Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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The mind is a scary place. Worse then monsters, nightmares or killers that the real world can hold. There are places in which the mind will go into when dealing with the pain that we inflict on not only ourselves but to others. This journey to that other world has always been a hit and miss in the movies, rarely finding that correct balance to allow the viewer to see through their eyes. As someone who has had my fair share of rides into that broken landscape, this is one of those rare movies that it gets a lot of things right. Because that ride is troubled and not easy, it leads to a movie that is not easy to feel or understand. So what is this movie all about? Well we have a mental hospital for the army which gets a new leader Vincent Kane, played by Stacy Keach. Kane quickly takes to one of the patients named Billy Cutshaw, Scott Wilson, who had a breakdown before he was supposed to go into space. Soon in a not so shocking moment that Kane is really crazy and is there to be hopefully healed after he runs away in his mind from his actions in war. Doesn’t this all sound like the perfect movie for a Friday night? After an event in which Kane saves Cutshaw’s life at a bar, in which he also spills blood, Kane tries to save not only Billy’s mind but hopefully restore his faith in man. These are all very deep themes that lead to many questions on the idea of God and what it means to be alive. Like I said, I have been crazy a few times in my life, having dealt with a mental breakdown of my own and so the idea that Kane ran to put distance in his soul for what he did, is one that I can relate with. While I never killed anyone or hurt anyone physically, the emotional trouble that I unleashed unto some around me is just as wrong. At some point you see what you have become and you hope to be a different better person. Kane wanted to be better but of course it’s never that easy. Some never find it and others never try. This movie was not very successful when it was first released in 1980, many of the theme religious theme can be also found in director William Peter Blatty’s more known work The Exorcist, which he wrote the book screenplay for. The cast is great and so is the pace of the story. But that story is heavy and it can be a turn off for so many. So should you see this movie? Yes. It should be a must for anyone who likes movies that make you think and asks questions without easy questions.
I really like musicals but sometimes musicals have a tendency to take the edge off some of the darkest works. It is that rare work that keeps it’s teeth when music is added to the story. I had seen the 1986 remake and found it to be too silly and teeth less as the years went on. Somehow I had never watched the original which after seeing it found that not only was it better then the remake, I also found the tale to be darker even if it is still wrapped up in the cloth of comedy. So the story is pretty much the same from the remake, And if you think that I shouldn’t point that out then you haven’t watched enough movies were the original was different from the remake. We have a plant that needs to eat blood and is never full enough. It’s all a bit on the dark side of things which is allowed to shine without the music. Now that’s not to say that the remake was terrible even if I did not like it. It is just that the satire and horror of the movie loses a punch when people are singing. Now I watched the original black and white movie and yes it is rough, I mean it was mostly shot over two days by Roger Corman. That pacing that has the story moving along quickly is something you can feel. It’s a comedy but it also has a realistic feel because all Seymour really wants to do is prove himself, much like you and me. Of course he does go far to try to get the favor of not like his boss but also of the girl he loves. That raw feel of shooting the movie fast leads to a look that feels cheap but also laughs come from the knowledge that things are jumping the rails at every turn. This version of the story is not for everyone. Kids unfortunately will balk at the lack of color, and yes i know there is a colored version but that’s just rubbish. Some people might find it void of laughs or might think that Jack Nicholson is too over the top in just the few moments that he is the screen, and he is. But for me I really enjoyed it. So should you watch this? It’s classic cinema so yes you should. It might not have the budget or even monster that the remake had but not everything is made better with more money.
Ah the werewolf, there are times when this sometimes forgotten beast gets pushed into the movie spotlight. Normally when this happens it’s as the villain in some horror movie where our monster is misunderstood or straight out a killer with no reason for why it has the desire to chew on human flesh. 1981 was an interesting year as we got 3 tales in one year. The first time are well remembered and sit nicely in the horror genre, An American Werewolf in London and Howlin. Both movies are more or less the same thing, someone gets bitten and next thing you know they are up howling at the moon. But like I said there was 3 that year and the third one for my money is the best of the three because it’s less horror and more a tale of culture and beliefs. So Wolfen is not a horror movie. Yes I said it. Now that does not mean that it does not have its great moments of blood and gore, because it does especially towards the end. But when you go back and see how everything goes down you realize that the point of the movie is about a more interesting element then simply getting bitten by a werewolf and turning into one. It’s about the idea that tales of shape shifting amount Native Americans is real. But lets go back at the start shall we before we get so deep into the myth of things that luck in the shadows. At the start we have a murder of a wealthy couple which of course gets the police looking for answers everywhere. In comes our hero Albert Finney, who plays Dewey Wilson, a cop who after some personal struggles has just rejoined the force. Pretty soon Wilson is going down a path that the murder and more that come along are not drug or crime related. No the answer is about land and does Wilson believe in things that are just legends. This movie has a great cast going for It besides Finney, it has Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, Tom Noonan, Dick O’Neill, James Tolkan and Diane Venora. The POV shots of the werewolves was groundbreaking and used by many later movies. It builds on its supernatural theme is layers without it seeming to be just some cheap idea. The idea of a belief that is older then we know in which people can transform seems somehow more real then the idea that bitting turns you into one because its missing that deeper richer legend behind it. So why isn’t Wolfen better remembered? I think maybe the themes and the fact that its not an all out horror movies, in which we see heavy make up to transform people into animals, plays into why it’s a classic like the other two. People want to see gore and this movie isn’t about gore or monsters. So should you see this movie? Yes all horror fans should watch this movie. I would even say that non horror fans should find it. It’s no family movie but it can lead to a great discussion about what we believe in.
I have said it before and I will say it again, movies from our childhoods are not great just because we enjoyed them as kids. Too often we did not know any better and too some having that illusion is a better place to be then to face the truth. The simple truth is that movies like The Dark Crystal really do stink. I know your going to say, but I watched it so much as a dumb kid of course it’s good. Well seven year old you was wrong and so is 45 year old you wrong still. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t things to enjoy because there is but when you start to add things together, all you end up with is a mess. So what is this mess all about? Well here is where the first trouble starts. The story is about a crystal that is spilt in two and from that two different groups are made, one good and one bad. The movie about a journey to try to heal the crystal so that everything will be in harmony. It sounds like it would be an adventure and it is but it is so slow that after a while you start to forget what the point of it is. The next issue has to do with the fact that this is a puppet movie. Now I do not have a problem with the puppets but it just seemed like more time was spent on the look of the muppets and very little time on making anyone act or have a personality that you want to root for. There are fates on the line but everyone comes across so wooden that I didn’t care at all. Those two things killed so much of the overall movie for me because its a shame because what my eyes saw was absolutely amazing. Like I said, it seems like a lot of time was spent on the look of everything. The characters and world that they live in was beautiful. So many great details and it was shot with great style. Sometimes this is enough to over come short falls in a story but there is just too much a gap between the good and the bad to make me want to ever see this movie again. So should you see this movie? I think its good for maybe younger kids and its a good introduction into fantasy movies and world but for most it should be a pass.
So I am going to be up front here about how I felt before I even started to watch this Charlton Heston yarn. My eyes had started to roll before it even started. I would not stay I’m over religious at all, I have more hope for an afterlife then I do belief in one, but this is one of the great in all cinema and I felt that I needed to give it a chance. And I did. Want to know something? My eyes ended up rolling back to where they belong and while I did not love it, I would say that I liked it enough that I would watch it again. Giving a movie speak for itself is important, never should you knock something down until you have witnessed it with your own eyeballs. So I do not need to go into very much detail here on what the story is. It is one that most of us have heard of in one form or another, be it by reading it in the Bible or by seeing a disney movie. Maybe this is where my indifference had started but it did get stuck in my mind, its going to be an almost four hour bible lecture. But the basic story is Heston is a Jewish baby that is found by the sister of the pharaoh and raised as one of their own. Yul Brynner finds out the truth and pretty soon Heston is leading his people to find a home of their own. What I enjoyed the most is that even at 220 minutes the story never really dragged. There was enough drama to keep the pieces moving. Now that does not mean that you do not feel it, because you do but unlike a lot of other epics of it’s time, I’m looking at you Ben-Hur, I was never bored. Sure I knew how the story would go but that doesn’t mean that you can not enjoy the movie. Stand outs include Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson and Cedric Hardwicke. Even the effects of the Red Sea opening was nicely done, even for 1956. Was there stuff that I didn’t like that kept me from going from like to love? Yes and it is our old friend Heston. The man could never act and no amount of argument can change my mind. Your lead is what we see the most and that walking ham just over did it every time he was on the screen. However unlike in Ben-hur, he didn’t so over do it that I was taken out of the movie. So should you watch this movie? Yes, it is a classic that should be seen. The blu ray that I happen to watch was amazing and looked great. This is a movie that I would love to see on the big screen some day.