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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.

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Heartbreakers and Heartachers: Ten Great Romantic Movies… and Ten Really Bad Ones!

A good romantic comedy is so rare these days, and you’re lucky if you get even one remarkable rom-com (or rom-dram) each year. So I thought I’d highlight ten great romantic movies from the history of cinema–not the ten best, just ten great ones. And to remind us how the romantic genre has failed in recent times, I’m also including ten romantic movies that make me groan…

The Heartbreakers: Ten Great Romantic Movies:

1: It Happened One Night (1934)

This delightfully original romantic comedy swept the Oscars in 1934, winning all five major Academy Awards (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress). It is a great and funny story of two people who hate each other but grow to fall in love whilst travelling cross country. Sound familiar? Well it’s been done many times but never like this. Fantastic.

2: Casablanca (1942)

The original, classic romantic comedy is this beautiful, enthralling tale of love between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, whose characters are steaming hot and full of secrets, through the stunning scenes of a bar in Morocco where men come to drink away their sorrows and love is strangled by an air of cigarette smoke and booze. Play it once, Sam.

3: Some Like It Hot (1959)

Billy Wilder has crafted some of the greatest films of all times, from classic comedies such as this to intriguing dramas like Sunset Blvd. and downright disturbing masterpieces like The Lost Weekend. Some Like It Hot was an instant hit for Wilder, and a classic comedy with laugh-out loud moments and beautifully captured romantic scenes. The diva Monroe is a hit here, as are her counterparts, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, grovelling for her affection. This is something special indeed.

4: The Apartment (1960)

Considerably darker than its 1959 sister comedy, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment is nevertheless a very funny, very charming romantic comedy which also touches on important social issues. The always hilarious Jack Lemmon graces through this film, as funny and witty as he’s always been and at the top of his game. Of all the films you must see on this list, this is no. 1!

5: The Graduate (1967)

This will always be regarded as a classic among romantic movies in history for its wonderful plot and remarkable performance from then-unknown Dustin Hoffman. There’s plenty to laugh at and a lot of great chemistry as this famous romantic plot unfolds. Director Mike Nichols has created a wonderful film.

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6: Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Bertolucci’s timeless erotic drama is filled with the grace of the screen’s leads, and has a special place in my heart because of the coffin scene with Marlon Brando. Romance has never been so visceral and breathtaking as it was when it was presented in 1972 in such a glorious, explicit, memorable manner.

7: Annie Hall (1977)

Whether you love it or loathe it, you’ve got to admit Woody Allen’s 1977 comedy is original and very clever. It adopts techniques and uses them in new ways for its era, as well as spawning provocative one-liners (“the size of a Buick!”) and tirelessly hilarious scenarios. Everyone should be able to find something to relate to in this classic comedy.

8: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

“You made a woman mieow?” Rob Reiner’s classic romantic comedy stretched the boundaries and let in a flood of new emotions. It was a romantic comedy like no other, and yet if it were made today they would probably screw it up. The leads are enthralling and the film is hilarious. Well done.

9: Groundhog Day (1993)

It’s hard to forget the hilarious chemistry between leads Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in this laugh-out-loud comedy from Harold Ramis. Bill Murray plays one of his best performances as he attempts to win over MacDowell and there are plenty of laughs to be shared. A great romantic movie.

10: As Good as It Gets (1997)

Winning Oscars for both its leads, this great dramatic romance has its moments, and more, as it manages to master emotions. Jack Nicholson is excellent in his performance as an embittered writer, and the supporting performances by Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear are nothing short of remarkable.

So there you have it, ten great romance movies. But unfortunately, there are more bad romance movies than good ones, such as the following dreadful ten:

The Heartachers: Ten Horrible Romantic Movies:

1: Gigli (2003)

Probably the worst film on this list, Gigli is infamous for being a shockingly bad romantic comedy starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Disgusting acting, a soggy script and plain awful direction by Martin Brest (who surprisingly directed one of my favourite comedies, Midnight Run plus the excellent Pacino hit Scent of a Woman) are all components of the driving force behind this absolute shithole.

2: The Hottie and the Nottie (2008)

You should know what to expect when you see Paris Hilton stars in this, as well as its terrible reception, Razzie pickups by the dozens, and generally distasteful and amoral viewpoints on society. Are we trying to dumb down our teenagers? At this rate, we’ll have twenty-year olds crashing on a beanbag enthusiastically watching Barney by 2050, not sure how they’ll ever grow up.

3: Down to You (2000)

Suicide by shower utensils? Freddie Prinze, Jr.? Excuse my blunt language, but f*ck that! Yet another distasteful addition to romantic comedies that don’t even try to be good. Any semblance of togetherness this film might have had is washed away long before the film starts.

4: Mannequin (1987)

Certainly not as bad as some of the others on this list, my disliking of this crummy eighties love story has been emplanted into my brain because of the day I saw it: in June, last year. I had watched three movies that day already: Lawrence of Arabia, 12 Angry Men, Being There and then… this. It ruined my day and wasted my time.

5: Rumour Has It (2005)

Again, this doesn’t suck as much as others, but I just have a complete and utter dislike of Jennifer Aniston. I can’t even look at her without feeling… sick. She calls herself an actress? I can’t believe it. And attempting to revive The Graduate fever with a plotline involving that successful film is not paying tribute to it, but rather, insulting it.

6: The Bachelor (1999)

Okay, I’m especially pissed off at this one for attempting to recreate Buster Keaton’s fantastic 1925 comedy Seven Chances. It is a failed remake, tribute, parody or whatever it was trying to be.

7: Mr. Wrong (1996)

Before we ever knew Ellen’s true sexual agenda, she starred in this painfully dry comedy in which she is trying to avoid a stalker of a suitor. One of the most painful viewing experiences I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch… if watching only the first hour counts.

8: Blind Date (1987)

The only way in which this is close to Die Hard is chronologically. Other than that, it’s a flop and a complete stinker. Bruce Willis is disgustingly lame and manages to waste our time in ways that we’ve never thought possible… or have we?

9: Say It Isn’t So (2001)

Despite the sexual appeal of Heather Graham following Boogie Nights and that Austin Powers movie she was in, we uncover one of her true sides and that is that she can’t always put a movie together. As for the Farrelly brothers… for shame!

10: From Justin to Kelly (2003)

If ever Gigli had a rival on this list for worst movie, it would be From Justin to Kelly. This is a hopeless romantic comedy which made me cringe with disgust and boredom, and is unworthy of any love, compassion, respect or even pity. Awful. No, horrible. No… adjectives cannot describe the deep hatred I have for this film.

So there you have it! Ten great romantic movies and ten horrible ones. So… what’s your opinion? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Leave a comment below and tell me what you thought.

Thanks for reading.