Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hotel Chavalier


Everything is finally all caught up. Finally.

In other news....I had a very important meeting yesterday. I had to sign something promising that I would not write online or tell anyone what exactly it is, but I can say that something big is around the corner for me. Very big. I couldn't be happier and things are going to be very different for me starting next year.

The reason that I mention this is because I have this blog and the people who read it to thank for this good news and everything that is happening right now and going to happen soon

The Music Man (1962, Morton DeCosta)

I loved every single minute of this great musical. It's been on my "to watch" list ever since it made the first cut of the AFI top 100 list. It lived up to its reputation and I cant picture anyone hating this one. Every single musical number in this film is perfect also which is great because there are plenty in this one.

Thats it. Check it out if your a fan of musicals.

- A

Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky)

My mind is still blown by this one. The best sci fi film ever made? Yes.

I still cant stop thinking about this film and the more I think about it the more brilliant the film gets. This is my first film from Tarkovsky and the hype surrounding him lived up and if any of his other films are even half a good as this one, I can see why he is so loved.

That is all. Just go watch it. It will blow you away with its profound greatness.

- A+

Breakheart Pass (1975, Tom Gries)

Bronson plays a killer who is thrown into the middle of a mystery as he is being transported on a train to place where he will face his death. Given that this is a Bronson movie, it doesn't take long before hes running around on the train killing people and people are running around the train trying to kill him.

Thats really about it. It's a fun action film but its nothing too memorable and only features one truly great action sequence (the one in the poster). Most of the other action sequences are nothing too special and are only great to see because of Bronson's charisma.

- B

Little Children (2006, Todd Fields)




I still cant make up my mind over this one. I thought I would be able to by now but I still cant.

This was such a mix bag of a film for me. For ever 5 scenes that I really loved, there were 5 scenes that made me cringe.

Where to begin? The lead characters lack much depth and the few hints of depth that they have are cliched to the point where they just seem like any other character from any other film that deals with *DUN DUN DUN* the horrors lying underneath suburbia (!!). That's not to say that I wasn't invested with the characters. Wilson and Winslet do a great job with the material that they have and if it wasn't for their acting I don't think that I would have even cared for the characters or the film itself. The way their story is handled can be seen from a mile away and the "twists" that occur during their storyline are anything but twists. The conclusion/climax of the film where we finally get to the end of the film and their story is just ridiculous. To anyone who has seen the film - you know what I'm talking about.

That whole storyline didn't bother me too much. The acting really saved it along with some sparks of greatness. The part that really bothered me with the film is the pedophile subplot aka "The B story" because thats all it really turns out to be, a B story.

By this I mean that the pedophile storyline really doesn't even affect the main storyline about the relationship between Winslet and Wilson. Maybe it serves to point out the main theme of the film some more, but although its nice to say that a storyline furthers a film theme, its another thing for the storyline to have no purpose to the main plot. The way this whole story concludes is just "......." You are just left thinking why the film was 30 minutes longer if it was only going to end this storyline the way it does.

If you didn't already get it from the previous paragraphs - the conclusion to both storylines are lame. Very lame.

The other thing that I want to write about is the main thing that seems to divide people it seems, and that's the voice over narration. Sometimes I loved it, other times I didn't like it because it was just telling me everything that I was already seeing through the actors actions, and other times it was just so forced that it made me cringe. The perfect example of this being the football game sequence.

This whole write up may seem like I really disliked the film, but I really did not. I never thought it was slow and I don't think its a bad film at all. I just think that its not as great as it thinks it is and doesn't deliver any emotions to its audience to the point where the audience actually cares about whats happening. Instead, the film just leaves you feeling cold, distant, unattached, and mixed about your emotions.

I still don't know what I exactly thought of the film but for now it gets a B from me until I can maybe think about it some more or watch it again.

- B

The Straight Story (1999, David Lynch)

I didn't know what quite to expect from this one. This is mainly because it holds the creepiest title ever on a dvd cover...

"Walt Disney presents a film by David Lynch"

I was expecting a very watered down version of Lynch to the point where you couldn't even tell that it was Lynch behind the camera. All of my doubts where put to rest after the first scene. Lynch makes his mark known from the first second when the film begins with a great crane shot that lasts about 5 minutes and sets up the basic mood for the film.

From then on Lynch delivers a film which is so simple that it is really hard not to like. Thats not to say that the film is not "Lynchian" The famous atmosphere that Lynch has been able to make his trademark is evident here. He uses music, sound design, and simple but yet great cinematography to tell this story that sometimes even becomes tempted to go into the surreal world that Lynch is known for. The key moment of this being Straight's encounter with a woman who is hysterical because she always hits deer on her way home.

There is also the trademark Lynch fire and eerie glows as well. Of course.

The Straight Story is a very simple yet profound film. Although there are few scenes of dialogue, every single world is believable and feels heartfelt from the actors. The climax of the film is also simple yet heartbreaking in such a great way that one has to admire Lynch for keeping it as simple as it is.

- A-

Murder by Death (1976, Robert Moore)

i bumped into this film after watching Clue. After I read the synopsis and read that it was written by Neil Simon, It wasn't long before I put it at the top of my queue and waited for it to arrive. The film did not disappoint and it is a must watch for anyone who has seen a film from the Thin Man series, seen an Agatha Christie adaptation, or knows who Sam Spade or Charlie Chan are.

What Neil Simon does in this one is a simple but fun premise. He takes all of these detectives, who have been made famous through all of their films, and throws them into a dinner party, that is hosted by Truman Capote (yes...the Truman Capote) where they must solve a murder case through the course of the night to see who is the best detective of them all.

Of course, the comedy is over the top and silly, but it is always hilarious. Everyone goes all out with their characters from Peter Sellers as Charlie Chan to Peter Falk as Sam Spade. Seeing all of these actors play off from eachother in this premise is a lot of fun and has at least one hilarious moment every 10 minutes.

The only problem is that while the film is always silly, it becomes a little bit too much for its own good towards the end. The twist, although funny, is too over the top to the point where it makes you feel that you have been cheated out of a great conclusion that would leave you laughing given the great build up to it.

Still, if you take away the final 10 minutes you are left with 80 minutes of great comedy. I loved it so much that I saw it twice before I returned it and I cant wait to buy it.

- A-

Time for some more updates that will lead into big news (for me)


Monday, September 24, 2007

No More updates for now

As if some of you care....I'll post some more later on since I have to go to work now.

The Naked Kiss (1964, Samuel Fuller)

This is the third film that I have seen from Samuel Fuller and I am once again completely blown away by him. I can now see why so many directors have named him as an influence and why he is considered to be ahead of his time.

The Naked Kiss is an odd one to write about. Is it camp? Is it trashy? Is it noir? Is it pulp? Is is melodrama? It's been a couple of days since I have seen it and I still don't know. It's all of the above and much more.

The Naked Kiss starts off with this great scene...


After this scene the film picks up a couple of years later where the prostitute in that intro is trying to live a normal life in a nice little town. It doesn't take long before she starts to find out that everything is not as perfect as it seems. If this wasn't enough, the film then spirals into a nightmarish murder mystery that touches on pedophilia in a way that disturbs and haunts more than it scandalizes and exploits. The scene where this all comes together is one of the most memorable and eerie things I have ever seen in a film.

The entire film is something to be in awe of. It's truly a one of a kind film that is in its own odd genre which doesn't even exist. The film is just in the dark world of Samuel Fuller. It's the kind of world that can only be captured and exist on film.

Check this one out if you are a fan of Blue Velvet. I can see why there are so many comparisons between the two film. They would serve as a great double feature of a nightmarish view of the suburbs.

- A

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1987,Donald G. Jackson & R.J. Kizer)

I'm just going to copy paste the plot outline for this one because its just too good.

"'Hell' is the name of the hero of the story. He's a prisoner of the women who now run the USA after a nuclear/biological war. Results of the war are that mutants have evolved, and the human race is in danger of extinction due to infertility. Hell is given the task of helping in the rescue of a group of fertile women from the harem of the mutant leader (resembling a frog). Hell cannot escape since he has a bomb attached to his private parts which will detonate if he strays more than a few hundred yards from his guard."

Given this plot, I was expecting something that was "so bad it's good", but instead got a film that knew it was silly, and had as much fun as possible with its premise. It has a lot fun and the fun over comes the flaws, which are many. But then again how can someone not expect something liek this to be flawed?

I just wanted a film like this to be as fun as possible and this one delivered with its cartoonish over the top style and non stop antics. It left me smiling a lot of the time, and thats all I wanted from it.

- B

Clue (1985, Jonathan Lynn)

There is not much to say about this film other than it's often hilarious, dark, and flies right by because it's a lot of fun.

I can see why it has achieved a cult status and the quotes that you can do with this one among friends is endless.

A lot of fun. That's about it.

- B+

P.S. - Tim Curry rocks the box in this one.

Miracle Mile (1988, Steve de Jarnatt)

I finally decided to check this one out after having this film recommended to me various times.I wish I could have seen it a lot sooner because it is a GREAT film despite its little flaws.

All you have to do is read the tag line on the poster to know what your getting into. "There are 70 minutes to the end of the world. Where can you hide?" The tag line of the film does not disappoint and after a 20 minute introduction to the characters we are thrust into this manic world where the world might or might not be ending in 70 minutes.

The "joy" then comes from seeing what the lead character will do for those 70 minutes as he tries to save a girl he just met, escape from LA, and find a helicopter pilot. Of course even hes not sure if the world will end or not. We are also not sure of this and as every minute passes, and things become more crazier, we are still not sure what will happen. This simple aspect and gimmick to the film works perfectly and the final 20 minutes of the film contain some of the most intense sequences that I have seen in a film ..

Some people might laugh at the film. They will call it stupid or laugh at how the films is a prime example of the fashion and times of the 80's. But if you are able to get past the leg warmers and mullets then you will find a heartbreaking and often intense film that truly feels like an adventure.

- A

The Tales of Hoffmann (1951, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)

A beautiful film.

The colors, sights, and sounds that this film has to offer are once again one of a kind and everything that I expected from The Archers doing a ballet opera. I only wish that I could have loved some segments from this film as much as I did others.

However, there some moments in this film that will stick with you for a long time. I also expect the film to grow on my with some more viewings.

- B+

Mon Oncle (1958, Jacques Tati)

This one followed Play Time and it was also a very fun watch to see in a theater. However, I own and have watched this film before, and the same problems that I have always had with it seem even more bigger on the big screen. It also doesn't help that it had to follow Play Time.

The problem that I have with Mon Oncle is that I have always felt that it is slow at times. I'm not saying that is too slow but compared to M. Hulot's Holiday (and now Play Time) the pacing in this one is a lot different. Also, instead of having many small gags leading up to a big set piece, we are mainly just treated to a number of set pieces that take a lot of time.

But when the film picks up and finds its place, it is once again another showcase of Tati's highly imaginative and hilarious gags. The satire in this one is also another aspect to admire and also serves to show how great Tati really was.

- A-

Play Time (1967, Jacques Tati)

I was lucky enough that my first viewing of this film was in the theater. I have long heard of how brilliant,genius, and amazing this film was. I have long held off from viewing it because I was hoping that I would one day be able to see the new Janus/criterion print on the big screen since a couple of theaters around here have shown it in the past couple of years.

The wait was worth it and seeing Tati's elaborate sight gags on 70mm and on the big screen was just glorious. I even fear that watching it now on a normal tv will not do the film justice. Plus. the atmosphere of people laughing along with you added a lot to the fun of the film.

Tati's film is layered with gags to the point where there will be 3 gags going on in the same time, if not more. The gags also almost never stop and while there is no "main story" Tati's biting satire on the future is spot on and is always hilarious to see how his M. Hulot character goes from one scenario to another causing mayhem in this surreal universe where giant buildings of glass are the only things that seem to exist around the world.

I really just loved this film. I can not praise it enough. It is easily one of the best films I have ever seen and with only one viewing it has entered my top 20. It really is a masterpiece on every single level.

While reading up on the film I found this quote by Truffaut that perfectly sums up the film:

"a film that comes from another planet, where they make films differently"

- A+

WAyu Behind...Again..

I'm way behind once again.

I now have 9 write ups to do.

They will be short.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Julius Caesar (1953, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

An already great adaptation of Julius Caesar to the screen becomes memorable because of the performance of a young Brando as Mark Anthony. Sometimes I really forget of just why Brando is considered by many to be the greatest actor of all time. I never put him in any of my "favorite actors" list but sometimes when TCM is showing On the Waterfront or Streetcar Named Desire , I once again remember why he is loved so much.

As I was watching Julius Caesar I was waiting for Brando to show up and see if he could live up to the hype once again. It doesn't take too long before he shows up and once he does he destroys the film. He makes the film suddenly become very intense and every single eye movement and line of dialogue is just great to watch. It didn't take long before I was remembered, once again, of why Brando is so loved. This is good enough proof of the talent and presence the man brought at the time. It's also a fun bonus to see him doing Shakespeare.

Brando isn't the only thing that's good about the film, though. James Mason's performance as Brutus is almost just as great and he too helps out in the making the film memorable. When both of the actors share screen time it is a real treat to see. It's worth watching just for this alone.

- B+

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985 , William Friedkin)

What could have been a by the numbers cliched cop drama from the 80's is actually a little gem of a film. Due to Friedkin's eye for action, the film turns into a gritty and often brutal film that plays with the cliches of the genre. There are certain twists and character developments which also make this stand out from the genre. On top of all of this what really sets this one apart and makes this one a great one to find is the impressive chase scene which happens in the second half of the film. It is easily one of the best I have seen so far and it easily tops the famous car chase seen in Friedkin's previous cop film, The French Connection.

If you are able to watch this one on its own merits and not compare it to The French Connection then you are sure to find a very entertaining action film that deserves more love.

Plus, Willem Dafoe chews up every scene that he is in as the bad guy.

- B+

The Heartbreak Kid (1972, Elaine May)

This is a very dark comedy about a newly wed falling in love on his honeymoon was a big surprise to me. I would have not expected such a dark and mean spirited story from a film that seems to be just a romantic screwball comedy on the surface. Instead, in this film characters suffer for their consequences and everything is grounded in reality. Unlike most comedies where characters seem to say just the right thing at the right time, The Heartbreak Kid presents characters who sometimes just don't know what to say at certain times. We are instead presented with awkward and uncomfortable scenes comedy which in turn become more hilarious and charming because it gives the sense of truly being grounded in this sad reality where characters like this exist. It is a charm to see the kind of humor that would only become popular 30 years later.

The other main thing worth pointing out is Charles Grodin's outstanding performance as the newly wed. Any other actor might have made the character seem like a self centered asshole but Grodin is able to make the character into a guy we truly feel bad for. Sure, he is still a jerk, but we at least understand his actions. Whats more impressive is that Grodin does all of this with in his subtle body movements through out the film.

Instead of being a comedy of errors, The Heartbreak Kid becomes a comedy of consequences. There is no redemption, there is no uplifting charm, there isn't even hope for a great future. It really is as dark as they come. Even in the final scene of the film which ends in a very artistic and unique way the audience is left thinking of what will really become of these characters. It really is one of my new favorite scenes and it is perfectly executed with just some silence and great acting.

Now I cant wait to see how the Farrelly Brothers will screw it all up. Just judging by the trailer they will most likely make the character funny and charming and take away the dark nature of it all. Which in turn will just be taking away what makes this film stand out to other romantic comedies. It will be a shame but I cant say that I will be surprised.

- A

Really Quick Update

In the past 5 days i have seen 8 films. I have failed to write about any of them but I will do so now.

Of course, all of these entries will be very brief.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kalifornia (1993, Dominic Sena)

Once in awhile there is a performance that is so fun to see that you can just tell that the actor playing the role is having a fun time being in character. Kalifornia is a perfect example of this with Pitts insane performance as a redneck serial killer.

In the film Pitt plays the serial killer who by chance goes on a road trip with a writer who is writing a book about serial killers meanwhile taking a road trip to California. It doesn't take long before the tension begins to rise and dead bodies begin to appear.

I didn't know what quite to expect from this one. I was expecting a normal by the numbers thriller but instead got a brutal,intense, and sometimes humorous movie that can easily be compared to Natural Born Killers. Although, I actually preferred this one by a long shot. Simply because this one actually chose to not get too serious and pretentious and instead chooses to stay within in its genre and deliver what it set out to be...a great genre film.

The only problem I had with the film is the use of voice over that comes and goes at random points in the film. Its not annoying or pointless, it just eliminates any subtlety the film has going for it at times and it often pulled me out of the film. The voice over on top of this is also the weakest written part in the entire film. We get lines that just don't connect and often times i though the lines in the voice over were trying too hard to be profound. It wasn't that big of a problem since it only pops out every now and then.

The real highlight of the film is easily Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis in their roles. Each actor brings so much to the film that they really elevate it to much more than just a normal little thriller. Pitt brings the intensity meanwhile Lewis brings the heart to the film. When they share scenes in the film the chemistry is also fun to watch. Their performances makes this film a must watch.

A great little film that somehow seems to have gotten lost in time. It's a shame because it features one of Brad Pitt's best performances.

- B+

Eddie and The Cruisers (1983, Martin Davidson)

I have always known about this film. Its always been at every single video store that I have ever been to. I have always not rented it though or even though about renting it.

Eddie and the Cruisers is a pleasant surprise of a film. The film deals with a news reporter trying to write a piece on a band that has suddenly become back in style after many years of being forgotten after the lead singer was thought to have died after a car accident. The thing is that his body was never found. So, this news reporter to sets out to find out if he ever died at all.

The film is then told through flashbacks as we slowly start to know what caused the rise and fall of the band. We get the cliched scenes of the band practicing a song, making the song a hit, touring, and then fighting with each other. As cliched as this all might be it is still delivered with a lot of energy and the whole cast is great in their roles. The musical scenes are also great, which is why the film really does work.

The film also has the core mystery of "Is Eddie alive?" which is also a nice little touch that at first is a little bit laughable and then actually becomes intriguing. The only thing that makes the film feel odd in its last couple of minutes is that the story becomes a thriller all of a sudden. It comes out of nowhere and feels very out of place with the overall story of the film. There is also a scene towards the end with Eddie that is also very out of place. Luckily these scenes dont last too long.

The film may have its flaws and shortcomings but in the end its a fun 90 minute film that seems to end too soon. I mean this in a very good way.

- B+

Friday, September 7, 2007

Killing Zoe (1994, Roger Avery)

"Zed is an American safe expert who gets involved in a bank robbery which is only bound to go wrong"

I was hoping to find a great misunderstood film with this one. I am a big fan of Roger Avery's Rules of Attraction and part of me hoped that this one would be just as great. It kind of is but it's kind of not. It is just one of the most uneven films I have ever stumbled upon.

Killing Zoe seems to be broken up into 3 segments of storytelling. I will now write about each segment just to give an idea of how uneven the film is.

The hero falls in love with a prostitute - The film starts stylishly enough with Zed going into a cab. Immediately the dialogue is crisp and seems to fit the style of the film well. Then 10 minutes later he is already laying down in a bed with a prostitute and having conversations which seem too forced to even sound cool or hip. She,of course, already loves him from the get go. This whole rushed intro to the film seems to want to establish this cinematic world as a pulpy gritty world but it doesn't do so because everything feels rushed and forced. Then all of a sudden...

The hero meets his friend and parties- This is the segment of the film which just destroyed everything for me. Our hero Zed meets up with his friend, they talk about the robbery for about 4 minutes, and then they go on a drug binge. The drug binge sequence lasts about 20 minutes and it does absolutely nothing at all to the story or to its characters. It is literally just 20 minutes of a group of low life thugs smoking heroin, going to bars, and then talking about nonsense.

The hero & the bank robbery - Now this is where the film shines. Finally after a mediocre beginning and a horrible mid section, the film picks up. This whole bank heist sequence and the way it all goes down is very stylish, tense, and exciting. It just doesn't stay that way too long before it just all turns into a excuse for a bloody shoot out.

In the end all of these 3 segments of the film just don't match up just right. When the film finally settles down and tries to deliver it becomes pretty good. The problem is that it does it with little excitement behind everything and anything. The bad guys become screaming caricatures and the conclusion is a little bit too crazy for its own good.

The only thing worth really praising about the film is Eric Stoltz performance. He delivers a very subtle and charismatic performance that deserved a much better movie.

As it stands Killing Zoe is not a bad movie at all. It's entertaining at times and never really has a moment that makes it feel slow. It's main flaw is that it all feels uneven and rushed.

- C

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Time After Time (1979, Nicholas Meyer)

"H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to the 20th Century when the serial murderer uses the future writer's time machine to escape his time period."

One of the greatest plot outlines. Ever. On top of this, Malcom McDowell plays H.G. Wells. Awesome.

This is another great find of a film that I also found by "digging for films" I read the plot outline and immediately moved it to the top of my queue. This film did not disappoint at all.

I don't even know what to write about this film. Everything that you might expect from the film is here. Its a twisty stylish thriller that is always suspenseful but always fun given the time travel aspect of it all.

The only thing that stops me from giving it an A is that the film does a have a very underwhelming ending after what is a great set up that lasts 2 hours. The way things get resolved does make you go "that's it?" for a split second when it occurs. I will also forgive the leaps in logic this one takes simply due to the fact that I have yet to see a film that deals with time travel that doesn't fall into this flaw. Well, maybe Primer doesn't but thats a whole other case.

Time After Time is a very fun film though. It's worth a watch if you haven't seen it and it is impossible to not be entertained by the originality of it all.

- A-

7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964, George Pal)

"A mysterious circus comes to a western town bearing wonders and characters that entertain the inhabitants and teach valuable lessons."

This is easily one of the best find I have ever found while "digging for films" This one is a truly odd, quirky, fun, and fantastic find of a film.

The plot is simple: A Chinese man comes to a small town with his mysterious circus (as the plot outline already stated up there)

But there is one huge thing the plot outline from IMDB fails to mention....

This chinese man and his mysterious circus is the home of 7 odd "creatures". All 7 of these creatures are played by Tony Randall in an excellent performance. In this film he plays...

- Dr Lao
- Merlin
- Pan (from a Midsummer Nights Dream fame)
- Abominable Snowman
- Medusa
- A Giant Serpent
- Apollonius of Tyana

You have Tony Randall playing all of these characters with some excellent make up to help out his different performances for each character. On top of this you have some stop motion animation to showcase the big effect scenes.

Plus..once again...he plays Merlin/Medusa/the Abominable Snowman/AND a Giant Serpent (!!!!) I may sound immature but thats just kick ass.

The film might be a bit dated but the heart and message of the film are still there. Some people tend to get bored by these old fantasy/sci films but I love them. I especially liked this one because I thought the overall story and approach to the film was very original and on top of that told a very nice message that will never get old.

If you are into these kind of older films or if you know who George Pal is, then this one might be up your alley.

I know I really enjoyed myself during it.

- A-

S.P.L.: Sha po Lang aka Kill Zone (2005, Wilson Yip)

"A detective on his way out and a detective on his way in team up to take down an evil crime lord"

First of all I hate this dvd cover and the title that the Weinsteins decided to rename it.

S.P.L. is nothing new at all. It tells a cliched HK action story and does little to nothing in trying to add something original to it for the most part. How it all ends and comes to a conclusion might be the only spark of originality.

But that's not the point here. When I rent a HK action film I am expecting a great action film. S.P.L. is not a great action film though. It's just a mediocre film that has some amazing action sequences.

I normally wouldn't have a problem sitting through a tired and cliched cop drama when I know that I am going to get a great pay off of action. The thing though that made this worse than a cliched cop drama is the direction behind the cop drama. It is horrible. Plain and simple.

We get Tony Scott edits, split screens, shutter effects, slow mo, and even parts where the frame just turns all to one color. I really don't know why all these effects are used. I guess I could understand if this were to all happen during action scenes but all these editing tricks happen during normal dramatic scenes. They do absolutely nothing but annoy you.

However, when the action finally comes for the last hour it is glorious. The fight scenes are tough,brutal, and stylish without ever being pretentious. The final fight scene between Sammo Hung and Donnie Yen is also very memorable and ends the film is a great explosive way.

S.P.L. is a great way to kill an hour and a half. It would have been great if the first hour was as great as the later half. Its sadly not and only serves to bring the films quality down.

First half of the film: C-
Second half of the film: A-


- B

The King of Kong (2007, Seth Gordon)

"A documentary about Steve Wiebe who sets out to break the world record of Donkey Kong. A record that was set by Billy Mitchell in the 80s who also refuses to let his record be beat."

This documentary is perfect. It is easily one of the best films of the year and one of the best documentaries that I have yet to see. I say all of this because I truly mean it and not because I am jumping on the love bandwagon and hyping it along with the rest of the people who have seen it. It really is great.

The story is tells is unbelievable. It tells one of the greatest good vs evil stories that I have ever seen captured on film. Steve Wiebe, who represents the good in this case, is the classic example of an underdog. He really is such a tragic hero that you just feel like cheering him on as soon as you hear about what has happened to him during his life and get to know his wife, who gives the film a lot of heart.

However, this is not Wiebes movie. Not at all. This is Billy Micthells film all the way.

This is the biggest dick/douche/jerk/asshole ever captured in film. I am not kidding at all.

When you get Billy Mitchell's amazing personality against Steve Wiebes underdog personality, you get pure cinematic magic. I once again am not kidding or over exaggerating at all.

Describing any scenes would spoil a lot of the excitement and hilarity of the film. It's a great fun watch that delivers more hilarious moments, outstanding characters, and truly tense moments than most films do.

I have never had so much fun hating a person in a film than I have had with Billy Mitchell.

- A

The TV Set (2006, Jake Kasdan)

"The story of a TV pilot as it goes through the Network TV process of casting, production and finally airing."

This might be one of the hardest opinions of a film that I have tried to write out. Why? I just don't have all.

The TV Set is a good movie. Its not great,its not bad, its nor really good. It's just good.

It just doesn't have a very memorable storyline or characters. It doesn't leave you feeling much. It doesn't have any big laughs or any emotional moments. It also doesn't have any great performances.

It's just....there. It entertains enough for 90 minutes. The satire is cynical and fun for the first couple of minutes but that also just goes from great satire to just ok satire to just over the top satire. Some characters don't connect just right and others fail to connect to the audience at all.

I cant bad mouth the film but I also cant praise it for anything. Its just "ok"

- B-

Lenny (1974, Bob Fosse)

"The story of acerbic 1960s comic Lenny Bruce, whose groundbreaking, no-holds-barred style and social commentary was often deemed by the Establishment as too obscene for the public"

Bob Fosse delivers another film that left me stunned. Everything is once again done in such a masterful way that he is slowly creeping up on my "favorite directors" list if I were to have one.

You get a sense while watching his movies that there is truly an artist behind the camera. Maybe it's because of his background as a choreographer but Fosse's direction is something else. He seems to understand the rhythm of film and expresses this understanding through his editing. Cabaret, All That Jazz, Star 80, and now Lenny are some of the best edited films that I have ever seen. The one thing that makes the editing in all of these films stand out is the way Fosse chooses to use his edit to tell his story or to give a simple sense of emotion.

For example in Lenny he edits back and forth between Lenny Bruce doing his stand up act later on in his career to him starting out and getting famous. By this I mean that every joke in the future stand up act begins a new chapter in the films storyline. This is once again really hard to explain but it works perfectly when you see it.

This is just one of the many reasons why I loved Lenny. The performances, nice use of black and white photography, and excellent direction all add up to tell a very inner and powerful character study of a man who was too ahead of his time.

Great film that deserves more fans for sure.

- A

Catching up

I have to catch up with my more recent viewings. So, I am going to just rush through the next couple of write ups.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Simpsons Movie (2007, David Silverman)

There is not much to write about this one. Part of me is sad that I wasn't able to watch this one in the first couple of days it came out, but the wait was worth it.

Thats about it.

- B+

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Break for now

it is once again hot in my room, I haven't slept, and I am just tired.

I still have 3 more write ups to do but they can wait for now.

The Lives of Others (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

I am not even going to copy past the plot summary for this one from IMDB or even write my own plot synopsis for it.

Every once in awhile there is a movie so good, so perfect, so entertaining that I really just think that the less someone knows about it going in, the better the experience of watching it is going to be like.

I had this experience with The Lives of Others. I really didn't know much about the film but jsut heard that everyone seemed to love it to death who had seen it. So, I saw it at my video store and rented it. i didnt read the back cover and just watched it and waited to see what all the fuss was about.

There comes a point in this film where I just felt "wow. I am watching something amazing right now" and this came to me in the first 30 minutes of the film. Everything that followed was far better that I could have imagined it to be. It really is a perfect film and a very entertaining watch which contains some of the most memorable scenes from the past couple of years.

I really did love the hell out of this one. Even though the film has a lengthy running time I was never bored. I was always entertained by what I saw and I was always admiring every bit of it from the direction, the script, the cinematography, the sets, to the amazing subtle acting from the cast. It's just all so damn good. It's also a major plus knowing that this all came from a first time director. I have strong faith that this director will be a big name to look out for in the future.

Watch it and be wowed by it as well as everyone else has been. You will just feel like recommending it everyone you know who will be open to a film with subtitles and has a little bit of patience.

It is without a doubt one of the best films from last year.

- A+

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978, Irvin Kershner)

"Suddenly Laura Mars can see through the eyes of a serial killer as he commits his crimes. She contacts the police and with the aid of a police detective, tries to stop the killer. But first, they have to figure out who it is."

I don't know why but the cover of this film has always interested me for years. It just seemed like it might turn out to be some kind of hidden gem of a film. So, I finally decided to check it out and see what it might be like.

It's directed by the man who would go on to do Empire Strikes Back as his follow up film to this. It has a story and screenplay by John Carpenter. Plus, it has Tommy Lee Jones, Faye Dunaway, and Brad Dourif in the cast. This has all the ingredients for a great film that maybe time has forgotten about.

All these ingredients, though, only serve to make a very disappointing film.

The film starts off great,keeps on going great, becomes excellent, and then turns extremely bad and lame in the last minutes of a film.

Normally I would say "The whole film is great except for the last couple of minutes" but given that this is a thriller with a mystery as its main story point, the whole whole film relies on the final twist. This is the point of a mystery film, you just wait for the final pay off that simply just solves the mystery which will end the film. It really is that simple most of the time.

The problem with The Eyes of Laura Mars is that the twist is cringe worthy bad. It is horrible. It is lame. It makes the whole film seem stupid and pointless. It is simple horrible. So horrible that it ruins everything that the film had going for it, which was a lot. The leaps of logic it takes are amazing in their own awful way.

This is just a big disappointment of a film and even more so when you are almost done watching it and you are convinced that you are about to finish watching a great movie. I have never seen an ending affect a films overall quality so much.

- C

Hot Fuzz (2007, Edgar Wright)

"Jealous colleagues conspire to get a top London cop transferred to a small town and paired with a witless new partner. On the beat, the pair stumble upon a series of suspicious accidents and events."

Hilarious. Action Packed. Awesome.

That is all.

- A-

Star 80 (1983, Bob Fosse)

"The murder of Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten by her husband Paul Snider"

As soon as the final credits rolled for this film I was left in awe. How come I had never ever seen this film talked about and how come I had never bumped into it until now? It really is that good.

Bob Fosse's final film is about the rise to fame of Dorothy Stratten and then the shocking murder which was committed by her husband/manager, Paul Snider. I thought this would be a by the numbers tv movie of the week kind of film who's only purpose seems to glamorize the victim so that we sympathize with her until the shocking murder occurs and then we are meant to be left in tears over how sad it all was because she so beautiful.

I was very wrong and I should have known given that Bob Fosse was behind the camera. Fosse could have done a by the numbers film and could have gotten off easy by just portraying a sad story. I guess he knew this too and decided to go the artistic route instead.

The film, instead of being told through Stratten's perspective, is all told through her husband/managers/soon to be killers perspective. We are really with him through out the whole film as we seen his relationship with Stratten begin and end. Its this approach to the narrative that really does make the picture a thrilling and amazing film to watch.

It's as if Bob Fosse knew it would be too easy to create sympathy for Dorothy Stratten and instead chose to create a form of sympathy towards her murderer which is never really there. By this I mean that we really do not sympathize with him but we sort of get to understand him and sort of shake our heads at the outcome of it all. It all adds up to an interesting watch.

Other than this approach to the film we are also juxtaposed to a press interview with Stratten, as well as a interview with her mother that push along the storyline. Its a little bit hard to describe but it works perfectly for the film.

If I could write about one more thing about this film it would be about Eric Roberts performance in the film as Paul Snyder. He does a phenomenal job in the role and delivers what is easily one of my favorite performances of all time. He is so sleazy,charming,intense,cocky, and insecure at the same time during this film that you are easily wowed by his performance within the first 20 minutes. How he was not even nominated for an academy award for this amazes me. It really does go into my "top 20 favorite performances of all time" list if I were to ever make one. His performance is reason alone for anyone to seek out this film.

This is really a very hard one to write about because it is one of those films that you want to talk with people about. The film really does tell a powerful story and on top of that does it with some powerful filmmaking.

A true gem of a find that needs a better DVD release sometime soon.

- A+

The Wanderers (1979, Philip Kaufman)

"Set against the urban jungle of 1963 New York's gangland subculture, this coming of age teenage movie is set around the Italian gang the Wanderers"

I first heard about this movie about 4 years ago when I mentioned to an older film buff friend of mine that I had just seen The Warriors. He said "yeah, it's really great but you should check out The Wanderers" I then added that movie to my netflix queue but never got around to it. About an year the same friend made a podcast where the topic was "underseen films". In this podcast he once again picked out The Wanderers and again talked about how he preferred it over
The Warriors.

Finally, one year later after another friend of mine reminded me about this film by placing it on his "underseen and underrated" film list I decided to finally bump it up on my queue to number and one and see how it could hold its own against the much loved The Warriors.

The worst thing anyone can do is compare this film to The Warriors and I have no idea why people always do so. This is not only a different kind of film but it is also a far better film that the fun that is The Warriors.

The comparison I think mainly comes because both films feature rival gangs and both have a slight surrealistic touch to them. The only difference is that The Warriors relishes its surrealistic setting while The Wanderers grounds it all in some very realistic settings which sort of crosses out whatever surrealistic elements it might contain in its cast of colorful characters.

Wanderers takes a premise we have seen over and and over again, the coming of age story. We all expect these kind of films to hit the same kind of notes and we just wish and hope that they are able to hit them well. However, in the case with this film it does all of this while a constant feel of doom is always in the back of your head. That is if you know history.

The setting of the film in 1963 is what sells the movie to me and made me really appreciate and love every single minute. For those who know a little bit about history this is supposed to be the year the innocence of America died. The year that brought on an assassination of a president, the birth of a revolution that was about to sweep the nation, and the impending doom of Vietnam.

All the characters in the film are living in these months leading up to everything that will happen soon enough at the end of year. They are still stuck in the last tiny bits of innocence that exists still and they are enjoying their teen life. All of these scenes as fun as they might be have a feeling of sadness to it all because you just know what is going to happen and once the film catches up with the later part of 1963 and certain events come into play, you cant help but feel uncertain about the characters lives as they are now introduced to this post-innocent world of theirs.

The film is at its best when it hits these emotional scenes. The last half of the film has so much heart and sweetness to it that everything that came before it seems like a sad joyful memory to its viewer, as it probably all seems the same to the characters. It really is some great stuff if you are able to lose yourself in the film and have fun with it.

The other two things worth mentioning are the soundtrack, which although contains every type of song you would imagine a film set in this era to have, is able to still use its music cues in some very fun and emotional ways.

The other thing worth pointing out is the brilliant final 15 minutes of the film. Although the ending can be predicted, Kaufman is still able to inject so much heartfelt moments that it will stick with you for some time. The final message and resolution to the film is not a new one,but it is still a powerful one.

The Wanderers is a brilliant little gem of a film that seems to have gotten a little bit lost in time and only seems to pop up when it is being compared to The Warriors. Its a real shame because it far more than a "gang film" and it contains far more memorable scenes and characters that most films do.

Don't do the same mistake I did and hold off from watching it. This is a really great film that deserves some more love.

- A+