Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: City Lights (1931)

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City Lights is a 1931 American pre-code silent romantic comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. The film is about Charlie’s Tramp that falls in love with a poor blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) and forms a chaotic friendship with an alcoholic millionaire (Harry Myers).

This is probably one of the funniest, yet sweetest films I have ever seen and definitely my favorite silent one. Charlie, or should I say, Sir Charles Chaplin, is one of the most entertaining not just actors, but people in film history. His clever character that he created after being told his handsomeness wouldn’t make it in comedy, is a true icon, one that most everyone knows, or at least has seen. He is still today a true comedy icon along with Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

This film has been one of my favorites for years now. I have tried watching silent films a long time ago and got instantly bored. Now I have a huge love and appreciation for them and I wish more of today’s people felt the same. This a gem of a film, a true masterpiece, bursting with originality, cleverness, humor and passion.

Charlie goes from funny to mischievous to endearing. Everything he does for the blind girl is so sweet, because it’s all done with love. He doesn’t mind having to face challenges or bump his head to please the girl of his dreams, which makes this film very heartwarming as well as hilarious. It’s full of not just preciousness, but also Charlie’s trademark slapstick humor.

This film soars above the idiotic and crude humor of today’s films. It is one that both children and adults alike will enjoy, although the Millionaire’s drinking problem and Charlie nearly being shot in one scene would have to be explained to small kids. Other than that, this is still a family film. It has quirky humor and a boxing scene  that work well the usual silent film type music. It has only a few words on the screen in certain parts, but has zero dialogue and doesn’t need any to tell the story.

This film is as lovely as it is funny. This is the first movie that I actually cried watching. Charlie plays his sweetest character and does it with charm, cleverness and hilarity. Never do I ever get tired of this film and yes, I still tear up every time. Outstanding, outstanding, outstanding! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Enough with adult humor and sexual innuendos, we need movies like this today. Charlie Chaplin will always be a true star and inspiration, even Scorsese can’t argue with that. 7+ 5/5

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Movie reviews

Why Humor is Necessary in Your Suspense Fiction —

Watching Like a Writer is a movie review series that looks at films from the perspective of a fiction writer, complete with one writing takeaway, and an exercise that will help better your fiction! Review Producer Debra Hill, who passed away in 2005 at age 54, left a legacy of such notable classics as The […]

via Why Humor is Necessary in Your Suspense Fiction —

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: Tootsie (1982)

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Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Bill Murray, Dabney Coleman, Geena Davis, Charles Durning and Doris Belack. The story is about a talented but erratic actor who is forced by his reputation to change his appearance and identity as a woman to land a job.

This film is filled with clever humor mixed with absurdity and some tenderness, with the feel of a classic comedy film like Some Like it Hot. It is one that can make a person laugh every time they watch it, because it’s that darn funny. Dustin Hoffman should have won an Oscar for this film, because he is outstanding as both Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels. No other actor would have come close to being as good as Dustin, he is truly one of the greatest in film history.

Can a middle-aged actor living in New York City find real romance and happiness as an actress? Well, Hoffman does a quite a great job as Dorothy, using an imperfect Southern accent, big “grandma” glasses, long dresses, stockings, lipstick and a short brown curly wig to convince people. I might have thought Dorothy Michaels was actually a woman if I hadn’t known before hand, but that is what makes this film so great. Michael throws fits and has a bad reputation and goes against the roles he is given.

Yes, the “get up” is a bit much, but the character of Dorothy Michaels looks like a man in old lady drag, with Sophia Pertillo’s glasses. The character certainly has the Golden Girl meets drag look nailed. Sure the look could’ve been toned down, but that still doesn’t bring this film any negativity. To me, it just makes the film more original. Michael does become extremely absorbed in Dorothy, taking the character to the extremes by bossing people around on sets, even going on dates with men, knowing that they can’t get further than kissing.

This film has the humor like Some Like it Hot and The Birdcage, but is also more serious when Dorothy and Michael get furious and when Dorothy reveals that she is actually Michael Dorsey by yelling and removing the wig and glasses. It is one of the most famous movie scenes of all time and Dustin Hoffman is absolutely perfect.

What I love about Tootsie is the real versus fake worlds of both of the main characters. Dorothy becomes a celebrity and all for faking it. But in the end, Michael learns that being himself is more important, what a great message. A truly wonderful film. 13+ 5/5

Movie reviews

The Greatest Showman (2017)

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The Greatest Showman is a 2017 American musical film directed by Michael Gracey. It stars Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya. This film follows the story of P.T. Barnum’s creation of Barnum & Bailey and the lives of the circus stars.

This film is filled with fun songs and choreography. Although a few of the songs are repeated throughout the film and a few are a bit cheesy in my opinion, they are all exciting, catchy, and easy to learn and several are accompanied by wonderful dance routines. Every single person in the film is outstanding. They all really bring the story to life.

Although, personally I condemn animal entertainment, so I was hesitant to see this film at first, but I’m very glad I gave in and gave this one a shot, because it is a very good film. It is wildly entertaining, funny at times and romantic. You let out every emotion watching this film. Is it a family movie? Somewhat, it does have kissing, abuse, drinking, some foul language and racism. So, I would say this film is better suited for older kids, because younger ones might get frightened by some of the scenes and/or question some of the subject matter.

Being a huge fan of musicals, I wish I would have been more excited to see this one and concentrate more on the story and singing and dancing, than the animal stuff. Despite all that, I really did enjoy this film a lot. The only negatives I have are, I wish that songs weren’t repeated so much, there was more acting and a few of the songs a little less cheesy.

Is this one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen? Sort of. But it is still a fun-filled film, that any musical lover will enjoy. You never get bored, because you find yourself tapping your feet to the music. The scenery, choreography and costumes and makeup are extraordinary. But this film is quite far from being as good as old musicals like Singin’ in the Rain. It does uphold in bringing a smile at times. You may cry as well during some parts and laugh at other times. Never a dull moment in this entire film. Even the president himself Mr. Trump, enjoyed this film, giving it two thumbs up.

This film would make a great Broadway production, although I can’t see actual animals on stage. Overall this a well done and fascinating picture. 3.5/5

Movie reviews

Crazy, Are All Geniuses?

When we talk about Geniuses in our society, we generally talk about the best of us. The most influential. We typically reserve this prestigious title for people that display exceptional intelligence or skill in a certain field- these are the people that leave a mark from whence they came, the people that elevate their subject […]

via Name a Genius that Ain’t Crazy — The Green Rover

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: Sherlock Jr. (1924)

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Sherlock Jr. is an American silent comedy film directed by and starring Buster Keaton. It also stars Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton and Ward Crane.

The film follows the story of a theater projectionist and janitor (Keaton) that longs to be a detective and tries to put his expertise to work, but is framed by his enemy, the “local sheik” for stealing his girlfriend’s father’s pocketwatch.

Although this film was a box office bomb and received mixed reviews, it is still not just a Keaton or silent film classic, but truly one of the greatest comedies (and films) of all time. I can’t believe that this wonderful film, was deemed so mediocre when it came out. To me, I find it to be clever and funny to the very end. With amazing stunts Keaton was ahead of his time, just like Harold Lloyd in Safety Last!. Yes, there may be a little too much stunts and not enough acting, but that doesn’t detract from the quality of this film.

Truly original and still funny this day in time, it is one that can be watched over and over without getting old, because there is nothing boring at this film. Keaton can sure make anyone laugh, without even cracking a smile. He is truly one of the pioneers of slapstick humor and this film is filled it. No dialogue and the entire film is only 45 minuets long and not a second is wasted. Filled with quick-witted humor and intense stunts, this film stands out amongst the rest in both originality and cleverness. Although this one is short, it feels like it is much longer.

If you want or need a good laugh, this film is the perfect choice. You want be disappointed. Buster Keaton and his father Joe Keaton are outstanding in this film, Kathryn McGuire and Ward Crane are great as well. This one proves that you don’t need talking for a film to be any good, you know what’s going on with just music and no color. Keaton truly shines in this film, showing off his smart humor and brave stunts while engaging in mischief. There is no comedy film today that comes even close to being as spectacular as this one. It doesn’t rely on completely adult subjects to try to gain laughter, it is a good clean and fun film that both adults and older kids can enjoy. 8+ 5/5

Movie reviews

Godard in Space: Alphaville (1965)

Cinematic Scribblings

Street

Leave it to Jean-Luc Godard to make a movie set in outer space that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the average space movie.

Godard’s 1965 film Alphaville, subtitled A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution, takes place in the eponymous metropolis, the capital of a galaxy, at some undefined point in what was then the future. To reach it, secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), a resident of “the Outlands,” must travel through space — by driving a Ford Galaxie, naturally enough. Godard makes no effort to depict this improbable interstellar journey; it’s merely one of the film’s numerous absurdities, perfectly in keeping with its anachronistic protagonist.

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Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: Eyes Without a Face (1960)

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Eyes Without a Face French: Les Yeux sans visage, is a 1960 French horror film adaptation of Jean Redon’s novel, directed by Georges Franju and stars Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli and Edith Scob. The story follows a plastic surgeon who is determined to perform a face transplant on his daughter, who became disfigured after a car accident. The film has caused controversy, disgust and praise for its dark and disturbing, yet creative in its poetic nature.

This film is filled with disturbing scenes and just the pictures from the film are enough to either disgust and disturb or intrigue or just turn someone away altogether. Being a huge fan of these types of films (Bergman, Hitchcock, Carpenter) and seeing clips from an online countdown video, I knew I had to watch it. Did it disturb me? of course it did, but that didn’t stop me from watching it to the end. It is very unsettling and frightening from beginning to end, but very well done in every aspect from Cinematography, to scenery, to acting. Although this film is rather short at one hour and thirty minutes, it feels much longer.

This film has become a true cult classic and an inspiration for both John Carpenter’s Michael Myers mask and the Billy Idol song of the same name. This is also a love or hate film, which I believe is what Franju was going for. The music adds to the darkness and horror of the story and overall film, especially the theme song, that is equally catchy and spine-tingling.

Seeing the main character Christiane Génessier, Doctor Génessier’s daughter, with and without her mask are enough to make anyone scream, like a great horror film does. But it is done so differently, because most thrillers don’t show the main character without their mask, making this one unique. I wouldn’t call this a true gem of a film, but maybe a rough or dirty one, because it’s not perfect, but it is scary and deeply disturbing.

I have never seen anything like this before and I have to praise everyone who worked on this piece, making it a masterpiece in horror film history. I cannot image this film in color, because I believe it would completely destroy the thrill factor, just like if Psycho had been in color. The majority of this takes place at Doctor Génessier’s house and laboratory and it doesn’t need to be anywhere else, because that would take away from the scariness. This isn’t your typical thriller, it is something much more, a tour de force in cinematic history, something that is bold, that leaves a lasting impression in the mind.

Now this is not a film that most people and myself can watch over and over again, which isn’t a bad thing. It is one, that if you’re looking for a good fright, then it’s a perfect pick. With the thrill of a horror movie and the cinematography and feel of both a HM and art film, it truly stands out among the rest. Hands down, one of the best thrillers I’ve ever seen. You can choose to love it or hate it, but it will always have its fans. A truly spectacular work of art. 18+ 4.5/5

Movie reviews

Hostiles (2017)

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Hostiles is a 2017  American Western film written and directed by Scott Cooper. It stars Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster, Stephen Lang, Jesse Plemons and Timothee Chalamet. The story is about a U.S. Cavalry officer that has to lead a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their Montana home in 1892.

Being a huge Western and Christian Bale fan, I couldn’t wait to see this film. This film is not quite as good as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but it is very well done. The film is rather violent and gory, but that’s how it was in the 1890’s. At times I gasped and a few times I looked away from the disturbance. Could this film have been less violent? Yes, but the violence does show audiences about life at that time. Despite how horrific many scenes are, they are portrayed so well, leaving in shock, horror and a bit of a stomach pain.  But this is what the director wanted, he wanted these reactions and feelings.

Every major actor and actress in this film did a great job in their roles. You really could feel the characters’ love, happiness, sadness and anger. This film is quite tragic in many ways. Many people and some horses do die and some very disturbingly, so watch with caution. You get to see how native Americans were treated and you really sympathize with them. To see the mistreatment of these people is awful to watch and hear, but it’s beneficial for the story. You learn how people were killed and abused just for being of a different ethnicity. It was the native Americans’ land first and the Europeans did everything they could to conquer it for themselves.

Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike are outstanding, portraying  their characters so realistically, you forget they are actually British actors. Ben Foster plays his usual Bad guy, but does it very well. Stephen Lang, although his role isn’t very big, does a good, not great job as Colonel Abraham Biggs. Wes Studi is great as Chief Yellow Hawk, although this his usual Native American role. Jesse Plemons, whose character doesn’t speak much, is just okay. Maybe if he had more lines, he would have been better. I can’t say much of Timothee Chalamet as Private Philipe DeJardin, I can’t recall him actually saying a single word in the entire film, which is a bummer because he is an excellent actor. The director should have thought more on Plemons’ and Chalamet’s roles and given Chalamet lines and Plemons a bigger role, because Jesse is a superb actor as well. All of the smaller roles of the native Americans, good and bad, were exceptional.

Overall, this a fine Western compared to the classics (GBU, High Noon etc.). It is not one I could watch over and over like I could one with Clint Eastwood, but it is still one to watch for any Western fan. 18+ 4/5