Friday, January 31, 2014

01/31: Slumdog Millionaire

Who would have thought that a British love story (made in India) that was originally to be 'direct-to-DVD' in the United States would go on and win Academy Awards including Best Picture? The movie did have competition that year as it competed with Milk and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was a sleeper hit, no doubt, as it slowly built fanbase. Movie lovers and critics paid attention to its excellent story and its somewhat offbeat plot which involved a very popular TV game show at the time.

At the beginning of the movie, we know Jamal Melik (Dev Patel) is one question away from the highest prize (he is a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?). But first, before the game concludes, Jamal is taken away by authorities on suspicions that he cheated throughout the game. Did he know the questions and answers? If so, how? Jamal while captured and held in custody, explains his case one by one. How did he know who invented the revolver? Who was Amitabh Bachchan? Turns out he knows from life-changing experiences. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Oh, and about the love story part: in this coming-of-age film as Jamal and his brother drift throughout the lands of India, he meets his love interest: Latika. They would be separated and reunited throughout the film, as Jamal takes dangerous risks to get to her. That's all I'll say as I would be giving away too much.

I do rank this as one of my favorite movies of the last decade. Nothing to do with its accolades (although they did bring my attention to the movie), but story and characters always count in a movie. I'm not much of an escapist movie-watcher, but I'm always for stories, not necessarily realistic, that relate to one's personal lives. And this one seemed to have combined many elements, so many to speak of.

My rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, January 30, 2014

01/30: Ben-Hur (1959)

Let me be clear: usually I don't like associating religion in my writing, because it's all too controversial. I relate with Christians, Middle Eastern religions, atheists, and many others. Ben-Hur, released in 1959, is without doubt, one of the greatest biblical epics of all-time. So yes, I will be talking about what Christians believe from this movie.

The story, as I hope to tell the short version of it: Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) plays a wealthy Jew from Jerusalem who reunites with his childhood friend, Messala, after several years. Messala is more powerful than ever, and he is willing to show his loyalty to the Roman empire by asking Ben-Hur the names of his townspeople that criticize Romans. Ben-Hur refuses, and their friendship goes out the window. Later, Ben-Hur and his family are accused of attempted murder to the new Governor during a parade, and they are split apart as Ben-Hur gets thrown into slavery, while his mother and sister are sent to prison. They would be separated for a number of years. The ladies contract leprosy while in prison and get sent to a lepers colony. Meanwhile, Ben-Hur plans for revenge as he tries to rise back up the ranks. Several things happen, while at the same time, he has encounters with Jesus Christ.

The film is more than 3 hours long including an interlude and an intermission. This won't be the first time I say this: I'm not much of a fan of long movies. By long, I mean more than 2 1/2 hours. I understand that before the seventies, sequels were largely unheard of. But it is also fair to note that several long movies have become classics, critics choices, and award-winners. By the end of the movie, I'll admit it didn't seem like it was 212 minutes long!

You may be familiar with its accolades: it was the first film to win 11 Oscars (including Best Picture). That would be tied nearly 40 years later with Titanic and eventually Lord of the Rings: Return Of The King. There are several things worth noting. It had one of the largest budgets of all-time, as well as the most number of extras for a time. Some of the sequences took very much effort, most notably the horse race scene. And of course, the performance of Charlton Heston.

I'll say it: this movie is definitely worth your four hours of time.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

01/29: Pretty Woman

One of the greatest and acclaimed romantic comedy/tales of the last 25 years still shines today. I'm not sure what it was, but a lot of people may believe it was the chemistry between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. This, by the way, was known as Roberts' breakthrough movie that made her a household name (even though she was in 'Mystic Pizza' two years before). Or maybe it was the unlikely pairing that proves opposites do attract. After all, you had a very successful NY businessman with MONEY who is interested in a L.A. prostitute. Not enough said?

Most of us who have walked past prostitutes on the street who are sober they usually look down on them. Dressed cheap, and ready for, well, you-know-what. Of course, Edward Lewis (Gere) takes her out for the night and she ends up staying in his hotel room, where she seemingly feels like home. It's nothing like the trashy apartment her and her prostitute friend reside. I would imagine to Vivian (Roberts) this was a step up from her lifestyle.

But her clothes, oh those clothes! A lot of people will not forget that 'scene' where she goes to an upscale dressy shop and she comes in her 'street clothes', and probably knows what happens. They even show it at the beginning of 'Romy and Michele's HS Reunion'! They soon become attached to each other as she stays with him for the week, while they both try to hide Vivian's lifestyle.

Despite the somewhat-vulgar street scenes, this should be looked at as a cute love story with a happy ending. Who knows if anything like this happens in real life, but you never know.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

01/28: King Kong (1933)

Recently I watched this movie for the very first time, and fittingly on Blu-Ray when Amazon was having a huge sale on Digibooks. Since this film has long been available I knew it was the right time to buy it and watch it. I've seen the Peter Jackson 2005 version and I've only watched parts of the 1976 one with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange in it. So I kind of knew what to expect, just 1930s-style animation and same story. I did, however, read where the endings are different.

I do agree with everyone that this movie helped push the boundaries of American cinema. Often I wonder what was D.W. Griffith's reaction to the film (assuming that he saw it) and how movies have progressed since 'Birth of a Nation'. I know, I talked about it a couple blogs ago. This was probably one of the first realistic monster/horror movies there. The animations/special effects didn't even seem obvious, though they would be laughed at today by the younger generation.

The stories are all similar, except this first version is not necessarily a love story. In the later versions mentioned above, the female character becomes emotionally attached to Kong. It seems in the Fay Wray 1933 version, she's hella glad the monster is dead, pretty much. (laughs) Speaking of Wray, she puts in a great performance in this film. Imagine how many screams and many things she had to do. I know there was no way they could film and do the 'coming to America from the island' scene since it was 1933, but it would have been a nice touch.

Do yourself a favor and watch this piece of cinematic history. Later on, I'll eventually review the '76 and '05 versions.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, January 27, 2014

01/27: Sunrise - A Song of Two Humans

There are no words that can explain Sunrise. Classic, love story, tragedy, fun, I don't know, list goes on.....but it was and still is arguably one of the most standout silent films in the 1920s. The film has a great standout story that fits very well for the silent and love-story genre. It is no wonder that several years later it is in the National Film Registry and on the 2007 list of AFI's Top 100 Movies of All Time.

I'll try not to give away so much in the plot, so just bear with me. For a silent movie, the one thing you MUST use is your eyes. It seems if you take your eyes off it for only a minute you're already missed what happened. The violin music is supposed to set the mood, guide and be a backdrop throughout the movie, so that helps. Not much dialogue in the captions used in the movie is utilized. Expressions and actions are heavily relied upon in this movie.

A man who lives on a farm outside the city with his wife and kid gets a strange visitor dwelling on his land. It is an attractive woman who seduces him to sell his farm and go to the city with her. But there's a huge cost: kill your wife. He sort of goes with the plan, but in his heart he knows he can't do it. The wife, on the other hand, does the right thing and runs away from him. Things do change between the two of them in a good and bad way. They eventually regain each other's trust and happily enjoy a night on the town as a lovely married couple, 1920s style. It only shows us what lovers like them what fun they are supposed to have. Even for a married couple (it doesn't say how long they were together). Another twist happens, but I'll save it for the viewer. I feel I've already told half the movie...

The movie does wake up moralistic views of life. You see someone about to commit a horrible and/or regrettable mistake, before and after-wise. I was reminded briefly of some mistakes I have made in the past. Not everyone forgives for certain mistakes, and that's always one thing to keep in mind. It is faith, religion or any kind of spiritualness that makes the person who they are.

From a technological perspective, I've noticed that some of the special effects in the film have advanced during that decade. As of this writing, I've seen fewer than a dozen movies that came out before 1930, all silents. The 'talkie' came out in 1927, and those slowly but surely took over the cinema industry. Movies have developed a long way from Griffith's 'Birth of a Nation'. More sound effects were used in movies, as well as crowd sounds (not just the music). Imaginary sequences have improved as well. The only thing I was surprised was the captions/title cards weren't anything like Chaplin's 'The Gold Rush' (which came out earlier).

Janet Gaynor, who plays the wife, won the first Best Actress Oscar at the 1929 Academy Awards ceremony. Sunrise was one of three reasons she won. You see, back then, an actor/actress was recorded for their body of work for the previous year, not just for one film like today. (Gaynor was also in Seventh Heaven and Street Angel). Unfortunately, this movie also could have claimed the title for Best Picture of that year, but at the time the Academy Awards had two major awards that went to a film: Outstanding Picture and Best Unique and Artistic Production. Sunrise won the latter. It was decided by the AA years later that Wings was the 'Best Picture' of 1928 (which won Outstanding Picture).

If you are a sucker for love stories and if you can handle silent films, devote an hour and a half of your time to this one. As a matter of fact, step back in time. You'll be glad  you did.

My rating: 8 out of 10

NOTE: While this film has been re-issued on DVD and most recently, Blu-ray, you can watch and download it (legally) for free here on

Sunday, January 26, 2014

01/26: Sound City

The first documentary I am reviewing happens to be Sound City, which was produced, written, narrated and pretty much everything to do with Dave Grohl. In case you need to be reminded, Grohl was the former drummer for Nirvana who later became very successful with his band the Foo Fighters as well as getting involved with numerous music projects. This time he tries his hand at filmmaking, and I see and observe he did it quite well. And I can tell he was very interested and taken with the subject which was his interest. In short, he had a blast doing it. And I will explain.

Sound City was one of the greatest music studios in the last 40+ years. It was where several classic recordings occurred. Examples include work from Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana (of course), Rick Springfield, among many others. I feel that this documentary has covered all the bases. But I'm sure this would take more than a day for the full history, or at least a huge book. Grohl interviews just about everyone who worked at the building and was able to collect several stories. One interviewee even made the comment, "If you were to walk out of there and you were to come back 15 years later, it still looks the same. So much junk lying around. Cigarette butts and trash everywhere". It gives us a feeling for all of us who missed out what it was like being in there. Grohl even devotes time to Rick Springfield, an artist who I feel does not get enough exposure anymore.

The real thrill is within the last third of the film when Grohl assembles an 'all-star band' of Sound City alumni. Plus Paul McCartney. Dave couldn't even explain how thrilled he was, and who can blame him? At least a seemingly down-to-earth guy like him knows he is one of the lucky few who lived his dream. He was more than able to tell it all in this film. I can't wait to see more work from him.

Note: I do love Nirvana, even though I feel they are very overrated because of all the credit they were given. I do also like most of the early Foo Fighters songs, but I never gave his later stuff including his stuff from Them Crooked Vultures a chance. I shall do soon. I also have yet to see Grohl live in person.

My rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, January 25, 2014

01/25: As Good As It Gets

I remember when this movie came out back in the day and it eventually won Oscars. I even recall after the ceremony they brought back several past winners-from Shirley Temple to Kathy Bates and had them sit on stage. Jack Nicholson was definitely one of them as he is no stranger to the Academy Awards. I'll never forget when they introduced him...he held up his Oscar (that he won earlier that night) and lit up a huge smile and laugh. And he had every reason to.

Whenever something does happen to him sooner or later, Jack Nicholson will be remembered for future generations unmatched as probably the greatest leading male actor of the last part of the 20th century. He can tackle any role, most of them seemingly with his charm. To some, he would come off as the creepy old man you meet at a bar or some place. And only him can get away with that.

In As Good As It Gets, he plays the stereotype of the cranky old-man whose world is turning too fast for him and he can't get his way soon enough. Archie Bunker, sound familiar? He always reminded me when I worked at a restaurant there was a male senior citizen who would continuously send back his food and would have to have the same waitress waiting on him. Jack's character Melvin (who is a successful author) brings his own silverware to the restaurant. It's the waitress Carol that has to put up with him. He of course goes too far in rubbing her the wrong way throughout the movie. And then there's the homosexual men next door, which are part of the plot. Yeah, I guess you can say he was a modern-day Archie Bunker in the film.

The dialogue is very much the attraction in this movie, as well as the acting of Nicholson, Hunt and Greg Kinnear. If you are into developing love stories (not to give it away or anything) or if you just think Helen Hunt is hot and Jack Nicholson is the man, then give it a watch. It will make you want to be a better man.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Friday, January 24, 2014

01/24: The Great Gatsby (2013)

Yes, it was a requirement that I were to read the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel in high school. I think my teacher was Ms. Kuehnel. She was very pretty, one of the few teachers that I was attracted to. But it was a challenge to read the book. See, I didn't discover I loved to write until my later years in college. I didn't realize most of my life I didn't like to 'be told' what to write, if it was something I did not care about or it was basically shoved down my throat. But enough about me....

Before I watched this revamped version of the timeless story I made myself aware I did not remember very much what happened. All I know was Gatsby was someone who was mysterious, rich, somewhat powerful and everybody wanted to be him. This time around Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Jay Gatsby. Former Spidey boy Tobey Maguire plays his neighbor Nick and Carey Mulligan plays their love interest Daisy. I won't reveal much of the storyline mostly because 1) it's a wee bit long and 2) many of you in my generation (20s, 30s, maybe 40s) have read it at some point in your lives. Baz Luhrmann (director) did a tremendous job with this remake and I totally thought the mashup with the Roaring 20s and hip-hop was well done.

It is recommended that everyone see this or at least read it. Perhaps in my spare time I'll try to read it. (Bear with me, I don't like reading fictional stories which is why I prefer movies better....) I have not yet seen the 3-D version of this film as I can definitely imagine what viewing it would be like. All the confetti being tossed at me, woo-hoo.....

My rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, January 23, 2014

01/23: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

I just got done watching the Austin Powers trilogy again and as I may have mentioned before, I do make it a priority to watch those movies at least every other year. I now have them on UV, so I got to stream them for a change. Today's movie is one of the few that I've seen at the theater more than once (in 1999, as I was entering my final year of high school). It always bring back memories every time I watch it. And at the time, I was really getting into Austin Powers, so it was well fitting.

I don't remember where I read it but it is said this sequel made more money on opening night than the entire theater run than the first Austin Powers. And I believe it. We all know that Austin Powers, based on one of Mike Myer's homemade characters, was not an overnight sensation as it became more popular through video rentals (ah memories!). So needless to say, this movie came at the right place, right time and it was easily one of the top moneymakers of 1999.

And now the movie: Hey, I loved it. It brought back old and introduced new jokes and gags which would continue on with the third one. Who could also forget the new characters? We all knew we had to dig Felicity Shagwell and Fat Bastard. Dr. Evil continues his quest (after he is thawed again) to get (not kill) Austin Powers. But this time around he is after Austin's 'mojo', said slowly. Austin's self-confidence is challenged through this movie, as well as his love life with his newfound love interest (Heather Graham). The 60s stuff as well as the cool psychedelic soundtrack also continues in this movie as you will see it all through the movie. And of course, the taglines, 'oh behave', 'shag', etc.

Like I said, this is one of my all-time favorite film trilogies. So I easily give it a....

My rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

01/22: Mr. Gibb -or- The Good Student

I'll admit it: Hayden Panettiere (while she's hot but I do find her a bit weird) did draw me to watch this movie. On my streaming device I have a channel where its all free movies and this direct-to-DVD movie (I think?) was one of the choices. Here she was right in front in a near-seductive pose with a creepy older guy in the background. Yeah, things could get weird...haha

So I watched it. This low-profile movie, I have to say, wasn't that bad. It was a typical dark comedy/mystery/drama film. Panettiere plays an attractive student in Mr. Gibbs' high school history class. She is also a local celebrity, cheerleader, and the daughter of the owner of a local car dealership. Gibbs has a slight crush on her, and things go roller-coastery as he tries to help her out but yet some things just backfire. There's the framing, the kidnapping, yada. And of course, Gibbs is accused of the whole thing. And there's the threat of his teaching job.

While I do find this film to be predictable at times, I'd still give it a go anyway.

My rating: 5 out of 10

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

01/21: Chariots Of Fire

I guess its not so ironic that I write a movie about an Olympic-themed movie just 16 days before the '14 Olympics event in Sochi. Chariots of Fire is a true story about 2 men who competed and represented England in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

For a film that was (and still is) considered one of the greatest films of 1981 (year I was born), I thought it would grab me. After all, this beat out such films (Raiders of the Lost Ark, On Golden Pond) for Best Picture. So I was hoping I would see what the hypes all about. As it turns out the first hour was completely boring for me. I noticed that I do get a bit bored with foreign films (this was British) but I guess every country or culture has its own cinema style. During the second hour, however, I was starting to get moved to the end. It made a lot of sense as the stories between the two men were becoming more inspirational. I will admit this was shown in a slow-pace. Maybe that's it. You see, the movie isn't really split in two parts. As mentioned above, it does tell the story about two young men and their rise to stardom: one Jew who experiences some anti-Semitism and a devout Christian. The religions without doubt play a huge part in the story. You'll also hear religious quotes throughout the movie, which give Chariots of Fire its characteristic movie. But its mostly about determination and inspiration.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the movie is its theme, which I believe has become forgotten over the years. As a child growing up in the 80s, I remember hearing the Vangelis song "Chariots of Fire -Titles" in many TV shows and commercials. Usually in slow-motion mode this is often heard. The song went to #1 in 1982 and it would be one of the last instrumental tunes to hit the top of the Pop chart. I even remember my sister trying to play some of the chords to this song on the piano at church.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Monday, January 20, 2014

01/20: V.I. Warshawski

This was another cheap movie I bought for $3 on Blu-Ray at Slackers. I think I got my money's worth. Not saying the movie was good or bad, but so-so. It was supposed to be the continuation of Kathleen Turner's hot streak - which ended with this movie. I wonder if there were any sharks outside that boat explosion because this was where it jumped (her career). Many believe she could have been a greater star throughout the 90s and beyond.

So about the story: V.I. (Turner) meets a man at the bar, who happens to be an ex-pro hockey player and they have a fling and he meets his daughter. The man gets killed in a boat explosion and now she is stuck with his wisecracking, cussing daughter who she can't bear to be with. They eventually team up to find the mystery of how it happened. I just feel something was missing from this movie and I don't know what it was. Maybe it was the sex appeal, I don't know. It just seemed kind of dull, and I don't know if more action would have been the answer.

Little to my knowledge, this movie was based on a comic book character with the same name. I was not familiar with it.

My rating: 5 out of 10

Sunday, January 19, 2014

01/19: Straight Talk

I thought this was a fun movie. I can also understand where the critics are going with their criticism too. If you see Dolly Parton as the lead character, you know you're in for quite a ride. And that's in a positive way. Its her energetic and fun-loving personality, and anyone can tell she's more than a superstar country music icon.

This is basically a tale about a woman who flees her small town in Arkansas, as well as her not-so-caring boyfriend, and packs up and leaves for Chicago in hopes for success in some field. When she walks into a radio station, originally wanting to be the front desk receptionist, she stumbles (accidentally?) into the studio and fills in for the psychologist who didn't show up. She instantly becomes a success. But a journalist man who she rubbed the wrong way earlier is investigating whether or not she is certified and qualified to do such thing. 'Dr. Shirlee' is a hit around Chicago and many listeners really dig her common sense advice. Not many are quick to see the 'one-sideness' of her advice except for a listener's victim who later confronts her later in the movie. But I'll stop there. You should watch it, that's all.....

I'm not sure if anything like this is realistic, especially in these troubling times today. But I'm sure it can give one hope for success and fortune. Even if you're not really expecting it.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, January 18, 2014

01/18: Betsy's Wedding

This is probably my first negative review post. I was little when Betsy's Wedding came out in the early 90s, and I thought the previews were funny. If the movie was rated R, I wasn't allowed to see it or watch it, so needless to say my parents said NO. It wasn't until more than 20 years later I got around to watching it, and now I know why it wasn't a hit. Back then, the only star in the movie I was familiar with was Alan Alda, who of course was from MASH. I didn't know anything about Joe Pesci or Molly Ringwald at the time.

So yeah, I was very disappointed. It's no wonder at my local store (Slackers CDs and Games) had this Blu-ray for $3. But I'm willing to watch any movie with an open mind so I did. The disc, by the way, had zero special features. I ended up donating it to my local library.

Betsy's Wedding is one of those movies that has a great cast. I wouldn't say 'all-star' but at the time this movie came out it did have some well-known actors and actresses. Besides the 3 mentioned above, you also had Catherine O'Hara, Ally Sheedy (reunited with her ol' Breakfast Club castmate) and the late Madeline Kahn. The story, or script, went absolutely nowhere. The plot was Eddie Hopper (Alda) was trying to impress the groom-to-be's parents by putting on an extravagant wedding for his daughter. Of course, Eddie has problems of his own besides his financial situation. He gets involved with his twisted brother-in-law's scheme. And the story just isn't all there.

I'm not sure if its the actors who didn't seem very focused or very enthused in doing this movie. I may just blame it on that.

My rating: 3 out of 10

Friday, January 17, 2014

01/17: The Wizard Of Oz

You'll probably expect a great, detailed, lengthy review for this one. After all....its officially been a week since I've been doing this blog. So how about a celebration with one of the greatest movies ever made?

I'll be frank. One of the reasons I'm already doing a review on Oz is because: once a week, I look at recent celebrity deaths on Wikipedia. I noticed that Ruth Duccini passed away yesterday at the age of 95. Ruth who? It turns out she was the last surviving female from the 1939 Oz film. (Duccini, while uncredited, played one of the Munchkins.) So to coincide with such, I figured I might as well write a review for The Wizard Of Oz.

It seems that a certain percentage of people, no matter what generation since 1939, has seen the Wizard Of Oz before they were age 20. When I was still in my twenties, I actually knew a few people who have not seen it and they were younger than me. I always thought that since they always showed this on TV and most likely schools would show it on leisure days, boys and girls would automatically have a piece of the tale with them through their teenage years.

Still, it has a piece of pop culture and has influenced everything in generations forward. And it still does. Just last year James Franco played The Wizard in a prequel to this movie. (I have yet to see it) Dozens of spin-offs and similarities have came out over the year. The 1939 version is even considered to be a remake of the 1925 silent version (which I also have yet to see). Songs during the rock era, have been influenced by Oz, including 'Tin Man' by America and 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' by Elton John. And of course, there's still the whole conspiracy behind playing the 'Dark Side of the Moon' album while drunk or on drugs while watching this movie. I've actually heard a few people say it works.....

Now, on with the review: Hey, what can I say. I can't say it's a favorite movie of mine or a Top 10 one, but it was one worth watching over and over and to share with others as well as your future children. There's the characters, who teach us about courage, confidence, and many other personality traits. Who wouldn't dig the psychedelic beginning of the yellow brick road? To me, the moral of the movie is: never be afraid and live life. Take plenty of opportunity. That message is seemingly hidden throughout the movie. I believe what makes this movie so phenomenal was because of that, and again, the characters. And what about the famous quotes? Too many to list, but I hope you know what I'm thinking. And in all honesty, I'm not sure what to think of most of the musical performances as I overlook them, even Judy Garland's 'Over The Rainbow' scene.

Scholars today note the film for many influential technical advancements for its time, along with its use of makeup and stunts. Speaking of makeup, Buddy Ebsen (who we all know as Jed Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies), was originally supposed to play the Tin Man, but he had to bow out due to his allergic reaction to the makeup. Since Buddy Ebsen is from a nearby town, Belleville, IL, that is widely noted in my area. As of this writing there is a picture of him as the Tin Man on Wikipedia.

Perfect for any weekend family movie viewing. Sometimes I wonder if parents of today would consider it to violent or 'a little heavy' on crudeness. I say just keep an open mind....

My review: 8 out of 10

Thursday, January 16, 2014

01/16: All The President's Men

I watched this movie for the first time 3 weeks ago, and I was well aware of the hype of it being one of the greatest movies of the 70s. Especially one based on a true story. Side note: I bought this around Black Friday when Amazon had a great deal on Digibooks, and this movie happened to be available on them. This movie was about the genesis of the investigations of Nixon and Watergate.

So, what do I think? I actually didn't think it was bad nor was it that good. Here you got two of Hollywood's all-time stars, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, sharing the top bill. But unlike roles they have done, these seem more calming than ever. These guys basically are just people who go to work everyday and try to accomplish their employers' goals and get the story on time. Yes, they both portray journalists in a newspaper office. Redford's character is the rookie, having been employed at the place shortly while Hoffman's character been writing for the paper more than a decade. At first, the two men butt heads as Hoffman seems very threatened by Redford. Eventually they learn to work as a team (slowly but surely). One great observation about the newsroom: times have really changed since the mid-70s as obviously, typewriters are so obselete that even 80 year olds don't even use them. Think about the misery whenever someone types an error! Lots of indoor smoking (especially by Hoffman) was notable.

I guess one of the things that makes me like this movie is there's really no love story here. In movies, we could use a little less love stories, if you know what I mean! Plus these guys are basically conspiracy theorists and they spend the entire movie trying to get the truth, prove something, make a point and silence those who trespass against them. Those are just the elements that make this movie stand out. Despite of all this, I'm not really sure what made this movie 'Oscar-material'. Maybe its the actors and their performance(s), I don't know.

I would check it out, also for the historical part of it.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

01/15: The Gold Rush

The first silent film that I'm reviewing comes from the last chapter of the 'silent era'. You can definitely tell the difference between this 1925 movie and the D.W. Griffith movies from the '10s. The acting, the improved camera techniques as well as the less shakiness in the titles and captions. And they are done in a more readable font.

The Gold Rush is a cool Chaplin film, and it is known to be one of his signature ones. I have not seen many of them, so this is one of a few that I've seen. There are several Charlie Chaplin shorts and films that are available for free download at Several pieces of his work fell into the public domain over the years, including The Gold Rush. My favorite scene is the 'roll dance' where he invites the ladies over for dinner and he tries to impress them by....what else? Playing with his food. It's so sad that something like that can be forgotten. I'm sure at one point it was considered an iconic movie scene for years, but there are so many modernized movies that took its place as the generations came. You can even view it on Youtube, but I recommend downloading the p.d. version from Internet Archive. The main reason being it does not use the same piano music as the original version does. And it's not the same.

My rating: 7 out of 10 stars

You can download it for free or stream it (legally) from Internet Archive.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

01/14: Magic Mike

Alright, I'll be man enough to admit this: I did watch Magic Mike. Yeah, it's mostly a movie for the ladies, and that's what a lot of people believe that was the main intention. They all want to see Channing Tatum strip and topless and whatever. I watched it for the first time yesterday. And I was moved. About a year ago, I remember randomly talking to this couple at a bar and they both saw Magic Mike. I was like, 'Really...' to the guy. He said, 'I don't give a f***, because I thought it was a really good movie. It's the story that grabbed me'.

I can't help but agree with him. He explained to me the plot, and it sounded like a parallel between that and Saturday Night Fever. As mentioned above, I finally got down to watching it, and I felt it to be a very personal movie. The characters of Mike and Tony Manero similar in several ways. Both are guys that are concerned for their futures and want more out of life. Both are the star attractions on the weekends. Both hang out/work at clubs. Both are awaken by a sudden love interest. Both are surrounded by people they don't want to be around most of the time. Both have crummy day jobs. There's a few more, but I hope you get the idea.

Mike suddenly becomes best friends with Adam, whose friendship starts out awkwardly. Mike eventually becomes infatuated with Adam's sister, Brooke, who he was living with. Brooke has an on-again, off-again relationship with Ryan, while Mike tries to make things go well with Joanna, who he meets at the strip club. Mike does quite well at times mentoring Adam as he finally gives him a full-time job stripping at the club. That's all I gotta say, because you really got to watch the rest. One big difference between Magic Mike and SNF is they are set in two completely different places, Tampa and New York City, respectively.

Throughout the movie, Mike worries about his future. Like most people, he feels insecure and trapped. He's only open about it to select people, of course Brooke being one of them. I really do like this movie because I'm all for films with a 'personal' and realistic storyline.

Definitely recommended. It's not hard to put aside all the stripping sequences. 

My rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, January 13, 2014

01/13: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Ah yes, one of my all-time favorite trilogies. I make it a priority to watch all 3 within 2 days, every other year. Two weeks ago when I was sick I went ahead and watched them on UV. And really, what's not to like about the Austin Powers trilogy? The quotes, the characters, the retro-ness, the awesomely evil evil villians? Or just go live under your rock.

Where shall I start? Shall we shag? Nah, we start in 1967, where we don't know until the end of the trilogy how Austin and his nemesis Dr. Evil (both played in a dual role by Mike Myers) became enemies. But Dr. Evil's main goal is to kill superspy Powers, in any ways possible. And we see throughout the trilogy, as pointed out by his son Scott, he doesn't take advantage of the situation when he can. Evil becomes frozen in '67 as Austin follows suit, only to become defrosted 30 yrs later and continues his world domination plans. Austin teams up with Vanessa Kessington (who is his 60s partner's daughter) to uncover the mysteries about Dr. Evil around Vegas. (SPOILER ALERT: At one point I even tried watching throughout the movie to see how could she be a fembot, as pointed out at the beginning of the sequel?) Throughout the movie you get treated to great comedy, sex jokes, Mike Myers trying to be 'all that' (in a funny way), and just plain silliness. The soundtrack seems very fitting as well, though I could have added a few more songs to fit the mood of the film.

I'll admit it. I remember sometime in '97 when this movie came out, but in a low-key way. It wasn't highly publicized, but I looked at the preview and the picture and I go: 'Is that really Mike Myers? What kind of a lame-ass movie is this gonna be?' I was a freshman in high school at the time, and later that year I overheard a couple of my classmates saying how hilarious the movie really was. I even recall at Blockbuster when I was browsing they were showing previews on the screens above, and some kid kept saying to his friend, 'Shhh, this is a funny part...'. Needless to say, that led to my curiousness about the movie. My sister bought it on VHS sometime in '98, and one night I finally watched it. And it won me over. Not only was I proven wrong, but I was convinced this was meant to be an underrated, under-publicized comedy at the time. After all, this was during a year where it was hard to compete with blockbusters like Batman & Robin (I know, I know), Air Force One, Titanic, etc. I think it was in late '98 when I watched it again and my sister came in the room and she said 'you know they're gonna make a sequel to this, right? And it's coming out next summer!'. I was stoked, obviously.

And of course, you got Mike Myers style of comedy. It's difficult to believe this is the same guy who, just a few years before, was Wayne Campbell and in the Saturday Night Live cast. Myers once said he wanted to do a 'retro movie' and he got the idea while driving through the Las Vegas strip and on the radio was Dusty Springfield's version of 'The Look of Love'. The rest is all history. You can also tell Myers' love of different characters as he well-crafted Austin Powers.

My rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Sunday, January 12, 2014

01/12: Carriers

Until a few days ago, I had never heard of this movie. I was actually given this movie by Flixster as part of their 'get free 3 UV movies' program and this was randomly selected by them. But I was satisfied though, since it was free (even if it was in standard definition). I soon watched it later that day.

Looking at the cast, the only 2 familiar names were Piper Perabo (you know, that chick from Coyote Ugly) and Chris Pine. The movie was put out in 2009, same year as Pine's 'Star Trek' reboot which arguably made him famous. I'm sure 'Carriers' wasn't meant to be a great follow-up but yet something low-key for Pine's career.

I've told people that most zombie movies are the same. They have the same concept: they kill people, they chase after them, and at times, people strike back at them. And either way, zombies are deadly. Another reason I feel that way is because most zombie movies are set in post-apocalyptic times. I know a lot of you will probably yell at me as others have (and still do!) but I have never seen ONE episode of 'Walking Dead'. My brother-in-law says my opinion about zombie shows will change once I start watching the series.

'Carriers' is not necessarily a zombie movie. Yes there are some in there. But if you are expecting a horror gore-fest, you'll be out of luck. And maybe that's a good thing. To me, it was just another boring drama which was supposed to be more personal. Pretty much the whole movie consists of killing people (sometimes random) and hope (or lack thereof). Luckily it was under 80 minutes.

My rating: 4 out of 10

Saturday, January 11, 2014

01/11: Cowboys & Aliens

This one has quite a bizarre twist. A new genre that seemingly a lot of people thought could not be done: a hybrid western and science fiction. That's what C&A is all about.

Good story, but again, a bit bizarre. It's got 2 great leading cast members: Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. Craig, as we all know, as the current incarnation of Bond, who we know as a no-nonsense tough guy. And Harrison Ford? Where do I start in describing him? I don't think I need to.

Ford plays a cranky old tough guy who later, throughout the film, softens up. To me, it adds corniness to the movie. But in a good way. And Craig sorta lives up to his image, this time as a loner hero. Plus, there's the pretty girl (played by Olivia Wilde) and a strong supporting cast (most of them kidnapped by aliens). No surprise, it got a lot of mixed reviews in large part to the mixed genre.

Still, you should check it out. How often do you see technology and special effects in a western? Just think about something like Back To the Future Part III getting invaded by aliens.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Friday, January 10, 2014

01/10: Julie & Julia

This was the movie that inspired me to do this blog in the first place. Yes, I know I am not the first person to come up with 'movie/flick/film of the day' but I thought I would just 'do my thingggg'. 

Meryl Streep and Amy Adams star in this comedy/drama that was supposedly a true story. The way the movie documents itself was alright. But it is told in two separate parts, interweaving each other, with one thing in common. (Think The Godfather Part II) Both storylines have to do with one's rise to fame or their talent. Many of us know who Julia Child was. I knew who she was, but not very much since I don't really cook. Nor did I ever watch a cooking show. 

Adams' character writes a blog about making EVERY recipe out of Julia Child's signature cookbook. She slowly gains a fan following and the rest is history. Her character, by the way, is based on Julie Powell, who did this in real life. Her ultimate dream was to meet and do many things with Julia Child (who was still alive at the time, though she was already deceased by the time the movie was made). You'll just have to watch and find out. An inspirational movie if you are all about setting goals and getting things done, or if you're into such a fantasy.

My rating: 6 out of 10

What do you think?

First post...what am I gonna say here

Welcome to the debut of Jason's Movie of the Day! Let me start off by introducing myself. 

My name is Jason and I live in Glen Carbon, IL (just 20 min from St. Louis). I used to be a devoted blogger. Not just on here, but on Myspace (during its heyday). I was always open about things and I had plenty of time to post certain material. More than five years ago, in college I discovered I loved writing. But something always bit me, like I always used the excuses of 'not enough time' or 'who in the hell reads this'. I also thought blogging was on the downfall as 'microblogging' became the 'in-thing' with just 140 characters and/or a simple status that tells everyone your mood. 

Music is where my main interest is. Not playing it by instrument, but I've always been into rock history and I consider myself a 'historian'. Like everyone, I love movies. I've become more of a movie buff in the last few years. Since 2005 I've kept track of just about every movie I've seen by compiling a list on Imdb (Internet Movie Base). The list isn't necessarily complete, but at this point I've seen over 700 movies so far in my lifetime. To some, it's not enough as I know people who have seen over a thousand films. To some, it's ridiculous as some are satisfied with only seeing less than 200 movies. So its quite 'in the middle' if you know what I mean. I'm not sure if anyone will top the late Roger Ebert as he has seen 'more than 10,000 movies' if not more.

Instead of creating a blog based on how I feel about rock/pop music in every way, I decided to do a simple challenge and write about all the movies I have seen. Every day. Sounds simple, right? Probably not so. But I'm for it...

For every post, you will get plenty of commentary, or at least one line(!). A review based on a 1-10 scale will also be available from me. You may even get a story if its a great or sucky movie. Links will eventually go up as time progresses and when I get the hang of this blogging thing again. You can tell I'm already excited about this.

The next post will be my first review on the movie that inspired me to do this. Read on......