Sunday, May 13, 2012

Winter Wrap-up Part One

Here are three movies that couldn't be more different! As you can see I'll watch films from pretty much any genre or time period. I only took a few notes when I watched these movies back in December so this post will be a little shorter than usual.

North by Northwest (1959)
I have seen several Alfred Hitchcock movies before but so far this one is my favorite. While I am familiar with Cary Grant I believe its his first full movie I have seen thus far. Cary Grant was the first choice to play James Bond and I bet that this film was most of the reason why.
North by Northwest was probably the first modern action movie as we have several big action scenes in many cross-country locations, fun one liners, beautiful women, and spies.
I loved the feeling of paranoia throughout the movie, especially with it being centered around an ordinary everyman. This sort of reminded me of the works of Philip K. Dick and I'd love to see somebody compare Dick's "Dark Haired Girls" to Hitchcock's "Cool Blondes."
The film is great in pretty much ever aspect: directing, writing, acting, editing, and music. And on top of that it is just a blast to watch from start to finish.
I am stingy with my 10s as for me they are essentially a bonus. This is my most recent ten!

Freejack was directed by Geoff Murphy, the man who also made the cult classic The Quiet Earth which I have on DVD but still need to see one of these days. As I have stated before, I love time travel movies, so Freejack had been on my "to see" list of movies for quite some time for that reason alone.
The basic story is that race car driver Alex Furlong (Emilio Estevez) is transported into the future seconds before a would-be fatal car crash to the future of 2009 (hehe). The reason for this is so that the mind of a dying billionaire named McCandless (Anthony Hopkins) can be placed in his body to allow him to live. Although Hopkins doesn't have a large role as most of the movie is about Furlong on the run from the police force of the McCandless corporation (led by none other than Mick Jagger!), I do find it odd that this was the first Anthony Hopkins movie to be released in the U.S. after The Silence of the Lambs.
Besides Mick Jagger's role as the police leader Vacendak we have another rock star in the cast, David Johansen, who plays Furlong's Agent, Brad. Johansen was the lead singer for The New York Dolls and also known for the song "Hot Hot Hot" under his Buster Poindexter persona. Johansen has done more acting than Mick Jagger and I had actually seen him in another movie before. Johansen had a memorable role in the middle segment of Tales from the Darkside: The Movie where he plays a hitman hired to kill a cat!
Jagger and Johansen may not be great actors, but they had fun with their roles. Unfortunately I can't say the same about the lead as Estevez is mis-cast and plays role like a stoned Marty McFly. Rene Russo does a good job as Julie, Alex Furlong's wife. However when we see her in the future 18 years later she hasn't aged at all. Now maybe this is because some anti-aging work has been done in the future but if so it is never mentioned. And I must mention that Amanda Plummer has a cameo as a gun toting nun!
There are some interesting ideas here but overall it just doesn't work as a whole. This is exactly the type of movie that needs to be re-made as it did have potential despite being underwhelming. Last summer I made a post about remakes I would like to see and if I ever do another one this would certainly be on that list. Freejack was based on the novel "Immortality, Inc." by science fiction author Robert Sheckley so perhaps the best thing to do in this situation would be to go back to the original source material. That tactic worked wonders for John Carpenter's The Thing and in the right hands (Christopher Nolan or Duncan Jones for example) a damn fine movie could still be made out this story.

Moulin Rouge!
I am not a huge fan of musicals, but I don't hate them either. I just don't tend to seek them out even though I did some tech work behind the scenes for musicals in high school and have seen a few on Broadway.
So why did I choose to watch this movie out of all the musicals out there? I am a fan of the Nostalgia Critic and saw that he did a musical review of this movie! At first I started watching it as I only avoid his reviews of things I actually plan on seeing and this didn't seem like something I would want to watch. However, after I got a bit into his 45 minute review I just had to see it for myself and figured I would get even more out of the review if I did so, which ended up being the case.
Moulin Rouge was directed by Baz Luhrmann. The only other Luhrmann movie I have seen was Romeo + Juliet (1996) which I liked but didn't love. This is movie is made in a similar weird and over the top style. 
I liked the song mash-ups such as "Like a Virgin" being sung by Jim Broadbent!
Despite how quirky and and wacky this movie is, there is a serious ending. This is not a spoiler or a surprise as we are told this from the beginning. Moulin Rouge is a fun movie that's a bit different although not something I plan on watching again.


  1. Woooo! Ten out of ten! I'm thrilled that you loved NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Notch another one off your Ebert list!

  2. Great review for Freejack. I kinda want to get around to reviewing it as well. Watched the film loads as a kid not realising it was pretty crummy. You're so right about Estevez being a "stoned Marty McFly". I don't know why they paired him with Russo. He's about a foot shorter than her!

  3. Thanks Nate! Although North by Northwest is actually NOT on Roger Ebert's Great Movies List. I have no idea why not, maybe he'll write about it in the future.

    Hi Jack: I forgot to mention Freejack in your post about Virtuosity as this is another early 90s cyber movie. And I forgot about Russo being so much taller than Estevez!

  4. Hi Chris:

    I'm with you on 'North by Northwest' - that and 'Rear Window' are my 2 favorite Hitch films. For more Cary Grant fun, I highly highly recommend 'Charade,' the best Hitch film that wasn't directed by Hitchcock - great plot twists, very funny, and terrific roles for Audrey Hepburn and Walter Matthau.

    Not too long ago, I read a short yet very insightful book about Hitchcock: "The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder." Along with the days-long interview with fellow director Francois Truffaut, now sadly out of print, it's the best written material on Hitch that I've discovered.


  5. Andrew:
    I love both of those! I've heard of Charade before but still need to watch it out sometime. And thanks for the book recommendation!