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Casino Royale (2006)
Return of the 00
I just saw Casino Royal last night with my hard core movie crew, and we don't let anything slide. We should have our own movie review show (Sneakin In The Movies! Ha!) Anyway, we all agree. This was the best of the franchise. I was hard pressed to find one that even came close. Although for some reason not a Bond favorite by many, OHMSS to me was one of the best. Casino easily out does this.
The other thing we agreed on is that this had to be the worst Bond song ever done (opening credits) but it ends there.
While Pierce Brosnan had become my favorite Bond, Daniel Craig has knocked him out the box completely.
Trust me, if you're reading our reviews here and haven't seen it, then don't read any further.
GO SEE THIS!! NOW!!! Not only was it a thoroughly entertaining Bond experience, but the ending and his last line is worth waiting for alone.
Now, let's hope that the suits in Hollywood don't stick their fingers in the next few and "blankety-blank" it all up.
Let's keep it 00 status!
Dark Water (2005)
Good 'n Dark
I just saw Dark Water on Cable the other night. There's nothing I love better than a good supernatural thriller. I can't believe it only garnered a 5.6 rating, but then we're talking about the IMDb community here.
I thought it was deserving of at least a 7. It was dark, riveting, interesting, intense and most of all....Scary! Didn't know it was a remake of a Japanese horror, but that's logical as a lot of good Goosebumps and spine tingle-rs are coming from that market.
As far as horror/thrillers go, you can't deny or overlook this one.I wasn't too crazy about the ending personally, but objectively I thought it was different from the norm and well done.
Cooley High (1975)
Cooley High is such a great film that even with the period's sound track, urban landscape, wardrobe and slang...it still doesn't feel dated. The sound track by the way is a timeless classic in itself.
Instead it absorbs you right into it. That is a staple of a good movie. From start to finish it doesn't miss a beat and I never grow tired of watching it.
It's ending is unique in the respect that it's one of the saddest and at the same time uplifting of all movie endings. There may have been a few since (Backdraft comes to mind) but Cooley was the first and much more emotional.
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Because we're mankind..........
.......We're all entitled to our opinions and points of view, mostly based upon our idiosyncrasies, prejudices, beliefs, and our experiences.
Hustle and Flow was an excellent feel good movie about change, love, faith, perseverance, facing and tackling one's fears to make dreams reality.
Albeit told, excellently mind you, from one of the grimiest of life's many stories (and there are grimier out there) and for those of us that have come from (or still live in) the inner city, none of this is cliché' but simply art imitating life on a level that we can identify with more than others.
This is our culture.
However, as far as I'm concerned my opening comments make it clear that you don't have to be a pimp, ho', black, rocked a mic on stage, studio, or dreamt of doing it, live in the ghetto or like hip hop/rap/crunk music to identify with this movie.
All you'll have needed was to have been in love, been hated on, done things you hated and you'd like to be forgiven for, attended church, dreamed of becoming a lawyer/doctor (Mrs.Taylor) or any other profession and had to overcome "REAL" hardships and make sacrifices to get there, forgotten where you came from, decided to throw caution to the wind and say "Something's got to change in my life" and start changing it, or simply had to get your hustle on to put food on the table or make that change in your life possible to identify with this movie.
The entire ensemble put in exceptional work, making each and every character real. You have to give Terrance Howard his props on this one, but as I look at each actor's performance and try to grade them, they all come up with high marks. I especially dug "Key" Anthony Anderson's character as he's usually cast as buffoonish comic relief. It was refreshing to see him in a serious role and his character was extremely down to earth, identifiable and likable.
Taraji P. Henson (Shug) subtly stole every scene she was in, most times with just her facial expressions which conveyed so much about her and Terrance's (D-Jay's) characters.
This wasn't just a story about a pimp/drug dealer trying to make it big in rap....it's the human story.
I haven't experienced a more satisfying and triumphant movie ending since Shawshank Redemption.
Hustle and Flow's ending ranks right up there.
I have to give a shout out to the comment posted by nitejrny282.
Hou hsing kou shou (1979)
The best of it's genre
Long before the Kung-Fu cinema of this period became a cult following and channel 5 (FOX) started running the more contemporary of these movies on Saturday afternoons, my cousin told me about a movie that he'd seen on 42nd st. (NYC, the Mecca of the kung-Fu craze) that I had to see.
As a kid, we had grown up on some of the older stuff, 5 Fingers Of Death, 7 Blows of the dragon, and all of the Bruce Lee movies. Most of this during the blackploitation era.
Then there was a lull in our Kung-Fu diet, well as far as anything new and different was concerned.
So when I finally saw this with my cousin on his recommendation (Said it was so good he had to see it again) I was blown away. I'd never seen anything like it before or since (with the exception of "Kung Fu Hustle" which now ranks a 10 on my greatest Kung-Fu list) The story was tight, the choreography was above average for it's time and the cinematography was top notch.
What I like best about this movie, compared to all the others, is that you didn't see a guy get punched or kicked 12 times before coughing up blood and then coming back to give 24 blows of his own before that person hacked up a lung.
This was a three to four hit minimum movie, which means there was more focus on style and defense in the fight scenes before eventually someone scored a hit, and when they got hit, they felt it..like a real fight more or less.
Also, this was one of the first movies to give you the styles that appeared here....Drunkard, Monkey, Snake and when you think about it, all three are the more flamboyant of styles (not to leave out the Mantis style) I've argued with other Kung-Fu aficionados in video stores over a novice's query as to what's the best Kung Fu movie to start out with.
Hands Down, you up your Kung-Fu appreciation immensely with this gem.
Jiu xian shi ba die (1979)
"This Is The Drunkard Technique!!!"
Two weekends ago I stumbled across a little store in Brooklyn that housed a treasure trove of old and new Kung Fu movies on DVD. Upon entering and looking around like I'd entered a library filled with secret tombs and scrolls, I put the proprietor to the test expecting him to come up short with the ancient titles I presented him with, but he simply smiled knowing and deftly moved from isle to isle to present me with the titles I'd inquired about.
"Hmmmmf! Good Kung-Fu!!"
I returned a week later and smiled slyly as I asked "Do you have World Of The Drunken Master?" To which my smile was again returned knowingly as he retorted "We just got that in" For $7.00 bucks I went home and relived old 42nd st. movie theatre days of Kung-Fu dreams and high nights as all of the dialogue and fight choreography came back to me with each scene.
Not one of the better of the Kung-Fu movies of this golden era, as most of the fight scenes are not all that good compared to today's standards, but this is made up for in the story, the memorable dialogue and the nostalgia it conjures. Ahh...but remember...I said "Most" of the fight scenes are not all that good.
The real treat of this classic is what happens after you hear "Master! Sweet Premium!!" followed by the uncorking sound of a wine jug, the gurgle of it's contents and the theme music indicating a staggering ballet of whup ass is on the way.
Or simply when you hear that theme music in general followed by the antagonist's mixed cry of awe and loathing as he exclaims "The Drunkard Style!" And then comes the description of each move as you're getting your butt handed to you...
"Royal Guest Gets Drunk!!" / "Drinking The Fairy Wine!" / "Riding The Ti-ger!" / " And this one's Drink All You Can!!...."
"This Is The Drunkard Technique!!!"
Ahhhh...! The joy of Hong Kong Cinema! "Now, Now...No need to disagree! Why quibble my friend, huh? Come....let's have a drink!
The City of the Dead (1960)
***********************S P O I L E R S*******************
There's not really much more that I can elaborate on that hasn't already been stated here so eloquently by everyone else. For it's time, it's one of those real standouts for horror, suspense and atmosphere. Next to "The Crawling Eye" and a few others of this genre and period.
The story line was pretty tight as well. Actually, you could easily put Horror Hotel up against a host of these so called horror movies they have cranked out over the last couple of decades to this day and it would hold it's own. Unlike what appears to be a good number of my fellow IMDb members, I have not seen this since I was a kid but it's imagery and story are still with me. I'd love to get a copy on DVD and see what my kids think of it and to refresh my memory as well. Besides, what movie has the great Christopher Lee treated us to that was butt crack? My favorite scenes are...
1. Where Nan Barlow's brother is driving to Whitewood to check on her (wasn't he warned in someway that she was in danger?) and then the image of Elizabeth Selwyn appears in front of him, in the middle of the road, burning at the stake and laughing her hideous laugh which causes him (as planned) to crash his car into a ditch on the deserted road leaving him broken and bloody.
2. Well, the 2nd would be the ultimate spoiler for anyone reading this that hasn't seen it yet. Let's just say it's connected with the above scene and always sent a rush of courage fused adrenalin through my heart to counter act the icy grip of fear it was in for the last hour or so.
"No, you have to use the shadow of the cross! THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS!!!"
We all have seen a lot of remakes, some good, most bad. I wonder if Horror Hotel would benefit from a proper redo.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
A New Dawn
****MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS****
I went to the theater with a lot of anticipation and was not disappointed. Well maybe a little, but these are my pet peeves and on a whole are not meant to diminish what I felt to be a future classic remake of a classic.
With all of the "Dead" movies you find that you instantly put yourself in the character's place and while there are going to be differences in thought and action, I felt there were "General" concerns/emotions not being addressed by the ensemble cast that were addressed in the first one(s).
It's like they accepted this plight without enough question and just rolled with staying alive, So that there was an underlying frustration/chaos throughout.
As a result I felt this affected character development to a large degree. Where were the individual "war" stories discussed between the survivors regarding what they saw, heard and went through before linking up?
The news coverage was disjointed, frenzied and lacking. It would have been slicker to have at least one station still reporting with more information as the movie went along.
Reporter: Q: " Are These Things Dead? "
Government(?)Speaker: A: (With sweaty exasperation) "....We just Don't know..."
In essence, this set the tone of the movie...a hopeless, frustrating, swift and almost total armageddon! And yes, it's obvious that this was intended.
I recall now at the start of the flick the character of Sarah simply clicking past the news on her car radio while looking for her easy listening station that sounded like "....Reports are still sketchy..."CLICK..."This just in..."CLICK..."At this time there is no explina..." CLICK. I don't know about you, but even after doing a double shift, bites like THAT (pun INTENDED) catch my attention. Also, there was the missing of the Special Report bulletin while in the shower with her husband.
Another thing I wasn't feeling was "How" the dead were able to come back.
A proper tweak here, an added 15 to 20 minutes there (I believe the running time was close to an hour and a half) and you would have had a flawless thriller!!
I'd say the scariest thing about the movie (other than the grizzly, bloody, sprinting dead chasing you) was, again, the almost mindless, unquestioning acceptance of their situation.
The original Dawn was lauded for it's social satire and commercialism.
This comes into play in the remake for our current times as well. After all, when your government can effectively compromise one of it's 50 state's (FL) Presidential ballot and then pull a "You didn't see that" after a couple of "Hurumpfs" from the people and lull the masses back to sleep with business as usaul.....Survivor/Making Of The Band/The Internet/New Games/New Videos/New Music/New Controversy/New and better commercials to sell all of this and more PLUS The Rat Race in general....
Why question "Why" the dead coming back to life?