film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: GoldenEye

Now we are getting into the Bond films I am pretty sure everyone knows about; they may have watched the movie or played the video game either way. Constantly listed as one of the best Bond films, usually within the top 2 at most, GoldenEye was the first Bond film in over six years, and it was well worth the wait,; i would even call it a must see even if you are not a Bond fan. As always spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) along with a fellow MI6 agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) infiltrate and destroy a Soviet chemicals facility holding weapons. Bond escapes but Alec is taken and seemingly killed by Colonel Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov (Gottfried John). Nine years later Bond is assigned to find out more about the Janus crime syndicate, which he does by following one of the members (if you have not seen the film I swear this is the name) Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) does make a joke about it. Unfortunately Bond is one step behind Onatopp after she kills a Canadian Navy admiral for his credentials and steals a Eurocopter Tiger helicopter. She along with Ourumov go to Siberia; stealing the control disks for the Goldeneye satellites, satellite weapons used during the Cold War and massacre the entire staff except for programmer Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming) who is on their side and Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) who hid out until she could escape. Bond is assigned by M (Dame Judi Dench) to investigate the attack. With the help of CIA operative Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker, told you we’d see him again) and reluctant ally Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) Bond meets with the person responsible for everything; Janus aka the not so dead Alec Trevelyan. Having vowed to destroy MI6, not for leaving him dead but for his Cossack parents deaths during World War II, Trevelyan along with Onatopp, Boris and Ourumov plan to use the GoldenEye satellites to destroy the British economy by robbing the Bank of England and erase its finical records. Bond along with Natalya and Wade are determined to make sure that does not happen.

This is without question one of the best Bond films to ever be made and it was sort of a breath of fresh air for the franchise. Many made their debut as characters we know and love; Brosnan as 007, Dench as M and Bond as Moneypenny with only Desmond Llewellyn returning as Q. The Brosnan era Bonds were the ones I think my generation are more familiar with and why these are some of my favorite Bond films, but of course GoldenEye is at the top. I think Brosnan is my second favorite Bond (Connery of course at the top spot) as he is the right amount of charming but dangerous. He is quick to pick up his gun or how to get the bad guy in a deadly position before ultimately executing depending on the situation. I, like I know so many others, absolutely love Judi Dench as M. Many will argue is the best version of that character, but you won’t get it from me. While I think Dench is great as M in this era of Bond we all know she shines in the Craig versions but that is for another day. Before I move on I also love Samantha Bond as Moneypenny; while she does not come close to Lois Maxwell she does very well.

My thoughts on Natalya will be later so I’d like to focus on the characters that let’s face it we all love to hate in this movie; the villains. Sean Bean is one of the finest actors today and this is one of his best works. Trevelyan is basically an evil version of Bond and one of the best villains not just in the franchise but in movies (OK not that high on the list but right where he should be). Ourumov is also fantastic as it seemed for a long time he was the bad guy, but nope. He’s more working for his own goals rather than Trevelyan, but still he is great. I’ve always loved Alan Cumming in movies and he is both a joy and a nuisance to watch here, “I am INVINCIBLE”, really dude. While all three of them stick out in their own way however no villain or femme fatale is more memorable in this film than Onatopp. Let me give you some of the reasons of the top of my head: that name, she is gorgeous as well as deadly, she takes (ahem) pleasure out killing and for the love of God uses her THIGHS to kill a guy while taking pleasure! Tell me that is not crazy. I honestly think this is one of the very few women on the bad guy side that Bond actually does not sleep with, if HE doesn’t sleep with HER you know he knows how nuts he is.

The story of GoldenEye is very well written as is the action. I could not think of a Bond movie up until that point that had more guns and explosions, which is probably why people love this movie so much in addition to the performances. If you have not seen GoldenEye I would say watch this as soon as you can, even if you are not a huge fan of the Bond franchise.

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.

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.

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.

classic, film, must see

Classic Movie Review: Jaws

Do not watch this film before going to the beach, no one is going to want to be anywhere near the water. Based on the 1974 best selling novel by Peter Benchley, which were partly inspired by the real shark attacks at the Jersey Shore in 1916, Jaws was one of the first films to be what is called now a summer block buster. It raked in nearly $471 million at the box office in 1975, and another hit for Steven Spielberg. It is considered to not only be one of, if not the, best horror/thriller/suspense films of all time, but one of the best films ever; hence why I’m putting classic in the title. If you are not scared of sharks before this movie, you will be after. I am someone who is deathly afraid of sharks, yes I know the shark is fake, and I still cannot watch this film without feeling terrified. If you have not seen it spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Amity Island is a popular beach town with many coming to spend a day at the gorgeous beach. During a late night party teenager Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) goes skinny dipping in the ocean. Within moments she is dragged underwater screaming but no one seems to hear her. Her remains are seen the next day and the corner determines it to be a shark attack, more specifically a great white. Police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) asks the mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) to close the beaches for safety but as the town needs the tourism the mayor refuses. A bounty is placed on the shark, prompting amateur hunters to come to town. When a wrong shark is picked up and attacks still continue Brody decides to go after the shark along with professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). The three men then go on a terrifying adventure. I cannot go more into it without spoiling.

I had heard of this movie for many years, but was always scared to watch it. Finally I sucked up and rented it; and I am glad I did. This has the right amount of thrills and believe when I say I was scared to death. I do not care what year it is, this film will forever go down as a classic. The acting in the film, particularity Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfuss, are some of the best in film. Watching these guys on the boat in between the attacks and even during the attacks is something to behold. I’m positive if you have not seen the film you had to have heard of the famous line “You are gonna need a bigger boat.” Scheider actually ad-libed that line, and it has since gone down into classic movie history. That being said, this film is not perfect. There are a few things towards the end of the movie that I am positive cannot happen due to animal nature; the other thing which I’m sure you’ve heard of have scientifically proven to be impossible thanks to the Myth Busters. I of course cannot forget that iconic theme, no one cannot hear that theme without thinking of this film or go “hey that is one of the best themes in movie history.” That theme may have been the reason why Jaws won the Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score (the score also won a Grammy) it also won for best sound and best editing. There were three sequels to Jaws, but only one is worth watching, that is a story for another day. If you have not seen Jaws put this at the very top of the recommendation list, but make sure you are not swimming that day.

film, must see

Movie Review: Speed

A plot that on paper seemed silly, but when on screen it is a pretty good action film. Released in 1994, Speed was a surprise hit to critics and audiences, winning two Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and Mixing. While I don’t think it is the best action movie of all time, it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

LAPD Swat officers Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) prevent a $3 million hostage attempt by a bomber named Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), who seems to commit suicide rather than go to jail. A few months later Jack witnesses a bus explosion with people inside and receives a call from the not so dead Payne. There is another bus rigged to explode if it drives less than 50 miles per hour or passengers leave the bus, unless he is paid $3.7 million. Jack gets to the already moving bus and explains what is going on to the rightly so freaked out passengers and bus driver. Unfortunately things get worse when a small time criminal, think Jack is there for him, accidentally fires his gun and shoots the bus driver. Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) who only takes the bus because of a suspended license, takes the wheel. From then on to say it is one heck of a ride would be a gross understatement.

This was a pretty good and surprisingly well written action movie. Keanu Reeves is fantastic as Jack in every way possible, from his good looks to how his character is. Sandra Bullock, one of my favorites, did such a great job as Annie a woman literally thrown into the situation and well she takes it way better than I would have. Her chemistry with Reeves is excellent, they are very good together on screen. Jeff Daniels as well is great, but I want to talk about Payne for a moment. While there is no question how great Dennis Hopper is as an actor, and I thought he did great with this role, I’ve always had one question about Payne: what is his motive? Most of the villains I watch have a motive to what they do, or they are just crazy. While there is no question how crazy Payne is, in similar situations there is always a motive and it is never addressed on screen. Kinda makes you wonder what is the pain behind Payne, I am sorry I had to say that. If you like action movies then I would put Speed on the recommendation list. Might not be the best, but it is far from the worst (unlike the very poor sequel which I am never going to watch.)

Disney, film, musical, must see, Uncategorized

Movie Review: Disney’s Hercules

Another Disney film that many surprisingly do not know about. Often listed as one of the most underrated Disney films of all time, Hercules, released in 1997, is an amazing animated feature with great songs, relatable characters and a fantastic story. I remember watching this many times as a kid and it is actually one of my brother’s favorite Disney films. Just a heads up if you know your Greek mythology this does not follow Hercules’ exact story so be prepared. If for some reason you have not watched it a spoiler alert is ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

The story is told by the Muses although they are never addressed by name (Lillias White, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Vaneese Y, Thomas). The Greek god Zeus (Rip Torn) and his wife Hera (Samantha Eggar) are celebrating the birth of their child Hercules (Tate Donovan as an adult, Josh Keaton as a teen and Roger Bart provided singing) with all of the gods including their gift to Hercules the horse bird Pegasus (Frank Welker) and the messenger God Hermes (Paul Shaffer), however not everyone is happy. Hades (James Woods) wants to take over Olympus and according to the fates: Clotho Lachesis and Atropos (Amanda Plummer, Carole Shelley and Paddi Edwards) when the planets all align in 18 years Hades must unleash the Titans that Zeus imprisoned, however if Hercules gets involved he will fail. Hades sends his lackeys Pain and Panic (Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Frewer) to kidnap Hercules, make him mortal and kill him. However Pain and Panic goof up and Hercules is raised by farmers Amphitryon and Alcmene (Hal Holbrook and Barbara Barrie). While Hercules is a mortal he still has his God like strength, which has sadly made him an outcast in his town. Upon discovering the truth Zeus tells Hercules the only way to get back to Olympus is for him to become a true hero on Earth. With the aid of Pegasus and his trainer the satyr Philoctetes “Phil” (Danny DeVito) Hercules becomes a hero, and well Hades is not too happy about it. Hercules also meets and falls in love with a woman named Megara “Meg”(Susan Egan) who is a lot more than she appears to be. About as far as I can go without spoiling the rest of the film.

What makes this film very unique to me are the characters. They are relatable to many who watch the film: Hercules is a guy who wants to fit in but obviously can’t, Meg is a woman who made mistakes because of love and has to pay for them, Phil is a guy who wants his dream to come true but after many disappointments has let go until Hercules came, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I like Hercules because of how much he grows in the film. Meg is one of my favorite Disney non-princesses for a number of reasons: she is sassy, funny, women can relate to her and she has one of the best songs in the history of Disney females. Hades is one of my favorite villains not just because of how evil he is but he is very funny. Woods did a lot of improvising which made the film funnier. Phil also is hilarious with Danny DeVito as the voice. The other characters are fantastic, but I want to give a fact about the Muses. Originally the roles were written for the Spice Girls in mind, however due to scheduling conflicts they were unavailable, I am confident on who I would think take the roles though. I also loved the story of the film, but given it’s Disney I shouldn’t be too surprised.

I have to stop and talk about the soundtrack. There are many fantastic songs in here, but two stand out. “Go The Distance” is sung by the teen Hercules as he talks about finding the place where he feels he belongs and going the distance to find it. A single version of this song was released sung by Michael Bolton, and it is wonderful. “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” is sung by Meg as she reveals she doesn’t want to be in love with Hercules but can’t help it, along with the Muses who help her admit it. I think many women who have been in love and don’t want to be again can relate to what she is going through Many critics have said this is the best song in the film, which would be an easy argument, and has been listed multiple times as one of the best female and Disney songs in the entire Disney film franchise.

If you have not watched Disney’s Hercules then I would put this high on the animated film recommendation list. It is such a joy, it is relatable, funny and is is so much fun. I promise you will not be disappointed.