True Romance


Viewed – 21 July 2021 Blu-ray

In the early to mid nineties, one name seemed to reignite cinema as we know it and seemed to make movies exciting again. That name was Quentin Tarantino. At the time his movies, both those he directed and the ones he simply wrote, influenced me in my own writing. Most notably this lovers-on-the-run thriller from 1993. Directed by the late Tony Scott (brother of Ridley Scott) this tells the story of Elvis-obsessed Clarence (Christian Slater) who after falling for newbie call girl Alabama (Patricia Arquette) decides to confront her pimp, Drexel (Gary Oldman) to reclaim her belongings … yet after the meeting goes horribly wrong, Clarence comes into accidental possession of a suitcase full of cocaine.

This is shot with Scott’s distinct style; smokey interiors, sunsets, garish colours and soft focus. Something he put to great effect in movies such as Top Gun and The Last Boyscout. He’s also a great fit for Tarantino’s snappy, pop-culture filled script, helping to get the most out of a colourful cast, which also includes Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken and even a stoner cameo by Brad Pitt. There’s many stand-out scenes here, such as the now iconic Sicilian scene between Walken and Hopper, many quotable lines (“I like you Clarence, always have …always will!”), and even side characters seem to jump off the screen. However, I’ve always felt the movie is held back a tad by the fact Clarence comes across as a bit of an asshole sometimes. It also didn’t feel right how easily Alabama dismisses certain crazy things Clarence does. Yet as an unconventional love story, and despite their flaws, I still found myself liking these guys.

Like Natural Born Killers, Reservoir Dogs etc, at the time this came under fire by the censors for its violence, and yes it’s violent (especially the Tony Soprano vs Alabama scene) but it’s all larger than life, and by today’s standards – rather tame. Yet this is still one of Tarantino’s most entertaining scripts, and remains a nineties classic well worth your time.

The newly restored 4K release from Arrow Video is a difficult one to judge. Mostly due to Tony Scott’s directing style which delivers an overly soft, yet noticeably grainy image. The HDR implementation does seem to bring out the colours, and overall detail is good, if not exactly reference quality. Soundtrack in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio is crisp, and the various scenes involving music really deliver (Drexel’s club especially). Extras are plentiful, many of which are carried over from the previous Blu-ray, including deleted scenes, interviews and four commentaries, from Scott, Arquette & Slater, critic Tim Lucas and most notably one by Tarantino himself. New to this version are additional interviews with behind the scenes crew members, co-stars and fans of the movie. We also get art cards, a detailed 60 page booklet, double-sided poster and deluxe packaging.

Verdict:

(the movie) Recommended

(the Blu-Ray) Recommended

Oscars 2015


I’ve not really taken much interest in the Academy Awards this year, as I am getting increasingly underwhelmed by award ceremonies of late where it’s always the same names and the same kinds of movies getting nominated let alone winning anything.  However on taking a casual glance at this year’s winners, I feel pleasantly surprised to see some deserving names getting mentioned.

oscar-winners

I was wanting to see Birdman for a while but haven’t yet got around to it.  At first I was intrigued as it was a come back vehicle for Michael Keaton, then I heard it was directed by 21 Grams auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.  So I am equally happy to report that the movie grabbed Best Picture along with a Best Director nod for Alejandro.  In some of the other categories I was not surprised to see who won, such as Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawkins in The Theory Of Everything … typical Oscar fair but I hear it’s an amazing performance.  I was also pleased to see J K Simmons getting Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash – not overly familiar with the movie but he has always been a very underrated actor.  I was surprised to see Patricia Arquette getting Best Supporting Actress – thinking this actress, her appearance in Boardwalk Empire aside, was a bit of a has-been.  So very pleased for her also.  I am also a growing fan of Julianne Moore so was happy to see her get the Best Actress nod for Still Alice, even though I’m not familiar with that film.

eddie redmayne

One disappointment I did have was that once again, the Best Animated Feature Film went to a big budget Hollywood animation (Big Hero 6), and the also nominated Studio Ghibli movie The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya was snubbed – but, I haven’t seen either so that’s just a personal gripe.  Yet I was happy to see that The Grand Budapest Hotel did fairly well in the production design, music and costume categories, even if I’d have loved it to get Best Picture.

For a full list of who won what, Click Here.

True Romance


Viewed – 20 August 2012  DVD

With the news of director Tony Scott’s death, I felt the only way I could pay a genuine tribute, was to watch and review one of his best (and most underrated) movies.  Starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, we follow the story of Clarence (Slater) who falls for rookie call girl Alabama (Arquette) and ends up doing a drug deal with a hot-shot movie producer after accidentally coming into possession of a suitcase full of cocaine.  With the Police and the Mob closing in on them, will they make it to the happy ending they dream of?

Based on a stellar screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and released at a time when Hollywood had Tarantino fever (it followed Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs only a year previous, quickly followed itself by Oliver Stone’s controversial Natural Born Killers) and with Scott’s trademark soft-focus filtered style and a great soundtrack this simply bleeds quality from beginning to end.  Supporting cast members all get their moment to shine, most notably Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken in a very memorable scene (you’re Sicilian, right?), but also Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer (as the ghost of Elvis) and Gary Oldman.  Slater delivers easily the performance of his career, helped no end by a spunky and sexy Arquette, looking her most iconic.  The dialogue especially impresses, some of the best I’d say Tarantino has ever written, and with Scott’s confident direction, it even feels weightier and more meaningful than when Tarantino himself is behind the camera.

The plot does get a tad complicated, seems to wallow at times in the violence, and there’s probably too much going on … but if you’re paying attention, it all just works – which is a rare thing indeed.  A sure-fire classic of 90s cinema well worthy of repeated viewing.

Verdict:  5 /5

To shock and disturb


Last night I stumbled upon a showing of Hostel: Part II on television, and it dawned on me, that although this particular movie is rather missable overall, it does feature one of the most shocking horror scenes that has ever been in a mainstream motion picture.

So here’s my run down of some of the more disturbing / shocking movie moments I have seen … in no particular order.

WARNING:  CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!!

DO NOT WATCH THESE MOVIES IF EASILY OFFENDED

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Lost Highway


Viewed – 05 September 2007  DVD

Special edition

I promise this is the last bit of David Lynch appreciation for a while (after all this site is called The Movie Report not the Lynch Report…), but this is a personal fave of mine, and after the pleasant surprise of Mulholland Drive recently…well I just had to let you peeps know about this one.

Bill Pulman plays a jazz musician married to a sultry Patricia Arquette, who he seems very suspicious of, like he doesn’t trust her.  In classic Lynch style – nothing is clear, and all is eerie and down beat…until the arrival of a mysterious package on the door step of their house.  It transpires that someone has sent them a video tape showing the outside of their house being filmed…yet its not until a second tape shows the couple being filmed whilst they sleep that things take a chilling turn for the worst.  This is easily Lynch’s most unsettling film, and has a very bizarre twist half way through, but even though it does change the tone of the film dramatic, Lynch manages to cast a spell with use of fantastic nightmarish imagery, music and sound to create a cocktail of sensory overload that isn’t easily forgotten.  The star of the show here is definitely Arquette, as the sexy femme fatale who may be two different people (or maybe not) and gives an edgy, eye-opening performance that is very hypnotic (not to mention erotic).  Add to this a brilliantly creepy Robert Blake who may or may not be the devil incarnate, and Balthazar Getti as a mechanic mixed up with volatile gangster Robert Loggia – and really…this just keeps on giving.

This release is nicely packaged and has plenty of interviews, some decent menus and behind the scenes stuff that adds plenty of value for Lynch fans.

Verdict:  4 /5