Altered States (1980) Blind Spot Review

Altered States (1980)

Directed by Ken Russell

Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Altered States is a 1980 American science-fiction horror film directed by Ken Russell and adapted from a novel by the same name by playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. The film was adapted from Chayefsky’s only novel and is his final screenplay. Both the novel and the film are based on John C. Lilly’s sensory deprivation research conducted in isolation tanks under the influence of psychoactive drugs like mescaline, ketamine and LSD.

My Opinion:

Here’s a list of the Blind Spot films I’ve watched this year from my least favorite to my favorite (I’ve finished watching them all! Just need to review the rest):

12. The Last Temptation Of Christ
11. Altered States
10. The Raid
9. House (Hausu 1977)
8. The King & I
7. The Hustler
6. Jackie Brown
5. Ghost In The Shell
4. Wolf Children
3. Watership Down
2. The Untouchables
1. Rocky

As with a lot of my Blind Spot picks, Altered States was put on the list as I’ve been meaning to see it for years. I’d heard it described as a “Body Horror” film and I have a strange fascination with those (I did a list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies HERE). I’d say I liked it okay but it didn’t really live up to my expectations. And it’s certainly not a David Cronenberg-style body horror, which is the kind of thing I go for. It IS pretty bizarre, though, so I appreciated that. But I became a bit bored with it overall. Oh well – I still found it far more entertaining than this year’s Blind Spot choice of The Last Temptation Of Christ.


**Yeah, this photo is from Altered States – not The Last Temptation Of Christ…

I didn’t know beforehand that this movie is (I’m assuming rather loosely) based on John C. Lilly’s real-life isolation tank experiments (as in the plot synopsis up there). So I then looked up John C. Lilly (here on Wikipedia) as I admit I’d never heard of him & read a little about his research. Whoa – talk about an interesting life! Man I’m boring. And those 60’s drugs sound crazy, man. His isolation tank experiments seem less bizarre than some of the many other things he researched, such as dolphin communication and what he called “Solid State Intelligence” and “Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.)”. Whaaat? I can’t even explain those – just read the Wikipedia entry. Has anyone read his work? I think I’d be confused as hell. But I doubt he ever actually “devolved” into some kind of apelike creature like William Hurt did in this movie (Sorry – Spoiler??). I’m sure this movie was pretty “out-there” in 1980 but parts of it are very silly when watching it now for the first time.

Sorry – this is going to be a short review. I honestly don’t know how to go about discussing this one. I think the science behind it all was just way too far over my head. Or maybe it would help to watch this while using mescaline, ketamine and LSD to better understand Hurt’s experiences while drugged-up & suspended in the isolation tank??? I have to say I’ve always wanted to try those float therapy places where you float in water in a dark tank for an hour or whatever. I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to turn into this:

Or this:

But I wouldn’t mind looking like this:

The naked lady is actress Blair Brown, who I don’t think I’ve seen in anything else. Well, apparently she was in Dogville but I can’t say I remember her character. Anyway, she plays William Hurt’s wife in this & I thought she was really good. I felt sorry for her character having to put up with all of Hurt’s weird, rambling, intellectual mumbo jumbo. He treated her pretty crap and I kept forgetting they had kids together as his family took a backseat to his research. Hell – one of their kids was even played by Drew Barrymore & I somehow managed to totally miss that since they were barely a part of the film. I love Drew! Oh, Altered States doesn’t manage to make it onto My Top Ten Drew Barrymore Movies list I did ages ago, so… Good! I won’t have to update that list. Hurt did well with the role – it’s just such a hard character to relate to in any way.

I probably sound more negative about this film than I actually feel. I think it’s worth watching as it’s quite unique and I did enjoy some of the imagery, such as in these last few photos I’ve put in this post. I wish there’d been more of that but we also had simian Hurt running around with his monkey balls out & crucified, multi-eyed, Jesus-goat-thingy Hurt and it was hard to take the movie too seriously as these specific effects haven’t aged as well as the more psychedelic scenes have. I’m glad I finally saw Altered States and another Ken Russell film other than Tommy. I prefer Tommy, but that’ll mainly be because of the music.

My Rating: 6.5/10



**I think that’s Drew in this movie, although I can’t say for sure. Aww. So cute!

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Captain America: Civil War (2016) Review

**SPOILER-FREE (but not much of a review – I mostly just talk about all these damn superhero movies that keep coming out & where I’d rank them…)**

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Directed by Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Based on Captain America by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Daniel Brühl, The Kitchen Sink

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
In Captain America: Civil War, an act regulating superhuman activity fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark.

My Opinion:

Superheroes Shmuperheroes. I’m sick of saying I’m sick of superhero movies. In the three & a half years I’ve had this blog, I feel like I’ve spent half my time writing superhero movie reviews as so many have come out in that time! I’m tired. I can’t do it anymore!

I have to be honest: I can’t be bothered to write much of a “review” for this. Mainly, I’m going to just talk about all the various superhero movies & where I’d rank them all now. I always struggle with writing about these movies as I’m just a casual fan & have zero knowledge about any of the comic books. I put time into running a movie blog so I do clearly geek out about movies more than the average person but I just don’t have the spare time & energy to devote to watching the thousands of hours worth of superhero sequels, prequels, spin-offs, TV shows, etc etc. I’m old & I’m tired & I have a hubby & a kid. I watch the big cinematic superhero releases when they come out & that’s it. I’ve not even managed to re-watch any, which means I’m always a little lost with each movie as I have to remember minor characters & plots from movies I watched just once at the time of release. It drives my hubby nuts when I have to constantly ask who so & so is and if I should remember them from previous movies. These superhero movies are becoming like Game Of Thrones – too many damn characters & stories to keep track of!

Okay – after getting that little rant out of the way, I have to say that I have really enjoyed these current Marvel films with the various Avengers. A few haven’t been all that great but, overall, they’re very solid films. And, with this one & the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Captain America films are now easily the best of the bunch (including the full-ensemble The Avengers & Avengers: Age Of Ultron). I loved the first Iron Man and would have said that one was my favorite at the time but after Iron Man 2 & Iron Man 3 were so weak, I’d have to say that Captain America has now jumped ahead overall as the sequels have been so great.

You were afraid I was going to trash this movie, weren’t you? 😉 I won’t. It’s very good! But I just can’t review it. I don’t know what to say. I’ve done so many of these superhero reviews. I’m done. For now. I’ll attempt to review X-Men: Apocalypse but I honestly have no hope for that one after Days Of Future Past was such a mess. Let’s just discuss all the various superhero films that are out there.

How I’d Now Rank All The Superhero Movies (remember that I always rank things according to how much I like a movie, not according to what I necessarily think is the best film):

Every time another one of these movies comes out, I say I’ll update this list HERE of My Top Ten Superhero Movies. I desperately need to as it’s extremely different now. For one, I was way too easy on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight would probably drop way down to the lower half of the ten now (I was too swayed by loving Ledger in it) while the other two would be knocked out completely.

I’d also move up some older classics I’m no longer ashamed of loving (it was the early days of my blog & I suppose I knew you were all younger than I am. You kids are Nolan-obsessed). 😉 So the 1978 Superman would go way up as would Tim Burton’s Batman (and it would move to a position higher than The Dark Knight).

Then there are the first two X-Men movies. Those came out when I was much younger & had spare time to watch movies & geek out over things and I really bought into those characters & that world. Back then, the superhero movie thing wasn’t big like now & it seemed like those films came from out of nowhere. I loved them & I’m still very fond of them but every movie since has been a huge disappointment, including the prequels which I haven’t been able to buy into at all. The various Avengers films have been so much better than the current X-Men films so I’d probably have to move the first two X-Mens down the list as they’ve now been ruined for me somewhat.

So where would I place Captain America: Civil War in a Top Ten? I think it’s too soon to say where but it’s definitely in the ten. I’ll fully update & re-post my list after X-Men: Apocalypse (even though I think that has zero chance of being on the list). I think a lot of where it will ultimately sit also depends on how good the next Avengers film is (whenever the hell that’s meant to be?!). At the moment, I’m trying to decide if it’s better than The Winter Soldier. I think it may be once we get more of the story but, at the moment, I think I’d rank The Winter Soldier higher. So! For now, and subject to change as I change my mind A LOT, I’ll rank things accordingly:

10. TIE: Deadpool & X-Men
9. The Dark Knight
8. The Avengers
7. Batman (1989)
6. X2
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Iron Man
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Superman (1978)
1. Guardians Of The Galaxy

Defining “superhero movies” is quite difficult, though. I’d make it a list of just “comic book movies” but that would further complicate things as there are plenty of non-superhero comic books. For now, I’m leaving out animated films like The Incredibles & Big Hero 6 but I may add them. Also… What about things like Dredd & The Crow? Do they qualify? What do you all think? Because if I start adding in things like those, the list would be very different (for the record, The Crow would easily be my number one as that’s an overall favorite film of mine). Let me know, superhero fans! I really do want to do a proper list, probably where I rank all of the superhero films I’ve seen.

Either way, these various current Marvel films will take plenty of places in my Top Ten as they’re all very strong & seem to be getting better & better. The better they get, the more the other superhero movies pale in comparison & will end up getting knocked out of the list. Way to go Marvel! Unlike DC Comics, eh? As much as I complain about all these damn superhero movies, I always go to them. Until Batman Vs. Superman, that is. After the terrible Man Of Steel, I really couldn’t be bothered to watch it. And from the sound of things, I’m not missing much!

Summary (where I’ll actually say a tiny bit about Captain America: Civil War!):

I have to say that I liked the new characters that have been added to this one. Black Panther is cool (I love those claws) and I really liked Spider-Man! Could we finally have a Spider-Man that fans don’t bitch about?? I have no idea but I really liked him plus my hubby seemed to think they did a very good job with him this time & hubby is a little bit of a comic book fan unlike me. I can’t say I’ve exactly loved any of the Spider-Man movies yet so let’s hope Marvel get things right with their own Spider-Man film. I’m looking forward to it now!

It was great seeing so many Marvel characters together, some of whom haven’t been together in a film yet. However, my one small complaint about the ensemble Avengers films is that there are too many characters, which means that it’s hard for anyone to get much character development. This one is clearly the Captain America & Iron Man show but they didn’t do too bad spending a decent amount of time with some of the other characters. I’d like to see Scarlet Witch get a little further development – they seem to possibly be headed in that direction for the next film.

Okay – I’ve just looked into it as I had zero clue what films are being made next! Apparently the next full Avengers one is Infinity War in May 2018 & 2019 (split into two damn parts one year apart!)?! Long wait until those… That’s made me lose the will to live again with these damn movies!! I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this Civil War story is clearly going to be carried on into the next films… I guess I’ve just given away that we don’t get full closure on this story? No surprise there, though – there are 282 more films coming in which to further develop it! Anyway, I still can’t help but slightly prefer some of the stand alone films as we get so much more time to get to know just one main character but it’s still fun seeing them all interacting with each other.

The action in this was also a little too much at first (but not at ridiculous Man Of Steel levels). I also thought it got off to a slow start but I was much more into it by the halfway point. It’s a big story so is taking its time to develop over the course of several films. I guess. Yeah. Ugh. I just can’t handle thinking about them all. Oh, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is May 2017!!! THAT I’m excited about (it’s my number one by quite a lot).

Well, for all my bitching, Marvel really are getting better & better at this superhero movie thing & are putting other superhero movies to shame. I’ll continue to watch them all even though I’m superheroed-out but I’ll never geek out over them like my young & carefree twentysomething self may have. But they’re thoroughly entertaining popcorn movies. And although Civil War is obviously getting into darker & moodier territory, it still maintains some of the humor and the less-serious attitude that have made me far prefer the Avengers films to the dark & brooding shit like Batman Vs. Superman appears to be. Screw that emo bullshit! It looks like things will get even more serious for Infinity War, I imagine, but they did a good job getting the balance right in this one and not making a film that’s too depressing to be at all enjoyable. Keep up the good work, Marvel! On all ten films you have planned between now & July 2019. Good (star) Lord…

My Rating: 7.5/10

Is There A Scene After The Credits?: HA! Hahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Duhhhhhhh….. Yes. Two. This is Marvel. They’re worth staying for, though. In my opinion. The more “important” one is halfway through the credits while the fun “teaser” one is at the very end (that’s the one I liked).

Stan Lee Cameo: It’s cute! I always love them. Maybe I should start rating those too…

The Muscular Arms On Chris Evans: Whoa, boy! I’m a Thor girl & have never really gone for Captain America but I very much appreciated those biceps when he was holding onto the helicopter. Yeah, baby! I may look away from Thor occasionally in the next film you’re both in together…

**Hey, I know I didn’t really talk about this movie but I’ll happily discuss it with anyone in the comments. I really do want to know all your opinions! Especially those of you who are big fans of these films. 🙂

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