Tag Archives: Ridley Scott

My Movie Alphabet – Blogathon

Click on title to be taken to “My Movie Alphabet” Blogathon central.

“A”

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A defining film of both the science fiction and horror film.  Ridley Scott’s first sci-fi film established him as a visual force in filmmaking.  The film’s art direction and set design hold-up to this day.  When the Alien is finally revealed it is worth the wait.  The edge-of-your seat chaos of the siren & strobe self destruct sequence is matched with the equally tense quiet terror of the escape pod shuttle scene.

“B”

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Is there any more dreaded question from a child to a parent regarding a film than, “Mommy, what happened to Bambi’s Mother?”

“C”

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The brightest film-noir you will ever watch.  “My daughter, my sister, my daughter, my sister”.

“D”

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Quite possibly one of the best foreign films ever made.  There is no glory in this war or this crew.  You feel the claustrophobia of serving on a submarine and knowing that if your hull is breached you are dead.

“E”

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Because of how old I was when I first watched “E.T.”, no other film has given me such an emotional connection.

“F”

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When A Fish Called Wanda first came out I was fully discovering British humor.  Through my local PBS channel I fell in love with Benny HillFaulty Towers, and Are You Being Served?  At the local video store I discovered the Monty Python films.  And then Wanda came to a theatre near you.

“G”

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“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

Though Goodfellas and later The Sopranos present a more realistic and less glamorous life of the mafia, The Godfather is the reason why we all at some point wondered what it would be like if we were a gangster.

“H”

Click on image to watch video clip tribute

Humphrey Bogart – Arguably one of the most underrated actors of all time and the first anti-hero.  If you look at four of his most famous roles–Rick (Casablanca), Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Charlie Allnut (The African Queen), and Queeg (The Caine Mutiny)–you will see each is unique and powerful and not stereotypical and one-note.  His enduring appeal is because he played the flawed and/or reluctant hero.  His characters grew as people and you felt for their story.

“I”

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“They call me Mr. Tibbs!”  Sidney Poiter and Rod Steiger at their best.  A film like this if it were made today would have come out five years after it was relevant.  In the Heat of the Night came out in the middle of the Civil Rights movement as the country was still tearing itself apart before Martin Luther King’s assassination.

“J”

Click on image to view 1973 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

John Ford – When asked what directors he favored, Orson Wells replied, “the old masters, by which I mean John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.”  To know why Wells said this watch The Grapes of WrathCheyenne AutumnHow Green Was My ValleyThe Quiet ManThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and most especially The Searchers.

“K”

Click on image to view “Khannnnn!” scene.

Khan – You ever wonder why Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan is still arguably the best Star Trek movie?  A very real enemy with very real motivation with an incredible performance by Ricardo Montalban.  Add a good story with great direction and the best performances given by all the regular players, and you have a film that has stood the test of time.

“L”

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Leach, Archibald – Archibald Leach mastered one role to perfection:  Cary Grant.  Probably no other classic Hollywood Star has worked with more famed directors and in more quality films than Cary Grant.  And no star ever walked away from the film business like he did, thereby leaving us a never-changing image of who he was.  Later in life when he forgot his ticket to a charity fundraiser, he explained his situation and said he was Cary Grant.  To wit, she replied “That’s impossible.  You don’t look like Cary Grant.”  Smiling he responded, “who does?” (Source of story is The Encyclopedia of Hollywood by Scott & Barbara Siegel)

“M”

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The best Harrison Ford film you have never watched with his best performance ever.

“N”

Click on image to view original 1922 trailer

Watch Nosferatu today and you will still be impressed with its story, effects, and principal performance.  If you had watched in 1922, then you would not have slept for days.

“O”

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The single greatest icon shattering moment in cinema history, in one of the best Westerns ever made, with one of the most evocative scores used in film.

“P”

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“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” – Inigo Montoya;”As you wish.” – Wesley; “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya; “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia”‘- but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line’!” – Vizzini; “Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.” – Prince Humperdinck

“Q”

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“Now listen 007”

“R”

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My favorite Hitchcock film.  (with possibly the worst trailer I have ever watched)

“S”

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Love them or hate them, superhero movies are here to stay.

“T”

I spent many a Saturday afternoon watching old Tarzan films, but I’m sure those Saturday TV versions never aired the scene I linked to the image above.

“U”

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“You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?” – That’s why Sean Connery resurrected his career and won an Academy Award.

“V”

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I don’t think anyone does court dramas better than Sidney Lumet.  The Verdict is Exhibit-B for my case.

“W”

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After the teaser trailer, my expectation for this film went through the roof, and Pixar delivered.  It is still my favorite Pixar film.

“X”

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The Gold Rush was Charlie Chaplin’s tenth feature as The Tramp and includes the famous dancing shoes with forks scene where he later eats the shoes.  It’s amazing that after playing The Tramp for so long, that Chaplin was still able to create a classic film and not allow the character to go stale.

“Y”

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One name:  Frau Blucher…(horses whining)

“Z”

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Zardoz gave us James Bond in a loin clothe, and Sean Connery wondering where he went wrong in his career.

Thank you to Myfilmviews for introducing me to this Blogathon


“Prometheus” (2012) – Movie Review

Director:  Ridley Scott

Writers:  Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Stars:  Michael Fassbender, Noomi Repace, Logan Marshall-Green, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Guy Pearce

In the beginning, “The Engineers” created man, and throughout our history they have visited us and left clues to their whereabouts.  Know now it is the year 2093; the Prometheus is a scientific research ship on a mission to LV-223.  While the ship is traveling through deep space, an android named David (Michael Fassbender) is maintaining ship systems, learning how to interpret many forms of written & spoken languages, and eerily watching the dreams of the crew during their cryosleep.  The mundane routine of the ship is ended once it is in proximity to LV-223, and the crew is awakened.

During the mission briefing, the holographic projection of Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) introduces Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Repace) & Dr. Charlie Halloway (Logan Marshall-Green) and the purpose of their journey:  to find those beings that created mankind.  Both the purpose of the mission and the evidence presented by the doctors are met with varying degrees of skepticism by the crew, but most especially by Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron)–the company representative.  The skeptics to the search for alien life and/or civilizations are quickly silenced when structures are discovered on the planet surface.

Later in the domed structure the exploration team discovers passages, hieroglyphs, holographic recordings of “The Engineers”, and finally a long dead corpse of those same “Engineers”.  But their presence does not go unnoticed.  A long dead facility starts back to life, and things that have been dormant have now been awaken.  What follows is a tale of learning, greed, hubris, betrayal, horror, and wanting to touch the face of god.

The story of Prometheus aims high, but falls short.  There simply is not enough time in a feature film to take us in as many directions as the filmmakers want.  The scope of the story would have worked better as a television series.  The story leapt too quickly from plot point to plot point, leaving no chance for any character development.  If the story had focused solely on the Dr. Shaw storyline and completely excised the Vickers sub-plot, we would have been able to connect with the Shaw and Halloway characters better.  Also, if the goal of the story was to create a film in the Alien Universe but not necessarily a prequel to Alien, why spend so much time with the ancestor of the xenomorph?  All that time distracted from the high aspirations put forward by the purpose of the Prometheus’ mission.  Why not make this movie more about “The Engineers”?

Another flaw of the film is smart characters doing dumb things in fields they are purportedly an expert at.  If you are geologist/surveyor and the film establishes that you are leading the team through an ancient alien structure, then how do you get lost in that structure after you leave the team because you are too scared to follow–the same team that somehow manages to leave the structure in a full panic to avoid an oncoming storm without so much as making a wrong turn.  If you are a biologist brought on the trip to investigate new life forms, then why do you a) run away with the geologist/surveyor when the team discovers a dead alien body that poses no threat and b) attempt to communicate & pet–like a dog–a snake-like creature that flares its hood like a cobra in a menacing fashion.

Where the film does succeed is with Michael Fassbender’s performance as David.  Though David is a soulless android doing what he is programmed and ordered to do, there is something more.  Like his cinematic predecessor Roy Batty in Blade Runner, David kills his creator.  In quite possibly the most passive aggressive murder in movie history, David precisely carries out his instructions knowing full well his creator will not find the answers he is looking for and will be killed in the process; thereby setting David free.  And though Fassbender is completely emotionless, you know that is his goal and his need.

This being a Ridley Scott film, the visuals and art direction are superb.  To this day, there is still no better director that can bring an entire world to life as completely and believable as he.

Initially I was going to rate this film lower.  But there is something about the story that is nagging me–in a good way.  The film is still in my head.  I have a sneaky suspicion I will like it more on later viewings.

Grade = B-


7 Best Harrison Ford Movies

Why seven movies?  Because Harrison Ford has had more than five great films, but not quite ten–notice I wrote great, not good; he has had many good films.  My only criteria for this list was that a character could only appear once.

#7:  The Empire Strikes Back

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What?  Han Solo and The Empire Strikes Back are 7th!  You’re full of s%@t!  No, I’m not full of it.  No Harrison Ford list would be complete without Han Solo, but in the end this is not a Harrison Ford movie; it’s an ensemble.  As for the movie itself, this film is the only reason why we still talk about the Star Wars franchise today and why a whole cottage industry of books, comics, and fan art exists.

#6:  The Fugitive

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This is the last non-dour Harrison Ford movie.  With the exception of Air Force One, he appears to be annoyed and constipated in all his later films–again, for the most part they are good but aren’t as engaging as what came before.  As for The Fugitive, the film is tight and straightforward.  A lot of current day filmmakers could learn a well needed lesson about editing and pacing from this film; kudos to the director (Jeb Stuart).

#5:  Hanover Street

Click on image to view Spanish trailer

Yes, it’s a Spanish trailer, but it is the only one I could find.  Anyway, I wish to thank Dr. Paul N. Lazarus, III, for introducing me to this film.  He was a professor of mine when I was briefly a film major at UM and also the producer.  Hanover Street is a good movie with a really good Harrison Ford performance.  It’s a story of a love triangle set during WWII.  The story goes a little off track in the third act, but it’s still a good movie to watch with your better half.

#4:  Blade Runner

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Question: which of the many cuts of Blade Runner do you look for to watch?  Answer: whichever one that does not have the narration and comes with the making-of featurette.  Blade Runner is one of the most visually influential films of the last thirty years, and both Harrison Ford & Rutger Hauer give great performances that hold the film together.

#3:  Witness

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A damn good movie with another great performance–not only for Ford, but the whole cast as well.  Peter Weir is another director that makes a lot of films that I like.  The story is engaging, and the acting is natural & effortless.  The improvised dance scene between Ford and Kelly McGillis is one of the small highlights.

#2:  Frantic

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I’m not a fan of Roman Polanski, and I think he is overrated.  But this is by far his best film, probably because it’s paced like an Alfred Hitchcock film.  If anyone ever asks you what a suspense film is, you can give them this as a perfect example.  As the story moves forward, you are brought more and more into it; you become more involved with Dr. Richard Walker (Harrison Ford), his plight, and his urgency.

#1:  Raiders of the Lost Ark

Whoops! Grabbed that from the "Fantasy" Folder

Sorry, here is the right poster.

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Was there any doubt?  What’s not to love about this film?  Spielberg at his best, Ford at his best, everyone at their best.  The perfect example of an Action/Adventure film.  Raiders of the Lost Ark was rightly nominated for Best Picture and wrongly lost to Chariots of Fire.  Reds, On Golden Pond, and Atlantic City were also nominated for Best Picture that year.  Which of these films do you remember?  Have watched more than once?  Actually care about?  I never heard of Atlantic City until I looked up the nominated films for 1981.

I’m glad I shared this list with you, but creating it left me a little bittersweet.  Sweet in that I was able to share my thoughts — bitter in the realization that Harrison Ford’s best days are behind him.  His heyday really was the 80s.  But the 80s were fun!

What are your thoughts?


5 Best Alien Movies

When I make a list, I like to have a criteria.  So what was the criteria for my five best alien movies?  First, it’s alien–singular, not plural.  Second, it could not be an alien invasion film.  Third, no more than one movie from a franchise.  And fourth, I could have one exception for each rule.

#5:  The Man Who Fell to Earth

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Truly a bizarre film with an equally bizarre trailer.  David Bowie was at his androgynous height and more disturbing was his full frontal exposure as a Ken doll.

#4:  *batteries not included

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A sweet harmless movie for the whole family.  It is also very similar to Poltergeist in that even though Steven Spielberg only produced the film and did not direct it, his finger prints are all over it.

#3:  Enemy Mine

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A great film that should have done better at the box office.  Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. gave excellent and emotional performances.  The movie has dated well due to a good story and direction from Wolfgang Peterson (who’s done an amazing number of films that I really like).

#2:  E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial

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If not for the re-release in 2002, E.T. would have been #1 on this list and my favorite film of all time.  What happened?  I’m not nine anymore.  I’ve watched E.T. only twice, once in 1982 and again in 2002–both times on the big screen.  Though I have owned many Betas, VHSs, and now DVDs, and I have watched many movies many times, I fought for the longest time not to watch E.T. again.  Part of me knew the pleasure I had, the awe I felt, and the emotion I experienced was due to the fact I was a nine-year old watching this film.  When I decided to see the remastered and enhanced film on its 20th Anniversary re-release, I knew that I was not going to have that same experience.  The movie is still great; it’s just not the best anymore.  And I’m not nine anymore.

#1:  Alien

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Everything about this film is great:  story, directing, acting, editing, effects, poster, trailer–you name it; it’s great!  Not only the Best Alien Movie but also Best Horror Film.  Though I have watched this film many times, it still scares me, the last five minutes have me on the edge of my seat and agitated, the alien does not disappoint, and the film does not feel dated at all.  This is probably one of the most perfect films ever made.

Those are my top five.  What are yours?