5 Quick Reviews of 5 Movies on DVD

My DVD list is backing up. I don’t know if these films are coming out this month or last month or the month before. But I saw that I had five paragraphs on five movies so I’m going to post it.

"Rook has been writing a nah-vel please forgive him for being tah-dee."

“Rook has been writing a nahr-vel. Please forgive him for being tahr-dee.”

I’ve been writing a lot. (about a thousand words a day) It’s not good yet, but it’s a first draft and I like the story, the setting and the characters. Anyway that’s my excuse for not getting my reviews up sooner.

Here are five movie reviews.

Jack The Giant Slayer (New Line)

Jack the Giant Slayer Poster

Directed by Bryan Singer

Written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney & David Dobkin

Starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor TomlinsonEwan McGregorStanley TucciIan McShane & Bill Nighy

Jack the Giant Slayer is a surprisingly fun movie. It has a good cast with Ewan McGregor (Young Obi wan Kenobi), Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Stanley Tucci doing much of the heavy lifting but led ably by Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) and Eleanor Tomlinson.

Jack & the Princess

It has a good story, adapted from the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale. And it is surprisingly well-directed, by Bryan Singer (X-men, X2 and the upcoming Days of Future Past). Action, Romance, Comedy, a bit with a cat. Not a deep thinking movie but Jack is an over-all well made romantic fantasy adventure film. Not amazing, but very entertaining nonetheless.

Rent it.

The Grandmaster (Block 2 Pictures)

The Grandmaster

Written & Directed by Wong Kar-Wai

Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen, Zhao Benshan, Song Hye-kyo & Wang Qingxiang

Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmaster is a beautiful movie about China in the mid 20th century. It is a film about famous Kung Fu schools and teachers from that time and the grandmasters that carried the traditions and the styles through the war, the Japanese invasion and the transfer of Hong Kong to Britain.

IP Man

It is an epic film. It is and it isn’t a martial arts film and a history lesson. It is and it isn’t an epic romance and a revenge story. Every battle is a dance. Every frame is a painting. It is gorgeous. Wong Kar-Wai can do no wrong.

Razor

I think maybe it peaks a little too soon because the first two Grandmaster battles are so good (One a challenge to break a piece of bread and the other a challenge not to break ANYTHING)

Gong Er

But it is a wonderful journey and a touching and mildly tragic film. And it is… Fantastic.

Rent it (I’m going to Buy it)

Spring Breakers (A24 Films)

Spring Breakers

Written & Directed by Harmony Korine

Starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine (the director’s wife) & Gucci Mane

Bad movie. Not even titillating. Not even sexy. I knew it would be bad but it wasn’t even good porn. How do they have Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson in bikinis and all they do is show crotch shots and think it’s sexy. It was creepy.

Franco

James Franco’s accent was awful. It sounded like an Ivy Leaguer pretending to be from the hood. Oh yeah that’s what it was. And there was no continuity. No linear narrative. Every scene was a montage of intercut earlier scenes so out of whack it was hard to tell what happened when. And the acting… geez.

Spring Breakers Cast

I knew it would be bad but the script was even worse.  It was garbage. No morals. No morality. Love of money. Love of guns. Love of drugs. And no one learns a thing.

Spring Breakers Hotties

And because these actresses look like they need a juice box and a lift home, I don’t see why anyone would watch this shit.

Skip it (even if you think these girls are hot skip it… It’s that bad)

Hitchcock (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Hitchcock Poster

Directed by Sacha Gervasi

Written by John J. McLaughlin based on Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel & James D’Arcy

Much like “My Week with Marilyn”, Hitchcock is not a biopic but a significant moment in the subjects life. It has an amazing cast. Anthony Hopkins is superb as is his make-up. Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette & Jessica Biel are perfect as the much maligned women who support the director’s mission and his vision.

hitchcock

It’s too bad the movie’s director does not compare to the great man in any way. He at times tries to use the artist’s style, with quick tight cuts in an almost hackneyed homage. These moments are infuriating and corny.

Scarlett Fake Driving

Psycho, the making of which this film is about, is when Alfred Hitchcock, Hitch to his friends, jumped the shark as it were. It is an adventure in successful marketing. Not good filmmaking. I say that knowing that Psycho is better than 99% of all the movies ever made. But to me it is a made for TV suspense tale with one sensational scene (you know the one) and a great twist ending (Mother!!!) but nothing more. I say that, believing in my heart that Alfred Hitchcock is one of the greatest visual storytellers that ever lived. I did not like this film; Hitchcock, deserved better.

Hitchcock-movie-still

I felt the Ed Wood movie did a better job of feeling like an Ed Wood movie than this did feeling like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. This was Hitchcock at the end. The TV presenter. The hack. This movie was about the beginning of that time in his career and it was made in the style of the subject at that time. Again… he deserves better.

Rent it (If you have to but you have been warned… good evening)

Identity Thief (Universal)

Identity Thief

Directed by Seth Gordon

Written by Craig Mazin and Jerry Eeten

Starring Jason Bateman & Melissa McCarthy

Listen. Just having the idea of putting two likeable (extremely likeable) actors together in a car for a road trip does not a film make.

Identity Thief

The only thing good about this mess are the times when they just turn the camera on Melissa McCarthy and she does her silly slapstick big girl thing while Jason Bateman plays the straight man. These moments are great.

melissa-mccarthy

But there was no script, there was no story, there were no characters and the best lines were in the trailer. I didn’t care about these people nor did I think they were in any kind of jeopardy. This was a useless movie. You could have put the two leads on an empty stage and had them do Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First and it would have been more entertaining.

Identity-Thief-2

And now Pitch Meeting Theater:

“Sir, I have an idea for a movie.”

“What is it man? This money is burning a hole in my pocket.”

“Jason Bateman & Melissa McCarthy.”

“… hmm “

“… mm hm”

“GENIUS!!!!”

We need to stop Hollywood from getting away with this lazy ass crap. Do not give these people your money.

Skip it (Skip it Skip it Skip it Skip it)

So to recap: 

The Grandmaster was awesome & fantastic and genuinely very good

Jack the Giant Slayer was short of fantastic but still very good

Hitchcock was a fantastic director but this movie is not very good

Identity Thief has a fantastic cast but no script so it’s really not very good

and Spring Breakers… just sucks.

hitchcock-good-evening

“Good evening.”

Later gators

– Mel

Five Favorite Foreign Filmmakers from 5 Regions 2/5 (Europe)

Part two of my Five Favorite Foreign Filmmakers from Five Regions mega-post in five parts (Part One: Asia) moves us to Europe.

Amelie Spoon

“Spoon?”

Not yet sweetie.

Specifically, I am concentrating on non-English speaking Europe. (Or just not the U.K.) but not all of these films are foreign language films. Yet every one of these directors works in English as well as their native language. One in Spanish, two in French, One Swiss and one Italian.

To the list…
First to Italy by way the American Southwest:

Sergio Leone (Italy)

Sergio Leone

In Italian cinema there is Fellini and Bertolucci and Antonioni but for my money the best Italian director is Sergio Leone.

Sergio Leone could build tension with editing and close-ups and music cues that would turn his B movie westerns into works of art. He absorbed and repurposed the talents of Akira Kurosawa & John Ford and added 60’s angst and 50’s cool. And much like Kurosawa he used a visual storytelling so detailed that you could watch without sound.

But if you did watch without sound you’d miss Ennio Morricone’s sensational soundtracks.

Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone redefined the western genre and made the strong silent type a beautiful thing behold.

Here are five fantastic movies. Four amazing westerns and his last film; an epic, American Immigrant, coming-of-age, mobster classic, starring Robert Deniro.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

A fist full of dollars

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Few Dollars More

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

The good the bad and the ugly

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Once upon a time in the west

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Once upon a time in america

Once Upon a Time in America is a mobster film to rival The Godfather & Miller’s Crossing. One of my favorites.

And now to France

Leeloo multipass

“Multipass?”

Thank you, Leeloo. I think I’ll need that.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet (France)

Jean Pierre Jeunet

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of my favorite directors. His films are a joy to watch. They are a deeply emotional whimsy. They are an absurdly and comically touching steam punk fantasy.

Sure, he directed the underrated and pretty bad Alien Resurrection but I forgive him because English is not his first language, so the performances and line readings of Joss Whedon’s script were horrible and it was never his genre to begin with. (I know… Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Joss Whedon got together and made a bad film. It boggles the mind)

And I forgive him because the four films I list below are four of my favorite films of all-time.

His films, especially his early ones with his partner Marc Caro, are a delicious combination of Charlie Chaplin and Terry Gilliam and Billy Wilder. He is genius and originality, covered in chocolate in a silly wrapper and a bow that you want to keep forever. I love his movies.

My Fave Four:

Delicatessen (1991)

Delicatessen

The City of Lost Children (1995)

City of Lost Children

Amelie (2001)

Amelie

A Very Long Engagement (2004)

a very long engagement

A Very Long Engagement is an Epic Romance with a stellar cast including Jodie Foster, who is, amazingly, just as good an actor in French as in English.

Luc Besson (France)

Luc Besson

Luc Besson is better known as the writer of some of the most kick-ass action thrillers of recent years like Taken and The Transporter but this is a directors series and he has also directed more than a few of my favorite films. His films are thrilling, exciting, well-written and feature three-dimensional characters including women who aren’t just waiting around to be saved. They kick ass.

Here are three French movies (but only one in French). All action packed and all extremely entertaining.

La Femme Nikita (1990)

La femme nikita

Leon: The Professional (1994)

The Professional

The Fifth Element (1997)

Fifth Element

Fifth Element is one of my all-time favorite films. It’s Bruce Willis at his best and Milla Jovovich at her hottest. And Gary Oldman, who is also the bad guy in Leon: The Professional, in yet another deliciously evil turn.

Next our only dual-citizen on the list…

Jean-Luc Godard (Switzerland, France)

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard is the pioneer of the French New Wave. You can see his influence in the works of Woody Allen, Kar-Wai Wong, Francois Truffaut, Gore Verbinski, Luc Besson, Richard Lester and on television, in music and music videos. He is the Miles Davis of filmmaking. If Miles gave birth to the cool; to the concept of cool. Jean-Luc is the Obstetrician who smacked it on the ass and cut the cord.

Forgive me if it sounds like I worship the man… because I do.

Two of the coolest moments caught on film and extended to full feature-length. And I Include his Rolling Stones Documentary that puts the fuck in phenomenal.

Breathless (1960)

Breathless

Band of Outsiders (1964)

Band of Outsiders

* Sympathy for the Devil (1968)

Sympathy for the devil

Sympathy for the Devil is a documentary/political commentary surrounding the recording of the Rolling Stones most iconic and infamous song.

Last stop. Spain… everybody off.

Pedro Almodovar (Spain)

Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar’s color palette has to be my favorite thing about his movies. They are funny at times and he always gets great performances and his movies are about complicated relationships with family and lovers and friends but it’s the colors that I love most. Because as he’s wrenching your heart with laughter and love and complex emotions and beautiful costumes on beautiful people, it’s his wonderful use of color that drives the points home. For me at least. A feast for the eyes.

In my opinion, Pedro’s perfect film is

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Women on the Verge

However, almost everything he’s done is amazing. He’s weird but he’s good.

Pedro Amodovar Tongue

“Bite your tongue.”

You are weird, Pedro. Everyone says so.

And that’s my Top Five Favorite European Directors (non-English category) I’m sure there are so many more I missed that might be on your list. Perhaps Bergman or Truffaut, Renoir, MalleDelpy? Hell, France could have had its own category and so could have Italy, actually.

And I love Lars von Trier (Denmark)

 

and Tom Tykwer (Germany),

the directors of Melancholia and Run Lola Run respectively and I expect great things from them every time out. But there was only room for five.

Hey! You know what does get its own category? The U.K. does (sorry France) Next up the United Kingdom.

“Time… to… eat.”

Amelie! Where’s that spoon?

Adios,

Adieu

& Ciao

…for now.

– Mel

 

Rainy Day Old Photo Place Holder

I had planned to go out and take some photos today but it’s pouring. I found some old stuff on my dying mac. I’m putting them online in lieu of new pictures. Some of these I have already posted but I cropped or WP lost them or deleted them, so I’m putting them up again.

I need to get out and take pictures more often. There was a time when I would go everywhere with a camera. My love of photography only slowed by the cost of film.

The plan was to post new pics once a week. But this week it’s old stuff because… it’s raining.

Girls Crossing Street

Had to take this pic even though that truck almost hit me.

 

Church

Churches are beautiful… on the outside.

 

Walking

One of my favorites from L.A. (Man Walking w/ a Cane)

 

Red

I don’t know why I like this one… but I do.

 

E. Village

I used to live on this block. (Actually my girlfriend lived here. I lived on her floor)

 

Break Time

This is an old one. South Street Seaport in the 80’s.

 

Painting

I forget where this was but I love the color.

 

b & w skyline

The skyline looks nothing like this anymore.

 

Skyscraper Construction

Skyscrapers are going up everyday.

Next Week

New Stuff

Weather Permitting.

– Mel

Stephen Fry – Language (Kinetic Typography)

This made me happy. And by that I mean, I happied when I viewed this. I happied all over my computer screen.


Stephen Fry has one of those voices… that makes me happy.

William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Douglas Adams – kind of voices.

I may have to watch this every day.

– Mel