My Top Ten Steve Buscemi Movies

Happy Birthday to Steve Buscemi, who turns 60 today.

I love Steve Buscemi. What a great face! I like an interesting face. And I like when he’s in those Adam Sandler movies. I don’t care what people say – I don’t hate Sandler (but I don’t love him, either).

Anyway! It’s close to Christmas & I have a lot of bullshit going on & I don’t have time to dilly-dally (I love that word). So let’s just get to my countdown…

Here are My Top Ten Steve Buscemi Movies (ranked by how much I like the movie – not by performance). I’ve seen 24 in total, though, so let’s start counting down from 24 to be awkward.

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

24. Rising Sun
23. Domestic Disturbance
22. The Grifters
21. Mr. Deeds
20. Escape From L.A.
19. The Island
18. The Hotel Transylvania Movies
17. Grown Ups
16. Ghost World
15. 28 Days
14. Billy Madison
13. Airheads
12. Fargo
11. Armageddon

Top Ten:

10. The Big Lebowski

9. Big Daddy

8. Monsters University

7. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead

6. Big Fish

5. Pulp Fiction

4. Con Air

3. Reservoir Dogs

2. The Wedding Singer

1. Monsters, Inc.

Need To Re-Watch:
Monster House (I know I liked it at the time but don’t remember it now)

Some I’ve Not Seen:
Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Billy Bathgate, The Hudsucker Proxy, Desperado, Interview, On The Road

Honorable Mention:

I need to mention an episode of Tales From The Crypt called Forever Ambergris, which starred Steve Buscemi & The Who’s Roger Daltrey. I reviewed that episode in full a couple of years ago and, for some odd reason, it’s become my second most-viewed post of the past five years. A week doesn’t go by without it getting some views. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because of the nasty images from it that I posted (it was a pretty damn gross episode!). This is Buscemi and it’s not the worst he looks in the show:

Well, I have to say that I’m happy it’s one of my most-viewed posts since it’s one of my favorites. I went to town on that one! I actually made a half-arsed effort to make that one somewhat entertaining. What I mean is this: it sucks slightly less than my usual shit. So here’s a link to that post if you’re bothered. 🙂

Oh, and tomorrow afternoon I’ll do my best to post my review of a little indie film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi…. (I’m so damn excited!).

Advertisements

Tales From The Crypt – Forever Ambergris (1993) Review

**I’ve done this review as part of the Tales From The Crypt blogathon over at Channel: Superhero. Every day this month, someone will be reviewing a different episode of Tales From The Crypt so head on over there & check out all the participating entries! 🙂

My contribution below is a review of the episode Forever Ambergris, starring Roger Daltrey & Steve Buscemi.

Tales From The Crypt – Forever Ambergris (1993 – Season 5, Episode 3)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Roger Daltrey, Steve Buscemi, Paul Dooley, Marshall Bell, Lysette Anthony, John Kassir, Tim Ahern, Titus Welliver, Luis Antonio Ramos, Kevin Benton

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A jaded, has-been photographer plots the demise of his younger, talented protégé when they go on assignment in Central America.


No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man

My Opinion:

For some reason, I never saw many episodes of Tales From The Crypt although the stories are the type of thing that I like. They tended to have some sort of twist, right? Growing up, one of my first favorite TV shows was The Twilight Zone (it remains my very favorite now) so it seems like I should really try to check out more Tales From The Crypt episodes. I’d probably like the stories even though the “horror” side of things isn’t really for me so much. I’m really looking forward to reading all the other entries in Channel: Superhero’s blogathon this month! 🙂

So what did I, a bit of a wuss when it comes to gore, end up choosing as my episode to review? A thoroughly disgusting one that would give David Cronenberg’s body horror films a run for their money! Damn. And I only chose it because it starred Roger Daltrey & Steve Buscemi, which I thought was pretty damn cool.

As we’re meant to discuss the episode in its entirety as well as the tale’s “twist”, I’ll be doing that now & I’ll also be including the most gruesome images I could find. So, SPOILER & NASTY IMAGE WARNING! Here we go. 🙂


Steve Buscemi is a Happy Jack at first…

In this tale, Dalton (Roger Daltrey) & Ike aka Isaac (Steve Buscemi) are war photographers. Dalton was once the best but he’s lost his touch and the younger & more talented Ike looks set to achieve big success while Dalton becomes a has-been. It was funny that Buscemi was this “young guy” compared to Daltrey (but this was back in my generation of 1993 so I guess he was a lot younger then). Anyway, I love Buscemi and you can’t help but like his friendly & enthusiastic Ike.


The kids are alright

Ike is a big fan of Dalton’s work and invites him over one night to have dinner & meet his girlfriend Bobbi (Lysette Anthony). Dalton is immediately smitten with the gorgeous blonde Bobbi (especially after later that night when he peaks through the bedroom door to watch her having sex with Ike. With her fully naked & on top, of course. Sorry, guys – I couldn’t find an image of that). 😉


“Hey, baby. They call me The Seeker.”

Naturally, the already jealous Dalton becomes more & more obsessed with Ike’s life and, when they’re sent on an assignment to war-torn Central America, he devises a plan to get his career back (and hopefully become the substitute for Ike in Bobbi’s life).


He wants her squeeze box…

While on the plane to Central America, Dalton is visited by a (ghost??) played by Marshall Bell (a total “Hey, who are you?” guy who, to me, will always be Gordie’s asshole father in Stand By Me). He tells of a village in which the population was decimated by a disease caused by some sort of germ warfare. This is when Dalton’s evil plan fully takes shape.


How do you think he does it?

He convinces Ike, as he’s his “friend”, to go to the village because he’s heard rumors of devastation that will guarantee Ike the opportunity to capture some once in a lifetime photos & to achieve the level of fame that Dalton once had. Does the trusting Ike do as Dalton says & visit the village while Dalton remains at the camp? You better you bet!

As soon as Ike gets back & joins Dalton in their tent, it soon becomes obvious that something isn’t right with Ike. First this happens:


Dizzy in the head and I’m feeling bad

Then his eye pops right the hell out:


I can see for miles

Then the evil Dalton, not content with just stealing Ike’s roll of film which Dalton will pass off as his own once Ike has taken the magic bus to heaven, decides to put his cigarette out in Ike’s eyeball:


See me, feel me

Afterwards, back in America, Dalton visits Ike’s girlfriend Bobbi to give his condolences and, of course, to hopefully win her affections as they had some pretty strong sexual chemistry when they first met. But Bobbi has other plans as she knows the photos published after that fateful trip weren’t Dalton’s as claimed.


There has to be a twist

After smoking some weed together, Bobbi and Dalton have sex, during which Bobbi reveals that what they smoked was sent to her by Ike from that contaminated village in Central America. She’s given them both the virus as she doesn’t want to live without her beloved Ike and wants to ensure that Dalton pays for Ike’s death. So as they screw, the virus causes her spine to burst and she bleeds all over Dalton as her skin melts off. Dalton freaks out & runs to the bathroom just in time to see his nose drop off into the sink. Plop! He’ll no longer play by sense of smell…


He won’t get fooled again!

Thanks for letting me join in on this blogathon! 🙂 I’m going to go watch more Tales From The Crypt now. I suppose I should give this a rating like I do with my movie reviews. I can’t really compare it to other episodes as I’ve not seen many but I did enjoy it & loved that it starred Daltrey & Buscemi, who looked so young! Definitely a little too gross for me but I do love an occasional body horror film and the special effects on Buscemi, although of course dated, really looked just as good as a lot of older movies that probably had a much higher budget. Definitely an episode that should be seen by fans of the show if they haven’t seen it already.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Oh, by the way, I wondered what the heck “ambergris” was so I looked it up at Wikipedia:

Ambergris is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales.

Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, faecal odour. However, as it ages, it acquires a sweet, earthy scent commonly likened to the fragrance of rubbing alcohol without the vaporous chemical astringency. Although ambergris was formerly highly valued by perfumers as a fixative (allowing the scent to last much longer), it has now largely been replaced by synthetics.

Hmm. Make of that what you will from the story.

Here’s the Crypt Keeper pretending to be a photographer during the episode. His model is a bit chubby by today’s standards. Of course, her head falls off anyway.


They’re all wasted!

Headhunters (2011) Review Chat With Laura Of Filmnerdblog

I watched Norwegian film Headhunters on Filmnerdblog Laura’s recommendation & we decided to have a little chat about it. You can read our chat below (we did try to avoid any major plot spoilers).

Thanks for doing this with me Laura – it was lots of fun! And it was a great recommendation, too. 🙂

Headhunters (2011)

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Based on Hodejegerne by Jo Nesbø

Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Eivind Sander, Julie Ølgaard

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A successful but insecure corporate recruiter lives a double life as an art thief to fund his lavish lifestyle. He finds out that one of his job prospects is in possession of a valuable painting and sets out to steal it.

Our Chat: (I’m “M”, Laura is “L”… Obviously!)

M: Hi! 🙂

L: Mutant!

M: I have Headhunters on in the background to refresh my memory but forgot that I can’t understand a damn word so it’s kind of pointless to have it on while typing… Lol

L: Ha! When did you watch it? I watched it on Tuesday, but had seen it before.

M: I watched it about a month ago. I remember it well anyway. I really liked it!

L: It’s good isn’t it? I wanted to see it because it’s based on a Jo Nesbo book and I’ve read most of the Harry Hole books, which I really liked. Plus… ding dong!

M: Hello Jaime Lannister! When did he get so hot?! I can’t believe I never noticed how hot he was on Game Of Thrones. The sister screwing distracted me!

L: And the sister raping was the final nail in that coffin for me, but in a suit? And with that moody look on his face? Simply, yes.

M: Hell yes! And he was also super hot in Mama, which almost made that movie not suck. Almost…

L: Oh yeah, I forgot he was in that. And as twins, too!

M: But I do love how the other guy in Headhunters is like the Norwegian Steve Buscemi!

L: You’re so right! He was really good, but I did find his peculiar face a bit distracting. It was just right for the character, though.

M: Oh, right – I forgot Jaime Lannister dude was twins in Mama! I’ve tried to put that shitty movie out of my mind. Hmm – two of him… We could share! I think maybe I liked this movie so much partly because of the main guy’s weird face. I have a weird sort of crush on Buscemi.

M: I also love Norwegians, so that helps. But Troll Hunter is still my favorite!

L: Wow, that IS a weird crush! Mama was SO SHIT everyone should probably put it out of their minds. I liked Troll Hunter too. Rare Exports was good as well. Was that Norwegian? Or Danish? I don’t remember. But anyway, Headhunters

M: I don’t know that one – I’ll have to IMDB that later! Oh – I like those earrings Buscemi guy buys his way-too-sexy-for-him wife. I have similar from my Norwegian ancestors. The concave mirror bits apparently “ward off evil spirits”.

M: Can’t find the exact earrings from the movie. Plus I don’t think mine are anywhere near as expensive as hers!!

L: Ah, pretty…

L: She reminded me of Heidi Klum. She was way out of his league. Not so much because he looks like he fell out of the ugly tree but because he was such a monumental douche.

M: Ha! Oh – Gollum is so cute in that picture. Actually, he looks kind of like the dude in this movie (Aksel Hennie – I suppose I should stop calling him Norwegian Steve Buscemi).

M: Yeah – I think she’s even prettier than Klum. Definitely out of his league, especially when he’s being such a douche at first!

M: Boob-grabbing douche!

L: I was really annoyed at how he gives her absolutely no credit throughout the entire film. He’s so insecure.

L: I mean, he thinks she’s a gold-digger, right?

M: I know! If he thought that, why did he marry her? Because she’s pretty, of course! Plus, what a DICK he was to be banging away at that other woman while he has such a lovely wife at home who treats him so well! (not really a spoiler as he’s shown cheating at the very start)

M: Shirtless Jaime Lannister on right now!!! (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is his real name. I was too lazy to type that out during the chat) 😉

L: The character was called Roger(!) so we could call him Roger?

M: Sounds good! Oh, main guy was Roger. Lannister was Clas. Thank you, IMDB!

L: I only watched it 2 days ago and had already forgotten.

L: Anyway, Roger was an arse. His wife was gorgeous, loving, and kind. And he thought the worst of her, and treated her so badly.

M: Asswipe! I could say he maybe changes his ways at the end. Is that a spoiler? I won’t get into any major plot spoilers I suppose as one thing I really liked about this movie is that it actually keeps you guessing. For once I didn’t have it all figured out from the start! I loved that. It was twisty & turny and I thought the climactic moment toward the end was quite brilliant. The “plan”…

L: Yeah he did get a grip by the end but, look what it took to get there?! None of that is acceptable behaviour in a relationship, and he didn’t deserve her loyalty. I feel very strongly about this!

M: Hehe. I noticed! You can tell we’re women. 😉

M: I wish Roger had been more likeable but another thing I did like about this movie was that it wasn’t exactly the movie I was expecting. It starts out this high class “art heisting” movie, which is cool. But then it REALLY goes to shit for Roger (literally).

M: I liked how there was a sort of a dark humor to the whole thing.

L: Yeah, it was really clever, and good at subverting your expectations because, as you say, it isn’t a straight art heist movie. Is that a spoiler?! I really liked that it kept switching on me, when I thought it was one thing and then it was something else.

L: Urgh! Imagine the smell!!!

M: Lol. I know!!! That outhouse scene was nasty. I almost couldn’t watch it. But it was kind of awesome as well. Yuck! Disgust indeed. 😉

L: This looks good – Max Manus: Man Of War

L: Sorry, I digress…

M: Oh look – Norwegian Buscemi again. That does look kind of good! I really should explore more foreign films instead of just the famous ones I hear about…

M: Ha! I’m a terrible digresser. Always digressing!

L: I love foreign films but it’s hard to fit them in because it means I can’t simultaneously prat around on the internet.

M: Hahaha! EXACTLY! I love to second-screen (except in an actual cinema, of course. That would be super rude). But at home I’m almost always writing a review while watching a movie. Or tweeting!

M: No wonder I have such a terrible memory when it comes to movies I watch lately…

L: Yep, it’s hard not to. I’m currently watching Trollied.

M: Oh! It’s the outhouse scene right now! EW.

L: Yuk!

M: What the hell is that? I’ll look it up on my iPad. I’m actually three-screening right now. 😉

L: You’re taking it to another level, now.

M: Ohh – English TV show?

L: Yeah, it’s quite cute.

M: I’m one bad, multi-tasking fucker! Hmm – I really should try watching English TV shows since I’ve been here over a decade now. Lol

L: Definitely.

M: I did like Never Mind The Buzzcocks when it was good. Are we digressing again???

L: We’re digressing again, should we wrap up this Headhunters business so I can go and look up more pics of Jaime Lannister…?

M: You’ve already been doing that this whole time, haven’t you? I know I have a bit. 😉 Right! Let’s wrap up this Headhunters conversation. Um… I recommend it! It’s good! You get to see the Norwegian Steve Buscemi covered in shit! And Jaime Lannister looking super hot! I give it 7.5/10

M: And I’ll possibly read some Jo Nesbo now. 🙂

L: I concur. Part of me wishes that Roger was a likeable protagonist I could cheer for, but I do like that it wasn’t a run of the mill, paint by numbers, lovable rogue heist movie. Maybe I’ll cheer for the wife. Yay, Diana!

M: Hooray for Diana! I liked that she was not only sexy but also smart. Poop on Roger! Cheating bastard.

L: Screw Roger!

L: I recommend it too. Smart, original and intriguing. Jaime Lannister is a hottie, obvs and I really like the main female character, Diana. Norwegian Steve was good, too. 7/10

L: Also, knitwear

jaime knit

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995) Review

IMG_9870

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

Directed by Gary Fleder

Starring: Andy García, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Bill Nunn, Treat Williams, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Christopher Walken, Michael Nicolosi, Bill Cobbs, Marshall Bell, Glenn Plummer

Running time: 115 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Five different criminals face imminent death after botching a job quite badly.

IMG_0912

My Opinion:

Okay…. I think it was almost a year ago that I watched this movie so I guess I’ve put off reviewing it for long enough. It’s a favorite of a fellow blogger who shall remain nameless (ERIC!) and he and another blogger who shall remain nameless (MARK!) were always shouting (well, typing) “Boat Drinks!” at each other and I was like “What the hell is that all about?”. I was never in a big hurry to watch the “movie where they shoot people up the butt” but it was on TV one day so I thought “Screw it – let’s see what this Boat Drinks thing is all about”.

IMG_0918

Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead was better than I was expecting based on what it’s most famous for (the butt thing. sorry – I normally avoid spoilers on this blog but, seriously, it’s such a well known fact about this film & probably why I avoided it for so long). I have to say it’s actually a pretty solid crime drama with some really great characters and some very memorable lines & scenes. It seems to get compared to (or accused of ripping off) the previous year’s Pulp Fiction a lot but, in some ways, I think it’s actually a better film (I find Pulp Fiction overrated). I think it’s closer to, although not as good as, Reservoir Dogs. It has the same sort of interesting characters, amusingly witty banter, shady characters, violence, and the always entertaining Steve Buscemi. I suppose it just didn’t have the “style” the Tarantino films have so it didn’t get the same level of attention. Which is sort of a shame because, if you haven’t seen this, you’re missing a fantastic performance from Christopher Lloyd. He was the best thing about the movie for me and the “boat drinks” scene between him & Andy Garcia is the definite highlight of the film. It’s a wonderful scene! I’m happy I saw the movie just for Christopher Lloyd and that one scene.

IMG_0920

There are other good things about the movie, though. Lloyd was my favorite but each character in this group of misfits is entertaining and they all have very different personalities, meaning that everyone who watches this will have a different favorite character. I have to say that Treat Williams as a violent lunatic was a real treat for a change (ha!) and I always enjoy seeing Steve Buscemi in a movie even if he’s playing a similar sort of role as he has in a lot of other films. The two female characters (Fairuza Balk & Gabrielle Anwar) are of course pretty unimportant in this “guy movie” (typical) but I don’t really have too much of a complaint there – they get a bit more screen time than other female characters in similar “movies for dudes”. My only real disappointment, unfortunately, was with Christopher Walken. I like Walken most of the time but, in this, he’s a little too “Christopher Walken”. If you love him, you’ll like him in this as he’s being his usual, crazy sort of character but it almost felt like he was bored in this one. I don’t know… I think it’s one way in which Pulp Fiction has this movie beat – Walken was more interesting with a watch up his ass.

IMG_0911

IMG_0913

Summary:

I think that Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, although not my usual sort of movie, is a very good film within its violent crime genre. I think it actually deserves more praise & recognition than it seems to have gotten. This is probably down to it coming out after both Reservoir Dogs & Pulp Fiction and being accused of being a Tarantino rip-off. It’s not as good as a Tarantino movie but it’s also much better than a lot of the other films that could be accused of ripping him off. I suppose it could be argued that there would be no Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead if there was no Reservoir Dogs but I don’t think that matters – plenty of films are similar and it’s still a good movie in its own right. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a fan of this genre. I’ll also make a bold statement here & say that I actually enjoyed this movie more than another similar film that also came out in 1995 – The Usual Suspects. The ending of that one is of course great but, overall, I liked this one more.

My Rating: 7.5/10

IMG_0915

**Speaking of one of those bloggers who likes this movie, I participated in Eric’s popular Shitfest celebration of horribly bad movies over at Isaacs Picture Conclusions. You can view my entry, a review of the annoying Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, HERE. 🙂

IMG_0832

Reservoir Dogs (1992) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

IMG_8752

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Rob of MovieRob. He also reviewed Saving Private Ryan and The Manchurian Candidate and Pulp Fiction and Strangers On A Train. Thanks for all the reviews, Rob! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Reservoir Dogs, IMDB rank 70 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.

IMG_8751

Reservoir Dogs (1992) is the movie that made me fall in love with Quentin Tarantino’s film making style.

Most people didn’t hear about him until he made Pulp Fiction, but I somehow came across this movie when it was released on video in 1993.

Because it’s a low budget movie, Tarantino decided to save money on filming the actual heist portrayed in the movie, but rather used other moviemaking techniques to make us believe that we saw what happened during the heist despite having the movie begin during the aftermath.

The way he did this was to create a perfect mix of conversational dialogue and storytelling by the characters that we get such a complete picture in our minds of the event that creates the movie’s story without seeing one shot (from a camera or bullet) within the store.

On his script alone, Tarantino was able to gather such a talented cast who all agree to low salaries to be a part of this near-masterpiece.

Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen and Tarantino himself are all perfect in their roles and we get drawn in more and more as the movie moves along.
Being a fan of obscure movies let Tarantino “borrow” different elements from so many movies in order to create this film.

Among them, there are definitely blatant references to The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974) and The Killing (1956)

This movie also has changed the way anyone will ever think of the song Stuck in the Middle With You

For a debut film, it quite amazing how great a movie Tarantino was able to construct.

Most people still think that Pulp Fiction is his best film, but this movie on a small budget is done so perfectly in a simple fashion that in my eyes, even the great Pulp Fiction can’t hold a candle to this excellent heist movie.

10/10

Fargo (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

20140624-123729 am-2249014.jpg

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Cara of Silver Screen Serenade. Thanks for being a part of this project, Cara! (and Happy Blogiversary). 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about Fargo, IMDB rank 127 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.

20140623-120100 am-60576.jpg

I have a confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of the Coen brothers. I’ll pause to let the many, horrified gasps die down…

Everybody good? Because yep. I said it.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen all of their allegedly best stuff (i.e. The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, etc.), but what I have seen has gotten a mostly “meh” reaction out of me—the one exception being O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which I find quite wonderful. But I wanted to watch Fargo because I was very curious about the FX series based on the film (and starring Martin Freeman, whom I adore). So when Miss Mutant’s list popped up and Fargo was a choice, I snatched it up. Was it a worthy choice? Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen

Starring:

Frances McDormand
William H. Macy
Steve Buscemi
Harve Presnell
Peter Stormare

Music by Carter Burwell

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot synopsis: (via IMDb)

Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

20140623-120200 am-120969.jpg

What I liked:

  • The accents. They. Crack. Me. Up. I don’t know what it is about Northern Midwest American accents, but I find them completely hilarious. I think it stems from my longtime love of the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous. Have you guys seen that? It’s wonderful. Or maybe only I think it’s wonderful. Whatever. Point is, the accents in Fargo are just as funny.
  • The actors. William H. Macy as bumbling, seemingly nice guy Jerry Lundegaard, Steve Buscemi as lusty, overly talkative henchman Carl Showalter, and Frances McDormand as clever, very pregnant police officer Marge Gunderson. It’s a bizarre cast of quirky characters, and they’re all fantastic.
  • Not only are many of the individual characters great, but the relationships are great, too. Marge and her husband, Norm (John Carroll Lynch), have the most adorable marriage ever. Tough Marge goes to work to keep the town safe while easy-going Norm enters painting competitions. They have meals together—big meals since pregnant Marge is constantly hungry. They fall asleep watching TV. Then there’s Carl and his strong, silent partner, Gaear. Definitely not as cohesive a relationship (as anyone who has seen the end of this film knows), but they’re a pretty funny odd couple. There are a lot of opposites like these in the film, and it works well.
  • The setting. There are more snow-covered scenes than you could possibly think to count, and it gives the film a very unique vibe. This is a place dominated by winter for a good portion of the year, and it shows.
  • The fact that some of these things actually happened. Fargo makes a big show of proclaiming itself a “true story” during the opening scene, which is embellishing—the plot and the characters are completely imagined. However, some of the events are taken from real-life, reminding us what a bizarre world we live in…
  • The wood chipper scene. Gruesome and severely twisted, but…lol.

20140623-120259 am-179386.jpg

What I didn’t like:

  • Aside from Marge, it seems like no one in this town has more than a brain cell apiece. I realize this is supposed to be for comedic effects—and there are several moments when it’s very funny—but c’mon…no one else is even remotely intelligent? It seems like there ought to be at least a couple more characters in there who aren’t brain-dead.
  • A person gets shot in the head, and it’s very “eww.”
  • There’s a very random, very bizarre scene involving a hotel room hook-up. It’s supposed to be funny, and I guess it kind of is, but part of me couldn’t help thinking, “Wait, what purpose does this scene have?” And dovetailing off of that…
  • At one point, Marge meets up with an old high school buddy, and things get downright awkward. Again, the scene is so random and unnecessary that I was a little confused about why it made it into the film in the first place. Stuff like this happens so often in Coen films. In fact, can we just all agree to start calling throw-in scenes like this a “Coen?”
  • The ending. Marge gives a great speech toward the end that I fully expected to be followed by the closing credits, but the film goes on a bit longer, making you think maybe it’s leading to something more…and then it ends. It’s a bit of a letdown. Coen films do that a lot, too, don’t they? Hmm. At this rate, we’re going to have to start calling a lot of things a “Coen.”

20140623-120345 am-225419.jpg

Summary:

Despite my qualms, I did enjoy this film. It’s a quirky, funny crime film that is bursting with personality, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the performances are superb. Plus, the “true events” aspect of this film adds an interesting layer—even if the truth is super stretched. I still don’t like this one better than O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and I think I actually might prefer FX’s Fargo series to this, but I’d still say this film is worth a watch.

My Rating: 8/10 (Probably an A- or so on my rating system)

Thanks for letting me partake, Mutant! You’re the coolest!

20140623-120449 am-289150.jpg

The Big Lebowski (1998) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

20140604-090330 pm-75810834.jpg

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on The Big Lebowski, IMDB rank 131 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.

20140604-090456 pm-75896151.jpg

Directors: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Screenplay: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazarra, David Thewlis, Jon Polito, Tara Reid, Peter Stormare, Flea, Torsten Voges, Aimee Mann, Mark Pellegrino, Philip Moon, Jack Kehler, Jimmie Dale Gilmour, Leon Russom, Ajgie Kirkland, Asia Carrera.

This film has such a massive cult following that it has even spawned a traveling, annual festival called “The Lebowski Fest“, at which fans congregate dressed as their favourite characters. It has also amassed a new belief system called “Dudeism” of which you can be ordained as a Dudeist priest. Now, this might be going a bit far but it’s all in the name of fun, of which, this Coen brothers tale supplies plenty of.

Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is a cannabis smoking throwback from the seventies. He minds his own business, enjoying “bowling, driving around and the occasional acid flashback”. One day, two thugs break into his home and urinate on his rug – “which really tied the room together”. As he looks for answers, he finds that he has been mistaken for his namesake Jeffrey Lebowski, the Passadena millionaire (David Huddleston). Otherwise referred to as “The Big Lebowski”. Looking for compensation for his rug, he pays the millionaire a visit and finds that his absent, trophy wife Bunny (Tara Reid) owes money all over town – including known pornographer Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazarra), who sent the thugs (to the wrong house) to collect on the debt. But the thugs aren’t the only ones who have gotten their Lebowski’s mixed up. A trio of Nihilists threaten “The Dude” for a ransom of $1 million, claiming they will kill his wife. Reluctantly, “The Dude” gets involved, with his crazed Vietnam veteran buddy Walter (John Goodman), in trying to get the bottom of all the confusion. Does this make sense? Don’t worry, “The Dude” doesn’t get it either.

Trying to even give a synopsis of the plot in this complex tale, is hard enough, but that’s to the Coens’ credit in concocting this elaborate modern day private detective story. In the past, the Coens payed homage to crime writer Dashiell Hammett with “Miller’s Crossing” and here, they pay homage to Hammett’s contemporary Raymond Chandler. It has all the elements of a classic private-eye yarn but masquerades as a zany comedy. It’s so much more than that. It’s a film that relies heavily on consistently sharp dialogue and each word, pause and stammer are delivered perfectly by an exceptionally brilliant cast; Bridges is a very fine actor but this is his moment of glory, in a role that is perfectly suited. He has received numerous plaudits throughout his career – for his more serious roles – but this is his most iconic. Coens regular John Goodman is also at his maniacal best as his loyal buddy, Walter. Sam Elliott is wonderfully endearing, as “The Stranger”, in cowboy attire, that narrates the whole wacky tale and a scene-stealing John Turturro is simply unforgettable as Jesus Quintana, a latino, sex-offending bowler. In fact, it’s very difficult to single out a specific performance, there are so many great appearances: from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, David Thewlis, Ben Gazzara, Jon Polito and the always marvellous Philip Seymour Hoffman. The entire cast are just sublime and deliver their, razor sharp, dialogue under the most creative guidance from the Coens. It’s not just the performances that stand out though; usual Coens cinematographer Roger Deakins works with a rich and colourful pallet and the choice of music throughout, accompanies the scenes perfectly. I could go on and pick out every perfect detail of this classic but then I’d just be ruining it for you, even if you’ve already seen it. It’ll do no harm to see it again – with a spliff and a beverage – and allow your “casualness to run deep”.

I have tried to find the words that do this film justice but I still don’t think I have. Rest assured though, this is the most enjoyable Coens movie to date and an instant cult classic that wll take one hell of a film to topple it from my #1 spot.

20140604-090616 pm-75976184.jpg

Mark Walker

20140604-090645 pm-76005590.jpg

Big Fish (2003) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

20140524-083928 am-31168367.jpg

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe has already reviewed The Departed (HERE) and The Green Mile (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Zoe! 🙂 Now let’s hear her thoughts on Big Fish, IMDB rank 242 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.

20140524-085315 am-31995477.jpg

Here is another film I undertook to see for Table9Mutant and her IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having a blast with this as I have been given the opportunity to go back and revisit some great  movies again, and there were quite a few that I had been meaning to get to again and look into. Without further ado, let me commence with sharing my feelings on Big Fish.

20140524-081326 am-29606744.jpg

“A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.” – Will Bloom

The story revolves around a dying father and his son, who is trying to learn more about his dad by piecing together the stories he has gathered over the years. The son winds up re-creating his father’s elusive life in a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts he knows. Through these tales, the son begins to understand his father’s great feats and his failings. (IMDB)

20140524-081448 am-29688742.jpg
“They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true.” – Edward Bloom

An 8/10 for Big Fish. This is a Tim Burton film, and certainly one of his finest films. While you can see it is a Burton flick due to the fantastical presentation of things, the story reels you in more effectively than many he has told recently, resonating with you when all is said and done. Big Fish boasts a phenomenal cast and they all bring the goods to the table effortlessly. Helena Bonham Carter was, as always, incredibly impressive. There was plenty of humour to go around in this movie without it getting old or too extremely cheesy or feeling too forced, but not enough for it to take front and centre stage either. Jessica Lange was perfectly cast to play Sandra K Bloom, she was beautiful, sweet, caring and a wonderful mother and loyal wife. Alison Lohman could conceivably have been her when she was younger, and I liked that you could see that Lange had grown from the woman that Lohman was. Ewan McGregor was fantastic to watch as the young Edward Bloom, and wove an impressive story, undertaking to show you something whimsical if only you would accompany him on his journey. Billy Crudup played the embittered and frustrated son that still loves his father though he does not like him very much. He played that well and was convincing. At times I could understand his frustration, and then at other times I thought it was excessive. The costume design was just amazing in here, telling a story completely on its own. I like how the movie explored reconciliation (without it being some serious overkill crap) and how people identify things differently, and the truth is simply how something is perceived.

20140524-081700 am-29820592.jpg
“I don’t think I’ll ever dry out.” – Sandra Templeton

There were so many scenes that were just put together so well and were just beautiful. I loved the scene where the young Edward Bloom finally sets eyes on a young Sandra Templeton and instantly falls in love. Time stops and it just lingers there, and he walks through it. Everything is frozen around him, the popcorn hangs in the air and gets brushed aside, he steps through hoops to get to her, the whole time completely enthralled, and the next thing you know time catches up, double time. It was just such an arrestingly beautiful scene and demands your attention, that you watch it and see how it all comes together. There are a few of these. This is also a beautiful story of true love and how it can last, how sometimes things just are perfect in life, and that is just that.  The score worked for this movie, too, but I must say is rather forgettable when all is said and done at the end of the day. Typical Danny Elfman/Tim Burton collaboration, and that is by no which means said in a demeaning manner. Big Fish is inspiring, though at times it gets annoying to watch father and son arguing all the time. Albert Finney was great to play the old man that Edward Bloom became. It was a lovely journey to follow through, to see what the son thought of his father and his stories, to see how he desperately just wanted the truth and was willing to dig for it, and how his father was just a passionate storyteller who loved his son, no matter what his son thought of him.

20140524-081901 am-29941663.jpg
“Everybody’s there, and I mean everybody. And the strange thing is, there’s not a sad face to be found, everyone’s just so happy to see you.” – Will Bloom

I must say that the present day storytelling was nice in the movie, but I was much more excited for and taken by the wonderful past experiences that Edward had to tell, the outline of his youth, the things that he had done, the places he had gone, the people he had met. They were insanely interesting and even though the tales are tall and a little ludicrous, when they are told the way they were laid out here, one is almost willing to forget that the movie is supposed to be deeply steeped in realism, and go out on a whim that Edward had the magical experiences that he proclaimed to. However, when the present rolls around again and you see it all as it is, that is when you know that he cannot seriously be telling the truth, everything is so plain and boring outside of his mind. Big Fish is a beautiful and stunning story, with an enchanting fairy tale element to it that works on many levels; this movie is definitely worth checking out if you have not done so already!

Monsters University (2013) Review

20130713-123541 PM.jpg
Monsters University

Directed by Dan Scanlon

Starring Voice Actors:
Billy Crystal
John Goodman
Steve Buscemi
Helen Mirren
Alfred Molina

Music by Randy Newman

Studio:
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

This prequel to Monsters Inc shows us how best friends Mike & Sulley first met while at Monsters University. And how they weren’t exactly best friends at first…

20130713-123634 PM.jpg
My Opinion:

Oh Pixar… I love you so much. You’ve brought me so much happiness over the years, which is pretty amazing considering that I was already an adult when Toy Story came out. I won’t go on about Pixar too much – I’ll get on with the Monsters University review. Just letting you know I’m a HUGE Pixar fan.

20130713-123743 PM.jpg
Does Monsters University live up to Monsters Inc? No, of course not. But I doubt anyone expected it to – that would be a pretty impossible task as the first one is absolutely brilliant. One of the best things about the first one is the relationship between Sulley and the adorable Boo. Obviously, you don’t get that here so I knew from the start that it was going to be missing a big part of what helped to make these characters (especially Sulley) so endearing in the first place. I was also a bit worried as the trailers were making it look more and more like some sort of All-American Animal House kind of college comedy film. And it is. But it’s still fun and it was great seeing two of my favorite characters together again.

20130713-123907 PM.jpg
As far as Pixar sequels (er, prequels) go, Monsters University is unfortunately not as good as Toy Story 2 & 3 were. I felt those really stood on their own as good films – the third one actually managed to be almost as good as the first while the second one was very funny. I was hoping that, where Monsters University wouldn’t have another “Boo” relationship, it would at least be really funny to make up for it. And it IS funny (unlike most inferior kids films from other studios, such as Dreamworks). But it had way fewer laughs than I was expecting – Monsters Inc is much more funny overall. I think a big part of the reason is that Mike Wazowski, one of my favorite movie characters EVER, is far more serious in Monsters University as he works very hard to achieve his dream of becoming the best scarer at Monsters University and to work at Monsters Inc. Okay – I realize he’s very serious in the original as well but all the funny stuff at his expense just worked much better in that one. Also, Sulley isn’t the loveable big blue furball that he is in the first one. As I said, this is thanks to the fact that we don’t have Boo there to help make his character that way. But also, and I think this is pretty common knowledge by now, he starts out a little “less than likeable” in Monsters University. But we all know that this prequel is about watching HOW the friendship develops between these two very different monsters and that was fun to watch. I still adore these two guys!

20130713-123833 PM.jpg
Summary:

As to be expected, it lacks a lot of the heart of Monsters Inc but is also unfortunately lacking in the number of laughs we get from that one. It’s a bit too “frat humor” at times, which kids and most people outside of America won’t relate to. And the straight-forward college comedy/underdog storyline just can’t compare to the totally “out there” concept of Monsters Inc, which I feel sometimes doesn’t get the credit it deserves for how truly original it is.

20130713-123933 PM.jpg
I hate that I’m making Monsters University sound bad, though, as it certainly isn’t – it’s just very hard to NOT compare it to the Monsters Inc movie I so adore. It does drag a bit in the middle but the beginning and, luckily, the ending DO make up for it and capture some of the magic (and some of the “heart” I keep mentioning) of the original. I obviously won’t give away the ending but I’m happy to report that I found it a satisfying conclusion (or “beginning” if you want to look at it that way) for Mike & Sulley. And as my hubby pointed out, it sends a good message to kids – which is good after a bit too much “college humor” that probably went over their heads. As for the beginning: I loved it. Probably my favorite part of the whole movie. But Mike Wazowski has always been my favorite… For lovers of Mike, you’ll be happy to know that Monsters University is much more the story of Mike whereas Monsters Inc is more Sulley’s story. And Mike as a little kid is the cutest thing I’ve seen in a very long time. 🙂

My Rating: 7.5/10

(FYI – My Monsters Inc rating is probably 9.5/10)

20130713-124003 PM.jpg
Scene After The Credits?: Yes, Monsters University does have an extra little fun scene at the very end of the credits. Worth watching for completionists. Like me.

Characters From Monsters Inc?: Yes, we get to see some characters from Monsters Inc. I won’t say who so it can be a surprise. I feel bad at not mentioning Randall – it was fun seeing him again as well. Watch for the poster above his bed – You’ll recognize it if you know Monsters Inc well.

How does Monsters University compare to Despicable Me 2?: I was very much looking forward to both of these as I love the originals so much. My fear was that Despicable Me 2 was looking like it was going to be much better than Monsters University. Well, I do think Despicable Me 2 did manage to live up to its original a bit more than Monsters University did. I thoroughly enjoyed both but almost hate to say that I enjoyed Despicable Me 2 (slightly!) more. My review is HERE if you’re bothered.