Sharon Stone

Total Recall

Year: 1990
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: The original story was inspired by a short story by Phillip K. Dick and then there were several others.

RYAN’S REVIEW

We are on vacation right now and doing something out of the norm with the blog. As a onetime thing we are breaking the order of going through our collection as it sits on the shelf and reviewing a movie that normally wouldn’t come for a long time.  Since the remake of Total Recall is hitting theaters soon we felt this was a perfect time to make an exception. I’ll admit that the remake of this film does look really good, but this will really be a hard film to top.

I think this movie was ahead of its time in many ways.  It’s got a clever and twisted plot that has an interesting ability to suck the viewer in. That is the only reason I am interested in a remake.  This is the kind of movie that could be so much better had the actual technology of the future been incorporated into it.  I think the trailer for the new movie inspires a lot of hope, but as far as this one goes I think it is really interesting to see what they thought the future was going to offer.

I think this is easily one of the best movies Schwarzenegger made during his career.  In truth he made many great movies that I love dearly, but I do honestly think this one ranks right up there next to Terminator or PredatorThis movie is a nonstop thrill ride with plenty of twists and explosions, not to mention a lot of sex appeal (there is a chick with three boobs for crying out loud). That cast is great and the director was on a personal role at the time.  Paul Verhoven made Robocop prior to this film and one of my all time favorites after, Basic InstinctThose two and this film are all I will vouch for, but they are all three awesome.  I like these movies from Verhoven but his career went askew after Basic Instinct and since he has made many bust and even disasters (Starship Troopers).   I read once that Sharon Stone refused to show more of her body during a sex scene in this movie, and that Verhoven “got her back” in his next film.  I’ll admit a little nudity from Stone could have only made her part better but it was quite a role she played.  I have always been a big fan of Stone and I think she is great in this movie.  She is sinister and sexy.  The way she can change directions in an instant to try and manipulate Quaid is quite impressive.

I really like Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside as the bad guys.  Ronny Cox plays a much better bad guy than good guy in my opinion and this is a role he was perfect for.  When he chews out Rictor in his office for the first time he gave the performance of his career.  He is awesome in several movies though, I have always liked him. Bryan Cranston plays Cohaagen in the remake and I think he will be great in the role. Cranston has shown quite capable of playing a powerful villain as we have seen in Breaking Bad. Michael Ironside is an actor that was never used enough in my opinion.  He has such a nasty and serious look to him. I think he is great in the role of Rictor.

There is an incredible story to how this movie was actually made if I am not mistaken.  It was inspired by a short story by Phillip K Dick called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” Phillip K Dick of course is the writer that inspired movies such as Blade Runner and Minority Report. The movie was initially set with a different director and Patrick Swayze was attached to star.  Schwarzenegger had really wanted to play Robocop but was too large to fit the suit. He still wanted to work with Verhoven though and kept an eye out for something they could do together.  When he heard of this movie he thought it would be perfect for the two of them.  Now, if I remember correctly Schwarzenegger pretty much muscled this movie out the hands that it belonged in.  I remember specifically thinking there must be a fascinating story to the clout and power Schwarzenegger wielded during this time in the movie business.  What it must be like to actually be muscled by that guy, who would one day go on to become Governor of California.  Unfortunately this isn’t a topic of interest I ever followed up on but I suggest anybody interested look into it yourself.  There is a weird story behind the rights to this movie and how they were acquired.

This is an exciting movie that can suck the viewer in and the thrills keep coming for almost two hours.  This movie is somewhat outdated now but that doesn’t take away from its value. I think it is an incredible and cool action/sci-fi film, one of the best of an era.  I wasn’t thrilled to see Colin Farrell cast in the lead for the remake but I will give it a shot.  I don’t think this movie should have been remade because this one was awesome, but I do understand why they did it.  This movie is worth your time and you should definitely check it out before seeing the knock off version that will be hitting theaters soon.

AMBER REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. As Ryan said above, we are on vacation. When we started watching this movie, I started drinking Skinnygirl Margaritas. (They are no joke, and apparently, I told Ryan as much “a million times”). In any case, I got immediately sucked in. I love the perception that the eighties had on what the future would hold. I think the writers of those movies just went wild with their imaginations instead of researching like most movies do today (i.e. I, Robot and Minority Report). We made it through half of this movie before I fell asleep and don’t remember the rest. We finally finished it yesterday. I was thoroughly impressed with this movie. I really liked it and I can’t wait for the new one. I hope that we have a chance to go to the theater and watch it.

 I kiiiiiinnnndddda like this design. I am struggling a little bit with it. It isn’t clean and is kind of cliché, but I guess it works for this movie. Arnold is all in focus on the front because he has such a recognizable face. The font is nice and extraterrestrial like which also works for the genre. Ehh, it’s alright I guess. I look forward to seeing the new one.

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Casino

Year: 1995
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Nicholas Pileggi

RYAN’S REVIEW

Naturally, I love mafia movies.  This isn’t the greatest mafia movie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great.  It’s a movie made by people made to make mafia movies and that’s what makes it great.  This movie might remind people too much of Goodfellas but I can’t really see how that is a bad thing.  Goodfellas was a great movie and I for one really enjoy any opportunity to see more of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci together, especially with Scorsese at the helm.  Goodfellas and Casino were both based on books written by Nicholas Pileggi, who also served as screenwriter for both films.  I have not read either of the two books but have researched Goodfellas to some degree and it’s not that far off  as far as accuracy goes but there is plenty of insight available into that one. Henry Hill is still very much in the public eye but as a celebrity instead of a criminal.  A celebrity for being a criminal.  Casino is loosely based on real events and people in Las Vegas but all the names were changed, including the name of the main hotel.

De Niro may have been the headliner in this film but it was Joe Pesci who stole the show.  I mean Pesci was scary as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas but he turned up the heat in Casino.  He was so violent and sadistic, and he is so good with the F word. I am a really big fan of Joe Pesci, he showed remarkable range throughout his career.  Pesci’s performance was great but that doesn’t belittle De Niro’s performance.  This was De Niro’s eighth collaboration with Scorsese, they knew how to get it done at this point. De Niro is an incredibly versatile actor and he can do anything but it is in this genre that he is really in his element.  At the end of the day he will always be the Godfather and he belongs in mafia movies. In the same notion Scorsese belongs behind the camera of mafia movies.  Scorsese is a fantastic director and I have always admired his films.  Scorsese has never been shy about violence and gore throughout his career and he isn’t with this film either. This is a graphic movie, it can be suddenly violent but that is part of the thrill that comes with a movie like this. It’s also heavy on the language, the F bomb is dropped somewhere far past the 400 times mark, mostly by Pesci.

This movie had a very rich cast beyond Pesci and De Niro though.  Sharon Stone is great in the female lead. You could really start to see her age in this movie but she still looked beautiful. Sharon Stone is a great actress and she has had a long successful career.  James Woods, Kevin Pollack, and Frank Vincent also play their parts respectively too.  I imagine it’s easy for great actors to shine when they are working with such an interesting story.  The history of Las Vegas is as dark as this movie would lead you to believe and there is a fascinating story there to study.

This is a long movie at just under three hours but still well worth your time.  The performances are great and the story is interesting.  Watching it now has actually inspired me to read the books by Nicholas Pileggi, so hopefully by the time we get to Goodfellas I can report the historical accuracy of the film. In the meantime enjoy this film, it’s a great movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoy this film. It is an intriguing tale and set in a time and place that most of us don’t really know that much about. Sure, some have visited Las Vegas, but have you ever ran a casino? Anyway, the voice-overs in this film are Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. The combination of the two of them are great. It puts a dual perspective over the film. The story is really intricate and interesting, I really recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it. I know they often play it on network tv, but please don’t watch it there. Movies like this should never be played on network television. You need the extras like cussing to really drive this one home.

NEXT MOVIE: Chicago (2002)

Basic Instinct

Year: 1992
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: Joe Eszterhas

RYAN’S REVIEW

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Mix in murder, mystery, and psychology and you have made something people will definitely like.  It’s hard to narrow down movies you love the most when you love a lot of movies but this one falls within my top ten of all time. It is high up in my favorites, and has been for many years.  This movie is mysterious, it’s well made and acted, and it’s sexually charged in a way that gets everyone’s attention.  Some might call this a guilty pleasure but I don’t see the point in feeling guilty about something so good, it’s a great movie.

I like a few Paul Verhoven films but I think this was by far his best. He has a deliberately graphic style that I appreciate, especially today when so many sell out to make more money with a PG-13 rating.  Sharon Stone became a sex symbol with this film, and she deserved that status.  She was incredibly sexy and seductive as Catherine Tramell, she was bold and daring with the character. I am a big fan of Michael Douglas, I think he has made many great movies, but I think this one was his best as well.  He is ultra cool as Nick Curran, he keeps up with Sharon Stone which is a feat all by itself, and he was seeing his old flame on the side too.  Jeanne Tripplehorn, as the complete opposite of Sharon Stone brings her own sexual charge into the film and does it well.

This movie will keep you guessing and keep you interested with danger (and nudity) around every corner. I have heard there are controversies surrounding this film.  One being the way it portrays homosexual relationships, and the other being how it glorifies smoking.  As to the first criticism I don’t think it holds water.  Yeah Sharon Stone’s relationship with her girlfriend may not have been a peachy one but no relationship in the film was.  I don’t think that the fact that Tramell and her girlfriend were crazy says anything about homosexual relationships, those two characters are just wild and crazy in general. As to the other controversy I would ask you to excuse a vulgar gesture simulating masturbation. Smoking was something people did and do.  It shouldn’t be a problem that Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone happen to look especially cool doing it.  Smoking may be unhealthy, we should not do it, but it is still cool all the same.  I dare you to watch the characters in this film smoking and tell me they don’t look good doing it.  As I have said before, looking cool is important to any film no matter what the genre is.  I am a non smoker now, and feel much better living a smoke free life but I really hate the way society has turned on tobacco all the same, it’s unjust.  That product helped build this country, and has a long history in North America.

If you haven’t seen this movie then I think you should see it, and I hope you enjoy it.  It earned its R rating and was lucky that it wasn’t banned all together so understand that going in.  Don’t be surprised by sudden and overwhelming sexuality.  This movie is one of my favorites of all time, it’s dangerous, exciting, and unpredictable. It might not be for everyone, but I hope that you enjoy it if you take the time to see it.  Let me know what you think about this one, I would really appreciate your thoughts on this film specifically.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time I watched this movie. It was with Ryan, and I remember feeling really uncomfortable. We were pretty young when we first started dating and now the memory makes me chuckle a little, considering the types of movies we have watched together since then. Having said all that, I really like this movie. I love it. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out on something really intriguing and thought provoking. It is such a thriller because you almost never know what is around the corner. Both Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas look so young and vivacious in this film. You get to see a lot of their bodies, so be prepared for that. There is a lot of sex in this movie, so if you are squeamish about that kind of thing, maybe this isn’t the movie for you, but it adds a lot to the movie, however and makes it that much better. It is suspenseful and thrilling and the ending is just perfect. A must see in my book.

NEXT MOVIE: Batman: The Movie (1966)

Antz

Year: 1998
Directed By: Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson
Written By: Tim Alcott and Chris Weitz

RYAN’S REVIEW

In passing I’ve noticed a pattern in movies that I have never looked into but garners some need for research.  Frequently during the mid to later 90s two movies were released at the same time that were virtually the same thing.  Off the top of my head I remember these examples: Volcano (1997) and Dante’s Peak (1997), The Sixth Sense (1999) and Stir of Echoes (1999), Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994), and of course this movie, Antz and A Bug’s Life both made in 1998. Those 10 movies are merely the ones I can remember specifically off the top of my head, I’m sure I could think of many more if I gave it more thought. I don’t think this is coincidental, but I’m sure there is a fascinating story that practically nobody will ever know about behind it all.  It probably has to do with the big time movie studios and the rivalries that most of us will never know about.  In this case I think Dreamworks was trying to prove a point to Disney, but I know nothing factual about it, just my own personal assumption. I don’t know why I have never researched this trend myself but it is weird.  Typically I only saw one of these movies and didn’t care about the other.  Just about every one of these movies had large and reputable cast.  This one is no different sporting the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Gene Hackman, Christopher Walken, Donald Glover, and Jennifer Lopez.

Far too often this movie feels like a typical Woody Allen movie but the strength of the story and cast make it worth wild.  Most of the animated movies in our collection have been taken off our movie rack and moved to our daughter’s collection.  This movie remains because it doesn’t seem even remotely like a kids movie to me.  There isn’t anything childish or silly about it, yeah it’s about ants but they are ants with really adult problems.  Z is questioning his purpose in life, the queen is nervous about her arranged wedding, the General is planning a hostile takeover, an entire ant army platoon is specifically sent to their death in battle. These don’t seem like problems young children would understand or care about, and in some cases I don’t know that they are even appropriate story lines for children.  I imagine A Bug’s Life was more kid friendly.  Early on, this was one of the movies that got me interested in animated films, and showed me that they were moving away from the stereotype of being only for kids. These days Amber and I find ourselves loving the movies we watch for Cadence as much as we love the ones we watch for ourselves.  Up, How to Train Your Dragon, The Incredibles just to name a few are fantastic movies that I enjoy as much as I enjoy any of my favorite movies.

Antz is a cool movie and if you have a chance to see it you should check it out.  It’s a funny and interesting film that is easily forgettable because it came out at the same time as A Bug’s Life.  There have also been so many successful animated films released  in the last 12 years that this movie is overshadowed.  Never the less, take it from me, this movie is worth your time and you will probably like it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

There are two types of people in this world, optimistic and pessimistic. The main character in this film, Z is the worst case scenario pessimistic person. We all know them. This movie is really made for adults and contains many real life morals and lessons for humans, set into the life of ants. I thoroughly enjoy the real life questions this movie poses and answers. From the worker, to the fighter, to the queen and the free ant, they all relate to our own human life questions. This movie is worth watching.

NEXT MOVIE: Any Given Sunday (1999)

Alpha Dog

Year: 2006
Directed By: Nick Cassavetes
Written By: Nick Cassavetes

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is based on the real life murder of Nicholas Markowitz in 2000 on the orders of drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood.  This was a real life story worthy of a movie but I am always skeptical about a movie “based on a true story.” There is no such thing as a movie that portrays actual events accurately however people always believe that they do.  Some movies that claimed to be based on actual events never happened at all, i.e. Fargo, The Strangers. Occasionally a movie does a better job, this is one of those.  I’m not saying this is an accurate representation of what really happened to Nicholas Markowitz, but from the little bit of research I have done I can see that Nick Cassavetes took the project seriously.  Films based on real life can try their best to be accurate but they always inevitably rewrite the story for their own purposes. For example, the victim having a three-way in the pool before his execution and the last-minute effort to call off the hit by Johnny Truelove.  Maybe these things actually happened, but it seems like it was added into the story on purpose, for effect.

This is not the greatest movie ever, but I enjoyed it.  There are several young promising actors who give very good performances in this film as well.  Anton Yelchin is on his way to a very successful career and he does hold up well as the centerpiece to this film.  I for one am in full favor of Justin Timberlake’s venture into films.  He is a very talented entertainer and I find his versatility impressive. One of the reasons I like this film is because of his performance.  This was one of his first films and I think he nailed it, it made me respect him more as an entertainer.  I am not a big fan of Ben Foster but he was awesome in this movie, real badass. Emile Hirsch probably deserves mention here but I am not a fan and I didn’t think his performance in this film was anything special. There are also the seasoned veterans who add their talent to the cast.  Bruce Willis can only make any movie better and Sharon Stone has a ferocity that doesn’t age.

This movie was made shortly after the events it portrays and that does tend to bother me under most circumstances.  I think that it’s ridiculous to make a movie before the entire story is told.  This movie for example, maybe there is a more interesting story in the life of Jesse James Hollywood during his life on the run in Brazil.  It’s not prudent to make this film so soon, nor was it to make a movie about Mark Zuckerberg when the guy is still in his 20s.  Is Hollywood so desperate for material that they will make a movie about part of a guy’s life? I like this movie, but I do think it screams of the lack of original ideas coming out of the movie industry these days. I wouldn’t set this film at the top of any “movies to watch” list but if you get the opportunity sit down and check it out, it’s worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is made so beautifully. It completely captures the characters it sets out to. The movie is set up to make you feel sorry for certain characters in the film. You know what they are doing, but there are some in the film (Justin Timberlake) that were portrayed in a light that somehow made him “better” than the others. He hung out with kid and got to know him a little bit. Because this movie is based around a true story it sucks you in a little bit more. People love stories that are based on real life, take reality television for example. People love it. You can relate to real life. I remember the first time I watched it and the desire at the end to see it end differently. It has a surprise ending that may not be expected if you didn’t know the whole story going into.I didn’t know the story. I really like the acting, the story and the portrayal. A definite must see movie.

NEXT MOVIE: American Beauty (1999)