Saturday, October 31, 2009


Happy Halloween! Expect a number of horror-related posts today. Perhaps something to watch this evening. But I'll start with a Stephen King novel.

Carrie White has a rough life. She teased at school by her peers and her over-religious mother abuses her at home. Fortunately for her, she has telekinetic powers that nobody knows about.

Stephen King was originally working on it as a short story back in the 1970's, but he didn't like where the story was going so he threw what he had in the trash. It was his wife that convinced him to keep working on the story. Interesting, huh?

My Rating: ****

Corpse Bride

In 2005, Tim Burton had two successes with his frequent collaborator Johnny Depp. The first was the uber-quirky Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which made almost $500 million dollars worldwide. The second was Corpse Bride, which managed to get an Oscar nod for Best Animated Film.

Corpse Bride focuses on Victor Van Dort (Depp), a nervous young man who's to marry Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson), a young woman who's part of the most royal family in town. Their parents arranged the marriage so the Van Dorts can be high in society and the Everglots do it for the money. Having never seen Victoria before, Victor isn't too fond of the idea.
At the marriage rehersal, Victor forgets his vows. After getting disgraced, he heads off to the woods to practice the vows. He then gets them right, and finds himself married to Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), a woman who was murdered on the night of her wedding. Emily claims that she and Victor are husband and wife, and she takes him to the Land of the Dead.

Has Burton and Depp ever done a movie and it stunk? Well, since I've seen every movie they've done together and that's definitely a no. But when I saw this when it was in theaters, it didn't leave that big an impact on me. It wasn't until I re-watched it last Halloween that I realized how good it was.

Suggestion: Watch this as a double feature with The Nightmare Before Christmas.

My Rating: ****

The Nightmare Before Christmas

With Coraline being a success earlier this year, I thought I would review a movie where Henry Selick gets little to no credit for directing it: The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon), the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, has grown tired of the annual Halloween hijinks. While walking through the woods, he stumbles onto Christams Town. He's so taken by the town, he tries to convince the residents of Halloween Town to celebrate Christmas.

I saw this a few years ago, and it still runs through my head. From the songs to the imagery, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one movie that you'll remember.

My Rating: ****

Sleepy Hollow

Don't be surprised if there's a number of Tim Burton movies. I did that on purpose.

Police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent off to the hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of murders where the victims' heads are missing. The residents of Sleepy Hollow claim that the murderer is the Headless Horseman, which Crane doesn't believe.

Sleepy Hollow was the third collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (the first two were Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood). This wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Much like Sweeney Todd, the on-screen deaths are quite graphic. Definitely not for the squeamish.

My Rating: ****


The 1988 movie Beetlejuice is completely different from anything else I've seen. And that's a good thing.

Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin) and his wife Barbara (Geena Davis) are killed by driving off a bridge. They manage to walk back to their New England home, but they don't know how they got back. They find out they now haunt their home, which gets sold to the Deetzes, a yuppie family from New York City. Delia (Catherine O'Hara) is an aspiring sculptor, her husband Charles (Jeffrey Jones) a real estate idea man, Otho (Glenn Shadix) is the interior decorator of the Deetzes, and Lydia (Winona Ryder) is the gothic daughter of Delia and Charles, who later becomes friends with the Maitlands. After several failed attempts of scaring off the Deetzes, the Maitlands fall under the temptation of Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a bio-exorcist. They find his attempts are too dangerous,so they try to save the Deetzes.

This is definitely a Tim Burton movie. Some elements from this movie can be seen in his later works.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What are your plans for this weekend?

Since this Saturday is Halloween, I felt like asking what my readers are doing for the holiday.

What am I doing, you ask? On Friday evening, I'm watching Psycho, and sometime on Saturday either Rosemary's Baby or The Shining (could you help me choose?).

Those are my plans. What are yours?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Help advertise this blog!

It's starting to depress me because I've been doing this blog for almost three months and I'm barely getting any readers. So start mentioning this site more! I know A Life in Equinox mentions me here and there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Dark Knight

You were expecting this to come sooner or later, weren't you? Man, this post is going to be hard. Here goes nothing.

Set only a year after what happened in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight focuses on Bruce Wayne AKA Batman (Christian Bale) trying to keep crime under control in Gotham City with the aid of Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). The Joker (a creepy-as-hell Heath Ledger), a psychopathic criminal, starts to raise hell in Gotham.

Boy, this had to be interesting for Christopher Nolan. One minute he's an unknown director from England noted for his indie films, next minute he's the director of the biggest freakin' movie of the millenium.

It's a shame that Ledger didn't live to see the success of The Dark Knight. But like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Ledger is forever immortalized with this movie, along with Brokeback Mountain.

Am I the only person who finds it a little weird ironic that Ledger used the movie A Clockwork Orange as a source for his role? Seems appropriate once you think of it: the lead villians are psychopaths that get kicks out of being violent toward others.

Bale was also good, but like Michael Keaton in the first two Batman movies, he was easily overshadowed by his villainous co-star. One thing that bugged me about Bale's performance (and I assume everyone else agrees with me here) is that voice. Ugh, that was so obnoxious. But the role wasn't bad overall.

Eckhart was also good. The look for Two-Face was downright disturbing but awesome. I mean compared to what Tommy Lee Jones had on his face in Batman Forever, Jones looks like he's wearing cheap Halloween makeup (and I think he is).

My Rating: *****

Freaky Film Fact #2

I know this isn't movie-related, but I just had to mention it.

In a 1960's interview, former Beatle John Lennon was asked how he was expected to die. He said, smiling, "I'll probably be popped off by some loony."

On December 8, 1980, Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Freaky Film Fact #1

In this new segment, I will bring up a piece of Hollywood trivia that is just downright weird.

When James Dean introduced himself to Alec Guinness outside a restaurant, Dean showed Guinness his prized Porsche 550 Spyder. Guinness told Dean, "If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week."

He said this on September 23, 1955, exactly a week before Dean's fatal car crash.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I've been under the weather for some time now, and I'm getting sick of being sick. My throat's killing me, I have a really dry cough, and it feels like my brain is leaking out of my nose.

I've been spending most of my time on the Internet. And this is one of most interesting pages I've found since being quarantined to my room. It was mentioned on /Film when I found the link. It's a petition to have Sam Rockwell's performance in Moon (a movie I've yet to see) nominated for an Oscar. So if you saw Moon and want Rockwell's performance nominated, just go to the first link and sign your name.

Also yesterday I saw The Hustler (which I'll be reviewing soon).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I have a confession.

Old movies depress me.

I have a reason. It's not usually the content of the movie (though The Grapes of Wrath had me thinking a lot) but more of the actors of the movie. Take for example Rebel Without a Cause. The three main actors (James Dean, Sal Mineo, Natalie Wood) all died at a young age. Dean died in a car crash at 24 in 1955, Mineo was stabbed at 37 in 1976, and Wood drowned at 43 in 1981.

My point is a movie made between the 1930's and the 1960's usually make me feel depressed, mainly because a majority of the cast is dead now. And you'll never see their talent ever again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 400 Blows

Twenty-five years ago today, French film director Francois Truffant died of a brain tumor. He was 52. In honor of this famed filmmaker I have decided to review his best-known work, his directorial debut The 400 Blows (which also turns 50 this year).

Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is a young teenager who always seems to be getting into trouble, whether at home or at school. He skips school and roams throughout Paris, which only gets him into more trouble.

As all hardcore cinephiles know, The 400 Blows was one of the first films of the French New Wave. The French New Wave marked a turning point in cinema, with the New Hollywood era starting less than a decade later.

I appreciate the movie very much, but I believe the movie was from Antoine's point of view. I mean, there is no way an adult can abuse a child that much and get away with it. Before I go into a ranting frenzy, I'll say what I liked. The images of Paris are beautifully shot in black and white, the acting is good, and the dialogue is smart.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Place in the Sun

Today marks what would've been the 89th birthday of actor Montgomery Clift. A brilliant actor who left before his time, Clift is noted for his Oscar-nominated performances in A Place in the Sun and From Here to Eternity. I shall be reviewing the former.

George Eastman (Clift) goes to work for his uncle at his factory. While working, he goes against the rules and starts a relationship with fellow employee Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters). Problems arise when he falls in love with socialite Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor). More arise when Alice becomes pregnant.

I may be imagining things, but when an actor dies young do their movie roles become more tragic? Some people might be seeing that with Heath Ledger. My point is, Clift's performance is just downright heartbreaking.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Third Man

Just reviewed Orson Welles' best-known work as a director, now onto his best-known work as an actor.

Pulp fiction writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) is invited to Vienna by his friend Harry Lime (Welles). When he arrives, Martins finds out that Lime was killed after getting hit by a truck. Martins tries to figure out what happened the night Lime was killed by asking people that knew him very well.

The movie is noted for the "cuckoo clock" speech that Welles utters shortly after his character is revealed. It goes:

"You know what the fellow said--in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace--and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Interesting bit of trivia: Welles ad-libbed that speech (and after the film's release, he was corrected by the Swiss saying "that they've never made any cuckoo clocks"). Bravo, Mr. Welles. Bravo.

My Rating: *****

Citizen Kane

Twenty-nine years ago today, famed movie director Orson Welles died of a heart attack just hours after his final interview. He was 80. In honor of his talent I've decided to review two of Welles' best-known works today, starting with his directorial debut Citizen Kane.

Newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane (Welles) dies after uttering "Rosebud". The news of his death causes a media frenzy, particularly over his final word. Reporter Jerry Thompson (William Alland) tries to find out about Kane's life and the meaning of his last word. Flashbacks show Kane's childhood, his rise in the newspaper business, his failed marriages and his descent in life.

This movie is considered "the greatest movie ever made", and in some ways I sort of agree with the claim. I mean, the movie's good but I think all of the hype surrounding it kills the movie.

My Rating: *****

The Apartment

Having just covered one Billy Wilder movie, I thought I might do another one.

C.C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a popular employee at an insurance agency. He's popular because he loans out his apartment to other employees for their (ahem) "other business". Because of this, Baxter's neighbors think he's a Don Juan. Baxter has an interest in elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), but becomes heartbroken when he finds out that she's seeing his boss Jeff D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). After a failed date at Baxter's apartment with Sheldrake, Fran tries to commit suicide. As she's recovering, Baxter interest in her comes back.

It felt kinda weird for me to watch a comedy from Billy Wilder, since just a few months before I saw a very serious drama by him. But it definitely pays off. The dialogue is clever, the acting is great, and the movie is one for the ages.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Lost Weekend

When the name Billy Wilder is mentioned, the most common movie titles thought are Some Like It Hot and The Apartment. But Mr. Wilder did more than the occasional comedy. He did film noir (Double Indemnity), war (Stalag 17), and drama (Witness for the Prosecution). Another drama from him is The Lost Weekend.

Don Birnam (Ray Milland), a struggling writer and long-time alcoholic, is planning to leave on a trip with his brother Wick (Phillip Terry) for the weekend. Don has been on the wagon for over a week, but his cravings are starting to control him. He manages to evade going on the trip, and he begins a weekend long drinking binge. His girlfriend Helen (Jane Wyman) grows concerned about Don, but he choses booze over Helen as he slowly descends into self-destruction.

The Lost Weekend is considered a landmark film because it was one of the first movies to discuss the topic of alcoholism. Later movies focusing on the same topic, such as Days of Wine and Roses and Leaving Las Vegas, feature nods to Wilder's movie.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, October 4, 2009


When the movie Jaws is mentioned, the first thing usually thought of is the famed score by John Williams. But I assume that not a lot of people know that the movie that made Steven Spielberg a household name was based off a book.

Island resort Amity is the subject of a shark attack on a tourist. Police chief Martin Brody wants to close the beaches but since the 4th of July crowds are coming soon, mayor Larry Vaughn refuses to have it done. Shortly after this, a young boy is killed by the same shark. The only help Brody receives to get rid of the shark is from shark hunter Quint and ichthyologist Matt Hooper.

Occasionally, a movie becomes well-known for the complications during production (Apocalyspe Now anyone?), and Jaws is definitely one of those movies. The robotic shark "Bruce" (named after Spielberg's lawyer) kept breaking down from the saltwater and the crew nicknamed the movie "Flaws". But because of the malfunctioning mechanics, Spielberg decided to only hint when the shark is nearby. Smart move.

What's worth checking out?: The book's okay, the movie's great.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rear Window

As I previously mentioned, I admitted I haven't seen a well-known movie by Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese and Billy Wilder. I'm proud to say that I have finally caught up with the rest of the world last night and finally saw Rear Window.

Photographer L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is recovering from a broken leg, and he finds a way to kill his time: spy on his neighbors from his apartment. His suspicion starts to grows when he believes that Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), a neighbor across the courtyard, has murdered his bedridden wife. At first no one believes him, but soon his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) are convinced that Thorwald killed his wife.

Stewart's performance was very good, as was Kelly's. Hitchcock's direction of the movie was great as well.

My Rating: *****