Keyser Corleone's Movie Memoirs

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Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964) - Directed by Stanley Kubrick

"I wish we had one of them doomsday machines."

I love Stanley Kubrick. Ever since I first watched 2001: A Space Odessey, I've been interested in his style and flair. I've already seen seven of his movies: 2001, Full Metal Jacket, Spartacus, Paths of Glory, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Dr. Strangelove which I watched last night right before going to sleep. And with each of his movies, I've had something I could take away with me. For Dr. Strangelove, what I took was it's unique look at anti-war, which will be the leading point of the review.

You see, where many anti-war movies show off the terrible attitudes soldiers of differing sides have towards each other, like in Platoon, or tackle the negative effects on economy, like Grave of the Fireflies, or even both like in The Human Condition, Dr. Strangelove discusses the asurdities of war in an occasionally absurd way: comedy. It takes someone with a deranged mind to come up with conspiracies and act on them with gruesome, malicious intent, which leads the film into it's plot.

Pink Panther star Peter Sellers plays a strong but well-mannered British soldier imprisoned by an insane American soldier who wants to annihilate Russia, an American persident with a strong mind but a nervous persona, and a seemingly-demented and paralyzed ex-Nazi strategist Dr. Strangelove, who seemingly doesn't get enough screen time until you realize Peter Sellers himself gets half the screen time, like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor. Each character is played by Sellers exceptionally as they all fight against the nuclear assault in their own way.

Peter Sellers is not the only star of the show. Every major character gives it their all as the humorous sides of their personalities slowly grabs a stronger hold on the characters, thus showing off the asurdity of their strategies and warfare and how easily one screw up can lead to something drastic. As I myself am an anti-war man (I am fairly conservative, but unquestionably anti-war), I can definitely relate to any relate to any man who sees the absurdity in the characters, whether it be a war-driven mind, an overly peaceful mind, a racist mind, etc.

And if the characters don't bring enough heart and soul to the movie, the production value in my opinion should. It was incredible. Exceptionaly direction from Kubrick and realistic scenery and dialogue brought a realistic side to this otherwise absurd comedy driven by comedically flawed minds and overly strong or weak wills.

Dr. Strangelove is a mid-60's classic that stands out among other war movies for being the kind of movie that covers depressing topics in a way we can pay attention to almost professionally without shedding a tear due to the characters being largely unprofessional. A personal favorite of mine, this war-movie fanboy would rush to see it again for the way it handles the idea of a doomsday and the avoidance their-of. If the people behind it can't be professional, we can. Kubrick is a genius.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) - Directed by Simon West

"Hey, you're the tomb raider."

I remember the first time I ever saw Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. At the time, I liked it enough to give it 4 stars. I played it again a few days ago, and learned from my mistakes. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was one of the first serious attempts at making a good movie based on a video game, and for the most part it was a failure. While it was a fun movie that had its action-packed moments and decent storytelling, there was a lot about the movie that kept it from being what it should have been.

The film centers around video game icon, miss Indiana Jane herself, Lara Croft, attempting to solve the mystery around an ancient artifact clock her late, rich father hid in his own mansion. The film has Lara travelling around the entire world evading secret societies who want her clock for themselves and Lara dead.

While this is not an unfamiliar setting for an adventure movie, it's still a good cliche. Many great archaeologists in fiction go through this kind of thing. In the end, what truly matters is the execution. So was Lara's movie well executed? No.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is really an action romp that's specifically geared to show of Angelina Jolie doing superhuman stunts in shorts while constantly maintaining a badass woman image. And while I have no complaints about a badass woman, that kind of image being the focus of a movie makes it a failure unless satirized in a Sucker Punch manner. In the end, the action is tainted by the image sometimes and the superhumanity of Lara takes away from her humanity and connections to other characters.

The action was fairly predictable at times. You could tell many times how things were going to pan out. And in contrast to the whole "the journey's more important than the destination" proverb, the journey to the end result of anything in this movie fails to build up an end result, rendering both a little pointless.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider may be an essential for Jolie fans, as well as the sequel. But it only stands as proof of the unfortunate belief that there's no such thing as a good video game movie. Whatever potential that was in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider wasn't used very much.

A Quiet Place (2018) - Directed by John Krasinski


Horror is a genre that bugs me these days. A lot of it is not original at all, and many horror movies ride off the backs of movies that inspired them. And while this goes for all genres, horror is very bad at maintaining a balance. But as with every genre, one movie can stand out by being original, and drawing attention. In this case, a movie drew attention by staying quiet.

A Quiet Place doesn't ride off of the backs of other horror movies. In this absolute chiller of a thriller, the constant silence is a necessity both in the plot and for the movie's scares, leaving many of the scares in the first half of the film to be based on sounds themselves, and with proper effect and deliverance.

This film centers around a family lost in a post-apocalyptic world of once-thriving farms and forests, avoiding creatures who hunt by sound. Their survival depends on their silence, and they use sign language to communicate. Any loud sound at all is an absolute danger. And that alone is something most horror movies use in predictable ways, like footsteps on the above floor. Not A Quiet Place.

John Krasinski's direction of the film is outstanding. Taking advantage of the sounds and silence themselves through the cinematography and sound editing (especially) adds a very good level to the story which may or may not feel underdeveloped depending on what you're paying attention to.

The movie is about atmosphere and the necessity to focus on current situations. As a result, there is little room for an origin story for the creatures or for even knowing the character's names. But unlike movies that can easily be criticized for not addressing names very often, like Dragonheart, A Quiet Place puts the focus on survival, and thus the need for names is minimal at best.

There is an absolutly abrupt ending to the film that leaves a lot of room open for a sequel. While some movies do that terribly, like Alien Vs. Predator, The abrupt ending for A Quiet Place was above perfect, ending on a stunning shock which may be the biggest shock in an already shocking and thrilling movie.

A Quiet Place may not be the movie of the year, but it stands out as a key entry of tje modern horror scene that sets Jim Halpert himself, John Krasinski as a future grand director who may be able tp stand with modern greats like Wes Anderson, as well as put modern veteran horror directors like Adam Wingard to silence. Although it's one of the worst ideas ever to talk through the movie, it's on that will be talked about for a while.

Rocky (1976) - Directed by John G. Avildsen

"Rocky, you went the distance."

I caught Rocky yesterday about an hour after I got back from A Quiet Place. I didn't expect the best sports movie ever, but I did get something very heartfelt and gripping in an everyday-life manner. Rocky wasn't all punches and kicks. It's human, very human indeed.

Rocky is about a working-class boxer/mob enforcer who is going nowhere with his life, as told to him by his friend Paulie and boer veteran Mickey Goldmill, criticizing Rocky for constantly fighting "bums" and being a mob enforcer. But when Rocky gets the rare opportunity to fight world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, Rocky takes the chance and trains like hell as his friends around him are changing with him.

I remember the scene in Barton Fink where Barton is criticized for writing a "fruity" wrestling movie. Now when John Mahoney's character said "fruity," I felt he meant "human." I don't know about you, but I think a human boxing story is something the world needs rather than ninety minutes of punching.

My point is simple. Rocky acts as a reminder than the world around us affects how we confront everything in life, especially human interaction. Our minds are influenced by other people, and Rocky makes an example of that out of most of the characters, such as the once-shy but now confrontational and strong-minded Adrian, Rocky's girlfriend; Adrian's brother Paulie, who was once sleaze but is now getting a grip on his drinking; Mickey who realizes he was wrong about Rocky being a bum, etc. In that level of humanity and character development, we can all take something from Rocky.

However, the film is by no means a measterpiece in my opinion. While it may be one of the most enjoyable sports movies out there, it WAS directed by Karate Kid director John G. Avildsen. He boasts little to no real film-making talent, and like the directors of Star Wars episodes V and VI, Rocky is a diamond in the rough of Avildsen's filmography that boasts nothing truly spectacular about the film-making. The film is mostly driven by character and the ending boxing match. That boxing match was very eye-gripping, I'll give it that.

Rocky is a lot of fun. And while it may have gotten too many sequels, Avildsen was probably happy he got such a famous franchise. I recommend Rocky for anyone who's into cinema or boxing, because it is undoubtably a sports classic, even if it needs a little bit more touching on.

Mystic River (2003) - Directed by Clint Eastwood

"We bury our sins here."

Mystic River, one of Clint Eastwood's most gripping movies, is a fine and grim tale of how friendships turn around for the worst through the depths of time, and become ugly enough to kill. Although it's not the most well-directed film of Clint Eastwood's filmography, the film does a superp job of bringing the pains of the world together in two hours of a clever mix of a simple family drama and a murder mystery guessing game.

The film is about three adults, one of which is now a cop, who were best friends during their childhood. But their eyes see the world in its true, terrible form once one of them is kidnapped. And this opeining scene is not the worst that will come. When the daughter of the remaining man (Sean Penn) has been murdered, he suspects anyone around him, and his two friends end up involved.

The film is a little slow-paced for my liking, but the emotion of the film kept me enthralled constantly. The cast easily got into character, almost as if a part of the characters was a part of the cast and no one knew it. Everyone poured their heart into it. But what really interested me about the movie is the dialogue. It was like watching a real murder mystery play out instead of just another episode of CSI.

But the real plot points are within the dialogue of the characters. Having to tell thing, hide things, or make up things is a key factor in the plot twists that wait around the bend of the Mystic. The humanity of it all was the leading way in which the pain of the characters is shared with the audience. I know I felt like I would go crazy if my kid was murdered. I felt that throughout the whole movie. It was a movie about pain, and that's something anyone can relate to.

Mystic River is a modern classic, and an essential for those who want to play "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." Each of the three main casting choices, Bacon, Sean Penn, and Tim Robbins, put their all into the roles, and watching them dodge bullets as they try to solve the mystery is a real treat, even if it's an unpleasant series of events.

Annihilation (2018) – Directed by Alex Garland

It's like they're stuck in a continuous mutation.”

When 2018 started, I got wind of a new Natalie Portman sci-fi movie called Annihilation. When I first heard of this movie, I was careful about reception. I was impressed with the reviews when the reviews finally came out, but worried it would turn into an Alien copy like 2017's Life. Instead what I got was a beautifully rendered, smartly written, genuine sci-fi modern classic that boasts one of Natalie Portman's finest performances. This may be one of my favorite sci-fi movies.

Annihilation is the mindful mystery about a female scientist who ventures into some strange alternate reality called “the Shimmer,” where her soldier husband ventured a year beforehand with his team and was the only one who survived the trip. As she ventures into this estranged world where everything feels, and may very well be, rewritten, their own physical limits and samity are put to the test. And it doesn't help there are monsters around.

This film is a lot like Russian art-house director Andrey Tarkovsky's three-hour slow cinema epic, Stalker. In that film, three men venture into another world full of alternate realms that are always changing. And the evaluation of the mind is a key factor to how events play out in Annihilation as well. Stalker was the movie that got me interested in psychological films. And psychological evaluation that applies to an entire world's full structure is the real premise of Annihilation.

Although the movie gets pretty interesting from the get-go, the movie has several flashbacks which don't seem to play all that much of a role into the current story of venturing into the Shimmer and finding out what that craziness inside is all about. These flashbacks usually revolve around the events surrounding Natlie Portman (or Lena) and her husband kane before Kane's departure into the Shimmer, and they don't add very much to the story that connects or displays any great amount of mental evaluation. So there's the main complaint about the movie, besides it taking a slow half-hour after a great introductory half-hour.

And despite the psyche of the film, there's very little character development in the film. That's a leading criticism I have for 2001: A Space Odyssey, a similar but far more well-developed sci-fi story. I don't even remember all of the names of the characters. They all felt one-sided. And the dialogue needs some touching up on when diving into more personal levels, as if the dialogue was just there to tell the story.

My final criticism is the quality of the music. Much of the time, this mostly ambient soundtrack didn't add much to the creepy aura of the film, or it felt unoriginal. And sometimes, it took an electronic sound which only made me think, “What do they think this is? A Daft Punk mixtape?”

However, the psychological evaluation of an entire landscape, and how it affects minds, is something very interesting and gripping in a sci-fi movie. Stalker made mentions of how its own special place woks, but spent more time on evaluating characters themselves while travelling through the landscapes. Annihilation tackles both at once, and carries amazing scientific explanations for impossible things happening in the Shimmer. Another great thing about the psyche of the movie is how these evaluations tie into the plot twists, making the thought-process of the people and the world put together more gripping, as if the whole idea is to try and see into the character's minds.

Along with the story comes amazing visual landscapes and effects where stunning. The slow cinematography may hinder things a little bit occasionally, but is also an essential part of the movie when necessary. Slowly moving across beautifully developed landscapes with incredibly realistic but original looking flora and fauna, the movie very much like Stalker in that manner as well. One should watch the movie just to see the visuals if they don't like psychological mumbo-jumbo, because the plant-life, the sky, and the animals are all breathtaking. However, this may also be seen as a fault, because it's apparent after the first half of the movie that visuals were taken into account much more than character, especially considering that the film traded decent explanation of the fates of a couple characters for visual spectacle, leading to an anti-climactic “battle” at the end.

Finally, let me add that the acting is great. Natalie Portman gives one of her most emotional performances I've ever seen. Sometimes I forget what a talented actress she can be. So Annihilation helps prove than Natalie Portman isn't all Star Wars, and is really much more essential to sci-fi in general, especially when you include Mars Attacks and Thor. I also greatly enjoyed the acting of Gina Rodriguez as the strong-willed Anya who eventually starts to go insane.

I can easily see Annihilation being considered a modern sci-fi classic. It's got visuals like nothing I've ever seen. However, if it had more character development for a focus, it would have been a better movie than Stalker, which I'm convinced is a thematic source of influence. It's still something that should be definitely seen. Again, amazing visuals, wonderful story that takes the entire world itself into account, and great acting. Lame music, not enough character development, a little ant-climactic. Take these pros and cons into account as you will, but I'd say this will be seen as one of the best sci-fi movies of 2018, and I honest6ly believe it's one of Natalie Portman's finest movies.

Disaster Movie (2008) - Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

"Drugs. Lots and lots and lots of mind-altering, enchanting, DRUGS!"

Now I'm a comedy guy. It's not my favorite genre, but I love it. I'm a firm believer that the crap statement, "Comedy is the worst form of entertainment" is exactly, entirely that: crap. In fact, there are a lot of comedy movies that critics hate that I'm fond of.

However, it might be true in a different definition: There is no low comedy won't stoop to for a good laugh. I turned on Disaster Movie last night because I expected to like something about this movie. Instead, it only acted like further proof (unfortunately) that both definitions have truth.

Disaster Movie is one of those parody movies by infamous directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, notable for writing the Scary Movie series and doing other parody films in that same vein, like Epic Movie, Vampires Suck, Superhero Movie, Date Movie, and Meet the Spartans. As you can see, they aren't the most educated in terms of what's funny and what's not. And Disaster Movie is definitely a NOT. In the end, the lows that comedy stoop to still need to be FUNNY. Disaster Movie is largely unfunny.

This properly named pseudo-doomsday teen movie centers around a terribly done Juno-style relationship between a man and a woman, who end up caught in two different places during an inexplicable apocalypse. Along with this parody of disaster movies and teen relationship movies are comedic cameos by people dressed as many pop culture stars from 2006-2008 fiction and non-fiction. These movies and TV shows include 10,000 B.C., High School Musical, Marvel, Enchanted, and Indiana Jones.

Throughout the entire movie, there were only two thing that made me laugh: the Flavor Flav scene and a specific line I won't ruin for you on the off-chance you plan on seeing it. But the bulk of the movies and cameos are not only unfunny, but they add literally nothing to the movie. is that the real mofus of the movie? Just to throw in pop culture references all the time without any coherency? Terrible!

Also, there's one thing that ruins anything good about the movie, one simple and terrible thing made up of six words that should never go together: rabid Alvin and the Chipmunks puppets. This was the worst scene in any movie I have ever seen, and I'm an MST3K fan. It was absolutely appaling and disgusting, partially because of the terrible delivery and partially because of the puppets' appearances in general. I honestly want to watch the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie just to wash that image out with the other "live-action" chipmunks.

I will admit... I laughed throughout the movie. Why? Becuase I couldn't believe they thought some of these ideas were good ones. I was laughing at the writers' taste. How could they have thought this movie was funny?

Disaster Movie isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, but it's certainly up there. The line I mentioned was just enough to save it from getting the top slot (or bottom slot), but I still wouldn't recommend it. It's at the bottom of many "worst movies of 2008" or "all-time" lists, and it likely deserves it.

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961) - Directed by Coleman Francis

"A prehistoric beast in a nuclear age"

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is one of my favorite shows. But I usually only watch it when I want to go through a bad movie. And while Crow and Servo's jokes help me get through them, they do not serve as distractions at all. In fact, they helped me get through the worst travesty of a film I currently know: The Beast of Yucca Flats.

This infamously bad B-horror movie is about a Russian scientist who's caught in a nuclear explosion and is turned into a wretched beast bent on killing and killing. It follows a vaguely similar vein as Hulk except he doesn't really "mutate."

So what makes this movie so bad? So many things. First, the music itself isn't a real soundtrack. The same sound effects are played on repeat for minutes on end and do very little to bring out any horror. If one could call it musi, I'd like to hear their definition of music. Just don't play any for me. And certain plot elements, such as the beginning and the car chase, are not touched on ever again. Sometimes, plot elements just disappear, failing to set up any sort of real story in place of an extremely simple origin story with no creativity.

The acting itself is terrible. Tor Johnson, a Sweidsh wrestler, plays the monster, and does a horrendous job at it. All he does is walk around slowly and swing a stick. But I suppose his acting isn't quite as bad as the acting during the death scenes. Those who are killed look like their passing out from an aspirin-party instead of being killed.

But the worst thing about the movie is that there is little to no dialogue. Now I understand there was a small budget, but dialogue doesn't cost extra money. The movie was filmed without it, so like the music, the dialogue was added afterwards. However, the cast waited for moments where their faces were either obscured by darkness or blurred by far-off shots or turned from screen. This didn't leave a lot of room for dialogue. This completely destroyed any chances of character development. And the acting for the unconvincing and campy dialogue was horrid.

The Beast of Yucca Flats is the worst movie I've ever seen. There was only one good thing about the movie. Can you guess? I'll tell you. it was less than an hour long. I'm glad I watched it on MST3K. 0/5 doesn't even begin to describe how bad it is.

The Beast of Yucca Flats
is the worst movie I've ever seen. There was only one good thing about the movie. Can you guess? I'll tell you. it was less than an hour long. I'm glad I watched it on MST3K. 0/5 doesn't even begin to describe how bad it is.

It sounds cheesy! But I'm going to watch it, I love 50-60s sci fi monster flicks. I've seen quite a few. I've heard of The Beast of Yucca Flats but never seen it, it's on youtube as a regular movie without the MST3K crew, so that's what I'm watching. It can't be any worse than the movie I watched last night

It sounds cheesy! But I'm going to watch it, I love 50-60s sci fi monster flicks. I've seen quite a few. I've heard of The Beast of Yucca Flats but never seen it, it's on youtube as a regular movie without the MST3K crew, so that's what I'm watching. It can't be any worse than the movie I watched last night
What did you watch last night?

I though you might ask that It was Howard the Duck....ugh yuck, so hard to watch.
Ah, hell man. I can't wait to see that just to see how campy it is. It's pretty high on my "bad movies to see" list.

Ah, hell man. I can't wait to see that just to see how campy it is. It's pretty high on my "bad movies to see" list.
That's why I watched it too...and a couple of weeks ago I watched another all time movie flop, Ishtar (1987) which I rather liked. I thought it was pretty decent.

The Chaos Class (1975) - Directed by Ertem Eğilmez

"The new vice-principal is coming today. maybe he'll put things in order."

I've been looking for this classic Turkish dramedy film, The Chaos Class for a while now. I heard it got excellent reviews. Imdb users kept 10/10-ing the movie. But I think it's for the same reason American Graffiti was so popular: the nostalgia.

This Turkish classic The Chaos Class is the first of a series of films telling of different goofball high school classes, with the first telling of the first ever Chaos Class terrorizing a private Turkish school with their obnoxious antics, such as distracting an old teacher with war stories to get out of tests, or going behind the back of a blind teacher. This has been going on for years since they refuse to graduate and leave the high school life they've settled so much in. But when a new vice-principal comes, the Chaos Class are in for a world of trouble. This vice-principal means serious business, and he isn't going to tolerate anymore of thier antics.

Now I thought the movie was occasioanlly funny as hell, when they weren't resorting to the running "cow" gag. Still, there was wit to spare. It was also a lot of fun seeing how the events played out. I haven't had this much fun in a class-versus-teacher war since I watched Recess as a kid. Good times.

But I didn't get the five-star treasure I was looking for. The story was just fine, and I loved watching and guessing what would happen next. And the cast brought plenty of charisma to the movie. Still, it had some serious flaws in it.

The first flaw is that the "score" was really the same two or three tunes played over and over again to the point where they got tiring. It's not much of a score. This is the same problem I have with The Beast of Yucca Flats, except the music in The Chaos Class is a lot better anyway. Still, an hour into the movie I deeply wished for another song.

The next big flaw was its direction. There were so many scenes that cut off before I could get a laugh in, leaving no room for a reaction and having to bring myself to pay attention to the story again. No I liked the story. In fact, I think Peter Weir of Dead Poets Society fame should definitely remake it. But the half-second shots were a terribhle thing to put in a movie with more potential.

Despite the glaringly obvious flaws, The Chaos Class is a lot of fun. I believe it's mostly so well known on Imdb for its nostalgia. I mean, who doesn't wanna relive the good parts of their youth? And high school/college antics like that were pretty common in the late-70's, and make for the plots of many high-school films. The Chaos Class should prove to be a hell of a time. Still, get a better cinematographer.

Robocop (1987) - Directed by Paul Verhoeven

"Dead or alive, you're coming with me!"

The 80's was a wonderfully estranged time for children. Mecha anime, sports cars, superpowered police, and early furry mascots were the hip-and-happening plague that stormed the 80's. And of course, the adult 80's action movie fad had to grab a piece of that action now, didn't it?

Following in the footsteps of Arnold Swartzeneggar (Terminator, The Running Man), Robocop is an 80's classic about a policeman in a world always shooting for the future. While bullets are not yet a thing of the past, Detroit's tech companies are looking for new ways to enforce the law. When our aformentioned policeman is killed in action, he is rebuilt into Robocop.

I expected a semi-pleasant cheese party. I was also a bit weary of the film beforehand, because I knew it had gotten edited 11 times before the MPAA finally changed their rating from a X to an R. But the violence didn't disgust me as much as people let on (these are the same people who told me The Exorcist was scary). In fact, it wasn't even as cheesy as I thought it would be. Under Paul Verhoeven's direction, Robocop entertained me a lot more than I thought I'd be.

The best thing about Robocop is the realism. The movie has a few "advertisement" scenes that show you the basics of the world around you, and let you know through news reports the major events that affect the whole city of Detroit. Not to mention, the costume design was exactly what was needed for Robocop himself and not outlandish in any way in my opinion. And while this sense of realism is tainted by cheap robot CGi for about six onscreen minutes, the way the handled the motions of that robot was perfect. And while the action was occasionally over-the-top, it was quite thrilling.

While any chances of character development are killed by focusing solely on Robocop himself, the film's story and evolution of the titular character only gets better and better until the very end, where a not-so-surprising but very satisfying plot twist awaits. Roocop's journey of self-discovery acts as a way to see Robocop as a person and as a robot.

The music was very good. The score was exceptionally well-placed throughout the entire movie and carried the drama, action, and emotions of the film with it. The music was one of the best things in the movie. And the acting was wonderful, especially on Weller's part. Weller played an excellent robot, emotionless but wondering about his true self.

Robocop is an 80's classic that acts as a tough-guy movie while acknowledging its science fiction action figure roots, turning both sides of the film into one spectacular comination that makes Robocop one of the most important movies of the 80's. I had little interest in watching the remake before I saw this, and now I'm certain there's no way the remake could overpower the original film.

Sword of Doom (1966) – Directed by Kihachi Okamoto

Evil mind, evil sword”

Although I am still very new to samurai movies, having only seen a few must-see moies like Seven Samurai, Harakiri, and Yojimbo, I know a damn good samurai movie when I see one. But I've spent a lot of time looking for only a few obvious movies all over the place like Sanjuro and Samurai 1, 2 and 3 and having little luck. How embarrassed was I when I realized I overlooked a very important one? That movie is Sword of Doom.

I first payed attention to the movie when I read a review by Movieforums member reviewed it, and I considered the review to be well-written and interesting enough for me to watch the movie soon after reading the review. I looked for it and found it, and I'm glad to say I watched it, because the movie was wonderful.

Sword of Doom is an adaptation of a Japanese serial novel where a murderous samurai flees his home after a duel and joins a group of assassins, slowly but surely descending into madness. As his past catches up with him, the movie concludes with a shocking twist and an abrupt cliffhanger for an ending.

It took a few minutes for the movie to really get interesting. But right after the movie got good, it got better every ten minutes. The direction of the movie was phenomenal. The cinematography was perfect, showing off whatever was necessary in a simple but proper artistic manner, never losing touch. And this matched well with the action in the movie. The sword battles were far more fun to watch than the battles in Seven Samurai, and Nakadai's skills were incredible. The shot where he slowly walks through an attacking gang killing everyone in one swift slice was incredible.

The acting was wonderful as well. Nakadai got into character very easily, playing someone who was downright secretly nuts. I felt uncomfortable looking at his face when he did that. And one of my favorite scenes comes after many shots of him smiling after a kill, when he sees Toshiro Mifune slaying his teammates and he's scared s***less.

And another thing I noticed is how much darker this movie was from the samurai movie's I've seen. Without any dialogue to examine it, the film uses Nakadai's faces to show how deep the psychological scars are going.

If I had to fault the movie for anything, it's for the complexity. I love complex movies, but this isn't the same thing as Tarkovsky's experiemental film, The Mirror. It's not a movie built for complexity, which means there's nothing to justify the fact that the movie is hard to follow.

Despite that problem, I believe Sword of Doom is one of the finest samurai movies out there. Anyone who's into movies should check this out at least once. A dark touch and a twisted story make this movie one of the best.

Recommended for: samurai fans and psycholgical thriller fans.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) - Directed by Vittorio De Sica

"There's a cure for everything except death."

The cinematic movement known as Italian neorealism is a social statement. Intentionally neglecting the conventionalities of big-name actors (with a few exceptions like Europe 51'), Italian neorealism showcases povertous (a word I made up meaning, “full of poverty) post-World War II Italy and bases itself on the realistic drama of the civilians.

Because this entire movement makes a point of replacing Hollywood panache a simple realistic outlook (hence the latter half of the name), it's only fair that this film be judged by realism and impact. This is something I taught myself twenty-five minutes into Bicycle Thieves, a 1948 film that's arguably the most famous film of the movement.

Bicycle Thieves is the heartbreaking story of a jobless man who buys back his pawned bicycle to get a job hanging posters. But when his bike is stolen, he goes all over Italy to find it.

This look deep into the world of post-war Italy doesn't bass itself on hobos and scrap-scraping animals. This is about those who journey into the attempted accomplishments humans put themselves through and how they affect others. Watching the realistic “society” of post-war Italy unfold was something I've never really seen a movie focus on. It hadded a huge amount of realism to a movie that carries a goal of staying realistic.

And the characters themselves were not built on character development, since the film was really one man's search for his bike. We got to see the world through his eyes, feeling for him while feeling his emotions. From front to back, Bicycle Thieves was like living the man's life for a little while.

Don't watch this movie if you want a great adventure or dadaist-level art. Watch it if you want to feel human. That's what Italian neorealism is: it's the humanity of a man going through a time when humans need to and can be only that: human.

The Conjuring (2013) - Directed by James Wan

"God brought us together for a reason."

I don't watch a lot of demon-based movies. Before I saw this movie I had only seen one other demon-related film: The Exorcist. And while The Exorcist is without a doubt the better movie, The Conjuring was a lot scarier.

Most people assume The Conjuring is a made up story about real-0life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Nope. Google It. The family was real. The demon is real (I'm Christian, by the way). The Conjuring is a reimagining of the story of the Perron family haunting and the demon haunting it. Ed and Lorrain Warren come into the house to deal with what may have been the most intense demon experience they have ever faced.

Now I believe in demons without a doubt, but I'm not scared of them. I mean, hey, God can deal with them very easily. But I get into the "spirit," heh heh, of wehatever movie I watch. This movie scared me. That may be because I don't watch a lot of horror. Despite that, he build-up was excellent. I saw a couple of thinfgs coming, but most of the scares were twists on what I expected. Impressive.

The depiction of the demonic possession was far beyond realistic. It was amazing to watch how the special efects and the wonderful actors worked together to create a realistic facade of a demonic haunting. And of course, there's a happy ending I was very pleased with.

I have two major faults with the movie. First, the Perron Family has very little character development. I love character development. Second, there were plenty of times James Wan didn't really grasp the ideals of a perfect film. The cinemotagrapher wasn't very focused at times. Although, sometimes it gave the film a found footage feel, so that was kinda cool.

The Conjuring is one of the better horror movies I've seen in the modern age. I believe It is the best horror movie ever, but there's no doubt this movie is a proper horror thrill ride that doesn't base itself on blood and gore in lue of actual scare tactics.

Titan A.E. (2000) - Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman

"We called it the 'Titan Project,' and it was a testament to the limitless power of the human imagination."

Out of nowhere wo nights ago, I got an itch to watch this again. My opinion of this movie changes EVERYTIME I see it, which is odd since this was a childhood favorite and I usually watch those for nostalgia. This was a bit different. I've been considering Don Bluth as a contender for one of the greatest children's film directors, but most of his post-NIMH films didn't really hit the mark as well as they could have. Titan A.E. is a turnaround for him, steering towards sci-fi after almost wearing out his fantasy schtick.

Titan A.E. is a space opera about a young man who's been drifting in space with the rest of humanity for 15 years after an alien race eliminated the planet Earth. After finding out his late father gave him the secret to finding a ship that can give a new home to humanity and change the course of their future, he sets out on a race to find the ship before the alien race responsible for humanity's near extinction blasts it away first.

This film got a lot of slack upon release for its story which many felt was a bit kiddy and all "done before" in science fiction. I think both of those statements are unfair criticisms. First of all, compare Titan A.E. to Don Bluth's other movies like Rock-A-Doodle or All Dogs Go to Heaven. Not so kiddy now, is it? There are even several instances of blood! There's plenty of action violence, or at least enough to warrant the PG rating, and it covers adult topics like death pretty often.

As for the second criticism about the film feeling "done before," or a jumbled up collection of common sci-fi plot points, parts of me find that to be even more unfair. Sci-fi is one of the most popular and written genres on the planet, and is a key figure in the nerd culture that's been plaguing streets and fanfictions ever since Star Trek. Yeah, it's been done before. So has every other sci-fi movie on earth, even the good ones. Here are some examples of great movies that have been done before. Annihilation? A female-fronted reimagining of Stalker with underdeveloped monsters. Interstellar? Nerfed 2001 with a Planet of the Apes ending. MCU? It's the MCU. We don't get a lot of animated post-apocalyptic space operas with an alternative rock to techno soundtrack, especially one with John Leguizamo playing a nutso and goofy turtle-alien and Nathan Lane playing a lanky mass of disgusting charm in the form of a baboon wearing brown jeans. And, WE DON'T GET VILLAINS MADE OUT OF PURE ENERGY LIKE EVER.

Another thing people probably miss, likely due to the common and occasionally reasonable criticism of over-features effects, is that DOn Bluth directed the film very well. This wasn't just about fancy CGi. Bluth and Goldman put more time and effort focusing on the cinematography and the impact of the film that the story only suffered a little for it, as opposed to his poory written early-90's movies. The flight-scene in the red dust storm was phenomenal. The CGi was extraordinary. That movie, like 2001, was ahead of its time in special effects. Not to mention, the music was very well placed. Maybe none of these songs are super-hits that you'd like to hear alone, but they match their respective scenes in the film properly.

The characters usually didn't fall flat. Korso clearly had more sides to him as the film progressed. Akima had a young, independent tough-girl presence but was also hurt by the destruction of Earth. Cale was a blatantly independent loner who ignored his family-related emotions a lot but was also a genius who could just look at a machine he'd never seen before and figure out how it worked, and eventually learned to accept other people's ideals. And the performances were quite good. Korso is easily one of my favorite Bill Pullman roles, and I became a small fan of Matt Damon through his role as Cale. And I just love Gune. I want Gune as a pet.

Titan A.E. has a lot of strong points. But maybe the visuals ended up too annoying for purists to pay attention to other things about the movie. There are some unique things about the film as well that get overshadowed by plot elements, or more accurately sci-fi traits, that people have probably seen too many times in a movie. Overall, it could be a bad combination of common beliefs that keep critics from seeing the true colors of Titan A.E. behind the fancy CGi. And regarding the CGi, as aformentioned, the film was ahead of its time by about a decade, and I think that gets overlooked very often. 2001 didn't get slack for any of that, and neither should Titan A.E. when not even Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 had the most realistic effects. Titan A.E. is an animated treasure, and I hope reviews for it in the future are much more merciful like with Blade Runner.