To continue my review of my epic journey to watch all my films from A-Z, this is the Sixth part.
For those that don’t know I am watching all 750+ Dvd/Bluray films from A-Z which has so far taken me 3 years to get to the I’s!
I thought I should retrospectively review each letter and give my top 5 films from each alpha block and maybe bring your attention to some films you may not have seen, films you’ve not seen in ages or films you should give another try. Click here to read parts A to E.
The F’s seemed to contain more horror films that most of the other alpha blocks containing Final Destination 1-3, Fright Night, Frighteners and especially the Friday 13th movies taking up 11 of my F collection. Also I have a few films new to my collection that I haven’t had a chance to watch or fully appreciate after a rushed viewing like Christopher Nolan’s Following or Bill Paxton’s Frailty (thanks Tracy for recommending) that probably would have made my top 5.
But there are some films that are in the F’s that won’t make my top 5 films like Finding Nemo, Farenheiht 9/11, Fargo, Fight Club and Ferris Bueller, not because they aren’t good enough but because there are the below films that are under appreciated or have a special place in my heart.
A few more I’m glad I don’t own before we move on to the top 5: Flubber, Free Willy, Freaky Friday (remake), From Dusk Till Dawn 2&3, From Justin to Kelly, Flash Dance (sorry Dave), Fantastic Four, Fast and Furious, Four Weddings and a Funeral and the perverse sounding Flesh Gordon!
And so on with my choice collection of F’s.
Frighteners is the excellent film Peter Jackson made before The Lord of the Rings, produced by Robert Zemeckis, Michael J Fox’s last major role in a feature film and the birth of Weta as a major digital effects company going from 1 to 35 computers to deal with the demand of visuals effects for the film.
Fox stars as Frank Bannister a psychic investigator, who See’s ghosts due to having an accident where he died and was brought back to life, and so he has befriended ghosts who haunt peoples houses and cons the owners by seeming to rid them of the ghoulish squatters for extortionate sums of money.
Unfortunately an evil spirit appears that starts killing people off and Frank gets accused of the murders so Frank and his ghost buddies set off trying to solve who and why the murders are occurring that leads the film to enter a dark finale. Its a very enjoyable film and one of those that were undeservedly under-promoted by Universal, i didn’t even know it existed until it came out on DVD and I am a huge Peter Jackson fan following his films from Bad Taste.
The evil spirit is brilliantly designed giving it a grim reaper appearance and Frank sees a number appear on the soon to be murdered victims head showing their order of death which was a great touch and added to the original plot of the film. Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh show their talent for writing which was showed off brilliantly by the ever so watchable Michael J Fox, its such a shame we probably wont see him in a major film role again, the visual effects were stunning for their time and showed glimpses of what Weta would showoff in Lord of the Rings.
Fright Night is one of my favourite Vampire movies ever. Released in 1985 it was one of the first Vampire films I watched all the way through without crapping myself and needing to turn it off when I was young, It was just a pure joy to experience and it’s where I learned all my Vampire rules from, don’t invite Vampires in, Crosses, stakes in the heart, Holy Water, No reflection, garlic and so on, it will ways have a place on my DVD shelf.
Chris Sarandon in the role of the Vampire Jerry Dandridge is so suave and charming that he makes one of the best blood sucking baddies of all time and battling him is the excellent William Ragsdale as the paranoid horror fan Charley Brewster and the quality thespian Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent a washed up horror movie actor that hosts Charlie’s favourite TV show Fright Night is recruited by Charlie, mainly for the money than Charlie’s story, to help defeat Charlie’s new next door Vampire neighbour.
It’s a fantastic 80′s horror film that just has everything I want from a Vampire story.
Funny Games U.S
Funny Games is a remake of the Michael Haneke Funny Games by director Michael Haneke. It’s so good he made it twice. It’s a brutally honest and intense depiction of violence in our society that shocks and is at times painful to watch as we witness the torture of a family that is mostly done off screen but nevertheless the sounds occurring in the background is what makes it so torturing for the viewer to experience.
Funny Games stars Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Devon Gearhart as the Farber family travelling to their summer house to unwind, they are greeted on arrival by their next door neighbours apparent guests, two young men dressed in white, who appear charming but there is something wrong with them, you can just sense it. What unfolds is the slow and incredible build up of tension as the young guys, Paul and Peter (played excellently by Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) introduce themselves to the family and are as nice and polite as you could want but they just over impose themselves and become unwelcome as things take a turn for the worst as Mrs Farber chooses to become impolite. It’s an instant change of atmosphere that sets up the rest of the film. The young men eventually step up there torture and bet the family they will be dead by 9am the next day and the family have to bet against it, it’s a horrible progression that just dominates the movie.
Even now I can still imagine what happens in the front room and the emotions that go along with it even though I never really saw what happened in there and that’s the strength of the film, it’s all about the telling of the story and the lingering long shots that make everything so uncomfortable to watch and this is heightened by the performances from Pitt and Corbet as the evil torturers who are just perfect and break the forth wall in humorous moments. Watts and Roth also excel as the victims and you feel their pain and anguish as the shocking events unfold.
Funny Games will divide opinions but for me it was a wonderful yet controversial film seen and told through the eyes of Michael Pitt, Haneke is one hell of a director.
I cant have a top five film list without the inclusion of a John Woo film, the director that really got me into films with the stunning “Hard Boiled” in 1992, I’d never seen anything like it and from then on I fell in love with films and with John Woo. And so 6 years later John Woo was directing Hollywood movies with varying degrees of success in Hard Target and Broken Arrow and then he made Face/Off that catapulted him into the mainstream with one of the most incredible and OTT action movies ever seen.
Staring the career revitalised John Travolta and current big action star Nicholas Cage on the back of The Rock and Con Air, Face/Off was always going to be something special and at times almost ridiculous. The plot is of Detective Sean Archer who for years has been trying to bring down his nemesis criminal mastermind Castor Troy and when he finally does, putting him a coma, news emerges Castor was about to pull off a huge terrorist attack on US soil and so with the help of some crazy futuristic technology Sean Archer goes undercover as Castor Troy by taking his Face Off and putting it on his own, problem is they have to take Sean’s face off too and so put it neatly in a bowl ready for reattachment after Sean’s mission to locate the terrorist bomb is complete.
Castor Troy unexpectedly wakes up and gets the doctors to attach Archer’s face to his then kills and destroys all evidence of the swap and goes off taking the place of Sean Archer. It’s a bonkers plot that should make for a crap film but it doesn’t, it turns out to be one of the most enjoyable and unbelievable great action movies of all time that completely entertains from start to finish with some cool set pieces like the “Some where over the rainbow” scene, the room of mirrors and when Archer and Troy meet for the first time after swapping faces, it’s just Woo at his best and Cage and Travolta totally enjoying themselves as each other. Stunning movie, will always put a smile on my face.
Fitzcarraldo is a film that stunned me, not just for it’s story telling but for it’s production values. Never has a film attempted to do the things achieved in Fitzcarraldo and never will a film attempt to do them again. Werner Herzog directs a phenomenal film about Brian “Fitzcarraldo” Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski), a failed ambitious business man who lives in a small city in Peru in the early part of the 20th century and his dream is to build an Opera house in the city that requires a ton of money to build and that money will come from his new found venture of the production of rubber.
Fitzcarraldo locates an unclaimed Rubber tree plot that is in an almost impossible to reach location off the vicious Amazon river rapids and leases it from the government with a plan to travel down an adjacent river then physically pull his three-story, 320-ton steamer over the muddy 40° hillside using enlisted native slaves to get the steamer to other side to be able to get access to his leased land containing the rubber trees. Simple.
But of course things don’t go to plan as Fitz comes across all sorts of setbacks as he slowly pulls the steamer up the hill using logs and pulleys and boy is it one of the most impressive sequences in film history as the feat of pulling the boat up a hill was all done for real without using special FX, a true wonder of film making and engineering. Its no wonder that this effort caused so much misery to the cast and crew and its a surprise it ever got finished at all.
The original lead actor, Jason Robards, became ill and was prevented to return to the film so Herzog had to recast Fitzcarraldo with Klinski after considering Jack Nicholson and himself for the role. Mick Jagger was originaly cast as Fitzcarraldo’s assistant but due to conflicts in schedule’s so wrote him out of the film and re-shot the entire film from the beginning and things got worst, Klinski fought with Herzog, the cast and the natives so much that Herzog claimed a native chief offered to Murder Klinski for him but refused as he needed to complete filming! incredible.
The film is also a great watch with incredible performances especially from Klaus Klinski, but I will always remember it for the outstanding feat of film making.
And in the words of Daniel Plainview “I’m Finished”!
G’s coming soon.