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“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”
I want to state how impressed I often am by the reviews posted on this forum. Many of you have the ability to analyze a movie and articulate your thoughts in a way I truly admire.

I realize this not a talent I possess. I hope that you guys take these reviews without umbrage, as my way of trying to contribute to a community I take a lot from. The content will often be scattered and random, but that's just the way I see it.

Falling Down

Ex Machina

The Drop


“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”

Falling Down (1993)

Falling Down is a film about a man (William Foster) who finally snaps, when he cannot bear the perceived injustices of society anymore.

Most of the thoughts on this movie seem to revolve around the racial and societal topics. These have been well documented and don't need me to retread them. I want to spin a different a view, one that is abstract at best.

Michael Douglas's appearance has always been the most striking thing to me about this movie. The flat-top haircut, wire-rimmed glasses, short sleeve button up shirt and tie (before tie bars were cool again), immediately paint him as a man that is out of touch. He is a relic of an era long gone and seems like a square peg the world is trying to force into a round hole. It seems like he is attempting to hold on to something that was near and dear to him.

Towards the later part of the movie, you get a glimpse at William's personal life. His mother, his home, family videos of his own family. All of of a sudden, I became consumed by the idea of what was his father like? I doubt there was any intention of this on Shumacher's part, but my thoughts kept leading me to this man.

I envisioned the stereotypical 50's family with the authoritarian father. Dad brings home the bacon, dad tells mom what to do, father knows best. This was William's strongest influence growing up and would lead to a belief system that would be his undoing.

I see William as a man that envisioned his life turning out like his father's. He had done everything he was brought up to believe and it never materialized. Everything he ever knew had failed him and he finally loses all hope.

Falling Down is possibly Michael Douglas's best performance. I was left believing I had just seen evil incarnate. Whether or not William was born this way or formed by society will keep me guessing.

random bits:

- William at one point is described as being in his thirties. Douglas was born in 1944 and looked every bit of being in his late forties in this film.

- The climatic scene takes place outside of a food hut. The outside is scattered with various postings, of which are a couple of Mc Hammer in all his glory. Scene breaker.

It has been years since I watched Falling Down. I liked it but don't remember being as enamored with it as a lot of people are. I should give it a reurn visit eventually. The way people describe it makes me think I would love it.

“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”
Time has altered my perception. I "remembered" thinking this guy was standing up for the little guy. Now I see him as somebody going through a psychotic episode, unwilling or unable to come to terms. I really grew to dislike William by the end.

Glad to see you're doing a review thread too
It's a good personal review too. It's a long time since I've seen Falling Down, so would have to watch it again before I could comment on it. Memories not as good as it was!

Falling Down holds up. I rewatched it a few months ago and probably enjoyed it more than the first time. It's not mindblowing, but it's just a great example of how to use the medium to build tension, and the catharsis of letting it go. Just a really solid movie all around with a great sense of pacing.

Oh, forgot to mention: good review! Keep 'em coming. And I don't think people mind in the least when reviews are personal and subjective and upfront about it.

“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”

Ex Machina (2015)

There are certain things in this world I have a fondness for. Contemporary design, beauty and things that are left of center. Alex Garland's directorial debut appeals to all of these and includes a score by Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury that helps bring it all together.

The story revolves around Caleb, (Domnhall Gleeson) a young coder at Blue Book (think google), its reclusive CEO, Nathan (Oscar Isaac) and Nathan's human like AI, AVA (Alicia Vikander). Young Caleb wins a trip to visit Nathan in his remote "home" and help test AVA's ability to pass the Turing test. I will leave the rest for you to experience for yourself.

I was first taken by the architecture and design of Nathan's "home". Cut into the earth with exposed interior rock facings, stainless steel and glass abound in a home that would make a Bond villain proud. This is the type of "home" that is only built by enormous wealth and foreshadows Nathan before he even appears. It is easy for me to imagine the types of things that could happen in a place like this, given such vast resources.

The majority of the film revolves around Caleb and his interaction with Nathan and AVA. Isaac is wonderful in portraying the obnoxious, overbearing Nathan. Gleeson is well suited as his counterpart, with his spinal fortitude in question and awkwardness in tow.

Despite this, AVA steals the shows. Alicia Vikander is a classically trained ballerina and appears to be the perfect choice as AVA. Her control of body movement, articulations and facial expressions convey an undercurrent of artificial life nearing the precipice of human facsimile. I just loved this performance. AVA is a beauty, that in spite of her exposed workings, still manages to appeal to the human range of emotions.

I will leave the rest for you to discover. Ex Machina was a welcome viewing, before the onslaught of popcorn in the coming weeks. Thought provoking indeed, it left me impressed with a slight knock to my self confidence .

+ Great design, camera work and score
+ Alicia Vikander

- having to wait 5 minutes for an order of fries I assumed were already made when a secret was revealed.

Sounds interesting DD. I heard an interview about Alicia Vikander being a ballerina and the adaptation of her movements into the film. Thanks for the review. I'll have to watch that

“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”

I remember seeing trailers for The Drop and thinking it looked like a snug lil' crime movie. Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini (his last movie before he passed) and Noomi Rapace (still looking nothing like the lady from Prometheus), seemed like a sure bet. Like many things, I never got around to seeing it and slowly drifted into the ether. Needless to say, I had missed out on a real winner.

Bob (Tom Hardy) keeps bar at his cousin's Marv (James Gandolfini) bar in Brooklyn. Bob seems like a regular guy that could have been dropped on his head as a babe. He communicates and interacts fine, but his actions come across like they are a page behind. Hardy plays Bob like a guy you can count on, not easily sidetracked, moving from one thing to the next regardless of the situation.

Marv is the namesake of Cousin Marv's bar and related to Bob. His name is on the building, but the bar is no longer his. After a change of owernship, Marv's is now in the rotation of drop-offs for various illegal monies. The belief being, that would be stick-up crews don't know where the score is on any given night. In light of Hardy playing a character new to me, Gandolfini is Gandolfini. The facial expressions, the seething, and a dash of know what you got here.

The introduction of Noomi Rapace's character Nadia, serves as the jump-off for the story. One night when Bob is leaving work, he hears the sound of a whimpering dog. Looking in a set of trash cans in front of a home, he finds an abandoned and beaten pit bull puppy. In the process of rescuing the dog, Nadia comes out of the house and away we go.

I will leave the rest for you to experience. This was not the movie I expected, but one I enjoyed immensely. Of all the stuff I have seen in recent memory, this was first to affect my emotions. Mainly, a sense of paranoia. By no means is this a thriller, but I was really concerned with what was going to happen to Bob. The situations that begin to unfold left me nervous and uneasy.

The Drop delivered what I seek the most in movies, an experience. Often, I find movies hard to watch because I am detached from what is happening. I was thoroughly engrossed from the beginning to end and reminded of why I am so often enamored by the movies.

“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”
I view my attempts at reviewing movies as an exercise in futility when it comes to writing a cohesive or insightful piece of read (pronounced reed). With that said, in the spirit of being a contributing member to this community, I am going to attempt to review the movies in my current top five between now and the day I leave this mortal coil. With no further adieu, I present...

“Sugar is the most important thing in my life…”
Predator (1987)
Director: John McTiernan

If there has ever been an overdose of testosterone put to film, Predator is guilty as charged. Take arguably the greatest action hero, an ensemble cast of tuff guys led by Jesse the Body and Apollo Creed, and an antagonist unlike any had ever seen before and you have a young boy’s dream.

Part of my connection to this film was seeing it at a young age and the impression that it made on me. Kudos to you pop, you remembered what it was like to be a kid. My recent viewing led me realize this is not the perfect action movie, but it’s still the best.

Made during the heyday of the 80’s R-rated action movie, Predator starts out full of piss and vinegar. Introduce the most macho-macho team ever in obligatory full-on posing and leering. Film the greatest handshake ever. Show black helos erratically flying side-to-side over South American jungle canopy to the insertion point. It does all this while establishing the roles of an elite team of military specialists, set to Alan Silvestri’s amazing score. You know you can hear it in your head right now.

The opening assault on an *insert any generic bad guy camp you have seen from any action movie* is a necessary evil and the worst part of the movie for me. It is the definition of cliché and is filled with an over-abundance of under-shot blown-up ragdoll guys flying through the air and “I’m on fire zombie walkers”. I realize it sets the story in motion and allows the viewer to acclimate to the team, but it is horrible. On the bright side, it sets a vibrant contrast to the exquisiteness that is about to unfold.

What follows is one of the best filmed descents into hell that I have ever seen. McTiernan’s tracking shots through the jungle are a true thing of beauty. Filming the team traversing the smothering jungle, going up into the canopy, the final set-piece with its gigantic fallen tree are examples of immersion at its best. The story of the difficulty of the filming conditions and various issues with cast and crew only add to the legend of how he managed to portray this film.

A key part of Predator’s greatness lies in the jungle. A lack of any substantial field of vision and the sense of paranoia that it induces is thrilling. What’s out there? Not only is it not a man, but Death incarnate. I am tempted to make an analogy that this is judgement day for these men, but it feels like a square peg in a round hole when not all of the men receive the same fate.

The Predator is one of the iconic adversaries in movie history. 53 minutes of the film go by before the creature is revealed. Menacing, exotic, technologically superior and that sound. Everyone can be thankful that the original concept design was thrown out and Stan Winston was allowed to bring his design into the world. The Predator’s thermal imaging and invisibility camouflage effects are so well done that they come across better than most cgi done today. This creature is the stuff that nightmares are made of and not even the mighty cotton bedsheet could save you from it.

The alien hunter would have been wasted, if not for the role of Dutch that Arnold Schwarzenegger played. He was the ultimate badass and possibly the only person that was believable opposite the giant villain. All of this relied on his physical presence, which help to bolster his amateur acting skills. I won’t try to make any profound statement otherwise, because this was really all that this movie needed.

At the time of its release and the way I will always choose to remember it, Predator was the epitome of action. Perfect casting, unique enemy, brilliant location and great direction. In the current state of film, there will never be anything like it again. That is just fine by me.

Random Bits

- Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the Predator. The original design featured him in a red rubber suit. JCVD and the suit were quickly scrapped for myriad reasons

-Bill Dukes runs circles around everyone in this movie. Seriously. He is the only person that can act in the entire film and easily outshines his castmates.

-The famous clicking/gurgling sound the Predator makes throughout the movie was thought up by Peter Cullen. Cullen who thought the Predator creature resembled a "horseshoe crab" remembered as a kid how if you turned one over they would "gurgle" and that became the Predator's "sound".

-Sonny Landham (Billy) was required by the studio’s insurance company to have a bodyguard. This was in order to protect everyone else from him, due to his violent temper.
-The black helicopter pilot seen at the end of the movie is Kevin Peter Hall, the actor who plays the Predator.

-The weapon that Blain (Jesse Ventura) is using is a minigun. This is a weapon most commonly mounted on the side of a helicopter (or an aircraft carrier) and many, many modifications had to be made to make it usable in the film. It was powered via an electrical cable hidden down the front of Blain's trousers. The firing rate was slowed down to approximately 1/3rd the normal rate of fire, both to reduce consumption of blanks, and to make the spinning of the barrels visible on film.