Million Dollar Baby (2004) IMDB Top 250 Review

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 87 today. This time last year, I did a week of Clint Eastwood reviews (you can see My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE, updated to now include Million Dollar Baby).

I still wouldn’t exactly call Eastwood a favorite actor of mine but I’m glad that I finally explored some of his biggest films last year as I liked them a hell of a lot more than I expected to. Million Dollar Baby was still a big omission, however, so I’m glad I’ve finally watched that now as well. And, again, I like another Eastwood movie far more than I was expecting to! And, of course, the awesome Morgan Freeman is in it as well (who I would call a favorite actor & whose birthday is tomorrow – guess what Top Ten List I’ll be doing tomorrow…). 😉 Okay – I’ll shut up & review the movie now.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Based on Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner by F.X. Toole

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel, Mike Colter, Lucia Rijker, Brían F. O’Byrne, Anthony Mackie, Margo Martindale, Riki Lindhome, Michael Peña, Benito Martinez, Grant L. Roberts

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 172 (as of 01/01/13)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
This film is about an underappreciated boxing trainer, the mistakes that haunt him from his past, and his quest for atonement by helping an underdog amateur boxer achieve her dream of becoming a professional.

My Opinion:

I avoided watching this film for years. I was like “It’s a boxing drama? Pass!”. (Kind of funny that I’ve just watched Rocky for the very first time the same week that I watched this. But I digress). Mainly, though, I avoided this because, when it came out, some annoying assholes decided to spoil the whole damn plot. So I’ve always known exactly how this ends. And that pisses me off. I know it’s not always possible to avoid spoilers but, in the case of this film, there was an uproar since what happens went against the beliefs of some people and they felt the need to warn the public (or something like that) before the film had even been fully released (if I remember correctly). Annoying.

Anyway! This is a great film. I expected to possibly find it contrived (films that try too hard to pull on the heartstrings & just come across as phony piss me off as much as people who spoil films). I expected to not be affected by this film since I knew the whole damn plot already. But it’s a good, heartfelt drama that came across as quite genuine and had fantastic actors playing likeable characters you wanted to see succeed. I sure as shit can’t say I exactly “enjoyed” it (holy hell! I don’t do well with serious dramas). But it’s not the overhyped Oscar bait I had kind of feared it might be.

Come to think of it, I guess this means I should also update My Top Ten Best Picture Oscar Winners list at some point with both this & Rocky. That list includes all 50(ish) Best Pictures that I’ve seen and I have to say that both these damn boxing dramas potentially break into my top ten. Easily top 20 for sure. I’ll have to think about it some more! They’re certainly my favorite boxing movies (Raging Bull didn’t thrill me…). 😉

It’s a shame that Hilary Swank kind of disappeared into bad movie obscurity after this & Boys Don’t Cry (a movie that manages to be even more depressing than this one). Clearly these sort of heart wrenching dramas did suit her but you can’t blame her for trying other things – Starring in nothing but these sort of films would probably mess with your head eventually. I really liked her character in this. Her enthusiasm and single-minded determination are infectious in the same sort of way that made us all like Rocky Balboa and to want him to succeed.

Swank & Eastwood make a great team and their relationship by the end of the film is beautiful & heartbreaking. Million Dollar Baby probably gets somewhat ignored compared to Eastwood’s full-on “guy” movies & bromances but, as great as I think he was in dude movies with the likes of Lee Van Cleef, his mentor/protégée and ultimately father/daughter-like relationship here is a welcome change (and just as good & valid as the bromances). Swank & Eastwood make this film.

But there’s still some male camaraderie for anyone needing that as well. Freeman plays Eastwood’s ex-boxer friend (and… co-owner? or maybe just a trainer living in the gym Eastwood owns. feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Anyway, I love Freeman and he’s as great as always and another reason why I ended up liking this film much more than I’d been expecting. There’s a story on the side involving skinny little Jay Baruchel wanting to be a boxer & Freeman taking him under his wing. I really liked this story as well (plus that cool confrontation involving Freeman & one of the young boxers). The main story involving Swank is of course the most important but it was good to get a bit more to the movie besides just that.

I just have to end by saying: Oh man – I hated the f*%k out of Swank’s family in this! Which made her character all the more likeable. To put a horrible upbringing behind her & to try to live her dream is the uplifting sort of message people look for in a good story. Which is another reason why I think some people were probably angered by the ending of this film. What IS the ultimate message at the end? But life isn’t always fair & a Hollywood ending in real life is rare. I do watch movies for escapism and do prefer a happy ending but I also can’t get angry at a movie telling a story in a realistic way. I think some people felt cheated by this film. I think we were given a good film with powerful performances & a message of determination and friendship. It’s not an easy watch but it’s a good film I’m glad to have finally seen.

My Rating: 8/10

My Top Ten DJs/Disc Jockeys In Movies

I’ve always loved disc jockeys in movies. There should be more movies featuring DJs! Well, there probably are – I’m sure I’ve missed some on this list.

I first thought about doing this list after watching the “meh” movie We Are Your Friends starring Zac Efron as an EDM DJ. But I never got around to doing it. Then I thought about it again after watching Clint Eastwood as a DJ with a stalker in Play Misty For Me. But I still didn’t do the list. Well, I noticed that today would’ve been Robin Williams’ birthday so I figured I’d finally post this list as he was so great as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam. (R.I.P. Robin Williams) 😦

This list is a mix of real & fictional DJs. The order is, hmm… Roughly based on how “cool” I think the DJ character is (but don’t take the order too seriously). There are also a lot of movies I haven’t seen so I’ve listed a few at the end.

Here are My Top Ten DJs In Movies:

10. Adrienne Barbeau as Stevie Wayne in The Fog

9. Wolfman Jack as the DJ in American
Graffiti
& The Midnight Hour


8. George Clinton & Martin Lawrence as DJs in House Party

7. Steven Wright as DJ K-Billy, host of Super Sounds Of The ’70s in Reservoir Dogs

6. Clint Eastwood as Dave Garver in Play Misty For Me

5. Cleavon Little as Super Soul in Vanishing Point

4. Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam

3. Daft Punk as “Masked DJs” in TRON: Legacy

2. Lynne Thigpen as the DJ in The Warriors

1. Christian Slater as Hard Harry in Pump Up The Volume

Honorable Mentions:

– Howard Stern as himself in Private Parts
– Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Señor Love Daddy in Do The Right Thing
– Zac Efron as Cole in We Are Your Friends
– Skrillex as the DJ in Wreck-It Ralph (I had no idea he was in this until I started looking up movies I may have missed for this list. Cute! Here he is):

Movies Not On The List Because I Need To Re-Watch Them:

– The Truth About Cats & Dogs
– Trick Or Treat
– Airheads

Movies Not On The List Because I Haven’t Seen Them:

– Pontypool (really want to see this)
– Pirate Radio (aka The Boat That Rocked)
– Talk To Me
– Talk Radio
– FM

I’ll leave you with a clip from The Warriors. If you haven’t seen either this or Pump Up The Volume, I highly recommend them as they’re both absolute favorites of mine.

My Blog’s May 2016 Recap

When did it become June?! My life is going by so fast!!!! Ugh. I mean… Happy June, everyone! Here’s a lazy recap of the crap I posted in May. 🙂

I posted quite a few movie reviews in May, including finally knocking out some of my own IMDB Top 250 reviews! Such as… Sunset Boulevard, For A Few Dollars More, A Fistful Of Dollars, Paths Of Glory, A Separation and On The Waterfront. Yeah, I won’t be repeating that anytime soon.

My May Blind Spot movie was Play Misty For Me, which was one of several Eastwood reviews I did for my blog’s Clint Eastwood Week. I ended that week with a post of My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies.

POSTS

My Most Popular Post: My double review of Turbo Kid & Space Station 76! Which was actually posted in April but, thanks to Eric of The IPC watching Space Station 76 after my review & loving it, we got to talking on Twitter about it with some people who helped make the film. My views on that post kind of shot through the roof after that. I like to think that more people have checked these two movies out now. 🙂

My most popular post actually posted in May was my list of My Top Ten Songs That Are Actually About Sex. This was very hard (haha… hard) to put together since, well, 99% of songs are about sex.

My Favorite Post: I’m not sure… I think it’s between my list of My Top Ten Roller Coaster Scenes In Movies & my review of the movie Sing Street as I thoroughly enjoyed that film (it’s my favorite 2016 release so far).

MOVIES REVIEWED

My Most Popular Movie Review: Well, as I said, it ended up being my double review of Turbo Kid & Space Station 76 due to a freak of nature. My next most popular review was for the mediocre Bad Neighbours 2 (aka Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising).

All Movies Reviewed (ranked best to worst):
Sing Street
Sunset Boulevard
Play Misty For Me
For A Few Dollars More
A Fistful Of Dollars
Captain America: Civil War
Everybody Wants Some!!
Paths Of Glory
A Separation
On The Waterfront
The Jungle Book (2016)
Bad Neighbours 2 (aka Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising)

MOVIES WATCHED

In Cinema (ranked best to worst):
Sing Street
Captain America: Civil War
Everybody Wants Some!!
Bad Neighbours 2 (aka Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising)

At Home (ranked best to worst):
The Dead Pool
Animalympics
Wizards
The DUFF
Goosebumps
Heavy Metal Parking Lot
Hush
Annabelle

TOP TEN LISTS

Top Ten Movies With Colors In The Title
Top Ten Songs That Are Actually About Sex
Top Ten Roller Coaster Scenes In Movies
Top Ten Helena Bonham Carter Movies

SEARCH TERMS

My Top Search Term: “the warriors.1979.wallpaper” – Interesting! I don’t think I mentioned “wallpaper” but you can see my review of The Warriors HERE. Which is, by the way, quite possibly my very favorite movie I’ve watched for the first time since starting this blog. Hmm. That or Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind!

My Favorite Search Term: Possibly “natalie portman leak” mostly because I read it as “leek” so I totally had an image in my mind of Natalie Portman holding the vegetable in her hands. Seriously. Also, I’m sorry to whoever came searching but I know nothing about Truman Capote’s parrot or Maureen McGovern’s boobs (who the hell is Maureen McGovern???).

Here are my top search terms for the month:

BOOKS

Book Reviewed:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Book I’ve Just Finished: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (ugh!)

Book I’m Currently Reading: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (almost done!)

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

As little as possible, to be honest! I’m badly needing a break. I might do some short, random posts for the next couple of weeks like I do when I’m too busy for movie reviews. If I go out to a new movie, though, I’ll try to review it. People only care about new releases anyway! 😦 (I prefer reviewing older movies) 😉

I’ve been planning on doing an Adrienne Shelly Week for a while now so I was thinking of doing that the week of June 20th as her birthday would’ve been on the 24th. I don’t have any posts prepared yet & have one movie of hers left to watch but I’ll do my best to finally dedicate a week to her work as I absolutely loved her film Waitress. What a tragic loss.

Upcoming Movies:

I believe the Independence Day & The Conjuring sequels are out this month? I’m sure they’ll be nothing special but I’ll likely go to them anyway. I’m kind of interested in checking out The Nice Guys. I’m also rather intrigued by the HUGE difference between the IMDB user rating (8/10) & metascore of critics’ reviews (31/100) for Warcraft. Wow! Talk about wildly varying opinions. I can’t say I have any actual interest in seeing that other than to maybe see another film from David Bowie’s son. But it looks nothing like Moon, dammit. Oh! Melissa McCarthy has yet another dumb looking comedy out in June! Yeah, no thanks.

At home, I need to watch whatever July’s Blind Spot movie will be (maybe Battle Royale). This month I’ll be reviewing THX 1138 for that. The Adrienne Shelly movie I still plan to watch is Factotum. Beyond that, I have an interest in watching more animated films such as Wizards & more non-Ghibli anime. And (confession time) maybe I’ll finally watch Watership Down for the first time ever this month (no spoilers, please – I get the impression the death rate in that may be as high as a Game Of Thrones episode).

Happy June! Let’s end this post with some Judas Priest in honor of the thoroughly entertaining short 1986 documentary I watched last week: Heavy Metal Parking Lot

Music Video Friday: Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood & Dirty Harry

Today’s videos are Clint Eastwood & Dirty Harry by Gorillaz to end my Clint Eastwood Week here at Cinema Parrot Disco. I spent the week reviewing some Eastwood films that I’ve just watched for the first time this year. These films are:

Play Misty For Me
A Fistful Of Dollars
For A Few Dollars More
The Dead Pool

Plus I also previously reviewed Unforgiven, Escape From Alcatraz & The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. I think I’ve now seen far more Clint Eastwood movies than any girl really should. 😉 Oh, and I also did a list yesterday of My Top Ten Clint Eastwood Movies HERE.

So! I’m Eastwooded out for a while. Instead of forcing myself to finally watch Million Dollar Baby to review today, I’ve decided to just stick with my Music Video Friday series and post these Eastwood tribute songs by the Gorillaz. Because I love them! Fantastic songs from a band that should have been far bigger.


I’m not going to say a lot about Gorillaz as I already did that HERE in my review of the Tank Girl comic collection that I read since Tank Girl’s co-creator (Jamie Hewlett) also helped create Gorillaz along with Blur frontman Damon Albarn. I love the virtual band’s style and, more importantly, they have damn good songs. Of the two below, I’d have to say that I like the Dirty Harry song slightly more but the Clint Eastwood video is better. They’re easily my two favorite Gorillaz songs, though. Funny how they have that Clint Eastwood link. That’s why I just had to end my Clint Eastwood Week with these videos…. Enjoy! And have a lovely weekend. 🙂

The Dead Pool (1988) Review

Welcome to Day 3 of Clint Eastwood Week! On Monday I reviewed Play Misty For Me and yesterday I did a double review of A Fistful Of Dollars & For A Few Dollars More. Today I figured I should do at least one Dirty Harry film. Here’s The Dead Pool (the one with Clint Eastwood, not Ryan Reynolds). 🙂

The Dead Pool (1988)

Directed by Buddy Van Horn

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Evan Kim, Jim Carrey, Guns N’ Roses

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Dirty Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to murder local celebrities, which includes himself as a target.

My Opinion:

Okay, I can’t pretend that The Dead Pool is exactly “good” but I really did thoroughly enjoy it! There’s so much cheesy 1980’s goodness going on in this one & I always have a huge soft spot for that because of my age. Liam Neeson as a horror movie director with an embarrassing ponytail! Guns N’ Roses looking totally out of place in awkward cameos! The most amazing remote-control car ever! Jim Carrey giving a massively cringeworthy performance while lip syncing to Welcome To The Jungle! Patricia Clarkson, um, doing a decent job! (But she’s probably a bit embarrassed as this isn’t the sort of movie she does nowadays).

I know this probably isn’t the Dirty Harry film I should’ve started with. Actually, though, I know I did see at least part of both Dirty Harry & Sudden Impact. My dad is a big Clint Eastwood fan (it’s a requirement by law for American males his age) & I know I saw plenty of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry types of films on TV throughout my childhood as he watched them. I remember very little of them now, though, and wanted to start with Dirty Harry but The Dead Pool is the only one I had available and I don’t have the money to go buying movies just for blog reviewing purposes. Sorry! 😉 So I’m reviewing this one now but I’ll certainly re-watch Dirty Harry if it pops up on TV.

I have a feeling I’ll “like” this one the most of the Dirty Harry films anyway, although I doubt I’ll consider it the “best”. I just liked the feelings of nostalgia I got watching it – I wish I’d seen it at the time. Although I later went off of them, I was a big Guns N’ Roses fan in 1988. And the exact car that we had throughout my childhood was in this! Well, in a different color… Ours was gray & black. Check it out!

Was that a Monte Carlo? I know nothing about cars. I just remember that my dad never took the protective plastic cover off the backseat (probably due to my car sickness & tendency to throw up on car journeys) and, man, that plastic burned my legs in the summer! I hated that. Anyway, back to this cheesy movie… Oh! I really liked Clint Eastwood’s partner in this (Evan Kim). They’re great together so I assumed maybe they were partners in all of them but, damn, I guess not.

So, yeah, Liam Neeson is in this and he’s pretty funny with his ponytail but, let’s be honest – it’s not like this movie is really any cheesier than stuff like Taken so he doesn’t feel totally out of place. Patricia Clarkson plays a news reporter slash love interest for Eastwood slash damsel in distress. She’s fine in this – her character isn’t too annoyingly “in need of rescue”, which is all that female characters often were in these types of movies back then & is probably why this genre has never really connected much with me (or with most women).

Eastwood is good – he’s his usual Eastwood self. I mean, I have no memory of other Dirty Harry films so can’t compare them but get the feeling this one is a little less intense than the others? He seemed angrier in the others. I did read that he didn’t make any more of these after this one as he felt he was too old to keep playing Dirty Harry & that it would start to feel like a joke (he was 58 in this). He didn’t feel awkward in this movie but I think he quit at the right time. Then there’s Jim Carrey… Holy hell! I’d heard his role mentioned before but didn’t realize just how bad he was in this. Hilarious! His lip syncing is probably my favorite bit of the movie, though. Either that or the remote control car… I love the cheesy crap that movies got away with in the Eighties!

Summary:

The Dead Pool is an entertaining Dirty Harry movie. It feels older than it actually is – it’s weird to think that this was 1988 when, in a lot of ways, it feels more like it’s from 1978. It’s not a bad film but, when compared to big blockbusters of the day, this seems very low budget in comparison. I suppose that cop drama TV shows were very popular in the 80’s & this movie almost feels like a long episode of Miami Vice or Magnum, P.I. Oh! Or Simon & Simon! Lol! Remember that?? Actually, no – The Equalizer is probably a better comparison. What’s my point? I have no idea! I mean, a lot of people liked those sort of TV shows so, if you were a fan of those, you’d probably enjoy this movie. I guess my point is that this movie hasn’t aged well. This was out a year after Lethal Weapon yet looks & feels much older. I think Eastwood made the right decision to move on from the Dirty Harry films but I did really have fun watching this one.

My Rating: 7/10

**For a laugh, here’s the clip of Jim Carrey lip syncing Welcome To The Jungle. You have to watch this if you’ve not seen the movie. How utterly embarrassing!

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) & For A Few Dollars More (1965) IMDB Top 250 Reviews

Happy Birthday to Clint Eastwood, who turns 86 today! 🙂

My blog is having a Clint Eastwood Week (I reviewed Play Misty For Me yesterday). And I figured what better way to celebrate his birthday today than to review his famous Dollars Trilogy for my IMDB Top 250 Project as they’re all in the 250. Well, I already recently reviewed The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (you can see that review HERE). I didn’t realize it was the “third” in the trilogy when I watched it first but it really doesn’t matter as the stories aren’t connected (they just have the same director & composer plus the main actor playing a different character in each). It was interesting seeing their “evolution”, however, as I think each film was better than the previous one. Let’s start by talking about the first in the trilogy: A Fistful Of Dollars.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Based on Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volontè, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, Joseph Egger

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.

My Opinion:

I had no idea that this movie is basically the Yojimbo story by Akira Kurosawa & Ryuzo Kikushima (but not credited at the time, apparently). That’s interesting – there are a lot of Kurosawa films in the Top 250 & I’m very eager to work my way through them as I love Seven Samurai. So far, I’ve watched Ikiru & Rashômon so I’ll make Yojimbo the next one (I’ll have a Kurosawa Week once I’ve watched them all). I really liked the story of a drifter playing two rival families off against each other so am looking forward to seeing the original & comparing them.

I get the impression that some people may slightly prefer these first two Dollars films to The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. As I said above, I personally think each film got better & that the final one is the best but the first two do have much better pacing, less distracting voice dubbing, and stories that are easier to follow & that actually get right into things from the start instead of meandering along for almost three hours until reaching a fantastic finale.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the only one I’d call a “masterpiece” but these first two are also very good in a different way & are much more straightforward in telling their stories, which some people may prefer. There’s still a fair amount of time spent on characters standing around & staring at each other but it wasn’t yet to the extreme Leone went to in Once Upon A Time In The West. No, I’m not being a smart ass because I think that film is brilliant – the opening scene honestly contains the best staring ever committed to film. Here you go – the Once Upon A Time In The West staredown!

But back to A Fistful Of Dollars… I did find this the weakest of the three, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t really connect with or care about any of the characters (other than one family with a small boy) whereas the next film had a better revenge theme going on that I found more interesting & also had a good partnership that this one lacked. There’s plenty here for dudes, though – lots of fighting (with & without guns) and the usual amount of Clint Eastwood just looking like a stud while smoking & wearing a poncho. Eastwood IS very cool in these spaghetti Westerns, whether they’re your sort of thing or not, and has a great presence that not all actors manage (but is matched by his co-star in the second film). I now have less experience with his Dirty Harry movies than his Westerns but I think the Westerns suit him better.

This film does of course have yet another great showdown (as to be expected at the end of every Leone film I’ve seen so far). To say it’s the weakest of the three (or four if I include West as well) isn’t really a bad thing as all the Leone films I’ve now seen are fantastic & I can understand why they’re so popular even though this isn’t my favorite genre so I’ll never love them to the same degree as fans.

My Rating: 7/10

For a Few Dollars More (1965) (Italian: Per qualche dollaro in più)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.

My Opinion:

Now… For A Few Dollars More was genuinely enjoyable! Don’t get me wrong – I think these Leone films are beautiful works of art and worthy of the praise & recognition they later achieved but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t find them all a bit of a chore to sit through. Of all four I’ve seen, I’d rank this as the third best yet I’d also say it’s the most enjoyable overall in that it’s the only one that held my interest the entire time.

It’s a simple (if rather cliché) story of revenge but, hey – that’s what I want from a Western. The one seeking revenge is Lee Van Cleef’s character. And what a great character he is! It’s the only time another character felt as important as Eastwood’s (if not more) and I cared about his story. The two of them are fantastic together & have amazing chemistry onscreen. He was also the “Bad” to Eastwood’s “Good” in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but this was a much better role for him & I preferred their relationship in this.

Another thing that worked a bit better in this one than the previous film was the main baddie. He’s an evil bastard but also not quite right in the head & haunted by things in his past. He felt more developed than a lot of Western baddies. Actually, all the characters felt more well developed than usual (other than Eastwood’s but I think that’s always the whole point of his mysterious Man With No Name characters). That’s a big part of what made this film the most enjoyable – I can’t fully get into a film unless I buy into the characters & the story and this film did a good job with these elements.

Okay – I’ve not yet mentioned the Ennio Morricone score for either of these films. I don’t want to go on & on as I already raved about him in my review for The Good, The Bad And The Ugly but, damn, the man is a genius. There were no specific themes that stood out for me as much as in that one but the music truly helps make all these Leone spaghetti Westerns. Without the scores, I know I wouldn’t personally rate any of these movies as highly. The score is as important to these films as is Eastwood’s character & Leone’s cinematography. They all work perfectly together & make these films far greater than they’d be with one of these three elements missing.

Well, I think I’ve said enough about these movies. As I’ve said before, I’m no expert on Westerns but the four Leone films I’ve seen really are something special & definitely have my appreciation as beautiful works of art. I do think that each movie got better & better with Once Upon A Time In The West actually being the best overall. However, I’d probably stick with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly being my favorite as I think the score as well as the final 30 minutes or so of that film easily tops all others & pushes it into the “masterpiece” category that I don’t like to use as a label too often (if you’re curious, I gave both those movies a score of 8/10). I highly recommend both of those films at the very least but, if you want to start a bit smaller, the first two Dollars films are more easily “digestible” & For A Few Dollars More is probably the best one for non-Western lovers as I think a lot of people love a basic story of revenge.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Play Misty For Me (1971) Blind Spot Review

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

Play Misty For Me (1971)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

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

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Look at the hideous hair on Donna Mills!

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

My Rating: 7.5/10

My Blog’s April 2016 Recap

Happy Bank Holiday Monday, UK people! Well, it’s finally May. Not that you’d know that from the weather here lately… Brr! Well, here’s a quick recap of what happened on my blog in April. 🙂

I started out the month with Coppola Week, in which I reviewed movies directed by Francis Ford & Sofia Coppola. I managed quite a few movie reviews in the month, including one IMDB Top 250 film (Warrior) & my April Blind Spot choice (True Romance). But I took it easy on my weekly Top Tens, just listing my favorite movies from various actors. I’ll try to put a bit more effort into the Top Tens in May.

POSTS

My Most Popular Post: My Top Ten Patricia Arquette Movies – This was surprising but, for some reason, this post was pretty far ahead of everything else when it came to number of views. I guess there are a lot of Patricia Arquette fans! (For the record, her movie that topped my list was A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors)

My Favorite Post: Probably my double review of Turbo Kid & Space Station 76. I really appreciated what both these movies did in trying to capture a specific era of film and think that Space Station 76 did an especially good job (although most people will probably prefer Turbo Kid). I even talked some people into checking these movies out! I love when that happens. 🙂 Both were fun & I’d love to see more movies like these get made.

I also really liked the sci-fi time travel film Predestination so I enjoyed writing that review & having a chat with some people about its mindfuckiness.

MOVIES REVIEWED

My Most Popular Movie Review: Midnight Special – This one wasn’t surprising as reviews of current movies always get the most views. It’s a solid sci-fi film from the director of Take Shelter & Mud and I’m certainly interested in seeing what he does next. I don’t think it will be at the very top of my 2016 list by the end of the year but I expect it will stay pretty high.

All Movies Reviewed (ranked best to worst):
Space Station 76
The Outsiders
Predestination
Midnight Special
True Romance
Turbo Kid
The Conversation
Kung Fu Panda 3
Marie Antoinette
The Bling Ring
Warrior
The House Of Magic
Muppets Most Wanted
Rio 2

MOVIES WATCHED

In Cinema (ranked best to worst):
Midnight Special
The Jungle Book
Kung Fu Panda 3

At Home (ranked best to worst):
Space Station 76
Predestination
True Romance
Turbo Kid
A Fistful Of Dollars
Pixels

(for the record, A Fistful Of Dollars is obviously a million times better than Pixels)

TOP TEN LISTS

I needed a break so took the easy option of listing favorite movies from specific actors/directors in April. They’re quick posts to put together but still end up getting a lot of conversations going, which is the whole point of this blogging thing. Who would’ve guessed that Patricia Arquette would be the most popular of these?

Top Ten Francis Ford & Sofia Coppola Movies
Top Ten Patricia Arquette Movies
Top Ten Jack Nicholson Movies
Top Ten Rob Lowe Movies

SEARCH TERMS

My Top Search Term: “the great outdoors pool stick between legs” – Yeah, my review of The Great Outdoors gets a lot of hits from people searching for Lucy Deakins. You have to admire how specific they got with the above search, though. I should never have included a gif of the above image in that post… Pervs.

My Favorite Search Term: Probably “movies and carpets” as that means my list of My Top Ten Carpets & Rugs In Movies finally brought someone to my blog. YES! 

Here are my top search terms for the month:

BOOKS

Books Reviewed:
Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin

Book I’m Currently Reading:
The Colour Of Magic by Terry Pratchett

And according to my book poll results, it looks like I’ll be reading Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box next. I’ve been looking forward to that one!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

Clint Eastwood Week! I have Ennio Morricone playing in my head now… Well, it’s Mr Eastwood’s 86th birthday on the 31st of May so I’ve decided I’ll devote that whole week to him the same way I did Coppola Week this month. One of my alternate Blind Spot picks was his movie Play Misty For Me, which was the first one I watched back in January, so I guess I’ll make that my May Blind Spot review. I’ve also now watched A Fistful Of Dollars & plan to watch For A Few Dollars More so both can be ticked off my IMDB Top 250 Project list once I’ve reviewed them (plus, I figured I should finish the Dollars Trilogy after enjoying The Good, The Bad And The Ugly). So I just need one more Eastwood film to review for Eastwood Week: I’m thinking either Million Dollar Baby or The Dead Pool simply because I have access to both of those. Which should I watch?

Upcoming Movies:

As for movies being released in May, I’m still desperate to see Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! (finally out here on May 13th). And Captain America: Civil War came out on April 29th so I hope to have seen that by the time this posts on Monday. Green Room looks interesting (mainly because I love Patrick Stewart) and I know I’ll go to X-Men: Apocalypse but I’m not all that excited about it.

At home, I need to catch up on watching films on my Blind Spot list so Battle Royale is maybe the one I’ll watch this month. I also need to watch two more Eastwood movies for Eastwood Week. In between, I’ll watch whatever takes my fancy. Any recommendations? Oh, and I tend to watch one horror movie a month in preparation for October. Crazy, huh? This blog thing does change my viewing habits! Anyone have any UK Netflix horror recommendations? I’m especially interested in “killer doll” movies…

Happy May, everyone! 🙂 I usually end these with a song clip so, as I already posted a bunch of Todd Rundgren clips in my review of Space Station 76, I’ll post something from my April Blind Spot movie’s soundtrack (True Romance). Here’s Billy Idol’s White Wedding. For a thorough analysis of this classic 80’s exploding toaster video, check out my Music Video Friday post with Brian of Hard Ticket To Home Video HERE.

My Top Ten Wooden Movie Actors/Characters

I’m just messing with you! 😉

I had 16 to choose from for this list and I couldn’t really leave six out so I’ll count down from 16 (but I’ll still call it a “Top Ten” to stay consistent with my other lists. Ha! I’m so annoying).

So here are My Top Ten Wooden Movie Actors/Characters (and my favorite film from each). But counting down from 16 just to be awkward…

Honorable Mentions:

16. James Woods
My Favorite Movie: Videodrome

15. Kurtwood Smith
My Favorite Movie: RoboCop

14. Shailene Woodley
My Favorite Movie: The Spectacular Now or The Fault In Our Stars

13. Joanne Woodward
My Favorite Movie: Oh dear – the only one I’ve seen is Philadelphia! But I so love her long, romantic marriage to Paul Newman. Look at them! So beautiful… 🙂

12. Evan Rachel Wood
My Favorite Movie: Across The Universe but The Wrestler is great too

11. Woody Allen
My Favorite Movie: Um, I’ve only seen one & he wasn’t IN it. So, Midnight In Paris

My Top Ten:

10. Natalie Wood
My Favorite Movie: Miracle On 34th Street

9. Alfre Woodard
My Favorite Movie: Scrooged

8. Woody Strode
My Favorite Movie: Once Upon A Time In The West

7. Scott Eastwood
My Favorite Movie: Who cares?! Look at him!! Okay, I’ll go with Gran Torino…

6. Elijah Wood
My Favorite Movie: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

5. Woody Harrelson
My Favorite Movie: Natural Born Killers & Zombieland

4. Ed Wood
My Favorite Movie: Well, Ed Wood…

3. Clint Eastwood
My Favorite Movie: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly or Escape From Alcatraz

2. Woody
My Favorite Movie: The Toy Story Trilogy

1. Edward Woodward
My Favorite Movie: The Wicker Man
(Edward Woodward tops the list on name alone. It’s so fun to say… Say it ten times fast!)

How much wood would an Edward Woodward chuck chuck if an Edward Woodward chuck could chuck Edward Woodward?

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) IMDB Top 250 Review

Hi everyone! I’m finally doing my own IMDB Top 250 review again! I’ve been too lazy about doing these myself instead of just posting guest reviews… Let’s get started!

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)
Italian title: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Directed by Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Eli Wallach

Music by Ennio Morricone

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

My Opinion:

First of all, I better point out that I shouldn’t be allowed to review a Western as I “clearly know nothing about them” and should just “delete” my blog (as an extremely angry, Western-loving troll told me in the comments of my review for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). Man I love trolls! And I always reply to them like a damn idiot.

Well, here’s a further reply to the issue my troll addressed: We all have a “first time” experience of EVERYTHING in life – why should we not be allowed to discuss something just because we don’t have a thoroughly extensive knowledge of it? I’m working my way through the IMDB Top 250, partly, to gain more knowledge of films that are seen as classics and to have a better understanding of those that are within the genres that I’ve not really explored before (mainly war movies & especially Westerns). So I apologize if I offend anyone by discussing yet another Western even though I haven’t managed to first watch “every Western known” like that troll has. Good for him! I’d rather watch a wide range of films from all kinds of different genres. (For the record, I gave The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance quite a positive review). Now onto my uneducated review of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

This is Western #5 for me out of the Top 250 and I’m afraid to say that I found it slightly disappointing after starting with Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (although I did like it more than The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid & Unforgiven). Personally, I thought West was a better film overall and enjoyed it more than this one. However, I believe West had a much larger budget so it’s not totally fair to compare the two. Also, I’ll say that this one has a brilliant ending and I absolutely loved the final half hour or so plus I of course couldn’t get enough of the amazing Morricone score. 

How the hell had Ennio Morricone not won an Oscar before this year?  He’s a true genius so, until this year’s Oscars, I’d always just assumed he’d won one before now. I didn’t further look into it until after seeing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly as I wanted to see who the hell managed to beat Morricone that year but the film wasn’t even nominated for any Oscars at all, let alone the score. This score wasn’t even nominated?!?! It’s a masterpiece! Stupid Academy… (Even IMDB users have more sense – this film is currently very high at number 9 out of 250)

This film is the third in what later became known as Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy“, which I did know but didn’t actually think to look at the order in which they came out & for some reason thought this was the first of three instead of the last. The other two are in the Top 250 as well so maybe I should’ve watched them in order? I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as the stories are unrelated & Eastwood has a different name in each but it would’ve been interesting to see how Leone’s movies developed over time.

For its time & budget, I realize that The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a damn masterpiece. I have to admit, though, that the dubbed dialogue is very distracting in this one. It’s not something I noticed as much in West but I suppose there were a lot more English-speaking actors in that one. Apparently Leone cared much more about the look of the film than the dialogue so all the dialogue was recorded in post-production.

However, I personally appreciate a “sweeping epic” such as The Good, The Bad And The Ugly with a beautiful score & visuals much more than, say, a modern-day, straightforward, documentary-style Oscar winner such as Spotlight. The two Leone films I’ve seen just say “now THIS is proper filmmaking!” to me. I guess it depends on what kind of movies you prefer but someone with zero experience of Spaghetti Westerns may struggle with the length, slow pace & bad dubbing of this film (I’m experienced – I have two Spaghetti Westerns under my belt now). 😉

As for Clint Eastwood, I do quite like him as an actor but never fully understood the appeal before (although I’m liking him even more recently after watching two great 70’s classics of his – Escape From Alcatraz & Play Misty For Me). I kind of understand the appeal now after finally seeing one of his classic Spaghetti Westerns. The dude is f*%#ing cool, okay? Look at him in that poncho! Look at the cool way that cigarette hangs out of his mouth!

After this movie, I thought “Damn – I wish Eastwood had played Harmonica in West instead of Charles Bronson”. Bronson is okay but Eastwood had that extra special something in the same way Harrison Ford had something special as Indiana Jones. I just read that Eastwood was offered the role of Harmonica but turned it down due to falling out with Leone. What a shame! I really liked Eastwood in this and he helps make this a classic along with “The Bad” and “The Ugly” – Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach, who are both also great in the film. I especially liked the relationship between Eastwood’s & Wallach’s “Good” & “Ugly” and the fact that you apparently couldn’t trust anyone in the Wild West.

Summary:

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a fantastic film and I can see why Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns are so highly regarded to this day. However, I’m not going to pretend that it’s now going to be an all-time favorite of mine. Yes, I found it overlong and too slow at times (I watched it off & on over two days while doing chores) plus it was very hard to not be distracted by that bad dubbing. But there are a lot of films like this that I almost like the thought of more than the actual film itself…

For example: I couldn’t stop thinking about The Man Who Fell To Earth after watching it – it looked cool as hell and David Bowie was this amazing otherworldly presence but it’s so flawed that to call it a good film would be a lie even though I loved it. I feel kind of the same way about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and also Once Upon A Time In The West (although both indeed ARE very good films). What I’m doing a horrible job of trying to explain is this: I’d find it very hard to sit down and watch any of these three films from start to finish again but I think the overall look, feel, and score (the latter in the case of the Leone films) make these the exact sort of movies I wish were still being made. Well, okay – some are as The Revenant is this same sort of thing (and I think it would’ve made a more worthy Best Picture Winner than Spotlight as it’s the one that’ll be more appreciated and seen as a masterpiece in 20 years in the same way Leone’s movies are seen now). The artistic beauty of Leone’s films makes me happy and I find that very moving in a way that I rarely get with films nowadays. Sorry… that sounds cheesy as hell! Hey – look at Clint Eastwood’s smokin’ hot son Scott:

Where was I? This review is almost as long as the movie itself! (2 hours 41 minutes, FYI). Basically, I’m a sucker for a film with awesome visuals & a beautiful score and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of the all-time greatest when it comes to these two things. I may never sit through it for its entirety again but I’ve re-watched the ending, starting with the scene involving Morricone’s gorgeous The Ecstasy Of Gold, several times in the past month. It’s not very often that I have the desire to keep re-playing a part of a movie like that so I consider that to be some damn fine filmmaking.

My Rating: 8/10

Awesome theme. So damn awesome. But this one actually gives me chills:

Mystic River (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Khalid of The Blazing Reel. Thanks for the review, Khalid! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Mystic River, IMDB rank 239 out of 250…

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

Very few people in Hollywood have had a career quite like that of Clint Eastwood. In a career that’s spanned over forty years, ol’ Clint has done it all; he’s starred in some of the greatest movies to come out during this time-period, played some of the most memorable on-screen characters, heck, the guy is basically the poster boy for badassery. He’s also one of the few actors who’ve made even better directors. But of all the Unforgivens and Million Dollar Babies, there’s one film that’s for me, stands out as the crowning achievement on his truly stellar career. That film is of course Mystic River.

Mystic River The Blazing Reel Top 25 Movies of All Time Sean Penn Clint Eastwood Kevin Bacon Tim Robbins

When the daughter of ex-con Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn) is murdered, two of his childhood friends from the neighborhood are involved. Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), a blue-collar worker, was the last person to see her alive, while Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), a homicide detective, is heading up the case. As Sean proceeds with his investigation, Jimmy conducts one of his own through neighborhood contacts, soon Jimmy and Sean both start to suspect their old pal, Dave, who lives a quiet life with his wife Celeste (Marcia Gay Harden) but harbors some disturbing secrets.

Dark, ominous and brooding to a fault, Mystic River is quite simply one of the greatest dramas to ever hit the screen. It’s a film that got unfairly swept under the rug when out came out twelve years ago mainly because of the buzz surrounding its two Oscar competitors, Return of the King and Lost in Translation. But while they were both great films, it’s Mystic River that stands out as the most emotionally resonant of the three.

Benefitting from some truly magnificent work by Clint Eastwood, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and an ensemble cast, firing on all cylinders, Mystic River had my attention from the very first scene and proceeded to engage me even more. Brian Helgeland ‘s brilliant script, adapted from the book by Dennis Lehane never loses focus of a story that may seem pretty conventional on paper, rather keeps surprising us with twists and turns that enhance the drama only more.

Mystic River Tim Robbins

And you can’t ask for a better display of acting than the one you get from this film and Sean Penn and Tim Robbins, both of whom seem to lose themselves in their roles, carry the movie with their mesmerising, Oscar winning performances. Many people were shocked when Penn beat out Bill Murray at the Oscars that year but while it’s debatable which performance of the two was better, no one can say that his performance wasn’t worthy of merit because as Jimmy Markum, Penn gives a complex, riveting and groundbreaking performance and despite that Tim Robbins -who’s equally brilliant, if not more- is able to steal so many scenes from him in his haunting turn as Dave Boyle.

Not to forget, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Marcia Gay Harden who provide great support as well. But ultimately though, it’s the film’s powerful emotional core that makes it such an unforgettable experience and the reason why I keep revisiting after all these years. The film has a very unique moral conscience and an exceedingly dense plot that sets it apart from most dramas and its stark depiction of tragedy and loss is perhaps one of the most compelling ones ever put on film.

My Top Ten Songs Where The Title Isn’t In The Lyrics

I get really annoyed when a song isn’t named what it should be. Such as: Why the hell isn’t Baba O’Riley by The Who called Teenage Wasteland?! They don’t mention the words Baba O’Riley at all in the song but they sing “Teenage Wasteland” over & over again!

Okay, it doesn’t REALLY annoy me all that much – there are bigger things in life to worry about. 😉 But I did think it would make a fun top ten list! Like last week, though, I’m going to be annoying & make this a Top 20 (there were too many!). Feel free to add any you think of – I admit that with this list I’ve only looked through what’s on my iPod so there will be loads of songs I’ve not thought of or not mentioned.

So here are My Top Twenty Songs Where The Title Isn’t In The Lyrics (ranked roughly according to how much I like the song – I don’t think the order is important with this one):

20. MGMT – Kids (Should Be: Take Only What You Need)
19. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (Should Be: Really Hurt Me Baby)
18. Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song (Should Be: Ah Ah Ahhhhhhh AH!)
17. Death From Above 1979 – Black History Month (Should Be: Dunno. Maybe “Hold On”. But that’s a Wilson Phillips song…)
16. Blink 182 – Dammit (Should Be: This Is Growing Up)
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Brendan’s Death Song (Should Be: I’m Almost Gone)14. Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues (Should Be: I have no idea… How about “Mixin’ Up The Medicine”!)
13. Interpol – Evil (Should Be: Rosemary)
12. New Order – Blue Monday (Should Be: How Does It Feel?)
11. Daft Punk – Instant Crush (Should Be: We Will Never Be Alone Again)

Top Ten:

10. Public Image Ltd – The Order Of Death
Should Be: This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get

I adore John Lydon & this Public Image Ltd song, which is used prominently in the shower scene in Hardware. Yes! I’ve managed to once again mention the movie Hardware on my blog! Anyway, it’s an awesome song title even if it’s not said – most of the titles in this list are better than my “Should Be” titles.

9. Blur – Song 2
Should Be: Woohoo!

Such a fun song! It’s apparently named Song 2 because it’s two minutes long plus I think it was also the second song on the album? I sometimes play it when timing my kid’s toothbrushing (because kids are meant to brush for two full minutes, right?). Well, it’s a fun way to brush teeth!

8. The Police – Synchronicity II
Should Be: Not sure – maybe “Many Miles Away”

I used to really be into song lyrics as a teen/early twentysomething – you know, the age when you have time to waste on that kind of shit. But I never looked into the lyrics to this one at all until now. Pretty deep stuff with this one! And pretty bleak. This is quite possibly my very favorite song by The Police, who I don’t think really got the credit they deserved. An excellent band & I think I now like this song even more after reading the lyrics but I have to say I still don’t understand the title. I’m too old to think about these things.

7. TIE: Gorillaz – Dirty Harry & Clint Eastwood
Should Be: I Need A Gun & Sunshine In A Bag

I love Gorillaz!!! Do any Americans here know their songs? I think they were far bigger in the UK. I’m actually reading Tank Girl at the moment because it was created by the same guy (Jamie Hewlett) who created this “cartoon band” (one member of the band being adorable Damon Albarn from that picture of Blur I posted for Song 2). These are my two favorite songs of theirs & it made sense to put “Clint Eastwood” & “Dirty Harry” together for this post. The titles are cool. The look of the band is cool. The songs are cool. They should be even bigger than they are!

6. Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five – The Message
Should Be: Don’t Push Me

Seriously. Don’t push me. I’m close to the EDGE! 

5. The Who – Baba O’Riley
Should Be: Teenage Wasteland

I’ve not researched all of these songs but did of course look into this one. Here’s a bit about it from Genius.com:

Initially part of an idea (later thrown aside) of a follow up rock opera — Lifehouse — to Tommy, Pete Townshend wrote it after his experience at Woodstock. The name of the song is a combination of Meher Baba – an Indian guru that kept silent from 1935 until his death in 1969 who inspired Townshend spiritually, and Terry Riley — a musician and classical composer that also inspired him.

There’s actually a lot more to it if you want to read about it at Wikipedia – it’s an interesting read. But whatever the reason for the title, it’s a damn good song.

4. The Cure – Lullaby
Should Be: The Spiderman

I just really really like this song. 😉 Love The Cure.

3. David Bowie – Space Oddity
Should Be: Ground Control To Major Tom

Well, okay – I assume this title is a play on words after 2001: A Space Odyssey. I looked this one up too. Turns out this song is actually about alienation. I thought it was about a guy going into space! I’m so damn literal. This song has now gone up even more in my estimation. And I already loved it like crazy before. Because: Bowie. 🙂

2. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Should Be: Not sure but any excuse to get Black Sabbath into a list… How about “I Am Frowning All The Time”

Black Sabbath have quite a few songs where the title isn’t in the lyrics (except Iron Man, of course). I almost used Black Sabbath but the word “black” is said, so – close enough! I do love the lyrics to Paranoid – you can tell that Sabbath come from dark, grey, dreary England… 😉

1. The Clash – Train In Vain
Should Be: Stand By Me

Okay – clearly The Clash couldn’t use Stand By Me as the Ben E. King song was such a huge hit. I’m thinking I like The Clash even more than I realized – this song also topped my list of My Top Ten Happy Songs. I love it! And Train In Vain is an excellent title even though I’m sure most people can’t name it.

Almost Mentions:
(I considered these but in looking up the lyrics, I ruled them out as at least one of the words was mentioned)
Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
Radiohead – Paranoid Android (how can I have not noticed that in this song, one of my absolute all-time favorite desert island tracks, there’s a voice saying the words paranoid & android in the background the whole time?!)

Escape From Alcatraz (1979) Review

IMG_0567

Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

Directed by Don Siegel

Based on Escape from Alcatraz by J. Campbell Bruce

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Fred Ward, Roberts Blossom, Larry Hankin, Jack Thibeau, Paul Benjamin, Danny Glover

Running time: 112 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Escape from Alcatraz is a 1979 American prison film based on true events. It dramatizes possibly the only successful escape attempt from the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island.

My Opinion:

This movie is great! I remember scrolling through Netflix a few months ago & being so sick of the absolute shit I’d watched recently and really wanting to see a proper,  good movie so I decided to give Escape From Alcatraz a go. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t at all disappointed! I actually don’t know why it isn’t a little more highly regarded – I think its IMDB rating is a little low at 7.6 as I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more than several of the “classics” that are in the IMDB Top 250. I think Escape From Alcatraz actually deserves a place in the Top 250 more than a lot of the films that are in it (especially the current films that end up there just because users rate modern movies far too highly).

If you haven’t seen this but you like either The Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape, I can pretty much guarantee that you’d enjoy this one as well. It’s actually funny just how similar this is to Shawshank! There’s quite a similar set of quirky & likeable characters (even though they’re criminals) and an evil warden (Patrick McGoohan). Alcatraz even has its own Shawshank Brooks in the form of a painter & lover of chrysanthemums named Doc (Roberts Blossom). They’re so similar that I just looked up Stephen King’s novella on Wikipedia to see if he was inspired by the true story & this movie. Turns out that his story is heavily based on the 1872 short story God Sees the Truth, But Waits by Leo Tolstoy. What? Huh – I never knew that! You learn something new every day. 🙂

While watching this, I couldn’t help but wonder about the true story and how accurately it’s portrayed in the movie. From the little bit of investigation that I did, it seems pretty accurate from what I can tell (with the usual small changes to make for a better movie). Maybe I should read the J. Campbell Bruce novel someday – it really is a fascinating story. It’s funny how in this (and Shawshank), the criminals are the “heroes” while the prison employees are the bad guys. As this story is based on real people, however, I was worried after it finished that I was cheering the escape of hardened criminals. Looking them up, it appears that they were there mainly just for robberies. Not that I condone robbery! I’m just glad they weren’t murderers or rapists. Eastwood’s character (Sam Morris) was sent to the maximum security island as he had escaped from other prisons and, like the real life Morris, had a very high IQ. It was quite an elaborate two-year long escape plan – You have to give these guys credit for their determination. Well, Andy Dufresne spent far longer on his plan. 😉 (Sorry, sorry… I just can’t help the Shawshank comparisons!).

Besides Clint Eastwood, we have a lot of other very recognizable faces in this movie. The painter & flower-lover that I mentioned, Doc, is played by Roberts Blossom (the nice “scary” old man in Home Alone!). Another really great character who is based on one of those involved in the plan but whose character was changed slightly from the real-life man is played by Larry Hankin (grumpy neighbor Mr. Heckles in Friends!). The warden is played by Patrick McGoohan (Scanners!) and another great inmate who helps out, English, is played by Paul Benjamin (Across 110th Street! Never seen it!). The actors playing the bank-robbing brothers from the real story are played by Fred Ward (Tremors!) and Jack Thibeau (I didn’t know him but he was in Lethal Weapon as was Danny Glover, whose very small film debut was in Alcatraz). As for Clint Eastwood, I have to honestly say that I think this is now my personal favorite of his movies that I’ve seen so far.

Summary:

Based on the fascinating true story of what is probably the most famous prison break, Escape From Alcatraz was likely to be a highly entertaining film. And it certainly was! The story seems pretty unaltered as far as the main characters & the actual prison break go. As for the lesser characters, I don’t know if people like Doc were real but I’m not too bothered if things like that were added as these little things help to make this such an enjoyable film. Were the real-life criminals such likeable “heroes”? Unlikely. But movies often elaborate in this way. All in all, this is a great film and those who are interested in the real story can further explore its accuracies if they wish (and I just might someday). I call that a successful movie when it makes you want to learn more about the real story. And, as brilliant as this movie is, it’s only my second favorite “Escape” movie that I’ve watched for the first time this year! (I’d have to put Escape From New York above this one – what a good year I’ve had for Escape movies). 🙂

My Rating: 8/10

Unforgiven (1992) IMDB Top 250 Review

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Unforgiven (1992)

IMDB Rank: 93 out of 250

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring:
Clint Eastwood
Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Richard Harris
Frances Fisher

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming. A dark Western that deals frankly with the uglier aspects of violence and how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West.

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My Opinion:

I always thought this was a cool Metallica video…

Hey – It’s me! Finally doing another IMDB Top 250 review myself. And I’m here with another WESTERN! Ugh. The two things I’d been dreading most from the Top 250: War movies & Westerns. Well, the war movies have turned out to be really good (The Bridge On The River Kwai & The Great Escape being my favorites). I’ve only reviewed two Westerns so far and…. they were pretty damn good as well! (Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and especially Once Upon A Time In The West, which I liked quite a bit and will keep comparing to Unforgiven throughout this review). So, is Unforgiven as good as these? Umm… No. It’s okay but I’m not sure if it should quite be up there with the classics.

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I’ll repeat, though, that this has never been a genre I’ve been into so I wasn’t as likely to enjoy it as much as some would. This is one that Eric of The IPC loves and he begged me to let him review it here but, unfortunately, I have to work through the Top 250 that I’ve never seen and review them myself. For a more positive review, you can read his HERE. (Plus he MAY be reviewing a Western classic on his site tomorrow that I enjoyed far more than Unforgiven). 😉

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I think what didn’t work for me here is that Unforgiven felt too “modern”. I have very little experience with Westerns but what I HAVE seen have all been from the 80’s or later (Back To The Future III & City Slickers are awesome! Lol). After seeing one Leone film, I’m thinking that spaghetti Westerns may be more my style & I’m actually looking forward to seeing more of them. Maybe I’ll prefer a young Clint Eastwood in something like The Good, The Bad & The Ugly? Once Upon A Time In The West just felt & looked so grand and epic (and, my god, that amazing SCORE…). I didn’t get that sort of feeling from Unforgiven although I’m sure the filmmaking was just as impressive (I won’t pretend to know anything about filmmaking). I don’t know. I admit that my mind wandered during both these Westerns (and I may have gotten bored and tweeted for a while) but Once Upon A Time In The West is the one that’s stuck with me more whereas I’m already struggling to remember much about Unforgiven and it’s only been a month since I watched it. Hmm.

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I’ll say that Clint Eastwood gives a good performance and I of course loved Morgan Freeman as always – I’d watch him in anything. Gene Hackman’s bad guy, though certainly a huge asshole, felt a little too one-dimensional to me. I’m also still a little confused as to what the point of the character played by Richard Harris was – it seemed an unnecessary role. As for everyone else, I don’t think any characters really stood out except for maybe Frances Fisher as a fairly feisty prostitute who wants the men who’ve hurt a fellow prostitute to pay for what they’ve done. Ah yes – prostitutes. Must be a Western! Seriously, is that all women were back then?!

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I was hoping to feel something more for the characters than I did. I did enjoy Eastwood & Freeman but didn’t QUITE feel a strong connection between them. As for the story, I found it a lot more simple than I was expecting. It’s pretty straight forward but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ll admit I’m still not 100% sure what the hell was going on in Once Upon A Time In The West. However, certain images and scenes from that one have really stuck with me and I can’t say the same of Unforgiven.

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Summary:

I didn’t mean to sound so negative in this review. Unforgiven is a good movie. Odds are, I’ll never LOVE a Western – they just aren’t my thing. I do have a lot of respect for Clint Eastwood as a director and actor, however, and he’s done a good job with both here. I enjoyed his scenes with Freeman and thought the ending was good. If you’re a fan of Westerns but for some reason haven’t seen this one, I’d recommend it. My ratings, as always, are based mostly on my personal feelings about the movie. If I were to rate this on worthiness alone, it would be higher.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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