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Showing posts from March, 2011

Minority Report (2002) ***1/2

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Gomorrah (2008) ***1/2 [CC Night #4]

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Gomorrah (2008) is recommended if you enjoy watching teenage boys in their underwear firing machine guns in marshlands, various actors that slightly resemble Stanley Tucci and/or toxic waste.

The Beyond (1981) ***1/2

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Gangs Of New York (2002) ***

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I saw Gangs Of New York (2002) three times during its original theatrical run. Three times. I can't say that about many films. I can think of a few films that I've seen twice in the theater - Eyes Wide Shut (1999), There Will Be Blood (2007) (another fantastic DDL starrer), Sin City(2005), Batman Begins (2005) all spring to mind - but not three.

Daniel Day Lewis' performance is still the best part of this film. I used to think the weakest part of this film was the casting of Cameron Diaz. Upon this, I believe my sixth (!) viewing of this film, she doesn't bother me so much. But the film as a whole just doesn't grab me like it used to.

9 years ago I probably would have given GONY four stars. It still earns its three, but doesn't quite deserve another 1/2 star. There's much to appreciate here, but Marty has made many masterpieces and this isn't one of them.

Ocean's Thirteen (2007) ***1/2

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Ocean's Thirteen(2007) is my least favorite of the trilogy. Still a fun "romp". Pacino &Barkinwere inspired additions and featuring a typical snazzy score from Holmes.

Ocean's Twelve (2004) ****

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I'm in the minority here, but Ocean's Twelve (2004) is my favorite of the trilogy. I don't know why most people hate this one. I think it's more fun than the first film. Couple of good cameos. Best score/soundtrack of the three films. Plus, how can you beat the inclusion of the dashingly charming Vincent Cassel and the absurdly beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones?

Phenomena (1985) ***

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Argento's output was still consistently a good at this point, but Phenomena (1985) is nowhere near as good as Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977) or Inferno(1980). I'd say that even Tenebre (1982) has more replay value for me. But Phenomenahas some great moments.

Starring a virtually unknown Jennifer Connelly, a somewhat typecast but appropriate Donald Pleasence and lots of insects, Phenomenahas a fantastic score/soundtrack (2/3 ethereal & 1/3 heavy metal), a few superb kills, and overall is enjoyable. Some of the dialogue is pretty bad, but that's standard fare for an Argento film.

The Blu-ray from UK company Arrow is typical - a beautiful package featuring exclusive special features, 4-panel reversible cover art, a slip cover, booklet and 2-sided poster, but a less than stellar transfer.

Ocean's Eleven (2001) ****

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Ocean's Eleven(2001) is fun and entertaining with a great cast, dialogue, director and score/soundtrack. What more can you ask for in this type of film?

P.S. - I've yet to see the original.

Nina Simone "Nina Simone Sings The Blues" (1967)

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This is a blues album. And I love that most of the songs don't necessarily rely on the "standard blues guitar riff".

"Do I Move You?" has more swagger than most musicians would know what to do with. "My Man's Gone Now" (from the Gershwin opera Porgy & Bess), somewhat of a jazz/blues hybrid, has so much effortless heart and soul that it puts so many saccharine, forced, wannabe "blues" songs to shame. "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" (based on a Bessie Smith tune) is the perfect song for sitting in the shade on a hot lazy summer day. "Since I Fell For You" is sexy, languid and sublime. The sped-up version of the folk standard "The House Of The Rising Sun" peps up the album a bit.

I can never get enough Nina.

*Thanks to Iris for encouraging me to buy After Hours(1995), thus beginning my love for Simone.

Let Me In (2010) ***

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Let Me In(2010) really is a competent and well made remake/revision/whatever. Necessary? Not entirely. The original film is hard to beat. But I'd rather see Matt Reeves make films like this than Cloverfield (2008).

The bad CGI cat attack scene from Let The Right One In (2008) was wisely ditched. The leads aren't as weird and creepy, which gives this film a different feel. Elias Koteas is an underused actor so I'm always happy to see him in a film. The car crash scene was really cool.

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly - Extended Cut (1966) ****

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I know that The Good, The Bad And The Ugly(1966) is widely regarded as the best of "The Dollars Trilogy" and should be my favorite, but it's not. That honor goes to For A Few Dollars More(1965). Don't get me wrong, I think TGTB&TU is an excellent film, features some of the best moments of the series (particularly the final standoff) and deserves all the praise it gets, but it just doesn't hit me the same way the second film does.

One of my favorites things about this series are Eastwood's mannerisms, which he maintains throughout all three films, all centering around his signature cigars - the chomp, slight roll and spitting out little bits (not that I endorse smoking).

Lee Van Cleef is great as the baddie "Angel Eyes", but I still enjoy his character ("Mortimer") fromFAFDM more. Eli Wallach is an obvious scene stealer as "Tuco" and really helps make the film work. Which brings us to Eastwood, who I feel is relegated to the b…

Mon Oncle (1958) *** [CC Night #3]

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Mon Oncle(1958) is my firstTati film. Entertaining, but nothing mind-blowing.
"Smells like cinema." - Ryan Grudinski (via Pop Corn)

For A Few Dollars More (1965) ****1/2

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For A Few Dollars More(1965) has always been my favorite of the "Dollars Trilogy". I love this film. Everything about it improved on the original - the score, the shots, the characters, the plot.

Morricone's "pocket watch" theme is sublime; the music is what creates the tension throughout the film. The addition of Lee Van Cleef's "Mortimer" opposite Eastwood's character ("Manco" in this second outing) was a brilliant move and is pure cinema gold. Gian Maria Volonté plays the brooding, scheming, and at times lazy maniac"El Indio" to perfection.

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) was almost completely devoid of the famed "Leone close-up", but that changed with this film - here the close-ups, combined with the score and sound effects create iconic celluloid moments.

Bambi (1942) ***1/2

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The titular character in Bambi(1942) is actually my least favorite, but the animation is gorgeous, Thumper is the best, and even with all this film's sappiness, it never panders the way all Disney films seem to have since Beauty And The Beast (1991) (and it doesn't feature any of the wretched pop songs that have plagued all Disney films since then).

A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) ****

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A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) is another western based on a Kurosawa film (in this case Yojimbo (1961)), itself influenced by westerns (John Ford in particular). This one is great, but can't top the source. Sergio Leone made a bang with his second film, but would certainly hone and improve his style across his remaining five films (not including films for which he did not receive a directing credit).

This is also the film that propelled Ennio Morricone into the spotlight as an in-demand composer of Italian films (particularly the yet to be dubbed "Spaghetti Western", which this film, for better or worse, helped launch). His score is unique, memorable and perfectly compliments Leone's style.

The first film in the "Dollars Trilogy" (I prefer to refer to the films this way, as opposed to the 'Man With No Name Trilogy', as Eastwood's character is called "Joe" here) is my least favorite, but is thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.

Music

Music is the only thing in my life that never lets me down.
People (including myself) are unreliable, blinded by emotions and such.
But by channeling those emotions through song (music and lyrics), something is created that can only be tainted by people (including the original artist).
By this I mean - people can overplay a song or change their opinion of it, if they become jaded or their viewpoints change.
But the true intention and expression of the song never changes, the same as a picture or film remains as it was when it was made, ingrained (until directors and musicians decide to go meddling with their previous work).
And a song remains (either in recorded fashion or performed by other artists) even after the original songwriter has died.

I really think I'd lose my mind without music.