Tag Archives: Jack Nicholson

The Shining (1980) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance
Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance
Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance
Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

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I once saw The Shining some years ago, I really liked it and really appreciated the impact that it had on the horror genre and cinema as a whole. With the adaptation of the follow up to the book written by Stephen King coming in November, Doctor Sleep, I felt a rewatch was needed. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining had a bit of a mixed reaction upon its release in 1980, however, over time it started to receive some love and nearly 4 decades on now, The Shining is a horror classic today, and for good very reason.

I will say that Kubrick’s The Shining isn’t the best when it comes to it being an adaptation. Stephen King seems to generally like the adaptations of his work, but The Shining is the exception and I can kind of see why. The movie has the general story of the novel, but it plays around with a lot of the plot, characters and how the story is handled. It’s much less a ghost story and much more psychological. There’s also a lot of other aspects that are different, but I won’t go into all that. In that sense, I’m looking at this movie as its own thing, not as an adaptation. If you wanted a more accurate on screen representation, there’s a mini series out there (and from what I heard it’s not that good). Now there are two different cuts of the movie, I more recently saw the shorter version and I can’t remember if I watched the longer version on the first viewing. The plot is rather straight forward, and while it does feature aspects like psychic abilities with The Shining (which Danny has), for the most part the movie is a psychological thriller. It slowly builds up the tension and uneasiness, amps it up in the second half, and in the 3rd act turns into a pure nightmare. It really builds on top of each other as the 3 main characters start going insane over time, particularly Jack (Nicholson). The only other thing that I’d say is that the ending felt a little abrupt, and like there needed to be one more brief scene before the last scene, then again maybe the director’s cut has something extra at the end as well. On that note, so much of this movie is left up to the viewers’ interpretations, especially with the ending. So each person will probably get something different out of it from each other.

Jack Nicholson really was great in the role of Jack Torrance, and his work here has been cemented as one of the most iconic and memorable performances in a horror movie. A lot of the time he can go really over the top and almost a little comedic (intentional or not), but more often than not it’s the more infamous moments (like the now iconic “Here’s Johnny”). Looking at the movie more recently, highly quoted scenes aside, for the most part he seems genuinely unstable and of course knowing Nicholson, he pulls that off fantastically. He never seems right, even before he goes all axe murder you get the feeling that he might already have a screw loose. The only thing that can be said is that his Jack Torrance is quite different from the book’s version. Much of the book has Jack starting out normal and over time going insane. Here, Jack seems already pretty crazy and only gets worse once he arrives at the Hotel. Shelley Duvall gets a bit of a bad wrap for her performance as Wendy, especially in the second half of the movie when she’s terrified. As it turns out it wasn’t even really acting, you can look into it yourself, but long story short let’s just say that Kubrick pushed her quite a bit (large understatement there). There is a certain way that people acted when they’re scared in horror movies and so her performance can seem a little off and over the top, but it actually works for the movie. After all a lot of the movie is over the top anyway. It’s the most genuinely terrified performance I’ve seen from anyone in a horror movie, pushed past the absolute limit. It’s probably one of the most underrated horror performances honestly, even just because of how much underserving hate it had been receiving. Danny Lloyd is also good as the son Danny, who has The Shining, a psychic ability. It might be a random thing to note, but on my most recent viewing I noticed that in terms of horrified expressions in horror movies, his is among the best, it looked like absolute genuine terror. The rest of the cast don’t have more than a few scenes but I guess they do well in their small screentime. Scatman Crothers is only in a few scenes as Dick Hallorann, but he does very well, especially with helping us take the whole concept of ‘The Shining’ seriously.

Stanley Kubrick’s direction is always fantastic, and his work on The Shining is pretty much perfect. He really sets you at this location at the Overlook Hotel. It’s a stunning movie, with the camera movements, angles, the colours of the environment and the environment itself. The camera pans, zoom ins and zoom outs are very effective and really added to the movie a ton. One of the stand out scenes in The Shining in terms of directing was when the camera follows Danny on a Big Wheel around the hotel, it’s not broken by any sort of cuts and builds up a tension as we don’t know what he (and by extension us) is going to see next when he makes a turn. Kubrick manages to make you feel uneasy, even when you know that nothing bad is going to happen just yet. Personally I’m not scared of this movie, but personally I’d say that more effective horror scenes usually involved a lot of quick cuts and zoom ins, there are a few of these moments throughout and it did a good job at making you feel uneasy to say the least. There are so many now iconic images that has forever been burned into the memories of viewers, the blood coming out of the elevator, the maze, the twin sisters, and so on. The music and sounds effects are also great. It ranges from sombre and eerie to screeching (particularly in the third act).

The Shining is a horror classic for a reason, and honestly talking about it was a little hard, considering how redundant it felt given that it’s been talked to death for decades, there’s nothing I could’ve said that hasn’t been said already. The acting from its cast is great, and Stanley Kubrick’s direction is nothing less than masterful. If you haven’t seen The Shining, you need to get around to it soon because it’s really something significant. Even if you aren’t into horror, if you’re into film as an art form, The Shining is pretty much essential viewing.

Batman (1989) Review



Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker
Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale
Robert Wuhl as Alexander Knox
Pat Hingle as Commissioner Gordon
Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Jack Palance as Carl Grissom
Director: Tim BurtonIn Gotham City, a dark knight known as Batman (Michael Keaton) helps to defeat evil and keep the city’s citizens safe. When Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is transformed into the evil Joker, he promises to take over Gotham City. It is up to Batman to stop him in his tracks before it is too late.

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With Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy being one of the most well-known comic book adaptations of Batman, it’s easy to forget where it started (not including Adam West). Tim Burton’s Batman had an immense impact on many things, culture, superhero movies and movies in general. It still does hold up to this day and even though I like Christopher Nolan’s trilogy more, Batman is still a great film that is worth watching by everyone.


First, what should be mentioned is the differences between Burton’s and Nolan’s take on the Caped Crusader. This film starts out with Batman already existing in Gotham City, we don’t see an origin story of how Bruce Wayne became him. We do eventually learn about his past later on but we don’t learn about it in the order of a usual origins story. It actually shows how The Joker became how he is, whereas the roles are reversed in the Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman is really Joker Begins as opposed to Batman Begins). I like how they showed Batman’s origins in Batman Begins more, but this version works quite well. One other great thing is the tone used, it was a darker sort of movie than most superhero movies at that time (like Superman) and it was really a changer for superhero movies. Batman also has the right around of dark comedy infused (mostly with The Joker), which is something that Tim Burton is mostly good at.


Michael Keaton was really good as Batman, he is able to play both Bruce Wayne and Batman, which is also something every actor needs to do with every superhero character; they need to be able to play both the person with and without the mask. We don’t see as much of Wayne’s past and he manages to act mysteriously with subtlety. Jack Nicholson was fantastic in the role of The Joker. He is really funny, gleefully evil and he absolutely steals every scene he’s in. It’s like they took The Joker directly out of the comics. Now in comparison to Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, Nicholson’s performance isn’t as realistic or scary, but it doesn’t take away from his enjoyable and entertaining performance. Other actors like Kim Basinger and Michael Gough are also great in their roles.


The look of the film is dark; particularly the set designs such as the city and they suit the movie, Tim Burton can always be trusted to at least get the look right and he does so with flying colours. The action was also pretty good, they aren’t really comparable to modern movies, but back in the days you didn’t really get action scenes like these. The soundtrack by Danny Elfman also suits the tone; it’s dark and brooding and very suitable for the movie.


Apart from the first two Superman movies, no other superhero movies in the 70s and 80s really succeeded in being really great films. Even though I prefer Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in terms of Batman adaptions and comic book movies in general, Batman is still a big part of the history of superhero movies and should be given credit. It is visually great with an interesting story and great acting from everyone. Batman is in my opinion Tim Burton’s best movie and it’s played a significant part in film history.

The Departed (2006)


The Departed

Time: 151 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan
Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan
Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello
Mark Wahlberg as Dignam
Martin Sheen as Queenan
Ray Winstone as Mr French
Vera Farmiga as Madolyn
Alec Baldwin as Ellerby
Director: Martin Scorsese

In South Boston, the state police force is waging war on Irish American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo Dicaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). While Billy quickly gains Costello’s confidence, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the state police as an informer for the syndicate is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the mob and the police that there’s a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy-and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself. Each police officer gives his best effort trying to disclose the identity of the other “rat.”

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Martin Scorsese is no stranger to crime movies as well as not being a stranger to making great engaging movies. The Departed is wonderfully made, excellently edited, has great performances and has an interesting story. All of these things are what I ask for in a movie, which The Departed successfully delivers here.


Despite the fact that this movie is actually a remake of a Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, I won’t compare it because I haven’t watched it. The movie takes many twists and turns and does a good job at showing the events unfold. The plot can be quite complicated so it does require your full attention when watching. The film is filled with that same energy that Scorsese had in films like Goodfellas and Casino. There is always something going on to interest the viewer. The film is long at about 2 hours and a half, so it needs to have an engaging story in order to interest the viewers. Fortunately, it does that and so much more, providing many plot twists that keeps the audience guessing what will happen next.


The acting was really good from everyone they fill their roles perfectly. Both DiCaprio and Damon were really good here as they played characters that were the opposite sides of the spectrum of the other. Their performances were emotionally complex, which made the story more complex than the usual good guy and bad guy type. Jack Nicholson is incredible as Frank Costello who is the mob boss, who is a very sinister and dangerous character. Costello is an unpredictable character and Nicholson channels James Cagney’s performance in White Heat to create a personification of evil. Mark Wahlberg is also fantastic in this movie as Sergeant Dignam; despite him not having many scenes as some of the rest of the cast he delivers some of the best lines and steals the scenes he was in. The characters are well defined and we really feel like we know them, which are done well by the actors.


The setting of Boston and the atmosphere were captured so well. During the film we often we get shots of many locations of Boston. The music was also good and comes from both from the score by Howard Shore and from existing songs, both which fit the moments they are put it, especially the use of The Dropkick Murphy’s’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” during the opening credits.


Smartly written with many complex plots and with great acting, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed delivers as great crime drama. It is one of his best movies and is one of the best crime drama movies I have ever seen. It’s gripping, it’s entertaining, it’s overall a great movie. Check it out when you can.