Zodiac (2007) Take #2

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I feel like shaking things up a little bit so I’m going to write a review on my first re-watch of Zodiac. Sometimes when you re-watch something you pick up on all the things you missed the first time around, whether they’re good or bad, so Zodiac will be appealing its original verdict in hopes of coming out with something a little higher.

Take #1 Verdict: 8/10

I remember the first time I watched this movie I was pleasantly surprised. It held my attention the entire time and it even made me curious enough to read up on the real Zodiac killer. I’m a fan of the who done it, find the perp detective movies and this movie really delivers. It has the right pacing, good characters and acting in general, and has a bit of humour to break the tension. I particularly liked the interactions between Paul and Robert like the discussion about Robert’s office nickname and when Robert orders the Aqua Velva drink, although I’ll never understand people that order a drink and then leave some left in the glass… they wasted so much alcohol. I mean you see the waitress walking away with a couple glasses in her hand and there are some left on the table, I bet that’s almost a full glass that they wasted. And it must not be very strong because neither of them look too drunk after drinking 3-4 glasses each…

But moving on from the weak wasted drinks, something that equally disturbed me on take #2 was the stabbing scene by the lake. I’m not really squeamish when it comes to that kind of thing but I found it incredibly hard to watch. It was entirely too realistic sounding and looking for me to be able to activate my desensitization powers. Yeah so what, I covered my eyes and couldn’t watch it… I’m only human dammit! But one of the things I like about this movie is that the murders were all tastefully done and they didn’t try to gore it up or do it for the shock factor alone. Every scene had its place. However, some of the suspense was lost on take #2, specifically in the basement scene near the end. Obviously for take #1 I had no idea what was going to happen so my eyes were glued to the screen, but I knew Robert wasn’t about to get Zodiac killed this time and I could relax a bit. The rest of the film though was just as enjoyable as I remembered it being the first time around.

David Fincher is making a run at becoming my favourite director because for some reason I end up liking almost all of his movies, with the exception of The Game which was pretty awful. All the main characters were great in their roles and the story was captivating throughout it’s entire 2h 42m runtime. With that in mind, if I could give out partial points for my verdicts I would, but the rules are pretty strict in these cases and I am left with no choice but to affirm the original verdict… but damn was it close to moving up a point.

Take #2 Verdict: 8/10

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The Best of Youth (2003) Part 2

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What a movie. I am actually amazed that a movie like this could have ever been made. Throughout the entire 6 hour runtime, this movie never dragged or had me looking at my watch. Now I normally give away free spoilers without a care in the world but I wouldn’t feel right this time. If you plan on watching this movie then just stop reading now.

Ok… now that they’re gone, here is why I think this movie is brilliant. I didn’t see Matteo’s suicide coming at all. When he jumped off the balcony my jaw literally dropped in shock and after thinking about it some more I kind of realized that was how his family felt. They didn’t see it coming and were in just as much shock when it happened. I didn’t really even believe it or process it until his brother, sister and mom were walking outside his apartment and started crying. It was amazing how much the movie managed to pull me in and feel how the characters felt. Another great decision they made was to do it about half way through the second half. I looked at the time and thought how will they do the rest of the movie without him? You got so used to him being in the movie and expected him to be there to the end much like his family expected. I don’t normally analyze movies like this, but this was done so perfectly I can’t help it.

Another thing I really admired was how Nicola set Giulia up to be caught by the police so she wouldn’t kill anybody. He really did love her and only wanted the best for her, it’s too bad she didn’t see it. I hated her character for most of the movie, but I guess she is just as human as anyone else… she was so lucky to have a daughter that was willing to forgive her. Her character arc came to an end with her playing the piano for her daughter which was so beautiful and I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting end for her. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed with the end of Giorgia’s story. It was nice that she got out of the hospital and gets to start her life, but I wish she had gotten a little more screen time and had the chance to see Matteo again.

I could go on and on about this movie because… well… there’s a lot of material to talk about. The characters and storytelling were top notch and this movie just goes to show how you shouldn’t judge a movie by its cover (or length, genre or language). If I ran away scared like my instinct told me to, I would never have watched such a great movie.

Verdict: 9/10 Needs nothing

Notorious (1946)

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Notorious is a movie by the great Alfred Hitchcock that centers on a love triangle between a Nazi, a government agent and a somewhat alcohol dependent woman. As far as Hitchcock movies go, this wasn’t my favourite. It wasn’t bad but I just wasn’t feeling it. The romance developed between Alicia and Devlin felt rushed and half way through the movie I couldn’t really remember why they loved each other in the first place. I find with older movies they tend to rush the romances and sometimes it works while other times it doesn’t make any sense… this falls into the latter for me.

Alicia wasn’t the typical movie woman of the 40s with her drinking and sleeping around so I enjoyed watching her, but Devlin fell flat as a character. I feel like his only use in this movie was to be Alicia’s love interest; there was no development of his character. He is almost like the secondary character, while the movie was actually focused on Alicia and how she was playing Alex to get information. At the end though, they flipped it around and had the man rescue the poor woman. I would have liked it better if they cut out Devlin altogether and at the end Alicia just saves herself.

As far as the plot goes, the movie was solid. Girl seduces old boyfriend to get information on the Nazi’s then he finds out and tries to kill her. It was a good idea and aside from the problems I had with the characters and romance I liked what I saw. In particular, I liked the wine cellar scenes with the bottle smashing and Alex using the dates to find out that someone was in there. However, the fact that he only realized something was up because of the missing key kind of bothers me. I feel like having that clay key copying gadget would’ve been so useful for Alicia to just make a copy of the key instead of taking what appears to be the only one. How did she think he wouldn’t notice that? If he loves wine so much that he has a room devoted to it and meticulously organizes it by year, it’s reasonable to assume that he would visit it often enough to know his key was missing.

All in all, this movie was just average for me. I’m noticing a trend where my least favourite Hitchcock movies always seem to star Cary Grant, hopefully this will change in the future.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs more character romance development

The Best of Youth (2003) Part 1

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The Best of Youth is an extremely daunting movie watching experience. Part of me said don’t watch it, it will be the worst time of your life, and the other part of me said do it, it’s on your list. Why would I be so wary of a little movie you ask? Well, the Best of Youth is a 6 hour (yes, that’s 6 hours… no typo) Italian movie about two brothers’ lives. The first 20 minutes did not fail to disappoint and I was thoroughly uninterested. Something magical happened after that and I got really into the story, so much so that 3 hours went by and I was still interested. I’m going to do this in 2 posts because it’s such a long movie and I couldn’t last through 6 hours straight.

The story basically follows 2 brothers as they live their lives; moving from place to place, getting married, having kids, changing jobs. For you to enjoy this kind of movie you need to like the characters, if you don’t you will absolutely despise every slow minute. Luckily I really got into it in the beginning when they were going on their road trip. I liked the character of Giorgia who was given electroshock therapy to treat her mental condition. She was such a sympathetic character, and seeing the brothers trying to help her made me instantly become invested in them. This movie brings in elements from all sorts of different genres. There’s the college road trip, the military recruit scene, the courtroom drama and many others that all tie in to one story. Some things are incredibly incredibly coincidental, like how the brothers keep bumping into each other in random places, but it helps the movie to move along so I didn’t really mind it. The tie back from the 2nd half to the 1st half of the movie is when Nicola starts shutting down mental asylums that use electroshock therapy and abuse their patients, and finds Giorgia. Seeing her so beat up and mentally damaged was heartbreaking. She’s a really interesting character and the actress who plays her is perfect. She has such expressive eyes that completely draw you in. I’m guessing that the second half will also include her and maybe her recovery. Now, I’m also a sucker for music so the scene where Nicola’s father convinces Giulia to play piano for him was so beautiful, it almost made me want to go dust off the piano. It’s too bad Giulia turns out to be a terrible person who abandons her family, what can you do I guess.

All the character’s relationships were very interesting and felt so grounded in reality. I’m curious to see where everybody ends up, and especially curious to see what happens to Giorgia.

Preliminary Verdict: 8/10 Needs me to watch the last 3 hours

Face Off Season 8 (2015)

Here goes my first TV series post and it’s for the fantastic reality competition show Face Off. It’s a special effects makeup competition where each week the competitors create makeups for different challenges. I started watching it last season and I absolutely love it. There are some incredible things done on this show and some weeks it just blows my mind what these people can do in 3 days. This isn’t one of those competition shows where it’s all about drama, it’s purely focused on the effects. They will bring in guest judges that worked for famous movies like Hellraiser, Child’s Play and they had an actor from the Hunger Games. If you’re a fan of special effects makeup then this is definitely a show to check out, if not for the competition elements then for the reveals at the end.

Here are some of my favourites from this season:

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Paper Moon (1973)

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Paper Moon is the perfect example of a child actor stealing the show. Tatum O’Neal gave an incredible performance for her age. Her and her father, in both the movie and real life, is Ryan O’Neal and the chemistry between them on screen is so powerful. I really enjoyed this movie so I don’t have too much to say about it. There were a lot of little things that were great, like Addie seeing that one of the families they were going to con was struggling for money and gave them the bible for free. Then with the obviously very rich woman she charged twice the price. She was a smart little hustler like her father and real fun to watch. When Trixie is climbing the hill to talk to Addie and she trips and shouts “Ah, son of a bitch!” that was priceless. She even organized their whole police station escape… she was like an adult trapped inside a child’s body. I might be inclined to say it was somewhat unrealistic that a child would be able to do all the things she did, but she pulled it off and made it believable. Got to admit I was pretty shocked when she started smoking, thankfully she wasn’t smoking a real cigarette in those scenes. The 30s were crazy times…

This is a movie that might have just made it to my re-watch list. It’s fun and a little different, I definitely recommend this one.

Verdict: 8/10 Needs… nothing. Very good movie.

Legends of the Fall (1994)

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By request I am going to review Legends of the Fall, a 1994 drama romance set in the early 1900s.I will be upfront, this is one of my least favourite genre-plot combinations and it didn’t fail to deliver. It took me 3 separate attempts to start this movie because my brain tried to protect itself by shutting down. I made it through though and I have several problems. The plot was way too jumpy and it felt like one of those spy movies where someone is a double agent and they keep revealing they’re working for the other side. Susannah was just like that in the way she jumped from man to man. “I love Samuel, I love Tristan, I love Alfred, I really love Tristan.” If you want to argue with me that she always loved Tristan go ahead, she flip flopped so many times it’s a wonder anybody would want to be with her. Let me not forget to mention the fact that she was in relationships with 3 brothers. Never have I cared less for the female in a romance since Jenny from Forest Gump. While on the topic of characters, I don’t understand how they were trying to portray Alfred. At first he was a jerk for telling his dead brother’s girlfriend that he was in love with her and it seemed like you were supposed to not like him. Then he stands up to his dad in front of her and you think he’s not such a bad guy. Then there are scenes where he seems controlling or possessive of Susannah which is out of character for him and is perhaps another way to make us dislike him.

Enough about the characters. The acting was decent I guess, but I didn’t really buy into the whole movie being set in the early 1900s. I had a feeling like they were all just playing dress up and it took me out of the movie completely. What also took me out of the movie was every single scene where they tried to laugh. I have never in my life seen a worse attempt at realistic laughter in a movie, and I mean this for all the actors, even Anthony Hopkins. Someone would make a “joke” then they’d do a cut to a close up of the actor’s face and have them laugh. It didn’t even feel connected to the joke, it was just a random laugh shot. Well, maybe just one more thing about the characters… Susannah tells Tristan that she wanted his wife to die within days of her actually dying. That is terrible, she is a terrible human being. She could’ve at least given it some more time, after all she was the mother of his children. Ok, now that’s enough about the characters.

Something I noticed was a very familiar set of notes playing throughout the movie. It reminded me a lot of Titanic, so I went to look up who wrote the music and you wouldn’t believe this… it was the same guy who wrote the music for Titanic! It’s a shame that they got that in my head because I enjoyed Titanic as a romance so much more. At least they tried to make it believable with the characters interacting with each other for a long period of time, while Legends of the Fall just shows you one scene where they almost kiss, then sex, then riding horses together and BAM they’re together. Not buying it. What else I don’t buy is when Samuel dies, the guys machine gun him to death. Did they really need to waste all their ammo killing him? Not only does he get shot like 20 times and not die immediately, but he has the presence of mind to call out Tristan’s name that loud. I think Tristan could have killed those guys sooner if he wanted to, he could have at least tried instead of running in slow motion.

The only thing I liked about this movie was Alfred’s eyes that were so blue they should be illegal. Eyes that are the colour of clear tropical waters. With that, I will end this post.

Verdict: 5/10 Needs more being good