Monthly Archives: July 2011

Midnight Cowboy

I finally watched Midnight Cowboy. It’s one of those films your supposed to watch if you like films not movies. I’m sure I’ll get bashed and catch a lot of shit for this, but I didn’t really care for Midnight Cowboy. There were things in it that are exceptional, but overall it just didn’t strike me as being the best movie ever or something that I have a desire to watch, though that last bit may be due more to how depressing this movie is.

The acting is great by John Voight and even more so by Dustin Hoffman. They both deserved the Oscar nominations they got. Don’t know about how they are compared to John Wayne in True Grit since everybody here was top form. All the praise you here about these two men in this film is spot on though and that is exactly why you should watch the movie. Those two character are interesting and the acting is great.

A lot of the cinematography was really neat to see as well. I loved how well New York was captured. It’s easier to make a something look nice and shiny than truly dark and gritty.

The writing was ok. I guess when you look at the characters and dialogue than yes that was really good, but overall I suppose I wasn’t entirely impressed. The story is fascinating and there’s a lot to pay attention to. I guess this is where the directing bothered me and where some fo the 60s film techniques bugged the hell out of me.

I hate the attempts to capture people getting high or tripping in film. It’s always crap and runs to long. Fuck Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy for that alone. I can’t stand it and it ruins good movies. Maybe if I got really high I might enjoy those scenes, but I’d probably scare the shit out of myself instead.

I didn’t really care for the constant flashbacks trying to explain John Voight’s character either. I didn’t think they did a great job at explaining what happened to him and at times they were inserted in places that didn’t seem to fit.

There are other little things, but I guess that’s what put me off. Just a number of little things that I just didn’t care for. That and I feel like a lot of the movie is dated, not that it is entirely bad. More that this means an older audience will probably enjoy this more. It was a big deal that this was X-Rated, yet to a generation such as mine, this movie hardly deserves an X-Rating.

It is a really good movie, but it just isn’t my cup of tea for whatever reason. It reminds me of my feelings for Easy Rider. A lot of it, especially the beginning, is phenomenal and I loved most of that and the performances were great. Yet at a certain point the film gets a bit odd and it just puts me off and ruins the earlier part of the film. Watch it for yourself though and decide on your own.

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Pale Rider

How many westerns has Clint Eastwood been in?

Anywho, I enjoyed the Pale Rider. Some people should be able to pick up the biblical reference right away. There are also some similarities to some classic western films, but I feel like all westerns are like that.

This isn’t Eastwood’s greatest film, nor his greatest western. He still however turns out a good performance, even if the character is unsurprisingly similar to past and future roles. The man has his niche and plays it well. I also enjoyed Michael Moriarty’s performance as well and Richard Kiel was given a nice little slot.

Not a spectacular western, but still a solid film. It’s probably suited more towards a younger audience and by that I mean people who didn’t grow up with John Wayne being a God. It’s a more modern looking film as far as production quality and whatnot so that will please people not familiar with westerns and may serve as a nice gateway. Defiantly a film worth watching.

Sword of the Valiant

I have some post waiting to happen. Been a long week.

So I often watch movies based solely on who is in them or who made them. Hell sometimes I’ll watch a movie because of the composer. In this case I saw it listed as a Connery film and decided to see what exactly the hell it was.

Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Greent Knight is based off some mythology and folk tales/legends. I’m not overtly familiar with any of it so who knows how much of that it captures. The movie is however awesomely bad. It’s one of those flicks you watch and go, “Holly heart-attack, this blows. Yet, I can’t stop watching and enjoying myself.”

Some of the acting is actually quite good, however the main cast pretty much sucked.  An example are Peter Cushing and John Rhys-Davies. Both have small parts, but actually give good performances, while Sir Gawain (played by Miles O’Keefe) gives a less than stellar performance. Also note that Sean Connery really only has a small part and makes brief appearances here and there. Still, it’s Sean Fucking Connery and I loved the little bit he was in of it sort of like Robin Hood or Time Bandits.

I was also a bit, erhmm, under the influence of some certain earthly things so maybe that aided in my enjoyment of the film. As bizarre and horrible as it is at times, it’s worth watching if you’re a Connery fan or incapacitated.

True Grit (1969 & 2010)

So I finally watched the 1969 version of True Grit starring John Wayne. Afterwards I couldn’t resist the urge to re-watch the 2010 version. This is sort of a comparison of the two and there are spoilers. You’ve be forewarned.

So I really enjoyed the 1969 version. It is a really nice western. I thought the story was well written and everything panned out pretty good. I also though John Wayne was pretty fucking good as Cogburn.

The 2010 remake was really good as well. Again the story was well down and it is a lovely western, especially for our time period. As stand alone films both are excellent and worth watching.

So to compare the two. TheCoenBrothers automatically get a nice bump up for the score. I honestly don’t remember the score from either film that well, but I remember the use of it in the 2010 version. THe score did a wonderful job at highlighting some great moments in the film and I just don’t remember that at all in the ’69 version.

The cinematography is gorgeous in the 2010 version as well. Everything just looked beautiful. It was also nice to see some accurate landscaping, but that’s really nitpicking. Same with getting night shots. Still the 2010 film visually is far superior to me, but I suppose some of that has to do with our technology now, but not much. There are some beautiful films that are quite old.

Now to the cast and I’ll just get the John Wayne vs Jeff Bridges thing over with. I prefer Jeff Bridges. I’m biased, because I’ve grown up with Bridges work and love that man. John Wayne is someone I’m not that familiar with. I’ve seen some of his films and like him, but I’m not a die-hard fan of him. Both actors are great here though and put in probably some of their finest performances. I think both actors probably deserved their Oscar nominations and of course a lot of that has to do with the character. It’s a great character and both versions were written well. That and Bridges had Wayne’s performance to be able to draw from which is kinda why I like him more. You can see where he picked up some stuff from Wayne, but he did a wonderful job adding in his own bits (that or the Coens wrote some of it in).

The supporting cast was better in the new film as well to me. Matt Damon easily beats out Glen Campbell as LeBoeuf. Unfortunately I didn’t like how LeBoeuf was written out in his version. They didn’t really give Damon a lot to work with. Still, he had the better performance.

Hailee Steinfeld is easily better than Kim Darby. I didn’t really care for Darby at all and Steinfeld just blew her out of the water. Really no contest there.

Robert Duvall was ok as Ned Pepper. Barry Pepper (yes that is his last name ironically enough) was pretty good as Pepper as well. Both had their moments, but neither was really any better than the other. It would have been nice to meld their performances actually.

I liked Josh Brolin’s version of Chaney. He got a bit gruff and had a lovely menacing moment before he tries to kill Mattie. Jeff Corey just didn’t seem threatening at all.

The 1969 version had a great performance by Dennis Hopper. It’s small, but he did a great job.

I suppose the only thing left is to look at the writing in the story and overall structure. Apparently the Coen brothers choose to follow the book more. I’ve never read the book and have no real idea. What I’ve gathered whoever is that they did follow the book more and did a good job of it. Who knows. Of course the Coen’s add their trademark dark humor in little corners of the film which is a plus.

Both movies had their ups and downs. I disliked how little character development there was in the Coen brothers version. You get little snippets about Cogburn from Bridges, but it’s hard to hear for one, because he mumbles and they are walking and doing other stuff. That and it’s divided up and kinda randomly thrown in. The ’69 version has a lovely section towards the beginning of the film where Cogburn is sitting with Chen Lee playing cards and whatnot. You get a better feel of Cogburn and Mattie in those early scenes. Same with LeBoeuf. I also liked how LeBoeuf stays with Cogburn and Mattie in the ’69 version. I thought Damon got screwed when they had him run off. I guess the trade was that he gets to live which was a better choice. One of the big differences is having Mattie narrate the film. Definitely a bonus and works really well.

I can’t decide which ending I like better. Both work for their version of the film though. The Coen’s was darker and the ending fit.

In the end I still like the Coen brothers version more, but the original is still a good film and worth seeing. I suppose older audiences or more die-hard western fans will enjoy the ’69 version more, but for younger audiences or those who like a bit more grit in their films, will probably enjoy the 2010 version. I advise seeing both and owning at least one of them.

Saving Grace

I’m a big fan of Craig Ferguson. I enjoy his stand up work as well as a few of the movies that I’ve seen him in. I also love his show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. That is essentially why I saw this film.

So if you’ve seen Waking Ned Devine, Saving Grace is sort of like that. It’s a similar style of comedy I guess or at least there seem to be some commonalities. Essentially an older middle-aged lady looses her husband and is left with a huge debt. Her gardener (Ferguson) who is a crap gardener ends up seeking her help with some “hemp” plants that he’s been trying to grow and thus stuff ensues. Easy enough to figure out where the jokes will probably come. I enjoyed it though.

Brenda Blethyn is Grace and she is really good and Craig Ferguson is swell as well. Really most of the cast does a nice job and there is even a small appearance by Bill Bailey as a drug dealer. One of my favorite performances was from two older ladies who end up getting high unknown. It’s incredibly funny and that scene is worth watching the entire movie for.

I guess it’s kind of a British stoner comedy, but not exactly. It is really good though and defiantly worth watching if you like stoner films or are a bit of an anglophile such as myself.

Stagecoach

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of westerns. I enjoy some of them, but not all. I’m more of a fan of some of the westerns depending on who is in them and some of the westerns that probably aren’t considered true westerns by some die hard fans.

So I enjoyed Stagecoach. Being as I’m not a fanatic for westerns I don’t feel right saying it was amazing, but it was pretty damn good. I felt like my interest started to wane towards the end though. It was a long hot day so that may be part of the problem there.

My favorite thing about the film was the cast. John Wayne is John Wayne. I don’t feel like much of an explanation is needed for him. He does a good job. Andy Devine was really good and I feel slightly ashamed admitting this, but I instantly recognized his voice as Friar Tuck from the Disney version of Robin Hood. I had a hard time getting that out of my head, but he is a good actor. Thomas Mitchell was pretty good as the doctor as well. Actually the cast seemed to make this kind of a light hearted film for a while which from my limited western knowledge doesn’t usually seem to be the case.

It’s a pretty well known western and with John Ford directing in addition to John Wayne you should probably enjoy it. Defiantly not a bad western to try if you aren’t all that familiar with the genre.

Giant

So James Dean is pretty well known for his three main film roles. I’ve seen Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden, but until today I’ve never gotten around to sittin down ad enjoying the sprawling epic that is Giant. Part of that has to do with the movies running time of three and a half hours. I can sit through a movie that long. I’ve done movie marathons much longer than that, but it just seems like such a long time to devote to one movie. Since it’s well into the nineties here I decided to take the day off, sit in my not so cool room, make some cool beverages, and turned on Giant.

It’s a really good movie. As I mentioned though it is long, so if you have a hard time through movie like Lord of the Rings you will probably struggle with this. Giant isn’t exactly action packed and it lacks orcs and Hobbits. Unlike some older movies with long running times (like Ben-Hur) there is no intermission in this film. There are a number of spots where you can easily take a break and not interrupt the flow of the movie.

The movie is set up to cover the lives of Eizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson on their cattle ranch in Texas. James Dean is in this movie, however he does not the star or focus of the film. He’s basically the biggest side character if that. Don’t expect to see him the entire film, because compared to the running time he isn’t in it a whole lot. Still all three stars are great in this film and I thought the supporting cast was great as well. A lot of really good performances by people who were only in the film for a couple of minutes. A young Dennis Hopper gives out a nice performance as well.

The movies looks stunning as well. Part of that is the chosen landscape. It actually reminded me a bit of Days of Heaven (which looks better in my opinion), especially the shots of the ranch. Not sure how accurate that is though since it’s been a while since I’ve seen it.

It’s a nice look at a certain lifestyle, especially at how oil came to be such a huge part of Texas. There’s also some lovely dealings with racism between Texans and Mexicans. James Dean’s character is actually really interesting if you follow him throughout the movie. There are a lot of little things to think about in the film, which helps make the length seem less overwhelming.

Defiantly a great movie and it’s one of three James Dean films so you better watch for that reason at least.

“We’ve all become God’s madmen, all of us.”


For one of my college classes we are reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In comparison with reading the book we also watched Francis Ford Coppola’s take on adapting the book to the big screen.

First let me state that I am not a fan of horror films, so I wasn’t exactly eager to watch this. On the other hand I love Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman as well as fan of Coppola. That being said that’s pretty much the only thing that made me like this movie.

I get that this was made in the early 90’s and that using some of the technology back than was a big deal. Sadly I think Coppola went a bit overboard. Bits and pieces were neat at first, but it got a little out of hand. I felt like Coppola wanted to make a romance film out of Dracula, which I understand. But the novel was considered a ‘horror’ novel and to live up to the myth that Stoker created Coppola seemed to randomly throw some cliché horror scenes to appease that audience. I didn’t really feel like he was all that interested in the ‘horror’ aspect of the story and it really shows in the film.

So to the romance plot now. It works. As far as Stoker’s story, it’s not really there, but Coppola makes it work, though again he throws in some clichés which are annoying. One thing Coppola did get right on this end though is the sex. Dracula and vampires in general are supposed to be these insane sex symbols and Coppola really runs with that. If there is a chance to add more sex to the film, than he does it. In some instances it’s a bit creepy and not all that erotic (the wolfman anyone?). Than of course you have that beautiful scene with Dracula and Mina finally making that “marriage/connection” which is shot beautifully.

For me though two things made this movie worth the watch. Hopkins and Oldman. Keanu Reeves is a joke in this film to be honest and I’m not saying that because I’m one of those people who loves bashing him all the time. I actually like Keanu at times, but this defiantly wasn’t one of them. Winona Ryder wasn’t all that great either. I guess I’m biased by the books portrayal of Mina being a much stronger character. She didn’t give a bad performance like Keanu, but it wasn’t all that great and gain Hopkins and Oldman really own the movie. Tom Waits should get a mention here as well. He actually has a rather important role and does an amazing job with it. I think he was just shy of really hitting the character on the mark though, since Renfield is a very interesting character.

So to the two main actors in my opinion. Anthony Hopkins is Van Helsing. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role now that I’ve seen him and he really does a phenomenal job. I mean honestly, Sir Hopkins is amazing in pretty much everything that I’ve seen him in and thinking about it now, the fact that Van Helsing is a bit ‘eccentric’ really plays into Hopkins strength. To move on Oldman does a phenomenal job as Dracula in all shapes and sizes. Personally I think some of his best bits are at the beginning when he is the ‘old man’ Dracula. He does an amazing job at being that creepy guy.

Another great aspect of this film was the costuming/makeup. The work done for the many forms of Dracula seems to be the most notable and it is all done amazingly well. My only complaint with this is the “young” Dracula. To me he looked like Slash and knowing Oldman played Sid vicious I couldn’t get that thought out of my head. On the other hand though, that actually plays amazingly well to the role of Dracula and his being a sex object. I personally found it odd that Lucy would dress so in that particular nightie, but it works to show off her tits and again the emphasizes the sex in the film. Same with Mina actually.

While flawed in ways that seem unfitting for someone of Coppola’s caliber, the film is still a good film for any Dracula/vampire fans, especially in this day in age. With the sudden popularity of shit like Twilight and True Blood than the highly sexual overtly romantic vampire film Coppola created would probably do well with a modern audience.

Rabbit-Proof Fence

I finally got around to watching Rabbit-Proof Fence. Initially I was postponing it because I was lead to believe that it was quite depressing. It really isn’t. Well, it is, but it is more of a huzzah! movie where the protagonists triumph after some really shitty stuff.

The movie is about the “stolen generation” in Australia. Basically deals with the Aboriginals being controlled by the government and mistreated. It’s supposed to be based on a  true story, but these things are always debated so who knows how much of this story is true. The basis of the shitty stuff though is real.

The historical stuff is what makes it depressing. This kinda thing has been going on still/till quite recently. The movie is pretty depressing at the beginning when the three “half-casts” are taken. They basically get taken to a reform center to become more “white” and they escape to head home via traveling across the outback (maybe not officially the outback, but it is some really nasty terrain). The three girls are sisters and the oldest one is fourteen. Personally the idea of traveling that kind of distance is not so appealing especially considering where they are going to be “hiking.” Australia also has some really nasty critters that would scare the jabezuss outta me so the fact that these girls go on this hike home is amazing and is what makes the movie less depressing.

The cast is pretty good, especially the three girls. It’s a really nice movie to watch. It’s not that long either so it is defiantly manageable and worth the short watch.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

They don’t make disaster movies any more. At least I’m not aware of any good disaster films. To me Airport, The Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure are amazing disaster films that came out in the 70s and were great films. Unfortunately I feel like audiences may not be into these kind of films anymore. That and they would probably be laden with CGI effects that would take away from the power these films had in the 70s.

The Poseidon Adventure is a great disaster flick, but being a disaster flick it isn’t going to be anyone’s favorite film. It shouldn’t be ignored. The visual and special effects are great, especially since this is the early 70s. The story may be nothing overtly special, but there is enough there to propel the film forward.

The cast are amazing though. I mean Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine are great as is the rest of the cast. I can’t really complain about any of the acting or anything else for that matter.

A wonderful movie to just sit and chill out and enjoy the sheer spectacle of it. I wish I could have seen it in theaters or hell it would be neat to see it now in something like IMAX.

Not the most amazing movie and it has it’s flaws, but defiantly a great disaster film. Definitely needs to be watch by fans of 70s cinema.

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