Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Killing (1956) review


Even for this film being one of Kubrick's early works, it still screams his essence in each scene, with a clever plot and iconic scenes together.

PLOT:Mastermind Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) has done some time in the past and is now home with his wife (Coleen Gray). However, he once again plans to commit a crime and knock off a horse track with the help of some fellow companions. The companions include the likes of the $5 bookie, George Peatty (Elisha Cook, Jr.), the track bartender, Mike O'Reilly (Joe Sawyer), gun salesman, Nikki Arane (Timothy Carey) and many others. It seems like the perfect crime, but George's wife, Sherry (Mary Windsor), and her lover (Vince Edwards) get involved and things get mixed up. It's a good plot idea executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The acting can get kind of basic in some parts, but overall it was pretty great. Sterling Hayden played a very sufficient lead as the mastermind; however, his part didn't get real good until the crime is committed. The other shiners would have to be Elisha Cook, Jr. as George Peatty, Timothy Carey as Nikki, Mary Windsor as Sherry, and Jay C. Flippen as Marvin Unger.

SCORE:The score was pretty basic as well, but it fit the mood very well and actually wasn't a generic burden as some other basic scores can be.

CAMERAWORK:Even though this is one of Kubrick's first films, his type of camerawork is present in here. He caught some very nice shots with a lot of his usual style present. For an early start, he did very well.

OTHER CONTENT:This is one of Kubrick's first films, but that doesn't mean it's one of his weaker films by far. The plot is very well thought-out, as every aspect of the crime is tied up cleverly. The script has some very nice dialogue in it, but it is Kubrick, so what can you expect? This film is also pretty iconic from the robbery scene, in which the lead puts on a clown mask to protect his identity, and from the finale in the airport with the suitcase. This is truly one of the best classic gangster films. However, it does have its faults. One thing I found kind of flawed with the film is the character development; there is little. What we find out is presented to us in a weak manner as we are just plunged into the whole robbery story. If there had been a bit more character development, the characters would have seemed more real to us. Also flawed with this film is that some of the way its filmed comes off as cheesy. It does include some typical gangster personalities and situations, including the narration, that cause it to come off as a bit cheesy: just a bit, not too much to be considered bad.

OVERALL,a great Kubrick film with a brilliantly-executed plot, basic and great acting, well-fitting score, Kubrick's usual camerawork, thought-out plot twists, a well-written script, and a few choice iconic scenes, but there is poor character development and a few cheesy aspects to the film.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) review


This iconic horror/sci-fi still remains a classic even today for its dated suspense and terror.

PLOT:After finding a fossil of a monster-like hand in the Amazon, Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) unites with couple David Reed (Richard Carlson) and Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams) with fellow scientist, Mark Williams (Richard Denning), to form an expedition party to dig up the rest of the fossil. However, they discover when they get there that the rest is nowhere to be found. They form a hypothesis that the soil may have eroded and been dragged down river with the fossil. This leads them to the Black Lagoon, where it's rumored that no one has returned. While searching there, they get more when they bargained for when they find the creature: a living version of thier fossil. The creature immediately falls in love with Kay and decides to terrorize the crew. It's a good plot executed well for its time.

ACTING:The acting in here is pretty good. I'd say that Julie Adams stole the screen as Kay Lawrence her beauty and terror both shine in here as she flees from the creature. Carlson also does a pretty good job as David as he takes control of the screen as our brave hero. The other shiners were Antonio Moreno as Dr. Carl Maia and Nestor Paiva as Lucas. I actually believe this was one of Richard Denning's lesser roles. He just didn't do the job for me.

SCORE:The score kind of got on my nerves. It was mainly just mood-fitting horror score, but it got on my nerves when they kept playing the same theme over and over again whenever the creature appeared.

EFFECTS:The effects used on the creature may be dated now, but I find it still an unsettling sight to see it in its entirety. Sure, it's a big human fish, but it still looks a bit creepy. For its time, these effects were considered pretty well done. It's still a freaky scene to see that monsterish hand creeping through the porthole of the boat.

OTHER CONTENT:This is one horror movie that everyone should know by sight. It's very iconic; the music, the setting, and the monster itself are all very well-known among cinephiles and some casual movie-watchers alike. Also, the movie is still very suspenseful and memorable, not to mention well-shot with the camera. However, it is still just a B-movie that time wasn't particularly good to. It's cheesy, dated, and not as scary as it was back then. It does have its highlights, but I feel its time has passed along with it. I actually believe if the right mind remade this movie, it would be pretty great. Yet, I am not film director, so it may be better left alone.

OVERALL,a good horror movie with a good plot, good acting, annoying score, still-unsettling effects, iconic aspects not forgotten, lots of suspense, and memorable scenes, but it's cheesy, dated, and left in its time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Moulin Rouge (2001) review


Everybody has been trying to get me to see this, and now I now why. It's creative, odd, unique, and overall spectacular.

PLOT:In the old days of the 1890s, young Christian (Ewan McGregor) leaves his father and his teachings to move to France and become a writer. While there, he meets and bunks with a man with a passion for the theatre, Toulouse (John Leguizamo). Toulouse shows him around to all the sights, from drinking abstinthe to a world of sex only found at the local club, the Moulin Rouge. This club is founded by an eccentric businessman named Harold Zilder (Jim Broadbent), who puts his prize girl, Satine (Nicole Kidman), up to sleep with the Duke of Worcester (Richard Roxburgh) so he can get an investment in some way. However, in a twist of events, our young writer is accidentally taken as the Duke and is taken to her room later that night. Later that night when she finds out it was a mistake, Satine has to cover up their newly-formed love story (he pours his heart out about his poetry and sings to her) by getting everybody involved in the play Christian's writing. Things start to go downhill when the Duke is signed over the play rights, as well as Christian and Satine trying to keep thier love story secret. Also, something seems to be up with Satine's health that may not be good at all. It's a great plot idea executed uniquely.

ACTING:The acting in here was brilliant! McGregor and Kidman stole the show as Christian and Satine. I could feel thier emotional turns and sadness with real tears. I believe this is one love story that will live for a while. The other shiners would be Jim Broadbent as Zilder, John Leguizamo as Toulouse, Jacek Koman as the Unconscious Argentinian, and the cameo of Kylie Minogue as the Green Fairy.

SCORE:The soundtrack is one of the best and most memorable parts about this movie. The soundtrack is mainly made up of several love songs and period-accurate adaptations of more modern songs. Some of the songs covered include songs by the Beatles, KISS, Nirvana, The Police, Madonna, and many others. Overall I'd say the soundtrack kicked some tail.

OTHER CONTENT:This was a very different movie for me. Everything about it had a certain kind of style that reminded me much of how a stage play would be executed. It was literally like I was inside a huge trip. One thing I really liked about this movie was the editing. Like Aronofsky in Requiem, this director (Baz Luhrmann) has a certain style of editing that makes this movie very unique and way different from everything else. However, this type of editing and direction also posed a problem; the plot execution suffered from being a bit uneven. I know it's a love story, but the fact that it can be goofy one moment and sad the next just doesn't agree with me, as that of the Lovely Bones. I will say though that I did cry at the end, and this movie also reminded me a lot of other musicals (Rocky Horror) along the way.

OVERALL,a great musical romance with a great plot, brilliant acting, butt-kicking score, a different style as that of a play, a trippy effect, a unique type of editing and direction, a sad ending, and reminiscence of other musicals, but the unique style of direction made it seem a little bit too uneven for me to fully enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) review


I don't know why I didn't like this that much, aside from the several ways it's different from its source.

PLOT:After getting in a shipwreck off a boat headed to a hunt, world-renowned hunter, Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) swims to a mysterious island where he finds a castle lead by a Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks), a Russian Cossack that has also has a passion for the hunt. While there, Rainsford also discovers two more shipwreck survivors, heavy-drinking Martin Trowbridge (Robert Armstrong) and his beautiful sister, Eve Trowbridge (Fay Wray). They chat for a while, and Rainsford finds out by Zaroff that, on this certain island, Zaroff hunts the most dangerous game. Zaroff tells about how he got bored hunting some usually dangerous animals (such as tigers), and how he wanted a prey that can use reason. Through this we find out the most dangerous game is humans. After a suspenseful turn of events, Rainsford and Eve must play the role of the hunted and win against him within a day. It's a great plot executed decently.

ACTING:The acting in here is not so great. You can tell by far that it's dated. McCrea plays a decent part of Rainsford, but the screenplay does him almost no justice. Wray did a pretty great job of playing her usual damsel-in-distress character. She was a little over-dramatic, but overall she did great, as did Banks as Zaroff. Banks did a pretty great job as Zaroff as well, but he sounded angry almost all the time, as opposed to his role in the story of being smooth and calm. I think Zaroff's character would've much better been played by the likes of Bela Lugosi. It has the dramatic death scene and everything! The minor performances overall didn't really matter as well.

SCORE:The score was pretty cheesy, but for its time, it was pretty top notch, so I'll give it credit for that much.

CAMERAWORK:I noticed in here a pretty good use of the camera to capture the emotions of the actors, as used in old horror films. The director actually hit spot on with trying to capture the emotions with the camera.

OTHER CONTENT:I really don't know why I didn't like this film as much as I wanted to. I read the story before I watched it, and as early as the start of the film, I spotted about a thousand differences from the story that make the film lose some of its wit. That kind of ticked me off. If a film strays too far from its source material, I tend to get frustrated. The film also seemed to lag a bit in the middle and lose the suspense it did acheive. The film did have a good bit of suspenseful scenes, and it even used a handful of horror tactics to make things better. However, it altogether ended up pretty dated and mediocre.

OVERALL,an ok film with a decently-executed plot, dated acting, top notch score for the time being, pretty good use of the camera, some great suspense, and even some horror techniques, but the screenplay did the actors hardly any justice, the film falls from its source material greatly, and it lagged a good bit in the middle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Scarface (1983) review


This is the tale of how fame, drugs, and violence drove one of the richest drug dealers into the ground.

PLOT:After being shipped as a prisoner with some Cuban refugees to Florida, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) has to make a life and a name for himself in America. He gets asked to do a high-paying drug retrieval (which he nearly dies in), and that spins him off into his million-dollar career of drug-trafficking for a Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) and his wife, Elvira (Michelle Pfieffer), who he has interest in. He also reconnects with his family, including his now-adult sister, Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), whom he has over-protective fears for. However, his career starts to fade after he starts to get a big head and "gets high on his own supply." It's a good plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The acting in here was pretty great. No performance was a bad one. Al Pacino took over the screen as Scarface, being both the tough-as-nails gangster and humorous comic relief. Any other actor wouldn't have done the character as much justice. The other shiners were Robert Loggia as Frank Lopez, Michelle Pfieffer as Elvira, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Gina, Miriam Colon as Mama Montana, and Steven Bauer as Manny Ray.

SCORE:The score didn't fit the film as well as it should have, but it was still pretty great. It was basically cheesy '80s score, but it was still pretty good considering it was done by the great Giorgio Mororder. I think it would have worked better with some more suspenseful stuff, but this was still pretty great.

OTHER CONTENT:This film is one of the greats; it's iconic, meaningly violent, and serves as an example for younger people to stay away from drugs and to not get too cocky, or have a "big head". This film was also under the direction of the great Brian DePalma; his direction remained solid throughout. This is another one of those films that has one scene that everyone knows because it's become such an icon nowadays. Everybody can quote this film and the iconic scene: "Say hello to my little friend!" DePalma has truly created a brilliant film here.

OVERALL,an epic film with a brilliantly-executed plot, great acting, great-yet-unfitting Mororder score, iconic scenes, violence with meaning, example-setting ideas, and solid direction by the great DePalma.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

TRON (1982) review


This is a true nerd's film: brilliant special effects, '80s cheese, and a video-gaming plot, all in the early ages of gaming.

PLOT:This film takes place in a dystopian-type town where the major science and technology lab, ENCOM, is ruled by a computer named the Master Control Program (MCP) that has a mind of his own and a want to take control away from the humans, all watched over by the senior exec, Ed Dillinger (David Warner). Things start to get tense when Dillinger finds out that a former employee named Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who also runs an arcade downtown, has been trying to hack his way in and steal back the file of the video game he created and Dillinger stole. Also, a current employee named Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) has developed a security program named TRON which can run indepedantly and even watch over the supreme mind of the MCP. That's what sends the MCP into his want to take control. Both the hacker and employee team up with the laser scientist, Lora (Cindy Morgan), to break in, run the TRON program, steal back the game file, and crash the MCP. However, things go awry when Flynn tries to hack into the mainframe and instead gets sucked into the electronics themselves. Now, in this world where the programs are personified and martyred against their will of believing in the users to fight in the video game division, Flynn must find TRON and stop the MCP. It's a very well thought-out plot executed pretty well.

ACTING:The acting in here was pretty great. Jeff Bridges owned the role as Flynn and put a lot of his personality into his character. Nobody was truly brilliant in here, but the shiners were Bruce Boxleitner as Adam/TRON, Cindy Morgan as Lora/Yori, Barnard Hughes as Dr. Gibbs/Dumont, Dan Shor as Ram, David Warner as Dillinger/Sark, and Jack Manning as the Bit.

SCORE:The score was mainly just cheesy '80s music combined with a video game-sounding score. It was just ok.

EFFECTS:This film was a special effects marvel for its time. The colorful set and digital-looking lights made it look like you were literally in a video game, sci-fi world. For the time being, they were truly a landmark.


OTHER CONTENT:This film is good mainly for its plot idea and brilliant effects, as well as its great lead by Jeff Bridges, but it does fail a bit. The plot execution is a little uneven and the film comes off as cheesy after a while. However, this film can relate to the real world in terms of being martyred for your beliefs (the programs belief in the users) and it does seem like a kind of techno-Oz with how the characters in real life are also resembled by certain characters in the game. It's a true nerd's movie!

OVERALL,a great sci-fi with a well thought-out plot, great acting, ok score, brilliant effects, relation to real-life religion, and the effect of being a techno-Oz, but the plot execution is a little uneven and it comes off as a bit cheesy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Marley (2012) review


This insightful look into the life of reggae's best star covers everything from childhood, to religion, to reggae origin, and to death.

PLOT/SUBJECT:This insightful documenary is on the life of reggae's greatest star, Bob Marley, and how he defined the genre and inspired peace among everyone. This contains all kinds of photos, concert footage, interviews from friends and relatives, and even past interviews he attended, and it covers everything, from his childhood, to his religion, to an explaination of reggae, to his rise to fame, to his efforts at making world peace, and to his troubles all the way up to his death in the '80s. It's a very great subject to make a documentary on, and it's executed brilliantly.

PEOPLE:The kinds of people we get to hear from that associated with Marley include associates from his record companies, government officials he worked with, relatives of his own, his wife, former members of The Wailers, and even close friends. Each has a different, interesting story or feeling to express about Bob Marley and his life.

SCORE:The soundtrack is made up of nothing less than all Bob Marley songs, from rare concert recordings, to first tapes, to original recordings, and even to his early stuff. All is either upbeat or beautiful, but either way, it's pure, unfiltered reggae that could simmer anybody down.

OTHER CONTENT:This documentary truly does shine light into the late reggae star's life and how he helped thousands of people experience reggae, freedom, and peace. This film tells a lot of facts people may not have known about Bob, from his father being a different color to his experiences with women. It truly captures his personality and vision as it was and still is nowadays. Like Michael Jackson, his legacy will live on in the hearts of all peace-loving reggae fans. One part in particular I really liked was that they showed the entire funeral from his services to his loading into the truck. It was truly a heart-breaking moment for those all-around.

OVERALL,an epic documentary with a brilliantly-executed subject, interesting people, upbeat reggae soundtrack from the king of reggae, many revealing facts, a living legacy, and touching coverage of his funeral.

R.I.P. Bob Marley, The King of Reggae

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Risky Business (1983) review


One of Tom Cruise's first and best films to date takes you on a journey through teen angst and adolesence while welcoming dark themes in an iconic way.

PLOT:Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise) is a young, teen college student who's majoring in business and always dreaming about girls. One day, his parents leave town for the week and he's left with the house and some money. He dances like crazy in the living room, hangs with his crazy friends, and takes out his father's car while they're gone. That's as crazy as he plans on getting until he makes a call to a call girl named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) and spends the night with her. In the morning, she asks for $300 from him for the "services" and this spins him off into a whole chain of events with a stolen glass egg, his father's car in Lake Michigan, getting together with Lana and her friends a night to raise money to fix it and pay off other damages, and way more. It's an ok plot executed greatly.

ACTING:The acting in here was pretty great. Each character had a distinct personality. This was one of Tom Cruise's best film roles. He played the part with tons of personality. The other shiners were Rebecca De Mornay as Lana, Curtis Armstrong as Miles, Raphael Sbarge as Glenn, and Bruce A. Young as Jackie, (You'll see what I mean if you see it!)

SCORE:The score was done in full by one band, and they did pretty good. Each piece was well composed and had a signature '80s sound. I would buy the soundtrack.

OTHER CONTENT:This film about raging teen angst is funny, iconic, and shot with emotion in each scene. I have to give my respects to the writer/director Paul Brickman for his vision. The way he shot each scene and put the editing to work was just unique and full of emotion. This is another of the films that are iconic for at least one scene. If you've seen one part of this film, you've seen Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear to "Old Time Rock and Roll". The only thing I didn't really like about this film was that I felt the plot was a little to unstable. Sure, the twists and jokes made it way better, but it was just a little too disorganized for comfort.

OVERALL,an awesome film with a greatly-executed plot, great acting, pretty good score, iconic scenes, and emotion in each scene done by a great director, but the plot was a little too unstable for comfort.