Requiem For A Dream (2000) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Darren of Movie Reviews 101. Thanks for the review, Darren! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Requiem For A Dream, IMDB rank 73 out of 250…

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

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Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr (Screenplay) Hubert Selby Jr (Book)
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser

Plot: The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions become stronger.

Verdict: Incredible

Story: We start by seeing the dysfunctional relationship between Harry and his mother Sara by seeing him take her television which seems to be happening on a regular occasion. This happens to help fuel his drug habit, while they keep their relationship together. While the Sara gets a chance to be on her favourite show but is worried about her weight, Harry comes up with an idea to make money by selling more drugs and making a business with his best friend. While both are trying to deal with their addictions their lives take turns for the worse when they releases what is happening.
When I first watched this I was too young to understand what was really going on and never really appreciated it, but now I have re-watched I have to say this is an incredible story of how four people decent into the world of drug and addiction takes over their lives. I like the fact that there was no happy ending for these people because it shows the harsh reality of the drug user and how far they will go. Each of our four characters ends up going in a direction that is heart breaking for some and each ends up showing the real fear what could happen to them. This ends up being hard to watch but because of that we see the real truth behind the problems. (9/10)

Actor Review

Ellen Burstyn: Sara Goldfarb mother to Harry who spends her time watching television and when she gets a chance to be on her favourite show. She ends up taking pills to help her lose weight but in the end she becomes addicted to them causing much more serious issue to her health. Ellen is fantastic in her role and most of her part is just her in her own apartment dealing with the side effects of the drugs.(10/10)

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Jared Leto: Harry Goldfarb young stoner who dreams of making it big by selling drugs, while keeping his girlfriend happy and keeping his drug habit happy. He is a loyal family man who wants to look after his mother the best he can but when things go wrong in the business he takes a chance that will begin to ruin his life forever. Jared gives a great performance and you can clearly see he was ready for a chance to show even more skills in later projects. (9/10)

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Jennifer Connelly: Marion Silver against her parents who have given her everything, she wants to make an impact herself but doesn’t know where to start while her drug habit keeps everything in a dream stage. She enters into the world of selling herself to fix her habit and before long she ends up happy just having her fix. Jennifer gives a great performance that was risky too. (9/10)

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Marlon Wayans: Tyrone C Love Harry’s best friend who helps him come up with the plan to make money. He ends up being the one who gets into trouble and before long he pushes Harry to risk more. Marlon gives a great performance and it is refreshing to see him in a serious role after all the parody roles. (8/10)

Support Cast: Dealers, friends and doctors all play big parts in helping our characters fix their problems but it is the host of Sara show that ends up helping with her downfall.

Director Review: Darren Aronofsky – Brilliant direction from Darren showing that he was always going to go on to make bigger projects but would always struggle to beat this. (10/10)

Drama: Just showing the decent our four characters make during their drug problems is wonderfully put together and you actually start to feel for the characters by the end. (10/10)
Music: Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell makes a haunting choice for music through the film always indicating something will be happening. (10/10)
Settings: Solid setting showing the busy lives but most of the film is set in apartments. (8/10)
Suggestion: Even though I am going to give this a really high rating I still think it won’t be a lot of people’s cup of tea, it does come off hard to watch and very much in your face. (Try It)

Best Part: Reality of the story.
Worst Part: It will be hard to watch.
Lessons Learned: Don’t do drugs, Jared Leto was always going to be a star.

Believability: The reality that people will get that hooked on the drugs comes off real, but I think how far things go could be seen as too much. (5/10)
Chances of Tears: No (0/10)
Chances of Sequel: No
Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Ellen Burstyn was nominated for best actress.
Box Office: $7.3 Million
Budget: $4.5 Million
Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Overall: In your face consequences of drugs

Rating 93%

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Interstellar (2014) Review

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****SPOILER-FREE REVIEW (but slightly bitchy…)****

Interstellar (2014)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Anne Hathaway
Jessica Chastain
Michael Caine
Bill Irwin
Ellen Burstyn

Running time: 169 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

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My Opinion:

I’ve avoided reading the many reviews of Interstellar here on WordPress because I really didn’t want to know a single thing beforehand. As there are so many (much better) reviews out there, I’ll keep this super short and instead go & read all your reviews when I get a chance. Besides – the more I talk about Interstellar, the more annoyed you’ll probably all get with me. So I’ll just say this: I was underwhelmed. I was bored at times. And, by the end, it kind of just left me feeling empty (well, except for my bladder).

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Okay – I’ll say a little more because I’m sure you all want to hear me once again complain about a movie. Right?! 😉 Most who actually read my reviews know by now that I’m of the 70’s & 80’s generation and the majority of my favorite movies are from those two decades. I like plenty of current movies (you can see a ranked list of everything I’ve watched in 2014 HERE and see that I’ve given several movies a rating of 8 or higher). So this isn’t just age talking. No, wait… It IS age talking. I’ve been around a long time now and I’ve seen a lot of truly excellent films. Christopher Nolan is a very good director. I realize that he’s sort of like the “Steven Spielberg” for a generation below mine. For me, though, he’s only made one film so far that I’ve truly loved and it’s not The Dark Knight and certainly not Inception (it’s The Prestige). Other than that one, I wouldn’t watch his films over and over again like the way I have with plenty of Spielberg’s films. I think he’s done a great job with the movies he’s directed but, unfortunately, I think maybe Interstellar was a little too ambitious and comes up very short when compared to sci-fi classics.

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Science fiction! It’s something my little brain never fully understands (WTF is a wormhole anyway?) but I absolutely LOVE the genre above all others when it comes to entertainment so I was of course not going to miss this epic space movie. However, I’m also going to be far more picky than some. We have some TRULY classic sci-fi films and I wanted this to be another one. Maybe my expectations were just too high? However, I really had no issues with Gravity. I even ended up thinking Edge Of Tomorrow was far better than I’d ever expected it to be. I think, more than anything, the “human drama” element to Interstellar didn’t fully work. There were definitely some good performances but, overall, it all felt a little shallow and I never really connected with anyone. The “space stuff” (sorry – I hope I don’t lose anyone with my big technical terms!) was fine although, again, I had even less of a connection with the humans in space than I did with those on Earth. It all looked pretty but I wouldn’t say it’s the most visually stunning film I’ve ever seen. The first half of the film dragged and I just wanted them to get the hell up into space. But then even that didn’t live up to my expectations.

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You know what? I’m going nowhere with this review & these days I get maybe 20 minutes to write them. Plus I said I’d keep it short but as always I just blabbed & blabbed! I’m sorry I’ve not been able to put it into better words but, hey – I was just a little disappointed. That’s all. I like what I like and I’m always completely honest here. Hopefully some of my regulars will know I’ve written enough extremely positive reviews of movies I’ve loved to know that I’m not just trying to be difficult as I know some get a little over sensitive about opinions. The Prestige?? I love it. That’s a 9/10 for me. Interstellar is okay. I know Nolan-worshippers won’t have a bad thing to say about it and I do still recommend it to his fans and, well – to everyone, really. It IS worth a watch on a big screen. It just didn’t quite work for me personally and I’d now rather re-watch a sci-fi classic or something like The Right Stuff, which is one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. Ultimately, Interstellar tries too hard to be Spielberg with the human drama and Kubrick with the rest but never comes close to achieving the greatness those two directors have when they’ve been at their best. I think more focus on either one or the other would have actually made this a better film overall but instead both elements kind of fail.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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***Not that anyone is still reading this now that I’ve given a Christopher Nolan film less than an 8 but these are some great sci-fi films & I’d highly recommend them to fans of the genre (the extremely obvious as well as some that are less so). I’d be happy if at least one person gave one of these movies a shot after watching Interstellar (or, better yet, before!). 🙂 And I’d happily take some recommendations as well as there are still plenty I haven’t seen, such as The Right Stuff & the original Solaris or most things from before the 70’s:

In no particular order:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Silent Running
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Star Wars (original trilogy)
Alien & Aliens
They Live
The Thing
Enemy Mine
Moon
Sunshine
WALL-E
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Predator
Planet Of The Apes
Back To The Future
The Last Starfighter
Dark Star
Blade Runner (I’ve just lost Brian!)
The Terminator 1 & 2
Death Race 2000
TRON
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Fahrenheit 451
D.A.R.Y.L. (I’ve just lost the rest of you!)
HARDWARE (I had to include it) 😉
The Man Who Fell To Earth (Because… David Bowie!)

That took ages. I’ll stop there although I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. A few of these movies are definitely not as good as Interstellar. However, I enjoyed them all more…

The Exorcist (1973) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from C Taylor of Celluloid Junkie. A big thanks to her for taking part in this IMDB project! 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about The Exorcist, IMDB rank 205 out of 250…

There are still a few 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.

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After the 12-year old daughter of a famous actress, Chris MacNeil, begins displaying signs of demonic possession, Chris turns to a Catholic priest in hopes that an exorcism will restore her daughter’s health.

Starring Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, Jason Miller as Father Karras, Max von Sydow as Father Merrin, Linda Blair as Regan, and Mercedes McCambridge as the voice of PazuzuThe Exorcist is directed by William Friedkin based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty.

The Exorcist is a once-in-a-generation film.  It’s the kind of film whose far reaching influence continues to touch and inspire creative endeavors all around the world.  It has been referenced in countless other films, television series, cartoons, and comedic stand-up routines.  This year, December 26th, will mark the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist‘s release.

The version of The Exorcist I screened for this review is the 2000 theatrical re-release entitled The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen.  I was lucky enough to get a copy of the film on DVD years earlier and am happy to use it now because it includes the restored “spider-walk” scene originally cut from the film by director Friedkin.  It is a scene so chilling, despite it’s short length (from start to finish, I believe it’s less than 30 seconds of screentime), it renewed the fear I felt upon watching The Exorcist for the first time decades earlier.

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Friedkin believed the spider-walk effect didn’t work technically in 1973 because the wires used to aid the contortionist (Linda R. Hager) in the scene could not be fully removed in post-production.  It’s unfortunate because of its importance to the plot.  This scene is arguably the moment when Regan’s mother, Chris (Burstyn), no longer believes her daughter (Blair) is just ill, but, instead, truly possessed by a demonic force.

The spider-walk scene is that “aha!” moment in the storyline that drives the character of Chris , who is an atheist, to seek the help of the Catholic church; specifically Father Karras (Miller).  And while it is a little bit more dramatic than the spider-walking in Blatty’s novel, it remains unnerving and powerful nonetheless. [1]

Much has been said and analyzed and theorized about the use of a young child in a story about demonic possession, particularly a young girl.  I think the crux of the arguments for and against ignore the truth; that Regan is a child or a girl has nothing to do with the demon Pazuzu’s true intent.  Pazuzu’s intent is to chip away at and eventually destroy those around Regan; her atheist mother, Father Karras’ faith, and Father Merrin’s health.  It is the sowing of the grief and despair that interests Pazuzu.

That Regan is a girl is irrelevant.  But not for the audience.

One of the key elements to The Exorcist‘s shock value is Regan.  A fresh-faced, otherwise relatively unknown Linda Blair, embodied a youthful innocence and curiosity.  She is shown as a sweet, horse-obsessed child who, in the wake of her parent’s separation, is just a little unsure of her surroundings.  Her one mistake, finding and playing with a Ouija board she finds in a downstairs closet, like Eve and the Apple, is also her downfall. Regan unwittingly opens a doorway to another realm, inviting in Captain Howdy (Pazuzu).

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As Regan is forced to endure the litany of defilements, violence, and abuse of Pazuzu’s possession, the audience is trapped as a passive observer;  powerless to help, unable to look away.  It’s a brilliant mechanism employed by screenwriter/author Blatty, who,in doing so, extends the reach of Pazuzu’s torments beyond the 4th wall, into the real world.

It is this extension of fiction into the realm of reality that aids the overall feeling of terror The Exorcist exudes.  For those particularly sensitive to religious or supernatural horror, there is possibly no greater film in the horror genre than The Exorcist.  For those of us who could take or leave religiously based horror, there is the psychological element behind Regan’s illness to consider.

That her mother had consulted 88 doctors in a relentless effort to discover what is ailing her, and that search yields nothing more than a final scene in which a doctor, in a room full of doctors, tells her to consider exorcism, is as powerful today as it was in the 1970s.  Potentially more so, as we begin to see cultural shifts in the way we view the dealings of the Catholic church in general.

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It’s this opening of loopholes, of possibilities, of causality, that makes the premise behind The Exorcist so horrifying for any viewer, not just those with religious inclinations.  For me, there is a serious body horror element to The Exorcist that will plague my thoughts as long as I live.

Most things are done right in the film adaptation of The Exorcist, despite the lengths to which the audience is required to go in order to see it through.  The pacing is deliberately slow allowing for a more complete development of the central characters (namely Chris and daughter Regan, and Father Karras).  In fact, this development is implicitly necessary in order for the events of the film to have any meaning and impact.  After all, it’s the connection between mother and daughter that ultimately creates the driving fear behind the girl’s losing battle with Pazuzu.

Although it goes without saying, I’ll say it.  The Exorcist is a horror film classic, suitable for fans of religious and secular horror alike.

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REFERENCES:

[1] ”The Exorcist (film)” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 Feb. 2013. Web.  22 Feb. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist_(film)>

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-C Taylor (celluloidjunkie.me / @ctaylor on twitter)

about.me/c.taylor