Jack's Reviews

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Part of me thinks it's perfection, a mesmerising piece of genius
This is the part you need to listen to, not the other.

Great reviews Jack, nice to see how much you liked Goodfellas, my favorite movie, and also No Country for Old Men and Blue Velvet, which are also favorites of mine. I liked Thief more than you,
but would probably never get the urge to watch it again. You liked 2001 more than me; it's not for me, maybe some day, but not likely.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast overview: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham
Running time: 100 minutes

This review ends a temporary hiatus in my reviewing caused by starting university. The latter, ironically, was the reason I watched this film last night, as part of the film society, and I was pleasantly surprised. Wes Anderson has always struck me as someone who makes kooky, bizarre, and strange films - it's what he's probably known for, to be fair - so I wasn't much expecting to enjoy this as he didn't really seem my type of director. However, I did.

Firstly, it's Ralph Fiennes who steals the show with a fantastic, engaging performance, though most of the cast - strong and varied - offer breadth and depth to their roles, particularly Sam Neill. Not only this, but the film looks terrific, sounds terrific, is extremely well-made and well-directed, and is all-round a decent show of Anderson's abilities and idiosyncrasies to a newbie of his work. Considering the film's title, very little of it actually takes place in the hotel, compared to the prisons, trains, and countryside that form most of the setting. However, that's not a criticism - the other settings give it variety and probably stopped it from becoming stale and predictable.

It's based on Stefan Zweig's writings, but it really feels like a thoroughly original work - I certainly can't think of another film like it, and I'm sure you could say that about most of Anderson's films. I also wasn't expecting it to be funny, but it certainly was at many points, some of them quite subtle. I don't think this necessarily reaches greatness, but not every film does.

Overall, this is the first Wes Anderson film I've seen, but I doubt it'll be the last, as it was enjoyable, engaging, interesting, quirky, funny and unique. You could use many adjectives to describe this film but I don't think dull is one of them.

M. Gustave: Keep your hands off my lobby boy!

M. Gustave: You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, **** it.

M. Gustave: [to Mme. Celine's corpse] You're looking so well, darling, you really are... they've done a marvelous job. I don't know what sort of cream they've put on you down at the morgue, but... I want some.

Unlike most films, in which random and often repeated text is used, every time a newspaper article appears it is a detailed and complete depiction of the events in the headline.

The symbol worn by Edward Norton's character Henckels and his army is the head of Mr Fox from The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), also directed by Wes Anderson.

Tilda Swinton spent hours in the makeup chair to play 84-year-old dowager Madame D. "We're not usually working with a vast, Bruckheimer-type budget on my films, so often we're trying a work-around," said Wes Anderson. "But for the old-age makeup I just said, 'Let's get the most expensive people we can.'"


Grand Budapest is my favorite movie so far this year from my favorite director of the moment. I look forward to more of your reviews when you go farther into his filmography.

I've only seen Moonrise Kingdom from this director and I thought it was ok. I honestly don't know if his style is for me, but I'm going to watch some more of his films with an open mind.

Jack 1 you're dead, killed by a rabid dog.
“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

Shallow Grave (1994)

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast overview: Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston
Running time: 92 minutes

Shallow Grave, Danny Boyle's feature directorial debut, is a great film. It's a memorable, engaging modern British thriller of which there have been painfully few in the last couple of decades, straight from the sort of eighties US thrillers I often enjoy. Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor - both talented enough actors - appear in early starring roles, and both give adept performances, particular Eccleston who gives one of the most affecting and unsettling performances I've seen in a long while.

This isn't a long film - it's short, really - but it does what it needs to do in the time perfectly. The plot - three friends finding their flatmate dead and with a suitcase full of cash in his room - is incredibly simple, but Boyle gives it enough flesh on the bones to make it more engaging than many of the other similar-type films that end up becoming predictable and dull. One thing I didn't think this film was is predictable, often a death-knell for a film. Also, like much of the Coens' best work, there is subtle humour here as well, and I think comedy in a crime film often works well - it accentuates the very criminal elements that we come to see.

I saw someone describe this as a nineties Hitchcock film, and I think that's a great description. OK, it may not be quite as good as some of the master of suspense's best work, but it comes mighty close and leaves viewers reeling as they watch scenes full of everything from comedy to brutality to violence to greed. It also asks us questions - how far would you go for the money? Would you kill for it? Would you be deceptive? All questions that, while not explicitly stated, are undoubtedly at the forefront of the audience's minds as they're watching this.

I also found the score reminiscent of eighties thrillers, similar to the soundtracks the likes of Pino Donaggio and Carter Burwell would write for De Palma and the Coens respectively. Effective.

In short, this is, for me, one of the best directorial debuts I've seen in a long while, and - while I've not seen other Boyle films - I'll be sure to check out more from him, particularly as he's fairly highly acclaimed.

David Stephens: Victory is the same as defeat. It's giving in to destructive competitive urges.

David Stephens: Normally I don't usually meet people, unless I already know them.

David Stephens: I am not ashamed. I have known love. I have known rejection. I am not ashamed to declare my feelings; take trust for instance, or friendship. These are the important things in life. These are the things that matter, that help you on your way. If you can't trust your friends, well, what then... What then?... Oh, yes. I believe in friends. I believe we need them. But if one day you can't trust them any more, well, what then... What then?

Danny Boyle has stated that of the films he has directed, this is his father's favorite, and that whenever a new film directed by Boyle junior is released (including Slumdog Millionaire (2008), which won the academy award both for best film and best director) and he asks Boyle senior's opinion, his father's review is always the same - "It was good, but not as good as 'Shallow Grave'."

According to director Danny Boyle there's a sly connection between this film and his next film, Trainspotting (1996). Keith Allen portrays a drug dealer in both films leading us to believe he may be the same character in featured in both, as Trainspotting was suppose to take place in the late 80s before the occurrences in Shallow Grave.

Ewan McGregor's mother, Carol McGregor, has a cameo in the film as one of the prospective flatmates.


Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
Boyle's movies are pretty much all worthwhile, but he works in several genres and styles, so you get something different almost every time.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Boyle's movies are pretty much all worthwhile, but he works in several genres and styles, so you get something different almost every time.
Which would you recommend me watching next? I was thinking Trainspotting, seeing as that's perhaps his most acclaimed.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
That's fine - like I say, most are worthwhile, but most people have their own faves. That's as good as any if it interests you. I was a little disappointed with it, but most people around here seem to like it. My faves are probably 127 Hours, Millions and Slumdog Millionaire, but I know some people who have problems with those.

I've not seen anything of his that I particularly enjoyed, ( I've seen The Beach, Trainspotting, Millions, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire) but I'd like to see Trance because it sounded bonkers. That, and a lot of people seemed to not like it very much, which bodes well for me.

I really like 127 Hours. I have only seen that, Slumdog, The Beach, and Trance though. I will do Trainspotting some day because it is so well liked. I turned it on one night during the toilet scene and haven't returned.

Trainspotting is my favorite Danny Boyle film, but I've only seen like half of his work.

but I'd like to see Trance because it sounded bonkers. That, and a lot of people seemed to not like it very much, which bodes well for me.
Trance is terrible, but it features full-frontal from Rosario Dawson, if you're into that kinda thing.

The world doesn't owe you a damn thing
Shallow Grave is an EXCELLENT movie the blends both the comedic and the suspense scenes beautifully. Boyle was dead-on with this first film of his.
Great review, jack!

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast overview: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger
Running time: 153 minutes

I'm generally a split figure when it comes to Tarantino. There's part of me that thinks he makes really good action films and there's another part of me that thinks his films are samey, predictable action flicks. On this film, I'm pretty much with the latter half. I didn't enjoy this anywhere near as much as Django Unchained, really, which I still think is the best Tarantino I've seen - out of a small handful, I'll admit. The plot centres around a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders in occupied France during World War Two, alongside a Jewish woman's plan to do the same. Hardly ground-breaking stuff, but it's solid enough at first glance.

The acting here is a real mixed bag. On the one hand, we have Christoph Waltz, who is simply fantastic, menacing, and truly believable. I also thought he was great in Django Unchained, and he's quickly become one of my favourite actors. On the other hand, we have Brad Pitt, who delivers one of the most wooden performances I've seen in a long while. He's never been a great actor, for me, but here he's just really poor, hammy, predictable. I thought Melanie Laurent was very good, and there are some other performances that I haven't picked out but which added to the film.

Unfortunately, the whole film feels patchy. There are great moments of tension - such as the effective opening scene - and then there are long moments of not very much. Could be an issue with the pacing, but it was one of the things I picked up on. Again, it wasn't boring as such, but I just feel it could have been paced in a far better way - perhaps overlong is the word I'm looking for. What I do feel with Tarantino's films is that they follow, by and large, a set formula: in Django Unchained, we had the plantation-owners and slave-traders as the enemy; here, the Nazis are the enemy; and there seems to be a similar formulaic approach to most of his films. The phrase "once you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" comes to mind.

Still, this is - despite its many weaknesses - a solid enough film, but its high placing in the IMDb top 250, coupled with its seeming rapturous response, just confuses me. There are some interesting and genuinely tense moments, but they seem to go amiss when coupled with the overdone, predictable stuff that seems prevalent here. Not bad, but not Tarantino's best, in my opinion.

Lt. Aldo Raine: My name is Lt. Aldo Raine and I'm putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight Jewish-American soldiers. Now, y'all might've heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we'll be leaving a little earlier. We're gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we're in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin' guerrilla army, we're gonna be doin' one thing and one thing only... killin' Nazis. Now, I don't know about y'all, but I sure as hell didn't come down from the ******* Smoky Mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half of Sicily and jump out of a ****in' air-o-plane to teach the Nazis lessons in humanity. Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That's why any and every every son of a bitch we find wearin' a Nazi uniform, they're gonna die. Now, I'm the direct descendant of the mountain man Jim Bridger. That means I got a little Injun in me. And our battle plan will be that of an Apache resistance. We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. And they will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered, and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. And the German won't not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives. And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?
Sgt. Donny Donowitz, Pfc. Hirschberg, Pfc. Andy Kagan, Pfc. Simon Sakowitz, Pfc. Omar Ulmer, Pfc. Smithson Utivich, Cpl. Wilhelm Wicki, Pfc. Michael Zimmerman: YES, SIR!
Lt. Aldo Raine: That's what I like to hear. But I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors. When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y'all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin'.

Lt. Aldo Raine: Well, I speak the most Italian, so I'll be your escort. Donowitz speaks the second most, so he'll be your Italian cameraman. Omar speaks third most, so he'll be Donny's assistant.
Pfc. Omar Ulmer: I don't speak Italian.
Lt. Aldo Raine: Like I said, third best. Just keep your ****in' mouth shut. In fact, why don't you start practicing, right now!

Major Dieter Hellstrom: [in German] I must say I grow weary of these monkeyshines.
[Maj. Hellstrom cocks his Walther pistol and aims it at Lt. Hicox under the table]
Major Dieter Hellstrom: Did you hear that? That was the sound of my Walther. Pointed right at your testicles.
Lt. Archie Hicox: Why do you have your Walther pointed at my testicles?
Major Dieter Hellstrom: Because you've just given yourself away, Captain. You're no more German than that scotch.
Lt. Archie Hicox: Well, Major...
Bridget von Hammersmark: Major...
Major Dieter Hellstrom: Shut up, slut. You were saying?
Lt. Archie Hicox: I was saying that that makes two of us. I've had a gun pointed at your balls since you sat down.
[Stiglitz takes Hellstrom by the shoulder and aggressively forces a gun against his crotch]
Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz: That makes three of us. And at this range, I'm a real Frederick Zoller.
Major Dieter Hellstrom: Looks like we have a bit of a sticky situation here.
Lt. Archie Hicox: What's going to happen, Major... you're going to stand up and walk out that door with us.
Major Dieter Hellstrom: No, no, no, no, no, no. I don't think so. I'm afraid you and I... we both know, Captain... no matter what happens to anybody else in this room... the two of us aren't going anywhere. Too bad about Sergeant Wilhelm and his famous friends. If any of you expect to live, you'll have to shoot them too. Looks like little Max will grow up an orphan. How sad.
Lt. Archie Hicox: [In English] Well, if this is it, old boy, I hope you don't mind if I go out speaking the King's.
Major Dieter Hellstrom: By all means, Captain.
Lt. Archie Hicox: [picks up his glass of scotch] There's a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch. Seeing as how I may be rapping on the door momentarily...
[drinks his scotch]
Lt. Archie Hicox: I must say, damn good stuff, Sir.
[sets his glass down and smokes his cigarette]
Lt. Archie Hicox: Now, about this pickle... we find ourselves in. It would appear there's only thing left for you to do.
Major Dieter Hellstrom: And what would that be?
Lt. Archie Hicox: Stiglitz.
Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz: Say "auf Wiedersehen" to your Nazi balls.
[Stiglitz fires his gun into Hellstrom's crotch]

Roughly only 30% of the film is in spoken English, the language which dominates the film is either French or German, with a little Italian. Chapter Three of the film 'German Night in Paris' is completely devoid of any English. This is highly unusual for a Hollywood production.

Quentin Tarantino worked on the script for almost a decade.

In a roundtable discussion with Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino, Tarantino said that Til Schweiger, being born and raised in Germany, had always refused to put on a Nazi uniform for a film role. The only reason he agreed to for this film was because he got to kill Nazis.


Gone Girl (2014)

Director: David Fincher
Cast overview: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
Running time: 149 minutes

I'm a fan of David Fincher as a director, but I must be one of the only people who didn't enjoy this as much as the rest of the populace seem to have. Don't get me wrong, it was OK, but that's all I found it to be. Yes, there are plenty of twists and turns but, not only are these generally confusing to the extreme, but they also seem to be liberally thrown in on an ad hoc basis - one turn is followed by another, seemingly in a contradictory fashion.

Rosamund Pike is great here, as stunning as she is crazy. At the same time, she's believable. She's a believable nutter. Affleck, who certainly seems to be better as a director than as an actor, can't really be described as anything more than solid, I don't think, and he seems to be at the very limit of his acting powers here. He's not brilliant, but he suffices. Carrie Coon outshined Affleck for me as the latter's sister, and Neil Patrick Harris worked well here despite the obvious typecasting preconception.

I've not read Gillian Flynn's novel of this, so can't comment on how well the film follows the book, but I imagine it's pretty close. Another criticism I have of the film is its ending - I won't give too much away, but it just seemed a lazy cop-out to me, and the final thirty minutes seemed rushed and confused. Not only that, but there wasn't much tension throughout. I think announcing what happened early on was the film's death knell for me, as I lost a great deal of interest from that point as the film seemed to have been done and dusted within a short time.

So, despite my criticisms, it's not bad - OK, it's solid enough - but it could have been so much more, I feel, had it been better thought through. The ending let it down a lot for me - I might have otherwise given it a seven - but there are several problems I had with this. OK, but not much more.

Tanner Bolt: You two are the most ****ed up people I've ever met and I deal with ****ed up people for a living.

Amy Dunne: What's the laptop for?
Nick Dunne: Laptopping!

Margo Dunne: [discussing what kind of wood item Nick is going to give to Amy for their 5th wedding anniversary, the "wood" anniversary] So what are you going to give her?
Nick Dunne: I don't know, there's nothing good for wood.
Margo Dunne: I know what you can do. You go home and **** her brains out. Then you take your penis and smack her in the face with it, and you say, "There's some wood, bitch!"

Ben Affleck postponed directing a film in order to work with David Fincher. "He's the only director I've met who can do everybody else's job better than they could," states Affleck. On set one day, Affleck changed the lens setting on a camera an almost indiscernible amount, betting a crew member that Fincher wouldn't notice. "But ********* if he didn't say, 'Why does the camera look a little dim?'"

In order to figure out his character, Ben Affleck researched and studied several men who were accused and convicted of killing their wives. He paid particular attention to Scott Peterson.

Ben Affleck would constantly sing '80s songs in between takes. Impressed, Tyler Perry decided to start a game that ended up lasting the entire duration of filming. Perry would start to sing the most random song he could think of to see if Affleck would start singing along. According to Perry, Affleck knew all of the words to every single song Perry threw at him, including ones by Barbra Streisand.