Posts Tagged ‘films



14
Nov
08

Movies With (a) Vengeance

While it has been busy here at the Film Guys Online / Chasfilm Productions Office of Cinematic Research proudly brings you

 

TOP TEN REVENGE MOVIES

 

once_upon_a_time_in_the_west“Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) – Charles Bronson stars as Harmonica, a man with a mysterious past who arrives in Flagstone, AZ. He walks into a situation involving a guy named Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and Jill (Claudia Cardinale), a woman whose family she married into had been murdered by Frank (Henry Fonda), a “gun for hire” via railroad tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti). To find out what Harmonica is doing there, and why he plays one, ya gotta catch this movie.

 

get_carter“Get Carter” (1971) – Jack Carter (Michael Caine) is a London mobster who finds out this his brother Frank had died. Carter believes his brother had been murdered and sets out to uncover the truth. As he delves deeper, other mob thugs close in as he finds that his niece was part of an amateur porn film and Frank was killed trying to protect her. Easily one of the most ruthless films ever made, and a great watch.

 

 

death_wish“Death Wish” (1974) – Charles Bronson is architect Paul Kersey. When his wife is Joanna (Hope Lange) is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted by muggers, Paul decides to deliver some vigilante justice. Based on the book by Brian Garfield, the movie spawned 4 sequels and was the inspiration for the movie, “The Brave One” (with Jodie Foster.

 

 

crow“The Crow” (1994) – Rockstar Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his wife are murdered in Detroit on Devil’s Night. A full year later Eric returns to the land of the living, having superhuman strength and invincibility, exacting revenge on the gang who murdered him and his wife. One of the best films that Brandon Lee did was unfortunately his last; a prop gun misfired, killing him.

 

 

braveheart“Braveheart” (1995) – William Wallace was a kid when the English murdered his father and 11 others. He went away and returned, vowing to push the English out of Scotland and earn independence for all Scots. Mel Gibson acted as well as directed this movie, loosely based on the life of the real William Wallace.

 

 

 

desperado“Desperado” (1995) – A sequel to “El Mariachi,” Robert Rodriguez directed the further adventure of a mariachi player with a guitar case full of guns. This time around, Antonio Banderas plays the main character, with Salma Hayek helping him exact revenge on Bucho. “I am looking for a man named Bucho. That’s all. But you had to do it the hard way.”

 

 

payback“Payback” (1999) – Based on the book, “The Hunter,” by Donald E. Westlake, Mel Gibson played Porter, a gangster shot and left for dead by his partner Val (Gregg Henry) and ex-wife Lynn (Deborah Unger). After the bullets are pulled out of his back, Porter is off and looking for his half of the money: $70,000. Blocking his path to the money are crooked cops, the Chinese Triads, and the leader of the Outfit (Kris Kristoferson), whom Val works for. This was originally made in 1967 as “Point Blank,” starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Carroll O’Connor, and John Vernon.

 

memento“Memento” (2000) – What if you were trying to get revenge on the guy who killed your wife and gave you brain damage, but you could only remember what happened for 6-15 minutes at a time before you forgot it? San Fran insurance investigator Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce) finds himself with that problem in an indie film directed by Christopher Nolan. As the films goes from black and white, past to present, you’ll find yourself putting clues together and feeling a lot like Lenny. Also stars Joe Pantaliano

 

kill_bill1“Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2” (2003/2004) – Quentin Tarantino and star Uma Thurman concocted this 2-part movie about The Bride (Thurman), a woman left for dead after her wedding “rehearsal.” Waking up in a hospital 4 years later, she tracks down each of her assassins (fellow members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), working her way to the master Bill (David Carradine). Fellow Vipers are Vivica Fox, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, and Michael Madsen.

 

bourne_supremacy1“The Bourne Supremacy” (2004) – The sequel to “The Bourne Identity” finds Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) living with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India. When an assassin tries killing Bourne, his girlfriend pays the price and Bourne comes out from hiding. Unfortunately, he’s being framed for crimes he didn’t commit. He now has to clear his name and piece together important fragments of his memory.

02
Sep
08

In Passing… Don LaFontaine (1940-2008)

Wow. This one is another that shocked me.

 

Voice-over talent Don LaFontaine passed away yesterday afternoon from complications with Pneumothorax. He was 68 years old. LaFontaine is best known as “The Voice”; he has provided his voice to over 750,000 TV spots as well as over 5,000 movie trailers. Since the mid-1960’s he has been the narration for trailers, creating the formula and the famous opening words “In a world…” His notoriety came in the late Nineties when he began doing commercials for Hollywood Video and more recently, Geico. He will be missed.

 

For more information, check out his website at:

http://www.donlafontaine.com

 

Thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.

 

 

 

05
Aug
08

A Primer for the Indies: Ten Must Watch Independent Films

After a small break, the Film Guys Online / Chasfilm Productions Office of Cinematic Research brings you the

 

TOP TEN MUST WATCH INDEPENDENT FILMS

 

Note: This is a “primer” for watching indie movies. It was difficult coming up with the right ten, but it’s just my opinion, right?

 

10. “Sling Blade” (1996 ) – Billy Bob Thornton was just a supporting actor when he plucked his money down and came up with this tale of a mentally-challenged guy named Carl who is released from the mental hospital. Walking back to his hometown he befriends a kid and his mom, whom he tries protecting them from the mom’s boyfriend (Dwight Yoakum). Thornton was and probably is the first Billy Bob to win an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

 

9. “Reservoir Dogs” (1992 ) – Sure, he’s better known for “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill,” and “Jackie Brown,” but I still enjoy “Reservoir Dogs.” This film, based on the Honk Kong action flick “City on Fire,” is about a jewel heist gone wrong. Starring Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn, Michael Madsen, Lawrence Tierney and even QT himself, this is arguably one of the best independent gangster movies. And once you’ve watched it, you’ll never think of the song “Stuck in the Middle with You,” in the same way again.

 

8. “Trainspotting” (1996 ) – Danny Boyle’s follow-up to “Shallow Grave” gave us this UK story of Scottish folk on the score for heroin and other drugs and how their lives turn upside down. It introduced those of us here, “across the pond,” to Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle. This movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Boyle would go on to direct “28 days later,” Ewan would become “Obi Wan Kenobi,” and Carlyle would be seen in another indie favorite, “The Full Monty.”

 

7. “Swingers” (1996 ) – “You’re money, baby.” Directed by Doug Liman and written by Jon Favreau, “Swingers” is a look at a group of wannabe actors trying to break into the Hollywood scene. The film ushered the above catchphrase into the culture’s vernacular and re-introduced swing dancing to the masses. Liman would go on to direct “Go,” and “The Bourne Identity,” Favreau would later direct, “Iron Man,” and Vince Vaughn would become a leading man in films such as “The Break-Up,” and “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

 

6. “Boondock Saints” (1999 )– Once I bought this film on DVD, I loved it. “Boondock Saints” is about two brothers (played by Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus) who become the “protectors” of their neighborhood as the Russian mob tries to slowly take it over. They are being tracked/ watched by effete FBI agent Paul Smecker (Willem Dafoe). The coolest part of the film is when Dafoe’s character actively “describes” how different events took place.

 

5. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004 ) – Ever have a girlfriend/ boyfriend that you wanted to erase from your memory? Check out this tale from director Michael Gondry about a guy (Jim Carrey) whose girlfriend (Kate Winslet) erases him from her memory. When he goes to do likewise, he finds that he’s made a mistake and tries to stop the erasure from completing. Also stars Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Wilkinson. It won an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

 

4. “Brick” (2005 ) – “Lunch is a lot of things. Lunch is complicated.” Take Dashiell Hammett dialog and put it in a modern SoCal High School environment where Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is investigating the mess his ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin) has gotten into. Once she is found dead, Brendan is inside a maelstrom of drugs, thugs, and assorted low-lives. Hardboiled noir has never been better. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is best known for playing Tommy in “3rd Rock from the Sun.”

 

3. “Snatch” (2000 ) – A search for a caravan (trailer) leads to two unlicensed boxing promoters into a madcap tale involving a diamond as large as your fist, a compulsive gambler named Franky Four-Fingers (Benicio del Toro), a jeweler named Doug the Head, and a Pikey bare-knuckles boxing champ named Mickey O’Neil (Brad Pitt). Great editing, soundtrack, and comedy make this a must-see. This film propelled stars Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham.

 

2. “Gone Baby Gone” (2007 ) – Ben Affleck’s directorial debut of Dennis Lehane’s novel about a little girl missing from her crack-addict mother and the cover-up of the disappearance was nothing short of impressive. Of all the indie films of 2007, this was my favorite. Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, and John Ashton, this movie is worth it for the cast alone. Of note, Amy Ryan’s Boston accent was so convincing that a security guard kept her from entering the filming lot; a fellow actor had to let her in.

 

1. “Memento” (2000 ) – “Remember Sammy Jankis.” With these words tattooed on his skin, former insurance fraud investigator Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is on the hunt for his wife’s killer, one “John G.” Problem is, his memory only lasts for 15 minutes and he can’t create any new memories. His only kinship comes from “Teddy” (Joe Pantoliano) and “Natalie” (Carrie-Anne Moss), both Leonard has trouble trusting. Director Christopher Nolan’s indie opus cost $300,000 to make, and he raised the money while showing his film “The Following.” After “Memento,” Nolan signed a contract with Warner Bros. and has since directed, “Insomnia,” “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige,” and “The Dark Knight.”

09
Jun
08

Five, Top Five: My Fave Bond Films

“Goldfinger” (1965) – Following “Dr. No,” “Goldfinger” was Sean Connery’s second outing as Bond in a film that, in my opinion, was far better. Bond deals with megalomaniac Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), who plans to contaminate the gold at Fort Knox, with the help of his assistant (with the razor Bowler hat) Oddjob (Harold Sakata) and private pilot Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). Besides becoming the measure of Bond films and inciting homages/clichés, this film has one of the most memorable cinematic scenes: Bond is strapped to a lead table with a laser cutting towards his genitals. He exclaims, “Do you expect me to talk?” Goldfinger (walking away) stops and replies, “No Mister Bond, I expect you to die.” Classic.

Useless trivia: the replica of Fort Knox is currently house in the Patton Museum, located in Fort Knox. Also, Gert Frobe could not speak English. He mouthed/said the words to the best of his ability and someone else supplied the voice for Goldfinger.

 

“The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974) – Roger Moore was Bond this time around and like my previous selection, this was Moore’s second Bond film (“Live and Let Die” the first). Bond is sent to track down Scaramanga (my FAVORITE Bond Villain, played by Christopher Lee), an assassin who kills for a million bucks-a-pop with a single bullet made from gold with the target’s name on it. Although he has a third nipple, Scaramanga has done well for himself in keeping posh surroundings on a private island with midget security force of Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize). Bond travels to meet Scaramanga and their ensuing fight is in a surrealistic room.

Useless trivia: the room where Scaramanga killed his victims was designed by Surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

 

“The Living Daylights” (1987) – My favorite Bond movie of all time, “TLD” marked the beginning Bond movie for Timothy Dalton (whose Bond career would finish with “License to Kill”). When Russian agent Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe) wants to defect to the West, he enlists the help of British Intelligence to get him out, asking for Bond especially. Bond is sent to kill an “assassin” who turns out to be Koskov’s girlfriend (Maryam d’Abo). Taking her along for the ride they cross continents pursuing Koskov and finding out that he’s working with washed-up American arms dealer General Whittaker (Joe Don Baker). This was hands down one of the best Bond stories. Favorite quote: “We have nothing to declare.” “Except this cello!”

Useless trivia: Timothy Dalton was originally cast for the role. He was working on “Brenda Starr,” and pulled out. Producers then went to Pierce Brosnan who wanted to do it, but contractual obligations with “Remington Steele” forbade him from participating. The Producers went back to Dalton who was delayed in working on “Brenda Starr,” which allowed for him to be able to film.

 

“Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) – Another example of an actor’s second Bond outing being better than the first. This time Pierce Brosnan was able to helm the superspy as he went against megalomaniac media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) whose plan for world domination was by controlling the news, and by inciting a war between China and Britain. Helping Bond to save the world is Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese secret agent who can hold her own and whose gadgets can go against Q’s any day. Throw in better action sequences than “GoldenEye,” Terri Hatcher as a “Bond girl,” and one of the best Bond themes (done by Sheryl Crow) this is another of the Best Bond movies (with the exception of the villain).

Useless trivia: This was the first movie produced by Barbara Broccoli, wife of Albert Broccoli. Albert passed away after the release of “GoldenEye.”

 

“Casino Royale” (2006) – Not to be confused with the 1967 “Casino Royale” (taking the title and James Bond name) but more in line with the 1954 TV version, Bond went blonde with actor Daniel Craig. Needing to “re-boot” the franchise after the failures of “The World is not Enough,” and “Die Another Day,” “Casino Royale” was the blood-transfusion the cinema doctor ordered. Craig played the pre-Bond: no gadgets, no fancy one-lines, non-suave, and definitely rough around the edges. He teams up with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to prevent Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a banker to world terrorist groups, from winning at the Casino Royale. With non-stop action sequences (I almost needed an oxygen tank to watch it in the theater) and a great theme by Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame) I can’t recommend this movie enough.

Useless trivia: Daniel Craig is the only actor to play James Bond who was not alive when “Dr. No” was released. In fact, being born in 1968, he missed the releases of “From Russia With Love,” Goldfinger,” “Thunderball,” and “You Only Live Twice.” It is possible that his parents took him to see “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (w/ George Lazenby.

08
Jun
08

Ode to Days of Video Rental Past

Watching everything change suddenly (although this stuff was coming) I wanted to take a moment and reflect on what it was like growing up with video stores for those who can remember, and those who will probably never know. Here we go:

 

I lived in a small town outside a larger city (that city being Louisville). It was more of a suburban town that some envisioned rural existence that we all allude to, but it was pretty close to that, too. I remember the small video store we had in a small strip mall. In the days when Blockbuster wasn’t in the small towns chains like Roadrunner Video existed and they were nothing more than white walls with scattered videos, and an occasional poster adding a sense of decoration to the place. A constant was the New Release wall, which was consistently rented out.

 

Once you went to rent something, the cashier/clerk pulled out a “card catalog” that had your name somewhere in it. You presented your laminated card, paid your money, and had the movie returned in the next day or two or late fees would accrue (part of the reason for your name on the index card I think). And the card was not digitized; basically, the name of the video store, your signature, and it was laminated.

 

As for getting new releases, good luck. I remember when “Back to the Future 3” came out on video. I had to wait a week before there was a copy available. For whatever reasons “new releases” were limited. Some people waited a month before even considering renting something new.

 

Another service of the video stores was the rental of VCRs. If you couldn’t afford a VCR, or you were going on a trip, you could always pop down to the video store and see if they had any VCRs to rent with the movies you wanted to watch.

 

Should you have lost or misplaced the movie you rented, you were pretty much screwed. Video stores charged at least $99 for a replacement of the movie you lost.

 

By the late Nineties, I worked as a CSR for Hollywood Video. DVD’s were just beginning, so there was still a gigantic amount of VHS tapes. People dropped off their tapes and we’d put three at a time into the videocassette rewinders. We refused to rent to someone whose late fees were enormous.

 

There used to be “screener” copies of movies. Basically, we would get the “screener” copy about a month or two before it came out on video and we rented them from management with the 1-2 day return policy. Any time you watched these, the words “Screener copy -not for sale etc.” appeared on the bottom about every few minutes while you were watching the movie. The Heads of the company did this so when someone came in asking how the movie was, we would be able to tell them. Now, I think they either lie or just say, “I don’t know.” Something HV instituted was the fact that employees could not rent New Releases during their first two weeks. Unless we saw the screener, we either lied or simply stated that we didn’t know.

 

And, people will rent anything. ANYTHING. If you had a movie of Pierce Brosnan sitting on a park bench next to a flaming bag of dog crap, people would watch it (now, they would put it on YouTube and forward it to their friends). Where else but the video market can you find a movie where Burt Reynolds and Ice-T starred together? If at any time you wondered where such-and-such actor went, go to the video store; they’re still working.

 

The first month or so working at the store was pretty cool. I would go to work at six and be home sometime around 1 or 2 in the morning. Waking up around noon I would pop in a movie then kill some time before going back to work; it was a great way to catch up on stuff I had never seen.

 

Speaking of watching stuff outside of work, while at work we had to put on G/PG fare. I can tell you that I’ve heard “Mulan” about a million times, but have never watched more than thirty seconds. True story. One night I put in a “Best of the Muppet Show,” and all of us died laughing when we watched Viking Muppets torch and pillage a village, all to the tune of “In the Navy.”

 

And yes, we had our share of theft. The worst occurred when the movie “Virus” came out. We had a lot of copies walk out. Our thought was: if you’re going to steal a movie, why not steal a GOOD one?

 

Just a trip down video lane,

-Chas