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Showing posts from January, 2015

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #188: School of Rock

Having done everything from romantic dramas to science-fiction thrillers, Richard Linklater can’t be accused of only doing one type of movie. However his love of rock music was evident in Dazed and Confused so he was the perfect guy to harness the manic energy of real-life rocker Jack Black for School Of Rock (2003). Written by Mike White, who also worked on the criminally overlooked TV show Freaks and Geeks, this rock’n’roll comedy has the old concept of the teacher who bonds with his students, except this teacher’s curriculum focuses on the historical importance of everyone from The Who to Led Zeppelin. I wish I could have signed up for this class.
A couple of things about this movie: It came out in October of 2003, a few months after I had moved back to Quebec after having lived in South America for several years That was when I realized most movies in Quebec come out dubbed in French, which I hate because I want to hear the original actors speak no matter the language. Instead I re…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #189: Ghostbusters

Who you gonna call? Since 1984 there is only answer to that question: GHOSTBUSTERS! Now an established part of pop culture, in no small part thanks to Ray Parker Junior’s signature theme song, it was at the time one heck of a gamble. What were the odds that a comedy/horror movie filled with some of the most expensive special effects at the time and starring the wise-cracking comedian from Caddyshack and Stripes, one half of The Blues Brothers, and the heroine from Alien would become a massive hit? With Canadian director Ivan Reitman at the helm and Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis on writing duties, it turns out the odds were pretty good.
I didn’t watch Ghostbusters until sometime in the mid 90s when it was playing on TV at my grandma’s house, but before that it was firmly ingrained in my culture. Plenty of kids could hum that earworm of a song, the animated series was doing pretty good, and I had a horn shaped like Slimer on my bicycle. I think I actually ended seeing Ghostbusters II befo…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #194: Brokeback Mountain

Having left this world much too soon Heath Ledger will forever be remembered for his Oscar-winning role as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Had he died earlier his defining role would have probably been the much more restrained Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (2005), a film that boldly went where few love stories went by having the two lovers be male. The fact that they were cowboys gave the film the unfortunate moniker “the gay cowboy movie,” but it is much more than that. Take away the fact the two main characters are men and you have one tragic love story regardless of gender.
The film begins in the 1960s, a time when homosexuality was a something that had to be kept secret for one’s own safety. Today gay marriage is legal in certain countries, but unfortunately there was still a lot of backlash towards a movie about two gay characters when it was released. I remember a fellow student in college saying he was upset he paid money to go to the theatres and see THAT tent sce…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #193: Ed Wood

Filmmakers will sometime make great movies, sometimes they will make awful movies, but it is not often a director will make a great movie about another director who became known for awful movies. Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) tells the story of a director for whom there was no such thing as a bad take and consequently every bad take ended up on film. But god help him, Ed Wood passionately loved movies and led a life that did indeed warrant a great movie.
This was the last movie I saw as part of a film club back when I was at the University of Sherbrooke in 2010. It was supposed to be The Last Waltz, which would have been appropriate given it was the club’s last waltz, but Ed Wood is actually a great fit for a group of people who love to watch movies and are sometimes curious about the filmmaking process. This can sometimes be twice as entertaining as the movie itself, especially in the case of Wood who was not only a bizarre character in his own right, but surrounded himself with cult mo…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #194: Bicycle Thieves

Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) is a sad tale of one man’s quest to provide for his family. Despite being set in post-World War II Rome and being shot in black and white, the film still has plenty of themes modern audiences can identify with and will probably be able to identify with for years to come. It doesn’t matter what country you live in or what century it is, plenty of people can sympathize with a workingman trying to make ends meet and trying to be a good man in the eyes of his son.
Like many people my favourite Italian movies are Sergio Leone Westerns, but that doesn’t really count since they are essentially American movies made by an Italian director. When I watched Bicycle Thieves on Netflix last fall I knew I wasn’t going to get a gun-toting Western or gangster movie, but as fan of cinema in general I will watch anything. Plus having travelled to Italy and taken a few Italian courses it’s always fun to watch an Italian movie to practice the language. Turns out I …