My goal is to post movie trivia, information, and thoughts on this page. It will basically be everything else besides single movie recommendations and reviews because those will be solely on my blog. However, two or more movie recommendations will be on this page. Don’t ask me why. It just is, okay.
November 15, 2018: 10 Random Movies from My Collection
Nine (2009) is a musical drama about an egotistical Italian film director who tries to find balance with his personal and professional lives. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Guido Contini with Sophia Loren as his Mamma.
The Great White Hype (1996) is a sports comedy about two boxers, one retired from the ring and one in the best shape of his life, that come together for the big fight. Damon Wayans and Peter Berg play the fighters. Samuel L. Jackson plays the promoter.
The Good Girl (2002) is a drama about a store clerk who has an affair with a stock boy who thinks he’s Holden Caulfield from A Catcher in the Rye. Jennifer Aniston plays the bored wife, John C. Reilly as her husband, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the boy.
Machete (2010) is an action thriller about man who has been set up during an assassination. With help from his brother, he gets his revenge. Danny Trejo plays Machete and Cheech Marin plays his priest brother.
Rat (2000) is a comedy drama about a family man, Hubert Flynn, turning into a rat. His family has different plans for him, but it’s clear this can’t go on forever. Pete Postlethwaite is Flynn and Imelda Staunton is his wife.
I Shot Andy Warhol? (1996) is a biography drama about the true story of Valerie Solanas who shot Andy Warhol after he ignored her requests to have her script made into a film. Lili Taylor plays Solanas and Jared Harris plays Andy Warhol.
Undertow (2004) is a drama thriller about a father and his two sons who are forced to move to a farm in rural Georgia after his wife dies. He reestablishes a relationship with his own brother. Dermot Mulroney plays John Munn and Jamie Bell and Devon Alan play his sons. Josh Lucas plays Deel Munn.
Casa de mi Padre (2012) is comedy western about a man, Armando Alvarez, who works on his father’s ranch and with the help of his brother hopes to bring it out of debt. The problem is that Alvarez falls in love with Sonia and becomes the target of a drug lord. Will Ferrell plays Alvarez, Diego Luna plays his brother Raul, and Gael García Bernal plays Onza.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) is a drama about a couple living the married life of alcoholism, bitterness and verbal fighting. It is only fueled when they are around other people. Elizabeth Taylor plays Martha and Richard Burton plays George.
Hairspray (2007) is a musical comedy/drama about a teenager obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. She finds herself center stage on the show and decides changes need to be made to make it more inclusive. Nikki Blonsky plays Tracy Turnblad, John Travolta plays her mother, and James Marsen plays Corny Collins.
October 30, 2018: How Long Will Movie Theaters Last?
I’ve been thinking about the longevity of movie theaters and how long they will be in business. The need for a fairly cheap diversion from reality and entertainment is the reason why they will always have a place in the world, but I feel over time the desire will decrease if the trends keep going as they are. Much like drive-in theaters are a phenomenon of the past, it maybe that theaters as we know it today are few and far between. While it won’t be on the level of Blockbuster where only one store exists and that is in Bend, Oregon as of August 2018, the ability to watch movies on big screens in the confines of your home or apartment/loft has already made an unwanted dent in Hollywood and un-Hollywood movies.
There are some, like myself, who frankly wishes that studios would give more of a chance on other movies besides remakes and comic book heroes/heroines. I know there are other independent movies (that meaning has definitely changed over time) and adaptations that are worthy of viewing. The thing is I’m now willing to wait for movies to either come on Netflix or Hulu and if I f
I plan on seeing Bohemian Rhapsody in the theater. Not sure on opening weekend, but I will go eventually. I think the days of seeing movies every month are gone for me. I’m finding it too time consuming. Bad, I know, but times have changed. The large bucket of popcorn should be enough for a family of four, but now it is usually deemed as suitable for one or two people. Then, you get the refill. I’m not sure what will replace the movie trend of remakes and comic book adaptations, but when it does, I’ll be looking forward to it.
eel the compulsion, go to Redbox or something similar to it. If I miss those opportunities, I can always buy it online. Let’s face it. The flooding of the ways in which to view movies has made the current experience of going to the movie theater less appealing to some. I used to be gung-ho in buying the ticket, waiting in line for the popcorn (large with butter please if you’re at Arclight), watching the previews, and finally 20 to 30 minutes later enjoying the movie.
Now, I’m less willing to sit in the theater although the current one has reclining seats to the point of you could fall asleep if you wanted, but you don’t because these days movie tickets aren’t cheap. The prices for me ranged from eight to 17 dollars when I lived in Los Angeles. For years, I went to AMC with their discounted tickets. Sometimes, I went to Arclight where the movies were the highest priced, but had the best popcorn. I liked Laemmle Theatres as it was a family run movie theater. I went to Regency right before I left Los Angeles. Now, they are around 12 dollars. The other reason I’m less willing to watch a movie in the theater because I’m pickier nowadays with the movie quality.
The movies I thought had opportunities to be good and possibly great viewing experiences were mediocre when the credits rolled. I was disappointed one too many times. Yes, movie reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve read enough to know there is something missing in many movies being released today. I can’t put my finger on it, but from what I’ve seen, there isn’t enough depth. The characters have backstory, but the actions only go halfway into the belly of the problem or issue. I’m severely missing that layer of fat. Not that I want eat it, but I want definitely want it dangling in front of my nose. Take off the saran wrap, please. Let me experience the smell.
I plan on seeing Bohemian Rhapsody in the theater. Not sure on opening weekend, but I will go eventually. I think the days of seeing movies every month are gone for me. I’m finding it too time consuming. Bad, I know, but times have changed. The large bucket of popcorn should be enough for a family of four, but now it is usually deemed as suitable for one or two people. Then, you get the refill. I’m not sure what will replace the movie trend of remakes and comic book adaptations, but when it does, I’ll be looking forward to it.
October 6, 2018: 10 Horror Movies to Watch
As October 31st comes creeping around the dark corner, here are 10 horror movies decent to watch for either their cheesiness, gore, hilarity, and in a few cases suspense. Not everyone needs to die and blood doesn’t need to be shed to be a Halloween movie, but it sure helps. I pretty much kept it to the so bad it’s so good or looks good but was okay movies. Here is my list this year, in no particular order, I watched (most again/a few for the first time).
September 30, 2018: Movies from 1990 to 1999
I look back at the 1990s with some fondness. There were many good movies that poured out of the studios in this decade. Here are my ten movie picks, one for each year, that are still great to watch.
Paul Sheldon should count his lucky stars he has such a huge fan base. He was doing so well until Annie Wilkes came into his life. She’s the nightmare all writers fear. Heck, she’s the nightmare everyone fears. This is based from the Stephen King novel of the same name. James Caan plays Sheldon and Kathy Bates plays his crazed number one fan. Good thing you don’t need your legs for inspiration or to write.
Max Cady is not someone you want to mess around with in either the 1962 version or this one. Sam Bowden learns the hard way when Cady is released from prison and seeks revenge on his family. It stars Robert DeNiro as Cady, Nick Nolte as Bowden, Jessica Lange as Leigh (wife), and Juliette Lewis as Danielle (daughter).
Everything is not right in love and dracula. This is an adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola with Gary Oldman as Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina, and Keanu Reeves as Tom Harker. This centers around Dracula’s longing to love again and becomes fixated on Mina. The soundtrack is really good too and Tom Waits has a small role.
This is the longest movie I’m recommending because it spans quite a bit of time. It’s an adaptation from Pik Wah Lee’s (Lillian Lee) novel that focuses on two performers in the Peking Opera. It follows their lives, competitive in career and love, as they navigate their way through the political turmoil in China. It stars Leslie Cheung as Chen Dieyi, Fengyi Zhang as Duan Xiaolou, and Li Gong as Juxian.
The first movie that Natalie Portman starred in and as a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda. She finds life again under the tutelage of a hitman and her emotions don’t run deep for her parents and sister. Her brother is a different story, and this is why she pesters Léon to the point of him teaching her how to hold a gun and shoot properly. Little does he know the only thing she wants is revenge. You can’t go wrong with Jean Reno and Gary Oldman either.
This remains one of my favorite Benicio Del Toro and Kevin Spacey movies. The whole cast is great and the interaction among them all is first-rate. The whole time you’re trying to figure out why everyone is there and if you’ll actually find out who Keyser Söze is by the end. Sometimes the truth can be right in front you, but sometimes it is very far away.
The second movie Lucas Black was in and complete in his underwear. He plays Frank Wheatley who befriends a man named Karl Childers who was recently released from a mental hospital. This movie was written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton and stars himself as Childers. It’s a great drama with great small roles played by Robert Duvall, John Ritter, and Dwight Yoakam.
We zigzag back and forth from the 23rd century to the past, about 5,000 years, when the people with good intentions are still battling those with only evil intentions. All will be lost if the four stones aren’t found, but have no fear because Korben Dallas played by Bruce Willis and Vito Cornelius played by Ian Holm come to the rescue, sort of. Milla Jojovich as Leeloo is the Fifth Element.
This movie is for all those girlfriends who have boyfriends who can’t stay out of trouble and put them in predicaments they’d rather not be in. Lola played by Franka Potente has to fix her boyfriend’s screw up. She’s a woman who keeps running in order to get 100,000 Deutschmarks so Manni doesn’t get killed or have to rob a bank. There are many different ways this day could end and all in 20 minutes.
This gem of a movie is written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It deals with getting inside someone’s mind, and in this case, John Malkovich. As the puppeteer who found this portal, Craig Schwartz, he begins to ponder the true meaning of life and all it has to offer him. He shares his secret with others and this soon leads to problems for everyone involved. It stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and of course, John Malkovich.
September 30 2018: My Top Ten Lists of Best Actors/Actresses
I was going to write down the reasons why I picked these actors/actresses, but then I decided against it. My choices speak for themselves. My mark of a great actor/actress is his or her ability to transform on the screen as well as the capability of having range. These are in no particular order, but might change by next year. For now, here they are.
My Top 10 Under Age 55 Actors (Living)
Michael Fassbender was born on April 2, 1977.
Christian Bale was born on January 30, 1974.
Brad Pitt was born on December 18, 1963.
Ryan Gosling was born on November 12, 1980.
Domhnall Gleeson was born on May 12, 1983.
Peter Dinklage was born on June 11, 1969.
Will Ferrell was born on July 16, 1967.
Tom Hardy was born on September 15, 1977.
John C. Reilly was born on May 24, 1965.
Joaquin Phoenix was born on October 28, 1974.
My Top 10 Under Age 55 Actresses (Living)
Emily Blunt was born on February 23, 1983.
Kate Winslet was born on October 5, 1975
Charlize Theron was born on August 7, 1975.
Nicole Kidman was born on June 20, 1967.
Laura Linney was born on February 5, 1964.
Anne Hathaway was born on November 12, 1982.
Cate Blanchett was born on May 14, 1969.
Jessica Chastain was born on March 24, 1977.
Lili Taylor was born February 20, 1967.
Marion Cotillard was born September 30, 1975.
My Top 10 Over Age 55 Actors (Living)
Daniel-Day Lewis was born on April 29, 1957.
Steve Buscemi was born on December 13, 1957.
Forest Whitaker was born on July 15, 1961.
Sean Penn was born on August 17, 1960.
Samuel L. Jackson was born on December 21, 1948.
Bill Murray was born on September 21, 1950.
Sidney Poitier was born on February 20, 1927.
Christoph Waltz was born on October 4, 1956.
Choi Min-sik was born on April 27, 1962.
Christopher Plummer was born on December 12, 1929.
My Top 10 Over Age 55 Actresses (Living)
Helen Mirren was born on July 26, 1945.
Judi Dench was born on December 9, 1937.
Angela Bassett was born on August 16, 1958.
Glenn Close was born on March 19, 1947.
Francis McDormand was born on June 23, 1957.
Meryl Streep was born on June 22, 1949.
Katey Sagal was born on January 19, 1954.
Tilda Swinton was born on November 5, 1960.
Jennifer Jason Leigh was born on February 5, 1962.
Jamie Lee Curtis was born on November 22, 1958.
My Top 10 Actors (Not Living)
Gregory Peck was born on April 5, 1916 (died 2003).
J.T. Walsh was born on September 28, 1943 (died 1998).
Humphrey Bogart was born on December 25, 1899 (died 1957).
John Hurt was born on January 22, 1940 (died 2017).
Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967 (died 2014).
Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924 (died 2004).
James Dean was born on February 8, 1931 (died 1955).
Paul Newman was born on January 26, 1925 (died 2008).
Alan Rickman was born on February 21, 1946 (died 2016).
James Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 (died 1997).
My Top 10 Actresses (Not Living)
Grace Kelly was born on November 12, 1929 (died 1982).
Elizabeth Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 (died 2011).
Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922 (died 1969).
Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926 (died 1962).
Ingrid Bergman was born on August 29, 1915 (died 1982).
Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938 (died 1981).
Lynn Redgrave was born on March 8, 1943 (died 2010).
Vivien Leigh was born on November 5, 1931 (died 1967).
Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 (died 1993).
Lauren Bacall was born on September 16, 1924 (died 2014).
September 7, 2018: Lowest and Highest Grossing Movies
July 24, 2018: Movie Fight 1
I decided to compare briefly two movies I’ve seen within a few days of each other. These happened to be on Hulu and basically watched them because I’m doing a Cheers marathon right now while sometimes unpacking. It brought up other options I might be interested in and The Brady Bunch Movie came up. Plus, both were expiring soon so I thought why not watch some nonsense for once. I even watched the sequel to The Brady Bunch Movie.
Dirty Grandpa stars Robert De Niro as grandpa and Zac Efron as grandson. Grandpa, who’s wife just passed away, wants to live life as his departed old wife wanted him to do. He persuades his grandson to drive him to Daytona Beach, Florida, where many fine looking female students go for spring break. The only problem is grandson is getting married soon, and his demanding fiancée wants him all to herself. He wants this too, but grandpa has other plans for his used to be fun grandson. It’s a road trip with some endearing moments, but it has more foul language and sexual references than I care to count. I guess I sort of understand what the writer and director was trying to do with this film. It just falls way short of the finish line for De Niro and Efron in terms of utilizing their acting skills and seems to rely too heavily on the over the top comedy routine shtick.
The Brady Bunch Movie stars Shelly Long and Gary Cole and all their children. The most notable being Christine Taylor and Jennifer Elise Cox who played Marcia and Jan Brady. I did like the constant arguing between them. I liked Jean Smart and Michael McKean as the Dittmeyers. I liked RuPaul as the school counselor. Even despite all the complaining from Jan, I found Cindy the least likable. I don’t know why. So sorry Cindy. You know the family in some way will have a problem and need to put their differences aside. They do just this to help their parents. The movie had some funny moments, but the dialogue was a bit too much for me. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed somewhat forced and stiff. I can forgive it more because the movie is supposed be goofy. It captured what living in a large family can be like and luckily I never grew up in that although I was definitely born into it.
Since I’m the only judge, I score the contest where The Brady Bunch edges out Dirty Grandpa by a few punches. I laughed more in Dirty Grandpa, but overall The Brady Bunch is the winner due to its subtle humor and a tad more realism.
April 18, 2018: 10 Sports Movies You Probably Don’t Want to See
These ten sport movies could be lumped into the category of bad for several reasons. I’d probably watch a few again, but most I would not. This list is my picks for box office sport baddies. There are spoilers in most of my short descriptions so don’t read them if you want to give any of them a try. I have given you fair warning because as you will see some are pretty ridiculous.
I know this is a children’s movie, but damn, this movie makes no sense. A zebra having brain capacity to want to be a horse, and compete at the highest level for horses. We all can suspend reality if there’s good reason, and more importantly, we must be convinced to do so. Racing Stripes does not give any explanation for why the zebra, aptly named Stripes by the daughter of the man who rescued him from a circus, is hell-bent on competing in the Kentucky Crown. In spite of being born in captivity (I’m assuming) and forgotten when the circus left, the zebra still retains some of its genetic makeup. Yet, there is little indication of this throughout the movie. I’m not expecting some magical potion that allowed this zebra to think like a horse, although it might have pushed the story along. There needed to be some plausible reason for this. The voices for the animals were done by quality actors and actresses, but it wasn’t enough to make it a worthwhile movie. I wouldn’t bet on this wannabe horse at any race track if I was into this kind of gambling, which I’m not.
It’s hard for me to root for a movie where the main character rides bulls for a living. I’m not into bull riding nor do I see any advantage of this sport (if you can call it that). It’s a highly dangerous activity, and this movie proves there are consequences. Yes, Lane Frost’s untimely death is tragic. Yes, his quick fame lead to an ego in overdrive. You might wonder how his head fit through saloon doors. While there’s no denying he was attracted to thrills, the portrayal of the rodeo lifestyle seemed at a distance. Lane’s personality flaws were obvious, which is fine, but he didn’t have enough on his good side to make him truly likable. The fact it starred Luke Perry might have detracted from telling the story because we all know how much girls lusted over Dylan McKay in 90210 or maybe that is why he was hired. Either way, it wasn’t enough for me to go my pile of good sports movies.
Summer Catch’s awfulness isn’t because of Jessica Biel or Freddie Prinze Jr’s acting, but due to the poorly written coming of age script. It isn’t that baseball and teenage romance can’t go together. I’m the first one to admit I find baseball boring as all hell, but a well written script will make me forget the boring as all hell part. This movie is mind numbing because the local baseball player completely ditches the game for the woman he realizes he loves while scouts are present. No, I don’t think so. To be overly dramatic, PULEESE!!! Then, to make it even more unlikely, she forgoes her job in San Francisco to stay with him while he proves himself as a minor league player. I’m not saying some people get lucky breaks, but if baseball meant everything to the character of Ryan Dunne, he wouldn’t have left his game during the middle of it. Everything happened a little too nicely at the end.
I remember watching this movie thinking whoever is skating during the credits is pretty damn cool. I knew it wasn’t Christian Slater, but at the time I didn’t realize that the technical advisor was one of the original Z-Boys. Stacy Peralta was able to get skaters, such as Mike McGill, Tony Hawk, and Mark Rogowski, to do the stunts. They were the best part of the movie. Christian Slater over acted during the emotional scenes. Whether that was himself or the director wanting it, I’m not sure. Gleaming the Cube was full of cheesy lines. The moral of the story is if you’re a Caucasian skateboarder, you will be able to stop the bad guys by blending so well into the Vietnamese community. It would make more sense for your adopted Vietnamese brother not to get killed, but what do I know? Like I stated earlier, I watched it for the skateboarding, which led to me thinking skateboarders were rad. I’m still waiting for a skateboarder to sweep me off my feet and carry me into the sunset.
If you know anything about skating, it’s that hockey skaters and figure skaters are two different disciplines and most noticeably the toe pick. I’ve seen this movie many times, and one I’d probably watch again. I almost feel guilty for including this into the bad pile, but it’s one where paying close attention is not needed to understand it. The verbal jabs back and forth on and off the ice are enjoyable, but the cutting between actual figure skaters and actors of D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly is quite choppy. Parts of the script seemed far-fetched such as the skaters being good enough in a short amount of time to compete in the Olympics. I wonder how many people clapped at the end of this movie when it was released.
I thought this series should have ended when Rocky went head to head with Ivan Drago. I don’t care what anyone says. I like Dolph Lundgren as an actor. He’s as tall as you’d think in person. At first glance, I thought he was a waiter. Anyway, this movie is bad. Rocky V has nothing in it that made the first movie great. The acting is sub par and the lines feel forced. Fame and fortune came and went quicker for Rocky in between IV and V. I want to ask Rocky what was he thinking for not fighting Drago for money, but I guess remembering and honoring your friend was more important. Even when he finds himself penniless, he won’t fight inside the ring, but eventually fights outside the ring, on the mean Philly streets. It doesn’t make sense given his past actions. How many times did he tell Adrian he was a fighter. The only endearing thing is seeing his real life son, Sage, be his son in the movie. Enough said before I get overly verklempt.
I never thought I’d have to stop a movie because it was that BAD. This was one of them. I couldn’t even keep it on while working on something else. It was THAT BAD. Georges St. Pierre nor Jean-Claude Damme could convince me to stay the course. This says a lot because I like both of them for different reasons. I’m not expecting anything spectacular, but as I watched this monstrosity unfold I turned it off to rescue my eyes and ears. The shame is this could have been a decent remake. Kickboxer: Vengeance was so off the mark with a bad script, bad acting, and just bad everything. I got all this from just watching a quarter of the movie.
When you take one of the hottest, muggiest areas of the United States and place one of its inhabitants into one of the coldest, harshest areas, you might find yourself watching Snowdogs. I know this is a children’s movie, but would a man who grew up and lived his whole life in the city want to brave the outdoor elements with dogs that don’t like him? Get to know the dogs first and have them be comfortable with you before striking out with them, meaning you trust them and they trust you, on the Arctic Challenge. I’m all for getting acquainted with your roots, but it’s not very realistic. Even Cuba Gooding Jr. realized it wasn’t a good movie so yes, watch at your own risk. I guess the only saving grace were the dogs because I like dogs.
The title of this movie is about as on the nose as you can get. This is about swimming and fans. I remember a family member stating “what a terrible looking movie.” He was right, so very right, and should’ve heeded his words. When you combine a recovered addict who is a swimmer, his girlfriend who also is a swimmer, and a girl who doesn’t know how to swim, it makes for a questionable movie. It has all the elements a bad teenage thriller would have and for being such a bad girl, Madison sure has a lot of good luck minus her predictable ending. And let’s not forget Stanford was chomping at the bit to get a piece of Ben’s wake he left with his powerful kick.
This is one of the bad movies I wouldn’t mind watching again. Long live Jonathan Brandis and Rodney Dangerfield, but more Jonathan Brandis. While there isn’t much substance in the dialogue and obvious misconception of girls as shitty athletes, it does play around with crossdressing. Wasn’t Matthew’s wig so convincing? There’s no denying that Chester is a misogynistic asshole throughout most of the movie. You pretty much predict what happens with Matthew/Martha and the girls soccer team. I almost want to shield my eyes for how intense Rodney Dangerfield’s gaze is on this one sheet.
February 28, 2018: 10 Sports Movies You Should See
These ten sports movies are in no particular order. They are the ones I liked and thought were worthy of my eyes. If you’re wondering why I didn’t include Rocky, it’s because I’ve sort of spoken about it before. Let’s begin before the night ends.
While the men serve their country in WWII, in come the women to prove that they have just as much right to swing a bat and fight with each other. Dottie and Kit Hinson who are sisters along with other females aren’t taken seriously during the women baseball tryouts until publicity and interest can’t be ignored. Sibling rivalry, competitive game playing, and sporting legacies are all a part of this movie. It was one of the selections to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry in 2012 for good reason. A League of Their Own is directed by Penny Marshall. It stars Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Hanks, and David Strathairn.
2008 was the year when many thought Mickey Rourke would win the Oscar. He didn’t win, but he secured a roll of a lifetime. It was personal and professional in the same vein for him. This movie digs into the wrestling world. The character of Randy Robinson finds himself past his prime. ‘The Ram’ works on making his career relevant again and personal relationships better. The Wrestler is directed by Darren Aronofsky. It also stars Marisa Tomei and Rachel Evan Wood.
This is based on the true story of two boxers, Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund. The half-brothers also have too many sisters to count including one played by Conan O’Brien’s sister, Kate. Micky Ward overcomes his Lowell, Massachusetts odds, including his overbearing mother and his drug addicted brother. He is presented with a chance to prove himself in the world light welterweight title. Let the training begin. The Fighter is directed by David O. Russell. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and Jack McGee.
Billy Beane is not your average guy in baseball. He’s the Oakland Athletics GM who builds a team with the help of Peter Brand. He finds resistance in his scouting approach, but stays the course. As time passes, he reaps some rewards, never wavering from his principles. This is less focus on an actual game and more on the activity behind the scenes. It is well worth the watch. Moneyball is directed by Bennett Miller. It stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The antagonist in this movie is the heir to the du Pont chemical company, and based on a true and tragic story. Today the company advocates genetically modified foods, but back in the 1980s John du Pont immersed himself into the world of wrestling. Piggybacking on the success of the Schultz brothers in the 1984 Olympic Games, du Pont sought the help of Mark Schultz to help him have a successful wrestling team in the 1988 Olympics. It was during this time that events happening at his training facility led to him being in the newspapers for all the wrong reasons. Foxcatcher is directed by Bennet Miller. It stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Vanessa Redgrave.
You love to love this movie. Daniel from New Jersey becomes Daniel-san of California under the direction of Mr. Miyagi. As he moves through the painful halls of his new high school, he becomes more disillusioned with his situation, and you become more sympathetic. He’s not just a bratty Italian teenager from Newark with enemies all around him. He really is picked on by Johnny and his friends. It’s just not fair. His journey is one of self-discovery and redemption as he masters the crane kick. The Karate Kid is directed by John G. Avildson. It stars Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka, and Randee Heller.
Jake La Motta knows how to be a bull inside and outside the ring. While it serves him well inside the ring, outside is a different story. He has a way of offending friends and family members where many abandon him during this period in his life. Time heals most things. La Motta was remembered for his world middleweight champion win and stand-up comedy routines. Raging Bull is directed by Martin Scorsese. It stars Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, and Frank Gallo.
Clint Eastwood remains one of my favorite directors. He knows his craft to the point of ridiculous. He often chooses stories that have subtly within them. This movie is no different. Maggie Fitzgerald is past her prime, but finds passion in boxing. Under the direction of a washed out grumpster, she rises the ranks of the lightweight boxing division. There is retribution and amends to be had for the major characters. It’s a great movie from start to finish, and really touches home if you have a heart beating inside your chest. Million Dollar Baby is directed by Clint Eastwood. It stars Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Michael Peña, Anthony Mackie, and Jay Baruchel.
If you ever visit Oregon and specifically Eugene where the University of Oregon is home, there is a household name in running, and that is Steve Prefontaine. A long distance runner who worked closely with Bill Dellinger and Bill Bowerman (look up Nike), Prefontaine competed in the Munich Games of 1972. After this experience, he works even harder to prepare for the Montreal Games of 1976. This is no thrills story where the only way to attain your goals is by doing it. Prefontaine is directed by Steve James. It stars Jared Leto, R. Lee Ermey, Ed O’Neill, Breckin Meyer, and Amy Locane.
This is a true story about a boxer from South Korea. Not letting his childhood affect him, Kim Deuk-Gu rises to become a force of nature during the 1980s. ‘Gidae’ fought in Las Vegas in 1982 against Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini. The movie is a look into the sacrifices people often are forced to make. It is a movie that also gives you perspective about life in general. Chaempieon is directed by Kwak Kyung-taek. It stars Yu Oh-seong, Chae Min-seo, and Jung Doo-hong. There is also a worthwhile documentary The Good Son that includes that speaks of this particular fight.
February 10, 2018: All Things Christopher Plummer
Hollywood trends have come and gone, only to come back again, and things have rapidly changed with social media. Things are more accessible to create your own little movie, but of course, they will usually not be the blockbuster you think it will be. This can be a blessing and a curse. Let’s face it: watching an amateur video on YouTube is not the same experience as watching a movie in the theater or on your television from a DVD or Blu-ray. This technological modernization of the world, which includes Hollywood has also produced effective “cheaper” made movies with stories seemingly realistic. The acting profession might not have the glamour and glitz it once did. There continues to be crossover from other professions: music and fashion. This isn’t to say it is easy to get into Hollywood because for the majority it is damn hard. You must want it bad. It takes an equal amount of work to stay relevant. The writers’ focus has long forgotten about most epic stories or ones that require an overabundance of thinking by the audience. The audience has spoken. It’s become all about comic book adaptations. Think movies with more action than story, but enough of the latter to not be thought of as one trick cinema.
I tend to be drawn toward roles where actors/actresses are able to showcase their acting range. I firmly believe that a great actor/actress has range. S/he is able to absorb into a role, and if it is one that flies in the direction opposite from where s/he stands in reality, then all the more reason to stand up and clap for him/her. My take on what makes a great actor/actress might differ from the mainstream, as I look to someone who is able to convincingly portray a good person as much as a bad person, and better yet if it is in the same movie. This isn’t to say an actor/actress playing the same role over and over isn’t good, but to launch them into greatness takes work, and then to become one of the legends takes an even larger body of work, and an understanding few attain. A great actor/actress is multilayered in techniques, able to gain access to that “needed thing” effortlessly, and quickly transition within scenes and between performances. I have more to think about what makes a legend, in any profession, but would venture to say it’s a combination of longevity and relevance.
I was first introduced to Christopher Plummer from my grandma. She watched The Sound the Music every year. This was my first introduction to musicals. While this was not his defining role, it surely made him a household name, and this musical is still one of my favorites. I continued watching all kinds of movies as I left my teenage years and ventured into my twenties, thirties, and now forties. I have become enamored, in a non-romantic way, with Plummer as I have with Humphrey Bogart and Sidney Poitier. There is something when seeing an actor/actress who’s walked the streets of Tinseltown year after year, and is no longer considered a “new face.” The Treasure of the Sierra Madre remains one of my favorites for Bogart and In the Heat of the Night for Poitier. My favorite, so far for Plummer, is The Fall of the Roman Empire.
As I watched Plummer in his role as J. Paul Getty, it dawned on me how much I enjoy his performances. I thought about him playing Kaiser Wilhelm II, Leo Tolstoy, Aristotle, and John Barrymore. I thought about his ability to equally play a warmhearted soul and one that is wicked in nature. He’s an actor continuing on his path of promise and deliverance. It almost seems silly for me to even comment because he doesn’t need my accolades. He has already proven himself, but lately I’ve wanted to see faces of “older” actors/actresses. Hollywood likes newcomers, the next big thing, so this is my way of saying I want continued space for veteran actors/actresses. If anyone is deserving of a Hollywood spot, one should be reserved for Christopher Plummer.
February 5, 2018: Humphrey Bogart Quote
January 17, 2018: New Movie Rating
I’m getting there piece by piece. I can’t wait to apply this to my two reviews and future recommendations. The lower the rating, the smaller the finger size. Symbolism has to count for something.
Cheers and Happy Movie Watching Everyone!!!
December 24, 2017: 10 Must See Holiday Themed Movies
These holiday themed movies are in no particular order. If you’re wondering why I didn’t include It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s because I’ve never seen it. Yes, you heard it right. Maybe this year will be the year. I mean while I’m at it, I might as well fit in The Hebrew Hammer. Until the next time, cheers with eggnog or hot apple cider or hot chocolate or whatever else you might drink on a cold, winter night.
While not the best rated or most liked version of this story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (2009), is about Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s easy to find bitterness when the future looks bleak. I envision most people going through this at some point in their lives. Scrooge ultimately has to decide which road he will take. I really liked this version because of Jim Carrey’s voice and the film’s animation.
There are two camps of people: those who enjoy the cold weather in December and those who would rather be somewhere toasty warm. Four Christmases (2008) is a hilarious movie about spending time with your family and wondering if you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Jon Favreau gives a solid performance as Vince Vaughn’s redneck brother. There’s other funny moments and is a lighthearted movie.
The staple of every holiday movie collection. KEVIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!! Home Alone (1990) is where you realize eight-year olds know more than you think and are able to take care of themselves. This is a big SORT OF. Kevin McCallister turns out to be his parents’ worst nightmare on Christmas, but soon everyone realizes the true meaning of Christmas by the end. It has a few sappy moments, but a great movie for any family.
ALL ABOARD!!!!!!!!! The Polar Express (2004) is another animation movie Robert Zemeckis directed. This movie is about a boy who travels to the North Pole where he learns about himself and what friendship means during Christmas. Again the animation is visually great and you can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks.
I’ve seen this movie more than ten times and probably less than twenty. Little Women (1994) is one of many adaptations about the March sisters from the story written by Louisa May Alcott. You journey into the lives of each sister as they grow up without their father due to the Civil War. It touches upon many subjects and all in all is a good wholesome movie.
Willie is a very bad Santa. I mean what can go wrong. A lot. Bad Santa (2003) is about how even criminals can get a do over. Willie and his sidekick elf, Marcus, commit robberies in department stores but meeting a kid throws a wrench in his holiday game plan. It sends him in a downward spiral, making him face his holiday demons.
This is a movie about time constraints and sloppy work done, but there is nothing to fear because Arthur will make all things better. Arthur Christmas (2011) is about how Arthur’s journey to right the wrong before Christmas morning arrives. It is up to him to that a girl’s missing present doesn’t become just that. Arthur is voiced by James McAvoy and Santa is voiced by Jim Broadbent.
This is a movie I never really appreciated until I sat down and watched it in its entirety. It’s a classic. It’s so funny. A Christmas Story (1983) is freaking awesome. The tongue on the pole, the pink bunny costume, the leg lamp, and Chinese restaurant. Ralphie got a raw deal in life, and even though he has the brattiest little kid brother, he still holds out hope for the BB gun. Christmas miracles do happen.
A character to scare every little kid out there, solely based on Jim Carrey’s make up, but is a great story by Dr. Seuss. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is how one girl’s actions leads to changes within the Grinch. He learns that there’s more to life than being mean and selfish as he meets the people of Whoville.
This probably isn’t the first movie you’d pick as a holiday movie, but The Family Stone (2005) is one of mine. It’s about a family where the tightness among them is tight despite all their dysfunctions. It centers around a matriarch, played by Diane Keaton, and how she wary of the newcomer, Meredith, which is her son’s girlfriend. The differences are noticeable among them all, but it’s hard to put them aside when nothing said is right and every action taken is misunderstood. A good movie for those who know dysfunction exists in every family.
December 24, 2017: IMDb Genre Recommendations
Here’s a list of the major genres recognized by IMDb. There are many to choose from, old and new, and my examples are ones I’ve recently watched the first time or again because I could and did.
Virtually all scenes contain characters participating in humorous or comedic experiences.
Moana (2016) is an animated movie I absolutely loved. It weaves the story of ancestral lines, familial duty, and individual dreams. It has a female protagonist, Moana Waialiki. She searches for her own destiny, as well as protecting the island on which she lives. The scenes between Maui and herself were the some of the funniest. You can’t beat Dwayne Johnson as Maui and his moving tattoos. The musicality is a highlight as well.
Numerous consecutive scenes of real personages and not characters portrayed by actors. This includes stand-up comedy and concert performances.
13th (2016) does an excellent job breaking down the reality of the current day prison system, and the involvement of the African-Americans in the United States. It has solid, good information that should not be ignored. Historical events occurring 200+ years ago doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant today. It gives insight into the ugliness of race relations and inequality that still bleeds in present day situations, and how politicians use it recklessly to further to their campaign agendas.
Universally accepted viewing, and aimed specifically for the education and/or entertainment of children or the entire family.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is another adaptation of the story by Roald Dahl. Who is better as Willy Wonka, between Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, is anyone’s guess. They were both equally good, playing this kooky character, and I’m not sure who would stand on top of the candy cake. This story reminds me how kids are the products of their environment, and each one seems to have a few of the deadly sins, unless you have the name of Charlie. The kids are less interested in the Oompa-Loompas, and more concerned about the competition among themselves and where they fit into Wonka’s candy filled factory. This movie is a dream for people who want to run around in a house made of candy, eating whatever is within reach, or maybe I’m just speaking for myself here.
Typically features dark, brooding characters, corruptions, detectives, and the seedy side of the big city. Almost always shot in black and white, American, and set in contemporary time.
The Maltese Falcon (1941) is one of the best movies Humphrey Bogart starred in and one of the best mysteries ever made. It’s a whodunit without really ever getting closure for some of the people. It leaves you with scrapes without any ointment to stop the burning. Who knew a bird could be the object of so much attention, but well deserved, indeed.
Numerous consecutive scenes of characters effecting a terrifying and/or repugnant narrative.
It Comes at Night (2017) builds slowly over time, with its focus being on survival in a time of uncertainty. The head of the family, Paul, expects discipline in following his rules to keep them safe. This is put to the test when someone enters into their life, ultimately seeking help, further complicating the line between safe and unsafe. There aren’t any gimmicks to draw the viewer into this movie. What you get is what you see with honest dialogue, raw tension, and ending that leaves you thinking about what you would do in this situation.
Several scenes of characters bursting into song aimed at the viewer while the rest of the time, usually but not exclusively, portraying a narrative that alludes to another genre.
Les Misérables (2012) is an adaptation from Victor Hugo. Let’s all stand and clap at his writing achievement. This musical production is one you either loved or hated. I found very little wrong with it. The cast was amazing with Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and his nemesis, Javert, played by Russell Crowe. The duo of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were perfect to play the Thénardiers Anne Hathaway shined as Fantine as a prostitute and her daughter Cosette, played by Amanda Seyfried. This story has it all: turmoil, revenge, forgiveness, redemption, and change.
Numerous inter-related scenes of a character and their personal life with emphasis on emotional attachment or involvement with other characters, especially those with a high level of purity or devotion.
Her (2013) is not your typical romance movie. When I first heard about it, I thought seriously, how good can a movie like this be? I should’ve known better because of two things. One, it was written and directed by Spike Jonze, and two, it starred Joaquin Phoenix. This involves a writer, Theodore, who falls in love with the voice from his operating system on his phone. He’s not socially awkward to the point of not being able to have friends, but they are few and far between. It’s an intriguing story with undercurrent themes of consumerism and social media.
Numerous scenes and/or a narrative that pertains to a real war, past or current.
Allied (2016) could be seen as a typical love and war movie, and in some ways it is, but it also had an edge to it. The main characters, Commander Max Vatan and French Resistance member Marianne Beauséjour, come together during World War II, working together for a greater cause. It’s after things settle that complications arise. Domesticity only goes so far. This is about one’s loyalty to country and what happens when things appear differently from another angle.
Primary focus is on real-life events of historical significance featuring real-life characters, allowing for some artistic license. Fictional characters, incidents, and dialog should be minor.
Lincoln (2012) is the movie when I realized James Spader had changed quite a bit in appearance. It’s also the movie about the biggest conflicts, Civil War and slavery, the United States government and citizens and non-citizens have ever had to face. Daniel Day-Lewis took the role and carved himself another fine performance. The scope of negotiations to secure the ratification of the 13th amendment might seem simple when looking at it today, but as we’ve currently seen with Congress, there’s ample room for debate between two political parties and factions within even one or the other party. This movie focuses on a small slice of American history and you don’t want to miss it.
Significant music-related elements, such as concert or story about a band.
Baby Driver (2017) was a surprise, meaning that it was that good. I wasn’t sure about the title of it and a half pink/tan one sheet. I learned my lesson. Don’t judge a movie by its one sheet. Baby is a getaway driver for a ruthless crime boss named Doc who controls his future and every move. His dream of living on his own terms is within grasp, but he keeps getting pulled back time and time again. You learn music is an integral part of life. The best scenes were between Jon Hamm who played Buddy and Ansel Elgort who played Baby.
Numerous inter-related scenes of one or more characters endeavoring to widen their knowledge of anything pertaining to themselves or others.
Wind River (2017) is one of the movies I always appreciate where it focuses on the interconnectedness between people. The movie has conflict throughout: the FBI and locals unable to see eye to eye, two fathers clashing with each other, the cultural differences between Natives and everyone else. Revenge is a dish best served cold especially in this case because the location is Wyoming during the winter. You finally find out how the girl was murdered, but not before realizing some harsh truths about life. It has a great realistic ending.
Numerous scenes and/or entire background should be based on speculative scientific discoveries or developments, environmental changes, space travel, or life on other planets.
The Martian (2015) is pretty much a feel good movie with a lot of holy crap moments. Matt Damon’s character of an astronaut, Mark Watney, learns to thrive on Mars when he is left alone. A mission is formulated to rescue him and as it gains momentum, it’s not only the space world wanting him to return safely. This is a movie you could watch with your family except small children just because they don’t have the attention span.
Numerous sensational scenes or a narrative that is sensational or suspenseful.
The Butterfly Effect (2004) is a relative oldie in my collection and not sure why it was rated so poorly among some critics. It definitely kept my interest. It stars Ashton Kutcher as Evan Treborn who tries to piece his childhood together one memory at a time. He goes back and forth between past and present time for what you will recognize this is a good thing. Many things happen behind closed doors and this is one of those movies.
Numerous scenes and/or a narrative where the portrayal is similar to that of a frontier life in the American West during 1600 to contemporary times.
The Hateful Eight (2015) is not supposed to be funny, but for some reason I find Quentin Tarantino’s movies more hilarious than not. This isn’t my favorite film of his, but it’s good with its superb cast including Walton Goggins, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Samuel L. Jackson. Never able to narrow down what year exactly this takes place except to know it’s after the Civil War, eight people are forced to face nature’s harsh winter and counter defensive moves among each other. You won’t be disappointed in this over the top movie.
Numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a magical and/or mystical narrative.
Elf (2003) is a gem of a holiday movie about an elf, played by Will Ferrell, that is nothing what you would think these toy makers should look or act like because let’s face it, he’s not an elf. As you can guess, he has some identity issues. He ventures out into the “real world” to find out who he really is and connect with his birth father. Elf is the epitome of a holiday movie: the North Pole, Santa Claus, family, and spirit.
Numerous consecutive scenes of characters portrayed to effect a serious narrative, and can be exaggerated upon to produce melodrama.
Spotlight (2015) showcases the power of a newspaper, especially when it’s willing to dig where few people ever want to dig within religion. The level of sexual abuse is maddening and tragic within any institution, but the Catholic Church seems to be the top layer for the widespread incidences, as you learn in this movie. It has lasting effects for the abused and often little consequences for the abusers. The statistics listed at the end are daunting. It highlights a huge problem called power inequality (racial, social, economic, familial), and until this is fixed it will never be fully rectified.
Whether the protagonists or antagonists are criminals, this contains numerous consecutive and inter-related scenes of characters participating, aiding, abetting, and/or planning criminal behavior or experiences usually for an illicit goal.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017) is one kick ass, bad ass, and kill as many people who deserve it movie where Keanu Reeves is John Wick. The level of fighting and vendettas is even better than the first movie. John Wick was born to do one thing, well probably more, but since his family life rug was pulled out from under his feet, he does what he has to do to survive. It’s a simple story with adrenaline filled scenes and great special effects. I can’t wait for the third installment as it’s bound to be just as good in 2019.
Numerous scenes where action is spectacular and usually destructive.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is a movie for my heart. Apocalyptic movies tends to bring out the best in the downtrodden and worst for the other side. This story is about a the attempt to right the perceived wrongs by a displaced woman, Furiosa, and a man with nothing to lose, Max. They learn to trust each other, and ultimately find a little bit more peace when their road out of hell appears to have ended.
Primary focus is on the depiction of activities and personality of a reason person or persons, for some or all of their lifetime. Events in their life maybe reenacted or described in a documentary style. It should generally follow reasonably close to the factual record.
Lion (2016) is one of those movies I will watch year after year. It has to be one of the best movies based on real life I’ve seen in a long time. It probably struck a chord because like Saroo, the protagonist in the movie, I too was adopted. The movie doesn’t hide the difficulties of some adoptions. The interaction between the two brothers before Saroo’s adoption were the best moments in the film. There are many heart wrenching scenes and the ending is unforgettable. It left me thinking there are no coincidences in this story. With this being the last genre recommendation, I would say put Lion near the top of your list to watch. You won’t regret it. Trust me, you won’t.
December 3, 2017: AFI Genre Recommendations
Here’s a list of the major genres recognized by AFI. There are many to choose from, old and new, and my examples are ones I’ve recently watched the first time or again because I could and did.
Animated includes images primarily created by computer or hand and the characters are voiced by actors and actresses.
Zootopia from 2016, a 3D computer-animated comedy, is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed. It involves a rabbit named Judy, striking out on her own in a city called Zootopia, to be part of its police force. She finds herself having to work with her enemy, the fox, in order to solve a crime, while also proving herself to the police chief. The humor is on point, and is a movie for almost all ages.
Fantasy is when live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world.
The NeverEnding Story (Die unendiliche Geschichte) from 1984, a fantasy, is a movie that keeps on giving. It involves Bastian, a child who is routinely picked on, and finds refuge in a book. He becomes entranced in the story, and specifically the characters of Falcor (flying dragon) and Atreyu (warrior child). The movie has gotten flack for its special effects and ending, but back in the day it completely captured my attention and heart. It still does. The nostalgia of the 80s.
Gangster centers on organized crime or maverick criminals in a twentieth century setting.
Black Mass from 2015, a gangster movie, is a book adaptation. It’s about the relationship between James Bulger, known as Whitey, and the FBI, in particular with agent John Connolly. It is one of the best acting performances by Johnny Depp. The other one that comes to mind is when he played John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester in Libertine. It’s a movie I didn’t have a hard time watching because the FBI and gang activity are personal interests, but even if they weren’t, it had enough dramatic tension to fill a large table of beer mugs.
Science Fiction marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation.
Snowpiercer from 2013, a science fiction movie, is based on a graphic novel. It’s about different economic classes that live on a train where the distinction between the poor and rich is a very clear line. It only takes one person to rally the crowd, and when Curtis gains foothold outside his living quarters, there’s nothing that will stop him. It’s quite serious from start to finish, as many science fiction films are, because usually something is in peril. There’s no falling asleep in this movie.
Western is set in the American West that embodies the spirit, the struggle, and the demise of the new frontier.
Unforgiven from 1992, a western, is one of my favorite Clint Eastwood movies. He plays Bill Munny, a man who wants to be left alone to live out the rest of his life in peace. Yet, life often gives you what you don’t want. It has great acting and the premise of less is more is part of why this movie plays so well on the screen. Known as an efficient director, there is a purpose for everything you see and don’t see in this movie.
Sports has protagonists who play athletics or other games of competition.
Battle of the Sexes from 2017, focusing on the sport of tennis, tackles serious matters with the right amount of humor interspersed throughout. We’ve heard about the tennis match in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Seeing this movie is the closest I’ll get to the whole experience and events leading up to it. The fact I had a better understanding of the hardships women faced in sports is a testament to the movie. Emma Stone’s performance is Oscar worthy, and of course, Steve Carrell did well playing an unlikable character.
Mystery revolves around the solution of a crime.
Se7en from 1995, a mystery, is about the seven deadly sins. It makes you wonder who the hell is responsible for this murder streak. For what it is worth, it’s a little ironic given the bad guy is now being portrayed in Hollywood as a bad guy. It has cost him two roles now, which I’m not too happy about him leaving, but karma comes to mind. Getting back to the movie, it goes into the darkness of what people can be and do if you aren’t paying attention. So pay attention to it all and maybe see how you stack up with the deadly sins.
Romantic Comedy includes development of a romance leading to comic situations.
Midnight in Paris from 2011, a romantic comedy, is a movie I enjoyed because you hardly go wrong with Woody Allen. It involves a couple vacationing in Paris. Gil is a screenwriter who finds his inspiration while being transported back to the 1920s at midnight. It has a dreamy quality to it and worth seeing. You also can’t go wrong with watching the recreating of 1920s Paris.
Courtroom Drama has a system of justice playing a critical role in the film’s narrative.
Primal Fear from 1996, a courtroom drama, is a movie that involves religion and murder. It can’t get any better than this, but wait, there’s a lawyer hiding the shadows ready to take on this case. Okay, it does get better. The need to control the situation, by both the lawyer and defendant, makes it tense. Sometimes you watch movies to be appalled by human action and this is one of them.
Epic is large-scale, set in a cinematic interpretation of the past. Their scope defies and demands, either in the mode in which they are presented or their range across time.
Lawrence of Arabia from 1962, an epic historical drama, is a movie that kept my attention. As with many epic movies, it’s a long one of around 3 hours and 40 minutes. It’s about a British Lieutenant, T.E. Lawrence, following his own path during WWI. He disobeys commands, and rallies warring Arab tribes together for the sake of attacking a Turkish port. It’s worth seeing. It won best picture of the year and six other Oscars.
October 23, 2017: More Halloween Movies
October 21, 2017: 9 Halloween Movies for Every October and 1 TV Special
While I haven’t watched animated movies for a while, I thoroughly enjoyed watching every movie listed below. From the Peanuts characters to vampires to trolls to the undead, the stories and characters will keep you entertained. These just aren’t for people with kids because I’m living proof you’re never too old to watch a movie for a younger audience. They are listed by release date.
(Yes, I realize It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a television special.)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Monster House (2006)
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)
The Boxtrolls (2014)
There’s many Halloween movies one could watch. I hope to watch a few new ones for the purpose of recommending or reviewing them before next year’s Halloween is chasing me. Here’s my list of Horror movies that are timeless wonders until that time comes. The lists are in order of release year. Enjoy and happy horror movie watching.
Psycho (1960) has one of best string of first act scenes in a horror movie. Everyone will remember to be wary of taking showers in motels. The movie seeks to answer what really happened to the character, Marion Crane, after she left her job in a mad hurry. The story continues to involve her sister, Lila, and her boyfriend, Sam, as they unravel the mystery. The ending is one of the best, but this is why Alfred Hitchcock is known as “the master of suspense.” There are five movies in this franchise, including the remake with Anne Heche and Vince Vaughn in 1998.
The Exorcist (1973) is about a mother fighting for her daughter’s life, basically demonic possession, with the help of two priests. If entities jump from one person to another, the ending has a definite creepiness to it. On a side note, Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair injured their backs in different scenes so the level of authenticity is definitely present. The are five movies in this franchise, not including the re-release in 2000 showing the staircase scene of the spider walk.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is about a group of friends, including two siblings, who encounter a family of freaks or the more technical term of being a psychopathic family. Leatherface: a man donning human flesh as a mask, wielding a chainsaw, being extremely tall, has all the traits of one scary &#*^@^&$. This script is very loosely based on Ed Gein, a Wisconsin serial killer, and surprisingly more serial killers are located in the pacific northwest and in some southern states. The commentary is worth the listen. There are seven movies in the franchise, including remakes and spin offs focusing on Leatherface. The latest one was released this month, featuring Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor, although I haven’t seen it.
Halloween (1978) is a movie most people watch around this time. This is another favorite of mine. Some are for personal reasons. Others are purely for creative reasons. I met Jamie Lee Curtis once. She’s zany as you think, but in a good way. Listening to the commentary on the DVD/Blu-ray between John Carpenter and herself was priceless. From the opening scene to the last, it cemented my belief some people are wired to be evil. There are ten movies in the franchise, including the Rob Zombie directed ones, and the eleventh coming out in October 2018.
The Shining (1980) is about a haunted hotel that has negative effects on those who stay there. A writer, Jack Torrance, with his wife and son stay at Overlook Hotel in the dead of winter. Odd phenomenon occur as time passes, alarming Jack’s wife most of all. Yet, all bad things must come to an end. This is the only movie made, although there was a television mini-series made in 1997.
Friday the 13th (1980) brought the words of Camp Crystal Lake and name of Jason to the forefront of slasher films. The movie follows camp counselors, and one by one they are hunted by an elusive killer. There is nothing wrong about a mother’s love for her adult child, no matter how many worms he has crawling on his face, and the bond is stronger than the strongest glue. There are twelve movies in this franchise, including spin–offs focusing on Jason and Freddy vs. Jason, and the remake in 2009.
Halloween II (1981) is another movie most people watch around this time. This is one of my favorite sequels. It is one of the few horror movies that holds a candle next to the original and not have its flame blown out. The nightmare continues for Laurie Strode in the hospital. There are ten movies in the franchise.
Gremlins (1984) is about those adorable, little creatures called mogwai. The movie is completely absurd when you force it into the realistic cupboard, but that’s what is great about it. There is no way an animal would change its genetic makeup at such an accelerated rate from light, water, and food. It forces you to suspend your reality. The lessons learned by small town U.S.A. still rings true today. Do not possess something you are not fully prepared to handle. You might find yourself unable to deal with the unintended consequences. Who can forget Stripe? The badass leader? There are two movies in this franchise, not including the latest one to be released at a TBD date.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is about one of my favorite evil characters in contemporary horror cinema. Yes, 33 years is not that long ago. Freddy Krueger had all the elements of being terrifying and alluring. His exaggerated mannerisms were a part of his darker psyche. He paid the piper long ago and now he’s wanting to collect through revenge. There are nine movies in this franchise, including the spin-off focusing on Freddy vs. Jason, and the remake in 2010.
Hellraiser (1987) is about a woman who finds it increasingly hard to resist her past lover who escaped the clutches of the Cenobites from hell. He convinces her to restore him back to life by offering sacrifices to the demons. The leader is known as Pinhead. As some deals are made, others are broken. When is the last time you would trust a demon? The answer would be never. There are nine movies in this franchise, not including the latest one to be released this year.
October 6, 2017: Could I Watch These Movies Without Any Guilt, Today?
I’ve done some thinking lately about xenophobia in Hollywood. I’ve seen a few movies riddled with it. Midnight Express demonizes Turkey. Return to Paradise paints Malaysia with browns and blacks. Brokedown Palace portrays Thailand in a poor light. Oliver Stone has since apologized to Turkey and its people. Billy Hayes, whom the movie is based, has taken a firm stance of his love for Turkey and its people through interviews and finally returning there in 2007 to further repair the damage that was done by his book and movie adaptation.
Is watching these types of movies going to prevent people from visiting any of these countries? It wouldn’t for me, but it might for some. I’ve seen these movies over ten years ago, but not once did I think of the secondary consequences and influences it might have on viewers. Sure, it reinforced my standard of not smuggling drugs out of foreign countries. Is twenty years harsh punishment for a first offense drug charge? Yes, to me, it is. Is death warranted for a first offense drug charge? No, to me, it isn’t.
I’m less certain if it is careless for a screenwriter or writer to sensationalize a certain ethnic or racial group or write scenes riddled with fictional violence. I used to think it was careless without any room for exceptions. People write what they know, what is familiar to them, and sometimes the topic is open to great criticism. Is giving harsh criticism to a screenwriter or any writer fair when they write from the heart? I’m not sure anymore.
Because of the current racial tensions, I thought about not recommending these movies. Then, I thought I’m letting someone else dictate what is and isn’t suitable for me to watch, and worse yet, blog. We all have opinions and even more so rampant with social media. I realize not everyone is going to agree with me nor do I want this. People aren’t robots without emotions. We don’t need followers without thinking for ourselves. So, I’m thinking for myself in this blog. I’m kicking the dirt in the air and seeing where it lands.
Despite the xenophobia and criticism, I’m recommending Midnight Express with Brad Davis as Billy Hayes and Return to Paradise with Joaquin Phoenix as Lewis McBride. I watched them for the stories, but what stayed with me through all these years was the performances by these two actors.
Midnight Express is a movie adaptation from the non-fiction book by the same name. The movie was directed by Alan Parker and written by Oliver Stone. In addition to Davis, there are solid performances by John Hurt and Randy Quaid. The Turkish prison guard, Hamidou, is still excellently played by Paul L. Smith. The movie starts with the arrest of Billy Hayes and progresses with his time spent in a Turkish prison. You see how he deals mentally and physically with his incarceration even during those times when all hope seems gone. Despite the movie being released in 1978, it’s a commentary even today of not going into another country without being fully aware of their culture and laws. The only downfall given by Roger Ebert from Chicago Sun-Times was feeling sorry for Billy Hayes. I was one of the viewers who did feel sorry for him so this reinforces why I’m recommending this solely based on Brad Davis’s performance.
Return to Paradise is a movie written by Wesley Strick and Bruce Robinson. It is a remake from a French movie called Force Majeure from 1989. The movie was directed by Joseph Ruben. The movie is about three friends who visit Malaysia on vacation, and because of their carelessness one is arrested and sent to Malaysian prison. The acting by Vince Vaughn and David Conrad is not on the same caliber as John Hurt, but they served a necessary purpose. Besides the question of whether Lewis McBride will be released from prison, it includes what would you do for your friend. This is when talk flies out the window, and action is the only thing having importance. The major downfall given by Peter Travers from Rollingstone were the B-rate suspense tricks used in the movie. I was one of the viewers who was moved by the emotionally charged ending so this is why I’m recommending this solely based on Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. He’s only gotten better in his roles since this one in 1998.
And there you have it, my long overdue two movie recommendations, and yes I could watch them again.
August 28, 2017: Movie Recommendations/Reviews
I decided to rent a few movies this weekend, Lost City of Z and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, because a part of me wanted to see if they deserved the lack of interest during opening weekend and long after they left the theater. My overall general conclusion for both movies is no, but I do have a few suggestions along the way I believe would have made them better. If you haven’t seen the movies yet, and can tolerate the minor mishaps I comment on, then by all means, watch them because I did and survived.
This blog contains general spoilers for those not familiar with these stories.
I watched Lost City of Z first, on a Friday night, when I was boned tired. It probably wasn’t the greatest time to watch a 141 minute long movie, but I did it anyway. The story is about the British explorer among his many other titles, Percival (Percy) Fawcett, and his repeated attempts at discovering a lost city in South America he believes exists. His explorations take him deep into the Amazon where insects and animals are not the only ones to prove dangerous. The script, written by James Gray, is based on the book by David Grann, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. It is also directed by Gray. The main cast is Charlie Hunnam as Percy Fawcett, Robert Pattinson as Henry Costin, Angus Macfadyen as James Murray, Sienna Miller as Nina Fawcett, and Tom Holland as Jack Fawcett.
A movie of this magnitude would have done well for itself by splitting it into two to capture adequately all the parts of the story or going back into the script and focus on one or two parts of the story. The heart of this movie should have focused on exploration and survival meaning the majority of the story should have concentrated on Fawcett’s time in the Amazon.
The veins found in the arms and legs of any story are important, sub-stories so to speak, but were too haphazardly thrown into the main story to make it beneficial. The letter correspondence between Fawcett’s wife and himself could have proven to be touching, but all you really got was voice over in the end. I’m not expecting love letters to be written between Percy and Nina because that is not what this story is about nor do I think this was in his nature to write these kinds of letters. I mean here was a husband and father who was away from his family where he missed significant parts of raising his children. It might have given him a little more depth to know the part of him that was not steeped in his desire for exploration did exist. Movies are known to sometimes stray from actual events in order to improve it.
The scenes relating to the World War I did not advance the story in any meaningful way although I’m more undecided about the debates over the authenticity and purpose of his missions. I think it would have been just as sufficient to have a single antagonist before he went on his first mission as seen in the movie to comment on the sentiment during that time when non-white people were viewed as savages. I wasn’t turned off by his speech later in the movie, but it wasn’t a make it or break it scene for me.
There’s quite a of span of time between his missions so titles referring to a timeline, dates in particular, would’ve been helpful. This coupled with smoother transitions between the locations in the Amazon to his home in England would have made it appear less choppy and more tolerable.
The last scene of the movie was neither here nor there for me. It didn’t have the same kind of impact as the other parts of the movie. I think because it didn’t solely focus on Fawcett and his son, Jack, and what was clearly obvious to them. By the end of this film, I realized I could’ve had a little more insight into the workings of Percy Fawcett as a person. I wonder how it would’ve played out had Brad Pitt or Benedict Cumberbatch took the role instead. I’m not saying this was sub-par because of Charlie Hunnam because it was far from it. He’s a good actor with adequate range so yes, I recommend this movie.
(87% Rotten Tomatoes/6.7 out of 10 IMDb)
I watched King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, on a Saturday morning, when I was still bone-tired. This too proved to be somewhat of a challenge, but not as much due to the pacing of it, and it was 126 minutes. The story is about the son of King Uther Pendragon, Arthur, who sends him away in a boat to safety, after he is attacked by his own brother, Vortigern. It is in the brothels where Arthur is raised and ultimately finds his true power and calling when he reaches adulthood. It is directed by Guy Ritchie who also had a hand in the script along with several others, and for all intents and purposes it is a “not think too hard” kind of movie. The main cast is Charlie Hunnam as Arthur, Jude Law and Vortigern, Eric Bana as Uther, Djimon Hounsou as Bedivere, and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as The Mage, Aiden Gillen as Bill, and Tom Wu as George.
This is a typical Guy Ritchie film with traits of a catchy soundtrack and scenes where he likes to incorporate time sped up or replaying how things actually happened. I was not bothered by the CGI effects although this bothers some people immensely. I can suspend reality and say those are actually gigantic elephants destroying castles and bridges or those look like actual sets even though I know they are not.
The story continues with Arthur finding friendship and loyalty among his peers including a prostitute named Lucy. He protects her until she needs no more protection, but soon finds his own life is in peril. I personally liked the character of Vortigern. He seeks the one thing he will never have when compared to Arthur and that is power and how he gets his power. The gross looking sea creatures that entice whoever will listen to them were also my favorites.
Arthur escapes the fate brought upon him by Vortigern when he receives help from The Mage. He then goes through rejection and attraction to the sword until he finally accepts his fate his father bestowed upon him when he died. The power of the sword, Excalibur, is realized during a fight when all seems lost. There are more chase and fight scenes to carry the movie to a satisfactory end. It includes enough sorcery to advance the story. The ending is predictable due to the story, but even without knowing the full story, it is set up where you can deduce what will happen. Arthur goes on to fight his uncle, Vortigern, for the crown. The sword finally belongs to him, and he is surrounded by his most loyal friends. He bears the crown his father once wore and starts the next chapter of his life.
(28% Rotten Tomatoes/7 out of 10 IMDb)
If you didn’t stop reading this blog, then you actually got to the good or should I say bad when compared to other King Kong movies. While I enjoyed watching King Kong in action and the gigantic animals and insects, it was the dialogue that was hard to ignore. John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, and the rest of the cast did as best they could with the material. Maybe, I am being too harsh. It is another “not think too hard” movie. The best part was seeing Miyavi, the actor who did such a great job in Unbroken, and who I hope is in more movies and not just for two minutes. If you want to see this solely based on the fact you like King Kong, then watch it. If you are expecting something else, then don’t.
July 8, 2017: JJ Feild Quote
July 4, 2017: Cillian Murphy Quote
July 3, 2017: Movies Coming to a Theater Near You
There a few movies I’d like to see in the theater being released this year. I’m not sure I will get a chance to see them all, but here is a brief description and its major cast.
Dunkirk is about Allied soldiers who find themselves surrounded by the German Army during World War II. It is written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy who I think are phenomenal actors. I’ve already watched Peaky Blinders twice now. It also has Kenneth Branagh (the actor who has done many Shakespeare movies and convincingly I might add) and Harry Styles (I only know him for being the ex-boyfriend of Taylor Swift and singer of One Direction that I’m not into, but hopefully this movie will catapult him into a different spotlight).
Battle of the Sexes is about the infamous tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the 1970s. It is written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It stars Emma Stone (The Help and Birdman) and Steve Carrell (Can it get any better than 40 Year Old Virgin or Incredible Burt Wonderstone?) as well as Elizabeth Shue (forever tied to The Karate Kid) and Sarah Silverman (hilarious in A Million Ways to Die in the West).
Wind River is about an FBI agent who tracks a killer with the help of a game tracker on an Indian Reservation. It is written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. He’s the actor who played the Deputy in Sons of Anarchy. He is responsible for writing Sicario, which is a great movie from start to finish, and Hell and High Water, which I have to still watch. It stars Jon Bernthal (Fury and Sicario), Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister to the Olsen twins that starred in Godzilla), and Jeremy Renner (anyone remember his role as Jeffrey Dahmer? Or the more notable role in Hurt Locker?).
The Mountain Between Us is about two people stranded after their plane crashes. They must come together to survive when they realize no one is coming to rescue them. It is an adaptation from the book by Charles Martin and scripted by J. Mills Goodloe. It stars Kate Winslet (Red headed beauty in Titanic and Orange haired crazy in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Idris Elba (Thor, Prometheus, and Pacific Rim). It also has Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding and The Family Stone) and Beau Bridges (Max Payne and Bloodline).
Gook is about the time right before and during the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Two Korean American brothers form an unlikely friendship with an 11 year old African American girl. The brothers find themselves having to band together to defend the store with the girl during the riots. It is written and directed by Justin Chon. It stars Simone Baker (American Horror Story), Justin Chon (Twilight series), Curtiss Cook Jr. (Bull), and David So (You Tube).
Thor: Ragnarok is about the fictional superhero who fights for his own survival on the other side of the universe, and must also save the Asgardian civilization from a new threat, Hela. It is directed by Taika Waititi and written by Eric Pearson and story by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Stephany Folsom. It stars Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek), Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris and another ex of Taylor Swift), and Cate Blanchett (the spell bounding portrayal as Queen Elizabeth). It also includes Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Mark Ruffalo, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Ferdinand is about a bull mistaken for a dangerous beast. He is captured and is determined to return to his home with the help of a team of misfits. It is an adaptation from the book by Munro Leaf. It is directed by Carlos Saldanha. It stars Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire and Nurse Jackie), Kate McKinnon (SNL who does a superb job portraying Justin Bieber), and David Tennant (menacing as Kilgrave in Jessica Jones).
Rotten Tomatoes Says…
Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Films