Monday, June 28, 2010

Bullets Over Broadway

When you watch a Woody Allen movie, the common lead male character is the neurotic writer. In his earlier movies, Allen usually portrayed that character. In his later movies, different actors have portrayed the role.

David Shayne (John Cusack) is an aspiring playwright who is having difficulty getting financial backing for his latest play God of Our Fathers. He's forced to hire Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly), the girlfriend of gangster Nick Valenti (Joe Viterelli), in order to get money for the production, regardless of the fact that she can't act. Although David isn't too crazy about him at first, he starts to like Olive's escort Cheech (Chazz Palminteri) when it's revealed he has good ideas for the play.

Can I honestly say that casting John Cusack in a Woody Allen-esque role was perfect? Yeah, I know I saw High Fidelity before this (both roles are somewhat similar, in my opinion), but it just works. Dianne Wiest's Helen Sinclair manages to steal every scene she's in and is a homage to Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond. Allen's writing is sharp and funny. All of these factors make Bullets Over Broadway a movie not to miss.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, June 26, 2010


If my appreciation for Tim Burton doesn't make it evident enough, I have a thing for quirky movies. But I like "interesting quirky" more than "regular quirky".

Nine strangers from the San Fernando Valley go through a day of their lives. Although their lives are different, they all have a connection.

It's an interesting premise, I'll admit it, even though it's been copied over and over and over again. Paul Thomas Anderson managed to grab my attention with the interweaving storyline. The performances are very good (though I found Julianne Moore a tad annoying), especially the one from Tom Cruise. The scene where the main characters are singing to the Aimee Mann song "Wise Up" was definitely an unique scene. I give Anderson kudos for writing and directing a truly original movie.

My Rating: ****1/2

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dog Day Afternoon

I've seen Sidney Lumet tackle different genres, from mystery (Murder on the Orient Express) to courtroom drama (12 Angry Men, The Verdict) to satire (Network). Now onto crime with Dog Day Afternoon.

Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) and Sal (John Cazale) have intentions on robbing a bank to get money for a sex-change operation for Sonny's lover Leon (Chris Sarandon). Unfortunately, the attempted robbery is a failure from the start.

Only Lumet can cram so much realism into one movie (yes, I know it's based on real events). Pacino is at the height of his career with Dog Day Afternoon and delivers one of his best roles. The interesting thing about the movie is that a majority of the dialogue is ad-libbed; the irony is the screenplay won an Oscar. Much like Lumet's earlier work Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon is gritty, real and edgy.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, June 24, 2010


If you recall my little (ahem) "rant" on Public Enemies a while back, you remember that I stated that I was highly disappointed with it. I decided to watch an eariler Michael Mann movie, Collateral, to make up for Public Enemies. It did.

Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) has been working as a night-shift cab driver for twelve years. He plans to open his own limo company, but he never gets around to it. One night, he picks up Vincent (Tom Cruise), who says he'll give Max a large sum of money if he's dropped off at five locations throughout the night. But as the night wears on, Max finds out that Vincent is a hitman. And as the L.A.P.D. and the F.B.I. race to intercept them, Max and Vincent's survival become dependent on each other, in ways neither would have imagined.

Oh man, this definitely made up for Public Enemies. It has oomph. It has thrills. It has an edge. I have a thing for charming yet chilling characters, and Cruise is just that. Collateral is reminescent of Heat on so many levels. How so? One reason: IT KICKS ASS.

My Rating: ****1/2

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Has this happened to you?

You keep forgetting that a certain actor is a certain movie. It's happened to me twice. The actors and movies may suprise you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Double Indemnity

I admire when Billy Wilder ventures into comedy (The Apartment, Some Like It Hot) because I know you're gonna get a good laugh. But when he does drama (The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard), I'm just as entertained.

Insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) becomes entangled in a plot to murder the husband of Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) for money. The scheme goes perfectly. Perhaps too perfectly as Neff's colleague Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) grows suspicious of the supposed accidental death.

I like the tense feeling throughout the movie, as well as the screenplay Wilder co-wrote with Raymond Chandler. MacMurray and Stanwyck deliver the performances of their careers with this. Along with comedy, film noir is one genre Billy Wilder is a master of.

My Rating: *****

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shutter Island

Damn, Scorsese. Six of your movies down and none failed to impress me.

U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are sent to Ashecliff Hospital to investigate the disappearance of a patient. As his time at the hospital progresses, Teddy starts to grow suspicious of the reputation of Ashecliff...

Shutter Island definitely had me on the edge of my seat. I love how Scorsese creates a Hitchcockian mood throughout. Yes, I was aware of the twist halfway through, but it's how it's executed at the end that makes it the more shocking. The music managed to build up the tension and send chills up my spine. In short, this is definitely for those who love a good scare.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Hours

Have you ever noticed that a majority of movies almost never have strong female characters? A few tend to, but not all that often.

In 1923 England, ailing journalist Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is starting to write her novel Mrs. Dalloway under the care of doctors and family. In 1951 Los Angeles, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) is pregnant housewife who is planning her husband's birthday, but is preoccupied with reading Woolf's novel. In 2001 New York, Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is a lesbian publisher planning an award party for her friend Richard Brown (Ed Harris), an author dying of AIDS. Taking place over one day, all three stories are interconnected with Mrs. Dalloway, as one is writing it, one is reading it, and one is living it.

Is it me or is it ironic that the two best performances came from actors who have yet to win an Oscar? I mean, Kidman was good but she was easily overlapped by Moore and Harris. Streep also delivered a very strong performance (as she usually does). The Philip Glass score manages to deliver an emotional punch. Stephen Daldry definitely made an interesting movie, though I did find some parts either too long or too short.

My Rating: ****


One of the most notable female playwrights is Lillian Hellman. Well known for her plays The Children's Hour, The Little Foxes and Toys in the Attic, she had somewhat of a biopic made a few years before her death.

After becoming a celebrated playwright, Lillian Hellman (Jane Fonda) is invited to a writers' conference in Russia. Her childhood friend Julia (Vanessa Redgrave), having taken on the battle against Nazism, enlists Lillian en route to smuggle money through Nazi Germany which will assist in the anti-Nazi cause. It is a dangerous mission, especially for a Jewish intellectual on her way to Russia.

The performances from Fonda, Redgrave and Jason Robards were strong. Fred Zinnemann's directeion is also strong, but I felt that the movie itself was overly dramatic in some parts.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Versatile Blogger Award

Um, wow. That was unexpected. Univarn tagged me with a new meme floating around (I honestly wonder where these things start). Anyway, here's what I gotta do:
  1. Thank the person who gave you this award. (check)
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award along to 15 who you have recently discovered and who you think fantastic for whatever reasons! (in no particular order)
  4. Contact the blogs you picked and let them know about the award.
Didn't I do this already? Anyway, seven facts about me:
  1. In my house, I'm usually the reference book for all things movies. Although I should probably take it as a honor, I find it kinda annoying.
  2. The most amount of movies I can watch in a day is two. Not a lot, yes, but that's my limit.
  3. Books, on the other hand, are different. The most I've read at once was three.
  4. I like that my family gives me film books, but my peeve is that they're always out of date within a year of publication.
  5. Books or plays, you ask? I've taken a better liking to plays.
  6. Along with movies and books, I also like music. I've been listening to my iPod a lot more since reading (and watching) High Fidelity.
  7. I LOVE going to New York City. It's like a new experience every time I go there.

What the-? 15?!! Oy, fine.

Movies and Other Things...
The King Bulletin
Anomalous Material
He Shot Cyrus
Final Cut
Kid in the Front Row
Reel Talk
The Dark of the Matinee
Encore's World of Film & TV
John Likes Movies
Stop the Planets of the Apes... I want to get off.
Movie Mobsters
Movie Moxie
Film Intel

Go check out the blogs I mention. Go on, shoo!


Remember a few months when I was being a whiny bitch? For those who haven't read that post, I'll give an overview. I was complaining that there are a crapload of good movies that I want to see, but the "parental units" are saying I have to wait until I'm old enough to see them since those movies are rated R.

My response? BULLSHIT! (I don't say that to their faces if you're wondering) There's no effin' way I'm waiting unitl September (that's when I was born) to see R-rated movies. I mean, I'm grateful they let me watch some where it's pretty obvious why the movie's rated R (The Godfather, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, etc.), but COME ON. Break some more rules, please.

Since that earlier post, I managed to see a good solid chunk of excellent R-rated movies (Raging Bull, Schindler's List, Brokeback Mountain, to name a few). But this is without their knowledge. It ain't easy, trust me.

You're probably wondering, "Oh, why can't you watch them with your parents?" The answer is simple: I prefer watching them alone. Basically if I watch something with my mom, afterwards she asks me questions nonstop about the actors or director (which I cannot STAND). And my dad is usually too tired to watch anything after work.

My point is I'm so not waiting three months to be allowed to see R-rated movies without their permission.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Writer's Block: I haz it

Apologies for the lack of posts in the past couple of days. It's just...I'm not feeling motivated enough to write something. I mean, yes, I'm watching movies and reviewing them. But apart from that, I've been feeling rather...bleah over the last few days.

One reason might be is because I'm finishing up my junior year of high school. I have finished my exams, and I have a bunch of free time now. I honestly don't know why I'm not up to writing anything.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Movies that focus on touchy subjects shouldn't really be comedies. But a few manage to pass the mark.

After an one-time encounter with her friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) finds herself pregnant. She opts to get an abortion, but decides she can't go through that. Instead, she plans to put the baby up for adoption after it's born. She finds Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), a young couple hoping to adopt, through an ad in the newspaper. As her pregnancy progresses, Juno becomes more connected to the Lorings, her parents and Paulie.

Although I have a thing for quirky movies, Juno is different. It's not too quirky, but it gets on a high enough level for me to like it. With all of the movies that are remakes, reboots, prequels, sequels, blah blah blah, it's refreshing to see an original concept.

My Rating: ****

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reason for blog name?

Much like my question yesterday, this one is focused on the bloggers.

If you couldn't guess what the bloody hell my blog's name means, it means I'm an avid fan of movies and books.

After finding out the meaning of Mad Hatter's blog earlier today (it's derived from a Franz Ferdinand song), it made me curious on other blogs' names. Why did you choose the name your blog has?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why do you blog?

I stated on a post on The Dark of the Matinee I started my blog because I was bored. I'm curious on why you guys started your blogs.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Public Enemies

You know how some directors are always noted for one particular movie, no matter how far their career goes? Unfortunately for Michael Mann, he's one of those examples.
In 1933, the fourth year of the Great Depression, bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) challenges the law with his gang and is considered Public Enemy #1. J. Edger Hoover (Billy Crudup) goes to Congress asking for financial support to the FBI and assigns Agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) responsible for the Chicago area. Meanwhile Dillinger falls in love for Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard), and Purvis and his men stake her out to try to catch Dillinger.
I had several problems with Public Enemies. First off is the development. The story is just so weak, it essentially collapses halfway through. Next off is the inaccuracies. Whoever wrote the screenplay didn't do enough or any thorough research. And finally, the violence. I think Mann tried too hard to make it feel like Heat. The performances from Depp, Bale and Cotillard are good, but I shake my head at the fact that good actors are in a movie this weak. It only provides mild entertainment at best. Makes me question why I was dying to see this when it was released last year (and makes me grateful I didn't waste $10 to see it).
My Rating: ***

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

List o' Links

Total Film compiles a list of the best looking films ever.
Vanity Fair rattles off notorious paparazzi moments. Yes, Sean Penn is mentioned on there.
Julian over at Movies and Other Things explains planned movies series for later this year.
Univarn of A Life in Equinox discusses a movie conversation I'm sure you've all had.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Schindler's List

Steven Spielberg is frequently synonymous with huge box office numbers. But he is also synonymous with critically acclaimed movies.

Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is a vain, glorious and greedy German businessman who is a member of the Nazi Party. But upon seeing the barbaric Nazi reign and the psychotic acts of Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews.

Schindler's List had many emotional scenes, but there's one scene towards the end that got to me (and I assume many others). As Schindler and his Jews are leaving the factory, he confides in his accountant Itzhak Stern (played by the talented Ben Kingsley) that he "didn't do enough". Stern tells Schindler that he managed to save over a thousand Jews, but Schindler is heavily distraught about not saving more lives. It made me wonder what would've happen had he saved more Jews. Would he still feel guilty?

Spielberg, who would've thought you could make such a powerful movie like Schindler's List? It has it all: beautiful cinematography, a heartbreaking score by John Williams, and bravura performances from Neeson and Fiennes. And yes, of course, Spielberg's skilled direction.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Favorite Movies by Favorite Directors

The premise of this post is obvious by the title. I just name my favorite movies that are directed by filmmakers I highly appreciate. I'll also mention other movies I've seen by them.

The Director: Martin Scorsese
The Movie: The Aviator
My Reasons: As I stated on my list of desert island movies, I really love this movie for Leonardo DiCaprio's performance. He gives a powerful yet emotional performance as the mad innovator Howard Hughes and it's my favorite role of his.
Other Films: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver

The Director: Billy Wilder
The Movie: Some Like It Hot
My Reasons: As I stated several times before, this is my favorite Billy Wilder movie because of one thing: it's funny. I literally doubled over from laughing so much, especially from the famed closing line.
Other Movies: The Lost Weekend, The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Double Indemnity, Sabrina

The Director: Sidney Lumet
The Movie: 12 Angry Men
My Reasons: It's really rare to see a directorial debut become the best-known work of a director. Sideny Lumet is one of the few exceptions. Tense story, fine acting and skilled directing makes 12 Angry Men one movie not to avoid.
Other Movies: Murder on the Orient Express, The Verdict, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, Long Day's Journey into Night

The Director: Tim Burton
The Movie: Ed Wood
My Reasons: I particularly like this over the other ones I've seen mentioned below because it's not bizarre and/or quirky. I like it because it's real. And the fact that Johnny Depp plays one of the most optimistic characters ever shown on the silver screen makes it all worthwhile.
Other Movies: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The Director: Alfred Hitchcock
The Movie: Psycho
My Reasons: Oh, as if this didn't scared the bejesus out of you. It messed me up like no other and that's why I love it.
Other Movies: The 39 Steps, Rear Window, Vertigo, Spellbound

The Director: Elia Kazan
The Movie: On the Waterfront
My Reasons: The impact On the Waterfront has had on film is outstanding, as with the movie itself. Marlon Brando delivers his best performance as the conscience-striken Terry Malloy and acts alongside a stellar supporting cast which includes Rod Steiger, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint. Just watch the prolific taxi cab scene and you'll know why it left such an impact on Hollywood.
Other Movies: A Streetcar Named Desire, Gentleman's Agreement, East of Eden

The Director: Clint Eastwood
The Movie: Mystic River
My Reasons: Strong story + superb directing + bravura performances = one helluva movie. And that's what Mystic River is.
Other Movies: Invictus, Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven

So there are mine. What are yours?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Participating in Blogathons

You know you've done it several times before. The Large Association of Movie Blogs has them all the time, more prolifically their LAMBs in the Director's Chair and LAMB Acting School segments. Encore's World of Film & TV recently did a musical blogathon. And it does not end there.

My question is this: why do so many blogs take part in blogathons? I view it as a way to get noticed (hence why I try to get involved in as many as I can). But now and then, some blogs just get noticed from word of mouth rather than blogathons (I'm looking at you, Univarn).

So what are your views on the subject? Do you think blogathons are a good way to get recognized? Or are they just for blogging wannabes?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Last Picture Show

Once in a while, I prefer to read the book instead of watching the movie. A good example would be The Last Picture Show.

The novel is set in the one-stoplight town of Thalia, Texas, where Duane, his friend Sonny, and girlfriend Jacy are all stumbling along the rocky road to adulthood. Duane wants nothing more than to marry Jacy; Sonny wants what Duane has; and Jacy wants to get the hell out of Thalia any way she can. Over the course of a year Duane and Jacy make up and break up, Sonny begins an affair with his high school football coach's wife, and the only movie house in town closes its doors forever.

Most people may be more familiar with the movie of the same name, but don't avoid the book. Although sex is mentioned profusely, it's still a very good book.

My Rating: ****

Sweet Smell of Success

Occasionally some classics' fame vary from "Oh my God, you HAVE to see this" to "Why haven't I heard of this?" One good example is Sweet Smell of Success.

J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster), the most powerful newspaper columnist in New York, is determined to prevent his sister Susan (Susan Harrison) from marrying jazz musician Steve Dallas (Martin Milner). He therefore covertly employs Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), a sleazy and unscrupulous press agent, to break up the affair by any means possible.

It's interesting that New York City (and the whole movie) seems to revolve around Hunsecker, all because of his power in the newspaper business. But it's Falco who gets the story rolling. All because he's wrapped around Hunsecker's finger.

I admired the film noir feeling throughout. Curtis and Lancaster deliver strong performances, but for different reasons. Curtis breaks away from his earlier roles, while Lancaster shows a more sinister side to his acting.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BOOK VS MOVIE: Long Day's Journey into Night

I saw a review describing Tennesse Williams as "the greatest U.S. playwright since Eugene O'Neill". Being the curious person that I am, I decided to check out a work of O'Neill's.
The story chronicles one day of the Tyrone family. The members of the family are James, a former actor; Mary, a lonely housewife; Jamie, a struggling actor; and Edmund, who always seems to be sick. Each family member has a secret: they're all addicts. James. Jamie and Edmund are all alcoholics, while Mary is hooked on morphine.
The character of Mary Tyrone reminded me of A Streetcar Named Desire's Blanche DuBois, since both are women who live in their own little world and are on the verge of having a breakdown. The fact that the play is autobiographical (O'Neill is portrayed as Edmund) gives it a more shocking feel.
The movie was good because it stays true to the play. But did it really need to be nearly three hours long? In a word, no.
What's worth checking out?: I'd go with the play.