â??I donâ??t know why writing down what everybody knows, is any better… Moreâ??I donâ??t know why writing down what everybody knows, is any better than knowing it in the first placeâ??
Along with A Most Wanted Man, Godâ??s Pocket was sadly one of only two remaining lead performances from the late Philip Seymour Hoffman â?? after his untimely death in 2014 to a heroine overdose. For this alone, itâ??s worth reminding yourself what a great talent this man was and how the medium of film will forever miss his astonishing onscreen presence. If truth be told, itâ??s not a role that requires him to do very much and the film itself continually switches tones but like many other movies featuring this fantastic actor, it benefits from his commitment and his everyman naturalism.
After a mysterious construction â??accidentâ??, where his step-son Leon (Caleb Landry Jones) is killed, street hustler Mickey Scarpato (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is urged by the boys mother (Christina Hendricks) to find out what actually happened and to give the boy a decent burial. Mickey tries his best to investigate with the help of his friend Bird (John Turturro) but things go from bad to worse when Mickey gambles the funeral money and is left with a body he canâ??t bury and a debt he canâ??t pay as a local columnist (Richard Jenkins) begins to expose the events.
A sombre, lowbrow mood piece thatâ??s very much character driven and has an authentic feel for itâ??s titular working class, Philadelphia neighbourhood, Godâ??s Pocket. Itâ??s inhabitants are seemingly stuck in their turgid, everyday lives where in order to make ends meet, they are forced into one scam or another. There are few redeeming characters in this tiny corner of the world but debutant director John Slattery (Roger Sterling from TVâ??s Mad Men) gives us an inside, almost fly-on-the-wall, look at how these blue collar crooks operate. The subject matter is certainly grim and cinematographer Lance Acord paints a suitably bleak picture. However, despite the stark nature, before you know it the film shifts from being a character drama to a very black comedy and itâ??s here that Slatteryâ??s inexperience in calling the shots comes to the fore. Considering that the film starts so seriously, a sudden burst of humour comes as a real surprise and it takes a while to adjust. Once you accept that this, though, the black comedic moments become better timed. Itâ??s certainly tonally uneven and you get the sense that Slattery is a little out of his depth in balancing it all but he does manage to deliver many excellent scenes, has a fantastic eye for detail and draws out superb performances from his entire cast.
This bodes well for the the directorial future of John Slattery but itâ??s just a damn shame that we wonâ??t see much more from Hoffman. Not that Iâ??m the religious type but if I was, Iâ??d like to think that Hoffman has found centre stage in the pocket of God and itâ??s a pocket I wouldnâ??t hesitate to pick to bring him back to us. In such a short time, he proved to be one of the screen greats.
They say that a career should never be judged until 21 years have… MoreThey say that a career should never be judged until 21 years have past. Although it's hard to believe, director Richard Linklater has achieved this milestone and now filmmakers Michael Dunaway and Tara Wood decide to shine some light and appreciation on one of the most inventive and daring of contemporary American filmmakers.
Sadly, Linklater himself doesn't actually feature in this documentary but we do get contributions from a whole host of reputable actors that have known or worked with him.
The enthusiasm from collegues such as Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke and Keanu Reeves on Linklater's intelligence and approach to filmmaking is infectious and their anecdotes and insights into his work are a joy. However, it's only really Hawke (his most common collaborator) who seems to fully know what makes him tick. If you're a fan of Linklater and have a sound knowledge of his work then there's nothing here that you won't already know and the film, unfortunately, doesn't really shed any light on the man personally.
Dunaway and Wood's primary focus seems to be a brief commentary on all the manner of genres that Linklater has tackled: Sports flick, Bad News Bears; Period piece, Me and Orson Welles; Western, The Newton Boys and Sci-Fi, A Scanner Darkly, all get a look in while it also highlights his lack of pretension and his ability to dig deeper into more meaningful and intelligent projects. The authenticity of Dazed and Confused and the walk-and-talk theatrics of the Before trilogy get the most focus (the latter being humorously referred to by actor/director Mark Duplass as the lowest grossing trilogy of all time). This focus may, like myself, leave some viewers disappointed that the marvellous work of Waking Life gets very little discussion yet it's probably his most thought provoking film and shadows the fact that Linklater was always a philosopher to begin with and just happened to choose celluloid as the medium to express himself.
The tidbit of information I found most surprising, however, was the dialogue throughout his films. Although much of it seems like improvisation due to the encouragement for his actors to be free and loose it's actually verbatim which seems all the more impressively delivered when you look at how his films are structured and, as expected, it explores his penchant for similar themes of alienated characters, the social constructs of America and how he effortlessly evolves through his work while working diversely between Independent and bigger productions. It also highlights the effort that Linklater has made in support of independent filmmaking and how he was influential in helping create the Austin Film Society whereby old film prints could be saved and showed, as well as raising money from filmmakers to help make more films
Overall, it does little but scratch the surface and a bit more in-depth analysis to his films would have been welcome but to paraphrase Billy Bob Thornton on the outtakes at the end; "Rick Linklater doesn't need anyone to make a documentary about him. He's fine". However, a film that runs a mere 78mins is hardly demanding and if your a fan of Linklater then it's a pleasant appreciation.
"Idealism is guilty middle-class bullshit"
Having already delivered… More"Idealism is guilty middle-class bullshit"
Having already delivered Slacker and Dazed and Confused beforehand, Richard Linklater's third film, SubUrbia, somewhat confirmed him as a voice for the disillusioned youth and their struggling transition into adulthood. This is a common theme among his films and has lasted from his debut in 1991 to his most recent 2014 film Boyhood. It's seems to be his niche and one that will surely continue in his future endeavours.
Jeff (Giovanni Ribisi), Tim (Nicky Katt) and Buff (Steve Zahn) are three aimless friends that do nothing more than hang around their all-night convenience store, drinking, eating pizza and bitching about life in general. On one particular evening, they await the arrival of old high-school friend Pony (Joyce Bartok) who is now a successful musician. As the night progresses, though, tension, jealousy and resentment grow.
Taking a break from writing duties and focusing on the work of playwright (and sometime actor) Eric Bogosian, Linkater finds a project that is not unlike his own material. However, there's a slightly angrier and darker piece of work here that's a little out of Linklater's usual comfort zone. Like a lot of his films there's very little in terms of plot as it focuses on a bunch of friends hanging out and discussing their lives, the choices they've made and where their futures might lie. Again, like many Linklater films, it doesn't sound too appealing on the surface but he has a real knack for capturing natural dialogue and performances and that's where the film really finds it's feet. The always reliable Giovanni Ribisi waxes philosophical in true Linklater fashion while we have Steve Zahn lightening the mood in a film that's predominantly concerned with pessimistic conversation.
Linklater, once again, has a good eye and feel for small town, Texan mentality and he films with a colourful vibrancy whereby many scenes and exchanges of dialogue could have been cut and pasted directly into Dazed and Confused and they'd appear seamless.
The sticking point of the whole affair, however, is the running time; it's just shy of the two hour mark and you do get the feeling that characters overstay their welcome, particularly as the tone of the material gets darker and more depressing. That being said, this is still another enjoyable outing from Linklater.
A sharp and observant character piece that fits comfortably into Linklater cannon of films and once again showcases his ability to capture the disenchanted, cynical youth on the periphery of society. It's one that fans of his will not be disappointed in.
Not being a fan of Eli Roth or the torture porn sub-genre itself, I… MoreNot being a fan of Eli Roth or the torture porn sub-genre itself, I went into this film with serious reservations. I hoped against hope that with the appealing inclusion of Keanu Reeves that this might be worth some time. Reeves has been involved in the occasional dud here and there, but he's also been known to unearth a few gems in his time. I was hoping for the latter and also hoping that Roth may have moved on from his gratuitous early films like Hostel and Cabin Fever and actually managed to mature somewhat Alas, my reservations were correct.
Evan Webber (Keanu Reeves) has the house to himself for the weekend while his wife and children take a trip away. Evan's supposed to be working from home but the arrival of two young women at his doorstep temp him to do otherwise...
Those familiar with the 1977 psychological thriller Death Game will know what to expect already with this one but for those unaware, fear not. It doesn't take long to get the gist of this and co-writer/director Roth doesn't waste any time setting up this remake: Reeves is a happily married man, living the suburban life with his wife, kids and family dog. There is, however, a small hint from a passing comment of Reeves flirting in the past and it's also noted that, due to family life, he and his wife haven't had sex for three weeks. So, the stage is set... Reeves gets on with his work one stormy evening until two young damsels come knocking on his door. They've lost their way, of course, and ask for his help. They flutter their eyelashes, make suggestive sexual comments and dance flirtatiously to Spanish music. Not before long they're naked and helping themselves to a shower while poor Keanu is folding their panties that he so obligingly dried in his machine. Naturally, they refuse to catch the taxi home leaving good ol' Reevesy with no choice but to bump fuzzies. Now, if only Reeves had been privy to the ominous use of music (that the audience hears so consistently to foretell danger) he'd have known that these ladies are bad news. And so ensues depravity, torture and mayhem. You may be reminded of such psychological films as Michael Haneke's Funny Games or David Slade's Hard Candy but the major difference is that those films are actually very good. Quite frankly, this is awful.
Had it's tongue been lodged firmly in it's cheek it might have gained a modicum of respect but it didn't. And it doesn't! If there's any attempt at humour here then Roth has failed to capture it. It takes itself far too seriously. There's absolutely no consideration for the plot other than to move things along to the next depraved moment and the acting is woeful; Reeves is as wooden as he's ever been but, to be fair, his best moments come when he's being tortured. Or maybe that's because I could completely empathise with his excruciating pain while enduring this film.
Ridiculous doesn't even begin to describe this and I should have trusted my instinct before going into it. I simply don't like Roth's films and after this I'll not be going near another one. If truth be told, I wish he'd just go away and stop wasting everyone's time.
The last I heard, "Knock Knock" was the beginning of a child's joke. However, this joke stretches over 90mins and doesn't even deliver a punchline. At one point Reeves' character even screams out "what's the point of all this?" - I found myself asking the same question.
Unequivocally one of the worst films I've ever had the misfortune to sit through. Maybe once the dust settles I might be able to see this as one of those films that are so bad they're good. I doubt it, though, this was absolutely awful. Like Roth's previous films it's just downright nasty and leaves a very bad aftertaste.
No, Eli! Just No! Back away from the camera and leave the filmmaking to the bigger children. Now, go home and get your f@*in' shinebox.
Elmore Leonard had been writing crime and western novels as far back… MoreElmore Leonard had been writing crime and western novels as far back as the 1950's and has had numerous adaptations of his work: Paul Newman in Hombre, Clint Eastwood in Joe Kidd and Charles Bronson in Mr. Majestyk are just some of the more familiar ones. However, around the mid 90's there was somewhat of a reinvestment in his work. After the release of Quentin Tarantino's hugely influential Pulp Fiction in 1994, crime became cool again and Elmore Leonard became the go-to guy for the material. John Travolta would follow-up Pulp with an adaptation of Leonard's Get Shorty and Tarantino himself adapted Rum Punch into Jackie Brown. There were other TV Movies like Gold Coast and Pronto, Paul Schrader's misjudged Touch and the short lived TV series Maximum Bob. Steven Soderbergh then rounded them off with this stylish film that, arguably, handed George Clooney the first role that suited him as a fully fledged leading man.
Jack Foley (George Clooney) is a career bank robber that's done his fair share of jail time. After a recent breakout, he heads for Detroit to pull off his final job by relieving tycoon Richard Ripley (Albert Brooks) of his uncut diamond stash. However, Foley has to contend with other ex-cons with the same idea while evading the law and his infatuation with US Marshall Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez).
Opening with the most remarkably cool and composed bank robbery you're ever likely to see, it's clear from the offset that Soderbergh and Clooney are on very fine form. The mood is also helped by an excellent score by David Holmes that taps into a 70's caper vibe while Soderbergh employs a whole host of stylistic, directorial flourishes; he cleverly plays with the time frame throughout the narrative with complex use of flashbacks and freeze frames and puts a fresh spin on film noir.
Anyone familiar with Leonard's novels will be fully aware of his colourful characters and sharp, snappy dialogue. In bringing them to the screen, Soderbergh assembles a rich gallery of performers; despite Leonard envisioning Jack Nicholson or Sean Connery as Jack Foley when he sold the film rights of his novel, it's a role that fits Clooney like a glove. He brings the requisite charm and charisma and it remains one of his most perfectly suited roles to this day. He's accompanied by a stellar supporting cast too; Jennifer Lopez is not normally someone I'd rate very highly but she delivers some strong work as the doggedly determined Federal Marshall and shares great chemistry with Clooney. Ving Rhames brings his usual reliability as Foley's right hand man, Buddy Bragg while Steve Zahn adds welcome comic relief as stoner, Glenn Michaels. It's the dialogue and interplay between all of these characters that's one of the films major highlights and it provide numerous light, entertaining moments. However, these moments are balanced out with a well judged element of danger. For the most part, the personalities seem flawed and comical but Don Cheadle's chillingly psychotic Snoopy Miller, in particular, is a sobering reminder of what's at stake and what some of these career criminals are capable of.
Despite the story predominantly taking place amongst unsavoury criminals, you could say that this is as much as a romantic drama as it is a crime drama and Soderbergh handles them both (and the comedy elements) with a deftness. The non-linear approach demands a certain concentration as it zips back and forth while teasingly bringing everything together. When you talk about the post-modern cool of 90's crime movies then this is certainly worthy of inclusion.
Crime may be the angle of it's characters but the real crime was this being overlooked upon it's release. It didn't do well at the box-office and many have yet to still uncover this gem.
Having been well versed in the work of Elmore Leonard over the years, I have to say that Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Frank do an exemplary job here. Adaptations of Leonard's work have rarely been better.
Too often with contemporary horror films we are subjected to a barrage… MoreToo often with contemporary horror films we are subjected to a barrage of positive claims. Claims that the most recent one is the best for decades. It almost seems like audiences and critics are desperate for it to actually be the case, such is the lack of any true quality in a failing genre and the desperate demand to be spooked again. Sooner or later, though, one had to arrive where the positivity surrounding it would be genuine. Finally, we have It Follows: a film that can confidently stake it's claim to being that coveted frightener.
After a sexual encounter, 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) is told that she will then be followed by a presence - someone or something - determined to kill her. The only way it'll stop is if she has another sexual encounter where she can pass it on. Initially, she's doubtful but soon enough the disturbing visions begin...
If you're ever in any doubt that you're being stalked by a malevolent force of some kind, then it's probably best to steer clear of the old rumpy-pumpy. Going by the usual horror tropes, when someone butters the muffin it inevitably leads to their demise. And by that, director David Robert Mitchell cleverly bases his entire horror concept around that promiscuous premise.
What works in It Follows' favour is it's homage to films of old - namely, John Carpenter's Halloween. If you consider Carpenter's depiction of Michael Myers, you'll notice that he works slowly and never in a rush to fulfil his murderous intent. That's very much like the entity in this; there's a self-assurance in it's unrelenting pursuit. The setting also takes place in a similar leafy suburban neighbourhood and our protagonist goes by the name of Jay (short for Jamie) - a direct tribute to Halloween's afflicted heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. Even Rich Vreeland's scaled down music is very reminiscent of Carpenter's classic synthesised score.
You could actually spend some time identifying the previous horrors that Mitchell riffs on but that would detract from his own work and his ability to put his own stamp on the proceedings. His decision to shoot with a sombre mood and deliberate pace adds to the overall foreboding atmosphere and allows us to effortlessly enter into any given moment. This works the same in identifying with the characters. Their plight and struggle is all the more involving because it feels like we are getting a glimpse into their lives. It also helps that the cast is headed by reliable, and relatively unknown, faces and as the characters are in their teens, the film works as both an urban-legend horror and a dark coming-of-age tale. Their progression to adulthood and their promiscuity also sets up a clever sub-text that courses through the film in terms of sexually transmitted diseases: a reminiscent 80's setting suggesting the AIDS epidemic, in particular, and channels the deadly nature of that disease as it's psychological device.
Mitchell's real trump card, however, comes from his use of space and setting up his shots. The background plays a major part in the film as you never know at which moment "It" might make an appearance, leaving you to regularly scan the whole frame for any movement.
There's an undoubted ambiguity to Mitchell's film and while some may balk at this I, personally, welcomed it as it added another thought provoking layer. It works on many levels. If you're so inclined, you can adopt a metaphorical approach to the proceedings and delve into it's deeper meanings. But then again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, right? If your not the type of viewer that wishes to explore the metaphors and just want to be entertained then the film can still be enjoyed at face value and works as a chilling and effective horror yarn, nonetheless. With or without mastication.
In only his second film (the first being The Myth of the American Sleepover in 2010) there's no denying David Robert Mitchell's commanding handling of events and his ability to stage a real sense of uneasiness. It's an impressive sophomore effort that has given the horror genre a much needed shot in the arm by delivering substantial terrors and retaining a sincerity in its delivery.
The "slasher film" is now a commonly known sub-genre among horror… MoreThe "slasher film" is now a commonly known sub-genre among horror films and has developed a devoted fan base. Many would say that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho in 1960 was one of the most influential and successful of such a film. Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974 also cited as a major player. However, there was once a "Golden Age of Slasher film" which ran from 1978 to 1984 and incorporated such iconic horror characters as A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, Friday the 13th's Jason Vorhees and, of course, Halloween's Michael Myers. It's this John Carpenter film that was the kickstarter for the Golden Age and credited with being the film that defined the genre.
On Halloween night, 1963, a teenager is brutally murdered by her six-year old brother, Michael Myers. After 15 years in psychiatric incarceration, Michael escapes and, with murderous intent, returns to stalk the Midwestern, Illinois suburb where he first struck.
After opening on the face of a carved, candlelit pumpkin and Carpenter's now iconic synthesiser score playing overhead, we are introduced to a young, murderous Michael Myers. It's worth noting that this entire sequence is shot in 1st person shaky-cam to depict the perspective of Myers. Now somewhat of a cliche in horror movies, Carpenter's skilful inclusion of it not only makes us a voyeur but also makes us complicit in the murder. It's the only time we ever get to see things from Myers' point of view as we then spend the rest of the film trying to evade the unrelenting nature of him.
Carpenter has a knack for delivering genuine chills but his real skill is in making the ordinary, "safer" moments just as scary. Most horror directors rely heavily on darkness descending before revealing the murderer/stalker/monster but Halloween's creepiest moments actually come during the daytime - Myers is seen stalking his prey while driving around schools, lurking by a hedge on a packed suburban neighbourhood or, most eerily, looking on from laundry hanging in the backyard. These are the moments where Carpenter shows his mastery of mood and composition.
Without making too many ridiculous comparisons with the aforementioned Psycho, Carpenter does make tribute to the 1960's classic. Like that film, it creates suspense with minimal blood and gore and the hiring of Jamie Lee Curtis shadows that of Hitchcock's casting of her mother, Janet Leigh, while Carpenter's main theme tune has become as synonymous with horror music as Bernard Herrmann's iconic work. Both scores have been endlessly imitated and work so effectively in their repetitious simplicity.
As much as these trademark approaches command respect, however, there is still something clear from the offset; the acting and the dialogue are plain woeful at times. There's no denying Carpenter's impressive ability to capture a shot or form atmosphere but, overall, it doesn't quite hold the impact it once had. This is a common problem when it comes to Carpenter's work; he was so ahead of his time and constantly trying to realise his visions on a shoestring budget that they don't often age well and a contemporary audience may well frown upon his films.
Speaking of budgets, Carpenter managed to string this thing together for approx $300,000 (with the experienced Donald Pleasance receiving $20,000 of that for 18 minutes onscreen work) and shot in 20 days. With no money for a costume department, the entire cast wore their own clothes and the actual mask that Myers wore was a William Shatner Star Trek mask - spray painted white and the eyes reshaped. It was bought for $1.98 from a local hardware store. This aside, the film went on to gross $70million worldwide, making it one of the most successful independent films ever made.
Halloween happens to be one of his Carpenter's most lauded and iconic films but I don't actually think it's in the same league as The Thing in terms of it's unflinching paranoia and sheer terror and I don't even think it's as good as Prince of Darkness in terms of it's concept. That said, Halloween certainly has it's place among the genre and is quite possibly the most influential of all horror movies. It has spawned countless clones, sequels and remakes and is, understandably, still revered by many.
For all it's flaws, there's no denying that this was a game-changer. Even though the impact has lessened and some flaws are now glaring, there are many times where Carpenter shows that he was once a true master of his craft.
"You think you're done with the past, but the past is not done with… More"You think you're done with the past, but the past is not done with you"
Is there no end to Joel Edgerton's abilities? Although he'd been involved in projects before, it's probably fair to say that it wasn't until David MichĂ´d's Animal Kingdom that opportunities began to really open up for him. He's since went on to work with Kathryn Bigelow, Baz Luhrmann and Ridley Scott, while also penning MichĂ´d's impressive second feature The Rover. Now he makes his own feature length directorial debut and it would seem that we have much more to see from Edgerton's talents.
Simon (Jason Bateman) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall) are a young married couple leading a comfortable lifestyle. Out of the blue, they meet Gordo (Joel Edgerton) an old high school acquaintance of Simon's who begins to make uninvited appearances at their house and always comes bearing gifts. Simon and Robyn begin to question his motives but Gordo's motives are not the only ones in need of questioning.
When you consider the plot or concept of Edgerton's The Gift, you may be reminded of stalker thrillers of the past like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or Cape Fear. On the surface, it does share some similarities with these films but Edgerton manages to put his own spin on the proceedings. The film starts with the conventional creepy stalker tropes but it soon resists these conventions by throwing in some unexpected plot developments which turn the narrative on it's head.
Edgerton wisely shows restraint and plays events down by employing a low-key edge and a deliberate pace. He's in no rush to jump into any revelations and the character arcs are given time to play out which only adds to the tension and suitably unsettling atmosphere.
The performances also hit all the right notes; Edgerton brings the requisite portentousness to his enigmatic stranger while Bateman shows good range and balances the nuances of his character well.
To speak more of the film would only give away plot developments that are better left unsaid. Suffice to say that, although as a genre piece, it's nothing new but it's the tight and clever handling of it that impresses most and unravels as a satisfying psychological thriller that's worthy of some attention.
There's a strong cinematic output from our Antipodean friends at the moment, of which, Edgerton seems to be spearheading and this will no doubt convince studios to invest further in his directorial endeavours.
Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane always struck me as the type of… MoreFamily Guy creator Seth McFarlane always struck me as the type of humorist that had a seemingly endless amount of jokes. His animated show has been hugely successful for years and seems to have the ability that The Simpsons has, in terms of staying power and maintaining a high standard of entertainment. However, that ability to provide the goods is severely lacking from this second instalment.
In order to make his marriage work, Ted (Seth McFarlane) and his new wife Lynn (Jessica Bartha) decide to have a baby and go looking for a suitable sperm donor. However, in the eyes of the law Ted is not a human and therefore unable to adopt or even for his marriage to remain legal, setting forth a struggle for him to prove his place in society.
When he delivered Ted in 2012, fans of McFarlane's humour were happy with his transition into feature length and with a profane and anthropomorphised new character in tow, he was on to a winner. Ted was a comedy gimmick that worked and I was happy to see more when this sequel was announced. That said, this doesn't bring anything new to the table and is so boring you're likely to fall asleep halfway through our cuddly friend's one syllable name.
The jokes (if you can even call them that) are regurgitated but this time they really don't stick. It's hard to imagine that the creator of Family Guy actually had anything to do with this. I'm not one who's easily offended. In fact, I actually welcome risquĂ (C) jokes but a film that has nothing more to offer other than how many black penises appear on the Internet every time you use a search engine frankly verges on racism and isn't even a funny gag the first time, never mind the third or fourth attempt.
It's never a good sign when you feel the need to force out a few disingenuous laughs but I found myself doing that here. I was almost trying to convince myself that there was something here but I should've known from the start; the song-and-dance sequence alone is overlong and, ultimately, pointless and from the outset you get the feeling that McFarlane has started padding before the opening credits have even finished.
Call me old fashioned but I was always under the impression that a comedy should actually consist of, erm... comedy. This whole, misjudged, cock-centric affair is absolutely bereft of humour and considering it's so overly concerned with the male genitalia it's actually quite limp and fails to perform when it matters. It only succeeds in being turgid, tedious and a hugely disappointing and desperate attempt to recreate it's predecessor's wonder and magic.
This is a one trick teddy, overstuffed with a (fully justified) inferiority complex. Ted's inability to procreate echoed that of my feelings towards the film itself. To paraphrase wiser fellas than myself... it's a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.
"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of… More"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses..."
It's always a tricky one when you revisit a film that was a big part of your adolescence and in some ways responsible for laying the groundwork on your love of movies. There's likely to be a tinge of nostalgia or reminiscence, making it difficult to judge it objectively. That said, sometimes the film is just so much fun and so enjoyable that you know why you hold it in such high regard in the first place. Without a shadow of a doubt, The Blues Brothers is (still) that kind of film.
When "Joliet" Jake Blues (John Belushi) is released from prison, he and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) pay a visit to the old Catholic home where they grew up. They soon find out that the orphanage is to be shut down due to lack of funds. As a result, Jake and Elwood go on a mission to re-form their old blues band and raise the money required.
Say what you will about the comedic talents of Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler or Mike Myers but they share something in common in terms of making their name on comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live. These names are just three of the shows recent successful comedians but having, personally, been born in the late 70's and grew up throughout the 80's, most of the comedies I was exposed to were filled with the familiar faces that actually had a hand in the origins of this show - Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy and, of course, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. In fact, The Blues Brothers is an adaptation of a short sketch that first aired on Saturday Night Live and is one of only two successful film adaptations from the show - the other being Wayne's World.
However, despite this films success, it was actually fraught with production problems and a budget that got way out control. Firstly, Dan Aykroyd's script was a massive 324 pages (three times longer than a normal screenplay) which he jokingly bound in the cover of the Yellow Pages before delivering it to John Landis to edit it down. Also, Landis' outlandish car chases and vehicular pile-up's throughout the end of the film sent the budget $10million over it's initial $17.5. This wasn't helped by John Belushi's spiralling drug habit which would cause him to disappear for lengthy periods from the set.
These issues aside, though, The Blues Brothers still struck a chord with audiences and critics alike - even the Vatican gave it the thumbs-up for being a good Catholic movie - and it has since went on to become a cult classic. Over 30 years later, it's easy to see why...
The story doesn't really amount to very much but the titular characters are hard to resist as they ooze a laid-back cool, dressed in their iconic black suits and dark Ray-Bans - a good ten years before Tarantino's similarly attired Reservoir Dogs. Jake and Elwood manage to get themselves in all sorts of scrapes and upset a whole horde of different people; a machine gun, bazooka wielding disgruntled ex-girlfriend (Carrie Fisher), the Illinois Nazi Party, country band The Good Ol' Boys and, not to mention, the sheer tally of cops, all in hot pursuit. It's riotously over the top and when the film reaches it's denouement it has already crossed the ridiculous border but Landis and Aykroyd know this. They simply don't care. And that's what makes the film so enjoyable. There's an unashamedly free-spirited nature to the proceedings which is highly infectious but nothing entertains more than the magnificent musical numbers from a choice selection of Soul and R&B talents. Among the many toe-tapping highlights are Aretha Franklin's "Think", Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher", John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and the great Ray Charles with "Shake a Tail Feather".
The Blues Brothers has stood the test of time and truly is one of a kind. It's provides action, laughs and song and dance numbers that haven't aged a bit. It's admittedly raucous, loud and chaotic but as far as I'm concerned, anything goes when you're "on a mission from God".