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!

Advertisements

Top Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Okay – it was fun bitching about my most hated actors & actresses last week but now it’s time to do another list that Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are has done. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actresses That I’d See In Pretty Much AnythingHERE. So here’s my own list of actresses I love. (Yes – I do love Drew Barrymore!). 🙂

With my favorite actors list, I’ve had to narrow it down by only including living actors so I’ve done the same here. Otherwise, Grace Kelly would be on this list. Now here are The Ten Actresses I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order…):

20140804-061707 pm-65827384.jpg

Amy Adams
Best Movie: Her or Catch Me If You Can but she was lovely in Junebug

20140804-062000 pm-66000067.jpg

Emily Blunt
Best Movie: Edge Of Tomorrow but I also love The Adjustment Bureau

20140804-062105 pm-66065059.jpg

Melanie Laurent
Best Movie: Inglourious Basterds

20140804-063626 pm-66986599.jpg

Jennifer Lawrence
Best Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

20140804-061854 pm-65934809.jpg

Drew Barrymore
Best Movie: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial but I also love The Wedding Singer & Whip It

20140804-063523 pm-66923013.jpg

Chloe Grace Moretz
Best Movie: Hugo

20140804-063759 pm-67079433.jpg

Sandra Bullock
Best Movie: Gravity but I do love Speed. (Gravity helped to put Bullock back on this list. But I still wouldn’t watch that thing she did with Melissa McCarthy. Damn! I missed her on my “Most Annoying” list…

20140804-064622 pm-67582350.jpg

Carey Mulligan
Best Movie: Shame but she was better in Never Let Me Go. (If I’ve forgotten someone, Carey Mulligan would be the first one replaced. I found her disappointing in Shame and beyond bland in The Great Gatsby. Hopefully she’ll have another good role soon…)

20140804-063555 pm-66955046.jpg

Elisabeth Shue
Best Movie: Adventures In Babysitting

20140804-063723 pm-67043146.jpg

Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Movie: Ladyhawke

Donnie Darko (2001) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

20140802-111129 pm-83489050.jpg

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Liam of Liam Does Film. Thanks for joining in, Liam! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Donnie Darko, IMDB rank 176 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. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

20140802-112038 pm-84038014.jpg

Donnie Darko (2001)

Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Richard Kelly

Writer: Richard Kelly

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Those who have said bad things about this film have just not understood it. Donnie Darko is that film where you’ll find yourself watching it over and over looking for the explanation; on the way you will then discover just how good this film is and why it’s rated as one of the best of all time, deservedly being on IMBD’s top 250, among many critics, including myself, personal favourites. It has an amazing cast; a young Jake Gyllenhaal plays the character of Donnie, after he will star in award winning films such as Brokeback Mountain and The Day After Tomorrow. Future Batman star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jake’s actual sister, plays Elizabeth Darko whilst we also get to see the well-known Patrick Swayze alongside Drew Barrymore. However it isn’t just the cast, a well-written story which dives into the world of complexity and defines the phrase thought-provoking, makes Donnie Darko hard to forget, and for me it is simply brilliant in every aspect and sense of the word.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), is a far from ordinary teenager, suffering from hallucinations Donnie starts to be visited by a demonic six foot rabbit named Frank, who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, however Frank’s arrival into Donnie’s life is more important than first thought. At the dinner table his sister Elizabeth (Maggie Gyllenhaal) tells his parents (Mary McDonell, Holmes Osbourne) that he hasn’t been taking his medication, however later that night due to these visions Donnie escapes death as a 747 Jet engine crashes and destroys his bedroom whilst he’s on a midnight trip with Frank. Frank tells him that the world is going to end in “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds”, The mystery grows as the jet engine is unknown by the FBI creating the question of where exactly did it come from? All that is known is that Donnie’s escape from death and Frank’s appearance are two supernatural events that have crossed and are somehow linked, and as Donnie is enlightened to a whole new way of thinking, he then realises the truth behind Frank’s words.

20140802-111751 pm-83871560.jpg

The story fuels from a “countdown” method, as each day passes we get closer to a predicted doomsday. However it is what the film gives us in those days that are great, not only are a string of relationships and subplots introduced but a series of clues in which just like Donnie, we have to piece together. As stories develop our characters all become very likable, something that Donnie Darko benefits from greatly, Donnie himself is loveable; lost, bold and witty, whilst the same aspects are all shared by his sister Elizabeth, newly found girlfriend Gretchen (Jena Malone) and his English teacher played by the seemingly ageless Drew Barrymore. The film keeps you on the edge, with a mixture of unexpected, dark plots balanced by strangely comedic moments. Richard Kelly for me deserves a huge amount of credit, as Donnie Darko holds such an amazing story.

Jake Gyllenhaal soon became one of my favourite actors after his role as Donnie; it is flawless, creating and portraying one of the most memorable teen characters for me since Ferris Bueller. There is something very likable but at the same time relatable with his character and Jake brings it to life superbly. The rest of the cast are great, Jena Malone portrays Gretchen well with it seeming very natural, whilst also providing one of the memorable quotes and scenes, “you’re weird … that was a compliment”. Drew Barrymore as Donnie’s English teacher is great, she provides a laughable aspect, whilst Patrick Swayze portrays the not so lovable Jim Cunningham well as you would expect of such talent, rounding off a truly remarkable ensemble; which even includes a hidden Seth Rogen.

20140802-113713 pm-85033198.jpg

This film does well to provide everything from comedy moments to suspense, thrills and gasps fulfilling so many aspects with even the soundtrack becoming an iconic element. Maybe when watched a few times you seem to pick up on Kelly’s details, and the soundtrack is brilliant as each song and piece of score predicts what’s happening next or compliments the events on the screen. The songs of choice all seem very fitting too, with Mad World becoming nostalgic after time.

Donnie Darko should be known for a long time to come, and hopefully it will be as Richard Kelly’s first film shines in every way it could have. A brilliant story, portrayed by a great acting ensemble, whilst everything else fitting perfectly around the two makes Donnie Darko in my eyes flawless, and my favourite film of all time. Entertaining, thrilling and funny, complex and thought-provoking are some of the things this film can be described as, but overall it is a master-piece which will be sure to be your favourite, or your new obsessive guilty pleasure, deservedly being rated as one of the all-time greats.

20140802-111849 pm-83929598.jpg

My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies

Happy Birthday to Drew Barrymore! Drew is one of my favorite actresses. I’m a small town girl from the Midwest and am about the same age as Drew so I basically grew up with her through her movies. It was kind of inevitable that I’d be a fan.

I know it’s Saturday so no one will read this anyway but here are My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies, counting down from ten to my favorite. (One is a shocker! Just kidding – it’s totally not). 🙂

10. 50 First Dates
20140222-101946 pm.jpg

9. Firestarter
20140222-102138 pm.jpg

8. Ever After: A Cinderella Story
20140222-102319 pm.jpg

7. Wayne’s World 2
20140222-102521 pm.jpg

6. Never Been Kissed
20140222-102706 pm.jpg

5. Donnie Darko
20140222-102907 pm.jpg

4. Scream
20140222-103036 pm.jpg

3. Whip It
20140222-103410 pm.jpg

2. The Wedding Singer
20140222-103614 pm.jpg

1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
20140222-103743 pm.jpg

Honorable Mentions:

Altered States
Blended
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
Going The Distance
Riding In Cars With Boys
Cat’s Eye
Irreconcilable Differences (I don’t remember this as I was too young but I’m counting it anyway because I vaguely remember liking it) 🙂

**List updated March 12th 2017 to add Blended. I actually liked it far more than I expected! Also updated September 2017 to add Altered States.