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Top 5 John Carpenter Movies

victor

John Carpenter pulls no punches. He is a director of horror, science-fiction, and cult hit movies. He is the master of it. There are no Academy Awards on his shelf, yet he boasts a string of extremely popular films that have made him one of the most successful directors of his generation. From classics like “Escape from New York” to “Starman,” Carpenter has been entertaining and frightening us for decades. Here is my list of Top 5 John Carpenter Movies.

5.  They Live – Carpenter rarely does blatant social commentary but his low budget, alien-among-us opus, They Live oozes with it. Consumerism, apathy, alienation and some political satire. Yes, the film is cheesy at times and the make up is a joke. I think it actually adds to the appeal of the film. Carpenter is in complete control here and it shows. A great, long fight scene by the 2 main leads, Roddy Piper and Keith David, is incredible to watch. Possibly the longest fight scene ever filmed. A great sci-fi outing that never disappoints. Obey. Sleep. Consume.

4. The Fog – I really love this film. Carpenter’s follow up to Halloween cements his place among the upper tier of horror filmmakers. The Fog is first and foremost a dreamy, ghost story that is chock full of mood and menace. A scary campfire tale come to life. Dean Cundey’s photography is top notch as always and Carpenter’s score is intense and ethereal. Carpenter juggles multiple characters and tells a ghastly story about wronged pirates come back to to life to exact revenge. Great film. Just steer clear of the remake.

3. Big Trouble in Little China – Oh that Kurt Russell. He flexes his comedic muscles here as a heroic but bumbling truck driver who unwittingly stumbles upon an age-old Chinese feud. Full of great choreographed fight scenes (way before Crouching Tiger), this tribute to Kung-Fu films is amazing to watch because of Carpenter and Russell’s tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm. It has wizards, ghosts and creatures aplenty. Just plain fun. I have yet to meet someone who did not like this film.

2. Halloween – This film is a masterpiece. Halloween is an example of how to make a horror film right. Much has been said about this influential film that was shot for only $350,000. Cundey’s camera work, Carpenter’s music, and the great lead characters make his film vastly superior to it’s cheap knock-off peers. Yes, it is a slasher film but it is done with the utmost care, precision and love for the then young genre. We care for the characters and Carpenter carefully establishes that Micheal Myers is a force to be reckoned with. Insanely perfect all around, Halloween is a must see.

1. The Thing – Carpenter’s Citizen Kane. The Thing sports an all male cast finely tuned and lead by Carpenter’s frontman, the always capable Kurt Russell. This is a sci- fi whodunnit with paranoid flair. Everything here is masterfully done. The ensemble is flawless. Cundey’s camerawork is miraculous to watch. Carpenter’s direction is tight and precise. But it’s the suspense that Carpenter establishes and the make up FX by Rob Bottin that really shine here. The film plays out like some morbid, alien take of an Agatha Christie novel where we are witness to the characters beginning to fear and distrust each other. The blu-ray includes a fantastic commentary by Russell and Carpenter that is a fan favorite to this day. The Thing is a must own. It is my favorite Carpenter film. Enjoy.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

In this black-and-white film noir by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (True Grit, No Country for Old Men), Billy Bob Thornton stars as Ed Crane, an aimless barber who’s dissatisfied with his life in a small northern California town in the summer of 1949. His wife’s (Frances McDormand) infidelity presents Crane with an opportunity for blackmail that he thinks will turn his life around … but his scheme lays bare even darker secrets that eventually lead to murder. James Gandolfini co-stars.

Brian
Rating: 8 out of 10

The Coen Brothers float from genre to genre the way that David Bowie floats from music style to music style. They decide on a script, make the film, and tell a great story. There really is no weak part to their filmmaking. They weave a great tale, always get first rate performances from the actors, and have a keen visual eye for interesting camera angles and visual trickery to illicit an emotional response.I think when all is said and done; they are in the top 5 of American filmmakers ever.

“The Man Who Wasn’t There” is their take on film noir and they do a terrific job. It’s not perfect; “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men” were perfect. But for film noir, it’s great. A lot has to be said for the film’s editing. This is a film that relies a lot on silence. The main character (played note perfect by Billy Bob Thornton) is a man of few words but deep thought. His narration accompanies the film wonderfully and fills in the blank spaces. Much of the dialogue is one way. A character talks to Billy Bob and he just nods. His quiet demeanor leaves an aura of unpredictability to his character that keeps the film moving. You never know what’s bubbling underneath the surface. Is it rage? Anger? Fear? Sadness? Happiness? We don’t always know and it leaves a lot to our imagination.There’s also first rate work here by the entire cast. James Gandolfini, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, and particularly Tony Shalhoub as the eccentric and fast-talking lawyer Freddy Riedenschneider are awesome all around.

The problem with the film is the few loopholes in the story that made little sense to me. If Billy Bob’s character was trying to move on from his wife and create his own life, why did he pay through the nose for a top flight lawyer? It seemed closed and shut that he eliminated two problems at the same time: his wife and her adulterous lover. Also, for a guy who seems to think out every deal, he couldn’t see that the man starting the dry cleaning business was a scam? The last reel of the film is a disappointment because the setup was so good. But all in all, I highly recommend it, particularly if you love old black and white film noir.

Catfish

Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman document the strange series of events that unfolds when a gifted 8-year-old artist named Abby contacts Nev, a 24-year-old photographer (and Schulman’s brother), through Facebook. After Abby sends Nev a remarkable painting based on one of his photos, Nev begins corresponding with her family — including her seductive 19-year-old sister. Realizing that something’s not quite right, Nev sets out to uncover the truth.

Brian
Rating: 5 out of 10

If Catfish is real, it’s a 7. If it’s not, it’s a 3. So, I’m basically giving it a 5 because I’m not sure. Either way, it’s a well told documentary/mocumentary that had me very interested in its outcome. The lead up was boring as shit. Guy starts getting paintings that are supposedly from a young girl named Abby. He then starts corresponding with several members of her family and develops an online romance with one of them. It keeps escalating and escalating until the guy starts to notice things don’t add up and starts to investigate while his brother documents the whole thing. As in other reviews, I will not tell you what happened except to say that the ending is done in a satisfying way. There are no weird killings or bullshit like that. It’s just a story about how people communicate and hook up in the digital age and how things are not always what they seem.

By the way, I looked into this film to see if it’s real and the two brothers that made it swear up and down that it is. I have no evidence to state otherwise but I have my suspicions that it isn’t.

The Kids Are All Right

Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), the children of same-sex parents Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), become curious about the identity of their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo) and set out to make him part of their family unit, often with hilarious results. But his arrival complicates the household dynamics, and nobody is sure how he fits in — if at all — in this Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning comedy.

Lauren
Rating: 8 out of 10

“This Kids Are All Right” is as good as the critics say it is (95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

The movie’s cast was excellent, with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a married, lesbian couple raising two teenagers and Mark Ruffalo as their sperm donor. Every character is likable at times and irritating at others. I didn’t always understand their motivation or agree with their choices but that’s the way we all feel about one another, isn’t it? These characters are all flawed and come across as real, genuine people muddling through a unique situation.

When the older of the two kids turns 18, she gets in touch with her mothers’ sperm donor and, along with her brother played by Josh Hutcherson, the family begins to get to know him.

It seems complicated and difficult but I was rooting for this family to figure it out and make it work the whole time.

Funny People

Famous and wealthy funnyman George Simmons (Adam Sandler) doesn’t give much thought to how he treats people until a doctor (Torsten Voges) delivers stunning health news, forcing George to reevaluate his priorities with a little help from aspiring stand-up comic Ira (Seth Rogen). Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) writes and directs this moving comedy that also stars Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman and Aubrey Plaza. Directed by Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up).

Kyle
Rating: 7 out of 10

As we mentioned briefly in our second episode of the podcast, there are good Apatow films and bad ones. The only trend that I notice is that the bad ones are usually the film he produces and not writes and/or directs. Luckily, we at The Movie Brothers categorize “Funny People” as a good Apatow film.

I really enjoyed this movie in that it included a very perfect blend of comedy and drama. Many people were disappointed in that this wasn’t a constant laugh-out-loud experience, which it isn’t but all of Apatow films aren’t going be like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” in that respect. Just because it isn’t 100% comedy doesn’t make it a bad film. I really liked the issues tackled in this film mainly because I haven’t seen them in other films; like the consequences of stardom, struggling with a career, relationship issues, the girl that got away, etc. Perhaps some of these issues are used in other films but this film just blends them together differently and in realistic manner.

Additionally, I was very pleased with Adam Sandler’s performance. I was briefly worried that this would be another unfunny Adam Sandler character of the last decade but as soon as I saw the trailer I knew he was going to be playing a different character. The only thing that that could have been changed would be the story and editing. Some of the subplots could have been removed or at least trimmed.