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Naked Lunch (1991)
Has this ever happened to you? You find roaches in your house and you call an exterminator, right? This has happened to all of us. But, have you ever wondered what the life of an exterminator must be like? Anybody? David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch takes us on a 2 hour drug trip into the life of an exterminator with superb and gross results.
The cast is stellar. Peter Weller plays William Lee, an exterminator who becomes addicted to his bug powder. Judy Davis turns in an Oscar-worthy performance as Joan Frost and Joan Lee. Ian Holm plays Tom Frost: Joan Frost's husband. The acting is extraordinary. I couldn't see a more perfect cast. This is one of Naked Lunch's high points.
I'll admit it, this is my first film by David Cronenberg. However, I think I can say that his direction of Naked Lunch is terrific. His script is also top notch. Like I mentioned in my review of Napoleon Dynamite; I have a very big schedule this weekend and I don't have much time to fit in my reviews. I hope that this was enough to convince you that this is a great movie only for people with strong stomachs.
David Mamet is one of my favorite writer/directors. Even though he didn't direct it, Glengarry Glen Ross is still my favorite. When I heard that Mamet was writing and directing a thriller about the kidnapping of the president's daughter, I was very interested. I was disappointed.
First of all, the acting is dry and wooden. It was hard to watch Val Kilmer play this kind of role this badly. At some points in the movie it felt like Mr. Kilmer was reading off of cue cards. I don't have much to say about Derek Luke. He was good but he didn't stand out. Kristen Bell plays the kidnapped daughter very well. I was pleasantly surprised by her performance. William H. Macy's acting didn't really stand out either. He was good but he's been better in Fargo and The Cooler. Some of the lesser characters weren't very good either. It's sad.
Mamet's direction is top-notch. This is one of his best directorial achievements thus far. Also, Mamet's writing is equally great. It's just too bad the acting was almost completely dead.
To sum it up, Spartan is a good movie, but it isn't great. It's fun to watch once and then remember it. It's a pity to see Val Kilmer act this wooden when he's done so much better material. I guess it just hasn't been a good year for him (* cough* Alexander).
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Clockwork Orange
My family has always been scared/freaked out by the evil smirk Malcolm McDowell gives to the camera in this film's opening shot. Now that I've seen this movie, I get to freak them out whenever they serve milk as a beverage at holidays. :) Using stunning tracking shots, bizarre surrealism and just sheer drama, Stanley Kubrick created one of, if not the best movie of 1971. Now that that's been established, let's take a more in-depth look at this exceptionally deep film.
My first Kubrick film was 2001: A Space Odyssey when I was six. I understood most of it, but I just liked the visual effects. When I saw it again on DVD when I was 13, it was so much different. Since that day, I had wanted to see all of Kubrick's movies. A Clockwork Orange may just be his masterpiece.
Kubrick's tracking shots have always been the best of any director (Martin Scorcese is right behind). Using the trademark fish-eye lens, the screen follows characters from an inanimate third-person point of view. The record store scene in particular is a great example. Sometimes the scene will just stay still for so long, the tension becomes so unbearable because you just want the camera to move.
The acting is extraordinary, especially from British actor Malcolm McDowell. He is able to completely embody Alex de Large with startling and sometimes even scary ease. When I read the trivia section at IMDb before seeing this movie, I couldn't figure out why McDowell would have a fear of eye drops after making this. The "conditioning" scene explained to me why.
Anyway, this is a terrific film that mature audiences should all experience. If you are reading this review and haven't seen it, you really should. I can almost promise you (I can't promise you because I don't know you) that you will not be disappointed.
'Secretary' is one of the most unique films ever made. It deals with an almost completely untouched subject: sadomasochism. This topic is usually steered away from for obvious reasons. This film re-opens this disturbing topic.
'Secretary' is a mind-blowing, breath-taking drama which goes into the mind of a young woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who enjoys cutting and hurting herself. After released from a mental hospital, she gets a job as a secretary for a lawyer (James Spader). Their relationship soon turns into an erotic, weird and occasionally perverse sexual fantasy. Maggie Gyllenhaal gives one of the year's best performances by an actress. James is also extremely good in this, but he doesn't give an Oscar-worthy performance unlike Maggie.
This film hooks itself into you unlike any other film. You are drawn into it the first few seconds after the beginning of the opening titles finish. This is one of the most rare of movies which is entirely original, it would be a lie to say you've seen anything like it. This is without a doubt one of the best films of 2002. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for what 'Secretary' has in store for you.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
Adam Sandler surprised the world with the role he plays in this extraordinary film. Adam plays an ill-tempered plunger salesman named Barry Egan who falls in love with a girl (Emily Watson) who is recommended by one of his seven sisters. He starts off a great relationship, but his world starts to crumble around him when he refuses to lend a phone sex girl $750. Soon the boss of the phone sex company sends people to get him to pay up, but they are unaware of Barry's temper. This occasionally hilarious drama leaves you with a feeling inside you that you've never felt before.
The acting is superb in this film. Adam Sandler is without a doubt the best actor of the year in a comedy. Emily Watson is terrific as Lena Leonard (Barry's girlfriend) as is Philip Seymour Hoffman (the leader of the phone sex company). But they cannot come close to Adam's performance in this. 'Punch-Drunk Love' was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson ('Boogie Nights', 'Magnolia') and he won at the Cannes Film Festival for Best Director. Anderson has done some of the most unique directing ever to be seen. Inter-cut between certain scenes, Anderson shows these weird, sometimes dizzying images that work terrific with the material. This is by far, the most unique directing since 'Mulholland Drive'.
To tie it up, 'Punch-Drunk Love' will leave you dizzy, amazed and anxious to see Adam Sandler do more drama roles. This is definitely one of the best films of 2002.
The Game (1997)
A One-of-a-Kind Thrill Ride!
"The Game" is the one of the best thrillers of 1997, and of all time. Director David Fincher (Se7en) has created a suspense thrill ride without the help of
Hollywood: a very impressive achievement. The acting is great, the screenplay is great, but its most impressive trait is its ending. What happens? See the movie to find out! Trust me, this is a one-of-a-kind thrill ride!
My Critique: ***+
Rating Reasons: Language, and some violence and sexuality.
A Good Idea Gone Wrong
"D.O.A." is a non-thrilling thriller from directors Rocky Morton and Annabel
Jankel. The acting is okay and the screenplay is pretty bad. This movie also has some moments which will make you laugh at how stupid the scenes of violence
are. For example, someone is shot near a window. We then see from outside
the building what looks like that person jumped. I laughed my head off when this happened. This movie tries hard, but ultimately fails. Only watch this movie
when you have no other choice.
My Critique: **
Rating Reasons: Violence and language.*
*There was no rating reason available due to its age.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Thrilling and Engaging
"Rosemary's Baby" is a truly original horror film by director Roman Polanski. The acting is terrific (Ruth Gordon turns in an Oscar-Winning Performance), the
screenplay is great, and above all, this movie is very original.
My Critique: ****
Rating: [R] Rating Reasons: Some nudity and violent images.*
*I created this because this movie was too old to have one.
Waking Life (2001)
Possibly the Best Animated Movie Ever
"Waking Life" is an amazing journey through the unanswered questions about
your dream-state and your awake-state from director Richard Linklater. The
animation is one-of-a-kind and the screenplay is fantastic. This is one of the best films of 2001 hands down.
My Critique: ****
Rating Reasons: Language and some violent images.
*** out of ****
Stomach Intensity: 2/4
Comments: A true jolter. This film is one of the best science-fictions of the year. I liked it a lot. Directed by Academy Award Nominee M. Night Shyamalan ('The Sixth Sense', 'Unbreakable').