It’s because of this that we at HeyUGuys (and in this case we is myself and Barry) have decided to set ourselves a project. To watch and review all 250 movies on the list. We’ve frozen the list as of January 1st of this year, find it here. It’s not as simple as it sounds, we are watching them all in one year, 125 each.
This is our 22nd update and my next five films watched for the project. I had a few double bills this week starting with Magnolia that I watched directly after Boogie Nights (which unfortunately doesn’t feature on our IMDb List) which got me in the mood for Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant movie, I then did the Kill Bill fims back to back which was the most amount of fun and finished off with a Woody Allen Double bill that was enjoyable but a very similar experience when watching them so closely after one another, but that didn’t ruin the enjoyment of such well crafted comedy movies.
No. 211 – Magnolia (1999) – Rating 8.0
Epic Genius from Paul Thomas Anderson, from it’s wonderful start with the tales of coincidences and happenings, then the superb one take tracking shot introducing us to a bunch of characters to its bonkers conclusion with raining frogs, Magnolia is a jaw dropping and wonderful film.
In a nut shell:- Magnolia spans a day in the life of a group of residents in San Fernando Valley in California with lonely policeman Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) who falls for a drug user Claudia (Melora Walters), who in turn has issues with her father and quiz-show host Jimmy Gator(Philip Baker Hall) whose show ‘What Do Kids Know?’ has genius child star Stanley (Jeremy Blackman) going for a record number of wins whilst former star of the show ‘Quiz Kid’ Donnie Smith (W.H. Macy) craves love, money and braces as nurse Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tends to a dying television tycoon and founder of the ‘What Do Kids Know’ show Earl Partridge (Jason Robards) whose young wife Linda (Julianne Moore) agonizes over their relationship and his condition as Nurse Phil, on Earl’s request, tries to find his exiled son Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise) who teaches ‘‘Seduce and Destroy’’ classes to men.
The plot expands on these characters and their situations to build a fascinating intertwining story and the performances are, without exception, superb with Tom Cruise delivering an outstanding performance as T.J. Mackey and fully deserving of his Oscar nomination for his role. But overall the film’s genius lies in Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant directing forging a truly addictive movie which weaves the stories together so easily letting us bond with each character enough so they aren’t one dimensional and all offer something solid to the brilliant to Magnolia, Anderson also uses Aimee Mann’s songs to wonderful effect particularly when each character sings a line from her amazing song ‘Save Me’ that builds up to the Froggy finale.
An incredible film and one of my favourite all time movies and in my opinion not as watchable as Boogie Nights but very dam close. Check out the brilliant opening to get you in the mood.
No. 134 – Kill Bill Vol 1 (2003) – Rating 8.2
Tarantino returned after a six year hiatus since the release of Jackie Brown to make the superb Kill Bill and dam was it a wondrous return to movie making from one of the greatest directors of all time.
Kill Bill is Tarantino’s tribute to so many genre’s like the Shaw Brothers martial art movies, Japanese Samurai, westerns, Kung Fu and Manga comics that was considered too long by Miramax so it was cut into two parts and whether that is right or wrong is a personal choice, I could easily have watched the four hour film at the cinema but I can understand as they equally make two fine movies as the pacing is so different from Volume 1 and Volume 2.
Kill Bill stars Uma Thurman as the Bride who after being kicked about and shot in the head by Bill and her former colleagues/assassins (the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad) awakens from her coma to find a metal plate in her head and a baby no longer in her belly so she starts to plan a revenge that will take her to each of her former friends and kill them one by one finishing with Bill. Simple.
The story is fantastic and stylistically told in the typical Tarantino Non-Linear way with Volume one dealing with The Brides recuperation from her coma and her fights with No.2 on he Death List Five, Vernita Green ‘Copper Head’ (Vivica A Fox) and No.1 on the list, O-Ren-Ishii ‘Cottonmouth’ (Lucy Lui) with their fight at the House of Blue leaves turning into one of the finest and goriest fights seen in years and one that delivers enjoyment, excitement and wonderment in abundance but what else would you expect from the mind of Tarantino and the choreography of Yeun Woo-Ping. What’s great is we never see Bill throughout the first Volume and only hear his voice and it adds a wonderful menace and anticipation to seeing the second part.
The sub plot of The Bride getting a samurai sword from Hattori Hanzo played by the legend Sonny Chiba is a wonderful moment as to is the inclusion of Gordon Lui who played Johnny Mo the leader of O-Ren-Ishii’s army of body guards who get slaughtered in the House of Blue Leaves in the movies most memorable scene which all kicks off with the Brides fight with the excellent sadistic Gogo Yubari played by Chiaki Kuriyama from Battle Royal fame completes a wonderful cast.
The dialogue is not at your typical quotable Tarantino level but Kill Bill hints at a fun side and complete personal enjoyment to Tarantino’s directing which blossoms further in his later films of Death Proof and Inglorious Basterds which makes Quentin Tarantino easily one of the most satisfying directors of this generation to watch. Kill Bill gave me one of the most enjoyable films on the list so far, it’s just pure fun, incredibly cool especially if you get the references to his previous films or to the genre’s that he is showing so much love for and of course a fabulous soundtrack that always accompanies his films that show off each scene to its full potential. Mixed in with the amazing film is an incredibly well animated back story to O-Ren-Ishii and how her parents were murdered and she became a ruthless killer, It’s so good I wanted to see 2 hours of it and that it was made by the legendary Production I.G company of Ghost in Shell, Patlabor and specifically Blood: Last Vampire that The Kill Bill sequence takes its style from, its just a wonderful moment of the film.
Kill Bill is all kinds of awesome and will always be a favorite of mine that will always catch my eye when scrolling through the TV guide or browsing by DVD collection, love it, will always love it and if you haven’t seen it you will love it too.
Check out the Full Uncut and in colour House of Blue Leaves fight below: BEWARE contains a whole lot of BLOOD
No. 205 – Kill Bill 2 (2004) – Rating 8.0
Kill Bill Volume 2 split opinions, maybe because people wanted more of the same from Volume 1 but people do forget that Kill Bill was intended to be one film and so repeating the action beautifully shown previously would have been a mistake in a one movie film which is why we have a more story and character driven second part which for me adds so much to the Kill Bill story.
So what we get in Volume 2 is a back story of The Brides training with Pei Mei, the events that led to the wedding day massacre, her encounters with two more on her Death List Five being Budd and Elle, her hunt and final showdown with Bill and the reveal of the Brides name is Beatrix Kiddo. All parts of Volume 2 offer something uniquely Tarantino and again show his fondness and appreciation for classic martial art movies, especially with the Brides Training with Pei Mei as the character is a reoccurring legend in a few classic old kung fu movies and brought to life wonderfully by Gordon Lui (Johnny Mo in Vol 1) who Bill takes Beatrix to for training but we come across that story line later after she hunts down the next name on her list, Budd ‘Sidewinder’(Michael Madsen) who gets the better of her, sticks her in a coffin and buries her which is where we come back to her training with Pei Mei who we find teaches her how to punch through wood at short distances (How many people at least tried it when they got home!?) it’s very cool and we also learn why Elle Driver wears an eye patch due to betraying Pei Mei.
Before I describe the whole film as I love it so much, Elle kills Budd for Beatrix’s Hanzo Sword and then Beatrix has an awesome fight with Elle which ends in a way that must be setting up a reference to Zatoichi with Elle becoming a blind Samurai in a sequel, Lets hope so as long as they bring in Beat Takeshi in some role! The wonderful ending comes all too soon where Beatrix comes face to face with Bill played by the legend David Carradine and her daughter she presumed dead and with a phenomenally cool face off with Bill including a brilliant Superhero speech about superman concluding with the outrageous ‘Five point palm exploding heart technique’ from Beatrix.
Apologies for the randomness of the review, I had such a blast remembering all the fun parts, acting and cool little moments in Kill Bill I just rambled on, So conclude….Again another superbly made from Tarantino, supremely acted by everyone and incredibly entertaining from start to finish, Kill Bill should be classed as one film but both definitely deserve to be here as individual movies too.
No. 132 – Annie Hall (1977) – Rating 8.2
Annie Hall is the first of my Woody Allen double feature and one of the first films I ever saw of his many years ago and is easily one of his funniest and accessible films he’s made. Woody Allen pretty much always play the same character and like Charlie Chaplin’s ‘the Tramp’ it’s hard to get bored of him as he is likable, funny entertaining and in Annie Hall it doesn’t come much funnier.
Annie Hall was the film that denied Star Wars from getting the Oscar it deserved back in 1978 and after watching it again my head understands why but my heart never will. Looking back at his failed relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), Alvy Singer (Allen) looks back at his relationship with her and also reflecting at his life, relationships and his attempt to get Annie Hall back.
Allen really is at his best in this film, breaking the forth wall to speak to the audience about things that annoy him like pretentious people talking in queues or asking questions about relationships and doing random questioning with couples walking down the street asking what they see in each other which adds an original comedic look at how relationships work and most ring true. There are some hilarious moments like when Alvy and Annie first met where Annie takes him back to her apartment in a death defying car journey and when they get there they talk for hours and in one moment their real thoughts are shown as subtitles as they chat intellectually which is a real joy.
The two characters bond and fall in love but their careers and their maturity differ as time passes with Annie becoming a successful singer and with LA calling her they eventually split as Alvy refuses to leave for the city of LA from the city he loves, Alvy soon realizes that he still loves Annie and heads to LA to convince her to return with him to New York but fails so he returns home to write a play about their relationship where he eventually wins her back.
Annie Hall is a brilliant comedy full of clever takes and anecdotes on relationships full of real characters and some great lines that keep coming throughout the entire film. There is one brilliant cameo by Christopher Walken who plays Annie’s brother Duane who confesses with complete straight sincerity to Alvy his desire whilst driving to turn into oncoming traffic and witness the destruction and sound of it all after which Duane is asked to drive Alvy and Annie to the airport, it’s one of the funniest moments of the film watching Alvy sit nervously in the car watching Duane. The film overall is clearly a semi autobiographical film and one of Allen’s finest movies, it’s clever, funny, well directed, intelligent, honest and entirely entertaining which is something very hard to come across these days as gross out humour, intelligent comedy and predicable story lines seem to dominate the comedy genre so if you fancy something unique and different try Annie Hall a true masterpiece of “Rom-Com” that offers so much with what seems so little effort.
Check out the brilliant opening below.
No. 216 – Manhattan (1979) – Rating 8.0
There will be arguments lasting a lifetime as to what film is Woody Allen’s best, with the brilliant Annie Hall and Manhattan the only films from Allen on the IMDb250 list it’s very likely these two will be most peoples pick, personally I’ve always had a soft spot for Sleeper but out of Manhattan and Annie Hall I think Manhattan just scrapes it as it’s Woody Allen’s finest achievement as a director although a little too similar to Annie Hall for my liking.
Allen plays comedy TV show Writer Isaac whose having a relationship with a 17-year-old girl (Mariel Hemingway) after his latest marriage fell apart when his wife left him for another woman. His ex wife (Meryl Streep) is writing a tell-all book which causes great anxiety that his personal life will be exposed including the accidental running over of his wife’s lesbian lover. His best friend and a married man Yale is a married man having an affair with Mary (Diane Keaton) who decides to break off the affair and stick to his wife pushing Mary on Isaac instead who is having doubts of his high school girl relationship claiming “I’m older than her father, can you believe that? I’m dating a girl, wherein, I can beat up her father”.
Isaac is then involved with two different relationships, one with an almost mid life crisis choice of an adoring teenager and one with a mature intellectual more suited to his own personality and so Isaac has to choose the one who can offer him the love he so desires in the city that he loves.
Having watched the film directly after Annie Hall and writing these reviews about a month after seeing them I’m finding it hard to distinguish between the two as their topics of relationships and the lead character being the quick talking funny little guy with glasses being very similar and I’m sure a few identical jokes appeared in both films and if it wasn’t for the different filming styles then maybe I wouldn’t have been so positive of Manhattan.
Manhattan is however a great film, its story and characters are unique, interesting and entertaining and when seeing the beauty of Manhattan never looking so gorgeous when shot in its wonderful black and white style from the flawless cinematography Gordon Willis (The Godfather, Annie Hall) and the opening sound of Gershwin blaring out then it makes Manhattan one of the most visually stunning films from the IMDb250 list.
You can find Barry’s next update next week, catch you in two.
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