Risky Business

Year: 1983
Directed By: Paul Brickman
Written By: Paul Brickman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an 80s movie for the fan that wants something racier than John Hughes was capable of. Hughes of course made many incredible classics from the 80s era but they were all about as PG as you get when it comes to sexuality. This movie offers everything that he simply teased you with. Sexuality with nudity included, more prevalent profanity, and an R rating that is as fulfilling as only something suited for 18 years old and up can be.

I grew up with this movie, although watching it as an adult makes me question my father’s decision on what I was allowed to watch as an early teenager. He calls this a classic and I agree but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the whole thing this movie is about prostitution. I’m a parent myself now and watching this movie kinda makes my skin crawl when I consider it in any context of reality. Joel’s mother comes home and is disappointed there is a crack in her precious egg. She should be much more concerned with what she doesn’t know. Which is the God only knows how many prostitutes made use of her bed, and you know the teenage would be pimp Joel didn’t bother to change the sheets!

I find the transition of Joel’s character in this movie to be the most interesting thing about the movie from start to finish. He goes from outrageously horny virgin to having the confidence of a boy who has been made a man by a woman. What guy doesn’t remember that difficult time in adolescence when we were so horny we couldn’t concentrate on anything else? So eager yet so woefully unaware of what to do and overcome by fear when and if an opportunity presents itself. I think this film does an excellent job of capturing that haunting stage of pubescence and it gives me a nostalgic memory from my own teenage years. I don’t know that turning to prostitution is an answer for any guy in that uncomfortable stage but ……different folks different strokes? (pun intended). I’d imagine Joel needed to see a doctor after having “the time of his life” because he could probably use a shot of penicillin, and if that’s all he would have been lucky.

Personally, I consider prostitution to be really disgusting. As a happily married man I have very little interest in outside activity in the female department. Even if my wife wasn’t awesome and gorgeous enough to keep me interested I can’t even fathom the idea of making life that much more complicated. Life is complicated enough right? Adding in an extra marital affair just seems too stressful to me and the last thing I want would be more stress.  However, even if there were such unusual circumstances in which I found myself in a position to do so I can’t imagine prostitution is the way to go. No matter how good the apple looks it just seems too iffy to taste what’s already had several bites taken out of it. You don’t know who took bites before you and tasting that fruit is like inviting disease into your life and household. For the overly horny teenager whose just desperate to get some my position is the same. Suck it up and deal with it like all of us do until some girl is finally willing to let you go “all the way.” Paying for sex with a woman who literally has sex for a living is just gross and dangerous.

Plus, screw around when you don’t know what you’re doing and suddenly Guido the Killer Pimp is after you and you don’t want to mess with Guido. “It’s a hard ass life for a pimp,” and they won’t hesitate to make your life hard too if they can get an upper hand on you. I think that Joe Pantoliano is awesome in the part of Guido and it’s a fun opportunity to see him at such a young age. I have always been a fan of Pantoliano because of several roles. In this film he plays a part that really was the biggest of his career for a long time. He’s been in the game for more than thirty years believe it or not and has managed to portray many memorable characters beyond Guido the Killer Pimp.

Maybe it’s just because I watched this movie at that tender age of desperation but the sexuality of Rebecca De Mornay has been fused onto me for a lifetime. I had nearly forgotten till sitting down to watch this movie for the review but it all came flooding back the minute those patio doors blew open as she undressed. Long before I sowed my wild oats I was planting them with the goddesses I saw on screen and Rebecca De Mornay in this was near the top of the list. It’s a great thing that by the time I was a late teenager DVDs had taken over. Were my dad to have any reason today to pop in his old Risky Business VHS he would undoubtedly find it perplexing that the movie started right at that scene.

It’s always interesting to look at a film from this long ago featuring Tom Cruise. Back in 1983 he still looked young, but somewhere along the way in the 90s he simply stopped aging. Cruise was 21 when he made this movie and the funny thing about his look is that it isn’t even natural. That baby faced teenage look he has going on was accomplished in an interesting way. Before shooting Cruise went through a rigorous work out routine to get real lean and then spent a few weeks eating fatty foods to gain an extra layer to give him the teenage look. I think Cruise did a great job in this movie and it stacked his resume going forward as he would build what has become a highly impressive career.

I find it very interesting how iconic this movie has been for the last 30 years. Even today references continue to the lip syncing routine in oddly feminine garb scene. Not even a month ago I saw the movie and scene referenced in the popular TV series The Goldbergs (great show). In the PC world we live in today I get a great laugh out of this movie’s continued popularity. It’s lived on when so many have been forgotten and in this PC world we live in today I find that funny cause it’s about a kid who falls into running a prostitution ring. Irony equals a joke in the natural order of things.

I have never particularly loved this movie but I have always enjoyed it, in one way or another. I was surprised when we sat down to watch it again how sucked in I got. Even Amber, who was working, found herself distracted and pulled into the movie. I think it takes a good movie to do that to you, to catch you off guard when you least suspect it. To take you on a journey through an adventure in some fictitious life. Joel reminded me of when it was like to be that age, and he did something that qualified as what all of us at that age spent far too much time thinking about. I think this is a cool 80s movie and it’s worth your time to seek out and see.

NEXT MOVIE: Road to Perdition (2002)

 

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Year: 2014
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Written By: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver

RYAN’S REVIEW

My standing opinion of sequels is always that they should be more of the same only bigger and better. Sequels have the ability to ruin our favorite characters and stories but when they are done right they become part of something larger. This sequel continued to build toward a solid trilogy that I look forward to seeing completed. I love the 2026 post apocalyptic setting where the virus that started in the first film has wiped out most of civilization. It evens the odds with the ever evolving society of advanced apes led by Caesar. The idea behind what draws the humans and apes into conflict is the most natural one of all; the need to survive. Humans are after certain resources and it just so happens that what they need is in ape territory and apes aren’t too thrilled by their presence. Add in the ignorance to two separate societies that don’t understand one another and the stage is set for a brutal conflict. In an era of too many post apocalyptic films featuring zombies I find this one a nice change of pace.

There are times during this film that I don’t feel like the effects are as good but I think that probably has plenty to do with the effort to make it a 3D film. Studios love that effort to cash in larger profits on their films by charging the extra money. It’s really only the deer and the bear in the beginning that don’t look very good to me. Sometimes it’s as simple as a director change that makes things look just different enough to be frustrating but I don’t think that is the case in this film. Direction definitely could have been better but this movie was good enough at advancing the story to overlook any flaws that could have made the film better.

I love how the story of the apes in this movie unfolds and builds on what was established in the first film. I’m a big fan of Stanley Kubrick so I love the regular references in sound to 2001: A Space OdysseyThe score features audio from the beginning of 2001 in which the ape-men first discover the monolith and figure out how to use weapons for the first time. It’s a fitting reference to a film that has proved over time to be so incredibly influential, although such a difficult film to watch. I love 2001 because it was an awesome film and it’s so iconic, but it does require a certain level of patience to sit through. I had a professor in college claim that it was billed as “the ultimate pothead movie” and it’s easy to see why. You’d almost have to be high to sit through the entire thing as it is mostly a visual movie and the effects it features are long outdated.

I thought the cast of this movie was better than that of the first one. I like that only the actors in the motion capture suits reprised their roles, most notably Andy Serkis who continues to be amazing. I thought the casting of Judy Greer as Cornelia (Caesar’s wife) was a bit odd but apparently she is married to a huge Planet of the Apes fan and might have actively went after the role that no one will know her from. It makes too much sense for none of the humans to have survived to the second film after the “Simian Flu” wipes out most of the population. There are a couple of subtle references to James Franco’s character that easily imply he died of the disease before this film took place. Most notably the fact that when Caesar goes home the house is abandoned and Franco’s vehicle is still in the driveway overgrown by weeds. Had he survived he undoubtedly would have taken his vehicle with him. I think that his absence in this film means even more that the original ending in which Franco died would have been a better way to end the first film.

Jason Clarke plays the most important human in this installment. His star has been on the rise over the last few years and he continues to turn in solid performances. Gary Oldman seems out of place to me in this movie but the man is a pro and he can do anything he puts forth the effort towards. The earliest casting news for the third film shows again that none of the human actors will be returning and I’m not sure why. Jason Clarke and Keri Russell seem like obvious options to be in the follow up but they are not listed on the roster for War for the Planet of the Apes. Woody Harrelson has been cast to play the human military leader and that is a very promising development.

This movie offers some cool looks at social development among the ape community. As a group they have clearly continued to adapt and evolve into a higher society. It also has some really cool action and an interesting build up to the next installment. I love how the movie closes with Caesar telling his new human friend that the war had already begun. Caesar opposed a war but is a smart enough leader to know that at this point there is no backing out. He won in the end but didn’t really win at all. Heavy is the head and it will be really interesting to see what he is like in the next film.

If you haven’t seen this film or this franchise then you are missing out. If you haven’t seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes you should definitely see that one first. This movie is a good follow-up that builds to the next film in the franchise. Currently War for the Planet of the Apes is set to be released in the summer of 2017. Hopefully it will hold that date and the movie will bring a close to this exciting franchise. In the meantime if you haven’t seen this one you should check it out, it is definitely worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Risky Business (1981)

 

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Year: 2011
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt
Written By: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

RYAN’S REVIEW

I specifically remember getting mad about this movie before ever seeing it. I remember following the production, as I do with so many films, and I remembered when it changed from simply being an original film and into a Planet of the Apes film. That disappointed me as the trend was beginning to emerge wherein nothing seemed willing to try unless it could tie itself to an older successful franchise. We are fully into the era of remakes and reboots now and I hate it. I considered the switch in direction of this film and the assimilation it sought into a successful franchise as a cop out. It does not sit next to the original film in my collection simply because it does not belong there. Planet of the Apes was an awesome franchise that needed to be left alone and shouldn’t be touched again after the terrible effort by Tim Burton almost 15 years ago. I see this movie and franchise as an altogether different thing and see its intentional effort to include itself as simply a marketing ploy to make more money.

After seeing the film for the first time I found that I enjoyed it so much I was only more frustrated by the efforts to make it a psuedo reboot. Simply because it didn’t need to do that. It’s a good movie and good enough to stand on its own. There are certain similarities it bears to the original story but that does not make it the same. I have and will always say it is ridiculous to remake or reboot Cold War themed films. The conflict is gone and over and the movies that were about it don’t have any context to be remade today. Whether it’s a movie about high school youths who suddenly have to defend themselves from invasion (Red Dawnor a film about the consequences of self imposed destruction by fighting one another with doomsday weapons. The reality of that situation does not exist today and remakes about the situations do not translate. This movie however is neither a remake or a reboot despite what the title suggests.

This movie has its own social problem the story revolves around. An important one at that being the search for a cure or treatment for Alzheimers. Such a wicked disease is the one that robs us of the very thing that makes us who we are. It is even worse for those who love the afflicted. The husbands and wives who have to watch their spouses deteriorate and disappear after decades of union. It’s an illness that has been around forever but even today there is not enough effort being made to combat or cure the disease. If nothing else this movie is great for bringing more awareness to a problem that needs more money and more research.

This movie has a really good story and excellent special effects. Andy Serkis is an incredibly talented one of a kind actor. I love this franchise because it gives him the opportunity to display his exceptional skills performing in a motion capture suit. The next generation of actors that utilizes technology more and more will turn to the efforts of Andy Serkis when they study their art. Serkis in this movie works his magic in the suit as Caesar. These movements came easy to him this time around because he performed as an ape before in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. The rest of the cast is good enough. The only other one I’d deign to mention would be John Lithgow. Watching a second of his films in a row is a rare opportunity and it’s interesting because the roles are so different. Of course he is great in both of them because he is such an exceptional actor.

There are scenes in this movie that echo the original Planet of the Apes franchise but I remember reading somewhere along the way that they did that in re-shoots after production had wrapped. I could be wrong about that but it is the impression I have been under for 5 years and I stubbornly hold onto the idea. I think this movie is great, so long as it is separate and its own thing away from the original franchise. I think this story of one genetically mutated ape building and leading an uprising is really cool. I read somewhere that in the original ending James Franco was supposed to die but they changed it at the last minute. I actually think that might have made for a better ending to the movie but the movie is just fine the way it is.

This movie is a really cool start to an ongoing franchise that has plenty of potential to end well with a third film. The film builds a powerful story while setting up the sequel along the way. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out on a fun franchise. This movie is easily worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

 

Ricochet

Year: 1991
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy
Written By: Fred Dekker and Menno Meyjes (story), Steven E. de Souza (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I came across this movie on late night TV about 9 years ago and found myself entranced. What a fantastic and demented story about revenge.  It has a cool 90s feel to it too. I specifically remember going out of my way on the following day to find a copy of it and buy it.

I distinctly remember how much I disliked Denzel Washington when I came across this movie. I have never had a very fond opinion of him but specifically remember having a big problem with him winning the Academy Award in 2003 for Training Day. I have still never revisited that movie so my old opinion still stands. Yet, having a bad opinion of him I was so surprised by his performance in this movie. I have always thought he had a chip on his shoulder about something, he just comes across as such an angry actor to me. In this movie he isn’t like that though, he’s so loose and seems to genuinely be enjoying himself.

I grew up watching John Lithgow play the foolish yet humorous part of Dick on 3rd Rock from the Sun. I thought it was awesome when I saw him as a bad guy for the first time in Cliffhanger, but this is different. In this movie he’s not simply a bad guy, he’s a straight up psychopath with one man in his cross hairs. Motivated by the prospect of revenge Lithgow’s villainous Earl Talbot Blake perseveres for seven years in prison planning all the while what he will do to exact that revenge. I thought his plan for revenge was what made this movie interesting. I love a good bad guy and Lithgow’s Blake fits the bill. He is cunning and ruthless with no inhibitions what so ever. Driven only by hate he is the exact type of person you don’t want to get on the wrong side of.

This is a cool movie and I like it, but it literally provokes nothing more from me than what has already been written. I think if you have the opportunity to see this one you are in for a surprising treat. I don’t know how likely that is because this seems to be a generally forgotten movie. It’s a cool story with interesting plot twists and good performances. That makes it worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Return of the Dragon

Year: 1972
Directed By: Bruce Lee
Written By: Bruce Lee

RYAN’S REVIEW

Bruce Lee was one of the coolest guys to ever live, and this is my favorite of his films because it was all him. The actual title is “The Way of the Dragon,” but I own the American version that was released posthumous after Enter the Dragon became so popular. While Enter the Dragon was really cool this one is more exceptional because it was entirely the product of Lee. His credits included starring in the film, writing the story, directing it, and choreographing all the fight scenes. He died so soon after this film that it stands as nothing more than an indicator of what might have possibly come should he had been able to reach his full as a filmmaker and star.

Bruce Lee lived a very interesting and accomplished life but it ended far too soon. His sudden and peculiar death at the age of 33 left a hole in existence for he was on the way to such great things. Lee was a self motivated man who achieved in everything he set his mind to and there is simply no way to know what we might have missed out on should he have lived a full life. This movie was his first opportunity to fully take the reins in creativity. For the first time he had the freedom to work his art and send the messages he wanted to send. He weaved his messages into his particular form of entertainment so well for his first time, but he was barely scratching the surface of what he may have been capable of. I see this film as simply a sign of potential, but the sad reality was he never had the opportunity to really reach the next level. He died young and thus became a martyr and icon but he could have given us so much more. I find this movie immensely entertaining but on a certain level it also makes me sad. Sorrow for what could have been and will never be.

Bruce Lee was a physical specimen of Godlike qualities.  He seemed to defy all the laws of human capability and was able to do things physically that would have made Henry Houdini stand back and applaud. Lee was a tireless worker when it came to his training and his physique was the result of that, but there was more. Lee was naturally double jointed, as can obviously be seen during the pre-Chuck Norris fight warm up scene. He had the type of speed and power that are usually reserved for jungle cats or cobras, and he would mimic the sounds of animals during fights to intimidate his opponent. Lee didn’t just study one type of fighting but many until he ultimately started developing his own form, Jeet Kune Do.  Lee had an exceptional exterior charisma to go along with his supernaturally athletic capabilities. His few performances show a wide range of what he was able to express as an actor and he was still developing his skills. He could be funny and lighthearted, caring and compassionate, vulnerable and alone, and most importantly fierce and intimidating.

Yet there was so much more to the man than his screen persona. There was what he was all about underneath, and with the opportunity he had in this film he used it as a platform to speak his mind. Above all else Bruce Lee considered himself a teacher and this movie highlights those qualities. Lee was a natural leader because he was an incredibly deep person full of ideas and purpose. He stood for something that was much more than simply being a martial arts movie star. This movie, and truthfully all of his movies have strong themes about racism against Chinese people. Lee is generally always the hero standing up for his people but he doesn’t just stand up for them he leads them, and teaches them. That leadership could have gone a long way for not only his own people but in time ultimately the entire world. Lee put plenty of his thoughts and opinions down in print while he was alive and his books are available for anybody to read today.

To spend too much time talking about what Bruce Lee might have accomplished would be to overlook everything he did accomplish. In his short life Lee was able to do great things and succeed in plenty. I would encourage anybody unfamiliar with him to do your own research and learn as much as you can. He was an incredibly inspiring man who still holds the power to influence us posthumously.  Personally, I find Bruce Lee to be an incredibly influential person that I have learned plenty from. I often turn back to him when in need of motivation and a spark in finding my own personal drive. Lee’s work ethic could encourage a sloth and anybody not motivated to achieve more themselves after watching him is simply a lost cause.

I think Enter the Dragon was an awesome movie and undoubtedly worthy of its iconic status, but this movie gets the edge on it as far as I am concerned. It’s because this one was all his and he was allowed to do whatever he wanted with it. I think what he made suggested that so much more would have followed had he lived. He uses a variety of weapons in this movie but none better than those that he made famous, the nunchucks. He wields two at one time in this movie with such lethal precision that its difficult for the early 70s cameras to even capture them on film. I love the scene in which the Italian mafioso picks one pair up and attempts to use them but only succeeds in knocking himself in the head.

After a weird succession of strange events in my youth I found myself in possession of an authentic pair of nunchuks when I was a teenager. I could not use them and had yet to discover Bruce Lee for myself so I had no use for them and they actually went about lying in the backseat of my car for about a year. I lost them one fateful night when an interesting chapter took place in my life. Long story short. I and some friends had a run in with the police. We got away without trouble but after a lengthy process my nunchuks were confiscated by the police. To this day it still frustrates me and I know that officer went back to the station just to attempt his own stunts in front of his colleagues with what had become my nunchuks!

This movie features great fight scenes in which Lee takes on many, and others where he takes on great fighters solo. One of those solo fights is against his regular sparring partner Bob Wall, who can be seen in almost every one of his movies as a bad guy that Lee has to fight. The biggest gem in this movie is the ultimate fight at the end though. In the final stage of conflict Lee faces off with the imported American bad guy played by none other than Chuck Norris. The two masters of their skills prepare to square off while an adorable, and slightly starved looking, kitten looks on in anticipation. The kitten seemingly sounds the call of battle but if you ask me the poor thing is just yowling for food. When Lee and Norris finally fight Lee has seemingly met his match. Taking hard blows from seemingly the first man to actually hit him in the whole film. After being knocked down and taunted by Norris Lee realizes he needs to change up his game. He changes into a dancing stance and starts bouncing back and forth with great fluidity. Norris does not know how to adjust and Lee begins to have his way with him. It quickly becomes a fight to the death as Norris refuses to relent regardless his ability to go on and Lee is reluctantly forced to kill him.

If I’m not mistaken this movie quickly became the highest grossing film in Hong Kong history back in 1972. Lee would enjoy the success for nearly a year before dying suddenly in his sleep in July of 1973. The official diagnosis was brain aneurysm if I’m not mistaken but it was unusual to say the least. More than anything else it was unfortunate as it robbed the world of a great and inspiring entertainer. Lee was an interesting person and there is much to learn from the life he lived and what he left behind. He was a master of his art, and any opportunity to see a master work at his trade is a chance to see something marvelous. This is an awesome movie and even if you fast forward through the story to just watch the fight scenes seeing it is definitely worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Ricochet (1991)

 

Reservoir Dogs

Year: 1992
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten back on this trail along the journey through our DVD rack. Well, what better movie to come back to than this one? That just happened to be next in line. This is after all the original and hard hitting film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map. By the time I saw it for the first time it was already a cult classic. That was back in 2001 or so when I was just a kid discovering who Tarantino was and backtracking his career.

It was an exciting thing to discover this movie as a teenager. Those were back in the days when I worked at a video store days and had youthful dreams of following in the footsteps of Tarantino. A guy who just loved movies and started making his own. Long before Kill Bill, I had a very different point of view regarding the the young director. I thought his movies were incredible and I really admired how he had made something of himself. He had written some stories, sacrificed some to finance his first film, and with some help from his friends got the ball rolling on an interesting career. A career that has offered us some truly exceptional films, and it all started with this one.

It was a wonderful thing to discover this movie during my formative years. As a young man I had a wild appetite for stories that I fed with both books and film. I had a wild imagination to boot and spent the boring hours of school days imagining stories of my own that I would write down from time to time. When I got my first job at the age of 15 working at a movie video store (that nearly forgotten business entity) I went home every evening with something new to explore. I had been aware of Quentin Tarantino’s work when I was younger. Not just from Jackie Brownwhich I had the opportunity to see in the theater but before that. I remember 1994 and seeing the Pulp Fiction poster of Uma Thurman laying on the bed. I was taken with the poster but warned by my step mother that this movie was nothing but garbage. I specifically remember it being one of the first films I took home because I finally had the opportunity to see it for myself. I was marveled by the film and it put me on a quest of sorts to see all of Tarantino’s films.

This eventually turned out to be the last of his movies that I saw but of course in those days there were only a few to see. He had sold some movies made by others (Natural Born Killers and True Romance, two movies that are very similar) but when I started there was only Reservoir DogsPulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown. He had done other things, directing a short in a movie called Four Rooms as well as doing some acting, most notably in Desperado and From Dusk till Dawn. I became an obsessive fan the more I learned about Tarantino. He, like myself at the time, worked at a video store and his love for films was what motivated him to achieve. He had no formal training just talent that he was able to transition onto screen.

In his debut film Tarantino set the tone for all that was to come. He got our attention with an excellent cast, drew us in with witty dialogue, and then blew us away with sudden and savage violence. The cast he was able to assemble for this low budget movie is quite impressive. If I remember correctly he was able to get the attention of Harvey Keitel who agreed to finance and act in the film. The budget was so low that many of the actors supplied their own clothing, yet so many big names were in the film. In hindsight most of these guys were simply in the beginning of their careers and most of them went on to become very popular. Guys like Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth are great in this movie but they would go on to do such great work throughout their careers that this is just another good one for them.

When it comes to the actors in this movie my favorite is hands down Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde. Mr. Blonde is easily up there with some of the coolest bad guys ever. His swagger, his complete lack of compassion, and his brutal honesty are all part of what makes him so wicked. I have said many times over the years that we did not get enough of Michael Madsen during his heyday. As Mr. Blonde he showed enough potential to be one of the most badass actors available but was never utilized enough. The torture scene is a rough one but I appreciate a bad guy that’s “all in” when it comes to the part. Mr. Blonde doesn’t care if there is a rat, he doesn’t care what anybody will think about his actions; he’s going to do whatever he wants and say prayers for anybody unlucky enough to be in his way. When he tortures Marvin Nash his violence is offset by the charismatic way he goes about his business. Set to the excellent Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle With You,” Mr. Blonde struts around and dances as he goes about the dirty work. After cutting off the officer’s ear he joking says something right into it as he holds it in his hand; sadistic yes but quite funny all the same. One of my favorite bad guy lines comes from his explanation for the much talked about shooting spree during the robbery, “If they hadn’t done what I told them not to do, they’d still be alive.”

My next favorite part from this rich cast is easily Chris Penn. I have never been a fan of his incredibly accomplished brother but I’ve liked Chris in a few things over the years. Chris Penn may have never hit it big like his brother but in this movie he is simply fantastic. As Nice Guy Eddie he is cool yet capable of intimidation. When he finds his friend dead in the warehouse he doesn’t hesitate to make a point about how insignificant the cop actually is by casually killing him. In his monologue afterwards, the strength of his voice and the fire in his eyes serves him well as it’s surprisingly very intimidating. In the final standoff he has so much emotion in his voice as he yells at Mr. White to quit pointing his gun at his father. I find it to be a really powerful performance. Penn was found dead of heart disease nearly ten years ago now but truthfully there was little hope left for his dwindling career in acting. Yet he gave us some good performances in his time and this is one of his best.

I mentioned that this movie is just another good one from Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth. It may be just another good performance from Buscemi but I cannot stress enough how much I admire and enjoy him as an actor. Buscemi has always been “the funny looking guy” but his career has blossomed into so much more than that. By all rights an actor with his looks should never succeed but not only has he succeeded, he has succeeded at plenty of roles that could have easily gone to others. He is so good as his trade that he has managed to overcome all odds to build a career any actor could be proud of, and there is no end in sight for him. Roth hasn’t had the same kind of success as Buscemi but I have always liked him. In this film he isn’t my favorite but he plays the rat and in a movie like this the rat is a character to be despised.

Harvey Keitel deserves special mention in this post because the movie would have never happened without him. Though, I have never particularly been a fan of Keitel and I specifically don’t really like him in this movie. He’s the guy that stands up for Orange all through the movie for all the wrong reasons. In the end when he goes so far as to defend him with his life it’s just too much and the character has always been soured on me because of it.

This is an exceptional movie and I have loved it since the first time I saw it. I saw it at a very influential time during my formative years and I will honestly say it wasn’t something that invoked evil thoughts in me but something that inspired my own interest in creativity and talent. This movie is even more exceptional because Tarantino made it with such a small budget and very little experience in the trade. Over time Tarantino has proved to be a rare and completely genuine talent that rose from nothing to be great, and did it all on his own. He has made some incredible movies with no formal training only the eye of imagination and determination to succeed. Everything that he is has its roots here in this movie; his debut film. Tarantino has a style like no other and it all started with Reservoir Dogs. This is a movie that you must see if you haven’t already. It’s generally regarded as one of the greatest independent films of all time and it left a significant mark on the crime genre. If you haven’t seen it then trust that it is worth your time and check out what you’ve been missing.

NEXT MOVIE: Return of the Dragon/The Way of the Dragon (1972)

 

 

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Christmas 2015

Life has been busy lately. In this holiday season Amber and I have been in the full grip of responsibility and life. There has been fortune, trouble, luck, and misfortune but all fits into the regular hustle and bustle of reality. We have an excellent movie on deck in Reservoir Dogs but I have been waiting for the right time to jump into that one. Nevertheless I was prompted with the most obvious of questions the other day. When “top five Christmas movies?” came through my text device this was my reply:

Life of Brian
Die Hard
A Christmas Story
Christmas Vacation
Home Alone

With special mention to Love Actually and The Ref. I also suggested Scrooged and Bad Santa as in consideration. Christmas is by no means my favorite holiday and with two daughters and a wife it has done nothing but raped my wallet as the years progress. Yeah, I’ve been raped by Christmas, I said it. This holiday has lost all meaning in today’s society and stands as nothing more than an excuse for all of us to go out and waste our hard earned money on many things that will undoubtedly end up lost in the darkness of closet corners everywhere. In saying so I am simply suggesting that this is not a holiday I necessarily associate beloved movies with. However it is the center point of so many movies and such a rating category is necessary. I dropped these titles off the top of my head with little consideration but now I will explain why they made that list.

Life of Brian

In my younger days, in a strange gap between relationship responsibility I used to frequent a local bar. At this particular establishment they has a tradition every Thanksgiving. They stayed open and served Thanksgiving food while playing this film, as well as Christmas Vacation on all the TVs. One year I found myself at my favorite bar on Thanksgiving evening and was quite taken with the tradition. I had seen this movie before but hadn’t considered it a Christmas movie. Nevertheless it made perfect sense qualifying, it starts on the inaugural birthday of Baby Jesus. This one is a classic and easily one of my favorite comedies of all time. Check out our review with the link above for more on the film.

Die Hard

As I mention regularly; I grew up in an action junkie household and family. This is the father of all action films and it take place at Christmas! It counts, and it easily stands above most others by both precedent and quality. This movie both set the bar and created countless others that tried to emulate it with moderate success. The tradition lives on even until today with seemingly every effort made by Liam Neeson. For more on this one follow-up with our link above.

A Christmas Story

Who doesn’t love this film about Ralphie and his experiences on what was once such a magical holiday? For me it reminds me of what Christmas used to be and what I hope it still is for my own children. We don’t own this one, because we don’t need to. It’s a seasonal movie I love but I’m good with it once a year for 24 hours on TV. Having it on in the background on this day is part of the tradition. I sincerely hope that it always airs for the entire day for the rest of my life. I have always been a big fan of that broadcasting. I don’t remember when it started but for as long as I can remember it has been going on.

Christmas Vacation

I’ll be honest, this one was actually swapped out for Bad Santa in the original response. I do not love this movie as I have simply seen it too many times and don’t find it endearing as much as most. For me, it’s the movie too many people LOVE. I like the movie and think it captures Christmas exceptionally well but it’s just not that far up on the list for me. I love Chevy Chase in this, Beverly D’Angelo is special to me for so many reasons, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is great, the kids are Johnny Galecki and Juliette Lewis, and the list goes on and on with special mention of Doris Roberts, she is so great. If I’m being totally honest it’s Uncle Eddie that brings it down for me. I have never been able to stomach Randy Quaid and this movie is the specific reason. His part is funny but the guy just rubs me the wrong way.

Home Alone

This one, the perennial film of my generation is really my favorite. With the adorable eight year old Macaulay Culkin this classic John Hughes film reminds me of home. This one is mine, my movie for the holiday for my generation. As I am prone to say, we never got enough of Joe Pesci and need to treasure everything we can. Even when his is desperately trying to mask his affluence for profanity. This is a great and hilarious movie that I love, for more of our thoughts on it click the link above.

Special mention Love Actually

I really hate to admit it but I do love this film. It’s funny and seasonal in exceptional ways. Even worse to admit, it always makes me cry. It’s one of the movies that reminds me I’m human and it brings out emotions I keep locked away in efforts to be a beacon of masculinity in a house full of females. It’s a wonderful and heart-felt movie I can’t deny despite my best efforts.

Special mention The Ref

This was actually intended to be our holiday based review for this Christmas but time did not allow. This is a really funny movie that we eventually intend to review in full. Maybe it will turn up next Christmas.

In consideration Bad Santa

This movie doesn’t have that warm and fuzzy Christmas feel but it’s all Christmas that’s for sure. I now cherish the movie most because of Bernie Mac. I thought he was a really funny comedian and we lost him too soon. This movie is a bit too crude and vile but it’s hard to deny how funny it is. Billy Bob Thorton uses the fuck word like great painters use a brush. He says it in a way that comes close but doesn’t quite match the capabilities of the greatest, Joe Pesci.

In consideration Scrooged

This is a really fun movie but it doesn’t make the list because it came to me too late. I don’t know how I managed to miss this movie over the years but saw it for the first time a couple of years ago. I love Bill Murray but I didn’t love this movie. I liked it just enough to keep it in mind when I suddenly threw together some titles though and if you are watching a Christmas movie you really can’t go wrong checking this one out.

This post was actually supposed to be up yesterday but the day got away from me. We had a truly wonderful Christmas this year that I think we will all remember fondly. I especially because in the mist of all the action this short list of Christmas reviews popped out of me along the way and I think it came out quite nicely. I have closed the door on the holiday the minute the clock struck 12 last night but for any of you who have lingering Christmas spirit any of these movies would great to check out while you ride that wave into the break. Merry Christmas 2015 and check us out next year when we will hopefully be able to publish a review for The Ref and with hope are far enough along in the collection to cover Scrooged as well.