classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Juno

While I would not call Juno a sleeper hit in 2007, nor a surprise at the 2008 Oscars winning one of the four it was nominated for (winning for Best Screenplay and nominated for Best Director, Actress, and Picture) I did not see this film talked about as much compared to some of the other films that year. That being said it was still a fantastic film and I would put this very high on the must see movie list. Spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

16 year old Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) becomes pregnant after sleeping with one of her best friends, and someone who has been in love with her for a long time, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She makes an appointment at the abortion clinic, but after arriving there changes her mind and decides to have the baby adopted. Juno, along with her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) tell her father Mac and stepmother Brenda (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney) she is pregnant and they offer support in her decision. Juno finds the seemingly perfect couple in Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman). Over the pregnancy Juno struggles with her feelings for Paulie, as well as spending time with the Lorings, more specifically Mark which may or may not backfire later. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the movie.

As stated before this was one of the best films I have seen, from the Oscar winning script by Diablo Cody, the incredible and funny performances not just by Page who stands out in her own way, but by all the cast, the amazing directing by Jason Reitman to the rather unique soundtrack, I personally have not downloaded the songs but if you like them than go for it.

Like many of the critics who praised Juno, I loved how Juno chose against abortion and go for adoption. I’d rather not go political on my blog and I have no intention on explaining my views on abortion because it is not worth getting into an internet fight if someone is against or for abortion. All I will say is for this film I am happy with the decision Juno made. While I would not say the film glamorizes teen pregnancy it had an effect. Shortly after the film, and other films such as Knocked Up came out 17 high school students of Gloucester Massachusetts were expecting, TIME called it “The Juno Effect.” Many blamed statistics others blamed the movies; it was rather interesting watching and reading about this. I have no experience in any of this so I am probably the last person to take advice from, but if I may say something on the matter: be safe, be responsible and be smart.

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classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Rebel Without A Cause

One of the most iconic films of the 1950’s and one of the very few films to portray teenagers as not perfect. This film also has tragic stories for its three leads of the film. If you have not seen it spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Jim Stark (James Dean) is arrested for being publicly drunk and is taken to the local juvenile division of the local police. He meets two other teens: John Crawford aka Plato (Sal Mineo) and Judy (Natalie Wood). Plato was arrested for shooting dead puppies while Judy broke curfew. Problems at home are soon revealed for all three teens: Jim is angry with his parents constant bickering and his father failing to stand up for himself (he screams “You’re TEARING ME APART” when they fight at the station, an iconic line from the movie), Judy believes her father does not love her anymore because she is no longer a little girl and the clothes she wears only cause more resentment, and finally Plato’s mother is never around. The next day at school Jim, who has become enamored with Judy, offers her a ride home only to be stopped by her “friends” a gang of teens. Their leader Buzz (Corey Allen) challenges Jim to a knife fight, with Jim almost winning. Buzz then asks for a chicken run with stolen cars. Jim agrees and Plato comes along, seeing Jim almost as a father figure. The chicken run tragically does not go as planned and Jim, Plato and Judy are forced to deal with their home lives, the gang coming after them as well as become closer together, almost acting out a fantasy as a family. I will say this if you expect this film to have a happy ending, brace yourself.

This has been listed multiple times as one of the best films ever made, and with good reason.  It was not only well written and well acted this was one of the few films back then that showed not all home lives were picture perfect: teenagers acting out, families arguing, gangs, young tragic deaths, etc. The performances by Dean, Wood and Mineo are the best parts of the film, Mineo and Wood nominated for Oscars and Dean’s going down as the best performance of his career, which makes their stories more tragic. Dean, just off his Oscar nominated role of East of Eden, died in a car accident on September 30, 1955 before the film was released. Mineo was murdered on February 12, 1976 and finally Natalie Wood drowned on November 29, 1981, a case that is still in the news. Tragic stories for a movie with many tragedies in the plot itself. I would highly recommend watching Rebel Without A Cause as soon as possible, it is that good.

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film, James Bond

Movie Review: Licence To Kill

Without question the darkest Bond film in the franchise. It also served as the final film for Timothy Dalton as Bond, Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny and Robert Brown as M. If this is what happens when Bond takes things personally, I do NOT want to be on his bad side. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Bond and Felix Leiter (David Hedison returning from Live and Let Die) are on their way to Felix’s wedding when they get a call that drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) is in the area. A quick stop there and Sanchez is captured. However shortly after Felix and his wife Della (Priscilla Barnes) marry, Sanchez bribes DEA agent Ed Killifer (Everett McGill) for his freedom. Sanchez and his henchman Dario (Benicio Del Toro) take Felix to an aquarium owned by Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe), an associate of Sanchez. Bond hears Sanchez escaped and arrives to find Felix maimed, courtesy of a tiger shark, and Della dead and possibly raped. Bond and a friend Sharkey (Frank McRae) investigate leading to the aquarium and discover Sanchez’s submarine used for smuggling cocaine. Bond kills Killifer by forcing him to drop into the shark tank. An angry M demands Bond report to his mission and Bond resigns to go after Sanchez. M instead suspends him and revokes his licence to kill. Bond, along with a friend of Felix at the CIA Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell), an unauthorized Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and Sanchez’s mistress Lupe (Talisa Soto), aim to stop Sanchez once and for all.

As I said this is the darkest Bond in the entire franchise, and with good reason. While I admit the writing could have been better in a few places and a couple of things don’t make sense the characters make up for it. Bond is a man without anything to lose and it shows; I personally think between Dalton’s two performances as 007 this is his better one. My thoughts on Pam will be later so I’d like to focus on the others. Lupe is a pretty good Bond girl, admittedly very damsel and “oh James”, but nonetheless she gave Pam a run for her money as who would Bond end up with. Sanchez is one of my favorite villains in the Bond franchise; he is so evil, creepy and overall just a good bad guy. I don’t see him on many top Bond villains list; which I understand there are better villains, but I still love to hate this guy. While this was not his first film Del Toro stood out as the maniacal Dario; on a side note Dario and Sanchez’s death are two of the most gruesome/spectacular in the franchise along with Krest. Brown’s final appearance as M really packed a punch and I was  disappointed for two reasons. When Bond flees M prevents someone from shooting him not because he cared but because “there are too many people”, come on really. Also there seems to be no reconciliation at the end of the movie even though Felix says m has a job for Bond. Bliss is only on screen for probably two minutes, and not the best Moneypenny, but if it wasn’t for her Q wouldn’t have been there to help. This is my favorite Q performance out of Llewellyn because he basically defies orders to help Bond out, showing as much as he gets annoyed at him Q has a soft spot for 007, I also liked his scenes with Pam. While I would not say Licence to Kill should be placed high on a recommendation list, I would still say if you like the Bond franchise then watch this movie.

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Disney, film

Movie Review: Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2

I said I would do this later, and while it is later than I probably planned I keep my word. While yes this is not a great direct to DVD movie I would not go so far as to say terrible, it is definitely more kid-friendly than the first one. The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 has much of the cast returning to reprise their roles, along with a few new ones. If interested then spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Six years after the first film, Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) still lives in the Notre Dame with the gargoyles Victor (Charles Kimbrough), Hugo (Jason Alexander) and Laverne (Jane Withers as Mary Wickles passed away shortly after the original film). Esmeralda (Demi Moore) and Captain Phoebus (Kevin Kline) have married and has a son Zephyr (Haley Joel Osment). They along with Clopin (Paul Kandel) and everyone else in Paris are preparing for the “Le Jour d’Amour”, basically France’s version of Valentine’s Day. Quasimodo is preparing to ring the bell that will be used during the festival, La Fidele, the faithful one and based on Notre Dame’s biggest bell the Emmanuel. At the same time a circus has come to town led by Sarousch (Michael McKean). While the people are excited, the circus are full of thieves taking jewelry and money while the people are looking at the show. Sarousch intends to steal La Fidele for the gold and jewels on the inside of the bell and sends his assistant Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) to find out where the bell is. Madellaine comes across Quasimodo and they get along well, until she sees his face. Sarousch insists she get close to Quasimodo to find out about La Fidele. Madellaine soon realizes how kind Quasimodo is and she and Quasimodo fall in love. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the movie.

I was happy most of the cast came back for the film and I liked some of the newer characters, Zephyr and Madellaine specifically. I was happy Quasimodo got a happy ending, not that he didn’t before in the original film but at least it was love; everyone deserves love. Phoebus and Esmeralda’s relationship was cute to watch, not as cute as watching them fall in love in the original but still nice to watch. However the film is not that great. For starters the writing and story could have been better. It also seemed some character development from the first film decreased in this film, for example Phoebus seemed to hold prejudices that in the first film did not seem to be there. The songs are as well not memorable, that’s not just me comparing to the first film they are really not memorable. Finally Sarousch is just a greedy person, definitely not as good a villain as Frollo. Would I recommend this film though, maybe. It is without question not as great as the first film in my opinion, but if you like happy endings and you did like the first film then go ahead.

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film, must see

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionaire

To say this movie is one of the biggest sleeper hits of all time would be arguably the biggest understatement I’ve ever made on this blog. Released in 2008/2009 Slumdog Millionaire, based loosely on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, cleaned up at the 2009 Academy Awards winning eight out of the 10 awards it was nominated for, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Song, Best Director for Danny Boyle and the biggest one of all Best Picture. If you have not seen this amazing movie spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

The film opens with Jamal Malik (Dev Patel with Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as the child and Tanay Chheda as the teenager) on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and is one question away from winning 20 million (about 310,000 in U.S money but still nothing to sneeze at.) However the police detain and torture Jamal believing he is cheating because he is just a slumdog and he wouldn’t know the answers. Through a series of flashbacks we learn, along with the police, just how Jamal knows the answers and who matters in his life.

As a child Jamal, along with his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal with Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as the child and Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala) flee their village during the Bombay riots after their mother is caught in the blast. Jamal convinces Salim to take another child from the slum; Latika (Frieda Pinto with Rubina Ali as the child and Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar as a teen) saying she could be their third Musketeer. The three of them stick together for a long time until they meet Maman (Ankur Vikal) a gangster who uses children for his profit. Salim deliberately leaves Latika behind when he and Jamal escape, much to Jamal’s horror. Jamal spends the next few years trying to find Latika, having fallen in love with her, but many obstacles including Salim stand in his way. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the film.

I actually watched the Oscars that year and even through I had not watched the movie yet I was pretty happy when Slumdog won basically all of their awards. I had wanted to see the movie as soon as possible. It took a few years, but I did watch it last year and absolutely loved it. Dev Patel was incredible as Jamal, his character had me hooked every time he was on screen, and I will say he is pretty handsome. Frieda Pinto is also amazing as Latika, she is so sweet, beautiful and strong; I could definitely tell why Jamal fell for her. The other characters are just as amazing; I cannot say enough good things about this movie. My favorite scene is of course the ending with Jamal and Latika dancing to “Jai Ho” in true Bollywood fashion; I have never seen a Bollywood musical, or anything Bollywood for that matter so this for me was just awesome. If you have not seen Slumdog Millionaire put this at the top of the list, just a word to the wise put on the closed caption there is a lot of whispering.

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film

Movie Review: Clue

If you are thinking I’m missing the “less” at the end of the title no I am not, that is something for another day. No, today I’m talking about the 1985 movie based on the board game. Haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. It is a cult classic not often talked about, but it is absolutely hilarious. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Taking place in 1954 six strangers under pseudonyms picked out by an then unknown party meet in a gorgeous mansion. The six are identified as Ms. Scarlet (Lesley Ann Warren), Col. Mustard (Martin Mull), Ms. White (Madeline Kahn), Prof. Plum (Christopher Lloyd), Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan) and Mr. Green (Michael McKean). They are greeted by the butler Wadsworth (Tim Curry) and also meet the cook Mrs. Ho (Kellye Nakahara) and the maid Yvette (Collen Camp). In the middle of dinner another guest Mr. Boddy (Lee Vang) arrives. Wadsworth revels what each of the guests, and himself, have in common: they are all being blackmailed by Mr. Body, and he has the evidence to prove it to the police. Body says if he is arrested, the world will know everyone’s secret. He hands out presents to the guests each containing a weapon: a revolver, a rope, a wrench, a candlestick, a lead pipe and a knife suggesting one of them kill Wadsworth and just walk away. He turns out the lights, but when they are turned back on he is the one who is dead. No one claims to have killed him and soon with more people arriving bodies begin to drop. They soon have to figure who, where and what killed Mr. Body and the others.

While I would not go so far as to say this is a great film, it is absolutely funny. Tim Curry steals the entire movie, especially when he reveals how he knows who the killer is, and annoying the heck out of everyone else. The other six stand out in their own way, some maybe more hilarious than others. Yvette also plays a big part and the way she is dressed you can’t help but stare and laugh when basically all the guys look at her. The script is very well written and I promise you will be laughing many times in the movie. Before putting this on your recommendation list I should probably say if renting this movie there are three endings to pick from. Which is why I recommend streaming the film, either if it’s on Netflix wherever you are, Hulu if it is there, any movie channel you can DVR; basically anything you can stream or record Clue on.

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Disney, film

Movie Review: Disney’s Tarzan

The last film to be considered a part of the Disney Renaissance of the 90’s. Released in 1999 and based on one of the Tarzan books, specifically Tarzan of the Apes this is my brother’s favorite Disney movie, and one of mine as well. Sadly I do not see this film on many top whatever number you want Disney films which is somewhat disappointing because I think this version of Tarzan is pretty good. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Taking place from the 1860’s til 1882 we see Tarzan (Tony Goldwin with Alex D. Linz as a child) as a baby being adopted by Kala (Glenn Close) rescuing him from Sabor a leopardess who is responsible for the deaths of Tarzan’s parents as well as Kala’s child. Some of the animals such as ape Terk (Rosie O’Donnell) and paranoid elephant Tantor (Wayne Knight) become friends with Tarzan, but Kerchak (Lance Henrikson) Kala’s mate and leader of the group still refuses to fully accept Tarzan. Sometime later humans return to the jungle: Professor Archimedes Q. Porter (Nigel Hawthorne in his final role before he passed away), his daughter Jane (Minnie Driver) and their hunter/guide Clayton (Brian Blessed). Tarzan, fascinated by others like him, becomes close to them specifically Jane. Tarzan must soon decide what world he belongs in, while someone in that group is not who they appear to be.

As I said before this is one of my family’s favorite Disney films, and with good reason. The film has action, drama, many funny bits, romance and so much more. The characters are amazing, are voice by a famous actor and each have a story to tell. Everyone has a lesson to be learned and the development is fantastic, on a side note how the villain dies in this film is particularly brutal. Of course I cannot forget the fabulous Grammy award winning soundtrack with songs by the legendary Phil Collins which many considered to be a comeback. While not a musical the songs have gone down as some of the best in Disney, Collins wrote the songs for the film, here are some of my favorites: “You’ll Be In My Heart” which one the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Original Song and was nominated for a Grammy, “Two Worlds” “Son of Man” “Strangers Like Me” and “Trashin’ the Camp”, with two versions on the soundtrack one you hear in the film with Terk and other apes and another with Collins and *NSYNC. The film spun off into a TV series showcasing Tarzan, Jane, the Professor, Terk, Tantor and the other characters lives in the jungle and the adventures they have, two spin off films one focusing on Tarzan and a kid and other off the TV series and a short lived Broadway musical. On a final note it was placed in the American Film Institution’s top 10 animated films  If you have not seen Tarzan, I would highly recommend watching it.

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