Cobpyth's Film Reviews

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I decided it was time for me to start my own review thread, so here it is! Most of my reviews will be about movies I watch for the FIRST time. I still have many important and acclaimed films to watch, so hopefully there will be a lot of 'sweet candies' for me down the road to talk enthusiastically about!

- I won't always be able to rate movies with points, but I will try to include a certain 'first impression rating'. This rating may evolve over time and is certainly not definitive.

- I will also try to make my reviews as spoiler-free as possible, but if someone who has already seen a certain film wants to start a discussion about it (with spoilers), I will certainly not shy away from that! My reviews also won't be that long as those of some of the other members here, but if there are any questions about my opinion, I will be very glad to answer them extensively!

- I am not a native english speaker, so I would appreciate it if you would correct some big mistakes I make. Those corrections will help me to write better reviews in the future.

Some of my earlier (small) reviews can be found in this topic.

Reviews of the day:

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

This movie was good!
It tells the story of an alcoholic (Nicolas Cage), who exchanges everything he has in cash, after he got fired, and wants to end his miserable life in Las Vegas by drinking himself to death. Once he got there, he meets a hooker (Elisabeth Shue) and they start to develop a strange relationship with eachother. She has to deal with the fact that he's an incorrigible drunk and he has to deal with her 'working' at some nights as a prostitute...

Cage and Shue deliver some very strong acting performances and also the director, Mike Figgis, does a great job! Together they create a dark character based tale with some outstanding and intense scenes.

My rating:

Oldboy (2003)

This movie was absolutely STUNNING!
First of all, the visuals are great! It had some very nice camera work and the beauty of some scenes are unforgetable. Besides the magnificent cinematography, there is also a very interesting script.

It's mainly a revenge film. It tells the story of a drunk who suddenly is extracted from society and is imprisoned in a chamber, while he has no idea why. He is forced to stay there for 15 years, untill he is finally released. Then he begins to search the one responsible for ruining 15 years of his life. He commences a quest for the truth and for revenge.
There is however more on the basis of this all than our protagonist could ever imagine. In the end it all unfolds into a greek tragedy-like conclusion with many layers attached and a dubious final scene.

The wonderful story, the great visuals, the outstanding acting and the many, many memorable moments/scenes make this film one hell of a ride! I would recommend it to anyone with an open mind.

+ (may become 5/5 in the future)

Reviews of the day:

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Well, what can I say? This is an original, twisted, crazy and funny picture. It's also the best Kaufman movie I've seen so far (I've also seen Adaptation. and ESotSM, which were both already very good). This Comedy/Horror/Sci-fi movie really made a lasting impression.

The movie tells the story of a puppeteer (played by John Cusack), who can not find succes with his rather odd passion, despite having great skills. He lives in an appartment with his wife (played by Cameron Diaz, who exceeds herself in this film) and the many animals she keeps, including a chimpanzee.
When he gets a punch in the face while performing on the streets, because the puppet play he was doing, wasn't really appropiate for children, he searches for a job.
His new workplace seems to be on a small floor, the 7 1/2th floor, where everyone has to bend themeselves so they can walk. There he meets a very seductive woman, named Maxine (played by Catherine Keener, who looks STUNNING), and he instantly falls in love with her, but dreadfully for him, she is not interested in him at all.

Untill here, the movie seems quite normal, but then something very strange happens.

Craig, the puppeteer, finds a very small door in his office. When he opens it, he sees a long tunnel and while he's crawling through it, he gets sucked in. Suddenly he sees the world through the eyes of actor John Malkovich!

I'm not going to tell you much more about the plot, you'll have to see the film for that, but I can tell you that what comes next is worth it! From that moment on, the movie starts to explore other (dark) sides of the characters and topics like free will, the human soul, death, love, obsession and control are brought into the story!

Above all it stays a very inventive dark comedy with some of the most loony scenes you'll (probably) ever see. This film deserves to be watched by all of you, but I'm sure many already did.




Thanks, Proximity!

Normally I was going to watch Pan's Labyrinth next, but I wasn't really in the mood for another heavy movie, so I consulted one of my favorite 'relax' directors, Tim Burton! (Pan's will probably be for tomorrow night, then)

Frankenweenie (2012)

This is yet another sweet, imaginative stop motion horror film from Burton!
It is completely in black and white and next to the main story it contains some very clever references to classic horror films of the past. There were references to Frankenstein, Godzilla, Dracula, Vincent Price, Frankenstein's bride, Christopher Lee, Boris Karloff, etc. It was a lot of fun trying to recognize all of them!

The story is based on Burton's short film Frankenweenie from 1984.

An introvert boy, called Victor, who is very smart and likes to make his own movies in the attic with cardboard sets, spends most of his time alone with his dog, Sparky. They are very close to eachother.
When the new science teacher, with the looks of Vincent Price, tells the class about a science contest, everyone is very enthusiastic and also Victor wants to participate. First, however, he needs the autograph of his dad. When he asks, his father only wants to sign on the condition that Victor will also give sport a chance, in this case Baseball.
When Victor swings a home run, Sparky runs after the ball, which lands on the street, and fate strikes. Sparky gets run over by a car and dies.
Victor doesn't like life without Sparky. He can't accept the death of his only friend and when he sees in a science experience from his new, odd teacher that the muscles of an animal still react when put under electricity, he believes that he can resurrect his dog!

After that the movie really starts to become a horror movie. With some creepy characters like the hunchback kid, the big eyed staring girl with her cat, the frankenstein-like boy, the japanese boy, ... Burton creates the required suspense and their stupid actions provide some demonic chaos.

Of course this film also has a great sense of humor. The funniest moment was when the big eyed girl offered Victor a V-formed turd of her cat as a proof that her cat had dreamed about him and that it would be a special day for him.

While the story may not be that sophisticated, I still recommend it to lovers of classic horror movies and of course to all Tim Burton fans!

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I thought the science teacher looked like J. Carrol Naish who played the hunchback Daniel in House of Frankenstein. Martin Landau also sounded like he was doing an impression of Naish.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Nice to see you started a review thread I've seen Oldboy and Frankenweenie, I'd give Oldboy a
too and I'd give Frankenweenie a
, was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed it, probably my favourite Burton film actually. Been wanting to see Being John Malkovich for a while now and your review only further increases this want

Reviews of the day:

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

This film certainly proves that Kaufman is a genius. The first thing that went through my mind when the credits rolled was: "I will never be able to make something with such originality and depth EVER in my life." This is certainly one of the most ambitious movies I've watched in my entire life.

The platform Kaufman uses to project his philosophies and ideas about life, is the main character Caden Cotard (superbly played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). He is a neurotic theater director who has one big fear, "death" and more specifically wasting his life and regretting it at the end of his life. He wants to create something that will be remembered, he wants to be different.
After receiving a funding from the MacArthur Fellows Program, he decides to use a big theater building full of sets to create his masterpiece on. He wants to make it 'real', so he hires actors to play real life persons and situations and after some years of continuous striving for realism, the set is almost as real as the actual locations and even the actors start to behave like their (real existing) characters (but not in a completely precise way).

Of course his work is not the only thing in Cotard's life. In the beginning of the movie he is married to Adele (Catherine Keener) and they have a daughter, named Olive. Adele leaves him and goes to Germany and he starts a strange relationship with the girl at the box office, Hazel (Samantha Morton). It doesn't really work out, initially, because of sexual problems, so they go seperate ways. She marries a guy, named Derek, and he marries his main actress, Claire (Michelle Williams).

It starts to become really complex when the play is unfolding into an exact copy of what happens in real life. Claire has to play herself and because she needs a job, Hazel is hired again and becomes Cotard's assistant. After some time the whole situation blows up and some people are not able anymore to play their particular roles, both in the play and in real life...

As you can read, the story is very complex, but it is merely a vehicle for Kaufman to explore philosophical questions as: "What is our fate?", "What's the meaning of life?", "What's the point of existence?", "Why do we do what we do?", etc. He also explores the human psyche and more specifically how we always (have to) play roles and how it can be extremely liberating to just be someone else for a moment (the director becomes a maid) and escape from our own limitations. After all we're all going to die, so it doesn't really matter what we actually do. We can clean, have sex, write a book or make paintings, but we all have the same fate, which is that we'll never know what the point of it all is, untill (hopefully, but we're not even sure) after our inevitable death...
The movie contains much more ideas, so discover them yourself by watching it!

Besides the dramatic sides of the story, the film also had a great sense of humor, which is of course one of Kaufman's trademarks. Some parts of the dialogue were hilarious and there were also some absurd, comical situations, but the main tone of the movie always stayed dramatic.

I'd recommend this to people who'd like to be challenged by a movie and want to ask questions about life and the way we, people, are thinking. If you are looking for a cohesive, entertaining story, though, this is absolutely not the film for you!

It's very hard to give the film a rating after this first viewing. It only shows my first impression of the movie and how much I enjoyed it, this first (ignorant) viewing.
I think I enjoyed Being John Malkovich a tiny bit more, so, for the time being, I rate it:

Watched Oldboy for the first time last night. Really interesting movie. Park is a director I will seek out. I haven't heard good things about Stoker, but probably worth a watch once it hits DVD. Agree that the visuals were amazing. I also thought the score stood out.
from me as well.

Reviews of the day:

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

I knew that I was going to enjoy this movie as it is a stop-motion movie (I like that animation style a lot when done in a good way) and it is directed by Wes Anderson, but I never thought that I was going to love it this much! This film was just AWESOME!!!

First of all there are the stunning visuals, which are of course a trademark of Wes Anderson. The color palette was very warm and some scenes were magnificently animated. It was a real "feast" for the eyes!
Then there also were the hilarious dialogue and the wonderful characters. The use of dry humor is absolutely glorious, certainly when they were spoken by memorable figures like Mr. Fox, Rat, Badger, Franklin Bean, etc.
The other thing I liked about this movie was the stylizing of some scenes and together with that often the use of some very good music! This truly made this film an instant favorite of mine amongst animation pictures.

The story itself is also quite entertaining. It is based on the book by Roald Dahl, but there are plenty of differences (even the ending is different), so you still will be able to fully enjoy this film, even when you've read the book, when you were young.
The movie tells the story of Mr. Fox (George Clooney), who is forced to be a family man, as he promised his wife (Meryl Streep) that he would never hunt or steal again when she tells him she's pregnant. When he buys a new house close to three infamous farms, however, his instincts begin to emerge again. After some succesful hunting trips, the owners of the three nearby establishments meet and decide to kill Mr. Fox. His wild manners now seem to have become a very big danger towards his family and his friends. Together they try to avert the attacks of the farmers.
There are also some subplots with for example a rivalry between Mr. Fox's son and his cousin, but of course you will see all that when you watch the movie!

This movie really was my style and went beyond my expectations. It did not have one dull moment and I was entertained through-out the whole experience. On top of that it's also done in the wonderful art of stop motion animation and I can already say after this first viewing that it is up there with Burton's The Night Before Christmas for me. I rate it:

"Cuss" YEAH!

I love Fantastic Mr. Fox, probably my favourite from Anderson, one of the strangest book adaptations I have seen but it really is brilliant in it's unique style. Recently got a cheap copy of it on blu-ray too which means I'll watch it again soon as I've been meaning to Great reviews

Thanks, Daniel!

Reviews of the day:

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Let's begin with the most important factor that made this movie worthwhile: "cinematography!" The camera work is so well controlled and the visuals are so perfectly orchestrated, that I can't believe how this film didn't get more credit for its cinematography at the more important award contests (it got some more recognition at smaller film festivals and award ceremonies, though). But we shouldn't really worry about that anymore, because I tell you know that this movie has some of the best technique of movie photography of last year!

Besides the fact that the movie is great eye candy, it also has a very original script with some very funny scenes and of course an all star cast to portray some of the quirky characters, with big names like Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman. The two main roles, however, are played by first-timers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. In my opinion they did a pretty good job.

The film shows us the story of two lonely 12 year old children. One of them is a boy, who lost his parents and lived in an orphanage for quite some time and the other one is a girl, who lives on an island with her parents and her three younger brothers, but feels disconnected with her family.
After a wonderfully shot introduction to the girl character and her family, with some classical music on the background, we see a scout camp, where the scout leader notices that a boy is missing. Once the aid of the local policeman is consulted, they start a search party to find him.
The boy did not escape without a reason, though. He actually already met the girl character a year earlier and since then, they started to write to eachother and fell in love. They planned to meet and run away with eachother to a better place for both of them.
To see how this adventure/love story works out, you'll have to see the movie, of course.

It was a fun ride and the film had a lot of elements from a typical Wes Anderson movie. It was poetic, quirky, comical, visually stunning and a lot of his trademarks were used. After this first viewing, I rate this movie:


Loved Moonrise and I am not a Wes Anderson fan. In fact liked it so much I want to revisit some of his older stuff to see if my tastes have changed.

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

You know you're getting something special when watching a Lars Von Trier film and Dancer in the Dark was no exception! It's always a big advantage for a director, in my opinion, when he can deliver something totally different than others in the business. Lars Von Trier is certainly one of those directors for me. This was the third film of his that I watched. Previously I've already seen Melancholia and Antichrist and I liked them both a lot.

Dancer in the Dark is certainly no ordinary musical. In the beginning of the film, the story gets built and the characters are being developed. The first real song only comes in after a substantial amount of time. The film and in particular the main character, the east European Selma (magnificently played by Bjork), uses music as an escape from the real world and the real tragedy that's going on in her life. She lives in a trailer with her son on the property of an american, seemingly rich couple and she also suffers from a genetic disorder that's making her more and more blind, which she tries to hide from the world, because she would lose her job at the factory and she wouldn't be able to do the things that she likes. The disorder runs in her family and because she doesn't want her son to become blind, she saves money for an operation. This is also the reason why she moved to America in the first place.
To escape from her hard life, she fantasizes about life being as a musical. In her spare time, she's also rehearsing for the part of Maria in a stage version of the Sound of Music.
When one evening, her landlord stops by at her trailer and tells her that he actually lost all of his money and that he has financial problems, but that he's to proud to tell his wife, because he's afraid she might leave him, Selma wants to comfort him by sharing her own problems and secrets and telling him about her approaching blindness and the operation for her son.
She underestimated the greed of humanity, though, and soon her naivety starts to have consequences...

The movie had a very clever script with a very original concept. Lars Von Trier knows perfectly how to mislead his own characters in a believable way, while the audience can only stand and watch at the tragedy that's developing on the screen. The music was also very beautiful and the fantastical musical scenes were absolutely gorgeous. The general atmosphere of the story, however, was very dark and intense. I rate this movie:


Reviews of the day:

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

This film is pretty acclaimed on this forum, so I decided to give it a watch yesterday.

First of all it has quite an original premise. It's about an introvert man, Lars (played by Ryan Gosling, who delivers a very decent performance), who lives in the garage trailer from the house where his brother and his sister in law are living. It was the former house of their parents. Lars likes to be alone and to do his own things, but his pregnant sister in law often tries to push him into having breakfast or dinner in the house with the family.
When someone at work tells him about a certain kind of sex dolls, he firstly seems not interested, because he didn't need such thing, but the film makes a time jump of six weeks and we then see that he purchased one, called Bianca. The strange thing is that he treats the doll like a real person (he doesn't have sex with her throughout the whole movie, by the way) when he's alone as well when he's in public. At first the people react a little strange to it, but after some time they start to play along and Bianca really gets integrated into the society, although she's only a figment of Lars' mind. While everyone is pretending, a female psychologist tries to analyze why Lars is having this "delusion" and what it precisely means.

The film worked to some degree for me in the sense that it was sweet, sometimes funny and had some great acting in it. I didn't always really feel the drama they were trying to add to the film, though. There were some moments, like the hand scene, where it worked, but some things were that absurd that the character of Lars and his 'depth' suffered from it, in my opinion. The love story with the colleague was another part of the plot which I couldn't always identify with. I have to say, though, that when I turn off my personal tastes, the film seems very balanced in almost every single aspect. I rate this movie:


Small Time Crooks (2000)

This is the seventeenth Woody Allen film I watched. It is an enjoyable film with a very nice script, as usual, but it's not one of his 'greats'.

It tells the original story about a failed crook, Ray, (Woody Allen) and his wife, Frenchy. Ray has a couple of friends and together they want to rob a bank by renting a former pizza place so they can dig a tunnel from there to the bank's strongroom. They let Frenchy open a cookie store as a cover business, but soon her store begins to have a lot of succes. When the gang gets caught, while they wrongly surfaced from their tunnel into a clothing store, they assure the agent that they will only focus on the cookie store and that he can have a share in the profit. They start a cookie franchise and one year later all people involved are filthy rich!
Wealth doesn't seem to please Ray much, though, because his wife wants to become a real socialite and 'hires' an art salesman, David, (Hugh Grant) as her teacher for 'high culture'. David is actually very happy that he can spend time with Frenchy, because he sees in her a way to get very rich...

This story is told in a very comical manner with a mix of slapstick moments and some more dialogue based scenes. I actually really enjoyed it, although it didn't have the depth or greatness of some of Allen's other work. I rate this movie:

Reviews of the day:

Sweet Smell of Succes (1957)

This movie is stunningly good! It's a very dark film noir with some of the best dialogue I've ever seen on film and a filthy, juicy story about a monstrous man, who is obsessed with power over everything that is within his range and the man who helps him like a dog, while despising him at the same time.

Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is a press agent, who earns money by taking accounts and let them appear in columns for publicity reasons. The most famous and respected, yet also the most notorious column writer is J. J. Hunsecker (magnificently played by Burt Lancaster). When Hunsecker asks Falco to do him a favor and to break up the relationship between his sister, Susan Hunsecker, and a jazz guitar player, Steve Dallas, and Falco seems to fail, J. J. freezes Falco out of his column. Because of this, Falco starts losing the trust of his clients and he understands that he has to fulfill Hunsecker's will, if he wants to accomplish his ambition to become a real big shot himself one day.
To reach his goal, Falco has to lay aside all of his moralities and use prostitution, blackmailing, bribery and many other scams. Meanwhile he is held on a leash by Hunsecker, who is obsessed with control and power and absolutely wants to keep his sister, "the only one he has in this world", for himself at all costs...

One of the most remarkable things about this movie is that it keeps its dirty, dark tone during the whole movie and never shies away from it. The story even has some underlying themes like incestuous feelings that make the film even more black and unclean.
Another thing I really liked about the movie, were the various stylish locations. The way the film shows the city, the night clubs and the rooms, contributes to the obscure atmosphere and gave it all a wonderful visual dimension. Also an important factor in terms of atmosphere, was the ominous jazzy score.

The movie is mostly known for its extremely sharp dialogue. It's absolutely brilliant! Here are some examples:

Susan Hunsecker: "Who could love a man who makes you jump through burning hoops like a trained poodle?"

J.J. Hunsecker: "You're dead, son. Get yourself buried."

Sidney Falco: "If I'm gonna go out on a limb for you, you gotta know what's involved!"
J.J. Hunsecker: "My right hand hasn't seen my left hand in thirty years."

J.J. Hunsecker: "I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic."

Otis Elwell: "I can't think of a good reason why I should print anything you give me. I can't even think of a *bad* reason."
Sidney Falco: [eyeing a pin-up] "Suppose I introduce you to a... a lovely reason... who's both good *and* bad... and available?"
Otis Elwell: [pauses] "I'm not an unreasonable man."

J.J. Hunsecker: "Sidney, this syrup you're giving out with... you pour over waffles, not J.J. Hunsecker."

I rate this movie:

Reviews of the day:

The Searchers (1956)

This is a great western movie.
The story has some very subtle touches and famously contains many layers. Especially the background of John Wayne's character, Ethan, and the hidden love affair with his sister in law have been the cause of many speculations, during the years.
It's not only the script and the subtle storylines that make this film so good, though. The locations and some of the scenes are visually fantastic! My favorite visual aspects of the movie are the doors at the beginning and the ending that show us Ethan's lack of a real home, the talk behind the snowy tree and of course Debbie running down the hill behind Martin's back. Seriously classic stuff!

This western starts with the return of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) to his brother's family house after a long trip. What he exactly did when he was away isn't completely clear. He fought in the civil war and after that he roamed around for another three years, but he never goes into detail about that time.
During his stay, we see a certain 'thing' going on between Ethan and his brother's wife. They glance at eachother, he kisses her tenderly on the forehead and she gently caresses his clothes. It's all in the background, but it's very clear that there is a history of forbidden love there.
Then Captain Clayton visits the ranch to ask for some help to find some cows back, who are probably stolen by Indians. When they find a dead cow in the middle of a valley, they know they've been deceived by the Indians.
While most of the men are gone, the indians burn down Aaron Edwards' farm and house, kill him, his wife and his son and kidnap his daughters. When the men come back and Ethan sees Martha (his broter's wife)'s burned body, he decides to search his nieces and to avenge his loved ones.
After some disappointments, the discovery of Lucy (Ethan's oldest niece)'s death and the murder of Lucy's boyfriend, only Ethan and Martin (a kind of adoption son of Aaron and Martha, who was found as a baby by Ethan) remain.
When they finally find Debbie, the youngest niece, after 5 years of traveling, she seems to be integrated in a deadly Indian tribe, under the leadership of a certain Scar. When Ethan sees this, he goes mad and wants to kill her. His intentions seem to change...
There are also several subplots for comic relief, like the romance between Martin and a neigbor girl. This compensates some of the darker themes of the movie.

This film has already been hailed as one of the best films of all time and although that may be a little bit too much praise, in my opinion, it certainly is a 'must see'! Even if the movie has a very deeply rooted story, it's also just a very fun watch and it offers a great load of escapism. I rate this movie:

Searchers is one I definitely need to catch up with. I love westerns but have never been a big John Wayne fan. I know this is one of those must see for movie lovers though.