Almost 20 years since its inception, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction has now gone down as one of the greatest American made films of the 90′s and arguably of all time. Centered around intersecting stories that includes the lead roles of John Travolta and Bruce Willis and supporting roles from Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and many others, this crime film was awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. The inclusion of screenplay writer Roger Avary was a winning combination for Quentin as the two would truly bring out one of the most epic modern stories in film history.
Quentin brought in the leading members of his offscreen talent that helped make Reservoir Dogs such an exceptional debut for Tarantino. Using the standard technique to most of his films, Pulp Fictions is presented in non liner storyline form, adding in pieces in juxtaposed form and requiring multiple viewings to extract what really happens. It’s pure genius through film.
Filmed using 50 ASA film stock, which is the cheapest film you can obtain that is still industry standard, the quality retains what Quentin refereed to as “the closest thing we have to 50′s Technicolor.” With eight million dollars as his ending budget, the quality of the end result goes far beyond this amount. By conventional means, their are only a handful of directors and supporting team who could have pulled this off with the level of budget used.
The dialogue and interweaving plot is what really makes this one of the most genius films ever made.
by Erik Otis
2003′s Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior put Tony Jaa on the map as one of the most accomplished martial artists in film. I had heard references to his works and finally got the opportunity to watch the first of three films under the Ong Bak title on Netflix and it’s a mind blowing sequence of fight scenes. The acting is rough around the edges but when each fight scene ensues, the unexplainable occurs. To realize that Tony Jaa uses no strings, CG’s or other enhancements is somewhat hard to even take serious. One Bak will easily go down as one of the greatest martial arts trilogies ever created. Already a cult classic that has some of the most epic fight scenes of any genre in film history.
“You start off with all these people living their separate lives and the climax of the movie is them all jumping up onstage together. So the story is really about this family’s starting separately and ending together.” —Michael Arndt, writer
Randolph Duke: Money isn’t everything, Mortimer.
Mortimer Duke: Oh, grow up.
Randolph Duke: Mother always said you were greedy.
Mortimer Duke: She meant it as a compliment.
Sporting billionaire brothers reverse the roles of a wall street commodities broker and a street hustler.
Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 01/04/2005 Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis Run time: 118 minutes Rating: R Director: John Landis
Amir is a young Afghani from a well-to-do Kabul family; his best friend Hassan is the son of a family servant. Together the two boys form a bond of friendship that breaks tragically on one fateful day, when Amir fails to save his friend from brutal neighborhood bullies. Amir and Hassan become separated, and as first the Soviets and then the Taliban seize control of Afghanistan, Amir and his father escape to the United States to pursue a new life. Years later, Amir – now an accomplished author living in San Francisco – is called back to Kabul to right the wrongs he and his father committed years ago. – Paramount Pictures
There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. – Baba
Max is a genius mathematician who’s built a supercomputer at home that provides something that can be understood as a key for understanding all existence. Representatives both from a Hasidic cabalistic sect and high-powered Wall Street firm hear of that secret and attempt to seduce him. – IMDb
“Restate my assumptions: One, Mathematics is the language of nature. Two, Everything around us can be represented and understood through numbers. Three: If you graph the numbers of any system, patterns emerge. Therefore, there are patterns everywhere in nature. Evidence: The cycling of disease epidemics;the wax and wane of caribou populations; sun spot cycles; the rise and fall of the Nile. So, what about the stock market? The universe of numbers that represents the global economy. Millions of hands at work, billions of minds. A vast network, screaming with life. An organism. A natural organism. My hypothesis: Within the stock market, there is a pattern as well… Right in front of me… hiding behind the numbers. Always has been.” – Max
*Image from http://pickledelephant.tumblr.com/
- Directed by Jim Jarmusch
- Produced by Richard Guay, Jim Jarmusch
- Written by Jim Jarmusch
- Starring Forest Whitaker
- Music by RZA
- Cinematography Robby Müller
- Editing by Jay Rabinowitz
- Distributed by Channel Four Films
- Release date May 18, 1999
- Running time 116 minutes
Well, it’s like, if you want to find a criminal you don’t go to the police, you go to other criminals. So I realised I’m not going to get the RZA through his lawyer or management, I’ve got to find people I know who know him. So, I did and they got me to him. At our very first meeting we had a very strong understanding, an easy way to communicate with each other, even though we are from very different places, we got along really well. From the first meeting he said he wanted to do it, which surprised me because people are always hitting on him to do so many things. -Jim Jarmusch, director of Ghost Dog
*JIM JARMUSCH – GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI. A 1999 interview by IAN JOHNSTON Copyright © Ian Johnston | Source
The Tree of Life is an experimental drama film that chronicles the origins of life by way of family living in 1950s Texas. It is interspersed with imaginative, gorgeous imagery involving the universe and the inception of life on Earth (see 2001: A Space Odyssey). It stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain.
It took a while for it to finally come out, missing two years of due dates, but it was released in 2011 and won the Palm d’Or. It is a non-linear narrative taking an enormous idea such as the Universe into a small town setting, making it seem not at all different from one another. In 2012, it was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.
It is hands down the best movie I saw last year and continues to triumph into this year. And it’s not the plot (non-plot) that ties micro-universes/cosmos with enormous ones, it’s not how everything (like the Tree of Life, Kabbalah) is connected. It’s the simplicity and silence of such grandiose ideas in beautiful stills and incredibly human, every day emotions.
When I went to see the film, most walked out (I guess they were looking for something louder, something Hollywood). Tree of Life isn’t that at all. It’s the exact opposite. It’s a film that makes you feel familiar in the strangest of places both mentally as well as visually. The “strangest part about it” is that they are places in which we constantly exist and are born from/into. How can something so familiar be so alien? How disconnected have we become from our roots?
Terrence Malick has produced a masterpiece that I believe will last the ages. It is timeless, unmistakably beautiful and lush enough for an infinite amount of interpretations. Watch it if you haven’t. Have patience, sit it out, and buy an extra large Coca-Cola if you have to but sit through it. I’m not going to make it any easier by spelling it out in a review, no, not for this film. This one you have to experience, without prior notifications about the films expansive success and breathtaking technique.
“I swear that to disgust audiences has never been my motivation. When critics describe the film as butchery, a display of guts and gore, it saddens me very much. I see my film as a rather reserved work, in fact. And I would like it to touch the viewers, to plunge them in a state of profound melancholy, just like mine when I was filming – because I think that Martyrs is really a melodrama. Hard, violent, very disturbing, but a melodrama all the same. I hope it will be a powerful experience for those who will see it because I put everything I had into it.” – Pascal Laguier
The film begins with a girl (Lucie) escaping some unidentified prison. Her body is covered in cuts and wounds. She is then placed in an orphanage where she builds a relationship with another girl, Anna. Of course, Lucie is extremely traumatized by the events prior to the orphanage and is terrorized by a violent ghost who, like Lucie before, is horribly disfigured, emaciated and covered in lesions.
Fifteen years later, Lucie bursts into a seemingly random suburban home with a shotgun and kills the entire family within the house. She calls her good friend Anna and explains that she has killed the people responsible for her abuse all of those years ago. She asks for assistance in burying the bodies of the seemingly normal, now a bit bloodied, family members.
Upon arriving, Anna is obviously mortified by the murders and discovers that the mother of the household is still alive. Anna tries to help her escape but Lucie discovers them and beats the mother to death. Yet again, Lucie’s horrible ghost returns to claw at her scarred body. It turns out that this apparition is only a psychological manifestation of her guilt for leaving another girl stuck within the “abuse prison” when she escaped all of those years ago. Lucie realizes that she will never be able to escape her constant horror and slits her throat…
This is really where the story begins, this is where Martyrs takes a heavy u-turn down the path of psychological, gruesome horror involving a cult that tortures for quasi-metaphysical reasons…
Anna discovers that underneath the normal looking home is a prison, a torture chamber, and she becomes another victim. According to the leader of the cult, the torturing is supposed to shed light on what happens after death. Through pain, through surpassing pain, transcendence is supposed to be found. A sort of sick, twisted take on Buddhism. It’s a fascinating film that I highly enjoyed, but I must warn you, it isn’t for the light hearted or vomit compulsive movie victims. If you can handle it, then do, if you can’t handle, say, something like Hostel, then I suggest you stay away from this film…. kind of.
“I didn’t enjoy making this film very much. Everything, from writing the script to editing, was, for different reasons, very difficult. What gave me the strength to tell this story, to spend two years of my life in such a dark world, was the love story between Anna and Lucie. It was what connected me viscerally to the film. It’s a love that is not shared. Anna loves Lucie unconditionally and this love will kill her. That’s something very real that we all experience: to fall in love with the wrong person, the one who, without consciously wanting to, will destroy you. Just because they are what they are. Anna loves in an absolute manner, and in that sense, she is a sort of modern saint. She gives all of herself and she will pay for it very dearly. The world and its trivial reality are fatal to people like her…” – Pascal Laguier
REC 2 leaves off precisely after incidents in REC (1). Although reviews have claimed the first to be better, I enjoyed the second one more. Perhaps the twist is what did it for me, but this isn’t the place to give away such a, well, lovecraftian spoiler.
To write about REC 2 I must obviously begin with REC (see review here). A quick synopsis of the film results in the following : Cameraman and television reporter get stuck in an unlikely situation where zombies are the outcome of biological, demonic possession. The film ends with everyone dead except for the television reporter, Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) who is seen dragged away into the dark by the original, possessed victim whom a priest was trying to cure as well as get the antidote to possession , or in other terms, the cure for zombies.
Now, that being said, in REC 2, we start of with a sort of SWAT team who simply follows orders. The orders are to go into the apartment complex that is crawling with zombies and get the survivors out. Little do they know that their companion on the trip (a priest posing as a health inspector) is in charge of the entire operation and only wants one thing: a sample of blood from the original girl.
It is similar to REC in that it is shot with (seemingly) handhelds and documentary styled footage. Of course, they upped it in REC 2 giving the SWAT team multiple different cameras within a camera so that you can see what the other members of the misinformed group are doing. As the story progresses, nosey, curious kids pop into the picture with their own camera and fall into a mess of absolute hell along with the remaining SWAT team and priest. And at the end of all of this insanity, the team finds Angela, alive, well and traumatized with many things to share with the dear priest.
I don’t like giving things away, and for that, I will let my fingers write as little as possible on the subject. It is an incredibly well done film that has you not only on the edge of your physical seat but your mental one as well. The actors do a terrific job of pulling it all through. The REC movies will be classics. Where horror film series done in documentary style (Blair Witch 2) have failed, REC triumphs and rises up above, scraping blood off the ceiling as well as Spanish pride.
REC is centered around a television reporter (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman who are covering some fictional documentary television series in a fire station. The firehouse receives a call about some lady trapped inside of her apartment, and thus, REC unfolds in all of its zombie hellfire horror. Thanks to the cameraman and the reporters ambition, this wonderful, terrifying film has been made possible for viewers intent.
The woman who is trapped is violent. She is hungry, pissed off and non-responsive, except for her monstrous bites. She is shot and killed. Her bite infects others, and thus, the zombie story unfolds. What is interesting about the film is how the story lays itself out and literally drags you in. The shots aren’t made so you can clearly make out what’s going on, making you almost want to get closer to the screen only to find a sickening zombie shoving its way through flesh.
The director’s didn’t go through the effort to make it all perfectly understandable, they made it to terrify. And terrify it does. It sucks you in a time portal of documentation that at times seems feasible and at times you want to believe it can’t be. The way the film constantly seems to take a turn without the aid of music or dramatic, Hollywood stunts is really what works and makes it a stellar movie. Oh, and did I mention that the zombies all come from the biological cause of demonic possession?
In the apartment complex where pretty much all of REC takes place (besides the firehouse) lived an agent of the Vatican who was charged for working and isolating the biological cause of possession.
This agent took a girl, a young girl to his apartment to try and take out the virus for whatever reason and/or curiosity. It turns out that the virus, the demon seed, is highly contagious. The agent abandons the city and locks the poor girl up in one of the rooms seemingly trying to starve her and the virus to death. Well, it didn’t work and the entire complex is torn to bits by an ancient belief made reality. A completely refreshing take on the common zombie cold as well as invigorating execution with camera work and script. A master horror film.
Blue Velvet is a Lynch film that plays with noir and surrealism, both genres Lynch commonly manipulates and makes his own. It stars Kyle Maclachlan, Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini and Laura Dern. The title is taken from the fabulous 1963 Bobby Vinton song, “Blue Velvet” which is played throughout the movie.
Lynch was nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards for Blue Velvet (his second nomination). It was turned down by many big studio companies for its strong sexual and violent content. It is considered one of the most controversial films ever made and it’s fantastic.
Blue Velvet was ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time by Entertainment Weekly in 1999 and chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest mystery films made.
Jeffrey Beaumont (played by Kyle Maclachlan) returns from college to aid his ill father. He comes across a human ear in a field within his hometown.
Intrigued by the disturbing severed ear, Jeffrey continues to investigate its story with help of his friend later lover Sandy Williams (played by Laura Dern).
As the investigation grows, it draws both deeper into the sadistic underworld that dwells within their hometown. The investigation leads Jeffrey into a kinky sexual relationship with a singer Dorothy Vallens (played by Isabella Rossellini) and into a terrible violent relationship with a sexually violent, kidnapping psycho criminal Frank Booth (played by Dennis Hopper).
Frank is into all the weird shit. Inhaling gases, dry humping with pain, sadomasochism and playing with weapons. He is a sociopath who achieves orgasms at the cost of rage and pain inflicted on others.
Frank kidnapped Dorothy’s husband and son to force her to perform sexual favors. Dorothy becomes dependent on the violence to get off. As the story progresses, love and lust are confused as well as pain, power and pleasure.
Guilt and despair are underlining emotions in Blue Velvet. Guilt of human pleasures and despair of the human condition.
This film, without a doubt, is one of the best works I have seen in my life.The play-ins with Roy Orbison songs (In Dreams) over violence and psychotic outbreaks is remarkable. Lynch yet again reproduces the effect that even the most “normal” things in life have a terribly dark history attached to them. Even the most perfect small towns in the world with the most perfect families have something that always dwells underneath.