Attack The Block (2011) Review

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Attack The Block (2011)

Directed & Written by Joe Cornish

Starring:
Jodie Whittaker
John Boyega
Alex Esmail
Franz Drameh
Leeon Jones
Simon Howard
Luke Treadaway
Jumayn Hunter
Nick Frost

Music by Basement Jaxx & Steven Price

Running time: 88 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Attack the Block is set on a council estate in South London on Guy Fawkes Night, and, with some coming of age themes, the plot centres on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves from predatory alien invaders.

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My Opinion:

I watched this months ago & I’m still not really sure why I did. A movie about a bunch of teenage thugs? A group of people everyone hates?! The UK has enough of a problem with teenagers who engage in intimidating, anti-social, and sometimes criminal behavior while wearing hooded sweatshirts over their heads to hide their faces. They’re a very unsympathetic group so I think a lot of people were a bit “Really?” when a movie came out about teenage thugs fighting aliens. In fact, this movie starts out with our group of teen “heroes” mugging a woman at knifepoint. So how could I possibly like this movie?? I don’t know but I really did! Attack The Block falls into a category I’m always happy to be able to add to: Pleasant Surprise.

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I should first address the fact that John Boyega stars in this film. I’m sure all movie bloggers know his name but, come December, the general public will as well since he has a large role in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. He’s been in very little so far so I’m sure Attack The Block has gotten more attention since he got the Episode VII role as people will now be curious to see what he’s like. Well, I’d say Attack The Block is well worth the watch if you’re at all curious. Boyega was very good in this (actually the best thing about it besides the pretty cool aliens) & I can’t wait to see how he does in his Star Wars role now. Oh, and I of course still also highly recommend Ex Machina to see an excellent sci-fi film starring TWO Episode VII actors: Domhnall Gleeson & Oscar Isaac. Actually, these two films would make a cool sci-fi double feature! It would also go very well with another action packed & violent film in which a London street kid becomes the “hero” – Kingsman: The Secret Service. Yeah! These two would be great fun to watch together…

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Just so you know, in case you do watch this, I didn’t exactly hate teenagers any less after watching this. The woman they mug at the beginning has to team up with them later against the alien invaders and most of the teens continue to be disrespectful little pricks. Apart from Boyega’s character, no one exactly “sees the light” & decides to no longer be a teenage criminal or some shit like that. But, hey – this isn’t a Disney movie! It’s a rather violent sci-fi action movie and it’s just meant to be fun. Not every movie needs a moral. There are lots of angry reviews on IMDB from people who hate the behavior of the kids in this but, seriously – lighten up, people! Teenagers are horrible. Always have been, always will be. At least a movie actually portrays modern day teens accurately for a change.

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Now that I’ve made this movie sound horrible, I should try to explain why it’s not. Actually, I’m not sure why I enjoyed this so much, to be honest! Part of the reason is probably because I thought the aliens were pretty cool & effective. For the budget, I think they got the right balance in making what appears to be actors in furry gorilla suits look surprisingly good. I’m old school so I hate the overuse of CGI. I mean, look at Alien & Aliens! NOTHING has ever again looked as cool as those films do. And look at original trilogy Star Wars compared to CGI-bullshit prequel Star Wars! Give me puppet Yoda & get your CGI out of my face. Okay – one of the coolest things about these aliens is that they have these scary, glowing jaws & teeth that may have involved a little CGI? I’m not entirely sure but a little is fine! I know I read the filmmakers used as little CGI as they could get away with in this film. They kept the alien design very simple & I liked that a lot and think it worked really well for this film. I’ll keep the look of them a surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen this but it kind of sucks that all I then have to post is a bunch of pictures of hooded teens, making this look like some London gang film instead of a cool alien sci-fi movie. Hmm. Here’s a picture of the lady they mug. And Nick Frost, who plays the council estate’s weed dealer.

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Summary:

Attack The Block is a really fun alien invasion movie with a lot of action (and quite a bit of violence – I wouldn’t actually let the youngest teens who starred in this watch it!). The aliens had a great look to them and I found the setting of a South London council estate to be a very original idea for a sci-fi film. While some of the teenage thugs are unlikeable, there are a few who aren’t and they did a good job giving all the characters their own personalities considering that it’s a fairly large cast. I’m a fan of Basement Jaxx, who did the score, and they threw one of my very favorite rap songs in here (Sound Of Da Police by KRS-One). I’m interested in seeing what will happen with Joe Cornish’s career as he’s co-written Ant-Man & will be making the Snow Crash film. Attack The Block is from the producers of other British films such as Shaun Of The Dead & Hot Fuzz and, although it’s not a “comedy” in the same way those are (even though it’s labeled as action, comedy & sci-fi), I think you may like it if you liked those. It’s certainly not as good as Shaun Of The Dead but I’d have to say I preferred it to Hot Fuzz. It’s more my kind of thing, though – I love a good alien invasion movie.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Deer Hunter (1978) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! :-) Now let’s hear what he has to say about The Deer Hunter, IMDB rank 134 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.

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Director: Michael Cimino.
Screenplay: Deric Washburn.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, John Cazale, John Savage, George Dzundza, Chuck Aspegren, Rutanya Alda, Shirley Stoler, Pierre Segui, Joe Grifasi, Somsak Sengvilai.

Released in 1978, only three years after the official end of the Vietnam war, Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter” seemed as if it may have been too soon for the American psyche. It was a surprising box-office hit but was also one of the most controversial, major theatrical releases about America’s involvement in the war. It went on to receive 9 Academy Award nominations (winning 5 – including Best Picture and Best Director). Despite this, the backlash was pretty vehement. It received criticism from the likes of Jane Fonda and John Wayne – who in his last public appearance had to present it with it’s Best Picture award even though he wasn’t fond of the film. These criticisms came in many forms but for as many critics as it had, there were also a great number who considered it to be another American classic.

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Michael (Robert DeNiro), Stevie (John Savage) and Nick (Christopher Walken) are among a group of friends who live and work in the steel mill town of Clairton, Pennsylvania. They spend their time getting drunk and going deer hunting before they are enlisted in the airborne infantry of Vietnam. What was once a slow-paced and fun-filled life is shoved into the stark reality of warfare and how their experiences change their lives forever.

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Clocking in at just over three hours, “The Deer Hunter” is a film of length. However, it’s one that never overstays it’s welcome as Cimino wisely works within a three act structure – book-ending the war with marriage and death. He may take his time and linger long on shots but it never gets boring. To view it as simply another Vietnam film is to entirely miss the point also. If it is to be viewed in any way, it should be as a commentary on American disillusionment and it’s loss of innocence at this time. It’s intention is not to focus on the war itself but on the aftermath and the impact war can have on the lives of ordinary working people. In fact, the scenes that take place in Vietnam only amount to a very small portion of the film, overall. Ultimately, it’s a character study that’s only heightened by the 50 minute wedding sequence at the beginning of the film. Many grumble about this being too indulgent but it’s integral that we get to know these characters in order to fully understand them. It’s during the wedding reception that they come across a Green Beret who has just finished his Tour of Duty; they buy him a drink and take offence when all he has to tell them about the war is… “Fuck it!“. This perfectly sums up the naïveté of these young men as they seem to have a romanticised idea of war and have absolutely no idea of what is to become them.

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Following this, a bunch of them go on a deer hunting trip where we again see the dynamic of the group and get to know each of them more personally. Suddenly, we are thrust into the chaos of Vietnam and it’s not before long that the films iconic and controversial Russian roulette scene takes place. This is a scene that has received much criticism in not only being claimed as inaccurate – as there was no evidence to suggest that any such atrocities took place during the conflict – but for being racist in it’s sadistic stereotype of the Viet Cong captors. These criticisms are justifiable to an extent but, personally, I think the critics have taken it far too literally. If viewed as a metaphor for the senselessness of war and the inhumanity of man during wartime struggles then it’s entirety fitting to the films themes and says more about an initiation into manhood. It was literally minutes before this powerful scene that DeNiro’s Michael and Walken’s Nick were discussing how a deer should be killed with “one shot” and now (ironically) they must face a similar fate. This game of chance is the catalyst that changes the dynamic of the three principle characters (the other being John Savage’s Stevie) and further adds to the character development that was so playfully and innocently displayed in the opening wedding sequence or the camaraderie of the deer hunt. It’s purpose is not to be racist but to capture the extreme pressure that soldiers face in conflict. In the film’s final act, some of them return home only to realise that they’re traumatised as they struggle to fit back into society. There have been claims that it doesn’t take an overly pro or anti stance towards the conflict but I struggle to see how. This was one was of the first films to challenge the perspective on Vietnam. The likes of Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” were praised for such honesty and I believe this deserves the same credibility.

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“The Deer Hunter” is, undoubtedly, epic filmmaking and despite your political interpretation, there’s no denying the power of it’s emotionally devastating narrative. It’s unlikely that Cimino will be able to deliver a work of this magnitude ever again. He tried (and many would say failed) in 1980 with “Heaven’s Gate” (bankrupting United Artists Studios in the process) but his scope and ambition here deserves the utmost respect. So too does the work of cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond for his astounding ability to capture both the expansive landscapes of Pennsylvania and the war ravaged mountainous villages of Vietnam. The actors are also very strong and committed throughout. This would be the last performance of the great John Cazale – before his untimely death to cancer – and the first notable one from Meryl Streep, who brings a touching vulnerability to her supporting role. Walken (who won a Supporting Actor Oscar) is a marvel and deservedly made a name for himself in the process. As good as they are, though, it’s DeNiro who anchors the film in a enigmatic display of stoicism. Another deserved Oscar nomination came his way and even though this is a film that many omit from DeNiro’s plethora of magnificent performances throughout the 70’s and 80’s, it happens to be one of his strongest and most unsung. DeNiro apparently described his role as one of the most physical and exhausting that he’s ever done, and it’s easy to see why; the emotional, physical and mental abuse that he seems to be suffering is perfectly and gruellingly displayed onscreen.

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The 1970’s are well known for producing some of the finest experiences in cinema and “The Deer Hunter” can, proudly, consider itself one of them. It’s marvellously structured, harrowingly vivid and so grand and ambitious that it thoroughly deserves it’s epic status. Truly one of the best of it’s decade.

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Mark Walker

A Galaxy Of Cute

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Aw! SO DAMN CUTE! This piece, entitled “A Galaxy Of Cute” is from artist Jerrod Maruyama. You can check out more of his adorable art (Star Wars as well as plenty of other things) at his website HERE.

I of course also love the below piece of art from him, called “Totoro Garden”. Plus he’s done loads of Disney & Pixar stuff! And lots of anthropomorphic food!!!! It’s like he’s making this stuff specifically for ME! ;-)

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Miyazaki’s Movie Posters Make The Best GIFs

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Check out these great Studio Ghibli movie posters made into GIFs by reddit user podrickforking (podrickforking?? Lol). I’m sharing the two I like the most but you can also see what he’s done for Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle In The Sky, Porco Rosso & The Wind Rises HERE. :-)

Spirited Away:

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Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:

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Midnight In Paris (2011) Review

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Midnight In Paris (2011)

Directed & Written by Woody Allen

Starring:
Kathy Bates
Adrien Brody
Carla Bruni
Marion Cotillard
Kurt Fuller
Rachel McAdams
Michael Sheen
Owen Wilson

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in Paris, the film follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight.

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My Opinion:

This has nothing whatsoever to do with Midnight In Paris but I just have to say this: I think I deserve a payrise for getting the word “Xenomorph” into my company’s newsletter last week.

Now, onto Midnight In Paris: a movie I watched months ago but never reviewed because I don’t really have much to say about it. But, shit – apparently a lot of you like it as it’s in third place in that poll of movies you want me to review. So, damn, I better stay true to my word! :-)

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Here’s my big, embarrassing movie blogger confession: I’ve never watched a Woody Allen film. NONE! So Midnight In Paris was my first & only. Tell me, Woody Allen fans – was this the place to start? I assume not. But, I dunno… I really liked the sound of it plus I’m a big fan of Van Gogh so I was a sucker for that poster up there. ^ I am NOT, however, a fan of Owen Wilson. Probably because he’s been in too many of those annoying Wes Anderson movies. Plus, I’ve always hated his voice. And, you know, that nose. I’m sounding bitchy now but I’m just trying to point out how much I do NOT like Owen Wilson so that you know this may have had an effect on my enjoyment of my first Woody Allen movie. However, it’s definitely a good film & I can understand why some people really like it. It needs to be your type of “thing”, though.

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With this movie, as with Wilson’s character, it really comes alive when it’s in the past. These scenes are so much better than those set in present day with Wilson’s absolute bitch of a fiancée (Rachel McAdams). But that’s the whole point – a viewer may very well end up loving 1920’s Paris just as much as Wilson’s character does. I may not be able to fully relate to a love of 1920’s Paris but I can relate to feeling nostalgic about a certain time. I hate 2015! The world is shit now. I’d probably go back to the 1970s/early 80s. Hmm… I suppose that’s a little unoriginal. I’d probably be happy in any time that’s before the Internet but after indoor plumbing! Oh, and after women stopped being treated like shit. Wait… we’re still treated like shit! Oh cool – I think I’ve written enough now. I can finish this horrible first-ever Woody Allen review I’m making a mess of! :-)

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Summary:

Midnight In Paris is a good film and I would assume those who love Woody Allen films loved this one too (not that I can compare it to another film of his since I’ve not seen any). I’m probably not cultured enough to have fully appreciated all the famous historical figures Wilson’s character meets in the past but I did find this a very fun part of the story as I actually didn’t know beforehand that anyone “special” was going to be in this. I also didn’t mind the romance in this although I’m not the type to usually go for that. Oh yeah! And my favorite “hey, it’s that guy!” guy was in this (Kurt Fuller – never thought to look up his name before now). I can’t say Midnight In Paris is a movie I fell in love with or that I’ll ever watch it again, though. I liked the originality & it was entertaining but I know I probably should have watched an older Woody Allen film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Goodfellas (1990) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of Written In Blood. Thanks for the review, John! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Goodfellas, IMDB rank 15 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.

DISCLAIMER: I have to say that this is the first time “horse cock” has been mentioned in this way on CPD (or, at all). I’m going to get some weird Google search terms now. ;-) Now on to the review of fuckin’ Goodfellas…

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When I first volunteered to write a review of Goodfellas for the IMDb Top 250 challenge I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I can chew. How do I approach a review of what is arguably the greatest Mob movie ever put to celluloid? Do I summon my inner Ebert and wax poetic in my praise? No. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

Do I compare the movie to that other great Mob (read also as Mafia) movie, The Godfather? No. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why. There’s no Don Corleone stroking a cat and handing out jobs and favors; there’s Paulie (a portly Paul Sorvino) holding court at a backyard cookout with a fat chunk of food in his hands giving the nod to his people as a sign of approval for whatever deal is going down at that particular moment.

There’s no big wedding with Italian songs and Sonny’s horse cock plowing Lucy upstairs in the closet. Granted, there’s a wedding and there are Italians and Sicilians and dancing and food; there’s just no horse cock-or horse’s head, for that matter-anywhere in sight. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Comparing Goodfellas to The Godfather is like comparing Elvis to the Beatles; they are the twin sons of different mothers. The Godfather is subtlety and the life of a Mafia family and the rise of its new Don, Michael Corleone.Goodfellas is Henry Hill and his life in the Mob (or as close as he can get to it as he is not “one hundred per cent Sicilian on his mother’s side and his heritage can’t be traced back to the old country”) and there is no guarantee that the particular moment that he is living and breathing will not be his last. If Goodfellas is even remotely about life in a Mafia family then that family is nothing but sharks. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

With what is quite possibly the greatest opening line in cinematic history (“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”) Goodfellas begins to unravel the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and his slow rise and hard fall in the life of a wiseguy. His journey is a violent one filled with angry fathers, towels wasted on gut-shot and bloody men, icepicks and bullets to the heads of unfortunate fools getting too close and fucking it all up; there’s Karen (Lorraine Bracco) his Jewish wife who enters into their marriage wide-eyed and innocent and transforms into a woman just as dirty as himself.

Along the way we meet Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) who loves to steal but is not above killing to protect his investments. Fuck with Jimmy and his haul and you may just find yourself frozen stiff in the back of a meat truck or right beside your wife in the front seat of your new Cadillac with bullets in both of your heads. Why? Because it’s fuckin’ Goodfellas, that’s why.

Then there is Tommy and let me begin by saying this: It is my opinion that for as long as he has a career in movies that Joe Pesci will never be given a role that is as great and-dare I say it-iconic as that of Tommy DeVito. Perhaps Pesci knew this; perhaps that is why he shines (not a good word to use in his presence, may I remind you) in every scene. If it’s not already then the, “How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me?” scene should be taught in film schools as a mandatory course in great acting and direction. Pesci earns his Best Supporting Actor Oscar in every scene that he is in.

Okay, so I’ve just looked over this and I don’t think that what I have written has been so much of a review as it has been a gushing letter to a movie that I have loved since I first saw it on VHS in 1991 and have watched more times than I can count in the past twenty-plus years. I also notice that I have failed to mention one name and I deserve to be whacked for not doing it sooner. Without Martin Scorsese there would be no Goodfellas. The man who makes the world’s greatest movies has shown his mastery of the Mob movie with films as diverse as Mean Streets and The Departed but it is here that his mastery is at the highest zenith of his career. It burns my balls knowing that Goodfellas lost out to Dances with Wolves for Best Picture and that Scorsese lost out to Kevin Costner as Best Director at the 1990 Academy Awards. To paraphrase a quote from Jay Leno: What the hell were they thinking?

So, this is my review cum love letter to Goodfellas and to Martin Scorsese for making it. I have put my entire heart into writing it as I knew that I would. Why? Do I even have to say it again?

When Peanuts Travels to Westeros, We All Win

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A Peanuts & Game Of Thrones mashup? Love it!

These are from artist Philip Hororton – You can check them out here: Neatorama

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I’m loving all my favorite things being mashed up with Game Of Thrones lately! Just in case some of you missed it, I also better share this Sesame Street parody from a couple of weeks ago: Game Of Chairs. Love this so much!!!! :-)

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

Based on The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Starring:
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Chris Evans
Scarlett Johansson
Jeremy Renner
Don Cheadle
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Elizabeth Olsen
Paul Bettany
Cobie Smulders
Anthony Mackie
Hayley Atwell
Idris Elba
Stellan Skarsgård
James Spader
Samuel L Jackson

Running time: 141 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

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My Opinion:

I enjoy superhero movies. I go to them all (usually as soon as I possibly can after they come out). They’re fun! But then I kind of forget about them… I realized while watching Age Of Ultron that I rarely watch most superhero movies ever again after that first viewing in the cinema/theater. There’ve been a few exceptions – I watched The Dark Knight twice, the first couple X-Men movies at least twice, and of course Superman & Burton’s Batman several times. I really should have re-watched the first Avengers film before going to this one because I barely remember it. I think I’m a little superheroed out. I have a pretty good memory when it comes to movies (I mean, I’m a movie blogger after all) but I know I must not be too into these countless Marvel films when I keep having to ask my hubby questions during them. Things like “who’s THAT?” to which he rolls his eyes & replies “only someone who’s been in most the Marvel films so far!”. Also, as I always have to say in these superhero movie reviews, I ONLY have knowledge of the films. God – I can’t even keep all those straight in my mind! I can’t imagine actually reading the billions of comic books as well.

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So now that we know where I stand on these types of movies (I like them & have a lot of fun with them but wouldn’t say I love most of them), we can move on to what I liked & disliked about Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I did a super-short mini-review of the first Avengers movie HERE when I did a roundup of all the films I’d seen in 2012 (I see I ranked it as the 9th best film that year & gave it a 7.5/10). I’ll say I think Age Of Ultron is the better film overall. It drags a little in the middle but the second half is much better than the first half & I think it’s a better finale than in the first film. It’s close, though – I think people may be pretty evenly divided on which they prefer. Also, I thought they actually did a pretty damn good job on character development in this one considering just how many characters are in this thing. It must have been hard to get the balance right between that & all the kick ass action but I think they did very well. What I really liked is that they spent more time on the characters we don’t know as well from a million other movies (Hawkeye, Black Widow & Hulk) and I enjoyed their stories quite a bit (especially Hawkeye’s). Don’t worry – you still get loads of time with the others as well but we already know a lot about them from their own films. I’d have liked a little more focus on Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver but, like I said, there are so many characters that you can’t expect anything too in-depth with each of them in only 2 hours & 21 minutes.

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I guess I didn’t really list anything I disliked about this movie. Well, I suppose I didn’t really dislike much. I wasn’t crazy about Ultron’s voice but that’s because I’m old (that asshole in Pretty In Pink?!). It did feel a little overlong plus it didn’t really pick up until (a character who is on one of the posters but I still won’t name in case it’s a spoiler to some of you) showed up (he was great). There’s some light humor between the characters as always, which is fun (especially a bit involving Thor’s mighty Mjölnir). Speaking of Thor & his big Hammer, I was once again very distracted every time his bare arms were on screen. Chris Hemsworth is so insanely beautiful. Too pretty, really. Maybe it’s why my mind goes all loopy during these movies & I never fully know what the hell is going on. I’m just going to wrap this thing up – I’m picturing those arms again now & I can’t think straight.

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Summary:

If you love all the Marvel films & you loved the first Avengers film, you’ll love this one too. It’s, well, the same thing again. Which is fine… It’s a formula that clearly works. But I have to say I kind of prefer some of the individual films as, while it’s loads of fun seeing all the superheroes together, I like seeing & knowing more about each of their individual stories. I probably almost like the first Iron Man movie & maybe even Captain America: The Winter Soldier more. At least, I think they’re probably better films than either of the Avengers movies but they’re not quite as flashy or cool. We’re talking about superheroes, though, not the Oscars – flashy & cool is sometimes okay too. Avengers: Age Of Ultron has proven one thing to me, though – I really did LOVE Guardians Of The Galaxy. That felt unique instead of the same old superhero movie once again. I think it’s time I do a massive update of my Top Ten Superhero Movies because there will be a lot of changes. Age Of Ultron will make the ten but I’m not sure where. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy will be at number one. Sorry, Age Of Ultron! You were loads of fun. Thanks for entertaining me but I won’t remember much of you in a year. You’re still one of the better films in this genre, though.

My Rating: 8/10

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Is There A Scene After The Credits? Like, duh. It’s a Marvel film. However, there’s ONLY a mid-credits scene & nothing at the very end. However, do not take my word on this, Americans! We may have gotten this movie a week before you but we’ve been screwed out of end credits scenes in the past (the end credits scene from the first Avengers film wasn’t shown in the UK). There have been rumors & supposedly leaked footage of an end credits scene that wasn’t the one I saw here in the UK.

Does Thor take his shirt off once again? Yes. Yes he does. However, it’s not at all gratuitous like it was in his own films. He is, however, soaking wet while shirtless. But there’s no lingering shots. It’s quick. Too quick. I’ll have to buy the Blu-Ray…

What were we talking about again??

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The Avengers (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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As we all anxiously await this Thursday’s (UK) release of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review of the first Avengers film comes from Tim of Beermovie.net. Thanks for the review, Tim! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble), IMDB rank 129 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.

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The Avengers is a huge film in every way – budget, hype, box office, you name it. Plenty of people were doubtful that Marvel could truly pull this off given how high they had raised expectations, even though they had already shown time and time again how good they were at exceeding them. Given the sequel is very close on the horizon, now is a good time to revisit one of the biggest films of all time.

From the very beginning, a portal being opened to another dimension and Loki popping out, it is clear that The Avengers is pretty grand big budget storytelling. The film invokes a little bit of classic Hollywood storytelling as it rounds up the squad, and introduces us to the new characters really succinctly. The introduction of Black Widow, totally schooling a bunch of inept mobsters, is particularly memorable. Unfortunately Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye really misses out on a proper introduction and his character really feels like a bit of an afterthought throughout the film. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk similarly feels a little short-changed in the intro stakes, but his position in the narrative means that the audience gets to know him a bit better as the film goes along, without ever totally satisfactorily setting up the mythology of the character. The first act of the film manages to function both as a fully formed introduction for viewers new to the MCU and as a charm-filled start for everyone else.

As good as the balance is between the characters, there is no doubting that Robert Downey Jr’s wisecracking Tony Stark occasionally overshadows the film. He is meant to be the funniest, smartest and most powerful of all the Avengers and that on occasions feels like a lessening of the others in the crew. Even more so than some characters getting shortchanged, this obsession with Downey’s Stark is the main aspect of the script that brings down the quality of the film as an ensemble story. It will be interesting to see how Marvel handle this in the forthcoming sequel, a couple of years removed from Iron Man 3 and with Downey Jr’s future in stand-alone films up in the air as far as I understand it.

There are plenty of reasons why Marvel has gotten this whole shared universe thing so right where basically everyone else has faltered in a big way. But casting is perhaps foremost amongst its successes. The choice of Loki for this film, could have been really ho-um, recycling a villain that had already been seen in a stand-alone film. However Hiddleston is so good in the role that you quickly forget you’ve seen him before and come to perceive him as a threat necessitating the entire crew coming together. There is also a pleasant uniqueness in the fact that Loki takes a much more psychological approach rather than simply a ‘raaargh I’m going to crush the world with my huge muscles’ style vibe. Similarly, Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, capturing a lot of the great attitude that character has in the comics, without needing to delve into dense comic book history (now if only Marvel would get over their strange aversion to a Black Widow stand-alone film).

Plenty of (somewhat justified) criticism has been aimed at Marvel for the sameness of their third acts, so rewatching The Avengers it was nice to be reminded just how well they can pull it off. I noticed this a lot whilst re-watching the film for this review and it was a main reason why I actually enjoyed it more this time than when I saw it in cinemas. Part of what sets this third act apart from some of the others is that the script weaves in occasional pieces of wit and levity to balance out the vibe. Some charming moments break up the huge, long-running battle toward the end, not least of which is Hulk’s hilarious “puny god” interaction with Loki. It’s a hell of a sprawling, choreographed battle that seems to wheel across the whole city. And whilst it’s basically all CGI, it never feels too computerised or like one clump of pixels crashing into another clump of pixels.

It is difficult to overestimate how big an achievement The Avengers is. Not all of that is restricted to the film. Much of it relates to how expertly Marvel crafted their cinematic universe in a way that has ‘inspired’ so many inept imitators that I’m pretty sure none of us ever want to hear the phrase “cinematic universe” ever again. But this film is an exceptional payoff and it both wraps Phase 1 up beautifully and feels like it was something too big for one of the earlier standalone films to handle.

Verdict: 8/10

April Fools 2015: Cinema Parrot Disco

table9mutant:

I wrote about Society (1989) for the lovely Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade last week. (butt)Head on over there now if you missed it. If you dare… ;-) **WARNING: Spoilers & NSFW shunting images**

Originally posted on Silver Screen Serenade:

Today, we are discussing Society, a movie I assume is as sweet and wholesome as Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra singing and dancing. Right, Mutant? Um...right? Today, we are discussing Society, a movie I assume is as sweet and wholesome as Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra singing and dancing. Right, Mutant? Um…right?

TGIF, my friends!! So I’m closing out the week with another April Fools guest review, and, lemme tell ya, this one’s a doozie. Bahaha. I hadn’t even heard of this until the infinitely awesome Miss Table 9 Mutant of Cinema Parrot Disco sent me her write-up, and then…well, let’s just say this makes some of the stuff Eric watches look downright boring.

View original 835 more words

Society (1989) For April Fools At Silver Screen Serenade

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Cara over at Silver Screen Serenade is running a great guest series this month where fellow bloggers have all written about movie endings “that fooled us“. There have been lots of great write-ups about those twist endings that we just didn’t see coming. Well… I’m not sure if the ending of Society is exactly a “twist” ending but it’s certainly one I didn’t see coming! You can read what I have to say about it HERE. You’ll have a shunting good time!

Thank you for letting me join in, Cara! And, um… I apologize… ;-)

(Warning – SPOILERS & NSFW IMAGES)

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Melancholia (2011) Review

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Melancholia (2011)

Directed by Lars von Trier

Starring:
Kirsten Dunst
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Alexander Skarsgård
Brady Corbet
Cameron Spurr
Charlotte Rampling
Jesper Christensen
John Hurt
Stellan Skarsgård
Udo Kier
Kiefer Sutherland

Running time: 136 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

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My Opinion:

Here’s one of the most-voted-for movies in my recent poll (I already reviewed the top two winners: Spirited Away & Grave Of The Fireflies). I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Lars von Trier film. They’re artsy fartsy & weird, right? I was thinking this was my first von Trier film but, oh yeah!, I actually saw Dancer In The Dark years ago. That was pretty good… I know that probably a good ten years ago I spent quite possibly the most I’ve ever spent on a set of DVDs when I bought something called Riget (The Kingdom – a Lars von Trier TV mini-series from 1994-1997) because I’d read about it & it sounded awesome & I didn’t know who the hell Lars von Trier was. Shit… what did I buy?! I’ve still not watched it all these years later. Has anyone seen it? I’m a little scared now – I hope no one mutilates their genitals in it. Anyway, after all the rambling I’m going to say that I actually liked Melancholia quite a bit! Huh. I was expecting it to be totally pretentious (which I suppose it is) but I also thought it was very beautiful.

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Melancholia is pretentious and artsy fartsy and full of rich wankers with their first world problems & Kirsten Dunst is depressed even though she’s young and rich and beautiful and successful and has an amazing chest. So right away it’s very hard to feel for these people although, as we’re introduced to more of Dunst’s family, we do at least start to feel for her having had to deal with these people in her life (especially her bitch of a mother) and start to understand why she is the way she is. Her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is also very supportive so, as the movie is about the two sisters, it doesn’t get too annoying as these two are bearable. It’s like Frozen with severe depression! Look – shit is shooting from Dunst’s fingers kind of like how ice shoots from Elsa’s!

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This movie is divided into two parts: Part 1 focuses on Dunst & the evening of her wedding while part 2 deals with Gainsbourg’s fear of the strange new planet Melancholia, which she is afraid will collide with Earth. I think a lot of people may struggle with part 1 as you really just watch Dunst in a wedding dress growing more & more depressed but it’s necessary for the character development of the two sisters & seeing what their relationship is like. I have to say I loved the very beginning which was just full of strange & beautiful imagery while classical music played (from Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. I won’t even pretend I didn’t have to look that up – I like some classical music but I’m more of an Iron Maiden fan). So I liked the first half of this film just fine although I think more will prefer the second half in which we watch Melancholia come closer & closer to Earth and the sisters’ roles are reversed. Basically, part 2 is much better (or is more “exciting”, I suppose) as the characters face their impending doom. Yay! I’ve always wanted to say “impending doom“!

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Summary:

Melancholia isn’t for everyone – you’ll probably love it or you’ll hate it. I suppose it is kind of a part of one of my favorite genres: apocalyptic. I’m obsessed with anything apocalyptic so right away I had an interest in checking out this film. I also don’t mind a bit of artsy fartsy pretentiousness now & then (I love things like Daft Punk’s Electroma) so I had no problem with any of that here. Although, it’s a pretty straightforward story and any symbolism isn’t weird or confusing – it all made sense & I actually thought it was a very interesting way to explore depression. I mean, there’s nothing that makes you go “what the HELL is von Trier smoking?“, which is the impression I get about his other films that I haven’t seen. There’s no genital mutilation here or anything. You know, I’m just assuming everyone knows what I’m on about since we’re all movie bloggers but maybe I should point out that this happens in his film Antichrist so some people don’t think I keep mentioning the mutilation thing out of the blue for no reason. I think I probably prefer watching pretty rich people being a little sad to some of Lars von Trier’s other films from what I’ve read of them but I wouldn’t say no to watching some more of his stuff based on Melancholia.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Grave Of The Fireflies (1988) Review

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Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)
Hotaru no haka
Japanese: 火垂るの墓

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 104 as of 01/01/2013

Directed by Isao Takahata

Based on Grave of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka

Starring Voice Actors:
Tsutomu Tatsumi
Ayano Shiraishi
Yoshiko Shinohara
Akemi Yamaguchi

(English dub voice cast: Adam Gibbs, Emily Neves, Shelley Calene-Black, Marcy Bannor)

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Set in the city of Kobe, Japan, the film tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, and their desperate struggle to survive during the final months of the Second World War.

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My Opinion:

Version watched: Japanese with English subtitles

Okay – here we are with the movie that got second place when I asked you all to vote for which movie I should review next (Spirited Away won – I reviewed that HERE yesterday). Knowing I would be spending January reviewing a bunch of Studio Ghibli films, I actually watched Grave Of The Fireflies late on New Year’s Eve. Do I know how to party or WHAT?!

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And… then I never reviewed it. What can I say about Grave Of The Fireflies that hasn’t been said already? It’s already widely known that it’s one of the saddest & most heartbreaking movies you can watch. I love Studio Ghibli so I knew the time had finally come for me to watch it if I was going to dedicate a bunch of my time to eventually reviewing every Ghibli film on my blog. But I’ve never been one to want to watch a sad movie – I watch movies for their escapism, not to be reminded that humanity sucks. So I had a little bit to drink as it was New Year’s Eve, put on Grave Of The Fireflies, then distracted myself by chatting with a friend through most of it in order to make it a little more bearable (thanks to that person!). It still wasn’t an easy watch although it’s a beautiful film.

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I was happy that Grave Of The Fireflies wasn’t at all political (in my opinion). I wouldn’t even say it’s exactly anti-war – it simply tells the story in a very matter-of-fact manner of a young boy & his little sister in the final months of World War II. I’ve looked but I’m not sure of the ages of the brother & sister – I think she’s around 4 & he’s maybe 14? There are a few times throughout the movie where you start to feel a little frustrated with the brother seeming to not always know the best way to take care of his little sister until you then remember that he’s just a child himself and how difficult it would be to try to survive on your own in a war torn country. These kids have nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help – all they have is each other and the boy does everything he can to take care of his little sister.

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Grave Of The Fireflies is one of those movies that I think everyone should watch at least once (kind of like Schindler’s List – you need to watch it but maybe don’t watch them both on the same night!). There’s just nothing I hate more than seeing little kids suffer, though, and it’s very hard to watch this little girl go through Hell while always maintaining her innocence and joy at life’s little pleasures (like a couple of fruit drop candies or some fireflies) in a way that only the very young can manage. I recommend this to everyone, not just fans of Studio Ghibli as it’s quite unlike the other Ghiblis anyway, but you’ll need to be in the right frame of mind.

My Rating: 8/10

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Spirited Away (2001) Review

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Spirited Away (2001)
Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi
Japanese: 千と千尋の神隠し

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 43 as of 01/01/2013

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Rumi Hiiragi
Miyu Irino
Mari Natsuki
Takeshi Naito
Yasuko Sawaguchi
Tsunehiko Kamijō
Takehiko Ono
Bunta Sugawara

(English dub voice cast: Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Paul Eiding, John Ratzenberger)

Running time: 124 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the middle of her family’s move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and monsters; where humans are changed into beasts.

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My Opinion:

Version watched: Japanese with English subtitles

I know the people who’ve been with me a while will know that I’ve become a pretty big Studio Ghibli fan in the couple of years that I’ve run this blog. Back in January, I started reviewing as many of these films as I could (you can find the links to all the reviews HERE) but they didn’t get a lot of attention & I wondered if Studio Ghibli was as popular amongst movie bloggers as I’d thought. So when I asked in this poll HERE which movies I should review next of all the ones I watched but never got around to, I was surprised that Spirited Away & Grave Of The Fireflies were the two winners by quite a lot of votes. I know it’s weird that I’ve put off reviewing two of Ghibli’s biggest films but I wasn’t sure what to say about either of them. Fireflies because, well… what can be said about that? :-( And Spirited Away because I KNOW it’s the favorite Ghibli for a lot of people (and the most highly regarded – it won an Oscar for best animated film & is the highest rated Ghibli in the IMDB Top 250 at number 34 currently) but it’s just never quite connected with me in the same way the other films have.

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Spirited Away was actually the very first Ghibli I saw back in 2001 (I think – whenever it was first shown in UK cinemas). I don’t recommend it as your introduction to Studio Ghibli as it’s far more “out there” than most the others. Unless you like “weird”… However, I do recommend it if you’re already a fan of the studio and I can see now why it’s so popular even if it’s not my very favorite. I finally re-watched this again in January to see if my opinion would be different all these years later & I can say that I definitely appreciated it a lot more now that I’ve seen so many other Ghibli films. It’s basically just a coming of age story (Ghibli style – with pigs, witches, Susuwatari soot sprites like in My Neighbor Totoro, dragons, and really large babies) & has a good, strong lead female as is often the case with these movies. I think it may be so popular as it’s from 2001 so a lot of you younger bloggers will have been just the right sort of age for it when it came out (I’m guessing it’s a popular one with those who were preteen girls at the time especially). You’ll either absolutely love this one for its weirdness or you’ll be turned off if that’s not your type of thing but it’s certainly another Miyazaki masterpiece and I want to love it as much as I do Totoro or Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind… I really did try to on the re-watch!

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Spirited Away is sort of a Japanese Alice In Wonderland. If you like that, you may also appreciate Spirited Away. It certainly has the magical quality & beauty that most the Ghibli films possess (more so, really – it may be the second biggest feast for your eyes after Howl’s Moving Castle). I do think I made a mistake putting it below Howl’s Moving Castle in my Top TenHowl’s is very pretty but the story is overcomplicated while Spirited Away has a much stronger and more straightforward story & themes.

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With most Ghibli films, there’s usually a small character that I really latch onto. With Princess Mononoke, it was the Kodama. With Castle In The Sky, it was the Laputan robots. With My Neighbor Totoro, it was of course Totoro. While Spirited Away has very rich characters, I didn’t end up loving any of the lesser characters. No-Face was pretty cool, I suppose, but oh so strange. The girl (Chihiro), as I said, is another great female Ghibli character which is a huge part of the reason why I’m such a big fan of the Ghibli films. This is another movie I want my kid to see someday BUT I myself wouldn’t recommend it to those under probably about 10 or 11. For the very young, the witch is too scary as is the entire, cruel spirit world that Chihiro finds herself trapped in plus it’s just far too odd & the themes would be lost on the young. More than anything, they just wouldn’t appreciate this one until they were a little older so I think it’s probably best to wait before introducing them to this one.

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Summary:

I’m really glad I re-watched this one again after watching more Studio Ghibli films. I wish I could love it in the same way others do and in the same way I love some of the other Ghibli films but I certainly appreciate Spirited Away and think it’s deserving of all the praise & recognition it has received. I’d certainly watch it once (or twice) again and know it’s one that would grow on me. Spirited Away should be seen by all film lovers but I’d recommend testing out a couple other Studio Ghibli films first before delving into this one if you’re new to them.

My Rating: 8/10

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Which Movie Should I Review Next – Poll Winners

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Thanks to everyone who voted in my poll asking which movie I should review next. Sorry – I was too sick last week to make a start on the winners but the top two are written now and ready to post tomorrow & Thursday. There were a lot that tied for third place so I’ll work my way through those next.

I’m happy to see that it turns out more of you like Studio Ghibli than I thought. Um… I’ve already done a bunch of those recently! ;-)

13 votes:
Spirited Away

9 votes:
Grave Of The Fireflies

7 votes:
Attack The Block
Melancholia
Midnight In Paris
Miracle Mile
Primer (oh god. FYI – I really don’t understand this movie! Lol)

6 votes:
Blue Is The Warmest Color

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Oh! I have a load of books I’ve read & never reviewed either. Maybe I should do another poll. Hmm… Anyone want to hear about any of these?

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Good Guy by Dean Koontz

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Martian by Andy Weir

Revival by Stephen King

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Horns by Joe Hill

Chinatown (1974) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. He also reviewed Sin City here & Memento here. Thanks for the reviews, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Chinatown, IMDB rank 78 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.

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CHINATOWN

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Any tour through the film noir landscape will likely stop for a visit with Roman Polansky’s Chinatown. Released in 1974, the film is held up as the quintessential neo-noir, that new batch of films debuting from the 1960’s and onwards which lifted traits from film noir’s Golden Age but branded the genre with elements not seen in the post-war period. Touring through The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946) reveals the habits of those first noirs, filled with tough-guy detectives and Humphrey Bogart’s cold stares and wry smiles. Chinatown uses the mold of these early films then breaks it, adding in elements not fitted for screens twenty years earlier.

Jack Nicholson stars as Jake Gittes, a private investigator in 1937 Los Angeles. Like Spade and Marlowe, Gittes isn’t picky with clients he takes but the weight of the job and the secrets he’s uncovered appear to be more a burden for him than they did for Bogart. The film’s complicated story begins with what appears to be a simple mystery. After dismissing one client, a tired Gittes reenters his office to find a stoic woman sitting across the room. She calls on his services because she believes her husband is seeing another woman. Gittes hears the complaint, sighs then sarcastically responds “No…Really?” By this point he must have seen dozens of these cases and is not eager to jump into another. Gittes quickly disregards her worries: “Mrs. Mulwray do your love your husband? Then go home and forget everything. I’m sure that he loves you too. Do you know the expresion ‘let sleeping dogs lie’? You’re…better off not knowing” But soon he finds the adulterer in question is Hollis Mulwray, an influential Los Angeles city planner. Realizing the money to be made, Gittes signs on and is plunged into a complicated mystery involving nearly a dozen instigators.

Chinatown establishes its film noir chops early and often. Stereotyped film noir elements are found throughout; smoking with exceptionaly long cigarette stems, venetian blinds (Gittes mentions Venetian blinds in the first spoken line), characteristic fashion (namely overly-fancy hats), stereotyped camera angles and the use mirrors and reflections including an interesting reflection off a camera lens showing us Gittes and his point of view simultaneously. Jack Nicholson plays a sadder, more defeated version of Sam Spade. Faye Dunaway, gives an incredible performance as his femme fatale, bringing to life the desperate Evelyn Mulwray. John Huston, legendary director of noir classics like The Maltese Falcon and Key Largo is cast as one of the central characters and gives one of the film’s most memorable performances.

The mystery at the center of Chinatown turns out to be far more complicated than that in The Maltese Falcon or The Third Man and with more sinister dealings at the core. Debuting in 1974 likely factors into the plot. By then audience members would expect a more mysterious mystery and would tolerate more sex and violence along the way. From the very beginning sex is front and center as the opening frames show close-ups of photographs taken of a sex scene. Gittes famously has his nose cut during the film, leaving Jack Nicholson’s bandaged face on most stills. Between those opening frames, a sliced nose, rape and incest, much of the content here wouldn’t have passed censors twenty years earlier.

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Rating:10/10

Classic Film Scale Rating: 8/10

Bottomline: A worthy flag-bearer for the neo-noir genre, Chinatown takes all the best elements of the Golden Age noirs and even improves on the classics.

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Family Film: Cinderella (2015) & Frozen Fever Reviews

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Cinderella (2015)

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Starring:
Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Holliday Grainger
Derek Jacobi
Ben Chaplin
Sophie McShera
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Running time: 113 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Don’t be a bitch & you might snag a prince. It helps if you’re really pretty, though.

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Okay – I’m going to review family films in a slightly different way from now on so that you don’t think I’m taking them too seriously. Would I watch as many kids movies if I didn’t have a kid? Of course not! But I’d still watch some, especially from Disney/Pixar. I may be all grown-up (physically, at least) but I do still love the Disney classics & I see Pixar movies such as Toy Story & WALL-E (an all-time favorite movie of mine) as brilliant filmmaking just as worthy of recognition, not just “movies for kids”. So here are my thoughts as well as my daughter’s & husband’s thoughts on the live-action Cinderella remake (and the Frozen Fever short).

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I enjoyed Cinderella much more than I was expecting. I was happy that Branagh kept this very traditional instead of trying to make it more “modern” (the big, puffy blue dress is as fairytale as you can get!) & he stayed quite faithful to the 1950 Disney film. There were only a couple of changes: one involving the slipper, which I think worked better in the 1950 film & one involving the addition of Cinderella’s mother, which I really liked about this adaptation – it was great to see Cinderella’s relationship with her mother as well as with her father.

I’m not going to go much into that whole argument of “are Disney Princess movies damaging to young girls as they’ll think that all that’s important in life is being pretty & snagging a rich guy?”. Absolute bullshit. As long as you teach your kids right from wrong & reality from fantasy, they won’t be forever damaged by watching a harmless Disney film. The original Disney Princess movies are OLD (like me!) and I & other women my age grew up with them and most of us have ended up pretty well adjusted (well, I have my crazy moments but Disney certainly isn’t to blame). Let’s worry more about the boys playing Grand Theft Auto & girls thinking that The Kardashians are “reality” and that that’s the way they should live life. At least Cinderella actually worked. While singing! And making cute outfits for mice. And keeping her ass covered. And not being a superficial bitch even though she was hot. I’m going off on one of my tangents now so, my point is, CHILL. I’d love to live in a world where Disney movies were the biggest thing we had to worry about when it came to raising our kids. Some of their values may be outdated, especially when it comes to the roles of women, but they always tried to teach kids the right sort of morals & had their heart in the right place.

The unfortunate thing with this Cinderella remake is that I think they managed to make Cinderella herself have even less personality than she did in the 1950 film. I know they’re really pushing the “always be kind & brave” thing in this one so I AM glad that she stays kind-hearted & true to herself but, taking out the classic songs from the original (especially the amazing “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo“, one of My Top Ten Disney Songs), leaves this live action remake far inferior as it’s basically the same movie again but without the catchy songs. (FYI – Helena Bonham Carter does at least sing the song through the credits). Oh! And can I just point out that that big, puffy, ostentatious blue dress may get all the attention in this movie but Cinderella’s wedding dress is absolutely stunning! Wow. SPOILER if you’d like the dress to be a surprise but I have to include a picture of it:

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Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. As I said, I’m not one of these “this movie gives girls unrealistic expectations blah blah blah!” moms. Everyone knows this story & it stays very faithful to the original Disney film. Nothing in it will do anyone any harm (in my opinion) but my kid did loudly proclaim “That’s THREE people who died now!” toward the end so, as usual with a typical Disney movie, you may get some “death talk” with your kid but every parent has to deal with death questions from their kids anyway.

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Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
Yes. I like all the Disney classics & wanted to see how they’d handle this live adaptation. However, if it wasn’t for the Frozen Fever short before the film, I’d probably have waited to watch it at home instead of in the cinema/theater.

My Rating: 7/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

My daughter really liked this. Of course she did – she’s six. She loves Disney movies, as to be expected. However, she’s never been too overly crazy about any of the Disney Princess movies until the phenomenon that is FROZEN came along. (Her two favorite movies are Frozen and Star Wars so you can’t accuse me of just raising a Disney Princess). She currently claims to like this live-action version of Cinderella better than the original because she “liked the lizards and the golden carriage” but you know kids – she’s just saying that since it’s more recent in her mind. Trust me – the original is far superior. ;-)

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Favorite Part:
The entire Fairy Godmother “transformation” scene & the bit where Cinderella first meets the prince in the forest.

Least Favorite Part:
Slight Spoiler:
“When the stepmother smashed the glass slipper.”

Overall Attention Level:
85%. She seemed very tired, though, so I think it could have been higher. However, her attention level was at 100% during the Cinderella transformation scene with the Fairy Godmother.

The Kid’s Rating: 8/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:

Did Cinderella’s hair, shoulders and chest REALLY need vajazzling? It would have been more timeless without…

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Frozen Fever (2015)

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

Starring:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad

Running time: 7 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Elsa overcompensates by preparing to throw Anna the best birthday party ever since she was such a cold-hearted bitch for years & didn’t even want to build a snowman with her. But she refuses to invite Hans or John Travolta.

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My (Mommy’s) Opinion:

I loved Frozen Fever! It’s totally adorable plus, of course, I loved seeing how happy it made my daughter which always makes me have extra affection for something. I’m not really going to say anything more about this short, however, as I enjoyed it FAR more not knowing anything about it beforehand. Unfortunately, I think loads of pictures have been released online anyway, spoiling the short’s most adorably sneezy surprise. Avoid knowing anything about this one beforehand if you can. It’s very sweet & maintains the same sense of humor as the original film.

Anything Inappropriate/Scary?:
No. Unless you’re offended by adorable cuteness.

Would I Watch This If I Didn’t Have To?:
YES! I personally really like Frozen & wanted to see this more than I wanted to see Cinderella.

My Rating: 8/10

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The Kid’s Opinion:

She’s a young girl so, duh – she absolutely loved this. Those who don’t have kids may not realize just how crazy little girls are for Frozen. It’s bizarre! They’ve latched onto Frozen in a way far beyond other girl-aimed films of recent years such as Tangled or Brave. Elsa mania is everywhere!!! And I’m okay with that – I think it’s the strongest Disney film in years & more deserving of the hysteria than a lot of other kids films for girls lately. This is just like the movie with all the favorite characters included so there’s no way that kids who love Frozen won’t love Frozen Fever.

Overall Attention Level:
100%.

The Kid’s Rating: 10/10

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Daddy’s Opinion:
“What happens when she sharts?”

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Ex Machina (2015) Review

table9mutant:

Hi all! I thought I’d share my review for Ex Machina again since I’ve been too sick to do anything on the blog this week. I believe this movie is FINALLY coming out in America today? It’s my favorite film of the year so far & I highly recommend it to any sci-fi fans. Let me know what you think if you see it. :-)

Originally posted on Cinema Parrot Disco:

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Ex Machina (2015)

Directed by Alex Garland

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson
Oscar Isaac
Alicia Vikander

Running time: 108 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

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My Opinion:

Ex Machina was one of my most anticipated movies for this year. Sci-fi is my favorite genre and Ex Machina certainly didn’t disappoint in that department. It even makes up for the inferior Interstellar, which I found to be a pretty big disappointment. Ex Machina doesn’t really give us anything new as far as the exploration of artificial intelligence or “the singularity” but it’s a topic I’ve always found fascinating (such as in the obscure Electroma, which I reviewed HERE) and I think it does a decent job with a popular sci-fi concept.

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First of all…

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The Lion King (1994) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kim of Tranquil Dreams. Thanks for the review, Kim! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about The Lion King, IMDB rank 79 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.

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The Lion King (1994)

Director: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff

Cast (Voice): Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane, Robert Guillaume, Moira Kelly

Young Simba’s destiny is to one day take his father’s place on Pride Rock as King. Not really understanding the full responsibilities of it, he runs around heading into certain troubles. Luckily his father Mufasa is always there for him. When his father dies trying to save him, his Uncle Scar scares him into running away from his past. Its there he learns from a meerkat Timon and warthog called Pumbaa to live life with no worries. Thats until the past catches up with him and he learns about the maltreatment of Pride Rock after Scar has become King. Its his choice whether to go back to face his past, assume his place and save Pride Rock or continue hiding from it.

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I’m a huge fan of Disney animations. MEGA fan! I own a whole lot of the movies and I schedule in when the vault releases are so that I can get the movies when they come out. I haven’t seen all the Disney classics but I’ve seen a good bunch of them. The Lion King was one that came out when I was 8. Its one of the memorable animations that linger on in your mind even if I never owned a copy of my own. To say the least, there isn’t a time when The Lion King would pop up in my head and the word masterpiece doesn’t pop up.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for this review, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to watch it quite so soon. Its not because I don’t love it because I’m sure I do. I guess there’s always a worry that some movies are only good because of nostalgia. The Lion King is definitely not one of those. Sure, there’s nostalgia but The Lion King is a movie experience with a beautiful story full of a roller coaster of emotions.

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The animation itself is mesmerizing with all its sharp colors, stellar landscapes and pretty animals. Its full of catchy songs that will stick in your head for a long time. Trust me, I haven’t seen this in at least 15 years and I knew the words to most of these songs. The whole African beat and chant with Circle of Life with the fun-filled music like I Just Wanna Be King and Hakuna Matata makes this absolutely unforgettable.

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Aside from that, the voice cast is fantastic. You watch them as they bring life to each of the characters. The young and playful Simba, stern and responsible Zazu, brave father figure Mufasa, sly Scar and the hysterical yet stupid hyenas. Of course we can’t forget the inspiring yet slightly weird Rafiki and the hilarious duo, Timon and Pumbaa. Other than how well the actual animation is done, the voice cast is a big contributing factor and The Lion King has got that down as well. Its with this same cast that can make the audiences connect with these animated characters. That is exactly how The Lion King can bring on the feelings of being happy and free then sad and disappointed whenever the story shifted into a different scene.

The Lion King is beautifully animated, has catchy songs and is filled with talented voice performances bringing life to memorable characters. However, the story itself not only brings on a span of different emotions but also some valuable lessons about being responsible and not running away from your past among the many many other themes. The Lion King is definitely a must-watch and a masterpiece in the Disney collection that will give its audience an unforgettable movie experience.

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My Top Ten Paul Rudd Movies

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Happy Birthday to Paul Rudd, who is 46 today. :-)

I’ve had a crush on Paul Rudd ever since he was in Clueless (and his character made my list of My Top Ten Movie Crushes while his gorgeous eyes made THIS Top Ten list). He’s funny as well as cute so what’s not to love?

FYI – I’m putting this post together at 4:00am because I’m really sick & can’t stop coughing so this will be one of my lazy top tens where I only list my ten favorites without providing an explanation. So feel free to discuss them with me in the comments! However, I’m tired & grumpy so I won’t take any shit over hating Anchorman. ;-)

So here are My Top Ten Paul Rudd Movies counting down from ten:

10. The Shape Of Things

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9. This Is 40

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8. This Is The End

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7. Monsters Vs Aliens

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6. The 40 Year-Old Virgin

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5. Romeo + Juliet

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4. Night At The Museum (I’ve not reviewed the first one but did review the 3rd one HERE after a trip to the actual museum)

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3. Role Models

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2. Clueless

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1. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

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And here he is on one of my all-time Top Ten TV Shows. Love it!

**This Is 40 is in my recent poll asking you which movie I should review next (but only has one or two votes – the current leader is Spirited Away). You can still vote in that poll HERE if you want. I won’t start reviewing the winners until next week (especially as I’m sick now). I feel awful. I need a hug. :-(

Mondo’s Back To The Future Part II Poster Art By Matt Taylor

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Hi all! I have nothing ready to post for today (but I suppose no one will be around anyway since it’s Good Friday) so here’s another one of my movie poster posts! I always love the Mondo posters & this Back To The Future Part II one is from artist Matt Taylor (see it at GeekTyrant HERE). He also did the below poster for the first film a few months ago:

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Thanks to everyone who has voted in my Which movie should I review next? poll. So far, Spirited Away looks like it’ll be the winner (hey – I DID do a bunch of Studio Ghibli reviews through all of January…). ;-) I’m on vacation at the moment so won’t be reviewing any of those quite yet (plus I have a review of the new Cinderella that’s 90% written which I’ll post first) but I’ll review the ones with the most votes as soon as I can. I’m leaving the poll open so you can still keep voting through next week – I’ll probably start posting the winners the week after. You can vote HERE.

I hope you all have a lovely Easter! :-)

POLL: Which Movie Should I Review Next?

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I was making a list the other day of all the movies I’ve watched in the last year & never got around to reviewing. Well, I decided I may as well stick them all in another one of my “what should I review next” polls because I’m pretty sure you all love when I do that! Right?! Although, the last time I did a similar poll, you all voted for me to review Moshi Monsters: The Movie so I’m not sure if you can all be trusted to make such an important decision… ;-)

Anyway! Here it is. I believe I made it so you can choose up to five. I’ll review the top five before any others on the list. Probably. If you choose wisely. Sorry my poll is so long! (Hmm. Maybe I should reword that)

American Beauty (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Steven of Past, Present, Future In TV And Film. Thanks for the review, Steven! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about American Beauty, IMDB rank 51 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.

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The American family. Such a mystery at times. This easily explains why films and television love to portray them in various ways. What we see in public, is usually just that, what we see.

The DreamWorks Pictures film “American Beauty”, seems to create a very dysfunctional family that aims to be perfect and outstanding to all those on the outside, but with more than just dramatic flare.

This drama stars Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”, “Horrible Bosses”), Annette Bening (“The Face of Love”, “Girl Most Likely”), Thora Birch (“Petunia”, “Pregnancy Pact”), Wes Bentley (“American Horror Story”, “Cesar Chavez”), Mena Suvari (“Chicago Fire”, “American Reunion”), Allison Janney (“Mom”, “Tammy”), and Chris Cooper (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2″, “August: Osage County”) and Peter Gallagher (” Covert Affairs”, “Whitney”).

The film was directed by Sam Mendes (“Skyfall”, “Away We Go”). It was written by Alan Ball (“True Blood”, “Towelhead”).

The film originally opened in theaters on Oct. 1, 1999 after a limited release on Sept. 8. The film would later go on to receive eight Academy Awards nominations; winning five including Best Picture, six Golden Globe award nominations; winning three including Best Picture-Drama, and four Screen Actors Guild nominations; winning three including Best Cast in a Motion Picture.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of dark humor. Most of what makes this film absolutely fun too watch, is how there’s a level of satire throughout. It’s not just from bits of dialogue but more importantly situations that occur. One situation later in the film is when Spacey’s character is just lounging at home and playing with a toy race car, when in walks Bening. She’s surprised and as they move into conversation, Spacey’s trying to seduce her. When it seems like things will succeed, she notices that he’s about to spill his beer on the nice couch of hers. Much like many of his actions in the film he turns into some sort of antagonistic person just to spite her.

There’s also a scene involving Bentley and Spacey that’s misinterpreted completely by Cooper’s very conservative father character. Cooper see’s his son, Bentley, over at Spacey’s and believes that there’s some sort of affair going on between them. While I’ll argue Cooper’s character brought this on himself, as he’s too strict and intrusive, it’s a pretty funny set up and speaks so well to his character.

The characters are all so fascinating because of who they are behind closed doors. Which, let’s face it, is pretty much what this film is representing. Incredibly flawed people, but wonderful when out in public. One scene that sent me into fits of laughter was when Bening was preparing herself to show a house, the ridiculous ritual she went through to psych herself up. Everything was so specifically planned and executed that it goes beyond that of a perfectionist. Later, after being unsuccessful, she’s slapping herself and crying for the failure she sees herself as. She’s a perfectionist and cherishes this kind of ideal family, where everything’s perfect, so it’s absolutely hilarious. Even Bening’s look for this character, is perfect! Everything is in place and impeccable, definitely that of a perfectionist. In its own way, this film is like a modern day version of “Ordinary People”, but without the huge and incredibly dramatic story.

While everyone really shined, it was Cooper, that stole the show. His conservative retired Marine Corps Colonel, even all these years later, was a far cry from anything I’d seen him play before. When he came on screen and continued to show his dominance over his family, which was evident from the way Janney’s character behaved, as well as Bentley’s, there was something of a pull towards his character. For a man you could spend much of the film disliking, there was still enough to make him somewhat vulnerable and remind you that he too is human.

One thing that I definitely noticed was the score created by Thomas Newman (“Get on Up”, “Saving Mr. Banks”). For films that aren’t action films it seems difficult to capture the feeling of a dramatic film or a comedy. Here, Newman managed to balance both. He created playful tunes and dramatic tones to fit the moment, which was usually brought on by something the character was doing or feeling. The score helped to make the film a bit more satirical at times and whimsical. Either being its own character or enhancing the different characters in the film.

Somehow, and this I find difficult to discuss most of the time, I love how brilliant the writing for this film is. The first moment I saw this film, and when I came back to it, I was hooked by all that was going on. The characters are each so different and well defined that it didn’t take much to decide how I should feel towards each one. One scene early on, that shows this is when the family is leaving the house and Bening and Birch are both impatient, but Spacey is going as fast as he can. Somehow it’s not enough. His briefcase falls open and that just manages to annoy both of them even more. Then you add in the general nature of the dialogue and you get so much clever, dark, and witty humor. It helps to define what stages they’re in in their lives and how they view each other. This writing makes for some pretty interesting situations throughout this film, that it’s hard to look away.

As a film lover I’m constantly aware of films from the past, especially those that earn widespread acclaim. However, there’s something that usually keeps me from seriously seeking out these films. Fortunately this film was just one of those films, otherwise, I don’t know if I could appreciate it for what it is and enjoy every aspect of the film. I can easily imagine missing so much of the humor or not being able to form my own thought on what I feel this film represents. Some things you can only appreciate when you’re older.

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Starter For 10 (2006) Review

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Starter For 10 (2006)

Directed by Tom Vaughan

Produced by Tom Hanks, Pippa Harris & Sam Mendes

Written by David Nicholls

Starring:
James McAvoy
Alice Eve
Benedict Cumberbatch
Rebecca Hall
Dominic Cooper
Catherine Tate
James Corden

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Starter for 10 is a 2006 British comedy-drama film directed by Tom Vaughan from a screenplay by David Nicholls, adapted from his own novel Starter for Ten. The film stars James McAvoy as a university student who wins a place on a University Challenge quiz team.

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My Opinion:

I decided to watch this the other day after reading a review from the lovely Emma on MovieRob’s blog (HERE). I’d known about it but hadn’t known that it was set in my beloved 1980s until I read her review so that was all I needed to convince me to watch it.

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Starter For Ten is a book by David Nicholls. I’ve not read it (but Emma has & says it’s of course better than the movie). I did read One Day by David Nicholls and, although it’s very flawed, I still liked the book & the movie (despite the fact that Anne Hathaway was in it – staring at Jim Sturgess & his big brown eyes helped a little). Plus, as I said, Starter For 10 is set in the EIGHTIES! Woohoo! Well, unfortunately, the movie is a bit bland. And as for the 1980s, this is one of those movies where it doesn’t actually look or feel all that much like that decade even though they throw in as much music as possible from that era. Don’t get me wrong – I love 80’s music. At one point I looked at the hubby & said “are they actually playing my playlist?” as it’s filled with things like New Order, The Smiths, Tears For Fears and LOADS of songs from The Cure. It’s nice hearing a bunch of my favorite songs but, at the same time, it also feels very lazy on the part of the filmmakers. It’s like “See? Our movie is set in the eighties because we’re playing The Cure! Ignore Alice Eve with her big boobs & her very un-eighties clothes & blonde highlights – just listen to Motörhead!”

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I will say this movie is only really worth a watch if you’re a fan of any of its stars or if you enjoy similar British films. There are some very big names in Starter For 10 so it was fun seeing them just before most of them made it really big in blockbusters like the X-Men, Star Trek & Iron Man series of films. The storyline was extremely predictable to the point of almost being annoying (I’m talking especially about the romance!) but, when the group finally appear on the game show they’ve been preparing for, the film does get a little more fun. The movie is very “British” and I couldn’t help but compare it to Nick Hornby’s books & movies. I have to say I far prefer Hornby & would recommend his stuff over this (especially the book High Fidelity). Overall, Starter For 10 just didn’t really work for me. It’s not a bad movie but the predictable plot and one-dimensional characters just left me feeling “Meh. So what?”. Watch it if you like the actors but first check out some Nick Hornby. And The Cure’s greatest hits!

My Rating: 5.5/10

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American History X (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. She’s also reviewed Kill Bill: Vol 1& Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl. Thanks for the reviews, Abbi! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about American History X, IMDB rank 34 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.

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In probably his most celebrated role, Edward Norton plays Derek Vinyard, one of the leaders of a local White Supremacist group who is jailed after brutally murdering two African-American gang members attempting to steal his truck.

On the day of Derek’s release from prison, his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong) is called to the principal’s (Avery Brooks) office after writing an essay on Mein Kampfand its influence on the civil rights movement. Principal Sweeny then sets Danny the task of writing a new essay explaining the events that led to his brother’s arrest and conviction.

As Danny simultaneously attempts to unpick his brother’s past and deal with the fact that Derek has come back changed, both Derek’s former associates and enemies close in with devastating consequences.

As much as American History X may outwardly seem like a study on racism, more than anything it is an exploration of feelings of powerlessness and how they lead to anger and ultimately hatred and destruction. Derek’s prejudice against anyone who isn’t a white protestant has little to do with the actual target of his hatred but rather a desire to belong to a movement where he feels empowered. The irony of Derek’s belief that people of other races and religions are inferior to him is that those he hates are driven by exactly the same feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness that he is and act out with similar impulses… and it’s all a distraction from the way corporate America oppresses its poor.

There isn’t anything particularly unique about this story of a confused young man learning the error of his ways and not wanting his brother to follow in his footsteps but there are a number of elements that elevate American History X above other similar films.

First is the non-linear story-telling. Director, Tony Kaye, slowly reveals what is not only behind Derek’s change of heart but also his original prejudices concurrent with his current post-release experiences with the past shown in black and white. It keeps the audience hooked in until the end wanting to understand who Derek really is. It also adds a level of drama and grittiness to Derek’s past, demonstrating how he sees the world in completely black and white terms. In the present day his experiences are in full colour, showing how his perception has changed. It’s a simple but effective device.

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Second is the powerful performances. Edward Norton manages to capture Derek’s power, charisma and confidence but as he enters the prison system and his vision of the world starts to unravel his mask begins to slip and he moves from being a character it is easy to revile to a nuanced sympathetic one. Furlong also gives what is probably the only decent performance of his career as a boy at a crossroads with the potential to build himself and new future that doesn’t include repeating his brother’s mistakes. They are ably supported bythe two men who have the most influence over Derek’s life. Stacy Keach as Cameron Alexander, the fascist leader who lets Derek do his dirty work while he keeps his own hands clean and Avery Brooks as the educator who ultimately believes that Derek is capable of more than his past actions. Guy Torry is also engaging, playing Lamont, a fellow convict who ultimately breaks Derek’s prejudices through friendship.

Thirdly, Derek is never portrayed as stupid. Although his beliefs are abhorrent and there is no way to justify them, it is easy to see how his arguments convince the disempowered around him as well as how he has convinced himself. And the fact that the gangs he directs the majority of his rage at are hardly innocents adds to the believability.

Finally the film does not shy away from showing brutality of its characters, refusing to shy away from who they really are, with one particularly horrific scene proving to be the one thing that everyone remembers turning away from. And this is equally matched by some of Derek’s experiences in prison.

While there is no question that American History X is a powerful, hard-hitting film with a strong and valuable message on occasion it’s a little over dramatic and at times it strays towards predictability. It’s definitely a worthy entry to the IMDB top 250 though and one I would highly recommend. 4/5

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