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I don't know about hate but movies I used to love but now like...one off of the top of my head would be Ghost World with Thora Birch. Used to be one of my favorites and now I just think it's pretty good.



Liquid Sky
(1982)
Director: Slava Tsukerman


An alien saucer the size of a dinner plate lands atop a penthouse roof top as a vantage point to snipe heroin addicts in the new wave scene to collect their euphoric brain reactions to the drug. This same chemical reaction is similar to a sexual orgasm, and soon the host of these encounters becomes a killer by default, making everyone come and then die.


This is one of the most beautifully visual films I have ever seen and the premise alone isn't done justice by my quick assessment up top. Inside the seemingly amateurish staging of Liquid Sky is a brilliant science fiction erotic film, accented with inspired writing, authentic performances and truly original musical score.

The costuming and neon design is just the beginning as you venture into this movie. Every camera set-up seems to be premeditated with extreme care. Gels on the windows painting a yellow and foggy Empire State Building as a figurehead from the penthouse, exquisite face paint in day-glo fashion, and subtly placed humor.




Some of the scenes pass for soft core porn, and the language is strong throughout, but that only keeps this experience convincing. Pretension abound, we have performance art interspersed between the plot, and it's a laugh. I think it may even know it's a laugh because during some of the performances there is dialog that points to this. "My rhythm box is sweet. Never Forgets A beat. Do you want to know why? Do you want to know why? It Is Pre Programmed. So what. So what. Me Me and. Me and my. Rhythm Box Are you. Jealous?"

Liquid Sky was forever trapped on VHS and Betamax cassette for decades before finally having a proper transfer from its 35mm source and man does it look good now! Vinegar Syndrome has released a beautifully scanned and packaged presentation of this cult hit. I highly recommend you pick a copy up before they are out of print.



The movie is perverse, vulgar, funny, dramatic, infinitely interesting and gorgeous looking on most every facet of its meager $500,000 budget. B-Movie heaven, in other words.

Before I sign off I have to mention the soundtrack which is straight from director Slava's uneducated mimings. A novice collection of early samplers, Fairlight Musical Synthesis and oddly metered neo-classical bits that sound like part of a suffocated circus.







Paterson (2016)
Director: Jim Jarmusch

Now that I've I've seen every JJ film except his newest vampire tale and Paterson, I figured I'd watch Paterson last night finally.

I didn't like it very much. I appreciated the themes of love, following your dreams, identifying as an artist when a lucky streak subsides and Jarmusch's usual meditative routines that make his movies interesting and funny. I could not get past the laughing at one's own joke, though, and I could not get past pining for approval from mainstream audiences with a politically aware agenda, which is peppered in the film at the most awkward but also transparently opportune times.

Jarmusch is basically the master at slow and contemplative comedy in American cinema. When I started Paterson I had hopes he would continue on with this, and for the most part he has. It's just when I hear a recurring joke built in that has to do with bursting into a fire ball, I expect not to be pressured to laugh with the main character breaking reality with such an impossible coincidence as he laughs at someone's same reaction he's heard thrice in one day. The film was written to be a comedy drama, with recurring humor set to drop dry and lightly, but instead now we have the main character laughing at the joke repeatedly. I am sorry but this bothers me, it takes something very sacred away from the craft of setting up humor in such a way as to not ruin it with becoming aware of it. This type of comedy does not work the way it should once everyone is laughing at it in the film. It's for the audience to pick up on an laugh at, not the lead character.


Aside from that I did not care for the approval seeking. This is a dandy love letter to New Jersey but frankly, why should I care so much? This probably works for people who live there, or people interested in the lineage and history there, but to the every day film goer this feels like it wants to be a documentary set on high fiction. The bus ride scenes were particularly bad, with various characters dropping paragraphs that really have nothing to do with anything aside from a reactionary shot of the driver played by star Adam Driver, funnily enough. What's also funny is that Driver's name in the film is Paterson, and he drives the Paterson bus. Hardy har.

I didn't hate this movie, don't get me wrong. It had some very tender moments I liked. But for all the tenderness, there was such an unorganized bouquet of themes and moments that seemed like they didn't belong, and I also felt kind of icky watching this. It felt forced. These characters didn't feel like they fit in this world and I cannot really pinpoint why I felt that. Also, this film got the R rating, but only because of some totally unnecessary MF and F words dropped in a bar scene. I was like "but why?". I mean, it's cool that Jarmusch wants the freedom of an R rated film, but earn it, buddy. Don't just push it into R territory with words that did nothing for the scene whatsoever.

I've seen much better from this director. I'll give this my passing grade, but I'll never need to revisit this, sadly. It was OK. It had its moments of inspiration, but it was muddled and tried a bit too hard to tread new waters and it didn't mix for me personally.




Magnolia (1999)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

I keep coming back to Magnolia. What writing! What film making! Paul Thomas Anderson. If he was ever a true film genius this would be my pick of film to illustrate what film genius is. It's not just the dollied camera movements and long shots following people throughout the television studio, or pan whipping one scene to another, and it's not just the amazing score or tasteful use of classic rock music, it's the characters and what they bring to the table, how they springboard from the writing.

Tom Cruise plays Tom Cruise, Mr. Scientology, except now it's "respect the cock". He's a misogynist of the highest order, on a mission to dominate the female species, but he's being tested, and his past is coming back to haunt him, and remind him, of the pain he endured to end up where he is now.

I'm not gonna run down the entire cast here. This movie is over three hours long, and it's worth every minute of it. I see people recoil or treat this film with a lukewarm comment, not giving it its due. This is one of those movies that is so good...it's probably too good for a lot of people to even comprehend. It blows hair back on so many levels. Critics might get caught up with the unrealistic moments, or the songs, or the musical number..all of that is superficial, and it's part of the craft of the film. I'll never understand how someone can expect a movie to be "only one way". It's very close minded thinking, especially when faced with a film like this. I have been guilty of thinking this, too. I am back and forth with Magnolia. Is it super pretentious and gooey? Not really. It's an expertly made film that reaches back to the 60's, 70's and 80's into the 90's as very much its own thing, reinventing cinema, much like Boogie Nights did, except the writing here is much more human.

PTA knows how to turn the drama volume up to full blast while still making it funny. He pulls out every stop he can. Ever wanted to make the world's best mixtape to someone you had a crush on, and tell her the most heart wrenching story to win her love? Paul Thomas Anderson made one.

How much do you want to bet there won't be another like Magnolia?




There Will Be Blood (2007)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Plot Discussion Below - Spoilers


I kept going back to this movie every few years because I wasn't mentally accepting of it's qualities. Recently I've felt able to take it in again and assess it properly.

Though I do not feel that this is a very important story, I enjoyed this film a lot. It's slow but never dull. The music employs an odd percussiveness and pizzicato string section that pours a tense molasses-like nausea over the proceedings.

Daniel Day-Lewis portrays a straightforward but terrifying tycoon impossibly well. His slow descent into madness and self realization followed by a blinding denial is amazing. His nemesis is any form of competition, namely himself. The smart people are well advised to keep their distance from him, not least of which his son, who was deafened early on in his young life by an explosion of virgin oil spring.

Tycoon Plainview has his shlt list, and at the top of this list is a vain charlatan priest who taunts Lewis's character from day one, starting with a finder's fee, and later with guilt trips. Plainview relaxedly dismisses and snubs this priest, later physically punishing him like a rag doll, because he knows, and he has known, that this man of God is just a boy. A prickly, bothersome, self centered snake in the grass. He has no respect for him, and his satanic tendencies are able to be carried out in half swing, throughout a strong decade of resentment, until the bell tolls for both of them.

Anderson's direction is as bold and precise as any great director of the ages. How else can an actor with chops like Lewis inhabit such a beast man without a freedom and commitment from a director who knows exactly how to milk his cast, and how to capture such nuance in his characters, right down to the demonic growl of a whisky and nicotine stained vocal chord, bubbling like cold oil at the thought of a son becoming a sole entity for oil drilling?

That's a long question, and this is a long movie. It's a drawn out study and a dirty little comedy. It's true that Daniel Day embodies that of a Larry David persona so well when he spouts out his well sharpened dialog, just as Paul Dano's possessed man child voice frying gets under the skin so much that one cannot help but start giggling. Many may think that this is solely a dramatic work, but a closer inspection reveals that Anderson's writing is filled with jokes and riffs that simply cannot have been concocted without a madman sense of humor.

I picture PTA up late at night, after a few too many lines of cocaine, furiously writing and laughing passionately with a charcoal crayon over plain white paper, sweating, drinking, talking on the phone set to speaker, using a yes man personal assistant as a spring board. Someone paid to listen and agree. This may not be enough. Paul is too smart to think yes man agrees with him. So he writes the bit about Plainview getting deeply disturbed that his alleged brother has not laughed at his joke concerning prostitutes getting liquored up. He hangs up and calls Daniel Day Lewis's agent at 1:30 A.M.

The next morning, there's an answering machine message from Lewis's agent. He'd like to come talk to Paul and be there for script development.

This may seem far fetched, but judging from this film and how it plays out, I cannot imagine anything much less than something as extravagant as that happening in the creative process of this critic proof film.




Stakeout (1987)
Director: John Badham

John Badham, director of Saturday Night Fever, Blue Thunder, Short Circuit, The Hard Way, and WarGames tries his hand at buddy comedy and mostly succeeds thanks to Richard Dreyfuss, and basically just Richard Dreyfuss. This is back when Dreyfuss was super confident and manic. His humor was at its highest level because he wasn't afraid to make strange sounds with his voice or laugh ridiculously, or carry on a tone of voice from one circumstance to the next just by making that decision. He was a funny guy, and thanks to his casting, Stakeout is mostly a funny movie.

Emilio Estevez plays his partner assigned to be on stakeout with him. They must observe a latin woman across the street from their run down and gutted apartment whose ex-boyfriend is an escaped convict. Naturally, after seeing her through the telescope and making lewd gestures, Dreyfuss' character, Chris, falls for her, and takes any opportunity he can to jeapordize their cover just to get some face time, and eventually sack time, with her. The pretty latino woman is played by a very sexy Madeleine Stowe (TV's "Revenge").

OK, so for about 75% of this movie I'm all in. This is one of those flicks where you can turn your mind off and still be taken off guard by some of the human touches and humor that tends to creep up and surprise you. Stakeout is a funny movie. It's a funny movie with an achille's heel. That weak area is the sub plot about the escaped con ex boyfriend. I agree with the critical consensus that this part of the film is too dark and violent to mesh properly with the more light hearted and adult portion of the film. While it does work as a B-action picture that was popular at the time, it doesn't add anything or help anything along except a pretty routine story that again, is saved by Richard Dreyfuss.

Emilio Estevez as his partner has a few good lines but I find it hard to be convinced of Emilio as a rough and tough cop. He's too nice and too intelligent. He's not cocky enough. You can tell Emilio is like this in real life so it makes it hard to get on board with everything he says or does. However, he is a good sport and plays nicely opposite Dreyfuss, even if his performance is almost totally eclipsed when things get really comical. He's the straight man to Richard's buffoonery, so it'd be unfair to say his role is insignificant. It's not. He does decent work. He's just not nearly as funny as anyone else is.

Stakeout is one of those 1980's movies that I've always loved, even with its warts and strange tonal mix.






I dunno, man, I don't really agree about the tonal thing; it's like Kindergarten Cop - I like that the baddies are actual genuine thriller villains, not just Home Alone comedy idiots. I find the attitude today where everything has to be "tonally consistent" incredibly unimaginative, restrictive and lame, to be honest.



I dunno, man, I don't really agree about the tonal thing; it's like Kindergarten Cop - I like that the baddies are actual genuine thriller villains, not just Home Alone comedy idiots. I find the attitude today where everything has to be "tonally consistent" incredibly unimaginative, restrictive and lame, to be honest.
I agree and disagree. I think with a movie like Something Wild the tonal shift works awesome! With Stakeout I've never been nearly as excited for the movie when the bad guy parts came on. They're cool as standalone scenes, but kind of dull the ride because the rest of the movie is so cool. It's just too sharp of a shift for my taste, but hey, I still love the movie so...it's enough to complain about but not to ruin the film.



The Editor(2014)
Directors: Adam Brooks/Matthew Kennedy


Oh my God, how do I even talk about this movie?

The Editor is a "mystery" horror film centered around a film editor who somehow, someway - gets surrounded by grisly murders that parallel the film he is cutting together. The look of "The Editor" is that of some old Argento and/or Soavi production, but also leaps into its own thing with characters popping up who seem to be just there to deliver badly dubbed lines. On purpose, of course. Tim and Eric go yellow, or Reggie Watts writes Bava. Not quite but...

Oh, this is definitely a comedy. I'd say it stands on the edge of complete slapstick. As if Airplane! and Profondo Rosso got together and had a baby. I was laughing my ass off throughout, and probably would have laughed harder had I more energy. Things just kind of happen. Someone's voice gets way, WAY loud for no particular reason at the end of a sentence. People impulsively shout for no apparent reason. Guys smack girls around just to lay down the man-law once in a while. This movie is totally insane, and it knows it.

This film is not for everyone, that's for sure, but it has a decently rendered design and lunatic narrative that celebrates the old gruesome giallo films of Dario in an even more twisted way because now the violence is turned up to 11, just because it can be. It wants to make you sick. Normally, I'd bow out of this sort of thing but the movie is just so damn funny I had to jot a few things down about it. I miss comedies like this. Not necessarily edgy Italia-Murder-Fashion comedies (since I believe only one exists!), but screwball comedies that have actual funny stuff within the running time. That helps!





The Crush (1993)
Director: Alan Shapiro


Alicia Silverstone got her start here, right before that annoying Aerosmith video that exploited her on roller skates yet again. Here's a Fatal Atrraction of sorts aimed at a more teen audience, but blowing it with some very icky adult sensibilities. I should say borderline illegal adult sensibilities. Pedophile stuff. But wait, it's not as bad as it sounds.

Silverstone plays a young, 14 year old rich daddy's girl whose parents rent out a guest house to a handsome 28 year old journalist played by one of my favorites Cary Elwes (Mr. "As You Wish" from The Princess Bride). She's totally coming onto him hard, and when she puts herself in his face with a full set of lips, he might've accidentally engaged with a kiss before coming to his senses and interrupting the advance.

Naturally, things get progressively worse when she won't give up the pursuit, and boundaries are crossed at every turn, including stealing personal belongings and orchestrating a mock pregnancy phone call. This isn't going to be very good for the journalist at all.

As cliche and watery that the writing and dialog is, I still enjoyed this. It's true that no red blooded male can deny that Silverstone's blossoming assets are not hideous, but at the same time, even keeping a level head, and a responsible disposition, it's impossible to look away because the camera literally crawls right onto Alicia's body and makes no apology for sexualizing her in such a lolly way. My enjoyment though, at least outside of an ancient teenage fantasy to meet a girl like this (many years past my get out of jail free card), was Cary Elwe's performance. He took on what most males would probably find themselves thinking or doing. Well, one would hope, anyway. He has a cool way of dealing with the situations that arise, even if the writing conveniently makes his reactions sometimes frustratingly dumb.

Speaking of dumb, this movie is definitely very dumb, but it's kind of fun, too, if you're in the mood for something trashy and throwaway like this.


I know, right?





The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
Director: Stephen Hopkins
This isn't going to be much of a review for two reasons. The first reason is that I've outgrown my 24 hour a day assumption that my thoughts about films are intelligent, and reason number two is because The Ghost and the Darkness sucks balls.

Here's why...

Val Kilmer: Decent. Michael Douglas: Very Decent. African Landscape: Excellent. Lions as the villains of a film: No.

Boring is the word. I am not going to sit here for 2 plus hours watching a movie about devil lions, sorry. Actually, I did, but that's my fault. I should have turned it off, but then you wouldn't have this warning. It's just a mess, this film. Imagine a swimming pool, in-ground. The air above the water line is good. The water line itself is mediocre, and below the water line underneath is poor. TGATD continuously bangs its head on the water line force field, unable to rise above the water line and take a breath of air. It's a miracle of mediocre mid-1990's film making. I'll say it - the 1990's had a lot of soulless stinkers for movies. That signature straightforward way of shooting the film, no pizazz, no cool camera movements, or not enough, anyway. This is one of those films. Even the African back drop adds little to its spirit.

And Michael Douglas. Shame on him. He's so type cast here. Typical cocky tough guy bumbling idiot, but with Kilmer as his right hand man, it's so boring. Kilmer can do snoozefest really well. It's part of Kilmer the man, the myth, the legend. But Michael Douglas is also a legend, and in this film, he's rarely been duller.

Oh, the lions. Yeah? What about them? They aren't scary.

This movie is just a big yawn.



Ruthless People (1986)
Directors: The Zuckers


A lower middle class husband and wife team kidnap the wife of a wealthy spandex designer because he stole their idea for a mini skirt, leaving them virtually penniless after they confided their life savings to him. DeVito plays the wealthy a-hole of course, and he's real funny. The first reel of Ruthless People lives up to its name very well. Soon we meet the kidnappers who aren't as ruthless as they want fat cat to think they are. They have his wife and threaten to kill her if 2.5 million dollars isn't delivered in unmarked bills, but of course DeVito's character is thrilled because he hates his wife. His plan is to blow off the kidnappers in hopes they'll just kill her. Nice, right?

Although the movie shows its age, there is still plenty to enjoy. It's got some real zinger lines and the overall playfulness of the kidnapper story with an aggravated and blindfolded wife is something to see, especially because it's Midler being her usual manic and zany self.


If you like the 1980's movies for over the top or silly comedies, this one should hit the spot. It's directed by the same team who did Airplane!, except the slapstick is barely there. This works as a mostly ugly comedy, with ugly attitudes and money driven motives. However, the kidnapper story, which is half of the film, is decidedly less sinister, playing to the heart a bit more, if not completely sappy.



+



H O L Y M O T O R S

2012
Director: Leos Carax

If you haven't seen this yet, let me perform a small service by filling you in ahead of time that nothing in this movie makes any sense. There's nothing to figure out aside from what you can leisurely pick out. For the most part, this is a film that is in line with a student picture having a fairly sizable budget, not much more.

Some of the imagery is startling, almost pornographic, other scenes are bittersweet or violent, but many areas of the film are pure cinema and art, and that's where some enjoyment can be had in this film. It's got an ambitious streak throughout most of it, and the lulls, though definitely a serious issue, can't fully detract from an otherwise clever movie that is basically just vignettes of "assignments" where a man riding around in a white limo gets out at different engagements and dresses himself up in clothes/prosthetics to become a secret agent of sorts.

With no rhyme or reason, it's easy to take everything in, relaxed, or to scoff at this movie and banish it to hell. Whatever you choose, just remember that it's not important as a story, but it is worth seeing for what it accomplishes on a purely visceral level.

Tracking dots for virtual reality lovers posing for a video game, the sound design invites in a wet, close up audio of a tongue licking through a skin tight woman's suit as the man warrior eats her outside her clothed crotch. Writhing after a rigorous martial art and decathalete machine gun mission, the two intermingled beings are recorded for a serpent and dragon graphic.

That's one example. Beware of exposed erect penises.




Touchstone/Disney/Buena Vista was pumping out entertaining R rated hits back in the mid to late 1980's...Ruthless People, Stakeout, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Tin Men, all critically acclaimed. Probably my favorite era for nostalgia, those kinds of titles, even though there was something kind of stuffy and slimy about them all, haha.



Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Director: Francis Ford Coppolla

I've stayed away from Bram Stoker's Dracula for decades because I had it confused with Interview with the Vampire, and also because when I didn't have it confused, I was aware that it starred Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder. I feel as if neither one of those kids can act, or have much to offer for my movie dollar. Once I noticed Coppolla directed it I knew that I ought to give it a chance.

Let me get the negative stuff out of the way first. Keanu Reeves cannot act. His english dialect is embarrassing. Winona Ryder can tighten her chops up when the volume turns up, and she does indeed serve the story well because she looks absolutely beautiful in this film and when the tension mounts she is a good player.

What is left for me to say is that this is the absolute, hands down, most gorgeous movie I have seen in a very long time and it is definitely Coppola's most attractive film. The use of oranges, purples, reds, greens and natural rustic colors, earth tones and pale blues are like nothing I have ever seen in a film. This is sound stage paradise. There are no cgi effects anywhere to be seen. Everything is matted in camera, forced perspective, double exposure, or simply a complex prop, device or combination of all these arrangements, staged incredibly for essentially a play on wheels.


The writing is adapted from Stoker's original Dracula story with an added introduction of The Impaler and his ties with the Christian church as a holy warrior who finds his life's love has been mislead by the church during his mission. His lover, played by Ryder, throws herself off of a cliff and dies thinking her man has died in the war. Dracuul becomes furious and renounces God when he learns of the church's deceit, and he swears vengeance. His rage turns him into the beast of the earth, dead and without a soul, but his love still lingers from beyond the grave, and he shall travel through time to find his lover's reincarnate, and take her with him to his cursed domain, where they can finally be together.

The story is told in such a way that all of the monster movie elements are removed, and in their places are almost tender and hyper aware emotional conundrums of Dracula. His guilt, his lust and his longing. These are not taken as lightly as they could have been, and because of this, Bram Stoker's Dracula on the big screen is a real event for fans of this story.

Despite the obvious studio pressure on a destitute Coppolla to hire hot young talent, the film is barely affected by this bottom line mentality. We are treated to Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, Cary Elwes as Arthur Holmwood, Tom Waits as Dracula's jailed psychic servant R.M. Renfield, and Gary Oldman as Dracula himself. Oldman's performance is top notch, as is Tom Waits', who turns in a peculiar but very disciplined schizo. He has the energy of a character actor, but he's done varied work, so I was impressed.

Everything just looks and sounds great. The story is classic and handled with extreme care, and though this is Coppola's film, credit should really be given in equal measure to his son Roman Coppolla for his astounding visual effect and 2nd unit work. All of the rich and detailed shots and moments of wonder are wrangled by Roman.

The Coppola's are indeed a travelling circus family of highly talented people. If Carmine did the music for this film I think my head would have exploded! Rounding out the immediate visual responsibilities is Michael Ballhaus as lighting camerman.


This movie I could watch every year or so. I'm sure of it. It has so much to see. Just about every frame of this film is loaded with treats. It's a feast for the eyes and senses. It's like that one time you order chinese and it tastes immaculate. The ribs are still sizzling, the lo mein and tender but textural, the spices are mixed just perfectly. You eat some, your knees get weak and you rest. Later on, you go back for more, except now the food must be re-heated. Dracula is like that, only when you go back to it (it's a lengthy film) like I had to, it still remains hot and spicy, sizzling at the bone with a tender and textural satiation.

Bram Stoker's Dracula: it's better than good chinese take-out.




Stage Fright(1987)
Deliria/Bloody Bird/Aquarius/Sound Stage Massacre
Director: Michele Soavi


Michele Soavi (or Michael Soavi) has long been a 2nd unit collaborator with greats like Dario Argento and even Terry Gilliam (Baron Munchausen), so when he got his big break as a debut director, he assembled a mostly american cast for a very dubbed italian stage play slasher film.

During a low rent play rehearsal, a budding starlet injures her ankle, and, against the wishes of the theater director, sneaks away with her wardrobe friend to seek quick medical treatment. Well, wouldn't you know it, her friend brings them to a psychiatric ward instead. How convenient. I guess the reasoning was, "well, it's still a doctor". There, while being treated for a spranged ankle, it's discovered that a murderer is locked up, and wouldn't you know it, he piggy backs incognito on the car ride back with the two women, returning to the stage play.

The story for Stage Fright is a little bit unique in that it takes the premise of an off, off broadway type of scenario and puts a serial killer amidst the entire cast, locked in due to a lost key. Outside, two patrolmen stakeout in their car, but who cares? What good are they for the running time?

The action is pretty decent, and the kills, though not always highly original, are certainly filled with energy, and they are nasty, too! There's even a few instances where I got a little jolt. I think I was shaken up a bit because of the location of all this mayhem. Soavi knows exactly where to put the camera and how to film suspense. He's got a great eye for moving the camera to cut just right in editing, and that brings about a nice fluidity to the film.

The musical score is by Goblin alumni Simon Boswell, and here he uses his signature howling groan and syrupy lead lines as well as improvises over a glaringly obvious early pre-programmed hip hop beat to interesting effect. His style sets the mood nicely, and it reminded me of his work in Demons 2. Good stuff! Come to think of it, he probably just used some of the same score tapes.

There's something about this movie. It's not overly stylish like an Argento film, nor does it have to be. The style is adequate with even a few surprises, but the real craft takes place in the general set up, and that is the location. Everything else just kind of uses that for a drinking fountain of creativity. The director of both this film, and the director in this film are concentrated and passionate people. This movie feels like an existential streak, but that may be pushing it to even say that. Still, though...

Those into giallo (and that's definitely too specific a term for this movie) and slasher films will get a nice ride out of this otherwise silly picture.



+



The War of the Roses (1989)
Director: Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito's second feature as a theatrical film director following Throw Momma from the Train is an ambitious one yet again. Centering around a married couple who's had their run and are waiting to finalize their affairs, The War of the Roses is an elegant horror comedy that really lets its two stars roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty. Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas have probably never been better in any film. Together with their director, they are sublime.

DeVito keeps the darkness looming with detailed shots and adventurous crane movements. His angles and sensibilities of his own influences take no back seat in any scene, and that's a big part of this movie's charm. It feels like an old sound stage movie. The exteriors feel like an old lot, decorated to the nines with extravagance. But skating on top of all of this craft is a modern (for 1989, anyway) take on romance and the destructive seeds of doom that inhabit a relationship that has been starved of communication, or has been deprived of understanding. We're not altogether sure whose fault any of this messy affair is, but we do know that it's not going to be pretty once the bell rings.


What affected me the most was the amount of body language and just plain cold looks we get from Turner. Her take on the frustrated wife really seals the deal for the true ringing screenplay by Michael J. Leeson. We get the small bits of sarcasm and the voluminous heartbreak of a lover who just doesn't seem to love you back. It's not only scary because of the obvious Hitchcock-like staging, it's scary, horrifying even, because it's something most of us have experienced at one time in our lives when we were into something that was doomed from the start. How two people can go from being madly in love, to absolutely hating each other, even when one party still holds out hope for a rekindled relationship. That hope to mend the broken links and pick the pieces back up. The suffering of knowing it will never happen, and the tailspin of madness one encounters when they are caught chasing their own tail wishing for resolution, getting nothing, and drawing their claws back to take a nasty swipe out in childish resentment.


This is a great black comedy.

+



Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Director: Francis Ford Coppolla
...Winona Ryder can tighten her chops up when the volume turns up, and she does indeed serve the story well because she looks absolutely beautiful in this film...

....this is the absolute, hands down, most gorgeous movie I have seen in a very long time and it is definitely Coppola's most attractive film...
Enough said, sold!

It's funny that you just seen this because I was just looking at Winona Ryder's filmography and realized I had never seen this AND like you noticed it's directed by Francis Ford Coppolla. So I just requested it from my library. Good review Joel


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