Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones may not care that the Ark is a radio for speaking to God but he sure wants to discover it. All his life as an archaeologist, no find has been as significant as this Ark of the Covenant mentioned in Biblical writ. The trouble is, Hitler wants it too and he’ll stop at nothing to kill anyone who stands in the way of him getting it.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

“Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.” -IMDB

Cast

Harrison Ford Indy
Karen Allen Marion Ravenwood
Paul Freeman Dr. René Belloq
John Rhys-Davies Sallah

Directed by

Steven Spielberg

Written by

Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas

Other Info

Action, Adventure
PG
Fri 12 Jun 1981 UTC
115min
IMDB Rating: 8.5

Steven Spielberg directed this film. If you know E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you know his phenomenal talent. If you’re too young to recognize these films, I urge you to go out and see them today along with anything else you can get your hands on by Speilberg.

Raiders of the Lost Ark represents freedom to make a “fun” movie like you dreamed of as a kid. He had the success behind him to make this film and it delighted millions, still does.

In between all the comic book excitement, there is a love story. Karen Allen plays Indy’s love interest and she does a great job. It’s great to see an independent spirit like Indy be bridled by romantic love. It reminds that it gets to the best of us. The stunts are also amazing and those along with the “Oohs and Ahhs” of his archaeological finds make this an incredibly entertaining film. It has its own ride at Disneyland Anaheim but really, all you need is Amazon Prime right now to have the ride of your life.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The famous scene when Indy replaces the gold head artifact with a bag of sand, the rolling ball that nearly decapitates him, the opening of the ark, and so many other visual moments make this film a gem today. Probably the coolest thing is the acting talent of Harrison Ford. He IS Indiana Jones. He lives in the part and it’s attractive to the viewer like moths are attracted to a flame.

This film is now streaming on Amazon Prime. After you like my post and leave me a comment about this film, watch it!

10/10

Better Call Saul (Spoken Word Review)

NOW streaming on Netflix! My review linked below. Check it out, leave me a comment. Thx.

Better Call Saul (Season 2)

I fell into the Breaking Bad pool years ago and got hooked completely. Maybe it was because I’m a teacher and the main character is easy to identify with. Whatever the reason, I loved the show and watched it faithfully through all seasons. In contrast, I wasn’t very take in by Better Call Saul, the …

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

“It’s just our family now. We can do whatever we want.”

10 Cloverfield is another point of view of the same situation. A woman is in a terrible car crash and wakes up in the bunker of a doomsday prepper. She thinks escape is what she wants but she has yet to find out what is actually going on outside. Minor plot spoilers ahead.

Cast
John Goodman

as Howard

Mary Elizabeth Winstead

as Michelle

John Gallagher Jr.

as Emmett

Directed by
Dan Trachtenberg
Written by
Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Other Info

Thriller, Drama, Horror, Mystery
Rated PG-13
1h 43min

The imprisonment of someone against their will and without cause is a horrid crime. John Goodman plays Howard, the captor. Michelle is the captive and she does an amazing job acting in this film. We relate with her in her plight. Like the recent film “Room” we feel as if we are in the room with her. But I want to let you know that while a confinement theme seemed boring to me at first, there is much more going on in this thriller.

Emmett is another hapless inhabitant of Howard’s shelter. It’s underground and solid. Howard sought refuge with Howard when the disaster started happening. We aren’t told what that disaster is until later in the film. This is a mystery and half the fun is figuring out what the next part of the story is at every turn.

There’s a lot of talk on the internet about whether this is a sequel to “Cloverfield” (2008). I’ve come to my conclusions and I’ll leave it at that. I will say that I don’t think I would have enjoyed this movie as much if I knew the answer to that question so I recommend going in innocent. After you see it, you can look it up to your hearts content. Without giving you an answer, I’ll say these are two completely different movie in theme, style, and genre.

My favorite part of this movie is the character of Michelle. She makes the movie great. Second is John Goodman. If you can get over your menta block of seeing him as Dan Connor, you’ll see a serious, solid, scary, intuitive performance from him. He’s no happy-go-lucky. I enjoyed this thriller beginning to end, for all the reasons I’ve mention, it gets full 5 stars from me. I highly recommend it.

Peeping Tom (1960)

Some people who love modern horror may scoff at a film made in 1960, they may think it couldn’t be scary. This film has a reputation among critics as being scary but does it have the scares to justify that?

Peeping Tom

Peeping Tom

“A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.” -IMDB

Cast

Karlheinz Böhm (as Carl Boehm) Mark Lewis
Anna Massey Helen Stephens
Moira Shearer Vivian
Maxine Audley Mrs. Stephens

Directed by

Michael Powell

Written by

Leo Marks, Leo Marks

Other Info

Drama, Horror, Thriller
Not Rated
Tue 15 May 1962 UTC
86min
IMDB Rating: 7.7

Michael Powell is a director’s director. We are talking about a man who in 1960 had directed nearly 60 films. He is truly a talent that students in film school should study. Directors like this know their craft and leave nothing to chance. What you see on the screen is what they want you to see, period.

The actors know their stuff as well. Karlheinz Böhm plays the lead and he is a frightening individual. He captures women luring them in with the promise of taking their portraits and while getting close up he stabs them in the neck. The women are attractive and scantily dressed which is nice. Hey, it’s the 60’s and this is horror right?

This film weaves a creepiness throughout. The killer is brutal but quite subdued. You watch him with the curiosity of one who might watch Hannibal Lecter. He is a psychopath who gets off filming women as he kills them. way he uses his tripod as a stilleto blade is cool. I must admit it did seem slow at times but I figure that’s because horror has sped up through the years.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is 1960’s horror at it’s best. It’s like watching a technicolor version of dragnet but the villain is having his way with many women and killing them. Some old movies are boring, not this one. I recommend it to anyone who likes classic films and especially classic horror the likes of Alfred Hitchcock.

8/10

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)

If horror films are meant to shake you out of your comfort zone, this one definitely qualifies. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense though and that’s a pity because some movie goers like sense.

The Blackcoat's Daughter

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

“Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.” -IMDB

Cast

Emma Roberts Joan
Kiernan Shipka Kat
Lucy Boynton Rose
Lauren Holly Linda

Directed by

Oz Perkins

Written by

Oz Perkins

Other Info

Horror, Thriller
R
Fri 14 Oct 2016 UTC
93min
IMDB Rating: 5.6

Imagine a director capable of creating Secretary and Legally Blonde. Were there ever any films so different? He meshes the two in a way with this film, combining horror with young college girl challenges.
Emma Roberts and Lucy Boynton plpay opposing roles and they do a spectacular job. The whole world fell in love with Boynton in Sing Street. The other had lesser parts in Aquamarine the series and Nerve. Their lovely faces are part of what makes this film so entrancing. It helps you weather the mystery, enjoying their performances.

These girls are at a boarding school at end of term. They seem to have been forgotten by their parents. Meanwhile, the priests and nun’s appear of a certain evil. There is a pan away set of scenes with another girl whose identity is unknown. The spanse of the film consists of figuring our what the hell is going on. Some would say we di in the end, I might question that.

I’ve never been big fan of non-linear stories. I like it when there is a little at the beginning or end but not throughout. I sense that’s what’s going on here. How can you interpret what people do if they may be in the past or future? It’s quite frustrating at times. What I do like here is the darkness and shadowed images. These actors do a great job and the screen is full of fearful scenes. What can make these characters do evil acts? We are left to figure that out for ourselves. Lots is left to the imagination. So,e may find that appealing. In this case, I saw that as a detractor to its quality.

FINAL THOUGHTS
We may not have to understand the killer completely but a few clues as to his/her motives help with the scares. A dark movie visually is more scary when the content is understandable dark and mysterious. This film doesn’t make it entirely clear why people do the things they do, even kill. For the mood and horror feel, I give it props but for lacking sensibility even on a low level, it lost points with me. I would recommend it to those who don’t require a lot to be explained in films.

6/10

Pet (2016)

Kidnapping and caging a woman may be fine and dandy in a BDSM play ritual, like perhaps in Fifty Shades of Grey, but in this film it’s not asked for or welcomed and that’s a horror most people can’t imagine.

Pet

Pet

“A psychological thriller about a man who bumps into an old crush and subsequently becomes obsessed with her…” -IMDB

Cast

Dominic Monaghan Seth
Ksenia Solo Holly
Jennette McCurdy Claire
Da’Vone McDonald Nate

Directed by

Carles Torrens

Written by

Jeremy Slater

Other Info

Horror, Thriller
R
Fri 02 Dec 2016 UTC
94min
IMDB Rating: 5.7

Pet isn’t the best thriller of 2016. I’ll venture to say 10 Cloverfield Lane is that. But it has its moments and if nothing else, you wonder what such a stupid psycho killer will do next. Since this film is still quite new, I won’t engage in spoiling the twist. Suffice it to say, I saw it coming. The film does raise the interesting and creepy question as to whether you or I could handle this sort of entrapment and confinement. What lengths would we go to to be set free?

Dominic Monaghan (Lost) plays the “touched” psychopath well. He’s an animal control officer by day which is rather fitting since he’s a killer in his off hours as well. But this movie isn’t about killing so much, it’s about confining someone, holding them against their will. If you’re like me, that’s a quite uncomfortable notion. This film definitely makes you feel discomfort all throughout. Is the end satisfying or mundane and noncreative? You be the judge and then let me know in the comments.

FINAL THOUGHTS
In the final analysis, this is not an amazing piece of craftmanship. We see a lot of tired conventions seen in prior thrillers. You might be tempted to yell at the screen to help avoid a few times but it probably won’t work. Despite the weak script and tired conventions, the raw fear of being detained against your will is what makes this film worth watching. That is such a scary prospect for most people, I think the film would work regardless of any flaws. The question is: does it work in an amazing way I feel like writing more that 355 words about? No. I recommend it for a light hearted scare/thrill.

6/10

‘E.T. The Extra Terrestrial’

ET might as well be subtitled ‘A Gen-X childhood.’ Those of us who were around age 10 in 1980 received this film that was aimed right where we live.

img_0633-2

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Cast

Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote

Directed by

Steven Spielberg

Written by

Melissa Mathison

Other Info

Family, Sci-Fi
Rated PG
115min

Suburbs had been a thing in the 60’s and 70’s but they were blooming all over the American map in the 80’s. ET isn’t the only film from that decade that features them prominently. They are still very much with us today but there was rarely a time when new suburban plots and neighborhoods reminded so many people in America of home. The alien named ET is the interloper who walks across the suburban threshold and gives us an accounting of what we’ve done and where we’re headed. There is also a part of ET that will always appeal to any child. He is the little green man with magical powers that all the kids want face time with. He’s the pet on the street that every kids wants until the next cute one comes along.

ET came on the heels of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I remember seeing ads, on paper, that described what the film was going to be about. It explained the meaning of the term ET “Extra Terrestrial.” A creature from a place other than Earth. There was no photo but I think his green finger was pointing. This built incredible suspense or me at that age about a mysterious creature that Steven Spielberg was going to show us.

When the film starts out, we are in a tract home kitchen. There are Mexican designs like stucco visible but it might as well be a cookie cutter copy of what most American kids recognized as home. The kids are playing a board game and a single mother is supplying them with munchies, a pizza is on the way. This could not be more Americana, to me anyway. What makes it even more close to home for me is the way the mother (Dee Wallace) is a real estate agent. My dad was a real estate agent most of my young life in an Orange County city called “Mission Viejo.” It looks almost identical to the town in this film.

There is a little sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and an older brother Mike. Elliot is the middle child who makes the strongest connection with the alien. One night, after being left behind by his ship, ET is discovered by Elliot and that’s where the meter play begins. We get an other-worldly look at ourselves as earthlings through the eyes of this alien called ET.

Spielberg has been making movies that do this for decades. If you recall Back to the Future and the way it took us on a ride back to our childhoods to observe the choices the characters made and how they affected their future. Wouldn’t it be grand to go back and change things? I think it’s a very human thing to wonder that and therefore Spielberg’s film appeals to many. ET has a conflict with grow ups (who might report him to the authorities) and the government, NASA to be specific. In the film, I think Spielberg is showing us about ourselves and the way we want to conquer and own something alien rather than respect and learn from it.

There’s a hypnotic effect that comes from scenes with ET. He is such a creative figure. I heard that Spielberg wanted to make a creature that appeared ugly but would still be endeared to children and adults because of his mannerisms and actions. For many years after the film was released, there were ET shirts and toys selling off the shelves. Watching ET, especially in the final scenes, almost puts me in a trance every time I watch it. He gives the film a dreamy aesthetic that evokes wonder without fear.

I remember the Halloween scene so well because it reminded me of when I would go trick or treating. ET is still being hidden from the mother but the kids pull it off by pretending he’s Gertie dressed up like a ghost in a sheet. He is about her height. To me, this movie is more of a flashback to my childhood than a move plot to be reviewed. I would recommend it to any human as a heartwarming film about childhood. At the same time, know that it is a little sing-song and certainly there is no intense action or definitely no horror. This is a family film with enough of an edge to keep it highly suspenseful and engaging. It has the fingerprint of its household name producer on it for sure. As a classic film of all time, I highly recommend it to you.

Miss Sloane (2016)

Jessica Chastain has made a string of amazing films lately. I just reviewed her most recent one, The Zookeeper’s Wife. She is getting to be a sure bet when it comes to choosing a film to watch. This one is no exception.

Miss Sloane

Miss Sloane

“In the high-stakes world of political power-brokers, Elizabeth Sloane is the most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. But when taking on the most powerful opponent of her career, she finds winning may come at too high a price.” -IMDB

Cast

Jessica Chastain Elizabeth Sloane
Mark Strong Rodolfo Schmidt
Gugu Mbatha-Raw Esme Manucharian
Michael Stuhlbarg Pat Connors

Directed by

John Madden

Written by

Jonathan Perera

Other Info

Drama, Thriller
R
Fri 09 Dec 2016 UTC
132min
IMDB Rating: 7.3

Director John Madden is known for Shakespeare in Love (1998), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and The Debt (2010). These are all powerful films in their own right. This story needed him to direct it because it is a larger than life story with powerful implications to women.

Jessica Chastain plays Elizabeth Sloane, a rough and tough female lobbyist who gives the “good old boys” of Washington a run for their money. She plays the tough woman well though it isn’t always the one we see her cast in.

The story goes like this: Miss Sloane will do whatever she needs to get the deal to go down. This is not different from a lot of legal and political dramas we’ve seen over the years. What makes it different is that she is just like the male stereotype in the field, even keeping her own male prostitute after a long hard day.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a compelling film to watch that never left me bored. Some of her consequences are predictable but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy watching them play out. How hard can one go until one blows a gasket mentally? Miss Sloane is representative of women who have become like the traditional “Alpha Male” and we certainly don’t begrudge them the right to. Whether it’s the best option as a career is an interesting topic for discussion. I heartily recommend this to keep you on the edge of your seat.

9/10

Cafe Society (2016)

Romance, unrequited love, Hollywood, comedy, all this and more in Woody Allen’s latest flick.

Café Society

Café Society

“In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.” -IMDB

Cast

Jesse Eisenberg Bobby
Kristen Stewart Vonnie
Steve Carell Phil Stern
Blake Lively Veronica

Directed by

Woody Allen

Written by

Woody Allen

Other Info

Comedy, Drama, Romance
PG-13
Fri 05 Aug 2016 UTC
96min
IMDB Rating: 6.7

Allen does a pretty great job with this light romance set in 1930’s Hollywood. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart play the central couple playing “push pull” as he falls in love with her and she is in love with a married man, played by Steve Carell.

I really enjoyed the sets, scenery, and authentic wardrobe. If nothing else, the film puts you in a trance with those things. The story and acting are not much different from what we’ve come to expect from Allen. Still, it’s all enjoyable and there are highs and lows that keep one titillated.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Fans of Woody Allen films will enjoy this as it is true to formula. There is a couple and tension is visited upon them. In this case it’s up to us to guess which of the lovers is more foolish. I was just glad to see Allen put something out in 2016. I have to admit, I’m an almost unconditional fan of his work. Notwithstanding, this film is empirically good as a light romance period piece and I recommend it!

8/10

The Cell (2000)

Looking back at J Lo in this reveals and/or reminds the appeal she had even in 2000. She’s a detective out to catch a serial killer and he is quite elusive indeed.

The Cell

The Cell

“An FBI agent persuades a social worker, who is adept with a new experimental technology, to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer in order to learn where he has hidden his latest kidnap victim.” -IMDB

Cast

Jennifer Lopez Catherine Deane
Vince Vaughn Peter Novak
Vincent D’Onofrio Carl Stargher
Colton James Edward Baines

Directed by

Tarsem Singh

Written by

Mark Protosevich

Other Info

Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
R
Fri 18 Aug 2000 UTC
107min
IMDB Rating: 6.3

The most important thing to note about this film is its visuals. They are creepy at least and horrifying at most. The visuals make this more than just a serial killer cat and mouse chase. Through a new technology, we get to see inside his thoughts, even through the murders themselves.

This movie may be hard to watch for some who are not open to its avaunt garde approach. It’s surreal and not always clear as to where people are or what is really happening.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Even by today’s standards, the effects in this are stunning. The acting and stories are not the best in this genre but they aerve the story well enough to make the film a fun ride. Despite it’s few flaws, I recommend it.

8/10