Monthly Archives: April 2013

#180 Clerks

(1994, Kevin Smith)

“I’m not even supposed to be here today!”

Slackers! A key aspect of nineties American pop culture. An entire subculture emerging from the grunge scene. Directors were quick to represent this subculture in numerous cult hits about people in their late teens and early-to-mid-twenties with no direction, working terrible jobs and generally pondering what the hell they’re going to do with their lives.

Kevin Smith was one of the key figures in this movement, and it was this film that marked one of the major representations of the slacker scene, and one of its biggest hits. Clerks is about Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran), a self-depreciating convenience store employee who’s called in on his day off. The film follows Dante on this one day as he gets visited by his friend, Randal (Jeff Anderson), ducking out of work at the video rental shop next door, and his girlfriend Veronica (Marilyn Ghigliotti) while trying to deal with his inability to get over his ex, Caitlin (Lisa Spoonhauer).

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#179 Carrie

(1976, Brian De Palma)

“They’re all gonna laugh at you”

It’s pretty terrible being a teenage girl, isn’t it? All that DRAMA and HORMONES and emergence of breasts and your first periods and all those troublesome psychic powers. Wait, hang on, psychic powers?

That’s what happens to Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), an awkward and misunderstood young girl attending Bates High in the 1970s. Raised by a strict religious mother (Piper Laurie), Carrie is oblivious to the nature of the menstrual cycle and freaks out when she starts bleeding in the school showers, prompting all the other girls to make fun of her. When gym teacher Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) punishes the entire class for being so cruel to Carrie, lead bully Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen) vows revenge, and the girls plan to humiliate her at prom.

However, at the same time, Carrie begins to learn that she has some kind of strange powers…

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#178 Atonement

(2007, Joe Wright)

“I can’t escape from what I did or what it meant”

A few reviews ago, I berated directors from mainland Europe for making navel-gazing, self-obsessed, pretentious arthouse films. Guess it’s time to turn the spotlight on my home country for another unnecessary genre that needs to stop: period drama. I don’t know what it is, but British cinema just cannot get away from adaptations of novels set around nobility in the days before the breakup of the Empire. Even more bizarrely, Keira Knightley seems to be in every single one of them. Atonement is no exception.

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#177 Good Morning Vietnam

(1987, Barry Levinson)

“GOOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAAAAAAM”

Helloooooo everyone! It is a beautiful day here on Sven vs. The Movies, with the weather being tropical and the outlook looking good for the rest of the week. The reason it’s so tropical is because today we are in Vietnam with Robin Williams and doing some RADIOOOO for the good troops of the US Army.

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#176 Total Recall

(1990, Paul Verhoeven)

“If I’m not me, then who the hell am I?”

It was my birthday yesterday, so I figured I’d pick a film myself from the list instead of letting a random number generator pick for me. And as an antidote to all those self-indulgent European diary movies I’ve sat through lately (see my last review) I figured I needed a dumb Arnie action movie to balance things out.

Not that Total Recall is entirely dumb. Based on We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by regular mind-screw sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, this is a tale of memory implants and blurred realities. AHNULD plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who would love to go and visit the colonies on Mars, prompted by his recurring dreams about the planet. Despite protests from his wife Lori (Sharon Stone), Quaid visits a company named Rekall who can implant memories of a trip to Mars in his head. However, things take a turn for the strange when attempts to implant a memory of being a secret agent reveal that he already is; he’s just had his memory wiped. Or at least so it seems…

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#175 A Tale Of The Wind

Une histoire du vent
(1988, Joris Ivens)

Europe, we need to talk. It was bad enough when self-indulgent home movie compilation Sans Soleil turned up on my list, closely followed by a director adapting his own diary for the screen in Dear Diary, but now it’s gone too far. Please tell your directors to stop making pretentious arthouse films about themselves, because it’s getting silly now.

Yes, A Tale of the Wind is yet another European director going travelling and making a film about himself in the process. At its heart, Dutch director Joris Ivens travels to China because he wants to capture the wind on camera (oh goody, this sounds thrilling!). Overall though, this is a movie about absolutely nothing.

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#174 The Thin Man

(1934, W.S. Van Dyke)

“Can you tell us anything about the case?”
“Yes, it’s putting me way behind on my drinking”

I’d never heard of The Thin Man franchise before. Research tells me that this was a particularly big series of detective movies starring the married couple of Nick and Nora Charles. The names sounded familiar, although I didn’t know why. So I came into this first movie in the series completely unaware of the success the series had, so let’s see if it lives up to the hype it received in the 1930s.

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#173 Dear Diary

Caro diario
(1994, Nanni Moretti)

Not that long ago, I reviewed a movie called Sans Soleil, a pretentious documentary film about…something that ultimately boiled down to being really about director Chris Marker’s summer holiday in Japan. I thought it was a rare exception in filmmaking until my film list threw up Nanni Moretti’s Dear Diary, another film where a European director walked around with a camera talking about his own life.

You can imagine my sheer joy, I’m sure.

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#172 The Wicker Man

(1973, Robin Hardy)

“What religion can they possibly be learning jumping over bonfires?”

Hello. Sorry about yesterday. Seems that my films got mixed up and I ended up reviewing the remake of The Wicker Man instead of the original British movie from the 1970s. But no worries, the real review is here now, covering that original movie instead of the terrible remake. But is the original any better than the Nic Cage shriek-fest?

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#J-172 The Wicker Man

(2006, Neil LaBute)

“How’d it get burned? HOW’D IT GET BURNED?!”

Sometime in the 70s, some guy in Britain made some movie called The Wicker Man. It was alright, nothing special. It had Saruman as the bad guy and it was all about pagans. But loads of people in it had Scottish accents, and nobody’s got time for that nonsense. So, it got remade in 2006, shifted to America and now features Nicolas Cage in the lead role. And let me tell you, it’s a true masterpiece of cinema.

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