Director Curtis Hanson and his co-writer, Brian Helgeland, have taken a massively complex novel by James Ellroy and boiled it down to a no-flab screenplay that still eludes easy synopsis. A mass murder in a downtown cafe sets off an investigation that will spiral off in many directions, ultimately encompassing a prostitution ring that features girls surgically altered to resemble movie stars, drug-running mobsters, celebrity gutter journalism, police corruption, political blackmail, the racial biases of the LAPD and even a good, sexy love story.
At the very beginning of the movie, we see Scottie vaulting across rooftops, struggling to keep up with the policeman ahead of him as he realizes that he is afraid of heights. He is, of course, suffering from castration anxiety. The ability to chase down criminals is important to his work, which is tied directly to his role as a male, providing for himself. If he is unable to perform adequately, it will signify that he is impotent. When he fails to save the life of the policeman who is trying to save him, he is effectively castrated.1
Frank Darabont has often compared The Shawshank Redemption to a Rorschach test. Written and executed with exceptional skill, it possesses a power that allows viewers to effortlessly empathize with its characters. It is, perhaps, the metaphor of imprisonment that resonates within us the hardest. We all have things that hold us captive, whether physical, psychological, social, or economical. Shawshank is about hope. If Andy can escape and come out the other side free, so can we. Get busy living or get busy dying. That’s goddamn right.
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I wanted everyone, every man, woman or child to realize that they had a choice. I wanted them to know that they have the right to get angry, to get mad. They have the right to say to themselves, to each other, to the world at large, that they had worth, they had value. The speech wrote itself, because that was Beale’s battle cry for the people. 1
~Paddy Chayefsky on Howard Beale’s “Mad as Hell” speech. [Read more…]
Style and substance. Gladiator is a phenomenal revenge drama that earned the Oscar for Best Picture in 2000 (the original screenwriter, David Franzoni, shared the award with William Nicholson and John Logan), as well as Best Actor for Russell Crowe, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound. Long after the CGI fades into nostalgia, or possibly a few laughs, the story will keep this film alive. As Maximus says, “what we do in life echoes in eternity.”
It would be wrong to label Risky Business as just another teen sex comedy. It’s much more than the best that genre has to offer. It’s the yin to The Graduate’s yang. It’s an ideal precursor to Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. At it’s core, it’s a slick satire about guilt, greed and lust. With hindsight in their favor, some call it social commentary on the Reagan Revolution. Above all else, it will go down in history as the film that launched Tom Cruise, and that’s a shame…it has a lot more to offer.
With this one we sort of figured, you know, if things become a little bit too complicated or unclear, it really doesn’t matter. I mean, the plot is kind of not the…and again, this is similar to Chandler: The plot is sort of secondary to the other things that are sort of going on in the piece. I think that if people get a little confused it’s not necessarily going to get in the way of them enjoying the movie. 1
~Joel Coen on The Big Lebowski
Violence drives Drive… Refn creates a fever dream that sucks you in. Or maybe you’ll hate it. Drive is a polarizer. It’s also pure cinema, a grenade of image and sound ready to blow. 1
It’s rare when twenty-something actors write something so well received, let alone so profitable. Orson Welles did it with Citizen Kane. 1 Peter Fonda did it with Easy Rider. 2 Sylvester Stallone did it with Rocky. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did it with Good Will Hunting.
Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!
Yeah, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Die Hard. Well, either that, or a man jumping off an exploding skyscraper roof with a firehouse tied around his waist. Maybe it just depends on my mood. Released back in 1988, this film kicked arse at the box office, spawned
three four sequels, and as a result, has been ripped off more times than the white man at a Cherokee Nation casino:
- Speed (1994) — Die Hard on a bus.
- Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) — Die Hard on a boat.
- Under Siege (1992) — Die Hard on a boat.
- Executive Decision (1996) — Die Hard on a plane.
- Con Air (1997) — Die Hard on a plane.
- Air Force One (1997) — Die Hard on Air Force One.
- Toy Soldiers (1991) — Die Hard in a boarding school.
- Cliffhanger (1993)– Die Hard on a mountain.
- Night at the Museum (2006)– Die Hard in a museum.
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) — Die Hard in a mall.