Archives for the month of: September, 2014

Have you ever had a conversation about the pros and cons of robbing a bank versus a liquor store versus a coffee shop?

It is just one of the many ridiculous conversations you will enjoy while you watch “Pulp Fiction”.

And this is only the first time out of nine where I will use the word ridiculous to describe this movie. Feel free to give me a thesaurus with other words I could use, it is just so ridiculously appropriate.

Pukp Fiction Poster

Good Ol’ Poster looking like a Pulp Fiction book cover.

What is this film?

Pulp Fiction (1994) is Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. Not his first movie, and certainly not his last, but the one that ranks highest on the lists and the one that truly defined him as an auteur (at least in my eyes).

I really won’t spoil too much of the plot, mostly because it jumps back and forth in time and is truly difficult to retell, but also because if you haven’t already seen this movie, you should just stop reading right now and either watch it or leave this article all together.

Any amount of reading will only ruin the experience, and if you’re not willing to watch it, then why are you reading this anyway.

As a warning, the word “fuck” is used 256 times. That’s the kind of movie this is. A gangster crime movie. With loads of violence. And look out for the fact that something bad always happens when Vincent (John Travolta) goes to the toilet (and picks up a pulp fiction novel to read).

 

Dividing a people

“Pulp Fiction” is not for everyone. You either love it, or you hate it. And if you’re a hater, you simply don’t get it.

If you don’t like it, then Quentin Tarantino’s sense of humor is not for you. Maybe avoid him all together.

And I can see why. He pokes fun at violence, and he does it by elevating the violence to a ridiculous level of absurd proportions. And then he might put an inappropriate soundtrack on top of it all, just to make the scene even more unbearably awkward and out-of-place . It can be too much for certain people.

But then again, most guys love it, and this movie is the reason why several geeks out there think they can quote scripture. Although you can look for a long time in the Bible to find the passage that Jules likes to quote before he kills.

Still of John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson from Pulp Fiction

The iconic shot from Pulp Fiction

Do I think it’s good?

Let’s get this straight. I love Quentin Tarantino. As a director.

As a person he seems like a bit of a douche, but he makes entertaining movies so why do I care.

Why do I love him? He goes so far over the top with everything that it becomes funny. He is so referential to other films that it is a treasure trove for movie geeks. He makes B-movie plots feel A-movie. AND he knows how to get the dialogue pumping.

So if you like that, you will like his movies. And you will like “Pulp Fiction”. Simple.

 

I Shot Marvin in the Face

Case and point: the “I shot Marvin in the face” scene.

Whilst speaking to Marvin in the back of the car, Vincent (Travolta) accedentally shoots him in the face and kills him instantly, splattering blood all over the car. This is the most ridiculous and most genius scene in crime movie history.

The fact that Vincent and Jules now have to clean the blood out of the car and get rid of an unexpected body, and we get to follow that mundane practical problem from beginning to end, is just hilarity taken to the next level.

And that they go to Jimmy, played by Quentin Tarantino, for help, just makes it even more ridiculous.

Still from Pulp Fiction of Samuel L Jackson driving the car as John Travolta shoots Marvin in the face

“Shit, I just shot Marvin in the face”

Travolta + Jackson = Perfection

It is in fact John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson together having their ridiculous conversations in the most ridiculous of scenarios, that makes this movie one you watch over and over again.

Right next to the fact that you want to watch it over again to see if THIS time will 100% get what is going on. Maybe this time.

And I agree with the voters of Premiere’s 100 Greatest Movie Lines…

You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris? (…) They call it a Royale with cheese

– Vincent Vega (John Travolta) –

…IS one of the greatest movie lines EVER!

In fact, it is one of the greatest conversations.

Interesting, random and ridiculous conversations is actually Quentin Tarantino’s strongest suit. There is no director who can make me look forward to a talk around the table like he can.

 

What is in the briefcase?

Theories out there are abundant on what is casting that shiny, orange glow upon Jules and Vernes faces at the end. It’s apparently “So Beautiful”.

The most likely story out there is the one that says in the script there were diamonds, but since “Reservoir Dogs” had a case of diamonds at the centre of the plot, Quentin decided simply not to show what was in the briefcase. And to great effect.

This simply let’s you decide for yourself what is in the briefcase.

Although I like the theory that it is Marcellus Wallace’s (played by Ving Rhames of Mission Impossible fame) soul that the devil has ripped out from the back of his neck (hence the band-aid).

 

Will it stand the test of time?

There is no reason why this movie shouldn’t stand the test of time.

There are no visual effects that will fade to bullshit, and with so many questions and confusion around what, where and whythefuck, there will always be a new generation who will decipher what happens in their own way.

And let’s not forget the violence. It will never get old.

In other words, “Pulp Fiction” deserves its place high on the list of any kind of “best movies” shoot out. It is special, it defines a generation of movies and it created its own genre; The Tarantino Movie.

 

What mood do you need to be in?

Feeling like something extremely violent but yet hilarious at the same time? Then this is your movie.

And there is no end to the famous people in it, so you can have some fun celebrity watching.

 

Further Watching

The only thing you can move on to after watching a Tarantino movie are more Tarantino Movies.

Go for his early crime movies like “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) and “Jackie Brown” (1997) and you won’t be disappointed. They are about the same thing as “Pulp Fiction”, but still they suck you in and are entertaining as hell.

If you’re not that much of a Tarantino fan, I suggest looking at Guy Ritchie, the Brit who also does crime with a distinct voice. Look at “Snatch” (2000) with a genius Brad Pitt as a tater, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998) and “Layer Cake” (2004) with a pre-James Bond Daniel Craig.

 

Still of John Travolta and Uma Thurman Dancing from Pulp Fiction

John Travolta and Uma Thurman do an unexpected weird dance to “You Never Can Tell” by Chuck Berry.

Who am I?

I do not work for ImDb, I just have a nerdy need to make sure I watch all the movies people claim to be good. In this way I can make up my own mind about whether or not they are a hype.

This is not a per se recommendation from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on the list that hopefully will make you want to watch the movies again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

Or avoid it like the plague.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as a 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

This movie is one of the few Tarantino movies that cannot be found on Netflix. But like any of the movies (at least the ones I like) on the ImDb top 250 list, they should be in your collection.

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be on the list or not. Have they stood the test of time, or are they just there out of habit or historical significance (which does not a good movie make). I start from the top because there is less change in the top films than at the bottom of the list.

Look here for my judgements on #3 The Godfather, part II and #4 The Dark Knight.

Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – is it worth a cinema ticket”, “Guilty Pleasures” and I will also be “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix”.

 

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some cinema history books in my possession.

Sign up and get a notification next week so that you don’t miss the next blog post or my next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at number 6, the classic western  “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”!

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Sometimes you need to watch something that will shake you to your core. Something that doesn’t involve any magic or blatant fiction. Something that is so realistic, you kind of forget that it is indeed fiction you are watching.

“Winter’s Bone” will slowly and gradually hit you hard with an ice cold, bleak and hopeless look that escalates into infinity.

Poster of "Winter's Bone" with Jennifer Lawrence

Chilly and harsh, just like the movie

***NO SPOILERS***

What is this movie?

“Winter’s Bone” (2010) follows the 17 year-old Ree (who else but Jennifer Lawrence) who lives in a hillbilly-gangster reality where her actions keep spiralling her constantly towards an unthinkable reality.

Ree is trying to find her father (he has been gone for some time) to avoid being kicked out of her home where she lives with her depressed and non-functional mother and adorable but helpless siblings. On her quest to find out where her father has gone, she bumps into people and situations that she really shouldn’t bother with her questions.

“Winter’s Bone” is a title borrowed from an Appalachian saying that goes; “like a dog digging after a winter’s bone”, which is someone on a mission who refuses to give up.

It is based on a book by Daniel Woodrell, which apparently has even more horrible things happen than there was room for in the movie, although the undertones are there. At least I wasn’t surprised when I read what was omitted.

Do people say it’s good?

Given that “Winter’s Bone” was a big winner at Sundance (all indie filmmakers will know) AND it snagged a four Oscar nominations, among them for Best Picture, I guess you can say that at least critics and people who work with film loved it.

Notably, it was the lowest grossing film to be nominated for Best Picture since “The Dresser” in 1983, which basically means that people in genereal didn’t care for it (or at least they didn’t care for the poster).

It has a distinctly “independent” film-look about it where all is miserable and the futures are bleak.

This is true somewhat true, and I will tell you right now that you will need to sit through some scenes which are slow, quiet and not at all instantly compelling.

And with the film being set in a cold, bare, almost tundra-ish sort of countryside where everyone does drugs and all is lost, there really isn’t any cheering up to be had, and you might consider caving in and turning on that new romantic comedy that you haven’t lowered your standards to see just yet.

But please don’t. Hang in there. It will get infinitely better.

Do I think it is good?

I pushed trough the initial worry of watching a low-budget, film festival film, and boy was I rewarded for that.

What the movie builds up to is beyond words and description. You have to experience it to believe it. Just know that when Ree starts looking for her dad properly, it will eventually get so dark that you will question human beings as a species.

I truly hope these people don’t exist in the real world in some shape or form, but I am afraid that they probably do.

“Winter’s Bone” delivers such a chill in your spine and paints a realism that will shock to your core. To put it this way, I would not want to live in this horrific white trash dystopia.

I was 100% frightened by this film.

The Epic Jennifer Lawrence

This movie would be nothing if it weren’t for Jennifer Lawrence. As a 19 year-old at the time, she really pulled her acting talent out of the bag and made the character Ree dignified and relatable. This was to be her first Oscar nomination, and I am sure it won’t be her last (since she has been nominated or won every year since).

Funny thing is that Lawrence had to proper make herself dirty and sickly to get the part, as she was originally deemed “too pretty” and not really in the running. Once she got to be Ree, she had to learn random skills like chopping wood, fighting and skinning squirrels (will always come in handy that).

The quote that resonates in my head after watching, is Ree’s adament life rule:

Don’t ask for what ought to be offered

The social realism

I have mentioned it before, but I will state it again, the realism in this movie is tangible. I don’t know anything about country life in the US, but I am now inclined to believe that everyone deals with drugs and otherwise have next to no money or any future to speak of. That is how convincing it is.

It is the first movie that has made me feel safe for living in an urban area rather than a rural one.

It is worth mentioning that a lot of the extras and even some of the bigger parts in the movie, are from Missouri where they shot the film, and have never acted in anything before. With a good director, this kind of casting can be golden, as it is in this movie.

What mood should you be in?

You need to be in the mood for something that is going to be paced slowly, with no off-screen music to speak of (that I can remember although apparently there is some) and no fancy nothing. Just let it get where it wants to go in the time it needs.

It will be worth it. That is a promise.

And if nothing else, you have just seen the movie that made everyone notice Jennifer Lawrence. How mighty hipster of you 😉

Further Watching

If you are in a self-abusive kind of mood, or you just want to see some more of people who are worse off than you, continue with stark social realism and have a look at “Mysterious Skin” (2004) with a young Joseph Gordon-Lewitt, or take a peak at “Precious” (2009) which also is a little slow, but really gets to your heart.

But perhaps you aren’t suicidal and can’t bear the thought of two movies like this in a row…

Then I suggest another way. The JayLaw Way!

By now, if you weren’t already, you will be smitten with Jennifer Lawrence and want some more. I would recommend Silver Linings Playbook (2012), which actually did get her an Oscar (when she ever so gracefully stumbled in her dress on her way to accept the award), but I am also a sucker for “The Hunger Games” (2012,2013 and 2014) and cannot wait for the third instalment this winter.

If you like what I write, share or disagree in my opinions, please comment or just sign-up and get a notification when my next blog post is released.

Next week I will look at number 5 on the ImdB top 250, “Pulp Fiction”. In the mean time, check out number 4, “The Dark Knight”.

Still of Jennifer Lawrence from "Winter's Bone"

Jennifer Lawrence, only 19 in “Winter’s Bone”, carries this heavy movie on her shoulders pretty much by herself

Who am I?

I’m a freelance writer who likes to watch movies. I watch Netflix a lot and sometimes there is a long way between the really good movies, whether good means entertaining or profound.

To help you avoid watching all the crap I have had to endure, I will give you some hidden gems or best movies of Netflix right here every month.

Want another good Netflix movie? Check out the great animation “Brave”!

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies that will make these reviews beneficial to you, whether you follow my advice or not 😉

Where can you find the film?

All movies in this Netflix-series can be found in the Norwegian Netflix Catalogue, which is the one I have access to.

If you can’t find it on your local Netflix? File a complaint, they really should have it 😉

If you like what I write, please give me your favourite movie in the comments or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

A million girls would kill to be Anne Hathaway in this movie. Would you?

Regardless, there’s nothing like a good-old, evil boss movie for another lazy Sunday, when the next Monday is starting to loom over you.

Watch this quality chick-flick (yes I said quality) and enjoy that fact that no matter what, your boss is not as bad as Miranda Priestly

(or if he/she is, maybe you should quit?) 😉

 

Devil Wears Prada Poster

I’m sure there were puns galore in that creative tagline meeting

 ***SPOILERS*** (but you watch it for the characters so why do you care?)

 

What is this film?

“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) is based on the smash-hit book of the same name written by Lauren Weisberger, who worked as an assistant at Vogue for a time under Anna Wintour (without there being any confirmation anywhere that the movie is inspired in anyway by that).

I don’t even know if you can call it a guilty pleasure when it was actually nominated for two Oscars. Both Meryl Streep and the costume designer were nominated.

The costume designer, Pat Field, is famous for doing the TV-series Sex and the City and she convinced a lot of fashion designers to lend clothes to the production. After all she only had a measly budget of $100,000, and in the end the wardrobe of this movie is reportedly $1,000,000 and the most expensive one in movie-history (I have not found this to be actual fact, but regardless it is one of the most expensive ones.).

 

Why do I want to watch it over and over again?

For someone who loves slacking around in my cosy pants  and a t-shirt all day, you really wouldn’t believe that I love this movie for the fashion. But partly I do.

The transformation of Anne Hathaway, from the idealistic writer to the fashionista is realistic and not over the top (Unlike Hathaways break through movie “Princess Diaries” where it all happens in one session at the hair dressers.).

I never tire of pernickety Meryl Streep with her penetrating stare pitted against wide-eyed, naive Andy Sachs (Hathaway). Maybe I see myself in Anne’s character, whose relationship to fashion is of a distant relative, and through her, I can imagine what I could look like if I started caring and prioritising clothes and shoes (and weight-loss) in my life.

The wonder never lasts longer than the 1 hour and 49 minutes of the movie, but it’s nice to live in fantasy world for a while 😉

There is also a bunch of famous fashion people in this movie (Heidi Klum and Valentino Garavani as themselves with Gisele Bündchen as a Runway employee) which takes it to another level of believability. There could’ve been more, but rumour says that people were afraid of the wrath of Anna Wintour (which is fitting).

 

Six outfits on Anne Hathaway as Andy in Devil Wears Prada

I want that green dress to the right… Desperately!

 

All the shit you have to do to get a career

I find that this movie holds fairly true to what kind of lengths people have to go through to make it in certain kind of sought after industries. The worst thing is that some people have to do this for free in an internship. If you work regular hours, you don’t get a job afterwards or you get fired.

At least Anne Hathaway has the strength to leave in the end. I don’t know if I would…

…until I hit the wall and became depressed and burned-out.

 

This movie is essentially scary

And I am not saying that because Meryl Streep is a scary boss. I would actually claim that she is a terrific boss for Runway and that her method is probably the only way to get any standing in that industry.

But it’s not Miranda Priestly that makes it shiver down my pine.

When we come to the end of the movie, Andy walks away from the glamorous world of fashion because it stole away her personal life. It seems to me like a leech, a lifestyle profession that demands you 24-7. And I have been there. It is not healthy in the long run.

But that is not what you remember when you walk out of the cinema (or close your laptop).

You remember the shoes, and that olive green dress that looked so good on Anne Hathaway, and the hair, and the glamour. And you want it. Suddenly you consider a career in fashion even though you have never touched a sowing machine before or thought twice about what to wear in the morning.

THAT is what is scary about this movie. Somehow fashion still won the day.

Miranda Priestly says it best herself:

Don’t be ridiculous Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us

 

The genius supporting cast

This movie would be nothing without the snarky, bitchy, but still loveabley British Emily Blunt as Emily, the first assistant to Miranda Priestly. I believe this was the first movie where I noticed Emily Blunt (she mainly did TV prior to this film).

Without her disdain for Andy and everything she represents, without her diet of eating nothing until she’s about to faint then she eats a cube of cheese, without her rolling eyes and sniggers, this movie would be a whole lot less enjoyable.

I also couldn’t be without Stanley Tucci, the truthsaying, creative director Nigel, who gets stomped on by all the high-heeled women in his chosen career.

Nigel is essentially what Andy will become if she stays. A work-a-holic who will never elevate past Miranda because there will always be someone else (Miranda) to save.

 

What mood should you be in?

You should be in the mood for something light and fun.

Or you could watch this for inspiration on how to dress. I know this movie is SOOO 2006, but I am sure there is something in it you can revamp.

For a summary on the fashion tips you can learn from Devil wears Prada check out Stilettosaurus.

 

Further Watching

I really wanted to watch “Princess Diaries” (2001), the movie that Anne Hathaway has worked really hard to get away from her “Known For” section in ImDb. I would love to see the difference between Anne Hathaway then and now.

If you want to see more of fashion, I can recommend the documentary “The September Issue” (2009) where we follow Anna Wintour in the months leading up to the release of the most important issue of the year.

As well as “Coco Avant Chanel” (2009) where you can see how Coco Chanel (in the shape of Audrey Tautou) got her style and became the fashion icon she is today. It is actually an important movie to watch if you like strong women who did what they needed to do despite obstacles from a patriarchal society.

Or, if you don’t take fashion too seriously, grab “Zoolander” (2001) and practice your best Blue Steel pose 😀

 

Need some guidance in the maze of movies? Follow my blog and get reviews on Netflix, Guilty Pleasures, New Releases and the top 250 ImDb list 😀

 

Meryl Streep stripping you down with her look

Meryl Streep stripping you down with her look

 

Ben Stiller with the Blue Steel look from Zoolander

Ben Stiller stripping you with his Blue Steel look

 

Who am I?

I am freelance writer who likes to watch movies. Sometimes I will even like “the bad movies”, the ones the critiques scoff at and the snooty film students will refuse to watch because it’s all so commercial. Those are some of the best movies. They are guilty pleasures, and they will save you on a rainy day when you just don’t want to think.

In these Guilty Pleasure blog posts, I will explore the movies I find myself turning back to again and again for comfort.

 

Why do I think I can talk about movies?

With an over average interest in movies since watching Star Wars as an 8 year-old, and with some background in the industry, I know at least a little bit about what it takes to get a movie made, and have loads of opinions about what makes them great.

But no matter my merits, it is whether or not you agree with my taste in movies (or my boyfriend’s, whose opinion will be noted if opposing my own) that will make these reviews beneficial to you.

 

Where can you find the film?

If anyone knows a way to check different availabilities on different streaming services, let me know.

Norwegian Netflix doesn’t have this one (bad Netflix), but then again, a guilty pleasure should always be on your shelf, so get the devil now! 😉

 

If you like what I write, please give me a shout in the comments (if they work now, there have been issues, my apologies) or sign-up to read my next blog post 😉

Next week, we will again take a dip into the vast array of movies on Netflix and unearth another “Best movie on Netflix“.

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