Tag Archives: 1984 movies

Blood Simple (1984) Review

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Blood Simple

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
John Getz as Ray
Frances McDormand as Abby
Dan Hedaya as Julian Marty
M. Emmet Walsh as Lorren Visser
Samm-Art Williams as Meurice
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

A man (Dan Hedaya) hires detectives to find out whether or not his wife (Frances McDormand) has been cheating on him. He orders the detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to kill her off if his suspicions turn out to be true.

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I knew of Blood Simple as being the first film from Joel and Ethan Coen, I liked a lot of their movies so I wanted to check it out. In all honesty I wasn’t really expecting much from it, despite hearing some positive things about it. However Blood Simple was a good film along with being a great debut movie from the pair.

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Blood Simple is a moody and seedy crime thriller, and an effective neo-noir. You can actually see glimpses of what the Coen Brothers would do later on in their careers, especially with the writing style. Tonally it does lean more into their serious crime work like No Country for Old Men, despite featuring some dark humour. While this movie doesn’t have the memorable characters or amazing dialogue you’d find in the Coen Brothers’ later movies, the writing is still great, so was the dialogue. The plot is simple enough and isn’t too expository, while playing around with characters perspectives. It is one of their most suspenseful movies, with the feelings of anxiety and paranoia gradually increasing over the course of the movie, and the plot wasn’t predictable. The final act is particularly tense. There are also little bits of dark humour blended in earlier in the movie. I will say that the characters in this movie aren’t exactly great, especially when compared to the characters in the Coen’s other films. All the characters are simple with like one trait each. So although the performances are good, I didn’t really care for the characters. It does take its time getting into the movie because the pacing is quite slow despite the fact that it is 90 minutes long, but I settled into it eventually.

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As I just said, the characters aren’t as memorable or impressive, at least when compared to the other characters that the Coen Brothers have written in other movies. Nonetheless, the performances are great. Frances McDormand gives an excellent performance in one of her early roles. M. Emmet Walsh is also impressive as the private investigator, who initially comes across as an unlikable goofball, but also turns menacing, and he balances both aspects of his character very well. The acting definitely makes up for the actual writing of the characters.

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The direction perfectly compliments the writing, and Blood Simple was a stylish and technically impressive debut that feels assured. The budget is definitely on the lower side at around $1.5 million, and it’s not as polished as their later work but you sort of expect it. It is gorgeously shot and has some great cinematography from Barry Sonnenfeld, from the camerawork and movements to the lighting and the use of neon. The scenes of tension and violence are also excellently crafted, with the final sequence being one of the most thrilling sequences that the Coen Brothers have ever filmed. Carter Burwell’s score is also memorable and really captures the film’s essence.

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The Coen Brothers have definitely made better movies than Blood Simple, but it is a very assured and solid directorial debut, and one that contains all the ingredients that made their later films so great. If you are a fan of them as writers and directors then it’s definitely worth watching, but it’s also worth watching if you are a fan of crime and noir thrillers in general.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott
Amrish Puri as Mola Ram
Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal
Philip Stone as Captain Philip Blumburtt
Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1935, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) arrives in India, still part of the British Empire, and is asked to find a mystical stone. He then stumbles upon a secret cult committing enslavement and human sacrifices in the catacombs of an ancient palace.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark released back in 1981 had made a big impact on pop culture and cinema as a whole, and it made Indiana Jones a household name. The first and third movies are my favourites of the series by far, while Temple of Doom has always been a little weird to me. Even when I was younger,, there were some parts I really wasn’t sure about despite me liking this movie. Re-watching it again, I feel pretty much feel the same and have a ton of issues, but at the same time there’s a lot of good parts to it.

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From the very beginning you can tell that this is a very different movie to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and indeed it is different from the other movies. First of all, it is noticeably darker on many levels. People who know me know that I really like darker movies, however the way things are handled here wasn’t exactly the best. I’m not one to get overreactive over dark this movie should or shouldn’t be, nor would I complain about it probably not suitable for children or anything. At the very least though, the way it seems like the movie is trying to be more reactive and edgy than actually organic for the story when it comes to these darker aspects. Child slavery, pulling hearts out of chests, and even the attempts at gross out elements at certain points with bugs feels like it’s trying way too hard to get a reaction. However the problem is not just that, Temple of Doom is also quite an annoying movie, and it takes quite a lot for me to be annoyed with a movie, especially with an Indiana Jones film. Whether it be Kate Capshaw’s character, some certain silliness with the plot, and the humour, which to be blunt was mostly dumb and annoying. Because of this, this just makes it hard for me to get invested in the movie. However even if you just look at it on a plot level, it just wasn’t very interesting, and honestly it was rather weak. Jones happening to come across this poor village and needing to retrieve a sacred stone to restore things for them, and that’s it. And now the topic I’ve been avoiding for a bit, the racism. I’m not going to go too much into it given that so much has already been said about it, except that there’s quite a lot of it in this movie, and it’s pretty hard to look past it. I will say this about the movie, as it approaches the climax in the third act it does get better and much more entertaining, even with its more annoying and silly aspects.

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Harrison Ford has still very much got it when it comes to the role of Indiana Jones, and plays his role very well as to be expected. However it’s worth noting that given all of the movie’s issues (and there are many), Ford manages to carry the movie throughout. Kate Capshaw plays the love interest in Willie Scott. I haven’t really seen Capshaw in anything and I don’t blame her for her performance here, because the character is beyond terrible and annoying on so many levels. Willie screams a lot, has to be rescued a lot, and basically does nothing throughout the movie save for like two times. I get that she’s meant to be in contrast to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they really overdid it, and she’s absolutely insufferable from beginning to end. It doesn’t help that she’s basically a tag along, she has absolutely no reason to be there (compared to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Irina in The Last Crusade), and Indy could’ve even ditched her way earlier in the movie (no idea why he kept her around to begin with). Even Capshaw said found the character to be nothing more than a “dumb screaming blonde and a damsel in distress”. Honestly when I think of the movie she is one of the first things I think of, and that’s not a good thing. There’s also the character of Short Round played by Jonathan Ke Quan, who can honestly be quite annoying at points, but compared to Willie wasn’t so bad (and he actually did some things at points). The villain of the movie is Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, a cult leader basically. He’s alright enough as an antagonist but outside of him being different from the other Indiana Jones villains and him pulling hearts out of peoples’ chests, I don’t think is very memorable.

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Despite some very questionable stylistic and directing choices that don’t work all that well, generally the direction by Steven Spielberg is good. On a technical level it is great, from the production design, the costumes, the effects, the way it is shot all of it is done rather well. As I said the 3rd act is where the movie really picks up, and a big part of that is the action. There are some quite effective action sequences, the stunt work is impressive, and there are some effective and tense moments. Indiana Jones has never been known as a realistic series, and when it comes to plausibility it’s as silly as you’d expect it to be. The only bit that really stuck out as being particularly dumb was one of which was a scene early on that involves falling out of a plane. John Williams’s score is great as usual, and has some very memorable themes.

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a bit of an odd movie. It has its strong moments for sure, much of the direction from Spielberg is still good, and of course Harrison Ford is great as Indiana Jones. However it had some issues, so many parts of it were really annoying when it came to the plot, characters and humour, the story just didn’t interest me all that much, and of course it had the racism and sexism. With all that said, all of the Indiana Jones movies are certainly worth watching and that extends to Temple of Doom.

Dune (1984) Review

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Dune (1984)

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica
Leonardo Cimino as the Baron’s Doctor
Brad Dourif as Piter De Vries
José Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV
Linda Hunt as the Shadout Mapes
Freddie Jones as Thufir Hawat
Richard Jordan as Duncan Idaho
Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides
Virginia Madsen as Princess Irulan
Silvana Mangano as Reverend Mother Ramallo
Everett McGill as Stilgar
Kenneth McMillan as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Jack Nance as Nefud
Siân Phillips as Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam
Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides
Paul Smith as The Beast Rabban
Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck
Sting as Feyd Rautha
Dean Stockwell as Doctor Wellington Yueh
Max von Sydow as Doctor Kynes
Alicia Roanne Witt as Alia
Sean Young as Chani
Director: David Lynch

In the year 10191, a spice called melange is the most valuable substance known in the universe, and its only source is the desert planet Arrakis. A royal decree awards Arrakis to Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) and ousts his bitter enemies, the Harkonnens. However, when the Harkonnens violently seize back their fiefdom, it is up to Paul (Kyle MacLachlan), Leto’s son, to lead the Fremen, the natives of Arrakis, in a battle for control of the planet and its spice. Based on Frank Herbert’s epic novel.

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I’ve heard about Dune for some time, especially that it was David Lynch directing a movie based on the influential novel, and had been meaning to watch it at some point. With Denis Villeneuve’s version coming however, I was felt that the time was right to watch Lynch’s version. Dune certainly was an ambitious book to adapt for the big screen. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work out all that well, even Lynch himself didn’t have a good time making the movie, mostly due to the studio interference that went on during the movie. Still, I liked what I saw.

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I haven’t read Frank Herbert’s Dune, so I can’t comment on how well it was adapted to the big screen. A lot of adaptations of books can suffer from not being able to cover everything in its story and having to condense it down quite a bit, but that especially feels the case with this movie. It certainly feels like there’s a lot missing from the movie, even at 2 hours and 15 minutes. The last half of the story particularly feels quite rushed. One of the biggest mistakes was the use of narration, it’s used not only to explain a lot of the background and worldbuilding but it’s mainly used to reveal their inner thoughts. It was already quite a bit much with Kyle MacLachlan, but there’s narration from multiple characters about their feelings and it quickly becomes annoying. The exposition dumps were also pretty bad, the film literally opens with a floating head narrator shoving so much information onto you, and it is just a mess. Additionally, I wasn’t particularly interested in the characters or the story, I was just following what was going on.

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Dune has got a large cast, including Kyle MacLachlan, Patrick Stewart, Brad Dourif, Max von Sydow. Sean Young and Sting. Generally I remember the cast being alright, but they are constrained by the characters being not particularly well written or interesting. However, they do what they can.

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David Lynch is a great director and we know this from many of his other movies like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet and The Elephant Man. With that said, while I haven’t seen all of his movies, when most people say that Dune is easily his weakest movie, I believe that. At the same time, I think it has got a lot of things going for it, and I even liked some of the choices that Lynch made. The production designs and costumes definitely go all out on the craziness. I haven’t read the book so I’m not sure if the designs are supposed to resemble how they look in Lynch’s movie, but looking at it all as its own thing, I liked it in a campy and over the top sci-fi way. The visual effects however don’t hold up well. Some are a little dated, other parts look so absurdly dated that I can’t imagine that it looked particularly good even for the 80s.

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David Lynch’s Dune is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. Some of the direction didn’t work so well, and while the ideas are there, they weren’t executed the best. I think mainly that Dune just wasn’t ready to be made into a movie that early on, and at 2 hour and 15 minutes long it wasn’t quite enough. However, I don’t regret watching it, and I even enjoyed it for what it was. I will say that what benefited my experience of this movie was knowing that Villeneuve’s version would be coming and imagining how many of these concepts would be delivered by him (I even started imagining some of the characters in Lynch’s Dune played by the actors cast in Denis’s version). 1984 Dune doesn’t succeed all that well, but I think it’s worth a watch at the very least.