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Citizen Kane (1941)
Written on the Wind (1956)
A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
Days of Heaven (1978)
Comedy: Groundhog Day (1993) A Fish Called Wanda (1988) This Is Spinal Tap (1975) Dr Strangelove (1962) Twins (1990) Back to the Future (1985) Smiles of a Summer Night (1955) Man Bites Dog (1992) Harold and Maude (1971) Rocky Horror (1975) Zoolander (2001)
Horror: Scream (1996) The Shining (1980) The Virgin Spring (1960) Alien (1979)
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)
So good its good: a B-movie masterpiece.
Look, I was blown away by this movie. Your expectations should be set pretty low and cheesy according to the title, so I couldn't believe how much exploitation fun this delivered. This goes way above the "so bad its good" films, this is clearly satire, intentionally satirical, and it delivers Chainsaws, Hookers and a hard-boiled Hollywood crime reporter. Plenty of boobs and blood, excellent picture quality on the blu ray from the Slasher Classics Collection in the UK that has clearly not been monkeyed with because some flaws in the print can be seen, which is terrific. Audio is a bit disappointing, probably because of the low budget production conditions, but its pretty muddy and difficult to hear. There's a rockin' soundtrack that still sounds good though. Overall amazing. A+++
Beautiful People (2014)
If you can get past the opening home invasion scene, the next one drags into oblivion...
A group of foul thugs pick the wrong house (I guess) to do their second home invasion on in this film. I mean, I wouldn't know because I had enough after 30 minutes. Most people switch off after ten, so I can help you more than them I suppose.
So what's wrong with this movie? Well, the situation is as harrowing as Funny Games, which it is clearly "inspired" by, but the acting and writing here are so painfully stilted and poor that there is no reason to keep watching. Sure the thugs say horrible things to these poor people, but during the twenty minutes of intimidation tactics that come after the opening credits, there's just no way to keep going unless the bone in your head the perceives truth and reality is broken. I'm not sure if its a language-barrier thing, because I heard some thick accents, but the performances are equally bad from the Father as from the Cockney Home Invader, who gives some of the worst line-readings this side of Samurai Cop.
I would not recommend this movie to even the most eager gorehounds, and that is the only crowd who will get past the brutal opening ten minutes. Oh, this is also one of those movies where they show you a monster during the opening credits because they aren't planning on showing it to you for another very slow hour, or what feels like an hour. I watched half of it, but life's too short. And bear in mind that I've seen A Serbian Film and Martyrs, so if the writing and acting is good enough I can stomach some strong horror, but there's no redeeming features in the first half so I'm out.
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Tropic Thunder is a movie about a movie playing another movie
Apparently, Ben Stiller met actors who were in Platoon and talked about it like they'd been to war, and that struck him as ridiculous and many years later, he helped turn that thought into a war movie.
Tropic Thunder is basically a self-aware action-comedy, a satire on the vanity of movie actors. Its easy to misjudge it, I've found. On first viewing, I just didn't think there were enough jokes. Its a strange animal because it has its feet equally in the action and comedy camps. Its almost as much about becoming the thing, as it is about satirising it. The movie I think is interesting in the way it pushes through the meta stuff to get to some kind of reality. It would make a good introductory text for a class on the nature of truth and reality, if not for how easily misunderstood its dialogue about race and disability groups are. While its clear to me that the intention is to make fun of movie actors at all times, I can understand how some people might have felt the movie was irresponsible in its messages with the "Simple Jack" storyline and the blackface storyline.
I know Downey Jr. was conflicted about accepting the role of a method actor who gets so immersed in his role as a black seargent that he can't drop character, but I'm glad he did accept it, because he's hilarious. He steals every scene he's in. As does Tom Cruise, who many didn't recognise until the closing credits, back in the day. Some of the team players get forgotten. Jay Baruschel is an excellent straight-man. He's the character we relate to, the one actor who hasn't been swallowed up by vanity. Jack Black also has a bit of a thankless job. He's unpleasant as the Fatties star, unpleasant as the drug addict, and has one hilarious scene when he's tied up to the tree. Steve Coogan also has an important part, and he plays it well.
Back in 2008, I was expecting maybe Zoolander or Anchorman, which have maybe 50% more jokes. Tropic Thunder is a different animal. Its a bit more measured, but its way more exciting and immersive than any of the other over the top comedies it gets lumped along with.
Risky title for a Judd "35 mins too long" Apatow movie.
Amy is in her 30's, still living like she's 21, and wild even for that. She's not actually that likable here (this coming from a massive fan of her sketch show) but is joined by the completely affable Bill Hader and the adorable Brie Larson, so it balances out. Oh, and LeBron James is in there for some reason. For what feels like forty-five minutes.
Trainwreck is hilarious, and that's all you need to know before going in. However, as a companion piece to Amy's sketch show, or a movie in its own right, its pretty disappointing. It lacks the structural and cultural anarchy of the sketch show, and is pretty bloated and conventional for an Apatow comedy. There are about 50 terrific laughs, more than worth the price of admission, but considering the fact that Schumer's show has set a new standard for sketch comedy, I'm going to suggest that she can do better than "Trainwreck."
In romantic comedies, protagonists need to be likable, and her persona here is a selfish brat with no redeeming features. That's fine for a regular old comedy, but here there's no reason to care whether she ends up happy or not, therefore its easy to get bored between the jokes. There's a serious lack of coherence to the plotting. There's no progression, it just plays like a series of moments, far too many of which don't feature Amy Schumer, they instead feature LeBron James (for some reason) or Amy's father in an unnecessary nursing home plot. So many characters, so much unnecessary subplot.
Her character is also not quite deep and nuanced enough to justify the length of this movie. But then again, no earthly human can justify the way Apatow movies outstay their welcome. I liked Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin, but in general the man doesn't seem to have an entertainer's sense of when to get offstage. Next time, more sketch comedy, or a movie with one of her TV directors please.
First Knight (1995)
Lancelot and Guinnevere: The Disneyland Version
First Knight is an odd duck. Pretty much everyone is miscast. Julia Ormond overdoes pretty much everything, just relentlessly acting, and completely lacking the grace and subtlety required to play a noble. Richard Gere clearly was having a laugh: he doesn't bother hiding his American accent most of the time, and plays Lancelot as a one-note ladies' man, instead of as the charismatic character of legend. Connery possesses the gravitas to play Arthur, and plays him sincerely, but he brings far too much baggage from being "Sean Connery," to make him believable.
The whole thing feels about as authentic as Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This is truly a prime example of Hollywood's excesses getting in the way of a good time. Yes, its fun if Richard Gere tosses his hair and acts all seductive, and yes I suppose its fun if there's a Wipeout-style obstacle course inserted into the Arthurian legend, but if there isn't a certain basic realism or internal logic to the characters, then a non-parodic narrative film like this is pretty well doomed. These aren't people, they're a bunch of cardboard cut-outs, play-acting around a round table.
Boys and Girls (2000)
Makes American Pie look like Citizen Kane
The year after American Pie, both Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan signed on for the worst script either of them had ever read. My guess is that they had absolutely no better offers that year, because this is a pretty cynical cash-grab. Its just falls flat in every way.
They both play minor characters, which further adds to my theory that this film was a preexisting "make lovers from friends" script featuring Forlani and Prinze Jr's characters that was forced into the old pie-tin once American Pie became a huge hit.
The acting is stilted, the dialogue is horrid, Claire Forlani is miscast as anything but an ice queen and Prinze and Biggs seem like they did a last minute switcheroo in an attempt for both to play against type, but Biggs can't play confident and Prinze is too good looking to be believably shy. I've seen worse movies, but I strongly recommend you don't see this one.
its just not good in any way.
When I was like 10 a friend told me there was a movie where this alien hunts down dudes and kills them one by one...
Predator is an epic, primal adventure; a fight between man and beast, hunter and prey, a tale of survival of the fittest. The Predator is a creature with neon green blood, thermal vision, an invisibility cloak. Its prey are a bunch of bros with guns, including classic parts for Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarznegger. If not for all of his other career-making role in The Terminator, this would be my first exposure to Arnie, as we called him then. He represented, in this movie, the absolute best a man can be. He's good-looking, strong, makes decisions, and says things like "get to the chopper" without a shred of irony. He also says "if it bleeds, we can kill it," and "Do it, do it now!" which are just fun to drop into any dinner party.
The movie is a masterclass in pacing for action films. It works equally well as an action and horror film. In fact, it is the originator of a structure that I have come to think of as the Predator Structure, where people are hunted down and die one by one until only one remains. Its standard blu ray release has incredible sound quality, but just a passable picture. The film was shot with a lot of low lighting, and that doesn't tend to pop on in definition. Its murky and grainy, but still looks better than the previous DVD release.
The only thing that has not aged well are the special effects related to the alien technology: the Predator's heat vision and invisibility cloak always looked bad, but they look positively silly in high def. Once you're used to them, you can easily look past.
Who am I kidding, my love for Predator and Arnie in this movies goes way beyond the measured art of reviewing. This was a childhood favourite of mine and yes I had an awesome childhood. I first heard about it on the handball courts in primary school from this description "an alien hunts down a bunch of marines and kills them one by one, its awesome." I instantly wanted to watch that movie as soon as I could, and I loved it then and have loved it ever since.
Unlawful Entry (1992)
Unlawful Entry: yes, double meaning.
All you need to know about Unlawful Entry is that its title is a pun. Ray Liotta is typecast as the creepy weirdo who has designs on somebody else's Madaleine Stowe.
This might have played as a twist if not for the fact that Ray Liotta is physically incapable of playing a good guy. The only real question is what he wants: does he want the money or the wife? Kurt Russell's character is completely blind about it though. I was shouting at my Laserdisc player at one point: anyone who tells Ray Liotta their security password has clearly never seen a Ray Liotta movie before.
The only other thing worth talking about here is the audacity of the title. It has two meanings. There's a house break-in. There's also a sexual assault. I honestly can't believe that passed quality control. Its just an icky title.
Movie is totally tepid and predictable. Do not recommend.
The Net (1995)
Gripping thriller or goofy time capsule?
I like "The Net." I first saw it back in 1996, on VHS probably. We probably didn't have the Internet yet, or it was very new to us. So this was all very exciting, but scary too. There was a great sense of fear around identity theft. In 2015, we are such internexhibitionists with social media and twitter that people become lax and then their private sex-text photos get shared with billions of people.
The Net is a good thriller with an excellent title that is elevated by the charisma of star Sandra Bullock (still a star in 2015, amazing). Bullock is an incredible role model as a female hero: she is smart, funny, feminine and likable. The main issue for The Net over the years has been the march of time itself. Thrillers require a certain immediacy and immersion, and the mentioning of goofy out of date technological jargon risks dragging you out of the moment. As a period piece, or a time capsule, The Net is perfect, but does it still work as it did for audiences in 1995?
Luckily, the Net is not really about technology, its about the nature of identity in a bureaucracy, explored through the lens of technology, with the interweb as a weapon, and those issues are still relatable, and a movie like The Net serves as a good reminder of how trusting we have become of our internet privacy.
Body Heat (1981)
Hot weather, hot suspense, cool moustache.
Its hot, temperature-wise. William Hurt and Kathleen Turner are passing the time by having an affair, when Bill gets a very bad idea: why not do away with her husband?
Had I known there was a neo-noir element in this movie, I might have watched it sooner. I pretty much expected a non-stop smut-fest. Well, there was hardly any of that, actually. This is not your explicit sex-drama like Last Tango in Paris; there's a lot of sweating, hot breath, horniness, but enough of a thriller element to keep all that from getting too awkward.
Speaking of awkward, I kept getting swept up by Body Heat, when suddenly William Hurt's moustache would creep up and spoil it. Bill just didn't do it for me, and I never really got why he would do it for Kathleen, but I just ignored that personal reaction and found an enjoyable thriller, of the hot-breathed variety.