EYG Top 10 Undercover Movies Based on a True Story

EYG23

Here we go with another week of The Top 10 Show featuring John Rocha and Matt Knost.  This week’s topic came from one of the patreons at the Boss Hogg Level meaning that it did not have an inspiration from the upcoming weekend.  It started out as Undercover Movies and then the guys added the addendum to it that it had to be from “based on a true story” films.  This made the list a difficult one to muster.

Honestly, there were a bunch of films that I tried to stretch and make it fit the list, but most of them I wound up tossing out.  For example, I thought about Trumbo because in it, Trumbo wrote movies under an alias.  I know it does not really fit, but I considered it. Other films that I considered but eliminated because they did not really fit the category included All the President’s Men, Hollywoodland, Charlie Wilson’s War, Bridge of Spies, The Imitation Game and Snowden.

Again this week, I was able to watch a couple of classics that I hadn’t seen before that wound up making the list.  I will miss this time as next week, I will be unable to do that since school will have restarted.  Those will just have to be the films that I have already seen.

Top 10 Undercover Movies that are Based on a True Story.

Image result for american made tom cruise#10.  American Made.  Starring Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a pilot who was recruited by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions on some countries in Central America.  However, Seal wound up doing way more than that as he started flying drugs into the country for Noriega and he became ungodly wealthy.  Cruise does his normal solid job, though the film was not a huge success.

 

Image result for imperium#9.  Imperium.  I had forgotten about this movie completely until the guys brought it up on their show today.  Daniel Radcliffe is amazing as Nate Foster, an FBI Agent who had to infiltrate a group of white nationalists.  Although the character of Nate Foster is not a real person, the story itself has parts of it that are true and so fits into the category effectively.  Toni Collette and Nastor Carbonell also appear in the movie.

 

Image result for american hustle cast#8.  American Hustle.  One of David O’Russell’s films that is filled with oddball characters and big name celebrities.  Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Robert DeNiro, Michael Pena, and Louis CK are all in the film.  It is a dark comedy focusing on Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser, two con artists who were caught by the FBI and forced into working for them in a sting operation to bring down New Jersey mayor.  This is base on the Abscam case.

 

Image result for snitch rock#7.  Snitch.  One of the more unusual films in the oeuvres of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  It was one of the earliest examples that The Rock had some acting chops and might not always be seen as just a big action hero.  John Matthews begs the DEA to be allowed to go undercover in exchange for the release of his son who had been caught with a package of drugs despite not knowing what was in the package.  The film involved the Mexican cartel and The Rock is able to expose a major player, only making things more dangerous.

 

Image result for the infiltrator#6.  The Infiltrator. Another film that I had not thought about until John and Matt brought it up today.  I did enjoy the film, featuring Bryan Cranston as US Customs agent Robert Mazur who went undercover to infiltrate the drug cartel of Pablo Escobar.  Mazur became a close confidant and friend of Escobar which led to the bust of many of the members of the cartel and members of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International at a family wedding.  Cranston is sharp and strong in the film as Mazur, under the alias of “Bob Musella,” wound up in constant danger.

 

Image result for serpico shot#5.  Serpico.  This was one of the films I had not seen before today.  Again, I had a working knowledge of it and I knew it was one of the amazing string of performances in the 1970s for Al Pacino, but I had not seen it until now.  Frank Serpico, a clean cop, who refused to take the money offered the police to look the other way etc.  He was idealistic and the film is really about the loss of his innocence and his idealism.  The scene where Frank gets shot in the face is a tough scene to watch and it makes you wonder what the cops might do to maintain their status quo.

 

Image result for the Imposter#4.  The Imposter.  Here is my cheat for this list.  The Imposter is a documentary that tells the story of a life long criminal and con man named Frédéric Bourdin.  Bourdin, in an attempt to get out of the life that he was living in Europe, pretended to be the missing son of a family in Texas.  So yes I know that pretending to be someone else is a bit of a stretch for going undercover, but this documentary is so compelling and brilliant that I am willing to expand the definition for this film alone.  The film is unbelievable and thrilling.  It brings out emotions and makes you wonder exactly what happened to the 13-year old boy Nicholas  whom Bourdin impersonated.  And what exactly did the family know about all of this.  Certainly an amazing story.

 

Image result for blackkklansman#3. BlacKkKlansman.  The brand new Spike Lee movie is the most recent film that fits this category.  Spike Lee tells the story of African-American police officer Ron Stallworth who, by phone, was able to get the local branch of the Klu Klux Klan to agree to meet him for potential membership.  Of course, his black skin was going to be a problem.  Stallworth convinced another fellow officer to play the role of Ron Stallworth in person so they could infiltrate the KKK.  The scam was so successful that the real Ron Stallworth actually carried on conversations with Grand Wizard David Duke.  This film has major implications for today’s world and is not shy in showing them.  This is a tremendous film and one of the best of 2018 so far.

 

Image result for argo#2.  Argo.  The Best Picture Academy Award winner was directed by Ben Affleck and told the story about how a group of Americans were rescued from Iran during the time of the Iranian hostage crisis.  Tony Mendez went undercover into Iran playing a director of a film looking to shoot in the country.  In order to make this seem real, they had to go through the real set up of a big Hollywood blockbuster.  The film is stolen by great performances from Alan Arkin and John Goodman as the men backing and writing the project.  I found this movie completely thrilling and it was almost my number one film on this list.

 

Image result for donnie brasco#1.  Donnie Brasco.  However, the second film I watched today was Donnie Brasco and it was really wonderful.  It was also both John and Matt’s number one and it was a well deserved ranking.  FBI agent Joe Pistone went undercover in the New York Mafia by hooking up with Lefty (Al Pacino) and using the name Donnie Brasco.  As the days passed, Joe was growing closer to the low level Mafioso Lefty who seemed to always be passed over when the positions above him went to “swim with the fishes.”  Joe had to weigh his job responsibilities and that of his family against his new found friend.  I was riveted with this film and it took that number one spot away from Argo.

 

Honorary Mention:  Black Mass and Bad Country.

 

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Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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Ben Affleck’s directorial debut is a powerful film featuring a story that is difficult to watch, and provides the viewer with many ethical questions that are truly left ambiguous.

Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan) were private detectives who are hired to assist the police investigation by the aunt of a missing 4-year old girl.  Patrick was well known in the Boston neighborhood so the aunt thought he could go places where the police couldn’t go.  They joined up with the investigating officers Remy (Ed Harris) and Nick (John Ashton) and they followed the case through many unexpected twists.

The story was well told and the characters were very deeply developed.  You felt the pain and the guilt Patrick felt as the case took what seemed to be negative turns and you wanted everything to turn out alright.

Whether everything does turn out right at the end of the movie is left up to personal opinion in a unexpected way.

This is an amazing debut in the director’s chair for Ben Affleck.  There are many shots it the film that create emotions within the viewer and he takes a case that should be obvious what the best thing to do is, and makes you uncertain about what the right thing is.

Casey Affleck was strong in the film, and I found to be on his moral train.  There are other good to great performances from Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman and Amy Ryan.  Amy Ryan in particular showed a downright rotten side to the character of Helene McCreedy, the mother of the missing girl.

The film is an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name and Affleck does the source material proud.

vintage

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Deep Rising (1998)

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I was listening to the Critically Acclaimed podcast which includes the discussion of online critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold.  Each week, they pick two films, one bad and one good, to discuss as a pair.  Before that, they spend time reviewing the week’s new releases. This week, they were talking about The Meg and during that discussion, William Bibbiani brought up the film Deep Rising as the last good sea monster  film.  Both he and Witney Seibold spoke with such a positivity about Deep Rising that I decided to start looking for it.  I found it on HBO and gave it a try.

I will say that I had a good time watching the movie.  Sure, it was not the best film I have ever saw and it had some problems, but I enjoyed watching it.  If you can suspend your disbelief, there is entertainment to be had in Deep Rising.

John Finnegan (Treat Williams) runs a business where he and his crew would take you on his boat wherever you want to go with no questions asked as long as you pay them.  He was bringing a group of mercenaries through a pretty decent storm when we meet them.  There is some immediate conflict between the two groups when grease monkey Joey (Kevin J. O’Connor) discovers that they were hauling torpedoes.

Tensions built as the boat came closer to their destination… a gigantic cruise ship, one of the most luxurious in the world.  However, there’s a problem on the cruise ship.  The passengers appear to have disappeared.

However, the ship is not completely deserted as it becomes clear quickly that there is something monstrous there as well.

I enjoyed the crew of Finnegan’s boat, but I would have liked to have something more at the beginning to introduce me to them instead of simply throwing them into the mix right away.  I felt that Joey was played like he was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and I could see how some people may have found him to be annoying (because he was).  Still, there was something about him that made you root for him.  I liked Leila (Una Damon) and I would have liked more from her than we got.

There were none of the mercenaries, though, that I wanted to make it and when they started to be killed/consumed/drained by the sea monster, I was happy.  Still, the fate of the passengers was very frightening and you start hoping they escape simple because they were human beings.

The special effects were okay considering the date of the movie and the creature itself looked solid.  It looked good enough for me to not check out every time part of the monster was shown.

The story was fairly simple, although there was a bit of a twist with Anthony Heald as the owner of the cruise ship.  Heald played his character with a zeal that goes along with the B-movie villain and his over-the-top characterization fit well with the movie.  We also see a young Famke Janssen as the love interest for Finnegan.  Her character is not well developed outside of the fact that she is a thief whose overall motives are murky at best.

I loved the ending of the film which brought a laugh to me.  “Now what?”

I would thank William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for the recommendation of a movie that I probably would never have seen had they not brought it up.  I was entertained because Deep Rising knew the kind of movie it was and embraced that.  It did not try to do more than it should do and, because of that, succeeded.

 

funtime

 

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Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)

I grew up on reruns of the Batman series originally shown in 1966-1968.  I loved those episodes and, as a child, I did not see how corny or campy they were.  They were just the way my Batman and Robin were.  Of course, then, an older me discovered the Dark Knight Returns mini-series and my opinions changed.

That did not mean that I started to hate on the Batman series.  I still loved it, but I could approach it in the way it was intended, as a comedic take on the Caped Crusader.

A few years ago, they released a film called Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader and it featured the returning voices of Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin.  This was awesome and I got to see this in a limited run in the theater thanks to Fathom Events.  I loved the throwback film which I thought had the perfect touch from the 1966 series.

Then, with the passing of Adam West, I heard another animated film had been finished prior to his death, with the voice talent of William Shatner as Two-Face.  I was very excited, but I didn’t hear anything else about it and it slipped my memory.

Today, while searching through Amazon for something to watch, I stumbled upon this movie and I was excited again.

Unfortunately, I just did not find it as magically nostalgic as I did with the Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot of material here to enjoy and knowing it was the final performance of Adam West as Batman did give me some feels, but I had a real problem with the story and the portrayal of Two-Face.

Without spoiling, there was something that the story hinted at involving Harvey Dent and Two-Face that turned out to be just a taunt and I did not like that.  It made no sense from what we had already seen so it spoiled the movie for me.

I am also not sure that this film went campy enough.  There were parts that certainly worked but it felt like a pale comparison to the Return of the Caped Crusader.

I am not unhappy to have seen it, but I would have preferred more than what it was.

meh

Halloween (1978)

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This coming fall, there is a new Halloween movie coming out in theaters.  It is taking the continuity of the first film and discarding the remaining ton of sequels and reboots that followed.  Consider it like a Halloween 2.

I had never seen the original Halloween full and all the way through so I wanted to make sure I had a chance to see it before the release in October.  Tonight, it fit into the schedule so I watched John Carpenter’s original Halloween.

Watching it, you can see what type of classic this movie would become.  One of the first slasher horror films around, Carpenter’s film has all of the things that would eventually become horror tropes and cliches.  Of course,they were not cliches at the time, but they were so effective in this movie that we got the same type of tropes again and again.

Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie is running from the slow walking Michael Myers and she falls down.  How many times did we see that in horror movies after this.  The phone cord was cut preventing her from calling the police.  She couldn’t find her keys.  The doom that comes after teenagers have sex.

Heck, I found myself yelling at Laurie to finish him off when she had him down or to tie him up.  We all know about double taps these days…although it sure looked as if Michael Myers was more than able to shake off some serious damage to keep his desire to kill.

This film set the standard for countless imitators and followers the same way that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho did in the 1960s and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did in the early 70s.

The Halloween score is iconic as well, written and performed by John Carpenter himself.  They may have overused the Halloween theme a bit for my tastes here, but I can understand why he did it because it certainly created a tense mood in the scenes.  I was on the edge of my seat, even though I knew the outcome of the film and which of the characters would survive.

Halloween was tense and anxiety-inducing, filling the audience with fear and it did it without the use of much if any blood.  It goes to sow that you do not need gore to have effective horror.

I am glad that I was able to get a chance to see this first film.  I have never been a huge fan of the slasher film genre, but this one is one of the most important films of the time.  Admittedly, there is little character development, but you still connect with Laurie and her plight because she is such a good person.

I am looking forward to Laurie Strode to return in the next Halloween movie in October to see where her life has taken her.

vintage

 

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You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here

A brutal and emotional performance from Joaquin Phoenix highlights this odd and nonconformist revenge flick.  You Were Never Really Here was released earlier this year in a limited nature and has found its way onto iTunes for streaming.

Lynne Ramsay wrote and directed this movie that finds itself trying very hard to keep its main hero Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) in a dreamlike stance.  Joe was a traumatized war vet who was now a hired gun, was hired by a New York senator to bring back his daughter who had been kidnapped, but Joe was slowly descending into his own damaged psyche.

To be honest, I had a hard time following this and I was dozing off in several sections, not a good sign for a revenge movie.

Joaquin Phoenix was tremendous in this role, bringing a certain gravitas to the part.  You believed how Joe was slipping away and was on the verge of suicide the entire film.  And the fact that you are never quite sure whether or not something was real.

The imagery here seems to overpower the story and, while that can be okay, I found it a bit too artsy for my taste.

An award caliber performance from a wonderful actor does not do enough to surpass the material for me.  While I appreciate the originality, I needed more.

2.5 stars

BlacKkKlansman

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Spike Lee’s latest film tells a crazy true story from 1979 that has major relevance for the world of 2018… and he does not shy away from making his point.

This is one of those movies that is really powerful and sticks with you for awhile and it is very challenging to formulate your thoughts on it without a proper time of reflection.  Good for Spike Lee for creating something that makes people think.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) was the first African-American police officer on the all-white Colorado Springs Police Department and he was going to face some challenges.  However, the color of his skin quickly opened some doors for him as they needed him to go undercover at a speech by former Black Panther Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins).  After the speech, the local branch of the Klu Klux Klan felt the need to recruit new members and put an ad in the paper.  Ron saw the ad and called the number.  He was able to set up a meeting with the KKK members.

Problem is… Ron is black and the KKK was not blind.  With support of his Chief (Robert John Burke), Ron recruited fellow police officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to go undercover and play a white Ron Stallworth and meet with the KKK.

So while Flip was meeting with the KKK, Ron was talking with them on the phone.  In fact, Ron is able to make contact on the phone with the KKK’s Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace).  Duke enjoyed the conversations he had with Ron, not knowing that he had been talking to a black man.

Some parts of the movie worked better than others.  My least favorite parts were the romantic relationship the film tried to build between Ron and Patrice (Laura Harrier), the college’s Black Power president.  It felt like something added in that just did not work for me.

However, everything with Ron and Flip and the KKK was outstanding.  I loved everything with Ron and his fellow police officers in the CSPD.  I thought both John David Washington and Adam Driver were exceptional.  Driver was playing a man who was Jewish, but was not very Jewish so he was being faced with the anti semantic hatred for the first time.  This was opening his eyes along the way.  There was great chemistry between them and they certainly are a key component to the film working as well as it did.

I also liked how Spike Lee did not completely demonize the KKK side of the film either.  Sure there were a couple of the members were played as evil, but there were many of them who just were guys who wanted to drink beer and who had a disgusting point of view.

Though the topic is extremely serious, the film itself has a lot of great moments of humor.  Some of the phone conversations with Duke and Ron were just hilarious and many of the situations were so unbelievable that you have to laugh.  The timing of the humor was perfectly executed.

Lee does not miss a chance to be political in here.  He took a couple of subtler shots at the Trump Administration in the film, using some of the wording of Trump’s own rhetoric for dialogue for the KKK.  However, the end of the film left no doubt about the intention of the message of the film.

The ending of this film is a very dramatic and gutsy moment about which I am unsure how I feel.  The scenes were absolutely powerful and emotionally compelling for sure, and I understand why he included them.  I just worry that it might send people who have a certain idealism and who may have been swayed by the film running away from it.  It absolutely stunned the theater I was watching it in as I could hear several people sobbing while these scenes were being shown.

Another message that Lee seems to be sending is that, while there are racist police officers in the world, there are also good solid men and women who take the badge seriously.  While there are too many who rush to judgment, there is still hope that the cops can be a force of good.

Topher Grace was fantastic as David Duke, bringing a side to the KKK leader that you might not expect.

There are a ton of great performances and some really biting social commentary wrapped up into a film that has great humor and a thrilling story.  This is one of Spike Lee’s best films in years and maybe his best wide release film ever.

4.25 stars

Slender Man

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To be perfectly honest, Slender Man lost me within the first ten minutes.  I found it pretty dull and boring at the beginning and it did not pick up much after that.

The latest horror film is based on the urban legend of Slender Man, which was another issue I had with the film.  There was a real case of young girls injuring another girl because of their belief in Slender Man so it is tough to create this fictionalized version of the film.  That does not mean that there couldn’t have been a version of this that would have worked.  Maybe if it dealt closer to the psychological aspects instead of mystical it would have been stronger.

The acting in the film was, at best, competent.  It felt like all the three to four girls were doing in the movie were checking their phones or screeching.  There was not much in way of subtlety here.

There were also way too many jump scares in the film, falling back on the old trope really hard.  The music would get loud as something was about to happen and that is a technique that really needs to be handled with more of a light touch these days when you are getting top notch quality horror movies that use only a limited amount of jump scares.

The story was needlessly confusing and difficult to follow.  The characters were underdeveloped in almost every aspect.  There was really no lead protagonist throughout the film -kind of bouncing that around.  The final act had too many unintended laughs in it to be effective.

I do like how they used the Slender Man through most of the movie, keeping him in the shadows and hiding the appearance of the creature.  That was tossed out the window in that third act though and not for the better.

These days you have to elevate your game if you want to do a horror film and Slender Man did not accomplish it.  Go watch the documentary on the real life story if you are having an interest in the Slender Man because it is a better portrayal.

1.4 stars

The Meg

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Whether you enjoy this movie or not I believe depends on your mindset when going in to see it.  I had very low expectations going in to see the new giant sharp movie, The Meg starring Jason Statham and I came out feeling that I had seen an entertaining B-movie with some ridiculous scenes that were plenty of fun.

If someone went into The Meg hoping to see Jaws (or heck, even The Shallows), you were going to be disappointed.

The Meg is a big and stupid movie with a lot of action and a giant shark trying to eat people.  I was surprised to find that I thought that was enough.

When a group of scientists get stuck down 11,000 feet below the water and are stranded, they had to call for the help of Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) to rescue them.  Jonas had been in this situation before and he encountered something mysteriously gigantic that led to him leaving some of the people he was there to rescue behind.  Since then he was drinking a lot and out of the water.  Since his ex-wife (Jessica McNamee) was among those trapped, Jonas decided to get back in the game.

After the rescue, the scientists realized that they unwittingly released the monstrous Megalodon, the world’s largest shark that was supposed to be extinct.  And I guess it was hungry.

I enjoyed Jason Statham here.  He was unapologetically playing that 80/90s action hero who is jumping head first into danger.  There was one point where I thought that this could have been a role Bruce Willis would have played in his hey day.

After Jonas Taylor, there were very few characters sufficiently developed.  There was the love interest (Bingbing Li) who was not just a damsel in distress.  She was okay.  So was her cute daughter (Shuya Sophia Cai).  After that, all the other character were there for comedic lines or to be eaten.  I was surprised to see Masi Oka (Hiro from the TV show Heroes) in the movie.  I actually said out loud “Hiro” when he showed up.

Is this a great movie?  Absolutely not.  It is one where you have to approach it with a grain of salt (and maybe a tub of popcorn).  I went in expecting this to be bad and I came out entertained.  It is a B-level monster movie with all the silliness that goes along with it.

3 stars

Dog Days

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This one is quite a dog of a movie.

It is a mutt.

I did not like this one much at all.

Dog Days is a romantic comedy with a bunch of couples who all have dogs or are somehow connected with dogs. Or a comedy/Lifetime movie with dogs.  There are several different stories going on with a group of actors all centered around their relationships and their canines.

The dogs themselves are fun and cute as can be.  The cast of actors are not terrible either.

The problem with this movie is that the dialogue is absolutely atrocious.  Real people simply do not act or talk like this.  There were times that I felt like the film had been written by a sixth grader, and not a particularly talented one.  People do not sound like this.  I was trying not to laugh at the way these characters were being portrayed.  It was unbelievable how poorly this film was written.

Because of the silliness of the dialogue and the poorly developed characters, I had very little interest in any of the characters of the film.  The only storyline that I was even remotely interested in was with Finn Wolfhard as the young pizza delivery boy and Ron Cephas Jones as the old man who lost the pug that reminded him of his late wife.  I liked the relationship between these two characters, but it was sadly obvious how the arc of the old man was going to come out, especially when it was intertwined with the story of Eva Longoria and Rob Corddry.

There were a couple of times where the film tried to manipulate the emotions of the crowd with the dogs, but, to me, it came off as forcing a sad scene to try to have some emotional connection to these one-note characters.

It was also just way too long, and it felt like it.  I had a young boy in my row at the theater who couldn’t have been more bored through most of this film.  He wiggled and moved and flipped around.  The film lost him, and I wasn’t much better.

This was at its best when the camera came in to close ups of the adorable dogs.  The film could have used more dogs and less humans.

1.6 stars

 

EYG Top Ten Movie Remakes

EYG23

Welcome back after a week and a day.  This week’s Top 10 Show featured the Top 10 Spike Lee Movies in honor of the BlacKkKlansman out this weekend.  When I looked at the upcoming movies, I was worried that they were going to do the Spike Lee topic, because I just have not seen very many Spike Lee films.  Outside of Malcolm X (which I haven’t seen in years) and Inside Man, there are not much for me to list.  I was hoping something like Monster Movies in honor of The Meg.  Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.  Spike Lee it was.

That meant that I had to tap out of this week’s list.  However, I decided that, since I am a patreon who is able to hear the past episodes from their original run, I would wait to see what topic was the replay and I would do that topic.

So, here will be the Top 10 Movie Remakes.  Course, I cannot provide a link for anyone since it is a Patreon reward.  Sorry.  Join the Top 10 Patreon and you can hear this episode too!

Some info:  This is not reboots.  This is a remake.  I did some research to make sure I understood the difference.  It may be subtle, but the remakes are basically the same (or very similar) characters and story with everything else new.

I did focus on remakes of MOVIES, which meant some choices such as Little Shop of Horrors and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (which I LOVE!!) are not on this list.

There are also some major remakes that did not make my list because I have not seen them.  Scarface is a film that has been on my Netflix queue for a long time, but I just have not found the time to watch it.

So… here is the Top 10 Movie Remakes

Related image#10.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  The film starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara was a remake of a Swedish film of the same name.  I loved this remake (although I have not seen the original and I have heard it is better).  I found this such a tragic film with our vengeful lead character just trying to find her way in the world.  There was a cool mystery to the film and I found it underappreciated by the film community as a whole.

 

Image result for king kong peter jackson#9.  King Kong.  Peter Jackson’s epic monster movie was definitely too long and had some missteps along the way, but other than that, I really enjoyed what we got.  Jack Black was certainly at his very best in this movie.  Naomi Watts is always excellent in whatever project she is involved in and this is no exception.  This classic story was well told and the special effects gave this version of the giant ape that extra oomph.

 

Image result for true grit#8.  True Grit.  This remake of the John Wayne classic starred Jeff Bridges in the iconic role of Rooster Cogburn and the film saw the debut of young Hailee Steinfeld, who steals the film from the veteran actors.  This film, directed by the Coen Brothers, also starred Brad Pitt, Josh Brolin, and Domhnall Gleeson.

 

 

Image result for 12 monkeys brad pitt#7.  12 Monkeys.  Terry Gilliam’s weird futuristic dystopian world starred Bruce Willis who came from the future to try and stop the outbreak of a plague that nearly devastates the human race and forces them to live below ground.  12 Monkeys is the remake of a French short film called La Jetée.  The remake’s best work comes from Brad Pitt, who played a man from a mental institution who Willis believes had something to do with the 12 Monkeys.  Pitt is amazing with his crazy actions and really takes the film to another level.

 

Related image#6.  The Thing.  John Carpenter’s classic horror movie was a remake of a film from 1951 called The Thing from Another World.    The group of characters stranded in a remote base in Antarctica already made this a tense and stressful movie, but the addition of a monster that could become any of the people that it has killed makes this even more anxiety filled.  Kurt Russell is awesome here as one of the stranded characters desperately trying to figure out whom he could trust, before it is too late.  The film is very claustrophobic and, while most of the special effects show their age, the use of the creatures are used effectively.

 

Image result for insomnia movie robin williams#5.  Insomnia.  A great film starring Robin Williams and Al Pacino is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film of the same title.  Al Pacino is a police officer who is responding to a call from help in Alaska in order to escape possible charges behind him.   Once in Alaska, he can not fall asleep with the long sunlight happening.  Pacino was accompanied by another police detective who informed him that he was turning evidence against him. Unfortunately, that guy wound up dead during the course of the investigation.  Robin Williams played a creepy stalker type who knew what Pacino did and kept him on a leash.  This was a great change of pace for Robin Williams.

 

Image result for jungle book live action#4.  The Jungle Book.  Disney’s “live action” remake of the animated Jungle Book was a marvel of technology.  Everything in the movie, except the boy who played Mowgli, was animated/CGI.  However, the animals and the setting was so realistic and life like that you would never be able to tell if you were not aware of it before.  Jon Favreau directed the film and really brought the animated film to a new level of brilliance.  There were also tremendous voice acting going on including Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, and Christopher Walken as King Louis.

 

Image result for the fly remake#3.  The Fly.  This was frightening.  Taking the film from the 1950s starring Vincent Price and added some more tragedy to it and made it even more disgusting, The Fly became a fantastic remake.  Jeff Goldblum brought the tragic character to life as Geena Davis could do nothing but watch his continual descent into monstrosity.  There are some really gross scenes here that are fun to watch.

 

Image result for cape fear#2.  Cape Fear.  The remake of the 1962 film by Martin Scorsese starred Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange who are hunted by a murderer played by Robert DeNiro.  DeNiro is amazing as Max Cady.  Nolte was a public defender who messed up Max’s case and was a reason why Max spent time in prison.  There was so many tense and suspenseful moments in this flick that you are on the edge of your seat.  You never know what is going to happen and it is a great movie.

 

Image result for the birdcage#1.  The Birdcage.  The remake of the 1978 Franco-Italian film La Cage aux Folles featuring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a homosexual couple who run and perform at a drag club in Florida.  Williams plays Armand and his son (he had with a woman before he had come out) Val returns with his fiance who happens to be the daughter of a senator who expounds family values.  And surprise!  The Senator and his wife are coming for dinner.  This film goes way past the gay stereotypes and shows these characters with a realism and a humanity that had not been seen much before.  The relationship between Armand and Nathan Lane’s Albert was more than just a gay couple.  They were two people in love and who were comfortable enough with one another to show that side to everyone.   Gene Hackman appears as the Senator who is in for some shocks and some unwelcome realizations.  The Birdcage is very funny, poignant and fun.

 

Honorable MentionOceans 11, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Three Men and a Baby, Casino Royale, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast

 

 

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Locke (2013)

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I was watching Collider Movie Talk at some point this week and someone mentioned a movie with Tom Hardy called Locke.  They were making the point that Tom Hardy was a great actor and that the trailer for the upcoming Venom trailer may not be the worst film ever because Hardy is a strong performer and, to prove it, in Locke, he was able to carry the film on his own inside a car.  It was an interesting discussion and so I went on my business.

Then tonight I was looking at Netflix and I came across the movie Locke.  It was one of those that I would not have paid much attention to unless I had heard that discussion on Movie Talk, so I pulled it up and watched it.

Locke was a fabulous film.

Tom Hardy played Ivan Locke, a happy family man and a construction manager preparing for the biggest project of his career.  However, one night, his life was thrown into chaos when he received a specific call.  A woman with whom he had a one-night-stand and had become pregnant had gone into premature labor and she was at the hospital an hour and a half away.

Locke, who had issues with an abusive/deadbeat dad growing up, was not going to make this child feel the same way he felt, so he got in his car and left his work site and started driving to the hospital.

Unfortunately, that meant that he was going to have to take care of the problems -at work, confessing his affair to his wife, with his work associate who was too much into the drink, and with the company he worked for, over the phone as he drove.

Tom Hardy spent the entire film on screen, driving his car and talking on the phone and it was riveting.  Each time the phone rang, some new horror was dropped in his lap.  His wife Katrina (Ruth Wilson) was shocked and betrayed by his confession and was not sure what to do.  His employee Donal (Andrew Scott) was thrust into more responsibility than he was used to in order to get the cement poured in the morning.  His sons, confused by the evening’s events and why their mom was crying, wanted to be watching the football game with their dad and tried to ignore what they could see happening around them.  The lonely and sad woman (Olivia Colman) who was giving birth kept calling with worries and concerns, especially after they discovered the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.

Tom Hardy was tremendous throughout each phone call, trying desperately to stay in control and to manage every situation that appeared to him.  He could tell things were slipping away, but he stubbornly clung to the hope that he could fix things.  He also carried a monologue along inside the car with the memory of his dead father, whom he had serious anger directed towards.

Then, one of his sons had called him to tell him about the football game and as I was listening to this voice, I thought to myself, that sounds like Tom Holland.  Sure enough, in the credits, Tom Holland was listed as playing his son, Eddie.  You could see that Locke loved his children but he just could not explain to them how this happened despite their increasing knowledge that something was terribly wrong.

Add to that the fact that he had been fired by the company from Chicago, Locke had plenty of reasons to give up.  However, he was still as dedicated to seeing the job, that he had walked out on prior to a huge cement pour, get finished.

It is quite a risk putting just one actor on screen the entire time, but Tom Hardy gave probably the best performance I have seen him give as he literally and figuratively drives this movie along.  His dialogue and facial expressions were spot on and really carried the mood.  He showed the strength of this man who was slowly losing everything that had mattered to him.

I must say that the ending was a little up in the air, but I understand that you weren’t able to wrap everything up in a film like this in the 82 minute car ride.  Tom Hardy controlled each moment in the car and brought a wonderful character study together.  This was more than just a gimmick film.  It was truly well done.

vintage

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2018 EYG Hall of Fame Nominees

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The Hall of Fame ballot is up on the site right now.  It is open until Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th).  Feel free to vote as many times as you would like (just don’t go crazy over it).  You may vote for as many as you would like on the ballot.

How this works:  The four original EYG members nominate some of the people/characters/movies/things etc for the ballot.  They are combined and the EYG nation vote for their favorites.  The top vote getter is automatic and then, from that top vote getter, I determine 75% of the votes for the rest who will be inducted.  For example, if the top vote nominees gets 100 votes, then every nominees receiving 75 votes or above will be inducted.

Here are the possible nominees for 2018:

Deadpool:  This is the Marvel comic book character, not the specific movie.  Deadpool was created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza and he appeared first in New Mutants#98.  The character has starred in two movies.

Marvel’s Black Panther:  This is the Marvel Studios movie that debuted in 2018 and made over a billion dollars worldwide.  The movie became one of three films to cross $700 million domestic.  This was a cultural moment in films.  Starred Chadwick Boseman.

vibranium:  The fictional metal from the Marvel Comics that has given the people of Wakanda its greatest inventions and weapons.

Luke Cage (Netflix series):  One of the series on Netflix that features a Marvel Comics character. Series has had two seasons so far and stars Mike Colter as Luke Cage.

Attack on Titan (Series):  Japanese manga series written and drawn by Hajime Isayama.  Attack on Titan is one of the best selling manga series of all time.

smartphones:  All kinds of amazing phone technology that is basically a handheld personal computer.

Elon Musk:  founder, CEO and lead designer of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc and co-founder and CEO of Neuralink.

microwave ovens:  Need your food cooked quickly?  A piece of technology that redefined our lives is the microwave oven.

drones:  unmanned aerial vehicles.  Drones are an aircraft without a human pilot onboard.  They have been used for everything from play to war.

Robin, the Boy Wonder:  Dick Graysen, the most famous sidekick of all time.  Robin is the partner of Batman and would evolve eventually into Nightwing.

Pennywise, the Dancing Clown:  The killer clown created by Stephen King for his book It.  Pennywise has been adapted for film twice, once by Tim Curry and once by Bill Skarsgård.

Coca-Cola:  One f the big two soda pops in the world, Coca-Cola has been a staple in movie theaters and gamers’ basements since day one.

Game of Thrones (TV series).  an HBO series featuring the adaptation of a book series by George R.R. Martin.  It has currently run seven seasons with an eight and final season to come.

Spongebob Squarepants (TV series): This is a children’s television program from Nickelodeon that stars a yellow sponge named Spongebob and his array of friends.

lasers:  another technology piece, lasers, which stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, have been used in a number of different ways.

pizza:  one of the favorite foods of the geek community.  What is a gaming session without a pizza ordered?

Black Panther (character): The first black super hero character published by Marvel Comics in the 60s.  King T’Challa is the ruler of the fictional land of Wakanda.

the planet Mars:  This is the first planet ever nominated for induction into the EYG Hall of Fame.  It is the basis for countless science fiction stories and films.  Plus, it is the next major hurdle for the space program.

HDTV:  High Definition Television is a technological advance that has improved the quality of image resolution over the typical television.

digital cameras:  another technological advancement that has seen the change of how we take pictures.  No more film as the picture exists in digital format.

Dr. Seuss:  Child author Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel, has written some of the great classics including How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears a Who!

Halloween (movie):  the original 1978 movie from John Carpenter featured the frightening villain Michael Myers who stalked Jamie Lee Curtis.  Several films followed in the series.

Thanos:  The Mad Titan.  A Marvel Comics villain created by Jim Starlin.  Thanos is the villain of the Infinity Gauntlet, a maxi-series from Marvel and the Marvel Studios film Avengers: Infinity War.

Die Hard (movie):  one of the greatest action films of all time as Bruce Willis played John McClane, a normal NYC cop caught up in a huge theft in a LA skyscraper.

Santa Claus:  Jolly Old St. Nicholas.  The Christmas staple who makes his way around the planet on Christmas Eve delivering toys to all the good girls and boys.  He knows when you are bad or good.

 

So there they are.  2018 nominees for the EYG Hall of Fame.  The ballot is open until Talk Like a Pirate Day.  Please vote!