Month: August 2011

Blade

Year: 1998
Directed By: Stephen Norrington
Written By: David S. Goyer

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie was made early during a popular trend in good action movies of the time.  Martial Arts, techno music, and stylish black clothing.  It’s a formula that I enjoy greatly and still do, it worked for The Matrix very well but even before then it was done here, with Blade. This movie was also made before vampires became so mainstream, before Twilight and True Blood. I think we are all a little sick of vampires these days and for good reason but they have long since had a place in our culture.  Movies like Interview With A Vampire, The Lost Boys, and this film’ just to name a few really good ones. There will never be any shortage of vampire films coming out of Hollywood.

Blade was also ahead of the game when it came to comic book films.  Blade is a character in the Marvel universe and this came out years before both Spiderman and X-Men. This movie was made in 1998, shortly after Batman & Robin had tanked the Batman franchise, it wasn’t really a good time for the genre.  This movie proved how cool comic book films could be, and while it wasn’t a financial success at first it slowly became a cult hit as time went on.

David S. Goyer wrote the script for this film so of course it is awesome, one of his many good films as far as I am concerned.  Wesley Snipes was also very enthusiastic about the part and you can see that by his portrayal of the lead character. Wesley Snipes is an utter badass in this movie, slicing and dicing with his ninja sword and drop kicking the shit out of vampires and cops alike.  Stephen Dorff is a vile and sinister foe bent on conquering the human race.  It’s one of his better performances, there was talk briefly of a Deacon Frost spin-off but it never materialized. Kris Kristofferson plays a gruff and tough side kick of sorts to Blade. The only problem I have with this movie is how forced the semi-love story is.  N’Bushe Wright is not bad at all in the movie but her relationship with Blade seems out-of-place and she has no chemistry with Snipes.

This movie is dark and cool, full of fighting, hot women, and violence. This is a rare R rated comic book film and that sets it apart from the others.  It’s more dangerous and more fun.  While I didn’t really dislike either of the sequels to this film I definitely didn’t like them.  Something wasn’t right about them, this film was better made, or maybe the other two were just too different from the one I loved.  This is a great movie and definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Blade. I have seen this movie so many times because Ryan loves it so much. I can never remember that much about it except that Wesley Snipes is in it, he is half vampire and half human, and it was playing one night in high school when I visited Ryan for the first time. I don’t really like this movie, but it is more personal than anything. I know that people love it and it has become a cult classic for people. They don’t make three of them for no reason if nobody likes them. While I appreciate its value, this movie just wasn’t and isn’t my “cup of tea.”

NEXT MOVIE: Blade Runner (1982)

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Black Sheep

Year: 1996
Directed By: Penelope Spheeris
Written By: Fred Wolf

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie gets criticism because people say it’s just like Tommy Boy, and the truth of it is that it is just like Tommy Boy.  Is that really a bad thing though? I personally think that Farley and Spade could have made Tommy Boy over and over again in several different scenarios and still continued to make me laugh. Farley and Spade were great together and they were hilarious in both Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. It would have been interesting to see what the future held for the pair had Farley not died.  Farley died in 97, only a year after this film was released.  His life was probably already spinning out of control when he was shooting this film.  I don’t know if Farley’s death was the result of his obsession or his depression but it was unfortunate all the same.

Chris Farley had a fantastic quality about him, he was so effortlessly funny.  America needs the funny big man, and for a few years in the 90s Chris Farley was America’s funny big man.  Part of a long line of funny big men like John Belushi, John Candy, Kevin James, Jonah Hill, and others I’m not remembering. Chris Farley was my favorite of all of them, and he died much much too young.  As I read it when it happened it seemed he wanted to die at 33 to follow in the foot steps of his idol John Belushi.  He was living on the edge and completely out of control, it hardly seemed like an accidental overdose to me.  He was using very aggressively when he died. Too many talented entertainers are lost young to drugs.  I think David Spade’s whole career has been downhill from here, he buried his career when he buried his best friend. He has managed to stick around for all this time and I will give him that, but I wouldn’t call his career successful.  Nevertheless Spade had fantastic whit to bounce off of Farley and it was very funny.  Those two guys together were like peanut butter and jelly, they are just natural compliments of one another.

Some would say this is the lesser of their two movies but I think Farley and Spade offered a lot to laugh at in this movie.  I enjoy it, maybe it is the same movie they made before, but I liked it the first time around and I liked it the second time as well.  Gary Busey has a role in the film playing a guy that’s a little crazy, imagine that right? Christine Ebersol is also very good as the bitchy Incumbent Governor. I enjoy this movie and I think you will find it funny as well.  It is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is ridiculous. I can watch it over and over and over and still think it is funny. There is something extremely special about Chris Farley. My dad loved watching him on Saturday Night Live when I was growing up. The running joke still to this day between him and his three brothers is the motivational speaker skits. “That’s why I liiiiiivvee in vaaaan…down by the river.”

One could easily confuse this movie with Tommy Boy, but it hardly matters. I take them both as slapstick comedy that you don’t have to think to hard about. I laugh every time. I have met a few people along the way that really hated Chris Farley and I just can’t believe it. All of his movies are worth watching, just for the fun. He just seemed to me like he would be really fun to hang out with.

NEXT MOVIE: Blade (1998)

The Birdcage

Year: 1996
Directed By: Mike Nichols
Written By: Jean Poiret and Elaine May

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was 12 years old I went to work with my dad one night at the theater.  This was something I did often, while he worked I would go from theater to theater and watch movies.  Well one night when I was 12 I wondered into The Birdcage not knowing anything about the film or what it was about.  I might have made it four minutes into it before getting up and leaving.  As soon as I realized those women dancing on stage were men dressed as women I had seen enough.  I went on to tell the story of me getting up and walking out of that theater for another eight years until I was in college. I had a roommate who owned the movie and suggested I watch it, I had no idea what I was in for.  Today I consider this one of the funniest movies I have ever seen, and I love it.

This movie isn’t for everyone.  There are a lot of small-minded people out there with very strong feelings about homosexuals.  Nevertheless I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not laugh. While the characters are most definitely gay they are not doing anything offensive by any means. These are funny people put together in an outrageous scenario and what they made was a very funny film. Gene Hackman is great as Senator Keeley and Dianne Wiest is great as the joyful Republican wife. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are hilarious as two gay men trying to act straight.  Hank Azaria should not go unmentioned here either, he is a very talented entertainer who has shown a lot of versatility in his career.  I wouldn’t call myself a Mike Nichols fan but I have liked many of his films, like The Graduate and What Planet Are You From? Of all his films, I think this was his best, but it does have steep competition and there is a lot of room for argument there.

I fully support gay rights and equal treatment but I did not always feel that way.  In a weird kind of way this movie helped me to be a more open-minded person and more accepting of other types of lifestyles. I was in college when I saw it for the first time and it was during that time that I learned to think for myself.  In a psychology class I learned that homosexuality is not just a lifestyle people chose but that genetics played a part.  I believe it is wrong to judge or hate someone for being who they were born to be. The way I see it whatever or whoever anybody out there chooses to be is none of my business or concern anyway.  I do not see the point in getting angry or malicious about something that you cannot control and will never change anyway. The bigots and homophobes out there are wasting their time and energy on hate. Homosexuality is not a fad, it’s been part of society from the beginning of time and always will be.

I don’t know that this movie would teach everybody to be open-minded but it will definitely have even the most uncomfortable guy laughing.  I consider this movie one of the funniest I have ever seen and it is one of my all time favorites.  I hope you will give it a chance if you have never seen it, it is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

In college, when Ryan told me that he had never seen this movie, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that he had never seen it, when I had seen it a couple hundred times, I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it or like it. I fell asleep during the movie at some point, and while I was peacfully dreaming away I was all of a sudden awoken with laughter and the words that I will never forget…””Baby! (that’s what we call each other) Baby! Wake Up! LOOK WHAT HE IS DOING!” Those words will live on forever in our relationship. He was so shocked by the outcome of the dinner that he was urged to wake me up.

I thoroughly love this film. i really like Robin Williams in this role. I think he does an incredible job and Nathan Lane is priceless as his lover. I think this is a great movie. I don’t know if it is qualified as a movie for everyone, but if you are open-minded (which I feel everyone should be) then you would most likely like this movie and probably benefit from having watched it.

NEXT MOVIE: Black Sheep (1996)

Billy Madison

Year: 1995
Directed By: Tamra Davis
Written By: Tim Herlihy, Adam Sandler

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie reminds me of the 90s, of being young and watching it with my brothers and sisters. This was probably one of our favorite movies collectively when were in the pre-teen to early teen years.   When I was younger I thought Adam Sandler was one of the funniest people out there. Things are different today, I don’t even bother seeing his films anymore, in fact I specifically don’t watch them.  In a way it’s because of this movie that I don’t like Adam Sandler.  I think that this film, as well as Happy Gilmore, are great movies and very funny. They are too funny, they led me to believe Adam Sandler had it in him to be funny all the time and that wasn’t the case.  I personally think that his career was all down hill after them, despite how much money he has made.  With few exceptions I think his movies have been obnoxious and stupid.  The Waterboy isn’t bad, The Wedding Singer isn’t the funniest movie but it is a lot of fun all the same, and I think Sandler showed exceptional acting ability in Punch, Drunk, Love. Otherwise I think his career is full of duds, but I know I am in the minority.

Billy Madison is a great movie, Adam Sandler is young and very funny.  He has a few SNL buddies making cameos with Norm MacDonald as a wasted friend and the late great Chris Farley as a crazy bus driver.  Steve Buscemi has worked with Adam Sandler quite often and he has a great part in this movie. We didn’t get enough of Chris Farley before his untimely death in 1997, we must cherish what we do have.  This is a funny movie and at only 90 minutes it is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I can recite this whole movie line by line, as most people my age can. I don’t know what it is about this movie, but we all love it and we all think it is hilarious. This movie was in the beginning of the Adam Sandler era, when he was still true to his slapstick version of humor. He has grown a lot since these films around this time era, even venturing out into more serious roles such as Punch Drunk Love.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I don’t know where you have been in the world since the nineties. Everyone I know has seen this movie and loved it. It isn’t an academy award winner, but it should be in every movie lover’s collection.

My Favorite Quotes:

“It’s too damn hot for a penguin to be just walkin’ around. I gotta send you back to the South Pole.”

“Have some more sloppy joes. I made ’em extra sloppy for yous. I know how yous kids like ’em sloppy.”

“Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school. Well, here goes nothing.”

“Shampoo is better. I go on first and clean the hair. Conditioner is better. I leave the hair silky and smooth. Oh, really, fool? Really”…………….”Stop Looking at me swan!”

And last but not least, the clown singing. I love this part.

NEXT MOVIE: The Birdcage (1996)

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Year: 1989
Directed By: Stephen Herek
Written By: Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a silly movie but it’s also clever and original which make it memorable. I studied history in college and continue to study it today so naturally I appreciate a film about two idiots traveling through time in an effort to pass an oral history exam. It seems that society occasionally needs a movie about two idiots doing something crazy.  It never occurred to me until just now but Dude Where’s My Car is very similar to this film.  Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott even somewhat favor Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters.  Tall dark headed goofy looking guy and a shorter blonde.  One set of idiots time travelling, the other doing something that had to do with aliens if I remember correctly.  I could be mistaken, it has been years since I have seen Dude Where’s My Car?, it is not part of our collection.

Like Beetlejuice there was a Saturday morning cartoon that went along with this movie and I remember watching it as a young kid.  This movie, like Beetlejuice, is more endeared to me because of the nostalgic feeling I get when I watch it, because it reminds me of the cartoon and being 5-6 years old. This movie is dumb, but it’s fun all the same and something I would feel comfortable watching with my kids one day.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I really don’t have that to say about this film, it is silly and stupid, but it is one of those films I just like to watch for fun. I never even thought about how much it is like Dude Where’s My Car, until Ryan mentioned it, but it really is so much like that film. They will forever and always make movies that are silly and dimwitted, and we will always watch them for the fun in it. You don’t have to think about them and they don’t linger for days.

NEXT MOVIE: Billy Madison (1995)

The Big Lebowski

Year: 1998
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is my second favorite movie of all time.  I think it is a perfect movie. The performances are great, the screenplay is great, and it is made by a pair of the greatest filmmakers in the industry today. This may be my personal second favorite movie of all time but it is well-loved all around. There is actually an annual Lebowskifest for fans of the film which has gotten so big that the cast reunited for it this year and made an appearance. It is a great movie made by great movie makers, the Coen brothers, and it is their vision and creativity that make this film so great.

I was a history student in college when I fell in love with this film.  It’s because I watched it during that era of life that this film is so endeared to me.  It’s a smart movie and history plays a large part in the story really.  This movie is set at a specific time, during the First Gulf War.  The Gulf War was the first “major” military conflict the United States had entered since the fighting ended in Vietnam nearly 20 years prior. Here we have a story centered around a relic from the Vietnam era. The Dude is an old school hippy still doing his thing, getting high and bowling, enjoying a White Russian now and again.  He doesn’t have anything and doesn’t really care, he is just living life.  His best friend Walter Sobchek is a former soldier obviously still living in the past. After all “he didn’t watch his buddies die face down in the muck so that he could go on and live in the present.” His other friend Donnie the pacifist, he is out of his element. These are the men that represent different sects of American society during a very dramatic time in our history.  That isn’t what this movie is about though, this is just who the characters are.  These guys manage to get caught up in an unusual chain of events, something that happens in many Coen Brothers films.

The cast is fantastic in this movie, another Coen Brothers trademark.  Jeff Bridges is iconic as The Dude.  He is a good actor but at the end of his career I think this character will be the one that stands out the most.  That also goes for John Goodman, who is always great and is a Coen Brothers regular.  He is crazy and completely over the top as Walter Sobcheck and it is awesome.  There are many Coen Brother regulars in this film actually. Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, and Jon Polito are some of the other Coen Brother regulars in this film.  Buscemi doesn’t stand out in this film because he is always in the background but he is the kind of actor that makes everything he is in a little bit better.  There are many directors that like to work with him on a regular basis and there is good reason for that.  Phillip Seymor Hoffman is overwhelmingly enthusiastic and very funny as the Big Lebowski’s assistant Bran. John Turturro is classic as the Jesus.  Sam Elliot provides another interesting character to the mix.  Tara Reid is young and sexy. Julianne Moore plays a very weird Maude Lebowski but she plays the part well.  Everybody is at there best in this film, the Coen Brothers have a great ability to get the best out of their actors.

When you watch this movie for the first time you really can’t be sure what will happen next and where it is all going.  When you watch it again you catch things you didn’t see the first time, and the more you watch it from then on the better it gets.  That is really what makes a movie special, when you can watch something over and over again and still find new things to love about it.  I have probably watched this movie over 100 times and I still think it is awesome when I watch it now.  This movie is more than worth your time, in fact it’s worth your money, attention, and respect.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a hard movie for me to write about. I love it so much, but I doubt that I can find the words to tell you how truly awesome this film is. Everyone I know who has seen this movie loves it, or at least likes it. I have never met anyone that has seen it and tells me that they hated it. This movie is just so perfectly made. I love the Coen Brothers so much and think that they make the most amazing films. They are filled with interesting story lines that haven’t been done before, they have humor and drama were needed and they usually end pretty perfectly.

The people in this film are what really make it. The movie wouldn’t have been the same without Jeff Bridges as the Dude. He will always be The Dude, or the Duderino, or Duder, what have you. Walter is played so well by the infamous and Coen Brothers loved John Goodman. I think he is definitely my favorite character in the movie. He plays his role with such ease, as if he really was that person, not even acting at all, it was so effortless. The others, Phillip Seymor-Hoffman, Juianne Moore, Tara Reid, John Turturro and of course Steve Buscemi all played their roles to the “t” and it makes for such an interesting movie.

The plot centers around the most relaxed person in the world, “The Dude” getting confused with another person, named “Lebowski” simply because they have the same last name. The story follows along what happens to him after his rug gets pissed on by the people assuming he is this “Lebowski” character.

Memorable Quotes:

“See what happens Larry? This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!” -Walter

Maude: “What do you do for recreation?”
The Dude: “Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.”

“Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!” -Walter

“What’s this day of rest shit? What’s this bullshit? I don’t fuckin’ care! It don’t matter to Jesus. But you’re not foolin’ me, man. You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don’t fool Jesus. This bush league psyche-out stuff. Laughable, man – ha ha! I would have fucked you in the ass Saturday. I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!” -The Jesus

NEXT MOVIE: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Big Fish

Year: 2003
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Daniel Wallace

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is an interesting movie, to me specifically because I am always trying to convince myself that I like it, I don’t do that very often.  I don’t know if it’s Tim Burton, the cameos by Steve Buscemi or Danny Devito, or the stories but for some reason I have always wanted to like it, but the truth is I just don’t.  I don’t care for Billy Crudup or the insolent son that he portrays, and I have never cared for Albert Finney. Had two different actors been cast in those roles then maybe I would feel differently about the movie.

I do like the Steve Buscemi role, I have always been a really big fan.  The guy they called “kinda funny lookin yah” in Fargo  has made quite a career for himself. Matthew McGrory plays Karl the Giant, you may remember McGrory from another film though.  He was the kid on the porch with a banjo in Deliverance, yeah the one who played dueling banjos with Ronny Cox.  Danny DeVito makes a small but notable appearance in the film.  Ewan McGregor was not bad but I am not a fan. Also worth mentioning is Helena Bonham Carter, she is so fantastic in everything she does.

I won’t tell you this movie isn’t worth your time because I know many people who liked it including Amber.  I think this movie has its moments but overall I think it is a film that should have been much better.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Unlike Ryan, I really like this movie. I feel like we all know this guy that has a story for every occasion. I feel like the man in this movie has bigger than life stories and he can always find a way to turn the tables and start telling a story about himself. I think the stories are all really interesting and also, they usually have some moral. I feel like you can tell what the base of the story is and then the bigger details that he adds in to cushion it.

One of my favorite parts in the whole film was Steve Buscemi’s role. I found it hilarious to see him so happy and upbeat. I really like this movie and it has a lot of interesting twists and turns. It is a beautifully made in true Tim Burton fashion. It is not a film for everyone, but I recommend it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Big Lebowski (1998)