River Phoenix

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.

interview-with-the-vampire-movie-poster

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

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Year: 1989
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, and Menno Meyjes

RYAN’S REVIEW

Let’s face it, Indiana Jones is at his best when he is fighting Nazis and I thought this movie really brought the franchise full circle and made it what it was. I think when your first sequel runs amuck you go back to square one and do things right the next time around.  That’s exactly what this movie did when it went back to fighting Nazis and brought back a couple of characters from the first film. Opening the movie with somewhat of an origin story was an excellent touch that went on to spawn a television series that I remember watching in my youth.  This was an altogether better film than Temple of Doom, and I will even go as far as to say that it rivals Raiders of the Lost Ark in the franchise.  Raiders is hard to top, but this comes as close as it gets and did plenty to create the marketability of the franchise.

I really think it is awesome that the franchise went back to the Nazis in the third film, being set in 1938.  It really disappoints me how the fourth film played out.  I have always thought that the greatest story line for a continuation of the franchise would go back to the Nazis again.  Sometime during WWII specifically.  I mean, what was Indy doing during “The Great War”? As a big time American enemy of the Nazis there should be little doubt there was a story line there.  Unfortunately we got something at a later date that ultimately settled around aliens.  Two thumbs way down on that. I can’t remember where I heard it but I remember being told George Lucas was to thank for the direction of the fourth film.  Another reason I despise the man that so many people love.

I think they really got back to the Indiana Jones roots in this movie, literally in fact.  River Phoenix was great as the young Indiana Jones.  This movie specifically is what I know the actor from and growing up knew his brother Joaquin much better.  I am a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix actually, despite his problems.  I expect nearly every day to find out he followed the same path as his brother and died from some kind of overdose but am always grateful when it doesn’t happen.  River Phoenix of course died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of twenty three with all the promise of a successful and fantastic acting career ahead of him.  His brother Joaquin shares his talents as well as his tendencies towards drugs unfortunately. His troubles are well known but I am a fan nonetheless, I think he is a great actor.  River could have been a great actor as well, and this movie as well as any he was in proves as much.  I thought he owned the role of the young Indiana Jones and I like how they explained the scar on his chin, a scar Harrison Ford got on his own that has been with him forever.

Harrison Ford again is great in the title role, he is the man that so many of us grew up with and idolized.  People will argue that Han Solo was a better role but I don’t think it got any better than Indiana Jones for Harrison Ford. It was the role of a lifetime and he was very good at it.  I really like that they brought back Denholm Elliott and John Rys-Davies for this movie. It made their characters more important to the franchise and I liked that.  Alison Doody served well enough in the female lead despite her name. She was beautiful and played her part well but it never took her anywhere.  I really liked Sean Connery in the part as Indy’s father, although it doesn’t make much sense for our ultra-American hero to have a father with an English accent.  Connery was one of the actors that proved age couldn’t slow down someone who was good at what he does and this movie played a big part in that. Harrison Ford plays a really strong character in Indiana Jones and it took a strong actor to play the part of the man that humbled him.  I think Connery did that in the deft fashion of a seasoned actor who knew his trade.  He brought a lot to the movie while not stealing the scene and I think it set the stage for all his roles to come over the following ten years.

For what Julian Glover lacks in the role of the lead villain Michael Byrne makes up for in spades.  General Vogel was evil and intimidating while Walter Donavon was just a weasel.  It was a bit of a twist when Dr. Schneider turned out to be bad but Indy should have been smarter than to fall for a beautiful blonde with a German accent. I do think it is weird that the movie implies that she had a relationship with both father and son but I suppose that was her job.

Indiana Jones jousts with a Nazi in this movie on motorcycles while he is armed with a flag against a machine gun and Indy wins, need I say more? This movie did as much as  Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Indiana Jones franchise and it is more than worth your time. I grew up with this as the completion of the series and it turns out that things would have been better off that way. I was really disappointed with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull despite how much money it made. There were parts that appealed to me as a fan but overall it was a disappointment and I wish the franchise had simply been left with this.  It is an awesome movie and proved to be incapable of being outdone twenty years later.

NEXT MOVIE: Inglousious Basterds (2009)