Retro Review – Reservoir Dogs: Tarantino at his raw, unrefined best

Reservoir Dogs posterAfter last year’s bitterly disappointing Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, which presumably only received an Oscar nomination because of its subject matter, I decided it was time to revisit some of Tarantino’s classics. I’ve always been a huge fan of his work, but Once Upon A Time in Hollywood was such a drab, underwhelming, damp squib of a movie, I actually started to question my Tarantino loyalty.

Reservoir Dogs is a film that I have always hugely enjoyed though and, having not seen it for a good few years, what better place to start? The film was initially released in 1992 and the story behind production is a quite an interesting one. Made on a meagre budget ($1.2 million), Tarantino had to beg, borrow and steal to get his debut film made. Continue reading

Retro review – The Shining: Stanley Kubrick’s almost masterpiece

The Shining movie posterIn the words of Stanley Kubrick himself, it’s easy to make a good film, difficult to make a great one, and it takes a miracle to make a masterpiece. For many, The Shining (1980) sits firmly in that third group, a true masterpiece both of the horror genre and cinema at large.

You can imagine my excitement then, when I heard that my local Cineworld were hosting a limited screening of the remastered director’s cut of the film. Having been thoroughly terrified by The Shining during my first viewing well over 10 years ago, and with the upcoming release of its sequel Doctor Sleep only days away, I relished the chance to recapture the terror of the Overlook Hotel in remastered 4k. Continue reading

Retro Review: A.I Artificial Intelligence

AI movie posterIn the early 1970s, Stanley Kubrick acquired the rights to the 1969 short story by Brian Aldiss titled ‘Supertoys Last All Summer Long.‘ Intellectually obsessed, Kubrick began working on a screenplay to turn Aldiss’ short story into a modern-day Pinocchio, hiring a team of writers to work on a script for over 20 years including the original author, sci-fi author Bob Shaw and eventual screen-story credit Ian Watson.

The film stagnated in development for years. Kubrick felt that a child actor would make David too human and that the CGI capabilities of the day weren’t quite up to scratch. Rather than give up on the project, Kubrick chose to wait for technology to catch-up with the demands of the film. Attempts were even made to create automated, robotic version of David, though efforts were quickly stopped as the robot was described as ‘too creepy’ by the production team. Continue reading

MM Retro Review: Grease

Grease movie posterGrease is not a good movie. Grease is not a particularly good musical either. By any ostensible measure of quality Grease is average at best, and that’s being generous. It is poorly structured, poorly plotted, and poorly made… and yet there is something undeniably infectious about it.

Just look at the showstopping “Greased Lightning” to see what I mean. I use the word showstopping because it’s a wonderfully cheesy musical set-piece, akin to Gene Kelly singing in the rain in Singin’ in the Rain. I also use the word showstopping because it literally stops the movie dead in its tracks. There’s no reason for “Greased Lightning” to exist in the context of the movie. The song doesn’t progress the plot in any meaningful way and we don’t learn anything new about the characters either. Continue reading

No Country For Old Men review “What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?”

No Country for Old Men posterCritical praise rained on the Coen brothers in 2008 for their work in No Country for Old Men. From creating an unforgettable antagonist to redefining a genre, No Country for Old Men left its impression on audiences and critics alike. But I think one of the biggest impression the film left can also be considered a huge gamble. Many passable movies today have the tendency to spoon-feed exposition through either uninspired dialog (Star Wars: Episode I) or plot devices (action scenes in the Transformers series).

No Country for Old Men takes the gamble of being a smart movie. Not smart in the sense that you need an impressive IQ or understand quantum physics to appreciate the movie. But smart in the sense that the movie is layered and meaning is found through attention to detail. The Coen brothers find success with No Country for Old Men by whole heartily trusting the audience. Continue reading