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Of all the 70's movies I've watched in preparation for the countdown, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia remains my favorite. It's definitely going to be a top-ten entry on my list.
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Talk Radio (1988)



Director: Oliver Stone
Cast overview: Eric Bogosian, Ellen Greene
Running time: 110 minutes

From the very start, I knew this was going to be a powerful and memorable film. Based on the story of Alan Berg, Talk Radio tells the story of caustic Dallas radio host Barry Champlain, who antagonises and irritates many of his callers with his rude, acerbic manner. We watch as his show is about to go national, captivated by Bogosian's superb, unforgettable performance as Champlain. The radio station setting may appear prohibitive at first glance, but it creates a claustrophobic feel that complements the film's subject matter.

One advantage of this film is its brisk pacing. The story moves along quickly - you're halfway through before you know it, and firmly engrossed in the story. Much of this intrigue is thanks to Bogosian - not someone I'm familiar with, but here he certainly makes the Champlain role his, with a character that is hateful and tragic at the same time. Certainly one of the more interesting film characters I've seen; not completely conventional, yet still fascinating. The rest of the cast are overshadowed, but still play their parts with varying degrees of success; generally the acting is fine, with Bogosian's offering being excellent.

On the face of it, this is a drama, but it's also a thriller of sorts, and almost a horror film of society. Some of Champlain's comments, coupled with some of the people he speaks to, stick with you and serve almost as allegories and portents for the downfall of America. It's a challenging film that makes you think, and is undoubtedly Stone's most underrated. It seems to have largely passed the public by, which I think is a real shame.

To conclude, this study of a man in self-destruction is Oliver Stone's most underrated film, I think, and is a fascinating look at radio, anonymity, and wider society in general. I don't think it's perfect, but it's still very good.



Quotes
Stu: Barry and I worked together for over seven years and whenever you threatened him over the air, man he would stick it right back in your face. It was like his dick was flapping in the wind and he'd like to see if he could get an erection. The guy had a little dick but he liked to flap it out there. Then they cut it off, so now he's dead. I don't know if you understand my analogy but it's the clearest one I can make.

Barry: Sticks and stones can break your bones but words cause permanent damage!

Barry: There's nothing more boring than people who love you.

Trivia
Eric Bogosian wrote the screenplay with help from director Oliver Stone. The screenplay was almost entirely based on Bogosian's original play and some biographical information about Alan Berg, a talk show host in Denver who was murdered in 1984 by white supremacists.

Eric Bogosian's play, on which the film is based, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

John C. McGinley, known as the most frequent acting collaborator of Oliver Stone, had also appeared in the theatrical presentation of Eric Bogosian's play.

Trailer



Rocky (1976)



Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast overview: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire
Running time: 119 minutes

Another from my seventies-watching period. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it much. It's in the IMDb top 250, which I personally find ridiculous, but most seem to agree with the view that this is a film classic (and it is, strictly speaking), but it just doesn't work for me. Some people call this the best movie ever made, for example, which I'm utterly flabbergasted by. I can understand why people like it - it's a typical Hollywood underdog, rags-to-riches story.

Firstly, I thought Stallone - hardly a Laurence Olivier at the best of times - gave a very mediocre and uninspiring performance, mumbling his way through virtually every line. The supporting cast - while several are talented - were scarcely better, playing their cardboard cutout characters with mediocrity. But it was the whole cloying, saccharine Hollywood storyline that turned me off most. Not to mention I found the whole thing boring and contrived. The dialogue, writing, script were all poor, I thought. There's very little boxing in the film, just scenes at the beginning and at the end.

There's not a great deal more to say. I didn't enjoy it, found it terribly cliched and over-the-top, and hardly found it "gripping" as some reviewers have commented. I understand that people want to find inspiring stories - I find they often make for the best films - but the story here didn't inspire me much at all. I think this is hugely overrated, and I can't see why it's regarded as a classic.



Quotes
Mickey: You're gonna eat lightnin' and you're gonna crap thunder!

Adrian: It's Thanksgiving.
Rocky: Yea, to you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday.

Mickey: Your nose is broken.
Rocky: How does it look?
Mickey: Ah, it's an improvement.

Trivia
After producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff became interested in the script, they offered writer Sylvester Stallone an unprecedented $350,000 for the rights, but he refused to sell unless they agreed to allow him to star in the film (this despite the fact that he had only $106 in the bank, no car and was trying to sell his dog because he couldn't afford to feed it). They agreed, but only on the condition that Stallone continue to work as a writer without a fee and that he work as an actor for scale. After Winkler and Chartoff purchased the film, they took it to United Artists, who envisioned a budget of $2 million, but that was on the basis of using an established star (they particularly wanted Robert Redford, Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds or James Caan). United Artists didn't want Stallone to star, and when Winkler and Chartoff told them that the only way they could get him to sell the screenplay was to agree to cast him, United Artists cut the budget to $1 million, and had Chartoff and Winkler sign agreements that if the film went over budget, they would be personally liable. The final cost of the film was $1.1 million. The $0.1 million came after Chartoff and Winkler mortgaged their homes so as to complete the project.

Most of the scenes of Rocky jogging through Philadelphia were shot guerrilla-style, with no permits, no equipment and no extras. The shot were he runs past the moored boat for example; the crew were simply driving by the docks and director John G. Avildsen saw the boat and thought it would make a good visual, so he had Sylvester Stallone simply get out of the van and run along the quays whilst Avildsen himself filmed from the side door. A similar story concerns the famous shot of Rocky jogging through the food market. As he runs, the stall keepers and the people on the sidewalks can clearly be seen looking at him in bemusement. Whilst this works in the context of the film to suggest they're looking at Rocky, in reality, they had no idea why this man was running up and down the road being filmed from a van. During this scene, the famous shot where the stall-owner throws Rocky an orange was completely improvised by the stall owner-himself, who had no idea that a movie was being filmed and that he would be in it.

During his audition, Carl Weathers was sparring with Sylvester Stallone and accidentally punched him on the chin. Stallone told Weathers to calm down, as it was only an audition, and Weathers said that if he was allowed to audition with a 'real' actor, not a stand-in, he would be able to do a lot better. Director John G. Avildsen smiled and told Weathers that Stallone was the real actor (and the writer). Weathers looked at Stallone thoughtfully for a moment, and said, "Well, maybe he'll get better." Stallone immediately offered him the role.

Trailer



The thing with Rocky being clichéd, is that the stuff in Rocky is cliché today...


When Rocky was made, it wasn't. Rocky was one of the first... every other film has done it since. The other thing, is that Rocky doesn't win at the end, which sets it apart from all the others.
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Originally Posted by doubledenim
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The thing with Rocky being clichéd, is that the stuff in Rocky is cliché today...


When Rocky was made, it wasn't. Rocky was one of the first... every other film has done it since. The other thing, is that Rocky doesn't win at the end, which sets it apart from all the others.
Fair point. I suppose being exposed to the countless imitations over the years has caused an aversion to films like this.



I think you've missed the point of Rocky...


... his mumbling and not having much boxing throughout, this is all purposeful. Rocky isn't too bright a guy and he's spent most of his life being punched in the head.
The film is more a drama too rather than an sports-actioner, the story of a deadbeat Boxer who moonlights as a Mob Enforcer, getting his chance at the Heavyweight title and what it means to him. His fears, excitement, all that.


The cringe worthy relationship between Rocky and Adrian is purposefully cringe worthy as well... two people completely unpractised at love getting together...


I reckon you should watch it again... though Rocky isn't a favourite of mine, I hold it in high regard. It's the simplicity of the film with some of the little touches that makes it special.



Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)



Director: John Carpenter
Cast overview: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston
Running time: 91 minutes

This early John Carpenter effort is decent, an exercise in providing an entertaining premise and succeeding broadly in executing it. This preceded his 1978 horror classic (and one of my favourite films), Halloween, which was essentially a lesson in creating and sustaining tension and suspense. The lack of big-name stars here gives this a down-to-earth quality, though the acting is still competent enough.

It's worth saying that it's not perfect - the film's low budget is evident in several scenes, and some of the editing and direction feels sloppy at times, but these flaws don't detract too much from the film. There's little plot extrapolation, but we still know and understand enough about the characters to be able to empathise with them, and assess their personalities. That's a subtle skill on Carpenter's part. The plot couldn't be simpler - people trying to get out of a police station while being terrorised by the seemingly limitless numbers of a street gang. You'd struggle to find a simpler plot, yet it works so well for that very reason.

Carpenter's score is superb, with the synth sounds complementing the gritty Los Angeles that we see, a city full of crime and violence that the music suits to a tee. It's foreboding and repetitive, yet truly memorable and iconic. To summarise, this is a neat little 1970s thriller that, despite its low-budget nature, still holds up as a very good film, and one of Carpenter's best (thought not his best, in my view).



Quotes
Lt. Ethan Bishop: How did you come by a name like Napoleon Wilson?
Napolean Wilson: I'll tell you some time.
Lt. Ethan Bishop: When will you tell me?
[the street gang breaks through the barricade and rush at Bishop and Wilson]
Napolean Wilson: Make that in a minute or two!

[Offering Bishop coffee]
Leigh: Black?
Bishop: For over thirty years.

Wells: Look at that, two cops wishing me luck. I'm doomed.

Trivia
The assault takes place on Precinct 9, Division 13. Many have noted the title misnomer, since there is no "Precinct 13" in the film. At first, Carpenter wanted to call the film "The Anderson Alamo" (the original title of his screenplay), and, at one point, he changed the working title to "The Siege." CKK, the film's distributor, was responsible for the misnomer; they rejected Carpenter's titles and came up with the name "Assault on Precinct 13" (which they felt was more ominous sounding) during post-production.

The precinct's new address, 1977 Ellendale Place (written on a sign erected in front of the building), was director John Carpenter's real address when he first lived in Los Angeles.

Darwin Joston's portrayal of convict Napoleon Wilson is inspired by Charles Bronson's character "Harmonica" in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) (Once Upon a Time in the West); when asked to explain themselves and their actions, both respond "Only at the point of dyin'." As Wilson explains why he has killed so many people, he recalls that when he first saw a preacher, the preacher told him "Son, there is something strange about you. You got something to do with death." This quote belongs to Jason Robards's character Cheyenne in "Once Upon a Time in the West" and is the title of Christopher Frayling's biography of 'Sergio Leone'.

Trailer



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I agree with Rodent on Rocky; not quite a personal favorite, but an awesome movie. I still remember seeing it at the movies when it came out. It's been a few years though, I should probably watch it again for a fresh opinion.



Rocky


I don't think I have ever been so dissapointed by a MoFo rating.
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Her (2013)



Director: Spike Jonze
Cast overview: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams
Running time: 126 minutes

This looked an interesting idea when I first saw the poster and I thought that the rave reviews it received were extremely promising, indicative of a great film. It's anything but, from what I watched. It's the story of a loner who develops a relationship with an intelligent computer operating system. Nice idea, I thought.

It's boring. BORING. DULL. DRAB. The whole two hours pass by so slowly that it's difficult to watch. It's essentially Joaquin Phoenix with a simple expression looking at his computer and talking to Scarlett Johansson's voice. I'd like to say it's more than that, but it isn't. I will praise Jonze for the idea, as it was truly original, but the execution is terrible, with seemingly little idea of how boring it is for the viewer. The music is also very good, and the cinematography is superb. That's about all that's good, with the rest of it so ponderous and sentimental that it was an instant turn-off. I stuck it out to the end to see if things improved any, but they didn't.

Perhaps the whole premise was going to be difficult to turn into anything that wasn't dull, but - in my view - that's all it was: dull. Two-dimensional and uninteresting. I felt very little empathy or understanding with Phoenix's character. In fact, the little virtual alien thing was about the most interesting thing about the film, and I genuinely think this could have been developed upon to create an interesting sidekick-type character.

As you'll guess, not one I enjoyed. A dull, hype-ridden snoozefest that didn't keep me interested at all. Some promise, and some cracking ideas, but the execution was terrible, I thought. Still, others seem to have enjoyed it a fair amount and it got an Oscar nomination - somehow - so it must be me that's wrong.



Quotes
Theodore: Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I've already felt.

Samantha: The past is just a story we tell ourselves.

[last lines]
Theodore: Dear Catherine, I've been sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you. Everything I needed you to be or needed you to say. I'm sorry for that. I'll always love you 'cause we grew up together and you helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know there will be a piece of you in me always, and I'm grateful for that. Whatever someone you become, and wherever you are in the world, I'm sending you love. You're my friend to the end. Love, Theodore.
[pauses]
Theodore: Send.

Trivia
Samantha Morton was originally the voice of Samantha. She was present on the set with Joaquin Phoenix every day. After the filming wrapped and Spike Jonze started editing the movie, he felt like something was not right. With Morton's blessing, he decided to recast the role and Scarlett Johansson was brought and replaced Morton, re-recording all the dialogue..

Most of the city backgrounds, especially the ones featuring skyscrapers, are actually filmed in Shanghai. You can see many very identifiable skyscrapers such as the Shanghai World Financial Center. There are even Chinese signs if you look carefully.

Amy Adams said writer/director Spike Jonze would essentially lock her and Joaquin Phoenix in a room together for an hour or two every other day, and make them talk to each other. Jonze did this so that the actors could get to know each other better. Adams credits this for her and Phoenix's close friendship.

Trailer



"""" Hulk Smashhhh."""
Nice reviews bud. Although I disagree with your review on Rocky. I can't see how you can call it cliched?. It was released in the 70's, and there wasn't anything really like Rocky about. I also didn't agree on Stallone. I thought he did a fantastic job, and pulled of a pretty great performance.
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I'll echo that. Lots of classics look cliche decades later, when they've been copied to death. And I wouldn't call it a normal underdog story, nor rags-to-riches. The brilliance of Rocky is that he doesn't win. And he sure doesn't get rich. He works hard and proves something to himself. Even getting "the girl" isn't storybook, because she's not a princess: she's shy and a little damaged, just like he is. And their courtship is appropriately awkward. The release at the end of the film is that the emotion and exhaustion of the event breaks through all those layers, allowing them to simply say what the feel--something which doesn't come naturally to either.

Of course, the best thing about it by far is its sheer earnestness. It's all in the execution, rather than the concept. But the concept is plenty nuanced, too, compared to your normal Hollywood endings.




The French Connection (1971)



Director: William Friedkin
Cast overview: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider
Running time: 104 minutes

Friedkin's films, from my experience, tend to be patchy. I've seen three of his now, and a couple of them have been OK, the other has been very good. This is one of the OK ones, I think. It's certainly well-regarded, and I was expecting a really engaging seventies crime thriller. It delivered on some fronts, but not all, for me. It stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider - two great actors anyway - as a pair of Narcotics Bureau NYC cops investigating a drug-smuggling operation, and I think the plot is considerably more original than many similar crime films from this era.

To the characters themselves, and I found Hackman's Jimmy Doyle to be a fairly unmemorable character, certainly not a patch on Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan character from the Dirty Harry films - just my opinion, though, and I'm sure some will disagree with that. That's one thing I think the film lacked - character development. Not just that, but Doyle seemed quite unpleasant as a character, and I found it quite hard to associate with him, unlike the Dirty Harry example I gave earlier. While it doesn't detract too much from the film, it would have been nice to have a bit of background on the characters to stop them from appearing as cardboard creations. Scheider's performance is decent enough.

The plot itself is fairly strong. Again, it's not a case for me of this film being weak, simply not being as strong as some say it is. Much of it centres around the actual surveillance of the suspects, and I did quite like that aspect. It is a slow film, at least compared to the all-out action of films nowadays, but it wasn't that that put me off. The ending was something that I did find somewhat anticlimactic, in that it appeared to be building up to something fantastic, then we are told what happened to the characters. It seemed rather rushed, and rather poorly done, I thought.

All in all, I did enjoy this, but I thought it could have been far better, and I certainly doubt it deserving of the Best Picture Oscar it was nominated for, when I consider its contemporary, Dirty Harry, to have been a far better crime film that seemed far clearer about what it was trying to do and succeeded in virtually every department, for me. This, in contrast, does some things well and some things so-so, but it's still very much worth a watch or two, and it's certainly not a "weak" film. Reasonable.



Quotes
[analyzing drug shipment]
Chemist: Blast off: one-eight-oh. Two hundred: Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Two ten: U.S. Government certified. Two twenty: lunar trajectory, junk of the month club, sirloin steak. Two thirty: Grade A poison. Absolute dynamite. Eighty-nine percent pure junk. Best I've ever seen. If the rest is like this, you'll be dealing on this load for two years.
Joel Weinstock: So you say it's worth half a million?
Chemist: How many kilos?
Salvatore "Sal" Boca: Sixty.
Chemist: Sixty kilos, eight big ones per kilo, right? This stuff will take a seven to one hit on the street.
Salvatore "Sal" Boca: And by the time it gets down to nickel bags, it will be worth at least thirty-two million.
Joel Weinstock: Thank you, Howard. Take what's left there with you and good night.

Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: The son of a bitch is here. I saw him. I'm gonna get him.
[Popeye presses his search of the abandoned crematorium]
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Son of a bitch.

Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: This is Doyle. I'm sittin' on Frog One.
Bill Mulderig: Yeah, I know that. We got the Westbury covered like a tent.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: The Westbury my ass! I got him on the shuttle at Grand Central, now what the hell's going on up there?

Trivia
The car crash during the chase sequence, at the intersection of Stillwell Ave. and 86th St., was unplanned and was included because of its realism. The man whose car was hit had just left his house a few blocks from the intersection to go to work and was unaware that a car chase was being filmed. The producers later paid the bill for the repairs to his car.

Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman patrolled with Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso for a month to get the feel of the characters. Hackman became disgusted at the sights he saw during this patrol. In one incident he had to help restrain a suspect in the squad car and later worried that he would be sued for impersonating a policeman.

According to William Friedkin, the significance of the straw hat being tossed onto the shelf of the rear window in Doyle and Russo's car was that at that time it was a universal signal in New York City that the undercover cops in the car were on duty.

Trailer



A shame not a lot of people seem to be enjoying this film as much as I hoped recently, when I first saw it I loved it. It's quite style over substance, but I think it's one of the best of it's kind. Good review though.