X-Men Origins: Wolverine

While a bit weak at times, I am still a fan of X-men and liked this movie about the origin of Wolverine.

Having liked all the previous X-Men movies, we saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine in the theater.

While parts of the movie were good, like Wolverine’s childhood and some of his history with Sabretooth and William Stryker, there were some weak points as well. For example, why did Wolverine and Sabretooth fight for the US in the two world wars when they were originally from Canada and Canada got into both wars much earlier. Also, it seemed to me that there were some small inconsistencies with earlier X-Men movies.

The ending was a little weak too. Since this was a prequel/origins movie, that ending should have been known in the other X-Men movies.

Still I am a fan and it was worth 7/10.

Pan’s Labyrinth

A great movie in the Spanish language.

El laberinto del fauno or Pan’s Labyrinth is a Spanish movie set in the fascist Spain of 1944.

The movie follows a little girl whose mother marries an army officer. The girl finds escape from the dreary real world in a fantasy world. The fantasy is very well done as it interacts with events in the real world.

It’s an absolutely amazing movie. I loved it and would rate it 9/10.

Reservoir Dogs

This is Quentin Tarantino’s first movie. If you are a Tarantino fan, definitely watch it.

Reservoir Dogs is the first movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. I am a fan of Tarantino and so of course I had to watch it.

As is usual with Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs doesn’t work in a straight timeline, moving back and forth in time. It is about a heist that has gone horribly wrong and most of the movie takes place in a warehouse which the rendezvous point after the robbery.

I believe Amber didn’t like the movie. I have to say this is no Pulp Fiction but it is good and I rate it 8/10.

Taken

We enjoyed this movie in which Liam Neeson kicks ass.

We were skeptical about liking Taken. In fact, I was worried that Amber would get very sentimental about any harm coming to the kidnapped daughter. Sometimes being a parent makes us emotionally unstable, hahaha!

What we got was some nice action and a fun movie overall. I rate it 7/10.

Slumdog Millionaire

It seems everyone loved Slumdog Millionaire except me.

It seems everyone loved Slumdog Millionaire except me.

The movie started out well and when the main characters are children, it was a good movie. Seeing Mumbai and the slums there was captivating in a way. However, this was no City of God.

Then everyone grows up and the plot becomes Bollywood-predictable. I lost interest in the movie then, though the friends we were watching it with were engrossed.

Also, Anil Kapoor didn’t do a good job playing the host of Who’ll become a millionaire. May be they should have tried Amitabh Bachan who hosted it on Indian TV.

I rate the movie 6/10.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

It’s a movie based on F.Scott Fitzgerald’s story of the same title of a man who ages backward. I liked it.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a movie about a man who ages backwards. It is based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It’s a good movie which I had fun watching. I rate it 8/10.

Chokher Bali

Chokher Bali is based on a novel by Tagore. That’s why I decided to watch it, but it bored me.

Chokher Bali is a Bollywood movie based on the novel with the same title by Rabindranath Tagore. So when Amber asked about the movie, I thought great idea.

However, I only watched the first 45 minutes and got bored. Amber, of course, watched the whole movie. I rate it 3/10.

Raging Bull

It is a good movie by Martin Scorsese about the Bronx Bull, boxer Jake LaMotta.

Raging Bull is a biopic, by Martin Scorsese, about boxer Jake LaMotta, played by Robert De Niro.

If you like boxing movies, you’ll like it. Otherwise you can skip it. I rate it 7/10.

The Tale of Despereaux

Michelle and I both loved this movie of a little brave mouse.

We took Michelle to see The Tale of Despereaux with a friend of hers.

Michelle loved the little mouse and so did we. However, her friend seemed a bit scared and left in the middle with her parents. It was great fun, with good graphics.

I rate it 8/10.

Taxi To the Dark Side

It’s a documentary about Dilawar, an Afghan taxi driver, who was tortured and murdered as well as the torture policies of the Bush administration. I provide a lot of links to information about torture.

We saw Taxi to the Dark Side quite some time ago.

It’s a great documentary about the torture that the US government engaged in when George W Bush was President. The main focus of the documentary is a young Afghan taxi driver, Dilawar, who was stopped at a checkpoint in Afghanistan and then jailed at Bagram by the US military. There he was interrogated and tortured. And finally murdered by US military and intelligence personnel.

The movie also goes into the torture policies of the Bush administration and how they were applied in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan and various other black sites around the world.

The torture stories are hair raising and it has been clear for some time that the the use of torture was a deliberate policy approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration. However, I felt it difficult to say much about the documentary other than ranting against the war crimes and inhumanity of the previous administration. Thus this review lingered in draft status for a while. After all, what more could I write since I have written multiple times about torture during the past six years.

However, there have been some recent developments since Barack Obama became President. He has released a number of Justice Department memos related to the torture policy which you can read at the ACLU site. All memos are worth reading but if you must read just one excerpt, as Glenn Greenwald says, it should be this one from the May 10, 2005 memo by Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA:

State Department Reports. Each year, in the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the United States condemns coercive interrogation techniques and other practices employed by other countries. Certain of the techniques the United States has condemned appear to bear some resemblance to some of the CIA interrogation techniques. In their discussion of Indonesia, for example, the reports lists as “[p]sychological torture” conduct that involves “food and sleep deprivation,” but give no specific information as to what these techniques involve. In their discussion of Egypt, the reports list as “methods of torture” “stripping and blindfolding victims; suspending victims from a ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beating victims [with various objects]; … and dousing vitims with cold water.” See also, e.g., Algeria (describing the “chiffon” method, which involves “placing a rag drenched in dirty water in someone’s mouth”); Iran (counting sleep deprivation as either torture or severe prisoner abuse); Syria (discussing sleep deprivation and “having cold water thrown on” detainees as either torture or “ill-treatment). The State Department’s inclusion of nudity, water dousing, sleep deprivation, and food deprivation among the conduct it condemns is significant and provides some indication of an executive foreign relations tradition condemning the use of these techniques.

[…]

A United States foreign relations tradition of condemning torture, the indiscriminate use of force, the use of force against the government’s political opponents, or the use of force to obtain confessions in ordinary criminal cases says little about the propriety of the CIA’s interrogation practices. The CIA’s careful screening procedures are designed to ensure that enhanced techniques are used in the relatively few interrogations of terrorists who are believed to possess vital, actionable intelligence that might avert an attack against the United States or its interests. The CIA uses enhanced techniques only to the extent reasonably believed necessary to obtain information and takes great care to avoid inflicting severe pain or suffering or any lasting or unnecesary harm. In short, the CA program is designed to subject detainees to no more duress than is justified by the Government’s interest in protecting the United States from further terrorist attacks. In these essential respects, it differs from the conduct condemned in the State Department reports.

In other words, it’s not torture when we do the same things that we condemn as torture when done by others.

There was also an International Committee of the Red Cross Report on torture that came out recently, some excerpts of which are given here and some analysis is here.

If you are interested in my blog posts on torture, here they are:

  1. Torture
  2. Torture Again
  3. Torture, Emperor and Forgetfulness
  4. Do They Look Like Me?
  5. Legal Torture
  6. Reaction to Criticism
  7. Pro-Torture Senators or the Nazgul?
  8. Empire and Torture
  9. War Crimes and Military Justice
  10. Rendition
  11. Rendition and Torture
  12. Torture and Public Opinion

In addition, I have been collecting links to stories, memos and reports about torture (and other topics) in my Browsing list, recent entries of which are shown on the sidebar on the main page. Let’s collect those links (that are not dead) here as well.

Oh I forgot to rate the documentary. It’s a must-see, so 10/10.