Tuesday, February 28, 2012

162 - The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1960)

DVD Box
A man comes to claim his bride but her brother won't give her up so easily.

When Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) comes to seek his betrothed -Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey) - the butler of the house - Bristol (Harry Ellerbe) - warns him against trying to come in. Philip insists to be announced where upon he meets Madeline's brother Roderick (Vincent Price).

Roderick warns Philip that both Madeline and the Usher house are cursed but in his insistence to take his love away with him Philip uncovers a deadly family secret.

Monday, February 27, 2012

161 - Faces (1968)

DVD Box
A couple with marital issues try swinging.

When Richard Forst (John Marley) gets tired of his wife (Lynn Carlin), he goes to visit a younger woman, Jeannie Rapp (Gena Rowlands). Following this encounter, he believes the only thing to do is to leave his wife for her.

Upon hearing the news his wife goes out to visit another man (Seymour Cassel). The film follows the couple as they struggle to leave a marriage they mutually dislike.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Films 161 - 170

The next ten films in the Empire 5-star Challenge are:
  1. Faces (1968)
  2. The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1960)
  3. Fanny And Alexander (1982)
  4. Far From Heaven (2002)
  5. Fargo (1996)
  6. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
  7. Field Of Dreams (1989)
  8. A Fistful Of Dollars (1964)
  9. Five Easy Pieces (1970)
  10. The Fly (1986)
I will need to check but I think the previous ten films have been my quickest set of ten yet (a mere 14 days). This is unsurprising as - with the exception of Eraserhead - the previous ten have been excellent. My three favourites have to be Dr. Strangelove (a simply brilliant satire), Les Enfants Du Paradis (a surprisingly good French drama) and Face/Off (an action to rival Die Hard). To top it off there was a couple of other classics in there that shouldn't be missed.

As for the next ten, I regret I haven't seen any of them before. I know that A Fistful of Dollars is a renowned Clint Eastwood film and as I've had the disc for Ferris Bueller for ages, I'm looking forward to watching that. As I don't really know any of the others I could be pleasantly surprised!

This next lot might take me a while as I'm working my way through the A-Z April Challenge. The list of that is now complete, so I know exactly which films I need to be watching! Expect March to be a quiet month on the review front, before the blog explodes with reviews in April. As most of the A-Z will be scheduled reviews, most of what I watch in April will be scheduled for May.

So, until next time!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

American Pie 2 (2001)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
The friends from East Great Falls reunite for summer.

Jim (Jason Biggs), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Oz (Chris Klein) have all just finished their first year at college - with similar experiences to high school in the bedroom.

With the impending visit of Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), Jim realises he must quickly get better in bed if he is to impress her. When Kevin's brother suggests the friends head out to the lakes for a wild summer of partying they head off with Stifler (Seann William-Scott) to the idyllic location.

Along the way Jim seeks advice from his first - and only - "experience", Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and has educational pointers thrust upon him by his Dad (Eugene Levy).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

160 - Face/Off (1997)

DVD Box
A top FBI agent takes on the appearance of a master criminal to discover the location of a hidden bomb.

FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) has been on the tail of criminal mastermind Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage) for years and when Troy is put into a coma, Archer realises that there is a planted bomb which Troy left as a legacy.

Using revolutionary technology, Archer is able to take the face of Troy in order to infiltrate the prison where Troy's brother is being held captive in order to find out the location of the bomb. When Troy somehow awakens from his coma though, Archer becomes trapped looking like Troy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

159 - Das Experiment (2001)

DVD Box
An experiment which forces people to assume the roles of guards and prisoners gets out of hand.

Tarek Fahd, a taxi driver, spots an advert in the local newspaper to take part in an experiment in exchange for 4000 German marks. He offers his services, and finds out that it is an experiment that consists of a mock prison, where volunteers take on the roles of prisoners and guards.

After undergoing various tests, Tarek is named as one of the prisoners and agrees to leave his civil rights behind. The guards are told to ensure that the prisoners adhere to the rules - including calling each other by their assigned prisoner numbers.

Tarek (no. 77) stretches the rules until one guard begins to show sadistic tendencies and - despite not being allowed to use violence as part of the experiment rules - begins to order compliance in "his" prison using whatever force necessary.

Monday, February 20, 2012

158 - Evil Dead II (1987)

DVD Box
A man inadvertently releases a spirit and it attempts to kill him before dawn.

When Ash takes his girlfriend for a quiet weekend at a secluded cabin the last thing he expects to find is a 'book of the dead'. As he switching on a recording of the book, a spirit rushes into the house, possessing his girlfriend.

So begins the most frightening night of Ash's life as he must try to remain alive against everything that the demon throws at him - whilst trying to finding a way to rid the world of it once and for all.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

157 - Eraserhead (1977)

DVD Box
In a post-apocalyptic nightmare, a man is forced to face his girlfriend and mutant child.

Henry Spencer lives alone in a warehouse in a post-apocalyptic industrial warehouse. Mary X is his girlfriend, and her parents despise him for making their daughter pregnant.

When she moves in she gives birth to a mutant baby, he is constantly kept awake by its incessant crying. To make things worse, his girlfriend abandons ship, leaving him to bring up the baby by himself, while being haunted by a woman in the radiator.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

156 - Les Enfants Du Paradis (1945)

DVD Box
A woman is pursued by four men; an actor, a mime, a rich man and a thief.

When Baptiste, a mime, first lays his eyes on Claire 'Garance' Renee, he is sure he must have her. He refuses to love her until she can pledge her love to him, and with a budding actor, Frederick, also after her affections she prefers to keep her options open. She is also the only person that Lacenaire, a thief, matters to and he won't give up his affection for her lightly.

Finally, she meets a rich benefactor, Count Eduard, but cannot bring herself to love him either. As time moves on, Baptiste's life becomes more complicated as another actress, Nathalie, falls for him, so when Garance returns to his life, tragedy ensues.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Theatrical Poster
Two Jedis uncover a threat to peace in the universe.

When Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are sent to negotiate with the Trade Federation over a blockade of the planet Naboo, they realise that it is nothing more than a cover for an invasion.

They rush back to Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) to warn her, picking up a Gungan Jar-Jar Binks on the way. The Queen decides to go and ask the Republic Senate for help, but when their ship is attacked, they are forced to land on a neutral planet called Tattooine where they meet a slave boy called Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd).

Qui-Gon sees potential in Anakin and bets for his freedom, but they must also be wary of Darth Maul - a Sith Lord dispatched to capture the Queen.

Monday, February 13, 2012

155 - Edward Scissorhands (1990)

DVD Box
An Avon lady finds an incomplete creation and tries to integrate him into a clockwork society.

Edward (Johnny Depp) has been living alone after his creator didn't manage to finish him - leaving him with scissors for hands. When Peg (Dianne Wiest), a makeup salesperson, finds him she invites him back to her home.

Although initially wary of him, the townsfolk welcome him for his ease of carrying out various cutting jobs from topiary to hairdressing. Things turn sour, however, when Peg's daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), takes a shine to him, much to the disgust of her boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

154 - E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)

DVD Box
An alien is left behind on Earth after its spaceship is threatened.

Elliot (Henry Thomas) is a lonely boy whose estranged father has run off to Mexico. When he hears noises in the garden he is more than a little surprised to find an alien that was left behind when its ship took off without it. He decides to keep it and names it E.T.

The authorities are aware of E.T.'s presence and as the net closes in Elliot must help E.T. escape and return to its family.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

153 - Dumbo (1941)

DVD Box
A young elephant is ostracised for having huge ears.

Despite initially loving the young elephant - Dumbo - brought by a stork, the other circus elephants soon exclude him for having large ears. Dumbo's mother is then isolated for violently protecting her son from incessant teasing,

Dumbo's only friend, Timothy Q. Mouse, encourages him to see that his ears are not a hindrance, and Dumbo soon learns the full benefit of his oversized lobes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

152 - Duck Soup (1933)

DVD Box
In order to save itself from bankruptcy, Freedonia is forced by a benefactor to appoint Rufus T. Firefly as its leader.

On his appointment it is clear he has very little interest in politics, turning serious situations into chaos with irrelevant one-liners and offering to lower the number of hours in the working day by cutting the lunch break.

The neighbouring Sylvania spots the opportunity to take control of Freedonia and sends over a pair of inept spies to obtain secret information. The tensions between the countries reaches a peak when Firefly is called an "upstart", forcing him to declare war on Sylvania.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

151 - Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

DVD Box
During the Cold War a mad American general launches a nuclear attack on the Russians. Trouble is, no-one knows how to stop it.

Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper is paranoid about the Russians poisoning the United States through its water systems, so uses a little-known politically induced system to launch a nuclear attack on the Russians. He places the base into lock down, meaning that everyone will have to fight him for the stop codes and the only man inside the base that could stop everything is the nervous exchange officer, RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) whom Ripper has complete control over.

When The President (also Sellers) catches wind of the crisis he confronts his Generals and when they fail to resolve the situation he enlists the help of Dr. Strangelove (again, Sellers), a former Nazi who warns The President of a lethal Soviet weapon that could destroy the world.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Films 151 - 160

The next ten films in the Empire 500 5-star challenge are:
  1. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
  2. Duck Soup (1933)
  3. Dumbo (1941)
  4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  5. Edward Scissorhands (1991)
  6. Les Enfants Du Paradis (1945)
  7. Eraserhead (1976)
  8. Evil Dead II (1987)
  9. Das Experiment (2001)
  10. Face/Off (1997)
With the exception of the bizarre Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, the last ten films were rather good. I especially enjoyed Double Indemnity which - to quote the brilliant Matthew Hunt - "invented most of the elements of film noir".

The next ten films will finish the 'D' films, storm through the 'E's and begin the 'F's. That seems like a lot of films, especially with the huge numbers of A, B and C in the list that have gone by.

I'm most looking forward to Das Experiment because my girlfriend is currently studying Criminology and Psychology and she got my interest in the Stanford Prison Experiment going. The American remake of this film left a lot to be desired. I have a piqued interest in Dr. Strangelove which has rave reviews elsewhere from critics, so that could be interesting. Finally, Duck Soup looks like it'll be a hidden gem.

So, until next time!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

150 - Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

DVD Box
A renowned Doctor creates a potion to split his good and bad personalities.

Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March) has it all. He is engaged to marry into a popular and wealthy family and he is a well respected lecturer. He is also free to air his theories on the human mind; especially where he believes that the good can be separated from the evil in all of us.

After a chance meeting with a prostitute, he believes his life isn't so rosy. He begins to lust after the prostitute and his future father-in-law continues to delay the marriage. Jekyll then decides to take matters into his own hands to rid himself of the evil but only succeeds in creating a violent monster named Hyde.

Monday, February 06, 2012

149 - Double Indemnity (1944)

DVD Box
An insurance salesman is persuaded into killing his client to claim on the double indemnity insurance.

Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is one of the rising stars in the insurance industry, impressing his boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson). However, when he goes on a routine visit to a client, the client's wife (Barbara Stanwyck) spots a way out from her loveless marriage.

She coerces Walter into killing her husband in a perfect murder to claim on the double indemnity insurance, but little do they know that Keyes' keen nose on spotting a fraudulent claim is right behind their every move.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

148 - Don't Look Now (1973)

DVD Box
After a young girl dies, strange things begin to happen to her parents.

While sorting through slides, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) suddenly gets a premonition that something has happened to his young daughter. He rushes outside, only to find her drowned.

Later, he and his wife Laura (Julie Christie) relocate to Venice. Laura meets a psychic who informs her that her daughter is watching over them from the dead. John is left perplexed and frustrated as he begins to see strange happenings including watching a girl in a red coat running around the streets of Venice.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

TotalFilm - 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time

56 remaining
In 2010, Total Film magazine produced a list of their 100 Great Movies Of All Time based on 13 years worth of back catalogue in their magazine. It should be noted that this shortlists the 160 movies that they had reviewed with 5-stars at the time.
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  2. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Alien (1979)
  3. ✓ see review ★★★★★ All About Eve (1950)
  4. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Amadeus (1984)
  5. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Amélie (2001)
  6. American Graffiti (1973)
  7. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Annie Hall (1977)
  8. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Apartment (1960)
  9. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Apocalypse Now (1979)
  10. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Avatar (2009)
  11. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Back To The Future (1985)
  12. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Badlands (1973)
  13. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Bambi (1942)
  14. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Battle Of Algiers (1966)
  15. Belle De Jour (1967)
  16. ✓ see review ★★★★ Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  17. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Big Lebowski (1998)
  18. ✓ see review ★★★★ Black Narcissus (1947)
  19. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Blade Runner (1982)
  20. Blue Velvet (1986)
  21. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
  22. Boogie Nights (1997)
  23. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Brazil (1985)
  24. ✓ see review ★★★★ The Cabinet Of Caligari (1920)
  25. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Casablanca (1942)
  26. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Chinatown (1974)
  27. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Cinema Paradiso (1988)
  28. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Citizen Kane (1941)
  29. ✓ see review ★★★★★ City Of God (2002)
  30. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Conversation (1974)
  31. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Dark Knight (2008)
  32. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Das Boot (1981)
  33. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Deer Hunter (1978)
  34. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Die Hard (1988)
  35. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Dirty Harry (1971)
  36. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Donnie Darko (2001)
  37. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Don't Look Now (1973)
  38. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Double Indemnity (1944)
  39. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)
  40. ✓ see review ★★★★★ E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  41. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Exorcist (1973)
  42. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Fargo (1996)
  43. Fight Club (1999)
  44. Finding Nemo (2003)
  45. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Gladiator (2000)
  46. ✓ see review ★★★★ Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
  47. ✓ see review ★★★★★ The Godfather (1972)
  48. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Goldfinger (1964)
  49. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Gone With The Wind (1939)
  50. ✓ see review ★★★★ GoodFellas (1990)
  51. Half Nelson (2006)
  52. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Halloween (1978)
  53. ✓ see review ★★★★★ Heat (1995)
  54. His Girl Friday (1940)
  55. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
  56. Jaws (1975)
  57. King Kong (1933)
  58. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  59. Lawrence Of Arabia (1962)
  60. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
  61. M (1931)
  62. Manhattan (1979)
  63. Metropolis (1927)
  64. Miller's Crossing (1990)
  65. Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979)
  66. Nashville (1975)
  67. Network (1976)
  68. Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
  69. No Country For Old Men (2008)
  70. North By Northwest (1959)
  71. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  72. The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928)
  73. Persona (1966)
  74. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  75. Psycho (1960)
  76. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  77. Raging Bull (1980)
  78. Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
  79. Rear Window (1954)
  80. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  81. The Seventh Seal (1957)
  82. Sideways (2004)
  83. Singin' In The Rain (1952)
  84. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  85. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
  86. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  87. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  88. Sweet Smell Of Success (1957)
  89. There Will Be Blood (2008)
  90. The Third Man (1949)
  91. This Is England (2006)
  92. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
  93. Tokyo Story (1953)
  94. Touch Of Evil (1958)
  95. The Truman Show (1998)
  96. Vertigo (1958)
  97. West Side Story (1961)
  98. When We Were Kings (1996)
  99. Withnail And I (1987)
  100. The Wrestler (2009)

Friday, February 03, 2012

The General (1998)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
The rise and fall of Martin 'The General' Cahill, a notorious Irish criminal in the 1980's and -90's.

Following his release from prison, Martin Cahill (Brendon Gleeson) fails in saving his beloved Hollyfield estate, but instead gains by being moved to an upmarket part of Dublin.

He refuses to get a job, continuing to withdraw his dole money and the carrying on with the life of crime that landed him in prison in the first place. He later gains notoriety after organising the robbery of a jewellers with a military precision, earning his nickname 'The General'.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

147 - Donnie Darko (2001)

DVD Box
A teenager is haunted by a strange rabbit-like creature who predicts the world will soon end.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a recovering schizophrenic. He is also a rebellious teen and when his mother finds out that he is no longer taking his medication she is less than impressed.

One night, Donnie is awakened by a mysterious rabbit-headed creature who leads him to a golf course. When he returns home in the morning he finds that an aeroplane engine has crashed through the roof of the house straight into his bedroom.

Later Donnie finds that the creature, whom he names Frank, has declared that the world will end within a week.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

146 - La Dolce Vita (1960)

DVD Box
A journalist in Rome enjoys the high life while never really achieving fulfilment.

Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is a notorious journalist in 1950's Rome, covering the gossip columns and seeking stories of the rich and famous.

His home life isn't nearly as glamorous as his fiancée combats depression due to Marcello's repeated flings with various high flying celebrities.