Sunday, September 30, 2012

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson

Based on the novel, "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair

Currently #176 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Ciarán Hinds, Sydney McCallister, David Willis, Kevin J. O'Connor, David Warshofsky, Hans Howes and Russell Harvard

One of the greatest omissions of all time is that I have never seen P.T. Anderson's epic, There Will Be Blood. Okay, backpedaling. I saw maybe the first ten minutes of the movie and stopped, because the silence. After seeing and loving 127 Hours, it had long silences. I thought it was high time that I see this movie again. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won two for Best Cinematography and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. I enjoyed the movie, but it's not flawless.

During the height of the Gold Rush and Oil Boom in the turn of 20th century, Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) hit the big time by striking oil. He turns into a oil mogul that is buying up land to build oil derricks to pump out the oil. One day, Daniel is approached by a boy, Paul Sunday (Dano) about a possible place where oil is found near the family ranch. Daniel goes to where the oil source might be and tries to buy the land from the father, Abel (Willis) with a stipend to donate a large sum of money to church where son, Eli (Dano) is a minister at.

Sometime when I movie comes around, I would think that it is clear Oscar bait. I have that perception about a lot of movies. This movie feels like that to me. You have Day-Lewis who gives a grandiose performance. Has he ever given a bad performance? If you name one, I will eat crow. I understood why Plainview did some of the things that he did. He did some monstrous things, because I understood the motivations behind them. It was not like that in Match Point where similar actions happened. Daniel did deserve his Oscar.

The movie feels very epic in scope, but I felt that the movie was too long. One strike against the movie would be the pacing. There are some superfluous scenes that needed to be cut out.

The another strike against the film is Paul Dano. I have to say that I didn't understand why P.T. Anderson decided to make Dano play Paul and Eli where you see that Daniel was not surprised to see Eli looked like Paul. Paul was never mentioned again until the end of the movie. Dano was not in the same league as Lewis. It was a David vs Goliath situation and Goliath bitch slapped David. Dano was wooden in the movie. I didn't understand he let the person that was going to be Eli, Kel O'Neill go. I thought it was a big mistake.

My Rating

Saturday, September 29, 2012

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta (2006)

Directed by James McTeigue

Screenplay by Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski

Based on the comic book series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Currently #166 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Graves, Ben Miles, Eddie Marsan and Roger Allam

I have no idea why it took me so long to watch V for Vendetta. It was a LAMB Movie of the Month as far as I know. It had to me take this blog-a-thon to make me finally see it. After the credits rolled, it made me feel I should be a martyr.

Set in a future Britain, where the government had taken over the daily lives of the citizens. Being more of a dictatorship than anything else. Chancellor Adam Sutler (Hurt) does not want subversiveness under his rule. There is one person that seeks to bring him down. It is shadowy figure with Guy Fawkes mask on known as V (Weaving). V rescues a woman, Evey (Portman) from being taken in by the secret police known as the Fingermen. After the rescue, V lets Evey watch as he bombs a building called the Old Bailey which set off a chain of events to shape the future of the colony.

I knew going into the movie that the film will obvious allegories to the Third Reich, concentration camps, Communism, etc. That's all fine and good. I didn't know that there was another aspect to V's plan that came into light. It sucked me into the story more. I wanted to standing beside V as the dictatorship crumbles from within.

I completely forgot to it was around the time that the group, Anonymous came into being as they declared war on Scientology. This movie has ignited a movement of protests and activism that made governments falls. They say that we are free, but we are not free. I don't want to spout off my opinions about society, because it might get me in trouble. I will stop it right there.

My Rating

Friday, September 28, 2012

Match Point

Match Point (2005)

Written and directed by Woody Allen

Stars:  Jonathan Rhys Meyers,  Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton and Brian Cox

The number of Woody Allen films I have seen can be counted on one hand. I know! I know. I wanted to at least one of his most popular films on the list, Match Point. Being known for silly comedies and light dramas, this is a serious departure for him. The film was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. I must say that I have to call fault with this film.

Chris Wilton (Rhys Meyers) is a former tennis pro that looking to something to fill his time. He decides to teach learns at the local country club. There he meets Tom Hewett (Goode) that is one of his students. The two men quickly bond over their shared love for opera. Out and about, Chris becomes involved with Tom's sister, Chloe (Mortimer). Just as their relationship becomes serious, Chris instantly falls for an American actress named Nola Rice (Johansson). The problem is that Nola is engaged to Tom and things become very... complicated.

People were making a big deal that this was Allen's first thriller. Seeing the trailers for the film at the time of its release, I thought it was going to be like Fatal Attraction. It's not that much. I was enjoying the film when the last thirty minutes of the film had me scratching my head. Really? I thought that it was ludicrous and defies logic. I can't go into details without spoiling the movie for you.

I enjoyed the cast. Something about Johnathon Rhys Meyers have a slightly fey vibe off that I can't shake. I can understand why Chris wanted to be with the Nola character. She is an alluring woman that gives off those signals to take me right here and now. At first, I thought the movie was going to a love rectangle as I call it, but it wasn't. I couldn't understand the motivations of the Chris where he had opportunities served on a silver platter and he didn't take it. I was hard to believe.

My Rating

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Der Untergang

Downfall (2004)

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel

Screenplay by Bernd Eichinger

Based on the books, "Der Untergang: Hitler und das Ende des Dritten Reiches" by Joachim Fest and "Bis zur letzten Stunde" by Traudl Junge and Melissa Müller

Currently #105 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler, Heino Ferch, Christian Berkel and Thomas Kretschmann

This movie has been in the national consciousness ever since the numerous Downfall parodies popped up on YouTube over the past couple of years. I thought that the movie Black Book was this movie for some reason. The movie was nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I fully expected to love this movie, but I felt like I was sucker punched.

The events of the movie take place during the last moments of World War II when the Russians are advancing into Berlin. Adolf Hitler (Ganz) is stuck with the decision to either leave Berlin for his safety or stay and die at the bitter end. The story was supposed to be the perspective of Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge (Lara). If you say so.

I wanted to enjoy this movie very much. The thing is that the secretary is barely in the movie. She pops up every now and then to talk to some random person and leaves for twenty minutes. There were too many unnecessary subplots that could have been taken out. There was the kid soldiers. The doctors trying to give medicine. Blah, blah, blah.

There are times with the movie that different characters would tell Hitler, Junge or Eva Braun (Köhler) to leave Berlin. It gets really annoying to see, hear and read it repeatedly. It gets on my nerves. Stay or die, you assholes. I'm done.

My Rating

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Big Fish

Big Fish (2003)

Directed by Tim Burton

Screenplay by John August

Based on the novel, "Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions" by Daniel Wallace

Currently #238 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Marion Cotillard, Ewan McGregor, Alison Loman, Helena Bonham Carter, Matthew McGrory, David Denman, Robert Guillaume, Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito

I have been hesitant in seeing Big Fish. Tim Burton has been delivering the same type of movie for over twenty years. The spooky, goth movies are getting on my nerves. This movie is different. It is more fantastical film that usher his hyper colorful films Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland. The movie was nominated for the delightful score by Danny Elfman. At first, I didn't like the movie, but by the end I loved it. Who woulda thunk?

Will Bloom (Crudup) has a strained relationship with his father, Edward (Finney) ever since he was born. His father would tell elaborate stories about the day his son was born, the day Edward meet his wife, Sandra (Lange), etc. Things take a turn for the worst when Edward is dying of cancer. Will and his pregnant wife, Josephine (Cotillard) travel back home to be at his side. Will tries to pry the truth his father. Edward talks about when he was a young Edward (McGregor) meeting a cast of people that he has impacted in some form of fashion.

In the beginning of the movie, I thought I was going to hate this movie, because Edward was telling these outlandish stories. I was in the camp of the Will character. He wanted to get to know the real Edward, not the one from the stories that he tells. As the movie went on, I began to fall in love with the movie. I don't know. The last thirty minutes of the movie, I was a mess. The ending caught me completely off guard. I knew what was going to happen, but something triggered inside me.

This movie showed that an ordinary person can lead an extraordinary life. It doesn't have to fantastical as the stories Edward tells, but you could affect all the people that you have come to know.

My Rating

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Secretary (2002)

Directed by Steven Shainberg

Story by  Steven Shainberg and Erin Cressida Wilson

Screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson

Based on the short story by Mary Gaitskill

Stars: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Jeremy Davies, Stephen McHattie and Leslie Ann Warren

I had a very long and hectic day that took me out of the house for most of the day. I had no time to watch a movie. Now, that I am rested I watched Secretary. This movie is like the prequel to that Fifty Shades of Grey movie that is sweeping the country for some reason. This movie is very disturbing love story.

Lee Holloway (Gyllenhaal) is mentally disturbed woman that is released for the looney bin when she accidentally tries to kill herself. Coming back home she feels isolated from her family. She tries to develop her secretarial skills. Lee finds a want ad about an enigmatic lawyer simply named Mr. Grey (Spader) hires her. Things around the office turn to the S&M side when Mr. Grey falls for Lee after he sees that Lee is a cutter.

The dominant/submissive relationship is an interesting topic to put in a movie. When I heard about the movie when it came out, I thought why would a woman be humiliated by her boss? Knowing that Lee is not right in the head, it kinda makes sense. She is a self-harmer and the pain from spankings replaces her need to cut herself. She trades in one addiction for another. That aspect of the film is fascinating to watch.

I'm not saying that this is a great movie. It seems like everybody is the movie have a couple of screws loose. You have Lee's alcoholic father, Burt (McHattie) becoming physical towards her mother, Joan (Warren). Joan has a weird attachment to Lee that seems stalkerish. There is also Lee's love interest, Peter (Davies) that seems not right.

My Rating

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Directed by Wes Anderson

Screenplay by Wes Anderson & Owen Wilson

Stars: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston,  Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover and Alec Baldwin

Let's get this out of the way. I am not the biggest fan of Wes Anderson's films to say the least. I did not have that many options so I tried to sit through this movie. Even though this movie was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar, I was over the movie when it started.

Alec Baldwin narrates the tale of the Tenenbaum family where Etheline (Huston) asks her husband Royal (Hackman) to leave. He checks into a hotel for 22 years and he is being kicked out. So he tries to get sympathy by insinuating that he is dying. His grown kids, the business mogul Chas (Stiller), genius playwright adopted daughter Margot (Paltrow) and tennis champ Richie (L. Wilson) are in a slump. Some other stuff happened. Who cares!

The quirkiness of Anderson's movies really bother me to no end. The only anomaly was Fantastic Mr. Fox. This is why I cannot watch Moonrise Kingdom. I want to have something different from Mr. Anderson. I watched this movie to get something written on here. I could not care less about this film. Everybody being so emo and all that shit. Whatever.

My Rating

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Best in Show

Best in Show (2000)

Directed by Christopher Guest

Screenplay by Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy

Stars: Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Don Lake, Ed Begley Jr. and Fred Willard

After having a awful day at work, I wanted to come home to movie that could take me away from my life. I have never seen a mockumentary before in its entirety. I have an aversion to dogs so the idea of this movie would make me not like it. I have to say the people should have been in the show.

Set in the world of competitive dog shows, handlers from across the country flock to the Mayflower to compete to see who wins best in show. The dogs seems like the normal people onscreen than the humans. You have the yuppie couple Hamilton and Meg Swan (Hitchcock, Posey) who is trying to coral their jumpy show dog while they are bickering with each other. There is the frumpy couple Gerry with the two left feet and the woman that get around Cookie Fleck (Levy, O'Hara) that has not much money. The hillbilly Harlan Pepper (Guest) thinks that his bloodhound will win first prize. The gay couple Stefan Vanderhoof and Scott Donlan (McKean, Higgins) wants to make sure that their shih tzu wins with flair. Lastly, you have vivacious Sherri Ann Cabot (Coolidge) has a two time champion poodle that is two timing her husband with her handler, Christy Cummings (Lynch).

You would think that a movie that has a large cast, it would be convoluted. It was not. I like the journey that the couples were going on. Some of these people are bonkers and should be committed. It's nice to watch train wreck play out onscreen. As the movie was going on I noticed a couple of surprises that I saw a mile away. The ending of the movie was a bit predictable.

Don't get me wrong. I laughed out loud in a couple of moments of the film. I would like to see the movie again. To watch the insanity unfold again.

 My Rating

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Three Kings

Three Kings (1999)

Directed by David O. Russell

Story by John Ridley

Screenplay by David O. Russell

Stars: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Cliff Curtis, Saïd Taghmaoui, Nora Dunn, Jamie Kennedy, Judy Greer, Holt McCallany and Mykelti Williamson

Three Kings is the kind of movie that virtually everyone in the world has seen except for me, because that's the way I was programmed. I always wanted to see it. This is as good of time as any to watch it. I excepted the movie would be on thing and ended up other, which left me confused.

After the first Iraqi War in 1991, a platoon is interrogating a bunch of POWs when it was discovered that one of the prisoners is carrying a piece of paper between his ass cheeks by Conrad Vig (Jonze). Removing the paper and inspecting it, it turns out to be a treasure to find gold bouillon that Iraqi forces stole from Kuwait in the conflict. Troy Barlow (Wahlberg) and Cheif Elgin (Cube) were deciphering the map when Speical Forces Major Archie Gates (Clooney) takes over everything. He devises a plan to recover the missing bouillion and keep a couple of them for themselves. On their way to the bunker, the four men realize that some civilians need their help.

I was very psyched to see this film. I thought that the movie would be a straight up drama, but it turned to be a comedy. Not like funny "haha" comedy. It caught me completely off guard. It was confusing that a film about a non-war would have scenes of violence would then have a conversation about Michael Jackson during a torture scene.

The tone of movie was the biggest issue that I had with the movie. It was trying to take itself seriously, but then it was try to have a jokey moment that comes out of nowhere. I think the "comedy" aspects of the film were not necessary. If the movie was a straight up drama, I would have like the movie more. Some instances in the movie would have had a greater impact on me if that was the case.

My Rating

Friday, September 21, 2012


 π (1998)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky

Story by Darren Aronofsky & Sean Gullette & Eric Watson

Stars: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart, Stephen Pearlman, Samia Shoaib, Ajay Naidu and Kristyn Mae-Anne Lao

The blog-a-thon was a good excuse to see the movies that I want  to see from directors that I love like Tarantino and Aronofsky. I am Aronofsky loyalist that will love every movie that they have done no matter what people think about them. Pi was the only movie of his that I have not seen. This must be the end of days, because there is a Darren Aronofsky movie that I didn't like.

Maximillian Cohen (Gullette) is a mathematical genius that is holed up in his apartment trying to figure out a genius equation to solve the secret of the universe. He has built a super computer in his apartment. He is typing away. On the rare occasion that he goes out, Max meets a Hasidic Jew, Lenny Meyer (Shenkman) that share their love for mathematical equation. There is also this sinister subplot about a corporate crony, Marcy Dawson (Hart) want to get a chip from Max somehow.

I completely understand what Aronofsky was trying to do here. He wanted to make movie that has a genius trying to get that history making solution that could revolutionize society. I get it. He is consumed by it that he would go crazy. Fine. I don't find the movie interesting as whole. Having characters talk about complex mathematical equations is like you are stuck in Calculus class at a remedial school. I didn't care for it to be honest.

I know that Aronofsky received a lot of praise for his directorial debut with a Directing Award from the Sundance Film Festival and a Best First Screenplay at the Spirit Award. Good for you. The black and white choice was fine. I saw some similarities with this movie and his follow-up Requiem for a Dream. It has the same sequences when a character is showing popping pills in the same matter repeatedly. Fine.

I felt completely disconnected to this movie from start to when the disk stopped before the film ended. I guess, that was a sign that to waste more of my time with this movie.

My Rating

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

Based on the novel, "Rum Punch" by Elmore Leonard

Stars: Pam Grier, Samuel L Jackson, Robert Forster, Michael Keaton, Michael Bowen, Chris Tucker, Bridget Fonda, LisaGay Hamilton, Hattie Winston, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister and Robert De Niro

I have no idea why it took so long for me to finally see Jackie Brown. I love Tarantino and his movies. I don't know why I was so hesitant on watching this movie. Tarantino stepped out of the box with this movie. It was an adaptation and not his own work. The movie did not have the usual tropes of the pop culture references, the out of order sequences and the over the top bloody violence. I was surprised that the movie received a sole Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Robert Forster. It should have gotten a couple of more.

Like in any Leonard's novel, the plot will have multiple storylines and plot points. The titular character Jackie Brown (Grier) is a flight attendant working for a low rent airline that is busted with being a drug mule. ATF agents, Ray Nicolette and Mark Dargus (Keaton, Bowen) bust her and want to send her to jail. They want to play ball. They want Jackie to rat her close friend, Ordell (Jackson) to get a reduced sentence. Ordell wants to bail Jackie out of the jail with help of bail bondsman, Max Cherry (Forster). Unbeknownst to all the players, Jackie has a way to get out of her situation scot-free.

Reading the review of the movie, people were not keen on the film. I don't know why. I thought the movie was very tight. The movie was 2 1/2 hours long and I did not get bored with it. The last hour of the movie, I was tense to see the outcome play out. I thought that this movie was refreshing, because it not the typical Tarantino movie. It was linear with layered subplots. I enjoyed the movie breathed. It wasn't rushed. The double crossing and triple crossing was a joy to watch.

The movie is very slick. Robert Forster should not have been the only that should have got an Oscar nomination. I love Pam Grier in the movie. Hearkening back to her days in blaxploitation films it was nice to see her have a role that she could sink her teeth in. I thought maybe the screenplay could have gotten a nod as well. I enjoyed the movie very much. It's shame that it took me fifteen years to see.

My Rating

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sling Blade - The Director's Cut

Sling Blade (1996)

Directed by Billy Bob Thornton

Screenplay by  Billy Bob Thornton

Based on his play of the same name

Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Lucas Black, John Ritter, Natalie Canerday, Dwight Yoakum, James Hampton and Robert Duvall

This movie has singlehandedly solidified Billy Bob Thornton's career as it introduced audiences to an undeniable character of Karl with his simple nature and his sniff upper lip. Awesome. BBT won the Oscar for adapting his play -- which I didn't know -- to the big screen. The movie has the making of a great film, but it has flaws.

Karl Childers (Thornton) is a mentally challenged man that is being released from the mental institution that he spent the last twenty years in for killing his mother and her lover. After he is released, Karl feels lost in the town that he grew up. The director of the institution Jerry Woolridge (Hampton) sets Karl up with a job at an auto repair shop. Karl becomes friends with a boy, Frank Wheatley (Black). Frank wants Karl to live with him, his mother Linda (Canerday) and her abusive boyfriend, Doyle (Yoakum).

I am not gonna bash this movie. I am not going to do that. That being said, the movie felt disconnected to me. BBT was fantastic in the movie. He was unrecognizable in the role. The biggest problem I had with this movie was the pacing. It was a huge problem, because I was engaged with that monologues that Karl was retelling about his past. There are some instances that the momentum grind to a halt and my attention waned. It seriously did.

I wanted to love this movie, but the pacing was its biggest downfall.

My Rating

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Kids (1995)

Directed by Larry Clark

Screenplay by Harmony Korine

Story by Larry Clark and Jim Lewis

Stars: Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Rosario Dawson, Chloë Sevigny and bunch of other motherfuckers that I couldn't care less about.

People in the blogosphere have been talking about the controversy surrounding this movie, Kids. I know that people were saying that the movie is hard to watch. It delves into taboo subjects that would make it controversial when it came out in '95. Seeing the film, I thought I would have a strong reaction to it -- I do -- but not the way you're thinking.

Taking place on a lazy day in New York City, the film follows Telly (Fitzpatick), a nerdy Lothario that has a penchant of deflowering virgins. His best friend, Casper (Pierce) is a alcoholic stoner that says "nigga" a lot. That's bothers me. I will into that later in the review. Telly is finished devirginizing a young girl at the same time, Jennie (Sevigny) receives news that she has tested positive for HIV. The only person she has every been with was Telly. She searches the hangout of their circles of friends to tell Telly the news.

I couldn't believe that Siskel and Ebert gave this movie two thumbs up. It boggles the mind. I will say that I hate the movie. It's not because of the graphic subject matter, but I didn't care about the characters to follow their journey. I check out of the movie at the 45 minute marks. I didn't give two shits about these ignorant assholes.

At the time of its release, it was probably a huge wake up about what a certain demographics is doing with lots of free time on their hands. I don't believe that there was a movie that talk frankly about teenage sexuality in graphic detail. Having the subject of HIV/AIDS was a very big deal at the time. It's still swept under the rug now. It's barely talked about anymore, even though people are dying everyday from AIDS. I'm not going to go off in a tangent.

The main problem I had with this movie are Telly and Casper. I hated the little fuckers. I really did. Telly is a boy that thinks with his dick and not his heads. I didn't care about whatever he did. Casper got on my nerves because he thinks its okay to say the word, "nigga" even though he is whitest white boy ever on the face of the earth. I didn't give a shit about if they smoked weeds, drank, going to first, second or third base with anymore. I wanted it to be over. It was boring to me. You do not deserve my full attention filmmakers. You had to earn it and you didn't. You are the weakest link. Goodbye.

My Rating

Monday, September 17, 2012

Heavenly Creatures - The Director's Cut

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Screenplay by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh

Stars: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison and Simon O'Connor

As I try to expand my expectations on directors that are well known for certain genres, I have heard of Heavenly Creatures. It was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. When I heard that it was based on a true story, you know that movies take liberties with the narrative. The movie is fine, but not memorable.

Taking a different approach about focusing on the friendship between a loner, Pauline Parker (Lynskey) and an English transplant to New Zealand, Juliet Hulme (Winslet). The two seems to bond over their shared love for singer, Mario Lanza and going into their fantasy world. Juliet calls that world, "The Fourth World" where its like heaven without Christians in it. As the girls spend almost all of their free time together, they start to collaborate on a novel that encapsulates their wildest dreams. Both of the girls parents feel like their friendship is going into dangerous territory.

It was surprising to know that this was the feature film debuts for Melanie Lynskey who people know from Two and Half Men and Kate Winslet. I was not familiar with the case of Parker/Hulme, because it took place in the 1950s New Zealand. I don't think anybody knew about it on the Western Hemisphere. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh wanted to retell the story of the girl and not the monsters that they were portrayed in the papers.

I didn't understand how the girls were initially attracted to each other as friends. I have shared interests with other people, that doesn't mean that I should be with them 24/7. I didn't feel their bond come through the way that Jackson and company wanted. It felt forced to me. The fantasy sequences of the film about "The Fourth World" and their made up kingdom of Borovnia were very nice to look at.

It was nice to see the beginning of the two leads careers, but I feel like American audiences would not get the significance of the story and the case.

My Rating

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused (1993)

Written and directed by Richard Linklater

Stars: Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, Milla Jovovich, Shawn Andrews, Rory Cochrane, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Sasha Jenson, Marissa Ribisi, Michelle Burke, Cole Hauser, Wiley Wiggins, Parker Posey, Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey

After a long, boring day of work, it's nice to come home to watch a good movie. Thank you, Richard Linklater for making this movie for me to watch. I wanted to watch this movie for the longest time. I have seen a sliver of the beginning of the movie and that was it. This movie makes me nostalgic for those fleeting days of high schools.

Taking place on the last day of high school in Texas, the movie celebrates the days were you could be completely fucked and you could still have a good time. There is a cast of almost of thousand people in this film. It has multiple plots with Randall (London) trying to decide if he wants to be on the football team when the coach went the players to sign anti-booze and drug policy. There is one when upcoming freshman, Mitch Kramer (Wiggins) trying to stay away from the hazing from O'Bannion (Affleck) and Benny (Hauser).

I don't know how can I explain it. There is something about this movie that makes me wish that I could relive my high school years and cherish them more than a distant memory. People in that situation want to get out so bad, but they don't realize what they are messing out when they have to go out into the real world. I wish I had a time machine to take me back to my high school years. I would have done a lot of things differently like not goofing off in class, getting failing grades, be more social, make more lasting friendships and all that.

This is a movie that I want to own and treasure for its simple beauty. I loved it that much.

My Rating

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Directed by James Foley

Screenplay by David Mamet

Based on his play of the same name

Stars: Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin

I have seen a couple of David Mamet penned movies and sometimes I feel like the movies are just his plays on the big screen. The translation does not go as smoothly as it should. I have only heard about Glengarry Glen Ross from watching the Tonys. The film got its sole Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Al Pacino. The film is good, but it does suffer from David Mamet Translation Syndrome.

Set in the world a real estate brokers, the movie tells the story of the hardworking at a brokerage firm. Times have been tough on the men without selling much property. Their supervisor, John Williamson (Spacey) has a speaker come in to light the fire under their asses, Blake (Baldwin). Blake makes an ultimatum for everybody to sale, sale, sale. The incentive is first place: a brand new car, second place: a set of steak knives and third place: a pink slip. The lacking of quality leads, Shelley Levene (Lemmon), Gary Moss (Harris), George Aaronow (Arkin) and Ricky Roma (Pacino) are trying to save their jobs by any means necessary. Their world changes when the office was robbed. Who did it?

The movie is enjoyable to watch. The acting were fairly solid. I loved the monologues some of the actors gave that were really good. The problem I had with the movie is that Mamet's dialogue doesn't translate that well to the big screen. Who actually says these words? The exchanges between some of the characters felt stiff like the one with Ed Harris and Alan Arkin. Their exchanges felt like they didn't have enough rehearsal time, especially Arkin.

I can understand why Al Pacino was nominated for his role here. Ricky Roma is a character that is very driven and wants to get that great sale. He lives and breathes sales. He will do anything to get that sale, even if he has to lie to a client like James Lingk (Pryce).

My Rating

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Own Private Idaho

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Screenplay by Gus Van Sant

Based on William Shakespeare's play, "Henry IV"

Stars: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, William Richert, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Udo Kier and Tom Troupe

It is rare to find a movie about a gay character or several gay characters that don't go into the stereotypical tropes like in a certain 1985 film that I reviewed and hated. Gus Van Sant was coming off the critical success of Drugstore Cowboy to make this film. I did not know that the movie was based on Henry IV, which I have never read. Hre is another movie that I thought was going to be one thing and ended up another with mediocre results.

Mike (Phoenix) and Scott (Reeves) are a pair of hustlers living in Portland, Oregon. They are basically squatters. They sleep on rooftops and an abandoned hotel with the leader of their group, Bob (Richert). I forgot to mention that Mike is narcoleptic gay hustler which would make him the lowest of low on the chain. He is in love with Scott, who is actually straight and doing hustling to piss off his father, the mayor of city Jack Favor (Troupe). Scott is about to get a substantial inheritance on his 21st birthday. For some reason, Mike wants to find his long-lost mother so Mike and Scott travel on motorcycle to try to find her.

My track record with Gus Van Sant's movie have been mixed. While I loved Good Will Hunting, liked Finding Forrester or Milk and hated Paranoid Park, this movie was nothing to me. I could not see the point of the film.

I thought the movie was going to be a road film coming of age story about two best friends that might be lovers. It wasn't like that at all. It started with strange soliloquies to the direct horizons by Mike. Then it was some weirdness with Bob Pigeon trying to get money or something. The mother subplot came out of left field and was not resolved. Why was it in there? I didn't understand the point Van Sant was trying to make in this film.

I tried to connect with the film by following Mike's journey to be with Scott that he apparently loves that comes out of the blue sitting at a campfire. I was brushed aside. I wanted to get into the road journey that they were on. Not much of that. The movie was not enjoyable to watch. It was like looking inside a glass vase that is empty. That's how I felt watching movie, empty. I got nothing from it. It will probably be gone from my memory as the post goes up. Such a disappointment.

My Rating

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Directed by Adrian Lyne

Screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin

Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Jason Alexander, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Patricia Kalember, Matt Craven, Eriq La Salle, Ving Rhames,  Brian Tarantina, Anthony Alessandro, Macauley Culkin and Danny Aiello

I have a completely different perception of what Jacob's Ladder was supposed to be. I thought the film was going to be a mind trip for all of the movie. I was wrong. Adrian Lyne made something other than a sexually charged thriller. This is a psychological thriller. That's different, right?

Jacob Singer (Robbins) is a Vietnam War veteran living in New York city as a postal worker with his second wife, Jezzie (Peña). He starts having debilitating dreams about his time in the war when his platoon were wiped out, his life with his first wife, Sarah (Kalember) and the death of his son, Gabe (Culkin). Nobody knows what is going on with him, including Jacob himself. The more the dreams persist, the more confused he becomes about what is real and what is not.

At first I was thinking, not another Vietnam War movie, but it's not. The movie is about mental deterioration of a man's psyche. The film was about the effects of war before PTSD was in the vernacular. Jacob was a tortured soul that wants to have peace in his life. As the movie goes along, you see what the ending was going to be. A couple of characters have hinted about the end of the movie. It kinda made the movie anti-climactic in that way.

Tim Robbins gives a very convincing performance as Jacob. A man trapped in his own thoughts. He doesn't know what is real and what is not. He wants to find answers about why is he having the dreams. What do they mean? How can he get rid of them? Is he crazy? Is he hallucinating four years after the incident in Saigon?

I liked the movie overall, but I thought the blatant clues left by several characters ruined the end for me.

My Rating

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Written and directed  by Spike Lee

Stars: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, Joie Lee, Roger Guenveur Smith, Rosie Perez and Samuel L. Jackson

For the longest time, I wanted to see Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, because the movie was supposed to be a mirror to society's view on race relations. This movie was before the Watts riots, but the movie gives similar feelings from the Civil Rights Movement. The movie was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor for Danny Aiello. I feel like the movie gives the same vibe as Crash, which disappoints me a little.

Taking place during a course of a hot summer day, the protagonist is Mookie (Lee) who works as a pizza delivery man at Sal's Famous Pizzeria. It seems that everything is fine when Buggin Out (Esposito) notices that there is no black people posted on the Hall of Fame. He demands that black people would be put on the wall. When the temperature outside gets hotter, the tensions between the different races living in Bed-Stuy flares up. Peoples true colors come out to the surface.

Personally, I thought the reason for setting the rest of the movie's events into motion was kinda stupid. You are eating in an Italian owned restaurant. You have been going there all the time and now you notice that no black people were on the wall. Besides, it is Sal's (Aiello) business. He could do whatever the fuck he wants. This really irked me that that was the jumping off point to set into motion about Radio Raheem (Nunn) with his boombox blasting Public Enemy's Fight the Power or the random neighborhood kids trying to get outsiders out of the neighborhood.

For me, the movie was mixed bag. The final act of the movie was best part of the movie that I cannot spoil for those who haven't seen it. If the last part of the movie was stretched to rest of it, I would have loved the movie. It feels jarring to me. It tries to throw ideas at you to make you feel one way or another. I didn't like much of this movie from the beginning. I don't know what it is. I did not connect with it that I thought I would.

My Rating

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Fish Called Wanda

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Directed by Charles Crichton with uncredited work of John Cleese

Screenplay by John Cleese

Story by John Cleese and Charles Crichton

Stars: Jaime Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, John Cleese, Michael Palin and Tom Georgeson

Seeing that I was doing this "Birthday Blog-A-Thon" that tens of you are following, it was luck that A Fish Called Wanda is on constant rotation on Logo. I have seen bits and pieces of the movie since it was released. I wanted to see something light-hearted seeing all of the dark movies I have seen. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won Best Supporting Actor for Kevin Kline. I thought it was a solid movie despite its ridiculousness.

A team of thieves are going for the their last caper. The leader, George (Georgeson) wants to rip off a place for their precious diamonds so he could retire with his main squeeze, Wanda (Curtis). No the fish, the human. Wanda the fish belongs to the stuttering Ken (Palin). The new person coming into the mix is dim-witted Otto (Kline) who stakes him claim with the one of the team members. When the thieves double and triple cross each other to find the loot to leave the country things get complicated when George is arrested and has to be represented by Archie Leach (Cleese).

Normally, a movie about a bunch of con artists would be very predictable that they would stab each other in the back in order ahead. I know some things that were going to happen when they did, but a couple of things surprised me. The chemistry between Wanda the human and Archie was nice to see. I love the characters quirks like Wanda the human would almost orgasm by foreign languages or Otto trying to be spiritual with Nietzsche but doesn't uphold to his philosophy in the least bit.

Not that many comedies would get love at the Oscar buy Kevin Kline won over Martin Landau, River Phoenix or Sir Alec Guiness. Hmm... I enjoyed Otto very much. He tries so hard to be intellectual, but he is stupid plain and simple. Don't call him stupid, though. There were times that I laughed out loud and couldn't stop. Some jokes or gags fall flat. Maybe because of how the movie has aged in the past 25 years. Jaime Lee Curtis was very alluring and sexy in this movie. If I was wasn't strictly dickly, I would be all up in that.

P.S. There is nothing remotely gay about this movie, except for when Otto tries to distract Ken by confess his "feelings" for him.

My Rating

Monday, September 10, 2012

Less Than Zero

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by Marek Kanievska

Screenplay by Harley Peyton

Based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis

Stars: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr, James Spader and Michael Bowen

I never do this, but I had a sleepless night where I woke up in the middle of night. I couldn't sleep so I decided to see Less Than Zero. I heard that the movie was mirroring RDJ's life when he was coked out of his mind. It was eerie to watch, but I was caught up in it.

This is a tale of three lifelong friends whose lives go in different directions six months after graduating from high school.The straight-laced one, Clay (McCarthy) returns to Beverly Hills by the urging of his model ex-girlfriend, Blair (Gertz). She wants him to come back to town because their friend, Julian (Downey, Jr.) is in deep trouble. Julian is in the throws of a deep cocaine addiction. He is in a five figure amount of debt from a sleazy drug dealer, Kip (Spader). The main mission is try to get Julian clean before its too late.

Being that it was middle of the night, I thought I was gonna fall asleep to this film. It's a film about rich, spoiled kids that have rich people problems. I misjudged the film. Reading more into the film, I heard the movie deviated from the book considerably. The book has a lot of characters that were melded together into the three main characters. I think this was good thing, because I think the viewer would not have cared about the characters if it was a faithful adaptation.

That was a biggest problem I had when I saw The Rules of Attraction.The characters were unlikable that I didn't care if they lived or died. Random shit happens in that movie that didn't make sense to me unless you read the 1987 novel. Less Than Zero the film was more effective that the drama focused on one character's actions effecting everyone else around them.

My Rating

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Platoon (1986)

Written and directed by Oliver Stone

Stars: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Quinn, Mark Moses, Kevin Dillion, Johnny Depp and John C. McGinley

Currently #144 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Platoon is one of those movies that should be seen and studied by any film buff. I had this movie in my DVR for the longest time without seeing it. I thought it was time to see the film. I'm glad I did. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning four including Best Picture and Best Director. I think that the movie should have won more. I want to shower this movie with more awards.

To rinse the taste of the previous movie out of my mind, this movie is not the typical Vietnam War movie. Based on some director Oliver Stone's own experiences in the war, the film follow Bravo Company in Cambodia. Most of the attention is shown on Chris Taylor (Sheen), a grunt that volunteered to go into the service after dropping out of college. He gets ragged on by his fellow soldiers. They are counting the days until they leave. There is trouble within Bravo Company between the asshole Sgt. Barnes (Berenger) and the level headed Sgt. Elias (Dafoe) that might endanger them from the Vietcong.

I have seen a lot of Vietnam War movies. Some are good and some are bad. This movie is a thing of beauty. I have never been so engrossed in a story before. I cared for the characters. I wanted them to survive the countless clashes that they have with the Vietcong. I was happy that Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger were nominated for Best Supporting Actor for their work. They were fantastic in the film. They lost out to Michael Caine. He must have been an acting clinic in that movie to trump these two.

It was weird to see Forest Whitaker pop up, Kevin Dillon from Entourage, Mark Moses from Desperate Housewives and Johnny Depp in a bit role as a translator.

There was one thing that bothered me about this movie is the sound. The sound of the gunfire were very muddled in my opinion. The movie won the Oscar for Best Sound. I guess by 1986 standards, it was good. I thought it was muffled gunfire. That was my only gripe with this movie.

My Rating

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kiss of the Spider Woman

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

Directed by Hector Babenco

Screenplay by Leonard Schrader

Based on the novel by Manuel Puig

Stars: William Hurt, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, José Lewgoy and Milton Gonçalves

I have heard of this movie basically from the Broadway musical version of it. I knew a couple of things about the movie. I knew that one of the characters were gay and that was it. The film was nominated for four Oscars and won the Best Actor for William Hurt. I thought that this movie was disgusting for a gay person to watch.

Detained in a South American prison, the movie focuses on two of the most unlikely cellmates, Luis Molina (Hurt), the flaming homosexual that flails about in kimonos and all that. The other is a political prisoner named Valentin Arregui (Julia). Most of the action takes place in their cell where Luis talks about a Nazi propaganda movies where he talk about the love story in it. The warden (Lewgoy) wants to make a deal with Luis to get him parole that will test his friendship with Valentin.

I thought that the movie would be interesting to me, but it wasn't. I did not understand why this movie was made. Why was the movie nominated for Best Picture? I didn't care about the endless stories Luis was re-interrupting to Valentin. There would be a good story if it focused on the relationship between Valentin and Luis. I didn't care for it. Did I say that already?

When I said that this movie is disgusting for a gay person to see is that in the early 80s, portrayal of gay men were less than flattering. Luis has to be a flaming queen that gets to be called fag or faggot by every character in movie and then he has to die. The fag has to die. It's not a spoiler it was commonplace in the early 80s where a gay man is portrayed as a limp-wristed queen who preys on little boys and spreads disease and should die for his perversion. That is the main reason why I hate this movie so much. It was a waste time. I don't know why William Hurt won the Oscar for this role. I am disgusted with this movie. I'm insulted.

My Rating

Friday, September 7, 2012

Once Upon a Time in America

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Directed by Sergio Leone

Screenplay by Leonardo Benvenuti & Piero De Bernardi & Enrico Medioli & Franco Arcalli & Franco Ferrini & Sergio Leone with additional dialogue by Stuart Kaminsky and uncredited  work by
Ernesto Gastaldi

Based on the novel, "The Hoods" by Harry Grey

Currently #79 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, James Hayden, William Forsythe, Larry Rapp and Joe Pesci

I wanted to see A Soldier's Story for longest time, but the movie was not available by the time of this posting. I decided to see Sergio Leone's epic last movie, Once Upon a Time in America. I saw that it was on the Top 250 of All-Time on IMDb. This is the longest movie that I have ever seen at 229 minutes and I loved almost every minute of it.

It is not a typical gangster film. The film takes place in the turn of the century New York, Prohibition Era circa 1933 and in 1968. Noodles (DeNiro) comes back to the neighborhood where he grows up to see how he was contacted 35 years after he was hunted for being a rat. He seeks refuge to his childhood friend, Fat Moe's (Rapp) bar trying to figure out who is trying to contact him. The movie shifts between the three times periods as you see Noodles meeting Max (Woods) becoming a bootlegger with his other friends, Patsy (Hayden) and Cockeye (Forsythe).

Going into this movie, I thought it was going to be a drawn out boring movie with no pay off. I was completely wrong. There is something about this movie that drew me in. Watching a love letter about grow up in olden times were the mob was getting started to friends making it big in smuggling booze and a broken man trying to put back what went wrong in his life. The movie is not a bloodbath like I thought it would be. The movie is a quiet, introspective take of a gangster film as the glitz, glamor and intrigue is gone. What are you left with after that time is gone?

It was strange to see that Jennifer Connelly makes her film debut in this film. James Hayden who played Patsy died before the movie was released. People pop up in this film that got my mind reeling. I was swept up in the gorgeous visuals of the coastline. Ennio Morricone's score is great.  Being that this is the last film by Sergio Leone, he delivered a stellar movie. A great send off.

My Rating

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Directed by James L. Brooks

Screenplay by James L. Brooks

Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry

Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow, Danny DeVito, Lisa Hart Carroll, Huckleberry Fox and Troy Bishop

Terms of Endearment has been a movie that I have been avoiding for the longest time, because I cannot stand obvious tearjerker movies. Since I'm doing a blog-a-thon, I might as well add this movie to the list. The movie was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won five including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screeplay for James L. Brooks, Best Actress for MacLaine and Supporting Actor for Nicholson.My only thought is why did this movie get so much acclaim?

An overbearing mother Aurora Greenway (MacLaine) tires her best to raise her only daughter, Emma (Winger) the best way that she can. Their relationship is tempestuous to say the least. Emma tries to beak away from her mother's controlling ways by marrying Flap Horton (Daniels) and moving from Houston to his new teaching position in Iowa. With over a thousand miles separating them, Aurora tries to butt into Emma's business over the phone. Emma thinks that her mom needs to have a man in her life and she finds it in her next door neighbor, Garrett Breedlove (Nicholson) who is an astronaut.

Let's get this out of the way, all of the characters are assholes. They are so mean to each other I didn't care what happened to them. I don't understand what was Aurora's problem with Flap. Was it that he was not good enough for her daughter? Was Danny DeVito in the movie fawning for Aurora and that other guy? Why was John Lithgow nominated for essentially five minutes of screen time?

The ending of the movie was spoiled to me over the last couple of years. The characters dwelt in the chain of events  way too long. I was bored with the movie. There was a lot of eye rolling, yawning, getting distracted by other things, etc. The overly melodramatic score by Michael Gore did not help matters. I was like, come on. Really? This movie won Best Picture. Are you kidding me? It must have been slim picking back in '83.

My Rating