Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Batman - Why I will always love this version the most.

I will never forget the day this film came into my life, and changed it forever. While I was a toddler I don't recall much, but I will always remember the first scene I ever saw from this movie. I was two years old, still living in the UK at this point, and not much mattered to me besides The Sound of Music and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember walking into the living room and seeing my older brother laying on the couch and watching this peculiar film. Some weird looking dude was on the screen wearing an odd hat and some really mean woman threw water on his face. HE BEGAN TO MELT!!! What kind of woman would do that? So glad she wasn't my mum...then next think you he turns around and takes his hands away from his face and says 'BOO' and cackles so loud. That scene scared me so much, I ran upstairs and hid in my bed. Batman changed my life and made me a superhero freak from that moment on. I remember growing up and watching this film A LOT.  I would rent this every chance I got, and it was always shown on TV a lot, so I would make sure I would watch it, regardless of how many ad breaks there were. Batman just put me in another world, it is something I still cant find enough words to explain. And for some strange reason it made me feel safe.

As I grew older and really dug myself deep into the Batman Legacy by reading the comics religiously, and exposing myself to the Batman: Animated Series, I found a new appreciation for the film. I stopped seeing it as just a superhero film. I started to see it with a lot more depth. And I really started to understand the themes that were in this. This is problem nowadays when you try and get people to watch this film. While it was made in 1989, it doesn't make the film 'old' or 'camp'. People today are so spoilt with what is available to them in terms of Special FX, that they are not willing to look at a film like Batman and see a masterpiece. Instead they decide not to ACTUALLY watch it but listen to the haters and the critics who would prefer a new Batman film which in MY OPINION is too far away from the actual source material. 

The best Batman ever to be portrayed on screen besides Adam West is Michael Keaton. A lot of people were not happy that he got cast as Batman, because people were so used to the comedies he had been in and were not sure if he could portray a serious and brooding character like Batman. But he did it with ease. You can see the turmoil in his eyes. You can see he has gone through some rough times emotionally, and he has a hard time connecting with anyone besides Alfred. While he may appear to be confident to the public eye, not many people can really make a crack in his psyche. But Vicki Vale slowly starts to seep into his mind, and he tries telling her who he is, with great difficulty. The perfect scene to explain that was when Bruce goes to Vicki Vale's apartment and tries to tell her he is Batman. And he is trying to discuss what every day people do in their life, and he tries to convey that his every day life is far from normal. It's a great scene because you get to see Bruce struggle with his duality of his two identities. What I love about this Batman movie, is that it is ABOUT Batman. It doesn't just concentrate on the villain. It shows you what Bruce Wayne is really about and it in my opinion is the most honest portrayal of the comics on a live action screen. 

What can you say about such a flawless interpretation of The Joker? Jack Nicholson seems to have taken the time to research The Joker and just brings the comic book character to life. He portrayed it so well, it seemed almost natural. It is really awesome to see the progression of his character throughout the whole film. At the beginning we just see him as a mobster really and then when he falls into the vat of chemicals, he just becomes unhinged and totally unpredictable. This is why I love his interpretation of The Joker the most. Sure The Joker is a disgusting waste of life, and he knows that, but why not class it up? He does this with his outrageous schemes, his amazing outfits and his wit. But while he does have an extremely comical side to him, he is a vile creature. And he has had that creature inside of him, long before he fell into the vat of chemicals. It's just now he can unleash it upon everyone, whenever he chooses. One of the main elements you could say about him, is that he is unpredictable to the max. There are several scenes that convey this and I will like to share a couple of them with you. 

Here we have Batman foiling The Joker's plot, and as you can imagine, there is a huge annoyance boiling inside of The Joker. So what does he do? He shoots his 'Number one guy'. Bob was pretty much the 2IC in his gang, and because The Joker is feeling slightly defeated he shoots Bob. But what is great about the scene, is that you don't suspect that The Joker is ACTUALLY going to kill Bob. That is how unpredictability is done. 

Now I know The Joker can be violent when it comes to being unpredictable. But he also possesses a warped humour even in the most serious of times. And that really adds to his unpredictable personality. What I love about this scene, is that even though Batman is kicking the shit out of him, he still manages to try and see the humour in the seriousness of what is actually happening. Perfect example is when The Joker is putting on the glasses after being roughed up by Batman and he says 'You wouldn't hit a guy with glasses now would ya?'

People seem to think that The Joker is unpredictable because he is violent. Now while that is true, he is unpredictable with his humour, and with his reasoning on any situation. A lot of people think that The Joker is just this bat shit crazy guy who is extremely violent. That is true, but at the same time, he is very in control of what he is doing and very calculating. I thought Jack Nicholson's portrayal showed that. 

I really love Kim Basinger's portrayal of Vicki Vale, because she is very genuine. While she is a photo journalist, and always persistent in getting the best photos, she is also persistent in trying to crack open the tomb that surrounds Bruce Wayne's heart. And she really gets in there and shows him a soft and genuine side to her that not everyone sees. I think what stuns him more than anything, that she can see right through him. He may be very wealthy and have everything at his fingertips, but she notices he wants more substance in his life. At the end of the film she knows that Bruce is Batman, and she doesn't try to change that. She understands this is what he needs to do, to feel he is making a difference. Vicki doesn't come between that, she accepts him for who he is. What a good sport right? How many chicks out there would want to date Bruce Wayne, knowing he may have to take a hefty beating with some of the crew from the Rogues Gallery from time to time? Not many. 

I think this picture says it all. That is how Gotham City should look. It is dark, it is smokey, it is just a world of it's own. This is how Gotham looks in the comics, in my opinion. While the buildings are so beautifully sculptured and designed, there is just a scummy finish on them. What once was beautiful is now tarnished by vile criminals which essentially run the city. It has a gothic feel to it, and it conveys the darkness and mysteriousness of Gotham City. Gotham is in it's own little world. It is as if Gotham is in a snow globe but instead of snow being there, its black ink. I can't describe it any more simpler or better than that.

Danny Elfman's score in this is pure heaven. I just love everything about it. It has so much character, and each musical piece really adds to the emotion of every scene. Elfman totally got it right in terms of getting the Batman theme 100% spot on. Here, just listen to the Batman theme from the opening credits of the film. It is just out of this world!

There are so many great elements that could be said about this film. But if I kept on going, this article would be so damn long, and you would be reading about Batman for about a month or so. That is how much I love this film. It is a film that has been with me nearly all my life, and I love how it makes me feel, every time I watch it. I don't think it's campy or silly. It is a very dark film, which I believe needs to be given more credit. I have found that a lot of people forget this film because newer versions have come along. Sure the newer films are bigger budget and better quality in terms of what they can do on film, that they couldn't do in the 1989. But having said that, it doesn't make this film less relevant to what it did for the Batman legacy. 

I would have to say hands down my favourite scene in this film, is when The Joker and his gang go into the museum and just trash all the art work, with Prince's song 'Party Man' playing in the background. It is just so fun, and it captures The Joker's hilarious side perfectly. The Joker is pretty much saying 'Fuck you and your art', its pure genius. 

Tim Burton did such an excellent job with this film He cast the right people to all come together and create something so different and he managed to keep Gotham City in a fantasy and he brought so much of his imagination to the table, and so did everyone else who worked behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Burton really captured the essence of the comics, and brought it to life on the big screen. If you haven't ever seen this film or if it's been so long since you have seen it, I think it's time you purchased it and enjoyed its awesomeness. I know I say this a lot, but please do not listen to the haters. Don't think about it, just watch it for all the beautiful elements it possesses. While this film is quite dark and at times scummy it does possess a little elegance in certain scenes and in the setting and also the way it is shot. For a film to have these completely opposite elements, and then have them come together so naturally, is so damn hard to do in film. Burton executed everything in this film, so damn perfectly. Sure this version of the Batman legacy may not speak to everyone but you cannot deny the greatness of the personality that this film has. Not many super hero films will stand up after twenty years or more. But Batman will. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.

This is definitely a film which shouldn't fire you up, but it should hit you like a tonne of bricks. There are so many films that I have reviewed which have not had a 100% serious tone all the way through, but The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, is an emotional train wreck. This isn't something that you can watch over and over again. I have seen this film three times now, and each time I have watched this, it makes me feel dirty and vile. Why? Because you see this drugged up and fucked up single mother disrespecting herself but also her son. For the most part she doesn't care what really happens to him, but at the same time, she gets constantly used and abused and in the end she has no one...but her young son. 

So here's the run down. Asia Argento portrays Sarah who just possesses everything that is wrong with the world. She gave birth to a son called Jeremiah but he was taken to live with foster parents. But now she has him back. So while Sarah is off screwing a guy she barely knows, Jeremiah is just trying to work out what is going on in his life with his 23 year old mother. He doesn't understand it, but it starts to take over his life and he seems to think that is the norm, and he does begin to adjust to it. So in other words it's a disgusting mother and son journey which at the end will leave you right back where you started at the beginning of the film. While this film doesn't achieve the normal standards in terms of an ending of a film, it just makes you think. It makes you think, what the hell is going to happen to this kid when he gets older. How is all of this going to affect him? As much as I hate his mother, there are small times where you can see this conflicted young woman who wouldn't have turned out this way if it wasn't for her extremely religious upbringing which turned her to drugs. 

Asia Argento is beyond vile in this film. And that is exactly how we are supposed to see her. Her character Sarah grew up in an extremely religious house, it kinda remind's me of the Westboro Baptist Church. Obviously she gave birth to Jeremiah when she was a teenager, and wasn't able to look after him. When she eventually gets Jeremiah back from the foster family she just unbalances everything her son knows about life. She is extremely erratic because of the drug and alcohol abuse. She has extremely clouded judgement when it comes to men. She gets into relationships with men who clearly just see her for sex and they mistreat her and Jeremiah. When all her relationships end, she instantly blames Jeremiah, she doesn't even bother to look at the disgusting person she has become over the years because of all the substance abuse. Now as much as I hate her character in this film there are small moments where Sarah legitimately shows affection to her son. She knows after all the men who treat her horribly she only has one person left in her life who loves her and that is Jeremiah. There are moments where you see a tiny connection between them, and it can look extremely simple yet sweet. But then a tidal wave of depravity and viciousness washes over those sweet moments, and you remember why you hate her so much. She constantly lies to Jeremiah to make him think she is the only person he can truly depend on. 

The story of Jeremiah is a sad one. He lived with his foster parents who truly loved and made him feel appreciated and didn't seem to mistreat him. All that love was shattered when his real mum came and took him back into her loathsome life. During the first half of the film you can see he is unsure on how to act around his mother because she is so hot and cold with him. But he realises how she wants him to be, and at times he just goes along with it, because it is the only thing that protects him from her wrath. From a young age he has seen a lot, and while he still maintains an innocence about him, it is frightening to think how he may turn out to be. At the beginning of the film you see this little boy who just doesn't understand and agree to what his mother is doing and what she is putting him through. But at the end of the film, it's obvious he loves her and hates her and needs her in his life as much as she needs him. 

Asia Argento did a great job with not only portraying Sarah, but also writing the screenplay and directing this film. She really makes it clear of what kind of disgusting people are out there, and how we stand idly by and let them get away with the things they do. Argento delves into a lot of issues in this film, and I am not going to lie, by the end of it, you will feel drained, and you may feel a bit disgusted and down. It hits you like a tonne of bricks, because of the honesty and brutality of life, that some have to endure more than others.  If you watch this film and don't like it, because of the graphic content and find that too hard to watch, then that is understandable. But if you do not like this film for trivial reasons or plot holes or finding certain issues of this film unbelievable. Then you need to get out into the real world and ACTUALLY open your eyes. I am not saying that this film is the be all and end all of brutally honest films, because it isn't. But it is certainly an underrated piece of cinema, which deserves to be looked at with a clear and open mind. 

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, is a film I have tried to get people to watch many times. I have told quite a few people about it, and they have given me several reasons why they don't want to watch. The main one is that Asia Argento is 'riding the coat tails' of what her dad has achieved in cinema and trying to copy what he has done. Firstly Dario Argento is a master of the Giallo genre. But Asia has branched off and done her own thing with this film. Sure it portrays horror, but not what the average film goer thinks horror is. This film portrays real life horror, the things we have to endure every single day. This is about the people who are in bad situations, they are so deep into these disgusting and horrible things, that they cannot drag themselves out of. That in some ways can possess more 'horror' than any Giallo film. Another reason is when I have showed people the cover of the DVD they say, 'oh that looks shit'. We are all guilty of doing that, but I think we need to stop doing that especially when it is clearly something we haven't heard anything about. 

Go into this film with an open mind and watch it for the dirtiness that it is. This film isn't meant to entertain you the same way a run of the mill Hollywood blockbuster does. If anything this film should make you question why we do these vile things to each other, and in the end what do we achieve from it? 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rebecca. An underrated gem.

When you mention Hitchcock, most people would think of masterpieces such as Psycho, Rear Window, North by Northwest and Vertigo. But Hitchcock has made a lot of underrated masterpieces such as Frenzy, Shadow of a Doubt, and my personal favourite Rebecca. Rebecca is a film that intrigued me from the get go. It is so eerie and creepy and it really gets under your skin. There have been several different versions of the Daphne Du Maurier classic novel, but Hitchcocks's version will always be by far the best. You see two different worlds collide between two people, and how the dark infests into the light, and makes our protagonist lose her innocence. 

Here's a quick run down. Joan Fontaine plays the second Mrs De Winter, a naive young woman who has a whirlwind romance and marriage with Laurence 'DREAMBOAT' Olivier aka Maxim De Winter. They return to his manor where he grew up called Manderly, and while all the housekeeping staff welcome Mrs De Winter with open arms, only one makes it clear she doesn't care for her...DUN DUN DUN....Mrs Danvers. She just has these dark eyes which pierce through you and make you feel quite uneasy. She likes to instil fear into people and she succeeds with Mrs De Winter. While the second Mrs De Winter is trying to settle into Manderly she has noticed there is a lot of secrecy in regards to the Rebecca De Winter's death who was the first wife of Maxim. The film pretty much revolves around the secrecy and the uneasiness of the matter. 

Joan Fontaine plays Mrs De Winter with such grace and innocence. She is very much a woman on inside but seems to struggles with her sexuality and identity and comes across as a young girl. All she wants is to be loved by her husband and not have to worry about what anyone else thinks about their marriage. But in the back of her mind all she can think about is whether or not people will like her and accept her as much as Rebecca. As the film progresses she does become stronger as a woman. She is still quite vulnerable and when she finds out the truth about what happened to Rebecca from her husband, in some strange way it actually brings them closer. As she gets more and more closer to finding out the truth behind everything she loses that innocence and then she realises how dark and brutal life can really be. You can also see the change in her with just by looking into her eyes. When she finds out the truth about Rebecca, her child like quality disappears. 

Laurence Olivier is flawless in this film, what am I saying he is flawless in EVERYTHING. What I dig about his role as Mr De Winter is that while he has that strong exterior and gives people the tough love routine, he is quite the softy. As the film progresses we see him slowly broken down. As a viewer we are lead to believe he is just so heartbroken because of his first wife's death. But as it unravels it isn't a heartbreak that he is trying to repair. It's his life. Every day he is reminded of what happened to her, and he knows the truth, and he is sick of Rebecca's legacy still being active at Manderly. 

And here we have Mrs Danvers who is portrayed by Judith Anderson. This is the only role I can remember seeing her in, and man does she nail it. She is stern, and is very emotionless in her expression, her mannerisms and also her tone of voice. Her eyes are just so dead. That is the first thing I always notice about her whenever I watch it. When we are first introduced to her, we just think she is a very stern person who can make you feel on edge, but as the film progresses she will make your skin crawl. You will see her slowly slip into a slight madness at times because of her love for Rebecca. And then more of our story is revealed on how much of a hold Rebecca's legacy has over Mrs Danvers. It is kind of creepy, and I think it remind's me of Single White Female...kind of. While those two films couldn't be more different, just the obsession side of those movies make me feel uncomfortable. 

I am struggling a little to write this review, not because I don't have any information on the film, because there is plenty. BUT! This is one film I really do not want to spoil for anyone, because watching it for the first time is one hell of an experience. I had seen a lot of other Hitchcock films before I saw this one, and they are in a lot of cases more violent than Rebecca. While all his other movies are great in terms of suspense, violence, direction, diagloue, Rebecca is just in a different league. It isn't a visually violent film, it just eerie and creepy all the way through. Even though there are several light hearted moments in the film, which do relax you for a little while, you cannot forget the suspense and secrecy which revolves around this film. The dialogue between the characters is extremely well written, very simple and you can work out so much about these characters with such very little dialogue. It's all about what you see in terms of their body language, the way they look at one another, their eyes, EVERYTHING. Now I know I concentrate a lot on these kind of elements when I review a film, because they are extremely important, and people tend to look past them. And tend to review the more obvious elements about a movie. 

Rebecca is a film you all need to see and experience. This is my favourite Hitchcock film because while you do not see any violent acts in this, it is all left up to your imagination and at times that can be just as dark as the most visually violent film. I also believe if this film was not shot in black and white, the eeriness surrounding the story wouldn't have been half as successful. This isn't a horror film, but it has a tonne more suspense than a lot of horror and thriller films made today, and a lot of film makers should really take note of this. Don't get turned off this film because it isn't violent like Psycho or Frenzy, because they are totally different movies to Rebecca. And just because this seems to be the lesser known of Hitchcock's films, does not mean it's not as good. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Goodfellas = Best Gangster film of all time!

What do you think is the greatest gangster film ever made? I know a lot of people would pick The Godfather. I love the Godfather franchise. And there have been plenty of other gangster films that have been made since, which are just as good. Mobsters, Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables, Eastern Promises, Donnie Brasco, Gangster Squad, Infernal Affairs, are just a few of these films which all possess a certain individual quality which make them fantastic in their own way. But the one that stands out above the rest is Goodfellas. This is a film I watch at least once a week. No matter how many times I watch it, I just fall more and more in love with it. This is my favourite gangster film because I believe the story behind Henry Hill is extremely gritty and that is portrayed perfectly on screen. Now I do love how the Godfather movies are romanticised and the story slowly unfolds with great dialogue and direction. But Goodfellas is fast paced, and every scene is relevant and gets straight to the point. It grabs you by the balls and takes you on the fastest rollercoaster you can imagine, and while you are venturing into the unknown, you love every surprise that is thrown at you. 

I think the story of Henry Hill is very interesting, and watching documentaries and interviews of him, have been a real eye opener. It is awesome being able to see the real face of Henry Hill and how these experiences shaped him as a gangster and as a man. Ray Liotta really captured this man's personality on screen perfectly. While he was involved with the mob, he wasn't stupid, regardless of how much cocaine he was putting up his nose. He was very clever and very cautious, and I think in some ways that is how he managed to escape anyone's major wrath. I thought Liotta's portrayal of Hill's downward spiral was intriguing and brilliant. Here you see a man who is young, has connections, is successful and from the outside he seems like he has it all together. But like every mob story, you get too deep, one way or another and then the downfall begins. And in Hill's case the drugs whether he was taking them or selling them in prison were his major downfall. You can also see how dead inside Hill appears, just by his body language. When he was successful and respected he had confidence in his walk and the way he interacted with everyone. But as the respect dies you could see his confidence drift away and it was replaced with paranoia. 

Robert De Niro's portrayal of Jimmy Conway was a damn interesting portrayal. Why? Because at the beginning of this film, he is such a likeable guy. Sure he is a tiny bit of a hot head, but you like his charm. But as the film progresses and these goodfellas get deeper into this mob life, you see him slowly change. It isn't really noticeable the first time you watch it. But with more viewings you see him slowly progress into this character which you don't like, and you see his vile side slowly unleash. I think it was clever direction from Scorsese as well as perfect acting from De Niro to make you like a character and then have your opinion drastically change within several scenes. That is effective, and you have to be a great director and actor to achieve that with your audience. 

I really enjoy this scene because not only do we see Henry at his weakest but now he really realises what kind of vile shark Jimmy is. And while he may have been fucked up because of the cocaine, he realises if he doesn't rat on Jimmy he will be dead. End of story. 

There will never be enough words that can describe just how fucking amazing Joe Pesci's portrayal of Tommy DeVito is. He is a god damn hot head, he is a rabid dog, he just has so many awful qualities about himself, which can't help but find entertaining and intriguing. While he does have brains, at times he loses sight of that and lets his anger and rage boil over into voice of reason, and does things, he knows he will probably regret later. Whether he admits that to anyone else is another matter though. When you have a character like Tommy in any gangster film, you know what is going to happen to them, because they are a liability. Sure they are great to have around for a while, but when they start to cause trouble to the point you cannot control their actions, and their actions can affect you, what do you do? YOU GOTTA GET THEM WHACKED. Joe Pesci is entertaining as fuck in this film, but you do see the natural progression of this film and his character and as much as you want to see him still on screen, he has to be killed off. I do not think anyone can top this performance in terms of 'hot head' characters. Joe Pesci is the ultimate hot head, whether the films are gangster related or comedy. He plays that part beautifully. 

This is hands down my favourite scene in the whole film. It really shows off Joe Pesci's acting chops. He really portrays Tommy DeVito as aggressive and extremely unpredictable. I could just imagine how the tension would make anyone's skin crawl and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Even though Pesci is a little guy, his attitude as DeVito just gets everyone's attention and makes him become larger than life. 

One of the most important things I found really added to the mood of the film, was the music that was chosen for certain scenes. I think in terms of choosing music for a movie, Scorsese is one of the best, no question. The song 'Rags to Riches' by Tony Bennett really sets the tone for the film. Because we see the early life of Henry Hill and how he got involved with gangsters from such an early age, and how this is who he wanted to be. He looked up to these men, and he believes if he was like them, he would be successful, envied and most of all respected. I thought another great use of music was used when all the dead bodies turn up in different places as the song 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominos is playing. It just seems like odd music to put with such morbid scenes, but man it works so well with the visuals. But my favourite use of the music is 'Jump into the Fire' by Harry Nilsson, as Henry is going on his crazy, paranoid road trip around the city, trying to avoid the helicopter he believes is following him. 

Another of my favourite scenes is when Henry is out on bail and he is looking for the drugs that Karen flushed down the toilet before the police raided their house. Those drugs were worth a lot of money and really was the only thing that could get them out of a slump financially. And in this scene you see Henry and Karen yelling at one another, before finally crying in defeat. Here we see them at their most weakest and pathetic point in their lives. But regardless of every shitty thing that Henry has done, Karen is still there and if his life is crumbling, she will be by his side. They collapse on the floor together and just hold each other. No one cares about them now, all they have is each other. I tried finding a decent video of this scene but alas, I got nothing. But I am sure all you Goodfellas fans know which scene I am talking about and how powerful it is. 

Goodfellas is a powerful piece of cinema, and in my opinion is flawless. It never gets old, or stale and it has aged amazingly well. There were so many different roles in this film, and whether they were big or small, you noticed everybody. They all had their part to play, and it added to the realism of the film. I find that Goodfellas is the most raw of the gangster movie genre. The pace is fast, the story telling is brutally honest and simple and as far as direction goes, no one could have made this film better than Scorsese. And in my opinion, this is hands down his best work. Now while these guys were gangsters, they were real men too, and at times you could see the vulnerability in each of them, but you would see it in different ways. This film has some of the best dialogue I have ever seen. It isn't forced, it doesn't drag along and every line that is spoken, seems to fit perfectly. Nothing is out of place. I am very interested in mob history and I find it incredibly intriguing. When I see documentaries or read books on mobsters, the one film I am always reminded of is Goodfellas. It just seems that this film could be one of the best portrayals of real life gangsters. While these kind of men usually have a dramatic downfall or demise, for a short time they are on top of the world. And seeing that portrayed on screen so realistically is such a delight. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chaplin. My ultimate cheer up movie.

As most of you guys have realised by now I usually talk about or should I say 'fangirl' over really violent movies. But I want you guys to know I can be sensitive sometimes, I can feel...Okay that's bullshit. But there is a film that I believe can bring out many emotions, and make you truly feel, regardless of how shut off you are. And that's Chaplin. I have found in time that this film is extremely underrated. At my old job, this is a film I used to recommend to EVERYONE. You would have a certain kind of person who would come in and were wanting something a little bit different and more so, just something very special. That is where I would introduce them to Chaplin.

I remember seeing that this got played on cable all the time, when I was growing up. But I never watched it. I think I may have turned it on and seen a couple of scenes, but I just don't think I saw it as something which was 'my thing'. But as I got older I became a fan of Charlie Chaplin's films and the music he composed. As you could imagine I was pretty happy when I managed to score the DVD of Chaplin. But for some strange reason I did not watch it for about a year. Sickening right? When I finally watched it, I was so overcome with emotion. I was so happy but at the same time I was sad and frustrated with how unfairly Chaplin was treated by the US government and how all he wanted to do was love someone on the same level that he loved performing. 

The film does revolve around a lot of his romances with several famous actresses, and most of the relationships he did have with women did turn out to be quite empty. They had nothing to really offer him that he could truly connect with or cherish. Deep down you can see that Chaplin wants to love and be loved by someone who is just pure happiness and pure joy. He wants to feel the same way about a person, the way his audience would feel about his films. A lot of his films were released during the great depression, and people would save up money to be able to go and see one of Chaplin's movies. That's how much love they had for this man. 

Another factor which is explored in this film, is the relationship he had with his mother Hannah. She was mentally ill and could not provide for Charlie and his older brother Sydney. Charlie then admits her into an asylum, as much as it broke his heart, he just didn't know how to deal with it, and it was probably the only thing he could do for her. It is heartbreaking to see him having to make this choice, and even more heartbreaking to see her deteriorate as an old woman. And again Charlie doesn't know how to deal with it. He says he would just throw money at her, because he believed it was the only thing he could offer her. You could see Chaplin was capable of showing so much emotion in his films, but in his private life, it looks like the complete opposite. Charlie Chaplin was in a league of his own, and in some ways an outsider. He was one of only the celebrities at the time who had some real substance and heart, and while he was an outsider in the celebrity world, his audience connected and understood him. And that is what kept him making film. You could see the struggles he had to overcome as an actor and a film maker because he wanted to stay pure, be very opinionated and honest, whereas people wanted to see him as a puppet now that he was making people a lot of money. They didn't care about the integrity of what he was trying to convey in his films, and that is what separated him from everyone else. Some may say an outsider in terms of film making. But when you think about it, he was just ahead of the pack. 

This film has definitely divided critics, most of which do slam the film, and calling it a 'slick looking' biopic with not a lot of substance. Comments like that piss me off a lot. Why? Because people tend to think a biopic has to be extremely 'gritty' or extremely sad and 'middle of the road'. I find biopic's like the Iron Lady or The King's Speech stale and boring, yet they get critical acclaim and win a bucket load of Oscars. And just because a film has a comedy element and isn't 'playing by the rules' in terms of how a biopic should be, it doesn't mean it should be seen as empty. Watching Chaplin, reminded me of his own feature films, because of how the characters interacted with one another and how it was shot, and the music that was used. It has a tonne of brilliant elements to it, which people don't see. They just dismiss it and call it mediocre and empty.  

Robert Downey Jr has some strong acting chops on him. He really did make you believe that he was indeed Chaplin, not just some guy in the tramp's costume. He was also nominated for a best actor Oscar, but lost out to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman. Robert Downey Jr should definitely be given a lot of credit in terms of his acting skill, because is extremely talented. I know a lot of people mostly know him now for the Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes franchises, but aside from action and comedies,a lot people haven't seen him in such a vulnerable role as Chaplin. Downey Jr conveyed the intense and serious passion that Chaplin had for performing and making people happy. I find it is interesting when you have biopic's on famous actors. It must be so hard to able to strip bare everything that you possess as an actor and build yourself back up as someone who the world knew, loved and respected. That is a hard job, so Downey Jr, needs to be praised because he nailed it. 

Here is a scene where Chaplin has been told his first real love Hetty is dead. The emotion that takes over his face is just indescribable. His eyes look dead and you can just see his heart split into millions of pieces. He gave Hetty a piece of himself before he left for the USA. Regardless of who he was with after he left England, you can tell a strong part of him belonged to Hetty. And when you hold onto something like that, the way Chaplin did, it is one of the most heartbreaking things to see on screen. He is then faced with meeting his fans directly after he has been told this information and when asked what was he going to do, he just replies with 'Smile'. 

I feel people are all trained in their mind on how a film should end, and how a film genre should be portrayed. There are rules to be followed. And as soon as they step out of those rules, the film is declared as crap or average and then tossed away and forgotten. And that is what I believe happened to the film Chaplin. I have shown many people this film, who have never seen it before and are shocked they have never heard of it. But the people that I have shown this film to, have loved it and could see all the amazing things that I continue to see, every time I watch it. Chaplin is my favourite film to watch when I am sad. It is the ultimate cheer up movie. It is so comforting to see a man, who went through a lot emotionally in his private life, but all he wanted to do was perform and make people smile. And that shows a strong character and when you are sad and watching this film, it makes you think, 'I'll be okay'. It is a comforting movie which can warm up any heart, even mine.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sylvester Stallone = Brilliance. Part II

And I am back with part II of my tribute to Sylvester Stallone. Stallone has starred in a lot of different movies, not just 'mindless' actions. He has a lot of heart, and he knows how to write a great story with integrity. You can always see when Stallone has stamped his name on several scripts for films that he has starred in. And when you see him in these particular films, you can't help but think, 'WHY THE FUCK AREN'T MORE PEOPLE GIVING HIM CREDIT FOR HIS ACTING AND WRITING ABILITIES...YOU SQUARED HEADED IGNORAMUSES'...

Over the top is one of those films. There aren't many films that could be about an arm wrestling tournament and be taken seriously. Hell, a lot of people don't take Over the Top seriously, and they should. Why? Here's the deal, you got all kinds of walks of life in the world. We are all put on this world to do different things, and make an impact one way or another. And in the case of Lincoln Hawk, he is there to earn the love and respect from his son and to win a nation wide arm wrestling tournament. People looked at this concept and thought it was ridiculous. Why is it ridiculous? People have called this film 'dramatic dribble', and I think they need to take their pretentious square heads out of their asses and they need to travel to the Atlantic Ocean and just go fuck an iceberg. Just because this film stars Stallone and is based around his goal in winning an arm wrestling tournament, does not mean this film lacks any artistic merit. Just because Stallone has muscles does that give you the right to say he isn't allowed to convey any kind of heart or emotion? Are only a certain 'calibre' of actors allowed to portray inner turmoil? No, everyone should be given that shot, and that includes Stallone. And time and time again whenever he portrays any kind of raw emotion and heart, he gets slammed by critics, the kind of critics who would rank Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time.  Just admit it to yourself right now. Stallone can really act, and I will continue to preach this in my blogs, podcasts and conversations with anyone. Nuff said. Here is a video of a mash up of different Over the Top scenes. In this mash up you can see the heart in Stallone's performance. 

Cop Land is another one of Stallone's finest films. I saw this when I was 10 years old, when we were on the plane to the UK, and I could not take my eyes away from the screen. It was the first role where I had seen Stallone 'turned down' in terms of his personality. And seeing that side of him, made me really appreciate the versatility in his acting. I found this role to be completely different to most things he has portrayed. While he has been in serious roles previously, this was on a different level and it really showed off his acting chops, and finally critics were taking Stallone somewhat seriously. His body language in this film totally engages me every time I view it because you can just see the inner conflict and turmoil he is going through just by how he stands or how he walks. They are slight changes physically to how he would be play something like Rambo but the changes are made perfectly and they are in the right direction. I will show you a scene which I think is brilliant. So it is a spoiler and it will wreck the ending, but hey it is not my fault if you haven't experienced the awesomeness that is Cop Land. 

Cliffhanger is one of those movies I just watched over and over again in the 1990's. It was always on cable TV and my older brother and I would always lose our shit whenever it came on. I will never forget the first time  saw this. That opening scene...yes you remember THAT scene, stuck with me for a long was also the reason I hated going abseiling on school camp! It's funny how movies influence us at times. Cliffhanger was a box office success and to this day I have not met a single person that doesn't like this film. Why? Because it is fucking awesome that is why! This is a film which just makes me speechless, I never know what to say about it besides the fact that I fucking enjoyed the ride and I loved Stallone's performance. It's movies like Cliffhanger that prove time and time again that Stallone has what it takes to draw in a huge crowd to the movies and enjoy thrilling adventures like Cliffhanger. So here enjoy the opening scene...god this still leaves me on the edge of my damn seat.

Expendables was something that blew my god damn mind when it first came out...and it still does to this day...the second instalment was even better! And if it wasn't for Stallone we wouldn't have this kickass franchise. He knows how important action stars are to the die hard fans out there and I think it was great for them to come out of the shadows and come back onto our screens the best way they knew how...BY KICKING SOME SERIOUS ASS!!! Of course both of the Expendables movies got slayed in terms of the critics and their pointless reviews on knowing jack shit about action movies. But it was the fans who loved and appreciated this and could see what these films were trying to do. I love Stallone's role of Barney Ross, because I can see a lot of his previous roles in this character, so it does appear to be not only a big homage to what these stars did in their action days but also the characters they portrayed. 

Stallone has been in a tonne of amazing movies. Unfortunately though, I cannot write about them all because I would be here for a long time, fangirling over the best action star that has ever lived. Besides the ones I have briefly spoken about in this 2 part series here is some of my other favourite Stallone movies. 

  • Nighthawks
  • Paradise Alley
  • Rambo II,  III and Rambo(IV)
  • Rocky II, III, IV, V and Rocky Balboa
  • Lock Up
  • Oscar
  • Stop or My Mom Will Shoot
  • Demolition Man
  • The Specialist
  • Judge Dredd
  • Assassins
  • Daylight
  • Get Carter
  • Expendables 2
Sylvester Stallone has been a huge influence in my life. His films taught me a lot about integrity, passion, determination, and heart. If it wasn't for Rocky I would not have known how to love and I think I would be a really bitter and judgemental person. Some of you readers out there may not take what I say seriously and that is fine, but movies have helped shape me. They have helped me find out what kind of person I truly am, and if it wasn't for Stallone's heart that you can see he portrays through all of his characters, I really wouldn't know how to feel. Rocky was the first film I ever cried during and also it was the first film to give me goosebumps. Never underestimate Stallone, he has an amazing talent, and actors would only dream about having the depth that this man has. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sylvester Stallone = Brilliance. Part I

When you mention the name, Sylvester Stallone, what do you think of? What grabs your attention about him? What movies of his do you think are his most memorable? Well while you think about this, here is everything you will need to know, when it comes to my love for this actor. 

The first film I do remember ever seeing him in was Rocky. It was a film that my family and I watched a lot. And I branched out to a lot of his movies during my childhood, I am pretty sure every time we went to the video store there was at least one Stallone film, that was rented. Obviously growing up with this actor always on my TV screen, I grew extremely aware of his acting abilities and then later his talent with writing. 

I started writing poetry at 13 and that eventually lead me to start writing short stories and scripts at 15, and it was then where I started appreciating a good story and the dialogue between the characters. And if you can tell a good story and convey the heart that you have written on those pages onto the big screen, that is successful in my eyes. And heart, honesty and passion is what you can see in Rocky. There are so many memorable scenes in this film, which are beautifully yet simply shot, and they know how to get into your psyche and heart. People who think I am being cheesy saying this, then you don't understand what heart is in a film, simple as that. Rocky is an underdog who just wants a better life for himself, and just when he gets the opportunity to fight Apollo, he meets the love of his life, and he just doesn't know how to handle it all at once. Because for the first time in his life, everything is working out in his favour. And while all this is working in his favour, the cracks start to show. People have never really supported this man, or had any real faith in him until now. 

What struck me as so amazing in this film is the love between Rocky and Adrian. In my opinion they are the best on screen couple in cinema history. Why? Because while these two may look very different to one another, they just fit. In the film, Rocky states that he doesn't have much of a brain, so he developed his body. And Adrian states how her mother told her she didn't have much of a body so she may as well develop her brain. Just hearing that from both of them, makes it clear, that they need each other. Their love is honest and simple. Adrian wouldn't care if he never fought to begin with, because she has someone who loves her even though everyone may think she is a 'loser'. For accepting a man like Rocky she proves she is far from being a loser. This is how love should be. Unconditional. 

One of my favourite scenes in Rocky is where he and Adrian go to the ice skating rink. Now you may be thinking what an odd scene that shows off Stallone's acting skill. But what is lovely is the simplicity of it and how this all just seems very natural. 

In Rocky we do see Stallone's vulnerable side underneath his tough exterior, so when you watch him in Death Race 2000 it is A LOT different. 

His acting chops didn't really kick in with this film, but having said that it is enjoyable as fuck to see him shooting at a bunch of Frankenstein supporters. His character's name is brilliant in this too...Machine Gun Joe Viterbo. Man if I had a child I would totally call it that. What I love about his performance is just the brutality of it and how it really fits in with the Exploitation vibe, that the film possesses. Now while this isn't Stallone's best performance, it is still fucking enjoyable. His character was so 'cartoonish' and 'shlocky', but it was great seeing him in a role like that. I didn't see Stallone in this film til I was about 14, so it was a total shock for me, but at the same time,  I loved seeing the diversity. I don't want to go into a lot of detail with this film, because I think it's awesome seeing this totally unprepared. When I watched it for the first time, it made me laugh, it fired me up, and it shocked me but in a good way. 

A film I enjoyed a lot, and still do to this day is Victory. My older brother taped this off the TV when we were kids, and boy did that tape get THRASHED. As a kid I was just excited to see Stallone, Caine and Pele in one movie. In my mind I was thinking 'HOLY SHIT WHAT AN ALL STAR CAST'. Even though I still enjoy this film to this day, I still do find it odd that Stallone was in this to begin with. But having said that I do like his role in this as Robert Hatch. The wise cracking goal keeper for the P.O.W camp football team. And yes I am aware I called soccer, football. But I am English, so I will call it whatever I god damn want! Anyways..I liked Stallone in this, because while he is a hard ass, and a joker, you can tell that the character of Robert Hatch, has seen a lot of shit. I also like the dynamic between Stallone and Caine in this. They bounce their conversation and diversity off one another extremely well. The dialogue that was written for the both of them, was cheesy yes, but SUPERBLY in my books that means KICKASS. If you haven't seen this film or have heard bad things about it, just take a chance with this. I am not going to say this is an Oscar contender(although it's a lot better than some of the films that do win the awards these days). But this is a lot of fun, despite the subject matter being quite dark. I think you should just have fun with this. 

FIRST BLOOD...IS JUST FUCKING KICKASS AND BRUTAL AND EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE WATCHED THIS, AND IF YOU HAVEN'T YOU ARE A SQUARE HEADED IGNORAMUS! Sorry a tad bit excited there. But what do I say about a kickass movie like First Blood? This is hands down one of Stallone's best work. Why? Because even though it is violent, it does have a serious undertone. This isn't just some mind numbing action film with a standard boring plot. Seeing John Rambo, a troubled Vietnam War Veteran, is actually quite frightening. Why? The depth. I know I talk a lot about this with Stallone, so get fucking used to it. But he has the depth in his eyes. You could just look in Rambo's eyes for a second and not even begin to understand the horror he has seen and experienced. I would say this film possesses more a thriller vibe, than a typical action film. Obviously the sequels are definitely action and have a less involved plot compared to First Blood. While Rambo would never intentionally hurt anyone for the sake of it, if you fuck with him, well...lets just say he will fucking hunt you down. Here is one of my favourite scenes of First Blood. He is just so deliciously brutal, and these guys got what was coming to them.

You all know I love brutal slayings, and it's even better when its delivered by Stallone. He is just a GRITTY MOTHERFUCKER, and that is why Cobra will always have a soft spot in my heart. Okay the thing I need to address to all of you is this...HOW FUCKING COOL IS HE FOR CUTTING THE PIZZA WITH A PAIR OF SCISSORS...For some strange reason I have never done this...but I will the next time I eat it. I kinda hope my mum doesn't read this now, because she will be pissed off if she sees me cutting up pizza with a pair of scissors. There are so many awesome scenes in this, and while I do love violence, I love Stallones performance as Marion 'Cobra' Cobretti. His performance is damn strong as a 'lone wolf' cop. And you can see he doesn't like to feel vulnerable especially around Ingrid played by Brigitte Nielsen. His body language is exceptionally strong in this, and is conveyed perfectly on the big screen. Not many actors can convey a strong presence, you either have it or you don't. My favourite scene in this whole film is the opening. I do love the ending, but this opening is just sheer kickassery. I just love the way Stallone fucks with this criminal and he does it with such style and ease and it is seriously flawless. 

I do love watching movies which have a supermarket shoot out. It is just so random but it so damn cool. I just find something sleek about this particular scene, either way you gotta admit, it is a killer opening to a film.

Tango and Cash is one of my favourite Stallone movies of all time. Why? Because not only do you have an amazing actor like Stallone, but you have him teamed up with KURT FUCKING RUSSELL...that HAS to count for something right? This film has simple storytelling, it's easy to follow, and it just so damn badass and cool. These guys really worked well together, and I would love to see them in another cop film like this...or I would be happy to see Russell in  The Expendables 3...Stallone is so suave and debonair as Raymond Tango, and while he does get dirty and gritty in this film, it is glossed over with Tango's wit and style. I also find this movie to be a great comedy as well. I think Tango and Cash possesses a great balance of awesome storytelling, great action and perfectly timed and plotted comedy. That in itself is hard to pull off, I mean have you seen some of the movies today which are clearly trying to rip off a film as clever and as charming as Tango and Cash. 

Here are a couple of scenes from Tango and Cash which still stand out as AWESOME!

Sure this scene isn't very long, but it's a perfect example of the charm that it possesses. I always lose it laughing at Tango's wit in this film, because it is always played perfectly and it is incredibly well timed.

This whole scene makes me piss myself laughing. Because while we see Tango speaking so eloquently and soft spoken and really trying to reel the court in with his emotion, we see Cash just not giving a fuck, and saying what is on his mind. And seeing two completely opposite kind of cops handling the same situation, extremely differently, is just funny. 

There are so many Stallone movies, that need praise and recognition, regardless of whether they were blockbuster hits or not. Obviously I cannot write about ALL of them, because I think the readers may kill me because of the amount of fangirling that is going on behind this laptop. But what I can tell you, there will be a part II.

Now while a lot of people may look at most of these films and see trash and garbage I see pure excellence. Everyone should go back to a time where they were all excited to watch a Stallone film. Do not act as if you have never liked any of his films, because I know you have. Whether it was Copland or Stop! Or my mum will shoot, you have all liked him one time or another. 

So get ready...because shit is about to get real. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The True Puppet Master part one

Aloha boils and ghouls,
Every now and then I have a nostalgia explosion, wether it be watching beetlejuice for the millionth time, buying special edition barbie dolls or collecting Ghost Busters merchandise, above those things my mind always trails back to one thing. Jim Henson. He is a genius and in my opinion an advocator of practical special effects ( which i feel strongly about). He did wonders for my imagination and made me truly believe in the personalities of inanimate  objects. I love everything that he has done, starting with sesame street then  evolving into the muppets (who are a particular obsession of mine) and then this crazy shit happened.

.. and scared the absolute shit out of me.

Honestly though I loved every second of it. As soon as the darker world of Jim Henson was opened to me I was never truly the same and I dont think any of us were. Ask anyone who was born in the mid to late 80s, if they were freaked out by The Dark Crystal and they will say that it still freaks them out. Back in the day when kids films could be about the genocide of a peaceful race, kidnapping babies and adult men wearing tights falling in love with teenage girls, we were able to watch some pretty messed up stuff without any guilt or consequence because they were meant for us. Lets take a moment to look at the best of these darker Henson productions.

The Labyrinth.
Aside from having the best goddamn poster ever, this movie was the bees knees. Jennifer Connolly was a fox and I totally related to her angst. It is also what I credit for introducing me to David Bowie, in which case this film needs a medal just for that. I never had the hots for him though, he had weird hair and wanted to hang out with stupid weird little dudes. I wanted a fizgig and a Hoggle and a Didimus but I didnt want my head ripped off by a Fiery. It never really occurred to me that most of these characters were being controlled by someone else, they were mechanical or they were puppets with someone's hand up their bums. Henson's team could do amazing things with voice, movement and design, these little puppets and animated props were some of the best actors I had ever seen. The first scene that got my attention was such a small one. It was when she had just said the words to take Toby away and the crying stops, she walks over to the crib and the blanket starts shaking and giggling like a weird demon *shudder* it gets me every time, The rest of the movie is hilarious though even with these crazy critters.

Even though these guys want to rip off your head for their own amusment, they do it in a funky and fun way that almost makes you wish she was more cooperative so he could join in the dance. The whole adventure was unbelievable, the set design, the character design even the way they made you believe the entire labyrinth was so massive. The best example I can think of of a really clever prop device that spun me right the fuck out was this.
This at first looks like an animation which very noticeably is a visage of King Jareth's face and then suddenly.

Frikkin cool!! It was two rocks made to a particular size and shape and placed in a particular spot in a particular angle to force our perspective. It was only meant to be a half a second clip that shows you that Jareth is watching them, it just goes to show the attention to detail that Henson studios had and how powerful their imagination was that they would put so much effort into something so small. Also this.
You really smelt that didnt you? If the name" The Bog Of Eternal Stench" wasn't enough you had little puddles of filth coming up for air every now and then, each with a little prolapsed rectum that came out and farted. Brilliantly gross. It wasnt all decapitation and poisened fruit there was also an unmistakable 80s glamour to this movie that made it feel like a rock opera. It was ever so slightly a musical anyway and the grand ball scene made me want to be as pretty as Jennifer Connolly.

 And the end song by David Bowie broke my heart.
" You've run so long.
You've run so far.
Your eyes can be so cruel,
Just as I can be so cruel,
Oh I do believe in you.
Yes I do.

Live without your sunlight.
Love without your heartbeat.
(Falsetto) I... I...
Can't.. live.. within.. you..."

Oh man, you realize right at that moment that he is a man who is hardly capable of love, but he loves her with everything he has to give, The only way that he knew how to get someone to care about him was through fear so he tried to control her, but she is stubborn and strong and loved her brother far more than she was facinated by him and he was deeply hurt by her rejection. This was my introduction to the complexity of love and it always makes me sad. 

Far more than a silly movie with puppets. The Labyrinth is a well concieved fantasy adventure, created by very talented people and loved by adults and children everywhere. It taught us about family, love, loyalty, friendship, how you can be special even though you're a weird girl who talks to herself and it taught you the usefulness of determination. The Labyrinth is about growing up but never forgetting the things that were magical when you were a child and not being ashamed that you need them still. I grew up watching this film and I will grow old watching this film as well because I am a child full of imagination at heart. All thanks to Jim Henson. So should you need a bit of a jolt back into childhood wonder, give him a call.

Stay tuned for part 2
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark Crystal.