Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Japanese film
Length: 1 hour 40 minutes
Rating: Not Rated

This movie is the Japanese version of the Ring. It was made four years before the American version and is actually very different.

What is it about?
Ringu has the same basic storyline as the Ring, but the facts are presented very differently. There is an evil video tape that kills all who watch it in exactly seven days. A reporter named Reiko is doing research on this tape (though she thinks it is just a myth at the time) when her niece dies of what they think is a heart attack. She dies with a look of horror frozen on her face. Reiko soon finds out that a few of her niece's friends died at exactly the same time in exactly the same way - they had all watched the video together in a cabin.

Reiko goes to the cabin, finds the video, and watches it. Soon, disturbing things begin to happen. Reiko then shows the video to her ex-husband Ryuji and asks for help in finding a way to stop the process. In the meantime, Reiko's son, Yoichi, watches the video. Now Reiko must figure out what's going on and how to stop it before she, her ex-husband, and her son all die.

Was it a good movie?
This movie has a great plot line, but it can be a bit confusing at times. For a horror film, it is very advanced since the horror is really based on the storyline instead of on special effects. The score to the movie is absolutely excellent. There is barely any music at all, but when it is used, it's so simple that it makes the scene even more intense.

What differentiates it from the American version? (WARNING: this portion contains partial spoilers!)
Ringu is quite different from the Ring. While the Ring relies heavily on scary graphics, Ringu barely has any graphics at all. In the Ring, the girl is supposed to be pure evil and absolutely contemptible. Conversely, Ringu depicts her as someone the audience should feel sorry for since she was born evil and can't change that. Some of the back story reveals that she even tries to defend her mother from those who treat her badly. Even the musical scores for the movies are different. Ringu's score is extremely minimal, while the Ring has an excellent score that is present during a decent amount of the movie.

If you enjoy a good scare delivered through a good plot line with the occasional shock factor, Ringu is the way to go. If you're scared by excellent graphics and an okay plot line, the Ring is for you. If you're planning on watching both, watch the Ring first because if you watch it second, the plot line is very disappointing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paradise Now

Middle Eastern film
Length: 1 hour 31 minutes
Rating: PG-13

What is it about?
Paradise Now takes place during the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It centers around two childhood friends, Said and Khaled, who are chosen to carry out a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv.

A good portion of the movie is dedicated to showing everything suicide bombers must go through before they are able to carry out their mission. This includes rituals, prayers, and making videotapes of themselves with their reasons for being suicide bombers as well as their last goodbyes to their families and friends.

When the time comes for them to cross the border into Tel Aviv, something goes wrong and Said and Khaled are separated. It is after this separation that their friendship and beliefs are tested, and they must begin to think as individuals instead of as a unit.

Was it a good movie?
This is a great movie, especially because it shows both the aggressive and the passive sides to resisting the Israeli occupation. Said and Khaled both believe they must take an aggressive stance, which is why they believe suicide bombings are the right thing to do. Suha, the woman who falls in love with Said, believes in resisting the occupation peacefully, and thinks that more violence will only tighten the already unbelievably rigid lifestyle they've been forced into living.

Paradise Now develops the main characters extremely well in a short period of time. Character development is usually the easiest place for a movie to slip up, but it is actually this movie's strength.

Can you explain some of the symbolism? (WARNING: this portion contains some spoilers!)
There isn't much symbolism in Paradise Now, it's very straightforward for the most part. However, the symbolism that does exist in the movie is easy to interpret and only adds to the storyline. None of these symbols are vital to understanding the characters or the plot.

The biggest and most important symbol is in what is commonly referred to as the "last supper scene". It is the last dinner Said and Khaled will eat before their suicide mission; sitting together with their fellow conspirators, it is set up just like the Biblical last supper. Some say that Said and Khaled are both in the middle so that neither of them can represent anybody from the actual last supper painting. Personally, I think Said is in the middle, making him the "savior" figure, and Khaled is on his left, making him a "Judas" figure. This would mean that, since Said ends up going through with the suicide bombing, he will be viewed as a savior by those who take an aggressive stance. Since Khaled has come to a revelation that peace is the more persuasive approach, he backs out, making him a betrayer to Said, and therefore he would be considered evil.