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All reviews - Movies (149) - DVDs (1)

"It's clean, real clean - like my conscience..."

Posted : 5 years, 3 months ago on 13 April 2013 07:03 (A review of Taxi Driver (1976))

In my opinion, this was the first film to establish Robert Deniro's onscreen persona & his distinctive method of acting that he's known for, even up until to this day.
And that's probably more due to the film's director, Martin Scorcese, and his particular brand of directing. Scorcese really seemed to know when to allow Deniro's mannerisms to freight this portrayal of a cab diver whose loneliness in the vast sea of grime that was '70's era New York City was consuming him to the point of razor-edged madness. 
It was an acting freedom that Scorcese used to maximum effect and which also allowed the supporting roles of Jodie Foster, Cybil Sheperd, Harvey Keitel, Albert Brooks and Peter Boyle to bring the depth of character that they were each able to contribute to the film (particularly, IMO, Foster and Keitel).
While Martin Scorcese is more famous for his movies that delve into the mafia lifestyle, I feel that his talent for depicting the grit of the streets, particularly of this time-period, cannot be understated andd is what really carries the feel and weight of this story.
Taxi Driver is a true staple in the decade of 70's films, and a piece of high quality and expressive cinema that I really enjoy watching over and over again.

And yeah.....
I'm talking to you.

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Where There's a Will...

Posted : 8 years ago on 5 July 2010 06:06 (A review of Good Will Hunting)

Wait, what's this? The usually overblown Mork wins an Oscar for his portrayal of a down to earth South Boston therapist with a sympathetic ear?
Well, how do you like them apples?

And on the other end of the psychiatrist's chair is Will Hunting, a "wicked smaht" young Southie who must come to terms with his past, his brawling behavior, his therapist, his extra-ordinary talent and his tendency to continually talk himself away from responsibility.
And in the process, finds that sometimes, the best way to heal old wounds,
is simply, to go see about a girl.

This was one of those films that really surprised me when I watched it,
not just because it turned out to be my favorite movie of that year, but also one of my favorite top ten films ever.
And if any of you out there reading this can't seem to come eye to eye with my over-all assessment of the high quality of this story, 
fret not.
It's not your fault.

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When a Wiseguy is Still a Goodfella...

Posted : 8 years ago on 5 July 2010 06:05 (A review of GoodFellas (1990))

"You know, we always called each other goodfellas. Like you said to, uh, somebody, 'You're gonna like this guy. He's all right. He's a goodfella. He's one of us. You understand?' We were goodfellas. Wiseguys."

When it comes to gangster movies, you just can't beat this one. based just on its for charismatic energy alone. Goodfellas is my favorite Martin Scorcese film, for several reasons, but one of the main ones being the manner in which he pays close attention to the minute details that the members of a 60's-70's mafia family engage in for the sake of maintaining the lifestyle that they have so become accustomed to. Scorcese manages to utilize his accumulated experience in the way that only an accomplished director can, by progressing the story in a manner that shows how the mafia type of self-contained lifestyle can only eventually crumble in on itself as the "normal" world outside of the Cosa Nostra continually changes and evolves.
What it comes down to is, no matter how much of a goodfella you think you may be, in the end, you will always end up either in prison, getting whacked, or the worst of 'em all, living the rest of your life like a schnook.

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The End Is Nigh

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 11 November 2009 10:07 (A review of Apocalypse Now)

Apocalypse Now is kind of like the "2001: A Space Odyssey" of the war genre in that it's a story of a long, far away journey that culminates into a meeting with a strange godlike figure. And even though you might not know what it all meant, what you <i>do</I> know is that whatever it was, it was pretty damn epic, pretty damn trippy, and in the end,  pretty damn cool.

[img id=6526580 width=500full]

The imagery and the surrealness throughout this film all lead up into a piece of work that could've easily been a number one film fave on any other director's filmography. And yet, for Francis Ford Coppola, the fact that there are still two other movies of his that are (not just in my opinion, but in many others as well) even better than this grand "arty" 'Nam epic (obviously I'm referring The Godfather Parts I and II of course), it is a great testament that the 70's was a period of time that showcased FFC's abilities as that of a great director in his prime.

[img id=1188433 width=500full]

BTW, Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, a documentary that follows the true story of how Apocalypse Now was made, is not only a great companion piece to this film, but a also a great work of cinema in it's own right (definitely worth it's own watch).

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The Pinnacle Of The Force

Posted : 8 years, 8 months ago on 11 November 2009 10:02 (A review of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back)

Sure, there are sci-fi films better written, or with, now much more grander & updated special effects. But other than Star Trek, none have the expansive imagination or have been able to touch the heart of an entire generation of nerds, particularly with such a long lasting impact, as the original Star Wars trilogy.
And while I know that Star Trek has affected more numbers of sci-fi geeks, but, for me, as "big" as their stories & concepts were, they never seemed to go all out with their depictions of aliens races as much as Wars. And as integalactic as they tried to make their stories, I never felt that they were as epic.
For the movie of Empire itself, I agree with the rest of the world that this is the pinnacle of the entire Star Wars franchise, with it's darker tone & cliff-hanger ending within it's still fairytale-like structure. The saga of the intergalactic war between the Empire & the Jedi-led Rebellion hits it stride as Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Princess Leia & the rest of the crew find themselves pursued & cornered by Darth Vader & the forces of the Dark Side.

The Empire Strikes Back came out at a time back when movies would stay in wide release, not for weeks at a time, but for months, and a few of 'em, like this one, for almost a full year.
From my own point of view, I think that, on the majority, audiences today have been so desensitized from so-so blockbusters being released every other week-end or so, that they will never get to fully understand or experience the feeling a big movie-event like Star Wars. The year of Empire was one of my fave summers ever as a kid. It was really cool knowing that I could hop on the city bus at any point during the season & go watch TESB. And every time that I did, the other audience members were just as excited to be seeing this film at the end of the summer as they were at the beginning. Every year that one of the 3 original films was released, you could feel the power of the "Force" within the air, and not just until the next "big" movie came out. You could actually feel it in the air for almost the entire year long. And then some.

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My Li-Oh Frenn Says 'Ello

Posted : 8 years, 10 months ago on 12 September 2009 08:25 (A review of Scarface (1983))

Okay, let's get this part out of the way;
"Say 'ello tu my lil-oh frenn!"
Now, with that most over-used movie-line over & done with,
Scarface is the in-your-face, over-the-top character that will always iconically follow the career of Al Pacino.
The rise & fall of drug kingpin who literally started out nothing & pyrrhically ends up with everything the drug-world has to offer.
One of those rare times for an actor where upon it's over-the-top performance is considered so perfect for the role, that's its almost impossible to imagine it done in any other fashion.
Pacino is brutal, heartless & violent not just the way he handles the character of, but also with the way he handles the Cuban accent (something he does again, but this time with a Puerto rican accent & not with as much of an iconic effect, in 1997's Carlito's Way).
As the movie tagline says: "He loved the American Dream. With a Vengeance."


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The Original Magnificent Seven

Posted : 8 years, 10 months ago on 12 September 2009 08:17 (A review of Seven Samurai)

Considered Akira Kurosawa's most accomplished work, Seven Samurai is a black & white classic whose story has inspired many a film afterwards, most notably (& one of my favorites) the Magnificent Seven.
It's a story of the Old East, which coincidently enough, runs themes which will eventually become staples in movies dealing with the Old West.
Here, the heros are truly heroes, but each is shown as a distinctive individual, with human traits & flaws that allow for the empty space to be felt whenever a warrior falls, in battles that, as the movies states, are never truly won.


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Better Than Going To The Drive-Thru

Posted : 8 years, 10 months ago on 12 September 2009 08:15 (A review of Grindhouse)

Despite Tarantino's sub-par effort on Death Proof, there was still enough in his half (like the car-chase & the first "car-killing" by the "car-killer") that added to the much superior first half, Planet Terror, a zombie-fest by Robert Rodriguez. And while the shlock that comes with most zombie flicks usually puts me off, Robert Rodriguez's style of depicting his half of The Grindhouse as a caricature of a genre that has already gone cartoonishly over the top, makes this a walking undead gore-a-rama that I could not only stomach, but enjoy as well. Coupled with a modern sense of violence that we've all mindlessly grown to love, it's a zombie action flick of an energetic quality that sparked some life into my usually dead reaction to most shambling corpse fare.
So, if you're into chicks with guns, zombie apocalypeses & amputees (& let's be honest.... who isn't?), then this is the zombie flick for you.

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A Prestigious Act

Posted : 8 years, 10 months ago on 12 September 2009 08:12 (A review of The Prestige (2006))

An H.G. Wellsesque type of sci-fi thriller told thru the modern directing & co-writing talents Christopher Nolan.
And while this pic isn't as grand as The Dark Knight, I must admit, I found myself enjoying the story in this one more. For it's premise, The Prestige is overall innovative & cohesively engaging.

A fantasy plot of the age of early 20th century magicks whose complex twists & turns eventually all complete their spiral turns to lead into a surprise climax that the viewer can still satisfyingly comprehend & enjoyably appreciate.
That is, if the proper amount of suspension is applied to one's belief. And when it comes to magic, let's be honest: no matter how physically impossible it may seem, at a certain level, we all want to believe.

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V for Very Good

Posted : 8 years, 10 months ago on 12 September 2009 08:08 (A review of V for Vendetta (2005))

A dystopian british nation must be saved by the tyrannical totalitarian government under which it has become subjected to since a recent nuclear war that has left much of the Earth crippled. And who will act as the people's modern/futuristic Robin Hood, to inspire hope within the masses of a spiritually tattered land of The United kingdom? In this case, it will be the mask vigilante known as "V". And so confident is this anarchist avenger of the masses, that he requires naught but swords to combat gunplay, a name no longer than that of a single letter, and a mask based not on of fear, but one based instead on a visage of a happy but rebellious historical figure.

Alan Moore's storytelling is just so rich in detail, atmosphere & concepts, that it can almost seem impossible to capture even just a sliver of it's essence onto a film adaptation. Therefor, even though this movie quite obviously cannot compare to the comicbook series, just the fact that it was able to retain anything at all from Mr. Moore's work to any kind of degree of consistency to the story
(which, IMO, is the only movie to do so far) is enough to mark it as a success for me.

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