Into The Wild (2007) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Melissa of Snap Crackle Watch!. Thanks for the review, Melissa! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of Into The Wild, IMDB rank 161 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.

Into the Wild (2007)

Directed by Sean Penn

Written by Sean Penn

Into the Wild (2007), written and directed by Sean Penn, adapted from the book by the same name by Jon Krakauer is a perspective into the life of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). The young man who went into the wilderness of Alaska in search of himself and to shed his city life and roots.

Many people who live privileged lives, ones that are untouched by grief, poverty, never know the reality of struggling day by day. I believe that what McCandless sought was that feeling and that experience of the unknown. When a young person grows up stressed and under pressure by daily life, they don’t know how they will make it another day. All they know is that they have to and one day there may be a better day for them. But growing up he never really had to face any of those moments.

It was only till he got older that he would see that his family was nothing near perfect and that the challenges he put on himself would prove to be a dangerous route. This is one of those stories that touches the viewer to the bone, it’s emotional, exciting and makes you wonder what kind of person what put themselves through this journey.

Abandoning a trust fund, his car, and any material possessions other than those he could carry on his back, McCandless sets out on a passage to reach the Stampede Trail in Alaska. He doesn’t contact his parents, Walt (William Hurt) and Billie MCandless (Marcia Gay Harden), nor does he even contact his sister Carine (Jena Malone) who he was close with growing up. We only see his family in flashbacks, as the movie hints at his past, we see that his parents did not live that idyllic life that maybe he thought existed, but instead had a lot of deep secrets that the family kept hidden.

Throughout his journey, McCandless meets various people on the road. They teach him lessons about life and about forging relationships. Through them he begins to see that there are so many different varied people out there in the world. With traveling hippies Jan (Catherine Keener) and Rainey (Brian H. Dierker) he learns about marriage and what it takes to keep that spirit alive. He works with Wayne (Vince Vaughn) for a while, who he observes as a friendly farmer who gives him a chance to work and earn some money.

Later on he meets Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook) the two enter into an endearing relationship, he teaches him how to do leatherwork and ends up giving him his old camping supplies. It was as if the older man could see himself maybe in McCandless or maybe he enjoyed hearing his idealistic visions about his upcoming adventure. Regardless, he touched everyone he met as much as he appreciated them.

Once McCandless enters into the wilderness, he finds an old school bus that he sets up camp in, it becomes his home in the end. We see his adventures take off, running through the woods and streams, and even killing a moose. It’s as if he envisioned himself as a romanticized version of Jack London himself, getting into adventures and journaling them as an idealistic writer. Everything changes for him in Alaska and his life is turned upside down. The choices he made carry them with him till the end and we see them play out in front of us.

Penn captures the essence of adventure and defeat in this film. It is obvious that he put his heart and soul into the film, as it took two years to make. The soundtrack by Eddie Veder goes perfectly with the sentiments of the film and makes you feel that foreboding loneliness with each scene.

Hirsch was amazing and deserved every accolade for his portrayal of McCandless. This definitely solidified him as a great actor; he carried the entire movie on his back.

I absolutely loved this movie, I enjoy movies that make me think about life and allow me to be introspective. McCandless isn’t shown as a martyr, which I think is important, instead he was simply a young man who wanted to have his own adventures and make something of his life on his own terms, nothing more than that. Overall great film, it is one I could re-watch and probably still garner some nugget of wisdom from each time.

}}Melissa

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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.

Drugstore Cowboy, At Close Range & Slacker Movie Reviews

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Here are three more mini-reviews of movies I don’t have enough to say about to fill a full review for each! Sound exciting? Two were okay but one totally sucked…

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Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

Directed by Gus Van Sant & Based on Drugstore Cowboy by James Fogle

Starring: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Remar, James LeGros, Heather Graham, William Burroughs

My Opinion:

It seems like I’ve watched quite a few movies about people who are addicted to drugs but they’re never exactly favorites of mine. It’s certainly something I can’t relate to as I’m afraid I’m going to OD if I take one little wussy aspirin for a headache. The last drug movie I watched was The Basketball Diaries, which was also based on the real-life drug addiction of the story’s author. That movie was a little disappointing but had a good performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. I maybe liked it slightly more than this but Drugstore Cowboy is probably a bit better as a film.

The problem with these drug movies is that, even though they show the terrible effects that drugs have on people, I think they still manage to glamorize drug addiction to a certain degree. Diaries is more guilty of that than Cowboy – I think Drugstore Cowboy tells a more straightforward story without trying to appear too “cool”. However, it also makes for a slightly more boring film.

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I’ve never really liked Matt Dillon with his gormless face & Bert from Sesame Street eyebrows but I guess he’s fine in this (he’s just not on a Leonardo DiCaprio level acting-wise). Kelly Lynch was pretty good as Dillon’s bossy, horny girlfriend (or I think she may have been his wife?). I haven’t really seen Lynch in many films but all I ever think of is how Bill Murray calls her husband to tell him that Kelly is having sex with Patrick Swayze anytime Road House is playing on TV (I really need to watch that movie – it looks so gloriously bad). I was surprised to see a very young Heather Graham looking all cute like she did in License To Drive. That’s the thing with these Hollywood drug movies – you’d think only really attractive people become addicted to drugs.

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Overall, I liked Drugstore Cowboy okay but I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s life. It’s not as hard-hitting as some of the other drug addiction films that are out there but it does a decent job telling the story of a group of people who rob drugstores to feed their addiction and what a pointless existence they’re living.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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At Close Range (1986)

Directed by James Foley

Starring: Sean Penn, Christopher Walken, Mary Stuart Masterson, Crispin Glover, Tracey Walter, Christopher Penn, Kiefer Sutherland

My Opinion:

At Close Range is probably the best movie of these three but I really had no idea how mean and violent it was going to be. All I really knew of the movie was what I saw in the clips of that Madonna video Live To Tell. It’s an Eighties movie that I missed out on at the time but always kind of wanted to see (probably because of that video). When it appeared on Netflix, I decided to watch it after being reminded that Mary Stuart Masterson is in it (and Crispin Glover! he’s his usual weird, Crispin Glover self in this). Oh yeah – and Christopher Penn! I’ve always liked him more than grumpy Sean.

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I didn’t know that this movie was based on the true story of a notorious crime family in Pennsylvania in the 1960s & 70s. There’s very little information on the real life criminals on Wikipedia so I can’t say how accurate the movie is but it’s a very gritty film and Walken is truly evil in this role. It was strange to see Walken playing a bad guy with absolutely no over-the-top acting or sick sense of humor like in movies such as Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead. I absolutely HATED this guy (as you’re meant to) so I guess you can say that Walken played the role really well despite a very distracting hairstyle.

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At Close Range follows Sean Penn’s character and his estranged criminal father, played by Walken, who suddenly appears back in his son’s life and involves him in the family’s crime ring with very tragic consequences. Looking up the true story, I saw just how young these kids were when all this occurred (Penn’s character, his brother, his friends & his 15-year-old girlfriend) and I found it quite heartbreaking to see how this group of adult criminals were able to so easily use these young kids, some of them their own family, with absolutely no remorse.

At Close Range was a much darker movie than I was expecting for some reason (maybe because of that Madonna video) but I suppose it was a pretty good film. I’m just not normally a fan of true crime films as I find them too upsetting and the treatment of Penn’s & Masterson’s characters was especially difficult to watch. I’d recommend this if it sounds like your type of movie but be prepared to hate Walken’s character and to possibly feel a little angry when it finishes.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Slacker (1991)

Directed & Written by Richard Linklater

Starring: Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Mark James, Stella Weir, John Slate, Louis Mackey, Teresa Taylor

My Opinion:

I love Richard Linklater. I really do. Dazed And Confused is a favorite movie of mine and I really liked Boyhood even though a lot of people hated it. Bernie was pretty damn good as well, I love the relationship in the Before films, and School Of Rock is a huge guilty pleasure of mine (although I shouldn’t feel guilty about it – it’s great! Jack Black haters be GONE!). So…. I decided it was about time I check out Linklater’s feature length debut Slacker.

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Slacker has a high IMDB rating for an older film (7.1/10). I knew it was loads of “talking” like most of his films, which I don’t mind. Dazed And Confused and the Before films are loads of talking. The difference is that those films have characters we give a shit about and a f*%king STORY instead of a bunch of random idiots telling stupid, boring stories that have absolutely no connection to each other.

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I’m sorry to anyone who is a fan of this one but I just do NOT get the appeal. It would be okay if the pointless talking was funny and entertaining like it was in Dazed And Confused but none of it is funny or entertaining. Scratch that – the chick in the photo above (and the poster) is mildly (emphasis on mildly) entertaining as she discusses buying a Madonna pap smear (hey – a Madonna connection to my previous review!). I guess that’s why that character ended up on the poster as she’s the only one I can even remember other than Linklater himself, who starts off the string of pointless talking in the very first scene.

I guess the one good thing about Slacker is that it was the start of Linklater’s career. I’m still a fan of his as he went on to make much (much!) better films than this one but Slacker is a huge waste of time for anyone who isn’t a slacker and has better things to do with their time.

My Rating: 4.5/10