John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

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Directed by Chad Stahelski

Written by Derek Kolstad, Shay Hatten, Chris Collins & Marc Abrams

Story by Derek Kolstad

Based on Characters by Derek Kolstad

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston & Ian McShane

Release Date: May 19, 2019

Running Time: 2hr 10min

Rating: R

Plot: Super-assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head – he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.

Personal opinion: As usual this series does not disappoint! It’s hard to keep the energy going for 3 movies but damn does the movie pull it off! Some of the best fight scenes and shootouts I’ve ever seen, plus top notch martial artists showing off their mad skills! Hard to believe Keanu Reeves is 54 years old! He’s still got major charisma, and this material works with his low key acting.

Should you see it? If you like balls to the wall action then absolutely!

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Super Mario Bros. (1993): Part 1, Backstory

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Yes, they’ve had some work done over the years! What of it!?

It’s the early 90’s. Nintendo is one of the biggest video game developers in the world (shocking to hear I know!) and Super Mario Bros. is one of the biggest games ever (also shocking to hear I’m sure!). At this point Nintendo was no stranger to branching out beyond video games. Their pint sized plumber had animated series, comics, toys (non video games) and even a breakfast cereal (something I didn’t know about till years later, so I’ve yet to actually try any of it!). The next big step seemed to be a MAJOR MOTION PICTURE! Development for a live action Super Mario Bros. movie was in the works since basically the very first game sporting this title. In fact,this was the very first movie based on a video game! YAY!?

Oh sure, there had been movies centered around video games before this.

There’s the 1983 comedy, Joysticks, directed by schlock filmmaker, Greydon Clark, and starring walking meat sweats, Joe Don Baker. I’m not sure how many people actually remember this movie, most likely kids who grew up in the 80’s. I was born in 1987, so I barely grew up in the 80’s. While I haven’t seen this movie yet, I’ve seen movies by this filmmaker, and featuring this actor, and yeah I feel my descriptions of them are correct. If you’ve seen Mitchell or Final Justice (another Greydon/Joe Don collaboration) you’ll know exactly what I mean!

And who can forget the 1989 commercial…er, I mean…family drama/coming of age/road movie, The Wizard (starring Fred Savage, Jenny Lewis, Christian Slater, Beau Bridges, and an uncredited and mulleted Tobey Maguire), which was the U.S. debut of Super Mario Bros. 3, which is one of the best selling and acclaimed video games OF ALL TIME…so, you know, there’s that (personally, I don’t think it’s that bad of a movie). It also introduced us to the Power Glove, which was so bad…in many ways!

What was I talking about again? Oh, right, the Super Mario Bros. movie! I’m sure I don’t need to explain the basic plot of your typical Mario game, right? Well, ok. Short, chubby, mustachioed, Italian plumber, Mario (often paired with his younger, taller, but also mustachioed brother, Luigi) fight various enemies to try and rescue Princess Peach (ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom) from Bowser the King Kuppa (turtle like creatures). That’s pretty much it. The plot is as basic as it gets (at least the early games, others would sometimes have more going on, but most of the time it’s basic platforming). How exactly do you make a movie out of that? And in live action? They found a way! Kind of…sort of…

Well, at least John is taller than Bob!

Who do we get to play our Italian plumbers? How about Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning British actor, Bob Hoskins, and Golden Globe nominated and Emmy Award winning Colombian American actor/comedian, John Leguizamo!? What? That sounds like odd casting to you? Especially the latter casting? Well, how about you see them in their costumes!? How do they look now!? Yeah…

Frank Booth may have gone a bit too far on self pleasure!

And to play our main villain, who better than counter culture icon and two time Oscar and Golden Globe nominee, Dennis Hopper! Does he look like a turtle? Actually, no…in this movie, Koopa (as he’s named, instead of Bowser) he’s a descendant of the T-Rex… So, he looks like a dinosaur person then? Um…no… He’s more of a corrupt politician, with weird hair.

The story behind the making of this film are about as notorious as film itself. The film was directed by husband and wife team Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, who are best known for creating 80’s icon, Max Headroom. The two had one other film credit before this, a remake of the 1949 film noir classic D.O.A. (no relation to the Takashi Miike films or the fighting game series with the impossible jiggle physics). They apparently had massive egos and pretty much did whatever they want with the $50 million budget (a large budget for a 1993 Hollywood film). They wanted to make some kind of dark future setting movie, while everyone else working on it wanted to make a kids movie (go figure?).

One of the more fun stories comes from co-star John Leguizamo, who dedicated a whole chapter in his autobiography (Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends: My Lifeabout the making of the film. He and Bob Hoskins would drink excessively to get through shooting (certain scenes it’s pretty obvious). Hoskins accidentally broke a finger early on in production and had to wear a flesh colored cast the rest of the shoot. It’s fun reading how Leguizamo was amazed at how easily Hoskins switched from a Brooklyn accent to his native British Cockney accent (that was usually after an injury that would lead him to go into a tirade of expletives). Hoskins was also unfamiliar with the video games, his son, Jack, showed him his own copy when he asked what his latest film project was. Jack himself enjoyed the film and his father’s performance, being too young to understand the poor reviews at the time.

  • From IMDB Trivia: Dennis Hopper explained why he did the film – “I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my six-year-old son at the time – he’s now 18 – he said, ‘Dad, I think you’re probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?’ and I said, ‘Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes,’ and he said, ‘Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.'” (I enjoy bits of trivia like this)

Looking back, it seemed like a bad idea from the get go to even do Mario in live action. Oh sure, there was the 1989 TV series The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, that featured  live action segments starring late wrestling star, Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells as Mario and Luigi (as well as voicing the animated counterparts, plus Albano was considered for the role in the live action movie). But those live action segments were just silly comedy bits with celebrity cameos, no jumping on enemies and trying to fight a turtle dragon thing. I personally don’t think Mario could ever work in live action because of the stylized look and cartoony in general. If I’m proven wrong then kudos to that filmmaker that does it!

I’m also just gonna say it now, this isn’t among the worst films ever made. It’s certainly not what you’d call good film, but I have seen WAY WORSE. Hell, I have seen worse video game movies (Uwe Boll’s filmography alone makes up basically all of them!).

I should probably talk about the plot already. Stay tuned!

Avatar (2009), Part 1: The Hype

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That iceberg sure tried though!

Backstory: In 1997, James Cameron released the epic disaster period drama, Titanic onto the world. It became the highest grossing film of all time! It won 11 Oscars (3 alone for Cameron for Best Editor, Director, and Picture) plus many others. What was he gonna do next!? Well, for a while, not much besides documentaries (including one about the Titanic, more to say I guess). He’d also produce that show starring Jessica Alba that you don’t remember (kinda like how you barely remember Jessica Alba), featuring that one guy who’d be on NCIS, and then a show playing fan fic Dr. Phil.

Mysterious! And such a lovely font!

Then, 12 years later, posters started showing up at cinemas! It featured part of a blue face with a big yellow eye (so help me God, yellow eye!). The top of the poster read “From the director of ‘Titanic'” (Oh hey! I remember that movie!). And at the bottom was a title: Avatar (not to be confused with the popular Nickelodeon animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I bet some kids were).

What did it mean!? I don’t know! Then we eventually got a teaser trailer! Sci-fi stuff, spaceships, special effects, and giant blue cat people! What did it mean!? Again I don’t know! More trailers would (sort of) reveal plot elements, but of course you had to see the movie fully find out! And did the hype work? You bet your stupid ass it did!

Reception: Avatar became the highest grossing film of all time, grossing a whopping $2.788billon at the box office (dethroning Cameron’s own Titanic)! It was a hit with critics and audiences the world over! It was nominated for a slew of Oscars (winning 3 for Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Art Direction) and other awards.

So now it would seem Cameron could do anything he wants! What was he gonna make next!? Sequels to this! Oh…um…cool… How many? Four? Really? There’s enough going on for that? Well at least it shouldn’t take long for another to come out, right? Not till 2021? Really? He gonna direct anything else between then? No? Another 12 year gap between making films? Huh…

Ok, I think that covers what you need to know as we go into the plot. Stay tuned!

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019)

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Directed by Rob Letterman

Written by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman, & Derek Connolly

Story by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, & Nicole Perlman

Based on Detective Pikachu by The Pokémon Company

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Bill Nighy, & Ken Watanabe

Release Date: May 10, 2019

Plot: A former Pokémon trainer teams up with an intelligent Pikachu (that only he can speak to) to track down his missing father.

Personal opinion: I grew up with Pokémon, I remember how HUGE it was back in the day. I watched the anime religiously, saw the first two movies in theaters (I even bought the soundtracks), and collected several mini figures. I played the games some, but not as fanatically as others.

I’ll admit, for years I didn’t think a live action Pokémon movie was possible. It just seemed way too fantastical of a setting to translate into that medium. Some things just don’t work in live action as many previous attempts have shown.

I’m so glad to be proven wrong! This movie was amazing! The special effects were so good. The performance were all top notch, it was funny, thrilling, and a fun detective story. This is better than I expected and better than it needed to be! I hope they make more!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

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Directed by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones

Written by and Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, & Michael Palin

Release Date: May 25, 1975

Running Time: 1hr 31min

Rating: PG

Plot: King Arthur and his knights of the round table go on a quest for the Holy Grail. That’s about it really. The Pythons play multiple roles (sometimes in the same scene), get involved in various comedic situations, meet an array of wacky characters, and along the way learn to the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Honestly, trying to describe any more would be a waste of time. It’s damn near impossible to explain what makes a comedy great. If you’ve seen this movie and loved it, you understand! If haven’t seen it, some of these screenshots will mean nothing to you.

Personal history/how I came to see this film: When I was but a lad of 13, one of my friends informed me of this film’s existence, declaring it one of the funniest movies ever! Naturally, I had to see it! So I rented a VHS copy at my local Blockbuster Video (oh my god I’m old!) and watched.

I’m gonna admit it, at the time I didn’t get the appeal. It was one of those movies that would take at least another viewing before I fully appreciated the mastery behind this absurd British farce. But it didn’t take long for me to love it!

I took every opportunity to show it to my friends who hadn’t seen it and they thankfully fell in love too.

Reception: At the time of release it had mixed reviews, but it brought in a $5 million profit against a $400,000 budget, so it’s safe to say it was a hit with audiences! Since then it’s been ranked among the best comedies ever, been referenced in numerous other forms of media, and spawned a 2005 Tony Award winning Broadway musical adaptation, Spamalot (written by Python’s own Eric Idle).

Personal Opinion: I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that I adore this movie! If you’ve seen other parts of my site then you know it’s one of my all time favorite movies. Every scene has something quotable in it, not every movie can boast that.

On the technical side it’s rough for sure, the clacked coconuts together instead of riding horses (using coconuts instead of horses came about mainly from not being able to afford horses and how unsure Graham Chapman could successfully mount and dismount), as expected from such a low budget, but you hardly notice thanks to clever wordplay and site gags.

Behind the scenes stories make it clear that the shooting was often rough (the knight armor was actually made of wool, and the weather conditions in Scotland and England where they filmed was often rainy, leaving them cold and damp). Everyone did their best to make a funny and entertaining movie and they succeeded. I’ve seen it twice in theaters in rereleases, and I’ll see it again in theaters if I have the chance!

Should you see it? Yes! I have nothing more I can say about this movie!

The Shining (1980)

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Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Written by Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson

Based on the novel by Stephen King

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, & Scatman Crothers

Release Date: May 23, 1980

Running Time: 2hr 26min

Rating: R

Plot (Spoilers): Recovering alcoholic, and former school teacher, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), accepts a job as winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in the isolated Colorado Rockies.

Closed during the winter season, Jack hopes the remote location will give him the peace and quiet he needs to work on a book. He’s told by the manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) of a tragedy that happened at the hotel years ago, where a former caretaker Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) murdered his family then himself, giving the hotel a bit of a reputation. Jack seems unaffected by the story and thinks the hotel will make for a good stay.

He takes along with him his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd), who possess psychic abilities that hotel cook Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) calls “the shining.” Hallorann also has these abilities, and he and Danny are able to communicate telepathically.

He asks Dick if bad things happened at the hotel, but he tells Danny that they’re merely memories left over that only someone with the shining can feel and not to worry; but he also warns him to stay away from Room 237.

As a month goes by and the snow sets in, Jack’s behavior starts get a bit erratic and Danny sees visions spirits in the hotel. Things take a turn when Danny gets hurt and Wendy thinks Jack caused the injury (having previously dislocated Danny’s shoulder while drunk).

Jack begins seeing spirits as well, including bartender Lloyd (Joe Turkel), who he gladly takes a drink from. Wendy tells Jack about seeing some woman in Room 237, and is responsible for strangling him. Jack and investigates and despite seeing the woman he denies this to Wendy.

Things only get worse as Jack also encounters the ghost of Grady, who encourages him to “correct” his family. Danny meanwhile sends a shining message to Halloran (who’s in Florida) who does his best to try and get to him.

Wendy is forced to fight off Jack and lock him in the food storage. But she discovers the two way radio and snowcat are disabled, leaving them trapped at the hotel.

Jack escapes with the help of Grady and attempts to kill Wendy and Danny. Danny gets out through a window and Wendy manages to evade an attack from Jack. Hallorann arrives at the hotel but gets killed almost immediately, causing Danny to scream in terror and be chased by Jack through the hedge maze. Danny escapes the, reunites with Wendy, and jack ends up trapped in the maze and freezes to death.

Personal history/how I came to see this film: My first recollection of seeing this movie was around age 9 or 10, mostly clips from the end of the movie. Like pretty much every Kubrick film, there have been countless spoofs, many of which I grew up with (the most notable one being the Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror V in the first segment, The Shinning).

Eventually I’d see the whole movie on one of the premium cable networks (HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc). This was the fourth Kubrick film I saw in theaters, getting to see it around the Halloween season of 2016.

Reception: The movie was a modest hit at the box office and received mixed reviews from critics, but in later years has been highly regarded as a horror classic. Author Stephen King was not too happy with how the adaptation turned out (even scripting a 1997 TV adaptation), but over the years he’s softened on his opinions.

In 2001, the film was ranked 29th on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list and Jack Torrance was named the 25th greatest villain on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list in 2003.

In 2005, the quote “Here’s Johnny!” was ranked 68 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list.

In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Personal Opinion: I love this movie! I’ve never read the book, and while I know there are major differences I doubt reading the book would detract from my enjoyment of the film.

I personally disagree with Stephen King that this version of Jack Torrence isn’t sympathetic. Sure, we know he’s gonna lose it (it is Jack Nicholson after all), but it’s also a horror film so that’s basically a given. It’s just that with Nicholson in the role it’s even more obvious. Still, I do think the character starting out has good intentions, but gives into the madness (and perhaps way easier than in the book based on what I’ve been told).

Shelley Duvall is amazing too. Maybe her character is at times too weak willed and sone might find her performance over the top at times, but Duvall definitely puts everything into her performance and you totally buy her fright (which I think justifies the over to top moments). Based on the scenes stories and footage, Kubrick really put her through a lot with crazy amounts of takes (something he was well known for) and acting coldly towards her (as a way to motivate her performance), but she has stated she wouldn’t trade the experience (but wouldn’t wanna go through it again, understandable).

Kid actors can be problematic (as in not very good), but Danny Lloyd did a good job. It’s even more impressive when you consider he didn’t know he was making a horror film (he wouldn’t see an uncut version of the film till 11 years after he made it). The rest of the cast does a good job too with their brief scenes.

It’s no surprise that the film is well made, would you expect anything else from Kubrick? I especially enjoy the opening areal shots along with the eerie score by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind that sets the uneasy mood throughout the film.

I also love the Steadicam work by Garret Brown (inventor of the device) and how it follows Danny on his big wheel around the halls of the hotel. It allows for some other wonderfully immersive shots.

This was another film shot by cinematographer John Alcott (who also shot Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon), and as usual the lighting and use of shadows is amazing.

Then there’s of course the production design by Roy Walker (who would also work on Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut). The hotel is very much its own character in this movie, with seemingly never ending hallways, the large open lounge area, and the tight hedge maze.

Should you see it? If you’re a fan of horror then absolutely! If you’re a fan of film in general (like me) then I’d say also give it a watch.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

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Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Written by Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, & Terry Southern

Based on the book Red Scare by Peter George

Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, & Slim Pickens

Release Date: January 29, 1964

Running Time: 1hr 35min

Rating: PG

Plot: US Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), who has gone crazy from Cold War paranoia, sets off a special order to a group of B-52’s (carrying hydrogen bombs) piloting near USSR airspace to attack.

Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) of the UK Royal Air Force attempts to stop Ripper and get the code needed to stop the strike, only to be held hostage by him in his office on the Burbleson Air Force Base.

Ripper thinks the Soviets have been using fluoridation of the American water supplies to pollute the “precious bodily fluids” of Americans.

Meanwhile, in the War Room at the Pentagon, General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) briefs President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) and other officers on the situation, and the difficulty of figuring out the 3 letter code (known only by Ripper) to end the strike before it’s too late.

Muffley orders the capture of Ripper, then allows Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski (Peter Bull) into the War Room to talk to the Soviet Premier on the “hot-line” to give the positions of the bombers should they be unable to get the code in time.

More complications arrive when Sadeski informs the War Room of a doomsday machine built in the USSR that’s set to go off should any nuclear strike hit the country. This would cause massive nuclear fallout, basically killing all life on the Earth’s surface.

It’s at this point we meet the President’s wheelchair-bound scientific advisor, the former Nazi German Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers), who points out that such a doomsday machine would only be an effective deterrent if everyone knew about it, de Sadeski replies that the Soviet Premier had planned to reveal its existence to the world the following week. [Very poor timing!]

We also follow one of the bombers, commanded by Major T. J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens), as they go through all the procedures to drop the bomb.

Personal history/how I came to see this film: I’m not exactly sure when I first heard of this movie. The scene of Major Kong riding the missile (and parodies) I’d seen more times than I can count! It was probably in middle or high school that I first heard of the title.

The most I knew then was that it was a comedy based around the possibility of nuclear annihilation, and that Peter Sellers played 3 principle characters. It was in my early to mid 20’s that I finally got around to seeing it, and then I got to see it in theaters in 2016 along with my best friend.

Reception: The film did well at the box office, was a hit with critics, was nominated for 2 Oscars (Best Actor for Sellers and Best Adapted Screenplay) plus other awards. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress included it in the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. And the American Film Institute included it as #26 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, #3 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs, #64 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Quotes (“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”), and #39 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition). It’s appeared in numerous other lists and in general is considered among the funniest movies ever made.

Personal opinion: Never before or since has nuclear war been so hilarious! Filled with numerous memorable lines, scenes and characters that stick with you long after watching it.

The principle cast is it top notch. Sellers was a chameleon, the three roles he plays are so distinct you forget they’re being played by the same person (he should’ve won that Oscar). Scott is hilarious and bombastic as Buck, Hayden comically sinister as Ripper, and Pickens basically steals the whole show with his final bomb ride!

The black and white cinematography by Gilbert Taylor is nice and crisp, showing of every great detail of the production design by Ken Adam (who would also work on Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, winning an Oscar for best Production Design). So yeah, I like this movie a lot!

Should you see it? Yes! It’s a comedy classic for a reason!

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

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Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Written by Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, & Gustav Hasford

Based on the novel “The Short-Timers” by Gustav Hasford

Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, & R. Lee Ermey

Release Date: June 26, 1987

Running Time: 1hr 56min

Rating: R

Plot: The story is set in two parts during the Vietnam War. The first part begins at a boot camp at Parris Island, where we meet our main character, Private J.T. Davis Matthew Modine, nicknamed “Joker” by the ruthless drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey).

The other recruit we follow is Private Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio), who’s dimwitted nature (leading to the nickname “Gomer Pyle”) and weight issues make him a target to Hartman’s cruelty. Eventually, pressure takes its toll on Leonard’s mental state, leading to a tragic turn.

The second half of the story follows Joker (now a sergeant) as a war correspondent in South Vietnam for Stars and Stripes with Private First Class Rafterman (Kevyn Major Howard), a combat photographer. They join up with a squad of marines, called the Lusthog Squad, where Joker is reunited with Cowboy (Arliss Howard), another recruit he met while on Parris Island. Other members of the squad include trigger happy machine gunner Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), Eightball (Dorian Harewood), Touchdown (Ed O’Ross), Crazy Earl (Kieron Jecchinis), and Doc Jay (Jon Stafford).

Joker interviews them and other soldiers, asking their opinion of the war. They eventually get into some particularly heavy combat against a sniper, injuring or killing some of them. These leads to a tense stand-off and bloody climax, with Joker finally experiencing the thousand-yard stare.

Personal history/how I came to see this movie: I’m not entirely sure when I first heard of this movie. But I had unknowingly seen several references to it over the years in other films and TV shows. The character of Hartman alone has been imitated/ripped off in so many other things (some even done by Ermey himself). The phrases “Me so horny,” “Ain’t war hell,” “What is your major malfunction,” and a few others have been quoted in tons of things you’ve probably seen. [I myself heard the phrase “Me so horny” in an episode of South Park, where Cartman suffers a head injury and thinks he’s a Vietnamese prostitute.]

It was when I started learning more about Kubrick (around middle or high school) that I became familiar with the movie. I saw the first half and only the first few minutes of the second half on TV sometime in high school. This was the second Kubrick film I saw in theaters, seeing a special screening of it with my best friend. This was when I had finally seen it in its entirety.

Reception: The movie made a good profit at the box office, it was nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, plus nominated for several other awards (including a Golden Globe for Ermey). Some reviews were mixed, with many praising the performances (particularly Ermey and D’Onofrio) and technical aspects, while many felt the second half wasn’t as strong as the first half. It would rank #95 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills.

As mentioned earlier, many quotes and scenes from the movie have been featured in several other media. The line of dialog “Me so horny. Me love you long time,” uttered by the Da Nang street prostitute (Papillon Soo Soo) to Joker became a catchphrase in pop culture after it was sampled by rap artists 2 Live Crew in their 1990 hit Me So Horny and by Sir Mix-A-Lot in in his 1992 hit Baby Got Back.

Personal opinion: I do agree with others who say the first half is the better half, a lot more moody lighting an atmosphere going on. The war scenes are pretty typical stuff, but being a Kubrick film it’s all still shot very well with a solid soundtrack. Both halves also feature good performances, and the standoff against the Viet Cong sniper is well staged and suitably tense. Matthew Modine’s performance may not be considered as memorable as some of the other cast members, but he still manages to carry the film.

I own it on Blu-ray, which comes in a hardcover book packaging (with photos and trivia), while the disc itself has various special features (including commentary by cast members, and a behind the scenes featurette). So that definitely shows I like it a lot.

Should you see it? I think so, yes. If you’re ok with adult language and violence, then you should be able to enjoy this movie.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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img_0624Written & Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess

Starring: Malcolm McDowell

Release Date: December 19, 1971

Running Time: 2hr 16min

Rating: R

 

Plot: Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) is a young gang leader in a British dystopian future. He and his “droogs” spend a their days drinking drug laced milk, getting into violent altercations with rival gangs, beating up homeless people (and others), raping (you’ll never hear Singin’ in the Rain the same way again), and murdering.


Then one day, Alex’s cronies have enough of his shit and have him set up and arrested after he accidentally murders a crazy cat lady with a large penis statue (you read that right). While in prison, he volunteers for an experimental treatment (as it will allow him early release), and things spiral out of control for him after that.

Personal history/how I came to see this film: My first recollection of seeing this movie was in grade school, 8 or 9 years old. My mom was watching it for some kind of psych type class, I can’t really remember. I didn’t really watch it (I was on the family computer), but I definitely remember seeing snippets here and there. My mom didn’t care for it, and I can’t say I blame her!

I would see the whole movie eventually on one of those late night cable channels when I was around 13 or 14. And it became the first Kubrick film I saw in theaters in my early 20s, seeing it with my best friend. I own the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray, which has a plethora of extras.

Reception: This is a divisive film for sure. People either love it or hate it, there’s not usually an in between. It was certainly controversial upon initial release. Still, it made a decent profit at the box office, was nominated for a good few awards (including 4 Oscar nominations, 3 alone for Kubrick), been referenced throughout all aspects of pop culture, and is considered one of the greatest films ever made (currently #70 on the AFI’s 100 Beat Movies).

Personal opinion: I really like this movie! It’s well acted, amazingly directed, great cinematography by John Alcott (who was also cinematographer on Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and The Shining), has a unique production design, it’s at times intense and at other times darkly hilarious.

Having a main character who’s despicable but watchable is not an easy thing to do, and this movie benefits from perfect casting. Malcom McDowell is perfect as Alex; I honestly can’t imagine any other actor playing him as well. He delivers his lines with utter conviction and ease that’s it’s impossible not to like him at least a little bit. Still, it’s very satisfying when he gets his comeuppance!

The rest of the cast does a great job too. My favorite supporting character is probably Alex’s slimy parole officer, Deltoid (Aubrey Morris), his scenes are brief but memorable. My favorite scene is Alex’s altercation with the cat lady (Miriam Karlin) he’s trying to rob, where he won’t stop tapping her penis statue and making it wobble (I’m mature!). Another notable performance comes from Patrick Magee as a writer and past victim of Alex. At first sympathetic towards Alex after he’s assaulted (not recognizing him), his tune (nudge nudge) soon changes when he finds out who Alex is. His retaliation is entirely understandable.

This is the kind of movie that makes you wonder if it’s justifiable to change someone’s personality, even if said person is a vile member of society. While I’m satisfied with the karmic Justice Alex receives, I do indeed disagree with trying to forcibly change someone’s personality.

Should you watch it? That all depends on how well you handle violence and sexual content. It’s not the most graphic in those departments, but implication is often enough to be off putting.

If you can handle the ol’ ultra violence then I say give it a viddy on the screen!

Super Mario Bros. (1993): My First Guilty Pleasure

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super_mario_bros_xlgDirected by Rocky Morton & Annabel Jankel

Written by Parker Bennett, Terry Runté, & Ed Solomon

Starring: Bob Hoskins, John Legiuzamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher StevensRichard Edson, & Fiona Shaw

Release Date: May 28, 1993

Rated: PG

Plot: Two Brooklyn plumbers, Mario and Luigi, must travel to another dimension to rescue a princess from the evil dictator, King Koopa, and stop him from taking over the world. Also the princess is named Daisy (based on a preexisting Mario character) and she’s in love with Luigi (Mario already has a girlfriend in, who also gets captured, so it’s still kinda like the games!).

Also also, Koopa is from an alternate dimension where humans evolved from dinosaurs after a meteor crashed into Earth 65 million years ago that split the two worlds. What? Don’t you know anything about science!?

Personal Backstory (or how I came to see this): I was a mere 7 years old when I first saw this movie. No, I sadly didn’t get to see this in theaters. No, I’m not being ironic there, in hindsight, I really do wish I had see this in theater back in the day! I definitely remember seeing promos for it, as this movie was a huge deal when it was coming out! After it came out…not so much… Those familiar with this movie know that it was a massive bomb at the box office and was not popular with critics. It’s often listed among the worst films ever made (I personally think that’s an exaggeration, but I obvious have my biases).

Eventually, I got around to seeing it, thanks to what we used to call a “video rental store.” A copy of it was available on VHS at a store known as Blockbuster Video. Ah, the days before streaming, how I miss them! [Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to stream and download stuff, but those who remember video store will know what I mean by the nostalgia for renting videos.] This was one I would rent on multiple occasions until I eventually bought it on DVD. Those who remember being 7 years old you probably remember liking pretty much anything. I know I wasn’t very picky back then when watching stuff. Kids are stupid, we all know it’s true! But, I definitely recall the first time watching it that I didn’t think it was particularly good, and yet I couldn’t stop watching. This was before I was ever familiar with the term “so bad it’s good” or “guilty pleasure” or “enjoying it ironically.”

Why I like this movie: It holds my attention and entertains me throughout. The filmmakers took a video game with no real story (mustachioed plumber rescues princess from turtle dragon and stomps on enemies) and turned it into…that! Behind the scenes stories are also very amusing (John Leguizamo dedicated a whole chapter in his autobiography about the making of the movie), as Hoskins and Leguizamo often got drunk to get through the shoot (I can’t blame them). Still both give (for the most part) enthusiastic performances. I’ve always enjoyed both actors (Hoskins is the star Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of my all time favorite movies), and Hopper is delightfully hammy as Koopa. Everyone else is also a lot of fun to watch, the special effects are decent enough, and I can’t help but enjoy it.

If you don’t enjoy this movie in a so bad it’s good way (and that’s totally fair), then I recommend looking up the Rifftrax version of the film, it’s also tons of fun!