Quick Reviews: A Bunch of Them

The following will be the equivalent to my mini reviews you can sometimes find on Twitter. I have a lot of catching up to do as I’ve seen quite a few movie in the past month or so.

Going from the first I saw to the most recent:

Blade Runner (1982): Visually stunning with an outstanding noir feel. I absolutely love the world Scott created and Rutger Hauer is as good as been stated many times before. His final lines are stuff of legend. Sad that Harrison Ford phoned in the narration, but do agree that it’s not really needed even if it adds to the noir element. The theatrical version makes me want to check out the director’s cut.

The Thing (1982): What an awesome movie. Great claustrophobic/isolated feel, never quite knowing which of the group has been “replaced.” Loved the chemistry between all the characters. The creature effects are superb and comes from a severely creative mind. It’s John Carpenter, what else would you expect? Also, from the “Duh” files: Kurt Russell is the man.

High Noon (1952): One of the best westerns ever. Gary Cooper is nothing short of excellent as a sheriff who’s code of ethics forces him to stand up, alone if necessary, to a bunch of outlaws. Most shocking part? He might have to leave his brand new wife to do so. Why is that so shocking? The wife is played by GRACE KELLY. That’s some code of ethics. A must see.

The Iron Giant (1999): If you’re a fan of E.T., you’ll love this, too. Heartfelt and humorous with wonderful animation. Brad Bird’s movies are always great and this is at least, and in some cases BETTER, than his PIXAR efforts that would be coming in the following decade.

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920): One of the original horror films. Not overly scary, but definitely creepy (large thanks to the score in the specific version I saw on netflix). Interesting that a lot of the plot elements that are found in modern horror movies are found all the way back in this one. Sadly, not overly great, but still, it’s one of the first.

The Third Man (1949): Surprisingly slow until Orson Welles shows up (though that might be because I was waiting for him to finally arrive). However, once he does enter the scene, it is on. Love his cuckoo clock speech and the final chase is simply great. Perhaps not as good as advertised, overall, but a damn fine film still.

The Millionairess (1960): A poor effort considering the stars of the vehicle (Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers respectfully). Dull and just not very funny. But damn does Loren look fantastic the entire time. Shocking, right?

My Man Godfrey (1936): This, on the other hand, was rather funny. William Powell is charming as can be, Carole Lombard is great as expected. Add that to a humorous supporting cast (who Powell plays off of every single one of them perfectly, especially Gail Patrick), you have an entertaining and witty comedy.

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944): A very good screwball comedy. Cary Grant does play it over the top (in a performance he would call his worst), but his facial reactions are the best part of the film. Grant had, arguably, the best “wtf??” face in the history of Hollywood and he puts it to great use here. Another one that wasn’t quite as good as I heard it was, it’s still pretty damn funny.

Do The Right Thing (1989): A very powerful film that needs to be seen. There are some parts that could have been cut (most notably the ice scene. C’mon, Spike…), but once the wheels are set in motion for the climax, it becomes one of those movies that need to be seen and talked about. The before mentioned climax is one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have seen in a long time.

Machete (2010): An outrageous movie filled with implausible elements…and I loved it. Over the top death scenes, crazy guns, hot chicks, what more can we ask for? It’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a great time watching it nonetheless. Plus it has the best line of 2010. If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what it is.

The Lost World (1925): Some iconic dinosaur scenes aside (and some great stop-motion animation I’m a sucker for), this was an overall uninteresting film unfortunately.

Platoon (1986): A film that’s as relevant today as it was in 1986. Interesting to see two extreme views of war at play against one another inside the company. This movie shows the brutality of war (both mentally and physically) without the patriotic bombast that follows other movies on the subject. Oliver Stone did direct this, after all. A must see war film.

8 1/2 (1963): Beyond underwhelming. Chalk it up to another case of hearing so much about it before finally see it. I wanted to like it, but sadly did not. Dull. There is some good things going on (specifically the cinematography), but not enough to keep my interest.  I should give it another chance in the future, but that won’t happen for a while.

Les Diaboliques (1955): A bit slow, but interesting crime movie in which you wonder if the leads will get away with it. I love those type of movies. It does slowly turn into a psychological thriller that someone like Edgar Allen Poe would have quite enjoyed. I assume. The ending is great.

Yip Man (2008): While it’s a big bit of propaganda about the martial artist who would later on train the likes of Bruce Lee, it’s still an entertaining romp as far as martial arts movies go. There are some great fight sequences throughout the entire thing. Donnie Yen is a bad dude that holds up to the mythological figure that the titular man has become.

The Naked City (1948): A very good (and funny, I might add) noir movie. Barry Fitzgerald is perfect in the lead role as the veteran cop trying to solve the case while teaching the new guy some of the tricks he’s learned along the way. His performance is what I took away the most from the film.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942): Another bit of propaganda made soon after the tragic death of Yankee great Lou Gehrig. Gary Cooper is great as the lead, however. His rendition of Gehrig’s farewell speech tugs at the heartstrings a bit. I’m a bit of a sucker for baseball movies in general and this one is solid in the end. Plus it has the very lovely Teresa Wright as the love interest. Can’t go wrong with that.

Au revoir les enfants (1987): Now, if you want to really get your heartstrings tugged on, watch this film. To say anything about the plot would be giving too much away. Extremely powerful and well made. Very good turns by the two leads which I mention being that they’re kids. Brutal ending. Just brutal. Another must see.

Onibaba (1964): A very slow bit of psychological horror. This will be another one I will need to revisit in the future at some point as I didn’t overly care for it this time around. The score is great and, man, is that mask scary. Yikes.

Harvey (1950): This was an extremely enjoyable experience. Quite funny and Jimmy Stewart is as charming as ever. Not a lot of guffaw moments, but it’s full of chuckles. If you’re anything like me, this is one of those movies you watch with a smile on your face.  A good one.

Sucker Punch (2011): Oye. I’m a fan of Snyder’s work, but this just completely missed the mark with me. There are a lot of issues going on throughout, but most notably for me would be the fact that the action sequences (which are pretty awesome) work better as stand alone stories. I would assume that’s how this all started and the creative crew needed somehow to tie them all together. It didn’t work. I did enjoy Emily Browning overall, though.

To Be Or Not To Be (1942): I didn’t find this comedy to be very funny. Carole Lombard is good, but Jack Benny lost me. I don’t know what it was really, it just didn’t register with me.

Ghost in the Shell (1995): Some cool animated sci-fi that would very much serve as the blueprint of The Matrix. There are some rather blatant ripoffs one will see while watching this one. Sorry, “tributes.” A bit more philosophical as this one explores what it means to be alive…not that this is the first to do so or anything.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926): Based on “The Arabian Nights,” this is one of the first feature length animated movies ever. Technically fascinating and the animation is extremely interesting. If only it was entertaining…

Mary and Max (2009): Based on a true story, this features some cool claymation that I love. Pretty funny, albeit very juvenile at moments, this is animation geared toward adults and tells a rather mature story (previously mentioned moments aside). Not bad, not great.

The War Game (1965): A short British documentary/film that takes a scientific look at the possible results of nuclear war. The results are scary to say the least. An interesting bit is the filmmakers asking real people questions about various issues concerning the subject matter and it’s alarming just how little the public was aware of. At least they were beyond the duck and cover method at this point.

Destry Rides Again (1939): A rather funny Western about the seemingly naive son of a famous sheriff who’s brought into a rough town to help bring law and order. Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich are gold together. Very much liked this one.

Winchester ’73 (1950): A very different from Jimmy Stewart, this one follows a Winchester ’73 (“the gun that won the west) along with the bloodshed and violence that it causes. It’s quite interesting in that regard, so much that it’s almost sad that it this is going on as the backdrop of your basic revenge story…even if it’s a pretty good story in the end.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009): Because sometimes you just want to see lots and lots of things blow up. This one bordered on being “Transformers good,” meaning it’s a crap movie but I loved it anyway. This one doesn’t quite get there. It’s over the top and cheesy (not a bad thing in this case) and delivers explosions in spades. Unfortunately, Channing Tatum is just awful. How bad must you be for me to notice it in a movie that’s just a series of explosions? Still, more good, Snake Eyes is badass.

The Illusionist (2010): A wonderful hand animated movie. Many funny elements to it, but still an underlying sadness throughout the entire thing. It’s major theme is what does one do when their trade becomes outdated? Some of the answers given are tragic indeed. While it’s a French film, there’s very in French. Indeed, there’s very few actual words spoken at all (think WALL-E).

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010): I don’t really know where to begin with this one. I can say that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Jake Gyllenhaal works better as an action guy much better than I thought he would and there’s some good action to be found here. That said, it’s still an overlong mess (albeit an inoffensive one) that’s trying too hard to be the Pirates franchise. Not that this is surprising considering who produced this. Sad use of Ben Kingsley. But hey, Gemma Arterton is lovely, isn’t she?

The Man From Earth (2007): Some interesting sci-fi here. The basic concept is this: what if a caveman lived until modern times? What would he be like? What things would he have seen? What would he know? This is more of a cerebral movie (given that the entire thing is discussed in a room by a group of professors rather than shown…low budget and all). I do think the most intriguing aspect is the idea that the truth is always much different and much simpler than what the history books tell us. This is a good one if this is your cup of tea.

Never Let Me Go (2010): Another more cerebral movie that looks at the ethics of certain scientific endeavors. There seemed to be “either you love it or hate it” thing going on with this one, but I just liked it. Cast are all very good and it’s an interesting concept with the obvious ending you see coming a mile away.

Faster (2010): Another “better than I thought it would be” movie. This is a very old school revenge flick. The main character is much more like a force of nature than an actual human being (think Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter). Some good action. Decent at best overall, not at all terrible. I like Dwayne Johnson, so sue me.

The Graduate (1967): Love this one. Lots of humor going on in this, but it’s still a movie about the loss of innocence. In that regard, it’s a very tragic story in the end. Love last parts which were spoofed in Wayne’s World 2, but the original is so much better…and I’m not sure why you spoof something that’s already pretty damn funny to begin with. Love the last shot. It fits the movie perfectly, even if it wasn’t originally intended to be filmed that way.

Dead Alive (1992): Oh, Peter Jackson, who much do you rock. A spoof of zombie flicks that’s so disgustingly gory that it’s hilarious. It helps that this was the point, of course. There’s so many great moments and it’s actually laugh out loud funny. C’mon, a kung fu knowing clergyman? Killing zombies with a lawnmower? Just great stuff.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948): This one was actually as good as advertised. I know, right? Although it kinda hits the theme over your head a bit (what gold/greed does to a man’s soul), it’s still a great movie. Bogey is one of the best ever…he said stating the obvious.

Friendly Persuation (1956): While it does have some humor, this was one boring movie. I just kept going…and going…and going…Gary Cooper is very good once again, but that’s about it.

Unstoppable (2010): Surprisingly little tension in the movie. I never felt like there was actually any danger at all. Still, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine had a good rapport with one another, which ultimately saves the movie. Pretty exciting final sequence. Rosario Dawson is always welcome.

The Sting (1973): A bit long, but this is still a great and very funny con movie. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are great as one would expect them to be. Loved the twist and turns, never knowing who’s in on it or who may/may not be betraying someone else. The actual con is really well done.

Whew, there we go. We’re all caught up. That will teach me to take a month off!

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