Thursday, June 30, 2011

Counterfeit Casting: Stanley Kubrick

Let's try a director this time. I'm surprised no one has thought that this would be a good biopic. Who could play the perfectionist genius that was Stanley Kubrick?

CANDIDATE #1: Michael Shannon
Shannon has always grabbed the viewer's attention when he's on screen. Kubrick had the same effect when his name showed up during the opening credits. Plus, Shannon's quite experienced at playing the freethinker, which is what Kubrick was.
I can't think of anything.

CANDIDATE #2: Paul Giamatti
Giamatti's been slowly rising among the ranks of the best of the best. Perhaps a role like this would give him a boost?
I'm not sure if Giamatti can play someone as tyrannical as Kubrick.

CANDIDATE #3: Robert Downey, Jr.
Downey has already portrayed a prominent director before in Chaplin. Could you imagine if he played the mad genius director? I'd love to see it happen.
That being said, however, I can't entirely see him right for the role. Like Giamatti, I'm not sure if Downey can play such a figure as Kubrick.

Who would cast as Stanley Kubrick? (And, yes, I'm aware that Stanley Tucci played him before.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ever happen to you?

I've been stuck for some time now and I cannot STAND IT. I guess that's what happens when you've been blogging for almost two years and hit a brick wall hard.

This post aside, I've had writer's block affect me. Hard. I can't think of anything to write for a post AND I've stalled on my screenplay.

Somebody give me a freakin' idea!

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Stage in Life

So today I got college orientation (early, I know) and my current state of mind is anxious. Basically because it's an out of state college and I don't know anybody there. Hopefully I'll get along with other arriving freshmen.

Anyway, I'll be out of town (and away from my computer) for today and most of tomorrow. I just want to ask college students/graduates this: what are some pointers for any freshman?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peeping Tom

In 1960, two movies with themes of voyeurism and eroticism were released: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. The results were different; Psycho advanced Hitchcock's career while Peeping Tom destroyed Powell's.

Both movies have a similar lead character: a young man, insecure because of the controlling nature of a now deceased parent, murders as a means of coping with life. Really freaky stuff.

The similarities between Psycho and Peeping Tom end when discussing the murders. The murders in Psycho are bloody but subdued. Those in Peeping Tom are bound to spook you since they're shown through the killer's eyes. That, and a heightened sense of perversion for what happens after the murders.

Oh man, Peeping Tom is really freaky. Definitely not for the easily spooked. It's really for those who weren't scared by Psycho. Am I one of those people? Nuh uh, but I was very spooked by Peeping Tom.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Just taking a break from movies and books today to cover a historic event that happened last night. My home state of New York has legalized same-sex marriage. Thank you, Andrew Cuomo for passing this bill. Now we need the remaining forty-four states to legalize it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Johnny Got His Gun

Dalton Trumbo is one of Hollywood's most famous screenwriters. Even with his infamy  as part of the Hollywood Ten, his writing always captivated an audience.

His novel Johnny Got His Gun has to be one of the most harrowing things I've read. It's told in the third person, but it's from the point of view of Joe Bonham, a soldier who lost his limbs and face in battle from a bomb. It's very claustrophobic reading.

The story interchanges from Joe's life before getting shipped off and Joe lying in the hospital. It's sad to see him go from a charmed life to being a prisoner in his own body, unable to express what he's feeling.

Johnny Got His Gun is one of those books where no matter how many times you try to stop reading it, you can never put it down. Seriously, it's that good. Trumbo's writing packs a wallop, but it also makes Johnny Got His Gun as something I don't want to read for a very long time. Kind of the same effect Requiem for a Dream had when I watched it.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's going on?

So earlier today I graduated from high school. (Whoo-hoo!) As I write this, I feel like I might fall asleep on the keyboard. And this coming Monday, I got orientation for college. Whew, who thought being a senior would be tough?

Anyway, reviews might be in short supply for the next week or so. I will, however, try to keep the site updated daily.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gods and Monsters

It's not that often we get a glimpse into a director's personal life on the silver screen. Sure, they might be mentioned in memoirs, but do you see it acted out?

The two veteran stars of Gods and Monsters are Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave, both nominated for Oscars. They provide certain quirks to the movie's allure. McKellen is flamboyant while Redgrave is reserved. Both are polar opposites yet they have wonderful chemistry together on screen.

Brendan Fraser usually gets a bad rap since most of the movies he's in could have been written by a five-year-old. But he really impressed me in Gods and Monsters. He clearly shows that he can act. Personally, I think Fraser's one of those names working in Hollywood who needs a good script tossed to him every once in a while.

Gods and Monsters is such a wonderful movie. It shows a simplicity within the emotions and dialogue. It may rely on the subject of homosexuality most of the time, but that aside it's a marvelous film.

My Rating: *****

Monday, June 20, 2011

Letters from Iwo Jima

In the year of 2006, Clint Eastwood made two movies about the Battle of Iwo Jima. The first movie was Flags of Our Fathers, which was told from the American viewpoint. The second movie was Letters from Iwo Jima, which was told from the Japanese viewpoint.

On their own, both movies are excellent. In comparison though, it's safe to say Letters from Iwo Jima is the better of the two. It doesn't rely on the war depicted. It relies on the soldiers' personalities, much in the same manner as The Thin Red Line.

I give Eastwood points for having Japanese as the main language of Letters of Iwo Jima. It would've been awkward had the whole thing been in English. (I say this as I side eye Spielberg in the case of Schindler's List.)

Letters from Iwo Jima is a phenomenal movie. Gone are the images of pure bloodshed in every frame. Instead is a marvelous character study of soldiers in the throes of battle. I love it.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flags of Our Fathers

In the aftermath of war, lives are changed. Returning soldiers are withdrawn, unable to live the lives they had before the war. Families struggle to cope with loved ones being killed in battle. To others, however, they fail to see the impact the war left.

Flags of Our Fathers is somewhat different. The three main soldiers were part of the famous flag rising photograph and are hailed as national heroes. However, they want to be treated like returning soldiers. Fame is nice, but it has a price.

One notable scene is when the soldiers storm the beaches of Iwo Jima. It almost mirrors the D-Day scene of Saving Private Ryan, chaos and carnage all around. It doesn't have the exact impact of the D-Day scene, but it's pretty darn close.

Flags of Our Fathers is one of Eastwood's best movies, though not an absolute best like Mystic River or Unforgiven. It shows the reluctant nature a person can have when being lauded for something they did. But it does have its flaws. Still, it's very good.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, June 18, 2011


After my viewing of The Lion in Winter not so long ago, I decided to venture into more unconventional period pieces. Ones where the subject matters presented can be related to present day.

Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet are the two actors that drive Quills forward. His Marquis de Sade writes, her Madeleine LeClerc delivers his manuscripts and France goes into a frenzy from the publication of his dirty words. They won't allow the asylum's rules of censorship stop them.

The main focus may be on the Marquis de Sade (where the term "sadism" is derived from), but the perverse mind in this movie is from Michael Caine's Dr. Roger-Collard. He's a silent sadist, so to speak. He doesn't show any signs of pleasure when seeing someone in mental or physical pain, but you can tell he enjoys it.

Rush got the awards attention, but my attention went to Joaquin Phoenix. His Abbe du Coulmier is supposed to be a man of the cloth, but he falls victim to a crippling sin: lust. And we see that sin consume him. Phoenix was nominated that year for Gladiator, but he should have been nominated for Quills.

Quills is an excellent movie. It toys with the concept of sex throughout the movie while at the same time garnering top notch performances from the four principal actors. One to avoid? No way.

My Rating: *****

Friday, June 17, 2011


When Inception was released last year, most people were introduced to Tom Hardy, who was definitely a scene stealer in that movie. But he had been in movies for several years prior to Inception.

In Bronson, Hardy shows an explosive side to his acting. His work in Inception is a more controlled performance. Bronson, however, is an out of control, balls to the wall kind of performance. Not that I'm complaining.

I saw some reviews comparing Bronson to A Clockwork Orange. After viewing Bronson and pondering it over, I can't really picture it. I mean, A Clockwork Orange has Alex appalled at the mere thought of violence after his incarceration; Bronson has Charlie more raring to go to fight after being in prison. I fail to see any comparison.

In comparison to Hunger as an example, Bronson is the better film for its pace is faster. But alas, the abundance of violence in Bronson left me feeling distant from it. I can't stress how much I dislike gratuitous violence in movies. That aside, however, I did like the movie.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Blue Velvet

Alfred Hitchcock was dubbed "the Master of Suspense". I call David Lynch "the Master of Mindfuckery".

I mean, Mulholland Drive is a weird movie, but the weirdest in Lynch's line of work has to be his magnum opus Blue Velvet. For Pete's sake, it starts off with the lead character finding a severed ear. That aside, Blue Velvet is excellent as a neo-noir.

The highlight performances come from Isabella Rossellini and Dennis Hopper. Rossellini is the right embodiment of the battered woman while Hopper is right embodiment of demented evil. Seriously, Hopper's depiction of the foul-mouthed, gas-inhaling Frank Booth has to be one of the most horrifying performances I've seen. How both Rossellini and Hopper were ignored for nominations, I'll never know.

Bizarre as it may be, Blue Velvet is perhaps one of the best movies made in the last thirty years. About, say, half of it is hard to watch for its brutality, but it's a very absorbing movie at the same time.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why I Like the Classics

As you might have noticed, I have taken more of an interest to classic film than recent movies. I have a good explanation for that.

So many remakes are in production/being released, so I'm curious on what the originals are like. Safe to say I prefer the originals.

Today's movies also seems so trite, you have to go back a few decades to find something new. Believe me, all of today's action movies and romantic comedies have the same overused formula.

Another reason is the actors from that time. They weren't cast in a movie for their build or appearance; they were cast to act, unfortunately a factor of casting not used enough today. Don't get me wrong. There are great actors working today. It's just the best actors and actresses that graced the silver screen were from the Golden Age.

Now mind you, I'm not berating today's movies. Again, I like the classics more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Steven Spielberg, as we all know, can make movies that are either box offices hits (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark) or critics' favorites (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan). I like both, but from time to time I prefer the latter.

This is almost an ironic movie for Spielberg to make because in Schindler's List, the lead used bargaining as a way to avert violence. In Munich, the "eye for an eye" belief is used quite frequently. And like the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan, Munich opens with a re-enactment of the hostage situation of the Israeli Olympic team.

Eric Bana really impressed me. He shows how haunted he became after of the assassinations he committed. His face becomes gaunt, his eyes sink into his head and he gets increasingly paranoid, fearing that his life will be over by someone else pulling the trigger. He also says this, which sums up his feelings on what he has done: "There's no peace at the end of this. Whatever you believe, you know that's true."

Munich, although slow at the beginning, is an excellent movie. The assassination scenes are full of Hitchcockesque suspense. It may not be as great as Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan, but Munich shows that Spielberg still has an edge.

My Rating: ****1/2

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Ice Storm

The Ice Storm is one of those movies that has thinking when it's over. The subject matters presented have you wonder what is right when sex and relationships are brought up for discussion.

I was already aware that Ang Lee can depict complicated relationships and affairs in his movies. After all, he did direct Brokeback Mountain. But what's presented in The Ice Storm isn't as conflicted as what's presented in Brokeback Mountain.

All of the performances are ace. I particularly liked the frigid nature of Sigourney Weaver's role, the perplexity within Tobey Maguire's and the abandonment in Joan Allen's. They don't feel forced; they feel authentic.

The Ice Storm is quite good, but it's a little frank on the subject of sex. (Well, technically so was Brokeback Mountain.) That aside, Lee churned out a very well-acted movie.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What inspires you?

More so for writing. For me, it's either good music or the help from other bloggers.

So what about you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Less Than Zero

Media about addiction always manages to intrigue me, but recently not so much. I don't know why that is. But I think after I saw Requiem for a Dream last year, most other depictions of addiction and dependency pale in comparison.

Heading into Less Than Zero, I was already aware of Bret Easton Ellis', um, "quirky" sense of humor from reading American Psycho. From what I read, Ellis wasn't too pleased by the adaptation of Less Than Zero. After seeing the finished result, I'm tempted to read the book.

My main complaint is that the acting is stiff as cardboard. The only natural performance is from Robert Downey, Jr., perhaps because at that time he was living his life like Julian. We see his addiction eating away at him as the movie progresses. And just when it looks like he can't get into a deeper hole, someone throws in a shovel.

All in all, I wasn't too impressed by Less Than Zero. The storyline felt flat and loses something when Downey's not on camera. Basically, if it wasn't for Downey, I would've avoided this.

My Rating: ***1/2

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ask me!

Stealing this idea from Mad. Since I have nothing else to write (and desperate for an idea), I decided to have a Q&A with my readers. Ask me a question and I'll answer.

"What's been the best thing about writing a movie blog so far?" (asked by Mad Hatter)
Getting to meet other devoted fans of film through comments.

"What film are you still amazed got any positive reviews years after it first annoyed us?" (asked by nixskits)
I got a good response to that: Avatar.

"Why do you usually ignore comments? :)" (asked by Lesya)
I usually don't have anything to add to another comment. Besides, I'm answering your comment now, aren't I?

"What movie you haven't seen yet that you are dying to watch?" (asked by Castor)
It changes from time to time, but recently, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.

"Which director would you want to direct your script?" (asked by Anna)
Sam Mendes comes to mind for the one I'm currently working on.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Good Night, and Good Luck

I always like it when a time period is captured to perfection in a movie. Well, more so when the movie's set during that time period rather than from it.

Now Good Night, and Good Luck best captures the world of 1950's newsrooms. The men wore suits, everyone smoked and looked good doing it. Director/co-star George Clooney knew of this world from his own life. After all, his father was a reporter.

It may have been Clooney's name that filled the seats (other stars include Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey, Jr.), but it's David Strathairn who makes the movie for what it is. His portrayal of reporter Edward R. Murrow is so accurate, some might believe he's actually Murrow. Must've been a hard year for AMPAS voters when it came to the Best Actor category.

Since two of my favorite movies are about journalism, I thought it would be clear that I would like Good Night, and Good Luck. Indeed I did, very much so in fact. It doesn't cram the facts down your throat like some movies of the same subject matter might do. The facts are spread out thoroughly and evenly throughout the movie. In fact, pointers can be taken from viewing Good Night, and Good Luck.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Lookout

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love underrated movies. I find new ones almost all the time too, so that makes it even better.

I have always liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt. After watching him in The Lookout, that slight appreciation had deepened into an admiration. He's really great in this movie. Usually he's nebbish in some of his roles (10 Things I Hate About You, (500) Days of Summer); here, he's anything but.

The movie reminded me of both Memento and Wait Until Dark. Memento because the lead character suffers from a brain injury and is drawn into a crime, Wait Until Dark because a group of thieves take full advantage of the lead character's handicap. I'm not saying that director/writer Scott Frank ripped off those two movies; I believe he made slight improvements to those concepts.

The Lookout has to be one of the most awesome heist movies I've seen. All of the characters introduced have an appealing nature to them. It feels dark in some scenes, but that barely matters for a movie that kicks some serious ass.

My Rating: ****1/2

Monday, June 6, 2011


With X-Men: First Class released this past weekend, some people were introduced to a rising talent by the name of Michael Fassbender. I say some because most people were already aware of him from three movies he did in the last few years: Hunger, Inglorious Basterds and Fish Tank.

In Hunger, we watch Fassbender first physically overpower the police. In the second half, we watch him just deteriorate before our eyes. I'm not sure if he lost more weight than Christian Bale did for The Machinist (sure looks like he did), but watching him literally get reduced to skin and bones is pretty horrific stuff.

For a movie that says a lot, there isn't much among the ranks of dialogue. It's all about the mannerisms of the people shown. Dialogue rarely matters in a movie like this.

My only problem with Hunger was its pace. I found it a little slow for my tastes. I still thought it was a good movie. It's just the pace was a little bothersome to me.

My Rating: ****1/2

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Heart Huckabees

I have seen quite a few weird movies in the last few years. Some are weird because you have to pay close attention otherwise you'll lose focus (and the movie's still weird). Others are just weird because the plot's all over the place.

I Heart Huckabees definitely falls under the latter. The plot's bizarre to begin with and it only gets stranger as it unfolds. The concept's interesting, but it just makes for a very weird movie. I wonder what it would've been like had Wes Anderson directed it.

The cast is star-studded, but the two I liked best were Jude Law and Mark Wahlberg. They are both the supposedly serious parts of I Heart Huckabees, but instead they were both the scene stealers.

I Heart Huckabees as separate parts is good. As a whole, however, it's so-so. It's just a jumbled mess of who knows what but I was slightly amused by it. But all in all, it's not that good of a movie.

My Rating: ***1/2

Friday, June 3, 2011

Miller's Crossing

The gangster movie was popular back in the 1930's when real gangsters were showing who's the boss. Bonnie and Clyde and The Godfather aside, the genre started to die out. But recently, the genre came back alive and kicking.

Now I have seen only a few movies made by the Coen brothers. (All I got are Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Fargo.) But I managed to get a sense on what Joel and Ethan were trying to accomplish in their movies. One of them was using violence gratuitously.

Anyway, Miller's Crossing I liked for its simplicity of things. The dialogue, the violence, everything. And this is from the duo responsible for the bloodfest that is Fargo.

Miller's Crossing is one of the more unconventional gangster movies I've seen. It doesn't rely on blood and bullets, just the conscience of the lead character. That, in my opinion, I like very much.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Waiting for Godot

Many plays have covered the topic of existentialism, none as eloquently as Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.

The two leads of Waiting for Godot are, well, waiting for Godot. We don't know who or what Godot is but once we hear the description of him/it, we get a sense of interest the leads have for Godot.

From the ending, you could tell who or what Godot is. I'm not adding anything else, but I will say that Beckett was pretty good at conjuring that up.

Waiting for Godot, like what I said for The Stranger, is one of those plays that makes you think when you're done reading it. But like The Stranger, I thought Waiting for Godot rambles on too much. It's good, not great.

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


It's hard to compare plays with their movie counterparts especially if you haven't seen the plays acted out. But so far, it's working for me.

Golden Boy is one of Clifford Odets' most famous plays. It has dialogue with bite, characters that are real and a really excellent story. I like how even though the main character Joe Bonaparte is a boxer, the story doesn't entirely revolves around his fights.

The film stars Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden and Lee J. Cobb. Stanwyck was right for the role of sassy agent moll Lorna Moon. Holden, then a newcomer, also fits for the role of boxing hopeful Joe. In short, they were right for their parts.

To get a little poetic, there's a good use of symbolism with one of the characters. The character is Mr. Bonaparte, Joe's father. He portrays Joe's conscience, which is actually pointed out within the text. He hopes that the boxing is only a temporary thing for Joe, each time it's brought up it pummels Joe harder than an opponent's punches. I love that symbolism.

Even though the ending was changed for the movie, the rest of it stays true to Odets' play. But personally, the movie lacks some of that bite from the play. The movie's good, but the play's better.

What's worth checking out?: I'd go with the book.