My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies

Happy birthday to Gary Oldman, who turns 59 today. I’m posting a Top Ten on a day other than Thursday! This is messing with my head. I think I’m actually just putting off reviewing that pointless remake of Beauty And The Beast

Anyway, back to Gary Oldman! I must admit that I never really noticed Oldman until more recent years. But I don’t mean that in a bad way – I think it’s a great thing. I’ve seen him called a chameleon many times & it’s very true. It’s amazing how utterly & completely different he looks (and acts) from one role to the next. He truly becomes the characters he plays and not every actor does that. I mean, I feel like I pick on Tom Cruise too often for some strange reason but he’s just always Tom Cruise to me. Even in roles where he gives it his all, I still just see Tom Cruise. Tom Hanks is that way a bit too much too (but you still gotta love Tom Hanks). Okay – I barely remember JFK AT ALL now all these years later but I’ve stuck it in the top ten even though I didn’t realize Oldman was in it. Seriously. Then when looking for images of him from it, a lot were in black & white so I thought they were the real Lee Harvey Oswald. How can you look like Lee Harvey Oswald just as much as Sid Vicious???

Well, as always I’m ranking these according to how much I like the movies as opposed to the individual performances as I find that harder to judge. This is probably why I appreciate actors like Oldman – I care more about a movie’s story & its characters than who is starring in it so I like actors who become the characters as completely as Oldman does.

Here are My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies (and, also as always, I cheat a little and count series films as one). 😉

The Two Extra I’ve Seen:

12. Hannibal
11. Air Force One

Top Ten:

10. JFK

9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

8. Kung Fu Panda 2

7. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

6. The Harry Potter Movies

5. The Batman Movies

4. The Fifth Element

3. Léon

2.True Romance

1. Sid And Nancy

Saw But Don’t Remember:
Lost In Space

Not Seen:
Henry & June, Romeo Is Bleeding, Immortal Beloved, The Scarlet Letter, Murder In The First, Basquiat, The Contender, A Christmas Carol, The Book Of Eli, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Red Riding Hood, Lawless, Paranoia, RoboCop, Child 44, The Space Between Us

Hey UK people – remember that One2One campaign starring Gary Oldman in the commercials? I just remember how much I loved the music featured (Lovely Head by Goldfrapp) so I found the ad on YouTube to share. Still love the song. At least Sid Vicious selling mobile phone service isn’t quite as weird as Johnny Rotten selling butter 🙂

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True Romance (1993) Blind Spot Review

True Romance (1993)

Directed by Tony Scott

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

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

Music by Hans Zimmer

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

My Opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:

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

My Rating: 7/10

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) Review

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

Directed by Matt Reeves

Starring:
Andy Serkis
Jason Clarke
Gary Oldman
Keri Russell
Toby Kebbell
Kodi Smit-McPhee

Running time: 131 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.

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My Opinion:

I’m sure everyone has reviewed this by now so I’ll just say this: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is pretty damn spectacular. It isn’t perfect but any issues I have with it are pretty insignificant compared to the amazing special effects. WOW! Hey you WordPress whippersnappers – remember that I’m old. You’re all used to movies looking like this now & just expect it all the time. You’re spoiled!!! 😉 I mean, I’m actually still impressed by 1968’s Planet Of The Apes so, you know, maybe I’m more easy to please than some of you. But this film is REALLY freaking impressive.

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The apes!!! I’d happily watch a movie with just the apes & no human actors on screen. There was so much depth to their characters. The only downside is that they did such an excellent job with the look and the character development of the apes that the humans in the film really do pale by comparison. It was actually easier to feel for the apes and their struggle than it was for the humans and all that they’ve gone through. However, (and this is something I loved about this film), there’s no black & white “humans are evil and the apes are innocent” (or vice versa). We see both sides and I thought the story worked really well & that the way things progressed was very believable. I was completely immersed in this film and that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like considering how many movies I go to.

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Summary:

I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said by others. I thought Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was pretty great and I love that Dawn manages to improve on it. Also, I’ll fully admit that I love that this movie turns into a full-on blockbuster at the end. This movie is proof that you CAN have an exciting, heart-pounding blockbuster as well as an intelligent script and well developed characters that you actually care about. I do wish the human characters had had as much time spent on making us care about them as the apes had but it’s really a minor complaint. This movie is very very good.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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I STILL haven’t made my mind up on if Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is my 2nd or 3rd favorite movie of 2014. It’s between this & Her. See my full list HERE if you’re bothered. 🙂

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Luke of Oracle Of Film. He’s already reviewed Batman Begins (review HERE) & The Dark Knight (review HERE). Thanks again for doing all these, Luke! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on the final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, IMDB rank 38 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.

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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: THE REVIEW

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman
Plot: Batman is long gone, the Harvey Dent Act putting rest to all organised crime. However, when a dangerous mercenary hell-bent on vengeance arrives in Gotham, it seems like the perfect time for the Batman to rise once again.

The Dark Knight Rises has taken a bit of a beating recently. I admit that there are so glaring plot holes in the story that not even rasping ‘Because Batman’ can truly fix. Fans, after being euphorically lifted by the magnificence of the Dark Knight, were left underwhelmed at the finale in the Dark Knight trilogy. These reactions all surprised me, because, in my books, The Dark Knight Rises is the best Batman movie to date.

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Look past the plot and you realise that Nolan’s aim is creating a more thematic conclusion to the trilogy. This is about every Batman fan’s number one question: when does it end? Does Batman simply hang up the cape one day or does he die in the line of battle? Nolan opens his story with a Gotham no longer in need of a Batman. Dent’s death inspired the Mayor to create a tougher police force, wiping organised crime from the city. The Batman faded away, believed to be a murderer. However, just when the city had gotten lazy, anarchist Bane arrives in the town and uses the luxury of the rich to turn Gotham in on itself. Batman, fuelled by past glories, returns and is quickly subdued. Gotham surrenders to the rule of Bane and Batman is a thing of the past. Christopher Nolan keeps the tone measured perfectly, always hitting the correct notes, whenever he needs an emotion card to be played. When he wants us to feel despair, we have our hearts in our mouths. When he wants us to feel sadness, we feel our throat choking up. And when he wants us to soak in happiness and the awesomeness of seeing the Dark Knight back in action, we are in the palm of his hand, letting the guy who remastered the mythology of the Batman, show us how good cinema can actually be.

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The biggest complaint that I heard of the Dark Knight Rises is a very slow middle act. Batman disappears from the plot totally and we get the story of freedom fighters, struggling to take the city away from the all-knowing Bane. Sure, it does feel a little jarring, when we are given break-neck action, only for Nolan to hit the brakes and leave us out in the cold. But, it is all for a good reason. For one, it makes us feel the absence of the Batman. The tone is kept grim and despairing as we realise that, in ending the trilogy, anything could happen. It also means that when the Batman returns, it is one of the most uplifting movie moments of 2012. The second reason for letting Nolan slow the action right down is that the supporting cast are given precious moments to look cool. Gary Oldman, always threatening to steal the show from everyone else, gets a much larger slice of the action. Newcomer Joseph-Gordon Levitt shows himself as one of the newer action heroes on the block. Looking at the trilogy on a whole, this is a refreshing change of pace and lets every card get played, rather than letting certain sides of the story get lost for a more mainstream style of blockbuster.

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Another great addition is the villains. Bane has always had a rough deal in the Batman universe, going from the most cold-hearted mercenary in comic history and being resorted to a slapstick thug in ‘Batman and Robin’. Even the games, which have a habit of showing most villains in a positive light, turn Bane into a junkie. Here, on-the-nose casting lets Tom Hardy bring Bane back to one of the most intimidating figures in the trilogy. We have had some great nemesis figures for Batman to face off against, but none have come as close to victory as Bane. The Joker may have broken Batman’s spirit, but it was Bane that actually broke his body. Also, Nolan takes my least favourite villain, the Catwoman, and makes her relevant to the story. She actually makes sense and, while she still sticks out like a sore thumb at certain beats, her addition eventually becomes a key part of the conclusion. There is one more bad guy here, but the less said about that the better. The thrill is in the mystery.

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I could rave about how the massive moments really send the Dark Knight Rises into the history books. The final fight on the streets of Gotham, the first fight between Batman and Bane, the heart-breaking explosion over the waters of Gotham… But it is the smaller beats that really make the film. My favourite moment is when Alfred confesses his secrets to Bruce Wayne. It is the quiet disappointment of Christian Bale that gets to me. He is too far gone to break down, but we can see the exhaustion in his eyes, the losses he has faced destroying his soul. This is a man on the way to his deathbed. Easily forgotten, but another testament to how impressive Christopher Nolan’s depiction of the Batman really is.

Final Verdict: Yes, I’m giving every Dark Knight movie five stars. Why? It is the greatest movie trilogy of all time and that’s not an easy competition to win.

Five Stars

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The Dark Knight (2008) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Luke of Oracle Of Film. He’s chosen to review Christopher Nolan’s entire Batman trilogy. He already reviewed Batman Begins last week (review HERE) & I’ll be posting his review for The Dark Knight Rises this same time next Thursday. Thank you for doing these, Luke! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Dark Knight, IMDB rank 7 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 HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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THE DARK KNIGHT: THE REVIEW

Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts and Morgan Freeman
Plot: The Batman (Bale) works with the District Attorney and the cops to put away Gotham’s most dangerous mobsters, accidentally provoking the wraith of the maniacal Joker (Ledger)…

When I first watched the Dark Knight, I was disappointed. In my opinion, Nolan had delved too far into his realistic vision and had lost the essence of Batman. The battles between Batman and the mob felt less like a superhero action and more like a political thriller with a kick (The Dark Knight has been compared to Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’). I felt that Batman had lost that Gothic appeal and the charm that made originally fall in love with the character was missing. It didn’t helped that this movie was over-hyped to be one of the greatest superhe… no, movies of all time.

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Then I saw the bigger picture. The Dark Knight is one of those movies that somehow gets better with every watch. You notice certain details and elements that you missed before. There are so many secrets tucked away inside the Dark Knight and I am sure I will learn of quite a few more as of yet. While I still think it is the weakest of the three movies (it suffers from not being the origin or the finale of the trilogy), it is still a terrific piece of cinematic art, with political messages and comic book references sprinkled all over this masterpiece. Nolan tells an interesting story, where it is suggested that Batman is slowly becoming the villain, as Bruce Wayne gets lost in his war on crime. The actual story is one full of twists and turns, throwing unexpected shocks at us. Characters are killed off in a heartbeat, arcs are completed with agonising horror and we are given one of the most complex superhero movie villains of all time, and probably quite a while to come yet. The one beat that falls short is the twist of Harvey Dent. As a comic book fan, I knew where that line of story was going, and I felt it would have been much more powerful, if they gave the District Attorney a new name. Sure, it would have annoyed the fans, but imagine if that final reveal was totally out of the blue. It would have been amazing.

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And what a script! I didn’t realise this until recently, but this movie is full of quotable lines. Sure, we all remember the popular ones, like ‘Why so Serious?’ and ‘I am not the hero Gotham needs, but the hero it deserves!’, but there are so many more that slip under the radar. Almost every line given to the Joker could easily be the quote of the year “Do you know how I got these scars?” “Oooh, you’ve got a bit of fight in you, I like that!” But the dialogue is so sharp that Christian Bale’s Batman also has a just-as-perfect line to follow it up with. While people remember the Dark Knight trilogy for its visual impression, the awe-inspiring soundtrack and the outstanding performances from every actor involved, I shall always praise the Dark Knight trilogy for one of the finest group of scripts I have ever witnessed. It is truly incredible work from David S. Goyer.

The Dark Knight also feels like it is engaging the audience at several times. The best thing about the Joker is that his social tests give Nolan the opportunity to throw several moral dilemmas at us. The Joker puts a group of convicts and a group of civilians in two separate boats and gives themselves the option of blowing each over up. We get the time old superhero dilemma of which hostage should be saved. The Joker is the life of this movie and Heath Ledger’s amazingly outside-the-box performance really makes this a key part of the trilogy. While I am still a more comic book based Joker fan, it was a refreshing change and suited Nolan’s realistic vision far better. Heath Ledger remains unpredictable right until the end (which ironically is quite difficult with the Joker, as if anything’s possible, it is harder to shock with him), meaning that we are totally invested in the character throughout the entire film. Despite public outcry at Ledger’s casting, Nolan knows he is onto something good and gives the actor as much space as he needs to have us in the palm of his hands. Some of the most memorable scenes are ones where Heath Ledger is allowed a sinister monologue, the hairs on the back of our necks standing up on edge, attention caught by the clown.

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However, to say Ledger steals the show would be suggesting that everyone else dropped the ball. In truth, almost everyone else meets the late Heath Ledger, blow for blow. Christian Bale is far more comfortable as the Bat this time around, channelling the aggression and frustration that Batman works so hard to bury. Gary Oldman feels much more useful to the plot, this time around, and it is easy to overlook the fact that he is probably one of the best actors Nolan has at his disposal. Christopher Nolan also has a habit of casting actors I think little of and making me change my mind. Aaron Eckhart is at his best here, as Harvey Dent, the District Attorney determined to make a change, even with the odds stacked against him. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal doesn’t quite sway me, but an interesting character arc means that we are still totally behind her character and interested to see what Nolan has up his sleeve. A perfect ensemble of actors.

Final Verdict: Nolan goes from strength to strength, making this Batman more thoughtful than before. It also boasts some of the finest acting ensembles in quite a while.

Five Stars

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