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They Live (1988)
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
They Live. Where to begin? Yes, it is goofy. Yes the production value is very low. Yes the action is standard. The guns never empty. The fights are poorly choreographed at times. But that, my friends, is not the point.
This film was an attack on the Regan era. An attack on the rampant consumerism of the 80's. But open your mind. Saying that it's just an attack on the 80's is merely shutting your eyes. Telling yourself that things have gotten better. Sorry to disapoint you, but they haven't.
Rowdy Roddy Piper puts on some sunglasses. The world changes. Billboards now say Obey or Sleep. Or Marry and Reproduce. Magazines no longer have articles or advertisements. They are blank white pages with said phrases upon them. Money now are white pieces of paper that say This is Your God. Boy oh boy are they right.
So watch They Live. Grab some beer and score some corn. Enjoy the cheese. Enjoy the great one-liners. But also pay attention to the lines that sum up the truth. Remember the point of the film. Then go outside. Re-enter the corporate world outside your door.
You won't need special glasses to see the truth.
Exit Wounds (2001)
Thank whoever for this return to the action movie
In the 80's, we were blessed with oppressive, right-wing, ultra violent action films. And the people cheered. Absurdly violent acts would be shown, close up. In Commando, we see a saw blade thrown into a guy's head, for example. In the 90's action movies became weak. They were pushed and prodded into PG-13 ratings. Gun use became prevailent. We would see splashes of blood and THAT WAS IT! Bad guys began dying by bullet wound, dramatic fall or explosion.
Now, to Exit Wounds. By no stretch of the imagination was this a good movie. But it took the action movie from Bad to Rad. Here we have the right-wing ultra violence that was expected from every Steven Segal movie of the 80's. The story is ludicrous. Only one twist was even remotley unsuspected and that's only because I left my brain at the door. We get a car wreck where we actually see a face go through the windshield. We get broken legs, we get people being impaled on a variety of items. We get an empty shotgun fight. A sword fight. Fist fights. A lot of gunfights, but very few gun related deaths. And I rejoiced.
Thank God, thank Buddha, thank Krishna, thank Allah, thank Jesus, thank Joel Silver. Thank you Joel Silver for delivering unto us an action movie that is truly full of physical action and gruesome death. Now give us more. Preferably without Segal, but hey. I'll take what I can get. My tape of Commando is wearing out.
I'm not quite sure what to think of this movie. It was good. But it was also bad. It was involving and slightly thrilling while being really dumb at the same time. It had it's positive moments (the phone call between Clarice and Lechter) and it's moments of sheer stupidity (I have wild boars that are trained to eat human flesh when they hear screaming!).
Scott has found himself a happy style. He never tries anything different or daring, he continues to make solid movies. Not films, but decent ways to spend a couple hours. Which is sad. His career began because he was able to take risks. Look at Alien, Blade Runner, Legend, etc. Then look at 1492, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator. No risks taken there.
In the end, most of Hannibal was just gross. Every so often we'd get to see the classic Hannibal Lechter, but the rest of the time he was almost an absurd heroic version of the psychopath we had grown to admire in Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs.
So this movie was not a waste. It wasn't incredible, but it held my attention for two hours. And the conclusion on the airplane was almost as good as the conclusion for Lambs. Yes it was chilling, but it also made me feel good, hinting that this may not be over.
The greatest children's movie ever made.
Before you go and see this film you must first ask yourself a question. Are you an adult? As an adult, have you forgotten the child-like wonder that went along with fairy tales? The majesty that accompanied "Alice in Wonderland" the first time you had it read to you? Do you like the upstanding morals that our current society hides behind? Are you proud of your sensibilities? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this film is not for you.
However, if you re-read classic "children's" tales, have fantasies about other worlds, love mythologies and enjoy a good yarn, rent this and watch it with your child.
I have always (and probably always will be) a big fan of Disney movies. But nothing ever captured on film has ever filled me with such child-like wonder.
With Baron Munchausen Terry Gilliam succeeds in bringing to life the wounderous fantasy that exists only in the mind of a child. It isn't an A to B to C film, however. It is a handful of seperate stories brought to life. Each chapter works on its own, each in a different outrageous setting, each with its own outrageous characters. The film is full of flights of fancy, and they are all given a good amount of time for the audience to absorb and be enthralled by.
While science has done a great deal in helping us advance, we must always remember that none of it could have been done without someone using their imagination. No matter what anyone says, anything can be done. Anything can exist. And no one can say differently.
And you CAN get everywhere with fancy and hot air.
All the Pretty Horses (2000)
READ THE BOOK!
All in all I thought this was a decent film. Unfortunatly the film we all saw in the theatre was two hours too short. Miramax, which five years was the major promoter of indie film, has now gone corporate. They forced Billy Bob to cut over half of the film to make it "more marketable." Unfortunately this meant cutting character development and minor story elements. Everything people complained about was due to the film left on the cutting room floor.
Again, read the book. It goes on my top ten list of conteporary literature. Then give the film another chance. It will make the midde third make a whole lot more sense.
Mystery Men (1999)
Too bad this wasn't very popular.
Take a look at a few comic book adaptations that have made a load of money. Superman wasn't a good movie by itself. It was a setup for the rest of the films, like the first part of a serial. We are introduced to the characters and their motives. Superman is the hero. Clark Kent is a wimp. Lois Lane is head-strong. Jimmy Olson means well but always winds up in trouble. Lex Luthor is the stereotypical villain. The film is nothing more than an intro to a serial. Mystery Men is the same way. We are introduced to all the characters as they slowly get their team together. The film is funny in parts but it is also paced very methodicaly. This film was made to have sequels. The characters don't even come together until the last section of the movie. It's really a shame that we will never see more of this. A second part would have been faster, funnier and more tightly knit. The story could start off immediately, as we have been introduced to everyone already and we know who they are and what they do. What is also a shame is that X-Men got far more recognition than this and it follows EXACTLY the same format. This however, will get a sequel while Mystery Men will always be seen as a subpar effort instead of an introduction.
Pay It Forward (2000)
The story of Jesus.
You may think I jest, but it's true. This is the worst telling of the story of Jesus I have ever seen. Many people here applaud the basic premise of the movie, as do I. The general idea is inspiring. Or it would have been if the movie didn't suck so much. We get every dramatic cliche ever written in this story.
Burn victim can't love because no one ever loved him, not even his father. Vegas waitress is a drunk. Kid is insecure. Mom and Burn Victim fall in love, as she can see his inner beauty. Kid creates Pay it Forward. Kid helps drug addict. But addict goes back to drugs. Of course. But he still helps someone. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Kid dies trying to Pay it Forward. Because Kid doesn't see any effect from his actions, he doubts himself. Like Jesus. When he is stabbed, it is in the side. Like Jesus. Everyone cries and lights candles. Like Christmas. Roll credits.
The real shame here is that we are given three good actors who aren't given the opportunity to act. It seemed as though Leder got the Welles/Kubrick meglomaniac virus and told them how to do everything, from movement to their speech patterns. What is left is nothing but excrement. Stay away.
The second greatest Shakespeare screen adaptation.
The first being Hamlet in 1996. This film is not for the standard American audience. This was made abundantly clear by the incredibly tiny theatrical release. It only played in one theatre in my town and unfortunatly I missed it. If you liked the horrid mainstream rendition of Romeo and Juliet a few years ago, you will not like this. Go rent a Freddy Prinze Jr. movie. This film uses the original text and finds great actors who know how to perform it. No one is below par here. The direction, while a bit pretetious at times (whatever that really means) is awesome. The imagery is brilliant, and the story, while not rife with symbolism or hidden meaning like Shakespeare's later works, is very good. It has a solid beginning middle and end, all in all a great five act. Give this a shot. If you can understand it, you will enjoy it. Don't criticize it for setting it in another era/world/environment. That is never the issue. It is the story that is important. The problem with Baz's version of Romeo and Juliet (besides the fact that it is one of Shakespeare's worst plays) was that he cast the box office draws in it and not actors. He found people who look pretty. NOT ACTORS. Anthony Hopkins, by the by, gives one of his most powerful performances, and that is saying a lot. This film has made in into my personal top 100.
Citizen Kane (1941)
What is wrong with you people?
This is not the greatest film of all time. This film is a masterpiece. I admit that openly and freely. It is technically perfect, and the story clips along decently. It is incredible that Welles was able to do this when he was only 25 years old and it is incredible that this was his first attempt. But it isn't the greatest film of all time. It is impossible to truly believe that in 60 years of filmmaking nothing better has come around. I was very pleased to see that IMDB users have picked The Godfather as Number One.
What I advise all of you to do is pull your heads out of your inner reigons and watch this film without the influence of all the film goers in their berets and black turtlenecks who only venture down to the film center to see black and white foreign films. The beauty of film is the ability to create something like Kane and still be able to turn out mindless entertaiment. All you people who only watch artistic statements, independant films and anything made before 1950, you have no right to review movies. An open mind is required to honestly review movies. There is such a thing as a great action movie and a horrible art film.
The Lion in Winter (1968)
I loved it.
But I can easily see how it's not for everybody. Unfortunately, people are afraid to write negative reviews here. Personally, I loved this movie the first time, and I still love it the tenth time. But others are right. It can be a little slow. For me, the end of a movie often makes up for any flaws or slow bits in the whole. For instance, look at the Godfather. Any slow bit in there is made up by the incredible last shot. Look at it like dinner before dessert. And the same holds true here. Most of the dialouge is quick, but there are times where you want to get back to favorite characters, not the one's you're forced to watch. But that holds true of any ensemble cast, look at Magnolia. But the conclusion of this incredible film, knowing that this is a sick game and that it will be happening again next year makes all the trouble worth it, as you learn that it was all a game, things that were said weren't really meant, so on and so forth. So I loved it, but the MTV generation might not. But hey, it's their loss.