Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shanghai Noon (2000)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 8 out of 10
Director: Tom Dey
Starring: Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, and Lucy Liu
Genre: Comedy, Western, Action
Run Time: 110 minutes
Sequel: Shanghai Knights (2003)

When a Chinese princess is kidnapped and held for ransom in the Wild West United States, the emperor sends the three greatest of his imperial guards to bring her back.  Imperial guard Chon Wang (Chan) saw the princess leave but failed to protect her, and now feels that its his duty to accompany the others, even if its just to carry their bags.  Meanwhile, wild west outlaw and ladies man Roy O'Bannon (Wilson) is double crossed by his own bandits.  A freak accident that involves the death of Chon's uncle bring the two men together, first as enemies, and then as reluctant allies.

It was wonderful to finally see Shanghai Noon from start to finish.  Bad timing in the past has always ended with me seeing the movie in chunks.  I've seen the beginning and end, but missed most of the middle of the film.  So, it wasn't an entirely new film to me (as many of these are) since I've seen most of it, just not all at once.  Ironically, I've actually seen the sequel to the movie before I saw the actual movie itself.  (But enough about Shanghai Knights--I'll talk about that film in another post).

I really think this film has a little something for everyone.  Action, comedy, romance...It's a western, its a martial arts movie, its a historic film...And of course, Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan are just an amazing team!  The two of them had me laughing until I cried, and the drinking games scene is not one to be missed!  I love both of these actors on their own, but putting both together is simply a stroke of genius!

Another fun little tidbit...this movie is full of historical jokes and ironic references (although not as many as in the sequel).  Be sure to look for them all! ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Director: Brian de Palma
Starring: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, and Garrit Graham
Rated: PG
Genre: Horror, Musical, Cult Classic
Run Time: 92 minutes

A disfigured, Phantom-esque anti-hero, a Faustian deal, and a trade straight out of The Picture of Dorian Gray; add a some awesome 70s music, a transvestite rock star, and black leather, and you have The Phantom of the Paradise. After his life's work is stolen by a demonic music producer and his face crushed in a record press, timid composer Winslow Leach sells his soul to ensure that the woman he loves will be able to sing his rendition of Faust at the opening of Swan's new music hall, The Paradise.

To be completely honest, I didn't think I was going to like this movie when I first started.  In fact, I thought it looked pretty dumb.  Mostly, I was watching it because of the Phantom of the Opera ties, and I just love POTO.  Looking at the trailer online, though, I couldn't help but think it was a nasty cross-over between POTO and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  But, The Phantom of Paradise is so much more!

Finley portrays a wonderfully sympathetic protagonist, Winslow Leach; tormented, abused, and eventually destroyed by Swan (Williams).  Besides his heart-wrenching portrayal of a 1970s American version of Leroux's classic character Erik, he also had really awesome makeup and a cool costume.  Its not too often that you see a Phantom dressed in black leather and donning a silver helmet instead of just a mask.  He was by far my favorite character in the movie.

As for the villainous Swan, Paul Williams was perfect!  Definitely one of the best "devils" I've seen in films.  His aura of mystery in the beginning leaves the audience in the dark just as much as Winslow, but the more we learn the more devious he becomes.  This is the first Paul Williams movie I've seen, and I'm very impressed with his acting.  He doesn't over act.  His character is powerful, devious, and harboring a dark secret, but he seems pretty cool with that.  Nothing worries him because he's already attained eternity.

Even though the movie was only rated PG, one must remember that PG-13 was not yet a rating, and honestly, I would not show this film to any children.  Its definitely PG-13.  The topics are too heavy for younger audiences, and the double unmasking at the end is going to be a little too intense.  That being said, the makeup was amazing for both of the unmaskings (although a little graphic); and (I believe) provided the desired effect. 

The best scene in the movie, though, without a doubt, had to be the shower scene when Winslow, in the guise of the Phantom, confronts rock-star Beef (Graham).  I'm not going to say too much, but it does involve a plunger. ^_^

If you're a POTO fan, you might enjoy this film, although I will say that its not as true to the story as some of the other versions are; in fact, apart from a disfigurement, a mask, an "opera house" (in this case a rock hall), and a character very loosely based on Christine, its not very POTO at all.  There's no Raoul, the manger is the villain, and the Phantom actually works for him!  Finley's Phantom is much more timid and weak than most of the others; you would never see Lon Chaney's cowering from an unarmed man who's over a foot shorter than him!  (6'4"/5'2")  But even so, I'd recommend this movie to anyone who's curious about it; its well worth it to check it out.  If nothing else, at least listen to the amazing soundtrack.  Most of the songs are written by Paul Williams (Swan).

**This movie has 2 bonus features!**

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Easy A (2010)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 7 out of 10
Director: William Gluck
Starring: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Bagdley, and Dan Byrd
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Chick Flick
Run Time: 92 minutes

When a rumor starts to spread around her high school that Olive has lost her virginity, her whole life is flipped upside down.  It doesn't help her reputation much when she pretends to sleep with the obviously gay, constantly bullied Brandon for a gift card.  Soon, tons of unpopular guys are coming to her to "boost their reputations," and when Olive starts wearing a red letter "A" on all of her clothes, its Hester Prynne and The Scarlet Letter all over again.

Easy A is a hilarious chick flick about the labels we're given verses who we really are. I actually saw it with a group of girls from school, so the whole "chick flick" experience was just perfect!  Ladies, this is a perfect film to see with your girlfriends, although I'm not so sure that this is the right film to drag the boyfriend to.  He probably won't find it as interesting as you will.  Emma Stone is hilarious as Olive, and Penn Bagdley is an adorable supporting actor.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of "chick flicks," but I really enjoyed the overall performance of this one.  There was romance, comedy, a lot of drama, and an interesting, fast-moving plot.  And of course, I loved the connections to The Scarlet Letter.  I thought that it was actually pulled off in a rather creative manner; a wonderful modern interpretation of Hawthorne's immortal classic.

Oh, and the soundtrack is amazing!  Believe me, once you've seen Easy A, you'll be humming "Pocketful of Sunshine" for the next day or two.  I know I was :P

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 5 out of 10
Director: Robert Fuest
Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton, Hugh Griffith, and Terry-Thomas
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Horror
Run Time: 94 minutes
Sequel: Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)

When a group of doctors all begin to die in mysterious circumstances, the murders are linked to madman Anton Phibes, a scholar and theologian who considers them responsible for the death of his wife several years previously.

Dr. Phibes is a dreadfully creepy film, sometimes thrilling, all times suspenseful, and often down right vile.  Dr. Anton Phibes, played by horror film master Vincent Price, attempts to avenge the death of his beautiful wife Victoria by killing all the doctors who performed the surgery she died during.  Of course, a good horror film needs more than just a simple string of murders, and Dr. Phibes does not disappoint.  All of the murders committed are reminiscent of the Biblical plagues, such as locusts, rats, blood, and the death of the first born child.  It's a very creepy movie and often, the murders are pretty disturbing.  I enjoy a good scare every once in a while, but seeing a man being completely drained of his blood via IV, or another being eaten by rats is rather unsettling to me.  Several sources actually say that The Abominable Dr. Phibes was actually the inspiration for the Saw movies, and while I haven't seen them (and honestly don't plan to) I can believe that this would inspire something as gruesome as Saw.
Vincent Price was wonderful as the title role.  Because his character wears a "flesh" mask to cover his horrendously deformed face, he is unable to communicate with facial expressions, and for the most part relies on just his eyes, which get quite a few creepy close-ups.  The other thing I found to be interesting is Price's vocal roles.  In the accident that disfigured him, Phibes loses the ability to talk, but using a strange phonograph device, he is able to talk though his throat in a broken, choppy dialogue.  Personally, I just adore Vincent Price's voice, and it was weird hearing him talk this way.  But, even with his words a bit garbled and broken, he's still amazing.

If you enjoy old horror films or Vincent Price, I would highly recommend this to you.  If you're really not a fan of either one, then perhaps you would be better off watching something a little more pleasant.  I'm a Vincent Price fan, so for me, this was totally worth it.

**This movie has 1 bonus feature!**

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello :)

Hi, Everyone!  I just wanted to give a quick introduction of myself before I start off this blog.  I'm Cinema Sweetheart, and as a college student with a passion for movies, I thought it would be fun to create a blog with reviews of various films that I have seen and enjoyed (or not enjoyed).  If you have any ideas for movies, have a question or comment, or even just want to say "hi," then you can either leave me a message via the comments feed or email me at In the meantime, just sit back, grab some popcorn, and prepare to enjoy the show ;)
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