Archive for July, 2010


MY TOP HORROR FILMS

As a disclaimer: I’m not into the average blood and gore horror flick, so this list won’t satisfy the hardcore horror junkie. However, there are movies that definitely fit under the category of “horror” as they are some of the most chilling and disturbing films out there.

Here is my top pick:

1. 28 Days Later (2002)

2. Se7en (1995)

3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

4. Let The Right One In (2009)

5. Event Horizon (1997)

6. The Fly (1986)

7. Scream (1996)

8. Misery (1990)

9. The Hitcher (1986)

10. Sixth Sense (1999)

11, An American Werewolf in London (1981)

12. Alien (1979)

13. the Shining (1980)

14. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

15. The Exorcist (1973)

16. Psycho (1960)

17. The Wickerman (1973)

18. Arachnophobia (1990)

19. The Frighteners (1996)

20. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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MY TOP ROMANTIC FILMS

Yeah i know, i’m a dude. So what? Maybe i’m missing a bunch of mushy “chick flicks” that I never saw but there are still plenty of romantic movies out there that had real depth and heart to them. I aint ashamed in the slightest to say that I thoroughly enjoyed them.  Here are the ones that made my top list:

1. Jerry Maguire (1996)

2. The Graduate (1967)

3. Romeo + Juliet (1996)

4. Grease (1978)

5. Love Actually (2003)

6. Pretty Women (1990)

7. The Princess Bride (1987)

8. The Wedding Singer (1998)

9. Four Weddings & a Funeral (1994)

10. Ghost (1990)

11. Dirty Dancing (1987)

12. Say Anything (1988)

13. Crocodile Dundee (1986)

14. As Good as it Gets (1997)

15. My Best Friends Wedding (1997)

16. The Notebook (2006)

1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (1975)

2. Tropic Thunder (2008)

3. Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgendy (2004)

4. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

5. Austin Powers: International man of mystery (1997)

6. Shrek/Shrek 2 (2001, 2004)

7. There’s Something About Mary (1998)

8. Observe & Report (2009)

9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

10. Spaceballs (1987)

11.  Superbad (2007)

12. Wedding Crashers (2005)

13. A fish called Wanda (1988)

14. The Jerk (1979)

15. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

16. The Hangover (2009)

17. Waynes World (1992)

18. Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure (1989)

19. Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back  (2001)

20. Southpark: the movie (1999)

21. Zoolander (2001)

22. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

23. Walk Hard (2007)

24. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

25. Ferris Bueller’s Day off (1986)

26. This is Spinal Tap (1984)

27. Borat (2006)

28. Dumb & Dumber (1994)

29. American Pie (1999)

30. Office Space (1999)

1. The Matrix (1999)

2. The Lord of The Rings Trilogy (2001-2004) *

3. Bladerunner (1982)

4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

5. Inception (2010)

6. Back To the Future (1985)

7. Star Wars: The original trilogy (1977-1983) *

8. The Abyss (1989)

9. Independence Day (1996)

10. Donnie Darko (2001)

11. 12 Monkeys (1995)

12. Aliens (1986)

13. Iron Man (2008)

14. Star Trek (2009)

15. Spiderman 2 (2004)

16. Watchmen (2009)

17. Avatar (2009)

18. War of the Worlds (2005)

19. The Incredibles (2003)

20. Strange Days (1996)

21. Gattaca (1997)

22. Cocoon (1985)

23. Close Encounters of a third kind (1977)

24. ET (1982)

25. X-men 2 (2002)

26. Sunshine (2008)

27. Wall-E (2008)

28. Jurassic Park (1993)

29. Stardust (2008)

30.  Contact (1997)

* Okay, so if I really have to pick only ONE Star Wars film and Lord of The Rings film then it would be “Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the King”–but they are all classics to me.

Okay, so I kinda cheated on this one, but it was the only way I could actually complete this list!  Below is just raw unadulterated action and adventure–all within the realms of reality. I have done another category titled “Science Fiction/Fantasy” and that list  includes other  films that will definitely be considered as “action” also.

Phew! Okay, here goes nothing:

1. Die Hard (1988)

2. Bad Boys (1995)

3. Kick-Ass (2010)

4. The Dark Knight (2008)

5. Point Break (1991)

6. Top Gun (1986)

7. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

8. Face/Off (1997)

9. Braveheart  (1995)

10. Gladiator (2000)

11. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

12. The Karate Kid (1984)

13. The Goonies (1984)

14. Speed (1994)

15. 300 (2007)

16. Lethal Weapon (1987)

17. Tombstone (1993)

18. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

19. Leon (1994)

20. Desperado (1995)

21. Enter the Dragon (1973)

22. Wanted (2008)

23. Heat (1995)

24. Mission Impossible: 2 (2001)

25. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Seriously, when you actually sit down to make a list like this, you start to realize how many amazing movies there are out there. You feel guilty that you’re gonna miss something out! Well, I think i’ve done my best on this one. Feel free to shout out any obvious misses on my part.  Here is my list of best dramas:

1. Shawshank Redemption (1994)

2. Dead Poets Society (1989)

3. The Truman Show (1998)

4. Good Will Hunting (1997)

5. Into The Wild (2008)

6. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest (1975)

7. Magnolia (1999)

8. Rain Man (1988)

9. The Breakfast Club (1984)

10. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind (2004)

11. Dead Man Walking (1995)

12. American History X (1998)

13. Trainspotting (1996)

14. Mystic River (2003)

15. Philadelphia (1993)

16. Forrest Gump (1994)

17. Chasing Amy (1997)

18. Scent of a Women (1992)

19. Half Nelson (2007)

20. Big Fish (2003)

MY TOP WAR FILMS

Putting together a “best of” list is always a tough job because there are just so many damn movies out there. The best way I have figured out how to present my top picks is by putting it into categories for you. Feel free to add and comment on any horrific omissions on my part.

Below is my top pick for war films:

1. PLATOON. (1986)

The most realistic and haunting take on the Vietnam war you will ever see. This is Oliver Stones masterpiece shown through the eyes of a new recruit (Charlie Sheen). Also features brilliant performances by William Dafoe and Tom Berenger. To me this remains the classic for all war movies.

War time: Vietnam

2. BLACK HAWK DOWN. (2001)


Ridley Scotts film about the USAs involvement with the war in Somalia not only features great performances from Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan Mcgregor and Tom Hardy, it is also one of the most viscerally shot films about war that you will see.  This film will keep you on the edge of your seat for its entire running time.

War Time: Somalia

3. SCHINDLER’S LIST. (1993)


Hands down the most disturbing and powerful war movie I have ever seen. Steven Spielberg’s oscar winning masterpiece about the holocaust is a long and tough film to watch, yet remains an electrifying experience. It also features stellar performances from Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley.

War time: World War II

4. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. (1999)


Another classic from the genius that is Steven Spielberg. A great war movie with the unforgettable opening sequence of the storming of the beach of Normandy and a great ensemble cast including Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Vin Diesal, Barry Pepper and Giovanni Ribisi.

War time: World War II

5. FULL METAL JACKET. (1987)


An instant classic from Stanley Kubrick. The film gives a gut wrenching image of boot camp training and a horrifying portrayal or war in Vietnam. A great performance from Matthew Modine, but it is Vincent D ‘Onofrio as a very disturbed private that will haunt your dreams.

War time: Vietnam

6. THE THIN RED LINE. (1998)


Directed by Terrence Malick, this is a war film unlike any other you have seen before. A brilliant performance by Jim Caviezal and a beautifully shot picture. It also features an impressive ensemble including Sean Penn, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, George Clooney, Nick Nolte, John Travolta, Ben Chaplin and Elias Kotias.

War time: World War II

7. PATTON (1970)


George C Scotts oscar winning performance for his portrayal of General Patton remains a classic to this day. This is a film about world war II and one of americas most famous generals, who LIVED for the war and died the moment that it ended.

War time: World War II

8. THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)


A brilliant war movie which mainly revolves around POWs attempting to escape from their captives and includes the classic Steve Mcqueen bike escape attempt. Pure cinema entertainment.

War time: World War II

9. THE DEER HUNTER (1979)


This film builds slowly, yet still remains one of the most haunting films about the horrors of the vietnam war and how it effects the lives of those involved in it.  The roulette sequence is a chilling and classic piece of cinema. Terrific performances from Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

War time: Vietnam

10. BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY (1988)


Another classic war movie from director Oliver Stone. Featuring an oscar nominated performance from Tom Cruise, this film focuses on the aftermath of the vietnam war and how it effects the veterans of war. A very powerful movie.

War time: Vietnam

Review: Community

TV-PG. NBC. Season 1, 25 Episodes. Created by Dan Harmon. Cast: Chevy Chase, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong.

Now, I had heard there was a new show on TV called “Community” but honestly the only thing that sparked any interest at first was that Chevy Chase was in it,  (the rest of the cast are mostly new-comers). When I finally got round to watching it, I was completely hooked by the first episode. Yes, Chevy Chase is great in it, but I have found this show to be one of the smartest and funniest comedies on television that I have ever seen. And it’s just gotten started.

Community is centered around the lives of 7 students who attend Greendale Community College in Colorado. The main character is Jeff Winger (a dry and witty Joel McHale) who is a suspended lawyer forced back into school after his college degree is deemed invalid by the State Bar.

The show focuses on his experiences at the College and the people that he meets there. Jeff has an obvious crush on Britta Perry (the lovely Gillian Jacobs) a female student trying to get her life back on track and in an attempt to impress her he forms a Spanish Study group. His plan backfires and a number of other oddball characters end up joining the Group in addition to Britta and he becomes their reluctant leader.

Other members of the study group are: Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) an aged moist-towel tycoon who is constantly trying to give Jeff perplexing life lessons, Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi who is a comic revelation), a pop culture junkie who is attending college to study film, Shirley Bennet (Yvette Nicole Brown), a recently divorced mother who is attending college for the 1st time, Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), a former high school quarterback and Annie Edison (an adorable Alison Brie) a straight-laced nerd.

Other recurring characters in the show are Senor Ben Chang (a hilarious Ken Jeong), who plays their Spanish Teacher,  Psychology Professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver), who is an old friend of Jeff’s and Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), the oddball and bi-curious Dean of the College.

what makes this show such a winner is the richness of the characters and the sheer brilliance of its comedy. This is not slapstick humor. Religious and political topics are brought up throughout the show. The comedy is very real, but that just makes it even more funny. In fact, the creator Dan Harmon wrote the script based on his own experiences in Community college, involving a girl he liked and the group of misfits he was in a study group with. The reality is what really does shine through in the show.

There are continuous parodies on pop culture classics throughout the show, which would make a fanatic like me swoon. An entire episode themed off the gangster movie “Good Fellas”, which even uses the same music score! Breakfast Club, Batman, good cop/bad cop films and Good Will Hunting are all parodied to hilarious results.

Danny Pudi is the stand out actor here and his character is by the far the most original. He plays Abed with such wry humor and wit, it truly is pure comic genius. The out-takes that Abed and Troy do together at the end of each episode of the show is another highlight.

There is one entire episode that parodies Modern Warfare with a paint ball game that goes horribly wrong. I have watched this single episode 5 times over and it is an instant classic.

The sexual tension between Jeff and Britta does get a little redundant throughout the show, but you care enough about the characters that you still want to know if they will end up together.

Community is a show that DOES take itself seriously; but does it with such panache that you cannot but love it.  I would recommend to anyone who has not seen it yet, to catch up on Season 1 right now before Season 2 begins. 5/5 stars.

TV-MA. FX. Premiered July 21 2004–present, 75 episodes. Season 1-5 available on DVD. Season 6 premiered June 29 2010.

Created by Denis Leary and Peter Tolan. Cast: Denis Leary, Adam Ferrara, Mike Lombardi, James McCaffrey, Jack Mcgee, Tatum O Neal, Steven Pasquale, Andrea Roth, John Scurti, Daniel Sunjata, Larenz Tate, Callie Thorne.

Rescue Me is quite simply put, one of the best shows on television. It is riveting entertainment; both powerfully moving drama and a hysterically funny comedy.

The series focuses on the professional and personal lives of a group of New York Firefighters in the fictional Ladder 62/Engine 99 Firehouse. The show mainly follows veteran firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary in his most solid performance to date) and his ever troublesome family as they deal with real life issues, either with post September 11 2001 trauma or domestic problems. Tommy has to struggle with the loss of his cousin and best friend Jimmy Keefe who died September 11, 2001 and frequently visits Tommy in visions. In the pilot episode, Tommy has already separated from his wife Janet (a fantastic Andrea Roth) and he is an ill-tempered, self-destructive, hypocritical and relapsed alcoholic.

Denis Leary is backed up by a terrific supporting cast, which include: Sheila Keefe (a feisty Callie Thorne) the widow of Jimmy Keefe, who Tommy has an affair with,  Lt Ken Shea (John Scurti) Tommy’s best friend and fellow firefighter, Franco Rivera (Daniel Sunjata) fellow firefighter and all around ladies man. Mike Selletii (Mike Lombardi) and Sean Garrity (Steven Pasquale) are the probies, a “Laurel and Hardy” like duo that provide most of the shows more comical moments.

Rescue Me is also blessed to have frequent guest stars on the show such as Susan Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, Gina Gershon, Jennifer Esposito, Amy Sedaris and Michael J Fox, all playing pivotal roles.

It is an ode to the skill of Denis Leary and Peter Tolan as writers, that they have created a show that confronts 9/11 with a no holds barred approach, delves into day to day situations that we are faced with in real life and also takes us inside the world of firefighters, showing their true bravado and courage.  The fire fighting sequences themselves are very realistic and nothing short of exhilarating.

In fact, I got to talking to a group of Firefighters from Boston and asked them what they thought of the show. They told me that the things that are depicted on the show actually happen to them every day. Inside and outside of the firehouse. They said it was the most accurate representation of the life of a firehouse that they had ever seen. I believe them. 5/5 stars

PG-13, 148 minutes

Warner Bros. Director: Christopher Nolan, Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard.

Inception is a mind bending roller-coaster of a movie that reminded me of the groundbreaking special effects and originality of The Matrix when it was first released in 1999. I won’t say that this is a better film but I will say that is a far more complex and intelligent one for sure.

A review after just one viewing of this film probably does not do it justice as this is a film that deserves to be watched over and over. What is clear is this: Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb a thief-for-hire who has the ability to enter peoples minds and extract information from them while they are sleeping.  The opening sequence gives us a taste of this form of dream invasion and is a thrilling spectacle, yet it is just the tip of the iceberg for what is about to come.

Cobb is hired by a japanese businessman called Saito (Ken Watanabe) to break up a rivals business empire through the use of “inception”,  a very dangerous method of implanting an idea in the mind of another rather than just stealing it. Cobb just wants to go home to his kids but he agrees to do this as his last job, so he forms a dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) his regular “Point Man”,  Ariadne (a fantastic Ellen Page) the “Architect” who can design the world within the dream and Eedie (a stand out Tom Hardy), the “Forger” who has the ability to morph into other peoples identities in the dream world. Their target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, also a stand out here) , the son of the ailing energy tycoon that Saito is in conflict with.

What ensues is a breathtaking spectacle of special effects, mystery, suspense and non-stop action as they go deeper and deeper into one another’s subconscious. We see Ariadne folding a city onto itself just because she can. There’s also a fight sequence in mid air, involving Arthur and an attacker which is a direct shout out to The Matrix.

Inception can get a little hard to follow at times, but this only makes it more captivating to watch every scene as the film unfolds. To add even more complexity to the storyline, Cobb has a secret of his own concerning his beautiful and haunting wife (a chilling Marion Cotillard), who keeps showing up in his own subconscious mind while he is on the job and attempting to sabotage him. The reason why is just all part of the mystery.

Dicaprio delivers another solid performance here and is backed up by a terrific supporting cast. Michael Caine also has a small role as Cobbs father in law, but is under-used.

However, the real genius behind Inception is Christopher Nolan, who wrote the screenplay in addition to directing it. His breakthrough film, “Memento” was a head turning mystery which looks pale in comparison to the rich texture and complexity of Inception. This is a movie about the layering of dreams within dreams where you never really know what is reality and what is not and that is exactly where the film leaves you. In my opinion, this is the best movie of the year so far, hands down.  5/5 stars