Rumble In The Bronx - Movie Review

Rumble In The Bronx
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I realize that my review for the recent film Black Swan is filled with big words and strange ideas. Now I'll level with you, I'm a simple man. Big words scare me. I'm not really sure where that came from. I can't even pronounce most of those words correctly on any given day, and when I do I'm probably mistaking that word for one that better describes the cheap bean and cheese burrito I just bought. So today I decided to review a film that really requires no words, a film in fact, that was probably written without any words whatsoever. This film, my friends, is the 1995 masterpiece Rumble In The Bronx starring Jackie Chan.

In this tour de force emotional roller coaster of a picture, Jackie Chan abandons his career as a police officer in Hong Kong to attend his uncle's marriage to a large black woman, leaving Jackie in charge of his store while the two leave for their honeymoon. If only Jackie Chan knew that a street gang has hidden stolen diamonds in the wheelchair cushion of a disabled boy living in the same neighborhood.

I cannot even attempt to understand the brilliant minds that went into crafting this story, which I should also add involves Jackie Chan at one point stealing a Delorean, fastening a large sword out of its door, and then proceeding to charge towards a massive hovercraft in the middle of the city. How someone comes up with this I'll never know. I'm like an ant hanging onto the rope of the Goodyear blimp.

Although the film was clearly made in the 1990's, after the technological breakthroughs seen in films such as Jurassic Park, stylistically Rumble In The Bronx appears to be a pure product of the 80's due to the colorful costuming, obviously dubbed voices, and unfortunate haircuts. In terms of the script the dialogue is crafted beautifully, especially in regards to the disabled boy who, after being thrown from his wheelchair by a group of gangsters, repeatedly whines "MY CUSHION!" despite all other concerns that a rational person in that situation would otherwise be preoccupied with.

Of course, Rumble In The Bronx is all about action. If you came to see Jackie Chan jump out of a truck filled with multicolored balls just in time for the truck to be pushed off of a building and send balls scattering through the streets, then you, my friend, know exactly what you came to see. In fact, you were very specific.

All in all, Rumble In The Bronx is one of the most satisfying viewing experiences I have ever had the pleasure to share with my friends. If you've never seen it, then I think you need to take a stroll through this majestic piece of history.


Black Swan - Movie Review

Black Swan
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I consider it rare to witness a film so fully consumed by its own sense of raw dissonance, but Black Swan certainly hits the target. The iconic and soothing music by Tchaikovsky clashes violently with the fragmented and tortured soul of a ballerina who in turn projects her own strained psyche against her seemingly pristine environment. It could be argued that she is simply a victim of her surroundings, responding to a career centered fully on perfection yet demanding of spontaneity, playing part in a family relationship that demands intimacy yet in that demand negates its own value. This is someone who is drawn to revolt against what she has become, and it's not an easy process to go through.

The film focuses on Nina, a promising ballerina who takes aim for the central role of Swan Lake. Technically perfect in her technique, she only lacks that certain something that can only be attained by lifetime experiences. At home she is comforted by her mother, who dresses her wounds and tucks her in at night. It's a relationship that is taken so correctly to the point that it becomes terribly wrong. Behind stage she is haunted by another dancer, Lily, who, while lacking what Nina has in her technique, makes up for in spades with her strong personality. Let's also not forget the setting, New York City, which here is captured only in the sparse area on the edge of the tightly composed frames.

Nina is played by Natalie Portman, and I assume little more needs to be said for her performance. This character becomes very much a real person, with something very complicated and troubling lurking just beneath the surface. Her descent is a gradual, yet thoroughly convincing one. Let's also not forget that this film is also directed by Darren Aronofsky, who here somehow manages to combine all that he has learned from Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and The Wrestler into one film. You can probably guess that the ending isn't altogether happy, but there is something else there too.

The film is composed masterfully. Just listen to the sound design, or take notice of some of this editing. Special effects tend to have their problems, but here they seem to sneak their way into the one corner where you least expect it, be it in a painting or something as simple as goosebumps. Of course I did have to ask myself just how many times Natalie Portman needed to unexpectedly turn around in the mirror before it became scary again, but that's a bit of a lame point in the big picture. The whole film is designed for that single pang of anxiety to grow into a throttling hurricane. When it's over, you won't quite find it left without leaving that heavy feeling in your chest. That's just part of why it's so good, and part of why it's so good when it's over.

This One's For You

Merry Christmas!


So Very Busy

I don't like being a busy person. It cuts in on the quality time I would otherwise spend playing Halo or watching strange Japanese commercials on youtube, such as this one below:

I completely understand this.

This week has been a surprisingly busy one. Yesterday Beth had a doctors appointment scheduled at the same time as my job interview so we had to deal with the delicate task of attending both at the same time with only one poorly working car and one cell phone. What I realized too late however was that I had no idea how to get to the office I was interviewing at. Luckily for me, there's my old friend Google, which as it turns out is also my arch nemesis.

I left Beth at her appointment along with our cell phone in case there was some sort of terrible mishap like an exploding x-ray machine. I wasn't sure who she would call if that were the case, but I figured it would probably be for the best. After I went off on my own I was slightly confused as to why the building I had an interview at was located in a back alley behind a hospital and was also completely abandoned. Considering that I did hear about the job off of craigslist, I didn't think much of it at first, but at some point I had to wise up to the fact that Google had done me wrong.

I returned to the doctors office to take back my phone, but then realized that I never saved the phone number of my interviewer. Thinking logically (which is unusual for me) I decided that this problem could be solved simply by calling every phone number on my recently called list.

Confident with this plan, I began calling.

There was a strange, almost surreal moment when I realized that I heard a nearby phone ring at the same time I began calling. Although it didn't click with me immediately, I realized I had made a terrible mistake when the receptionist picked up her receiver and I heard both in person and over the speaker of my own phone her ask, "How may I direct your call?"

"Ahhhhhhh, sorry," I tried to quietly mumble before I quickly hung up.

I sat quietly for a moment while Beth gave me a confused look, and the receptionist, equally confused, set down her receiver and returned to work.

I decided then that I should probably leave.

I did manage to find the office, promptly twenty minutes after my initial interview time, but felt satisfied with the results. Multitasking isn't easy, but it can be done. Just as long as you're willing to completely embarrass yourself.