Thursday, November 26, 2015

1004. Dead Ringers (1988)

Running Time: 116 minutes
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: David Cronenberg, Norman Snider, from the novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland
Main Cast: Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas
Click here to view the trailer


If you're reading this, it means that it's Thanksgiving morning in the U.S. - so happy Thanksgiving to you Americans. If you're elsewhere in the world - happy Thursday! In reality, it's Sunday evening, as I've taken a liking to post dating my reviews to spread them out throughout the week and so as not to bury anything that has just been posted - namely, my MY WEEK IN FILM post. Anyway, Dead Ringers...

Man, just imagine if surgeons actually did wear red? How much more scary would surgery be!?

For Jeremy Irons, the film meant double duty - as he played twin gynecologists, Beverly and Elliot Mantle - two totally different personalities, who are both a lot loony in their own way. Elliot is the dominant twin - cocky and confident, ready to take on the world, one vagina at a time! Meanwhile, Beverly is his opposite - a shy, submissive sibling who has zero luck with the ladies, yet excels in his field, alongside his twin. While not Siamese twins, the two are basically inseparable, sharing an apartment & a medical practice together, not to mention pretty much everything else - including women. In fact, when actress Claire Niveau (Bujold) comes to their office for an appointment one day, it is Elliot whose eye she catches first, as he seduces her, all the while examining the the cause of her infertility. After getting her heated up, however, Elliot passes her off to Beverly, who sleeps with her and as a result, becomes emotionally attached to her. Basically, the rest of the film is just about Beverly's downfall as he becomes dependent on Claire;s affection and the drugs she introduces him to. He becomes a full blow, prescription drug addict and spirals completely out of control when he becomes convinced that Claire is cheating on him. Meanwhile, Elliot begins to worry about Beverly, as he becomes so dependent on the prescription pain pills that he can no longer function, eventually getting the brothers banned from the hospital where they practice, ruining their medical aspirations.

As much as I hate to, I wanted to start out the review portion of my Dead Ringers article by stating how boring it was. It's a word I don't like to use when describing films I dislike, but on rare occasions I make exceptions. However, I then realized that I didn't need to even consider using that word, because even though I highly disliked Dead Ringers, it was as far from boring as it could get. Allow me to throw some phrases & sentences at you and show you what I mean: "gynecological instruments for operating on mutant women", Genevieve Bujold gnawing at a fatty mass conjoining the Mantle twins, Jeremy Irons playing two completely different characters and nailing both roles while differentiating two separate personalities. These do not sound like the buzz words of a boring movie to me. Confusing movie? Sure. Weird movie? Definitely. But I certainly can't say it was boring. I watched this movie with a sometimes disgusted, sometimes befuddled look on my face and really wanted to be able to make more out of it, but alas, I couldn't.

What was Dead Ringers, but a movie about a socially awkward man falling in love for the first time? I kept waiting for the film to stray away from the love story, of Beverly's infatuation with Claire Niveau and turn into something more, but really it never did and besides the drug addiction angle, the film felt undeveloped, relying on the odd nature of it's director to get it through to the end credits. As if to say, "let's throw some 'mutant gynecological intruments' at them and that'll take their minds off the fact that we really have no story". I mean, sure, I guess you could cry "character development" and argue that the Mantle twins are ripe for dissection, but I never felt like a bond between us and those characters was ever strong enough to merit hinging the whole film upon.

I won't argue the talent of Jeremy Irons, someone who I'm, for the most part, completely unfamiliar with as an actor. A quick peek at his filmography and sure enough, I've only ever seen one other Jeremy Irons picture - the forgettable Reversal of Fortune. This performance made me want to pick out five more Irons' movies from Netflix and dig a little deeper into his body of work. To perfect not one character, but two, is a feat that deserves applauding However, that is kind of his job isn't it - to turn in a good performance? And while I applaud Irons, I wouldn't call his performances so good that I'd want to rearrange my favorite actors list or anything. Call it "really good", but not "blow away good". On the other hand, you've got Genevieve Bujold, who has since fallen off the face of the Earth and for good reason. She was both unpretty and untalented and whomever convinced her to pursue a career as an actress, deceived her.

Dig that tourniquet & surgical clamps sex scene!

Dead Ringers is going to be a "love it or hate it" movie. Fans of Cronenberg and his off the beaten path style will laud the film for it's uniqueness and ideas that challenge the ordinary. However, fans of a more conventional style of filmmaking will probably hate "Ringers" and for good reason. While Irons is good, maybe even great, as the Mantle twins, his performance isn't great enough to make you stop in your tracks and go back to make sure he wasn't robbed of an Oscar. Bujold is as plain as you can be and still be given work in Hollywood and honestly, giving her any work was probably a mistake. The film was too confusing for yours truly, which may be a fault of my own. I was constantly leaning over to ask my wife, "is that Beverly? I thought this was supposed to be Elliot? Who's the one in the red track suit?" While I wanted to like Dead Ringers, I simply didn't and give it my lowest of recommendations.

RATING: 3.5/10  It certainly will make you take notice, but in the end, you'll notice that the notice you took wasn't anything worth noticing. Nuff said.

November 22, 2015  9:24pm

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

1003. SHAME (2011)

Running Time: 101 minutes
Directed By: Steve McQueen
Written By: Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan
Main Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie, Lucy Walters
Click here to view the trailer


Last night, I assumed my usual position - in front of my flat screen, kicked back and in full, movie watching mode - and finally got a chance to check out Steve McQueen's second feature film (of 3 total), Shame. I've actually been wanting to see this one for a long time now, especially after seeing and loving Fassbender in Steve Jobs & Fish Tank and after seeing 12 Years a Slave, as a prerequisite to McQueen's work.

The film is - plain and simple - about a sex addict. The addict is our main character, the addict is portrayed by Michael Fassbender and the addict's name is Brandon. Brandon is a successful, New York City executive, who lives alone in a trendy NYC apartment and who gets around with the ladies, thanks to his good looks and prowess in the sheets. Brandon isn't above paying a prostitute for sex and in fact, one might argue that he prefers it this way - as love and intimacy are not his strong suits. From the get go, it is established that Brandon has a sister - Sissy (Mulligan), whom we first meet via answering machine messages, urging her brother to PICK UP, PICK UP, PICK UP. Brandon ignores the calls - ignoring her on one occasion, in favor of masturbating in front of the computer - and one day he arrives home to hear the stereo in his apartment, turned up full blast. Sissy has arrived, in lieu of waiting for permission to visit. She reveals that she doesn't have a place to live and Brandon agrees to let her have the couch...temporarily. One thing leads to another and about twenty or so minutes of screen time later, Sissy is sleeping with Brandon's boss, David (Dale) - who is also a close, personal friend of Brandon's. Brandon isn't thrilled with the way things have developed, but he ignores it, as he turns his attention to a co-worker of his, whom he has the hots for. The thing is, however, is that Brandon isn't used to having a crush, instead opting for quickies with girls he meets in bars and sex on delivery, via hookers - not to mention constant masturbation and porno perusing. So when he actually makes a connection with the aforementioned co-worker, Marianne (Beharie), he's out of his comfort zone - which becomes evidently clear a little later into the film and certainly into spoiler territory, so I digress, until after the break...


In fact, while I call him an addict three times in the first line of the above paragraph, it isn't really made evidently clear that he even is an addict, until very late in the film - something that maybe, even subconsciously, kept me from being blown away by this picture. My point is this: Let's say you go into this film 100% blind - no trailer, no previews, no plot synopsis, no Netflix sleeve to read and see what the movie is about - then at what point do I realize that I'm watching a film about sex addict and not just a film about rich, playboy who likes sex? I mean just filming segments with him handing hundreds to prostitutes & telling them to take their clothes off slowly, doesn't necessarily make the guy an addict, does it? Even the blonde we see him mingle with in the bar and later hitch a ride from and ravage under a bridge, isn't a girl he pursues, but rather, she pursues him. Sure, the constant masturbation was a hint, but was it enough to convince us of the facts of the film? Perhaps it was when we found out his hard drive at work was infested with porn? A definite game changer from just a casual sex lover to someone who has a clear problem. But, perhaps we're supposed to be left in the dark and perhaps, Brandon himself doesn't even know. They say denial is the defining personality trait of an addict and I'm willing to bet that the Brandon character didn't classify himself as someone who didn't have control. I'd say the point in the film where Brandon finally sees the light and where the audience can be clearly convinced that, yes, this guy has an issue, is when he can't get aroused with Marianne. Because at this point, we can discern that he's definitely addicted to sex - no question. If he's just a rich, playboy then there's no reason he can't "get it up" for Marianne. The reason Marianne does nothing for him, is because he isn't aroused by love, intimacy or romance. What he is aroused by is the dirty, the taboo, the forbidden acts. I'd say this is also where Brandon, himself, realizes that he has a problem, sitting alone in a hotel, staring out water, into the skyline - pondering exactly what is up with himself.

From here, we see a bevy of scenes that help us to continue to collect facts about our main character. These scenes work to hammer home any doubts that we were dealing with an addict, as opposed to just a guy who likes sex. When he's denied entrance into a nightclub, he goes across the street to a gay bar and is given oral sex by a man. Following that he has a rousing three way sex bout with two women. At this point, Brandon himself realizes what he is and for a moment, chooses to embrace it. He's almost looking to spite himself here, probably disgusted by his own actions but finally realizing that it's going to take disgusting acts to satisfy his needs, he goes whole hog. Later, a scene of Brandon crying in the rain, could be him realizing the error of his ways and a need to change. We never find out, however, because the film is left open ended. Yes, as irksome as it is, we don't get an ending...but if you read past the spoiler line, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

But really, how could you have ended this? You either let the character continue to be an addict, carrying on his destructive ways and send the audience home, probably feeling a bit slimy. The other option is to cure him, send him whistling off to work, with his dick in his pants, a neutered, abstinent, new man, ready to try a relationship with Marianne and that would've just felt too tacked on. So you leave it open ended and you let the audience decide whether they want to feel slimy or coddled. I guess I'm of the opinion that he's not cured. I feel like the temptation would be too great and while a good cry fest in the rain is good for a lot of things, I don't think it's strong enough to cure his problems, unless it was raining saltpeter.

From a technical standpoint, there isn't a lot wrong with Shame. Fassbender is fast becoming a favorite actor of mine, prompting me to add Hunger to my Netflix queue immediately and peruse his filmography to find other gems that have promise. The films main score by Harry Escott is powerful and fits in, calling to mind a desperate man, clutched by something almost demon-like. It calls to mind a group of friends who see a friend drowning, yet just can't save him - except Brandon is a loner, with no real friends, and that makes it even more dire. The main theme (titled "Brandon") makes me feel like there should have been a scene with Brandon just screaming into the heavens, it's that kind of powerful music where you just feel like the pains of the characters need to be exercised to accompany it. Keep your eyes peeled for key scenes, including a beautiful tracking shot of Brandon taking a jog at night, while blaring classical music and another of Carey Mulligan belting out the saddest version of New York, New York you'll ever hear. Speaking of Mulligan, I barely touched on her character, Sissy, who is almost as complex as Brandon, if not moreso...

What is the general consensus regarding her relationship with Brandon? Was there a bit of incest there, in a previous life. There was this quiet, loving awkwardness between them that seemed to suggest so, not to mention the fact that when she first appears, she stands naked in front of him, without even trying to cover up and him, not trying to avert his eyes. There's also a phone message that she leaves him, that says something like "We're not bad, we just come from a bad place", that seems to hint at possible sexual abuse, which could definitely account for Brandon's intimacy issues. Because I'm not a real film critic, I will pose a question though, instead of spending the entire review trying to pretend like I know all the answers. What was the point of her suicide? Did it serve merely as an eye opener for Brandon, to make him realize that there was someone out there who truly DID care about him and whether he wanted real love or not, he was going to get it - even if it was merely sisterly. The crying could be a result of him finally feeling LOVE for the first time in a long time and makes you realize that if he'd been able to maintain an erection for Marianne, then he'd probably have cried for her too. See there...I just answered my own questions. Perhaps a good cry in the rain did cure him, perhaps Sissy slitting her wrists because he refused to reciprocate her love, proved to him that she loved him and that he didn't need the actions of a hooker or a quick jerk to FEEL, he had a perfectly good sister who was willing to substitute his lust with actual, living, breathing emotions.
I will say though, the fact that they prefaced Sissy's suicide with a suicide on the subway was kind of hokey, was it not? That's just me nitpicking though.

RATING: 8/10  I talked so much that I talked Shame from a '7.5' into an '8' and that's always cool when that happens. Definitely one of the most powerful films I've seen in a while and it makes me wonder with THE BOOK felt the need to take it out of THE BOOK.

November 20, 2015  7:58pm

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My Week In Film - Week 3

I'm dubbing the next week "hell week", considering I'm a retail manager and we're heading into the busiest shopping week of the year. I'm dreading it BIG TIME, but it will all be over on Thursday night!

I managed to watch another eight movies this week, but before I get into those, I'll kick this post off with yet another plea to fellow film, television and music bloggers to come forth and let thyself be known! I have so many ideas swirling through my head, as far as what I want MY WEEK IN FILM to become and one of the things I want it to be, is sort of a community bulletin board for fellow bloggers. Feel free to send me an email with a link and a description of what your own blog is all about and I'd be happy to share it with my followers and maybe drive a few extra customers your way.

Also, if you're reading this and you're at all interested in writing your own, weekly column for MY WEEK IN FILM, shoot me an email and we can discuss the particulars.


I'd love to hear from you!



SHAME (2011 - Steve McQueen)  8/10

I actually wrote a full blown review of this one, since it was in a previous edition of the 1001 Movies You Must... BOOK, but I post dated it to upload to the blog on Tuesday night, so as not to be pushed immediately down by the MY WEEK IN FILM post. Therefore, you'll have to wait to read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt...

From a technical standpoint, there isn't a lot wrong with Shame. Fassbender is fast becoming a favorite actor of mine, prompting me to add Hunger to my Netflix queue immediately and peruse his filmography to find other gems that have promise. The films main score by Harry Escott is powerful and fits in, calling to mind a desperate man, clutched by something almost demon-like. It calls to mind a group of friends who see a friend drowning, yet just can't save him - except Brandon is a loner, with no real friends, and that makes it even more dire. The main theme (titled "Brandon") makes me feel like there should have been a scene with Brandon just screaming into the heavens, it's that kind of powerful music where you just feel like the pains of the characters need to be exercised to accompany it. Keep your eyes peeled for key scenes, including a beautiful tracking shot of Brandon taking a jog at night, while blaring classical music and another of Carey Mulligan belting out the saddest version of New York, New York you'll ever hear.


JACK (1996 - Francis Ford Coppola)  5.5/10

If you're going to get a grown man to play a child, was there any better choice for the role than Robin Williams? I think not. It's a little bit fun watching Williams onscreen, who looks like he's having a blast up there, joshing with the kids. Is anyone else REALLY shocked to know that Francis Ford Coppola directed this? I kind of was. My wife, Ruth, had been badgering me for MONTHS to watch Jack with her, despite us not having a copy available. It had almost become an inside joke, to the point that I broke down and bought it for her for Christmas. Well...if you know us, then you know we're big on giving early Christmas presents and that's what lead to me seeing this. It's nothing great, really and it's really bittersweet watching Robin Williams and Bill Cosby onscreen and trying to decide whether you should laugh, cry or feel awkward. This one is terribly cliched and Coppola must have been hurtin' for a payday in 1996, to stoop to such mediocrity. Decent movie that provided enough genuine laughs to eek it into average territory, while still being a nothing movie.

Speaking of Coppola, let's take a look at his filmography and see how I stack up against it:

1. The Bellboy and the Playgirls
2. Tonight For Sure
3. Dementia 13
4. You're a Big Boy Now
5. Finnian's Rainbow
6. The Rain People
7. The Godfather
8. The Conversation
9. The Godfather: Part II
10. Apocalypse Now
11. One from the Heart
12. The Outsiders
13. Rumble Fish
14. The Cotton Club
15. Peggy Sue Got Married
16. Gardens of Stone
17. Tucker; The Man and His Dream
18. New York Stories (segment, Life Without Zoe)
19. The Godfather: Part III
20. Dracula
21. Jack
22. The Rainmaker
23. Youth Without Youth
24. Tetro
25. Twixt

**So a total of twenty-five films and I've already seen eight, means this wouldn't be a hard filmography to totally tackle and be able to say I've seen all of Coppola's films. Challenge accepted.

**I didn't include a couple of movies that didn't seem to be full fledged parts of his filmography, including Battle Beyond the Sun (re-edited) and The Terror (uncredited).

STOLEN KISSES (1968 - Francois Truffaut)  5.5/10

Pretty boring stuff here, which hurts to say considering I love French films and I really like Jean-Pierre Leaud. I've yet to be intrigued by the Antoine Doinel character and am starting to wonder what all the fuss is about.

DRACULA (1992 - Francis Ford Coppola)  3.5/10

See review, here

INSIDE OUT (2015 - Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen)  8/10

Pixar is the one place where I can pretty much always count on finding a great movie. Bear in mind, I've yet to see Monsters University or Cars 2, but still...

Inside Out made me wish that this actually wasn't a kids film and that we could've taken some more serious routes. The film takes place inside the head of it's main character, Riley - an adolescent who is beginning to go through the normal changes that all teenagers face. When Joy and Sadness are lost, it is up to Fear, Anger and Disgust to control the psyche of Riley, causing her to make the dreaded transformation to moody teenager. As Joy and Sadness try to find their way back into the "headquarters" of Riley's brain, they watch as her childhood is destructed and memories she once held dear are now fading away. This includes her former imaginary friend, Bing Bong (voiced by Richard Kind), who provides us with the saddest moment of the movie and maybe the saddest moment in Pixar history. You'll know it when you see it...

Great, great stuff here and probably the most well thought out Pixar film ever. It's the animated equivalent to Inception...except it's actually GOOD!! I'm not saying it's the best Pixar film (that still goes to the first Toy Story, as far as I'm concerned), but it's the deepest and another really good one.

SOUTHPAW (2015 - Antoine Fuqua)  6/10

Good enough to sneak into '6' territory, but really, I liked this one a lot less than I expected too. I usually really dig Jake Gyllenhaal and boxing movies are almost always good. However, this one was too cliched to amount to anything worth getting excited about. However, the actual boxing scenes were pretty entertaining and the whole movie plays out like one big professional wrestling angle and of course, that's right up my alley.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014 - Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez)  4.5/10

Someone shoulda' told Miller & Rodriguez that sequels are almost never necessary and usually only help to stink up the aura of a great original. I suffered through this and when it was all said and done, I actually think I liked the first one a little less, as it had the stink of this one swarming around it. It looked the same, that's really about it. Thank you green screen for making that possible, at least. Otherwise, there was almost an entirely different core cast and the faces who did return, weren't needed. I'm a big fan of the Sin City graphic novels, yet I don't remember the one where the ghost of John Hartigan returns. The thing is, is that all three core main characters were killed in the first one, so bringing literally ALL of them back was kind of ridiculous. Hartigan and Marv weren't needed, end of story. I'd have been fine with them adapting A Dame to Kill For, but, from what I remember, they strayed from the source material a bit. I'm almost certain Marv and Manute don't have a brawl and in fact, if I remember correctly, Marv is just a passing character in "Dame". Also, did anyone else burst into laughter when Josh Brolin showed up sporting the same haircut as Clive Owen in the original? It was a laughable moment and silly as hell. In the comic, when Dwight returns, he looks COMPLETELY different. Therefore, why couldn't they have just gotten a completely different actor to finish out the story and spare Brolin that ridiculous wig?

Joseph Gordon Levitt, for his part, was okay I guess, but I'd still have preferred that another one of the source stories been adapted. It really should've been a better, more accurate version of A Dame to Kill For and maybe, Hell and Back. That's it. Forget Bruce Willis, forget Mickey Rourke and forget Josh Brolin. Throw some cash at Clive Owen and wait for his schedule to open up, so that Dwight can, at least, be the same actor. .As it is, I'm surprised Miller signed off on this drivel.

DUTCH (1991 - Peter Faiman)  6.5/10

Guilty pleasure, right here. It's another Thanksgiving film penned by John Hughes (that guy must have LOVED turkey day), except this time he didn't direct. Really, this is just a carbon copy of Planes, Trains & Automobiles, except the leads are played by a man and a kid who don't like each other, instead of two grown men who don't like each other. But hey, I liked it! I'm a fan of Ed O'Neil (despite never having watched Married...with Children) and here, he shows up to work, putting a lot of work into something that flopped big time at the box office. Poor Ed... This is currently streaming on Netflix and is great fodder if you just need something mindless to get you through until the next serious film. Recommended.

Dead Ringers (1988 - David Cronenberg)
Pauline at the Beach (1983 - Eric Rohmer)
Madigan (1968 - Don Siegel)
Sunshine (2007 - Danny Boyle)
Millions (2004 - Danny Boyle)


Last week I asked you guys what your favorite Danny Boyle film was and the answer was Trainspotting, resoundingly, which garnered nearly 50 percent of the votes. Other vote getters included 127 Hours (3), Slumdog Millionaire (2), Shallow Grave (2), 28 Days Later (2) and Steve Jobs (1)

This week's poll is inspired by my watching of Southpaw and I ask you WHAT IS THE BEST BOXING MOVIE OF THE 21st CENTURY. Have fun!


Has anyone seen the new Bond film? Since I am always writing about old films that no one has heard of, I feel like an out of touch parent trying to connect with youngsters. On Sunday I saw Spectre with my two siblings and a cup full of Milk Teeth, which are rather disgustingly delicious British candy.

Possible Spoiler Alert

Is it ever necessary to give a plot summary of a Bond film? I hope not, because there were quite a few confusing points in this movie. I just read an article that says Pierce Brosnan called Spectre “rather weak.” While this could just be a case of our favorite pretty boy being a jelly bean, I can’t help but agree. Our Bond girl, Dr. Madeline Swann has very little personality. I suppose we feminists are intended to cheer because she didn’t immediately fall into Bond’s arms after he saved her. You know, she waited a day or two. And she also knew how to shoot a gun. So, hurray? Our work is pretty much done.

I suppose this film delivers on everything a Bond film should: a beautiful opening song, gorgeous women, and exciting action scenes. Still, just once, I would like to be surprised by something in a Bond movie. I guess the formula makes this an unreasonable request.

At least we are left with a good message. Men will always change for you, even if they are trained assassins. Especially if they have slept with thousands of women before you.


Check Amanda out at her online homes...that's right with an S, cause she's versatile!

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
1001 Albums You Must Listen to Before You Die
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die


Best Song: The Beautiful People
Just TOO. FUCKING. LOUD. Even at a meager thirty years old, I just can't do this kind of noise anymore. Now GET OFF MY LAWN!! Still though, The Beautiful People is still a bad ass song and enough to get this one to a solid D, along with other bearable tunes like Tourniquet.
PLAYLIST CHOICES: The Beautiful People

Check out all of my 1001 Albums... progress, here


Eva Green's first film was Bernardo Bertolucci's 2003 film The Dreamers, which is currently available OnDemand and needs to be watched by me. Otherwise, Green has appeared in such films as Kingdom of Heaven, Casino Royale and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. You can also catch Eva Green in the Showtime horror drama, Penny Dreadful.

Michael Fassbender has appeared in all three of the films directed by Steve McQueen: Hunger, Shame and 12 Years a Slave.

"Where I tell you to GET THE HELL OUT and spread some love to some other, worthy blogs!"

This week I urge you to check out FLICK CHICKS, a blog hosted by two, talented women from the U.K. They cover a wide range of topics, which includes film reviews. The beauty part of their blog is that it's hosted by TWO of them, meaning you can sometimes get a difference of opinion and different viewpoints. Check them out by clicking the banner blow.


Well wish me luck this week as I manage a grocery department and get mauled by people needing cranberry sauce and Stove Top. Then, on Thursday, all hell breaks loose when I'm forced to participate in the Black Friday Sales-Stravaganza and more mauling pursues. Come on Friday!!

November 21, 2015  10:08am

Sunday, November 15, 2015

1002. DRACULA (1992)

Running Time: 128 minutes
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Written By: James V. Hart, based on the novel by Bram Stoker
Main Cast: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant
Click here to view the trailer

Note: So this is kinda' weird coming back to this format after saying my final eulogy to the project a couple weeks ago. However, as noted in my finale notes, I intend to set out to watch the rest of the movies that have appeared in other editions of THE BOOK, other than the fifth edition that I was working out of. The thing is though, is that I really had no intention of starting this so soon. It wasn't until I was halfway through Coppola's 1992 adaptation of Dracula that it dawned on me that this was actually a BOOK movie. So...what the heck...let's get down to business. The numbering will continue from 1001, meaning this is 1002 and anything that follows, that is a BOOK review, will have that special numbering sequence...


So I've reviewed the Max Schreck version, the Bela Lugosi version, the Christopher Lee version, the Klaus Kinski version and now, I present, the Gary Oldman version of Bram Stoker's classic tale - Dracula!

Seriously though, if you MUST have a plot synopsis, you can click any of the links I just hooked up to and re-read those reviews, because I've told you four times now what this story is about and it's not as if everyone on Earth doesn't already know the story of Dracula anyway. So yeah, it's a new era here in the blog and apparently, I'm a lot sassier! But seriously, it's not necessary for me to go through it again, right? Dracula's the vampire, Harker's the human, Dracula wants Harker's girlfriend/wife, it's a whole, undead love triangle sorta thing...

The first ten minutes of Coppola's 1992 remake of a remake of a remake of Dracula, are pretty B.A. I commented to Ruth right away that this thing LOOKED brilliant and that I was actually excited to revisit this one, as I'd seen it previously - many, MANY years ago, back when I was just a tike. However, my hopes for a blow away movie were quickly dashed as beautiful images turned to mediocre acting from two of the four leads and a tedious story that I've seen way too many times. Like, seriously, if I never see another Dracula adaptation for as long as I live, that will be fine with me. I mean, I really liked Herzog's version that I watched earlier this year and THAT'S something that I'd like to take another look at, but not for a very, very long time. At this point, I could recite the tale of Dracula in my sleep and while Coppola's version does stray where the other movies didn't (werewolf rape, for example), it doesn't stray far enough to make this feel like anything but a rehashing of something we'd seen time and time again.

I will say, however, that this was a far more adult version of Dracula than we'd seen before - or at least that I'D seen before. It worked in a fair amount of nudity and a much more advanced makeup & special effects team, to make for a much scarier version of Dracula that I think we've ever seen. Despite not caring for it, it's hard for me to deny the extreme talent of Gary Oldman and it made me wonder, as I took a quick phone break to look up his filmography, why he never made it bigger - especially post-1992 and post-Dracula, where he easily wins the award for most badass Dracula of them all. I'm pretty sure all the girls watching this got, at least, a little crush when Oldman dawned the top hat and circular, blue sunglasses and set out to woo Winona Ryder. However, Oldman's Count Dracula wasn't just badass, as the actor dawned several faces to give us the most versatile vampire we've ever seen - sometimes a handsome, Johnny Depp looking playboy and other times a straight up monster, a la something from the mind of Greg Nicotero.

Speaking of cast, don't get your hopes too high, as Oldman is easily the best part. Sure, you've got Anthony Hopkins in there too and he's never bad, but you've also got to put up with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, both of whom suck the giant meat misile. I mean, is there anyone out there who actually likes Reeves? If so, to each their own and I'm sure you have your reasons, but I just don't see it. I didn't even know he was in the movie and as soon as I heard his voice, I was like "oh shit, not him". Yes...HIM! Ryder looked like a million bucks here, but unfortunately her role required her to open her mouth, which immediately killed all of her charm.

The bottom line is that this is a damn chore to get through, at least it was for me. I found it to be more adult, which was a nice change of pace - but ultimately, it was the same story we'd already seen a half dozen times to similar effect. In fact, I'd call it worse than those other attempts. While this film looked like a Picasso come to life, I still preferred the pale gray colors of Werner Herzog's vision. Where this film gave us the tale in a it's classic form, reintroducing us to classic characters like The Count, Harker and Van Helsing, it won't have the same authentic feel as renting the 1931 Bela Lugosi version, While this film showcased Anthony Hopkins doing a fine job as Dr. Van Helsing, he still didn't quite knock it out of the park like Peter Cushing did in Terrence Fisher's 1958 imagining. In fact, the only two reasons to get behind Coppola's Dracula is 1) Oldman and 2) the cinematography (yet, as I said, I prefer the Herzog version for sheer style) and yet, those two things aren't enough to get past the fact that this sucker drags like death.

RATING: 3.5/10  Wowie zowie. I guess they took it out for good reason then. Man, I was really hoping to like this one too. I'm going through a bit of a Coppola phase right now and I can say with certainty that so far, this is his worst.

November 15, 2015  11:47pm

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Week In Film - Week 2

I came very close to writing a full blown review this week, but then I ran low on time and the thought crossed my mind, "well, you don't HAVE to write it", so I didn't. I'll fill you in below on what the movie was.

Instead, I spent the week sealing a few deals, trying to come up with some new ideas and securing a new guest contributor for the MY WEEK IN FILM column. I hope to beef this thing up into something worthwhile before too long...

In other news, I also almost came close to actually recording this edition of MY WEEK IN FILM, with me sitting in front of a camera and actually speaking my thoughts on the eight films I managed to watch this past week. I wasn't sure how well it would go over though or if anyone would even be interested in sitting and watching me talk about movies, so I nixed the idea. Still trying to think up SOMETHING though, as I do think the idea of a weekly, video message is kinda cool. Stay tuned...

On with the show...



MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003 - Joon-ho Bong)  7.5/10

Even though this wasn't the highest rated film of the week, I'm still naming it my PICK OF THE WEEK, simply because it was the most thought provoking and the one I wrestled with the most, when trying to decide just what I thought of it.

Knowing it was on the IMDB TOP 250 list didn't help a whole lot, because I kept expecting something truly stellar. Well, at no point during the course of Memories of Murder was I blown away. I kept waiting for something awesome to happen, a big plot twist, a shocking character development, but none of that came and when it was all said and done this was simply a murder mystery - nothing really more, nothing less. It was a good thing for the film that I'm a big fan of murder mysteries though, as I liked it quite well. I mean, sure I wanted to know who the murderer was just as much as anyone and when we didn't get an answer I wasn't happy. I also felt like the film was setting us up for some big, surprise ending that also never came,  so by the time the credits rolled, I did have that feeling of wanting something more.

However, it occurred to me that not all murders are solved. I mean, Zodiac (2007 - David Fincher) was a film about an unsolved murder and I liked that well enough (maybe, because I knew going in that it was about an unsolved murder?). Not all murder mysteries get to have endings - that's true at both the movies and in real life. What Memories of Murder produces is an atmosphere that is synonymous with murder. They take the essentials and just do it all REALLY well. They master the art of the rainy night, the intrigue of forcing the audience into as much madness as it forces it's characters into and in the end I think there's not going to be a lot of negativity surrounding this Korean gem. I'm not sure it's so good that it deserves inclusion on the IMDB TOP 250 list, but it's a really good time at the movies, none the less.

**Speaking of the IMDB TOP 250 list, as of today, I've seen 177 of the 250 films. And that's only including movies I watched for THE BOOK and movies I watched since 1/1/15.

Still trekking through the Danny Boyle filmography, but only managed to see one more of his films this week. Let's take an updated look at the complete list before I get into my thoughts on that one.

1. Shallow Grave
2. Trainspotting
3. A Life Less Ordinary
4. The Beach
5. 28 Days Later
6. Millions
7. Sunshine
8. Slumdog Millionaire
9. 127 Hours
10. Trance
11. Steve Jobs

THE BEACH (2000 - Danny Boyle)  5.5/10

So I actually ended up liking The Beach a lot more than I did the first time I saw it (something like 7 years ago). It's still nothing to write home about or anything, but it kept my attention for about the first ninety minutes, before it all started to crumble apart at the end, like a stale cupcake. While watching, I kept getting the feeling that I was missing out on something, so I looked it up and sure enough, The Beach was based on a book. What I'm saying is, is that I think a lot of the film is a nod & a wink to the people who read the novel and if you didn't, then you kinda' feel like you're being left out of the conversation. There's this whole big sequence at the end, where DiCaprio's character goes bonkers (ie. Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now) and I felt like it was incredibly out of place and the exact moment where I stopped giving a shit and just wanted the film to be over. Up until then, however, the film does speak semi-intelligently on the quest for paradise and how it may or may not be attainable and what the price of said paradise is. It doesn't particularly feel like a Danny Boyle film, save for the presence of Robert Carlyle and the Chemical Brothers tune near the opening. Dicaprio, as usual, is great. Take a look at the scene where Dicaprio's Richard thinks that Frencoise has been eaten by a shark - his horror is genuine. As the Seinfeld cast said about Meryl Streep, "There's no acting there".

LA FEMME INFIDELE (1969 - Claude Chabrol)  6.5/10

Boy, I really feel like I should've liked this one a lot more than I did. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I saw Unfaithful (2002), which was a remake of this film. Both films are about a wife who has an affair and the husband who finds out about it. While watching Chabrol's version, I pretty much knew everything that was going to happen - that he end up killing the guy and that, in the end, the police come a calling.

**Random thought: Did Diane Lane fall off the face of the Earth?

Another thing - and I hate to sound like a total pervert - but the film, despite the sheer presence of Stephane Audran - just wasn't sexy enough. I felt like a bit of nudity or maybe even one sex scene would have really encapsulated a lot and made the film feel more...gritty?...dirty?...sleazy?...something...Otherwise, I liked the mood, the atmosphere and I promptly added another Claude Chabrol film to my Netflix queue.

THE NARROW MARGIN (1952 - Richard Fleischer)  7/10

Remember the golden rule: Any movie taking place entirely or almost entirely on a train is, at least, good. The Narrow Margin is no exception. That is all...

THEY LIVE (1988 - John Carpenter)  8/10

Can't go all "pick of the week" on this one, because I rated it high mainly for nostalgia purposes, but DAMN, I love this movie.

This is the one I almost wrote the whole review on, because I really felt like I could've talked for days about why I love this movie. Add this to the list of "movies my brother showed me", but it probably didn't take a whole lot of convincing, considering it starred "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and I've been a huge wrestling fan my whole life?

Am I crazy or did The Matrix rip this film off, even if not intentionally? I mean, the idea of living in this dream world where everything is copacetic and then one day you put on the glasses/take the blue pill and BAM!, the world is nothing like you thought it was and in actuality, it's a nightmare. Sure, They Live is kind of a terrible movie, from an aesthetic point of view anyway. The acting is horrible. I mean, I LOVED Roddy Piper and was kind of devastated by his death earlier this year, but I sure didn't love him for his acting abilities. The effects are kind of cheesy and the action takes WAY too long to get underway (IIRC, it's nearly forty minutes until Piper puts on the glasses and we really get cooking). However, I just had so much fun with this and it's something I'd really like to try hard to fit on to my personal list, if I can. Also, did anyone else think Meg Foster looked like an alien, even without the glasses? UGH! And dig that fight scene!

REVENGE OF THE NERDS (1984 - Jeff Kanew)  2.5/10

Dear sweet lord, what dreck this was! The only bright spot for me was Curtis Armstrong who played Booger and turned every one of his  lines into something worth laughing at. Otherwise, this was too cliche, too 80s and too bad to write anything worthwhile about. A very unfunny comedy, at least from my POV.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991 - Jon Avnet)  5/10


After years of hearing about this movie, I came across it OnDemand and decided to give it a whirl. It was the very definition of *MEH*. I felt like I'd seen this movie a thousand times before and yet, I'd never seen it once, not even in bits & pieces. I mean, I guess that's a bad thing right. It suggests that this movie is so cliche and unoriginal, that it's been done to death. Or maybe, I'm just late to the party and a lot of movies have just copied the style & rhythm of this one - I don't know. Whether I'm judging it fairly or unfairly, I don't really care - but I'm calling it average.

By the way, were Idgie and Ninny the same person? Readers of the novel say "NO", she's not, but then why do we even care about Ninny? Who is she, but some old nursing home patient who is remembering a story that she had nothing to do with? If Idgie isn't Ninny, then Ninny had no place in this story and thus, having the film end with her and Kathy Bates pointless.

PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES (1987 - John Hughes)  7.5/10

Another one that I would REALLY REALLY like to, somehow, fit on my personal list. I had a blast with this and it was nice to forget about watching serious movies and just let John Candy bust my gut for ninety minutes. And yeah, it's a guilty pleasure, but what's life without a few guilty pleasures. This was like a Klondike bar after a big meal and it was finger lickin good.

Stolen Kisses (1968 - Francois Truffaut)
Dead Ringers (1988 - David Cronenberg)
Pauline at the Beach (1983 - Eric Rohmer)
Madigan (1968 - Don Siegel)


ORRRRR We could also call this new feature, "How many people are actually reading this?". Played around with this week and think that a weekly poll could be fun. This week, I'm asking you what your favorite Danny Boyle film is. The poll is auto restricted to one vote, per person and comments are enabled if you have something to say. Have fun...


Hello followers of Andrew!

My name is Amanda and I hail from my own blog, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. The savvy reader might be able to glean what the blog’s about from its imaginative title. It’s actually quite similar to Andrew’s blog, except his posts tend to be a bit more extensive and rich. I also go in chronological order, so right now my cinematic knowledge expires at 1977. I have blogs tracking my progress through the 1001 Albums and 1001 Books lists as well. All right, self-promotion time over.

Andrew has asked me to contribute to his blog every week with a few paragraphs about whatever catches my fancy. That shouldn’t be too hard, as my fancy is easily caught by anything cultural, from 90s television to 18th century literature. For this post, Andrew requested that I familiarize his readers with my taste and articulate what I will bring to the table. Both questions are stumping me at the moment. As far as taste goes, I loathe Ingmar Bergman (sorry Ray) and adore Alfred Hitchcock. I will watch anything horror but will probably complain about most things, as I love to complain. I am very passionate, but also don’t get offended very easily, which I am hoping will make for some fun discussions.

I look forward to being a part of Andrew’s blog! If you are still not certain if you should avoid this weekly segment, head over to my blog and get a better sense of my style (I lied before; self-promotion time is never over for the practiced narcissist).



THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to Amanda for agreeing to come aboard. I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing what she comes up with on a weekly basis and now, more than ever, you have a reason to be here every Saturday to read MY WEEK IN FILM. Catch Amanda at her online homes, where she does a fantastic job after fantastic job, summing up the "must see" in books, films and music: Here are the links:

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die by Amanda
1001 Albums You Must Listen to Before You Die by Amanda
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die guessed it, Amanda



Stephane Audran starred alongside Michel Bouquet in this week's film, The Unfaithful Wife, directed by Claude Chabrol. Audran was married to both Chabrol and Jean-Louis Trintignant ("My Night at Maud's", "Three Colors: Red"), but has divorced both.

John Candy (1950 - 1994) I was a huge John Candy fan as a kid. He was a comedian who I could actually watch, because his films weren't that bad. - language and sex wise. 

"Where I tell you to GET THE HELL OUT and spread some love to some other, worthy blogs!"

RAMBLING TV is really something you should be checking out weekly. A well written, well thought out piece by Brittani Burnham - an authority on television, in my opinion. This past week she spewed thoughts The Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD, Fargo and Law & Order. Check it out, please.

CUEMARKS is a new blog from a friend of this blog, that I really think you'll all enjoy. It's written by Donald Cameron, a guy who's writing style I really think you'll all take to, if you give him a chance. There's not a lot of content over there right now, but swing over, give him a follow, some love and add him to your bookmarks, because I see great things coming down the pike from him.



You got me, you got Amanda and really, if I could add one or two more people, to rotate out every other week, I think we'd have a real variety show here. Please drop me an email at if you're at all interested. I'm really flexible on the content - so if you want to write about music or television, that would work.

Also, while we're on the subject of reaching out to me: Please let me know if you're a film, music or television blogger who wants to be added to the BlogRoll. I need more content there and your blog COULD be added to the BLOG POST OF THE WEEK feature. Last week, I was told that my plug DID send some extra traffic to one of the blog posts, so if that's something you're looking for, let me know.


Two weeks in. What do you guys think of the formula here? I really can't tell. Is it too muddled? Is it just the right amount of variety? You tell me.

November 14, 2015  11:52am

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Week In Film - Week 1

To those of you who read my six years post last night, you know what this is. If you missed it, allow me to explain. What you are reading will hopefully become a regular feature on the blog. Each and every week (preferably Saturday), I'll put up a post talking about the movies I've seen in the previous week and anything else I want to talk about. The goal is to make it look like a newsletter or a sort of one stop shop for all my viewing habits. I may throw in a section about what music I'm listening to, I may throw in a particular blog post I'd recommend....anything and everything is fair game.


So for some reason, I've chosen as my POST-BOOK project, the watching of all of Danny Boyle's films. I figure he already has two movies on my list (Trainspotting and 127 Hours), with 28 Days Later being a near third and Steve Jobs being a strong candidate to go in at the end of the why not...Plus it's a really small list, which is nice coming off of a really big one.

1. Shallow Grave
2. Trainspotting
3. A Life Less Ordinary
4. The Beach
5. 28 Days Later
6. Millions
7. Sunshine
8. Slumdog Millionaire
9. 127 Hours
10. Trance
11. Steve Jobs

**he also has a short film called Alien Love Triangle and a few TV movies, that probably aired in England. I'll give a shot at finding them, but if not, I won't hold it against myself.

**I've seen both The Beach and Slumdog Millionaire, but it's been too long for both, so we'll consider them unseen and redo them. This means that the first full length review you'll probably get is Slumdog Millionaire, as it was in another edition of THE BOOK.

SHALLOW GRAVE (1994 - Danny Boyle)  6.5/10

A '6.5' is probably too harsh, but I REALLY expected to like this more - one of the reasons it was the first movie put on my queue, POST-BOOK. After a few days of stewing on it, I'd probably up it to somewhere in the '7' range, but I still could have done with a little less comedy here. I also really didn't understand the motivations of Christopher Eccleston's character. The guy goes completely mad and it's never really, flat out explained why. Sure, he's all upset about killing a man, but to go as mad as he does - it seemed unmotivated and out of place to me.

A LIFE LESS ORDINARY (1997 - Danny Boyle)  3.5/10

Oh, good lord, what dreck this was! While watching Shallow Grave, I had the thought: IF Danny Boyle were a genre of music, he'd be a punk rock band. Edgy, quick edits, grimy settings... A Life Less Ordinary was not a punk rock movie. It was sheer Hollywood - a romantic comedy for God's sake. A bit more violence, a grittier setting and this COULD have been something to talk about, but I don't even know if that would have helped. I hated nearly everything about this, from the cliches to the happy ending. But hey, Cameron Diaz looks drop dead gorgeous in this, so there's that. Plus Delroy Lindo's in there, so it can't be all bad, right? RIGHT?! I sincerely hope this is Boyle's worst.

One other film this week...

99 RIVER STREET (1953 - Phil Karlson)  7.5/10

Really good noir that I DVR'd off of TCM in July and it's been sitting there ever since. The movie tells of an ex-boxer who had to retire due to a bum eye. He becomes a cab driver and things get intense when he finds out his wife is cheating on him with a jewel thief. The ex-boxer is John Payne, who is wonderful here and the (soon to be) ex-wife is Peggie Castle, who looks fabulous here. What is it about noirs with boxers or ex-boxers that always seem to be really good? I have The Set-Up on DVD as part of a Film Noir Collection I bought - maybe I need to dig that out.


Peggie Castle (1927 - 1973) - Worked alongside John Payne in 99 River Street (1953) and also starred in the classic television show Lawman.


Stolen Kisses (1968 - Francois Truffaut)
The Beach (2000 - Danny Boyle)
Dead Ringers (1988 - David Cronenberg)
Memories of Murder (2003 - Joon-ho Bong)
The Unfaithful Wife (1969 - Claude Chabrol)
Pauline at the Beach (1983 - Eric Rohmer)

The beauty part is that I only have a four DVD plan from Netflix, but for some reason they always send me more than four. I'm not complaining....

**I'm actually looking at completing a couple of other lists. Right now, over at iCheck, I have four GOLD awards: 1001 MYMSBYD, Taschen 100 All-Time Favorite Movies, Leonard Maltin's 100 Must See Films of the 20th Century and the AFI 100 Years...100 Movies. For the latter, I'm only missing Sophie's Choice, so I'd like to watch that soon, so that I can get my first PLATINUM! 


For the inaugural edition of MY WEEK IN FILM, I actually have two really great, recent blog posts that I'd recommend. One is movie related, the other is about music.

A MYTHICAL MONKEY WRITES ABOUT the MOVIES takes a look at a possible BEATLES: BLACK ALBUM this week?! See what that's all about, as I think it's a pretty brilliant idea and something we can all play along with at home.


Karen over at SHADOWS AND SATIN is hosting NOIRVEMBER, a month long celebration of all things NOIR! You can click HERE to go to DAY 1, but don't forget to read all the great posts that she's put up since 11/1, including today's entry - An entire post dedicated to the beautiful Gene Tierney.

If ever there was an authority on film noir, it is the incomparable Karen Burroughs Hansberry


Some things that I happened upon this week...

Does Apple make the most tear inducing commercials ever? Between the original Think Different Ad, shown above and the Christmas commercial from 2013, I'm sporting some salty cheeks...

Still reading this...

...and loving it.


Started watching this, this morning...

...and it seems to be tickling my fancy. I've realized that I'm definitely more of a comedy guy when it comes to TV. I watched the first few episodes of Daredevil on Netflix a few weeks back and I have absolutely no desire to seek out the next ep. Ditto with the original Law & Order which my wife and I started months ago, quit and then I tried to get back into it this week, to no avail. Add Fargo to the list too, as all but the pilot has been on my DVR for nearly a month now.

However, here's one drama I may have to try really hard to get into, considering I read some of the source material...

I kinda feel like this should really have been on HBO though, considering it's pretty graphic and vulgar. Here's hoping it does the graphic novel justice.



If you're a writer, aspiring blogger or even none of the above, but you just want to write a little something about movies, music, TV...anything, drop me an email at and let me know what your poison is. I'm just looking for people to do a paragraph or two every week or so, that I'd post in the weekly MY WEEK IN FILM post (which is more than just film chat, clearly).


Well...what do you think? I'll be tweaking the formula a bit, but this is, for the most part, what I had in mind. Just a random sampling of anything I want to throw at you and hopefully some conversation starters. See you next week!

November 7, 2015  3:52pm