By the Numbers

A Beautiful Mind is brilliant. It makes you think and it challenges everything you may think you know. I’ve been familiar with A Beautiful Mind for many years, but I didn’t see it until I was a little older. Luckily the story wasn’t spoiled for me. Which is good because something (I won’t say what) that happens in the movie is better when you don’t know it’s happening. A Beautiful Mind is based on a true story about brilliant mathematician John Nash. From when he attended Princeton to when he received the Nobel Prize, and all the trama in between. His genius mind is shown by the way he sees numbers and letters. Making for a fascinating and shocking viewing experience. Russell Crowe’s performance is what really makes the movie. Portraying John Nash as an awkward and often antisocial super genius. Which is why he really should have won the Best Actor Oscar (but that’s a whole other story). Jennifer Connelly on the other hand, did win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She plays Nash’s wife in the best possible way. As a woman dealing with a man with a beautiful mind. A Beautiful Mind also won Best Picture and Ron Howard won for Best Director. It’s also, in my opinion, a more worthy winner of Best Picture in 2001 than Chicago was in 2002 (both movies that beat The Lord of the Rings). I promise when you really know what’s going on, A Beautiful Mind is a whole new experience.

John Nash rethinks an equation

P.S. The bold letters are an anagram that reveals the movie’s twist.

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Watch this Fantasy Movie

Ella Enchanted is a quirky and fun children’s fantasy. You either love it or you don’t. I lean more towards the former. Ever since my brother showed it to me after he’d seen it in class. This was back when future Oscar winner Anne Hathaway was in her early Disney era of performances. Her performance is just as charming and well acted as I’d expect from all her other roles. Ella Enchanted is sort of like Cinderella, but with a twist. Ella was given the gift (curse) of obedience. Which means she has to do whatever people say, no matter what. It’s just as bad as it sounds, but it does offer some good comedy and a surprising amount of emotion. When things get too bad, Ella sets off to force the fairy who gave her the gift to reverse the curse. Along the way she meets elves, ogres, giants, and enchanted objects. There’s also a cute romance to fill the need for a love story. Your standard fairytale fair. Although Ella Enchanted is a lot like Shrek in the way that it feels more like modern day. In the way that they sing modern day songs like “Somebody to Love” or “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” The only real problem is the dated CGI and occasional juvenile joke. Other than that, Ella Enchanted is an enchanting fairytale that I would recommend if you have a choice.

Ella fights back

Dark Chocolate

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is Tim Burton’s slightly darker take on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name. This is the point in Tim Burton’s career when he started to do less original work and more remakes. Though I don’t think anyone expected him to do a remake of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was such an odd choice. Even though I was still a kid at the time and I’d already seen the original, I didn’t see the movie in theaters. Although I did see one scene when I peeked into a theater that was playing the movie (long story). If I recall, I saw the movie about a year after it came out. Some people will say the movie is a pale (no pun intended) imitation of a classic that shouldn’t have been made in the first place, but I actually really like the movie. Certain aspects of the book and original movie can be improved upon with certain advancements in technology. The factory is bigger and grander than it was before. A lot of the chocolate, like the chocolate river, is actually real chocolate. Unlike the original movie’s brown water. Say what you will about the movie, but Tim Burton is a creative genius. His sets look delicious. Good enough to eat. Of course the plot is pretty much the same…

The Chocolate Room

Finding golden tickets, exploring the factory, each kid getting punished, and of course the ending. That being said, there are some pretty major differences. Some of which is closer to the book. This is a Tim Burton movie, so of course its snowy and dark. Of course Johnny Depp plays Willy Wonka. He’s no Gene Wilder, but I thought his quirky oddball performance was hilarious. One of the biggest differences is that there are flashbacks. Willy Wonka’s backstory including his childhood, how he found the Oompa Loompas, and why he closed his factory, is shown. Charlie Bucket is about the same (although a bit too perfect), Augustus Gloop is fatter and a bit more greedy, Veruca Salt is still spoiled, but kind of toned down, Violet Beauregarde is actually meaner and more of a competitive gum-chewer, and Mike Teavee is a jerky video game player instead of a TV addict. Some choices made sense for the modern setting, while others feel a little off. The parents are also different. Grandpa Joe is about same, but some (not all) of the parents are swapped with a different parent. Finally, the Oompa Loompas are just smaller clones of actor Deep Roy. Which isn’t nearly as iconic as the original. The songs are catchy though. The ending is also sort of a soft adaptation of Roald Dahl’s sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. As a remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a gothic treat that should be viewed as its own movie.

“Augustus Gloop will not be harmed”

Remake of: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

A World of Pure Imagination

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is arguably the most generationally beloved movie to come out of the 70’s. It’s also Roald Dahl’s most famous movie adaptation. As children’s movie’s go, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one every child should see. I know I first watched the movie when I was very young. Since then I’ve seen the movie many times, including one time in school. We all know the story, mysterious chocolate factory owner Willy Wonka sends out 5 golden tickets to 5 lucky children via 5 bars of chocolate. The first act focuses on the entire world trying desperately to find the golden tickets. Even adults are desperate to find them (most of which is seen in short vignettes). Charlie Bucket is the main character. He’s a sweet poor kid who wants nothing more than to win a golden ticket. The first winner is Augustus Gloop, an obese kid from Germany. The second winner is Veruca Salt, a spoiled brat from England. The third winner is Violet Beauregarde, a snappy gum-chewer. The fourth winner is Mike Teavee, a TV obsessed know-it-all. And of course Charlie wins the fifth and final ticket, much to the delight of his Grandpa Joe. The second and third acts take place inside the factory…

The Chocolate Room

It’s there we meet the absolutely bonkers chocolatier/ inventor Willy Wonka. Played flawlessly by the late Gene Wilder. He’s charming, he’s hilarious, he’s meme-worthy, he’s sarcastic, and possibly psychotic (what is up with that scary tunnel?). I think that’s why they renamed the movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Since Willy Wonka is the biggest scene stealer. Along with his equally famous factory workers, the Oompa Loompas. Small orange creatures with green hair that often break into song. Another great part of the movie is the music. Songs like “The Candy Man,” “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” “Pure Imagination,” or “I Want it Now” will forever be stuck in my head. Along with any of the four songs that the Oompa Loompas sing. It’s also very tastefully done. All the chocolate and candy is guaranteed to make you hungry. Some of which, like the “Everlasting Gobstopper,” is actually available in real life. The kids, as well as their parents, are also great. Especially the actress who plays Veruca. Probably the biggest brat in the history of cinema. There’s also a big emphasis on Wonka’s inventions. Which hold up pretty well considering the time it came out. Really the only person who doesn’t like the movie is the author himself. So much so that he forbid the filmmakers from adapting the book’s sequel. He just didn’t like the changes they made to the book and some of the casting. Despite Roald Dahl’s complaints, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is an absolute children’s classic that’s beloved by every generation. It’s scrumdiddlyumptious!

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination”

Snap Out of It!

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.

“Snap out of it!”

Trust the Fungus

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.

Mario (right) and Luigi (left) get ready for action

Risk Addiction

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.

Catherine seduces her therapist

Preceded by: Basic Instinct

Passion Kills

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) one 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.

BasicInstinct_Trailer

Catherine gets interrogated

Followed by: Basic Instinct 2

The Ultimate Chick Flick

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.

Image: Ryan Gosling Rachel McAdams in "The Notebook"

Noah (left) and Allie (right) kiss in the rain

It Doesn’t Think, It Doesn’t Feel, It Doesn’t Give Up ⭐

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 four times since then…

it-follows-car-e1429821940213

Jay and Hugh have sex in the back of a car

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…

Hugh (background) tells Jay (foreground) about It

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.

Blood in the water