JayDee's Movie Musings

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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
2001

Directed by
Baz Luhrmann

Written by
Baz Luhrmann
Craig Pearce

Starring
Nicole Kidman
Ewan McGregor
Jim Broadbent
John Leguizamo
Richard Roxburgh


Moulin Rouge

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Plot – The year is 1899 and the city of Paris has attracted a young English writer, Christian (McGregor) with its promise of the Bohemian revolution that is sweeping the city's streets. And the Mecca for this revolution is the Moulin Rouge, a nightclub where the rich and poor alike come to be entertained by the Diamond Dog dancers led by the club's star courtesan, Satine (Kidman). Things become complicated for Christian when he falls in love with Satine, whose affections are also courted by a wealthy Duke (Roxburgh) who is considering investing in the club. A dangerous love triangle ensues as Satine and Christian attempt to keep alive their love in secret. Satine however is keeping a dark secret of her own, one that spells doom for the couple's potential happiness.

This film really wasn't high on my watch list. In fact I'm not sure when or even if I would have gotten round to it. However last Sunday was Mother's Day here in the UK, so when it came to watching a film with my mum at night it was completely her choice. No matter what she wanted to go with, that's what we'd watch. Well she wanted to finally give Moulin Rouge a go after having the DVD kicking about for years and years.

My viewing experience actually bore a strong resemblance to the previous musical I watched – Les Miserables. This was due to me finding Moulin Rogue to be a similarly mixed bag. I was actually surprised at how much I was able to enjoy the film when it was being played straight, and how much I engaged with the romantic storyline that Kidman and McGregor shared. Very tragic and Shakespearean in design, I found their romance to have quite a degree of beauty and sincerity about it, helped supremely by a nice chemistry shared by the two. So that was the positive. On the negative side however, I absolutely detested the film when it moved off into screwball territory! Whenever it engaged in the slapstick and the goofy I just felt like gouging out my eyes and then using them as makeshift earplugs; that way I could neither see or hear what was being inflicted upon me! I just found it so immensely grating and cringy whenever the film all of a sudden descended into a cartoon. The songs they sing become ludicrous, the logic and sound effects are right out of a Looney Tunes short and everyone just acts like a clown.

Despite being a worshipper of redheads, Nicole Kidman isn't someone that I've really been that enamoured with. Here however, decked out in a series of burlesque-like outfits, that changed. Damn she is absolutely smoking in this! Sexy, elegant and effervescent, at times she appears to actually glow on the screen. It's not just her physical appearance that is so striking but the attitude with which she carries herself throughout the film. Evoking a great confidence and sexuality she is just magnetic as Satine. Stunning! I know he seems to be an actor who splits audiences right down the middle (I've got a friend who cannot stand him!) but I've got to say that I've always quite liked Ewan McGregor. Perhaps its my Scottish bias but I've always found him quite a cheery, likeable presence on the screen. And again here I found myself supporting and sympathising with his character as a result of his performance. I was not as infatuated with the performances of Jim Broadbent and John Leguizamo however. Though to be fair to them, I personally felt they were rather sabotaged by the characters foisted upon them which required quite camp, flamboyant showings; and that just fed into the silly, slapstick element of the film which irritated me so. Oh and it's a shame that Richard Roxburgh's duke is relegated to little more than a sneering, one dimensional villain. The only surprise was that he didn't constantly use his fingers to twirl his little pencil moustache; that would just have completed his silent movie villain vibe. He seems to exist purely to provide an inconvenience for the lovers.

Film trivia - Several big names were linked with the role of Satine before it eventually went the way of Kidman. These included Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger and Courtney Love. Love in particular was very bitter about losing out, calling it one of the biggest disappointments of her career. She has also stated publicly her resentment towards Kidman. In an interview for Vanity Fair, Luhrmann characterized the difference between the two by saying that “Courtney is fire and Nicole is ice.” In response to this, Love described Kidman as “a puddle” and on her 1999 tour with Hole dedicated the song “Miss World” (a song about a self-loathing beauty queen) to Kidman. Miaow!
Most of the film's highlights come as a result of the songs that are featured. The large majority of them are covers of classic songs which are given a slight twist, many of them successfully I have to say. And thankfully McGregor and Kidman both prove quite capable of delivering them with a fair degree of talent and flair. The standout moment would probably have to be the 'Elephant Love Medley' which features McGregor and Kidman atop a stunning elephant statue, trading lines from classic love songs back and forth; utilizing the likes of “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles, “In the Name of Love” by U2 and “Heroes” by David Bowie amongst countless others. It's just as well that the musical instances hit such heights on occasion as the plot itself left a bit to be desired. While I may have bought into the romance between Christian and Satine it's not exactly the most original or creative storyline. In fact I think I might be right in saying that it's the plot to just about every opera ever made! And at times it becomes a bit of a convoluted mess with little rhyme or reason to proceedings.

Eli Roth is a purveyor of torture porn. The Fifty Shades of Grey books have been referred to as mommy porn. Well I would like to christen Baz Luhrmann as the master of 'sequin porn'. The film really is quite astonishing to look at, just a constant assault of colour and glitz, with Luhrmann's darting, inventive camerawork capturing it beautifully. He revels in the gorgeous costumes and the staggering sets. The scenes set in the Moulin Rouge itself are immense, just a cavalcade of dancers invading the screen. The large rendition/performance of “Diamons Are a Girl's Best Friend” is absolutely spectacular to witness. What was unfortunate then was the film's penchant for rather scattershot editing, which at times sabotaged the ability to appreciate what was on screen for the simple fact that it was actually tough to see and work out what was going on. It feels like a frenzied mess at times, overloading the senses.

Conclusion – Gaudy. Opulent. Kitschy. Garish. Decadent. Moulin Rouge is all those things and more! I've seen this film dubbed as one of those real 'love it or hate it' films, and I certainly found that to be the case, even if it wasn't in the conventional sense. Some bits of it I loved, others I absolutely hated! As a result it was tough to really stay in the film, I kept getting taken out of it whenever it descended into silliness. As a piece of visual entertainment however there is no doubt that it is quite astonishing, like very little I've ever seen before. I don't think it's a film I could ever bring myself to watch again in full. However I could perhaps pop in the DVD and fast forward through it to some of the big songs, and certainly past the bits that infuriated me so.



Glad you enjoyed it, JD.

I've not seen this in forever. In fact, I can't remember the last time I watched it. Ten years ago, maybe? I don't know, but I do know I got punched on the arm by the friend I went to see this with because I didn't warn her that it was sad at the end and her makeup had all run. I'd already seen it a few times, by nefarious means, before it was released, so, naturally, this was all my fault.
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5-time MoFo Award winner.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Wow you like Moulin Rouge HK? Would certainly not have called that one.

Aww the poor girl, how could you do that to her?



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Year of release
2001

Directed by
Baz Luhrmann

Written by
Baz Luhrmann
Craig Pearce

Starring
Nicole Kidman
Ewan McGregor
Jim Broadbent
John Leguizamo
Richard Roxburgh


Moulin Rouge

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On the negative side however, I just felt like gouging out my eyes and then using them as makeshift earplugs;
__________________
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.
Buddha



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1994

Directed by
Jan de Bont

Written by
Graham Yost

Starring
Keanu Reeves
Sandra Bullock
Dennis Hopper
Jeff Daniels
Alan Ruck
Joe Morton


Speed


Plot - A crazed and dangerous man by the name of Howard Payne (Hopper) attempts to extort money with threats of killing people trapped inside an elevator by setting off a series of explosions. Much to his chagrin his plans are foiled by young SWAT officer Jack Traven (Reeves) and his partner Harry Temple (Daniels). It was believed that he had been killed in the confrontation but he was actually able to escape, and now he's out for revenge. He still wants his money, but now he also wants to play with Jack like a puppet. He blows up one bus and places a bomb on another. Payne contacts Traven personally to taunt him and inform him that if the bus' speed drops below 50 mph it will explode. In his attempts to save the commuters on board, Traven himself actually boards the bus. When the bus driver is accidentally shot; a young female commuter, Annie Porter (Bullock) takes over at the wheel. Together she and Jack work in tandem to try and keep the bus going at all costs until a solution can be found.

There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up.”

What a premise that is! How could you possibly go wrong with such a tantalising concept to work from? I've got no idea, and thankfully it appears that neither did Jan de Bont. A few weeks back I had the misfortune to finally watch the awful Speed 2: Cruise Control. I was so insulted and hurt by it that I knew I just had to go back to the original in an attempt to wipe it from my memory. And thankfully I found this film to still be brilliant. Speed is one of the absolutely definitive entries into the action genre in my eyes, and one of my absolute favourites.

Speed actually has a rather sedate opening. The first two or three minutes is nothing but the camera panning down an elevator shaft, with the credits rolling onto the screen against the grey and repetitive background. After that though the film really does come flying right out of the gate, and is basically just three extended set-pieces smashed together for the next two hours of its running time. It really is just an unending adrenaline rush that barely gives you a single pause for breath. There's a Jason Statham film from a few years back now called Crank. Now I've not actually seen it myself but I am aware of its plot - Statham's character is injected with a poison that will result in his death if his heart dropped below a certain level. To avoid this he must do all he can to maintain a high adrenaline level. So his character takes drugs, gets in fight, commits crimes and has sex in public all in an effort to keep the adrenaline flowing. All he really had to do was sit down, pop a DVD of Speed in and he'd be set!

Film trivia – While Speed may have been the film that really made Sandra Bullock's career, no-one else apparently saw the potential. It seems like the film-makers couldn't give the role of Annie away. Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Kim Basinger, Halle Berry, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Emma Thompson, Rosanna Arquette, Meg Ryan, Ally Sheedy, Maris Tomei and Sarah Jessica Parker are just some of the dozens of actresses who all turned down the role. And thank goodness they did!
Jan de Bont's creative, and at times inventive, direction helps to deliver an absolutely frenzied pace and is responsible for so much of the film's relentless energy. The achievement that he was able to pull of really is highly impressive. Creating a sequence that entails numerous vehicles and activities for just one scene can be a tricky thing to pull off. To manage it for a whole film is pretty damn incredible. A while back I watched the rather great To Live and Die in LA; that featured a fantastic chase sequence helmed by William Friedkin. Here de Bont pretty much takes that and just stretches it out to a whole film. His ability to choreograph so many cars and trucks and create thrilling scenes with them, all while keeping things coherent and not overwhelming the viewer, is quite a feat and he does it with great aplomb. The film also features some immense practical stunt work, with Keanu Reeves performing about 90% of the stunts himself. Doing so just adds such a level of authenticity and danger to proceedings. And the fact that de Bont was able to deliver such endless thrills on a relatively paltry budget of between $25 and $30 million I find to be just staggering.

The film was written by Graham Yost, and going by his script I feel safe in saying that he is one sadistic b**tard!! He just doesn't give these characters a break, piling on one complication after another. I just picture him writing this script and cackling away maniacally to himself as he comes up with each new predicament. “I'll stick people on a bus with a bomb.”, “Oh and then I'll have the driver get shot, leaving no-one qualified to drive the bus.”, “Oh and then there will be heavy LA traffic to deal with of course.”; “Hell let's also put a big chasm in the road they'll have to job over!” Given it's pretty lurid and over-the-top concept you'd be forgiven for not expecting much from the script outself outside of that ludicrous starting point. However it actually proves to be a surprisingly smart and witty script, really mining the premise for every amount of tension and thrills possible. Thought some credit should apparently go to the god of the geeks that is Joss Whedon. He rewrote the script uncredited and according to Graham Yost provided much of the film's dialogue. And Whedon's touch was vital in bringing Reeves on board. He had initially turned down the role as he found the script to be too much of a Die Hard clone. After Whedon re-tooled the script Reeves agreed.to sign on.

The plot and action are king here, leaving the characters to be little more than one dimensional fodder for Yost and de Bont to mess with. Very importantly however they are all very well played by the cast. No-one is ever going to accuse Keanu Reeves of possessing great acting talent but when he's placed in the right role he can be very effective, as seen in the likes of Bill & Ted, The Matrix and here in Speed. He brings a nice sense of authority and swagger to the role, resulting in a certain charisma and charm. And while he may not have much more than standard villain tropes to work with, Dennis Hopper gives a deliciously nasty performance as the maniacal psycho with a grudge. He sneers and barks his way through the film, given the chance to spew out some terrifically colourful dialogue with glee.

Film trivia - I mentioned earlier that the film had a rather paltry budget in terms of action-packed blockbusters and the film did actually run out of money before it was completed. As a result when the first preview screening was held for an audience, the closing subway scenes appeared only in the form of animated storyboards. The audience loved the sequences so much though that the studio immediately came up with the additional funds to shoot the scenes properly.
The star for me however would probably have to be the delightful Sandra Bullock. She is an actress I've always really liked and unless I'm getting mixed up I believe this was the first film where I fell in love with her. I just find her to be immensely likeable in general, and particularly here as the strong and feisty Annie. A real part of the appeal is that she doesn't really inhabit the classic female lead role and love interest. The character comes across as a very natural and realistic character, acting and reacting the way you would really expect someone to. And cursing all the way! Handling both the serious and comedic moments wonderfully, she just brings the heart to the film. Together she and Reeves have a really nice, easy-going chemistry that provides the film with many of its lighter moments and helps to keep the characters from being dwarfed by the larger than life premise.

Speed is just so superior to its sequel in every single way. One such element is in its ability to flesh out the characters that are in peril to a point where we actually like and care about them. In Cruise Control I honestly couldn't care about a single one of them. Here it's achieved thanks to a combination of the writing and the performances of some very capable character actors. You've got the great Alan Ruck as a hapless tourist who provides a lot of laughs and generates a good deal of empathy. Joe Morton is tough and ballsy as Reeves' lieutenant. There are a couple of people who have a really distinct look and lots of character such as Beth Grant (who I feel I've seen in just about every TV show ever) and Hawthorne Jones as Sam the bus driver. And then of course you have the wonderful Jeff Daniels who never fails to entertain in my opinion. Playing Reeves' injured partner he runs Ruck close in terms of laughs generated.

So an excellent film then. All of that said though; when you consider the amount of damage that the bus does to numerous cars, buildings, planes etc wouldn't it just have been cheaper to pay the guy his ransom!

Conclusion - Absolutely fantastic!!! I had actually forgotten just how much I loved this film. It's everything that Speed 2 isn't; it's chock-full of thrills, it's got a lot of humour, it has a degree of intelligence, it features a series of great performances and all in all is just one of the most purely entertaining films I've ever come across. More than that, I actually think this is just an absolutely brilliant film in general!



Good review, JD. If I was still in touch with my old Film Studies tutor, I'd send him this as I repeatedly told him he should watch Speed, while he couldn't think why.



Chappie doesn't like the real world
Sequin porn! I love it. I'm so stealing that from you. That could become very popular amoung my more flamboyant friends. I love Moulin Rouge for the very reasons you list in your conclusion.

Speed is enjoyable as well, but I don't love it.



Leben findet einen weg...
Love Speed. I've noticed there's been some love recently for it. TD99 has recently put it in his Top 100, I recently added it too to mine. I reviewed it a couple weeks ago and now JayDee has made a proper decent review of it too...

Yes, it's a good job Bullock took the role, love her in this movie.

Very not bad JayDee!
__________________
Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.




Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Good review, JD. If I was still in touch with my old Film Studies tutor, I'd send him this as I repeatedly told him he should watch Speed, while he couldn't think why.
Wow did you feel that? Felt like an earthquake as a result of all the MoFos falling off their chairs at the shock of you being in a Film Studies class! "How could he have been in a Film Studies class and still have Charlie's Angels as his third favourite film of all time?!"

^ That's not me talking by the way. I'm just voicing the interal thoughts of all the other MoFos out there who don't appreciate the quality of Charlie's Angels.

Anyway thank you. I'm touched that you think so much of the review you'd use it as an arguement for watching it.

Sequin porn! I love it. I'm so stealing that from you. That could become very popular amoung my more flamboyant friends.
Well have at it then. I gift the term 'sequin porn' to you, as long as I get some credit when you tell your flamboyant friends.

Love Speed. I've noticed there's been some love recently for it. TD99 has recently put it in his Top 100, I recently added it too to mine. I reviewed it a couple weeks ago and now JayDee has made a proper decent review of it too...
Well I included it in my top 100 nearly a couple of years back (though shamefully low) so I'm going to take credit for its renaissance on the forum!

And yeah I saw your poxy attempt at reviewing Speed before I came along and showed you how to do it properly!

^ Sorry mate but you've started a war with your little 'king of reviews' caption!



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Year of release
1996

Directed by
Leon Gast

Featuring
Muhammad Ali
George Foreman
Don King
Norman Mailer
James Brown


When We Were Kings


As a huge Muhammad Ali fan this one already had a lot going for it coming in. And the film is successful on a number of fronts. It works as an examination of why Muhammad Ali is such a famous and beloved figure; showing him as the fascinating, charismatic, poetic and hilarious man that he was. It shows him as the boxer, as the activist, as the political leader and as the out and out entertainer. It also works as a behind the scenes look at one of the biggest, if not the biggest fight of all time - the Rumble in the Jungle battle between Ali and George Foreman, who up to this point had been deemed unstoppable. It's great just to see the build-up and all the hype that went into the event. And the moment where Ali pops off the ropes to put Foreman on the mat has got to be one of the greatest moments in sporting history. The film also provides a political and social view of life in Zaire at the time, but also back at home in America, and how powerfully Ali felt about these issues and the plans he had to try and combat them. The film has a terrific amount of fantastic archive footage, combined with great interviews with the likes of Norman Mailer and George Plimpton, two respected journalists and great storytellers. When We Were Kings also features a pretty cool soundtrack which captures the spirit of the time, featuring artists who performed at the music festival Don King organised as part of the huge event that was going on in Zaire around the fight; the likes of James Brown, B.B. King and the Spinners amongst others. The film is just a great snapshot of both sporting and cultural history.


Wholeheartedly concur that this is a great, great documentary. Still, the greatest moment in boxing history is probably Frazier smoking Ali with that left hook from hell in their first fight.

Frazier was an introvert, no-nonsense person who did his talking in the ring, whereas Ali was very brash, outspoken. Ali had called him 'the other type negro' and even an Uncle Tom in the build-up to their first fight. Frazier could never understand that Ali said those things to build up the fight and took them very personal. He almost went to his grave hating Ali.

Nice quote about this: when Ali was banned from boxing, Frazier met President Nixon and asked to give Ali a license. So Nixon asked him why. Frazier just smiled and said: 'Cause I wanna dust him off'.

And did he ever. Only one man can lay claim to winning the biggest fight in boxing history and it's not the man they call The Greatest.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1990

Directed by
Allan Moyle

Written by
Allan Moyle

Starring
Chrisian Slater
Samantha Mathis
Mimi Kennedy
Annie Ross


Pump Up the Volume

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Plot – Mark Hunter (Slater) has recently been forced to relocate to Arizona from the East Coast. His parents give him a short-wave radio so that he can keep in touch with his old friends. Except that Mark uses it for very different reasons. During the day at school Mark is a shy, reserved student but at night he becomes the anarchic pirate DJ, Happy Harry Hard-on. Things go much further than Mark could ever have imagined however, as his rantings make him a cult hero amongst his fellow students (who have no idea of his true identity) and a poison in the eyes of teachers and parents. When he inspires scenes of chaos at school, and when one of his listeners commits suicide a media frenzy swirls up and the authorities are called in to put a stop to the broadcasts.

Up front I have to admit that I don't believe I had ever heard of this film before signing up to the forum. After discovering that it was a real favourite of a number of members on the site (Honeykid, Sexy Celebrity, Used Future, TylerDurden99 etc) I felt I had to track it down and give it a shot. And I'm glad I did. It proved to be a highly entertaining angst powered teen anthem. To flesh this review out I thought I'd do a little something different. Part of Pump Up the Volume entails Christian Slater's character talking about his life and his problems, and encouraging listeners to do the same by either writing or phoning in. So I thought I'd talk about my teenage years and school days a bit, and try to relate it to the film.

Pump Up the Volume shows that for a whole lot of people their school days were not in fact the 'greatest time of your life' as so many TV shows and films would lead you to believe. And I was certainly one of those people. Truth is I'm kinda f**ked up! I suffer from social phobia and have done for my whole life basically. The place that really precipitated that was certainly at school. Every morning before school I would be in the bathroom feeling sick and every day was just an immense struggle. It got to the point where it was making my whole life miserable, and making me so depressed that I even considered taking the most drastic of actions. I was saved from that when at 14/15 it just got too much and I was advised to stop going to school. From then on I just studied at home with tutors popping in every so often. Was still a very tough time though even after that so I could certainly appreciate the struggles of the students in this film, even if the problems may not have been the same; I departed school before immense peer pressure over drugs and sex etc began to rear its head.

I felt the film was very successful at providing a snapshot of being a teenager, at portraying the highs and lows of teenage life. At that age when something bad happens in your life it's the worst thing ever! I mean it's the absolute end of the world! And yet on the flipside, the things that you love - you really love, and become incredibly important to you. In a lot of the cases the music, the films and the books that you absorb in this time mean more to you than anything else ever will. It's where you formulate who you are and what you like. It also shows how important it is to find that 'voice' that really talks to you at that age. The 'voice' that feels its talking right to you. For these kids it's turning on their radios and listening to Happy Harry Hard-on. For me it was sitting in my room listening to the songs of Nirvana on repeat over and over, listening to Kurt Cobain talk directly to me. Or so it felt at the time. Oh and the film also takes the time to throw in a touch of satire about how the media can whip up a frenzy over a story and blow it all out of proportion. They take the suicide of a student that listened to Harry's show, and instead of examining what was going in his life to drive him to such lengths, they turn it into an attack on Harry and the kids in general, talking about how dangerous they are. It's very easy to see the links to attacks on movies, video games and rap music when some outrage occurs.

Film trivia - Pump up the Volume features a pretty corrupt principal who expels so called 'trouble' students to help the school's grade average. The film's writer/director Allan Moyles based the school, Hubert Humphrey Hugh, on a Montreal high school where his sister used to teach. According to his sister the school had a principal "who had a pact with the staff to enhance the credibility of the school scholastically at the expense of the students who were immigrants or culturally disabled in some way or another."
While I don't imagine I've seen a huge number of his films, Christian Slater is an actor I've always really enjoyed watching. I've always been quite taken by his edgy intensity; and that edgy, spiky demeanour that he appears to naturally possess makes him a perfect fit for the role of Mark 'Hard Harry' Hunter. Indeed in many ways the Hard Harry persona of his character fells rather similar to the role of J.D., the character that Slater memorably portrayed in the wonderful pitch-black comedy, Heathers. Except that here he isn't quite as homicidal! In a way Slater actually plays two characters here; the shy, withdrawn Mark Hunter that barely a single person notices, and then his manic alter ego, Happy Harry Hard-on. His Mark is very one-note, and it doesn't really seem to fit Slater all that well. As Happy Harry however he is fantastic! His on-air performance is fantastically wild, jumping manically from smooth-talking ladies man to a raging revolutionary in the blink of an eye. It really is Slater's intensity and charisma that drives the film. The great power and passion he puts into his dialogue heavy on-air speeches are great fun, and really stirred the anti-establishment anarchist in me!

As Mark's love interest, and the sole person to know the truth about him, Samantha Mathis is alluring as hell as Nora. She really is exceptionally sexy in a dangerous, bad girl kind of way. And as someone who very much identified with Mark's shy, geeky side she was the kind of girl you dreamed of. A girl who was really cool to come along, see you for who you were and bring you out of your shell. Admittedly outside of these two some of the acting may not be up to the highest of standards but it doesn't overly hurt the film for me.

As you would hope, and indeed expect from a film about a pirate DJ, Pump Up the Volume proves to have a pretty awesome soundtrack, featuring the likes of The Pixies, Liquid Jesus, Soundgarden and Sonic Youth. The film also features the excellent “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen as Harry's signature song that he kicks off each broadcast with. It's actually the second great film I've seen which features the song prominently; the other being the ace documentary, The King of Kong.

It would actually make for quite a fun double-bill alongside Class of 1984, which I watched a few weeks back. Both films feature a fairly hellish school but points the finger at different individuals; Class of 1984 painted the kids as scum whereas in Pump up the Volume its the teachers who are the problem.

Conclusion - The film may be a little rough around the edges, and appear a bit dated in our internet age, but it's got an honesty and a sincerity about it that I was drawn to. And at least it's a film that attempts to say something. While I still greatly enjoyed this film, I just wish I had seen it back in my mid to late teens. If I had I think I would have absolutely loved it! It would have been one of those I really considered 'my films'.



Nice review. Thanks for the personal glimpse. I think most people vastly underestimate how our personal experiences inform how we watch and enjoy film.



So pleased to see you enjoyed this, JD. It's a great review and I completely agree with you about Samantha Mathis as Nora. I fell for her completely in this and have done so ever since.

I also think you'd have loved this as I do if you'd seen it then. I think I was 18 or 19 when I saw it for the first time.

Whilst I agree that Class Of '84 would be a good double bill, I think a better one would be Pump Up The Volume and Over The Edge... Which just happens to also be in my top 100.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Just out of interest does anyone even read my reviews?!!!! I just realised that I had somehow replaced Dennis Hopper with Dennis Weaver in my Speed review, and had done so three times! And not a single person noticed!!! Clearly you're all paying a great deal of attention to my musings!



Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.
Pump Up The Volume is brilliant, one of my all-time favourites. Great review, Jaydee!
__________________
"George, this is a little too much for me. Escaped convicts, fugitive sex... I've got a cockfight to focus on."



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1998

Directed by
Martin Campbell

Written by
Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
John Eskow

Starring
Antonio Banderas
Anthony Hopkins
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Stuart Wilson
Matt Letscher


The Mask of Zorro


Plot – In the early 19th century, the people of California are subjugated under Spanish rule led by Don Rafael Montero (Wilson). The people have a hero however in the form of a masked swordsman named Zorro. His true identity of Don Diego de la Vega (Hopkins) is unfortunately discovered and when attempts are made to apprehend him his wife is killed, and his daughter taken and raised as Montero's daughter Eléna (Zeta-Jones). Thrown in prison, de la Vega is left to rot for twenty years. After that period of time Montero returns with plans to bring California under his control. With Montero back de la Vega escapes from his prison intent on revenge. Part of this revenge includes training a new man to take on the Zorro mantle, Alejandro Murrieta (Banderas).

I can't believe how little this film seems to get talked about these days. Back when it was released in 1998 I'm sure I remember it being quite a big deal and being very popular. But it seems to be one of those films that has slipped very quickly from the minds of many people. And as a result I think it's now in 'very under-rated' territory. Perhaps it's a result of Zorro's old school charms being blown away by effects-heavy adventure films that followed in its wake, films such as the The Mummy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Pirates of the Caribbean. Or perhaps the lacklustre 2005 sequel, Legend of Zorro, has to take some of the blame; tainting the original in the minds of viewers. Whatever the reason I think it's real shame, as if the first Pirates of the Caribbean film hadn't come along I think this may well be the best pure adventure film of the last 15-20 years.

Quite often these days when a film is released, during the publicity for it those involved will talk about how they couldn't have made the film even ten years ago; they needed the technology to catch up. The likes of Avatar, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Sin City come to mind amongst others. Well Zorro is the exact opposite of that. This film could easily have been made 70 or 80 years ago and it would have been done so with the exact same techniques. This is just an example of honest too goodness, old-fashioned film-making. Lacking in any CGI, the action and stunts are achieved through practical means, and its locations are made of stone. It really is a film that flies in the face of the old “they don't make 'em like that anymore” adage. Well back in 1998 at least, they did make em like they used to.

Film trivia – The film could have turned out very different from the final version that made it to cinemas. Originally Robert Rodriguez was attached to direct the film, and he had plans for a much more violent, R-rated Zorro. The studio had serious reservations about this approach however and when they tried to reign in the budget to limit the risk Rodrigquez dropped out.
With his natural charisma and swarthy Latin charms Antonio Banderas is a perfect fit as our masked hero, Zorro. He delivers moments of genuine heroism but Banderas has no problem when it comes to not taking himself all that seriously. There's a lot of self-deprecation in his showing and he's not afraid to look the fool. Catherine Zeta-Jones is not greatly taxed by her role. It asks little more of her than to look beautiful and display the type of charms that would entice Banderas' Zorro so. The star turn however undoubtedly arrives in the form of Anthony Hopkins. And in general I'd say it's amongst the best performances you're likely to see in this kind of fare. I'm not saying he should have been nominated for an Oscar or anything but as far as blockbusters go this is a very affecting and nuanced showing. For the majority of the film he wears a mask of class, charm and great wit but beneath lies a great sense of pain and a longing for revenge. The relationship between Hopkins' mentor and Banderas' student is a real highlight of the film; their training sequences and their witty banter providing great fun. I'll admit that the fact there are no actual Mexican actors in the roles of Mexican characters may perhaps be a bit of a troubling issue but it's not one I really feel in a position to comment on so I'll just skirt around it.

The film features some terrifically rousing action, again all achieved through practical means. There are some skilfully orchestrated swordfights which are choreographed with a real sense of fun and creativity. And some impressive stuntwork is able to create some fantastic, rip-roaring action sequences. Some highly impressive sets also provide a magnificent backdrop for these proceedings. The action and indeed everything about the film are captured with some lavish photography, and soundtracked by a suitably heroic and old school score.

As well as being produced in an old-fashioned way, the film's story details some of the oldest emotions around - love and revenge. Perhaps a great deal of effort isn't put into establishing the romance between Zorro and Eléna, but the smouldering looks that the couple share throughout go a long way to selling the romance all by itself. It's also helped along greatly by a couple of very fun and sexy sequences. The first is a terrifically charged and immensely sexy dance scene. And the other is the sword fight the two engage in which became the film's signature moment, as Zorro uses his immense talents to slice Eléna's dress clean off her shoulders. Outside of that, the story's other driving force is the duelling tales of revenge that our two heroes engage in; both very powerful ones at that involving the deaths of loved ones and the theft of a daughter.

Film trivia – Initial plans to make the film kicked off in 1994 and included Sean Connery being cast in the role of Don Diego de la Vega. As time rumbled on Connery eventually dropped out, but even then it took a bit of time before Hopkins signed on. He was initially forced to reject the role because of severe pain he was suffering in his neck. A laser operation brought an end to the problem however and made it possible for Hopkins to accept the role.
There are some flaws with the film however. Neither of the film's villains really deliver the threat necessary I felt. Stuart Wilson and Matt Letscher both put in fine performances actually, but I just feel that up against the larger-than-life Zorro they perhaps required 'bigger' characters to make an impact up against him. And I would say the film is probably 15 or so minutes overlong, bypassing the optimal point at which to conclude the movie to add in an extra ending or two.

I'll admit that I am perhaps being a little bit generous with my rating for the film. These days, after numerous viewings when I was younger, I perhaps don't enjoy it quite that much anymore. But I do still have a lot of love for it from when I was younger and fond memories of it, including going to see it with my mum when we were on holiday back in 1998.

Conclusion – A wonderfully old-fashioned slice of swashbuckling adventure. It's got action, adventure, romance, laughs throughout....what more could you want? A film that really should be held in higher esteem than it currently is in my eyes. Or is it just me?





JayDee, did I inspire you to watch Pump Up The Volume?

I hope you'll put the movie on your list for the Best of the 1990's (the one Harry Lime is collecting, of course). LET'S GET IT ON THERE! PUT IT HIGH ON THERE!

Edit: Nevermind. I see you mentioned my name in the review.

Loved your review of it.