Classic of the Week: Sid and Nancy (1986)

Sid and Nancy is a 1986 British biopic directed by Alex Cox. The film portrays the life of Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman), bassist of the British punk rock band The Sex Pistols and his relationship with his girlfriend Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb). 

The film starts off on October 12, 1978 with police officers dragging Sid Vicious away from the Hotel Chelsea following the death of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Sid is driven to a police station and is asked to describe what happened. The police get angry when Sid is unable to talk. 

A year earlier Sid and band members Johnny Rotten (Andrew Schofield) meet Nancy, a heroin addicted groupie that had traveled to London to try to sleep with the band. Sid rejects her at first, but begins dating her, after rejections from other punk musicians and after she sells him heroin. The two fall in love, but their drug ridden and violent relationship ruins Sid’s relationship with the band, which end up breaking up in January 1978 in the middle of an American tour. 

Sid moves to New York and attempts a solo career with Nancy as his manager. Both are now extremely addicted to heroin and Nancy has become deeply depressed. Sid becomes uninterested sexually in Nancy and wants out of a suicide pact he mad with her. Their relationship ends when Sid tells Nancy during an argument that he’s going to stop using heroin and move back to England to restart his life. Nancy begs him to kill her.  She attacks him, leading him to stab her. They fall asleep and Nancy awakes, stumbles into the bathroom and falls and dies. 

This film, like most biopics, may not be the most accurate telling of this story, but it is still an extremely well done film. The acting is superb, the costuming is fantastic and the music fits perfectly. This one of the most famous tragedies in music history and this film tells it, maybe not exactly true, but very closely. The characters are realistic. Sid and Nancy look like almost identical to the real people.

Gary Oldman does an outstanding job as Sid Vicious and Chloe Webb is great as Nancy Spungen. They have the voices, looks and mannerisms down nearly perfectly. This is definitely one of the best biographical films ever. Not one moment in this film is boring, because you learn so much about this infamouse story. This film says it all: two drug addicted people, one a punk rocker, the other a schizophrenic groupie, whose horribly tragic lives are cut far too short. One of the most disturbing and depressing movies I’ve ever seen, but that it how it is supposed to be. This is an outstanding pic that is sure to shock and disturb anyone watching it from beginning to end. Adults only. 4/5 

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Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

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Bohemian Rhapsody is 2018 biographical film directed by Bryan Singer and is about the British rock band Queen. It follows Freddy’s life leading to their Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium. It stars Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Tom Hollander, Aiden Gillen and Adam Leech.

The film starts out in 1970 with Farrokh Bulsara an Indian-British Parsi college student working as a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. That night he goes to watch a local band called Smile perform at a nightclub. After the show he meets the drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May and offers to replace their singer Tim Staffell, who had just quit the band to join Humpy Bong. They add John Deacon as their bassist and change their name to Queen and play gigs across Britain until they sell their van to produce their first album. They land a contract with EMI Records and Farrokh legally changes his name to Freddy Mercury and gets engaged to Biba store clerk Mary Austin. During the band’s US tour, Freddy starts to question his sexuality.

In 1975, after recording their fourth album, A Night at the Opera, they leave EMI when executive Ray Foster refuses to have the six minute song “Bohemian Rhapsody” as the album’s first single. Freddy has the song played on Capital Radio, where it becomes a huge hit, after mixed reviews. He begins an affair with his personal manager Paul Prenter and comes out to Mary as bisexual and she breaks up with him and assures him that he is gay and that she has known for quite a while.

The film goes on to tell about the band’s success through the 80’s and Freddy’s relationship with Jim Hutton, a waiter at a lavish party he throws at his house in Munich. The press pressure Freddy and the bandmates about his sexuality after the release of their 1982 album Hot Space. After learning about the worldwide AIDS epidemic, Freddy has himself tested and learns he has it. But the band still performs at Live Aid. Mary and Mercury remained close friends until his death.

Although this film has several inaccuracies, it is still outstandingly done from beginning to end. But what biographical film is 100% accurate? The performing and acting is fantastic, everyone perfect for their roles, especially Malek as Mercury. At first, I couldn’t see him as Freddy, but now I do. This is his best performance to date. He has the look, the costumes, expressions, and mannerisms down, the voice needed just a little polishing and it would have been dead on as well.

Lucy Boynton was great as Mary Austin. Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello were equally great as Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon. This film takes you through the life of Freddy’s relationship with both Mary and the band. You learn so much about the early days of Queen up until Freddy’s death, from the most accurate. You learn how Freddy struggled with drugs, alcohol, partying, his sexuality, his chain smoking his relationship with Jim Hutton and longtime affection for Mary Austin.

Although I was too young when Freddy died and wasn’t alive in the yearly days of Queen, I have learned about them and learned to appreciate their music and the impact they still continue to have on the music world (and gay community). Freddy has become an icon and inspiration, one that will live on like many, many others.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I found it extremely entertaining and wonderfully produced, despite the inaccuracies. I hope Rami Malek wins awards for his fantastic work. He is one of the best actors I’ve seen in a long time. I’m glad the director didn’t go with Sacha Baron Cohen, because this is far too serious of a film for him. I find this film too be far too adult for a PG-13 rating. 18+ 4/5

Classic of the Week: Sabrina (1954)

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Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic comedy drama film directed by Billy Wilder and stars Audrey Hepburn, Humphey Bogart and William Holden.

The story is about Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn), the young daughter of the Larrabee’s family chauffeur, who has been in love with David Larrabee (Holden) all her life. David is a frequently married, indolent playboy, crazy for women, who has never noticed Sabrina because she is still a child to him. Sabrina notices David with a woman and becomes sad and jealous. She leaves her father a suicide note, turns on every car in the car in the garage, and tries to kill herself by carbon monoxide poisoning. She is unsuccessful when David’s career obsessed brother Linus (Bogart) steps in and turns off the cars. She doesn’t tell him what she was trying to do. She takes back the suicide note from her father’s room.

After being sent to culinary school in Paris, she returns home an elegant and attractive lady. At a formal party, David notices her, not recognizing it’s Sabrina. He is drawn to her.

Linus fears that David’s marriage is in trouble. Linus tries to trick Sabrina into falling for him. In the process he ends up falling in love with her, knowing she is still in love with David. Knowing this, he buys tickets for a ship to Paris for her and David. But who really shows up?

This is a funny, cute and heartwarming film. Both men fall head over heels for Sabrina after she becomes a lovely sophisticated woman. She has a fondness for both of them, but especially David. She is forced to follow her heart in choosing which one she really and truly loves. Both men are also forced to decide with their hearts who is better for her and loves her more.

Hepburn, Holden and Bogart are fabulous in this film, perfect for their roles. This film will bring smiles, tears and anger, but never is there a dull moment. Unlike other romantic comedies that features two characters in love with the same one, this one isn’t cheesy, no bad acting, corny lines, or sex. It is one that can be watched over and over, always producing sad, angry and happy feelings. Not many romantic films today, can do this, make you feel all those emotions. This is a truly wonderful motion picture, perfect for a date.

This is not a complete family film, because there is some smoking, drinking, mild violence and trying to commit suicide. This is harsh for young children, although they may not understand unless explained. Overall this film is a masterpiece. Wonderful! Just wonderful! 11+ 5/5

100 Best Biographical Films

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  1. The Pianist – 2002
  2. Raging Bull – 1980
  3. Schindler’s List – 1993
  4. Serpico – 1973
  5. Downfall – 2004
  6. Catch Me If You Can – 2002
  7. Braveheart – 1995
  8. A Beautiful Mind – 2001
  9. Lawrence of Arabia – 1962
  10. Goodfellas – 1990
  11. The Social Network – 2010
  12. Dog Day Afternoon – 1975
  13. The Wolf of Wall Street – 2013
  14. Lincoln – 2012
  15. Spotlight – 2015
  16. Gandhi – 1982
  17. The Pursuit of Happyness – 2006
  18. The King’s Speech – 2010
  19. The Message – 1976
  20. Monster – 2003
  21. Cinderella Man – 2005
  22. The Danish Girl – 2015
  23. The Sound of Music – 1965
  24. Hunger – 2008
  25. Milk – 2008
  26. Donnie Brasco – 1997
  27. Sully – 2016
  28. Casino – 1995
  29. Invictus – 2009
  30. Hacksaw Ridge – 2016
  31. Rush – 2013
  32. Moneyball – 2011
  33. Chaplin – 1992
  34. The Imitation Game – 2014
  35. The Hurricane – 1999
  36. The Fighter – 2010
  37. Finding Neverland – 2004
  38. The Insider – 1999
  39. Ed Wood – 1994
  40. The World’s Fastest Indian – 2005
  41. Close-Up – 1990
  42. Into the Wild – 2007
  43. Black Mass – 2015
  44. Saving Mr. Banks – 2013
  45. Ray – 2004
  46. Dallas Buyers Club – 2013
  47. The Lion in Winter – 1968
  48. Trumbo – 2015
  49. Ip Man – 2008
  50. Changeling – 2008
  51. Amadeus – 1984
  52. In Cold Blood – 1967
  53. The Last Emperor – 1987
  54. Awakenings – 1990
  55. Patton – 1970
  56. The Theory of Everything – 2014
  57. Public Enemies – 2009
  58. Capote – 2005
  59. Walk the Line – 2005
  60. La Vie en Rose – 2007
  61. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – 2007
  62. Lenny – 1974
  63. Escape from Alcatraz – 1979
  64. The Great Escape – 1963
  65. Shine – 1996
  66. Birdman of Alcatraz – 1962
  67. Out of Africa – 1985
  68. Elizabeth – 1995
  69. Foxcatcher – 2014
  70. Viva Zapata! – 1952
  71. My Left Foot – 1989
  72. Lion – 2016
  73. Bonnie and Clyde – 1967
  74. In the Name of the Father – 1993
  75. Captain Phillips – 2013
  76. 12 Years a Slave – 2013
  77. The Aviator – 2004
  78. The Straight Story – 1999
  79. 127 Hours – 2010
  80. American Sniper – 2014
  81. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – 2007
  82. The General – 1998
  83. American Gangster – 2007
  84. I, Tonya – 2017
  85. The Disaster Artist – 2017
  86. Darkest Hour – 2017
  87. Man on the Moon – 1999
  88. Rembetiko – 1983
  89. Blow – 2001
  90. Hotel Rwanda – 2004
  91. The People vs. Larry Flint – 1996
  92. Fearless – 2006
  93. The U.S. vs. John Lennon – 2006
  94. The Last King of Scotland – 2006
  95. The Queen – 2006
  96. Malcolm X – 1992
  97. Antwone Fisher – 2002
  98. Beuna Vista Social Club – 1999
  99. The Pride of the Yankees – 1942
  100. Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser -1989

Classic of the Week: Psycho (1960)

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Psycho is a 1960 psychological horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam. It is based off the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The story is about an encounter between secretary that ends up at a lonely motel after stealing money from her boss and the motel’s owner and manager and its aftermath.

A true classic, this film has stood the test of time and still manages to scare people today, just like it did then. This film is scary, twisted, evil and disturbing, but also outstanding. Anthony Perkins makes Norman Bates the motel owner, one of the most famous and most frightening characters in film history and he is the best Norman. Vince Vaughn has nothing on him and Freddie Highmore was good, but not Perkins good.

The famous shower scene is done excellently, causing viewers to feel uneasy. It seems so realistic, that it’s hard to believe it’s not real. Although this scene helped to make this a very controversial film, it is still an eerie work of art. It scares you every time, which is what makes it special.

Everything about this film is extraordinary, light years ahead of its time. It came out when horror films seemed to be mostly murder mysteries and monsters, although Bates himself is a monster. Just the book alone is a bit disturbing, but the film is even more so.

From a fairly crazy woman, to a psychotic guy, to her death and the mystery of who killed her, this film takes you on a crazy ride. It can leave you wanting to leave all your lights on, closing your curtains, locking your doors and sleeping with one eye open. This is a film that you probably shouldn’t watch at night alone. Even after nearly sixty years, this film has never failed to frighten. 18+ 5/5

Book Club (2018)

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Book Club is a 2018 American romantic comedy film directed by Bill Holderman in his directorial debut. It stars Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen and Andy Garcia. The story follows four women that have attended a monthly book club for over thirty years, where they share their love of books and choose what to read next. One of the women suggests that they read Fifty Shades of Grey. The women shocked and awed by the content of the book.

This is a cute and fun film that mostly women will enjoy. It has four of the very best actresses that always know how to you laugh. Each character is unique, but also alike in their love for literature, wine and friendship. This film shows that friends are important and love is possible at any age. It is filled with wine, friends, romance, sex and Fifty Shades of Grey. 

Every actress is fabulous in their roles and Andy Garcia does fine in his role as well. This film will make you laugh out loud, cry and just want to say aloud, “awkward!” at times, which makes it even better. This is not one of the best rom-coms I’ve ever seen, but it’s not plain awful either. It is very entertaining, never boring and is something that you can watch when you’re down in the dumps.

Yes, this is pretty much a woman’s film, although directed by a man. It has the feel of both a Nora Ephron and Garry Marshall picture, who are known for chick flicks like these. If you’re a lady needing a good laugh or cry, or both, then this is the perfect film. It’s not outstanding, but will make you feel better after watching it. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, although it is more targeted at older women.

Next time you’re with your girlfriends or sister(s), choose this film and you won’t regret it. 13+ 3.5/5

Classic of the Week: Suspiria (1977)

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Suspiria is a 1977 Italian supernatural horror film directed by Dario Argento and starring Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bose, Alida  Valli, Udo Kier and Joan Bennett in her last film role.

The story is about Suzy Bannion, an American ballet student, that arrives in Munich to study at the Tanz Dance Academy in Freiburg. On her way to the school, she sees another student, Patricia Hingle running in terror. At first Suzy is denied entrance into the school, so she starts toward town. On her way she sees a troubled Patricia running fast through the woods. Patricia hides at a friend’s apartment, where she spills she has found something horrifying hidden in the school. She locks herself in the bathroom, only to be grabbed by an unseen devilish person and stabbed to death. Suzy discovers many dark secrets about the school and witnesses a friend’s death and coming back to life.

This is truly a twisted, disturbing, scary and bizarre film. It has the feel of a Stephen King book, a horror movie and an art film. The acting is outstanding, but some of the effects are bad, like the deaths, you can tell it’s not really blood, because it looks like red paint. But I guess this is what you get without a high budget. Although the blood is unrealistic, just what happens to each character that dies, is unsettling enough to make up for it. Also, the fact you never see the killer or killers, adds to the terror of this film.

The building of the suspenseful music in the awful scenes, makes the film more disturbing. The boarding school is very strange and makes you pay for pretty much everything. It is bizarrely decorated. The teachers and headmistress are mean and actually witches. Not knowing what will happen next, makes this a film you won’t want to watch at night by yourself, especially if you’re home alone. This is not the kind of movie you’ll want to watch over and over again.

Is this the best horror film I’ve ever seen? no, but it’s definitely not the worst. It does have its good and bad things about it, but it’s not one I’m dying to buy. Maybe if this film hadn’t been so bizarre or disturbing, I would have liked it more. But overall it’s just a pretty good film and nothing more. 18+ 3.5/5

I Feel Pretty (2018)

 

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I Feel Pretty is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein and stars Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski, Rory Scovel, Aidy Bryant, Busy Philipps, Tom Hopper, Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton. The story is about an insecure woman, that after suffering a head injury, gains self confidence in the way she looks.

Amy Schumer isn’t the best actress, in fact, I think she’s rather terrible and should just stick to stand up, because she can be very funny. Not a single person in this film was even close to being great, but I wasn’t expecting any Oscar worthy performances. Although this film has received backlash, it does have a really good message about being happy, loving yourself the way you are and not being someone you’re not. I can see this as a story of female empowerment as well as romance, because she does find love.

This film has the feel of a bad Judd Apatow rom-com, with the same kind of script he’d write. Even though this film has a positive message, it doesn’t make up for the horrible acting. Michelle Williams is normally a great actress, but she shot herself in the foot big time when she took on this role. Putting supermodels like Emily Ratajkowski, Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton as actresses, didn’t help in the acting department, because none of them have much acting experience, if any.

Throwing in another stand up comedian, Rory Scovel, didn’t help the acting either, but at least his character was mild, not over the top like Schumer’s and he was super sweet and caring. He loved Renee (Schumer) just as she was. He and the message were the best things about this film. I loved his character, but only liked hers. If she wouldn’t have been so over the top, I would have loved her, or at least liked her more. But that’s Amy Schumer for you, she can be a bit too much at times. I do like that she eventually calms down, comes to her senses and sends a positive image.

Overall, this film wasn’t outstanding, but it was entertaining. I didn’t love, but didn’t hate it either. 13+ 3/5

Classic of the Week: The Cat from Outer Space (1978)

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The Cat from Outer Space is a 1978 science fiction film directed by Norman Tokar and starring Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan, Harry Morgan, Ronnie Schell, Roddy McDowall and McLean Stevenson. The film was produced by Walt Disney Studios.

The story follows an unidentified flying object that makes a landing on Earth and is taken into protection by The a United States Government. The inhabitant of the UFO is a cat like alien named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7. Because the Mother Ship cannot send for a helping team, before it leaves the solar system, the cat decides to research how to repair the ship himself. Using a collar that is special and amplifies telekinetic and telepathic powers, he follows the military to the Energy Research Laboratory, where they want to learn how the UFO’s power source works.

This is quite a strange children’s film, very different from other classic live action Disney productions. It is one that young children may find a bit scary. It is not one of Disney’s best science fiction pictures, but it’s not plain awful either. I enjoyed this film a lot when I was a kid and still do, although it is such a silly story, with pretty bad effects.

The acting is not that great, but what do you expect from a film like this? It is still very fun, yet strange at the same time. I remember watching this on TV when Disney Channel did Vault Disney late at night, when I was allowed to stay up late. Is this a Disney movie I could watch over and over without getting tired of it? No, but when I do watch as an adult, I still enjoy it just as much as I did when I was a kid.

This is quite a good film, but not nearly as good as other Disney sci-fi films like Flight of the Navigator and Escape to Witch Mountain. This one is still very entertaining. It is a bit cheesy, but not Mystery Science Theater cheesy, but just enough to intrigue older children and adults. 8+ 3.5/5

La Vie en rose (2007)

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La Vie en rose is a 2007 French biographical musical film about the life of singer Édith Piaf. It was directed by Olivier Dahan and starred Marion Cotillard as Piaf. The film begins with segments from Edith’s childhood and ends with circumstances surrounding her death.

Piaf was and has become of the most celebrated singers of all time. She is known for her torch ballads about love, loss and sadness. Her most well known songs are, Le Vie en rose, Non je ne regrette rien, Hymne à l’amour, La Foule, L’Accordéoniste, Padam, Padam… 

Although, most of the songs weren’t sung by Cotillard, she did wonderfully as Piaf. I can’t think of anyone else that would have come even close to the Édith-ness as her. Marion had the look and mannerisms down perfectly. If you’ve actually seen videos or documentaries on Piaf, you’d agree. I just wish Marion could’ve have had the singing part down too, but not every actor or actress is musically gifted. She brings back one of the most well known and extraordinary, yet tragic French singers of all time. We get to learn about the life of Édith from childhood to her devastating death.

Gerard Depardieu is also great as Louis Leplée, the French nightclub owner who discovered Édith in Paris on a street corner. Jean Pierre Martins does a fine job as Marcel Cerdan, who was a French Pied-Noir world boxing champion. Marie Armelle Deguy does a fairly good job as Marguerite Monnot, a French songwriter and composer, who wrote many of Édith’s songs. Caroline Sihol is really good as German singer and actress Marlene Dietrich.

If you don’t know much or anything about Édith Piaf and want to, then watch this film, because you learn so much about her, also her family, friends and the people she worked with. She was a remarkable woman, struck by tragedy, that ended her life too soon, but she left behind a legacy, becoming an inspiration, not just for other French singers like Carla Bruni and Serge Gainsbourg, but singers around the world. Her music is still enjoyed to this day. La Vie en rose is sung by Lady Gaga’s character in the 2018 A Star is Born and Non je ne regrette rien was used in a 2016 commercial for Dove Chocolate.

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful film. I learned so much about Édith Piaf, that I found it fascinating. A stunning, yet depressing story, about one of the most beautiful, not just French voices, but voices ever. I loved it from beginning to end. 13+ 4.5/5