Friday, February 26, 2010

# 8 - The Sting

**Part of an ongoing series of reviews of my top ten favorite movies**

Winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1973, The Sting is a movie packed with intrigue, suspense, humor, a little action and a whole lot of snappy dialogue. With Robert Redford and Paul Newman (along with a host of other terrific talent), one of the greatest caper movies ever made begins.

Robert Redford and Paul Newman have terrific chemistry onscreen here, and it's really a pleasure to watch the two con men interact with quips, barbs and verbal abuse in such a witty and fun way. Robert Shaw also puts on a terrific show as Doyle Lonnegan, a big-time Irish racketeering boss in Chicago, and Robert Earl Jones does a fantastic job as a retired grifter and con artist. There's a dozen more notable talent at work here, and every one of them does a amazing job. Everyone is a seasoned actor, and it is nothing less than pure fun to watch the cast do what they do best here. 10/10 for a brilliant cast.

The Sting, while being extremely entertaining, is certainly not a simple movie. There's multiple plot twists and few giveaways to warn you of whats coming, and that makes it even more fun to watch. The final plot twist at the end of the film still makes me smile every time I see it. Terrific writing and scripting.

The Sting has several of the same qualities that make The Truman Show so enjoyable; a fantastic cast, smart writing and a whole lot of humor. This film is by far one of the most clever and playful films to ever be made; its plain that the cast and crew had a lot of fun filming it, and that's what makes it such a joy to watch. It's a simple formula, but one that doesnt seem that easy to make work. However, when a movie like The Sting pulls it off, the result is one of the most entertaining and clever movies to ever be made.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

# 9 - The Truman Show

**Part of an ongoing series of reviews of my top ten favorite movies**

The Truman Show is by far one of my favorite movies, and for a number of reasons. I believe it to be one of the most clever and brilliant movies made in recent memory; the sheer number of clever moments, some obvious and some requiring multiple viewings, are staggering. Jim Carrey is at his finest here, mixing both the serious and his completely unique brand of humor for a terrific and highly entertaining performance. This is a film that is both highly entertaining, funny, serious and thought-provoking at the same time, which is a combination things that most movies can rarely pull off with good results. This movie not only combines them effectively, it combines them perfectly, with amazing results.

First off, Jim Carrey really gives a stellar performance here; funny and serious in the way that only he can do. There are some laugh out loud moments, as well as many more subtle and clever moments of humor, and also some very emotional and poignant moments. The rest of the cast, particularly Ed Harris, all give terrific performances. Excellent job on all parts of the cast.

The big draw for me here is simply the writing. There's no special effects, no amazing or unorthodox camera shots, no ultra-violence or anything shocking. The real strength is simply the brilliant writing. When viewed several times, little things start to become more obvious to the viewer, to reflect how Truman is slowly becoming more aware of the circumstances of his life. I oftentimes find myself watching the background action of scenes to see whats going on, and there's some interesting things that happen if close attention is payed.

The music is superb and completely fits the feel of the film; quirky but also complementing the feel of the scene at hand. Two thumbs up for the score.

In summary, this is a clever, witty, funny and moving film, and by far the best movie Jim Carrey has ever acted in, and certainly one of the (if not his) best acting jobs he's done. I've watched this movie countless times (I can quote 90% of the dialogue) and every single time I notice something I didn't notice before, and every time I enjoy it just as much as the last time, if not more. A stellar cast, a brilliant script and excellent score make this #9 on my Top Ten movies list.

Friday, February 19, 2010

#10 - Castaway

**Part of an ongoing series of reviews of my top ten favorite movies**

My countdown begins with Castaway, which in my opinion may be the finest movie that Tom Hanks ever acted in. Castaway does not rely on special effects, gratuitous sex scenes, violence or controversial topics to be a compelling and powerful film. Instead, nearly the entire movie is carried, with hardly a word of dialogue or music, by what I wouldn't hesitate to call one of the greatest acting performances in recent times.

Tom Hanks is obviously the major talent here, and here he really proves that he is one of the greatest actors of all time. While the opening and closing sequences of the film do contain conversation and dialogue, the vast majority of the film goes unspoken and in doing so portrays the struggles of a lone man surviving (at times against his will) on a deserted island, and the emotional, physical and psychological tolls it has on a person. The performance here is nothing less than powerful, with Tom Hanks showing a man going from in-charge to being at the mercy of nature, from confident to suicidal, from being a calculating businessman to going slightly insane, and from being in love to having his emotions completely shattered. I've seen few actors put on a performance of this caliber.

The cinematography, while simple, is very effective, consisting of fairly normal, but very effective shots. A feeling of desolation is almost tangible throughout the film, partly due to the lack of a musical score; most of the sound is the ambiance of a deserted island.

The format for this film is simple and nothing groundbreaking, and the story is one that's been done before many times; so why is this on my Top Ten list? In a word, the acting. Very few movies can be carried by (mostly) one actor, and to do so takes an enormous amount of talent; Tom Hanks delivered that and much, much more. As I said above, this is one of THE acting performances of recent times, if not of all time. The emotion shown is tangible and in places heartbreaking, and at other times uplifting and hopeful. For a thought-provoking, powerfully acted movie, I recommend my #10 Top Ten Movie, Castaway.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Tolkien Study

For nearly 10 years now, I've been studying the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. My interest was piqued after i saw The Fellowship of the Ring in theaters, and I've been reading Tolkien ever since. I've read nearly everything he wrote and am in the process of acquiring more of his books. Soon, I'll be beginning a series of blog posts on his works and my thoughts on them. Comments for discussion, rebuttal, etc are more than welcome.

Books I've recently acquired:

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Ten Movie Countdown

I'm going to begin a series of movie reviews which comprise my Top Ten Movies of All Time (with an honourable mention section.) Most will be from the early 90s onward; most of the honourable mentions will be older films. Stay tuned, as the first installment will be coming shortly...