Moonstruck fast became my favorite (non-gangster) Italian movie. I never gave too much thought to the movie, but my mom said I should see it so I did. All I knew about the movie before hand was that Cher won a Best Actress Oscar. Which definitely doesn’t happen every Oscar season. It takes a very determined singer to be able to carry their talent over to acting. And after seeing Moonstruck, I get why she won. She’s completely dedicated to her performance as Loretta, an unlucky Italian woman. The rest of the movie is pretty good too. Moonstruck focuses on the relationships of an Italian family. The title refers to a giant moon that comes out when everybody’s relationship changes. Loretta is engaged, but she gets romantic with her fiancé’s brother. Nicholas Cage plays the brother and well, this is the kind of character that he excels at. There relationship makes sense in a fiery passion sort of way, since they’ve both lost something (he lost his hand, she lost her husband). Olympia Dukakis also won an Oscar playing Loretta’s mother. She asks the all important question, “Why do men chase women?” Moonstruck is a quirky, funny, well acted film that represents Italians in the best possible way.
Super Mario Bros. was the first ever movie adaptation of a popular video game franchise. So basically it’s all just downhill from here, because Super Mario Bros. sucks. How hard is it to make a movie about a plumber (and sometimes his brother) who jumps, saves a princess, and either fights a giant dragon turtle or a giant ape throwing barrels. Instead we’re left with this confusing mess. Bob Hoskins plays Mario and John Leguizamo plays his “brother” Luigi. And get this, it turns out their last names are Mario (sigh). Instead of a bright colorful kingdom, we have a dirty dystopian city covered in fungus. Bowser is just Dennis Hopper making a fool of himself and his Koopa Troopa are giant lizards in trench coats with tiny heads. Oh yeah, and Princess Peach isn’t in the movie, just Princess Daisy. Don’t even get me started on the guitar playing guy named Toad or the miniature T-Rex named Yoshi. You don’t even have to be all that familiar with the Nintendo game to know it’s garbage. I’ve played the games many times, but I actually didn’t know about the movie when I was a kid. I guess I confused the box art for the game itself. Unfortunately, Bob Hoskins didn’t know it was a video game movie. So he had a miserable time making it. Video game movies never work, but this is just ridiculous.
Basic Instinct 2 is a sequel nobody asked for, but got anyway. After the ending that indicated Catherine Tramell was the killer, what could you possibly do to continue it? Paul Verhoeven, director of the first Basic Instinct, doesn’t return and it definitely shows. The excessive sexuality and nudity that the original became famous for, is almost non-existent. Save for four brief scenes of it. Because of that, Basic Instinct 2 is just boring. Basic Instinct 2 takes place 14 years after the original and has something to do with Catherine Tramell being some kind of risk addict. That has almost nothing to do with the original, but get used to that. Sharon Stone is also pushing 50 in this sequel. She comes across more as a desperate cougar rather than the young seductress she was in her former glory. It’s bad enough that the movie was forgettable and predictable. It actually won Worst Picture at the Razzie Awards. Which is the ultimate insult for a movie I didn’t even know existed. Basically it stinks too.
Preceded by: Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct is an aggressively sexual murder mystery from the mind of director Paul Verhoeven. Before this point, Paul Verhoeven was known for excess films. Basic Instinct was his first American film to be excessively sexual, rather than excessively violent. This was 3 years before Showgirls (see review here) upped it’s excessive sexuality, but Basic Instinct is still teetering on the edge of NC-17 (it’s also much better than that dreck). There’s loads of nudity, lengthy sex scenes, and sexual violence. Which was considered groundbreaking for a mainstream movie. In other words, don’t bring the kids! Basic Instinct follows a murder which bares a strong resemblance to a book written by a woman named Catherine Tramell. One of the sexiest female villains of all time. Sharon Stone plays her as both seductive and psychotic. She becomes the top suspect even though she claims the book is a clever alibi. Michael Douglas plays the detective that she seduces and uses as a pawn in her new book. Of course I can’t talk Basic Instinct without bringing up the famous “interrogation scene.” You know which one I mean. It’s a scene that’s been parodied many times and is easily the most famous scene in the movie. Basic Instinct isn’t without controversy though (surprisingly) it’s not for the level of sexuality. It was actually boycotted by gay rights activists who didn’t like that the killer was a bisexual. Well despite that, Basic Instinct still holds a place in erotic movie history.
Followed by: Basic Instinct 2
The Notebook is (in my opinion) the ultimate chick flick. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Today I’m gonna be talking about one of the sappiest, most well known, and heartbreaking romantic movies ever, The Notebook. The Notebook is based on a Nicholas Sparks book. A man who knows romance, since many of his other books were also adapted into movies, but The Notebook is his most successful. I’m not sure why, since all the movies look about the same (they even have the same poster). Well just about every girl I know who brings up the movie, tells me how much they love it, and actually, so do I. Love is a strong word, but I did enjoy watching the movie. I wasn’t even forced to watch. I watched it because of the attention it kept getting. I’m a sucker for a good romance, so it gave me enough reason to watch. For those who don’t know, The Notebook is about an old man who reads an old woman a book about how a young couple named Noah and Allie met. The story takes place in the 1940’s as the two lovers meet, fall in love, get into fights, drift apart, and come together again. When they do drift apart, he writes her 365 letters a day for a year. Which is just as convoluted as it sounds, but it leads to one of the most famous movie kisses of all time. When Noah and Allie kiss in the rain after Allie confronts Noah about never writing her. Moments like that elevate the movie to something more special. And that includes the ending where it turns out the old couple is actually the couple in the book (not really a spoiler since it’s revealed halfway through). I’ll admit the ending had me crying my eyes out. That’s why I think The Notebook is the ultimate chick flick.
It Follows is my all time favorite horror movie. Which seems crazy to say considering it’s barely 4 years old. It’s also the one movie on my “Top 10 Favorite Movies” list that requires the most justification. It Follows being my number ten favorite movie. Well for a lot of people, horror is either a big obsession or something to be avoided altogether. I’m actually a big fan of horror movies. I have been ever since I was a kid. So I knew my list needed a horror movie on it. The question was, which horror movie do I choose? This is why I chose It Follows. My history with this movie is shorter than any of the other movies on my list. I first heard of It Follows when I saw a trailer for the movie online. The trailer was vague, creepy, and I took notice of the glowing reviews. People were calling it one of the best horror films in years. Horror is not for everyone and sometimes modern horror films feel too generic. So to hear that It Follows was actually really good was enough of a selling point for me. I don’t ever see horror movies in theaters, but I actually really wanted to go see It Follows. I didn’t, but I have seen the movie many times since then…
It Follows is a supernatural psychological horror movie about a teenage girl named Jay. Jay is just your average everyday teenager. She likes to swim, hang out with friends, and she’s currently dating a guy. Everything starts off normal at first. Going on dates that eventually lead to them having sex in a car. This is where things take a turn for the worse. It turns out that the guy she’s dating, Hugh, was carrying something with him when they had sex. Something like an STD, but much worse. He explains it to her while she’s still in her underwear and tied to a wheelchair. An entity with the sole purpose of killing the person who carries it, and when that person is dead, they go straight down the line to whoever started it. To quote Hugh, “It can look like someone you know or it can be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.” That’s exactly how the entity appears. The only thing the appearances have in common is that sometimes the entity is naked (either topless or fully nude) or they have bloody eyes. The entity is also very slow. It walks straight towards you as soon as you have sex. Which may not seem dangerous, but the problem is, you can never let your guard down. You have to be on high alert at all times. Your only chance for safety is to pass it on. As soon as Jay accepts that what’s happening to her is real, she comes up with a plan to stop it, and she actually uses her friend’s and sister’s help. Jay searches for answers, learns to defend herself, and ultimately faces off with the entity. It Follows is an atmospheric horror movie that doesn’t fully rely on jump scares. It takes place in an unspecified decade that gives almost no indication into when it takes place or where. Everybody drives vintage cars and watches vintage television. The only bit of modern technology is some kind of shell phone. Adults are also never seen. They’re either seen from far away or their faces are obscured. You only see adults when the entity assumes their form. Now that you know the story, this is why it’s my all time favorite horror movie…
It Follows taps into one of my greatest fears, being followed. The fact that there’s a horror movie about being followed, immediately guaranteed it as my favorite. When it comes to horror, psychological movies scare me the most. Slasher movies are more entertaining, monster movies are usually fun, torture porn is just disgusting, and I can only take so many ghost stories. I like psychological horror, because sometimes the idea of something scary is scarier than what you see on screen. That’s what makes It Follows such a terrifying film. I don’t know how I’d survive being followed, always living in fear. I’m the kind of person who looks behind his back every 10 seconds when I’m walking. It Follows is also refreshingly original and strikingly well made. There are several artistic shots, camera angles, foreshadowing, and techniques that give the movie an identity all its own. Like the slow building iconic shot of the car. Their choice to never show the adult’s faces was also brilliant, because this is a story about young people and young people alone. It makes it feel like a really dark version of Charlie Brown. Jay is one of the smarter horror movie heroines. Her choices actually kept her (and her friends) from falling victim to a lot of typical horror cliches. As far as scares are concerned, It Follows has plenty of scary moments. Most of which involve the entity in its many forms, but its the atmosphere that messes with you the most. A lot of which is supported by an amazing soundtrack by an unknown artist named Disasterpeace. Honestly, his music is some of the best I’ve ever heard in a horror movie. It’s unsettling, it’s unnatural, and it’s unbelievably effective. Which perfectly describes the movie. It Follows has also been the topic of much discussion. Many critics have tried to come up with their own theories and/or interpretations for the movie. Such as, whether or not sex is treated as a good thing or a bad thing. Having sex puts you in danger, but having sex will also set you free. There’s also much debate about what the most effective way to fight the entity is. Well the ending is left ambiguous, so I guess we’ll never know. That’s what makes It Follows my favorite horror movie. It Follows leaves you with an unsettling feeling that makes it one of the best horror movies of the past decade.
Easy Rider has the 60’s written all over it, because the 60’s was a big transitional period in American history. The 50’s was a very wholesome decade that stuck to family values and a structured lifestyle. The 60’s on the other hand, was all about tearing down the establishment. Hippies, drugs, and free love were running rampant. Easy Rider explores all of that through the eyes of two bikers. Bikers who are just trying to explore this great country on their way to Mardi Gras. Oh, and their also trying to find the meaning of life. Peter Fonda writes, produces, and plays Wyatt “Captain America” and Denis Hopper writes, directs, an plays Billy. They meet all sorts of interesting people on their road trip, but their story doesn’t have a happy ending. It made it difficult for me to figure out what the moral was even supposed to be. Easy Rider tells a realistic and sometimes avant garde story. Keeping you entertained with its groundbreaking soundtrack. Groundbreaking, because it was one the first movies to incorporate songs from several bands that followed the flow of the story. Easy Rider was also groundbreaking, because it helped create “New Hollywood” movies. Movies that did things in a far more unconventional way. Easy Rider is a road that we should take at least once in our lives.
Airplane II: The Sequel went exactly how I thought it would. It came out only 2 years after Airplane! and was only made to capitalize on the success of it. Which means they played it too safe. Almost all of the jokes are reused from the first movie and the stuff that isn’t doesn’t compare. They were just trying too hard to be funny. Their biggest mistake was Leslie Nielsen not returning. Which is weird considering every other actor returns. Airplane II: The Sequel actually isn’t about an airplane (it’s still the same premise though). Instead, all the action takes place in a space shuttle. They do parody sci-fi movies, but it all felt a bit out of place. Not that I didn’t laugh. It’s just not hysterically funny like the first movie. One review I read said the movie might have been good if the first movie didn’t exist. I don’t really see things that way. Airplane II: The Sequel is a mediocre parody movie with or without the original.
Preceded by: Airplane & Followed by: Airplane III?
Airplane! will always be the greatest parody movie ever made. Which isn’t much of a stretch considering most of them suck. Airplane! was the first movie to do parody the way it did. Making a movie that targets a specific genre, jokes about everything, and takes itself very seriously. That’s what those crappy parody movies of the 2000’s were missing (you know which ones I mean). Not only is it a great parody movie, it’s also a great comedy period. And after watching it not once, but twice, I completely agree. You don’t even need to be familiar with what they’re parodying to find it hilarious. You see, back in the 70’s disaster movies were very popular. So it only made sense to mock them. Most people don’t know that Airplane! is almost a word for word remake of an old movie called Zero Hour!. All they did was add jokes and deliver it in a completely deadpan way. Which is why it works so well. Actors like Leslie Nielsen were known for their dramatic roles. Every joke he says is said with complete sincerity. Like the famous “Shirley” quote. There’s also a lot of great sight gags, like a Mayo Clinic with jars of mayonnaise. Or jive talk being treated like a language. Airplane! is seriously just as funny now as its ever been. “And don’t call me Shirley.”
Followed by: Airplane II: The Sequel
The Village officially marked the downfall of director M. Night Shyamalan. Although I’ve seen his movies in an unusual order, The Village is where you’ll start to see significant problems for the first time. Namely his habit of relying on twists, bad writing, and an unfocused story. The Village is about well… a village. It’s the 19th century and the villagers all live in fear, because there are monsters that live beyond the forest. It’s only creepy when the monsters show up (which isn’t often). Most of The Village is dedicated to characters worrying about who they’re gonna marry. It’s even got an all-star cast of wasted talent. Bryce Dallas Howard barely convinced me she was blind, Joaquin Phoenix barely spoke, Sigourney Weaver had nothing to do, Jesse Eisenberg had one line, and to top it all off, award winning actor Adrien Brody embarrasses himself by playing a mentally disabled person. But really it’s the twist that’s the problem. SPOILER ALERT! It turns out that the story actually takes place in the modern day. Everything was just an elaborate set up. It’s so baffling that it raises more questions than it should have. It makes me think Shyamalan wrote the twist before he wrote The Village. Which wouldn’t surprise me if he did.