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Welcome to the human race...
Die Hard is probably the best bad movie ever made.
Spoken like someone who hasn't seen Commando - and yes, I do recommend you check it out. That'd make for one hell of a review.



-- dark and shimmering, ageless, big breasted, and bona fide bedazzling super supreme pizza sure to keep any hungry, starving spirit of the wind nourished and conscious.


__________________
#31 on SC's Top 100 Mofos list!!



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Great review Sexy. And a fantastic film which just made it to #4 on my favourite films ever list recently

And I really need to see Commando again. I've only seen it all the way through once and that was a long time ago



UNO
(directed by Aksel Hennie & John Andreas Andersen, 2004)



Oh, Planet News! *whistles* Get your organless bones in here. I just watched a foreign film (and it's not my first time, either). It's from Norway and it's called Uno and it's brilliant. It is so good and so violent and so transcendent and so spiritual. And it was all in a foreign language, subtitled. Though, I wonder why all the songs they played were in English....

David (Aksel Hennie... oh hey, that's one of the directors) is a twenty-five year old guy living with his mother and his brother, Kjetil (Espen Juul Kristiansen), who has Down Syndrome. He also has a father, but the father dies and this is a huge plot point. See, David works at a little gym with some crooked thieves who sell steroids. When it happens to get raided one day, David ends up taken by the police and held until he gives the name of the person involved with the dealings and who had also had a gun that the cops found. Well, since this all happens the day David's father dies in the hospital and David needed to be there instead of the police, David squeals on the guy who's the big troublemaker -- the owner's son, Lars (Martin Skaug). This does not sit well with the owner, who wanted his son to still have a dream of one day becoming a cop. Anyway, basically, David becomes targeted by all sorts of bad guys who are ready to beat the crap out of him. All this while dealing with his father's funeral arrangements and having to watch out for his brother, who can't take care of himself and has a penchant for stealing little things he finds.

At 99 minutes, Uno is a breeze to sit through and it kept me completely intrigued with every twist and turn it took. It is a somewhat depressing portrait of the arrogance and pride and viciousness of males while being balanced by the hope and yearning for something better by a young man who found himself in a complicated, dramatic mess. It's set in Norway, in the city of Oslo, which surprised me at first because I thought I was going to watch a movie set in England with everyone speaking English. No matter, though. This is a universal story and it could have taken place in America.

Everybody in this movie feels very genuine and real. I was most impressed by Aksel Hennie, but this is a movie that doesn't even feel like a movie. It's quite solid with terrific usages of songs to really capture the right mood and feelings and thoughts of David. The bond between David and his brother Kjetil is moving; the mother puts in good time as a strong female figure; the bad guys are vicious and dark as hell. The movie is also divided into little chapters, but everything's in order -- the chapters, however, are announced via Uno playing cards.

Uno is a violent, but uplifting spiritual journey through one man's hell amongst the other men he unfortunately has decided to share his life with - for now, at least. It is about coming to your senses and finding what's most important in your life while facing the dangers and dark corners that seek you out along the way. I highly recommend Uno.




Flashback
(directed by Franco Amurri, 1990)



Flashback is one of the greatest motion pictures I have ever seen. I had never heard about it before until today and I wasn't expecting it to blow me away, but it totally surpassed all of my expectations and now I have to say it's one of my favorite films. This is truly a gift from God, a snowflake, a movie that came out of nowhere and touched me deeply.

Maybe it's just because I just finished watching the film and I'm still basking in Flashback glow, but this is definitely a movie that is bound to stick with me for life, and if I forget about it, shame on me. First of all, it's got Kiefer Sutherland in a starring role -- now that right there upped the quality of this movie by 50%. But I'm telling you, Kiefer in a lesser film might have brought the overall rating up to only 60-70% -- Flashback is a full 100%. It's got Dennis Hopper in it too -- and he alone should be another 50%. It also has Carol Kane as a hippie goddess and other good performances by Paul Dooley, Richard Masur and Michael McKean. But of course what counts most are Kiefer and Dennis -- Kiefer because he's like Jake Gyllenhaal of the 1980's and Dennis because he's so damn good as an actor, with great range -- and here he plays an absolutely loveable and funny as hell character.

The story involves an FBI agent (Kiefer) taking a famous 1960's radical (Dennis) to jail in Spokane, Washington -- but, of course, things go out of hand. What exactly happens should remain a mystery to you if you don't know (which was my own case) but rest assured -- the events are creative, original, surprising, touching, funny and never boring. You know me -- I'm very sensitive to boredom. Well... you know me if you've been reading this review thread, which I don't think many people do, but whatever. Anyway... let's just say Kiefer starts off as very uptight, very strict with himself, while Dennis is loose, spontaneous, sphinxlike -- but very intelligent, very clever and crafty, very opinionated and yet naive and dumb like a child at times. The film is a kaleidoscope of cinematic textures -- sometimes it's hilariously surreal, sometimes it's a violent action movie; there's hints of western gunfighting, there's a documentary feel in some parts, there's a road movie feel (they start off traveling by train), there's a sweet "going home to the country, back to where I came from" episode, there's classiness and gassiness (but not the fart joke kind.) It truly is a spectacle. I think that if the movie hadn't intended on being mainly a comedy/adventure flick, it could have truly been something unforgettable and won awards. Instead, it's only available (in America) on a completely bare bones DVD - no special features - not even a trailer, I believe. Pray with me, brothers and sisters, that it'll one day be available on a crystal clear Blu-ray.

Flashback (set in 1989) is a love story and celebration of the 1960's for youth -- for the future -- with the design and architecture of a goofy late 1980's comedy -- all the bells and whistles, all the trimmings, the works -- but it has a seriousness about it that makes this movie a secret Academy Award Best Picture winner (not really, but that's why it's a secret) among goofy, stereotypical 1980's comedies. Because Dennis Hopper was in Easy Rider (a movie I did see and I liked it a lot), this movie is like its sloppy (good sloppy -- think really good sloppy seconds, if you've ever had it) sequel -- Easy Rider part II: Adventures Through Time. A corny, different take/different approach to that movie, but set in the future looking back at the 1960's.

It has taken me an hour to write all of this and it's not even that much. I really wanted to get it down right. I was debating on whether or not I even wanted to review this movie on here. It has been done, and I heartily recommend Flashback. I realize it's not something everyone's gonna find perfect -- there are things about this movie that do feel silly and contrived and too "perfect" to take seriously, and it might seem a little long (it's 108 minutes) and maybe one particular development that I'm thinking about may have gone a little farther than it needed to, but it was all very entertaining, very moving (urgh, me and my "very's"), very well put together and I think it actually all works. It's an outlandish historical comedy drama adventure dream that is sure to leave an impression, whether or not you love it or hate it. I hope you love it.




Black Irish
(directed by Brad Gann, 2007)



Black Irish is a tour de force coming-of-age drama about a poor South Boston Irish-Catholic family that's going through a very difficult time. The story centers around the youngest son, Cole (Michael Angarano), who goes through some big changes in his life starting when his sister, Kathleen (Emily VanCamp) gets knocked up and sent away to a home for girls by her mother (Melissa Leo) because mom doesn't want her getting an abortion. Cole is a good student and all around good guy at a private catholic school, where all his teachers expect him to grow up and live there as a priest someday. The trouble is Cole is also a phenomenal baseball pitcher and he's also starting to become interested in girls, so chastity isn't something he's keen on. His parents take him out of the catholic school so they can use the money on his sister's pregnancy and home-for-girls matter and he ends up in the rough and ferocious public school system, where he is instantly disliked by the teachers because of his older brother Terry's (Tom Guiry) bad reputation. In the midst of all of this, there's drama concerning the father of the family, Desmond (Brendan Gleeson), an alcoholic and not a bad father, but he's keeping some secrets from the family.

Wow. I did not expect Black Irish to be this good. It is a movie that never gets boring (although, the ending could have been a bit better) and keeps the glass full by always throwing a depressing and sad twist to each situation. This is a very down-and-out, bad luck movie that somehow manages to keep being strong and even hopeful and manageable and restorative and happy by the end. Be prepared to feel bad for the main character, Cole. Be prepared to witness a whole lot of depressing scenarios thrown at you. It's still a lot of fun and a great experience overall.

Not much else I can really say. I think the actors portraying the family really felt like and came across as an actual family. Perhaps the sister character didn't get much out of the whole thing, but in all honestly, she was probably more explored than Cole's older brother, Terry, who is a misfit criminal getting into trouble. There's a lot of dark humor here. It really seems like Black Irish is set to make you expect the absolute worst out of situations, but -- and I hope this isn't too much of a spoiler -- it never goes there. It is tension building and then it releases you.

Excellent movie.




BLOW OUT
(directed by Brian De Palma, 1981)



Films of Brian De Palma that I remember seeing are Carrie, Hi, Mom! and Wise Guys (which I saw for the first time this month.) I still haven't seen all of Scarface, so I don't fully understand the thuggish obsession people have with the film, which you can find on t-shirts at any ghetto mall clothing store in XXL size. I used to have a poster of the movie, though.

Blow Out, a 1981 Brian De Palma thriller, reminded me very much of Carrie, the 1976 horror film starring Sissy Spacek as a lonely, bullied teenage girl in a small town who discovers that she has telekinetic powers. It's not the same kind of story, but it's told in a very similar style. Powerful, jarring, aggressive, with split screens and dizzying effects. This is my kind of movie. Blow Out is adrenaline fueled, surprising, technical, masculine, with a burning rage and an interesting story and colorful characters and a sexy lead star (a young John Travolta.)

John Travolta plays Jack Terry, a sound effects guy who works on low budget horror movies. The movie begins with a movie within a movie -- the current horror film project that Jack is working on. A bimbo lady about to get stabbed naked in a shower scene has an awful scream. Throughout the film, in very funny scenes, we later see women who are auditioning to replace the original actress' bad scream via automated dialogue replacement. Blow Out is wonderfully funny in a lot of ways -- I suppose that's why De Palma made the Wise Guys comedy (which, however, didn't make me laugh a lot, but it wasn't a bad movie.)

Later in Blow Out, Jack Terry is out in some park recording outdoor noises to be used in the movie and he happens to see a car plunge deep into a lake after the tire has a blow out. He rescues the damsel in distress inside (Nancy Allen) but her companion, who turns out to be a governor running for president, does not make it. The plot of Blow Out gets going, though, when Jack hears clearly on the playback of his outdoor recording session that someone shot the car and this was no accident. Suddenly, John Travolta and Nancy Allen are in danger as the gunman himself -- played by one of my favorite actors, John Lithgow (TV's 3rd Rock from the Sun) -- starts making sure he cannot be traced to the crime and that his assassination plot never gets revealed.

My one complaint about Blow Out is that once the plot gets going, you really have to keep your fullest attention on the movie or else you might miss something. There's still some things that I need to go over again on a second viewing. Nancy Allen's portrayal of Sally, the woman rescued by John Travolta, was also annoying in that her character talks high pitched all the time, but in a way it added to the movie and created a more sympathetic companion for John Travolta -- plus, I had just watched Days of Heaven. At least she didn't talk like the narrator of that movie, a little girl who spoke in a deep, croaky voice, like a guy. It was a nice change from that.

But anyways, yes, a few complaints about Blow Out, notably the fact that you really can't let your mind slip. I was tired while watching Blow Out and while it was certainly worth staying up to watch, I think I must have dozed off or had my mind wander a few times and I payed for it. The middle portion of Blow Out is kind of slow. But I deeply enjoyed this fun, obsessive, horror in Philadelphia showcase. The third act of Blow Out became a horror movie -- a slasher type horror film. I loved that. Loved that John Lithgow was the madman. The movie ends with fireworks and celebration and an almost ridiculous one last jolt that didn't seem quite believeable, yet it's totally forgiveable, thanks to the tone and movie-within-a-movie themes. The very last scene was a perfect emotional surprise that moved me and really made me love this film. It's one of director Quentin Tarantino's top favorites. I can see why. I also really love a scene where John Travolta's character is where he works (or was it where he lives?) -- anyway, the point is, something happens and you see all of his audio equipment and his tapes just lying around and we circle and circle and get all dizzy and everything's spinning out of control. I loved that. There's lots of noise and it makes the film feel great, like a ride. Like something different -- at least, to me.

I must give Blow Out a
. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and how much I liked it. I'm glad, too, because it was a blind buy -- Criterion, again -- and I dreaded the movie being something awful, but it wasn't. This, to me, is a movie.



I am having a nervous breakdance
Nice. Have you seen Blow Up (1966) by Michelangelo Antonioni?

__________________
The novelist does not long to see the lion eat grass. He realizes that one and the same God created the wolf and the lamb, then smiled, "seeing that his work was good".

--------

They had temporarily escaped the factories, the warehouses, the slaughterhouses, the car washes - they'd be back in captivity the next day but
now they were out - they were wild with freedom. They weren't thinking about the slavery of poverty. Or the slavery of welfare and food stamps. The rest of us would be all right until the poor learned how to make atom bombs in their basements.



I am having a nervous breakdance
Don't pay to see it, SC. That's a rubbish and boring film. Nothing happens for an hour. Nothing.
Antonioni is not for everyone but it's not a rubbish film. It certainly made enough impact on De Palma and Coppola for them to make Blow Out and The Conversation.



It influenced more talented people to make better films. That's good. I still say Blow Up is rubbish. That said, I wouldn't mind seeing SC's reaction to the end.

It's very much a product of its time. Almost to the point that I consider it a time capsule and, in that way, it's not rubbish and it has value. If you want to see London in 1966, who and what was cool and cutting edge, then there's probably not a better film in the world (apart from film of the World Cup final ) but as a piece of entertainment, I'd avoid like the plague.



The Beaver
(directed by Jodie Foster, 2011)



The Beaver is a fascinating and complex yet lighthearted study of insanity, genius, depression, mental illness and creativity directed by an Academy Award winning closeted lesbian who probably was drawn to the material in part thanks to its pornographic, female private part title and "Sesame Street buys the Lifetime Movie Network" nature. I also think Jodie happened to like the material because it does actually speak some about the roles of geniuses in our world and how different and difficult life can be for them - how outside of society they must live. Jodie has spoken of her interest in geniuses before - I remember it in her commentary track for Contact. Of course, she's also famously known for directing the small hit picture of 1991, Little Man Tate, where she played the mother of a gifted child. I never saw the movie, although I've seen it around and have been tempted to check it out. Oh, well - another day.

The main genius of The Beaver is a guy named Walter Black, played by Mel Gibson. I do not wish to say anything about Mel's current affairs in the world, as I believe The Beaver has a lot to say for itself without us needing to infringe on Mel's own personal matters. Walter is a married man, a father of two boys, one still in elementary school and the other is about to graduate high school. His wife is played by Jodie Foster. Walter is the CEO of a toy company that's about to go bankrupt. Why? Because Walter is suffering from a severe depression - brought about thanks to genetics, something he has no control over. He isn't going to work. He's sleeping all the time. His wife is distancing herself from him because of this and so are his children. Finally, she's had enough of the zombie in her house so she kicks him out. That first night, in the hotel he's staying at, he has a breakthrough. Earlier, he had found a beaver puppet that somebody had tossed into a dumpster -- Walter saves it and takes it for himself. What do you know? He puts it on his hand and gives it a voice -- a voice that sounds like Michael Caine, the British actor. A voice that'll get on your nerves.

The next day he goes back home, uninvited, and introduces the family to the new friend he keeps on his hand -- a friend that won't shut the **** up. A friend that won't let him talk for himself. It's quite funny at first but it'll soon drive you crazy. The beaver is actually a confusing, scary figure. Although it may appear to be helping Walter, it's actually doing him a disservice. It doesn't help that Walter is telling his wife (and everyone else) that the beaver is actually a "prescription puppet" that his old psychiatrist gave him as therapy -- not true. That old psychiatrist is staying an old psychiatrist and Walter isn't really seeing him again at all. What we have here is a guy going through mania, believing that he has cured himself. It's really nutty -- and it'll drive you bananas witnessing how far he goes with the beaver. But why is it he can have sex with his wife while still wearing that damn beaver on his hand (Oh, that's right - Jodie, you lezzie, I guess you need a beaver at hand) but when he and Jodie go out for their 20th wedding anniversary dinner, she fusses and makes him take it off? He even SHOWERS with that damn beaver on his hand! He showers with it even when he's having an intimate shower with Jodie (I know, Jodie, I know.)

There is also a rather interesting subplot involving Walter's oldest son, Porter, who is helping this cheerleader/valedictorian on her speech for graduation day -- she's paying him to help her express herself. We discover that she's very artistic and she even has a history with getting in trouble with the law for making graffiti art. She also has a dead brother, who she's trying to forget about. Porter is going through his own issues -- he deeply fears turning out to be just as miserable and pathetic as his father.

The movie starts off on the wrong foot. Or maybe I should say the wrong HAND, since that damn beaver on Mel Gibson's hand is rather ridiculous and really takes away from the seriousness and deeply felt passion that I think Jodie Foster was trying to channel. I was bored around the first half hour mark. I thought things were extremely sappy and unbeliveable and stupid. Walter goes back to work with the beaver on his hand, who is suddenly the new "boss." He invents a toy called "Mr. Beaver's Woodchopper Kit" that becomes a big hit and saves his company from going under. Luckily, The Beaver also manages to save itself near the end of the film -- all thanks to its messages about the bonds of family, the power of being an eccentric genius and how difficult it can be to express yourself, the roller coaster of life and what if being crazy was just pretending to be happy?

This is a serious drama that unfortunately at times feels too zany and strange and it even borders on being a preschooler's version of American Beauty, a depressed episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood where Mr. Rogers walks in with a big grin on his face, a beaver on his hand and says, "Hi, kids. I am under the care of a prescription puppet and I am no longer Mr. Rogers. I am a beaver. Have you ever known a beaver before? Well, you do now."

Funny, I don't think we ever found out Mel Gibson's beaver's name....



Also, I must tell you that I thought Mel Gibson did a great job puppeteering. I think that if The Beaver had been made at some other time in Mel's career, when he was really hot and everyone loved him, it really could have been a bigger, stronger, more memorable, more timeless movie. But the fault's not on his shoulders at all, really. It really is a matter of getting the balance right with the story, the pacing, the realism and maybe the directing. I do wonder a little about what Jodie Foster was really thinking about all of this. It's certainly not garbage or amateur arthouse trash, but it doesn't tackle the mental illness that Walter (and Porter, even) are going through with enough seriousness in a strong, emotionally fulfilling, deeply eventful storytelling way. I swear, I almost find the story of Porter and Nora, the artistic valedictorian, more interesting and I think it's because their story was shown in a more serious light while Walter's story was a bonanza of Shari Lewis and Lambchop episodes.




Dinner at Eight
(directed by George Cukor, 1933)



Dinner at Eight is an almost two hour long affair dealing with wealthy people - some of them socialites and some of them not so social - during the Depression who are about to get together for dinner and the theatre with Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke -- Glenda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz) and her family. This is a very entertaining and joyful movie to watch, although it does deal with issues such as adultery (lots of it), going broke and even committing suicide.

The cast includes Jean Harlow as an introverted bedbound bimbo with a fat, disgusting husband (Wallace Beery) that is not liked by Billie Burke; Marie Dressler shines as the fat, old former stage star and, unbelieveably, sex symbol and man lover Carlotta Vance, who steals the show with her loud grand entrances and exits, furs, smiles, stories, gossip, and she even takes a hilarious stint as a dog walker -- never leaving behind her precious pooch, Tarzan, anywhere she goes. Besides Jean and Marie, one of my favorites is Billie Burke -- her voice alone is powerful enough to grant her Goddess rights. High pitched, snooty and full of rage just underneath the thin surface, Billie arranges and fusses over all the inviting and dinner preparations for the big Friday night, Dinner at Eight gathering. Her biggest guests are going to be Lord and Lady Ferncliffe -- never seen -- the richest people in England. They are enough to even drag Wallace Beery's stubborn character to the party. But - oh - did I mention they're never seen? Wonder why... (you'll find out!)

The rest of the cast includes John Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore, Edmund Lowe and Madge Evans, along with some others. It is a story about interconnected lives. Details of all the dramas going on with every person are rather pointless and boring for me to mention, but it's mostly about women having affairs, men having affairs, relationships in crisis, people dying, people losing money, people needing money, a look at the fears of the wealthy during the Depression, but in the end, Dinner at Eight is a celebration of life and love and trying to have a good time even in dark periods. Yes, there is a suicide (won't say who) and another character discovers that he or she doesn't have much time to live.

It was funny watching this movie. I haven't seen many old pictures. I have an interest now in watching them, but of course, I have to go at my own pace and watch what calls to me. The DVD case to Dinner at Eight mentions that this was made a year after Grand Hotel, the Academy Award winning Best Picture of 1932 that has a similar theme/setup to Dinner at Eight. This movie is, I suppose, a copycat of sorts. I have not seen Grand Hotel, but I do own it and I will be giving it a watch soon. That one stars Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, as well as John and Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery from Dinner at Eight. I can hardly wait!

I recommend Dinner at Eight more to women than men. This is a gal's movie with lots of gal drama and comedy. But it's certainly not overbearing -- the men play huge figures in Dinner at Eight, but the ladies, especially Jean Harlow, Billie Burke and Marie Dressler, are more commanding. But I will say that John Barrymore's character is quite memorable and strong and Edmund Lowe, as Dr. Wayne Talbot, is rather dashing. The real hoot and holler, though, is Marie Dressler and this was sadly her last real film before she died in 1934.

Hmmm... what does one give Dinner at Eight, especially after you give something like The Beaver three and a half stars when it probably really deserved less....



I think Dinner at Eight is a movie that will grow on you the more times you watch it. As long as you can stand Billie Burke's acting -- but who could hate Glenda the Good Witch?



I am having a nervous breakdance
It influenced more talented people to make better films. That's good. I still say Blow Up is rubbish. That said, I wouldn't mind seeing SC's reaction to the end.

It's very much a product of its time. Almost to the point that I consider it a time capsule and, in that way, it's not rubbish and it has value. If you want to see London in 1966, who and what was cool and cutting edge, then there's probably not a better film in the world (apart from film of the World Cup final ) but as a piece of entertainment, I'd avoid like the plague.
Oh entertianment.... I thought we were talking about films. Yes, if you're looking for Spy Kids, you're right, you won't find that in Blow Up.