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Showing posts from November, 2014

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #196: Amélie

All cinema lovers should have a special place in their hearts for films that are unashamedly optimistic and whimsical. There is a lot of darkness in this world, but the world inhabited by the protagonist of Amélie (1999) is one where a happy ending is just about guaranteed if you work for it. Directed by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet it is set in a version of Paris that Jeunet himself has admitted is much cleaner than the real one. No matter. Sometimes you go to the movies for hope, not reality.
I can indeed confirm the French capital is not as rosy as portrayed in Amélie having been lucky enough to go there a few times for vacation/work. I saw the movie on TV just a month prior to going on an internship at radio station in northern France in 2011, and on my days off I would sometimes take the train to go walk the streets of Paris. On my last day I had the chance to see the Eiffel Tower at night, which I believe is the sort of imagery Jeunet was aiming for when making his movie. T…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #197: Point Break

Kathryn Bigelow is a director who did not so much break the glass ceiling as shoot her way through it. Her filmography rivals the manliest of action directors in Hollywood and in some cases surpasses them in terms of quality and style. Point Break (1991) her most commercially successful film to date, features amazing stunts, shootouts, and plenty of shots of young people at the beach. Having Gary Busey as a scenery (and meatball sandwich) chewing FBI agent certainly did not hurt either.
Since Point Break came out in at the beginning of the 1990s I did not go see it because at the time I was the target audience for Aladdin. However Bigelow’s film was not only a commercial hit, but it also gained a cult audience over the years and was eventually considered one of the best action movies of that decade. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost certainly thought so, which is why their action-movie homage Hot Fuzz has two characters watch Point Break and also recreate one of its most famous…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #198: Fargo

The world of Joel and Ethan Coen is sometimes filled with otherworldly characters stuck in bizarre situations, but sometimes it is populated by truly realistic people dealing with real horrors. The Coen’s Oscar winning film Fargo (1996) features ordinary people getting into a heap of trouble over money in the states of Minneapolis and North Dakota during a frigid winter in 1987. The person who sorts out the mess as the bodies start piling up is not a super cop armed to the teeth, but a very polite and very pregnant police officer who is baffled by the concept of greed. This is not one of the Coen Brothers’ funniest movies, but it is one of their best in a standout filmography.
I bought the special edition DVD of Fargo a few years ago while living in Quebec City during some after Christmas shopping and was eager to see it as I had heard very good things and my brother and I are very big fans of The Big Lebowski. Tonally this is very different from their cult movie featuring The Dude, al…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #202: The Killer

The 1980s and 1990s were a golden age for Hollywood action movies, back when Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger were in their prime. Meanwhile in Asia, you had Hong Kong director John Woo and actor Chow Yun-fat shooting their way into cinematic greatness with action films that would end up influencing directors in the west. The Killer (1989)was not their first collaboration, but it heralded Woo’s arrival with its over the top and at times beautiful violence. Here was an action movie with great acting, depth, and more bullets fired than in most video games.
Like most foreign directors John Woo lost a bit of his spark when he made the move to Hollywood. By the time I was old enough to watch his movies he was making Face/Off, Mission Impossible: II, and Paycheck. Those first two are solid action movies in their own right, but for pure undiluted John Woo you have to go back to the early days, something I had learned through my reading of various movie articles. While browsing at HMV back…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #203: Life of Bryan

Many filmmakers have been bold enough to make controversial movies featuring characters from the Bible: Martin Scorsese, Mel Gibson, Darren Aronofsky, and Sir Ridley Scott. However only a select few have been ballsy enough to make a mockery about biblical concepts and that select few is of course Monty Python’s Flying Circus. But to be clear, the character in Life of Brian is not the Messiah: he’s a very naughty boy.
My dad is a big fan of British comedy so as he introduced my brother and I to the Mr. Bean, Black Adder, Fawlty Towers and of course the great works of Mrs. John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was the first of their films we saw, which showed me this British troupe of comedians is the funniest troupe of comedians in the world. I got the DVD of Life of Bryan a few Christmases ago, and although I did not think it was as funny as Holy Grail there were still plenty of laughs, not to mention a fe…