Movie Reviews

For some reason it’s hard for me to write movie reviews. I want to post as many as I can to this page for all of you to read. However at the same time I feel like my reviews would be too cliche of a reading for people that like the movie I’m reviewing.  So I am trying to edit the ones I have written now, and making sure my sometimes humorous commentary is all there. It won’t always be super critical, unless I personally dislike the picture and really want to just rant on it. If I get really into it, I always feel people are going to start arguing over what I say, so I may have to disable comments in case elitist trolls come in to defend their opinions.

Well anyway, as far as movie reviews on this page go, I wanted to put up my review of every Martin Scorsese film in honor of Taxi Driver‘s 40th anniversary. However, time has passed, and I am not done all the reviews. Its more like New York, New York‘s 40th anniversary at this point :\ They will be coming soon, I am up to his 90’s movies at the moment. But if I post each movie of his one at a time and not all at once, this may work.
I still haven’t seen Vinyl Season 1 pilot yet, or Silence. So I still got ways to go yet.
Keep checking back!

D. D. Bauchery

40 years ago

For those who don’t know, Taxi Driver is one of my favorite movies ever. I wanted to write a retrospective for it, but haven’t gotten it done in time, obviously. I originally wanted to write reviews for EVERY Martin Scorsese movie, but haven’t finished yet. The Taxi Driver Retrospective will be up soon though I promise! And it may be in a few parts, because I have a lot to say about my favorite movie 🙂

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Blackmail

Blackmail (1929)
*****
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Anny Ondra, John Longden, Sara Allgood

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30 years before Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock broke down barriers with this infamous, groundbreaking film. Not only is it his first talkie, it’s also the first talkie to come out of Great Britain. Also it is probably the first film with voices to show this kind of subject matter. There is a lot of spoilers in this review, so be advised.
The movie starts like a silent movie because originally it was filmed as a silent movie, and then re-shot with the voices when the decision was made for the audio. So the first 5 minutes of the film are silent. We see the police arrest a man and we do not know why or what for. You first hear talking at the police station (Scotland Yard). The film then gets to the main story.
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A young policeman and his girlfriend go out for a dinner together at an expensive-looking restaurant. The girlfriend doesn’t seem too interested in her cop boyfriend. They have a brief argument about going to the movies after the dinner. She doesn’t want to, because is secretly meeting a guy behind his back after the dinner.
They go their own ways, and she meets up with the guy. He is an artist and has his own studio. He shows her his disturbing looking painting, and then she dresses up for him while he plays piano. He begins to advance on her, and attempts to rape her. She stabs and kills him. The look on her face is that of pure horror. It is a very intense moment in the movie. She makes it back home leaving behind some clues, and she can’t get her mind off the murder.


Her boyfriend ends up being the detective investigating the murder. A guy who was nearby the crime scene (and the subject of the disturbing painting), saw her that night going in and out of the building. He attempts to blackmail. However, his criminal record isn’t very good. He is chased by police, and found guilty of the murder. He falls to his death.
By the end the girl is indirectly responsible for 2 deaths, and she gets away with it.

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I thought Anny Ondra (who looks very beautiful) did a very good performance considering she had done both silent and sound work. I also think her dubbing was perfect. I had no idea they had to get an English actress to do her voice over because of her heavy Czech accent.
As I said earlier, this movie was definitely a landmark in movie history. It is a very important film in Hitchcock’s filmography as well. Like a couple of his silent pictures before, and the ones that would follow afterward, there are many Hitchcockian traits – a pretty blonde, a murder, someone falsely accused or framed, and an ending that is sometimes unsettling. It is absolutely brilliant work that laid the foundation of future Hitchcock suspense thrillers to come. Anyone that is trying to get into the world of Hitchcock and his great movies, I highly recommend seeing this.

In Memorium: Wes Craven

Wes Craven: Horror Maestro
(1939-2015)

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As you all know by now, one of the horror greats has died. Upon hearing of his passing not long ago, I felt the need to do something in writing of my thoughts and feelings for his films. It won’t be all of them, but a selection I have chosen. This is the man who brought us Freddy Krueger, and the man who reinvented the genre with the Scream movies. He also kept in the genre his whole entire career (with the exception of one movie), and explored all sorts of horror within the horror!

My favorite films of his were:
The Last House on The Left (1972)
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Swamp Thing (1982)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Serpent & The Rainbow (1987)
Shocker (1989)
The People Under the Stairs (1991)

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Now of course there were many others, but those in particular were the ones I was highly entertained watching. Some others include The Hills Have Eyes Part II (super cheese), Vampire in Brooklyn (Eddie Murphy as a vampire whaaat?), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (the reinvention of Freddy for which I always had mixed feelings for), and the Scream series (1 through 4). Sometime in the late 1990s during his Scream regime, he made only one non-horror called Music of the Heart. Believe it or not that film got nominated for Best Actress Meryl Streep. It’s proof that Wes had potential for a lot more in movies as well!

His later stuff kind of died down. He made a werewolf movie called Cursed that was cheesy but a little fun, but everyone forgot about it. He also made Red Eye with Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. I never got around to seeing it, but it looked decent. He made Scream 4 not long before he died. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing that yet, but I am sure it is just as entertaining as the others.

For the movies I will go over about him, I have selected:
Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent & the Rainbow, and Scream.

The Last House on the Left (1972)

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I must say that this is one hell of a notorious movie and an interesting start to Wes’s career in horror.
In the early 1970s, there hadn’t really been any slasher movies at all. It wasn’t even a genre yet. All you really had prior to this movie were Psycho, Blood Feast, and Murder a La Mod that explored those themes.
When I first saw this, I was forewarned by others about what would happen. 2 cute young girls, Mari and Phyllis, decide to go out to a Blood Lust concert (cool, Metal-sounding name!) for Mari’s 17th birthday. On the way, they ignore the radio news talking about the escaped convicts and decide to pick up some weed. They are in the city and come across a burned-out dude who says he’s got good shit, and then leads them to the Manson-like group of sadists. From this point on, it gets really ugly. The leader of the group, Krug, along with his sick cronies, rapes, humiliates and tortures the girls from the night until the next day.
Meanwhile, Mari’s parents are concerned and 2 dimwitted cops go on a search to find her. The movie begins to feel bi-polar at this point – switching from a stilly comedy to terrifying scenes of horror. After another rape, and a death, this sad song plays (sang by David Hess who plays Krug), and the viewer just feels horrified at what just happened.
Now the killers’ car has broken down right at Mari’s house, but they don’t realize it. The parents think they are traveling business people, and let them stay the night. The parents figure out who they are, and soon set up a Home Alone-style trap to get total revenge on them. By the end, the parents are even more brutal to the killers than they were to the girls!
This movie leaves you shocked (and to this day will still shock people). The movie explores dark themes, and an extreme amount of unpleasantness that no other movie at that time ever did. What makes it worse is that it’s not fake and unrealistic like most horror movies with monsters, zombies, and supernatural serial killers. These are things that happen in real life that sick people really do to the vulnerable, and STILL DO. So because of that, this film will remain timeless for that reason. While it bombed as a movie, it still stands as a movie that left a huge scar in the genre and a stepping stone to the later horror that would ensue a year later in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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Wes’s second movie takes us out to the southwest United States. It starts out in a seedy, hick-town where a family traveling through in an RV breaks down in the desert. Earlier, we are forewarned that there are strange people in town, so you know something isn’t going to turn out so good.
When they break down in the desert, the dog runs away, and the dad and son-in-law try to look for help. Soon you realize, they are purposely being watched by these ugly cretins that live in the hills. They kill the dad, attack the family, and I am pretty sure they rape one of the girls, and then steal the baby.
The son-in-law goes on a quest to save the baby, and confronts more of the cretins, who plan on eating the baby. Things get really ugly at the end. Again, like in Last House, you are left with the impression “Holy shit, that was so fucked up!”
Now of course also like Last House, this film was re-made. So when you bring this film up in a conversation these days, the remake will be mentioned and you’ll hear a lot of “Oh I never saw the original”. Believe it or not, I saw the remake first. I thought it was really good, and then I saw the original. I still think this is great, even if it is a little slow-moving at first. It’s a horror classic that people who love the genre need to see if they already haven’t.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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I don’t really need to explain a whole lot with this film other than that this is where it all started. Freddy Krueger is first introduced in this Slasher classic. But unlike other slashers, this guy will kill you in your dreams; which is what gives this film originality among the others.
The dream sequences, to this day are still creepy to me. And unlike the later Nightmare movies, Freddy actually was a scary dude. There aren’t really many boring filler moments like the Slashers before it did. You are kept in close with the main characters, wondering what is going to happen next.
The cast in this film is very good. We got Robert Englund of course in the iconic role of Freddy, the lovely Heather Langenkamp playing Nancy, and John Saxon playing Nancy’s dad. We are also introduced to a very young Johnny Depp, playing Nancy’s skeptical boyfriend, Glen. The deaths are very brutal even compared to the deaths in the sequels. The suspense and creative dream sequences are the highlights of this film. This created a big franchise and deservedly so.
He didn’t direct any of the sequels except for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which brought along a new idea that Freddy is really real, not just a film franchise. It was an interesting concept and I remember enjoying the movie when I first saw it. However, over the years, watching it again on my Freddy binges, I don’t feel the same way. While it is great to see the original cast in this movie, I feel it contains some annoying elements to it that bother me at times, and I felt it was way too long. But the concept worked nicely, and lies as a precursor to Scream.

The Serpent & the Rainbow (1987)

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Wes takes us to new horror territory with this film. A young anthropologist (played very well by a young Bill Pullman) is doing some research in Haiti, where zombie-ism (the real life kind through voodoo) occurs. He gets too close. The tribe attacks him and hammers a nail through his scrotum (a very hard scene to watch). But it gets even creepier, when he gets buried alive and becomes a zombie himself…
Now I am very vague with the plot of this film because I saw this one time and can’t remember every detail. But I will say, like the other movies, it left a creepy impression on me when it ended. I would say it’s definitely one of Wes’s scarier films.
Besides that cheesy Tales From The Crypt movie The Curse, not many other films dwelled on this territory. Does this count as a zombie movie? It is hard to say; because this is based on tribes that do this kind of stuff.
I felt this was a bit underrated because it didn’t succeed at the box office or have a cult-following. So to people that are checking out Wes’s other movies that weren’t famous, please see this! It’s a real gem.

SCREAM (1996)

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For years, I had problems with the movie Scream. The first time I saw it, I was disappointed. I saw it as a spoof of slasher movies (the ones that I held dear), then a real slasher film. Kids my age of that era (1996-2000, 11-15 year olds) saw them as “scary movies” and that they were the greatest, the real deal, and better than the older “shitty ones”. By then, I had been obsessed with my favorite slasher series- Jason, Michael, Freddy, Leatherface, Chucky, Pinhead, etc. So to me, the addition of Ghostface was a joke (that Halloween mask you see at the store every year? Give me a break!) It was followed by I Know What You Did Last Summer, and countless others with famous “late 90s teen heartthrobs” stars in the cast. So again, to me it was like watching Dawson’s Creek with a Slasher movie parody. What a joke! When Scary Movie came out to spoof it, I was glad.
However, years went by, and that style of horror died down. I grew more of an acceptance to the series. I gave the Trilogy a re-watching, and it began to dawn on me that even though I thought they were bad at the time of my “horror elitism”, they weren’t actually THAT bad. They were still entertaining, definitely had some humor thrown in, and the kills were still bloody as ever. But I didn’t think of them in the same realm as my old favorites.
I also came to the realization that Wes did something that no other horror director (especially an old school one) did at that time. He brought it back into the pop culture when it was a dying genre. If you look at the movies before Scream, not all of them were very good, franchises and B-Horror were going direct-to-video and people my age of course would forget about the good movies of the horror past. So Scream brought it all back, and made horror movies fun to see again for my “bored” generation that didn’t want to see the older flicks.
That being said, I give Wes Craven mad props.

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It is sad to say the Master of Horror is now gone. He will be missed by horror movie fans all over the world. His Horror legend will live on for many, many years. I am glad he has quite a huge filmography to choose from.
I honestly can’t think of another director that could fill his shoes at the moment.
Let us hope one day someone new (who is creative and original) will come along to bring us more Horror movies.

Midnight Cowboy

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Midnight Cowboy (1969)
****

Directed by John Schlesinger
Starring: Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman


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I’ve come across the title for this movie many, many times, and it took me a long time until I decided to finally watch it. I always appreciated older movies that were cutting edge for their time of release. When I read this was originally Rated X, I had to see what the big fuss was about.
The story is about a dishwasher from Texas named Joe (played by a very young Jon Voight), who leaves to go to New York, dressed in his cowboy-getup. His plan is to bang a lot of women, and get paid for it – in other words, be a straight-up hustlin’ gigolo. Of course, things don’t work out so good for him once he gets to the Big Apple. He walks around with his transistor radio, and picks up on women, and only one follows through, and in the end he ends up paying her!
While down on his luck, he comes across a guy named Rico Rizzo (a.k.a. Ratzo, played very well by Dustin Hoffman), who is a street rat and knows the city very well. Joe thinks he can help him out, but totally burns him when he introduces him to a very shady pimp. Joe tries to get back at Rizzo but ends up befriending him and staying at squat in a very dumpy tenement.
Joe’s character has a lot of flashbacks of his past that are very disturbing, and in a way, kind of explains why he is the way he is. On the other hand, we don’t know much about Ratzo Rizzo, other than that he is street-smart, but very poor and sick. Their big escape plan goal is to get to Florida and start a new life. They do eventually leave New York, but before they do, Joe pulls a very bad stunt that could have him be put to jail for life.
I didn’t want to give away too much about the story, but I kind of did. I did enjoy the film, kept my eyes glued to the screen because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The acting was really great by both (then young) stars. It was an interesting take that most movies back at that time didn’t have. It really shows the seedy, grim side of New York’s 42nd Street/Broadway Life back in its ugly hey-day. It also explores dark themes that other movies DEFINITELY did not show in those days such as male prostitution, and the sick low-lives living around that particular environment.
What also fascinates me is that this won an Academy Award, and the only movie ever Rated X to do so. It’s also interesting to note that this was also done by the same director that would later bring us another dark, gritty New York film, Marathon Man. Anyone into old school movies like me, or at least appreciates older movies that were cutting edge for their time, should see this!

Birdman

I was actually fairly shocked that I enjoyed this film. I don’t want to give out spoilers to people who haven’t seen it yet. But let’s just say I was in for a surprise. I’ve always loved Michael Keaton as an actor, so I figured this would probably be a decent film. After all, it did win for Best Picture. After seeing the trailer, my thinking was that it had to do with a guy who played in a superhero franchise, now getting old and wants to revive his career, but in the process he goes nuts. I was right, but not totally right. It’s different than that.


Basically, this guy Riggan is trying to revive his career with a play on Broadway that is full of issues. This includes the actors he has to deal with, one of them being Edward Norton. He plays a guy named Michael Shiner, and is extremely difficult to work with, and is a major pain in the ass. He also had a former fling with one of the actresses in the play, and is hitting on Riggan’s daughter played by Emma Stone. I won’t go into too much more detail about it, but it continues on and you wonder what is going to happen next. Is the play going to succeed with all the madness around him? Will he ever bring back Birdman who is constantly talking to him but you can’t tell if its his subconscious? I will leave it up to you readers to watch it, but the last half hour was very surprising in the turn of events and kept me glued to the screen.

The ending was great. The whole film has the dark comedy feel to it, but it works with the dramatics as well, because they feel real with the characters even if they are “just acting”. And I never thought about how hard careers must be for actors, directors, and people involved in plays and film. They are effected really hard emotionally from critics and the media. You can clearly see that aspect of the career portrayed in this film. I can see why it won for both Best Picture and Director.


Alejandro Iñárritu is a new, facinating director of whom his future works I would like to look into. He uses a lot of long shots that were terrific, and well timed. There is also a lot of long hallways in the theater and very colorful lights in the Times Square scenes. And the use of mirror images, which I thought was also creative, worked really well.


Overall, a great picture. I don’t normally enjoy new films too much, but I highly recommend that people who appreciate film see this. I also can’t wait to watch it again some time in the near future.