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A Truly Gripping Thriller
Maybe it's just me but I went into this film with zero expectations and came out absolutely raving about what I just saw. Now, I will tell you, this movie packs a lot of layers and there is a lot going on throughout the entirety of the film. However, I absolutely loved it. With quips of Tarantino, Ocean's 11, The Score, The Sting, Ozark and Place Beyond the Pines, we get six movies in one. With some comedic elements sprinkled throughout and some absolutely incredible camera work, we get Widows.
Now, I can see why a lot of people won't like this movie. It's just sort of a polarizing film. I feel like people either hate it or they love it. Judging by my movie tastes and what I recommend to friends that they always come back to tell me they hated, I'm not expecting many of them to like it.
But, just know this. From the opening scenes, Widows will grip you and have you sitting on the edge of your seat. With deliberate sound and camera techniques connected to gun violence throughout the film, McQueen shows politics, corruption, racism, nepotism, poverty, struggle, gender inequalities, stereotypes, a city in turmoil and so much more in this film.
Go see this movie!
A Star Is Born (2018)
The MUSIC Lives On
Real review: 7.5/10
From the onset of A Star is Born, I knew I was in for quite a ride. That opening scene was AMAZING. Bringing an incredible blues heavy guitar riff to the silver screen in surround sound with the crowd going wild was absolutely what I needed to see. I felt like I was there and Bradley Cooper was beyond impressive.
I thought A Star is Born was a great movie. Slow at parts? Yes. Some cheesy lines? Absolutely. But, I was so entranced by Bradley Cooper's character and how believable he was, that I sort of forgot I was watching a movie at times. He was that good in this. And, Lady Gaga was pretty damn good too for her first ever acting role. And her singing? It's out of this world. Her voice gave me chills throughout the movie, especially the song she sings at the end of the film.
The movie had a lot of hype but overall, I thought it was a great movie. It was an experience. From the incredible music to the love story to the battles with fame, self-identity and addiction, Bradley Cooper nailed his directorial debut and I'm excited to see him do another one. Worth a viewing in the theater 100%!
Truly Visceral and Disturbing
I re-watched Scream last night with my girlfriend for the first time in a couple of years. She had just watched Scary Movie the night before with her roommate and had a scary movie in mind for the both of us to watch together. Before viewing, I could tell that she didn't remember much about Scream and the fact that it is actually a scary slasher movie. I couldn't wait to see her reactions.
From the onset, the opening scene with Drew Barrymore is still one of the best in horror/film history. It's absolutely terrifying. The music? 10/10. The cinematography? 10/10. Writing? 10/10. Suspense? 10/10. Hitchcock elements? 10/10. It hits on all cylinders and then some. When Barrymore's character is attempting to scream for her parents in front of a tilted, uneasy camera, with the killer right behind her...that is horror movie magic right there. Now, don't get me wrong. Scream is a brutal film. That opening scene could emotionally scar you, especially if you are a young woman in this world.
That said, Scream plays on itself and other horror movies throughout, and plays the exact same game that the killer plays with his victims, with its audience. Horror movie tropes are a real thing, just like action movie tropes and romantic comedy tropes and suspenseful film tropes and cliches. The list goes on and on. I always find it funny when people think horror movies are the only films with these scores and scenes that can be predictable for the audience. How about Tom Cruise hanging out of a car door 565 feet in the air with machine guns firing at him, a beautiful woman by his side, and the fate of the world in his hands?
Yeah...I think you get my point.
What Scream does so well is relish in its self-awareness and then some. As I watched the movie a second and third time, it's so blatantly obvious who the killer is, it's hard to believe I ever thought that was the point of the film in the first place. Yet, there is still a twist. Just like in Pyscho, we know something is off about Norman Bates, yet we don't know the entirety of it. We're just scratching the surface.
Now, does Scream have its faults? Sure. I'm not really going to dwell on them. From the tilted camera and quick zooms used in the film, I felt uneasy and slightly off throughout. Wes Craven has a way of making you feel uncomfortable just like he did with Freddy. The killer is a bit clumsy...but when you watch Nightmare on Elm Street, so was Freddy. He knows how to ride that line so well. The last few scenes are also pretty disturbing to watch, but with the music and the strange acting and horror movie games and cliches, it's just bloody fun.
So many movies copied Scream that it can be hard to take it serious at times. When I tried to explain to my girlfriend that they are self-aware in their horror movie cliches and rules, she didn't seem to agree with me. "It's just being a horror movie." Which is true. It is.
But, it's also playing on itself and so many that came before it, and now, so many that came after it. I can't imagine reading the script for Scream (originally titled Scary Movie). It is seal-vacuum tight. I am a firm believer in catching the viewer from the opening scene and with no cuts for the first 10-15 minutes, I was on the edge of my frickin' seat! Isn't that the joy in seeing a movie in the first place? I can't imagine seeing this in theaters and I hope it is re-released soon. It would be worth a visit to see on the big screen.
Liar Liar (1997)
Jim Carrey The GOAT
In my opinion, this is one of the funniest movies of all-time. Period.
Jim Carrey literally carries the entire film, even though there are some great little performances scattered throughout as well. Jerry is perfect.
Carrey does such a magnificent job with his humor, that you sometimes forget he is acting here. His love for Max is apparent, as are his horrible tendencies as a human being. By the end of the film, you are rooting for him the entire way.
It's also one of the most quotable comedies ever. "Yeah, in your bra!" The list goes on and on and on but do yourself a favor and grab a cold six pack and sit back and have some fun with this one. You'll be in tears laughing soon enough.
This One Didn't Quite Catch Me
Where do I begin?
First and foremost, Three Billboards is a fiery movie. Frances McDormand is, as always, superb. But, can a superb actress fix a sub-par film? As the movie begins, I really enjoyed it. It seemed like it was really heading somewhere. However, as time wore on, my opinions changed and I had no idea what this movie was attempting to say. It was also very difficult to feel any connection with McDormand's character and her daughter or son. One flashback the entire film? Strange choice.
Second, there are some crazy weird scenes in this that don't quite hold up, or make any sense at all. A cop throwing a man out of a window, punching him in the face in the middle of the street and no one (not even the officer assigned to take over the Sheriff's duties) does a damn thing? I get it. It's trying to make a point. And, we've seen some crazy things in our days and times way before our generation. But, this one just didn't do it for me. I thought it was forced. Shocking. Then, things got even weirder after this.
Rockwell is fired by the new Sheriff in town for his behavior. Due to the beloved Sheriff's suicide and his note to Rockwell about being a 'good man' (are we sure about this?) deep down, he needs to get his act together. As a flaming mazel tov cocktail nearly blows him to pieces, Rockwell runs through the flames (symbolism?) and is suddenly this changed man. Maybe, but again, it didn't seem very realistic to me. When the film ends, I remember sitting at my girlfriend's house and saying aloud "what in the *expletive*?"
I'm all for indie films. I'm all for different ways to tell stories. I'm all for innovation and experimentation. But, is this film really as good as so many critics said it was? Art is subjective and I want to make my own movies some day, but I just don't see it. Maybe that's the beauty of it but I'm sticking with my 5/10 and telling you to skip this one. It's just not a very good movie.
Lady Bird (2017)
Hilarious, and sometimes sad, observation on life from a high schooler's POV
Lady Bird, like many movies on high school kids, awkward relationships and coming-of-age tales, is a hilarious look on life and the wonders of the world that we all face. Female-driven and downright funny, Lady Bird stands alone because it does not try to own the idea that the film is solely about women and women only.
Sure, there are mother/daughter scenes that my girlfriend related with more but the dialogue is so well written, that it forced me to transport back to my own high school days and conversations with my mother during that time period of my life.
The film does an amazing job of presenting the world from Christine's, aka Lady Bird's point-of-view, while showing the real memories, hardships, lessons and choices made during these strange years of our lives.
I had a friend in high school whose mother might as well have played Lady Bird's in the film. The passive-aggressiveness and hard love from Christine's mom was so believable that it often made me cringe. It was almost too real.
As you watch the film unfold, you'll say to yourself "I've seen this story before" and you probably have. But there is still something different about Lady Bird with its hilariously written raunchy language, Lady Bird's amazing friend Julie, and the way in which it weaves in and out of Lady Bird's life and those surrounding her. There is a certain scene where Lady Bird's mother talks about her dad's battle with depression for years and Lady Bird telling her that no one ever informed her about it. Later in the film, Lady Bird's mom scolds her for not sharing more information with their family, proving the fact that there are moments in both the adult and children's world that do not always cross paths.
Since Ronan is so strong in the lead role, we often forget that she is just a teenager that hasn't been through some of the really hard things in life just yet. She hasn't gotten too drunk, lost a job, kept a family and children happy, found or lost out on success, paid bills, been late on a credit card payment, had a really rough day at work, and so much more.
Lady Bird's mom, however, has been. She may come off as scary to others, but in all fairness, her own mother was an abusive drunk, and she's been through a little more in life then many of these high school kids. It's not always as easy as some people make it out to be. I think we also see that Lady Bird can be a little intimidating as well with her confidence and free-spirit attitude roaming the halls of school and her home. She is kind and loving, yet up front and blunt.
In my family, my brother is a spitting image of my dad in every way. They bash heads the most because my dad sees his own flaws in my brother, and I believe that's hard for any parent to accept. As we grow older, we find things about our parents we genuinely do not like as well, but we know they are just humans like the rest of us. They make mistakes, they have flaws and often, many of these flaws are passed down generation-to-generation. We also start to see our own flaws and I think Lady Bird absolutely nails this concepts and creates some genuinely funny, sad, and real-life scenes that hit home with the audience and make us fall in love with the characters.
At one point in the film, Christine says that she just wants to live through something, and what she fails to realize, is that she is living through something. We all are. She's living through lots of things. It just never feels that way when you're the one living through it.
This movie is a classic
I remember the first time I saw RoboCop sitting on the shelves of a video store (remember those?) in Cleveland, OH back in 1996. For whatever reason, the cover always caught my eye. Was I afraid of the robotic police officer on the front cover or did a movie about a robotic police officer just sound pretty amazing? I think it was a little bit of both.
After watching RoboCop for the first time since seeing it in a store 21 years ago, I couldn't believe my eyes. From the very beginning of the film, we are brought into a cinematic universe of parody, comedy, violence, drama, action and so much more. From the spot on newscasts where war and violence are mixed in with feel good stories and cheesy dialogue, I knew from the onset that RoboCop was going to exceed my expectations.
This movie is violent, folks. It is done for effect but the brilliance in RoboCop is that the film actually shows what powerful and technologically advanced weaponry does to a human body. It will make you cringe, but while these companies and organizations fight for ultimate military dominance, we see first-hand just what these weapons are doing to the people of this world.
It is a pretty amazing feat. For starters, RoboCop is a direct reflection on society in the 1980s. Watching it in 2017, it didn't feel very off from life today with its portrayal of excess, greed, violence, militarization, fear, politics, corporations, money and more. RoboCop is very much a futuristic Western with its "There's a new Sheriff in town" feel and it's focus on putting the bad guys behind bars. Yet, just like many of those Westerns, we realize there is always a bigger motive at hand, and in RoboCop, it is all about the money. Isn't it always?
Lost lives throughout the film are calculated as company costs and financial losses, instead of as emotionally tragic events. The corporate dollar is king in RoboCop and at OCP, where employees fight for recognition, control and power, while placing a hold on American society at-large. This mega corporation isn't far off from a slew of companies running our world today and the film quickly turned pretty scary when I started to think about it that way.
From a character standpoint, there are some true gems in this film. Clarence Boddicker and his goons are some of the best around and the real scenes of their violence and mayhem are actually pretty terrifying. RoboCop does an amazing job of portraying the parody of American society and corporate greed, but creating real scenes of violence and mayhem that are downright terrifying.
Where OCP gears up for their war on crime (sound familiar?), we are left wondering who the bad guys really are in this film. It all seems pretty blurry to me. Overall, RoboCop is a smart, fast-paced, violent, parodic observation on American society and is an all-time classic in my book. I almost didn't take the time to write this review out today, but in all honesty, I never miss a game!
Home for the Holidays (1995)
I didn't realize how sad this movie was or how many deep layers it has
As a child, I grew up watching this movie with my mom every holiday season. Last night, I decided to watch this movie alone and really analyze it a bit more as an adult. Whoa. This is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen in my life.
I've read a lot of reviews ripping the dialogue and the strangeness of the film, but I really think a lot of it is done for pure effect here. Jodie Foster wants the viewer to think back on all of the crazy things that they've seen in their families throughout the holidays and beyond. In this film, we start to see how hard life really is. Growing old, losing your mind, worrying about small things, washing cars to keep busy, smoking cigarettes, talking bad about other family members, dreading time spent together, mustering up the strength to travel and be on your A game for your family and so on.
What we also see is that although our parents create us, help guide us and (if we're lucky) help us in times of need, it is ultimately our lives and fears we must get through to live the lives that we want to live. It is not on our parents to do this for us and in Claudia's family, we start to see just how people define themselves in a group/family setting, compared to their own self-identities.
Who are we without our siblings? Our parents? Old memories? Fears? Stereotypes? Alcohol? Family gatherings and embarrassments? Defined family roles? Great times? Bad times?
I think Jodie Foster does a fantastic job of showing us that we aren't who we think we are without these things. We aren't even close. But, it doesn't always mean it is a good thing, and it doesn't always mean it is a bad thing. It just is.
Now, like I said, this is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. First, I don't think I ever watched the last 30 minutes with my mom because I didn't remember a specific gut-wrenching scene after the holiday meal. It broke my heart. I also didn't remember the ending to this film. It's cinema magic.
Life is a journey and we often don't recognize those people (us) from the past. When I look at photos and videos from old home movies, I am overcome with a sense of sadness. It is hard to explain but I can barely get through them. It is almost like the person I see in those videos and pictures is not me. It is someone entirely different and Home for the Holidays hits on this theme throughout the film. We often forget the obstacles, and hard times and good times, our broken down cars, ex-girlfriends, boyfriends, money troubles, family roles, high school friends, pets, memories and more. Yet, we often remember them too. This always confuses things.
Especially the scene with Claudia and her ex-boyfriend in their house. It's sad, really. But we've all had that someone we tried to avoid from back home but had to face. As sad as her ex-boyfriend was to watch and listen to, Claudia hasn't exactly been living the most glamorous life either. She just handles it differently and Jodie Foster does an amazing job of showing the viewer this, without specifically telling us.
Tommy handles his insecurities by lashing out against others and causing them pain. It may seem like innocence and jokes, but deep down, I don't think Tommy ever feels at home when he's home. He loves his parents in a strange way that we all do, but he's started another journey with his lover Jack, and that's just the way life goes. When Claudia's journey ends this particular Thanksgiving, we see that her new journey is actually just beginning. Give this one a watch if you're on the fence. It has a lot more layers to it than first meets the eye.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It deserves its rightful place in horror movie history
Aside from its clunky ending, A Nightmare on Elm Street is my favorite horror movie of all-time. For starters, Freddy Krueger does not discriminate, and he will haunt your dreams no matter your age. Aside from Alien's "In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream," "Don't Fall Asleep" is the second-best horror movie catchphrase of all- time.
After Friday the 13th and the 80s slashers took the scene, Wes Craven came through with a whole different evil villain in Freddy Krueger, a former child murderer that kills kids in their dreams. I'm sorry, what?
He got the idea from a string of stories ran in the LA Times about a young child that had survived the field killings in Cambodia. After a slew of nightmares, the young boy was found dead in his house after dying in his sleep. The police found a coffee pot in his closet with an extension cord running up under his bed and plugged into the wall. He obviously didn't want to fall asleep either.
Craven ran with the story and created the most heinous, vile monster in horror movie history. With some Hitchcock elements spun throughout, A Nightmare on Elm Street is a fantastic ride from start to (almost) finish. The mood, music, atmosphere, shots, effects, blood, kills, and nightmares are all perfect. There are a few scenes that you watch and say "Wow, that's a classic cinema shot," or "Holy hell that's terrifying". Some scenes make you feel like Freddy Krueger is actually out there waiting for you to fall asleep tonight.
Heather Langenkamp, aka Nancy Thompson in the film, works perfectly here. All of the characters do really. There are some missed opportunities, sure, but it all works out and there are times throughout the film where you feel trapped inside a boiler room, a terrible nightmare or a dangerous place and think, "Is this really happening to me?" The ending is a bit clunky and takes the fear away a bit, but I also think that is part of the point. As Nancy fights back and becomes the ultimate bad-a#$, Krueger becomes less and less of a threat.
Facing your fears is difficult, but Nancy shows us the courage and tenacity it takes to destroy an evil entity like Freddy Krueger. Or, does she?
If you're into this humor, then watch immediately
If you're into spoofs, satires and mockumentaries that are funny as he*#, then it's time you threw on Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping. Anyone I've texted about this movie has replied with the same answer of, "It looked so stupid." But, that my friends, is why this movie is so smart. It mocks real life events in the music industry, pop culture, celebrity culture, the news and so much more. It's perfect.
Just like Naked Gun, Airplane, and Scary Movie, Pop Star is the perfect mix of satire, realism and just flat out comedy. Of course it's dumb. So are humans and the real world we exist in. That's why it works so well.
The best (my favorite) stand-up comics are always the ones commenting on the real world and how they fit into it. Andy Samberg knows how to create a character that seems completely absurd, but in reality, isn't that far off from reality at all. It's amazing to see and this movie is laugh out loud, cry tears type funny. Embrace it and let the good times roll.
I saw Mother! in theaters by myself on a Monday night after work. I had read some reviews and hot takes and decided to go see it for myself. First, let's just get this out of the way. Mother! is completely insane. Extreme close-ups, claustrophobia, awkward scenes, intense acting, violence, greed, narcissism and more fill the film and you're not quite sure how to react.
Second, Michelle Pfeiffer is an amazing actress. She is truly deplorable as a person in this film and it is perfect. She'll drive you absolutely crazy and you'll wonder why Lawrence's character doesn't just sock her in the face. But, I think that is part of the point here. That said, I can see why many people despised this film. It's in-your-face, strange, intense, vile and so much more.
Watching it alone was a great choice because I didn't have to answer to anyone or give my response to the film based on their reaction to it. We've all been guilty of that before, I think.
Overall, I liked the movie. It will offend you. It will make you squirm. It will make you ask what the heck is going on. It will make you question things. It will tick you off. But, plenty of events in my life have created these reactions and I've either learned from them, questioned them, moved on, or never let certain experiences go. That's a little how I feel about Mother! You'll probably never forget when you saw it (good or bad), how it made you feel, and the anger, frustration or confusion it invoked. Or, you'll just completely forget about it forever and wish you had never seen it. Enjoy! :)
The Dark Knight (2008)
I'll never forget where I was
The first time I saw The Dark Knight in theaters, I was the DD for a group of drunk friends back in my high school days. To say my first experience with this film was underwhelming is quite the understatement. I left the packed theater feeling disappointed and annoyed with my buzzed peers.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to see all three Batman movies in a row the night of The Dark Knight Rises premiere. It was my second day working in my first job out of college, and a bunch of us decided to buy tickets together. Because the theater was so packed, I was located in the dead center of the front row. I hadn't sat that close in years. When Batman Begins ended with the Joker card being revealed, I knew I was finally in to experience this movie the right way. An hour passed between films, and we all took our seats for the beginning of The Dark Knight.
From the onset, I was absolutely HOOKED. Christopher Nolan decided to take a page out of Michael Mann's book and created an atmosphere in The Dark Knight that wasn't merely a superhero movie, but a crime thriller with intricate characters, decisions, emotions, action scenes and struggles. Does this movie has some flaws? Absolutely. Humans made it so that is always to be assumed. However, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives (always thought the Joker ship scene was strange and Gyllenhaal as Rachel was meh) and we were left with an absolutely stunning peace of cinema.
It's hard not to watch this movie every time it comes on TNT (they love this movie and Saving Private Ryan) because it just has this ability to completely draw you in. Watching Heath Ledger take on the Joker from the front row was an experience I will truly never forget. I guess because I never really grew up reading the comics, I wasn't too worried how closely he portrayed any Jokers in those, and I thought his take on this villain was completely amazing. I can't imagine what it was like behind-the- scenes with him and Nolan working their magic. It is truly a joy to watch. It is so sad his life ended so early and we didn't get to see more from him in his young, budding career and life.
Also, the ending of this film leaves me with goosebumps every single time and is the perfect lead into The Dark Knight Rises. Which stinks. But that's okay because I'm not writing about that movie, I'm writing about the epic that is The Dark Knight. So, do yourself a favor and watch this movie on a great TV with great speakers and immerse yourself in the cinematic experience. Turn your phone off, quit texting and checking Instagram and really WATCH what happens. There is much more going on here than you think.
Batman and Joker set the bar for a superhero and villain combination that will be hard to top, and I'm not sure that any film ever will. The interrogation scene is perfect, as is the car chase scene (aside from some really terrible dialogue from the movie cops), the hospital scene and the very end of the film. You're in for a treat with this one.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
A masterpiece that I'll never truly understand
I'll start things off by saying that my mom would hate this movie. It's confusing, it doesn't follow a traditional storyline, characters come and go, it's scary as hell, and the ending leaves you feeling extremely out of sorts. There are loose ends that never connect and when watching movies with my parents throughout the years, they don't enjoy films that don't have a definitive 'meaning' they can explain to themselves...and others.
Mulholland Drive definitely doesn't have an ending you can explain. Well, some people can (or attempt to), but Lynch made this film under his direction, his vision and his own meanings that we will probably never know or understand.
Just know this, do not go into Mulholland Drive expecting anything that you know from movies you've seen throughout the years. It will bend every expectation, trope, and stereotype you've ever seen on film. That's all I can really say. You'll contrive your own meanings from it. I think Lynch knows this too. He has this fascination with human curiosity and his pure genius comes from the fact that he can create a mystery film that ends with more mystery than it began with.
If you do a Google or Youtube search on this film, you will see countless theories, threads, forums, and opinions on what it means and how certain scenes connect (or don't) to one another. Just give it a watch and find out for yourself. You may like it, you may hate it. But, I don't think you'll ever stop thinking about it, and that is the true importance here.
What a buildup, what a letdown
Oh man. I read Stephen King's IT a couple years back and was enthralled. It's creepy, funny, disturbing, inappropriate and so much more. To say I built this movie is up is quite the understatement and honestly this is the first negative review I'm writing on here. I feel bad doing it but we all have opinions and I suppose we are entitled to them. That said, IT is not a good movie. There is just something completely off about this film that starts when the movie rolls and it never quite goes away.
First, it's not scary. Yes, I know fear is subjective so maybe you will think it is, but I'm just not sure how. I saw people giving Pennywise Freddy Krueger comparisons before the film was released in the U.S. and I couldn't sit still at work that day. Freddy Krueger?? I went on a Thursday evening, before its technical release in theaters, and boy was I met with a feeling I can't really describe. I felt broken.
First, the movie is choppy. The editing is all over the place and even after reading the book, it's hard to know how a lot of these characters even come together in the film. I can't begin to fathom how difficult it would be to make a novel into a movie. I really can't. Especially this one. But, man, did I have a completely different vision for this film. After reading on the Duffer Brothers and their push for this film (rejected) into their eventual success with Stranger Things, it does now seem that IT as a high-budget television series would be perfect. For starters, there are so many characters and stories essential to IT that didn't make their way into the film. It would be impossible to get them all in there, but as we are currently seeing, a television series (if done correctly) is an excellent way to build characters, story lines and emotions throughout a 10-episode run. IT would have benefited from this medium.
Second, the scares are completely random. The audience sits there as Pennywise scares his victims one-by-one, almost like we are all on a carnival joy ride. Throughout IT, I never felt any sort of connection towards the characters or the town of Derry. I actually thought the creative change to the 80s was the wrong move as well, and it felt like the actors were standing there reading lines in this choppy, strange format. The bullies were cringe-worthy. From the onset, Henry Bowers wants to kill the losers but we don't know why. We aren't shown into anyone's world (except Bev Marsh's) and those are by far the scariest scenes of the entire film. The casting of Mike and Stan is also very bad and it all just seems so cheesy and fake. I wasn't a huge fan of Bill in the movie either, honestly. Then, when some key creative changes are made from the source material later in the movie, that was about it for me. The creative differences were just too much and I saw this film playing out in a completely different light.
It's tough for me to give a negative review of something because I know just how hard these people work to make a film and to create their art. I kept getting a Jim Carrey Grinch vibe from Pennywise throughout the film and I saw the evil entity more as a demon when reading the novel, and less as a stereotypical monster as this movie makes him out to be. I never got that feeling of dread I felt reading the novel and I definitely didn't get a sense of evil in the town of Derry. I'll be passing on Part 2, unfortunately.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Where do I begin?
For starters, Manchester by the Sea is the saddest movie I have ever seen. From the onset of the beautiful and uniquely filmed New England scenery with incredible music throughout, the viewer is taken on some very personal and very intense emotional journeys throughout. What set Manchester apart for me was how real it all seemed. I felt as if I were involved in every scene watching a broken man go through life, certain relationships build and crumble, mixed in with the ups and downs of life in this world.
As Red stated in The Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy livin', or get busy dyin."
In Manchester by the Sea, we start to see what Red means. Casey Affleck is fantastic in this. I believed in his character from the beginning and it never faltered once for me. His relationship with his brother's son is critical, and the film does an excellent job showing the subtleties of love, connection, raw emotion, heartbreak and loss in the context of film and life.
I also thought the film did an excellent job portraying living conditions in highly impoverished areas of Boston and the northeast. Some work two, three jobs for minimal pay, missed opportunities, minimal returns and more. It made me really sad seeing just how hard some people have it in this world. It is important to show compassion for others because you never truly know what certain people are going through, and you never know who can save them along the way.
Blue Velvet (1986)
Blue Velvet was and is still ahead of its time
Where do I begin? For starters, Blue Velvet rocked my world. I'm not sure the exact word to describe this film from David Lynch, but I think I'll start with unnerving. From the start, you are drawn in by the happy suburban lifestyle drenched in light colors and sunshine into an immediate deep zoom on the insects roaming the grass below. It is a direct juxtaposition that throws the viewer off and really made me feel uncomfortable. Was I about to watch a horror movie? Drama? I had no idea and as the film unfolded, I think it was clear that it was drawing a little from every genre...even its own.
Without giving anything away, Blue Velvet will change the way you watch movies forever. Some scenes last long, some are cut short, the cheesy dialogue fits the suburban setting (and then is cut short when darkness intervenes) and Frank Booth is absolutely terrifying. It is also extremely ahead of its time. Watching this movie, you can see where Tarantino drew a lot of his influence in his realism, creative camera angles, violence, character development and so much more.
This was the second Lynch film I watched as it truly shows the viewer the real art behind making a lasting film and how to really throw your viewer for a loop. I didn't trust a soul throughout the movie, which directly led to its level of terror and unnerving that worked so well. Dennis Hopper is out of this world as villain Frank Booth and I'm telling you it's a performance unlike any I've ever seen. It makes you wonder just how much of it is acting for Hopper, as he truly immerses in this monster and never lets up. Unnerving is an understatement throughout his scenes.
On the surface, Blue Velvet is a crime noir, psychological mystery/thriller (I think), but when you press play, you will quickly realize that it is much more. With some amazing music filling the film as well, David Lynch quickly became one of my favorite directors and showed me that if you want to make a movie or film something, just start doing it. There may be rules, but rules are only there to be broken.