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. :-)

Limitless (2011) Review

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Limitless (2011)

Directed by Neil Burger

Based on The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Abbie Cornish
Robert De Niro
Anna Friel

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.

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My Opinion:

This movie sounds really exciting from that plot synopsis! Well, I was bored. I fell asleep a few times, I think I missed some stuff & couldn’t be bothered to rewind, and I had to force myself to finish it just to say that I had so I could write this fabulous, in-depth review months after watching the movie. ;-)

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Let’s see… What’s good about it? Well, the concept. A pill “that enables the user to access 100 percent of his brain abilities”? Sounds intriguing! So, although this sort of “thriller” genre isn’t usually my type of thing, I’d still been wanting to check it out at some point. This movie reminds me a lot of Man On A Ledge. I sort of felt the same way about that one before seeing it. I was like “Hmm. Not usually my type of movie but it’s a great idea & the trailer looks pretty exciting & I’d like to see where they go with the story”. Then the movie totally sucked. Limitless was probably the better film of the two but Man On A Ledge almost became so ridiculous it was fun whereas Limitless stayed serious (and boring). Also, Bradley Cooper kind of annoys me & Robert De Niro’s character felt pointless & he totally phoned in the performance so I’d have to say I preferred that silly Man On A Ledge movie. Plus, I like Elizabeth Banks.

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I’m not going to win my argument here but, honestly, if you want to watch a movie where someone uses “100% of their brain abilities”, watch Luc Besson’s Lucy instead. Yeah, a lot of people hated that movie. It’s an odd one. But at least I can say it was not boring. God I hate boring movies! I want to be entertained. Why would I want to waste two hours of my time on a dull movie I won’t remember in a year’s time? (Like how I remember so little about Limitless that I’m successfully avoiding talking about it at all in this “review”! Ha! I need one of Bradley Cooper’s magic pills). ;-)

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Summary:

I watched Limitless a few months ago. I barely remember it. It clearly didn’t make much of an impression. I reviewed it anyway. This was my review. Go watch Lucy – it’s weird but more fun & you’ll at least remember it a few months later. I squeezed this brilliant “review” out during my 30 minute lunch break. Time management!

My Rating: 5/10

*I dunno – I gave Into The Woods a 4.5/10 and I HATED that so I figure Limitless deserves a higher score than that one even if I don’t remember it. ;-)

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The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Niall of The Fluff Is Raging. Thanks so much for all the reviews, Niall! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about The Bourne Ultimatum, IMDB rank 182 out of 250…

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

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The Bourne Ultimatum

*review written in shaky-cam*

“People, do you have any idea who you’re dealing with? This is Jason Bourne. You are nine hours behind the toughest target you have ever tracked.”

Pamela Landy

When I still watched TV the old-fashioned way, The Bourne movies seemed to be on all the time. They were on so much, in fact, that they began to blur for me and become one long, furiously-edited, shaky-cam mess of people speaking spy-jargon while looking at banks of computer screens, vicious hand-to-hand combat and incredible car crashes. Mostly, they provided a much-needed exciting jolt to the action genre.

There is a lot more to the Bourne movies than just action, of course, which is probably why they were so successful, touching as they do on ripped from the headlines topics like surveillance, rendition, sleeper agents, intelligence leaks, and torture. They are, in short, action movies for grown-ups and, if memory serves, they’re a lot better than the Robert Ludlum potboliers that are their source. They’re spy capers, but they are realistically grounded spy capers. After Wikileaks and Edward Snowden, the amount of eavesdropping going on in The Bourne Ultimatum is truly frightening.

To do justice to the third in the series, The Bourne Ultimatum, you really should watch the first two. A quick catch-up on The Bourne Identity: an unconscious man is rescued by fishermen in the Mediterranean. He has no idea who he is, nor why he has a microchip with a Swiss bank account number embedded in him. He heads to Europe to find out, meets a nice girl who helps him get to Paris, and then the baddies come after him.

Mayhem ensues. Wash, rinse and repeat.

The second film, The Bourne Supremacy, is both a retread and a continuation of the story, with Bourne cracking bones and crashing cars in Berlin and Moscow. The film has an added twist of vengeance – they kill his girlfriend, and we learn more about the secret government assassin programme, Treadstone.

You may recall that after a climactic car chase in Moscow, The Bourne Suprenacy ends with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) in New York, speaking to Bourne on the phone, unaware he’s watching her from a rooftop. “Get some rest, Pam, you look tired.” The Bourne Ultimatum begins several weeks earlier, with Bourne still limping around Moscow, before stopping off in Berlin, London, Madrid and Tangiers. In real life Euro-railing is nowhere near as exciting as this.

The Bourne Ultimatum is a fitting end to the series. It’s a chickens coming home to roost story, as Bourne tries to find out who he really is and who started all this. I really don’t rate the follow-up The Bourne Legacy at all, and am dubious about the possibility of another Bourne film, even if it will reunite Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass.

Who started it all is Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney, seen in woozy flashbacks) as a psychiatrist who specialises in behaviour modification, and who erased the identity and personality of Capt. David Webb to create the hitman Jason Bourne as part of a secret project called Blackbriar. (except nobody would ever be so gauche to call him a hitman: in government-speak he is an asset – until, of course, he becomes a liability.) It’s inevitable that the two are going to end up in the same room together, so most of the film is about getting Bourne to New York.

Landy, meanwhile, is trying to help him, and playing office politics with a shadowy CIA operative Noah Vosen (David Strathairn). Their scenes together are every bit as thrilling as the chop-socky fighting stuff.

There are several exciting sequences including Bourne performing a brilliant piece of tradecraft in a crowded Waterloo Station; a rooftop chase in Tunis that ends with the most brutal fight in the entire trilogy; and a thrilling Manhattan car chase.

Okay, it’s still a big Hollywood movie, and even the smartest movie can have dumb moments. There are an awful lot of coincidences in The Bourne Ultimatum. It’s mighty convenient that the hunt for Bourne is actually a news item (would that really happen?) allowing for him to meet a Guardian journalist, Simon Ross (Paddy Considine) who provides some necessary exposition. Bourne finds a photo of Finney that accidentally falls out of a file.

And it really helps that Bourne`s old handler, Nicki Parsons (Julia Stiles) is now stationed in Madrid, where Bourne meets her at the CIA office. I`ve always liked Stiles as an actress, and she has never got the breakout role she deserves; she does very well in a small but important role. It’s heavily hinted that she’s in love with Bourne. There’s a moment in this film that a lesser movie would turn into a love scene, but the closest we get to romance is the following brief exchange:

Bourne: Why are you helping me?

Nicki: It was difficult for me … with you.

They stare at each other silently for a long moment.

Nicki: You really don’t remember anything.

Bourne: No

As for Damon, he’s great as always in the role. He looks weary and hollowed out, not the relatively spry youngster he was in the first film. He doesn’t smile once. He trained for months for the fight sequences, and he does look like he could handle himself in a scrap. The fights were choreographed by Jeff Imada.

Of course, one of the reasons why these films are so exciting is how they are shot and edited. An awful lot of information is crammed into two hours, and the film seldom stops for a breather. And it’s urged along by John Powell’s score. Even a mundane moment like Bourne picking the lock on a door is given urgency by how it’s filmed and edited (four shots in less than two seconds). There’s a fascinating interview with the film’s editor Christopher Rouse  here.

Spare a thought for Dan Bradley. He was the second unit director and stunt coordinator on the film, and many of the movie’s more memorable action moments are down to him, including the Tangiers rooftop chase and the Manhattan car chase.

Niall McArdle

http://www.ragingfluff.wordpress.com

Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) Review

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Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) (French: La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 – The Life of Adèle)

Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

Based on Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Starring:
Léa Seydoux
Adèle Exarchopoulos

Running time: 179 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is a 2013 French romantic coming-of-age drama that revolves around Adèle (Exarchopoulos), a French teenager who discovers desire and freedom when a blue-haired aspiring painter (Seydoux) enters her life.

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My Opinion:

I watched this movie ages ago but I really hate leaving things unfinished so I’m still trying to catch up on reviewing the movies I watched in 2014. It’s harder with some movies than with others to remember them well at this point but I remember Blue Is the Warmest Color very well. I thought it was a really good look at a relationship and all the highs & lows in any relationship, regardless of sexual preference. The characters felt “real” thanks to the excellent performances from the two lead actresses. YES – I will admit that I partly watched it because of all the controversy over the sex scenes as I wanted to see what people were freaking out about. I can see why people were freaking out – the sex scenes were unnecessarily gratuitous. I’ll talk more about that topic in a bit…

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The two actresses, Léa Seydoux & Adèle Exarchopoulos, were fantastic & made their characters fully believable. Exarchopoulos was especially good as Adèle, who was the main focus of the film as it explored her coming of age with older, blue-haired Emma and also with her starting a career as a teacher and just trying to find her place in the world. My one complaint (other than the sex being too graphic) would be the fact that the character of Adèle is a freaking DRAG! She’s a very beautiful girl so it’s not hard to understand there being a physical attraction to her but she’s soooo depressed throughout the entire film that it’s hard to believe the far more interesting & creative Emma would want to spend so much time with her. However, their attraction is very much a physical one and they play this attraction very well. It’s a very animalistic, ripping-clothes-off, throwing-each-other-up-against-the-wall kind of attraction (I don’t remember if they threw each other up against the wall but you know what I mean). Which is awesome! We all want a bit of that in life (um, right?!). So let’s talk about the sex (baby! Let’s talk about you & me! Let’s talk about all the good things & the bad things that may be! Let’s talk about sex!). FYI to you kids – that’s Salt-n-Pepa.

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Wow! This is indeed a great, arty little French movie with wonderful performances but I did feel like I was watching full-on porn a few times. First of all, I’ll say that I don’t care in the slightest whether people choose to have sex with the those of the opposite sex or not. Or if they choose to have sex with both sexes! Who cares?? I honestly don’t understand why it’s even an issue at all. Like most females, though, I’m not exactly a fan of porn. Well, I’m sure some women are but I like my movie sex scenes to be all romantic. “Movie sex” is awesome! It’s all lit candles, cuddling, passionate kissing, and curtains billowing in the wind. I don’t want to watch real sex! Real sex is gross & awkward. Ew. Actually, “curtains billowing in the wind” sounds kind of dirty to me… Hehe! *giggle* *blush* Sorry – I’m very immature about sex scenes. You should have seen me watching Shame.

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Anyway, the sex in Blue Is The Warmest Color is gritty & realistic and there are no lit candles (from what I remember). Now, I think I read somewhere that the girls were wearing “fake vaginas”? Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong because I’m not about to go Googling that like some kind of weirdo. Either way, real or not, you see what appears to be vaginas & you see what appears to be real sex with those vaginas. I know it caused a lot of controversy but it was still released whereas I doubt that a mainstream film that showed sex in such graphic detail between a man & a woman or between two men would even be released. I think it’s well known that this movie was made by a straight male director and it does very much feel like the graphic sex scenes were done with straight male viewers in mind. What’s the point of that?? Take those scenes out & you couldn’t have paid a man to watch a love story between two women. I’m not saying I was offended by those scenes, exactly. Hey, I guess it’s good that the sex seemed just as real as the relationship did but I just didn’t find the graphic nature very necessary. The two actresses had great chemistry anyway and, quite frankly, there were a few fully-clothed scenes that felt more passionate & intimate than the sex scenes (when Adèle first spots Emma, when they first meet, and a restaurant scene toward the end). It was the fully-clothed scenes that sold the relationship to me more than anything. Okay, these girls were very passionate about each other but their acting was good enough that we didn’t need to watch them banging away at each other for ages in order to buy into their desire for one another. I don’t know… I’m not offended by the scenes themselves so much as by the fact that they felt thrown in there just to be controversial & gain more attention for the film.

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Oh! I said I had no other complaints about the film, really, but two more things did annoy me about Adèle besides the fact that she seemed like a depressing bore: the way she played with her messy, stringy hair constantly & the way she ate. The eating scenes were hilarious, though, as they were obviously meant to represent oral sex (Emma introduces Adèle to oysters & teaches her how to eat them). Haha – very clever, Mr Director. We get it, dude. We’re not idiots. But I was really glad to be done with watching Adèle eating things by the time this movie was over.

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Summary:

Blue Is The Warmest Color is a very realistic portrayal of a passionate relationship between a young woman and her first female partner. I don’t think it should matter that they’re of the same sex – a love story is a love story and this one works very well thanks to fantastic performances from the two leads. I felt Adèle’s yearning & heartache just as much as Heath Ledger’s in Brokeback Mountain and Lloyd Dobler’s in Say Anything – same sex relationship or not, we all have the same feelings. The sex was too graphic (in my eyes) and felt like it was made just to be controversial but it was a lovely film that I didn’t feel needed to go so overboard on the sex. Between that and kind of finding the character of Adèle a bit depressing & irritating (though Exarchopoulos did a brilliant job playing her), I’d probably give this a slightly lower rating than if I had watched a love story where I liked the characters a little bit more. They did feel very real, though, and you want nothing more at the end of this film than for both of them to be happy. Especially Adèle. You’re young & gorgeous, girl – cheer the hell up!

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Happy Birthday To Cyndi Lauper

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Happy Birthday to Cyndi Lauper, who turns 62 today!

I was watching a bunch of 80s video over the weekend (because they’re the best) and one of them was Girls Just Want To Have Fun. I dread to think how many times I’ve watched that video (loads!). Anyway, I was curious as to how old Lauper was when she made that video so I looked her up & noticed that her birthday is today. I know I should post the video for The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough (which is also awesome) but I have to go with Girls Just Want To Have Fun as it’s such an 80s classic and was one of my favorite videos as a kid.

And it sort of ties in with the movie review I’ll be posting later today! Sort of… Okay, not really.

Happy Birthday, Cyndi! Hope you’re having fun. :-)

Zookeepers Are Recreating The Jurassic World Raptor Scene

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I love things like this! I missed all this on Twitter but apparently zookeepers have been recreating Chris Pratt’s “raptor taming” pose from Jurassic World:

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Too cute! Here are some penguins as well:

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You can read all about it & see more tweets with other adorable recreations HERE. Stuff like this puts a smile on my face. :-) Hope you all have a nice weekend!

Jurassic World (2015) Review

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Jurassic World (2015)

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Starring:
Chris Pratt
Bryce Dallas Howard
Vincent D’Onofrio
Ty Simpkins
Nick Robinson
Omar Sy
B. D. Wong
Irrfan Khan

Running time: 124 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Dinosaurs.

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My Opinion:

ROAR!

I’m not sure why but I wasn’t the least bit excited about seeing this movie. Yeah, the first one is a classic & I think it’s great & I like it a lot. I don’t think I love it to the degree that a lot of other bloggers do, though. But then I realized that’s because I’m older than ALL OF YOU! :-( I wasn’t a kid who grew up with these movies – I was on a date when I went to the first one. Then I hated the second one & I can’t even remember a damn thing about the third one. Anyway, Jurassic World is pretty much what I expected in that it’s better than the 2nd & 3rd films (thank god) but of course not as good as the first one. I did enjoy it more than I thought I would, however, so I’m happy enough with that. That’s more than I can say for a lot of big blockbusters these days.

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I’m not going to ramble on & on about this movie. Everyone has seen it and most have reviewed it. I prefer to do longer reviews for movies that don’t get as much attention as the big blockbusters but I still enjoy discussing them in the Comments with you guys. This movie is about dinosaurs wreaking havoc. The human characters & their storylines are SO cliché and you’ll be able to predict every character’s fate from the start. However (how do I say this in a non-snobby way?) – everything is cliché & predictable in a very “Spielberg” type of way which, quite frankly, is fine by me! I cared just enough about the main characters to at least not want them to get eaten by dinosaurs (or have their parents get divorced! oh no!). That’s more than I can say for last year’s Godzilla – I didn’t really care if anyone survived that one. I wanted everyone to survive in Jurassic World & have a big group hug at the end. Because nothing brings a family together like almost being eaten by dinosaurs!

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So, yeah, the human characters were fine. I didn’t hate them. I almost liked them, actually! The brothers were pretty sweet and Chris Pratt has turned into quite the cutie. Bryce Dallas Howard got on my nerves a bit but she’s a little better by the end (which is exactly how you’re meant to feel about her). People are going to Jurassic World for the dinosaurs, though, and I’m happy to say that they were impressive. I saw this in IMAX 3D which, normally, I don’t give a crap about. But this one looked pretty damn amazing so it was worth the massive price (I guess. Seriously – it was expensive). Isn’t it funny how spoiled we are by movies like these nowadays, though? There are freaking DINOSAURS that look totally real chasing people around on a massive screen! And it’s no big deal to young people as this is what they’ve grown up with. It’s sad, really, as movies like this have kind of lost their wonder. I’m just never going to feel as amazed by any Jurassic movie as I was by the first one. Oh well.

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Summary:

Jurassic World is Jurassic Park with bigger dinosaurs but less heart. I think a new generation of kids will love it, though, as it’s a fun blockbuster with huge dinosaurs that look amazing, chase people, and break lots of shit. I feel bad for not raving over it but I think that’s just because it was exactly what I was expecting. I’m not complaining – it was fun and I think, for its genre, it ended up a better film than Avengers: Age Of Ultron did compared to other superhero movies. For me, the velociraptors were the highlight. And Chris Pratt’s arms & stubble.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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My Top Ten Band Names

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We all probably have band names that we’ve just always really liked or found cool. I thought it would be fun to do a list of My Top Ten Favorite Band Names. This is not a list of my favorite bands (that would be a very hard list for me to make!) – it’s just a list of names I like. Okay – I do love most of these bands, which is interesting… I think a really great band name probably sometimes helps a band to become big. However, I can’t even name one song from my top choice… Hmm! My one rule when I thought of this list was that I had to have already heard of the band – there are all kinds of odd band names out there if you do a Google search but the below bands are ones I already knew of.

Here are My Top Ten (er, 11) Favorite Band Names counting down from ten to my number one favorite plus my favorite song from each band:

10. TIE: Massive Attack & Blue Öyster Cult
My Favorite Songs: Teardrop & (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

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Massive Attack apparently had to change their name to just “Massive” during the Gulf War. Well, Massive is a sucky name so I’m glad they didn’t go by that forever. Teardrop & Protection are also amazing songs that are unlikely to ever leave my iPod. As for Blue Öyster Cult, that name just rules. Of all the band names with dots over the Ö, I have to say Blue Öyster Cult is even cooler than Motörhead & WAY cooler than Mötley Crüe. I’d never before thought to look into the meaning of the Blue Öyster Cult name so this is what I just found on the almighty Wikipedia: the band’s name comes from a poem by manager Sandy Pearlman in which the “Blue Oyster Cult” was a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth’s history. Huh. Love it!

9. The Chemical Brothers
My Favorite Song: Setting Sun

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Interestingly enough, The Chemical Brothers were originally called The Dust Brothers (another band name I quite like). Well, they had to change their name due to there being an existing Dust Brothers but I think it worked out for them as The Chemical Brothers is the better name & they went on to be more successful than The Dust Brothers anyway. (I’m a big fan of The Chemical Brothers. I highly recommend their current single, Go, featuring Q-Tip).

8. Radiohead
My Favorite Song: Paranoid Android

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Radiohead are another big favorite of mine. Maybe I AM a sucker for a good name?? Not exactly true – the music comes first but the name & image do matter too. This is a very simple but effective name that I think works very well with Radiohead’s style of music & their values (especially everything since OK Computer).

7. Black Sabbath
My Favorite Song: Black Sabbath & Spiral Architect

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Okay, yes – another very favorite band of mine. But you HAVE to admit that Black Sabbath is the best & most METAL name ever. It sounds dark, evil & Satanic. I love it.

6. The Velvet Underground
My Favorite Song: I’m Waiting For The Man

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Classic album cover as well, of course. I don’t have much to say about this name… I just like it! The Velvet Underground were just one of those bands I always wanted to be a big fan of simply because the name sounded so cool but, in reality, I don’t know very many Velvet Underground songs (although I do really love I’m Waiting For The Man). I was a little worried that “velvet underground” may be a reference to a part of the female body or something so I’ve just looked up the meaning. According to THIS, The title of a book by Michael Leigh, The Velvet Underground, was embraced as the ideal band name. And that is no wonder, because the novel was about the secret sexual subculture of the early sixties. Kinky! Still sounds like it could mean “vagina”, though, which leads me to my next favorite band name…

5. Pearl Jam *see also band name 10cc* ;-)
My Favorite Song: Alive

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Honestly, I had no idea at first that Pearl Jam was a totally filthy name. I’m of the age where it was a requirement for me to like Pearl Jam when their first album came out. And that first album WAS great & I far preferred them to Nirvana. However, I can’t say I’ve listened to them ever again since my early twenties… Anyway, while I was still a fan, I remained completely naïve & innocent to the real meaning of “Pearl Jam”. I thought it actually sounded quite sweet! Well, from what I can gather, I think Eddie Vedder & Co have always denied that they named their band after sperm. 10cc, however, haven’t exactly denied the origin of their band’s name: “Producer Jonathan King is supposed to have been the inventor of the name 10CC, convinced as he was that an average ejaculation yields about 9 cc semen and therefore that 10 cc is an enviable quantity.” And in looking that up, I see that the band name Lovin’ Spoonful also means the same thing. Just how many bands are named after semen?!?!

4. Iron Maiden
My Favorite Song: Phantom Of The Opera

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Anyone who reads this blog often enough may know that Iron Maiden are my very favorite band ever. Well, I love their music first & foremost (and Eddie, of course) but naming your band after a medieval torture device is even more METAL than Black Sabbath. I don’t care if anyone accuses me of being a middle-aged man with a big fat beer belly (I’m middle-aged but a girl & beer belly-less) – Iron Maiden kicks ass as a band and as a band name!

3. Daft Punk
My Favorite Song: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger and Instant Crush

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I do know how Daft Punk came up with their name & really like the story: The members of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, were originally members of a rock group called Darlin’. An early negative review of their work in Melody Maker dismissed the music as “a bunch of daft punk.” Two words I really like on their own, I think they work perfectly together. And I love these robots! (I reviewed Daft Punk’s Electroma film HERE). I also think Random Access Memories is one of the best albums in years.

2. Strawberry Switchblade
My Favorite Song: Since Yesterday

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I’d never heard of this one-hit-wonder until I moved to the UK & I had to remind myself of the song when putting this post together. It’s quite a good song, actually! I’ll include the YouTube link to it at the end. Anyway, if I were cool enough to be in a band, Strawberry Switchblade is THE band name I’d want! Sounds so female PUNK. Love it! It makes me think of the movie I watched recently with a very young Diane Lane in a female punk band (Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains). I wish I’d seen that movie when I was younger – I’d have wanted to BE her! (Who am I kidding? I still want to be a female punk rocker…). Anyway, I don’t know a thing about Strawberry Switchblade but I dig their look & the song – it’s too bad they didn’t get anywhere after this.

1. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
My Favorite Song: No idea – I don’t know any.

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Ned’s Atomic Dustbin! YES! What the HELL possessed them to name their band that?! Let’s look that up on Wikipedia, shall we?: “The band took their name from an episode of The Goon Show”. Huh! Well, that’s a pretty boring story but it’s a GREAT name. I’ve been curious about Ned’s Atomic Dustbin since seeing their name carved into a desk I was sitting at in college. Now, to you young people, this is back in the early nineties so it wasn’t like I could easily go YouTube their stuff or something. So, to this day, I’ve never heard a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin song. I suppose I could finally go have a listen online now? Does anyone know anything by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin? Any recommendations? You know, I think I won’t bother YouTubing them just yet – I have fond memories of that time in my life and, in case their stuff sucks, I don’t want it to ruin my love of their name. :-)

Honorable Mentions:
A Tribe Called Quest
Rancid
Death From Above 1979
Lick The Tins
Kraftwerk
Bomb The Bass
The Prodigy
Modest Mouse
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Teenage Fanclub
Squirrel Nut Zippers

The Third Man (1949) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. Thanks for all the reviews, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he thinks of The Third Man, IMDB rank 72 out of 250…

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

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The Third Man

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Roger Ebert described film noir as the “most American film genre” but not all the Golden Age classics were American-made. British director Carol Reed created one of the most famous British noirs in 1949. The Third Man stars Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, two stars from Citizen Kane, and highlights some of the differences between British and American noirs. Using old noir guidelines as a map may lead you astray as the film follows its own course. Set in Allied-occupied Vienna, Cotten stars as Holly Martins, an American pulp fiction writer who travels to Vienna to work for his old friend Harry Lime. Soon Martins finds Lime was killed in an accident just a few days prior to his arrival and learns some unflattering facts about his friend. Sensing foul play, Martins begins an investigation along with Lime’s love interest Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli).

At the center of The Third Man‘s plot is a mystery and plot twist that feels very predictable, especially if you look at the roster of cast members before the film begins. But like many American noirs, the film centers on characters; the choices they make and their consequences. Martins struggles to reconcile memories of his friend with the Lime described by Major Calloway (Trevor Howard). Both Martins and Schmidt must choose to support Lime’s racket or aid Calloway’s efforts to undo Lime’s plots. The decisions ultimately feel inevitable but Cottens and Valli’s performances sell the character’s struggles.

Unlike the more detective-based American noirs, The Third Man does not involve on-screen characters outmaneuvering each other. The characters with all the answers to the film’s mystery are secondary with limited screen time, leaving the main cast confused and off-balance. This makes for a “softer” protagonist, more lost and confused than the hard-boiled leads of American films. What the film does have in common with other noir classics is the dark atmosphere and visual techniques of the genre. Dutch angles and harsh lighting are used throughout, almost too often. These techniques helps create uneasiness and tension but their use can feel artificial. At times we watch a character enter a cafe in a standard angle then take a seat at a booth. The camera adjusts to show the sitting character and suddenly a Dutch angle is used. Sudden shifts like this happen throughout and do more to draw attention to the camera-work than set a tone. To the film’s credit, these transitions may have been more novel in 1949, although some contemporary reviews chastised the dizzying views. Others were more appreciative. A New York Times review written in 1950 celebrated the camerawork:

For into this strangely off-beat story of a young American visitor’s attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery of a friend’s dubious “death” in Vienna’s streets, Mr. Reed has brilliantly packaged the whole bag of his cinematic tricks, his whole range of inventive genius for making the camera expound. His eminent gifts for compressing a wealth of suggestion in single shots, for building up agonized tension and popping surprises are fully exercised. His devilishly mischievous humor also runs lightly through the film, touching the darker depressions with little glints of the gay or macabre.

-Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, February 3, 1950.

I’m making a note to myself to include “glints of the gay or macabre” in a future review. Crowther goes on to compliment the film’s music which features a zither “pulsing” in the background. I must admit, the music of the film grew tiresome quickly. Again this may be due to my modern ears reacting against a 60-year-old stylistic choice but the repetitive score underpinning moments big and small added more distraction than suspense or melancholy.

Ultimately, my appreciation for the film is dulled by my more modern eyes and ears yet the film still tells a captivating story brought to life by effective acting. Watching Orson Welles in his earlier years is always a treat and his brief scenes alone make the film worth a view. The film’s finale in the sewers of Vienna are also particularly effective. Rewatching the film with an eye for camera technique and Reed’s style might make for a more worthwhile viewing.

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Rating: 9/10

Classic Film Scale Rating: 7/10

Bottomline: A well-crafted yet dated mystery, The Third Man‘s well-developed characters, “bag of [noir] cinematic tricks”, and elaborate sewer finale make the film worthy of the praise it has received over the decades.

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Primer (2004) Review

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Primer (2004)

Directed by Shane Carruth

Starring:
Shane Carruth
David Sullivan
Casey Gooden
Andand Upadhyaya

Running time: 77 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.

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My Opinion:

What. The. Hell. Seriously – if you’ve seen this movie & you’ve come here looking for answers, you’ve come to the wrong place! I’m far too stupid for this movie. Don’t get me wrong – I love movies that make you think. Believe me, I get bored with all the braindead Michael Bay blockbuster type shit that keeps being made but Primer just made my head hurt.

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First of all, anyone who reads my stuff often enough probably knows that I have a tendency to fall asleep anytime I try to watch a movie at home. Hey, I’m tired & old & have a young child – give me a break! I’ve never fallen asleep during a movie as many times as I did while trying to make it through Primer, though. Holy shit! I think it took me about seven separate attempts to finish it plus I had to keep rewinding the bit where they “time travel” (or whatever the hell it was that they did) for the first time & the one guy was explaining to the other guy how it works & I was trying to wrap my little brain around his explanation. That bit was complicated enough as it was but then they kept doing the time travel thing and trying to undo things and, I dunno, undo things undone and, like, try to stop someone being shot or something and make money off the stock market or some shit like that and double selves talked to past selves and past selves talked to double selves (is that right??) and they did all this while lying around in this time travel box thingy that they created in this one dude’s garage. And they talk & talk & talk about scientific gobbledegook the entire time. Blah blah blah. At least I found one of the main two guys (Shane Carruth – also the film’s writer & director) kind of sexy in that “really smart guy who wouldn’t talk to me because I’m a complete idiot compared to him” kind of way. I love smart dudes!

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Anyway, these two engineer dudes create this time travel box by accident while working on some other confusing scientific thing. This is one of those movies where, unless you’re Einstein, you have to go reading about it online afterwards. Normally I enjoy having to do this but I couldn’t be bothered this time. The first place I go if I want to refresh my memory before I do a movie review is Wikipedia just to read the full plot summary (here’s the one for Primer). Hahaha! Well, I can’t even make it through that without getting confused all over again so I gave up on reading anything further about this film. And this is the first time I’ve seen Wikipedia include diagrams to help explain a movie. I’m going to include the one that explains how the time travel works in Primer. I don’t consider this a SPOILER but I’m putting a little warning here just in case you want to watch this movie without knowing anything beforehand. I think seeing this diagram first may help, though – I wish I’d actually seen it before watching the movie. If you like the look of this diagram & if it actually makes sense to you, please watch the film so you can explain it to me. ;-)

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Link to the diagram on Wikipedia

Oh, that’s the simple one. Here’s a chart that apparently explains the whole movie (link HERE to be able to view it properly. I got it from THIS article, which gives a fairly simple overview to help you understand Primer. But I still don’t!):

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Summary:

From what I could gather, Primer is about time travel. It was directed by, written by, produced by, edited by, scored by, and starring Shane Carruth, who is clearly some sort of can-do-it-all genius. He also managed to make this on an extremely low budget and, although it seems low budget in some ways, it’s also pretty damn good for the small amount of money Carruth had to work with. It has lots and lots of technical mumbo jumbo that went way over my head but, from the tiny bit I’ve read online, it’s all accurate scientific stuff so boy genius Carruth obviously knows his stuff. I’d maybe hate him for being so perfect if he wasn’t so cute and if I didn’t find guys with big brains a total turn on. I’m never watching another movie of his again, though. Screw Upstream Color – I’ll stick with things like Back To The Future. I can follow that. Oh look – it’s now Lone Pine Mall! Haha! I get stuff like that! Plus a DeLorean is way cooler than a stupid box.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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YES! The smart dudes in Primer use a Weeble in their first time travel experiment (well, they don’t know the Weeble is time travelling at first but figure it out because some sort of shit accumulates on it. Or… something. No idea). Anyway! Weebles were awesome. It gave me very fond memories of the two cool Weebles sets I had as a kid (the circus and the haunted house).

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I really wanted to know which Weeble was used in Primer. From the movie photo above, I’d say it looks like the boy in the circus set:

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It was quite a while ago that I watched Primer so I can’t remember if they used more than one Weeble in their experiments. Maybe. Yes, I spent longer researching Weebles than I did researching an explanation of the movie. This is how my brain works. But I had a lot more fun reminiscing about Weebles than I did watching Primer! ;-)

By the way – I think these UK Weebles looked really weird compared to the American ones I grew up with:

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**Feel free to try to discuss Primer with me in the Comments but I’ll be just as happy (happier) if you want to discuss Weebles and any other retro toys instead** :-)

Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part IX: Junior Senior

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I haven’t done an Anthropomorphic Cuteness post in ages! I was reminded yesterday while being forced to play Just Dance again how much I enjoyed the Junior Senior song Move Your Feet when it was out & then I remembered that it had a cute video with one of my favorite things in the world: Anthropomorphic food! And it’s all pixel art so it’s even BETTER. :-)

I believe this is the third anthropomorphic music video I’ve posted now (first was the Blur milk carton then the X-Press 2 video with the adorable mix tape). Check out this happy hot dog!

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend. :-)

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Miracle Mile (1988) Review

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Miracle Mile (1988)

Directed by Steve De Jarnatt

Starring:
Anthony Edwards
Mare Winningham
Denise Crosby
Mykelti Williamson
Kurt Fuller

Music by Tangerine Dream

Running time: 87 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man hears a chance phone call telling him that a nuclear war has started and missiles will hit his city in 70 minutes.

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My Opinion:

What’s this? An apocalyptic movie from my beloved 1980s with a Tangerine Dream score yet I’d not even HEARD of it let alone ever seen it?! How is this possible?!?! Well, I think UK Netflix is finally getting better as they’re starting to stick some slightly obscure 80s films on there, which is exactly what I want! I’m always on the lookout for lesser known movies from the 80s (and 70s) and Netflix has surprised me twice in the past month with this and then with one I watched a couple weeks ago (Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. I can’t wait to review that!).

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I’ll start by saying that Miracle Mile isn’t exactly a great movie & it’s obvious why it didn’t end up some mainstream hit at the time. However, I liked it because it’s my type of thing and I’ll probably end up giving it a higher rating than it may actually deserve. I think my positive reviews here are sometimes taken as recommendations but I’d only recommend this one to a select few people. I kind of attempted to explain my rating system in my recent Re-Rated post (HERE). For example, though I LOVE Hardware and gave it a really positive review, I’ve only actually recommended it to two people (who haven’t watched it) as I know it’s only for a certain type of person. So I take no responsibility for anyone hating this if they watch it! Make up your own mind & don’t get mad at me if you choose to watch this and then hate it like MovieRob did after I declared my love for Hardware. ;-)

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Miracle Mile is an odd one. From the tiny bit I read when I discovered it on Netflix & from looking at some pictures, I thought it may be more of an “apocalyptic romance” and in a way it almost looked like it could be closer to an 80s teen film than a dreary nuclear war film (as in, it looked like it would be a little closer to WarGames than Threads but it ended up somewhere in between the two). There IS a romance that’s quite sweet but not in a bad or annoying way – I liked how it was fit in around the story of how the main character (Anthony Edwards) is going to get to safety in only 70 minutes after hearing a chance phone call telling him missiles are about to strike his city. He’s an awkward guy and he’s only just met a quirky girl who seems to be his perfect match (Mare Winningham). After missing their date due to his alarm clock not going off, he receives the phone call & then must track her down in order to save her. For anyone not into romance, they don’t exactly get a lot of screen time together but when they do I liked seeing their strange little relationship & Winningham’s innocent & almost childlike character (except when she says to Edwards “Third date, Harry, I’m gonna screw your eyes blue“).

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When I mentioned this movie, someone somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember who – it may have been on Twitter) said something about Mare Winningham being a second rate Lea Thompson but, really, we have a movie that stars Goose instead of Maverick so it was less likely to be a big blockbuster with Anthony Edwards in the lead. It also looks & feels pretty low budget (I have no idea if it was) and the acting from some of the supporting characters isn’t the greatest. But, hey – I liked the story and it went in a way I wasn’t really expecting. It’s nice to watch a movie that’s not 100% predictable for a change. Edwards meets a lot of different types of people in his 70 minutes of running around the Miracle Mile neighborhood of L.A. and it was fun seeing faces I recognize from other 80s films & TV shows.

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You of course have Edwards & Winningham in this who, although not often in leading roles, were in their fair share of big 80s movies (Top Gun, St. Elmo’s Fire, Revenge Of The Nerds, etc). You also have Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump), Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG & Pet Sematary – two things I loved way too much!), Kelly Jo Minter (Mask – an all-time favorite film of mine), O-Lan Jones (crazy lady in Edward Scissorhands), Jenette Goldstein (the woman who stabs the guy through the milk carton in Terminator 2 and who was Vasquez in Aliens, which is possibly the best movie ever!), Earl Boen (also in Terminator 1, 2 & 3!), and Brian Thompson (in The Terminator! what’s with all the Terminator people in this?! okay – looks like they’re from the same film company or something). I can’t find a good picture of Brian Thompson from Miracle Mile so here he is in The Terminator – he has a face that’s hard to forget!

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My favorite “Hey, it’s that guy” actor, though, is Kurt Fuller (Wayne’s World) & I was very happy to see him in this! Here’s Fuller in Miracle Mile – he probably has the most memorable scene of the whole movie.

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Summary:

Miracle Mile certainly wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I love that it managed to actually surprise me. It’s somewhat quirky & unpredictable. It won’t be for everyone but I enjoyed it and, as always, enjoyed seeing familiar faces from what’s probably my favorite era of movies. The Tangerine Dream score did help to give it that 80s feel I love although none of it was quite as good as the train sex music from Risky Business. There was one great totally Tangerine Dream-y scene which I’ll include a YouTube clip of at the end. Another scene like that really would have helped this strange little film I’d never before heard of but I did like it & am hoping to discover more movies like this that I somehow managed to miss when I was younger.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**This scene is safe to watch – it’s toward the beginning of the film & just shows how Edwards misses his date. It’s a great piece of music.**

Question Of The Month At Oracle Of Film – Favorite Game Of Thrones Character?

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I’ve participated in another Question Of The Month from Luke over at Oracle Of Film: “Who is your favorite Game Of Thrones character?”. So many great characters to choose from! You can read all our replies HERE.

Thanks again, Luke! And, hey – can I just ask everyone this: “How awesome was the episode Hardhome?!?!?” :-) I’ve been really disappointed by this season so far but that episode kicked some serious ass!

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) IMDB Top 250 Review

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An IMDB review by me! Finally! I’ve been slacking…

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

IMDB Rank: 208 out of 250 (as of 01/01/2013)

Directed by John Ford

Starring:
John Wayne
James Stewart
Vera Miles
Lee Marvin
Edmond O’Brien
Woody Strode
Andy Devine
John Carradine
Lee Van Cleef

Running time: 123 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

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My Opinion:

It’s me! Reviewing a Top 250 film on my own blog! I’ve really neglected this Top 250 project while I’ve let all of you review them for me instead. I’ve reviewed all of the Studio Ghibli films in the Top 250 but, besides those, it looks like my last review was of Unforgiven last September. And here I am now with another damn Western (which I watched last September. I’m so behind!). I have to say that of the two things I was dreading in the Top 250, Westerns & war movies, I’m far preferring the war movies so far. (Once Upon A Time In The West was pretty awesome, though).

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So… John Wayne! This is the first & only John Wayne movie I’ve watched in my life. His movies were of such a different era that I really can’t relate to in any sort of way & I’ve never had any interest in exploring any of his films. I remember flipping through channels once as a teen & there was some John Wayne movie on where he was spanking a woman. Spanking?! Not in some weird, kinky, S&M way but I got the impression that she was maybe his wife & had disobeyed him or something so that was her punishment. (Okay – I can’t believe I just Googled “John Wayne Spanking” but I did & the movie was a year after this one & called McLintock!). Anyway, that sort of sexism just wouldn’t fly today so I can see why John Wayne films aren’t exactly popular amongst a new generation whereas the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns still are. They’re beautiful, sweeping epics (I assume – I’m basing this only on Once Upon A Time In The West) while John Wayne’s “spanking movie” feels like it’s from 50 years before West instead of just five. Having said that, though, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is pretty good & nothing like the very limited knowledge I have of other John Wayne films which had a very old look & feel. I think the fact that it was in black & white helped to keep it feeling less “dated” in an odd sort of way plus I think “serious drama” works much better in the Western genre than “silly spank comedy”. Also, what helped a lot for me was the fact that James Stewart was in this. I love Jimmy! That’s what convinced me to watch this one instead of putting it off (unfortunately, it’s no longer in the Top 250 like it was when I started this project).

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IMG_0372This is Liberty Valance. SPOILER: he gets shot…

I think this movie has a really good story & I liked the way it’s revealed in flashback as a small group of old friends gather for a funeral. James Stewart plays an educated lawyer & politician while John Wayne plays the rugged silent hero type but, hey – these are the exact kind of roles these two are known for & they’re perfect in this film. I’ll admit I got a little bored in the middle when the political stuff was going on (James Stewart running for some political something or other) but the scenes between Stewart & Wayne as well as the scenes involving the big baddie terrorizing the small community (Liberty Valance, played just right by Lee Marvin) were great. I also enjoyed the little bit of a love triangle between Stewart, Wayne & Vera Miles. So there are a lot of big stars in this one (including Lee Van Cleef although I can’t say I really remember him in it now – I don’t think it was a huge role). But my favorite actor in this (after Stewart) would be Woody Strode. He has a pretty big role as Wayne’s ranch hand & close friend. He was also in the incredible opening scene of Once Upon A Time In The West and has such a great look. I’d totally want to cast him in a movie if I ever made one (but he’s kind of not alive anymore). I looked him up & see that his last role was in that Sharon Stone/Leonardo DiCaprio Western The Quick And The Dead at the age of 80. Makes me want to watch that silly looking movie now – would be fun to see a young Leo again as well. Here’s Strode in this & West:

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Summary:

I know I don’t have much experience with Westerns but I can say that, as someone who isn’t a fan of the genre, I thought The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was pretty good. I really enjoyed the story plus the characters were very well-developed and you cared what was going to happen to them & to their close friendships. You love the goodies & hate the baddies in this one, which is really the point of all Westerns, isn’t it? It’s a shame this isn’t in the Top 250 anymore as young people keep voting in current shit like Interstellar, meaning all the older films are being overlooked and will now probably be totally ignored. This one is worth a watch if you like a decent good guy vs bad guy movie filled with revenge, love, loyalty and loss.

My Rating: 7/10

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Tomorrowland (2015) Review

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Tomorrowland (2015) (aka Tomorrowland: A World Beyond in the UK)

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring:
George Clooney
Hugh Laurie
Britt Robertson
Raffey Cassidy
Thomas Robinson
Tim McGraw
Kathryn Hahn
Keegan-Michael Key

Running time: 130 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of a former boy genius (Clooney) and a young girl (Robertson), who travel to an ambiguous dimension known as “Tomorrowland”, where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.

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My Opinion:

Damn. Damn! Damn damn damn! Tomorrowland was one of my most anticipated movies this year. In fact, it’s the one I chose over everything else (even Star Wars!) when Luke over at Oracle Of Film asked the question: What is your most anticipated movie?”. Damn. Is it too late to change my answer?? What a disappointment.

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I desperately wanted to like this movie. It seemed to have everything going for it: Live action Disney sci-fi directed by Brad Bird! Everyone loves Bird’s Ratatouille and of course The Incredibles but my own personal favorite of his is The Iron Giant and I think I was hoping that Tomorrowland would have the heart that that one does. Unfortunately, Tomorrowland feels very cold & sterile and most of the characters, other than teenager Casey played by Britt Robertson, aren’t very likeable. In fact, George Clooney’s character is so grumpy & unlikeable at first that I wasn’t able to warm to him at all, especially after he knocks Casey off his front porch in a way that could’ve broken her damn neck. They explore his past to show us that he was once an optimistic “dreamer” but don’t really explain why all that changed. We’re given hints but not enough to make us care.

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I don’t know if this is SPOILER TERRITORY so look away for the rest of this paragraph if you still want to see this movie. A lot of the rather convoluted story revolves around an android girl and she’s almost as unlikeable as Clooney’s character. This movie reminded me in a lot of ways of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which also felt very cold & sterile and was a bit convoluted and unsure of its message. However, Haley Joel Osment was at least very good as the “robot boy” and you cared about his character. It IS possible to make us like “robot people”! Loads of movies have managed it. Heck, even D.A.R.Y.L. managed it! (Yes! I got another D.A.R.Y.L. mention into one of my reviews!). But in Tomorrowland, I didn’t care at all about this little android girl and her world so I didn’t really care if Clooney’s & Robertson’s characters would be able to save it or not. I should point out, though, that I don’t think any of this was the fault of the actress (Raffey Cassidy) as I think she was very good in a poorly written role. Oh! By the way – Hugh Laurie is in this too in a rather stupid & pointless role. He’s really not even worth mentioning. Although I guess I just did…

I’ll mention that there’s quite a bit of violence against the androids, which may disturb young kids as the androids look completely human and the very young may not understand that they’re just robots. This includes one sudden & shocking Final Destination/Meet Joe Black moment that felt out of place in a Disney film.

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I’ll say that the one thing I did like about this was Britt Robertson. I know I watched this silly show that she was on for a while (The Secret Circle) and she was the one thing that really stood out. I’m not surprised that it seems she may be on her way to bigger roles now and, although she’s 25, she has a very young look which means she can play a teenager in something like this without it being embarrassing like Olivia Newton John in Grease. Her character helps save Tomorrowland from being a total disaster, at least.

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Summary:

Tomorrowland has a convoluted plot set in a cold & sterile environment where everyone (besides the main teenage girl) is unlikeable and the audience won’t be able to buy into them or care about their fate. Its story is far too complicated for young kids plus the level of violence was a bit surprising for a Disney “family film”. It’s hard to figure out who this movie is aimed at as the confusing story won’t make any kids like it (even I was confused by the end as to what exactly was going on) and there’s not enough here for adults to enjoy either. I can’t see this being a movie that most homes with kids will own and that will get played over & over again, which is unusual for a Disney film. I know it’s very unlikely that I’ll ever see it again (and I have no desire to) and I highly doubt my kid will ever ask to watch it over and over again like Frozen or most of the Pixar films. The movie’s message gets lost in the confusing plot but, basically, it’s saying that we should all be “dreamers” and full of hope. It’s unfortunate that Tomorrowland can’t achieve what it clearly wants to as it isn’t going to actually inspire anyone. I’ll say the final scene & image are pretty good & is the closest the movie comes to achieving its vision but it doesn’t come even close to making up for the previous two hours of the film. I’m very disappointed but it won’t make me give up on Brad Bird as I think he’s very talented and hopefully has another The Iron Giant in him. I blame Damon Lindelof.

My Rating: 5/10

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) Review

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Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Starring:
Anna Kendrick
Rebel Wilson
Brittany Snow
Hailee Steinfeld
Skylar Astin
Adam DeVine
Hana Mae Lee
Alexis Knapp
Ester Dean
Chrissie Fit
Anna Camp
John Michael Higgins
Elizabeth Banks

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

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My Opinion:

Movies like this aren’t really my type of thing, although I did think the first Pitch Perfect wasn’t too bad (review HERE – I gave it 7/10). I haven’t really liked many silly, cheesy comedies since the Eighties and find the ones aimed at teens/twentysomethings especially obnoxious these days. Plus I absolutely HATE things like Glee! I’m a big music fan & having to hear really good songs get mutilated & turned to shit always annoys me. Oh – they’ve done a song by A Tribe Called Quest in Pitch Perfect 2? Okay – I guess that makes Pitch Perfect really cool! (No, it doesn’t. I’m being a smart ass. Maybe not obvious in text). ;-)

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I’m doing it again! I’m making it sound like I hated a movie when I didn’t! Pitch Perfect 2 is okay. If you liked the first one, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll like the second one. I mean, it’s the exact same film again (but with a weaker overall story). We have all the same characters again (with the addition of Hailee Steinfeld, who really added nothing to the movie & was only there to make sense of the final “twist” of sorts). Rebel Wilson is as Rebel Wilsony as always (she’s just as “love her or hate her” as Melissa McCarthy, although I’d have to say I maybe prefer her slightly to McCarthy but I sure as shit don’t love either of them). I was very happy that the crazy, quiet girl was in this again (Lilly) as she was my favorite thing from the first film. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get as many funny lines as in the first one and there’s no big “puke angel” moment (which I actually found hilarious although I did appreciate the lack of puke in Part 2).

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I think the most unfortunate thing about this film is that they seemed to not know what to do with Anna Kendrick’s character. She was by far the main star of the first movie so they tried to give her a “main character” storyline in this one but it felt really fake & forced. It just didn’t work – her character’s story (although cliché & predictable) was far more interesting in the first one. I found I “cared” about the characters much less in the sequel. These movies feel a lot like the 21 & 22 Jump Street movies to me. The first movie is the superior film with the much better story while the second one ramps up the humor and is actually more funny but is the weaker film as it just does the same thing again but not quite as well. I do like the Pitch Perfects a little more than the Jump Streets, though. It could be because I’m a girl who does still enjoy a girly popcorn movie when I’m in the right mood but I think, as the Pitch Perfects are more “female aimed”, they get a little less credit for being funny. Women can’t be funny, right?! Bullshit! Yes we can and things like Bridesmaids have proven that we can be just as disgustingly vulgar as men (although I’m not a fan of that film in the same way I’m not a fan of shit like The Hangover – I see the “girl” movie as being the superior one between those two, though). I did get a few chuckles out of both Pitch Perfects, which is rare for me. I especially like the un-PC jokes they’re able to get away with & loved the way Elizabeth Bank’s character laughed at the thought of Americans winning an international competition since everyone “hates us” (sorry – being an American living outside America I can confirm how true this is!).

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Speaking of Elizabeth Banks, I’m a fan of hers although I know she’d make some people’s Annoying Actresses lists. I’m not sure why some people don’t like her as I find her funny in her comedy roles but also think she does a decent job in other sorts of roles (she’s very good in the Hunger Games films). Anyway, I’m glad she’s had success directing this film & think she’s done a fine job here. The film does what it needs to do. It’s not exactly groundbreaking but it’ll certainly keep fans of the first film happy. Good job, Elizabeth Banks, and hooray for female directors!

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Summary:

Pitch Perfect 2 is really just Pitch Perfect 1 with less puking. What sequel tops the original, though? (Don’t answer that – I know some have). The story is weaker but the jokes are slightly more funny. If you loved the first one, you’ll love the second one but I think you’d have to watch the first one before seeing this to be able to buy into the characters as they’re far more developed in the first film. I wouldn’t say that you’d have to rush out to the cinema to see this but that’s probably just me as everyone clearly DID rush out to see this as it apparently beat the far superior Mad Max: Fury Road at the box office in America. Seriously?! This is why other countries hate us! Lol. Anyway, I did like this just fine although I’d have been just as happy watching it at home in my Snoopy pajamas. I know I sounded negative but I’m probably just trying to make excuses for my liking these movies okay as they’re not normally my type of thing. When did I become such a snob? They’re fun movies even if the cheesy singing does get in the way a bit.

My Rating: 6/10

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For all the young people who watch Pitch Perfect 2:

Untouchable (2011) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from MIB of MIB’s Instant Headache. Thanks for the review, MIB! :-) Now let’s hear what he has to say about Untouchable (aka Intouchables), IMDB rank 64 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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Untouchable (Cert 15)

1 Disc (Distributor: Entertainment in Video) Running Time: 112 minutes approx.
Paraplegic multi-millionaire Philippe (François Cluzet) and his secretary Margalie (Audrey Fleurot) are interviewing for the role of live in carer for Philippe. One particularly impatient potential candidate, Driss (Omar Sy), refuses to wait any longer and storms into the interview room, purely for Philippe to sign a letter saying he attended the interview so he can claim his benefits. Impressed by Driss’s no nonsense attitude, Philippe gives Driss a one month trial period, setting the pair on a journey that brings about great change for the both of them.

The story of contrasting cultures coming together has been told an immeasurable amount of times but this particular one (known as The Intouchables in its native France) is based on the real life relationship of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his caretaker Abdel Sellou, who make a cameo appearance during the end credits. Subject to some typical dramatic license it would be easy to dismiss this is another slice of schmaltzy audience manipulation but directors Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano have managed to eschew the easy route to deliver a genuinely charming and uplifting tale that possesses enough heart to belie its glossy veneer.

Contrary to what the plot may suggest, this is not a case of the two conflicting parties seeking to change or convert the other to their way of thinking. Yes it happens, of course it does, but much of it comes through osmosis or the awakening of latent instincts which makes for a refreshing change. Street wise, Senegalese immigrant Driss is hardly an Eliza Doolittle in the making while affluent and cultured Philippe has no intention of playing Professor Southgate (or Higgins for you My Fair Lady fans) either, even if this seems to be the direction the roles are heading.

The central theme is one of personal fulfilment and the search for a suitable replacement to the holes in one’s life. Paralysed from the neck down after a paragliding accident, widower Philippe supplants his former active lifestyle with art, music, opera and literature all from the comfort of his wheelchair. He has an adopted daughter Elisa (Alba Gaïa Kraghede Bellugi), whom he ignores and as result she acts like a spoiled brat towards everyone. With previous carers lasting an average of two weeks Philippe makes a bet with Driss he won’t last (a theme that lasts throughout the film). Driss takes up the challenge and as expected the early going is not easy on both men.

When Philipe has a panic attack one night it is Driss’s simplistic approach to take him out for a night time walk (or push in this case) that proves to be a better tonic for Philippe than the usual kid gloves treatment he received previously. Whether smoking joints is also suitable remedy is a matter of opinion. Soon it is not just Philippe that feels the benefit of Driss’s unconventional behaviour – housekeeper Yvonne (Anne Le Ny) and Margalie soon warm to the ebullient newcomer, the latter the obligatory hard-to-get target for his libido.

Conversely, Driss begins to appreciate classical music and even takes up painting but his urban roots are still intact, just as Philippe’s breeding stays with him. In true dramatic fashion however the walls start to crumble when Driss’s cousin Adama (Cyril Mendy) shows up seeking refuge from a violent gang, and both parties are faced with a period of re-evaluation of their priorities.

There is no escaping the fact that the story follows the cultural/racial integration conventions right down the line but its strength and enjoyment lies in the central relationship, exceptionally essayed through the two outstanding performances of François Cluzet and Omar Sy. As the engine that drives this film, the development of this bond between this unoriginal yet still intriguing dichotomy is a gradual but perceptively told one, taking in both the funny and the tragic elements of the bumpy road they travel together.

One gets the impression that in the scenes where they joke around – at both their own expense and of those around them – that these scenes were improvised, such is the naturalness of their reactions and the warmth of their interplay. The shaving scene in particular highlights this perfectly.

Sy’s portrayal as the brash Driss may seem to be the more audience friendly of the pair, as if he is trying to appeal to the energetic Chris Rock/Eddie Murphy audience with his fast paced and loud delivery. Yet Sy manages to retain an earthiness to his character making him quite likeable in places. For Cluzet, being wheelchair bound for the majority of the film doesn’t limit the sheer class and gravitas he exudes in every scene, whether he is the uptight snob, the giggling joker, the upset father or the dignified art lover. The support cast are suitably adept in their roles, while it has to be said that it is refreshing to see Audrey Fleurot playing a much lighter version of her unscrupulous lawyer Josephine Karlsson in the TV series Spiral. She even smiles here!

While Untouchable cannot claim absolute originality in its plot, it can boast a touching and heart warming tale based on a genuine relationship that can be felt in every frame. A smooth mixture of light humour and poignant drama, it conveys a positive message of hope and goodwill to lift even the darkest of spirits without resorting to cheap sentimentality.

A simply joyous and joyful experience.

Extras:
Deleted Scenes
Previews

Rating – ****

Man In Black

Big Game (2014) Review

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Big Game (2014)

Directed by Jalmari Helander

Starring:
Samuel L. Jackson
Onni Tommila
Felicity Huffman
Victor Garber
Ted Levine
Jim Broadbent
Ray Stevenson

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young teenager camping in the woods helps rescue the President of the United States when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite.

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My Opinion:

I watched this last week but then I watched Mad Max: Fury Road which is a billion trillion times better than Big Game so I of course had to review that first (review HERE). Then I watched Pitch Perfect 2 yesterday which is also better than Big Game but, well, I had this review partly ready to go so let’s get this silly Samuel L Jackson movie out of the way.

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I saw a trailer for this a while ago & thought it looked silly but fun. The trailer kind of made it look like Escape From New York but set in the wilderness in Finland with Samuel L Jackson playing the Donald Pleasence role & a little kid playing Kurt Russell. Ha! Well, that would have been kind of cool but Big Game isn’t quite as much fun as I was hoping. Silly, yes! Not very good. Kind of fun, I suppose. It’s not like it ruined my day or anything but it’s certainly not one you need to go to the cinema to see. Watch it at home if you’re a Jackson fan.

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What I liked is that this movie said “screw it!” and just did all kinds of stupid & cliché things (oh! it’s the Secret Service guy’s final assignment before retiring? no way!) but the director & actors are clearly just enjoying making an almost “family friendly” film that’s almost done 80’s-action-movie-style. Almost. The silly side of 80’s action movies, at least. Things like Commando. Will I be in trouble for calling Commando silly? That’s the one with Alyssa Milano, right? I remember when I wanted to be cool like Alyssa Milano back in the Who’s The Boss days! Anyway – I have nothing against movies like that. Those were great! Not GREAT like in a Predator or Terminator way but, you know – more fun than most shit that gets made today. Hmm. Maybe Commando was actually awesome. I don’t remember. I should watch it again sometime. But I’m pretty sure it didn’t have the American President and a 13-year-old boy from Finland flying around all over the place in a freezer. Spoiler warning? Oops. Doesn’t matter. The flying freezer pisses all over the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull fridge nuking! But it’s meant to be ridiculous. I think? I wouldn’t quite say this is a “so bad it’s good” movie because it’s really not that bad. If you just go into it with an open mind & in the right kind of mood, you might get a few good laughs out of it.

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Summary:

I kind of had fun with Big Game. It’s ridiculous but it’s not like you’re meant to take it seriously. Remember the good old days (yeah, the Eighties) when we weren’t so judgmental & snobby about movies and just had fun with silly action movies that were violent but actually really tame and didn’t have blood & guts flying all over the place and we watched them even though we weren’t really meant to because we were a little too young? Big Game is like that. But who the hell cares now that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is out?!?! THAT’S a great action movie just like the old days! Go to that! Don’t go to Big Game. Don’t go to Pitch Perfect 2 (did that seriously do better at the box office than Fury Road? seriously???). Go to Fury Road!

My Rating: 6/10

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For those who don’t know it, there’s something called the Eurovision Song Contest every year where a bunch of countries perform an original song & try to win the contest and the songs are CRAP and everyone makes fun of the whole thing. Anyway, my favorite moment from it was the year that Finland’s entry by the band Lordi won. So I kept thinking of Lordi while watching Big Game since that’s pretty much the only thing I know about Finland. Because I’m American & Finland is outside of America. ;-) Here’s Lordi’s winning song Hard Rock Hallelujah! Lol

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller

Starring:
Tom Hardy
Charlize Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Riley Keough
Zoë Kravitz
Abbey Lee
Courtney Eaton

Running time: 120 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

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My Opinion:

YES! This is what movies are meant to be like! I’ve been moaning for years that they can’t make a decent action blockbuster anymore. It’s all CGI bullshit now with shitty scripts and crappy characters. Oh how I’ve longed for the days of The Terminator & Alien/Aliens. Well, I’m happy to say that Mad Max: Fury Road is a return to the good old days of action-packed blockbusters. And, as a HUGE added bonus, we have ourselves another Ellen Ripley with Charlize Theron’s kick-ass Imperator Furiosa. That’s right, ladies! This is a totally bonkers, violent, non-stop adrenaline-fueled extravaganza that has its female audience in mind just as much as its male audience! YES!!!! The female characters don’t take a backseat in Fury Road – they’re driving this bastard!

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I’m now kind of regretting my post from two days ago (HERE) in which I re-rated several movies I thought I’d given either too high or too low of a rating. I said that I think I sometimes rate new releases too highly due partly to hype & partly to my enjoyment of the experience of going to a movie in the cinema. So now I’ve gone to the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time & I’m still on a high as I’m writing this just after seeing it and I know I’m going to just rave about it like an idiot and end up giving it a really high rating. Well, you can trust me on this – Fury Road is not a movie that will need re-rating because I’ve rated it too highly in my excitement. In fact, I’m afraid I won’t do it justice & may rate it slightly too low as I want to be more cautious with my ratings now. Damn. We’ll see… I still don’t know at this point what rating I’ll give it.

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I always try to stay as spoiler free as possible in my reviews and I want to be especially careful with this one as I think knowing as little as possible before seeing Fury Road may add to your enjoyment (I know it did for me as I didn’t know quite what to expect beyond the one trailer I’d seen). So, I’m not going to get very specific about things that happen in the movie as I’m not sure what is common knowledge & what isn’t. I think people will like this one whether they’ve seen the Mel Gibson films or not. My experience is this: I saw the first two but I admit that, although I did really like them at the time, I only watched them once sooo many years ago that I don’t remember them as well as I’d like. Sorry Mad Max fans – I’d wanted to re-watch them before seeing Fury Road but haven’t had the time. I’ll definitely make time for them again at some point now but Fury Road works just fine as a film on its own.

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What I loved about Fury Road (besides the kick-ass female characters that I just can’t rave about enough) was, well… Everything. I loved the look & feel of the post-apocalyptic world and its insane inhabitants. I loved the action that never ever let up – the stunts they pulled off were amazing! My eyes couldn’t actually keep up with the amount of action going on – it was nuts! But in a good way – I want to watch this again as I know I missed things. The writing was very good – we got decent character development (for an action movie) as well as sympathetic characters we cared about and who cared about each other (so many action movies barely bother with this!). The baddies are over the top and outrageous in the most awesome way possible. Hell, the whole movie is over the top and outrageous but it’s so much damn FUN. George Miller really went to town with Fury Road & it all works perfectly. It reminds me in a way of how Tarantino makes his films – you can tell there’s a real love of what he does. It feels like he really put his heart into making this film. I wish every director would do the same.

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Summary:

Mad Max: Fury Road is totally bonkers. Its fast pace may have you leaving the cinema wondering what the hell just hit you but, hey – that’s what action movies should be like. Fury Road gives us Imperator Furiosa, a new badass female who deserves a place among the likes of Ellen Ripley and The Bride. As a female who is often frustrated by the sexism and misogyny in movies, I couldn’t be more happy about that (and the movie sure as shit passes the Bechdel test!). I think those who aren’t fans of the other Mad Max films should like this just as much as those who are but those who are may be a little disappointed that this movie should almost be titled Furiosa & Mad Max: Fury Road. That title sounds damn good to me, though – maybe we can get the female character’s name in the title of the next one.

My Rating: 9/10

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Re-Rated: Movie Reviews I May Have Gotten Wrong

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I know a couple of people here have in the past picked on my “rating system” when it comes to my movie reviews. I admit I’ve made mistakes… I have a tendency to rate new releases too highly, probably partly due to hype & partly due to my enjoyment of seeing a new film in the cinema/theater. However, there are also times when a movie goes up in my estimation after I’ve reviewed it. I love it when that actually happens!

I’ve never really explained my rating system here (which is on a scale of one to ten, ten being the best). I think it’s really simple – it’s based almost entirely on MY own personal enjoyment but I do take “worthiness” into consideration somewhat if reviewing a classic for something like my IMDB project. Hence, something like Adventures In Babysitting gets a 9/10 from me while On The Waterfront, which I found boring, will get a much lower rating than that when I eventually get around to reviewing it. I’m not saying that Adventures In Babysitting is the better film – I’m just saying that I like it more. Makes sense, right??? :-)

Below are some films I watched for the first time since starting this blog two & a half years ago which I feel I either gave too high or too low of a rating. None have changed too drastically. I’m extremely opinionated when it comes to movies I like or dislike so I’d never change my mind completely. Let’s start with the ones I think I rated too highly:

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Godzilla (2014)
Original Rating: 7/10
New Rating: 6/10

This damn movie! I think I ended up liking it even less after a few of you picked on me for trashing it in my review then giving it a 7/10. I don’t know… I think I try to be nice with my ratings sometimes as it’s not like I’ve ever made a movie. This wasn’t the worst thing ever plus Godzilla looked great (when you finally got to see him after watching a bunch of idiots you didn’t care about for the first hour). It needed a better script & characters, though.

Pacific Rim
Original Rating: 7.5/10
New Rating: 6.5/10

WHAT?! 7.5? What was I smoking??? Here’s where I’m going to get in trouble – I gave this a higher rating than Godzilla when it was far more guilty of having a godawful script. However, I’m still giving it a higher rating than Godzilla since I did actually enjoy it slightly more, even if it was dumb as hell. Sorry! At least the first half wasn’t boring as shit.

Pretty Much Every Superhero Movie Other Than Guardians Of The Galaxy:

I won’t list them all since I think I’ve reviewed every superhero movie that has been released since I started this blog. I still really hate Man Of Steel – I gave that a 6/10 but I’d like to change that to 5/10. I admit I rated The Amazing Spider-Man 2 too highly since I like Andrew Garfield more than Tobey Maguire but, still – I haven’t exactly loved any of the Spider-Man films. X-Men: Days Of Future Past was a mess so I’d probably knock at least half a point off of that now. Actually, to be on the safe side, just take half a point off every rating I give superhero movies from now on. ;-) They’re such fun popcorn movies that I kind of get caught up in the moment when I review them right after seeing them. I’d even already lower my Avengers: Age Of Ultron & maybe even my Big Hero 6 ratings. However, Guardians Of The Galaxy remains a firm 8.5 & I was considering raising it to a 9. We’ll see if any future films taint things or not.

American Hustle
Original Rating: 7/10
New Rating: 6/10

Why did I give this a 7?! I must have been blinded by the fact that I love the 70s. This should never have been up for a Best Picture nomination & wasn’t worthy of the hype. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t anything that special. I also think Silver Linings Playbook is overrated – knock half a point off of that too! Maybe I’m just not a David O Russell fan.

Interstellar
Original Rating: 6.5/10
New Rating: 6/10

Screw this movie. I was going to give it a 6 in the first place but got too scared of the Nolanites.

Now onto the movies I think I rated too lowly:

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The Warriors
Original Rating: 8.5/10
New Rating: 9.5/10

Yes, 9.5 is very high. I think I’ve only given that twice on this blog (to The Breakfast Club & WALL-E) plus a 10 only once (to The Shawshank Redemption). Those three are all movies I already loved from my pre-blog days, though (there would be more 9 & up but I’ve given up on reviewing old all-time favorites for now as I just don’t have the time). My two favorite things about having a movie blog are 1) chatting with like-minded movie fans and 2) discovering new (well, mostly old) movies that I now love. I’ve forced myself to watch movies I’d probably still be putting off watching if I didn’t have this blog making me feel like it’s almost my job to watch things that have been on my “To Watch” list for years. I can thank this blog for my new love of Charlie Chaplin and probably also Studio Ghibli as I may have not watched the fabulous Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind or some of the other great Ghiblis beyond My Neighbor Totoro otherwise. But Chaplin & Studio Ghibli are highly regarded & I gave them all very high ratings when I reviewed them. However, if I’m completely honest, The Warriors is my very favorite CPD “new discovery” that had been on my To Watch list for years and, along with a John Carpenter film I watched for the very first time recently, it would now be up there as an all-time favorite film of mine. I’ve given an 8.5 to some very good recent films such as Her & Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Those will never be all-time favorites, though, so I think The Warriors deserves a much higher rating than 8.5. It deserves a place among the the likes of Adventures In Babysitting! (And while I’m at it, I’d like to up the ratings by half a point for two other pre-blog favorites: Dawn Of The Dead (2004) & Hardware. Yes, Hardware. Deal with it!) ;-)

Hobo With A Shotgun
Original Rating: 6.5/10
New Rating: 7.5/10

I won’t go into this one much as I still have no clue why I like it. In fact, please don’t go read my review because it’s embarrassingly shit! I’m still as clueless now as I was then as to why I enjoyed this thing but it’s one of the movies I saw in the past few years that I think of most often. There’s just something about it & I don’t know why it’s not a bit of a cult classic yet (or is it? I have no idea). I really want to re-watch this now…

The Man Who Fell To Earth
Original Rating: 7/10
New Rating: 8/10

This was a hard movie to rate in the first place as it’s, well, not exactly good. But I like it. I LOVE David Bowie, though, so I’m going to like it much more than someone who doesn’t. It’s a very odd film but, like Hobo With A Shotgun, it’s one of the movies I’ve thought about the most since seeing it. It’s very artistic & iconic. Bowie is far from the best actor ever but I like this beautiful, weird ass movie a lot.

The Great Escape
Original Rating: 8.5/10
New Rating: 9/10

Not a huge difference in the rating but this was one of my favorite IMDB Top 250 movies I’ve watched & I think it deserves a 9/10 just as much as The Bridge On The River Kwai, which I did give a 9/10. Both are true classics & made me realize that maybe some war films actually ARE really bloody good after all.

A Lot Of Horror Movies:

I’m always a little harsh on horror movies here at CPD. Horror has never exactly been a favorite genre of mine but when good horror films actually do get made, I absolutely love them. Stuff like The Shining, The Omen, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Romero’s zombie films… Love them! The problem is that there are SO many bad ones these days that I probably don’t give the few decent ones the credit they deserve. I tend to rate them in comparison to non-horror movies when I should be comparing them to other movies in the horror genre to be more fair. These are all horror movies I’ve really enjoyed since starting this blog & I’d up all their ratings by half a point:

It Follows
Tucker And Dale Vs Evil
Grabbers
The Babadook

Also, I thought The Descent was pretty damn good but I think I gave it a fair rating of 8/10 – I just feel it’s worth another mention.

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Hmm. I did this as I wanted a quick thing to post but it ended up taking ages with all those links. I should have just reviewed Big Game instead (FYI – I’m thinking I’ll give it a 6/10 but it probably doesn’t deserve it because it’s pretty bad!). Sorry I’ve not been around much lately. I have a lot of real life things to deal with & my weekends have been too busy, which is when I usually try to catch up on reading other blogs. The blogging thing will have to go on hold for a little bit but I’ll do my best to write more of my high quality reviews that I squeeze into my 30 minute lunch breaks. ;-)

The Maltese Falcon (1941) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. Thanks for all the reviews, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he thinks of The Maltese Falcon, IMDB rank 121 out of 250…

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

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The Maltese Falcon

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Reviewing a classic like The Maltese Falcon reveals the absurdity of online film reviews. The endeavor asks us to focus our gaze on a film created before most of us were born, before many of our parents were born in fact, not to mention before countless cultural shifts, artistic fads and genrefication. And of course before the invention of the internet which allows vast hordes of people to weigh in on old classics. What I say here, positive or negative, will have little bearing on the fact that The Maltese Falcon is and always will be one of the greatest films ever made. But reviewing the greats, which is the spirit of the IMDB Challenge that inspired this review, provides the perspective needed to judge new releases.

And without a doubt, The Maltese Falcon is one of the greats; it is listed at #31 in the updated AFI Top 100 Films rankings (down from #23 on the original rankings), #6 on the AFI Top 10 Mystery films, and widely considered to be the first major film noir made. Five other noirs released between 1941 and 1954 would land on the AFI Top 100 rankings (See Footnote) but The Maltese Falcon helped open the doors for the genre and inspire later films. This is especially notable since films released at that time were generally more upbeat and include several classic musicals. To be sure, the genre’s momentum was already trending up by 1941. Just one year prior Strangers on the Third Floor and They Drive By Night hit theaters and showcased Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart respectively, both of whom star in The Maltese Falcon. What helps the film stand out from those predecessors is its early use of the so-called “hard-boiled detective” character already found in pulp magazines for years. Bogart’s portrayal of private investigator Sam Spade would become the standard for all noir leading men and helped propel his career forward after his breakout role in High Sierra, a film co-written by John Huston. Huston served as the writer/director of The Maltese Falcon and would team up with Bogart again in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Key Largo (1948).

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Our film starts like many other noirs. Spade and his partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) are hired by the beautiful Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor) to find her missing sister who left home and traveled across the country with a suspicious character. Archer takes the case and by morning Spade finds himself in the center of two murder investigations and a decades-long search for a mysterious statue. As the story unfolds each character works to outmaneuver the others either by charm, violence or the occasional poisoning, all culminating in an extended confrontation by all involved. Unlike most modern films, the film revolves not around plot but character development. Each plot reveal deals more with unraveling the intentions of the characters than it does with propelling the film forward. This development is made possible by excellent acting, strong writing, and precise direction. As we’ve already learned, Bogart’s role not only pushed him to another level of notoriety but his wry smiles, misleading outbursts and redirections will become the stuff that noir dreams are made of. Spade’s ploys allow him to keep a seat at the table with other characters who inevitably hold more cards. Lorre provides the antithesis to Bogart’s slick Spade with awkward exchanges and ill-advised shows of force. Spade’s tactics are more in line with the shrewd Kasper Gutman, played by Syndey Greenstreet in his remarkable first role which earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 14th Academy Awards. It will come as no surprise at this point that Greenstreet would join Bogart and Lorre again on the cast of Casablanca. In an interesting film history side note, Mary Astor would be honored in those same 14th Academy Awards in which Greenstreet earned a nomination. Astor won the Best Supporting Actress award that year, not for The Maltese Falcon but for her work in the Edmund Goulding directed film The Great Lie. Goulding later directed the film noir classic Nightmare Alley in 1947. Looking back we remember Astor less for her award-winning work in The Great Lie than we do for her role in The Maltese Falcon. Just as Bogart’s work defined the film noir lead, Astor’s portrayal of Brigid O’Shaughnessy shaped the image of noir’s femme fatales, balancing cunning with feigned weakness.

With over seventy years spent appreciating The Maltese Falcon and the genre it helped prop up, it is odd to think that the film was nearly never produced. Huston was not the first director to adapt Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 detective novel. He wasn’t the second either. Two other adaptations had already been made, one in 1931 under the same name along with 1936’s Satan Met a Lady. Transitioning from Warner Brothers writer to Warner Brothers director, Huston chose Hammett’s novel for his directorial debut even with those two other adaptations. Huston believed he could properly bring the novel to the screen and improve on the poorly received predecessors. With hindsight we know Huston was correct and his meticulous direction not only surpassed the earlier films but was met with resounding applause. Accolades continue to be collected for the film, not the least of which is inclusion in the IMDB Top 250 challenged and the praise of internet bloggers.

Rating: 10/10

Classic Film Scale: 7/10

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Bottomline: The prototypical film noir classic featuring early roles by now legendary actors, The Maltese Falcon will continue to be remembered for many years to come. It seems a bit unfair to rank a classic film like The Maltese Falcon on the same scale as The Hunger Games and American Hustle so I’ll use a more appropriate scale with only the all-time greats earning a 10/10.

Footnote: The six films released between 1941 and 1954 which are generally considered examples of film noirs and earned a spot on the AFI Top 100 rankings are as follows: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), A Place in the Sun (1951), The Third Man (1949), On the Waterfront (1954).

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Attack The Block (2011) Review

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Attack The Block (2011)

Directed & Written by Joe Cornish

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

Music by Basement Jaxx & Steven Price

Running time: 88 minutes

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

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My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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Summary:

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Deer Hunter (1978) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark Walker