04
Dec
16

#39 Cleopatra

#39. Cleopatra (1934)

cleopatra-1934-poster-2

Starring Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon, and Ian Keith.

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

The Short, Short Version:

This historical romance has Queen Cleopatra (Colbert) kidnapped and left in the middle of the desert along with her assistant. While Caesar (William) sits plots out his capture of Egypt Cleopatra manages to outwit her captor and cozy up to Caesar. This relationship proves fatal as 1) Caesar is already married to Culpernia and 2) No one in Rome likes Cleopatra. Failing to heed the Ides of March Caesar is assassinated and Cleopatra takes the only vehicle she has back to Egypt. Marc Antony (Wilcoxon), pissed off at Cleopatra as well, takes his legions into Egypt dead set on killing Cleopatra. Cleopatra placates to Antony and he, in turn, falls in love with her. Octavius (Keith) uses this relationship to turn Rome against Antony.

Why This Made the 40:

The second of the categories this came from the “Haven’t Watched” one. Believe it or not I have a few movies I found interesting by the packaging or historical context and as such, collected them; this was one.

This movie is about as compact as a black and white epic can get. 100 minutes may sound short however DeMille wastes no time in movie. Each scene “ramps up” to the next scene and gets bigger and better as it goes along. Claudia Colbert seethes sex and allure as Cleopatra and she knows how to play her cards and really, this movie is a showcase for her. William and Wilcoxon do fine jobs with their characters as much as they were written but again, this movie wasn’t about Caesar or Marc Antony so much as Cleopatra. As a female protagonist movie it navigates the sensibilities of the time fairly well.

Secondly, it’s a DeMille movie. From 1914 to 1956 he directed 80 films, most notably, “The Ten Commandments.” His sense for epic grandeur is in no short supply here – from the rooms of Egypt to Cleopatra’s trireme it’s about space and glory and opulence. The musical number on Cleopatra’s ship is the greatest example of it with the camera slowly pulling-back to show Marc Antony at the head of the ship as if on a stage while on the floor below are dancers and hoops on fire and even further back synchronous rowing and at the back one guy pounding on a giant drum. All in one shot. THAT is directing.

Like “Key Largo,” the coup-de-grace scene is expertly edited; tight and never short of action. Once Egypt and Antony take on Rome there’s a sequence that shows triremes ramming into each other, soldiers falling into the water (complete with underwater shots), Roman legions versus Egyptian legions, sword-fighting – everything one could ask for in a spectacular fight scene. You can also notice small bits of actors in front of a backlit projected image but those are interspersed with the other action shots so as not to interfere with the “suspension of disbelief,” which in my opinion was an incredibly smart move.

Did I enjoy it? Yeah. Equal mix history, romance, and action movie on an epic scale in 100 minutes is a feat for its time and altogether a decent movie. Sure, there are a few hokey instances such as Caesar playing with a device that’s supposed to thrust spears into the enemy (made from a cash register) and a giant door with a metal locking mechanism, but really these are just “of the time” issues; they happen every generation. Give it a spin if you get a chance.

03
Dec
16

#40 Key Largo

#40: Key Largo

keylargo

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, and Claire Trevor

Directed by John Huston

The Short, Short Version:

Bogey plays Major Frank McCloud, a soldier-turned-drifter whose conscience leads him to the Keys, specifically Key Largo to the Hotel Largo which is ran by the father (Barrymore) and wife (Bacall) of fallen comrade George Temple. Upon entering the Hotel Largo he’s eyed by several of the guests there whose reasons for staying are above suspicion until he, the owner and daughter-in-law, and a cop are all held hostage by Al Capone-inspired gangster Johnny Rocco (Robinson). Rocco, surrounded by his gang and former singer/moll Gaye Dawn (Trevor), has other plans: getting the dough for his counterfeit money and heading back to Cuba where he was deported to. Add to the mix an impending hurricane, a sheriff, and Seminole brothers on the run, and you have a taught, tense thriller.

Why this made the 40:

The Forty for 40 list has four categories. This came from the Top Ten Influential Directors category for being directed by John Huston. Huston is the noted director of such classics as “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “The Asphalt Jungle,” “The African Queen,” and “The Man Who Would Be King,” among others. While “Key Largo,” is also a Bogey movie, it has a sensibility that “Maltese Falcon,” does not that makes for it to be an underrated film. What makes this film, more than the others, are the characters. From the thug “Angel” to the moll to the coward soldier McCloud having to confront his internal demons and summoning everything he can to take on underworld emperor Rocco, “Key Largo,” rides the line between noir crime drama and thriller. The interactions between Bogey and Robinson alone are worth watching – Bogart’s downtrodden “wiseguy” versus Robinson’s “larger than life” Napoleonic- Al Capone really makes the film.

Other important notes: the music. It was used for effect as much as the silence and the sound effects. Moments of empathy/sympathy would be underscored by a small musical piece. Silence swelled the dry awkwardness of the divergent characters all being in one room. The sound effects of the hurricane hitting the hotel amplified Rocco’s paranoia and lack of total control.

And, the photography. Based on a play (loosely, I’ve read) the film only alternates in what room(s) the characters gather in. Almost all interactions happen when most of the characters are all assembled in one place and as such they all have to be/seem/feel separate from one-another. The lighting does well-enough to give that three-dimensional feel when you see the various angles shot within the room they’re in. Every now-and-then you can also get that noir feel by the shadows from staircases, faces half-hidden in the shadows, etc. Working within noir sensibilities there are the mirror shots whereby a character is looking at the mirror and we see not only them but everyone behind them; a kind-of action/reaction tit for tat. Innovative stuff. I also recommend the final scene between Bogart and Robinson; it’s one of the best shot.

Aside from these things I think that I really enjoy “Key Largo” because it feels like the movie you watch to enjoy as opposed to the one you watch just to have seen it. Sure, I enjoyed the other Huston movies and in some ways they are superior. Maybe it’s like the band Steely Dan – yeah, they made good music and people like them but not everyone lists them as their “go to” band. While it’s not the “go to” for Bogart, Robinson, or Huston it does deserve mention and appreciation.

Here’s the trailer:

And also this little ditty from the Eighties…

16
Nov
16

Forty for 40 / Film List

Here I sit in a coffeeshop a month and some change from the point of no return – turning 40. With that in mind I’m doing Forty for 40 – 40 movies over 40 days leading up to my birthday. I’ve spent the past week culling through my collection of nearly 1000 movies on DVD and Blu-Ray to figure out which ones I would watch. Some have cinematic meaning. Some have personal meaning. Some were based on my favorite by that director. Some I haven’t even completely watched or seen yet. Any way the plan is to watch the movie and provide a little bit of review, trivia, and why I picked the film. You’ll have to check out the page to find out which one(s) I chose. While I’m not going to disclose the list, here are the movies I had to choose from. Enjoy.

12 Angry Men (1957)
The 13th Warrior (1999)
16 Blocks (2006)
2 Days in the Valley (1996)
20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
21 Grams (2003)
28 Days Later… (2002)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
3:10 to Yuma (1957)
300 (2006)
The 39 Steps (1935)
50/50 (2011)
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
9 (2009)
Adaptation. (2002)
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
The Adventures of Bob and Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew (1983)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
The African Queen (1951)
Airplane! (1980)
Akira (1988)
Alien (1979)
Alien 2: Aliens (1986)
Alien 3 (1992)
Alien 4: Alien Resurrection (1997)
All the President’s Men (1976)
Almost Famous (2000)
Altered States (1980)
Amelie <Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain> (2001)
The American (2010)
American Beauty (1999)
American Gangster (2007)
American History X (1998)
American Hustle (2013)
American Psycho (2000)
American Sniper (2014)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Anchorman: Wake-Up Ron Burgundy (2004)
Angel Heart (1987)
Annabelle (2014)
Antz (1998)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Apollo 13 (1995)
Apt Pupil (1998)
Argo (2012)
Arlington Road (1999)
The Arrival (1996)
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
The Artist (2011)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
The Atomic Cafe (1982)
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)
Attack the Block (2011)
Austin Powers 1: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Austin Powers 3: Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
Avatar (2009)
The Avengers (2012)
The Aviator (2004)
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future 2 (1989)
Back to the Future 3 (1990)
Bad Lieutenant (1992)
Bananas (1971)
The Bank Job (2008)
Barb Wire (1996)
Barbarella (1968)
Basic Instinct (1992)
Batman (1989)
Batman 1: Batman Begins (2005)
Batman 2: The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman 3: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Batman: The Movie (1966)
*batteries not included (1987)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Battle Royale <Batoru rowaiaru> (2000)
Bedazzled (2000)
Beetle Juice (1988)
Before Midnight (2013)
Before Sunrise (1995)
Before Sunset (2004)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Below Zero (2011)
Ben-Hur (1959)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Beowulf (2007)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
The Big Chill (1983)
The Big Hit (1998)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
The Big Red One (1980)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
The Birds (1963)
Birthday Girl (2001)
Black Dynamite (2009)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
The Black Hole (1979)
Black Snake Moan (2006)
Blade (1998)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Blood Diamond (2006)
Blood Simple (1984)
Blow (2001)
Blow Out (1981)
Blue Valentine (2010)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The Boat <Das Boot> (1981)
Body Heat (1981)
The Bone Collector (1999)
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Born Yesterday (1950)
Bound (1996)
Bourne 1: The Bourne Identity (2002)
Bourne 2: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Bourne 3: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Bowfinger (1999)
Braindead (1992)
Brave (2012)
Braveheart (1995)
Brazil (1985)
Breakdown (1997)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
Broken Embraces <Los abrazos rotos> (2009)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
The Brothers McMullen (1995)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Bugsy (1991)
Bull Durham (1988)
Bullitt (1968)
Burn After Reading (2008)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Cabin Boy (1994)
Caddyshack (1980)
Cape Fear (1991)
Cape Fear (1962)
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
Captain America 1: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Captain America 3: Civil War (2016)
Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)
Carlito’s Way (1993)
Carrie (1976)
Casablanca (1942)
Casino (1995)
Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale (1967)
Cedar Rapids (2011)
The Center of the World (2001)
The Change-Up (2011)
Changeling (2008)
Changing Lanes (2002)
Chappie (2015)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Chasing Amy (1997)
Child’s Play (1988)
Children of Men (2006)
Chinatown (1974)
Chloé (2009)
Christine (1983)
The Chronicles of Narnia 1: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
The Chronicles of Narnia 2: Prince Caspian (2008)
The Chronicles of Narnia 3: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City of God <Cidade de Deus> (2002)
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Cleopatra (1963)
Cleopatra (1934)
Clerks (1994)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Closer (2004)
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Collatéral (2004)
The Color Purple (1985)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
The Conjuring (2013)
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
Constantine (2005)
The Conversation (1974)
The Convincer (2011)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Countess Dracula (1971)
CQ (2001)
Crash (2004)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Creepshow (1982)
Crimson Peak (2015)
Crimson Tide (1995)
Critters (1986)
The Crow (1994)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Cyrus (2010)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Dark City (1998)
Darkman (1990)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Dead Girl (2006)
Dead Man (1995)
Deadpool (2016)
Death Proof (2007)
Deep Impact (1998)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Deliverance (1972)
The Departed (2006)
Derailed (2005)
The Descendants (2011)
Despicable Me (2010)
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Diabolique <Les diaboliques> (1955)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
The Dictator (2012)
Die Another Day (2002)
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Dirty Work (1998)
District 9 (2009)
Django Unchained (2012)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Dogma (1999)
Don Jon (2013)
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Donnie Darko (2001)
The Doors (1991)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Down Periscope (1996)
Dr. No (1962)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Dracula (1992)
Dracula (1931)
Dracula 2000 (2000)
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Dragnet (1987)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Drive (2011)
Duel (1971)
Dune (1984)
Duplicity (2009)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
East of Eden (1955)
Eastern Promises (2007)
Easy A (2010)
Easy Rider (1969)
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
Elevator to the Gallows <Ascenseur pour l’échafaud> (1958)
Elizabethtown (2005)
Elysium (2013)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
Enemy of the State (1998)
Enter the Dragon (1973)
Entrapment (1999)
Escape from New York (1981)
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Europa Report (2013)
Event Horizon (1997)
Everything Must Go (2010)
The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
The Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness (1992)
Ex Machina (2015)
The Exorcist (1973)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
Falling Down (1993)
The Fantastic Planet <La planète sauvage> (1973)
Fargo (1996)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
A Few Good Men (1992)
The Fifth Element (1997)
Fight Club (1999)
Final Destination (2000)
Finding Nemo (2003)
First Snow (2006)
The Fisher King (1991)
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Flash Gordon (1980)
The Fly (1986)
The Fog (1980)
Following (1998)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Forbidden Planet (1956)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Forrest Gump (1994)
The Fourth Kind (2009)
Frailty (2001)
Frankenstein (1931)
Freejack (1992)
The French Connection (1971)
French Connection 2 (1975)
Frequency (2000)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
From Here to Eternity (1953)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Frost/Nixon (2008)
The Fugitive (1993)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The Full Monty (1997)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
The Game (1997)
Gandhi (1982)
Gangs of New York (2002)
Garden State (2004)
Gattaca (1997)
The Gauntlet (1977)
Get Carter (1971)
Get Shorty (1995)
Get the Gringo (2012)
The Getaway (1972)
Gettysburg (1993)
The Ghost Writer (2010)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
The Girl Next Door (2007)
The Girl Next Door (2004)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Gladiator (2000)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Glory (1989)
Go (1999)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather Part 2 (1974)
The Godfather Part 3 (1990)
Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla (1998)
Godzilla <Gojira> (1954)
GoldenEye (1995)
Goldfinger (1964)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Gone Girl (2014)
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Gone in Sixty Seconds 2: The Junkman (1982)
A Good Life <La Dolce Vita> (1960)
Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Goodfellas (1990)
Gosford Park (2001)
The Graduate (1967)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Grand Prix (1966)
Gravity (2013)
The Great Escape (1963)
The Green Mile (1999)
Green Zone (2010)
Gremlins (1984)
The Grey (2011)
The Grifters (1990)
Grindhouse (2007)
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Halloween (1978)
Hamburger Hill (1987)
Hang ‘Em High (1968)
The Hangover (2009)
Hard Candy (2005)
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
Harry Brown (2009)
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Heat (1995)
Heavy Metal (1981)
Hell’s Angels (1930)
Hellboy (2004)
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
Hero <Ying xiong> (2002)
High Anxiety (1977)
High Fidelity (2000)
High Noon (1952)
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Highlander (1986)
His Girl Friday (1940)
History of the World: Part 1 (1981)
A History of Violence (2005)
The Hobbit (1977)
The Hobbit 1: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
The Hobbit 3: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Horns (2013)
The Horseman (2008)
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Hot Shots! (1991)
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
How the West Was Won (1962)
The Hunger Games (2012)
The Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire (2013)
The Hunger Games 3: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
The Hunger Games 3: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
The Hunter (1980)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Hustler (1961)
I Heart Huckabees (2004)
I, Robot (2004)
Ice Station Zebra (1968)
Identity (2003)
Identity Thief (2013)
The Ides of March (2011)
In Cold Blood (1967)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
Inception (2010)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Independence Day (1996)
Indiana Jones 1: the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Indiana Jones 2: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Indiana Jones 3: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Indiana Jones 4: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Inherent Vice (2014)
Inside Man (2006)
Insomnia (2002)
Insomnia (1997)
Instinct (1999)
The Interpreter (2005)
Interstellar (2014)
Into the Wild (2007)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Invisible Man (1933)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
It Came from Outer Space (1953)
It Follows (2014)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
The Italian Job (2003)
J.F.K. (1991)
The Jackal (1997)
Jackie Brown (1997)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Jade (1995)
Jaws (1975)
Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Journey to the Center of Time (1967)
Juno (2007)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park 4: Jurassic World (2015)
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
Key Largo (1948)
Kick-Ass (2010)
Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
The Killers (1964)
The Killers (1946)
The Killing (1956)
King Kong (2005)
King Kong (1933)
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Kingpin (1996)
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
Kissing Jessica Stein (2001)
Knowing (2009)
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1982)
Kung Fu (2004)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Labyrinth (1986)
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Lake Placid (1999)
Lantana (2001)
The Last Action Hero (1993)
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
The Last Castle (2001)
The Last House on the Left (1972)
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Last Man Standing (1996)
The Last Samurai (2003)
Lawless (2012)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Laws of Attraction (2004)
A League of Their Own (1992)
Leatherheads (2008)
Legend (1985)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
The Lego Movie (2014)
Léon: The Professional <Léon> (1994)
Let Me In (2010)
Licence to Kill (1989)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Life of Brian (1979)
The Life of David Gale (2003)
Limitless (2011)
Lincoln (2012)
Little Caesar (1931)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Little Nicky (2000)
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Lives of Others <Das Leben der Anderen> (2006)
The Living Daylights (1987)
Loaded Weapon 1 (1993)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Logan’s Run (1976)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Looper (2012)
The Lord of the Rings 1: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Lord of the Rings 2: The Two Towers (2002)
The Lord of the Rings 3: The Return of the King (2003)
Lord of War (2005)
The Lost Boys (1987)
Love and Other Drugs (2010)
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Lust, Caution <Se, jie> (2007)
M (1931)
MacGruber (2010)
Machete (2010)
Machete Kills (2013)
The Machinist <El maquinista> (2004)
Mad Max (1979)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mad Max 4: Fury Road (2015)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Major Dundee (1965)
Maleficent (2014)
Mallrats (1995)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Maltese Falcon (1931)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Man on Fire (2004)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Man with No Name 1: A Fistful of Dollars <Per un pugno di dollari> (1964)
The Man with No Name 2: For a Few Dollars More <Per qualche dollaro in più> (1965)
The Man with No Name 3: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly <Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo> (1966)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Manhunter (1986)
Marathon Man (1976)
El mariachi (1992)
El Mariachi 2: Desperado (1995)
El Mariachi 3: Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
Married Life (2007)
Mars Attacks! (1996)
The Martian (2015)
The Mask (1994)
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Master of the Flying Guillotine <Du bi quan wang da po xue di zi> (1976)
The Matador (2005)
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix 2: Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix 3: Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
Mean Streets (1973)
Memento (2000)
Men in Black (1997)
The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
Metropolis (1927)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Millennium 1: the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo <Män som hatar kvinnor> (2009)
Millennium 2: the Girl Who Played with Fire <Flickan som lekte med elden> (2009)
Millennium 3: the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest <Luftslottet som sprängdes> (2009)
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Minority Report (2002)
Misery (1990)
Mission: Impossible (1996)
The Mist (2007)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Moon (2009)
Moonraker (1979)
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)
Mr. Baseball (1992)
Mr. Brooks (2007)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Mud (2012)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy (1932)
The Muppet Movie (1979)
The Muppets (2011)
Muppets from Space (1999)
Must Love Dogs (2005)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Mystery Men (1999)
The Naked City (1948)
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Naqoyqatsi: Life as War (2002)
Narc (2002)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Never So Few (1959)
Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Night and the City (1950)
The Night Comes Too Soon (1948)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Night Watch <Nochnoy dozor> (2004)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Nikita (1990)
Nine (2009)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Nomads (1986)
North by Northwest (1959)
Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror <Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens> (1922)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Octopussy (1983)
Odd Man Out (1947)
Office Space (1999)
The Omen (1976)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Once (2006)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Once Upon a Time in the West <C’era una volta il West> (1968)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Open Your Eyes <Abre los ojos> (1997)
The Osterman Weekend (1983)
The Other Guys (2010)
The Others (2001)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
The Panic Room (2002)
Papillon (1973)
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Parker (2013)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Patton (1970)
Paul (2011)
Payback (1999)
Paycheck (2003)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
Permanent Midnight (1998)
Pet Sematary (1989)
The Petrified Forest (1936)
Phantom of the Opera (1943)
Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)
Pirates of the Caribbean 1: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Planet Terror (2007)
Platoon (1986)
Playing God (1997)
Poison Ivy (1992)
Poltergeist (1982)
Poor White Trash (2000)
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
Powwaqatsi: Life in Transformation <Powaqqatsi> (1988)
Predestination (2014)
The Presidio (1988)
The Prestige (2006)
Priceless <Hors de prix> (2006)
Primal Fear (1996)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Prometheus (2012)
The Proposition (2005)
Psycho (1960)
Public Enemies (2009)
The Public Enemy (1931)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Punisher (1989)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Pushing Tin (1999)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Raging Bull (1980)
Rain Man (1988)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Ran (1985)
Rango (2011)
Re-Animator (1985)
Rear Window (1954)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
RED (2010)
RED 2 (2013)
Reign of Fire (2002)
Reindeer Games (2000)
The Replacement Killers (1998)
Repulsion (1965)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Retroactive (1997)
The Return of a Man Called Horse (1976)
Rififi <Du rififi chez les hommes> (1955)
The Right Stuff (1983)
The Ring (2002)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Risky Business (1983)
The Road (2009)
Road to Perdition (2002)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
RoboCop (1987)
Rock Star (2001)
RocknRolla (2008)
Rocky (1976)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Roger and Me (1989)
Roger Dodger (2002)
Romper Stomper (1992)
Ronin (1998)
The Rookie (2002)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Rounders (1998)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Run Lola Run <Lola rennt> (1998)
Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
Runaway Jury (2003)
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
The Saint (1997)
Satan Met a Lady (1936)
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Saw (2004)
Say Anything… (1989)
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Scanners (1981)
Scarface (1983)
Scarlet Street (1945)
Scary Movie (2000)
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Schindler’s List (1993)
The School of Rock (2003)
Scrooged (1988)
The Searchers (1956)
Seconds (1966)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Secretary (2002)
Serendipity (2001)
A Serious Man (2009)
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
Serpico (1973)
Session 9 (2001)
Seven (1995)
The Seven Samurai <Shichinin no samurai> (1954)
The Seventh Seal <Det sjunde inseglet> (1957)
The Seventh Sign (1988)
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
Shallow Grave (1994)
Shanghai Noon (2000)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
She’s Out of My League (2010)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
The Shining (1980)
Sicario (2015)
Sicko (2007)
Sideways (2004)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silent Movie (1976)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Sin City (2005)
Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Skyfall (2012)
Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)
Sling Blade (1996)
Small Soldiers (1998)
Smokin’ Aces (2006)
Snatch (2000)
Sneakers (1992)
The Social Network (2010)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Something Wild (1986)
Sorcerer (1977)
Sound City (2013)
Southland Tales (2006)
Spaceballs (1987)
Spartacus (1960)
Spectre (2015)
Spider-Man (2002)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spy Game (2001)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek 1: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock (1984)
Star Trek 8: First Contact (1996)
Star Trek 9: Insurrection (1998)
Star Trek: Beyond (2016)
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars Episode 5: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode 6: Return of The Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens (2015)
Stardust (2007)
Stargate (1994)
Stay Tuned (1992)
The Sting (1973)
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Stoker (2013)
Strange Days (1995)
The Stranger (1946)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Straw Dogs (1971)
Stripes (1981)
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Sunshine (2007)
Super 8 (2011)
Super Troopers (2001)
Superbad (2007)
Superman (1978)
Superman 2 (1980)
Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)
Superman 3 (1983)
Superman 4: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Superman Returns (2006)
Swingers (1996)
Switch (1991)
Syriana (2005)
The Tailor of Panama (2001)
Take the Money and Run (1969)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Tango and Cash (1989)
Tank (1984)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Teen Wolf (1985)
The Ten Commandments (1956)
The Terminator (1984)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
That Thing You Do! (1996)
There’s Something About Mary (1998)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
They Live (1988)
Thief (1981)
The Thing (1982)
Things to Come (1936)
The Third Man (1949)
Thirteen Days (2000)
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
¡Three Amigos! (1986)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Three Kings (1999)
Thumb Wars (1999)
Thunderball (1965)
THX 1138 (1971)
Time Bandits (1981)
Time Lapse (2014)
Titan A.E. (2000)
To Be or Not to Be (1983)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
To Die For (1995)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
Tom Horn (1980)
Tommy (1975)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Top Gun (1986)
Top Secret! (1984)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (1990)
Touch of Evil (1958)
The Tourist (2010)
The Town (2010)
Traffic (2000)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971)
Trainspotting (1996)
Trance (2013)
The Transporter (2002)
Transsiberian (2008)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
The Tree of Life (2011)
The Trial <Le procès> (1962)
TRON (1982)
TRON: Legacy (2010)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
True Grit (2010)
True Grit (1969)
True Romance (1993)
Truth or Consequences, N.M. (1997)
The Twelve Chairs (1970)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Twister (1996)
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
UHF (1989)
Unfaithful (2002)
Unforgiven (1992)
Universal Soldier (1992)
The Untouchables (1987)
Up (2009)
Up in the Air (2009)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
V for Vendetta (2005)
V.I. Warshawski (1991)
Vacation (1983)
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
The Vanishing <Spoorloos> (1988)
Vanishing Point (1971)
The Vault of Horror (1973)
Vertigo (1958)
Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)
Vidéodrome (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)
Virtuosity (1995)
Wag the Dog (1997)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Walk the Line (2005)
Wall-E (2008)
Wall Street (1987)
War, Inc. (2008)
WarGames (1983)
Watchmen (2009)
The Way of the Gun (2000)
Wayne’s World (1992)
We’re the Millers (2013)
Wedding Crashers (2005)
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Weird Science (1985)
Westworld (1973)
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
White Heat (1949)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Wild Things (1998)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Wolf (1994)
The Wolf Man (1941)
Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music (1970)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
The World’s End (2013)
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
The Wrestler (2008)
The X Files: Fight the Future (1998)
The X Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
X-Men 5: First Class (2011)
X-Men 6: Days of Future Past (2014)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
You’re Next (2011)
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Young and Innocent (1937)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Zodiac (2007)
Zombieland (2009)

21
Jul
16

Phone’s Ringin’: Ghostbusters Review

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I ain’t afraid of no Class Four apparitions…

Starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. Directed by Paul Feig

There are three tiers to remakes. Tier One consists of the ambivalent – remakes that someone at the studio green-lit because they were cheap to do. Very few people went to see the original movie and even fewer went to see the remake (or even KNEW it was a remake). Tier Two consists of the Endeared – those remakes that quite a few people saw Round One and who may or may not go to see the remake. Did “X” actor who starred in the original show up as the cabbie/old neighbor/guy at the bar/person espousing a quote? How much did it differ from the original? Do I like it better than the other(s)? These questions surround the production of the remake whether it’s “Gone In 60 Seconds,” “Sorcerer,” “Crimson Tide,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Total Recall,” “Judge Dredd,” etc. These are give/take movies and some prefer the remakes to the original and vice-versa. Finally, Tier Three – the Sacred. These are films which are slated for remake that the viewing public has put on a pedestal or elevated to such a height that no matter what the act of remaking the story is heresy. While I have not (presently) heard of any proposed remakes of “Green Mile” or “Shawshank Redemption” the viewing public has such a reverence for them that the jury has already decided before the trial has begun. Such is/was the case with the new “Ghostbusters” film. A collected confabulation makes us forget “Ghostbusters 2.” Or the animated series. Or Dan Akyroyd showing up in “Casper.” Or the video game. Like being delivered a gift from the top of the mountain fanboys have set the original as not the bar, but the rule with no exceptions. I am here to tell you this:

It was a fun movie. Get over it.

If you already hate the movie without seeing it there’s no way you’re going to have your opinion swayed. Here’s the rundown (*Spoilers ahead*)

Erin (Kristen Wiig) is a college professor working on achieving her tenure when the owner of a historical house (Ed Begley, Jr.) confronts her about her past. Specifically, that Erin co-wrote a book about ghosts with her then-friend/college roomie Abby (Melissa McCarthy). Peeved that Abbie broke her promise to never release the book to the public Erin pays her a visit.

We find Abby as part McCarthy schtick/part-Akyroyd and Ramis. She knows the science and believes in what she’s doing. Her cohort in crime in Jillian (McKinnon) is equal parts Akyroyd, Ramis, and Jeff Goldblum; she’s the engineering geek counterpart. Erin mentions the haunted historic house and all three are well on their way to experiencing their first ghost. After Erin’s professional reputation is destroyed via YouTube the three decide to form a ghost-searching alliance making their office in the floor above a Chinese restaurant (they couldn’t afford the firehouse). Along the way they hire on secretary/clerk Kevin (Hemsworth) and MTA worker Patty (Jones) who “knows New York.” Meanwhile, a hotel deskhop named Rowan (Neil Casey) is using Abby and Erin’s research to create a vortex of malevolent spirits to enslave the Big Apple.

Love it or hate it is the simplicity of the story. There are no real sub-stories; no love interests, no ulterior motives. What I enjoyed about the movie was that, as one reviewer put it, “it’s everything a blockbuster movie should be,” and that is completely true. Nevermind the seemingly thin plot; it’s about having fun at the movies and this movie, above others I have seen this year (with the exception of “Deadpool”) was the most fun I’ve had watching a movie in a while. The scene where the “Ghostbusters” go full action-movie slaying of ghosts is well warranted and worth it. In fact, McKinnon’s comically ambiguous character (and trust me, she’s pretty damn ambiguous) nearly steals the show. Nearly. Props go to Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor, Captain Kirk’s dad, etc.) who takes the stereotypical “dumb guy” seen in every-other female led film and plays it to the hilt; his interview scene alone is one of the funniest comedic interchanges I’ve ever watched. Doing this may allow more roles to open for him pending downtime from the Marvel movies. Wiig does a good enough job, McCarthy has toned-down her McCarthyism, and Leslie Jones doesn’t do too bad.

The main issue that plagues this movie, aside from the vitriol of purist fanboys, is the stigma “Ghostbusters” has attached to it. Had this been labeled anything else it would be the go-to movie of the summer. Sure, they do a few nods to the original but treat it with respect. Other than that the movie is cut-and-dried and as lean as possible which isn’t necessarily bad. Do I feel that this movie will have cinematic gravitas; ergo, that future generations will look at this film and raise it to the same pedestal as the original? No, but the sequel never hit that level either. And what of the fact that it may lead to more female-led remakes of other properties? Well, “Dracula” eventually had a black/African-American version called “Blacula.” “Barb Wire” was basically a remake of “Casablanca.” The Wayans Brothers even did their full-length remake of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Get over it; get a life.

Lastly, I will mention the spoiler of spoilers – yes, most of the cast from the original (sans Rick Moranis) make cameos ranging from a bust in a hallway to a noted parapsychologist trying to debunk their work, a cab driver, a hotel desk clerk, a funeral home owner and a mentoring scientist. I’ll let you figure out who is who.

My grade: C+/B-. It’s fun for the whole family.

30
Nov
15

Terminator: Genisys Is More Than a Land of Confusion

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Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emelia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, and J.K. Simmons. Directed by Alan Taylor

Gotta go back in time…

Having spent years growing up watching science fiction TV shows and movies I know most of the tropes and sub-genres: time-travel, aliens, special “powers,” body swapping, shrinking/supersizing people/animals, and the Fear of the Computer Overlords (among others). Time-travel and fear of technology have been the cornerstone of the “Terminator” franchise since the release of the first film in 1985. Everyone in my generation knows the story by heart: a restaurant waitress is unmercifully tracked down in (then) modern-day Los Angeles by a cyborg sent from the future to kill her, thus ceasing the human resistance. Her savior is a soldier by the name Kyle Reese sent from the future to protect and save her from the killing machine so she can give birth to the leader of the Resistance, one John Connor.

Before I go into detail about how this movie leaves the original two without a kiss, “thank you,” or Vaseline, let’s talk about time-travel. It’s difficult to get it right, even in the movies. The best example anyone can give would be the foreshadowed, “Back to the Future.” What if you went back in time, met your parents, and bungled them getting together? Also, how does one return to their present time in a DeLorean? “BTTF” looked at time as a singular string that you could remove yourself from and return to. “Back to the Future II” expanded on time-travel but changed aspects of time-travel to include alternate timelines (which is a subject for another day). Essentially, most movies of this type or trope bank on time itself being a single ribbon that only gets changed, not sprouting multiple other ribbons. Peppered down through the list are such films as “Millennium,” “TimeCop,” “Time Lapse,” “The Time Machine,” “Somewhere in Time,” “Predestination,” “Safety Not Guaranteed,” “Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home,” “Galaxy Quest,” “Time After Time…” I literally could go on about them. In each case there is at least one question that, if asked, would unravel the logic of the movie in one fell swoop. For instance: in “Back to the Future” Marty’s parents abstaining from being together nearly wipes out him, his brother and sister. However in “Back to the Future II” Biff steals the DeLorean and goes back to 1955 to give his younger self Gray’s Sports Almanac, which leads to 1985 being ruled by Biff, but the 2015 Biff left from does not change around Marty, Jennifer, or Doc. Heavy. “Terminator: Genisys” is no exception.

Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

Okay, I’ve only watched the movie once so if it sounds confusing to you it’s even moreso when you watch the film. It’s the future and Resistance is fighting back against the SkyNet computer-controlled landscape. Humans are kept in pens like animals as the machines rule. Upon finding out plans for a new threat the Resistance is able to send back one soldier, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), to protect Sarah Connor from being terminated.

Got it? This is where the stories diverge.

After SkyNet sends back a T-100 resistance soldier Kyle Reese (Jason Clarke) jumps in to follow it back to 1984. Before leaving John Connor is compromised by a new type of Terminator. Upon arriving in 1984 Reese finds that his mission has now been changed: SkyNet sent back a Terminator to kill Sarah (Emelia Clarke) when she was 9 years old in 1973 and was saved by a reprogrammed T-800 (Schwarzenegger, reprising his role). Note: no mention of this occurs elsewhere in the movie. It’s now been 11 years since that has happened and she knows of the storyline and is waiting for Reese to show, which he does. Unbeknownst to them ANOTHER Terminator, a T-1000, was sent to kill Kyle Reese, Sarah Connor, and any other person or thing that would help the original storyline come true. Meanwhile, the T-100 Ah-nuld is walking around the Griffith Observatory naked and is confronted by T-800 Ah-nuld. A fight ensues and the T-100 is killed. One down…

Reese is saved by Sarah and the T-800. She quickly relays to him that the timeline has now been changed. She’s closer to the “T2” Linda Hamilton Sarah Connor than original waitress-turned- commando Hamilton. I guess training from the age of 9-forward to be a Resistance fighter IS a certain kind of Boot Camp… Sarah doesn’t want to tell Kyle they have to “get it on” in order for John Connor to be the leader of the Resistance and holds out most of the movie from letting him know. But that’s not important right now – they have to get to 2017. Reese has been having dreams that run on an alternate timeline and he’s being sent a message: destroy Genisys. Realizing it was a giant, time-sucking, all-encompassing software package across multiple platforms and used by desktops, tablets, and smartphones that would become sentient (sound familiar to anything?) they must know follow Reese’s pieces of dreams and be sent to 2017 San Francisco.

Arriving naked on a highway overpass in the middle of the night they are taken to the hospital and into custody where Detective O’Brien (Simmons) regales about meeting them in 1984. The T-800 is hunting them down only to be preceded by John Connor who went back to 2014. Why? Right as Reese was leaving a “new” Terminator grabbed Connor before wiping out the rest of the Resistance. The Machines were able to change John on a molecular level making him as much human as machine, but to do their bidding and what better way to do this than sending him back in time to a point where the technology was developing enough to create new Machines, etc. Now T-800 (“Pops”), Sarah, and Reese must not only save 2017, but the rest of the world.

Make sense? Maybe on paper but not really. “Genisys” is 1/3 nostalgia and 2/3 confusion. This “re-purposing” of the “Terminator” franchise is an exercise in futility. My “Bullshit!” meter went off so constantly that I just gave up trying to enjoy the film and waited for the ending to be played out. And what did we (as an audience) learn? Yes, you can save the day and tomorrow may be brighter but eventually the machines will kill us all. Hasn’t that been the moral of every one of the films?

Praise for Emilia Clarke in wanting to channel her inner “T2” Hamilton. She had a tough job to “reconstruct” and the only other person I see who could’ve came close would be an actress like Michelle Rodriguez. Jason Clarke as Kyle Reese is less intense and more stupefied and has little chemistry with Emilia. Jai Courtney is great as a more fully-realized John Connor and is the fifth actor to portray him. And Ah-nuld is… Arnold. He was having fun and cashing a check.

If you were reading into what I said above then here’s that point where “Terminator: Genisys” can be unraveled: if the machines had just sent the T-100 back for the first time, which was then followed by Kyle Reese being sent back (both to 1984), AND the new Terminator just took control of John Connor as Reese was out the door… when was the T-1000 sent to 1984? Or the Terminator sent to kill Sarah Connor in 1973? Or when did the Resistance get a T-800 reprogrammed to kill the T-100 sent back to 1973? Or when did… I’ll stop. You get the point.

My grade: a head-scratching WTF. Or, D. Recommendation: not really but if you want, Redbox/Netflix/cable watch it.

 

16
Nov
15

Did ‘Spectre’ Stand a Ghost of a Chance?

spectre

Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux, and Andrew Scottt.

Directed by Sam Mendes

ME: “Dad, what do you think of the new ‘Bond’ movies?”

DAD: “Well, the stories kinda suck.”

ME: “What do you think of Daniel Craig as Bond?”

DAD: “He’s good but I wished they had retired the character after he [Albert Broccoli] died.”

True conversation.

Not too far from the premiere weekend crowd I watched “Spectre,” the much-anticipated sequel/next-installment of the James Bond franchise, last Tuesday. Oh, boy. Is it entirely disappointing? Is it worth the price? Read on.

I can honestly say that I’ve grown up watching Bond but from the viewpoint of a different side of Bond: the post-Dalton/Pierce Brosnan Bond. While Timothy Dalton played a grittier, more “real” side of James Bond (far from the suave Roger Moore Bond) Brosnan’s Bond was one now having to compete with the feminist 90s giving him smart female counterparts that were either Bond girls or even M herself (Judi Dench took over the traditionally male role of ‘M’ in “GoldenEye”). Famke Janssen, Michelle Yeoh, Sophie Marceau, Halle Berry were all strong, independent female characters to the counteract James Bond and while the latter two Brosnan movies left a lot to be desired (namely a decent story) the actors and characters they played stood out and above the source material. However, “Die Another Day” was the death-knell for Brosnan’s Bond.

His successor, as you now know, was Daniel Craig. With the reboot/remake/origin movies being the way Hollywood was going it was only fitting that Craig start BEFORE “00” status as Bond “rough around the edges” Craig’s portrayal was a breath of fresh air for the franchise and washed out the bad taste in our mouth left from the fourth Brosnan feature. Here was a new Bond before being suave, using gadgets, guns, cars, women… this was the indoctrination of a character with over 20 films of history and we were more than glad to have him. While “Casino Royale” shifted the direction of the wind being blown to keep Bond sailing, “Quantum of Solace” was a dead calm of a “sequel.” The director and producers failed to learn the lessons of “License to Kill” in that James Bond is NOT a character out for vengeance but the “savior” of queen and country. Trying for a different wind director Sam Mendes was brought in for the third venture, “Skyfall,” which proved to be even better than “Casino Royale” and made us almost forget about “Quantum…” With the audience and critical acclaim of “Skyfall” Mendes returned for the latest venture, “Spectre,” and unfortunately succumbed to tripping the trope fantastic.

Warning. Spoilers ahead.

“The dead are alive…” are the first words greeting us as we pan into a crowd in Mexico City on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). James Bond (Craig) and a companion are masked and moving through the crowded celebration. Once behind closed doors Bond goes on “personal assignment” which ends in a building being demolished and an overly long fight inside a helicopter over the crowd. Back in England Bond answers to M’s (Fiennes) interrogation saying that he was on “holiday.” M is furious and puts Bond on suspension before having to face James Bond Trope #1: The not-so-secret spy agency is in imminent threat of being dissolved. Ever since “GoldenEye” someone working for the British government keeps asking “Why is Bond even out there? Isn’t the Cold War over? Do we even need spies?” etc. It never fails. The best response given was Judi Dench as M saying, “He’s doing his job!” Again, this has been going on for 20 years only this time M is finding that a new security agency, CNS, is bringing together all technology to be the eyes and ears of the intelligence agency without having to leave home and Bond’s vacation may have caused their time to be cut even more.

Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) are secretly being utilized by Bond to uncover a massive, secret organization. His reasoning? Cinematic Trope #2: a character leaves the main protagonist information saying, “If something happens to me, then, this…” M (Dench) left such a message for Bond to hunt down and kill one Marco Sciarra (Allesandro Cremona). Bond sneaks out of England, finds Mrs. Sciarra (Bellucci), hooks up for the night (Bond Trope #3), and infiltrates a Spectre town-hall meeting before barely getting out alive. Realizing that he recognized the guy running the meeting we’re now taken to…

The residence of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), the most common thread of all of the Craig Bond films. Apparently Mr. White is on the outs with Spectre (unclear if it was a matter or conscience or being behind with dues) and gives up info on his daughter before “checking out.” Continuing the quest for vengeance we go to…

An upscale office building somewhere in/around the Alps were estranged daughter Madeleine Swann (Seydoux) works. Bond introduces himself, she gets captured (Trope #4) and even though she’s lived her life being the daughter of a spy/assassin she does little more than keep herself from being drugged via syringe. Wait, she saves Bond’s life a little later (Trope #5: Being knocked down doesn’t necessarily mean knocked-out) and they fall in love with as little chemistry as possible (Trope #6?)

Meanwhile, back in England…

The all-seeing, all-knowing new privately-funded security network is about to go live. The “00” program has been disbanded. Bond is now rogue and M refuses to help as CNS can here/see/read everything transmitted. Bond is rogue. And now we go back to the middle of the desert in North Africa were Bond and Swann encounter…

The villain’s secret lair (feel free to pronounce that a la Dr. Evil). Standing outside giant circle in the middle of the desert Bond and Swann are greeted and taken into the head of Spectre, one Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Waltz). James’s history is exposed as we find that when his parents died a man adopted him and he became the step-brother. The step-brother purportedly died in an avalanche as well as his father only to come back as Blofeld (mom’s last name). The avalanche was no accident; Blofeld killed his dad in retaliation for getting a step-brother. Rough.

That’s as far as I’m going with the story. You know James Bond is going to survive/win; nothing new under the sun there. My complaints are: checking off the tropes just to advance the story, action sequences that just ran too long, under use of Monica Bellucci, a boring story, and a lackluster movie theme, Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On the Wall.” On the plus side when the humor works it works and Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw get to do more stuff. The opening segment is reminiscent of “Touch of Evil” and is one of the coolest Bond openings for Craig and company, if not overall. The beginning is good, the middle struggles and is drawn out, but the end was really good.

My grade: C

 

25
Sep
15

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-Chas A.