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Paul Scollon

Ireland
Loves watching horror and science fiction, sampling whiskies and spending as much time as possible with his wife and dog. Order varies...
25 points
5 Films Loved
0 Films Hated
John Wick
John Wick will kick your ass, and then some!
John Wick
over 7 years ago

Wow, this was a massive surprise. "John Wick" is non-stop Gun-Fu action movie in which Keanu Reeves is actually really good and you really care what happens his character. I know this sounds crazy, but trust me on this, I've watch it and you probably have not... but you should!

John Wick is a legend - a ghost story mobsters tell their children to put the fear of God into them. If John Wick is coming after you, you are in SERIOUS trouble. He make Leon look like a kitten. So it's a good job he's been retired for the last 5 years, right?

But hold on, the local Russian Kingpin's son (played to maximum spoiltness by Game of Thrones actor Alfie Allen) decides it is a good idea to kill John Wick's puppy (all he has left after his wife dies) AND steel his classic car. This forces John Wick out of "retirement", basically so he can retire EVERYONE else.

The movie is directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. The cast is excellent with the likes of Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, and Willem Dafoe all making appearances and dodgy sorts either trying to assist Reeves, or trying to dispatch him.

There is major influence's here from John Woo and numerous Anime movies, as well as Spaghetti Westerns and other sub-genres. I had watched Reeves' other recent movie "47 Ronin" recently, I must say I enjoyed this more. If you want minimum plot, maximum action, check this one out.

Coolest thing about the movie? For me it has to be the "Hotel for Assassins" which is central to the plot, with Fringe's Lance Reddick at the front desk. Fantastic.

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Vertigo
Vertigo
Vertigo
over 7 years ago

In Vertigo, a retired San Francisco detective (James Stewart) suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's much-younger wife (Kim Novak), all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her.

Most of Alfred Hitchcock's movies feature someone suffering from some kind of psychosis, most often manifesting in some form of obsession. Be it Rebecca's subplot about the maid's fixation on her master or Norman Bates' mother complex in "Psycho", the engine of the plot comes down to someone being unable to let go of a moment in his or her past, either romantic or familial or occasionally both (see also "Marnie" for an example of this). This movie is cut from similar cloth but is notably different for the fact that this time around, it is the hero who has the disorder and not the villain.

James Stewart plays John Ferguson, known as 'Scottie' to his friends. Scottie is a celebrated member of the San Francisco Police Department until a sudden case of acrophobia leaves him unable to save a fellow officer in peril. Rather than ride a desk until this condition passes (if it ever does), Scottie quietly retires, determined to lick the problem all on his own. What he doesn't figure for is the re-emergence of Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), a college chum with a private matter he feels Scottie can help with. Elster believes his wife, Madeleine (Novak), has been possessed by the spirit of an ancestor whose tragic life was cut short by suicide. Fearing that Madeleine will go the same route, he puts Scottie on her tail. After rescuing the woman from drowning, Scottie and Madeleine fall in love.

Naturally, things end up getting way more complicated. Scottie's attempts to help do more harm than good, and his own mental condition gets in the way of helping Madeleine solve hers. It's here where Vertigo takes a real turn into the strange. What other detective story can you think of where the hero suffers a nervous breakdown and is committed to a hospital? Upon his release, Scottie meets Judy (Novak again), a dead ringer for Madeleine, and he becomes obsessed with her, going so far as to try to make her over to match his lost love in every way.

While not one of my own favourite Hitchcock movies, it is a good watch. Of particular interest is the psychedelic dream sequence where Scottie's nightmare forces him to relive the tragedy of Madeleine, but refracted through his acrophobia. This short lapse into the surreal gives the hero all of the clues he needs to solve the mystery, but cracking the code may require some additional madness!

Unlike a conventional thriller where we find satisfaction in a heroic end, Vertigo exits on a note of confusion. The lesson I suppose is that there are no easy answers, the truth is possibly a lie, and wrongs aren't righted. However, in a film about obsession, identity, and the mental tricks we play on each other and on ourselves, Vertigo is indeed a thrilling, challenging drama. James Stewart is amazing as usual, Kim Novak is beautiful, and Hitchcock really makes San Francisco come alive. Worth a watch or two!

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Rear Window
You like to watch, don't you?
Rear Window
over 7 years ago

In Rear Window, a wheelchair bound photographer (James Stewart) spies on his neighbours from his apartment window as a way of passing the time until the cast on his leg is removed. However, he becomes convinced one of them has committed a murder and needs to convince all around him, including girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), that he wasn't just imagining it.

The story is a brilliant, macabre, visual study of obsessive human curiosity and voyeurism. John Michael Hayes' screenplay was based on Cornell Woolrich's original 1942 short story or novelette, 'It Had to Be Murder'. It was made entirely on one confined set built at Paramount Studios - a realistic courtyard composed of 32 apartments (12 completely furnished) - at a non-existent address in Manhattan.

Each of the tenants of the other apartments offer an observant comment of marriage and a complete survey of male/female relationships (all the way from honeymooners to a murderous spouse), as the main character watches (spies) through his 'rear window' on them with a long camera lense, while considering weather or not to get married himself. Remarkably, all the camera angles are largely from Jame Stewart's own apartment, so the viewer sees the inhabitants of the other apartments almost entirely from his point of view - to share in his voyeuristic surveillance, I assume.

The suspense in this movie just builds and builds, as the city gets hotter and hotter and the murderer gets closer and closer to getting away with it. It is widely regarded as Hitchcock's finest hour, thanks to its heady mix of suspense and mystery coupled with some outstanding acting. Comedy relief comes courtesy of the very dry humour from Stewart's nurse, Thelma Ritter (another great performance).

Someone once said the reason high definition was invented was Grace Kelly, and nowhere is it more obvious than in this movie (if watching on blu-ray, that is). She really does have a face for the big screen, and her entrance into this movie through a blearly eyed James Stewart waking up from a nap as she leans in close, is truely memorable (she is just as stunning and glamorous in other Hitchcock movies "To Catch a Thief" and "Dial M for Murder").

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The Man Who Knew Too Much
Whatever will be, will be...
The Man Who Knew Too Much
over 7 years ago

The debate still rages as to whether Hitchcock's 1956 remake is superior to his own original 1934 version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much", in which a perfectly ordinary American couple on holiday in Morrocco (not Switzerland like in the original) suddenly find themselves embroiled in a case of international intrigue when their son is kidnapped by spies plotting a political assassination.

The thrills and spills are not as obvious in this version as in the 1934 version (starring Leslie Banks, Edna Best and the wonderful Peter Lorre) but it does however wrap up the politics, ideals and attitudes of the 1950s in one box, tie a bow around it, and then smash you over the head with it. James Stewart is fabulous as usual and Doris Day's character is a well-known, now retired, professional singer. The now famous song "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" was commissioned especially to use Day's singing abilities in the movie (the song reached number two on the U.S. pop charts and number one in the UK. that same year).

This movie is considered lightweight entertainment compared to Hitch's other edge-of-your-seat thrillers. The slow pace of the movie in the early stages might be attributable to Hitchcock's love of exotic locales and he takes ample time to photograph Morocco. The all-American couple of Dr. Ben McKenna (Stewart), his wife Jo Conway (Day) and thie son Hank (wasn't that a girl in the original?) are from Minneapolis. Not entirely comfortable being away from familiar territory, they become distraught once caught up in an international plot. They befriend a British couple, the Draytons who feign to be fellow tourists and end up double-crossing them. The McKenna family tries to pursue the conspiracy once they land back in London. This takes them to some backstreets and alleys in the British capital and eventually to the Royal Albert Hall, where the climax of the movie takes place.

The harrowing finale at the Royal Albert Hall comes with the clash of cymbals amidst the grandeur of the great edifice. Interesting trivia for fans - on the billboard outside the Albert Hall, we see the name of the director of the London Symphony, Bernard Hermann, who wrote the music for many of Hitchcock's greatest movies. This is to alert shrewd Hitchcock fans of his upcoming appearance in the finale!

While it's not considered one of the Top Five Hitchcock classics - Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest (my own favourite), Pyscho and Rebecca - it surely has got to be in there at number 6 or 7, and definitely in the Top 10

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Sex, drugs and rock n' roll... and homework...
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
over 7 years ago

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age teen comedy film written by Cameron Crowe (director of "Almost Famous") adapted from his 1981 book of the same name. As a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine, Crowe went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California, and wrote about his experiences. Those experiences became the basis for what you see here. For director, they picked a young Amy Heckerling, who would go on to direct iconic movies of the late 80s like "Look Who’s Talking" and "Clueless". She was hired to direct based purely on her thesis film (about a 19-year-old girl trying to lose her virginity before she turns 20 - kind of similar to the movie's plot). Before Heckerling he studio had approached none other than David Lynch, who turned it down. Has he accepted the following review would no doubt be a completely different conversation!

"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" is on the face of it a fast-paced film with it's share of funny scenes (the interaction between rebel Sean Penn and angry Mr.Hand are fantastic), but it also takes time to sensitively handle many of the tough issues teens face like abortion, trust, abandonment and sexual fears are all dealt with fairly and believably.

Just like "American Graffiti", you not only will see a timeless classic, but you will also see the breeding ground for many of today's greatest actors. Sean Penn, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Forrest Whitaker all appeared in this film in the early stages of their careers. Even Oscar winner Nicolas Cage (appearing under his real surname of Copolla) was in this film, though in a very small role. This film was a glimpse into the future of some of the actors who would become major stars in film and television.

Although he's not on screen all the time, the real star of this movie has to Sean Penn, as complete stoner and self confessed "surf nazi" Jeff Spicoli. As a kind of protype for characters like Bill and Ted later on that decade, Penn totally nails it as the kind of guy who somehow just swans on through and makes it based on luck alone, but is just too stupid to realise. Apparently he stayed in character throughout shooting, which must have got very irritating eventually.

The other big star is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who even though she was 20 at the time, played a very convincing 15 year old trying to lose her virginity and going about it the wrong way altogether. The story of the movie is really hers if it has to belong to anybody, and you do empathise with her character throughout.

Notable mention goes to Phoebe Cates' red swimsuit, which get's Judge Reinhold so worked up in one scene he needs to visit the bathroom for some, um, relief, before being walked in on by the object of his desire in what can only be an early example of the kind of stupid humour employed in American Pie and other terrible movies of the early 90s.

I think the best thing about this film is that it's not too stereotypically Californian or even American. It could have been set anywhere in the world and still have been just as accurate. It has also held up quite well after over 30 years. Not only an essential movie for anyone who considers themeselves a scholar of 80s Americana, but an essential movie for anyone who considers themselves American (even though I myself am not).

Watch it, and let me know if you are as equally convinced as me that Ridgemont High doubles up as Hill Valley High in that other essential movie 3 years later, "Back to the Future" in which, co-incidently, Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly!

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