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What would you do if you could change the past?

Posted : 7 years, 12 months ago on 30 May 2010 04:36 (A review of Frequency)

''You gotta be more careful, cause I can't lose you again. Not like that.''

An accidental cross-time radio link connects father and son across 30 years. The son tries to save his father's life, but then must fix the consequences.

Dennis Quaid: Frank Sullivan

James Caviezel: John Sullivan

Gregory Hoblit directs a thrilling time travel puzzler in what could be one of the surprises and under-rated hits in film from 2000.
Frequency tunes into a tried and tested formula, utilizing storytelling mixed with twists, equalling roller coaster entertainment using suspense and excitement.
Toby Emmerich whom was behind the writing succeeds in delivering a compelling tale along with Hoblit's humble dosage of directing and bringing everything together in the film's making.

My love for the film extends a hand and eye due to the time travel element and the fact Frequency opens up possibilities regarding changing events and memories through cause and effect.
The cast doesn't hinder the experience yet elevates the professional gloss of quality which hovers elegantly over the proceedings, reminiscent to the Aurora Borealis painted upon the sky above the town.
Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel play father and son, Frank Sullivan and John Sullivan, they play the parts so well you nearly shed a tear for them a few times due to the emotional scenes they end up owning. Exceptional performances help the story reach a peak perhaps untouchable to anything outside it's walls.
We have Shawn Doyle playing the cop Jack Shepard, whom is a serial killer villain who gets another chance to fulfil his killing spree. Just a thought, Jack Shepard was a character from Lost yet is it coincidence he appears in another carnation in 2000? What's more mysterious is the fact another member from the series is present.
Yes, Elizabeth Mitchell as Julia 'Jules' Sullivan, is the character which connects the time travel series again. The character Julia is a formula abiding cross junction for certain plot contrivances, in which twists happen prior to present factors.
Andre Braugher(The Mist), Noah Emmerich, and Melissa Errico also make fine additions to the casting, in turn giving support and fine brush strokes to the story with graceful acting and poise.

''We all have skeletons in the closet, we just don't know when they're gonna pop up and bite us in the ass. Huh, Jack? You changed your MO, 'cause if they knew your mother was the Nightingale, they would have looked at the family. They would have looked at you.''

What's also compelling about Frequency is the music by Michael Kamen combining simple cinematography by Alar Kivilo, causing a rather sensuous effect deserving praise and attention in equal measures.
Frequency is a straight forward story yet not a straight forward story. The film and story is something of a paradox regarding changing time, bordering upon the questions relating to parallel time-lines and dimensions.
So why such a high rating from me? Well, Frequency always leaves me satisfied and pondering, while gives audiences something to debate about. The whimsical way it sets about achieving it's goal isn't one of self glorification but one where love and family feature as top priorities, and where helping an individual, even an unknown stranger can set about a negative ripple.
The rain and beauty are captured well, the relationship regarding friends and family is achieved, while the bad guy of a story can sometimes be a cop.

It plays out very much like a thriller but with a Sci-Fi edge sharpened upon it's tip. Frequency illuminates itself and the audiences it captivates with an endearing boldness and daring, a creative writing and combination of genres coming together for the best possible results.
Frequency isn't the best film in the World,nor is it one garnering numerous Awards, yet it is a film which entertains and causes debate, it has an addictive streak which keeps audiences coming back for seconds, if not thirds.
This is definitely a little surprise from 2000 and one which deserves to be watched and enjoyed.

''I want you to remember this word, okay? It's kind of like a code word: Yahoo. Can you remember that?''

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Ever feel like you're living in an airport?

Posted : 7 years, 12 months ago on 29 May 2010 10:42 (A review of The Terminal (2004))

''Ever feel like you're living in an airport?''

An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there.

Tom Hanks: Viktor Navorski

One of the wonders of Steven Spielberg is that he can take a story, in this case written by Andrew Niccol and Sacha Gervasi. Combined with a wittily conceived Screenplay from Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson, inspired by a true story, and set in a unique place with whimsical circumstances, surrounding a likeable character. Spielberg gives us his offering for 2004; The simple yet sweet The Terminal with Tom Hanks reprising an isolated role not seen since Zemeckis's Cast Away in 2000. The Terminal is distantly similar and loveable in it's own right courtesy movie magic provided by Steven Spielberg.

The Terminal boasts a talented yet humbling array of characters thanks to it's clever casting and aspiring choices.
Tom Hanks plays the protagonist and hero Viktor Navorski, a man from Krakozhia, a country with war brewing and newly acquired social problems, yet thanks to unlucky circumstances Viktor becomes trapped at a terminal as he tries to enter New York for a personal venture concerning a family motive.
Thus he meets an assemble of characters as what turns into a simple waiting procedure becomes a sixth month slog stuck in isolation...
Stanley Tucci plays the newly promoted dick Commissioner Frank Dixon, the guy whom audiences love to hate, and Tucci pulls it off effortlessly. Sometimes following the rules isn't the way you help people, or make friends.
Catherine Zeta-Jones also appears to give us a love interest for Hanks, yet what turns out to be a potential love proves to be a 39 year old gorgeous woman with no brain regarding the right man for her. She waits for a married man to come to her in a deluded sense, something which isn't going to happen. Quite honestly and many may agree, Victor is just too good for her. Amelia Warren whom Zeta-Jones plays is a character who has a choice but fails to make the right one, which is sad in it's own personal way.
Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kumar Pallana...All prove to be invaluable cast additions and really provide the support Hanks needs. Tom Hanks doesn't necessarily need support but his character in his lonely sort of prison does. Viktor, is a man whom is friendly, skilful, and invaluable in terms of honesty and being resolutely good. He is inspiring and that is what everyone is drawn to as they realise his predicament.

''Eat to bite... bite to eat, bite to eat, bite to eat, bitetoeat bitetoeat bitetoeatbitetoeatbitetoeatbitetoeat...''

The Terminal sometimes feels like John Williams, behind most Spielberg projects, has been watching Chocolat all day. It's quirky and addictive in it's own simple way, where people skip and re-choice in it's gentle melody.
In fact it has a sort of Jewish aura surrounding it's vibrant conception which helps warm audiences and indeed warm their hearts with joyful vibrance.
Another aspect The Terminal overjoys us film-lovers with and indeed shows Spielberg's homages in little offerings, is the references he makes to other classic cult films and TV series. When you see a swordfish prop hanging up in Mulray's office, Spielberg is making a sly nod towards Polanski's Chinatown. Saldana's INS agent is a "trekkie", and claims to go to conventions dressed as Yeoman Rand, which ironically later she appears in the reboot Star Trek. Friends, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone also get brief nods.

Overall, The Terminal is a loving story portraying a man's struggle towards something so simple. His right to visit a place and fulfil a father's last wish and promise concerning a signature and a certain Jazz player.
It's wonderful to watch a film which shows humanity and creative shining through rather than stereotypical meanderings. Nothing portrayed is squandered, some scenes, focus upon humour while others border on serious but for never too long. This is a realistic film yet it's also a feel good venture for audiences and us to warm to.
In fact, The Terminal is one you can watch upon numerous occasions and never tire from it's straight forward story and glimmering message regarding hope. The meticulous constraint and relentless parody of a man never losing sight of overcoming another man whom is out of touch with anything outside the rulebook. Human nature, numbers, paper-work, and moral obligations do not always mix. In fact slight echoes of our World becoming reminiscent of Gilliam's Brazil come to mind, obviously not in an extreme sense but one where paper becomes more important than the individual.

The Terminal may not be Spielberg's best, or Tom Hanks best although he does a very convincing accent, but it sure is a worth-while watch that will keep you enthralled start till finish, with characters whom are memorable and lovable in equal measures.

''I am going home.''

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Very few escape my grasp.

Posted : 7 years, 12 months ago on 28 May 2010 08:14 (A review of Heavy Metal (1981))

''Even when someone has the strength to discard me, my power is not diminished...Someone always finds me.''

A glowing orb terrorizes a young girl with a collection of stories of dark fantasy, eroticism and horror.

John Candy: (Voice)

Heavy Metal is a boldly created animated film, upon its release in 1981, it featured daring content. Unlike most animated films at the time, Heavy Metal combined heavy metal music, blood-n-guts and nudity in an animated feature. The result was a somewhat daring film. While adult animation had been done before, Heavy Metal took the ball game alot further.

Based on the magazine of the same name, Heavy Metal results in being an anthology. It has six different segments, all threaded together with a singular plot. A green orb from a dimension named Loc-Nar tells the stories in which it had a part.
The first of these stories, Harry Canyon, is an original story not from the magazine. However, it does draw inspiration from some other stories featured in the adapted content. The Harry Canyon segment is well-told and has a touch of detective intuition layered with futurism. The portrayal of New York in 2031 was rather grim yet necessary.
Den, based on Richard Corben's character, is the story of a 14-year-old kid who becomes a muscular man in a place called Neverwhere, due to an experiment he conducted one night. This segment was pure fantasy, with fight scenes and fantastic artwork throughout. In this story, the Loc-Nar is worshipped.
Captain Sternn is a superlative comedic segment in the film. Captain Sternn's pleads "not guilty" during his trial. His angle, Hanover Fiste, is there to praise him, as he will be paid to do this. However, with the Loc-Nar in his hands, he begins to reveal the truth about Sternn and becomes a giant and chases Sternn throughout the space station.

''I'm just scared I'll come home one day and find you screwing the toaster.''

B-17 is my favourite segment in the film, based on the story by Dan O'Bannon. During WWII, the Loc-Nar hunts down a severely damaged B-17 bomber and turns the dead crew into zombies. This sequence truly borders upon the psychological horror, and unlike most of today's horror films, it gets to the point and ends in a twisting, enigmatic conclusion.
So Beautiful, So Dangerous is not a strong segment story-wise, but it's one of the funniest segments in the film. Some of the best songs on the soundtrack are listed upon this part, and the animation is very colourful and detailed here. The two stoner aliens are essential comedic elemtsts for the middle of a multi-storied film.
The film concludes with the last story, the epic Taarna segment, an original story that is somewhat lengthy in it's ominous structure. With its epic fight scenes, amazing backgrounds and its grand scope, Taarna is a great finale and an epic closing point to wrap up the whole affair.

Heavy Metal has nearly twenty different songs from many different artists, ranging from Black Sabbath to Sammy Hagar to even bands like Grand Funk Railroad and Journey. It's a very diverse mix and the songs on here are all very good. Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules" goes great with the barbarians' invasion of the peaceful village in Taarna, and Don Felder's Heavy Metal(Takin' A Ride)" makes the beginning of the B-17 segment pure excitement.
The weakness of Heavy Metal has to be the animation, although having some great effects (particularly on the Taarna segment), some of the character animation is disappointing. There was a lot of roto-scoping used in the film, which makes me wonder why character development lacks subtlety in their creation? Perhaps the makers rushed some parts as opposed to others.

Aside from a few flaws in the animation and then at times lurid, erotic obsessed story, beside all that, Heavy Metal is still an enjoyable experience. Even though some critics look back on it and called it dated and juvenile, it doesn't seem to effect the quality, art and fun it still instils. Some say it hasn't aged well, and it's true to a certain degree. It is juvenile, yes, and drenched with nudity, big breasted women worshipped as sexual lionesses, and there is a geeky animosity residing over the whole affair.
However, Heavy Metal did show what the animation medium was capable of doing. This film proves that animation can do anything. It also shows it can be adult and redefine storytelling.

''...Very few escape my grasp...''

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Beyond your wildest imagination...

Posted : 7 years, 12 months ago on 28 May 2010 04:05 (A review of Willow)

''Magic is the bloodstream of the universe. Forget all you know, or think you know. All that you require is your intuition.''

Willow, a small farmer/apprentice magician, meets Madmartigan, a great swordsman, and together they journey through a war-torn land of magic and monsters, to save a baby princess from death at the hands of an evil queen.

Val Kilmer: Madmartigan

If you want a film which invokes memories of childhood, the late 80s, and magical fantastical escapism on a personal level, then Willow is one I remember quite easily. Ron Howard directs a piece which takes lengths in equal measure to charm and tantalise in a way that's special, yet blends a story by George Lucas with a charismatic Screenplay from Bob Dolman. The script and characters speak for themselves, with all that Willow equals, the charm and likeability lies with imaginative material.

Willow may be the loveliest film to ever be conceived by Director Ron Howard, because it has characters and creatures we can all relate to and love, even on the hundredth viewing.
The cast which was assembled were pretty fresh and unknown back in 1988, Willow equals memorable characters galore thanks to some iconic ways it divulges.
Who can forget a young unknown Val Kilmer as Madmartigan? The loveable warrior hero whom falls for Joanne Whalley's beautiful yet conflicted Sorsha, daughter of the evil Queen. Warwick Davis as Willow Ufgood plays the unlikeliest of heroes, in a decade pre-ring era, putting Warwick first for playing some varied characters, Willow joins the ranks. Jean Marsh playing the main villain excels as Queen Bavmorda, whom actually makes evil look so good. She embodies the part thus being a character whom you
love to hate.
Kevin Pollak and Rick Overton add humour and comedy with the duo, Rool and Franjean.

''I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived. Say, um, can I have some of that water?''

The magical quality Willow exudes doesn't just come from it's wondrous characters, magical creatures, fantasy bonified locations...But also from it's score and music from James Horner. The music and sounds compliment the Cinematography by Adrian Biddle in everyway. It's pragmatically awesome and magnificent reminiscent of a marriage and union between lovers.
Filmed in UK, Wales, and New Zealand it makes the most of showing beauty in it's humble little way. When we have a chase scene we feel the vibe and excitement through the turbulent music and luscious environments used.
In fact, Willow makes you feel the romance, when Sorsha and Madmartigan share a flicker of love, it doesn't just melt their hearts, it melts ours too.
When Willow is sliding down a snowy mountain, we are exhilarated, similarly to the fight involving a monster birthed from a watery moat.

Overall, Willow may not be regarded as a perfect story or film but it's simplicity and fun nature regarding escapism, seems perfect to me.
Nature, fantasy and a simple story of good and evil is all that is needed to be known prior to watching Willow. Over-complicating a mirrored parody isn't always a case for prioritising necessity, when in fact the magic comes truly from the experience and enjoyment the adventure brings with it's magical journey, it's romantic entanglement, and fantastical nature.
A true must for imaginative fantasy fans whom love escapism and art brought to life, in their films. Willow satisfies fans and garners new ones whom experience it's simple magic.

''All creatures of good heart need your help, Willow. The choice is yours.''

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Free your mind

Posted : 8 years ago on 26 May 2010 02:14 (A review of The Matrix (1999))

''Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.''

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against the controllers of it.

Keanu Reeves: Neo

If you wind back the clock to 1999, the closing point for decades of film, you would not have expected the defining part in film would not come from a prequel trilogy regarding Star Wars titled The Phantom Menace, which actually resulted in disappointing an entire generation of fans.
If you wanted the biggest surprise and revelation, that covered a range of deep thought, sci-fi, effects and choreography, then you would have to turn towards Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, The Wachowski Brothers. Yes, my friends, it is indeed the biblical The Matrix I'm referring to.

The Matrix along with Fight Club instantly became a cult classic because anyone and everyone could relate to it if they so chose. We have a hacker leading a mundane existence in a job and World that is confined to a system regarding control and boundaries, rules and confinement. When his dreams and thoughts start to eclipse his limitations, Mr Anderson, known as Neo to his revolutionary friends, begins to wake up.
He meets characters that will change his life forever...Morpheus, Trinity and the villainous Agent Smith become iconic representations in themselves.
''How far does the rabbit hole go?'', you ask yourself, then when Neo chooses between the red and blue pills, you subconsciously choose with him. Essentially Morpheus is not just teaching Neo, he is teaching us. We are an entire generation, like Neo, that needs to wake up to a soulless system disguised as a convenient prison.

''...It is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself...''

I mentioned a handful of the characters, which entails a further mention of the cast. Keanu Reeves playing Neo, truly ends up being the Jesus defining figure in terms regarding becoming a prophet and hero from his former life in the office.
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, fully embodies the role of tutor and mentor towards the cause of good versus evil, mechanical imprisonment regarding humanity turned into batteries, is truly a character who shows us how we inevitably ended up chaining ourselves to technology.
Carrie-Anne Moss as the love interest Trinity, is the third part regarding the disciple principle, the one, is essentially three, thus one and unity, is in fact two coming together.
Hugo Weaving really perhaps eclipses all others as Agent Smith, thus becoming one of the most iconic and best villains to grace film for a long time. The beauty of his Agent character and his resolve comes from the fact that he speaks truth at times regarding humanity and their destructive natures. ''Mr Anderson!'', along with echoes...''There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.'' We are not mammals but an exception, because our volatile natures and intellect result in us spreading and sucking the Planet dry. In this regard Agent Smith is correct.
Gloria Foster plays the Oracle, the being and program that knows what will happen and the pieces upon the chess set.
Joe Pantoliano is Cypher, the Judas of the story, who wants the easy option, ''Ignorance is bliss...'', he flaggingly retorts as he betrays his friends. The betrayer is later betrayed, Carrie and Joe would later echo this in Nolan's piece Memento with a similar psychological analysis.

''You hear that Mr. Anderson?... That is the sound of inevitability...''

In fact, The Matrix, has so much in it that it's hard to grasp all concepts in the first or even fifth viewings, no matter what individuals might say, the beauty comes from the journey and message it spurs forth from it's revolutionary way regarding depth.
The Wachowski Brothers have made something special, they have made a defining point of imagination, capturing greens and the dullness that is this Matrix concept. This confinement that is trapping all souls within it, in an endless cloudy array, is the victory of the machine. It is essentially us becoming God and creating technology that can think for itself, similar to whatever created us being preceded by us.

The Spoon Boy explains it is not spoon's that bends, it's only you, the pills show blue sets us free, and Agent Smith is an Agent whom hates humanity because he hates his job which in turn has imprisoned him, as well as the people he presides over.
The Matrix has bullet-time, it has fancy kung-Fu fight scenes, it has philosophy and mindful insights, it has everything yet it sombrely effects audiences subconsciously with it's colourless shades and grains.
Perhaps, most rewarding of all, is that The Matrix, received the attention and Awards it deserved, as well as spawning two unnecessary sequels intent on capitalising it into a franchise, it birthed it's own Anime and a whole new generation from it's ideology and beauty. Having also won 4 Oscars for Best Editing, Best Effects/Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects/Visual Effects and Best Sound. Amen.

It's Original Music by Don Davis is in a word or two, fucking epic and Cinematography vast courtesy of Bill Pope.
Overall, The Matrix is another revolution of the mind and a beautiful stately message echoed forth from a creative medium.
Of course, it owes alot from Asian cinema, and Woo-ping Yuen's inspiring Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-styled choreography, it owes much to James Cameron's Terminator legacy, and perhaps it is the greatest tribute to East meets West in a Global Economy, needful of breaking the mould and going against corporation entanglement.
The Matrix will free your mind...It is a rabbit hole that goes as deep as you want it to.

''I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid... you're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin.''

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A Prince Of Persia.

Posted : 8 years ago on 25 May 2010 03:02 (A review of Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time)

''You are a Prince of Persia...Chosen from amongst the people.''

Based on the video game, which follows an adventurous prince who teams up with a rival princess to stop an angry ruler from unleashing a sandstorm that could destroy the world.

Jake Gyllenhaal: Dastan

Being a fan of the Prince Of Persia game series by Jordan Mechner, which dates back to the 2D original in the 80s, I was eagerly awaiting the film version.
Directed by Mike Newell, with a colourful screenplay devised from Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard, including a story written by the Games creator, and a merging with Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer amongst the producers.
So how does Prince Of Persia: The sands of time fair upon the big screen? Well, sit quietly and I will explain via storytelling/reviewing mode.

A breath-taking prelude begins the affair, Mike Newel lights the fuse, by giving us luscious visuals, epic beginnings, and explaining the Empire of Persia in typical Hollywood fashion. A boy from the streets is shown jumping across rooftops, swinging like a monkey and showing great courage towards a child in need of help. The king, with his brother, sees the child and he takes him as his child.
Whilst this is in effect, Original Music by Harry Gregson-Williams blasts upon our ears while the Cinematography by John Seale teasingly tempts us with it's blatant unsubtly approach honouring the adventure roots that hails Prince.

Regarding the cast of Prince Of Persia, it's easy to say they have chosen well known faces and undoubtedly rising stars from additional sources.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan, results in being a witty, handsome, humourous protagonist, while also a fitting choice for being transfomed into the somersaulting prince himself.
Throw in a beauty such as Gemma Arterton as Tamina, the love interest and guardian of the dagger time device, and you have a heroine whom embodies the voice and style of Oscar Winner Rachel Weisz. There is simply something very fun here, not seen since the daftness The Mummy invoked years ago.
Ben Kingsley as Nizam would appear to be one of the most impressive cast choices, as the nefarious Uncle figure, is he a villain? Or a friend? Kingsley clearly had fun in the role...And it shows. Just watch for instance, that sly, rat-like smile as he walks through a dark soldiery training room. What does this show us? It shows he's comfortable here. Ben Kinglsey can play a Jew, he can play an Indian, he can play a Doctor...Hell, he can even transform into a nefarious gangster without batting an eye lid.
It must also be said where would Prince Of Persia be without more injections of humour? Well, if the banter between Jake Gemma isn't enough, the film-makers throw in the talented Alfred Molina playing Sheik Amar, the Ostrich racer merchant, whom talks when he really shouldn't and many of us laugh when we shouldn't in equal doses.

It's frankly quite easy to say Prince Of Persia humbles itself by being alot of things, what it lacks in originality it makes up for with pure adrenaline, and charisma.
Granted, it does sometimes feel more English than Persian, it feels drenched with effects and an epic vibe that transcends that long ago period but... It does one important thing that eclipses all others. The aspect and success regarding the fruits and labours divulged? Of course, it is indeed keeping audiences entertained and enthralled with what it shows us.
I could say, a few more circumstances and sequences involving gymnastic jumping and scaling could have been served for fans in later scenes but that's me being a perfectionist. The dialogue and time travel plot regarding the plot always seems to be the focus that the makers strive solidify.

In all conclusion and fairness, my instincts and ultimate feelings upon reflection after experiencing Prince Of Persia were positive. I came out of the theatrical viewing feeling good and entertained while also in a romantic state of reminiscence. It's harmless fluff and dazzling fun, consistent in elaborately showing vast locations, costumes that are inspiring, and perhaps going a little crazy with it's usage concerning effects. What is indeed important is that it never loses sight of it's most important goal. Which is to bring to life the figure we know and love named by the people The Prince Of Persia.

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An offer you can't refuse.

Posted : 8 years ago on 20 May 2010 03:10 (A review of The Godfather)

''I understand. You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. So you didn't need a friend like me. Now you come and say "Don Corleone, give me justice." But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me "Godfather." You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder - for money.''

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

Marlon Brando: Don Vito Corleone

When it comes to naming the greatest and most influential motion pictures of all time, Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 masterpiece The Godfather is a title that is practically guaranteed to be among the many listed. Famed director Stanley Kubrick called The Godfather a candidate for the best film ever made and "without a doubt, the best cast." He's not wrong.

Based on a superbly written novel by Italian American novelist Mario Puzo, the film revolves around a fictional 1940s Sicilian crime family based in New York. The family is run by a wispy-voiced, puffy-cheeked man named Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) whom has, for the most part, moved away from the days of violence in favour of peace and prosperity without blood-shed and above all things, lectures on the topics of friendship and loyalty.
When an attempt is made on Vito's life, his two sons (James Caan, Al Pacino) and his adoptive son (Robert Duvall) take control of his dynasty and fight to keep him alive and what unfolds is a repeat of days gone by and the world regarding the Mafia is exposed to a enthralled, gratuitous audience.

The Godfather runs at being nearly three hours in length and part of this is due to the fact that it follows Mario Puzo's novel almost to the letter, every scene bring the book to life.
Coppola's film will without a doubt satisfy the purists, and even to those who have not had the privilege of reading Puzo's fantastic book, this is still a more than enjoyable way to spend three hours. Even at such a length, The Godfather never fails to keep our eyes focused upon the screen.

''I'll make him an offer he can't refuse...''

We have great characters in what is possibly the greatest cast ever assembled for a film. Marlon Brando was great; that was an automatic victory. Although what really impressed the audiences of 1972, and what still impresses people, are the performances of the combined supporting cast. Names such as Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, and James Caan, whom are at icon status today, were unknown before the release of this Picture. Al Pacino, in particular, gives a noteworthy performance that garnered him an Academy Award nomination and made the producers whom initially wanted to ban him from the role feel slightly embarrassed by their wrongly stormed assumptions. Al Pacino is undoubtedly the character in the film whom is shrouded by the curtain of irony.
When we first see him, he's not implicated or involved in the family/Mafia business. He's passive, quiet, reflective, shy, with a clean record, and a returned home war hero. Then, when he has to assume a Family role to defend his father, he slowly turns into the image of his predecessor and by the time the film ends, Pacino is the exact opposite of how we first saw him.
The people surrounding him all deserve mentions as they all excel in their respective roles; Diane Keaton as Pacino's love interest, who watches him change before her eyes, James Caan as the fiery-tempered brother, Robert Duvall as the Family consiligere, and one of my favorites, Al Lettieri as the villainous, steely-eyed Virgil Sollozzo, whom fits the exact image of how I pictured the character from the novel.

There is the fantastic element that the whole realm of the story takes place in the world of the Mafia. There is none of the tired old elements of, shall we say, detectives trying to uncover the Mafia and take them down or civilians whom become victims of the organized crime families. With this method, we successfully connect with and understand the motivations of the characters while the outside world, law and otherwise, simply lie in the background. The outside world meant little to the Mafia, and thus it means little to us as well.

What's beautiful about the film is in the regard The Godfather does not make attempts to glorify the Mafia. Yes, we do identify and sometimes feel for the characters in this brutal setting, but never do we justify their consequences or actions with humanistic pardoning. When director Francis Ford Coppola tries to give us horrifying violence, he delivers effortlessly. As he noted in his commentary on the film, Coppola worked hard with his pyrotechnics crew to make all shootings and killings in The Godfather look authentic and realistic as opposed to making them obvious simulated fakery. He uses blood, but not so much to the point where it becomes over the top, but just enough to make it convincing and fool audiences into believing this is the real deal.

The Godfather obviously was an enormous hit when it was first released. It garnered 3 Academy Award wins included Best Picture of the Year and broke box office records that would not be topped until Jaws(1975) was released three years later. Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall were all secured nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category but surprisingly none of them won. It also spawned two successful sequels, one of which I feel is actually superior to the original. Thus now Francis Ford Coppola has worked with Robert A. Harris to restore his famous trilogy and give it the pristine print that he always wanted audiences to see it in. Among other films such as Lawrence of Arabia(1962), Vertigo(1958), and Spartacus(1960), The Godfather is certainly a film that deserves a beautiful restoration so that it may live on and be remembered, in our collective minds for generations to come.

''It's an old habit. I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men.''

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Goodfellas: The best fucking pizza of your life.

Posted : 8 years ago on 12 May 2010 03:10 (A review of GoodFellas (1990))

''If you're part of a crew, nobody ever tells you that they're going to kill you, doesn't happen that way. There weren't any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who've cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you're at your weakest and most in need of their help.''

Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

Ray Liotta: Henry Hill

Martin Scorsese has always been one of cinema's greatest and most important directors. For more than three decades he has entertained, enlightened, inspired, influenced, surprised and shocked audiences, critics and aspiring film-makers alike with his unique array of films.
GoodFellas: The rags-to-riches-to-rags-again story of young Italian-Irish-American Henry Hill, a street-smart kid who starts off helping mobsters around the taxi rank and progresses to hijacking lorries, airport robberies, drug-dealings and finally, ironically informing to the FBI. Although admittedly it is perhaps overrated, it's still easily enjoyable, addictive and a brilliant Scorsese picture which deserves it's cult status.

The film opens with a segment from the middle of the film, unlike his other gangster epic Casino, which opens with a scene from the concluding climax of the story. I deny anyone whom isn't instantly gripped by this classic sequence to be missing the point completely, as well as fulfilling originality it captures. In fact, I don't believe the person who wasn't excited by this has been born yet.
We head inside a black car to take a look at passengers Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), Jimmy Burke (Bob De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). Suddenly, a thumping noise in the boot of the car wakes up Jimmy, who has been sleeping in the seat beside Henry. "The f*ck was that?!" asks Liotta's character rather crudely. Soon, the guys realise their precious cargo doesn't want to be conveyed quietly. Bringing the car to a halt on a dark side road, our trio of wise-guys clamber out of the car to quietly walk round to the rear where Henry sharply lifts the boot open. Angry that the mysterious body isn't quite dead enough, Tommy madly draws a blade and proceeds to repeatedly thrust it into the badly beaten man's chest. This is followed by three quick blasts from Jimmy's gun before Henry closes the boot, narrating with the now immensely-quotable line, "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster". Better than all twenty-one James Bond preludes combined, Martin Scorsese succeeds in grabbing you by the balls and doesn't let you go for anything.
By the time he's done squeezing, you're at the end of the film and story, and completely blown away.

''You know, we always called each other good fellas. Like you said to, uh, somebody, :You're gonna like this guy. He's all right. He's a good fella. He's one of us.: You understand? We were good fellas. Wiseguys. But Jimmy and I could never be made because we had Irish blood. It didn't even matter that my mother was Sicilian. To become a member of a crew you've got to be one hundred per cent Italian so they can trace all your relatives back to the old country. See, it's the highest honor they can give you. It means you belong to a family and crew. It means that nobody can fuck around with you.''

Literally crammed full with Oscar-quality performances, blissfully random violence, astonishingly executed tracking shots, great dialogue, rich characters, classic scenes and so many director trademarks; GoodFellas is entertainment and ground breaking cinema combined! Some of the picture's finest elements are Pesci's staggeringly profanities and simultaneously insane acting as the mentally unstable psychopath Tommy DeVito. Whereas some people just take short trips to the dark side of their psyche –he emigrates and flourishes there!
Ray Liotta also shines in this, with the best performance of his career. Robert De Niro isn't at the height of his powers here, but good for him is exceptional by any other actor's standards. The tremendous script by Scorsese and the author of the novel the film is based on, Nicholas Pileggi(Whom also worked on the screenplay), is just overwhelming with its brilliance. The way in which the film begins with power, success and happiness (albeit through peculiar means) then slopes down into degradation, failure and loss is done with such flamboyance that you just have to applaud the film-makers for the achievement. Some say they felt the later parts of the film derided from the storyline. I beg to differ. The film is based on Henry Hill's life as a mobster, as documented in Nicholas Pileggi's book, Wiseguys. Scorsese and his team didn't just want to make the later stages up so they could fit in a little bit more entertainment value. The smash cuts and picturesque jump cuts stop for a reason. They wanted to tell a true story, so in order to tell the truth about Hill's life, the third act had to be more gritty, depressing and indeed disturbing than the first two acts.

Recently, the small man with big ambition picked up his first Academy Award for Best Director with his flashy remake of the Asian hit Infernal Affairs, renamed The Departed. Although, I think we all know he should have received it sixteen years earlier. Anyone else suspect that the committee is just not paying attention? Or was Scorsese just ahead of his time in terms of film making and storytelling?

''As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster.''

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No one stays at the top forever.

Posted : 8 years ago on 9 May 2010 04:52 (A review of Casino (1995))

''When you love someone, you've gotta trust them. There's no other way. You've got to give them the key to everything that's yours. Otherwise, what's the point? And for a while, I believed, that's the kind of love I had.''

A truly classic film telling the story of the rise and fall of a bookie. Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two mobster best friends and a trophy wife over a gambling empire.

Robert De Niro: Sam 'Ace' Rothstein

Sharon Stone: Ginger McKenna

Joe Pesci: Nicky Santoro

Casino released 1995, from movie maestro Martin Scorsese, compared to GoodFellas, stands on it's own, in terms of cult classic status.
A detailed, beautifully narrated 3 hour spectacle, containing no unnecessary scenes to slow it down, never failing at any opportunity to fascinate and entertain us.

Cue Sam "Ace" Rothstein, a brilliant sports handicapper who takes his talents to Las Vegas. Ace's uncommon expertise and success with making the world of gambling pay off naturally attracts the wrong type of people in the likes of old home-town friend, tied closely with the Mob, Nicky (Joe Pesci), and the romantic object of his affection Ginger (Sharon Stone). Sam unfortunately takes a gamble on these two and the results don't pay off as well as he would have liked. Neither Ace or Nicky are a match for Ginger, whom gets in between them and ultimately plays them both for a time.
Ultimately everyone loses...Or so Scorsese would have you believe.

''Running a casino is like robbing a bank with no cops around. For guys like me, Las Vegas washes away your sins. It's like a morality car wash. In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.''

One of the film's remarkable achievements is how expertly the story is told, and Scorsese's ability to cram so many rich details into such a short amount of screen time.
An example of this is where DeNiro's character catches on to a couple of card players using a sophisticated cheating technique so they can communicate with one another, morse-code style to inform each other of their opponents' playing cards which they can see from opposing tables. The way Scorsese can illustrate such rich details during a brief montage showing how the players are able to incorporate this scam to the beat of the Jeff Beck Group's "I Ain't Superstitious" is like watching a master teaching learners and amateurs, showing how it's done for budding film-makers. This is how you make a film and tell a story.

Casino also of course features fine performances from the cast - many of whom also actually happened to appear in GoodFellas. Watch for a clever nod to Frank Vincent's "Billy Batts" role in GoodFellas towards the film's conclusion.
A masterpiece in direction, film editing, and storytelling, Casino contains scenes which may be considered by some as excessively violent, and must also hold some sort of record for the amount of "F" words ever said in a film. Literally every line of dialogue contains the word or variations of swearing and cursing. The easily offended may want to steer clear but then again, you will be missing out.

Certainly one of the great films in the Scorsese canon which makes for a fine companion piece for his groundbreaking classic GoodFellas. I hope Scorsese makes one final mobster film with DeNiro and Pesci.
Casino proves that, as far these three are concerned, you can't get much better of a combination as far as films go. Should my wish come true, hopefully Mr. Scorsese can find another classic rock song to put on the soundtrack to fit the mood of the story besides "Gimme Shelter" - also featured prominently in GoodFellas and The Departed.
Taxi Driver and Raging Bull showed Scorsese is the master of film making, Casino, The Departed and Shutter Island show he still is.

''A lot of holes in the desert, and a lot of problems are buried in those holes. But you gotta do it right. I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you show up with a package in the trunk. Otherwise, you're talking about a half-hour to forty-five minutes worth of digging. And who knows who's gonna come along in that time? Pretty soon, you gotta dig a few more holes. You could be there all fuckin' night.''

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Disneyland? Fuck, this is better than Disneyland.

Posted : 8 years ago on 5 May 2010 01:45 (A review of Apocalypse Now (1979))

''I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like victory. Someday this war's gonna end...''

During the on-going Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God among a local tribe.

Marlon Brando: Colonel Walter E. Kurtz

Martin Sheen: Captain Benjamin L. Willard

Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now is one of the most controversial films that our world has been privileged to see. I have heard many rumours about what happened on the set of this film, causing many problems, but I believe that does not distract from how good a film I think it is. But I warn you, Apocalypse Now has a very long and confusing story that might make it hard for you to appreciate what Coppola attempts to share. There have been many war films made by Hollywood, but none quite as unique as this.

Nominated for 8 academy awards, Apocalypse Now, winning 2 for Cinematography and Sound, tracks the journey of Captain Willard, a US Army intelligence officer sent on a hazardous mission up river in Cambodia to terminate 'with extreme prejudice' an American renegade, a colonel named ‘Kurtz' whom has spun out of control and into madness, in a remote jungle compound.
Apocalypse Now was really well made by Francis Ford Coppola (as director, producer and screenwriter). Coppola had many moments in the film where he wanted to say something and that is the achievement made. I love the way he shot the war scenes in this film, as they were not only very dramatic, but also combined with humour and a realism. I am certain that he was trying to deliberately show the irony of war, a real highlight of the story.

''Disneyland? Fuck, man, this is better than Disneyland!''

Helping Coppola write the film's screenplay were Michael Herr and John Millus. They all did a fantastic job, incorporating the mind-boggling story of Hearts of Darkness, by adventurer Joseph Conrad. It is my view that this story, while being hard story to understand, is important for people to learn about. All the writers did with this story was replace the trip up the Congo Marlow has in the ‘HOD' story, with the river trip thorough Cambodia for Captain Willard and his crew. Some people could criticise this film's story, saying that Coppola used it for his own convenience. However I think it is good to try and learn about an old story, in a modern kind of way, in a story that has undoubtedly affected our world, for many years, to present day.

This film shows many characters that have gone mad or indeed in the process of being driven to insanity. It's main star is Willard (Martin Sheen), the captain that is given the unenviable task of trying to find the ex-army colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). While Sheen was good in certain parts of his role, I must say that I found Willard to be a very mysterious character. This makes a challenge for audiences to connect with the main protagonist.
Alot has been said about the small role taken on by legendary actor Marlon Brando. He might have been paid one million dollars for the performance, but he does show he was the right person for the role. I believe Brando comes across perfectly as this army colonel, gone insane. When Brando says ''The horror, the horror'', it induces nostalgia regarding the prior story we have just endured, the horrors of war.
It is also amusing to see the Photojournalist (Dennis Hopper), whom is the really strange guy, harassing Willard when he finally finds Kurtz at his jungle hideaway. This character is another man that could be considered 'crazy' or is it 'enlightened'?
The other cast members in the film take considerably less of the limelight in the film, as that is how the story regards them. Yet they are still necessary. At the beginning of the film we meet a few officials that give Willard his mission. One of them is a Colonel (a very young Harrison Ford). Then on the boat that is helping take Willard on his mission through the Cambodian river are Chef (Frederic Forrest), Chief (Albert Hall), the boat driver, Lance (Sam Bottoms) whom have very disturbing death scenes, and Clean (an almost unrecognisable Laurence Fishburne), whose death is much more dignified than that of the chief.

''Horror... Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared.''

When we see the war zone in Vietnam for the first time, we meet a most unusual personality, Lt. Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall). The scene with the Kilgore in it at the earlier stage of the film, is truly great, as we see the war going on around him, but what is even more amazing is that he tells his officers around him, ''it is ok to surf, get out there or fight''. Now in any normal war film, that would be the last thing on anyone's mind, let alone an order from a top ranking official. Kilgore is also in a way crazy in his own little way, he is in a little dream or bubble, oblivious at times, to the horrors of war. This is normal, everyday, life for him. His job yet also he acts as if he is still back home in the US at times.
What's beautiful is when Wagner is played by the soldiers in the choppers, Coppola combines a powerful, timeless piece of music with the powerful, confused War that was Vietnam. It's truly haunting yet fascinating.
However, the most disturbing scene in the film happens when the navy boat crew stops, suspicious about the occupants of a Vietnamese boat. The massacre that follows is very hard to watch, but it does show what can happen, when men are trained to fight and kill in war. Willard as Captain shows absolutely no compassion to these people at all. What's even more disturbing is that these people on this particular boat are innocent civilians.

I hope that in some way my review has given you an insight into what the film entails and involves. I must reiterate that this film has an historical story attached to it. If you are a fan of literature, I can only recommend you read the Hearts of darkness story, but be ready for considerable substantial reading. If this film gets a bit heavy for you, keep reminding yourself what it is trying to show: Captain Willard and his mission, which is to find this brilliant army colonel that has gone completely mad and kill him.
This is a brilliantly made film, with a remarkable story, cast and direction. I can only recommend you get out there and see this spectacle. After all, this is better than Disneyland.

''The horror... the horror...''

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