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DVD of the Week (22/1)

25 Very Short Film Reviews

I love writing reviews. I love it a lot. And I like it when reviews turn people onto movies they wouldn’t normally watch, as they have for me on many occasions. But sometimes people don’t have the time to read a full review, and just want people to get to the point. To satisfy these impatient but forgivable men and women, here is a list of twenty-five films, reviewed within one paragraph. They range from the completely terrible to the utterly brilliant. This of course, is all based on opinion, which is what makes the process of leaving a comment so integral. So make sure you do that. Anywhere, here they are, in a completely random order:

1: Freeway (1996)

It’s hardcore dark humor that is difficult to appreciate combined with the complete impossibility to sympathise with either of its main characters might normally make this a bad movie. But in some strange way, it has a charm, which obviously appealed to Executive Producer Oliver Stone. 7/10.

2: Short Cuts (1993)

Robert Altman knows a lot about people, as this mammoth 3-hour film proves. Back in ’75, he did it with Nashville, and retaining some of the jazzy musical flair, he returns to weave a complex web of a range of emotions that was a nice follow-up to The Player and a major influence on Paul Thomas Anderson. 9/10.

3: Fear and Desire (1955)

Stanley Kubrick’s first feature film was a disappointing one; so much so that he went as far as to withdraw all copies from distribution. It can still be found on the internet, but Kubrick was right when he said it was his worst film. 4/10.

4: Wild at Heart (1991)

My least favourite David Lynch film (and I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE Lynch) is a twisted romantic thriller with all the familiar Lynchian character types and plenty of Lynch’s snazzy retro styles but seemingly devoid of emotion. The highlight is easily the ugly Willem Dafoe character, but he only barely manages to save this wreck. 5/10.

5: The Green Mile (1999)

Seeing this at age 14, I felt a poignant sense of love for a film in a manner which was new to me. If, at that age, I had compiled a list of my favourite films, it would probably be number one. Growing up, I realized my fickle naivety at loving this Darabont gem so much, but it still retains power. 8/10.

6: Somewhere (2010)

Though Coppola’s take on an age-old plot is rather inaccessible, it is undoubtedly original, and her solid directing and some very touching cinematography make this so wickedly awesome to look at. Plus, the boozy relativity of Stephen Dorff and the contrasting charm of Elle Fanning make this an underrated treasure. 8/10.

7: See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1987)

Of the Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor pairings, this is certainly not the most well-received, glamorous or best, but seeing it at age twelve I could NOT stop laughing. They play the respective roles of a deaf and blind man in such a hilarious manner that it’s impossible not to. But at the end of the day, this is them doing what they’ve already done, in many ways. 6/10.

8: Liar, Liar (1997)

I saw this in theatres with my Dad when it came out and we had such fun. Turning ever slightly into a more bearable personality with each film, Carrey seems to hold up the role of a flabbergastingly talkative lawyer with ease, slipping in dozens of clever, witty one liners and winning the audience one chuckle at a time, despite its flaws. 7/10.

9: A Serious Man (2009)

It took more than one viewing to fully appreciate what Joel and Ethan Coen were trying to convey with this deceivingly simple story of a Jewish man’s struggle in middle-class society as everything he touches breaks (metaphorically) and he is subject to blackmail, deceit and countless unlucky circumstance. Honest about life and a real eye opener, it proves that the Coens will perhaps forever retain that undeniable charm. 9/10.

10: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

With a bit of a mind flip, you’re into the time slip, and nothing will ever be the same. Though I certainly never went as far as to dress up and gather props, watching this cult classic gives you an appreciation for its intelligence about comedy and its beautiful tributes to science fiction and exploitation hits alike. 7/10.

11: Casino (1998)

I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but watching Scorsese’s Casino felt like a three hour trip around a rollercoaster of emotions that encircle the pretty-on-the-outside city. De Niro’s stony appearance and Pesci’s familiar disturbing intolerance as well as general greed and sin are an unattractive portrait of a moment in time where no one was safe from corruption. 8/10.

12: Gigli (2003)

I had suspected something stinky early on, but when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez started their pathetic argument about penises and vaginas, I began to feel really sick. What makes it even worse is the presence of Martin Brest as director and screenwriter. How can a person so quickly move from things like Midnight Run and Scent of a Woman to this? 3/10.

13: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

For a fleeting second in this superb adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel, whilst watching the DVD, I grabbed for the remote to pause it but found myself unable to. I realized when it had finished that that flash of a second was me deciding this was the best film I’d ever seen, but within moments, that exaggeration was gone. It isn’t the best one. But it’s a f*cking good one. 10/10.

14: The Brown Bunny (2003)

From its famed disastrous Cannes screening to the nightmarish controversy which followed, Vincent Gallo’s second directorial film was always going to garner the wrong sort of attention, but I think it is vastly underrated. It took me more than one viewing to even begin to like this movie, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I realize what Gallo was trying to achieve and I respect him even more. Read my full review here. 7/10.

15: The Killing (1956)

Probably the first “great” film Kubrick released, this tense, pacing heist flick is full of brilliant scenes and the early stages of what would soon famously become the “Kubrick” cinematography style, and a final end scene completely coated in excellence. Impossible to hate, it is a must-see for all heist movie fans. 8/10.

16: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

When compared with the films that preceded it, Paul Thomas Anderson’s quiet little drama might seem a little disappointing, but it’s arguably an excellent work of art, full of Anderson and the emotion he’s so talented at conveying. It also features cinematography and a use of light that is, in a word, stunning, and quite unexpected, much like the notable performance from a frustrated Adam Sandler. 8/10.

17: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

A beautiful movie that makes you feel quite triumphant, this magnificent true story about a paralysed man who communicated and “typed” his entire autobiography to a typist by blinking (and doing only that) is not a frightening vision of a rare but dangerous affliction but rather, a tale of succeeding, when the rest of your body was telling you to fail. 8/10.

18: Rain Man (1988)

Dustin Hoffman’s remarkable performance as the Autistic Raymond would be enough to turn any self-indulgent prick like Tom Cruise’s character into a more emotionally respectable person, and as if that weren’t enough, his love for K-Mart, fresh underwear and Who’s On First make him instantly likeable. 7/10.

19: City of Ember (2008)

While babysitting my sister’s kids, we (meaning they) decided it would be awesome to watch this futuristic drama. Though the presence of Tim Robbins and Bill Murray is enough to stir the eyes of any adult in bland interest, neither of them are trying anything comedic here and while the premise is interesting, it is ultimately disappointing. 5/10.

20: October Sky (1997)

I feel sorry for a lot of people for this movie, Chris Cooper most of all, because when accepting this role he probably thought it would be the only time he would have to play a self-indulgent prick of a father. Then along came American Beauty, and self-indulgent prick was an instant typecast. Anyway, this movie is a bland but fair true story about some kids who build rockets, but it’s more for kids. 6/10.

21: Being John Malkovich (1999)

Hello, Kaufman. Hello, Jonze. Hello again, instantly despicable but strangely appealing John Malkovich. Hello, good movie. The interesting premise of this comic drama follows through nicely, retaining a lot of originality and pacing itself neatly enough. The only disappointing scene is one that also seems to be strangely witty, involving a chimpanzee flashback. 8/10.

22: Dogville (2003)

Lars von Trier is a director who I don’t think has ever (or will ever) make a really accessible movie. Dogville is no exception to this rule, but it is also Trier’s best. The use of setting the whole thing as a stage play makes it seem smaller, down to Earth, and a whole lot easier to follow, and the acting performances by a collective group of great actors playing members of a small town is equally impressive. 8/10. Heck, maybe 9 considering the fantastic ending.

23: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Revealing some unpleasant truths about relations between Brits and Americans, this absolutely f*cking HILARIOUS movie is flat out funny, all the way through, with Pythonesque jokes, and a thought-provoking analysis of the system of slapstick crime movies, this continues to delight and impress with each viewing. Sooo funny! 8/10.

24: Bruno (2008)

What may be so appealing about Sacha Baron Cohen is his disregard for social convention and love of all things outrageous. His follow-up to Borat, goes further than its predecessor, into the realms of homophobia and stereotypes, but still managing to come up clean on the other side, though some scenes might be excessive. 7/10.

25: Amores Perros (2000)

Spanish (or Mexican, whichever you consider to be most applicable) cinema is one of the most intriguingly relevant of foreign cinemas today. Celebrated director Alejandro Gonzales Iñàrritu creates tense sequences and stories of life in Mexico that are full of raw, uncensored emotion, particularly some heartbreaking sequences in the last half. Surprisingly brilliant. 9/10.

That’s my opinion, now what’s yours? You know the drill. Do you agree/disagree with what I’ve said about movies above? Leave a comment with some very short reviews of your own. It can be from any movie at all.

Thanks for reading.

100 Things I Love About the Movies

Recently, John at The Droid You’re Looking For made a sequel to his hugely successful “100 Things I Love About the Movies” post, and being a fan of both posts, I’ve decided it’s about time I did my own. It was a very inspirational and thoughtful post, and if you read it yourself it might just make you want to do one of the same. For now, here’s mine:

1: Hi-hi-hi there, at last we meet.

2: The shaking fence in Evil Dead.

3: A rape depicted through the clever usage of a silent movie in Pedro Almodovar’s Talk to Her.

4: Qantas never crashed.

5: Whatever you want, Leo Getz.

6: The stunning ending to Lars von Trier’s Dogville.

7: Dave. Stop, Dave. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it.

8: The best movie cut of all history in Lawrence of Arabia.

9: The theme that plays when we see the man with the Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West.

10: Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me…

11: The abrupt ending of Bonnie and Clyde.

12: I’m a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I’m a big bright shining star. That’s right.

13: The final perfect five minutes of Irreversible…

14: …and how The King’s Speech stole the music!

15: Ellen Burstyn’s monologue in Requiem for a Dream.

16: The hand emerging from the water in Deliverance.

17: The final half-hour of Audition.

18: Jimmy Schtewart.

19: The emotion and raw energy with which Kirk Douglas delivers this line in Paths of Glory: “I apologise to you, sir, for not informing you sooner that you’re a degenerate, sadistic old man, and you can go to Hell before I apologise to you now or ever again!”

20: John C. Reilly shining his flashlight into the camera in Magnolia.

21: Blood Simple to True Grit and everything in between.

22: Hello… Hello, Dimitri? I… I can’t hear, could you turn the music down? That’s great, you’re coming through fine. I’m coming through fine, too, am I? I agree with you, it’s great to be fine. Now then, Dimitri. One of our generals… he went a little funny in the head… you know, funny. And he went and did a silly thing.

23: Tracking shots. All of them.

24: The Monty Python movies (“I fart in your general direction!”)

25: Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.

26: Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar.

27: Steve Martin in The Jerk.

28: Isabella Rossellini begging Kyle MacLachlan in Blue Velvet (“Hit me!”).

29: In Heaven… everything is fine.

30: Did You Know You Can Use Old Motor Oil to Fertilise Your Lawn?

31: That lucky occasion when you come across a really, really good TV movie (Indictment: The McMartin Trial)

32: Get away from her, you BITCH!

33: I am Death. I have long walked at your side.

34: The most striking and disturbing use of colour in any film, that of Sven Nykvist’s brilliant cinematography in Ingmar Bergman’s fantastic Cries and Whispers.

35: NOT LOVELY, LOVELY LUDWIG VAAAANNNN!!!!

36: The slow-paced and slightly comic final duel in Barry Lyndon.

37: The deadly silent arrival of Martin Sheen into Colonel Kurtz new jungle home, rudely interrupted by an obviously high Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now.

38: The first six or so minutes of Persona.

39: This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun.

40: The haunting piano music that plays throughout the latter half of Kubrick’s fantastic Eyes Wide Shut.

41: A surprise cameo from the greatest stand-up comedian of all time in a non-comedy role in Lost Highway.

42: Tom Cruise’s finest hour:

43: The perfect opening shot of Apocalypse Now.

44: Bernard Herrman’s shrieking violins.

45: Black and White movies in the era of Colour.

46: The nameless dystopian city in David Fincher’s Se7en.

47: Uncomfortably casual nudity in Short Cuts.

48: Marge Gunderson.

49: Nobody fucks with the Jesus.

50: Bring Out the Gimp.

51: Norma Desmond’s delusions of grandeur.

52: The drug deal scene in Boogie Nights.

53: I only got two things in this world: my balls and my word. And I don’t break em for nobody.

54: Robert Downey, Jr. in Natural Born Killers.

55: The “train going into the tunnel” at the very end of North by Northwest, a clever albeit overused sexual metaphor.

56: Ricky Gervais. Always. Always.

57: A movie set entirely within one room (i.e. Buried)

58: Rob Brydon’s cameo in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

59: Nothing’s wrong with it, Tommy. It’s tip top. I’m just not sure about the colour.

60: I am Jack’s _____ ______.

61: Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, oh, and while we’re at it…

62: 80s high school movies. All of them.

63: The epilogue of Pink Flamingos.

64: Clerks. ‘Nuff said.

65: Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you fucking stupid bastard!

66: Silencio.

67: Earn this. Earn it.

68: The final shot of the rat at the end of The Departed.

69: Extended Director’s Cuts.

70: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

71: The inability of Jack Lemmon to be able to watch Grand Hotel in The Apartment.

72: Memorable last lines in Billy Wilder movies.

73: We’re a loving couple that doesn’t touch.

74: Sunday nights, where I put aside a few hours to rewatch one of my favourite movies, no matter what it is or how many times I’ve seen it.

75: The creepy hidden camera shots in Michael Haneke’s Cache.

76: Amelie’s strange games with random people in the film of the same name.

77: Go round mums, deal with Phillip, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all this to blow over.

78: Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure: “In the water, I’m a very skinny lady.”

79: Sidney Lumet. Rest in Peace.

80: The final shocking moments of Planet of the Apes.

81: The meaning of Roger O. Thornhill’s middle initial.

82: Martin Scorsese’s cameo in Taxi Driver.

83: Gregory Peck’s powerful courtroom monologue in To Kill A Mockingbird…

84: …and the uniquely different but still subtly similar version presented by a suprisingly good Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill.

85: Dustin Hoffman’s moving turn as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy…

86: …and the eerie subtle similarities between Jon Voight’s character in the same movie and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.

87: Mr. Jingles.

88: I just wanted to hold the little baby.

89: You mean the man who inserted rubber fist in my anus was a homosexual?

90: The stunning revelation at the end of Spoorloos (The Vanishing).

91: How quickly a director can take my interest, and how stunningly tight their grip remains on me within the shortest of times, and how it can last seemingly forever, as evidenced by my recent delve into the films of Ingmar Bergman.

92: Hit Girl.

93: Bill Murray waking up to the same nauseatingly repetitive jingle every morning in Groundhog Day.

94: Reese Witherspoon humiliating a disfigured Kiefer Sutherland in Freeway.

95: The little bit of low-budget masterpiece that was Sex, Lies and Videotape.

96: Dogme 95.

97: The Criterion Collection.

98: The little things in movies that so few directors really think to care about.

99: How movies affect my everyday life, the way I do things, the little idiosyncrasies that people rarely notice, and how I think and perceive things.

100: “I’m finished.”