Monthly Archives: December 2012

Brian’s Top 10 Best Films of the 1970’s

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Brian’s Note – I just wanted to say that this list is only my opinion although I’m sure Matt would agree with most of the films on this list. If you want a list we did collaboratively you can look back on our Greatest Films of All Time List we did earlier. I’d also like to point out that the 1970’s was the best decade for American film in history in my opinion and this list was very hard to make.

10. Barry Lyndon:

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Kubrick’s haunting and gorgeously shot (some feel the most beautiful cinematography ever and it would be hard to disagree) costume epic about one man’s quest to climb the social ladder no matter the cost. The emphasis on hostility hidden behind the manners of the day is so well conveyed by Kubrick that it will stay with you for days.

9. Rocky:

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Stallone wrote and starred in this masterpiece that set into motion a chain of sequels, parodies, and knock offs that did their best to diminish the power of the original and yet it still endures. The greatest sports films are more about the characters than they are about the actual sporting event. It would be easy to label this as a boxing movie particularly because its sequels are exactly that. But, it isn’t. It’s a love story about two imperfect souls who couldn’t be more perfect together.

8. Star Wars:

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The grand-daddy of all the big budget Sci-Fi films to follow that can’t hold a candle to this movie. There’s not many people on this planet that haven’t seen this movie so I won’t waste my time telling you about it. I’ll just throw in a quick factoid. This movie was made for 6 million dollars. How in the hell did they do that when there’s films today with 20 times that budget don’t seem as grand and epic?

7. Apocalypse Now:

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Coppola’s version of Joseph Conrad’s Hearts of Darkness set during Vietnam is a gut shot of a film. It doesn’t try to document the war like Oliver Stone did with Platoon but to create an artistic expression of war as madness and despair. The further Martin Sheen travels down the river, the worse his psyche,  and ours along with him, get lost. The best part is that this movie only gets better with age.

6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest:

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This swept all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actress, Actor, Director, and Screenplay) in 1975. And, for once, they actually got it right. The greatest trait of this film is the was director Milos Forman mixes comedy with drama. You laugh with these characters and get attached to them. It makes it all that more effective when things turn tragic. It also contains the greatest performance of Jack Nicholson’s career.

5. A Clockwork Orange:

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Another Kubrick masterpiece that asks the question: “Can you cure a thrill criminal?” Malcolm MacDowell is utterly brilliant as Alex, a psychopath who almost approaches likeability if it weren’t for his obsession with hurting others. Kubrick wisely shoots the film entirely from his perspective and you see the world as he sees it: a playground of animalistic urges.

4. Jaws:

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The greatest popcorn movie of all time and the first summer blockbuster. I’ve read the Peter Benchley novel and quite frankly, it isn’t very good. The film improves every aspect of the story and Spielberg’s camerawork is utterly flawless. He would go on to make many hit films but this still remains his best.

3. The Exorcist:

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A film about love, sacrifice, and faith disguised as a horror movie. If all this film was about was a possessed girl puking pea soup on a priest, it would not be the revered classic it is today. The greater proof to my theory on that is the litany of bad sequels, ripoffs, and derivative crap that has come over the year. Not one of them has been any good.

2. Taxi Driver:

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Scorsese’s first masterpiece, like Apocalypse Now, is a descent into madness. Setting the story in NYC makes Travis’s tale of loneliness all the more profound. He’s surrounded by millions and yet not one person there even remotely understands him. The story also works because while he’s hailed as a hero near the end, his violent repression was going to come out one way or the other. If it hadn’t been against a group of pimps and lowlifes, it would have come against a U.S. Senator who could have become president. De Niro and Scorsese have never been better.

1. Godfathers 1 and 2:

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I’m going to cheat and name both the first and second Godfather because they are really two halves of an entire story. Once you actually get to the end of the second film you realize that it’s how a Father and son could be so alike and yet so different. Vito is a man of business but he still looks out for and cares people. Michael on the other hand is also all business but will cut the throats of even those closest to him. Its poetry, acting, and wonderful cinematography is why I chose these as the best films of the 1970’s.

Here are some Trailers to these incredible Films –

The Godfather Part II

The Exorcist

Jaws

Barry Lyndon

Apocalypse Now

Honorable Mentions:

The French Connection

Superman: The Movie

Badlands

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Halloween

Aguirre: The Wrath of God

Cries and Whispers

Chinatown

Deliverance

Amarcord

Alien

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Mean Streets

Days of Heaven

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Carrie

Eraserhead

Dawn of the Dead

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The Bond Films – “The Living Daylights” (1987)

General Georgi Koskov: I’m sorry, James.  For you I have great affection, but we have an old saying:  duty has no sweethearts.
James Bond: We have an old saying too, Georgi.  And you’re full of it.

Directed by John Glen

Reviewed by Victor

8 out of 10

The Living Daylights is the 15th Bond entry and the first of 2 films that starred Timothy Dalton as James Bond. I wish he had done more. The studio took a gamble that paid off in getting Dalton to bring an edgier, leaner Bond back to the big screen. Fortunately for all involved Roger Moore decided to hang it up with the Bond movies (He was close to 60 years old) after the ridiculousness of “A View to a Kill” which was a critical and financial let down. Moore did 7 films overall and for the most part his Bond was a long running gag, it seemed, until “For Your Eyes Only” which was the best Moore Bond in my opinion. Moore should have stopped there. He didn’t. Much to our astonishment. But, oh well he did have a good run and we had to move on since we all wanted more Bond and more Bond girls.

The first thing I loved right away was that the movie was a genuine spy picture and not an unintentional parody of itself. We get a very cool intro involving a training exercise in Gibraltar. Here we are re-introduced to the stoic and deadly serious new “M” played by Robert Brown (who would go on to play M four times) as the head of MI:6. He gives his paratroopers their instructions and has them jump out of an airplane to descend on awaiting soldiers with paint guns. But in typical action movie fashion some jerk has real ammunition and is ready to do some damage to the double O’s that are unaware it’s open season on British spies. This opening is fast and full of well choreographed action as we are introduced to our new Bond – Timothy Dalton. He’s fast, pissed and seriously wants to get the asshole who just did his mates in. And he does and soon after of course he lands on a yacht and convinces a bored woman that he is a “Real Man.”

I must admit, I wasn’t too keen on the “A-Ha” tune at first but it grew on me. It became catchy and after I purchased the Bond songs compilation CD a few years back it became one of my favorites behind Duran Duran’s and Sheryl Crow’s entries.

Right after the opening we get a somewhat faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s short story “The Living Daylights” It basically involves a Russian defector who frames his girlfriend Kara Milovy (Maryam D’abo) as an assassin. The defection though is not all that it seems to be since General Koskov  played by Jeroen Krabbe (The Fugitive) is blaming the innocent General Pushkin (John Ryhs Davies – Raiders of the Lost Ark) for putting out a hit on British Spies known as “Smert Shpionam.” Davies replaces Walter Gotell (General Gogol) after Gotell fell ill and could not work. After Koskov is re-captured Bond gets very suspicious and starts to tail Kara to get close to Koskov and pose as his old friend.

Former model D’abo is a bit weak as a Bond girl. She is too timid, quiet and at times too doe-eyed. She starts to really come into herself once she starts to figure out Bond’s intentions. She plays strongly off of Dalton and by the third act she is pretty much playing his equal. Dalton, though continues to impress. His seriousness and anti-establishment leanings are fun to watch as he bends the rules, rubs a co – agent the wrong way and defies orders. For example he gets Koskov out of the country using a very busty Russian double agent to entice a watchmen and off goes Koskov in a small tube in the Russian oil pipe-line. Great stuff. These little bits of levity are welcome but I loved the straight tone of the film. Even “Q” played by the ever lovable Desmond Llewelyn gets into the lighter moments as he introduces Bond to the latest spyware gadgets like my favorite – A large boom box with Missles. “Something we are making for the Americans. It’s called a Ghetto-Blaster!” Just fucking brilliant.

So, on with the rest of the cast. I really liked that they let us have, for once, a very cute and attractive Ms. Moneypenny here with the lovely Caroline Bliss. Bliss is at first a bit stiff but settles in nicely as she starts to flirt with Dalton and obviously she shows us that she pines for him as he turns to leave. She gives us the goo goo eyes and pouty lips. As the action and story nicely progress (after a long stunt filled chase scene in the snow and over a frozen lake using Q’s tricked out car) we end up in Afghanistan and we watch Joe Don Baker chew the scenery as the militant and sometimes buffonish arms dealer Brad Whitaker. He gets what’s coming to him as he double deals and back-stabs to no end. The big surprise for me was Art Malik as Kamran Shah as a leader of the Mujahideen. Art steals every scene he’s in starting as a lowly, dirty prisoner of war then being outed as a military leader in disguise. He and Dalton butt heads but Art’s loveable nature and his devotion to his cause (that involves Opium and Russian figureheads) is very believable.

So, to wrap it up, The Living Daylights is very good and the last “Cold War” entry of the franchise. John Barry’s score is hip but repetitive at times. He gives the movie sufficient momentum during a few tracks like the plane chase during the movie’s finale. I rather admire Barry for his long run as the stand out composer of the Bond films. (David Arnold as well). The finale is rousing fun with a great attack on the Russian airfield and Bond’s desperate attempt  to stop a bomb and drugs from leaving the country. So, there are bombs, bullets, camels, horses and a great climactic fight between Dalton and the dude with the small feet from “Die Hard” – Andreas Wisniewski as the deadly “Necros” (why are all these henchmen  blonde?) who gives it all he has to try and defeat Bond. The stunts are great and the action very entertaining. The last showdown between Bond and Whitaker is just plain hilarious. “He met his Waterloo”

So, enjoy this first of 2 Timothy Dalton entries, gang. It’s a goodbye to the Cold War Bond films and it works in all the right places. Recommended.

– Victor

The Bay (2012)

Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.

Reviewed by Victor

“The Bay” (2012)

Directed by Barry Levinson

7.5  Isopods out of 10

Barry Levinson, who brought us “Diner” and “Rain Man”  takes a stab at an ecological “Found Footage” movie. He actually succeeds in making a decent horror flick on a few levels. It doesn’t entirely work but Levinson’s tight direction and amazing pace makes “The Bay” and above average FF movie. I’m sure some of the most jaded FF fans will find some things to dislike about it. I, being one of them. Lately some FF movies, most notably “A Night in the Woods”, “The Dinosaur Project and “the Lost Coast Tapes” have been just outright turkeys. So, yeah, I am jaded. Even the FF movie “Evidence” which showed some potential just fell flat for me. Why am I cutting “The Bay” some slack? Levinson really builds up the suspense and he delivers the chills and puts together a nicely executed eco-thriller. The story about a contaminated Chesapeake Bay unfolds with true execution and is not a conventional FF movie thanks to writer Micheal Wallach’s unique take on how drinking and swimming in The Bay can have terrifying consequences. What I liked even more was the use of multiple POV’s in this movie.

The Movie begins with the character of Stephanie, a news reporter, played by Kristen Connolly (The Happening and Cabin in the Woods) video taping a confessional of sorts which includes how the contamination began which claimed the lives of so many of the local townspeople. As she goes on record about the politics and ignorance involved with the disaster we are riding shotgun with different angles and viewpoints that serve to propel the story. News broadcasts, web sites, security cameras, street cams and even Police dashboard cams are all used here to good effect. We get a more and more info on how the horror begins right up to how 2 teens are killed by flesh eating organisms after their camera washes up on the shore. It is revelations like these that keep the story unfolding. One particularly disturbing scene involves footage of a captured fish with disgusting organisms crawling inside of it. It seems that these nasties like eating the tongue. Yuck.

What I liked about this production was how real the threat really is. Two French researchers find out that the Bay’s toxicity is through the roof. Even when they submit the proof it falls on deaf ears. Even Mayor Stockman played by Frank Deal (The Bourne Legacy) refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. Instead of causing a panic he goes about drinking water in front of his towns people and doing radio shows exclaiming the safety of the water. Unfortunately it does not bode well at all for everyone involved. As we are shown more and more footage from various angles we find out that slowly but surely people are serving as hosts for flesh eating organisms that are eating people from the inside out. It starts with us watching one of the French researchers being eaten alive, infected fish being caught, infected policemen that lose control and commit suicide to avoid spreading the infection, outrageous stuff like that. Eventually as Stephanie exposes more about the contamination, Levinson builds the suspense and terror to a frightening level. Hospitals over-run with infected people, Women walking around screaming for help, videos of men impregnated with “Cymothoa Exigua” or Isopods, Police patrols encountering crazed and infected people.  All types of mayhem is caught on tape here. At one point the local hospital’s Doctor, who is hands down the most admirable character, tries his best to plead for help from the CDC who are at a loss at first as to what the threat may be. We watch as the back and forth between the Doctor and various people at the CDC gets intense and scary. Levinson just pours on the dread and suspense with further POV’s of the horrific infestation of the flesh eating creatures.

The film covers different angles and they all mesh and gel in good fashion here. The Mayor gets his comeuppance of course for his blatant ignorance and many innocent people die before a solution is found to destroying the organisms. Another angle covers a young married couple that almost avoids the infection but eventually after docking their boat and coming ashore it becomes a desperate race for the young Mother to protect her baby. Then of course throughout the film we have Stephanie covering the 4th of July crowd right before things go wrong. Stephanie guides us to the conclusion and the aftermath of the Isopod invasion. It is a tidy resolution and even if it isn’t near as good as what comes before it, it still resonates long after it ends. Levinson’s FF movie about a terrifying eco-disaster is a gripping, yet flawed effort. I took points off for some of the amatuerish acting and the all too tidy wrap up. I’m nitpicking though. The Bay is creepy, well executed and it changes things up a bit in the already tired FF genre. Also, I must mention the few scenes here and there that are very gory and violent. Levinson and Wallach pull no punches there.”The Bay” is definately worth a watch even if it’s just a one time viewing. Enjoy and please use your water filter if you are intent on drinking your city’s tap water. Enjoy.