458 - Ikiru - 3 stars
A word of warning to film fans out there. Try not to read too much about a film before viewing as it could seriously impact your enjoyment.
This was the mini review in the Empire 500 list:
A dying man tries to get a playground built, and Akira Kurosawa demonstrates his range by segueing from acidic dissection of Japanese office workaholism to understated, uplifting tragedy. If you don't cry at the end, you need a new heart.
Issue number one. From reading this description I assumed that this was the main plot of the movie but this does not kick in until two thirds of the way in, after he goes through one of those 'trying to enjoy life' phases of drinking, partying and romancing of younger ladies. So he decides to turn an abandoned cesspit into a playground and suddenly we cut to his wake! WTF? I thought that this was the end of the film and felt totally jipped.
However it turns out that we get to see his struggle to get the playground built through flashbacks as his fellow employees remember him, culminating in his death on the swings in the completed park. I think my enjoyment wouldn't have been spoiled if I hadn't been continually waiting for the playground aspect to appear.
My second problem is that I didn't cry at the end, therefore apparently I need a new heart. Who am I? The Tin Man from the freaking Wizard of Oz?
425 - Wonder Boys - 4 stars
One of the most underrated films of the last decade, if only for the fact that hardly anyone saw it on its original release!
Curtis Hanson is like Danny Boyle in that as a director he refuses to become pigeonholed into one particular genre, instead producing films as diverse as this, L.A. Confidential, In Her Shoes and 8 Mile.
Here he directs an excellent cast in this tale of a burnt out English tutor having the weekend from hell as his wife leaves him, his mistress tells him she's pregnant, one of his pupils is acting rather oddly and topped off by his editor wanting to see his unfinished second book!
Michael Douglas's finest performance since Wall Street and the character of Grady Tripp is Douglas's The Dude, if nothing else for the fact he smokes a lot of pot and wears a dressing gown!
This film is probably unique in the fact that this is the only film in which you will see Iron Man and Spider-Man in the same bed together, as Robert Downey Jr's editor seduces the young impressionable student played by Tobey Maguire!
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