My Top Ten Willem Dafoe Movies

Happy Birthday to Willem Dafoe, who is 62 tomorrow.

I have to admit that I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Dafoe. I think he’s a decent actor & has been in an interesting range of films but my main reason for even giving him much thought is probably because he’s one of so few actors from my home state. Why are there so few famous people from my state?!

As with all my actor top tens, these are ranked from my least favorite to favorite movie instead of by performance (Although, to be honest, number one is probably my favorite performance as well. He’s awesome in that!). So here are My Top Ten Willem Dafoe Movies:

The Rest That I’ve Seen:

18. The English Patient (screw this movie)
17. Speed 2: Cruise Control
16. American Dreamz
15. American Psycho
14. Cry-Baby
13. Born On The Fourth Of July
12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Clear And Present Danger (barely remember it, to be honest)

Top Ten:

10. TIE: The Fault In Our Stars & Daybreakers

9. Odd Thomas

8. The Spider-Man Movies

7. The Aviator

6. Streets Of Fire

5. Platoon

4. John Wick

3. The Hunger

2. eXistenZ

1. Finding Nemo

Honorable Mention:
Finding Dory, because it’s just a small cameo

Some Of The Many I’ve Not Seen:
To Live And Die In L.A., Mississippi Burning, Wild At Heart, Body Of Evidence, Basquiat, The Boondock Saints, Shadow Of The Vampire, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Manderlay, Inside Man, Tales From Earthsea, Antichrist, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Cirque Du Freak, John Carter, Nymphomaniac Vol II, The Grand Budapest Hotel

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The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) Blind Spot Review

The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey, Harry Dean Stanton, David Bowie

Music by Peter Gabriel

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Like the novel, the film depicts the life of Jesus Christ and his struggle with various forms of temptation including fear, doubt, depression, reluctance and lust.

My Opinion:

I’ll keep this short & I’ll be totally honest – The Last Temptation Of Christ was on my 2017 Blind Spot list mainly because I wanted to see David Bowie’s role in it. So now I can say I have! All five minutes (at most) of it, toward the end of the 2 hour & 44 minute film. I suppose I also wanted to add another Martin Scorsese film to my ranked list of his films that I’ve seen (it doesn’t quite make it into the top ten, out of the 12 I’ve seen, nor does it make the list of My Top Ten Harry Dean Stanton Movies). Not gonna lie – out of almost a year & a half of doing this Blind Spot thing, this film is easily my least favorite & was the biggest struggle to work my way through.

I won’t get into the film’s story and religious beliefs. I watched this because I’m a film fan & it’s a movie by a very respected director with some big name stars (and because: David Bowie). No, “biblical dramas” are not at all the type of genre I go for (give me sci-fi) so that wasn’t going to help but it’s definitely overlong and it didn’t feel as, I don’t know… As well put together as most of Scorsese’s other work? I know nothing about filmmaking but this just isn’t up there with the likes of something like Goodfellas (also a genre that’s not at all my type of thing but a good film is a good film, whatever the genre). Not that this isn’t a good film… It must be a decent piece of filmmaking considering that Scorsese was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for it, the film’s one & only nomination. Hmm. It’s very hard to review respected films that just really didn’t speak to you personally! That’s why I’m keeping this very short for a Blind Spot review. I’d love to instead hear from fellow bloggers who, unlike me, have strong opinions one way or another about this film. I do know it was & still is very controversial & hated by some while there are others who think it’s another Scorsese masterpiece.

The acting is solid and Dafoe does a good job but I also felt that the acting let the film down a bit. I didn’t think “Wow – so-and-so was brilliant in this film!” the way I’ve thought some of the actors were pretty amazing in the majority of Scorsese’s other films. Some felt very miscast (Keitel) while some are actors I’ve never been particularly impressed with (Hershey). Okay okay – and my beloved Bowie! I fully admit that acting was never his biggest talent… 😉 However, he did okay in his very small role & didn’t feel as out of place as some of those in larger roles. Harry Dean Stanton was a highlight, though – he’s such an underrated actor.

Overall, I’m sorry to say that this is one of those films that I won’t remember much of a year or so from now. There weren’t really any specific scenes that stood out in my mind (we all know the story already anyway so I saw pretty much exactly what I expected, although this is a somewhat alternative version). I was especially disappointed that the acting didn’t stand out for me and it seriously felt even longer than it already was, especially at the end when we’re given a long look at an alternative life for Jesus? Sorry. I didn’t love it. It’s not a bad film but I’d only recommend it to those interested in religious dramas or to serious Martin Scorsese fans who want to see all he’s done. Ugh. I feel like a bad blogger for not loving a Scorsese film.

My Rating: 6/10

Only I would review The Last Temptation Of Christ & Smurfs: The Lost Village in the same week… Have a nice weekend, everyone!

John Wick (2014) & The Neon Demon (2016) Movie Reviews

With John Wick: Chapter 2 coming out, I figured I better review the first film (which I finally watched a few months ago). So I wrote the below review. After writing it, I then watched The Neon Demon. I must say that John Wick has gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon Demon. Every movie EVER MADE has now gone up in my estimation since seeing The Neon F*%#ing Demon!!!!! Let’s talk about these, shall we…?

John Wick (2014)

Directed by Chad Stahelski & David Leitch

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

My Opinion:

I love Keanu Reeves. And, apparently, I’m not alone. I was very surprised when a list I did last year of My Top Ten Keanu Reeves Movies was one of my most viewed & most shared posts. Yay! Everyone loves Keanu! I honestly didn’t realize he was so popular.

So I made that list having not yet seen John Wick or The Neon Demon and figured I could update it once I’ve watched them. Well, I’ve now updated the list. I can tell you that The Neon Demon sure as SHIT doesn’t make the top ten (it’s atrocious). Unfortunately, John Wick doesn’t quite manage to break into my top ten either. It’s very close! I’ve put it at 12 but it’s probably hovering around the 10, 11 or 12 range depending on my mood… So there you go – I’m sure you were all dying to know my final official ranking of Keanu Reeves films! 😉

John Wick is a really fun action film. It was what I expected in being all style over substance so that didn’t bother me at all. We all need to turn off our brains sometimes & just watch a fun action flick! I think I was just disappointed that it wasn’t as much fun or as stylish as I’d been expecting in order for it to make up for that lack of substance. It’s an okay film but comes absolutely nowhere near Keanu’s best. This is no The Matrix or Speed and it’s especially no Point Break (Point Break rules!). Damn. But, man, I loved that puppy. Cutest puppy EVER! I’m giving this movie a slightly higher rating simply because of the puppy. A BEAGLE. A SNOOPY puppy!!!!!


Wook at that wittle face!

I do know how to enjoy a fun “popcorn” movie and, no, I wasn’t expecting Oscar-quality writing or acting in John Wick. However, I needed to know the character of John Wick a little better in order to care about him & his quest for vengeance. We get some flashbacks of his wife and, of course, we meet his adorable puppy. However, we didn’t get much of his backstory. I felt like I didn’t know a thing about him by the end other than that he was sad about his dead wife (not a spoiler – she’s already dead at the beginning of the movie). I mean, he’s a (former) killer. Right? How is he any better than the many, many (many) people he proceeds to kill throughout this film? Because a cute puppy licked his face & he loved his pretty wife?

Okayyyy – I fully admit to falling asleep in the middle of this like I often do during films at home so maybe I missed something (I’m a parent. I’m exhausted). 😉 Why did he retire? For love? Or because he developed a conscience? I hope that was the reason… The only way I can describe it is this: I sometimes watch a movie and feel like I’ve jumped right into the middle of it and missed a bunch of the beginning where they’ve set up the characters & the story. I felt that way 30 minutes into John Wick despite missing absolutely nothing from the start. I almost cared more about Willem Dafoe’s character (a great character, from the very little we get to know him – I’d love to know more about his previous relationship with Wick as well). Well, maybe we’ll find out more in the sequel? As fun as it is to watch some shoot-em-up non-stop action sometimes, I still want to know a little about the main character at the very least. If I care about him, I’ll get more enjoyment from his revenge. I do love a really good revenge movie! I liked John Wick well enough to watch the sequel but it’s a “wait for it to show up on Netflix” movie for me. (Although, initial reviews of the sequel are very good so maybe I can be talked into making a trip to the cinema for it. But the sequel puppy isn’t nearly as cute…!!!)

My Rating: 7/10

**SPOILERS. Kind of.**

The Neon Demon (2016)

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Plot Synopsis: Guy succeeds in making a decent film called Drive, which then gives him the freedom to make the biggest pile of shit I’ve seen since similar success for another writer led to the creation of the atrocious Jennifer’s Body. The Neon Demon makes Jennifer’s Body look good. 

My Opinion:

I called a movie that I reviewed last week a “load of pretentious bullshit” (the movie Comet). I now apologize profusely to that movie. I’d rather be strapped to a chair “Clockwork Orange-style” & forced to watch Comet 100 times than to ever have to even THINK about The Neon Demon again. I want to wipe this movie from my memory “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-style“. I want to go back in time and, “Marty McFly-style”, tell myself it’s my destiny (density!) to NEVER watch The Neon Demon. I want to take a flame thrower to this movie “Ellen Ripley-style“. I want to get medieval on this movie’s ass “Marsellus Wallace- style“. I want to stick this movie’s head in a box “Gwyneth Paltrow-style“. I want to banish this movie to the cornfield “Twilight Zone-style“. I want this movie to eat itself, to puke itself up, to re-eat itself, to piss itself out, and to f*%k its own corpse “The Neon Demon-style“.

I can’t truly put into words just how much I hated The Neon Demon and its fake, derivative, shallow, pointless, pretentious aping of artistic masters such as Jodorowsky, Buñuel, Argento, von Trier, Cronenberg, Lynch, etc etc. Not everyone will be a fan of all of those I’ve named (I’m not even saying that I like them all myself) but, like their work or not, at least they did their own thing instead of making superficial & inferior copies of their influences.

I’ll give this movie an extra point for Elle Fanning, though, as I thought she did a decent job for her young age. Other than Fanning, everyone in this is now slightly ruined for me the next time I see them in other films (even Keanu, dammit). Still love him, though, so I’ll try to put this movie out of my mind. But I hope to never see Jena Malone in anything ever again so am very glad that I wasn’t a fan of hers in the first place. More than anything, I’m annoyed that this has tainted the movie Drive and especially that it has ruined Drive’s soundtrack for me, which I liked even more than the film. I’ve hated plenty of movies over the years but I don’t think there’s ever been one that I actually regretted seeing. The Neon Demon may very well be the first. In that regard, I suppose you at least have to give Nicolas Winding Refn credit for creating a film that generated some strong reactions from its’ viewers. I don’t mind movies with some shock value (of those I mentioned above, I do love a lot of Cronenberg’s work) but, to quote my husband, “The Neon Demon thinks it’s art when it’s merely just artifice”.

My Rating: 2/10

eXistenZ (1999) Review

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eXistenZ (1999)

Directed & Written by David Cronenberg

Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie, Sarah Polley, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

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My Opinion:

I’d call myself a David Cronenberg fan although there are quite a few movies of his from recent years that I haven’t seen. Looking at everything he’s directed, all my favorites are from 1979 to 1986. This is when he was at his body horror best and I far preferred that style to the more realistic violence of things like A History Of Violence (although it’s a good film). I suppose that’s why I haven’t gotten around to watching more of his post-1986 movies. 1999’s eXistenZ is a return, somewhat, to the older Cronenberg that I like best. It’s certainly not as good as The Fly, Videodrome, The Brood, etc, but I did enjoy it and it’s made me want to try harder to watch the rest of his films that I’ve not seen.

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I find that a lot of these older “virtual reality” movies don’t really age well. That sort of thing is so much more advanced than we’d have thought possible even back in 1999 so, although it may have been groundbreaking at the time(?), that side of things isn’t as impressive when watching this for the first time in 2015. Just like Snow Crash was a great book in 1992 but it’s weird that they’re choosing to make it into a film now (although I’m really anxious to see if they manage to do a good job with that one!). Can I just say that I think it should be a law or something that any cyberpunk film being made nowadays should have a score by Daft Punk? Yes, I did like TRON: Legacy more than a lot of people seemed to. 😉 Hey – since I’m totally off track now (I’ll get back to eXistenZ in a minute), can someone please tell me the name of a horror movie I caught part of on cable in maybe 1996/1997 or so where these teenagers were being killed inside a video game? No, I can’t even name any of the actors in it. I’ve been trying to find out what that movie was for years now… Okay – back to eXistenZ!

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I didn’t hate Jude Law in this! I mean, I didn’t love him but he was totally tolerable. I also thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was very good – I’ve always thought she was a bit of an odd one but this role really “fit” her. Maybe she should have done more strange films like this one? And I loved her hair! I liked the partially crimped thing she had at first and then how it was fully done while in the virtual world. I know I sound like a girly girl going on about a hairstyle but, looking back on how this movie ended, I’m thinking the hair is kind of important to figuring out what the hell is going on… Amiright?! Probably not but, if I watch this again, I’m going to watch her hair more closely throughout it. I thought she was really pretty in this, actually – I never really thought that about her. I’d have to say this is my favorite role of hers now.

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The story in eXistenZ first felt pretty straightforward, then was a bit all over the place Cronenberg-style, then the ending felt a bit “really? that’s it?! I could have guessed that but it seemed too simple!”. But maybe it’s NOT that simple? I suppose it’s one of those movies that could do with a second (or third) viewing to fully understand what’s going on but I often like to think there’s more to movies than there really is. I’m sure I missed some symbolism (other than the usual, obvious vaginal thing that Cronenberg loves, this time in the form of a “port” in people’s lower backs that they use to link directly into Leigh’s virtual reality game. with a cord that looks like a cross between an umbilical cord & a penis, of course!). It was pretty gross, actually. I loved it! Very Cronenberg. As was a very cool “gun” made out of bones & human teeth.

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There are several big names in this so it was surprising that they all had pretty small roles (Ian Holm, Christopher Eccleston, Willem Dafoe). They’re not necessarily unimportant roles but Law & Leigh are in it the most by far, so it’s good that they worked really well for the film & had a good chemistry. Perhaps it’s why this film isn’t as big as some of Cronenberg’s others, though, as the two main stars weren’t exactly big names compared to other films he’d done (Law is more famous now than I remember him being in 1999). Plus, they’re a bit younger and they’re attractive so it almost feels like this movie is aimed more at a younger generation but I don’t think a young audience (early twenties) will have gone for this movie as it’s far too “strange” for a time when American Pie was the big movie of the year. (I’m not trashing American Pie – I like that one too).

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Anyway, eXistenZ passed me by at the time (as I think it did a lot of other people) but, although it’s not as good as Cronenberg’s very best, it’s still of a similar sort of style to his best films and I enjoyed it. There’s just enough “WTF?” and “that’s kind of disgusting” moments to keep Cronenberg fans happy but I’d probably only recommend this one to his fans.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Streets Of Fire (1984) Review

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Streets Of Fire (1984)

Directed by Walter Hill

Starring: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Bill Paxton, Elizabeth Daily

Music by Ry Cooder

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB):
A mercenary goes after his ex-girlfriend, a singer who has been kidnapped by a gang.

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My Opinion:

Streets Of Fire is one of those movies I always regretted not seeing back in the Eighties. Then, after watching The Warriors a couple of years ago and absolutely loving it, I knew I should finally watch Streets Of Fire as it was also made by Walter Hill. But I still didn’t get around to it! I finally decided to check it out after watching Diane Lane in the great little obscure 1982 film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Unfortunately, this is definitely not as good as The Warriors and even The Fabulous Stains is better in a lot of ways. This has a cheesy sort of appeal, though, and I’m sure it has its fans amongst those who saw it at the time & grew up with it. But it probably won’t connect with anyone watching it for the first time nowadays whereas I think The Warriors continues to gain new fans.

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As the poster says, this was apparently marketed as “a rock & roll fable”. There are a lot of songs in this and I think whether or not you buy into the movie will depend on if you like the music. A lot of the music was by Ry Cooder and I can’t say I remember any of it after a first watch even though it wasn’t long ago that I saw it (except for I Can Dream About You by Dan Hartman since I already knew that song. That was stuck in my head for days afterwards!). The songs by Diane Lane’s band in the film were a bit bland & reminded me of something Meat Loaf might sing. The movie is a very odd mix of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing and the early Eighties style-wise & musically. I’ve never really been a fan of the Fifties rock ‘n’ roll thing so that may be why the movie didn’t work so well for me. Also, I just couldn’t really take the two main male characters seriously when they wore their pants so high. Seriously! This is NOT a good look. Especially whatever the hell Willem Dafoe is wearing here:

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Hilarious! The hot one in the stupid suspenders there is Michael Paré, the film’s hero. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything else and as I watched this I thought “he’s cute but he’s a pretty damn bad actor – no wonder he wasn’t in anything else”. Then I looked him up on IMDB and he’s been in 126 things & he’s still going strong! What?! What are all these movies Paré has been in? This dude’s career has completely passed me by – I knew of him & that he was in Streets Of Fire but that’s all. Huh. Hopefully his acting improved? I suppose he worked as the sexy but dumb hero that women want to sleep with…

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Diane Lane’s character was a pretty big disappointment, especially just after seeing her in The Fabulous Stains where her character had far more personality & depth. She’s nothing but a pretty “damsel in distress” in Streets Of Fire. Luckily we got two better female characters with Amy Madigan’s soldier who helps Paré to rescue Lane & Deborah Van Valkenburgh, who was also great in The Warriors, as Paré’s sister. I’ve already mentioned Dafoe & his silly pants – it was funny seeing him in this as I didn’t know he was in it (he plays the main bad guy & kidnapper). Rick Moranis was also a surprise as was Elizabeth Daily once again starring with Lane in a slightly bigger role than she had in The Fabulous Stains. Plus we also get Bill Paxton once again looking like a total douche in an Eighties film! I miss good old douchey Bill Paxton from the Eighties. He was more fun than leading role Bill Paxton of later times. He’ll never top his Weird Science role! Remember when he was in that Fish Heads video? Am I going off on one of my tangents again?

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Summary:

I clearly don’t have much to say about this film so I’ll just wrap this up. These are the kind of movies I find most difficult to write about: the “meh” ones. I can get a little passionate when I really love (or hate) a movie but have very little to say when I don’t really care. I know I’d like this a lot more if I’d seen it at the time but, despite it trying for a bit of a Fifties feel, it’s a little too stuck in 1984. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll always like a mediocre film from 1984 a million times more than a mediocre film from today and I did enjoy this a lot more than I’ve made it sound. I just feel bad because I really wanted to like it more than I did. I thought I might be discovering yet another little gem from my favorite era just like The Warriors & The Fabulous Stains. Oh well – two out of three ain’t bad. Hey, that’s a Meat Loaf song!

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Odd Thomas (2013) Review

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Odd Thomas (2013)

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Based on Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Starring:
Anton Yelchin
Willem Dafoe
Addison Timlin
Nico Tortorella

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.

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My Opinion:

Well, I have to use the word: This movie is certainly “odd”. It’s also not exactly “good”. However, I kind of liked it and am going to have some affection for it since I read A LOT of Dean Koontz books. Odd Thomas is one of his better books and certainly one of the best characters he’s created. Which is why I suppose there’s a load of Odd Thomas books now… When did that happen?! I only knew of three. I read the first two and bought the third (which I then lost and still can’t find anywhere – I need to find it so I can continue!). Anyway, the first book IS really good and this movie doesn’t capture how great the characters are but I appreciate that they made the effort. At least it sucks less than most the other truly awful Koontz adaptations.

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I’ll be honest – if you’ve not read Odd Thomas, I don’t recommend this movie. If you’ve read it, I think you’ll at least enjoy seeing Odd Thomas (the character – it’s his actual name) onscreen and I did really like Anton Yelchin as Odd even though he’s not exactly what I’d pictured. I’ve liked Yelchin since the underrated Charlie Bartlett & think he has the right sort of quirkiness to play Odd. Addison Timlin was also good as his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn and they had a very nice chemistry together, although they came nowhere near capturing the relationship as well as in the book (through no fault of their own – you’re just never going to get as much character development in a movie). The humor in the movie feels a little out of place and just doesn’t work the way it worked so well in the book. And then there’s the strange “supernatural” stuff… Well, it comes across as quite cheesy in the movie and, if you’ve not read the book, I think you might laugh at those bits. To be fair, I think it’s probably very hard to get a Dean Koontz movie “right” onscreen. Well, they’ve managed to make some Stephen King stories into excellent films but I suppose he’s more well known and those movies probably have a bigger budget. Odd Thomas feels like a made-for-TV Stephen King movie, basically. I watch EVERYTHING Stephen King-related and know there’s been some truly dodgy adaptations of his work but I still enjoy watching them. I felt exactly the same way watching Koontz’s Odd Thomas. By the way – I think the girl playing Odd’s girlfriend was truly adorable:

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But I’m not sure how necessary THIS shot was:

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Summary:

First of all, I highly recommend reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz if you at all like supernatural fiction with a bit of horror. He’s Stephen-King-lite. I have a strange relationship with Dean Koontz – his books are an “easy read” and I devour them then totally forget about them but, occasionally, I love one. My favorites are Twilight Eyes & Watchers but Odd Thomas would be close to the top of the list as well, especially as I think it’s one of Koontz’s finest endings for a story as well as one of the best characters he’s created. The movie handles the ending fairly well, which I was worried about them getting right. I think there are some changes from what I remember of the book but nothing that bothered me too much as it was more important to get the characters right and I think the movie did a decent enough job of achieving this. You’ll like it okay if you’ve read the book but you probably won’t if you haven’t (unless you’re not bothered by a low-budget sort of feel). Read the book. THEN watch the movie. Then read a few more Dean Koontz books. Then watch Charlie Bartlett.

My Rating: 6/10

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I did it! I’ve managed to review movies based on books all week! I’ll attempt to do another tomorrow but at this point don’t have anything written yet. I may do Paperhouse – that was an “odd” film as well! Either that or The Spectacular Now… So far I’ve reviewed The Maze Runner & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I & of course Odd Thomas. 🙂

Platoon (1986) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Platoon, IMDB rank 144 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. I’ve stopped receiving so many guest reviews now so if you send yours soon, it should post soon. I only have enough for the next month.

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The first casualty of war is innocence.

Charlie Taylor (Charlie Sheen) is a green, fresh to arrive recruit in Vietnam.  Platoon follows Taylor and his company as they cope with the hardships of war, and the film brings back the reality of what went on over there to the big screen for the first time since Apocalypse Now (1979).

The unit breaks into two contrasting camps: one with Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger), who believes in total war and winning at any cost, and Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe), who is battle-tested but gracious in contrast to Barnes.  Each side as plenty of support, and they battle,  as Taylor puts it, “for possession of my soul.”

Platoon features a whole slew of familiar faces (Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Johnny Depp, Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley, Tony Todd, Mark Moses), many of which were at the beginning of their careers.

A couple of things added to the authenticity of this film.  Oliver Stone’s experience in Vietnam, woven throughout the characters Taylor encounters, and the preparation the actors went through in making this film.  They trained for two weeks before filming began, building camaraderie as a unit, digging foxholes, encountering “night attacks” to get used to the special effects that would be used.  The familiarity these actors had with their weapons made the actions and emotion seem genuine.

The acting in this film is top-notch.  The characters evoke strong emotions in the audience: you either really like or really hate what a person says or does.  I found myself completely disgusted with some of the men in the Barnes camp as they abused and mistreated both Vietnamese peasants and their fellow soldiers.  An interesting commentary on this came from Taylor as he was airlifted out at the end of the film.  He describes that the Vietnamese weren’t the enemy, instead we were our own enemy.  There is a lot of killing, granted, but more of it being American killing American than one would expect.

I believe I’ve said it before, but Willem Dafoe is probably one of my favorite actors.  This film is one of the reasons for that opinion.  He is a strong, committed character whose performance I felt stood above all the others. I also found it interesting that he never wear a helmet.  Ever.  Tom Berenger, though I don’t agree with his characters outlook and way of carrying himself, brings that type of soldier to life and it fully committed to his character.

Charlie Sheen does very well in this movie as well.  The contrast and how quickly his idealized or unaware outlook at the beginning of the film is quickly shredded and almost gone by the end of the film.  He quickly loses the label of ‘new meat’ and becomes one of the guys.  His judgement and discernment remain, though, which is refreshing and relieving.

It’s interesting seeing John C. McGinley in a role like this after watching him at Dr. Cox on Scrubs, but hey that might just be me.

Platoon is considered one of the best films of the 1980s, it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1987.  It’s authenticity and superb acting both contribute largely to its success.  It’s one I enjoyed, and I’d definitely recommend seeing.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

The Fault In Our Stars (2014) Review

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The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

Directed by Josh Boone

Based on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Starring:
Shailene Woodley
Ansel Elgort
Nat Wolff
Laura Dern
Sam Trammell
Willem Dafoe

Running time: 125 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Shailene Woodley plays Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen-years-old cancer patient who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with Augustus Waters, portrayed by Ansel Elgort.

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My Opinion:

I read this book last year (you can see my review HERE) and I liked it a lot. It was my first John Green book and I thought he did an excellent job bringing these characters to life and making us care about them (I’ve just finished my second John Green book, Paper Towns. Hmm… Not as much of a fan of that one. He’s a very talented writer, though – I’ll certainly read more from him).

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It’s annoying when they don’t do a good job adapting books into films but, at least as far as YA books go, they’ve been doing a damn good job with some of them lately. I think The Hunger Games films have been great so far (especially Catching Fire) and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is still one of my favorite films of the past few years and was an extremely faithful adaption (helps that the author made the film himself – I also reviewed the book HERE). Well, I’m very happy to say they did an amazing job with the adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars and I really have no complaints. Some things were left out as usual due to length, such as a bit about Augustus’ life prior to meeting Hazel, but I don’t think it was necessary for the film anyway.

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Shailene Woodley was good as Hazel (when I reviewed Divergent I wondered if maybe this movie would suit her better. I was right – The Fault In Our Stars feels more like the right kind of role for her). However, the true star here is Augustus Waters (played by Ansel Elgort). I’m an old lady reading YA fiction but can TOTALLY understand young readers falling completely in love with the character of Augustus. He’s charming, funny, cheeky, confident, handsome… the kind of boy teenage girls dream of, in other words. Luckily, I think Ansel Elgort captures this character and I’m sure he has loads of young female fans now. And there’s a great chemistry with Woodley so it’s very easy to get sucked into the story and believe that they’re a couple. I really can’t find fault with anyone cast in this film – they all played their roles well. The best friend of Augustus was made maybe a little too “funny” for the movie but that’s a very minor complaint – he was kind of the “comic relief” in the book as well.

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Summary:

If you loved the book, you’ll love the film. It’s an extremely faithful adaptation and, having enjoyed the book, I’m very happy with what they’ve done with the film. I don’t think anyone was miscast and I’d find it very surprising if you’re a YA-aged female who doesn’t fall in love with the character of Augustus Waters after watching this movie (and/or reading the book). However, although I love reading Young Adult fiction, “teenage melodrama” isn’t normally my genre of choice for the most part (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower being an exception). So the film probably deserves a slightly higher rating than what I’m going to give it but I rate based on a combination of personal opinion as well as “worthiness” (I feel I have to explain myself after you all picked on me for my Godzilla rating). 😉 It’s not a movie I’ll necessarily ever watch again but if I was a teenager right now I’d probably watch it over & over & over and declare it the best movie ever. It’s a very good YA film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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**I’ve become a member of The Stone Cold Bitch Club as I shed no tears while watching The Fault In Our Stars (I do find some movies to be tearjerkers, though – you can see my list HERE).

Here are some reviews of The Fault In Our Stars from other WordPress bloggers:

Stone Cold Bitch Club:

Me!
Zoe
Cara
Abbi
Rob

Crybaby Club:

Melissa
Tom
Box Office Buzz
Natalie
Natasha
Anna

In Between Club:

Mike

Which club do YOU belong to? Let me know! If you’ve reviewed this, I’ll add a link to your review above under the correct category. 🙂

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