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The Libertine

Director: Laurence Dunmore
Writers: Stephen Jeffreys (screenplay), Stephen Jeffreys (play)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich
Genre: Biography, Drama, History

"The story of John Wilmot, a.k.a. the Earl of Rochester, a 17th century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to an early grave, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life's work."

I'm middle of the road on this. I didn't hate it, but I had little emotional reaction to the film. I think the best part was the opening monologue where Depp speaks directly to the viewer. That worked and had depth of power. It set up in my mind that I'd be seeing him as this brutal-self indulgent, who's also an intellectual genius and artist. I've seen other movies based on 17th & 18th century poets & writers who did live large, drank, whored and behaved all together badly, whilst writing some of histories greatest literature and poetry. But that's not who the Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp) was...I think I understand the message of the film? Which I believe was:

That he wasted his life, deluding himself that he was 'living life to the fullest' with his decadence, when in fact he was hiding from living...and when given the chance to do something great by writing a play worthy of his intellect, he chose instead to write a play that was bawdy lampooning. In the end he pays for his ways by catching syphilis and becoming a near invalid. Thus showing how hiding from life behind a mask brings nothing but an empty chalice. Though he does realize this at the end, when he rises to the occasion and saves the King's position in Parliament.

I wasn't a fan of the director's choice of look for the film. The graininess and the greenish cast with low color saturation made it look like a BBC TV broadcast from an old Masterpiece Theater. It would have been nice to have more period piece sets, and less close-ups. But the lack of sets and choice of close ups is probably a budget thing, so not a deal breaker.

My favorite scenes were with Samantha Morton. It was interesting how he coached her to find her inner truth and thus transformed her into London's greatest actress.

Let the Right One In (2008)
Låt den rätte komma in (original title)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist (novel)
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Genre: Horror
Language: Swedish

"Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl."

I didn't care for this, basically a kid's romance story with some B movie vampire attack scenes. I don't like horror films, especially when they don't develop the characters or reveal something that engages me. I didn't hate this movie, but it was like eating a frozen TV dinner, nothing that I looked forward to and I was glad when it was over.

The only scene that interested me was the older lady who survives an attack and becomes a vampire. I liked the way she was confused by what was happening to her and how she didn't want to live like that. That scene especially in the hospital evoked some emotion from me...The CG cat attack and bursting into flames were the two best visuals in the movie.

The blonde boy was boring, another actor might have gave the movie some more depth. The girl was good, but I was disappointment that the film didn't explore her life more. I mean it's hinted at that she's very different, she even says twice she's not a girl...and also says she's been 12 for a long time, but we never really get much more than surface material and I wanted to know more about her.

I was sure the film in the later half would give us more backstory on her while building sympathy for her, instead we just get a silly blood licking off the floor scene, and the body parts floating in the swimming pool were kind of funny... but was it suppose to be funny?

I was also hoping the boy might learn how to stand up for himself from the vampire girl (he does once on the lake) and I thought by the end his character would be self aware and self reliant. Then at the end the girl would confide in him the misery of her own life and ask him to be strong enough to end it for her. That would've been memorable. As it was, nothing in this film will stay with me.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran
Genre: Comedy, Crime

"A botched card game in London triggers four friends, thugs, weed-growers, hard gangsters, loan sharks and debt collectors to collide with each other in a series of unexpected events, all for the sake of weed, cash and two antique shotguns."

Director Guy Ritchie delivers up one of the more stylish and unique films that I've seen...and yet I hated it!

Don't get me wrong, I think Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels brilliantly succeeds as a louder, faster, badder-ass version of Ocean's 11 (1960) type crime caper film. So I don't have any criticisms of the film maker's intentions. The healthy doses of Tarantino style humor, mixed with less than serious violence is actually a plus for me.

But...I found the film too confusing to follow. Which is not surprising as I suck at figuring out detailed plot lines and often finish a movie without knowing one damn name of any of the characters. And as it was a fast paced film with British accents, I often was lost as to who was who. Not the films fault. I found myself thinking I was watching a scene with one group of characters only to realize it was a different group that was in the current scene. Once I lost my place in the film I lost interest out of utter confusion.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrelswas way too hyper for me, with all the kinetic energy and the LOUD rock music track and yelling all the time. I'm not a big action fan and I do need to feel a connection or emotion to some of the characters or story line, and I didn't. After the movie was over I felt the need to mediate.

The Hawks and the Sparrows
Uccellacci e uccellini (original title)
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Writers: Pier Paolo Pasolini (story), Pier Paolo Pasolini (screenplay)
Cast: Totò, Ninetto Davoli, Femi Benussi
Genre: Satirical Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Language: Italian

Innocenti Totò and his son Innocenti Ninetto are drifting on a road in Italy, when they meet a Marxist speaking crow. The trio travels together in a long journey as their hunger increases.
Luna (Femi Benussi) is by far the best part of the film! I tried to like this film, I really, really did...

I did like the first 15 minutes or so. I thought the old guy was comical, with one helluva unusual face. He was good at comic expressions and reminded me of Buster Keaton. The young actor who played his son was good too. He had a likeable on-screen personality and I could see he could be good in another movie.

But when the crow appeared, the film lost me. It lost me because I have a hard time with overlapping dialogue in foreign films. To make things worse the shots became wide angle and I couldn't tell who was actually talking. Right then I was lost and didn't know what was going on.

So I shut it off and watched 30 minutes at a time over the course of a few days. I thought that might help me get a grasp on the film. I mean I know it was a ballsy film in it's day as the Catholic church had a huge amount of power in Italy at the time. I read that to get a divorce in Italy one had to do it through the church. And it wasn't until a hotly contested referendum was passed that legal divorce was even allowed in a civil court.

I can't image living under that type of control and that's why this was such an important film as it totally points out the utter self serving and over bearing ways of the Catholic church in Italy at that time. So my anarchist hat is off to the film makers. Maybe if I spoke Italian I could have followed this more closely. As it was, I liked the prostitute best, ha.

Brazil (1985)

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard
Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro
Genre: Sci Fi
Length: 132-142 minutes

I saw this again the other night and was really into it for some reason. Decades trying to choke it down and finally I was surrendered to it. It's a damn good movie. I guess it's something (for me, anyway) that needed to be experienced when the circumstances were proper.

I saw this again the other night and was really into it for some reason. Decades trying to choke it down and finally I was surrendered to it. It's a damn good movie. I guess it's something (for me, anyway) that needed to be experienced when the circumstances were proper.
I can understand your reaction and the impact this film could have on someone...with the story of one simple man flexing his will, up against a societal machine of red tape. A conformity cruising society that steam rolls those who dare to think outside the box. Dare to be different!

Have you seen the movie 1984 (1984)? Brazil reminds me of that story.

I saw this again the other night and was really into it for some reason. Decades trying to choke it down and finally I was surrendered to it. It's a damn good movie. I guess it's something (for me, anyway) that needed to be experienced when the circumstances were proper.
Brazil had me the first time around - I knew I was watching something very sophisticated and very unique.
It's not just the story and the message and the metaphors, but the whole Gilliamesque world that is created (Monty Python absurdity meets Steam Punk meets a Rube-Goldberg-machine style bureaucracy meets dystopian Blade Runner future) is also what makes the movie so memorable.

Have you seen the movie 1984 (1984)? Brazil reminds me of that story.
I think the original title was 1984 and a Half , but potential legal troubles obviously nixed that.

I felt like I never was introduced to the lead character, sure I knew he was a clerk stuck in a dead end job who dreamed...a lot! But I have no idea who or what he was about. There was a romance with a hard boiled woman who seemed an odd match for this simple clerk. Perhaps there is deeper meaning here. People claim there's hidden meaning in Gilliam's films, so you might need to watch this one more than once.
To me, it's about someone who uses his own mind as an escape from the corrupted views and standards of the society he lives in. He lets his imagination fill his life with a childlike enthusiasm, not letting the adverse culture around him taint his passions (like almost everyone else around him) or quell his determination. It seems unashamedly naive, and I honestly find that refreshing, beautiful, and relatable.

It's been a while since I've watched the making of doc, but I think Gilliam said the idea came to him as an image of a lonely man sitting on a beach surrounded by trash and industry while obliviously listening to music and getting swept away in his own world.

I saw this again the other night and was really into it for some reason. Decades trying to choke it down and finally I was surrendered to it. It's a damn good movie. I guess it's something (for me, anyway) that needed to be experienced when the circumstances were proper.
The first time I watched it I didn't care for the first half, then started warming up to it, and by the end didn't want it to finish. Now every time I watch it I seem to love it more. It's usually what I tell people is my favorite movie, because it's fun with an open mind, and comes close to matching the more rambunctious side of my taste and imagination.

Jack Frost (1997)

Director: Michael Cooney
Writers: Jeremy Paige & Michael Cooney (story)
Cast: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, Stephen Mendel
Genre: Horror Comedy

'After an accident that left murderer Jack Frost dead in genetic material the vengeful killer returns as a murderous snowman to exact his revenge on the man who sent him to be executed'

1997's direct to video Jack Frost attempts to blend humor with horror. The horror and humor comes from a psycho killer snowman. Of course this takes place at Christmas time, I mean who ever heard of a summer time snow man.

At first the comic bits from the town's people were funny and I laughed at the jokes. There's something inherently funny about small rural towns, well at least in comedy movies there is. In the first part of the film there was some clever stuff: Like when the Sheriff gets to work and throws that oatmeal crap that his son had made into the trash...and then, we hear his son's voice in his head "you said you would eat that later" dad picks up the gooey crap and puts it into his pocket...funny stuff. And when they find the first victim in the rocking chair and the chair is rocking back and forth, back and forth...then at the end of the scene the Sheriff tells his deputy "you can take your foot off the rocking chair now." Ha, that was clever.

But when Jack Frost comes back as the snowman and starts killing, the film got boring for me. I don't care about body counts and grisly ways to kill people...and that's what the second half of the film was about. Even worse was the inane one liners spit out by the snowman...ugh now that was the real horror. I didn't find any of his jokes funny but they did grate on my nerves.

Crossroads (1986)
Director: Walter Hill
Writer: John Fusco
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz
Genre: Drama, Music

'Ralph Macchio is Lightning Boy. A kid who can make a slide guitar sing. Blind Dog is an old pro who knows it. Together, they're headed to a place where deals are made. And legends are born.'

I really liked Crossroads, it's a very different type of film and it surprised me, and that's a good thing.

I figure if the movie holds my interest and I'm into the story, I don't check the clock too much and I do think about the movie the next day...Then that's a good movie in my book. And Crossroads did all that for me.

It's a very different mix of styles. At first I thought it would be like Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio reprising his role. But then the movie turns more serious and we see his character Lighting Boy getting involved in crime and even packing a gun. I was really surprised the film had the girl Frances, played by Jami Gertz getting involved in prostitution.

Then just when I thought I had a handle on the film, it shifts gears and we get this twist style ending with the devil and a play off for ownership of the soul. The movie reminded me of the country western song
The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels band in 1979.

Oh, also it was very cool to see Tim Russ (Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager) in the beginning of the film as the young Blind Dog.

I dug the entire blues scene and the music and really enjoyed the on-location shooting in Mississippi.
Very impressive film.

Three O'Clock High (1987)

Director: Phil Joanou
Writers: Richard Christian Matheson, Tom Szollosi
Cast: Casey Siemaszko, Annie Ryan, Richard Tyson
Genre: Drama Comedy

'A student gets himself in hot water with the new bully, a quiet bad boy who challenges him to fight on the grounds of their high school after the day's end.'

Three O'Clock High is not your typical 1980s teen movie. It's surprisingly different and I liked it!...It's story premise is based on the classic Gary Cooper film High Noon.

When the movie first started, I thought of the lead actor, what the hell it's a Ferris Bueller clone. Nope it's not! It's very different, which is a big plus. The movie surprised me at the turns it took. The entire story takes place in one school day...with a whole lot of crap happening to our protagonist. Who btw, really looked like a young Kevin Spacey.

I kept thinking the movie was set in the 90s as the kids all looked like they belonged on the set of the Cosby TV show, with their short hair and sweater vest. That was called the preppie look. I never went for it, I had the rocker look with long hair, but I remember seeing kids with the preppie look and I thought it was lame, ha

Back to the movie, these actors were all unknown but they sure pulled it off and I have to say the fight scene at the end was riveting! I was screaming knock the *&%$# head off !...OK I wasn't actually screaming at the TV screen, but I was kind of thinking it.

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Can't Buy Me Love (1987)

Director: Steve Rash
Writer: Michael Swerdlick
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Amanda Peterson, Courtney Gains

'A nerdy outcast secretly pays the most popular girl in school one thousand dollars to be his girlfriend.'

Can't Buy Me Love...what I liked is it never went overboard with the jokes. And it did evoke some strong emotions from me as it covers some pretty heavy stuff in the movie. There are two ultimate truths in this movie. I don't know if others will agree, but I sure seen them.

I liked Patrick Dempsey's character in the movie. I'm impressed and can't think of another actor who could have pulled off the unpopular geeky kid who then buys his way into the 'cool clique' of kids. He handled all of that really well.

Amanda Peterson who played the head cheerleader and most popular girl in school, was also impressive in this. She wasn't just a stereo type but we learn that she has her own price to pay for being popular...and we see that for her being popular isn't always a positive thing. I was really sad to read about Amanda Peterson on Wiki She was only 15 when she made the movie and reading about her life made me feel even more melancholy about the movie. And that's the main emotion I felt during the movie, a sense of melancholy and loss...and I like movies like that.

I think the build up to the end was pretty great with Patrick Dempsey's character being exposed as a fraud and how the entire school ostracized him.

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Crossroads (1986)
Director: Walter Hill
Writer: John Fusco
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Joe Seneca, Jami Gertz
Genre: Drama, Music

Never had any desire to see this, but your review is making me re-think my decision.

Lucas (1986)
Director: David Seltzer
Writer: David Seltzer
Cast: Corey Haim, Kerri Green, Charlie Sheen
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

'A socially inept fourteen year old experiences heartbreak for the first time when his two best friends -- Cappie, an older-brother figure, and Maggie, the new girl with whom he is in love -- fall for each other.'

I didn't care for this movie at all. I found the character Lucas to be an annoying little sh**. I didn't view him as the endearing underdog that we usually cheer for in these kinds of movies. He was more creepy and bizarre than anything else. I kept thinking he would be the type of passive-aggressive misfit who would show up at school with a gun. That's the kind of weird vibe I got from him. And that kept me from liking the film. He was rather stupid too for such a smart kid, I mean when I was 14 I had enough sense not to bring tadpoles to school and try to give them to a 16 year old girl. Lucas is clueless, hell he actually had a chance with Winona Ryder's character but he didn't even care.

As much as I didn't like Lucas...I did like both Charlie Sheen and Kerri Green. Both of them had good screen presences and I instantly connected to their characters. I wish the film had left Lucas out and been about them instead.

The other thing I didn't like was the script/writing. Sure the premise sounds good, but the pacing of the film and the way scenes progressed seemed pretty amateurish. It's like the director, who also wrote the movie, didn't know how to connect the scenes together, which is odd as David Seltzer had a brilliant career as a screen writer. But the film just kind of meanders and is lackluster. It reminded me of an old after school TV movie special.

Once Bitten (1985)
Director: Howard Storm
Writers: Dimitri Villard (story), David Hines
Cast: Lauren Hutton, Jim Carrey, Karen Kopins
Genre: Comedy Horror

'A vampire Countess needs to drink the blood of a virgin in order to keep her eternal beauty. It seems that all is hopeless, until she bumps into Mark Kendall.'

I watched this on Halloween instead of Trick 'r Treating It was fun seeing Jim Carey so young and he was pretty good in this too. The dance scene in the gym was my favorite part of the movie. Boy, that girl could dance! She must have been a professional dancer as she was really good. Even Jim Carey busted a few moves!

The funniest scene was in the high school locker room showers when his two friends were trying to check his inner thigh for a vampire bite, ha!

I might have seen bits of this on TV way back in the day, but I didn't remember it, so maybe not. Oh, the movie score was great in this as well. Both the score and the actual songs that were used. I never heard any of those songs before and didn't recognize the names of the bands, but I did enjoy them...The score was much better than generic electronic synth muzak.

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Better Off Dead (1985)

Director: Savage Steve Holland
Writer: Savage Steve Holland
Cast: John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby
Genre: Comedy, Romance

'A teenager has to deal with his girlfriend dumping him among family crises, homicidal paper boys, and a rival skier.'

Better Off Dead was a fun distraction for a Saturday night went well with the pizza that I made. The pizza didn't turn out great and was only OK but it was filling and that's how I found the movie.
Better Off Dead is well made with a personable cast, My favorite was the French exchange student, she paired well with a crusty and sometimes saucy John Cusack.

The film's broad style of comedy is what is refereed to as sight gags, It's jokes reminded me of the beloved comedy, Airplane. The problem is I'm one of the few people on the planet who hated Airplane...I just don't like broad comedy sight gags. I prefer my comedy to come from the situation or the character's personality. So Better Off Dead didn't really work for me, even though I can see it would be to many people's liking. I did laugh a few times and all the characters were interesting and I have no real complaints. I dug the snow and skiing scenes which were actually shot on a mountain and so that was great to see.


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Say Anything (1989)
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Cast: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

'A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college.'

A lot of truth in this movie, at least for me there was. It was spooky how so much of what happened with John Cusack's character in one way or another happened to me too way back in the day. Not all of it of course, and not all at the same time or even with the same girlfriend, but enough similar stuff, that this movie was like a trip down memory lane for me and that what makes for a 'special movie'...whenever the viewer can relate to the character's plight it evokes a personal connection, and for me a movie that I personal connect to is the best.

Then we get to that screen shot above and I was floored! I drove past that coffee pot building just two days ago! I've seen that building a lot during my life. So was I surprised when John Cusack drives his car past Bob's Java Jive. But weirdly I've never been inside of it. Maybe next time I will, it still looks the same btw and they still have espresso.

The scenes with John's sister Joan Cusack were a nicely realistic touch. I like how he was staying at her little apartment and was in his own way doing good for his nephew but at the same time his older more conservative sister felt her younger brother was too unconventional and that created tension in the living situation. I really appreciated the realness and honesty of the entire film. It felt much more personal than most other teen movies of the era did and it felt almost like a documentary. But a fun documentary!

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Say Anything (1989)
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Cast: John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

I absolutely LOVE this movie...John Cusack's best performance...glad you liked it too. Loving this 80's teen flick binge you're on.

I absolutely LOVE this movie...John Cusack's best performance...glad you liked it too. Loving this 80's teen flick binge you're on.
I have more 80s teen movie reviews to post when I get the time.