List-O-rama: My favorite films of 1989

LIST O RAMA 2

My 5 Favorite Films of 1989

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“This town needs an enema!”

Batman (Directed by Tim Burton | starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson) The first true comic book blockbuster, Batman still holds up today. I am not entirely sure on the exact number of times I saw the movie upon it’s release, but it is the most I’ve gone to see one movie in the cinema. With a flawless portrayal of the Joker by Nicholson, Batman is super stylish and one of my all-time favorites.

 

 

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“Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn

Major League (Directed by David S. Ward | starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger) This movie is number 2, next to Slap Shot, as best sports comedy of all-time. A great cast and clever writing make this story of the downtrodden Cleveland Indians baseball clubs worst to first comeback story very enjoyable. It is very much an updated version of the Bad News Bears. This is a love story intended for every viewer who is a diehard fan of their home town team, even if the suck terribly.

 

 

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Marty’s get rich quick scheme backfires.

Back to the Future II (Directed by Robert Zemeckis | starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd) The second of the time travel trilogy, this film is the glue that holds it together. I am not saying I don’t love the other two films, but Back to the Future II has a certain charm. The writing and references to the future are clever, and Biff Tannen is one of the all-time villains. Even though the Cubs did not win the World Series in 2015 like the film boldly predicted, it is still a hell of a time waster.

 

 

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The Stones have nothing on the Stallyns!

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Directed by Stephen Herek | starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter) In 1989, a gift was given to the world, and that gift was Keanu Reeves. This comedy features such names as Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Genghis Khan, and George Carlin as Rufus. Bill and Ted travel time in a phone booth. Sound familiar? This excellent adventure features one of film’s greatest fictional bands; Wyld Stallyns. Good, mindless fun. You’d have to be a medieval dickweed not to enjoy and appreciate this history lesson.

 

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A hellacious cat named Church. Poetic.

Pet Sematary (Directed by Mary Lambert | starring Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynn) This film is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. In my opinion, this is the best of King’s work turned movie. I saw this one at a drive-inn double feature and it scared to crap out of me. Pet Sematary still has an unsettling effect on me. This film features a ghost, reanimation of dead things, a demonic house cat named Church, and a toddler on the loose with a scalpel.

 

 

 

T.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

MY TWO CENTS LOGO

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Captain America: Civil War  (Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo | Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie) MARVEL STUDIOS

When I was a kid, I was pretty much consumed by three things. Star Wars, WWF (now WWE) wrestling, and Marvel Comics. Besides my love for Batman, I was deep into Marvel. I would give anything a read, but for the most part I gravitated toward The X-Men and Spider-Man. This was awesome when Hollywood rolled out the red carpet for comic book movies back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s as Spidey and the X-men were the premier stories to be told on the big screen. The only thing that sucked was the fact that the rights to different Marvel franchises were scattered all over the major motion picture studios. I think each company had a piece; Sony had Spider-man, Fox took the X-men and Fantastic Four and Universal had the Incredible Hulk. You get the picture. All of this meant that we would probably never see any crossover of our favorite heroes. Marvel wised up and decided it was their best interest to start their own motion picture company in 2005. Disney then subsequently purchased them in 2009. Essentially, Disney owns pretty much every right except X-Men and all characters mutant-related (unfortunately that includes my personal favorite, Deadpool), and of course Spider-Man, and his cast of characters. But here is the good news. Marvel Studios now has a working relationship with Sony. This means Peter Parker, Aunt May, Green Goblin, and the whole gang will now appear in Marvel Studios productions, and vice versa. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. I hope it makes sense, and IT IS important to my review on Captain America: Civil War because, you guessed it…our sneak peek at Spider-Man in his first appearance in a Marvel Studios movie. And to me, and I’m sure any Marvel purist, is an amazing (no pun intended) event.

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It’s good to see you again, Web-Head!

 The Avengers are heroes. They have time, and time again, saved Earth from all sorts of threats. There is only one problem. When they go into battle, they usually end up leveling a city and the result is loss of civilian life. After a recovery mission in Wakanda (fictional African country) goes south, and an incident occurs, several nations from around the world want the Avengers to be held accountable. The United Nations has demanded that all “enhanced humans” sign an accord to hold up their accountability. This causes a split right down the middle of the Avengers, with Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Captain America at odds with each other due to each of them having strong opposite beliefs. All hell breaks loose. This is all I can really say without giving story lines away. As far as comic book movies go, Captain America: Civil War is now at the top of the food chain. When I was a kid, I dreamed of things like this. This film is jam packed with so many elements and characters, that the one hundred and fifty minutes whipped right by. Usually with a giant ensemble cast, you loose some characters along the way. That is not the case. The film keeps gaining characters, and snowballs into a cinematic juggernaut. The special effects and battle sequences are seamless. Often I get lost in CGI and end up resenting it because of the distraction, but it just becomes part of the story in Civil War. The main battle sequence between the two feuding factions is dynamic and fluid, and I was fully engaged.

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Former friends turned bitter enemies?

 Captain America: Civil War also kicks off Phase 3 of the Marvel cinematic universe, which means we are exposed to new characters, and get to see a little more of a couple surprise favorites. Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man, and is nothing short of clever and charming, as he was in his own film last year. T’Challa, the Prince of Wakanda is fierce and believable as Black Panther. The actor portraying Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, is going to make a nice addition to the ongoing story. Last, but not least, we get our first glimpse at the new, and drastically improved Spider-Man. The other films starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield had their moments, but there was always something missing. Peter Parker is a kid, and the other Spidey movies lacked Peter’s boyish wonder and charm. Tom Holland now gets a turn at bat to play Peter Parker, and if his performance in Civil War is a glimpse into Spider-Man’s future, he is going to smack a home run. It will be fun to see how Sony and Disney work together to create a brand new world for the wall crawler. Although the Civil War has been tagged under the Captain America franchise, this was much more. All of the Avengers, old and new, are important pieces to the story. Only Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Thor are AWOL, but there is a good reason, which will be explained in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. We also get to see a lot more of Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Vision (Paul Bettany), and the stunning Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olson). It is quite a stellar cast, lead by Chris Evans (Captain America) and Robert Downey Jr. (the always dashing Tony Stark/Iron Man). It is actually quite impressive that Marvel Studios has amassed a roster of actors this deep and talented on an ongoing basis. The directing team of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo are given the task to put together this enormous puzzle, and the do an amazing job. They were also in charge of Captain American: Winter Soldier, which to me right up on top of my favorites list. The Russo’s are given many more moving parts with this sequel, and make an even better film. Because they are also in charge of the next two Avengers films, expect nothing less than pure enjoyment.

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A fine addition to the Marvel cinematic universe; Black Panther.

As I read this back to myself, I sound like a fan boy. I forgive myself, because that is exactly what I am. I remember being ten years old and reading Marvel’s Secret Wars. It was a limited issue mini series that basically put most of the Marvel heroes and villains on a planet by a being called the Beyonder. The Beyonder essentially wanted to see the two sides fight it out. Captain America Civil War is not Secret Wars, but it is a gigantic step towards amalgamating these characters into one universe. Now wouldn’t it be something if Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel/Disney could work something out so maybe one day we could see a big screen Secret Wars. The X-Men and Marvel’s Avengers sharing the same universe? Maybe that’s just wishful thinking from lifelong fan boy, but hey, crazier things have happened. The closest thing we have right now is Captain America: Civil War. Don’t walk, but run (or fly if you are an “enhanced human”) to the cinema. You will not be disappointed.

T.

My Favorite Films of 2016…1/3 of the way through.

Best of 2016 (so far)

As a fan of film, and the cinema, I typically try to see a movie each week. It is not always an easy endeavor considering each week is hit and miss with good new release movies. Sometimes you roll the dice on something that isn’t considered “must see”, and you can be pleasantly surprised. Other times you’d wished you saved your time and money. During the first one-third of 2016, I have seen some good, a lot of average, and a few bad ones. This is kind of an unimaginative topic, and an easy scribe, but it has been a while since I have written anything, so to get the juices flowing again I would like to share with you my top 5 favorite films of 2016 (so far).

5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Dir. Zack Snyder starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill) I almost decided not to see this film. I have never been a big fan of Superman or DC Comic film adaptations in general. I thought Man of Steel was a blur of CGI and an okay film at best. What finally drew me to see the film was Batman and Ben Affleck’s portrayal of the Dark Knight. When it was announced that the former Daredevil star would be the next Batman, you could almost hear a collective groan from movie nerds far and wide. My initial thought was ‘hmmmm…I can dig it’. To be honest, I think Affleck was an amazing Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film was a little long, and there are a handful of WTF? moments, but it was generally very decent and held my attention for the duration. Dawn of Justice laid some interesting ground work for the next wave of DC films.

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dir. Dan Trachtenberg starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) John Goodman playing a paranoid end-of-the-world survivalist, you say? Sign me up! 10 Cloverfield Lane, is from what I can tell, the second film (the first being 2008’s Cloverfield) in an anthology of stories based on alien/monster invasions. Ninety percent of the film takes place in an underground bunker, and has a great mix of suspense and atmosphere. The writing and acting keep the film moving along nicely, and John Goodman (like always) is amazing. The last ten minutes of the film strays from the formula, but still fits with the story. This film is a pretty sweet unheralded gem from producer extraordinaire J.J. Abrams.

3. The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson) This 1630’s New England folktale is not a typical, jump-out-of-your-seat horror film. From the start, it is a slow burn, and makes you feel like you may crawl out of your skin at any moment. The cinematography, set design and costumes give The Witch a very authentic feel. From the outset, you know this God-fearing family is doomed; either at the hands of the evil residing in the forest, or through their own unraveling. I’m glad I got to see their demise on the big screen. If you like gritty horror, The Witch will please you.

2. Midnight Special (Dir. Jeff Nichols, starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton) Michael Shannon has quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. The roles that he chooses seem to fly under the radar, but create a buzz. The film Midnight Special is no different. Shannon plays Roy, who is on the run from the law after liberating his son from the control of a doomsday cult. His son is no ordinary boy though. He has gifts that no mere human could possess. This is a well done science fiction feature with some great performances from Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, and especially Jaeden Lieberher, who plays the son.

1. Deadpool (Dir. Tim Miller, starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin) Quite possibly the most enjoyable ninety plus minutes you could possibly spend in a cinema, Deadpool is almost perfect. Of all the comic book adaptations, Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson is on par with Robert Downey’s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. I think I am being fair to say that this film is the most true to the title character that we have seen from Marvel Studios so far. Reynolds brings Deadpool to life as the humorous, blood thirsty “Merc with a Mouth” just as we see in the pages of the comic books in which he was born. Even if you have no idea who Wade Wilson is, you will leave the theater satisfied. The film is not for kids, as it is laced with bloody violence, no-holds-barred sexual innuendo, and enough language to make Joe Pesci blush. The casual viewer may not get every inside joke and the hidden homage to the comic, but they will be a Deadpool fan after watching the movie.

T.

Riff of the Day BLACK SABBATH – Hole in the Sky

March 5, 2016

RIFF OF THE DAY LOGO

black-sabbath-artist-page-pic-zumicBlack Sabbath – Hole in the Sky (from the album Sabotage, 1975 Vertigo/Warner Bros.) The inventors of doom were in town last night, and I missed them. I saw them a few years ago, but it still would have been great to witness Black Sabbath one last time. The band is one of the main reasons I play guitar and listen to heavy music to this day. Tony Iommi, in my eyes, invented doom metal on his Gibson SG. From Ozzy to Dio and in between, Black Sabbath went about their business and changed rock n roll.

Sabbath Factoid: The title of their sixth album Sabotage was named as such because the band were entangled in a legal battle with former management. According to Iommi, the band felt as if were being “sabotaged all the way along the line and getting punched from all sides“. This lead to the album having a heavier, more aggressive sound.

T.

 

In 50 (or so) Words…DEADPOOL (2016)

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DEADPOOL (2016)

Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein
Twentieth Century Fox, The Donners’ Company, Marvel Enterprises

After discovering that he has terminal cancer, mercenary for hire Wade Wilson is offered to under go an experimental procedure that can save his life, and also give him extraordinary powers. After being lied to and left for dead, Wade discovers he has gained the ability to rapidly heal from injuries. He also left with an appearance only a mother could love. Hell-bent on seeking revenge, Wilson dawns a mask and costume, and takes the moniker “Deadpool”. Along side some familiar “allies”, a quick wit, and armed to the teeth, “The Merc with the Mouth” goes on a killing spree in search of the people who turned him ugly.

Anyone who is a fan of the Deadpool character as he is represented in the Marvel Comics universe knows that the film is actually a pretty close adaptation and stays true to the character. I looked forward to seeing this film as soon as the test footage was leaked a couple years back. I am a fan of the comic book. The “breaking the fourth wall” shtick (Deadpool is aware he is in a comic book and acts accordingly) was, and still is a fresh approach. The movie takes advantage of this, and it is brilliant. This is Deadpool with the gas pedal pinned to the floor. From what I have read, this was Ryan Reynolds’ passion project, and he is brilliant. You could scour the world and not find any actor to play the part of Wade Wilson better than my fellow Canadian. From the humor, action, charm, and countless Easter eggs (intentionally hidden message, or inside joke) that are contained in Deadpool, it’s a hell of a good time at the cinema. I can see this being a movie I can watch time and time again, and still be impressed. I can only hope that Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Studios have enough sense to add this character to future X-Men based films, because honestly, they have become dry. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when the studio loosens the reigns and lets the creativity flow. What I am trying to say is Deadpool is awesome. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I may have enjoyed it a little more than The Force Awakens, and I loved that film.

T.

In 50 Words – THE WITCH (2016)

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THE WITCH (2016)

Directed by: Robert Eggers

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Atlas Entertainment, Relativity Media

A farmer and his family are forced to find their way in the New England wilderness after they are exiled from a colonial plantation. The family settles on a plot of land near a forest believed to be inhabited by an evil force. Almost instantly, bizarre and unexplained events begin to happen, including the youngest child being kidnapped. The family must rely on each other and their faith in God and Christianity to get them through as they are preyed upon by the entities that reside in the woods.

Viewers who go into The Witch expecting a typical horror movie could possibly be disappointed. The jump scares are kept to a minimum, and the blood and guts are all intended to be deliberate as opposed to glorified and gratuitous. Instead, director Robert Eggers relies on atmosphere and tension build-up to keep the audience engaged and off balance. The folklore of the time is heavily relied upon, and hits the mark. This day and age, it seems silly to fear black magic and Satanism, but in the sixteenth century, these fears were very real. I was very impressed with the costume and set design. The film had a very authentic and distressed feel. The characters were well constructed, and the actors playing those characters were also genuine and intense. I am sure this film will achieve critical and moderate financial success, but on the same token, it will be a polarizing film with mixed feelings from viewers. The Witch brings true horror to the table, as opposed to cheap gimmicks and loads of blood. As I watched this family collapse under their own suspicion and religious beliefs, I just hoped that the Evil in the forest surrounding them would show some restraint. Not the case. I left the theater thinking what did I just watch? I also left the theater feeling like I had just seen something original and special.

4 Bloody Moons 4 out of 5 Bloody Moons

T.

Riff of the Day THE DOORS – 5 To 1

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The Doors – 5 To 1 (from the album Waiting For The Sun, Elektra 1968) I may have been seventeen or eighteen when I read No One Here Gets Out Alive; the Danny Sugerman and Jerry Hopkins penned biography on the influential and polarizing Jim Morrison. Myself and a bunch of my friends were heavily into The Doors for a couple years, and the book was my bible for that period of time. I thought “if Morrison can do it, so can I”. There is remains a spot in my heart for this legendary group, and I still look upon the magnetic Jim Morrison as a hero. 5 To 1 is one of my absolute favorites of The Doors. I hope kids of this era are still discovering the bands that I discovered twenty or so years ago. It sure would be nice to get together, one more time.

For an amazing read on enigmatic Rock star, please check out No One Here Gets Out Alive.

Wikipedia – No One Here Gets Out Alive

T.

In 50 Words…The Forest (2016)

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The Forest (2016)

Directed BY: Jason Zeda

Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt

AI-Film, Lava Bear Films, Gramercy Pictures

An American woman, Sara (Dormer), travels to Japan to track down her oft troubled identical twin sister. The trail leads to the Aokiagahara, the “suicide forest” at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The “sea of trees” is a place where people commit suicide, and is widely believed to be haunted. As she finds evidence that her sister may be alive and lost in the forest, Sara will have to confront her past, as well as the supernatural forces of Aokiagahara to uncover the truth.

As a fan of the folklore that comes along with the infamous “suicide forest” in Japan, I was actually intrigued by the possibilities that The Forest could bring to the supernatural genre. Imagine being alone in the forest at night in the dark. No imagine having to worry about ghosts messing with you as you try to keep your sanity. Sounds pretty freaky right? The Forest falls so flat on its face, and almost immediately. For starters, the majority of the forest scenes take place during the day. This is not very effective. The scare count for me was zero. The story was very rushed, and with no real build-up. The history and the creepiness of the Mt. Fuji area is wasted on this film. The Japanese are renowned for their innovative horror films. Hollywood is renowned for taking a scary-as-hell legend and making it suck. I feel bad for Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) and first time director Jason Zada, but on the bright side; it can only get better from here. Might as well get the terrible horror project out of the way first. It upsets me to be this harsh, but I have to be honest. The Forest was one of the least interesting films I have seen in quite some time.

1-bloody-moons 1 out of 5 Bloody Moons

If you would like to read some information on Aokiagahara, the”Suicide Forest”, here is what Wikipedia has to say…

Wikipedia – Aokiagahara (Japan)

T.

Riff of the Day: DAVID BOWIE – REBEL REBEL

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I was maybe six or seven years old when I came across David’s Let’s Dance cassette in my aunt’s collection. The name was familiar, but I was a little kid, and had no clue what his music was about. I listened to that cassette, continuously rewinding to hear the title song over and over. To a kid in the early 1980’s, music was Michael Jackson, Prince, Cyndi Lauper and such. I loved all of those performers, but now I am in my thirties (standing with one foot over the line that is forty). I still love M.J. and Prince, but Bowie is the only one who has been a constant influence in my love and creation of music. He could change his style in an instant, and still be relevant and classy. For parts of five decades, he was and will continue to be admired, in the highest regard, by anyone who can recognize talent and charisma. I was honored and blown away by the opportunity to see him perform in 2004. At sixty years old, he commanded the stage and captivated the crowd every moment. Men half his age can only dream of having the appeal and mystique of Mr. Bowie. He went by many personas over the years; The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Jareth The Goblin King (Labyrinth), actor, painter, and musician. To me, he is all of these things, in addition to one more persona; Hero. I am grateful to have shared the same time and space with a man who transcended life and was not afraid to be different.

Hot tramp, I love you so.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Bowie.

In 50 Words…HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)

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The Hateful Eight

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth

The Weinstein Company

Runtime: 187 Minutes, Rated: R

A group of traveler’s, consisting of bounty hunters, Civil War veterans, and killers converge on a remote outpost in the heart of the Wyoming wilderness during a severe blizzard. As these strangers seek shelter, each appears to have their own agenda. Is it the storm that brings upon this chance meeting, or is it destiny that has these folks are gathered at Minnie’s Haberdashery on this cold winter’s afternoon?

I always look forward to Quentin Tarantino’s new films simply because they are typically brilliant. The dialogue, acting, and dark humor are always engaging and enjoyable. Those points remain true in his 8th film, The Hateful Eight. The movie comes across like a stage play, as it takes place primarily in one room. The blocking and back ground performance away from the primary action  is well done. I did have one issue with the film that kind of took away from it being close to perfect. The run time, at over three hours, is too long. When the ending came around, it almost seemed like a relief that the movie was over, and lessened the impact of the conclusion for me. Also, the score music seemed incredibly loud in spots, but that could be the fault of the cinema. Overall, an entertaining film, full of humor and violence. Walton Goggins and Samuel Jackson are brilliant, as is Jennifer Jason Leigh. For me, this one falls between Inglorious Basterds and the amazing Django Unchained.

4 Bloody Moons 4 out of 5 Bloody Moons

T.