My Top Ten Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies

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Happy Birthday to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who turns 68 today! Yes, 68! Wow – he looked pretty great in Terminator Genisys.

Being a girl, I’m not going to pretend like I worship Arnold Schwarzenegger or anything. However, I do really love a few of his films & always preferred him to other DUDES in “movies for DUDES” such as Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme & especially Steven Seagal (Ew).

So, in honor of Arnie’s birthday, here are My Top Ten Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies, counting down from ten (btw – I’ve not seen all of his movies):

10. Dave (I barely remember this but hated the remainder I’ve seen – True Lies, Jingle All The Way & Junior – so couldn’t include those!)

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9. Commando (all I really remember is liking that Alyssa Milano was in this – maybe I should have just done a top five! ;-) )

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8. Terminator Genisys

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7. Total Recall (although I don’t recall so much of this anymore – time for a re-watch!)

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6. Twins

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5. The Running Man

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4. Kindergarten Cop

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3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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2. Predator

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1. The Terminator

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**There are a lot of big celebrity birthdays today (I almost did a Richard Linklater list instead) so here’s wishing a Happy Birthday to these celebrities as well:

Christopher Nolan (I’m sorry, Chris, but I hated Interstellar. The Prestige is excellent, though!)

Richard Linklater (I love you, dude, so I’m very sorry I trashed your movie Slacker on Monday)

Peter Bogdanovich (thank you for making Mask! it’s one of my top ten favorite movies but I always ALWAYS cry, dammit. Damn those map pins!!!!!)

Laurence Fishburne (you may be in a lot of movies but my personal favorite of yours is Searching For Bobby Fischer. it’s an excellent underrated film!)

Lisa Kudrow (hey Lisa, you were the best female character on Friends!)

Christine Taylor (you were great as Marcia in The Brady Bunch Movie! I’m sorry that you lost your hair in The Craft & that you have to be married to Ben Stiller)

Hilary Swank (you may have an Oscar but you’ll always be the girl in The Next Karate Kid to me)

Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill rules! sorry you were killed first. oh wait… it’s a Tarantino movie… maybe it wasn’t all in chronological order)

Jean Reno (it’s not my favorite movie ever but you were great in Léon)

Jaime Pressly (I loved you on My Name Is Earl!)

– Also: Happy Birthday to adorable Wil Wheaton yesterday and to sexy Michael Biehn, Kyle Reese himself from my favorite movie on this list, tomorrow. You’re 59 tomorrow, Michael, so I guess I’ll have to kiss you 59 times! Or is it 59 spanks?

eXistenZ (1999) Review

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eXistenZ (1999)

Directed & Written by David Cronenberg

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

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My Opinion:

I’d call myself a David Cronenberg fan although there are quite a few movies of his from recent years that I haven’t seen. Looking at everything he’s directed, all my favorites are from 1979 to 1986. This is when he was at his body horror best and I far preferred that style to the more realistic violence of things like A History Of Violence (although it’s a good film). I suppose that’s why I haven’t gotten around to watching more of his post-1986 movies. 1999’s eXistenZ is a return, somewhat, to the older Cronenberg that I like best. It’s certainly not as good as The Fly, Videodrome, The Brood, etc, but I did enjoy it and it’s made me want to try harder to watch the rest of his films that I’ve not seen.

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I find that a lot of these older “virtual reality” movies don’t really age well. That sort of thing is so much more advanced than we’d have thought possible even back in 1999 so, although it may have been groundbreaking at the time(?), that side of things isn’t as impressive when watching this for the first time in 2015. Just like Snow Crash was a great book in 1992 but it’s weird that they’re choosing to make it into a film now (although I’m really anxious to see if they manage to do a good job with that one!). Can I just say that I think it should be a law or something that any cyberpunk film being made nowadays should have a score by Daft Punk? Yes, I did like TRON: Legacy more than a lot of people seemed to. ;-) Hey – since I’m totally off track now (I’ll get back to eXistenZ in a minute), can someone please tell me the name of a horror movie I caught part of on cable in maybe 1996/1997 or so where these teenagers were being killed inside a video game? No, I can’t even name any of the actors in it. I’ve been trying to find out what that movie was for years now… Okay – back to eXistenZ!

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I didn’t hate Jude Law in this! I mean, I didn’t love him but he was totally tolerable. I also thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was very good – I’ve always thought she was a bit of an odd one but this role really “fit” her. Maybe she should have done more strange films like this one? And I loved her hair! I liked the partially crimped thing she had at first and then how it was fully done while in the virtual world. I know I sound like a girly girl going on about a hairstyle but, looking back on how this movie ended, I’m thinking the hair is kind of important to figuring out what the hell is going on… Amiright?! Probably not but, if I watch this again, I’m going to watch her hair more closely throughout it. I thought she was really pretty in this, actually – I never really thought that about her. I’d have to say this is my favorite role of hers now.

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The story in eXistenZ first felt pretty straightforward, then was a bit all over the place Cronenberg-style, then the ending felt a bit “really? that’s it?! I could have guessed that but it seemed too simple!”. But maybe it’s NOT that simple? I suppose it’s one of those movies that could do with a second (or third) viewing to fully understand what’s going on but I often like to think there’s more to movies than there really is. I’m sure I missed some symbolism (other than the usual, obvious vaginal thing that Cronenberg loves, this time in the form of a “port” in people’s lower backs that they use to link directly into Leigh’s virtual reality game. with a cord that looks like a cross between an umbilical cord & a penis, of course!). It was pretty gross, actually. I loved it! Very Cronenberg. As was a very cool “gun” made out of bones & human teeth.

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There are several big names in this so it was surprising that they all had pretty small roles (Ian Holm, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe). They’re not necessarily unimportant roles but Law & Leigh are in it the most by far, so it’s good that they worked really well for the film & had a good chemistry. Perhaps it’s why this film isn’t as big as some of Cronenberg’s others, though, as the two main stars weren’t exactly big names compared to other films he’d done (Law is more famous now than I remember him being in 1999). Plus, they’re a bit younger and they’re attractive so it almost feels like this movie is aimed more at a younger generation but I don’t think a young audience (early twenties) will have gone for this movie as it’s far too “strange” for a time when American Pie was the big movie of the year. (I’m not trashing American Pie – I like that one too).

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Anyway, eXistenZ passed me by at the time (as I think it did a lot of other people) but, although it’s not as good as Cronenberg’s very best, it’s still of a similar sort of style to his best films and I enjoyed it. There’s just enough “WTF?” and “that’s kind of disgusting” moments to keep Cronenberg fans happy but I’d probably only recommend this one to his fans.

My Rating: 7/10

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Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kelechi of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Thanks for the review, Kelechi! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, IMDB rank 37 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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“Hello?… Uh… Hello D- uh hello Dmitri? Listen uh uh I can’t hear too well. Do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little?… Oh-ho, that’s much better… yeah… huh… yes… Fine, I can hear you now, Dmitri… Clear and plain and coming through fine… I’m coming through fine, too, eh?… Good, then… well, then, as you say, we’re both coming through fine… Good… Well, it’s good that you’re fine and… and I’m fine… I agree with you, it’s great to be fine… a-ha-ha-ha-ha… Now then, Dmitri, you know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb… The *Bomb*, Dmitri… The *hydrogen* bomb!… Well now, what happened is… ahm… one of our base commanders, he had a sort of… well, he went a little funny in the head… you know… just a little… funny. And, ah… he went and did a silly thing… Well, I’ll tell you what he did. He ordered his planes… to attack your country… Ah… Well, let me finish, Dmitri… Let me finish, Dmitri… Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?… Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Dmitri?… Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello?… *Of course* I like to speak to you!” – President Murkin Muffley

Nominated for four Oscars at the 1965 Academy Awards, Dr. Strangelove is based on a fictional and calamitous series of events where an insane general sets in motion the path to a nuclear war.  Fighting to save the world from total annihilation, it is up to the President of the United States (Peter Sellers), other leaders and generals in the war room to save us all.

One thing I absolutely love about Dr. Strangelove is that it’s filmed in black and white.  If you’re watching this for the first time without reading the plot or having no knowledge of the film, on the surface you probably see this as a dark, tense documentary style film based on a very serious matter.  There’s nothing to hide in a black and white film – all the permutations are laid out on the screen.  However, there is one thing that sets it apart.  When you see the delightful Peter Sellers playing three distinctive yet memorable characters, your mind is put at ease.  What you have let yourself in for is 95 minutes worth of genius, satirical comedy.

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The greatest achievement in Dr. Strangelove is taking a familiar and fearful concept and turning it into a comedy that is both hilarious but also a social commentary on the real world.  It’s the biggest hurdle the film faces and in the wrong hands, Dr. Strangelove could have been remembered as something entirely different.  Originally it was meant to be a serious piece until director Stanley Kubrick and writer of the novel (which this film was based on) Peter George decided to change its tone.  What they delivered was a particular type of comedy.  This is not a slapstick comedy in the vein of Airplane or The Naked Gun.  The humour is more deadpan and cerebral as if every character totally and genuinely believes in what they’re saying and doing.  As the audience, this only increases the disbelief and the laughter we get from it.

The theme of the entire film is based on one principle – fear.  It’s the fear from the enemy.  It’s the fear from your closest friends and their actions.  It’s the fear of not fulfilling your duty and your job to the letter.  What sets off this chain of events belongs to one general – General Ripper (Sterling Hayden).

Ripper believes that politicians and leaders are incapable of handling war situations – too much talking and not enough affirmative action.  He’s a no-nonsense style general who would rather let his soldiers shoot first then ask questions later.  Through sheer paranoia based on the idea that the commies are going to take over our fluids (yes you read that correctly), he takes matters into his own hands and gives the order to a B-52 bomber to drop a nuclear bomb on the Russians.  Trust me, if you suddenly feel the urge to shake your head wondering how he came to this conclusion, you are not alone!

Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.” – General “Buck” Turgidson

Because Dr. Strangelove is set during the height of the Cold War doesn’t make it irrelevant.  I think there are plenty of lessons that Kubrick infuses which make the war room aspect easier to parody.  The whole idea of the film is designed to make you feel uncomfortable and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if scenarios like in Dr. Strangelove happened in real life.

It’s a scary notion seeing how easy it is to launch an attack on another country, with one man “pushing” the self-destruction button with such ease and no concern for anyone else.  It’s a scary notion knowing that all the failsafe plans to stop it, has an abundance of technical or procedural loopholes, which can’t be overturned.  It’s a scary notion how people of authority can react so stupidly, like Colonel Guano telling Mandrake that he would have to answer to Coca-Cola for shooting at the vending machine for change.  There are many more examples which I won’t spoil for you, but everything descends into madness all based on fine margins of political and diplomatic posturing.

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The film does have its tense moments with the paratroopers on board Major Kong’s B-52 plane as a case example.  They go through their manual checks before locating their target and dropping the bomb, all to the backdrop soundtrack of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”  This reinforces the scare factor of the film with precise attention to detail of the crew’s operations.  It reminds the audience the seriousness amongst the humorous stupidity.

Even the character names are interesting – General Jack D. Ripper aka Jack the Ripper.  Coincidence?  I think not, but these supposedly cool-headed individuals in the highest positions of power revert to uncontrollable eccentric behaviour.  Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove is a classic example.  His character is in the film for the briefest of moments but his impact is unforgettable, playing a former Nazi German scientist, most likely pardoned for his crimes but enthusiastically provides advice on eugenics to the President of the United States.  Turginson who rapidly inserts chewing gum into his mouth in every scene he’s in, is an animated individual. He’s always concerned about what the enemy is going to do in a particular scenario and his energy feeds into that paranoia.  It’s a brilliant performance by George C. Scott who is a standout alongside Peter Sellers.

Dr. Strangelove is a film hell bent on showing humanity at its lowest ebb.  Even when the world is at stake, common sense should prevail but the distrust and fear of the enemy is the real winner.  It’s filled with surreal moments such as the often-parodied scene where Major Kong rides the bomb as if he’s participating at a rodeo.  The ending with Vera Lynn singing while the world blows itself up is a bleak reminder of what the world could become and the whole absurdity of war.  Kubrick’s careful balance keeps the message on point yet at the same time the satirical jokes will live with you for years.

It’s safe to say, you will have a blast watching this!

Drugstore Cowboy, At Close Range & Slacker Movie Reviews

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Here are three more mini-reviews of movies I don’t have enough to say about to fill a full review for each! Sound exciting? Two were okay but one totally sucked…

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Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Directed by Gus Van Sant & Based on Drugstore Cowboy by James Fogle

Starring: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Remar, James LeGros, Heather Graham, William Burroughs

My Opinion:

It seems like I’ve watched quite a few movies about people who are addicted to drugs but they’re never exactly favorites of mine. It’s certainly something I can’t relate to as I’m afraid I’m going to OD if I take one little wussy aspirin for a headache. The last drug movie I watched was The Basketball Diaries, which was also based on the real-life drug addiction of the story’s author. That movie was a little disappointing but had a good performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. I maybe liked it slightly more than this but Drugstore Cowboy is probably a bit better as a film.

The problem with these drug movies is that, even though they show the terrible effects that drugs have on people, I think they still manage to glamorize drug addiction to a certain degree. Diaries is more guilty of that than Cowboy – I think Drugstore Cowboy tells a more straightforward story without trying to appear too “cool”. However, it also makes for a slightly more boring film.

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I’ve never really liked Matt Dillon with his gormless face & Bert from Sesame Street eyebrows but I guess he’s fine in this (he’s just not on a Leonardo DiCaprio level acting-wise). Kelly Lynch was pretty good as Dillon’s bossy, horny girlfriend (or I think she may have been his wife?). I haven’t really seen Lynch in many films but all I ever think of is how Bill Murray calls her husband to tell him that Kelly is having sex with Patrick Swayze anytime Road House is playing on TV (I really need to watch that movie – it looks so gloriously bad). I was surprised to see a very young Heather Graham looking all cute like she did in License To Drive. That’s the thing with these Hollywood drug movies – you’d think only really attractive people become addicted to drugs.

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Overall, I liked Drugstore Cowboy okay but I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s life. It’s not as hard-hitting as some of the other drug addiction films that are out there but it does a decent job telling the story of a group of people who rob drugstores to feed their addiction and what a pointless existence they’re living.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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At Close Range (1986)

Directed by James Foley

Starring: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Crispin Glover, Tracey Walter, Christopher Penn, Kiefer Sutherland

My Opinion:

At Close Range is probably the best movie of these three but I really had no idea how mean and violent it was going to be. All I really knew of the movie was what I saw in the clips of that Madonna video Live To Tell. It’s an Eighties movie that I missed out on at the time but always kind of wanted to see (probably because of that video). When it appeared on Netflix, I decided to watch it after being reminded that Mary Stuart Masterson is in it (and Crispin Glover! he’s his usual weird, Crispin Glover self in this). Oh yeah – and Christopher Penn! I’ve always liked him more than grumpy Sean.

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I didn’t know that this movie was based on the true story of a notorious crime family in Pennsylvania in the 1960s & 70s. There’s very little information on the real life criminals on Wikipedia so I can’t say how accurate the movie is but it’s a very gritty film and Walken is truly evil in this role. It was strange to see Walken playing a bad guy with absolutely no over-the-top acting or sick sense of humor like in movies such as Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. I absolutely HATED this guy (as you’re meant to) so I guess you can say that Walken played the role really well despite a very distracting hairstyle.

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At Close Range follows Sean Penn’s character and his estranged criminal father, played by Walken, who suddenly appears back in his son’s life and involves him in the family’s crime ring with very tragic consequences. Looking up the true story, I saw just how young these kids were when all this occurred (Penn’s character, his brother, his friends & his 15-year-old girlfriend) and I found it quite heartbreaking to see how this group of adult criminals were able to so easily use these young kids, some of them their own family, with absolutely no remorse.

At Close Range was a much darker movie than I was expecting for some reason (maybe because of that Madonna video) but I suppose it was a pretty good film. I’m just not normally a fan of true crime films as I find them too upsetting and the treatment of Penn’s & Masterson’s characters was especially difficult to watch. I’d recommend this if it sounds like your type of movie but be prepared to hate Walken’s character and to possibly feel a little angry when it finishes.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Slacker (1991)

Directed & Written by Richard Linklater

Starring: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Mark James, Stella Weir, John Slate, Louis Mackey, Teresa Taylor

My Opinion:

I love Richard Linklater. I really do. Dazed And Confused is a favorite movie of mine and I really liked Boyhood even though a lot of people hated it. Bernie was pretty damn good as well, I love the relationship in the Before films, and School Of Rock is a huge guilty pleasure of mine (although I shouldn’t feel guilty about it – it’s great! Jack Black haters be GONE!). So…. I decided it was about time I check out Linklater’s feature length debut Slacker.

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Slacker has a high IMDB rating for an older film (7.1/10). I knew it was loads of “talking” like most of his films, which I don’t mind. Dazed And Confused and the Before films are loads of talking. The difference is that those films have characters we give a shit about and a f*%king STORY instead of a bunch of random idiots telling stupid, boring stories that have absolutely no connection to each other.

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I’m sorry to anyone who is a fan of this one but I just do NOT get the appeal. It would be okay if the pointless talking was funny and entertaining like it was in Dazed And Confused but none of it is funny or entertaining. Scratch that – the chick in the photo above (and the poster) is mildly (emphasis on mildly) entertaining as she discusses buying a Madonna pap smear (hey – a Madonna connection to my previous review!). I guess that’s why that character ended up on the poster as she’s the only one I can even remember other than Linklater himself, who starts off the string of pointless talking in the very first scene.

I guess the one good thing about Slacker is that it was the start of Linklater’s career. I’m still a fan of his as he went on to make much (much!) better films than this one but Slacker is a huge waste of time for anyone who isn’t a slacker and has better things to do with their time.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Streets Of Fire (1984) Review

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Streets Of Fire (1984)

Directed by Walter Hill

Starring: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Daily

Music by Ry Cooder

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB):
A mercenary goes after his ex-girlfriend, a singer who has been kidnapped by a gang.

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My Opinion:

Streets Of Fire is one of those movies I always regretted not seeing back in the Eighties. Then, after watching The Warriors a couple of years ago and absolutely loving it, I knew I should finally watch Streets Of Fire as it was also made by Walter Hill. But I still didn’t get around to it! I finally decided to check it out after watching Diane Lane in the great little obscure 1982 film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Unfortunately, this is definitely not as good as The Warriors and even The Fabulous Stains is better in a lot of ways. This has a cheesy sort of appeal, though, and I’m sure it has its fans amongst those who saw it at the time & grew up with it. But it probably won’t connect with anyone watching it for the first time nowadays whereas I think The Warriors continues to gain new fans.

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As the poster says, this was apparently marketed as “a rock & roll fable”. There are a lot of songs in this and I think whether or not you buy into the movie will depend on if you like the music. A lot of the music was by Ry Cooder and I can’t say I remember any of it after a first watch even though it wasn’t long ago that I saw it (except for I Can Dream About You by Dan Hartman since I already knew that song. That was stuck in my head for days afterwards!). The songs by Diane Lane’s band in the film were a bit bland & reminded me of something Meat Loaf might sing. The movie is a very odd mix of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing and the early Eighties style-wise & musically. I’ve never really been a fan of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing so that may be why the movie didn’t work so well for me. Also, I just couldn’t really take the two main male characters seriously when they wore their pants so high. Seriously! This is NOT a good look. Especially whatever the hell Willem Dafoe is wearing here:

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Hilarious! The hot one in the stupid suspenders there is Michael Paré, the film’s hero. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else and as I watched this I thought “he’s cute but he’s a pretty damn bad actor – no wonder he wasn’t in anything else”. Then I looked him up on IMDB and he’s been in 126 things & he’s still going strong! What?! What are all these movies Paré has been in? This dude’s career has completely passed me by – I knew of him & that he was in Streets Of Fire but that’s all. Huh. Hopefully his acting improved? I suppose he worked as the sexy but dumb hero that women want to sleep with…

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Diane Lane’s character was a pretty big disappointment, especially just after seeing her in The Fabulous Stains where her character had far more personality & depth. She’s nothing but a pretty “damsel in distress” in Streets Of Fire. Luckily we got two better female characters with Amy Madigan’s soldier who helps Paré to rescue Lane & Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who was also great in The Warriors, as Paré’s sister. I’ve already mentioned Dafoe & his silly pants – it was funny seeing him in this as I didn’t know he was in it (he plays the main bad guy & kidnapper). Rick Moranis was also a surprise as was Elizabeth Daily once again starring with Lane in a slightly bigger role than she had in The Fabulous Stains. Plus we also get Bill Paxton once again looking like a total douche in an Eighties film! I miss good old douchey Bill Paxton from the Eighties. He was more fun than leading role Bill Paxton of later times. He’ll never top his Weird Science role! Remember when he was in that Fish Heads video? Am I going off on one of my tangents again?

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Summary:

I clearly don’t have much to say about this film so I’ll just wrap this up. These are the kind of movies I find most difficult to write about: the “meh” ones. I can get a little passionate when I really love (or hate) a movie but have very little to say when I don’t really care. I know I’d like this a lot more if I’d seen it at the time but, despite it trying for a bit of a Fifties feel, it’s a little too stuck in 1984. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll always like a mediocre film from 1984 a million times more than a mediocre film from today and I did enjoy this a lot more than I’ve made it sound. I just feel bad because I really wanted to like it more than I did. I thought I might be discovering yet another little gem from my favorite era just like The Warriors & The Fabulous Stains. Oh well – two out of three ain’t bad. Hey, that’s a Meat Loaf song!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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My Top Ten Movie Musicals

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I’m not usually the biggest fan of musicals & I always think I should watch more of them to be all cultured & shit (movie musicals as well as actually going into London to watch more proper stage musicals). However, I do really like some of the ones I’ve seen. I sometimes hate them (Les Miserables and especially Into The Woods) but below are the musicals that I really enjoyed. Maybe some of you will have some recommendations for others I should check out based on what I like? :-)

**I’ve had to make some rules with this one. When looking up “movie musicals”, a lot of movies that I really wouldn’t consider musicals came up. Also, every single Disney movie with at least one song in it came up. So these are movies that I’m excluding from this list:

– Anything animated and/or movies that are aimed mainly at kids (all Disney animated films, Yellow Submarine, Labyrinth, and things like the Muppet movies)
Daft Punk’s Electroma, Phantom Of The Paradise, and Krush Groove (although they came up in a search for “musicals”, they really aren’t my definition of musicals. they’re awesome, though)
Pitch Perfect 1 & 2 (again, not “musicals” to me but they wouldn’t make my top ten anyway)

So now, counting down from ten to my number one favorite, here are My Top Ten Movie Musicals:

10. Hello, Dolly!

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9. Annie

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8. Grease

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7. TIE: Mary Poppins & Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (okay, kind of aimed at kids but I felt they should be included)

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6. Singin’ In The Rain

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5. Across The Universe

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4. Jesus Christ Superstar

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3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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2. The Wizard Of Oz

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1. The Sound Of Music

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Honorable Mentions:
West Side Story
Pink Floyd The Wall
Tommy
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Dancer In The Dark
Xanadu
A Chorus Line

The Ones I Should Really Get Around To Watching Sometime:
The Jazz Singer
Bugsy Malone
Rock ‘N’ Roll High School (is this a musical?)
The King & I
Fame
All The Beatles movies other than Yellow Submarine

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982) Review

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1982)

Directed by Lou Adler

Starring: Diane Lane, Laura Dern, Marin Kanter, Ray Winstone, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Paul Simonon, Fee Waybill, Barry Ford, Black Randy, Elizabeth Daily, Brent Spiner

Running time: 87 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The media and disaffected teens mistake the acerbic rants of an obnoxious teenage punk rocker as a rallying cry for the women of America, launching her and her talentless group to national stardom.

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My Opinion:

I mentioned this movie in my review for Miracle Mile because, like Miracle Mile, this is a movie from my beloved Eighties that I had somehow never even heard of! I love discovering movies such as these as I’ll always be especially fond of movies from this era. So, like I warned in my Miracle Mile review, I’m going to be positive about this movie but it is NOT one that most people who are reading this would like as much as I did.

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Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains stars a very young Diane Lane…. as a PUNK! I wish I had seen this as a teen because I’d have loved it and I’d have wanted to be just like Diane Lane’s character (I’d still like that but I’m pretty old so I think my “sexy punk rocker girl” days may be behind me). She starts off looking like a normal, pretty girl-next-door but then reveals this look while on tour with her “band” for the first time:

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How awesome is that look?! Although I’d be far too self-conscious to wear the see-through red top… But I love the hair & the red eye-makeup! It’s funny that her look didn’t inspire a bunch of copycats – I think that the movie was just too obscure. I’m not sure exactly why this movie didn’t make it big. Yes, it’s not the greatest movie out there & it’s very dated now but I’ve seen far worse movies from the Eighties. After watching this, I figured it was time for me to finally watch Lane in Streets Of Fire as I somehow missed out on that one. You know what? Even though that one is more well known and is from the same guy who made the excellent The Warriors, I’d have to say I definitely preferred Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains to Streets Of Fire (I’ll be posting a review of that one on Friday). This one feels more gritty and “real”. Part of that may be the fairly low budget look and part may be because this was made by someone known more in the music industry than the movie industry.

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This was directed by Lou Adler, who only directed one other film (Up In Smoke) but did produce a few movies as well (such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show). He’s mainly known for being a record producer & manager and I think this film works well as a look into the music industry and how quickly musicians can rise to fame and then just as quickly come crashing back down thanks to a fickle audience. Lane’s character is an angry teenager who becomes a hero of sorts when being interviewed about her town for a local TV station. This leads to her “band” being signed up for a tour with two other bands (despite the fact that no one has heard them play) and it’s discovered during their first concert that they have no talent. But it doesn’t matter as Lane’s punk look & attitude propel them to stardom & she becomes a kind of symbol for feminism while telling everyone that she “never puts out”. Pretty soon every girl wants to be just like her:

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As always, I love seeing familiar faces when I watch films from the Eighties. Laura Dern plays one of the members of The Stains while an extremely young Ray Winstone plays the leader of the more talented punk band on tour with The Stains (The Looters). Elizabeth Daily has a small role as a maid (Dottie from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – she has a bigger role with Lane in Streets Of Fire). I also loved the look of the aging metal band on the tour, Metal Corpses, who are well past their prime but don’t want to retire.

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Unlike in Streets Of Fire (it’s hard to not compare them since I just watched them both), Lane’s character has some depth here and we see that she’s just a young girl who has been left with no parents after her mother’s death & she’s angry at the world. It’s strange how some movies don’t make it big – I thought this was pretty good and, although it of course looks dated, I think the subject matter works just as well now. The issues raised still seem just as relevant (maybe even more so as “fame” is now more shallow and full of no-talent assholes than ever). I liked it and I’d watch it again. In fact, I don’t like that this isn’t available on DVD here as it won’t stay on Netflix forever – it’s one I’d like to keep.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Groundhog Day (1993) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Barry of The Filmnomore Movie Blog. Thanks for the review, Barry! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Groundhog Day, IMDB rank 178 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

**I have 1 remaining IMDB guest review to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

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I was delighted when I discovered I had been granted the rights to review this classic 90’s comedy. Groundhog Day stars Bill Murray as cynical local news weatherman Phil Connors who sees himself as the big fish in the little pond of Pittsburgh. He is on his way to endure the annual ritual that is Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where an oversized rodent (I’ve checked Groundhogs are rodents) predicts whether winter is coming to an end. Unfortunately Phil finds himself having to relive the same day over and over again.

The film sees Murray teaming up with his now dearly departed Ghostbusters (1984) co-star Harold Ramis who directed and co-wrote this feature. It’s amazing to look back at the writing career of Ramis whose credits include Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Analyze This (1999) and Bedazzled (2000) to name just four. Groundhog Day follows a classic rift of a character (Phil) going on a journey of self discovery that has been imposed upon him by a change in circumstances. He finds himself coming out the other side a better person and as with any fairy tale he has a princess to woo in the form of his producer Rita (Andie MacDowell).

Of course the journey to love and happiness is not a straight forward one and it is only when he learns the importance of being selfless that Phil is released from his nightmare and he can continue with his life. Within this age old tale of redemption is a story about dealing with loss. In Groundhog Day the loss is the life that he knew and the certainties this brought. During the film Murray’s character experiences denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. He acts out in various ways including the now classic sequence when he abducts the Groundhog himself, Punxsutawney Phil.

This film works for two main reasons. The first is that it has Bill Murray in his prime (I don’t get along with the reinvented dour-faced Murray) and playing a role tailored to his style of comedy. The second reason is the film uses a classic structure that we’ve all seen a thousand times before but keep lapping up. We all appear to be suckers for characters who find redemption (preferably in the arms of a new lover) and Groundhog Day delivers the feel good factor in spades.

I can’t really find much to criticise in this film beyond the slightly annoying Ned Ryerson (Stephen Tobolowsky) who is just that little bit over the top. Hell even MacDowell is tolerable. Groundhog Day doesn’t overwhelm me with emotion so I can’t give it that elusive fifth star but it is an all time comedy classic. My rating 4/5.

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995) Review

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Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Walken, Michael Nicolosi, Bill Cobbs, Marshall Bell, Glenn Plummer

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Five different criminals face imminent death after botching a job quite badly.

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My Opinion:

Okay…. I think it was almost a year ago that I watched this movie so I guess I’ve put off reviewing it for long enough. It’s a favorite of a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless (ERIC!) and he and another blogger who shall remain nameless (MARK!) were always shouting (well, typing) “Boat Drinks!” at each other and I was like “What the hell is that all about?”. I was never in a big hurry to watch the “movie where they shoot people up the butt” but it was on TV one day so I thought “Screw it – let’s see what this Boat Drinks thing is all about”.

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Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead was better than I was expecting based on what it’s most famous for (the butt thing. sorry – I normally avoid spoilers on this blog but, seriously, it’s such a well known fact about this film & probably why I avoided it for so long). I have to say it’s actually a pretty solid crime drama with some really great characters and some very memorable lines & scenes. It seems to get compared to (or accused of ripping off) the previous year’s Pulp Fiction a lot but, in some ways, I think it’s actually a better film (I find Pulp Fiction overrated). I think it’s closer to, although not as good as, Reservoir Dogs. It has the same sort of interesting characters, amusingly witty banter, shady characters, violence, and the always entertaining Steve Buscemi. I suppose it just didn’t have the “style” the Tarantino films have so it didn’t get the same level of attention. Which is sort of a shame because, if you haven’t seen this, you’re missing a fantastic performance from Christopher Lloyd. He was the best thing about the movie for me and the “boat drinks” scene between him & Andy Garcia is the definite highlight of the film. It’s a wonderful scene! I’m happy I saw the movie just for Christopher Lloyd and that one scene.

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There are other good things about the movie, though. Lloyd was my favorite but each character in this group of misfits is entertaining and they all have very different personalities, meaning that everyone who watches this will have a different favorite character. I have to say that Treat Williams as a violent lunatic was a real treat for a change (ha!) and I always enjoy seeing Steve Buscemi in a movie even if he’s playing a similar sort of role as he has in a lot of other films. The two female characters (Fairuza Balk & Gabrielle Anwar) are of course pretty unimportant in this “guy movie” (typical) but I don’t really have too much of a complaint there – they get a bit more screen time than other female characters in similar “movies for dudes”. My only real disappointment, unfortunately, was with Christopher Walken. I like Walken most of the time but, in this, he’s a little too “Christopher Walken”. If you love him, you’ll like him in this as he’s being his usual, crazy sort of character but it almost felt like he was bored in this one. I don’t know… I think it’s one way in which Pulp Fiction has this movie beat – Walken was more interesting with a watch up his ass.

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Summary:

I think that Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, although not my usual sort of movie, is a very good film within its violent crime genre. I think it actually deserves more praise & recognition than it seems to have gotten. This is probably down to it coming out after both Reservoir Dogs & Pulp Fiction and being accused of being a Tarantino rip-off. It’s not as good as a Tarantino movie but it’s also much better than a lot of the other films that could be accused of ripping him off. I suppose it could be argued that there would be no Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead if there was no Reservoir Dogs but I don’t think that matters – plenty of films are similar and it’s still a good movie in its own right. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of this genre. I’ll also make a bold statement here & say that I actually enjoyed this movie more than another similar film that also came out in 1995 – The Usual Suspects. The ending of that one is of course great but, overall, I liked this one more.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**Speaking of one of those bloggers who likes this movie, I participated in Eric’s popular Shitfest celebration of horribly bad movies over at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. You can view my entry, a review of the annoying Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, HERE. :-)

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IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews – Final Deadline & More Available Movies

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Hi all! :-) I now have a lot more films available for anyone interested in doing a guest review for my IMDB Top 250 Project. I’ll list those available at the end. But first, here are the ones still outstanding. You have until OCTOBER 1st 2015 to send me your review(s) so let me know ASAP if you no longer want your movie(s).

Rain Man
The Sting & Die Hard
To Kill A Mockingbird
Leon
The Hobbit
Life Is Beautiful
Into The Wild
Terminator 2
All About Eve
The Seventh Seal
The Elephant Man
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Pianist
Shutter Island
Black Swan
The Truman Show
Mystic River
The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
Requiem For A Dream
Cool Hand Luke
Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels

Here are all the films currently available. I’ll update this list on AUGUST 1st with any of the above that are given up:

Taxi Driver
The Wrestler
Network
The Graduate
Gone With The Wind
All Quiet On The Western Front

Also, I kept too many for myself so I’m adding these two back to the available list. I love these movies so do them justice! ;-)

The Artist
The Lives Of Others

If you grab any of those available or have just recently signed up (as opposed to, like, signing up a year & a half ago… lol), your deadline is NOVEMBER 1st to get your review to me. I’m aware I gave everyone an April 1st deadline already but this time I REALLY mean it. I’ll put any that don’t meet the deadlines back on the list of available movies. I’m kicking ass! HA! (Not really – I’m a total wuss and if you have a really good excuse, I’m sure I’ll extend your deadline for another year & a half…). ;-)

Thank you to everyone who has participated so far and an extra big thanks to the guest reviewers who have taken the time to reply to the people who comment on their post. I really appreciate that! :-)

Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus (2013) Review For Shitfest At The IPC

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I wrote about the godawful indie-nightmare Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus for the now-famous Shitfest over at Isaacs Picture Conclusions.

You can read my review HERE. Warning: Things get a little hairy…

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My Top Ten Swimming Pool Scenes In Movies

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Summer is here! (I think?) I don’t know – it’s hard to tell in England! We did have a few hot days last week… Anyway! As schools are finishing all across England, that means it’s summer which means things like BBQs & pool parties! Except it’s been rainy & crap all week and no one here really has a pool as it would be pointless to have one.

This introduction is depressing me! Let’s just get on with my list, shall we? Here are My Top Ten Swimming Pool Scenes In Movies counting down to my number one… :-)

10. TIE: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 & 5

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I love the Nightmare On Elm Street series so had to include these. Although these two films kind of suck plus I can’t ever get 4 & 5 straight in my head… I really thought the diving board one was from number 4. Oh well. Freddy Krueger is still my favorite slasher villain.

9. Almost Famous

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I am a Golden God“! Remember when Cameron Crowe made some really good movies like this and Say Anything? This is a great scene. I could probably do a top ten just of people jumping off roofs into swimming pools. Idiots. At least this ended a little better than it did for the dude in All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. Speaking of Crowe, he also wrote my number one choice in this list…

8. Caddyshack

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I’m not crazy about this movie in the same way that males my age & a little older seem to be but, like when I included The Big Lebowski (even though I don’t love it) in my list of My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies, this list wouldn’t be complete without this scene. I know it would top many other people’s lists. And rightly so! It’s a classic.

7. Cocoon

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Well, there’s more than one pool scene in Cocoon. I love it when the old people go swimming like little kids. I love Cocoon! Who else here loves Cocoon?? No? Just me, then?

6. Harold & Maude

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Look! It’s my “please take me seriously as a movie blogger” choice! ;-) I do love Harold & Maude, though. This scene is hilarious.

5. WALL-E

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WALL-E is one of my all-time favorite films so I had to include this moment when the humans realize how much they’ve been missing out in life. “I didn’t know we had a pool…”

4. It Follows

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This movie just keeps going up in my estimation & I like it even more now than when I first saw it. Such a refreshing change from the loads of crappy horror films these days. I don’t want to go into this scene much as even knowing there is a pool scene in this movie is kind of a spoiler. I liked that this scene felt so much like a scene from an 80’s horror movie and I liked the naïve innocence of the teens.

3. Let The Right One In

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This scene is intense! I remember going to this in the cinema and being quite stressed out during this scene. In fact, I missed the big moment here the first time around as I just couldn’t watch it. Man I’m a wuss!

2. Gremlins

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Yeah! Gremlins! My Twitter buddy Zach Galligan! A movie from 1984! Those who know me won’t be surprised by something like this being so high on my list – you’ll find no Wild Things on MY list (well, my number one is filthy). This scene is obviously quite an important scene, of course, as it’s the big moment when the shit really hits the fan.

1. Fast Times At Ridgemont High

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Another Phoebe Cates movie! This topped another list of mine (My Top Five Movie Scenes Of Self-Pleasure – do you like how I avoided using a dirty word there?). Well, it had to top this list as well – it’s such a famous moment. I’m surprised I’ve chosen it as I’m not normally a fan of naked boobs but you really can’t “beat” what Judge Reinhold does during this scene. Ha! (See what I did there?) ;-) *Also, Happy Birthday to Phoebe Cates who turns 52 today! I’ll pretend I knew that before this posted….*

Honorable Mentions:

You know what? I’m just going to post pictures of my honorable mentions without naming them. How about we make this a little QUIZ! That’ll be fun, yeah? The winner will receive…… Um. My respect! :-)

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The Guest (2014) Review

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The Guest (2014)

Directed by Adam Wingard

Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Leland Orser, Sheila Kelley, Brendan Meyer, Lance Reddick

Running time: 100 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

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My Opinion:

I watched this a couple of months ago & I’m still trying to decide if I really liked it or not. I’ve seen so many positive reviews for it here on WordPress but I’m kind of surprised as this movie is such an odd mix of genres that I would think opinion would be more divided. I do think it’s a total “movie blogger” type of movie – stylish & unique but too odd to be popular with a mainstream audience. I wouldn’t be able to mention this movie to co-workers and find anyone who likes it let alone anyone who has even heard of it. Which is a good thing! That’s a big part of the reason why I started this blog – I love discussing these sorts of films with like-minded movie lovers who’ve watched all kinds of weird & wonderful films. I still get strange looks from co-workers when they see the Totoro wallpaper on my computer & they ask me “what’s that cartoon??”.

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I can see why this keeps getting compared to the movie Drive. It’s “cool”. It has an interesting visual style, soundtrack, and lots of violence. Even its star, Dan Stevens, has a Ryan Gosling way and look about him. I like Drive and have to say it’s the much better film of these two but my opinion on Drive has gone down slightly since I first saw it. I love the soundtrack and its style is great (that jacket rules!) but all style & no substance isn’t going to make for a movie I’ll love as an all-time favorite. I think where The Guest fails most in comparison to Drive, though, is with Dan Stevens (I’m going to get in so much trouble with other female bloggers for that statement!). I’ve kind of gone off Gosling but I did love him for a while. I have to say he has that certain something, though, that only some actors can achieve. There’s an extra something there – a distant calmness that makes you think his character has all kinds of deep thoughts going on in his head when all he’s doing is just sitting there & staring (I admit that Gosling “stares” too often! Lol). Dan Stevens has a sexy sort of thing going on, I suppose (not my type), but he doesn’t have that special something to make this film even better in the way I think Gosling did perfectly with Drive. I think Drive is a good film but Gosling helped make it so.

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This is from the same director as You’re Next (Adam Wingard). I wasn’t a huge fan of that one as I felt, like this one, it didn’t have much substance. There wasn’t much of a plot to You’re Next – it was just an excuse to watch a lot of gory violence (however, I did like the main female character). The Guest has a plot but it’s pretty damn silly & laughable by the end. I think I know what it is about these two movies… It feels like the characters were thought up first with a vague idea of a story, then some interesting deaths, then the story was written to fit around all that. It kind of feels like, if this movie wasn’t so “cool & hip” with a young, attractive cast (ha! does anyone say “hip” anymore?!), people would be laughing at it instead of raving over it. If this had been made in the 80s, you youngsters would all hate it! You know it!! (And I’d probably love it…) ;-)

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Now that I’ve made it sound like I really hated this, I have to say there are some things that I did really like about it. First of all, I think Wingard has taken a step in the right direction with this movie. I think it’s much better than You’re Next and will have earned him a fan base that will be eager to see his next film. It’s a very unique movie, which I’ll never complain about as I watch a lot of movies and get very bored with the mainstream at times. I like when a movie really surprises me and appreciate it when one does something a bit “different”.

Also, as with You’re Next, we have a strong female character I liked (Maika Monroe’s Anna Peterson). I thought Monroe was pretty great in It Follows and I think she’s the real star of this one as well. (I have to say It Follows is fantastic, though, and does a unique twist on the horror genre so much better than The Guest does with the thriller/action/whatever-the-hell-genre-it-is genre. watch It Follows first!). Can I just say it’s nice to get female characters who aren’t sluts, bitches, or idiots?? We seem to be getting that more often lately. Thank you, Hollywood! I hope Monroe continues doing characters similar to these (and hooray for the clothes staying on in both films!).

Finally, I really liked the end. Or… the “final confrontation”, shall we say (to avoid spoilers). I liked the setting & the look and this is where I most appreciated this film’s style. Don’t get me wrong – a film’s style is very important to me and I’m a total sucker for ones that look great. This is why I like things like Daft Punk’s Electroma even though people give me weird looks for liking stuff like that. I can understand why people have gone for this movie even if it didn’t totally work for me in the same way. There are some strong characters and good, memorable scenes which is more than can be said for a lot of mainstream blockbusters.

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Summary :

I think I appreciated The Guest more than I actually liked it. I wouldn’t say no to watching another Adam Wingard film after this one and hope he continues to go more in this strange thriller sort of direction instead of continuing with the gory slasher genre. This movie has some good moments and I really did want to like it more than I did. I do think it’s one that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re at all curious about it and I think I can understand why a lot of people love it.

My Rating: 7/10

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Good Will Hunting (1997) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. Thanks for the review, Drew! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Good Will Hunting, IMDB rank 157 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

**I’ve received 2 remaining IMDB guest reviews to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

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Synopsis
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a mathematical genius but has no direction in his life. He gets recognized by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) who enlists help from psychologist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). With assistance from Sean, Will begins to get his life together.

Review
To be upfront, this was my first time watching Good Will Hunting. Shocking, I know. It was one of those movies that I kept hearing and hearing about but never really got around to watching. But thanks to the wonderful Ms. Mutant, I thought her IMDB blogathon would be the perfect time to check it out. And I must say, it is as every bit as wonderful as it was made out to be.

At the center of attention is the late Robin Williams. He is not the center of the movie but Sean Maguire is at the center of discussion whenever this film is brought up. Williams won an oscar for best supporting actor for his role and, boy, was it well deserved. Looking back Williams’ filmography, I haven’t seen many of his more serious roles. After watching this, I really need to change that. He hit with such an emotion I haven’t seen from him before. Just one more reminder how phenominal of an actor he was and his versatility to take on any role.

Matt Damon as the titular Will Hunting and Ben Affleck as his friend Chuckie Sullivan were great on screen together. It was easy to feel their connection and friendship. This even extended to the minor characters in the gang. Their camaraderie bleed through the screen and seemed so natural that I wouldn’t be surprised if they are all best friends off the screen.

For me, character-driven movies are always the hardest for me to review because with action flicks, comedy films, or horrors, there are other factors I can look at. But with dramas, it simply comes down to the actors. It’s the little moments they bring to life and make them feel genuine that make or break the film. When actors or actresses make you feel what they feel and seem so realistic and sincere, that is the sign of a great drama. Every single member of the cast manages to pour their heart and soul into the film and it is palpable. Add that to an excellent script from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and you have nothing short of success.

Good Will Hunting is a heartfelt film that manages to shine thanks to a well-penned script and great performances from Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck and the entire crew.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gus Van Sant – Director
Matt Damon – Writer
Ben Affleck – Writer
Danny Elfman – Composer

Matt Damon – Will Hunting
Robin Williams – Sean Maguire
Ben Affleck – Chuckie Sullivan
Stellan Skarsgard – Prof. Gerald Lambeau
Minnie Driver – Skylar
Casey Affleck – Morgan O’Mally
Cole Hauser – Billy McBride
John Mighton – Tom – Lambeau’s Teaching Assistant

This Is 40, Admission & Bad Grandpa Movie Reviews

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Time to start getting more movies off my “Reviews To Do” list! Since starting this blog, I feel like I must review absolutely every single movie I watch. I’ve put off reviewing some because I just don’t have much to say about them (especially things like throwaway comedies & the occasional chick flick) so I’ll start reviewing movies like these together every now & then. Most movies like these are ones I watched in 2014 so I’m a little behind. But they’re on my list! I gotta do them!!! ;-)

So here are three quickies! One was boring, one was okay, and one I really enjoyed.

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This Is 40 (2012)

Directed by Judd Apatow

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Albert Brooks

My Opinion: This is the one that was okay. I watched This Is 40 at least a year ago & remember thinking something along the lines of “I enjoyed that but I better review it quick because I won’t remember much of it in a year”. Ha! It’s true. For example: That annoying Melissa McCarthy was in this? Really?? And I forgot that the even more annoying Megan Fox was in this. Well, I watched this for Paul Rudd. If it had been a different male star, I doubt I’d have bothered.

I have yet to love anything from Judd Apatow. I feel like I should as I suppose I’m the sort of target age range for his stuff? I don’t know… Who here is a huge Apatow fan? What am I missing? Looking at what he’s written and/or directed, I did like The 40 Year-Old Virgin and remember that pretty well even though it’s much older and I only saw it once. This Is 40 is probably my second favorite but considering I only remember certain parts of it a year later doesn’t say much for it, I guess.

I liked Rudd, as always, but this wasn’t exactly my favorite ever character of his. He & Leslie Mann were fine but there was maybe a little too much of the “Oh god! I’m 40 & having a midlife crisis!” thing going on. I liked the family as a whole & they felt like a real-life family. Of course, it probably helps that the kids are the real-life daughters of Apatow & Mann but the Hollywood nepotism thing and Apatow’s insistence on always casting his borderline-annoying wife is, like the characters in This Is 40, getting a little old.

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I do remember laughing a few times throughout this movie. It’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy but an observation on our relationships in life and, of course, growing old. It’s much more grown-up than some of Apatow’s other films and I can’t see as many people enjoying it unless they’re approaching or past the big Four-Oh. For the most part, I think this was a pretty well-written film and I liked the different sorts of relationships between the three generations of both Rudd’s & Mann’s families. It’s just a “watch it once and you have no need to watch it again” type of film. I’d only recommend it if you’re a fan of any of the stars or the director AND you’re at least 35.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Admission (2013)

Directed by Paul Weitz

Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Lily Tomlin

My Opinion: This is the boring one of these three movies. As you can see, it’s Paul Rudd again and I only watched it because he’s in it. This is one of those damn “dramedy” romance movies. Dramedies sometimes work but this one didn’t have much comedy and I didn’t care enough about Tina Fey’s character to give a shit about her drama. Like This Is 40, this is a more grown-up movie for a slightly older audience but the forced quirkiness of some of the characters and Tina Fey’s uptight Princeton admissions officer just didn’t work for me.

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Paul Rudd was his usual adorable, likeable self but I’ll admit he always plays the same character (which is fine if you like him like I do). I’ve never really been a fan of Tina Fey, who also plays her usual self, so I can’t say I liked her character (which isn’t good as she’s the main star & the film centers on her career & relationship struggles). Nat Wolff was in this, who played the slightly annoying friend in The Fault In Our Stars and has the lead role in the next John Green adaptation coming out (Paper Towns, a book I really didn’t like so it’ll be interesting to see if the movie is any better). I did like Lily Tomlin as Fey’s mother and Wallace Shawn had a small role as Fey’s boss. It always gives me warm fuzzies just hearing his distinctive voice… “Inconceivable“! This is one of those movies that just tries too hard to be intelligent & serious and ends up feeling fake & forced. To be fair, romantic dramedy isn’t my favorite genre in the first place but this one just didn’t work for me at all.

My Rating: 5/10

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)

Directed by Jeff Tremaine

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, A bunch of unsuspecting victims

My Opinion: Well, damn – I thought this was hilarious. Why am I ashamed to admit that?! I’ve thought all the Jackass movies were a riot. They’re not the sort of movies I’ve ever felt the need to watch more than once but they’re entertaining as hell on a first watch when you don’t know what kind of outrageous stuff to expect. I don’t really get why I like them as, in real life, I hate dumbass guys who do childish, idiotic things. I guess you have to give Johnny Knoxville credit for making a career out of it – he earns way more money than I do!

It was kind of weird at first how they acted out this fictional story of “grandpa & grandson” but I think it worked and, in the end, it was actually sort of sweet in a weird, f*%ked up kind of way. Johnny Knoxville was also in the movie Fun Size with the kid (Jackson Nicoll) and the kid was the best thing about that strange but somewhat enjoyable Nickelodeon movie. This kid cracks me up but I can’t say I’d ever let my kid hang out with any of the Jackass guys… Ha! Talk about bad role models!

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Anyway, I never thought I’d find explosive diarrhoea (UK spelling, FYI) or an old man’s testicles funny but what really works in this movie, I guess, is the shocked reactions from the poor bastards they play their pranks on. Looking at photos for this post I was reminded again of the pageant bit… Hahaha! Why do I like these juvenile Jackass movies?!? I should be ashamed. But I’m not!

My Rating: 7/10

I Went To Secret Cinema’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

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For anyone who doesn’t know, Secret Cinema is an event that’s been going on in London for several years now where you go to watch a movie, yes, but you do this while experiencing recreations of events & scenes from that movie’s “world”. I’d heard a little about it but it got more attention than usual last year when they did Back To The Future but had some problems in getting the whole thing ready on time. When they did manage it, though, I saw photos of a recreated Hill Valley and it looked pretty damn amazing. Despite the problems, I wished I’d been able to go. When this year’s movie was announced, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, we immediately bought tickets (£75 per adult, in case you’re wondering).

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Was it worth the price? I’d say “yes”. It’s a lot of money to pay to watch a movie but, obviously, you aren’t just watching a movie. To fully enjoy this one, I’d say you have to be a pretty die hard Star Wars fan. But… I’m not sure why you’d go to Secret Cinema if you aren’t a huge fan of the movie being shown? Do I like Star Wars? Of course – I love it! The original three are some of my very favorite movies ever. I grew up with them and I’ll always love them (not the prequels!) but I’m not an obsessive fan in the way a lot of Star Wars fans are known to be. Did I go all cosplay or wear a huge homemade Millennium Falcon on my head like one guy who was there? No. I’m far too self-conscious to do stuff like that! Sorry to disappoint anyone who thought I was a bit more fun than I actually am… ;-) I’ll talk about my experience now. This will have some SPOILERS for anyone who may have tickets to go see this but I won’t reveal too much…

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I’d say that Secret Cinema is great fun for anyone who really gets into the whole “game” and the role-playing involved. As soon as we bought tickets, we got e-mails about various secret events that have been & are still going on. But that’s classified info so I can’t discuss the details! ;-) Every e-mail talks of your “secret mission” and no actual address details are given. You’re not going to London – you’re going to a Galaxy Far, Far Away! Close to the time of your “departure”, you’re e-mailed the location of where your “flight” will take off. A link brings you to a map with just enough real-world details to find the location. But first, we had to stop at the secret shop for SUPPLIES:

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You are NOT required to dress up. However, I took the e-mails seriously & got a little stressed out thinking that we wouldn’t be allowed in without at least having some of the things listed. I chose a character that allowed me to dress in regular, all black clothing (I’m very boring!). It was very hot so I feel sorry for those in full Jedi robes… Once there, you’re given a stamp on your wrist. Look! My arm!

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As this whole thing is top secret, no photos are allowed. So, unfortunately, I have no cool photos to share with you. When you get there, an actor gives you instructions for your mission then you go through an area where your phones are put in a sealed bag. You do get to keep your phone, though, which was nice as I didn’t like the thought of handing my phone over to them. Well, here’s me in my scarf & goggles after the event:

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(Hopefully you’re all still here after that…). Here’s my one big SPOILER but this has been mentioned in enough articles now that I can say they’ve recreated….
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Tatooine!

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WOW! And…. WTF? Shouldn’t it be Hoth? This isn’t A New Hope! Oh well – I hate being cold anyway. ;-) There were plenty of actors all dressed up and acting out scenes as you walked around. Some talked to you but you didn’t have to get too involved if, like me, you’re not totally comfortable with all that.

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After a while on Tatooine, we moved onto the next stage of the mission. This is still a big secret but it was very well done & I enjoyed this bit a lot.

THEN………. We watched the movie!!!!!

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It’s funny – it had already been a long night full of so much entertainment that I kind of kept forgetting we’d all be watching the movie at the end of it. I have to say it was a long evening and I was exhausted by the end of it. They say no kids under 8 are allowed but we saw a few kids who were definitely not 8, which was disappointing as we have a six-year-old who would’ve LOVED the whole experience. But it’s a very long night for young ones…

The entertainment didn’t end when the movie began as several key scenes were acted out while they played on screen. It was fun watching this movie in a room full of (1,500!) massive Star Wars fans and hearing what bits got the biggest reactions. The biggest cheer was when we see Han Solo for the first time. Everyone loves Han! Luke & Yoda got cheers and, luckily, so did Leia (after a wolf-whistle). Darth Vader of course got a boo.

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One of the biggest reactions, though, was from the female fans during the kiss scene. I’m happy to report that at least 40% of the people at Secret Cinema were FEMALE! Possibly even 45%. So…. Time to stop ignoring us female geeks, world! Time to start making Princess Leia toys easily available for our daughters, dammit!! (Okay – I’ve ranted enough about that in the past. I’ll move on!). Speaking of Leia & kissing, the reaction to her kissing Luke was pretty hilarious and there was of course one shout of “They’re gonna regret that later!”.

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If anyone is at all interested, tickets for Secret Cinema are apparently still available for some of the week nights. I’d definitely recommend this to those who are massive Star Wars fans but, if you’re just a casual fan, I’d say you wouldn’t really appreciate it. I probably enjoyed it slightly less than the cosplay/role-playing types of people but I found the scene reenactments a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the “world” they created. Maybe someday I’ll make more of an effort and dress up as Bespin Leia – that’s always been my favorite look & hairdo:

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Thanks for reading, everyone! Have a great weekend & may the force be with you. :-)

Oh… I suppose I should rate this like my movie reviews!

My Secret Cinema Rating: 8/10

My Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back Movie Rating: 10/10

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Runaway (1984) Review

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Runaway (1984)

Directed & Written by Michael Crichton

Starring:
Tom Selleck
Cynthia Rhodes
Gene Simmons
Kirstie Alley
Stan Shaw

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the near future, a police officer specializes in malfunctioning robots. When a robot turns out to have been programmed to kill, he begins to uncover a homicidal plot to create killer robots… and his son becomes a target.

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My Opinion:

What on Earth possessed me to watch this awful piece of shit?? God I make some horrible decisions in life! This was one of them.

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First of all, Tom Selleck is in this. Tom Selleck! He was cool for about two minutes in 1980. Second of all, the one who gets the abortion in Dirty Dancing is in this! Third of all (thirdly?), look at that horrible poster!!!!!! Cuatro, Gene *Fucking* Simmons! Looking like THIS:

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Hahaha! Thousands of women have slept with him? Seriously?!? Must be the tongue. Anyway, I read the plot synopsis while flicking through Netflix and saw the words “killer robots” so I hit play against my better judgement. This movie is the very definition of “not aged well” (like me! ha!). I guess there was a reason I’d never heard of it before – it’s BAD. I adore the Eighties and a lot of my favorite films come from that decade but this movie represents my favorite decade at its cheesy worst. I don’t remember Magnum, P.I. being this bad (but maybe I’d feel differently now – I’ve not seen it in 30 years). This is one of those movies that feels like a low-budget TV show instead of a big motion picture and Selleck just does NOT have movie star power. He was fine on TV but some people just really need to stick to TV… Oh! Kirstie Alley was in this too. I’m not sure whose acting was worse – hers or Simmons. They were both absolutely appalling.

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I can’t really be bothered to talk about this movie any more. It’s shit. It’s written & directed by Michael Crichton. Well, far better films have been made of his stuff – just go watch Jurassic Park instead of this. Watch anything instead of this!!! Selleck and Rhodes are okay in it but they don’t have much to work with. Hey – remember when Cynthia Rhodes was married to Richard Marx? Man he was boring. Remember those videos of his that were all about a murder mystery or something??? I think there were three of them? Wait, of course no one remembers – everyone here is too young.

OH MY GOD – LOOK AT THESE TERRIFYING KlLLER ROBOTS!!!!!

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And…. SPOILER, I guess. But who cares?! I don’t recommend this movie:

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Hahaha!

Whatever.

My Rating: 4/10

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Hey! What a coincidence – Tom Selleck is in the news today for the first time since 1982. Water thief!

Terminator Genisys (2015) Review

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Terminator Genisys (2015)

Directed by Alan Taylor

Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jason Clarke
Emilia Clarke
Jai Courtney
J. K. Simmons
Dayo Okeniyi
Matt Smith
Courtney B. Vance
Lee Byung-hun

Running time: 126 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.

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My Opinion:

First of all, The Terminator is a favorite movie of mine and Kyle Reese is one of my biggest movie crushes (he’s in second place on that list although, at my current age, I’d put him at number one as I’m still totally in love with him). In fact, for years I had planned on naming a son I might have “Kyle” until South Park came along & ruined that idea. Second of all, sequels and remakes annoy the hell out of me (well, some are good – like Terminator 2 and Aliens! Yes, I was in love with Michael Biehn in Aliens too…). Anyway, my point is that I do NOT like favorite movies & favorite movie characters of mine being f*%ked with. It pisses me off! Finally, I hate stupid spellings (screw you, “Genisys!”). So I was feeling very unsure of Terminator Genisys. On the way out the door to see this, I said to my hubby “Let’s go see this shitty thing”. But I still had to see it because of my love for the first two Terminator films. Well, shit. I didn’t hate it….

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Really. I kind of enjoyed this movie. I did! WTF?! I was expecting to hate it. I actually liked it much more than the third & fourth films that I can’t even remember the titles of at the moment because I so completely put them out of my mind. Now, I should make it clear that this movie isn’t that great and it sure as shit doesn’t come even close to matching the brilliance of the first two. However, if you go into it without expecting it to be as good as the first two, maybe you’ll at least get some enjoyment out of it. I’ve watched this one much later than the rest of you and I’ve seen all your reviews pop up but I have yet to read any so I’m not sure what the general consensus is but I’m guessing that most of you don’t like it. That’s fine! I wouldn’t argue with anyone who hates this movie as I can understand why. But, sometimes, even grumpy old movie lovers like me can enjoy a movie that they know they probably shouldn’t. For me, it’s probably just because I liked seeing the characters of Sarah Connor & Kyle Reese once again in the same, yet somewhat altered, situation. I love their story from the first film so I got to kind of relive that again in a different sort of way. It should piss me off but it didn’t and, luckily, I don’t think it’s ruined the first movie for me as I’ll still only really ever think of the first two films when I think of Terminator. To me, I’ll always just see this one as more of a “reimagining” than as a part of the series.

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The thing I was most worried about with this film was that they wouldn’t get Sarah Connor or Kyle Reese “right”. How can they top the original people to play them?! They can’t, of course. However, I thought they were both fine. Sarah Connor is so different in the second film to how she is in the first but I never had a problem with the wussy, girlier Sarah in the first movie – they actually almost went overboard in T2 in making her a little too tough (for me. believe me, though, I like a strong female character!). Clarke’s Sarah is somewhere between the two and I liked her just fine. I do love Clarke as Daenerys in Game Of Thrones, yes, but I didn’t find that distracting as she looks & acts quite different in that than she does in Genisys. Yeah – I was fine with Clarke as Sarah Connor… I bought into her more than I did when Lena “Ceresei” Headey played her in the TV show. However, I was more worried about how Jai Courtney would do as Kyle Reese. I’d only see him in Divergent and hadn’t taken any notice of him. I was prepared to pretty much hate him in Genisys. Well, he’s no Michael Biehn and I don’t want to have his babies like I wanted to have “original timeline” Reese’s, but… Hell, he was fine! I ended up liking him. He’s not super hot but neither was Biehn. And, to be fair, Biehn was never exactly going to win any Oscars, was he? Biehn got the damaged, sensitive thing so right, though – he was perfect in that role and defined Kyle Reese for me. Courtney doesn’t quite manage the “damaged” thing as well but he’s likeable and someone you can imagine this new, tougher Sarah falling for. He even has a slight sense of humor, unlike the first Reese, which at first made no sense but then did when you think about the timey-wimey time travel thing going on (I’ll avoid spoilers as always but these aren’t the exact same characters we already know). There was actually quite a bit of humor thrown into this, mostly involving Schwarzenegger, and it worked fairly well. At least, as well as in T2 where it was also a little cheesy in a couple places.

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Oh yeah! Arnold Schwarzenegger! I’ve not even mentioned him. Lol! I’m such a girl…. Yeah, I clearly love the Kyle/Sarah story. So sue me. I have to be girly sometimes. ;-) Schwarzenegger was good! He was his usual self, really. It wasn’t “weird” seeing him older (which they quickly explained with one little line thrown in). It was great seeing him in this – I always preferred Schwarzenegger to Sylvester Stallone. Schwarzenegger was in far better movies (Terminator, Predator, Kindergarten Cop!). I would think male Schwarzenegger fans will love seeing him in this. But what do I know? I’m a girl who just spent ages talking about Kyle Reese. Oh! We get a little of this:

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Awesome. Love it. One of the most iconic things in movie history. We also get plenty of action – the action is similar to the level we got in T2. I enjoyed all that “boy stuff” too. The (first two) Terminator movies kick ass and I love them. I also love the “simplicity” of the story in the first film whereas Genisys is getting too convoluted. Plus.. they didn’t use the Terminator MUSIC until the end credits. How can you not use such greatness?! One of the best ever movie themes! But, as a lover of the first film, I loved all the little references plus certain scenes are re-enacted as some things are still the same in this timeline (although I do have to admit that seeing one iconic scene re-enacted poorly was just a bit too weird). I sure did love seeing Kyle in the same clothing again, though! Shit… I’m talking about Kyle again. It was fun seeing J. K. Simmons – he sure is popular at the moment but he sure was wasted in his role. I did not like Jason Clarke as John Connor. I’m not talking about what they did with the character (although I wasn’t really a fan of that either) but I don’t think he was the right actor for the role. And, speaking of John Connor, WHY oh WHY did they spoil that big reveal in the movie’s trailer???? Seriously! I won’t say what the big reveal is as some people don’t watch trailers but that has to be one of the biggest spoilers in a trailer ever. Ridiculous – the reveal isn’t even until the final third of the film. Oh well – at least this film’s main three characters worked out okay as that was the most important thing to me. I don’t actually care so much about the story in this – the story has already been done to death. But the relationships worked well, the action was fun (although it’s certainly no Mad Max: Fury Road), and I could possibly fall in love with this Kyle Reese if the first movie didn’t exist.

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Summary:

Terminator Genisys: I enjoyed it! I’d actually rank it higher than a lot of other big blockbusters this year, such as Jurassic World and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I’m not saying it’s necessarily better – I just enjoyed it a lot more. I make no apologies. These things happen! I can’t be snobby all the time… :-)

My Rating: 7.5/10

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*sigh*

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: There’s just a mid-credits scene that’s really nothing too special – just one of those annoying “we’re setting up a sequel!” moments. You wouldn’t be missing much if you missed it.

My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults

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I did a post about Stand By Me, an all-time favorite film of mine, to celebrate Cara’s Blogiversary Bash over at Silver Screen Serenade. Thanks for letting me join in on the celebrations, Cara! Happy Blogiversary! I hope you have many, many more. :-)

You can read my post (in which I said I was unable to talk about my love of Stand By Me & then spoke of it at length) HERE. I’ve done another one of my Top Ten Lists for it – My Top Ten Stand By Me Insults. Stand By Me is filled with loads of great, foul-mouthed insults and I LOVE IT. :-)

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Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Kelechi of Confessions From A Geek Mind. Thanks for the review, Kelechi! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, IMDB rank 75 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

**I’ve received 3 remaining IMDB guest reviews to post but have a lot still outstanding. Let me know if you still wish to review the movie(s) you’ve signed up for. If not, I’ll add them back to the list of available films. Thanks!**

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How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! / The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! / Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.” – Mary

I have nothing but good memories about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  See what I did there?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not your usual and conventional romantic film.  The ‘boy meets girl’ concept is a familiar and overused trope in the film world. But with the added sci-fi twist involving memories, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ignores the trend and takes the audience on a mind bending and surreal experience that is full of charm, wit and most importantly, sentiment.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as Joel and Clementine.  After spending two years together as a couple, the relationship turns sour. They undergo a procedure that erases their memories of each other.  Trouble is, as impulsive they were in committing themselves to the procedure, they rediscover what they had in the first place.

“Random thoughts for Valentine’s day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” – Joel

The unique quirks in this film are displayed in its brilliant visual concept.  It taps into the surreal nature of the mind where it’s never consistent or logical.  Its visual complexity and how each scene transitions unto the next are handled seamlessly.  Most scenes don’t contain any CGI effects, just clever camera movements!  It may feel jarring at first but once your mind gets to grip with the concept, it’s a rewarding experience.

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There’s something very low key about the technology used in the film by Lacuna Inc.  2015 and swiping on everything that has a screen size over four inches has become the norm.  With its ease of use and simplicity, you can’t imagine how we coped before!  But for a film that came out in 2004, the technology is a little clunky with CRT monitors straight out of the 80s or 90s, a time capsule reminder of the evolving past we use to belong to…and it wasn’t that long ago!  It never looks sleek, state of the art or high tech – there are many functional parts in order to make it work and it does its job. The film doesn’t dwell on how the procedure works except for acknowledging that the effects are on par with a night of heavy drinking.  It gives us as the audience a basic understanding of what it does, mapping personal items with emotional connections, which form as part of the erasure development process.  Because of this, the essence of the business by Lacuna Inc. is small scale and experimental.  It’s not seen as a global attraction like something out of Total Recall with its tongue-in-cheek advertising.  In fact, it’s the opposite where the experience is a more personal and intimate, like visiting your local doctor.

While the film doesn’t explore in great detail about Lacuna’s operations, the film does raise some ethical questions. There’s never a feeling over who is held accountable for its practices.  The characters of Patrick (Elijah Wood), Stan (Mark Ruffalo) Mary (Kirsten Dunst) and Dr. Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) are quirky individuals who have used the memory erasure technology for their own gain and advantages.  A great example of this belongs with Patrick who steals Joel’s personal items to make a good impression with Clementine.  It completely backfires on him but what he essentially does is commit identity fraud.  The actual procedure happens at night in the comfort of your home while you’re asleep.  So is it right that the technicians raid your fridge or dance on your bed with great freedom while you’re undergoing your treatment?  You will wake up without any recognition that they were there the night before but there’s a certain level of trust to be had to accept the strange and intrusive circumstances.

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In essence it is a clandestine and artificial relationship of convenience.  Someone from your inner circle will be informed about the procedure and you (or them) are expected to live with that knowledge, such as Joel’s friends. While the Doctor or any of his team can preach about how wonderful the process is, the real issue is the aftercare.  At times there’s a lack of professionalism within the group and if they’re not accepting their responsibilities and the consequences from their actions, would you want to undergo an experiment like this?  I certainly wouldn’t.

Clementine: “You know me, I’m impulsive.”

Joel: “That’s what I love about you.”

However, the sci-fi element is secondary to the actual plot because its main focus is on Joel and Clementine.  When they are first introduced, they are complete opposites both in personality and character.

Joel acts more like an introvert.  He’s quiet and unadventurous.  He’s comfortable within his own head.  He’s clearly talented and likes to draw but otherwise his life is pretty mundane.  Clementine on the other hand is more of an extrovert – outspoken, forward and defiant.  It’s a relationship that probably shouldn’t work but their qualities make them attractive.  Clementine brings excitement for Joel, allowing him to do something out of his comfort zone.  Joel brings stability and reassurance, accepting Clementine’s personality for what it is without compromise.

The greatest strength of the film is that their relationship is presented as honest and real.  Nothing feels clichéd or predictable.  When their relationship does fall apart, you can’t help but go through the motions with them and the actual reason for the break up will seem silly as an outsider.

Cleverly, Joel’s erasure of his memory occurs backwards from the time of the break up, ending to where he met Clementine for the first time.  You see Joel’s world literally falling apart, a visual representation of the hurt and anger he was experiencing – a scene helped with brilliant visual effects.

But are all memories bad?  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind says no and over the course of the film, Joel changes his mind despite being physically powerless to do so.  With the help of Clementine (the dream version in his head) he runs and battles against the deletion by creating scenarios in his mind where the machine couldn’t find him.  On the flip side, the real Clementine who already had the procedure is not the vibrant, confident girl that you witnessed at the beginning of the film.  She’s lost, manic and feels disconnected.  Her new boyfriend Patrick might be saying all the right things to her but it fails to put her mind at ease.  Something is missing in her life but she can’t remember what.

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That’s what special about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Memories both good and bad can define a person.  It shapes your personality and character.  What this film has in abundance is the acknowledgement of sentiment, living and embracing your life.  The negative memories will hurt, as they should do but it portrays the positives ones as something you should hold onto and treasure.  It makes life worth living.

For Joel and Clementine, being together is what made them whole. The film does strike a chord even if this is not your type of movie.  There are plenty of identifiable and personal moments that you as the audience can relate to.  Lacuna Inc. may have perfected a procedure to erase your thoughts but there is no perfect formula for love and at times, it can’t be explained.  If your relationship is based on a lie (e.g. Patrick and Clementine), then the foundations will crumble.  What Joel and Clementine have is something magnetic that kept pulling them together in every bizarre situation without them realising it.  That is something that Lacuna Inc. didn’t count on.  They were so busy fulfilling a misguided duty that in the end it exposed their own hypocrisy and business practice.  To them everything was a quick fix without addressing the real problem.

“Come back and make up a good-bye at least. Let’s pretend we had one.” – Clementine

Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey are fantastic and once again it proves that Jim Carrey is a man of many talents.  He’s not limited to comedy and can do something dramatic.  For me, this is up there with his performance in The Truman Show.  It’s great to see him as an everyman character.  He’s famous for playing eccentric characters, but in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he underplays it.  He is often reacting to the dream scenarios around him rather than being the direct cause of it.  The technicians from Lacuna Inc. deliver the eccentricity and humorous nature of film.  Joel and Clementine deliver the heart.

Aided with a beautiful soundtrack by Jon Brion, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a deep and emotional exploration on the nature of relationships.  It breaks down each moment of Joel and Clementine’s relationship into sizable chunks because in the end, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  The ending is left up to the audience to interpret which can be viewed as optimistic or pessimistic but it’s a film worth watching again and again because of the underlying messages it conveys.  It’s a wonderful, unique and enjoyable movie.

Or as Joel would say, it’s nice.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014) Review

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The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Directed by James DeMonaco

Starring:
Frank Grillo
Carmen Ejogo
Zach Gilford
Kiele Sanchez
Michael K. Williams

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Three groups of people are trying to survive Purge Night, when their stories intertwine and they are left stranded in The Purge trying to survive the chaos and violence that occurs.

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My Opinion:

I’ll be honest – I liked the first The Purge and my opinion wasn’t all that popular when I reviewed it (review HERE). Well, my opinion of it has actually gone up since then (I gave it a 6.5/10 & said it was almost a 7/10). I remember I later reviewed You’re Next (HERE) and annoyed a few people when I declared that I preferred The Purge to You’re Next (and I stand by my opinion). Is The Purge: Anarchy better than the first Purge film? It would certainly seem so as it did better at the box office (I believe) and has a much higher IMDB rating. Well, it’s not better! The first was better! IMDB users confuse me these days. This wasn’t horrible or anything – it was okay as far as sequels go but it was just a bit “what’s the point?”.

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I found it interesting that this movie didn’t have any well known actors in it. I prefer that sometimes, especially with movies like these as I think it’s easier to buy into an original sort of concept such as this one when you don’t end up sitting there thinking “It’s Ethan Hawke!” the whole time. Having said that, though, I think the first film still did a slightly better job of making its point than the sequel did. However, both films left me disappointed as neither one really explored all the moral implications involved in having one night a year in which all crime, including murder, is legal. This was my main complaint about the first film – GREAT concept but not that well executed. When I heard there would be a sequel, I knew it would go one of two ways: it would either be a more intelligent film than the first one & would aim to be more “thriller” than horror or it would decide to up the violence and be more of a horror movie with more action & even less exploration of the effects on America of having an annual “Purge” night. Then Michael Bay’s name was attached to it & I was like “Shit!”.

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Luckily, The Purge: Anarchy isn’t a total Michael Bay disaster (he was only a producer so I don’t know if he actually had much involvement). They did up the action compared to the first one and there were more characters & storylines going on as the first film focused just on one home invasion whereas this one focused on a group of people caught outside on Purge night. Anarchy also added a Saw/Texas Chainsaw Massacre-like character that felt a little silly and it shoved the “rich vs poor” thing down our throats WAY too much. I was disappointed with the message being so heavy handed in this one and I still feel like they need to try one more time to take this idea & do it properly. There’s so much wasted potential with both these films! Since the first movie was about one family & the second was about a small group of people in one city, it would be good if the third one could show us the effects the Purge has had on all of America further down the line (I could be wrong but I think these two films are set only a year apart). Yeah? Someone give me some money – I want to make the third film myself!

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Summary:

The Purge: Anarchy is an okay film with a great concept. I still think the first film is superior as, although it had its flaws, it was more intense and worked as a somewhat scary home invasion movie (I thought it felt a lot like The Strangers, which I found genuinely creepy unlike the majority of modern horror films). The characters are a bit more likeable in the second film but the story is much more predictable (especially the final outcome for our main “hero”). The message is too in-your-face in that sort of “we’re assuming our target audience is dumb” kind of way that always annoys me. Neither Purge film comes close to living up to the potential of the simple yet brilliant idea of “America having an annual Purge Night” and the second film, although it tries much harder to make a point, does a poor job of it by simplifying the story too much and turning it into more of a social commentary on the current state of affairs in America as opposed to the future America portrayed in the film. But I suppose that is kind of the point as this is only set several years into the future and the America in these movies feels no different to the America of today (just as heavily armed but, for one night a year, you’re allowed to kill anyone you please). If I were to stop overthinking things, I’d have to say I think both these movies aren’t too bad & I liked them both (especially the first one – it’s a good home invasion movie at the very least). I just get frustrated by movies that have so much wasted potential and end up being a little more harsh on them than I would be on a big “popcorn blockbuster”. I still hope, if there’s a third film, that it aims more for the intelligent thriller genre than horror. These movies seem just a little too confused as to which genre and target audience they’re aiming for.

My Rating: 6/10

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**FYI – I went to Secret Cinema (Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) in London last night. It was a fun experience! I’d not done a Secret Cinema before. I’ll try to get a post together about it soon. :-)

Minions (2015) Review

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Minions (2015)

Directed by Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda

Starring Voice Actors:
Pierre Coffin
Sandra Bullock
Jon Hamm
Michael Keaton
Allison Janney
Steve Coogan
Geoffrey Rush

Production company: Illumination Entertainment

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob are recruited by Scarlet Overkill, a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world.

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My Opinion:

First of all, I must confess that I love minions. LOVE THEM!!!! They’re hilarious and adorable and I desperately want some of my own (to do my evil bidding, of course). I specifically want a Bob after seeing this movie – he’s so sweet with his little teddy bear!

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So, anyway – I’m probably going to be far more forgiving of this movie’s flaws because…. MINIONS!!!! :-) Is this movie great? No. Is it even remotely as good as Despicable Me or Despicable Me 2? Hell no. But that’s okay – I didn’t expect it to be. I was hoping it would be better than it was, though, so that was a little disappointing. For the record, I think the first Despicable Me is absolutely brilliant (which shocked me as I’ve never really loved a kids’ film that wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney). I think it’s very funny as well as very sweet (without being schmaltzy). The relationship between Gru & the girls is done perfectly and I knew when they announced there would be a movie with just the minions that it would never live up to the Despicable Mes as Gru and the girls are what really make those movies so great. The fault with Minions isn’t the minions, though – they’re just as silly and loveable as ever. Unfortunately, the story and script are very weak as are all the non-minion characters. Bullock’s Scarlet Overkill is especially boring – I found her and the family the minions first meet to all be a bit stupid and pointless. We cared about Gru in Despicable Me and, even when he was at his most evil, he was at least funny & entertaining. In Minions, I really just wanted the human characters to go away. Maybe the next minions movie should be nothing but minions??? I suppose it would have to be narrated or subtitled through the whole thing, though… Okay, I suppose it wouldn’t work. I’d still watch it, though!

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I’m keeping this review short because, well, there isn’t much to say. If you adore the minions as much as I do, you’ll have fun with this movie even though you’ll recognize that it’s far from perfect. If you’re not a fan of the Despicable Me films or of the minions, I wouldn’t recommend Minions (I’m not sure why you’d want to watch it anyway in that case). I had plenty of fun laughs throughout the film but it’s lacking the heart of Despicable Me (as well as the amazing Pharrell soundtracks). For a soundtrack full of pre-existing music, though, I’d have to say that I did really enjoy the great 60’s songs they chose for the film (from The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, etc). Plus, thank god, they were smart enough to include Mellow Yellow by Donovan! (because, like, minions are YELLOW! Yeah?!). :-) I also enjoyed several 60’s pop culture references but, overall, it didn’t make up for the mediocre story and villain. I still love those minions, though!!!! Just do me a favor & watch Despicable Me instead if you’ve never seen it.

My Rating: 7/10

And if you’re curious, these would be my Despicable Me ratings:
Despicable Me: 9/10
Despicable Me 2: 8/10

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My six-year-old’s opinion: I’ve not done this as a “family” review as, to be honest, I’d have watched Minions even if I didn’t have a kid. But I did ask her for her opinion of the movie as I always do after we watch one together. She of course enjoyed it and giggled plenty throughout the film but I know she didn’t like it as much as Despicable Me. She gives the Despicable Me films 10/10 & Minions 8/10 (she tends to rate things too highly). ;-) She sat pretty still through the whole movie so it did keep her attention the entire time. I’d say it’s definitely worth going to if your kids love the minions as much as mine does. Oh, and her favorite bit has to do with a famous band (but I can’t say any more to avoid spoilers).

What my hubby had to say:
“Such a wasted opportunity. Yes I giggled at the odd thing here and there… but what a waste of some of the most iconic creations of the past ten years.”

Is there a scene after the credits? YES! There are a lot of scenes throughout the credits but there’s also a very long scene after the credits as well. It’s worth staying for (in my opinion. if you’re a music lover…).

Beauty And The Beast (1991) 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 Beauty And The Beast, IMDB rank 228 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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Animated films. You grow up with them as kids, watch them over and over, and love them to pieces. Sadly, it seems, these films can lose whatever hold they had on you, and become a part of some time long ago, that the kids of today are only just discovering.

The Walt Disney Pictures film “Beauty and the Beast”, certainly reminded me why animated films, newer or classic, aren’t to be discarded once you reach a certain age.

This animated film features the voice talents of Paige O’Hara (“Enchanted”, “Disney Princess Party: Volume Two”), Robby Bensen (“MXP: Most Xtreme Primate”, “American Dreams”), Richard White (“House of Mouse”, “Great Performances”), Jerry Orbach (“Law & Order: Trial by Jury”, “Law & Order”), David Ogden Stiers (“Regular Show”, “Leverage”), Angela Lansbury (“Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011)”, “Heidi 4 Paws”), Bradley Pierce (“Up in Smoke”, “The LEGO Movie Videogame”), Rex Everhart (“Law & Order”, “Family Business”), and Jesse Corti (“Annie Sunbeam and Friends”, “Handy Manny”).

The film was directed by Gary Trousdale (“The Pig Who Cried Werewolf”, “Scared Shrekless (TV Short 2010)”) and Kirk Wise (“Spirited Away”, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”). It was written by Linda Woolverton (“Maleficent”, “Alice in Wonderland (2010)”).

The film originally opened on Nov. 22, 1991. It would go on to be nominated for 6 Academy Awards, winning two, four Golden Globe Awards, winning three, and nine Grammy Awards, winning five.

Originally I thought it was going to be difficult to find a copy of this film. The only one my family had, for the longest time, was on VHS, probably the original one bought when I was a kid back in the early ‘90s. I just dated myself. Ugh. Anyway, I didn’t give up. Thank God for both Netflix subscriptions, as the DVD one had the film! However, it wasn’t what I was accustomed to. Since I last saw this film, and I honestly have no idea when that was; for all I know, the last time was in the ‘90s. So, this version was one of the most recent updated versions of the film. I was okay with that, mainly as I’d only heard of the new musical number and hadn’t seen what the animation and coloring would look like in a restored or remastered version. I still got an incredible experience! It seriously makes me wonder why I don’t own this film myself.

The animation, which I immediately fixated on, was incredible! I’m not sure if it’s just because this film is 24 years old (and restored/updated), and the way things are animated is vastly different, but I felt like I was getting something different or special. I instantly fell in love with every aspect that went into bringing this world to life. The detail! The color! Spectacular! Watching these characters move and interact with other characters and the environment was something else. It could also just be telling, in that I don’t usually focus on the way an animated film looks. Certainly not to that level of detail and with the attention I afforded this film.

Much like with the detail of the film, I was able to really focus on the music and lyrics. While in film, Alan Menken (“Galavant”, “Tangled”, “Enchanted”) may not have done much, he somehow delivered incredible, fun, and moving music. Lyricist, Howard Ashman (“The Little Mermaid”, “Little Shop of Horrors”), well, as we now know, wrote amazing songs. I don’t know how best to describe this. I can’t recall if I ever payed that much attention to the music and lyrics before, but this time around, I really, really did. Maybe more than need be, but because of this, I found the lyrics at times funny and highly enjoyable, plus, overall, brilliant! This really explains why, even though I haven’t seen this film much, little pieces of the songs go in and out of my memory, to the point where I must search YouTube for a clip with whatever song is stuck in my head. It also afforded me the chance to see why I love this film more than many of the other animated Disney musical films.

While I pretty much loved every song in this film, including the originally omitted “Human Again”, as well as the darker ones sung by Gaston and his friends, (seriously, listen to the lyrics), there’s only one that stands out the most. That being, “Be Our Guest”.

I think this is mainly because “Be Our Guest”, is so big! That’s the great thing about animation. You can do so much more than in live action. Okay, this may not be entirely true, but let’s just go with it here. Thanks. I love that they even had Belle do a tiny little dance towards the end of the song. I guess I remembered the number a bit differently and thought that this piece just meant something else. It certainly had me getting into the song and dance all that much more, as well as just smiling and laughing and enjoying every moment!!

After the song is over, Belle says, “I figured it out for myself”, for which she’s referring to recognizing that where she is, is an enchanted castle. I found it so fascinating that this very specific thing was mentioned. I don’t know why, but it just stood out for me. Guess it really shows how long ago it was I saw this and what I remember of it.

I don’t think it would be normal if I skipped over a chance to talk about the characters, even if they’re animated.

You always see or hear about surveys, or something, asking which Disney princess is your favorite or which one you are (something like that), and most people seem to have an answer. I usually dismissed this as some silly and obnoxious thing people did for reasons I’ll never understand. I still don’t think, after putting in five minutes of thought, I could tell you. Anyway, after having seen this film I must say that, and I mean this, that Belle is my favorite. I should now throw out that I find many of the Disney princesses annoying, as well as the films they’re featured in, so it makes it easier to pick Belle.

I think most of this love for her comes from the fact that she reads. If that sounds weird, let me add that I’m a big reader. My own personal library now partially lives under my bed, as well as the three other bookcases I have. This probably explains why, when Belle is shown the massive library the beast has, my first thought was, “I want that library!!! So many BOOKS!!!”

Moving on. Maybe this is just some quality I picked out of hers, like with Matilda, that actually carries little actual meaning towards character. I’m not sure. I will say too, that I like her for all the reasons everyone else does. She independent, kind, free spirit, blah blah blah. In the case of the film itself, a large portion goes to O’Hara who had, as I have remembered for so many years, a phenomenal singing voice and the right voice for the character. It’s what makes me love the songs Belle sings so much!

As I’m talking about Belle, I feel it a good time to mention one observation. I love how she just opens up to halfway through the book, but apparently, that’s really the beginning. I know some books have extra pages, that are truly useless, but with her book, that was something else. I think it was something like hundreds of pages before the story actually began. I guess that’s just 1991 for you.

The Beast was an incredibly likable, if not lovable, character. It all has to do with the fact that he’s a very emotional creature? being? thing? Whatever it is, the portrayal of emotions makes him very sympathetic. I was surprised by how quickly he made me feel bad for him. After he catches her in the west wing, he’s so saddened by his outburst. You can see it, and it hits, to me, quite strongly. A kid might not read too much beyond sadness, but I felt much more than I thought I could. You feel so bad for him. It’s so sad!! Fortunately, as is the point of the film, his feelings change and he becomes even more capable of loving, and by the end, you really side with him.

With this version, I loved and didn’t like it, only as it was sort of an awkward placement for a scene, that during “Human Again”, when Belle’s finishing reading “Romeo & Juliet”, you see the Beast just totally taken by the story. Giant paws holding up his head as he listens with attention you don’t really get to see in the rest of the film. This scene, made me so giddy, as you could really see him enjoying this time with Belle! I know there’s plenty of examples of their relationship growing, but somehow those don’t convey the same thing as this one scene does.

Lumier, well, he’s Lumier! I still love Lumier the most. Don’t get me wrong, the other characters are absolutely refreshing as well, but not like Lumier. I’m not entirely sure why, but every time I see Orbach on a “Law & Order” rerun as Lenny Briscoe, I think of Lumier!

And, this wouldn’t be a kids movie without violence! Even if it’s to protect someone from wild animals. Then, there’s the fact that in a kids movie, violence is apparently funny. I got a nice laugh on some of it. I do feel surprised, however, that the animators included such a graphic scene as the knife coming out of the beast. The scene then features a trickle of blood. Really it’s nothing any kid would obsess over, but somehow it just seems shocking. If that doesn’t indicate how long it’s been, I don’t know what will.

Lastly, and just because they’re extra observations, and I even made a note at the top of my page that says, “I’m over thinking most of this film”, I’m including some really random observations. Things which really just made this film a different, yet still enjoyable experience, overall.

– Apparently nobody knew of this prince living in a massive castle. How???
– But, the beast knew there was a village. Or did he just know because of Belle and her father?
– Oh, look! Lumier and Cogsworth sound French! Why are they the only ones?
– Belle has no friends, so she must talk to the chickens. Yeah, that makes sense.
– Everyone’s gotta have a sidekick!
– “How can you read this? There’s no pictures.”
“Well some people use their imaginations.”

Pretty much the sentiment of today’s youth and a lot of people in general. Or, maybe it’s just the people I know that don’t read. Sad on so many levels.

I may watch animated films every now and then, but seldom do I react the way I would if I were still a kid, or as others do when the little kid inside them comes out. Not since “The Lego Movie”, which wasn’t watched all that long ago, have I been so entertained by something animated. Perhaps this newfound love of this film, is telling me I need to revisit my childhood. Maybe I need to spend more time giving new animated films a chance, as I could be surprised by what I’m seeing. There’s a whole genre of film I feel that I’ve been missing for some time, that only now, seems to be acceptable for me to watch again. Animated films, they’re not just for kids.

What If Disney Princesses Were Minions?

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Ha! This is old news in Internetland (a week) but I needed something simple to post today. Minions finally comes out today! Oh my god – I can’t wait to see it!!!!!! Lol. (I love those wacky minions…)

Anyway, here are some Disney Princesses turned into Minions by Jen Lewis at Bored Panda. Click the link to see them all. :-)

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My Top Ten Happy Songs

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I didn’t realize I had so many songs that “make me happy” until I started putting this list together. I wouldn’t say that these are songs that cheer me up, exactly, as I tend to listen to angry heavy metal when I’m down. However, when I’m already in a good mood and the sun is actually shining (rare occasion in the UK), these are my favorite “happy songs” to listen to. A lot of these are pure cheese, I know… Don’t judge me! ;-)

Counting down from ten to my number one favorite, here are My Top Ten Happy Songs:

10. TIE: Slade – Run Runaway & Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

9. Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag

8. Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out

7. Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky

6. Kermit – The Rainbow Connection

5. Sweet – Love Is Like Oxygen

4. Hot Butter – Popcorn

3. The Cure – In Between Days

2. Supertramp – The Logical Song

1. The Clash – Train In Vain

Honorable Mentions:
Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Cat Stevens – If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
Sugar Ray – Every Morning
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
Kid Cudi – Pursuit Of Happiness
New Radicals – You Get What You Give
David Bowie – Magic Dance
Donovan – Sunshine Superman
New Order – Temptation

I had about a million honorable mentions – I really had to narrow it down! A special shout out to David Byrne as hearing his voice on any song always makes me happy as well.

Top Ten Lists:

I’ve had a list for ages now of just under 100 different top ten lists I’d like to do but just never seem to get around to putting the posts together. Does anyone like these top ten lists? Should I keep doing them? I was thinking of aiming to post them on Thursdays (when I have the time). They’re mostly movie-related but there are quite a few music ones as well. Sometimes it’ll just be a simple list like this one but other times I’ll explain myself (like I did with last week’s list of My Top Ten Band Names). Let me know what you think. I can’t guarantee every Thursday but I’d do my best. :-)