Fatal Attraction (1987)

Fatal Attraction

Genre: Thriller

Cast: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer

Synopsis: A loving husband and father has an affair with a crazy woman who just doesn’t know the meaning of “fuck off.”

I like to think that all good movies will have some kind of moral to learn, just like fairy tales do. For Fatal Attraction, the message behind the film is clearly: “don’t stick your dick in crazy.” This film has attracted something of a legendary status thanks, in part, to Close’s performance. Close portrays a lady who epitomises bat-shit insanity. But this is not regular bat-shit insanity, this is something else. This is a Sean-Young-stalking-Tim-Burton-in-a-Catwoman-outfit kind of cray.

Catwoman…yet it’s not quite as crazy as this kind of Catwoman

Close really does stand out in this film. It’s a blessing that this plot is super simple, because it really enables Close to take centre-stage and build a memorable and shocking performance that is all her own. It’s the kind of performance only two women in the world could have pulled off: Close and Meryl Streep (who could play a turd on the street and it would still be convincing and Oscar-nominated). Applause needs to go to Close for researching the role and bringing to it a believability. She didn’t go with an over-the-top kind of crazy like Ali Larter did in Obsessed. Close’s performance is more subtle: up until maybe the last 10 minutes or so, it feels as if you’re looking at a real-life human close to breaking point. Part of the fun is waiting for her to snap.

While Close’s performance dominates, the other actors put in a lot of effort that pays off too. Anne Archer plays little miss perfect Susie housewife and Douglas, again, plays a lead who is not supposed to be particularly likeable. Sure, he’s a loving father, but he fucks some publishing ho on the weekend. Why? Who knows! Maybe because his wife is so prim and proper and you know Close’s character is the sort of woman who will have anal sex before vaginal.

Glenn CloseIt’s the whore-ish red nails that gives it away

Another fun thing about this movie is how completely 80s it is. You all know how much I love the 80s. It was a decade full of craziness, a craziness that compliments the insanity of the main actress. Take Close’s hairstyle for instance. What kind of moron thought it would be a good idea to give Close a perm? It frames the weirdness of her face (my mum says it’s like a strip of face between an oversized forehead and chin). Not only that, she’s in shoulder pads for half of the movie and then they all go to a Japanese-themed party because culturally insensitive and patronising shin-digs were all the rage in 1987. God I wish I lived in the 80s. You could get away with so much shit back then.

High-lights:

  • Glenn Close’s performance is electric.
  • Glenn Close’s face is terrifying.
  • The tape recording Close gives to Douglas is hilarious. One minute she says she loves him, the next minute she’s calling him a fag. Clearly he’s not one if he banged you in the elevator.
  • The sex scenes are hysterical. What kind of skank-ho has sex in the sink while there’s dirty dishes in there? And why is she turning on the tap to wet her shirt? Just take it the fuck off!

Downers:

  • That’s a little girl!?
  • That poor rabbit…but it was a scary white one with red eyes so I guess it’s ok.

Summary:

This is a movie everyone should see at least once. It’s pretty much the perfect thriller: tense yet engrossing and very well-paced. Close’s performance drives this film but it’s not the only appealing quality. You can’t really go wrong with this one and, if you’re married, it’s a good tool to encourage fidelity. Nobody wants some frizzy-permed psycho bitch up in their grill boiling their pets and throwing acid at vehicles.

9.5/10

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Filed under Mind Blowingly Awesome, Thriller

Valentine (2001)

Valentine

Genre: Horror

Cast: Denise Richards, David Boreanaz, Marley Shelton

Synopsis: In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, a masked man goes around offing the hot chicks that rejected him in junior high

Ooooohh gurl! We are really scraping the bottom of the holiday-slasher barrel with this turd. This film isn’t bad. It’s diabolical. The plot is clichéd, none of the characters are likeable, and the acting is as wooden as Paul McCartney’s ex’s leg. But you know what I’m going to say next, right? It’s this stuff that makes the film enjoyable! Yes, that’s right, we’ve come across another “shit but good” movie for me to take the piss out of.

Can I start by saying that these women are total bitches? Seriously, why are these women friends with each other? One is dating an alcoholic and her friends are doing virtually nothing to help. They’re all so wrapped up in their crappy little dramas like how one of them used to be fat and can’t get any dick and how one of them is dating a famous artist who wants a three-way. Who needs friends like that? One of them does help eventually by taking the miserable cow speed-dating but then cock-blocks her by flirting with the one attractive guy in the room. Who the fuck does that!? I’ll tell you who: Dr Christmas Jones!

Christmas JonesPictured: renowned nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones

The lack of likeable characters does, oddly enough, help the film because you end up rooting for the killer. If you can’t root for the heroes then you might as well root for the villain. This is apparent in the opening scene with Katherine Heigl. As far as celebrities go, she is one of the most shankable. Her character is equally annoying…and kind of dumpy. She is the sort of girl who practices autopsies in a scary looking building by herself with the lights off. In other words, she’s asking to be killed. I almost let out a sigh of relief or a victory cheer when it happened.

Now, some of you may get annoyed by the predictability of this film. Not me. I like it when horror movies follow the traditional formula. It’s fun to shout at the stupid white girl running up the stairs instead of out the door. It’s also fun to scream obscenities at the chick who’s going into the basement to use the hot tub by herself despite knowing that two of her friends have been horribly butchered and that her friends have been receiving death threats. Pointing out the flaws of idiots is one of life’s greatest treasures.

If I wanted a smart and unique horror film, I’d watch something like Rosemary’s Baby. I wouldn’t watch an early noughties slasher with Buffy’s boyfriend in it. Having said that, stupid horror films have their own charm and part of the fun can is figuring out what all the characters are doing wrong. For some horror movies, it’s a laugh to ask yourself: “what would I do differently?” The answer for this movie? Every fucking thing because the characters in Valentine are the worst characters to ever appear in a horror movie.

Gingerbread manOK, maybe not THE worst

High-lights:

  • If you’re a fan of BoJack Horseman you can make a lot of David Boreanaz jokes.
  • The neighbour who breaks into the main character’s apartment to try on her panties. Hysterical.
  • Katherine Heigl popping her clogs early on.
  • “BITCH! DON’T GO IN THERE!”

Downers:

  • Objectively speaking, this is a terrible movie.

Summary:

There are two types of people out there who would like this film. The first is a person who has little or no taste. The second is a person who has taste but enjoys taking the piss out of bad movies or watches them ironically. I am a film snob and a douchebag, so I fall into the latter category. If you’re the sort of person who can only watch good movies then stay away from this holiday-slasher turkey. If, on the other hand, you can laugh at other people’s failings then by all means proceed! A lot of fun can be had by pointing and laughing at stupid characters

Objective score: 3/10

Stoner score: 7/10

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Filed under Crap, Good, Horror

A Letter to Momo (2011)

A Letter to Momo

Genre: Animation, Drama, Comedy

Cast: Voice actors you will not have heard of

Synopsis: After her father dies, a young girl and her mother move to a remote island in southern Japan. While there she meets and eventually befriends three spirits.

The London film festival is a couple of weeks away and I decided to venture into bankruptcy by buying tickets for a few films. One film I will be seeing is a Japanese anime called Giovanni’s Island, which is a war drama and produced by the same company that did A Letter to Momo. I thought I should watch that film first to get a taste of what the company makes, and A Letter to Momo came highly recommended from my brother.

I was happy to find that the film, for the most part, is a slow-burning and thoughtful drama about a young girl coping with the death of her father. Before he died, she said some nasty words to him and he left her part of a letter. The only words in the letter were: “Dear Momo.” Momo and her mother then relocate to a rural Japanese island to start their life over but Momo has a hard time fitting in and she can’t stop thinking about what her father tried to write. Things get more complicated when she meets three troublesome spirits.

I think the thing I liked most about this movie was that it looked and felt very Japanese. In some anime films, including some Studio Ghibli films, the directors and animators take inspiration from the works of European writers, animation, and architecture. As a result, the films sometimes lose their Japanese-ness. A Letter to Momo is different. For starters, the film is set in a rural Japanese community in an area of the country that isn’t often shown in films. The whole thing screams Japan: the environment, the houses, even the sound. I’m told that the only thing you can hear in Japan in the summer is the sound of cicadas. Even the spirits are based on traditional Japanese folklore and artwork…you know the kind, right? The really beautiful ornate pictures on the scrolls.

Japan fart artSuch beauty!

My point is, if you want to see a movie that captures a slice of Japanese life that you have not seen before then A Letter to Momo is a good option. Plus, it skilfully avoids the other aspects of Japanese life that are perhaps not so attractive, like tentacle porn or teenagers with weird fetishes.

OctopusI could have gone a lot weirder than this so be thankful

If I were to level one criticism at this film it would be that it does not have a strong finish. I won’t spoil the ending but will simply reveal that it’s too saccharine. It’s a bit of a disappointment considering that the film does a great job of building a coherent, sophisticated, and emotional drama. It’s hard to make a drama that engages a parson’s sense of empathy but to make a cartoon that does that is a damn sight harder. That’s why it’s such a shame about this film’s ending. It was so well until it got about 90 per cent of the way through. I’ve seen worse endings for sure but it still could have been handled better.

High-lights:

  • A very sophisticated drama with the right amount of comedy injected at all the right places.
  • Beautifully animated.
  • Shows a part of Japan that western audiences may not be familiar with. I’d love for my commute to be on a boat!
  • I want the house that’s in this movie.

Downers:

  • Disappointing ending.
  • They’re going to kill the baby boars!!??

Summary

Despite my criticism of the ending, I still think that A Letter to Momo is worth your time. It manages to marry drama with wit, which is not an easy thing for any film to do. If you’re looking for an unusual and unique animated film then this could definitely be up your street.

7.5/10

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Filed under Animation, Comedy, Drama, Good

The Matrix (1999)

The_Matrix_Poster

Genre: Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne

Synopsis: A hacker escapes from a simulated reality called “the matrix” and must now fight in a war against the evil machines that enslaved humanity and trapped them in the matrix.

I remember the first time I watched this movie. I could not have been any older than twelve. At the time, I would say about 80 per cent of this film went over my head. As a result, I had always seen this movie as very complex but I remember enjoying it immensely. In the years since I first saw The Matrix, I have re-watched it several times as well as seen its sequels (both of which were rather appalling). My understanding of the film grew and I finally decided to do a review of it for the blog because I think it’s exactly the sort of film that stoners can enjoy.

One of the things that stands out in The Matrix is its high-octane action scenes. The fight-choreography in this movie is not only impeccable but also innovative. The film successfully marries hand-to-hand combat with wire-work and special effects. The fight scene between Neo and Morpheus still impresses me. I know it has been parodied so many times over the years, but think back to when the movie first came out and when you saw the bullet dodge scene. I bet your mouth dropped and that you said some nice things.

Doge MatrixMuch like this

While the action scenes certainly impress, I also enjoy the film because it is a live-action tribute to Japanese animation, notably Ghost in the Shell. The Wachowskis readily recognise the way Ghost in the Shell influenced the style and themes of The Matrix and I appreciate any director who is willing to give a nod to his or her sources. Give credit where it’s due! Not only that, the Wachowskis took a lot of the themes in Ghost in the Shell and adapted them seamlessly into a film that would appeal to a Western market. It’s one thing to simply copy a film, but to take a film’s core and build an entirely new film around it (a film which is very good in its own way) is admirable. If anything, The Matrix displays the Wachowskis’ passion for great cinema and their talent for translating great premises into films that will make a lot of money.

If I were to level some criticism at The Matrix it would only be two points. Firstly, the characters can be pretty hollow at times. Half of the Nebuchadnezzar’s are not developed and when they are killed off you don’t find yourself caring that much. Plus, why is that woman wearing white!!?? Did she miss the group meeting where they all decided to wear black?

Matrix fashionSeriously, sort it out. You look like a twat.

The second point is all the unnecessary violence. I understand that this film requires a lot of violence because of the sort of film it is but why do Neo and Trinity have to kill so many innocent people? Take the scene where they infiltrate the building to rescue Morpheus and they have to get through security. Basically, they shoot the place up and kill maybe 20 security guards in the process. Those guards probably have families. They probably woke up and were like: “oh shit, another work day but I’m sure it’ll be ok.” Then, all of a sudden, two freaks show up with automatic weapons. It’s funny that Neo is the “the chosen one” but displays a total disregard for human life. It’s films like this that show America’s fascination with weaponry and just who scary and distasteful it is….but then again, it was an epic action scene so I guess I can get over it.

High-lights:

  • Mind-bending, jaw-dropping, face-slappingly awesome action scenes.
  • Complex plot and great story-line. I never get bored watching this film.
  • Great tribute to Japanese animation.
  • Some really memorable performances from Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving.

Downers:

  • Just keep repeating to yourself: “the sequels never happened…the sequels never happened…”
  • Flat supporting characters.
  • Maybe too violent in places.

Summary:

It’s easy to see why this film is a defining moment in the sci-fi genre. Up until its release, audiences had seen nothing like it and, 15-years on, there are few sci-fi films that can hold a candle to it. Jesus Christ! 15 years!? This is making me feel old!

9/10

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Filed under Action/Adventure, Great, Sci-Fi

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Romancing the Stone

Genre: Romance, Comedy, Action/Adventure

Cast: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito

Synopsis: A wussy romance writer goes off to Colombia to rescue her sister who has been kidnapped. There, she gets lost in the jungle and meets a rugged yet brutish Michael Douglas.

Ordinarily, I’m not the sort of guy who likes chick-flicks. In fact, it’s a rule of mine to avoid most chick-flicks. However, I’m willing to break that rule if the movie was made in the 1980s. It was a golden age for the genre, before all the Julia Roberts, Meg Ryans, and Katherine Heigls came along to incite my hatred. I decided to switch my viewing routine up a little by watching a classic rom-com from the 80s. My mother recommended Romancing the Stone so, last Friday, I chilled out, got into my comfy PJs and then got in touch with my feminine side.

Cat LadyWhat my feminine side looks like

I can see why this film is so popular with some women. For starters, the main character is, in fact, a crazy cat lady. She is the most stereotypical female shut-in you can imagine: she writes erotic literature, has conversations with her cat, and throws plates around for no reason. Her erotic fiction isn’t even that good. As a (struggling/failing) writer, I found myself screaming at the laptop and trying to reason with her that she should not under any circumstances hand in the draft to her publisher. Still, part of me was envious. She has my dream life: beautiful apartment in the city and a fuck-off easy job. Plus, Kathleen Turner has the voice I want. It’s like butter mixed with sex.

Butter Sex…Or not

Turner’s voice makes me want to start smoking a pack of 20 a day. Anyway, this film successfully overcame the first of my hurdles that rom-coms regularly stumble at: it has a main character who is flawed but still likeable.

What about the male lead? Well, as far as panty droppers go, Michael Douglas is not the most desirable of men. It’s something that really confused me in Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. The man is, quite simply, swimming in vagina. It’s a mystery to me, but I actually quite like that the male lead in this film is not a super-stud. It gives me hope that one day I too can find someone who doesn’t look like a smacked arse. Plus, when he threw a kilo of weed onto a camp fire and inhaled I wanted to cheer. I wonder if that works.

I think the thing that really stood out for me in this movie is that I hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. The plot is ridiculous. I mean, a lady gets mugged and kidnapped by a ten year old and then Kathleen Turner’s character befriends a drug cartel leader after she finds out he’s a fan of her work. Plus, this film has crocodiles and Danny DeVito. Romancing the Stone’s quirkiness is definitely its biggest strength and I think it will be hard to find another romantic-comedy that is as bizarre and unique.

High-lights:

  • Kathleen Turner’s voice.
  • Turner and Douglas have really good chemistry.
  • Danny DeVito can do no wrong.

Downers:

  • This film makes it look like being a writer is really easy.
  • It’s depressing to think I will never have a crazy romance like the one in this film.
  • I don’t think drug cartelists in real life are as friendly as the one in the movie.

Summary:

Romancing the Stone isn’t perfect by any means, but it knows how silly it is and plays into that. It’s a film sweeps you up in the adventure and it avoids a lot of the problems I find in romantic comedies. Romancing the Stone is the sort of film I think most people can enjoy. There is something for everyone: action, comedy, good character development, even a cheeky nipple slip right at the start. Even if you’re not a fan of romantic comedies, this one should still manage to keep you entertained.

7/10

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Filed under Action/Adventure, Comedy, Good, Romance

Jaws (1975)

Jaws

Genre: Drama, Horror

Cast: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw

Synopsis: An island community popular with tourists is terrorised by a man-eating shark that refuses to go away.

If I had to name the one film that started my love affair with movies, it would be this one. I first remember watching this when I was five years old. Jaws was my grandmother’s favourite film and she never missed an opportunity to watch it. She was also of the opinion that a little fear never hurt anyone, even children, and she is therefore directly responsible for my crippling fear of the ocean and sharks.

shark-dogEven the cute ones

However, you have to hand it to her: he did have impeccable taste in movies. Jaws is not only one of the best scary movies, but it is also one of the greatest movies ever made. Period. Who can seriously look at this film and deny its excellence? It has everything: killer acting, killer sound, killer cinematography, a killer shark. It is, simply put, a recipe for success.

If there are two thing in this movie that do not get enough credit, it’s the writing and editing. Have any of you read the novel by Peter Benchley? It’s not terrible by any means but it’s trashy as hell. In addition to a subplot involving the mafia, there’s a storyline in which Hooper bangs chief Brody’s wife. The screenwriters (Benchley himself as well as Carl Gottlieb) did a magnificent job at cutting all the unnecessary baggage out of the film and at writing a film that kept the whole thing simple yet sharp.

While the screenwriters laid the foundations, Verna Fields’ masterful editing really gave the film its power. Despite being about a fucking enormous shark, the film does not show much of it…partly because the fake shark looked like a giant turd. Instead, the film toys with the audience’s imagination by revealing very little. We all know what the villain of the movie is so there’s no need to actually show it; our imaginations can fill in the blanks. In fact, it’s scarier if we don’t see the attack coming. It’s as if the shark is a force of nature, killing ruthlessly and then disappearing without trace. It’s no wonder the film won an Oscar for editing.

Credit has to go to the stellar cast but particular kudos should go to the three male leads: Scheider, Dreyfuss, and Shaw. The interesting thing about Jaws is that, while it is a horror film, it’s also a brilliant character study. Here you have these three men, all from different walks of life, facing off against a 25-foot monster and bringing their own flaws to the picture. Chief Brody is the underdog of the picture. He’s uneducated not only about the ways of the island and its inhabitants but also the shark and the ocean. Hooper, on the other hand, is a veritable expert on sharks and the ocean, but he’s naïve and he admires the shark, seeing it as a fascinating specimen. Quint, finally, is the captain Ahab of the picture: obsessed and reckless. The best parts of the film are when these three men interact with one another. It’s when they argue and it’s when they joke.

I could insert my own joke here but I’m not going to. Instead I am going to post this scene from the film. In my opinion, it’s of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema. This, without question, corroborates everything I have said in this post and displays why Jaws is truly one of the greatest films ever made.

High-lights:

  • Scary as hell. I still don’t go into the ocean.
  • Perfect acting, editing, sound, and cinematography.
  • The Indianapolis speech still gives me chills.
  • A film that shows the power of an audience’s imagination.

Downers:

  • The fake shark looks shit. I can’t get around that fact but this film was made in the 1970s. I’ve got to cut it some slack.

Summary:

What else is there to say? This film is about as perfect as a film could possibly be.

10/10

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Filed under Drama, Horror, Mind Blowingly Awesome

Komodo (1999)

Komodo_FilmPoster

Genre: Horror

Cast: Kevin Zegers, Billy Burke, Jill Hennessy

Synopsis: After a boy is attacked by some unseen monster and his parents savagely killed in their island holiday home, a psychologist decides to take him back to the scene of the crime which is perhaps the stupidest thing you could ever do. Turns out komodo dragons did it.

I fucking love monster movies and I’m always looking for new, weird, and wonderful films in this genre to watch. Watching Skyfall the other week, I remember being really impressed by the komodo dragon scene and I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be good to have a komodo dragon creature feature?” A light bulb turned on in my head and I suddenly remembered that there was a monster movie of this sort: Komodo.

It seems like the 90s was a bumper decade for monster movies. I suspect it was because the special effects team behind Jurassic Park revolutionised the way these movies were made. Suddenly everyone wants to make a film with some sort of monster by using special effects. Unfortunately for some movies, special effects didn’t evolve fast enough and ambitious projects became disasters. I’m looking at you Congo.

congo1No, wait! Look away! It’s too painful.

To be honest, the special effects in Komodo are not actually that bad. There are some scenes in this film where the komodo dragons even look pretty realistic. The trouble with this film, however, is that virtually nothing else is realistic. The acting and the dialogue, in particular, spoil any sense of fantasy. I suppose I should not have expected much from this movie, but it’s pretty jarring when the lead actress asks: “What are these things!?” Bitch! They’re Komodo Dragons! Didn’t you read the script?

Looking back on it, none of the characters are that impressive. The main character is this emotionally fragile kid. Sure, you’d be fucked up if you saw your parents and dog savaged by a giant lizard, but I doubt you would go full-on Lord of the Flies like this kid does. Also, I’m about 99.99% confident that you would not return to the place where your parents were killed. The chances of you forgetting that giant lizards ate your parents are slim to none. Plus, the lead make actor reminds me of a serial killer. There’s something creepy about the way he talks about his wife’s disappearance…like it was actually him who killed her and then the dragons conveniently showed up. That certainly would have made for a more interesting twist.

While the film does suffer from flaws, I still found myself enjoying it. Komodo is the sort of film that becomes tolerable if you can dial down the voice in your head that’s telling you its crap; and it can be quite fun if you can silence that voice altogether. As far as monster movies go, I’ve seen much better. Then again, I’ve seen much worse.

Jaws 4So much worse

High-lights:

  • The komodo dragon is so under-represented in creature features so it’s good to a movie about them.
  • Not bad graphics.
  • Some pretty jumpy moment.

Downers:

  • The acting and dialogue bring the movie down. It’s odd: some of the actors are well-known and have done better things. I mean, the lead actress was in Law and Order for years!
  • Poor dog…now I’m sad.
  • I think the movie is supposed to be a metaphor about how oil companies are evil, but Komodo seems like a weird platform to voice that message. Surely the message should be: komodo dragons are awesome?

Summary:

Komodo is the sort of film you might want to watch on a rainy afternoon, or late at night when no-one else is around to judge you for your silly choices. If you do decide to watch this movie, just make sure that you leave logic and reason at the door. If you don’t, this movie will seem like one giant mess. I mean, this movie IS one giant mess but you tend not to notice as much when in the company of Mary Jane.

6/10

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Filed under Good, Horror