Screen Gems For the underappreciated screen treasures you love http://www.lunch.com/screengems <![CDATA[ The Dark Territory of It's a Wonderful Life]]>
There was a brief window of my life when I made a tradition, like everyone else, of watching It's a Wonderful Life during the holiday season. I was just a few years into it, though, when I noticed that there was something about it which really wasn't sitting right with me. I had hit a low point in my life at the time and was contemplating suicide harder than I ever had - it's fairly safe to say only my religious beliefs at the time kept me from going through with it. That, of course, puts me in a situation similar to that of George Bailey, James Stewart's main character. The movies takes us through George's life story, bringing us to the moment the movie begins, when God - yes, THAT God - is commanding an angel named Clarence to talk George out of his suicidal depression. Clarence visits George, shows him what everything would be like of he never existed, and George is magically happy again.

If only real depression were that simple. In real life, there's no Clarence, and George offs himself. The problem with the movie's premise is that George is set up and defined as a man of very significant impact. It's true that George has thwarted dreams that are similar to my own in a couple of ways, but it's difficult to get me to believe George really had it that bad. His dream of traveling the world, after all, is something he surrenders willingly, even if he does do it quite often. George first takes over a business that was threatening to stop writing loans out for the poor because the board heads would only continue doing that if George was running it. I don't have any problems with this; but George gives his college cash stash to his brother Harry, and that's where the problem begins. Harry takes George's cue and then seemingly coasts through his life on a series of implausible breaks. Harry marries into a rich family and becomes a war hero.

George, meanwhile, runs his company and keeps roadblocking his own path. His gestures are admittedly noble: At one point, he gives his honeymoon money to depositors to satisfy their immediate needs. At another, he turns down the job of his dreams when it's offered because his nemesis, Potter, is planning to take over his city.

Throughout all this, by the way, George is able to find the time and means to marry his longtime love and sire four kids. He buys a home, too. During the never-born sequence, George's wife, Mary, ends up being a shy, perpetually single librarian, as if she could never have found a man who wasn't George Bailey and a fulfilling career. (Well, okay, this movie is from 1946, so the career isn't very likely.)

A supremely ironic point that occurs to me right now is that so far, the movie and I are in agreement over the main theme: George is leading a life most people would consider very significant and fulfilling. But that's where our similarities end. George is very well known and beloved throughout his community because of the willing selflessness he shows, constantly sacrificing pursuit of his dreams in order to better the lives of those around him. Everything he did, except getting rejected by the military, was something he gave up by personal choice. He has good friends and a devoted wife and a good home in a nice community.

This is basically magical Hollywood depression. It's sanitized nicely for people who believe a few inspiring words are more than enough to snap anyone out of a funk and return them to their jolly old selves. Just like real depression and real suicidal contemplation, I swear, knowing from experience. It's basically the same, except take away George's communal niceties, flowing opportunities, family, and largely decent job. Strip him of all the status, prestige, and trust he earned from the people around him, and put him in a much more menial situation in which the livlihoods of a lot fewer people depend on his fortunes and you'll start to get the idea.

The one inspirational thing that I did take away from It's a Wonderful Life is actually the life story of Frank Capra himself. He got himself stuck in a life rut very similar to my own, and our ages during this rough patch weren't that far apart. Capra was going through his during much worse circumstances. Yet, he still found a way to overcome his obstacles and eventually become one of the most important directors in the history of American film.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-It_s_a_Wonderful_Life_1947_movie_-48-1004178-242765-The_Dark_Territory_of_It_s_a_Wonderful_Life.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-It_s_a_Wonderful_Life_1947_movie_-48-1004178-242765-The_Dark_Territory_of_It_s_a_Wonderful_Life.html Fri, 27 Dec 2013 20:58:54 +0000
<![CDATA[ What rhymes with "duck" that I can use for this review title?]]>
Even odder was George Lucas as one of the creators of the movie chose this for a movie.  Howard the Duck was a weird 70's comic about a duck who had weird adventures with his friend Beverly.  Howard wasn't the cute kind of ducky either.  He smoked, drank, read smut, Beverly was a nude model and in short, he wasn't exactly a role model but more or a dark horse (err duck if you will this movie loves it's lame duck jokes).  Cut to the 80's and when this movie came, it was with a PG rating, but all of Howard's bad habits stuck around meaning it would be sure to alienate the kids and parents it was targeting yet be too silly for an older audience.

Our not so fine little movie starts with a parallel world where ducks are sentient lifeforms.  Howard comes home to crack open his duck beer and read some duck dirty magazines, when all of a sudden a rumbling comes and pulls him to Earth and lands in Cleveland to save a woman named Beverly, a hottie indie rocker who becomes his friend.  Along the way Howard will meet a dipshit scientist, a man posessed with a monster, angry truck drivers and even work at a sleazy spa.  Sound like wacky fun?  Sure, but one thing.  The script is terrible.

This movie is pretty notorious for a couple of reasons.  While I personally don't mind the voice for Howard, Howard in the comics is supposed to be a shady tough type but he ends up sounding lame sometimes-the voice is more fitting for more comical actions and again, a lot of Howards jokes fall flat.  The movie also rushes into it's conclusion half way through and most of the film stretches out a plan to get Howard back home and stop monsters from invading.

The biggest disconnect is the material.  This is a PG movie, light entertainment and kids stuff but if you haven't noticed, Howard isn't too kid friendly (he even has a duck condom in his wallet) the monsters are scary and gross and all the jokes are of the worst puns or of lame (duck) delivery.  If you thought Arnold in Batman and Robin with all of his puns were bad, you get the same here, but duck jokes.

Howard The Duck is dippy and doofy and has a real disconnect.  A dirty duck stuffed into a kid friendly movie with bad jokes and scary monsters.  If you want some Howard action, pick up the old comics instead.  While I've never read them, they can't be as bad.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Howard_the_Duck-48-1026286-241356-What_rhymes_with_duck_that_I_can_use_for_this.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Howard_the_Duck-48-1026286-241356-What_rhymes_with_duck_that_I_can_use_for_this.html Mon, 28 Oct 2013 03:25:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ An amazing film!]]> Simon Pegg plays a London police officer who is too good at his job. After making the other London police officers look bad, his boss decides to send him to a small town in the country side, where he joins the local police force. However, after some mysterious 'accidents' he find that his new life won't be as boring as he thought.

Full of action and gore, this comedy is definitely one for the horror/mystery fans out there. To get the most out of your viewing experience I recommend playing close attention to the film- as like all Simon Pegg's films the humour is subtle, but brilliant.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Hot_Fuzz_2007_-48-1583243-236888-An_amazing_film_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Hot_Fuzz_2007_-48-1583243-236888-An_amazing_film_.html Wed, 5 Jun 2013 14:48:05 +0000
<![CDATA[The Flintstones Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
Give me a classic Tex Avery or Looney Tunes cartoon instead.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/theremote/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-The_Flintstones-638-1333556-234957.html http://www.lunch.com/theremote/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-The_Flintstones-638-1333556-234957.html Sun, 31 Mar 2013 06:11:49 +0000
<![CDATA[Schindler's List Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
While the overall story was presented in a really good fashion, what I thought hindered this movie a little was the black-and-white cinematography and the use of English-speaking actors speaking in German accents.  The former in that the visuals don't show the true colors of the horrors of the Holocaust, merely making it look like a movie trying to look like a movie from the past (considering Schindler's List came out in 1993).  The latter in that the actors merely speaking in German accents also helped strip away a feeling of realness to it.  Spielberg would have done better had he either had the actors speak naturally or if he went the extra mile and hired German and other foreign actors to play the appropriate roles.

Schindler's List is a good movie, but don't expect it to be the untouchable masterpiece so many say it is.  Personally, I think Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies does a much better job at portraying the horrors of the human condition in war.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Schindler_s_List-13-1553915-234956.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Schindler_s_List-13-1553915-234956.html Sun, 31 Mar 2013 05:59:59 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hated it the first time I saw it, I have watched it about 20 times since]]> What was your first impression? Very negative

 

Plot summary? A new cast of the characters having the same name is introduced with a new storyline. Kirk and Spock forge a friendship under fire.

 

What's the bottom line?

There are some bad moments that will turn off many long-term Star Trek fans but if that happens, watch it a few more times and concentrate on the relationships between the main characters. 

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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Star_Trek_2009_-48-1388523-234671-Hated_it_the_first_time_I_saw_it_I_have_watched.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Star_Trek_2009_-48-1388523-234671-Hated_it_the_first_time_I_saw_it_I_have_watched.html Sat, 23 Mar 2013 03:28:50 +0000
<![CDATA[Zookeeper Quick Tip by FM_ALEX]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Zookeeper-13-1735338-233508.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Zookeeper-13-1735338-233508.html Tue, 12 Feb 2013 09:11:30 +0000 <![CDATA[ GREAT MOVIE FOR KIDS AND GREAT BLU-RAY]]>



ZOOKEEPER

It is no secret that I am a Kevin James fan and I guarantee that I will enjoy any thing that the man is in. I LOVED his show "The King of Queens" and have loved all of his films including his first Happy Madison film "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". Why did I love it you may ask, well because of the cast but also because my little cuz loved it. When you go to see these family films with the kids you can't help but enjoy it when you know they are. Well that same thing can be said here with James's latest Happy Madison flick "Zookeeper".

Now before I go further I want people to really reread that first paragraph particularly about the kids. I have read many a review on other sites that have been negative towards this film, which is fine. People have the right to their opinion but when you say a film is unrealistic then be realistic in your review. This film is for kids and it is obvious, if you go to see a movie with talking animals then I really don't want to hear you say it is unrealistic. It wasn't made for you it is for the kids therefore the family friendly PG rating it has. Also I have read people talking about a super hot woman let alone two getting with Kevin James could not happen. That is funny because he is actually married to a super hot woman, who actually plays his brother's wife in this movie.

The film follows Griffin Keyes [James] who still yearns for his ex but still loves his job. The thing is his job is what broke them up in the first place since she wanted him to do more with his life. He though loves his job and loves the animals he cares for and they love him back. It is with that said they all decide to help out their favorite Zookeeper and help him get his girl back. Of course in doing so they break the code that says they can not speak to humans. Add in that one of Griffin's fellow workers at the Zoo Kate [Rosario Dawson] could be the actual girl for him and a crazy new boyfriend of his ex played by Joe Rogan is in the picture and you have one entertaining flick.

Now like I said before this film will not be for everybody and any one wanting a serious film will be disappointed. This is indeed a comedy and a family friendly comedy at that aimed towards kids. Kevin James is perfect here in his role as the love struck bumbling type guy, he always is. James is a very funny guy because he is completely believable and likeable. I also like the fact that he likes making films geared towards kids so when they come out I can take my cuz and nieces and nephew to his films. "Paul Blart" was a PG film and now this one; add in the animated films like "Barn Yard" and it is obvious he likes to make these types of films. Even his latest MMA inspired film "Here Comes the Boom" is PG [loved that as well].

I would also love to point out MMA legend Bas Rutten voices Sebastian the Wolf and legendary MMA trainer Mark DellaGrotte cameos in this film. With that said I would like to say that Bas did an excellent job as the Wolf and was hilarious. Also MMA commentator/comedian Joe Rogan was exactly the right person for the boyfriend of the ex. He is wonderful funny and evil in this, loved him here. Speaking of the ex Leslie Bibb is excellent here plays the perfect gold digger like character who wants to change him. Rosario Dawson as well is wonderful as always in this film and I have to admit that I love her; she is one of my favorite actresses.

Donnie Wahlberg and Ken Jeong are great as well even though they are not in it as much as I would have wanted, especially Wahlberg. From the entire live cast all the way to the voice actors like Adam Sandler, Stallone and them this was a fun flick. You know what, that is what this is all about, fun. For kids or not this is a fun movie, Kevin James and the cast that was put together and talking animals could be nothing but. Any film in which a gorilla voiced by Nick Nolte goes partying at a TGI Friday's has to be fun. That of course is one of many fun scenes in this film, yeah, a fun flick.

I honestly wish I could find the words to really say how much fun this was but I can't. All I can say is that not only was it entertaining but listening to the kids crack up the whole time was wonderful. Also I don't know if every theater with this did this but all the kids got "Zookeeper" posters with animal facts on the back. Of course my girl, brother and I got one each as well, got to add that to the movie poster collection. So I do recommend this flick because it is good, it may not be the best film ever depending your taste but it is good. Remember the target audience and go in with that mindset and you will like it. Take the kids as well because they will love it.  The Blu-Ray is full of great special features.

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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Zookeeper-48-1735338-233507-GREAT_MOVIE_FOR_KIDS_AND_GREAT_BLU_RAY.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Zookeeper-48-1735338-233507-GREAT_MOVIE_FOR_KIDS_AND_GREAT_BLU_RAY.html Tue, 12 Feb 2013 09:11:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ A pretty remarkable movie, and warm welcome in sci-fi. 84%]]>
STORY

In 1982, a giant alien ship grinds to a halt above Johannesburg, South Africa. The aliens are referred to negatively as “Prawns” for their scavenger-like personalities, and are treated like garbage by both the public and government. The Prawns are forced in a giant slum called District 9, and Multi-National United (MNU) is really interested in getting their hands on the Prawn weapons and engineering them for human use (Prawn weapons won't work on human hands since they're only made to work with Prawns). Wikus van de Merwe, an MNU manager, is putting up eviction notices for the Prawns into District 10, and comes into contact with Prawn fluid that'll turn him into a Prawn himself. He's being hunted down by the MNU and has to make a reluctant alliance with a Prawn named Christopher Johnson if he wants any chance to come back to normal.

CHARACTERS

For the most part, I thought the characters were done really well. Of course, the best character is Wikus (Sharlto Copley). In the beginning, you see him as a mild-mannered jerk (if that makes any sense), and doesn't really care about the Prawns (though he doesn't want Prawns getting killed by MNU troops). The neat part of Wikus is that his character becomes “more human” when his metamorphosis makes him less human, physically-speaking.

The only character that I would say is closer in line to being the more traditional “good guy” would be Christopher Johnson (Jason Cope). Out of the other human and Prawn characters, he's really the only one who doesn't want to fight, but is forced into combat against the MNU near the end of the movie.

The antagonists, such as Colonel Koobus Venter (David James) and Obesandjo (Eugene Khumbanyiwa), are good in their roles. Some may complain that Koobus and Obesandjo lack depth, since they're straight-up maniacs, but I think this works out in their favor since for the former, it would dilute the menacing feeling if he was written to have sympathetic moments. Koobus's menacing vibe is enhanced with his superb tactical skills when in combat, and while he's not going to rival the Terminator in terms of supervillains, he's quite effective as the cold, murderous maniac.

However, I wish that some characters, like Wikus's wife, Tania (Vanessa Haywood), would have been developed a little more.

THEMES/COMMENTARY

District 9 is noted for having quite a few things to say about humanity. As stated earlier, with Wikus, his physical transformation into a Prawn makes him more “human.” Also, this movie takes an interesting stand by showing the aliens in a more sympathetic light than the humans, thought I think the allegories relating to the Apartheid in South Africa are way too obvious. However, I think Neill Blomkamp did a better job at handling the way the humans and Prawns were handled than James Cameron did the humans and Navi in Avatar, since there was some nuance in the characters in D9 to make them more believable. I also applaud Blomkamp for pulling off his message without the use of making the Prawns look like eye candy (more on visuals later).

I also commend Blomkamp for not just portraying the big businesses (MNU) as evil to reflect the “evils of humanity,” but also shows it through the Nigerian warlords (headed by Obesandjo) taking advantage of and brutalizing the Prawns for their advanced weapons.

STORYTELLING

I thought the way D9 was told was pretty interesting, as it's not everyday that you see a sci-fi film with pretty strong action scenes told as a documentary in the beginning and end like one. I thought Blomkamp handled the fusion of documentary-styled film and traditional film well, since I thought the transitions were smooth.

SOUNDTRACK

Clinton Shorter's music for this movie wasn't bad, though I wouldn't put in the same league of the soundtracks in movies like Blade Runner, The Terminator, or Total Recall. However, I'll say that Shorter captured the mood of the gritty settings really well with tribal chanting and other musical elements very fitting to the geographical setting.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Trent Opaloch's cinematography for District 9 is quite good. The cinematography perfectly captures the gritty and violent atmosphere of the Prawns' lives, and I think the idea of it taking place in South Africa is a neat decision, since it's not everyday that you get a sci-fi movie taking place in this part of the world.

APPEARANCE

What really struck me in a positive way is the look of the Prawn technology, especially their weapons. I love how they don't look like totally outlandish guns more akin to a fantasy story in space, but look more like our weapons with a strong “alien” visual aesthetic to them. This also makes them look pretty nasty compared to other alien weapons in sci-fi (such as the Covenant weapons in the Halo games).

The MNU's personnel and equipment were made perfectly in this movie, since they're a potent military force that also reflects the fact that they're a private military entity. This is reflected in the fact that the personnel have a more “casual” look to them than official military personnel and that they don't have access to really powerful weapons like tanks and gunships.

The looks of the Nigerian warlords were done really well for the movie as well. They're shown as more “rag-tag” through their dilapidated vehicles and dwellings.

SPECIAL EFFECTS

The special effects done by Weta Workshop are marvelous. The movie combines “traditional” special effects with CGI, and you hardly even notice that the effects are, well, effects. The mutations on Wikus's body are very convincing (these were make-up effects), and the same can be said with how the Prawns look (the Prawns were made by CGI). I think it's funny that despite the very convincing effects in the movie, the pricetag for them was drastically lower than what was needed to make everything in Avatar.

ACTION SCENES

Despite the fact that District 9 is often labeled as an “action” movie along with its sci-fi tag, there really isn't that much action that goes on. However, the action that does take place is done very well. The movie decides to build up to the action near the end, which I thought was a good thing since it gave them more power.

I thought the scene where Wikus and Christopher storm the MNU building was awesome, as it showed the two armed with Prawn weapons and dishing out some unique deaths to the MNU mercenaries in the building (such as the arc gun making its targets blow up in a shower of blood).

The final action scene near the end was pretty amazing. The MNU and the Nigerian warlords are after Wikus, and donning a Prawn combat exosuit, dishes out some awesome damage against the enemies. The exosuit even uses a magnetic force to collect all the incoming bullets and uses them as lethal projectiles against those trying to harm Wikus, and even fires a mini bomb into someone's head. In one scene, he uses the suit's graviton device to pick up a pig and uses it as a projectile against an MNU mercenary. That scene was one of the most unintentionally funny things I've ever seen. I wish this Prawn exosuit was real, because I'd like to have this thing for home security.

MATURE CONTENT

This is not a movie for the kids since there's a good deal of gore and bad language throughout. There's scenes with both humans and Prawns getting dismembered, blown up, and shot at with plenty of bloodshed. One of the hardest to watch was actually against a Prawn, since MNU scientists start conducting experiments on Wikus's abilities to interact with Prawn weapons, and Wikus is forced into killing a Prawn with one of the guns (which is highlighted by Wikus begging to shoot at the pig carcasses instead).

FINAL WORD

While I wouldn't say that this is quite in the same league of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, or Total Recall, this was a really solid sci-fi movie. In terms of sci-fi movies that came out in 2009, this runs rings around Avatar since it had much better character development and storytelling, not to mention better action scenes. I strongly suggest you at least rent this.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-District_9-48-1382779-231028-A_pretty_remarkable_movie_and_warm_welcome_in.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-District_9-48-1382779-231028-A_pretty_remarkable_movie_and_warm_welcome_in.html Mon, 24 Dec 2012 03:36:23 +0000
<![CDATA[The Jetsons Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> Much like Alvin and the Chipmunks, here's another relic from the past that's deemed a "classic" that I'm not a fan of.  Admittedly, I found this show amusing when I was a little kid, but this show had no lasting value as I aged, and it's so boring to watch as an adult now.

Family Guy made a humorous parody of The Jetsons opening, which is much better than the entire original series.



 

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http://www.lunch.com/theremote/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-The_Jetsons-638-1394625-229457.html http://www.lunch.com/theremote/reviews/tv_show/UserReview-The_Jetsons-638-1394625-229457.html Sun, 28 Oct 2012 03:00:47 +0000
<![CDATA[E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> This movie was a favorite of mine during my childhood and even after watching it for the first time in ten years, it's just as great as I remembered it to be.  One of the best family films of the 80's and one of the landmark films of American cinema, E.T. combined strong special effects with a brilliant soundtrack and believable characters.  Like any good movie, it does a good job at changing tones, as there's scenes that made me laugh my ass off (like E.T. getting drunk) and others that moved me (the end of the movie).

On to the 2002 re-release, I thought it was a joke.  The extra scenes didn't develop any scenes or characters any better, the CGI renditions of E.T. looked out-of-place, and the replacement of certain bits of dialogue and especially the shotguns with walkie-talkies butchered the movie.

I'm glad that Steven Spielberg saw the light recently and for the blu-ray release of the movie, released only the original version from 1982 with only a few enhancements in the background sound to bolster atmosphere.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-E_T_the_Extra_Terrestrial-13-1022045-229377.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-E_T_the_Extra_Terrestrial-13-1022045-229377.html Tue, 23 Oct 2012 02:24:14 +0000
<![CDATA[The Wizard of Oz Quick Tip by BaronSamedi3]]> http://www.lunch.com/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Wizard_of_Oz-1004278-229327.html http://www.lunch.com/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Wizard_of_Oz-1004278-229327.html Sun, 21 Oct 2012 01:09:15 +0000 <![CDATA[ Not quite Hollywood.]]>
After one has seen David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive", the word "Silencio" has become one of the most haunting words in cinema since those spoken by Marlon Brando ("The horror...the horror") in "Apocalypse Now". It might be an irrelevant comparison overall, but both are films that linger in the corners of our minds. Both are less than conventional even if Lynch exists more on his own terms than Francis Ford Coppola ever did (although he is a fine filmmaker; his films can be enjoyed by pretty much all audiences with an attention span). He continues to surprise me as an artist; his films may all contain similar traits, but not one of them is truly "similar" to another. Lynch has enough feelings and images inside of him to inspire a respectable filmography; and so they have.

A black car drives along a winding highway not too far from Los Angeles carrying a mysterious yet beautiful dark-haired woman (Laura Harring). The driver pulls a gun on her and orders her to step out of the car. She seems confused to just what is going on, although it's not until some kids crash into their vehicle with their own and leave everyone but her for dead that we realize how normal things were before. She, still unnamed, walks into the darkness and finds her way to the city. She rests up at a random house. The next day, she is discovered while showering by the occupant of the apartment that she has stumbled to. That person is Betty (Naomi Watts), the daughter of an actress (who owns the apartment but is away on business) who aspires to follow in her mother's footsteps.

The black-haired woman, who identifies herself as Rita after seeing a poster for Hayworth's "Gilda" hanging in the bathroom, is an amnesiac. She can't remember who she really is. She and Betty look for clues in her purse but find only a blue key and a shit-load of money. They hide both of these things in a container that rests in the closet. The two are then engaged in a sort of relationship that keeps getting weirder and weirder; in part because it's so often interrupted by what seem like little vignettes in between, one involving a Hollywood director (Justin Theroux) and his partnership with a pair of mobster brothers (one of whom cannot be pleased by a cup of espresso) who apparently own the next movie he's making, insisting that he cast a woman named Camilla Rhodes.

For the most part, the film balances these two stories; although there are even smaller ones that fit themselves in there somehow as well. For instance, there's an early scene set at the diner called Winkies in which a young man describes to his older colleague a dream that he had involving a frightening man in the back of the diner, which becomes a sort of nightmarish reality by the end of the scene. And then there's a sub-plot involving an amateur hitman who may or may not have ties to the car crash at the beginning of the film. And then there's the Cowboy. It's confusing even for a David Lynch film but better because of it. The labyrinth-like structure of the narrative, which I assure you forms a coherent whole by the end but only if you pay attention and watch it more than once, is appealing to me.

Certain plot details are vital to how you interpret "Mulholland Drive". As usual, Lynch encourages each individual viewer to think for themselves; thus interpretation is key to the enjoyment of the film. Betty and Rita get tangled up in a romantic, sexual relationship somewhere within the last hour; and this is one element that plays a significant role in how I view the film. There's a common theory floating around that Rita is some sort of dream projection of the sort of person Betty would like to be, and that the film itself is all a dream. By the time it was over on my second viewing, I knew that was the theory I'd adopt. I also view it as a satire of this generation's cerebral dreams of fame and fortune; the Betty character is all that materialized into one silly blonde. Watts' performance is uncanny and over-the-top; although in the last act, surprisingly intense as well.

For someone to truly hate the film, I think it would either take too much thought or too little. I didn't allow myself to think too much into "Mulholland Drive" since I'd seen Lynch films before, and so I knew that you simply can't understand everything he puts on screen. You just have to kind of go with it, which is easy for me to do when a director is so passionately emotive and gifted in setting up an atmosphere with unforgettable imagery. "Mulholland Drive" has so much of that. Take, for instance, the employer of the mobster brothers who sits in a wheelchair in a dark room illuminated only by a single light (which shines on him) and talks through a microphone that connects to the inside of a glass cage of sorts, where the employees can speak to him through. And then there's the Rebekah Del Rio scene, which is just sublime. Finally, you've got a superb Angelo Badalamenti score to complete the ambience.

I love David Lynch's technique because he makes films so unconventional, surreal, and beautiful that they cannot be summarized as easily as most films. Is "Mulholland Drive" a mystery? Perhaps, we don't know for sure. Like everything else in the picture, it all depends on how you're seeing it. Either way, Lynch puts YOU in the role of detective and to me, that's more fun than anything else. His images and emotions are so resonant that the viewer - depending on what kind you are - has no problem with what Lynch is asking us to do. This is clearly one of his most multi-dimensional and personal films; a stunning evocation of present day LA and the different vibes that Lynch got, and still gets, from the place that he calls home. If its goal is to be chaotic, destructive, dream-like, disturbing, funny, and ultimately mind-boggling; then it's done the city justice.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Mulholland_Dr_-48-1027481-228842-Not_quite_Hollywood_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Mulholland_Dr_-48-1027481-228842-Not_quite_Hollywood_.html Sun, 7 Oct 2012 01:18:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Still saving Latin. And I still have to ask: what did you ever do?]]>
For the longest time after seeing it for the first time, I loved Wes Anderson's "Rushmore" without knowing what made it so special to me, when compared to say, the rest of his films that followed (and the one that preceded it, "Bottle Rocket"). I absolutely adored the film for its whacky sense of humor, quirky and flawed characters, and elaborate visual style; and it snuck its way, somehow, into my Top Ten list (if there ever was one). Until now, I haven't been able to put my finger on why I adored this film so much. What set it apart from the rest of Anderson's fantastically off-color tragicomedies? Today (September 4, 2012) I watched it for the first time in over a year. When it was over, I started to understand a lot about myself and why the film had hit so close to home for so long without me even knowing it.

I think it has to do with some recent changes I've been going through. Before I get into those, I'll do my best to describe the simple yet charming story of the movie. The title refers to the fictional Rushmore Academy, where the film's protagonist, Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), attends school. Max is a sharply dressed young man who carries himself...interestingly. But however appealing his looks may be, the fact of the matter is that Max is not a very good student; instead making time for extra curriculum activities that would easily overshadow his school-work any day. He is threatened with expulsion by the headmaster of the academy, Mr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox).

Up until now, Max has simply been getting by. Few things have intruded on his life. One day he meets Herman Bloom (Bill Murray); a wealthy industrialist with two kids who also attend the academy and comes to speak at the school one day, and the two come to admire one-another. You get the feeling that maybe Herman envies Max (as he says, he is a "sharp little guy" and "seems to have it pretty figured out", if you recall), given that his life and marriage are on the rocks and he's lost. Their relationship is threatened when Max happens upon an elementary school teacher who has just started teaching on the Academy grounds; a Mrs. Cross (Olivia Williams).

It's clear from the moment he sets eyes upon her that Max will come to be infatuated with Mrs. Cross; but we also know that she is too morally decent to sleep with a kid who is at least twice her age (he's fifteen). She is more likely to end up with Bloom; and when the three start doing stuff together, she sort of does; although we get the sense that it's a pretty empty and almost strictly sexual relationship, which is enough to disturb Max. He acts out in bizarre ways and eventually gets himself expelled from the Academy and placed in a public school - where he meets a pretty girl named Margaret Yang (Sara Tanaka) who seems to like him.

One thing I've always known for sure is that there's a little bit of Max in all of us. I certainly see a lot of him in me. I've never been the academic achiever that is my sister, which sort of makes me the dark horse of our family, I guess. My grades are competent, and at this rate I'll do fine (unlike Fischer), but I've always felt that it's more important to devote your time to the things you like over the things you are forced to accept. In my case, movies, music, and art in general. Those are the things that speak a similar language to the one that I do. I have my speculations about Max; maybe he has Asperger's Syndrome (which I have been diagnosed with). In his case, there is no diagnosis and there has been no confirmation but he shares a lot of the common Aspie traits. He lives in his own little world and does his own little things. And like him, I am also more attracted to older women because I feel they are worth more in intelligence and often times even in beauty. Women my own age tend to not be women at all; and more-so just girls, which I find boring.

This is quite possibly the best film I've seen that attempts to present - albeit maybe unintentionally - the "Aspie State of Mind", if you will. The attitude of the film, from the outstanding soundtrack composed of mostly artists from the 60's (think Donovan, The Kinks, and the Rolling Stones, as well as original music by Mark Mothersbaugh) to the off-kilter humor and performances from the stellar cast (this is my favorite Schwartzman character), reflects what I live with every day. A little bit of the extreme, a little bit of the intellectual, a little bit of the absurd, and a little bit of the surreal. In this way, I made a very strong connection with this film; a connection that I never had or knew was possible to have. Not only does it contain some of the funniest scenes I've seen - who can forget the dinner scene, oh God - but it also ends on a note that is so emotionally resonant that it left my head spinning. Films this good should not be possible.

But of course, Anderson's style is not for everyone. The screenplay by Anderson and writing partner Owen Wilson is clever and quirky without seeming needy, but the best jokes are mostly human and awkward and even uncomfortable, thus they will go over some people's heads. It's a love it or hate it film, and I find that's the same with most of Anderson's films. But it means more to me than most films could ever hope to. Anderson's worlds are colorful in both character and in rich emotion. While most writers and directors want to be loved for being different, Anderson has invested himself in these worlds and these characters, and so have I. This film is beautiful, and I'm always happy to return to the Academy once in a while; even more-so now that I have an even deeper reason and purpose for doing so.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Rushmore-48-1024883-228368-Still_saving_Latin_And_I_still_have_to_ask_what.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Rushmore-48-1024883-228368-Still_saving_Latin_And_I_still_have_to_ask_what.html Sun, 16 Sep 2012 19:11:00 +0000
<![CDATA[ Simply classic Alfred Hitchcock. Great stuff.]]>
**** out of ****

I don't recall ever coming across a house without windows. The window in itself is a powerful invention; often found in households around the world because people like a room with a view. For instance, from my bedroom window I can see not only my backyard, but also that of the people who live just one neighborhood up from ours. It's interesting, because these people could be working in their garden, and I could be watching; yet in the daytime, they'd never notice, for there is no shining light coming from my room to illuminate my activity and silhouette presence when the greatest light source of all is still active. Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart), the prime protagonist of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window", lives in an apartment complex and has arguably a much better view of the lives of others from his place than I do.

He sees so much; the pretty girl across the way who does ballet, the dog that snoops around in the businessman neighbor's garden, the lonely pianist with the clear glass window, and the sad older lady who lives down below. Jeff, a professional photographer, is hurt on the job and breaks his leg, confined to his apartment for at least a few months; which explains why he has the time on his hands to observe the world around him. This is how he spends most of his days. Occasionally, he's visited by his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his soon-to-be-wife Lisa (Grace Kelly), with whom Jeff is having second thoughts in regards to their marriage, which has yet to be planned or even confirmed (but it seems inevitable).

Jeff is stressed but not tired. He usually falls asleep to the sounds of the musician next-door and the sights across from his apartment, waking up with either his pair of binoculars or his camera in hand. One day, he's looking about with the zoom lenses on the camera and spies his neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) washing a knife and a handsaw. Previously, he'd seen Thorwald and his bedridden wife fighting verbally and physically. Of course, this leads Jeffrey to become suspicious of his neighbor's activity. The deeper he digs, the more convinced Jeffrey becomes that he's witnessed the aftermath of a cold-blooded murder.

As with most Alfred Hitchcock pictures, "Rear Window" utilizes slow-burn to the fullest effect possible. Hitchcock conjures up suspense by keeping Jeff isolated and grounded in his apartment for the entire film, with him being the primary focus (he sees all). His descent into obsession is very intoxicating, and while it's an undeniably slow descent, Hitchcock is such a talented filmmaker in making it seem to go by so fast. As usual, there is also a great payoff; in the form of a final twenty minutes so impeccably tense that they warrant full marks for the film on their own.

But of course, Hitchcock's film is not only a fine suspense picture, but also a richly thematic labyrinth of endless intrigue. Obviously, this is a film about voyeurism and one of the most influential at that. I don't consider voyeurism as a genre in itself, but a lot of earlier films are about the disturbingly complex relationship between the viewer and the screen; such as "Peeping Tom" and "Blow-Up". These films involve characters with cameras who assume a similar role as the audience; we are mere spectators to the show. There's a quote that sums up this theme in particular, spoken by Lisa: "We've become a generation of peeping toms." Indeed Lisa; we have. And I couldn't love it more. Cinema is a gateway for us all to be voyeurs, but free of the guilt (well, almost free of it). Maybe we are Jeffrey; and the courtyard that he sees through his various tools of voyeurism is the screen.

Sound also plays a big role in the film's thematic resonance. The music is generated from the musician who plays his piano night and day (although mostly day). Therefore, the music is heard by everyone who lives in the apartment complex, including Jeffrey. There's the suggestion that they all act in their own way according to the music, which also serves as an important plot element towards the end. Sound has always been important in Hitchcock's films. As usual, it could even be considered minimal; but not in creating the success that ultimately is "Rear Window". This is quite simply a perfect thriller; we've no doubt seen our share of cheap imitations and knock-offs, but nothing hits the spot quite like a little Alfred Hitchcock to spice up your otherwise boring day. He is God-like in how he commands his actors and his dramatic build-up. I've never seen anything like it and I don't suppose I ever will again. But that's only appropriate.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Rear_Window-48-1016424-227157-Simply_classic_Alfred_Hitchcock_Great_stuff_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Rear_Window-48-1016424-227157-Simply_classic_Alfred_Hitchcock_Great_stuff_.html Fri, 17 Aug 2012 18:06:48 +0000
<![CDATA[ Birdemic ain't got nothing on this...]]>
It would be too easy writing off Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" as dated or foul. This is the kind of thriller that makes younger audiences laugh with its now-silly special effects and seemingly imperfect performances. This is really the only reason why the film does not enjoy much success with a younger generation; well that and the people which I speak of are accustomed to thrillers and horror movies that move at a faster pace, ignoring the details that Hitchcock - as a prolific and defining filmmaker with suspense as his area of expertise - was so very fond of. But in moving the plot slowly, Hitchcock is able to make the film more than what the sum of its parts may imply. You've got your killer bird movies, and then you've got THE killer bird movie. This is a cleverly crafted portrait of cinematic tension and fear; and I do not believe any of the suspense has worn off from the film over time.

Wealthy blonde Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) travels to Bodega Bay, California to deliver a pair of lovebirds to the successful lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) for his sister after he visits the bird shop and mistakes Melanie for an employee. While still in the city, Melanie looks up at the sky and sees hundreds and thousands of birds flying in large groups overhead. Migrating, perhaps, is the first thought that crosses her mind. She's forgotten about it once in Bodega Bay and staying at her friend Annie's (Suzanne Pleshette) place. Then, once she delivers the birds to the Brenner estate, a seagull attacks her. And yet again, she fails to acknowledge it as anything more than coincidence.

During her stay, Melanie spends a lot of time with Mitch and the rest of his family, including his uptight mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy). As she gets more involved with their lives, the stranger the behavior of the birds becomes. Soon, they are homicidal and dive-bombing every living human being outside and in sight. And they can break and enter into homes through the windows too. We're talking crows attacking a school, seagulls descending onto a group of young children, and a large swarm of sparrows coming in through the chimney. It's surreal and at the time of its release it was all genuinely frightening; from the moment the birds start attacking to the second the humans start fighting back with firepower and their own general intelligence. Never before had we been lead to fear such seemingly harmless animals; but that's the power of good cinema.

The screenplay is completely uncanny. It's a mixture of genuinely nerve-wracking suspense and somewhat unsubtle feminist politics. In many ways, this is a feminist film in itself. A lot of the important characters are females and the film carefully examines how they all fit into Mitch's life, since he's clearly the only real man in this situation, although he's surrounded by a plethora of less crucial supporting male characters. The film could also be seen as a metaphor for terrorism, a social critique, or an assault on the sensibilities of a B-movie; which "The Birds" certainly is not. The script is handled real well by Hitchcock; who treats his themes with care and allows the story to unfold at a pace that will agree with any viewer who values true suspense in their pictures but will also surely anger the aforementioned younger generation of movie-goers.

But I say fuck that. Most thrillers and horror pictures today tell us that suspense is approximately two-to-ten minutes of silence and then a jump scare. The ugly truth is that most filmmakers just don't have the chops to make this method feel impressive or fresh; although there are a few who take a lot of their cues from Master Hitchcock himself. This film is damn well near perfect; my only real nitpick being that the bird attack sequences have lost a lot of their impact over time. They are well-photographed just like the rest of the film and you'll get more thrills from these "yellow screen" birdies than you will any lame CGI feathered fowls; but you can't deny that it feels a bit silly today. But this wasn't supposed to be a special effects extravaganza. Hitchcock keeps the suspense consistent and therefore thoroughly engages his audiences; keeping us guessing, on the edge of our seats, etc. I cannot give it a perfect score for this problem alone; but it's a perfectly stimulating and spectacular cinematic experience regardless.

There were two methods of building tension that I admired most of all. One was the island setting, which lends the story and the characters a certain layer of vulnerability; I suppose one does not merely "get out of town" like they do in so many other movies, thus these people are sort of trapped. Then there's the decision to skip a more traditional Bernard Hermann score and depend on sound effects such as the birds screeching and the wings flapping (all this was supervised by Hermann, mind you). I thought this was really effective in the context of the film. It gives the film the grand gift of silence and broadens the horizon as far as the overall effect goes. Sure, a musical score might have improved the best of thrills - such as the revelation of a man dead in his house with his bloody eyeballs plucked from their sockets - but overall I think the quiet nature of the more "frightening scenes" separates this one from the rest of Hitchcock's films. The man himself once said that this might be the most frightening motion picture he's ever made. I'm not sure I agree with him entirely; but oh, "The Birds" is still just so damn good anyways.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Birds-48-1010962-227130-Birdemic_ain_t_got_nothing_on_this_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Birds-48-1010962-227130-Birdemic_ain_t_got_nothing_on_this_.html Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:22:41 +0000
<![CDATA[ Guy Ritchie's envisioning of Holmes.]]>
Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" stylistically reverses the intentions that we are to expect from both cinematic and non-cinematic outings starring everyone's favorite titular sleuth. While we're used to an intelligent, perplexing labyrinth of a mystery; Ritchie's attempted "update" on the character and the "Sherlock Holmes" universe itself presents us with a mystery that is almost decidedly simplistic yet creatively drawn out for a larger, more modern and mainstream audience. I only refer to it as an "attempt" because in all honesty, personal views aside, that's what it is. Ritchie clearly isn't the best choice for material like this, yet he obviously admired it enough to produce a film that's actually pretty fun when all is said and done. Not so much an update but more-so a film that illustrates the Holmes that Ritchie fell in love with and visualized in his head as a young boy, I can definitely admire it in spite of its obvious imperfections.

The film opens with Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his loyal sidekick Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) thwarting the attempted sacrifice of a beautiful young girl at the hands of an occult serial killer who goes by the name of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). This would have been the sixth life he claimed, if not for the famous detective turning the tables so successfully. Soon afterwards, Holmes cannot find a new case worthy of his time or set of skills, thrusting him into a deep depression within his shut-in apartment, and Watson is planning to move out of the same building all-together to live with the woman that he wishes to wed. However, Blackwood is scheduled to be hung quite soon and requests to see Holmes last minute, warning him that three more will die once he has. The plot really gets going when Blackwood is hung, and the next morning, is discovered to have rose from the grave and walked out of the cemetery overnight.

Holmes then receives a visit from an old acquaintance/femme fatale named Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), who may or may not be associated somehow with Blackwood's master plan; which is to overpower the British government or something of the sort. I was honestly more engaged with the delivery than the material. On the surface, "Sherlock Holmes" is far from masterful mystery storytelling but what allows it to succeed is, ultimately, Guy Ritchie's enthusiasm as a filmmaker. I'm not completely down with his style - too much green screen, too much CGI in some of the big action set pieces (especially the bridge finale), and an excess of slow motion - but the scenes where he employs the Phantom Camera (which, in the film's action sequences, gives us a good look at stuff the human eye could not regularly capture, such as the little details in between each blow delivered to human flesh) and the retro sets themselves are particularly interesting.

Casting could not be better as far as the two leads go. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have great chemistry throughout and since most motion pictures - action and thriller genre offerings especially - must mix the expected stylistics with a bit of humor, they are the ones to deliver the best punch-lines. Aside from that, they just command every scene they're in together; and I could watch not one more, but SEVERAL more features starring the two of them. Mark Strong is kind of intimidating as Blackwood although he's forgettable. The only casting choice here that I'm not really that big of a fan of is Rachel McAdams in the role of Holmes's love interest. I just felt she was miscast; probably chosen from a large group of similarly aged and beautiful actresses to get the part instead of the screenwriters having her exclusively in mind. Sometimes, this can work out; here it just doesn't. She isn't horrible, but she simply does not fit the part.

But you know what, that doesn't bother me so much. It's a mere nitpick, as the rest of the film is just so darned entertaining. "Sherlock Holmes" could best be described as a late 1800's buddy comedy, and a damn good one at that. The actors seem to be having a good time and Ritchie emerges as a director with a firm grasp on his movie in spite of being unable to truly provide a different view on the characters or the narrative. They can't all be entirely new or fresh. I can't really complain. It might be overlong, slightly over-stylized, and perhaps even a little over-blown; but "Sherlock Holmes" is still a well-made picture if you treat it as escapism rather than cinematic mastery. It gives you what you want and nothing more: a plot based that is based around action but not so much so that it becomes all brawn and no brains. There's still some fight in this old boy.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Sherlock_Holmes_2009_movie_-48-1432891-227128-Guy_Ritchie_s_envisioning_of_Holmes_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Sherlock_Holmes_2009_movie_-48-1432891-227128-Guy_Ritchie_s_envisioning_of_Holmes_.html Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:18:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ Remake, re-imagining; who cares when the original wasn't even good.]]>
I'm starting to think it's nigh impossible to make a good "Clash of the Titans" movie. The first - and unfortunately not last - was from 1981 and failed to leave anything of an impression on me aside from a few yawns and my admiration for the stop-motion work that gives the film a great deal of its fans. Now there's the 2010 version, directed by Louis Leterrier, which really doesn't have much of a reason to exist other than to upgrade the visual thrills of the original to match the technology of today. Sometimes, a mentality like this can work splendidly when remaking a film that - regardless of how many love it - feels a little bit dated; as exemplified in Alexandre Aja's "The Hills Have Eyes". But Letterior doesn't seem to have big ideas on his mind; and even though he tries to mask it up with a few plot alterations here and there; ultimately, there just isn't enough that separates this and its older counterpart from each-other.

Tell me if you've heard this one before: handsome young hero embarks on an epic quest along beautiful desert landscapes, woos the one love interest, and by the end has saved not only the day but thousands - millions, even - of innocent people. In this case, the hero is Perseus (Sam Worthington); a young man whose family was killed by flying lizards called Furies while at sea. Although they aren't his real family - he and his now deceased mother were sent out to the sea in a coffin by their clan - Perseus still feels a great sense of loss. Before they met their end, Perseus and the crew had witnessed a giant statue of Zeus falling into the ocean depths below the cliff where it stands by some Argos warriors looking to upset the Gods. Needless to say, it works; and the living, breathing Zeus (Liam Neeson) - a God by any other name - asks Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Lord of the Underworld, to teach humanity a lesson in essential decency and respect for your creators.

When Hades finds out that Perseus is a demigod, he sends the hideously deformed Calibos (Jason Flemyng) to kill him so that he may carry out in his plan to release the giant Kraken (almost unrecognizable in comparison to the 1981 "Clash" Kraken) on the world if they should fail to pay their respects to the Gods. Perseus brings with him on this journey an arsenal of highly trained soldiers and eventually a group of mythical soldiers who can control monstrous scorpions that are born of Calibos's blood. Along the way, he meets the girl who shall act as his guide (Gemma Artington), and in the end, he shall learn more about bravery and dignity than he ever had before.

I'm honestly just getting tired of movies like this. Movies that don't even make an attempt to differentiate from the standard fare of their kind. As an action flick, "Clash" definitely deserves some credit; battles with Calibos, his giant scorpions, and the Furies are admittedly exciting. Nevertheless, there's just too much shaky-cam to call it authentic craftsmanship worthy of praise; but hey, I like what I like. And what I don't like is mindless crap that tries so hard not to be. "Clash of the Titans" will most definitely fool the movie-going audiences of today with its special effects ranging from mediocre to fairly solid and its paper-thin story that failed to impress me a second time around for its utter lack of any character development whatsoever or knowledge of Greek mythology. But you know what, it sure as hell did not impress me.

The performances could be compared to cardboard; with the exception of Liam Neeson, who delivers some appropriately hammy dialogue ("RELEASE THE KRAKEN") that feels predictably uninspired but is nonetheless quotable on certain terms. Plus, he sports an awesome beard; and you KNOW you want to see that. Neeson aside, I liked the creatures and make-up, but the film seems to aspire to be a bloody swashbuckler when it insead stays within PG-13 territory. Shame, because if you took out the wooden performances, the sometimes mediocre effects, and the distractingly dumb story; you'd have a decent movie, but only if you increased the brutal body count. As it is, "Clash of the Titans" could be considered a solid visual accomplishment by some; but just the same, there's nothing much else about it worthy of recognition or appreciation.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Clash_of_the_Titans_2010_-48-1432884-226859-Remake_re_imagining_who_cares_when_the_original.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Clash_of_the_Titans_2010_-48-1432884-226859-Remake_re_imagining_who_cares_when_the_original.html Thu, 19 Jul 2012 16:56:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Dated with nothing else relatively worthy on its side.]]>
If an older film can be considered "dated" - even by those who claim to be film aficionados - then was it really any good to begin with? I asked myself this very thing while watching the original 1981 "Clash of the Titans" and figured that this theory does indeed apply to it and a great number of other films that for whatever reason get recognition from large amounts of viewers. This is basically the kind of film that you had to grow up with to enjoy or appreciate in the slightest; thus leaving everyone else - those who cannot relate to the sweet nostalgia that the movie supposedly evokes - in the dark. "Clash" has been remade recently and not very well from what I can remember; sure, aspects were changed, but if this exact movie were made today, it would have been just as much of a failure. Actually, if someone were to remake the film properly; it would be panned universally by critics. Why? Because just about every last goddamn motherfucking aspect of it feels ancient and wrong.

When the God Zeus (Laurence Oliver) impregnates the King of Argos's daughter Danae, the latter banishes his child and her own to the open sea in a fancy coffin. When Zeus learns of this, he calls upon Poseidon to summon the Kraken from the depths of the ocean so that it may destroy all of Argos. Meanwhile, Danae and her child Perseus (Harry Hamlin) make it to land, where she raises the boy into adulthood. Perseus does not grow up knowing that he has an incredibly destiny set out for him, and it's about to unfold before his very eyes. After Calibos (Neil McCarthy), son of Thetis and suitor to the heir of the city Joppa, kills all of Zeus's flying horses (except for the prolific white pegasis); he puts a curse upon the young man that transforms him into a vile being. Perseus, armed with sacred armor that renders him invisible among other things, goes to try and court the heir with a riddle (which happens to be the ring on the hand of Calibos, which is severed).

What puts the last half of the story in motion is the revelation that Thetis wishes to sacrifice the heir to the Kraken. To prevent her demise, Perseus must set out to find out what can kill the Kraken; since mere mortal men will not do the trick, so he is told. It is a mighty beast, and something otherworldly must be used. Something like the head of the titan Medusa; who lives in an underworld like kingdom where she reigns supreme. Medusa's blood can also apparently produce gigantic scorpians, which sets up another one of the film's famous scenes.

To me, the story was far too simplistic. Never are we given a reason to care about these characters or even the protagonist and his quest. Hamlin is mis-cast and therefore his performance seems to be more about the looks than the talent; this is proven by the early lingering shots of his naked chest, which the ladies must have ogled over in his time. Laurence Oliver is good as Zeus, but he's clearly in the wrong movie (given that nobody else is as dedicated to delivering a solid performance as he is). Alas, the film does have its pleasures: the Medusa sequence is exciting, Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion effects were impressive for their time and still hold up nicely for what they are, and the sets are impressive looking. But that doesn't hide from the fact that "Clash of the Titans" has mainstream intentions on its mind, and I don't like that it's selling itself off as something that it's not: genuine entertainment.

The whole thing kind of feels a little like "Star Wars", although that was probably the intent of the filmmakers given how popular those films were (although only the first had been released prior to "Clash"). Throw in some Greek mythology and bring down the intelligence to the lowest level possible, and you've got this movie in a nutshell. Sadly, George Lucas - love him or hate him - made better movies than this. Here, Desmond Davis's direction is sloppy and unsure of where to take the story. For all the walking and talking, the film never feels like it is really moving. I guess that explains why Davis didn't get much work afterwards; because this rotten, brainless, boring piece of shit was fucked before the cameras even started rolling.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Clash_of_the_Titans_1981_film_-48-1397533-226855-Dated_with_nothing_else_relatively_worthy_on_its.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Clash_of_the_Titans_1981_film_-48-1397533-226855-Dated_with_nothing_else_relatively_worthy_on_its.html Thu, 19 Jul 2012 16:49:01 +0000
<![CDATA[ Still in need of a bigger boat.]]>
The dead body that is discovered washed up on Amity Island's beach in Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" will instantly remind most people of mystery and noir films of the past. In those films, the killer is human, whereas here; it is not. The body belongs to a girl who went swimming in the ocean the night before and never came back. We saw something attack her off-camera from the blue abyss. Her body is found mutilated beyond comprehension; her limbs separated from her torso. This is clearly not the work of a boat collision. No, the only thing that could do this in these areas is a shark. In the perimeter of the island, they are rarely ever seen, but the locals know they're there. But these are people with the mentality of us all; if something is not frequently threatening, then we shan't let it spoil our fun. This is their twisted philosophy on the matter.

Chief-of-Police Martin Brody (Roy Schneider) wants the beaches to be closed down until they can successfully capture the shark. He's called in a marine biologist who specializes in these animals to assist. But the 4th of July is only a few days away, and this is a profitable time for the island as it means hundreds-to-thousands of beach bums will be roaring into its gates hoping for a nice weekend by the sea; which is why the Mayor insists that the beaches remain open and available to the public. But then, disaster strikes. The famous scene at the beach in which the shark takes the life of a middle-aged woman's little boy. Her hysteria puts the islanders in a state of wide-spread panic; and soon, large groups of fisherman are boarding their boats to set out and try to bring back the dead corpse of the shark that killed the child. It is at this moment that the marine biologist - Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) - arrives.

Within the second act, the boats return and the men believe they've found, captured, and killed the shark responsible for the kid's death. Hooper examines it further and requests that he be able to gut it so that he may see what's currently in its digestive track. The size of the captured shark's mouth did not match that of the bite-marks on the dead girl's corpse - or at least what remained of it. And sure enough; they got the wrong one. It's time for Brody to take the initiative; he assembles a crew - him, Hooper, and the fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) - and sets sail for the very ocean which the shark freely roams. With them they bring explosives, harpoons, guns, and barrels attached to the combination of the last two so that they may track the shark if the harpoon successfully makes contact with its flesh. And there goes the third act.

This is certainly one of the best thrillers there is. The plot is set-up simplistically enough, but the set-up itself works well for the film; the complexions are hidden beneath, and they beckon any viewer who truly loves the film to keep revisiting it again and again. But each act is executed with such utter finesse that you soon stop caring about "simplicity" or even "predictability". Even the great films have their flaws - hell, EVERY film does - but when it comes to the major and logical complaints, there aren't too many to be made in regards to "Jaws". Spielberg proves that he is a fierce and relentless filmmaker; not only gifted with a distinctive style, but also with the ability to stage gut-wrenching tension. I don't suppose this film will ever age as so many of its predecessors - good, bad, or just plain ugly - have. That's why it's so great to wear the title of a true original. Nobody had yet considered staying out of the water before it. But the impact has left its mark on our society and has even inspired other shark movies to reassure us that it's not always safe to take a dip. To say the least, it's made us fear the black-ish jagged fin more than anything else out there.

This film's shark is old-school animatronic. Upon revisiting "Jaws", I can now safely rest on the opinion that animatronic sharks will almost always be more genuinely scary than the fancy CGI ones that we see so much of today. Perhaps the only thing more frightening is a real shark, and oh, that's just too risky by the standards of most modern filmmakers. Spielberg used to make movies into magic; with effects that were - for the time - state of the art, he would draw you in to what I like to call the cinematic experience. "Jaws" is a killer shark movie written in gore, POV shots from the perspective of the swimming shark, and a suspenseful musical score by John Williams that anticipates the approaching animal as it comes full-speed ahead. The whole thing whizzes by very fast indeed. It's an experience, a stimulating one, and no other killer shark movie can even hope to compare (but of course, a few have tried).

It's debatable whether this is a horror film or a thriller, although I like to consider it the latter. I don't know why. The difference often times feels nigh indistinguishable. The emotions that the film elicits are no different from that of most horror films (or at least the good ones), yet it's based on mood and tension rather than blood and gore (although it still delivers in such departments). Then again, so are the best of horror films. It's not worth arguing about. "Jaws" is quite possibly one of my favorite thrillers because it doesn't sacrifice intelligence or its characters for the scares. It still holds up real well today, and is almost certain to fry your nerves. It's 2012, and when the film first made its debut it was 1975; yet we're still gonna need a bigger boat.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Jaws_1975_film_-48-1553828-226698-Still_in_need_of_a_bigger_boat_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Jaws_1975_film_-48-1553828-226698-Still_in_need_of_a_bigger_boat_.html Sat, 14 Jul 2012 01:21:07 +0000
<![CDATA[ Just okay; not great]]>
Hitchcock wanted to experiment in filming longer takes, up to ten minutes long, rather than the typical take of just a few seconds. It makes the movie look like a staged play, with the story taking place in just one room, no action, and a lot of talking. James Stewart goes against his usual nice-guy persona to play a cynical and sarcastic man who thinks he knows more than everyone else. He's not likable and that detracts from the story. Dall is charismatic and frightening as the more confident of the killers but Granger's weakling character is too highly-strung, too obviously guilty right from the start. Some subtlety was called for and is missing. All of the supporting actors overact throughout with the exception of Cedric Hardwicke, who is wonderful as a concerned party guest.

The dialogue is too perfect and stagy with everyone taking turns speaking politely and with perfectly measured wit; no one interrupts or pauses. It's not at all realistic. There's never any doubt that the killers will be discovered which eliminates any possible tension or excitement; there is no hero to root for and the villains are too loony to care about. Not one of Hitchcock's better movies.


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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Rope_1948_movie_-48-1017338-224753-Just_okay_not_great.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Rope_1948_movie_-48-1017338-224753-Just_okay_not_great.html Thu, 14 Jun 2012 05:19:12 +0000
<![CDATA[ Lunacy, or...?]]>
However, the true star of this feature is not manifest as flesh and blood, nor of the animate or sentient; this picture's imposing chief presence hasn't a single line of dialogue and it does not perform. Disquiet pervades very few historic sites as it did the Danvers State Hospital, most infamous of the Kirkbride institutions established for the treatment of the mentally deranged. Danvers was a magnificent, sprawling psychiatric facility enlarged by solaria and underground tunnels to accommodate its enormous inpatient body, presumably the locale where the pre-frontal lobotomy was first administered and a costly exemplar of the Victorian era's bold confrontation of mental illness as a fearsome epidemic. Following the widespread federal and state budget cuts of the Reaganite '80s and modern propagation of humane treatments largely unfamiliar to the DSH's deplorable paradigm, the hospital was shuttered in 1992. Thereafter, it became a home to squatters and playground for vandals as it gradually deteriorated.
Nearly a decade following the DSH's closure, yet years prior to its demolition, Anderson chose not only to shoot a picture there, but to exploit its ghastly milieu in supplement of a fine (if conventional) narrative. More than its decrepitude and furnishings, the very terror of Danvers' departed lingers ineffably onscreen, and Anderson's utilization of proven psych scare techniques are only bettered by the incomparable Danvers foreboding.

Session 9's premise is simple, its plot familiar: an asbestos removal crew arrive at the abandoned mental institution to clear it of the legal profession's favorite construction material. Before long, the strained relations of this eccentric crew deteriorate rapidly, and their audience is confronted with a hoary question: is this commission host to madness, and if so, who among this lot of evidently unstable working men is truly cracked?

All of this flick's characters are stock archetypes: discomfited authority figure (Cullen), irascible working man (Caruso), obnoxious heel (Josh Lucas, already typecast as a prick after American Psycho), sullen closet intellectual (Gevedon) and youthful bonehead (perennial churl Brendan Sexton III, in a rare departure from his usual disreputable characters). Each is as thoroughly defined as their surroundings by way of ample (though not excessive) exposition, just as the Danvers facility is introduced in detail to audiences unfamiliar with its history and legacy, and for which fiction is appended to fact to expand the Danvers infamy.

In all, Anderson's achieved that to which nearly every horror filmmaker should aspire: Session 9 raises goose flesh proud and terrifies, if only for intervals of a few minutes. Much of his deliberate style and methodology are superficially comparable to those of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, though Session 9 pales in comparison with Kurosawa's best. Anderson opts to contrast normalcy with impermeable, discrete moments of terror, and does so effectively, but that chill seldom abates entirely in Kurosawa's broader scope, always lurking as an undercurrent of his most mundane scenes.

Among this picture's chief assets is cinematographer Uta Briesewitz, whose excellent photography via high definition digital video (printed to 35 mm stock for theatrical distribution) is colored by contrast nearly so lifelike as that of film, though lacking its richness of hue. Paired with Anderson's fastidious composition, their product is a very attractive movie produced with a meager $1.5M.

Since Session 9 is immaculately shot, ably performed and as unsettling an American horror flick as any of the past fifteen years, why must it wind down so poorly? During its final fifteen minutes, it casts both ambiguity and over an hour of cunningly cultivated misdirection to the wind to clumsily play its final hand after it's been exposed, and the faltering acting of this denouement reflects its ludicrous dialogue. What might have been that rarity of a truly great contemporary horror movie ends as a good effort partly undone by a hopelessly American failure to sustain obfuscation.

Danvers is gone, now - stripped of its historic status and demolished almost entirety by developers during the middle aughts to make way for apartment complexes. As usual, this is what bureaucrats and politicians in receipt of graft refer to as "progress," and their serfs are expected to grin and bear it because profit's to be had wherever suffering must be forgotten. Thankfully, Session 9 is not only a notable motion picture of its genre, but one of a few fine photographic accounts of an imposing and historied locale that's passed from institutional notoriety to the annals thereof.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Session_9_2001_movie_-48-1026039-224730-Lunacy_or_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Session_9_2001_movie_-48-1026039-224730-Lunacy_or_.html Wed, 13 Jun 2012 00:17:40 +0000
<![CDATA[Mulholland Dr. Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]>
While this film certainly benefits in having an edge-to-your-seat gripping storyline and compelling characters, the ultimate strength in this film lies in Lynch's refusal to explain the movie, which allows us to create our own ways of fleshing out what really happens and what the film really means.

The only thing that may turn off some viewers is that there's a few lesbian sex scenes in it.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Mulholland_Dr_-13-1027481-224722.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Mulholland_Dr_-13-1027481-224722.html Tue, 12 Jun 2012 16:58:50 +0000
<![CDATA[District 9 Quick Tip by RabidChihuahua]]> Despite the movie's less-than-subtle messages about humanity, I found this to be a strong film because of the fact that the characters have decent levels of depth to them, which is one of the main deciding factors for why I like District 9.  In particular, I found Wikus's change in character, physically and in terms of personality, the most interesting.  The cool action scenes and visual aesthetics to the Prawn technology are also helping factors with this.

Unlike the massively-hyped film Avatar, D9 was a bigger success for me for the fact that not everything is shown in such a black-and-white fashion, and D9 was able to successfully tell its story without pretty-looking cat aliens and a $250 million advertising budget.

]]>
http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-District_9-13-1382779-224492.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-District_9-13-1382779-224492.html Fri, 1 Jun 2012 04:01:32 +0000
<![CDATA[ Viva La Evolution!]]>
Movies revolving around people who are captured, enslaved, and turned into freaks by their supreme oppressors usually have a very specific theme and formula. Sparticus, Gladiator, Braveheart, all were there for inspiration, to give us the story of the great underdog who rises up and either wins everything or becomes a martyr who inspires his people to keep fighting the good fight. The remake of Planet of the Apes in fact follows that very same formula. But the original Planet of the Apes gives us no such delusions of grandeur. There's no human rebellion, no great uprising which turns the tide against the apes. What is does give us is a lot more subtle and haunting. The ending is as anti-climactic as it is brilliant. Thanks to the countless references and parodies, yes, we all know the mysterious planet the main character lands on is really Earth, but the implications go beyond that.

The original movie begins with four astronauts going into deep hibernation for a 2006-year long journey to an unknown planet, which their shuttle proceeds to crash on. One of the astronauts is dead because of an air leak, and that leaves three: Dodge, Landon, and our main character, Taylor. The three of them go ashore and start looking for signs of intelligent life, and after wandering for awhile, they run into more humans. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean intelligent life, because it seems the humans on this planet are mute and confused pack animals. Soon, they all get overrun by a bunch of apes who are riding horses and appear to be hunting for the humans, Dodge is killed, and Landon and Taylor are taken hostage. Taylor is shot in the throat and rendered literally speechless, so when Zira, the ape scientist who is experimenting on him, catches him moving his lips as if to answer her absentminded questions, all the other apes think she's being silly for believing Taylor can understand her. Taylor steals paper and a pen to write with, and the two of them begin communicating.

Everyone still thinks Zira and her partner Cornelius are nuts and that Taylor is simply trying to imitate, but when he gets caught after an escape attempt and learns that his throat has healed, he makes a bold statement that catches the entire ape community off guard. ("Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!") His intelligence catches the attention of Dr. Zaius, a type of ignoramus who doesn't believe that humans could possibly be as intelligent as Taylor is. Taylor and Zaius ultimately kick off a cold war in the ape community over the questions of where life came from, what it turned into, and at what point intelligence turns animals into higher beings.

Zaius is the Minister of Science and a big-time defender of the old-timey ape religion. Cornelius and Zira are purely scientists, and the world they are fighting for is one full of scientific inquiry and curiosity. The court hearing scene is a kind of scene that theologians and philosophers could write entire books about, considering some of the questions which get raised. Zaius is an intriguing character because there are a few levels of him which need to be peeled away. He starts out like an old-fashioned priest, trying to hide behind his scriptures, and there are even scenes where he denounces this new-fangled theory about the origin of life called "evolution." He spends the whole movie verbally sparring with Taylor about how smart and good humans are capable of becoming, and develops a grudging respect for him. Ultimately, he reveals the fact that many of the actions he takes come because his spot as a religious minister have given him access to scriptures the regular apes never get to see, and Zaius proves to know far more about the origins of the apes than he's letting everyone think he knows.

Taylor himself is a bit of a jerk. When the astronauts come out of the spaceship, he's not the inspirational leader Charlton Heston was known for usually playing. Although he respects the two people with him, he does insult them, and some of that is out of contempt for their characters. Taylor tells one, in so many words, that the partner was a seeker, but who took the mission in large part for personal glory. Taylor says he's also a seeker, but he generally agrees with the way he's soon viewed by Zaius: He's a seeker who seeks because he believes there is something better than mankind out there. Really, he's a contrarian. He attacks humanity when his partners praise it, defends humans when Zaius knocks humans down a few pegs. When they first encounter the planet's humans and sees how they live, he suggests they could be ruling them within a matter of months.

It's a remarkable feat that a movie which tackles so much heft also comes off as such a strong action movie that people with short attention spans don't have any trouble sitting through it. There are a few scenes which are dragged out, especially in the beginning. But the big ape hunt, Taylor's escape attempts, and Zaius intercepting Taylor, Cornelius, and Zira at an archeological digging site all stand out, and they're all spectacular.

The outdated makeup effects certainly didn't age well, and that can be a bit of a hinderance. Not a real problem, mind you, but a hinderance. The apes rule the movie, and aside from Taylor, the only other humans who talk are quickly removed. Even Nova, the woman given to Taylor early on because Zira wants them to reproduce, doesn't say anything. Taylor is the one who names her, and he's seen trying to teach her to speak in a few scenes, but she never learns the trick. The apes don't look like real apes, as you might assume, but like humans wearing ape suits. It's a mark of shallowness to complain about poor special effects when comparing today's CGI against technology from 1968, when Planet of the Apes first came out, but there is always a sense if immersion that comes from good, convincing special effects. It's a trickly line to follow even today - I once read an interview with a special effects artist who said that if someone walks out of a theater talking about how awesome the special effects were, he hasn't done his job properly. But a kid who was there in the 90's to see the incredible dinosaur effects from Jurassic Park or the incredible breakthroughs seen in the first Star Wars - STILL more convincing than the CGI from the prequels - might not be able to get caught up in the story of Planet of the Apes.

The ending creates a few questions and leaves you with the fact that when Taylor damns them all to hell, he's not screaming about the apes. It's haunting and disturbing and one of the most brilliant endings I've ever seen in a movie. And the journey there isn't bad, either. It won't take over 2000 years, and it's entertaining and thoughtful the whole way.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Planet_of_the_Apes-48-1699296-224083-Viva_La_Evolution_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Planet_of_the_Apes-48-1699296-224083-Viva_La_Evolution_.html Sun, 13 May 2012 15:15:29 +0000
<![CDATA[ Hey...that weren't me.]]>
Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) finds himself the victim of "for-the-hell-of-it" logic. An intelligent, fast-talking police officer in London's Metropolitan Police Service; he is one day called into the office of his superiors, where they proceed to give him a lecture on how good he is at what he does, and how his thorough and consistent goodness has led them to make the very tough decision of transferring him to a smaller town, supposedly to spare the embarrassment of the other far inferior officers. Nicholas is to be transferred to the quiet village of Sandford, located somewhere in Gloucestershire. He makes the journey by train and never with a smile on his face. He takes with him only his clothes and his Japanese peace lily. Everything else - including his girlfriend, who he has become increasingly distant from over time - can stay behind. He's ready to start life anew.

Sandford is known for its particularly low crime rate. The officers stationed there have been practically brainwashed over the years to the point where they believe nothing bad can possibly happen in their nice little town. The central office is headed by Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), and the day after he arrives, Nicholas is introduced to the fellow officers. I'll run off some names: Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) - son of Frank and now Nicholas's partner when on duty -, Andy Wainwright (Paddy Considine) and Andy Cartwright (Rafe Spall), Tony Fisher (Kevin Eldon), "policewoman" Doris Thatcher (Olivia Colman), PC Bob Walker (Bill Bailey), and his dog Saxon. Then there is the Neighborhood Watch Alliance; made up of many people, but in particular, a Mr. Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward) and a Mr. Simon Skinner (a fantastically creepy Timothy Dalton).

Nicholas and Danny could not be more different. The former is forever grounded in the reality that a privileged amount of field experience has created, while the latter wishes his life/job were more reminiscent of the action movies that he religiously watches. All the same, the two start to bond over long periods of time; eventually having to spring into action when a series of brutal murders threaten to ruin the reputation and well-being of Sandford. There are a few prime suspects - in particular, Mr. Skinner - but the identity of the killer could be anyone. Clues and red herrings pop up at any given moments, often at the strangest of times. Meanwhile, a swan is on the loose; the Sandford officers are assholes; and both Nicholas and Danny get drunk and watch "Bad Boys 2" late at night.

I could go on and on about a movie like this all day. I've seen it a record number of times, and truth be told, it never gets old. Of course, one might need space after a few go-rounds (and I certainly found this to be the case), but revisiting Edgar Wright's "Hot Fuzz" is a very rich and peculiar experience indeed. There are few like it. I refuse to give too much away in regards to the plot, or the smaller characters that populate it, because I fear this will spoil the film for those who have yet to see it. What I can say is that if you loved "Shaun of the Dead" (Wright's first feature); you'll probably love "Hot Fuzz" just as much. Technically speaking, it's a pretty big step up from the said earlier film, but bigger doesn't always mean better. Nevertheless, here, it just might.

What I love about Wright's screenplays are that (1.) they show his nigh impeccable love for cinema and (2.) they make great use of Frost and Pegg's combined talents as a dynamic comic duo. Here, as in "Shaun", they have great on-screen chemistry; it's to the point where seeing them in individual movies - without each-other - becomes a rather odd experience. Anyways, coming back to the first part; "Hot Fuzz" is like a love letter to not only action movies - but also slashers, horror films (a very gory death scene mimics "The Omen"), and British historical cinema. For instance, it was shot in the same town that Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" was all those years ago. Also, the story is like the bastard love child of "The Wicker Man" and "The Naked Gun". The proceedings are satisfactory. Since his comic timing is so ingenious, every joke goes down easy; even the crude and profane ones consisting of four-letter words, none of which are too harsh for one to stomach. The in-references to other films are smartly placed, and to notice them all, repeated viewings are absolutely essential. It doesn't get much better than this.

Another thing I adore about Wright; his productions aren't cheap. They're real, authentic, high-quality productions. "Hot Fuzz" is an action-comedy written in over-the-top blood and gore (it's the second installment in Wright's so-called "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy") and an absolutely bat-shit insane final shootout that takes place in the last twenty minutes. There isn't a dull moment to spare; and I couldn't stop laughing. It was off-the-wall, it was fearless, it was hyper-violent, and it was like an ADD-riddled kid with a good hand at the pen had crafted the thing. That might just be the case. Many shots seem to distantly echo the lost era of cheesy 80's action; and I loved the vibe. The cinematography - which is both moody and stylistic at times - certainly helps to perfect this aspect of the film. Also, the soundtrack - consisting mostly of classic (British) rock) - assists in immersing the viewer in Wright's twisted word of non-stop hilarity.

One last thing; in a film of ironic and undeniably funny names, which one do I like the most? Well, there's a wide variety to choose from. There's...Simon Skinner (wink, wink), Tom Weaver, Nicholas Angel, Rev. Philip Shooter, Martin Blower, Eve Draper, George Merchant, Tim Messenger, Leslie Tiller, and Peter Cocker. That's a lot of ironic and funny names to choose from. After much thought, I decided it might be best to go with Rev. Philip Shooter; since the character generates a hell of a laugh near the end. But Martin Blower was very, very close.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Hot_Fuzz_2007_-48-1583243-222570-Hey_that_weren_t_me_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Hot_Fuzz_2007_-48-1583243-222570-Hey_that_weren_t_me_.html Wed, 11 Apr 2012 21:15:10 +0000
<![CDATA[The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (movie) Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> This movie is the GREATEST vampire epic EVER! It has everything--a great looking female lead, romance, action and even drama. People should go out and buy the movies since they are now either $4 or $ 5 in BBuy! I mean, movies like this come once in a lifetime. This is better than Star Wars, anything Tarantino has made, Lord of the Rings, anything Ridley Scott has made or Spielberg for that matter, I mean they don't make movies like this anymore! Twilight is the greatest movie franchise ever!

That said--



what you think I would really name the Twilight saga the greatest film saga of all time?! Sorry!

Take care everyone!

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http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-April_Fools_Day-232-1441889-222351.html http://www.lunch.com/whatcanisay/reviews/d/UserReview-April_Fools_Day-232-1441889-222351.html Sun, 1 Apr 2012 17:20:31 +0000
<![CDATA[ That's the truth, Ruth.]]>
It's the hottest day of the summer in an all-black neighborhood somewhere in Brooklyn. Residents search for beer in a blazing wasteland of heat, while others simply unscrew the fire hydrant and let the cold goodness flow out into the streets like uncontrollable rapids. In the middle of it all, the neighborhood shops have opened come morning; and both their employees and their respective owners have returned yet again for another hard day on the job, this one being a particularly difficult one to endure. And it's not just because of the heat. There is a small convenience store run by an Asian family, and then there is an Italian pizzeria, run by, as one would expect, an Italian family. The founder is a cruel, sadistic, and burly man named Sal (Danny Aiello). He operates the parlor with his two sons - Vito (Richard Edson) and Pino (John Turturro) - and a young African American man named Mookie, who is the delivery boy. Sal is ruthless, and there are pizzas to be delivered: but from the get-go, "Do the Right Thing" seems to be asking the question of whether the severe weather conditions can or will truly get to the city folk of the condensed hood that they inhabit.

Mookie's a good kid. He stays out of trouble, has a genuinely healthy circle of friends, and makes time for his girlfriend (Rosie Perez) and his sister (Joile Lee) when he can; sometimes when he's on the job. This proves to be a trade-off, as for all the time he spends delivering a single pizza to a friend or family member's house (or not), he must return to the pizzeria only to receive a verbal beating from his boss. Indeed, the neighborhood is presented with a "it's a small world after all" type vibe, and there are many characters, but most of the more important events happen right at the pizzeria. Being a mostly black/Latino neighborhood, this side of Brooklyn does house many Italians; and this angers Sal and his sons alike. He seems to hate a lot of his customers (particularly a guy who walks around with a loud beat box, and another who demands better-quality pizza as well as more black men featured on the pictorial "wall of fame" that is located in the joint), and it comes to no surprise that they hate him just as much. But alas, there are some kindly souls located in this neighborhood; like the mayor (Ossie Davis), who walks about town searching a cold one and attempting to romance an old woman named Mother Sister (Rubie Dee).

Spike Lee produced, wrote, directed, and starred (as Mookie). He wanted to make a film that dove deep into the racist underworld of modern America, the kind that most Hollywood filmmakers were certainly afraid to explore at the time that the film was released. But of course, Lee has a voice and he uses it fearlessly; bringing up some truly provocative points and succeeding in gritty message-making by the time the characters (and the weather conditions) reach their boiling point. You may already know that the film ends with a tragic riot, in which an angry customer, the beat box guy, and some loyal black followers try to boycott the pizzeria; which ends in an eruption of racist violence and social misunderstanding. The film seems to be intended as a document of the many things that Lee saw in his life leading up to his directorial debut; in regards to the racism of our time. He's made a film that certainly proves that a more post-modern Ku Klux Klan need not wear the attire; for it's the man that makes the racist bastard, not his clothes.

In spite of its deeply provocative themes; "Do the Right Thing" is not truly depressing until the last thirty minutes or so. Until then, it does well to immerse us in the culture of the hood through music (Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" is playing in my head as we speak) and an honest visual representation of life in a black Brooklyn neighborhood. These aren't some of the nicest people out there for sure, yet Lee is able to make us care for a good number of them; especially a lonely but lively radio talk show host named Mister Senor Love Daddy, played by a young and very much enthusiastic Samuel L. Jackson. Now, in any other film, this character might have served as a simple diversion; but here, he seems to be the only one who understands the current situation and how to maturely cope with it. Yes, it's hot out, and yes, there is racial tension going on outside his studio, but he doesn't let it get to him. He knows how to deal with tragedy and keep on trucking.

The film concludes with two quotations. One is by Martin Luther King, dealing with whether violence can ever be truly justified; and another by Malcolm X, which asks if there is a difference between violence and self-defense. Spike Lee and "Do the Right Thing" both seem to live by such philosophies, and that's what makes the film such a thought-provoking and important work. Yes, racism has been dealt with before in cinema; but it's a movie like this that makes me believe that past discrimination can perhaps be made up for with art. There is a beautifully written scene where several characters very colorfully scream prejudice remarks at the camera, perhaps hoping to evoke a response of some sort. Or maybe it's just meant to display anger, I don't know. But what I do know is that Spike Lee is a filmmaker to watch, and "Do the Right Thing" is a great movie about the topic of racist prejudice. That's the truth, Ruth.]]>
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<![CDATA[ Put plugs in your ears when Day sings out "Que Sera, Sera."]]> The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) the same way I like To Catch a Thief. Both are big, fat, slick and satisfying entertainments made by a professional at the top of his game, with To Catch a Thief a better movie. While To Catch a Thief packs in naughtiness and more charm, neither leave any questions afterwards except “Where do we want to stop for a bite before going home?”
 
One weakness (which also is a strength) is Doris Day. When she's sobbing and hysterical she gets on my nerves. After Hank is kidnapped I wished she’d been given a very, very strong sedative. Day’s strength in the movie is that for most of the time she's good company, and she's believable as a woman who will do what it takes to rescue her son. She paired well with Stewart in both star power and likable personality.
 
The movie is too long, the curse of so many movies beginning in the mid-Fifties. For me, this undermined some of the set pieces. I wanted Hitchcock to get a move on. The scenes I particularly like are the unease and suspicion that developed in the church, the cocktail party chit chat, the Albert Hall sequence, which is masterful, the rescue of Hank, and Stewart’s last line, "I'm sorry we were gone so long, but we had to go over and pick up Hank." The taxidermy bit, however, is too long and neither funny nor suspenseful. The same set-up in Hitchock’s first version which takes place in a dentist’s office is amusing, creepy and suspenseful.
 
Which brings us to Que Sera, Sera. It seems to me to be a better-than-average pop song so professionally written that the emotion is slick and impersonal. Not only does Day belt it out so loudly that young Hank can hear it upstairs in the embassy, the neighbors two blocks away probably heard it, too. Que Sera, Sera is one of many of Hollywood’s hit songs that are too professional and unsurprising to move me much.
 
Let's hear it for some fine actors who made appearances. I have a lot of admiration for Brenda de Banzie who played the wife of Bernard Miles. She was a fine actress; just see her in The Entertainer as Olivier's wife or in Hobson's Choice when she makes a man of John Mills and masters Charles Laughton. Bernard Miles was a first class actor who could play just about anything but aristocrats. For those who like medals and honors, Miles was made a Sir in 1969 and became a Lord in 1979 (the first actor to do so after Olivier). Not bad for the son of a farm laborer and a cook. The cocktail party had some old friends it was good to see. Among the familiar faces were Alan Mobray, Hillary Brooke and Carolyn Jones. Among the best of the best is Reggie Nalder, who played the assassin. According to IMDb, he was a handsome man who, when a young man, was burned severely over the bottom third of his face. Nalder was a chilling killer in The Man Who Knew Too Much. He made the premise of the film -- a political assassination -- believable and dreadful.
 
So sit back and enjoy. Then watch North by Northwest, a classic Hitchcock “entertainment” made of froth, charm and suspense.]]>
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<![CDATA[Groundhog Day (movie) Quick Tip by TStocksl]]>
And is it just coincidence that Bill Murray is in both movies?  I think not. ]]>
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<![CDATA[Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]>
C’mon, how can you resist a super-powered Vegan with telekinetic powers?

See Full Review here.

Image Detail
]]>
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<![CDATA[ I never thought I would like this movie so much]]>
Those were my first words when I heard of this movie. I remember watching Tron as a kid it came on the Disney Channel one day while watching I thought it was the coolest and weirdest thing ever. Obviously as a 9 year old kid I was really only watching it for the Light Cycle battles. I saw bits and pieces of it again a few years ago on TV I was channel surfing between Tron and some 90s flick called Election. Legacy looked cool enough so when I saw the DVD in a Rogers plus store the other day I decided to pick it up.

Tron Legacy serves as a sequel to the 1982 movie Tron. In 1989 Encom CEO Kevin Flynn has disappeared leaving behind his son Sam Flynn with his parents. Twenty Years later Encom is run not by Sam but another party. One night after playing a “prank” on the Board of Directors Sam is visited by his father’s old friend Alan Bradley; he tells Sam that he has received a page from his father’s old office. Curious Sam checks it out and accidentally inserts himself onto the Grid. Now he only has a few hours to find a way out or be trapped forever.

I’m not saying Tron Legacy is the greatest thing since sliced bread but it is very close to being called one of my favorite movies ever. While the acting was nothing really special I praise Jeff Bridges performance, I love that he still has this 80s like persona to him I think it’s a nice touch. The Story was also nothing special Tron Legacy makes up for these in visuals and with its soundtrack. The movie is scored by Daft Punk who if you don’t know is a French Electronic duo, their genre of music fits perfectly with the tone of Tron. Not to mention that it also sounds AWESOME!!!!!. The visuals in Legacy were jaw droppingly amazing, my second favorite thing about this movie. My only complaint about those is that Legacy didn’t feel like it took place in a computer but instead in a futuristic city, even during the disk wars and Light Cycle battles. While the visuals in the first Tron were awful (by today’s standards) those felt a lot more closely to the inside of a computer than the second one did.

That being said if you haven’t already check out Tron Legacy it’s a really good Friday night movie to chill out and watch with friends.]]>
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<![CDATA[Raising Arizona Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Raising_Arizona-13-1004133-218800.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Raising_Arizona-13-1004133-218800.html Wed, 4 Jan 2012 05:05:06 +0000 <![CDATA[Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Scott_Pilgrim_vs_the_World-13-1445470-218796.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Scott_Pilgrim_vs_the_World-13-1445470-218796.html Wed, 4 Jan 2012 04:46:23 +0000 <![CDATA[Catfish Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Catfish-13-1700544-218795.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Catfish-13-1700544-218795.html Wed, 4 Jan 2012 04:43:58 +0000 <![CDATA[The Lovely Bones (2009 movie) Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Lovely_Bones_2009_movie_-13-1568560-218792.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Lovely_Bones_2009_movie_-13-1568560-218792.html Wed, 4 Jan 2012 04:34:16 +0000 <![CDATA[The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (movie) Quick Tip by cyclone_march]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Twilight_Saga_Eclipse_movie_-13-1476371-218789.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Twilight_Saga_Eclipse_movie_-13-1476371-218789.html Wed, 4 Jan 2012 04:24:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Zookeeper Quick Tip by vampire_eyez]]> http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Zookeeper-13-1735338-216679.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Zookeeper-13-1735338-216679.html Wed, 28 Dec 2011 06:58:51 +0000 <![CDATA[ Fight Club: Post-Modern Castration Paranoia]]> NOTE: This was formatted for my blog, so just in case you plan to waste your time reading(as in the pictures and spacing won't be correctly placed) , follow the link :http://rantsofadegenerate.blogspot.com/


"I am Jack's Raging Bile Duct."
Post-Modern Castration Paranoia
 

 
INTRODUCTION:
The 1999 film Fight Club is about..? Well what is Fight Club, here I am sitting on my sofa expecting a 2 hour blood fest of men beating one another within an inch of their life, yet I am served a cold, sardonic pitch upon ‘us’ - the consumer. Years ago, David Fincher served this oddity of a film to the mainstream audiences – ironically our beloved consumers and the impression left was not of the common film; controversy had spread for the films exploitation of filming style, often unconventional narrative structure and most importantly, the films ‘violent’ themes. Perhaps the most self-destructive effect Fight Club caused upon itself was the surprise audiences were given, not because of the films dark undertone, but the lack of violence and predictable plot; audiences were exposed to a film countering their original predictions with an insulting film, criticising the audience for their own admission. Now as time goes by, Fight Club reaches cult status, not necessarily just for its rich subtext, but its kickass approach which makes this film, for the lack of a better word, cool. We’re given a cool experiences which has created what many believe to be a guilty pleasure in filmmaking, garnishing the award for "50 Best Guy Movies of All Time”, perhaps the magazine itself doesn’t realize the misogynistic themes, insulting men’s lack of masculinity of the modern age often because of women and the removal of their endowments. Fight Club’s multiple subplots and themes, ask the viewer to see pass the surface, dealing with consumerism, emasculation and anarchy.  So let’s fall into the rabbit hole, which is Fight Club.

 
SYNOPSIS:

We begin with our protagonist, nameless – often referred to as Jack. Jack suffers insomnia from his modern lifestyle. The lifestyle he lives gives him very little reward for his boredom of an office job, requiring he endanger the lives of thousands (maybe millions) of people’s lives. Unhappy with his life in an office and buried in the IKEA catalogues; he searches for medical help, only to be denied help and mocked by a mocking doctor. Searching for a cure, Jack finds liberty in support groups for people with diseases. When he discovers crying at these groups results in his loss of insomnia, he becomes addicted because people “really listen”.

 
  Soon the introduction of a fellow female liar makes him seek other outlets of his suppressed emotions.  After meeting a ‘single-serving-friend’ on an airplane – Tyler Durden, a man who is the complete opposite of himself, strong, cynical and outspoken - Jack returns to find his condo has caught fire, as well as all of his possessions. From here, Jack moves in with Tyler, creating a Fight Club, for middle-aged men to express their oppressed masculinity.  Soon though, their ‘support group’ spirals out of control into an anarchist group – Project Mayhem. The group then spread anarchy throughout the cities of America, becoming a powerfully organised terrorist group. It is here when Jack confronts Tyler, discovering that Tyler is himself. Tyler was an alter ego created, so Jack could cope with his fears and depression. From here, he attempts to stop Project Mayhem, but only failing, resulting in the destruction of America’s credit companies.

 
NARRATOR/JACK/TYLER:





So who is our humble narrator? Edward Norton plays what is only credited as ‘Narrator’. There has been large deliberation on what his actual name is, although some conclusions can be drawn in the novel (1), the film is a lot more complex in our protagonist’s identity. In addition, the mere existence of Tyler is a complex one, for it is questionable how many things occur throughout the film. First of all, the name of the Narrator is a debatable one. Never is the name revealed in the film or book, only speculation can be made upon it. Our protagonist is a living MacGuffin, to clear the air; Jack is not his real name. Jack is a way for the Narrator to describe himself. The only other possible known name is Tyler Durden. At one point it can be confirmed his name is Tyler, when he calls Marla asking her what his name was, she answers Tyler Durden. However, just because she knew him as Tyler does not mean that he had not created this identity by himself, and later grew it into an alter ego. Jack had used many fake names at his support groups, Cornelius for testicular cancer, perhaps Tyler is for Fight Club. In fact, numerous times throughout the film it is specifically said that he is not Tyler, but simply becoming what he had created. Tyler is an improved vision of himself, as he continues he becomes that vision.

 
“I am free in all the ways that you are not. People do it every day: they talk to themselves; they see themselves, as they'd like to be. Nevertheless, they don't have the courage you have, to just run with it. Naturally, you're still wrestling with it a bit, so sometimes, you're still you. Other times, you imagine yourself watching me. Little by little, you're just letting yourself become...Tyler Durden."

 
Such examples illustrate the slow transformation into another identity. The transformation itself is a long process taking “Jack” over a year to complete. Jack does not suffer insomnia contrary to his belief, but narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is the constant fatigue he suffers from his ‘insomnia’. However, Jack never has insomnia, instead he spends his nights as Tyler – working night jobs at the Pressman Hotel and as a projectionist, and most importantly making soap. All of ‘Tyler’s activities’ takes place while Jack is supposedly not asleep. “What about narcolepsy? I nod off, I wake up in strange places, I have no idea how I got there.” It is shortly after this when Tyler Durden begins to become an image, slowly integrating into Jack’s mind with short flashes leading up to their meeting. (4)  
 










Tyler’s lack of existence is obvious throughout the film (although these clues are not obvious until multiple viewings). There is a clever use of Pitt’s character throughout, some examples are:
 
One: When Jack and Tyler both go onto the bus, Jack only pays a fare for himself. As well as that, when a man walks past, bumping both Jack and Tyler, the man only apologises to Jack.
 
Two: Often Tyler will speak for Jack, and Jack will repeat himself, without the third party noticing Tyler. During the hospital scene, Tyler tells Jack exactly what to say, and Jack repeats himself. Furthermore, while at the Paper St. Residence Marla and Jack speak, but Jack is disrupted by the sounds of construction in the basement, which Marla cannot hear. Again, in this scene he is told what to say to the third party – Marla. 
 
Three: Jack attempts to call Tyler with no answer. Although, Tyler shortly calls him at the same pay phone he just tried to contact him. Tyler says he never answers his phone and he used ’69 to call him back. However, later the Paper St. Residence is revealed to have only rotary phones, which would not be capable of redialling, therefore, Jack had imagined the entire phone call. Later when Jack and Tyler finish drinking at the bar and go home, Jack asks where his car is, Tyler then replies, “What car?” It is then questionable how Tyler managed to get to a bar from such an isolated area – Paper St. 
 
Four: When Tyler finishes having sex with Marla, he opens the door to Jack who was ‘passing by’ and talks with him. Once Jack leaves Marla asks who he was talking to, since there was only two people in the house, this meant Tyler must have been talking to himself, or Jack was talking to himself.
 
Five: When Tyler (who is driving) purposely crashes the car, while recovering Tyler pulls Jack out of the driver’s seat, implying Jack had been driving the whole time.      
 
CASTRATION:
According to David Fincher, "We're designed to be hunters and we're in a society of shopping. There's nothing to kill anymore, there's nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman is created."
 
Feminism is not a detrimental on society (although the film may say otherwise). Feminism in the latest decades has been highly successful in ‘Western Societies’ (I have a personal dislike for this phrase). It has lead to the equilibrium of sexes. Since feminism, many other minorities and groups of social change have arisen, debatably shaping the world into a better place. However, Fight Club’s message is not necessarily that all this is a bad revolution, but it is being done to the point of reversing the problem, this time suppressing men; or alternatively, Fight Club mat very well show that equilibrium is an impossible feet. Of course at the present woman are not as powerful as men in previous ancient societies, but the beginning of this process is leaving men more damaged than ever before. The emasculation of men in society is not only taking the previous tasks that were once theirs, but also taking away the primal instinct of superiority. (2)
 
It can be easily seen that males are made to be a superior sex. Males generally are physically superior and evidentially more inventive – although it’s debatable whether women were given the opportunity to make inventive and creative contributions to our societies. Perhaps the most powerful theme throughout Fight Club is not the irregularity of men assimilating to an equal level with women, but whether it’s possible. In almost all (if not all) societies of past and present have seen men superior. The ‘hunter-gather’ lifestyle saw men the most important and physically powerful sex. What Fight Club asks is whether it is possible to ever fully lose this instinct of ‘hunter-gather’, whether it is possible for men to ever truly become equal – or if woman will abuse their latest increase in power. If men were one day capable of removing the shackles of primal instinct, at what cost would it be? Will assimilation conclude in ultimate depression and self-loathing?            
 
It would be pure denial to say Fight Club is not a misogynistic film. The film screams of fear for the future of the male sex, predominantly at the latest ill attempt to reach equilibrium among the sexes – feminism. The fear manages to effectively mask any other theme of the film, by using hidden subtext, or obvious signs. Jack’s condo and ‘IKEA lifestyle’ is the essential emasculation of our protagonist, quibbling over the fine details which would only gain attention of women in the pre-60’s. 
 
"Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee table in the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogues and wonder, "What kind of dining set defines me as a person?" We used to read pornography. Now it was the Horchow Collection. I had it all. Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of wherever."
 
Our nameless protagonist (referred as his own third-person description of him - Jack) is not the quintessential heroic, rustic man known to a previous lifestyle. In the eye’s of Tyler Durden, Jack is whinging little man, engrossed in the superficial world of consumerism and emasculation. Self-described Jack falls into the ‘nesting instinct’, miserable in the conventions of modern society’s plan – equality. Jack is the model citizen, living to empty his wallet and die, "On a long enough timeline, the survival
rate for everyone drops to zero." At times Jack is shown wanting to be a women. Ever so sarcastically, we are given the obvious hints, "I want bowel cancer!"
 
The crippling disease is demonstrated in Jack’s zombie-like state of self-loathing lethargy. Jack’s miserable attitude is caused mainly by his work, often requiring him to rest on a lovely airplane seat. Physically Jack deteriorates with his inactive lifestyle, and the crippling insomnia. As an insomniac, he searches for the miniscule excitement that is his impulse spending, rewarded with almost no sleep. With no excitement or rest, Jack’s life becomes a slow debilitating death, not only physically, but also to his morale’s. Despite all his problems, he is not a wreck of a person, but a perfect person, "I am Jack's complete lack of surprise". Jack’s lack of existence leaves him as a boring person. Perhaps one of the many reasons for this film’s unpopularity too many is their narrator is a soulless bore spewing words of self-pity. Jack is non-existent to the point of having no name, credited only as ‘Narrator’. It is for these reasons why Jack has Tyler, to support himself and bring out his own primal instinct of masculinity and impulse. For another alternative, Jack escaped his miserable state in various support groups. During the support groups, he was able to release his built up sadness and cry. Although his reliance on these support groups was a gapping weakness, it freed him mentally.
 
Of course, Jack’s temporary enlightenment is put to an end, and you guessed it by a woman. As soon as Jack begun to escape his entrapment of consumerism and gain some of his primal manhood, a woman goes for a kick in the balls and throws him back into the even more pathetic state he originated. In this early stage of the film, there are two major allegories,
 
Our macho primeval. One: The main support group shown throughout the film is the support for testicular cancer. Here Jack meets Bob, "Bob, Bob had bitch tits." This is our introduction to the support group and semi-important character, Bob (Meatloaf). Already in the line above, our Jack uses a womanly insult ‘bitch’ to describe his now womanly assets – large male boobs. Upon that, Robert ‘Bob’ Pulson has a very soft, high-pitched voice, resembling a woman’s. He also has a very kind nature about himself and no balls; Bob is the trigger for Jack to cry. Much like the rest of the film’s metaphorical motifs, Bob is the example of a man hitting rock bottom. He had previously been a body builder, a profession that screams machismo, yet due to the modern use of steroids, becomes the womanly figure he is now. It is at this point, where the small manliness retained is destroyed by a womanly figure, causing Jack to cry and lose his composed self. The rest of the group is no better of an influence, for none of them have their testicles anymore. We hear a story of man, brought to crying because of his ex-wife. The support group itself is a pool of fear of women, and the slow transition to becoming one. Jack’s reliance on groups of this general nature of weakness reflects his own emotional stability. For Jack to free himself of the constant pressure of his ideal modern life, he must further degrade himself, asking for help he does not even need, "And then... something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion - dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom."
 
Two: Marla Singer, our one and only real female character. "If I did have a tumour, I would name it Marla. Marla, the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you would stop tonguing it, but you can't." Marla’s entrance into the support groups (and introduction to the film) results in the ultimate hatred of our humbly broken narrator. Marla is represented as a pest, infecting Jack’s Zen with her mutual lies and constant smoking. Marla lives in poverty dresses darkly and is portrayed as an antagonist. Although she is no out spoken feminist (the enemy), she is the essentially the final straw of Jack’s sanity (or insanity?) leading to the creation of Tyler Durden.
 
To conclude, Fight Club’s message is not of hatred towards the female sex, but fear for the ‘Westernised’ males. Through capitalism and social revolutions, attempting totally equality has changed the primal role of a male. Our film suggests that this is perhaps impossible to ever achieve in a healthy manner. The broken Jack manifests his emotions until he reaches insanity – or potential enlightenment – forcing himself to create what he wishes he could be. This idol he creates himself is a force of inspirations, resurrections and jealousy, which extends to not only Jack, but also huge groups of men wanting to break free of their modern lifestyle, "Our generation has had no Great Depression, no Great War. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives."  Fight Club is ultimately, what Tyler Durden is fighting for, the freedom of men, destructions of corporations and business, and the revival of the ‘hunter-gather’ customs.
 
CONSUMERISM, ANARCHY AND SOAP:
According to Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud, the human psyche contains three main driving forces for our actions and desires. (5) Although rather complex, in short these three are what drives us to carry out what we desire - the Id, Ego and Superego. In Freud’s theory, we are all born with an id. The id is responsible for our basic desires, essential for infancy. Freud believes the id is responsible for our pleasure. To summarise, the id will want what is required at the specific moment, caring for no variables of the certain situation. When an infant is thirsty, the id wants water, thereby resulting in the newborn crying, regardless of whether water can be provided or the situation is appropriate for crying. The id can be describe as selfish as it cares not for anything else then satisfying its current desire. Therefore, the baby wanting water will cry until water is provided, the newborn doesn’t care for time, or if its parents are preoccupied or unable to satisfy the newborn, it will still demand water despite impracticality.
Our (and Jack's ) Psyche.
Freud believes that as a child further develops (age of 3) the ego will develop. The ego, theoretically takes into account the practicality of the id’s desire. The ego understands and analyses variables. The ego ultimately satisfies the id’s desires while taking into account other desires and the fallout its own.  
 
At the age of five, it is said we develop the final drive, the superego. The superego develops as societal customs and restraints influence the child. The superego is the moralistic aspect of a person, taking into account normative of society.  On whole, the id is responsible for our most primitive desires, taking in no consideration of potential hazards or impracticability. The ego controls the id with reason, and associates the superego, surpassing just logic to cultural preferences. The id is the aggressive and sexual desires, controlled only by modern civilisation’s customs, Freud stated:
 
 "Men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him."
 
Jack’s creation of Tyler and ‘change’ into him is explainable by the extreme differences in the superego. Jack had been raised in beliefs positive to consumerism. As the Freud theory surfaced, it was used by business to exploit the id’s desire, replacing id’s original desires (aggression and sexual) with the product being sold. Jack’s altered id was responsible for his desire to fill his void will products, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?” With the id effectively buried under the control of advertisers, his environment easily influences the superego. Jack’s superego, or ideology leads him to believe his current life of depression and boredom is the typical ladder to stardom and wealth. The path he takes is what he is raised to attempt, fuelling consumerism. Tyler is the polar opposite to Jack; Tyler’s superego is the same as his id’s desires. Tyler’s superego is as primitive as the id, being our desires without the account of potential hazard or fallout. Therefore, Tyler’s ideology is pure to his ancestors design in thought, like in Freud’s statement; Tyler’s desires are violent and sexual. However, Tyler himself does not directly circum to primitive thinking without thought; Tyler develops a divine plan to do what he believes is correct and essential for the survival of civilisation, which is to restore our original ids – by returning to the dark ages. Of course, Jack’s superego and suppressed id does not agree with Tyler’s pure ideology, resulting in the creation of an alter ego – ego being the balance between the id and superego, with the conflicting beliefs and loss of balance, another ego must be created to support the psychological stress.
 
Fight Club’s intention was for the viewer to realise the change of nature and ‘controlled’ ids in our post-modern society. After the turn of World War Two, the “middle children of history” were bombarded with latest societal trend: 
 
“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. we've all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”
   
Aggressive tactics.  Tyler’s philosophy is the alter ego of Jack, conflicting with his original ego. His rebellion stems from his id, defying the damage that has been done to him by society’s fast-paced consumerism. Tyler’s desire is to return to ‘the beginning’. This involves anarchism to counter modern technologies. Tyler’s specific policy on government is never revealed. Capitalism is the opposition of Tyler. Capitalism is responsible for the surge of business and freedom to own and sell assets, resulting in the growth of consumerism. In this case, Marxism is the obvious approach as a direct retaliation to Capitalism, highly influenced by the Cold War. Tyler does use some Marxism for the sense of equality, but in the very same time includes Fascism and Anarchy. "You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else." Here Tyler’s words stay true to the sense of Marxism of ‘equality’ of all, but in at the very same time uses Fascist techniques to gain control. Through series of brainwashing and intense conditioning, Tyler exploits the men’s weaknesses to gain full control. Fight Club and Project Mayhem are strictly for men only. Remembering the insecurities of post-modern men, Tyler offers the outlet for desperate men, thereby exploiting their desires – Tyler does this by appealing to their suppressed ids. Furthermore, although Marxism and Fascism is used for control and some ideology, anarchy is the ultimate tool of execution. Project Mayhem gains influences by committing acts of vandalism, often seeming random and for the sake of ‘slowing progress’. However, beyond mere execution using anarchy, Tyler’s final wish on society could quite possibly be Anarchism – returning to the dark ages. In Tyler’s vision he speaks of roaming through ruins of cities, hunting wild animals are all signs of the vision of our now obsolete primeval lifestyles (in most parts of the world).  
 
The infamous pink soap, like many other aspects of the film, is a symbol itself. Throughout Fight Club, pink soap is often just ‘around’. The soap proves that not a single frame was wasted in this film, but everything shown has some level of subtext. The soap happens to be one of the most important motifs. When asked what he does for a living, Tyler identifies himself as a soap manufacturer, ignoring his other jobs as a projectionist and waiter at the prestigious Pressman Hotel. Soaps significance plays a crucial role, as Tyler states soap is, the foundation of civilization”. First, soap is used for the productions of nitro-glycerine, resulting in the explosives used for Tyler’s ultimate plan; with this comes to explosives used to destroy Jack’s apartment, which symbolises the beginning of Jack’s new life, “the first soap was made from the ashes of heroes”. Therefore, soap as Tyler describes is the root and foundation of society, and especially in this case, the actions leading to Jack’s anarchist regime: purification, cleanliness and enlightenment. Furthermore, soap is also a drive for their plans. In order to make soap, the two (one) must steal fat from a liposuction clinic; thus, kick starting the chain of vandalism and anarchy. The ‘soap’ is made into either explosives; or the fat created into soap for “selling rich women their own fat asses”. Beyond the sense of purifying the negative effects of post-modern society, in the department store its shown as higher class. Tyler and Jack selling women their ‘own fat asses’ shows a contempt for the higher class, placing Jack in a lower level. Therefore, soap is seen as form of purification and drive for Project Mayhem and differences in people by financial classes.
 
OUR FINAL MESSAGE:
Upon our final scene, we are given a message. 3 minutes. This is it. Here we are at the beginning. Ground zero. Would you like to say a few words to mark the occasion?” (soon followed by the humorous remark, ‘flashback humour’.) It is this part of the movie, where it asks something of the viewer. The ‘ground zero’ remark brings up the thought of a beginning, asking men to understand the message and take action. Whether Fight Club intended for direct copycats on the film’s Project mayhem, or just for awareness to their consumerist lifestyle, we are asked to take some action.   
 
Fight Club’s overruling message has unfortunately been heard upon deaf ears. Its status as a Cult Film insists that only a select group truly understand what the film attempted to voice. It’s unfortunate that many have accepted Fight Club’s oddity as entertainment. Entertainment value of the film is quite powerful; although too many let the title itself discourage, many assume it’s a simple film about violence. And to be fair, Fight Club without its deep subtext is a whole bunch of seemingly random, far-fetched events, and this is how many see the film. Howard Hampton comments:
 
“. . . Fight Club generated no noticeably baleful side effects whatsoever. Are left-wing critics and right-wing politicians the only ones left who believe in the potency of "transgression"? What is the world coming to when a movie featuring charismatic performers revealing in anti-social behaviour and a host of semi-subliminal advertisements for the joys of chaos can't incite a single unbalanced loner to commit a kamikaze act of homage?”
 
Overall, Fight Club beckons many questions and ideology without ever fully creating awareness beyond a selective group. Fight Club takes on many challenging issues, expressing the fear post-modern society will have upon men. Although the film may not be anti-feminist, it does question whether it will be possible for men to ever adjust as society expects them. Through Capitalism, Consumerism and equilibrium we are denying our id’s desires to be met. Is it possible to deny our primeval drives and essentially evolve, or will our modernisation result in the deterioration of our sanity due to abnormal stress? Fight Club’s answer to this problem is to return to a simpler time, a time where primeval instinct ruled supreme. This may be our only options to retain not only our species sanity and survival, but the preservation of our future.      

 

 References 
(1)I have not read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, this writing is solely directed to the film; otherwise it may become a comparison. Therefore, any conclusions drawn are from the film only, even though it may contradict information in the novella.
(2)Any beliefs throughout the film may not be of my own thoughts and beliefs, although I will be writing what the film believes creating a biased style, I may at times put in my own opinions.
(3)Jack is not the real name of the protagonist; it is just a fake name replacing ‘Narrator’ (as it is credited). This originates from use of the phrase by the character himself, which he found in old medical books, “I am Jack’s cold sweat”.
(4) [Pictures of Tyler Durden]
(5) [Picture of Sigmund Freud’s chart]

 

 
http://www.eeggs.com/items/3312.html
http://www.jademyst.com/essays/11.html
http://www.thefilmjournal.com/issue8/fightclub.html
http://whitewolf.htmlplanet.com/quotes.html
http://ezinearticles.com/?Fight-Club,-Consumer-Psychology,-and-Redemption&id=905360
http://allpsych.com/psychology101/ego.html
http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Symbolism-Movie-Fight-Club/67951

 
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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Fight_Club_1999_movie_-48-1004484-216605-Fight_Club_Post_Modern_Castration_Paranoia.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Fight_Club_1999_movie_-48-1004484-216605-Fight_Club_Post_Modern_Castration_Paranoia.html Sun, 25 Dec 2011 15:23:32 +0000
<![CDATA[ Great fun from1935 - She]]> I have been under the weather the past week nursing a really bad cold.   I have spent a lot of time under the comforter watching old movies on Netflix.   I have been watching some really old films from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  I really enjoy watching the early talkies from the 1930’s.  There is still that silent film feeling to the movie without the sophistication we have today in film which makes them fun to watch.  This afternoon I watched She from 1935.  I saw the 1965 version of this movie many years ago on late night TV.  It starred Ursula Andress and Peter Cushing.  I remember thinking it was a great deal of fun at the time.  I had no idea that the original be even more fun to watch.    The 1935 version stars  Helen Gahagan, Randolph Scott, Helen Mack, and Nigel Bruce.    The story is pure fantasy with Randolph Scott  searching for the Flame of Life in the Arctic and falling under the spell of its guardian the queen who is know as She Who Must Be Obeyed.   The credits say from the producers of King Kong.  And you can see some of the sets from the original King Kong being used in this movie.  What stands out most is the large gates that were used to hold Kong back on his island home in the tropics.  The show up once more as the gates to the kingdom in this land in the artic.  The large drums from the jungle scene in Kong as seen and played again at the gates in this movie also.    The acting is not great by todays standards but for being a transitional from from the silent films to the talkies its fun to see the progression of the actors from one period to the next.   There is no giant ape in this film to be the monster.  Instead the real monster is the sexual desire of She Who Must Be Obeyed.    Strong stuff for the 1930’s.  I read that the costumes and character of She were the inspiration for the evil queen in Snow White.  Looking at it now I can see the inspiration.  This was a lot of fun to watch.  If your stuck in the house with a bad cold, or its just one of those rainy Saturdays, this movie is fun choice to pass some time.   


 

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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/d/UserReview-She-48-1452978-215931-Great_fun_from1935_She.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/d/UserReview-She-48-1452978-215931-Great_fun_from1935_She.html Fri, 2 Dec 2011 05:54:41 +0000
<![CDATA[Watchmen (2009 film) Quick Tip by KingreX32]]>
See i never read the graphic novel so I went into the theater (opening day might I add) expecting a classic Superhero movie, (Spiderman, Batman, Superman, you know) Watchmen was very different though. It was alot more serious and mature than I was expecting so obviously I came out of the theater hating this flick. I realize now though that most of the people who said they liked this movie read the graphic novel so they picked up on things I didn't. That's why i have yet to review this movie i don't wanna seem biased.

I'm posting this Quick tip now though because for some reason Ive gained a renewed interest in this movie can i kinda wanna see it again. So fingers crossed I can find it somewhere.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Watchmen_2009_film_-13-1357287-215760.html http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/reviews/movie/UserReview-Watchmen_2009_film_-13-1357287-215760.html Sat, 26 Nov 2011 16:27:54 +0000
<![CDATA[Oldboy Quick Tip by woopak_the_thrill]]> See Full Review here.

Too bad Spike Lee is about to remake this film for American viewers. Mark my words, it will NOT work. I cringe as to how the remake will become. But then again, it will probably be an attempt to make it more aimed to mainstream viewers.

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<![CDATA[ A visual feast and emotionally delightful comedy.]]>
"Amelie" is a brilliant work of cinema that contains one of the most delightful and instantly endearing heroines ever put on film. Written and directed by the French visual magician Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film is quite the sucker punch; spiked with the kind of imaginative visual flare that you'd expect from the attached director, but with more depth in its story than the man was ever thought capable of handling. Just look at Jeunet's earlier films - "Delicatessen" and "The City of Lost Children" - and you will see that he'd never made something quite like "Amelie" before he finally did. Sure, I've liked the filmmaker's other films just fine; they are often easy to swallow and likable in their exploration of pure pleasure and whimsy. But something whimsical can only go so far, and I think Jeunet understands this. And that is why his scenario-based screenplay and visionary eye for the beauty all around us are two expected qualities that really work here. If it's a whimsy comedy, then "Amelie" is one of the best.

Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) was raised through a sheltered life-style. Home schooled and without friends for her entire life; she was at the mercy of her imagination, which was quite expansive indeed. In her fascinating, hopeful, yet troubled childhood; she lost a parent, kept one, and lacked all communication with the outside world. So when she grows up to become a pleasant young lady and has to face the real world, she doesn't know quite how to cope with it.

We are given a highly detailed and often times quite funny look at the heroine's childhood days. After this, we are given a glimpse of her later life; as a waitress for a small café. The café itself is really something else; so much so, in fact, that Jeunet feels the need to introduce each eccentric character within it. He does so quite passionately, and sometimes, even hilariously. But "Amelie" is not about the café and those who often drown their sorrows while in it; Jeunet's film is, indeed, the kind of cinematic trip that inspires through a whole new kind of journey.

Amelie's quiet life changes forever on the day that Princess Diane dies. In shock upon hearing the news via the television, she drops a bottle cap, which rolls onto the floor and makes contact with a bathroom wall tile. She removes the tile and behind it, she discovers a little box filled with the childhood treasures of a now-aged male. She is intent on finding the original owner, and she eventually does. Pleased by the end results of her first quest, Amelie decides that it would do her good to make others happy; she takes up the duty and responsibility of being a hidden, shy "Guardian Angel" type figure. She enjoys such a position for quite some time; opening new romantic doors for friends to close other troubled ones from the past, and also helping the assistant of a sadistic and bullying grocery stand worker earn his place in the world (and at his work).

I guess the most important points in Amelie's self-journey would be the moments where she meets her sheltered and elderly neighbor, and also when she falls in love with a strange man named Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) who would rather spend his days collecting the fragments of photographs from under photo-booths. They meet through fate and in the end, fall in love with just the same philosophy at play. In short, "Amelie" is indeed a very romantic film; is studies love, embodies itself in it, and is playful with the philosophies and musings that come with such a concept all-the-same. It's such a great, beautiful, entertaining film that I don't dare go any further in the description of its plot. I'll leave you to figure out the rest and put the pieces back together by yourself.

I don't remember being completely blown away by the film upon my first viewing. With films like this one, I rarely am. I guess it all comes down to whether I'm willing to give it a few more chances, and since my initial viewing experience left me very pleased indeed, I was open-minded and have since watched it a few more times. I think I now understand why it's such a highly praised and respected film; it is superb not only for the visual stylistics that Jeunet applies to the story at hand, but also solely for the story itself. Love stories -and this is certainly one of them - are seldom told with such wit and flawless understanding. We sympathize with the characters and we like most of them. This is an essential ingredient when the going gets rough, and emotions are at play. There is some reasonably resonance to be found here. The film is not a tear-jerker, so don't go in expecting THAT kind of emotional power, but maybe the film works on different levels. I dunno. Maybe I'll have to go back and watch it again (and again...and again) to decide. Luckily for me, I wouldn't mind doing that the slightest bit.

And I say that with honesty. I enjoyed every last second of the film; every joke and every moment of emotions ranging from joy to melancholy were absolutely entertaining in every sense of the word. You'll have tough luck finding a better human dramedy when a fantastic example like this one is existent. Some might find the combination of "real" drama and stylish visuals distractingly surreal; I think it makes the film the unique and delightful little artistic treat that it is. I believe it is a film so utterly unique that a great review for it is nigh impossible. So if you leave this review thinking that I have not given out enough information regarding the specific scenes that I liked and if the film has any "flaws"; I am telling you right now that this is simply the best I could do when it came to reviewing "Amelie". I loved the film, I really, really did. But even those who loved, loved, loved it - much like me - will have trouble summarizing it in short. Words are limited; and we must preserve. So there's that; here's this; and "Amelie" is a one-of-a-kind work of art that I whole-heartedly recommend to just about every soul out there with a keen eye for humanity and creativity in the way of joyous lunacy.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Amelie-48-1382167-215349-A_visual_feast_and_emotionally_delightful_comedy_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Amelie-48-1382167-215349-A_visual_feast_and_emotionally_delightful_comedy_.html Sun, 13 Nov 2011 20:12:50 +0000
<![CDATA[ Holds a special memory for me - The Agony and The Ecstasy]]> What's the film about?  The story of the painting of the Sistine Chapel find Charlton Heston playing yet another iconic historic figure, Michelangelo.   The story is based on the novel by Irving Stone the story follows the life of Michelangelo and his concludes with his painting of the Sistine Chapel.

 

Who was the classic actor/actress?  
Charlton Heston plays Michelangelo and Rex Harrison plays Pope Julius II.   Were they lovers?   Did they hate each other?  Its hard to tell from the movie.  Read the novel for the full story.   But watch the movie for the fun of watching Heston and Harrison chew the scenery and over act in such a joyous way its fun to watch.

 

Why did you choose this film?  
The movie is not great by any means.  It was never popular with the critics and was never a box office success.  Yet it hold a special memory for me.  My eighth grade art class took a field trip from our tiny little school in rural north eastern Maryland to the big city of Baltimore in 1965 to see this movie.  We went to the Mayfair Theatrt, one of those huge classic movie houses of the time.  Even a minor film looked wonderful on the huge screen here.  It was such a thrill to be able to go the city and see this movie.  I now live in Baltimore.  The classic theater The Mayflower is in ruins.  The outer walls remain but the movie house itself is all but gone.  But when I drive past the theater today I still have that memory of being an eighth grade boy seeing Charlton and Rex on the big screen capturing my imagination.

 

What's the bottom line?
A film that took itself way to serious and tried to be far better that it was, The Agony and The Ecstasy is still a fun film to watch even today.  Make some popcorn, get a cold soda and escape for a couple of hours and enjoy one of those big overblown 1960's Hollywood epics.

 

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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Agony_and_the_Ecstasy-48-1335171-215014-Holds_a_special_memory_for_me_The_Agony_and_The.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-The_Agony_and_the_Ecstasy-48-1335171-215014-Holds_a_special_memory_for_me_The_Agony_and_The.html Sat, 5 Nov 2011 07:38:07 +0000
<![CDATA[ My favorite classic film - Casablanca]]> What's the film about?
Its hard to say what this film is about.  Its a war movie, its a romantic movie, its a period drama.  Yet its none of these and at the same time all of these.  In my opinion its a timeless movie about two people who are reunited at the wrong place and at the wrong time.  Yet its the right place and the perfect time for the story.   
 

Who was the classic actor/actress?  Humphrey Bogart was never better.  Ingrid Bergman was never more beautiful.  Paul Henreid in one of his best roles.  Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Sidney Greenstreet round out the classic actors in this film.    Its hard to imagine a cast this talented all in one film.   

 

Why did you choose this film?  Many critics consider Gone With The Wind to be the classic movie that all others are compared to for some reason.  It has the scope, the beautiful technicolor, and all that is needed to qualify it for this honor.  But without the scope, the color, and the huge dramatic background, Casablanca far surpasses Gone With The Wind for me.  Is touches on so many emotional levels.  

 

What's the bottom line?  Its my favorite movie.  The classic dialogue, the music, As Time Goes By, Bogey and Bergman, Bogey and Rains, Greenstreet and Lorre.  This movie has it all.

 

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http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Casablanca_movie_-48-1007277-215013-My_favorite_classic_film_Casablanca.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Casablanca_movie_-48-1007277-215013-My_favorite_classic_film_Casablanca.html Sat, 5 Nov 2011 07:17:08 +0000
<![CDATA[ Classic fright/camp film. I loved it.]]>
I had no idea that the concepts of Camp had originated from so far back in cinematic time, but "House on Haunted Hill" proves, furthermore, that such things existed even way back in the good old 50's. It was directed by William Castle; who got his reputation for making cheesy but entertaining and well-executed camp classics such as this. He also had an eye for the atmospheric, the genuinely creepy, and the morbidly humorous; which I kind of admire. Plenty of filmmakers, even today, are reminiscent of people such as Castle; but none come quite close to mastering the artistry that is being able to craft pure fun. Castle was the kind of guy who understood that people need fun in their lives; be it through cinema, life experiences, or whatever else existence itself has in store for us all. And if fun itself is a high art, then "House on Haunted Hill" is a masterpiece, a true classic, and something to remember for years to come. It's a film so joyously over-the-top and ghoulish that I might revisit it a few times just to have the experience all over again, since it becomes apparent, over time, that it's less of a film and more of a visit to that titular house, which as the title suggest, is indeed on a hill; but about it being haunted, who knows?

What's not to like? Here's a film with an intriguing premise, some crazy and hilarious new gimmicks (which were short-lived, but at least the film invented...SOMETHING), and a leading role played by the legendary (and personal favorite) Vincent Price. It was already an appealing and seemingly worthwhile package, but this film actually surprised me in how good it was. I believe there is a side of cinema that is existent just to entertain ("Demons"), and then there's the significantly more...popular side, which most good films rest on. "House on Haunted Hill" deserves its reputation as a classic in horror cinema because it entertains through an intelligent, understanding approach to its subjects as well as the performances of its stars. I was quite charmed.

Five people are chosen at random and invited to stay overnight at a rich man's (Price) mansion. They arrive on time and expect the unexpected, as they have been told that the house is haunted by ghosts of the deceased. What the home-owner does not tell his guests is the fact that he shall lock the doors at midnight; and to get the large sum of money that each person has been promised (as they most certainly have), they must all survive through the madness and mayhem that is about to ensue. A few of the attendees start seeing ghosts; and one tells ghastly stories of the home's haunted history. This begins the night that we are about to witness; a night to remember, a night difficult to forget. All-in-all, it's also a pleasant and appropriately ghastly one; filled with surprises, scares, and plenty of unexpected laughs.

Of course, a good number of those laughs come from Price himself; a funny, charming, unique man of the genre. He brings often times snappy, humorous, and brilliant dialogue into a film that normally wouldn't have any of such a thing. That aside, "House on Haunted Hill" remains a standard, appropriately clichéd, but old-fashioned haunted house movie; and it's perfectly fine as it is.

I believe that sophistication and a deeper "meaning" would have ruined my movie-watching experience all-together. Sometimes, I complain when a horror movie lacks depth; and sometimes I'm fine with a focus for visual images and atmosphere. This film has such a focus; and it's admirable from beginning-to-end. Most of the audience will probably enjoy it; and die-hard genre fans might even love it. "House on Haunted Hill" has a seductive, uncanny, unfailing ability to capture our hearts through moments of humor and ghastly going-ons. One of my favorite scenes is the finale; where Price reveals both sides of the con. It's a pure B-movie conclusion; and I adored it.

The fact that it's a haunted house movie, and a good one at that, should tell you all you need to know about Castle's flick when going in. I'd say it's for most people; a very enjoyable, well-acted, and appropriately cheesy film that accomplishes just about all that it intends to, but alas, there is some seriously impressive work here; which elevates it to a personal genre favorite from just another solid haunted house film. "House on Haunted Hill" is delightfully diabolical and ghoulishly good; so gimmicky, so corny, yet so addicting. It's nice, once in a while, to have a horror movie that has its arms open; ready to be loved. Price is a presence that allows such a thing; and what his charm alone makes him a screen legend. There was nobody quite like him, and on his better days, he was able to take good films and make them great. Here's an excellent example of what I call the "Price Transformation". Now onwards to see more of these films. I have been intrigued.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-House_on_Haunted_Hill_1959_film_-48-1583907-214648-Classic_fright_camp_film_I_loved_it_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-House_on_Haunted_Hill_1959_film_-48-1583907-214648-Classic_fright_camp_film_I_loved_it_.html Tue, 25 Oct 2011 20:14:47 +0000
<![CDATA[ 'The Best']]> Citizen Kane

"Rosebud..." 

"Welles's accidental semi-autobiographical film stops trying to tell a good story, but tells a story perfectly." 
Is this the greatest film of all time? Well to answer this question we have to understand the type of person who watches this film. When someone out of the blue decides to become a film critic, of course they rummage through various critic's lists and polls', searching to see what 'the best' is. And of course it results in Citizen Kane, a towering figure in film. From here our young critical prodigy will watch the movie, and have two attitudes as the credits role, they will either chant, "I have no idea what was going on, but that was brilliant!". This is the predominant attention seeker of the critical world, going for 'the best' and going with the crowd, lying to themselves, for Citizen Kane is extremely dull for a first time viewer, and in all honesty, I did the same as many; I smiled and gave the full thumbs and waved, taking the glory of being smart. And of course, there is the other type of reaction, the "There wasn't a single gun in that whole movie! I'm gonna tell everyone how wrong they are and violently attack how boring this movie is, and tomorrow, oh and I gotta host my Avatar appreciation party tomorrow..." 
It's a real shame that this common reactions of a first time reviewer, they either fall into a state of denial and lie to themselves, or become a massive cock, to which will result in the stroking of his ego till the grave. Luckily after two years experience I thought I'd tackle this colossal film once again, and I was overwhelmed. Citizen Kane is really quite intimidating in all manner for up and coming filmmakers. Many call this film influential, I on the other hand see it as a dream crusher, especially when you realise Orson Welles made a movie about himself and was just given the award for best of the business, leaving us wannabes to cower in our rooms, crying yourself to sleep as unworthy, and thereby settle for being an egotistical prick, hence my writing this. When you look at this film closely, there is so much method into every single shot being done, every shot is trying to say something, or trying to convey a point, then pull out your magnifier and look even closer and your sure to see even more to the point of bring you to tears, because it reminded you of the bully teasing you about his superior muscles. The mere idea of writing an essay on this film puts my brains into shambles. 

The film is a story of a newspaper tycoon (based upon William Randolph Hearst), brought up in an adopted family of huge wealth. For reasons I never quite grasped from the film (feel free to explain below), Charles Foster Kane is taken from his family, at their will for some pay, and then taken into the world of privilege, where he takes whatever he wants, and he chooses a small newspaper. It opens with a news reel, telling all there was to know, then follows a reporter trying to learn the meaning behind his final word, "Rosebud"
Within all fairness, the film's story is a rather dull one, certainly understandably causing criticism amongst any modern audience, untrained in appreciating film. Yet in its entire plot, were told in such ingenious ways, brilliantly breaking conventions of the era in which it was made, and giving modern films a run for its money. What Welles does is effectively casting away the whole story of the film, but tells of a man, Charles Foster Kane. Often [i]Citizen Kane[i/] seems to be well aware of itself being a movie, the viewer is constantly aware that it is in fact a movie being watched, and Welles plays with this. Welles's accidental semi-autobiographical film stops trying to tell a good story, but tells a story perfectly. 

Now in a film I believe to be as close as you get to perfect, the weakest part of the film is its performances. The acting is shockingly mediocre, of course Welles tried to bring many newcomers to the industry, and for many it's their first. Now that's all well and good for a small independent film, a mere launch pad for future talents, but Citizen Kane IS film. It is perhaps the most important and powerful film to ever be made, and its unfortunate that the acting lacks any dynamic aspects, not to say its bad, but its small actors in a huge film. 
However, Welles's performance, although not exactly a great one, is certainly a powerful performance, fitting the grandeur of the film. In a sense the second-rate performances are a part of Kane's success, as I had said the film is much like a documentary, or template on a perfect film, than it is an actual film. Once this is established, mediocrity is acceptable to keep the spotlight in the correct place. 

Oh dear me, now to try explaining the genius in Welles's direction would be nothing but an understatement. It's as if every shot of this film was telling a story of its own, pushing boundaries on how something could be shown. Ultimately, the direction is perhaps the best to ever be contributed to the cinema, and it's Welles's direction, which carries the film to a completely different style of film, where it is more or less a handbook, than a film. Ironically direction will be my short coming of my review, since to even begin o explain the direction would result in an essay I neither have the time nor ability to complete. 

Overall, Citizen Kane is quite possibly the greatest film ever made. Although film is far too subjective to ever draw a conclusion to this title, Kane has won enough lists and polls to fill the shoes of an invisible film, an enigma. However, to call this film flawless would be completely wrong, for it has many problems, especially in its performances, yet perhaps all intended. It would be wrong to say the film is flawless, but it would be quite accurate to say Citizen Kane has the most control and awareness of any other film. The only real problem I had with this film is it lacks an emotional touch, which perhaps is the reasoning for many disliking this film; as brilliant this film might be, I can hardly find myself visiting it again anytime soon. Welles has effectively made a documentary of film, and how to do it, which was all achieved at the young age of 26. It was from then on Welles proved that he had perhaps told his own future, making Kane a chilling autobiography. 

Comments/votes preferred on RT, but My Blog: http://movieswithjhone.blogspot.com/2011/10/citizen-kane-1941.html]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Citizen_Kane-48-1012353-214371-_The_Best_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Citizen_Kane-48-1012353-214371-_The_Best_.html Mon, 17 Oct 2011 21:36:25 +0000
<![CDATA[ Sadly disappointing and rather boring.]]>
Plenty of effort went into making "Scream 3". Wes Craven would be my first choice - or at least one of them - when it comes to the slasher genre and who I like working in that field. Craven is skilled at making these films, even when some of them take a turn for the joylessly silly. Yes, Craven is the director behind "Scream 3", just as he was for the first three films, with the only real difference being a change of writer; Ehren Kruger fills in the shoes of Kevin Williamson. I did not think that this would make so much of a difference, but did it ever. Williamson was clearly well-read and self-educated when it came to horror and slasher cinema, and out of his knowledge, he was able to craft funny, intelligent, playful screenplays for good ol' Wes. However, Kruger is not quite as talented. There aren't enough laughs or extended scenes of well-written and witty dialogue here to keep die-hard fans of the series hooked. Some might enjoy it because Craven still takes over as the creative mastermind behind every gutting, stabbing, and stalking; but common criticism and the rules that accompany it are telling me that "Scream 3" just doesn't work. It may have a few good scenes - that I am sure of - but it needs something more, and the screenwriter isn't able to put most things into place.

So it's the concluding chapter of the "Scream" trilogy (or is it?). Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is now working as a crisis intervention counselor; deep into seclusion, attempting to forget or deny her rough past. She's lost a few boyfriends, a few friends, a few family members; many people have been stabbed by the infamous Ghostface in the course of these three films. The "rules" have not changed at all since "Scream 2", but the story sure has. As with the other two installments, the third chapter of this epic saga opens with a highly entertaining and creative sequence in which an important (or un-important) character is harassed and brutally slaughtered by the series' signature killer. The two victims are Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), the falsely convicted man who was proven innocent at the end of "Scream" and given characterization by the time the sequel had begun, as well as his girlfriend. This triggers the gun to fire; the race is on.

The film also means the return of nigh-pathetic cop Dewey (David Arquette) and his love interest, the news lady Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox). Both are investigating the killings of the film, most of which, this time around, center on the third installment of the in-movie "Stab" film franchise; which seems to be a killer new addition. Members of the cast are killed off one-by-one, and there are some genuinely amusing new faces to be found here among them. I won't spoil too many of them for you, and as far as story goes, that's as far as I'll take it and as much as I will say.

You know what to expect out of these films. They are satirizations of the slasher films from the 80's, 90's, and now. They unfold like those films do and sort of poke fun at the conventions and clichés that we are expected to remember from such movies. That's fun and all, but "Scream 3" seems more like a test of my patience than a good time. The satire seems to have worn off, and the clichés that these films are supposed to be SPOOFING are alas catching up with the franchise. "Scream 3" is not a complete failure, but it is most certainly a hell of a disappointing and mediocre way to end a trilogy. At least they have recently released a "Scream 4", which I hear is bigger, better, bloodier, and more polished. I wonder what I'll make of it.

To speak of the more positive aspects of the film, I think I'll mention some of the scenes that I liked. My absolute favorite scene involved the character of Gale walking out of a film studio and running into the popular Jay and Silent Bob characters. If you don't know who those lovable pot-smoking dudes from Kevin Smith's "Clerks" (Smith also portrays Silent Bob) are, then this scene will mean nothing; but I'm a fan of Smith's...better works, and this scene stuck out. Another good scene involved one of the actresses from the "Stab 3" film hiding amongst several Ghostface production costumes from a killer dressed in the same exact mask, gloves, and cloak. In fact, any scene in the film involving the study of the in-movie production was rather entertaining; but unfortunately, it's still not enough to impress. There are several inspired moments, and the film is well-acted and well-played, but for the true fans of this franchise, it's a bumpy and surprisingly, rather boring ride.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Scream_3-48-1026848-214115-Sadly_disappointing_and_rather_boring_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Scream_3-48-1026848-214115-Sadly_disappointing_and_rather_boring_.html Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:42:03 +0000
<![CDATA[ Shockingly solid slasher satire sequel.]]>
"Scream 2" is all whimsy, all wit, and all entertainment. I don't find it quite as funny, scary, or unforgettable as the film that it is a follow-up to, but it works in the same ways as the original film and operates well with Wes Craven returning as its director. The man who penned the first "Scream", Kevin Williamson, also hops aboard and once again does a pretty good job at providing us with what's simply put, a screaming good time. If you go to these movies for anything more or anything less, then you may not find this sequel to your liking. But then again, if you're one of those people, then you probably saw "Scream" and lacked the ability to see what everyone else was apparently seeing. It's not exactly difficult to find humor in something as deliciously over-the-top as "Scream" or its sequel, but there are of course, detractors. Perhaps this isn't their idea of a good time. That's too bad. As long as they can have fun otherwise, then I think we're OK. "Scream 2" is made for a certain audience, and luckily, I'm not in the minority when I say that it's actually pretty darn good.

Most of the original cast returns for the film, which was a nice surprise. If you didn't know already, "Scream" was a somewhat groundbreaking and undeniably original horror film in which the characters had seen the horror films that we saw; and the film set out to satirize the genre as a whole. If you know what to expect from that set-up, then you know what to expect from "Scream 2". It leaves off from the first film; which ended in a bloody finale that was as hilariously well-written as it was appropriately violent and intense. The first film involved a vile, sadistic stalker/serial killer who made creepy, flirtatious house-calls to young women in which he would ask them horror trivia and the like. They were playing for people's lives, or at least, that was how it was with the first game. But as we know, in the end, the killer(s) were revealed, and the story had seemingly ended. Boy, were we fooled!

Sidney (Neve Campbell), the central heroine from the first feature, returns here as the main role. You've got a nice change of location, as Sidney is studying at a college now, and you've got most of the characters that you remember from "Scream", so really, it's all a matter of what Craven and his filmmaking team do next. Sidney has a new boyfriend (Jerry O'Connell), and since her original circle of friends was killed by the end of "Scream", some new amigos. This includes Mickey (Timothy Olyphant), Hallie (Elise Neal), and Randy (Jamie Kennedy) who, come to think of it, was indeed in the first film. So there; not everyone was stabbed to death.

You thought the murders had stopped, but you'd be wrong. The psycho killer known as "Ghostface" is back and at it again; first starting at a movie screening in which a film based on the brutal events of the first film is having its world premiere. A couple is killed. The news people get involved. And when I say that, I hope you think of Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox); the nosy news lady from the first film, who would consistently intrude on the lives of the victims and friends. She hasn't changed a bit.

"Scream 2" is ridiculously predictable, but only because it wants to be. We know every twist, and we know just about everything that Craven is going to do with his story, but here; I don't think it's all about storytelling. This is yet another fine satire of the slasher film, so Craven's central fixation is film references and dialogue. It's an intelligently written film, where the scenes of brilliance certainly stand out among other things. I think you'll like it as long as you enjoyed "Scream"...and as long as you can tolerate graphic violence.

This isn't a great film, like its predecessor. It's well-acted, and made as only a Wes Craven slasher film can be, so if you go in looking for a good time; then that's what you will get. I didn't expect greatness, and what I got was goodness, so I was alright. There's some good writing and direction that went into the product, and in the end, it kind of works well; or at least well enough to impress this guy here.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Scream_2-48-1017777-214106-Shockingly_solid_slasher_satire_sequel_.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Scream_2-48-1017777-214106-Shockingly_solid_slasher_satire_sequel_.html Sun, 9 Oct 2011 20:29:49 +0000
<![CDATA[ Love hurts; as do painful memories. But we must still cling on to them.]]>
We remember a lot of good things in life; that, as I believe, is given. We remember because we want to, and because these are the moments that ultimately save us in times of doubt or depression. I have embraced the times; no matter how hard they may be. I've enjoyed myself plenty and am content, but those not-so-good memories will linger forevermore. They cannot be avoided; they can be forgotten, easily through healing and otherwise with at least a little bit of a struggle. I have as many painful memories as the average human being should have, and you know what; I don't regret them.

Why would I? Such memories allowed me to invest emotionally in Michel Gondry's brilliant "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"; which is the artistic creation of both Gondry and his writer, the exquisite Charlie Kaufman, who penned "Being John Malkovich". Here, he's wrote yet another relatable and unique work of dramatic fiction; blending the romance with the psychedelic style of its filmmaker. Everything is in place; everything works. I guess the most I can say is that expect the unexpected, when going into the film, and you'll have a good trip. Cinematic trips, on their own, are not for everyone; and this film is no exception. However, I believe that there is an audience that will greatly appreciate Kaufman's warped vision; and cherish it just as I have. This is my third visit to the movie's surreal labyrinths, sidewalks, city-streets, and bookstores. And there doesn't appear to be a rest stop.

I enjoy stories of the shy men of this world over the ones where everything seems to work out for the best; all the way through. Being a genuine shy-guy myself, I can relate to such characters. One to put on my "Top Ten Shy-Guy Movie Characters of All Time" list would be the film's central lonely man Joel (Jim Carrey). This man is definitely lonely. We see him ditching work to walk beaches and work on both his notebook writings and illustrations in the beginning of the film, where he is most properly introduced. Out of the blue, he meets the beautiful, eccentric, and seemingly flawless Clementine (Kate Winslet), a fearless spirit of a woman with blue hair and a heart of gold. The two seem to have some chemistry from the start, and so begins their romantic escapades.

But what's this? Cut from a happy, romantic scene involving the two to a shot of Joel alone in his car, with tears in his eyes; complete with music that's just sad, sad, sad (mind you, this also happens to be music that Joel chucks out the car window into the pouring rain). We learn that he had visited Clementine at work one day, only to have her treat him like a total strangers, instead taking a romantic liking to a younger man. Joel learns that this was the result of a brain procedure, performed by the workers at a fictional company known as Lacuna Incorporated. Clementine asked for her painful memories of a once-great relationship to be erased by the staff. She got her wish; and now, Joel will get his. We are taken through Joel's memories; most of Clementine, some of childhood, and several of out-right embarrassment. The story is therefore told in a non-linear structure, but I feel this is appropriate, given that we are inside the mind of an individual, and memories, much like dreams, need no proper structure if we're constantly flipping through them like pages in a storybook.

I suppose "whimsical" is a decent word to bring up when thinking of the film. Joel and Clementine's romantic relationship is believable and sweet without feeling emotionally melodramatic or forced. I appreciated the film because it was able to uphold many stories at once. What about the two Lacuna employees (Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood)? What about the failed, past relationship between fellow employee Mary (Kirsten Dunce) and her boss (Tom Wilkinson)? Charlie Kaufman's script brings emotional gravity to a story that could have done so much worse (believe me, I've seen it happen), and the performances allow each character to be sympathetic. These aren't sad people; they are human beings, just like you and me, who were once desperate, and are forever remembering; some perhaps more than others.

Any romance that deals with memory eraser is certainly not a typical or particularly familiar one. The idea is creative, and the storytelling methods (dream-like memory sequences, flash-backs, real-time situations with the Lacuna workers) work ingeniously well with the tale that is trying to be told here. I laughed, and in moments, I found myself almost crying. It is in moments like these that I get the sense that "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a special movie, and a special drama, one of the best for its genre. While that's saying a lot; the film DESERVES a lot. And it will get every last bit of praise and remembrance.

Michel Gondry was a smart choice when it came to finding someone to helm this fine, bizarre creation of a powerful, one-of-a-kind mind. Gondry had previously worked as a music video director. He also made "Human Nature", also written by the beloved Kaufman. He's taken a step up here, and without him, the feeling of surreal pleasure would not have been so deeply or visually impressively explored. The trippy music score, courtesy of the wonderful Jon Brion, only adds to the paranoia, distortion, and memorability of each memory sequence. I love "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and I always will. It reflects a big part of my life, your life; our lives. We can't attempt to deny that, and instead, we should look the director, the writer, and the actors (Carrey gives one of his best performances here) for their work on this film. There aren't many like it, and for good reason. Nobody makes them like Gondry and nobody writes them like Kaufman. It was a match made in heaven; the movie itself is but a slice.]]>
http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Eternal_Sunshine_of_the_Spotless_Mind-48-1010050-213424-Love_hurts_as_do_painful_memories_But_we_must.html http://www.lunch.com/screengems/reviews/movie/UserReview-Eternal_Sunshine_of_the_Spotless_Mind-48-1010050-213424-Love_hurts_as_do_painful_memories_But_we_must.html Sat, 17 Sep 2011 12:02:32 +0000