Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Starring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, J. Patrick McNamara, Warren J. Kemmerling, Roberts Blossom, Philip Dodds, Cary Guffey

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Expectations: Love it. Haven’t seen it in a while.


 

Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a masterful film, bursting at the seams with a wealth of beautifully composed shots, wonderful John Williams music and a great sense of wonder. This is the kind of film only a budding filmmaker could have made, a true love letter to the dreamer fueled on passion and heart. This is made all the more interesting by the fact that in this case, the dream itself is implanted into our hero’s mind by the extraterrestrials. Much in the same way, Spielberg has inserted his own vision of first contact into millions of minds, forever changing the way we look at aliens.

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November 13, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)

Starring Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, Marthe Villalonga

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High. Been wanting to see this restoration since it came out.


This may be one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written. Above all, I want to do justice to the film and to the memory of the Fightin’ First, the Big Red One. Like never before, after viewing Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One, I feel that I grasp the immensity of their service in World War II and their contribution to the war effort. Viewing the film takes the audience on the journey with the soldiers, almost like an embedded reporter out to capture the reality of the situation. It is remarkable and somewhat unfathomable that with so much death surrounding them, these men were able to come out as survivors. The Big Red One is a film that creeps up on you in subtle ways and before you know it, you realize that you absolutely love it.

Sam Fuller brings distinct credibility to the film, himself a member of the Big Red One during the times covered in the film. The film forgoes a distinct plot and takes on an episodic format that plays out like a war diary. It’s rather ironic that this type of semi-fragmented film actually ends up packing in more narrative, character arcs and genuine excitement than most traditional films. After recently viewing Saving Private Ryan again, I was a bit worried about watching this so close after. Both films cover the Normandy beach invasion and have similar themes.

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September 24, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, 2000s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars, War | , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Starring Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Jeremy Davies, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, Paul Giamatti, Harve Presnell

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Expectations: High. I remember loving this. It’s been a few years.


Here’s another History class review.

Saving Private Ryan opens and closes on the same image of a faded American flag. The only sound is the quiet rippling it makes as it moves with the wind. In honor of the soldiers that have fallen and everything that has been sacrificed for the lives of their countrymen, the flag waves steadily and means much more that the simple colored fibers it is constructed of. Like the flag, the film is a commentary on the value of life and what one man is worth. Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan is the top of the game in terms of World War II films and with good reason. It is an absolute triumph on nearly every level.

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September 17, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Action, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars, War | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Fargo (1996)

Fargo (1996)

Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell, Kristin Rudrüd, Tony Denman, Larry Brandenburg, Steve Reevis, John Carroll Lynch, Steve Park

Directed by Joel Coen

Expectations: I’ve seen this a bunch of times, I expect to still enjoy it.


Fargo is a twisted tale that begins with a disclaimer that it is based on a true story. The Coens put this on their film because there are certain elements taken from true events, but the actual overall story is theirs. This doesn’t diminish its impact at all, in fact, it’s such a well written story in its probable improbability that you can easily believe it to be true, which in the world of film is all that really matters.

Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) drives down a snowy road to meet two men at a bar. He has hired these men to kidnap his wife, in an effort to get her wealthy father to pay the ransom which Jerry will use to pay off debts and then give a small share to the kidnappers. It’s all so ludicrous that it has to be true, right? I mean, you can’t make that kind of stuff up.

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July 21, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shaolin Intruders (1983)

Shaolin Intruders [三闯少林] (1983)

Starring Yee Tung-Sing (Derek Yee), Jason Pai Piao, Liu Yu-Po, Phillip Ko, Chan Shen, Ku Feng, Lee Hoi Sang

Directed by Tang Chia

Expectations: High. Love Shaw Bros. films and this came highly recommended.


I watched this movie because my friend and colleague, Uncle Jasper, recommended this as a Shaw Brothers movie that featured some of the best fight choreography he had ever seen. As a huge fan of such things, I had to see for myself what he spoke of. Uncle Jasper was not pulling a fast one. This is hands-down, one of the best Shaw Brothers movies I’ve ever seen.

Directed by Tang Chia, longtime fight choreographer at Shaw Bros., the film exudes kung-fu energy. The opening titles run over a group of Shaolin monks going through their training exercises. There is a fight scene towards the end of the opening credits where all the monks use wooden benches as their weapons. It was so well choreographed and exciting to watch, a fantastic fight sequence, and we’re still in the opening credits! Director Tang Chia was fight choreographer on countless other Shaw pictures. His credits list goes on for days, culminating in his three directorial efforts, Shaolin Prince, Shaolin Intruders, and Opium and the Kung-Fu Master. If the other two are anything close to the awesomeness that is Shaolin Intruders, then they are also among the best the Run Run Shaw Studio has to offer.

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June 2, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Action, Foreign, Martial Arts, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Broken Embraces (2009)

Broken Embraces [Los abrazos rotos] (2009)

Starring Penélope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Lluís Homar, Lola Dueñas, Ángela Molina, Rossy de Palma

Directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Expectations: Very high.


Pedro Almodovar is quickly becoming one of my favorite writer/directors. This is the third film I’ve seen from him and he continues to amaze me. There is a power in his words and images that is hard to find in modern cinema.

The story of Broken Embraces deals primarily with a retired film director (Lluís Homar) who has gone blind. The film also flashes back fourteen years to the character of Lena (Penelope Cruz), a secretary for a wealthy businessman who aspires to be an actress. The film unfolds at a slow but interesting pace, gradually intertwining the two stories with skill.

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June 1, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Drama, Foreign, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man (2009)

Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Fred Melamed, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus, Alan Mandell, Adam Arkin, George Wyner, Amy Landecker

Written and Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

Expectations: Moderately high. I love the Coen Bros, but they’ve burned me before.


Wow. I don’t know what to say. I honestly don’t feel qualified enough to form a complete response to this movie. I loved it. Absolutely one of the best films of 2009, but this is so not a film for everyone. The Coen Brothers generally make polarizing movies, but this is even in its own league within their filmography. It is probably their darkest and most personal comedy, and it instantly ranks with their best work for me. This also makes it a tough nut to crack. Immediately after watching I felt that I needed to see it again, and I would say that most would need a couple of viewings to really get their heads around it. If the ending to No Country for Old Men left you scratching your head, then you will want to assume that position once again. If you enjoy that sort of ambiguity as much as me though, then you are in for a treat.

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April 24, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments