xGary Xx (garyX)Birmingham, UK
xGary's Recent Reviews
Old Bob Hope films were always amongst my favourites growing up, and this is one of his funniest. He plays Sylvester The Great, man of seven faces ("I travel a lot. With my act, it's safer!") who saves runaway princess Virginia Mayo from the clutches of evil buccaneer The Hook. The gags flow thick and fast complete with Hope's usual self-deprecating one liners and loads of slapstick and sight gags; if you imagine Pirates Of The Caribbean done by the Marx brothers you're in the right ball park. Walter Brennan is hilarious as a crazy old pirate and Mayo is very easy on the eye in the classic tradition of old style Hollywood glamour. It still makes me laugh out loud pretty much non-stop after all these years and is the kind of classic comedy that appeals to every age.
Based on a story by Akira Kurosawa, starring Yul Brinner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn and Eli Wallach, directed by John (The Gunfight At The OK Corral/The Great Escape) Sturges and accompanied by one of the best musical scores ever written, and you have the ingredients for possibly the perfect old school western. Poor old Horst Buchholz didn't stand much of a chance up against an ensemble cast of this quality, but he makes a decent fist of a character who is essentially an amalgam of two characters from Seven Samurai, which makes way for Vaughn's gunslinger who has lost his nerve and slots seamlessly into the action. It does take a more popular culture slant on the original's more arthouse sensibilities, but it works perfectly. Brinner and McQueen make a brilliant double act and it even adds a more upbeat ending without failing to retain the spirit of the source material. One of the very few examples of a remake that is almost as worthwhile as the original.
xGary's Favorite Movies
Career criminal Henry Hill reminisces upon his life of crime in this true life story based on an actual FBI case. Goodfellas is the perfect film. It has the perfect blend of drama, gritty violence and humour as we see the dark side of the American dream played out over 25 years of a wise guy's life. The people depicted here do not play by society's rules and have their own set of laws and conventions revolving around the pure pursuit of profit in this, the logical conclusion of capitalism. The livelihoods and lives of others are commodities to be used up and tossed away and life is cheap to these mobsters whose stated obsession with loyalty and family is also soon forgotten for the "big score", leading to total anarchy. The combination of DeNiro, Liotta and Pesci makes for a brilliant triple act and there are so many classic scenes it's easy to lose count. The idea to tell the story in a "Wonder Years" format using one of the best soundtracks ever compiled was a stroke of genius and the post modern conclusion the perfect way to end the story. For me, Goodfellas is the best film ever made. Full stop.
Daesu Oh is a drunk and a philanderer, but otherwise a fairly typical husband and father. That is until one day he is kidnapped and imprisoned in a cell for 15 years with only a TV set for company and no word of explanation. One day he wakes up on the outside with only a wallet and a phone, and he sets out on a single-minded quest to find out why he was imprisoned and extract bloody vengeance on those responsible. The second part of the Vengeance Trilogy by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy is a bizarre and brilliant film. It constantly wrong foots you and messes with your perceptions, and contains the kind of revelation that makes the kind of so-called plot "twists" of most films look gimmicky and inane. This is the kind of film that blows you away and makes you realise you've been watching the WHOLE THING from the wrong standpoint. As for Min-sik Choi's performance, astonishing is the only word for it...the way such intense emotions and motivations are constantly shifting without ever feeling contrived or forced is just spellbinding. It combines art and extreme violence in a way that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, but BETTER. It's also stylistically on the same level as Fight Club and is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. A totally flawless modern masterpiece.