Jack's Reviews

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I give Cuckoo
and the last 2 of them I agree with you exactly, although I believe my ratings for them could go up after repeat viewings. They certainly won't go down.



I give Cuckoo
and the last 2 of them I agree with you exactly, although I believe my ratings for them could go up after repeat viewings. They certainly won't go down.
Likewise. I did enjoy Don't Look Now so I can see my score going up in the future.



After Hours (1985)



Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast overview: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette
Running time: 97 minutes

A simple date turns into a nightmare for New York City word processor Paul Hackett. That's the basic premise of the film and I think it's a thoroughly original one from Scorsese, who seemed to spend the majority of the eighties veering from his usual path of crime / thriller films to make a couple of comedy-dramas. Thank goodness he did, because this works really well, with Hackett's character - played by a relative unknown to me (in fact, he'd be good for the actors only known for one role thread) - typifying a liability, in that everything he attempts to do goes wrong or comes back to haunt him.

I've had mixed views of the Scorsese films I've watched so far, but this'd rank second on the list of those I have. The direction is great, and the script is witty, real, and engaging. You really do feel as though you're with Hackett, going through his traumas as he does. The supporting cast also play nice roles, with Rosanna Arquette and Verna Bloom probably the pick of them.

This was also one of those films where the running time - short as it is - flew by for me, and it seemed to be over before it had even started. In my view, that's testament to the fast-paced nature of it, and the witty and authentic writing and direction. Unlike some of Scorsese's films, that seem slow and plodding, this is really quite quick.

Overall, this is a fantastic Scorsese film, in my opinion. I don't quite - yet - think it's a classic, though it definitely has the potential to go up in my estimation, having enjoyed it as much as I did. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good film, and it's perhaps the most underrated of Scorsese's directed pictures.



Quotes
Paul Hackett: What do you want from me? I'm just a word processor!

[after witnessing a murder through a window]
Paul Hackett: I'll probably get blamed for that.

Pepe: Art sure is ugly.
Neil: Shows how much you know about art. The uglier the art, the more it's worth.
Pepe: This must be worth a fortune, man.

Trivia
The conversation between Paul and the bouncer at Club Berlin is mostly from Franz Kafka's "Before The Law."

Scorsese designed the film as a parody of Hitchcock's style. The elaborate camera movements echo sequences in Marnie (1964), while Howard Shore's score emulates the style of one of Hitchcock's most frequent collaborators, Bernard Herrmann.

The original cut of the film was 45 minutes longer.

Trailer



The Towering Inferno (1974)



Director: John Guillermin
Cast overview: Paul Newman, Steve McQueen
Running time: 165 minutes

The 1970s saw a spate of disaster films, some admittedly better than others. This is one of the best of the lot, I reckon. I first watched it with my dad when I was about eight, and loved it. It's a very long film, but it's one of the most entertaining films of the seventies, even if not everything works. It also boasts one of the biggest-name casts I've seen in a film, with Newman and McQueen leading the billing, but with Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, OJ Simpson all chipping in at one time or another. The sheer cast alone is astounding.

Anyway, about the film: a new 135-story building has gone up in San Francisco, and a huge fire breaks out at its unveiling. On the 135th floor, hundreds of people gather for a party. Of course, as with all disaster films, they are now in mortal danger and the local fire crew, ably assisted by Steve McQueen's character, Doug Halloran, come to the rescue, although it's far from straightforward.

It's suspenseful and tense, with scenes such as that in the elevator shaft and the helicopter pick-up scene leaving you sweating as much as those near the fire. The script does occasionally verge into the melodramatic, although the usual disaster-film hamminess doesn't appear as much as it might in other films. This was big-budget, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. CGI was an unheard-of concept in the seventies, and it makes this film even more of a great achievement.

In short, this is one of my favourite films, even though I don't watch it as much as I used to, and it stands up as one of the best disaster films ever, with its all-star cast and effective, suspenseful writing and direction coming together to create a very entertaining film. It's not perfect, and it's perhaps overlong, but it's still an old favourite for me.



Quotes
James Duncan: [smiling genially, sure that he can smarm his way out of the situation] Everything under control?
Chief O'Hallorhan: You've gotta move all these people out of here.
James Duncan: Aw, now, just how bad is it?
Chief O'Hallorhan: It's a fire, mister, and all fires are bad.

Doug Roberts: [picks up ringing phone] Roberts.
Chief O'Hallorhan: It's out of control, and it's coming your way. You got about fifteen minutes. Now, they wanna try somethin'. They wanna blow those water tanks two floors above you. They think it might kill the fire.
Doug Roberts: [surveys room] How're they gonna get the explosives up here?
Chief O'Hallorhan: [after already having been given the task] Oh, they'll find some dumb son of a bitch to bring it up.

Doug Roberts: I thought we were building something that... where people could work and live and be SAFE! If you had to cut costs, why didn't you cut floors instead of corners?
James Duncan: Now listen. Any decisions that were made for the use of alternate building materials were made because I as a builder have a right to make those decisions; if I remain within the building code and god-dammit, I did!
Doug Roberts: [Chuckling] Building code? Jesus. Building code. Come on, Dunc, I mean that's a standard cop-out when you're in trouble. I was crawling around up there. I mean, duct holes weren't fire-stopped! Corridors without fire doors in it, sprinklers won't work, and an electrical system that's good for what? I mean, it's good for starting fires! Hoo boy, where was I when all this was going on? Because I'm just as guilty as you and that god-damned son-in-law of yours! What do they call it when you kill people?

Trivia
Paul Newman later regretted his decision to co-star with 'Steve McQueen' (I) because of the rivalry between the two, created by Steve. As a result, the fireman role dominates over Newman's architect. Three contributing factors are 1) Both characters have the same number of lines (at McQueen's insistence); 2) McQueen's character doesn't appear until 43 minutes into the film. As a result, Newman had used almost half his lines before McQueen enters. And 3) the fire chief is the authoritative hero that outranks and captures center stage over all other characters. During filming, Newman was quoted as saying, "For the 1st time, I fell for the ******* numbers. I did this turkey for a million and 10% of the gross, but it's the 1st and last time, I swear."

Paul Newman's and Steve McQueen's names are staggered in the opening credits, closing credits, and on the posters so that, depending on which way you read it (top to bottom or left to right), both appear to get top billing. This is known as "diagonal billing", This strategy was being worked on when Newman and McQueen almost co-starred together in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), but McQueen eventually dropped out of the project and was replaced by the lesser known Robert Redford.

For years, during the 80's and 90's, this is the movie Swedish TV used to show on New Years Eve, just after midnight.

Trailer



Captain Phillips (2013)



Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast overview: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi
Running time: 134 minutes

Based on a true story, Captain Phillips is the tale of its title character and the hijacking of his Maersk Alabama cargo ship by Somali pirates in 2009. And what an excellent thriller it is. Hanks is known for playing the everyman to a tee, and his performance is no different, showing the stresses and strains of a true-to-life situation that formed the background to this film. Barkhad Abdi, an unknown actor, plays the lead pirate with subtlety and poise, and creates a character that is far more than the typical one-dimensional film villain.

What makes this far greater than your usual thriller is its authentic nature. There are no special effects, no stunts, no unrealistic action sequences, yet it still manages to grip you from the first minute to the last. The lack of special effects creates a film that is as realistic and authentic as it is gripping and entertaining. A thriller is intended to thrill, and this film succeeds wholeheartedly. Much of that credit goes to the performances of the actors themselves, transporting you into a world which is laden with risks and danger. But director Paul Greengrass manages to sustain the tension throughout this film's running time, which is no mean feat at over two hours.

One of the major skills employed here is the fact that we empathise with and associate with the characters, yet there is no backstory to any of them of note. Little time is spent giving their life stories, yet we still support them or disagree with the characters' motives and actions, depending on which side you stand.

Despite all the very clear positives, I don't think this is quite perfect, and it does waver slightly towards the end. But it still holds up as an excellent thriller that genuinely thrills, not something you can say about every entry into the genre nowadays. Hanks and Abdi are terrific, as are the supporting cast, and the taut, well-written script is something that elevates the film further. Highly enjoyable and highly recommended.



Quotes
Captain Richard Phillips: There's got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people.
Muse: Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America.

Muse: Look at me.
Captain Richard Phillips: Sure.
Muse: Look at me.
Captain Richard Phillips: Sure.
Muse: I'm the captain now.

Muse: I came too far, I can't give up.

Trivia
In real life, one of the men from Richard Phillips' crew sued him after the incident. He claimed that Phillips was well aware of the danger in the Somali waters but went in anyway endangering all of them because he wanted to get the shipment to harbour faster, even though the shipping company itself sent him a note advising him to avoid the Somali seas.

During an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air", Tom Hanks said the first time he met the actors playing the Somali pirates was when they started filming the pirates taking over the bridge. Paul Greengrass mentioned he did this intentionally to build up tension between the actors on board the ship and the actors playing the Somaili pirates.

Tom Hanks claimed that all the interior lifeboat scenes were filmed inside a scale model that was actually on water at all times, resulting in him being vomited on by crew members in the cramped space.

Trailer



A system of cells interlinked
I watched The Towering Inferno a few months ago. I hadn't seen it in forever! The decor is the building had me thinking it was best it went down in flames!
__________________
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP



Annie Hall (1977)



Director: Woody Allen
Cast overview: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Running time: 93 minutes

This is the first Woody Allen film I've seen, and it's one I rate highly. Allen has made many films, many of them also happen to be in this comedy-romance genre, but this is likely among the best of his efforts. Although just over an hour and a half in running time, it's filled with memorable scenes and quotable lines. It's witty and entertaining, and is among one of the best films I've watched recently, even if I don't quite believe it to be flawless.

Woody Allen is clearly very talented, even just from this film it's clear that there's a lot of talent there. It's really well-written, with the self-deprecation and dry humour that Allen became known for, but there's also real love between the two, and that's part of what makes it such an enjoyable film.

Notable supporting guest stars include Shelley Duvall, most famous for her role in The Shining, and a young Christopher Walken. But it's definitely Allen and Keaton who take all the plaudits, showing a realistic portrayal of a couple, with the good and bad moments commensurate with such a relationship present. The film is also enjoyable, clearly a vital element in any film, and it keeps the audience interested to the end.

Overall, it's a film in a genre that I don't watch too much of, but this manages to appeal to those fans of the category, but to fans of comedy films as well. It's a good film that I'll probably be watching again, and Allen shows skill and talent that would be present in many of his other films.



Quotes
[last lines]
Alvy Singer: [narrating] After that it got pretty late, and we both had to go, but it was great seeing Annie again. I... I realized what a terrific person she was, and... and how much fun it was just knowing her; and I... I, I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this... this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.

Alvy Singer: I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That's the two categories. The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable, because that's very lucky, to be miserable.

[In California]
Annie Hall: It's so clean out here.
Alvy Singer: That's because they don't throw their garbage away, they turn it into television shows.

Trivia
Alvy's (Woody Allen's) sneezing into the cocaine was an unscripted accident. When previewed, the audience laughed so loud that director Allen decided to leave it in, and had to add footage to compensate for people missing the next few jokes from laughing too much.

Diane Keaton's real name is Diane Hall and her nickname is Annie.

The passerby Alvy refers to as "the winner of the Truman Capote look-alike contest" is in fact Truman Capote, who appears uncredited.

Trailer



Nice reviews Jack; I should watch The Towering Inferno again as it's been a very long time. Annie Hall was my first Woody Allen film a couple months back; I didn't like it quite as much as you, but I liked it. I thought Captain Phillips was great but I don't think I'll ever have the desire to watch it again. I'm not sure why that is. After Hours is probably about my 9th favorite Scorsese film. Still, I give it
also.



Night Moves (1975)



Director: Arthur Penn
Cast overview: Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warner
Running time: 100 minutes

Another string in my seventies bow here, with Gene Hackman's 1975 portrayal of a Los Angeles private detective and former football player assigned to a missing-person case. It's well-thumbed ground in crime films and thrillers, but it's what you do with the material that determines the end product. I was drawn partly to it by its Hackman presence, an actor I'm reasonably familiar with, and I enjoyed his performance in The Conversation, and also due to its interesting and slightly-more-original-than-normal premise. It's not a classic by any means, but it serves its purpose as an okay thriller that's definitely worth a watch or two.

Hackman made a name for playing these sorts of characters, most notably in films such as The French Connection, and the role of Harry Moseby here is no different. Slightly quirky and slightly different from your usual detective, it makes for a more interesting and thought-provoking film than the usual Hollywood mediocrity. I wasn't quite sure whether to stand with him - or with several of the characters, for that matter (it's a fairly ambiguous film at times, though its ambiguity is perhaps one of its more interesting points).

The film does feel rather cheap and TV-movie in its approach and result, though I doubt this was a high-budget venture. The seventies nature of this film is very apparent, but that in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. I do like the Florida Keys setting, interspersed with the Los Angeles that we see for the first half-hour.

Overall, this is a competent film marred by its muddled and unfocused script. There is progression, but it doesn't feel natural or fluid. Another issue is that it doesn't feel sure whether it intends to be a character study or a traditional police procedural-type effort. That drags it down slightly more for me. Despite its problems, it's still relatively enjoyable, though I would wager that much of that is due to a screen presence like Hackman's. I certainly doubt it'll be making my seventies list, but I'm glad I watched it and I'd probably watch it again in the future.



Quotes
Ellen Moseby: [of a football game] Who's winning?
Harry Moseby: Nobody. One side is just losing slower than the other.

Paula: Where were you when Kennedy got shot?
Harry Moseby: Which Kennedy?
Paula: Any Kennedy.
Harry Moseby: When the president got shot, I was on my way to San Diego. Football game. When Bobby got shot, I was sitting in a car waiting for a guy to come out of a house with his girlfriend. Working on a divorce case. One of those times I wish I was in another business.

Joey Ziegler: He'd **** a woodpile on the chance there was a snake in it.

Trivia
Paula (Jennifer Warren) tells Harry (Gene Hackman) that the first boy who touched her breasts was named Billy Dannreuther, which is the name of Humphrey Bogart's character in Beat the Devil (1953).

Arthur Penn, an early contender to direct The Stunt Man (1980), borrowed elements from that film's source, the Paul Brodeur novel of the same name, for this film's story.

The house belonging to James Woods' character Quentin was owned by Phil Kaufman, road manager for Gram Parsons at the time of his death. Kaufman's subsequent actions became the basis for the film Grand Theft Parsons (2003). Night Moves (1975) cast and crew were shooting at the house the day the police came to question Kaufman, and as they were taking him away, Arthur Penn turned to Gene Hackman and said, "Man, we're shooting the wrong movie".

Trailer



Another nice review Jack of a movie I just watched a couple days ago. Immediately after the film, I would've rated it the same as you. I let it sink in a while and ended up giving it another half a popcorn because it kept me thinking. I already have a bit of a desire to see it again. I'm not sure if my rating would go up, but I thought it turned out to be a very interesting movie. I didn't feel that way half way through.



Another nice review Jack of a movie I just watched a couple days ago. Immediately after the film, I would've rated it the same as you. I let it sink in a while and ended up giving it another half a popcorn because it kept me thinking. I already have a bit of a desire to see it again. I'm not sure if my rating would go up, but I thought it turned out to be a very interesting movie. I didn't feel that way half way through.
Yeah. I get what you mean, it is an interesting film.



Chinatown (1974)



Director: Roman Polanski
Cast overview: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway
Running time: 130 minutes

This 1974 film introduces J.J. Gittes (Nicholson), a Los Angeles private investigator hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Dunaway) to expose her adulterous husband. It's perhaps the most famous film about water politics, centring as it does around the LA water board and the building of a new dam. Polanski is known for creating effective mysteries and this fits nicely in the genre.

It takes its inspiration from the film noir films of the forties and fifties, and succeeds extremely well in creating that sort of time period and atmosphere. That is one of the film's greatest successes, in finding a gap and exposing it to its maximum potential. Likewise, Nicholson plays a character that's sly, cynical and cautious, complementing the glamour of Faye Dunaway's. A solid supporting cast featuring the likes of John Huston and Bruce Glover only adds to the film.

The plot itself is solid, original, and well-written. Nothing appears left to chance here, it's clear that an idea of what was wanted and required was fully formulated and this results in a film that is entertaining, authentic, and fully evocative of the film noir heyday. The LA setting - itself well-covered territory, no pun intended, in films - complements the film as a whole and serves as a gritty backdrop to the crime, suspicion and duplicity that we witness throughout.

Overall, this is an excellent film from Polanski, featuring as it does Nicholson and Dunaway at the peak of their careers, a well-written and tense script, and a realistic and gritty setting in LA and surrounding areas. It's not my favourite film, but it's certainly one I'll be coming back to regularly in the future, and it will almost certainly make my 1970s list.



Quotes
[last lines]
Walsh: Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

Noah Cross: 'Course I'm respectable. I'm old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.

Jake Gittes: Mulvihill! What are you doing here?
Mulvihill: They shut my water off. What's it to you?
Jake Gittes: How'd you find out about it? You don't drink it; you don't take a bath in it... They wrote you a letter. But then you have to be able to read.

Trivia
At one point, Roman Polanski and Jack Nicholson got into such a heated argument that Polanski smashed Nicholson's portable TV with a mop. Nicholson used the TV to watch L.A. Lakers basketball games and kept stalling shooting.

The Chinatown (1974) screenplay is now regarded as being one of the most perfect screenplays and is now a main teaching point in screen writing seminars and classes everywhere.

The scene where Roman Polanski slits Jack Nicholson's nose was extremely complex to film, and the two men involved got so tired of explaining how it was done (by using a specially-constructed knife with a short hinge that would be safe as long as it was handled VERY carefully) that they began to claim Nicholson's nose was actually cut.

Trailer



The Exorcist (1973)



Director: William Friedkin
Cast overview: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow
Running time: 122 minutes

The Exorcist - perhaps 1973's most acclaimed film - is one of those films that I starts uncertainly and grows into itself as it progresses. With an early sequence in northern Iraq, it then moves back to Georgetown, Washington D.C. and follows Chris MacNeil, a woman whose daughter appears to be possessed by an evil and demonic entity. The premise of possessed children was one that was heavily touched upon in films of the 1960s and 1970s, most notably in this and in equally successful efforts such as The Omen. It must have been incredibly powerful upon its release.

While I don't think this is, as its tagline stated at the time, the scariest film of all time, it's certainly up there, thanks to its shocking portrayal of a girl possessed. Regan starts off as an ordinary fourteen-year-old girl, but it soon becomes apparent that something is amiss. Her transformation from mild-mannered girl into demonic presence is quite chilling. For such a young figure, Linda Blair gives a particularly memorable performance. You can really understand why, given this was a much different era, the film created such a stir upon its release, with syncope and even suicides attributed to it. Burstyn - someone I consider an underrated actress - gives a troubled and affecting performance as the worried mother.

I feel that part of what makes it such a powerful film is its realism. This isn't, and doesn't feel like, a conventional horror film - the characters are far more detailed and developed than in the usual horror fare, and the plot is a slow-burner that's given chance to develop and mature. It doesn't feel rushed, as many films in the genre often do. Another positive is Mike Oldfield's iconic music, that stands alongside the Halloween and The Amityville Horror scores as the pinnacle of horror music for me.

Overall, an excellent horror that set the bar high for subsequent genre films. I don't think it's perfect, but it's not far off, and it should make my seventies list.



Quotes
Demon: What an excellent day for an exorcism.
Father Damien Karras: You would like that?
Demon: Intensely.
Father Damien Karras: But wouldn't that drive you out of Regan?
Demon: It would bring us together.
Father Damien Karras: You and Regan?
Demon: You and us.

Demon: Your mother sucks cocks in Hell, Karras, you faithless slime.

Demon: I'm not Regan.
Father Damien Karras: Well, then let's introduce ourselves. I'm Damien Karras.
Demon: And I'm the Devil. Now kindly undo these straps.
Father Damien Karras: If you're the Devil, why not make the straps disappear?
Demon: That's much too vulgar a display of power, Karras.

Trivia
The scene where Regan projectile vomits at Father Karras only required one take. The vomit was intended to hit him on the chest. Instead, the plastic tubing that sprayed the vomit accidentally misfired, hitting him in the face. The look of shock and disgust while wiping away the vomit is genuine. Actor Jason Miller, (Father Karras), admitted in an interview that he was very angered by this mistake.

Actress Mercedes McCambridge, who provided the voice of the demon, insisted on swallowing raw eggs and chain smoking to alter her vocalizations. Furthermore, the actress who had problems with alcohol abuse in the past, wanted to drink whiskey as she knew alcohol would distort her voice even more, and create the crazed state of mind of the character. As she was giving up sobriety, she insisted that her priest be present to counsel her during the recording process. At William Friedkin's direction, McCambridge was also bound to a chair with pieces of a torn sheet at her neck, arms, wrists, legs and feet to get a more realistic sound of the demon struggling against its restraints. McCambridge later recalled the experience as one of horrific rage, while Friedkin admitted that her performance--as well as the extremes which the actress put herself through to gain authenticity--terrifies the director to this day.

Due to death threats against Linda Blair from religious zealots who believed the film "glorified Satan", Warner Bros. had bodyguards protecting her for six months after the film's release.

Trailer



Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)



Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Cast overview: Graham Chapman, John Cleese
Running time: 91 minutes

These are popular and very highly acclaimed films. Unfortunately, I'm not a massive fan. I'm from the UK, and I love comedy, so I should be the target audience, I suppose, but they do very little for me. I don't think it's the fact that they're inherently silly and off-the-wall, but I find that often it can result in lazy humour and lazy films.

The actual idea is pretty decent, and those involved are talented in different ways, but the end result isn't something that appeals to me greatly, as you'll probably gather from the shorter-than-usual review, and I don't feel it holds up well nowadays as a film. It feels dated, relying on nostalgia alone to prevent it sinking into film oblivion. Some scenes are decent - the early fighting scene, and the witch scene - and they stand up as the better moments of the film, in my view.

Overall, it's not a great film, in my opinion, despite its very high ratings and complimentary reviews, and it's not something I can see myself watching again - I don't know, perhaps I'll have the urge to give it a rewatch one day and will find it more to my tastes. There's talent here, with names such as Cleese, Idle and Gilliam leading the cast, but the end product doesn't amount to much, for me. I'm sure some on here will love it, and that's their perfectly entitled view.



Quotes
French Soldier: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

[after slicing one of the Black Knight's arms off]
King Arthur: Now stand aside, worthy adversary.
Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch.
King Arthur: A scratch? Your arm's off.
Black Knight: No it isn't.
King Arthur: What's that, then?
Black Knight: [after a pause] I've had worse.
King Arthur: You liar.
Black Knight: Come on ya pansy.

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, didn't you?

Trivia
Funds earned by Pink Floyd's album "The Dark Side of the Moon" went towards funding The Holy Grail. The band were such fans of the show they would halt recording sessions just to watch Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969).

The famous depiction of galloping horses by using coconut shells (a traditional radio-show sound effect) came about from the purely practical reason that the production simply couldn't afford real horses.

During one of the first screenings of the film in front of a live audience, director Terry Jones noticed that when music was played during the jokes, there was a marked reduction of laughter from the audience. He went back and edited the music out whenever a punchline was delivered. At subsequent screenings he noticed a dramatic increase in the audiences' positive reactions to the jokes. From that point on, whenever he directed, he remembered to stop the music for the funny parts.

Trailer



Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Too bad. I saw it several times when it came out, and I still think it's very funny. Sure, it's got some dry spells, but compared to most comeries, it's far funnier and more creative.
__________________
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page



Badlands (1973)



Director: Terrence Malick
Cast overview: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
Running time: 94 minutes

Badlands is one of those films that stays with you. It's extremely powerful, showing a teen girl and her older boyfriend as they go on a killing spree in South Dakota. Well, to put it more accurately, he does the killing and she tags along. Based on the real-life exploits of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend, the film feels completely real and authentic at every turn. This was Terrence Malick's directorial debut, though you wouldn't think it from the assured nature with which the direction is undertaken, and the completely professional feel of the film.

Sheen and Spacek's characters aren't particularly likeable, but they're presented almost without bias - the story is told and you make your own judgements as to their decisions and actions. This Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque story could have gone horribly wrong, and could have ended up cliched and cheap, but this feels completely original, and completely brilliant as a result. Sheen, an actor best-known for his Apocalypse Now role, gives an understated performance, and Spacek is reasonable as well. The numbness of the two characters struck me the most, they're ambivalent and apathetic.

Carl Orff's music adds a nice wild touch to proceedings, and the cinematography is superb, throwing you straight into the "badlands" and barren landscapes of South Dakota and Montana. Likewise, Malick's presence behind the camera feels mature and certainly makes the film better.

Overall, an excellent film that I'm very pleased I watched. It's short but that's all it needs to be. It doesn't feel rushed, every scene that needs to be there is there, and as a result it works particularly effectively, moving at an appropriate and well-judged pace, and with none of the bloated crap that seems to fill so many films. Highly recommended.



Quotes
Holly Sargis: [Last lines of the film]
[Voiceover]
Holly Sargis: Kit and I were taken back to South Dakota. They kept him in solitary, so he didn't have a chance to get acquainted with the other inmates, though he was sure they'd like him, especially the murderers. Myself, I got off with probation and a lot of nasty looks. Later I married the son of the lawyer who defended me. Kit went to sleep in the courtroom while his confession was being read, and he was sentenced to die in the electric chair. On a warm spring night, six months later, after donating his body to science, he did.
Kit Carruthers: Sir... Where'd you get that hat?
Trooper: State.
Kit Carruthers: Boy, I'd like to buy me one of those.
Trooper: [the trooper smiles] You're quite an individual, Kit.
Kit Carruthers: Think they'll take that into consideration?

Kit Carruthers: I'll give you a dollar if you eat this collie.

Holly Sargis: At this moment, I didn't feel shame or fear, but just kind of blah, like when you're sitting there and all the water's run out of the bathtub.

Trivia
The 'Bandlands' plot and lead characters of Kit and Holly are based on Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate, who in 1958 embarked on a murder spree that horrified the country.

The film's tag line ("In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people") inspired the Zodiac Killer (who'd been lying low for some years) to write a letter to the newspaper denouncing their flippant attitude to violence in society by running such an ad.

The actor that originally had to play the man that rings at the rich man's door did not show up, so Terrence Malick played it himself, although the intention was to use this part only temporarily.

Trailer



Registered User
Good review. I agree with the first sentence, I still remember when I saw Badlands. I want to say it's one of Malick's best, but all his movies are one of his best.



Vanishing Point (1971)



Director: Richard C. Sarafian
Cast overview: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little
Running time: 106 minutes

At its heart, Vanishing Point is a cult film that has the simplest of premises and a very monotonous-sounding idea. Why, then, does it work so well? From the first minute to the last, with the odd exception, this is a film packed with excitement, exhilaration and sheer enjoyment, that manages to make the viewer think without the usual tricks. Kowalski, a Colorado car deliverer, makes a bet that he can get a 1970 Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco in fifteen hours.

There have been various views and inputs as to whether this film has symbolism or a hidden meaning. Honestly, I don't know, but I do know that I find this extremely entertaining. It's essentially an hour and a half of a car driving in the desert. That very premise sounds monotonous and repetitive, yet it works so well and the end result is a film that's so much fun to watch. Barry Newman is as good as he needs to be as Kowalski - I did sense there was something more to his character, and he often seemed deep in thought so perhaps there is a metaphor of some sort in there somewhere.

The cinematography and direction is generally excellent, as well as the fitting music that provides a nice accompaniment. This may be a cult film, but that's not to say that it's otherwise weak or half-hearted; instead it's exciting and entertaining, and serves as one of the more enjoyable films of the 1970s. There were some bizarre plot diversions, but these don't divert me from giving it a high score.



Quotes
Super Soul: This radio station was named Kowalski, in honour of the last American hero to whom speed means freedom of the soul. The question is not when's he gonna stop, but who is gonna stop him.

Colorado State HP Officer: Nevada, this is Colorado State Highway Patrol. This is about a special query raised by the Utah Highway Patrol. - Affirmative, that's correct, but later they asked that the information be forwarded to you guys, so get ready for some details. Put on your tape recorders and all that sort of jazz, huh? Apparantly this speed maniac you've been chasing all over your territory is a former professional road racer named Kowalski, K-O-W-A-L-S-K-I, repeat Kowalski. First name unkown, other particulars also unknown. All we do know is that he's employed as a car delivery driver by an agency in Denver. He's presently driving a Dodge Challenger, Colorado licence plate OA-5599. This is not a stolen car; he's driving it to San Francisco for delivery due Monday.
Nevada State HP Officer: It's only Saturday, what's his hurry?
Colorado State HP Officer: That's what we wanted to know ourselves, so your guess is as good as ours. 10-4.

Kowalski: How about a smoke?
Nude Motorcycle Rider: Sure, I'll roll you one.
Kowalski: No, no, no, no. A straight one.

Trivia
Sarafian states on the commentary, that eight '70 Dodge Challenger R/T's were actually utilized during production and when filming had wrapped, only one Challenger R/T remained.

The car featured in the film is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 cubic-inch V-8, and not a 426 Hemi V-8 (as is often believed). Eight white Challengers loaned from the Chrysler Corporation were used during the filming.

There were actually four 440 Challenger R/Ts and one 383 Challenger R/T, which was an automatic with green interior. This one was used for some exterior shots and it pulled the 1967 Camaro up to speed so the Camaro could hit the bulldozers. As confirmed by property master Dennis J. Parrish, all of the cars were NOT originally white. They were just painted white for the film. During the scene where Kowalski has a flat tire, you can see green paint in the dents.

Trailer