Month: January 2014

Mars Attacks!

Year: 1996
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Jonathan Gems

RYAN’S REVIEW

In 1996 I was 12 years old and spent a lot of time at work with my dad wandering from movie to movie in the theater he worked at.  I spent years doing this in my youth but 1996 specifically sticks out because it was when I first started paying attention to trailers and anticipating movies before they came out.  In 1996 I had my eye on the big summer blockbuster that year, Independence Day. From the moment I first sat in the auditorium and saw that incredible image of the White House being blown up by a flying saucer I don’t know that I had ever wanted to see something so bad in my life.  At 12 years old I don’t think I had ever seen anything quite so devastating on screen and the preview promised what my mind built up to be the most awesome movie ever.  I waited with an anticipation that grew at a rate only a 12 year old’s imagination can keep up with.  When the movie finally came out I was seated in the first row of a crowded theater and my mouth was watering.  Two and a half hours later I walked out of the theater disheartened and depressed.  I had suffered through my first major disappointment from a movie and I will never forget that feeling.  The previews had implied such wide spread destruction and I had imagined battles that would dazzle my eyes and satisfy all my hopes and desires.  What I saw seemed more like a drama than an action movie and I felt like I had already seen all the exciting parts in the previews.  It was a learning experience because at that young age I had to learn to deal with the let down of something I had built up to much in my head.  In 1996 my parent’s divorce was still a recent thing and that is a devastating thing to the life of any child.  My response to the personal turmoil was to hide in movie theaters by myself and forget about what was going on in my life.  I only say that to stress the fact that Independence Day being such a letdown was significant to me and the memory has stayed with me very clearly.  I would have to wait another five months that year before my faith in films was restored, and it was this movie that restored it.

For everything Independence Day lacked this film had in spades.  Nobody was safe from these aliens; they came to take over and they didn’t pull any punches.   This movie may be silly but it gave me everything I had wanted from Independence Day and I loved it. This movie had a better and bigger cast and although it was just a comedy it offered more chaos and battle than I had seen in the first film about an alien invasion.  The President in this movie wasn’t the unlikely hero who went into action but a more realistic air head continually making stupid decisions at the behest of his equally air headed staff. The aliens don’t simply destroy our cities and overwhelmingly remain out of sight but strike fast and hard with manipulation and ruthlessness. I love how the aliens run through town blasting everyone into dust while holding a translator that keeps broadcasting what they are saying, “STOP! We are your friends.” I love the simplicity of the aliens in this film.  They look just as we typically expect aliens to look, little bodies with big heads.  They ride around in flying saucers that are nothing fancy and they use guns that look like toys yet bring us to our knees when they attack.  These aliens have no remorse and laugh at our efforts to be welcoming and forgiving.  These aliens are simple and even humorous to a degree and I think it’s interesting that they still manage to be more threatening than anything we saw in Independence Day. Yeah maybe the aliens in that film looked creepy with their slimy tentacles and telepathic capabilities but we barely see them, and they are just lame next to these guys from the canyons of Mars.

I am a huge fan of Tim Burton but despite the Danny Elfman score I have never felt this movie really felt like a typical Tim Burton film.  The elements are there, the way the flying saucers land specifically being the obvious work of Burton but it still feels different.  The movie is so colorful, and while Burton can be colorful there is usually darkness that goes along with it.  The content of the film notwithstanding this film doesn’t feel dark at all and in fact it might be one of the “brightest” films Burton has ever made.  It doesn’t have that gloom that tends to linger somewhere or the other in all of his films.  Plenty of people he has worked with in the past are on board in the cast of this film but no one he is specifically synonymous with like Johnny Depp or Michael Keaton. This was before he married Helena Bonham Carter and started casting her in all of his films.  If I’m not mistaken, when this movie was made he was married to Lisa Marie, who played the alien in disguise that infiltrated the White House. Nevertheless, while this seems to be against the grain a bit for Burton it still undoubtedly has his stamp on it.  He is a great filmmaker and I have specifically loved many of his movies.  This isn’t even in the conversation of his best films but I think anything he has done does deserve some honorable mention if it was entertaining.  This movie may be silly but it is definitely entertaining and I think it’s worth mentioning when discussing his career.

This movie does have a terrific cast but I tend to think it’s the actor’s names rather than their performances that jump out at you.  With few exceptions, Jack Nicholson was great playing dual roles in the film.  Although his performance as the President is hands down the better of the two and I think it is part of what makes the movie so great.  After the Martians turn Congress to dust Nicholson says he “wants the American people to know they still have 2/3rds of their government left and THAT AIN’T BAD!” Martin Short was quite funny and it was cool seeing a young Natalie Portman with all the talent she has always had. I really liked Rod Steiger and Paul Winfield as the two opposing Generals.  Winfield being the Colin Powell of the two and Steiger playing a more General Turgidson type. Jim Brown showed promise as an actor, like he does whenever given the opportunity.  Otherwise I don’t know that anyone else did anything well enough to really distinguish themselves.  It was great to see so many popular actors all together on screen because it’s always fun the more stars you have in the film.  Also noteworthy is that this was the last film Michael J Fox was in before the news of his condition would eventually be divulged.  He would continue acting on television for several more years but this was his last significant film role.

This movie will never get the credibility it deserves, or at least the credibility it has in my eyes for beating the pants off of Independence Day. Incidentally I have reason to think I’m alone in my criticism of Independence Day because somebody must have liked it.  Not only did it make lots of money at the box office but as we inch closer to 20 years later it has been in discussion for a sequel recently.  There are two versions of the sequel written, one with Will Smith reprising his role and one without.  I’m guessing that it will be lame for obvious reason, and while I have had my ear to the ground I haven’t heard one word about these Martians coming back.  Not that it would be a good idea either, one and done was good enough for this film and anything more would only sully what it was.  If you are with me on this, if you felt the pain of disappointment from that big alien invasion blockbuster, then check this movie out.  It’s better, more satisfying, and on top of everything else it will give you plenty of good laughs.

On a bottom side note I just wanted to mention that this film also offers a great shot of New York featuring the Two Towers of the World Trade Center.  It’s the kind of thing that I never gave any thought to when I watched the movie in 1996, but watching it now could give any American that odd feeling of loss.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of those movies most people can watch over and over. I remember seeing the trailers for this when it first came out. I thought it looked ridiculous. It turns out it was ridiculously funny. There are so many things in the movie that don’t really make sense, but ultimately I think that it made it that much funnier. I used to watch this on Comedy Central all the time when I was younger, but I haven’t seen it in a while. It was really nice to be able to sit down and watch it last night.

marsattacks

This poster couldn’t fit better with the movie. I think it is very, very clear what the film is about and I think it even shows Tim Burton’s style. The wig of the Martian, the cloak of the other Martian. The typography for me is a little cheesy, but at the same time it works because it resembles the font choices of other sci-fi alien invading movies. I think this poster has too much going on, but at least they didn’t try and fit the entire star studded cast into a group. They chose some of them to highlight and then neatly fit the others into boxes across the bottom, which I appreciate. Overall I like this poster and movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Masters of the Universe (1987)….oh yeah, the movie with Dolph Lundgren

The Man with Two Brains

Year: 1983
Directed By: Carl Reiner
Written By: George Gipe, Steve Martin, and Carl Reiner

RYAN’S REVIEW

I came across this movie when I was young because I think one of my uncles owned it and let me watch it.  I liked it because I have always thought Steve Martin was funny and at the time I was marveled by seeing boobs in a film.  It’s a silly movie, but I find that even as an adult it still makes me laugh. Some comedies don’t really need a point other than to be funny and when they get the response they were going for little else really matters.

I don’t usually go for movies like this because I have always turned my nose up at things I perceived to be stupid rather than funny.  Stupid is funny but I think when you are merely acting stupid to get a laugh you are taking the easy way out.  That’s always been my big problem with Will Ferrell.  The man can be really funny but more often than not he is simply acting stupid in an effort to get laughs. It’s the easy way to do things and I find it distasteful.  Steve Martin is in a movie that could more or less be called stupid but that man is just funny to the core and humor pulsates from him in this film.  He lost that quality somewhere along the way over the years but he owned the 80s.  I love when he is in the operating room in this film and scolds his orderlies for shaving a heart into his patient’s pubes. “It’s a brain surgery!” he tells them before looking it over and twitching his mouth in the funniest way.  He also tells one of my favorite jokes of all time in this movie.  When he brings his wife, played by Kathleen Turner, home for the first time she notices the Hispanic gardeners on the porch waiting and asks “what are those assholes doing on the porch?” Martin so deftly and humorously responds with a laugh “assholes, no those are pronounced Azaleas.”  Hands down one of the funniest lines I have ever heard and more than anything else that is what sticks with me from this movie.

The biggest problem, as I see it, with this movie is Kathleen Turner.  Not only is it the role she plays but I just don’t think she was cast right to play that role.  Don’t get me wrong, Turner is perfect for playing the sadistic bitch that squeezes the life out of men by tormenting them in a way that can only be done by a villainous woman.  I just don’t think she was right for a role that men are drawn to in the way they are in this movie.  Maybe it’s because at an older age in life she would occasionally play a recurring character on Friends as Chandler’s father.  If you are unfamiliar with the show read it again, she didn’t play his mother but portrayed the character’s cross dressing father.  Quite convincingly I might add.  What I’m saying is that she actually looks like a man trying to dress up like a woman and even when she was younger I don’t see her as being attractive.  Not attractive enough that men are drawn to her like they are to her character in this film anyway.

There isn’t much more to say about this movie. It’s a silly film but operates mainly as a platform for Steve Martin to go nuts and be as funny as he could be.  He is the saving grace of this film and the only thing that makes it worth your time.  He is hands down hilarious as the stressed out husband who isn’t getting any from his wife but is doing “great in the finger sucking department.” Not to mention his name, Dr. Hfuhruhurr, pronounced just like it is spelled.  Martin may have lost something along the way but this is a perfect example of the comedy that man was capable of in his heyday.  I don’t usually recommend this movie because it’s so silly but it is worth your time if for no other reason than simply enjoying how great Steve Martin could be.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Who doesn’t love Steve Martin? I grew up watching some of his comedies, and when I started dating Ryan, he introduced me to even more that I had never even heard of, including this little gem. It’s very slapstick, doesn’t make sense in a ton of places, but is one of the most fun movies to watch. It’s an easy watch and I find myself laughing every time that we watch it.

poster2

HAH! I love this! It’s as slapstick ridiculous as the entire movie, and really works. I love that they twisted off Steve Martin’s head, since that’s what he invented in the film. His hair is all crazy like a mad scientist, not to mention his face. No, wait…his face always looks like that.

The typography fits with this. Takes electricity to zap a brain to life in those old films and so the designer is using that in the typography. I think it really works. I think this was actually a very well thought out poster and works on all of the levels that it should.

NEXT MOVIE: Mars Attacks (1996)

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Year: 2004
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris

RYAN’S REVIEW

I watched this movie when it first came out and thought it was great.  Having just watched it the day after seeing the original I feel much differently.  I didn’t know at the time that it was a remake and had I known I probably would have avoided it altogether. I am reminded of my feelings when Red Dawn was remade because when that film came out I specifically tried to talk people out of seeing it.  I think it is asinine to remake a film that was about a specific conflict that is over and rewrite it to adapt to a different time. Both Red Dawn and this film were originally made about The Cold War, and that conflict is long since gone. These movies do not translate to this time and I think it is an insult to the originals to make them again.

This film isn’t quite as bad as the remake for Red Dawn. I have not seen the remake for that one and won’t see it on principle but this remake isn’t as bad because there are some correlations between the times.  I think there is an obvious correlation between The Cold War and The War on Terror that we had in the decade following 9/11.  Both have to do with a “culture of fear” that is driven by the media and government for political purposes.  Still, while that can somewhat justify the remake it doesn’t excuse it. This movie flat out doesn’t compare to the original and having seen now what it was supposed to be I can see little to understand what I saw in it to begin with.

The only positive thing I have to say about this film is the casting of Meryl Streep.  I don’t actually think anything about her performance was exceptional but simply the fact that she was cast to play the part was a good idea.  She plays the same part played by Angela Lansbury in the original and Lansbury did such a great job that there were big shoes to fill.  Lansbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the original and I said in our review of that film that she was specifically great in the movie.  I don’t think Streep did quite as well but that doesn’t change the fact that choosing her was a good idea.  Streep is a very accomplished actress having been nominated for an Oscar a whopping 17 times and winning the award 3 times.  Casting her to follow in the footsteps of Angela Lansbury at least shows the effort to take this remake seriously and create something just as good as the original.  Although, I can’t stress enough how much of a failure that effort turned out to be despite casting her in the role.

You could argue that the same type of effort was made in casting Denzel Washington in the role originally played by Frank Sinatra, but I won’t.  I won’t argue with the fact that Denzel is far and away a better actor than Sinatra ever hoped to be but I am not a fan and didn’t much care for his portrayal in this film.  I liked this movie enough to buy it but that was before I knew how good the original was.  Having said that let me tell you that this movie is not worth your time and I encourage anyone interested to see the original instead.  It is far and away better than this movie in every way possible.

AMBER’S REVIEW

For me, this one was easier to follow. Maybe because it is set in modern day, but ultimately I think it may be the stellar cast. (Not to discredit the older version, which was filled with amazing names) I loved how well Meryl Streep did in this role. She is just so amazing. She can go sweet to creepy to cutthroat all in a day it seems. She is flawless. The ironic thing here for me too is that the movie was pretty much the same story, but set in different times, yet it worked so well. History can and does repeat itself and I think this is a nice fictional way to show that.

poster3

I totally like the 1963 version of this poster better. I think it is important to show Denzel’s face on this one, but I think it could have been a better direction to mimic or update the old one. I think that would have been really clever. I think they sort of do that on the DVD cover though, so I’ll give some credit where credit is due.

The typography is big and bold which most poster designers like to do these days even 10 years later. All I see though, with the stars out to the side is the Team America title on that poster. It even makes me giggle.TeamAmericaLogo

Ok, so it’s not really THAT close, but still not too, too far off. (Still giggling). In any case, a really good movie, mediocre poster. Nothing terrible, nothing amazing.

NEXT MOVIE: Man of Steel (2013)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Year: 1962
Directed By: John Frankenheimer
Written By: Richard Condon (novel) George Axelrod and John Frankenheimer (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

It can be easy for us to forget sometimes that great things were done in the generations that preceded us.  Especially when it comes to an always evolving business like the movie industry.  I have grown up in the age of special effects and during an ongoing aggressive attempt to continue being creative and outdoing what was done before.  Yet, to the latter of those two, some things simply can’t be done.  This is a movie that seemed primed for a remake given the technology available today but when you go back and look at the original you see that nothing we could ever do today could even touch what was done before.  This is a political thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat up until the end and then blow you away.  It has been a long time since I saw the remake and I remember liking it quite a bit but when we viewed this one again I can’t imagine it even comes close.

I love a movie that captures the paranoia that went on in the country during The Cold War.  It’s something we can hear about all day in a history class but I don’t think the message is ever really driven home.  When you learn about The Cold War the focus is always on the big events such as The Cuban Missile Crisis or the wall that divided Germany.  What I think gets overlooked is how crazy the situation got at home, the paranoia driven into Americans for political purposes.  The character of Senator John Iselin is an obvious reference to Joe McCarthy.  He has a list of names of people working within the government who are actually communist and although he can’t figure out how many names are on that list it hardly matters when he is putting on his show for the media.  The messages to the public is very clear, to the point that people don’t ask “are there actually Communist working in the US government,” but “how many Communist are working in the US government.” I discussed the Red Scare during our recent review of The Majestic; it’s a very interesting and troubling chapter in our nation’s history.  This movie is a perfect example of how some political figures could use that fear tactic to their advantage and it’s true that some did exactly what John Iselin did, to a lesser extent.

I think the biggest flaw in this movie comes from the acting because there is a lot of bad acting to go around.  I thought Frank Sinatra was really hot and cold throughout the film.  Sinatra may have been one of the coolest guys to ever live but this film does not do much to showcase his acting talents.  In truth I haven’t seen enough of his films to make an honest opinion of his acting ability.  The thing that annoyed me most about him in this movie had to be lip sweat.  In the movie he plays a character that is a bit overwhelmed with stress and I think he often looks sweaty to convey that stress but I found myself wishing the guy would just wipe off his upper lip most of the time. I also found it really annoying how he kept going back to the dream when he was trying to tell everyone his suspicions about Raymond Shaw.  He is clearly frustrated that nobody will listen to him but who the hell takes a dream seriously? Maybe they held greater importance in the sixties and I’m simply unaware.  Nevertheless, while I didn’t think Sinatra was great in this film I did like his part and I do think Sinatra was great.  They have been talking about making a bio pic about him for years and I’m always waiting on it. The man led a storied life that eventually needs to be brought to the big screen.

I have never seen Laurence Harvey in another movie but based solely on his performance in this film I think he was really bad at his trade.  He plays an “unlovable” character in this film but I found him to be “unlovable” as an actor.  Nothing about his performance in this movie was believable and if the movie wasn’t so good all around I think it would have brought the film down.  My favorite part of his character was when he told the story about meeting the love of his life, because I found it so hilarious.  This “unlovable” guy, probably a virgin, is snake bit and alone on the shore of a lake.  This beautiful girl, played by Leslie Parrish, rolls up on a bike and just happens to have snake bite remedies on her.  She slices his leg, puts medicine in it, but doesn’t have a bandage to wrap the wound.  She takes off her shirt and wraps his leg before riding away in her bra to get him help. I find this funny because how could this guy not fall head over heels for this girl? There is already the “Florence Nightingale Effect” to think of but when a hot woman takes off her shirt and wraps your virgin leg with it you love that woman forever.

The saving grace for acting in this movie came from Angela Lansbury.  Though she played a wicked part she was absolutely amazing in the role and actually received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the part.  She didn’t win and that’s a shame because she was far and away better at acting than any of the stars who got top billing.  It’s been quite a while since I saw the show but I grew up with my mom regularly watching Murder, She Wrote and remember Lansbury mainly from her part on it.  That made her drastically different role in this movie seem even more compelling to me.  Janet Leigh actually got top billing for actress and I don’t think she played a bad part, just an unnecessary part.  Why was she in this movie at all? She has absolutely no significance to the film and I think she is only here because Sinatra needed a love interest.  She was a beautiful woman and although there is no reason for her in the film she is still nice to look at.

I am not overly familiar with John Frankenheimer who directed the film but I have seen one of his more recent films, RoninI thought that was an incredible movie and I liked what he did with this film although he may have been able to get more out of a few of his actors.  I specifically liked how in the film when we see the dream sequence from Major Marko it looks altogether different from the sequence we see when Corporal Melvin had the dream.  When Marko dreams it all the women are white and when Melvin dreams it they are all black. I think James Edwards was horrible in the scene when he wakes up but I liked that they two different characters dream things different through their own perceptions.  One thing that really did annoy me while watching the film was when Raymond accidentally hears his trigger in a bar and mistaken takes instructions to jump into the Potomac River.  When Marko is chasing him down it is obviously very cold outside because we can see the breath of the actors and the river does appear to be somewhat icy.  Yet, throughout the film we see all the characters sweating and at one point Raymond’s mother criticizes him for not having an air conditioning unit, implying that it is hot. This matters little but something about how it upsets the continuity seemed vaguely frustrating to me. Yet this movie leaves you with a bang.  Frankenheimer did an outstanding job putting together the film’s climax and delivering the big blow at the end.

With a current day remake around to grab today’s viewer’s attention I fear the original film might be forgotten behind it.  This is a mistake and I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen.  The remake, despite the efforts of those involved, does not even remotely match what this film was able to accomplish. It’s not even in the same league with this film and I now wish a remake had never been made at all.  It was watching the remake that eventually lead me to actually see the original but I have little faith there were others who went back to see what it was intended to be.  I you saw the remake and enjoyed it at all then this is a must see for you because it is better.  If you haven’t seen this movie or the remake then it’s still a must see because the movie is that damn good.  This movie is worth your time and if you are reading this I hope you seek it out and see it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had a hard time staying into this film. I guess it was because it was in black and white and for me just hard to follow. I felt like I kept getting lost. Overall I think I know what happened and I truly like the story. It’s always interesting to watch films about politics running amuck.

poster1This is a really cool poster. It is simple, direct, simplistic and quite pretty. Today the typography would look a lot different in the black and blue parts, but I really don’t mind the typography of the title and the cast names. I can’t think of any modern-day posters that use this much white space and I just feel that’s a shame. Today we have to fit in so much nonsense into these posters to try and get points across, when personally I feel like simplicity is the way to go. DaVinci once said that “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” I agree.

 

NEXT MOVIE: The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

The Maltese Falcon

Year: 1941
Directed By: John Huston
Written By: John Huston (screenplay), Dashiell Hammett (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is legendary for a number of reasons.  It is credited with being the first Film Noir as well as being called one of the greatest detective films of all time.  It was the directorial debut of Hollywood legend John Huston and the acting debut of Sydney Greenstreet.  Despite all these reasons that make it significant I think the greatest of them was that it launched the career of Humphrey Bogart on to greater things.  All of this is beside the point though because this is a great movie.  When a movie is great it doesn’t need to be recognized as being significant but simply enjoyed because it is awesome.

I was introduced to this film in a high school film class and credit it almost as much as any film (aside from Casablanca) with teaching me the value of the classics.  I would have never paid any mind to a film this old when I was 16 but when I was obligated to watch it I didn’t just get into it but l thought it was really good.  It was certifiable evidence right before my eyes that I had been missing out by not looking back to what was accomplished in film before I, or even my parents had been born. As interesting and incredible as the film was I think more than anything the role of Sam Spade played by Humphrey Bogart was what appealed to me.

If Humphrey Bogart needed intro music for anything today he would have to go with that song I don’t know by name “started from the bottom now I’m here.” That song goes well with plenty but Bogart truly was a guy that started at the bottom and worked his way up to the top.  For years he was held down by the Warner Brothers and cast in bit parts, usually as a mobster. Viewed as not attractive enough to be a leading man by the execs in charge Bogart spent a long time paying his dues with the studio.  Even when this movie was in production he wasn’t wanted for the lead role. After seeing what he was able to do once given the opportunity I don’t know what those guys were thinking and Bogey sure made them look stupid.  As Sam Spade he was a straight up badass all the way around.  One of my favorite parts is when he disarms Cairo and holds him by the arm for a moment before giving him a knuckle sandwich.  It’s awesome for two reasons really, one being the sly smile he has on his face before punching him and the second being that he only hit him that once.  Oh the days of honest film making when everyone didn’t have to have a ridiculous knock down drag out fight over everything.

Bogart was great in this movie in every way.  He was cool, he was sly, and he charmed everybody involved in a plot bigger than he was.  That plot was filled with actors who would become synonymous with the era.  To this day I always have the Looney Tunes impressions of Peter Lorre in the back of my head.  They pop up every so often when someone I know does something sneaky and I never have anyone around who would appreciate the relation if I pointed it out. I thought Lorre was great in Casablanca but in this film he has a larger and more important part.  Only Lorre could play the sly kind of character that gets his gun back only to again try to hold the man who initially disarmed him hostage.  I love how he points the gun at Sam Spade again who simply laughs and allows him to search his office because there is no reason to cause a fuss. Lorre was a great actor who like Bogart found great success with this film.  He would go on to act alongside Sydney Greenstreet for many more films after this one.

If Sydney Greenstreet was still alive today he would be a shoe in to play The Kingpin in any of the Spiderman films.  Greenstreet for all I know was the original influence of the Marvel character who controlled all crime with an iron fist.  Greenstreet was a very large man but managed to move with an authority that mirrored that size.  He conveyed power with his every word and movement.  He was an excellent boss in a film that built mystery up to this big bad guy that was above all the others. He plays a very similar character in Casablanca and although I haven’t seen many of his other films I am under the impression he took this persona to those as well. I didn’t know for sure if he had any influence on the character when I started this post but now having done minimal research I can report that I was right.  Not an arrogant way to say it at all right? Actually this is one of those rare moments when a person thinks something not many other are likely to know and it turns out to be right, excuse me while I relish in the feeling.  Sydney Greenstreet was actually who The Kingpin was based off of and I can say that with accuracy now.  That not only makes Sydney Greenstreet instantly cooler but it makes the part he plays in this movie even more significant.

As the lead actress in this film I thought Mary Astor did a terrific job.  She was deceptive and mysterious to keep us guessing until the end.  I am not overly familiar with her career beyond this film because the movie so seriously outdates my capabilities as a viewer.  I thought she was great in this film though and specifically like how she interacted with Humphrey Bogart.  I love in the end how he so casually tells her that she should only get twenty years but that he will be there waiting for her when she gets out. Damn that Sam Spade was a smooth M-Fer.

This film is legendary for so many reason but above all the other reasons is that this film was simply the beginning of something greater.  These actors, with Huston at the helm, would go on to make many movies together.  I haven’t seen all of them and I am not the person you need to read if you want to know more beyond this film.  I consider Humphrey Bogart a personal hero and have since a young age but we don’t own many of his films.  John Huston was a legendary figure in film history but we don’t own many of his movies either. Sadly when it comes to Huston the best I can offer is Chinatown.  A great film in which he plays a terrific, although deranged part.  He was near the end of his career then though and nothing I could have said about him in regards to that film should matter. When it comes to John Huston I want to encourage you to research him on your own.  I don’t know enough to tell you anything really significant but if you are a film fan you should study Huston.  He was a Hollywood legend who left a major impact on the industry long before you were born.

If you are a serious film fan then I have told you nothing new about this film because you have undoubtedly seen it and have your own opinions. If you are a film fanatic who hasn’t seen this movie then let me encourage you to do so.  This is one of the great films that paved the way for the industry when it was still a developing thing.  This movie was made in 1941 for crying out loud. If I can watched it over 70 years later and still see so much to appreciate then it is something that is worth your time.  Plenty of movies have been great in the last 100 years but not all of them are going to have staying power for the future.  This is one of the films that will, it will be a survivor.  With this film we will always have a reminder of the talents of Humphrey Bogart, of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, and we will always know that John Huston was a man who knew a thing or two about making films.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie always reminds me of a young love I had in high school with Ryan. Ryan was always a movie buff. He always liked all of these movies that hardly anyone our age had ever even heard of. What does a girl do when she wants to steal away the heart of a man that loves movies that much? She takes a film critique class. And so I got to watch this movie by taking this class.

Humphrey Bogart is an amazing actor from his era, and left such an impression on movies for the future that came after. I love the over-the-top acting from movies like this and the accents from the women are just beautiful and speak volumes of the era.

poster-maltese-falcon-the-1941_02-1This is what I found when searching for a poster for this film. This is cool and all and fits with the style of the time, but it isn’t really original. The typography is nice and it shows that Bogart and Astor are the title characters and that The Maltese Falcon is the title of the film. It would be really fun to recreate this poster one day, just for fun.

NEXT MOVIE: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) 

Major League

Year: 1989
Directed By: David S. Ward
Written By: David S. Ward

RYAN’S REVIEW

When it comes to sports movies they are often looked at on a different level.  This movie for example isn’t really a great one but it still manages to be great in its own way.  It has an interesting story filled with interesting characters and is funny enough to stand the test of time. This movie was actually on my mind quite a bit this past fall during the 2013 NFL season.  I referenced it regularly during football conversations when the Jaguars came up saying that owner Shahid Khan was “pulling a Major League on Jacksonville.”  This appears to be wrong at this point since Jacksonville found some rhythm late in the season and managed to get some wins. There was a point during this past season though that I felt the team was so bad there had to be a driving force behind it.

For the first half of the NFL season the Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t just bad but something far and away worse than bad.  They weren’t simply beaten by other teams but murdered, losing by margins of points unaccustomed to an NFL football team.  I thought all of this was intentional and it was this movie that gave me that impression.  The team has a relatively new owner in Shahid Khan (a guy who knows how to rock a mustache) and a weak fan base within its hometown of Jacksonville.  Coupled with the Commissioner Rodger Goodell’s excessive efforts to build NFL support in London by having games played there I thought it seemed practical.  Jacksonville would finish the season so pathetic they had no fans left and their new owner could simply move the team across the Atlantic and Goodell gets the London franchise he is obviously working towards.  Now that the season is over this doesn’t seem so likely and in truth never did.  They did only muster four wins on the year but three of them were in a row and they ended up not being the worst team in the league.  The state of football in Jacksonville is still pathetic, but they showed just enough life to prove they were at least trying to win games.

I think this is a fun movie but it’s never really been one of my favorites.  I don’t particularly like baseball, although watching a movie about baseball is much more bearable than actually watching baseball.  There are fans everywhere but I just don’t get it.  The game is so slow and so little happens but in a movie about it only the action is caught on film.  I admire the people who have the patience for it and their dedication to the sport is impressive.  This movie in fact was made by one of those fans and David Ward has actually said before his motivation for making the film was simply to actually see his team win.  As a Cleveland Indians fan he spent a long time watching his team lose so he wrote a story in which they actually won despite all odds.

I think the biggest problem with this movie, a problem easily overlooked because it hardly matters in the scope of things, is the relationship between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo.  Sometimes a film just HAS to have a love story element to it and the relationship in this film just seems so forced.  It doesn’t seem to really fit into the story at all and I think it is only in there because some producer probably insisted on it. Speaking of Tom Berenger, does anybody out there know what happen to this guy? He made some great movies during the 80s but just fell off as the years started stacking up.  I thought it was really cool to see him in Inception, but the years haven’t been good to him.  I find it odd that of all the actors in this movie Charlie Sheen is the only one that has been able to maintain success twenty five years later.

Sheen may be crazy but he has made bank on that insanity.  I tend to ignore most of it because I never watched Two and a Half Men and cared little when all the drama went down.  After a while it became too odd not to follow though when it came to tiger blood and the hookers and so on. To make matters more interesting is how Sheen managed to leverage all the attention he was getting into even more money with a new show and deal from FX.  I have never been a really big fan because I don’t think he has ever been that great of an actor with few exceptions, most notably his roles under the guidance of Oliver Stone in Platoon and Wall Street.  He does pull off his role in this movie well enough though.  As Wild Thing he fit the bill given he always had notoriety as a bad boy to begin with.  One interesting tid bit is what he did in preparation for the role. Where there is Charlie Sheen there are undoubtedly drugs somewhere close by and even though it was probably completely unnecessary he has admitted to using steroids for this part.  Why he needed PEDs to simply act at playing a sport I don’t know but he did say he thought the steroids helped him take his fast ball from 80 MPH up to 85 MPH.  I suppose a movie about baseball wouldn’t be quite accurate though if steroids weren’t involved some way or another.  Thanks Charlie Sheen, you brought the whole thing full circle.

My favorite actor of this cast is without doubt Wesley Snipes.  I have always been a big fan of his and hate that things have gotten so bad for him in recent years.  His career had already taken quite a nosedive even before going to jail for tax evasion but now that he is out I hope there will be something left for him to salvage.  It didn’t take long for Stallone to help him out with a role in The Expendables 3.  If I’m not mistaken Stallone actually wanted him for the first film but had to cast Terry Crews instead when Snipes’ troubles started.  I doubt a role in the third Expendables movie will do much to get Snipes back into the limelight but it’s a start and I for one hope he gets a chance to make something happen again.  Dennis Haysbert has one of his most recognizable roles in this film playing Cerrano.  I think Haysbert is an incredible actor and specifically loved his role as David Palmer in 24He also has one of the coolest code names ever in The Unit where he is known as “Snake Doctor.” I haven’t seen The Unit since somewhere in season 2 but I thought Haysbert was great in it.  I don’t actually use Allstate insurance but I have to admit every time I get my insurance bill I hear Haysbert’s voice somewhere in the back of my head telling me I should “be in good hands,” and I briefly consider switching companies.    

I don’t think this is a great movie but I do enjoy watching it.  It’s a fun movie and sometimes that’s all that really matters.  I’m sure it is thought of much higher by actual baseball fans so if you enjoy baseball and haven’t seen this then you should check it out.  It spawned at least two more sequels that I haven’t seen but I can’t imagine there is much to another scenario where the team has to overcome being set up to lose again.  This movie qualifies as a classic I think for no other reason than it was well received and it’s about baseball.  There will always be an audience for it and I think that makes it worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have been watching this movie since I was a little girl. It’s also one of those movies you watch as a little kid and then watch it again as an adult and go oohhhhh a million times. It is a cheesy but funny movie. My family loved baseball when I was younger, mainly because we all played it, so its no surprise that my this is one of my favorite movies to watch with my brother. We can laugh at it even harder just because.

MPW-16167

This is a cheesy poster. It’s hardly review-able because it is almost a joke. This little baseball dressed as a native american and wearing sunglasses to make him “cool.” The only clever part of the design are the baseball stitches. They positioned it so it looks like he has angry eyebrows and a mean frown. It’s a WILD BALL! (See what I did there?) I tried really hard to see what was going on in the reflection of the glasses, but I couldn’t figure it out. I think its a woman and some kind of animal…small dog or cat. I don’t get it. The typography of major league isn’t that bad. A little cliche but I think it works here. A cheesy poster for a cheesy movie.

NEXT MOVIE: The Maltese Falcon (1941)