Tag Archives: 1996

Bound (1996) Review

msdboun_ec017-2000

Bound

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] 
Cast:
Gina Gershon as Corky
Jennifer Tilly as Violet
Joe Pantoliano as Caesar
John Ryan as Mickey Malnato
Director: Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski

Violet (Jennifer Tilly), the mistress of the gangster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano), is in a torrid love affair with Corky (Gina Gershon). For Violet to dump Caesar, they formulate a plan to rob millions of dollars of stashed mob cash, blaming him for it.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I had watched all of the films from directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski except for their first film, Bound, which I heard was really good. I really didn’t know much about this movie going in. However it was great, and I think it might actually be their best film yet.

image

Bound’s plot is relatively simple, yet quite effective and handled very well. It is essentially a modern noir, but with aspects that make it stand out. Its script is meticulously refined, the characters are more than just mere caricatures, and the relationship between the lead characters is well realised. Bound does seem to have a selling point with the lead character being lesbians, but it’s not the only thing that the film is about, while making that storyline feel very human and believable. The movie actually has a creative take on a whole lot of stale genre tropes, playing with gender and femme fatal cliches and subverting them. At the same time there are a lot of enjoyable noir elements on display, there’s a good balance of satisfying and subverting tropes. The pacing is electric, and the plot and characters are always in motion. The film has a lot of energy, and between the snappy dialogue, the scenes of tensions and suspense, there is so much going on. The first act’s slow build of tension is done to really sell Corky and Violet’s relationship and motivation into doing what they do for the rest of the movie. Then the second and third acts deliver a lot of suspenseful moments that are unpredictable, which are made even more tense given that most of them take place in a claustrophobic setting. The film does have some very cheesy dialogue, especially in the first act, but so does a lot of classic noirs. That’s also not to mention that there is a general self awareness throughout, so the cheesiness doesn’t seem out of place. The humour actually plays nicely together with the building of tension, and they have a satisfying payoff. Something that is impressive, especially given that its their first movie, is that the Wachowskis don’t compromise with any of its aspects, whether it’s the illustration of a lesbian affair, or the surprisingly brutal violence which the movie shows unflinchingly. It’s bold for a debut, and they definitely showed themselves as bold filmmakers with this one movie.

Bound-1996

This movie is also perfectly cast and well-acted. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly are perfect in the lead roles of Corky and Violet respectively, they give amazing performances and have great chemistry as we watch their romance grow throughout the movie. They are believable as two lovers trying to make their ways out, especially with Violet trying to escape from her gangster boyfriend played by Joe Pantoliano. Speaking of which, Pantoliano could almost be seen as a third lead in this movie and this might be the best I’ve seen him in a movie. He kind of steals the show as a paranoid mob thug who’s at times entertaining and hilarious and other times threatening.

29751

As said earlier, Bound is the debut film from the Wachowskis, and this has to be one of the most confident debut movies I’ve seen from first time directors. It’s directed incredibly well and in such a stylish way, you can pick up on some iconic stylistic choices and see how it would influence their later movies. It is great seeing the Wachowskis work with a smaller scope instead of the big and grandiose action and sci-fi genres and stories that they are known for. It is small in scope but is so polished at the same time. It has a low budget of $6 million but every technical aspect is perfect. Bill Pope shoots this movie incredibly well, and the camera work with the high angle shots and close up shots felt very professional for a debut film. The editing is great and adds tension when needed, especially in the last two third of the movie. It is very well scored by Don Davis (who would also compose the scores for the Matrix movies), and the sound design fits well for this simplistic story.

Bound-tilly-drying-money

Bound is a bold and confident debut from Lana and Lilly Wachowski, and a great movie in itself. The acting particularly from Tilly, Gershon and Pantoliano is great, the story is tight and captivating, and it’s directed very well. As much as the Wachowskis are known for their big budget movies, I would love to see them work with smaller scale material again. At this point, I’m pretty sure Bound is my favourite movie from them so far.

Bottle Rocket (1996) Review

3Fa0XjSyuyDrlVyYmbbten3nojg[1]

Bottle Rocket

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Luke Wilson as Anthony Adams
Owen Wilson as Dignan
Robert Musgrave as Bob Mapplethorpe
James Caan as Abe Henry
Lumi Cavazos as Inez
Andrew Wilson as Jon Mapplethorpe/Future Man
Director: Wes Anderson

A group of friends hatches a plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run. However, their ensuing escapade turns out to be far from what anyone expected.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I had been meaning to watch all of Wes Anderson’s films for some time, I’ve only seen about half of his filmography, and recently I decided to watch through all of it from the very beginning, starting with Bottle Rocket. Wes Anderson has one of the most distinct filmmaking styles that I’ve seen from a director, and I was interested to see how he has evolved over the years. Bottle Rocket really wasn’t what I was expected, even as his debut movie, but I really liked it. It was enjoyable, entertaining, and I’m glad that I watched it.

bottle-rocket-ladron-que-roba-a-ladron[1]

The script written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson works pretty well. The story was probably the weakest part of the movie, even though it’s reasonably decent for what it is. Bottle Rocket is an hour and half minutes long, for the most part it is paced well, and does well enough to keep you invested throughout. The first and third acts are pretty strong. However, it does slow down quite a bit in the middle section, and there’s a romance subplot that it focuses on quite a lot, which didn’t have me that interested. Although the plot does involve heists, it was about the characters first and foremost, and the movie definitely benefited from that. The dialogue is well written, and definitely was partly key to making the movie work as well as it did. Much of the writing isn’t quite what you’d expect from a Wes Anderson movie, and that’s especially when it comes to the dialogue. However, you can see certain elements that would later evolve into some of his trademarks, with the comedy, quirky characters and the like. The comedy is particularly great, with perfect timing and executions, making it quite a fun movie to watch.

Bottle+Rocket-Owen+Wilson-Luke+Wilson-Robert+Musgrave[1]

The cast all worked really well in their roles, they interacted with each other really well, and had wonderful comedic timing. Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson are the main actors of the movie and they are great, with really believable on screen chemistry. Owen Wilson was particularly great, and you can clearly see why he collaborated with Wes Anderson so much (and he was even involved with the writing along with Anderson).

bottle-rocket-owen-wilson[1]

Like I mentioned earlier when it comes to the writing, if you watch Wes Anderson’s other movies and then look at Bottle Rocket, they very clearly don’t seem at first that similar, and that extends to the direction too. His familiar trademarks aren’t quite on display, for example the framing and editing of the shots, and the very distinct style that he has in films like Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom isn’t quite there yet. However, you do seem some glimpses of that in this movie, such as some of the use of colour and the great music choices. With this being his first film, you can tell that Anderson is that this point still figuring his own style out, however it’s pretty great for a first film.

bottle-rocket-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000[1]

I feel pretty confident in calling Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson’s weakest film even though I admittedly haven’t seen all of his movies yet. However, it’s still a pretty good movie as it is. Anderson’s writing is really good, his direction was solid and showed promise, the cast were all great in their parts, and really I had a fun time with it. It is worth watching for sure, especially if you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s films.

Romeo + Juliet (1996) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague
Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet/Juliet Capulet-Montague
Brian Dennehy as Ted Montague
John Leguizamo as Tybalt Capulet
Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence
Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet
Diane Venora as Gloria Capulet
Director: Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann helped adapt this classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy for the screen, updating the setting to a post-modern city named Verona Beach. In this version, the Capulets and the Montagues are two rival gangs. Juliet (Claire Danes) is attending a costume ball thrown by her parents. Her father Fulgencio Capulet (Paul Sorvino) has arranged her marriage to the boorish Paris (Paul Rudd) as part of a strategic investment plan. Romeo attends the masked ball and he and Juliet fall in love.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I am not a fan of Romeo and Juliet (the play). I myself have studied it in English and while I can appreciate the impact that it’s made, I’m just not really into it. I am even less of a fan of the 90’s Romeo and Juliet movie by director Baz Luhrmann. The whole movie just irritated me from start to finish, and while it’s not one of the worst movies I’ve seen by any means, I really hated watching it.

One of the significant changes that Luhrmann has made was that this movie is pretty much set in the 90s. It did feel really weird with everyone speaking Shakespearian dialogue in modern day. With that said, Shakespeare’s plays can generally be translated into any time period, at least in terms of story. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Romeo and Juliet though, despite Luhrmann’s best attempts to making the movie make sense in the modern time period. For example, when technology like phones exist, it really makes you question why things didn’t happen differently, particularly towards the end (AKA, Juliet could’ve texted Romeo what was happening and so the whole tragedy could’ve been avoided). Otherwise the story is pretty much the same as in the source material, just presented differently.

The acting is quite the mixed bag. Something I’ve noticed is that the line delivery (particularly from the younger cast) is quite quick, and by that I mean they often deliver their lines quickly and it seems like they don’t know what the lines even mean. Claire Danes gives probably the best performance out of the younger cast as Juliet. As a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio… he just wasn’t that great here to me. There are some scenes where he is incredibly over the top, and while that might work for a play, it doesn’t work for a movie, and you just can’t take it that seriously. Towards the end (and I mean like the last scene) he is genuinely good though, and he does have a few legitimately good scenes. Most of the rest of the younger cast are fine enough but are generally okay at best. John Leguizamo was out of place here, he can give good performances but he feels a little miscast here. Paul Rudd is also in this movie. I don’t remember if he was good or not but I remember that he was in the movie. The older cast is quite impressive, much more so than the younger cast, with the likes of Paul Sorvino, Pete Postlethwaite and others giving some really solid performances.

The part that annoys me most about this movie is the direction by Baz Luhrmann. The style is so fast paced and in your face, and it got extremely obnoxious really quickly. I swear, this is the fastest I’ve disliked a movie, it took under 2 minutes. Luhrmann doesn’t always use this style, he’s done The Great Gatsby without having all of that, even during the party sequences. Even Moulin Rouge (another one of his movies I dislike) seemed to have more of a reason to have this crazy style than Romeo and Juliet. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t some good moments. The well known fish tank scene is one of the better additions to the movie, it doesn’t require any over the top and in your face elements, it’s rather subtle. Ironically that’s when the movie is at its best, but it feels like the movie is constantly trying to not be that. Something I realised watching this movie, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, is that Luhrmann is way better when he’s not directing over the top and crazy moments. His quieter moments are genuinely effective and great.

Romeo + Juliet really irks me, it just flat out has everything that usually annoys me in a movie from it’s over the top and hyperactive direction, editing and sometimes acting, however I know that this will appeal to some people. Honestly, I can’t even guess as to what audience will like Romeo and Juliet. It seems to have a mixed reaction, some people love it, others hate it and I fit in with the latter crowd. I guess to figure it out, watch a trailer or some clips and if you’re into what you’ve seen, then give it a watch, you may end up loving it.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains violence
Cast:
George Clooney as Seth Gecko
Quentin Tarantino as Richard “Richie” Gecko
Harvey Keitel as Jacob Fuller
Juliette Lewis as Katherine Fuller
Ernest Liu as Scott Fuller
Salma Hayek as Santanico Pandemonium
Cheech Marin as Border Guard/Chet Pussy/Carlos
Danny Trejo as Razor Charlie
Tom Savini as Sex Machine
Director: Robert Rodriguez

On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid, loose-cannon brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I remember watching From Dusk Till Dawn years ago, it had a big reputation for starting off as a crime movie and then halfway through turns into a bloodbath of a vampire movie. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to me, I knew that going in. And in knowing that, it really worked for me and was a very entertaining movie. It’s a violent and bloody grindhouse/B movie that’s a lot of fun.

From Dusk Till Dawn is a very B movie and it wholeheartedly embraces that. As I said, From Dusk Till Dawn is known for basically being two halves of very different movies. The first half is a violent crime movie (probably a typical Tarantino crime film) following the Gecko Brothers (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) as they take a family hostage. The second half is a bloodbath of a vampire movie. I guess I would hide this as for some it was an absolute surprise but its practically a well known fact at this point that it’s not really worth it. As for which half you’ll prefer, I don’t really know. I will say that going in I was more expecting the vampire movie, so I was kind of waiting for that section to come up for a while. Quentin Tarantino wrote the script and you can really feel like it’s his writing throughout, especially with the dialogue. In a way, Tarantino’s writing and Rodriguez’s direction were a perfect match for this kind of story.

The cast for the most part does well. George Clooney gives quite possibly my favourite performance of his. Gone is the charismatic and charming Clooney that would be appear in even his criminal roles like Danny Ocean, here he is a straight up ruthless criminal who still remains likable despite it. Quentin Tarantino despite being a very talented writer and director does get a bit of a bad wrap when it comes to his acting, especially in this movie. I personally think he was actually alright here, no he’s not really that great of an actor but his character Richard Gecko who’s an unstable psychopath, he pulls it off well enough. Maybe other actors could play the part and do it better but he does the job okay. The hostage family is played by Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and Ernest Liu, who really play the only redeemable characters in the whole movie, and they did quite well (although Liu is a cut below Keitel and Lewis). We do get some other actors in smaller roles but do their part to stand out, with Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin and Tom Savini being some of them. And of course we have Salma Hayek, who is only in a couple scenes but is one of the most memorable parts of the movie (granted its mostly because of a dance she does around the halfway point but still).

Robert Rodriguez directs this movie, and as typical of (non Spy Kids) Rodriguez, the action is entertaining and really bloody. Early on, when the violence is present, its bloody but it’s kind of disturbing at the same time. In the vampire segment however, it goes really over the top with the gore and its just really entertaining to watch. There is a lot of practical effects used for the gore and its very creative and impressive. These representations of vampires aren’t the Dracula kind of vampires, these are the absolutely grotesque and monstrous kind of vampires. The reason that this movie didn’t get an NC-17 rating is that they turned the vampire blood from red to green, and I guess it worked (and made it stand apart from the other representations of vampires even more).

From Dusk Till Dawn probably isn’t for everyone. The switch from crime to horror in the halfway point did put off some people, you might end up digging one segment much more than the other, I can’t say for certain. If you’re up for a weird and violent action horror movie written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez however, I’d say give it a go.

Mission Impossible (1996) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Jon Voight as Jim Phelps
Emmanuelle Béart as Claire Phelps
Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell
Vanessa Redgrave as Max
Henry Czerny as Eugene Kittridge
Jean Reno as Franz Krieger
Kristin Scott Thomas as Sarah Davies
Director: Brian de Palma

When U.S. government operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his mentor, Jim Phelps (Jon Voight), go on a covert assignment that takes a disastrous turn, Jim is killed, and Ethan becomes the prime murder suspect. Now a fugitive, Hunt recruits brilliant hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and maverick pilot Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) to help him sneak into a heavily guarded CIA building to retrieve a confidential computer file that will prove his innocence.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Mission Impossible was originally a tv series that started in the 80s, about a team of secret agents pulling off jobs. TV to movie adaptations could so easily turn out badly but director Brian de Palma and co. managed to pull it off. It’s not one of my favourites from the Mission Impossible series but it is still quite solid, and I do appreciate it, especially how it would lead onto some even better movies (for the most part).

Generally the Mission Impossible movies does have some plots where you kind of need to pay attention to what is going on, but with this first film in particular it is essential. All the later movies would have more of an emphasise on action, but here it’s the opposite, there aren’t many action scenes, in fact there’s just one. It’s more of an espionage focussed movie. The team dynamic, which would play a part in the other Mission Impossible movies (with the exception of Mission Impossible 2) are present in 2 prominent sequences in this first movie, but outside of that, doesn’t play a huge part in the overall part. The movie is an hour and 50 minutes long, its much slower paced and I’d be lying if I said that I was completely invested from start to finish. It goes in and out of being interesting to me. Honestly I don’t have much to say about the plot, it’s fine enough.

This is the movie that launched Tom Cruise into becoming an action star. Ethan Hunt would grow to have a bigger range as a character in later movies (after 3) and here he’s not really a deep character but Cruise does add a lot here. Along with his impressive stunts (showing how committed he is and would be in the years to come), Cruise is good when portraying Hunt in scenes when he’s at the top of his game and also when he’s vulnerable in certain situations. We spend more time with Ethan Hunt’s newer team members, which are played by Ving Rhames and Jean Reno, both are good. Rhames as Luther Stickell in particular is great, he’s likable, he’s funny, he’s so good in fact that he would then star in every Mission Impossible movie following the first film, and that can’t be said about any other character in the series aside from Ethan Hunt. Other actors like John Voight, Emmanuelle Beart and Vanessa Redgrave are also good.

For a while, the tradition for the Mission Impossible movies was that each film in the series would be directed by a different person, and with each Mission Impossible film you can really see each director lend their style to the film. Brian de Palma directed the first film and his work is very effective here. It surprised me how well some of this movie holds up, not all of it does (like some of the technology) but for what de Palma was going for with this movie, he really pulled it off. The film really showcases the team and the planning of the jobs really well. A highlight was the sequence where Cruise is hanging from the ceiling and is trying to steal something, it’s a very tense scene that is really effective to this day. There’s like maybe one action scene in the movie (the train scene at the end) and it’s really great, it feels like you’re right there as everything is going on. Some of the special effects don’t hold up but that can be overlooked. The score by Danny Elfman was pretty good, but the main theme which is based off the theme from the original series is very memorable, and would continue to return in later Mission Impossible movies and go through some evolution.

Despite what the series is like now, the original Mission Impossible is actually rather different. If you haven’t watched this movie before and only watched the later movies, it can be quite jarring. It can be slower paced, it’s not consistently interesting and entertaining but it’s got a lot of good to it at the same time, and it is still worth watching. I think there are better Mission Impossible movies but the original is still rather solid.