The 10 Most Rewatchable Movies of All Time

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Cinephiles always – or almost always – have a few movies that they can watch many, many times without getting tired of them. Whether they’re greatly written, feature amazing performances, have great characters or are simply fun, we’ve all got our personal favorites when it comes to movies.

With that in mind, here is a selection of 10 great movies that are very rewatchable for one or more of the aforementioned reasons. Also, it’s never too late to remember that many things interfere in the choice of the titles, but as always, memory and personal preferences are the main factors. If you think any other film should be on this list, please leave it as a recommendation in the comments section below.

So, here are the 10 most rewatchable movies of all time.

 

10. The Big Lebowski (1998), directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

Very few filmmakers can write as amazingly well as Joel and Ethan Coen. Being among the greatest filmmakers of their generation – and of contemporary cinema on a whole – the Coen brothers, from the beginning of their career with “Blood Simple” (1984) and “Raising Arizona” (1987), to their Palme d’Or winner “Barton Fink” (1991), to the Oscar winners “Fargo” (1996) “No Country for Old Men” (2007), are able to show how they can use comedy in a very unique way, allied with the usual comedy of errors genre, a constant in their career.

In “The Big Lebowski”, a movie that might appear to have a very simple premise but has many layers in it, they deliver probably the funniest movie of their careers. The film follows “The Dude” Lebowski, a man who is mistaken for a millionaire that has the same name as he does and, because of this mistake, two thugs invade his house, urinate on his rug and tell him about a debt he is not even aware of. From that moment on, he goes after this rich man who’s in pursuit of a new rug, but things get very complicated.

The stellar cast, with amazing performances by Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro, is just one reason why “The Big Lebowski” is worth watching, but the writing of this film and the great characters make this film among the best in the Coen brothers’ careers. Very, very rewatchable.

 

9. Die Hard (1988), directed by John McTiernan

If “Die Hard” is not the best action film ever made, it is really, really close to ranking in first place. Written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza, based on the book by Roderick Thorp, and directed by John McTiernan, who had previously helmed “Predator” (1987), this film is a lesson in terms of action movies.

In “Die Hard” we follow John McClane (Bruce Willis), a policeman from New York who travels to Los Angeles to visit his wife who works for a corporation called Nakatomi. At the Christmas party of the company, a group of criminals led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) holds everyone hostage except for John. From that moment on, he is going to have to save everybody by himself.

This cleverly written script allied with great action scenes and an amazing lead character definitely puts “Die Hard” among the greatest action movies ever made and also among the most rewatchable films in history. This makes it number 9 on our list.

 

8. The Dark Knight (2008), directed by Christopher Nolan

Behind-the-Scenes-with-the-Joker-the-dark-knight

With this film, Christopher Nolan set the bar very high for all the other superhero movies that came after it. Written by Jonathan & Christopher Nolan with a story by Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer, it is very fair to believe “The Dark Knight” is the best superhero movie ever made.

In this story that takes place one year after the events of “Batman Begins” (2005), this film starts with Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) successfully fighting crime in Gotham City. But when a psychopath called the Joker (Heath Ledger) appears in Gotham, a new wave of chaos is spread through the city and Batman (Christian Bale) needs to stop him.

Although it has some small problems in the action’s mise en scène, the editing and writing of this film – especially the relationship between Batman and Joker – are simply superb. With so many layers in it, this is another very rewatchable movie and a mandatory film for any fan of action movies.

 

7. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), directed by Steven Spielberg

Raiders of the Lost Ark

A list of the most rewatchable movies of all time could not be complete without a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Having directed many films loved by audiences, more than one of Spielberg’s films could fit on this list, including “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Jurassic Park” (1993), but for this one, we chose “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981).

In the 1930s, the film follows the story of archeology professor Indiana Jones who, after living an adventure in South America in pursuit of a golden statue and having miraculously gotten out of a trap alive, hears about an artifact called the Ark of the Covenant, something that is supposed to hold the key for humanity’s existence. He then goes on an adventure in search of the artifact, having to fight lots of Nazis along the way.

This iconic film from the 1980s with Harrison Ford, Karen Allen and Paul Freeman got three sequels to date, and set the start to a franchise beloved by audiences with one of the most iconic characters from that decade. It’s a great Spielberg film that is very, very rewatchable and deserves a place on this list.

 

6. City Lights (1931), directed by Charlie Chaplin

city lights

Also, a list of the most rewatchable movies of all time would definitely not be complete if it did not have a Chaplin film in it. “City Lights” is one of the best films from one of cinema’s greatest masters.

In this movie, a tramp falls in love with a blind girl who’s going through financial trouble and, with the help of a rich alcoholic that is his friend, he is able to help her. Also known as “City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime”, this movie has all of Chaplin’s classic traces.

With another great script by Chaplin and one of the most iconic ending scenes in cinema history, “City Lights” is a film that is mandatory for any cinephile and a movie you can surely watch again and again and again.

7 Reasons Why “Miller’s Crossing” is a Neglected Masterpiece

There is a good argument to be made for the filmmaking team of brothers Ethan and Joel Coen (one a director, the other a producer, both screenwriters) to be as mainstream as cult filmmakers can possibly get. Yes, they have Oscars (and many other awards) and have had box office success (OK, not up there with “Star Wars” or the biggest works of Steven Spielberg, but pretty good for “quality” filmmakers), but almost every film they have made has some kind of cult following.

These cults aren’t always cut along the lines of box office or award success. Yes, “Fargo” (1996) was a big hit and cult item but so was 1998’s “The Big Lebowski”, now virtually one for the pantheon, which is not at all how the film was first seen by reviewers or the public.

Even films such as “The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994) and 2016’s “Hail, Caesar!”, once thought of as misfires, now have passionate defenders (and if one doubts this, cross one of those acolytes). However, there are some exceptions, such as 2003’s “Intolerable Cruelty”, 2008’s “Burn After Reading”, certainly 2004’s remake of “The Ladykillers”… and, very oddly, 1990’s “Miller’s Crossing”.

“Miller’s Crossing” is a period gangland drama (with black comedy touches). It is true that the Coen’s comedies, even the purer black ones, tend to have more of a following than the dramas but the blind eye many turn to this film (admittedly, an early drama for the brothers after notable comedies and their debut, the neo-noir Blood Simple in 1984) is puzzling. However, being a drama doesn’t seem an impediment for such films as the Oscar winning No Country for Old Men (2007) or Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), a film also with an initially cold reception.

The thrust of this article is meant to point out this film’s virtues and, perhaps, to try to pinpoint why this one seems to have been lost in the shuffle. (A good measure of where this film lies culturally are the facts that Danny Peary named it the best film of 1990 in his book “Alternate Oscars”, and a 2005 Time poll listed it as one of the best films of the preceding century while Leonard Maltin awarded it two and half stars and tagged the film “dense and dour”.)

 

1. A Greatly Influenced Film

One may start with the plot of “Miller’s Crossing”. In an unnamed, presumably northern city in the troubled 1930s, two criminal gangs vie to control that city’s underworld activity. One of the gangs is headed by Leo (Albert Finney) and is dominant at the time the film’s action commences. The other is headed by Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito), who dearly desires for his gang to assume that position.

These factions exist in an uneasy peace in the best of times but, as the action begins, a weasley bookie named Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) is causing way more trouble than he is worth and the two sides are at odds as to how to handle the situation. Leo denies Caspar’s request to have a member of Leo’s gang kill Bernie since Leo currently has a good thing going with Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), who happens to be Bernie’s sister. Added to that is the fact that Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne), Leo’s trusted right hand man, is also having some high old times with Verna (though resolutely kept on the QT).

For a number of reasons, Tom agrees to kill Bernie, but lets the desperate man live and fakes shooting him to death in a clearing deep in the woods. All of this leads to a Pandora’s Box of unfolding events, during which Tom is cast adrift by Leo and ends up in the middle, constantly shifting loyalties and, ultimately, working the two sides against one another for his own ends.

Now, after having read thus far, many a film student or fan of art house cinema may exclaim, “Why, this is a remake of ‘Yojimbo’ (the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s masterful 1961 film with Toshiro Mifune)!” Fans of neo-classical Hollywood films may go, “That’s the plot from ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (Italian director Sergio Leone’s seminal 1964 spaghetti western, which brought Clint Eastwood stardom).” To cap it off, the faithful who love Hollywood movies might respond, “Well, that’s ‘The Glass Key’ (either the film noir 1942 version with Alan Ladd or, less likely, the 1935 noir forerunner with George Raft).” The wild thing is that all of them would be right.

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All of those films go back to the 1931 novel “The Glass Key” by that quintessential American writer of the hard boiled school Dashiell Hammett. Though not quite as famous as 1929’s “The Maltese Falcon” (also a book with many adaptations and highly influential) or 1934’s “The Thin Man”, “The Glass Key” is definitely considered the third part of Hammett’s trilogy of genre masterpieces. Though only the two official film adaptations are credited to the novel, obviously this lesser-known book has still exerted a large influence.

The Coens use several episodes and patches dialog from this novel in the film, along with themes and ideas from Hammett’s first and truly lesser-known novel “Red Harvest” (also 1929 and a book which has no official adaptations). Many also found a touch or two from 1972’s monumental gangster epic classic “The Godfather”, which was set a bit later in time, and the British classic “The Third Man” (1949), among others.

Hammett’s works had a huge influence on the cinematic movement that would come to be known as film noir. It is quite plain that this film is using many conventions of that style. However, are they paying “homage” to it (and a homage is often just thought to be just a semi-clever way of committing theft) or playing with those conventions as a send up, or both? A Coen brothers film can often be quite tricky to dissect in such matters. The tones employed in their films can often change in midstream and in the blink of an eye (to the delight of some and despair of others). So, in the end, what is “Miller’s Crossing”?

 

2. Adaptation a la Coen

Following on this is thing that always comes first with any Coen brothers project (and even in some directed and/or produced by others): the screenplay. Both brothers generally work on the writing of their projects and it’s very plain that they share a…. well, unique sensibility. It’s not at all true that the brothers don’t take things seriously.

There are many, many serious (and seriously violent) things which take place in the Coens’ world. There is also a lot of humanity and feeling in their films (admittedly, harder to find in some than others). The crux of much in this cinematic world is the ultimate absurdity of a great deal of human behavior if seen in the proper light or from the correct distance.

The world of “Miller’s Crossing” is a criminal one. Quite a few of the actions carried out by the characters are…. well, appalling. These are things that the normal living, so to speak, would not involve. However, the brothers more often seem to be interested in the quirks surrounding or leading up to such behavior as opposed to the behavior itself.

A grand example of this is the fact that they concentrate on the image of a misplaced black fedora being carried over trees in the forest by the wind (which was an image used as “homage” from French noir master director Jean Pierre Melville’s great 1962 crime film ‘Le Doulos”). The fedora is indicative of a crime both times it appears. However, to the brothers that little detail is the humor in the horror.

 

3. A Style of Their Own

Going along with the brothers’ scripts is the fact that Joel’s directing style totally “gets” the moods and shifts of the pieces he co-writes. If he had directed “Miller’s Crossing” as a “straight” thriller it could have worked just fine.

However, it might truly have been yet another derivative neo-noir harking back to glory days of film noirs (and there were many of those made at one time). If he had directed it as an obvious send-up then it could have been something like a 1970’s Mel Brooks take-off. He might have profitably decided to go the black comedy route and have it come across as rather smart-alecky (and make no mistake, many already have stuck that label on the brother’s work).

The film both is and isn’t any and all of those things. The best way to describe this film is to say that it is, as with really all of their films, life as seen through the Coen filter. Their scripts see life as sad, funny, violent, absurd and a number of contradictory elements (and how far is that from being an accurate view of life period?). Joel Coen is a master of mixed moods and setting up the scenes for his actors to inhabit, all of which are major elements in making Coen films unique.

10 Famous Movies That Totally Condescend To Women

In the history of the world sometimes changes come awfully fast, and sometimes they move at the speed of glaciers. Some people claim that change is always good, but tell that to the people of Jerusalem when the Crusaders or the Romans were outside the walls.

All through history, most men and women were not considered fully adult. They were the great unwashed, and little was expected of them. They were simply supposed to do as they were told by their betters.

Little by little, with the help of the pike and halberd, the Black Death, the firearm and the printing press, that began to change. Men became expected to be adult, and the fruition of that came during the enlightenment, when the ‘Rights of Man’ became what we would now call a meme.

It moved unevenly, of course. In the United States, at first only property owners were considered fully adult, but over the last couple of centuries the list of adults has grown longer until it encompasses all men and women of every race.

Why were women last? The answer is simple. So long as muscle-powered weapons were all that existed, women would always be at a disadvantage. A small, concealable pistol makes a 90-pound woman the match for a 300-pound muscle-man, a thing otherwise impossible. A very few women could successfully fight a man that outweighed and outmuscled them to such a degree, but the vast majority would never have a chance without lead, fulminate of mercury and gun-cotton…and the guts to use them.

Like every other venture into adulthood, progress is uneven. It remains uneven for men to this day, and there are contrary voices trying to persuade almost everyone that they aren’t adults, they’re perpetual victims, permanent children who can’t be expected to exhibit adult behavior.

There is even the so-called ‘manosphere’ today, trying to persuade white men that they are also permanent victims. The ‘oppression olympics’ are truly universal.

A lot of movies use our civilization’s inconsistent progress to essentially say to women, ‘there, there, darling. Nobody really expected you to be an actual grown up.’

Here are ten of them.

 

1. The Stepford Wives (1975/2004)

The Stepford Wives

There are men in the world who want wives who are ‘perfect.’ However their definition of perfect leaves much to be desired. It comes from an adolescent fantasy, common among boys of their middle teens: the compliant girl who has no will of her own, but does exactly what the boy wants. Real life versions will be coming soon; sbots are already around, if still crude…but then they’ll always be crude, no matter how technically advanced.

As a boy learns more about girls and women, this fantasy usually abates somewhat, until he finally learns that women have ideas of their own and practically all male achievements are essentially attempts at impressing the girls.

In The Stepford Wives, this fantasy carries over into putative adulthood. One could argue that any man who can’t surpass this juvenile dream never actually reaches adulthood, and a man who can’t grow up is less likely to be Peter Pan and more likely to be John Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson.

The wives in The Stepford Wives are replacements; rather than women, they are robotic companions, essentially ‘perfect’ sbots who are completely subsumed by the wants of their owners/husbands. The real women are murdered by their replacements.

This is supposed to be a feminist warning that all men want all women to be docile, available, and mindless, but this has never been the case. A woman who pays too close heed to this kind of propaganda will not have any idea how to deal with actual men.

This is both patronizing and condescending towards women, flattering them that they are intrinsically good and anything they want is right, whereas with men it’s exactly the opposite. This might be appealing, but it’s also wrong. Men are individuals just like women, and any adult, whether they’ve accepted adulthood or not, can make stupid mistakes or do good and noble deeds, depending on how they make decisions.

 

2. GI Jane (1997)

GI Jane (1997)

This is a movie following the first successful female Navy SEAL, which has yet to happen, though the movie was made in 1997.

We are expected to believe today that women and men are essentially interchangeable, that women can do anything men can do. However, as Jane Austen wrote, “I should no more lay it down as a general rule that women write better letters than men, than that they sing better duets, or draw better landscapes. In every power, of which taste is the foundation, excellence is pretty fairly divided between the ses.”

So long as we’re talking about pursuits of the mind, or talents and native abilities, men and women are quite equal. However in one area of life we are not equal, and that is in physical strength.

It is not that some women are not stronger than some men; they are. It is not that some women can do things that most men cannot, because they can. A female gymnast can do things that make a strong man cringe, and there are many physical pursuits in which women are superior.

That does not mean that even the strongest women can do whatever the strongest men can. There is a limit beyond which women simply can’t pass, unless they’re transgender, and haven’t undergone hormone therapy or anything else, so remaining physically male. Such transgendered persons spell the end of females in female sports if allowed to compete without first undergoing therapies to reduce testosterone.

Two women tried out for the SEALs earlier this year. They dropped out in one week. So did a lot of men—right now there’s no reason a woman couldn’t become a SEAL if she can hack the training. And that may be possible, but it also might not. In GI Jane, this is not really a consideration. It’s assumed that it’s not only doable, but not all that hard. It flatters women that the only reason there aren’t dozens of female SEALs is prejudice. It’s a boy’s club, and women are kept out unfairly.

A key moment in GI Jane is when Master Chief Urgayle, played by Viggo Mortenson, tells Lieutenant O’Neill, played by Demi Moore, that she simply won’t be able to pick up a wounded man and carry him out on one shoulder. Later in the movie she drags him across the beach rather than carrying him, demonstrating that he’s quite right. The idea that it just doesn’t matter is fallacious; across a beach dragging will work, but it’s only one situation of many where it won’t.

There are women around who can carry a 200-pound man on a shoulder, but that’s just one example of what’s required of a SEAL. The standards set for the SEALs weren’t designed to keep women out…they were designed to keep MEN out. Men are on average twice as strong as women in the upper body, but we’re not talking about the average. The world record deadlift for a man is 1030 pounds. The world record for women is 670 pounds. That’s best versus best, not average versus average.

Flattery is nice, but in GI Jane it’s mere condescension.

 

3. Tomb Raider (2001)

Lara_Croft_Tomb_Raider

This wasn’t the first of them all, but Tomb Raider popularized the genre of skinny little girls beating up bigger and stronger men. We’re not talking about a Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, who looks like she’s build up a lot of muscle, or a Zoë Bell or Jessie Graf, who hopefully need no introduction.

Angelina Jolie, who plays Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, is in fine shape, but she doesn’t have either the mass or the muscle tone to beat up men who outweigh her by fifty or eighty pounds. In Kung Fu movies a woman might fight successfully against men by being quicker or cleverer, but up until recently, nobody bought the delusion that men and women are equals in a punching contest.

Are there women who can beat up a significant proportion of men? Of course. The ease with which they do it in the movies, while being teenager thin, is just silly.

Worse than that, however, is that people, especially boys, might come to believe it. Women in the movies take a punch and keep fighting, and a young man who believes that propaganda might take a swing and kill his girlfriend thinking she can take it and deserves it. Either boys shouldn’t hit girls, or they should; and having endless propaganda in one direction, at least that boys will watch, and nothing they care to watch in the other direction, is not going to help them understand which is reality.

This is a dangerous level of condescension, telling women they can mix it up with men without being terribly hurt. Emily Marshall can attest to it, as can the wimp who punched her.

 

4. Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent (2014)

Most of the new Disney live-action movies have been subpar, but Maleficent is the worst of the bunch, not least because it continues a ludicrous concept popular among media feminists (as opposed to the real ones): men are to blame for everything.

In the original Disney cartoon version of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent was the bad guy, and one who took pleasure in being bad. She is one of the best Disney villains ever.

For the live action version, she’s a victim, like all women always. Women can never actually choose to be good or bad, it’s all men who decide these things. She would never have turned bad if not for the wicked man who drove her to it, and eventually she repented and turned back toward good, while the evil man got killed, as he deserved.

This is flattering to women in an utterly foolish way. If women can’t choose between good and evil, then they’re not adults—they’re permanent victim-children. Is that feminist? Is that woman-power?

THAT is condescending. ‘Poor dears, nobody expected you to be grown ups!’

 

5. Double Jeopardy (1999)

Double Jeopardy (1999)

In keeping with the theme of ‘men are responsible for everything, women for nothing, Double Jeopardy is a good movie about a woman wrongly convicted of murdering her husband. It’s called ‘double jeopardy’ because she can’t be convicted twice for the same crime, and he’s not actually dead.

This is a sort of corollary to ‘men are evil;’ men are tricky, manipulative AND evil, and women are helpless, innocent victims of their deceptions.

Naturally there are plenty of men who fit the bill, but the idea that women are completely oblivious is ridiculous. It’s such a common trope that it ought to be common knowledge, yet somehow the same old deceptions work over and over and women are just helpless to see past them…or are they? Can women actually be grown ups and use their minds? Some believe that they can, but not the movies. Women are just helpless forever, and can neither learn from their own nor from others’ mistakes.

It’s funny, because Ashley Judd in Double Jeopardy turns herself into a not-helpless, non-victim, but the premise at the beginning was that of a total naif who had no idea that trouble was on the horizon, completely taken in by the charms and lies of her husband. The question is: are women required to be stupid so that they can be perpetual victims? Or can women rise above the foolishness that all human beings inherit in our very nature, and become wise?

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The 10 Best Stephen King Horror Movies

horror movies 2017

Stephen King is one of the biggest names in storytelling. There’s no arguing that. It’s just a simple fact. Since his debut, he’s been a big name and a unique presence in literature. He has had such a successful career with such an original voice, that he changed storytelling.

There’s narrative now that can be described as King-esque. And since his debut, his name has been an attractive one to filmmakers. His work has been adapted nonstop since his debut, with the first to be made, Carrie, being a bona fide classic that set an example for Hollywood that it was very possible to do it right. And while the man has made classics in many a genre, his most famous work is horror so it is only logical that the majority of works based on his stuff is horror. While there may be a lot, there isn’t actually much that is good.

Plenty of crap has been produced, half assed product just made to be sold with the intentions of making a quick buck that comes with having his name attached. But when the movies work, boy do they work. There’s a magic to King’s stories and when a movie gets that right, there’s nothing like it.

Many a talented director has taken a crack at his work and for the most part, they all feel of a piece. So with the massive success of It recently (now currently the highest grossing horror movie ever), ranking the horror movies made out of his work seems pretty damn fitting.

 

10. Secret Window

secret window

The only movie here that was based on a single short story and not a collection of them, this is a really solid little thriller that has seemingly fallen to the wayside since it’s release. Maybe because it’s a real small movie and doesn’t have a real Stephen King esque hook to it, where only he could have done.

Maybe because it’s just so small that most people forget that they saw it in the theaters. Or maybe it’s because Johnny Depp is the star and he made it in the midst of his shift into bland movie star, so any good work he made in this time period is detritus to his more mainstream work. Whatever the reason, this is a real good little thriller. Depp plays a writer (what else in a King story) who has isolated himself in a cabin to try and kickstart his inspiration.

While he’s up there, he is accosted by a mysterious stranger played by John Turturro. Turturro claims that Depp ripped off a story of his and he wants what’s his. What follows is a tense journey where Depp has to question what is really happening and prepare for the worst with a man that is obviously unhinged.

As mentioned before, there is no real obvious King hook in here that separates his work from everyone else. Minus a main character who is a writer, this feels like it could be written by anyone else in a post Twilight Zone world. So this one may feel a little more mercenary than most of the best adaptation of his work, the movie is a good one and doesn’t really overstep in it’s ambitions.

 

9. The Dark Half

The Dark Half (1993)

George Romero returns to the world of King here with a movie based on a full length novel that could only be from the hand of King. A writer (again) played by Timothy Hutton is struggling. His art is more cerebral and less mainstream, so sales are not there. But he has a pen name for books that are trashier, stuff to pay the bills. As a publicity stunt when the truth comes out about the side work, he stages a funeral for that phony writer as a way to put that stuff to bed. But that name comes to life as an evil doppelgänger and wreaks havoc.

This is a weird little story that can only be King, as it is heavily biographical and it’s character details. Aside from the pen name coming to life, most of this stuff happened to him. As a movie, what we get is this weirdly metaphysical slasher movie with Timothy Hutton playing the killer and the final girl.

It gives Hutton a real good role to chew on, as he is able to play the physical manifestation of this writers dark side. He has to stand up to the darkness within his soul before it quite literally destroys everything around him. Romero does a damn good job at bringing the King world to life, that blue collar small town Maine life that is Kings stock and trade.

While it may not be as stylistically rich as their prior collaboration, that’s more due to the fact that this is about fitting within King’s work and not trying to fit into a more heightened comic book style. Romero has a much bigger budget than we are used to seeing him with, as his entire budget isn’t blown on zombie effects this time.

There’s a texture to this movie and it helps make the world feel like King, which is always the hardest element to nail. It’s a good little spookfest that may not be the instant classic that the rest of the movies on this list are, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a damn fine flick.

 

8. The Shining

The Shining

This entry is a real weird beast. Because as an adaptation of King’s book, it is atrocious. This isn’t even a discussion about which is better, but a discussion about the actual story being told. King’s book was a very personal story about him grappling with his alocholism. Kubrick took that story and decided to tell a messy ghost story that doesn’t really work. The details don’t add up to really work.

Jack Nicholson is the King substitute, a writer going mad in this hotel and becomes a danger to his family. But the problem here is that Jack is obviously crazy from frame One. There’s no real descent here, no real tragedy. He isn’t grappling with anything, so it’s just a slow trudge until the obvious happens.

It also doesn’t help that his family is terribly cast. Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd are awful screen presences, so annoying that you can’t help but wish for them to get an axe to the dome. There’s an argument to be made that the movie isn’t supposed to add up and that it’s supposed to be ambiguous as to the truth of the situation. But that’s a bit nonsense since the movie has answers. It isn’t up in the air if there’s ghosts in this house. There’s many examples that prove there’s ghosts.

One: When Jack is locked in the fridge, the door just magically opens. There’s no way it could have happened if there wasn’t ghosts that did it. Two: It’s a movie without a fixed POV, so there’s no question if what we’re seeing is real or not, as Shelley and Danny see crazy shit too. Three: The movie ends with Jack magically thrust into a picture from decades ago. So there’s no question. It’s clearly a ghost story, but Kubrick missed the point of King’s book.

There’s a battle going on inside of Jack, his alcoholism making him a prime target of this haunted hotel, so his demons are made literal as he becomes a bigger threat to his family. He isn’t crazy at the start. Having Jack crazy from the word go (as his entire stack of papers he’s been working on since before moving into the hotel proves) just oversimplifies the story.

He just so happens to be a crazy man that ends up in this hotel and he is barely pushed into murderous madness. So as a King adaptation? Trash. Outright nonsense. But as a movie? It’s solid. Again it’s a bit messy and too long and miscast with 2/3rd’s of the family. But there is a tone, an uneasy tone that is hard to match.

The technical craft on display is, as usual with Kubrick, impeccable. And while Shelley and Danny are just terrible mistakes, Jack Nicholson is as imminently watchable as always. He’s a horrifying presence and elevates the whole movie around him. So as weird a beast as this movie is, it’s a good movie. Nothing great, as there’s too much within that doesn’t work. But on the whole it’s watchable and in possession of some amazing elements. Just don’t go in expecting a faithful King experience.

 

7. Carrie

Carrie 1976

The book that kickstarted his career also became the first movie based on his work and the one that really set the template for how to do it. Brian De Palma came in to make his first big Hollywood production and he made a horror classic, a movie that manages to feel of a piece with King but also fit into his filmography as well.

The smartest move he made was to strip out all of the supplementary material from the book, all the news clippings and journal entries and the life. He stripped it down and got to the basics of the story, which is essentially a movie about bullying and the horrible effects of religious extremism.

Sissy Spacek does amazing work as our titular character. Her physicality makes her an otherworldly presence, which is perfect for the role of a girl that gets relentlessly bullied and then proves to be capable of inhuman feats. Piper Laurie excels as the religious nut that is Sissy’s mother, the real villain of the piece. These two are so great that they were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances.

A horror movie getting Oscar noms is crazy rare, so take that as a sign that this is a movie not to be trifled with. While on the face of it, Nancy Allen and John Travolta might seem to be the villains here, as they are the jerkoffs that drop pigs blood on Carrie and set off the whole Prom Night massacre. But Piper is. Her religious extremism has been a horrible weight on Carrie. It turned Carrie into a target, the bullies of high school smelling out the weakness like predators. But it also put the rage into Carrie. The rage that would explode outward and kill an entire gymnasium of people.

One just needs to look at the beginning of the movie and how unprepared Carrie is for her period, which is the inciting incident for the movie. Piper’s delirious fear of her daughter and of womanhood became a self fulfilling prophecy, as her draconian parenting style cause Carrie to become a killer. It’s a real nuanced look at religion. There may be dark things out there, but there has to be a better way to deal with it. Otherwise there is a risk at pushing those we love towards that darkness.

It’s a really strong adaptation of King’s work, feeling very much like that book thrust onto the screen. De Palma adds his own flourishes to it, stylistic flair that only he can do. Split diopter shots and long takes and voyeurism and the like. Just look at the opening, with that long take of the girls in the locker room. Or the Prom sequence. Pure De Palma that doesn’t dilute the purity of King. It was the first and it still stands strong in the canon. But hoo boy there is some real winners coming up.

 

6. The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone

King crafted a narrative hook with this book that is so strong that it is still referenced today. A book so perfectly executed and relevant that it’s political views are still timely today. It’s a real simple hook. High School Teacher Johnny Smith gets into a car wreck and wakes up from a coma 4 years later with a new ability. The ability to see the future. Or more specifically, the death related future of those he touches.

While this may seem like a great ability to have, it’s one that weighs on Johnny. It hurts him and takes a piece of his soul every time he uses it. It also physically manifests as a brain tumor. But he is thrust into a situation where he has to get involved. When he finds out that politician Greg Stillson is a piece of crap and is going to be the cause of nuclear war, Johnny has to take action.

So what we got here is a melancholy story, a bittersweet tragedy. This man dies young and loses everything in his life, but to a greater purpose. He saves the world. And no one realizes it. The idea of body modification makes this a prime story for David Cronenberg to tackle, out of all of King’s work this matchup is perfect. And Cronenberg really brings out the iciness of the story. The sadness inherent in the story.

There is nothing happy here. It’s all bittersweet and he captures that. Christopher Walken is great as Johnny Smith, really getting to the heart of this tragic figure. Much like Carrie, this feels like the book. It feels like King, but it never feels like for hire work by Cronenberg. This is definitely in his wheelhouse too. This is a classic piece of cinema and one that has aged quite well in this age of potential political annihilation.

The 10 Most Complex Sci-fi Movies of All Time

2001 space odyssey

By its very nature, the sci-fi genre is relatively complex: the short stories, novels, TV series and films that comprise speculative fiction necessitate detailed expository passages to build its far-flung futures, reality-bending premises, and stories set in a galaxy far, far away.

Whether the story is set on an alien world populated by creatures markedly different from human beings, in a future separated by centuries or eons from the present in which society, technology, science, and civilization itself have evolved into a nearly unrecognizable state, or center around time or space travel, sci-fi stories require complex set-ups to create a believable reality that’s very different from our own.

Because of this, the sci-fi genre also allows for its stories to become quite complex. Time travel stories thrive on complexity while, depending on the story, other elements may be willfully obtuse to create an air of mystery or disorientation in the viewer–and some sci-fi stories are much more complex than others.

Here are 10 sci-fi films that are purposely complex, either in order to replicate the extraordinary events occurring in the story, to mirror the effect an advanced technology that’s in use as part of the plot, or simply to keep the viewer in the dark about unknowable creatures and the nearly inexplicable that happens during the film.

 

10. Predestination (2014)

Time travel stories are some of the oldest in the science fiction genre. In fact, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine is often cited as the first sci-fi story ever published. And it’s a hardy vehicle for a story: almost anything can happen in a time travel story. Your character can travel from the past to the present to the future instantaneously to any geographical location. There’s literally no limit to the kinds of stories that can be told using this device.

2014’s Predestination seems to set out to push the limits of what a time travel story can allow. Based on Robert Heinlein’s classic 1959 short story “–All You Zombies–,” the film follows the efforts of a Temporal Agent–whose job it is to travel through time to stop major disasters from occurring–who begins to use his ability to ensure his own career’s success. Along the way and through various points in time he meets a number of enigmatic characters while also chasing an elusive terrorist who also seems to be able to travel through time.

There is no way to speak further about this movie without spoiling the massively surprising and mind-bending nature of the narrative, but suffice to say you have never seen a movie like this before. Its intricate and elusive plot unfurls to such a surprising conclusion that you’ll be thinking about how it all worked out long after the film ends. It’s a fantastically complex sci-fi film that features paradoxes, self-closed loops, and how living life as a time traveler can be even more confusing than you think.

 

9. The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)

An alien, who calls himself Thomas Newton, comes to Earth to find a way to save his planet and family, who are dying without available water. He uses his advanced knowledge to create technology that makes him one of the richest men on Earth, which was supposed to finance his return to his planet. Instead, he fakes a launch to give his family the illusion that he’s returning and stays on Earth, eventually dissolving into alcoholism.

When he’s turned into the government after people close to him realize he’s an alien, he’s experimented on and held captive for years–until he awakes one day and realizes nobody’s guarding him anymore. He continues his life, now a somewhat naturalized human, drinking himself into a stupor.

This is a straightforward summary of a decidedly not straightforward film. Nicolas Roeg–an iconoclastic director whose films often challenged linear narratives–may have made his masterpiece with The Man Who Fell to Earth. Between scenes, the narrative may jump a number of years with no warning or expository dialogue, only having characters age subtly to hint that time has passed.

This is made even more difficult to follow since Thomas Newton–played brilliantly by David Bowie–doesn’t age, which is one of his traits that eventually gives him away. Preferring mosaic-like collages of images and stream-of-consciousness editing to tell the story, The Man Who Fell to Earth may take a few screenings before a first-time viewer understands its structure and story–but it’s well worth the extra effort for one of the best sci-fi films ever made.

 

8. The Fountain (2006)

Darren Aronofsky has made some bewildering films in his career from the start, with his complex low-budget masterpiece Pi. But The Fountain, a sprawling metaphysical look at the nature of life, history, and mortality, may be his most confounding. Starring Hugh Jackman as a man that’s shown living three lives throughout history, and in all of them obsessed with finding immortality, The Fountain doesn’t provide any easy answers to the gigantic questions it poses.

Instead, we see Hugh Jackman as a conquistador exploring the New World for the fountain of youth; Hugh Jackman as a 21st century doctor trying in vain to find a cure for his wife’s cancer, ignoring the time they have left to focus on his work; and Hugh jackman as the doctor now as a space traveler hundred of years in the future, wandering the cosmos in a bubble, travelling to a nebula in deep space.

The intertwining, mirroring stories told across this wide timeline echo and deepen the meaning of the film until its climax seemingly answers all of the questions all three stories have posed–but it’s not straightforward. Instead, this complex sci-fi film rooted in magical realism explores the nature of obsession, fear of death, and desire for immortality obliquely. But perhaps a film like this that addresses such large, difficult concepts like these in a straightforward manner–instead, The Fountain provides a vague map to navigate by.

 

7. Coherence (2013)

Coherence

Time travel can make for a complex sci-fi film, but what about alternate dimensions that collide together? As Coherence shows, it can certainly ruin a dinner party–and your reality. On the night of a comet that burns bright in the sky, an informal gathering between friends and ex-lovers descends into chaos after the power goes out and some parts of the group leave the house to explore the only other on the block that has power. They return and explain that they and left a note on the door of the other house. Then they find a note on their door–written by one of them.

Eventually, the group figure out that the other house is another version of themselves, and the comet must have opened a portal to another dimension. But are the people who returned the same people that left? And how many more alternate realities are there occurring?

Coherence is a low-budget sci-fi film that accomplishes its complex story with clever writing and the ability of the actors to sell the confusion and underlying sinister motives they (or at least a version of them) have as the film heads towards its conclusion. It may leave you confused, but there can be only one conclusion to the movie–even if there’s more than one of the same person extant in reality.

 

6. Upstream Color (2013)

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Shane Carruth’s follow-up feature to Primer, Upstream Color, continued his talent for experimental narrative structure, this time following the disastrous aftermath in two people’s lives after they are drugged by a mysterious parasite by criminals that put them into highly suggestive hypnotic states, in which they were directed to hand over all their money and possessions, waking up later with no memory as to what has occurred.

Of course, the film itself isn’t that straightforward. Interspersed with glimpses of the two victims are vague scenes of a pig farmer, who harvests the organism from one of the victims that he injects in one of his pig, as he records sounds of nature. One victim, a young woman, seemingly telepathically connects with a young man and the two begin a relationship, only for both to realize they were victims of the same hypnotic parasite.

While Primer was confusing, Upstream Color is often bewildering. Beautifully shot and intriguing, Carruth still made an increasingly obscured narrative that never clears up, even at the end. Another puzzle to be sorted and put together in the viewer’s mind, Upstream Color is a movie about cycles–cycles of life, behavior, and acceptance. An elliptical movie that moves perpendicular in time, this sci-fi film is a fascinating and mysterious work of art.

10 Great 2017 Movies You May Have Missed

Up to this point, 2017 has been a great year for film. From the great lineups from the biggest film festivals of the world showing new films from acclaimed directors, to the many filmmakers making their debut in feature films with great works, and even some brilliant filmmakers leaving us with a great goodbye film, this is surely an amazing year to be a film fan.

From filmmakers acclaimed worldwide, to a debut in feature film, and even a beautiful goodbye movie from one of cinema’s greatest masters, here is a selection of 10 films from 2017 that should definitely be seen. It is never too late to remember that if you think other films should be on the list, please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Also, some of these films might have premiered in festivals in another specific year or might have even been distributed in other countries before – and probably will only premiere in other countries after – but the important thing is that they premiered or were shown in festivals in 2017 here in São Paulo, Brazil, the city where this article is being written.

So, here are a few movies from 2017 that you may have missed.

 

10. Frantz, directed by François Ozon

Frantz

Acclaimed French filmmaker François Ozon, responsible for movies such as “8 Women” (2002) and “In the House” (2012), delivers a powerful drama surrounding the death of a soldier after World War I.

Starring Pierre Niney and Paula Beer, the movie shows an enigmatic Frenchman who is found laying flowers on a man’s grave by the fiancé of this deceased soldier. From that moment on, this mysterious man develops a relationship with this woman and the parents of the deceased man while hiding a grim secret.

Approaching grief and regret in a very poetical way and with beautiful black-and-white cinematography, “Frantz” is another great film from Ozon in this decade and a film that should definitely be checked out.

 

9. Argentina, directed by Carlos Saura

argentina

Directed by one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of Spain, “Argentina” is a beautiful documentary that approaches Argentine folklore, the music and the artists from this South American country.

With an amazing set design and a great use of Argentinean music, this film from Carlos Saura, who directed a great documentary called “Flamenco” more than 20 years ago as well as brilliant films such as “Cria Cuervos” (1976) and “Carmen” (1983), is one that must be seen by any cinephile.

Using an atmosphere and sets that emulate a theater, and with great choreography and music, “Argentina” is one of the greatest documentaries of the year.

 

8. Okja, directed by Joon-ho Bong

From the exhibition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival to its worldwide premiere on Netflix, “Okja” is not only a good movie but also one of the responsibles for lighting a good debate about how movies are consumed nowadays.

This Netflix production directed by Joon-ho Bong, a filmmaker responsible for movies like “The Host” (2006) and “Mother” (2009), follows the story of a little girl, Mija, who is friends with a sweet and gigantic animal called Okja, a “superpig” that belongs to a multinational conglomerate called Mirando Corporation. One day, this corporation takes Okja to New York with somber plans in mind, and Mija goes after her friend.

With great performances by Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano, “Okja” is a moving film that is surely among not only the best original productions by Netflix, but also in directors Bong’s career. Definitely worth checking out.

 

7. Joaquim, directed by Marcelo Gomes

Joaquim

At the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, acclaimed Brazilian director Marcelo Gomes, mostly known for his films “Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures” (2005) and “I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You” (2009), premiered his new film “Joaquim”, which approaches the story of a national hero from Brazil.

The lead character, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, was a dentist who became the only member of an insurgency against the Portuguese exploration of gold in Brazil to be executed.

Telling this real story with touches of fiction, even though the film has a bit of a problem with its rhythm, “Joaquim” is definitely among the best Brazilian movies from 2017 and is a great piece of work that approaches greed and social injustice in a very particular way.

Being another good work from Gomes, “Joaquim” is one of the greatest South American movies from 2017 and should without a doubt be seen by any cinephile.

 

6. Lady Macbeth, directed by William Oldroyd

Marking the debut of director William Oldroyd in feature films, “Lady Macbeth” is a movie adapted by Alice Birch from the novel “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District”, written by Russian author Nikolai Leskov.

Following the story of Katherine (Florence Pugh), a woman living a loveless marriage to a man much older than her who has an affair with a worker from her property, “Lady Macbeth” has one of the most intriguing female characters from 2017.

The great production design of the film allied with the great choice of shots punctuate this film where every dialogue seems to be a dreadful battle for Katherine. The film also has a great use of its landscapes that give the film a more exquisite look.

With an amazing performance by Pugh, “Lady Macbeth” is a great film about power and desire that should definitely be watched for its great leading character and impressive story adapted from the work of one of Russia’s greatest authors.

10 Great 1990s Movies You May Have Missed

In the last 15 years, the 80s have been a common and welcome reference in different areas of art and entertainment. The indie rock revival of the early 2000s was heavily influenced by pop bands of the 80s, while many films of this decade have been re-discovered or were blessed with late homages.

As the 21st century progresses, and as time passes, it is time to rediscover the cinema of the 1990s. There have been a lot of lists published lately, and many films that were ignored when they were released got late appreciation.

We are still at the start of the confrontation with this interesting decade of filmmaking, and yet there is much left to be (re-)discover.

This list of 10 film gems, 10 highly recommendable pieces of film art, 10 forgotten films and films that remained underappreciated, wants to give a first insight in the immense cinematic quality of the 1990s.

 

10. Awakenings (Penny Marshall, 1990)

awakenings (1990)

If you look at the cast, the accolades, and the premise of the story, one must wonder why Penny Marshall´s “Awakenings” somehow got completely lost in the cinematic conscience. It is based on a book by British neurologist and anthropologist Oliver Sachs, and focuses on an extraordinary case of mental illness. Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro) suddenly stops talking – at all. No one really knows why or what happened to him, until Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams), an innovative and sensitive doctor, finds a way to successfully treat his illness – with empathy and patience.

“Awakenings” is a quite unusual film about the “miracles of life” and the value of humanism, all based on a true event. Williams, in one of his “serious” roles, gives a very strong and convincing performance, while De Niro shines in a typical De Niro-esque role as an outsider. “Awakenings”, however, can easily be qualified as one of the sadly forgotten films of the 1990s.

 

9. Green Card (Peter Weir, 1990)

Weir had his “hit” in the late 80s (“Dead Poets Society” with the memorable performance from Robin Williams), while his 90s effort “The Truman Show”, the powerful media satire, is best remembered. However, “Green Card”, a wonderful, beautifully crafted and convincingly told story about two unusual lovers “by accident”, seems to have gotten lost somewhere.

In this romantic comedy-drama, Gerard Depardieu, is his first American film, plays a French immigrant who marries an American woman, Bronté (Andie MacDowell), just to get a green card and be allowed to stay in the states. But surprisingly, the two, as they get to know each other, they get along better and better, and each one of them has to give up their (proven wrong) prejudices about the other. It all leads to a surprising and dramatic ending.

In addition to the good storytelling and skillful directing, a powerful and very unusual soundtrack by Hans Zimmer makes “Green Card” even more watchable. If you are looking for an unusual, clever and entertaining film about the unintelligible meanders of love, “Green Card” is your right choice.

 

8. Small Soldiers (Joe Dante, 1998)

Small Soldiers

Dante, the director of classics like “Gremlins”, is known for his interesting mainstream films that are often impressive through their creative use of special effects. “Small Soldiers” is an highly entertaining teen-flick that’s also recommended for grown-ups, with a clever plot: It’s about toys that are able to talk, walk, and start wars with each other, and against mankind.

The most impressive thing about “Small Soldiers” is the way it brings the toys “to life,” gives them feelings, personalities, and morals. At times, the films gets really serious and “dark” and takes the direction of an anti-war-film. These toys are not better or worse than humans – because they have been programmed by humans. So they employ the same prejudices, emotions and weaknesses as their creators – but are also able to develop the same positive “human” qualities.

“Small Soldiers” is a highly entertaining, visually impressive satire and critique of human nature, based on a plot surrounding “human” toys with emotions. Very creative.

 

7. Man on the Moon (Milos Forman, 1999)

man-on-the-moon-1999

Director Milos Forman is an expert on portraying “outsiders” and characters who don’t “fit in” anywhere. In this unusual film, he succeeds in telling the story of comedian Andy Kaufman, who, in the 70s and 80s, revolutionized the “funny arts” in the United States.

Even more stunning than the story of this extraordinary man is Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Andy Kaufman: He does not merely PLAY Kaufman – he IS Kaufman, an intelligent and lovable weirdo who enjoyed playing with his audience, the media, the truth – and even his closest friends.

“Man on the Moon” also stars Courtney Love as Kaufman’s girlfriend; Jerry “The King” Lawler, a wrestler with whom the real Andy Kaufman had a (staged) feud in the 80’s; and its soundtrack contains the wonderful title song “Man on the Moon” by R.E.M.

This films is definitely not recommended for everyone, but if you like, for instance, the films by Charlie Kaufman, you will definitely enjoy this one.

 

6. Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood, 1997)

Absolute Power

Clint Eastwood’s highlight in the 90s was undoubtedly his classic “Unforgiven”, which was something of the “last word” on the classic western genre. But aside from that, he also produced some other very good films, one of which is “Absolute Power”.

Starring Eastwood himself, Ed Harris, and Gene Hackman as an American president, “Absolute Power” tells the story of a burglary and a thief (Eastwood) who accidentally witnesses a crime that involves high a rank politician. He gets caught up in a dangerous conspiracy while he tries to “do the right thing” – reveal the truth about the event and bring it to the public, risking his own life in doing so.

In addition to solid acting, “Absolute Power” proves to be a strong and convincing tale about power and abuse of power. Considering the current political state of several countries, including the US, this is clearly (and sadly) a topic that never loses its actuality.

The 15 Most Criminally Underrated Film Scores of All Time

dead-man-original

Whether it be a Shakespearian drama or Italian slasher, sci-fi action thriller or romantic comedy, the soundtrack plays a detrimental role in whether a film will resonate with audiences or leave them feeling underwhelmed. We hear about director – composer relationships all the time, from John Williams and Steven Spielberg to Krzysztof Kieslowski and Zbigniew Preisner; these talented duos are joined through a common passion for film but most importantly, by speaking the same aesthetic language.

Fruits of these relationships are countless masterpieces of world cinema. One could say that many great film directors partially owe their career to an exceptional composer and vice-versa. However, it is all too often that film composers are hidden in the shadows behind the spotlit cast and the genius of the director, especially when the film they have scored turns out to be a box office flop.

They too, among so many others in the film industry, are undervalued in their contribution to the art and their work is often dismissed and forgotten. Yet it is impossible to imagine great films without the presence of great scores. A composer’s relationship with the director is challenging, but often as decisive as the editing is to the script.

There are many reasons why a score may be overlooked and forgotten. Sometimes scores are lost due to a film failing at the box office, a director’s name not being successful enough or being associated with bad cinema, an unpopular genre, and often times even by their own success. Below are listed only a few examples of criminally overlooked film scores in global cinema. Hopefully they will not be for long.

 

15. Alexander Nevsky – Sergei Prokofiev

Alexander Nevsky

The one that started it all. Sergei Eisenstein’s historical team-up with enfant terrible of the Soviet classical music scene, Sergei Prokofiev, is a collaboration that opened the doors to what is well established as the great composer-director relationship, but also how film scores are perceived today.

Both pioneers in their own right, Eisenstein set the rules of cinema, dramaturgy and editing, while Prokofiev inserted his own twist, taking on the established pleasantness of the classical music scene along with other Soviet giants like Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Schostakowitsch.

Scored to the texts of poet Vladimir Lugovskoy, Prokofiev’s epic arrangement was made as a strictly classical cantata for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra. One could say it was the beginning of the epic score in battle films and it still holds as a separate classical piece today. But the duo and Prokofiev and Eisenstein didn’t stop there. Five years later they joined forces again with Lugovskoy to score Eisenstein’s next historical epic, and final series of films, “Ivan the Terrible, Part One and Two”.

Prokofiev had already scored two other films when he broke into Eisenstein’s works. During the recording he experimented with various distances of the microphones and within his composition, he made extensive use of motifs and instruments that were to represent a character or a situation in the story, placing the horns that were meant to represent the opposition, close enough to the microphones in order to make the sound distorted, and set to play harsh military beats, while the Russian army, who were the heroes of the story, were represented with softer instruments and folk-song melodies.

Similar techniques were notably used by Hans Zimmer when he recorded the film music for the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, and are widely taught and used by film composers today. These styles and techniques of course had their stems in opera and its musical narration and would gradually become the base of film music as a storytelling device today.

 

14. The English Patient – Gabriel Yared

The English Patient

Anthony Minghella’s brilliantly made World War II drama is yet another one of those films that were not only quickly forgotten, but also characterised by many in the upcoming years as overrated. While it is not made to suit all tastes, the film won a total of nine Oscars out of 12 nominations, including that of Best Picture and Best Original Score.

Gabriel Yared’s composition combines a Hungarian lullaby (sung by Hungarian folk singer Marta Sebestyen) with the desert landscapes of Africa and the remote locations of Italy. Another composer of Italian origin on this list, Yared manages to succeed in what so few composers accomplish when they attempt to visit the mediterranean, even less so when they attempt to mix many opposing elements among themselves.

Yared uses cultural appropriation while maintaining his own voice, without making it seem stereotypical of the cultures he portrays or bastardising them when he makes his discreet mix. His work is universal and personal, insightful and sincere. Each melody, from the Hungarian lullaby to Bach’s “Aria”, speaks its own different language and expresses its own unique sentiment, retaining a sense of sacredness to the unknown.

It’s a fine line to tread and he deals it with mastery, tracing the historical links between these different civilisations, going back centuries. These ancient and medieval links are evident in his use of harp and oboe, which are taken over by heavy dramatic strings of his own voice. It is evident that neither Yared or Minghella took this project lightly. The result was to produce arguably the finest work of their careers.

 

13. I Am Legend / Lady in the Water – James Newton Howard

i-am-legend-2

James Newton Howard isn’t what you’d consider an underrated composer, at least not in terms of Hollywood success. He began his career by touring with Elton John and has collaborated with a series of well-established film directors and film studios. With more than 150 film titles under his belt, his work is listened to and admired throughout various corners of the earth.

The problem with Howard is that he is a first-rate composer who somehow always ends up scoring second-rate films. His long-lasting collaboration with promising director and gradual disappointment M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t helped him, but with few exceptions, his career has never made the extra jump to score something of quality equal to his own.

That is not to say he hasn’t collaborated with some of the best names in the industry. He did after all score “The Hunger Games” and its sequels and has a recent collaboration with the Walt Disney Company in their new live-action reboots. That being said, even in cases such as these he will end up scoring the “Maleficents” instead of the “WALL-E’s”.

Howard has carried the films he scores for more than once. The haunting voices of “Lady in the Water” elevates the film from a low-key storybook tale to a decent drama with a particular, enchanting aesthetic. His technique is exceptional as is his instinct for what kind of melody is appropriate for each type of drama.

One can talk endlessly about the string movements of “The Village”, the disturbing chords of “Signs”, and the deep simplicity of “I am Legend”, which convinces you it’s not as self indulgent a title as it seems to be. His music is simultaneously heroic and sensitive and just like so many of his scores, it is distinct through a gripping theme that is decorated by perfect orchestration.

Howard has a talent for filling the gaps of hollow scripts with emotion and maybe that is why he is known as being brought in as a last minute replacement. When all else fails, he seems to come in to save the day. He could be the next John Williams, if only he met his Spielberg.

 

12. Zabriskie Point – Pink Floyd

Speaking of rock legends and soundtracks, one of the most prominent collaborations in the history of cinema cannot be ignored. Two giants in their own right, Michelangelo Antonioni and Pink Floyd join forces to portray a revolution and the result is something mesmerising.

In his second attempt at English language films and arguably his brightest, “Zabriskie Point” (1970) was the first of Antonioni’s series of major box office failures, which would eventually end the masterful Italian’s collaboration with producer Carlo Ponti and MGM in the United States.

During its filming, “Zabriskie Point” was considered wildly anti-American (the final cut shot of the film of an airplane skywriting “f You, America” didn’t help counter that idea, neither did Antonioni’s personal left-wing politics). Things got so bad that the production was harassed by right-wing groups for disrespect, left-wing groups for selling out on the hippie cause, national and local authorities, and was accused of lawful violations concerning “immoral conduct, prostitution or debauchery” for the Death Valley scene. It is also said that Antonioni and members of the cast were consequently tailed by FBI agents.

It is said that in his epic portrayal of the US, Antonioni had initially approached Jim Morrison, asking for a contribution from The Doors for the film. The Doors responded with the song “L’America” which Antonioni rejected.

Similarly, in his collaboration with Pink Floyd, it is said that he proved hard to please, saying their tracks were either too slow or too soft. Richard Wright had provided a piano piece called “Fingal’s Cave” for the violent scene in the film, which was again rejected; however, the song went on to become “Us and Them” and was featured in Pink Floyd’s mythical album “Dark Side of the Moon”.

 

11. Dead Man – Neil Young

Jim Jarmusch is another director who has proved to the world that he has exceptional taste in music, aside from the fact that he makes his own. “Dead Man” is a 1996 film starring Johnny Depp and Gary Farmer, at a time when both Depp and Jarmusch were considered the most promising kids on the block.

The film is about a character inspired by the works of William Blake, who also carries his name and who, after murdering a man, encounters a North American who prepares him for his journey toward death. It is considered one of Jarmusch’s least beloved films from the audience, though critics greeted it warmly. It is also considered one of the strongest and most interestingly composed musical relationships in film.

“Dead Man” involved a unique collaboration with country legend Neil Young, not only due to the fact that two very American diamonds met to produce audio-visual poetry, but also due to the fact that the entirety of the soundtrack was Young improvising for 62 minutes. Young watched the edited version of the film in a recording studio and improvised with acoustic guitar, piano and organ. When the soundtrack was released, it was slightly changed from the film version, since it included background noises of cars going by.

“Dead Man” was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and won the Screen International Award at the European Film Awards. It was received with a lot of critical acclaim, but somehow didn’t reach the peak of Jarmusch’s previous “Down by Law” and “Stranger Than Paradise”.

 

10. The Double – Andrew Hewitt

The Double

Andrew Hewitt seems to be one of the most promising composers of the decade, setting off his career with a BAFTA nomination for Best New Composer for Film and TV by the British Academy for his first ever score for the TV drama “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace” in 2004, featuring Richard Ayoade in the leading role.

Ayoade, who we first came to know as the awkward geek in British series “The IT Crowd”, made a stunning breakthrough as a director in 2010 when he presented the world with “Submarine”, beginning his strong collaboration with composer Andrew Hewitt.

“Submarine” already revealed a wonderful soundtrack with a hand-picked collection of songs from various artists and a charming score from Hewitt; however, the duo came to new peaks when a few years later Ayoade presented us with his second feature. A combination of a Dostoyevskian and Kafkaesque nightmare, a construction of a grim bureaucratic world set in an unknown place and time, so distant in the future yet simultaneously so very faithful to its source material’s 19th century psychology.

“The Double” (2013) is based on a novella by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky and centres around a young clerk, played by Jesse Eisenberg, whose life turns around when he finds out that a man identical to him is hired at the government agency where he works.

Ayoade’s particular and psychologically geeky aesthetics combined with Hewitt’s exceptional ear for great melody work to produce something original and insightful. The film’s focus on identity is wonderfully played out in its score and aesthetics, since the environment is a mix of different cultural surroundings and has a strong influence from films coming from South Korea, Japan and China that works well to its advantage and is reminiscent of the films of Wong Kar-wai.

The soundtrack carries this feeling beyond the score, combining dark piano and strings of a very European sound to a delicious selection of Japanese and Korean songs, such as Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” and Kim-Jung Mi’s “The Sun”.

 

9. Candyman – Philip Glass

Another thriller on the list, Bernard Rose’s 1992 monster movie gained multiple sci-fi and fantasy awards and spurned a very long list of sequels; however, it was not Rose’s biggest success. With a mix of cult horror and quality period dramas in his filmography, ranging from ‘“sxtape” to “The Immortal Beloved”, it is easy to consider Rose a director of many talents. On the other hand, there’s Philip Glass and everybody knows about Philip Glass.

Glass has had a very long, successful career, ranging from opera and dance pieces, to film and theatre, which has lead him to be considered by many as one of the most important contemporary American composers today. He is the second Olympic composer on this list, taking on the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, and his stage work reached its pinnacle when director Robert Wilson staged his most prominent opera, “Einstein on the Beach”.

Glass began his film career by scoring documentaries and specifically the poetic and musical “Koyaanisqatsi”. Ten years later, he undertook the score for Bernard Rose’s thriller. One can see Glass’s themes and character unravel from this early stage, with minimalistic approaches that focus on melody and atmosphere but yet entail an awkwardness and peculiarity that is characteristic of his work. However, what seems promising and fresh experimentation in this early work, will bloom in later acclaimed works like Peter Weir’s “The Truman Show” (1998) and Stephen Daldry’s “The Hours” (2002).

10 Horror Movies That Should Be Cult Classics

The way we view films is forever changing. In the race to update, to constantly improve our cinematic experience, a great number of very interesting movies get left behind. This is especially true of the horror genre. Narrowing this list down to only ten was a difficult task, as there are so many fascinating older genre entries dwindling in obscurity; above all else, sheer entertainment value was the main consideration.

There are a few genuine classics, a couple of minor gems, and a handful of highly amusing cinematic train-wrecks. We’re going to be digging deep into the video store shelves here, so prepare to come across some fairly rare titles that may require a hunt. Below are ten horror films that, for whatever reason, simply haven’t been given the proper attention.

 

1. Rituals (1977)

Five medical professionals, close friends since childhood, are slowly picked off by an unknown killer while camping in Northern Ontario in Rituals, by far the most overlooked entry in the “backwoods horror” subgenre.

Directed with steady precision by Peter Carter, Rituals carefully establishes characters that are well-written and beautifully performed by an expert cast (including Hal Holbrook, whose salary was one-sixth of the picture‘s entire budget). We spend time getting to know them before their lives become a living hell, and this makes a huge difference.

Why it’s so scarcely remembered, so hardly spoken of, remains a complete mystery to this day; not merely one of the best of its kind, Rituals stands as one of the best horror films of the 1970‘s. It’s a white-knuckle stunner. Rather than having the main characters hit with a full-on assault right from the outset, Carter leans towards creeping dread, opts for an atmosphere of menace and danger presented with a slow-burn sensibility.

For example: in a stroke of sadistic genius, the unfortunate events begin when all the campers wake up, miles deep in the woods, to realize their shoes have been stolen. They don’t know why, or by whom, but it strips them of a crucial element for survival in such a harsh environment – that‘s effective filmmaking.

In Rituals, the motivation behind these attacks remains as vague to us as it does to the protagonists. The five men just know that someone, or something, is out there; it knows the terrain, it seems to know who they are, and it wants them all dead. Tension gradually mounts to near-unbearable levels as they attempt to survive the harsh wilderness and escape unseen human predators.

Carter shot Rituals in sequence (a highly uncommon practice), and it appears to have paid off as there’s a natural flow to this film, an undeniable authenticity. These five men do, indeed, seem like the best of friends, but in the most realistic way possible; their interrelations are complex, personalities layered. Rituals possesses an undeniable realism, strikes no false notes. It shouldn’t be referred to as simply a ’cult classic‘; Rituals is a classic, period.

 

2. The Meateater (1979)

The Meateater feels so creaky and dated that you may find yourself questioning its release date. If the clothing, hairstyles, and film stock are any indication, the picture appears to have been shot several years prior to 1979, if not an entire decade. No one involved with its production had had any experience in filmmaking, and none of them went on to do any further work in the cinematic arena. This does not come as a surprise, as The Meateater is a complete disaster from beginning to end, a case study in cinematic awfulness.

The film stars a man named Peter Spitzer, and how this fellow snagged himself the lead role in anything, even at this level, defies belief. There has maybe never been a more zonked-out onscreen presence; the man is a charisma vacuum, his face like that of a wooden cigar-store Indian. You‘ll be in amazement, and hysterics, every time he opens his mouth. Spitzer portrays Mitford Webster, a suburban husband and father who purchases a crumbling movie theater (or, “thee-ay-turr” as the regional cast pronounces it) for his family to run, intending to screen “wholesome, G-rated movies”.

The Websters are a morally upstanding, all-American bunch and writer/director Derek Savage really wants you to know it, driving the point home with laughable obviousness at every given opportunity; he’s got them singing the Oscar Mayer Weiner song in unison at one point.

Unbeknownst to the Webster clan, there’s a hideous cannibalistic hermit living in the theater’s attic and, naturally, this causes problems. When Mitford finally opens his movie-house to the public (the marquee literally reads “WHOLESOME MOVIE“), the titular carnivore sets about terrorizing both the Websters and their patrons.

Film fans of a particular sort will likely find much to appreciate here – after all, who amongst us wouldn’t want to run their own movie theater in the 70‘s? The setting holds your interest while actors make you laugh with stiff readings of dreadful dialogue (it should be noted that Dianne Davis, who plays Mitford’s wife, is actually fairly good and it’s borderline uncomfortable watching her act alongside Spitzer). Even Savage’s nonexistent blocking and cock-eyed framing evoke guffaws.

Ultra-cheesy, old-fashioned “so-bad-it’s-good” fun that’s awkwardly clumsy to the point of being lovable, The Meateater provides enough unintentional humor and time-capsule curiosity value to make it deserving of “cult classic“ status. As with several films we’ll be exploring on this list, it’s sadly rare and hard to find. No DVD or Blu-ray has ever been released, none forthcoming. Old VHS copies and file sharing are basically the only ways to track this one down.

 

3. Bloody Moon (1981)

Bloody Moon (1981)

Some filmmakers use the cinematic medium as a form of therapy, almost like mental purging. These artists put their neuroses, their obsessions, their discontent onto film, as though capturing and immortalizing such inner turmoil will render it impotent. Staten Island’s Andy Milligan was one of these, and so is Lloyd Kaufman, to a lesser extent; Spanish auteur Jess Franco is perhaps the king of this particular field.

With over 150 feature films to his name, the insanely prolific Franco spent over half a century churning out a seemingly endless stream of pictures, often working with financing that could graciously be described as, “poverty row”. No budget? No problem. No plot? No script? Only two lights? No lights? One location? With Franco, these were not reasons to cancel his filmmaking plans.

The man had a burning, uncontrollable desire to make movies and let nothing interfere; with him, name recognition or monetary gain were never part of the equation. Franco simply had to make movies. He had no choice. His feverish, deeply personal work certainly isn’t for everyone, as he possessed a very unique (read: sloppy) style that takes a significant amount of getting used to.

But if one takes the time to study the Franco canon, a few titles stand out as being a bit more handsomely produced and technically proficient; these efforts make it clear that Franco, when he calmed down and paced himself, was capable of skillfully crafting a film (albeit in his own extremely skewed fashion). Bloody Moon is the closest Jess ever came to directing a Friday the 13th-esque slasher and it contains some of the man’s finest work.

The film takes place at a boarding school in Spain, where the female students are being murdered by a deformed killer. As was Franco’s preference (read: compulsion), there’s an emphasis on (often deviant) suality: voyeurism was a pet theme of his, and it certainly plays a significant part in Bloody Moon. He also tosses in a dash of incest for good measure.

Originally banned in England, the film is indeed brutally violent, far more so than many of the titles it sat amongst on the U.K. ‘Video Nasty’ list. Gruesome effects are abundant and well-achieved, especially for a Franco picture; one bit involving a circular saw will have your jaw on the floor (I guarantee it).

Gerhard Heinz’s dark psychedelic score sounds like Pink Floyd in the seventh circle of Hell. The oddly cheery main title theme will linger in your head for days. Bloody Moon moves at a steady pace and never grows dull, two things that can’t be said about much of Franco’s output. In this author’s opinion, it’s easily his most entertaining effort.

 

4. Alone in the Dark (1982)

Jack Sholder’s Alone in the Dark takes an ancient premise – the escaped mental patient run amok – and amplifies it, expands on it, raises the stakes. When a citywide blackout allows several institutionalized lunatics (led by Jack Palance and Martin Landau) to break free from their confines, they head straight for the suburban home of their doctor and torment his family over the course of one long evening.

Convinced that their current therapist (Dwight Schultz) murdered their former shrink (Donald Pleasance), the murderous crew sets out to exact revenge and brutally kills all those who interfere.

The newly hired doc must take up arms and defend his family against this band of psychos. Sholder, who would go on to helm Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and The Hidden, emerged confidently onto the scene with Alone in the Dark; it didn’t hurt that he had acting stalwarts like Palance, Landau, and Pleasance to lend his debut an excessive amount of gravitas. They’re all excellent, obviously thought this was a clever little film and tried to make it work.

The four escapees have clear, distinct personalities: Palance is a paranoid ex-military type, Landau a fire-and-brimstone preacher, and Edland van Lidth (Dynamo in 1987’s The Running Man) portrays a mountain of a man who likes small girls. Palance and Landau ham it up like nobodies business while Pleasance, as the retired psychiatrist who seems just as crazy as his patients, provides the third point in a scenery-chewing triangle; watching these three legends, who are given ample screen time, do their thing with such reckless abandon is an utter joy.

The first film to be distributed by New Line Cinema, Alone in the Dark was also one of the very first horror pictures to utilize Dolby Surround Sound (at the time, multiple theaters complained about old speaker systems being blown out).

Initially dismissed as another Friday the 13th clone, Alone in the Dark has earned itself a warmer reception with the passing of time; in retrospect, its clearly one of the finest slasher flicks to emerge from that era, handled with an unusually high level of intelligence, wit, and style. Luckily, it’s not impossible to find – a DVD was released in 2005 and YouTube currently has a decent-looking copy available streaming. If you’ve missed this one, get out and correct that.

 

5. The Boxer’s Omen (1983)

Boxer's Omen

A Hong Kong production company that specialized primarily in kung-fu flicks, Shaw Bros. cranked out nearly 1,000 feature films in less than thirty years. Towards the end, with revenues failing and popularity waning, the production company sought to explore other genres in an attempt to stay afloat.

1983’s The Boxers Omen, one of the wildest motion pictures ever unleashed on the populace, is clearly influenced by popular horror films like The Evil Dead and Phantasm (sound effects from the latter film are even mixed into this one at certain points). The profoundly weird story involves black magic, Buddhism, cannibalism; it follows a kickboxer who journeys to Thailand to avenge the crippling of his brother. En route, he is plagued by bizarre hallucinations and eventually crosses paths with an evil magician. I know this all sounds quite loopy, and it certainly is; this movie is a case of pure sensory overload. N

ot one second passes without something insane happening – wild, vivid gore, stunning in-camera visual effects (including some of the coolest lens flares you’ve ever laid eyes on), tiny creatures and demon beasts brought to life using stop-motion animation and puppetry (everyone loves puppets). It’s a distinctly Asian experience with many references to Oriental mythology and iconography; the harebrained plot is damn near impenetrable so it‘s best to just surrender to this fever dream of a film and accept all the freakish gifts it has to offer.

Far from being a case of slapdash exploitation, Boxer’s Omen boasts masterfully assembled frames and intense kaleidoscopic imagery. Firmly rooted in economical B-movie methodology yet polished and professional, it’s a bona-fide work of art that is guaranteed to set your eyeballs on fire. Never dull for an instant.

All 7 Rocky Movies Ranked From Worst To Best

On December 3rd, 1976 a low budget sports drama opened in the cinema, written by and starring an unknown actor Sylvester Stallone. The film was Rocky and it would go on to become the highest grossing film of the year and be nominated for ten Academy Awards.

Rocky went on to spawn 6 sequels in the series and made Sylvester Stallone a household name. It also had a huge influence on pop-culture. Not only did the film’s success inspire many first time actors and writers, it also inspired many athletes and sports stars.

Ironically, the Rocky films almost mirror Stallone’s life. During the First film, he was struggling to make a living and no one believed in him, the same was true for the Rocky character. For the Third film, Stallone was dealing with being so famous he was becoming out of touch with his roots, Rocky was also dealing with the same situation as a fighter.

The Fifth film has Stallone and Rocky both saying goodbye, one to the series he created and the other to his boxing career. The Sixth entry had Stallone make a new Rocky film many years later, even though the studios didn’t really want it, which echo’s Rocky Balboa coming out of retirement at sixty years old for a comeback fight. And Creed focuses on the Rocky character, as well as Stallone, passing on the torch to someone new to carry the series.

The setting of Philadelphia is completely iconic to the franchise. While tourists flock to Philly to visit the Liberty Bell and Constitution Centre, many others go to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art or more specifically the stairs leading up to it, commonly known as the “Rocky Steps”. The Rocky statue which appeared in Rocky III was donated by Stallone to the City of Philadelphia and now stands tall at the bottom of the stairs, often with a line of people waiting to snap a photo with it.

2015 saw the Rocky spinoff “Creed” released to critical acclaim and box-office success. With the sequel announced for a release in 2018, the long-running sport’s drama shows no signs of fatigue.

 

7. Rocky V

The fifth instalment in the Rocky series is easily considered the worst among critics and fans alike. Director John G. Avildsen returned to direct after Stallone took over for parts two to four. Co-starring Talisa Shire once again as Adrian and real-life boxer Tommy Morrison, playing the role of Tommy Gunn, a hard-hitting unpolished country-boy boxer. Sylvester Stallone’s real-life son Sage makes his on-screen debut playing Rocky Balboa’s son Robert.

After the fight in Russia against boxer Ivan Drago, Rocky Balboa is forced to retire after suffering from permanent brain damage. More bad news awaits Balboa, upon returning home he discovers that his fortune has been lost by his accountant on the stock market.

Rocky and his family are forced to sell their assets and move back to their old neighbourhood. With his boxing days in the past, Rocky begins coaching a young up-and-coming fighter named Tommy Gunn. However, after finding some success, Rocky finds it hard to compete with another manager in town who wants to lure Tommy with glittering prizes and high salaries.

One of the main issues is the writing. The way Balboa loses his fortune seems contrived, plus the fact he doesn’t seem to have any resentment towards Paulie afterwards. The relationship rift between Rocky and his son Robert also seems forced and isn’t quite as compelling as it’s meant to be. Another big problem for this entrant is Tommy Gunn. Tommy Morrison isn’t the greatest actor and the majority of his delivery is a little wooden, plus the country bumpkin character is annoying and some of his decisions and thought processes are baffling to audiences.

Trying to modernise Rocky V has ironically made it age worse than the previous films. Replacing the majority of Bill Conti’s score with late-eighties/early-nineties hip-hop reduced the epic feel of the soundtrack and makes it sound more like a TV movie by today’s modern standards.

For all its problems, Rocky V still manages to complete the task of bringing the series full circle. Bringing in the original director. Locating it back to the mean streets of Philly. And stripping back on the excessiveness and over the top montages of parts III and IV. Rocky V is more of a drama, akin to the 1976 classic. The film starts off very strong with an emotional and powerful performance from Stallone. The switch-up with the ending including a street-fight rather than a boxing match was also refreshing and handled extremely well. Rocky muttering the line “I didn’t hear no bell” is a superb moment.

Overall, the film’s flaws are hard to ignore and at the time audiences believed this was the final Rocky film and the series went out with a whimper rather than a bang.

 

6. Rocky IV

The fifth part of the Rocky saga is completely preposterous in nearly every single way. It’s essentially a 90-minute montage which results in Rocky Balboa ending the Cold War. And it’s as highly entertaining as it is illogical.

Russian power-boxer Ivan Drago has been scientifically trained using high-tech equipment and experiments. Apollo Creed accompanied by Rocky meets Drago for an exhibition match. After the match doesn’t go as planned, Rocky promises to get Revenge on Drago in the name of Apollo and the United States of America. Against the wishes of his wife Adrian, Rocky travels to the USSR to meet Drago in the ring. Apollo’s former manager Duke helps Rocky prepare for his fight by training him in the frozen Soviet countryside.

From the intro with the 2 giant boxing gloves colliding followed by a big explosion, you know you are in for an entertaining ride. What follows is barely any proper narrative and the basic formula rehashed but set during the Cold War. Rather than focusing on the story or the drama like the previous entries, this one focuses on montages. There are at least 5 different montages! Including 2 different training montages back-to-back that are only separated by a couple of minutes.

Set during the Cold War, the film is full of many Russian and American stereotypes. Brigitte Nielsen is a Russian ice-queen caricature with an accent which could be bordering on offensive. And Drago as billed as the most intimidating character in the whole series, even if he does look a little dopey at times.

Ivan Drago is seen punching a machine which shows he hits at 1850 PSI, which is enough to shatter a skull. Apollo Creed’s entrance for his exhibition fight is a highly entertaining camp moment in the series. Dressed in his red, white and blue Uncle Sam outfit with James Brown singing him to the ring with “Livin’ In America”. Absurd but completely entertaining.

At a neat ninety minutes, including at least five minutes of rehashed footage of previous films, Rocky IV is a breeze to watch. While not being a brilliant film, it’s more likely to make guilty-pleasure lists. It’s great fun from start to finish as there is no time for the film to slow down. But that’s also its main problem. Even after including one of the most deeply emotional moments from the whole series thus far, the film as a whole still lacks any emotional depth and doesn’t manage to have the same human connection from previous films.

 

5. Rocky II

Three years after Rocky, Stallone and the original cast returned. This time, as well as writing and starring, Stallone also took up the director’s chair. While not making as much money at the box-office or being as well received by critics, the sequel was still a large success and set up the franchise to continue for years to come.

After his World Heavyweight Championship fight, Rocky is enjoying life. Settling back into normality, Rocky and Adrian decide to get married and go back to their simple life. Embarrassed after losing his endorsement deal on a commercial, Balboa begins working in a meat packing factory as he believes he won’t box again. However, Apollo Creed wants to prove his critics wrong and show that Rocky’s performance was a fluke. Now with a child on the way, Rocky has little option but to accept this big money rematch.

The Rocky series started out as a drama but quickly becomes more about entertainment full of some implausible moments. The first over-the-top yet charming moment comes during the training montage in Rocky II.

Re-creating his jog through the streets of Philly, this time children start to follow, running behind him. After going through many locations more and more kids join in until there are literally hundreds of children chasing after him. This ends with Rocky running up the Museum of Art steps once again, this time with the children following him all the way to the top which results in some brilliantly fun visuals.

While the drama surrounding Adrian’s pregnancy gives the film a soap-opera feel, it also adds some powerful moments. After the birth of their son, Adrian is in a coma and Rocky refuses to leave her bedside, he even contemplates not fighting Creed. After she awakes and talks with Rocky, she tells him she wants him to do one thing for her, “Win!”. The delivery of that one word followed by the musical queue is enough to give any viewer goose bumps. The drama of the final fight is also heightened with cutaways to Adrian being home with the baby and watching the match on the TV.

The greatest achievement of Rocky II is the final fight, which manages to surpass the original in every way. Filmed with better techniques and angles, the fight looks more intense and real. Stallone also experiments with more sound and slow-motion which results in a very dramatic showdown. The ending is extremely thrilling and a genius way to end his journey to become the Heavyweight Champion.