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Monthly Archives: April 2012

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One of my all-time favourite films. David Slade’s 2005 masterpiece is about as hard-hitting, relentless and terrifying as anything I have ever seen. The screenplay delivers on so many fronts and it’s interpretation of the themes of power and revenge is something quite incredible to see and the performances from Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are both out of this world. The finale is one of the greatest sequences of the decade and the film as a whole is something that only gets better with every viewing.

 100/100

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I don’t think this is the masterpiece that everyone claims it to be, but it certainly is a brilliant film. Antonioni is a wonderful director; capable of displaying emotions and portraying dislike-able characters in a very special way among other things. There is so much power in this film and despite the apparent simplicity of the premise, the plot expands and develops into a visually stunning piece of film history. The lead performance from David Hemmings is definitely one of my favourite from the 60’s and the final scene is very memorable. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t consider it the masterpiece that so many people do, but it’s an essential film for film buffs and it’s influence on later films is there to see.

84/100

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Robert De Niro’s legendary performance of Travis Bickle is what makes Taxi Driver as good as it is. The performance is unparallel to anything he or anyone else has ever done, and it’s done so powerfully and truthfully that in some aspects we feel we can relate to this odd character. Prior to filming, De Niro worked as a taxi driver and studied mental illness in preparation for the role, and if that isn’t a sign of dedication to acting then I don’t know what it. In more recent years, De Niro has had a hit and miss collection of films mainly but no matter what he’ll never be forgotten for his portrayal of this tortured, lonely and macabre Vietnam war veteran.

Martin Scorsese’s direction is also as fierce as it has ever been and is likely to ever be again. Just simply through the camera angles he uses, particularly in the scene where Travis Bickle seeks redemption from Betsy after their bad date. The camera gently moves along the corridor and then just stops. Just for that brief moment, we feel Bickle’s pain and love even without seeing anything other than two walls and a closed door.

One of the most recognisable parts of the film is the famous “You Talking To Me?” sequence is also of the strongest parts. Just those four words et us in on the future of the film, with only those subtle four words. Subtleness is a common theme in Scorsese’s heart-breaking masterpiece that is Taxi Driver.

The screenplay especially is nothing but incredible. The funny thing is that it’s so thin and seemingly undercalculated, but it also says so much as the same time that is speaks out to it’s audience in the most unlikely way possible.

Now, that conclusion. That conclusion is brilliant. It’s sort of a three part sequence. The usual shootout, which is done in terrifying fashion and it also appears that there’s a more dormant and dark feel to the whole scene. Then it moves on to the letter. Now, this is where it gets really good. It’s often criticised but also praised for not having a definitive answer or meaning to it. It’s either a fantasy of Bickle’s or it’s actual reality and as simple as that may seem, it’s not. There are parts in the film when you’re damn sure it’s reality, but then there are the most unspecific details that persuade you over the dream part of the argument. The third part features Betsy in Travis’ taxi and this is the exact part that I mean. With all the recognition apparently showered on Bickle by the news and the locals, it could be believed that this is reality and Betsy has seen that Travis has a thicker heart to save young prostitutes from an inevitable death rather than to take girls out on dates to see porno flicks.

But in all truth, it doesn’t matter what the actual ending is. It’s part of the film’s mystery and it’s darkness and we all know by now that Scorsese’s pictures aren’t out to have a definitive meaning but to be ambigious and keep the audience thinking. A similar device in utilised in the latter pairing of De Niro and Scorsese in the 1983 The King of Comedy.

100/100

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Richard Kelly’s debut feature is an intricate and unforgettable character study of a tortured young soul. The story centres on troubled Donnie Darko, who is played to shocking conviction by the then unknown Jake Gylennhaal now known for films like Jarhead and Zodiac, but it’s Donnie Darko he will ultimately be remembered for. His performance is nothing less than incredible. The way he portrays the character shocks and chills me on every single viewing. He takes his character and creates a whole new meaning to the word scary.

Richard Kelly’s writing is as intricate and intelligent as the presentation of the rest of his characters. He tells the story so powerfully, while not saying all too much. And that, for me, is a truely unthinkable indication of a filmmaker with extraordinary talent.

The mysteries and boundaries that Donnie Darko pushes are absorbing, unique and quite frankly mesmerizing. Even as the film concludes we are left with several mysteries open, and although as seemingly insignificant as they are they feel vital to the plot. And that’s one of the films true powers. These riveting and classy methods of keeping the mysteries hidden are a fantastic technique for the film to continue infiltrating the mind of the audience even after the credits roll.

The soundtrack is nothing short of incredible too. For people that grew up in the 80’s, this is an extraordinary way to bring back those memories of childhood and the music that was produced in that decade. Featured in the soundtrack are Echo & the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears and INXS. But what is more significant to me is the inclusion of Joy Division’s poetic masterpiece ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. This is the film that introduced me to this song, and I can’t express my gratitude enough to it simply for the inclusion of that 3 and a half minutes of romance and pain. Joy Division are now one of my all-time favourite bands. All of the soundtrack possesses that power and the mood and tension of the film fits the soundtrack like a glove.

The director’s cut adds several valid scenes and tones to the film, even with the slightest of things, namely the title cards showing the contents of the Philosophy of Time Travel book. It adds a whole new darkness and meaning to the film that for decades and decades will surely tremble and move the audience in hundreds of different ways.

I first saw Donnie Darko about a year after it’s release when my older brother bought it. At that first viewing at just under ten, I was hooked, mesmerized and transcended into Richard Kelly’s unique and poetic method of storytelling. And every time that I rewatch it, it still sends shivers up my spine and the conclusion still shocks and grabs my attention even for that brief moment.

100/100

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This is an interesting character study because it never really delves into the mind of the character, and instead leaves the audience with mystery throughout. Elia Kazan is a director that has long been recognised for creating honest and unbiased films. His 1954 masterpiece; On The Waterfront is one of the most sacred and honest depictions of life I have ever seen. The Last Tycoon comes very, very close to that and it’s probably Robert De Niro’s heart-wrenching portrayal of a man we appear to know nothing about, except his area of work.

The film features several astounding moments. The most notable being the showdown between De Niro and another movie legend Jack Nicholson. Just watching that scene gives me more than enough reason to watch it.

Kazan’s writing is also pitch-perfect and the apparent slow pace of the film is non-existent. A very, very good film.

85/100

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I absolutely loathed this on a first viewing, and while I didn’t love it second time round, I can acknowledge the love that people have for it. Not ‘the scariest film ever made’ as most deem it to be, but there is definitely something in it for every film fan.

The atmosphere is pitch perfect, but the events that the almighty suspense lead up to just don’t make me happy with satisfaction.

The cast also do brilliant jobs in their quite limited and thinly written characters and any chance to see Max Von Sydow at work is more than enough reason for my to sit through it, albeit it for his limited screen time.

Not a great film, but something everyone should see.

40/100

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As a precursor to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic of the same name, there’s always going to be a lot to live up to. Carpenter’s classic is one of the most terrifying treats in the history of cinema. This updated version does itself justice, but that doesn’t mean that there is a reason for it to exist in any way, shape or form. It’s too parallel to the original and the similarities are too easy to spot. There is a lot to admire in Matthijs van Heijningen Jr’s remodelling of a culturally historic masterpiece.

The way I see it is that if you go into it considering it as a stand-alone horror then you will most likely enjoy it, but the comparisons that you notice are just too similar to avoid, which turned out to be a distraction for me. Saying that, I did find a lot in it to be enjoyed such as the irresistible and beautiful Mary Elizabeth Winsted taking on a very muscular role which draws extensive comparisons to the character of Kurt Russell’s character in the original but that doesn’t bother me one bit.

The CGI effects in The Thing are extraordinary and it’s wonderful to see how far gory effects have come over the years, but I just feel that they are too ‘’centre-stage’’ and take away from the true horror that should exist in a film such as this. To be honest, it’s not very scary in the slightest but it can be a lot of fun. Enjoy it for that, and not as a highly similar prequel to a classic that it is.

73/100