Category Archives: LBoM: Movie Overviews

Joker, A film That’s Not About Joker

Joker, written and directed by Todd Phillips, it’s the biggest surprise hit of the year. A relatively small budget… I guess, comic book movie in a sea of big budget comic book movies. The grandiose scale of something like Avengers: Endgame is gargantuan compared to Joker. But sometimes (most of the time), throwing a lot of money at something does not necessarily make the end result better.

So let me go back to the very beginning before I take a look at this flick. When Joker was first announced, I was nonplussed. The DC comic book films up to this point had been very, very hit and miss… mostly miss. The whole shared universe they forcibly tried to create just didn’t work at all. Even when DC flicks were ‘good’, they were still very bog standard and lacking in any real character or story. So when a film telling the origin story of perhaps the most famous DC comic book villain was announced, I lost all interest. The first teaser trailer was released and I was even less interested. The first few on-set pictures emerged that showed Joaquin Phoenix in full Joker regalia and the funny memes about McDonald’s began, I joined in. This film was going to be terrible, as much as I thought Joaquin was a phenomenal actor, and he is, this was going to be another DC movie failure, I was sure of it. So I pretty much ignored the film… then the early reviews started to come in a few weeks back. The critical response was insane, everyone was giving the film high marks and extremely favourable reviews. Joker even got an eight minute standing ovation at it’s Venice premiere. Let’s just say that my interest was most definitely piqued.

Pheonix Arthur 2

Still, there was this niggle at the back of my head that all the Joker praise was hype and over hype. Did Warner Bros (distributor of the film) just pay a load of reviewers to praise the flick to gain a lot of interest in an attempt to combat the previous badly received other films? Hey, I’m a cynical thinking kind of guy. It couldn’t be as good as people were saying, it just couldn’t. So sure I was that this film would be terrible that I just could not even open my mind to the slight possibility that just maybe it wasn’t. But there was one saving grace for me, Joaquin Phoenix playing Joker. Even if the film was utterly shit, I knew Joaquin would be amazing.

So when I sat down to watch Joker, I had already decided I was not going enjoy it…

Just a quickie. I’m going to avoid major spoilers, so this is a safe one to read. But I would still suggest that you go into the film completely blind regardless.

So I guess the first thing to cover with this film is the fact that it’s not really about Joker at all. Joaquin Phoenix plays struggling and unfunny stand up comic Arthur Fleck. A middle aged man who still lives with his ill mother in a shitty apartment in crime ridden Gotham City. Arthur is a simple kind of guy, he just wants to look after his mother. He holds down a few menial jobs, sign spinning for a local business, entertaining ill children at a hospital, all while dressed as a clown. Arthur has a heart and is the central figure in the film, not Joker. In fact, Joker doesn’t really make an appearance proper until the last twenty minutes or so.

The film really concentrates on Arthur and his social awkwardness, his mental troubles, his decline as man, his failures, his loose grip on reality and sanity. Arthur suffers from a neurological disorder that causes him to laugh, usually at the most inappropriate times, which often lands him in trouble. His condition is treated via medication from a social services worker but when funding is cut, Arthur is left without his meds, coupled with him losing his jobs, this when things begin to unravel. His mind begins to wander, he starts to engage in flights of fancy.

Pheonix Arthur 3

Arthur tries his hand at stand up comedy… which he is really bad at. But his performance catches the eye of popular talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) who invites him onto his TV show… and that’s about all I’m willing to give away about the plot here in this article.

As I’ve already said, this is not really about the Joker character despite the title. This film is about the human psyche, the rather taboo subject of mental health and how it is perceived, the breakdown of a man struggling to get a grip on his life. This is a film about Arthur Fleck losing his faith in society and perception of the world. Joker is jet black dark, depressing and yet also extremely thought provoking with an ending that really opens things up for questioning. There are plot lines that are not entirely covered and left up to you the viewer to make up your own mind. It’s a very open film all told, especially the ending. The film allows you to make up your own mind on just what kind of person Arthur is.

Seeing as Joker is Batman’s greatest and most famous enemy, of course there are a few Batman references in the film. They are well done and don’t at all feel intrusive. Well, there is one thing at the climax of the film that did kind of irk me because we’ve seen it so many times before that caused me to roll my eyes a little. No need at all for that particular scene.

Pheonix Arthur 4

Joker is a very slow paced film and one that really focuses on character over plot… and that’s not a bad thing when you have such an interesting character as Arthur Fleck to invest in. Joaquin’s performance is nothing short of genius as the troubled Arthur and you do feel a little sympathy toward him… a little, depending on how you chose view the character. You can really see the gears begin to breakdown in his head as he helplessly descends into madness. This is not a happy film, you won’t come out of it glowing with a smile on your face. Joker is dirty and grimy. It’s downbeat, depressing and exhausting. You’ll feel like you just been dragged through the sewers of Gotham City after watching this and will probably want to take a shower to try and get rid of some of the dirt, though the smell will never leave you.

You ever see the classic film Taxi Driver? Well this has a very similar style and tone.

Joker is brilliant if you are in the right frame of mind for such a film. I was wrong with my initial dismissive attitude toward this movie and that’s something I’m very glad about. Joker is the best film I’ve seen in decades… but it most definitely will not sit well with others.

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

– Arthur Fleck

Ghostbusters II

GB II poster 2
Little Bit of History: The sequel to the original film and again written by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis. Directed by Ivan Reitman, released by Columbia Pictures in 1989. This film only came about as Dan wanted to reunite the original cast in a new film, but couldn’t come up with a good story. So he decided to begin writing a Ghostbusters sequel instead.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: Five years after the events in the first film, The Ghostbusters have split up and sought out new careers after being sued by the city for all the damage they caused previously and have also been barred from investigating supernatural activities, causing the Ghostbusters business to go under. Dana is now working at the Manhattan Museum of Art and preparing for a new exhibit for a sixteenth century tyrant; Vigo the Carpathian. After a strange occurrence involving Dana’s baby boy; Oscar, she seeks out the disbanded Ghostbusters for help. They agree to investigate the incident for their friend and this leads to them illegally excavate First Avenue. The Ghostbusters are arrested and taken to court where two ghosts appear and the Ghostbusters do their thing by capturing the ghosts in return for the dismissal of all charges and them being allowed to reopen their business. Meanwhile, Dana’s colleague at the museum, Dr. Janosz Poha seems to have a rather strange attraction to a painting of Vigo the Carpathian which orders Janosz find a baby to possess so Vigo can return to life.

Little Bit of Character: Pretty much all, the main cast return playing their original roles. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson all reprise their roles as the Ghostbusters. Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis are back as Dana and Louis as is Annie Potts as Janine Melnitz. Joining them in the sequel are Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), Jack Hardemeyer (Kurt Fuller) and Vigo the Carpathian (Wilhelm von Homburg) dubbed by Max von Sydow.

GB II 2

Little Bit of Influence: Part of the very popular Ghostbusters franchise. Which, by this point was still going strong. The merchandise was still flowing and this film spawned just as much as the previous film. Again, lunchboxes, t-shirts, action figures, video games, books… everything.

Little Bit of Memories: I recall seeing the trailer for this film and being so excited. Ghostbusters was one of my childhood favourites and the anticipation of the sequel was unbearable. I’m pretty sure the first time I got to see the sequel was when my older brother managed to get hold of a none too legal copy on VHS. The quality was terrible and pretty much unwatchable.

Little Bit of Watchability: This sequel is quite notorious for being pretty bad. Its reviews at the time were pretty average and the film is most definitely a major disappointment. It just lacks the quality of jokes, the plot is a little silly (yes even for Ghostbusters) and overall it just seems empty when compared to the first film. I had not watched this film in years (10+) unlike the first film which I have re-watched several times. Then when doing this whole Ghostbusters celebration, I had to re-watch this sequel… and its not as bad as I remember. Admittedly, compared to the first film its lacking so much. But I really enjoyed watching this more then I thought I would. Check it out.

Peter  3

Peter Venkman:Kitten, I think what I’m saying, is that sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?

btn_donate_LG

Ghostbusters

GB poster 2

Little Bit of History: Released in 1984 by Columbia Pictures. Written by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis and directed by Ivan Reitman. Originally conceived as a film for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, but Belushi’s untimely death led to the film being taken in a new direction. The amazing theme tune was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song but lost out to The Woman in Red.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: A trio of parapsychologists are called to the New York Public Library to investigate reports of a ghost. They see this an an opportunity to set up a new business of a paranormal investigation and extermination service called the Ghostbusters. Developing their own equipment, they create the proton packs and traps that enable them to capture ghosts. Eventually they hire a fourth member of the team. Meanwhile, Environmental Protection Agent; Walter Peck has the Ghostbusters arrested and their ghost containment unit turned off. This unleashes a horde of ghosts into New York as Gozer the Gozerian grasps control and swears to bring an end to the world.

Little Bit of Character: Ghostbusters is full of amazing and lovable characters from the main four Ghostbusters of; Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Raymond “Ray” Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) Also along for the ride is the Ghostbusters secretary Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), Peter’s love interest Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her neighbour Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) with Walter Peck (William Atherton) as the antagonist trying to prove the Ghostbusters are frauds.

GB

Little Bit of Influence: Ghostbusters went on to become a very successful franchise. Any and everything bore the Ghostbusters logo in the 80s and 90s. The film spawned its own sequel, a popular animated TV show… which itself had its own sequel. Board games, video games, toys, clothing, comics, etc. Think of any product and there is a good chance there was a Ghostbusters version of it. The fan base of Ghostbusters is very strong an loyal (just look at the hate train for the remake as proof) and there have even been fan made films.

Little Bit of Memories: I remember first seeing the film on VHS around 86/87, by which time the Ghostbusters hype was at fever pitch. If I recall correctly, me and my brothers first watched it when staying at my aunt’s house overnight. My uncle had to pre-book the film to rent weeks in advance as it was so popular.

Little Bit of Watchability: One of THE definitive films of the 80s. A great ensemble cast, great jokes, amazing effects work and brilliantly directed. This is one of those ‘feel good’ movies that just puts a smile on your face every time you see it. I could (and have) watch(ed) this film over and over and yet never get tired of it. Dan and Harold’s script is snappy and entertaining. And that damn theme tune will remain in your head for the rest of you life. Most definitely well worth watching and aside for that slight cheesy 80s feel, the film is timeless.

Luoishorse

Louis Tully:I am Vinz, Vinz Clortho, Keymaster of Gozer. Volguus Zildrohar, Lord of the Sebouillia. Are you the Gatekeeper?”

btn_donate_LG

The Blues Brothers

poster

Little Bit of History: Directed by John Landis and written by Dan Aykroyd & John Landis, released by Universal Pictures in 1980. This film is a wonderful mix of comedy, music and car chases. Featuring an amazing all star cast of some of the greatest blues/soul musicians ever. The film début of the classic Saturday Night Live characters of the same name.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: The plot is pretty simple. The recently released from jail; Jake Blues is reunited with his brother; Elwood. They pay a visit to their old orphanage where they were raised and agree to get money to keep the old place open by reforming their old band to play some gigs and raise the money needed.

Little Bit of Character: So many characters to cover here starting with the titular brothers; Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) Blues. The ‘penguin’; Sister Mary Stigmata (Kathleen Freeman), Reverend Cleophus James (James Brown), Ray (Ray Charles), Mrs. Murphy (Aretha Franklin), Curtis (Cab Calloway), then there are the ever persistent Burton Mercer (John Candy), Illinois Nazi leader (Henry Gibson) and Jake’s mysterious girlfriend (Carrie Fisher) as the characters trying to chase and stop The Blues Brothers in their “mission from God”. That’s before we even get to The Blues Brothers Band; Steve “the Colonel” Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Murphy Dunne, Willie “Too Big” Hall, Tom “Bones” Malone, “Blue Lou” Marini, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and “Mr. Fabulous” Alan Rubin. Plus cameos from Steven Spielberg, John Lee Hooker, Twiggy, Paul Reubens, Chaka Khan, Charles Napier and Frank Oz among others. The film is full of amazing talent.

BB 1

Little Bit of Influence: The Blues Brothers started out as a simple musical sketch on the infamous Saturday Night Live TV show, but it grew into this film and spawned a very successful franchise. With a sequel movie; Blues Brothers 2000. They also had several music albums; Briefcase Full of Blues (1978), Made in America (1980), The Blues Brothers Band Live in Montreux (1990), Red, White & Blues (1992), Blues Brothers and Friends: Live from Chicago’s House of Blues (1997) as well as two movie soundtracks and even several compilation albums. Then there were numerous Blues Brothers video games. Plus they even had their own bar; The Blues Brothers Bar was an illegal back-house tavern started by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd themselves, until it was discovered by authorities and forced to close in 1982.

Little Bit of Memories: I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw this film, I have seen it so many times they all kind of blur into one. But I’m pretty sure an old family friend, Mike Price (I bet he can still recite the opening monologue to ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’) was the one who introduced me to this film when I was a kid. The film is a huge cult classic with die hard fans all over the world. Since falling in love with the film, I have seen several Blues Brothers tribute acts and even the official Blues Brothers live show. I always make sure to watch the live Blues Brothers show at Universal Studios every time I go. I do recall introducing others to this film, including my oldest and best mate, Paul, who loves the film just as much as I do.

Little Bit of Watchability: Is this film still watchable today? Hell yes. Its one of the greatest films ever made. Amazing music, some of the best car chases ever caught on film, damn funny comedy and a cast that is so full of talent, I can’t think of any other film that comes close. The fact the band are a real band full of respected musicians and can actually play really adds to the musical elements of this film. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were at the top of their game and their chemistry is unmatched. Plus the film is directed by the mighty John Landis, one of the greatest film directors of the 80s. This film is my Bible.

Now, its about here in my movie overviews where I choose a line from the film that is memorable, funny, iconic, witty, emotional, etc. Just one line that sparks off some kind of a memory. The trouble with The Blues Brothers is that is has so many iconic and memorable lines its impossible to select just one. I could write up a dozen quotes from the film and still not even scratch the surface, which one do I choose?

“We’re on a mission from God.”?
“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas…”?
“Four fried chickens and a Coke.”?
“Well thank you, pal. The day I get outta prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car!”?
“How much for the little girl? How much for the women?”?
“It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks…”?
“It wasn’t a lie, it was just bullshit.”?
“Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.”?
“No, ma’am. We’re musicians.”?
“I offered to help you… You refused to take our money. Then I said: I guess you’re really up Shit Creek!”?
“We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.”?
“So, Jake, you’re out, you’re free, you’re rehabilitated. What’s next? What’s happenin’? What you gonna do? You got the money you owe us, motherfucker?”?
“Ow, you fat penguin!”?
“2000 bucks and it’s yours. You can take it home with you. As a matter of fact, I’ll throw in the black keys for free.”?
“You on the motorcycle… You two girls… tell your friends.”?
“Jake, you get wise. You get to church.”?
“The Blues Brothers? Shit! They still owe you money, fool.”?
“Did you get me my Cheez Wiz, boy?”?
“You’re gonna look pretty funny tryin’ to eat corn on the cob with no fuckin’ teeth!”?
“Breaks my heart to see a boy that young goin’ bad.”?
“Get out, and don’t come back until you’ve redeemed yourselves.”?
“You want I should wash the dead bugs off the windshield?”?
“Why not? If the shit fits, wear it.”?

I need to stop and select a quote before I go on too much… I know, too late.

BB 3

Elwood:Hey, Jake. Gotta be at least seven dollars worth of change here.

I actually want to do a more in-depth look at this film and The Blues Brothers in general when I have more time. As the making of the film has some really interesting titbits and stories behind it. But that will have to wait until a later date… or you can just click here.

Anyway, thanks for introducing me to this film Mike.
“YES! YES! JESUS H. TAP-DANCING CHRIST… I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!”

BB 4

btn_donate_LG

Purple Rain

2016 is proving to be a rather upsetting year.

poster

Little Bit of History: Directed by Albert Magnoli and starring the musical legend Prince. Released in 1984. Prince came up with a basic concept that became this film during his Triple Threat/1999 tour from 1982.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: The Kid (Prince) is a talented but troubled lead singer of a group called; The Revolution. The Kid has a tumultuous relationship with his mother and father, so he loses himself in his music. The band start to perform at the First Avenue nightclub. The Kid discovers his girlfriend, Apollonia being lined up to replace The Revolution as The Kid struggles to maintain his career and his home life begins to dissolve.

Little Bit of Character: The Kid (Prince) is backed up with other characters; Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero), Morris (Morris Day), Mother (Olga Karlatos) and Father (Clarence Williams III)

Little Bit of Influence: The film was released with a stunning soundtrack that featured such songs as; When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, I Would Die 4 U and of course the titular; Purple Rain. The film won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, while the soundtrack sold over 25 million worldwide.

Little Bit of Memories: I have to be honest, I never watched this until probably about 4/5 years ago. So don’t really have many great memoires to share.

Little Bit of Watchability: Watching it now, it is very cheesy and self indulgent from Prince. Plus lets be honest, Prince couldn’t act…but he sure could write and perform a song. This is not a great film,but there are some really great moments in it and the relationship between The Kid and his parents packs quite a bit of emotion. Still worth watching, but its just a very average film overall.

PR

The Kid:You’re lying. I can tell just by your reaction, you’re lying.

Prince

Prince:I’ve got more hits than Madonna’s got kids.

btn_donate_LG

Labyrinth

We have lost a legend.

poster

Little Bit of History: Released by Lucasfilm in 1986 and directed by Jim Henson with a screenplay by Monty Python’s Terry Jones. A magical mixture of music, dance, comedy, thrills and puppets. Labyrinth was the first film ever to feature a fully computer generated animal.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: 15 year old Sarah has to babysit for her younger brother, Toby. Frustrated by Toby’s constant crying, Sarah wishes for the goblins to take Toby away…and they do. Sarah must then enter the eponymous labyrinth and try to get to the castle in the middle to reclaim her brother from The Goblin King.

Little Bit of Character: Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is joined by a cast of amazing and wonderful characters including; Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus and his (sometimes) faithful dog Ambrosius. All topped off with Jareth-The Goblin King (David Bowie) and his impressive codpiece.

Little Bit of Influence: The film went on to inspire a manga sequel called; Return To Labyrinth. As well as a prequel graphic novel which is in the works announced by Archaia Studios. There was even a sequel film that almost made it to the big screen called; Curse of the Goblin King, but ultimately is was decided to take the film in a different direction and the film was reworked and relased as MirrorMask in 2005.

Little Bit of Memories: I don’t really recall the first time I saw this, but whenever it was, it made a lasting impression on me. It a film I have grown with and love more and more each time I see it.

Little Bit of Watchability: This has to be my favourite non-Muppets Jim Henson puppet film. I often watch some old films I loved as a kid and can never work out why I liked them. This film is one I find even more enjoyable now than I did (almost) 30 years ago. The story is simple but it really works. Sarah is a loveable heroine and the characters she meets are equally as enjoyable (must mention the little worm she meets near the beginning: “I’m just a worm. Say, come inside, and meet the missus.”). Brilliant cast of fun, outrageous characters all levelled out with the main villain, Jareth played perfectly by the recently gone David Bowie.

Jerad

Jareth:You remind me of the babe…

Bowie

David Bowie:I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.

Thanks for the music and everything else over the years David.

btn_donate_LG

The Evil Dead

Its Halloween, so I’m going to turn the spotlight on one of my all time favourite horror films ever made…

poster

Little Bit of History: Written and directed by Sam Raimi. Produced by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Robert Tapert. The Evil Dead was relased in 1981 but filmed over several years between 1977 and 1979.
The film is technically a remake of Sam Raimi’s own (any VERY low quality) Within The Woods which was a film Sam made to show to investors in order to help fund The Evil Dead. Originally titled; The Book Of The Dead, but re-titled to The Evil Dead as there wad concern people would think they would have to read during the film.

Little Bit of Plot/Story: A group of five friends go to a cabin in the woods to do what teenagers do, smoke weed and have sex. However they unleash an evil force by playing a recording that has been made by a professor who translated an ancient text. The evil, possesses the friends one by one turning them into demons (not zombies). Each one becomes possessed until only one remains and manages to survive and beat the evil…or do they?

Little Bit of Character: Bruce Campbell plays the unlikely hero, Ash with Betsy Baker playing his girlfriend Linda. Ellen Sandweiss plays Cheryl, Richard DeManincor (credited as Hal Delrich) was Ash’s best friend Scott with Theresa Tilly (as Sarah York) playing Shelly.

Little Bit of Influence: The Evil Dead started with very humble beginnings but had a strong cult following and went on to spawn its own franchise with two sequels, a string of games based on the film(s), comic books and even a live stage show musical. The film also went on to be remade (really well) in 2013. There is even a TV show called Ash Vs Evil Dead coming out in a few days. The Evil Dead has gone on to become a world (in)famous phenomenon, not too bad seeing as the film was made by a bunch of inexperienced teenagers only filming on the weekends when they could over the course of several years. Writer/director Sam Raimi became one of the biggest names working in Hollywood today.

Little Bit of Memories: I have vague memories of seeing this film on an old projector back in the early 80s and I’m from England where the film was banned outright for many years so where that copy of the film came from I have no idea. I rediscovered the film many years later in my late teens in the late 90s but it was heavily edited. It was not until the early 2000’s when a change in management at the BBFC saw many previously banned or heavily edited films finally relased fully uncut that I saw The Evil Dead as it was intended.

Little Bit of Watchability: This is one of my all time favourite films ever made. Its very low budget, cheesy, badly acted…but it is a film that clearly had a lot of heart and passion from the people involved in making it. Despite its low budget and lack of experienced cast and crew, the film is beautifully shot and really innovative for its time. I urge any and every horror fan to watch this even if only once, but please put aside the low quality script, acting, etc and just enjoy one of the most terrifying and gruesome horror films of the 70s/80s.

Demon

Cheryl:You will die! Like the others before you, one by one, we will take you.

There’s more Evil Dead to come with my look at the original Commodore 64 game as well as try to clear up the “is Evil Dead II a remake?” misconception…join us…

btn_donate_LG