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The Last of Us (2013)
One Of The Greatest Games Of All Time (So Far)
The overall zombie/post-apocalyptic/infected/dystopian story may be somewhat trite, yet that doesn't halt The Last of Us from being one of the best and most cinematic video game experiences ever.
You can see multiple filmic influences throughout the game, 28 Days Later, The Road, Dawn of the Dead, Pontypool, Rec, The Road Warrior.
You play the game as two (soul) survivors, a hard boiled man who's lost everything and a cocky young girl who just may have the solution to save the world.
It's very much like interacting in a live action film rather than just playing a game. These feel like real people and not just game characters.
Looking forward to the inevitable sequel(s).
Portrait Of An Old Man As The Human Torch
Came across this documentary some years ago on the Sundance Channel about an eccentric man almost a century old, American expatriate George Whitman, running an avant-garde bookstore in Paris and it took me by surprise. Whitman lives at his bookstore 24-7, aspiring writers and college students, total strangers, come to stay for free, with none of the modern day paranoia type background checks, and in exchange for room and board perform odd jobs round the bookstore.
The meal preparation scenes are arresting, don't know how many health code violations they had or how many roaches and cleaning products they they mixed into the meals. Nothing quite like pancakes and cleaning products. We also get interviews with Whitman himself and his gorgeous daughter Sylvia Beach Whitman as well as various other French, British and American commentators on their musings about the legendary and eclectic bookstore and all the great literary figures who's visited there, among them William S. Burroughs, Langston Hughes, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac. It seems like a place that's falling down and in disrepair but somehow survived in an era of mass gentrification.
The highlight of the film is the climax when we see Whitman do his version of The Human Torch, I leave it at that and say it is something that has to be seen to be believed.
The film also features the gorgeous redheaded student George Davey in her first and possibly only film appearance. She has a memorable scene where she mixes up a pancake batter like glue to fix a loose section of the bookstore's carpet. There is a shot of Davey's bouncing breasts as she stamps down the loose carpet that is one of the sexiest shots in documentary cinema.
The only negatives may be is that the film isn't long enough and might have seen a wide release if it was at least twenty minutes longer. Shakespeare & Company is a place many'd be willing to learn about a lot longer than the current humble and under an hour running time.
Simple and haunting classic theme music is used to great effect throughout the film. It was shot a few years before the advent of high definition video cameras but the image quality is still good.
Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man recalls of a simpler and romanticized time when it seemed one could go to Paris, live cheap, have intellectual conversations, and be a writer. In this day and age of cultural downfall it's good to see a part of the past that's actually worth preserving still survives.
Everything Must Go (2010)
It's An Art Movie! Huck The Faters!
Everything Must Go is an art movie. Maybe that wasn't the director's intention but that's how I'll classify it.
I give it 3 stars out of 4.
Just a very simple, and ultimately touching, story about a man who's life is falling apart and it is purely his own fault.
It is nice to see Will Ferrell ACT and not play his normal over the top persona in comedies.
This is a QUIET movie. Just a mellow ride with some humor, some drama, a pleasant setting, good cinematography and production values and interesting characters. One of the better films I've seen this year! I might even be tempted to give it 3 and 1/2 stars! It is like hanging out in a museum for the day or a quiet afternoon enjoying a good bottle of wine. Not something you'd want to do everyday but for an afternoon it is a nice diversion from the mad, mad, crazy world we live in.
And no, it is NOT a guilty pleasure. It is a good film but not for everyone. Somehow I think this might have worked better as a UK or French film.
I love a slam bang movie like Kick-Ass or Inglourious Basterds or Oldboy as much as the next cat. But this isn't that movie.
Like I said, it is a quiet art movie. Like The Music of Chance starring James Spader from back in the 90s.
Writer-director Dan Rush did a very good job. Especially since this is his FIRST film and first Internet Movie Database credit! It is almost like something Hal Hartley might have done but less quirky.
Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981)
A Big Budget B-Movie Classic
Zorro, the Gay Blade is one of trippiest movies ever. It obviously was made on the heels of the massive box office success of George Hamilton's comedic vampire movie Love at First Bite. They had a big success with Hamilton playing Dracula, why not move onto another comedic version of an iconic character? And thus, we get Zorro, the Gay Blade! George Hamilton is hilarious in his dual role as Don Diego de la Vega and his flamboyant gay twin brother Bunny Wigglesworth (one of the great camp character names ever).
Lauren Hutton gives a cool performance too as Zorro's leading lady. She's not as good as Susan Saint James in Love at First Bite. But we couldn't expect comedic lighting to strike twice. Since Love at First Bite was good but one of those films that its success is more of a fluke than anything else. It's one of those films that shouldn't have worked but amazingly did. Ala films like The Blues Brothers, Meatballs and Smokey and the Bandit.
Zorro, the Gay Blade is one of those off the wall flawed comedies that belong alongside other late night comedy classics like Jekyll and Hyde Together Again starring the amazing Mark Blankfield.
Also, Ron Liebman as Esteban, Zorro's nemesis, is hilarious here as is Brenda Vaccaro as Florinda, Esteban's mondo sexually frustrated wife.
Not the greatest comedy ever captured on celluloid. But far superior to most at your local mutliplex, amigo.
Swing Vote (2008)
An Enjoyable Mess
It's not a perfect film. But Kevin Costner is just likable. The script needed a rewrite but overall I liked this flawed flick.
It didn't try to be heavy handed and have a right wing or left wing point of view. It was a more apolitical political film. Like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. But not as good.
Swing Vote will probably have a second life on video and could be a hit there.
The movie cost only around $20 million to make and who knows how much in marketing. So it won't have to gross too much to make it's money back.
The cast adds a lot to the film as well. The always watchable Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammar, an eternally svelte and young looking (for his age) Dennis Hopper and newcomer Madeline Carroll as Costner's daughter.
It's a sweet imperfect movie about trying to get ordinary Americans involved in the political process.
We Are Doomed! Temple Of Doomed That Is!
Welcome back Indy!
Shia LaBeouf? I do not like the guy. At all.
I can't say I loathe him. But he's just not the right guy to be the next Indy. Or Indy's son. He looks nothing like Indy or Marion. I walked out of Disturbia probably in part because of his lame ass.
But the new Indy movie? I liked. But it was the weakest of all the Indy films. It just was not as badass action wise as the other ones. The others came at you fast and furious. Where it was action, chases, fights, humor, ridiculous stunts. And it worked. Spielberg has lost his edge. Which surprises me after seeing his amazing work in Munich.
And Indy in a lead lined fridge surviving a nuclear explosion? Sorry, even that's just plain lame for an Indy film. The fall down to the ground would have killed him.
Now something like that in a Hong Kong cinema film? Sure, I could buy that in one of those films. But not an Indy film. They are over the top but not THAT over the top.
And why didn't they have a gross out scene like snakes in the first one and bugs in the second one and rats in the third one?
What? CGI ants are gonna make us squirm in Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull? Hell no! CGI sucks!!!
Plus the camera set ups were on the lame side. Too many static master shots with not enough coverage. And the action scenes just were not up to the first trilogy.
Plus? Too much George Lucas inspired green screen! Some shots felt like they were digitally inserting actors into scenes where they had not filmed the two or more actors together!
In the first set of films? They shot on location when they did the action scenes. This had too many craptastic green screen CGI sequences!
If you are doing a chase by a cliff. Shoot by a real cliff! Use stunt people, make it real. Not a bunch of cringe worthy CGI.
And do NOT get me started on that AWFUL sequence where Mutt swings with the CGI monkeys on vines like Tarzan! UGH!
Man! I hate (excessive) green screen!
And Harrison looked good but here and there too old and slow. And Karen Allen just looked WAAAAAAAAAAAY too old in some scenes. Why didn't they dye Harrison's hair like they did Karen's?
Or just use some digital fixes like the did in the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand to make the actors look a few years younger? That is the one place in the new Indy film where they SHOULD have used a touch of CGI!
Kate Blanchett was sexy and tough and evil as hell as the bad girl in this movie. She does the best she can with this material and still gives a great performance. And I liked plot elements of the Area 51 inspired aliens.
And does Indy get a chance to use his bull whip? Almost never other than a few (once again) crap CGI bull whip scenes! CGI bull whip stuff in an Indy movie. Does anyone remember the live action scenes of Harrison using his whip in the first trilogy of Indy films? Is he too old to use a bull whip now? Heaven help us all.
They should have made the film five or ten years ago. And I wished Sallah was in this as well.
Overall? It worked and I liked it. Despite the mucho ass flaws and sometimes douchealicious screenplay and dialog. The other films had memorable lines galore! And chemistry between the actors! This lacked a WHOLE lotta both!
Profondo rosso (1975)
Dario Argento's Masterwork Or: How I Learned To Love Nighthawks Inspired Set Design!
Deep Red. Without question one of Italian film maestro Dario Argento's giallo masterpiece.
It's flawless. Nearly. Like a nick in the Mona Lisa. Still a thing of beauty despite it. Suspense, shocks, gore, sex, amazingly filmed. It's also one of the funnier of Aregento's films. But at times I wondered, was this meant to be a comedy? Some of the antics between Daria Nicolodi and David Hemmings are straight out of Hepburn and Grant in Bringing Up Baby. Especially the scenes with Daria's little ramshackle crapbox eurotrash Italiano car. Hemmings was never cooler than he was in this film and Daria Nicolodi was never sexier. After seeing this, who wouldn't want to give her the pyhton bone of love? I don't see how Hemmings could have resisted her. Still, the two leads have a razor keen on screen chemistry.
This is one the best giallos (pronounced jah-loh) ever set to celluloid. Argento was in his film-making prime when he made this. His work has gone steadily downhill in his later years. Even second rate Aregento is worth watching. But I fear he may never reach this creative and technical apex again that he hit with Deep Red. The worse Dario's teeth get, the worse his films get. We all get older but after seeing him in his later years he really needs to get his sometimes brilliant ass to the local Mambo Italino dentist, baby.
On the downside, the version of the film I saw had no complete English language translation. The film cut back and forth, sometimes in mid-sentence when an actor was speaking, between Italian and English. Just goes to show that you should always have an on set sound boom operator instead of recording everything in post as they did in those days. Here's hoping they recover the full English dubbing they had from the original theatrical release.
You can see American artist Edward Hopper's influence in this film. A bar seen multiple times in the film is a real life recreation of Hopper's world famous Nighthawks painting.
The suspense and shocks of Deep Red will make you jump out of your seat. Even if you're not easily scared. One downside is that the film ends way too abruptly. The film reaches its climax and BOOM! Roll end credits. Give us a moment or two to savor the exquisite climax of Deep Red. The film is like a night of wild sex and then getting your ass kicked to the curb the instant its all over. Buy us a damn proverbial drink afterwards, Deep Red filmmakers.
The Quiet Earth (1985)
Quite A Quiet Film
This film is a lost gem.
Not many (or not nearly enough) have seen it and those who have mostly love it. Director Geoff Murphy's film career has gone right into the proverbial john since making this. Oh, he's still working, sure, but his later works (some of them) can't compare to this masterwork.
But if you like Last Man On Earth type movies this celluloid slice of sci-fi cherry pie is for you! It has one of those endings that will leave you dazzled and puzzled. It doesn't try and tie up all the loose ends and questions like a lot of films do. Its much like a Kubrick film in that respect.
Hopefully The Talented Mr. Murphy will make a film as good as this again someday. Here's hoping! And I loved the ass shot of the beautiful, milky skinned redhead (Alison Routledge) as well. Talk about cherry pie. Yum.
You will like the aforementioned shot too. If you swing that way.
Quiz Show (1994)
Good But Overrated
I remember seeing this many moons ago. I enjoyed it. But found it to be a bit overrated.
Rob Redford is a talented director. And I wish he had acted in this in El Sucko Supremo's Rob Morrow's role. Morrow's character was named Dick Goodwin. A fitting first name.
But this movie did not deserve the raves to the proverbial grave it got when it was first released. Granted, I was a number of years younger when I saw it. So maybe seeing it from an older perspective would allow one to appreciate it more.
It tells the story of a famous American TV quiz show scandal and it's another in the long line of "America's Loss Of Innocence" films. I love America with an unbridled passion (unlike some types) but She, nor any other country past or present or future on Earth, was ever that innocent.
I'd rather see Quiz Show's John Turturro (looking very homely with skanky ass choppers in this role) in a much better film from this era, the Coen Brothers' Barton Fink. And the annoying, talentless douche Rob "He Majorly Sucks" Morrow befouls this movie with his presence. Thank Heaven Morrow's "star" has crashed and burned in recent years. Let him go to the dustbin of entertainment where he belongs. His "acting" is worse than X-rated goat fisting porno. Okay, it's not that he is all bad. He's just one of those actors that annoys the Hell outta you. We've all got performers who rub us the wrong way. He's this reviewer's Carrot Top. And I kinda like old Top's comedy. Hell, he plays at the Luxor, my fave Vegas hotel. I like the room service there and the buffet that resembles an ancient Egyptian archaeological dig. And Chivas whiskey they sell in the lobby gift shop. Good for boozin' the night away while in the City O' Sin.
Where was I? Oh, yeah.
Quiz Show? Overall? Yes, worth seeing. For Ralph Fiennes and Redford's direction. And El Kickass Actor Supreme Turturro. But not one that you'd (okay, me) wanna see over and over and over again, kiddo.
Casino Royale (2006)
Bond, Dead Serious Bond
Man, Daniel Craig played Bond dead serious. Oh, a little humor here and there. But he took it in a totally new direction.
If I recall from the books Bond wasn't a guy with a wry sense of humor. He was a pretty serious badass.
Daniel Craig is the first Bond who looks like he could actually hurt you. I mean break you in half. Connery was tough, menacing. But nowhere near as badass as Craig. The guy is friggin' ripped.
I love Connery, Moore, Brosnan, and even the somewhat lame Dalton and Lazenby.
Connery played it tough and serious. Moore played it more charming and he was always my favorite Bond. Lazenby just did his best. And Dalton wasn't really a good fit.
Craig is without a doubt the best actor to play Bond. The one with the most range. I don't think there has been a good Bond film since Moore left the series. But Bond is back with this kickass new film. Can't say I was too jazzed about seeing Lame, uh, sorry, Dame Judi Dench back as M. M is a male character. And if this is a re imagining of the Bond series what's Dench doing back in the series? She always plays the same sourpuss role. She isn't a bad thespian just overrated.
And Martin Campbell as the director? I wasn't too thrilled that he was returning for this installment. I still haven't forgiven him for those uber lame blue screen shots of Brosnan free falling to an descending airplane at the start of GoldenEye. Play the GoldenEye game, avoid the movie. I was hoping for Christopher Nolan as Casino's director. But Marty baby more than exceeded my expectations. The theme song from this Bond flick is one of the best I've heard in years. Good show all around.
Still, there are flaws. Some of the action sequences are tepid, trite and not that interesting. Not bad but nothing spectacular like we've come to expect from past Bond's. And the final action sequence with a collapsing building descending into the sea isn't the greatest. Eva Green as Vesper Lynd though more than holds her own as Bond's counterpart. And the screenwriters maintain a good chunk of Fleming's original story in the flick.
I was a tad bummed Pierce wasn't borough back for another Bond movie. But in all honesty, I dug him as Bond but not the films he starred in. When it got to where they were giving Bond lame invisible cars. Well, it was time for him to go. Just as well, Pierce gave us one of his best film performances ever with The Matador shortly after that. Moore made one Bond film too many and should have gotten out earlier when he got a bit too weathered for the role. Fate stepped in and saved Pierce from that.
But. Casino Royale. Best Bond in a long time, baby. Nowhere near groundbreaking as Nolan's re imagining of Bats. But in the general ballpark. Ciao.