Monday, 18 December 2017

My Left Foot (1989)

Yes, I know what you're thinking, and yes I am on a Daniel Day-Lewis marathon. Believe it or not but I actually never heard of My Left Foot until about 5 months ago or so, and back then I thought "huh, that's a funny movie title.". I never gave it much thought after that until I went ahead and bought every movie Day-Lewis starred in, and yes that's why I'm always broke. Anyways, with Toto playing in the background, let's get on with this, shall we? My Left Foot is a biographical drama about Irish artist and author Christy Brown, who suffered from cerebral palsy.

Born into a working class family with a total of thirteen children, Christy suffered from a severe case of cerebral palsy and what deemed "useless" by his father. His mother (Brenda Fricker) on the other hand never gave up hope on him and cared for him to make life seem as normal as possible for him. It wasn't until at the age of ten years that his parents and siblings discover that he had complete control of his left foot when he wrote the word "mother" on the floor of their house with a piece of chalk.

The movie kicks off and we see Christy attending a charity event on his wheelchair, he is then taken in by a nurse named Mary Carr, who cares for him until they call him up to the podium. She picks up his book, titled My Left Foot, and autobiography of Christy's life and begins to read it, the movie then utilizes flashbacks to show us how Christy got to this point in his life.

I would like a take a moment of your time to ask to clap your hands until you can't clap anymore. Done? Okay, let's move on. This film deserves a round of applause before the opening credits start to roll. But why Ahmed? Could you please justify why I now need a pack of ice to soothe my aching palms? To put it simply, because of how mind-blowingly good this movie is. Very few movies have impacted me and further refined my taste in motion pictures, but every once in a while I sit through a movie and come out just a tad bit different than I was. My Left Foot inspired me, here I saw a man who broke the barriers of his overwhelming disability and followed his dreams and ambitions. It's a heartwarming matter that was conveyed to us in the form of an uplifting and outstanding motion picture. 

There were times while I watching the film where I found myself pausing it multiple times, and taking a moment to absorb Daniel Day-Lewis' exceptional performance as Christy Brown. Day-Lewis blew me into next week with his acting, I've never seen an actor that deconstructs and penetrates the very fabric of the characters he's playing as well as he does. He makes you believe that he's the actual person. In preparation for this role, he spent eight weeks in a cerebral palsy clinic, learned to write and paint using his left foot, and used a wheelchair for the duration of the shoot. His extraordinary attention to detail and dedication to the role make him a method acting genius. Without an ounce of exaggeration, I believe he is the greatest actor who ever lived. He adds tension when needed and utilized his body language to express his feelings and emotions couldn't talk properly, all done of course in a flawless manner. I really got to know Christy Brown, his determination, his struggle for love, and his inner demons. Bravo, sir, Bravo. 

To sum up, My Left Foot is a complete powerhouse, it uses raw and honest acting to draw its audience in. We live in a time where the movie industry focuses on battle sequences and cheap laughs to keep the viewer interested, and while some may find this to be "awesome", I for one, am not a big fan.

Ahmed J. Almatrook 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

In The Name of the Father (1993)

What is a good movie? The reason I ask is that is because I believe that the phrase "good movie" has been diluted so much over the years. People nowadays will tell you that any Marvel movie is good, or that The Fast and The Furious 7 was good. Sure these movies pack a punch with enough one-liners, gags, and over the top CGI and explosions to satisfy everyone, but since when has the standard been set so low? A lot of people just don't appreciate movies anymore, it seems to me that TV shows nowadays are doing what movies did back in the day. TV shows right now are excellent, they're thought provoking, witty, filled with social commentary, and the actors deliver fantastic performances. That being said, there are a lot of brilliant movies being released nowadays, there's no denying that, but I just feel like they're being overlooked by moviegoers for more "enjoyable" films.

After watching A Time to Kill for the millionth time on TV, a fire inside me was re-ignited, all of a sudden I found myself wanting to watch every courtroom drama movie I could get my hands on. Courtroom drama, a genre that I dismissed for a long time on the basis of it being "boring", was suddenly my biggest interest. See I go through phases when it comes to watching movies and I gotta say that I'm enjoying this phase very much.


In The Name of the Father was a biographical film released in 1993 starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Right off the bat, it's Daniel Day-Lewis, so you know that you're gonna be in for a treat. A Northern Irish man and his son are wrongfully imprisoned for a bombing that they had nothing to do with, the movie follows their struggle for freedom, justice, and life with each other in prison.

How could anyone argue with a movie that starts off with a riot and Voodoo Child playing in the background? That has to be one of the best openings I've seen in a movie, Irish people throwing bricks at security forces, who could beat that? After getting in trouble with the IRA, Gerry moves to London and seeks "Free love and dope". A stroke of luck hits him and we winds up robbing a hooker's apartment and returns to Belfast to show off his newfound "wealth", but all hell breaks loose when the police raid his house and accuse him of bombing a pub in Guildford.

First time watching the movie I really didn't know what to expect, I was ready to chalk it down as just another courtroom drama, but as I got into it I realized that it is much much deeper than that. The character development is insane, for a movie that's just over two hours long I got to see Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) grow from a free-spirited young adult to a mature and passionate man in such detail, with certain events occurring throughout the film that makes him grow ever so slightly until he becomes a totally different person from the one see in the beginning of the film. Character development isn't an easy thing in movies, as opposed to TV shows, but it sure as hell is satisfying when movies get it right. The relationship between father and son is a concept that's is definitely highlighted, Gerry and his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwait) went through so much as father and son in terms of their relationship and the discrimination they faced with the public. Although we can tell that Gerry is very critical of his father at first, he never stopped loving him, and eventually, we see that Gerry more or less becomes the same person his dad was.

Daniel Day-Lewis carried this film on his shoulders so effortlessly and with such passion. He lost over 50 pounds for the role and maintained his Northern Irish accent on and off set, plus he lived in a jail cell for 3 days. I can't really tell if his accent was good or not because I'm not Irish but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that he did a good job. He's such a skilled actor that really gets into the very bones of every character he's portraying and delivers a stellar performance every time. Emma Thompson and Pete Postlethwait delivered powerful performances as Gareth Peirce and Giuseppe Conlon respectively. Although Emma Thompson's character didn't really make an appearance until the middle to the end of the film, she still managed to make an impact. But what really made this movie stand out was the chemistry between all the actors, especially Day-Lewis and Postlethwait.

In the Name of the Father did a fantastic job conveying to its audience the oppressive nature of the real-life case of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven. The interrogation/confession scenes alone were graphic and detailed enough that it made me uncomfortable at times. It really shows the audience how the people of Northern Ireland were oppressed and discriminated against. It also details how corrupt and deceptive the police were at the time, going to great lengths to hide evidence and torture them into signing a confession just because they were under enormous public pressure to apprehend the bombers.

To conclude, In the Name of the Father is a heartfelt portrayal of real life people in their quest for love, peace, and freedom. A classic worthy of watching a thousand times over, emotional, witty, and thought-provoking; and it has a brilliant soundtrack (Yah man!). It ticks all the right boxes and the cast and crew did an outstanding job in bringing this biography to life. In a world where people just want a movie "fix", In the Name of the Father is worthy of calling a shining beacon of hope to re-ignite the younger generation's interest in real, undiluted cinema. I've thoroughly enjoyed this movie from beginning to end and I doubt that anyone will have anything bad to say about it because it's just that good. I would advise you to turn on the subtitles because of the thick Northern Irish accents, it can be a bit hard to understand what they're saying at times, but other than that, go and enjoy it.

The real life Giuseppe and Gerry Conlon
"I'm a free man and I'm going out the front door"

Ahmed J. Almatrook 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM) was never meant to be a horror movie. Director Tobe Hooper was actually aiming for it to be a dark comedy movie with very little elements of horror, as I stated in my review of the original. Keen eyes will spot humor in the original, albeit very dark, but still humor. Now, I've been known to give TCM's sequels a lot of slack, but I always maintained the fact that part 2 is very watchable. Released in 1986 under the direction of original director Tobe Hooper and starring Dennis Hopper (I know), as well Jim Siedow, who's the only returning character from the original; he reprised his role as Drayton Sawyer. Siedow excelled in this movie.

Reviewing this movie is an absolute nightmare, because its status changes depending on the perspective I approach it with. If I look at it as a sequel to the original, it's absolutely horrible, a true shitshow. But, if I look at it as a standalone movie, it's actually pretty fun to watch, but not worthy of the TCM title. So we're at a crossroad here, how would I approach it? Both ways, this is gonna be a first for this blog, I'll approach it first as a sequel, then as standalone film. 


If I could do a seven word review of this film, it'll look something like this: TOTAL PIECE OF SHIT DON'T WATCH IT. But I don't roll like that, we're not fucking animals, we live in a society. It's sad to think that Tobe Hooper's vision of the original looked something like what we got in this film, thank god for budget cuts. The silent, gritty, morbid feeling of the original is completely destroyed and replaced with dancing corpses, an actual soundtrack, and a total butchery of Leatherface's character. 

What were they thinking? TCM is not supposed to be bright lights and music, it's not supposed to be Leatherface doing that stupid dance of his and dry humping a disk jockey. Whatever happened to the seriousness of the previous film? They could've done so much with a budget of $5 million, but for some reason Hooper wanted to build up on his original concept of a dark comedy. Haven't you heard of happy accidents? Not the ones that come after 9 months, but like vulcanized rubber? Seriously, this guy had a powerhouse in his hands. It would've been nice to have seen a direct sequel to the movie, as the ending of the original was kinda vague. That would've been cool, only that came to us 39 years later in the form of Texas Chainsaw 3D. Serendipity dude, serendipity. 

The fact of the matter is, Hooper wanted to expanded on subtleties found in the first movie. Leatherface, who's mentally impaired in the first movie, went full retard in this one, and everyone knows you can never go full retard. The dark humor and uncomfortable setting were still present in part 2, but they were super evident and felt kinda forced down the viewers throat. Like "HEY YOU MISSED THIS IN THE FIRST FILM? WELL LET ME MAKE IT SUPER OBVIOUS FOR YOU BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I WAS AIMING FOR!". Subtlety was not so high on Hooper's list in this movie, it seemed like he was trying to change the idea that the viewers had of the original. A child can watch this movie, really, a child.

Finally, what was Dennis Hopper thinking? YOU WERE IN EASY RIDER, MAN, COME ON!!! 

In case you couldn't figure out that he was an
absolute idiot, we gave him a funny looking
face to help you.


I really appreciate dark comedy. It's bold, ballsy, and doesn't give a crap about anyone or anything. TCM 2 does not lack that, it is one of the best comedies I've ever seen. Once you get over the fact that it's categorized as a horror flick, and start accepting it for its comedic value, you'll be in for a treat. I used to loathe it, I was ashamed of owning it, but that all changed. It is hard to to have multiple mindsets when watching a movie, and usually first impression is the best impression, but of course that's not always the case. For a long time I've hated many movies (and bands), but in time I started appreciating them, a good example being Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. 

This film is somewhat a parody film, like scary movie. It was released in 1986, and it obviously parodies the excess that was associated with the 80's. The original poster of the film hilariously mocks The Breakfast Club's poster. The whole movie was the definition of excess, with over the top characters, stunts, music, and gore. I really enjoyed that because who doesn't love a good parody film.

The man who stole the show, without a doubt, was Bill Moseley as Leatherface's brother, Chop Top. That guy is one of my all time favorite characters in any movie, he did a great job carrying the film. A severely wounded Vietnam War veteran turned major hippie. We first see Chop Top at the radio station talking to Stretch, putting in a request for a song and talking about how he is a "far out fan". Moseley perfected the role, Chop Top (in this film) was more of an icon in that film than Leatherface. A maniac who gleefully murders his victims and listens to Iron Butterfly, far out man!

The final battle scene between Lefty and Leatherface was nothing short of epic. Two guys battling it out with chainsaws and grenades, how can anyone hate that? TCM 2 is a pure gore-fest, and although I've been known to have my reservations on gorey movies, it's good to appreciate a good gore-fest from time to time. I only hate gore-fests when they're used in a context to scare people, because it's really not creative and quite boring, but that wasn't the case with this movie.

To conclude, from whatever perspective you chose to watch this movie with, you will find a way to appreciate it. TCM 2 is a really good movie in it's own right, just don't put it side by side with the original. It is a classic midnight popcorn flick that's worth watching and won't really ruin your night, so long as you ignore Leatherface's stupid dance. But beware, I was a lenient on this film because it started to grow on me, the movies that came after it though, total fucking horseshit. I will not even attempt to review the atrocities that came after it, because they're exactly what I said they were, atrocities.

"Can you play Inna Gadda Da Vida?"

Ahmed J, Almatrook 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Let's talk horror shall we, or rather, let's discuss the declining history of horror movies in general. Back in the 1910's and 20's, the first horror flicks came from Germany. German expressionist films they were called and produced classics like F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu and Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari. Not to mention The Phantom of the Opera, the silent classic. Then came the 30's and 40's, dominated by the Universal Studios monster films such as Dracula and Frankenstein. The 50's saw Christopher Lee command the screens in with his portrayal of Dracula in the Hammer Horror Films. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was synonymous with the 60's horror scene and it's often considered to be one of the first movies in the slasher genre. Let's not forget to mention Romero's Night of The Living Dead, the grandaddy of modern zombie movies.

The 70's was the best time for horror movies, the world saw a slew of fresh and frightening releases like The Exorcist, The Omen, Audrey Rose, and The Sentinel. Movies that dealt with the supernatural were a big hit in the 70's, which also seems to be the trend nowadays. The 80's of course produced some of the greatest slasher flicks out there like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare On Elm Street. This renewed interest in the slasher genre seeped into the 90's with sequels to the aforementioned movies. But they were nowhere near as good as the originals, the 90's and 2000's were dark days for horror genre. With the exception of Silence of the Lambs and The Blair Witch Project, every horror movie made in the last 20 years was pure butchery of the genre.

Horror movies have been reduced to nothing but gore fests, jump scares, and paranormal entities. The charm that classics like The Shining and Rosemary's Baby faded away. Horror movies aren't as well thought out as they used to be, and the biggest evidence of this is the amount of remakes and reboots being released. Horror movies are like Heavy Metal, not given nearly as much respect as they deserve, thrived in the 70's and 80's, but became a parody of what they used to be in recent days.

More often than not, whenever I mention The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM) to anyone, they always say they've watched the 2003 version, no one ever mentions the 1974 one, That's very sad, because to me, that movie is the quintessential horror flick, the movie that revitalized the slasher genre and never looked back. Released in 1974 and directed by Tobe Hooper, TCM is about a group of young adults travelling through Texas, when their van runs out of gas, they venture into the desert, not knowing what awaits them inside the lonesome house in the distance.

It's quite ironic that despite the name, the movie isn't a gore fest whatsoever, in fact there isn't much blood at all. Come to think of it, there isn't any music either, nothing to extenuate the fright factor in the movie. Nor was it as complex as other horror films at the time, quite hilariously, director Tobe Hooper was hoping to get a PG-13 rating because he approached it as a black comedy rather than a horror flick. But what really made TCM stand out were its shortcomings. The budget, the grainy camera work, and the difficulty during production all contributed to the charm this movie possessed. I mean how can you argue with a movie that starts off like this...

What makes TCM so special is the fact that it deals with the evil that dwells within the human mind, like Psycho, it is based on the story of the real life serial killer Ed Gein. It's frightening to know that the events in the movie could happen in real life, and they have happened. This is real, real life, not some Paranormal Activity moving chairs bullshit, people like this exist. Shot primarily in Texas, location played a huge role adding depth to the movie. Think about it, this arid landscape in the middle of Texas, with no one to help you and, dare I say, no one to hear you scream. The landscape adds a dryness to the whole experience, sort of like an itchy throat.  The location had me feeling uneasy and uncomfortable, not in a "oh this is disturbing" way, but rather like being in a sauna and wearing heavy winter gear. Location, location, location people.

The whole dryness of the movie is made more obvious by the raw and gritty camera work and use of very bright lights. The farmhouse in which the Sawyer family lived in was "decorated" with real animal bones and REAL blood. The chainsaw that Leatherface uses is real, and no special effects were applied when he moved it terrifyingly close to the face of one of the actors, it was all real. In the scene where Sally was "feeding" grandpa, they had to cut the actresses' index finger with a razor blade to get the blood flowing. The modest budget of the movie forced the production team to go to these extremes, and when production ended, most of the actors were physically injured.

Without an ounce of doubt, the star of TCM was, and always will be, Leatherface. The big baby, the retarded butcher, the pseudo cross-dresser. Leatherface, the man with a thousand faces (literally), is not only physically terrifying, but also an ambassador of sadism. He peels the skin off of his victims and uses it to make masks to cover his face with, if he only pursued a career in plastic surgery. His primary objective is to kill stranded victims who stumble into his house and slaughter them in order to feed his cannibalistic family. Leatherface is a true icon of horror, although he has appeared in all the sequels and remakes, none of the portrayals are anywhere near as good as Gunnar Hansen's "original" Leatherface.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre exploded into a huge franchise, with comics, action figures, remakes, and sequels. None of the later films were even close to possessing the charm of the original. In Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Leatherface has an entirely new family who's involved with aliens and the Illuminati, and they eat pizza instead of humans, WHAT THE FUCK. The original was raw, macabre, and bizarre, but the movies that followed were and absolute joke. It is a well known fact that horror movie sequels are almost never as good as the originals, but I have never seen a franchise so scarred by its sequels as much as TCM. The original is a masterpiece and a groundbreaking addition to the genre, it is my all time favorite horror movie, and for good reason. It took the low budget feel of B-Movies at the time and added some dark (very dark) humor, gritty realism, fucked up characters, and combined it all into one movie; a pure powerhouse combo.

To finish off, TCM is just fantastic, whether you're a horror movie fan or have a real fucked up sense of humor, this one's for you. To enhance your experience, try watching it in the hours of 1PM to 4PM, yeah it's not really a midnight movie in my opinion. Dark room in the afternoon is optimal. As for its sequels, the only "worthy" one would be TCM 2, although it was horrible by every meaning of the word, it did introduce us to one of the best characters ever shown in a movie, We will take an in depth look at TCM 2 soon enough, stick around for that.

"I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."

Ahmed J. Almatrook 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Schindler's List (1993)

I have seen them all, the best and the worst. From Citizen Kane to Interstellar and from that god awful movie The Notebook to Batman and Robin, I've seen movies in their most alluring and most hideous forms. There's no denying how much of a role movies play in our everyday lives, like music, they appeal to our emotions and continue to dazzle us with visual (auditory in music's case) and artistic creativity. There's a certain rank of movies, a certain echelon, that will instill themselves into your mind forever. Sometimes, one movie can change the way you look at motion pictures as a whole, in my case, that movie was Schindler's List.

It was 12 AM, I was wide awake (as usual), bored out of my head. I looked over to my DVD shelf and started scanning for a movie to watch. I had already watched Apocalypse Now (again) the night before, so the standard had already been set. Would you really wanna follow up Apocalypse Now with 500 Days of Summer? I don't think so. So I looked into the third row of my shelf, there, to the far right (ironic?) I saw it, Schindler's List. I picked it up and looked at the run time, 197 minutes! But I said "What the hell, I'll watch half now and half later", boy was I wrong.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Liam Neeson (Oskar Schindler), Ralph Fiennes (Amon Goth), and Ben Kingsley (Itzhak Stern), the story is set in World War II Nazi Poland, it tells us about a time in the life of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi spy turned Businessman. He builds an enamelware factory in the recently invaded city of Krakow in Poland, hiring mainly Polish Jews in his factory, because they cost less, which meant more profit for him. However, it becomes increasingly difficult for Schindler to keep his workers due to the fact that the Nazis were getting murdering more and more Jews in their concentration camps.

Schindler's List was shot in black and white, along with Spielberg's documentary-esque style of shooting, it really gave an accurate and grim feeling of WWII Nazi controlled Poland. It gives you a real sense of how life was like back then, morbid and terrifying, no color whatsoever. The girl in the red coat was the only color that the viewer and Schindler could see, which, although minor, was a very significant element in the movie. At first she is seen by Schindler running during the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto by the Nazis, she's then seen dead by Schindler again during the mass burning of the victims of the concentration camps (later in the movie). Let's explore that shall we? Everyone's interpretation of the color red is different, but here's mine. Red is the color of extremes, when Schindler first sees the girl, it shows that he's in awe, yet he doesn't comment and is unfazed by it. It is only when he sees her for the second time, dead in a wheelbarrow, he realizes that he should rethink his motives and his ideology.

Liam Neeson was nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal of Oskar Schindler. It might've been one of the best portrayals I've ever seen in a movie. We see Schindler grow from a party loving womanizer to a sympathetic soul in such great detail it blew me to next week. A charismatic man who influenced and charmed everyone around him, including the most ruthless of Nazi officers. At first, I saw a leech, motivated by profit. Little did I know that he would gradually develop into an exceptional individual who would go out of his way to save those less fortunate than him, a humanitarian by every meaning of the word.

Ralph Fiennes' portrayal of Untersturmfuhrer Amon Goth was also quite exceptional. Fiennes did a really good job in helping the viewer explore the character of Goth, the ruthless Nazi officer in charge of the Plaszow concentration camp. A sadistic killer with no regard for human life. Goth, in my opinion, provided some form of comedic relief for me, I don't know whether it was because of the accent or the fact that he wanted to grow old with his domestic helper. For me, Goth personified the savage nature of human beings, he broke every boundary without any remorse. Goth was Nazi Germany.

Itzhak Stern was another admirable character, although at first he seems quite unpleased about working with Schindler, he becomes more and more determined to employ Jews into the factory. As the film progresses, Schindler starts to really care for Stern, and although Stern was cold at first, they eventually become friends. The on screen chemistry between Neeson and Kingsley was fantastic. The complex character development was a distinguishing factor, so many characters were well developed, and none of them felt insignificant. I greatly appreciated that.

The film was shot on location is Krakow, Poland and sets were built to depict the Plaszow and Auschwitz concentration camps. Again, Spielberg's documentary style filming contributed enormously to bringing the sets to life. The 15 minute sequence of the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto has to be one of the most terrifying and brutal action sequences ever seen on film. It felt real, almost like I was there, witnessing the whole event, it's like someone dug up some found footage and put it in the movie. The music was composed by John Williams and the main theme features violinist Itzhak Perlman, who did a great job in capturing the film's depressing undertone. One piece of music which I particularly appreciated in the film was Gloomy Sunday a.k.a The Hungarian Suicide Song, which is as murky as crows resting on a telephone pole, it really added depth to the atmosphere of the whole film.

Schindler's List is a film that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Once you start watching you cannot stop, it sucks you in and doesn't let go until the credits start rolling. I genuinely have nothing negative to say about it, it's as close to perfection as it gets. A modern masterpiece that reminded me why I loved movies in the first place. Culturally and historically significant, it not only taps into the horrors and atrocities of WWII, it shows us that determination, strength, and honor are all but lost. I wept at the end, it was that emotional for me. It was the most complete, most well directed and acted movie I've seen in a long time. I'm not even gonna complain about the run time (197 mins) because I was so absorbed into the movie that I forgot about time itself, it's that fucking good. Definitely one of the movies you have to watch right now, drop everything and watch it, I promise you nothing but severe emotions and warmth on the inside.

"Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."

Ahmed J. Almatrook

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Metropolis Revisited

I'm baaaack! Yeah I know it's been a while, what can I say? College life is merciless. Anyways, I've been holding off this review for a while now, and although I haven't (re)watched Metropolis in over a year now ( I make it a point to watch it a several times a year), I can remember every detail of it. Because apparently, learning about Turbines and Aerofoils didn't override memory of this masterpiece.

Now, let's get a few things out of the way. First, I've been absent from the movie reviewing scene for a while mainly because of college, so sorry for not being as active as I used to be ( I was on my gap year back then, of course I'd be active). Second, I know that I've reviewed Metropolis already, about two years ago (damn.), all you old school fans know this. So why am I reviewing it again? Because the version I reviewed was the Giorgio Moroder version, which had a few nice colors added in as well as a modern soundtrack. At that time, I haven't seen the "complete" version of Metropolis along with the original soundtrack. I believe it is time to review the "real" thing. Lastly, do look forward to more movie reviews, I've got a pretty long break from college and I believe that now's the time to do what I do best. Just felt like I owed you fans that explanation.

Ah Metropolis, what can I say? It has a soft spot in my heart (not many movies earn that privilege), a masterpiece that sparked a cinematic revolution. Every Sci-Fi movie ever made is indebted to Metropolis. Had it not been for Fritz Lang, Sci- Fi wouldn't be the way it is today, or maybe, just maybe; not have existed at all (total exaggeration, because Murphy's Law). Set in the futuristic dystopian city of Metropolis, it tells the story of Freder (Gustav Frohlich), the son of the city's ruler, in his attempt to uncover the secrets of the city after seeing Maria (Brigitte Helm) giving a tour to a bunch of children showing them the lifestyle of the rich and wealthy who live above. Freder of course oblivious to the fact that the city is kept "alive" by workers who dwell in the bowels.

Talk about an "orderly fashion"
For me, the story is pretty basic, strip it off of it's futuristic look and effects, and you got yourself a pretty standard romantic movie (which as you may or may not know, I loathe). BUT, Metropolis' selling point is definitely not it's story. First and foremost, let's talk acting. One of the main reasons why I really take interest in silent movies is because the cast have a very tough job conveying emotions using expressions and body language. It is well known that if you wanna judge the performance of an actor/actress, try checking if they've done any silent movies. And the cast here weren't short of spectacular. Brigitte Helm gave an exceptional performance doubling as Maria and the Maschinenmensch (I totally did not copy and paste that), in fact her performance was so good, I had a hard time convincing myself that that wasn't done by two different actresses.

Breaking the fourth wall with that wink? 

Another factor that sets Metropolis apart is its set design. Bearing in mind that this movie was released in 1927, the set design is just phenomenal, attention to detail was overwhelming, and the sets really gave the movie a futuristic edge. From the Son's club to the Tower of Babel to Yoshiwara, right down to the worker's city, it is all bloody fantastic. The special effects were fucking brilliant, for a movie made in 1927, I must say that the special effects can compete with any modern movie out there. Everything was so convincing, and the fact that they accomplished this in 1927! Just watch out for the scene when the Maschinenmensch  transforms into evil Maria (One of my personal favorite scenes).

Let's take a second to talk about the Maschinenmensch, which by the way is the first robot ever shown on the big screen (where do you think C-3PO takes it's inspiration from?). With it's tantalizing splendor and beautifully scary expressionless face, the robot was definitely the star player in Metropolis, but it came to be with a bit of hardship. Apparently, the robot isn't made of metal, but rather of plastic wood, a new material at the time. it was molded to fit Brigitte Helm's body, but the mold was taken whilst she was standing up (very...clever), so it was very difficult for her to shoot whilst sitting down; this resulted in Helm getting cuts and bruises from wearing the robot suit. Moreover, the scene where Rotwang the Inventor introduces the robot to Joh Fredersen took 9 DAYS to shoot! But, was it worth it? Fuck yes.

I believe Rotwang was a Satanist
The score of the movie is played by an orchestra and they did a fantastic job highlighting the highs and the lows of the film, although a bit repetitive, the score was definitely the movie's backbone. A modern soundtrack was featured in the Moroder version of Metropolis, although I'm not a huge fan, it does put the film in a bit of a different perspective. What more can I say, a masterpiece in any way you look at it, Metropolis is the grandaddy of Sci-Fi, and fans all around world should be thankful to Fritz Lang for bringing us this magnum opus. Every time I watch it I notice something new, and I've watched it many times...many..times. But each time it inspires me and teaches me more about film making. For me, Metropolis is a "comfort movie", I can spend all day talking about it and its references, but I've yet to find someone to discuss it with, probably because everyone else lost interest. And that's a huge problem, moviegoers in Bahrain do not want to delve into the world of classic masterpieces, all they want is an action packed superhero movie (what has changed, eh?). But then again, I can't change the trend alone, so help me...please (ambitious as fuck).

It's a silent movie there are no quotes...

Ahmed J. Almatrook 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

I've never once expected that Straight Outta Compton (let's call it SOC) would be the movie that I would go out of my way to watch. I mean to be honest, I wasn't really anticipating it, I didn't even know about it until I watched the trailer on YouTube. All of a sudden I find myself getting so excited about this flick, I couldn't wait for it to be released in Bahrain...oh wait. Of course Cineco will not release the movie, what was I thinking, they just stick to releasing shitty, generic, boring, piece of shit hour and a half movies. It's not a "explicit" movie you know, in fact it's not as explicit as I thought it would be, it's certainly not as explicit as The Wolf Of Wall Street, which Cineco gladly released (even though they cut a whole HOUR from the film). But nooo, SOC is apparently two scenes away from being a porno in their eyes (sarcasm), so they're not gonna release the cut version, they're not gonna release the movie at all...get your shit together Cineco.

Alright, now that we've got that out of the way, let's shift our focus to the movie. What can I say, I'm blown away, I mean the movie was near flawless. The acting was spot on man, the chemistry that they had was so strong and so real, my monitor almost corroded (hahaha...anyone...anyone?). It was like they were born for these roles, they were just so convincing, you'd forget that they were actors. And that's the beauty of this movie, the dialogue is natural, it's free flowing, and the whole vibe of the film just seemed so real. But the man that shined, the man that took it one step above the others, the man that was like a reincarnation of his character.....JASON MITCHELL. Yep that's the guy who played Eazy-E, don't get me wrong, all the actors did a brilliant job, but this guy took it to another level. He was so into his character, just driven to make his performance as real as possible, and he hit it out of the park. Oh and O'Shea Jackson Jr. (that's Ice Cube's son) resembles his dad in his younger years so much, it would've been taboo to bring in another actor.

The movie is a thrill ride man, like I was really enjoying it, and that does not happen to me with a lot of movies. I was immersed, that's the beauty of it, that's when you know that you got a good film in your hands. Oh and the concert scenes, damn those were really good, I was just singing along with every song (oh that rhymed). There's one thing that I really appreciate about this movie, that it sort of rekindled the fire in me. I wasn't always all heavy metal, I used to listen to rap believe it or not, yeah then came heavy metal and that changed everything. But I always had respect for rap music because in a way, it's similar to heavy metal, very similar in fact. All this excitement with the movie and stuff, I went back to listening to rap (of course I didn't abandon Heavy way in hell), and it's just been really good. Old school rap, really angry, straightforward, social commentary. Like Ice Cube said "Our art is a reflection of our reality". And just like how it rekindled the fire in me, I hope the next the generation will start listening to old school rap, and abandon this mainstream bullshit that everyone else is listening to.

The resemblance is scary 
There's so little movies nowadays that really send a message. SOC is a biopic no doubt, but it does have a relevancy to today's events. That's what I liked about it, it could've been just some biopic, but it didn't, It showed that life in some communities now is not so different from back then. It really captures the impact that N.W.A had back when they released their first album. It showcased their bravery for releasing that album, with the boldest track ever, in times when African Americans were (quite honestly) being hunted down. This was not a group motivated by money, or luxury or whatever, they just wanted to express things like they were, no sugarcoating. SOC brings a whole new perspective on N.W.A's music, which was thought to have been nothing but a bunch of tracks glorifying gang violence and what not. Also, a lot of people say that their "beef" wasn't highlighted in the movie, now I'm not gonna go around and explain the beef to you guys, look it up, its pretty interesting. But let me say this, the beef seemed personal, but at it's core it was all business, and the main reason N.W.A were planning a reunion was because they realized that. One thing though, I loved how they made Suge Knight look bad, because that man is horrible, I really believe that he was behind the murder of Eazy, Biggie, and Pac. Speaking of Pac, yeah he has a cameo and it's pretty cool as well. There are a lot of cameos in this film, I really liked Snoop's cameo, especially when he started singing the lyrics to "Nuthin But a G thang", thought that was pretty cool.

*SPOILERS*So obviously at the end, Eazy dies (technically that's not a spoiler) and oh my god towards the end the movie got really emotional. It really highlighted the beauty of the bond that these guys had, they were brothers. It was really sad to see that just when things were getting better, Eazy finds out that he's dying.*SPOILERS END HERE* I won't lie, it brought a tear to my eye (another rhyme...hmm), perfect ending to a perfect movie, what more could you ask for?

So overall, definitely worth watching, in a cinema if you could. I didn't have that privilege because....ugh don't even get me started, so I had to watched a cheap filmed version, meh it was okay I guess. Definitely my favorite movie so far this year, I say that cause we still got Star Wars, and definitely an Oscar contender. I would be really pissed off if it didn't win anything, because it deserves to win. So go ahead and watch it, you know my recommendations are good.

" Crusin' down the street in ma Six Fo' "

Ahmed J. Almatrook