The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Based on Stephen King’s short story “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, Frank Darabont wrote the screenplay and directed this film, which at times reminds us (intentionally) of “The Count of Monte Cristo”. What makes this film so brilliant is not only the writing, but the chemistry between Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman (the rest of the cast also did a wonderful job!). King is one of the best writers in the world, his best adaptations are always done by great directors. “The Shining” was brilliantly interpreted by Kubrick and of course “Misery” and “Stand By Me” are both by Rob Reiner. Then Frank Darabont comes onto the scene and makes arguably the best King film ever. (Btw. the movie was nominated for 7 Oscars, but didn’t win one. Forrest Gump was the big winner that year.)
Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, is a young and successful banker whose life changes drastically when he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the alleged murder of his wife and her lover. Set in the 1940’s till the 1960’s, the film shows how Andy, with the help of his friend Red, played by Freeman, lives the prison life - we see the good and bad sides, corruption, injustice, friendship and more, basically a movie about two imprisoned men, who bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. After the jail director discovers Andy’s talent, he wants him to work for him and take care of his finances. But then Andy finds out, who really killed his wife, and wants to get out of jail (after serving 20 years innocently), so he plans his jailbreak.
A serial killer brutally slays and dismembers several gay men in New York’s S&M and leather districts. The young police officer Steve Burns (Al Pacino) is sent undercover onto the streets as decoy for the murderer. Working almost completely isolated from his department, he has to learn and practice the complex rules and signals of this little society. While barely seeing his girlfriend Nancy anymore, the work starts changing him.
Based on Gerald Walker’s novel, director William Friedkin, in my opinion, adapted the book in a mysterious way. We get to observe the “underground gay scene” in New York City of the 80s, where we are confronted with it’s sexy secretes, it’s danger and crazy fantasy’s. Steve Burns, played by Pacino, takes this case, to find the killer who has gay victims only. This movie definitely deserved its R-rating, we get to see a couple of lavish sex scenes. The homosexuals in this film are, to a man, deviants who all hang out in clubs having anonymous sex with multiple partners in clubs and parks - a few unnecessary cliches. But the film is also about the consequences of homophobia, i.e. social conditions that lead to terrible police brutality, self hate and murder. Pacino did a great job, even though he unfortunately didn’t get to do, what we know he’s capable of. Also he was mad because they cut his acting (some scenes) because of protests.
A movie that is funny, interesting, educational and romantic. “I Phone You” is a German/Chinese production directed by Dan Tang, written by Wolfgang Kohlhaase, and tells us about a young Chinese woman “Ling Ling”, played by Yiyan Jiang, who falls in love with a Chinese man Yu Guanhao, who is living in Germany. After leaving her, Yu gives her a an iPhone, so they can stay in contact. But one day, she decides to travel to Berlin and visit the guy, who actually is married and has children. He wants her to go back to China and tells his German “bodyguard” Marco, played by Florian Lukas, to take care of her. Of course Ling Ling, doesn’t want to leave before meeting Yu, who she thinks is her boyfriend, and runs away from Lucas, to then learn what it means to be lost in a big city like Berlin.
Gus Van Sant, Josh Brolin and Sean Penn on the set of “Milk” (2008)
A film by Tony Richardson, based on John Irving’s novel. Starring Rob Lowe, Jodie Foster, Paul McCrane, Beau Bridges, Lisa Banes, Jennifer Dundas, a young Seth Green and Nastassja Kinski. The film talks about a family that weathers all sorts of disasters and keeps going in spite of it all, and has a wonderful assortment of oddball characters.
I must say I’m surprised by the unfavorable reviews. When I watched this for the first time, I loved it for the very reasons that some people seem to hate it. It was deliciously weird. Our heroes are in an incestuous relationship, and the movie is uncritical of this. That gets the brain working from the start. Then you discover the other bizarre characters/family members, who deal with topics like rape, death, incest, fame, prostitution, hotels, Dr. Freud, politics and more - and the movie becomes extremely lovable. Also the writing is exquisite. Admittedly, Rob Lowe’s acting isn’t up to much, but there’s great work, as usual, from Jodie Foster to compensate. To top it off “The Hotel New Hampshire” achieves great effect without being overly sentimental, which is rare. And remember, keep on passing open windows!
John Travolta and Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
Directed by Mel Brooks, starring Cary Elwes (plays Robin Hood), Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Mark Blankfield and Dave Chappelle. A spoof of Robin Hood in general, and ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ in particular.
The standard story of Robin Hood: Evil Prince John is oppressing the people while good King Richard is away on the Crusades. Robin steals from the tax collectors, wins an archery contest, defeats the Sheriff, and rescues Maid Marian. In this version, however, Mel Brooks adds his own personal touch, parodying traditional adventure films, romance films, and the whole idea of men running around the woods in tights.