American History X (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It Follows Gets Cool Poster Art And Expanded Release

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I LOVE this totally 80’s looking poster I found at Geek Tyrant for the film It Follows!

It looks like this film is getting a wider release in America this weekend plus I think it’ll be available online there from March 27th. I liked this movie a lot & it’s actually gone up in my estimation since I reviewed it HERE. Definitely not for everyone but I loved the retro look & feel plus the amazing score. It’s great to see some good horror films being made again. :-)

Rollerball (1975) Review

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Rollerball (1975)

Directed by Norman Jewison

Starring:
James Caan
John Houseman
Maud Adams
John Beck
Moses Gunn
Ralph Richardson

Running time: 129 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

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My Opinion:

I’d been meaning to watch Rollerball for years. 70’s dystopian sci-fi is so very ME! Yet I’d never gotten around to watching this one for some reason (or THX 1138 – another one that’s been on my list for years). So, I had fairly high expectations. Well… Damn. I’m sorry if there are any fans of this film but Rollerball is, for the most part, a bit boring.

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Some sci-fi films age well but this isn’t really one of them. Its dystopian view doesn’t seem as relevant now (we have FAR bigger worries these days!) and, my god – there’s nothing I love more than ugly 70’s hair & fashion but the people in this look SO 70s that it’s hard to suspend disbelief & think of this as actually being set in the future. Rollerball takes a fairly serious approach to the subject matter so does as least sometimes come across as more “gritty” than other cheesy-looking sci-fi from the same era, such as Logan’s Run (although I do like Logan’s Run… I preferred it to this). But the only scenes that really work here are the ones where the actual sport is being played. Unfortunately, whenever they leave the arena, the movie goes back to looking every bit its age & becomes a bit of a snoozefest with dodgy acting from most everyone other than James Caan, which is probably why it took me about four attempts to finish it. Hey! You do get a glimpse of a penis in a shower scene in the beginning, though.

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Speaking of penises, I gotta say that Rollerball certainly wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test. Being a woman who likes a lot of old movies (especially ones that most would consider “guy” movies), I’m used to that so I’m not saying Rollerball is really any more guilty of this than a lot of movies at that time. However, the female characters in Rollerball are nothing more than “pretty wives” for the players. From what I could gather, they’re “given” to the biggest Rollerball stars and, when Caan’s character is told he must retire, his “wife” is promised to someone else. But they give him a replacement woman – I’m not sure why as they want Caan out of the spotlight anyway. Is she his retirement gift? Is it because he needs a pretty face by his side when he makes his retirement announcement? I probably missed the point as I kept falling asleep when they weren’t playing Rollerball. They hint at the fact that he may have actually been in love with his “wife” but the movie fails to really explore this storyline. This movie happens to be set in 2018 so I’m glad women are a bit more than just “sports star whores” these days! Hey, that’s okay – just balance things out by watching the Drew Barrymore & Ellen Page movie Whip It after Rollerball. ;-) Yeah! Whip It! That movie rules. I want to be a roller derby chick. I’d be the old one like Juliette Lewis’s Iron Maven (I’d like to use that name as well!). I’m a wuss, though, so I probably wouldn’t last long.

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Did I just compare Rollerball to Whip It?! Ha! Okay – Rollerball is really just super violent roller derby with motorcycles & a spiky ball but the main two films I thought of while watching it were two that I enjoyed a lot more: The Running Man & Death Race 2000. Rollerball is a better “film” than either of those but it kind of forgets to be fun or entertaining. Actually, that’s a little harsh… I’m going to wrap this up now & try to be more positive. In fact, I think this one may deserve two ratings.

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Summary:

I don’t think I’ve been entirely fair to Rollerball. I may enjoy something like Death Race 2000 more, which is also from 1975, but I’d have to admit that it also hasn’t aged well – it’s just less serious and more fun to watch in 2015. That’s down to personal taste, though, and plenty of people will prefer the far less cheesy Rollerball. I think it’s unfortunate that the non-sports scenes REALLY let the film down. While the players are in their Rollerball uniforms (which do have a cool iconic look) & beating the shit out of each other, the movie is enjoyable. I have a feeling that fans of this movie have nostalgic feelings about the sports scenes & have kind of blocked the rest from their minds. I don’t think I’ve done this before but I’m going to give Rollerball my current rating as well as the rating I may have given it if I’d been old enough to watch it back in 1975.

My 2015 Rating: 6.5/10

My 1975 Rating: 7.5/10

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Schindler’s List (1993) 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 and Braveheart HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! :-) Now let’s hear his thoughts on Schindler’s List, IMDB rank 8 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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As World War II begins, the Nazis move Polish Jews into the Kraków Ghetto.  Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi Party, arrives in Krakow to make a fortune.  Bribing local German officials and making connections with the local Jewish black marketeers through Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), Schindler opens a factory producing enamel ware.  He hires numerous Jewish workers, who cost less than Polish workers, and saves those workers from being sent to concentration and extermination camps.

SS officer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) arrives in Kraków to oversee the construction of the Płaszów concentration camp.  Once the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto be liquidated, killing many of the Jews in the process.  Schindler witnesses this from a distance, and shifts his priorities from making money to saving as many lives as possible.

This is Spielberg’s masterpiece.

There are very few films I’ve watched where I just have to sit and really let it soak in once the end credits roll.  Movies like this really put into perspective how pathetic and petty my “struggles” really are.  That’s been the case both times I’ve watched Schindler’s List.

Someone who makes a film about something as significant as the Holocaust has to be all in: directing, motivating performers, production, set design, etc.  Though the full scope of the Holocaust can’t be completely explored in one movie, Steven Spielberg has probably come the closest to accomplishing this.  Filming most of the movie in Poland instead of at a studio, using actors who work best in performing the complex emotions and actions of their characters are a couple of the things Spielberg nails spot on with Schindler’s List.

Stanley Kubrick was in production of his own Holocaust film, Aryan Papers, about the same time that Schindler’s List was released.  He abandoned it, though, in part because of the broad scope of the subject matter.  His critique centered on the fact that Schindler’s focuses on those who survived, a much smaller group compared to the more than 6 million who didn’t.

The black-and-white enhances the gravity of the subject matter.  The way Schindler’s List is filmed conveys the human element that a documentary can’t quite capture while still having that documentary-type feel.

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Liam Neeson gives one of the best performances of his career.  He handles the various emotional stages Schindler goes through authentically.  It’s interesting to see his transformation from a boozing, gambling, womanizing man living the highlife to a man hellbent on saving as many lives as he can.  Witnessing the ghetto liquidation and Goeth’s heartless treatment of the Jews forces Schindler to stop keeping everyone at arm’s length and really take stock in his main purpose.  Though he had done quite a few movies prior to Schindler’s List, he hadn’t had that one great breakout role.  As a result, his star power doesn’t overshadow his performance as could have happened had a more accomplished actor been chosen for this role.

Having already won an Oscar for his role in Gandhi, Ben Kingsley is a grounded, purposeful character with wisdom, insight, and perspective.  His nonverbal expressions provide a continuous reflection of Schindler’s character and his gradual transformation.  Stern acts as Schindler’s conscience to a certain extent.  He also offers perspective that Schindler has saved many lives when Schindler felt guilty for not sacrificing more to save more.

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Ralph Fiennes gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the heartless and cruel Amon Goeth.  His intimidation tactics with the Jewish prisoners works well in keeping them in line out of absolute fear.  He seems like the kind of person who keeps pushing to see just how much he can get away with.  It’s good, though, that he can be bribed and Schindler can help set some boundaries with his random and senseless killings.

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“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

The final scene where the real life Schindler Jews placing stones on Schindler’s grave was especially moving.  I can appreciate someone like Spielberg wanting to tell their story and show the lasting impact that Oskar Schindler had on those that he saved.  The epilogue serves as a time capsule that reaffirms that tangible human connection to those who lived and survived something as horrific as the Holocaust.

Having seen Schindler’s List twice now, I highly doubt I could sit through it again aside from watching it with someone else.  It’s one of those films that is so powerful and moving that it only needs to be watched once.  It is most definitely deserving of the 7 Academy Awards it earned in 1994, and remains timeless as it explored one of history’s darkest events.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. 

Home (2015) Review

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Home (2015)

Directed by Tim Johnson

Based on The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Starring:
Rihanna
Jim Parsons
Jennifer Lopez
Steve Martin

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When Oh, a loveable misfit from another planet, lands on Earth and finds himself on the run from his own people, he forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures with Tip, Oh comes to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. And while he changes her planet and she changes his world, they discover the true meaning of the word HOME.

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My Opinion:

I’ve said it a million times here so I won’t go into it too much but I’m a big Pixar & Disney fan and feel that nothing from DreamWorks has ever come close to being as good. DreamWorks make okay movies for kids of very specific ages but not timeless classics for the whole family. Home is no exception. However, it’s “good for a DreamWorks film”.

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What I liked most about Home was the lead being a strong, young, not white!, FEMALE character in a sci-fi movie aimed at kids. Is that a first?? Feels like it… Maybe they’ll actually sell toys of her unlike Princess Leia toys for all the young girls who are Star Wars fans. Yes, there are girls who like Star Wars – why is it pretty much impossible to find any Princess Leia toys other than “slave Leia” toys for adult males? Pisses me off! I’ve had words with Disney Store, who don’t even sell toys of or clothing with the two females who are both MAIN characters in Star Wars Rebels. Seriously – they sell items with the male characters only. Sorry I just went off on one of my tangents! What I’m saying is that the choice of main character is a refreshing change & hopefully boys will still give it a chance as having a lead female character doesn’t make it a “girl’s movie” – there’s plenty here that both boys & girls will enjoy. Oh! I also liked the single mother with daughter situation here – another thing we don’t see a lot. It was also kind of funny that J-Lo plays Rihanna’s mother… Bet she hated that! ;-)

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Whether or not kids will like this movie will probably depend more on if they like the character of alien Oh. The aliens in this (the Boov) are very silly & not very bright, making them do a lot of stupid things that I think kids will find hilarious. Steve Martin voices the idiotic leader of the Boov (Captain Smek), which I enjoyed since I’m old (I’m afraid I’m much closer to Steve Martin’s age than Rihanna’s). Oh wait – I just did the math & I’m much closer to Rihanna’s age… YES! I mean, I’m a fan of Steve Martin but not of Rihanna (except We Found Love – I love that song). Am I going off on a tangent again?! The aliens in this are funny & Oh is silly and likeable. Home is very much aimed at kids & there’s nothing I’d consider inappropriate or too scary for the very young so you’d probably be fine taking your whole family to it. As an adult, I’d have to say I found some enjoyment from Home & didn’t end up thoroughly bored or annoyed like I do with some kids’ movies.

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Summary:

Home: “Good for a DreamWorks movie”. Yeah – I’ll go with that. Sorry to any DreamWorks fans out there but their movies never end up being all-time favorite films of mine whereas things like WALL-E & Toy Story are (and Despicable Me! an anomaly from Illumination Entertainment). I suppose the How To Train Your Dragon movies are still the best from DreamWorks but those are aimed at a higher age than Home. I’d have to say that I personally preferred Home to the majority of the other films from this studio (including Shrek) but I’m not sure that everyone will feel the same way. The story is a bit “odd” compared to other kids’ films but I’m a big fan of sci-fi & strong female characters who are good role models for young girls so I think they’ve done a good job with this movie. They’ve tried something different here – Home is somewhat unique & I like that, even if some of the aliens & animation reminded me of that silly Eiffel 65 video. That’s okay – I love that song! (Did I just admit that in public?!)

My Rating: 6.5/10

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It’s The Apocalypse, Charlie Brown!

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Holy shit! Two of my favorite things TOGETHER… Peanuts & the Apocalypse! :-) This piece, called It’s The Apocalypse Charlie Brown, was created by artists Sean Ellery, Max Dunbar and Vitali Iakovlev. You can read more about it at GeekTyrant HERE along with the following story to go with the art:

Ever since Lucy had finally gone too far in her quest for power and launched the nuclear apocalypse, Charlie Brown had roamed the wastes watching his Peanuts gang being whittled down one by one until only he and his faithful beagle; Snoopy IV were left…. But he would never give up, never. Not until he found the little red haired girl.

She was out there… somewhere…

Chappie (2015) Review

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Chappie (aka CHAPPiE) (2015)

Directed by Neill Blomkamp

Based on Tetra Vaal by Neill Blomkamp

Starring:
Sharlto Copley
Dev Patel
Watkin Tudor Jones & Yolandi Visser (aka Die Antwoord)
Jose Pablo Cantillo
Sigourney Weaver
Hugh Jackman

Running time: 120 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

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My Opinion:

I’m not sure if anyone has noticed but I’ve been on a real A.I. movie kick the past few months. This is a favorite topic of mine in films so, despite some very negative reviews, I still wanted to see Chappie as I’ve been looking forward to it for ages. I really liked Blomkamp’s District 9 but missed out on Elysium (and still haven’t watched it as we all know how well received that one was). I’ve not yet fully read any reviews of Chappie (other than a good one from Writer Loves Movies defending it HERE) but I’ve read just enough to get the general idea: most people hate Chappie almost as much as Elysium while a small minority are defending it. Well, I guess I’m in the minority. I really enjoyed Chappie and think it deserves more credit than it appears to be getting.

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Remember that this is a favorite topic of mine within my favorite genre so I’m going to automatically like it more than some will. Plus, the last A.I. movie I saw was the disappointing Autómata. Chappie is a heck of a lot better than that one but certainly isn’t as good as Ex Machina, my favorite film of the year so far, or even Daft Punk’s Electroma (which is awesome. seriously. no one read that review – that movie should be more well known!). Yes, Chappie is basically Short Circuit except that Ally Sheedy & Steve Guttenberg weren’t South African rappers calling everyone “motherfuckers” all the time. Actually, that would’ve been hilarious. Who’s Johnny, motherfuckers?! (Sorry, Mike – I had to make the Short Circuit comparison as everyone is. At least I didn’t mention D.A.R.Y.L. or… Hardware). ;-)

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I found Chappie interesting in that it actually explores the morality issues involved in creating self-aware artificial intelligence in a slightly different way than other similar films. Okay – this topic has been explored so much now that it’s very hard to be truly unique but even Ex Machina is guilty of not really bringing anything “new” to the table in the A.I. debate. Chappie treats Chappie (the robot) as a child who needs to be nurtured just as a human child would be. There’s talk of consciousness and “souls” (and violence & how to deal with crime, etc, making this not only like Short Circuit but also RoboCop). Overall, there’s probably a bit too much going on as far as all the various morality issues involved in creating advanced crime-fighting A.I. that whatever Blomkamp’s overall point actually is gets lost. The bits with the film’s two biggest stars, Sigourney Weaver & Hugh Jackman, are the weakest parts and I think more focus on the “Chappie as child in its formative years” thing would have been better. These are the most “human” parts of the film and are oddly touching. Chappie (again, the robot) is done very well – he looks great & his character is very well developed to the point that you DO feel for him. He’s no WALL-E but he comes closer to achieving that than I expected (I adore WALL-E). He’s as likeable as Short Circuit‘s Johnny 5 but with much more personality (and swearing). The most important thing to get right, in my opinion, is the character of Chappie himself & I think the film did a very good job there.

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I think the thing that may turn some off this film is the use of South African rap duo Die Antwoord (Watkin Tudor Jones & Yolandi Visser). I’ve known of them somewhat over the years through a couple of their songs & fucked-up videos and find them intriguing. When I heard they’d be in this film, I assumed it would be in smaller roles but they’re really the main stars. If you don’t take to their characters, you probably won’t like the film. Funny thing is, they end up being the best things about it (after Chappie, of course). These two crazy, swearing, “cartoonish” looking criminals end up feeling just as much if not more “human” than Dev Patel as Chappie’s “Maker”, while the film’s big stars (Weaver & Jackman) end up feeling like the cartoon characters. Or maybe that’s the point? I don’t think so… I think Weaver’s & Jackman’s roles are just very poorly written. It’s a shame, really, as it detracts from the more interesting central theme of A.I. consciousness & nurturing its development.

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Summary:

I thought Chappie was a solid sci-fi film and managed to explore the usual A.I. themes we’ve seen in countless other movies in a somewhat unique & quite entertaining way. It’s a weird kind of mish-mash of the heartwarming aspects of Short Circuit & WALL-E with the ultra-violent cartoonish-ness of RoboCop. This may be putting some people off, however, as the film seems a little confused as to what it wants to be. Sigourney Weaver’s & Hugh Jackman’s poorly written “baddies” aside, I enjoyed the over-the-top violent action film aspects but especially liked the more “human” aspects of watching Chappie become self-aware & start to develop his own personality. I know Chappie won’t work for everyone but it worked for me.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Gotta say this may be my favorite tattoo on Watkin Tudor Jones (aka Ninja) ;-)

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Vertigo (1958) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from James of Back To The Viewer. Thanks for the review, James! :-) Now let’s see what he has to say about Vertigo, IMDB rank 48 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 I volunteered to take on Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo for ‘Cinema Parrot Disco’s ‘IMDB Top 250 Challenge’ I was hoping to have a better experience compared to my first viewing. I was willing to give it a second chance after my first experience consisted of yawns and animosity but it wasn’t to be. Usually one to see the good in almost everything I seriously struggled with this one but here goes.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of Alfred Hitchcock’s ability to navigate his way around the human psyche I’d like to start off by addressing the BFI’s decision to adorn Vertigo with top honours on the ’50 Greatest Films of All Time’ list in ‘Sight and Sound’ back in 2012. Sparking an incessant debate two camps emerged. Firstly, those who agreed with the decision, or were at least impartial. Secondly, those Kanites who, through an act of self-excommunication, refused to allow their holy grail in the form of one Citizen Kane to be associated with anything lower than top spot. Refusing to align with the critics’ choice a fierce debate ensued which thankfully has died down since. What worries me here is the day Vertigo falls from grace. Will it come quietly or will it put up a fight grappling with the bell tower banister drenched in sweat, fearful of the dizzying descent leaving in its wake a tainted throne for the successor? Naturally what Hitchcock’s Mystery Romance boils down to is not a detective story but an allegory of his own directorial style. Hardly a revelation in the film studies world but ever a significant point. However, little attention is paid to the subtleties that hide in plain sight. The past plays such an important role in Vertigo right up to the closing shots that it begs to wonder whether Hitchcock knew with some prescience of mind that his 45th feature was going to leave such a lasting and debatable impression on cinema culture.

On at least three occassions are the words ‘power’ and ‘freedom’ used in the same sentence. First by Gavin Elster when he recruits John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson to follow his wife, he mutters in reference to San Francisco’s colourful past “I’d liked to have lived here then. The colour and excitement…the power…the freedom.” But despite the colour Hitchcock employs, Vertigo makes for a dark mystery overtly presented in the second instance by the book shop owner and historian Pop Liebel. Also in reference to San Francisco’s past but specifically the dominant patriarchal society, “They had the power… and the freedom,” spoken as the room is gradually, masterfully consumed by darkness. Lastly, spoken by Scottie himself “the freedom and the power.” This last one has been sidetracked slightly through fear of revealing too much but the words stand alone and stand out, to me at least. Perhaps from my History education, or perhaps more likely from my curiosity. Why would Hitchcock make this point consistently throughout? Bringing it back to the earlier point that Vertigo is more about film direction then it could refer to the power and the freedom Directors enjoy in their choices and decisions. It’s no secret that Hitchcock had a very specific vision for his leading ladies and the efficacy with which he pulled it off is inarguably sublime, Kim Novak is just that.

Delivering a complex performance to say the least as Madelaine, Gavin Elster’s wife to whom Scottie is assigned, Novak moves effortlessly between the lines of vulnerable alluring damsel to tragic innocent caught in a web of deceit. James Stewart puts in a solid performance as Scottie and with Hitchcock at the helm it would have been rude to expect anything less. Outside players such as Midge, Scottie’s adoring friend, can only watch helplessly as he falls deeper and deeper into a spiral of psychological acrophobia mixed with a healthy dose of curiosity, passion, and obsession.

The reason Scottie is hired to follow Madelaine on her day to day travels is revealed by Elster during their first conversation on the matter. Elster informs Scottie that Madelaine of late tends to leave this world for another, her eyes cloud over and she is somewhere else. Eventually coming to and having no recollection of her whereabouts. Enough to fuel Scottie’s intrigue he tentatively agrees to report on Madelaine’s activities. In a warped plot that seems as ludicrous to us as it does to Scottie Elster believes his wife has become possessed by the ghost of Carlotta Valdes. Tragically befalling to her own maddening sickness Valdes committed suicide at the age of 26. Madelaine is 26 hence Elster’s apprehension over her mysterious activity. However, the relationship between Carlotta and Madelaine forged by Hitchcock seems strained and forced whereas the symbolic relationship between Carlotta and Scottie burgeons throughout, initially unnoticed but retrospectively significant.

What Hitchcock has produced with Vertigo is a timeless tragedy perpetually spiraling, perplexing, and intriguing viewers. My first viewing of Vertigo was tainted by the anticipation of a gripping masterpiece. I left feeling a little unsatisfied and bemused, much like the original audiences upon its release way back in 1958. Despite what others have said in retrospect Vertigo will unfortunately never take the crown in my top 10 and the same can be said when put up against Hitchcock’s other features. North by Northwest and Rear Window do it for me, sorry Alfred. Given the resurgence of critical attention since its original re-evaluation in the 60s and even more so since 2012 with ‘Sight and Sound’s controversial decision my reaction to Vertigo remains unimpressed. It has some defining features, the iconic nightmare scene, psychedelic title sequence and the famous film making technique, dolly out-zoom in, but for all this auteuric style Hitchcock subdued his thrilling archetypes for the sake of a farfetched mystery that just doesn’t cut the mustard. Having said that I’m not one to discredit Hitchcock’s mastery behind the camera and these rare moments have warranted Vertigo a better rating than I care to get across in my review.

It was Worth my time to give Vertigo a second chance, and who knows perhaps with time it will grow on me. But that says it all really, if the greatest film of all time doesn’t do enough to impress me after two viewings then I’m going to need some of Scottie’s medicinal Brandy if it ever comes to a third.

Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie Character Posters

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I’m sure everyone has seen the character posters for Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie by now but it occurred to me that A NEW PEANUTS MOVIE IS COMING OUT SOON & I’ve not really even mentioned it on my blog yet!!!!! Not sure why as I adore Peanuts (especially Snoopy). :-)

Anyway – if you want to see the rest of the character posters, you can check them out at GeekTyrant HERE.

Also, I love these Peanuts characters as horror movie icons by artist Dennis Davies HERE. Adorably evil!

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How I Live Now (2013) Review

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How I Live Now (2013)

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Based on How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Starring:
Saoirse Ronan
Tom Holland
George MacKay
Anna Chancellor

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.

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My Opinion:

I watched this movie having no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about it other than reading the plot synopsis online. It sounded like it could be a cheesy YA post-apocalyptic romance as it’s based on a YA book (that I’ve actually not read! Thought I’d read that entire genre). No, this movie isn’t exactly cheesy. It has a more serious tone than I was expecting and is more like a weird combination of the original Red Dawn (not that awful remake – Chris Hemworth’s hotness couldn’t even save that) and that SUPER DEPRESSING British TV movie Threads (I don’t recommend that one – bloody hell!). But with a love story thrown in, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how convincing the romance really is and Saoirse Ronan’s character is hard to sympathize with, even after seeing the hell she goes through after war breaks out while she’s in a foreign country. Well, foreign to her – she’s an American in the UK. Like me!

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First of all, I’ll say this movie is very “me” as I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve read most the YA novels in this genre, I did a list of My Top Ten Apocalyptic Movies (HERE), and the only story I’ve ever written in my life was about a group of teenagers who’ve survived an apocalypse (it sucked, of course – I’m not a writer). This was years before this & all the “dystopian future” YA novels were such a big thing & I love that it’s such a huge genre now (even if it IS getting a little old it’s still better than Sweet Valley High). Anyway, How I Live Now feels much more realistic than the future we see in movies such as The Hunger Games & The Maze Runner. It’s set now (I believe) instead of some unspecified future and very much feels like something that could happen at any moment. I think this makes it a much more powerful movie. It may not be as “entertaining” as The Hunger Games but it feels a lot more grown-up than other YA stuff, which is something I really liked about the film.

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However, I unfortunately found it really hard to relate to the characters – especially Saoirse Ronan’s “teenager with issues & an attitude problem” Daisy. She’s very neurotic before the war breaks out & she does learn to stop worrying about all the superficial things in life that really don’t matter after London is bombed but she still comes across as very selfish since all she seems to care about now is being with the boy she’s fallen in love with since coming to England. Or should I say… her COUSIN?! Did I miss something? Anyone who has seen this feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but… they’re cousins, right? Like, possibly first cousins? I know they don’t say what her exact relationship is to them through her mother but that’s a little weird! Anyway, I had no issues with any of her cousins. The young girl named Piper (who I found out is the voice of Peppa Pig after watching this. how did I not notice that? I hate Peppa Pig!) and a boy named Isaac are both very sweet but Eddie, the one Daisy falls in love with, doesn’t have much of a personality. I can’t help but feel that these two main characters are probably MUCH more developed in the book. I think the movie really doesn’t do a great job fleshing these two out so I may read the book now as I really liked the story. If they’d done a better job with the main characters, I think I’d have liked this movie a lot more than I did.

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Summary:

How I Live Now may be based on one of a myriad of “post-apocalyptic YA” novels but has a more serious & realistic approach and feels much more grown-up. I liked the tone of the film and found the soundtrack very interesting. Aside from Nick Drake, I’ve not heard of any of the artists on the soundtrack which is unusual for me – It’s cool to hear some songs I don’t already know in a movie. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t very well developed & I didn’t feel like I knew anything more about Saoirse Ronan’s Daisy at the end of the film than I did at the beginning. I think it would be worth reading the book first to really understand Daisy’s feelings & motivations. It’s a good story overall but I’m thinking it just didn’t fully translate to film. If it sounds like something you might like, I’m going to recommend reading the book first even though I have yet to read it myself. I just think it’s likely you’ll get to know far more about the characters than you do in the movie.

My Review: 6.5/10

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It Follows (2014) Review

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It Follows (2014)

Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring:
Maika Monroe
Keir Gilchrist
Olivia Luccardi
Lili Sepe
Daniel Zovatto

Running time: 100 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.

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My Opinion:

I’ve said it here before but I rarely like modern horror films. I did a list of My Top Ten Horror Movies (HERE) and the most current one is from 1985 (Day Of The Dead but I’d also count A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, so… 1987. Dream Warriors rules!). That’s pretty sad – I suppose I’m showing my age. There have been a few okay ones such as The Descent and 28 Days Later, comedy ones like Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, and foreign ones such as Let The Right One In but, until the brilliant The Babadook came out recently, I was really disappointed with the horror genre these past 28 years. It Follows, although not perfect, is still in the very rare “good horror” category for me.

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It Follows is a hard movie to describe. I’ll say it’s definitely going to be one that will divide horror fans. This is one of those horror movies that’s apparently been shown at a lot of film festivals since last summer & is now getting a full release in the UK (and in the US on March 13th). It’s had some glowing reviews from critics & very positive word of mouth. It’s a slow, atmospheric, low budget (as far as I can tell) psychological thriller. Those looking for loads of gore will need to go elsewhere as will those who want a fast-paced horror full of cheap jump scares. Not to say there aren’t jump scares in It Follows but it feels a bit more fresh and far less formulaic than something like The Conjuring, which I thought was also a pretty decent modern horror yet was still guilty of certain horror clichés.

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I’m still trying to figure out what other movies can be compared to It Follows. Bear with me – I’m going to list a lot of them as I think it may (or may not!) give you a better idea of what to expect if you watch this one. At times I thought it felt like a Ti West film (especially The House Of The Devil) in that the pacing is very slow & a lot of attention is paid to creating the right sort of atmosphere & setting. I also thought it had the same sort of mood & pacing as the slightly underrated All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. From the little bit I’ve read about the movie online so far, I was surprised to see some comparisons to The Virgin Suicides as well. I can see that – it has similar characters & the same sort of mood (plus both share a similar Michigan setting, I suppose). The Virgin Suicides is definitely set in the 70s, however, but It Follows is one of those films that seems to make a point of not revealing the exact year. There’s just enough to show that it IS set now however the use of old cars, old televisions, black & white films, the clothing not being too specific to a time period, etc, makes you sometimes question when this is all taking place & gives it a timeless feel that I really like. Finally, certain scenes made me think of A Nightmare On Elm Street while the fantastic John Carpenter-esque score constantly brought Halloween to mind.

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I should mention the characters & the acting. The main girl, Maika Monroe, is very good & young enough to actually be believable as a teenager. She’s also apparently in The Guest, which I haven’t yet seen. I loved that she had a real Nightmare On Elm Street “Final Girl” look about her (specifically a cross between Patricia Arquette then Tuesday Knight from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 & 4). It will be interesting to see if she’s able to break away from the horror genre & be in other types of films. The other actors all did well and I liked their characters, which is rare for a horror film. One of my biggest complaints about horror movies is that the characters are so underdeveloped and hateful. In It Follows, they focus on Monroe, her sister, two of their friends & a neighbor boy. The friendships were believable as were the ways in which they tried to help their friend with her visions of being followed by people only she can see. They don’t always do the “smartest” things, as is the case with most horror characters, but they didn’t do anything to the point of being annoying.

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Summary:

I suppose I should wrap this up before I compare It Follows to every other horror film ever made. The thing is, it actually feels quite unique which is why I’m still trying to decide how I really feel about it & trying to figure out what other movies it could possibly be compared to. I do admit that I’m a sucker for a good score and I LOVED the retro synth score from Disasterpeace. It really helps set the mood & I do wonder if I’d have enjoyed the film as much without it. As I also said, the movie is very atmospheric & I loved the Midwest suburban setting in a non-specified time period. As for it being scary? Well, I have to admit that I didn’t find this one at all scary but very few movies manage to frighten me. It may work more with teenagers as It Follows is basically about not having sex before you’re ready and STDs & all that but, unfortunately, this slow-paced psychological type of horror probably isn’t the type of movie that teenagers will like. Overall, I enjoyed It Follows and always appreciate films that try something a bit different, especially in a genre as tired as horror. It’s not as good as The Babadook but I’m still happy enough to say I’ve actually seen two good modern horror films in the past year now.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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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 (chosen)
– The Elephant Man 1980 (chosen)
– 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 (chosen)
– All About Eve 1950 (chosen)
– Groundhog Day 1993 (chosen)

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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. :-)