Author Topic: Jon's Random Reviews  (Read 62106 times)

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #75 on: September 14, 2009, 11:34:51 AM »
Leo gets!  :thumbup:
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Offline goodguy

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Re: Lethal Weapon ****
« Reply #76 on: September 15, 2009, 04:33:48 AM »
Lethal Weapon ****
Gibson is central to it with an incredible performance;

I haven't seen it in a very long time, but I remember from the Making-of for Zeffirelli's Hamlet that it was Gibson's performance here that made Zeffirelli consider him for the role.

Overall Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a finer film, but ironically, this has the bigger bangs by some considerable margin.

I would say KKBB is on an entirely different level than the other stuff he has written. Of his big bang movies, The Long Kiss Goodnight is probably my favorite. It might not necessarily be the best of them, but I prefer Geena Davis over male buddy movies any day.
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Inglourious Basterds *****
« Reply #77 on: September 29, 2009, 11:32:59 PM »
Inglourious Basterds
5 out of 5




Goosebumps. An all too rare indication that what you are watching, listening to or reading, is special, and although Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is not perfect, it certainly was during the final sequence set poetically in a cinema. There’s one image in particular that could already be one of my favourite cinematic moments of all time.

(click to show/hide)

I won’t spoil it because I hope you’ll consider watching it yourselves, though to do so may require some effort. Tarantino is brilliant, but undisciplined, and despite several scenes standing out as some of his best work, as a whole, it could easily frustrate the unprepared. For a start, the trailer is borderline misleading, because the Basterd’s rampage Once Upon A Time In Nazi Occupied France is a small part of a much larger picture.

Undisciplined he may be, but indulgent, not so much. That’s a popular criticism, but largely unfounded. The key to understanding Basterds is to see it as a comic book fantasy where anything can happen. Tarantino would make a bloody brilliant comics writer! Episodic, bursts of excess, tempered by drama and poignancy. You only have to think how inherently ridiculous Batman, Spider-Man or Judge Dredd is, yet they can all find real heart. That is Inglorious Basterds and in fact, that comic book style can be traced right back to Reservoir Dogs. Not showing the actual heist and concentrating on dialogue between impossibly cool looking anti-heroes is just the sort of narrative decision the Frank Miller’s and John Wagner’s of this world make. Ah, if only he could still do a Bond...

To do this on film successfully is tough (Sin City almost did it). To do it and pull off a ludicrous plot that will have you punching the air and laughing at the audacity is astonishing. It is an amazing screenplay that ranges from subtle to outrageous, but it works largely thanks to a brilliant cast. Pitt is great as the leader of The Basterd’s. Brutal, and very funny, he’s the perfect poster boy for the film, but he’s matched throughout, especially by Melanie Laurent as the stories real heroine Shosanna and one of the best villains of recent years, Christoph Waltz as Lando. The action is led by these characters, not the other way around. So it is that the simply wonderful opening that takes its cues from Once Upon A Time In The West, builds into tense wordplay that respects the actors and challenges the viewer. It’s a perfect demonstration of film writing.

There are several scenes like this, peppered with brutal violence (the basement scene is classic Tarantino), and here is my only real criticism, because by always deferring to the drama, it makes it perhaps a bit too unpredictable. It feels like it loses its way with all the strands until they all snap back for the finale, despite those strands being perfect on their own. I have a feeling a second viewing will work much better.

But what cannot fail to work from the moment you set your eyes on this is how gorgeous it looks, and so detailed, with lots of little touches that show Tarantino was working at the top of anyone’s game, not just his own. There’s a particular moment with cream of all things in a restaurant that I’d bet a lot of directors would never think of. Then there’s the film within a film (“Nation’s Pride”) that you only catch glimpses of during the last chapter. It couldn’t look more different to the film proper or more authentic, yet “indulgent” Tarantino wisely refuses to show it to us properly. For the most part he understands how to work an audience as well as anyone.

It would only delay that incredible moment in the cinema. He’s used Hitchcock technique before to less success (Death Proof) and here uses another one; the irony of a scene playing out with an audience, except with a twist and then some! And in the middle of all the carnage, there’s the goosebumps. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank goodness for a director like Quentin Tarantino. This isn't his best work, but it's better than a lot currently out there. He’ll never be boring, that’s for sure.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2010, 01:34:07 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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The River Wild ***
« Reply #78 on: November 01, 2009, 06:49:50 PM »
The River Wild ****
4 out of 5


Meryl Streep is Gail, a mother who organises a white water rafting trip to celebrate her son's birthday and salvage her shaky marriage. A former river guide, Gail's no longer the risk-taker she was in her youth, but her skills and courage are soon put to the ultimate test when an encounter with three mysterious strangers threaten to turn a family vacation into a living hell.

Very good action movie, in the vein of Cliffhanger. That was released only the year before, so it may be this is slightly derivative as the plot follows a very similar path (except this is a family unit taken hostage), but despite more explosions, I think this is the better film. Plus it may just have been the ticket director Curtis Hanson needed to make L.A. Confidential, so I'm eternally grateful for that.

As with many action films of this sort, the plot is simple, the dialogue broad and lumpy, but it's exciting stuff. What really helps is the outstanding cast. Kevin Bacon is always good value and is a brilliant, unpredictable villain. This was just the sort of film he'd go for back then, and reliable John C. Reilly has since become one of the best comic character actors around, but starring Meryl Streep as the heroine in a very physical role? It just goes to show her versatility, but it definitely means it's punching above its weight. Then you have David Strathairn as the resourceful husband, Tom. Hanson was a blessed man.

An all round excellent action-thriller, perfect for when you're not in the mood for the weighty Deliverance, but you still want nature playing a part in the action!

Oh yeah, next time you play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, consider that Streep's young son is played by Joseph Mazzello of Jurassic Park and his sister in that film was played by Ariana Richards, who was in Tremors with Kev! Damn, he gets around...  :D

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Lakeview Terrace ****
« Reply #79 on: November 29, 2009, 08:15:04 PM »
Lakeview Terrace ****
4 out of 5




A young couple (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) have just moved into their California dream home when they become the target of their next-door neighbour, who disapproves of their interracial relationship. A stern, single father, this tightly wound LAPD officer (Samuel L. Jackson) has appointed himself the watchdog of the neighbourhood. His nightly foot patrols and overly watchful eyes bring comfort to some, but he becomes increasingly harassing to the newly-weds.

Samuel L. Jackson shares the lead with at least Patrick Wilson, but his powerful performance anchors the film. When I say this is his best role for years, don't be concerned if you think this will be full-on Pulp Fiction Jules. Instead he shows how brilliant he truly is by commanding the screen without taking it over. All three are complicated roles and this isn't the sort of story they can get through with show-boating and shouting.

On paper it seems a new play on the theme used in Pacific Heights (Modine v. Keaton!) or Unlawful Entry (Russell v. Liotta!), but the characters and situations are more exploitive in both of those and descend into predictable action beats. Not that there is anything wrong with that! It's just that Lakeview Terrace is first and foremost a drama that you may be able to identify with more readily, and it seems reluctant to cut loose until the very last moment.

Up until then, director Neil La Bute creates a simmering tension, possibly undermined by your own assumptions. If you go into it expecting Jackson to be an obvious villain, you do his performance a disservice, because throughout he deserves some sympathy. None of the three characters are perfect and it's their flaws that drive the story. Jackson's Turner is a manipulative racist, but he is also a single dad and staring forced retirement in the face. Meanwhile Wilson as Chris is paranoid that everyone is like Turner, judging his interracial relationship. His wife Lisa, played by Washington, doesn't always give Chris enough respect for that position and she also makes a particularly poor judgement that threatens their marriage.

Still, they are a close couple and Wilson and the lovely Kerry Washington have good chemistry, so you want them to work it out and that means dealing with Turner. It's a clever plot development that escalates the situation without turning him into a cartoon villain, even for the ending which is otherwise predictable. I also like the backdrop with California wild-fires that are getting closer throughout the film because that increases the immediacy of a plot that could have become tediously contrived, especially the ending. Like Gone Baby Gone, it is a satisfying conclusion, but not one that suggests a happy ever after. Life isn't like that and to suggest otherwise is insulting.

Occasionally the black versus white sensibilities border on heavy handed, but actually I still found it easier to empathise with than Crash and it bears more similarity with Gran Torino in some ways. It's a well written, cracking little thriller, that doesn't spoon-feed the viewer. Highly recommended. La Bute may have done himself a disservice by making the ill-advised remake of The Wicker Man, because here he shows a far more interesting grasp of difficult material.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 08:19:32 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Street Kings **
« Reply #80 on: December 14, 2009, 11:17:04 PM »
Street Kings **
2 out of 5




Gripping performances by Keanu Reeves, ACADEMY AWARD® Winner Forest Whitaker* and an all-star supporting cast power this action-packed crime thriller, in which a veteran cop finds himself ensnared in a deadly web of conspiracy and betrayal. Reeves stars as Tom Ludlow, a hard-nosed detective with a talent for delivering brutal street justice. When evidence implicates him in the murder of a fellow officer, the violence around Ludlow explodes as he realizes his own life is in danger and he can trust no one.

This gritty detective thriller bears most resemblance to Training Day, but while that film had serious flaws, not least the awful contrivance that the plot turns on, it is still much superior to this. Not that it isn't enjoyable in it's own way, but it's numbingly predictable and derivative of several other films, including L.A. Confidential, bizarrely. It's almost painful to watch as the transparent characters shuffle to their inevitable conclusions via all the usual clichés. Truly great actors like Forrest Whitaker (as the Vice Team captain, referred to as the King) deliver storming performances like they're trying not to sink, while you have to feel sorry for Chris Evans (ambitious young detective, determined to do things right) who is very good, but perhaps more doomed than anyone. I guarantee you'll shake your head sadly as soon as he appears! Maybe he is less doomed though than the cartoon characters who make up Keanu Reeve's untrustworthy team and were probably written in the first draft with crayon as 'Goon 1', 'Goon 2', etc.

Still, it's violent, with solid action throughout, so thoroughly entertaining and there's half a chance it could all be redeemed by the end. Unfortunately that ending is so infuriatingly empty that it loses all credibility. The story just plays out in a cycle of grimy nastiness without a hint of irony or redemption and by doing so squanders the ace in Detective Tom Ludlow, whose claustrophobic story (he's hardly off-screen, if at all) could have been compared to a circle of hell, similar to Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle.

Keanu Reeves as Ludlow is a revelation. This is his best dramatic role and if the cynics amongst you think that's a back-handed compliment, well let me tell you I was left unable to consider anyone else in the part. Reeves invests everything in the character; his hollow-eyed, podgy face holds a lifetime of drunken self-loathing, but with an undercurrent of ruthless, violent efficiency that makes all the scenes, be they action or drama, utterly convincing. The flat delivery works and he really holds his own against heavyweights like Whitaker and Laurie; if anything, he's working harder and more memorably. It's like we've caught up with Johnny Utah and found him broken. That the story doesn't reward him is unforgivable.

Really the film can be summed up by Hugh Laurie's role; it's a brilliant, punchy performance, he chews the dialogue nicely and growls his way through every scene. But he's the twin of House. So we've seen it all before, even though he's fun to watch.  :shrug:

Despite my negative review, give it a shot, if only to see the commendable actor Keanu Reeves has become.

Najemikon

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Fast and Furious ***
« Reply #81 on: December 19, 2009, 09:48:51 PM »
Fast and Furious
3 out of 5




Vin Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the ultimate chapter of the franchise built on speed--Fast & Furious. Heading back to the streets where it all began, they rejoin Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster to blast muscle, tuner and exotic cars across Los Angeles and floor through the Mexican desert in the new high-octane action-thriller. When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) re-ignites his feud with agent Brian O’Conner (Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to out-manoeuvre him. From convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what’s possible behind the wheel.

It isn’t easy to review a film like this, because it’s, quite frankly, junk. It’s predictable nonsense from the first moment to the last, with awful dialogue and flat acting, but who gives a damn because it’s great! This might not be film as art, but it has girls and cars, so it all balances!

The original was a laugh and this is the first of the sequels that makes any kind of sense as such. It’s cool to see the old gang back together, even though one member gets little more than a cameo, despite earning poster duties. I always quite liked Paul Walker (so shoot me). He’s kind of like the guy you get when Keanu Reeves isn’t answering the phone, but he’s good at these sort of roles and is a lot better than his first two outings as Brian O’Conner. Vin Diesel must be pissed that he’s had to resort to a full-time role rather than getting by with a wink in Tokyo Drift, but he has natural charisma and elevates the film just by turning up. Though Dominic turning spy doesn’t quite work and that isn’t the only contrivance to bring on a groan.

The story is similar to 2 Fast 2 Furious (infiltrating crime boss operation), only with the much better direction of Tokyo Drift (Justin lin). I don’t think this counts as a “best of both worlds” win-win situation, but it’s close enough! The action is a lot of bone crunching fun. On the making of feature, they mention something about the cars matching the characters. What rubbish! But if that’s how Lin needs to think to pull off action sequences like the brilliant truck robbery or the big chase finale, then all power to him.

Bring on The Fast and The 4rious... :D

Najemikon

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Slapshot ****
« Reply #82 on: January 02, 2010, 08:56:58 PM »
Slap Shot
4 out of 5




A cult classic, acclaimed as "one of the top ten sports movies ever" (Sports Illusdtrated, ESPN.com, The Sporting News), this irreverent and outrageously funny look onto the world of professional ice hockey has Paul Newman as the coach of the Chiefs, a third-rate minor league hockey team. To build up attendance at their games, management signs up three odd looking players whose job it is to literally attack and pulverise the opposition, to the delight and cheers of a steady increasing throng of fans. SLAPSHOT'S hockey sequences, reminiscent of the football games in M.A.S.H., THE LONGEST YARD and the gruesome ROLLERBALL, offer a freewheeling mixture of slapstick and grisly physical violence.

Anyone who likes Kevin Smith movies should look up Slap Shot. Considering the balance between filth and poignancy, plus the fact it's about hockey, it had to have been an influence. Otherwise, it feels like it belongs somewhere between Animal House and The Cannonball Run, though comedy is more subjective than any genre and it might actually be better, with a great script by Nancy Dowd, peppered with quotable lines and based on her brothers experience in minor league hockey where violence was becoming the main attraction.

It's a typical sports movie plot with a collection of odd-balls making up the Chiefs, but what sets it apart is the slapstick violence and the underlying cynicism (the Chiefs only find success and popularity comes once the three brothers turn matches into bloodbaths), with one of the funniest moments being the match where everyone gets beaten up before it has even started! Paul Newman is fantastic, as you'd expect, and his foul-mouthed rant at the team owner is jaw-dropping. Still, it isn't all punch-ups and violence. It has a heart too, in particular with the sub-plot about Lily, the wife of the star player, who is quickly turning to drink. It's a very funny performance by Lindsay Crouse who was once married to David Mamet and who you may recognise from season four of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

This feels like Newman cutting loose a little and I suspect a bit of a stitch-up considering this was his third collaboration with director George Roy Hill. They previously did Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, then The Sting. You can't get much further away than Slap Shot!


Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #83 on: January 02, 2010, 11:57:44 PM »
I'm glad to see you liked this film. I find that a lot of people today feel that it is quite dated or not funny because it has no punch in the groin shots. To me, it's one of the great sports films of all time. I saw it in its original theatrical release back in 1977, and laughed my ass off.





« Last Edit: January 03, 2010, 12:05:58 AM by Antares »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #84 on: January 03, 2010, 12:11:41 AM »
One of the best film about our national sport :thumbup:
The violence can seem over the top for a non hockey fan, but it was like that in the seventies and the eighties. The junior league here was even tougher than that... Too bad it's now a thing of the past since our sport had become a girly game. The thing is the players were respecting each others in the past, no high stick and no volontary injury attempt to bring the good player out... The fighting was a perfect way to decrease the pression.

By the way, the French Canadian dubbing is awesome too bad only three of us can listen it :P

Maybe I'll watch it again tonight ;D

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #85 on: January 03, 2010, 01:02:35 AM »
I'm glad to see you liked this film. I find that a lot of people today feel that it is quite dated or not funny because it has no punch in the groin shots. To me, it's one of the great sports films of all time. I saw it in its original theatrical release back in 1977, and laughed my ass off.

I've just been laughing my ass off again at the clips you posted! :laugh: I've seen it a couple of times before, courtesy of hockey fans. I used to work with a guy who actively supported and promoted The Nottingham Panthers, and he lent it me. Now I work with another bloke who is a regular fan of the team and he had a spare copy of the DVD so sold it me, along with Slap Shot 2. Now that, I haven't seen and it looks weak, but hey, I'll give it a shot sooner or later.

I've heard people comment before about how good it is as a sports movie, but I shy away from commenting as sport generally ain't my thing, but it really is a great film all round. Hope a few more people look it up now you two have joined the chorus!  :thumbup:

One of the best film about our national sport :thumbup:
The violence can seem over the top for a non hockey fan, but it was like that in the seventies and the eighties. The junior league here was even tougher than that... Too bad it's now a thing of the past since our sport had become a girly game. The thing is the players were respecting each others in the past, no high stick and no volontary injury attempt to bring the good player out... The fighting was a perfect way to decrease the pression.

Well, heck, they're well padded. Might as well get stuck in!  :devil:

Offline Kathy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #86 on: January 03, 2010, 02:06:56 AM »
Jon, when are you going to review Slap Shot 2? :devil:

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #87 on: January 03, 2010, 02:11:58 AM »
Jon, when are you going to review Slap Shot 2? :devil:

 :hmmmm:

You've seen it, haven't you? You know what's in store. Well, you can behave yourself, missus! I'll get to it... one day.  :bag: :laugh:

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #88 on: January 03, 2010, 03:00:54 AM »
I've watched this one hundreds of time and I've remarked for the first time tonight what movies play at the theater during the parade :devil:



Jon don't wait to watch the second one and try to get the third one

(click to show/hide)

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #89 on: January 03, 2010, 03:12:12 AM »
I forgot to mention the parade! I did think of you when I noticed the titles. :laugh:

Oh yeah, I clicked the button... thought so.:redcard: