The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of Raging Fluff. He also reviewed North By Northwest HERE and Gladiator HERE. Thanks so much for the reviews, Niall! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about The Silence Of The Lambs, IMDB rank 24 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Summary: In order to catch a serial killer, ambitious FBI-Trainee Clarice Starling enlists the help of another sociopath, Hannibal Lecter, who only helps her in exchange for revealing personal information about her childhood.

Directed by Jonathan Demme. Screenplay by Ted Tally. Based upon the novel by Thomas Harris.

Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald.

***SPOILERS THAT WILL HAVE THE LAMBS SCREAMING***

Oscar trivia buffs know that only three movies have won The Big Five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay. The three films are It Happened One Night, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Silence of the Lambs. It’s easy to see why the first two swept the Academy in their respective years. The Gable-Colbert comedy represents the very best of 1930s sophisticated – and risque – romantic comedy; it is sexy (legend has it that sales of men’s undershirts plummeted when Gable strode around bare-chested); and it has a madcap heiress at a time when films about the rich were a Hollywood staple (you don’t see many madcap heiresses these days). The Milos Forman film about inmates of an asylum bucking against the system and falling foul of authoritarian Nurse Ratched caught the pessimistic mood of the 1970s; it’s as much about Vietnam and violence in the ghetto as it is about mental illness (perhaps even more so).

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At first glance it’s less clear why Silence of the Lambs did so well. Firstly, the film was released in March, and conventional wisdom has it that only films released in the brief run-up to Christmas get Oscar’s attention. Secondly, its director had a small and devoted following but was hardly a mainstream name, and he made offbeat, quirky comedies (Married to the Mob, Something Wild ), not suspense thrillers. Thirdly, while Jodie Foster was a hot property after her Oscar-winning turn in The Accused, her co-star was essentially an unknown to most mainstream audiences. If Anthony Hopkins was recognised at all, it was probably as that guy from The Elephant Man (not the one under all the makeup, the other one). In fact, as is widely known, Hopkins was nobody`s first choice for the part. A lot of others turned it down first, including Gene Hackman, and I think that Hackman would have done a good job. I don’t know how it ended up on Hopkins’ desk; Hollywood had not been that good to the Welshman – he was stuck in garbage like Hollywood Wives, and he had a reputation as a difficult actor (perhaps deservedly so: for many years he was an angry boozer). Fourthly, the Thomas Harris novel had been a bestseller: would the film be faithful to the book? Finally, its subject was really quite gruesome, and the marketing people must have scratched their heads trying to figure out how to sell it. A man who kills and skins women? Another who eats his victims? And the cannibal and the FBI chick have a weird kinda-sorta romantic connection? Ew!

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As we all know, of course, they needn’t have worried. The film was a huge success and made the 50-plus Hopkins a character-star. I think he’s splendid in the part, but I’ve never understood why he wasn’t up for Best Supporting Actor, considering how little time he spends on screen (less than twenty minutes out of a two-hour movie). As for Foster, well, the cinema hadn’t had a truly strong female protagonist in a while, and it hasn’t had many since. Her performance is note-perfect; there isn’t a false moment in it. There’s a marvellous moment at the beginning when she steps into a lift and is surrounded by men: she’s tiny and she looks to be years younger than her classmates – how on earth can this little girl hope to catch a psychotic criminal?

The film also started a regrettable trend in Hollywood for serial killers (a trend that has produced very few truly decent films) and a much over-used trope: the genius bad guy. Even more regrettably, Thomas Harris and Hollywood didn’t know to leave well enough alone. Hannibal Lecter would appear in two further novels (one good, one awful). While the latest incarnation of Lecter on television has garnered all sorts of praise, critics and audiences were less impressed with Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (Foster refused to be part of it) and Hannibal Rising.

And before we move on, let’s not forget the elephant in the room: Brian Cox. The Scottish actor was in fact the first Lecter – in Michael Mann’s very stylish Manhunter (based on the novel Red Dragon). Cox only has a couple of scenes, but he’s terrifying, mostly because he appears to be so ordinary. It’s a far less baroque take on the character than what Hopkins does with it.

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Hopkins’ inspiration for Lecter’s distinctive nasal tone was, of all people, Katherine Hepburn. Everyone remembers Starling’s first encounter with Lecter: after enduring the oily attention of sleazebag Dr. Chilton, she walks down a long, dark stone hallway, a setting that would not look out of place in a gothic horror, the psychotic Miggs hissing obscenities at her … and then we see Lecter, standing perfectly still and bathed in light in the middle of his cell, a strange smile on his face. Then the whole bit about her perfume, his ridicule of her accent and bad shoes, the census taker’s liver, the nice chianti … fffffsssfffssssfffsss

Silence of the Lambs has a very different look and feel to Manhunter. Mann’s palette has bright colours, pastels, sunshine, a lot of white (Cox is in white prison garb in a white cell under harsh flourescent light), and much of it takes place in a slick-looking Miami (Mann created Miami Vice). Demme’s film has a wintry look (bare trees, strewn leaves) and drab and dreary settings (unkempt and kitschy homes in shitty small towns). The cinematographer is Taj Fukimoto. The sombre score is by Howard Shore.

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Considering its subject, the film is rather restrained. The most frightening moment in the movie is when Chilton shows Starling a photo of one of Lecter’s victims, and we don’t get to see it; all we see is the look of horror and revulsion on Foster’s face. Demme makes some very interesting choices where to point his camera, and there are a lot of point-of-view shots, and they can be unsettling. That is deliberate, because at its heart this is a film about coveting: about seeing and wanting what we see, and it’s also about what it feels like to be a young attractive woman who has to suffer men’s eyes roving all over her. Demme would go on to use a similar technique in Philadelphia with less effect.

I think the film does have some missteps, and they’re mostly to do with editing. The suspense of Lecter’s escape is dissipated by the fact that Demme chooses to focus too long on the bloody but still alive figure of “Pembry” lying on the floor. Five seconds into a scene that should be about fear and confusion and cops on the hunt, and the audience has already guessed that it’s Lecter on the floor, which kills the surprise in the ambulance. Similarly, when Starling gets to Jame Gumb’s house, the film uses a cliche cross-cutting device between where she is and where the other agents are (different house, different city).

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I haven’t even talked about Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill. There are two things of note to remember when you watch him in this. One, this is the guy that played the bluff police captain in Monk. Go watch an episode and see if you recognise him. Two, Levine maintains he was better in the audition than he was in the film. Can you imagine how creepy he was in the audition? Considering all the attention the film received, it’s a shame Levine didn’t even get a Best Supporting Actor nod.

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Marnie (1964) Review

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I’ve participated in the hugely ambitious Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon being run by Rob of MovieRob & Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. They’ve managed to get reviews for every single Hitchcock film! Great work, you two! :-)

You can read my contribution, a review of Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, HERE.

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Under The Skin (2013) Review

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Under The Skin (2013)

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy McWilliams
Joe Szula
Kryštof Hádek
Paul Brannigan
Adam Pearson
Michael Moreland
Dave Acton
Jessica Mance

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Under the Skin is a 2013 British-American science fiction art film directed by Jonathan Glazer, and written by Glazer and Walter Campbell as a loose adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress who preys on men in Scotland.

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My Opinion:

Finally! I finally managed to see this movie after looking everywhere for a cinema actually showing it when it came out and having no luck. I was intrigued because, first of all, it looked like “The Woman Who Fell To Earth“. Being a big David Bowie fan and loving The Man Who Fell To Earth way more than I should, I really wanted to see this. Plus, I found out that the director has made some of my favorite music videos (more about that later). So did Under The Skin live up to all the hype in my head? Yes and no.

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I mentioned this movie when I reviewed Lucy HERE on Monday and, yes, I think Under The Skin is the superior film of the two although I did really enjoy Lucy. Scarlett Johansson is indeed the true star of both films and, I think, makes both movies far better than they would’ve been with a different actress (and this is coming from someone who has never really been a fan of hers). Under The Skin is a very brave role for her to have taken on and I think, along with Her, it’s paid off and made her a far more respected actress. Under The Skin could have been a massive failure for her and, although there will certainly be plenty of people who hate the film, I think it’s a huge success as far as her professional career is concerned. As for the movie…

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Yes, it’s weird. Very very weird. It’s exactly what I expected, though, having seen The Man Who Fell To Earth (it does have plenty of similarities so it’s hard to not compare the two). I enjoyed it a lot although I don’t think it’s quite as iconic as the Bowie film (which is NOT a good movie but it’s hard to deny that Bowie is extremely fascinating and certain images from the movie will stay with you). In the same way, there are images from Under The Skin that will never leave my mind. I think that’s a good thing, though. I see that as a sign of a great piece of art. As a coherent and fully rewarding movie-watching experience, however, Under The Skin falls a little short. For as much of a mess as The Man Who Fell To Earth was, we at least had a backstory and knew what Bowie’s alien’s purpose was on Earth. If you’re the type of person who wants a movie with a proper storyline & a satisfying conclusion, Under The Skin may not be for you. If you want a nice piece of art to look at (like, weird & abstract art – not Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade), you MIGHT enjoy Under The Skin.

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Summary:

Well, I don’t think I really need to say much more than I already have. Basically, Under The Skin is weird and you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it. I found it to be an interesting piece of art and, as the director has made music videos before, perhaps that’s why this feels a little like something in between a music video & a movie. If you want a straightforward movie or even something that has some deep meaning, you won’t get that here (but I may just be too stupid to figure out some “deeper meaning” to this film). You will, however, get a good performance from Johansson and some images that you’ll never get out of your mind. I really enjoyed the film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Here’s a list (thanks Wikipedia) of a few of the music videos made by the director of Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer). I’ve included two of my favorites (FYI – the UNKLE one isn’t one to watch if there are kids around):

Karmacoma by Massive Attack
The Universal by Blur
Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai
Karma Police by Radiohead

Plus my two favorites:

Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead:

Rabbit in Your Headlights by UNKLE ft. Thom Yorke:

**I’ve recently participated in the Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon being hosted by the robust Rob of MovieRob and the zany Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. You can read my contribution, a review of Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, starring Sean Connery & Tippi Hedren, HERE. Thanks, Rob & Zoe, for hosting this blogathon! :-)

Trainspotting (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He’s also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE) and The Big Lebowski (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! :-) Now let’s hear his thoughts on Trainspotting, IMDB rank 151 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: John Hodge.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Shirley Henderson, Pauline Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Keith Allen, Kevin Allen, Dale Winton, Irvine Welsh.

Director Danny Boyle’s marvellous debut “Shallow Grave” was always going to be a hard act to follow but to attempt an adaptation of the ‘unfilmable’ Scottish novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, seemed like lunacy. Boyle, however, captures Welsh’s book brilliantly and despite “Slumdog Millionaire” gathering him a best director Oscar, this still remains his best film.

It follows the lives of a group of friends from Edinburgh as they experience the high’s and low’s of life through heroin use. Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to go clean and rid himself of his affliction and his low-life chums but finds that’s easier said than done. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is too needy, SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller) is too controling, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) has just taken some bad direction and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is just plain pychotic. Renton, however, enters into making a one off drug deal with his old pals, so as to make a new life for himself altogether.

Boyle’s film has often been criticised as glorifying drug use. Glorifying drug use? Really? People who believe this must have been watching a different film. The characters involved all behave despicably. They are responsible for thefts, fights, deaths – including the death of a baby. Get imprisoned. Contract HIV. Ruin their lives and others’, all because of their drug habit. What this film has in depth, vibrancy and fun, is the reason it could be mistaken for being pro-drug use but having these qualities is more of a testament to the filmmakers involved, in making a bleak and depressing subject matter, very entertaining. The characters are extremely well written (kudos to writer Welsh) and acted by an ensemble of excellent actors. It made a star of Ewan McGregor, who’s character, although likeable – and brilliantly played – is essentially the person responsible for the downfall of many of the other characters. Notable other performances are Ewen Bremner as “Spud”, the most endearing of the group and a character too gentle for his lifestyle. The best of the bunch though, is Robert Carlyle as the psychotic “Begbie”, who’s choice of drug isn’t heroin but violence – and he’s just as destructive with it. He’s a dangerous and highly volatile person and Carlyle perfectly captures the on-edge feeling of his terrifying unpredictability. It’s an award worthy performance that was sadly overlooked. Everything about the film reeks of class. From it’s rollicking soundtrack, to the rich, snappy dialogue, with great characters in hilarious situations and kinetic fast paced direction. This film has everything going for it and stands as one of the finest films of the 1990′s.

A relentlessly energetic experience that leaves you craving for more, much like the habit of it’s protaganists.
Pure uncut, Class A.

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Mark Walker

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Lucy (2014) Review

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Lucy (2014)

Directed by Luc Besson

Starring:
Scarlett Johansson
Morgan Freeman
Amr Waked
Choi Min-sik

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

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My Opinion:

I normally try to wait a day or two to write a review as it sometimes takes me a while to collect my thoughts & decide how I feel about a movie. However, I’m short on time so am writing this review immediately after seeing Lucy. Bear with me while I try to decide what I thought of it as I’m still not sure myself.

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First of all: Scarlett Johansson. She’s turning into quite the interesting actress lately, eh? The second I heard about Under The Skin, I was intrigued & looked all over for a cinema anywhere near me that was showing it. No such luck! Anyway – I finally saw that last week (I’ll be reviewing it on Wednesday if you’d like to know my thoughts on it) and I was impressed with Johansson’s performance. Add in her voice-only role in Her, which I thought was the highlight of an already amazing film, and I’ve had to re-evaluate the somewhat negative opinion I had of her. Bravo to her for taking on these roles. It’s great to see a female lead carrying films that are more than just some dumb Kate Hudson-type rom-coms. Her is my favorite but, of the other two, I think Under The Skin is the superior film to Lucy. However, I do think people have been too harsh on Lucy and, in a way, I thought Johansson did an even better job as Lucy than as an alien in human skin.

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Damn – I suppose I have to talk about the movie as well as its star. Well, there’s good & bad. It’s been reviewed enough now that I think everyone knows the story is a bit iffy and it can seem silly at times. I’m not sure if the weird mash-up of violent action movie & movie-that-thinks-it’s-really-deep-and-smart QUITE works. However… You know what? Screw it. I enjoyed it. Yes, I did. I think… Um. Yes. I did. There have been plenty of negative reviews for Lucy so I’m going to focus on just the positive & tell you what I liked about it:

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- We have a strong female lead, which is something I always go for in movies. I think Emily Blunt’s role in Edge Of Tomorrow was still a better one as she just naturally kicks ass without the help of a drug but I’m liking seeing girls starring in some kick ass action films!

- There’s some weird & wonderful Matrix-y shit going on here & I liked it. I loved the scene in the airplane bathroom and all her confrontations with people as she grew more powerful.

- I like that this movie at least TRIES to be something a bit different. Everyone moans about Michael Bay & his braindead blow-shit-up movies but then we get something like Lucy and people still complain. It at least has a good concept even if it doesn’t quite know how to fully explore it or where to take the story but it’s fun to watch and its themes might make you think afterwards. But, hey – it’s just a movie! Movies are meant to entertain us. I think people forget that sometimes. I had fun watching Lucy.

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Summary:

I’ve really struggled writing this review. I’ve not read too many reviews yet as I was planning on watching this but I KNOW some people will absolutely hate this film. It’s definitely not for everyone, especially those who set their expectations way too high. If you like your violent action movies with a twist of sci-fi weirdness & some added university lectures complete with educational film strips, you might like this one. However, I’m not actually recommending it to anyone reading this. If you do watch it, just watch it with an open mind & try to have some fun with it. I did.

My Rating: 7/10

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Of the two reviews I’ve read in full, I liked Lucy more than Cara but less than Eric. Let me know if you’ve done a review for this as well – I’m curious to know more opinions on this one. :-)

Fight Club (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Eric of The IPC. He’s already done reviews for Se7en (HERE) & Twelve Monkeys (HERE) & There Will Be Blood (HERE). Thanks so much for all these reviews, Eric! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Fight Club, IMDB rank 10 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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**WARNING: SPOILERS. AND DONGS.**

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Just One Of The Guys (1985) Review

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Just One Of The Guys (1985)

Directed by Lisa Gottlieb

Starring:
Joyce Hyser
Clayton Rohner
Billy Jacoby
Toni Hudson
Billy Zabka
Sherilyn Fenn

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Terry (Joyce Hyser) is determined to win a school writing contest to prove that a pretty girl can be capable and intelligent. In order to be taken seriously, she dresses as a boy and tries to blend in at a new school until the contest results are announced.

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My Opinion:

I LOVE 80’s movies. I’ve probably seen 90% of them. Yet this one passed me by… Luckily, Netflix has a decent selection of dodgy 80’s movies. YES! So I finally checked this one out.

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First of all, it opens with the above image (and someone was clearly pervy enough to stick this still online). We then see plenty of the female lead in her underwear and in a bikini before she goes & chops off all her hair to look like a boy. But… She never straps those boobs down. They’re not small! Apparently no one notices them while she’s dressed as a guy.

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This movie has the opportunity to say something about gender stereotypes. Does it? Oh HELL no! Ha! In typical cheesy 80’s-movie-style, we see all male characters acting as sex-obsessed chauvinists. Billy Jacoby, the lead’s brother, is the worst. He spends the entire movie trying to get laid & has naked women all over his walls. I’ve never understood this – I remember walking into various dorm rooms in college and seeing guys who had naked girls plastered all over their walls was SUCH a turn-off! (Little tip there, guys). Anyway, Billy Jacoby was in lots of my teen movies so I was thoroughly confused when I looked this movie up as he’s now apparently called Billy Jayne. (Oh, but he looks pretty good in his current IMDB photo. Hmm…)

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(This is a picture of Jacoby showing his sister how to act like a guy by, um, adjusting her balls properly…)

Are guys all over the world REALLY as horny & pathetic as this movie makes it seem?! I don’t know… I do love how this movie acts like it’s making an important statement on sexism but has the lead parading around in her underwear & flashing her boobs. Gotta love the 80’s! By the way – there are loads of images and gifs of said flashing if you search online – I’m not posting that here! Sorry to disappoint you Eric, Brian, Mike & Seth;-)

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I’m NOT saying I didn’t enjoy this cheesy & extremely predictable movie, however. As with all 80’s movies I didn’t manage to actually see in my youth, I won’t have a fond affection for this one as I didn’t grow up with it. But I ALWAYS feel a bit warm & fuzzy when watching a movie from the 80’s. I can’t help it! If I had a time machine, I’d totally go back to 1985 (but without a dodgy poodle-perm). Or… Maybe 1975. Anything would be better than these shitty times we live in now!

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I enjoyed this movie in all its 80’s cheesiness. I liked that, in the picture above, the girl was also in the movie April Fool’s Day, which I love more than I should, and the guy was the prick in The Karate Kid. I also loved that someone in this movie (it might have been Sherilyn Fenn’s character) said the lead girl looked like Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid while dressed as a guy (she totally did!).

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Summary:

This movie isn’t “good”. If you’re younger than me and didn’t grow up with 80’s movies, it’s very unlikely that you’ll enjoy this one. This is one of those films that, unfortunately, hasn’t aged well. When you think about it, this came out the same year as Back To The Future but that one can still be watched today and loved by new generations. I’d never ever recommend this movie to a younger generation but, if you’re my sort of age and missed out on seeing this one back in the 80’s, I think you’d enjoy it just fine.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Sin City (2005) IMDB Top Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. Thanks for the review, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Sin City, IMDB rank 136 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s creation is the ultimate marriage of comics and film. Dozens of comic book adaptations hit screens before Sin City and with Hollywood’s habit of churning out superhero films (except for a Deadpool movie) it certainly won’t be the last. But it’s hard to think of another film that embodies the visual style of comics so well. Rodriguez applies his characteristic innovative film-making to capture the imagery and motifs of Miller’s series in a way few other directors could. Even other adaptations of Miller’s works including Zack Snyder’s 300 (2005) and Watchmen (2009), both great in their own right, don’t absorb the visual tendencies like Rodriguez’s tour de force. Like Miller’s other adaptations, Sin City received mixed reviews on initial release, polarizing critics with its hyperviolence and extreme stylization.

When judging the film it is impossible to separate the striking visuals and its unconventional storytelling. The majority of the film is presented in black-and-white but unlike Hitchcock who used lack of color to reduce the violence and gore in Psycho (1960), Rodriguez uses the technique to heighten the violence and draw attention to the gore. Our eyes are drawn to bright red streaks of blood flicking off a grayscale knife or the hot white blood pouring out of Benicio del Toro’s freshly shurikened wrist. Even though the film is in black-and-white, Rodriguez manages to create sequences that feel saturated with color using extreme contrast paired with busy frames filled with multiple shadows and bright foci like Kevin’s (Elijah Wood) glasses, or the bandages littering Marv’s (Mickey Rourke) face and arms. Many scenes go full comic using bright white silhouettes on black backgrounds.

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Rodriguez pairs this visual style with near-constant voice-overs providing slick narration from multiple characters. Here Rodriguez combines Miller’s style with his own penchant for paying homage to films past. In the same way that Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindouse (2007) celebrates B-movies and Rodriguez’s The Faculty (1998) does the same with sci-fi horror (albeit to a lesser extent), Sin City celebrates film noir and old crime films. Well-versed on the genre’s mannerisms, Rodriguez uses them to full effect to breathe life into Miller’s creation. In an earlier post on flashbackbackslide.com we walked through a list of commonly used techniques in noir’s bag of tricks. And Sin City applies them by the fistful. Femme fatales and Sam Spade-type tough guys enter and exit the film continuously, none of them taking a majority of the spotlight. With this arrangement an extensive list of chain-smoking Hollywood A and B-listers sneak onscreen. Mickey Rourke’s scenes as Marv in particular feel like a scene cut out of a Golden Age noir. With a keen eye for quality trench coats and a near indestructibility, Marv alone could fill a board of film noir bingo with his voice-overs:

“She fires up two cigarettes and hands me one and I taste her lipstick on it and suddenly my heart’s pounding so loud I can’t hear anything else.”
-Marv (Mickey Rourke)

The cinematography and shot selections are covered with noir fingerprints. An early scene with Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro and Brittany Murphy plays out a familiar scenario with Owen out-tough-guying Murphy’s abusive boyfriend Del Toro. Venetian blinds, mirrors, Dutch angles and silhouettes, all tools in the noir kit, are used in this one brief scene, as outlined in the two stills below:

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With Sin City, Miller and Rodriguez have created a space to flex all of their combined creative muscles. After an initial phase of critical uncertainty, time has served the film well and it is now considered an artistic benchmark and one of the best neo-noirs of the last ten years along with Memento (2000), Brick (2005) and Drive (2011). The visual style the film wraps itself in has influenced other films in the genre including 300 (2006), The Spirit (2008), 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and in some ways Snyder’s Watchmen. We will remember Sin City for this style but the hyperstylization is also what makes the film less enjoyable when judged alone. At times the images are headache-inducing with awkward dull red hues playing on bright white lines. This may also be a stylistic choice but two hours in the world of Sin City’s style can become exhausting.

And the stylistic choices seem to have taken precedence over a coherent and interesting plot as the continuous jolt of storylines tends to be frustrating as we are dropped into sequences with no knowledge of our context or the characters’ relationships. It appears that the trailer recognizes these inconsistencies and tries to sell a single unified plot that really does not exist in the movie. The film’s nonsequential timeline is reminiscent of Pulp Fiction (1994) but far less comprehensible and not nearly as enjoyable. Pulp Fiction presents its story in a deliberate order, controlling the action and tension to maximize the film’s effect. Sin City gives the impression of randomness without cause. During the Pulp Fiction scene when John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson sit down for breakfast after being hosed down by Harvey Keitel we know that Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer are in the diner and the tension builds as we wait for the chaos to begin. But in Sin City, we see Elijah Wood in a scene even though we already witnessed his death. The problem is that knowing about the previous scene does not add any tension to the later scene like it does in Pulp Fiction.

Part of the plot problems stem from the film’s base in an expanded comic universe which does not serve the story well at times as it cannot hope to contain all the stories of the graphic novels. But the film never sets out to be judged on story alone and puts all its money on style. And the bet pays off in the long run as it is still relevant today especially with its highly anticipated sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For coming out soon. It will be interesting to see how the sequel treats its storyline and uses updated visual effects technology but there’s little reason to believe the newest Sin City will be drastically different from the original and will awe us with its visuals while leaving narrative content to be desired.

Rating: 7/10. The sequences with Marv at the beginning of the movie earn a 9/10. After that I found the stories less interesting and the visuals no longer as exciting.

Where to see it: On the best HD TV you can find.

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part IV: GROOT!

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by artist Mike Mitchell

Because, seriously, is Groot is the cutest anthropomorphic tree ever or what?! I LOVE GROOT! :-)

See these fabulous pieces plus loads more fantastic artwork featuring Groot & Rocket at this link: Dorkly. Oh, and go see Guardians Of The Galaxy if you haven’t already because it’s AWESOME! You can read my review HERE.

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by artist Miru

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by artist Meador

TRON: Legacy (2010) Review

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TRON: Legacy (2010)

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Garrett Hedlund
Olivia Wilde
Bruce Boxleitner
Michael Sheen

Music by Daft Punk

Running time: 127 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A sequel to the 1982 science fiction film Tron, the story follows Flynn’s (Jeff Bridges) son Sam (Garrett Hedlund), who responds to a message from his long-lost father and is transported into a virtual reality called the Grid, where Sam, his father, and the algorithm Quorra (Olivia Wilde) stop the malevolent program CLU from invading the human world.

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My Opinion:

Let’s keep this short – I’m extremely behind on reviewing things (6 books & 23 movies. Ugh). I enjoyed this movie. Quite a lot! I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything (I don’t even remember it that well). My hubby is the expert on these films. He loves the original and, oh my god, when he found out there was going to be a sequel AND that Daft Punk would be doing the soundtrack?! He was in HEAVEN. He should be writing this! Oh well – you’re stuck with me and my total lack of TRON knowledge.

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I kind of didn’t know WHAT the hell was going on in this thing. I’m sure the hubby was sick of me asking him questions as we watched this. In the end, I decided to just enjoy the ride & not worry about the story. I’m not saying this was all style over substance – I’m saying I was probably just too stupid for it. It really was fun to watch, though. I loved the look of the whole thing (and the look of Garrett Hedlund, yes…). Olivia Wilde was also absolutely gorgeous in this & I’ve never thought that about her before – this look really suits her. Look at these beautiful people!:

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So… The movie looks awesome and the people are beautiful and there’s crazy sci-fi shit going on and I love sci-fi more than anything even though I’m a complete idiot and it’s always over my head. But then, to top it all off, we get the DAFT PUNK SOUNDTRACK. Yes! Loved it. Loved it so much! The music in a movie is very important to me and, when it’s right, it makes me love the movie even more. Yeah, I’m probably going to give this movie a higher rating than it deserves thanks to Daft Punk…

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Summary: (sort of)

You know what? I don’t know what to say. Woohoo! Worst review EVER! Basically, I thoroughly enjoyed TRON: Legacy even though I know it’s not a very good movie overall. Oh well – we all have our guilty pleasures. Plus Garrett Hedlund is a hottie.

My Movie Rating: 7/10

My Soundtrack Rating: 8.5/10

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The Manchurian Candidate (1962) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Rob of MovieRob. He also reviewed Saving Private Ryan HERE. Thanks for the reviews, Rob! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about The Manchurian Candidate, IMDB rank 200 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, I’ve never thought to mention it but if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life. ” – Bennet Marco

Number of Times Seen – Between 5 – 10 times (cable in the 90’s, video, DVD, 28 Jan 2001 and 10 Aug 2014)

Brief Synopsis – An Army Captain has recurring nightmares of strange occurrences that possibly happened after his unit was ambushed while on patrol in Korea.

My Take on it – Frank Sinatra is mostly known for his singing career, but he also had an impressive run in the movies too.

Most people think that his best role was the one that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar in From Here to Eternity (1953), but I believe that this is his best performance.

This movie explores some amazing themes for a movie from the early 60’s.

Hypnotism and mind control wasn’t such a prevalent theme in mainstream thrillers at the time, but this film brought those ideas into the common lexicon of high standard movies.

To also add in a conspiracy theory theme at the peak of the Cold War was ingenious and the thrilling scenes just keep coming throughout the two hour plus running time.

The beginning of the movie is so important for understanding the rest of it, so make sure you pay close attention!

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This is unfortunately no longer on the current IMDB top 250 list, but it deserves to be back there because it is so well constructed.

I loved how they left the possible incestuous relationship very ambiguous leaving the decision up to the viewer regarding character motivations because it works well both ways.

Besides Sinatra, the rest of the cast are each nearly perfect in their respective roles.

Laurence Harvey plays the hero of Sinatra’s patrol who may or may not be under a foreign influence.

Janet Leigh is a woman who Sinatra meets and enlists help from in order to prove his theory of mind control.

And Angela Lansbury is at her best as Harvey’s mother who is very involved in politics and in EVERY aspect of her son’s life.

Solitaire anyone?????

Bottom Line – One of Sinatra’s best roles. Great conspiracy movie that unfolds nearly perfectly before our eyes. Highly recommended!

Rating – Oscar Worthy

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Platoon (1986) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! :-) Now let’s hear his thoughts on Platoon, IMDB rank 144 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

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The first casualty of war is innocence.

Charlie Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a green, fresh to arrive recruit in Vietnam.  Platoon follows Taylor and his company as they cope with the hardships of war, and the film brings back the reality of what went on over there to the big screen for the first time since Apocalypse Now (1979).

The unit breaks into two contrasting camps: one with Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes in total war and winning at any cost, and Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), who is battle-tested but gracious in contrast to Barnes.  Each side as plenty of support, and they battle,  as Taylor puts it, “for possession of my soul.”

Platoon features a whole slew of familiar faces (Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Tony Todd, Mark Moses), many of which were at the beginning of their careers.

A couple of things added to the authenticity of this film.  Oliver Stone’s experience in Vietnam, woven throughout the characters Taylor encounters, and the preparation the actors went through in making this film.  They trained for two weeks before filming began, building camaraderie as a unit, digging foxholes, encountering “night attacks” to get used to the special effects that would be used.  The familiarity these actors had with their weapons made the actions and emotion seem genuine.

The acting in this film is top-notch.  The characters evoke strong emotions in the audience: you either really like or really hate what a person says or does.  I found myself completely disgusted with some of the men in the Barnes camp as they abused and mistreated both Vietnamese peasants and their fellow soldiers.  An interesting commentary on this came from Taylor as he was airlifted out at the end of the film.  He describes that the Vietnamese weren’t the enemy, instead we were our own enemy.  There is a lot of killing, granted, but more of it being American killing American than one would expect.

I believe I’ve said it before, but Willem Dafoe is probably one of my favorite actors.  This film is one of the reasons for that opinion.  He is a strong, committed character whose performance I felt stood above all the others. I also found it interesting that he never wear a helmet.  Ever.  Tom Berenger, though I don’t agree with his characters outlook and way of carrying himself, brings that type of soldier to life and it fully committed to his character.

Charlie Sheen does very well in this movie as well.  The contrast and how quickly his idealized or unaware outlook at the beginning of the film is quickly shredded and almost gone by the end of the film.  He quickly loses the label of ‘new meat’ and becomes one of the guys.  His judgement and discernment remain, though, which is refreshing and relieving.

It’s interesting seeing John C. McGinley in a role like this after watching him at Dr. Cox on Scrubs, but hey that might just be me.

Platoon is considered one of the best films of the 1980s, it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1987.  It’s authenticity and superb acting both contribute largely to its success.  It’s one I enjoyed, and I’d definitely recommend seeing.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Happy Birthday To Chris Hemsworth

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Happy 31st Birthday to Chris Hemsworth!

I’m a big fan, Chris. I love you for your acting ability. I suppose you’re a decent looking fellow as well. I especially loved you in Rush. Keep up the good work, Chris! *kiss* *hug* *kiss* *another kiss* *kiss again*

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Earth To Echo (2014) Review

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Earth To Echo (2014)

Directed by Dave Green

Starring:
Teo Halm
Brian “Astro” Bradley
Reese C. Hartwig
Ella Wahlestedt

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help.

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My Opinion:

I was actually really looking forward to seeing this movie. There don’t seem to be many live-action family movies these days that are enjoyable for the whole family. A lot of “family” movies are aimed purely at the kids, who filmmakers seem to think are idiots so they dumb the movies down and throw in a bunch of childish humor. I have a confession to make: I really like Night At The Museum. It’s fun! I enjoyed it and kids enjoyed it. That’s what I mean by a good “family” movie. Remember things like Big? They used to make good live-action family movies like that all the time! I don’t know why there are so few these days. Anyway – that’s what I was hoping for from Earth To Echo. Unfortunately, it’s not a great movie overall (It’s no E.T.!) but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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I saw this in a packed cinema and the kids of around 8 or 9 or so really seemed to like it. They reacted positively to a lot of things and laughed several times at the likeable “geeky” boy. I think that kids who grow up with this movie will always be fond of it in the same way that people my age are fond of E.T. (I have to say this once again, though – this is no E.T.! I’ll probably say that again before this review is over). ;-)

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There are too many things “wrong” with this movie that stop it from being something that could ever be considered a family classic. The storyline is a bit weak, the pacing is off & it takes way too long for anything to really happen, they don’t show enough of the adorable Echo who should really be the star of the show, and I think making this a “found footage” film was a big mistake and means that it won’t be timeless like, I dunno… E.T.? Ha! There I go with E.T. again. Seriously, though – could you imagine if Spielberg had made that a found footage film (if, you know, that had been a thing back then…)?? Finally, Earth To Echo just tries too hard to be too many existing movies but doesn’t live up to any of them. It’s a weird mash-up of The Goonies, Chronicle, Batteries Not Included, Explorers, and, umm… E.T.!) ;-)

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Where Earth To Echo succeeds, however, is with the main characters of the three boys & their friendship. I found them very believable and they talked the way “real” kids talk and I can imagine them actually being friends in real life. They have very different personalities but they worked together really well. It’s a shame that the movie lets them down because I think they did a good job. Also, Echo is adorable! Like I said, though, they don’t show enough of him. I realize that this movie was focusing more on the friendship between the boys, however, and Echo is the thing that makes them even closer.

Summary:

Overall, Earth To Echo doesn’t quite work. I was really hoping for something better based on the trailers but at least there are some strong characters and a great little alien. I think people have been far too harsh on this movie, however – it’ll never live up to the classics it’s trying to be but it definitely has its good points. Kids will like it fine & adults won’t hate having to sit through it.

My Rating: 6/10

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Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part III

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For today’s Anthropomorphic post, I thought it would be fun to post this tribute to everyone’s favorite Disney live-action anthropomorphic car: Herbie the Love Bug. ;-) (and the cute art above comes from DeviantArt artist Zimeta HERE)

Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

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Here we are! My final list of the four started by the fabulous Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actors I Would Watch In Almost Anything HERE. This is a great thing you started, Abbi! I believe others have made similar lists so let me know if you want me to add your link. I know Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger also did her list of actors HERE. :-)

I did my most annoying actors & actresses last week but, surprisingly, it took THIS LIST of my favorite actresses to piss people off the most (yes – I grew up with Drew Barrymore & I love her. So sue me!). ;-) Thanks for all the wonderful comments on these – I’ll be replying to each & every one of you soon.

Now here are my Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order plus I’ve narrowed it down by only including living actors):

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Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Movie: The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Jack Nicholson
Best Movie: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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Morgan Freeman
Best Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

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Chris Hemsworth
Best Movie: Rush

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Tom Hardy
Best Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

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Michael Caine
Best Movie: The Prestige

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David Bowie
Best Movie: The Prestige but I also love Labyrinth & The Man Who Fell To Earth

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Christoph Waltz
Best Movie: Django Unchained

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Michael Fassbender
Best Movie: Shame (is he wearing an Iron Maiden shirt?? We’re meant to be!) ;-)

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Ian McKellen
Best Movie: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

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Patrick Stewart
Best Movie: X2 or Star Trek: First Contact

**That’s 11 but Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart count as one! ;-)

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from MIB of MIB’s Instant Headache. He previously reviewed this film HERE. Thanks for joining in, MIB! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about It’s A Wonderful Life, IMDB rank 30 out of 250…

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**WARNING: SPOILERS (but everyone has seen this, right?!) :-)

It’s A Wonderful Life

US (1946) Dir. Frank Capra

Confession time: despite this being an all time classic that regularly appears near the top of every “Greatest Ever Films” poll and is as much a pre-requisite at Christmas as turkey and presents, this is my first time viewing this film. I know, that is regarded as heresy for a film buff but I’m sure we all have some skeletons in our film viewing closets.

As we all know the plot revolves around a man named George Bailey (James Stewart) who has reached the end of his tether on Christmas Eve after a life time of doing everything for the people of his home town of Bedford Falls. With his family business on the brink of collapse and a possible jail term staring him in the face, George decides the best thing for his family is to disappear for good. As his friends and family all pray to a higher power to give George a break, an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers), who has yet to earn his wings, is sent down to talk George out of killing himself by showing him what life in Bedford falls would have been like had he not existed.

By the time this film arrived in 1946, Frank Capra had already built himself a reputation as one of Hollywood’s top directors, having conquered Tinsel Town with such notable hits as It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1938) which also starred James Stewart. However it is this bittersweet Christmas tale, based on the short story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern, that remains his most regarded and enduring and influential work – often imitated but never duplicated – which surprisingly was not a box office hit.

The story is actually much deeper than any synopsis suggests, with the bulk of the 130 minute run time spent looking back over George’s life, by way of an introduction for Clarence to his client. George is a good guy even from his early days, demonstrated when as young boy he lost the hearing in his left ear after saving his younger brother Harry from drowning. Later on he stops his drugstore boss Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner) from accidentally poisoning a customer. When he turned 21 George was about to go college then travel around the world but the death of his father (Samuel S. Hinds) placing him in charge of their loan business Building and Loan, putting him at odds with the majority shareholder and local moneybags Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), a grizzled and self-centred old man with a long standing grudge against the Bailey family.

Clarence doesn’t appear until the third act by which time, George has married his childhood sweetheart Mary (Donna Reed), had four kids and made many sacrifices to keep the business alive. Meanwhile everyone else has achieved the one thing that George always dreamed of: leaving Bedford Falls and seeing the world. Younger brother Harry (Todd Karns) becomes a war hero while best friend Sam Wainwright (Frank Albertson) makes his fortune in plastics, an investment opportunity George turned down! Via duplicity and pernicious manipulation Potter holds George accountable over the absence of $8000 from the company books, pushing him to his wits end. This leads to the Scrooge-esque travel to an alternate reality to help snap George out of his depressive and fatalistic funk.

Admittedly this doesn’t sound like the recipe for a feelgood Christmas movie – then again neither does A Christmas Carol – although the Christmas aspect is only pertinent for the finale rather than the plot as a whole, fundamentally making this is a film for all seasons, even though it seems to have latched onto the Christmas TV schedule (especially in the US) so it has morphed into a “Christmas film”. Everything else is universal in its themes, with the main moral of the story appearing to reinforce the old adage about nice guys finishing last. And for the most part this is the case until the final act flips the whole story on its head to deliver the now iconic happy ending to stop us from joining George from jumping off that bridge.

With years of hype behind this film prior to my seeing it, I had a concern I may not enjoy it or understand why it has become such an evergreen treasure for film buffs. Thankfully I needn’t have been concerned. Firstly the story is so incredibly well crafted, almost ahead of its time, and has a timeless core idea that it could have been set in any timeframe (but don’t tell Hollywood that – we don’t need a modern remake thank you!), making it so relatable to any generation. Secondly Frank Capra clearly has a vision beyond that of any other director of the time you care to name to make this work as a whimsical piece of comedy drama, giving equal weight to both facets rather than pandering to one over the other for commercial appeal.

Thirdly – James Stewart. Could anyone else have taken the role? Cary Grant? Spencer Tracy? Clark Gable? James Cagney? Stewart has a difficult character to inhabit with so many layers to him. Aside from expecting us to believe that the then 38 year-old Stewart was a 21 year old student in the first act (yes really!), his performance is flawless and imbued with the requisite sense of humanity and humility, attacking the role with a perceptive energy and commitment required for such a character that is rarely off screen. He is supported by some of the finest character actors of the time, headed by the legendary Lionel Barrymore, who is almost Churchillian in his portrayal as the malevolent antagonist Mr. Potter.

So, is It’s A Wonderful Life worthy of the high esteem, lofty plaudits and classic status in which it revels? Quite simply – yes! I’m just kicking myself for having waited so long to see it!

Top Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

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Okay – it was fun bitching about my most hated actors & actresses last week but now it’s time to do another list that Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are has done. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actresses That I’d See In Pretty Much AnythingHERE. So here’s my own list of actresses I love. (Yes – I do love Drew Barrymore!). :-)

With my favorite actors list, I’ve had to narrow it down by only including living actors so I’ve done the same here. Otherwise, Grace Kelly would be on this list. Now here are The Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order…):

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Amy Adams
Best Movie: Her or Catch Me If You Can but she was lovely in Junebug

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Emily Blunt
Best Movie: Edge Of Tomorrow but I also love The Adjustment Bureau

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Melanie Laurent
Best Movie: Inglourious Basterds

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Jennifer Lawrence
Best Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Drew Barrymore
Best Movie: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial but I also love The Wedding Singer & Whip It

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Chloe Grace Moretz
Best Movie: Hugo

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Sandra Bullock
Best Movie: Gravity but I do love Speed. (Gravity helped to put Bullock back on this list. But I still wouldn’t watch that thing she did with Melissa McCarthy. Damn! I missed her on my “Most Annoying” list…

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Carey Mulligan
Best Movie: Shame but she was better in Never Let Me Go. (If I’ve forgotten someone, Carey Mulligan would be the first one replaced. I found her disappointing in Shame and beyond bland in The Great Gatsby. Hopefully she’ll have another good role soon…)

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Elisabeth Shue
Best Movie: Adventures In Babysitting

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Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Movie: Ladyhawke

Question Of The Month At Oracle Of Film

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I’ve participated in another Question Of The Month for the lovely Luke over at Oracle Of Film. This month’s question was “What was the best TV season of 2014?”. See a wide variety of great answers HERE. :-)

**FYI – I’m sure my answer would have been Game Of Thrones but I’m only halfway through Season 2 at the moment. Therefore, I can’t even read Luke’s post because I have to avoid spoilers!!! Sorry, Luke – I have to skip reading this one… ;-)

Donnie Darko (2001) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Liam of Liam Does Film. Thanks for joining in, Liam! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Donnie Darko, IMDB rank 176 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

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Donnie Darko (2001)

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Those who have said bad things about this film have just not understood it. Donnie Darko is that film where you’ll find yourself watching it over and over looking for the explanation; on the way you will then discover just how good this film is and why it’s rated as one of the best of all time, deservedly being on IMBD’s top 250, among many critics, including myself, personal favourites. It has an amazing cast; a young Jake Gyllenhaal plays the character of Donnie, after he will star in award winning films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Day After Tomorrow. Future Batman star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake’s actual sister, plays Elizabeth Darko whilst we also get to see the well-known Patrick Swayze alongside Drew Barrymore. However it isn’t just the cast, a well-written story which dives into the world of complexity and defines the phrase thought-provoking, makes Donnie Darko hard to forget, and for me it is simply brilliant in every aspect and sense of the word.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a far from ordinary teenager, suffering from hallucinations Donnie starts to be visited by a demonic six foot rabbit named Frank, who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, however Frank’s arrival into Donnie’s life is more important than first thought. At the dinner table his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) tells his parents (Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne) that he hasn’t been taking his medication, however later that night due to these visions Donnie escapes death as a 747 Jet engine crashes and destroys his bedroom whilst he’s on a midnight trip with Frank. Frank tells him that the world is going to end in “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds”, The mystery grows as the jet engine is unknown by the FBI creating the question of where exactly did it come from? All that is known is that Donnie’s escape from death and Frank’s appearance are two supernatural events that have crossed and are somehow linked, and as Donnie is enlightened to a whole new way of thinking, he then realises the truth behind Frank’s words.

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The story fuels from a “countdown” method, as each day passes we get closer to a predicted doomsday. However it is what the film gives us in those days that are great, not only are a string of relationships and subplots introduced but a series of clues in which just like Donnie, we have to piece together. As stories develop our characters all become very likable, something that Donnie Darko benefits from greatly, Donnie himself is loveable; lost, bold and witty, whilst the same aspects are all shared by his sister Elizabeth, newly found girlfriend Gretchen (Jena Malone) and his English teacher played by the seemingly ageless Drew Barrymore. The film keeps you on the edge, with a mixture of unexpected, dark plots balanced by strangely comedic moments. Richard Kelly for me deserves a huge amount of credit, as Donnie Darko holds such an amazing story.

Jake Gyllenhaal soon became one of my favourite actors after his role as Donnie; it is flawless, creating and portraying one of the most memorable teen characters for me since Ferris Bueller. There is something very likable but at the same time relatable with his character and Jake brings it to life superbly. The rest of the cast are great, Jena Malone portrays Gretchen well with it seeming very natural, whilst also providing one of the memorable quotes and scenes, “you’re weird … that was a compliment”. Drew Barrymore as Donnie’s English teacher is great, she provides a laughable aspect, whilst Patrick Swayze portrays the not so lovable Jim Cunningham well as you would expect of such talent, rounding off a truly remarkable ensemble; which even includes a hidden Seth Rogen.

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This film does well to provide everything from comedy moments to suspense, thrills and gasps fulfilling so many aspects with even the soundtrack becoming an iconic element. Maybe when watched a few times you seem to pick up on Kelly’s details, and the soundtrack is brilliant as each song and piece of score predicts what’s happening next or compliments the events on the screen. The songs of choice all seem very fitting too, with Mad World becoming nostalgic after time.

Donnie Darko should be known for a long time to come, and hopefully it will be as Richard Kelly’s first film shines in every way it could have. A brilliant story, portrayed by a great acting ensemble, whilst everything else fitting perfectly around the two makes Donnie Darko in my eyes flawless, and my favourite film of all time. Entertaining, thrilling and funny, complex and thought-provoking are some of the things this film can be described as, but overall it is a master-piece which will be sure to be your favourite, or your new obsessive guilty pleasure, deservedly being rated as one of the all-time greats.

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Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014) Review

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Guardians Of The Galaxy (2014)

Directed by James Gunn

Starring:
Chris Pratt
Zoe Saldana
Dave Bautista
Vin Diesel
Bradley Cooper
Lee Pace
Michael Rooker
Karen Gillan
Djimon Hounsou
John C Reilly
Glenn Close
Benicio del Toro

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a group of extraterrestrial misfits who are on the run after stealing a coveted orb. (Thank you, Wikipedia – that was very brief!)

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My Opinion:

If I don’t keep this short like I did with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, I’ll never get around to writing it. I thoroughly enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy. A lot. Like with all comic book movies, I have zero knowledge of any of these characters beyond what I’ve seen of them in all these films. As far as “superhero” characters go, I totally bought into these – raccoon & walking tree & all. That’s always what’s most important to me in any film. If I don’t buy into at least one character, it feels like a complete waste of my time. I loved these misfits. Who DOESN’T like a group of loveable misfits? That’s why this movie is such a huge success already.

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Hmm. What else? Groot. I loved Groot! I want my own Groot!!! Chris Pratt & Zoe Saldana were both great. Chris Pratt means nothing to me – No, I’ve not seen this Parks And Recreation thingamabob and I prefer it that way as Peter Quill is all he’ll be to me. Even Bradley Cooper was perfect & he gets on my nerves sometimes. I loved the relationship that formed between these characters.

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Summary:

Guardians Of The Galaxy is just a really really “fun” movie. Yes, I love all the Marvel movies but I really appreciated this slight departure from the seriousness of recent Marvel films. These are comic books! Have some fun! I loved the humor in Guardians Of The Galaxy and think it all worked perfectly. The story was still good, too, and I cared about what would happen to everyone. Maybe it was all a little predictable overall but what movie like this isn’t? This movie made me happy and kept me entertained but also managed to have fantastic characters and genuinely funny moments. Oh – and an awesome soundtrack! This old lady was loving THAT. Bowie! Moonage Daydream, baby! Oh, and of course the scene after the credits… Lol. Stay for that if you want but only those of a certain age will truly appreciate it. I’m of a certain age. ;-)

So, basically, I pretty much loved this movie. Yep.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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** There are some fantastic alternate posters out there for this movie! The one I used above is by Matt Ferguson. Also love the two below by Matt Needle & Doaly. See links to these posters & more here: io9.

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Top Ten Actors Who Annoy Me

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Here we are with another list first started by the amazing Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. You can see her list, “The Top Ten Actors Who Irrationally Annoy The Shit Out Of MeHERE. :-) I did the list of my most annoying actresses HERE so now it’s time for the boys. Then next week I’ll be all nice with lists of my favorite actors & actresses (but hate is so much more fun…). ;-) And I’ll actually get around to replying to all your great comments on these soon! Sorry – it’s been a very hectic week!

So here are my Top Ten Actors Who Annoy Me:

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Tom Cruise
Best Movie: Top Gun (but Edge Of Tomorrow was surprisingly good!)

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John Travolta
Best Movie: Carrie or Pulp Fiction

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Christian Bale
Best Movie: The Prestige

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Robert Pattinson
Best Movie: Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire

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Shia LaBeouf
Best Movie: Disturbia

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Sacha Baron Cohen
Best Movie: Hugo

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Nicolas Cage
Best Movie: Fast Times At Ridgemont High

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Vin Diesel
Best Movie: The Iron Giant (and now that I’ve seen it, also Guardians Of The Galaxy)

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Chris Pine
Best Movie: Star Trek Into Darkness

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Steven Seagal
Best Movie: No idea – I don’t have a penis

**List likely to change as I’ll have forgotten a bunch of annoying people like I did with the actresses. Would love to hear from all of you on who you hate the most. I seriously will reply when I get a spare second! :-)