guilty as charged ;)
#31 – The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Director: Ted Kotcheff
“He’s an Anti-semite ? – God bless him!”
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a rise and fall rise and fall rise and fall and rise story, about the route to success in the senseless jungle of capitalism. Duddy Kravitz, tremendously portrayed by the ever-amazing Richard Dreyfuss, is a young ambitious man, descending from the Jewish ghetto in Montreal. Duddy is a “go getter” and he never pauses to take a break, in his pursuit of happiness and money. Sadly Duddy can’t seem to have both, and he keeps on putting friendships, and romances on the line, as he takes advantage of them, and manipulates them as if they were business deals. We follow Duddy’s rise to success, throw many different pastures of the money world, and again and again he is on a rollercoaster ride through triumphs and failures. Duddy, at times, seems to eager to be a big shot, and his drive and compelling force keeps on tripping him up, as the plans fail on lack of planning. Everything from producing bar mitzvah films, to attempting to buy real estate, to smuggling heroin across the border, crumbles before his eyes. Nothing seems to work for Duddy, whose efforts keep getting more and more ruining for the relationships in his life. He drives away his girlfriend, his grandfather, and he even gets his best friend crippled, as he becomes more and more reckless with the people around him, as he reaches for the top. Duddy gets more and more stressed, and becomes more and more unhappy as his ambition rises. The odd thing about all this, is that Richard Dreyfuss manages to make Duddy a very likable character. We cheer in on, and really hope he gets the success he so desperately craves. We see him ruin his connections of the heart, and shamelessly sinks to unbearable depths, and becomes a double timing, backstabber who shits all over his friends… But we still sympathize with him – We are on his team. This strange connection with Duddy is largely because of Richard Dreyfuss’ outstanding wrestle with this twisted character. Dreyfuss, who layed the bricks for a well disserved career in this movie, not only triumphs in the title role, but also carries the whole movie on his shoulders. One of the most interesting things about this film is the relationship between Duddy and his father (played superbly by Jack Warden). Duddy desperately seeks his fathers’ approval, and wishes to be someone he can brag about to his large mouthed friends, in the local community (of witch the dad seems to be the biggest). This tragic comedy really get to you, and we explore the dilemmas that can arrive when you are faced with the decision between your long life dream, and the things that mean the most to you. The film gets a bit dreary at times, and they could easily cut one or two of his endeavors out of the film, to keep it a bit better paced.
#30 – Apocalypse Now
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
“Charlie don’t surf!”
If Apocalypse Now was made today in this day and age, it wouldn’t have worked at all! – The film viewers of today, wouldn’t like what to be told what to think about anything a movie is capable of showing, and Apocalypse Now really does tell the viewer what to think about the Vietnam war. Not that I don’t necessarily agree with the view on war, the film illustrates, but I guess I just want my movies to be less partial in their approach to issues and conflicts like war, so I can make up my own mind. BUT – Apocalypse Now is not a film made today, it is made in 1979 and it has now turned into a documentation for the anti war movement at the time. Time has allowed this movie to be partial, because everybody knows about The Vietnam War now in detail, so this film can’t really be partial anymore – in time, propaganda can leap over into art, but only when the full truth is revealed. Apocalypse Now truly is a work of art and a masterpiece for the ages. It skillfully explores the phrase “war is hell” to such a chilling degree, that you actually feel the sweaty sensation of the fear, the heat and the hell. Coppola’s epic is not just about war being bad, it also shows the aspects of human nature that can rise out of humans being in hell like situations. A thing that always strikes me when watching this film, is the use of sometimes, unreal palette of colors, Every now and then the green in the trees is some kind of green from another world – and in many ways, nothing in the film looks like anything you would know from home – the rain is heavier, the heat is sweatier, the sun is brighter and the sounds are louder. All this helps point out the feeling of going through hell (or at least some kind of hell like situation). The cast is incredibly lead by Martin Sheen in his all time finest role. Watching the characters transformation, as he follows the trail of the rouge Colonel Kurtz deeper into the jungle and into the darkness of his mind. Essentially everybody in this movie is in one-way or the other, remarkably insane, and the catalyst is war. All the characters are on the edge of insanity, as they try to get through the deepness of blood, the gravity of terror and the magnitude of death all around them. I have to mention Robert Duvall as the insane and loveable Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, who’s main objective is to surf. This character stands out in my mind as one of the best characters in film of all time. Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz is of cause also intriguing, and shows Brando as one of the greatest, as he always does - but Duvall still sticks out in my mind. As I pointed out, Apocalypse now is a very partial film; it is obviously anti-war in general. But it is also an out of this world artistic endeavor, that I can’t remember seeing the likes of since.
I decided to take a little brake from my movie reviews to contemplate sitcoms - After much thought I have made a little list of my TOP 20 SITCOMS
PETER’S TOP 20 SITCOMS
2. South Park
3. The Simpsons
6. The Office
7. Black Adder
9. ’Allo ’Allo!
13. Curb Your Enthusiasm
14. Family Guy
17. Flight of The Conchords
18. Earthworm Jim
19. Beavis and Butt-Head
20. Happy Days
#29 – ANTZ
Director: Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson
“Call me crazy, but I have a thing about drinking from the anus of another creature.”
In a very sophisticated way, DreamWorks managed to make an amazingly funny and political give-peace-a-chance movie with Romeo and Juliet aspects kind of movie… about animated Ants… For kids… But, no way this film is for kids - Yet I am very sure kids can see it, and love it (in the same way kids can see and love Animal Farm), AND I am pretty sure the film makers intended to make a kids flick, I am also pretty sure they knew the kids parents were going to see it as well. First of all I would like to point out, if I may, the absolutely breathtaking cast of voice actors they have gotten hold of for ANTZ. Woody Allen stars as the leading ant, and pretty much plays himself – that’s a questioning, lovesick New Yorker with self-esteem problems. Apart from Allen, there are such names as Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, Jane Curtin, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Christopher Walken and Jenny from the block! – I can’t think of a better assembly of voice actors in any other movie. The lead role of Woody Allen’s character fits superbly into an anthill, as the colony pretty much is supposed to be some communist version of the community. I don’t think the ants are aware they are being oppressed and exploited by the generals of the colony, before Woody Allens character, starts to ponder about the class separation going on between the elite and the people (read “ants”). Allens role of the ant named “Z” is an abnormal kind of hero in an animated “kids” film, he is in many ways a coward turned hero kind, but his heroism is pretty much derived by luck, more than know-how (maybe apart from the very end, when his heart shows him the way – Yet it still isn’t primarily Z that saves the day alone). Another thing that makes this “kids” movie special is, that there is pretty much swearing going on, and there are very visual shoots of characters dying in war (against those damn termites!) – There is even a dying-in-my-arms sequence. This was a bold move from DreamWorks, and I enjoy anything getting by the censors, that isn’t broad public pleasing. Needles to say, this was a big issue in the states, in the year it was released. The kids won’t understand the political aspects and class-war referenced, nor will they understand the sexual suggestion in the dialog. ANTZ was also a breakthrough in the animated movie department, and DreamWorks Animation showed its face with this movie as their first full length, as a challenger to the mighty Pixar, by being the first computer animated movie, depicting water. If you liked ANTZ as a kid, you will love it now, if you didn’t like it as a kid, I think you should give is a second chance, and enjoy all the points you missed in your childhood.
#28 – Anja og Victor – Kærlighed ved første hik 2
Director: Charlotte Sachs Bostrup
“Hvad fanden er der galt med en almindelig parisertoast?”
Cue the airport ending. This Danish teen flick sequel has all the clichés a decent teen flick requires. The storyline is as follows: Everything is well - something changes - the conflict appears – the breakup – the sadness montage – the shred of hope – the chase – the airport scene – the kiss – The End. This formula has been used a million times before, and will be used a million times again. So what makes this movie stand out? Absolutely nothing. I remember the original Anja & Victor movie as a decent teen comedy, dealing with issues many young people deal with, and so it was easy to relate to. This sequel fails in doing the one thing the original had going for it. No young person can relate to the issues these characters go through. In the reality in this movie, it’s as easy as nothing to find an apartment in Copenhagen, to get a job, to have success in your job and get invited to New York, to find a parking space. OK, I guess these things do happen in real life, but it’s not very damn often. And since the original film was so easy to relate to, they shore have crammed this one with un-relatable things. The script is all right, and it pretty much hits the terminology of young people in Denmark at the time (except with a a great deal of “parisertoast” references). Robert Hansen does his job well as Victor, a role he is never going to grow out of (they are still making these movies). Sofie Lassen-Kahlke on the other hand, is totally rubbish as Anja. She has no acting skills what so ever, and her cardboard personality in this film, ruins the whole movie – The reason for acting, is to make people believe that the story is real life, Sofie Lassen-Kahlke seams to have forgotten this, and decided to simply read the script aloud instead. Victor’s two duchbag friends (Jonas Gülstorff and Karl Bille) are the best things about this movie. They seam entirely believable as two 18-year-old dudes from Denmark, and they bring almost all the comedy to the movie. All in all Anja og Victor – Kærlighed ved første hik 2 is a piece of junk-rubbish, but I guess this movie is targeted towards teenage girls, and I guess somebody in that category would get a kick out of it. But that just ain’t me holmes!
#27 – Animal Farm
Director: Joy Batchelor and John Halas
“Four legs good, two legs bad!”
The ancient story of power corrupting, has never been shown more clearly as in Animal Farm, and despite the countless examples of this story shown in real life politics, the same scenario keeps on unfolding before our very eyes, all over the world. Based on George Orwell’s classic novel, Animal Farm is a comment on every revolution story, and shows how humans tend to react when given authority – but is shown to us, in way of a farmyard revolution, as the animals join together and get rid of the old dictator (the farmer), and take control of the farm. Animal Farm is a cartoon, but defiantly not for children, it is very violent and terrifying, and several animals are killed… With that said, I do believe that all children should see it, as it teaches a very important lesson, not only about the corruption of man, but also about the responsibility leaders have towards people and animals alike. I was shown this many, many times as a child, and I have not yet tried to become an evil dictator, and I treat people (and animals) with dignity and respect (I am not positive that this can be pined on the viewing of this awesome cartoon, but I like to think so). Every revolution must have its soundtrack, and the soundtrack in Animal Farm is totally awesome, I challenge you to watch this film, and not have the main theme, stuck in your head for days or weeks, the DVD restoration has also really pushed the overall sound of the movie up to another level, that does the movie credit. A different actor voices every single animal in the movie, and with the beautiful narration by Gordon Heath the voice actors are brilliant, as well as the animation style, that calls on many dramatic effects. In my opinion, Animal farm is the most important animated film to be made, and is a must see, for everybody who enjoys the exploration of human nature and the history of repression – it has never been shown better, on the screen. Everybody says that George Orwell’s original book is much better than the cartoon, so I’d better read it then, because it must be pretty damn excellent.
#26 - Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
Director: Adam McKay
“I love lamp”
Adam McKays directorial debut, is an amazing comedy. Everything just works so amazingly well, and without a doubt one of the funniest films from the 00’s. The casting is brilliant and every single actor brings his, or her personal touch to the movie. Ron Burgundy is by far Will Ferrell’s best role ever. His self-assurance and unbeatable charm disguises a dim-witted, chauvinistic man, who we see deteriorate before our very eyes, as his whole world falls apart. One of the reasons this movie works so well is because of the amazing dialog. The comedic brilliance of Adam McKay (former SNL writer) Will Ferrell, and the adlibbing by all the actors in the movie, has made a one of a kind script and dialog. This movie has bread more quotable lines than any other comedy I can remember, and more beautiful humorous scenes and situations that I can mention. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner as incredibly funny as the Channel 4 news team, and you really want to see more of them, as they are all hilarious in there own individual way, and all bring fantastic material to the movie. On top of all this comedy, there are some fantastic cameos too, Danny Trejo, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Vince Vaughn and so on. Christina Applegate works well as the movies “Straight-lady” who in reality is the only person in the film, who is in touch with reality. Behind all this comedy, is a deep important story about, territorial fights between the sexes, and an important moment in time, where women stood up for them selves and demanded to be equals in man dominated worlds. But this should at best be seen as a subliminal message, because when you get behind the premise that this is just a stupidly hilarious film, you can just lean back and enjoy every second of it. There isn’t a scene that doesn’t get me laughing and the dialog is refreshingly original and surprising.
#25 – Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
“Une femme sans amour, c’est comme une fleur sans soleil”
If you like the colours green and red, you are going to love this movie! Amélie tries much to hard to be art, and forgets about the beauty in simplicity in the process. I find this very ironic, as the main theme in the movie is about finding beauty in the simple little things in life. You can tell that every single frame has been analyzed, pondered and considered very carefully before it was shoot, and I very much doubt that very little, if any, artistic freedom has been used on the set of this movie. The red/green colouring throughout the movie gets frustratingly unpleasant to watch, and most of all looks like a music video from the early 90’s. It’s utterly depressing to watch Amélie mangling in other peoples lives and being confused about some just as boring guy – Not that a movie with a depressing theme always is bad, but I highly doubt that Jean-Pierre Jeunet set out to make that his main message in this movie. The movie is filled with repetitive characters that are impossible to relate too, they are all without dimensions and there is absolutely no growth or transition in the main character, and you are filled with a feeling of dullness and monotonous – no laughs, no cries, no suspense, no anticipation (will se talk to him, wont she talk to him… Zzzzz). This movie is two hours long. Two hours of a cardboard girl skipping around Paris, seeing things in her own quirky and unoriginal way. If I have to point out something positive about this movie, it would be the script. The script is actually quite good, and original. It’s really just a shame that it has been covered in all this red and green plastic, and flat-sided characters. I would have loved to see this script made in the same way as Christoffer Nolans “Following”. A low budget, underplayed approach would have done the script much more justice, and it would have been a better contrast towards the real world, instead of a comic book world where emotions apparently are banned. This is a movie that tries to be artistic, but fails miserably, as no emotions are provoked or brought out. And that should be the main foundation of art. I guess it would have worked as a short, but only if Amélie was killed at the climax.
#24 – American Splendor
Director: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.”
I find it very intriguing that a movie about ordinary people can be so un-ordinary as a movie… Its funny to think that the ordinary movies we see, are typically about something un-ordinary happening, or some kind of un-ordinary people – or even ordinary people in an un-ordinary situation. American Splendor is about an ordinary man in ordinary situations, don’t get me wrong, Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) is anything but ordinary, but then again, who is? – He is only un-ordinary compared to the characters you usually see in movies – compared to people in the real world, I guess he is pretty ordinary. Harvey is a comic book writer, he writes about the trivial events in his normal life, and people love it. Border lining between fiction and reality, this feature film/documentary is an original piece of work, and tells about getting through life, and dealing with the dirt that’s thrown in the machine along the way. Now this movie is based on the comics Harvey writes in the film, and I must admit that I have never seen or read these comics, but I don’t think that matters at all. This movie stands alone very well, and I think everybody could get something out of it. The structure is a mishmash of lots of different styles and methods, and they all weave together nicely. It jumps in time, it breaks the forth wall, it shows interviews with real people, it has animation bits in it, and so on and so on. But it all seams quite true to the format the comic book had, as many different drawers drew Pekar’s stories, and they all had their own style – so I guess if you were a American Splendor comic fan, you would be use to seeing all these different lines and styles, in that way the movies stays true to the comic. Paul Giamatti (as always) gives a fantastic performance that really kicked his career into the next level. He is on of those actors that really get inside the head of the role, and you forget you are watching acting at all. This is a rare thing, and not many actors have this ability. He works it to perfection – and you are very aware of what the real Pekar is like, since he also is in the film as himself. A bio-pic about a cynic man who deals with life in his own sarcastic and funny way. Even though it does get a bit tedious and dull at times, you somehow live with it (as Pekar does in his own life), and the feeling of being captivated by boredom in ordinary life is very unusual, and suits the movies theme very well.
#23 – An American Werewolf in London
Director: John Landis
“Beware the moon”
Director John Landis creates such a piece of high-quality work with this film, that beautifully mixes comedy with horror and a tuch of romance, and somehow makes the three work together in perfect harmony without corrupting each other. There is so much iconic brilliance going on in this film, that it is hard to decide where to start. David Naughton stars in this double fish-out-of-water story, not alone is he alone in a foreign country, he also finds him self in a foreign body, when he is turned in to a werewolf by surviving a werewolf attack. Naughton gives a top performance, and we really sympathise with his struggle, as he juggles with a feeling of loosing his mind, morning his dead friend, falling in love and getting to grips with his inevitable death, witch can be the only outcome of being a werewolf. Naughton manages all these layers to perfection, and the famous transformation scene really gets under your skin, and is without a doubt, one of the best special effects scenes ever made. The horror scenes are horrific as hell – and Landis manages to ace both suspense and blood’n’gore, in all the amazing killing scenes – most notably the incredible underground killing scene, still gets my heart pumping every time. The dream sequences, and talking to the un-dead moments in the movie are also worth mentioning. Griffen Dunne laid-back un-dead character is hilarious, and strangely horrifying at the same time. The double dream sequence, with the family killing Nazi-pigs is totally out of this world bat shit crazy, and the fact that it continues in another dream is so surprising and unexpected and a total touch of genius. A truly original movie, that gives the three genres a pleasant twist in directions they haven’t been before (or since), and does so without making the whole thing feel like a parody of something else, or itself. And once again, an extra point for the physical effect and the power of the real thing, apposed to some kind of computer rubbish. My favourite werewolf movie of all time by far – even though werewolf movies not really are my cup of tea, this awesome film is one of a kind, and well worth a watch.
#22 – American Psycho
Director: Mary Harron
“You’re a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, and then play around with your blood.”
From moments of the purest dark comedy, to instants of terrifying horror, and every level in between, American Psycho take one on a shocking trip through the mind of a deranged Wall Street yuppie, with a lust for blood and violence. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a one of a kind character, and a comment on the whole superficial lifestyle of the neurotic successful. I can’t get around this review without mentioning how beautiful the killing scenes are. Christian Bale, totally rocks in the role, when performing these horrendous actions of bloody violence, whilst the victims have no idea what the hell is going on, as Bateman consistently yaks on about meaningless topics, as if it’s the most important thing in the world, before he goes for the kill. He puts on the material mask before taking of his mask, reviling his true colours – mainly red. Even though he at times manages to escape into his material world after committing terrible, and pointless acts of violence, he gradually looses control and reality hits him. So in many ways, I really believe this movie is about crying for help, and not being heard, as seen in the many moments in the film. Like where Bateman try’s to come clean about his killings, and his shallow friends aren’t really listening, as he wouldn’t if they were trying to tell him something. When you surround yourself with simulated emotion, and passion towards blank items of desire, you become a prisoner in your own fabricated shell of indifference, and fail to reach out towards anything that’s real. I love this aspect of the movie, of cause Bateman is a total lunatic, but at certain moments, he gets a vision of clarity and shoots out a flare for someone to see. Nobody ever does, and he is forced to remain in his aggressive world alone. All together a brave and disturbing film, that leaves you with a strange sickening feeling after an open ending, where anything could happen, and that was the only way to end the movie, resolving anything for Patrick Bateman in this instant in his perverted life wouldn’t solve anything at all in the long term, he is simply to disturbed.
#21 – American History X
Director: Tony Kaye
“People look at me and see my brother.”
Most people think this movie is just about the ugly face of racism, and I would be a moron if I said that that wasn’t a big theme in the film, but in my eyes this movie is more about misdirection, bad influences and ignorance, and with those themes intact, this film could easily have been put in any other setting of bad choice. An interesting aspect of the movie is the respect and idolism of your elder peers. Brainlessness it very often past down through the generations, and this film shows how that works very well - from father to son to brother. BUT – this movie is also about finding hope, and shows how people can break out of a chain of unhealthy narrow-minded habits, and how difficult it can be to turn your back on a problem that has become a part of you, and even worse, if you have become part of the problem… You can turn your back to a problem, but the problem doesn’t always turn its back on you. Edward Norton is totally brilliant in this movie, and he totally shows his massive talent in American History X, which actually (I think) was the first time I saw him… No wait, I think Rounders came before… And so did The People vs. Larry Flint… But anyway, this was the first time he made a real impression as a leading man in a movie (he is also totally unrecognisable in this part, with all the muscles and all… not lawyer material). Norton is convincing and his transformation from Neo-Nazi to good guy, is excellent, though sometimes can be a bit easily done, but on the other hand – when you have blinded yourself with hate, and you start seeing with real eyes for the first time, I guess it would be little things that would make you realize that the world isn’t so black and white (pun intended). Edward Furlong also gives a impressive performance as Danny, and it really is a mystery too me why this guy isn’t leading Hollywood blockbusters by now… I guess child actors just prefer to slowly fade away. The composition of the flick is also ingenious, and Tony Kaye made some very important decisions by jumping back and forward in time, revolving it around Danny’s homework assignment. An awesome, honest and brave film, that tackles some pretty heavy issues, emotions, and anger.
#20 - The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Director: Terry Gilliam
“Is there a doctor in the fish?”
First of all I would like to apologise, this film review and viewing should have been in between “Across the Universe” and “Airplane!” – It simply got lost in my massive DVD collection – Smugface.
When it comes to living life, the only thing you have to remember is to live it. Death will always be trailing you, and as soon as you give up, or forget to live, death will catch up. A stunning trip through the brilliant imagination of Terry Gilliam, that always is a joy ride. A travel between reality and imagination, between fact and fiction and mostly between truth and lie – all of witch can be pretty vague at the most of times. This movie is the final part of Gilliam’s unofficial trilogy of the three stages of man, and the impact of imagination on them. This one is off cause the stage of the elderly (the others being youth = Time Bandits and Middle age = Brazil). John Neville gives an extraordinary performance as the Baron, and it is actually a role with many coatings. The character is in constant change, and almost in every scene he becomes either older or younger, according to his state of mind, and to how old/young he feels in the given moment, and that is a handsome touch to the feeling of the entire movie, you are only as old/young as you feel – or you can only handle what you think you can handle. It is fascinating to watch this kind of movie set to screen, filled with scenes bigger than most people’s fantasies. Its mind blowing how all this total madness and twistedness can fit into the brain of one man, and somehow not end him up in a hospital – let alone give him the talent to show it to the rest of us – and he proves that CGI is total rubbish compared to the actual thing happening, and also how much it means to build a set, instead of using fucking green screens..! I am grateful that I have been watching Terry Gilliam movies since I was a kid, and to have been able to see these images of wonder and total madness, spiced with ridiculously magnificent stories and magical journeys to the imagination. Thank you Terry.