Scarface (1983) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Melissa of Snap Crackle Watch!. Thanks for the review, Melissa! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about Scarface, IMDB rank 130 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.

Top 11 Reasons Scarface Is Still A Badass Movie

I watched Brian DePalma’s 1983 classic hit, Scarface for T9M’s IMBD challenge weeks ago. I have been racking my brain about what I could talk about or say that hasn’t already been said a million times about this movie. I am sure almost every single person in the world out there has at least heard of it, seen a scene or two or at least knows the most infamous lines. Needless to say, putting words to paper has been proving difficult. I decided to take a different turn and let’s just say this, Scarface is a great movie; I love it to death and could watch it over and over again. Some might hate it, but I am fan.

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I figured I’d compile something telling you why this movie 31 years later is still freaking awesome and fun to watch. Here are my 11 top reasons why Scarface is still a bad ass movie.

  1. Tony Montana is one sick, crazy, bad ass gangster: Enough said, but really before there was a Tony Soprano type bad ass in films, there was Tony Montana. He was twisted, crazy and hell bent on success. I find it hard to even think about another character as bad as him. The way he dressed, his swagger, he was just an all around kick ass ruthless dude. If you told me that he hung out with the “most interesting guy in the world,” I would totally believe it.

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  1. Al Pacino. This movie would not be what it is had Pacino held back. To say that he pushed the envelope is putting it nicely; he went all out, acting grandiose, narcissistic and overly confident to the point that he could make people believe he was “someone’ when he was as he put it “a nobody.” This movie sealed Pacino as one of the great actors of our generation and without him, the character of Scarface would never have become as iconic as it is today.

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  1. The film depicts events that are based on history. For one the crisis that was going on in Cuba at the time was tumultuous and Miami in the early 80’s was a hot bed for cocaine usage. Combine that with the fact that Cuban refugees did not have much to their name in terms of money, this helped to create a group of people who were willing to do anything and everything for some cash flow. The distribution and selling of drugs offered refugees an opportunity to make money and something of themselves. The movie has been criticized for being too violent and too overt, but say what you will this time in history fueled events that were aptly depicted in the film, bloodshed and all.

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  1. It’s written by Oliver Stone. It is evident that Stone was growing his penchant for movies involving drugs, sex and violence. At the time Stone himself was battling cocaine addiction and I am sure this only helped in making the movie seem more realistic. The thirst for that white gold was evident throughout the entire film. He indefinitely put his stamp on the film, he melded politics with current events of the 80’s and was able to tell a story that truly unveiled the psychosis of someone intent on pursing and staying in power. Stone said “Luxury corrupts far more ruthlessly than war,” and this underlying story is what makes it such a good film.

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  1. Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock. She was sexy, blond and cool, and has inspired numerous female characters. Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction is reminiscent of her, Jessica Chastain’s new character in A Most Violent Year looks like her spitting image and Rosalyn in American Hustle had a bit of Elvira in her. With an iconic bob and bombshell body, she wore those silky 80’s dresses with sass and sophistication. I always loved that she didn’t let Tony boss her around and she was a woman who spoke her mind.

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  1. The movie is not subtle. As I mentioned before when this movie first came out it was criticized for being too violent. People walked out of the theater, especially during that chainsaw scene. I am sure if this movie came out today, no one would bat an eye, but had DePalma not pushed the envelope the way he did, it may not have the place in history it does now. I believe that the violence shown helped to elevate this film’s cult status and I am sure inspired other directors as well, maybe even Stone!

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  1. The cinematography by John A. Alonzo. What Alonzo was able to create from an aesthetic viewpoint helps to make this an even more remarkable film. The color scheme of dark played against the bright colors of Miami created a film that paired visually perfect for the story that was playing out on the screen. What turned out in the end was a movie that looked like pop art at its finest.

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  1. The epitome of the American dream. The story of Tony Montana is proof that anything is possible in America. Only in the US, can a refugee who just stepped foot in America, with no money in his pockets, end up as one of the richest men. Tony had no usable skills, but what he had was the confidence to succeed. He worked his way from just a hired hand to the mob, all the way to becoming the main boss. But what is really at work in this film is showing the dark side of the dream.

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  1. The love story between Manny and Gina. There are not a lot of sweet moments in the film. Briefly we see Elvira and Tony fall in love, but maybe they just loved each other because they were high on coke. Tony’s BFF Manny though does fall head over heels for Gina, Tony’s little sister. That moment after Manny married Gina, he was so happy and in love. He was so ecstatic that he lost sight of reality and told Tony the truth. The corrupt love story is sad and endearing, but one that only furthered depicted the depths of Tony’s madness.

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  1. The dialogue. This movie has some of the most iconic lines in it; the most famous would definitely have to be “Say hello to my little friend.” Many of the lines in the movie have even inspired many songs out there, especially in the rap genre, just listen to Notorious B.I.G’s the “Ten Crack Commandments,” and you will hear all of Tony’s drug dealing tips. The infamous line of “First you get the money, then you get the power” has also been used by too many rappers to even list. In Bruno Mars’ new song, Uptown Funk, the first line references Scarface, “That ice cold, Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold.” The fact that a few movie lines has spawned a generation of songs and phrases, only further enforces how bad ass this movie still is today.

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  1. The Pace. The pace of the film is almost as iconic as the movie itself. It is frenetic, fast moving and it never slows down from the very beginning to the end. This makes it such a fun and entertaining movie to watch, you almost feel as if you are on this wild ride with Tony, at points you want to get off, but he won’t let you. By the time you are done, you are exasperated from the craziness, yet you want more.

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IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews – More Films Available

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The following films are now available if anyone else would like to do a guest review for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge:

- Life Is Beautiful 1997
– Into the Wild 2007
– Gone With The Wind 1939
– The Elephant Man 1980
– The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003
– The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001
– The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002
– Cool Hand Luke 1967
– The Pianist 2002
– Intouchables 2011
– All About Eve 1950
– Groundhog Day 1993

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I love the above Spirited Away image from artist Lauren Ashy at DeviantART. Check out the rest of her stuff HERE. :-)

My Top Ten Drummers In Movies

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Ever since watching Birdman with its love it or hate it drum score (I thought it fit the film well but it got annoying) then of course Whiplash with all of its drumming, I’ve been thinking that I really need to do a list of My Top Ten Drummers In Movies. So here you go! :-)

10. Miles Teller as Andrew in Whiplash

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Well, I have to include Miles Teller since Whiplash was the inspiration for this post. I’m still not a big fan of his (he’s got a smarmy look) but Whiplash was good. Maybe I’ll change my mind about him – he’s in like a million movies coming out this year.

9. Ringo Starr in Yellow Submarine

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Come on – it’s The Beatles! I had to include Ringo. I love Yellow Submarine.

8. The Wyld Stallyns “historical babe” in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

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The redhead! Not many great pictures online. I had to include Bill & Ted – I love these guys!

7. The kid (Kevin Clark as Freddy Jones) in School Of Rock

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I know that not everyone likes Jack Black but I DO and School Of Rock is one of my favorite movies in recent years. It’s great!

6. Dave Grohl in The Muppets (as Animool in Muppets tribute band “The Moopets”) & in documentary Sound City

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I also HAD to find a way to include Dave Grohl. Grohl rules! He was hilarious in The Muppets but I also had to mention & link to my Sound City review again – I really enjoyed that documentary. More than anything, I think I just love how much of a music fan Dave Grohl is himself.

5. The Ewok that plays drums on the Stormtrooper helmets

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Does this count? Yes, it does. Because it’s MY list! ;-)

4. Peter “James” Bond & Mick Shrimpton in This Is Spinal Tap (spontaneous combustion & explosion)

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I couldn’t do a list of drummers without including at least some of the Spinal Tap drummers who died tragically.

3. Animal from The Muppet Movie (well, all Muppet movies)

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Again – what list of drummers would be complete without Animal?!

2. Mary Stuart Masterson as Watts in Some Kind Of Wonderful

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I want to be as cool as Mary Stuart Masterson was in Some Kind Of Wonderful! Unfortunately, I’m more like my number one……

1. Garth Algar in Wayne’s World

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“I like to play…” *ting!*

I worship Garth Algar. He’s my soulmate. I’m basically the female equivalent of Garth. (Should I admit that??)

Forrest Gump (1994) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. She’s already reviewed The Godfather: Part I (HERE) and Part II (HERE) as well as The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE) and Big Fish (HERE) and Snatch (HERE) and Dial M For Murder (HERE). Thanks once again for all the reviews, Zoe! :-) Now let’s see what she has to say about Forrest Gump, IMDB rank 19 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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When Forrest Gump was still lingering on Miss Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 list of films that had yet to be picked, I thought it was a disgrace! I am a massive fan of Forrest Gump. As you (might) know, I watch it every year around Christmas time, and while I do not watch regular television, God forbid I sit down somewhere and Forrest is on, no matter where in the film. It means that I will be glued to my seat for the remainder of the film. I love it. Well, today I am going to talk about why I love Forrest Gump so much.

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“Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?” – Jenny Curran

SYNOPSIS: A man with a low I.Q. has accomplished great things in his life and been present during significant historic events – in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. Yet, despite all the things he has attained, his one true love eludes him. – via IMDB

I enjoy Hanks’s work, I really do. I think he is really good at what he does. His portrayal of Forrest is also one of my favourite roles of his of all time; he just nailed every aspect of Forrest. He is sweet, adorable; deeper than you would expect of him, loyal and pretty brave… or maybe that is just because stupid is as stupid does J Forrest is endearing, and had some wicked cool moments (the way he narrowed his eyes after insisting Jenny go home to Greenbow, Alabama, his overprotectiveness of Jenny, his love for his mom, his knowledge that he isn’t the brightest man in the world, his innocence, wonderful I tell you).

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The story set before you is a wonderful journey that you undertake with good old Forrest, Hanks truly making him shine, someone we can almost relate to. As fantastical as the tales are that he shares with us, he is so humble and plain and honest you cannot help but get roped into it all. Everything is possible when Forrest is around. Robin Wright’s depiction of Jenny was great, though she was not necessarily a likable character all the time, you could totally understand why Forrest would be in love with her. She was nice to him throughout, and understood he wasn’t always the sharpest tool of the shed, but loved him in her own way anyway.

I thought the friendship between Bubba and Forrest was awesome. They were so alike in so many ways, they did nothing but complement each other. Forrest Gump travels through some major conflicts in the United States, some big and iconic events, and somehow Forrest has a hand in them somewhere, or an appearance, and I enjoyed how they managed to pull it off, it was really nice. Also, the way Forrest seemed to have influenced many big things in history was exceptionally amusing for me too. Something that you also see a lot of in the film is assassinations – damn, America, you guys didn’t want a lot of people out there! I liked that it was so steeped in history, giving us markers throughout the film.

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Lieutenant Dan was also a character that grows on you, he is a bean son of a bitch, but he is pretty important to it all. There are also some truly heartrending moments throughout the film. Forrest Gump effortlessly manages to balance comedy and drama throughout the film, but when things get heavy, they get really heavy. I am just thinking of the things that Jenny in specific put Forrest through, and how that all worked out at the end. What a sweet, touching, amusing film!

Forrest Gump also had the best soundtrack, I absolutely adored it. Not to mention the fact that each and every song was used perfectly and fit for each and every scene, it stays with you. There are some tremendous songs on there, truly rounding out the flick superbly. I relish how infinitely quotable this movie is, and how it never gets old.

Wow, there is so much more to Forrest Gump than I can even mention, just know that it is a wonderful movie and a much watch. I know that there is (I simply cannot understand this) a pretty large group of haters out there over this, but even after all these years, I am still an admirer of it. That’s all I have to say about that.

Into The Woods (2014) Review

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Into The Woods (2014)

Directed by Rob Marshall

Based on Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine

Starring:
Meryl Streep
Emily Blunt
James Corden
Anna Kendrick
Chris Pine
Tracey Ullman
Christine Baranski
Johnny Depp

Running time: 124 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales of “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Cinderella”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, and “Rapunzel”, the film is a fantasy genre crossover centered on a childless couple, who set out to end a curse placed on them by a vengeful witch. Ultimately though, the characters are forced to rectify the consequences of their actions.

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My Opinion:

I hated Into The Woods. I don’t want to do one of my bitchy reviews, though, so I’ll keep this short because I don’t need some crazy person telling me I’m on drugs for hating something (this happened recently on my review of Oz The Great And Powerful – gotta love those trolls). ;-)

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I know nothing whatsoever of the Into The Woods musical. I didn’t know the story in the slightest or any of the songs before watching the movie. And, after seeing the movie, I STILL don’t know any of the songs. Why? Because they’re boring! Usually you get at least one song stuck in your head after a musical. Honestly – I couldn’t tell you how even one of them goes now & I only saw this two days ago. At least a couple of the songs in Les Misérables were catchy even if I just wanted that damn movie to end (and for Anne Hathaway’s character to just shut up and die).

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Speaking of just wanting a movie to end, I felt that way through the second half of Into The Woods. It’s just over 2 hours long but it really did feel like I’d been sitting there twice that long. For anyone who knows the story, there’s an “end” about three quarters of the way through. I was SO happy it seemed to be ending. But then it just went on. And on. And on. Then, when it finally ended, I didn’t feel like we actually got a good resolution for anyone. The story seemed to have no clear point. What was the “moral” of the whole thing?? Some people learned their lessons (sort of) and some didn’t. So many loose ends were left. I just felt like the whole story was messy, confusing and, well, quite stupid. THAT’S the best they could do with a bunch of Grimms’ fairy tales?! It’s pretty bad when Shrek kicks your sorry fairy tale ass and is far more clever (and I’m not really a fan of Shrek – I think those movies are highly overrated).

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Did I say this would be short & non-bitchy? Damn. Well, a few things weren’t bad. James Corden, Anna Kendrick & especially Emily Blunt were all pretty good & felt right for their roles. They almost made up for how much Johnny Depp & Chris Pine sucked, I suppose. Meryl Streep was fine, but, come on – an Oscar nomination for THAT? What a joke. (I’m writing this before the Oscars – hopefully she didn’t win). I like her, though – it’s just funny how the Academy feels the need to nominate her every year for whatever she happened to be in. God I hated that Little Red Riding Hood bitch! And Jack (of Beanstalk fame) felt about as pointless as Little Red Riding Hood’s character. The Big Bad Wolf pedophile thing went a little too far over the line and, seriously – who were we meant to actually care about in this movie as the characters are all pretty hateful? I guess the baker & his wife, which makes the ending even more ridiculous. Shit – this was meant to be the paragraph where I wasn’t bitchy. I suppose the costumes were nice? What we could see of them, at least, as it’s so dark in those stupid woods.

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Summary:

Unlike Into The Woods, I know it’s time to finish as I’m just going on & on in the same way the film did. I didn’t go into this with high or low expectations so it can’t be blamed on that and I’m also not anti-musical as there are plenty that I do like. However, when it’s a musical I do expect at least a couple good songs that I’ll be humming afterwards. Being a movie fan first, though, I’d have at least liked a story & characters that I cared about since the songs were so bland. I wasn’t expecting to not like either element of Into The Woods.

My Rating: 4.5/10

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My Oscars Picks For The 87th Annual Academy Awards

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I wasn’t going to bother doing a post this year but then it seemed kind of silly to skip a year. Once upon a time, I was VERY into the Oscars & would try to watch as many of the nominees as I could before the big ceremony. Meh… I’ve lost interest in doing that the past several years (and even more so after starting my blog, which is odd – you’d think I’d try to watch them even more now). I just think the Academy is getting more & more out of touch with what’s *actually* worthy of winning awards. So… They nominate Meryl Streep for Into The Woods but totally ignore the fabulous performance from Essie Davis in The Babadook? They snub the truly best animated film of the year for best animated feature yet nominate the song?! (The Lego Movie, obviously). Then there are the usual Best Picture nominees which are very rarely high on my own personal year-end lists of my favorite movies. I liked Boyhood unlike a lot of people but can understand why many didn’t. I’d have to say Whiplash is my favorite of the nominees I’ve seen but it’s not an all-time “Best Picture-worthy” classic.

Anyway – here are my picks for what I WANT to win and what I think WILL win in each of the Oscars categories tonight. This is the least I’ve EVER paid attention to Oscars predictions & other awards shows and I’ve watched very little of what’s been nominated so I truly have no clue what will win this year. But, like I said – it seemed silly to skip doing a post about it as, no matter how much I get annoyed by the Academy’s choices, I’ll still ALWAYS watch the Oscars. I love movies, I love (and hate) the actors, and the tiny bit of me that’s girly likes seeing the dresses. :-)

I’ll include links to the nominees I’ve actually reviewed (the first time each is listed):

Best Picture:
American Sniper
Birdman
**Boyhood – WILL
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
*Whiplash – WANT

Best Director:
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
**Richard Linklater, Boyhood – WANT & WILL
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Actor:
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
**Michael Keaton, Birdman – WANT & WILL
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress:
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
**Julianne Moore, Still Alice – WILL
*Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl – WANT
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor:
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
**J.K. Simmons, Whiplash – WANT & WILL

Best Supporting Actress:
**Patricia Arquette, Boyhood – WANT & WILL
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods (I’ve seen this – review posting tomorrow)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
*Damien Chazelle, Whiplash – WANT
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
**Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything – WILL
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice

Best Original Screenplay:
Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
**Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo, Birdman – WILL
*Richard Linklater, Boyhood – WANT

Best Animated Feature:
**Big Hero 6 – WANT & WILL
The Boxtrolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (badly want to see this for my Studio Ghibli project)

Best Documentary Feature:
**CITIZENFOUR – WANT & WILL (no idea – I’ve seen none of these)
Last Days In Vietnam
Virunga
Finding Vivian Maier
The Salt of the Earth

Best Original Song:
**”Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie – WANT!!! & WILL
“Glory,” Selma
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights

Best Film Editing:
American Sniper
**Boyhood – WILL
The Imitation Game
*Whiplash – WANT
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Cinematography:
*Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman – WANT
Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal, Ida
**Dick Pope, Mr. Turner – WILL
Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Costume Design:
Colleen Atwood, Into The Woods
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner
**Anna B. Sheppard, Maleficent – WANT & WILL
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice

Best Production Design:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
**Interstellar – WANT (I guess. puke.) & WILL
Into The Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Animated Short:
The Bigger Picture
**The Dam Keeper – WILL (no clue – I’m choosing by title)
*Feast – WANT
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live Action Short:
Aya
**Boogaloo and Graham – WANT & WILL (no clue – Boogaloo is just an awesome word)
The Phone Call
Butter Lamp
Parvaneh

Best Documentary Short:
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Joanna
Our Curse
**The Reaper (La Parka) – WANT & WILL (no clue again – I just like Blue Oyster Cult)
White Earth

Best Sound Editing:
American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
**Interstellar – WILL
*Birdman – WANT (I guess)
Unbroken

Best Sound Mixing:
American Sniper
Birdman
**Interstellar – WILL
Unbroken
*Whiplash – WANT

Best Visual Effects:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
*Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – WANT
Guardians of the Galaxy
**Interstellar – WILL
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Foreign Language Film:
**Ida (Poland) – WILL
*Leviathan (Russia) – WANT (no clue – seen none of these)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
**Foxcatcher – WILL
The Grand Budapest Hotel
*Guardians of the Galaxy – WANT

Best Original Score:
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
**Hans Zimmer, Interstellar – WlLL & WANT (I guess – can’t remember the score)
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner

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**Stay tuned for my review of Into The Woods tomorrow. SPOILER: I wasn’t a fan…

Enjoy the Oscars, everyone! :-)

Illustrated Zodiac Nightmares

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Zodiac Nightmares! I like that… Sounds like a band name. Know what band name I always loved? Pearl Jam! Until I found out that it was totally filthy. Anyway, I saw these awesome illustrations by artist Damon Hellandbrand a month ago but never thought to share them. I love these! Remind me a little of H.R. Giger. Anyway, he’s done these “reinterpretations of the signs of the zodiac“. My favorites are these two (Libra & Gemini):

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You can see the rest HERE and on Damon Hellandbrand’s own site HERE. :-)

My Top Ten Black Sabbath Songs

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Yep, I have no movie reviews ready to post today so it’s time for a super lazy Top Ten List! Look, Seth – SABBATH! :-)

Counting down to my number one favorite, here are My Top Ten Black Sabbath Songs:

10. TIE: Planet Caravan & A National Acrobat
9. N.I.B.
8. Electric Funeral
7. Iron Man
6. Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
5. Paranoid
4. Fairies Wear Boots
3. War Pigs
2. Spiral Architect
1. Black Sabbath

Number one & two are SO close… Think it depends on my mood. Yeah – I mainly just know the “Greatest Hits”. This was an easy post – I should do these more often!

Actually, I just realized that I can make this a movie-related post as well. One of the many movies I watched in 2014 but didn’t get around to reviewing was Drew: The Man Behind The Poster. I’ll still review that as I found it fascinating and I LOVE Drew Struzan’s movie posters. However, as he’s so well known for his famous movie posters, I had NO idea before watching the documentary that he’d also done one of my favorite album covers (and back cover) for one of my favorite bands! Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath:

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How did I not know that?? Anyway – here’s the song Black Sabbath. I love that it sounds like what you’d hear on the way to Hell. It’s perfect for the walk to work. :-)

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014) Review

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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (2014)

Directed by Shawn Levy

Starring:
Ben Stiller
Robin Williams
Owen Wilson
Steve Coogan
Dan Stevens
Ben Kingsley
Rebel Wilson

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
The things in a museum come to life every night. For the third time. But in London this time!

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My Opinion:

Well, I had nothing ready to post for today so here’s a quickie! I saw this just after Christmas but never got around to reviewing it. What can I say? I actually quite like these Night At The Museum movies. As far as “family” movies go, anyway, I think they’re far more enjoyable than some of the other terrible “family” films these days that maybe only one member of the family actually enjoys. I still say they don’t make good non-animated movies for the whole family like they used to (such as Big. I miss things like Big!) but the Night At The Museum movies are a step in the right direction.

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Secret Of The Tomb is, of course, not as good as the first film but is at least better than the second one. I thought the second film was the weakest of the trilogy & went overboard on making so many exhibits come to life that the movie ended up a bit of a mess. It also forgot to focus on the main characters that we liked so much from the first movie so, in Secret Of The Tomb, they don’t make the same mistake again & they give us lots of time with our main favorites while adding only a few interesting new ones.

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I’m really not a fan of Ben Stiller at ALL but I don’t mind him in this series. There’s a “Neanderthal” version of him in this one which I found pretty stupid but I’m sure he was a hit with the kids who saw this. Owen Wilson & Steve Coogan once again make a fun duo and that damn monkey is just as lovable/hateful as always. Rebel Wilson does a great job playing “Rebel Wilson as a security guard” (she’s a love her or hate her – I’m pretty sure I don’t love her) and Dan Stevens from that movie The Guest that everyone goes on about plays the biggest new addition, Sir Lancelot. We even get to briefly see Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cobbs & Mickey Rooney once again – love those guys! It was bittersweet seeing Rooney again but it just plain heartbreaking seeing Robin Williams, whose character I’ve always felt is the best thing about the Night At The Museum films. It was hard to not get teary-eyed over his final line in the film. SPOILER WARNING – this was the line:
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His final line, spoken to Ben Stiller, is: “Smile, my boy. It’s sunrise.” Which, if you’ve seen the movies, you know that means day has come & the exhibits will no longer be “alive” so he goes back to being a wax figure after speaking this line. So perfect but so sad.

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Summary:

There’s not much else I can say about Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb other than that it’s an enjoyable film for the whole family. Some of the humor is a little silly but that’s to be expected from a family film – I still had plenty of fun watching it as an adult. Possibly the best thing about these movies, however, is that I think they’ve made plenty of kids interested in visiting museums & learning more about history. What did I do about a week after seeing this? I of course ended up making a trip into London to visit The British Museum where we were told we weren’t the first ones to ask if they actually had the big nine-headed snake thing from the movie (they don’t). However, they DO have the cute little dude in my below photo (Garuda). :-)

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Here’s a good link to check out if you plan on watching this movie then taking your kids to The British Museum: A Night At The Museum – Fact Vs Fiction

Braveheart (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE and Platoon HERE and A Beautiful Mind HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! :-) Now let’s hear his thoughts on Braveheart, IMDB rank 83 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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“It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom.”

In 1280,  King Edward “Longshanks” (Patrick McGoohan) of England claims the vacant Scottish throne for himself following the death of the Scottish king.  He kills a lot of the Scottish nobility, luring them under the guise of peace.  In the ensuing battles, Malcolm Wallace, a commoner, and his oldest son John are also killed.  William Wallace (Gibson), Malcolm’s other son, goes away to Italy with his Uncle Argyle Wallace (Brian Cox).  Returning 20 years later, he meets back up with childhood friend Hamish (Brendan Gleeson) and Murron MacClannough (Catherine McCormack), a girl he has always been in love with.

Longshanks had issued a decree of “Prima Nocte” where English noblemen with land rights in Scotland can have sex with a new bride on her wedding night.  Wallace and Murron marry in secret to avoid this.  Some time later, Murron attacks an English soldier who tries to rape her, leading the local magistrate to tie her up and slit her throat.

Wrong move dude.

An enraged Wallace kills the local garrison, magistrate included, and declares that the Scottish people will no longer be ruled by the English.  His growing army takes the fight to the English, while Robert the Bruce (Angus MacFayden) acts as a go between for Wallace with the feuding Scottish nobles.

Historical inaccuracies aside, this is a pretty entertaining movie that offers a little bit for everyone.  It is primarily an epic, but it mixes in drama, action, comedy and romance and kept me engaged throughout the 177 minutes of running time.  I’ve seen this film plenty of times, and though it’s one I can quote extensively, I tried to come into it with a clean slate.

The countryside shots are magnificent, and James Horner write a dazzling soundtrack that complements the film’s cinematography.  The battle sequences were impressive given the scope and scale involved with each one.  Though mildly gory by my standards, this one had just enough blood and guts to be believable.  The only thing about the battle sequences for me was how long they lasted.  I feel like they could have been shortened up a bit while still getting the same message and point across.

Given the scope and massive undertaking Braveheart was, it’s not all that surprising that the next time Gibson directed a movie was nine years later with Passion of the Christ.

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“What will you do with that freedom?”

In addition to an impressive directing job, Mel Gibson’s acting was well done.  He balances the conflict with the Scottish nobles, the English, and his own internal driving force following the murder of his beloved Murron.  His character is macho, but also intelligent, sensible, and at times humorous.  It’s hard for me to criticize his performance.  I think the fact that he directed the film helped enhance his performance on-screen.

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“He fights for something that I never had.”

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“The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots.”

Both Angus MacFayden and Patrick McGoohan did great jobs as Robert the Bruce and King Edward I.  McGoohan’s villain is relentless, conniving, and to the point.  It was interesting to see how his character changed as time went by health-wise.  He’s a guy you just want to hate.

Bruce’s character is almost more interesting as a character study than anyone else in Braveheart.  The internal struggle as he battles between what’s expected of him as a Scottish nobleman contrasted with what he believes is right is something I’ve always found intriguing.  Some of the best scenes of the film, in my opinion, take place with him talking with his father.

Stephen (David O’Hara) and Hamish are great supporting characters.  Though Stephen is mostly there for comic relief, he has a few moments of genuine and honest concern with some of the decisions William made.  It was also interesting in seeing Hamish as he fought alongside his dad, Campbell (James Cosmo), and how their relationship grew through the film.

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“Why do you help me?”
“Because of the way you are looking at me now.”

One thing that sets this movie apart from your run-of-the-mill epic is the underlying romantic influence on Wallace and his relationship with Murron and Princess Isabelle (Sophie Marceau).  William is the most vulnerable and realistic when he’s with each woman.  Though the romantic development at times seemed cliché, here it worked well and integrated into the story.

When one thinks of Braveheart: “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take OUR FREEDOM!” and “Every man dies, not every man really lives.” comes to mind.  It’s more than just the battles and bloodshed.  A king trying to hold on to power, a noble son struggling with what’s most important, and a reluctant warrior carrying the burdens of a nation while coping with the loss of virtually everyone close to him all flow together to create an entertaining film worthy of the Best Picture Academy Award.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Enemy (2013) Review

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Enemy (2013) Review

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on The Double by José Saramago

Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Mélanie Laurent
Sarah Gadon
Isabella Rossellini

Running time: 90 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie.

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My Opinion:

I’d been wanting to see Enemy for ages & it appeared that it was going to be another one of these movies that would never come out in the UK for some reason. Luckily, it got a limited cinema release then was finally just released on DVD here. Was Enemy worth the wait? Hmm…

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I DO like movies that make you think. However, I’m old. And busy. I don’t have time these days to have to “research” something after watching it the way I used to read Lostpedia after every episode of Lost. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So Enemy ended & I went “WTF?” and immediately went online for an explanation because I’m too old & tired to think these days.

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There are a few different theories about the film but they’re all basically the same and do actually make sense if you think about it & perhaps watch the movie again. The problem with this movie is that it doesn’t really hold your attention on the first watch so the thought of re-watching it in order to piece everything together isn’t really all that appealing. I did something I never do and re-watched the very beginning of the movie once I’d finished it as there’s an important symbolic scene at the start that will possibly help you to understand what you’ve just watched. If you care enough to understand. I’m pretty sure most people won’t care, though, which is unfortunate as it’s a good story.

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I can’t help but compare Enemy to The Prestige in my mind, which is a movie I love. Both films give you a lot to think about but, with The Prestige, I wanted to think about it & discuss it afterwards. The Prestige was exciting from start to finish on the first watch & I was more than happy to watch it again. Enemy is so SLOW. I knew I should be paying attention but my mind kept wandering. Both movies are very atmospheric but it feels like Enemy is trying too hard to be that way through the use of muted colors & a suspenseful, almost Hitchcockian score. Enemy is like a weird sort of cross between Hitchcock’s Vertigo and some of David Cronenberg’s more serious dramas such as Crash or A History Of Violence. Oh, and I suppose a bit of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive as well as far as the “mindfuck” plot (Enemy is far less confusing than Mulholland Drive, though). Hmm – I wonder if Isabella Rossellini was chosen to be in Enemy because of her role in Blue Velvet? Anyway, I’m a big fan of both Hitchcock & Cronenberg (not Lynch so much) so I appreciate the effort on the director’s part to try to make Enemy an “artistic” film. Unfortunately, it feels like more effort was put into being artistic than into making the movie an enjoyable watch and it ended up feeling much longer than its 90 minute running time. I actually think it may have been a better experience overall if the director had gone more “Cronenberg WEIRD” and made Enemy a little more freaky instead of artsy & borderline boring…

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Hey, is that the Saul Bass Vertigo poster in the background…?! I just spotted that! I feel smart now for comparing this movie to Vertigo! ;-)

Summary:

I think I’ve done it again… I made it sound like I kind of hated a movie when I actually thought it was okay. Considering that I like the movies that it’s trying to be like (those directed by Cronenberg, Hitchcock, a little bit of Lynch), it’s my type of movie and I’ll always appreciate something like Enemy more than most braindead blockbusters that you forget about two months after watching them. I’ve written this review very soon after watching the movie since I’m trying to not fall as behind on reviews as I did last year but it means that I’m still kind of figuring out how I feel about it. I think I’m a little bit disappointed as the potential was there for Enemy to be great but, when compared to similar films that came before it, it really pales in comparison. It could have gone even more artsy or more weird (my vote is for weird) but instead it actually played it fairly safe, making it less memorable than the films from Hitchcock, Cronenberg & Lynch.

My Rating: 7/10

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IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews – Deadline Reminder

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Hi all! Thanks to everyone who replied when I set the deadline of April 1st (2015) for the remainder of the IMDB guest reviews. I’ve not heard from the below people so, if you’re one of those who chose these films, let me know if you still want to do these reviews otherwise I’ll put the movies back on the “Available” list on March 1st. I won’t be mad if you want to give up your movies – I’ve also been too busy to participate in various blogathons lately. :-(

(Don’t worry about it if you’ve picked a movie & don’t see yours on this list – get me the reviews whenever you have time as we talk regularly anyway) :-)

Dr Strangelove
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

The Lord Of The Rings (entire trilogy)

Cool Hand Luke

The Pianist
Intouchables

The Wrestler

2001: A Space Odyssey

All About Eve

Groundhog Day

The below movies have not yet been chosen (or have been added back onto the “available” list) – let me know if you’re interested in doing one of these:

- Life Is Beautiful 1997
– Into the Wild 2007
– Gone With The Wind 1939
– The Elephant Man 1980
– The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003
– The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001
– The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002
– Cool Hand Luke 1967
– The Pianist 2002
– Intouchables 2011
– All About Eve 1950
– Groundhog Day 1993

Here’s another picture of Michael Fassbender in an Iron Maiden t-shirt. We’re clearly soulmates.

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Short Term 12 (2013) Review

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Short Term 12 (2013)

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Starring:
Brie Larson
John Gallagher, Jr.
Kaitlyn Dever
Rami Malek
Keith Stanfield
Kevin Hernandez
Melora Walters
Stephanie Beatriz
Lydia Du Veaux
Alex Calloway
Frantz Turner
Diana-Maria Riva

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend.

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My Opinion:

I remember this movie had a lot of positive buzz when it was out & I’ve been meaning to watch it for a long time, especially after I then saw Brie Larson in a couple other movies & thought she was pretty fantastic. I thought she was the actual highlight of the somewhat mediocre 21 Jump Street & even of that weird Don Jon movie (which is pretty impressive as she only had one line). Oh, and she was good in The Spectacular Now (probably should have been the lead instead of Shailene Woodley).

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Well, Larson is great in Short Term 12. I’m surprised she hasn’t yet gotten the sort of attention that Jennifer Lawrence did for Winter’s Bone. I mean, I think she did get a bunch of awards for it but she’s still not as famous as Lawrence. Hopefully she’ll get the right sort of role that gets her more recognition. And this might sound weird but, hey – I’m a girl & I like seeing girls who look like regular people in movies for a change! She’s cute, obviously, but not some freakishly gorgeous supermodel.

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In Short Term 12, Larson plays a 20-something who works with a group of other young adults in a home for troubled teens. It’s a fairly heavy film but the characters are pretty well developed and you really do care about what will happen to each of them. You get to know several of the teens at the home but they mainly focus on the stories of two of them while we slowly learn more about Larson’s character’s background & how it affects her job and her life with her boyfriend, who also works at the group home. Her boyfriend is sweet & funny and they have what appears to be a great relationship. I’ve always said that I find it very hard to like a movie if I hate all the characters and Short Term 12 is the exact opposite of this. Even those who are in the home and are getting in fights, swearing & spitting at staff, etc, all have their reasons & just need people to be there for them. I liked everyone in this and hoped for a happy resolution for all of them. It’s not all “sad drama”, though – the boyfriend has a nice sense of humor & there are some heartwarming scenes. I was asked what other movies this is like and I couldn’t really think of one. Maybe something like Stand And Deliver and, hell, maybe even Dangerous Minds? But more “indie” and with a younger feel to it than those as everyone is in their early-20s or their teens in Short Term 12. I do think, if I’d seen this as a teenager, I’d have loved it & watched it over & over like I did with Stand By Me every day after school when I was 13.

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Summary:

Great performances & characters make Short Term 12 a fulfilling movie experience. It’s a bit heavy & a little sad but manages to be uplifting as well and gives us characters we care about. It doesn’t feel contrived & the people in it feel “real”. The director wrote this after working in a similar home just like Larson’s character, which is probably why the movie feels so genuine. Yeah, I thought this one was pretty good.

My Rating: 8/10

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What A Miyazaki Theme Park Might Look Like

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An artist named Takumi has created his vision of what ‘Tokyo Ghibli Land’ might look like. I’m already desperate to visit Tokyo someday but if this was a reality I’d be booking the flights right now! I especially love the Laputa: Castle In The Sky bit with the Laputan robots at the entrance and of course the My Neighbor Totoro “catbus” monorail. You can see the above image in more detail HERE. Love it!

I’ve not abandoned my Studio Ghibli Project (I was never going to be able to do it in just one month…). I’ll try to review the remaining films I’ve seen soon (Spirited Away, Grave Of The Fireflies & From Up On Poppy Hill) then I’ll work on watching the rest throughout the year. I’ve created a page HERE with links to all my Studio Ghibli reviews so far. :-)

The Imitation Game (2014) Review

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The Imitation Game (2014)

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Starring:
Benedict Cumberbatch
Keira Knightley
Matthew Goode
Rory Kinnear
Charles Dance
Mark Strong

Running time: 114 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Imitation Game is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the British cryptanalyst Alan Turing, who helped solve the Enigma code during the Second World War and was later prosecuted for his homosexuality.

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My Opinion:

Okay, then – I’ve watched another Oscar nominee for Best Picture. I’ll say right away that these “historical drama” types of films aren’t really my thing. But, unlike American Sniper or The Grand Budapest Hotel (screw those!), I still had an interest in watching this one. I knew next to nothing about Alan Turing or his code-breaking or WWII (seriously – I hate history) before watching this film. Actually, I still don’t know much about WWII… Vietnam movies are usually better. Better soundtracks, too.

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Anyway! I had no idea that Alan Turing really received no recognition for his accomplishments in helping to win WWII & that everything had been kept a secret for so many years afterwards. I knew about his homosexuality & horrible punishment but didn’t realize JUST how appallingly he was treated. So that’s the thanks he got after all he did?! Seriously – he should have told everyone to go f*#k themselves! Well, I guess it’s good he didn’t.

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This movie is good but I don’t think it’s great. I can’t see it winning Best Picture. I’d heard that they really glossed over the homosexuality & chemical castration thing but that’s not true at all – they did touch on it plenty. In a way, though, I find that the more interesting story so would have liked even more exploration of that. However, I understand why the main focus was more on the breaking of the Enigma code and I suppose that IS really interesting but I can barely even do a simple crossword puzzle or add two numbers together without a calculator so a lot of that was lost on me. I found the story of Alan Turing himself more fascinating than the machine he created and I don’t think the movie quite did enough to show us his life outside of the time he spent trying to break the Enigma code, other than showing us a little bit of one important relationship early in his life. I don’t know – maybe not a lot is known? Like I said, I don’t really know anything about him beyond what I just saw in this film.

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As for the performances, Benedict Cumberbatch is very good. I think he does a good job making a very awkward and almost unlikable character sympathetic, especially in the later parts of the film. I think there’s too much competition in the Best Actor category this year so it’s unlikely he’ll win but it’s a well deserved nomination. Keira Knightley is good, I guess, at once again being Keira Knightley. Yeah, I don’t like her or her style of acting so I’m probably being unfair. She’s just always “Keira Knightley” to me in every role she’s in. She won’t win an Oscar for this but she’s fine playing the “pretty smart girl”. Oh! Tywin Lannister is in this! And the creepy uncle from Stoker. And the guy who was quite good in Kingsman: The Secret Service & reminds me of Stanley Tucci. Oh yeah – and a guy from the first episode of Black Mirror that has scarred me for life to the point that I’d really rather never see the guy in anything ever again! They’re all decent enough but Cumberbatch is by far the best thing about the movie.

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Summary:

The Imitation Game tells two fascinating stories: the solving of the Enigma code during WWII as well as the persecution of homosexuals in England’s history. It doesn’t really get as in-depth with either of these stories as it could, though, so it’s probably worth reading about Alan Turing if you want to know more than what you’ll find out from this movie. I don’t feel like I know that much more than I did before watching this but it’s a great story that needed to be told many years ago and, from a film fan’s perspective, it’s worth watching for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance.

My Rating: 7/10

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Reservoir Dogs (1992) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Rob of MovieRob. He also reviewed Saving Private Ryan and The Manchurian Candidate and Pulp Fiction and Strangers On A Train. Thanks for all the reviews, Rob! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Reservoir Dogs, IMDB rank 70 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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Reservoir Dogs (1992) is the movie that made me fall in love with Quentin Tarantino’s film making style.

Most people didn’t hear about him until he made Pulp Fiction, but I somehow came across this movie when it was released on video in 1993.

Because it’s a low budget movie, Tarantino decided to save money on filming the actual heist portrayed in the movie, but rather used other moviemaking techniques to make us believe that we saw what happened during the heist despite having the movie begin during the aftermath.

The way he did this was to create a perfect mix of conversational dialogue and storytelling by the characters that we get such a complete picture in our minds of the event that creates the movie’s story without seeing one shot (from a camera or bullet) within the store.

On his script alone, Tarantino was able to gather such a talented cast who all agree to low salaries to be a part of this near-masterpiece.

Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen and Tarantino himself are all perfect in their roles and we get drawn in more and more as the movie moves along.
Being a fan of obscure movies let Tarantino “borrow” different elements from so many movies in order to create this film.

Among them, there are definitely blatant references to The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974) and The Killing (1956)

This movie also has changed the way anyone will ever think of the song Stuck in the Middle With You

For a debut film, it quite amazing how great a movie Tarantino was able to construct.

Most people still think that Pulp Fiction is his best film, but this movie on a small budget is done so perfectly in a simple fashion that in my eyes, even the great Pulp Fiction can’t hold a candle to this excellent heist movie.

10/10

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) Review

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn

Based on The Secret Service by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons

Starring:
Colin Firth
Samuel L Jackson
Mark Strong
Taron Egerton
Michael Caine
Sofia Boutella
Sophie Cookson
Mark Hamill

Running time: 129 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

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My Opinion:

I’ve gone to a bunch of Oscar nominated movies so far this year (Birdman, Foxcatcher, Whiplash…). I could have gone to The Theory Of Everything yesterday but decided I needed a break from all that worthiness and went to Kingsman: The Secret Service instead. It certainly doesn’t take itself seriously and was a lot more fun than all those Oscar nominated ones. I’d rank Whiplash above Kingsman but I certainly enjoyed it more than than Foxcatcher or Birdman. Yes! I rank everything I watch HERE. Doesn’t everyone do that?! ;-)

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Kingsman is from director/writer team Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman. They also gave us the delightful Stardust (did I just use the word “delightful”?), Layer Cake & X-Men: First Class. Oh yeah, and Kick-Ass. I freaking hate Kick-Ass! So they’ve once again adapted a comic book by Mark Millar. I won’t even begin to pretend I know anything about The Secret Service comic book so this review is based only on the movie. Anyway – Vaughn & Goldman’s movies are quite varied. Which one is Kingsman the most similar to? You all probably know by now that it’s Kick-Ass crossed with James Bond (I also hate James Bond!). Yet… It works. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the excessive violence. And, yes, this thing is violent! Wow. I’m a wuss but the gore was more “comedic” than gross and some of the deaths were fantastic (especially a finale toward the end – brilliant). Oh, Vaughn is also married to Claudia Schiffer. Schwing! She’s a babe. How did he manage that??

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They’ve done a fantastic job casting this movie. I’ve never been a huge fan of Colin Firth but he’s PERFECT in this – I loved him. Michael Caine is a pretty obvious choice for his role but it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing his character. Samuel L Jackson is his usual over-the-top self but, hey, that’s what we all love about him! I also really liked newcomer Taron Egerton as the young council estate troublemaker Colin Firth takes under his wing – I can see him being in many more films after this one. It’s also good having two decent female characters – Sophie Cookson as one of the “kingsman” recruits and Sofia Boutella as the kick ass super villain sidekick with deadly blades for lower legs. Oh! And a great cameo from Mark Hamill, who was apparently named in the comic book so I’m sure fans of the comic book liked seeing him in this.

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This movie is obviously a spoof on the James Bond/spy thriller movie but it’s a great, violently action-packed spy thriller itself with a wonderful sense of humor that doesn’t stoop to an Austin Powers level of stupid comedy (hmm – that’s the second Mike Myers reference in this review). The main villain and evil plot are ridiculously fun and I loved the training of the young new recruits in order to hire the next “kingsman”. They even almost managed to make this movie non-sexist, unlike the Bond films. That is, until the “end”. Literally. (You’ll get what I mean, Mike). ;-)

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Summary:

I thought Kingsman: The Secret Service was bloody good fun. Fans of Kick-Ass and/or James Bond will love it as will, apparently, people like me who hate both of those! Just be warned that it may be more violent than you’re expecting so maybe don’t take your grandparents to it. It’s a good “buddy” flick or date movie with a girl who’s happy to watch a fun & violent action movie (I think there are more of us girls like this than you realize). Seriously – give me THIS Colin Firth over the one in those obnoxious Bridget Jones movies any day. And, yes – a guy in a tailored suit is sexy.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**Scene After Credits?: Why do people rush out the SECOND the credits roll?? Anyway, if you do that you’ll miss the extra scene that’s only about ten seconds or so into the credits so it’s worth staying for that. You don’t have to stay until the very end, though, if you really have to pee. :-)

Mass Hysteria! – Art Show About Crowds In Movies

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I love all the stuff artist Truck Torrence has done (you can view his site & illustrations here: 100% Soft).

He has an art show opening today in Los Angeles called Mass Hysteria! which is all about crowds in various favorite pop culture movies & TV shows. I’m not sure which one is my favorite but the Kill Bill one is possibly the most adorable. :-) He also mentions having done ones for Big Trouble In Little China & The Warriors – I’d love to see the Warriors one!

You can see a few more of the pieces & find details of the art show HERE.

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Fido (2006) Review

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Fido (2006) Review

Directed by Andrew Currie

Starring:
Carrie-Anne Moss
Billy Connolly
Dylan Baker
Kesun Ray
Henry Czerny
Tim Blake Nelson

Running time: 91 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Fido is a 2006 Canadian zombie comedy film that takes place in a 1950s-esque alternate universe where radiation from space has turned the dead into zombies. In order to continue living normal lives, communities are fenced with the help of a governing corporation named Zomcon. Zomcon provides collars with accompanying remote controls to control the zombies’ hunger for flesh so as to use them as slaves or servants.

A bullied boy named Timmy befriends the zombie his mother has bought to be their household servant & names him ‘Fido’.

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My Opinion:

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for years. I’m a big fan of zombie movies & enjoy a good zombie comedy. I’ve reviewed quite a few zomcoms on this blog & my favorite by far was The Return Of The Living Dead. Shaun Of The Dead is of course a classic now, Dead Snow was pretty fun, I kind of totally love Warm Bodies for some reason, and Life After Beth was a fairly big disappointment. Where does Fido rank? Well, I certainly liked it more than Life After Beth but it’s a pretty strange film. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I appreciate its uniqueness.

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I loved that they set this in what appears to be the 1950s. Has there been another zombie movie set in this time period? It’s a great idea. It’s a cool contrast seeing stereotypical 1950’s perfect housewives using flesh-eating zombies as servants & knowing that those zombies will rip them apart if their remote-controlled domestication collars are removed. It’s like watching an episode of Leave It To Beaver with zombies. Actually, it reminded me a lot of The Stepford Wives (had that been a comedy – I’m not talking about that shitty remake that was supposedly a comedy but sucked and wasn’t funny).

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Fido‘s concept is very clever and I understand that it’s satire but I’m not sure that it ever really lives up to its potential or makes its point. If it has a point? It’s not as obvious as the satire in a straightforward zombie film such as Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead but I suppose it’s maybe making a statement on corporations controlling the living just as the living control the undead with special collars? I don’t know. And although it’s a fun decade to explore as it’s so extremely different from nowadays, the 50’s satire thing has been done before and done better in plenty of other films. Still, it’s a fun movie and I really liked the setting.

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Summary:

There’s not much else I can really say about Fido. I was hoping to like it more than I did as I’ve wanted to see it for ages but, overall, something about it didn’t really work for me. I loved the concept & the setting and thought the comedy worked fairly well. However, I didn’t think the characters were very strong and I lost interest a few times. I was hoping for more exploration of the main characters & their relationships with Billy Connolly’s Fido. Fido himself was disappointing as I suppose I was expecting a more loveable “Bub” type of zombie as in Day Of The Dead. In a way, I think it would have been better if they’d focused a little more on the zombies & their background stories. It’s a clever film but it’s another film that I felt like I “appreciated” more than actually enjoyed.

My Rating: 6/10

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Autómata (2014) Review

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Autómata (2014) Review

Directed by Gabe Ibáñez

Starring:
Antonio Banderas
Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
Dylan McDermott
Robert Forster
Tim McInnerny
Melanie Griffith

Running time: 110 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Jacq Vaucan is an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation who investigates cases of robots violating their primary protocols against altering themselves. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

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My Opinion:

So I’m on a bit of an “artificial intelligence” movie kick lately having just watched Ex Machina & Electroma. Like I said in those reviews, sci-fi is my favorite genre & I’m fascinated by artificial intelligence and the singularity occurring and Skynet killing us all and blah blah blah. So, anyway, as it’s a concept that appeals to me I really wanted to see Autómata despite negative reviews. It certainly has its flaws but it’s not the worst sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of the genre.

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First of all, I’ll say you need to go into this one expecting a B movie. I suppose that’ll make some of you instantly uninterested but, well, it’s not something that bothers me as long as there’s something I appreciate about the film. I apologize to my regulars who already know of my love for Hardware but I have to mention it here (as both are low budget sci-fi & especially as Dylan McDermott is in both films – it was so weird seeing him in Autómata!). No, Autómata is no Hardware (Hardware is much better) but it’ll get the same level of people loving it or hating it, I think. Hardware was made on a very low budget (and it’s obvious) but it has such a great feel & characters & simple but fun story. Autómata is also low budget but it looks much prettier while the acting & script feel low budget. Antonio Banderas is fine but the rest of the acting is a little dodgy. I think it also tries too hard to be intelligent but doesn’t ever get very deep so ends up feeling a little pointless. Hardware says “fuck it” and just entertains you with a killer robot, which makes it a far more enjoyable movie than Autómata.

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So what did I like about Autómata? The story was a bit of a mess & the acting was iffy but I still liked the concept of “robots violating their primary protocols against altering themselves”. Also, the look of the robots was quite effective for the budget & the filmmakers managed to create a decent looking dystopian world. And… You know what? It’s late & I really want to watch Game Of Thrones. Only four more episodes & then I’ll be all caught up so I can watch the new ones when they start! Woohoo! So, anyway, I liked Autómata okay but it’s a genre I really go for so I’m likely to enjoy it more than some would. It’s NOT a “good” film but, hey – at least they tried! I’ve seen better & I’ve seen far worse. Maybe give it a watch if you love sci-fi (but first watch Ex Machina, Electroma & HARDWARE). ;-)

My Rating: 6/10

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Memento (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Damien of Flashback/Backslide. He also reviewed Sin City here. Thanks for the reviews, Damien! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Memento, IMDB rank 33 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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There’s an old thinking in American college football that a coach’s second or third year with a program will be their breakout year. In the first year the coach learns how to be a head coach and gets the major kinks out of their system. Many years into the position they can get bogged down by politics, conflicting lessons learned over overt time and often stuttering momentum that sends recruits to other programs. But in those early years the savvy and ambition of a young coach shines through without the growing pains of a newcomer or struggles of embattled veterans. A similar argument could be made in film directing. Directors learn the ropes with that first feature length film credit and discover their style before putting it to full use in their breakout second film. Tarantino with Pulp Fiction, Aranofsky with Requiem for a Dream and Christopher Nolan with Memento all fit this pattern with sophomore films that skyrocketed them to fame. With Memento, Nolan exercises the cinematic style and themes of identity and morality used in his debut film Following as well as the complicated storylines with converging timelines seen in later films like The PrestigeInception and The Dark Knight  trilogy.

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Memento stars Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) as Leonard Shelby, a man who suffers from retrograde amnesia which leaves him unable to store new memories. His condition is the result of a head injury sustained while trying to save his wife from two attackers during a home assault. Leonard’s last memory is that of his wife dying next to him and the movie picks up in the middle of his quest for vengeance. With his amnesia, Leonard lives life in small vignettes, constantly forgetting recent events leaving him confused and easily manipulated. To compensate for this problem, inconvenient to anyone but especially to someone devoted to a life of vengeful investigation, he writes notes to himself and tattoos important details on his body. Watching Leonard employ his system for memory construction plays out somewhat like a superhero origin story as we watch a character devise creative ways to use a certain power, or in this case compensate for a certain loss.

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Leonard’s story is presented to us non-chronologically and the film hints at Nolan’s later penchant for overlapping and converging plotlines. Unlike most films with non-sequential or vignette-based timelines, Memento’s story is not a random shuffling of episodes but a reverse chronology, with each scene occurring prior to the last. While this reverse timeline moves backwards, a separate timeline, shot in black-and-white, proceeds forward and meets the other timeline at the end of the film to form a continuous story. But Memento‘s nonsequentiality is different from similar films not only in its sequence but in its relevance to the film. Most films with nonchronologic timelines are nonchronologic for artistic reasons and are structured in a way that creates a more compelling story. I’ve used Pulp Fiction before as an example of a movie that presents its episodes in a specific sequence to create tension, citing the scene when John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson enter the diner we already know Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer plan to rob. Knowing Roth and Plummer are present when the two gangsters enter for breakfast builds tension in a way that a straightforward chronological sequence might not. But Memento‘s presentation is an artifact of a mechanism within the film itself and not just Nolan’s artistic choice (although Nolan does craft the story in a way that makes this sequence feel organic). We are viewing the confusing world generated by Leonard’s condition.

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The plot’s structure is harbinger of Nolan’s later style. Like Following and later films, Memento incorporates elements of film noir to create a dark atmosphere in which its characters live. Memento is often included on lists of the top neo-noirs produced in the last twenty years and often beyond. The film makes use of many stylistic elements of noir including voice-overs by Leonard, countless reflections which show off Leonard’s tattoos (which are often written right-to-left) and other cinematographic techniques. But the story is also noir to the core. Leonard devotes his life to revenge and solving a mystery forgotten by the law. Along the way he encounters a femme fetale in Carrie Anne Moss as well as a double crossing clerk who we could imagine as a 1940’s bartender. Film noir plots often are described as fatalistic with outcomes the characters are helpless to alter. By the film’s end Memento‘s dark inevitability is apparent and we are left questioning the morality of everyone in the film, including our hero. Nolan would continue to use noir elements frequently in his career and doesn’t abandon the genre after crossing over into the land of massive Hollywood blockbusters. And while we eagerly await his next film Interstellar, it’s safe to say the momentum Nolan built in his second film won’t sputter anytime soon.

Rating: 8/10. Internet, if you’ll allow me to confess my true feelings I will say that while I appreciate Memento and all of the skill Nolan demonstrates in the film, I am not the movie’s biggest fan. I can’t quite place the reason. The timeline is fascinating, the storyline is compelling, the acting is superb and it is commonly cited as one of the best examples of neo-noir which is arguably my favorite genre. Everyone has a movie or two that they know they should love. Movies that satisfy every individual category in your movie-watching mind but don’t quite satisfy you overall. For me, Memento is “that” movie. I suspect the main reason is that by the time I actually got my hands on the movie I resented how much I was supposed to “love” it. Another serious possibility (and I’m only half-kidding) is that I may have been sick when I first saw the movie and now associate the movie with feeling ill. I remember the day that Michael Jackson died I was overcoming a bad bout of food poisoning and dealing with all of its… let’s just say symptoms. The likely culinary culprit was a bad fried-ham-and-cheese sandwich (before you question American diets I need to say that I ate the sandwich while living in Spain). I spent all day watching videos of Michael Jackson’s songs and interviews from his friends and family (between frequent trips to the bathroom). Now whenever I see ham and cheese I start to hear “Beat It” in my head and am suddenly overcome with the need to vomit. I’m praying no one plays “Billie Jean” when I’m at work. I’m not sure I could make it to the bathroom fast enough.

Thanks for reading!

Flashback/Backslide

Whiplash (2014) Review

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Whiplash (2014)

Directed by Damien Chazelle

Starring:
Miles Teller
J. K. Simmons
Paul Reiser
Melissa Benoist

Running time: 106 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

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My Opinion:

This is another one of those “Oscar Season” movies where the performances are a bit better than the movie itself. Well, the performance from J. K. Simmons is, at least. However, I did at least enjoy this movie which wasn’t so much the case with Foxcatcher or especially Birdman.

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J. K. Simmons is great as the music instructor who goes too far in pushing his students to be the best. He’s SUCH an amazing prick! He’s like R Lee Ermey’s Sergeant Hartman shouting horribly inappropriate insults at the soldiers in Full Metal Jacket. He’s so horrible yet so compelling you can’t help but watch & cringe as he reduces his talented students to tears. I think he’s certainly deserving of his best supporting actor Oscar nomination & think he’s the likely winner in that category. Then we have Miles Teller… What’s with this kid and why do I hate him for no specific reason? He just has such an unlikeable face. Is that rude? I don’t care – he won’t read this. ;-) Maybe I’m still annoyed that I watched that stupid Footloose remake he was in. Or maybe it’s because I couldn’t wait to see The Spectacular Now as I’d heard it was just like Say Anything so I watched it and it was NOTHING like Say Anything plus Miles Teller’s character was a prick. Lloyd Dobler wasn’t an alcoholic prick! So, anyway… I don’t like Miles Teller. Sorry Miles Teller! You’re really pretty good in this, though. Good job, dude!

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As for the movie, I did enjoy it. I’m not at all a fan of jazz (except for Vince Guaraldi “Snoopy” jazz, which kicks ass). I played the saxophone for years but I totally sucked. I also know nothing about drummers other than that they spontaneously combust. However, I’m still a big fan of music so this movie did appeal to me anyway. It’s a difficult one in that the two main characters are hard to like. Teller’s character is extremely ambitious, which you can respect, but it means he puts his drumming before everything (and everyone) else. Oh, and Paul Reiser is in this – that asshole Burke from Aliens! It’s a pretty intense movie at times & it’s interesting watching how far Simmons & Teller’s characters are willing to go for success. And, wow – do drummers’ hands really bleed that much?! Ew. I suppose they do…

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Summary:

I’d definitely recommend Whiplash to musicians or to anyone with an interest in music. It’s also a good character study & I’d recommend it to those who love to watch a great performance. Teller does a very good job in this but J. K. Simmons steals the show (in my opinion). Whiplash doesn’t have a chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar but it’s a strong film with great performances & I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Anthropomorphic Cuteness Part VIII: Bowie Apple

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Here’s a photo of an adorable kids t-shirt complete with an anthropomorphic apple that I like to call the “Bowie Apple“.

And speaking of David Bowie, I saw this fun gif the other day that I wanted to share. Artist Helen Green created this gif showing us “50 years of David Bowie’s hairstyles in 5 seconds“. :-)

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Buscemi Bowie” appeared on Ministry Of Gifs soon after… Lol

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Ex Machina (2015) Review

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Ex Machina (2015)

Directed by Alex Garland

Starring:
Domhnall Gleeson
Oscar Isaac
Alicia Vikander

Running time: 108 minutes

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

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My Opinion:

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

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First of all, I have to mention that it was good to be able to see Domhnall Gleeson & Oscar Isaac together in a movie before we see them again in Star Wars The Force Awakens & it’s probably helping Ex Machina to get more attention than it otherwise would, which I see as a good thing. This is Alex Garland’s first time directing after being a writer & I was excited to see how he’d do as I’ve really enjoyed his movies. He wrote The Beach novel, 28 Days Later & Sunshine plus the scripts for Never Let Me Go & Dredd. Okay, I’ve not seen Dredd but people really seem to like it so I’m eager to finally see that one now as well. Apparently, based on Ex Machina, there’s now talk of him directing Star Wars IX. I’m happy to see someone who seems very talented getting some recognition.

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I thought Gleeson was very good in this and the right choice for his role. Isaac was good but it kind of felt like a role that could have been played by most anyone & I thought he paled in comparison to Gleeson & Alicia Vikander. Vikander as the female A.I. was probably the best thing about Ex Machina but may not get as much attention as the male leads, which would be a shame. She is, of course, lovely & her sad brown eyes alone displayed so much emotion (or DID they?). Yeah, she’s gorgeous… I hate her a little.

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As I said above, the story itself doesn’t really do anything “new”. We’ve seen the dangers & morality issues associated with artificial intelligence explored in a wide variety of sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner, The Terminator, Westworld, etc. Oh, and of course D.A.R.Y.L. & Short Circuit… (had to get those in here!). I loved the look & feel of Ex Machina but can’t say the story is totally original. It doesn’t really delve as deep into the moral issues as I was hoping it would but it’s still far from “shallow”. I really liked that it didn’t feel the need to throw in a bunch of technobabble, however, which made it feel far less phoney than Interstellar as that tried too hard to impress. Garland tells this story in a pretty straightforward way & does leave you with something to think about once the film ends. It also looks quite beautiful (its style reminded me of Oblivion) and Alicia Vikander as A.I. Ava looked amazing. It wasn’t a case of style over substance, however – I just wish they’d had a little more to say about the moral issues involved in creating advanced artificial intelligence. I liked Ex Machina a lot & think it’s a worthy addition to the sci-fi genre.

My Rating: 8/10

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Porco Rosso (1992) Review

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Porco Rosso (1992)
Kurenai no Buta
Japanese: 紅の豚

Directed & Written by Hayao Miyazaki

Starring Voice Actors:
Shūichirō Moriyama
Tokiko Kato
Akemi Okamura
Akio Ōtsuka

(English Dub Voice Cast: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan, Brad Garrett, David Ogden Stiers, Kimberly Williams-Paisley)

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot revolves around an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace, now living as a freelance bounty hunter chasing “air pirates” in the Adriatic Sea. However, an unusual curse has transformed him to an anthropomorphic pig. Once called Marco Pagot (Marco Rousolini in the American version), he is now known to the world as “Porco Rosso”, Italian for “Red Pig”.

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My Opinion:

Version watched: English dubbed version

I’m sorry but I have to use the word “odd” again in a Studio Ghibli review. Maybe I should buy a thesaurus. Hey, does anyone own an actual dictionary or thesaurus anymore? You can just Google everything. I think back to when I was a kid & had a set of encyclopedias… Bet no one buys those anymore! Anyway, Porco Rosso is bizarre. There, I didn’t use the word “odd”!

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First of all, I admit to only seeing the English dubbed version of this as it was on TV and I know I NEVER enjoy those as much as the subtitled versions so, therefore, I’ll probably be a little more harsh on this movie than it deserves. This is one of the “not for kids” Ghibli films. It’s hard to know who it’s aimed at… I’d say it’s the most “adult male” one I’ve seen so far. As I’m not male & really not at all interested in WWI flying aces (other than Snoopy), this movie didn’t speak to me the way other Ghibli movies have. It has quite a high IMDB rating & I’m sure plenty of people like this one. It’s just my least favorite of the Miyazaki-directed Ghiblis (I only have one left to watch – The Wind Rises. Will be interesting to see how that compares as that’s about a man who designed Japanese planes for WWII).

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Porco Rosso, at least in the dubbed version, is a “manly” man (manly pig? pigly man?). He’s a womanizer & comes across as a bit sexist. He’s voiced by Michael Keaton so it was strange watching this just after seeing Birdman. The voice Keaton uses for Porco Rosso is fairly close to his smart ass superhero “Birdman” voice. There’s a woman who is in love with his character then there’s later a 17-year-old girl who also seems very fond of him (as he seems to be of her). I won’t pretend I didn’t find that a little disturbing. Especially when the girl’s grandfather says something like “keep your hands off my granddaughter” & Porco says “just looking at her makes me tired”. Er… What a pig! ;-)

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The 17-year-old girl in this, however, is another strong female Ghibli character. She’s an engineer & helps fix Porco Rosso’s plane. I think a big part of the reason I like Studio Ghibli films so much is because of the great female characters so I’m glad we got a decent one in this movie as well. She’s not the main character but she does help make up a bit for Porco’s somewhat sexist & unlikable ways and kind of brings out the best in him by the end.

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Summary:

What can I say? Porco Rosso just wasn’t really my sort of thing. I respect it in the way I do all the Studio Ghibli films but just didn’t love it in the same way I do most of the other Ghiblis. It’s definitely a more adult one and aimed more at males. It’s certainly not a bad film & still a lot better than most movies out there. I wouldn’t recommend it as someone’s introduction to Studio Ghibli but it’s definitely worth a watch for those who are already Ghibli fans. Sorry for the quick & rubbish review but I’m off to see Ex Machina right now – that seems more “me”. :-)

My Rating: 6.5/10

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