For those that don’t know I am watching all 700+ Dvd/Bluray films from A-Z which has so far taken me 2.5 years to get to the end of H’s!
I thought I should retrospectively review each letter and give my top 5 films from each alpha block and maybe bring your attention to some films you may not have seen, films you’ve not seen in ages or films you should give another try. Click A, B, C and D to read previous parts.
The E’s are a long time coming but here it is. Firstly some films beginning with E that let down alpha group for me personally, I’m not a big fan of Easy Rider, nor the English Patient, also couldn’t care for Erin Brockovich, Evita or Ernest goes to camp which is why i don’t own them.
The E’s did produced some great films that didn’t quite make the list were the terrifying Exorcist, the incredible biopic Edwood (mainly because Martin Landau won the best supporting actor Oscar instead of Samuel L Jackon For Pulp Fiction, maybe deservedly so but Pulp Fiction should have won more Oscars!), The brilliant John Carpenter Escape from New York, The funny Woody Allen film Everything you wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask, Bruce Lee Classic Enter the Dragon, The flawed but enjoyable Equilibrium and the great 80’s adventure The Explorers.
And so onto my top five picks from my collection, in no particular order we have a very enjoyable road trip movie set in Ukraine staring Elijah Wood, the Legend that is Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead, a very enjoyable New Zealand film Eagle Vs Shark, The incredible Viggo Mortensen directed by amazing David Cronenburg in a brutal Russian mafia film and the stunning Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman effort Eternal Sunshine of a spotless mind. All are great films all are well worth a watch.
Everything is Illuminated is a wonderful film by debut writer/director Liev Schrieber who has gave acting a rest to make the film based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, and boy was it an accomplished debut film.
Starring Elijah Wood as Jonathan Safran Foer a slightly eccentric American/Jewish character who collects memories of his family in small plastic bags pinned to his wall in case he forgets them. We follow Jonathan on his odyssey through the Ukraine with a hip-hop-obsessed, broken English-talking guide called Alex (Eugene Hutz), Alex’s cantankerous grandfather also named Alex (Boris Leskin), and granddads visually impaired dog Sammy Davis Jr. Jr, and these characters take Jonathan on his journey so he can find a woman who saved his grandfather during World War II in a Ukrainian village, that was ultimately wiped of the map by the Nazis.
The film is a great watch with the excellent Eugene Hutz stealing the film as Alex providing some great moments, especially with his intro into the film. The story is slow but enjoyable and nicely shot and the three main characters work well together with Alex and Jonathan having some great cross cultural discussions and granddad Alex going on his own journey that all comes together to make a very emotional ending.
Evil Dead is the film that launched the directing genius that is Sam Raimi and the acting legend that is Bruce Campbell. The film was made in 1981 by friends and amateur actors, funded by donations from families, friends and local businesses and
went on to be one of the most successful horror films of all time, spawning two further Evil Dead movies that didn’t break even until 6 years later.
Bruce Campbell is Ash who along with 4 other friends head off to a remote cabin where they find the Necronomicon, The Book of the Dead, and accidental unleash evil when one of them plays an audio tape that contains excepts from the book. One by one the group start turning into crazed zombie deadites and it’s down to our hero Ash to stay alive by killing his one time friends.
The film is outstanding considering it was made by a bunch of friends on a small budget and shows early signs of Raimi’s cinematography skills with stunning shots, camera angles and movements that all add to this classic films enjoyment.
Of course the film launched the career of the brilliant Bruce Campbell who is a joy to watch at anytime and went on to star in Evil Dead 2 which was basically a remake of Evil Dead with a bigger budget and also vehicle to launch evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness where the character of Ash reached cult status with his strap on arm chainsaw, shotgun and the legendary catchphrase “Groovy”.
Brilliant brilliant horror film and a true inspiration to wannabe film makers.
Eagle vs Shark is a bizarre funny film starring Flight of the Conchords Jermaine Clement as Jarrod, a geek who works in a video store. Lily (Loren Horsley) works in a fast food restaurant and has a crush on Jarrod and begs for his attention but Jarrod is more interested in Lily’s workmate Jenny. Jarrod invites Jenny to a party where you are asked to come dressed as your favourite animal, Jenny discards the invite and Lily retrieves it and attends instead.
Lily goes dressed as a Shark and of course Jarrod is dressed as an Eagle and at the party Jarrod hosts a videogame fighting competition and Lily beats all to get to the final vs Jarrod and here Jarrod takes an interest in her.
The film then follows the pair on a road journey to Jarrod’s childhood home where she has to put up with him settling the score with an old school bully, Jarrod’s extended eccentric family and how Lily bonds with them and other misadventures that endear the two characters to us more.
It’s been called a cross between When Harry Met Sally and Napoleon Dynamite which is fair enough but the film stands on it’s own with the two brilliant and like-able characters that add a real sense of affection and charming humor thats a bit tongue in cheek but overall very enjoyable and different. One of my favourite films I watched in 2009.
Eastern Promises. When the legends that are David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen teamed up to bring us the stunning and brutal History of Violence in 2005, I was excited to hear they were teaming up again to bring us Eastern Promises in 2007 and expected another strong story and performance from Viggo. I was not disappointed.
Viggo plays Nikolai Luzhin, a drive/bodyguard of a Russian mafia family based in London. Through a turn of events a nurse named Anna (Naomi Watts) comes involved with the mafia after a young girl dies giving birth in her hospital and in trying to locate the babies blood relatives through the dead girls diary, she traces it to a restaurant owned by the mafia boss Semyon and enters the world of the underground Russian mafia.
Nikolai chooses to assist Anna but has to do so secretly to prevent Semyon or his liability of a son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) finding out and so not to give to much away, that’s where the film travels into the world of Russian mafia, the violence, the code and the loyalty. Its a phenomenal watch and remarkably realistic.
Viggo Mortensen is the standout star of the film (no surprises there) and worthy of his Oscar nomination, his accent, his manner and his dedication to the role is truly unforgettable. A scene in a steam baths where Viggo fights completely naked against two knife welding killers is amazing, realistic and tense (as well as strange to watch) and shows what a truly great actor he is, you’ve never seen a fight scene like it.
Overall the film is incredible and a must see, if not for Cronenberg’s amazing direction then for Viggo on top form in a wonderful film.
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, recently voted No.6 in our Top films of decade and deservedly so. Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry it was always going to be a classic visual and originally intelligent film that was for me one of the most incredible viewing experience I had in the Noughties.
Starring Jim Carrey as likable Joel and Kate Winslet as the lovable Clementine, a couple trying to forget each other after their relationship fails. But the way they try to forget about each other is by using a paid procedure to erase their memories of there lives together and it’s going through this process that they understand what was so good about what they had with each other.
Joel finds out Clemetine is having the procedure done and in retaliation follows suit and whilst going to sleep and being fitted with the equipment by the company who do the memory erasing, carried out by Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo, the film incredibly shows Joel’s memories being erased one by one whilst we see the memories relived before us and with Joel fighting to keep them as he realises he made a mistake and desperately tries to save memories. Its stunningly shot and at times beautifully surreal and all works to perfection.
A reason a few people I know haven’t seen this film is because Jim Carrey’s in it, but Carrey is truly outstanding as Joel and I wish he would do more serious type films like this as he and the rest of cast perform wonders making it so successful, Winslett was nominated for an Oscar whilst Kaufman, Gondry and Pierre Bismuth won the Oscar for best Best Writing/Original screenplay and it should have won more.
The story is incredible and not only breaks your heart, as we see the characters despair of their failing and erased relationship, but it bends your brain with the incredible visuals that have to be seen to be believed and if you haven’t seen this film, make it your next purchase.
And that’s the E’s. I hope you enjoy these films as much as i did and again if you have any suggestions for films I haven’t picked then let me know.
Sorry for taking so long in getting these letters reviewed, So many films and so little time but the F’s will be coming soon.