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Did I say I'm into music? Guess so but here are some of the demi-gods that light up my...path (no way I'm making a Debby Boone pun!): Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, Martin Phillips, Elliott Smith, Andy Partridge, Arthur Lee, Syd Barrett, Paul Westerberg, Dave Faulkner, Bob Mould, Grant Hart, Wayne Coyne, Alex Chilton, Luke Haines, Jeff Mangum, Gruff Rhys and literally a thousand others.
Oh happy day when music and cinema come together as in gems like This is Spinal Tap, High Fidelity, 24Hour Party People, Fearless Freaks or Dig!
O Crime do Padre Amaro (2005)
Why oh Why
As you might not know Eça de Queiroz is one of Portugal's most rightfully celebrated writers. He was witty, he spared no one in his critics and must now be rolling in his tomb. And that's not due to this movie being bad, which it is, but as a result of the treatment dispensed to one of his masterworks "O Crime do Padre Amaro". It's treated like cheap, throwaway trash.
When it was publicized that this was to be a "modern and urban" take on the book I feared for the worst, normally modern in these contexts means taking the liberty to take the p**** when doing an adaptation, to half arse it in the shoddiest possible way. And so the moral and social dilemma of a priest having a secret,forbidden affair are substituted by extra-long passages of people dealing drugs and singing hip-hop for no particular or pertinent reason to the plot. It's just there like it might very well not have been.
Oh and there's lots of sex so you can at least be counting on that when you put this on. Remember how every movie in the 80's, no matter the genre or the tone always found a way to sneak in some nudity? If it was a thriller and they had no need for it they simply found a way that when they were capturing a felon he "happened" to be in bed with a woman that would prance around screaming (naked of course) when the cops barged in. Ahem, gratuitous is the word I think. Not that there's anything wrong with nude scenes but here they make the creators of this movie look desperate simply because there's nothing else to the movie, it's totally devoid of what do you call it dramatic content.
A fascinating study on mental illness above all else, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" offers a disturbingly piercing and complex glimpse into one's mind and of what exactly constitutes a psychological disease. Everyone knows about Nicholson's charismatic turn as McMurphy, the supposedly sanest person in the asylum but there's so much more here if one digs beneath the surface and straight into the secondary characters. Where Brad Dourif excels as the impossibly sensitive and introverted youth unable to take a stand on anything. Besides him we get all sorts of disturbed conditions ranging from people who frequent the asylum as refuge from their lives to others who are utterly unable to deal with the world in the most basic of ways. So while taking this as the saga of one man while he struggles to remain sane is affecting enough, couple it with the myriad shades of humanity that surround and interact with him and the end result is a thoroughly envolving experience.
Beautifully shot and packed with a wickedly grim sense of humour this is one of the finest westerns this side of John Huston. Starring a stony faced don't-laugh-don't-blink Clint Eastwood and a crafty, weasely Eli Wallach it covers most of the genre's typical themes, albeit in a more gonzoid fashion, ranging from public hangings to duels and back.
Sergio Leone goes to great lengths to create just the right atmosphere, filming even the smallest rolling tumbleweed if it improved on his vision. Consequently this an epic of epic length, which is bound to put some people off.
However, the huge amounts of iconic moments, the sweeping Morricone soundtrack and the sheer wide-eyed sense of adventure it oozes turns it into a great slice of cinema.
I'm Alan Partridge (1997)
Partridge Strikes Again
It's impossible to like the foul beast known as Alan Partridge, yet he's one of the funniest dudes around. The comedy he provides is as painful to watch as Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm", the difference being that Alan NEVER means well, hasn't got a good heart nor tries to help anybody. He doesn't spend a second considering the well-being of anybody and is totally oblivious of what goes around him. He fails in pretty much everything he puts his hands on and deceives all those who approach him, all this while seeing himself as the crown prince of mankind. Yes, he's hopelessly clueless and remorselessly mean but also gives the vibe of not even being aware of what he's doing, so that bit of childish innocent stupidity is what eventually turns him into the quintessential involuntary buffoon.
OK-ish End of adolescence tale
I didn't see this one as complete waste of time and some of it was OK, but also lots of it got on my nerves.
First for the good in it: Mickey Rourke gets his career highlight in here, he's also the only character that's developed to some point but that besides the issue. Rourke is the Casanova of the gang but he's also immersed in fear of not seeing the next day, with the impending pressure of having to pay off some gambling debts to a local mob. Still he might be physically near to crying but he tries his utmost not to let down his cocky façade in front of his friends. Really, I can perfectly see why people would see him as a promising actor at his point in time. The soundtrack is OK and some of the banter inside the title's diner does show some chemistry.
And now the bad: I know this is from 82 and meant to mirror the 50's but boy is this film misogynistic. Their objectifying chats are one thing but that football test in order to get married just seems to come out of the stone age, when that girl's mom calls on the phone to check out how her daughter's doing on the test as if it's perfectly normal I kinda zoned out from it. Kevin Bacon's character is supposed to be somewhat crazy but we have no idea why. Is he schizophrenic? Is he depressed and trying to get some attention? We have no idea and his craziness seems to be there only for the sake of some "wacky" moments. Daniel Stern plays a music geek, high on trivia and low on communicating with his wife. As a music brainiac myself I felt disgusted by the way he carries himself and by the whiny, childish tantrum he gets when a record is not in place, literally driving his wife t tears. Geez, I know it's supposed to vent his frustration about not having anything to talk about with his spouse but no one would be that insensitive (telling her not to order the records herself-maybe, making her cry-don't think so). It's the most denigrating music fan image I've ever seen on film.
In the end we're left with a handful of amusing moments marred by lack of character development (which is odd considering this is exactly the right kind of movie for that)and a dated feel to it all in more ways than one.
One Room: One Fine Movie
This one manages to milk a potentially limiting situation (bedridden man trapped in crazed fan's house) by getting all sorts of things to happen in such a small set from writing to exercising to book burning to ankle mauling to fighting, they fit an entire film in a cubicle and while it gets claustrophobic it doesn't feel tiresome. Both actors help by putting on quite intense performances with plenty of subtle nuances(Caan struggling and failing at not showing outside signs of the terror Kathy's presence provokes on him). Sad to see poor old Richard Farnsworth shot in such a way but it put across well the point of Kathy going to walk that extra mile to keep Caan by her side. Plus it gets me to think how some writers have, unlike here, metaphorically their creativity hostage to someone else's (public, editors, whoever's) desires and aspirations.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
I do like horror and gore has never been a problem (Carpenter's "The Thing" is among my favorite films) but I also come into a theater expecting to be entertained. "The Hills Have Eyes" provide NO entertainment of any sort. It's a movie that apparently, and firmly at that, believes that showing gratuitous violence and scenes straight out of the lowest snuff movie you can find (being burned at the stake anyone?)is somehow going to make it worth our while. In reality it just makes the filmmakers(?)look desperate for not having anything solid in which to cling this lame remake. I don't go into this sort of films expecting very literate plots but I do go under the assumption it at least will have one, not a car-breaks-down-mutants-attack doodle as a screenplay, I don't expect to encounter something written by chimps and that's what this one seems to be.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Heady Sci Fi
First thing that surprised me was the year this was made-1956, I mean this was the year of Cecil B.de Mille's "10 Commandments"(and how perversely funny it would be that Leslie Nielsen had played a role in the Christian epic)and an adequate year for most films except for such a far reaching sci-fi trailblazer.
Second thing that surprised me was that the movie's leading man is none other than Leslie"Frank Drebin"Nielsen in his usual deadpan delivery, only this time not going for the laughs, playing it all very seriously(even if I never can take him in a totally serious way).
Third thing that surprised me was that for a genre so often derided as lesser here was an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Tempest" that went beyond the surface and into the mind and what its powers can unleash.
Take it as you will "The Forbidden Planet" is a movie that has stood the test of time and presents a good amount of entertainment,some humour, captivating characters and a light dose of intellect thrown in just to make things more interesting.
The King of Queens (1998)
I can't help but be completely annoyed by this sitcom. It's like they didn't even bothered trying ro write good comedy, just rehash third rate jokes and hope it sticks. The worst of all this is that it's all so damm uninteresting and lacking in every way.
To make things worse leading man Kevin James has a permanent "I'm so funny" smug grin on his face that would be tolerable if only he once delivered in the comedy department, which he doesn't, he just lies there doing nothing like a big unfunny baby. Which takes me to the relationship between the Heffernan's- easily the most insincere and poor representation of a married couple on any TV show, really headache inducingly obnoxious Remini spends the whole show as if it where a violent chore to even be around her own husband. Jerry Stiller yanking the few laughs on the show is doing a 100% repetition of his role as Frank Costanza in Seinfeld only this time his hints mostly tread on water due to the inability of the central duo in recognizing a joke even if it flew by them. The episodes just drift along in a stream of nothingness, their jobs add nothing and their interaction is even worse.
This is not even a waste of talent, there is no talent here, this is a laughless creative desert.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
This movie was so savagely criticized that I desperately wanted to like it, to prove everybody wrong and to claim that Eddie Murphy was back with a bang and with his funny bones throbbing like they never had. I wanted all that badly...until I got to see the movie and got sourly disappointed at such flagrant waste of resources.
Not that E.Murphy's name is a guarantee of quality cinema anymore but at least he used to have some dignity, usually top notch character actor Joe Pantoliano(just watch"Memento") also sets something close to a career low here. The visual side of the film is occasionally spectacular but nothing can overcome the increasingly frequent hollywoodian syndrome of having scripts and dialogs that look as if they were written by drunken apes, I mean zero intelligence, zero subtlety, zero coherence all amounting to one gigantic mess of half baked concepts that never gel into anything resembling a decent film.
To top it off for an action comedy the action part is feeble at best and the least said about the jokes the better(oh the endless horny robot jokes). It flopped for a reason, nobody in a right frame of mind would want to repeat his dose of Pluto Nash.