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.
I live in New Zealand, an island country in the South Pacific that is located southeast of Australia. Recently, in one of our major cities, Christchurch, a disastrous earthquake struck, leaving hundreds dead and many buildings in ruins.
I, being the optimist I am, have decided to take it upon myself to list some of the most memorable earthquakes in movies:
1: Short Cuts (1993)
Robert Altman’s picturesque masterpiece of life in L.A. for cops, jazz singers, phone sex operaters, makeup artists, pool cleaners, waitresses and countless others would be nothing without the films anticlimactic earthquake. Normally in a film, an earthquake or natural disaster at the end would signify some sort of amazing event that changes the lives of all the characters (wink-wink Magnolia), but the quake in this film seems to have little or no effect on the way these Hollywood characters operate, which I’ve come to determine is simply because California has so many earthquakes!
2: The Mist (2007)
Frank Darabont returned to adapting Stephen King novellas for this interesting monster movie which begins with an “earthquake” and sends its characters into a torrent of cabin fever when strange monsters prevent them from safely leaving a supermarket in which they are encapsulated. But is expiation the answer? Or suicide, for that matter? The film’s infamous ending is both brilliant and absolutely lame and stupid. Tacky, Darabont, just tacky. It would’ve been better if he’d stuck to the original ending.
3: 2012 (2009)
Roland Emmerich once again succeeds to scare the shit out of us with this once more very prophetic and very interesting look at how the world will end. Unsurprisingly its extremely pessimistic, even if the ending is a happy one for John Cusack. The pessimism is in the destruction itself, which is a deluge of disasters. CGI earthquakes tear cities apart, while Cusack manages to miraculously escape the disaster with his children. Woody Harrelson also has a cameo as a radio broadcaster with insane predictions, though his character is killed as the chaos begins. Shame. The only thing the film has going for itself is the destruction, which is intense and realistic, thank God. But there is very little else of interest, and annoying questions raised such as: “How could the Mayans predict a solar flare?” and “How come John Cusack survives but billions of other people have to die?” I don’t know the answer to that; all I do know is that Cusack should have died and Woody should’ve survived.
4: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
My favourite disaster movie is undeniably The Poseidon Adventure. There are consistently excellent performances from the all-star cast and it is a masterpiece I can watch over and over again. Though the “earthquake” in this film is an underwater one, that still counts, because it is what triggers the title wave that capsizes the ocean liner. Forget Titanic (1997). While it does have much more stunning imagery, the drama and excitement of The Poseidon Adventure towers over it, alongside what I like to refer to as its “sister film” The Towering Inferno (1974). What’s not to love about Poseidon? It has everything you could want, and more. The drama is vicious and enriching, as is the adventure to the “one-inch-thick” propeller shaft room. Gene Hackman dominates it all with his own terrific acting, and is supported by notable performances from Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters and others. A definite watch for lovers of disaster movies or adventure films.
5: Earthquake (1974)
Directed by Mark Robson (Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls) and partially scripted by Mario Puzo, this disaster film for the ages is a fun excersize, and even though its not a great one, there are some enjoyable moments. I’m a sucker for films with numerous characters and multiple storylines and, so, I had to see this. It was ages ago and I can barely remember it, but it is an earthquake film and the quake is memorable. A fitting conclusion to a series of five.
So there you have it! Five memorable earthquake scenes, as promised. But… were there any I forgot? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.