Month: March 2013

Julie & Julia

Year: 2009
Directed By: Nora Ephron
Written By: Nora Ephron (screenplay) based on books by Julie Powell and Julia Childs

RYAN’S REVIEW

A couple of years ago I begrudgingly bent to Amber’s will and watched this movie with her.  To my surprise I didn’t hate it.  I’m not what you would call a “Nora Ephron fan” so this was a movie that I tried to avoid just on principle.  This isn’t the kind of movie I typically like but it’s not a bad movie.  Given that I write on my own blog and enjoy doing so I think that part of the story is easy to relate to.

Meryl Streep is a great actress and is typically good in everything she does.  I don’t see many of her movies but I have seen enough to marvel at her talent.  I know absolutely nothing about Juila Child and had honestly somehow never heard the name before we watched this movie. Amy Adams is also a great actress who has shown significant versatility throughout her career. Jane Lynch also has a small part in this movie and I think she is awesome. I am a big fan of Jane Lynch, she brings a lot to every character she plays.

I don’t have much more to say about this movie because it really isn’t my speed.  It’s a chick flick all the way but as far as those go I see this one as tolerable.  It’s an interesting enough story and given that it’s based on one that really happened I think that makes it more significant.  Having said that I think I will say this movie is worth your time.  If you are going to sit through something to please your wife you could do a lot worse.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I liked this movie. I thought it was a cute chick flick that didn’t involve some insane love story. It was about a path of a woman, finding her way to write. I thoroughly liked it.

julieandjulia

There are few problems with this poster. First, it’s extremely boring. Obviously it’s about two different story lines, but I think the poster took an incredibly direct approach to that by separating them so starkly. It’s pretty basic what was done here. Also, why is Julia Child at the top and Julie on the bottom, when the movie title reads the opposite. It seems to me that Julie would be on the top and Julia on the bottom.

I do like the typography, but only because I am a sucker for a pretty ampersand. The poster may not be the “bee’s knees” but the movie is worth a try.

NEXT MOVIE: Junior (1994)

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Judgment Night

Year:1993
Directed By:Stephen Hopkins
Written By: Lewis Colick and Jere Cunningham

RYAN’S REVIEW

A couple of years ago Amber and I took a trip to Chicago. We drove there and along the way our borrowed GPS device lead us into a really seedy neighborhood in the slums outside the city. Fortunately for us it was early, because I would not want to see the people who wandered out of those houses after noon. We had just bought our first brand new car as a couple and happened to be driving it when we found ourselves in this place. I remember how bizarre it felt and I remember thinking about this movie. It was after that trip and once we returned that I sought out the movie and added it to the collection.

This movie is one I remember watching in my teens and really enjoying. It’s an interesting and riveting story about people who find themselves in a different part of the world and in a danger they have never know before. Denis Leary gives the performance of a lifetime, possibly playing one of the coolest bad guys ever. He is ruthless, he is intimidating with his wit, and he does not take any shit from anybody. My favorite part of the film is when he offers the projects gangster money and the gangster tries to tell him if he wants his money he will take it. Leary responds “no you can’t take my money,” with a look and tone that cuts like a knife. The gangster does not challenge the statement, and I don’t know that anybody in the world would have. Of course Leary is enhanced as a gangster by having a really badass number two man played by Peter Greene. Greene has not done enough over the years. That guy has a look that was made to be on camera. His face is so villainous-looking and he has a voice that invokes intimidation. He should have been in more movies and those movies would have been better because of his presence. He is old now, and based on his short role in the pilot episode of Justified a few years ago I can attest his best years are behind him. He looks like shit now and that is unfortunate, but the guy had his moments. It’s a shame his best role came in The Mask, but he had a few parts that he did really well in. This one and The Usual Suspects were very good for him, and although it was a stupid movie, he was great in Under Siege 2 as well, but like I said the guy was born to play the bad guy.

As for the good guys/victims in this movie I think they were a great ensemble but some were better than others. Cuba Gooding Jr, Jeremy Piven, and Stephen Dorff were all three great but I felt this was one of the worst roles Emilio Estevez ever played. I find myself so often wondering what happened to Emilio and how he fails to find work while his psychotic brother stumbles into success at every turn. This movie may have given me an answer though. Emilio just isn’t a very good actor and this role is specifically not one he can pull off. Emilio isn’t a convincing tough guy. He doesn’t really play a tough guy in this movie but more so a settled down dad who used to be tough. He doesn’t pull it off well; he should have stuck to playing the lovable Disney hockey coach. I’ve always been a fan of Jeremy Piven but I like him better when he isn’t playing the kind of weasel character we see him play in this movie. He is still good despite that. Cuba has a great crazy look that he has exercised in many of his films and uses it frequently as this movie progresses. Stephen Dorff rounds up this group and plays his part well too.

I think this is a cool movie and would encourage anybody to check it out. If for no other reason you should see this movie to witness Denis Leary in one of his finest roles. I think he has been good in many movies but this one gives him the spotlight and he runs away with it. This movie doesn’t show up on TV very often but if you have the opportunity to see I think it is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I was actually really surprised how much I paid attention to this movie. I got sucked in and found myself anticipating the end. I usually find more than not that movies like this are cheesy. I shouldn’t think like that, I could be missing out on other good movies. This one is worth watching. It is surprisingly good.

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The poster surprised me too. I usually don’t really like too many posters that try to fit too many people on it, as I may have mentioned before. Cough. Having said that, I think it works here. The bad guy is all dimmed out and is hiding behind all of the other objects in the poster. The typography is tight and simple. Overall I think it’s a good poster for this movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Julia & Julia(2009)

The Fighter

Year: 2010
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: Scott Sliver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington

RYAN’S REVIEW

Amber brought this movie home from a trip to Wal-Mart a couple of days ago and I was glad to see she had picked it up.  We watched this movie when it became available a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it.  It clearly belonged in the collection and it was only the matter of time waiting for the price to be reasonable enough for purchase.  Amber found it in the $5.00 bin and I will say that the movie is much too new to be marked down that much but can’t argue with the opportunity.

This movie surprised me in many ways, as boxing movies often do.  I think boxing movies are great and I have written why several times now.  They all follow such a similar story line yet usually manage to bring something new to the table.  This movie is as much about drug addiction as it is about boxing but the two are blended together in a great way that gives the film a clear direction.  I am unfamiliar with most professional boxers and knew of neither Micky Ward or Dicky Ekland before watching the movie.  I don’t know how accurate their portrayal is in the movie but given they were both involved with the making of the film I think it’s a safe bet it got their stamp of approval.

Of course the strength of this film comes from the performances of the cast.  Christian Bale is absolutely incredible in this movie and it is probably his finest role.  Bale won the Academy Award for his role in the movie and it doesn’t take long to see why.  Something about the look he has in his eyes all throughout the film says it all.  I am a big fan of Bale and continue to be impressed with the performances he gives.  I despise Mark Wahlberg but he continues to make good films.  He is well cast in this movie and does a good job but he is the weakest link of the cast.  He plays a character in this movie that is so much like a victim at the mercy of his overbearing family. For more about why I don’t like Wahlberg you should see our review of The Departed.  It has nothing to do with his talent but only the person he was before hitting it big.  I think Amy Adams is a terrific actress and she was robbed of the Academy Award for her role in this movie.  She is a beautiful actress and as an awesome perk you can see her in a great scene in this one where she is wearing see through undies.  Her accent in this movie was great and she had a look of a real hometown local.  Her diversity as an actress continues to be impressive and I look forward to what else she has to offer.  This summer we will be able to see her playing the part of Lois Lane in the new Superman movie.  I have never seen Melissa Leo before but she was incredible in this movie playing the tough and no-nonsense mother.  She rules her family with an iron hand and intimidates the hell out of everyone.  I also want to mention Jack McGee because I think he is awesome.  I was a big fan of his character in Rescue Me, and I have enjoyed many of his roles in film.

David O. Russell directed this movie and although he doesn’t have a large body of work under his belt he has plenty of success to back himself up.  He hit it big this year with Silver Linings Playbook being nominated again for Best Director but not winning.  He was also nominated for this film but lost like many did to The King’s Speech which I didn’t think was that impressive.  The only other movie I know by Russell was Three Kings and I have always like that one as well.  I look forward to seeing Silver Linings Playbook when the opportunity comes and I’m confident it will be great because it was made by such a good director.

This is a movie that follows two themes that are usually always redundant but it manages to set itself apart nevertheless.  Movies about drug abuse and boxing always tend to follow the same patterns but not in this one. We see the damage drugs can do to a person’s life and the lives of those who care about the person while also following the inspiring struggle that boxers go through. The struggles in this movie also extend to the family and how they affect Micky Ward in his effort to make something of himself.  Movies about struggles like this always have something to teach us and give us a chance to learn from the experiences and enhance our own lives. Not everybody sees movies like this but I always have and try my best to learn from the experience.

There is apparently a sequel for this movie in the works that will follow the next stage of Micky Ward’s career and I think there is a lot of potential there.  You don’t often see sequels to movies made based on a true story but I think it’s a good idea in this case.  If we learned anything from the Rocky franchise it’s that the audience is more than willing to see a boxer glove up and do it again, and again, and again. So I hope the sequel to this is made and look forward to seeing what happens.  This movie is good enough for a sequel I think.  This movie is more than worth your time and I would recommend it to anyone.

JFK

Year: 1991
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: Oliver Stone and Zachary Skylar.  Based on books by Jim Garrison and Jim Marrs.

RYAN’S REVIEW

In my early years of being a serious movie fan Oliver Stone was my absolute and unopposed favorite filmmaker. There were others I loved but none I thought had the talent or brilliance of Stone.  He had made the movie that today still stands as my favorite of all time and his body of work was impeccable as far as I was concerned.  Stone did more than make great movies; he made epic stories that were woven together with great acting, intelligent scripts, and incredible editing.  This movie was part of what I thought made him so great.  This movie is perfectly put together and will undoubtedly convince any unaware viewer that Lee Harvey Oswald was not only not an assassin but possibly some very important man involved in the greater and deadlier game of high end politics and conspiracy.  Having done extensive research on the matter I can all but guarantee that is not the case but that does not take anything away from this movie.  This movie is 100% fiction, but that does not change the fact that it is both a significant film and a true work of art.

First and foremost, as far as any conspiracy theory goes, it is important to know two things.  Number one being that Jim Garrison was not the character Kevin Costner portrayed in the film.  He was a bully and borderline madman who was not fighting for justice but simply stirring up trouble.  Secondly, Lee Harvey Oswald was neither a government agent, nor any kind of patriot as the movie will lead you to believe.  He was not a patsy; he was a nobody that changed the world by doing something big.  Oswald was a sad and pathetic man that hated this country as much as he hated his life.  What he did he did on his own, and there is enough evidence to that effect to prove it beyond any reasonable doubt. Oswald was an interesting person, as all sad and slightly unhinged people are but the fact of the matter was he was a nut job.  Plain and simple crazy is all he was and anybody that thinks otherwise simply needs to do their own research and quit listening to conspiracy buffs. Yes the circumstances of his life, and death, can easily lead people to the conclusion that there must be more to the story but there isn’t.  He did it, we know he did it, and a conspiracy on the level this movie implies is simply not possible.  Michael Rooker’s character said it best in the movie when he pointed out they were building an investigation into a conspiracy involving all levels of government, the mob, and military yet they could not keep a secret among 12 people in their own office.  People talk, a secret on this level could never be kept. Especially 50 years later.  I know there are undoubtedly many secrets the government has from us as citizens but one thing to keep in mind is that we learn many of them as time goes on.  Today we know who Deep Throat was, we know FDR secretly manipulated events to lead us into WWII, we know that the U.S.S. Maine wasn’t sunk by enemies; we know that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was overblown to lead us into war, and the list goes on and on.  These secrets are revealed when the history books are written yet conspiracy buffs will have you believe that this major conglomerate of conspirators have managed to keep this one secret even until today.  I am simply telling you it isn’t there.  Occam’s razor applies in this case.  Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK, and things are not as dramatic and exciting as we would like to build them up in our mind.

This movie makes a really big deal about the “magic bullet” and that is what I hear most people mention when they insist there had to be a conspiracy.  The “magic bullet” does present a convincing argument but only because the facts are never all on the table.  This bullet didn’t make dramatic turns in midair or stop and start again.  It was simply one shot that traveled on a straight line and passed through both Kennedy and Connally.  What you don’t see in this movie or hear from conspiracy buffs is that the vehicle Kennedy and Connally were riding in was not typical.  It was built differently than most in which the front seat was lower and to the left of the back.  The bullet was a post Geneva Convention bullet that was specifically designed to pass through the body. There are plenty of diagrams online and in conspiracy books that will show you this strange pattern that no bullet could possible travel but they never take into account how the car was built or the exact positions of the passengers.  I have seen the true diagram in both the Warren Report, and in a very good book by Gerald Posner  called “Case Closed.” It’s not as dramatic as some would have you believe and it doesn’t leave much room for doubt if you understand the true circumstances of the shot.

Another important part of the conspiracy theory to consider is Jack Ruby, played incredibly in this film by Brian Doyle-Murray, brother of Bill Murray.  There is absolutely no room for Jack Ruby to have been involved in any conspiracy.  Not only is there documented evidence that proves his crossing paths with Oswald before he killed him was coincidental, but Ruby did not attempt to kill Oswald. This movie would have you believe that Ruby was a button man for the mob making a hit on Oswald when he shot him but that simply isn’t the case.  Ruby is on record saying that he never actually intended to kill Oswald, only hurt him badly and this is obvious.  If Ruby was in fact out to kill Oswald why shoot him in the stomach? He shot him in the stomach in an effort to put him in a world of pain, but if he had truly intended to kill him he would have shot him in the head or chest.  Ruby was a small time nightclub owner/snitch who would not have been the choice for this type of kill if it was a planned hit.  Ruby was deeply upset over the death of JFK and the effect it would have on his beautiful wife and children.  When he coincidentally showed up right as Oswald was being led out he saw a smirk on his face he couldn’t live with. Pulling his gun and shooting Oswald was nothing more than a simple crime of passion.  I said that Ruby crossing paths with Oswald was coincidental because it was.  There is documented evidence that proves Ruby was across the street wiring money by way of Western Union only minutes before he shot Oswald.  He literally only had enough time to walk back across the street and be there at the right moment.  Had it been a planned hit this is not how it would have happened.  Not only that, but Oswald should have been long gone by the time Ruby reached the parking garage anyway.  He wanted a different sweater or something before being led out and in the time it took to get one Ruby had wired his money and was coming back.  Executions aren’t done this way and if it was set up then Jack Ruby was the luckiest assassin of all time, and that just isn’t the case.

What this movie does a great job of is convincing you that there absolutely had to be a conspiracy.  Oliver Stone may have been a great filmmaker but he has always had something personal invested in his movies.  He has an agenda and in this case it was to convince us that there was a conspiracy regardless of whether there was any truth to it.  In fact many of the things that Stone has in this movie aren’t false, yet they aren’t based on any credible evidence.  Most of the interviews taken and quoted were from people who either changed their story later or eventually came out with the truth of the matter.  For example, the character played by Kevin Bacon, Willie O’Keefe.  There was no Willie O’Keefe; he is based off a combination of real life people who had no credibility.  Most notably he is based on a man named Perry Russo, one of the key witnesses against Claw Shaw in the real trial.  Russo was lying though, and in order to get the testimony he wanted Jim Garrison in real life both drugged and hypnotized Russo. As I said earlier though, the real Jim Garrison was not the person we saw Kevin Costner play in the movie.  The real Jim Garrison was a bit unhinged and a little crazy.  In the case of David Ferrie, played brilliantly by Joe Pesci in the film, the movie would have us believe he was murdered to keep him quiet.  In real life things were much different.  David Ferrie was a sickly man already, and it is said that the pressure put on him by the offices of Jim Garrison was what finally put him on his death bed.  He was hounded day and night by the offices of Garrison and became very paranoid and apprehensive.  The stress proved to be more than he could handle, he died shortly after the news of his involvement in Garrison’s investigation broke. There have been reports that he was in the CIA but all reports have been conflicting. The conspiracy theories that sprang up in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination eventually took on a life of their own.  It’s a school of thought that is still growing today and it has always called all kinds of people out of the wood work seeking their five minutes of fame with “new information.”

Despite any truth or accuracy as to the content of this film it is still one worth your time.  It’s a significant movie because it convinced so many people with its message that the case was actually re-opened by the government.  What did the government find in that investigation? Nothing, new evidence was released and scheduled for eventual release but nothing was uncovered to change what we already know.  Still, when a movie is powerful enough to call for government action it’s something worth remembering.

So while its message is way off base it’s still an incredible movie.  The cast is so large it would take me forever to go through everybody involved but I will say they all did a terrific job.  Gary Oldman might as well have actually been Lee Harvey Oswald he fit the part so well.  Joe Pesci was on the spot as usual, nobody brings intensity to a role quite like him.  Tommy Lee Jones plays a great part but I don’t think it was his best role in an Oliver Stone movie.  John Candy has an incredible cameo that shows he had the potential to be much more than simply a funny guy.  Brian Doyle-Murray was a great choice to play Jack Ruby and he did great. Kevin Costner was a big draw when this movie came out having hit it big the year before with Dances with Wolves.  I have never been a big fan though, and I don’t think he was great in this movie, merely OK.  I probably like him less though because of his obviously forced accent and the fact he played a guy who was quite a bit crazier than he made him out to be.  Sissy Spacek, Wayne Knight, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Ed Asner, Michael Rooker, and Laurie Metcalf also should be mentioned because each of them brought something to the film on their own.  I also liked seeing both Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in the movie as well, the men were both legends and it is unfortunate that they are not with us today.

I need to stop myself now because I have already said much more than I intended to in this review.  I have of course been very critical of the content of this film and I understand how controversial those opinions may be to the “believers.” Feel free to argue with me if you like but I encourage anybody unsure to simply do their own research and ignore all the people that would have you believe they know something about something that proves there had to be a conspiracy.  Nevertheless this is still an incredible film despite any objections I may have to the conspiracy theory and I can certify that the movie is still well worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thought this movie was so amazing and intriguing the first time I watched it. I think we were in college, and being young and naive I believed it for true history. You know the ol’ conspiracy theory stuff. But then, my incredibly smart husband wrote an in depth paper on the assassination of JFK. I listened to him talk about it, watched him read these massive sized books about it until he finally came to the conclusion that there never was a conspiracy at all it a lone gunman doing something crazy and succeeding. Having said all of that, I don’t believe there was a conspiracy, but I do think this a great movie. He sure can make you believe there may have been one.

JFK

NEXT MOVIE: Judgment Night (1993)

The Jerk

Year:1979
Directed By: Carl Reiner
Written By: Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb, and Michael Elias

RYAN’S REVIEW

I am usually not a fan of movies like this.  By this I mean that I don’t normally like movies that center on really stupid characters in an effort to be funny.  It’s hard not to like Steve Martin in the role though. He is just so funny as Navin Johnson, who was born a poor black man.

From the very beginning of this movie you can’t help but laugh. The scene of Navin on the porch with his adoptive family as they are all dancing, while Martin moves like someone having a seizure, might be one of the funniest I have ever seen. However, my favorite scene is the one where the mobsters are trying to get him to invest money when they mention “the n—–s” and he loudly declares himself to be one of them and beats all of the men up. I really like how Steve Martin so casually makes race jokes at the expense of white people, because it’s funnier, and more appropriate for the time the movie was released.  When his mother explains to him that he isn’t really their son and how they came to be his parents he just looks at her with that shocked and disappointed face and asks “so you mean I’m going to stay this color?”  Priceless comedy from a man who used to be so good at it.

I don’t really know what the deal with Steve Martin is, but somewhere along the way he practically fell off the map.   He has still been in some good movies over the years but I just don’t feel he has had the presence in the industry that he enjoyed through the 80s and 90s.  I know that he had a real hard time when Anne Heche came out of the closet and became a big time item with Ellen DeGeneres because he had been in a relationship with her prior to that.  I remember hearing somewhere that the news just crushed him. I think they were engaged or something but don’t know specifically.  Hopefully he felt much better when that poser went back into the closet and was seemingly straight again. Let me note here that while I am under the impression this is how it happened I do not know for sure so by all means correct me if I am wrong.  The only other thing I know about Steve Martin that keeps him from making movies more frequently now is that he is involved in a band.  Martin has always been a musician and he actually wrote and performed the song we see in this movie where he is playing the ukulele.  Today he is in a bluegrass band and I know this simply because he makes an annual trip to North Carolina for Merlefest.  I have never been but know people who go and have seen pictures.

Whatever the reason for Steve Martin’s production drop off, I have always been disappointed with it.  I think he is a talented and funny actor who was seemingly ageless over the years.  I grew up watching many of his movies and wish he was still out there blowing us away with new roles even now.  I thought he was good in It’s Complicated but by and large I haven’t seen many of his films over the last ten years or so.  The last one I remember watching in the theater was Bowfinger and I thought that was really awful.  I had gone in with high hopes because how could a Martin-Eddie Murphy team up not be awesome right? Unfortunately Murphy’s career has gone even more downhill though and that is unfortunate too.

This is a really funny movie and having grown up with it I will always have a place in my heart for it. If you haven’t seen it then you should check it out for no other reason than to see that once Steve Martin was a really funny actor.  It’s a silly movie but sometimes mood and circumstances call for a silly movie.  When that time hits you this is one you should check out.  This movie is worth your time and it would be to your best interest to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love this movie so much. It makes me laugh every time. It was such a surprise to me the first time we watched it together. I really wasn’t expecting it to be that funny for whatever reason. I was pleasantly surprised and I still laugh out loud during the scene when he gets shot at. It’s worth your time if you want to see it.

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Even the poster is hilarious. He is carrying everything he took with him when he left the hotel room. I love the plot description in the upper left-hand corner. “He was a poor black sharecropper’s son who never dreamed he was adopted.”

The typography is nice and the blocks of color are indicative to the time this movie came out. I really like it a lot.

NEXT MOVIE: JFK (1991)

Jaws

Year: 1975
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie speaks for itself doesn’t it? Is there really anything I can say to add to what has already been said or written about this film? I don’t know but I will give it my best shot.  What can I start with in regards to this film? “It’s awesome,” seems like the best way to go.  It has an ability to draw you in and take you on a wild ride.  Some movies are so good they practically create an entire genre with the copycat films that follow and this is one of them.  This is a movie that will never be matched though.  You can make a movie about a killer snake(Anaconda), a crocodile(Lake Placid), flesh eating fish(Piranha 3D), killer wolves(The Grey), or even something I don’t know about the Loch Ness monster but it will never match up to this movie. It’s legendary, a movie that will still be awesome one hundred years from now.  A movie that creeps into our memory when any of us are swimming or snorkeling in the ocean. A movie we have nightmares about that give us a fear we take to the grave.  Sharks are nothing to be trifled with, most of us know that and one way or another it was this movie that taught us that.

I have read before that Steven Spielberg had a lot of regrets when it came to this film.  Simply because it wasn’t actually accurate and there was plenty he didn’t understand about sharks when he made the movie.  I don’t buy that though, there is nothing wrong with this movie.  Yeah maybe Great White sharks aren’t capable of dismantling a large boat at sea but who cares.  I am more than willing to throw out some suspension of disbelief when it comes to this one.  I don’t think it matters whether it is really accurate or not anyway.  We could all do with a healthy dose of fear when it comes to sharks. They are freaking scary.  Anything that can accidentally mistake you for lunch and take a chunk out of your body is freaking scary.  In so many ways the shark is the face of fear that is the ocean.  It’s such an immense body of water that holds no shortage of creatures that will turn any of us white with fear and the shark is the scariest of the bunch.  It’s a giant eating machine equipped with rows and rows of razor sharp teeth.  I heard once that a shark never stops moving forwards and that if it does it will die.  I don’t know if that is true or not but it has always aided the fear they invoke in me.  Somehow the fact that it is always moving and devouring anything in its path makes it even scarier.  From what I understand sharks don’t actually prefer to eat people, and most attacks are when they have mistaken a swimmer for a seal.  All I have to say to that is God help us if they ever do develop a taste for us.

This movie is based on a book that was somewhat based off of a true story that took place nearly 100 years ago around New Jersey.  I once watched a Shark Week special documentary about the real events surrounding a killer shark that he swam up river and killed several people in fresh water. The documentary was called “Blood in the Water”. It was a really interesting story and I would encourage anybody interested to seek it out.  The story is not even remotely close to the story we see in Jaws but it is a true story about a killer shark that took several lives one awful week. This movie also references another true story of a mass shark attack that took place in the Pacific during WWII.  Quint claims to be a survivor of the U.S.S. Indianapolis that sank during the war. When the ship sank there were 880 survivors left floating in the water and when they were finally rescued only 321 were pulled from the water alive.  The navy was unaware of the ship sinking and for six days the survivors floated in the water waiting and while they were there many of them perished due to exposure while a great many of them were attacked and dragged down by sharks. It is considered the most shark attacks on humans to have ever happened in human history.  It’s nearly impossible for any of us to even imagine how scary those six days must have been and the scar it must have left on those men that survived.  I think it explains quite a bit about the Quint character.

I am really not overly familiar with any of the cast in this movie.  Of course I know Richard Dreyfuss who has probably had the longest and most successful career of any of them.  I like Dreyfuss and specifically his role in this film. He has made many great and memorable movies over the years but I think his best work was in the beginning in roles like the one he played in this film.  Spielberg decided to cast him at the suggestion of his friend George Lucas who had worked with him on American GraffitiSpielberg obviously liked him as he used him again in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I have never seen Roy Scheider in anything else but I think he was great in this movie.  His was terrific in the part but is overshadowed to a degree by Robert Shaw who played Quint.  Quint is the badass of the movie, and Robert Shaw did a great job bringing him to life.  He is the rough and tough shark hunter who doesn’t take orders he gives them, he doesn’t panic when things heat up, and he seems to always know exactly what to do.

As a director I think Steven Spielberg, probably more than any other, has shown an incredible ability to grow and adapt to the times.  He has been making movies for over forty years and is still good at it.  What separates him from some of his contemporaries though is his rate of work.  He has made so many films and continues to hit home runs on a frequent basis.  This movie was his first real hit and I think it set the tone for his career.  Watching this movie in 1975 the critics must have really known this guy was going to be great.  This movie was a financial mega hit and instantly made Spielberg a significant player.  Spielberg is probably the first director I knew by name growing up.  I was born in 1984 and he had already made many significant movies then.  As I grew up there were the Indiana Jones movies, this one, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Hook. The latter two fulfilling all my wildest dreams in movies as I was seven and nine when they came out and saw both in the theater multiple times. I will say, that from a fans standpoint it has really been a privilege to grow up watching his movies and I still look forward to what else he has to offer us before he rides off into the sunset.

This is the kind of film I do not need to tell you is worth your time.  It is one of the most famous movies ever made and it will continue to be great for all time.  It has a timeless quality to it that will help it remain relative and important for decades to come.  If you have not seen this movie you are missing out on one that is great, but don’t watch it before you go to the beach.

AMBER’S REVIEW

When I was a little girl, my dad used to pretend he was shark in the swimming pool. He would do the sound..dun dun dun dun…and then grab us and throw us in the air. I never even knew that was from Jaws until Ryan made me watch it a couple of years ago. It’s a super creepy movie, and a classic. It has nostalgic memories for me.

jaws

This poster is iconic. Most people know it right away. In fact, one Halloween I carved this scene into a pumpkin. I like it, and I think it is extremely effective. We can’t give credit to the movie makers on this one, however. Ryan told me that the poster was taken from the cover of the book. Cool.

NEXT MOVIE: The Jerk (1979)

Jackie Brown

Year: 1997
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay) Elmore Leonard (book)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was actually the first Tarantino film I ever saw when I watched it in the theater at 13 years old. It would actually be years before I would know either Tarantino or Samuel L Jackson by name but I swear that they spoke to me with this film.  Even to this day I can’t pinpoint what it was that drew me to this movie or what it was that I liked so much about it but something here fascinated me.  I thought Jackson was so smooth and devious as the main criminal and it may have been the role that initially made me fall in love with him as an actor.  It wasn’t just Jackson though, the whole movie seemed to draw me in and I saw it a couple times in the theater.  I was too young to understand the art behind film making when I was 13. Looking back now I find it interesting that this movie, made by a true artist, took hold of my premature imagination and managed to absorb my full attention even though plenty of the film went over my head.

This movie is based off a book by Elmore Leonard called Rum Punch that Tarantino acquired the rights to back in the 90’s. Tarantino wrote the screenplay and did a great job with it but from what I understand he more or less stayed true to the story and followed the book closely. I think it is a great movie and have since it first caught my eye over fifteen years ago. It’s not Tarantino’s best film but only because the competition is so steep.  I think Tarantino experienced a significant slump in his career following this movie.  Until 2005 when he blew me away with Inglourious Basterds I had considered this the last good movie he had made.  To the best of my knowledge this was Tarantino’s last collaboration with Roger Avary and until Basterds and then Django Unchained turned out to be so incredible I had given up hope on him as a director.  Tarantino’s greatest work for a long time came while he was working with Avary.  Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fictionand this movie were all done in collaboration with Avary and they were all incredible films.  During the seven years between this movie and Inglourious Basterds I began to think that he wouldn’t succeed without Avary.  I will admit now that he can and will.  His last two films, Basterds and Django Unchained, were incredible films and prove Tarantino can do it all on his own.

Like most Tarantino movies this one sports an incredible cast.  It revived the career of Pam Grier who took on the lead role.  Tarantino had long been a fan of Pam Grier movies and specifically changed the lead role of the story so he could cast Grier in the part.  I think she did a terrific job and looked incredible doing it.  As great as she did though, I happen to think the greatest role was played by Jackson.  He thrives in the roles he gets from Tarantino and he did great with the largest he has had in any of his films.  As Ordell he was so calm, cool, and collected that he entranced me as a new teenager figuring out what it was that really made movies great.  Jackson has played many great characters over the years. Literally doing everything from Star Wars to Snakes on a Plane. He is a tireless actor who has left his mark on the industry by making more movies than any other actor out there and being really good at it. I like that Robert De Niro was part of this film but I don’t really think that he fit his role all that well.  De Niro was still a headliner at this time and I don’t think this side role was right for him; it didn’t suit him very well.  Michael Keaton on the other hand did a great job in a supporting role and I was happy to see him playing a part.  I have always been a fan of Keaton and liked his collaboration with Tarantino.  There has always been a big fuss over the role Robert Forster played but I have never seen what he did that was so significant.  He was nominated for the Academy Award for the part and I don’t think he did a bad job, I liked his role I just don’t think it was anything special.  Bridget Fonda does well enough in the role that she had but all she had to do was look good and tanned.  Truth be told I think the part could have been cast better despite that but Fonda sufficed.  Last but not least Chris Tucker can’t go without mention.  His part was small but he still played a significant part.  Also worth mentioning is Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister who has a small part.  My wife and I actually met him in Las Vegas this past October.  She had her picture taken with him and I shook his hand.  He is an incredibly intimidating man both on screen and in real life but he was really courteous to my wife. 

The biggest problem with this movie is that it really runs far too long.  Somehow is seems to be a great movie without really being any good.  That’s a strange thing to say but it is the best way I can think to describe the movie. There are too many long scenes simply honoring the soundtrack of the movie. Tarantino has said this movie wasn’t a play on blaxploitation but it seems like that kind of throw back to me. He is obviously a fan of that genre as he specifically cast Pam Grier in the lead role.  I read that when she came to his office to read for the part he actually had posters from her films hanging on the wall in his office.  She assumed he had done this for her but said that they always hung on his walls in there.  Between that and the music choices for the film I do feel he was referencing the old blaxploitation films but I am no one to argue with what the director specifically said it wasn’t.

One thing I did notice while watching the movie and would like to point out was something Samuel L Jackson said during the film.  In one scene he is sitting across from Robert Forster in his office when he points to a picture of Tiny Lister and asks, “Whose that Mandingo motherfucker right there?” I found the phrase to be interesting specifically because Tarantino’s most recent film Django features and practically focuses on Mandingo fighting during slave times.

In closing I will simply say that this is not my favorite Tarantino movie but it is one that I like and will always have a special sentiment for.  I like the cast, I like the story, and I like the direction.  Given how incredibly successful Tarantino has become in the last few years I look forward what else he has to offer in the future. This may not be his best movie but it isn’t one of his bad ones and that makes it absolutely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I don’t mind this movie. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either.

jackiebrown

This poster follows in the true Tarantino style. He has a very unique look to each and every poster for his films. I can always tell immediately who they belong to. I love this poster. It is simple and to the point. The fact that she is holding a gun alludes to the genre of the movie. The font of Jackie Brown is a little decorative for my taste, but I think it works here. Especially for the era.

NEXT MOVIE: Jaws (1975)