Blindspot 2018: Die Hard (1988)

DieHard

Plot: John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

1988 was the year. My eldest sister was born and John McClane became became the hero of the Nakatomi Plaza attack when he took down Hans Gruber and his other German terrorists. So all in all, it was a good moment in history. Let’s also just take a moment to marvel at the fact at how the view of terrorism has changed,  as well as the nationalities of suspected terrorists.

I have been chewing on this a while – did I like it? Did I not? I really can’t tell for sure. I really like action movies, so it was a bit of a weird thing for me to not have seen Die Hard, considered by many to be 1) a Christmas movie and 2) one of the best action movies, like, ever. So, in the spirit of actually finishing up my Blindspot list this year, I sat down and got this done.

I have to confess that while I liked Die Hard just fine, I didn’t really love it. I felt disconnected from Bruce Willis being young and gung ho and ready to fight the bad guys. The dialogue is fantastic though, and John really is a smart mouth. I am sounding old again, but the dialogue in “today’s” movies just aren’t the same anymore.

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I’ve never seen Alan Rickman in a younger role. He has always been Severus Snape to me, (and now Marvin). It seems like a real shame and something I need to sort out – he is simply fantastic as Hans Gruber – controlled, brilliant, devious and a mastermind. If not for one rogue cop, this man would definitely have succeeded. Hans Gruber is a villain that you don’t get too often in action movies – he is not just a bad guy for shits and giggles, he is smart and has a plan and Alan Rickman acts convincingly as this ominous man.

There is also a bit of a buddy cop vibe going between John McClane and Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald Vel Johnson). Al is the first person to take John seriously and alert the cavalry that there is indeed a terrorist attack going down. Al gets a moment too at the very end to prove his bravery, and I can only hope he is in the next million films that were released in this franchise.

I also liked Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), but I have never really been able to sympathize with people who leave their cop-partners because of the workload (sure, infidelity or abuse, but he is busy protecting everyone). Despite her choice to leave John, she is given good dialogue and is not so afraid of the terrorists that she can advocate rights for her fellow hostages.

I’m giving this a 7/10 because it was good, not particularly great, but a decent watch that didn’t require too much brain power and a decent film to have noted as “watched”.

 

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Blindspot 2018 review: The Silence of The Lambs (1991)

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Plot: A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

People who choose to put other people through their own digestive tracts have always captured the imagination of the world. For me the very first question is, to cannibals, why though? Kuru brain disease presents itself in the New Guinea inhabitants who chow on their tribe mates. It’s a debilitating neurological disease and sounds really quite unpleasant to me. Also, cooking normal meat can be so tiring and now you want to put human skin through that process? Ick, Ick, Ick.

This film famously won the big five at the Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Actress, best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally). I can say yes, I agree, to all five awards. Anthony Hopkins takes on the most famous imaginary (hopefully) cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter and I have literally never seen anyone give such a frightening and perfect performance. He seems to have genuinely terrified Jodie Foster, who gives an equally brilliant performance as Clarice Starling, the new FBI agent who is tasked with corresponding with Lecter in the hopes to track down cannibalistic serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine). It is almost easy to overlook the brilliance of Levine’s work here when his other co-stars were as amazing as they were, but Bill is creepy and terrifying in his own right.

I also liked that Clarice experienced onscreen sexism – it kept it real. She’s an obviously brilliant young agent but she’s a woman and therefore must experience some skepticism and glances. Her relationship with Lecter is fascinating and Foster’s ability to switch between terrified and intrigued is wonderful.

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The move is tense and broody and Jonathon Demme created a bleak and intense atmosphere. The last few scenes alone with Bill and Clarice is full of harsh shallow breathing and sharp light, and I found myself creeping inwards toward my blanket, not knowing who would win, Clarice or Bill.

I watched The Godfather Part I and Part II in my first Blindspot year, and this is the only film that has reached that level of excellence. It’s a thriller (compared to the Horror I was expecting), superbly acted and intense. The story is solid and compelling, and leaves enough room at the end to guarantee your return for the next in the franchise.

Rating: 9.5/10

Blindspot 2018: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

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Plot: A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building, but her past threatens to get in the way.

There can’t be more to say about this film than what has already been said, and only my lack of seeing it would prompt me to even post about it  – a film 57 years old has had many reviews, certainly more loquacious than the one I’m about to wring out. However, I found the motivation to watch another Blindspot film, and this was readily available.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my very first Audrey Hepburn movie, a woman as well remembered for her humanitarian work for UNICEF and her iconic status as one of the greatest actresses to ever grace our screen. Personally I like the UNICEF remembrance more, as it shows that she used her great fame for a cause and was really a lot more than just a pretty face (and what a pretty face it was!) Marilyn Monroe and Shirley McLain were both also considered for this role, and although Truman Capote felt her woefully miscast, Audrey Hepburn managed to make the role her own and to turn it into a defining moment in her career. She is delightful as Holly Golightly, as a (correct me if I’m wrong), high scale call girl. The film plays this out very carefully, I would assume due the time of release, and there is more focus on Paul Varjak’s nefarious activities than on Holly’s. She’s fascinated by Paul when he moves into her building, and it turns out he is similarly employed and wants to be a writer. He’s as charming as she, and through ups and downs Holly discovers what it means to be herself and to be in-love. Holly has a lot of plans and very few of them are wise, and a few things are revealed during the film – Holly’s previous marriage, her ability to jump between rich men and her inability to give a cat a name. The film could have been choppy, and I thought it could have had a stronger story, but between Peppard and Hepburn they manage to keep it together through charm and banter.

Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of the Japanese character Mr. Yunioshi’s is the only thing that I can’t admire. The character is portrayed as nothing short of retarded, and I can’t think such a portrayal could have been appreciated during that time any more than it would have been today. It seems highly insulting that the only other race in the film was portrayed in such a fashion.

The film is really stylish, has gorgeous costumes and its theme song is truly beautiful and no doubt as iconic in its own right as the film itself. I absolutely love Audrey Hepburn’s hairstyle, though few women could pull it off, and her dress, which inspired the Little Black Dress (although these days the cloth is significantly less), is classy and she looks wonderful in it.

I had a good time with this film, and at the end of the day that is what it is about, but I won’t be rushing to repeat this classic anytime soon.

Rating: 7.5/10

Blindspot 2018: Ghostbusters (1984)

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Plot: Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.

Whether you’ve seen it or not, you really know who to call. Ghostbusters (1987) is one of the most instantly recognizable films and soundtrack – like the Matrix, another Blindspot choice, you know of it whether you have seen the film or not.

Bill Murray is a surprisingly hunky (sorry) scientist, Venkmen. He is fired from his plush job at the university, and has an idea to start a business capturing supernatural creatures, and takes his equally fired colleagues Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) with. They officially become Ghostbusters, hunting down the alarmingly high number of supernatural creatures on the loose in New York City.

In fulfilling these activities, they attract the attention of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who has the really annoying supernatural phenomena of cooking eggs on her countertop and a demon named Zuul, who naturally won’t settle for anything less than destroying the world. The Ghostbusters set themselves on the task of saving said world, while procuring the affections of Dana for Peter.

A remake of this classic film was released in 2016, and man, there were a lot of angry men. I’ve been told that not all men were pigheaded in this regard, and with that I agree – some aren’t sexist prigs. However, I can see why they were so angry – the original Ghostbusters have some rather sexist attitudes – Peter Venkmen is rather persistent in Dana Barrett, even after her explicitly stating that she’s not all that interested. That type of humor was okay back in the 80’s, and I am sure a lot of men still subscribe to the nothing that even if a woman is clearly not interested, you should still harass her. But I digress. There is also the fact that all the heroes are men – and I do like a good hero – but I can see that some could feel threatened by it.

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Anyway, back to the actual film. It was fun, short and packed with adventure. The graphics aren’t half bad for the time, and it is truly fun to see Bill Murray in action. It’s not my favorite role of Sigourney Weaver (Alien forever), but she’s really good to watch as always. There were some great supernatural moments, and what I genuinely liked is that this movie manages to pass as a comedy rather than some thriller, because that would never have worked.

Ghostbusters is definitely not a bad way to start my Blindspot series, and I really hope the rest of the year’s films will be equally as fun.

Rating: 7.5/10

Blindspot 2018: Choices

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Well, I’m still need to watch two movies on my 2017 Blindspot list, but here are my next pickings. They are as eclectic and all over the place as last year’s list, which I actually enjoyed so much because it had a bit of everything.

Ghost Busters (1984) 
Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson 
Credit: Columbia Pictures/Courtesy The Neal Peters Collection

Ghostbusters – Time to see exactly how great this is and to get why all the men got so huffy about the all-female cast of the 2017 version, which I also haven’t seen yet.

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The Matrix – I am assured I only need to watch the one

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Erin Brockovich– I am a huge Julia Roberts fan and I really need to finally see the film she won her Oscar for.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s – For the joy of seeing Audrey Hepburn in her most iconic role

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Shutter Island – need I say more? A psychological thriller with Leonardo DiCaprio

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Blade Runner – I was really interested to see the 2017 version (hello, Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford), but felt it would not be the best idea to start at the second film.

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Revolutionary Road – It is another film with DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, so I am definitely okay with that. #JackAndRose

Jaws

Jaws – chomp chomp chomp

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – I’ve been threatened with my life if I don’t rectify this apparently appalling crime.

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Silence of The Lambs – I’m probably going to tuck my feet safely under blankets with the lights on for this, but I’m game.

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Die Hard – I really do enjoy action films and this film seems like one consistently considered a favorite among them

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The Curious Life of Benjamin Button – This film was the most frequently almost-replaced-on-here-film, but I am still ready to watch and enjoy and watch a young Brad Pitt.

There are a few I’d almost chosen, listed below, which I would still like to get to. Although since I’m not done with 2017’s list yet, just focusing on finishing the chosen ones seem like a pretty sound decision.

  • Ant Man – literally the only Marvel movie I haven’t seen yet in later years
  • Good Fellas – because, Pacino.
  • The Sixth Sense – this was a close call but the internet has long since spoiled every single scene in this so I’ll just watch it when I can
  • The Hateful Eight, because Tarantino. Did not make the list because I’ve heard while it is Tarantino, it isn’t the Tarantino
  • American Pie – A bit of lightheartedness to these proceedings, if you will

If you are taking part this year, let me know!