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Death Racers (2008)
Waste of time
I watched this movie with the expectation that it would be a bad movie that was at least fun to watch. How wrong I was. This has to be the worst movie I have ever had the displeasure to sit through. I cannot think of a single aspect of this film that is not absolutely horrible. It plays like a 10-year-old with a new video camera got some friends together and asked them to improvise being macho. I can't even believe there was a script involved. If you watch this movie, you will regret that you wasted 90 minutes of your life that you will never get back. If you want to see a movie so bad that it's actually amusing, try Death Race 2000, with David Carradine. At least that film is laughable, not excruciatingly painful to watch. I find that I am angry at myself for sitting through the entire thing. Please do yourself a favor and miss this one completely.
Hell in the Pacific (1968)
Director's ending better than theatrical release SPOILER ALERT
SPOILER ALERT : If you have not seen this film, you should get the MGM released DVD with the director's alternate ending included in the special features.
I recently watched this movie for the first time, and was enthralled by the story of two men, stranded on a deserted island, sworn enemies whose countries are at war with one another, who are faced with a great dilemma. Can enemies work together to insure their survival under the harshest circumstances, or will hate prevail and both men die? It is a very touching story about how friendship is formed out of necessity, and fueled by the human survival instinct.
At the end of the film, Marvin and Mifune escape one island and land on another that had been conquered by U.S. soldiers, then abandoned just as quickly in the swift series of battles throughout Pacific islands toward the end of World War II.
With supplies left behind on the island, the two men get cleaned up and shaven, and are able to find something to eat and even find sake on which to get drunk.
While drunk, Mifune finds a copy of LIFE Magazine which shows Japan losing the war rapidly. Mifune understandably gets upset and angry, then he and Marvin get into a drunken argument.
In the theatrical release, bombing can be heard in the background during this argument, and the movie just ends abruptly with an explosion that tragically takes the lives of these enemies-turned-friends. End of story, war is hell, now go home.
Luckily, I was watching the 2004 released MGM version DVD, which has the alternate ending that presumably director John Boorman had submitted to the studio as the ending for his film.
In this ending, no bombing can be heard in the background. Mifune reads the magazine, gets upset, and the argument takes place. This version, however, contains no convenient explosion to make it seem like both men became enemies again, only to be killed together. The tragedy here happens when both men seem to realize, with dialogue-free fantastic physical acting by two legendary actors, that despite everything they have been through, and despite having becoming friends, their place in this world is not meant to be together. They both exchange sad final glances, and quietly walk off in opposite directions.
I like to think that both men returned home to their respective countries, and became actors, who went on to star in movies like The Seven Samurai, and The Dirty Dozen.
This "alternate" ending is a much more complex, more interesting, more ironic, more tragic, and infinitely more satisfying ending than the one that was slapped on the end of the film for the theatrical release. I hope this movie is restored to the better ending, and featured as a Criterion Collection release with commentary from director John Boorman some day soon.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
One of the best
If war is truly Hell, then this is the "Dante's Inferno" of war films. Each subsequent level of Hell containing more insanity than the last, until, in the very bowels of Hell, the Devil himself (Col. Kurtz) is encountered, spitting the adventurer (Capt. Willard) back out into the real world as a changed man.
The social metaphors of war's insanity, as well as how non-conformity is punished, help to make Apocalypse Now much more than just a crazy-evil Disneyland ride that bombards the senses. It is a war story that is completely unique in the world of film.
Titan A.E. (2000)
All fluff, no substance
Titan A.E. has been hyped by some as the best animated film of the decade. I guess this is true, because of it's release only a few months into this decade. While the film is visually spectacular, and has a great cast, it lacks a little in the story department. Every sci-fi & action flick cliche is used to try and get the viewer's adrenaline flowing, but the film never reaches the point where one thinks the unthreatening villains might triumph, or makes you want to cheer for the good guys. Don Bluth has directed much better films, and will surely direct better films in the future. If the same amount of effort was put into srorytelling that was used to incorporate skillfully hand drawn characters into state-of-the-art computer animated environments, this might have been one of the best animated films of all time. Unfortunately, all you get is some really pretty eye candy, and a bunch of characters that are better suited for a video game than a feature film.
Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Praise for Hilary Swank
See this movie for Hilary Swank's performance if nothing else. I saw this film amidst the Oscar hype surrounding it, and after seeing clips on many talk shows, I figured I knew what to expect. "Pretty convincing as a boy", I thought to myself after seeing Ms Swank butched up with short hair, bound breasts, and stuffed jeans. That's only a small part of what makes this performance one of the best I've ever seen from any actor or actress.
Throughout this tragic true story, Hilary Swank speaks with an accent so flawless, it rivals any performance by Meryl Streep. The breadth of emotions that Ms Swank can convey using only her eyes without even speaking, that range from lust, to surprise, to terror, are so convincing, you don't need to understand what she's saying to understand what she's feeling.
Boys Don't Cry introduces Hilary Swank as one of a small number of heavyweight actresses that can compete for the even smaller number of well written roles for young actresses these days. Even though the story is sad & disturbing, you need to SEE THIS MOVIE.
Saturday Night Live (1975)
Legendary TV Show
Even though most people will state that the "early years" (1975-1980) were the best, Saturday Night Live has remained at least watchable, and more often than not, extremely funny (with the possible exception of the '85-'86 season). No comedy show on television has lasted nearly as long, and SNL continues to be a stepping stone for young comedians breaking into show business. Before their stints on SNL, nobody had heard of people like Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Billy Crystal, & Martin Short to name a few. People like Buck Henry, Candice Bergen, and Steve Martin have also been brought from relative obscurity to stardom because of their exposure from multiple guest appearances on SNL. With current cast members such as Will Ferrel, Molly Shannon, and Cheri Oteri, Saturday Night Live continues to showcase some of the most talented comedic actors in the business, and with the addition of new cast members every few years, the show should be able to go on for many years to come as a cutting-edge showcase for this country's funniest up-and-comers.