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Terminal Bar (2003)
Terminal Bar: Cinematic Genius
I can't say enough about this fantastic and brilliant film and series. The original Terminal Bar film and the subsequent sequel films are some of the best examples of filmmaking I've ever seen.
The premise is simple, former bartender and manager of the infamous New York City Terminal Bar Sheldon Nadelman tellls stories about his collection of photographs he took of the denizens and derelict customers from his decade long stay at the Terminal Bar. Nadelman tells of how the Terminal Bar began as a primarily Irish American bar and later transformed into the toughest bar in New York.
Nadelman's son Stefan Nadelman directs and animates the photographs, telling the story of this long gone speakeasy with narration, pictures and pitch perfect music.
A book adaptation was later made of Nadelman's photographs. I'd love to see a feature length documentary of the film series with new material. The Terminal Bar was famously captured in a scene in the Martin Scorsese classic film Taxi Driver.
Terminal Bar is a film that's one for the ages.
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Now We're Feeling Zombiefied or: Shaun of the Dead Meets High School Musical!
Anna and the Apocalypse is a breezy take on the zombie genre mixed with musical comedy. It's Shaun of the Dead meets High School Musical.
The supremely hot and talented Ella Hunt plays Anna, a Scottish school lass who faces a bloody zombie apocalypse whilst singing and dancing her shapely ass off.
The songs are generally catchy and memorable. The one weak point being the villain character of Savage, the slavish schoolmaster, his part and musical number could have been better. Plus some of the zombie fighting could have been kicked up a notch and been a little more violent and hardcore.
The film gets credit for literally not having a Hollywood happy ending when nice guy best friend characters meet a gruesome end while alpha male a-hole characters live to fight another day and another zombie. In movies like this you expect the bullying alpha male jackass that's literally bullying and being a proverbial prick to everyone to be the first one to die horribly in a zombie apocalypse. Hell, no! It's the nice, sensitive, best friend guy who gets gutted like a pig by the zombie hordes! I love that! Why? It's reality! A small but powerful point in an otherwise comedic film.
One quibble with one climactic scene. The characters are surrounded by zombies and seemingly doomed. Except there's clearly not enough zombies surrounding them, the characters could have easily escaped, you see a fence behind them with just a few zombies that they could easily outrun. Perhaps adding some more CGI zombies in those shots would have helped.
Still, all in all, a fairly kickaxe, kooky and cool Christmas film meets the zombie apocalypse meets Broadway musicals, with a hot girl in the lead who will never be your girlfriend if you're a nice guy, since it's the alpha male bully arsehole she really secretly digs and has already had sex with. Kudos to the filmmakers for showing a bit of real world honesty in this U.K. zombie musical spaltterfest! Dig it!
The Greatest Showman (2017)
The Greatest Showman: One of the Year's Greatest Films!
I remember seeing the trailer for this film around Christmastime and while I dug some of the actors I wasn't that impressed with it. A movie musical about the life of circus impresario P. T. Barnum?
Cut to the aftermath of this film's opening weekend. It was written off as a box office bomb. Then slowly audiences made it a worldwide sleeper hit. Finally I saw it at a matinee and found it doesn't just grab you by the opening scene, it grabs you by the opening credits. The first of ten incredible songs takes you on this whirlwind musical journey that doesn't stop. Plus it's literally a highly colorful film that lights up the screen.
Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum is perfectly cast a romanticized version of the flawed, controversial showman. This film was a true labor of love for Jackman, taking him over seven years to get it to the big screen. And much like the critics in Barnum's day, the stuffed shirt critics didn't get or like this film. One critics's review I read actually complained about the treatment of the animals in the film! When any astute viewer could tell all the animals were CGI! Another described the newspaper critic character in the film played by Paul Sparks as a weaselly little move by the screenwriters, guess that character hit too close to home for that douchebag extraordinaire critic! Those who can't do teach, those who can't teach, review.
Hugh Jackman and Zack Efron have incredible chemistry in this film and the rest of the supporting cast including Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Keala Settle and Sam Humphrey all give fantastic performances. Though I would have liked have heard actor Sam Humphrey's real voice in the film and not dubbing they used.
Musicals are all about the music and that's the catalyst that makes this great, albeit imperfect, movie musical great. That and great direction by first timer Michael Gracey.
Here's one movie musical headed for its own Broadway show.
The Dark Tower (2017)
The Dark Tower: Sixguns & Sorcery!
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
With those words novelist Stephen King began his epic Dark Tower book series.
After seeing a matinée of the first big screen film adaptation of The Dark Tower I'd say Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey were fine in their opposing roles, yet one could also say this is the Cliff's Notes version of Stephen King's book series.
Idris Elba has some memorable moments as Roland the Gunslinger on the warpath to stop McConaughey's Man in Black sorcerer from toppling the Dark Tower which binds the universe together.
Watchable yet not nearly the epic tale the novels were.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Killa Thrilla Kong!
Caught a righteous screening of Kong: Skull Island at the local IMAX theater and it's what you'd expect, a rock 'em, sock 'em monster movie!
It stars a great cast, the indomitable John Goodman, Mister Senor Love Daddy Samuel L. Jackson, the great John C. Reilly, the super cool Tom Hiddleston, the dynamic Brie Larson and her amazing gravity defying breasts and Toby Kebbell as the CGI actor of King Kong himself, yet some may be wicked bummed Andy Serkis didn't return to reprise the role of Kong from the 2005 Peter Jackson film.
This cast of motley characters is sent to investigate the mysterious Skull Island, home to the legendary simian giant King Kong, and they end up bruised, battered and bloody and getting mucho more than they bargained for on the monster filled isle.
Some may say this sequel pales in comparison to the 1930s original King Kong or the 2005 Jackson remake, yet this film's just for kicks and it delivers the goods with a healthy side badassery and a killer stinger scene that promises many more kooky and cool Kong sequels to come.
The Nice Guys (2016)
Los Nice Guys!
The Nice Guys turns out to a worthy successor to writer-director Shane Black's cult film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
A neo-noir thriller and buddy action comedy set in the gloriously tacky 1970s, The Nice Guys stars Russell Crowe as a badass for hire and Ryan Gosling as a clueless yet capable, effete yet effective private dick on the hunt for a missing big tittied seventies porn star with help from Angourie Rice as Gosling's teenage sleuth daughter.
While not every scene is cinematic gold, the film more than makes up for it with double loaded barrels of action, laughs and a literally glass shattering climactic finale set in a Hollywood high-rise hotel.
Anomalisa: A Mona Lisa
Caught this film at a last minute matinée at ArcLight Hollywood. It's a stop motion animated film about a British author, voiced by David Thewlis, coming to Cincinnati for one night for a conference and his time spent in a first class hotel.
At the beginning I was impatient with it, I thought it might be just a stop motion South Park episode, where all the voices are pretty much the same. Then when the character of Lisa came on the screen, it all changed for me. I got it, it clicked.
The film is so disarmingly simple in its beauty and elegance. The relationship between the two main characters really touches you. Plus I'd never thought I'd be moved by the singing of a particular well known 1980s pop song in the film.
The role of Lisa was a diamond in the rough character, a beautiful, flawed girl whose been wrongly ignored romantically and it just takes the right person to see how fantastic she really is. It made me think of the times I wished I'd had a Lisa in my life and the times I was fortunate enough to have one. Lisa was voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh in a performance that fooled me, I was so drawn into the character I had no idea it was her, I only saw Lisa as Lisa.
While not a perfect film, it won me over and works on many levels, the filmmakers, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, leave it largely up for the viewer to decide what the film is about. Is the lead character insane? Is he in Limbo, his own private Hell, is everyone a robot, wearing masks literally? Does he see oil painting beauty in someone one day and the next sees only cracks and flaws? Who can say?
One thing though, voice actor Tom Noonan, albeit talented, should never sing again, ever. Never again, Dollarhyde, never again.
Anomalisa, or as I call it, A Mona Lisa, is the same as the iconic painting that is its namesake, kind of a thing of flawed beauty.
Steve Jobs (2015)
Steve Jobs: A Mad Saint
Saw the Steve Jobs film for the second time. Under Ridley Scott's direction, Aaron Sorkin's screenplay and Michael Fassbender's portrayal as Apple founder Steve Jobs, you really get a feel for the man and his genius, his cruelty and his madness.
The film takes place over the course of three new computer presentations years apart with flashbacks to Jobs career and early life. The final scene is almost painfully beautiful with a perfect song by The Maccabees used on the soundtrack. You get the feeling the world really lost someone special when Jobs died so young. Jobs changed the world. The film leaves you with a sense of wonder, what would it have been like to be someone like Steve Jobs? A self-made billionaire who grew up a loner with few friends.
I read that Jobs repaired old cars as a hobby and worked as a repo man in his youth and that the gig suited his personality. That's one scene missing from this bio pic I'd have love to seen. That and what Jobs thoughts were on the working conditions in Apple factories in foreign countries where they had to install suicide nets to save the workers from jumping to their deaths. Or his friendship and rivalry will Microsoft's Bill Gates.
Good night, dark prince.
Push It To The Floor Till The Engine Screams
Amazing, stylistic, supremely gory, animalistic, blood soaked, violent, with a killer look, score and soundtrack reminiscent of Michael Mann's Thief, only better.
Gosling's brooding loner Driver has nearly no dialogue, a quality I dig in a character, and yet says everything with just his face, his violence and his stone cold cool scorpion jacket, as he gets himself in high stakes trouble with organized crime in neon lit Los Angeles.
A kickass script, master direction by Nicolas Winding Refn, and a fantastic supporting cast with the mega buxom and super sexy Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan and comedian Albert Brooks cast against type as a bloodthirsty gangster.
One of the best thrillers of the new millennium bar nada.
Furious Seven (2015)
Fast Furious 7
Sometimes I feel compelled to follow the crowd and see the films everyone else is going to see. Which is how I ended up at a matinée of Furious 7.
Pretty much what I expected, slick, loud and proud filmmaking with by the numbers storytelling, save for a few scenes, my fave being Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hoss' character's insane in the membrane scenes with a minigun trying to takedown a helicopter that's the second coming of Blue Thunder.
The paint-by-numbers plot concerns badass Jason Statham as Deckard Shaw, seeking revenge against badass Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto, for the near death of his brother.
Mostly it was an exercise in how the filmmakers used semi-believable CGI to have the late Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner seem like he was a lead character in the film, with a rather touching tribute to him in the finale.
One change at the end that might have worked better, rather than an on screen "For Paul" title, show a closeup of Brian's or Dominic's cars with a vanity license plate with seven letters that says, FORPAUL, and then have the car(s) cruise off into the sunset, fast and furious.
Thriller - en grym film (1973)
Thriller Or: Revenge Of The Ginger Cyclops!
The 1973 violent Swedish revenge film Thriller: A Cruel Picture, also known as They Call Her One Eye, greatly influenced Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill and you can see why even with only one eye.
The film has rather racy full-on penetration sex scenes, which were apparently popular at the time, done by body doubles, they actually work and match well intercut with the real actors performing simulated sex in something other than the usual dull missionary position movie sex scenes.
It's a quiet film with little or no score, set in a Swedish small town with perhaps the world's most ineffective police force and most unobservant neighbors ever, pay no attention to that shotgun killing across the road.
Gaps in logic galore in the story of an innocent young ginger girl left mute by a childhood rape who becomes addicted to heroin by a vicious pimp and enslaved into prostitution before honing her skills in hand-to-hand combat, guns and stunt driving before at long last taking her bloody revenge.
Ridiculous yet one of the better cult films I've seen.
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
O' Fifty Shades!
In the spirit of Saint Valentine's Day, I bought into the hype and went to see the film Fifty Shades of Grey.
As someone once wrote, the ending was less a grand finale than a grand finally. Wooden acting, no full frontal nudity, sex scenes cut short. I can't remember the last time a major studio erotic film was released, and this doesn't bode well for a revival of the genre.
Some scenes worked, including some bondage scenes, yet you never feel fully engaged with the innocent female lead Anastasia or the mysterious young billionaire and S&M enthusiast Christian Grey.
My guess is the book was wall to wall sex, which is what made it readable despite the schlock value and the book's humble origins as Twilight fan fiction, the movie needed more of that, or a better screenplay and director.
The Traveling Executioner (1970)
Fields of Ambrosia
One of the great forgotten cinematic gems of yesteryear! From 1970, a young, whipcord fit, badass Stacy Keach stars as Jonas Candide, a traveling executioner who cruises the American South with his beloved portable electric chair, pulling the switch on murderers and thieves in 1918. Keach is shockingly good as he gets caught up in a scheme to save the life of a beautiful German woman slated for execution.
Keach's trademark facial scar is on full display here, not obscured by a mustache as it would be almost forevermore in later films. It adds something to the role, like a tiny crack in an otherwise perfect human statue. The film also features character actor Bud Cort in an early role.
The opening and finale scenes where Keach delivers Jonas' Fields of Ambrosia monologues are some of the best in 1970s cinema, and Jonas Candide is one of the great characters of Seventies film, he's a drunkard, a womanizer, a liar, a glutton, (the massive meal Candide sits down to eat after an execution has to be seen to be believed, massive plates of biscuits, Canadian bacon and Darwin knows what else) yet beneath it all he has a heart, Jonas, like the film, is darkly funny and darkly lovable.
Fantastically directed by Jack Smight, with a fine score by Jerry Goldsmith, and the seemingly only feature film screenplay credit by forgotten rebel screenwriter Garrie Bateson.
If there ever was a Traveling Time Traveler, a jump back into the wayback machine could correct the travesty of not nominating this film for Oscars for Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture in 1970!
V/H/S Viral (2014)
Why Hate On This Film? Bring On Part 4!
Why are people hating on this movie? They're getting basically what they got in the first film! A series of incoherent found footage films strung together with a premise slimmer than an anorexic's g-string!
It really isn't any better or any worse than the other films in the series. It may be the weakest yet it still has something to offer. You've got one great film, Parallel Monsters, very spooky, very trippy. One pretty good film that slowly grows on you, Bonestorm, which is saying something, since I really hate skateboarders. One highly mediocre film, Dante the Great, that's like something out of a lame SyFy Channel movie yet still watchable, and the wrap around film to tie it altogether, (the not so) Vicious Circles, the weakest of the bunch.
Plus there's a short and incoherent section of what looks like a bunch of Latino gangbangers having a party and one vato flips out and slaughters them all for no apparent reason. Weird. Loco.
And there's a gratuitous helping of cringe inducing gore, i.e. a man being dragged to pieces from a moving truck.
You're never getting a masterpiece of horror from the V/H/S movies, you're getting what's expected. One annoyance is the opening segment uses far too much feedback noise, a little of that goes a long way.
Free your mind and watch it for what it is, something to see and enjoy once and forget it! There's no classics to be found here! Adios, pendejos!
The Interview (2014)
Amusing Yet Ultimately Forgettable Or: Haters Are Just Peanut Butter And Jealous!
Rather lazy Christmas this year. Had plenty of drinks on hand so venturing out wasn't a necessity. Ordered in some takeout and watched the über hyped film The Interview on demand. It's pretty much slick, glossy, instantaneously disposable entertainment. Amusing, at times gorily violent, yet ultimately forgettable other than its dangerous premise of Seth Rogen and James Franco's TV talk show characters assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The best on screen chemistry is the bromance that develops in an extended sequence between James Franco's naive Dave Skylark talk show host character and Randall Park as Kim Jong-un himself. Seth Rogen, again, simply plays Seth Rogen and gets some laughs doing it save for a painfully unfunny and trite anal sex joke sequence. These guys can do better than this, or can they? Still, worth seeing if you're a fan of Franco and Rogen. Time for another drink. Happy holidaze.
The Last of Us (2013)
One Of The Greatest Games Of All Time (So Far)
The overall zombie/post-apocalyptic/infected/dystopian story may be somewhat trite, yet that doesn't halt The Last of Us from being one of the best and most cinematic video game experiences ever.
You can see multiple filmic influences throughout the game, 28 Days Later, The Road, Dawn of the Dead, Pontypool, Rec, The Road Warrior.
You play the game as two (soul) survivors, a hard boiled man who's lost everything and a cocky young girl who just may have the solution to save the world.
It's very much like interacting in a live action film rather than just playing a game. These feel like real people and not just game characters.
Looking forward to the inevitable sequel(s).
Portrait Of An Old Man As The Human Torch
Came across this documentary some years ago on the Sundance Channel about an eccentric man almost a century old, American expatriate George Whitman, running an avant-garde bookstore in Paris and it took me by surprise. Whitman lives at his bookstore 24-7, aspiring writers and college students, total strangers, come to stay for free, with none of the modern day paranoia type background checks, and in exchange for room and board perform odd jobs round the bookstore.
The meal preparation scenes are arresting, don't know how many health code violations they had or how many roaches and cleaning products they they mixed into the meals. Nothing quite like pancakes and cleaning products. We also get interviews with Whitman himself and his gorgeous daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman as well as various other French, British and American commentators on their musings about the legendary and eclectic bookstore and all the great literary figures who's visited there, among them William S. Burroughs, Langston Hughes, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac. It seems like a place that's falling down and in disrepair but somehow survived in an era of mass gentrification.
The highlight of the film is the climax when we see Whitman do his version of The Human Torch, I leave it at that and say it is something that has to be seen to be believed.
The film also features the gorgeous redheaded student George Davey in her first and possibly only film appearance. She has a memorable scene where she mixes up a pancake batter like glue to fix a loose section of the bookstore's carpet. There is a shot of Davey's bouncing breasts as she stamps down the loose carpet that is one of the sexiest shots in documentary cinema.
The only negatives may be is that the film isn't long enough and might have seen a wide release if it was at least twenty minutes longer. Shakespeare & Company is a place many'd be willing to learn about a lot longer than the current humble and under an hour running time.
Simple and haunting classic theme music is used to great effect throughout the film. It was shot a few years before the advent of high definition video cameras but the image quality is still good.
Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man recalls of a simpler and romanticized time when it seemed one could go to Paris, live cheap, have intellectual conversations, and be a writer. In this day and age of cultural downfall it's good to see a part of the past that's actually worth preserving still survives.
Everything Must Go (2010)
It's An Art Movie! Huck The Faters!
Everything Must Go is an art movie. Maybe that wasn't the director's intention but that's how I'll classify it.
I give it 3 stars out of 4.
Just a very simple, and ultimately touching, story about a man who's life is falling apart and it is purely his own fault.
It is nice to see Will Ferrell ACT and not play his normal over the top persona in comedies.
This is a QUIET movie. Just a mellow ride with some humor, some drama, a pleasant setting, good cinematography and production values and interesting characters. One of the better films I've seen this year! I might even be tempted to give it 3 and 1/2 stars! It is like hanging out in a museum for the day or a quiet afternoon enjoying a good bottle of wine. Not something you'd want to do everyday but for an afternoon it is a nice diversion from the mad, mad, crazy world we live in.
And no, it is NOT a guilty pleasure. It is a good film but not for everyone. Somehow I think this might have worked better as a UK or French film.
I love a slam bang movie like Kick-Ass or Inglourious Basterds or Oldboy as much as the next cat. But this isn't that movie.
Like I said, it is a quiet art movie. Like The Music of Chance starring James Spader from back in the 90s.
Writer-director Dan Rush did a very good job. Especially since this is his FIRST film and first Internet Movie Database credit! It is almost like something Hal Hartley might have done but less quirky.
Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981)
A Big Budget B-Movie Classic
Zorro, the Gay Blade is one of trippiest movies ever. It obviously was made on the heels of the massive box office success of George Hamilton's comedic vampire movie Love at First Bite. They had a big success with Hamilton playing Dracula, why not move onto another comedic version of an iconic character? And thus, we get Zorro, the Gay Blade! George Hamilton is hilarious in his dual role as Don Diego de la Vega and his flamboyant gay twin brother Bunny Wigglesworth (one of the great camp character names ever).
Lauren Hutton gives a cool performance too as Zorro's leading lady. She's not as good as Susan Saint James in Love at First Bite. But we couldn't expect comedic lighting to strike twice. Since Love at First Bite was good but one of those films that its success is more of a fluke than anything else. It's one of those films that shouldn't have worked but amazingly did. Ala films like The Blues Brothers, Meatballs and Smokey and the Bandit.
Zorro, the Gay Blade is one of those off the wall flawed comedies that belong alongside other late night comedy classics like Jekyll and Hyde Together Again starring the amazing Mark Blankfield.
Also, Ron Liebman as Esteban, Zorro's nemesis, is hilarious here as is Brenda Vaccaro as Florinda, Esteban's mondo sexually frustrated wife.
Not the greatest comedy ever captured on celluloid. But far superior to most at your local mutliplex, amigo.
Swing Vote (2008)
An Enjoyable Mess
It's not a perfect film. But Kevin Costner is just likable. The script needed a rewrite but overall I liked this flawed flick.
It didn't try to be heavy handed and have a right wing or left wing point of view. It was a more apolitical political film. Like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. But not as good.
Swing Vote will probably have a second life on video and could be a hit there.
The movie cost only around $20 million to make and who knows how much in marketing. So it won't have to gross too much to make it's money back.
The cast adds a lot to the film as well. The always watchable Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammar, an eternally svelte and young looking (for his age) Dennis Hopper and newcomer Madeline Carroll as Costner's daughter.
It's a sweet imperfect movie about trying to get ordinary Americans involved in the political process.
We Are Doomed! Temple Of Doomed That Is!
Welcome back Indy!
Shia LaBeouf? I do not like the guy. At all.
I can't say I loathe him. But he's just not the right guy to be the next Indy. Or Indy's son. He looks nothing like Indy or Marion. I walked out of Disturbia probably in part because of his lame ass.
But the new Indy movie? I liked. But it was the weakest of all the Indy films. It just was not as badass action wise as the other ones. The others came at you fast and furious. Where it was action, chases, fights, humor, ridiculous stunts. And it worked. Spielberg has lost his edge. Which surprises me after seeing his amazing work in Munich.
And Indy in a lead lined fridge surviving a nuclear explosion? Sorry, even that's just plain lame for an Indy film. The fall down to the ground would have killed him.
Now something like that in a Hong Kong cinema film? Sure, I could buy that in one of those films. But not an Indy film. They are over the top but not THAT over the top.
And why didn't they have a gross out scene like snakes in the first one and bugs in the second one and rats in the third one?
What? CGI ants are gonna make us squirm in Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull? Hell no! CGI sucks!!!
Plus the camera set ups were on the lame side. Too many static master shots with not enough coverage. And the action scenes just were not up to the first trilogy.
Plus? Too much George Lucas inspired green screen! Some shots felt like they were digitally inserting actors into scenes where they had not filmed the two or more actors together!
In the first set of films? They shot on location when they did the action scenes. This had too many craptastic green screen CGI sequences!
If you are doing a chase by a cliff. Shoot by a real cliff! Use stunt people, make it real. Not a bunch of cringe worthy CGI.
And do NOT get me started on that AWFUL sequence where Mutt swings with the CGI monkeys on vines like Tarzan! UGH!
Man! I hate (excessive) green screen!
And Harrison looked good but here and there too old and slow. And Karen Allen just looked WAAAAAAAAAAAY too old in some scenes. Why didn't they dye Harrison's hair like they did Karen's?
Or just use some digital fixes like the did in the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand to make the actors look a few years younger? That is the one place in the new Indy film where they SHOULD have used a touch of CGI!
Kate Blanchett was sexy and tough and evil as hell as the bad girl in this movie. She does the best she can with this material and still gives a great performance. And I liked plot elements of the Area 51 inspired aliens.
And does Indy get a chance to use his bull whip? Almost never other than a few (once again) crap CGI bull whip scenes! CGI bull whip stuff in an Indy movie. Does anyone remember the live action scenes of Harrison using his whip in the first trilogy of Indy films? Is he too old to use a bull whip now? Heaven help us all.
They should have made the film five or ten years ago. And I wished Sallah was in this as well.
Overall? It worked and I liked it. Despite the mucho ass flaws and sometimes douchealicious screenplay and dialog. The other films had memorable lines galore! And chemistry between the actors! This lacked a WHOLE lotta both!
Profondo rosso (1975)
Dario Argento's Masterwork Or: How I Learned To Love Nighthawks Inspired Set Design!
Deep Red. Without question one of Italian film maestro Dario Argento's giallo masterpiece.
It's flawless. Nearly. Like a nick in the Mona Lisa. Still a thing of beauty despite it. Suspense, shocks, gore, sex, amazingly filmed. It's also one of the funnier of Aregento's films. But at times I wondered, was this meant to be a comedy? Some of the antics between Daria Nicolodi and David Hemmings are straight out of Hepburn and Grant in Bringing Up Baby. Especially the scenes with Daria's little ramshackle crapbox eurotrash Italiano car. Hemmings was never cooler than he was in this film and Daria Nicolodi was never sexier. After seeing this, who wouldn't want to give her the pyhton bone of love? I don't see how Hemmings could have resisted her. Still, the two leads have a razor keen on screen chemistry.
This is one the best giallos (pronounced jah-loh) ever set to celluloid. Argento was in his film-making prime when he made this. His work has gone steadily downhill in his later years. Even second rate Aregento is worth watching. But I fear he may never reach this creative and technical apex again that he hit with Deep Red. The worse Dario's teeth get, the worse his films get. We all get older but after seeing him in his later years he really needs to get his sometimes brilliant ass to the local Mambo Italino dentist, baby.
On the downside, the version of the film I saw had no complete English language translation. The film cut back and forth, sometimes in mid-sentence when an actor was speaking, between Italian and English. Just goes to show that you should always have an on set sound boom operator instead of recording everything in post as they did in those days. Here's hoping they recover the full English dubbing they had from the original theatrical release.
You can see American artist Edward Hopper's influence in this film. A bar seen multiple times in the film is a real life recreation of Hopper's world famous Nighthawks painting.
The suspense and shocks of Deep Red will make you jump out of your seat. Even if you're not easily scared. One downside is that the film ends way too abruptly. The film reaches its climax and BOOM! Roll end credits. Give us a moment or two to savor the exquisite climax of Deep Red. The film is like a night of wild sex and then getting your ass kicked to the curb the instant its all over. Buy us a damn proverbial drink afterwards, Deep Red filmmakers.
The Quiet Earth (1985)
Quite A Quiet Film
This film is a lost gem.
Not many (or not nearly enough) have seen it and those who have mostly love it. Director Geoff Murphy's film career has gone right into the proverbial john since making this. Oh, he's still working, sure, but his later works (some of them) can't compare to this masterwork.
But if you like Last Man On Earth type movies this celluloid slice of sci-fi cherry pie is for you! It has one of those endings that will leave you dazzled and puzzled. It doesn't try and tie up all the loose ends and questions like a lot of films do. Its much like a Kubrick film in that respect.
Hopefully The Talented Mr. Murphy will make a film as good as this again someday. Here's hoping! And I loved the ass shot of the beautiful, milky skinned redhead (Alison Routledge) as well. Talk about cherry pie. Yum.
You will like the aforementioned shot too. If you swing that way.
Quiz Show (1994)
Good But Overrated
I remember seeing this many moons ago. I enjoyed it. But found it to be a bit overrated.
Rob Redford is a talented director. And I wish he had acted in this in El Sucko Supremo's Rob Morrow's role. Morrow's character was named Dick Goodwin. A fitting first name.
But this movie did not deserve the raves to the proverbial grave it got when it was first released. Granted, I was a number of years younger when I saw it. So maybe seeing it from an older perspective would allow one to appreciate it more.
It tells the story of a famous American TV quiz show scandal and it's another in the long line of "America's Loss Of Innocence" films. I love America with an unbridled passion (unlike some types) but She, nor any other country past or present or future on Earth, was ever that innocent.
I'd rather see Quiz Show's John Turturro (looking very homely with skanky ass choppers in this role) in a much better film from this era, the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink. And the annoying, talentless douche Rob "He Majorly Sucks" Morrow befouls this movie with his presence. Thank Heaven Morrow's "star" has crashed and burned in recent years. Let him go to the dustbin of entertainment where he belongs. His "acting" is worse than X-rated goat fisting porno. Okay, it's not that he is all bad. He's just one of those actors that annoys the Hell outta you. We've all got performers who rub us the wrong way. He's this reviewer's Carrot Top. And I kinda like old Top's comedy. Hell, he plays at the Luxor, my fave Vegas hotel. I like the room service there and the buffet that resembles an ancient Egyptian archaeological dig. And Chivas whiskey they sell in the lobby gift shop. Good for boozin' the night away while in the City O' Sin.
Where was I? Oh, yeah.
Quiz Show? Overall? Yes, worth seeing. For Ralph Fiennes and Redford's direction. And El Kickass Actor Supreme Turturro. But not one that you'd (okay, me) wanna see over and over and over again, kiddo.
Casino Royale (2006)
Bond, Dead Serious Bond
Man, Daniel Craig played Bond dead serious. Oh, a little humor here and there. But he took it in a totally new direction.
If I recall from the books Bond wasn't a guy with a wry sense of humor. He was a pretty serious badass.
Daniel Craig is the first Bond who looks like he could actually hurt you. I mean break you in half. Connery was tough, menacing. But nowhere near as badass as Craig. The guy is friggin' ripped.
I love Connery, Moore, Brosnan, and even the somewhat lame Dalton and Lazenby.
Connery played it tough and serious. Moore played it more charming and he was always my favorite Bond. Lazenby just did his best. And Dalton wasn't really a good fit.
Craig is without a doubt the best actor to play Bond. The one with the most range. I don't think there has been a good Bond film since Moore left the series. But Bond is back with this kickass new film. Can't say I was too jazzed about seeing Lame, uh, sorry, Dame Judi Dench back as M. M is a male character. And if this is a re imagining of the Bond series what's Dench doing back in the series? She always plays the same sourpuss role. She isn't a bad thespian just overrated.
And Martin Campbell as the director? I wasn't too thrilled that he was returning for this installment. I still haven't forgiven him for those uber lame blue screen shots of Brosnan free falling to an descending airplane at the start of GoldenEye. Play the GoldenEye game, avoid the movie. I was hoping for Christopher Nolan as Casino's director. But Marty baby more than exceeded my expectations. The theme song from this Bond flick is one of the best I've heard in years. Good show all around.
Still, there are flaws. Some of the action sequences are tepid, trite and not that interesting. Not bad but nothing spectacular like we've come to expect from past Bond's. And the final action sequence with a collapsing building descending into the sea isn't the greatest. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd though more than holds her own as Bond's counterpart. And the screenwriters maintain a good chunk of Fleming's original story in the flick.
I was a tad bummed Pierce wasn't borough back for another Bond movie. But in all honesty, I dug him as Bond but not the films he starred in. When it got to where they were giving Bond lame invisible cars. Well, it was time for him to go. Just as well, Pierce gave us one of his best film performances ever with The Matador shortly after that. Moore made one Bond film too many and should have gotten out earlier when he got a bit too weathered for the role. Fate stepped in and saved Pierce from that.
But. Casino Royale. Best Bond in a long time, baby. Nowhere near groundbreaking as Nolan's re imagining of Bats. But in the general ballpark. Ciao.