ten movies which just blew me away!
1772 6.5 7.21. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
This is the greatest comedy ever made, and if you dont agree with me...i will fight you!
Made in 2004, Anchorman is Will Ferrells seriuos attempt to show how sexism barriers were eventually broken down in the largely male dominated workplace, in this instance,the world of the tv newsroom.
it carefully deconstructs the macho posturing of self important,preening mysoginists and their neanderthal views of womans place in the world. in plain english, this is a movie about diversity in the workplace. diversity of course, being an old,old wooden ship used in the civil war era...
lets be truthful, Anchorman is in fact none of the above. what it is,is genius writing coupled with some of the best improv actors in the business which provides 91minutes of pure comedic gold every step of the way. Every scene provides a laugh,every line spoken with such absurd sincerity.
i have lost count of how many times i have quoted this movie in my actual life,whether it be paraphrasing `Fuck you san diego`, telling anyone who will listen that `milk was a bad choice` or just thinking how much `i love lamp`.the movie is an endless stream of quotable lines.
the performances are the gold standard which all comedy should aspire to. Paul Rudd stepped into the limelight after years of excellent support turns and made hollywood sit up and take notice as brian fantana, a reporter so obsessed with how he looks that he even names his testes.
Steve Carell as Brick is a revelation.this coming after his performance as,coincidentally,an anchorman in Bruce Almighty quickly established him as the rising star of american comedy.
David Koechner as Champ Kind delivers a WHAMMY!! of a performance.it could so easily have been a one note role,yet he plays it to perfection.his reaction to rons blossoming romance with veronica,while funny as hell and extraordinarily gay...is also heartbreaking.
Christina Applegate brings real class to the role of Veronica Corningstone. she never yields to the putdowns which her character initially endures and shows herself to be a comedienne of real quality, culminating in a truly hilarious tit for tat bitchfight with ron as the news credits are rolling.
lastly, we have Wil Ferrell.His performance is timeless. if there was any justice, the oscar would have come his way. this may not be typical oscar fare but at some point,hopefully the academy will realize the skill that goes into a performance of this magnitude. His Ron Burgundy is a grotesque yet spectacular creation. Ferrell plays it completely straight and delivers the finest comedy performance ive ever seen. note perfect in every moment he is on screen.this is the perfect alchemy of actor and role.
i cant speak highly enough of this movie.it is without doubt a classic and one of the few movies which gets better and better with each viewing. 60% of the time it works everytime!
7054 6.8 7.32. Spider-Man (2002)
As a lifelong fan of spidey,it was always a dream to see my favourite hero on the big screen.
Sam Raimi`s adaptation of the origin of old webhead was everything i had ever wanted and then some. This was SPIDER MAN,just like a comic brought to big,colourful life. the effects were and still are superb,every swing,every fight,just as they were in marvels catalogue of amazing stories.
the story was simple,everybody knows the origin yet raimi made it fresh,helped by a great cast of actors. tobey maguire was an inspired choice,giving peter parker a warmth and vulnerability which previous cbms were sorely lacking. This wasn't your clownish,buffoonish Clark Kent or the personality free Bruce Wayne of burtons batman,this was a kid we could all relate to. He perfectly illustrated the frustrations we all have when we are bullied or can't tell that 1 girl just how we feel and the rage and sorrow as his uncle dies in his arms is so natural. You feel every emotion with him..Maguire may not be the perfect spidey but for me and many others,he will always be the definitive Peter.
Kirsten dunst,while not a perfect fit,offered sterling support as mary jane watson and added real tenderness in her scenes with peter. Her sincerity in the movies final scene as Peter walks away is touching and powerful yet superbly underplayed.
The film however belongs to willem dafoes norman osborn/green goblin. he eats the scenery but never actually goes ott. to my mind,it is a performance to rival heath ledgers joker.The internal struggle to contain the madness within him is wonderfully overwrought but also played just with the right hint of eccentricity which dafoe is a past master at bringing to his roles..
i sat there in the cinema like a little kid,smiling at every scene i had pictured being brought to life over the years.
the climactic battle with the goblin almost exactly as i had envisioned,uncle bens death proving to be so raw and powerful brought tears to my eyes.THE pivotal moment in spider man history played out to perfection.
this film will always hold a special place in my heart, it treated the characters with respect,it put the comic on the screen,it opened the doors for everything from nolans batman to the avengers and beyond.
The definitive line in Marvel comics lore belongs to uncle ben...with great power comes great responsibility.Sam Raimi was given that responsibility,to make millions of fans dreams become cinematic reality.he succeeded and even surpassed expectations.
The movies final scene also provides not only the greatest finale to a cbm ever but also in one line,perfectly illustrated the struggle within Peter to reconcile his now almost split personality.it is that struggle which always made spidey relatable to his fans. He isn't a god or a billionaire,he is a kid fighting to do the right thing.
To paraphrase the last line of this movie...that is his gift,his curse...who is he? He's Spider Man!!
1394 7 7.63. A Few Good Men (1992)
Based on Aaron Sorkins stageplay of the same name, Rob Reiners star studded military courtroom drama is,in this reviewers humble opinion, the gold standard in screen acting and writing.
Tom Cruise plays Army lawyer Daniel Kaffee,a brilliant lawyer with a penchant for plea bargains.a lawyer so willing to make deals that he has never even seen inside a courtroom!
Kaffee is assigned to defend 2 marines,accused of the murder of another marine,private william santiago. helping/bullying him into taking the case seriously is naval investigator Joanne Galloway (Demi Moore). Kaffee soon starts to suspect that the murder was in fact a `code red`,essentially an unofficial order of retribution.
To win the case,Kaffee must not only have to prove the code red but also lock horns with the formidable and powerful Colonel Nathan Jessup, an absolutely barnstorming performance by Jack Nicholson.
The investigation leads to the now classic courtroom battle between Cruise and Nicholson,but i will get back to that,all in good time.
The movie is a tour de force from start to finish.the script absolutely sizzles with tension,drama and humour.The naturalness of the dialogue is a joy to hear. the characters may be stereotypes to some effect yet they seem fresh,they seem real.
Rob Reiner,who was on an incredible run which showed his almost unique gift for any genre with movie classics such as Stand By Me,When Harry Met Sally,The Princess Bride and Misery managed to surpass all of those achievements.
Here he delivers a movie which positively crackles with energy. Every scene grabs your attention,yet this is not a movie for directorial showboating,Reiner just does what the true greats should do.He allows the story to be the star.
Of course, we now come to the actual stars of the movie,and my god,what a cast it is.
Cruise,Nicholson,Moore,Bacon,Sutherland,Pollack.it just doesnt get better than this. Even in reasonably small roles,Bacon and Sutherland have to my mind,never been better.Bacon as the prosecution lawyer who has a job to do even if he doesnt like it and Sutherland as a biblebashing,fanatical marine,deliver terrific support.
Demi Moore,never the worlds best actress,more than holds her own,partially through sheer star presence which is saying something considering the 2 legends she was alongside.
Which brings us to Jack. The sheer brilliance of his performance almost takes your breath away.every second on screen,and it isnt as many as it seems,is cinematic gold. He doesnt chew the scenery like a pacino may have done,instead,he is calm,quiet,yet menacing and then explosive in his showdown with Tom Cruise.And what a showdown it is.A true battle of wills and a fascinating clash of the cream of 2 different generations of hollywood legends.
nicholsons speech is as fine a piece of acting as you will ever see and yet,and yet!!
Tom Cruise is without any doubt,better than he has ever been.he is natural,funny,intense,charismatic,.hell he is simply as good in this movie as ive ever seen from anyone. He goes toe to toe with an acting master and matches him blow for blow. For my money,its the greatest lead performance ive seen.
To think he wasnt even nominated for an oscar in a year which saw al pacino get the most obvious sympathy oscar ever given is an absolute travesty.
its a multi layered performance in a multi layered movie,a movie which bears repeat viewing after repeat viewing.its frankly the last great hollywood courtroom drama.This defined my taste in cinema. it showed me just what real star power was,it showed me what acting should be and it opened my eyes to the fact that story is above everything.
and whether you can handle it or not...that my friends is the truth.
6610 7.1 84. Jurassic Park (1993)
5433 8 8.45. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Where to begin,reviewing a movie which plays with its own narrative in a way which even now is almost impossible to describe.
This is a total mindfuck of a movie.It cuts back and forth between the memories of the past and the characters lives in the present at a rate of knots yet somehow manages to take the time needed to tell its truly original story with such clarity and care,that it offers huge rewards on every viewing.
As i sat there in the cinema trying to grasp every nuance,every hint as to the seemingly inevitable yet still surprising ending,i was in awe of what was before my eyes.
A truly heartbreaking story of a relationship gone so badly wrong that both parties wish to erase all memory of it. The film is shot in sombre cold colours,this is no fairytale romance about to unfold onscreen,this is as real a relationship as you will see. Two ordinary people,struggling through life and looking for anyone to connect with.Who amongst us cannot relate to a story like this?
Who amongst us hasnt had some form of relationship which we have somedays wished we could wipe from our history?
Jim Carrey had shown his hitherto hidden acting chops in The truman show and Man in the Moon but as Joel Barrish, he displayed depths of emotional despondancy and pain which nobody could have imagined him capable of.
This was no longer Ace Ventura trying to change his image,this was an actor breaking fully free of all his confines and delivering a performance which would forever change public perception.
Kate Winslet had already gained an enviable reputation from movies such as Titanic,pride and prejudice and Iris.
She,as with Carrey was an unexpected choice and again as with Carrey,she delivered a performance of enormous power and skill.It is a performance which to my mind will probably never be bettered by an actress.
Every time i see it,i am blown away by it. Winslet is fiery,feisty,fun,loving,impetuous...god i wish i could find my own Clementine.It is a performance which has no vanity,no forced sentiment,no acting trickery.
Kate winslet makes Clementine as real a character as ive ever witnessed on screen. The greatest tribute i can pay her is to say it never once feels like acting.
Joel is a loner,no girlfriend,crappy job,a man lost in life and going through the motions,day in and day out until one day...but i`ll come to that at the end.
Director Michael Chondry does an incredible job making this accessible to his audience.The plot is unique and Chondry shows exceptional flair as joel jumps from memory to memory hoping to avoid making the huge mistake he is unconciously having forced on him.
The supporting cast could almost have been forgotten in the face of such powerhouse performances from the 2 leads,yet each make an indelible mark on proceedings.
Kirsten dunst as the quiet nurse who harbours a secret crush on her boss (Tom Wilkinson)only to find out that she too had undergone the procedure and erased all memory of her affair with him,scores with another unshowy,tender performance.
Tom Wilkinson delivers a quiet,confident portrayal of a man who knows what he is doing is not a solution but who seems resigned to his lot in life.
Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood spark off each other well,Ruffalo inparticular showing a warmth which makes him compelling to watch.
Finally we come to the moment,the woman who changes Joels life...Clementine.
A free spirit,a force of nature,a reason to believe in life again.Clementine is all of these and then some. She is also selfish,impulsive,infuriating,in summary...real.
Its easy to see why Joel gets swept along and falls so heavily for her.Here is a woman who challenges him,who invigorates him and who ultimately sends him into a pit of despair he thinks he will never get out of.
The irony being that,while under the anaesthetic to recieve the treatment which will erase all memory of Clementine,he realises that without those memories his life would be all the poorer.
Watching Joel running through his own mind with Clementine in an attempt to hide in a memory which doesnt involve her is every bit as weird and wonderful as i have just described.
i have described this film as unique,that does it a disservice as it implies it is by definition an oddity. it isnt.What it is,is a film which challenges you to think,to look at yourself and to realise that however painful our memories may be,they make us who we are.
We wont all meet our Clementine or Joel but we can all learn to live life to the full and never regret our mistakes.
Embrace your past because without it,you will ultimately destroy your future.Dont run from your memories,learn from them.
6793 8.3 96. Pulp Fiction (1994)
3645 7.2 8.27. Jaws (1975)
1661 7 7.68. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)
3371 7.7 8.39. Die Hard (1988)
1038 6.1 6.410. Rocky IV (1985)