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E.T. (1982-2002)

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From IMDB:

A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.

25 years old and still strong as ever.

I’m not going to go into detail about what this film is about. Unless you have lived under a rock your whole life you know well enough what the story of E.T. is all about, but there is much more meaning brought to the screen that what the story can even tell.

It’s is probably one of, if not the best film to have come out of an era that had Cindy Lauper, Boy George, The Pet Shop Boys, Bananarama, and Madonna as cultural music icons that were shaping a country. The 80’s were known for so many things that were of bad taste and fun at the same time. It was a time of cultural experimentation not only in the music industry but with films as well. We really had some films that shaped a countries identity in the 80’s as much as any other time in film history. Star Wars (the original trilogy) was finished, Rocky kept becoming more invincible, every kid that saw ‘The Goonies’ wanted to be one, and we were introduced to Indiana Jones. The list is much bigger than what I really have time to put all in one post. I could actually build a whole blog separately on how the 80’s shaped a culture.

E.T. was one of the milestones that raised the bar for a lot of production companies to have to follow. This movie was even billed that it might bomb by Universal and was only alloted $10 million dollars for total production cost because it was a children’s movie. To date it has grossed $435,110,554. Dollar for dollar the most successful film ever created and it didn’t get that way by accident. It was done through brilliant story telling, a great score that moved things along wonderfully (of course this was done by John Williams and that must have been one big favor considering the budget) , a very believable and touching cast of kids that lit up the screen, and the love of Steven Spielberg for this film. It all combined to make cinematic magic. This was the type of film that a sequel would have ruined things for. E.T. simply was… and it was strong enough to stand on it’s own 2 feet without needing to build a whole franchise on it. To make subsequent and irrelevant sequels would have done nothing but to hurt E.T.

Not to say that there weren’t E.T. lunch boxes, Underoos, blankets, sheets, and pillow cases. There were also stuffed dolls, a very poor Atari 2600 game and wall paper. E.T. was everywhere that you looked when it was released and the merchandise was there to let all the kids feel closer to that lovable little alien that graced the screen so clumsily.

When the 20th anniversary edition was issued in 2002 there was a lot of wonder about what Spielberg was to have done to make this movie fresh again for new audiences. He didn’t mess with the story line or do anything flashy. He simply enhanced a few scenes with E.T. digitally to make him a more robust character and this worked really well. For the first time an audience was able to see facial expressions and actions that just couldn’t be obtained naturally with animatronics. E.T.’s interaction with his environment was made all the more believable.

If there ever was truly a movie that needed to be passed on to generations that will love to look at it for the first time then it is this one. It may be difficult to remember how I felt when I saw it as a child but looking through the eyes of my children brings it to a whole new light for me. Even after 25 years they can still enjoy something that was new when their father was a child. It’s this kind of film that can define a generation with it’s cultural reference and staying power is proof of the pertinence that it can bestow for generations to come.

This is a film I don’t own though alas, but I have no problem of sharing the experience with my family by renting it though. If this is the kind of film that your kids will want to watch again and again than I would suggest buying a copy. That’s a no-brainer and I know you have to be scratching your head wondering what crack I must be smoking to even have to suggest how people should purchase their movies. At the very least give your kids the gift of something that they can cherish in their childhood memories one way or the other.

This movie gets 4.5/5 stars

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Eastern Promises (2007)

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From IMDB:

The film follows the mysterious and ruthless Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), who is tied to one of London’s most notorious organized crime families. His carefully maintained existence is jarred when he crosses paths with Anna (Naomi Watts), an innocent midwife trying to right a wrong, who accidentally uncovers potential evidence against the family. Now Nikolai must put into motion a harrowing chain of murder, deceit, and retribution.

In the Russian mafia tattoos tell the story of your life. Without those you don’t exist.

In the opening scene of this move you are introduced to the cold nature that is the theme of the film. Murder and deceit is the name of the game as you find out shortly into the beginning of the movie when a young man is prompted by an old barber to kill a mark that is sitting in his barber chair with a straight razor to the throat. The young man saws away until the mans life has ebbed from his body, while at the same time giving life to this movie in a very gritty opening scene. The execution of such scenes are cold-blooded and calculating through out the film and yet given just the right prose that my wife wasn’t bothered but it because it moves the story along very efficiently and doesn’t make this the only reason ‘Eastern Promises’ exist.

‘Eastern Promises’ shows us that the ties that bind are just as powerful, if not more so, in death as they are in life. A man is excuted in a barber chair (without knowing how to properly to expose of the body) bonds two lifes together in trying to find the right solution to fix this problem. A young mother dies in child birth leaving a nurse to uncover her mystery that lies in a journal (written in Russian) so that she may better understand what has happened. With the idea that she may one day give this journal to the child that is left without a parent. Revealing secrets that shouldn’t be shown to just anybody.

The drama unfolds with an excellence and caring that one can’t help but to watch scene after scene to see how the story is going to reveal itself.

Viggo Mortensen (Nikolai) and Naomi Watts (Anna) team up with a seasoned cast, a very insightful director (David Cronenberg) and screen writer (Steven Knight) to deliver a griping drama film that drew me right into the working of the minds of the low lying Russian Mafia that’s trying to take over London all in the while being deceived themselves. ‘Eastern Promises’ shows that even the most frigid of characters can have a soul.

This movie gets 4/5 stars

D@bbe (2006) – Turkish Horror

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From IMDB:

A very large number of people start to commit suicide using brutal and horrible techniques and without any reasons. Starting from the United States, this suicide wave spreads all over the world. In Turkey, in a small town called Selcuk, a young man kills himself after a long, night he spends on the Internet. Following the incident, his best friends start to get strange e-mails from him. They also start seeing horrible creatures around themselves–this is just the begining of the apocalypse. Turkey’s Amazing answer to KAIRO (PULSE).

Director/writer Hasan Karacadag brings to the screen a low budget film that is put together pretty well under those circumstances. While the acting maybe be subpar for this kind of flick, it’s still nice to see an unknown cast try to make of a movie, of this kind, relevant to it’s native audience. If you have seen Pulse (2006) or Kairo (J-2001) you know what this film is about. It doesn’t deviate from the story much except to give it’s home audience some cultural significance to draw their attention to the story.

The camera work/special effects are nice and the sets give a fresh perspective of what can be done on a limited budget. The score gives an appropriately creepy feel to the movie, drawing you into the notions that something is amiss just around the corner, and the makeup work is very believable. Even with poor acting, these are areas that low budget American films have missed on in the past, ‘The Woods Have Eyes’ (2007) for example. Yes I know that the later movie had to come up with an original story to it and that must have taken some effort on the part of Frank Adonis and Anthony Indelicato, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for poor movie making. You can lose an audiences attention if you don’t have enough of the right elements to make a movie entertaining, and being low budget or new to film shouldn’t be an excuse for those shortcomings. Japanese horror has been working on limited budgets for years and have been able to turn out quality movies that span cultures easily.

Practically everyone in this cast had little to no screen presence before making ‘D@bbe’ and despite that they still pulled off the movie, though the freshman acting styles are evident in this film. I would not have know that this was Hasan Karacadag’s first film if it had not been for the movies IMDB profile. It was fun to watch despite it’s obvious shortcomings and cultural boundaries that are foreign to me. I would be more than pleased to watch another offering from the director in the horror genre if he ever directs another.

This movie gets 3/5 stars

Site Maintenance

The site will be undergoing some maintenance for the next day or so while I try to expand the forums and continue to check for new sites to watch movies from. I have already expanded the total number of sites listed for watching movies from 5 to 13 and today I added a forum which can be found under the “Find a Movie Online” tab. As soon as I feel comfortable I will be removing the link to the forum from it’s own tab and place it somewhere that the link it’s self will be just as easily accessible. For now I am trying to give the forum some visibility to try to get some traffic so I apologize for the inconvenience of linking to it in multiple places. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

Feel free to stop by the forum sometime and say, “Hi” everyone is welcome to join.

Take care and enjoy your movies,

The Monkey Watcher

Hellraiser (1987-2007)

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From Movieweb:

A man finds he is given more than he bargains for when he solves the puzzle of the Lamont Configuration – a doorway to hell. But his ex-lover has found a way of bringing him back, and his niece, Kirsty Lawrence, finds herself bargaining with the Cenobites, angels to some, demons to others, whose greatest pleasure is the greatest pain.

These are the features announced to be on the DVD:

DVD Features:
– Audio Commentary with  Clive Barker and actress Ashley Laurence that is moderated by Peter Atkins
Hellraiser: Resurrection” Featurette
– “Mr. Cotton, I Presume?” Featurette
– Interview with Andrew Robinson
– “Actress from Hell” Interview
– “Under the Skin” Interview with Doug Bradley
– “Hellcomposer” Interview
– Poster and Still galleries
– Complete Screenplays via DVD-Rom

Technical Specs:
– Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer
– Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 Surround

“I have seen the future of horror… his name is Clive Barker” Stephen King 1987

It’s been 20 years since this cinematic classic was brought to the screens and just in time for Halloween comes a 20th anniversary edition which this movie rightly deserves.

I’m not going to go into the details of the movie. For those of you that really want that you can look elsewhere (God knows there are enough places to find that information out).Simply put this has to be one of the best horror films ever made and it has stood the test of time really well. The story is still relevant enough that even with the amount of time that has passed you can only hope to imagine that anyone could come up with characters as sadomasochists as the Cenobites, these guys are pure personified evil.

I would love to see Clive do a true remake of the movie with the advances in makeup that have happened, as long as the story or plot was untouched. Though I must admit that Frank Cotton still couldn’t have been portrayed anymore grotesque than he already was. In this respect the makeup crews were really far ahead of their time, It’s enough that I couldn’t hope to ever have my wife watch it with me purely on the gross factor.

I can’t remember ever saying that I had nightmares from a movie though this one has stuck with me as strongly as John Carpenters ‘The Thing’ and that’s saying a lot. It’s a true classic, and it’s really a shame that I don’t own a copy of it in my collection. Though maybe with the new edition I might just have to change that fact.

I remember that I enjoyed the sequels to this franchise very much also. It was something that you had to see to really be able to keep up with the ‘Cool’ movies when I was a kid growing up. Right up there with watching Friday the 13th. Though the later will never have that big a place in my heart, that whole franchise just never did anything much for me outside of the first 2 and Nightmare on Elm Street suffered much of the same fate. Though not as engaging as the first movie, the ‘Hellraiser’ series still is one of the best that has ever been created if not ‘The Best’ horror franchise that is out there. I know that there are people out there that will knock the sequels and that’s their right but when has there ever been a movie as prolific as this one that has been able to draw your attention as much as the first. The bar was just set so damn high that it was nearly impossible to catch the magic that was apart of the original.

I can only hope that when my son gets old enough that I will still be able to watch this film and enjoy it with him. I guess that’s why I miss watching movies with my mom so much she could handle things like this really well considering ( I don’t think she feels the same today). I know it’s kinda twisted but there’s just something in having the bonding experience over good ole’ horror films. I know for me that there was something that made me feel a little stronger on the inside when I could sit through the horror and the gore and make it through movies that others in my life just couldn’t. Now it leaves me a bit empty because I don’t have any one that I can share these treasures wit. Better luck to the rest of you out there and if you haven’t seen this in a while like I did then have another go and hopefully find a new appreciation for this cinematic piece of art.

This movie gets a 4/5 stars.

The Abandoned (2006)

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From IMDB:

An adopted woman returns to her home country to the family home that she never knew and must face to mystery that lies there.

Credited with an obscure but seasoned international cast, Lions Gate entertainment brings to the screen a mystery of a woman adopted 40 years ago that has to unravel the horrors of her, unknowingly, haunted past.

Marie Jones (Anastasia Hille) makes her way back to her birth country of Russia to figure out the details of her adoptive past. Aided as best as possible by a Russian attorney looking into the case for Marie, she comes to find out that her birth parents are dead and that there is no record of her having siblings. Luckily for her she has been awarded custody of the estate that she has no memory of. An abandoned farm on a small island in the middle of a river secluded from any vestiges of civilization.

With a creepy feel and an engaging story it’s easy to get lost in the workings of the screenplay. Though it starts out a little slow, you are soon treated to interesting characters that haunt Marie and eerie sets that set the tone for this dramatic horror film.

Soon after Marie arrives she is greeted by a ghostly figure that appears everywhere she turns only to be left alone in the end by her guide Anatoliy (Carlos Reig_Plaza). After suffering a fall into the lake we are introduced to Nicolai (Karel Roden) and after some unassuming dialog we find out that he believes that they are fraternal twins with both of their identities showing their birth on the same day. Nicolai, of course being in the same home to straighten out the details his own sorted past. Upon inspection of an old tattered picture of their mother tries to convince Marie that they need to find out what happened to their birth mother. Soon clues begin to unfold for them both. A knife in a room with old blood on the floor, the room with a pair of cribs sharing their names respectively. It looks as though something truly awful may have been kept from both of them.

The story unfolds smoothly and creepy characters are introduced throughout the film to keep the viewers attention. ‘The Abandoned’ keeps the dramatic prose going through a well written script. The cast has to keep their wits or they will succumb to their own paranoia.

In the end what was truly abandoned though? An old farm house in the middle of nowhere or a murderous past that our characters are never supposed to have an idea about.

This movie gets 2.5/5 stars for mass appeal and some incongruities with the story (ending mainly)  and a 4/5 stars because I like creepy movies 😀

The Game Plan (2007)

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From IMDB:

An NFL quarterback living the bachelor lifestyle discovers that he has a 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Joe Kingsman) has teamed up with Disney to bring home a feel good movie about learning to live life even when it throws you curve ball. Following traditional Disney formula of having one parent in peril with the other having to be the sole provider is what has worked for Disney and it’s audiences for years now.

Honestly I haven’t seen a movie that ‘The Rock’ has done that it seems like he is having as much fun with as he appeared in this one. With his young co-star Madison Pettis (playing Peyton Kelly, is enjoying a very bright child acting career) they bring that old magic that the big “D” has been needing for a while. Though nothing too original it’s really nice that they can still bring family magic to the screen when so many other companies fail in that area.

The story goes that Joe is a football sensation that is still looking to get his first championship ring despite his talents and being with a good team for years. Life is good for Joe he has a great pad, host big parties, drives a Mercedes SLR and couldn’t ask for anything more in life. That all seems hallow though as you notice with Joe sitting in his big empty pad after one of his parties all alone. After a day or two more of show boating like he has been use to for so long he receives a call from the doorman that he has a visitor. After hearing that she is cute Joe readily tells the voice on the phone to send her up right a way.

Ding dong. Guess who’s at the door? You got it, this cute little 8 year old girl that’s not selling cookies bringing with her some luggage in more respects than the obvious. Joe is taken back by this. Of course there is no way that he could have a child, it’s just not possible. Lo and behold there Peyton stands waiting for her father with open arms.

The rest goes that this really disrupts Joe’s whole life style and he has to learn how to over come his shortcomings as a surrogate parent for a month while still having to concentrate on a championship season that matters so much for him and Boston. Messes abound, spaces are invaded and a whole new way of living is brought forth right before Joe’s very eyes whether he wants to accept it or not. He has to put away his selfish lifestyle and make the best of the situation that he has no control over. Learning to live with bedazzled footballs, losing his precious SLR in exchange for and SUV and learning that his 3 A.M. parties just don’t fit into his life any more through the school of hard knocks. At one point Joe even has to take up ballet lessons to make up for mistakes that he made between Peyton and her teacher for not picking her up on time. This all makes for a story that has plenty of funny scenes.

The story isn’t anything that we’re unfamiliar with. Especially if your a family that has watched just about every Disney movie that is out like ours has. The movie isn’t great but it’s fun and that’s what really matters in a film like this. You have to ask is it something that the family can enjoy or will it just be something that will just pass time? It’s a movie that has enough feel good spots and makes a genuine attempt at showing ‘The Rock’ as a big teddy bear that brings magic to the screen where other actors may have missed the boat on this one. something has changed in the Disney camp to really feel lie they are turning a corner. Coming off the success of Ratatouille it feels like they may be able to restore some faith in their companies production value that they have been missing for quite some time. Frankly I am glad to see Disney making a series of decent films again. We’ll just have to wait and see what they can pull off with their acquisition of Pixar to get back on top with there CG department to finally get ahead of the game away from Dreamworks. They have really missed the boat on the last couple of films with “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinsons”

Here’s to looking for some more good to come in the future, and thank you Dwayne for finally making a film that I can sit and enjoy with my family also.

This movie gets 3/5 stars for the script and 4/5 for bringing back the good ole’ formula to the screen.