Here it is, inauguration day. While there are some who didn’t vote for Barack Obama, I think it’s pretty cool to see the transfer of power and to see the promise and excitement that seems to be everywhere. (Except my supermarket. They’re still bitter, bitter people. I double checked this afternoon.) Here’s a look at three great political movies that might help extend some of your inauguration fever. [Read more...]
Usually main characters have rather normal names. Jerry McGuire. John Shaft. Joe Black. Nothing too strange, nothing too out of the ordinary. However, sometimes an interestingly named main character is just the beginning of a sign that you’re watching a special movie. [Read more...]
It seems that nowadays everyone keeps a blog. Vatche does. I do. Your mom does. (OK, maybe not your mom.) And while Lonely Reviewer is still the perfect place to check out for movie news, information and commentary, here are a few others that are taking the art of film appreciation to a higher level.
As described they say on the site, Bloody Blood is ‘dedicated to the art of the trailer.’ And not just any trailers. Horror films, B-movies… All get the love and respect that they have vied for all this time. What I like best is the fact that the site is kept and run by people who truly enjoy these films, despite their sometimes ridiculous plots and acting.
The Film Walrus is a blog dedicated to movie reviews, with special emphasis on foreign, cult, noir, art house and horror films. (With special mind paid to the Italian giallo genre.) One of my favorite recurrent features is titled, ‘Hall of Strangeness,’ which is just what it sounds like. Pages upon pages of strange, forgotten movies that have been dusted off, and given the love that they perhaps have been missing out on for all these years. I came across the site during a particular nasty obsession with Italian horror and this site fixed me up real good.
The Criterion Contraption
Matthew Dessem had a dream. He wanted to learn more about foreign film and some of the obscure movies being released on DVD seemingly every week. He figured that a good place to start for a solid education in the underappreciated films would be the vaunted Criterion Collection. So that’s where he started. At spine number one. Matt has been reviewing each Criterion movie, in order of release. And he doesn’t just watch them and write a review. He watches all the extras, watches the movie again, and then does some research. So not only are you getting a review, but you’re also getting some really cool behind-the-scenes info. Check it out. -Sam
The Dead Pool
Granted, 1988’s ‘The Dead Pool,’ is not the best in the Dirty Harry series and it was one of the first movies to un-leash Jim Carrey on an un-suspecting movie-going audience. But any Clint Eastwood movie is worth seeing at least once. (Well, except for ‘City Heat.’) ‘The Dead Pool’ is no exception. The chase sequence that puts this film on the list starts with Harry and his partner on stake out in their car. A radio-controlled car rolls up alongside them. They look at it with amusement until Harry sees the car drive under his. And then he realizes that there’s a bomb strapped to the kid’s toy. Harry guns his engine and takes off. The remote control car follows. And the chase underway. It is an excellent take off and tribute to all movie car chase scenes as well as a nice homage to the specific genre of car chase sequences shot in San Francisco. (May I recommend ‘Bullet,’ and ‘Magnum Force.’)
John Frankenheimer was a master of the thriller. For proof, may I present ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ the criminally underrated ‘French Connection II’ and the film currently under discussion? ‘Ronin’ was Franhenheimer’s return to the large palate of feature filmmaking after regaining his footing after a stint direction made-for-TV-movies. ‘Ronin’ is set in France. It involves gun runners, an assassination plot and a lot of car chases. It was Frankenheimer that insisted that all the chase scenes actually be shot and not recreated by green-screen or other computer tricks. When you see Robert DeNiro driving the car the wrong way down the road at 100 mph and Richard Price looking like he’s going to soil his pants as he rides shotgun, that’s actually DeNiro doing the driving and Price doing the soiling.
The French Connection
Really, the name of this article should be ‘one cool chase sequence,’ because, without ‘The French Connection,’ there is no article. The film is a masterpiece and always exciting to watch. But it is the chase scene that makes the movie, in my humble opinion, one of the great films of all time. Police detective Popeye Doyle is chasing a suspected member of a drug smuggling ring. He’s gotten on the subway. Doyle grabs his car. And as the subway car makes its way out of the city, into the Bronx on an elevated track, Doyle follows on the streets below. Shot without permits, at full speed and with the cameraman wrapped in a mattress to avoid injury, this is the first and only example one ever needs as to why computer generated effects are a poor replacement for the actual thing. -Sam
The writing life is a lonely one. You spend much of your day in a room. Alone with your thoughts and a typewriter. Or a computer. Or a dull #2 pencil and piece of paper. You get the point. So maybe it’s no surprise the cinema is rife with films about the loneliest pursuit in Hollywood. [Read more...]