Heartless review!

Director: Philip Ridley

Stars out of 10: 8.0

A Faust story for the modern audience. A must-watch

Heartless

The title, not referring to a cruel or sadistic person, but rather the birthmark of Jamie (the protagonist) around his eye which is shaped like a heart and when he makes a Faustian deal with Papa B., the Devil, his birthmark vanishes, or at least that’s what he thinks. Finding this film was a case of serendipity. I got lost on YouTube and I eventually landed on this trailer because of the menacing thumbnail. I downloaded it on the spot and woah! I liked it.

First of all, this is a British horror film and British horror, apart from American & Australian, has never failed to make a big, or at least good, impression on me. I liked the quite-dark tone of this film and Jamie Morgan is probably the most realistic and human character I’ve seen in a horror movie. I liked Jim Sturgess’s performance and pretty much held the film on his shoulders. He is definitely an actor to keep an eye out for and in the supporting, everyone gave decent performances, most especially by Eddie Marsan as The Weapons Man and Joseph Mawke as Papa B. and also Timothy Spall as George Morgan, Jamie’s father, in a brief screentime.

The horror tone, like I said, was good but somewhere along the way it loses it touch but gets it back again by the time it ends. Speaking of which, the ending is very Sixth Sense like where the viewer and the protagonist is left surprised to the point of being cheated. All in all, Heartless is a must watch because it has a distinct emotional and a human feel to it which you’ve probably never seen in any other horror films of the late. Heartless is also quite unique and one should watch it in order to experience that and believe me, you will love it!

Advertisements

My history of song-listening and why do I listen to songs…

I hardly used to listen to songs. In fact none at all. Whenever my elder sister would play her P!nk or Destiny’s Child, I would either storm out of the room or bury my head in the blanket. It’s ironic that I used to do all that but now I make my family do all that by cranking up the volume to AC/DC or Metallica. Even though I’m no audiophile, and I don’t consider myself to be one, I’m more of just a listener… that’s it. I listen, write reviews, make lists, get inspired by and that’s it. I mean, I don’t have the world’s biggest CD collection and/or posters on my wall. Hell, I couldn’t even pronounce Lynyrd Skynyrd correctly and I always used to get stuck while spelling Zeppelin: was it two P’s or two L‘s? But now I know and everyday I get introduced to new artists/bands old or new and if one strikes me in the right way, then I listen to more of their stuff. I think that’s enough introduction and let’s get on with the real thing:

The First Song I’d Ever Heard:

Many people don’t remember their first song they’d heard ‘professionally’ and by that I mean not in the background or in the subway station but actually sitting down, plugging in the earphones and pressing PLAY. Back when Walkmans were popular, my sister bought one and burned 21 songs to a CD entitled The Greatest. Now, if that were an actual album, it could’ve been nominated for several Grammy’s because it certainly was the first greatest ‘album’ I’d heard. Those 21 songs were the first 21 songs I ever heard, thus starting my love for songs. I remember asking my sister for the Walkman and, to my surprise, she actually gave me, a rarity as she never, EVER gives her Walkman to anyone. I remember sitting down, popping the CD in, inserting those god-awful earphones and pressing the PLAY button…. 5 seconds of silence and Upside Down by The A*Teens came blaring through those uncomfortable earphones. It wasn’t exactly a heavenly feeling because the volume was too high and me, not knowing how to operate a Walkman, could not find the volume button. It was only after my sister pointed it out where it was, I listened to it again and this time I liked it. I mean, I don’t follow pop-music nowadays but it was a very fresh song and still remains. Then, whenever my sister would give me the chance, I would listen to one song, order-wise and would keep a track of it. By the time I reached no. 12 or 13, I started feeling a little bored because literally all the songs were repetitive and, frankly speaking, boring. The vocals sounded almost the same, the pop-feeling was in all, the lyrics were getting old and the subject also remained the same. But the chain was broken when I reached no. 19 on the playlist. You have no idea how I felt when I heard that unearthly music and that screaming vocals and the loudness out it. Yes, it was In the End by Linkin Park, my first rock song and my first heroes! From that point on, I’d entered the music-zone and it was clear to me, and everyone, that I wouldn’t move from that place for a very, very long time!

The White Boy of Town

You’ve probably met, or seen, more fakers or posers than I’ve and you may have probably seen me. Yes, I was one of them. You have no idea how much I was into rap culture and the hip-hop subculture. Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking: “This guy went from Linkin Park to this?” Truth be told, rock music (heavy metal too) did not come in my life until I was 15 years old (for this section, I’m 12 years)…now let me tell you something: I live in Oman and the one genre that has the most influence is rap/hip-hop like 85%, with blues/Jazz 5% and then all the others. Everywhere you see you will see people doing the C-Walk or trying to do the Shuffle or re-enacting the dance sequence from Soulja Boy’s Crank That video. It’s quite depressing to see things like these now but back then, when I was one of them, it was always an encouragement. So what did I do? I bought shirts 2 times my size, the shoulder-line coming at my elbows with the lower-hem coming at my knees, pants with the waist resting on my hips rather than on my, well, waist and wearing long chains and… well, you can paint the picture. I never did any of the earring or finger-ring stuff as I find that a very disgusting habit and I do not approve of it. Anyway, onto the music: my classmates, like everyone else, were rap listeners and because of that, I used to get introduced to at least 10 new songs everyday and we would all go home, download the song(s) and come to school the next day to talk about it. But somehow something was missing. You may have probably heard me saying about “that certain element” many times here and/or other sites and I’m gonna say it once again. A certain element was indeed missing. I mean, I was into the culture but never fully accepted just like as if you read another religion’s Holy books and you understand it but don’t accept it. Time over time, the influence got over me and suddenly, just like that, I stopped. Yea, that’s it. Rap/hip-hop officially exited my life and with that, my friends too, real or online (accept it, we all live in a world where friends only like to be friends not just by looks alone but also their music or movie tastes)

Enter Metal, Exit Hip-Hop

At a time when every song on the radio would be a pop song and every song would contain the line “put your hands up in the air like you just don’t care” at least once, I needed a solace, a comforter. Imagine this as a break-up: you break-up with someone and with the intention of finding solace, you cling onto something/someone and before you know it, the ex is history and you’ve found a new one. For me it was HEAVY METAL! Hell yea, the one genre that hardly, if any, gets any respect and it should. I mean, it’s heavy metal for god’s sake. I remember my sister giving me Enter Sandman by Metallica, saying that I might enjoy and enjoy I did. I mean, I absolutely loved it. The lyrics, the riffs, the pure awesomeness behind it. Metallica paved the heavy metal road for me and I’ve been cruising on it ever since, getting introduced to classic bands like Deep Purple, AC/DC, Skid Row, Led Zeppelin, Slayer, Eagles, Black Sabbath etc… but why rock songs you may ask and here’s the reason why: Lyrics. Yes, simple as that. The pop songs (of all generations, especially now) don’t make any sense and many of them are boring and are mostly liked because of their Grammy wins or YouTube views. rock lyrics are different: they can be violent, Satanic, political, depressing, on war, on alienation, on phobias but, whatever the subject is, it remains realistic and many reflect/echo the actual events happening in the world right now and I can name you several which can be used as metaphors. It’s not always about the image or status that drives me to listen to an artist or a band but rather the authenticity and the power behind that musician. So I guess that concludes this part and let’s get on with the other:

Why do I listen to songs? till last year, I used to listen to just for the sake of listening but nowadays its all because I want to get inspired. I must’ve mentioned I write lyrics? Oh well, whenever I listen to song which contains lyrics I consider to be ‘perfect’, I immediately start writing one of my own (exact same topic or similar) and I’ve done that countless times. Many have compared mine with the original and while some have said it’s just OK, others have actually said mine is waaay better (man, I love feedback like these)… so, there you have it! I hoped you enjoyed reading it and whether you agree or disagree with some of the things I’ve said, please feel free to express yourself in the comments!

Matchstick Men review!

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Stars out of 10: 8.5

Every decade has at least one good movie with a surprise twist. From the 2000’s, this is one of them!

Matchstick Men

Aliens in outer space. Replicants loose in a rainy city. Two women against the world. Gladiators fighting each other to death and now, an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder con man conning people with his partner and a daughter he never knew he ever had. Boy, Sir Ridley Scott has really covered all bases from space to earth, ancient times to modern times! Matchstick Men, referring to their jobs, is quite an excellent, funny, fast-moving film with a rather great screenplay. I don’t usually write about screenplays but this one deserves it. Sir Ridley Scott is one of the reasons why many of the actors and actresses have made some of their greatest movies (Harrison Ford – Blade Runner, Russell Crowe – Gladiator, Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis – Thelma & Louise just to name a very few and now, Nicolas Cage) From the late 80’s till early 2000’s, Nicolas Cage gave some of the best movie performances and, same his characters may seem, managed to entertain us with performances no other actor could possibly play. Hate him or like him but you’re bound to be glued to the screen when you watch this movie and Cage’s surefire Oscar role which he didn’t get – a shame really!

Well, my history is a little shaky at the moment but, correct me if I’m wrong, Sir Ridley Scott has probably never used this many use of the cut-shot technique as he has done in this movie. It’s perfectly well-timed and done all in the right number of times; Reminded me of a similar move in Hellraiser: Hellseeker. Also, it has two of the best tropes I enjoy: 1) A father gets a visit from a child (in this case, a daughter) he never knew he had (although the ending may shock you) and 2) having a star play a role half their age (Alison Lohman was 24 and she played a 14 yr. old). Chemistry-wise, I enjoyed Cage & Lohman the best with Cage & Rockwell a close second.

Watch this movie if you’re in the mood for something light, yet intriguing, and/or something that after when you finish the film you would be like “now that was worth of my time”

The Hunchback of Notre Dame review!

Directed by: Gary Trousdale / Kirk Wise

Stars out of 10: 7.9

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Directed by another legendary team of Disney, Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise, Hunchback is the 7th in the Disney Renaissance era (the duo’s other film, Beauty and the Beast is the 3rd) and overall, one of the darkest Disney productions to date. Adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel, I’ve read that Disney strayed too far and I cannot confirm or deny this because I still haven’t read the original novel. Now, what sets this apart from most other Disney works is, apart from the dark scenes, is the use religion and other mature themes not previously found in other works. I believe that Hunchback signalled the end of the sweetness and child-friendly scenes which Disney was most famous for and instead bought forward much realistic themes and settings. OK, if not the greatest, then I consider Hunchback to be one of the important Disney productions to date. All Disney fans should watch this at least once!

On to the film: Just like many others, this one also opens with a song and the lyrics are actually very well written. We’re quickly thrown into the brooding world of Quasimodo and Claude Frollo by the epilogue and from there it just levels up. The animation is quite realistic and not very ‘one-sided’ or ‘sliding-manner’ which means a characters appears to slide to the screen as-if being pushed from behind and the side (check out when Scar from Lion King comes into view after when Simba lies next to Mufasa’s dead body and you will understand). The expressions and movements are very real, something that would later expand in Tarzan and the voice over, us usual, is top-notch. Every voice is perfectly suited and they all give a distinctive touch to their respective characters.

In conclusion, watch this and you won’t be disappointed but fans who are used to the lighter themes of Disney’s previous movies will find it a bit shocking. Well at least this is better than The Black Cauldron, another film in the same vein with dark tones.

Batman Begins review!

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Stars out of 10: 9.0

If Batman was born in 1989 and butchered in 1997, then 2005 marks the official re-birth of Batman, this time with more aggressiveness than ever before

After the disappointing results of Batman & Robin, up-and-coming director Christopher Nolan took it upon himself to do a Batman reboot. And that’s exactly what Nolan did and bought forward the (then) greatest Batman installment of all time. Frankly speaking, I did not like it the first time around because I wasn’t much exposed to Christian Bale. After seeing him in The Machinist and American Psycho, I saw this film again and this time, loved it. Each scene builds up to another scene like a long great drum marathon by either Nick Menza or John Bonham. Overall, I liked the dark tone of the movie which was lacking in the superhero movies of its time, bar Blade.

One thing I would like to point out: I liked Katie Holmes performance as Rachel Dawes and she was quite convincing. Of course, when Maggie stepped in the sequel, she was more better but Katie was also good nevertheless (same as The Joker situation). Also, the chemistry between the leads, Bale & Holmes, might be a little shaky but it wasn’t whiny as the Peter Parker/Mary Jane pairing from the Spider-Man franchise. This one had more realistic feelings and emotions. Also, I liked the fact that this had a wide variety of classic actors like Tom Wilkinson, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. I mean, an epic movie like this deserves to have epic actors, right?

Let’s see, what about the film? Unlike it’s predecessors and it’s successor, Begins is more dialogue-driven. I think that was a good thing or otherwise it would’ve been just another action-superhero movie and would’ve been boring. All in all, the acting by everyone is great (check out Cillian Murphy and Tom Wilkinson) and the action is well placed and Cillian Murphy is the only actor who easily blends with all characters and shares good chemistry with each. In conclusion, first watch Batman & Robin, get heavily disappointed and then watch Batman Begins to lift your spirits higher.

Check out My Lists!

You will be re-directed to Listal, the place where I stored my lists originally!

500 Greatest Album Sleeves
500 Greatest Songs of All Time!
500 Greatest Films of All Time!
50 Worst Films I’ve Seen
35 Great Marvel Villains
Some of My Favourite Music Albums
My Drawing Collection
Top 10… of many Genres!
100 Greatest Movie Characters – Ranked!
Marvel / DC Male Performances – Best to Worst
Famous Chainsaws
Famous Guitars
10 Hated / Annoying Characters
Most Annoying Celebrities
Iconic Personalities of Rock
Some of My Movie Facts
The 30 Day People Meme
55 Greatest Horror Performances – Ranked
It Would Be Scary To Live In The World Of…
They Were Once Good Looking
The 30 Day Movies/Games Meme
50 Favourite Video Game Characters – Ranked
The 4 Memorable Villains of Bollywood
100 Beautiful / Greatest Vehicles
30 Favourite Guitarists – Ranked
Some of My Favourite Movie Performances
The Greatest Level in Games I’ve Played

The Wolfman review!

Directed by: George Waggner

Stars out of 10: 10 – Perfect

One of the Big 4 of Classic Horror, The Wolfman is the definitive horror movie!

The Wolf Man


To many, classic horror starts from the 70’s or from early 80’s. I disagree. To me it was from early 20’s to mid 50’s, the true predecessor of modern horror. Many of the well-known horror movies were made at this time and The Wolf Man is one of them. Although not the first werewolf movie, it certainly was the most influential and iconic. I consider the performance of Lon Chaney, Jr. as the doomed Larry Talbot / Wolf Man and the whole film in general to be the definitive portrayal of a werewolf. all Universal Monsters are iconic but there’s just something about the Wolf Man. Is it the groundbreaking make-up for its time or the creepy atmosphere? Or is it because of the great performance by Lon Chaney, Jr. (why do think I’ve ranked him no. 1 here?). Just like the horror movies of its time – and before – it has the very 2 things they are famous for: Amazing music and at least one iconic scene. In long intervals the music serves a great role and it often very chilling. For the iconic scene, the part where Larry turns into a werewolf. Remember that was the 40’s, long before CGI and everything (come to think of it, many of the CGI and special effects pioneers of modern times were not even born then) and the transformation must’ve caused a-many nightmares. It’s effective and damn simple to the point that anyone with a good camera and Windows Movie Maker can achieve the same effect (hint: try Transition). The performances by all are very convincing and rather impressive. Before he went the utterly quotable and blendable Capt. Renault, Claude Raines gave easily one of his best performances as Sir John Talbot. All in all, if you’re a classic horror fan and/or like Universal Monsters then this one is definitely not to miss and believe me, you will love this and if you think that Boris Karloff was great as Frankenstein or Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal, your mind will have changed after watching Lon Chaney, Jr. If you don’t like it, you can remove me from your friend list (yes, I’m that confident)

Overall, I would like to call The Wolf Man as one of the Big 4 Of Classic Horror, the other 3 being: Nosferatu, 1922, Dracula, 1931 and Frankenstein 1931. I have others in mind like The Old Dark House, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera and so on but these four really defined everything and their images are known to everyone throughout the world, movie-goers or not. Like I said before, the image of the wolf and the portrayal is great. A lyncanthrope is supposed to be shown in a tragic, yet determined sort of way who doesn’t want to turn into a werewolf but is doomed, not the lovey-dovey crying stuff like in Twilight. Anyway, classic horror survived the 40’s because of this and, even after 60 years, still manages to scare us by sheer simplicity. A great film indeed!