Movies I Want Everyone to See: Into the Night (1985)

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Review by Richard Kirkham

“Into the Night” is a film that I recommend for a somewhat narrow range of reasons. Although it is referred to as a comedy, action, thriller, it barely qualifies in each of those categories. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot that is funny about the movie, and there is some action and tension along the way, and what could be more thrilling than seeing Michelle Pfeiffer at the peak of her beauty and charm? The real reason to see this movie however is the tour of Southern California culture from the 1980s that you get along the way. It is a very loose film with some nice sequences and dialogue but as a film it seems to lurch forward and wander around the story at times, but oh what interesting times.

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Catching the Classics: The Silence of the Lambs

silence_of_the_lambs_ver2Since 1998, I have been maintaining a list of movies that I wanted to see. Sometimes these are all-time classics that passed me by, sometimes they’re genre classics that interest me. The list grows regularly and is currently more than 1800 movies long. Fogs has gone through and hand-picked several classic films for me to “fast-track” and review here. This is one of those films.

At 12 years old, I was old enough to be interested in live-action movies when The Silence of the Lambs came out, but not by any means old enough to watch an R-rated psychological thriller, at least by my parents’ reckoning. My parents watched the film when it came out on home video. I gather my mother thought it was fairly good — she always liked crime thrillers, although she was sometimes put off by gore — while my father wasn’t so fond of it. I’ve been hearing “it’s overrated” for around twenty years. But as Dad and I often disagree on films, I’ve long wondered what I would think of it myself. After all, this is a very highly-acclaimed film; it has a Best Picture win, several AFI rankings, and a top 25 spot on IMDb to its credit. It has a considerable reputation to live up to. Continue reading

Catching the Classics: Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon PosterSince 1998, I have been maintaining a list of movies that I wanted to see. Sometimes these are all-time classics that passed me by, sometimes they’re genre classics that interest me. The list grows regularly and is currently more than 1800 movies long. Fogs has gone through and hand-picked several classic films for me to “fast-track” and review here. This is one of those films.

It’s something of a puzzler how it took me so long to track down this movie. It’s almost impossible, as a sci-fi fan, not to be aware of Flash Gordon. I haven’t seen the old serials, but I’ve known of them for years. I’ve read a few of the pulp novels. I’ve heard the soundtrack by Queen. Knew the character names, knew the aesthetic, and somehow didn’t ever get around to actually seeing the thing. Obviously that had to be remedied.

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Movies I Want Everyone to See : Soylent Green (1973)

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In the world of Science Fiction, most readers of novels, viewers of television and movies will always remember a strong ending to a story. The “Twilight Zone” was famous for the twist sucker punch finale of most of the episodes. In the popular culture, when an image or a quote becomes a meme understood by all, it is clear that the work has tapped into something important to the times, politics or people. Charlton Heston is the star of many a movie meme. Moses standing at the Red Sea parting the waves, Ben Hur, either chained to the oars of the Roman Battle cruiser or with rein in hand on a Chariot. His most famous image however is as a dismayed misanthrope pounding sand on a beach in front of the ruins of one of the most recognizable symbols in the world at the end of “Planet of the Apes”.  Heston has at least one other great moment of Science Fiction history in his vita, the denouncement at the end of the movie “Soylent Green”. It is another moment parodied and understood by masses of people, most of whom have never seen the movie. I don’t want his refrain to be the only thing people know about the film so this week “Soylent Green” is the movie I want everyone to see.

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Catching the Classics: Serpico

Serpico PosterSince 1998, I have been maintaining a list of movies that I wanted to see. Sometimes these are all-time classics that passed me by, sometimes they’re genre classics that interest me. The list grows regularly and is currently more than 1800 movies long. Fogs has gone through and hand-picked several classic films for me to “fast-track” and review here. This is one of those films.

For a few years, Serpico kept showing up on my radar. Nothing big, just little blips here and there. A couple spots on a few of AFI’s more minor lists (Cheers and Heroes). Discussions on just what films Al Pacino should have won an Academy Award for, and whether his award for Scent of a Woman was a “make it up to him” award for not getting it for this film. (I should note I still can’t participate in those discussions myself, having not seen the latter film.) Discussions on the filmography of Sidney Lumet, who also directed the terrific Dog Day Afternoon (also starring Pacino) and Network, one of my all time favorite films. But there was little pointing me directly to Serpico itself; it was always just a tangential part of some other discussion. But it kept coming up, and so it worked its way onto my watch list. Sometimes the best films are the ones that people don’t make a big to-do over. Continue reading

The World’s End

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Similar to their previous collaborations with director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”), “The World’s End” features Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as friends coming to the realization that they’re surrounded by hostile forces. This time out it’s robots, who have taken over the town where they and their friends went to school together.

“The World’s End” feels a bit scattershot at times, but fans will consider it part of its “charm”. It’s a film that has a bit of bittersweet nostalgia for misspent youth, a bit of railing against the conformity of the world, and plenty of sequences where middle aged men kick robotic ass.

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Catching the Classics: Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu PandaSince 1998, I have been maintaining a list of movies that I wanted to see. Sometimes these are all-time classics that passed me by, sometimes they’re genre classics that interest me. The list grows regularly and is currently more than 1800 movies long. Fogs has gone through and hand-picked several classic films for me to “fast-track” and review here. This is one of those films.

Among the films that Fogs picked out as classics from my watchlist, he also included a handful of films that — while not necessarily the film-school shoo-ins — he felt were still worthy of inclusion due to being cultural touchstones, or popular films, or ones he simply felt I would enjoy. Kung Fu Panda was one of them, and while I recall him getting some gentle teasing from a few of his readers when he selected it as a Movie That Everyone Should See, I was happy to check it out. I’ve never stopped liking animation, and it looked like a fun one.

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Movies I Want Everyone to See: “The Right Stuff” (1983)

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Review by Richard Kirkham

Kids of my generation all had the same heroes, astronauts. We watched the launches and splash downs on television both at home and at school. Everyone knew who John Glenn was and the Moon landing in July of 1969 seemed like the greatest day in history. A lot of kids followed test pilots and experimental aircraft like they were ball players with statistics. By the time the Vietnam War was finally run out, and Watergate had drained us of much of the respect we had for our government, the space program had shriveled in size and Skylab had tumbled back to Earth. Astronauts had become at best technicians in the sky and often faceless. In 1979, Tom Wolfe published “The Right Stuff” which reminded us all of what it took to be an American Hero in the Space Race. The rights to the book were snapped up and plans for the movie began. Four years later emerged a film that would be called by many one of the finest films of the decade. It is not a forgotten film, but in many ways it is a neglected film. Readers on a site like this might know the movie intimately, but casual movie audiences are often unfamiliar with movies that lack a cult following or came out before they were born. Let’s see if we can work on that.

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