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My Man Godfrey (1936)
Great changes come from the most unlikely sources
Screwball comedies focus on the comedy inherent in all relationships and I'm one of the many who count My Man Godfrey as a quintessential example of its kind. I do believe that the 1936 film is one of the most cleverly made comedies I've seen in a long time. It all starts off with a well put together opening sequence showing a glamorous look on New York City with cast titles lit up in the way many people picture it, but then surprisingly transits to a miserable slum section of the town, showing the underside of city life during the Great Depression. Afterwards we are introduced to Godfrey of City Dump #32, East River, Sutton Place, who finds himself confronted by a group of the wealthy upper class snobs on a scavenger hunt for a "Forgotten Man". After some coaxing from one of their number Irene, Godfrey agrees to play along, and wins her the prize. Wanting to repay the favor, Irene offers Godfrey work, and he becomes the Bullock family's new butler. He soon finds out that the job is not what its cracked up to be.
Godfrey may be one of the best characters portrayed in cinema. He's intelligent and headstrong; comes off as bitter at times but in truth has a heart of gold. He is unafraid to express his honesty and upholds his unique nature. When he's asked to be the "Forgotten Man", it gives viewers a glimpse of how poorly the lower class folk were treated by the upper class. The movie goes out of its way to make a mockery of the wealthy, portraying them as having a ridiculously exaggerated sense of fashion, a desire to impress everyone with their money, and completely spoiled, thanks to a life without risk or struggle. I would wholeheartedly agree with one of the backdrop characters who calls a gathering of the rich at the Ritz Hotel "akin to a insane asylum". Godfrey couldn't be more accurate in calling them all "nitwits". For him experience was the best education.
It quickly becomes apparent to Godfrey why the Bullock family has had difficulty keeping a butler, given the family's constant disputes with each other and their ridiculous interactions. The priceless expressions on Godfrey's face tell us "What have I gotten myself into?" and I can't say I blame him. Godfrey also experiences the worst luck with women. Irene becomes infatuated with him as her "protégé" but Godfrey denies her, believing it to be for everyone's best interests. Meanwhile her scheming sister Cornelia plots Godfrey's downfall, but ultimately Godfrey uses her tactics against her. His decency never falters. In spite the family's mistreatment, Godfrey saves them from financial collapse and makes the errors of their ways clear. Godfrey also transforms the City Dump where he came from into a nightclub, providing nourishment, shelter, and employment for the once "forgotten men".
In the time of struggle and desperation that was the Great Depression, people deserved to be given a hopeful outlook on their lives, and a positive role model to look to. Godfrey had a great impact on the Bullock family and in the end even he gained something from the "nitwit" wealthy folks, including patience, amusement, and humility. Us viewers are left with the possibility that by finding the best in one another, no matter how different we may be, we can make the future brighter together.
Waiting for 'Superman' (2010)
The word "Wait" doesn't have to mean "Never"
Lately, I've wondered more and more if my college success would actually be worth something in the end. Life would indeed be so much simpler having a flying caped superhero always prepared to save the day or having a yellow brick road to follow to our destinies. While we may not have such luxuries in this reality we live in, Waiting For Superman focuses on a variety of youths who have had it far worse than I have growing up, being denied that which I've always had but failed to fully appreciate. The documentary emphasizes the degradation of American education but also provides hope that all is not lost. With enough determination and commitment; a broken system thought by many to be beyond repair can be fixed.
Davis Guggenheim's critically acclaimed documentary presents a number of bright and promising children, some of whom have clear goals in mind for their future careers, growing up in poor backgrounds devoid of the luxuries of proper education and financial advantage. Daisy is the ideal representative. At a young age, she already aspired to become a surgeon after finishing a medical or Veterinarian College. She maintains an upbeat attitude and sets the example for other children to follow.
I was shocked at the low proficiency rates in reading and mathematics nationwide with as many as 2,000 "Dropout Factories", where over 40% of students from poor elementary and middle schools are fed into high schools and fail to graduate on time according to research conducted by Dr. Robert Balfanz. It was the original belief of experts that failing schools were to be blamed on failing neighborhoods, but reformers now believe that failing neighborhoods could be blamed on failing schools. Ultimately, the very things done to help schools work better became the things that prevent them from working. A prime example is teacher tenure, which guarantees a job for life even for lousy teachers. And people wonder why things aren't getting better!
With the help of clever animated sequences, Guggenheim illustrates the serious concerns that his documentary aims to address. Public schools are meant to be the most important formative experiences of anyone's lives, providing a way out even for those born in the wrong neighborhood. Bill Gates himself testified before Congress "We cannot sustain an economy based on innovation unless we have citizens well-educated in match, science, and engineering. If we fail at this, we won't be able to compete in the global economy."
The obstacles were overwhelming, but hope could be found in the KIPP Academy, which was named the highest performing middle school in the Bronx. Its students were encouraged to perform to the utmost of their abilities, resulting in tremendous gains even for students from low-income families. Eighty-two such schools spread across the country, each in low income and under-performing neighborhoods. As Bill Gates pointed out "when you get the culture right, and the teachers are helping each other out, and that long schedule day means that that is the primary things that students engage in, it works".
In retrospect, I feel it was cynical of me to ever doubt the rewards of education. For opening a world of possibilities and the opportunity to build something greater than myself, it's always worth it.
Les Misérables (2012)
Surely the best cinematic adaptation of one of literature and theater's great classics.
There's no need to vouch for the musical that swept the world. Few are as celebrated as Les Miserables, and for all the right reasons. The musical production was truly beyond compare. Its songs; powerful, its acting; stellar, the storytelling; wondrous; and its impact; everlasting. It's long earned its place as my favorite. To develop a work of cinema out of this phenomenon would be a great challenge requiring respectful care, but would not be an impossible matter. This much is established by Tom Hooper's most recent addition to his growing body of ambitious work, an entertaining film adaptation that faithfully emphasized the themes that countless viewers, myself among them, fell in love with.
The movie follows the same path as the musical, starting with Jean Valjean's release from 19 years of slavery on a charge of stealing bread to feed his starving family and his failed attempts at escape. A Bishop who shows him compassion and the path to salvation sparks Valjean's journey to redemption. Henceforth dedicated to upholding his bargain with God, Valjean assumes a new identity and a new life, breaking his parole to fulfill his mission to show the world the goodness that he has found within himself. Years pass and by that time Valjean has become a respected factory owner and the mayor of a town that prospered under his reign. An intervention of fate leads Valjean to a new task that would change his life once again. Fantine, a desperate woman symbolic of the miserable life of poverty in France was betrayed and deserted by her lover. Left alone with Cosette, the child she bore out of wedlock, she commits herself entirely to her daughters welfare, going as far as to sell her own body for the coin she needs to ensure her daughter's survival. As Fantine lies dying from an illness, Valjean learns that he had a part in her downfall. Fantine had been a worker in his factory who Valjean fired at the request of his lecherous foreman after she rejected his advances. Overcome by guilt and wishing to make amends he now makes another promise of a lifetime to become the father Cosette never knew and raise her as his own. Valjean finds Cosette and what then begins is something greater than he could ever imagine being possible; he experiences love for the first time, a sequence illuminated in a beautiful song; one of the original touches this movie delivers which has rightfully earned its academy award nomination.
Made possible by Victor Hugo's novel, Les Miserables is a timeless story filled with timeless characters and enriched by timeless themes. The essential pillars which hold the structure upright are the complex forces that come into play. Throughout the course of the story, Valjean is hunted by his obsessive enemy Inspector Javert; a man obligated by his duty to the law who shows no remorse for those he perceives as unjust. Since he does this sincerely in the name of God, he and Valjean prove to be two sides of the same coin. Javert isn't evil, but his own unbending sense of Justice renders him blind to the forces that can lead weaker men astray. This and his complete lack of compassion for those he considers sinners ultimately lead to his tragic downfall when he realizes that Valjean is a better man than he. The Thénardier couple, an innkeeper and his wife, who kept Cosette in a dismal life of servitude light the tone of the story with comedic appeal. All of these events unfold in the midst of a revolution of youths rising up against an oppressive government, under the leadership of the dashing and charismatic Enjolras and Marius Pontmercy (who would later develop a loving relationship with Cosette). Within this turmoil, all the characters find themselves bound.
Fresh from the success of The King's Speech and the John Adams mini series, Tom Hooper gave the world of Les Miserables a gritty and down-to-earth atmosphere and took the unusual step of recording the songs during the filming rather than dubbing the voices in later. This is where the movie has fallen flat for those expecting top-notch vocal performances. More focus is thus placed on the acting as opposed to singing and it doesn't seem fair to compare the actors to their musical theater counterparts. There are enough positive elements to overwhelm the negatives, including the Oscar nominated performances of Hugh Jackman (who is no stranger to the musical world and as a result is absolutely wonderful portraying Jean Valjean) and Anne Hathaway, who despite having much less screen time, delivers a stunning performance as Fantine. Her scene involving the famous song "I Dreamed a Dream" shows how far she has come since Princess Diaries, a powerful blend of song and emotional acting. The production value reflects the tone that was intended and enables the viewers to immerse themselves in the world of strife and struggle; to savor all the passion. The most important aspect is conveying all the emotions and all the themes for which Les Miserables the classic novel and classic musical is rightfully renowned for liberty, love, redemption, and the triumph of the human spirit even when the battle is lost.
I admire all movies that take risks, those that take a path that conformist filmmakers dare not tread. Tom Hooper's Les Miserables is a work of exceptional fidelity that is surely the best cinematic adaptation of one of literature and theater's great classics. The cinematic experience is one that won't soon diminish for me and frankly I hope it never will!
Everything That Makes a True Classic is Here
To have lasting appeal in the past, present, and future, that defines a classic. As for my humble opinion, I believe there are two things which enable a filmmaker to create a classic that people hold dear: identifiable elements that are not so far-fetched from our own world and a profound message that continues to inspire and strengthen us with age. Bearing this in mind, it's understandable why the acclaimed Casablanca is a beloved work of cinema and counted among the great classic films. A romantic, patriotic, and idealistic movie that continues to stand the test of time and enchant present generations.
Derived from an unpublished play that surprisingly went nowhere, Casablanca is as beautifully photographed as it is narrated. The central focus is a timeless relationship between two characters played by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, without whom there's no doubt the movie wouldn't be as memorable or appealing. A loving relationship between Rick Blaine (Bogart) and Ilsa Lund (Bergman) in Paris tragically ends because of the outbreak of the War and leaves Rick a heartbroken and apathetic man. It drives him into hiding away from the world's problems in his café in far off Casablanca. But the fires of a lost passion are rekindled upon Ilsa's unanticipated reentry into his life, their fates forever entwined. Ilsa explains to Rick that something greater than the both of them had begun to unfold in her relationship with Victor Laszlo, the hero of the Resistance. She appeals to the sentimental heart and the patriotic spirit that rests within Rick's cynical exterior. His former self revived, Rick grants his lover and her husband passage to America in one of cinema's most memorable finales, as they say farewell outside of a plane, all for the sake of the cause they fight for. The rest is cinematic history!
I find it hard to believe that no one expected anything grand to come from Casablanca during the course of its development. The film is handled with great care, having a strong script and outstanding performances. Humphrey Bogart brilliantly portrays a hero, ranging from a broken man with little to lose to a redeemed figure who is changed for the better in the end. As Ilsa, Ingrid Bergman conveys a very warm and tender nature. And of course, the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman is top-notch and deeply moving.
Countless are all the classic moments and dialogue that even those who have never seen the movie can recognize. One of my favorite scenes takes place during the second meeting between Rick and Ilsa. Upon entering the café, Ilsa seems bathed by an almost heavenly light, symbolic of Rick's salvation. Another sequence that lingers within me is when the crowd singing La Marseillaise drowns the Nazi anthem out. Both scenes illustrate the crux themes of the movie, of how much hope a loving relationship can provide and how justice will prevail over evil if we all stand united.
Casablanca is not a movie that's to be marveled for technological achievements, but something infinitely more meaningful. For the leading characters, their relationship meant hope, which was exactly what was needed throughout the bleak time that was World War II. Casablanca is a movie that encourages viewers to follow their hearts and to take a stand for the many. No matter how insignificant you may seem, making a difference is never impossible. Those who have thought that Casablanca would never go far, let alone be hailed as a timeless classic, could not have been more wrong. I expect I'll be asking Sam to play it again soon!
Citizen Kane (1941)
Greatest Movie Ever Made? Debatable. Deserves to be Recognized? Absolutely!
Orson Welles' Citizen Kane is reputed to be the greatest movie of all time. Roger Ebert calls it his number one favorite and it is believed to have revolutionized the world of cinema, as it was known during its time. That sort of compliment carries more weight and depth than many realize. While I would not go so far as to call Citizen Kane the greatest movie ever made, it cannot be denied that it is a work of extreme ambition which defied conventional standards and deserves to be recognized and respected for its brilliance.
It's my belief that few understand the courage that was needed to stand against up William Randolph Hearst, a very influential figure in American media and politics, whose ambition, like Orson Welles, knew no bounds. After learning about the unflattering portrayal of him in first feature film of the 24-year-old Welles, Hearst went out of his way to ensure that the production never saw the light of day. To my great relief, he did not succeed.
The great potential of Welles became known during his time at the Mercury Theater. Although he was a newcomer to the film industry, he was granted total control of his signature work and had many of his theatrical colleagues to assist him. Even a novice at filmmaking sorely lacking in experience can go far with a good editor and director of photography. Welles took all the credit, but it's more than likely that without the luxury of cinematographer Gregg Toland and young editor Robert Wise, Citizen Kane would not be as praised as it is today.
A portrait of William Randolph Hearst's life, Citizen Kane follows the events of Charles Foster Kane's death. Reporter Jerry Thompson is tasked with uncovering the meaning of Kane's dying word "Rosebud". Was Kane a good man, an egotistical tyrant, or a sympathetic tragic figure? Thompson interviews everyone who was close to Kane, providing the audience the opportunity to examine the titular character through their perspectives. Deprived of a normal childhood, Kane attended and failed in a number of schools before gaining control of the sensational newspaper The New York Inquirer and eventually entering politics. A man of noble intentions, he degraded into a megalomaniac over time, leaving him empty and alone in the end. The meaning of "Rosebud" remains a mystery to the characters in the movie but not to the audience, as a sled from his youth, the only time when Kane was ever truly happy, is burned with the rest of his forgotten treasures.
Citizen Kane can be considered a textbook of cinematic techniques. Even if you are not impressed by the collection of memorable and well developed characters or the means by which the story is told, from a technical standpoint the film is groundbreaking, with atmospheric and environmental effects used to convey the plot and the brilliant use of cinematography to capture all the emotion and mystery through the use of varied angles and darkness. All in all, simply impossible not to appreciate!
How unfortunate it is that Citizen Kane received a negative critical reception upon its release and failed to win all but one Oscar (Best Writing, Original Screenplay) out of its nine nominations. Orson Welles was a born artist who lost everything as Kane did and spent the rest of his life trying to live up to the promise shown in his magnum opus. His career declined, but his legacy will forever stand as a testament to one man's creative vision and the steps he was willing to take to fight for his dreams. There are those who claim that Citizen Kane is overrated. Is that so? Perhaps. But regardless, there is much to be admired for avid filmmakers and anyone else who enjoys a thought-provoking narrative experience. One thing I can say with certainty is that the efforts of Orson Welles were not in vain.
Testifies that graphic violence is unnecessary to make a frightening ghost story.
When it comes to the underside of modern cinema, the horror genre frequently falls victim, plagued by uninspired remakes and tiresome clichés. For some time it's been apparent that fresh original ideas are not easy to come by and I'm among the many that misses being scared. I attended a theatrical showing of Sinister with soaring expectations, prepared to be frightened once again, and left almost two hours later more satisfied than I've been in a long time. This supernatural movie is easily the most impressive of it's kind in recent years. Exorcism of Emily Rose director Scott Derrickson has demonstrated an effective ability to convey horror and understands how powerful atmosphere and suspense can be. Let's hope that he'll continue to give us more.
True crime novelist Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) sees great potential for his accomplishment of a lifetime in an unsolved murder that has taken place in the house that he and his family have moved into. His only lead, a mysterious box of Super 8 footage of the murder that has taken place in his new home as well as several other cases of unsolved family murders abroad, found in the attic. Oswalt's findings deduce two aspects that make a connection with each murder. A disappearance of one child in each family and a demonic apparition that appears somewhere in each film. The malevolent phenomenon of the movie is the Pagan deity Buhguul, who subsists on the souls of vulnerable children and resides in a netherworld to which images serve as a gateway for him. Even though Buhguul is silent and makes brief appearances, his presence is felt and feared throughout the movie and he is sure to find his way into your nightmares for a long while to come. The possibility of solving the mystery is opened thanks to the advantage of modernized technology. As the investigation unfolds, eerily evocative happenings begin happening to Oswalt's family. Against forces beyond his comprehension, Oswalt becomes torn between his goal of uncovering the truth and the well being of his loved ones.
Ethan Hawke is very believable in portraying his role. You feel his determination to uncover the truth and how much his job means to him. As he becomes more detached from his family so do we as an audience. He emphasizes a potential that I hope won't remain obscured. Palpable tension builds as the climax draws ever closer and the intensity is amplified by haunting visuals and Christopher Young's spine-chilling soundtrack. The blend of Super 8 footage with traditional cinematography gives Sinister a gritty down-to-earth feel, taking the viewers along for the experience.
I've long grown accustomed to foreseeing and identifying film clichés and predictable outcomes, especially in the horror genre, but to my great surprise I found myself frightened on both a conscious and subconscious level. Graphic violence and explicit bloodshed are not needed to make a ghost story scary and Sinister deserves to be admired in this respect. What greater horror can exist than the evil that defies our comprehension? To all my fellow avid fans of the horror genre that have thought about giving Sinister a watch, surrender to your temptation because a refreshing treat awaits you!
A Small Glimpse of Sci-Fi Potential That Future Generations Would Build On
Science Fiction explores endless possibilities, in particular the future and advancement of mankind. During the 50s however, the genre was not given the credit it deserves. Works of cinematic science fiction lumped into the B-movie class and no one ever expected much of them. Back then, people had yet to realize the genre's full potential, which would later become evident in Star Trek and Star Wars. It wasn't until Robert Wise, indisputably one of films most accomplished directors made The Day the Earth Stood Still and delivered an approach like no other in science fiction that the genre achieved a whole new level of appreciation. As an avid fan of science fiction, I have been familiar with this movie for a long time, but I never understood just how impactful and revolutionary it was until now.
In the movie, humanity was at the dawn of a new age. With the discovery of nuclear power, it was thought that mankind would soon be ready to explore the depths of outer space and discover that we are not alone in the universe. But the human race, given its fallible and conflicting nature, was not yet ready to take the next step without risking the annihilation of the human race. It falls to the humanoid extra-terrestrial being Klaatu (Michael Rennie) to warn the leaders of the planet Earth of the dangerous path they were on. Realizing that the leaders are unwilling to cooperate, Klaatu is forced to go into hiding. He takes refuge in a boarding house under the alias "Mr. Carpenter" and lives among a family that personifies the goodness of human nature. He realizes that someday soon, humans may be ready for the great beyond.
Some of the effects, although crude by today's standards, are very appealing, but Robert Wise's film is not about how spectacular special effects can be, nor does it adhere to the conventional formula of human heroes triumphing over villainous aliens. The brilliance is in the many themes that Wise develops in a world at a time of warfare and fear. One of my favorite moments involves Klaatu and the young Bobby (Billy Gray) as Klaatu and the rest of the viewers are given a glimpse of 50s lifestyle. Klaatu perfectly captures the essence of being a stranger in a strange land as alien to the human world as humans are to his own. Klaatu sees the world through the perspective of Bobby. Looking through the eyes of an innocent child is often the best way to view life. Backed up by a strong script and adrenaline pumping tension, the theme of human goodness and the need to emphasize the better side of human nature is expressed beautifully with Robert Wise's unique blend of irresistible charm and drama features.
Robert Wise boldly went where no filmmaker had gone before with The Day the Earth Stood Still, giving us a science fiction movie that made people question the nature of mankind and the direction we are heading. In the post war/cold war era, a time of desperation and terror, Wise ushered a ray of hope and delivered a small glimpse of Sci-fi potential that future generations would build on. People would never look at the genre the same way again and for that Mr. Wise has my everlasting gratitude.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Chaney's performance of an outcast, as always, is unmatched!
Before the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, there was the masterful work of cinema that continues to frighten and enthrall to this day. Before Michael Crawford, there was the legendary Lon Chaney. Before this day and age of heavy reliance upon CGI and explosions, there was a time when silence was golden and muted gestures spoke a thousand words.
Outcasts who deviate from the norm is a subject which has been explored countless times in cinema. Lon Chaney (The Man of a Thousand Faces) was born for the silent movie era, having been forced to master the art of physical communication because his parents were deaf. He was the ideal actor to portray a misfit character, thanks to the harsh environment in which he spent his youth, a childhood in which his peers did not so easily accept him. The Phantom of the Opera is one of Chaney's many iconic roles.
Adapted from the French novel of the same name, the story is set in Paris, France within a haunted opera house. The central focus is the relationship between the beautiful young singer Christine Daaé and the Phantom, mysterious apparition who Christine refers to as "The Angel of Music". Under the Phantom's influence, Christine excels in the art of singing and rises to fame, but little does she realize how deeply the Phantoms obsession with her runs. The Phantom is no angel, but rather a deranged madman, master of the Black Arts, and hideous in facial features (brought to us by the makeup talents of Chaney himself hence "Man of a Thousand Faces"). The Phantom is the classic example of human deformity, but as monstrous as the phantom may appear at first sight there is a sympathetic side to him as well. Looking past the revolting features, it's plain to see that the Phantom is a poor misfit who desperately longs to be accepted by another. Within Christine, the Phantom finds his chance, and upon being denied his happiness by her rejection, the humanity that remained inside the phantom is overcome by a storm of rage, which would lead to his death at the hands of an angry mob.
Chaney's performance of an outcast is unmatched. Although devoid of any dialogue, the emotions are so vivid in his physical communication that the lines write themselves, affecting viewers deeply in the process. This is all enforced with the haunting atmosphere and musical score that the movie provides. The unmasking sequence (said to have caused fainting in theaters), the Phantom entering the ballroom in the guise of the "Red Death", and later looking down upon Christine and Raoul from a statue while in a state of betrayal, jealousy, and rage are impossible to forget. Everything conveyed without a word spoken.
The production value is a marvel to look at. The magnitude of the sequences involving great crowds is well captured by the cinematography and there are closer focuses upon the characters, for the sake of enforcing emotion. The Gothic scenery and costumes elevate the film to another level of artistry that emphasizes its dark tone. In all respects the visuals have an exquisite quality.
I count the Phantom of the Opera among the most accomplished films of the silent genre with its chilling atmosphere, moving story, and the remarkable visual performance that Lon Chaney is rightfully renowned for. The mark Chaney has left upon the world of cinema will undoubtedly last for all time and as irony would have it, the silent era would die with him.
Hunter x Hunter (1999)
Yoshihiro Togashi's Adventure of a Lifetime!
I'm a long time admirer of Yoshihiro Togashi's artistic vision. His signature work of fiction "Yu Yu Hakusho" is counted among my favorite animated franchises of all time and it stands as a testament to the potential of anime, with its engrossing concept of martial arts/fantasy, riveting action, and unforgettable characters. Undeniably one of the best that the genre has to offer! Following the success of Yu Yu Hakusho, Togashi wrote and illustrated his ongoing manga series Hunter x Hunter, which was soon adapted into an animated series. Hunter x Hunter has a great deal to offer for anime fans and beyond and has many recognizable elements of Togashi's unique and creative style. The franchise didn't catch on at the same scale as it's predecessor Yu Yu Hakusho, but thanks to a recently released reboot anime series Hunter x Hunter is rightfully increasing in popularity.
One of the essential qualities that make Yoshihiro Togashi significant as an artist is his ability to create charming and complex characters and Hunter x Hunter is no exception. The series focuses on a band of four great characters, each with their own reason for becoming a hunter. Hunters are widely regarded as elite members of the human race who devote themselves to seeking vast riches and undiscovered mystical wonders of the world. In their quest they are privileged to go virtually anywhere they so desire. Gon, a, pure, confident, and irresistibly personable boy, is motivated to become a hunter to discover the truth about his father (a professional hunter himself) who left him while he was still an infant. Kurapika is the last surviving member of the Kurta Clan (renowned for their "Scarlet Eyes" that become the color of red while in a state of rage or agitation) which was slaughtered by the Phantom Troupe, an infamous band of thieves who sought possession of their valuable eyes. Kurapika dedicates his life to administrating justice to the Phantom Troupe for his clan's massacre and retrieving the stolen eyes of his brethren. He endeavors to become a hunter to fulfill this purpose. Leorio comes off at first as a selfish man with an all-consuming desire for money, but further development of his character reveals that it's his wish to become a doctor to help those that can't afford medical treatment. His hope is to never again repeat the mistake of being unable to save an old friend from succumbing to a fatal illness. With the money earned from Hunter status, his dream could become reality. Leorio also serves as hysterical comic relief, keeping dark tension at bay. The fourth and last protagonist Killua shares a great deal in common with Gon, given his cheerful and mischievous nature. Killua comes from a family of widely renowned assassins who bred him to be a ruthless killer, but he eventually grew weary of that life and rejected his family's expectations. In spite the advantages born of his background, Killua is still but a child, longing to experience the bright side of life, believing that the Hunter exam offered him the perfect opportunity. There he would also learn the indisputable value of friendship, a quintessential anime theme.
The plot follows this band throughout the hunter exam and their adventures beyond, as they strive to help one another hunt for their dreams, leaving a lasting impact on each other's lives in the process. You want to see them succeed in fulfilling their goals. Along the way, they befriend new allies and encounter new enemies, each event having an important part of its own to play in their lives; all this playing out in the forefront of top-notch animation that reeks of real artistry, especially in the organic jungle sequences. The brilliance of the animation elevates the experience to another atmospheric level. Hunter x Hunter is a wonderful anime that is rich in story, character, and imagination, meant for those who dare to dream the big dream. The fulfillment of your dreams is the greatest of treasures, so never give up the hunt until the very end!
Accept This Movie For What It Is: A Commendable First Effort
This was something I wanted to check out from the moment I learned of its existence. Chris R. Notarile is undeniably one of the most important additions to the new generation of filmmakers and I have been very much impressed by his numerous small budget short films. It was only recently that I heard of Chris' first attempt at a larger budget movie. I looked it up, gave it a watch, and enjoyed what I saw.
"Methodic" is the story of an average young boy like any other named Nicholas Matthews who is consumed by a malevolent entity known as Dollman. After murdering his parents he is found to be not guilty by reason of insanity and is committed to a sanitarium where he resides for the next twenty years. Shortly after being visited by his sister Lana, he escapes. The evil is unleashed and the body count commences. Does this concept ring any bells?
It makes perfect sense that John Carpenter is so influential for Chris and any other indie filmmakers, considering how "Halloween" is one of the most successful low budget independent movies ever made. Who would've thought that a William Shatner mask painted white would become so iconic? Every slasher flick owes something to the movie that originated the formula. After Rob Zombie beat Chris in acquiring the rights to remake "Halloween", Chris altered what he had already done: made up his own premise and "Methodic" was born.
"Methodic" was given poor reception by many viewers. It was released during the time when Chris' filmmaking standards were still modest and not quite on par with his later works. I'm among those who have said that the story and the characters should have had more development and that some of the acting wasn't top-notch. However, I do believe that the pros outweigh the cons. Niki Rubin and Brandon Slagle were great in their roles and I also admired the character Dan Grant as portrayed by Tony Dadika. Even Mack the Dog delivers a fine performance. But of course the character that steals the show is the Dollman, the world's first basher monster who executes his victims by means of hammers, his fists, a baseball bat, a golf club, and even a frying pan. There's a fascinating concept behind Dollman that makes the character a significant icon, but elaborating any further would be a spoiler for newcomers. The soundtrack too is very well done. It gives you chills and makes everything seem all the more intense. Additionally for lovers of trivia, Charles Cyphers who played Sheriff Leigh Brackett in the original "Halloween" was casted as the police chief. An excellent touch! So is Methodic without flaws? No. But what movie is? Haters have to consider the limited budget and resources at Chris' disposal. Accomplishing any kind of movie under those circumstances is anything but a simple matter. For what it is, Chris gave it his utmost effort and I really feel that he should be applauded for getting "Methodic" made at all.
Much as I would've liked to see what Chris R. Notarile would have done with a Halloween remake, I believe that "Methodic" was the perfect opportunity for him to express his own creative ability. It's a familiar, but fresh horror experience with a unique vision and all the elements that fans of the genre can identify. It's debatable whether it holds up or not. As for me, I was invested all the way through and I am without regrets. Chris R. Notarile has taken cues from past errors and his filmmaking standards have since improved a tremendous deal. It's a practice any artist must adopt. At the rate his success is going, I would love to see more "Methodic". The movie has opened many possibilities that I hope to see executed with the high quality and top-notch techniques that Chris is becoming known for.