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Scarface (1983) ****

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It's so interesting to see how one views a film at different points in their life or even depending on the mood they're in when they watch it. The last time I watched Scarface(1983) (my review here), I wrote how it didn't feel much like a Brian De Palma film. Now that it's been just shy of eight years since my previous viewing, I couldn't feel more different. Between the camerawork, the editing, the melodrama and the way De Palma takes the gangster picture to almost cartoonish proportions, it very much feels like his work.

Oliver Stone's script takes the very basic idea of Howard Hawk's fantastic original 1932 Scarface, transports the action from Chicago to Miami, switches the ethnicity of the characters from Italian to Cuban immigrants, and changes the means of power from illegal alcohol to cocaine. Stone's dialogue is part of the lexicon of cinema, like it or not. Al Pacino's performance is one of over the top bombast, an approach he's taken w…

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019) ***1/2

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I'm not sure that I needed to find out what happened to Jesse Pinkman after the conclusion of Breaking Bad(2008–2013). And honestly, there is nothing particularly revelatory about El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019). It feels more like two long episodes of the TV series than a film on its own right. But there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing felt out of place since series creator Vince Gilligan wrote and directed the movie himself. The production values are really high, as with the series.

Revisiting these characters was like slipping on a glove—no surprises, just a comfortable feeling. Aaron Paul is certainly excellent. And the film will always carry a certain level of noteworthiness due to it being the last performance by Robert Forster released during his lifetime (I found out about his passing as I was writing this review—R.I.P.). While I can't say that El Camino is necessary, neither does it feel like any kind of a betrayal or a letdown per se. It's just dif…

Predator 2 (1990) ***1/2

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While not the classic that Predator (1987) turned out to be, Predator 2(1990) is a worthy follow-up and a thoroughly enjoyable action/sci-fi flick.

Danny Glover was a bit of an odd choice to square off against the "silent, invisible, invincible, ultimate hunter" but somehow he makes it work in a cast filled with intense/over the top male actors—Gary Busey, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi and Morton Downey Jr. among them. There's definitely an additional level of comedy added that wasn't present in the first film, but it's also a gorier affair, at times dipping deeper into horror movie territory than its predecessor (or Predacessor? Sorry.) did. Stan Winston's alien creation gets some nice updates in costume and weaponry that are put to great use.

Stephen Hopkins was a solid choice to direct Predator 2. While A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, which he directed the previous year, is my least favorite of all the Freddy films (not counting the abysmal 2010 re…

Don't Look Now (1973) ****1/2

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Don’t Look Now (1973) has always felt like more of a thriller and a moving drama to me than a horror film—at least until the last 15 minutes. In that way it’s much like Daphne du Maurier’s (whose 1971 short story serves as the basis of this film) Rebecca (1938), which was also famously adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock. Of course since DLN was directed by Nicolas Roeg, it's a whole different type of experience. Concerning a married couple in Venice following the death of their young daughter, DLN is a film that focuses on the aftermath of the death, the grief that pervades the couple, and two sisters (one clairvoyant) that persist in their lives. 
Roeg's film is noteworthy for many reasons. Among them are its actors' willingness to fully commit to their roles, its unconventional editing style and manipulation of time, combined with a fractured (and at times intentionally glacially paced) narrative, its frank depictions of nudity, including a sex scene between leads Julie…

Shaun Of The Dead (2004) *****

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It's difficult for me to fathom that Shaun Of The Dead(2004) is already fifteen years old. All the jokes and references still land, the dialogue is incredibly quotable and relatable (and the callbacks clever), the editing and story beats still impress, you care in one way or another for all the characters, and the film is ridiculously fun for the entirety of its runtime. SOTD is basically a perfect film, and, along with Re-Animatorand The Return Of The Living Dead(both 1985), is one of the Top 3 zombie comedies ever.

You can find my Edgar Wright Feature Films Ranked list here.

The Shape Of Water (2017) ****1/2

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I wrote on my second viewing of The Shape Of Water (2017)that it is a film that will stand the test of time with its simple yet complex beauty. After a third time through I still hold that sentiment.

TSOW is a beautiful, at times brutal adult fairy taleand a good old fashioned romance (with more nudity), all directed masterfully and impeccably by that modern movie wizard Guillermo del Toro.

Water most closely resembles the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunetin design, tone and even parts of the score by Alexandre Desplat, but there's definitely a bit of a Steven Spielberg/Tim Burton vibe too. All the leads are on point—Sally Hawkinsas the daydreaming headstrong mute, Michael Shannon as the imposing violent force, Richard Jenkinsas the vulnerable relatable loner, Octavia Spencer as the loyal thankless friend, and Doug Jonesas the literal fish out of water, both powerful and tender.

The story certainly follows a formula of sorts and the actors play strong archetypes but it's all filtered…

Addams Family Values (1993) ***1/2 [AF BD Double Feature Pt. 2]

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There's a sizable subset of fans that prefer 1993's Addams Family Values to its 1991 predecessor. As sequels go, it's quite good, but I still prefer the first film overall, even if I settled on awarding the same star rating to both. I'm not actually certain that I had ever seen this sequel in its entirety before. In any event, if I had, as with the first film, I hadn't seen it since the 90s so it was fun to revisit.

Barry Sonnenfeld returned to direct and did basically as good a job as he did with The Addams Family (1991). I don't think Paul Rudnick's screenplay is as good as the first film, relying a bit too much on silly humor that goes for a big laugh rather than a sly smirk (which is more my speed). The cast is excellent once again, given a chance to sink their teeth even further into the characters (Christina Ricci in particular is a delight), though I much prefer Judith Malina as Granny in the first film to Carol Kane—her performance isn't as good…

The Addams Family (1991) ***1/2 [AF BD Double Feature Pt. 1]

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After Tim Burton passed on directing The Addams Family(1991), Barry Sonnenfeld took the assignment as his directing debut. Previously Sonnenfeld had served as cinematographer on a number of great films (including the first three CoenBrothers features). Ironically, TAF had three cinematographers (including, finally, Sonnenfeld himself), due to Owen Roizman quitting and Gale Tattersall being hospitalized.

I hadn't revisited TAF since the 90s. I seem to recall that I saw it in its original theatrical run, but I I'm not 100% sure (you start to forget things that happened almost 30 years ago when you get older). I've seen some of creator Charles Addams' original cartoons and I've seen episodes of the The Addams Family(1964–1966) TV series, but I am no aficionado, by any means. However, as a film based on these characters, standing on its own merits, I find it really enjoyable—full of light-hearted gruesome fun.

The cast is pitch perfect—Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Chr…

The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires (1974) ***1/2

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For 1974's The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires, legendary production company Hammer (best known for its Gothic horror output) joined forces with the legendary Shaw Brothers studio (best know for its kung fu output) to release an action-packed horror/martial arts mashup. It was the ninth and final film in Hammer's Dracula series, and the only one in that series where an actor other than Christopher Lee played the Count (apparently he declined the role after reading the script)—here played by John Forbes-Robertson.

Peter Cushing stars as Van Helsing (his fifth and final appearance in the role for Hammer), who, along with his dandy son Leyland (played by Robin Stewart) and a wealthy widow (Julie Ege)—an emancipated, sexually empowered woman (though she's useless in battle)—embark on a journey lead by one of his students (David Chiang) and his many brothers and sister (all masters of one weapon or another) to kick some serious vampire/zombie butt.

The f/x are cheap and dated w…

Chromatics "Closer To Grey" (2019) ****

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Chromatics fans were expecting their next album to be the much anticipated (and delayed) Dear Tommy, but instead the band has surprised everyone by dropping an entirely different album, Closer To Grey (2019)—their first in 7 years. The Roman numeral on the cover states that CTG is their 7th LP, and the band's label lists Dear Tommy as their 6th, even though it's yet to be released. Regardless, Chromatics' first full-length studio album since 2012's Kill For Loveis love at first listen.

In a similar move to KFL's opening Neil Young cover song ("Into The Black"), CTG opens with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence". Much like that Neil Young track, it's not a song I would have pictured Chromatics covering but when you hear it makes perfect sense. Chromatics are a band that can translate their stripped down sound to almost any cover and make it work. There's also another cover, of The Jesus And Mary Chain's "…