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Polyester (1981)
8/10
Gets funnier each time I see it!
3 March 2007
The first "commercial" film for John Waters is considerably more tame than his earlier works, but is still a lot of fun mostly in part to the Odorama gimmick, which pays excellent tribute to B-movie horror maven William Castle who pioneered the movie gimmick back in the 50's.

All of the usual suspects (Divine, Edith Massey, Mink Stole) provide their ever so dependable over the top performances, and heck - Tab Hunter ain't too hard on the eyes either :) He fits in well with the rest of the motley crew. Definitely worth checking out for all John Waters fans or anyone looking for something a bit out of the mainstream.
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Nashville (1975)
10/10
Definition of Greatness
6 January 2007
With the recent passing of one of my favourite directors, Robert Altman (1925-2006), I decided to hold my own little memoriam by watching his masterpiece film Nashville. The story offers an inside look behind the scenes of the 70's country music scene, as well as a subplot involving a political rally that helps maintain the overall continuity and ties together the many intertwining story lines. Considering my long standing love affair with classic country music, and with a star studded cast that wrote and performed their own songs, this is a film that definitely strikes a chord for me. It's an incredibly busy and fascinating film, with most of the scenes offering multiple conversations and overlapping dialogue, of which Altman became quite famous for. This helps keep it fresh over repeated viewings as you're guaranteed to see or hear something new you missed the last time. A delight to watch and highly recommended - go check it out for yourself!
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Pretty Woman (1990)
10/10
A winning romantic comedy.
2 June 2005
Garry Marshall may not be the most interesting director working in Hollywood, but his movies are definitely entertaining, and in that sense he is successful. Perhaps his two greatest films, which also are the ones he'll most likely be remembered for, are "Beaches" and "Pretty Woman". One of the most commercially successful (almost $500m worldwide!!) romantic comedies of all time,"Pretty Woman" is a charming modern day fairy tale that works largely in part to the phenomenal on-screen chemistry between its two stars – Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. In an Academy Award nominated performance as Vivian Ward, Julia Roberts truly shines. Her screen presence is nothing short of radiating, not to mention she's a highly skilled comedic actress. The film also owes a lot to its equally strong supporting performances from Jason Alexander, Laura San Giacomo and Hector Elizondo. All clichés aside, it's highly enjoyable and stands up superbly even after repeated viewings, a definite 10/10.
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10/10
Will continue to enthrall for generations to come!
7 April 2005
One of the most cherished fantasy films to ever grace the screen, "The Wizard of Oz" stands as a crowning achievement in 1930's film making. The special effects are highly impressive considering the limited technology available at the time, not to mention they are infinitely more endearing than most CGI effects present in today's films. The lavish sets, impeccable costume design, and glowing Technicolor help to create a convincing and enchanting Land of Oz. And though obviously filmed on a soundstage, the sets never seem confining; thanks largely in part to the meticulous backdrop paintings used to add depth to the foreground. The musical numbers are quite lively & catchy -- never slowing the pace of the film -- except perhaps for the Lion singing "King of the Jungle". Judy Garland truly shines in her portrayal of Dorothy, perfectly capturing the wide-eyed innocence of her character. She definitely deserved the special Oscar she was awarded for her performance. Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Frank Morgan as the Wizard also turn in praiseworthy characterizations. Definitely timeless in every sense of the word, this film is recommended to those of all ages – a 10/10!
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Sisters (1972)
8/10
Vintage DePalma
13 March 2005
Brian DePalma made his feature length horror debut with "Sisters" – a delightfully sinister film in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock. Unfortunately, DePalma has endured an unfair amount of backlash over the years from both critics and moviegoers a like who feel his work too closely resembles that of Hitchcock. One major difference between the two is where Hitchcock played on the imagination of the audience as a tool to generate shock and horror, DePalma gleefully pushes the envelope a step further in staging stylized yet graphically brutal murders that the camera does not shy from. There are two such sequences in "Sisters" and they both still stand today, some thirty-two years later, as extremely unsettling and highly effective scenes (the visibly fake blood notwithstanding). And while one cannot deny that the majority of DePalama's repertoire borrows liberally from Hitchcock, DePalma is still a master of the macabre in his own right (after all, imitation has been called the highest form of flattery). And despite what the critics say, DePalma IS credible in the eyes of his loyal legion of fans – based on his strong skill of affectionately paying homage, while at the same time invigorating the material with his own flair of unique visual imagery. And in this manner, "Sisters" does not disappoint. By combining his then experimental split screen technique with a brilliantly unsettling score by composer icon Bernard Herrmann, a "Rear Window" esquire story, and an eerie crackerjack sort of ending – DePalma successfully creates a truly thrilling viewing experience. The film also succeeds in not taking itself too seriously and is further buoyed by definitively camp performances from lead actresses Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt. The brief yet brutal violence and far-fetched plot may put off some viewers, however the film is highly recommended to genre enthusiasts and a must see for Brian DePalma die hards, an 8/10.
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Wild at Heart (1990)
10/10
Mesmerizing.
1 March 2005
Recipient of the prestigious Palme d'Or award at Cannes, David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" is an amazingly brilliant spectacle for the senses. Bold splashes of deep red, curiously staged musical numbers (Nicolas Cage does his own singing – and he's great!), and the continuous references to "The Wizard of Oz" help create a surreal and dreamlike texture to the narrative. The story in brief: Sailor and Lula (excellent performances from both Nicolas Cage & Laura Dern); two broken souls passionately in love, flee the vengeful wrath of Lula's mother Marietta, who for reasons of her own will stop at nothing to ensure the lovers are kept apart. Diane Ladd practically steals the show in her brave portrayal of Lula's psychopathic mother Marietta. Gut wrenchingly violent in places, hopelessly romantic in others; Lynch has crafted an adult fairy tale worthy of multiple viewings. Recommended to those who enjoy and appreciate abstract methods of film-making – a definite 10/10!
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The Funhouse (1981)
7/10
An overlooked horror gem.
26 February 2005
Arguably the second best directorial effort (after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) by Tobe Hooper – "The Funhouse" is an above average horror film that is fun, entertaining, and thrilling. A foursome out on a double date decide to spend the night camped out in the funhouse of a visiting carnival. Later on that evening they witness a murder and then chaos ensues. The awesome looking carnival set design creates a real sinister mood; and as a result, despite being considerably low budget, the movie has a certain edgy appeal. The atmosphere is accentuated by a fantastically thrilling score, which helps to elevate the level of suspense and enhance a few of the shocks. Notable make up effects by Rick Baker and a scenery chewing supporting performance by Sylvia Miles also contribute to the overall success of the film. While ultimately not a very scary movie, there are plenty of thrills and chills to satisfy and is definitely worth watching – a 7/10.
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Mask (1985)
9/10
A triumph in storytelling.
19 February 2005
Definitely one of the best films made in 1985; Peter Bogdanovich's "Mask" is an engrossing character study on the life of Rocky Dennis, and the somewhat tumultuous but always loving relationship he shared with his mom Rusty. Tragic, touching, inspirational – the movie succeeds in proving the importance of maintaining a positive attitude despite life's adversities. Bogdanovich masterfully draws stunning performances from all of the principle players. With several noteworthy scenes throughout the film where Cher shines, it's no surprise she won the best actress trophy at Cannes for her role as Rusty; effectively depicting a loving mother who is incredibly strong willed, yet also lost and vulnerable. No other actress would have made the portrayal so gut wrenchingly real – it's a shame she wasn't awarded the Oscar as well. Eric Stoltz, Sam Elliott, and Laura Dern are also magnificent. The incredible acting by everyone involved really makes this film such a rewarding and worthwhile experience, with the viewer being taken on an intimate journey through the lives of every day people facing extraordinary circumstances. If possible, see the original version with the Bob Seger soundtrack – the re-release DVD contains only the Springsteen soundtrack; which one would have expected a Director's Cut edition to have both choices. Having seen the original so many times, I opted to hunt down the now out-of-print original theatrical release by Image Entertainment for my collection. Not to be missed by anyone with an interest in true life stories. Highly recommended – a 9/10.
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8/10
Thought provoking and highly entertaining.
24 January 2005
It's no surprise that Ken Russell's ambitious psychosexual drama "Crimes of Passion" was not well received upon its initial release back in 1984. But to be fair, based on the heavy edits required to achieve an 'R' rating, it's hard to imagine the film having the same sort of effect as the un-rated director's cut. Explicitness is key to a film of this nature -- necessary for provoking audience reaction, but also for providing a raw layer of intensity to which the viewer can connect with. For example, the explicit dialogue in the bedroom confessional scene between Bobby & Amy Grady (equally fine performances from John Laughlin and Annie Potts) effectively captures the real disconnect present within so many relationships. On one hand there's a need and/or desire for sex as a means of fulfillment and expression of love, but on the other hand there are responsibilities associated with family life that may impede that desire, or in the case of the character of Amy Grady, a general lack of sexual desire is just part of her persona. Meanwhile this leaves her husband Bobby feeling discontented. The film asks then, just how important is sex? Is it an essential part of being happy? In stark contrast to the dynamic between Bobby & Amy Grady, is the character of China Blue/Joanna Crane -- played with absolute gusto by Kathleen Turner (giving one of the finest performances of her career). While her motives remain for the most part unclear, the character of China Blue appears to be using sex as a control mechanism. But what is it that she is trying to control? Through the use of some fairly explicit sex scenes it seems apparent that she enjoys the sex itself while also enjoying the anonymity and emotional disconnect involved with being a girl for hire. But is this feeling the result of her actual disdain for having that emotional connection, or is it a result of having been scarred by a past relationship? The power play argument is reinforced by seeing the Joanna Crane side of the character -- a highly successful undergarment designer with a cool car and a great apartment; someone who seems to have it all, yet wants to take her power one step further. This theory is drawn into question (of course!) when her path crosses with Bobby Grady; someone who seems to be able to offer her the entire package she secretly longs for. To complicate things further, there's the character of Rev. Peter Shayne (an Oscar worthy performance from Anthony Perkins); a man so distraught and shamed by his own inner demons that he seeks his own redemption through the course of offering to redeem China Blue. Throw in an enjoyably hypnotic yet cheesy & dated synthesizer score, and the usual striking visual imagery and religious allegory that Ken Russell is well known for, and the result is a thought provoking and highly entertaining film. Best recommended to those who don't mind being left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end, or who aren't easily offended – an 8/10, this film is destined to become a major classic and deserves repeated viewings.
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The Brood (1979)
9/10
Contains one of the most memorable scenes in film history!
23 January 2005
David Cronenberg's "The Brood" is both frightening and shocking. A tale of psychological horror guaranteed to make even the most jaded horror fan recoil in disbelief. The plot in a nutshell - In the care of an eccentric therapist (Oliver Reed), a woman (Samantha Eggar) undergoes an experimental form of anger management; while parallel to her treatment are a serious of bizarre and questionable murders. At the heart of the story is her husband (Art Hindle), who is in desperate search of the truth behind the strange goings on. The film is especially visually appealing; with perfectly framed scenes, cold & stark cinematography, and classy looking 70's costume design. The special effects though minimal throughout the film, are both amazing and disturbing. Cronenberg masterfully stages the murders in a thrillingly suspenseful and brutally violent manner, effectively balancing the terror between what is seen and not seen. It is questionable if filmmakers in today's world would be bold enough to make this film. The eerie musical score by (now veteran) Howard Shore creates an extra degree of tension to the unfolding events. The performances are all convincing, and definitely above par for a horror movie. With a shocking final twist; this movie is not to be missed, a highly recommended 9/10!
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8/10
They just don't make 'em like they used to.
10 December 2004
On the surface "Pink Flamingos" could easily be dismissed as a nostalgic piece of shock cinema. With an unparalleled level of notoriety -- based almost entirely on the final scene, the film has become a curiosity of sorts and a right of passage for those testing their own boundaries of decency. Beneath this seedy exterior however, lies a brilliant and biting satire of society's obsession with fame and the lengths one will go to in order to achieve it. This theme is relevant even more so today than it ever was. Just consider the over abundance of reality TV shows, for example 'Fear Factor' – a show boasting contestants eager and willing to outdo one another by performing a variety of dangerous stunts and eating unimaginable specimens – how is this any different than the characters in 'Pink Flamingos' attempting to outdo one another in an effort to claim the dubious title of the filthiest people alive? Society is (and has always been) captivated with sensationalism; from the Roman era and the coliseum packed with bloodthirsty audiences, to modern day and the likes of the 'Jerry Springer Show' (of which Babs Johnson and the Marbles would make excellent guests!!). The purpose of "Pink Flamingos" is to not only put a hilariously depraved spin on the fascination with celebrity but to also provide a cautionary tone to the dissolution of society itself. The performances are all top-notch; especially the ever-dependable and over-the-top Mink Stole, as heartless Connie Marble; and scene stealing Edith Massey, as Edie 'The Egg Lady'. It's amazing that the film is over thirty-years old because the message is just as fresh today as it was back in 1972.
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Halloween (1978)
10/10
A highly effective horror classic!
9 December 2004
Definitely one of the top ten best horror films ever made, John Carpenter's "Halloween" stands as a landmark in film-making. It has defined an entire genre (with some help from Bob Clark's lesser known "Black Christmas"), inspiring scores of imitations and cheap knock off's over the years -- none of which have been able to re capture the genius behind the original film. John Carpenter knows what scares audiences. By tapping into the common childhood fear of the boogeyman he created the character of Michael Myers -- an inhuman human completely devoid of sympathy or sense of conscience. AND, without any clear motive for his brutality he becomes all the more menacing. Considering the extremely low budget for the film –- a modest $300,000, it's clearly evident that Carpenter was/is a talented and visionary director (most evident in his earlier works). With his commanding use of cinemascope carefully framing each scene, and the stark yet atmospheric cinematography, he creates a brilliant and thrilling visual experience. Add in the unnerving score (brilliantly composed by Carpenter himself) and believable performances from Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis, and Donald Pleasance –- and the result is a genuine horror classic. Not to be missed, a definite 10/10! **Halloween was originally planned as a loosely based sequel to Black Christmas. If you haven't seen it, check it out -- it's recommended viewing to those interested in early 70's slasher flicks. OR, anyone in general looking for a good fright**
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Alien³ (1992)
9/10
An under appreciated masterpiece.
28 November 2004
Though on the surface grim and depressing, "Alien 3" is without doubt excellently crafted and highly entertaining - especially considering the studio misrepresented Fincher's original vision by heavily editing the film. Due to the unsurpassed level of action in the previous film, the more subdued nature of "Alien 3" is only a natural progression in the overall story. Ellen Ripley has been at war with the alien for so long that it has come to define her entire existence; what could possibly be more bleak than that? Sigourney Weaver takes her characterization of Ripley to an entirely new dimension - capturing the emotional despair of a woman who has knowingly lost her soul. Also there is significant religious undertones to the film, dealing most notably with the themes of redemption and damnation. David Fincher, in his directorial debut, demonstrates his talent for creating startling imagery; something that audiences have now come to expect from the director. The colour palette of the film is simply beautiful, with deep brown hues on prominent display. The special effects, though some appear surprisingly dated (early CGI), still look cool. Highly recommended for lovers of the genre, a 9/10.
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9/10
Definitely not for the faint of heart!
26 November 2004
Possibly more depraved than "Pink Flamingos", if that's possible, "Desperate Living" is a paradox for the senses. Although tasteless and shocking, it is ultimately warm hearted and uproariously hilarious. Those familiar with John's style know that these contradictions work splendidly within the context that he intended them to. Never mean spirited, the outrageousness lends itself to an overall statement on the callousness of society itself. Mink Stole is simply incredible as Peggy Gravel. Her ranting and raving throughout the film is side splitting. Special mention to Jean Hill as Grizelda, Liz Renay as Muffy, and of course the ever demure (ha!) Edith Massey as Queen Carlotta. Leave all inhibitions at the door and enjoy this twisted fairy tale roller coaster ride of a good time! A definite 9/10!!
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8/10
A classic horror film!
26 November 2004
Despite being close to thirty years old, Wes Craven's "The Hills Have Eyes" maintains a distinct raw intensity - far surpassing the level of terror seen in horror films today. The plot in a nutshell; a family on vacation ventures from the main road, ends up stranded in the desert, and falls prey to a malevolent clan of inbred cannibals. Though the story idea may be far from original - it is the atmosphere, directorial style, and acting that raise the overall credibility of the film. The low budget and claustrophobic desert setting creates a sense of dread permeating throughout the entire film; while the grainy look of the print adds a sense of realism to the unfolding events. With a brisk running time of only 89 minutes the film doesn't waste a moment in setting the mood - then when all hell breaks loose it is unrelenting until the final scene. The actors portraying the Carter family bring sufficient emotional range to their characterizations, making it clearly evident that this a normal family being tested beyond the boundaries of civilized nature. It is also worth noting the performances by the actors who play Pluto and Mars (two of the baddies) - these characters are portrayed as both sadistic and devoid of any sympathy. Although the DVD print is grainy (as mentioned above), it is THE definitive version of the film and is thousands of times an improvement over the quality of the video release; quite amazing for a low budget film of this nature. Grim, violent, and symbolic; it is an amazing piece of 70's exploitation horror. "The Hills Have Eyes" is a classic in every sense of the word, and receives an 8/10.
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Tourist Trap (1979)
8/10
Watch it with the lights out if you dare!
9 November 2004
Although widely under appreciated, "Tourist Trap" is still a notable and worthwhile entry into the horror genre. The first film directed by David Schmoeller (of Puppet Master fame). Pino Donaggio's score is nothing short of amazing; elevating the film to a whole other level in terms of both tension and atmosphere. Connors delivers a deliciously over the top performance as Mr. Slausen; the other actors are all competent considering that this is a low budget flick. For being close to 26 years old, the film has stood up extremely well - a creepy back woods setting, decent effects, and few hidden surprises in the script; it's worthwhile viewing for any horror enthusiast. A definite cult classic! My grade 8/10.
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