Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Every American Needs To Watch This Movie
I question the integrity of any self-proclaimed critic who dares call South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut a `mindless' production. The truth is that it is far from mindless, and actually succeeds in securing its place as one of (if not THE) greatest American culture satires ever created. Brimming with meaning, especially in today's tumultuous political climate, South Park is worthy of everything from its high volume unit sales to its Oscar nomination. I dare say that in a time where it is easy to forget the evils that plague society in light of the looming hand of foreign terror, South Park's importance grows by the second.
True, South Park: B,L,U is a crude romp through a spitting babble of tangled curses and crass language. Yes, it deals with excessive violence, gore, and even ethnic epithets of the tasteless variety. Oh, and you WILL see a penis. Numerous times.
But above all, South Park delivers something Hollywood dares not touch in the lands of modern cinema: the TRUTH.
Yup, to ignore violence, aggression, and downright wicked decadence is to pander to the glossy coat of Hollywood escapism that general American trend in which we all bend the truth, alter history, and accept the manipulation of life in the light that we will be entertained, or at best, find ourselves in the stunning poignancy of art.
Rubbish, I say. What South Park accomplishes with its overdriven wit and alarming explosion of foul dialogue and clever scenarios is exactly what today's cinema audience needs...and that, my friends, is a slap in the face. It's an extreme overdose of everything safe media' tries to shroud by sweeping real evils underneath the rug of self-respect; it's an exploitation of all Hollywood holds sacred in its glorification of the kitschy buzz of the week. This film takes that newsreel desensitization you though you had by viewing Time Magazine's sidebar caption on Sierra Leone and cranks it up to ten, proving just how little you know about yourself, the media, and the power of issues society has somehow grown scared to even talk about.
Death? Hell? Swearing? Murder? Exploitation? Sex? Taboo?
Bah...more like questioning societal mores, advancing a cultural revolution, identifying the idiocy in censorship, and parading the notorious tendency to scapegoat.
This isn't mindless entertainment. This is life. This is South Park. So watch it and learn something. Worse comes to worse, you'll get a good laugh from the experience. Well, that is if you still have a sense of humor left. Hollywood's been feeding on yours for years.
Better Off Dead... (1985)
Off-Beat 80s Screwball Cult Classic
You just can't find a better mix.
Better Off Dead is one of those films that reeks so horribly of the 80s you may dread sitting down to watch it, merely because of its crappy film quality and random, bizarre humor.
Don't make that mistake.
For every cult movie lover who ever lived, Better Off Dead is as commonplace as Citizen Kane is to AFI. It's a period fetish: a product of an off-beat and off-the-wall imagination, produced at of a time of Reagan-era economics and Cold War discontent. It's the period of time that led to a sort of escapist, wacky humor in film, giving us such B-Movie classics as Critters, Meatballs II, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and Big Melons, parts 3 through 6.
Without a doubt, 1985 was an interesting year for movie comedy, especially that of the peculiar, oddball variety. Suffice to say, leading the pack in the bizarre department is Better Off Dead. It's a movie that leaves every cult film lover hooked: repeating catchphrases, reciting scenes, and even trailing along with the dialogue.
Better Off Dead is the story of a miserable teenager on the failing end of high-school fame. He's just lost his seat as the skiing champ, he's just lost his girlfriend, and he's just lost all self-respect. He can't even commit suicide right. The only thing he's got going for him is an overactive imagination...which considering the rut he's in, isn't much help. As you can guess, he's better off...well, you get the idea.
John Cusack is perfect as the bottoming-out 80s hero: a dashing young guy you keep hoping for, but who keeps falling deeper into the predictable pits of `Savage' Steve Holland's weird cinematic world. What makes Cusack so great here is his willingness to play to the bizarre and allow his imagination to fly in a time of dejection. It makes his misery downright hilarious, and you can truly feel his pain as he tries to navigate a world that truly makes no sense.
Again, while a predictable teen-hero ride, Better Off Dead thankfully bases most of its humor and fun factor on the glories of the deep-end of imagination. Whether it's in an animated dream sequence, an ungodly blob of food skating off a dish, or even the surreal taunts of an Asian race rival who learned English from watching Howard Cossell...there's laughs in the wierdest of places. You'll just have to see it for yourself.
In fact, you'll need to see it several times. As it is a cult classic, only after multiple views will you learn to appreciate the comedy that lies in the puddles between background humor and looming wit. Over and over and over again.
Ah, 1985...what a great time to be Better Off Dead.
Dead Man (1995)
Inescapable Doom at the End of the Line
Heading towards a metalworks factory at the edge of the known universe, a pristine, young accountant named William Blake steps into the ungodly, mechanical hell that is the town of Machine. And so begins this man's descent into purgatory...in the wrong place, at a point where time itself is nonexistent.
Blake arrives in Machine after a demented, tireless train ride through what may be his own self. Spanning the beauty of epic horizons and dense forests, yet ending in the bleak misery of the barren desert, we meet this out-of-place traveler in a tiring, strange situation. His frailty is evident: alone, without a living heir, struggling to make his way amidst the freaks and grim destination that awaits. As expected, the town itself begs no welcome, as the malevolent rumors prove true, and leave Blake face to face with the dusty spines of inexorable destiny. In more ways than one, the Wild West awaits...
From this point on, Blake embarks on his surrealistic journey into nothingness, as he becomes a marked man running from nearly everyone and everything. Trusting in a Native friend (appropriately named `Nobody'), the descent into Blake's rejection is juxtaposed with the realities of a truly inescapable destiny. As such, the notions of ill fate and bad luck are separately defined alongside each other. Soon enough, however, Blake learns to cope with the road to ruin, and from his relationship with Nobody, he begins to transform into the gunslinging poet he never was.
In these aspects - the premise, the cinematic device, and the endless attention to narrative and metaphoric detail - the film is simply brilliant. Watching Johnny Depp's character transformation amidst Jim Jarmusch's artistic direction of both beauty and brutality is simply exceptional, despite any problems the film may contain. A feeling of purgatorial confinement is truly achieved as humor is mixed with suspense, and uneasiness blends with inevitability. This is definitely one of the few movies that strangely seizes the disposition, toying with it until sufficiently queasy.
Nevertheless, while the story, acting, and cinematic composition of the film are excellent, certain directorial choices do prevent it from achieving perfection. The primary problem concerns the dreamlike quality interspersed through several drawn-out fades: while effective, they are overused, and only serve to impair the flow of the film and it's intended message. Another problem is the tempo of the action: the characters, while quick to quip and raise their weapons, engage in gunfights at the speed of snails. When a shot is fired, the attacker simply stands in place, only to be killed by the target he missed. This particular criticism can lend itself to the film as a whole, as well. In other words, had the entire pace of the film been quickened, perhaps Jarmusch's voyage into the depths of doom and despair may have been more effective. Lastly, as in many independent films, superfluous `art film' shots and indie flavor over-season the picture simply to separate it from big-studio Hollywood...though as the film progresses, these moments become less apparent.
Overall, this film is one to be seen by anyone who enjoys a creative story with TONS of review value. Several notable faces make their way through the screen (Gabriel Bryne, Robert Mitchum, Crispin Glover, Iggy Pop, and more), and the dirty, electric twang of Neil Young's guitar fills the gaps with a dark, mechanical, Southwestern gloom.
Enter the town of Machine, and you'll be processed as well. Just watch out for snags along the trail - they make the journey a bit annoying, and certainly longer than what is warranted by the reaches of the attention span...or simply the principles of artistic efficiency.
The Beach (2000)
One of the most under-appreciated films of the year 2000...
In the spirit of Taoism and savage human transcendentalism comes one of the most under-appreciated films of the year 2000.
The Beach is a visceral, elegant, and visually perfect adaptation of the critically acclaimed Alex Garland novel. Filmed on location in Thailand, The Beach places the final piece in Garland's nearly completed jigsaw: eye candy.
The flawless settings of Thai surf and sand are undoubtedly one of the world's few treasures, and the vivid colors and sheer majesty of its pure paradise are amazingly captured by the filmmakers. Moreover, the beach in question is quite possibly one of the greatest settings ever used in a film. I still get chills just thinking about that tropic jewel of crystalline water how each tiny wave softly spills over white, powdery sand, all nestled underneath sundrenched palms and moss-covered rock. Still, as a fair juxtaposition, the film also takes a concentrated look at the misery of urbanity, offering up clever images of mechanization, population, and capitalization. Great work by the crew, especially Darius Khonji, whose style you may recall from, and will see in future, David Fincher movies.
It is at this point that The Beach marks its true power as a notable event in modern cinema. The movie, under the brilliant direction of Danny Boyle (Trainspotting), allows the audience to navigate between the vision of utopian paradise and the automated social lockbox in which most of us are destined to exist.
As such, a true Taoist journey for personal freedom couples notions of anti-materialism at the core of this story. However, the picture also focuses on ruthless idealism, youthful curiosity, man's tragic quest for the unattainable, the moral sacrifice allotted to a hedonistic lifestyle, and man versus nature.
If you enjoyed Fight Club, Lord of the Flies, Heart of Darkness, or Apocalypse Now, then watch this film tonight! It is an impressive blend of thrills, comedy, and adventure...seasoned with a discreet and gradual event that will catch you off-guard. I personally recommend the Special Edition DVD, as it is another treat delivered by Fox Home Video: aesthetic in design, bustling with deleted scenes, commentary, and other special features. 9/10
Cast Away (2000)
Shed a tear for a vollyball...
Cast Away is not a fast paced movie. Rather, it is a picture blessed with delicate forms of pristine scenery and stunning environments, all which invite the camera to slowly creep through an array of long, extended takes. In this sense, the film invites the audience to revel in simple beauty, even when cast away to a remote island, in the middle of nowhere, in a desperate quest for survival.
Yet, the survival presented by the movie is not one reminiscent of Golding's Lord of the Flies. It is a different brand of individual exploration, in which a brilliantly prepared Hanks guides the audience on a dramatic journey from the high ground of establishment, to absolute desolation, and back up again...with several surprises on the way.
Again, this is a rather slow paced movie. But it absolutely hinges on the acting prowess of Hanks, who will keep you glued to the screen, as he illustrates a transcendence back to primal nature - struggling to adapt at the most basic level of existence.
In what is essentially a one-man performance, Hanks (with the obvious help of Zemekis' brilliant direction and Burgess' elegant cinematography) creates an uncanny relationship with a lush, tropical island. You will undoubtedly forget, nor be able to refute, the powerful, metaphoric similarities to the glaring realities of modern life that exist on this island. Not only do they prove to be dramatic, but charming and hilarious as well.
Overall, I should admit that no other group of filmmakers and actors could have made me so emotionally attached a volleyball! But this film did, hands down. See it, and find out what I mean for yourself. 9.9/10
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Perfect in every sense...
Every so often, I feel cinematic achievement reaches a new zenith...a point where I feel (albeit erroneously) that the bar of accomplishment can rise no more. Yet, as said, I am eventually mistaken, mainly due to remarkable stories of profound creative intensity. These are the creations that highlight vital essences of life and society.
The Shawshank Redemption is truly an element of such a category.
The Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, is a relatively brief tale, a section of a larger book called 4 Seasons. Still, it is brilliantly adapted as a feature-length motion picture, with no flaws or injustices therein.
If you are wondering why it is such a good movie, then you only need to think about one word: freedom. Think about what it means, and how easy may be to take for granted in today's liberated world. Set in the hardened American past, The Shawshank Redemption teaches us a valuable lesson about the fickle nature of sovereignty, and the inevitable boundaries that restrict us along the path of life. Still, despite the misery of indeterminate and forceful detainment, a love of life is found.
As such, this film presents a quest like no other. The characters seek to transcend their enslavement in a vile microcosm of dubious honesty and ill will, cherishing the subtle scents of freedom that waft through the senses on a very limited basis. After seeing this film, you'll never look at a bottle of beer or an opera record the same way: when you have nothing else, such frivolities are your only ties to freedom. Still, the intelligent social analysis does not end at this basic level. Rather, it continues by showing the affects of being reintroduced to reality, and the ensuing overdose of true liberty...
Nevertheless, as clear-cut as the overall theme may seem, a mark of cunning snakes through it...fervent...unexpected...
The result will knock you out of your seat. See for yourself. 10/10
A great, unique story of youthful imagination...
Rushmore is undeniably one of the paramount achievements in modern film. It takes a somewhat trite `coming of age' story to the next level by incorporating a dry and darkly comic edge, exposing the melancholy behind youthful innocence and hopeless romanticism. This is accomplished primarily through the surreal maturity found in its young characters, but also with the tenderly problematic older ones. Overall, Rushmore dispenses a gloomy charm, as the events of the film constantly teeter over failure, yet remain focused on fanciful dreams of success. The result is the ability of the audience to overlook disappointment and cherish the love of creation: to love the actual process of achievement, no matter how impossible or unattainable the ends may seem. In essence, Rushmore illustrates a new love for life, questioning whether one can ignore consequences in spite of the trivial pursuit of fun and invention. 10/10