Jaws (1975) (Steven Spielberg)
Rewatch. Action horror thriller by Spielberg at his peak with groundbreaking camerawork. John Williams’ iconic soundtrack enhances the suspense. There are reviewers who complain the shark looks fake (The thing kept malfunctioning and forced Spielberg to find creative ways to represent the monstrous fish) but I didn’t doubt the great white was a threat for a second and disagree with the naysayers. Apparently the behavior and appearance is not accurate although I’m not a shark expert so didn’t bother me.
Arguably the story could be a commentary on the greed of humans and the instinctive hunger of animals, I’m not sure. My favorite character is Quint (Robert Shaw) who plays an alcoholic obssessed shark hunter war veteran who more than likely is suffering a form of PTSD. Roy Scheider is also excellent as the local police chief who has his hands full during the beach season. Besides the action, my favorite scene was the “You Got City Hands Mr Hooper.” quarrel.
The Dark Crystal (1982) (Jim Henson & Frank Oz)
Puppet-animated dark fantasy adventure film. The puppets are believable as living, breathing creatures, and I liked the detail and beauty of the art direction and practical sets. The vulture-like Skeksis are effective villains though the noises they made got on my nerves. The draining of the essence scenes and giant spiders were chilling for a kid’s movie. While a very impressive technical feat, the main characters lacked the personality of Jim Henson’s Muppets. If you love set design this is a must-see but don’t go in with high expectations for the story which is quite basic. I haven’t seen the new 10-episode Netflix reboot The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)
All Good Things (2010) (Andrew Jarecki)
Rewatch. True crime mystery. I don’t understand the hate, the critics complained the movie is “clichéd and frustratingly ambiguous” but how can a true story be wrong?! Probably my favorite Frank Langella performance, the way he coldly delivers the lines with his deep voice just gets to me. Kirsten Dunst’s character is kind and beautiful while Ryan Gosling plays a man haunted by his past. I was on the edge of my seat. Better than its reputation and with a bigger scope than simply a thrill ride, dealing with marriage, fathers and sons, compromises and dreams, and what is most important to us. Also directed by Jarecki, The Jinx (2015 miniseries) took another go at telling the story in a longer format, including interviews with Robert Durst.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017) (S. Craig Zahler)
An 8/10 prison movie up until the last act. The violence was off-putting in the last 30 minutes, and that brings my score down. A macho film if ever there was one and just too dark to love. The story was quite slow yet compelling and with plenty of tension. I liked the one-liners and Vince Vaughn as anti-hero Bradley Thomas was great, different to his comedic roles. I had read the director’s horror western Bone Tomahawk (2015) contains batshit crazy violence so I guess that is the director’s trademark. I agree with letterboxd reviewer MajorMajor22 that it’s an “assured but tonally bizarre exploitation flick”
The Princess Bride (1987) (Rob Reiner)
Rewatch. Charming, incredibly quotable, and with a great sense of humor, almost a perfect movie. The mediocre end credits song (the instrumental main theme is superior) and the princess not recognizing her boyfriend behind the mask are the only weaknesses I noticed.
Look Who’s Talking (1989) (Amy Heckerling)
From the writer of Clueless (1995) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Better than its 57% Rotten Tomatoe score. The “talking baby” protagonist is fun, voiced by Bruce Willis, Travolta dancing with Mikey is a sweet moment. Probably more innocent times, today, I don’t know if a mother (Kirstie Alley) would allow a NY taxi driver (John Travolta) she hardly knows to walk into her apartment. The movie has enough charm to outweigh the contrived elements. About a mother looking for a proper father for her child, the visions of her future are pretty funny. If you are a parent, a light-hearted comedy to check out.
Joker (2019) (Todd Phillips)
Joaquin Phoenix manages to put a fresh spin on the joker with his mannerisms and laughing at inappropriate moments, and the script does have some arresting quotes, even if the victim aspect feels a bit clichéd and manipulative, and the supporting cast is underdeveloped. Phoenix’s Joker differs from Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson with more innocence, pain, and humanity, and his performance deserves a higher rating than the film itself.
Dolemite Is My Name (2019) (Craig Brewer)
Nice to see Eddie Murphy making a comeback and his performance is excellent, even if the constant foul language and vulgarity was a stumbling block. The soundtrack provided 70s funk discoveries such as Thank You by Sly & The Family Stone, Funky Stuff by Kool & The Gang, and Slippery When Wet by Commodores. Also features original music and songs/comedy routines performed by the cast.
While it isn’t a must to be familiar with comedy albums and Dolemite (1975), I suspect my enjoyment would have been higher if I had nostalgia for those. The funniest scene was when the group are reading aloud the reviews. The “permission from your warden”, ”buy your own food”, and “sex scene” were amusing too. The second half was funnier. I liked the friendship between Lady Reed and Rudy.
What do you think? As always, comments are welcome