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 What I've Just Watched: Part 2

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:20 pm

I had an Oliver Stone double today...

Platoon (1986), a very personal film for director Oliver Stone, as he served in Vietnam in 1968. Shortly after he got back, he wrote a script based on his experiences, but nothing ever came of it. He became a successful writer doing Midnight Express (1978) and Scarface (1983), but he made a name for himself as a director with Salvador (1986), and that's what got him to make this. The rest as they say is history. It has Pvt. Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) arriving in Vietnam in September 1967, and he's put with Bravo Company, 25th Infantry division. He discovers the horrors of war as he goes on tours of duty through the jungle near the border with Cambodia. Taylor has two commanding officers, one is the ill-tempered Sgt. Robert Barnes (Tom Berenger) and the more easy going Sergeant Elias Grodin (Willem Dafoe). Taylor soon finds himself heading for an emotional meltdown, and questions why is he fighting this war. This film would eventually win 4 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It is very emotionally charged and very draining too, but this was a war that drained all that was involved in it. It's not as good as Full Metal Jacket, but it's claustrophobic and very uncomfortable. But Stone would return to Vietnam again and again with Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven & Earth (1993). Look out for appearances from Forest Whitaker, John C. McGinley and Johnny Depp. 4/5



Wall Street (1987), from one jungle to another. After the Oscar success of Platoon, Oliver Stone wasted no time in getting his next film up and going. This time, he was in the urban jungle, paying homage to his father, who worked as a stockbroker during the Great Depression. But, this was about the uprising of greed within the high stakes world of the stock market and the ever-changing face of economy in 1980's America. It has rising young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) wanting to get to the top, he wants to be like corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), who is renowned player on Wall Street. To win Gordon over, Bud, he pitches Gordon some stocks from the airline company that his father Carl (Martin Sheen) works for. Gordon's interest is piqued, and goes for it. In return, Gordon introduces Bud to his world, and promises Bud the riches, the power, the glory. But, Bud has to do a few favours for Gordon, and all of them are illegal, and Bud learns the hard way that with power comes equal hardships. It is a power and dramatic tale, it's got several engaging performances, especially from Douglas, whose Gordon Gecko is a smooth and corrupt dealer, (Douglas won an Oscar for this), and Charlie Sheen, usually understated as an actor, does brilliant work as the confident young financier whose world crumbles around him. The upcoming sequel should be interesting to see in post credit crunch America. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:45 am

Platoon is brilliant. Not so keen on Wall Street



The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. (2nd view) - The only film ever written by Dr. Suess. is a madcap piece of brilliance. A young boy dreams that he's being held prisoner by his piano tutor and forced to play a giant piano. Inventive and imaginative design, some great songs (especially the dungeon song) and Hans Conried as Dr. Terwilliker is one of cinema's finest villains - 4/5




Barnum (1st view) - Burt Lancaster stars as P.T.' Barnum, celebrated showman from the 1800s. He talks directly to the audience as the film flashes back and forth to various important moments of his life. Not the most incisive biopic ever made, but Lancaster's good to watch - 3/5




The Bedford Incident (1st view) - Cold War thriller starring Richard Widmark as a captain of a destroyer intent on chasing down a Russian nuclear submarine. Sidney Poitier is a visiting reporter and the two frequently clash. Very effective.


_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:27 am

The Wolfman (2010), after a load of false starts, a change of director quite late on, behind the scenes troubles and numerous reshoots, re-edits and it's release date being changed every 5 minutes. Universal's new version of one of their classic horror from 1941 is finally here. It's cheesy fun, very well made, and has some good scary moments. It could have been another Van Helsing, but no, it's actually a good bit of fun. Set in 1891, it has Shakesperian actor Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returning home to his home at Blackmoor, England, reunited with his father John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). Where he receives the news that his brother Ben has died. Turns out Ben was killed by some vicious animal in the woods, Lawrence vows to Ben's fiance Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) to get to the bottom of what's happened. When Lawrence is attacked by this animal, he soon finds himself feeling animal instincts and... well you know the rest. It's got a gothic quality similiar to Sleepy Hollow, it's very well made, and it's not afraid to show the blood and gore. (Very brave) Del Toro makes a very good Wolfman, and it gives him the chance to do something new, whilst Hopkins hams it up like hell. Director Joe Johnston has fun with this material, but there is a much darker film hiding in there somewhere. 4/5



Wonder Boys (2000), after the success of L.A. Confidential (1997), director Curtis Hanson decided to try something a little different, something a little lighter but with good characters. He chose upon doing an adaptation of Michael Chabon's 1995 novel, which on paper could have been messed up with a film adaptation, but Hanson retained the book's love of it's colourful and offbeat characters. The result is one of the most unsung masterpieces of last decade. It has Professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas), who teaches creative writing at a top Pittsburgh university. His marriage is in absolute tatters, and he's having an affair with the University's Dean, Sara Gaskell (Frances McDormand). One of Tripp's students Hannah (Katie Holmes) rents a room in his house, while her friend and fellow student James Leer (Tobey Maguire) is dark and quiet. Tripp has just finished the manuscript for a new novel which his editor Terry Crabtree (Robert Downey Jr.) has come to see during the University;s weekend long literary event. But during this weekend, nothing seems to go right for Tripp. It's a brilliant little comedy-drama with some brilliant performances, Douglas hasn't been this brilliant in ages, and Maguire (pre-Spidey) is engaging and tremendous. It has some very funny set pieces, real emotion and heart and a brilliant Oscar-winning theme song by Bob Dylan. This is actually Curtis Hanson's masterpiece, what a pity it was dumped by it's studio upon release. It's rare you get a film with freewheeling spirit and heart like this... 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:59 am

Solaris/Solyaris (1st view) - Epic, Russian science fiction film. Mind-boggling at times but strangely hypnotic - 3/5*





Woodstock (1st view) - Three reasons I wish I was born about 30 years earlier. First, so I could see the moon landings as they happened. Second, so I could be a hippie in 60's America. Third, the music better music back then. Woodstock combines those last two reasons and the director's cut of the film is three and a half hours of weird clothing, sights you'd probably not want to see again, peace, love and cool music. Showing an event that came at the end of an era, the film really does capture the times and the mood of the people there. Yet, despite its epic runtime,there still no room for CCR and barely any Jefferson Airplane. Boooo! I should get the DVD I suppose 4/5*


_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:46 am

The Twilight Samurai (1st view) - A real unexpected treat this was. I knew nothing about it before watching. A widowed, low-ranking Samurai with little money is looked upon with pity and as something of a joke from the people he works with. More concerned with his everyday struggles rather than battles, this is a slow-moving but excellent film. It stars Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai. Yay! Speed Racer. Boo!) and he's exellent too - 5/5*



_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:57 am

Mimic (3rd view) - One of Del Toro's most enjoyable films, and generally better than many similar gory creatures features from recent years - 4/5




My Neighbor Totoro (1st view) - Better than most Ghibli films I've seen, but still not great. I an't understand the love thet get.



_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:57 pm

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), by the mid-1980's, John Hughes had made quite a name for himself as a bard of teen angst with films such as Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985). With his star on the rise, he was contacted by Paramount to quickly write a script with the impending threat of a writers strike. He knocked the script out in a mere 6 days, the result is one of his best films, and a true role model for us all. It has teenager Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) who throws a sickie from school, and plans having a whole day to himself, also with his girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) and his best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck). However, Ferris has had 9 "sick days" that school semester, and the Dean of Students, Ed Rooney (a wonderful Jeffrey Jones), suspects he's skiving, and is determined to catch him for it, but Ferris has craftily found away to stay one step ahead of being caught, and he and his friends take on Chicago for the day. This is a very funny film with some brilliant dialogue and good visual gags, many including the plight of Jones' as the beleaguered Dean. It's one of Hughes' very best film, and his talents are very much missed to this day, we could have used him in these days and times. Oh, and the sing-along to Twist and Shout by The Beatles is awe-inspiring. Everyone should be like Ferris!! Very Happy 4.5/5



The Rain People (1969), whilst making the musical Finian's Rainbow (1968), director Francis Ford Coppola was dreaming of just going off and doing a film across the country without having to be tied down by studio politics and being restricted to soundstages. So, he gathered together a few of his friends, (one of them being George Lucas, who did a documentary on the making of this film), and they set off in a few trucks, and went across America to make a film, and this was the result. It's the story of a bored housewife Natalie Ravenna (Shirley Knight), who one day decides that she needs a break from the constraints of marriage, she's recently discovered that she's pregnant, and her husband Vinny (Robert Modica) doesn't seem to understand her. So, she just drives off across America to get away from it all, along the way she picks up a hitchhiker Jimmy Kilgannon (James Caan), a brain damaged football player, who she falls for, and she also encounters lonely highway patrol trooper Gordon (Robert Duvall). It's a film similiar in tone and structure to 2 other films that came out that year, Midnight Cowboy and Easy Rider, only this is more emotionally sensitive and not as gratuitous with sex and violence. It's well made for a low-budget film, and it shows what direction Coppola was going in, and he had aspirations of an American New Wave, which had it's moment in the 1970's. It's a sensitive and touching drama which shows the side to America we hardly ever see. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:53 am

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days/Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (1st view)
Fascinating account of Sophie School, a German student who was arrested in 1943 for being part of a resistance movement. Some of the officials come across as cartoonish but it's a very interesting film - 4/5*




The Wolfman (1st view) - Benicio del Toro is miscast and can't hide his accent. Anthony Hopkins looked bored. The effects aren't all that great and a lot of it doesn't make much sense. Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving are good though, and I liked Danny Elfman's score. Passes the time if you're in the mood - 3/5*

_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:33 pm

Coonskin (1975), you'd never get away with a film like this now!! Ralph Bakshi, riding high after the success of Fritz the Cat (1972) and Heavy Traffic (1973), teamed up with Oscar-winning producer Albert S. Ruddy, for this dark satire of blaxploitation films, done in animation, (with live action segments throughout), with a plot not too far removed from Song of the South (1946). It has our Uncle Remus, prisoner Pappy (Scatman Crothers) who recalls the story of three criminals, Brother Rabbit (Philip Michael Thomas), Brother Bear (Barry White) and Preacher Fox (Charles Gordone), who take on the world of organised crime in Harlem, including homophobic cop Madigan, con-men Simple Savior and 'Black Jesus', plus The Godfather and his transexual Mafia sons. Highly controversial upon release, but it's since achieved cult status, it's the only one of it's kind, but it ain't racist, it's making fun of racist stereotypes, though it does have a serious undercurrant. It's very violent, and it doesn't hold up on the sex either. But fearless as he was then, it nearly killed Bakshi's career, hence he did The Lord of the Rings (1978). 4/5



Beetlejuice (1988), Tim Burton had finally broke into making films after years as a Disney animator with his childish guilty pleasure Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), but Burton was still trying to find his feet as a director, and he found it with this. Beetlejuice could have been a flash-in-the-pan one-off from Burton, instead it put him on the road of a weird and wonderful which gladly continues to this day. It had happily married couple Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) who decide to spend their vacation doing up their house. But, they're killed in a road accident, yet find themselves trapped within their house, which ends up being sold to the Deetzes from New York, Charles (Jeffrey Jones), Delia (Catherine O'Hara) and gothic daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder). Barbara and Adam need help, and find out they have to stay in the house for 125 years and if they want the Deetzes out, they have to scare them away. Although Barbara and Adam end up summoning "freelance bio-exorcist" Betelguese (Michael Keaton), who is obnoxious, perverted and insane, and just ends up making the situation worse. It's still as fresh, inventive and funny as it was over 20 years ago when it first came out, it's got everything that we now come to expect from Burton's films. Keaton is an absolute hoot as the title "ghost with the most". This is one of Burton's very best, and he had a wicked sense of humour then. After this, the rest, as they say, is history!! Harry Belafonte will NEVER sound the same again!! Very Happy 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:34 am

The Princess and The Frog (1st view) - Just the kind of thing I needed to cheer me up. Great fun and it's wonderful to see Disney doing 2d animation again - 4/5*


_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:19 am

Coraline (2009), Henry Selick, who made a name for himself with The Nightmare Before Christmas, takes on Neil Gaiman's children's novella, and doing it in stop-motion is a match made in heaven. It differs from Gaiman's source material, but Selick makes it into a much better and visually perfect story. It has 11 year old Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) moving into the Pink Palace Apartments with her Mum (Teri Hatcher) and Dad (John Hodgman). Coraline is bored in her new surroundings, and her parents don't seem to take much attention of her, (they're more preoccupied with their career.) But, one day, Coraline discovers a hidden door, which leads to another world, where she has an Other Mother and Father, and it's more colourful and exciting world than the one which she lives in. However, Coraline gets more than she bargained for, when her Other Mother and Father expect her to stay in this Other World. It's very dark, and it's very creepy too, but there's so much invention and imagination on display here, Selick brings the best of it's source material, and much more. This film is the ultimate proof that we need more stop-motion animation films. It's not as good as NBX, but it's near enough, and one of the best animations of the decade!! 5/5



Outland (1981), from director Peter Hyams, whose career includes such sci-fi films as Capricorn One (1978), 2010 (1984) and Timecop (1994) comes this thriller whose plot was inspired by High Noon. It has all the thematic tones of a western, but it has the visual look of Alien (1979). Despite this, it's a gripping and exciting film, and it's actually one of Sean Connery's better parts, it was this which helped put him on the road to a comeback. Set on Jupiter's largest Moon, Io. It follows Federal Marshal William O'Niel (Connery), who has been signed on to do a one year tour of duty on the moon's ore mining base, Con Am 27. No sooner than he gets there, he discovers corporate corruption surrounding the grisly deaths of some of the miners. They were given a drug which left them psychotic. O'Niel confronts the bases General Manager, Sheppard (Peter Boyle) about it, turns out Sheppard has been bribing the base's police to turn a blind eye, and argues that everyone seems to like the drug. But, O'Niel won't stand for it, and decides to bring Sheppard and his assassins down. This is a very good and very suspenseful action sci-fi film, it's got brains about it, and it hasn't really aged that much, and Connery makes a good action hero in this. It's a world away from High Noon, but it shares the same message, the greed of the corporate class will prevail. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:20 am

The Lovely Bones (2009), after becoming an epic filmmaker with Lord of the Rings and King Kong, Peter Jackson has retreated from those epic excesses for something a little more intimate and emotional. He took on Alice Sebold's 2002 novel The Lovely Bones, and it is a weird little drama, although it does capture the era it's set in brilliantly. You can't fault Jackson for wanting to try something different, he's earned that right. Set in 1973 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, it has Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a 14 year old teenager who has dreams of being a photographer. But, her life is tragically cut short when she is murdered by her neighbour, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). While Susie's parents Jack and Abigail Salmon (Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz) mourn her loss, Susie finds herself in the afterlife, a fantasy world made up of fragments of her life, she herself comes to terms with the fact she was murdered, and even in death, wants Harvey to have his comeuppance, but it's the love for her family that keeps her going. Alot of people have compared this to Vincent Ward's What Dreams May Come (1998), both have vivid depictions of the afterlife, but Jackson does well with adapting a complex and difficult book. The cast are wonderful, Saoirse Ronan is radiant and Stanley Tucci is just creepy and uncomfortable. The critics have got the wrong end of the stick over this film, it is compelling and visually stunning film, and Jackson was very brave to have done this. Not all of it works, but it shows his imagination is still as active as ever. 4/5



Nightbreed (1990), after the success of Hellraiser (1987), Hollywood came calling to Clive Barker. He decided he would adapt his own novella Cabal. This is the film that should have put him on the map as a brilliant filmmaker, it had a great concept, however studio interference would put the kibosh on that, which is a great shame, as this is a brilliantly cheesy but effective and scary horror film. It has Aaron Boone (Craig Sheffer), a disturbed young man plagued by dreams of a city called Midian, which is located underground and has allsorts of weird creatures and the like, which are known as the Nightbreed. However, Aaron is framed for murder by his psychiatrist, Decker (David Cronenberg), Aaron ends up being killed by the police and resurrected by the magic of Midian. He has become one of them, and along with the other creatures decide to battle humans, who want to bring them down. It's a silly but entertaining monster feature, Barker is certainly imaginative, and there's some good moments in the film, and it has a black sense of humour running through it's veins. The score by Danny Elfman is very good, and it's well designed. The longer version of the film has recently been unearthed, will it be any better?? :Wink: 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:21 am

Superbad (2007), after the success of Knocked Up, producer Judd Apatow and writer/star Seth Rogen decided to do a teen comedy, but before you write it off as another teen comedy, it's alot deeper than that, and it is genuinely very funny, harking back to the teen comedies of the good old days. It is two weeks before the end of high school, and long time friends Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) will be going to different colleges, and may not see each other again. But, they want to have sex with a girl before they depart, and are invited to a party. So, they get their nerdy friend Fogell, (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to use his fake ID, (which has the single name of McLovin on it) to obtain alcohol. But, nothing goes according to plan, especially when clueless cops Michaels (Seth Rogen) and Slater (Bill Hader) turn up. Rogen started writing the script with writing partner Evan Goldberg when they were 13, just to see if they could do it. Over a decade later, they succeeded. It's a very rude film indeed, but it does have good dialogue, and very hilarious performances from it's 3 young male leads, but it's Rogen and Hader who nearly steal the film as the two cops, who like a good party as much as our 3 heroes do. Razz It's clever and it has real heart to it's name. Smile 4.5/5



The Informant! (2009), Steven Soderbergh has been trying to a film of Kurt Eichenwald's 2000 nonfiction thriller novel since Ocean's Eleven (2001), but he's worked on other projects since then, but with a little persistence, he finally got it made, and what could have been a dark, paranoid thriller is turned into a colourful and cheery black comedy, with a brilliant lead performance and the one of the best soundtracks ever which compliments the film wonderfully. It's the true story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon, with silly moustache and fat tummy), who in 1992, is a rising executive at Archer Daniels Midland, where cereal grains and oilseeds are processed. Whitacre finds himself in league with the FBI, blowing the whistle on the company’s price-fixing tactics. Whitacre ends up telling the truth, and alot more than the truth. Turns out Whitacre has bipolar disorder, and he might not be telling the truth, and his seemingly good deeds become his downfall. Soderbergh creates a serious comedy from a complex and bizarre legal case, but there are dark laughs to be found in this film. It's very offbeat with it's visuals, (it could have almost have come from the 1970's), Damon shows a brilliant comedic talent which he's seldom used. The best thing about the film is the light, breezy, jazzy score by the great Marvin Hamlisch, which is a contender for one of the best soundtracks of all. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:22 am

Fitzcarraldo (1982), Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski ride again, they return to Peru after nearly killing each other on Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) for this strange but beautifully epic. The tales surrounding the making of this film have passed into legend (see Les Blank's Burden of Dreams), but the finished product is awe-inspiring and exciting. It's the tale of Irishman Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Kinski), or 'Fitzcarraldo' as the natives call him, and his one dream. To build an opera house in the jungle. To do this, he has to make a fortune in the rubber business, by getting some rubber from near-inaccesable rubber trees in the deepest jungle. However, to do THAT, he has to pull his 300 ton steamboat over a mountain separating two rivers, but his has backing and support from his lover, local whorehouse proprietor Molly (Claudia Cardinale). A slow burning but a wonderfully ambitious drama of one man fighting against the odds, and attempting the impossible to make his dream come true. Kinski is a force of nature as always, incomparable and brilliant. Herzog's direction is brilliant, capturing the madness of this venture. A nightmare to film, but a beauty to watch.



Thirteen Days (2000), an almost forgotten about political thriller from director Roger Donaldson, (best known for The Bounty (1984), Species (1995), Dante's Peak (1997) and The Bank Job (2008)). This is set in one of the most tense and gripping moments of time in the 1960's. It's a pity this didn't get that much recognition upon release originally, it is quite a thoughtful film, but audiences then weren't into something like that. Set in October 1962, it begins with U-2 surveillance photos revealing that the Soviet Union is in the process of placing nuclear weapons in Cuba. If launched, these weapons could wipe out entire sections of the Eastern and Southern United States. President John F. Kennedy (Bruce Greenwood) and his closest aide Kenny O'Donnell (Kevin Costner) have to device a strategy from this ever happening, but the Soviets and Cubans seem to be stalling for time at any given turn, but U.S. Military leaders don't think Kennedy is strong enough to handle this political snarl, but Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (Steven Culp) are determined to succeed. It is hard to get into at first, but once you understand a bit about what happened during that period, it becomes quite gripping. Costner is good, even if he sounds like Tom Hanks, but Greenwood and Culp are brilliantly convincing as the Kennedy brothers. It's taut if a tad overlong. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:23 am

The Princess Bride (1987), based upon William Goldman's 1973 novel of the same name, which he adapted here, and directed by Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap), this is an enchanting fantasy romance with some good laughs along the way, and with the freeform sense of humour that would later be used in Stardust (2007), it's well made and it has a brilliant cast. It has a Grandfather (Peter Falk) reading the story of The Princess Bride to his sickly Grandson (Fred Savage). Set in the land of Florin, it has Buttercup (Robin Wright) engaged to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon), but she's kidnapped by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), Giant Fezzig (Andre the Giant) and Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin). But, Buttercup is rescued by the mysterious man in black, Westley (Cary Elwes), who used to be Buttercup's stablehand, who she had very strong feelings for. But, the course of true love doesn't run smoothly, Prince Humperdinck has plans in store for Westley. It's a film which managed to successfully combine comedy, adventure, romance and fantasy together, it could have been a mess, but it works. It's a brilliantly imaginative piece, there's a good score by Mark Knopfler and the supporting cast, including Christopher Guest, Peter Cook, Billy Crystal and Mel Smith are very entertaining!! Very Happy 4/5



James and the Giant Peach (1996), after the success of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), director Henry Selick and producer Tim Burton teamed up to do an adaptation of Roald Dahl's first children's book, which came after years of adult themed short stories. It's a live action/stop motion animation mix, and it's one of the best family films of the 1990's, and proves how talented Selick really is. It has James Henry Trotter (Paul Terry), living a miserable life with his two nasty aunties Sponge (Miriam Margolyes) and Spiker (Joanna Lumley), but a mysterious old man (Pete Postlethwaite) gives James a bag of mysterious green things, which accidentally end up in the roots of a dead peach tree, which create a giant peach. James finds a way into the peach, and escapes with human size bugs Centipede (Richard Dreyfuss), Grasshopper (Simon Callow), Ladybird (Jane Leeves), Earthworm (David Thewlis) and Miss Spider (Susan Sarandon), as they use the peach to fulfill James' dream of going to New York, which he and his parents wanted to do. It's a short but extremely sweet film, very close in tone to Dahl, and with alot of imagination on display throughout. The bugs are brilliantly realised, and the music and songs by Randy Newman are very catchy. It's a pity Selick hasn't done more films like this, he's extremely talented. Coraline proved that. 4.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:34 pm

Suspiria (1977), from Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, comes what is to many people, his masterpiece. A very creepy but atmospheric horror film which was allegedly based on something that had happened to co-writer Daria Nicolodi's grandmother. Argento saw instant potential for a film with this tale, and this is the result, a simple plot, but it's colours and shots are so vivid. It begins when American ballet student, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), comes to Munich, Germany to study at a renowned dance academy in Freiburg. When she arrives, she is introduced to Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli), who run the academy. The meeting is tinged with tragedy, as one of the students Pat Hingle (Eva Axén), was murdered the night before, and Suzy saw her running from the academy. But, the murders don't stop there, they continue, and Suzy learns from psychologist Dr. Mandel (Udo Kier) that the Academy was founded by a Greek witch, it's up to Suzy to put a stop to this. It's a very atmospheric and creepy film, very well shot, and Argento can't resist but show us blood and gore, gratuitous but always filmed beautifully. The colour is rich and stands out beautifully, almost like a main character, and the sets are beautiful. 4/5



Cobra (1986), by the mid-1980's, Sylvester Stallone was one of the biggest stars at the box-office, he had 2 franchises on the go with Rocky and Rambo. After failing to get the lead in Beverly Hills Cop, he took the ideas he'd had for that, and used them for this adaptation of Paula Gosling's novel Fair Game, (which was made into a film in 1995), it's a very cheesy action film, by the numbers and it HAD to come from the 1980's. Razz It has Marion "the Cobra" Cobretti (Stallone), part of a police division known as the Zombie Squad, and he's always in trouble with his superiors for breaking police procedures and protocols, and causing unnecessary body counts. Razz So, he ends up being assigned to protect Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen), who was witness to murders being carried out by a violent group led by Night Slasher (Brian Thompson). Cobra and Ingrid end up being moved out of the city away from the gang, and they end up becoming romantically involved, but it's not long before the gang finds them. It's not perfect by any means, and when it gets to the action, it finally gets into gear. Sly sleepwalks his way through this one, it was due to start another franchise but that never happened. Oh, it was produced by Cannon Films, what does that tell us?? Razz 2.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:37 pm

The Rules of Attraction (2002), Pulp Fiction and Beowulf co-writer Roger Avery took on American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis' 1987 novel about spoilt brattish teens in University. It's a dark and satirically amusing tale of America's youth gone haywire, and everyone else isn't much better. If anything, it comes across as the closest thing to an Americanisation of the UK drama Skins. It focuses on 3 teens studying at an arts college in New Hampshire, they include Sean Bateman (James van der Beek), a drug dealer with shady stuff going on. Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon), a virgin who Sean is in love with, and she has feelings for him too, and there's Paul Denton (Ian Somerhalder), Lauren's ex-boyfriend, who is bisexual, and has strong feelings for Sean, who rejects him. Their lives intertwine throughout the college year, and they each have their own set of problems. It's a dark film, very well made and very well performed. It's freeform style of shooting is experimental but it works, and captures the essence of Ellis' book. The film is nicely rounded off with appearances from Fred Savage, Paul Williams, Eric Stoltz, Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth, Swoosie Kurtz and Faye Dunaway. Dark, graphic, but entertaining. 4/5



My Own Private Idaho (1991), from Gus Van Sant, whose career has weaved in and out between the mainstream and independent, comes his second film, which was a follow up to his critically acclaimed Drugstore Cowboy (1988). This was ever-so loosely based on Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, as well as John Rechy's 1963 novel, City of Night,. It's very provocative, and captures the mood of American youth in the early 1990's. It's about 2 male prostitutes, Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves). Mike is a narcoleptic, who is prone to nodding off at any given moment, he was raised in Idaho by his mother who he's been searching for. Scott introduced Mike to the world of hustling, and he's from a well-to-do family, his father is Mayor of Portland, Oregon. Scott has decided to turn his back on the hustler lifestyle when he turns 21 and inherits from his father. But, before that, he helps Mike to look for his mother, and it takes them to Italy. It's a bare-basic story, but it's filmed beautifully for it's low-budget, and Phoenix and Reeves make a great pairing. It put Van Sant on the road to greater things, and look out for appearances from Flea and Udo Kier. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:14 am

Rocky (1976), the little film that could and did, a story of a true American underdog that had one shot at the big time, against all the odds. It's making was like that. Sylvester Stallone, at that time, a supporting actor struggling to make it in Hollywood, had also wrote the script. It was made for $1.1 million, and shot in little more than 28 days, but it would win and gross $225 million worldwide, and would win 3 Oscars, including Best Picture. Set in Philadelphia in late 1975, it has current world boxing champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) looking to take on an unknown boxer on New Years Day 1976, the the year of the United States Bicentennial, primarily to hide the fact he was injured. Creed selects Rocky Balboa (Sly), a small time boxer and loan shark enforcer to fight against. Rocky trains with 1920's fighter Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith), and Rocky's friend Paulie (Burt Young), lets him practice at his meat packing plant. Rocky even dates Paulie's sister, Adrian (Talia Shire), even though Rocky doesn't expect to win against Apollo, it's his love for Adrian keeps him going. It's the true rags to riches story, a man who has near to nothing, but is determined to have one shot at the big time, because when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. But, it's an inspirational tale, well shot for a low budget film, with a great cast, brilliant music and a brilliant match. 4/5



Rocky II (1979), The Italian Stallion returns, well he had to. After the success of the first Rocky film, he had to come back for another round. This time, as well as starring and writing it, Sylvester Stallone took on the duty as director as well. It's basically like the first film all over again, but it's still an inspiring and entertaining film. It begins where the first film ended, both Rocky Balboa (Sly) and Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in hospital from their injuries, Apollo who retained the championship on points, isn't happy Rocky went the distance like that, so he calls a rematch, but Rocky is looking to settle down, he's just got married to Adrian (Talia Shire), and they're expecting a baby as well. But, Apollo won't back down, and he wants his rematch, and Rocky is unable to get a proper job, and is stuck doing menial jobs for a pittance. So, he teams up once again with Mickey (Burgess Meredith), and Mickey trains him up for the fight on Thanksgiving 1976, will Rocky triumph this time?? It's a silly little film, and it does focus on the family hardships too much, but once it gets to the montages with all the training and that music, it gets going, and the fight it well done too. But, there was more from Rocky yet!! Razz 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:28 am

Rocky III (1982), Rocky rides again. Yep, Sylvester Stallone's Italian Stallion is back for another round in the ring. This one, out of all the Rocky films, is the best, because it would introduce former bodyguard Mr. T and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan to the world, and it has one hell of a good theme tune, which is an instant classic. The film opens with Rocky (Sly) becoming famous due to him winning against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), as Rocky climbs the ladder of fame, there's a new, more aggressive and tougher boxer on the scene. James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. T), who is also rising through the ranks and is jealous of Rocky's fame. Even when he challenges Rocky, Clubber wins, and Rocky falls into a depression. However, Apollo is on hand to help out, and tells Rocky he can help him to win against Clubber, even if it means starting at the bottom again. Cue the montage. It's very silly 80's cheese, but it is very enjoyable. The boxing action is very well done, and Sly does well multitasking as actor, writer and director. The theme song by Survivor, Eye of the Tiger is always a classic, and it's fair to say that the world hasn't been the same since Mr. T showed up!! Very Happy 4/5



Rocky IV (1985), Rocky takes on the Soviets. Yep, in this one, East meets West. By this point, Sylvester Stallone was on top of the world, and was one of the highest grossing actors in the 1980's, just about every film he had out was grossing money, and Rocky IV became the highest grossing film in the franchise. Like what Rocky III did with Mr. T, Rocky IV put a rising Swedish actor well and truly on the map. It begins a few years down the line from Rocky III, in that time, Soviet Russia challenge the best American fighters with their best fighter, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), promoted by his Olympic Gold medal winning wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen). As Rocky (Sly) is retired, his friend and former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) takes Drago on, and ends up being killed in the ring by Drago. Rocky feels dreadful, he saw what was coming, he could have stopped it. To avenge Apollo's death, he agrees to fight Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day, and trains in the snowy wilderness of Russia to get in the right mindset for Drago. For reference, this is the one with the robot in it, and there's alot of computer stuff and techno lighting on display, yep, it has to be from the 1980's. Razz It does cram alot into a mere 90 mins or so, but it's fun to watch. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:14 pm

Rocky V (1990), made 5 years after Rocky IV, but picking up immediately where that one finished. Sylvester Stallone wanted to try something different for the 5th installment in the Rocky franchise. He even got the director of the original Rocky film, John G. Avildsen, back to do this one. But despite all best intentions, it does feel too different from what's gone before, even Sly himself said this is a road Rocky should never have gone down. It begins with Rocky (Sly) returning to America from Russia, but his physical health is not so good, with severe head traumas, he is forced to retire from boxing for good, and to make matters worse, while he was in Russia, his money was left in the hands of a corrupt accountant, and all the money is gone. So, now he and his family, wife Adrian (Talia Shire), brother in law Paulie (Burt Young) and son Robert (Sage Stallone) are now living in the slums of Philadelphia again, but Rocky see's potential in a young fighter called Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), who he trains up, but Tommy eventually goes with scheming boxing promoter George Washington Duke (Richard Gant), who challenges Rocky to fight his protege. It was a brave move to do this, but it doesn't quite pull it off, it has the best intentions but it makes all the wrong moves. A neutered experience which killed the franchise dead, for now anyways. 2/5



Rocky Balboa (2006), when Sylvester Stallone announced he was making a 6th Rocky film, people laughed at him. He was nearly 60, and Sly's career was in the toilet by this point, making flop after flop, and now making straight to video films, and he was on the verge of retiring from films. But, it was Sly who had the last laugh, he would prove all his naysayers wrong, and it would trigger a comeback for him as well!! Very Happy It begins 20 years later, Rocky now runs a restaurant in Philadelphia called Adrians, named after his wife, who died from cancer a few years back. He lives a quiet existance, keeping in touch with his son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia) and his best friend Paulie (Burt Young). Meanwhile, current heavyweight boxing champion Mason 'The Line' Dixon (Antonio Tarver), is portrayed in a computer simulation against a simulation of Rocky in his prime, and Rocky wins the fight. This gets the public curious. Would Rocky still come out on top against Mason if he were to fight him now?? Not one to back down, although he's in bad shape physically from all the boxing blows he's had, Rocky accepts the challenge, and he's back in training. This one could have been a failure, but it wasn't. Sly can still throw a punch or three in the ring. It's like the first film all over again, revisiting all the old haunts 30 years on, nothing much has changed, and neither has Rocky. It put Sly back in the spotlight and he was able to get Rambo made and now The Expendables. He's as busy as ever now, all thanks to Rocky Balboa, and now he's able to give real closure to this amazing and exciting saga. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:56 am

Awesome reviews as always Don!


I've only seen two films in the past fortnight!


In The Loop (1st view) - Foul-mouthed and often very funny, with some great performances, but I found it quite forgettable - 3/5*




From Paris With Love (1st view) John Travolta seems to wabt to get by on his charisma in this and he just abouit manages. It makes little sense overall, but has some enjoyable moments - 3/5*


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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:18 pm

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Tim Burton takes on Stephen Sondheim's acclaimed stage musical. It was never going to be the easiest film to adapt, with it's overtones of Grand Guignol and gothic horror. But who better to do it than Burton, he was the only man who could do it justice. It has Burton's regular Johnny Depp as the titular barber, returning after 15 years imprisoned in Australia to come home to Victorian London to seek revenge upon Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) who imprisoned him to get Todd's wife. To work his way towards getting the judge, he ends up murdering hapless customers who have come for a shave, whose bodies end up being of benefit to Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), who owns the pie-shop downstairs. An old fashioned musical done as a Hammer Horror. This is a brilliant musical, adding horror and violence to a well worn genre, this has many of Burton's trademark gothic stylings, which is what he does best. Depp does wonders as the brooding, mad barber and Carter makes a great Mrs. Lovett. And there's a scene-stealing appearance from Borat himself, Sacha Baron Cohen as Italian Barber Pirelli!! Very Happy 5/5



Alice in Wonderland (2010), Tim Burton takes on the madness and brilliance of Lewis Carroll. It's not a masterpiece, but it is one of Burton's most visually splendid and most imaginative films, it's best feature though is the inspired cast Burton has assembled to bring this CGI version of Alice in Wonderland to life. It's his maddest film in a while, but it's still enjoyable. It has 19 year old Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska), who during a garden party, finds herself returning to Wonderland, 13 years after she visited it first time around. The place is being run under the tyranny of the mad Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), and Alice finds herself with old company again she met first time around, including the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the March Hare (Paul Whitehouse) and the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor). Turns out Alice is the one who must kill the Jabberwocky, and she needs the help of the Red Queen's sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway).This is a visually brilliant film, the CGI environment brings out the best in Burton's take on what Wonderland looks like. The cast is amazing, but the film does struggle with Carroll's prose. But, it's still a rich, colourful and satisfying experience. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:30 am

Death Wish II (1982), a sequel to the highly successful first Death Wish film in 1974, the sequel was picked up by Cannon Films (alarm bells ringing) and they even called back it's original director Michael Winner (more alarm bells) and Charles Bronson to do a second one. The original Death Wish was a very good film, but to do a sequel, and in this case there were a few, was just silly. You can only take a vigilante so far. It now begins a few years down the line from the first film, and architect Paul Kersey (Bronson) is now living in Los Angeles, he has a girlfriend with radio reporter Geri Nichols (Jill Ireland, Bronson's real wife), and his daughter Carol (Robin Sherwood) is still recovering from what happened to her a few years back. When Kersey is mugged, and he takes on the gang members, they get their own back by raping his housemaid, then kidnapping his daughter and killing her. Shocked The police won't do anything, so Kersey heads out again as vigilante to clean up the streets. It's a very stupid and disgusting film that sends out the wrong messag entirely, the rape sequence is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. And the death of one of the gang members is so laughable, it makes you wonder why Winner was allowed to make films in the first place. 1/5



200 Motels (1971), A very weird oddity indeed, but maybe one of the best films ever made, because it's so different from all the rest, and it was quite groundbreaking for it's time. To explain the film's plot is almost impossible, as it's just a series of unconnected vignettes and musical performances all randomly stuck together. Shot on videotape at Pinewood Studios in early 1971, Zappa does prove that "Touring can make you crazy", and so does a film like this without a plot!! This is a wild and wacky vision of small town America, with Theodore Bikel as demonic manager Rance Muhammitz, Ringo Starr as Larry the Dwarf, Keith Moon as a Nun and Zappa's Mother's of Invention, who perform all the psychedelic rock music, while The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra do all the classical stuff, from inside what seems to be a concentration camp. It's the sort of film that's guaranteed to give you a headache, but it was well ahead of it's time, Zappa was a genius, but a complete lunatic to dream this up, and co-director Tony Palmer is a technical genius as the video-effects he oversaw were for it's day are jaw-dropping. The music helps makes up for a completely bonkers film!! 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:30 am

Crazy Heart (2009), based upon a 1987 book by Thomas Cobb, and written and directed by Scott Cooper, this is a touching and raw drama made for $7 million, but already it's made a big impact. It features a brilliant lead from the great Jeff Bridges, who has won an Oscar for his engaging and powerful performance, which elevates the film to a higher level, and the music is the icing on the cake. It follows has-been country and western singer Bad Blake (Bridges), who was once a huge star, but has now fallen into alcoholism, and now travels from town to town in his beat up old car, playing and singing for patrons in down-and-out bars. But, his life changes when he meets Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mother and an aspiring journalist, he and Jean begin a relationship, and Bad wants to impress her, and get his life back on track. He patches up things with his one-time mentor Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), and tries to give up the booze, but will the happiness last?? It's a simple story, but it's told in a convincing and down-to-earth manner, it's well shot and shows a side to America we rarely see. The music is well done, and Bridges is a brilliant actor, even as a musician and singer, he's brilliant. 4/5



Taking Woodstock (2009), from Ang Lee, Oscar winning director of Brokeback Mountain, Sense & Sensibility and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon comes a feelgood comedy-drama based on a true story of one man's idea which changed a whole town forever. It may sound a little unbelievable, but it's so enjoyable and the characters are so likeable, you'll believe it, and it captures the spirit of it's setting so brilliantly. Set in the summer of 1969 in Bethel, New York. It has young Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin), who helps his dad Jake (Henry Goodman) and his mother Sonia (Imelda Staunton), run the run-down El Monaco Motel. They are in financial trouble, the motel may close, but when Elliot hears of the Woodstock Festival being turned down by their original location, he has a plan. As he owns a permit to hold a small music festival, he convinces Woodstock organizer Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) to hold it in Bethel, and he convinces local farmer Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy) to lease his land for 3 Days of Music, Peace and Love. What happens is traffic heads to upstate New York, blocking all the roads, much to the ire of the locals. This is a very good film, very entertaining, very touching and very funny. Even recreating key moments from the crowd scenes in the 1970 Woodstock film, Martin is brilliant in his part, Goodman and Staunton get some brilliant laughs as the money hungry parents, and there's some brilliant support from Emile Hirsch, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Paul Dano and Liev Schreiber as transvestite Vilma!! Very Happy Very enjoyable and very well made. This is Ang Lee's masterpiece!! Very Happy 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:28 am

I can't wait to see Taking Woodstock now!

_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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