Monkey's Reviews

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I'm not old, you're just 12.
Okay, i really liked Slay's thread like this, and I wanted to make my own if I could...And so my first review is:

Platoon(1986, directed by Oliver Stone)

(Five out of Five stars)

There have been countless war movies over the decades, especially in current years, and while many of them are very good, none of them reach the the level of brutal emotional honesty of Oliver Stone's best film, Platoon.

Based upon Vietnam veteran Stone's personal experiences, it stars Charlie Sheen in one of his first film roles as Chris Taylor, a soldier who volunteers to fight in the war as a way to escape the tedium of his upper-middle class existance, only to find that it may have been the biggest mistake of his life. As the film unfolds, Taylor is dragged unwillingly into a battle of wills between two very different men, the compassionate Sgt. Elias(willem Dafoe), and the battle scarred and merciless Sgt. Barnes(Tom Berenger). Lines are drawn within the platoon, and soon, the men find that they are not only fighting the Viet Cong, but themselves as well.

Seeing Platoon for the first time is an overwhelming experience. It is full of disturbing, casual violence, a forboding sense of death hangs thick in the air, and Stone offers us no comforting "heroics" to put the audience at ease. In the world of the film there is no right or wrong, no good or evil, there exists only shades of grey. Elias is portrayed as a kind man at first, but he is also a drug addict, which is careless and dangerous while in a war zone. Barnes is portrayed as a brutal killer, but as the film goes along, you get a sense that here is a formerly decent man who was willing to become a monster to survive. Taylor, who could be considered the film's hero, also does a lot of things that are shocking in their cruelty, even as he is conflicted about them. Most of the characters exist in this moral grey area, neither being bad or good, but just being frightened human beings pushed to the absolute limits of endurance.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with Sheen standing as the film's (admittedly shakey) moral center, and some stellar performances by Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe. Also of note is a very young Johnny depp in a blink and you'll miss him translator, and a truly frightening performance from Kevin Dillon as the amoral and sociopathic Bunny.

Stone directs the film with a visual poetry which contrasts with the raw language and brutal acts portrayed onscreen. Vietnam itself is at once beautiful and dangerous, the view of the sky is usually blocked by the thick jungle foliage. This clausterphobic cinematography is effective in creating a sense of being trapped and hopeless in a strange place.

In the end, Platoon emerges as a deeply moving film about the loss of innocence, the struggle to retain some humanity in the most extreme circumstances, and how far people are willing to go to survive. Perhaps todays war films surpass it for onscreen carnage, but none come close to Oliver Stone's deeply personal and harrowing opus.
"You, me, everyone...we are all made of star stuff." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

Good review Monkey... ... welcome to the "sticky club" ...
You never know what is enough, until you know what is more than enough.
~William Blake ~

AiSv Nv wa do hi ya do...
(Walk in Peace)

I'm not old, you're just 12.
Chance (2003, directed by Amber Benson)

Three out of Five stars

Chance is a low budget independant film directed and written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Amber Benson. The film tells a story about Chance (amber Benson), a disaffected twenty-something artist and the strange events of a few weeks that threaten to upend her confused and unconventional life. The first scene alone will grab the viewers attention, as Chance's couch dwelling roommate, Simon (James Marsters) finds the body of a woman in the bedroom of their apartment, dead of an apparent overdose. The film then goes through the events that led up to this, but not in any particular order, like a story being told by a person with a short attention span might sound. And that is an accurate description of Chance. She is fickle, sometimes cold and careless in how she treats others, and desperate for affection. Her life is thrown into disarray when her mother moves in and announces that she is getting a divorce, a wronged ex-boyfriend appears on her doorstep looking for answers about what went wrong, Chance falls for a singer (Andy Hallett) who is not what he appears to be, and of course, there's the dead woman in her bed.

Amber Benson emerges as a talented and creative writer/director, having characters talk directly to the audience, and in some scenes, having singer-songwriter Grant Langston sing hilariously crass and heartbreaking songs onscreen, similar to Johnathan Richman's role as the narrator in There's Something About Mary, but more foul-mouthed. Benson herself gets most of the films best lines, most of which are unprintable here, and she gives a funny and touching performance as the film's heroine. The cast features some of Benson's Buffy co-stars, such as Marsters, who gives a hilariously ego free performance as the dorky and sensitive Simon, a role that is far removed from his bad guy vamipre persona as Spike, and a cameo appearance by Buffy screenwriter David Fury.

Chance is a good film, but is too short and at times it's low budget really shows. But it is still an impressive film debut and hopefully we will see more from Amber Benson in the future.

I've never heard of Chance, so I'll pass on commenting on it, other than saying nice review.

Your review of Platoon is great Monkey. I'm surprised that you had never seen it until now. I also think that Platoon is one of Stone's best movies, second only to JFK. I've also always been a big fan of Tom Berenger, I miss seeing him in the better movies nowadays.

What I really like about this movie is the cinematography. The way the movie is filmed brings back memories of being in the field. There are a lot of military movies that won’t do that to me, it’s kind of a gauge for me. The scene at the beginning of the final battle where Sheen is waiting in the dark for the enemy to arrive and the flare goes off above the trees, lighting the enemy through the canopy…it always gives me chills. That’s so damn realistic, it’s scary. The lighting is superb.

I like your passage, “In the world of the film there is no right or wrong, no good or evil, there exists only shades of gray.” because it is so accurate. Although, I’m having a hard time remembering what Sheen’s character did to make him the sort of anti-hero you make him out to be. Oh wait, the cripple in the hut. That’s right. That scene was terrible.

Anyway, thanks for posting your reviews, bro. I hope to see a whole lot more of them in the future.
"Today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids."

Mother! Oh, God! Mother! Blood!
Great review of Platoon! This film had a huge impact on me when I saw it at the theater (twice). I was SO glad I came of age during an era without a draft. I was almost in tears as Barnes shoots and kills the woman who wouldn't stop screaming. The look on her husband's face was heart-wrenching.
NEW (as of 1/24/05): Quick Reviews #10

Thanks for the reviews Monkeyboy, I am not a war movie fan, after reading your" Platoon" review I have decided to change that and have a look at it.
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

I'm not old, you're just 12.
From Dusk Till Dawn (Directed by Robert Rodriguez)

Four out of Five Stars

I'm in a horror movie mode, so I thought I would review one of my favorite horror/comedies.

Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn is one of the most unique movies I have ever seen. The film starts out as your usual mid nineties crime caper film, sort of like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, the Usual Suspects, or any of the films in the whole "Elmore Leonard" genre. (so many of the films from this decade owe a lot to Dutch Leonard, I figure give credit where it's due.) Two escaped criminals, Seth and Ritchie Gecko (Geprge Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) are carving a bloody path across Texas into Mexico and towards freedom, or so they hope. Seth is a confident, charismatic outlaw, while his brother Ritchie is quirky, soft spoken, and incredibly impulsive. The two have little to nothing in common, but Seth is determined to protect his brother and keep him out of trouble. In a way, the first half of the film is like Quentin Tarantino presents "Of Mice and Men," if George and Lennie were bank robbers.

After Ritchie kills their hostage (Why he does is never explained), the brothers hijack an RV owned by a pastor (Harvey Kietel) and his family (Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu) and force them to drive it to the town of El Ray, Mexico, a haven for criminals escaping American law enforcement. Once there, they are told to wait untill dawn at a strip bar for truckers known as the Titty Twister. This is where things get weird. The bar is run by "the most evil woman in the world," Satanika Pandaemonium (Salma Hayek), who also happens to be the queen of the vampires. The rest of the film is an all out horror show, with huge doses of black humor and ultra-violence, bringing up the question, will the brothers even make it through the night, let alone to freedom?

The main players all turn in great performances, but this really is Clooney's movie. He takes what is probably the most ludicrous of all premises and plays it to the hilt, with equal doses of charisma and menace, and I really don't think he has ever been better onscreen since. Tarantino is surprisingly good, considering that his cameo in Pulp Fiction was so jaw droppingly bad, it threatened to bring that film to a crashing halt. He seems to find his niche pretty early on in the film, and does a credible job in his final screen performance. Harvey Kietel doesn't make a big impression, except for his chewy southern accent which you can tell he is struggling with. Also of note is Dawn of the Dead's Tom Savini as a trucker named Sex Machine, Fred Williamson (Shaft!) as a vietnam vet, and a very young Juliette Lewis as Kietel's sexy daughter. (Also, be on the lookout for cameos by some of Rodriguez's Troublemaker Studios regulars, such as Cheech Marin in a triple role.)

The film is gruesome, in extremely poor taste, overly violent, and is there any doubt as to why I loved it? Rodriguez is by far the current reigning B-Movie king, having directed this, The El Mariachi trilogy (El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once Upon a Time In Mexico), a hilarious Sci-Fi send up (the Faculty), and, most famously, the three Spy Kids films. He uses his low bugets to create films that look better than most blockbusters and directs with a style that few people could duplicate, a mixture of Sam Raimi (Evil Dead 2), John Woo (Hard Boiled), and Sergio Leone (A Fistfull of Dollars). The script by Quentin Tarantino is gloriously self indulgent, literally bathing the characters, and audiences, in rivers of blood and carnage, and assaulting the ears with hilariously profane dialogue. The film owes a lot to the aforementioned Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, as well as George A. Romero(Dawn Of The Dead), Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Braindead), and Stephen King (Salem's Lot, Pet Sematary) in equal measures. From dusk till Dawn has already earned it's midnight movie cult status, but if you haven't seen it, do your self a favor and do so.

Nice reviews. I haven't seen Chance, but by and large I agree with you on Platoon and From Dusk Till Dawn.
Keep'em coming.
Let us go, Through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster shells

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S.Eliot

Mother! Oh, God! Mother! Blood!
I've never been an open From Dusk 'til Dawn fan. However, I've found myself on a few occasions unable to turn the channel when it has been on the TV. My initial reaction to the film was poor. I don't know if that reaction was based on a high expectation, or whether I just didn't "get it" the first time around. After a couple more viewings, I am liking it more and more.

From Dusk till Dawn is definately one of those films you can watch again and again, its the Clooney show, and I agreee, that he has rarely been better.

I liked the first half of the movie, but when the fighting started...well, suffice it to say, I hated it.

I'm not old, you're just 12.
I have been meaning to write more reviews, I swear I have, but I have been hella busy. But I am gonna post reviews of "Anchorman" and "Dodgeball" as soon as I get the time.

Originally Posted by Monkeypunch
I have been meaning to write more reviews, I swear I have, but I have been hella busy.
You are only forgiven if you are having a busy social life.

I'm not old, you're just 12.
Originally Posted by nebbit
You are only forgiven if you are having a busy social life.
I am actually! all is cool in Monkeytown. LOL. ANNNNNNNDDDDD, I have a new review for Y'all!

Super Size Me (written and directed by Morgan Spurlock)

Five out of Five stars

Honestly, after this movie, I will never eat at McDonalds again.....

Super Size Me is probably the best piece of cinema as social protest I have seen in a long time. Prompted by a recent lawsuit in which the parents of two obese children sued the McDonalds corporation, director Morgan Spurlock decided to eat nothing but McDonalds food every single day for every single meal for an entire month. With the help of three doctors and a fitness trainer, Spurlock determined the amount of exercise an average American gets per day and limited himself to just that and nothing more, in attempt to prove that fast food is indeed responsible for the epidemic of obesity in this country.

The film starts off as a wise @ss prank, with Spurlock playing the part of a smirking provocateur, very much in the Michael Moore vein, but then, as his health takes a turn for the worse and his doctors start warning him of his high risk of liver failure and heart disease, it becomes deadly serious. Suddenly Spurlock isn't so smugly funny, and seeing him down burger after burger is cringe inducing. It even interferes with his relationship with his understanding, but long suffering girlfriend, a Vegan chef. Throughout, Spurlock turns a sharp eye at the fast food industry, McDonalds first and foremost, and what he finds is pretty horrifying, and a segment filmed in an elementary school cafeteria will make those of you with children shudder, knowing where your tax dollars go (and it isn't towards feeding your kids healthy meals, i can tell you that.)

Super Size Me is at once a comedy, a tragedy, a documentary, a horror story and a scathing piece of agitprop cinema. I highly recommend that you see it.

did you see Super Size Me in Theaters or on dvd? i wanna see it.! Great Review Monkey, when is it coming out on dvd if it isnt already

I'm not old, you're just 12.
Originally Posted by Zzat
did you see Super Size Me in Theaters or on dvd? i wanna see it.! Great Review Monkey, when is it coming out on dvd if it isnt already
I saw it in the theaters. No clue when it's on DVD.

I'm not old, you're just 12.
Another day, FINALLY more

Kill Bill (written and directed by Quentin Tarantino)

Five out of Five stars

The following review is of the entire Kill Bill, both volumes watched one after the other. this is an experience that must be had by all.

Quentin Tarantino's 4th film, Kill Bill is at once a brilliant bit of film making, a fierce (and funny) pull-out-all-the-stops action film, and a gleeful middle finger to the indie cinema establishment. The (admittedly thin) story follows a woman (Uma Thurman) known simply as "The Bride," and her bloody trek across many countries to get revenge on the man who put a bullet in her head on her wedding day, her former boss and lover, simply named Bill. But it is hardly going to be easy. Bill's operatives, The Deadly Viper Assasination Squad, comprised of Suburban housewife Vernita Green (Vivica Fox), Yakuza boss O-ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Bill's sad sack little brother Budd (Michael Madsen), and the sarcastic and lethal assasin Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) all lie in wait before she can get to the man himself.

Volume One:

The first Volume is almost entirely action. It is a two hour homage to Asian action cinema, the hard boiled anti-heroes of John Woo, the noble samurai warriors of Akira Kurosawa, the lightening fast action of Shaw Brothers films, and even the brutal cool of Anime, all get the Tarantino treatment, with dazzling results. Unlike Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon," "Kill Bill Volume 1" doesn't attempt to make the martial arts genre poetic or respectable, it instead celebrates just how fun b-grade kung-fu films really are. The fights are spectacular and bloody, well staged and brutal. But what makes Kill Bill vol. 1 really stand out is in the performances. Uma Thurman is the epitome action movie cool, with her death eye stare and fierce determination. She wisely underplays the character, letting her actions (and some dead cool dialogue) define her. Lucy Liu is great as the first part's primary nemesis, the icy boss of the Tokyo underworld, letting a few well placed bits of shocking violence establish her character, and she also gets the only backstory in the entire movie, an animated sequence that literally took my breath away. Kill Bill Volume one also features appearnces by hong kong legends Sonny Chiba (the Street Fighter) and Gordon Liu (The 36 Chambers of Shaolin), as well as cult heroine Chiaki Kuriyama (Battle Royale). Noticable in his absence, although his presence is felt throughout the film, is Bill. His voice is heard and he is built up as a major threat, but Tarantino wisely keeps him out of sight untill....

Volume Two:

Volume two finds the Bride en route to kill Bill and finds the emotional core of the story that was missing in the first half. Unlike volume one, where she was an unstoppable juggernaut of revenge, volume two makes her more fallable, and ultimately more human. It also introduces us fully to characters only really hinted at in the beginning of vol. 1, Bill, Budd, and Elle Driver. Budd is a bouncer at a strip joint run by a cocaine addicted boss, and has had a falling out with his brother Bill. Elle, bill's top assasin and current lover, is just ice cold and unfeeling, almost the opposite number of the Bride, who is motivated entirely by emotion. and what to say about Bill? Bill is ruthless, cruel, sadistic...and a very sad old man nearing the end of his days. Yes, absolutely is what it seems in the world of this film, and Tarantino delights in shocking, surprising, and even delivering an emotional impact heretofore not seen in any of his previous work. David Carradine pretty much owns the second film, his performance is one of menace, charm, humor, and heartbreak. He is a masterful actor and this should (and would in a perfect world) win him a best actor nomination at next years oscars. Michael Madsen plays against type, stripping away all of the cool of his iconic "mr. Blonde" and instead playing a beaten down, alcoholic loser who won't forgive or forget, and who seems to have already accepted his eventual death. Daryl Hannah is all business as a double crossing assasin and delivers the best performance of her career. also look for Gordon Liu (again) playing brutal martial arts master (and Shaw Brothers staple) Pai Mei in a brilliant and funny flashback sequence. (the original Pai Mei, Lo Lieh, famed star of "five fingers of death" passed away in 2002 and was not available to reprise his role as the impossibly skilled master.) Volume 2 borrows from the film styles of italian directors Sergio Leone, mario Bava and Lucio Fulci without ever seeming derivative, setting it apart from it's manic first half.

Kill Bill deserves to be viewed in it's original form as a four hour long movie about love, hate, revenge, and eventually, redemption. It's easily the best film i have seen in years and It comes with my HIGHEST possible recommendation.

A system of cells interlinked
Good work Monkey.....

btw, just watched the musical again (BtVS), love it....
“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell