry Brown (2009)

Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Ben Drew, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Jack O’Connell, Liam Cunningham

Directed by Daniel Barber

Expectations: High. Michael Caine? Revenge? Any questions?


Given Michael Caine’s revenge film pedigree, I was thoroughly excited to see him take one last stab at injustice. Harry Brown promised to fit that bill, but it surprised me by being a quiet film for the most part and fairly reserved in comparison to typical genre entries. The fact that Caine is a seventy-seven-year-old man contributes greatly to this tone, and realistically, I probably shouldn’t have built it up as much as I did. I was disappointed in the film, but this can be tied almost directly to my high expectations, so be wary of such things if you do choose to view this.

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September 15, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1992)

Once Upon a Time in China 2 (1992)

Starring Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Rosamund Kwan, Max Mok, Zhang Tielin, David Chiang, Hung Yan-Yan, Yen Shi-Kwan

Directed by Tsui Hark

Expectations: High. I haven’t seen it in a while and I’m really looking forward to the Jet Li / Donnie Yen fight.


So back when I started this site in April, I wrote up some of my thoughts after revisiting one of the classics from my youth, Once Upon a Time in China. I’ve wanted to get down to business and watch the much-loved sequel since then, but only recently got around to it. Wow, I gotta say… this one is even better than the first. It’s possible that I feel this way because I recently watched the original and I had less of an adjustment period, but whatever, Once Upon a Time in China 2 is a damn pleasing film.

While the recently reviewed Ip Man was set during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Once Upon a Time in China 2 takes place just after the First Sino-Japanese War. Taiwan has been handed over to Japan and outside influence is getting stronger. The White Lotus clan is angry that Westerners have come to China and brought all their nasty wares with them. They wish to kill the foreigners and rid the land of everything related to them. Led by the Immortal Kung (Hung Yan-Yan), they are ultra-nationalists and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

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September 8, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ip Man (2008)

Ip Man [葉問] (2008)

Starring Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Gordon Lam Ka-tung, Chen Zhihui, Louis Fan, Shibuya Tenma

Directed by Wilson Yip

Expectations: High.


Ip Man is a rare breed of kung-fu film. It is the type of film that could easily crossover into mainstream popularity, excellently introducing new viewers to the world of Hong Kong cinema through its stellar fights, performances and high production values. Winner of the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Film, Ip Man successfully takes the style of early 90s Hong Kong movies into the 21st century by featuring little to no computer enhancement, instead focusing on and trusting in the skill of its stars. The film succeeds on multiple levels and achieves everything it attempts to convey on screen. This is a kung-fu epic similar in scope and tone to Once Upon a Time in China, and thoroughly recaptures my interest in the genre.

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September 1, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho (2000)

Starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Reese Witherspoon, Chloë Sevigny, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Cara Seymour, Samantha Mathis

Directed by Mary Harron

Expectations: Moderate.


American Psycho is a tough movie to categorize. It’s not really a horror movie, or a drama, or a dark comedy, but it exhibits many traits of all three genres. It makes for an interesting movie to say the least, but unfortunately it’s a bit soulless so it ends up being less than it could be. The soulless nature of the film is a reflection of its main character though, and perfectly portrays the 1980s culture of narcissism and the “dog eat dog” mentality of corporate America. This element is arguably a great strength, despite my personal dislike of it, and helps director Mary Harron do exactly what she sets out to do when making the film.

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August 25, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Comedy, Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

The Red Badge of Courage (1951)

Starring Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Andy Devine, Robert Easton, Douglas Dick, Tim Durant

Directed by John Huston

Expectations: Moderate. It will be interesting to see how the Civil War is portrayed in a 1950s film.


Here’s another review I did for my History class, in slightly edited form.

John Huston’s The Red Badge of Courage is not your typical war film. It’s more detached from the battles than standard entries into the genre, choosing to focus on the emotional makeup of one company of soldiers, and specifically the youth Henry Fleming (played by Audie Murphy). Murphy was a highly decorated soldier during World War II so he was no stranger to the nature of war. He plays the role of the scared, worried Army private very well, communicating the fear that any young man must face in the heat of battle.

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August 18, 2010 Posted by | 1950s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 Stars, War | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Jasper reviews: Combat Shock (1986)

Combat Shock (1986)

Starring Rick Giovinazzo, Veronica Stork, Mitch Maglio, Asaph Livni, Nick Nasta, Michael Tierno, Leo Lunney

Directed By Buddy Giovinazzo


Wow. Now this is just some dismal shit. I have just made it through Buddy Giovinazzo’s low budget gritfest, Combat Shock and I feel very fortunate that I am not on Prozac or prone to manic bouts of depression. The results could be devastating. Pound for pound you will be hard pressed to find a film more unflinchingly brutal and uncompromising in its depiction of a troubled mind teetering precariously on the brink of madness than you will here. If you thought your life was bad, just wait until you walk a mile in the shoes of Frankie Dunlan. This poor man has more shit on his plate than a tapeworm-infected bulimic at Hometown Buffet.

The obvious inspiration here is Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. The film doesn’t even pretend to disguise this fact. Certain situations and even wardrobe choices are lifted directly from that film. But after one viewing of this film Travis Bickle himself would have had an epiphany and realized he didn’t have it so bad. He probably would have turned himself right around and started a flower garden while huddling down with some chamomile tea and season 1 of Dora the Explorer. Not to downplay Taxi Driver, it’s one of my all-time favorite films. But if I had seen Combat Shock at the same time as Scorsese’s film there is no question which one would have had the greater lasting impact.

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August 9, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini-Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo [Män som hatar kvinnor] (2009)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Peter Haber, Sven-Bertil Taube, Henrik Vanger, Peter Andersson, Ingvar Hirdwall, Marika Lagercrantz, Björn Granath

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Expectations: High. I’d heard nothing but heaps of gushing praise.


Is this the most overrated movie of 2009? No, it’s not quite at Avatar level here, but it is pretty thick. I didn’t hate this movie, it’s just that I honestly didn’t see a lot to get particularly excited about. Despite its interesting story, the film is a painful two and a half hour slog through rape, revenge and murder. It’s definitely well shot and well acted, but it just takes so damn long to get anywhere that any suspense or tension is gone long before it has any real chance at an impact. There’s a fairly graphic rape scene that serves next to no purpose other than to set up a vice versa revenge rape a few minutes later. So there’s about thirty minutes of runtime devoted solely to setting up the fact that our main character is a girl that doesn’t take any shit. I LOVE revenge movies, they are my total bread and butter, but these scenes were just glorified torture porn. Director Oplev could have learned a lot from Taken. Liam Neeson is set up as a complete and absolute badass in one scene, and if memory serves, its done and over in less than five minutes.

I realize this makes me sound like a dude with attention deficit disorder that’s just itching for something to explode, but that’s simply not the case. Great, slow-burn movies are some of the best the cinema has to offer. In order for them to work though, you have to be connected to the characters you are traveling with, and herein lies another flaw of the film. I don’t care about anyone in this movie. The title character is essentially just supporting Michael Nyqvist in her own film, and Nyqvist’s character has got to be a front-runner in the “Most Boring Lead Character of the 2000s” race. This is all quite frustrating, as there are some killer moments peppered throughout the film that just don’t get the chance to shine they deserve. I wouldn’t recommend watching this, but as almost every other review I’ve seen is overwhelmingly positive, I’d say that if you are greatly interested or a fan of the book, you might be better off judging for yourself or trusting someone else’s opinion on this one.

August 6, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Drama, Foreign, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Mystery, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Uncle Jasper reviews: Gallants (2010)

Gallants [打擂台] (2010)

Starring Chen Kwan-Tai, Bruce Leung, Teddy Robin Kwan, Wong Yau-Nam, JJ Jia, M.C. Jin, Susan Shaw Yin-Yin, Lo Meng

Directed By Derek Kwok, Clement Cheng


My interest in Gallants was initially piqued after hearing that it marked the big screen return of Shaw Brothers veterans Chen Kwan-Tai and Lo Meng. Then after learning that ex-Bruce Lee clone, Bruce Leung starred alongside as well, nothing short of a sham-wow could mop up my steady stream of drooling anticipation. It was an instant sell. After finally getting a chance to see it, the novelty of seeing all of my favorite old-school kung fu heroes together again pales in comparison to the fantastic inspiration and brilliant testament to the fighting spirit that this film delivers. I am in love with Hong Kong cinema again and all I want to do is run outside and jump-kick garbage cans for the next three hours.

Equal parts Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Cocoon, Gallants is as inspirational as these films yet manages to remain a loving product of its homeland. Anybody with even a vague interest in the martial arts will be glued to the screen here, and old school Shaw Brothers fans are especially in for a treat. But what Gallants has to say is transcendent of simple setting and surface visuals. Yes this is a film about the martial arts and the perseverance of the fighting spirit. But even more so, this film deals with everything from courage, redemption, dignity in old age, to the convenient and flashy repackaging of honored philosophies in order to make a quick buck. The rewards that can be reaped from this film are virtually endless. You can cram a theater full of viewers into a screening of Gallants and nearly every person could take away something a little different.

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August 5, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Uncle Jasper Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Indian Runner (1991)

The Indian Runner (1991)

Starring Viggo Mortensen, David Morse, Patricia Arquette, Valeria Golino, Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper

Directed by Sean Penn

Expectations: High. I’ve really liked the other films of Penn’s that I’ve seen. How can you not be excited by that cast list too?


I don’t know the exact story of how Sean Penn came to be a director as well as a fantastic actor, but what it boils down to is this, the guy can make a movie. The Indian Runner is his first excursion into work behind the camera, and despite some minor flaws, it is a powerful and emotional film. Sean Penn heard the Bruce Springsteen song, Highway Patrolman (off the excellent acoustic album Nebraska), and was so moved by its story, that he wanted to write an entire film based upon it. The Indian Runner inexplicably does what it sets out to do and successfully translates the song into a film, expanding the narrative yet still remaining true to Springsteen’s two central characters, a pair of very different brothers.

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August 4, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment