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Recent reviews

Grindhouse is an Instant Classic

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 28 April 2007 02:17 (A review of Grindhouse)

Grindhouse is extraordinary. Yes, you heard me... extraordinary. It happens to be one of the best and well put together films of the past few years. I've heard nothing but rave reviews for it and I can now understand why. If you're thinking about going to see this and feel kind of iffy because it looks too corny, I'm telling you now that you're missing something spectacular. You have to take this film for what it is. It's meant to be corny and ridiculously hilarious. The thing I love about this film is that it is well aware of it's own genre. Film masters Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have teamed up to make on of the most memorable movies I have ever seen.

During the movie (which is 191 minutes), I decided that I would take notes on what I did and didn't like. I know that sounds stupid, but with a film this long I wouldn't have remembered half of the stuff I wanted to say here. First off, let me talk about the film's posters. They are absolutely terrific. The promo posters with Rose McGowan and Marley Shelton on them are so authentic looking with the creases and fold marks and actually look like it came straight from the 1970s. Also, during the film, the whole "missing reels" and "this film is Restriced" parts add to the overall precision.

Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror is the first film in this action-packed double feature. The film is set in a small town in the midst of a zombie outbreak where only a scarce amount of survivors fight their way to safety from this infectious disease. This movie was not the better of the two, but it was definitely the goriest. It's very aware of it's own genre and like Rodriguez's Sin City, it has the look of a classic 50s/60s [horror] film. Planet Terror is also full of amazing characters which are played by amazing actors. These actors may seem to be phony and cheesy, but that's exactly how the film needed them to be and they all pulled it off quite excellently. Rose McGowan has the most memorable character in the entire film and probably in recent film history, also. Cherry Darling, the stripper/wannabe stand-up comic, gets her leg ripped off by an infected zombie. In return, she receives a machine gun to be placed where her leg once was and is now ready to kick some zombie ass. Freddy Rodriguez who plays El Wray, the man who 'never misses', is also one of the best characters in the film. However, there was two things I really didn't like. One was the two annoying babysitter twins. They really did not have to be there and if they would have been left out, the scenes they were in would have been much better. Two is Bruce Willis. He appears in every movie now in some small cameo role and to me, it's a waste of screen time. He needs a strong comeback and hopefully Die Hard 4 will do that for him so he can stop pestering us with his pop-up roles. The music in Planet Terror was great and the film had some classic lines, too. Overall, a solid film.

Now for Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. This was the best of the two films. It had me on the edge of my seat with what I believe was the best car chase scene I've ever seen. The first half of the movie was great with some witty dialogue and interesting characters, but once the characters were built up beyond belief it became a little toilsome. When Kurt Russell's character was introduced it picked up the pace and when Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Zoe Bell were introduced... wow, this movie became quite the ride. Death Proof is a road-raging slasher film in which the villain (Kurt Russell) hunts his victims with a car that is 'death proof' to only the driver. Kurt Russell was good as Stunt Man Mike, but the person who stole the show in Death Proof for me was Tracie Thoms. I was getting used to the three women at the beginning, too, but unfortunately they felt Stunt Man Mike's wrath a little too early. I would have liked to see more of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, too, but that's okay. Quentin's great use of dialogue is put to good use and his acting skills are also put to the test in this film. If anything, watch this movie for the greatest car chase scene ever.

Overall, this movie is absolutely fantastic. It is easily one of the most entertaining and memorable films I've ever seen and I can't see how anyone would forget it. Go see this if you have the chance, it's an amazing cinematic experience.


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A Terrific Thriller

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2007 06:42 (A review of Notes on a Scandal)

Besides The Departed, this is the best adapted screenplay of the year. From a terrific novel by Zoe Heller, Patrick Marber adapts another brilliant piece dealing with sex, affair and deceit. This plot is similar to Patrick Marber's 2004 screenplay of Closer, but different at the same time.

Two british film greats, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, star in this provocative drama. Judi being nominated for Best Actress at this year's Oscars and Cate, supporting actress. If Jennifer Hudson would have never sung her way to Oscar gold, Cate could have easily taken a second Oscar. Judi Dench was brilliant, too. Richard Eyre, who also directed Judi Dench in Iris, directs this film. He has not made many films in the past, but is now a respected director.

The plot goes (simply) like this: Sheba Hart (Blanchett) is the new art teacher at a high school where Barbara Covett (Dench) has been for a long time. They become close friends. Sheba is married with a family and one day after classes, Barbara discovers her having an affair with her 15 year old student. Barbara threatens to reveal her secret if Sheba won't spend more time with her. Barbara's obsession with Mrs. Hart leads to a downward spiral for both of them and in the end someone suffers greatly.

Terrific lines make for memorable scenes. "You think this is a love affair?!"

One of the best films of the year. This should not be missed by anyone.


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Richard Attenborough's Masterful Epic

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2007 06:41 (A review of Gandhi)

Brilliant is too light of a term to describe this epic. I usually don't fall for epics, but when I do I really like them. This is a movie where you don't care how long it is (in this case it's 3 hours 8 minutes), you just sit through it and enjoy every word that is uttered... every movement by Gandhi is wonderful and you realize how much of a hero this man truly was... not was, is. This man is still one of the most memorable people in all of history.

Richard Attenborough (perhaps known to most of you as John Hammond from Jurassic Park) directs this wonderful masterpiece. He won two Oscars in 1983 for directing and producing this film. Not only did it win those Oscars, but six more as well. A total of eight wins in 1983 made this the biggest winner of the year (even claiming the Best Picture award). Attenborough has triumphed with this film making not only Ben Kingsley a huge success, but re-establishing his fading career as well. Before this film, Attenborough had been known for a string of acting credits and for directing A Bridge Too Far and the forgettable Magic. This film brought him back into the limelight which is what he desparately needed.

Gandhi began a solid film career for British actor Ben Kingsley. Before this film, Kingsley only appeared in TV movies and had a reoccuring role for one year on the British soap "Coronation Street". In Gandhi, Kingsley adapted all the mannerisms and intricacies of Mohandas K. Gandhi and made me believe that I was actually watching the real thing. His resemblance to Gandhi was amazing and the way he spoke and moved had me bewildered.

This film describes the life and times of Mohandas Gandhi, Indian political leader who managed to free his country from the British rule using peaceful means and thus giving hope and inspiration for generations to come.

A wondefully true story of hope and inspiration that will be touching the hearts of people around the world for centuries to come. I highly recommend this to everyone... well everyone who has the patience to withstand a 3 hour epic... I just hope you all have the appreciation for this inspirational man and his dream.


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The Best Film So Far This Year

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2007 06:40 (A review of Reign Over Me)

I know I haven't seen many films this year, but out of all the ones I have seen this is by far the best. I wasn't really expecting much from it because Adam Sandler was going to get all serious again. That last time I saw him do a serious drama was with Spanglish and that turned out to be a slight let down. Punch-Drunk Love was good, but didn't showcase his talents enough. This film, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful. Adam Sandler has never impressed me this much before and I was absolutely shocked to see him in such a strong role.

This movie is Adam Sandler's best movie. There is no arguing with that. Mike Binder (who plays Charlie's lawyer in the film) helms this film and does a safe job with it. I wouldn't say he did a great directorial job, but at least it was evident. The story is basic, yet heartbreaking. A true tearjerker if I ever saw one.

Alan Johnson (Cheadle) gets a surprise when he runs into his old roommate, Charlie Fineman (Sandler). He is shocked to find out that Charlie doesn't remember him at all. Alan later learns that Charlie is suffering with grief from the loss of his wife and kids to a plane crash in 9/11. He attempts to help Charlie get over his grief by rekindling their friendship. Charlie hangs out with Alan because he doesn't know anything about what his family was like and he refuses to talk about it. As Alan spends a lot of time with Charlie it puts a strain on his relationship with his wife (Pinkett-Smith) and kids.

Don Cheadle is great, yes, but that's no news since he is always great. The surprise here is how sensational Adam Sandler's performance was. I can't get over it... really! His grief and emotional distress is there in every single move he makes and it makes you sympathetic for his character. Never before has Adam Sandler achieved such... such... perfectness! Perfectness in comedies, maybe, but never has he crossed the border into drama. Now that he appeared in this movie, I can finally take him seriously as a good actor.

I recommend this film to all... it's very uplifting. If you like Adam Sandler you'll love this movie. If you don't like Adam Sandler, give it a chance anyways and I assure you, you'll probably change your mind.


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Gena Rowlands Kicks Ass

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 22 April 2007 06:38 (A review of Gloria)

I'll start by saying that this is by no means a masterpiece. It's very flawed with quite large plotholes and very visible mistakes. But don't let this turn you off of this film because it really is one of the most entertaining films of the 80s. John Cassavetes always makes good movies and with this he doesn't disappoint. His unique style of filmmaking is what makes him so extraordinary, but with this movie I felt that he hollywoodized it a little bit more than it should have been.

Gena Rowlands is absolutely brilliant in her role as the ass-kicking, mob-killing, tough-talking, car-tipping heroine Gloria Swenson. She is the perfect protagonist: a middle-aged woman who has a heavy criminal record is protecting a six-year-old Puerto Rican boy who has lost his family to a mob killing. She hides him from the mob, but finally gives up hiding when things get serious. She fights back with a vengeance because no one shoots at Gloria and gets away with it. Gena Rowlands, in one of the best performances of the 80s, was nominated for Best Actress in 1980 (losing to Sissy Spacek for Coal Miner's Daughter).

Unlike Cassavetes previous films (Rosemary's Baby, A Woman Under the Influence, Faces) this is going against the grain of independent and arthouse cinema and making a true Hollywood picture. No matter, Cassavetes still pulls off what is a great movie. He only made this movie, he said, so his wife (Rowlands) could have a great and independent character to play. I'm glad he did, though, because Rowlands shines in her role.

The ending left me a little uneasy, though. I wish it would have ended differently. I won't spoil it for anyone, but it should have ended with two more casualties. That's all I will say. The screenplay is no more than average. It's interesting and a little original, but what makes it memorable is the strong lead character (Gloria).

John Adames plays the child and is almost unwatchable in some scenes, but for the most part he holds his own. For his first acting job he did ok. I won't patronize him, but he did mess up many of times and it was quite evident in the film. But other than that, he did a fair job.

So overall, the film is 'good', but Gena Rowlands performance is sensational, brilliant, superb, out of this world... I can't keep going or else I will run out of page room. She makes this movie and having said that, I recommend you all to see it mainly for her performance alone. Enjoy.


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