Archives for posts with tag: 1997

Omar: 5 out of 5

Before I start this review I gotta give a shout-out to Liz because in less than an hour from now we’ll have been dating for 2 years and 2 months. Time flies! Even if it weren’t a special occasion I would have to give her some recognition for recommending this EXCELLENT movie from one of my all-time favorite directors. Paul Thomas-Anderson’s Boogie Nights took my breath away repeatedly and dealt with a subject that I haven’t seen all that much about in film.

P.T. Anderson is an American screenwriter, producer, and director from Studio City, California, known most recently for his adaptation of Inherent Vice (2014). I originally found out about him back in high school when he released the oscar-winning There Will Be Blood (2007). After falling madly in love with the guy’s clear talent, originality, and attention to detail I went on to closely follow his career and watch some of his older works. Despite not liking some of his works (Punch-Drunk Love) and not entirely understanding others (The Master), I’ve continued to admire his vision and ambition. The dude has talent! I always felt that it would take a great effort for him to top There Will Be Blood as my favorite movie of his but the whole time Boogie Nights lingered in the shadows. Boogie Nights, a movie I hadn’t watched that really makes it hard now for me to say what my favorite PT Anderson movie is.

Hey! Here's a pic I snapped of P.T. Anderson and Amy Adams at the 2013 Santa Barbara Film Festival!

Hey! Here’s a pic I snapped of P.T. Anderson and Amy Adams at the 2013 Santa Barbara Film Festival! Sorry for the potato quality, phones weren’t as advanced way back then.

On to the review you’re all hopefully dying to read! BN is the story of the 1970’s Golden Era of Porn, following the lives of porn’s biggest director, Jack Horner, along with many of porn’s biggest stars. This is definitely up there as one of the most star-studded casts I’ve ever seen! Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, and more all star in this film with a young looking Marky Mark taking center stage. Like I said, so star-studded it’s basically a self-sustaining galaxy. And I have to pause here for a second to mention a “joke” I have about Julianne Moore. Is it just me or is sweet Julianne naked and/or making luurrve in almost all her movies? Seriously! The Kids Are Alright, Boogie Nights, Chloe, The Big Lebowski and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. If a movie these days calls for a more mature woman in a nude or sexual position I automatically assume its Julianne Moore and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

But back to the review. As I was saying, this movie is about the Golden Age of Porn. The basic setup is that Eddie Adams (Wahlberg) is an energetic 17-year old with an unusual gift (a giant penis), working at an L.A. nightclub. One night, big-time porn director Jack Horner (Reynolds) spots Eddie and is immediately taken by him. After some convincing and aiding from Eddie’s family woes, Eddie decides to take up Horner on his offer and begin his transition into…DIRK DIGGLER! Biggest porn star on the planet! The rest of the decade flies with Diggler, Horner, and the rest of the cast on the up and up. This level of success can only be sustained for so long before something bad happens and when the First Family of Porn rings in the new decade, things start to go sour. The cool thing about this is that while Dirk and Jack are the clear focus of the film, all the other characters have their own things going on at the same time and it all feels real and interesting. This is of course aided by the all-around stellar acting from all involved. I always thought Wahlberg was a good actor but rarely does he truly wow me, his acting in this film was one of those special occasions in which he did.

Another small break to pour one out for the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It’s a real tragedy that he passed so young and this movie is just another on his long list of impressive achievements. His character didn’t have much screen time but his acting was some of the most impressive in the entire film.

So the story was fantastic as I’ve already stated. It was a long film at near 2 hours and 30 minutes but it didn’t feel TOO long. It felt like a fully fledged journey. In many ways the story reminded me of Goodfellas (one of my favorite movies ever) but with an entirely different topic. The story has some really great themes as well! Some of the discussions addressed that I can remember are violence against women in the media (specifically porn), celebrity drug usage and dependence, and how the rest of the world views pornography and its stars.

Besides the acting and story there is no way this review would be complete without mentioning the phenomenal cinematography work by Robert Elswit. In this movie he often uses very long and wide tracking shots that are visually beautiful and technically impressive. I really liked the tracking shots of roller girl and other club-goers in the opening, Dirk Diggler’s first Horner pool party, and William H. Macy walking through the house on New Year’s.

Without going into too much detail, the script was just as good as every other element of the film. The dialogue was very funny, original, and convincing. I laughed out loud repeatedly! This review is getting a little long so I’ll leave it at that for the script.

I have one last thing to mention in closing this review. Maybe I’m just reading into it too much but I noticed repeated Star Wars references and I don’t know why they were there but I loved them. In one scene John C. Reilly claims people say he looks like Han Solo, Don Cheadle is tries to sell the TK-421 sound system modification (TK-421 being a clonetrooper on the death Star), and Burt Reynolds looked STRAIGHT UP like George Lucas! Again, maybe this is just me but I thought these were cool. BUT ANYWAY, this movie was ridiculously good and I’m extremely happy that I finally saw it.


Omar: 5 out of 5 stars

So there are some movies that everyone with even a mild interest in film simply HAVE to watch. This movie is one of them. I’ve known for the longest that I needed to watch Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential (1997) yet I continued to put it off while keeping it a closely guarded secret that I had neglected this classic. Last week I finally shed this secret shade of mine. It was my girlfriend’s turn to pick the film to watch and I’m extremely grateful that she picked this one. 

The first thing you’ll notice about this impeccable noir is the stellar cast. The story follows three L.A. detectives played by Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Spacey. Along side these three leading men, Kim Basinger plays the femme fatale (and won an oscar for her performance) and Danny DeVito plays a sleazy reporter. So yeah, stellar cast. As you’d expect with a cast like this, the acting was A1.

Usually this is where I would go into some mild detail on what the story was about but if you know anything about the noir genre you’d know that plot lines are intentionally convoluted and meant to confuse. To try and explain what goes on in this movie would be pointless as it would sound too confusing so just trust me on this one, the story is phenomenal!

To earn the coveted 5 out of 5 perfect rating from me a film must do everything or close to everything exceedingly well and this movie accomplishes that. What draws me in most when it comes to noir films is the art direction. I absolutely love the lighting, the darkness and shadows, the angels, etc. Let me show you some examples of what I’m talking about.

…So anyway, I’m a big fan of how this movie manipulates light to create some awesome atmosphere.

Of all the noir movies I’ve seen, this one is what I would describe as the quintessential noir movie (although I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t watched Chinatown yet). One thing that stood out to me in terms of plot that I enjoyed were the three personalities of the detective characters. I enjoyed seeing three very different types of cops at work and seeing how they all came together and interacted. You have Guy Pearce as the young hotshot who works by the book and doesn’t mind throwing crooked cops under the bus on the pursuit of justice. You then have Kevin Spacey, the sort of witty fame-seeking cop who likes the spotlight and wants to do things the easy way and coast. Finally you have Russell Crowe the savvy veteran who doesn’t hesitate to rough people up, plant evidence, sleep with prostitutes, and more. All of them fit their roles well and did a good job of bringing their characters to life. Oh yeah, the music was  great too!

I agree with Liz that Kim Basinger didn’t blow me away enough for me to understand why she won the best actress award but that has more to do with the fact that I didn’t think her character was all that spectacular. She certainly acted the part extremely well but her character didn’t do enough or have enough screen time for an oscar win.

There really isn’t that much to say beyond that! The movie was amazing and I can see why its so highly regarded, a classic by all means.

Mild SPOILER Warning

Omar: 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

Vicenzo Natali’s Cube, now this is one that I had been wanting to watch for a very long time. Many years ago I came across this film online and the premise sounded so great that I could not wait to watch it. Over the years I would occasionally come across it on TV but either missed a portion of it or was only able to start it and had to leave before it finished. I was finally able to watch it from start to finish and I’m glad I did because it proved to be a very entertaining thriller. Of course if you’re looking at my score you can tell that I definitely had my problems with it and despite the entertainment value I feel like the film was held back in a couple of key ways.

This film starts out in an extremely gruesome manner but one that hooks you in right away. The basic setup to the movie is that a group of strangers find themselves locked in a industrial-looking cube-shaped room with doors on every side (meaning six doors per room). Each door can be opened by spinning the latch attached and opens to another seemingly identical room. The only difference being that some rooms are colored differently….oh yeah and some rooms have deadly traps in them that kill you within seconds. Any who, the original group of five strangers (eventually joined by another later in the film) provide more than enough fodder for cube’s endless gory traps as they try to figure out what the hell is going on and how to find their way out.

Lets start with things I liked about the film because I think it did many things very well. What I find to be the strongest point of the movie is the mystery of the cube. The plot and characters were a bit weak but the concept of the cube and the mystery that shrouds it were enough to keep me intrigued. The story does a good job of not telling you too much which keeps you guessing. Another thing I liked about the movie was the atmosphere of tension. When death potentially lurks behind every locked door and the only way to survive is to keep going through said doors there are obviously going to be some tense moments. The movie doesn’t just rest on this inherent tension though and does a good job of elevating these moments with claustrophobic and disorientation camerawork using techniques like zooming in for closeups on characters faces and angling cameras to look up at faces rather than straight on. There is also very limited use of any music except for during the most tense and crucial moments which again serve to elevate these moments even further. I also liked how the lighting worked in the film in that everything was made to feel and look so artificial and industrial, it added greatly to the feelings of claustrophobia and desperation to get out. Lastly, I also loved that the movie was ambitious enough to not be afraid of killing off anyone at any moment.

Now to what I didn’t like about the movie. The story beyond just the concept of the cube was pretty lackluster. The main characters felt flat and I had no reason to like or root for any of them. At the very end I started to pull for some of them but by then the movie was pretty much over. I actually found most characters to be sort of obnoxious to the point to which I felt nothing when they died and really didn’t care if they made it out of the cube or not. The next big thing I didn’t like about the movie was unfortunately the script. Other than simply feeling dated the script was also quite dry, interactions between characters felt stiff and phony. At times I also felt like the movie’s pacing was off, some moments  moved way too quickly and others dragged a bit.

In the end I give this movie a 3.0 out of 5 stars because while the concept was exciting and fascinating, the characters and script (two of the most important aspects to any film) were just too flat and uninspired. I did love how the film reminded me greatly of Portal 2! and I must say that I did enjoy the bit of irony at the end there though where: *SPOILER*  Kazan, the character who was least fit to survive in the real world where he was most likely treated as an outcast and who was most capable of surviving inside the cube, survived while the rest of the cast who was more suited to surviving in the outside world than the cube all died.