Saturday, 14 March 2009

Ghostbusters

"Who ya gonna call?"



Surely you have all seen this? The story is that there are some ghosts, and it is the job of Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Akroyd and The Other One to bust them.

The film proved to be a surprise smash of epic proportions. The makers found it very difficult to raise the money to make the movie, Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis have always said that "the film would not get commissioned today, so we were very lucky at the time".

Despite this, the film was one of the most successful of the 1980s, and was voted the 28th best family film ever.

VERDICT - WE CAME, WE SAW, WE KICKED IT'S ASS!


Kick it, Ray Parker Jr!

Mallrats

"My cousin Walter once had to go to the hospital because he had a cat stuck in his ass"

This line opens a film that is the definition of 'there is no story, just situations put there to allow us more chances for jokes'. This film is 'Mallrats'.



In 'Mallrats', the two lead characters, Quint and Brodie (played by Jeremy London and Jason Lee), both lose their girlfriends on the same day. They go to the mall only to find that Quint's girlfriend is about to star on a dating show being filmed in the mall, and Brodie's girlfriend is being seduced by a horrible guy who owns a store (Ben Affleck) and they decide to help each other, and enlist Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and the film's writer/producer/director Kevin Smith) to get their women back.

The film did not perform well at the cinema, and I can understand why. Many of the jokes are tasteless, there is a lot of 'toilet humour', and lots of references to films and pop culture that some people would not have understood.

It was only when the film was released on VHS, and of course later, on DVD, that it gained a cult following that has allowed it to be counted amongst Smith's greatest, like 'Clerks', and 'Chasing Amy'.

I will admit, it's not brilliant, but it's fine. There are plenty of funny moments, but don't expect to be dazzled.


VERDICT - SNOOTCHIE BOOTCHIES!

Babe



'Babe'
tells the story of a pig who goes on to be the country's most successful sheep'dog', thus avoiding his owner's original plans to eat him.

Whatever your age, and whatever taste you have in movies, there is at least some enjoyment to be taken from this film. Also, if by any chance you have a child, and they haven't seen this, show it to them NOW! There are lessons to be learnt, while you secretly enjoy the singing mice. In fact, have some singing mice to enjoy now!



What I like about this film is that, as important as the story is, it's a nice 'little' story. Nothing hugely exciting happens, just view of life on a farm. Everything is very cute. The farmhouse looks like a cottage in Disneyland; the farmer's wife considers being 'vice deputy chairwoman of the official sheepdog trial voting committee her most important duty in life; everything in the house is manual, and when given a fax machine for Christmas, both the farmer and his wife look at it as if they had been given a spacecraft.

Please watch it, it is just lovely!


VERDICT - THAT'LL DO PIG

Withnail and I



Set in the 60s, Paul McGann's character (known only as 'I') lives with Withnail (Richard E Grant) in a rundown, disgusting hovel of a flat. Both unemployed, unemployable actors, they realise that the 'things' in their sink are more alive than themselves, and so must have a holiday. Withnail's old uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) has a cottage in the country, and so they steal a key and head there. Only when they arrive does it become very obvious that they are not meant for a country life.

Rumoured to be a horrible shoot, where most of the crew became ill, the film could have fallen on its arse, but because of the strength of the performances, their ability to improvise, and the friendships built from none of them being 'divas', the film succeeded where so many similar films failed.

It is well worth a watch, but don't expect any lucid plot points.


VERDICT - I DEMAND TO HAVE SOME BOOZE!

Evil Dead 2

The first thing I should point out is that this film is not a sequel to Evil Dead, it is actually a remake, made 6 years after the original, by the same people. The first film was made with barely any budget, by a group of friends who didn't really know what they were doing, but it showed a lot of promise.

Enough promise, in fact, that they were given a budget of over 100 times the amount of the original, and told to make it for a mainstream market. What resulted was a disgusting, gory, hilarious, frightening, enjoyable film, Evil Dead 2.



Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) arrive at an abandoned cabin for a romantic weekend away. Unfortunatly his girlfriend is promptly attacked by an unknown evil. She comes back to life as an undead creature, and attempts to kill him. She is finally defeated, but Ash is sucked through a time portal, landing in the middle ages, which is where Evil Dead 3 takes over from.

Although they had a much larger budget than the first film, it was still smaller than most films, and so there are little, charming moments where mistakes are made, that you forgive the film, very much like being able to see the strings in Thunderbirds.

It is a great thing to see. A director getting a chance to improve on his already good film, and make it great. I am sure if they were offered it now, they would find a way to mess it up, but Raimi, who was still very new to the business only improved it.


VERDICT - GROOOOVY!

Wayne's World

Party time, excellent!

It's not big, it's not clever, but it's funny. It's 'Wayne's World'.



Based on a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch from the early 90s, this film takes a satirical look at the rocker 'duuuude' culture of the time.

It's nice to look back on it really. In today's society the equivalent of these people are chavs. With this knowledge, isn't it lovely to reminisce about the rockers who got drunk in their own basements, and occasionally hung out in donut shops, compared to violent little hoodies with their flick knives listening to people shouting about their "bitches and chizzang in da hood and ting...fo shizzle"

Wayne and Garth are two friends who present a local TV show in their basement. In their spare time, they go to rock gigs, where Wayne meets Cassandra, the girl of his dreams. She is offered a record deal by Wayne's show's new producer, who wants to steal Cassandra. The 'dudes' win in the end, and all is well!

Again, this is another one of those films where the story isn't hugely important.

The comedy is still fresh 18 years after the film's release, and I recommend it to anyone looking like a simple, entertaining movie.


VERDICT - PARTY TIME, EXCELLENT!

Lion King

Just watch this first, please.



Anyone else gone all tingly?

That's what the film does to you. The music, the story, the beautiful animation. It's perfect. It feels more 'Disney' than any other film.

In 1994, when 'Lion King' was released, Disney films reached a new high, that took over a decade to be beaten.



I shan't bother too much with the plot, as you must all know it. Simba the lion cub thinks he has caused his father's death, although it was actually his evil uncle Scar. Simba runs away from home, meets Timon and Pumbaa, he returns home to find it in ruins because Scar has forced the lions to hunt for the hyenas. Simba proves his father's death was Scar's fault, death ensues and all is well again.

People don't love the film for the story though, we love it because of the music, incredible songs like 'Circle Of Life', 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King', and who can forget singing along to 'Hakuna Matata' when they were younger?

Timon and Pumbaa. I don't care if it's a children's film, they are hilarious. The comic timing they have is impeccible. There are plenty of jokes 'just for the mums and dads', and their Hula in drag has me in fits every time I see it.

There are so many reasons this film is the best selling movie of all time, with over 60 million copies sold on VHS and DVD to date.


VERDICT - IN THE JUNGLE, THE MIGHTY JUNGLE, THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT....AH-WEEEEEEEE!

The Birdcage

In 1973, a French play opened, by Jean Poiret, about a group of drag queens saving the marriage of a young couple from the girl's uptight conservative parents. It was called 'Le Cage aux Folles', and in 1996, director Mike Nichols made a English speaking version called 'The Birdcage'.



Starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Gene Hackman, the story has been slightly changed. Williams and Lane star as a gay couple who own a very popular drag club in California, who have brought up Williams' character's (Armand) son from a failed straight relationship as their own. The son, Val, has gone to college and met a girl, Barbara, and got engaged.

Barbara's father is a far-right republican senator, and founder of the 'Coalition of Moral Order', who hates just about everyone except white, straight, male conservatives, and so cannot know about Val's 'parents'. Unfortunately, the two young lovers have already arranged for their parents to meet, and so so Armand and Albert must change their house, their style, their life, their names, and in Albert's case, his gender, to keep Barbara's family happy.

The film is, quite refreshingly in an age of emotional dramas, a true farce. There are people coming in through doors, looking shocked and leaving, people falling down, wigs slipping, running around the house, while the 'straight guys' (in every sense of the word) sit looking slightly confused but completely unaware of the insanity developing just a few feet from them.

The film received very mixed reviews. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) praised the film for "going beyond the stereotypes to see the character's depth and humanity. The film celebrates differences and points out the outrageousness of hiding those differences.", while other gay groups found it too simplified.

I think what people seem to forget is that in the modern world, homosexuality should be so accepted, that jokes can be made about it without them being offensive. The film shows straight people as being uptight, and conservative, but can also laugh at gay men for sometimes being slightly over-dramatic. It is not neccessarily a stereotype. I am friends with several straight men, and can confirm that plenty of them act fairly 'theatrically'!

The film says that every gender, sexuality, and political leaning are ripe for parody, and doesn't feel the need to protect one minority as though they can't protect themselves.


VERDICT - WORTH WATCHING JUST FOR HANK AZARIA FALLING DOWN

And so, it begins.....

Enjoy!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Clerks

In 1994, a student, working in a convenience store, called Kevin Smith, made a movie. It cost $27,000 to make, which he raised by selling his comic book collection, borrowing $3000 from his parents, and maxing out his credit cards.

This film was Clerks, which went on to make $3 million in the cinema, and more than double that in VHS and DVD sales.



I am a real fan of this film, and these kind of films, where not much happens, and so everything depends on the strength of the story, and the jokes. Of course with this film it was not a choice to have very little happen, money just would not allow. But that seemes to help. Where it would have been so easy to fall down, the film stood strong.

Kevin Smith worked so hard on his script. The average script length is between 70 and 90 pages. The 'Clerks' first draft was over 170 pages.

The film relies very heavily on its dialogue, which luckily, is VERY sharp.

I know there are many people out there who watch a film or tv show and think "Wow, it's like this was made for me! It has references to all my favourite stuff, jokes that really match my sense of humour, and characters I can relate to", but I really feel this way about this film. The retro references are all spot on, the comedy is so biting, and the satire could be cut with a big political spoon.

In short, this film is the antidote to all these huge blockbusters with lots of explosions but not much else. As long as you don't mind bad language (F-word appears 91 times) then please watch this film. It means a lot to me.


VERDICT - PROOF YOU DON'T NEED A BIG BUDGET TO MAKE A GREAT FILM

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Flash Gordon

FLASH! AH-AAAAHHH!



This takes me back.

I saw this film when I was around 8 or 9 years old, and every time I see it, I feel about that age again.

I once had to explain it to somebody who hadn't heard of it, which was no small request. I think the answer I gave was somewhere along the lines of "the best peice of rubbish you will ever see". It's like if someone made "Carry On Star Wars"!

The story (not that there is much point to it) is that in the depths of space, Ming The Merciless decides to destroy Earth, just because he is bored. A fairly insane scientist called Hans Zarkov is the only one who realises this, and flies in his rocket, accompanied by an American football player, Flash Gordon, and Dale Arden, Flash's travel agent(?) to the planet Mongo, eventually leading a rebellion against Ming, thus saving the Earth.

Yeah, you're right, it's rubbish. But if you complain about it, you are missing the point entirely.


Here are some reasons that the film is 'craply fantastic':

*It has Brian 'If its worth saying, its worth shouting' Blessed in it.

*It has Timothy Dalton in it, who I think was the best Bond.

*Practically every 'alien' is played by a dancing midget.

*It has the line "Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the Earth" in it.

*Queen do ALL the music in the film.


Now tell me that doesn't sound like a great bit of silly entertainment.


VERDICT - FLASH, AH-AAAHHH, HE'S A MIRACLE!

A finalised list of the '24 hour review marathon' movies

As you all know, starting on saturday at Midday, for 24 hours, I am going to reviewing movies solidly.

Thank-you all for your suggestions, I have taken several of them onboard, as well as ones that have been suggested to me personally.

Below, are the list of films, the times of which add up to 24 hours and 1 minute!


-Birdcage

-Lion King

-Wayne's World

-Evil Dead 2

-Withnail and I

-Babe

-Mallrats

-Ghostbusters

-O Brother Where Art Thou?

-Mystery Men

-Maybe Baby

-Iron Man

-Breakfast Club

-Die Hard


I hope you all agree I have chosen a varied selection of films, and you all enjoy the marathon!

Stephen King's IT

Other than 'The Shining', film adaptations of Stephen King novels often aren't very successful. It's fairly ironic that the second most successful film adaptation isn't a film at all, but instead is two television programmes pushed together, and is simply intitled 'It'.



In 'It', children in the small Maine town of Derry are being killed in mysterious, bloody, gory ways. Parents are scared to let their children outside, and are right to be scared. There is a 200 year old killer clown on the loose!

It is, of course, not a clown, but what turns out to be an evil monster who can take on the form of anything it wants. 'It' is usually seen a clown, as kids are attracted to it, before changing into whatever the child is most scared of, making the child too scared to move, so 'It' can devour their souls.

This happens every 30 years when the creature needs to feed, and when a group of friends hear that the same thing is happening from when they were children, they return to the town in the hope of destroying 'It' for good.

What is very hard to describe is the way the film is presented. Anyone who has read the book knows it is absolutely terrifying. I read it as a teenager and didn't sleep properly for weeks. There were times I actually had to put the book down because I was too scared. The film does NOT deliver this at all. Some bits of it are a little creepy, or gory, but nothing in the film scares you, but that's OK, because it is not meant to.

The makers of the film decided to change it from a horror to a drama, and you know what?

It works.

So what we have here is a drama about a killer clown, that is witty, romantic, fun to watch, and just sometimes a little bit creepy.

It's not amazing, but it is a personal favourite, just for the fact that small unimportant bits of the story have been left in by the film makers, just because they loved King as much as I do.


VERDICT - NOT ONE FOR PEOPLE WITH COULROPHOBIA!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

The Goonies

After receiving a complaint that I only review the movies that are getting the most publicity, despite disagreeing, decided to change this view.

Today I am reviewing the 1985 cult classic, 'The Goonies'.



I remember watching this film as a child, and loving it. It tells the story of a group of children who find a treasure map, and go in search of the pirate booty, in the hope of using it to save their town, which is being bought to turn into a golf course.

What I didn't realise it that the version I had as a child, recorded onto VHS from the television, was a highly edited one, and that the original REALLY isn't for children!

In the original, the word 'shit' is used 19 times, scenes of more graphic violence were included, including extra details of the bullet wounds in a dead body the kids find in a freezer.

This film really is the definition of a cult film. Originally made for teenagers, it has a large adult following, people who love it now for looking back on the 1980s. People go and see special midnight screenings of it, special editions of it have been released, retro t-shirts are available online. It has a fanbase, and not many films nowadays can say they have that.

I think if this film was released now, it would do terribly, but in 1985, with the power of Stephen Spielberg behind it, who even gave his own money to help fund the production, it was (without wanting to sound clich├ęd) a truly surprise smash, and that shows, 23 years later, when people like me look back fondly on seeing it for the first time, and digging out the old VHS to watch as well as the 'Limited Edition Special 20th Anniversary DVD', just because the VHS holds more pleasant memories than the DVD ever could.


VERDICT - IF YOU HAVEN'T SEE IT, PLEASE DO. IT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE AN ADVENTUROUS KID AGAIN.

Monday, 9 March 2009

INTERACTIVITY!

As you all know, this weekend I am taking part in a special 24 hour blogging session. I will be reviewing films constantly over the space of 24 hours, to see if I have it in me to do so!

I need your help. An average film runs somewhere between 1 and a half, and 2 and a half hours, and so I need at least 10, more likely around 15 films to review, and I am turning to you, the reader, to supply me with a list.

Please post a comment telling me what film you want reviewed, why, and who you are, so I can dedicate it to you.

Thanks guys and gals!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Watchmen

Me and the missus have just got in from the cinema (after stopping on the way home for a healthy take-away burger), and I have to say, we both thoroughly enjoyed 'Watchmen'.



We did, however, differ on our introduction to it. I read the graphic novel almost a decade ago, and have lived in hope of a film there has been rumours of since the story's conception in 1986. My other half was introduced to it within the last few months as I refused to shut up about the film's upcoming release.

So, I have decided to give you two people's reviews of the film, as some of you may find a critique from a newcomer to the story more helpful than mine. I will review, obviously as Elementary Penguin, while my other half takes the guise of Semolina Pilchard.


ELEMENTARY PENGUIN


Alan Moore is a dark man.

In 1986, he dreamt up an alternative reality to our world, in which Richard Nixon had stayed in power, losing control of the Cold War, leaving the Earth on the edge of total distruction. But we can turn to our superheroes, can't we?

No.

The heroes have given up, when the general public violently protested against them, even killing some in the process. Some have become businessmen, some work for the government, and some seem to do nothing at all. Only Rorschach continues to patrol the streets, dealing out his special, ultra-violent 'justice'.

When The Comedian, an incredibly unpopular ex-superhero, is found murdered, Rorschach starts investigating whether an unknown attacker is bumping off 'the masked', dragging (sometimes unwillingly) his past team-members back into the dangerous career of crime-fighting.

The graphic novel has, on so many occasionals, been referred to as 'unfilmable', and until recently, I would have agreed. The story jumps 30 years into the past, then into the future, back to the present, without so much as a 'wobbly screen' flashback warning.

How wrong I was. The film acheives this perfectly. It remains true to the book, while feeling modern, despite being set 23 years in the past. The action is spot-on, the violence is graphic without being gratuitous, and the silk spectre has a very nice bottom.

It's better than any of us fans were ever expecting.



SEMOLINA PILCHARD

I have never read the 'Watchmen' graphic novel and to be quite frank up until a few months ago I had no interest in seeing this film, but after persistent requests to go and see it I was coaxed into doing so. I have watched most of these films which could be classified as 'superhero movies' (although I turned down seeing the Incredible Hulk with Eric Bana) and this is quite different.

'Watchmen' has the atmosphere of '300' and 'Sin City' (by the same director) but doesn't smack of the same stereotypical superhero movie where the world is saved by a caped crusader and all is well in the end. This film is dark. The characters in this film are unconventional superheroes, most of which have no special powers except from brute strength and sociopathic tendencies.

It's a good film in my opinion, but definitely not one I would show to young children. It is dark, adult and the polar opposite of films such as 'Spider-man' and 'Iron Man'.

'Watchmen' in my personal opinion is one of the best superhero movies to date combining pragmatic application of justice with some awesome action sequences and a hell of a lot of nudity!



VERDICT - WHETHER YOU ARE A FAN OR NOT, YOU WILL LOVE IT, AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT TOO SQUEAMISH.