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Pretty good, pretty good, pretty neat, pretty neat, alright...
Well, being a huge fan, knowing quite a lot of people in the Doors (full) circle and having been everywhere from Pere Lachaise to Rothdell Trail to Fairhaven Memorial... I have to say I did turn this on with a slight sense of anxiousness as to whether it would be another destruction of James Douglas Morrison's entire character as both the Oliver Stone horrorshow and the numerous vacuous "rockumentataries" have done.
However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in the main. If you're a hardcore Doors fan then despite the claims of previously unseen footage, you will have seen most of this, few people have been to Paris without bumping into the likes of Rainer Moddeman and other well connected superfans and blagging bootleg stuff and HWY and Feast of Friends have been pretty easy to secure for a long time now as have tapes of Critique etc. But, I was quite impressed with what Tom Dicillo did with the footage, not only was he sympathetic and judicious with it but he accented the narrative with it almost as good as Densmore accented anything Jim did. Clearly, for the eagle eyed, he used footage from other events to underscore a point on an entirely different event but that's just me being picky - ultimately, there is a finite amount of footage that could be trawled. He avoided a lot of the glaring pitfalls one could easily make in such a documentary - for example he didn't get too caught in the trap of juxtaposing events in the 60's with the events of the Doors (there was some of this but it was measured and relevant) and I thought Depp was okay with his voice-over although he was a little dour and the script was at times a little prescriptive and compartmentalised. I do however appreciate that the film has to be appeal to more than the hardcore afficianados and that a balance has to be struck so I think the film really does work well both for those who only have a loose interest in The Doors (or even those just interested in the era) and those more fanatical about The Doors.
I know that Ray (at least) backed this film vocally which gives it credibility from the get go and I you have to give the guy credit for using only original footage. That said, this probably reduces the "filmmaking" to that of an editor so I don't want to be too gushing but still, give the guy his due, the end product is enjoyable, reasonably balanced, it maintained interest and it definitely had some nice touches in it which as I said derived from clever use of the stock material. It wasn't just the choice of footage; it was the more the way it was deployed and paced.
Maybe if budget (or sensibilities) had allowed, the film could have encompassed some other original footage (or other stock footage even) for those Doors fans who want to learn more about the Doors landmarks - be it shots of Venice beach or Rue Beautreillis but what I am glad of is the fact that they stayed well away from including interviews with the usual crowd like Grace Slick etc. which I think would have corrupted the output.
I'll watch it (and review it) sober again and see whether I feel the same but all in all, to quote the Velvet Menace himself, "pretty good, pretty good, pretty neat, pretty neat".
The Emperors New Clothes
Contrary to the opinions of the deluded army of comic reading Nolan fanboy geeks who have descended on IMDb, Christopher Nolan has entirely and irrevocably disappeared up his own self inflated backside with this movie. I say The Emperors New Clothes because the director will sneer at anyone who doesn't understand the film and he has thus created a perfect defence mechanism. I'm sure Di Caprio et al had in depth briefings about the narrative and can explain it verbatim but us viewers are left to work it out for ourselves. And it's so full of holes, so full of irrelevant tripe and so full of itself that it isn't easy. It's incredible that its been voted the 3rd best film of all time by IMDb users. I mean seriously, that's a joke. The fanboys all want to laud Nolan as the new Kubrick (another joke) but in doing so they have voted this tosh above ALL of Kubricks work. It's such a smug self congratulatory film from the get go and it just gets smugger as time drags on.
Now of course I appreciate that you can go too far in explaining every detail to the viewer with unnecessary script mechanics that insult the viewers intelligence. However, although you can go too far in explaining, you can also go too far in NOT explaining and expect the viewer to grasp in a single viewing what is a massively complex concept film - and one that's so badly flawed in so many areas for it to undermine the whole 'intellectual' nature of it. The idea of the film is OK and the film does have its moments but there are so many scenes that don't make sense that it spoils it entirely. I appreciate that 'heist' movies are usually procedural and that Nolan wanted to avoid that but in doing so he's created the most self-indulgent picture ever.
I could go on about the snow scene, the thoroughly implausible way these people not only do what they do but 'assemble' as a team, the oh-I'm-Christoper-so-considerably-cleverer-than-you-are-Nolan backstory with Di Caprio's wife but I'm not going to pick apart the scenes because I'd be here for hours and I haven't got the energy left after enduring this nonsense. Besides; everything could be spun that he meant this or that (he isn't as deep as he likes you to think). Inception is all fur coat and no knickers. It explains so little of what is going on that I left feeling angry. And I generally get these films so it's not a case of me being some moronic fool who struggles to follow the weather.
And billed as a completely original idea? Nah. There's obvious similarities with The Matrix, Dreamscape, Total Recall, Flatliners, Vanilla Sky, Pan's Labyrinth, Dream Demon and even one of the Star Trek Next Generation Episodes centred around the holodeck, all of which I've 'gotten' - the good ones, the bad ones, the ones you ponder for days afterwards. The fact is with this abomination I simply can't be bothered to think about it because I really don't care. I don't care about the characters, I don't care about the ending (which was excruciatingly predictable) and I don't care about how clever Nolan thinks he is. You're not mate. You've pulled a massive con with this film by creating a movie where you can call people stupid if they don't get it / like it. You get to sneer and snigger at the stupid little people. You've taken your previous successes to the movie execs and they've foolishly allowed themselves to fund your rampant self indulgence. That's what irritates me the most about this utter piffle. I understood what was understandable about this film and there are of course films where the intention is to purposely let the viewer fill in the gaps with their own imagination (generally a nice touch) but that simply isn't the case here. The story script and indeed most of the awful acting (outside of Di Caprio, Juno girl and Cillian Murphy) neither holds it together nor papers over the cracks of a weak script that's trying to be oh so deep... and badly failing.
This is over 120 minutes of my life that I will never ever get back and I simply couldn't wait for the film to end. I had lost all interest in any of the characters, their backstorys or indeed the 'mission' after an hour once I woke up to the fact that he was clearly unable to pull the film together into something coherent and genuinely contemplative. And judging by the rest of the audience and the people I was with, I wasn't the only person who left feeling bitterly cheated. I congratulate Nolan on creating hysteria, mass hypnosis and hype because he's clearly managed to brainwash a lot of the audience into making them think they've seen a clever film. That's the only inception.
Go and see this insidious fluff for a visual experience perhaps (even then; visually it's pretty overrated). But don't be surprised if you feel a strange peer group pressure to tell whoever you go to see it with that you understood it all when you probably didn't (or if you did; that you actually care and did so in spite of a dumb script).
Nolan is not nor ever will be Kubrick. Kubrick would have done this film justice - after he had rewritten the script, changed half the cast, removed 45 minutes of length and replaced it with sensible content that made the film engaging and cohesive. I fear the next set of people to be duped will be those who vote for this trite idiocy come the Oscars.
BTW I wager that Nolan watched Guy Ritchies Revolver and liked it. Congratulations Christopher, you have just descended to his level of filmmaking.
Another Day in Paradise (1998)
Slightly disappointing having read the book
I have probably read the original book of this 6 or 7 times and touted it with all my friends...it is fabulous (Eddie Little wrote it who is himself a heavy hitting ex con).
Unfortunately, some of the casting for me seemed quite removed from my imagery of the book and I really hated how they changed some major parts of the story around, almost a third of the book was missing, they changed the whole dynamic of the story with [SPOILER] the double cross at the end and the fact James Woods (who plays Mel and Mel was black in the book) gets more and more psycho throughout the movie.
If I hadn't read the book and loved it so much I would have enjoyed it more I guess, the performances were great but I just regret that they didn't stay truer to the original story. The actor who played Bobby was just too young and wet for my liking, the kid who played John Connor in Terminator II would have been better, especially since he has a real life drugs problem and could probably have pulled it off better. Melanie Griffiths was just appalling but James Woods gave his usual manic virtuoso performance. Samuel L Jackson would have been a great choice to play Mel as would Denzel Washington (especially given his role in Training Day). Would love to see a remake done the right way.
Flawless, absolutely flawless
All I can say is that Amy Hathaway is an outstanding actress and I just can not understand why she is not massive. After her performance in this film Amy should have gone onto bigger and better things and be a household name by now...I am confounded as to why she isn't.
Great film anyway with an ecclectic cast including Benico Del Torro and Toby Maguire, I loved the whole ambience and sultriness of it. Very understated.
Cast Away (2000)
Forrest Gump goes sailing.
I hated it.
The film from start to finish was product placement. Basically, it is an advert for Fed-Ex and Wilson.
I rate Tom Hanks but this was just so dire that it's soured him for me.
The only interesting scene was the plane crash and him consistently maiming himself, aside from that dullsville all the way. I wasn't expecting a rollercoaster of thrills and chills, I thought it would be really character based but I don't think that worked at all on any level.
Appalling movie and a wasted opportunity.
U Turn (1997)
I never EVER want to drive through Arizona after seeing this film.
Oh man, what a film. I actually hate Oliver Stone and if it hadn't featured the cast it did then I wouldn't have bothered. As annoying as his style is at times in the film:- it still manages to hit the spot as a more than decent black comedy.
It is similar in style to both Downtown (superb black comedy where a man gets trapped in bad area of New York at night and just wants to get home) and Payback (where our Mel just wants his $70K, no more no less).
Going back to the cast, not only have you got great performances by Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez (enough said!), Nick Nolte and Billy Bob Thornton (who really made his small part his own) but you also get a turnout from John Voight (typical Oliver Stone bulls**t character, why was he there? you got this, Natural Born Killers, The Doors all with wise old indian characters in them?#!), Joaquin Phoenix, Claire Danes (out of Romeo & Juliet)and that old chestnut; Powers Boothe. For those who have seen it...did ya spot Liv Tyler and Olivers son Sean Stone?
Anyway, the plot isn't exactly complicated (or even original, the final twist is stolen from another story) but it's good fun to watch...I could relate to how Sean Penns character was feeling...I wanted to burn down the whole town and kill everyone...the place was hell on Earth (unless you're a second generation redneck white bread trailer park kinda person, no offence).
Unless you work for the Arizona tourist board.....go see it.
4 out of 5
Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott finally admits Deckard WAS indeed a replicant...
After years of debate, Ridley Scott finally admits that Deckard WAS a replicant on a program to be aired on July 15th on Channel 4 TV in the UK.
I think most of us had this figured out anyway but it's nice to have the speculation and debate finally end. I think it makes more sense this way anyway.
All these moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain...
American History X (1998)
All high school children should be shown this movie.
I think all High School Children should be made to watch this film without any cuts. It would be a hard lesson for some but ultimately worthwhile.
It would educate them against racism and show them how hard it is in prison. It would show them the absurdity of prejudice and that people can change, no matter how bad things are.
This is a magnificent movie. Edward Norton is absolutely outstanding.
Go Fish (1994)
An admirable film
You can see how passionate about the subject the writers Rose Troche and the fabulously talented Guinevere Turner were about making this movie and it must have been a labour of love for them.
I don't think this movie is just for gay women, I'm a straight man who enjoyed it too so it must have worked on a lot of levels. I thought it was a beautiful film with a lot to say and was very well shot. It made me a big fan of Guinevere Turner, I just watched Preaching to the Perverted with her in the lead role last night which I also enjoyed immensley...she has a lot of talent and obviously chooses her roles selectively.
It is an arty film which I think some people may watch with the wrong intentions...they will be disappointed but so what...they're not the people the writers intended the movie for.
Black Rain (1989)
Carbon copy of 'Yakuza, The (1977)'
I enjoyed Black Rain, it was an excellent film as I adore Ridley Scott.
However, The Yakuza starring Robert Mitchum and Ken Tanaka (who also played the lead Japanese character in Black Rain) is infinitely superior. Scoot obviously drew a lot of influence from Sidney Pollacks Yakuza and there are just so many similarities.
Basically, if you enjoyed Black Rain, Yakuza will surprise and enthrall you. It portrays a lot more of the reasoning behind the Yakuza traditions such as cutting off your little finger as a token of apology and why the swords are integral to their culture. It goes a lot deeper into the honour culture etc.
However, I rate both films.
Yakuza....a definate 9/10. Black Rain...a good 7.5/10.