Tag Archives: Virginia Madsen

Candyman (1992) Review

Candyman - 1992

Candyman

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains violence
Cast:
Virginia Madsen as Henry Lyle
Tony Todd as Daniel Robitaille/Candyman
Xander Berkeley as Trevoy Lyle
Kasi Lemmons as Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Walsh
Director: Bernard Rose

Intrigued by local legends, Helen (Virginia Madsen) investigates the myths and superstitions surrounding the one-armed Candyman (Tony Todd). However, she confronts her worst nightmare when a series of murders start taking place.

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With a follow up to the original Candyman meant to be coming, I had decided that I should check it out. I had heard about the horror movie for some but only knew a small number of things about it, such as that the Candyman had a hook, he’s summoned if you say his name 5 times in front of a mirror, and that somehow bees were involved. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, I went in blind and it turned out to be actually pretty great. It’s an effectively creepy horror movie but also had some layers to it that I wasn’t really expecting.

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Based off a short story “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker, Candyman is certainly one of the more unique movies of the slasher genre. The first half of the movie is Virginia Madsen’s character doing some investigating of the Candyman and his history, and I was on board with it. Movies about urban myths don’t always work, but it actually works to great effect here. It also leads to an insane second act, which I won’t talk about too much as it is better watching the movie without knowing too much. While it is a slasher movie, it’s not as focused on the violence and death compared to other slasher movies (especially around the time of its release), even though it can be quite brutal and gory. At the same time, it does a very good job at getting under your skin and creeping you out. Not only is it a good horror movie, but it’s layered in social, economic and racial themes, that give this movie so much more. It thematically rich and there’s a lot to explore in this movie, and it is genuinely creepy at the same time. At an hour and 40 minutes in length I was invested in the story from beginning to end.

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Virginia Madsen is good in the lead role, you are on board with her as she tries to unravel the mystery of the Candyman. While you don’t see him often, Tony Todd is great and nothing short of iconic as Candyman. He has such an incredible on-screen presence, and you even feel him always there when he’s not on screen, his voice is a huge part of that. The character himself is also fantastic, I won’t go into it too much for those who don’t know it, but he has a well put together backstory. The rest of the cast are pretty good too.

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Candyman was directed very well by Bernard Rose. It’s a great looking movie, the cinematography from Anthony B. Richmond really sucks you in. There are some gruesome and unforgettable imagery, and not only when it comes to the death scenes. The makeup effects are fantastic. One of the highlights of the film was actually the score by Phillip Glass, which is nothing short of euphoric. The score was truly something special and added a lot to the movie, giving an incredibly eerie atmospheric feel throughout.

Candyman - 1992

Candyman was far better than what I was expecting it to be. It’s a well made horror movie, with an unsettling yet subversive and thematic script and story, it’s directed exceptionally well, and the cast are great, especially Tony Todd. It’s been on my mind ever since I watched it, and has held up very well considering it came out in 1992. It is definitely worth watching, especially if you are a horror fan. I’m very interested to see how the new Candyman movie will turn out.

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.

Joy (2015) Review

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Joy

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano
Robert De Niro as Rudy Mangano
Edgar Ramirez as Tony Miranne
Diane Ladd as Mimi
Virginia Madsen as Terri Mangano
Isabella Rossellini as Trudy
Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker
Director: David O. Russell

A story of a family across four generations, centred on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

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Joy was a movie which didn’t initially interest me because its premise wasn’t very interesting but its cast and its director made me curious about it. Before watching it, I noticed it hadn’t gotten quite the praise that David O. Russell’s previous films have received and had mixed reviews. After seeing it I can say that while it’s not a bad movie, Joy was a little disappointing. The performances, particularly from Jennifer Lawrence was good, the direction was decent and the writing for the character of Joy is good. But the writing for the overall story wasn’t always strong and the supporting characters were too two dimensional, which really brought the movie down.

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The plot for this movie was fine, it wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t invested in what was going on as much as I should’ve. The movie is also a little shaky at the start, it didn’t really know how to start off the movie. Eventually the movie did fix itself over time and it knew what sort of movie it was going for. The writing for the character of Joy is great (which elevated Jennifer Lawrence’s performance), the same can’t be said for the other characters. These supporting characters felt too much like movie characters and never did feel like real people, which is a real shame since David O. Russell is usually great at having interesting characters. A lot of the time, many of the scenes with these supporting characters got annoying as they really were just generic movie characters with no real rhyme or reason for their actions.

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Jennifer Lawrence as Joy is definitely the best part of the whole movie and she had the benefit of having the best interesting writing. Joy is the most complex, interesting, entertaining and likable character in the movie, in fact she’s probably the only likable character in this movie. Even though I had issues with the writing of the characters, the supporting actors like Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper gave good performances with what they have. It’s just a shame that their characters aren’t as well written as they should be.

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Even with all its flaws, one thing I can say is that this film is well directed and the technical side of the movie is pretty good. The look was great and the style was also pretty good and worked for the film, which I think is something that David O. Russell is great at, it’s strange that he couldn’t do that with everything else.

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Joy isn’t by any means a bad movie. It does have some good performances, most notably from Jennifer Lawrence but the writing was quite flawed, not as interesting as it should be and had very underdeveloped and surprisingly one dimensional supporting characters. It is a little disappointing considering that I loved Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, both of them previous David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro collaborations. I will say that if you’re going to see this movie watch it for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, because the movie on the whole is quite flawed.