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Showing posts from June, 2011

Empire List #441: Being John Malkovich

You know the old saying “you can’t make this stuff up”? Writer Charlie Kaufman comes up with movie ideas that are so ludicrous they simply have to be made up. If you look at some of his writing credits, it’s a miracle any of his movies ever got made. How did he pitch the script for “Being John Malkovich” and got Spike Jonze to direct it? “A man finds a portal into the head of John Malkovich and is then ejected into a New Jersey turnpike. Oh, and the portal is located in the 7 ½ floor of an office building in New York City.” If I had been the Hollywood producer listening to that pitch, I would probably have had a few follow-up questions.
I first heard of this movie when I saw the trailer on TV during one of my summer vacations in Quebec City. My first thought was, that is one weird movie. My second was “who the heck is John Malkovich?” Eventually I saw “Con Air” on VHS and then I knew. Then around 2009, when I was living off-campus at the university of Sherbrooke, I saw that “Being Joh…

Empire List #442: Atonement

Joe Wright’s “Atonement” (2007) is a war drama focusing on three people who have their own personal drama to deal with as the world falls apart. Keira Knightley plays Cecilia Tallis, a young woman living in an upper class mansion in the British countryside. James McAvoy is Robbie Turner, the housekeeper’s son who can’t keep his eyes off her. Saoirse Ronan plays Briony, Cecilia’s younger sister, who will destroy their lives. The worst part is, it was all a big misunderstanding.

This was yet another one of those movies I had to wait until the DVD came out so that I could watch it in the original English version. For a while that became my game plan for big Hollywood movies. If the movie theatres in Quebec wouldn’t release them in English, I would wait a couple of months and then rent three of them per week during my summer break from university. It’s a shame, because “Atonement” is beautifully shot and deserves a big screen.

The whole drama begins with a small mistake, leading to a huge…

Empire List #443: Dog Day Afternoon

Have you ever been flipping through your TV channels and suddenly you run into a media circus? Those are a lot of fun. The name fits incredibly well too. A circus implies entertainment, clowns, a ringmaster and an audience. However, the media part of the equation implies cameras and possibly a global audience, no matter how silly or violent the situation might turn out to be. That is the situation in which Al Pacino’s character is plunged into in Sydney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon” from 1975.

I must have been around ten when I first saw this movie and I remember being dumbstruck by how crazy the situation got with each passing minute. My family and I had recently moved to Santiago, Chile and I guess dad was just flipping through the TV one evening when the show started. I wouldn’t exactly call it a family movie, but I was entertained, that’s for sure.

It all starts simply enough. Al Pacino plays Sonny Wortzik who, along with his partners Salvatore “Sal” Naturile (John Cazale) and Ste…