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At the beginning of this blog I talked about all the different kinds of writings by the Quotable Poet Aberjhani except for his critical reviews of things like books, cds, and movies. They’re important though because they contain some of his strongest commentaries on popular culture. You can find a lot of his film reviews on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Amazon, popular foreign film websites, blog-sites and some of everywhere else on the Internet. The large number is surprising because you just wouldn’t think a book author would be that free with the kind of work other professional writers only put out there for a paycheck. But he’s also a “Vine Reviewer” and once his reviews hit the net they wind up all over it.

I personally like most of them a lot because they mix hip hop cool with the same quality of intellectual polish and observation you find in his books, the Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance and The American Poet Who Went Home Again. Most reviewers give you some valid gut-level reactions to a movie and that’s alright, but the Quotable Poet combines dashes of current events with history and his own personal poetry-man passion to deliver some great feedback that makes good creative entertainment itself. Best of all, he gives the world his mind-bending take on some of the best actors and directors in film today. In his review of the movie Candy in 2007, he said Heath Ledger was bound to win an Oscar one day but there’s no way he could have guessed it would be awarded posthumously.

“When it comes to movies (or sometimes even real life for that matter) many of us prefer to think of love in comic terms that make us laugh at the feel-good goofiness of a new romance. Or we may enjoy thinking of it as something heroic that enters our lives and rescues us from social obscurity or emotional banality. In AMORES PERROS, which translates into the English title ‘Love Is a Bitch,’ director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga Jordan explore with bold confidence and gruesome style the darker not-so-pretty sides of “this thing called love.”

–from Amores Perros: The Not So Pretty Side of Love

The French fondness for absurdity and philosophical conundrums is on fine comic display in the film Angel-A, written and directed by veteran movie maker Luc Besson. The leading role of Andre was tailor-crafted for actor Jamel Debbouze, who nails it dead spot on and never fails to wring affecting humor, compassion, and wonder out of every line and gesture… Rie Rasmussen–a student of directing as well as an actor and writer–is a dazzling marvel in her portrayal of the title character. She and Debbouze, aided by Besson’s fantastic script, share an on-screen chemistry that grows more incandescent with every scene. The city of Paris itself also gives an amazing kind of performance as the flawless setting for this modern metaphysical fable. That the film was shot in black and white adds immensely to its poetic enchantments and irresistible romantic appeal.”
–from The Irresistible Romantic Appeal of Angel-A

“Anyone who caught Forest Whitaker as jazz great Charlie Parker in the Clint Eastwood directed ‘Bird’ (1988) may easily have found themselves thinking, ‘Wow, an actor with that kind of genius is bound to win an Oscar one day!’ But who could have guessed that it might be for Whitaker’s titanic portrayal of the former Ugandan President Idi Amin in the riveting film THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND?… [The movie] swings brilliantly back and forth between shocking absurdity and outright tragedy. It’s easy enough to see toward the film’s beginning that Amin is a leader with true love for his people. Yet it becomes equally apparent as the film progresses that his private terrors and political wrath are at least as monumental as any love he holds. To blend such a range of psychological extremes with credibility that evokes both outrage and even, at times, empathy, is not a feat that many actors could have pulled off, but lo and behold: Mr. Whitaker did…”

–from Film of Shocking Absurdity and Profound Pathos

“Considering that Daniel Craig’s name is now synonymous with that of the iconic James Bond’s, it’s obvious that Flashbacks of a Fool is not a film he had to make. The fact that he did choose to make such an emotionally raw and nostalgically sensitive movie implies he felt it had something significant to communicate to the world: about the dangers of allowing oneself to become too blinded by heedless passion; or, about possibilities for redemption when no such possibilities seem to exist. Watching the story unfold from first scene to last, you get the feeling he was right.”

–from Lust and Redemption in Flashbacks of A Fool

“Fascinating history does not always make exciting compelling film but in the case of ‘Blood Diamond’ it does. This is good news in the sense that the movie delivers big time on all levels: fantastic action, intense emotional drama, and provocative political excitement. It is bad news in the sense that viewers can become so caught up in the sheer entertainment qualities of this amazing movie that we forget the brutal truth behind the story. That the people of Sierra Leone throughout the 1990s were enslaved, raped, mutilated, and driven out of their homeland all for the sake of placing diamonds on the hands of the rich and to finance military chaos in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world is something we should never forget. Having noted that particular point, it’s impossible to deny that both Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou fully earned and deserved their respective Oscar nominations for ‘Blood Diamond.’”
–from Extraordinary Movie Magic on Every Level

“International actors working in Hollywood can often charm and persuade us when featured in big-budget blockbuster films. But in movies that showcase their best qualities in their native tongues––or accents––with scripts closer to wherever they call home, they sometimes shine and dazzle in ways that astound us. That seems to be the case with Colin Farrell as the emotionally wired Irish hit-man Ray in director Martin McDonagh’s dark and twisted comedy, In Bruges.”

–from Dark Comedy “In Bruges” Makes Good Use of Farrell’s Irish Brogue Chops

With due respect to the Indies, we have to give Hollywood its golden props.

With due respect to the Indies, we have to give Hollywood its golden props.

“It takes a masterful touch to achieve in a film gripping unsympathetic realism and inspiring poetic surrealism but that’s exactly what director Gavin Hood does in TSOTSI. As we watch the title character (performed with amazing complexity by Presley Chweneyagae) and his friends head out for an evening of juvenile mayhem at this movie’s beginning, we understand immediately the brutal hardcore conditions that rule their lives and possibly drive them to commit the horrors they do… Tsotsi is based on the 1980 novel by Athol Fugard, the South African author most noted for such plays as ‘Blood Knot’ and ‘Master Harold…and the Boys,’ which scrutinize the dehumanizing impact of apartheid segregation. Director Gavin Hood moves the book’s storyline up to modern times and gives his audience a cinematic interpretation filled with the energetic hip hop music known as ‘kwaito’ and the vibrant colors of South African urban life. The end result is a work of hardcore realism and poetic grace that serves as a compelling portrait not only of the extreme challenges facing many in South Africa’s cities but of those facing people in many urban environments throughout the world in 2008.”
–from Hardcore Realism and Poetic Grace Make TSOTSI a Cinematic Masterpiece

“Just when any number of critics had started to proclaim the end of Woody Allen’s career as a filmmaker of any real consequence, Vicky Cristina Barcelona shows him right at the top of his ingenious game with some very strong hints of more great work to come.”

–from Three Reasons to Celebrate Woody Allen: Vicky Cristina Barcelona,

“Are there any who fall, when they fall, quite so hard as angels do? Going by the scenario in Australian director Shane Abbess’ extraordinary noir metaphysical drama, GABRIEL, the answer would have to be a loud ‘No!’ As they battle in human form for control over the middle earth region of Purgatory, where human souls dwell in limbo before descending to hell or ascending to heaven, these angels use the f-word in more ways than one, revel in rebellion and debauchery by the ton, and fire blazing automatics with more deadly intent than a. S.W.A.T. team or gang bangers looped on crack.”

–from Astounding Angels of the Wingless Kind

“As sisters Margot and Pauline, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh are perfectly paired in the family psychodrama MARGOT AT THE WEDDING. Directed and written by Noah Baumbach, the film is both darkly comic and brilliantly tragic with crossing threads of intimacy and estrangement, secrecy and revelations, and then, ultimately, love and evil… As profoundly dramatic as Margot at the Wedding can get, it is also at times extremely funny, such as when Claude convinces Margot to climb the tall tree she once did as a child. She manages to climb up easily enough but getting back down proves a greater challenge. While stuck up in the tree, a bug flies into her ear. As far as viewers can tell, it stays there throughout the rest of the movie, understandably driving Margot just a little bit crazy.”

–from Kidman and Leigh Turn up the Passive Aggressive Heat in “Margot at the Wedding”

“Both as a book and as a film, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is largely about the perspectives that we choose to apply to our lives. Though he suffered one of the worse fates imaginable, [Jean Dominique] Bauby chose to believe his life was still a meaningful one and worked to produce a celebrated book that was published just 10 days before he died. Julian Schnabel’s film is a work of cinematic poetry that honors both the man and the work through the very means that Bauby employed to live his final days: penetrating intelligence, inspired compassion, and luminous imagination.”
from An Inspired Wonder Called “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly”

All quotes from reviews by Aberjhani