Friday, February 26, 2010

Wayne's World (1992)

Eh, this film was ok. There were bits which I liked, and there's bits where I roled my eyes up to the ceiling like "god that's friggin stupid" but I still came away with the feeling that this film was quite unique. But then I've read in reviews that this film is basically a remake of Bill and Ted's Excellently Awesome Adventure. So there goes my theory on it's uniqueness. I still liked it anyhow for the most part. But some scenes were just so so stupid that I was looking for some hidden joke to it all where there was nothing.

There's alot of stupidity in this film. You know how The Simpsons are basically flogging a dead horse playing off of Homer's stupidity the whole time? That's how I feel about most of the humour in this movie. I kept waiting for a joke with a clever angle, but no it was just "these guys are stupid, stupid is funny, we'll settle with that". There's a scene where Wayne(Mike Myers) and Garth(Dana Carvey) bump into the local police officer. Wayne goes "Hey, what's that bacon I smell? He he. Someone cooking some pork hehehe" and the policeman goes "Oh I get it, it's coz I'm a policeman is it?". Why would they make the policeman say such a stupid line??? I thought that he might have followed it on with something but that was it. They pointed out the obvious and left it at that! I know I sound now like I HATE the movie but the jokes were really not that good.

What I DID LIKE about it was the idea of the story. Two "slacker" dudes run a cable access television show out of Wayne's parent's basement. That has funniness written all over it. There's alot that could be done with that. Think of Del Boy in "Only Fools And Horses". Del Boy tries to be so "cool" and really sophisticated but he's so stupid that he can never get anything right despite him trying his bestest. The thing is that Wayne and Garth think that their being stupid is funny, and most of the time it's not it's just really stupid. Whereas Del Boy is funny because he tries so hard not to be stupid while everyone around him is laughin their ass off at him. I'd have liked Wayne and Garth to be really serious about their cable show.

Other things which I LIKED(I did like some of this film!) were the pop culture references. Spoiler. You have the T1000(Robert Patrick) from Terminator 2 show up looking for John Connor, scaring the pants off of Wayne. There's spoofs of Laverne and Shirley(which I've never seen but liked the idea of the spoof afterwards) and Scooby Doo. Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper make appearances. There's a great scene, which many may be aware of, of the "dudes" headbanging in the car along to Bohemian Rhapsody. Alot of phrases were started in this movie like "that's what she said","Shwing!" and (every review that I've read has incorporated this in some clever, original way)..."NOT!" Haha hilarious. Not so funny now but back then, before people had started using those sayings in every joke, I imagine they might have been quite funny.

So there it is. I liked the IDEA! of the story and the many pop references but the humour in it, FOR ME, was terrible. They were "Haha that's so funny....(while you look around to see if anyone else is laughing)" jokes that really weren't that good. I'd say overall...Eh, ok.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

I really liked this movie. I've read alot of reviews where people were were unhappy with the length of the film, with the pacing, and the fact that the actors seemed to take forever to spit their lines out. I know how they feel in this situation, having being bored to death recently watching "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", but I've got to say that I was glued to the screen from start to finish with this movie. I love character studies for some reason. And alot of people might argue the fact that this might not be the greatest character study ever made, but these types of films generally draw me in quite easily.

The plot: Robert Ford(Casey Affleck) at age twenty is a keen admirer of the legendary outlaw Jesse James(Brad Pitt). He's practically in love with guy, you get the feeling that he wants to BE Jesse James. Most people have heroes, but this guy is obsessed. He wants to join the James gang in their latest escapade: a train robbery. Frank and Jesse run the gang of low level criminals looking to make an easy buck. Frank thinks Bob hasn't "the ingredients" to make it in the gang, but Jesse is flattered into taking in Bob. After the robbery, Jesse let's Bob stick around for his own amusement, and tells his other associates to leave. After a few days, Bob's obssesiveness creeps Jesse out, and Jesse tells him to leave. From here on out, Bob Ford starts to see his hero in a different light. On a few occasions when they cross paths again, Jesse taunts and embarrasses Bob. Bob developes a sort of love/hate relationship with Jesse. Meanwhile Jesse's former associates are planning on turning in him to collect a bounty. Jesse, the clever guy that he is, senses that his "pals" might be plotting against him. He surrounds himself with stupid people, guys that are too cowardly to "do something", namely Bob. We see Jesse struggling with depression and paranoia for the remainder of the film. He feels trapped, like he knows what's coming and it's just a matter of time before it happens. Being the smart guy that he is, he decides to groom Bob as his murderer. Suicide by another person's hand. He'll be remembered as a legend, Bob will fill the role as Judas. The title of the movie could nearly be called "The assassination of Robert Ford, by the Legendary Jesse James".

Brad Pitt is very convincing as Jesse James. For the most part, we listen into his posse's conversations. They're afraid, they're always plotting their next move behind his back, and it's great when we see Jesse confront them. He sits in the room and just observes them, while they fidget around, mumble their words, make up stories. Jesse sees straight through them all. Jesse James knows people. Like any great leader, his strength lies in knowing how people work. The dishonesty of their actions are as clear as day to him. And for the most part he plays along with their bullshitting, but quietly ticking away in the back of his mind, he's scheming, plotting and evaluating the situation. Then we have Jesse's fall into depression and it is well acted by Pitt.

It's not what you might expect out of a film made about Jesse James. Just one solitary train robbery. No great shootouts. And the point of the film really is Robert Ford's unnatural obssession with Jesse James. At one point Jesse says it out plainly "Do you want to be like me.....or do you want to BE me?" It's a film about the role of heroes, and about relying on them too heavily and not relying on yourself. The honest man in the movie is Jesse James, even though he plays along with the falseness sometimes. Every other person that he's around wears a mask. But Jesse sees through it all. The only exception to this is Robert Ford. But he's only honest because he's stupid. He hasn't the ability to put on an act. And his stupidity is his downfall.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

This film is exceptional. The animation? No CGI back then, and I couldn't care less. There's more feeling about the animation in my opinion when I can see that it has been drawn frame by frame by an artist. Some of the kids programs that I see these days are downright terrible. "Computers suck, damn new age technology, these futuristic demon machines will spell dooooooom for us allllllllll......". Alright I don't hate computer animation THAT much. When it's done right it's pretty darn good. But I miss seeing the old style cartoons: popeye the sailor man, donald duck, daffy and the rest. I'll say it right here, right now: I DON'T LIKE THE NEW COMPUTER GENERATED WINNIE THE POOH AND MICKEY MOUSE CLUB!!" There I said it. You heard me. But seriously there's no FEELING to it. Maybe I'm just way too nostalgic. Move on Jimbob. Gee wiz like.

But back to Roger. This film has feeeeling. It's fantasic. Animation, film noir, one of the most terrifying villains ever captured on film (he scared the pants off me!!), a great plot, terrific acting (taking into account that this was new at the time) all rolled into one helluva masterpiece of work. It's just fun to watch. Great entertainment. I'm sorry that I at one period of my life strayed away from these types of films alltogether. Thought provoking, intellectual films were the order of the day: A Clockwork Orange, Citizen Kane, 2001, Barry Lyndon (Ya mostly Kubrick!) blah fuckin blah all lacking in one vital ingrediant: Entertainment. They're great and all in certain abstract ways, but Who Framed Roger Rabbit is what I love about cinema: The ability to watch something and walk away feeling good about youself, and not go lookin for that nearest bridge to jump off. Am now I'm too tired to explain the plot so I'll just say watch this movie, it's friggin awesome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three Kings (1999)

Three Kings is directed by David O. Russel and stars Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze. It's a film which explores the topic of America's involvement in the Persian Gulf War, for a few brief moments that is. The rest of the film contains elements of the Western Genre, slap stick comedy, and full on action. Throw in a few pop culture references for good measure.

The plot: It's the day after the Gulf War ceasefire, soldiers are celebrating with bubbly. During the day, the Iraqi soldiers are surrendering themselves over to the Americans. Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Troy Barlow (Wahlberg) finds a map showing bunkers, and instead of showing it to his superiors, he shows it to his freinds Private First Class Conrad Vig (Jonze) and Staff Sergeant Chief Elgin (Cube). Major Archie Gates (Clooney) finds out about the map, and decides to join the party. He believes that the bunkers hold Kuwaiti gold which was stolen by Saddam. Under the ceasefire, the gold is to be returned to Kuwait. The four soldiers plan on taking the gold for themselves. Under the ceasefire, the Iraqi soldiers will have no problem handing over the gold. But while this happens, the four soldiers witness cruelty and murder at the hands of the Iraqi soldiers towards Iraqi Shia rebels who have risen against Saddam's regime but were abandoned by the Coalition. The soldiers who had planned on taking the gold and running, are forced with a moral dilema.

I liked the brief commentaries in this film about the nature of America's involvement in the Gulf War. Bush asks the ordinary citizens of Iraq to stand up and fight Saddam, he promises that the army will be stand by them. They stand up to the tyranny, turns out the American army has turned it's back on them, now the rebels are being slaughtered. Not surprising. There's also a more realistic approach to portraying the soldiers. They're not exacly good, honest men. Some are looking for a quick profit, stealing gold bullion.

Overall, I liked this film alot. There's alot of great humour in it. It's not all preachy about morals and what not, but it does make you stop and think as well. Some good, and not so good performances. Great cinematography, well unique. Overall, very enjoyable.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Shining (1980)

The Shining was directed by Stanley Kubrick, and is creepy beyond description. It's not your typical horror movie, with moments that make you jump out of your seat. Instead you witness "evil in daylight, through a wide-angle lens", as Pauline Kael puts it. And that sounds spot on to me. There's no actual darkness in this movie, the scenes are well lit. The darkness is in Jack Torrance's mind, which in turn is put into the audiences mind.

The plot: Jack Torrance applies for a job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. The hotel is in an isolated part of the country where the severe weather conditions make it unfeasable to run during winter as the roads are blocked for several months. Jack is a writer, and sees this as an ideal opportunity to work on his novel in peace and quiet. At the interview, Jack is informed that the previous caretaker,Delbert Grady, got cabin fever, and killed his wife and two daughters. Jack, however, is not put off by this. He brings his wife Wendy(Shelley Duvall) and son Danny(Danny Lloyd) along with him. During their stay at the hotel Jack goes mad, and Danny sees visions of the terrifying events that have taken place in the hotel. Danny has Extrasensory perception. He can see past and future events, as well as talk to people directly into their mind with thought, known as "shining". Madness follows.

The best thing about this movie is Kubrick's direction. His films are generally great to look at, he being a photography enthusiast and all. The cinematography is superb. You also get the feeling that this is not a horror film, but a Kubrick film. What HE finds most frightening, is what see in this film. As Stephen King commented, Kubrick missed at great opportunity at a "jump out of your seat moment" when Jack discovers Wendy going through his written work. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is written out line after line, page after page. Instead of that "out of you seat" shock, Kubrick allows Jack to enter the frame before the payoff of Wendy being frightened out of her senses. The horror is in the awareness of evil. It never jumps out at you. Evil hangs around for the entire scene.

Jack Nicholson in my opinion may have gone overboard with his acting. Alot of people have commented on the fact that at the start of the movie, you had the feeling that his character was very near the edge to begin with. I'd have liked to have seen him tone down the craziness at the start. And some of his weird behaviour later on seemed a bit too obviously "acted". I didn't "believe" some of it. But there are scenes however which I think that he is great in.

The scariest thing about this movie in my opinion is Shelley Duvall who plays Wendy. I don't know about anyone else but I would HATE to be stuck in an isolated hotel with her. Wendy is downright creepy. Overall this film is fantastic. To me, it's pure horror. What really frightens me, is exactly what I see in this film. The thought of the two little girls standing at the end of a hallway saying to Danny "Come and play with us, forever and ever" scares the absolute shit out of me. This is a must see film. By the way, I liked the shorter version better. The added scenes in the longer version were ok, but nothin special.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

This was ok. I realise that it's become a cult phenomenon but nothing about it really got my interest besides Susan Sarandon, and a few catchy songs. Alot of the time I had difficulty following exactly what was going on. I know it's not the most complex plot in the world, anything but, but alot of the plot was told through the songs, and they were hard to follow. I found it hard to figure out what the point was besides singing songs and flashing cleavage. Then again maybe that's all there really is to it.

The humour, eh. Ok. There were a few laugh out loud moments. The plot: a newly engaged couple are stranded in the middle of nowhere after a blowout, they walk to a dodgy looking castle which they had just passed on the road, they're looking for a phone, they enter the castle, they meet a bunch of crazy people, songs are sung, sex happens, the gay master of the castle Dr. Frank N. Furter creates his "Frankenstein monster" called Rocky Horror as his sex toy, Meat Loaf is in it, and that's about it. Generally just a mish mash of all these elements and you've got some sort of cult phenomenon.

I don't get it to be honest. Apparently it's a great movie for lots of people to watch all at once after a drunken night out. I didn't HATE it at the same time though. The songs are really catchy. "Lets doooo the tiiiiime waaaaarp agaaaaaain!" I liked that one. I'll say it's average, and if I were watching this with lots of people while drunk I might think it's great, because when you're drunk generally everything is either "the best thing in the world!!!!" or "I hate that F*&n movie!!!" and have a big rant about it. And I didn't hate it so I'll call it "the greatest thing everrrrrrr!" just so long as you're drunk at the time.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) stars Jack Nicholson and is directed by Milos Forman. It is an adaption of a novel of the same name written by Ken Kesey. The film won all five of the major Academy Awards, and did surprisingly well at the box office, being one of the highest grossing films of all time, at the time. Now enough of this mindless rambling, and let me explain to you why I think this film is great.

Jack Nicholson plays the part of R.P McMurphy. The kind of guy that everyone knows. He's that testosterone fuelled guy who's a victim of his own high spirits. He means well, but there's an awareness when you're around him that anything can happen, that a sense of danger follows him around. You could say the wrong thing and ignite his temper, but other than that he tries his best to keep a lid on it and get along with people. R.P McMurphy has been sent to a mental instituion from prison so that they can observe him for an amount of time to see whether he really is a crackpot or not. At a meeting with one of the higher ups of the mental instituion asks him why they think they sent him here. He says "Well as far as I can tell it's because I fight and fuck too much". You know the type of guy he is.

In the mental asylum he meets the other patients. They're what you'd expect people to be like who are in mental institutions. I don't need to explain. There doesn't seem to be any life in this place. McMurphy comes in and shakes the place up. Tries to lift the spirits of the other patients for his and their own sake. What he's up against is a cold hearted, bitch of a woman: Nurse Ratched. She runs the shop. Your typical person in authority, she likes being in control for her own sake, and not for the sake of the patients and she enjoys it all. A sadist.

McMurphy asks her to put on the World Series instead of the usual routine they have at that time of day. She replies with the answer that most of the patients would be upset at the change, but puts it to a vote knowing that she'll win. She's right she does win. But when a second chance the next day comes for a chance to vote, McMurphy gets everyone at the group therapy session to vote. Superbitch replies "Thats only nine votes, there's 18 people on this ward. It's 9 to 9 you don't have a majority. She ends the session and McMurphy is obviously outraged that she included catatonic people who can't hear a thing in the vote. What McMurphy does next is masterclass. Not gonna be out done by Nurse Ratched he goes over to the TV and does commentary on the ball game, with nothing on the screen. The other patients join him like they're really at the ball game. Nurse Ratched looses her cool.

Films that were anti authoritorian were popular around the time that this film was made. "Cool Hand Luke" is one that comes to mind first. Standing up to the man. Rebelling against the system. This film is all about rebellion. McMurphy is a hero to the patients. He stands up to Nurse Ratched. He'll either live as a free man or go out fighting. But the people that run the place have ways and means of controlling thier patients. There's a labotomy scene that really gives you an idea of the horrific types of things that went on in these instituions for an amount of time in America. If you want an idea check out to see for yourself. Be warned it's quite graphic. This film is a must see, and one of the few films that I'd call great.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

East of Eden (1955)

East of Eden is a film directed by Elia Kazan in 1955, loosely based on the novel of the same name which was released in 1952 by John Steinbeck. It stars James Dean in his first significant role, and he really is the star of the show. Unfortunately he died in September of 1955.

Apperantly, Dean himself was a dislikable character. Marlon Brando was considered before Dean, when screenwriter Paul Osborn found James acting on Broadway. Kazan was unimpressed with Dean as an actor, but later admitted that he thought Dean was perfect for the role, that Cal, the character in the movie, and James Dean shared similar emotional traits. Now that's prudence for you. The kid's an asshole, he's hard to get along with, his acting methods are amateurish. However he's great for the part, he IS the part, he IS that character, he GETS the part.

The plot: Two sons, Cal (James Dean) and Aron (Richard Davalos) live with there father Adam Trask (Raymond Massey) on a ranch near the central California coastal town of Selinas. Their mother apparently had left when they were born. Cal finds out thay his mother is alive and runs a successful brothel close by. He goes to see her and discovers that he shares most of his traits with her. His mother asks about his brother Aron, Cal tells her "Oh he's good, not like you", she howls with laughter. Cal is a wild person. He's constantly likened to an animal. He's an outsider. He longs for his father's affections but never gets any. Aron on the other hand is the insider, he's loved and prased by his father but he loves his brother Cal, whereas Cal only holds resentment for Aron. Adam Trask looses most of his fortune in a failed refrigeration business. His aim was not to make a profit, but find a way to preserve vegetables and do some good for the human race. What a good guy. Cal tries to start a business which would profit from World War 1 breaking out. His plan was to give his father back the money that the ice business lost. His father rejects the money as it's war profiteering. As a result, Cal looses the plot and all hell breaks loose within the family.

I liked this movie. It's got many lessons and what not, for young troubled men trying to find thier place in the world. Ya it's soppy stuff, but I'll go deeper into it. All Cal is lookin for is love. He doesn't feel loved and that turns him into a cruel and nasty person. His father is this highly moralled man with principles, but he sticks to his "right principles" so much so that he himself is emotionless. The father does what is right by the book, but doesn't follow his own conscience in a way which leaves Cal frustrated. Cal is the most honest minded person in the movie. He doesn't believe what he hears from his father about his mother dying and he goes out to find her. Cal is just trying to get a sense of himself, of where he comes from, and why he is the way he is.

I'll say that this is a good movie, but not great. The ending could have been alot better for the way it was set-up. It seemed a bit twisted to me in the end. Like things shouldn't have turnes out the way they did. I'm not asking for a happy ending, but I think they could've done better. That might have gone against the book though which I haven't read so can't comment on. It was a great debut however by James Dean.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is directed by David Fincher, and has got to be one of the most boring films that I have seen in a long time. It is SOOOO incredibly long, nearly 3 hours! Fine i'll watch your 3 hour long film, but please make it entertaining, or some bit interesting. Please don't try to tug at my heart strings for 3 hours! The thing is to that it tries too hard. I got the feeling watching it that it was trying to be a Forrest Gump sort of a movie. Then I discovered afterwards that the guy who wrote this piece of crap movie, Eric Roth, is the SAME Eric Wroth who wrote.........FOREST GUMP! Why BLATENTLY copy a previously successful formula and try to reacreate it thinking that nobody would mind. I do. Don't know about anyone else.

Now David Fincher is a great director. His lighting in his films for example is simply amazing. One of my favourite films of all time has got to be Fight Club, and Se7en is pretty high up the list as well. I just can't recognise the David Fincher of Fight Club and Se7en, from the David Fincher that made Benjamin "boring as hell" Button. Doesn't he know it in his bones that this is one god awful film? Even while he was making it? Didn't he get that feeling like, "Jesus this is really boring!" I would have packed up the film right there and then and walked off the set.

The plot (as simply as I can put it, I don't want to think about this movie too much): Benjamin Button is born, he looks about 90 years old, he's abandoned, he's adopted, he grows up different to the other kids blah blah, when he's old enough he leaves home to work on a trawler, sees the world, meets "interesting" characters, goes home to meet his childhood sweetheart, blah blah blah and there you have it folks: Forrest Gump......I mean Benjamin Button. My god this film sucks.

Another gripe I had with this film. And this is just for the sake of ranting: No one in the film pays much attention to the fact that.........THIS KID IS ABOUT 90 YEARS OLD! No one says "Wait a minute, something's fishy here......this kid is an old man!" They sort of acknowledge it but they just pass it off and say dumbass things like "Well he's just special...." or "Hey Benjamin, you look a bit different than you did a few years back. Oh well must be all that drink made my mind all wonky ha ha ha". God almighty, there's a scene where Daisy (Benjamin's child hood sweetheart) tries to make the argument that they can have a child and live happily ever after. Benjamin says "well, how would I look after him when I'm like 7 years old?", and she says something stupid like "the child will just love you for who you are" and "well why can't a blind man have a child?"

Another thing. When I think back over the movie I'm reminded of 2 thing: old people, and two incredilbly hot people having sex. Daisy is in her deathbed and asks her daughter to read Benjamins diary and that's how the story gets told. Something like Titanic, the old lady "thiiiis iis hooow it allll happpennneddd, IIIII'lll telll youuuu" cept It's the daughter reading a diary. Mind blowingly original. Every so often we leave the story and return to the present day and we gotta listen to this old lady again saying "reaaaaad thhhhhee booooook, reaad thhe boooook.....". AAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! SUDDENLY!!!!!!! Benjamin "grows" young, he meets his childhood sweetheart, they're both around the same age AND..........we get to see them having sex in incredibly exotic places!! On a yacht out in the ocean, on a beach, in thier apartment by the ocean. It just doesn't fit, and not in the charming way.

The lighting is great, ya so what this film SUCKS, it SUCKS. It tries to be thought provoking, an emotional rollercoaster, it's not. I don't even know what the point of the story was. What was it trying to say? What? I don't know! I don't care. Don't watch this film, for the love of god, DON'T WATCH THIS FILM!!! I'm gonna go mourn the fact that I wrote such a long, boring review for such a LONG AND BORING AS SHIT MOVIE!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is simply fantastic. For everything that was wrong with Kill Bill: Vol. 1, mainly the lack of great dialogue, Vol. 2 has in spadeful amounts. We still have the elements of asian cinema throughout, like the training of the Bride by Pai Mei, this wise old martial arts master. There's long action sequences, but they're GREAT to watch. The music, composed by Robert Rodriguez, reminds you of the old spagetti wetern musin of Ennio Morricone, simple amazing. I honestly preffered Robert Rodriguez's score to Rza's score of the first movie.

Let's go back to Pai Mei for a second. This dude is awesome. He teaches the Bride a trick called "The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique", the deadliest blow in all of martial arts. How freaking cool does that sound! He'll pluck your eye out if you give him a disdainful look. He hates "caucasins, americans, and especially women". He'll snap your neck and break you back in a second. I think he once killed 60 monks in a temple because one of them looked away while he nodded at them to say hello. One of the best characters I've seen of Tarantino's films.

We pick up where the last movie left off. The Bride has just finished off Vernita Green(The killing of Vernita Green happens at the start of Kill Bill: Vol. 1, but chronologically it happens after the killing of O-Ren). We meet another member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Budd, Bill's brother, played by Michael Madsen. He's given up his "swordplay", hawked hid old Hattori Hanzo sword, which was priceless, for $250, and now works as a bouncer in a "titty bar" and lives alone in a trailer out in the desert. Bill pays him a visit, telling him that The Bride is after them. Budd is the most sympathetic towards The Bride's revengful plan. "She deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die". The Bride is after Elle Driver, Budd and Bill and no one can do a damn thing to stop it. Revenge at it's glorious best.

All in all, this movie is a work of art. If you don't like the first movie, DO NOT dismiss the rest of it, or you will at your OWN PERIL!! Like I did. Enjoy the first as much as you can. You might not enjoy it all. But what's waiting in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is Quentin Tarantino at his absolute best. Fantastic dialogue, characters we get to know well, and better action sequences in my honest opinion. For those who have seen it think of Pai Mei and the fight with Elle Driver. The genius of it all shines through.

There is THE greatest speach made by Bill: "As you know, l'm quite keen on comic books.... I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman.... The mythology is not only great, it's unique"......"Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

I said in one of my earlier posts that I couldn't even watch Tarantino's Kill Bill movies. I thought that Kill Bill: Vol.1 was too flashy, too many homages etc. I just stopped it all right there. I never really gave Kill Bill: Vol. 2 a chance. Well I decided to give the series another crack, and that I was gonna try to enjoy the first movie from the get go. Have it in my mind that what I was watching was enjoyable. And I actually saw the movie in a different light when I took that approach. Most of it is really good when you just give it a chance.

It's not a Tarantino film that you're used to, his great dialogue for one is missing for most of the film, and we don't get the chance to really identify with the characters and get to know them. This is his action movie, he's throwing his hat in the ring with the other great action directors. The plot is simple: Bill (David Carradine) and his Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, made up of Budd(Michael Madsen), O'Ren Oshii(Lucy Liu), Vernita Green(Vivica A. Fox) and Elle Griver(Daryl Hannah) murder former Viper member The Bride(Uma Thurman) on her wedding day, along with the Bride's groom and friends. To make things worse The Bride was pregnant at the time. As Bill shoots her in the head, execution style, she lets him know that the baby is his. The Bride wakes up four years later, and plots bloody revenge on the people responsible. What follows is bloody mayhem.

The action scenes were ok. If I had more knowledge and greater awareness of Chinese Martial Arts cinema, or Japanese Samurai movies I might have apprectiated it more. I once started watching the legendary "Enter The Dragon" starring Bruce Lee and I had to switch it off. I just didn't "get" it. I knew there was something great in it, I just couldn't see it and appreciate it. Same goes for the Kill Bill: Vol. 1, but I went along this time. There's a great action piece with O-Ren Oshii's body gaurd, a 17-year-old psychopathic schoolgirl by the name of Gogo. Her weapon of choice is a Meteor hammer, an ancient Chinese weapon. It's basically a big metal ball with blades on a chain. The scene really makes you sit up in your seat and pay attention in anticipation of violent, well choreographed chaos.

Other parts of the action were too drawn out. The final battle between The Bride and O-Ren, the ex-assassin turned Yakuza boss, takes forever without much happening at all. The setting does look great though. What I liked best about the movie was Tarantino's enthusiasm for worldwide cinema, and how he brought all the elements together. There's spagetti westerns of Sergio Leone, Kung Fu movies, there was stuff in there that i just was not getting, but I could tell that Tarantino was having a great time making it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Batman: The Movie (1966)

This film is hilarious. There's nothing serious about it. Just pure entertainment. No real violence. Just a few wacky gadgets, great dialogue and crazy characters. No mental diorders, split personalities, repressed childhood anger, fixations with revenge. Just a guy and his friend who like to dress up in costumes and beat up bad guys. "OOOooohh the plot line is terrible". Who gives a damn.

Batman (Adam West) and Robin(Burt Ward) are called to an emergency situation out at sea. It's a hoax, and while The Caped Crusader and The Boy Wonder tangle with an exploding shark, Commodore Schmidlapp has been captured by the four deadliest super criminals on the planet: The Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman and the Joker. Batman and Robin's detective work is the best: Batman "Pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder" Gordon "You mean, where there's a fish, there could be a Penguin" Robin "But wait! It happened at sea! See? "C" for Catwoman!" Batman "Yet... an exploding shark was pulling my leg!" Gordon "The Joker!" O'Hara "It all adds up to a sinister riddle. Riddler?" Detective work at it's finest. I thought it was funny anyway.

I'm guessing this thinking back, but I think that they captured Commodore Schmidlapp to obtain some kind of new technology which they use to build a Dehydration Gun. The gun sucks all the fluid out of a person, turning the person into powder, and then they can rehydrate the person at will. The criminals plan on using this device to capture the heads of the United Nations, and ultimately take over the world. And of course it's down to the Dynamic Duo to save the day. I don't know bout anyone else but I think that is a GREAT plot.

Classic quotes: "Confound it....the batteries are dead!", "It was noble the way that animal threw itself infront of that torpedo to save our lives", "Bon voyage little pussy". Robin "Where's that elavator going" Batman "Downstairs obviously...", "Hand down the shark repellent Batspray", "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb"

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Batman Returns (1992)

Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito and Christopher Walken star in Batman Returns. The film has alot of qualities: great characters, great set design(I don't care about Danny DeVito knocking over the fake gravestone), great dialogue, and penguins with missiles strapped to their backs. It's the best of what I've seen of the current crop of remakes going back to Batman(1989). The original Batman with Adam West, made in 1966 i think, beats all other remakes hands down for me for shear entertainment, but Returns comes a close second.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is excellent. Sure the bit about how she becomes Catwoman is not that well thought out. She's pushed out of a building and falls to her death, cats lick her face and she comes back to life as a mean superbitch. Could happen. But i really liked the character. And the amazing outfit. She's after revenge. Kill Max Shrek. A "Die for a die" as she calls it. She's caught between two truths, two sides to her personality, the way way in which Bruce Wayne has diffulculty in reconsiling Batman and Himself. She'd like to be her old, bookish self again while at the same time she's hell bent on revenge.

I liked Michael Keaton's portrayal of the Dark Knight. Val Kilmner and Christain Bale don't come close in their attempts I think. Danny DeVito steals the show for me. You even forget the fact that it's him playing the role. He's hilarious in some scenes. "I'd like to show her my french flapping trick". After being pelted at a press conference: "Who brings tomatoes and eggs to a press conference?" He's thrown into the sewers as a baby because he was so ugly, he's raised by penguins, gains the public's affection, becomes mayor, public find out his evil plans, he returns to the sewers and decides to pay em all back by killing their first borns. What a character. Batman Returns is awesome.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I thought this film was very hit and miss. I liked the look and feel of the settings and I liked the idea of the story but i think Tim Burton's execution of the story wasn't that great.

The plot basically is: (1800s I think) Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) returns to London after serving time in prison in Australia for 15 years on a trumped up charge. Benjamin once was happily married to his wife Lucy, and she had just given birth to a child. A Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) was in love with Lucy and had Benjamin beaten and arrested for no reason, then sent to Australia. Judge takes Benjamin's wife and child. The wife gets poisoned and the child is kept against her will. Benjamin returns and finds out that his wife was murdered and vows to take revenge on the Judge. Benjamin was a barber once, he gets his old blades back and he plans on killing the judge with his little "friends" as he call them. He also changes his name to Sweeney Todd. Sounds friggin cool in theory. And if you add the ending to this the idea of this story is really good.

Do you like musicals? Would you sit through a musical slasher? It wouldn't be impossible to make one. The thing is that the story is really great and all, but i just really hated the damn singing. I've seen one or two musicals. By one or two I actually mean only two that I remember well. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" by Howard Hawks, and "West Side Story" by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Now these are classics, which might make comparing them to classics harsh. But if you want to make a good musical this is what you're up against and you've got to deliver, especially in this day and age where they aren't appreciated as much I think. I really liked the song and dance routines in these two movies. They were great to listen to, and they really contributed to the overall story in a meaningful way. In Sweeney Todd however, Helena Bonham Carter sings about her mince pies (no not her eyes) for about five minutes, without adding much to the story. I thought that about most of the songs.

The gory, slasher bits also went on for ages without much creativity. Sweeney misses the chance to kill the Judge and just decides to kill lots of people instead: the aristocrats for exploiting the poor, and the poor to relieve them of their misery. What a nice guy. Sweeney lures them into his barber shop and slits their throats then dumps their bodies in the basement for making lovely mince pies with. Nellie bakes them. The slashing just goes on for too long without much creativity.

I did like the settings though. His settings in most of his movies are very good. Johnny Depp is always good. Helena Bonham Carter was good. I loved her acting in Fight Club. The story is great in theory. The ending was fantastic. The singing just really pissed me off.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino's second film, released in 1994. One of my all time favourites, it's up there in my top three alongside Rio Bravo and Chinatown. It's simply amazing. I could try and go into detail about what techniques I think he is employing and so on, but I think it's just for the fact that it's so entertaining is the reason I love it. It's up there with the likes of Indiana Jones, Jaws, Terminator 2 and Rio Bravo for films that I come away with a buzz after watching.

To be honest, I wasn't all that crazy about Reservoir Dogs for some reason. To me it seems as though he knew how and what kind of movie to make that would sell, and get his foot in the door in the business, and he did it. I think he's got such an awareness of the industry that he knows exactly which buttons to press to make it work. And that's why I think he made this movie. He knew people would eat it up. It is a great movie, would trump most other Hollywood movies, but not my favourite Tarantino movie.

But back to Pulp Fiction. Samuel L. is fantastic. "I just figured it was some cold blooded shit to tell a nigger 'for I put a cap in his ass!" How great was his performance. They all talked about John Travolta's come back role of his career but Samuel L. Jackson was amazing. Ofcourse he had, and probably will never get better, dialogue written by a genius, but as Tarantino himself says "The S.L.J knows how to sing my dialogue". His delivery was impecable.

Not saying that John Travolta wasn't any good. He was superb. Just not as good as S.L.J for this particular movie. He was really cool, and laid back. He never got the rush of blood to the head when he had the chance to bang Mia Wallace, the Boss's wife. "You're gonna go back in there, have your drink, say goodbye, go home, jack off, and that's all you're gonna do". He was definatley tempted, but the story about Tony "Rocky Horror" would make anyone think twice. "Nigger fell four stories...kinda developed a speach impediment after that". That sucks for Tony. Another bit of the movie I was laughing at with Vincent was his run in with Butch, played by Bruce Willis. Butch: "You looking at something friend?" Vince: "You ain't my friend, palooka" Butch: "Whas that?" Vince: "I think you heard me just fine, punchy..." Like how did Tarantino develope such an ear for great dialogue.

The music in this film is one of the best things about it. Well really most things about the movie are brilliant: casting, script, camera work (love the homage to Sergio Leone with the closeups), editing, set design in Jack Rabbit Slim's. But I really friggin dig the music. There's Dick Dale and the Del Tones with the iconic "Misirlou". If you get a chance listen to "Banzai Washout" which is not on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, but it's fantastic. Dusty Springfeild's "Son of a Preacher Man". Every one knows that one. And much more you just have to check em out.

I hope he gets back to the form of Pulp Fiction soon. My second favourite of his films was actually "Inglorious Basterds" but he's not quite hitting the same mark. I couldn't even watch the Kill Bill movies. I don't know why: Too showy, too many homages, too stylistic, it just didn't do it for me at all. Same with Death Proof. Jackie Brown I thought was good. Watch Pulp Fiction!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rio Bravo (1959)

Rio Bravo is one of my favourite movies of all time. It's directed by Howard Hawks and released in 1959. After a few years in Europe, Hawks returned with this film in response to "High Noon" directed by Fred Zinnemann, a film in which the town sheriff spends most of his time running around lookin for help from the town's people in response to the conflict. Hawks turned that notion on it's head with a sheriff played by Wayne who accepts help from no one, and never asks for favours.

The casting is superb except for maybe Ricky Nelson who plays Colorado Ryan, but it was his debut nonetheless, and considering that he does quite well alongside the other seasoned actors such as John Wayne (John T. Chance) and Walter Brennan (Stumpy). The outstanding performance has to go to singer/actor Dean Martin for the portrayel of an ex sharp shooting dupty who's drivin to drink over a woman. As the story goes, Martin flew out from Las Vegas after a big show for the audition. Howard Hawks was so impressed with Dean Martin that he hired him right there on the spot playing the part of Dude, the town drunk or "Borachon" as the local mexicans like to call him.

I think I heard somewhere that on the first day of shooting, Martin came onto the set dressed in "nice lookin" clothes and started acting anything but drunk, Hawks said somethin like "what the fuck are you doin?", and told him to go get changed and rethink the way in which he was approaching his role. I guess Martin kinda fell right into his Las Vegas stage act but he came back onto the set with the "Dude" we see in the movie. Superbly friggin done. We even get to hear him sing with Ricky:

Angie Dickonson plays "Feathers". She's awsome. Like in another of my favourite Hawks movies "His Girl Friday" with Rosalind Russell's character, Feathers doesn't take shit from no one. The big gruff, super cool John Wayne fumbles his words and gets nervous around her. "You forgot your pants sheriff" is a classic quote. Three guys with guns point their guns at Chance and Colorado, right after knocking out Dude in a shed up the road, Feathers throws a flower pot through the window and all hell breaks loose.

The plot basically is: a guy (Joe Burdette) is arrested for murder. Joe's brother is the local cattle baron, who employs alot of men to do whatever he so pleases. Sheriff John T. Chance with the help of an old cripple, Stumpy (Walter Brennan), and the town drunk, Dude, are gonna hold this guy in a cell in the small town of Rio Bravo until the US Marshal arrives in about a week or so to take Joe. In the meantime, Nathan Burdette's men lay seige to the town and wait for their chance to rescue the good for nothin brother of Nathan. A stage coach arrives from Fort Worth. On this stage coach are Feathers, Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) and Pat Wheeler, played by John Wayne's buddy Ward Bond. You'll know Ward Bond as the Sheriff in "The Searchers". It's John Wayne, a cripple, a drunk, a girl, and a newer younger sharpshooter in Colorado against Nathan Burdette and about 30 of his men or more. An absolute classic.