Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now (1979) – IMDb

A magnificent film. After just watching Apocalypse Now I still have a profound feeling of being lost in a cruelly insane, dark but beautiful world. Wonderfully shot by Francis Ford Coppola and relishly written. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen with mysterious amazement. I have never seen Vietnam filmed so beautifully and so dangerously. This movie will stand the test of time for it is timeless. One generations will come to watch and seem familiar with because of so many other movies it has inspired today, but still will be viewed as it is iconicly fresh, as in with it’s own zest that can not be coppied. It is brutal, raw, a drug trip down the river hell.

There are some things about this movie you simply can not put down on paper. The imagery will stay with you long after the credits roll. I’m not talking about the shoot outs and the gun-ho scenes at the beginning, for me, it was the smaller imagery that took up a small bit of screen time like an airplane facing nose down in the river and the tail sticking straight out of the water as our unfateful crew boat beneath it. The writing as well is vivid and engrossing, it’s what captured my attention at first. When Willard hears Colonel Kurtz for the first time, and you get the first sense of the guy, it’s over a tape recorder and Kurtz says: “I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.” This is but one example among the single lines, conversations, and monologues that truly stand out and brings the film to another level. i would to make a list of the lines that most impressed me but I believe that will dull the effect of it and will be too long of a list, with the exception of: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The story of Apocalypse Now is a simple one: Capt. Willard must find a rogue soldier, Col. Kurtz, who has gone mad deep in the jungle and he must terminate Him. The lengthy movie (not taking in account it’s extended Redux) is a build up to the final half hour of the intimidating presence of Marlon Brando (Kurtz). He is sly and patient, smart and unpredictable. Kurtz is no ordinary man, he is a soldier who has been awarded many colors and stripes. However, he has reached a breaking point of going geniously mad and becoming a God among the locals and a few mindlessly lost Americans. One of which is Dennis Hopper who is great fun to watch as the photojournalist. When Willard arrives to Kurtz’s domain, he meets the Photojournalist who speaks about Kurtz on another level that makes it more personal and psychological; you learn more about this mad man and what he’s capable of. You start feeling more anguish and a lob in your throat. You start to wonder as Willard does to himself ‘how is he going to confront him? What is going to happen?’ The Vietnam jungle itself is a character. It boasts fear of the unknown into soldiers’ hearts; a labyrinth of lush trees and bushes leading to impending doom, and a hot attitude that will influence the strongest of soldiers to do unspeakable atrocities. Staying in the boat on this death trip away from the trees will not save their souls.

Apocalypse Now takes you on a journey that showcases war of men and horror. It is not easy as the dread sinks in from the first scene and doesn’t let up, dumping buckets as the minutes go by. Every image has its on spectacle and epic beauty. I remember movies on how they make me feel, and this one is worth remembering after all these years since it’s release and more years to come. The moments that happened prior to the conclusion are just as important. It is shot with patience and great magnitude that will leave you speechless after venturing into the Heart of Darkness.

Spring (2014)

Spring (2014) – IMDb

From the minds of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (Resolution) comes a fantasy tale of love disguised as a creature feature. Spring is a different movie and is similar to Richard Linklater’s talkie, but romantic Before trilogy with a monster twist. The movie is set on the coast of Italy, a beautiful setting with a labyrinth of brick roads. Age old buildings tower above the white cliffs overlooking the ocean with a taste of vino and smell of greenery in the air. This is where our protagonist, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), escapes from drama in the U.S. of A. after his mother passes, and he loses his job. He arrives in Italy and makes some quick acquaintances who help him to a few drinks and some fun.  Suddenly, Evan meets this beautiful ‘goddess’ of a woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker).  She is beautiful. If she told me she was a 2,000 year old mythical goddess, I would believe her. Louise is a man’s fantasy come true, inviting Evan to come away with her when they first meet. As easy as he could take her up on this offer, he simply wants to sit down and have a drink with her, get to know her more.  However, love has a way of ‘transforming’ things.

Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker have wonderful chemistry. At first, you can sense Evan wants this girl, whether it’s lust or love; and you can sense Louise being distant with him, but still likes his close company. The dialogue between them feels like we’re listening in on a conversation between two complete strangers who found a connection. The writing is authentic and quirky, and each character has their own characterized way of speaking, even the smaller roles. Spring is a slow paced movie, but is still ever so engrossing with the dynamic writing, beautiful scenery, and the unfolding of the mysterious, pretty lady’s dark, inner secret. The move is not scary, naturally. It has horror elements and themes, and the climatic monster reveal is both shocking and peculiar.

I blindly purchased Spring due to it’s interesting setting and plot, and after from what I heard, and instinct was telling me, we found each other at a local Best Buy as fate has brought us. I enjoyed this movie and the connection between the two leads. Lou Taylor Pucci is a well rounded actor. I have seen him in a few flicks now and find find his talent underrated. In Spring, he is charismatic and very likable as Evan, even funny; same goes for Nadia Hilker’s role. Although, I watched a special featurette where the makers felt the ending was premature, so they went out and shot an extended ending with their iPhones. To be honest, I was happy with the original ending and thought the new one turned Evan into an unlikable character.

Anyways, Spring is a unique film. It’s labeled horror, but it’s different and not what you’d expect. If you’re expecting something like Species or The Howling, then this might not be for you. If you want something fresh, change of pace, like HoneymoonI do recommend it as a date night movie. Spring stands out from the rest of the body horror/creature feature flock, possibly becoming a cult classic.

Honeymoon (2014)

Honeymoon (2014) – IMDb

This movie is quite unnerving, especially if you stick around until the end. Honeymoon starts slow, showing you how these two newly wed love birds, Paul and Bea, are affectionate towards one another. You watch their relationship and can’t help but care about their blissful existence. Movies usually start after development about twenty some odd minutes in, and it’s somewhere after these twenty minutes things begin to change. You feel this change in relationship, in the atmosphere. It goes from happy to eerie and to downright creepy. Honeymoon isn’t a horror that’s all in your face and relies on bloodshed and heavy special effects. Although, where there is in small doses, it makes all that much more effective. The movie is more psychological since you watch this mystery unravel through Paul’s eyes, watching his new wife act so oddly, like a stranger, and like him, neither of us really know what’s going on.

The movie begins with Paul and Bea discuss their wedding and proposal to the camera. It’s light, funny, and maybe some could relate. Next, they arrive at their honeymoon cabin mountain side next to a lake in a small community with almost no one present. They are a happy couple and we’re happy for them. The writing seems genuine and handles the events that unfold with care. It is slow but not boring. Something is going to happen and you almost don’t want it to, however, one night changes their lives forever. That’s when things become really interesting and creepy. The slow pace helps us ease in to the mood and the shock value is increased.  Honeymoon is a slow burn mystery that becomes increasingly unnerving and leaves you feeling anchored at the bottom of the lake’s bed.  Rare finds like this makes movie viewing worth while if you don’t want a film to attack your senses every five minutes. It’s a worthy find if you catch it before it catches you.

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014)

Hector and the Search for Happiness (2014) – IMDb

Are you happy? What is happiness to you? Hector, a psychologist, sets out on a grand adventure around the world searching for the meaning of true happiness, something his nice and tidy life seems to be missing. During his meetings with his patients, he just hears their stories and problems but not listening. He eventually comes to the conclusion, with help of a psychic who is a patient, that he must undergo a journey for himself and bring happiness to his bland life. But if you have the woman you love and your day follows the same routine, pattern by pattern, day in day out, and you are safe, what more would you want? Hector and the Search for Happiness isn’t just about us watching Hector on his spiritually awakening journey to the corners of the Earth, but perhaps it’s him who takes us and shows us there is more out there to understand and be happy about.This is a turn for comedic British actor Simon Pegg, making this rather more mature and thought provoking than his other features, although still consisting a fun and humorous trip.

Hector seems to be trapped under something heavy he doesn’t know and we don’t. Only we find out in the final crucial, unexpected scenes when everything comes to a point. Hector still has a sense of innocence like a child inside him, refraining him from living his life. The movie has little bits of cartoonist transitions that are playful and come as an unexpected joy. He starts off from China to Africa and finally the United States, taking notes on what is happiness. He asks a variety of people who are surrounded by money, sex, and poverty. This also allows it too become an emotional journey for our protagonist. Hector is swept with love in all sorts of colors, also experiences fear but only to overcome it, and making us laugh, even out loud, throughout the movie.

Hector and the Search for Happiness was a surprise for me, normally i know what I’m about to watch but I chose this on the whim. It’s a thought provoking and heart warming movie that can even change your life! (given to a certain degree.) There is a lot to love, learn, and be happy about. You just have to search for it and let it find you. The cameos were also fun to see and be interacted with. I enjoyed this movie, not a dull moment. If I were able to travel like Hector or even for FREE, no one would see me again. I’d backpack to the Himalayas all the way down to the sandy beaches of South America and around the world for another go. Until i came to my unexpected end to an expansive, chaotic life I learned to love.

Extra: Simon Pegg was a character in The Adventures of Tin Tin and he has posters and books of Tin Tin in Hector’s office which was cool to see.

Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World (2015) IMDb

The park is open, welcome to John Hammond’s dream come true, Jurassic World! It’s bigger and badder and has more teeth – well than the third installment at least. It’s hard to top the first Jurassic Park but where this one suffers from predictability and lacks emotional depth, it is far superior than Jurassic Park 3 and possibly The Lost World. Jurassic World offers two hours of solid entertainment and wonderful CGI, along with some nostalgia to tie in with the first.

It’s a rather simple story and doesn’t waste time to start. We’re introduced to Zach and Grey, the children this time around who get the fortune of seeing the dinosaurs up close in person, thanks to their parents who send them off for the weekend to visit their Auntie Claire, the park director, for some relationship bonding. Too bad she’s wrapped up in her work showing off the new park attraction to the investors. Apparently, the park attendants are becoming accustomed to seeing dinosaurs like seeing an elephant. According to the investors, park visitors are becoming bored and they need to re-inject the thrill and create something new (but they’re DINOSAURS for crying out loud). So they splice several DNA traits to create something that will wow the crowd. Something monstrous and dangerous so they will remember. Once again, the mad scientists succeed. Didn’t they learn the first time? As long as it’s cool and exciting, profit and crowds keep flooding in, what’s to worry? One can only imagine what Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant would say to this irresponsibly blind decision.

Like other Jurassic films, chaos ensues. At times, Jurassic World is predictable and it can feel messy like towards the end. But it’s a fun ride nonetheless. The raptors move more like their descendants, reacting like birds. The scene in which they are introduced with Chris Pratt’s Owen, is believable and most interesting to see these animals obey commands and why. The CGI is by far the best out of the series, making the dinosaurs more life like and detailed. It was hard to tell the difference between animatronics and CGI. The genetically cross bred monster is scary and fierce. They did a great job constructing this killing machine but it still doesn’t have the same presence the T-Rex did in the original. I didn’t feel for any of the characters except Owen who I’m sure everyone will root for. He doesn’t have the same presence as Grant or Malcolm, but who wants the same guy? He’s a different character and doesn’t try to be like who they were. Owen carries most of the comedic weight (and brains for that matter). The ending fight scene is a blast and a lot more satisfying than Jurassic Park 3, even though it is total Hollywood. The theater I was in even began to clap…yea, I did, too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Universal decided to make another Jurassic themed ride or even park. The movie, for the most part, was believable. The park itself felt real with it’s product placement and an original layout that seems like a blueprint for something we can one day have the pleasure of walking through ourselves.

This is Colin Trevorrow’s first big budget film, before this he hasn’t done much except Safety Not Guaranteed. I’d consider this a great feat. It’s a quick, entertaining film i can see him doing more of. What I found cool was that they brought back some ideas from previous installments that were scrapped. One I noticed and I was happy for was the pterodactyl scene. Originally, in the Lost World, how it was going to end was the survivors were escaping via helicopter and they get attacked by a couple pterodactyls. This scene was revived here in this feature and even kept an unfortunate pilot getting stabbed by a beak. I am not happy with the end sequence of The Lost World: Jurassic Park because I felt it was self indulgent. Given, it’s cool to see a T-Rex roaming the city streets, watching Asian people running from a giant prehistoric lizard, and crew cameos getting eaten; but it was typical Hollywood and Spielberg really just wanted to see what it would be like to release this dinosaur in public. I’d prefer that to have waited for another installment. Perhaps I will eventually divulge myself into reviewing The Lost World and further explain. But at least it was not forgotten and found it’s way here.

This 4th installment reminds me even more of the Alien films than the previous efforts. Their is a hidden motive, or agenda if you will, for Hoskins. This made me love this franchise that much more because Alien is one of my all time favorites as in story and where it has gone. Once you witness Jurassic World for yourself, you can almost see where the next will follow, it has my curiosity, since it’s a believable solution. Either the military takes control for war disposal, or worse, creates human-dinosaur hybrids.

Jurassic World is not perfect. Regardless though, you will be entertained and have forgotten or wished there never was a 3. The lack of patience it had resulted in a loss of emotional depth and some showmanship, and the writing quickly covers up the deep themes the original talked about. This sequel did what it was supposed to and kept things different without swaying too far from the core Jurassic experience. Maybe next time the scientists will think twice before bio-engineering something not naturally existent, that’s if Ingen doesn’t get in the way. There are even easter eggs littered throughout, like a woman reading Ian Malcolm’s book on the bus or the mosquito caught in the amber from the first movie is made into a larger monument. I think this is the sequel Jurassic deserves without trying to be a brainless copy. It’s a fun adventure that is refreshing, believable, and possibly the best to come out since the original Jurassic Park.

Welcome to the park of Jurassic World.

The Raid 2 (2014) – IMDb

via The Raid 2 (2014) – IMDb.

Like the rest of the audience who has seen The Raid: Redemption, I was excited to see the sequel The Raid 2: Berandal. When I first found out it was showing at a local theater in my territory for a limited time with few showings to offer, I just had to get a ticket. I walked in the dark, empty theater which the movie has just begun and grabbed my seat, looking at the screen the whole way. Once I sat, a voice to my left says: “out of the whole theater you had to sit next to me?” I didn’t even notice someone was there, the man moves and I say “my bad”. I just wanted to see this film with the best seat. This epic, bloody and complex film Gareth Evans, writer and director, originally conceived before The Raid 1.

The first movie is much simpler than the second. It was straight forward with amazing fights and stunts. The sequel takes off just moments after, already introducing a major villain. We’re then brought to the attention our hero from the previous movie, Rama, that he’s being sent in to the underground world by a secret organization who seeks out corrupt cops. He is to help a dangerous gang member, Uco, who is in jail and earn his trust so he is accepted into their clan on the outside. Once he earns their respect and trust he is to cut the head off the snake so the gang wars will come to an end. But it becomes more than what Rama was expecting, he is caught into a web of distrust, betrayal, and an all out war. The beginning of The Raid 2 is a bit confusing at first, you’re introduced to a number of characters and backgrounds. It’s a little hard to keep up because of the pace it is presented but eventually you move on after the first half hour with a deadly brutal fight scene in the muddy courtyard inside the jail.

The movie doesn’t kid around when it comes to violence, neither is it shy. It is raw and can rival the darkest of horror. It’s an all in your face, no holds bared, adrenaline pumped two and half hour movie. I felt bruised and exhausted after the first movie which was an hour shorter; this one has more to offer as to do with the storyline, which is somewhat reminiscent of The Godfather series. The Raid 2 is relentless in depicting violence but the choreograph is superb. Most notably is the kitchen scene which is Gareth’s favorite, and mine, too. You can feel the momentum and impact in all the fight sequences, they have a way of feeling dynamic. No fight scene is used just to have a fight, everything has lead up to that point where there is reason to fight and makes it feel that more impactful. Much like Gareth’s directing which is also dynamic, it flows with the story and movement of the characters like a punch to the face or grinding a head to the wall. I do have one suggestion, or minor complaint, with all the brutality in the air I was looking for a different fight scene to change pace. There is a scene which leads outside from a club to the snowy streets. The tempo is slowed for a little and our character is faced with another villain, The Assassin. The snow is falling, you still have the dark atmosphere, but the brutality persists. I was hoping for this scene to have a beautifully crafted fight in the snow, without an overdose of blood shed and a ballet like fight. It may sound corny but wish Gareth switched the fighting style. A death like that should be beautiful not torn away meaninglessly. Although, the car chase sequence is awesome and increases the heart rate and is well shot.

Other than the Assassin, two icons have emerged here as if ripped from a comic book. You have a deaf mute, Hammer Girl, who wields two hammers and delivers heavy damage. And her brother Baseball Bat Man who carries a bat and his trusty baseball. The two together are the most interesting characters here who could have their own movie covering their background. Which Gareth Evans did discuss during the awkward Q&A in the special features. Either way, their child-like manners don’t get in the way of them hammering down or hitting their victim from afar with a baseball.

There is a lot that happens in The Raid 2 , although a little confusing first time round, it has a good storyline with unforgetful fight sequences. It’s either just as good as it’s predecessor or better, up to you, but I think it’s just as good. Gareth Evans has filmed a very dynamic and visually artistic action-gangster-epic. He has kept most of his crew from his past couple projects; you will notice stuntmen and characters reprised, and some even from his segment in V/H/S 2 (which was quite shocking and down right creepy). I like it when sequels are different from the first and can still entertain, keeping things fresh. I look forward to the next installment, hoping it will bring a little more to the table. The first two had a dash of subtle dark humor, but very little, perhaps the next Raid will provide more and add some emotional depth. What do you think?

Jurassic Park (1993) – IMDb

via Jurassic Park (1993) – IMDb.


I remember owning this movie on VHS and had my name written on it so people knew whose it was. Jurassic Park had a tremendous influence on me, as it did a whole generation and many to come; it was one of the reasons I fell in love with practical effects and creature features. Steven Spielberg didn’t intend for this movie to be a monster movie but more about what would happen if engineers brought dinosaurs to life and we walked side by side? Universal Studios bought the rights to Jurassic Park before it was even published, confident it would be a box office hit. Right they were. The movie was sold out for consecutive days. David Koepp, the writer, said: “I’m no expert, but I think this is a good movie.” We’re still under the shadow of this colossal movie, having the fourth installment arriving just days away, exactly 22 years after the first was released. It is much anticipated by fans and new comers to sink their teeth into but I feel it won’t have as much a bite as the first initially did. It is epic, beautiful, thought provoking, and a harrowing adventure that friends and families will remember for a lifetime to come.

We all know Steven Spielberg can handle any project he comes into contact with, he has an act for directing with a sense of warmth, suspense and adventure in his pictures. Jurassic Park is clearly a masterpiece. From the special effects to the subtle wit to the dramatic ferociousness and back to the overwhelming, spectacular effects. Stan Winston (Aliens) and his team out did themselves here, the effects are top notch and even subtle. Like when Lex shines a light into the T-Rex’s eye, it dilates; or when the raptor’s eyelids move or nostrils flare. The dinosaurs have so much life, you can see the weight and even their breath on glass. They seem so realistic it’s extraordinary to this day, and the CGI is better than a lot of movies today. The special effects won an award for their hard earned effort and same for the incredible sound. Without the sound, or music, Jurassic Park would have a big difference. The score is beautiful and adventurous and will stay in your head, I even whistle it randomly. The music and sound together adds to it’s over all atmosphere giving it a distinctive feeling, it’s a whole another universe to experience and yet it’s familiar.

In the first hour it’s all character development. The slow burning attribute helps the viewer become aware of what you’re watching and it makes you feel more. It draws you in with the sense of control Spielberg has on the development of the story. You are introduced to an engaging and varied sorts of characters. You have the creator of the amusement park John Hammond, played by Richard Attenborough who was good friends with Spielberg and fits his role. Hammond comes and invites two paleontologists, Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Grant (Sam Niell), to visit his monstrous park. Sattler is ready to move forward in a relationship with Grant and have kids but he simply does not like them, must be the smell. Grant is also old fashioned and loves his work but sees technology is making his field more advanced. Although it helps with new discoveries, it takes away the whole experience of digging. Flying over seas via helicopter to an island 150 miles away from Costa Rica you meet Jeff Goldblum’s best fitting character Ian Malcolm, otherwise known as Dr. Chaos. There’s also the blood sucking lawyer, Genarro, who is greedy for money and only cares about convincing his investors; Hammond’s two grand kids who are stellar actors here, and the veteran hunter, Muldoon, who has a close eye on the velociraptors.

From the landing pad to becoming a dinosaur’s next meal is a fun experience on par with a theme park. Exactly one hour in is when the movie kicks in gear and you are treated to the infamous T-Rex scene breaking out of his paddock. Spielberg presents the terrifying creature with precision and horror, taking enough time to invoke this unstoppable fear that will cause chaos.
During filming, when it would rain, the T-Rex would malfunction and come to life and scared some of the crew. Shoot, I would, too, seeing it was a life size man-eater! The crew would give out warning when the monstrous king would step out onto the set since a sweep of it’s head flying by you felt like a bus passing by. Put that into perspective…

Jurassic Park will feed you some scary sequences. John Hammond, the theme park creator, takes his guests to the velociraptor’s paddock just in time to see it fed. You don’t see it, only it’s small area of confinement that’s covered with plant life. A cattle is lowered into the thick. And then the crunching and mauling sound of it being torn to shreds and the plant life shaking and swaying, reacting violently. The feeding scene is excruciatingly terrifying cause your imagination goes to work like the raptor does on the cattle. You also learn these animals have intelligence. What’s more terrifying than intelligence? Intelligence with memory, even more so when you find out it has escaped.

Man and dinosaurs were not meant to walk side by side. There are discussions and themes about it through out the movie. One of my favorite scenes, one that seems to be overlooked (and as a child I found boring) is after the raptor’s snacking when the group gather in a room to discuss the park and have a bite to eat. Although, no one touches their food. In fact Hammond is bewildered that the scientists don’t like the idea of free will to create this life that has been separated from humankind for 65 million years. Especially Ian Malcolm (who has the best lines), who has a morbid sense of humor but is also deep in thought; he is dressed in all black, contrary to John Hammond who is dressed in white. This is symbolic for the two characters. Hammond is a God-like figure. He has been present for every birth on the island and, like birds, they imprint the first face they come into contact with which helps them to trust him. Hammond has the power to create the illusion of life out of free will but failed to have the discipline and responsibility to gain this power therefore not fore seeing the actions he has put into play. Moving up from his flea circus, he wanted something tangible for people to see and touch. But he wants to control the uncontrollable; life finds a way, as Malcolm tries to convey to him the chaos theory. Malcolm has a dark approach but it’s reality. Telling Hammond that life breaks boundaries, painfully and even dangerously. You can not simply control something that wants to be free. It was natural selection that killed the dinosaurs and they were “[raping] the natural world” bringing them back. Hammond’s ignorance and Malcolm’s arrogance are the best of both worlds, providing us deep conversation with intrigue. 

Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park because of his fear of advancing bio-engineering technology and that one day dinosaurs will be back possibly for the sake of entertainment and profit. Something to think about of our future. Also, Crichton compared himself to Malcolm because of his outlook on life and Spielberg to Hammond. If that’s so, than I’m Grant cause I’m not really good with technology either.

We can’t even handle each other, what makes you think we can handle dinosaurs? Steven Spielberg has directed a genuinely smart, timeless epic that inspires me to read the book and will be loved by everyone to come into contact with. This magical movie leaves a message for us and after an unlikely hero saves the day, the ending moments leaves a sweet, melancholy filling. No words are spoken, just the beautiful score to help sink in our survivors’ weekend adventure.

Extra: I’d like to think Wayne Knight’s character Nedry, changed his name from Newman (Sienfeld) who was having financial problems but found a way to fix that. He left his apartment in New York and his post man job to do a gig for a company who wanted dinosaur specimens. His mission: to infiltrate the lab on Site A and acquire dinosaur embryos and return them for large amounts of cash. But when you combine money and greed, you become blinded by a toxic, gooey venom of evil.

Identity (2003) – IMDb

via Identity (2003) – IMDb.

It was around my 4th-5th grade year when Identity came out. Once it was released on home video my dad rented it and one night I really wanted to watch it. This was during the time when I was exploring all sorts of movies, expanding my knowledge on such great films. After watching Ghost Ship (not so great) and found it a little scary I thought I could watch anything. So late one night my father placed the movie in and before pressing play he says: “If you have any questions, save it for after the movie”. Unfortunately he fell asleep and I was left mesmerized, scared, and contemplating the whole story with questions raining in my head. I went to school the next day and heard a friend say she watched it the night before as well, I sprang into action and proclaimed “wasn’t it awesome?! What did you think?” She didn’t understand it and so she didn’t like it which baffled me. Never have I seen a movie or experienced one like this at that time in my life; this movie marked my love for psychological movies.

The story starts with one small act of an event that causes a chain reaction for several strangers to confront each other in a small, deserted motel in the middle of a storm out in the middle of nowhere. But the weird starts happening, people start dying, one by one. Tension rises with clues and twists that makes everyone a suspect making your head tumble like in the drier just to figure it out. Identity even points the finger for you, playing with your head. You will keep guessing until the very end and questioning what really is going on. Is it supernatural? A dream? Or just some trick? Some will probably figure it out beforehand but it’s fun ride none the less, since something is always going on.

John Cusack did an okay job as the limo driver, it isn’t his best work by far. Although, I’d enjoy to see him in a horror flick; he has a dark, curious presence that fits. Ray Liotta did a fine job as the cop, as well as John Hawkes as the manger of the motel from *southern accent* Mulberry.Gary Busey was convincing as the con-man and Amanda Peet’s acting felt a little forced but was good. The motel itself, though, is a dark, suspicious place. A place that you would dream about and wouldn’t want to get lost in, in it’s cold and wet, creepy atmosphere. The motel is shot beautifully by James Mangold who was enthusiastic about this moody, mystery project.

Identity is a great psychological thriller with elements of horror. It’s fun the second time round watching it, but after that the experience wears down, unless you watch it with someone with fresh eyes just to see how they take it in.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – IMDb

via A Fish Called Wanda (1988) – IMDb.

A dark comedy with sex, diamonds, foreign accents, and fish. A Fish Called Wanda kicks off with a group of four burglars who steal diamonds from a bank but unknowingly each of them wants to keep the loot for themselves. John Cleese writes this hysterical farce dishing out one-liners, vulgarities, and a clever-wit accompanied by a great story. This is his personally favorite film of his and he also stars as the lawyer who defends one of the suspects. If he’s lucky enough he may get a share of the loot and even the sexiest, most exciting woman he’s ever seen.

A Fish Called Wanda is a perfectly cast film. Even more so for Kevin Kline who won an Oscar for his performance, which surprised me because you don’t see that happen too often in this genre. It’s a stand out performance you will need to witness for yourself as the loony, don’t-call-me-stupid role, Otto. I can’t help but think if Super Mario was a villain in real life it would be Kevin Kline. I mean, look at how he jumps at the beginning of the movie in the garage when he and Wanda find out the loot has been relocated, reminds me of the older days of 2-D Mario.  Another stand out role is Jamie Lee Curtis who is sexy as ever as the conniving Wanda. She is determined to get her diamonds at any cost even if it means she has to kiss every major role player here (why couldn’t I have been a part of this?). Wanda pretends to be a law student and must get ‘friendly’ with a lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese), hoping he could tell her where the diamonds are since he is defending George, the one who relocated the loot. And then there’s the other Monty Python alumni, Michael Palin, as the stuttering K-K-Ken who is an animal lover and possibly has the saddest sub-plot who must kill the only witness: an elderly lady with three dogs. Palin’s father had a stutter so he knew how to transfer his experiences to the film.

Everyone did an excellent job in this funny, funny fare. Cleese wrote a story that is a bit messy but gets flattened out by the end (ba-da-bum-bum). A Fish Called Wanda is a smart, cleverly written movie that has hysterical moments and inside jokes that will leave you laughing so hard your heart beat will race 250-500 beats a minute like the guy in Denmark who died laughing in the theater. Yes, really. A forgotten gem that should be watched to remember how funny a good comedy can be with a smart story line and witty, fun characters. If you decide to watch this with a side of Fish n’ Chips don’t eat the green fish, it’s not ripe yet.

Hell to Eternity (1960) – IMDb

via Hell to Eternity (1960) – IMDb.

Over at my grandfather’s  I’m scanning his book collection which consists of WWII stories and other knowledgeable information on the war. Now he is someone who watches a lot of History Channel or Military Channel and anything in between on WWII to the point my grandma comes in the room and asks him “did Hitler win the war yet?” Among his historical book collection, he pulls out a book titled Saipan by Guy Gabaldon. My grandfather showed me the book was signed by Guy and they even had a few pictures together. I became interested and so I edged my grandpop to tell me more. Certainly, this was an offer he couldn’t refuse, he began to tell me it was about a young man who fought in the pacific and persuaded hundreds of Japanese civilians and soldiers to surrender single handedly. Now that is a great wartime story. After I found out Saipan was made into a full feature length film, knowing me, I located it on Amazon and purchased a copy for my grandfather and I to watch.

To rewind a little, Guy Gabaldon was born in Los Angeles, CA. At an early age he was orphaned and then was raised by a Japanese family who took him in in the 1930s and he even began learning their language and customs. Once 18, he was sent to fight for the U.S. on Saipan in 1944, an island off of Japan. Hell To Eternity starts with build up then the rest is shipped to the islands for the war where marines were getting killed left and right, fortunately Guy knew Japanese and used it to his advantage by communicating with the enemy. This was most helpful when he surprised the Japanese leader and told him to call off the attack or else he, the leader, would be shot. He told Guy that the order was already given, so regardless if he was killed or not the orders would be carried out. Guy takes the general out to call his men off and turn themselves in. Now, if you know Japanese custom, this is dishonorable and you would take your life for your country. The general conveys the message to his troops who are battered and starving and explains to Guy it wasn’t a pretty sight seeing his troops surrender. After hearing their leader’s command they submit and the general takes his life overlooking his several hundred men. Guy Gabaldon courageously turned in 800 hundred Japanese. An amazing, unheard of story I found inspirational and eye opening.

The movie is shot in black and white but the movie moves at a decent pace. Actually, some real WWII footage was used for the landing on the beach. Hell to Eternity is not all that violent but there is blood and many gunshot wounds. Wonderfully shot, the explosions and fight scenes are a great depiction of what happened on Saipan, so no need to worry about boredom. The story, though, is truly the main feat. Everything from seeing Guy’s new found family being sent to an American-Asian camp (who my grandfather even remembers at a young age nice Japanese neighbors being forced to move away) to delivering the unarmed, Japanese soldiers. I found myself relating to this movie, but in a sense of trading and receiving culture. I’ve grown up all over the place and my grandfather is Mexican and I’m Caucasian, and yet we’re very alike. Also, see below picture, right is Guy Gabaldon and left is the actor who portrayed Guy, Jeffrey Hunter. This is like SO Hollywood, getting a white man in Hispanic shoes, no bash though, Jeffrey did a fine job. Culture is everywhere and if we can set everyone’s differences to the side the world would be a more happy place. Family knows no color. I enjoyed this movie and I am happy it’s in my collection already. Do yourself a favor, dig up this classic and give it a watch.