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1. True Romance (1993)
2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
3. Citizen Kane (1941)
4. The Godfather (1972)
5. Gone with the Wind (1939)
6. Grindhouse (2007)
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
8. Psycho (1960)
9. Napoleon (1927)
10. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
FAVORITE DIRECTORS: Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Akira Kurosawa, and Chantal Akerman
FAVORITE ACTORS: Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Toshiro Mifune, and Takashi Shimura
FAVORITE ACTRESSES: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Anna Karina
BIOGRAPHY: I am an aspiring filmmaker. I've self-published a novel, titled SIMPLY EXISTING. It is available through Amazon.com and other online retailers. I hope to, one day, make into my first motion picture. My role model is the great Stanley Kubrick, whose films are true masterpieces of cinema. Even his most amateurish efforts are leagues better than most polished films by other filmmakers.
HONEYSPIDER Movie Review
I was fortunate enough to see the world premiere of this film in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Parts of the film were shot at the local, historic Gem Theatre, and it features prominently in the film. The Gem Theatre held the premiere, as a double feature with George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. As much as I adore Night of the Living Dead, I had more fun watching Honeyspider. It was fresh, highly ambitious, infectious, mysterious, and genuinely frightening at times. As an independent author and wannabe filmmaker myself, I'm always impressed at what independent filmmakers can accomplish with such a small budget. A lot of times, the smaller budget allows for an increase in creativity and devotion to a project, and Honeyspider is oozing around the edges with creativity and devoted participants.
The film begins on a slow zoom in on our beautiful leading lady. Mariah Brown plays Jackie Blue, a college student celebrating her 21st birthday on the most glorious day of the year, Halloween. She works at the local movie theatre, has eccentric friends (two of whom are appreciably dressed as Columbia and Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is ironic, as I wore a Rocky Horror shirt to the premiere!), has to deal with a creepy professor, and has parents who don't really seem to care. Frank Aard plays Professor Lynch, the aforementioned creepy professor, who may be more diabolical than the viewer can imagine. As Jackie goes about her evening, tarantulas begin showing up, tormenting her.
Setting the film in the late '80s was a very welcome touch, as I abhor a lot of modern technologies. If the characters were all playing on their current phones, tablets, etc. throughout the film, in twenty years, it would end up being a dated work, like plenty of other films through the ages. The filmmakers wisely set it in the '80s, thereby immediately stamping it as a curiosity piece, allowing the true characters and plot to unfold in a more universal manner. The slow pacing of the film is right up my alley. The best horror films build and build with suspense, thoroughly developing the characters, rather than relying on cheap scares. Take The Exorcist and The Shining, for example. They are based in reality, developing characters and a world which absorb the viewer. Honeyspider takes a page from that book, building a lead character and her world on a firm, believable foundation. Then, when the climax comes, it's that much more unsettling and terrifying.
Another facet of this film that I adored was the music and sound design. Some of the sound design felt as though the filmmakers overdosed on David Lynch films before working on this project. Given the fact that the creepy professor's name is Lynch, that doesn't seem like a far-fetched possibility. The music is even one of the first scares in the film. After the first scene, the lead character starts walking back to her dorm, calmly, quietly. Suddenly, the image freezes, the title card appears, and the music strikes a boisterous, sinister chord that jolts the viewer and chills him to the core.
What makes Honeyspider so smart, though, is the fact that it never takes itself too seriously. The slow pacing and high ambition never get in the way of the tremendous level of fun the film instills. This is most evident in the movie-within-the-movie. As stated before, Jackie works at a movie theatre. The theatre is showing a film titled, Sleepover Slaughterhouse Part III. This is where I really fell in love with the film. Honeyspider is shot in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The Sleepover Slaughterhouse Part III segments change to a standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I adore whenever a film uses varying aspect ratios to tell its story. Woodstock, Life of Pi, and The Grand Budapest Hotel all use this technique, and I love it. The opening credits of Sleepover Slaughterhouse Part III are a scream, not only because of the ridiculously campy faux cast and crew, but because they are fashioned after another famous, ridiculous Part III of a slasher series starring a certain hockey mask wearing individual. Sleepover Slaughterhouse Part III is every horror stereotype Honeyspider is not. This is how the filmmakers allowed themselves to be fun and crazy amidst the serious effort put forward in the rest of the film.
My only qualm with seeing the first screening of a film in theatres is that I have to way so much longer for a home video release. I hope this film makes its way onto the home video market quite soon because I want to show it to everyone I know. Honeyspider is a self-proclaimed cult film, and I hate the fact that I didn't "Join the Cult" on the film's website early enough, so I could have gotten a shirt. I am proud to be a part of the Honeyspider cult. I think it's time to retire the V for Vendetta symbol I've been drawing random places, for I have found a new symbol.
Les années 80 (1983)
Another Masterpiece by Chantal Akerman
THE EIGHTIES marks the turning point in Chantal Akerman's career. It stands as the end of her more experimental films of previous years and as the beginning of her more mainstream efforts of later years. The bulk of the film consists of auditions and rehearsals for a musical. In the final act, we get to see some segments of that musical. It's a wholly original and brilliant motion picture experience. Like most of Akerman's films, though, it's not for everyone. Her films are experiences for those who aren't into mainstream cinema. The songs in the film are catchy and unforgettable, and it's a special treat to see Akerman herself pop in a few times and give the performers some direction. The only downside of this film is that it's only available on an old VHS. The Criterion Collection has gotten a hold on her earlier films; maybe some day they'll get a hold of this one, as well. Another interesting aspect to this film is that it serves as a prelude to her next feature film, GOLDEN EIGHTIES or WINDOW SHOPPING.
Upon completing this film for the very first time, I had an experience I had never had before. I was breathless. For the first time, I can honestly say that a film took my breath away. The word "awesome" isn't awe-inspiring enough to describe how I felt. Every passing second of this nearly four hour long film brought new surprises and pulled my interest and attention closer and closer. I never wanted it to end. I'm sorry, but I just can't put into words exactly how I feel about this film. It's remarkable, groundbreaking, and the fastest four hours you're ever likely to spend watching a film. I watched it in one sitting, and it was over before I realized it.
Okay, let me pause for a moment, catch my breath, and explain a little bit about the film itself.
Originally, Abel Gance wanted to make a series of films about the French leader, but this is as far as he got. Therefore, the film mainly covers Napoleon's younger years, up to his first Italian campaign, just after his marriage to Josephine. What makes the film so groundbreaking is its many varied techniques, most of which are utilized today and taken for granted. For example, Gance used many different filming techniques, from hand-held cameras, to strapping the camera onto a horse, to hanging the camera on wires, to rapid-fire style editing, to overlapping images, and most famously, to the mind-blowing climax. Napoleon marks the first appearance of "widescreen". By setting three cameras side-by-side-by-side, Gance shot simultaneously, creating a 3.99:1 widescreen image. In original theatrical showings, the final 20 minutes of the film were projected on to three separate screens, expanding the image, and consuming the audience. As I said before, though, words can not do the film justice.
So, do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this film. It's not easy to come by, but go on ebay, half.com, Amazon.com, or somewhere and buy a VHS or laserdisc of this film. It's an essential film for any film collection, especially for the film buff. The word "masterpiece" is just to puny a word.
The Wizard of Oz (1925)
Give it Another Shot
If you have only seen the public domain version of this film, chances are you despise it. I know I did. The public domain version is slowed down to play at a normal speed. It has an annoying score and a bored woman reading the title cards to you. It is absolutely torture to watch.
Enter: Warner Bros' Three-Disc DVD of The Wizard of Oz (1939). This film appears on the third disc, digitally restored, with colored tints, and a brand new score. It's played at the correct silent film speed and is absolutely hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this version of the film. This film is much different from the story we all know. In this film, Dorothy is the rightful heir to the kingdom of Oz. However, King Krewl is out to make sure she doesn't find out. Larry Semon and Oliver Hardy are hilarious in their roles as farmhands who end up disguising themselves as a scarecrow and a tin woodsman.
Tenshi kinryoku (2000)
I'm not very big on anime, but I absolutely loved every second of this three-part serial.
Dealing with angels waging war against God, reincarnation in human form, and incest, ANGEL SANCTUARY handles every aspect with expertise and sensitivity, making it not only tolerable and acceptable, but making it seem normal. The animation was superb, and animation in anime typically bugs me to no living end. I didn't mind it here. It seemed to be not only a step above, but a whole flight of stairs above, other anime. The ending was perfect, tying up the story as presented but still leaving the viewer to figure out what happens next.
In conclusion, ANGEL SANCTUARY is an anime that I would gladly watch again and again.
The Adventures of Super Pup (1958)
Worst Pilot Generates Plenty of Laughs!
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERPUP. From the title, one can tell that this is going to be absolute rubbish. But, I watched nearly everything else contained in the SUPERMAN: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION DVD boxed set, so I figured I'd give it a shot. My verdict: BOMB out of five stars (or 1 out of 10 here). This is the absolute worst pilot episode I have ever seen in my life. This is a disgrace to the SUPERMAN legacy. However, it does make its viewer laugh quite heartily. I can't remember the last time I watched something so bad that it made me laugh so hard. One really has to see this in order to truly appreciate it. I can understand why it wasn't chosen to go on to become a full series. It had to have been intended for an audience of children, but I don't think that even children would have been amused. Well, I was amused. It was just that horrible. It really is quite comical to see people running around in big dog costumes trying to save the world. Anyway, I'll leave THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERPUP alone now. In fact, I might even go watch it again!!!!!
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
*** - Not as Good as I Had Hoped
I rate films on a scale of five stars. I gave it three. Here's what I say (my wife agrees, on the most point).
Here is how I describe it: It's a mixture of Cold Mountain, Closer, and Urban Cowboy, all of which are better (except Closer, of course). The film moved WAY too fast, the aggressiveness in the sex scenes was totally not needed (there is a difference between passion and aggression), and it relied way too much on sentimentality at the end. Everything was forced, nothing flowed very well. If the film had been paced slower, it would have been a fantastic film. I really wanted to love it, but unfortunately, I have to give it ***. If it wins Best Picture, I'm going to be very disappointed with the Academy.
"Everyone Pretty Much Acknowledges He's the Man"
This film brings me to tears every time I watch it. Jan Harlan's fantastic documentary about the great Stanley Kubrick is a true masterpiece. By giving insight into his past, films, family, and unfinished projects, Jan Harlan gives Kubrick fans a new look at a man who's greatness will never be equaled. The pacing of this documentary is wonderful, and ever second of it is informative and entertaining. Tom Cruise does a fabulous job of narrating it, as well. Jack Nicholson is the one who says it all; "Everyone pretty much acknowledges he's the man, and uh, I still think that underrates him." STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES is one of the greatest films ever made.