The Terminator (1984)

"I'll be back." The Terminator

"I'll be back." The Terminator

☆ Iconic 

The Terminator (1984) is an iconic film whose reach goes far beyond its Sci-Fi pedigree.

Directed by James Cameron.

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn among many others.

Cameron not only created a monster franchise that conquered popular culture, but eerily prophesied and inspired a world of killer military robots and the Internet. James like George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) took the Sci-Fi genre to new heights by following H.G. Wells dictum of telling mythical stories with plausibility. As an audience member I was completely immersed in James fantasy world.

The runaway star of the film is Arnold. James wisely let Schwarzenegger ad lib lines with his sense of humor, irony and playfulness. Arnold made a merciless, killing machine entertaining. What makes Schwarzenegger as big a star in films as he was in bodybuilding is his ability to heighten his strengths while diminishing his weaknesses.

In the scene below watch Arnold ad lib the lines in the scene. The years he spent on the stage as a bodybuilder helped him refine his presence and energy.


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Trivia - Arnold's line "I'll be back" originally was written as "I'll come back".


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Oldeuboi - Oldboy (2003)

"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone." Oh Dae-sue

"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone." Oh Dae-su


☆ Masterpiece 

Oldeuboi - Oldboy (2003) is an epic tragic tale of Shakespearean King Lear proportions.

Directed by Park Chan-wook.

Starring Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung among others.

Park takes a tragic, blood soaked revenge tale and adds beautifully complex plot twists that lead to Choi's characters trinity of redemption, atonement and salvation. I found it difficult at times to watch the horrific carnage that Chan-wook fills his scenes with. The interesting thing that I observed is that the violence that erupts is needed for the trinity that follows. If the blood did not flow their could be no redeeming. If Christ had not been beaten and crucified there could have been no salvation for mankind. Choi's character takes on a Christ-like mental and physical beating, so that his ultimate triumph is assured. Park's Judeo-Christian religious atonement, redemption and salvation themes are a stark contrast to Kim Ki-duk's Buddhist atonement, redemption and salvation themes in Bom Yeoreum Gaeul Gyeoul Geuringo Bom - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring (2003). Both Park and Kim's films were released in the same year.

Chan-wook also has visually stunning scenes that make scenes come off the screen. Park also adds unbelievably complex, choreographed fight scenes that leave you breathless.

I have to admire Choi for taking on such a physically and mentally demanding role. It's not often actors are called to eat live Octopuses as in the scene below.


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Trivia - Min-sik ate four live octopuses for the sushi bar scene.



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The Commitments

"Is this the band then? Betcha U2 are shittin' themselves." Jimmy Rabbitte Sr.

"Is this the band then? Betcha U2 are shittin' themselves." Jimmy Rabbitte Sr.


☆ Classic 

The Commitments (1991) is to musicals what Soul is to Rock and Roll.

Directed by Alan Parker.

Starring Robert Arkins, Andrew Strong, Michael Aherne, and Angeline Ball among many others.

Alan Parker manages to create a fun and delightful film from Roddy Doyle's novel of the same name. Parker wisely let's the music and especially the prodigious musical and stage presence of Andrew Strong take center stage throughout the film. Andrew runs away with the film with his vocals and his fiery and mercurial presence. Alan has said he cast Andrew on the spot after auditioning him. Strong was only 16 at the time.

Rarely do I find myself wanting more music in a film. The music is a character and gives the film its through line. Adrien Lyne similarly used music to color the story in his film 9 1/2 Weeks (1986). Alan shows how gradually this group of young musicians develop into a cohesive and dynamic soul band. The story ultimately goes nowhere, but who cares if its entertaining and fun.

In the scene below watch how Andrew owns the music, the stage, the audience and the scene. It's a real treat to watch someone this young have so much energy, charisma and fearless stage presence. Watch how he stays in the front part of the stage.


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Trivia - Peter Rowen, the kid on the skateboard in the scene outside the window as a child was on album covers of U2's "Boy" and "War".


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9 1/2 Weeks

"How did you know I would respond to you the way I have." Elizabeth

"How did you know I would respond to you the way I have." Elizabeth

☆ Classic 

9 1/2 Weeks (1986) is an erotic tale that explores human sexual desires and its effect on its participants.

Directed by Adrien Lyne from Elizabeth McNeill's novel 9 1/2 Weeks.

Starring Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Margaret Whitton.

The three major components to why this film works is Adrien's subtle and stylish direction, Mickey and Kim chemistry and its use of visual and musical cues. Lyne does not use sex as the story as Nagisa Oshima did in Ai No Korida - In The Realm of The Sense (1976). Instead, Adrien uses sex to explore the ramifications of unbridled addiction and voyeurism. Lyne, let's Kim slowly fall apart emotionally, while allowing Mickey to gain more control over Basinger. As an audience member I felt I was taking a journey with the cast. Basinger and Rourke are magnetic in this film. Each draws you into their side of the story. It helped me to have empathy for both character's side of their behavior. Adrien's use of color and sound cues the audience and propels the narrative forward. The colors in the film get darker and the music grows more ominous as the film progresses. The director and cast successfully walked a fine line with the story and performances and pulled off what few films in the erotic genre have ever achieved.

Mickey's strength as an actor is his ability to open up and allow the audience to see deep into his soul. Rourke gets his audience to have empathy with his dark characters and their bad intentions and behavior's. Kim is really a joy to watch in this film. I'm glad Lyne saw Kim's intelligence and let her color her character with wit and charm.

In the scene below watch how Mickey seduces Kim with his sense of humor. Rourke manages to turn a self indulgent, narcissistic prick into a seductive, funny and fallible human being. Watch how Kim becomes the straight man to Mickey's comedic sidekick. Each let's the other take over the side at key moments. Rarely do I see actor's work with such precision and timing. Kim outdoes Mickey by opening her soul to Rourke and the audience when she looks first surprise then happy that Mickey finds her "So fucking beautiful". It looks like it's the first time in Basinger's life where she actually believes that someone finds her beautiful.


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Trivia - Lyne shot the movie sequentially to highlight Kim's gradual emotional breakdown and keep her unbalanced throughout production.


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Film Transcript


Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U

"It's been seven hours and fifteen days." Sinead

"It's been seven hours and fifteen days." Sinead

Iconic

Nothing Compares 2 U music video (1990) is a soulful, introspective vocal masterpiece.

Directed by John Maybury.

John directed Sinead in mostly close-ups during most of the video and gave  O'Connor the time to connect and become emotionally raw with the lyrics written and composed by Prince. Prince had written the song for his group, The Family.

Nothing is more beautiful and difficult in art than simplicity. Sinead pulls off an epic moment with just two simple tears. The moment is in the final scene of the video clip. Musicians who perform live make great actors, because they know not only how to connect their vocal instruments to the words, but more importantly how to illicit empathy from their audience.

In the scene below from the music video watch how Sinead builds up to the emotional moment in the song. O'Conner chokes at one moment from the emotions memories that are flooding her mind and body.

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Trivia - Sinead has said that the two tears she sheds in the music video; "I didn't intend for that moment to happen. When it did, I thought; I should let this happen." O'Connor later revealed that the lyrics that caused it; "All the flowers that you planted, Mother/ in the back yard/ all died when you went away, " because her late mother abused Sinead as a child.


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Lord of War

"I supplied every army, but the Salvation Army." - Yuri

"I supplied every army, but the Salvation Army." Yuri

☆ Classic 

Lord of War (2005) is a disturbing and insightful film about arms dealers and global merchants of death.

Directed and written by Andrew Niccol.

Starring Nicolas Cage, Ian Holm, Jared Leto, Bridget Moynahan and Ethan Hawke among many others.

Lord of War (2005) is an important film that uses irony laced with sarcasm to create a deadly cocktail of death and destruction. Andrew's direction and script are amplified by Nicolas' brilliant performance. I been a big fan of Andrews work. This is my favorite film of his among many favorites. The script is to die for. I'm sure Nicolas was ecstatic after reading the first few pages. Niccol employs in the opening montage a brilliant view of a bullet as it is being made, tested and fired. Werner Herzog visually set me up for his film Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes - Aguirre, The Wrath of God (1972) in a similar way visually. I knew from the start that both Andrew and Werner's films were going to be brutal from start to finish.

Cage plays his character Yuri as an aloof and amoral prick to brilliant perfect. I found Nicolas best moments when he let the irony of his sarcastic lines color the subtext within the lines. I found myself laughing at the most disturbing moments in his performance. In the opening scene watch how he flippantly delivers his lines which come out disturbing but humorous. Cage does this throughout the film.



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Trivia - Nicolas Cage's real life son Weston plays the helicopter mechanic in the film.



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Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulain - Amelie

"How many people are having an orgasm right now? ... 15" - Amelie

"How many people are having an orgasm right now? ... 15" Amelie

☆ Classic

Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulain - Amelie (2001) is a spellbinding romantic fairytale.

Directed and written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Starring Audrey Tautou, Matthieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Serge Merlin among many others.

Jean-Pierre's directing and co-written with Guillaume Laurant help to create a beautiful fantasy world that was as easy to disappear into as Woody Allen's, Midnight in Paris (2011). Both Woody and Jean-Pierre have a magic carpet that magically transports their audience into a fantasy world they created. Jeaunet magnificent use of color, especially greens, yellows and reds add to the romantic mythology of the film. The digital color correction to 2K resolution make the colors in the movie jump off the screen.

Audrey single handily runs away with the film. Tautou takes Jeunet script and makes Amelie come to life. Tautuo handles the comedy with a light touch that helps Jeunet's daft directing. I found myself laughing without the aid of English subtitles or dubbing. I was able to follow the story by just focusing on Audrey facial, eyes and physical expressiveness.

In the scene below I love how open Audrey is. She starts the scene scared of what might happen then she allows herself to be carried away in the sensual moment. It's always a joy to work with actors who are open and vulnerable with their scene partners.



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Trivia - Amelie was originally written for Emily Watson.



Amores Perros

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." - Susana

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Susana


☆ Masterpiece

Amores Perros (2000) is heart pounding, symphony of violence that is majestic in its grandeur.

Directed by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu.

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Emilio Echevarria, Humberto Busto among many others.

Alejandro's debut film is a runaway freight train that wrecks all five senses on impact. Rarely, do I get a cinematic induced adrenaline rush while also having my brain's deductive reasoning activated throughout an entire film. I was as tired after watching Inarritu's masterpiece as I was when I watched Gareth Evans film Serbaud Maut - Raid: The Redemption (2011). I loved how he tells three different stories each from their characters perspective from one event they all participated in (Hyperlink Cinema).

The actor that struck me most was Emilio. His eyes conveyed his characters subtext. A beautiful and understated performance from a master actor. Gael was superb in his explosive role. Bernal has so much raw energy that emanates from every pore in his body and face.

In the scene below Emilio reminded me of Robert Deniro. They both are constantly thinking about what their scene partners are saying to them in a scene.



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Trivia - Fishing lines were used to keep the dogs mouth shut, so they would not bite each other when they were playing with each during the dog fighting scenes.



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Elizabeth

"I have become a virgin" - Elizabeth

"I have become a virgin." Elizabeth

☆ Classic

Elizabeth (1998) is a showcase for Cate Blanchett's riveting performance.

Directed by Shekhar Kapur.

Starring Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccelston, Joseph Fiennes among many others.

Shekhar creates a gorgeous and a visually stunning film. Kapur uses the strong, bright colors of his native India to dress Cate as a wealthy and powerful monarch. Michael Hirst's script although historically inaccurate is none the less tight and filled with court intrigue and machinations. Hirst's script reminded me of Aaron Sorkin's masterful screen play, The Social Network (2010). Both Hirst and Sorkin have an amazing ability to imbue their characters lines with subtext that allow accomplished actors to take them to majestic heights.

The star of this film is Blanchett's. Cate's portrayal is astounding. My favorite moment is when she first sits on her throne to discuss religious matters with the Bishops. Blanchett captures the power and majesty of the Queen of England. Geoffrey is equally brilliant as Cate's royal advisor and political tutor. Both Blanchett and Rush bring out the subtext that is within Hirst's script.

In the scene below Cate is magnetic while being so open and free with her characters inner struggles and fears. I really felt that Blanchett was frustrated with her characters untenable situation.



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Trivia - John Gielgud's final film role.



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Friends (TV Series 1994 - 2004)

"How *You* doin?" - Joey

"How *You* doin?" Joey

☆ Classic

Friends (TV Series 1994 - 2004) is the first true ensemble comedy show on US television.

Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman and Directed by James Burrows first three seasons.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Mathew Perry and Matt LeBlanc among many others.

Friends (TV Series 1994 - 2004) is an institution. Rarely do comedy shows last successfully for ten years and go into syndication immortality. It's staying power is due to a combination of great comedic scripts, brilliant comic timing and character's young people all over the world can relate to. Crane and Kauffman set out to make an ensemble show that featured young adults just starting out after college. They remembered how in NYC they built their own family's with the friends they roomed with before they got married and had their own families.

I remember watching the first season and thinking if the cast can get their timing in order and they bring in writers on the level of the TV show Seinfeld they will have a long run. David and Marta brought in legendary TV director and creator James to help get the casts comic timing in order. Young talented writers were brought in to help flesh out the scripts and tailor the lines of each character to the actors portraying those roles. By season four Friends was a well oiled machine.

In the scene below watch David flawlessly execute pain through his face and body language. It makes you grimace and laugh at the same time. Schwimmer is a very physical comedian. David reminds me of Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), Both Schwimmer and Martin are very intelligent and have great control of their physical instruments.

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Trivia - Friends has earned over $1 Billion in syndication rights.

Metropolis (1927)


"We shall build a tower that will reach to the stars." Maria


☆ Masterpiece

Metropolis (1927) set the standard for the visuals and Special Effects in Sci-Fi films.

Directed by Fritz Lang.

Starring Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm  among many others.

Metropolis is a German Expressionist silent film by Fritz Lang. Audiences flocked to theaters when it premiered to see a city one hundred years into the future. As I viewed it I was struck by how good the sets and FX are in this film. Fritz and his creative team created a film that transported me to a distant future like George Lucas did in Star Wars (1977). The special effects that Eugene Schuefftan created with cinematographic mirrors and Karl Freund's camera work, along with Otto Hunte's Art Deco sets, created an indelible mark on future film makers. Eugene, Otto and Karl's influence can be seen in movies like Blade Runner, Batman and Star Wars.
The Art Deco sets popularized its design movement throughout the 1930's and 1940's in Europe and America.

Metropolis is a fun movie to watch visually. The story is very straight forward,but its the visuals that make this a masterpiece. In the scene below I feel as though I'm in a futuristic factory where the workers move all in synchronization like a well oiled machine.


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Trivia - The Yoshiara club is the name of the famous red light district in Tokyo.



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Leon: The Professional


"Hi, Piggy." - Mathilda

"Hi, piggy." Mathilda

☆ Classic

Leon: The Professional (1994) is a ballet of violence.

Directed by Luc Besson.

Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello among others.

The International version of Leon has an additional 25 minutes that are disturbing, but help explain the relationship between Jean and Natalie's characters. According to Luc, when the film was tested in Los Angeles, audiences reacted negatively to the scenes between Reno and Portman. The additional footage unbalanced the main story. I could see where that would happen if you keep everything. I would have done a tighter edit and kept some of the scenes that helped to explain their intense relationship.

The acting puts this film above the usual action films. Natalie brings out the subtext with her eyes and facial expression. Portman was 12 years old when she auditioned for the role Mathilda. Luc hired Natalie on the spot after seeing her audition tape.

Jean looks and acts a little on the retarded side. Reno has stated that he chose to make Leon slow witted to counter the closeness of his relationship to Natalie. Jean said, he let Portman emotionally control the intimate scenes. An actor always has to protect his scene partner during very emotional or physicals moments. The outcome of Jean's carry work adds a beautiful layer and humanizes his character.

Gary is hypnotically bizarre in a good way. Gary is playing a cop who happens to be a junkie. A drug addict behaves mentally and physically in unorthodox ways. Luc allowed Oldman the freedom to improvise and ad lib many of his dialogue and physical characteristics. Michael Badalucco says, that Gary unexpectedly began to smell his face. Badalucco says his terrified look is genuine. Oldman did his homework on junkies and let it inform his performance and take it in new directions. The scene below showcases Gary's character work during his scene with Michael. Watch how even the actor in the background is taken by Oldman's work.


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Trivia - Keith A. Glascoe, who played Benny, later became a Fireman in NYC for Ladder Company 21. Keith bravely died in the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Glascoe and his wife where expecting their third child when he died.



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Hugh Jackman Audition for Wolverine in X-Men

"So... couldn't wait to get my shirt off again." Wolverine

"So... couldn't wait to get my shirt off again." Wolverine


☆ Winning Audition

Hugh Jackman's winning audition for the part of Wolverine in X-Men.

Directed by Bryan Singer.

Starring, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan among many others.

The audition is taking place in a production office from the set designs on the wall behind Hugh. Note the camera angle they are filming the audition. I guess Singer had a certain style for the Wolverine look and wanted to see how Hugh would look  from that angle. Brian is auditioning Hugh personally. Hugh's confidence reminds me of Blake Lively's audition for Gossip Girl. Both came in knowing their lines, having clearly defined characters and brimming with confidence

Jackman has memorized the lines.This is his first audition with Singer. I can see that Hugh is playing Wolverine arrogantly. Brian asks Hugh to play Wolverine less cynical. Note, how Hugh adjusts quickly to Brian's direction. Nothing gets you a part faster than taking directions easily and quickly. Enjoy!

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Trivia - Hugh was cast one and half months after principle photography was started. Hugh was relatively unknown at the time of his audition.