Alright next on the chopping block is a fantastic film known as The Graduate directed by Mike Nichols. This is a wonderful film that manages to mix just about every great thing about cinema into one fine production.
I really want to review this film now because I am graduating myself in a little less than a month, and this film manages to convey an absolutely accurate portrayal of the crossroads of life. Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin and like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, this role truly propelled Hoffman into stardom. The story centers around a recent graduate who is looking for some source of inspiration of where to go in his life. What he finds is particularly interesting. The character of Benjamin is also very interesting. He has some quirky characteristics and reacts to situations in an almost impulsive and erratic manner (like many graduates out of college).
Uncertainty is the key in this movie. The music composed by mainly Simon and Garfunkel nicely complements this theme. There are such good songs and sounds heard in this movie. It is truly one of the finest combinations of imagery and sound in any film all time. Take a look at it. It is particularly relevant for college students (I know most of my readers are in college) and also resonated with me even more strongly when I watched it again recently.
Take a listen to one of the wonderful songs by Simon and Garfunkel called The Sound of Silence. Review should be up sometime this week!
Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween! I know I sure did. I actually went ahead and did another to homage to Hunter S. Thompson by dressing up as him for Halloween. Picture below:
Fear and Loathing truly inspired me this year.
Anyways, I’d like to go ahead and introduce you all to the next film I will be reviewing. If I had a Top Ten favorite films list, this film would definitely be in the top five. I’m talking about Taxi Driver (directed by Martin Scorsese) starring Robert DeNiro in the principal role. DeNiro’s performance in this role definitely helped jump-start his illustrious acting career. The film tells the wonderful story of a solitary taxi cab driver who becomes obsessed with fighting back against the scum and immorality of seventies New York City. However, that summary does not even begin to do the film justice.
The score, done by Bernard Herrmann (his last score before he died), adds a wonderful layer to the film’s plot. It mirrors the easygoing elements of seventies New York City while also capturing the essence of the scum and venality that Bickle sees on the streets and in his cab on a daily basis. The main theme of the film just evokes so many sentiments of loneliness and despair while also conveying feelings of inner peace and acceptance. The saxophone and piano sound very jazzy and have a beautiful interplay with one another. This film manages to mix all these elements and create one of the finest final products of all time. Review will not likely be up until next week but in the meantime, check out the soundtrack (or even the film). It is unquestionably one of the best films ever made. Still Scorsese’s masterpiece in my opinion.
After more than a month away, I have finally decided to return to the world of cinema. I am very glad to be back and I feel more inspired and ready to introduce you folks to some fine cinematic masterpieces out there. I have decided to restart with a new slate so I will not be reviewing The Usual Suspects as I said I would a month ago. Instead, I have decided, in honor of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, which releases later this week, to review the delightful yet frightening Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. Let me perfectly blunt. This is not a movie for everyone. It dives into just about the deepest depths of moral depravity and has consequently polarized folks very harshly since its release. I happen to fall onto the lovers side of the spectrum and I must say that Terry Gilliam, one of my favorite directors, truly did justice to Hunter S. Thompson’s masterpiece of a novel.
The film details the “trip” of an oddball journalist and his even stranger attorney in Las Vegas as they plunge into a series of intensifying drug-filled adventures. Again, be warned that this film may not be your particular cup of tea. However, if you’re still reading, I will say that despite what you think of this film, it has an awesome soundtrack. The music team really did a wonderful job with original compositional work as well as including some classic songs. Perry Como, Debbie Reynolds and Dead Kennedys all make an appearance. The beginning also features arguably the best cover of Favorite Things, made famous by Julie Andrews, and it plays over a very interesting montage that goes to the heart of the film. The essence of the American Dream and the American Life.
Whatever you think of this film, the first ten minutes of this film are incredible. Depp is just fantastically amazing in this. No one is better at playing weird than Johnny but he really plays a different type of weird here. Here’s the beginning cover by the Lennon Sisters. Review will hopefully be up on Thursday.
I would next like to review a film that is vastly different from anything I have reviewed to this point. The film is called The Usual Suspects and is directed by Bryan Singer. Like the film’s title might suggest, it does not feature your usual array of big stars but instead chooses to utilize a very strong group of typically supporting actors to build the film. Well, they all do an exceptional job because it’s the characters that become the spotlight of the film’s central thematic device.
This is a film that focuses on looking back at past events as an FBI agent interrogates a timid man as to how a string of murders was committed upon a ship the previous night. The soundtrack features a lot of piano to set up this mysterious effect (the film in effect is a play off the typical noir genre) and to give the film a very nebulous quality. Clarity is extremely hard to find sometimes in this film. It is that dynamic that keeps the film completely engrossing, thrilling and mystifying through and through.
So check out The Usual Suspects or wait for my review if you have reservations. In the meantime, take a listen to this beautiful track that plays over the opening credits. As I explained in a few posts earlier in August, music over the opening credits can really set the tone for the film. The end effect is no different here. Ignore the opening part of the video.
Hope all my school-age readers are enjoying their first few days back at school/university. It has certainly been a few hectic days for me. In fact, I think I am truly beginning to miss summer now that it’s gone until after another long school year. So much so that I would like to dedicate today’s post to the wonderful 500 Days of Summer. I think many people have seen this film but it originally started out as a small, independent flick that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It garnered a lot of praise and slowly built steam from there. I remember when I first the saw trailer for that movie, I was immediately mesmerized. The mix of the characters, the plot and the music especially really got me excited to see it. I also love Joseph Gordon-Levitt so it immediately interested me. It tells a classic story of boy meets girl but it tells it in a very original and clever way, documenting the 500 days that the boy is involved in any way with the girl, named Summer. Just like we must learn to get over summer, the film mainly depicts Tom’s struggle to get over Summer. The film’s soundtrack is just awesome. It features Regina Spektor, The Smiths, The Temper Trap, Hall & Oates as well as Wolfmother. It definitely adds a nice range to the film and helps us describe all the emotions that true, honest love can evoke out of us. If you have not seen 500 Days of Summer, check it out as soon as possible because it is a great crowd-pleaser and a film that will make you reconsider your feelings about love.
I am going to put the trailer on a movie intro for the first time because I really liked this trailer a lot.
Now some of the music:
Hope everyone on the east coast weathered that hurricane well. So the next film on the review block is one of director Ridley Scott’s first films and is also still to this day, his best film, in my opinion. A great sci-fi, future-noir film known as Blade Runner has served as an influence for several futuristic science fiction films since it’s inception and release. The atmosphere and mood that Scott created in this film becomes integral to the plot, its characters and the overall themes of the film. The synthesized sounds in the film composed by Academy Award winning composer, Vangelis, develop a very dark, techno-pop characteristic to the music; consequently, the world that Scott conveys becomes soaked in the sentiment of the music. End effect is that the world becomes wholly authentic and plausible in the viewer’s eyes.
Blade Runner tells the story of a man assigned to hunt down four rogue androids that have escaped from off-world colonies and have now taken up residence in Los Angeles. The pacing of this film has polarized many but the music matches the pacing perfectly and manages to rise, crescendo and fall alongside the emotions of all the characters sensationally well. Interestingly enough, I actually did not like Blade Runner at all when I watched it for the first time. When I watched it the second time, I actually liked it. My reverence for the film increased more and more upon each subsequent viewing to the point where now Blade Runner is one of my favorite films of all time. In fact, if I were to come up with a Top Ten List, it would probably be in there. It’s a great film so everyone should check it out. But it is also not a film for everyone so do not keep your expectations very high. After all, I didn’t like it my first time. Just keep in mind that there exists a very deep meaning and significance to the pacing and development of the film. Once you understand that, you will truly begin to recognize the artistry of Blade Runner.
Enjoy this great track from Vangelis that plays over the end credits of the film.
So the past couple days, AMC has been showing off a fantastic action film that I am sure most of you have seen. None other than Jurassic Park directed by Steven Speilberg. I actually really like the whole plot behind Jurassic Park. For those of you who do not know, it was actually adapted from a highly successful novel by the late Michael Crichton and I must say this is one of the few films that even comes remotely close to the level of the original source material. One of the biggest reasons the film was so successful in my mind is due to its enchanting score and the wonderful music composed and provided by the legendary John Williams. I earlier introduced you to some of his music in Jaws. His music in Jurassic Park retains the tense sounds from Jaws while also including some truly beautiful and inspiring compositions that reflect the power and magnitude of the island of dinosaurs. I love listening to some of this music when writing or studying; it really does inspire you. If you have not seen Jurassic Park and I highly doubt many of you exist, then check it out as soon as possible because it is definitely a classic of 90’s cinema.
This particular track plays over the end credits and is very magical.
Today I am not reviewing The Fall. I will be doing that tomorrow as I was very busy today at work as well as afterward with my birthday celebrations. Anyways, I want to introduce you guys to a wonderful artist known as White Hinterland! Any fans of Regina Spektor will love this woman because their voices are quite similar but I think White Hinterland has a different range of musical sounds so it makes for very interesting listens.
The song I am introducing called Icarus plays during a scene in a nice little recent indie flick from 2009 called It’s Kind of a Funny Story with Zach Galifianakis. It’s a pretty nifty movie and definitely an enjoyable watch with some very cool characters. I really liked Emma Roberts in the movie!
Anyways check the film out because it’s a crowd pleaser and presents an interesting story yet it’s a tale that we all know at the same time.
Here’s the wonderful song!
Music in opening sequences of films can be extremely significant in establishing the mood or theme of a film. Take for example the song I posted a few weeks back, We’re Gonna Be Friends by the White Stripes. It played during the opening credits of Napoleon Dynamite and accomplished that very effect I speak of. Now I would like to introduce you to another fairly recent film that was far more limited in theatrical release than even Little Miss Sunshine. The film is called The Fall and it is directed by Tarsem Singh. The background image is an excellent microcosm for the entire rest of the masterpiece. I only saw this film a few months back and I must say that is easily one of the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen. The images in the film are breathtaking because the locations are simply astounding. You do not want to miss this film that tells a very unique story.
Anyways, the opening credits is shot in black and white (the rest of the film is in color) and Beethoven’s Symphony #7 Allegretto Movement 2 plays over them. It is one of the most beautiful opening sequences and gives the story an instant retro feeling. It also foreshadows elements of the plot very nicely which is quite epic in scope. The music is quite epic and classical as well I must say. Please watch this movie! It is not a movie that gained much recognition but I wholeheartedly believe it should have. Review to come very soon! In the meantime, please listen to this beautiful track by the genius Beethoven.
Alright next on the horizon: a pretty recent, quirky independent film known as Little Miss Sunshine. Interestingly enough, the first time I watched this film, I actually did not like it all that much. However, I watched the film about a couple years later and it hit home much stronger. One of the best things about film is that you can come back to films upon repeated viewings and gain different perspectives. Your opinion of the film could even change drastically, as mine did for Little Miss Sunshine. The film is easily one of my favorite films of the past decade and does an incredible job of mixing humor, warmth, melancholy, desperation and fulfillment in the most unlikely of places. The film tells the story of quite a dysfunctional family as they attempt to get their young daughter, Olive, to a child beauty pageant.The cast is awesome and includes Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear as well as Alan Arkin for which he received a well deserved Best Supporting Actor award from the Academy.
The soundtrack in this film mirrors the story very well as it combines cheery and light tracks with deeper, more pensive strings that is best summed up by the best track on the soundtrack in my opinion, The Winner Is. The score was composed by Mychael Danna and Denver band Devotchka, whose most famous song remains How It Ends and The Winner Is actually sounds much like an instrumental reworking of the original song. It is a great, emotional song and I love the instrumental work. Review of Little Miss Sunshine to come very soon. In the meantime, please listen to How It Ends by Devotchka.