Mini Classic Film Reviews: Halloween…

Full Title: Halloween
Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1978
Comments: Halloween gave us the classic teen slasher flick. Sure, Texas Chainsaw and others came before this, but Halloween cemented the staple in cinema. Essentially if you drink, smoke, and fuck when you can you will perish at the hands of the killer, in this case the ruthless Micheal Myers. Sure, he may not speak… at all, but that’s precisely what makes the character/film chilling. Not to mention, John Carpenter’s eerie music, easily one of the finest/scariest themes of all time. This is a classic and essential for the Halloween season every year.

Grade: A

Full Title: Dazed and Confused
Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 1993
Comments: If you have read my previous list of ABSOLUTE Favorite Films, then you would know this is number two for this guy. Dazed is the kind of film that gets better each time you see it until you have seen it a gazillion times like me, but I still appreciate it nonetheless. I associate this film with time, joy, and one’s perception of how much you enjoy your stay on earth and how this perception alters overtime. True, this is a party/hangout flick, the best of it’s kind as one Quentin Tarantino would agree. But, there is so much more going on than that. The tone of this film may be light hearted and certainly euphoria inducing (always cheers me up and makes me ready to party hardy!), but if you look closely the characters themselves do not realize this or outright disagree with this. At one point, Pink pronounces “if I ever refer to these as the best days of my life, then remind me to kill myself.” Their attiude toward life seems to contrast the tone of the film itself. It’s as if the film is speaking to us, saying: these were the good old days when you had no responsibilities and your only worry was which party you were going to next. Top priorities? Getting Aerosmith tickets, when they were still cool. But the characters do not realize this and sadly we never do either in our own lives. We don’t appreciate the good times until their long gone. Perhaps even editing out the bad stuff! It’s funny when I first saw this flick I was ten, way too young to appreciate or understand the significance of the story or should I say the insignificance of the story. I often hear Dazed Detractors (poor souls) comment that the film has no point or purpose, that the movie simply ends. This is true, but that is the point exactly. Dazed perfectly captures a slice of teenage life and in most days, nothing out of the ordinary occurs. At age ten this simply went over my precious skull and while watching the first half of the film I actually thought it was supposed to be some sort of afternoon DARE TV special against drugs! A few years later (age 13) I saw it again and I loved it. I would say this is the best time to turn people on to this flick, just as they are finishing up Junior High and becoming Highschoolers, just like Mitch. This got me so excited for HS. Sadly, as much fun as I had, it was never as righetous as the activity presented in Dazed, is anybody’s? Now I am in college and not too far from “That’s what I love about this High School girls, I get older they stay the same age.”

Grade: A+

Full Title: Kids
Director: Larry Clark
Year: 1995
Comments: Much like Dazed, Kids focuses on one day in the lives of the youth of America, where drinking, smoking, and fucking seems to be their only concerns. Yet, while Dazed has an atmosphere of joy and let the good times roll, this film has anything but. Most likely the characters in Dazed will go on to lead fine lives as upstanding citizens, but these kids are doomed for failure, incarceration, and certainly death. Clark takes then teen Harmony Korine’s painfully accurate screenplay and gives it the adult perspective we see in the film. As with Dazed the tone of the film seems to contrast with the attitude of most of the characters. The main players (literally) are Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) and Casper (Justin Pierce) and both are quite satisfied as total assholes that will take advantage of anyone they can, they see nothing wrong with this, yet the film never approves of their behavior nor does it totally condemn them either. Instead, the film simply speaks for itself. Lastly, for my money, Kids has some of the most natural dialogue ever written. Most folks believe it is improvised, but in fact it is nearly all scripted. The fact that it appears ad libbed only speaks to the brilliance of Korine’s script. After all, as Clark stated, Korine’s screenplay is “from the inside, from the point of view of the kids.”

Grade: A

Three classic youth oriented films.

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Tarantino Style

Full Title: Reservoir Dogs
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 1992
Comments: Reservoir Dogs is where it all began. With Dogs, writer/director Quentin Tarantino forever engraved his name in th echelon of badass cinema. Here we have our introduction to the dish de Tarantino, a dish best served cold: classic dialogue that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot (everything from astute interpretations of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” to the subtleties in what a white “bitch” will put up with and what a black “bitch” will not), gruesome and excessive violence, a non-chronological storyline, and coolest of all a bumpin’ soundtrack with classic 70s hits. Tarantino uses these various elements to ameliorate an otherwise stale genre of film. Instead of focusing merely on the plot, he instead pulls back and utilizes the perceived frivolous dialogue as key character development and even foreshadowing. For example, in the opening scene when it comes time for the gangsters to cough up a tip, Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) refuses because he does not believe in it, while Mr. White (Harvey Kietel) passionately argues that waitresses rely on these tips to survive. Pink admits that he thinks it is absurd that the government taxes their tips, but he still will not pay extra i.e. go against his own self-interests. White, on the other hand, is willing to help another person out when they need it. Later in the film we see this same situation: Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is dying and White displays incredible compassion for his comrade, and insists that he receives medical attention immediately. Pink does not want Orange to die and somewhat sympathizes for him, but makes it clear that he will not put his neck on the line for someone else. This is top notch story telling from Tarantino and Dogs definitely showcases some of his greatest creations.
Grade: A+

Full Title: Pulp Fiction
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 1994
Comments: Without a doubt, this is Tarantino’s Magnum Opus. His finest film and one of the finest ever made. It baffles me when people say they have not seen this. Just scene after scene of witty, pop culture drenched dialogue, stylized violence, caustic humor, and above all memorable characters. Probably the best work for all involved- made Samuel L. “foot fucking master” Jackson the star he is today.
Grade: A+ (My Favorite Film)

Full Title: Inglourious Basterds
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2009
Comments: The following is a review I did upon the film’s release, one of my first film reviews for KLYAM:
First, I’ll offer you a brief rundown of the main characters
Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt)- Basterd, Jewish American Hillbilly crazy for revenge and leader of the renegade soldiers known as the Basterds. Provides much of the film’s comic relief. He orders his men to bring him 100 Nazi scalps each.
Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter” (Christoph Waltz)- The film’s chief nemesis. He is one of the highest ranking Nazis and though he is pure evil, he often displays a romantic, jovial, and courteous demeanor.
Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent)- A French Jewish girl, who narrowly escaped the massacre of her family at the hands of the Nazis and while on the run became the proprietor of an exquisite French Cinema.
Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger)- A famous movie star in Goebbels’ Nazi Germany film industry, whilst also a spy for the British/Allies. Like always, Kruger is extremely sexy!
Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl)- The Nazi’s model sniper, killed hundreds of enemy soldiers in just a few short days. After gaining fame for his military “heroism” he became the biggest star of Nazi propaganda films.
Staff Sergeant Donny Donnowitz aka “The Bear Jew“( Eli Roth) A Bostonian Basterd that takes pride in beating his Nazi victims with a baseball bat. The crowd cheered when this guy made his killings!

Final Thoughts: An instant classic! Comparable to the Kill Bill series and certainly better than Tarantino’s last flick, Death Proof (which was good). It’s a violent, gory, hilarious, alternate version of history. This is unique because, unlike most War films it isn’t a Drama. Tarantino doesn’t make Drama films. Period. This is straight up revenge! An action packed revenge movie in the style of a Spaghetti Western with elements of the French New Wave era, like most Tarantino works. The soldiers in this film, the Basterds, aren’t portrayed as people with emotions, families, or lives outside of war, like most movies of the genre. Instead, they are fierce Guerrilas only concerned with one thing… KILLING NAZIS! On the other side of the fence, we see Nazi soldiers who do have emotions, love for the cinema, sons waiting at home to play catch with,etc. I’ve never seen a film show this side of the enemy. Remarkably we still cheer for the Americans and boo the Nazis; after all it’s a REVENGE movie! In short, Quentin is our generation’s chief raconteur; you can tell he cares about his characters and therefore we care about them.

Go See Inglourious Basterds Now!!!

P.S. For you Tarantino nuts out there (like me), he makes tremendously effective uses of his trademark “Corpse View” shot.

Grade: A

” Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face!”

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Dirty Work…

Full Title: Dirty Work
Director: Bob Saget
Year: 1998
Comments: It saddens me when I hear that so many young boys and girls have not heard of this hilarious, wacky, raunchy comedy from Bob Saget of all people. No, this aint Full House, but it is just as ridiculous, except in a good way. DW is in the same league as such Adam Sandler classics as Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996) (Sandler even makes a cameo himself), not quite on par with those ditties, but certainly in the same league. If you dig dead hookers, people getting their noses (half) bitten off, and revenge then this is right up your alley- after all that best describes my typical weekend. DW is also special because it contains the great Chis Farley in his last on screen role, and as usual he is wildly brilliant. RIP buddy.

Grade: B+/A-

Full Title: Office Space
Director: Mike Judge
Year: 1999
Comments: One of the funniest films I have ever seen period. Just about everyone knows what it is like to hate their job (at least at some point in their life) and that is precisely what makes this film funny. If you have ever taken orders from multiple bosses and felt that horrible swoosh of vapidity that comes from work then this movie is for you. OS delivers a decent story with some goofball humor mixed with a clever take on the 9-5 world; in other words a fun way of saying FUCK OFF to Corporate America.

Grade: A (one of the finest comedies around)

Full Title: South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Director: Trey Parker
Year: 1999
Comments: Ahh good old South Park our modern day Voltaire (with dick jokes :). SP has never let us down and this movie is evidence that Trey and Matt can extend their satiric brilliance into a full-length feature. This is not simply a few episodes of SP slapped together, this is a high quality film with a conistent story that never ceases to amuse, shock, and certainly entertain. Seriously, this is the best musical I have seen in years and definitely the smoothest sitcom to silver screen transition. As much as I love the SP series, I think this is their greatest offering, by far.

Grade: A/A-

Mini Classic Film Reviews:Born on the Fourth of July…

Full Title: Born On the Fourth of July
Director: Oliver Stone
Year: 1989
Comments: This is one of greatest American stories ever told and one that needs to be heard. I think anyone that is considering joining the military should see this film or read the novel by Ron Kovic, which it is based on. Ronnie is easily one of the most admirable figures in American history. From start to finish he demonstrates immense courage; whether it is his unflinching attitude to immediately volunteer for the Marines, his tremendous bravery on the battlefield in Vietnam, his continuing determination (even after being paralyzed) to fight for his country whilst suffering in a horribly unfunded veterans’ hospital, to his new found awareness of the evil of government and war and his resulting militance as peace/anti-war activist/author/public speaker. I am always inspired by his character, even when I am incredibly frusturated by his ignorance and the way he blindly obeys the call to action to “Stop Communism.” The fact that he was able to stand up and take charge against the system that robbed him of so much (his ability to walk, his ability to reproduce, his faith in humanity, etc.) is remarkable. I love the way director, Oliver Stone, himself a Vietnam Vet, paints this wonderful picture of Americanism and tells the story of twentieth centruy America through Ron’s tale. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it is kind of cheesy and cliched, but it works really well here, like it adds this made for TV movie feel to it that in many ways fits the ridiculous nature of American society as a whole. Kids had watched their fathers and grandfathers fight in “noble” wars and so when Vietnam came about, now it was their time to take up the arms and defend their country. Then they find out it was (and still is) all a lie- everything they were taught was a lie. Long live brave people like Ron Kovic, who can make such 180 turns after being so invested in the opposing side.
Grade: A-

Full Title: Malcolm X
Director: Spike Lee
Year: 1992
Comments: I CHARGE THE WHITE MAN FOR MAKING TOO MANY TERRIBLE MOVIES. I CHARGE THE WHITE MAN FOR BEING THE GREATEST PERVAYOR OF HORRIBLE TELEVISION PROGRAMS, OF BEING THE FAKEST SWINE TO WALK THE EARTH. Thank God, we have Spike Lee, an excellent Black filmmaker, and certainly this is one of his finest films. I would go as far as to say this is the best biopic to grace the silver screen, the model for all other biopics. Like Ron Kovic (except so much more), Malcolm X’s story needs to be heard. I would recommend y’all read The Autobiography of Malcolm as Told to Alex Healey (1965) as seen in the Recommend Reading section of this site before you watch this flick, but if you’re a little whiny bitch and you do not like to read or do not have the time then at least view this exceptional film. Malcolm’s story is the black man’s experience in AmeriKKKa. This is what makes him such a crucial figure, we see him rise through the shadows and darkness and into the light through prison. His militance transformed a whole generation of black people into liberators, truly emancipating themselves from their white oppressors. Now, I in absolutely no way can relate to that, but privileged (white) people, such as myself, can learn many lessons from the Minister’s teachings. He took everything and turned it upside down- whatever the white man said he sliced deep into and ripped out what lay beneath. One can do this with anything; take white man and insert government (though that’s basically the same thing) and peel slowly and see :) Denzel Washington steals the show as the title role and I love the way Lee moves beyond a simple “Malcolm X died on…. He was influential…” instead he provides one of the most heartfelt closers in the history of cinema: we see images of the real Malcolm and how he affected the world from the time of his death till present (then 1992) over Ossie Davis giving him his eulogy (if I am not mistaken). A powerful film for all to see.
Grade : A

Full Title: Walk the Line
Director: James Mangold
Year: 2005
Comments: What else can be said about the Man in Black that hasn’t been said over and over again. This film does a great job of capturing the early Rock and Roll/Sun Records Memphis music scene. Here we see Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. Great performances from Joaquin Phoenix (Johnny Cash) and Reese Witherspoon (June Carter); I appreciate the fact that both of them did their own vocals as well. We see Johnny go through hell and back and at times he is not that wonderful guy we know and love, but that is precisely what makes him who he is. He knows the plight of the worker, the misery of the drug addict, and (to a much lesser extent) the frusturation of the prisoner. He represents and brings out the best in all of us. He is our American Badass- no matter what political, social, relgious group you belong to.
Grade: A/A-

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Almost Famous…



Full Title
: Almost Famous
Director: Cameron Crowe
Year: 2000
Comments: Almost Famous is perhaps the greatest portrayl of Rock and Roll ever to hit the silver screen. What I really dig about this flick is that it takes place in 1973 as the era of Great Rock and Roll was gasping for air. We see these last precious moments of rebellion through the eyes of William Miller (Patrick Fugit) a fifteen year old journalist and a devout fan, experiencing this transition from music of the people to “industry of cool,” as real life Rock Critic, Lestor Bangs (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) puts it. With great performances from Kate Hudson, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Billy Crudup, (a young) Zooey Deschanel, amongst others, this is a Must See for Rock fans and non fans (but who cares about them?!) alike.

Grade: A/A+

Full Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Director: Milos Forman
Year: 1975
Comments: This has been a favorite of mine for about six or seven years now and I can’t imagine anyone walking through life and not seeing this at least once. Granted, the novel is better and I can understand why those who love the book would detest this. With that being said, I prefer the adaptation so much more because the brilliant performances of Jack Nicholson and crew truly bring all of these colorful characters to life in ways that for me personally are not as effective in the written form. The classic ending is so triumphant and beautiful that I have rarely seen another film top it; easily one of the greatest final shots in the history of cinema. Funny, passionate, disturbing, and inspiring- what else can you ask for? It should also be noted that after thirty-five years this movie has not dated at all; I watched it in one of my Psychology classes and nearly all of the class appreciated and/or loved it. How a film stands the test of time is to me a major factor of quality and Cuckoo’s Nest appears to be timeless.

Grade: A+ (in my top ten)

Full Title: Do the Right Thing
Director: Spike Lee
Year: 1989
Comments: So, it was after 1 A.M. on a Monday night, a school night, junior year of high school, and I’m lying in my bed, watching this Spike Lee joint (bad idea for any first time viewing of a film) struggling to stay awake. Then all of a sudden, as the film is reaching its climax, I rose and walked toward my TV set and stood there for the remainder of the film (a good 15-20 minutes) just glued to the screen. This has never happened to me before. I couldn’t sleep after what I had just seen; my brain was overloaded with numerous thoughts, questions, impressions, etc. The next morning in my Algebra class, I put forth a valiant effort to focus on whatever it was we were covering in the Math world, but my mind was just fixed on DTRT, particularly the ending (one of the greatest I’d wager). If you haven’t surmised already, this is an extremly thought provoking film and unleashes the most heated of debates, even amongst its participants (disagreements have risen between Lee and some of the actors). To spare the suspense, the movie depicts the lives of those in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the Summer and like the heat, the racial tension between blacks, whites, hispanics, and asians is driving everyone crazy. Though, this a black film, Lee does not shy away from portraying black characters with many flaws (there are also several black characters that fight prejudice and are quite respectable) as well as both racist and non racist characters of other ethnicities. Lee’s perspective as black director is essential to this film as it distinguishes itself from other race related films such as American History X (1998) and Crash (2004), which have less of a point of view, in this respect. I could go on all day about all the various, super factors that make this a terrific film, but in short, it’s the little things that Lee incorporates that makes this joint Spike Lee’s distinctive piece- from Rosie Perez (ready to go with her boxing gloves) dancing to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” (1989) over the opening credits to DJ Mister Senor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson) listing off the roll call of the radio station’s many, essential, black artists “that make the day just a little brighter.” Suffice to say this film makes you think.

Grade
: A+

Three great dramedies (though they are more than that) to check out!

Next: A Full Review of I Am Legend (2007) or a Mini Classic Review of Born On the Fourth of July (1989) and others

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Detroit Rock City…

Full Title: Detroit Rock City
Director: Adam Rifkin
Year: 1999
Comments: This is straight up fun, fun, fun film about the nightmare of losing your KISS tickets the day of the concert and winding up in every possible adventure to make it to the show and see the HOTTEST BAND IN THE WORLD!!! Sure, this is over the top, absurd, and lacks many aspects of what typically makes a film decent, but this is just a wacky, fun filled flick to be taken lightly. I will say, I never lose my interest the entire movie; I can’t wait to see what obstacle will arise next in the boys’ journey to seeing KISS.

Grade: N/A, this is just a cool, popcorn movie, so I really don’t think slapping a grade on it is useful. It’s KLYAM Recommended that’s all you need to know.

<

Full Title: High Fidelity
Director: Stephen Frears
Year: 2000
Comments: Our second film regarding life and music, High Fidelity, however is more substance than style and eshews basic Hollywood cliches, creating a masterful love story in the process. HF is quite humorous and should be appreciated by (OBSESSIVE) music fans, such as myself, often hitting too close to home haha. In my opinion, John Cusack’s greatest performance. The acting is great, the script is well-written, and the story nicely unfolds without the aforementioned, cliched Hollywood ending. If you’re a fan of good love stories and pop music, give this some eyetime.

Grade
: A
><

Full Title: The Doors
Director: Oliver Stone
Year: 1991
Comments: For Doors fans, you should know up front this is a rather loose interpretation of their history, a “vision” of what actually happened, if you will. But, you probably will dig the plethora of excellent Doors music, the astonishingly scary depiction of Mr. Mojo Risin from Val Kilmer, and lastly the visual look of the film, which is simply stunning. For accuracy, look elsewhere. For a sad, but genuinely entertaining and thoughtful look at the decadence and tragedy of the Rockstar lifestyle, The Doors is your movie. Without a doubt one of Stone’s essentials.

Grade
: A/A-

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Wizard Of Oz…

Full Title The Wizard Of Oz
Director(s): Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, King Vidor
Year: 1939
Comments: This needs no introduction, the wonderful, coming of age, fantasy movie about discovering you need not look further than your backyard to find inspiration and/or happiness. I would argue this is amongst the top five or ten films to revolutionize cinema forever.
Grade: A+

<img alt=""

Full Title: Spiderman 3
Director: Sam Raimi
Year: 2007
Comments: This is definitely the weakest of the three Spidey flicks, but it isn’t terrible. It is still a good action packed, entertaining adventure. The story is interesting enough to follow through and the aciting is okay. The villians (Sandman and Venom) are decent characters, but neither generate the kind of hatred or terror one hopes to find in his Comic Book villians such as the antagonists in the previous two Spiderman movies (Green Goblin, Doc Ock, respectively). Overall, pretty average, worth seeing if you are a fan of Spiderman and/or this genre, if not, then you may or not dig this. The film fails to move beyond its basic plot and doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
Grade: C+

<

Full Title: Juno
Director: Jason Reitman
Year: 2007
Comments: I don’t care what people say about this movie, I love it! I know it has received overwhelming popularity and mostly positive reviews, but I truly think this is one of the best films of the past decade, or at least one of my favorites (# 2 for the 2000s) and it seems like that’s where people lose me. As a viewer and in general as a fan of any kind of art, one of the most vital qualities, if not the most vital quality is how memorable it is. And Junebug is chock full of lasting images, quotes, scenes, characters, and one of the most endearing soundtracks of all time. I am always glad to hear that people who normally would never listen to obscure music now know and love artists like Sonic Youth and Kimya Dawson because of this soundtrack. Speaking of Kimya, her songs (as the other artists’ music) fit astonishingly perfect in the film; as if they were made solely to be heard with this film, which of course none of them were, all having been recorded prior to director Jason Reitman contacting Kimya about collaborating. So yeah, this is highly KLYAM Recommended. Wizard!
Grade: A+

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Airplane!…

Full Title: Airplane!
Director(s): Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker
Year: 1980
Comments: One of the zaniest, silliest, and most definitely funniest films I have ever seen. This flick is filled with memorable scenes, one liners, and all sorts of other hiarious treats. Alas, the spoof genre it helped launch did not spawn nearly as many classics as this gem.
Grade: A

<img alt=""

Full Title: Scary Movie
Director: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Year: 2000
Comments: Following the tradition of Airplane! (1980) Scary Movie does a good job of poking fun at the ridiculocity of various teen slasher flicks and it is very funny, but isn’t original nor memorable enough to be as revered as the former.
Grade: C+

<img alt=""

Full Title: Mallrats
Director: Kevin Smith
Year: 1995
Comments: Smith’s sophomore effort continues this Mini Classic Film Reviews’ trend of absurd comedies, but with this movie as with most of Smith’s work there is far more brains squeezed into the equation. Smith writes fabulous dialouge with as much wit as toilet humor. This isn’t Smith’s best, but as far as comedies go, it is one of my favorites.
Grade: A-