Somewhere In The Mountains of Wyoming (Brokeback Mountain, 2005)


“I wish I could quit you.” Sure make all the jokes about that line yet in the context of Brokeback Mountain it cuts quickly and to the core. Jack yells it at Ennis, then instantly regrets ever saying such a thing in the next minute as Ennis breaks down. This occurs at the movie’s heart and almost towards the later part of the film, a scene that is brutal and heartbreaking. I regret ever joining the other idiots in 2005 who made jokes off that line. I plead ignorance however that’s little to no excuse.

Ang Lee by 2005 was an established director, and even after gifting us with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he had more wonderful surprises up his sleeve. One of them was Brokeback Mountain, a film that reminds me of Delmer Daves’ westerns, those startling picturesque melodramas created in an era long gone by. Also I thought of films such as Black Narcissus, where the characters are unable to properly fulfill their own longings. Even though Jack and Ennis have a decades long relationship neither man due to society and their own separate lives can find happiness with each other.

That and each man goes along with societal expectations, well at least Jack does. Ennis fails to hide who he is from his wife, although the film never quite says if his kids picked up on him being in love with a man or not. Ennis has a temper that is on display multiple times, particularly during an awe inspiring fireworks scene that literally reflects the fireworks going on his own life.

Despite being focused on the two male leads the movie still has time for others, also concentrating on the women in the men’s lives. Alma grows to resent Ennis for not being around enough and uncovers his secret all too easily. Meanwhile Lureen either seems all to willing to ignore who Jack is or she focused too much on her own life. Either way she seems the clichéd dutiful wife focused primarily on her own business. I thought it was interesting how the movie only really showcases Ennis’ one daughter of the two, Alma Jr., although perhaps that’s due to only having so much screen time I suppose.

Jack on the other hand mostly keeps himself almost under wraps, only truly showing blatant emotion several times. The two men seem to be apart even when they’re together, and yet in a different time and place maybe things could have worked out. Perhaps that may have been the case, yet no one knows for sure. Life has an awfully funny way of working out, typically not in our favor.

Ang Lee has created a modern classic, one that still affects the viewer 16 years later. He adds to both the western and drama genres, and he reminds me of what I discover as a young man: Wyoming is so beautiful words cannot describe it at all. I can relate to Ennis’ struggle to find a meaningful relationship and connection with someone, and clearly the only person he ever landed with happened to be Jack. That’s something anyone straight, gay or otherwise can relate to easily.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)


There are many other horror films that Mother reminds me of, Black Swan and The Shining being two of them. Darren Aronofsky has engaged in psychological matters before, and he goes even further with his latest. Metaphorically, this is a trip into the outrageous, and I refuse to go looking for online answers. Its more satisfying to figure out what a movie is trying to say, even if you end up being wrong.

Also its nice to see Jennifer Lawrence being a part of a non blockbuster film again. I remember discovering her in Winter’s Bone, and she once again displays a naturalistic charisma that makes Veronica one of her best performances. Javier Bardem rivals her, embodying Him as a sort of wonderful grizzly bear of a man. The two are perfectly matched up together, and the struggles that result between them are both captivating, and later on, insane. My patience was rewarded with a last act which I cannot further elaborate on.

Oh and there is a cameo from the last person you would expect to be in this madhouse of a film. I love that Domhnall Gleeson is bent on being in every movie he can possibly appear in, plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris might as well be an older version of the main duo. I saw this in an empty theater, and was enthralled by almost every moment. This might be Aronofsky’s masterwork, a film that cares only about what he is trying to accomplish. No wonder audiences hated Mother!

Best of 2014


The list so far:

1. Interstellar (100, Christopher Nolan)
2. The Guest (100, Adam Wingard)
3. Birdman (98, Alejandro González Iñárritu )
4. Whiplash (98, Damien Chazelle)
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (97, Wes Anderson)
6. Godzilla (97, Gareth Edwards)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (95, Jim Jarmusch)
8. Selma (95, Ava DuVernay)
9. Blue Ruin (95, Jeremy Saulnier)
10. Cold In July (95, Jim Mickle)

2015 Movie Log


It never ends.

Top 13:

Sunset Blvd. (1950, Wilder)
Interstellar (2014, Nolan)
Rififi (1955, Dassin)
The Guest (2014, Wingard)
Phantom of the Paradise (1974, De Palma)
La Haine (1995, Kassovitz)
Man On Wire (2008, Marsh)
Boogie Nights (1997, Anderson)
Exotica (1994, Egoyan)
Whiplash (2014, Chazelle)
The Hateful Eight (2015, Tarentino)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Kaufman)
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014, Amirpour)

January:

1. That Guy…Who Was In That Thing (2012, Schwartz, Roumain)-85, Netflix Instant Viewing
2. Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974, Fisher)-82, Netflix Instant Viewing
3. A Long Way Down (2014, Chamueil)-71, Netflix Instant Viewing
4. Escape From Tomorrow (2013, Moore)-81, Netflix Instant Viewing
5. The Guest (2014, Wingard)-100 , RedBox
6. Veronica Mars (2014, Thomas)-90 , RedBox
7. Snowpiercer (2014, Joon-ho)-94, Netflix Instant Viewing
8. From Elway To Marino (2013, Rodgers)-95, Netflix Instant Viewing
9. Man On Wire (2008, Marsh)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing
10. Following (1998, Nolan)-91, Netflix Instant Viewing
11. Boyhood (2014, Link later)-93, RedBox
12. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985, Burton)-88, Netflix Instant Viewing
13. Interstellar (2014, Nolan)-100, Theater
14. The Interview (2014, Rogan and Goldberg)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
15. Whiplash (2014, Chazelle)-98, Theater
16. Rififi (1955, Dassin)-100, Netflix DVD

Movie of the Month: Interstellar (2014, Nolan)-100, Theater

February:

17. Cold In July (2014, Mickle)-95, Public Library
18. The Double (2011, Brandt)-45, Netflix Instant Viewing
19. Chef (2014, Favreau)-91, Netflix Instant Viewing
20. Exotica (1994, Egoyan)-98, Public Library
21. Selma (2014, DuVernay)-95, Theater
22. Expelled (2014, Goyette )-75, Netflix Instant Viewing
23. Only Lovers Left Alive (2014, Jarmusch)-95, Public Library
24. John Wick (2014, Stahelski, Leitch)-92, RedBox
25. Nebraska (2013, Payne)-94, Netflix Instant Viewing
26. Mr. Nobody (2009, Van Dormael)-85, Netflix Instant Viewing
27. Ministry of Fear (1944, Lang)-91, Public Library, Criterion
28. Mud (2013, Nichols)-94, Netflix Instant Viewing
29. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015, Vaughn)-92, Theater Viewing
30. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001, Mitchell)-95, Netflix DVD
31. Panic Room (2002, Fincher)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
32. Out of Africa (1985, Pollack)-86, Netflix Instant Viewing
33. Sunset Blvd. (1950, Wilder)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing\

Movie of the Month: Sunset Blvd. (1950, Wilder)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing

March:

pain-and-gain-poster

34. Super Troopers (2002, Chandrasekhar)-80, DVD
35. Big Hero 6 (2014, Hall, Williams)-85, DVD
36. Hannie Caulder (1971, Kennedy )-75, Grit TV
37. April Fool’s Day (1986, Walton)-77, Netflix Instant Viewing
38. The Discoverers (2012, Schwarz)-81, Netflix Instant Viewing
39. Prince Avalanche (2013, Gordon Green)-88, Netflix Instant Viewing
40. Monsieur Verdoux (1947, Chaplin)-90, Netflix DVD
41. Pain and Gain (2013, Bay)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing
42. Scarlett Street (1945, Lang)-80, YouTube

Movie of the Month: Pain and Gain (2013, Bay)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing

April:

43. It Follows (2015, Mitchell)95, Theater Viewing
44. The Reckoning (2003, Wood)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
45. Thor: The Dark World (2013, Taylor)-77, Family Video
46. Spring Breakers (2013, Korine )-95, Family Video
47. 30 For 30: I Hate Christian Laettner (2015, Karpf)-95
48. Buffalo Soldiers (2001, Jordan)-83, Netflix Instant Viewing
49. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013, McKay)-87, Netflix Instant Viewing
50. Three Men and a Cradle (1985, Serreau)-54, Netflix

Movie of the Month: Spring Breakers (2013, Korine)-95, Family Video

May:

51. Gunmen (1994, Sarafian)-68, Netflix Instant Viewing
52. Crank (2006, Neveldine, Taylor )-85, Netflix Instant Viewing
53. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984, Richter)-90, Public Library
54. Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010, Kasch)-95, Netflix Instant Viewing
56. Odd Thomas (2013, Sommers)-71, Netflix Instant Viewing
57. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015, Whedon)-89, Theaters

Movie of the Month: Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010, Kasch)-95, Netflix Instant Viewing

June:

58. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, Miller)-94, Theater Viewing
59. Rounders (1998, Dahl)-87, Netflix Instant Viewing
60. Holy Motors (2013, Carax)-85, Netflix Instant Viewing

Movie of the Month: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, Miller)-94, Theater Viewing

July:

61. Ride The Pink Horse (1947, Montgomery)-91, Criterion DVD
62. Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla (1975, Fukuda)-87, Public Library
63. Godzilla Final Wars (2004, Kitamura)-80, Public Library
64. Night of the Demons 2 (1994, Trenchard-Smith)-80, Public Library

Movie of the Month: Ride The Pink Horse (1947, Montgomery)-91, Criterion DVD

August:

65. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Kaufman)-97, Netflix Instant Viewing
66. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970, Jireš)-90, Criterion DVD
67. Phantom of the Paradise (1974, De Palma)-100, Public Library
68. God Told Me To (1976, Cohen)-91, Public Library
69. Q: The Winged Serpent (1982, Cohen)-78, Public Library
70. Campfire Tales (1997, Kunert, Semel, Cooper)-65, Public Library
71. Critters 3 (1991, Peterson)-50, Public Library
72. Critters 4 (1992, Harvey)-60, Public Library
73. It (1990, Wallace)-80, Public Library
74. The Driver (1978, Hill)-95, Netflix DVD
75. Bite The Bullet (1975, Brooks)-87, YouTube

Movie of the Month: Phantom of the Paradise (1974, De Palma)-100, Public Library

September:

76. What We Do In The Shadows (2015, Waititi, Clement)-91, Public Library
77. Vampire In Brooklyn (1995, Craven)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
78. The Conjuring (2013, Wan)-88, Netflix Instant Viewing
79. Disturbing Behavior (1998, Nutter)-75, Netflix Instant Viewing
80. The Babadook (2014, Kent)-91,
Netflix Instant Viewing
81. Hot Shots! (1991, Abrahams)-85, DVD
82. Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993, Abrahams)-75, DVD

Movie of the Month: The Babadook (2014, Kent)-91,
Netflix Instant Viewing

October:

girl-walks-home-alone-at-night-4

84. Housebound (2014, Johnstone)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing
85. Late Phases (2014, Bogliano)-86, Netflix Instant Viewing
86. Society (1989, Yuzna)-84, YouTube
87. Horns (2014, Aja)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
88. Mission Impossible-Rogue Nation (2015, McQuarrie)-89, Theater
89. The Final Terror (1983, Davis)-92, Public Library
90. Creep (2014, Kack-Brice)-88, Netflix Instant Viewing
91. Almost Human (2013, Begos)-45, Netflix Instant Viewing
92. The Woman In Black (2012, Harper)-86, Public Library
93. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014, Amirpour)-96, Netflix Instant Viewing
94. Twixt (2011, Coppola)-70, Netflix Instant Viewing
95. Dead Silence (2007, Wan)-75, Netflix Instant Viewing
96. Starry Eyes (2014, Kolsch, Widmyer)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
97. Nightbreed (1990, Barker)-85, Netflix Instant Viewing

Movie of the Month: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014, Amirpour)-96, Netflix Instant Viewing

November:

98. The 5 Deadly Venoms (1978, Cheh)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing
99. Spectre (2015, Mendes)-88, Theater Viewing
100. La Haine (1995, Kassovitz -100, Public Library/Criterion
101. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013, Raimi)-75, SyFy
102. The Vampire Lovers (1970, Baker)-80, Public Library
103. Django (1966, Corbucci)-95, Public Library

Movie of the Month: La Haine (1995, Kassovitz)-100, Public Library/Criterion

December:

104. The Ridiculous 6 (2015, Coraci)-68, Netflix Instant Viewing
105. The Night Before (2015, Levine)-77, Theater
106. Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens (2015, Abrams)-92, Theater
107. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, Selick)-95, Netflix Instant Viewing
108. Boogie Nights (1997, Anderson)-99, Netflix Instant Viewing
109. The Hateful Eight (2015, Tarentino)-97, Theater

Movie of the Month: Boogie Nights (1997, Anderson)-99, Netflix Instant Viewing

Neo Noir High School Edition


Brick review (originally written 11/14/07, entered 9/19/13)

I’m sure a common criticism of Brick is that this flick consists of “This is a movie” gimmicks. I hate that criticism because its too broad and often inaccurate. Having high school kids deliver film noir dialogue and act like film noir stock characters is quite innovative to say the least. In the hands of a less talented director, such a different take on film noir would be annoying and cloy. However the young creator of the film possessed the ability to make it work.

I would argue that this film is as much a homage to old school film noir as it belongs among the class of modern neo-noir, started by films like The Long Goodbye (1973) and Chinatown (1974). Many scenes are inspired by such noirs as The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946), two famous and exceptional films in the genre. I don’t wish to spoil the film, but the ending certainly cribs from The Maltese Falcon, and the standard femme fatale character reminded me of ones seen in films such as The Killing (1956) and The Lady From Shanghai (1937).


Brandon, the badass tough guy is the perfect anti-hero for the film. What I love especially about film noir protagonists is that none of them fit into clean, nicely defined good and evil definitions. In that way they are far more interesting as a result, forcing the audience to marvel at their worthy qualities as some of their rather dirty action repulse the audience as well. The character of The Pin adds another dynamic in terms of who is really the film’s villain. Just as in other film noirs at times the character who appears to be the worst character, the antagonist, is often second to someone even more dastardly. That’s not to say that is always the case, especially with The Third Man (1949) and Chinatown (1974) but at times its held true.  Only it seems in film noir that more than one villain exists, something I’ve never noticed before I saw this film.

Normally I don’t praise acting, but here the young cast was excellent. Not in terms of being actors, but in that they made the characters come off as teens, despite the fact that non-teen like dialogue was all they said. Some were better than others: Brandon pulled off the desperate street tough hero in over his head expertly. Tug was a great mix of menace and despair, while the Pin came off as mysterious yet powerful and weak, often in the same scene. Nora was the film’s strongest female performance, perfectly capturing a female allure that masked a stunning capacity for cunning.

The more  I think about this film, the more I like it. Brick is as much a film as it as an experiment in film noir referencing and neo-noir execution. Like some of the very best noirs both old and modern, it leaves the viewer feeling intrigued and maybe even a little dirty after the credits roll. Film noir is remarkable if only for presenting a fantasy land composed of nightmares and the dark side of human nature. 95

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