Watership Down (1978) Blind Spot Review

Watership Down (1978)

Directed by Martin Rosen & John Hubley

Based on Watership Down by Richard Adams

Starring: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Roy Kinnear, Simon Cadell, Harry Andrews, Zero Mostel

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.

My Opinion:

This is my second Blind Spot movie of 2017 after watching & reviewing The Hustler in January. I’ve never read the Watership Down book by Richard Adams and have managed to avoid spoilers for years. I’d only ever heard that the movie is “sad” so I will of course avoid giving any major spoilers in this review.

I’m still not quite sure what to think of this film. I watched it over a month ago & it goes up in my estimation the more I think about it. It was very good & I liked it but know it’s one that would grow on me after multiple watches. I have to say that I wish I’d grown up with it as that would make me appreciate it in a different sort of way. I also very much want to read the book now as I think it would make more sense of the story (I was extremely tired the night I watched this. As usual). I want the kid to read more classics so I have a feeling she’ll be getting this book as a gift from mommy so we can read it together when she’s older. It’ll prepare her for the movie, which I wouldn’t allow her to watch yet. Yes, this film is indeed extremely violent for an animated “family” film. I’ll come back to that topic in a bit…

Watership Down is very different from modern-day animated films. I mean that in a good way, though. It has the soul & bravery that a lot of classic kids’ stories had in the 1970s but which have been sucked out of the sanitized & meaningless “Happy Meal toy seller” movies pumped out by Hollywood nowadays. To quote two bits of trivia at IMDB, Watership Down is “considered to be the most violent animated PG-rated film ever made.” Also, “The British Board of Film Classification is still receiving complaints about this film after it was made almost 40 years ago.

It’s funny to think that, although I didn’t see this as a kid, I’d have probably seen it by the age of six or seven and my parents would’ve thought nothing of it whereas no one would let a kid that age watch this film now. I just find it amusing what people protect their kids from nowadays. They’ll shield them from an allegorical classic such as this but will think nothing of letting them have unmonitored Internet & social media access. They’ll think nothing of letting them do so many things that are far more psychologically damaging than watching Watership Down. Don’t worry – I’m not getting on my soapbox since, even though I know I’d have seen this by the time I was my kid’s age if I’d had the opportunity, there’s no WAY I’d let her watch this! Lol. 😉 Not yet. I’ll check out the book first as that seems like the better introduction but, to give a slight spoiler warning, this movie goes full-on “Bunny Road House at the end! I expected a polar bear to fall on someone. I expected Sam Elliott (stud) to show up & help guide the bunnies to safety. Be nice until it’s time to not be nice, little bunnies!

I often say “I’m now interested in reading the book” after watching a movie that I liked but I rarely do it as I don’t like doing it that way around (I try to always read the book before the movie adaptation if it’s something that interests me). I mean it this time, however. It strikes me as one that will go far deeper in the book as the rabbits have their entirely own culture, belief system, language, etc. The movie touches on this very well and I loved the look and animation style used at the start of the film to help explain their culture but would assume, as is usually the case, that the book will explain even more. The story being an allegory of many things, but mainly humanity in general, I’d like to read the book to more easily draw the parallels.

Finally, for those interested in the book or movie, I’ll say that it follows the classic Joseph Campbell “hero’s journey” sort of theme, which always makes for a great story. The epic journey and mythological themes also reminded me of just how much I loved The Warriors. Yes, that’s right! I did indeed just compare Watership Down to The Warriors & Road House. That’s a massive compliment because those movies are awesome. Okay – I’ve talked myself into it now: I really really liked Watership Down. It’s a fantastically epic allegorical journey worthy of its “classic” status. And Road House Bunny Warriors kick ass.

To end this review, I thought I better make mention of the book’s author (Richard Adams) and the voice our main character Hazel (brilliantly done by John Hurt). Both sadly passed away very recently and it’s just a coincidence that I chose this as a Blind Spot movie as I’d been wanting to see it for years. So, in their honor, I’m happy to say that Watership Down is a wonderful story and I’m very glad to have added another John Hurt classic to my recent list of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies (a list which is still sadly missing a few big films I have yet to see). I’ve now updated that list & Watership Down is very high (ain’t nothing gonna beat Alien, though! EVER). I hadn’t realized just how many voices Hurt had done for animated films and, based on how great he was in this, I’m now moving Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord Of The Rings (in which he voices Aragorn) much further up my “To Watch” list. So far, I’m very happy with my 2017 Blind Spot choices.

My Rating: 8/10

Here’s Art Garfunkel doing the Bright Eyes song from Watership Down. The song is actually only very briefly featured in the film – I expected to hear the whole thing…

**FYI: Netflix & the BBC are making a new Watership Down mini-series with a pretty impressive cast (James McAvoy, John Boyega, Nicholas Hoult, Ben Kingsley, and Gemma Arterton to name a few). This will apparently air sometime this year. I can’t find more current information on it but you can read an old article about it HERE at Variety.com. Will be interesting to see but I’ll read the book first. I’m sure this version will be a watered-down Watership Down… 

Oh, I actually managed to go to a movie over the weekend! And it was almost as violent as Watership Down. See you tomorrow with my review of John Wick: Chapter 2. 

The Hustler (1961) Blind Spot Review

Today would have been Paul Newman’s birthday, so I’m reviewing his film The Hustler for my Blind Spot 2017 Series as well as my IMDB Top 250 Project. Like many classics, this was in the Top 250 when I started the project on 01/01/13 but is currently not on the list.

Let’s see what I thought of The Hustler (as well as its 1986 sequel The Color Of Money, which I’m reviewing tomorrow)…

The Hustler (1961)

Directed by Robert Rossen

Based on The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Starring: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie, George C. Scott, Myron McCormick, Murray Hamilton, Michael Constantine, Stefan Gierasch, Clifford Pellow, Jake LaMotta

IMDB Rank: 197 out of 250 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Hustler tells the story of small-time pool hustler “Fast Eddie” Felson and his desire to break into the “major league” of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country; seeking to best the legendary pool player “Minnesota Fats.”

My Opinion:

Paul Newman was so damn hot. What a hunk. I lusted after him through this whole movie. It’s quite disappointing that it’s in black & white because I like seeing those baby blue eyes of his in color. But even in black & white, he’s still dreamy. *sigh*

The Hustler is very good and I can see why it’s a classic and it totally sucks that current films keep knocking old films such as this one out of the IMDB Top 250. I can sort of understand why, though, as I’m guilty myself of not exploring many movies that are pre-1970 or so but it does annoy me that most young people want to watch nothing but current stuff these days. Anyway, I enjoyed The Hustler and the acting is phenomenal, which I think it what makes this one such a classic. Surprisingly, though, it was Piper Laurie who stole the show. Wow. More about her later…

Newman was his usual self: Full of charm & charisma. He was such a great actor and one of only a handful over the years who I feel had that extra “something” that made him my definition of a true movie star. You know that “something” that’s hard to explain? I feel that “something” is missing from most artists nowadays (especially within the music industry – even more so than in film). I haven’t explored as much of Newman’s work as I’d like but I can now say that The Hustler is a must-see for anyone wanting to see him in his best roles. There’s more than just his usual charm & charisma here – he’s a lonely, complex character and the movie truly comes alive when he becomes involved with Piper Laurie’s similarly lost soul.

Newman is fantastic and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Oscar but Laurie is stunning. I’m glad, like Newman, that she also got a nomination but it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more recognition for this role. I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know she was in The Hustler! I’ll also be totally honest & admit that I’ve never really known her as anything other than Margaret White in Carrie. I LOVE her in Carrie (she easily topped my list of My Top Ten Crazy Ladies In Movies). Who knew she could play a disturbed character with such sympathetic subtlety in The Hustler just as well as she did full-on batshit crazy in Carrie?? I love her in both roles but have a new respect for her – I’m very glad I got to see this performance.

Clearly the relationship between Newman & Laurie is what I latched onto and what made the movie for me but there are of course some other important characters and, yes – plenty of pool. The two really worth mentioning are Jackie Gleason as “Minnesota Fats”, a brilliant pool-playing rival to Newman, and George C. Scott as an evil, greedy bastard. Seriously – what a dick. I wanted to punch him in the face. Therefore, I guess he played his role well!

Summary:

The Hustler is worthy of its status as a classic and it’s a great way to kick off my choice of 2017 Blind Spot films. I admit, however, that it did drag for me at times in a way that older movies often do for those who have mostly watched post-1970 movies (like me). I have zero interest whatsoever in pool and, while this movie is not actually about pool and more about human interaction, there’s still plenty of pool. Some will of course love the actual pool scenes but the final game of pool is the only one that really matters and the one that fully held my attention. The movie is a little slow-going at first but the phenomenal performances from all involved, especially from Newman & Laurie, make the second half of the film intense & gripping. The Hustler is well worth your time if you have an interest in old Hollywood classics.

My Rating: 8/10

My 2017 Blind Spot Choices


Last year I really enjoyed joining in on the Blind Spot series so many bloggers choose to do each year. You can see my final ranked list & review links to my 12 Blind Spot Movies Of 2016 HERE. I won’t be doing quite as much on this blog this year but I do like the thought of at least selecting another 12 films that I’ve been wanting to watch & finally making myself get around to watching them. So here are my choices for 2017:

Wolf Children

Jackie Brown

The Hustler

Watership Down

The Raid

Rocky

Fritz The Cat

The Last Temptation Of Christ

The King And I

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Zodiac

House (Hausu)

Some Alternates (depending upon availability of the above & free time):

El Topo
The City Of Lost Children
Tetsuo (1989)
Solaris (1972)
Altered States
Ghost In The Shell
The Untouchables
Gandhi
The Right Stuff
Once Upon A Time In America

My 2017 Blog Resolutions 

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all having a good 2017 so far. (Okay – it’s the 10th of January. I’m done saying “Happy New Year”). 😉

Like most people, I’ve made my own personal resolutions for 2017. I won’t share those here but they’re my main priority. However, I don’t want to abandon my “online movie diary” completely so I’ve decided on some things I’ll focus on this year in order to keep this blog going. Here are my 2017 Blog Resolutions:

Keep It Short

I ramble on too much (probably because I’m not a writer & I suck with words!). This has kept me from reviewing a lot of the (79!) movies I watched at home last year. This year, I’ll keep any reviews of non-current, meh movies very brief.

One Or Two Posts A Week

Simple: I’ll do a minimum of one or two posts a week. Some weeks there will be more but I won’t stress if I only manage one. I’ll mainly post Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.

Blind Spot Movie Reviews

The one blog commitment I didn’t come to regret in 2016 was watching & reviewing the 12 Blind Spot Movies that I chose last January. This is one of my main blog resolutions that I plan to stick to again this year. I’ll be posting my 2017 Blind Spot Choices tomorrow.

Reviews Of New Releases

I’ll again do my best to at least review all the current movie releases that I go to see this year. I’m always pretty good about keeping on top of this so it’s my other main commitment along with doing Blind Spot reviews.

IMDB Top 250 Project

This has been almost entirely on hold for the past couple of years. I no longer want any guest reviews as some became too much of a headache. But I do, from the bottom of my heart, thank those of you who fulfilled your guest review commitments at least once. Sincerely. *Hugssssss!* I got a lot of excellent classics reviewed on my blog thanks to you guys (and it gave me the opportunity to be very lazy for over a year with a guaranteed weekly post I didn’t have to write). 😉 I’m now going to go back to doing this on my own but I’m in no rush. By now, I’ve watched the majority of the Top 250 films that I actually WANT to watch. So I’ll make my goal, hmm… To watch & review four IMDB Top 250 Movies this year. Think I can manage that!

Top Ten Lists

I’ll still do these but not on a regular basis. When I do, I’ll probably continue to post them on a Thursday.

Books & Reviews

I tend to read about one book per month & I kept on top of reviewing them all in 2016. I’ll continue to try to do this but I’ll make my book reviews very brief as well. 

Themed Weeks/Months

I enjoy doing themed weeks and/or months on my blog but I won’t commit to definitely doing any this year. If I’m in the mood & if I have the time, these are the ones I keep toying with:

Studio Ghibli Week: I already devoted all of January 2015 to Studio Ghibli but have since been working my way through the non-Miyazaki films as well. I’ve watched five already so I’ll review them all one week. Probably. I already started 2017 by watching Arrietty. 🙂

Akira Kurosawa Week: I keep putting this off as I don’t know how to go about reviewing these fantastic films (I’ve only watched three so far). But I’ve just bought myself a lovely blu-ray set of five of his samurai films (it was cheap!) so, maybe one week by the year 2021, I’ll actually review all the Kurosawa films that I’ve watched.

John Carpenter Week: Another thing I’ve been putting off for two years! I have, however, watched plenty of his movies in preparation. One of these weeks…. BAM! I’ll suddenly review them all. Maybe. We’ll see.

New York City Week: I’ve watched so many movies based in NYC in the past year & have saved them up to devote a week to reviewing them. 

Rocky Week: To kill two birds with one stone, I’m putting the IMDB Top 250 film Rocky on my Blind Spot list. But, as the hubby keeps telling me how good Creed was, I figure I better watch all the Rocky movies first, right?? Ugh. Are there seven? Well, I’ll try! I do have them all available so I might as well. Considering how much I ended up enjoying Clint Eastwood Week last year, I’m bizarrely looking forward to watching all the Rocky “guy” movies. I’m a weird chick…

Non-Disney, Non-Pixar, Non-Ghibli Animation Month: One thing I really want to focus on is watching more animated films that aren’t necessarily “kids’ films” (although some will be). I’m talking about things such as Ralph Bakshi movies & non-Ghibli Japanese anime. There are also some movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for years, such as Watership Down. I have quite a long list, however, so it’s likely that I’ll watch what I can this year but not review anything until 2018. Hmm… 2018 resolution?! I’ve not even had a chance to break all my 2017 ones yet!

Well. That’s it. So much for my “Keep It Short” resolution!!! There – I’ve broken one already… See you tomorrow with my Blind Spot Choices. 🙂

My 2016 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

Happy “Almost End Of 2016”, everyone! Let’s kick this year in the balls & move on. But first, I’m doing my End-Of-Year Lists for the rest of this week. List-making is the BEST & it’s totally sad how much I look forward to making these at the end of each year.

I’ll start today by ranking My Twelve 2016 Blind Spot Movies. As always, I’ll count down to my personal favorite. I have to say that I chose wisely last January, though – I enjoyed every single one of these so there are no “losers” on this list. I of course wanted to love them all but I can say that all of these are definitely worth your time if you’re interested in them.

Here we go! Counting down to my favorite, with the links to my full reviews included:

12. Eyes Without A Face

11. An Education

10. True Romance

9. Summer Wars

8. Phenomena

7. Magic

6. THX 1138

5. Running On Empty

4. Play Misty For Me

3. Battle Royale

2. Natural Born Killers

1. Akira

**I switched my Top Three around SO many times! I’m still not sure of the order of those but the Top Three are easily my favorites on this list & ahead of the others by a long way. See you tomorrow for My Top Ten Books Read In 2016. 🙂

Akira (1988) Blind Spot Review

Akira (1988)

Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo

Based on Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

Starring: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Taro Ishida, Mizuho Suzuki, Tetsusho Genda

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Akira depicts a dystopian version of Tokyo in the year 2019, with cyberpunk tones. The plot focuses on teenage biker Tetsuo Shima and his psychic powers, and the leader of his biker gang, Shotaro Kaneda. Several parties, including Kaneda, resistance terrorist Kei, Colonel Shikishima of the JSDF and a trio of espers, attempt to prevent Tetsuo from releasing the imprisoned psychic Akira.

My Opinion:

This is my final Blind Spot movie of 2016 (see the full list HERE). I’m going to do a post tomorrow ranking & rating all twelve that I watched but I can say now that I’m happy to have ended on Akira. I liked this one a lot, although I won’t even begin to pretend to fully understand what the hell was going on! 😉

I first want to say that I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that those of you in the UK are enjoying Boxing Day. I prefer Boxing Day – it’s the day when you get to lie around all bloated & just watch TV all day. That’s what you’re meant to do on Boxing Day, right?? I think some people go shopping because of all the sales. Screw that! Okay – back to Akira

Ummmmmmmm………. I put some Japanese anime on my Blind Spot list as I’ve been meaning to explore this genre more since I have no knowledge beyond Studio Ghibli (which I love). I watched Summer Wars, which I really enjoyed, and know I’ll choose two or three more amines for my Blind Spot 2017 list (I’m happy to take recommendations!). Akira is the biggie, though, so I knew I had to get that one “out of the way”, so to speak. What can I say? I like to dive in at the deep end! And this is certainly the deep end.

For other people, I suppose this movie wouldn’t be the place to start but I think I kind of loved it. And I have no idea why! I can’t explain why or give you any more of a plot synopsis other than the one I used from Wikipedia at the top of this post. It’s an intense film but it immediately grabbed me & I was never ever bored. I’ll admit that I attempted to watch Ghost In The Shell about a year ago. After falling asleep half an hour in (I’m a parent of a young child – this happens a lot when watching movies once the kid is finally in bed), I never went back to it. Well, I’ll try that one again someday – I’m just glad that Akira grabbed my attention from the very start.

I’m not going to say much about this film. It’s the day after Christmas and we’re all exhausted, right? It’s a tough one to explain anyway. Akira is bizarre. It’s at times funny, which I didn’t expect. I really liked the character Kaneda and the fact that it seemed like someone was shouting his name every two minutes. “Kaneda! KANEDA!!!!” Tetsuo was a total dick. I liked those three weirdo kids. It’s dystopian & I love dystopian. It’s also “cyberpunk” which, in looking up the definition, it looks like I’m already a fan of anyway so I suppose that’s partly why this movie appealed to me. Even though I didn’t know what the hell was going on… Oh, and I loved that almost “body horror” ending as well! Fucked up.

As I’m clearly struggling with what to say about this one, I think I’ll explore it again sometime in 2017 & maybe post about it again when I have a bit more experience with Japanese anime. I’ll definitely be watching it again when I get a chance. Akira was a fun, strange watch and I’m very happy to have put it on my Blind Spot list. KANEDA!!!!!!!!!

My Rating: 8/10

**See you tomorrow for my ranking of the 12 Blind Spot films I watched this year & to see where I rank Akira. 🙂

Running On Empty (1988) Blind Spot Review

Running On Empty (1988)

Directed by Sidney Lumet

Starring: Christine Lahti, Judd Hirsch, River Phoenix, Martha Plimpton, Steven Hill

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The eldest son of a fugitive family comes of age and wants to live a life of his own.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Running On Empty:

11. Eyes Without A Face – 7/10
10. An Education – 7/10
9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. Magic – 7/10
7. Summer Wars – 7/10
6. True Romance – 7/10
5. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
4. Running On Empty – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

This was a slight cheat for my Blind Spot list as I think I saw at least part of this film at the time but didn’t remember it. I’m not sure why I never fully explored it as I absolutely loved River Phoenix and I was completely & utterly obsessed with Stand By Me. That remains my most-watched movie to this day due to the multiple times I watched it at the age of 13/14. And, no, I’m still not over River’s death! You know how some of you younger bloggers feel about Heath Ledger?? River was the Heath of my generation. So damn talented… What a sad loss for the acting world – River was already fantastic at such a young age.

So, I’ll start with River’s performance in Running On Empty. He’s the true star of the film & his role won him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor (although I’d call it a lead role). I still often wonder what he’d be like today, at the age of 46, and how many Oscars he’d have (he’d most certainly have some). He’d be another Leonardo DiCaprio. Yep – there are some damn fine actors from my generation! Anyway, he was great playing a boy of (17?) in this film and he had just the right mix of maturity yet boyish playfulness. I sometimes get annoyed when teenagers are too mature in films – it’s not believable.

So, yeah – River is the best thing about this movie but there are strong performances from everyone involved. Christine Lahti is probably the most moving as a mother who knows she may need to let her son go in order to give him a chance to live a normal life. Judd Hirsch plays the father who insists that the family will always stay together, on the run, no matter what. And Martha Plimpton plays a girl who, along with the opportunity to go to a prestigious college, makes River’s character long to lead a normal life instead of always having to move from place to place & assume new identities every time his fugitive parents are in danger of being discovered. They’re a very close-knit family and you can’t help but want them to be able to somehow live happily ever after despite the mistakes the parents made in the past (they’re ex-hippies who bombed a napalm laboratory, seriously injuring a janitor who wasn’t meant to be there).

I think this is a sadly overlooked Sidney Lumet film as he’s done so many absolute classics (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, etc). It’s a shame as Running On Empty is a very good film with moving performances (especially from River – it’s amazing that I somehow missed out on this one as a fan of his). It has, admittedly, maybe not dated all that well in the same way a lot of 80’s films haven’t so it won’t necessarily be one that a younger generation will go for. If you grew up on 80’s films, however, this is a must-see that I think plenty of people didn’t see. I’m not sure why it didn’t get more attention but I’m glad that River Phoenix at least got an Oscar nomination. And I’m glad I finally took the time to watch it! And to once again have him break my heart… River did 80’s coming-of-age dramas perfectly.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Yes, this Jackson Browne song was in my head the whole time. No, it’s not in the movie. Hmm – I should add this movie to my list of My Top Ten Movies With Song Title Titles! FYI – Stand By Me was number one on that list…

Eyes Without A Face (1960) Blind Spot Review

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here’s my final review for the day, after my review of the surprisingly fun Trick ‘r Treat posted earlier today. Now let’s look at a cult French horror classic…

Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Directed by Georges Franju

Based on Les yeux sans visage by Jean Redon

Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel

Music by Maurice Jarre

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and goes to extremes to give her a new face.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Eyes Without A Face:

10. Eyes Without A Face – 7/10
9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. An Education – 7/10
7. Magic – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I’d been wanting to see this for years as it sounded quite bizarre. Hence, it ended up on my Blind Spot list & I finally got around to buying it on DVD. I can’t say it quite lived up to my high expectations, although it’s a very good movie and I would imagine it must have been very shocking back in 1960.

The story here is the exact one I expected. Although similar stories have been done since, I’m thinking this must be one of the (and maybe the very) first to do it. I was extremely surprised at just how much was actually shown… I expected to see nothing but we see it all in graphic detail (for 1960, anyway). Wow! No wonder it angered some people at the time from the little I’ve read of it. Don’t get me wrong – it’s funny now how blatantly obvious the special effects & make-up are but this must have been like the Saw of 1960.

I’m struggling with what to say about this film as I’m not as well-versed on those that are pre-1970 but I do wish to expand my knowledge in this area. The main thing I’ll say is that I absolutely loved how stylish this film was. The mask the disfigured daughter is made to wear is fantastic. So frightening in its simplicity. Plus she wears the best nightdress/housecoat thingy EVER. I wear sweatpants & T-shirts to bed. Why the hell don’t we still dress the way women did in the 1960s? They looked so groomed & lovely at all times. Even one of the film’s victims still looked immaculate afterwards & I just thought “Damn! Poor girl… but I love that dress!”.

I know I’ve put this as my “least favorite” of my Blind Spot films so far but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not good – I just enjoyed the rest slightly more. I think I was mainly disappointed that it was more straightforward than I expected plus the acting was a little off (mainly the father & daughter, although the father’s “secretary” and the other women in the film were good). It also wasn’t all that deep – this is a topic that could’ve been explored in-depth. Beauty on the inside, the ugliness of human nature, blah blah blah. But it’s just a pretty basic crime thriller, albeit with a gruesome twist.

However, it’s stylish as hell. Just look at the images in this post – I love the look of it all. I’m very glad that I put this on my Blind Spot list & finally got around to watching it. Black & white horror is something I truly wish to further explore & will happily take recommendations from fellow bloggers on this genre. I would imagine that Eyes Without A Face is one that will easily remain a favorite of mine within the black & white horror genre, though, as it’s one that could never be easily forgotten once seen. Shockingly beautiful, I’d love to have seen the reaction of audiences when this came out. It’s not quite up there with either Nosferatu (1922) or The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1920) for me but, like those, it’s so ahead of its time & there’s no denying the amazing imagery in all of them. We need more horror movies with style nowadays…

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! I totally forgot to mention that I found the movie’s score, from acclaimed composer Maurice Jarre, interestingly bizarre. It was at times too distracting but I love the Jean-Michel Jarre connection (he’s Maurice’s son). Who doesn’t like a bit of Oxygène??

However, I have to end with this music clip instead. I’m sorry! This is just SO stuck in my head since watching this. 😉

Magic (1978) Blind Spot Review

Welcome to Creepy Dolls Week! Let’s look at Magic’s impressive set of names: Richard Attenborough, William Goldman, Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith… Wow! This is why I added Magic to my Blind Spot list. Was it as good as the talent involved would suggest?

Magic (1978)

Directed by Richard Attenborough

Based on Magic by William Goldman

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ed Lauter, David Ogden Stiers

Music by Jerry Goldsmith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A ventriloquist is at the mercy of his vicious dummy while he tries to renew a romance with his high school sweetheart.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Magic:

9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. An Education – 7/10
7. Magic – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

Of all the impressive names attached to this film, it was actually William Goldman’s that convinced me I should put this movie on my Blind Spot list & finally get around to watching it. Written by the same guy who wrote The Princess Bride, one of the best movies in the history of history??? Oh hell yeah – I had to see this. Plus I admit I have a strange fascination with/fear of ventriloquist’s dummies and this film’s cover has a suitaby creepy one (named “Fats” in the movie). Look at that face! What an evil looking bastard. Can you imagine that thing sitting in your home? Staring at you? Watching you dress? Hogging the remote control? Leaving the toilet seat up? Well, Ann-Margret seemed to find it charming…

Anthony Hopkins is great in this & it’s easy to see why he’s become such a highly respected actor. This is the type of role that can go seriously wrong if not played right but he does the “vulnerable, possibly insane, slowly becoming unhinged” thing perfectly. Then we have the brilliant Burgess Meredith as Hopkins’ high-powered agent who is trying to get a TV show deal for Hopkins & Fats. Aww. I love Burgess Meredith! I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since his various roles in my absolute favorite TV show growing up, the original The Twilight Zone (he just wanted to be left alone to READ!). I suppose I should get around to watching those Rocky films someday, huh? Anyway, he was a delight in Magic & probably my favorite thing about it. He looked weird with a partially shaved head, though.

Speaking of The Twilight Zone, I suppose I have to admit that Magic’s story doesn’t feel totally original as it was done before in things such as, yes, The Twilight Zone as well as in the not-as-well-known-as-it-should-be British horror anthology Dead Of Night. However, this story is often repeated because it’s a damn good one & Goldman has created very strong characters in order to pull it off. I’ll always happily watch the various ways of going about telling this same “crazy ventriloquist OR crazy dummy?” story.

Unfortunately, while I adore movies from the Seventies, this one hasn’t aged quite as well as some. The strong characters stop when we get to the one female in this film: Ann-Margret. She played the role fine but her character is flaky & far too forgiving. But I suppose that’s kind of the point of her character as she’s married to a possessive man, meaning that when she has an affair with Hopkins & he starts displaying bizarre behavior she just puts up with it as it’s the sort of behavior she’s come to expect. It was a different time, though, and I can’t say this hurt the film too much overall. But I couldn’t help but think that I’d kick that crazy dude & his ugly dummy the hell out of my house! No, wait – I wouldn’t let them in in the first place. You are NOT coming into my house with that dummy. I don’t care if we were friends in high school! And don’t send me any social media friend requests, either. Weirdo.

Magic is a good film. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine but I’m glad I finally watched it. The story is well told with strong characters but I have a feeling it maybe worked slightly better in the book? Has anyone here read it? However, the acting really makes this film far better than it would’ve been had less talented people been involved. I do recommend Magic if it appeals to you in any way as I think it would be worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Hopkins & appreciate good performances.

My Rating: 7/10

This song is in no way, shape or form related to this film. It’s just now stuck in my head. And I like it. 😉

Phenomena (1985) Blind Spot Review

Phenomena (1985) (aka Creepers)

Directed by Dario Argento

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Donald Pleasence, Patrick Bauchau

Music by Goblin, Claudio Simonetti, Bill Wyman, Simon Boswell, Pina Magri

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Phenomena is a 1985 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento and starring Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, and Donald Pleasence. Its plot focuses on a young girl at a remote Swiss boarding school who discovers she has psychic powers that allow her to communicate with insects, and uses them to pursue a serial killer who is butchering young women at and around the school.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Phenomena:

8. Phenomena – ?
7. An Education – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I don’t have any experience with any Dario Argento films besides Suspiria or with any of the Italian “giallo” films. I’ve thought about exploring them but am pretty sure I’d find them too graphic – they don’t really look like the sort of thing for me. So this is written by someone with very little Argento knowledge & I have no idea if Phenomena is typical of his usual work or not.

This movie appealed to me as I of course like Labyrinth-era Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence is pretty cool, the plot sounded interesting, and I’m a sucker for good cover art & like the above poster. Oh, and it’s from 1985. I’ve been wanting to see this for a long time, which is why it ended up on my Blind Spot list. I’m afraid it didn’t live up to my own hype but I’m glad I finally saw it & it’s one I think I like slightly more now, months after seeing it. It’s bizarre & I can’t honestly say it’s “good” by any means but bizarre is better than boring in my book.

I’ll say that this movie certainly doesn’t follow any Hollywood conventions (not that it would since it’s Italian, obviously) so I don’t know anyone I could recommend it to who doesn’t have a bit of an interest in film or filmmaking & wanting to explore the work of certain directors. I’m sure some fellow bloggers love this one, though, as it’s a movie blogger’s sort of film. Thinking of the ONE other Argento movie I’ve seen, Suspiria, I suppose Phenomena has a very similar structure. Actually, now that I think of it, I can see some similarities in the layout of Once Upon A Time In The West, which was co-written by Argento. What I mean by that is that I didn’t know what the hell was going on in West either (but it’s an absolutely beautiful film).

Phenomena’s plot is all over the place, to the point where it’s kind of hard to follow what’s going on. There are elements thrown in which seem completely unnecessary, like the whole thing with Connelly being able to communicate with insects. I thought that would be more important to the story but only one silly insect scene, which made no sense, seemed to be mildly important so it felt like something thrown in to make this movie sound more interesting than just a “killer is killing schoolgirls” slasher. It also unfortunately made Donald Pleasence’s character feel unnecessary as some kind of weird bug expert that Connelly just happens to stumble upon when becoming lost in the woods. Okay – I just re-read the entire plot at Wikipedia & Pleasence is a “forensic entomologist” helping work on the case of the murdered girls. Is that actually a thing? Can you use bugs to track down killers? Well, he’s in a wheelchair with a chimp as his assistant so that was cool – it reminded me of George A Romero’s Monkey Shines, which I had loads of fun reviewing HERE. Hmm… as Romero & Argento are friends, I wonder if Monkey Shines was partly inspired by this.

But I digress. As always, my reviews are all over the place. Kind of like this movie! I get the feeling that the visuals & general weirdness are more important to Argento than the plot anyway & I can appreciate that – I almost find these elements more important in a film as well. Make it an interesting enough film to look at and/or listen to and I won’t care if the plot isn’t the best (I’m thinking of movies like The Man Who Fell To Earth, which I loved but was seriously WTF). Speaking of being interesting to listen to, Argento used the great Goblin once again for the score. And he threw in some heavy metal songs which I can’t honestly say fit in AT ALL but I will never complain at an Iron Maiden song featuring very heavily in a film since that’s my favorite band. I guess the music helped add to the bizarre nature & very non-Hollywoodness of the movie. I made up a word there! I sound so professional.

I think I’m talking myself into liking this a bit more. The chimp helped – there should be more chimps in movies. I didn’t understand what the hell was going on half the time, the insect thing was honestly pretty stupid, it was a little too gory for me, and I’ve never been a big fan of slashers which show great delight in specifically killing women (which is why I know that “giallo” films probably aren’t for me). However, there are scenes I’ll never forget which is more than I can say for the majority of boring horror movies that get churned out by Hollywood with all its Hollywoodness. The visuals are interesting, the silly ending that turns this into something more like a typical American slasher like Friday The 13th, etc, has really grown on me as I think that’s what Argento was actually aiming for, there’s some Goblin & IRON MAIDEN!!!, there’s Dr. Sam Loomis & the President of the United States, there’s Jennifer Connelly’s eyebrows, and there’s a chimp. Who cares about the plot when you have all of these things?? Okay, I’m upping my rating by half a point. I’ve talked myself into liking this f*^ked-up movie.

My Rating: 7/10

**Here’s Iron Maiden’s Flash Of The Blade, which was used so heavily in this film that I’ll now never hear it without seeing Jennifer Connelly’s face…

And here are two interesting facts that I just read in IMDB trivia:

– “The film was inspired to Dario Argento after he learned that insects are sometimes used during murder investigations.” – Okay, so I guess that’s an actual thing.

– “Jennifer Connelly had part of her finger bitten off by the chimpanzee in the final scene at the end of the film. She was rushed to the hospital and the finger was re-attached.” – DAMN! I don’t like that chimp so much anymore.

Battle Royale (2000) Blind Spot Review

Battle Royale (2000)
Batoru Rowaiaruis
Japanese: バトル・ロワイアル

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Based on Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Takeshi Kitano

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Battle Royale:

7. An Education – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

I put Battle Royale on my Blind Spot list as I really have wanted to see it for years. I put it off mainly because I’m kind of a wuss with violence so I was waiting for a time when the hubby could watch it with me (Thanks for finally watching this with me, dude!). I didn’t have to annoy him by asking him what was happening, though. It was of course violent but not “gross” – I was able to watch all of it. However, I think I’d hyped it up too much in my mind all these years as I’m sad to say that I was a bit disappointed with the movie overall.

Now, calm down Battle Royale lovers! 😉 I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it. I enjoyed it quite a bit & I think it’s one that might go up in my estimation once my initial disappointment has worn off. I’ve not read the book so I don’t know how faithful the movie is but I was surprised to find that it was far more shallow than I’d always imagined it must be. Maybe the book is a bit deeper & more of a social commentary? Has anyone here read the book? I have to say that I’m definitely now interested in checking it out to see how it differs as I did really like the story & characters.

I can see why Quentin Tarantino loves this film – it’s a thoroughly entertaining action movie with loads of violence that seems have no consequence. It’s a Japanese Tarantino movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I like his movies and do, first and foremost, want a movie to actually entertain me. Battle Royale certainly did that but it’s also nice when you’re entertained plus get a little something more as well… Anyway, it’s cool that Tarantino cast Chiaki Kuriyama (below) in Kill Bill as Gogo Yubari. One great thing about Battle Royale is that there were some really kick-ass female characters! I always love that.

It’s interesting that my two favorite Blind Spot movies so far are mega violent but I have to say that I thought Natural Born Killers was the better “film” whereas I think I enjoyed Battle Royale more. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it’s one that will only go up in my estimation if I watch it again or read the book. I think it may just be that the message was more clear in Natural Born Killers than in Battle Royale (whether or not you agree with its use of excessive violence to show us how wrong it is to glorify violence).

I don’t mean for this review to sound so negative as I did really enjoy the film. I guess I’m still sorting through my feelings on it as I type this but I already know I like it even more now than when I watched it a week ago. It’s extremely rare that I re-watch movies nowadays (no time for that) but this is one I do want to re-visit fairly soon. I think one problem may be that Battle Royale has so many characters that it was hard to keep track of them all on the first watch. It’s also hard to fully develop so many characters but this movie did actually do quite a good job with even some of the lesser characters considering how little screen time they got. The main characters were very strong and the movie did well with them – I’d like to read the book for, hopefully, even more insight into everyone involved. I’m glad I put Battle Royale on my Blind Spot list, forcing me to finally watch it all these years later. I wish I’d seen it at the time as it probably would’ve had more impact on me in 2000 than post-Hunger Games (no, I won’t even begin with that comparison but I see now why people moaned about The Hunger Games being so similar). 😉

My Rating: 8/10

THX 1138 (1971) Blind Spot Review

THX 1138 (1971)

Directed by George Lucas

Starring: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Don Pedro Colley, Maggie McOmie, Ian Wolfe

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
THX 1138 stars Donald Pleasence and Robert Duvall and depicts a dystopian future in which the populace is controlled through android police officers and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotion, including outlawed sexual desire.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank THX 1138:

6. An Education – 7/10
5. Summer Wars – 7/10
4. True Romance – 7/10
3. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
2. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

First of all, I have to point out that I’m going to be reviewing this in an odd way. I’ve unfortunately only seen the Director’s Cut of THX 1138 as it’s the only version I have. I’m a bit of a snobby purist (even little things like replacing the guns with walkie talkies in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial pisses me off) so knowing that an original, minimalist, un-fucked-with version of THX 1138 exists and that it appears not at all easy to get a copy of seriously annoys me.

So I’m reviewing & rating this movie as if I’ve seen the original version as I can see that there’s a very good dystopian sci-fi film here hiding underneath a bunch of added & completely unnecessary digital bullshit. I know it’s a weird way to do this as I haven’t even seen the original so I can’t be as annoyed as I am with the stupid changes Lucas made to the original Star Wars trilogy (WHY, George Lucas? Why?!?!?) but I’ve looked into the changes that’ve been made & seen images from the original version so I have an idea of what it was like beforehand. There’s a really good comparison between the two versions along with images HERE at movie-censorship.com if you’re interested. For example:


The first image is from the original film. Lucas seems to be a big fan of “extending hallways, etc, and adding more people”. Many of the THX 1138 changes involve making an area look much larger and to have it filled with more things & more people. Why? I honestly don’t see the point. The thing I liked most about this film was its striking imagery, especially the stark white of the majority of the scenes in the beginning of the film. It was quite beautiful in its minimalist approach & this artistic vision is undone every time a very obviously altered scene crops up. A lot of the rather drab gray shots of the factory in the beginning are also replaced with completely new shots of a large & busy factory with a sort of golden hue instead. It’s a dystopian sci-fi film – the “drab” shots of the factory made more sense! Surely George Lucas is missing the entire point of his own film by making visual changes that work against its themes?


Okay – that’s ALL I’ll say about the Director’s Cut & its changes. I promise! I now just want to talk about this movie. The sci-fi dystopian (and/or sci-fi post-apocalyptic) genre is and always will be my absolute favorite above all others, which is why I put this movie on my Blind Spot list as I felt it was a huge gap in my knowledge of these sorts of films. And I did really like it, although it’s a hard one to actually recommend to others who aren’t die hard fans of the genre. If you don’t love this genre, you’re very unlikely to enjoy this movie. I’m not going to pretend that it’s not a bit of a struggle to sit through. It’s very slow, especially in the first half. I do love the story but, yes, it’s one that has been done in loads of “dystopian future” novels & films. No, I wouldn’t say it necessarily brings anything all that new to the table in terms of its themes but you have to remember the fact that it was released in 1971 and does actually feel ahead of its time. We’re just used to movies like these now as there have been a lot of similar ones since but THX 1138 deserves more recognition than it seems to have received. Visually, I think it has dated very well (and I do mean the original version) unlike some other sci-fi films of its time and the lower budget, minimalist look really is to thank for this.

I’ll be honest & admit that this is one of those films that I appreciate but that I like the “thought” of it more than the actual film itself. It’s a lovely work of art. I’m a sucker for great imagery & would happily stick a poster of an image from this film up on the wall of my cinema room (if I was rich and actually had a cinema room… that would be cool). I have very similar feelings about several other films I’ve watched since starting this blog: The Man Who Fell To Earth, Rollerball, Under The Skin, and Daft Punk’s Electroma. These are my favorite sort of movies & I loved them all (well, Rollerball was a bit weak & didn’t age as well) but plenty of people would sadly yet understandably find these films just plain unwatchable. Yep, THX 1138 is a struggle and I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that I fell asleep the first time I attempted to watch it. But I still ultimately find this sort of movie far more rewarding than most of the crap that gets made nowadays. I’d say that they’d never allow this sort of movie to be made now but things like Under The Skin & Ex Machina (which actually IS very good & totally watchable, FYI) prove that theory wrong. I’m glad that artistic movies like these which won’t please a mainstream audience or rake in loads of blockbuster money are still sometimes given a chance. THX 1138 easily fits alongside other visionary sci-fi classics and still feels relevant 45 years later. It really didn’t need to be messed with…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Play Misty For Me (1971) Blind Spot Review

**Welcome to Clint Eastwood Week here at Cinema Parrot Disco! I’ll be reviewing Clint Eastwood films for the rest of this week (all of which are ones I’ve only just watched for the first time this year). Happy Birthday to Mr. Eastwood, who is turning 86 tomorrow! I figured I might as well do this during the week of his birthday. Plus, I chose one of his films for my 2016 Blind Spot Series. So here’s my month of May Blind Spot review, directed by & starring Eastwood: Play Misty For Me.

Play Misty For Me (1971)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Jessica Walter, Donna Mills, John Larch

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A brief fling between a male disc jockey and an obsessed female fan takes a frightening, and perhaps even deadly turn when another woman enters the picture.

My Opinion:

This was one of my “alternate” Blind Spot choices (see them all HERE) but then I went & watched it right away in January as it was one that I really wanted to see the most. Here are the Blind Spot movies I’ve reviewed so far including this one (I might as well start ranking them! Counting down to my favorite…):

5. An Education – 7/10
4. Summer Wars – 7/10
3. True Romance – 7/10
2. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10

So, yeah – Play Misty For Me is pretty high for me so far.

This movie is so Seventies it hurts! The clothing & the hairstyles are ridiculously ugly/awesome. I love that decade! I always have a soft spot for 70’s & 80’s movies so I may rate them a bit too highly sometimes but I did enjoy this. Fatal Attraction owes a lot to Play Misty For Me – Glenn Close must have watched this movie. I don’t know Jessica Walter but it looks like she’s been in a lot of TV shows, such as Arrested Development (which I’ve never seen). She’s a great crazy bitch in this! I didn’t know just how unhinged her character would be. I think, if you’re gonna have a psycho stalker in a movie, they should be full-on crazy. I wasn’t disappointed with the level of nuttiness!

I also have a thing for movies involving a DJ so I really liked that part of it. Although, we see Eastwood in the studio & doing his DJ thing far less than I was expecting – he was mostly at home dealing with the crazy bitch or outdoors. Part of this may have been Eastwood wanting to show off his hometown? It’s a lovely place! I’d happily live in a town like that. Thanks to the hubby for knowing this fact beforehand so I looked into it afterwards: this movie was filmed in the town Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where Eastwood has lived for many years & was elected mayor in 1986. He filmed this in local restaurants, the radio station, and friends’ homes. Oh, and in reading a bit about the town at Wikipedia, I read that they have a law prohibiting women from wearing high heel shoes without a permit. Ha! That’s weird. (Although I don’t think it’s strictly enforced)


There’s not much more that I can say about this film. It’s just a really good “stalker” movie so, if you like that genre, I’d certainly recommend this one. It’s also worth watching if you like this era & to see Eastwood’s directorial debut. So far, this is my favorite movie that he’s directed (but there are quite a few Eastwood-directed films I still haven’t seen). It’s a nice break from his cowboy thing & Dirty Harry thing – it’s a shame he didn’t do more movies like this one. Seriously, though – this is so SO Seventies! Look at these tighty whiteys!

Look at this outfit! I love those boots. Id totally wear this outfit with a different color top!

Look at the hideous hair on Donna Mills!

Love it. Good movie. One of Eastwood’s better films, actually. It should get more recognition.

My Rating: 7.5/10

True Romance (1993) Blind Spot Review

True Romance (1993)

Directed by Tony Scott

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken

Music by Hans Zimmer

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Clarence marries hooker Alabama, steals cocaine from her pimp, and tries to sell it in Hollywood, while the owners of the coke try to reclaim it.

My Opinion:

*This is my fourth Blind Spot review after An Education, Summer Wars & Natural Born Killers.

When choosing my Blind Spot movies for this year, True Romance was the first one I thought of as I’d been meaning to watch it for years but, for some reason, just never got around to it. I like Tarantino and love both Christian Slater & Patricia Arquette so I was really excited to finally make myself sit down & watch this. I ended up with two Blind Spot movies written by Quentin Tarantino as I also added Natural Born Killers as kind of an afterthought and wasn’t even really looking forward to watching that like I was with True Romance. However, I was very surprised to find that I was slightly disappointed with True Romance while I actually thought that Natural Born Killers was the much better film.

First of all, I’ll say that this movie has plenty of what Tarantino is good at: cool characters & fun dialogue. It also has another thing he’s sometimes good at: a messy plot. Normally, I don’t really mind that so much as long as everything else is good but I did find the messy story a little distracting with this one. I admit I watched this late at night & was very tired but did I miss whatever happened to Christopher Walken? It seemed like he was introduced & that he was important but then he just disappeared? I also thought the big finale felt a bit forced & silly. I wonder if the movie would be much different if it had actually been directed by Tarantino as well? This came out after Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (although I think it was written before?) but Reservoir Dogs is the much better film overall.

Don’t get me wrong, though – this movie is fun & I did enjoy it. It’s surprising I never watched it as I was totally in love with Christian Slater in those days thanks to Heathers, Pump Up The Volume & Untamed Heart (shut up – I adore Untamed Heart!). And he’s good in this but the true star is actually Patricia Arquette. I’ve really liked Arquette ever since A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors but have missed out on a lot of her movies (I recently did a top ten list of her movies HERE in which I kind of had to cheat to make it up to ten). I’ve never understood why she wasn’t in more movies so am glad she got recognized with an Oscar for her role in Boyhood. True Romance is surely her most defining role, though.

As with any Tarantino-related film, the cast they got together for this is super impressive. Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, and…. Balki from Perfect Strangers?!? Okay, Bronson Pinchot felt out of place (plus it’s a fairly big role compared to some other big names!). Shall we have a look at those with much smaller roles? Hmm. Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, James Gandolfini… so many well known names & faces in this! Although some weren’t as huge when this came out, I suppose. Such as Brad Pitt, who is adorable as a total stoner.

The two who really stand out in smaller roles, however, are Dennis Hopper (as Slater’s dad) & especially Gary Oldman (as Arquette’s evil pimp). I really miss Hopper – I always found him entertaining. He was loads of fun being a crazy bastard most of the time in things like Blue Velvet & Speed but I liked seeing him in a more straightforward role here & in a memorable scene with Walken.

I also like Gary Oldman (doesn’t everybody?) but, at the same time, I’ve never really noticed him all that much. He’s just one of those rare actors who is so different in every single role. For example, I love Jack Nicholson but always feel like I’m watching “Jack Nicholson” when I watch one of his movies. Oldman becomes the characters he plays and his role here, although far smaller than I thought it would be, is easily the most memorable thing about the whole film. I think James Franco clearly watched him in this before doing Spring Breakers. Oldman really deserves more recognition than he gets (but that’s probably because he’s so often unrecognizable!).

I suppose I was a bit tough on this film in my opening paragraph but, as is obvious from what I’ve spent the whole time talking about, the strong characters are what I assume make this film such a fan favorite. And it certainly feels like the films that Tarantino went on to direct himself due to the characters, the conversations, and of course the copious amounts of violence that I had to turn away from (one scene involving Arquette was a bit too intense for me). Shockingly, I found this more violent than the super violent (yet anti-violence) Natural Born Killers.

The thing that works the most, though, (for me at least) was the actual “romance”. I loved Slater & especially loved Arquette and wanted them to live happily ever after. These two had amazing chemistry in this! You just knew their characters had really hot sex. And, hey – they first meet in a movie theater & bond over a similar love of movies: that’s the perfect way to start a romance in this movie blogger’s opinion! Did they date in real life after making this like most stars do when they make films together? I have no idea but they should have. Hey – are they both single nowadays? I think they should hook up! Arquette totally should’ve married Slater instead of Nicolas Cage. Although I can’t blame her for marrying Thomas Jane. He’s a hottie.

Summary:

Well, I’ve said all I really need to say about this. True Romance is a really fun film thanks to Tarantino’s way of writing great characters & their interactions with one another but I was still a little disappointed that the story itself was weak. I also thought the scenes involving Elvis talking to Slater’s character didn’t really work & felt out of place. But I’d most definitely recommend this if you’re a fan of either Tarantino or Tony Scott or of the many big name stars in this movie. Like most of Scott’s films, this has a little bit of the gung-ho American action movie thing going on but it still mostly feels like a Tarantino movie (and it sure as hell is a lot more violent than Scott’s other work). I’m glad I finally watched this and the main things I’ll always remember are the fantastic performances from the likes of Arquette, Oldman and Hopper plus, of course, the romance itself. Slater & Arquette are perfect together.

My Rating: 7/10

Natural Born Killers (1994) Blind Spot Review

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Directed by Oliver Stone

Story by Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A satirical black comedy crime film that tells the story of two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

My Opinion:

Here we are with movie number three of my 2016 Blind Spot picks. I can’t believe I’ve actually managed to review one each month so far! (the previous two were An Education & Summer Wars). Other than The Doors & Platoon, I can’t say I’ve really liked any Oliver Stone films all that much so I went into this one with fairly low expectations. Plus, I’ve never exactly loved either Woody Harrelson or Juliette Lewis. Well, I have to say that I liked this one quite a bit and both those actors have gone up a little in my estimation (22 years later!).

I suppose it helps that Quentin Tarantino wrote the story? He wasn’t involved with the actual screenplay (I read that they changed his story quite a lot) but this movie has the overall vibe of the films he directed – not just in the extreme violence, of course, but also in the rich characters & dialogue.

I think it’s difficult to make a satire on our obsession with violence that then uses excessive violence to get its point across. Does this movie glorify violence just as much as it claims the media does, thanks to shows such as the film’s American Maniacs as hosted by Robert Downey Jr’s character? I read that, at first, this movie was going to be a straight-up action film before Stone decided to turn it into a satirical black comedy. I think changing the direction of the movie was a very wise decision. Actually, this is what I read at Wikipedia – I can see why he changed his mind:

“As the project developed however, incidents such as the O.J. Simpson case, the Menendez brothers case, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, the Rodney King incident, and the Federal assault of the Branch Davidian sect all took place. Stone came to feel that the media was heavily involved in the outcome of all of these cases, and that the media had become an all-pervasive entity which marketed violence and suffering for the good of ratings. As such, he changed the tone of the movie from one of simple action to a satirical critique of the media in general.”

I think the movie very much gets its point across and is even more relevant today as violence seems to be at an all-time high but, also, scenes of graphic violence are even more immediately accessible now than in 1994 thanks to the explosion of the Internet. It’s not some true-crime TV show (hosted by Downey Jr with, I gotta say, a really annoying fake Australian accent) that we have to worry about these days. Hell, American Maniacs looks like a Saturday morning kids’ cartoon compared to today’s video games & torture porn films never mind the disturbing clips of real-life violence which are far too readily available online thanks to everyone having their own damn video cameras in their phones. (Off Topic Rant: Man, I love my phone but wish I could time travel back to 1985 when peoples’ private lives weren’t being constantly recorded & uploaded for all to see. Kardashian-free 1980’s life sounds like a damn utopia now! Rant Over). So, Natural Born Killers is more relevant today but also wouldn’t actually work if made now as it’s no longer satire. Watching it now was quite scary, in a way, as I imagine it felt far-fetched in 1994? Now it just feels like one of those Making A Murderer type of true story documentaries that are so popular on Netflix.

I’m actually a huge wuss when it comes to violence in movies (I watch Tarantino’s with my hands over my face half the time) but am more accepting when the movie has a message like I feel this one does. There’s lots of blood in this but I was able to watch it all as it’s not as “gory” as Tarantino-directed films (which do glorify violence but are so cleverly written that I can’t help but love them anyway as a fan of film). Will someone go on a murder spree after watching this? Maybe. But someone who does that would’ve done that anyway whether or not they’d watched a violent movie or played a violent video game.

Oh crap – I really didn’t want to get into a deep discussion about the film’s message and about whether the media has a responsibility to humanity to not glorify violence and blah blah blah. That’s one of those arguments that can go around in circles for an eternity. All I’ll say is: Society is fucked. The media – including movies, TV, video games, websites – is just a reflection of society. It gives us what we seem to want based on our behavior. I think Natural Born Killers displays that logic perfectly but it’s a shame that its message, although extremely blatant, seemed to not be fully grasped by everyone at the time.

I think what worked for me with this movie besides the film’s message was its style. I loved the psychedelic scenes and Stone’s use of different colors. I thought the I Love Lucy sitcom-style scenes involving Rodney Dangerfield as the abusive father of Juliette Lewis were very inventive and the scene in the rattlesnake-filled desert was trippy. Hell, I even found the “marriage on the bridge” scene oddly romantic in a messed-up way. That’s the thing – I think most people watching this movie find themselves liking Lewis’ & Harrelson’s Mickey & Mallory despite the fact that they’re psychotic killers with no remorse. But that’s the whole point, of course. The media in the movie makes them stars and the movie itself has made their fictional characters stars. By the end, you want Mickey & Mallory to live happily ever after and THAT is truly fucked-up. That’s how good the movie is, though – it turns us into the Mickey & Mallory-worshipping audience of American Maniacs.

My Rating: 8/10

Summer Wars (2009) Blind Spot Review

Summer Wars (2009)
Samā Wōzu
Japanese: サマーウォーズ

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring Voice Actors: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Nanami Sakuraba, Mitsuki Tanimura, Sumiko Fuji

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of Kenji Koiso, a timid eleventh-grade math genius who is taken to Ueda by twelfth-grade student Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. However, he is falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world by a sadistic artificial intelligence named Love Machine. Kenji must repair the damage done to it and find a way to stop the rogue computer program from causing any further damage.

My Opinion:

I figured it was time to expand my horizons & watch some anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli for a change. I love Studio Ghibli! I had a little blogathon last year & I reviewed all but one of the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis plus Grave Of The Fireflies (you can find the links to all those reviews HERE). Well, I’ve watched some more now so I’ll be doing a “Ghibli Week” at some point soon.

Anyway, I’ve chosen two non-Ghibli anime films for my 2016 Blind Spot Series: Summer Wars and Akira. Everyone has of course heard of Akira so I figured it was about time that I check it out (it’ll be a while – that’ll probably be my December Blind Spot). I didn’t know much about Summer Wars but I’d recorded it off of TV ages ago after really liking the sound of the above synopsis. It’s a bit like Japanese anime Ready Player One! Or Snow Crash! I always love movies about artificial intelligence, plus virtual reality and hacking films are usually loads of fun too. Then, of course, I looked up some of the images from the movie online & was sold on finally watching it.

This movie is a lot of fun. I can’t say it tops any of the Studio Ghibli films for me, though. Well, no – it does actually top some of the non-Miyazaki films like From Up On Poppy Hill & Whisper Of The Heart. What’s really great about it is that it truly is two movies in one. You have the real-world story of Kenji Koiso and the family of the girl he has a crush on plus you of course have the story involving the virtual world of OZ, which is a huge part of many people’s lives (as is the OASIS in Ready Player One).

I preferred the virtual world of OZ (as I knew I would – it has such a great look to it) but was surprised at just how much of the real-world story was in the film as well. I’d say that the story involving Kenji’s girlfriend’s very large extended family (including her grandmother, who is a strong character I really liked) probably makes up more than 60% of the film. The real-world story was also entertaining, though, and I did enjoy it even if it did drag a little bit at times while I waited for them to get back to the world of OZ and the pretty damn cool-looking A.I. called Love Machine.


This movie is very “me” so I was expecting to absolutely love it. I did enjoy it quite a bit but felt somewhat disappointed overall. I think I probably just hyped it up too much in my mind. Also, I’ll admit that I watched this dubbed and, believe me, I far prefer to watch Japanese anime in Japanese with English subtitles as a lot of the “magic” is lost when you see something like this in English. I stupidly assumed that what I’d recorded was in Japanese. Damn. Well, I liked it enough to pick up the DVD if I see it cheap as I’d really like to watch it in Japanese as well. I’ll also now definitely watch this same studio’s The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (which I DID pick up on DVD years ago!). That one will be on my Blind Spot 2017 list and, based on Summer Wars, I’m looking forward to that one as well. I’m happy that I finally watched an anime that’s not from Studio Ghibli and would be happy to watch even more. I’ll gladly take any recommendations as my knowledge of this genre is limited!

My Rating: 7/10

My 2016 Blog Resolutions: Blind Spot Choices, IMDB Reviews & Taking It Easy 

Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂 I’ve already posted all my 2015 Top Ten Lists so here they are if you’re interested:

My Top Ten Movies Of 2015
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2015
My Top Ten Books Read In 2015 (and mini-reviews)

(I have to say that this was by far the best year for movies since I started this blog. I hope 2016 is as good of a year for film!)

I was actually very eager to get 2015 over & done with and to move onto 2016. It’s ridiculous as January 1st is just another day like any other but, for whatever reason, we all think we’re going to actually change for the better each year. 😉 I like to think this actually works for some people and, this year, I have some pretty big resolutions that have nothing to do with the blog. So my biggest blog resolution is to, well, not spend so much time on it. To take it easy & not let a hobby that I really enjoy stress me out in any way. I’ll do what I can and skip what I can’t.

But I of course still want to keep up on my biggest hobby besides blogging, which is actually watching the movies that I blog about. So I’m adding just one new blogging project this year that I think should be fairly easily achievable (and, if I don’t manage to finish it by December 31st 2016, that’s life).

I’ve seen the Blind Spot Series being done on loads of blogs & keep saying every year that I should join in. Screw it – I’ve decided to do it. Basically, it appears that you choose 12 movies that you’ve always been meaning & wanting to watch but, for whatever reason, just never got around to them. Is that correct?

I have such a huge list of movies like that and, of course, a lot will eventually be done by me as part of my IMDB Top 250 Challenge anyway (more about that later). A lot of people seem to pick very “worthy” stuff but my list isn’t going to contain any Citizen Kane-type films since that’s all in the IMDB Top 250 so I’ll torture myself with those at some point. No – my 12 are movies that I actively want to watch, not ones I know I’ll have to force myself to watch. That’s been the case with most of the Top 250 films I’ve watched – I do love them once I’ve seen them but getting around to watching them is a damn chore.

So here are My 12 Blind Spot Choices For 2016, most of which are pretty highly regarded but not necessarily “worthy classics”:

True Romance

THX 1138

El Topo

Natural Born Killers

Battle Royale

Akira

Summer Wars

An Education

The City Of Lost Children

Magic

Phenomena

Eyes Without A Face

My main reasoning for choosing most of these? I went through the big “Watchlist” I have and tried to choose things that I already own (I’m broke!). The only two that I don’t have are the last two so, if I find that I really can’t afford to buy them, these are some alternates (and a good start to Blind Spot 2017, I guess!):

Play Misty For Me
Zodiac
The Raid
Running On Empty
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
House (Hausu) (1977)
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)

Now, moving onto my IMDB thing…

It’s been three years now since I started my IMDB Top 250 Project on 01/01/13. As there have been many changes to the list since then, I’ve decided to finally work off of an updated 01/01/16 version (see “additions” at the bottom of THIS PAGE – there are 34 new movies that have been added to the Top 250).

As always, this is mainly a project for me to complete (I’m reviewing the movies I’ve never seen plus some favorites). If you really want to do a guest review, the available films that I don’t plan to do myself are below. If you sign up, you have one month to get your review to me before it goes back on the Available list below. I won’t be keeping close track of who signs up for what – I’ll just add the movies to the “Selected” section.

I hope no one takes this the wrong way but I need to start fresh. A lot of these films were signed up for a long time ago but I can no longer keep track of who said which ones they’d do, especially as several have changed hands more than once. If you are one of the people who signed up for one of these, let me know if you DO still want to join in. Thanks everybody! 🙂

AVAILABLE TO BE REVIEWED:

Cool Hand Luke 1967
The Wrestler 2008
The Lives of Others 2006
The Sting 1973
Die Hard 1988
Léon 1994
The Hobbit 2012
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
Rain Man 1988
Taxi Driver 1976
Gone with the Wind 1939
NEW ADDITIONS AS OF 2016:
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
Before Sunrise 1995
Before Sunset 2004
Life Is Beautiful 1997

**Selected for now**
Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels 1998 (Tom)
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 (Tom)
2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (Drew)

Depending on the response, I may give up some of my favorites I’d kept for myself to do (Jaws, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, etc etc).

I hope you all have a wonderful 2016! It’s great to still see everyone who has stuck around in the three years I’ve been doing this blogging thing but I hope that you’re all happy outside of this online thing as well. If you need to take a break from this, take a break. It’s something you can always come back to now & then.

Besides the IMDB thing, I have three other ongoing projects that I’m not going to rush in any way as I know I can do them if and when I feel like it. These personal projects are to watch all of John Carpenter’s films, all the Studio Ghibli films, and most of Akira Kurosawa’s films. I’ve done well on Studio Ghibli so far (you can see all my existing reviews HERE) and I’m happy to say that, so far, I’ve watched two films in 2016: Ghibli’s Whisper Of The Heart and Kurosawa’s Ikiru (also a new entry into the Top 250). So I’m not giving up on movie blogging just yet! But, damn – now I guess I have to do the hard part of actually reviewing those two… Ha!

For now, though, I’m taking a break from posting anything for the next week. Or two. 🙂