Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Brilliant Korean film
This was one of the best films of 2004. I was looking forward to seeing it after being so impressed with a previous film from the director, The Isle. Like that one, this film features breath-taking photography and is shot on a secluded island. As in The Isle, there are several scenes of animal brutality (the killing of live animals never would have made it past the U.S. censors) but it is done in a powerful, non-exploitative manner. This story of the life of a monk is told through the metaphorical changes in the seasons and it's lyrical elements showcase a circular existentialistic philosophy that can be interesting even to non-Buddhists. A strong, thought-provoking film.
The Woodsman (2004)
Career-best Kevin Bacon
Kevin Bacon has appeared in about 55 films during his 25 years in the business. This is perhaps the most complex role he's ever played and the result is quite impressive. With the help of Director Nicole Kassell (making a solid debut effort) and his off-screen wife Kyra Sedgwick (excellent actress), Bacon makes a wise (but difficult) choice to portray this child molester not as a monster (as would be the case in most stories) but rather he portrays him as a very complicated, deeply flawed, tormented man. The fact that this story is told from the pedophile's point-of-view makes it all the more powerful in forcing the viewer to confront this man's humanity (or at least acknowledge that there is a human being somewhere inside the monster). Besides top notch support from Sedgwick and Mos Def, there is a solid (and uneasy to watch) small role excellently played by Hannah Pilkes, as a young girl who tempts Bacon's character. Terrific film.
The Door in the Floor (2004)
No one makes it look easier.
This is based on just the 1st 1/3rd of a John Irving novel, which is a wise decision by writer/director Tod Williams because it allows him to focus on just one very important period in these people's lives. This is a story of one family's intense despair and dysfunction in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy. This is the year's most complex psychological character study, with a solid performance by Kim Basinger and a remarkably relaxed and poised performance turned in by Jeff Bridges. He makes it look so easy. After more than 3 decades in the business, Bridges has emerged as probably the greatest actor in American film today.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
They say action film thrillers are only as good as the bad guys. We got 3 of the best right here. David Carradine (doing his best work since his "Kung Fu" days), Daryl Hannah (her 1st villain role -she's awesome) and Michael Madsen (doing what he does best... torturing people!) Carradine as Bill is not who we expected him to be after watching the 1st film. He's cool but he has a lot of humanity to him as well. As his brother Bud, Madsen puts Uma Thurman through one of the most claustrophobic suspense scenes in film history (Madsen, so calm and relaxed, does his best acting since his "Reservoir" glory days). And Hannah squares off against Uma in a spectacular catfight, a battle to the death amongst 2 of the cinema's reigning 6-foot blonde goddesses. This is a great conclusion to the stylish Kill Bill revenge saga.
The Machinist (2004)
Hitchcock would love this!
For fans of Memento... this is a terrifyingly dark, twisting descent into one man's extreme psychological hell & anguish. Here's a man so tormented, he hasn't slept a wink in over a year. Christian Bale (our new Batman) nearly killed himself preparing for this role. In an unbelievably dangerous transformation, the 6 foot 2 actor (who normally weighs 185 lbs) wasted his body away, starving himself down to a skeletal 120 lbs. How was he able to remember his lines, let alone focus on acting? Did he need serious medical attention while filming this? Bug-eyed, horribly emaciated, and acting out various stages of extreme insomnia, hallucinatory paranoia and delusional disorder, Bale gives one of the most amazing screen performances I've ever seen.
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
What an impact!
How often do you get to see a film that transcends what we normally think of as a film? This "alternate reality" version of what happened during Bush's 1st term is bombastic & provocative, yes, but many forget just how entertaining this film is. Skillfully put together and edited (with footage never seen before publicly) this rabble-rouser caused such an impact it's hard to believe this is "only" a film. There's humorous footage shown during the 1st half and some eye-opening material (Gore having to shut down the senators who were protesting the election, an ironic state of events; Bush reading My Pet Goat to the children, etc.) Then the 2nd half takes on a dead serious tone, raising questions about the reasons for going to war. This has the most powerful anti-war message since Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July.
I saw this at the CineVegas Festival. It's about the Microsoft executives who purchased the struggling Pro Bowlers Tour and tried to turn it into a profitable sports league. Several of the players are profiled, including the 2 biggest stars (Walter Ray Williams & Pete Weber), an up and coming star (Chris Barnes) and a "has-been" (Wayne Webb) who is trying to reclaim his 70s and 80s stardom. This film shows the psychological pain that many of these players have to endure as a result of brutal travel schedules, long hours away from their families, low pay and the lack of respect they often receive in their chosen profession. It's an entertaining and heart-breaking film that will appeal to anyone who likes underdog stories about real people, it's not just for bowling fans.
Back to the Future (1985)
The Best movie there is, was, & ever will be.
Imagine if you could go back in time and meet your parents when they were the same age as you? What would you think of them? Would you hang out with them? What if the parent of the opposite sex developed a crush on you? This is the inspired premise behind a movie that will live on forever in my heart, the best film I have ever seen out of thousands of films. Back to the Future received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay and numerous technical awards. It was the biggest box office hit of 1985. None of that explains what makes the film so perfect. What makes it perfect is the way it hooks you with it's premise and then carries it out in a manner that will entertain and enlighten you. It's a film that expertly blends so many genres. It's a comedy, a drama, a rip roaring thrill ride, sci fi action adventure, and love story. No movie I've seen pulls off all these genres at the same time. The movie transports you back in time and teaches us how our lives are connected and the significance of your family roots. If you're an adult, you marvel at the recreation of the 50s and the knowing jokes, such as the disbelief of realizing that the actor Ronald Reagan was going to become president. As a child, you realize that yes, your parents were young once and they were even like you in many ways. These are just some of the issues the film deals with. You care about the characters and live through their strengths and flaws. It's hard to imagine anyone other than Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly but as fate would have it, he was the replacement for Eric Stoltz (a terrific actor who apparently was considered too intense for the role.) This bold decision by the producers to scrap several weeks of filming and replace the lead actor was a risk that paid off beyond their wildest dreams. Fox dissolves into the role so easily that his acting talent sometimes gets overlooked because he makes it look so effortless. As for Christopher Lloyd, no need to replace him. This is the role he will always be remembered for. Who else could handle the rapid fire delivery and sheer energy that his Doc Brown called for? He has a lot of the best lines. Hats off to Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson, who each endured makeup allowing them to play 17 and 47. Their joy in playing these characters comes through. All the roles down to the smallest were wonderfully cast. The marvelous sets, costumes, editing, music, sound effects, etc. And of course, hats off to Director Robert Zemeckis, who went on to make Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. This remains his masterpiece. He also did both of the good but inferior sequels. This is the movie to put into the time capsule (Delorean). Can't wait for the re-release.
Will always be the word.
Grease was the first movie that I saw when I was a kid that caused me to go back and see it again and again. Then the re-release came out in 1998 and I saw it for old's time sake. I ended up seeing it three more times while it was still in theatres because it brought back the same feelings plus new ones from having watched the film from an adult perspective. On the one hand, it's easy for me to watch it so many times because it's a musical and when you find the tunes catchy you can't resist it. But it's not just that. Much to my surprise, I remembered every line of dialogue. What makes this movie a classic is that it is still great even if you cut out the songs. How many musicals can you say that about? The dialogue and one liners are so colorful and energetic and the movie works as a 50s comedy. It's funnier than I remembered and it is without a doubt the raunchiest PG movie ever made. Parents be forewarned, especially the Greased Lightning song. All in all, a film that should be re-released every twenty years so a new generation of children and teenagers can watch it, not just because it was one of the last great musicals but also because it truly captures the essence of what it was like to grow up in the 50s. This ranks just below Back to the Future (another 50s type movie) as my all time favorite.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Most influential film of 90s
I didn't think Tarantino could possibly top Reservoir Dogs, but here he is only two years later, outdoing himself with Pulp Fiction, a bigger budget than Reservoir but still small by Hollywood standards. The film is a masterpiece, winning Tarantino the Oscar for original screenplay and getting well deserved nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Travolta), Supp. Actor (Jackson) and Supp. Actress (Thurman). My one complaint is that many people who rent the video are missing out on some of the joys of the film because most of the videos are cropped so that you can't see the whole screen the way you did in the theatre. For example, when drug dealer Eric Stoltz is in bed watching TV before Travolta calls him letting him know he and Uma are on their way over, you see a box of funny looking breakfast cereal (some outdated brand) that Stoltz is eating. In the video you can't see it, and you miss out on one of the funny sight gags Tarantino has in store for you. It's little details like these that help make Pulp Fiction a treasure to view long after the initial impact of the stories wears off. The film's style has been ripped off but only the Coen Bros. Fargo has come close to bringing us the same off beat pleasures. As the years go on, movie fans will be more and more surprised to learn Pulp Fiction did not win for Best Picture.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Long live the Wizard!
What a pleasure it was to finally see The Wizard of Oz for the first time on the big screen when it was re-released in 1998. This was one of the first films I watched as a child and it became a annual ritual to watch it while I was growing up. Nevertheless, I was surprised by how well I responded to it when I watched it on the big screen some 15 years or so after I thought I had outgrown it. The energy and wonder of the film still hold up and I was reminded of so many movies I have seen in the last twenty years that borrowed things from this movie. The performances by Judy Garland and Margaret Hamilton are still my all time favorite female lead and supporting performances. I've seen this movie maybe 15 times by now but I'll probably see it again before long.
It changed my life.
There is a backlash brewing, especially amongst imdb fans who suddenly brought Titanic down from the #1 ranking to out of the top 250. Fine, you win. The film will just have to settle for the all time box office record and tied for the most Academy Awards. It is interesting that most of these Titanic haters did not see the film when it first came out, and didn't even see it in theatres at all. The longer you waited to see the film, the more difficult it would be to watch it objectively. Many of these Titanic haters never wanted to see the film to begin with and went out of their way to tear it down when given the opportunity to finally see it. Those of us like myself who saw the film in theatres during the early weeks were able to watch it more objectively. I expected it to be well directed and technically impressive. James Cameron directed The Terminator, the most intense and relentless thriller I have ever seen. Aliens redefined the sci fi/horror film. What I was not expecting was that I would be crying at the end of Titanic, the first film to make me cry since Ghost. As a man, one who loves Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, L.A. Confidential, etc., I was caught completely off guard and became very emotional during the last half hour of the film. I cannot explain it and don't want to explain it, but I will never forget this film because it somehow got these feelings outside of my otherwise stoic self. Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart broke my heart, and James Horner's score perfectly set the mood for me. I paid to see the film several times (and sneaked in to see the ending many more times.) The total amount of time and money I put into watching this film is a bargain compared to the many hours of therapy sessions I otherwise could have had. The feelings the film inspired in me (normally well hidden) has since enabled me to become a more open, emotional, giving, well rounded person. That is the highest praise I can say of this film. It changed my life.
Running on Empty (1988)
River Phoenix at his best.
The best reason to watch this film is of course the performance by River Phoenix, which now that he's dead, we will never know if he could have topped this. He was one of the youngest actors ever nominated for an Oscar. Another reason to watch the film is Christine Lahti from Chicago Hope who gives her best screen performance here. She won the Los Angeles Film Critic's award for Best Actress of 1988 and received a Golden Globe nomination but unfortunately she must have just missed when they announced who the five finalists were for the Oscar. She has two scenes in this film where she just tore my heart out, including one with Steven Hill from Law And Order who plays her father. The movie did get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and made many top ten lists, including Roger Ebert's. Although it wasn't a box office hit, I believe it will be remembered as one of Director Sidney Lumet's best films and certainly the best one to watch if you want to remember why the talented actor River Phoenix's death was so tragic.
Die Hard (1988)
The best action film ever made.
This is the best action movie I have ever seen. Forget about all the rip offs and the two sequels. People who saw this film on the big screen will never forget it. It was Bruce Willis' first action role and at the time it was a real discovery. He plays the role more like a real everyman, which was nice change of pace because superhuman action stars like Schwarzenegger and Stallone were the top guys back then. They say action films are only as good as the bad guy. That is the secret to this film's success.
Hans Gruber, played magnificently by Alan Rickman, is one of the most intelligent and ruthless bad guys to come down the pipe. He is a formidable foe for Willis and you find yourself intrigued by him. John McTiernan directs the action sequences very crisply, with some spectacular stunts and a screenplay by Jeb Stuart with sharp one liners. All in all, a film that is much imitated but never duplicated.
Billionaire Boys Club (1987)
One of the best TV movies.
This is a well told, mesmerizing true life docudrama. Even if you know how the story goes, it is told in such an interesting and exciting manner. Judd Nelson is terrific as Joe Hunt, making you believe that he is a good person even if the facts suggest otherwise. He says at one point that "all he ever wanted to do was make money, for everybody." Nelson received a Golden Globe nomination as did McNamara, who plays the baby faced narrator and most sympathetic character. Ron Silver does a great job in the small but critical Ron Levin role. I recommend the film for fans of courtroom dramas and murder mysteries.
The Breakfast Club (1985)
A classic teen film
I've seen The Breakfast Club about 20 times and it stands as the quintessential teen film. The idea for the film sounded like a loser to the movie executives. You take five characters and put them in one room and let them talk to each other. That's it. No car chases, stunts, explosions. This could have been a stage play. This film should be studied by film students because it shows that a film can be made for very little money and still be entertaining. You just need a good script and characters who are easy to identify with. Most viewers can certainly identify with one or more of these kids and almost everyone can relate to the loneliness and disaffection they experience. Despite their differences, they bond with each other because no one else seems to understand the pain and pressure they live through, certainly not their parents or teachers. The film has been accused of being anti-adult, or portraying the adult characters one- dimensionally. I don't think that is fair because the film is clearly told through the point of view of the teenagers. This is how adults appear to them much of the time. Parents can watch this film and even learn something about themselves and understand what teenagers are going through. The best reason to treasure the film is the strong, memorable dialogue, delivered to perfection by the terrific cast of young actors. Judd Nelson has the best role in the film and comes through with a spellbinding performance. He gives the film its edge and bite. We all knew kids like him and either hated him, loved to hate him or fantasized about being like him. Nelson beat out John Cusack and Nicolas Cage for this part and I think his performance is one of the greatest portrayals of a rebellious American teenager ever seen on film. Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future also fall into this category. Nelson went on to play more anti-establishment characters in films like Blue City and From The Hip, but showed amazing range when he lost 50 pounds and played a wimpy nerd in The Dark Backward. He gave a mesmerizing performance as the genius killer in Billionaire Boys Club, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. While all the actors were great, I think The Breakfast Club is a showcase for how underrated an actor Judd Nelson is.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Best curse show ever.
The funniest R rated film ever. The opening scene "I'm a businessman, talk to me" establishes the mood as we listen in on Eddie Murphy doing his trademank jive talk. A few minutes later, Inspector Todd breaks the all-time record for cursing in a hilarious scene with Eddie and Paul Reiser listening on. The film is well cast all the way down to the smallest roles and Eddie is in top form, but not enough credit has been given to the excellent screenplay. A lot of people forget that the script was nominated for an Oscar. They think Eddie improvised all his lines and that all they did was insert swear words. What they actually did was take a classic fish out of water premise (Eddie in Beverly Hills!) and spin a wonderful variaion on it with rich, lovable characters and creative use of language. The salty language in this movie is used in a way that stings more than actual violence does. Could Inspector Todd be any more menacing if he actually had a weapon in his hands? No. His mouth is the weapon. Every character in this movie, all the way down to the Bronson Pinchot character, has a unigue way with words. It's the screenplay, not just the energtic acting, that will alow this movie to stand the test of time. Also check out Director Martin Brest's follow up film, Midnight Run, which also has a screenplay laced with salty words spoken poetically and richly drawn characters.
Blue City (1986)
Great music and a knockout performance by Nelson.
Fans of The Breakfast Club will enjoy Judd Nelson in this movie. He plays the same type of sarcastic, wisecracking antihero he played in the previous film. It's fun to watch him thumb his nose at authority. He also reminded me of Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop because he was avenging a murder and raising hell by going after the bad guys and making fun of them in the process. The rest of the cast is great, watch David Caruso in his pre NYPD Blue days, plus Oscar nominated actors Paul Winfield and Scott Wilson are in the film. Ally Sheedy up until this point, only played nice girl roles. Here you get to see her curse and do things you don't normally watch her do. The most unexpected surprise of this film is how good the music is. Jazz Legend Ry Cooder performs one of his very best scores. His guitar sound strikes a deep chord and really enhances the picture. I bought the soundtrack.