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The Compleat Beatles (1982)
Not really "compleat" but still very well done
Any documentary on The Beatles which is only 2 hours long is obviously not going to really be "compleat". You could make an 8 hour documentary on their amazing career & it still wouldn't seem like too much.
With that said, this documentary is extremely well done. One of the things I really like about this documentary is that it spends its 2 hours very well. It uses those 2 hours to show the aspects of The Beatles which had long-term effects upon music and culture, such as depicting the evolution of their music from simple pop to more complex album-oriented music to even more experimental music. It also does a great job in painting a picture of how and why the four of them were growing apart - and why their breakup was all but inevitable by the time they reached the end of 1969/beginning of 1970.
The documentary is not perfect. More detail could have been spent on such aspects such as the making of their albums - especially The White Album & Abbey Road. Having seen this documentary several times, it now seems like they only sketch out the details of those albums, especially Abbey Road. But ultimately, this documentary does an extremely good job of showing the important details of The Beatles career in just 2 hours. It also does a good job in showing George Martin's importance in their career.
Final word : Show this documentary to anybody who has medium or even above average knowledge of The Beatles & they will learn a great deal about The Beatles in just 2 hours.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Overrated and ridiculous
I've always felt this movie was extremely overrated by fans of SNL at the time. By the time the movie came out, people were so in love with the whole Blues Brothers phenomenon on SNL, that it really wouldn't take too much of a quality movie to capitalize upon that.
The script, which included some of the most idiotic chase scenes in cinema history, seems like it was written in a single night of chemical indulgence. By the time you get to the end of the movie, you get the feeling that John Landis knew the movie wasn't really working - so he decided to just make the scale of the chase scene completely ridiculous in order to try and make someone laugh at something.
The music numbers are what saves the movie from being a complete failure. They're so good that they will make you forget about just how stupid the rest of the movie actually is.
Side note : I think it's worth noting that John Landis is completely overrated in himself. Sure, he directed "Animal House", and "American Werewolf In London". But, his failures FAR outweigh his successes. Just to name some of his other flops : "Spies Like Us", "Three Amigos", "Oscar", "Beverly Hills Cop 3", and of course "Blues Brothers 2000". I've always felt that "Trading Places" could probably have been a better movie with a different director.
Mel Brooks' humor begins its downfall
Having grown up with Star Wars as a child & being introduced to Mel Brooks films as a young teen, this movie seemed like a dream match when it was announced in my late teens. I mean, Mel Brooks was going to make a spoof of Star Wars !
It had been a while since the last Mel Brooks movie, and even though History of the world Part I was not even close to what I had come to regard as up to par for a Mel Brooks film, I was excited over all of the possibilities that Star Wars would provide for Mel Brooks' parody. But I soon realized in the theater that this is simply not a funny movie. The humor in this is so shallow & unimaginative that I still have trouble believing that this came from the same person who brought us Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. Those films featured witty and clever type of slapstick comedy. It was the type of comedy that knows no time period. At times those films would incorporate risque humor that actually worked. Here, Mel Brooks' comedy seems so umimaginative. It's grammer school kid humor. He actually spoofed the Jabba the Hut character with a character named Pizza the Hut...and for as stupid as that sounds, it's even more idiotic & unfunny on the screen. It's just not funny. What was once Brooks' risque mind is now pre-puberty humor : "My schwartz is bigger than yours." I remember sitting in the theater just waiting - HOPING - for a scene that would even hint at the genius of Blazing Saddles & Young Frankenstein. There isn't one in this film.
Even the cast is hopelessly unhappy. Jim Candy, Rick Moranis, and Bill Pullman seem poised for humor - but everything that comes out of their mouths is just predictable & childish. Every character in this film seems like it was conceived within a 5 minute idea session where all the writers and Brooks got together & said things like "What's a good spoof for Darth Vader ? How about um....Lord Dark Helmet ! HAHAHA ! Yha we'll use that ! So, what's a good idea for Chewbacca ? How about a half dog/half man character ? YHA ! Let's use that ! What should we name him ? How about something stupid like Barf ? Yha ! Let's do that !"
There is such a wealth of material to spoof in Star wars that I still can't believe someone (especially Mel Brooks) could make such a shallow spoof such as this. What I had hoped would be a return to form for Brooks turned out to be confirmation that his comedic ability had indeed seen its best days. AFter this, Brooks only made more and more hopelessly tired spoofs such as Robin Hood : Men In Tights, and Dracula : Dead and Loving It. Mel Brooks' humor is indeed gone. Nowadays when I see him make guest appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm he seems like that old uncle who tries to make all the kids laugh at family get togethers. The uncle was probably a funny kid back in high school - but now the years have caught up with him & his humor is just tired, dated, and boring.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
An exercise in endurance
Did this movie really need to be made ? Apparently it did, because Rob Zombie went through all kinds of trouble to get it out to the public. It basically serves as his little homage to horror movies. However, that very fact itself serves as the film's first flaw : It has no originality. It's almost like Rob Zombie thought it would be a really cool idea to make a movie that didn't have anything new to it. Instead, he would just take all these scenes from his favorite movies and just re-shoot them. It doesn't matter how many obscure horror movies he references in this scene or that. In the end, the whole flick is just a stylized ripoff of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
So, that kind of brings me back to my original question : Did this movie really need to be made ? It's not scary. It's not really what I would consider "gory". Hell, it's not even that creepy. The characters are so cliche, that by the last 30 minutes of the movie you're just hoping the victims will just die or escape.
Club Dread (2004)
Broken Lizard falls hard
Super Troopers was a total sleeper. I didn't even hear about that movie before it came on cable. Then one day it came on cable & I was bored - and I watched it. It took a couple of minutes, but I suddenly realized that it was an amazingly funny movie. It had very silly, yet sometimes witty humor. I watched it over and over. Everytime I watched it, I found something new that was hilarious. I started to notice even the really little subtle humor that was going on in the background. I couldn't believe that it was a huge hit when it came out.
So, I was very excited when I heard Broken Lizard would be coming out with a new movie - Club Dread. These guys were so naturally funny, that I couldn't imagine their next movie being anything less than a laughing-until-I-am-crying type of experience.
Boy, was I wrong. Club Dread is so UNfunny that, as a Super Trooper lover, it was actually painful for me to sit in the theater and watch. This is an extremely EXTREMELY unfunny movie. I remember watching it in the theater, and wanting to laugh. I just kept waiting for something - ANYTHING - that was somewhat funny to make me laugh. It never came. It was literally that bad.
This is a movie that will actually make you wonder if the guys in this film are even the same guys who appear in Super Troopers. I couldn't believe these guys who were almost effortlessly making me cry with laughter during Super Troopers, were now making the type of lame and tired humor that would probably have been mocked in Super Troopers.
What happened to Broken Lizard ? After watching Super Troopers, I actually thought they could be one of the funniest comedy teams in the past 10-20 years (I was THAT impressed with their style of humor on Super Troopers !). Now, after watching this sad excuse for a movie, I can only hope that they will somehow make a comeback in a couple of years.
Avoid this movie at all costs. It is a complete waste of time. Watch Super Troopers. I consider it to be one of the biggest sleepers in recent times. You'll watch it over and over.
Bringing Down the House (2003)
cliche-filled braindead humor
How dumb can Hollywood be ? Watch this idiotic comedy & you will find out.
This movie employs every possible stereotypical & boring humor of our time & actually tries to pass it off as "funny". You've got your manipulative "ghetto" black lady who comes across a very successful middle aged white man.
Of course the middle-aged white man is completely defenseless when it comes to her highly witty & clever means of accomplishing her goal. He can't think for himself. This type of person just bewilders him. What will she do next ? He's completely at her mercy. If he could only have help with this.
Oh, but wait, his friend (Eugene Levy) is also at this black lady's mercy. His strong fetish for large black women makes him completely defenseless against her as well. They have no choice but to help her in her quest. Gee, I can't stop laughing !
I could go on & take apart the rest of the tired & boring stereotypes that are used in this sad excuse for a movie - but that would just require more energy by me. Let's just say that if you actually thought this movie was funny, then maybe you need to get out more.
Note to Steve Martin : You did a good job in this case of actually "becoming" your character. You basically just threw your already sinking career into the dumpster for the benefit of Queen Latifah. I guess Hollywood is pretty desperate for a new black female star these days, because they just love giving that talentless big mouthed bitch publicity.
Logan's Run (1976)
70's Sci-Fi at its best
Sure, it's 70's Sci-Fi at its best. However, calling something "the best of 70s Sci-Fi" is kind of a backhand comment. It's a rather limited category - especially when you are considering films made before "Star Wars". I start thinking of films like "Rollerball", and even the "Planet of the Apes" movies. They're the type of movies that were conceived with a type of socio-political statement & theme in mind (mostly revolving around a futuristic Utopian world), and in the process of showing that futuristic world, managed to date themselves by showing off their state-of-the-art 70's technology. Even discreet things like the font used for public billboards screams out "THIS WAS MADE IN THE 70's !!!". They have that really cheesy curvy quasi-futuristic type of font that was so popular in the 70's for a while. Now you see that font, and you think to yourself "damn, people actually thought that looked 'futuristic' at one time ?"
Still, at the base of this movie there is indeed an interesting underlying story. Sure, it's a bit ridiculous (you can live in a Utopian world - but you can only live until you're 30), but it's still an interesting idea.
I remember watching this flick when I was 7 and being completely fascinated with it. I just loved this world. It was amazing to me. I mean, did you see how they could just go into those cars and get taken anywhere they wanted automatically ?!?! WOW ! It reminded me of my family trip to Disney World the summer before !
I just watched "Logan's Run" again for about the 6th or 7th time last night. It's still an entertaining flick. I enjoyed it. But all I kept thinking while watching it was "This movie needs to be remade." If they can remake "Rollerball" and "Planet of the Apes", then they need to remake "Logan's Run". This is a story that can truly benefit from a remake today. This is especially true when you consider the elements of this movie which are keeping it from being a "great" movie are fixable.
When I say that, I'm not just referring to improved special effects. I'm also talking about the pacing of the movie & the focus. This movie was best when it was focusing on the futuristic Utopian world, during the first hour or so. It started to go downhill after that. I think a remake that focused on that futuristic world, and its interesting society, would be much more entertaining. Obviously, an improved ending will elevate a remake as well.
I'm sure someone will eventually remake it. If it's done right, then it will be a better film than "Minority Report".
The American adaptation is better
After being thoroughly blown away by the American adaptation of Ringu in the theater, I was determined to see this original Japanese edition. So I was very disappointed when it turned out that the original didn't have the storyline depth or intense creepiness of the American remake.
One of the most creepy aspects of The Ring was the video itself. The images on it were surreal, abstract, yet meaningful. In Ringu, the video was much, much shorter - and far less creepy. Because it was a shorter video, it had much less clues to the curse - and became part of the reason it was a shorter movie.
As a matter of fact, if I had watched the two versions of the film back to back with no previous knowledge of which was made first, I would have guessed the American version was the original. The American version had much more depth concerning the history of Samara. These type of details (which I felt added to the American version) were left out of the Japanese version - so the original seemed like an edited version of the American version. It actually felt like a shorter remake of The Ring.
I really was hoping for Ringu to blow me away even further than The Ring had. Instead, I hold this as one of the prime examples that Hollywood can indeed improve upon a foreign movie.
The Ring (2002)
I really didn't know what to expect when I went to see this film. I had been told that it was worth seeing, but nothing more. The two main reasons behind me wanting to see the movie were :
1) It was around Halloween & I wanted to see a scary movie 2) I had seen Mulholland Dr. and really liked Naomi Watts' performance
With that in mind, I expected the film to be decent.
But the film was much more than decent. It was downright creepy. Very creepy. It's important to understand the difference between "scary" and "creepy". Scary can be accomplished in a matter of seconds (someone jumping out from behind a wall with a knife). Creepy is something that takes a while to accomplish in a film. It takes a long time on the part of the director. It requires more attention and time on the part of the viewer. This film managed to accomplish creepy very well. It reminded me of the older generation of horror films, which managed to grab you in a way that was very psychological ("The Omen", "Rosemary's Baby", and of course "The Exorcist"). Those types of horror are the ones that always stick with me. They are the ones that endure. They are the ones that I inevitably have to watch for at least a little bit when I pass them on late night cable even though I have seen them countless times.
very well made
one of the best films of 2002
American Graffiti (1973)
Truly a landmark film
George Lucas made two films that will always be known as breakthrough & defining films.
One is obvious : "Star Wars".
The other is almost just as important : "American Graffiti".
By seamlessly intertwining the soundtrack into the movie, Lucas made this simple film into a breakthrough cinematic experience. It opened the doors for the usage of music in the future of film.
But the great thing about the way the music is utilized is that it isn't just used for the sake of filling in otherwise dull spots of the film. It is used in a way that fully capture the whole 50's experience. Of course there are so many other aspects of the 50's that help Lucas accomplish his snapshot of the 50's experience. There are the cars, the fashion, the trends...and of course there's Wolfman Jack acting as a type of narrator throughout the night.
Besides capturing the 50's experience on film, "American Graffiti" also acted as a catalyst for the "50's revival" in TV shows & music - another reason this is such a landmark film.
For me personally, after viewing this film, and listening to the soundtrack as a child, I too felt that I had experienced the 50's in a way.