Citizen Kane (1941) Blind Spot Review

Citizen Kane (1941)

IMDb Top 250 Rank: 44 out of 250 as of 01/01/2013

Directed by Orson Welles

Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, William Alland

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from my least favorite to favorite:

5. Atonement
4. Gleaming The Cube
3. The French Connection
2. Citizen Kane
1. Enter The Dragon

Watching Citizen Kane means that I also get to tick another film off the list of the IMDb Top 250 that I hadn’t yet seen when I started this blog. It’s ranked very high (although it has now dropped to 71 out of 250). It’s often considered the greatest film of all time by those smart film critic types. It was pathetic that I’m a so-called “movie blogger” but had never seen one of the most revered classics of all time (which is why I finally put it on my Blind Spot list). Well, I’ve seen it now….

Damn. This is one of those times that I really don’t feel like doing a review. I’m not a film student. Yes, Citizen Kane is a great film and I know that a lot of that will have to do with filmmaking techniques that I know nothing about since I’m an uneducated heathen who likes movies but is usually happier when watching Star Wars instead of On The Waterfront. Speaking of which, I had a hell of a time while trying to “review” that Top 250 classic as well. Actually, I’ve just re-read what I wrote about On The Waterfront and I had more to say than I remembered. Can I just copy & paste that review here as a lot of it applies to Citizen Kane too??

No, that’s not quite true. I liked Citizen Kane much more but I just didn’t quite connect with either film. I’ve discovered with these worthy classics that I far prefer the grand, sweeping epics to the gritty dramas with Oscar-winning acting. Give me a gorgeous Sergio Leone film with a Morricone score instead of Brando & his pigeons. Citizen Kane is somewhere in the middle – it has the gritty drama but it’s also epic in its telling of this character’s life story. I love a story spanning an entire lifetime and I did enjoy this movie. It’s a great film. It’s a classic. But I didn’t connect with it as much as I was hoping I would. I’m sorry! Okay – I’ve actually just taken a break to add images into this post. Wow. They’re stunning. Those are some great shots! They remind me of Fritz Lang’s M, another great film. Is that why this movie is so popular? Huh. Yeah, I admit it – I should probably watch this movie again. Someday. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

I briefly discussed Citizen Kane with a friend and how I really didn’t feel like reviewing it. Believe it or not, I’m a person of few words in real life and, when talking about a movie, I’ll often just say “Yeah, it was good” or “It sucked!”. Citizen Kane got three sentences out of me & my friend pointed out that it worked as a haiku.

So here’s my haiku review of Citizen Kane (complete with the ***BIG HUGE SPOILER*** that everyone knows about this movie by now if they are the slightest bit interested in films):

I was a bit bored.
I have no culture. I knew
it was the damn sled.

Then I added another that works out slightly better in haiku form:

Enter The Dragon
Was a much better Blind Spot
Damn that stupid sled

By the way, Enter The Dragon was f*%king awesome! I’ll review that next month and will maybe put a tiny bit of effort into that post. Maybe. For now, here’s my rating for Citizen Kane. It deserves much higher.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**Okay – since this was one of my worst attempts at a review EVER (although I’ve certainly had worse), here are links to bloggers I follow who have written about Citizen Kane. I couldn’t find many! If you’ve reviewed the movie, let me know and I’ll happily add you to the below list.

100 Films In A Year

Hard Ticket To Home Video

Isaacs Picture Conclusions

Keith & The Movies

MovieRob

Rhyme & Reason

Thomas J

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Atonement (2007) Blind Spot Review

Happy 33rd Birthday To Keira Knightley.

As today is her birthday, I figured I might as well get my Blind Spot review of Atonement out of the way. I didn’t like it.

Atonement (2007)

Directed by Joe Wright

Based on Atonement by Ian McEwan

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.

My Opinion:

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from least favorite to favorite:

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

Yeah, Atonement is last. This is my third year of doing this Blind Spot thing (my previous two years of lists are HERE) and Atonement may be my least favorite overall. I take that back – it’s probably The Last Temptation Of Christ.

Atonement is certainly not a bad film in any way and its cinematography was beautful. However, I found it boring and, worst of all, I hated the characters. I suppose my irrational dislike of Keira Knightley may be partly to blame (Sorry Keira Knightley – I hope you have a good birthday anyway!). She recently said something along the lines of only wanting to be in these period dramas now because women are always being raped in modern movies. Fair enough – that’s something I hate being thrown into films for no good reason. But did she forget about the entire central plot of Atonement?! Sheesh. Actors are so annoying. And I’m sorry if that’s a major spoiler – the rape is pretty early on in the film. I just found that to be a stupid comment, especially as there have been some very strong female characters in modern movies these last several years who’ve not been raped. Maybe she should watch more movies?


So, this is the movie that got the young Saoirse Ronan noticed with an Oscar nomination. She’s very good in this, although her character is a hateful little brat at first. But she grows & she learns. I’m guessing this was better portrayed in the novel. She clearly is forever remorseful over ruining two people’s lives with her lies but it still didn’t feel like she truly suffered as she should have. At least, she certainly didn’t suffer as much as her sister & her sister’s lover (Knightley & James McAvoy).

Knightley & McAvoy were both very good as well, although I always find that Knightley comes across as very “cold”. Man – I’m really sounding like I hate Knightley… Sorry! I did prefer McAvoy and felt genuinely sorry for his suffering at the hands of that little shit played by Ronan.


*Not Ronan but same character when older and less of a shit

Okay, I admit that this is a good movie and the problem is that it’s just not my type of thing. The acting, the score, and the cinematography were all strong and the story itself was good even though I found its execution odd (in the beginning, they keep going backwards & redoing scenes from different perspectives and it felt clunky & just annoyed me). There’s also a scene involving a letter that isn’t explained well and I didn’t know what the hell had happened until I read a full plot synopsis. The second half of the film luckily didn’t do the weird jumping around thing (from what I remember) but that just made things feel inconsistent.


*This dress was gorgeous

FYI – Knightley is okay with the C word being used in a movie! As long as it’s a period drama. 😉 I just happen to prefer this kind of period drama to the Knightley kind. I hated every character in this movie (other than McAvoy’s) and I usually don’t enjoy a film when that’s the case. The odd storytelling style also didn’t help. Maybe I’d have liked the book more, as I do think it’s a good story & I always like stories that span so many decades. Don’t skip this movie if you think it’s your type of thing. It’s just not mine…

My Rating: 6/10

Gleaming The Cube (1989) Blind Spot Review

Gleaming The Cube (1989) (aka A Brother’s Justice and Skate Or Die)

Directed by Graeme Clifford

Starring: Christian Slater, Steven Bauer, Richard Herd, Le Tuan, Min Luong, Art Chudabala, Ed Lauter, Micole Mercurio, Peter Kwong, Max Perlich, Tony Hawk, Christian Jacobs, Buddy Joe Hooker

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Gleaming the Cube featured Christian Slater as Brian Kelly, a 16-year-old skateboarder investigating the death of his adopted Vietnamese brother.

My Opinion:

I’m getting this month’s Blind Spot review out of the way so I can focus on reviewing 2018 releases & Oscar nominees in these two weeks before the Oscars. So, yeah – I’m reviewing an old Christian Slater movie before things like The Shape Of Water & Black Panther, both of which I saw last week. I really liked one of those. But I’ll get to them later…

These are the 2018 Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far, from least favorite to favorite:

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

I honestly don’t have much to say about Gleaming The Cube. It’s quite dated, as I’d expected. I put it on my Blind Spot list since I’m an 80s/early 90s teen and I adored Christian Slater at that time but, for whatever reason, I never saw this film. As far as “skater boy” movies go, I’m sure it’s far from the best. The only other one I can think of that I’ve actually seen is Lords Of Dogtown (that was better). But I had fun with the sheer 80s cheesetasticness of this. Tony Hawk has a small part in this as one of Slater’s group of skater friends. There were loads of other skateboarders in the film (I’ve only heard of Hawk). Here’s the list from Wikipedia if you’re interested:

“The skating technical advisor for the film was original Z-Boy Stacy Peralta. Among the skateboarders who appear in the film as stunt skaters are Mike McGill, “Gator” Mark Rogowski, Rodney Mullen, Rich Dunlop, Eric Dressen, Lance Mountain, Mike Vallely, Chris Black, Ted Ehr, Natas Kaupas, Chris Borst, and Steve Saiz. Tony Hawk (Buddy) and Tommy Guerrero (Sam), then members of the Bones Brigade, appear in the film as members of Brian’s skate crew. Future lead singer of The Aquabats and creator of Yo Gabba Gabba!, Christian Jacobs, also appears in the film as Gremic.”

I love Yo Gabba Gabba! Okay, I’ll steal the “definition” of Gleaming The Cube from Wikipedia as well:

“The title of the film refers to the cryptic question “Have you ever gleemed [sic] inside a cube?” that Garry Scott Davis (GSD) asked Neil Blender in an interview in the December 1983 issue of Thrasher magazine. In the film, Christian Slater’s character defines “gleaming the cube” as “pushing your limits to the edge.””

The film follows Slater trying to find out the truth about his brother’s death, which was made to look like a suicide. In typical 80s fashion, this teen investigating what ends up being a smuggling crime ring isn’t exactly realistic and of course ends with a silly but fun chase scene involving skateboards and his group of skater friends. But it’s an enjoyable film and I’ve seen far cheesier. Definitely worth watching if you like Slater & movies of that era. I know I’d have really liked this if I’d seen it in 1989.

I’ll quickly add that there are some other likable characters in this besides Slater & the skaters (hey, that rhymes). The murdered brother, the brother’s ex-girlfriend (who Slater teams up with following the murder), and the cool detective who originally finds Slater & his friends a nuisance but who later predictably comes to Slater’s aid in his investigation. He was cool. He was in Scarface and then loads of other stuff but I think Scarface was one of his only really big roles. Here he is (Steven Bauer):

I know that Gleaming The Cube is no Citizen Kane but I like to fill my Blind Spot list with some of those “Why did I never see this movie that looks like my sort of thing?” films as well as worthy classics. It was worth finally watching this. It’s certainly not in the same league as Slater films such as Heathers or Pump Up The Volume, of course. It’s more along the lines of The Legend Of Billie Jean (but not as good as that – Billie Jean kicks ass)! I’ve added it to My Top Ten Christian Slater Movies list (it does make the Top Ten). Okay, I gotta go so I’m keeping this review short. I have stuff to do. I’m gonna go gleam that cube!

My Rating: 6.5/10

The French Connection (1971) Blind Spot Review

Happy 88th Birthday To Gene Hackman!

I didn’t even realize it was Hackman’s birthday when I decided to review this today as my first Blind Spot movie of 2018. What are the odds?! (Umm… 1 in 365, I guess???). Anyway! Happy Birthday, Mr. Hackman! Here are my thoughts on finally seeing The French Connection for the first time…

The French Connection (1971)

Directed by William Friedkin

Based on The French Connection by Robin Moore

Starring: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi, Frédéric de Pasquale, Bill Hickman, Ann Rebbot, Harold Gary, Arlene Farber, Eddie Egan, André Ernotte, Sonny Grosso

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

My Opinion:

I’ve actually already managed to watch 4 of my 2018 Blind Spot choices and I’m not all that impressed so far. Here’s my ranking (I’ll review 1 each month):

4. Atonement
3. Gleaming The Cube
2. The French Connection
1. Citizen Kane

Well, the top two are clearly leagues ahead of numbers 3 & 4. But I didn’t like The French Connection nearly as much as I thought I would considering that I do love a good, gritty, manly 70’s film (I’m a weird girl). It was okay. The famous car chase was pretty cool. But, man – Hackman’s Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle was hard to like. That’s quite a popular character – I knew that name before even seeing the movie. He’s a jerk. But I realize that’s kind of the whole point. I’ll come back to that in a bit…

This movie won the Best Picture Oscar. I didn’t realize that when I watched it. I’ve added it to my ranked list of Best Picture winners I’ve seen HERE (I put it as 26th). It beat Oscar nominees: A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof (another Blind Spot choice! Not seen it yet), The Last Picture Show & Nicholas and Alexandra (Oh wow – I’ve never even heard of this). Hmm. Yes, it deserved to win over those I’ve seen although I do like the controversial A Clockwork Orange.

“Crime drama” will never be a favorite genre of mine but I do appreciate when one is really good. This one is very good but I’ve seen better in the genre. I watched The Untouchables, another crime drama, for this Blind Spot thing last year. That was fantastic! I think a big part of that was the fact that I really liked the characters. Well, the Ennio Morricone score helped too. Fantastic score with well-developed, likable characters always works for me. I can’t currently remember the music in The French Connection (think it was jazz?) and I can’t say the characters are exactly likable. These reasons will be why I didn’t connect (ha!) with it quite as much but it’s certainly worth watching if you haven’t seen it. I do understand why it’s so well regarded.


Gene Hackman & Roy Scheider, who play the NYC cops in The French Connection, are both very good (Hackman won the Best Actor Oscar & Scheider was nominated for Best Supporting Actor). Hackman’s Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle is an iconic character & he plays it well. I know this is based on a true story & these characters are (loosely?) based real-life people. I don’t know how true to life the characters are. The thing that some people (aka: millennials. I may get in trouble for that. 😉 ) might struggle with when watching this nowadays is Popeye’s womanizing, racist ways. He’s not easy to like but, as I said, that’s kind of the point. He’s determined to solve the drug smuggling crime in this film and it seems he will do whatever it takes, no matter who gets hurt. This specific job becomes an obsession for him and I do appreciate the strong characterization. However, it does make it hard to root for the supposed “good guys” in this film.

Overall, I did enjoy this film although it won’t become a personal favorite. I do approve of its many awards & its status as a classic. As for Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, he’s an iconic character. He’s flawed but he feels real. I’d rather watch a movie with strong characters like these, even when unlikable, than watch a movie whose characters have no depth.

My Rating: 7.5/10

My 2018 Blind Spot Choices & Blog Resolutions

Well, it’s Year 6 of my blog & Year 3 of me doing this Blind Spot Project where we make ourselves watch 12 movies in a year that we’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Most people choose classics but I like to mix it up with some random shit as well since watching 12 “worthy classics” sounds like a drag. Besides, I have my IMDB Top 250 Challenge for the boring stuff!

Having said that, though, I’ve chosen far too many worthy films this year (some of which will also double up with the IMDB Top 250 thing). Other than the below Christian Slater movie… Sorry – there’s no longer any excuse for me having never seen a movie starring one of my teenage crushes in my favorite movie decade (I’m sure it’s not great). I have to admit that I’m not overly excited about a lot that are on this list, though. Hopefully I’ll feel differently at the end of 2018 since they’re obviously critically acclaimed for a reason. And, again, I have several “alternate” choices due to possible lack of availability and/or time and/or depending on what the hubby will let me watch without him.

So here are My 2018 Blind Spot Choices:

The French Connection

Citizen Kane

Midnight Express

Enter The Dragon

Gandhi

Atonement

Fiddler On The Roof

Quadrophenia

Metropolis

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Gleaming The Cube

The Gold Rush

Alternates:

El Topo
Tetsuo
Solaris (1972)
Once Upon A Time In America
The Right Stuff
Lawrence Of Arabia
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Paprika

2018 Blog Resolutions:

I already covered this on my big five-year blogiversary post but my “blog resolutions” are simple this year: To reduce the time I spend on this blog.

As much as I enjoy this online movie diary, I really need to focus on other stuff going on in my life. I’ll still log everything I watch in 2018 & do “month-in-review” posts where I’ll briefly discuss what I saw & read each month.

Here’s what I’ll still be posting:

Blind Spot Movie Reviews: One each month, probably toward the end of the month.

Reviews of 2018 UK cinema releases: I’ll still try to review all the current films that I watch since this is what people are most interested in discussing.

Monthly Recap Posts At The End Of Each Month: To briefly discuss everything that I watched & read each month.

Other than that, I’ll sometimes post reviews of movies I watch at home if I can be bothered or if they’re in the IMDb Top 250 or if one is so fantastic that I absolutely MUST tell you all about it! 😉 And, maybe once in a blue moon, I’ll
post a Top Ten list. People seem to enjoy them but I’m burnt out & need a break from them.

That’s it! I won’t completely abandon this place and I’ll still be on Twitter (it’s far less time-consuming but also full of angry people who stress me out). I wish you all a wonderful 2018!

Last week I posted all my 2017 Year-End Lists:

IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update: Only 50 Left To Go

My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

My Top Ten Books Read In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017

My Top Ten Movies Of 2017

My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked

This is the second year I’ve done the Blind Spot thing and I’ve really enjoyed it. I saw 24 great films these past two years! (Here’s my ranked list of my 2016 Blind Spot choices)

I think my choices were slightly stronger last year but I still really liked all of the below films except number 12 and I think the top 7 are especially brilliant.

So here are My 2017 Blind Spot Movies, (from my least favorite to my favorite):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ

11. Altered States

10. The Raid

9. The King & I

8. House (Hausu) (1977)

7. The Hustler

6. Jackie Brown

5. Wolf Children

4. Ghost In The Shell

3. The Untouchables

2. Watership Down

1. Rocky

See you tomorrow for my ranked list of all the books that I read in 2017.

Wolf Children (2012) Blind Spot Review

Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪, Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda

Starring: Aoi Miyazaki, Takao Osawa

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a young mother who is left to raise two half-human half-wolf children, Ame and Yuki, after their werewolf father dies.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of all the Blind Spot films I watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite:

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. The King & I
8. House (Hausu) (1977)
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Wolf Children
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. The Untouchables
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

Wolf Children is the second Mamoru Hosoda film I’ve seen after watching Summer Wars as a 2016 Blind Spot choice (I’m watching these out of order – I really need to watch his film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. It’ll be a 2018 Blind Spot choice). Summer Wars was fun & I loved the concept but it’s easy to see why Wolf Children seems to be Hosoda’s most critically acclaimed film so far. It’s a beautifully animated film with far stronger characters than most live-action films can manage these days. 

My Japanese anime experience is mostly limited to the Studio Ghibli stuff, Akira & Ghost In The Shell. The latter two are clearly more hardcore “grown-up” anime while half of the Studio Ghibli stuff is kid-friendly and half is aimed more at teenagers & up. Wolf Children is like the slighty more grown-up & coming-of-age Ghibli films (Spirited Away is the easiest comparison). It’s not as magically bizzare as the Hayao Miyazaki Ghiblis (what IS?!) but I have to admit that I liked it more than most of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis. I’ll definitely be watching the rest of Hosoda’s biggest films but know that I’ve now seen the one considered his best. Oh, and FYI: I noticed that his 2015 film The Boy And The Beast is on Amazon Prime Video if you have that. I need to find the time to watch that.


As I said, I can see why Wolf Children has received so much praise. It’s beautiful to look at, especially the scenes set in the snowy woods. The wolf children themselves are absolutely adorable. I want some wolf babies! Okay, maybe not: I have to admit that the wolf/human sex scene was a little disturbing. I suppose teenage Twilight girls would probably like this film… Oh, shit. I’m not comparing this to Twilight! Sorry!!! This is nothing like Twilight!!!!

Human/Wolf sex aside, the love story is tastefully done and the movie is more about the story of the children as they grow up and try to fit in with the other human children in their community. I loved these two characters with their strong & very different personalities (shy & scared brother, bold & outgoing older sister) and the way that their personalities are affected by their experiences as they grow older. I do always love a good coming of age film and Wolf Children is a great addition to that genre. I’m very glad that I added this to my Blind Spot list and finally got around to watching it. There will definitely be some more anime in my 2018 Blind Spot list, which I’ll post in a couple of weeks.

My Rating: 8/10

See you tomorrow with my month-in-review post & next week for all my 2017 year-end lists! I think I keep this blog going only to be able to do the year-end lists. 😉 Love them! I’ll be posting:

– My IMDB Top 250 Challenge Update
– My 2017 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
– My Top Ten Books Read In 2017
– My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2017 (Release dates prior to 2017)
– My Top Ten Movies Of 2017 (Released in the UK in 2017)

The Untouchables (1987) Blind Spot Review

The Untouchables (1987)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Based on The Untouchables by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley

Starring: Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy García, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of all the Blind Spot films I watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite:

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. The King & I
8. House (Hausu) (1977)
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Wolf Children
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. The Untouchables
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

Well, damn. I liked The Untouchables far more than I was expecting. It’s a great film. I have to admit that “crime” drama, especially when based on true crime, is quite possibly my least favorite movie genre. I don’t know why but know I’m probably in the minority. The Silence Of The Lambs? Not a fan. Not that that was exactly true crime. As for true crime, I couldn’t even make it through that Making A Murderer thing that everyone was talking about on Netflix. I don’t know the outcome. I stopped watching halfway through and wondered why it couldn’t just be a two-hour documentary.

But back to The Untouchables. I have NO clue how true it is to real events. Okay – I looked into in a bit and it looks like this film is almost entirely fiction. That’s fine – true crime upsets me anyway. Well, however much of it is true or not, I thoroughly enjoyed this film as a work of art & entertainment. It deserves more acclaim. And I was probably further drawn into it thanks to the Ennio Morricone score as well. Man I love that f*^king genius. I’d say I’m also a fan of quite a few of Brian De Palma’s older movies and I think this is his best film (that I’ve seen, that is, but I’m pretty sure I’ve now seen all those worth watching). I prefer it to Scarface but, since I’m always completely honest, Carrie is still my personal favorite of his although I know it’s flawed.

As with all the movies that I like the most, The Untouchables is full of strong characters and relationships. In this case, it’s the camaraderie amongst the team put together by Federal Agent Eliot Ness to bring down criminal Al Capone. That team was nicknamed The Untouchables, FYI, as it was claimed that they never took bribes and were incorruptible. These guys here – I loved ’em:

Yeah! Even Sean Connery was likable. Anal bum cover! He was the main partner to Ness and my favorite character. His Irish(?!) accent seemed a bit dodgy but that’s Connery for you. He won an Oscar for this role anyway (yay!) so I guess it didn’t matter. And I’ve never been a huge fan of Andy García but he was super cool in this. To be honest, I thought the only weak one in this film was Robert De Niro as Al Capone. I liked that his part was smaller than I expected (this is meant to be the story of Ness & The Untouchables, after all). He’s just done the gangster thing much better in other movies. Sorry, De Niro fans!

There are some great iconic scenes in this film as well, such as the bit with the baby buggy that most of you will have seen in clips over the years as I had. Oh, and I’ve not even mentioned Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness… I think we all got pretty sick of Costner by the mid-90s, right? I honestly would happily never watch him in another movie again, which is probably a little unfair but, f*^k it, he won’t be reading this. However, I have to admit that he was pretty perfect in the role of Ness so I have zero complaints. Good job, Kevin Costner!

I just want to end this with what my hubby said about the movie when we were discussing it & I think Costner ties into this a bit: This movie would be considered more of a classic up there with the likes of The Godfather if it had been made in the 70s instead of the 80s. As much as I love the 80s, it didn’t produce a lot of all-time classics and the gritty look & feel of Seventies filmmaking would have really given this film the extra edge it seems to be missing. Plus there’s the fact that Kevin Costner is in it… He just doesn’t scream “star of all-time gangster classic!” to me. Why am I so anti-Costner?! I have no idea. He was good in this. I liked this a hell of a lot and find it odd that it isn’t more highly rated (it’s not even in the IMDB Top 250, which I think it deserves to be). Quite frankly, it deserved a Best Picture Oscar nomination as well. These were the nominees that year: The Last Emperor, Broadcast News, Fatal Attraction, Hope and Glory & Moonstruck. Whaaat? Okay – I’ve not seen winner The Last Emperor but The Untouchables is better than all the other nominees (although I have a soft spot for Fatal Attraction). Stupid Oscars. If you haven’t seen The Untouchables and you’re interested in doing the Blind Spot thing, I’d recommend adding it to your list. It’s well worth the watch.

My Rating: 8/10

Altered States (1980) Blind Spot Review

Altered States (1980)

Directed by Ken Russell

Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Altered States is a 1980 American science-fiction horror film directed by Ken Russell and adapted from a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. The film was adapted from Chayefsky’s only novel and is his final screenplay. Both the novel and the film are based on John C. Lilly’s sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like mescaline, ketamine and LSD.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite (I’ve finished watching them all! Just need to review the rest):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. House (Hausu 1977)
8. The King & I
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Ghost In The Shell
4. Wolf Children
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

As with a lot of my Blind Spot picks, Altered States was put on the list as I’ve been meaning to see it for years. I’d heard it described as a “Body Horror” film and I have a strange fascination with those (I did a list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies HERE). I’d say I liked it okay but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. And it’s certainly not a David Cronenberg-style body horror, which is the kind of thing I go for. It IS pretty bizarre, though, so I appreciated that. But I became a bit bored with it overall. Oh well – I still found it far more entertaining than this year’s Blind Spot choice of The Last Temptation Of Christ.


**Yeah, this photo is from Altered States – not The Last Temptation Of Christ…

I didn’t know beforehand that this movie is (I’m assuming rather loosely) based on John C. Lilly’s real-life isolation tank experiments (as in the plot synopsis up there). So I then looked up John C. Lilly (here on Wikipedia) as I admit I’d never heard of him & read a little about his research. Whoa – talk about an interesting life! Man I’m boring. And those 60’s drugs sound crazy, man. His isolation tank experiments seem less bizarre than some of the many other things he researched, such as dolphin communication and what he called “Solid State Intelligence” and “Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.)”. Whaaat? I can’t even explain those – just read the Wikipedia entry. Has anyone read his work? I think I’d be confused as hell. But I doubt he ever actually “devolved” into some kind of apelike creature like William Hurt did in this movie (Sorry – Spoiler??). I’m sure this movie was pretty “out-there” in 1980 but parts of it are very silly when watching it now for the first time.

Sorry – this is going to be a short review. I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. I think the science behind it all was just way too far over my head. Or maybe it would help to watch this while using mescaline, ketamine and LSD to better understand Hurt’s experiences while drugged-up & suspended in the isolation tank??? I have to say I’ve always wanted to try those float therapy places where you float in water in a dark tank for an hour or whatever. I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to turn into this:

Or this:

But I wouldn’t mind looking like this:

The naked lady is actress Blair Brown, who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else. Well, apparently she was in Dogville but I can’t say I remember her character. Anyway, she plays William Hurt’s wife in this & I thought she was really good. I felt sorry for her character having to put up with all of Hurt’s weird, rambling, intellectual mumbo jumbo. He treated her pretty crap and I kept forgetting they had kids together as his family took a backseat to his research. Hell – one of their kids was even played by Drew Barrymore & I somehow managed to totally miss that since they were barely a part of the film. I love Drew! Oh, Altered States doesn’t manage to make it onto My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies list I did ages ago, so… Good! I won’t have to update that list. Hurt did well with the role – it’s just such a hard character to relate to in any way.

I probably sound more negative about this film than I actually feel. I think it’s worth watching as it’s quite unique and I did enjoy some of the imagery, such as in these last few photos I’ve put in this post. I wish there’d been more of that but we also had simian Hurt running around with his monkey balls out & crucified, multi-eyed, Jesus-goat-thingy Hurt and it was hard to take the movie too seriously as these specific effects haven’t aged as well as the more psychedelic scenes have. I’m glad I finally saw Altered States and another Ken Russell film other than Tommy. I prefer Tommy, but that’ll mainly be because of the music.

My Rating: 6.5/10



**I think that’s Drew in this movie, although I can’t say for sure. Aww. So cute!

The Raid (2011) Blind Spot Review

The Raid (2011)
US Title – The Raid: Redemption
Serbuan maut
ザ・レイド

Directed & Written by Gareth Huw Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Sathya

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Raid is a 2011 Indonesian martial arts action–survival film in which an elite squad is tasked to infiltrate a high-rise building – run by a ruthless drug lord – located in the slums of Jakarta. Among them is Rama (played by Uwais), a rookie member of the team.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

9. The Last Temptation Of Christ
8. The Raid
7. The King & I
6. The Hustler
5. Jackie Brown
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

Even though The Raid is second from the bottom, I did really like it. This is just a strong list of movies! The only one I can’t say I really liked at all was The Last Temptation Of Christ.

I was expecting to maybe like The Raid more than I did, though. I loved the fast-paced action and the whole concept of battling their way through this high-rise building, which is such a simple yet brilliant idea for an action movie. And the movie does kick ass (although it was a bit too violent for me – I’m such a wuss).

I would never say that action movies are a favorite genre of mine but I do enjoy a really good one. The problem with action movies is that there are a lot of really bad ones and, while I don’t expect all of them to have much depth and am happy to sometimes just switch off my brain & be entertained, I do want to at least care about some of the characters. For me, an action movie either needs to be a) SO awesome & kick-ass that flaws in writing and weak character development can be overlooked or b) well-written with some really great characters & just enough action to keep things interesting. I prefer option b but option b with kick-ass action would be great. I’m trying to think of a “perfect” action movie. Hmm…. I don’t know. Maybe Aliens? Although I first think of sci-fi with that. The Terminator is another one. Maybe I only really like action within science fiction. What’s my point? I have no idea. I think what I’m saying is that The Raid is mostly option a. It’s a kick-ass action movie but is far more shallow than I was expecting after all the praise it’s had. I really liked our main “hero”, Rama, so that kept me caring about the final outcome but everyone else is as expendable as they’re written to be.

I did enjoy this movie so don’t want to come across as too negative. In thinking about what I consider to be my all-time favorite films, very few are from the action or crime genres. If this movie sounds like your type of thing, it’s one you should definitely watch if you haven’t. It’s a thoroughly entertaining film and I’m very much looking forward to seeing its sequel, which is even more highly rated for some reason. I’m hoping we maybe get a little more story & time spent on our main characters in that one?

I’m going to end by comparing The Raid to some other films. One obvious one is Die Hard (what with the whole baddies taking over a high-rise building thing). I’m not a huge lover of Die Hard like most people my age but it’s an action classic. Which is the better of the two? Probably Die Hard, and this is due to better characters. Another is the one a lot of people compare this to: Dredd. Although Dredd came out after The Raid, I saw it first & really liked it so it probably made seeing The Raid a little less interesting for me. Which is better? In a way, I think I enjoyed Dredd slightly more but The Raid is the better film. Dredd is 100% option a. No character development, shallow as hell, but really f*^king cool. I’d love to see them make a Dredd sequel but I don’t give a shit about what happens to the characters whereas I want to see The Raid 2 to see what happens since I cared just enough about (whoever may or may not have survived…? Spoilers??? 😉 ). Finally, it may seem an odd comparison but as I saw The Raid & Train To Busan recently, both are still in my mind. Well, they’re both foreign language films & they’re from the two genres that usually have the weakest characters: action & horror. The better film? Definitely Train To Busan. Why? Great characters! In a horror film!! So, it is possible. I suppose I just wanted a little something more from The Raid. I had a lot of fun watching it but it lacks that extra “something” that makes a film a true all-time classic.

My Rating: 7.5/10

After finally seeing The Raid, I definitely wouldn’t want to piss off Kanjiklub.

Rocky (1976) Blind Spot Review

Happy Birthday to Sylvester Stallone, who turns 71 today! Guess I better review Rocky, which I’ve finally watched for Blind Spot 2017. Finally, right?!

Rocky (1976)

Directed by John G. Avildsen

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Music by Bill Conti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

My Opinion:

Here’s a quick list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched so far this year, from my least favorite to my favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

So, yeah – I liked Rocky the most (so far). It’s one of those movies that’s so iconic & has been spoofed so often that it felt like I’d seen it already anyway. I suppose that’s why it’s taken me so long to finally get around to watching the whole thing. I’ve seen bits & pieces of it over the years and knew the ending. It was definitely worth sitting down to finally watch it from start to finish, though. About damn time, right?!

Watching Rocky also means I can add another movie seen to my IMDB Top 250 Project (It’s currently at number 218. WTF? Too low). Yay! Another one crossed off my list (I’m never gonna finish watching those 250). Oh, and I can add it to my list of My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners! Okay – I’ve just updated that post so you can go have a look to see where I’ve placed Rocky. Nah, screw getting extra views – I’ve put it at number six. It’s good. It’s worthy of its status. I’m glad it won Best Picture. What did it beat? *Googling now*… All The President’s Men (not seen it), Bound For Glory (wtf is that?), Network (okay but Rocky is better), and Taxi Driver (erm, like Rocky I feel like I’ve seen it but don’t think I’ve ever seen it all the way through. Rocky is better anyway).

Should I get around to reviewing Rocky? I’ll be honest – I don’t really want to. It’s been around forever and has such loyal, diehard fans that you should really just go read reviews done by those who have a strong personal connection to this character and the film’s themes (like Eric of The IPC – this is his review). As the plot synopsis above says, this film is all about “going the distance” and believing in yourself and all that feelgood hoohah that so many movies attempt but very few manage to achieve without feeling phony & contrived. Rocky is genuine.

I was quite surprised when looking Rocky up at IMDB for this review to see that it has quite a low “metascore” (that’s the rating from “professional critics”). This is where professional critics piss me off. How miserable do you have to be in life to not at least be slightly moved by one of the best feelgood movies out there? Admittedly, Rocky is going to feel somewhat dated in its themes nowadays as sooooo many movies have tried to do similar since. But this came out in 1976 and there hadn’t yet really been any movies quite like it (that I can think of, anyway, but I’m probably wrong because I often am). It seems like uplifting, feelgood movies often get slammed by critics. Who wants dreary & depressing all the time?! Just because a movie is depressing, it doesn’t always make it good. And just because a movie is uplifting, it doesn’t always make it bad. Yeah, I’m also one of those lovers of feelgood galore The Shawshank Redemption. It makes me happy. And that’s okay, professional critics! It’s okay to be moved by a film because it makes you feel good! I happen to think that truly good filmmaking is the ability to make an audience love your film because they connect so deeply with your characters and/or your story. I know that Rocky is one of those types of films. Like my Shawshank, I can fully understand why Rocky means so much to some people.

Shit. I’ve still not really talked about Rocky yet in my Rocky “review”. Let’s start by talking about the character of Rocky. Am I a fan of Sylvester Stallone? No, not in the slightest. Is he a good actor? Nope. But that doesn’t matter. As Rocky, he’s perfect. He IS Rocky. I just read this little tidbit at Wikipedia:

“United Artists liked Stallone’s script, and viewed it as a possible vehicle for a well-established star such as Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan. Stallone appealed to the producers to be given a chance to star in the film. He later said that he would never have forgiven himself if the film became a success with someone else in the lead.”

Seriously?? Those choices would’ve been SO wrong to play Rocky and the movie wouldn’t have achieved so much success without Stallone in the role. I’m glad he fought for the part (and like the fact that the movie itself was an underdog that went on to beat the odds, just like Rocky himself). I think, having written the script, it really shows in Stallone’s performance how the character is a part of him and that we wouldn’t have gotten the same genuine feel from another actor. It’s why Rocky became such a beloved character. I can see why this movie propelled Stallone to fame and why he still has loads of, let’s face it, dude fans. He’ll still never ever be a favorite actor of mine but I certainly have more respect for him now. He makes this movie what it is. So don’t avoid this film if, like me, you don’t necessarily love Stallone.

Also, don’t avoid this movie if you don’t like sports movies or boxing. Yes, those elements are what have made this movie one that has made many manly men freely admit to crying manly man tears over. I f*^king hate sports. All sports. Especially boxing! Rocky isn’t really a sports movie and it has about as much actual boxing in it as British households have on Boxing Day (which is probably a little bit as family get-togethers at Christmastime can be very stressful). Seriously – I decided to torture myself by watching this & Million Dollar Baby over the same weekend back in February. Million Dollar Baby has a million times more boxing in it (but still not loads). However, I ended up loving them both. So, if I can like two “boxing movies” (that aren’t really about boxing), I promise that you can too! And one is a feelgood movie and one is depressing as f*^k but both are good. (But critics probably prefer the depressing one, as I previously bitched about in this review already). Where was I? Rambling, as always. There’s hardly any boxing in Rocky. Just FYI. Who knew??? (But I still don’t like Raging Bull very much. Certainly not a feelgood movie and probably a miserable critic favorite).

Oh! Burgess Meredith! I love Burgess Meredith. He was actually the biggest reason I wanted to finally make myself watch this film. And he’s great in the role of Rocky’s trainer. He’s perfect. I badly want to watch all the Rocky films now (but I’m waiting for hubby to make the time since he says he wants to watch them with me. Hint hint). I’m not stupid and know the rest aren’t meant to be great but I want to see what happens and I’m hoping Meredith has a bigger part in the second film. But….. I’m not sure what happens beyond that (other than finally getting to hear Eye Of The Tiger in, what, number three?). I’ve done my best to avoid the Rocky series spoilers this long but it hasn’t been easy!!! FYI: don’t read the synopsis for Creed if you KNOW NOTHING because I actually didn’t know… Something about someone. Ha. Damn. All I know is that Rocky & Adrian better stay together throughout them all or I’m going to be seriously pissed off (don’t tell me).

You gotta love Rocky & Adrian’s relationship. I loved those two crazy kids and their weird ass romance. It was sweet. And a little nerdy. They’re made for each other. Hollywood nepotism gets on my nerves but these two are such a perfect match that I’ll let that “how many f*^king Coppolas ARE there?!” thing with Talia Shire slide. At least her then-husband didn’t compose the music for the film, as originally planned. Can you imagine having Rocky without Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now song? No. You cannot. That song and its montage scene is one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Oh, and Carl Weathers was cool too. I look forward to seeing him in more in this series (He IS in more, right? How many? More than Meredith?? Wait. No. Don’t tell me).

Summary:

Rocky is good. Rocky makes grown men cry for some strange reason. I can’t claim to have gotten at all misty-eyed while watching it and I won’t pretend that I fully connected with it or that it moved me in the way it has moved a lot of (mainly male) viewers. However, it deserves the love it still receives to this day and I can fully understand why some people love it. It’s one that all film lovers should watch at least once if they want to continue calling themselves film lovers. No, it’s not a new all-time favorite of mine personally but I enjoyed it and I especially liked the characters, which is the most important thing to me when it comes to movies. Rocky lives up to its reputation and slightly exceeded my expectations.

My Rating: 8.5/10

*I saw this movie back in February and I’ve only seen it the one time so hopefully all these pictures I used are from the first movie & not the sequels or else some Rocky-loving dude will probably come along & yell at me… 😉

The King And I (1956) Blind Spot Review

The King And I (1956)

Directed by Walter Lang

Based on The King and I by Oscar Hammerstein II

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, Maureen Hingert, Martin Benson, Rex Thompson

Music by Richard Rodgers

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The King and I is a 1956 American musical film based on the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical The King and I, based in turn on the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. That novel in turn was based on memoirs written by Anna Leonowens, who became school teacher to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s.

My Opinion:

Well, it looks like we’re halfway through the year & I’ve managed to watch 8 of my 12 2017 Blind Spot movies. Not too bad! So, I might as well have a look at where I think I’d rank each of them so far. From least favorite to favorite:

8. The Last Temptation Of Christ
7. The Raid
6. The King & I
5. The Hustler
4. Ghost In The Shell
3. Jackie Brown
2. Watership Down
1. Rocky

I’ve really liked all my movie choices so far other than The Last Temptation Of Christ (which was a bit of a snoozefest). So I have to say this Blind Spot thing is something I really do enjoy & the one thing I’d like to continue while I don’t really have time for much else on this blog at the moment.

There are still quite a few classic musicals that I’ve never seen so I’ll probably try to do one each year as a Blind Spot choice (next year’s will probably be Fiddler On The Roof). I do love a few of them but, overall, musicals aren’t exactly a favorite genre of mine. I’ve now updated My Top Ten Movie Musicals post and The King & I just makes it in at number ten. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of The Sound Of Music or The Wizard Of Oz but it’s a lovely film definitely worth watching and one that I’m happy to have shared with my eight-year-old. I’m also happy to say that it met with her approval as well! She especially liked all the kids that are in the film and still often quotes Yul Brynner’s “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!”, which I find adorable. I’m loving sharing classic films with my kid & often feel like we don’t get enough of these types of movies nowadays. What are future generations going to share with their kids when it comes to movies? Baywatch???

I know this is one of quite a few films for which Marni Nixon provided the singing voice. I’ll never quite understand when they have a different person provide the singing voice. Surely you can find someone who can act and sing??? Anyway – Kerr was good in this (and I didn’t find her lip syncing obvious) but it was Brynner’s King who really made the film for me. Well, okay – it’s the two characters together which really makes the film work because of their completely different lifestyles & values. Who doesn’t enjoy the whole “opposites attract” thing?? That’s why it’s used so often in stories! But Brynner was especially fun to watch in this and I’d have to say I enjoyed the film more than I expected to after it got off to a fairly slow start.

I think The King & I has probably not aged quite as well as some films due to feeling out of date and due to, in my opinion, not having as many memorable songs as a lot of other famous musicals. The only one I already knew beforehand was Getting To Know You (which I’ve shared at the end of this post). I expected there to be more “Hey, I know this song” moments as I watched this. It’s not a huge complaint, though. I really enjoyed this movie & would happily watch it again. I liked the story, the characters, the costumes, the song & dance numbers, and the fact that The King & I just feels like an all-time classic musical in a way that La La Land just doesn’t feel like something that will be held in quite such high regard 60 years from now.

My Rating: 7.5/10

**This was meant to be my Blind Spot Movie for June but I’ve not had much time to write reviews. So I’ve quickly done two in one go! I’ll be posting the review for my July Blind Spot Movie, Rocky, tomorrow. 🙂

Ghost In The Shell (1995) Blind Spot Review

Ghost In The Shell (1995)
攻殻機動隊
Gōsuto in za sheru / Kōkaku kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell / Mobile Armored Riot Police)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii

Based on Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

Starring Voice Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Ghost in the Shell follows the hunt of the public security agency Section 9 for a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. With the assistance of her team, Motoko Kusanagi tracks and finds their suspect, only to be drawn into a complex sequence of political intrigue and a cover-up as to the identity and goals of the Puppet Master.

My Opinion:

So this was an “alternate” Blind Spot choice of mine (I guess I need to kick one of the main ones off the list now). I decided to watch this because a) the live-action American remake was out recently and b) I noticed the running time of only 82 minutes! Okay – the running time was the biggest reason. Why are so many “worthy” films at least 2.5 hours long? I’m too busy!

I’m glad I did finally get around to watching this. I really enjoyed it. I do want to see the Scarlett Johansson one at some point too just to see how they recreated certain scenes but know that it will of course pale greatly in comparison to the original. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who’ve seen both and from fans of the original.


I’m not going to write a lot about this film as I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to Japanese anime (other than my beloved Studio Ghibli). It’s a genre I’m becoming more & more interested in and want to explore by at least watching some of the most well known stuff. I watched Akira as a Blind Spot choice last year (I decided to dive in at the deep end!). Akira isn’t quite like anything I’d seen before and I loved it (it was my favorite of my twelve 2016 Blind Spot films).

I think Ghost In The Shell is fantastic too and I can understand why it’s so popular but, unfortunately, I wasn’t as blown away as I was with Akira. I think a lot of that is probably thanks to me seeing things like The Matrix and even Ex Machina before seeing Ghost, meaning that Ghost feels almost dated now even though it came beforehand and clearly had a big influence on a lot of later films.

Okay – I don’t think “dated” is at all the right word to use… The animation is beautiful and the story is probably even more relevant now than in 1995. I think anyone who enjoys this type of science fiction would definitely like this film if they haven’t seen it. I suppose it’s just that the themes in Ghost In The Shell have been explored in loads of entertainment over the years (and especially in the years that followed its release), meaning that it doesn’t feel quite as original in 2017 as it will have 22 years ago. But it’s still a damn good science fiction anime & worthy of its status as a classic in this genre. There’s a lot of iconic imagery & an amazing musical montage (I’ve included a clip of this below). I’m happy to say that Ghost In The Shell was well worth my time & a worthy addition to my list of Blind Spot movies.

My Rating: 8/10

Oh, and I love this Mondo poster created by artist Martin Ansin

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) Blind Spot Review

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie

Music by Peter Gabriel

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short & I’ll be totally honest – The Last Temptation Of Christ was on my 2017 Blind Spot list mainly because I wanted to see David Bowie’s role in it. So now I can say I have! All five minutes (at most) of it, toward the end of the 2 hour & 44 minute film. I suppose I also wanted to add another Martin Scorsese film to my ranked list of his films that I’ve seen (it doesn’t quite make it into the top ten, out of the 12 I’ve seen, nor does it make the list of My Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies). Not gonna lie – out of almost a year & a half of doing this Blind Spot thing, this film is easily my least favorite & was the biggest struggle to work my way through.

I won’t get into the film’s story and religious beliefs. I watched this because I’m a film fan & it’s a movie by a very respected director with some big name stars (and because: David Bowie). No, “biblical dramas” are not at all the type of genre I go for (give me sci-fi) so that wasn’t going to help but it’s definitely overlong and it didn’t feel as, I don’t know… As well put together as most of Scorsese’s other work? I know nothing about filmmaking but this just isn’t up there with the likes of something like Goodfellas (also a genre that’s not at all my type of thing but a good film is a good film, whatever the genre). Not that this isn’t a good film… It must be a decent piece of filmmaking considering that Scorsese was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for it, the film’s one & only nomination. Hmm. It’s very hard to review respected films that just really didn’t speak to you personally! That’s why I’m keeping this very short for a Blind Spot review. I’d love to instead hear from fellow bloggers who, unlike me, have strong opinions one way or another about this film. I do know it was & still is very controversial & hated by some while there are others who think it’s another Scorsese masterpiece.

The acting is solid and Dafoe does a good job but I also felt that the acting let the film down a bit. I didn’t think “Wow – so-and-so was brilliant in this film!” the way I’ve thought some of the actors were pretty amazing in the majority of Scorsese’s other films. Some felt very miscast (Keitel) while some are actors I’ve never been particularly impressed with (Hershey). Okay okay – and my beloved Bowie! I fully admit that acting was never his biggest talent… 😉 However, he did okay in his very small role & didn’t feel as out of place as some of those in larger roles. Harry Dean Stanton was a highlight, though – he’s such an underrated actor.

Overall, I’m sorry to say that this is one of those films that I won’t remember much of a year or so from now. There weren’t really any specific scenes that stood out in my mind (we all know the story already anyway so I saw pretty much exactly what I expected, although this is a somewhat alternative version). I was especially disappointed that the acting didn’t stand out for me and it seriously felt even longer than it already was, especially at the end when we’re given a long look at an alternative life for Jesus? Sorry. I didn’t love it. It’s not a bad film but I’d only recommend it to those interested in religious dramas or to serious Martin Scorsese fans who want to see all he’s done. Ugh. I feel like a bad blogger for not loving a Scorsese film.

My Rating: 6/10

Only I would review The Last Temptation Of Christ & Smurfs: The Lost Village in the same week… Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Jackie Brown (1997) Blind Spot Review 

Happy Birthday to Quentin Tarantino, who is 54 today. I figured this would be a good time to finally review my 2017 Blind Spot choice of Jackie Brown. And tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Hateful Eight, which I’ve finally just watched as well. At least I liked one of these two movies! Here’s my review for Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Based on Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

Starring: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Bridget Fonda, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A middle-aged woman finds herself in the middle of a huge conflict that will either make her a profit or cost her life.

My Opinion:

I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to finally watching Jackie Brown, the only Tarantino-directed film I’d never watched (okay – not counting that Four Rooms movie or his guest director credit on Sin City, which isn’t a movie that I liked anyway).

Jackie Brown is an odd one in that I’m of course used to Tarantino’s style now & this one has a very different feel to it. I suppose the main reason for this is that the film is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch instead of a Tarantino original story like his other films. I think this works in the film’s favor but I’d also hazard a guess that it isn’t the number one favorite film for most diehard Tarantino fans.

I’ll be honest – I think someone needs to rein Tarantino in a bit. Not long after watching Jackie Brown I watched the overblown The Hateful Eight and it definitely made me appreciate Brown much more. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of Jackie Brown. It’s a good but uneven film and, although I confess that I know nothing about the book and have never read anything by Elmore Leonard in my life, it feels pretty obvious which bits were probably embellished by Tarantino. There’s a welcome subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown that’s especially missing in Tarantino’s most current films. Don’t get me wrong – I like his movies and know they’re going to be over the top (Kill Bill being my favorite, which is OTT to the extreme, but in a good way). But…. What am I trying to say? I don’t know. I think Tarantino is just another director who has come to believe his own hype a bit too much & he needs to take a step back and focus on the great writing that made his older films like Reservoir Dogs such a success. Okay – I’m focusing too much on not liking The Hateful Eight. More about that one tomorrow but I can’t help but compare since I watched these two almost back to back & they’re so very different.

I loved the overall mood of Jackie Brown, which was of course helped once again by the use of a truly fantastic soundtrack. If there’s one thing that Tarantino always does right, it’s picking the music for his films. I loved this soundtrack so much. Best music (as in, songs as opposed to score) that I’ve heard in a film in a long time! Remember when movie soundtracks used to be good like this?? Sorry to go on about this so much but it’s not something that is done as well in films nowadays. When I think back to my teen years, I bought loads of movie (song) soundtracks. There were so many good ones then. What the hell happened? The music in a movie is very important to me as I think it plays such an integral part in creating a film’s mood. I keep saying “song” to differentiate as I’m actually more of a lover of original film scores than of “song” soundtracks usually but, when a movie puts together a lot of previously recorded music as perfectly as Jackie Brown does, it makes me happy. Hey – at least I have to give credit to Tarantino for getting Ennio Morricone to score The Hateful Eight. I worship people like Morricone & John Williams the way that most people worship the pretty celebrities who are in front of the cameras. Maybe I’m weird?! And, shit – I’m talking about The Hateful Eight again. Sorry.

As I said, there’s a subtlety to parts of Jackie Brown unlike in Tarantino’s more recent works and it’s these understated scenes that were easily my favorite bits of this movie. Pam Grier & Robert Forster were brilliant and I was happiest when the movie went back to the scenes involving their characters. Loved their chemistry! I totally wanted a love story there (if you’ve not seen it, I won’t say if this happens or not).

There are bigger name stars in this one (Robert De Niro and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson) but the scenes involving them were the ones that I felt had a little too much of that “Tarantino vibe” going on. Who the hell doesn’t love Samuel L. Jackson, right? He’s awesome. But he’s his usual “Tarantino-self” in this and, for once, I enjoyed having those Grier & Forster scenes involving more than just Tarantino/Jackson sweary banter and extreme violence.

Speaking of extreme violence, this is the least violent Tarantino movie (well, maybe that Four Rooms thing isn’t violent?). I think it’s the first of his films that I was able to watch with my eyes fully open the entire time! I mean, it’s of course plenty violent but it’s not explicitly shown. I’m a wuss. I prefer to not see full-on gore. Yet Kill Bill is my favorite so I suppose that makes no sense… Eh, I just love a good revenge story (and women who kick ass). And I have yet to watch all of Kill Bill with my eyes fully open. I guess, looking at it that way, Jackie Brown is the first & only Tarantino movie that I’ve actually seen. 😉 And I appreciated that.


Perhaps Tarantino should try adapting someone else’s work again sometime. I do like his style and I didn’t mind Jackie Brown having that Tarantino stamp on it but I also liked the way in which adapting someone else’s work meant he kind of managed to keep the story more on track & to not go so medieval on our asses. Again, I think Jackie Brown is also unfortunately somewhat uneven because of this and it’s certainly not a perfect film but I do think it’s better than several of Tarantino’s other films (yet I don’t think it’s widely accepted as so?). I did a post a very long time ago ranking the Tarantino films I’ve seen, which I’ve finally updated HERE. Have a look if you really want to see where I’ve placed Jackie Brown (although you can probably guess where The Hateful Eight ranks!).

Jackie Brown is a good film. It probably deserves more credit than it gets and I’m glad to have added it to my Blind Spot list as it was well worth finally watching. Grier & Forster are the true stars who make this film and it’s unfortunate that they’re somewhat overshadowed by “more famous” names being in the movie as well. I have a confession: I seriously don’t know Robert Forster. I know his face but never could have told you his name and had to look him up after watching this. He’s been in 177 things!!! And I watch loads of movies & know my actors. Is he one of these actors who flies under the radar & won’t get any proper recognition until he’s gone? Or have I just seriously overlooked him for years? He’s so damn good in this & I’m happy to see that he got an Oscar nomination for this role. But… Where the f*^k is Pam Grier’s nomination?!? What the f*^k, you m*^herf*^king Academy?!? I’m going to go Samuel L. Jackson on your asses! She’s great. She’s super sexy at fortysomething. I want her & Forster’s characters to live happily ever after (maybe they do? I’m not saying). I’m going to go listen to that Delfonics song now…

My Rating: 8/10

Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time – The Delfonics:

And here’s the opening of Jackie Brown, with Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street. God I love this soundtrack. Can I just post YouTube videos of the whole soundtrack??:

Who Is He (And What Is He To You?) – Bill Withers:

And this one is bizarre. I like it! Good job, Tarantino. I’ll stop posting videos now. I need to buy this soundtrack… The Lions And The Cucumber – The Vampire Sound Incorporation:

Wait. Gotta end with Pam Grier! Long Time Woman – Pam Grier:

Shit. I didn’t post Strawberry Letter 23. Or Street Life… (This is a good soundtrack. Watch the movie. Listen to the songs). 🙂

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: 8.5/10

**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.