Thomas Bowler (TomBowler)Brisbane
Thomas' Recent Reviews
Wes Anderson hasn't affected this much heart since The Royal Tenenbaums and hasn't had a character like M. Gustave ever. Full review later.
The humour might be a little too lofty for its target demographic from time to time but the film around it is a light-hearted adventure which ties in the huge ideas neatly. Full review later.
Thomas' Favorite Movies
Whenever I tell my friends to watch this film (they totally exist!!) I always make sure to add: "You probably won't like it the first time around." This comes from experience after turning off the television in disgust after seeing it for the first time. It's a tribute to the film's enduring power and better-with-age quality that it now sits at the top of my favourite films of all time. Four stories intertwine as a pair of hitmen pick up a briefcase, a boxer pisses off a crime mogul, two armed robbers try their luck at a restaurant and an employee takes his boss' wife out for the night. It's difficult to pinpoint the exact source of Pulp Fiction's uber coolness; possibly the fact that it never tries to be. Quite the opposite in fact. Hitmen discuss Green Acres over breakfast, Mia and Vince do nothing but dance the night away and the soundtrack consists almost entirely of surf music and little known 70s tracks. As you can see, it doesn't exactly consist of pop-culture staples and things which are classified as cool. We sit through uncomfortable silences and conversations about foot massages and yet the film is touted as one of the benchmarks of cool. It's this insistent avoidance of what's recognised as cool which makes Pulp Fiction the coolest thing ever created. Instead of trying to exploit current pop-culture and get "in with the kids these days," it creates its own pop-culture and expects you to fall in line with it. By reinventing and patenting its own pop-culture, the film is entirely age-resistant, the proof of which lies in the fact that people who weren't even born at the time of its creation are trying to sneak it out of video stores to find out what the fuss is all about even today. And people who were older than Tarantino at the time of its creation still herald it as one of the greatest films they've seen. One of the main attractions of the film is Tarantino's script. Every single word of the entire film is quotable, whether it's something to do with hamburgers or pot bellies, it's as inventive and memorable as scripts get. One of the greatest aspects of the script is the pacing. Tarantino knows exactly how to take it slow and how and when to put the hammer down. A prime example of this is the infamous hamburgers scene. After being introduced by Vince and Jules talking about what they call various burgers in other countries, the two operatives head upstairs to retrieve a briefcase. The scene is filled with intricate slow-building intensity where the conversation revolves around what the boys are having for breakfast until finally it explodes into full-blown chaos. This restrained pacing is typical of the rest of the film, taking its time to arrive at every point it makes until going completely apeshit. Tarantino also shows a flair for subtlety, though that's kind of an oxymoron. The dinner scene between Mia and Vince is filled with subtext and nuance and while not even a word of a typical soppy love story makes its way in, it's never in doubt as to what's not being said. But it's the pop-culture defining quotes which make the film so incredibly watchable. Never again will someone be able to order a milkshake without the price coming into question, never will someone be able to quote scripture without someone piping up with Ezekiel 25:17 and the lamest joke in the entire world will always be one of the coolest things to say to a group of movie-lovers. Backing up this fantastic script is an amazing cast. It's an eclectic mix at first sight, but each and every part seems to have been tailored to fit the actor inhabiting it. John Travolta's career rebirth as Vincent Vega is fantastic, perfectly portraying the aloofness of a stoner and the assuredness of a gangster as well as a great gift for the inherit humour of the role. Uma Thurman's turn as Mia Wallace is similarly great, managing to be ridiculously hot while wearing more clothes than any number of so-called actresses with nothing between their ears. Bruce Willis' volatile Butch is perfectly restrained and brilliantly nuanced, Ving Rhames' Marsellus is gravitas in human form, Harvey Keitel's Wolf is the epitome of understated cool and Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer's Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are a perfect duo. But it's Samuel L. Jackson's Jules Winnifield which stands out in the incredible ensemble. His performance is a force of nature, exploding into rage while quoting scripture, levelling a room with a look and talking like a gattling gun. His performance is as funny as it is terrifying and constantly based in reality. Tarantino's direction, already shown in Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown to be restrained and subtle, a masterclass in choreographed realism, is just as effective here, if not more so. Many of the scenes lend themselves even more so to his directorial style, making way for beautifully intricate tracking shots and trademark corpse and trunk shots. But while his direction is undoubtedly fantastic, his restraint in many aspects is the thing to be admired here. It's not until a third of fourth viewing that you realise the intricacy in his work as he doesn't draw attention to any of it. This gives the film a base in reality which makes way for the script and performances to shine through. It also means that the darker moments are made that much more dark by comparison. Whether you like it for its technical aspects or simply to sit down with some of your favourite characters, Pulp Fiction is a perfectly paced, infinitely quotable and brilliantly executed crime film with a slew of indelible scenes which even today manages to change pop-culture to its will. Defining Scene: Mia's OD-ing fiasco. Perfect combination of Tarantino's brilliant direction, script and some fantastic performances. Quote: Ezekiel 25:17 (look it up) Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast. That's a pretty fuckin good milkshake! You got a corpse in a car, minus a head, in the garage. English motherfucker, do you speak it? I do believe Marsellus Wallace, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted. Now I wanna dance, I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good.
It's funny, if you talk to pretty much anyone around the globe about The Godfather, they know exactly what you're talking about. Whether they've seen it or not, they know exactly what you mean. Some of them will even muster up a quote or two. Such is the worldwide influence of Mario Puzo's The Godfather. The film revolves around the Corleone family, in particular Don Vito Corleone and his sons; Michael, Santino (Sonny) and Fredo and their involvement in a budding mob war. So why is this one piece of cinema so absolutely, world-changingly (yes that's a word... now) good? Let's have a look.
First of all, the script. Perfectly smearing the line between realistic and stylised, it is THE most quotable gangster movie of all time with lines like "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse," "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes," etc. But it also gives the characters a depth which hundreds of other films have found hard to replicate. Each line is specially crafted for its character and is filled with rich subtext and double meanings. The realism factor means that lines aren't over stylised and polished to within an inch of their life, which helps to create an atmosphere of a slightly elevated reality.
The acting. It's not often that a filmmaker is granted the use of an ensemble quite as amazing as this, and they are all incredible. Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone has long since passed into cinema immortality as he mumbles his way through the script perfectly. For the most part he is calm, in control. But when moments of anger or sadness come along, he is explosive. His restraint throughout the film is top notch and it makes the more heightened emotional states that much more incredible. The best example of this is in when he's speaking with Johnny Fontane about his part in a film coming up. I'm surprised the screen doesn't shake every time. Al Pacino's Michael is a standout as well, with his cold, calculating personality and fierce protection of his family, as well as a sort of hidden danger inside of him which rears its head occassinally. There are so many layers to his character that you will not get it the first time around. Pacino is at one of the many peaks in his career in this film and its incredible to watch him do what he does.
The direction is fantastic as well. Coppola manages to keep the audience engaged over the entire epic 3 hours of run time with brilliant lighting and beautiful honeyed tones as well the darker shadowy moments in which nothing is certain. He captures the harshness in both the daytime and the night equally. Just the fact that he took on such an amazing project is kudos enough, that it worked is even better.
However, as I mentioned, it is 3 hours long, and often there are slow, very slow, moments. But hang in there and you'll be rewarded with having seen one incredible film.
Francis Ford Coppola's stylised, almost mystical, representation of the American Mafia is a timeless piece of cinema, the likes of which you'll only see every fifty years. Filled with amazing set piece after amazing set piece, if you haven't seen it yet, DO IT NOW!
What, are you kidding? The now immortalised horse's head scene. It'll get you everytime.
"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."
"Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my father assured him that either his signature or his brains would be on the contract"
" If you'd come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you."
"Fredo, you're my older brother and I love you, but don't ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever."