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Rating History

Almost Heroes
Almost Heroes (1998)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Top Three Films of all time.


The Last Temptation of Christ
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The Last Temptation Of Christ

"What's good for man isn't good for God!"

The film of the century for our more religiously inquisitive minds was directed by the same man who gave us "Goodfellas", one of the more powerful depictions of the corruption and downfall for the Italian-American family? What a surprise!
Well, let's be honest first and foremost, since most of our religiously inquisitve minds are anything but, I'm not exactly from the same vein as most atheists claim to be. In fact, if I were, I'd be strongly attempting to create severe stigmata.

"Whosoever trusteth in the Lord, happy is he."

Oh boy, divine intervention can result in love, life, happiness, and crucifiction! Epilepsy and Tourrette Syndrome, as well, if you are one of those ministers that we all know and love so much.
So the possibilities are really endless I guess, for Christians, and the film "The Last Temptation Of Christ" really, really proves it.

Whoever did the casting for this movie, must have been on a serious acid trip. David Bowie plays Pontius Pilate, and that's one of the more LOGICAL acting roles assigned. I have to say, though, that Willem Dafoe couldn't have been a better choice for Jesus Christ, but that's an opinion that a lot of "Boondock Saints" fans will find hard to believe. Harvey Keitel is Judas? Excuse me, but I really, really didn't even see it coming, even after I had already read the credits. By the end, I was sincerely proud of him, but for the first hour or so of the movie, he made me want to shoot my foot. I guess that it's no surprise that "Hershey Kisses" could be something of a metaphor, either, but where the hell was Barbara in, uhhh, the entire stretch from "Boxcar Bertha" to this movie? I guess "Hoosiers" must have really pushed the envelope forward...
So with all of the obligatory E!-style ranting on actors aside, let's return to the things about this film that actually count. Paul Schrader and Martin Scorcese. Oh, good point, maybe the 100's of people that contributed to the Bible kind of matter in some way, too. Not in the way most conservatives would be interested in hearing about though. No, this film was based on NOVEL by an Italian named Nikos Kazantzakis.

My main point that I'd make with any first-time viewer of this film would be; prepare to be overwhelmed. Not only does this stray from the original doctrine, but it seriously agitates our predefined image of Christ. The portrayal of him here, is less than glorious. He first appears as a torchered sinner who's employment depends on the persecution of his fellow Jews. We are often put, throughout the film, into a state of confusion over his relationship to women. To top it all off, we actually don't even get a sense if he even dies at the end.

The most potent scene to me, was his escape to the desert, where he is tempted in many ways by sin. Of course temptation must have been flaunting around with him from the very beginning, where he admits to a rabbii that he is a habitual liar and full of hatred in his heart. Where'd all that wine COME from anyway? Also, important to note are the scenes with John the Baptist, his exile from Nazareth, and his promise to "baptize with fire".
The cinematography, by Michael Ballhaus is unbelievable as usual by him. There are scenes of exquisite beauty, as well as stunning visual testimonies of pain and hardship. The evantual sex scene between Mary and Jesus was done very tastefully, and at times you can find yourself lost in the ancient world despite the low budget cost for the film.

A couple of modern day miracles actually occurred during the making of the movie as well, and were allegedly totally unplanned by the producers. For example, the final scene where the camera shows Jesus on the cross, fades to white. Scorcese himself has adamently told that this sequence happened by mere coincidence, and that the sun was just reflecting at a certain angle to create the effect. Also, interesting to mention, Willem Dafoe was temporarily blind for part of the shooting, for a three day period.

Cynics of the film aside, this was easily one of the most spiritual movies ever made. Unquestionably thought provoking, and at it's peak a startling unstereotypical biography of one of humankind's most revered and idolized characters. A story, that with the duality of sin and love combined to almost complete perfection, has rarely been told with such outstanding results.

"So Lazarus, how do you feel?"

"The Last Temptation Of Christ" (1988)

Vampire Hunter D
7 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[indent]BANPAIA HANTA D (Vampire Hunter D)

Director: Toyoo Ashida, Carl Macek Writer: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yasushi Hirano, Tom Wyner

"You and your kind do not belong among the living. You are nothing but visitors from the past, shadows from the world of darkness."

Japanese animation comes in whirlwinds of both creativity hand-in-hand with quirks, and naive science fiction fares. The characters are often disjointed and one-dimensional, and supposedly comical, yet by American standards, very mundane. Yet the creative side of the art remains to be surpassed even by the 'great' CGI era. Sticking to the old techniques of hand-drawn as opposed to computer-generated, Anime reflects on the human spirit more than anything else, which is surprising in the midst of so many far-fetched scenarios brought forth in the genre. It is fiction, we suppose, as we sit down in our seats with a bucket of popcorn and maybe some Twizzlers or soda, but as we delve into the storyline it can also be aggravating to watch so many grandiose scenes of mayhem meshed in with blatantly stupid and over-the-top characters.

Do people really laugh every time a stupid cat is shaken out of a tree by quasi-martial art ninja on screen? Is it really funny to see some teenage girl get her skirt blown up by a sudden gust of wind? These types of moments plague the stories of many an Anime feature, as well as frustrate the hell out of yours truly. This is why this may be one of the few features worthwhile for any moviegoer. Skip the bullshit, give me action, blades, and bloody slaughter, I say. Color it red and black, put a sticker on it, and I'll buy it and enjoy it as much as I can.

Be forewarned: "Vampire Hunter D" is NOT for the faint of heart. Nudity is prevalent, blood is spilled by the bucket-load, and the gore is beautifully choreographed so as to astonish yet captivate any viewer. Even the first scene is sure to mind-boggle.

The real strength of the Anime is the animation, as previously stated. "Vampire Hunter D" will not disappoint in this aspect. Surely, we won't see much in the dark, but when the finale begins, and the light finally shines along the hills that D has traveled throughout the film, it is no less than inspiring. Left with afterthoughts of how great this film would be if it were all drawn in such vibrant color, we are easily mislead at the end to fantastic wishes. This is a vampire flick, though, and it just doesn't seem right to have such ideas floating around. Beautiful, because of its double-edged art and yet gnawing loss of concentration towards the end, the film is certainly one of the finer moments in animation history. But how great can it be for a whole hour to watch blood get splashed around, even "hand-drawn", and then have the whole thing cascade when we see how really talented the artists were at the end?

Well, it's rewards are well-worth the watch. The snake-women are guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of even the more avid horror-freaks who view the film for the first time. Also, the fact that this is an animation really alleviates the need for real scares, which to be perfectly honest, never quite worked for the vampire sub-genre. Instead, we are given the truest depiction of the vampire subculture, complete with the werewolves, monsters, demons, and terminology that should be in any great vampire cinema.

The main vampire, Count Magnus Lee, is one of the more colorful characters in the film. His subtle impatience mixed with superiorly crafted monologues are a point of reference through the chaos that warps the short-lengthened movie. He was actually named after Count Dracula's most played actor, Christopher Lee, and of course the similarities are in focus throughout the film. Dracula, doesn't got shit on this guy though.

D, the hero/anti-hero of the film is truly one of the more great characters I've ever seen in cinema, ever. The less-is-more approach is conducive to the atmosphere, as well as mentally arousing to allow the punctures of every pair of teeth to seethe and cut through the viewer's own skin.

As over-glorified the Anime genre became in the late 90's, this classic of the mid 80's remains one of the finest pieces of cinema never viewed by the common public. Hats off to the creators and artists that worked on this piece, I wish they had done more.

"I've lived for almost ten thousand years. Believe me you have no idea what that means: boredom. Everlasting and hideous boredom. A never ending search for ways to pass the time..."

VAMPIRE HUNTER D (1985): 10/10

Actors: Kaneto Shiozawa, Michael McConnohie, Barbara Goodson

Art Direction: Toyoo Ashida Music: Tetsuyo Komuro Producer: Shigeo Maruyama, Yutaka Takahashi, Carl Macek, Hiroshi Kato, Mitsuhisa Koeda [/indent]

Heartstopper (2006)
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes


Explicit language
Possible spoilers...

"You have the right to shut the fuck up!"

Directed Bob Keen, best known for working on Dog Soldiers, Event Horizon, & Hellraiser, directs his best in Heartstopper, a supernatural horror slasher starring Robert Englund, Meredith Henderson, James Binkley, & Nathan Stephenson.

Heartstopper was one of the best movies I've seen in a while. But at first glance, it was just a normal slasher rehash of Jason and the Friday the 13th series. Possibly Robert Englund's best movie or career move since the Nightmare On Elm Street series, this movie almost certainly eclipses in that popularly acclaimed title if you even go by the standards of cinematics such as believabillity, cinematography (for the most part excellently handled by David Mitchell), and acting. The plot is similiar, and heavy in it's dutiful commitment to the unoriginality of yet another supernatural serial killer in the already oversaturated market. Let's face it though, there's quite a high bar for Heartstopper to meet. To say that it overqualifies is an understatement.

In this movie, we begin with the obvious necessities in horror, the threat of extreme danger in the form of an inmate who has killed quote; "A gazillion" people. It's fairly obvious by the casting of Robert Englund as the sherrif in charge of his execution, the danger is going to be more extreme than we might be ready for. There is a man who we normally fear in charge now, and we feel safe. Seeing the killer, Chambers, in the electric chair is an early satisfaction that this movie will make up for in short time.

Next, the character development happens so rapidly, we are almost rooting for the villain for a while. But surely as we get to the scene where the killer's power is revealed, we soon understand that his obsession for human hearts is more than a superficiality or gimmick, it's his superpower. But more than that, it's a metaphor for the wrath of the epitomized sin of humanity, exhibited in the killer's own admittance of motivation, as well as his supposed hidden motive of self-disgust.

The camera stays active, although trapped in the halls of an old insane asylum for the duration of the film. But it seems like most of the camera work is done offscreen, where our imaginations are oft lead to go astray in confused assumptive attempts to make sense of what literally seems like at first to be hell on earth.

The characters who seem weak, are the ones left at the end, and by now they are strengthened to their maximum giving the heartfelt acting towards the end an extra charge of imminent importance in the wake of the extra-excessive gore effects used in absense of a substantial need for an exagerated plot. It's simple, it works, and it's scary.

As for that old scare factor, though, less attention is put on it than normal for this type of fare. Most of the times that I jumped out of my seat were actually from just the raising tension when I was suspending myself in midair ready to shout "NO! DON'T GO AROUND THAT CORNER!" Thankfully this was a DVD release, and I wasn't blocking anybody's view behind me in a theater.

Get your budget dollars ready next time you visit the DVD store. Looking for a showstopper? Get Heartstopper. Your gauranteed to miss at least a beat.

"Well, most would call it the stuff of nightmares, I'm afraid."


Severance (2006)
8 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

[b][font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]Severence (2006)[/color][/font][/b]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][b][color=#000000]Directed by: Christopher Smith
Produced by: Steve Christian, Michael Kuhn
Written by: James Moran, Christopher Smith[/color][/b][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][b][color=#000000]Cinematography: Ed Wild
Editing: Stuart Gazzard
Soundtrack: Christian Henson[/color][/b][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][b][color=#000000]Actors: Toby Stephens, Claudie Blakley, Andy Nyman, Babou Ceesay, Tim McInnerney[/color][/b][/font]



[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]Goldilocks and the Three Bears, meet Christopher Smith. Christopher Smith, meet Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick, meet the B-Movie horror genre. B-Movies, let?s introduce you to the new millenium.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]When Saw came out, I wasn?t the least bit surprised that the industry of horror films had struck so low a point as to take the gore/special effects sequences of our favorite classic slasher flicks and throw them together and call them the film?s ?gimmick?. It was definitely American B-Movies that inspired the latest craze in filmmaking to be splurges of blood-drenched scenes, and it is certainly not overlooked by critics such as myself who have actually taken the time to enjoy the cult-cinema of the 60?s, through really the 80?s, when lower budget constraints lead to more buckets of paint rather than a stronger selection of screenwriting. However, while in the ?old days?, when a B-Movie was billed next to an A-Movie and a short, in today?s world, most of the B-Movies that are released are given short runs in select theaters before going directly to video. These are the cherished winners, the shining light on the film schools of America that had done during the 90?s an incredible amount of output of marginally disposable horror films. Scream Trilogy, anyone?[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]Interestingly, the new era of filmmaking is doing a fantastic job mimicking the ways of the older cinema/nickelodeon. The direct-to-video horror genre propelled by horror festivals and the pressures some of these young directors must feel from student loans has lead to quite a surplus of incredibly grotesque underground movies.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]Severance is now the one, though. The film by Christopher Smith borrows heavily on the Saw premise of nonstop surprises and successfully takes it a step further out into the realm of, yes that?s right I?m drawing a parrallel to classics with this thrilling piece of entertainment, Stanley Kubrick. I think Mr. Smith would be proud of that distinction, but he earned it, and if Kubrick was still alive I think he?d get a kick out of this.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]The plot is far from vague, and for this reason we find ourselves literally engrossed in the action throughout the film. By keeping up with the times while putting a hand right on the pressure of changing world political systems, the film plays right onto our daily phobias and paranoias.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]It stars a group of weapons manufacurers from Great Britain. They work for a global conglomerate responsible for supplying guns and ammunition to (of course,) armed forces, national security, as well as terrorists. But as we all know, one of those three bears is sure to bite the hand that feeds it. However, while the group is out on a team-building resort getaway in Romania, the question is simple: ?How well does a group of weapons specialists fare when their weapons are stripped and they are left completely abondoned in the middle of nowhere??[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]It might not sound spooky yet, and believe me, they don?t have much to be scared of in the real world, so don?t expect them to act like the Sorority Girl Massacre girls that we?re so used to in even big-budget horrorfilms of today. They seem, especially at first, fairly impervious to fright or even the creepiness of the vacant, run down, low-ceiling and bug-infested house they land themselves in. As an audience, though, we can tell the trouble is brewing just by the dramatic and excellent soundtrack. The guy in the woods with the briefcase may be a big hint as well, but as that the movie plays it safe with the supplemental humor shots, we are constantly brought further into the movie?s suspenseful clamber until by the end we are gasping for breath.[/color][/font]

[font=Arial','sans-serif][color=#000000]The horror movie genre is still running strong, but a sidestep from the normal zombie-fare is currently especially juicy, so grab a bag of popcorn and dim the lights, but don?t pop the mushroom bag open like poor Steve. No, we don?t want you to actually survive this movie. And we won?t pay your severance.[/color][/font]