I Origins (2014) Review

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I Origins (2014)

Directed by Mike Cahill

Starring:
Michael Pitt
Brit Marling
Astrid Berges-Frisbey
Steven Yeun
Archie Panjabi
William Mapother
Cara Seymour

Running time: 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB):
A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.

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My Opinion:

Has anyone else seen this? Has anyone even heard of it?? Well, it showed up at a cinema near me & I liked the sound of it after reading that it was another Brit Marling film (written & directed by the same guy who directed Another Earth & co-wrote the script for that one with her). I quite liked Another Earth so the hubby & I went to this one today and we were the ONLY ones watching it. Don’t you love it when that happens?? :-)

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As far as Brit Marling films go, I liked I Origins a lot more than Sound Of My Voice (which I reviewed HERE). But did I like it better than Another Earth?? Hmm… I think I actually did. It’s very similar to the style and the sort of themes explored in Another Earth. I think. You know, I’m not one to really think TOO hard about movies and I’m terrible about noticing things like symbolism and all that. Luckily, I had the hubby with me today to point out a lot of things that I’d have otherwise missed in this movie and it helped me to appreciate the film a bit more (but don’t tell him I said that). I especially liked his theories on the lift (elevator to you Americans). Maybe I’ll further explore all that in my mind. First, though, I need some lunch as I haven’t had anything other than popcorn!

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Let’s see… I’m not sure how much to say about this movie as I think it’s really best to not spoil it in any way. As you can tell by the pictures (and the poster), eyes are very important to the plot. Michael Pitt & Brit Marling are scientists who research the evolution of eyes (to put it very basically – there’s a bit more to it but that was all a bit over my head). There’s a lot of talk of God vs Science and all that. This is very “indie”, though, so it won’t be for everyone. It’s a “sci-fi drama” and, just like Another Earth, uses sci-fi more as the backdrop while it’s actually exploring human relations and how we’re so different yet so connected. I’m going to wrap this up now because I probably don’t really know what I’m talking about.

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Summary:

If you’re a patient person who likes an intriguing story that takes its time exploring the characters and throwing a lot of symbolism out there before getting a bit more in-depth as to what the movie is REALLY about, you might like this. If you hate indie films and you weren’t a fan of Another Earth, it’s unlikely that you’d enjoy this movie. It’s very slow-paced, yes. But, as much as I love having a cinema to myself, I’m sad to see movies like these go so unnoticed. I KNEW we’d be the only ones watching this film today. Yet I dread to think how many people will be at that same cinema watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when it finally comes out here. It’s a sad world we live in…

I recommend this to fans of Another Earth for sure. Overall, I think I even preferred I Origins to that film as I liked the story and characters a bit more. Hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to see it as I believe it’s a pretty limited release in the UK right now as well as in America back in July.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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October HORROR FEST starting tomorrow at Cinema Parrot Disco!

Okay – it won’t be much of a “fest” but it’ll hopefully be a bit of fun for the few people who occasionally stop by on this blog. :-) Last year I did this whole “Halloween Horror Fest” where I reviewed several horror movies based on other bloggers’ reviews that I’d liked. This year I’ll just be doing random horror movie reviews but I’ll try to review as many as possible for all of October. So, other than reviewing new releases that I go to in the cinema in October (I’m hoping to see Gone Girl Thursday & post a review for it Friday), it’ll be ALL HORROR, baby! Well, except for maybe one that’s more of a thriller, one that’s a dark fantasy, and one that’s more of an “alien invasion comedy” that my hubby insists I can’t post during my horror month. But, hey – my blog, my rules!

Here’s a little bit about what’s in store for this month:

IMDB Top 250 Reviews: I’m starting these up again next week but will only be posting one each Tuesday. For October, I have four Top 250 reviews of films that should fit in okay during my month of scary movies.

CPD Classics: Remember these? I used to sometimes review all-time favorites of mine or favorites that I just felt needed highlighting as they aren’t that well known. Several of these will be popping up throughout this month so I can talk about some of my favorite horror films (including my top two). But only some – I need to leave some for me to do next October just in case I’m actually still blogging then.

Zombie Fridays: Starting next week, I’ll post a review of a zombie movie every Friday for the rest of the month. Two are classics and two are their remakes – I thought it would be fun to compare them.

That’s it, folks! Nothing too special planned but I hope you enjoy my horror reviews and perhaps discover one you’d never heard of and would like to check out. I know that’s one of the things I love most about blogging – discovering new movies through the reviews posted on all the great blogs here. :-)

The Giver (2014) Review

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The Giver (2014)

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Based on The Giver by Lois Lowry

Starring:
Jeff Bridges
Meryl Streep
Brenton Thwaites
Alexander Skarsgård
Odeya Rush
Katie Holmes
Taylor Swift

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Jonas is an 11 (soon to be 12) year old boy in a future where there is no war, suffering or pain. He and his family unit follow strict rules within their community including things such as the precision of language and the sharing of feelings and dreams. Everyone is assigned a role in life at the Ceremony of Twelve and no one is more surprised than Jonas when, at his ceremony, he’s selected as the next Receiver of Memory. During his training, he starts to discover that his community may not be as perfect as it seems.

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My Opinion:

I’ve just read & reviewed this book HERE (and was lazy & used my same plot synopsis). As always, THE BOOK IS BETTER! I mean, sometimes the film adaptations are okay. However, I was really disappointed with this one so, seriously – please read the book if you have any interest in this story! It’s a quick read. They changed A LOT of details for the movie & made a fairly simple story too over complicated.

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As yet another teenage dystopian film, The Giver is okay. It will probably seem boring to teens, though, as it’s not exactly as exciting or action packed as The Hunger Games. I knew they’d do this but it still pissed me off – they added loads of action that wasn’t in the book and gave small characters WAY bigger and more important roles (Meryl Streep’s character has a small part at the start of the book then you never hear from her again plus the two friends aren’t all that significant). It annoyed me as it’s so obvious they’re trying to compete with Divergent, etc, but the book is a lot more subtle and I think the story works much better without all the movie’s added drama (and romance that every teen film seems to require).

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Okay – Focus! Just talk about the movie…

Let’s see – I did like the Pleasantville black & white thing with added bits of color as the story went on. Don’t think that’s a spoiler as it’s obvious from the trailers (yes, it’s that way in the book too). I was looking forward to that aspect (I did love that in Pleasantville) but I didn’t think the movie handled it quite right all the time. The boy isn’t at all what I pictured & they changed an important thing about his looks as described in the book. Jeff Bridges is okay but more “gruff” and bitter than I’d expected. I hated Katie Holmes’ character and hated how they turned it into a story more about Jonas & his two friends whereas in the book the focus is much more on his family unit & the child they’re taking care of (Gabriel). Dammit! This is impossible. I clearly can’t discuss this movie without constantly comparing it to the book. I give up. JUST READ THE BOOK! :-)

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Summary:

The Giver has a simple yet powerful story that I felt got lost in all the extra scenes they somehow felt necessary to add into the movie to keep teenage audiences interested. Give teenagers a LITTLE credit & don’t just assume they can’t think for themselves. The movie takes the one main theme & shoves it down the viewers’ throats whereas the book presents things in a way that gives the reader the ability to make up their own mind about things. I feel that the movie leaves no room for discussion afterwards and the ending of the movie is a big disappointment compared to the excellent ending in the book. I really have no idea what to rate this movie as, if I’d NOT read the book, I think I’d have quite enjoyed it. However, knowing that the story is told in a much better way in the book does annoy me. Hmm. The movie is decent enough, I guess. Just do me a favor & read the book first? Please??

My Rating: 6/10

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Sorry – this was a rubbish post! I was actually planning on taking a short break from blogging & leaving My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies as my last post for a while. Go read that HERE instead – that was fun to put together! I’ll start up the reviews again through October with as many horror movies & scary films as I can manage. :-)

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Book Review)

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

What It’s About:

Jonas is an 11-year-old boy in a future where there is no war, suffering or pain. He and his family unit follow strict rules within their community including things such as the precision of language and the sharing of feelings and dreams. Everyone is assigned a role in life at the Ceremony of Twelve and no one is more surprised than Jonas when, at his ceremony, he’s selected as the next Receiver of Memory. During his training, he starts to discover that his community may not be as perfect as it seems.

My Thoughts:

I’ll be honest and admit that I’d never even HEARD of this book before seeing that there would be a movie coming out but it appears that it was quite a famous (and somewhat controversial) one. Published in 1993, I was just too old for it. After spending my pre-teens reading Sweet Valley High then moving onto Christopher Pike, I discovered Stephen King around 12 or 13 and read nothing but him for years. The Giver is a good one, though – I wish there’d been more “dystopian future” YA books when I was young so I could have grown up with those instead of just things like Sweet Valley High (not that I’m dissing Sweet Valley High. It ruled! I even wrote to Francine Pascal & got a SVH audio book in return). ;-) I know the dystopian thing is WAY overdone when it comes to YA fiction these days but, believe me, there wasn’t much of it for us 80’s kids.

It’s a shame that The Giver will be seen as “just another dystopian YA book” now. I’ve only read some of the more current ones, such as The Hunger Games, but The Giver strikes me as being much more simple and aimed at a younger age than the current YA type of books (I’d say maybe ages 9 or 10 to early teens?). I don’t mean “simple” in a bad way, though. I think some of the current stuff can be a bit overblown and, as much as I loved the first two Hunger Games books, the final one was a bit over the top and I found it very disappointing. If I had a pre-teen kid, I’d start them off with The Giver as their introduction to these types of books and it’s one I’d be very happy to have them read as I think it teaches some basic yet important lessons in a way that’s easy for them to understand. It doesn’t overdo things – it actually leaves plenty of things up to the reader to decide and I’m sure makes for some very good discussion (I know it’s apparently read in a lot of schools). Basically, and I’ve said this before, The Giver is Brave New World plus a bit of Fahrenheit 451 for pre-teens and I don’t see that as a bad thing at all. I love things like Brave New World and 1984 and I think The Giver is a great introduction to books like those. I’d highly recommend it to kids of today (or to their parents to encourage their kids to read it) as I think it’s more suitable for them than a lot of current YA fiction seems to be. I can understand why it won the Newbery Medal and is seen as a bit of a modern classic.

Summary:

I realize I haven’t discussed the actual story or characters in this book at all. Jonas is by far the most developed character but, being a fairly short children’s book, we don’t get much character development with anyone. The story is what’s more important here and I found it a solid story that effectively gets its point across and also manages a “good ending” that stays with you (in my opinion – but I won’t go into that at all as I always try to avoid any spoilers). Some may be critical of it being over simplistic but I find that a bit ridiculous as it’s aimed at a pre-teen audience. I also JUST watched the movie a few hours ago, which I’ll try to review over the next few days. I know I’ve not gone into much detail but movie reviews are really more my thing – I’m sure I’ll be discussing things much more in the movie review. All I’ll say about it for now is: READ THE BOOK INSTEAD!!! I highly recommend this book to pre-teens, their parents, and people like me who still enjoy a decent story no matter what age it may be aimed at.

My Rating: 4/5

My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies

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Has anyone done a list of their top ten carpets & rugs in movies yet?? I can’t find one! Anyway – this came about as the hubby & I were discussing my number one on this list (a movie I’m pretty obsessed with). He doesn’t love it the way I do & part of my argument as to why it’s so awesome is because of THE CARPET! So….

Here are My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies:

10. The Pink Panther

The lovely Claudia Cardinale on a weird tiger-rug. Guess it’s a little more sexy than that picture of Burt Reynolds on the bearskin rug…

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9. The Machinist

Super skinny Christian Bale has a super hard time with a dead body in a rug (Don’t worry – that’s not really a spoiler as it’s the opening scene).

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8. American Hustle

Hey look – it’s Christian Bale again! Except this time he’s fat & and he has an even more problematic rug…

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7. The Money Pit

Who doesn’t love Tom Hanks?! (Other than Abbi…). Here’s poor Tom stuck in a rug after falling through a hole in the floor of his “money pit” house.

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6. Trainspotting

Ewan McGregor sinks into this rug in a drug-fuelled haze while the excellent Lou Reed song Perfect Day plays. Great scene!

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5. Aladdin

Come on! You know the magic carpet from Aladdin needs to be on this list… :-)

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4. The Big Lebowski

Again – you knew this one would be on the list!

The Dude: “That rug really tied the room together.”

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3. A Nightmare On Elm Street

Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to get away from Freddy Krueger and your carpeted stairs suddenly turn into some sort of gooey quicksand? Poor Nancy! Still, it was probably better than getting licked by the Freddy-phone.

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2. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Chewbacca – the greatest walking-carpet-sidekick ever!

Princess Leia: “Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?”

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1. The Shining

There is no other possible number one for this list. The Shining is responsible for bringing us the creepiest carpet in the history of film.

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Next Week: CURTAINS!

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Not really… ;-)

Honorable Mention: I couldn’t find a picture of it to use but I like Gru’s pandaskin rug in one of my favorite movies of recent years -Despicable Me

Now, I think the only proper way to end this post is with a song from Nick Rivers:

Unforgiven (1992) IMDB Top 250 Review

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Unforgiven (1992)

IMDB Rank: 93 out of 250

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring:
Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Richard Harris
Frances Fisher

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming. A dark Western that deals frankly with the uglier aspects of violence and how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West.

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My Opinion:

I always thought this was a cool Metallica video…

Hey – It’s me! Finally doing another IMDB Top 250 review myself. And I’m here with another WESTERN! Ugh. The two things I’d been dreading most from the Top 250: War movies & Westerns. Well, the war movies have turned out to be really good (The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Great Escape being my favorites). I’ve only reviewed two Westerns so far and…. they were pretty damn good as well! (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and especially Once Upon A Time In The West, which I liked quite a bit and will keep comparing to Unforgiven throughout this review). So, is Unforgiven as good as these? Umm… No. It’s okay but I’m not sure if it should quite be up there with the classics.

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I’ll repeat, though, that this has never been a genre I’ve been into so I wasn’t as likely to enjoy it as much as some would. This is one that Eric of The IPC loves and he begged me to let him review it here but, unfortunately, I have to work through the Top 250 that I’ve never seen and review them myself. For a more positive review, you can read his HERE. (Plus he MAY be reviewing a Western classic on his site tomorrow that I enjoyed far more than Unforgiven). ;-)

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I think what didn’t work for me here is that Unforgiven felt too “modern”. I have very little experience with Westerns but what I HAVE seen have all been from the 80’s or later (Back To The Future III & City Slickers are awesome! Lol). After seeing one Leone film, I’m thinking that spaghetti Westerns may be more my style & I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of them. Maybe I’ll prefer a young Clint Eastwood in something like The Good, The Bad & The Ugly? Once Upon A Time In The West just felt & looked so grand and epic (and, my god, that amazing SCORE…). I didn’t get that sort of feeling from Unforgiven although I’m sure the filmmaking was just as impressive (I won’t pretend to know anything about filmmaking). I don’t know. I admit that my mind wandered during both these Westerns (and I may have gotten bored and tweeted for a while) but Once Upon A Time In The West is the one that’s stuck with me more whereas I’m already struggling to remember much about Unforgiven and it’s only been a month since I watched it. Hmm.

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I’ll say that Clint Eastwood gives a good performance and I of course loved Morgan Freeman as always – I’d watch him in anything. Gene Hackman’s bad guy, though certainly a huge asshole, felt a little too one-dimensional to me. I’m also still a little confused as to what the point of the character played by Richard Harris was – it seemed an unnecessary role. As for everyone else, I don’t think any characters really stood out except for maybe Frances Fisher as a fairly feisty prostitute who wants the men who’ve hurt a fellow prostitute to pay for what they’ve done. Ah yes – prostitutes. Must be a Western! Seriously, is that all women were back then?!

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I was hoping to feel something more for the characters than I did. I did enjoy Eastwood & Freeman but didn’t QUITE feel a strong connection between them. As for the story, I found it a lot more simple than I was expecting. It’s pretty straight forward but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ll admit I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on in Once Upon A Time In The West. However, certain images and scenes from that one have really stuck with me and I can’t say the same of Unforgiven.

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Summary:

I didn’t mean to sound so negative in this review. Unforgiven is a good movie. Odds are, I’ll never LOVE a Western – they just aren’t my thing. I do have a lot of respect for Clint Eastwood as a director and actor, however, and he’s done a good job with both here. I enjoyed his scenes with Freeman and thought the ending was good. If you’re a fan of Westerns but for some reason haven’t seen this one, I’d recommend it. My ratings, as always, are based mostly on my personal feelings about the movie. If I were to rate this on worthiness alone, it would be higher.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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The Ten Most Iconic Female Movie Characters Blogathon

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I was nominated by my buddy Mike over at Screenkicker to carry on this wonderful “blogging relay” started by Dell On Movies (you can see the original post HERE plus the links showing all the participants and the changes this list has gone through HERE).

Here are Dell’s rules:

A list of 10 iconic female movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think she should not be on the list) and replacing it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned, that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger.

And this is the list that has been passed onto me:

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I love the idea of this blogathon as I’ve always felt there aren’t enough good roles for women in movies. I’ve thought about this for days and, the truth is, it was very hard to choose one as I think the majority of those I would choose are already (or have already been) on this list. You CANNOT beat Ellen Ripley or Princess Leia and I’ll now be following this blogathon closely to see if anyone dares to remove either of them. ;-)

I have a large list I worked from (I take these things very seriously!) and there were certain things I didn’t like about some of the characters on my list. Too often, women are portrayed as either:

1) crazy or
2) nymphomaniacs or
3) victims

Most of the characters on my list fell into at least one of these categories so I tried to not pick one who was just one of these things without there being a good reason for their character being that way or without the character making the best of their situation. For instance, Fatal Attraction is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine and Glenn Close gives a memorable performance but I’m certainly not going to choose a character that makes all us women look like irrational “psycho bitches”. The same goes for Kathy Bates in Misery.

I didn’t have any from “category 2″ on my working list but the number of female “victims” in movies is huge. It’s actually quite sad (look at horror movies – us poor women!). However, I think “victim” is sometimes fine as long as the character deals with it in the right way. Plus, it often gives the character more depth. So I’ve actually decided to remove & add characters who both fall into the category of “victim”.

I remove:

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And I add (one who was previously added then removed):

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My Reasoning:

I’ve read the first book & watched the first (original) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth is certainly a deep character and her look is very iconic. However, (and remember I only have knowledge of the first story), she’s such a thoroughly damaged character to the point that it made me uncomfortable. She LOOKS tough but she’s a complete mess inside. I know I should watch the rest of the films at some point but, based on what I know of her so far, I don’t think she belongs on a list with these all-time greats. Plus, I just don’t love the film – it feels very out of place when you see the classics on this list.

I like Tarantino’s films but none of them are exactly all-time favorites of mine. The Bride, however, is a great character and one I feel is worthy of being in a list of iconic female movie characters as I think she’ll still be thought of in 20 years time when similar lists to this are being made whereas I’m not sure Lisbeth Salander will be. I know Tarantino is always heavily influenced by older films and that The Bride will be an amalgamation of various characters but, hell – it works! The movie may be a little shallow but it’s good fun and, dammit, I LOVE seeing a female being the lead role in a violent action movie and seriously kicking some ass. She falls into the victim category but, unlike Lisbeth Salander, she gets her head together and does exactly what she sets out to do. Her look may also be borrowed from Bruce Lee but, again – it IS a great look. Who doesn’t instantly think of Uma in the yellow outfit when they hear the words “Kill Bill“? So… There you go. That’s my choice as I can’t choose Ellen Ripley. :-)

My Nomination:

Wow – that was all very wordy. Sorry about that! Don’t know what happened there. It’s time for me to shut up and pass the baton to another blogger. I choose an amazing female blogger who I am confident will make a great decision: Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Take it away, Zoe! You have one week. :-)

Oh, and can I just give a shoutout to one of my favorite “chick flicks”? I couldn’t choose just one of these women as I think they go together and shouldn’t be separated so I’m giving a shoutout to Thelma & Louise. They’re victims but, damn, they have good fun for a while! (Especially with the lovely Brad Pitt). ;-)

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Alphabet Attack: Movie Illustrations by Dave Crosland

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Check out these cool illustrations & more at Dave Crosland’s (aka King Gum’s) site here: Blogspot.

He calls this series “Alphabet Attack” and says this about it: “Each piece is titled after a letter of the alphabet, and themed by faves from science fiction, film, comics, and literature.” See the full article here: GeekTyrant. :-)

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Pulp Fiction (1994) 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 and The Manchurian Candidate HERE. Thanks for the reviews, Rob! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Pulp Fiction, IMDB rank 4 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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Quentin Tarantino showed the world was he was made of with his debut film Reservoir Dogs and that movie’s success led to this masterpiece getting proper funding.

His use of non-traditional methods of storytelling works extremely well here as he tells three interweaving stories in a very unconventional non-linear fashion.

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The fact that he was capable of securing so many great actors for this movie is a testament to how amazing his story and script are.

Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette are all excellent.

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I love how QT has always been able to take characters in non-conventional roles and write perfect conversation dialogue totally unrelated to their current situations making the characters seem more real than we thought possible.

The idea of having two hitmen discuss fast food in Europe while on their way to ‘work’ is brilliant.

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Truth is in many ways, QT’s written dialogue is what holds his stories together.

In the twenty years since this movie came out, I have found its dialogue to be so easily quotable.

Here’s a list of some great lines from this movie. In order to try and keep this spoiler free, I will omit what characters say each line.

  • Hamburgers. The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.
  • I don’t need you to tell me how ****ing good my coffee is, okay? I’m the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping she buys ****. Me, I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it I want to taste it. But you know what’s on my mind right now? It AIN’T the coffee in my kitchen, it’s the dead nigger in my garage.
  • That’s thirty minutes away. I’ll be there in ten.
  • It breaks down like this: it’s legal to buy it, it’s legal to own it, and, if you’re the proprietor of a hash bar, it’s legal to sell it. It’s legal to carry it, but that doesn’t really matter ’cause – get a load of this – if you get stopped by the cops in Amsterdam, it’s illegal for them to search you. I mean, that’s a right the cops in Amsterdam don’t have.
  • The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright, so he hid it, in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.
  • Bring out the Gimp.
  • Nobody’s gonna hurt anybody. We’re gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what’s Fonzie like? Come on Yolanda what’s Fonzie like?
  • That’s when you know you’ve found somebody special. When you can just shut the **** up for a minute and comfortably enjoy the silence.
  • Are you calling me on the cellular phone? I don’t know you. Who is this? Don’t come here, I’m hanging up the phone! Prank caller, prank caller!
  • Uuummmm, this is a tasty burger
  • Mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down with?
  • What now? Let me tell you what now. I’ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin’ niggers, who’ll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy? I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’ma get medieval on your ass.

2010

1994 was a very strong Oscar year and although this movie got 7 nominations including Best Picture, it only was able to win 1 award (Best Screenplay).

It’s hard to say if this is a better overall movie than Forrest Gump or Shawshank but it is clear that this movie has grown in appreciation over the last two decades.

This movie is currently #5 (but #4 when Mutant first started her list)  on the IMDB Top 250 and is definitely worthy of such a lofty position.

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The Boxtrolls (2014) Review

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The Boxtrolls (2014)

Directed by Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi

Based on Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

Starring:
Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Elle Fanning
Ben Kingsley
Toni Collette
Jared Harris
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost
Richard Ayoade
Tracy Morgan

Production company: Laika

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of an orphaned boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) who was raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collecting trolls called the Boxtrolls. The Boxtrolls are targeted by an evil exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) and Eggs has to save his family from Snatcher.

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My Opinion:

I’ll get straight to the point: I didn’t enjoy this one. At all. I really really wanted to! I thought it looked very promising. Last Halloween, I watched and reviewed ParaNorman and I liked that one a lot. However, I also fell asleep halfway through Coraline YEARS ago and never bothered to finish it, so… I guess that’s only 1 out of 3 Laika films I’ve liked so far. Hmm.

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I’ll give The Boxtrolls this: the stop-motion animation is amazing! I can’t fault that in the slightest. I also really liked the overall look & style of the movie. What I didn’t like, however, were the characters or the story so I really couldn’t buy into it all despite the boxtrolls themselves being pretty likeable. Unfortunately, they weren’t IN the movie enough. There was far more focus on the human characters than I was expecting and I got very bored when the boxtrolls weren’t onscreen. I could kind of take or leave the main boy in it (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) but I found the girl (Elle Fanning) quite annoying, especially her voice which I think just didn’t work for the character. Unfortunately, the rest of the human characters were even worse (although I suppose the baddie, Ben Kingsley, is at least a very memorable character). Seriously – The Boxtrolls needed more boxtrolls! I liked them just fine. Although I do this ALL the time when I watch a movie at home, I never do this when I go to the cinema: I fell asleep off & on somewhere in the middle of this thing when it was just the annoying human characters onscreen. Probably not a good sign… ;-)

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I’m not going to ramble on about this one. Is it bad? No. It just wasn’t for me. If you think it’s your type of thing or that your kids will like it, don’t let me talk you out of going to it. My hubby liked it FAR more than I did. The five-year-old with us also seemed to like it okay, so…. Maybe it IS just me! The movie is an odd one. As for the age it’s suitable for, it’s certainly not as scary as ParaNorman or Coraline, which I would never let a five-year-old watch. This one is aimed younger than those but I’d say kids would have to be six or seven for the most part to actually appreciate it and the main bad guy is probably far too scary for those under five or so. As always, though, every kid is different.

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Super Short Summary:

I just didn’t like this one. Sorry! Giving it a lower rating would be unfair, however, as I know it’s not “bad”. Based on ParaNorman, I’d still watch another film made by Laika. Awesome stop-motion animation, at the very least!

My Rating: 5/10

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Snatch (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. She’s already reviewed The Godfather: Part I (HERE) and Part II (HERE) as well as The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE). Thanks once again, Zoe – you’re doing way better on this project this year than I am! Wow! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about Snatch, IMDB rank 112 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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Yep yep, I am back to plague Miss Mutant here for her IMDB Top 250 Challenge. Definitely provided me with a whole lot of movies to go back to and watch again, though naturally some were enjoyed more than others. Nevertheless, Snatch is definitely a film I have been threatening to go back and watch again for years. I even went as far as to buy it and it has been languishing on my shelf ever since. When nobody selected it for this, I figured now was as good a time as any to get back to it.

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“Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins… LONDON.” Abraham “Cousin Avi” Denovitz

I am sure most of you have seen Snatch, right? Well, for those of you who haven’t, the best synopsis I could find was the following (pulled from Starpulse): “When a dizzying robbery takes place in the Orthodox Jewish diamond district, a flawless 86-carat gem, the size of an infant’s fist, is lifted in the snatch. Taking it to London, the diamond’s thief and courier, Franky Four Fingers arrives in the city as a stopover en route to New York to deliver the huge diamond to his bigwig crime boss, Avi. But because Franky can’t resist temptation and London is a town with its share of illegal trade, a small crowd of miscreants and malefactors eventually ends up chasing each other and the whereabouts of the diamond. These include: Doug the Head, a jeweller who pretends he’s Jewish because it’s good for business; Boris the Blade, a Russian gangster with a deserved reputation for being impossible to kill; Bullet Tooth Tony, a legendary hard guy and Brick Top, perhaps the scariest of the lot.”

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“I probably know a lot you don’t.” – Franky Four Fingers

Now that we have that out of the way, let us talk about the creation that Guy Ritchie put forth. To say that Snatch has a volume of characters as well as subplots all working their way back into the initial one is an understatement. So much is going on at any given moment that sometimes viewers may find themselves lost upon the way. But stick with it, it all comes together eventually. The cast was really good for what was done here, everyone suiting their character very well. I’m quite a Brad Pitt fan, and I must say his portrayal of Mickey was very funny, he was very entertaining. I also liked how he brought some dimension to the character other than just untrustworthy Pikey. He truly loved his mother, and his reaction to her brutal murder was intense, probably granting the movie its only serious scene, no way to laugh at it, which balanced things out nicely, though it would later give rise to humour again.

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“It’s an unlicensed boxing match. It’s not a tickling competition. These lads are out to hurt each other.” – Turkish

Jason Statham as Turkish and Stephen Graham as Tommy were just classic. Here were two guys that were just seriously not winning, no matter how hard they tried to get things to work for them. As bad as you think their luck is (and truly, it just gets worse and worse), they are easily topped by Vinny (Robbie Gee), his partner Sol (Lennie James), and Tyrone (Ade), their driver. While Turkish and Tommy have crime boss Brick Top (Alan Ford) on their case, the latter trio has Russian gangster Boris the Blade (Rade Šerbedžija) on their tails to track down Franky “Four-Fingers” (Benicio del Toro) and get his briefcase. Boris, in turn, has Abraham “Cousin Avi” Denovitz (Dennis Farina) chasing him down. The diamond has everyone circling themselves, desperate to get it, though initially not everyone is aware of it.

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“You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.”  – Bullet Tooth Tony

The humour works for this film, but I have a feeling a lot of what made this so smart and so witty back in the day may be lost to newer audiences, which is a pity, too, because it came together quite well. Be warned that the humour is rather British, too, and I liked that. The movie is fast, the dialogue snappy, and the events entertaining. Snatch is ultimately still a stylish flick, no matter which way you look at it. As much as I enjoyed this film again, it was not the best thing ever, and I didn’t love it as much as I did when I was younger, and I honestly feel there are far better films out there. If you haven’t checked out Snatch, I would still recommend it; you won’t be wasting your time.

Question Of The Month At Oracle Of Film

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I’ve participated in yet another Question Of The Month for the amazing Luke over at Oracle Of Film. This month’s question was “What Upcoming Movie Are You Most Anticipating Right Now?”. You can view my reply (which may be obvious from the above photo) and a bunch of other great answers HERE. :-)

Now, since answering that I’ve read about and seen a trailer for two pretty damn cool looking movies. One is called Ex Machina and it’s been directed by Alex Garland, the guy responsible for writing things like 28 Days Later & Sunshine and it sounds like the kind of sci-fi I love. Here’s a short plot synopsis from IndieWire (and you can read more at the link):

Ex Machina is an intense psychological thriller, played out in a love triangle between two men and a beautiful robot girl. It explores big ideas about the nature of consciousness, emotion, sexuality, truth and lies.

Then I saw the below trailer for Autómata and, damn – that looks good too! I do love sci-fi more than anything – Can’t wait to see all of these!

Bernie (2011) Review

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Bernie (2011)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring:
Jack Black
Shirley MacLaine
Matthew McConaughey

Running time: 99 minutes

Short Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In small-town Texas, an affable mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when she starts to become controlling, he goes to great lengths to separate himself from her grasp.

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My Opinion:

I wrote a review for this trying to remain totally spoiler free and giving no more information than what’s showing in the above plot synopsis. Well, this is one time that was pretty impossible to do so I’ve had to start over. I think most people know what this movie is about anyway as it’s based on a true story plus it was in the news again recently. So, to more easily discuss this, I’ll include a more detailed plot synopsis. So…

***Spoilers if you know nothing about the real life story & don’t want to***

I don’t think it spoils the movie as I already knew all this before seeing it and it made me more interested anyway. I’ll of course not say what happens at the end for anyone who doesn’t know the outcome. Wikipedia plot synopsis:

Bernie is a 2011 black comedy film based on a 1998 Texas Monthly magazine article by Skip Hollandsworth, “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas,” that chronicles the 1996 murder of 81-year-old millionaire Marjorie Nugent in Carthage, Texas by her 38-year-old companion, Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede. Tiede proved so highly regarded in Carthage that, in spite of having confessed to the police, the District Attorney was eventually forced to request a rare prosecutorial change of venue in order to secure a fair trial.

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As I said in my review of Boyhood, I’m a Richard Linklater fan. Not sure why it took me so long to get around to watching this one as I also love Jack Black. I know he’s a “love him or hate him” kind of guy but he’s perfect in this and he’s NOTHING like he is in other roles so, if you like the sound of the movie but don’t like him, you really should still check it out. Plus – Shirley MacLaine! I love her too! I wish she’d been in this one for a bit longer but it was still a big role. Matthew McConaughey is in the film less than I expected him to be but he’s also absolutely perfect as the District Attorney. All three are perfect – I honestly don’t think they could have done a better job choosing the cast for this film.

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This movie is indeed a black comedy. It’s weird to think that they made a black comedy out of a real-life murder. I can’t say I know how the real-life residents of the small town in which this occurred (Carthage, Texas) really feel about the movie (it’s touched on a little in the above Wikipedia link) but, as a form of entertainment, I think it works really well how they chose to present the story. Throughout the film, people from the town are “interviewed” about the murder and their thoughts on Marjorie Nugent & Bernie Tiede. Some are actors (including McConaughey’s real-life mother – she’s hilarious!) but apparently some are real people from Carthage. I loved these “interviews”, which were really just gossipy chats with small-town people. Being from a VERY small town myself, I could totally relate to these bits as everyone reminded me of various people from the little community where I grew up. I think adding this to the movie was a brilliant idea and it really made the film for me – they were quirky, likeable characters and they actually made me a little homesick. (Although I’d NEVER want to live in a small town again!). This movie captured small town life perfectly and I found it very endearing in a way (considering, you know, that it’s about a woman being murdered).

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The way people feel about Jack Black is the same way they’ll feel about this movie: You’ll like it or you’ll hate it. If you don’t like black comedy, it’s best to avoid this one. It’s also very slow and there’s a lot of talking so it’s not for the impatient. I was a little worried at how they’d portray Marjorie Nugent as, after all, she did get murdered and there’s no excuse for that but, luckily, I think MacLaine did a good job showing a controlling woman but never going overboard and actually making us “hate” her. Although it’s told more from Bernie’s side, you feel for both of them as they’re clearly just two lonely people who happen to form an unusual friendship. It’s really a very sad but fascinating story (even more fascinating if you know the current outcome!). I think the movie handles the story well & I didn’t feel it was disrespectful – the comedic elements are mainly the “interviews” I discussed before.

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Summary:

Black & MacLaine are absolutely fantastic in two very understated roles and, along with Linklater, deserve all the credit for making a black comedy about a tragic real-life murder actually work as a film. I thought Bernie was very good but I often like movies that are slightly more unusual. I doubt I’d ever watch it again as it’s not exactly a “re-watcher” like something like Dazed & Confused (which I’ve watched loads of times) but is more like Boyhood in that it’s more of an “experience”. I’m glad to have finally seen it. It’s definitely not for everyone but, if it sounds like your type of film, definitely give it a watch! It’s well worth your time. Then make sure to look into the real story if you don’t know the current situation – I’m still a bit amazed by that myself…

My Rating: 7/10

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The Greatest Sounds In Cinema – The Wilhelm Scream

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A while ago on Twitter, I answered a question asked by The Dirk Malcolm Alternative: “What are the greatest sounds in cinema?”. I gave the answer of The Wilhelm Scream. You can read the replies and more about the Wilhelm Scream here: Dirk’s Five: The Art Of Noise. :-)

Oh, and I’m also very happy to have correctly guessed last month’s Who’s That? over at Mr Rumsey’s Film Related Musings. This is a great competition he runs where we all have to guess a different movie silhouette each month. Last month’s was Ryan Gosling’s “The Driver” from Drive. Go to this link HERE to see if you can guess this month’s silhouette! :-)

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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