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On the Waterfront contends for best all time

23 Aug


Marlon Brando is a heavyweight actor that delivers a championship caliber performance that paved the way for actors to see the perfect execution of “the method.” Elia Kazan directs this masterpiece about dockworker and muscle for the local mob Tony Malloy (Brando), who witnesses the murder of a fellow dockworker. Malloy struggles with his conscience after he engages in a relationship with Edie (Eva Marie Saint), the victim’s sister while his brother Charlie (Rod Steiger) pleads with him to look the other way and forget about it, or else become the next “accident.”

On the Waterfront is one of the most important pieces of art in the 20th century.  The film is as relevant now as it was sixty years ago. The actor, the character, and the story continues to inspire artists and audiences to fight the good fight and to do the right thing in spite of the consequences.  It is a contender for the best film all time.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A+


Young Frankenstein is a much different monster

20 Jun


Rarely can parodies transfer meaning from one generation to the next, but director Mel Brooks with the help of comedic actor Gene Wilder create one of the funniest films of all time. The 1974 film, Young Frankenstein balances satire with originality to transform the 1931 Universal classic horror film into a much different monster that makes audience laugh until hurts.

Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson (Wilder) inherits his grandfather’s castle begins conducting experiments with the help of his lab assistants Igor (Marty Feldman) and Inga (Teri Garr). The next thing you know, Dr. Frankenstein is screaming, “It’s alive!” and the creature (Peter Boyle) with the abnormal brain escapes.

Brooks and Wilder understand how to bring a good story back from the dead. Their attention to detail and their passion for the project separates them from the long list of ordinary comedic artists. Brook’s characters become part of pop culture and the film remains relevant to audiences forty years later.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A

I’m Here (short film) downloads a powerful code

20 Apr


Writer and Director Spike Jonze’s thirty minute short, I’m Here is one of coolest love stories I have seen in a long time because it can be interpreted in couple different ways. Based on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Jonze creates a world of robots living along side humans. They have a life with relationships with ups and downs like anyone else. Sheldon is a lonely robot that lives a safe and normal life. He catches the eye of a fun and free spirited female robot, Francesca that enjoys to break the rules and live life to the fullest. He falls in love with her and he is willing to do anything for her. On the one hand, Sheldon’s love is inspiring and makes audience’s think about their own commitment and on there hand, it can be interpreted as a co-dependent relationship that consumes Sheldon. This powerful paradox puts the program in the viewers’ lap to download or delete.


Chuck’s Grade: A+

Adam’s Grade: A

A Streetcar Named Desire is the king around here

26 Jan


Rarely do I use the word masterpiece to describe anything, but Elia Kazan’s film production of Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire is closest thing to that word. The main cast provides some of the most talked about and studied performances in film history. The unforgettable name, “Stella!” continues to be part of American popular culture. Marlon Brando (Stanley Kowalski) and Vivien Leigh (Blance Dubois) electrify the screen with their commanding performances while Karl Malden (Mitch) and Kim Hunter (Stella) hold their own in the face of an intimidating and domineering Stanley. The film touches upon several subjects, patriarchy, marriage, mental illness, domestic violence, homophobia, and alcoholism in a way that has left an imprint on audiences both young and old.

The film set the standard for several generations to come in several filmmaking categories. A Streetcar Named Desire has proved it is “the king around here and don’t you forget it.”


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A+

The Bicycle Thief rides into audiences’ hearts and minds

9 Dec


Director Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief is one of the memorable and meaningful films ever made. Its importance to the post-war Italian neo-realism movement in the late 1940s is obvious, but its greater impact on cinema in general is even more important, and still felt today.

The film is simple. It follows a poor father searching for his stolen bicycle, which is pivotal for his employment and the salvation of his family.

The authenticity of this film is undeniable. It connects with audiences generation after generation because people identify with what the father is going through. The main characters Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) and his son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) are inexperienced actors but their performances find the truth within the brilliant storytelling. The Bicycle Thief is an incredibly moving masterpiece that rides into audiences’ hearts and minds forever.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’ Grade: A+

Almost Famous: Bootleg Cut

5 Dec


Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous is my favorite Rock and Roll movie. I love the fact that it is more than a movie about music, although the soundtrack is stellar. The film is about 15 year-old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) that writes his way into Rolling Stone Magazine by going on tour with a band named Stillwater. Along the way, he learns a more adult perspective of the music business. Crowe’s story is partly based on his real-life experiences when he covered the tours of such bands as, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, and The Eagles.

He creates a series of rich characters that help William experience all the high notes and low notes of being an adolescent. Frances McDormand is wonderful as William’s mom while Billy Crudup plays a charismatic frontman, but the best performance comes from Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, who steals “the show” and more than one heart. I recommend the Bootleg Version for the avid music fan.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A

Schindler’s List

16 Nov

Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, Schindler’s List is one of the greatest films of all time. For me, it sets the bar for elite filmmaking. His accomplishments on the screen as well as behind them separate this production from all other films. Each component of the film is irreplaceable.

Based on a true story about Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) and his factory workers. At the start of the war, he is a German businessman that only cares about sex and money, but once he meets SS officer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), a sadistic psychopath that finds pleasure terrorizing and murdering Jews, his perspective and actions change towards saving as many Jewish people as he can. I remember watching Fiennes’ chilling performance and feeling embarrassed to be a human being.

After each viewing I sit and watch patiently until the final credit rolls past the top of the screen because of the amount of gratitude I have for everyone involved.


Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A+

City of God is an unforgettable masterpiece

26 Oct

I rarely begin a review with a question, but how can one of the best films of the past decade (and decades to come) not be considered by the Academy Awards for Best Picture, let alone Best Foreign film. City of God (Cidade de Dues) is one of those rare international films that audiences from all over the world agree upon as being one of the most powerful and important films of the 21st century. Braulio Mantovani adapts Paulo Lin’s novel about two childhood friends growing up and taking different paths in life, only to be intertwined and connected. The story is based on real-life characters and actual events that take place in the barrios of Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s to 1980s.

Director Fernando Meirelles captures the unsettling world of barrio youth and directs an extremely talented cast of young actors that deliver unforgettable performances. I firmly believe this film could and should have won…if it were nominated.


Adam’s grade: A+

Chuck’s grade: A+

Fight Club is a beautiful and unique snowflake

5 Oct

Fight Club is a very faithful adaptation to Chuck Palahnuik’s popular book. The plot follows an unnamed protagonist played by Edward Norton, he is “everyman” who find himself living a life with no meaning. He attends support groups for ailments he does not have and becomes embroiled in a relationship with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter). He befriends a man Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who helps him find his true self through fight club.

David Fincher creates a stylistic world filled with rich characters and plot that twists, turns and leaves you guessing until the very end. As Tyler Durden says, “We are a generation raised by women, sometimes I wonder if another woman is the answer we really need.” Fight Club depicts a real angst many men feel in today’s desensitize society filled with consumerism, loneliness, and nihilism. Everything in the film is top-notch: acting, directing, cinematography, set-design, and story. This is my (Adam) favorite movie of all time.

Word Count: 160

Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: A+

The Apartment

12 Sep

For its time, The Apartment was an off beat film that tackled issues of infidelity. Some audience in 1960s found this content offensive, but director Billy Wilder was breaking new ground in Hollywood with his story revolving around C.C. Baxter’s (Jack Lemmon) apartment. Baxter is trying to climb the corporate ladder by allowing his superiors to use his apartment for their extra-marital affairs. Everything is going along smoothly, until he falls in love with the cute elevator attendant Fran Kubrick (Shirley MacLaine), who is having a “relationship” with Baxter’s boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurry) the head of the company.

The film boasts a cast of Hollywood’s A-list talent. Lemmon and MacLaine were both nominated for Oscars, while Wilder walks away with Best Picture and Director honors. Wilder uses expressionistic lighting to accentuate the the film’s somber moments and to draw audiences closer the genuinely sympathetic characters affected the most by these affair. This film deserves to be a classic.

Word Count: 159

Adam’s Grade: A+

Chuck’s Grade: B+