Thursday, November 28, 2019

Monty Python And The Holy Grail

I needed to end this month on a high note.

Hey man it was either this or Schindler's List and I didn't exactly want to contemplate suicide tonight, so we're off on an adventure! This was the first Monty Python film made after Flying Circus ended and I do still like this one the most though I enjoy all their films. Probably because this was not only the first thing Monty Python I ever witnessed but if I had to pinpoint it, this might have been when I dipped my toes into british comedy and now I prefer it above all else. I was probably far far too young to watch this movie and truly get the humor, I was about 14 when I bought it on video yet I still very much enjoyed it. The story concerns King Arthur as he gathers knights and travels across Britain to you guessed it, be shouted at by frenchmen, I mean search for the holy grail. I swear Monty Python could be the most difficult type of comedy to talk about, because it relies on absurdist humor but even then there is a method to this madness put on screen, it truly is their own style of comedy because who else does it, let alone pull it off besides them? Nobody. I'm not even sure I could explain the jokes and why they are so funny, it really is something you must see. Now I will say my favorite bit in the movie is probably the intermission, I always forget it's there but it just makes me burst into laughter everytime. That or the opening, I mean talk about a tone setter. Do I really need to touch on cast here? It's the majority of main stayers and bit players from Flying Circus playing multiple parts sometimes even in the same scenes, and they are wonderful. I think John Cleese has the best roles in my opinion, and while he is not the main focus of the journey he gets the most enjoyment out of me, though of course I believe every actor is great in this film. But boy did they go through hell on this shoot, Scotland is gorgeous at times in this movie but man are you victim to the weather and elements out there, yet through all of that they made a great movie. It does show the saying art through adversity is applicable to all genres and films, it sounded quite miserable and horrid during the production but the entertainment value is high with many a quotable line and memorable scenes. You can tell this was a very low budget film but they used it to their absolute advantage and it if anything improves the film! Just the fact they couldn't afford horses so they trot through these areas with coconuts banging together makes you laugh throughout the movie. It's just so well crafted with some jokes that are set up at the beginning and don't get payed off until the end, true not every bit of comedy makes you laugh uproariously but I can't think of an instance where it fell flat either. Is it an epic comedy? Yes I do believe it so, and you should be ashamed of yourself and taunted a second time if you haven't seen it yet. 4 stars! I'll let you be the judge though on the true best Monty Python film, because well comedy is subjective.

On second thought let's not go to Camelot, tis' a silly place. Pie day with the family though, yes please!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Once Upon A Time In The West

I figured a little gunfighting wouldn't hurt this month.

Once Upon A Time In The West is quite possibly the best western I've seen. I've seen my fair share from several decades, actors, and directors, and while I do still have a soft spot for The Dollars Trilogy nothing really hit this big of a scope or sense of drama in those movies. Which is funny because Sergio Leone directed both so regardless of which I prefer, Leone is the best western director in my eyes. After finishing The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly he didn't want to do another western but was actually forced into it by american production companies so he could make his next project, which is a bit rubbish because I would trust the man and his vision and just have him make the damn movie. But what we got is one of the most acclaimed and loved westerns of all time. Set around a collected ensemble cast, a young woman named Jill has returned to Texas to start her new life with her husband and children before learning of them being murdered by a group of mercenaries hired by a railroad tycoon who wants her land. Meanwhile a man has a vendetta against one of the mercenaries and is trying to track him down, while a wanted fugitive is sort of a wild card interacting with the three major players. They being the woman Jill, the hired killer Frank, the stranger known only as Harmonica, and the fugitive Cheyenne, but make no mistake this is Jill's movie. Every character dynamic is interesting no matter who you pair them with, the performances are excellent, and the story is in no rush and takes it's time with these characters. The film clocks in depending on the cut, either a little less than two and a half hours and one pushing almost three hours. Stick to the almost three hour version. I think the biggest reason why this might be favorite western is the performances, Claudia Cardinale is a wonderful lead and there wasn't a moment I was rooting for her, she just has such a compelling story I mean her family was massacred and she's just trying to pick up the pieces and move on, and she doesn't take any nonsense from quite frankly very vile and horrible men. She's just such a great actress and handles the material flawlessly. Charles Bronson is awesome as per usual as Harmonica, exuding an icy cool persona and his motivation and arc is more of your typical western fare but done great and his eyes just stare into your soul. Speaking of eyes, a surprising heel turn for Henry Fonda the leading man of that time and place in the world being a cold blooded killer probably ruffled some feathers back then, but I'd be lying if I said he wasn't really damn good in that role. And last but certainly not least, Jason Robards as the criminal Cheyenne is perplexing, if only just because I can't make heads or tails on where he stands, he's a criminal but doesn't really cause trouble and is simultaneously horrible and yet oddly amicable with Jill, you don't really know what his game is or his goals. But everybody else has very clear cut and intertwining goals, Jill's family was killed by Frank, Harmonica is seeking vengeance on Frank, Frank I guess took over Cheyenne's men, and Cheyenne and Jill have a bizarre relationship. Everything kinda fits but I think Cheyenne just does what he thinks will get him ahead in life, which clears up his character a bit. I belive this was Segio Leone's first time making a film in America, so it's not his standard spaghetti western style. There's gorgeous shots of the desolate West slowly being modernized by the ongoing train, the framing on people's faces always make their eyes center of the frame like if you were staring at them face to face, the action while not as prevalent as you would think is still done well and of course the final standoff is something to admire, and since it's a longer film it takes the time to focus on these characters which is what really pushes this film above all other westerns for me. Now there's nothing wrong with a western that has lots of shootouts and chases, and that's probably why For A Few Dollars More is easily my favorite of The Dollar's Trilogy because there is an emotional anchor and substance to Douglas Mortimer's character that makes you like him even more. Now that's not saying Clint Eastwood is boring in those movies, or has nothing going for him because he does but it's not really in the foreground, he's more the constant in those changing films. This movie takes a more dramatic weight to it, which is evident solely by the score done by Ennio Morricone. Just listen to Jill's theme, it honestly moved me to tears, this is his best piece of music above all others. Though Ecstasy Of Gold is so good even Metallica plays it before every show, Jill's theme is beyond outstanding and even if you don't watch the film you have to listen to the song. The best title I found for it is, C'era Una Volta Il West and man is it hard not to get a bit choked up, but even beyond just that single piece of music every character's individual themes are excellent. What can I say? The man was brilliant! And you know what, this movie was an unexpected choice for me but I'll never regret watching it. 4 stars, 8.5/10, a must see for any western fan or lover of great movies.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Tokyo Story

Of course it's from Japan. Do you really expect anything else from me?

This is a very different japanese film, much more in the vein of Ikiru than my usual love of kaiju and samurai films, but it's certainly worth tracking down and viewing. This is a slice of life film with two elderly parents visiting their children in Tokyo and spending time with them. It's not a very complicated plot but it's such a rich film in character interactions and performances. You may notice very quickly the film has a unique set up of framing, each shot is not levelled as if you were standing but as if you were sitting, it's about a waist high shot which makes sense because much of the film takes place in the home of these characters and they are generally sitting on the floor as they converse with their family. Also something I noticed is there are lots of shots from a certain point of view, we see characters talk directly into the camera which puts us in the viewpoint of another person, it's not a usual over the shoulder set up. So it's definitely unique in style but the reason why it's so good is because well, it's very relatable. It's very common, family members from out of town are coming to stay for a few days, everyone can immediately recognize that so it really doesn't take that much for you to identify with and enjoy the story. The characters feel like a real family, and I identified a lot with them and very much enjoyed their company as if I was invited into their home. I can't name too many movies that accomplish such a feeling. It's just such a nice film with some fine dialogue concerning life, the future, children, and most important family. And it brought to mind many memories of my own family, which simultaneously deepened my enjoyment of the film and yet made it somewhat difficult to watch. There was a strong bond between an in-law Tomy and our main couple Shukichi and Noriko that brought back floods of memories with my grandparents, just the level of happiness and love that she had for them and always wanted to spend time with them struck very deeply with me. And the final conversation between Tomy and Shukichi is very meaningful and an open expression of emotion, it's definitely the highlight of the film. It's good to see a movie like this, it's nothing big, it's nothing complex, it's just about life and life is pretty interesting. Which is ironic because one could say life is very big and complex and they would be correct, but just to see a down to earth, simple but lovely little slice of life from one family amongst billions is never a bad thing to experience. A wonderful movie that deserves a full 4 stars, 8/10, I definitely recommend it. But what film from Japan haven't I loved and recommended? Yes, I'm heavily biased and have a soft spot for that island but it's always been there in some form or fashion since the beginning.

Next week will just be 2 reviews, but I'll try to go out on a high note.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

To Kill A Mockingbird

Dear God I love my job sometimes.

I finally did it, I finally scratched another one off the list. To Kill A Mockingbird, it's the easiest film to talk about and yet so difficult to talk about. Do I even need to say I loved it? Do I even need to say it is one of the best films I have ever seen in my entire life? Of course not. Granted I knew next to nothing about the film, aside from it's one of the best films in american cinema and the line, you probably know the line. That's it. But I never allow such expectations, because you simply can never hear such praise of a film and set that as the benchmark, you must watch it for yourself and judge if it is indeed one of the greats or not. It truly is. It took maybe 5 minutes after the opening credits to where I was ready to be taken on this reminiscent journey of a young girl whose father is a defense attorney and is tasked with defending a black man named Tom who allegedly raped a white woman. But the courtroom scene is not the focus, it doesn't even start until a bit less than an hour before the film ends. The focus is on the young girl Scout, her memories and experiences of that time in her small town, and Mary Badham could not have been better in this role. I adore Scout to the moon and back, she's funny, she's inquisitive, she's a bit of a tomboy, and if I'm being absurdly real with you she is straight up future daughter goals for me. I cannot believe we got such a good performance from such a young girl, just 9 years old and was nominated for an Oscar. Hell to the yeah! But the most integral part of her story and her world is her father, Atticus Finch and it really does show. They have a great relationship together and you can tell he's a great dad and a very respectable and stand up guy. Gregory Peck is so godforsaken good in this movie, he just nails it he absolutely nails it! People have brought up to my knowledge only recently, that is Atticus Finch truly a good person? Does he truly believe in his defendant's innocence or did he just accept the case just to add another notch to his belt if he was acquitted? Was he possibly rascist? In my eyes, no. Granted the story is told from Scout's point of view, she has an immeasurable love and respect for her dad so could the case be made that she was just trying to make her dad seem better than he really was? I haven't read the book, but dear lord is it on my list now, but the film version of Atticus does not seem that type of person. He never judges people, he flat out tells Scout not to use the ugliest and most derogatory word in history though she's by no means a bad kid, he takes the time to visit Tom's family, and is clearly affected by the case. No spoilers of course, but I got choked up not once, not twice, but three times and I don't even know why. I was so heavily engrossed in the story and these characters that by the time the trial started I seriously could not sit still, I had to just pace around my living room I got that into it. It has been a good long while since I got that involved in a film. It's not a film renowned for it's technical aspects, it's shot well and everything, but the reason the film still has that punch over 55 years later is because of the story and the performances. There's one scene and it's genuinely making me well up right now, where Scout meets this young man named Boo who is kind of a recluse and there's a lot of bad talk about him and she's been trying to see him for the whole film, and they finally see each other just went right through me. Not a line was spoken, he's barely on screen for maybe 5 minutes, and he never even says a word. It's just a visual performance by Robert Duvall, and that is some of the best acting I've seen yet. It tells you everything without saying a single solitary word. This movie made me remember why I love to watch movies, why I love to write review after review, week after week, year after year. It is because of just little scenes like that. It means the world to me. And I feel like such an unbelievable idiot for not seeing this film earlier in life. I really want to give it a 9/10 guys, I really do. An 8/10 is a disservice! It's a 9/10, 4 stars, if I forced my thumb to go up anymore it would break. This is mandatory viewing. Now you don't have to take everything I say to heart, just see the movie and judge it for yourself, you may not give it a 9/10 and that is fine, but regardless just see it. I gave so much disdain and hate for It's A Wonderful Life, and people just eat that movie up and I'm fine with that. Different opinions are okay, but you still need to see the movie for yourself so you can give your own input on it. Like God dang it, I want to watch it again! Right now!

I'll be back tomorrow, it's high time we get some foreign films in this month.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Taxi Driver

Took me long enough.

Yes I finally saw Taxi Driver, and damn that was a friggin' good movie. It was everything I expected and yet gave me even more. So our story follows a man named Travis who gets a job as a cab driver, and we slowly work our way through his mind and persona as a less than mentally sound person, as he tries to find some meaning in his life among the grimy streets of New York. I totally see the many aspects of this film in Joker now, but did it damage either film for me? Actually no, they are two different stories just with similar elements between them, it honestly reminds me a lot of Star Wars and The Force Awakens. Indeed there are many similarities in structure and moments, but there's enough new material to truly merit a original film. But it certainly didn't make me hate Joker or see this movie as something I've seen before, it still pulled me into the seedy streets of New York City with a man who has no purpose or real end goal and yet attempts to do something with his life. Robert DeNiro was ridiculously good, and this was right whenever he got very famous after appearing in The Godfather Part 2, but just the way he carries himself, his speech tendencies, and general outlook on life really hooked me and I wanted to see what was going to happen next. A lot of attention was drawn to a then 12 year old Jodie Foster as an appropriately aged 12 year old prostitute named Iris, and she is absolutely great with a surprisingly nice and somewhat even charming relationship with Travis. I can't even put it into words properly, they just really struck me as two people who would get along and even be friends. That is so damn bizarre, but it's true! Their screen chemistry is great together, but Travis has eyes for only one lady named Betsy played by Cybill Shepherd who is a campaign aid for an upcoming presidential candidate Senator Palpatine, I mean Palantine. I just kept calling him that through the whole movie, I'm a nerd, what do you want from my life? They hit it off for a bit, but it was simply not to be but it's a great look into Travis' mindset and mannerisms. The ending really blew me away, mainly just because I had zero idea as to how this would end. Is he going to assassinate a promising future President? Is he going to help out Iris and make her life better? You really have no idea until right before the credits roll and even then you can kinda judge for yourself. I absolutely loved that, because I do not see Travis as a delinquet killer, he saves a man's life, attempts to help a young girl get out of a bad spot and really genuinely says what she needs to hear, yeah he's a bit awkward and blunt, but certainly not evil. It's such an interesting film that made me know exactly what I was in for by the time the opening credits rolled. It's a stylized intro that brings us into this world that's all too familiar and was just part of the urban landscape at that time and place in the world. There's a lot more color and everyday visuals than you would expect, it's not all filthy back alleyways, rundown buildings, and murky visuals through the windshield of a cab. It really and truly does subvert your expectations, now more than possibly ever. This was Bernard Herrman's final movie score, and it takes a very slow and even kinda lovely jazz score which is a bit of a contrast to the content, but it works so well. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one from one of the greats. From Citizen Kane to Taxi Driver the man was a marvel. And hey, Scorsese did damn good directing this from perfomances to visuals and beyond, and it really wouldn't surprise me if people still said this was his best film. Bottom line, it's a great movie and I was thoroughly impressed. An easy 4 stars, 8.5/10, a true must own for any cinematic junkie.

Next time we hit one of the biggest and most acclaimed films from one of the best books ever written. So long.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Ford Vs. Ferrari

Not my usual fare, but interesting nevertheless.

I'm just not a car person, I can appreciate designs for a car but it's a practical machine first so why did I go see this movie? Because I have gearheads in my family, yet I must admit despite me not knowing anything about the technicals of cars or the story about Ford making a racecar to best Ferrari at a race in France, I liked the movie. I felt Matt Damon and Christian Bale had great screen chemistry together and the relationship their characters had was fun and really good. It was truly the driving force of this movie for me (no pun intended of course). I'm not a person who has a liking for loud noises, but the racing segments were shot great and I was able to see everything with crystal clarity, so I must really thank the director and camera men for doing such good work and of course the stunt drivers have nerves of steel, not many people can take a job where you deliberately crash a car for a living so I have mad respect and admiration for such people. I think the best part of the movie was the relationship between world renowned driver Ken Miles and his wife Molly, they really just brought a smile to my face and I thought they were amazing in every scene even if not in close proximity to one another. I was surprised how the film looked, there is some damn good shots in this movie with the driving scenes in the city at night time looking fan-friggin'-tastic, with one quiet scene having such a gorgeous atmosphere and was a bit moody and it was easily the best scene in the film for me. It's entertaining, I have to say it's faithful and told the story straight if only just because I have no grasp of any real historical facts so for all I know this is could be 100% Grade A nonsense, but it was a good movie. Maybe not entirely my scene but trust me it could have been worse, so I was happy to see it regardless. I give it 3 stars, a solid 7.5/10, if you are any type of car fan chances are you've seen it already but it's worth the time even if you're curious about a slice of automobile history.

This might be the last new movie for awhile, I will truly try to see the Mr. Rogers movie this weekend but things have went ever so slightly south which sucks man. I wanted to see The Lighthouse and Jojo Rabbit but it will have to wait for now. I don't think I can do as many reviews now. Not just quit here and now, but scale it back from 3 to 2 reviews a week. I really don't want to but hard times be here man. Hopefully December will be better but I'm seeing Star Wars even if I have to sell other people's kidneys, just saying.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Yes the film that usurped Citizen Kane as the quote unquote best film ever. How was it?

I very much enjoyed it, I feel it was indeed the best of the Hitchcock films I've reviewed this week, and it kept me interested until the very end. Jimmy Stewart returns again as a detective who suffers from acrophobia and after watching his partner die decides to return, but his friend asks for his help in watching his wife. The reason? Well, I'd rather not say. Needless to say it builds intrigue and mystery very quickly, and you're constantly throwing ideas out to what the cause of this strangeness really is. Well I was half right. Honestly a movie hasn't screwed with my brain this much since Perfect Blue, and that movie is a trip and a half, I still need to watch that movie like 4 more times. But anyway, so the mystery part of it was great. What surprised me is this movie didn't get a lot of praise when it premiered, critics felt it was lackluster and audiences made the film about triple it's budget, so it wasn't a bomb but it was not so well loved. Whereas now, people view it as the best of all Hitchcock's works, but I'm still on the fence about that. I thought Jimmy Stewart was great in this movie, still bringing his usual stamp of invested and fun acting while bringing even more to the table. But man did Kim Novak steal this show and run laughing with it to the bank. Holy hell's bells, she is fantastic! This is an excellent performance, and she is able to bring such emotion and unearthliness to this part. Easily the best part of the entire movie for me. This is certainly one of Hitchcock's more artsy films, evident immediately from the opening credits and seen throughout the course of the film through lighting, shot placement, and of course effects. The effects are done incredibly well and really does make you feel uneasy and a bit off center, I myself suffer from acrophobia and get vertigo more than 10 feet off the ground, so it was effective for me. But I think it's the story, this ever expanding mystery, an inner struggle within our main character that really is why it's so well received and loved today. I'm very happy I finally had a chance to see more films and wasn't disappointed with any of them, though Psycho still holds a strong place in my heart I can say Vertigo is in fact the best Hitchcock movie I've seen to date. He really was a one of a kind director that tapped into his own fears and demons and brought it into the lens of a camera, able to make entertaining and wonderful cinema that will be watched for decades and decades to come. Every movie with a twist is owed a great deal to Psycho, every suspense scene is compared to his films, most everyone will agree he is a fantastic director, and I'm one of those people. Does it surpass Citizen Kane in terms of filmmaking and story? Eh, it's debatable but Citizen Kane just speaks to me more. Regardless, this film gets an easy 4 stars, 8 if not even 9/10, and two thumbs way up from me.

Well next week we look into some more classics that I have yet to see. Hey I got a lot of stuff to watch, cut me a break.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Rear Window

I'll definitely say I liked it more than North By Northwest.

So I finally watched Rear Window, does it hold up to the expectations? I have to yes. I knew the basic premise of a world travelling photographer who is wheelchair bound after an accident and has taken a hobby of looking out the window and observing the neighborhood before he suspects someone of murder and subsequently tries to prove it, but beyond that I knew hardly anything about it except for the cast. I loved Jimmy Stewart in this movie, he has such a likable charm to him and is a very compelling lead, and his interactions with Grace Kelly never failed once to bring a smile to my face. She was a lovely lady in life, and most everyone who worked with her said she was a great actress which I agree with. Raymond Burr was surprisingly scary even though I mostly know him for his lifelong career of defense attorney Perry Mason and reporter Steve Martin from the immortal american edit Godzilla King Of The Monsters, but this was done before both and he brings such a strong uneasiness and on just two occasions made my blood run a bit cold. Absolutely great cast, and a damn good story, but I really feel this movie could never be replicated again even in 100 years time. Hitchcock knew exactly how to direct this, and more importantly what to show. A very good portion of this film is seeing things through a point of view shot, you never see any actors observing the small neighborhood, you just see different people across the courtyard interacting in their own apartments. It really does feel like you're sitting in that wheelchair and observing all the things going on. It's absurd how well constructed the set was for the apartments, and the fact that each resident has their own story and personalities must seriously be recommended, I absolutely loved this movie for that. It's so difficult to explain because it really is so intricately constructed and each shot is there for a purpose, that it would take all day to fully explain why it works so friggin' well. Bottom line, watch it. It is well worth your time and money even if just for a one time viewing, it's easily one of Hitchcock's finest films that I will watch time and again. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and we got one more movie with Mr. Stewart. Will it be the best of them all or will it fall flat? Somehow I doubt it at this point.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

North By Northwest

Yes, I finally get to see more Hitchcock films.

North By Northwest is a really good movie, I had a terrific time with it and I do recommend it if you have the time. The story follows an advertisment agent who gets mistaken for another type of agent in the field of espionage, who soon digs deeper and deeper into finding the real agent who everyone keeps mistaking him for. What follows is a very good thriller adventure story with great actors and a more light Hitchcock story. I feel Hitchcock did a great job with this movie, he wanted to just make a very entertaining movie that wasn't as dark or heavy as his other films, and it's very apparent early on. The dialogue is spot on with particular love going to Cary Grant who is already a fantastic lead but now given such sharp dialogue with a perpetual snarky twist makes him endlessly enjoyable to watch. James Mason returns once more as the villain, and while he is more in the background and not seen doing much his acting is still spot on. I felt Eva Marie Saint was the perfect addition to Cary Grant, both being very direct and charming and she kind of kept me guessing as to which side she was on for a little while. One surprising cast member I didn't recognize was Martin Landau, in the earliest role I've yet to see him in, as a henchman for the villain and I honestly loved him, at first I thought it was David Carradine until I looked it up, and man does he have a great physicality and threatning persona in this! Now I will say there isn't much of a mystery or even a twist to the plot, everything is very cut and dry and doesn't take much inference on the audience's part, the film explains the agent and you can tell immediately who's the good guys and who are the bad guys. And I honestly don't have a problem with that, this is more the movie you just sit back and enjoy for the performances and the set pieces. The film looks great at times, even when you know it's a painted backdrop it's such a beautiful painted backdrop you just don't really mind. Everyone brings up the crop dusting plane scene, and yes it was very good and held tension nicely, but the ending felt abrupt and I personally liked the version or perhaps homage of that scene in From Russia With Love better. Speaking of which, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if elements of this film influenced the James Bond series, seeing as how this movie came out 3 years before Dr. No while the book series by Ian Fleming was going on for about 6 years by the time this movie came out. It's interesting to think of such a famous and loved spy thriller that was made before the mega franchise that is James Bond was even created. Regardless, I very much enjoyed this movie and wouldn't at all mind picking up a copy on video in the future, and I'm sure you'll dig it too. A solid 8/10 from me, and I'll be back tomorrow with our first James Stewart film.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Doctor Sleep

Yeah, that's about right.

I really wasn't expecting much from this movie, and to be honest it sounds like a bad idea. It's basically a sequel to The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick, but since it had some literary roots before it was a film it doesn't seem as bad. It's a good movie, maybe not a movie you absolutely have to see but if you like more cerebral stories or are just a big fan of Stephen King, then you should check it out. The story starts out very disconnected and fragmented, following Danny Torrence all grown up and helping a young girl with the same gifts from a band of people who are kind of a cross between immortals from Highlander, and the Dementors from Harry Potter, able to literally suck all the shining out of individuals and further boost their own power. I like our leads, I mean I've yet to see a bad Ewan McGregor performance and he does quite well in this, able to be a mentor figure to this mystical power to a young child. Wait this sounds a bit had something to do with wars amongst the stars. Oh well it'll come to me later. But I feel Kyleigh Curran did a great job and was a really damn good leading actor for one so young and is kind of a badass in this movie, I was rooting for her and Ewan the whole way! Villains on the other hand are sort of blah, we only really know two of them and even then we don't actually know much about them beyond, ooooh spooky eyes because they are eeevillll! But they do the job fine and dandy, and if anything bring new levels to the world that Stephen King has woven. It certainly elicited reactions from me, from unnerving creepiness to flat out exclamations of amazement. They go there, with full out mental power battles and it really is spectacular mainly because I just haven't seen much of that in any media beyond Doctor Strange and the last few bits of Arkham Knight. But it's friggin' cool and I loved it. And no I haven't seen Inception yet (Yeah yeah, I'll get to it one day.) so it was just great fun to see, I actually caught myself tilting my head as the camera did all these weird movements, it's never disorientating but it does kinda make you feel a bit weird. It dips very lightly into actual Shining territory until the end and while others may bitch and moan about it having to use the film as a crutch, I greatly enjoyed it and they showed amazing attention to detail and honestly some of the actors looked identical to the original cast. Hell I almost feel tempted to go home and watch it right now but I actually want to sleep tonight so I will decline, and give this movie a 7/10. May not be essential viewing but it's a decent story that gives you some entertainment. Pretty good movie, and worth seeing at least once. Short review I know, but we got more to talk about this week from another well known director into the fray of suspense and thrillers.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Eyes Wide Shut

Okay, fine. This was the best one.

Yes Stanley Kubrick's last film is a wonderful and surreal piece of cinema that I personally feel is needing of more love. Shot over a record breaking (and still holding I believe) shoot of 400 consecutive days, Eyes Wide Shut is a bizarre movie but one I highly recommend regardless. Our story focuses on a married couple played by then real life married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who've hit a rough patch after disclosing some private and honestly rough truths about each other's love life, leading to a strange and surprisingly deep dive into their relationship and the most batshit freaky party quite possibly ever crafted in movie history. Now a lot of people have written this film off as just arthouse porn, but I couldn't disagree more with that, yes it fully warrants that R rating and nearly got a NC-17 rating cause God forbid you show a nipple even though all the more smutty scenes and topics couldn't be less erotic if they tried. The film is about a relationship and raises some big questions, is love truly equal, can love be pure lust and vice versa, what if you decided to do something to hurt your partner because you were jealous, should you feel guilty for thinking about other people besides your partner? While yes the case could be argued it is very much in the eye of the beholder, and I certainly have no issue with that, the film is very much more loose in terms of story progression and characters. Not to say they are horrible characters and the story is an absolute dumpster fire, but it's difficult to pinpoint. I felt the performances from our leads in particular Nicole Kidman were spectacular, and I know we can make jokes about Tom Cruise but honestly he handles the material with enough charm and understanding of drama to pull off a very good performance. The film's visuals are absurdly gorgeous, with colors so bright they practically glow, the camera glides and sways through the scenes, the film has a surreal dream like quality that can dip into sheer nightmare fuel when it wants to. I'm honestly and truthfully concerned about my dreams tonight. So the visual style and cinematography get 10/10 from me, if not even higher! The music combines lovely jazz pieces, wonderful classical compositions, and a quite chilling theme heard throughout the film. There was just so much to appreciate and love, and it floors me that the final cut was shown to the studio just 4 days before Kubrick passed away due to a heart attack. The man was a visionary director, who took on projects from all genres and sources and made unforgettable cinema, and while Eyes Wide Shut may not be my absolute favorite (that distinction goes to A Clockwork Orange) it hits the number 2 spot easily. A beautiful and marvellous looking film that took risks to show a struggling relationship in it's own entirely unique way. It reminded me a lot of The Graduate and how it brings up that not every relationship can have a happy ending, and that love is one of the most complex of emotions and can't be fully described. That's why I have seen so few romance movies that I genuinely loved, because there is depth and, complex and muddled thoughts and emotions that go into such a thing. This may have been a very brief review but this is a film you simply have to experience because talking about it no matter how much in depth cannot replicate the effects. Rent it, buy it, steal a copy from your movie buff friend, I don't care how just go see it. Stanley Kubrick, my hat is off to you. 9/10, 4 stars, a must see movie for any movie fan!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Full Metal Jacket

Man. This was a tough one for me.

Now I'm not going to get into the politics and situations as to why in the name of human sanity this f***ing country stuck around in a war like Vietnam. I could. But I'm not going to. I will simply say that this film did nothing but reinforce my personal beliefs on it. Full Metal Jacket is a fine movie, made well over a decade after the war was over and I appreciate what the film intended and more importantly accomplished. The few war movies I have seen do not sugar coat anything and just tell it as it is, and that is exactly what it should do but with this particular movie it goes one step further and visually tells you about the dehumanizing effects of a war. It's really tough to talk about something both in film and real world conversation that destroyed millions of lives. However, Stanley Kubrick did it right and it's not a character study, it's not a film documenting a real life platoon, it just shows us the course of one soldier from boot camp to the middle of the war. No ending where he survives the war and gets to go home, the film ends in the aftermath of one conflict amongst hundreds if not thousands. It really does put it all into perspective, I'd be terrified beyond words to live in the 1960s at my age now and some people bitch and moan about today's state of the country but the 60s was an entire different beast. But it's not just the story, the performances are what either makes or breaks your film in such a context and they are spot on. Matthew Modine is something else, playing a soldier who states multiple times that he joined the Marines to kill and yet you never even see him pull a trigger, it is a fascinating and great performance and really is what sold me on this being one of the best war films if not films period. Vincent D'Onofrio is....shit, he's good. That's all I can say. Jesus H. Christ if that man didn't get any kind of award nod I'm going to have a problem. And I can almost say 110% that even if you haven't seen the movie, you can quote R. Lee Ermey in this movie, and I get it! It's a great performance that he barely had to even act in, the man was practically born to verbally rip you to shreds though he was a nice man and held a lot of respect in life. The film looks damn good at times, and is shot more traditionally than in Kubrick's usual style though it does creep in here and there, the music is used sparingly and effectively to perfect build and tension, and the use of slow-mo makes you feel every impact. I think the film was trying to convey this sense of abhorrent desensitized violence, and it really does get under your skin because some of the soldiers are just plain f***ed up. I've yet to meet a person who was pro-war, but even then I'm sure this film would change their stance pretty damn quick. It's not a film to entertain, but more to just make you question human nature. It's certainly worth your time and money easily, but there is more to it than one hell of an opening monologue and some very quotable lines. 8.5/10, can our final Kubrick film top two already great films? We shall soon learn.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019


Ohhh my God, I picked a doozy for the first real review of the month.

I am kinda speechless after watching Lolita. I don't even really know where to begin. I kinda loved it! I know that is so weird to say but, I really loved Lolita! I had a ball watching this movie and enjoyed it on multiple levels, and I will admit I have not read the novel so I had no frame of reference for anything. I just knew it was a controversial book that was adapted into a well known and slightly controversial film. Yes, it is the story of a middle aged man who becames infatuated and obsessed with a young teenage girl but the story goes well and far beyond this taboo relationship. In fact, the movie surprised me quite a bit but in the best way possible. First of all, I didn't know it was a black and white film which was a nice change of pace and it really does look nice. The second and most huge of the surprises was how funny this movie was, I was laughing way more than I ever thought possible with a film like Lolita, but I guess it shouldn't have been too much of a shock since Peter Sellers is in the movie but it is genuinely funny and I think that is what tipped this movie from a good movie to a pretty grand movie. Last but not least are the performances, now I fully expected decent performances but it gave me so much more than that. James Mason is great, I know this couldn't have been an easy role to take considering the subject matter but the film isn't exploitative and he handles the dramatics very well, and I honestly could just listen to him talk for hours, he just has a great voice. Peter Sellers brings his usual absurd and arguably camp perfomance which easily made me just crack up, his delivery and more importantly his dialogue is so odd and yet so damn funny. That's the best way I can describe the comedic tone to this movie, very odd but still makes you laugh. In fact, you'll know by the end of the first scene whether or not you'll like this movie. But I have to give so much credit to Sue Lyon as our eponymous character. Oh my stars, she is brilliant! Brilliant! For an actress who was 15 during the production she handles this performance just right, she's funny, she can be a bit of a wise ass, she's a totally real teenager, and I wish so badly I could divulge into her character arc but it would be a huge detriment to not only her acting but the latter parts of the story. Needless to say I was very impressed and genuinely loved how they potrayed her. I feel a lot of people assume the film is as smutty as the book, but you honestly don't see anything and for good reason. The film would probably be banned if they explored it more and even today it can be viewed as this taboo, video nasty, sort of forbidden film though all of the more ahem, mature aspects have to be inferred into and are never fully spelt out. It's not this film that advocates in favor of such a relationship and says it's totally fine, it's not. Truthfully, hand over my heart, it plays like a drama about just two people in a relationship. The age of Lolita is hardly ever brought up, and the film incorporates a passage of time element so you're never really sure of her age, and the uh...physical aspect is only brought up once. Now I'm not saying it's good or right, the film just potrays this form of relationship in a different light and could be told today without the age difference and still hold up. I won't spoil anything minor or major, but really pay attention to how Lolita and Humbert differ from each other as the film progresses. There's a genuine growth, and the ending for Lolita is a very happy one with her life at a pleasant place with a bright future. It's such a different film and deserving of the praise it has gathered since it was released in 1962, and I do urge more people to see it and to simply judge it on it's merits rather than preconceptions. It just isn't the film you suspect. 8/10!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Mad Love (1935)

I would be an utter hack if I didn't ressurect my horror movie reviews for just one more day. Because Halloween can never be over.

Mad Love is a very well done film, combining both the creepy performance of Peter Lorre with the directing abilities of one of the most acclaimed cinematographers in history Karl Freund. The film concerns a brilliant surgeon played by Lorre who gets entangled in a love triangle between an actress and her pianist husband, who after a train accident must use the hands of a killer to repair the piano player's hands. Colin Clive returns once more here bringing yet another commited and great performance, while Frances Drake I honestly feel doesn't have to act much when interacting with Lorre and while it is a simple role she plays the part well. But of course the reason the film is still so well known is because of Peter Lorre, and this was his first american film after starring in Fritz Lang's M leading him to have two classic horrific roles under his belt and lead to many more in the future. The man is a great actor, able to be both unsettling and yet still relatable, being a frustrated man who while a genius in his medical field is very awkward and blunt in social situations and only wants to be accepted by the woman he loves. It is one of many tragic romances in the horror genre, he is able to profess his love but recieve little in return which leads to a eventual spiral into madness which is handled incredibly well. Yes, the idea of an executed killer's hands causing a normal sane person to commit murders is far fetched and bordering on silly, and while it does clash with the realism of the picture it doesn't harm the film. However in the case of a secondary character who is there solely to lighten the mood and create comedic relief, is a sin against nature and while horror movies can have a light joke here or there, what is the point of making a horror movie if you throw in a comedic character to keep people from feeling tense and scared? It sort of defies the purpose of the genre. One mistep aside, the director behind this is amazing. Karl Freund is no stranger here either, he directed The Mummy just 3 years prior and has been a pioneer in film working on Metropolis, All Quiet On The Western Front, and of course some ventures into horror, his style is visually interesting and always does something you just never saw in films at that time. The lighting, blocking, and framing is excellent with lots of craftsmanship and imagination. The film even took me for not one but two loops with one genuinely making my jaw drop because it was unexpected and worked within the story, which always gets a film at least one point on the scale. It may noy be high tier golden age horror material but is far from a footnote in the genre, and actually a remake that is more well known than the original and in fact was remade more or less three more times throughout the years. So obviously there is an interesting story to tell, but I'm willing to hedge my bets on this being the best version. Love makes you do crazy things, and if reviewing horror movies after Halloween is wrong then I most certainly never want to be right.