Archives for category: Drama

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 😉

I’m really trying to like “The Godfather” films. I mean, two of them are at the top of ImdB and they all have scooped heaps of awards (perhaps not so much the third one). But I just don’t get what the fuss is all about.

On top of it all, if you didn’t already think that number 1 lasted long enough, the sequel is even worse, dragging on for a whole 15-20 minutes. Now was that really necessary?

Perched snugly in the top 5 of the ImdB top 250, and scooping in a significantly higher number of Oscars than its predecessor, people seem to think “The Godfather Part II” is genius. I’m here to tell you it’s not!

Michael Corleone has now become The Godfather

Michael Corleone has now become The Godfather

***NO SPOILERS***

What is this film?

The Godfather Part II (1974) is the second instalment of the trilogy about the italian mafia family Corleone. Michael, the guy who didn’t really want to join the illegalities of his family in the first movie (aka the guy played by Al Pacino) is now the head of the family.

We also follow Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in “The Godfather“, Robert De Niro in this one) and find out how he gets from Sicily and becomes the most feared and respected mobster in New York.

 

Why do people think it’s good?

I think people fell in love with the Corleone family, so when you give them some more insight into that family and the life of the mafia, of course they will love it.

This is pretty much the reason why we are wading around in sequel after sequel and remake after reboot.

Once people love some characters, they will come back for more.

Throw story and quality right out the window.

 

Do I think it is anything against The Godfather?

The biggest problem I have with “The Godfather Part II” is that it’s not one movie, it’s two. Basically you have your standard sequel and the prequel smashed haphazardly into one.

I’m not saying this couldn’t work, it really could work brilliantly. The issue is that the stories are 100% separate. They don’t inform one another or dramatically play off each other. For instance, I don’t need to know anything from Vito Corleone’s past to understand Michael’s current predicament.

And I find that weird.

It’s like they wanted to make a sequel, but was afraid of not having Vito Corleone in it because audience surveys had shown that he was the most beloved character.

So, apart from the fact that it has some of the same good qualities that “The Godfather” had, like a consistent tone and visual style, the story in the sequel is not as compelling and suffers greatly by jumping back and forth in time seemingly without purpose.

(By the way, if any of you has seen some purpose in this crosscutting, please enlighten me!)

 

Is this movie historically significant?

It was the first sequel to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. The only other sequel to win is “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (although technically “Silence of the Lambs” as a sequel although no one knows about that one).

Another Academy Award fun fact is that the character Vito Corleone is the only character to have won an Oscar twice played by two separate actors.

And as always, Godfather movies are significant for their many, quotable lines. This one has brought us:

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”

and

“If history has taught us anything, is that you can kill anyone”

“The Godfather Part II” is also one of the first numbered sequels and definitely the first US release to sport numbers. Those were the days.

 

Does it stand the test of time?

I’m a bit bias because I am not particularly fond of the 70s look, and although there are some great movies from the 70s, I generally am left unvowed by the drab colours and the wishy washy, unsharp and washed out visual style.

I’m a fan of contrast and bold colours.

And I’ll give “The Godfather” trilogy that, it does have more contrast than other 70s movies, and thus is visually a little more appealing.

But then the long, boring takes start stacking up and my attention span just wanders to a corner of the room and bangs its head against the wall. I get ADHA from watching stuff like this.

I bet you could easily cut this movie down 20 minutes just by removing some seconds at the beginning and end of each shot.

So, no, I do not think “The Godfather Part II” stands the test of time.

To be quite honest, I don’t understand why it is at the top of Imdb Top 250 list at all!

 

What mood should you be in?

You should be patient. That is all you need to be.

 

Further Watching

There are loads of mafia- or gangster movies out there worth a watch. As a person who don’t instantly fall head over heals when it’s a mafia film (I love musicals…we are all different) I can recommend these gangster movies that I actually find entertaining:

  • “Usual Suspects” (1995) Bryan Singer (the one with Kevin Spacey and you shouldn’t know anymore before you watch it)
  • “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) Quentin Tarantino (the one that made it all cool again)
  • “Snatch” (2000) Guy Ritchie (nothing like some epic British humour with loads of violence…and Brad Pitt without a shirt on)

 

Subscribe and get a notification for my next blog post. Next week, I will get my ass to the cinema and watch a new release so I can tell you whether or not it is worth the money to go 😉

 

Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone

Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone

 

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 it 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 a movie 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?

They actually have all three in the Godfather trilogy on Netflix. But if you are like everyone else, that is you love these movies, you might as well just buy them. They come fairly cheap in Blu-Ray collections these days.

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 #1 on top 250 ImDb “Shawshank Redemption” and #2 The Godfather.

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 film history and art books in my possession.

Sign up with your email 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 “The Dark Knight”!

Make him an offer he cannot refuse

Leave the gun. Take the cannoli

All those wonderful quotes. All from one seemingly wonderful and definitely loved film. Does it really stand the test of time at almost the peak of the top 250 ImDb list?

By the way, I have a go at the oranges. And I’m not even sorry.

Marlon Brando as Don Corleone in the classic black and white artwork of the Godfather franchise

The iconic Godfather poster with manipulative puppet strings

What is this film?

“The Godfather” (1972) is the first film in a trilogy about the Mafia family, Corleone. It is based on a novel by the same name by Mario Puzo. Writer/director Francis Ford Coppola wanted the actual title to be “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather” because the script ended up being so similar to the book he felt some credit was well deserved.

Afraid that the story glorified the mafia and unwilling to set such a stigma on his own Italian heritage, Francis Ford Coppola initially said no to directing the film. Some say he eventually did the movie because he needed the money, others say it was because he figured he could make the film an allegory of American capitalism.

I’m going to go for the money one.

Why do people say it is good?

The body count, including the horse, is 18. Maybe that’s why people like it?

Maybe it’s because, like The British Daily Telegraph said so eloquently (in a quote I have only managed to find on ImDb):

[The Godfather is] a vision of the hollowness of American capitalism and its effect on the family – like Death of a Salesman with spaghetti and a criminal empire

That sounds so beautiful.

I believe in basics, and I guess in this case it is our basic instincts that just loves a proper anarchist who takes no bullshit from no one. And obviously we all love Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

Above all, people love to tell me how the oranges signify death…

The Death of the Oranges

Get over the oranges already!

Even if they were placed at scenes signalling the imminent death of a character. So what?

I have much more faith in the producton designer stating that the oranges were solely used to light up otherwise dark material. The colour palette of the film, which is different shades of yellow-orange amber to orange tinted reds together with black, also goes well with, yes you guessed it, ORANGES.

Why do I lay to scraps this orange theory? Because it doesn’t happen at every death. If this was a thing, it would be every single death. Why wouldn’t it? And regardless, if all of the deaths had some arbitrary act of oranges next to them, what function does this actually have but to wet the pants of people who overanalyse every aspect of their favourite movies?

None! No function.

And if an element of storytelling doesn’t enhance the story, then why bother.

I call bull shit on the oranges!

Do I think its any good?

I will grant the movie this, the first 30 minutes is pure genius in exposition. Not in furthering a story, but in exposition.

The juxtaposition between the pastel coloured wedding outside in the garden and the dark, golden orange shadows of the Dons study and the way the theme of family and tradition perfectly unfold is pure cinema magic.

The introduction of Marlon Brando as Don Corleone is unforgettable. I am not talking about his italian accent, his jawline or any of his mumbling lines. The unforgettable part is how the first meeting with Don Corleone leaves us feeling that he is big-hearted and generous. He did after all give his disrespectful acquaintance his wish of hurting the thugs who maimed his daughter.

We are left slightly puzzled by this kindness, until someone in the wedding states the rule:

A Sicilian can’t say no on his daughter’s wedding day.

Tradition and family rules.

And it’s a proper family film given that Coppola, within the constraints of the book, based loads of the characters on his family members and even used a whole bunch of them as actors in the films.

I think it’s safe to say that there are aspects and sequences of this movie that I have to admit I love and admire. There is just one thing.

It is too effin long!

And that is no joke. The version I watched this time around is 2 hours and 57 minutes.

The first time I watched it, I painfully felt the minutes ticking by. Every elongated take, every uneccesary moment got annoying.

This time around I am more grown up and more patient, but I still had to watch it over two days because when Michael moves to Sicily, I just have to do something else. It all takes too long.

I’ve even been to the beautiful town of Savoca and walked through its pittoresque, cobbled streets and had a frozen lemon granita in the shade by the very bar where Al Pacino filmed, and still this part makes me want to stop and do something useful with my life.

It says something when Coppola first turned in a director’s cut, it was a measly 126 minutes. It was the production chief who insisted on a longer cut with more family oriented scenes. I for my part would have loved to see Coppola’s cut. I might have loved it all the way through.

Is this movie historically significant?

As a 70s “New Hollywood” auteur film  by a 70s auteur director (meaning Francis Ford Coppola wrote and directed the film) “The Godfather” explored and extended a classical genre, the gangster film, which is typical of this era in many genres like the film noir and the western.

But movie history aside, the interesting historical fact is that there were actually trouble with the Mafia during production of this film. Even Frank Sinatra threw up a frenzy over the likeness between himself and the character Johnny Fontane. They actually cut that character’s screentime because of this.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have left the semblance between Sinatra and Fontane at caricature if it hadn’t been for the fact that Sinatra actually cared enough to kick up a fuzz.

Must be true that he was Mafia then…

Does it stand the test of time?

At least it is epic and there isn’t a man alive who doesn’t have a Godfather fase on the same line as a Star Wars craze.

The question is whether the next generation will handle the static and slow camera, the washed out 70s look and do what’s proper and have “the fase”. Maybe I should go out and ask some teenagers?

Whether or not I like it, it will always stand as one of the great mafia/gangster films, and I think it will only start fading away if some new movie comes and takes the Mafia spotlight away. But The Don would never let that happen 😉

Further watching

Obviously you can make it a Godfather-a-thon and watch all three instalments, The Godfather II is actually the next on the ImDb top 250 list and managed to win 6 Academy Awards, as opposed to “The Godfather”‘s measly three statues. By this time you will be hooked and watch Godfather III. I haven’t gotten that far yet.

Other films, also part of the same “New Hollywood” era would be the film-noir “Chinatown” (1974) by Roman Polanski or the western-film “The Wild Bunch” (1969) by Sam Pekinpah. They all are perfect examples of the thoughtful, “quality” movies that came out of this era, which resulted in commercial successes such as “Jaws” (1975), “Star Wars” (1977) and “Raiders of the Lost Arc” (1981) by Spielberg and Lucas.

They are also a bit slow and long, like this one.

Oranges splattered on dark asphalt next to the shot and wounded Don Corelone

The oranges brilliantly light up this dark Gods-point-of-view shot

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 a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it 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 a movie 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?

They actually have all three of the movies on Netflix. But if you are like anyone else, you might as well just buy them. Either you or your boyfriend/girlfriend will love them and want to have a weekend of Godfather-a-thon. This history has proven time and time again.

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 the bottom of the list. I have already done #1 on top 250 ImDb “Shawshank Redemption”.

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

I have used several sources in writing this post among them ImDb trivia and some film history and art books in my possession. Take a look at this other blog post by Precious Bodily Fluids if you’d like a deeper look into “The Godfather” than shallow little me bothers to do here.

Sign up with your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at (can you believe it) “The Godfather II”!

It had to be a Stephen King story line throning majestically at the top of the ever-changing ImDb top 250 list. And so “Shawshank Redemption” has done for quite some time, occasionally surpassed by “The Godfather”, but mostly up top where, in my opinion, it assuredly belongs.

So, why does this movie deserve to be the best movie ever made?

The-Shawshank-Redemption_20140518

What is this film?

“Shawshank Redemption” was made in 1994 by Frank Darabont who also made the prison movie (and Stephen King story) “The Green Mile”. Darabont reputedly got the rights for Stephen King’s novella “Rita Heyworth and Shawshank Redemption” for a dollar. Whether or not this is true, I think we can still assert that Darabont got it dirt cheap.

Notably, the title cut out Rita Heyworth because there was a lot of confusion with people in the industry thinking it was a biopic of the actress, who still plays a pivotal role in the film.

The film is about Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins (who played in “Shawshank Redemption” 😉 ) who is put in jail for murdering his wife and her lover. He didn’t do it, although he assuredly wanted to. And so begins the story of how Andy works his way through hardships and evil wardens to survive in the godforsaken prison Shawshank.

All of this is told as seen through the eyes of Red, a standard Morgan Freeman character. And that is where the magic lies. Because you forget very easily that it is Red who tells this story. And Red does not know everything.

In this review, I am presuming that you have seen the movie (if not, shame on you!). There will thus be SPOILERS IN THE TEXT BELOW. You have been warned.

 

What makes it so good?

What makes “Shawshank Redemption” good, for my part, is the intricate plot and the consistency of the chosen style of filming and storytelling. This is an example of excellent use of voice-over narration, where is seduces you and betrays you. I also love the films use of colour.

Everyone always talks about how a good movie tackles an issue that is universal, and the best ones do it in a thorough way that permeates time and space. And this story of redemption, or revenge, on authority, on injustice and on the world in general, has ticked the hearts of the whole world. Notably it was nominated for seven Oscars, but won none.

An interesting fact about “Shawshank” is that it didn’t even make up production costs upon release in the cinema in the 90’s. My guess is that “Shawshank Redemption” is a hard title to sell, the proof being that almost every non-english speaking country has translated it to something completely different (notably Norwegian where it is called “Frihetensregn” or “The Rain of Freedom”).

“Shawshank” did however manage to become the most rented video of all time, according to Blockbuster, and will perhaps be holding onto that title forever more given that rental videos are nigh on instinct.

 

On the use of colour

The Oscar nominated cinematographer of this movie, Roger Deakins, has done brilliant things with colour in this movie that should be awed for its consistency and effect. The pale grey blue of the prison is so omnipresent and emotionally suppressing, it even helps us as viewers empathize with the prisoners.

The consistent use of this particular colour scheme also aids the significant scenes, that usually involves some act of kindness from Andy, to stand out. For instance when he barters a bucket of beers for his mates while they do roof work, there is golden sunshine bathing on their faces. For a few moments. Then back comes the pale grey blue.

More on the use of colour in film can be found in “If it’s purple, someone’s gonna die”, a book on the effect that colour choices have on our emotions.

 

Is it still relevant after 20 years?

Andy works for us like a Gandhi type of character. He doesn’t fight violence with violence, but with intellect. In the same way he doesn´t beat up the guys who rape him in the prison. He makes himself indispensable to the warden and then the guards beat them for him.

And even when the evil warden reveals that Andy will never get out of this prison, because the warden wants him there, Andy fights this injustice with a carefully mastered escape plan. And by taking all of the money he was stealing for warden. And getting the warden and the guards into jail themselves.

It all is perhaps the most perfectly satisfying revenge plot ever. And revenge never goes out of date.

 

Does it deserve the spot on the list?

No argument that this movie has a special hold the first time you watch it. When you watch the sweeping revelation of Andy’s genious escape,  it is like watching Ocean’s Eleven where you beat yourself up for thinking that you knew what was going on. You know nothing.

You can still watch it again and again. I recommend admiring the thoughtful colour choice and the carefully placed pieces of plot that eventually culminates in the ending, and how all those little pieces make you believe that Andy Dufranese could actually have accomplished this most perfect of prison breaks.

The reunion between Andy and Red at the end of the film, is only there because the studio insisted it be there. Like Frank Durabont, who wanted an open ending with Red heading for the Mexican riviera, I do not think this scene needed to be there. I would still know what happened. Because with an open ending you choose yourself, and this ending is the obvious choice.

Either way, I am glad this scene was shot. After so much dreary grey blue, and long minutes of being locked up in a fortress prison, it’s nice to feel the fresh sea breeze and glory in the bright turqouise 😉

This ending is probably why it gets a notch in the feel-good movie post. And to be honest, we all like a movie that makes us feel good.

 

What mood should you be in to watch it?

There is no surpassing the fact that this is a long movie. A full 142 minutes, or 2 hours and 22 minutes. And if you have watched the movie before, you can feel the minutes ticking away. It does get a bit long.

But if you HAVEN’T watched this movie before, it will enrapture you from the first moment you press play. Storylines will unravel and the evil will build in a natural and subtle manner that is elegant and a wonder to watch with new eyes. So wait until you have forgotten the plot, because you will, and watch it again with fresh eyes.

It is a serious drama, with a few entertaining characters and some laughs, but they are always killed immediately by the evils and dangers of prison life, of which there are many to be had.

For my part, the scene when Andy Dufranese locks himself in the wardens office and plays opera (the song is “Canzonetta sull’aria” from Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.) over the loudspeakers is one of those pivotal, tear-jerking moments.

When you have a whole prison of scruffy, light-blue clad men stopping in their tracks and listening to an Italian Aria, you have a juxtaposition of culture that truly creates something beautiful. At least in my teary eyes. And I am not even a fan of opera. Yet.

 

Further Watching

If you want to watch more prison break movies, I would recommend some older ones that have far more joy in them. Both “The Great Escape” (1963), where a band of British prisoners of war, gang up with an unruly American to escape the unescapable prison, and “Stalag 17” (1953), a black and white movie which is the funniest of the bunch, have tremendous heart.

Notably they are both on the ImDb top 250 list, so I will talk about them later.

I would also recommend giving “Gilda” (1946), the movie the prisoners of Shawshank watch which has Rita Heyworth in it. It is not the most exciting of movies, but will give you a lot of know how. If you are a nerd like myself.

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The-Shawshank-Redemption2_20140518

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 a recommendation to you from the ImDb Top 250 list, but rather a statement about the movies on it that hopefully will make you want to watch the movie again, or watch the movie and make up a mind of your own 😉

 

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?

I would recommend to buy this one. It looks good on a shelf and is a wonder for lazy Sunday evenings when you just want something good to watch. You should find it at any web or proper DVD-shop around. I will even give you a link to “Shawshank Redemption” on Amazon 😉 It used to be found on Netflix, but at the time I watched it this week, it was not there?

 

Once a month I will review the top 250 movies on ImDb and determine whether they still deserve to be there or not. I start from the top because there is less change in the top than the bottom of the list. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “New Releases – which one is worth a cinema ticket“, “Guilty Pleasures” and “Unearthing the Best Movies on Netflix“.

All non referenced fun facts are from ImDb 😉

Sign up your email and get updates so that you won’t miss the next ImDb top 250 review. Next month we will have a look at “the Godfather“!

 

Ever wonder what to watch on Netflix? Every month I will give you a new movie recommendation that won’t be a waste of your time. Add my blog to your e-mail list and you will never spend hours deciding what to watch again!

This month’s best movie on Netflix is: Carnage (2011)

Carnage Poster

Carnage Poster

 

What?

“Carnage” is a comedy drama (a dramedy as I have seen some people call it) made by the infamous Roman Polanski. It sports a limited cast of four, but with an impressive line-up.

Kate Winslet (if you need a movie to know who she is, then shame on you) and Christop Waltz ( you know, the nazi from “Inglorious Basterds”) play the career couple invited to the Longstreet family apartment to talk about their son. Jodie Foster (the woman mind-fucked by Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs”) and John C. Reilly (he is the go-to supporting actor, he is in everything, too much to mention), want them all to come to some sort of agreement about what they should do after their son was hit in the face by the other son, “armed” with a stick. He broke some teeth. It’s all very serious.

And on the surface it is all very polite and civilized. But of course this is going to change.

 

Why?

Any film that takes place in one location (the whole film is set in one apartment), with quality actors AND a good director is always worth a watch. If you need more proof that there is something magical going on, then look at the Golden Globes nominations both women received for their efforts.

Not convinced? Christoph Waltz will deliver increasing level of snarky lines, Kate Winslet will get drunk, John C. Reilly will snap from good guy to bad guy and Jodie Foster will on the surface be the image of a perfect humble housewife, but curse them all under her breath when they aren’t in the room.

When both me AND my boyfriend pay rapt attention from start till end of a film that is set in only one location, that means something has been done right. And it’s all in the story. No distracting visual effects or dazzling cinematography to lure you to keep watching here.

You should be in the mood for some comedy. In one way it is a serious movie, but the true value (or identification aspect) and humor of it is that you will see yourself in these characters, either as you know you would react, or as you imagine you would if you had kids. It is not a “laugh-out-loud” movie, it is a “snigger-to-yourself” movie (and I love those).

 

Who?

This movie is perfect for anyone who is in a couple, because you will have the most to identify with. Any parents, I can imagine, will also find themselves remembering similar situations with parents who are totally different to themselves, and how they try to deal with them.

It reminds me of an old movie “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” from the sixties, although that one has a completely different theme, only the form of one location, four characters, is somewhat similar.

I would also recommend “Carnage” to anyone who is working in the film industry or aspiring to be. This film was shot in real time,with no breaks, and in one location. To do this and make a successful 80 min movie is extremely difficult, so watch and learn. Why doesn’t it get boring? On paper it should!

Also look out for a Roman Polanski cameo (without him being on screen) as the nosy neighbour.

 

Further Watching:

‘Did you like this movie and want to watch more?

Apart from “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966) which unfortunately can’t be found on Netflix, I would recommend delving into Roman Polanski. He has a distinct opinion and style that is captivating.

From the movies on Netflix, I would recommend giving the documentary “Polanski: Wanted and Desired” (2008) a go. It focuses on the incident in Polanski’s life when he was guilty of statutory rape and how that evolved into fleeing the USA and never being able to return, not even to receive his Oscar for “The Pianist” (2002). This man has survived the Holocaust and has had his pregnant wife murdered. It is interesting to say the least.

If you are not in the mood for a documentary, watch his political thriller “The Ghost” (201) with Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan, where a freshly hired ghostwriter for the former prime minister of the UK, starts unraveling things he shouldn’t.  (“Polanskis Skyggen” is the title in the Norwegian Netflix)

 

Next week, I will be starting my new project where I look at the ImDb top 250 list and judge whether these films deserve to be there. Are they there because they actually are good in the modern viewer’s eyes, or are they there because people believe them to be of great quality because they were significant when they were released.

We will find out whether the movies can be stomached by 2014 eyes or should be left as a note in a film history book (or remade for that matter). We will start with number one (which has significantly fewer changes than number 250) and work our way up the list each month.

 

Don’t want to miss a review? Add yourself to my e-mail list and get an update as soon as I post. I will be posting every Friday 😉

So, I want to know? Which is your favourite movie that takes place in one location?

 

Two very different pair of parents.

Two very different pair of parents.

 

Who am I?

I do not work for Netflix. My boyfriend and I spend an awful lot of time trying to choose movies to watch on Netflix. Sometimes we stumble upon gems and those are the ones I would like to share with you. If you wonder about a movie, ask me, I will tell you if I have watched it or watch it for you (I’m a nerd, I want to watch everything).

 

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.

 

Why Netflix?

It’s not only Netflix. Once a month I will unearth the best movies on Netflix. Other Fridays of the month, I will look at “Imdb Top 250 – Do they really deserve to be there“, “New Releases“, and “Guilty Pleasures“.

I do take requests and love a challenge, so don’t be shy.

 

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