Brad Pitt

Meet Joe Black

Year: 1998
Directed By: Martin Brest
Written By: Eight different people are credited with writing, which makes sense given the movie makes so little.

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let me start this review by being brutally honest.  We didn’t finish this one; in fact we barely made it half way through before deciding we couldn’t take another minute of it.  I’m going to blame Maverick. We gave that film the full viewing and felt our time was completely wasted so when this one started wearing thin we threw in the towel early.  It’s an interesting story that offers plenty to think about and appreciate but I don’t think it transitioned into a good film.  This film is UNBEARABLY long, and on top of that the portrayals are all wrong.  Brad Pitt portrays Death like a child in the world for the first time, Anthony Hopkins is just going through the motions, and I thought the best performance came from Jeffrey Tambor, doing his best Dr. Phil impression.

There are things I like about Brad Pitt’s performance in this movie but too much I don’t like.  I am a fan of Pitt but in this movie he looks too boyish and ridiculously good looking.  What? Death couldn’t pick a more realistically looking person with 7 billion people to choose from? Did he really need chiseled features and highlights in his hair?  Good thing he didn’t pick the cab driver that hit Brad Pitt in the beginning.  Hopkins cohorts would have been perplexed in completely different ways and Death probably wouldn’t have been able to bang the daughter.  Now, about Pitt’s portrayal, this in truth is probably how the character was written.  Why is he so childish? I get the peanut butter thing but beyond that I am scratching my head.  Wouldn’t Death, who has been walking the Earth since the beginning of time, be more familiar with the nuances of the people he takes on a daily basis? It’s implied that Death knows all dialects easily but he doesn’t know any of the little things about everyday life?  We found it all too ridiculous to dedicate any more of our weekend night to.

Anthony Hopkins is terrific in everything; the man just beams power and dignity even when he isn’t doing anything exceptional.  Maybe that’s part of having been knighted I don’t know.  In this movie I really feel like he is just going through the motions and cashing an easy paycheck.  He plays a man who knows his time is up and he is struggling with that realization quietly with little dialogue.  So much of what I saw from him was simply that look of being lost on his face. However, the man did a damn good job with it despite whether it called for heavy acting or not.  Back in the 90’s Anthony Hopkins could easily hold our attention for lengthy films and we would have watched more if it was there.  Times have changed, and looking at this film now the power of Hopkins wasn’t enough to keep me interested for an outrageous running time of two hours and fifty eight minutes.

I am a huge fan of Jeffrey Tambor, specifically because he is awesome in everything.  He can play the serious part and then turn around and be the funniest person on screen in his next part.  Tambor will never be the leading man, but as a supporting actor you can’t do any better no matter what the role calls for.  In this film, I literally had to look him up to make sure it was him playing the part and not Phil McGraw. Look at this side by side and tell me if I am wrong:

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In fact, looking at it myself now….can you even tell me which is which? Where these guys separated at birth or was the button to make this human design punched twice by accident in the whole larger scheme of creation? (I know that last analogy is a little odd, excuse me I’ve been reading Brave New World). Despite the obvious lookalike problem I have still loved Tambor in everything, and he is just as good in this film as he is in all the others.  I think he brings a great personality to an otherwise dull film and if I remember correctly his character is rewarded in the end as the heir to the empire.

I don’t see the need to discuss this film any further as we can’t honestly review having not finished it.  If you have your own thoughts about this film and I have horribly offended you then by all means leave a comment and make your case for it.  If I gave up too soon and made a horrible mistake I would be the first to admit it.  It would only take the easiest of suggestions from someone with the opposite opinion but absent that there is no way I’m giving this film another hour and a half of my time.  Having said all that I can’t recommend it to you, but I would really appreciate the thoughts of anyone who wants to speak up for the movie.

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Legends of the Fall

Year: 1994
Directed By: Edward Zwick
Written By: Susan Shilliday and William D. Wittliff (screenplay) and Jim Harrison (novella)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out my dad was still manager of the Uptown in downtown D.C. and it was playing there on one of my trips to see him.  The Uptown only had one screen and I was stuck watching this movie over and over again while spending days at work with my dad.  I was ten years old at the time and in truth probably shouldn’t have been watching it at all but my dad was never one to pay attention to such things.  On my prior trip to see him in D.C. Jurassic Park was the film playing at the Uptown and this absolutely failed in comparison. I still thought Jurassic Park was the coolest thing I had ever seen and sitting through this was unbearable at my age.  I hated the movie then but one day found myself revisiting it at a much older age and liking it very much.  It’s an incredible story of love and loss made by a man who has a knack for making really emotionally deep films.

This is without doubt a deeply emotional movie too.  The story is told through the letters this family wrote back and forth to one another over a period of several years.  The letters came from a collection from all different members of the family that were kept by One Stab, a Native American warrior who was very loyal to Colonel Ludlow. The letters are full of raw emotion.  These people write about their pain and longing, they poured their hearts out in these letters and you can feel their emotions as if they were your own.  This was a well written story and it is very moving but I think the man behind camera has the most to do with how effective it is in invoking such an emotional response from the audience.  Edward Zwick has a knack for this kind of movie. I say that because I feel this movie so deeply.  It opens up my soul and brings all the emotion in there up to the surface.  I have a very similar feeling when I watch one of Zwick’s other films, The Last Samurai.  The guy makes very beautiful films and does a great job of getting his audience emotionally invested in his movies.  One of the things I love most about movies is when they get me like this, when they make me feel things right down to the core and get an emotional response from me.  I’m not an overly emotional person, but when it comes to movies my tears will fall.  This movie brings the tears out of me too; I feel the pain and loss of these people on such an emotional level that I love them for it.

I have always taken one specific lesson from this movie above all others.  Women can be so dangerous and destructive.  When Susannah Fincannon is brought to the Ludlow ranch she is just trouble waiting to happen, and as time goes on she single handedly tears this family apart.  She came engaged to Samuel, but the moment Alfred laid eyes on her he was in love with her, and in turn from the moment Susannah laid eyes on Tristan she was in love with him.  Samuel was a young and impressionable man, it was Susannah who encouraged him to be passionate about things and that is ultimately led him to join the fight in WWI. Samuel never really had a chance though, even if he hadn’t died in the war there is no telling what may have happened when he came home.  When Susannah met Isabel Two for the first time and the girl told her she is going to grow up and marry Tristan Susannah actually looked jealous, she already wanted him for herself despite who she was there with.  She couldn’t even wait till Samuel left for the war before falling into Tristan’s arms and nearly getting caught up in the moment.  Letting Alfred catch them together like that didn’t make things much better. That moment started the hate that would brew between those two brothers and Alfred is so dumbstruck in love he can’t see the writing on the wall.  He wasted no time after he returned from the war before snaking in on his brother’s woman, proposing to her at Samuel’s grave no less. A shameful and pathetic thing to do so soon after his death.  Despite his efforts he never had a chance; she wanted Tristan all along and wasted no time herself going after him when he came back. Making her move at the exact same grave site that Alfred made his pathetic attempt to marry her.  Tristan wasn’t right when he came back though and that was plain for everyone to see.  She ignores the obvious though and pursues her lust driven desires for a man who is clearly a little insane. When they are in that bath together she is blathering on and on about babies while he just stares off into space with the look of a man completely and utterly insane. Even after Tristan pulls a knife on her in bed and looks ready to kill her she still waits on him. What is it she even sees in this psycho anyway? When Tristan more or less tells her to get lost she finally settles for Alfred who is more than happy to continue being pathetic. Alfred was foolish though because for whatever reason she just can’t get over Tristan. Years later when she sees Tristan finally settled down with Isabel Two and living the life she wanted she nearly loses it.  After her last final effort to pursue Tristan fails she just can’t take it anymore and ends it all with a bullet to the head, but it is too late then.  The damage to the Ludlow family was already done.  Even if they sort of came back together in the end they will all still bear the scars from so much tragedy. Had Samuel came home alone their entire lives might have been different.  Maybe the three brothers don’t ride off to war, Samuel lives, Alfred and Tristan never grow to hate one another, and it goes on and on.  Women can be very dangerous, and men can be very stupid when they are around one like Susannah Vincannon.

I had an Uncle once who was a lot like Tristan and the character had always been more endeared to me because of him.  He was a really cool Uncle who always inspired love from everyone despite being the type of person that does selfish and inconsiderate things. Tristan could do no wrong in the eyes of certain family members and they were willing to forgive him every trespass.  My Uncle was also one to take off for long stretches of time with no consideration for those he left behind who loved him yet the love was always there when he returned no matter how long he was gone or for what reason. It’s an interesting character dynamic, sadly though the character in real life doesn’t always straighten himself out and the scars he can leave behind still run deep.  Tristan was an awesome character though and I still like him in this movie.  He goes completely crazy and never fully escapes the haunting feelings of failure over Samuel’s death.  The scene in which he cuts his brothers heart out is so intense; the anguish in his voice as he curses God is incredible.  It’s a testament to the acting ability Brad Pitt has.  I have always been a fan of Pitt but he has had his ups and downs over the years.  I had nearly written him off until he played the part of Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds, and I am interested to see his newest picture World War Z. I read the book and it was incredible, but I’m really not sure how it would work as a film because of how the story is set up.  Still it looks good and I can’t wait for the chance to see it.

This movie sports a great cast who most of which turned in very profound and incredible performances.  I have always been a big fan of Anthony Hopkins; he has had a long and distinguishing career.  To me growing up he always represented what a man should be in his later years, not in the role of Hannibal Lecture mind you but in plenty of his other work.  He carries himself with an air of dignity that simply demands respect in nearly every role that he played throughout the 90s.  In this movie he doesn’t play the most likable character yet I like him all the same because he seemed appropriate to me. Colonel Ludlow is a man who knows what he is talking about yet nobody will listen.  His sons are foolish in his eyes with the exception of Tristan, most of the time.  He knows what they are getting themselves into when they want to go to war but they don’t listen to him.  He knows what Alfred is getting himself into by running for office but Alfred is too proud to see it himself.  Colonel Ludlow is rough around the edges but he is a strong and powerful man just eaten up with disappointment.  He carries hatred in his heart from his days in the service, he has a wife that he loves but won’t stay with him, and he has three boys who he never quite knows what to make of.  I have always thought he was a great character and feel disappointed every time I see the film when he has that stroke.  It’s an awful thing to see such a man defeated by his body and forces out of his control.  Yet despite the disability he develops he is still a proud man and not afraid of doing what needs to be done in the end.

Another powerful performance in this film came from Aidan Quinn in the part of Alfred Ludlow.  Quinn has never had what anybody would call a significant career but he really brought it in this movie.  Alfred is such an interesting character even though he is the pathetic brother.  He is such a smart and capable man yet so foolish with his hopeless obsession with Susannah.  He may be misguided and thinking with the wrong head most of the time but you have to give the man props for having the balls to stand up to his father.  In the scene where Colonel Ludlow gets in his face I think people in the audience were likely to flinch at the anger coming off the man but Alfred didn’t. I also liked Henry Thomas in the part of the youngest brother Samuel.  Samuel was young and innocent, a part “EL-I-OT” pulls off very well.  In truth, from what I have seen it may be the only part the guy is capable of.  Even as a minor gangster in Gangs of New York he still came across as young and innocent. Outside of playing Guinevere in First Knight (another role in which she plays a really destructive woman) I have never seen Julia Ormond in another movie.  Despite what I think about the character she plays in this movie I still think she did a great job with the part.

In my youth this is a movie I never thought I would feel so strongly about but I grew to love it at an older age.  I always appreciate a movie more when it grows on me this way and this one did without doubt.  It’s such a gripping and powerful film that reaches right into my soul and pulls all kinds of emotions to the surface.  Some have made suggestions to me that this is a chick flick but I always dismiss them.  There is so much to this movie that raises it far above that category of film and those guys just can’t look deep enough to see it.  This is a great movie and all great movies are worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie will make you cry, and then ball, and then cry some more. I don’t care how many times I watch this film it makes me sad. I don’t even think you feel uplifted at the end either. It is all tragedy and sadness brought on my one single, slutty, horrible excuse for a woman. Brad Pitt looks gorgeous as always, and that might be the happiest part of this entire movie.

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Oh c’mon people! This poster would be great if they would have just left out the damn floating heads. Guess what! Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins are famous enough that their names are all we need. And how much more intrigue would there be if they would have just let it fade to a dark color and let the image at the bottom speak for itself. You would probably be wondering a lot more about what this movie is actually about instead of who is in it. I like the typography. It fits together nicely and is positioned well, and I think it has almost become an iconic looking movie title. This is a mediocre poster that could have been great.

NEXT MOVIE: Les Miserables (2012)

Interview with the Vampire

Year: 1994
Directed By: Neil Jordan
Written By: Anne Rice

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  It doesn’t crack the top three but it falls into the immediate group that follows.  There are many movies I bonded with in my youth that helped me make it through the difficult times.  This is one of them.  This movie is about sadness and loneliness, about emotional torment, and a longing for something not quite understood.  It’s about feelings and frustrations I related to in my youth and it will always be important to me because of that.  I think the movie is well made, well acted, and tells a fascinating story.

I was fascinated by vampires before they became cliché in the aftermath of Twilight and True BloodThe power that comes with immortality and the ability to do anything is enough to infatuate any imaginative teenager.  This was one of my favorite movies and I went on to read the book, as well as the sequel The Vampire Lestat, I remember not liking the book for this film nearly enough but I thought the sequel was incredible.  I need to stress that I read these at a young age because there is something funny I will always remember about it.  When I was reading The Vampire Lestat I was practically unaware of things like bi-sexuality in men.  I remember telling people that the book was awesome but Anne Rice didn’t know anything about how men think and behave. In my youthful ignorance I assumed that because she was a woman she just had the wrong idea about men and how they are.  Naturally in adolescence I was under the hopeful and perverted impression that women might always engage in closer contact nonchalantly and done the things these men in the book did.  When I got older I realized that Lestat and Nicolas were simply French, and possibly homosexual.  I feel stupid about it now but still find humor in how unaware and ignorant I was then.

I think what makes this movie such a successful book adaptation is that the author wrote the screenplay herself.  I was a big fan of Anne Rice at one point and think her role in this film allowed her to enhance and alter the story in ways she hadn’t thought of before.  I have not read any of her work in some time and will admit that when I became enamored with her I was simply a fledgling reader.  It’s hard to give an accurate opinion about how I feel about her now but I thought she was awesome at one point.  I think she wrote a great screenplay to go along with a good book in Interview with the Vampire. I need to revisit it at some point as well but I remember The Vampire Lestat being epic and awesome.  I will eventually reread it one day and if you are a fan by all means offer words of encouragement to get me motivated to do it.  Talk me into it.

As far as the acting goes in this movie I think everybody did a great job but the best performance was given by the very young Kirsten Dunst.  She was only 11 or 12 when the movie was made yet gave such a powerful and compelling performance.  Her role was a hard one because she plays a character that reaches a very old age while trapped in the body of a child. I found myself wondering years later how she didn’t manage to utilize that talent more.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of her but I just thought we would see bigger things from her. I am no fan of Tom Cruise but can’t deny him when he is great.  If I remember correctly he was a big surprise being cast in the role and many doubted his ability.  I think he silenced most of his critics though, as he has continued to throughout his career.  I do not like him but even I have to admit he is damn good at what he does and is seemingly ageless these days. I am a fan of Brad Pitt but don’t think that he is really exceptional in this movie.  His story is the one being told and it makes him the most important character but I think he was out shined by the rest of the cast. I thought Antonio Banderas was great as the ancient and unpredictable Armand. I thought Stephen Rea was good as his main henchman Santiago too.  Christian Slater was on top of the world to an extent at this time and did a good job.  The role he played was initially intended to go to River Phoenix before his untimely death in 1993.  Keep an eye out too for a very young Thandie Newton playing the part of a beautiful slave.  She is such a beautiful woman who seemingly does not age; she has not graced the screen enough throughout her career.

I think this movie was a hit on all levels. Direction, writing, and acting were all top notch in my opinion and I think this is an awesome movie.  I think the eventual sequel that was made, Queen of the Damned, was possibly one of the worse movies I have ever seen and to this day don’t understand what anybody was thinking when they made it.  As a big fan of this movie I heavily anticipated the film as it was in production and have never been more disappointed.  I don’t know why they chose to make the third book into a film and not the second.  I had lost interest in the book series by the time I got to Queen of the Damned and didn’t know much about it, but had my doubts it could be as good as The Vampire Lestat. I don’t know why Anne Rice wasn’t utilized again as a screenwriter on the film but don’t know that it would have really made any difference.  The movie is notable only because it was filmed before the untimely death of pop singer Aaliyah. It was released post-mortem for her and did absolutely nothing to give her any kind of legacy.  Which is unfortunate because she had all the potential to become a really big star in her future.

This movie may be old news in today’s vampire madness but this is a real vampire movie.  I don’t pay attention to any of that crap put out these days.  Vampire are creatures of the night, they are killers, and predators.  Not something for a prepubescent girl to ooh and aah over.  Not only that, but the genre they have become today has just gone too far.  I didn’t read the book but need I say more than simply Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer? I think when we start rewriting history to incorporate vampires we are just reaching.  We can do better and I am just disappointed by what we have resorted to over the last several years.  True Blood is a stupid show that used to be OK and now I can’t stand it, the only consolation being that there is tons of nudity.  These days I am so sick of vampire crap I can’t stand it. 

If you find yourself equally as sick of vampires as me yet still want to watch a good old fashioned vampire flick then this is the movie for you.  It’s a good one that came out before vampires became overkill in the media.  This movie is important to me because of the nostalgic feeling it invokes for me but it is a great movie and more than worth your time as well.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Before Ryan would let me watch this movie with him, he made me read The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. It is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. I like her view of vampires. They don’t shine like effin diamonds in the sunlight, thank god. After reading that book we watched the movie, and I was blown away. I really love this movie. It is so interesting. I think for me it was better because you have to remember that this movie came out before the vampire craze of today. I still love it. You also get to see a little Kirsten Dunst kid vampire, which is awesome. She was amazing in this movie.

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The poster is kind of what you expect it to be for the time. I think the font is in the Trajan family, which really actually works. It has a dark eerie feeling which is nice and appropriate. Some of the text gets lost in the image and that always drives me crazy. But, overall…it’s not a bad poster.

NEXT MOVIE: Intolerable Cruelty

Inglourious Basterds

Year: 2009
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. I had long since lost faith in Tarantino as a director with feelings I wrote extensively about in our Death Proof post. This movie proved me wrong about him however. Amber and I went to see this movie in the theater and I really went in wanting to hate it. I specifically remember the first shot of the film gripping me right there in the theater. I was immediately drawn in and then the scene that followed was so overwhelmingly powerful that not even I and my fledgling hatred for Tarantino could deny the greatness of this film. Let me say it plainly and straight, while I still feel Kill Bill and Death Proof were horrible films, Tarantino obviously still has a lot to offer as a filmmaker and he deserves our respect.

Tarantino was nothing short of perfect with this film. His writing, choice of music, and attention to detail was incredible. This movie had a long and interesting journey to being made but all the time and effort paid off. I remember it first being listed as in production on IMDB.com in 2003 and I spent six years waiting for its release. Tarantino spent something like seven years working on this film and at different times had roles for Adam Sandler, Michael Madsen, and Tim Roth at least. I did not expect much from it after all the different developments over that time. Especially since none of those guys, or the characters they were listed to play ended up appearing in the film. Right before the movie came out I heard it was a remake and all hope was lost for me. I have never seen the original movie but I don’t have to in order to know that this movie hardly qualifies as a remake. Tarantino may have taken some basic plot elements from something else but otherwise this movie was all him and he nailed it.

Despite the many casting changes that went on during the lengthy production the lead role ultimately went to Brad Pitt and I felt his performance gave his career validity again just as much as the movie gave validity back to Tarantino for me. Pitt got his swagger back with this one. He was great as “Aldo the Apache” with an awesome accent and flawless delivery. I had lost faith in Pitt too before this movie following his roles in movies like Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Ocean trilogy. This movie proved to me he still had it though and I look forward to what he still has to offer as he enters the sunset years of his career. My favorite thing about his character in this movie is the scar he has on his neck. It is never explained and that makes it all the more interesting. Aldo the Apache is a crude and blunt man. With his kind of demeanor it is obvious that at some point someone tried to slit his throat. From the look of the scar they made all efforts to get it right but Aldo survived despite that. That’s part of what makes Aldo such a great character, but there was no shortage to what made him great.

I had never heard of Christoph Waltz before he was cast as the villain in this movie, but like everybody else, I will never forget him afterwards. As Colonel Landa, Waltz was intimidating and brimming with power. He has such a calm and patient persona that you don’t realize, and then nearly forget, what he is actually capable of. He has an extreme ruthlessness masked behind impeccable courtesy and charisma. He is an ambitious man who will sell out anyone and even his cause for his own means.  He gets it in such a satisfying fashion in the end too. He survives the war, but as the viewer we know that he will never escape his crimes.

Eli Roth was great as “The Bear Jew.” He is a large and intimidating man already but brought such a savage violence and tenacity to his character in the movie.  Prior to this movie coming out Tarantino financed the US release of his movie Hostel in 2006. Michael Fassbender has a small but significant part in the movie.  He has burst onto the scene since the release of this movie and I think he has great potential.  He was incredible in Prometheus and I thought he was great as Magento in X-Men First Class.  Also adding this movie to their filmography are Harvey Keitel and Samuel L Jackson who lend their voices to the film.  Jackson has a voice over at one point discussing the Basterds and Keitel is the American officer on the phone who makes a deal with Landa in the end. Mike Myers has an unusual but welcome cameo in the movie too.  About fifteen years ago Myers might have been one of the funniest men in movies but that time passed.  I am still pleased to see him when he is in anything now, and I like what he brought to the film in his short role.

Diane Kruger was great as the German double agent who aids the Basterds in their fight against the Third Reich.  As good as she was in this movie though I think the best female performance undoubtedly goes to the unknown Melanie Laurent. She was cool and cunning as Shosanna, the Jewish girl who gets the last laugh against the Nazis. I still wonder if Colonel Landa in fact knew who she was during the scene in the restaurant.  He is such a sly and villainous character that there is no telling but the fact that he ordered her milk seemed telling.  Her character seems concerned when he places that order but I think in the audience we were all on the edge of our seats because of that too.

I don’t know that there is any place to criticize this movie because it is as perfect as they get.  I happen to like the way Tarantino changed history to suit his own purposes in this movie but it is misleading to the young people who don’t know any better.  I remember once back when I was teaching a kid told me I was wrong during the lesson because the Americans were actually the ones who killed Hitler. That frustrated me but the ignorance of youth will always frustrate. If for whatever reason you are unaware pay close attention: this movie is ENTIRELY fictional and none of the events that transpired are based in any fact.  Of course Hitler probably committed suicide in 1945 as the Russians were breaking down his door and that was what ultimately ended the war in Europe.  I say probably because there are some interesting theories out there suggesting the possibility of Hitler’s body double actually being the one that was found and Hitler having escaped to somewhere in South America.  I do not know well enough to say what might have actually happened but I found the History Channel special on the topic to be very interesting.

When this movie came out I remember my sister telling me she had heard it wasn’t any good from a friend.  That friend told her that when this movie ended people actually stood up and applauded it.  She had never seen such a thing happen and couldn’t figure out what they thought was so great about it.  All I have to say to that is that my sister’s friend was an idiot.  People stood up and applauded because this movie was that damn good.  The movie closes with Brad Pitt saying his most recent swastika was his masterpiece.  I see that as Tarantino telling us that he felt he had just finished his own masterpiece and I concur. Despite the feelings I had developed for the director I had once loved he had proved me wrong and even as a hater I couldn’t deny what he had done.  One of my best friends and I had argued relentlessly over the man for years and when I walked out of the theater I called him on the spot and told him he was right and I was wrong.

This is without doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen and it is more than worth your time to see it.  If you feel differently about it please leave a comment and give us a piece of your mind.  I would be very interested to hear alternative opinions on the movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a damn near perfect movie in my book. I loved it. And I don’t even like Quentin Tarantino that much. So to call one of his films damn near perfect is a huge compliment. I love the actors and the humor and the nasty gritty details of every scene. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out.

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This is the poster, which I really like. I usually HATE, actually loathe his design choices in most of his films. Not all, but most. This poster, however, is one of my absolute favorites of his. It alludes to the brutality in the film without actually showing anything brutal. The logo is nicely designed and became recognizable when the movie was being introduced. Overall, I give this movie and the poster the utmost kudos.

NEXT MOVIE: Innerspace (1987)

Fight Club

Year: 1999
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Chuck Palahniuk (novel) Jim Uhls (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie instantly became one of my favorite movies when it came out and I watched it frequently. It’s full of little things that you notice with each additional viewing that make it fun to watch multiple times. I was fifteen when it was released and it probably wasn’t the best influence to spend so much time with during my formative years but there were no lasting effects. The anarchy and rebellion that goes into the story is something that can influence plenty of teens, and all young men love to fight, or watch fights at the very least.  This movie has without doubt made its mark on our society and that is still true over a decade later.   It is a dark movie but it is an incredibly interesting one as well.  It is based off a book that is equally if not more dark and disturbing.  According to the writer many people were unaware that it was actually based off a book when it came out, and he frequently came into contact with people unknowingly influenced by what was actually his creation.

Chuck Palahniuk is an interesting writer with a style like none other I have ever seen.  He has written many books but Fight Club is the only one that I have read.  I did really enjoy the book but it has been a few years and I am due for a reread because I can’t remember enough about it now.  (Thanks George R.R. Martin, you have pushed other authors out of my memory, but I don’t mind because your books are awesome). I do remember that I liked the book but it was different. The ways in which the movie was different though seemed to only bring more to the story collectively.  The main thing I remember from the book wasn’t even in the book itself but in an afterword written by Palahniuk about how popular the story had become and the mark it left on our culture.  He tells a story about being at a book signing in London.  One reader came to him raving about what was done to food in the book and saying that he himself had served a famous person tainted food in the same fashion. When the reader refused to tell Palahniuk who the famous person was he leveraged the autograph to get the info.  The reader then told him he worked at the only five star restaurant in the entire country of the UK and that the Queen of England had eaten his cum, FIVE times.  I will never forget that for as long as I live because if the Queen of F-ing England isn’t safe from eating cum then we are all in danger at all times.  All I can say is never send anything back and always be incredibly nice to the person serving you. They are preparing your food and they are usually young and immature people who wouldn’t even think twice about doing something disgusting to your food. Famous people shouldn’t even eat out at all, and the cops shouldn’t go anywhere but Subway because they can see their food prepared there.

This was the third uniquely awesome movie David Fincher had made in a row.  It came right after both Seven and The Game which both had the same ability to blow your mind at the end.  At the time I considered Fincher to be the best young director out there and his work backed that up.  I personally have not been impressed with anything that he has done since this movie although just about every movie he has made since has been critically acclaimed and loved by the audiences alike.  I didn’t care for Panic Room, Zodiac, Benjamin Buttonor The Social Network all for different reasons but I specifically thought The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was awful.  I think that was one of the worst books I have ever read despite its success, and I think the movie was even worse.  The thing for me was that I got really invested in that mystery. I could not wait to find out who killed that girl and how.  When I found out **SPOILER ALERT** that she had been alive the whole time I was pissed, what a rip off, and the movie was even worse.  Literally all throughout the movie he has a picture of the woman as an adult on his wall under a different name and nobody that has been searching for her for thirty years looked at it and noticed her? Blomkvist easily obtains the picture of her living under the oh so clever alias of another relative, and they couldn’t figure this thing out in thirty years? Of course it wasn’t like that in the book but I just really thought it made the whole movie ridiculous. The movie was OK with me up until then and it was a well made film but I still think it was overrated. The story as a whole was just such a letdown, and I thought the Blomkvist character in the book was so overdone.  Everywhere he goes women of all types just throw themselves at him, it’s just tacky if nothing else, the pipe dream of a man that didn’t get laid enough in his life.  Daniel Craig wasn’t bad in the role though and the character wasn’t so annoying in the film. If nothing else the movie was great for seeing a lot of Mara Rooney naked, and she looked so sexy with those piercings and tattoos. Apparently there aren’t many who share my opinion of the book and movie though, they were both very successful.

This movie is dark, gritty, and mind blowing.  It was really well made and the screenwriter did a great job of adapting the story into a film.  What made this movie just as good though was the acting.  Brad Pitt was the king of cool in this movie, and he solidified his image with men as much as he already had with women in this movie. Pitt was more ripped than any man should be in this movie, he smokes nonstop, and he always had something either interesting or really cool to say.  Ed Norton was just as good and it is his character we see the most arc from.  What I never really realized until someone pointed it out to me was that Norton doesn’t have a name in the movie.  His character in the credits is simply listed as Narrator. Norton was on a role at the time this movie was made and he was in several great movies at the time.  His star has faded in the last ten years though and I am not sure why.  I know that he got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit for The Incredible Hulk and was not asked back to do The Avengers because of it.  I think that was a shame because I really liked Norton as Bruce Banner and was hoping for him to get back on top with the franchise.  Helena Bonham Carter is so dirty in this movie, yet still has something sexy to her that I think everyone can see.  I am a big fan of Carter and while for some reason she chooses roles that make her look unattractive I still find her to be sexy, even as she gets older.  This movie nearly got an NC-17 rating for a line she spoke that was taken from the book but it was cut to get the R rating.  At one point she tells Tyler Durden that she wants him to get her pregnant so she can have his abortion.  I think cutting it was understandable, even for a pro-choice person that seems too wrong.

Speaking of dialogue that was cut I think it is important to mention where it was simply changed.  The ingredients given for napalm and dynamite in the movie are not correct.  They were changed for the obvious reasons although the book does describe the correct ingredients in it.  Good thing for all of us that a lot fewer people read the book, but that information is unfortunately available to anybody clever enough to get on the internet, so beware.  I can see this movie being a dangerous influence to some people but that isn’t the case for all.  For all people of sound mind this is simply a fascinating and awesome movie.  I can’t say that I would recommend this movie to anyone because I don’t see it as being for everyone.  It has found an audience in very unusual demographics though according to the afterword by Palahniuk in his book.  So while maybe I’m not sure who and who I should recommend this movie to I can tell you that it is definitely worth your time to see it if you haven’t already.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Fight Club is one of those movies that most people have seen and loved. I think it mostly had to do with Brad Pitt being a completely gorgeous little badass. This movie is twisted in every sense of the word, and is put together in a seamless way. It is a super dark movie and follows the life of Edward Norton as his character changes throughout the movie and ultimately comes to a dramatic realization in the end.

I would be surprised to hear that you haven’t seen this movie, especially if you read our blog, so I will say go now and watch this movie. It will only add to your cool factor if nothing else, and other than that it is just damn well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Fire in the Sky (1993)

Burn After Reading

Year: 2008
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is not the best Coen Brothers film and in fact it isn’t even one of their better ones but there is a lot to like about this film.  It has an awesome intro that is very funny but overall the film tends to go up and down.  I may be somewhat biased in my criticism though. While I always think highly of the Coens I do have a big problem with infidelity and so much of this film is about infidelity. I am a child of divorce and grew up as the inadvertent victim of infidelity and because of that I get uncomfortable and weird when seeing it.  Like all Coen Brother movies there are a lot of weird things going on in this one, but the positive aspects make it worth our wild.

There is a great cast on hand in this one. John Malkovich gets the movie started with a great outburst and his character is so constantly funny.  Brad Pitt is hilarious and he plays his part well but I felt like this was when we were really starting to see his age.  He was 45 when this movie came and trying to play the part of a much younger man.  He is still great and his character has one of the best moments in the film (with Clooney, coming out of the closet). What makes it so funny is the look on his face when he pops out of the closet. He has this expression that is ready to explain it all “no big deal man I was just hanging out in here.” Francis McDormand is great in this movie. I really don’t like her character and she looks awful but she is such an amazing actress.  I think J.K. Simmons is great in everything he does, and he is fantastic as the CIA director.  George Clooney and Tilda Swinton also star in the film but I don’t really care much for either.  I tend to think Richard Jenkins brings more to the film actually.  For my thoughts on the directors see my posts for Blood Simple or The Big Lebowski They wrote this movie at the same time they were writing No Country for Old Men. I’ve read that they actually alternated days, working on Burn After Reading one day and No Country the next.

This is a really funny movie but it’s that dark comedy that doesn’t appeal to everybody.  There are also a few scenes that could rival the work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone a la Clooney’s project going on in the basement.  Better yet Clooney’s character in general is a bit much, such a devious pervert. I don’t mind recommending this movie but it’s R rating does need to be taken seriously.  This movie has a lot of great laughs and really memorable scenes, it is definitely worth you time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is great. It starts out on such an interesting note that you have to keep watching it, just to see how it all comes together. One of my best friends was raised as a Mormon, and in that opening scene they say a line that is one of our all time favorite lines. “I have a drinking problem? Fuck you, Peck, you’re a Mormon. Compared to you we ALL have a drinking problem!” After this line, I was hooked in for the entire movie. It connects all these people in different scenarios into one big story, in true Coen Brothers fashion. The only thing I didn’t really like about this film was the fact that Brad Pitt maybe was a bad choice for his role. I think he did a good job at it, but ultimately I think it would have been better to have him played by someone younger. This movie is worth watching, because all Coen Brothers movies are worth watching.

NEXT MOVIE: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

SE7EN

Year: 1995
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Andrew Kevin Walker
Nominated for Best Film Editing


RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is a perfect starting off point for this blog because in so many ways it is a perfect movie. Film Noir to the core and top of its genre. It was one of the first movies directed by David Fincher, who would go on to do many great movies. An all-star cast including the great, wise, and stoic Morgan Freeman. A younger Brad Pitt showing off some great range and outstanding acting skills. Gwyneth Paltrow, who hasn’t aged a day in 15 years now. Kevin Spacey whose name wasn’t listed in the credits to enhance the element of surprise. The always fantastic R. Lee Ermey, and even Shaft (Richard Roundtree) make an appearance in the movie. This movie was not for the tenderhearted in 1995, or even now for that matter. It is provocative, interesting, and shocking. The ending was more than just surprising it was emotionally compelling. Brad Pitt made me believe in this movie. He made me feel the pain of his character in the end, when he realizes what John Doe has done. Pitt became a star with this movie, I own the two movies he starred in prior to this film as well. He is good in those films but it is this one where you start to see his swagger. He manages to be ultra cool through most of the movie and then vulnerable and angry in the end. As I said before, he shows great range. This film is one that comes to mind when I think of Pitt’s best work, and personally I like to think that Brad Pitt is the actor James Dean would have been had he not died.
Kevin Spacey should not go unmentioned here either, he was just at the beginning of an amazing run that included The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, and American Beauty. His John Doe, who kills to prove a point, is chilling yet mesmerizing at the same time. You know that he is a monster, a truly terrifying foe, but at one point he almost convinces you. He makes a point, you almost relate to him, and think that maybe the world has gotten a little out of control.
This is my first time blogging about a film but in all honesty I don’t think there is much more I really need to say about this film. I feel I should be careful to not give too much away about the plot in case someone reads this who hasn’t seen the film. I want to encourage that person to see it but I don’t think I need to convince them that it is great. I think the film speaks for itself, I am confident that anyone else who takes a chance on this film will enjoy it. Se7en was easily one of the best films of 1995 in my opinion, and owns it respective place as the first film on our movie rack.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan introduced me to so many films that I never even knew existed. He created this movie snob, a monster if you will. This film was one of the first ones. The first, second and even third time that I watched it, I was amazed. I thought Brad Pitt was amazing, but being a woman it is almost a sin to not think so, am I right? I loved the darkness of it. I loved the intensity of it. Why am I using past tense? I feel like I can no longer say I love this film. I feel like sometimes I say I do because I am “supposed” to love it. But, having recently watched it for this blog, I find it too dark, and too intense. Don’t get me wrong, Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Gwenyth Paltrow all give stellar performances, I felt restless the whole time and not sucked into the film as I used to be many years ago. I can’t give this film a bad review at all, it really is amazing for what it is, but I find myself depressed and sad after watching it, not the same “ah-ha!” after the first few viewings of it. Even still, I am happy it sits on our collection.