Rewind Review: The Shining (1980) Returns to Cinemas

Adaptations and reboots of Stephen King’s work are popular right now, what with The Dark Tower, It, and Gerald’s Game recently released and with many others in development. Plus, with it being Halloween it only makes sense to revisit one of the frequently listed scariest movies of all time.

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Heeeeere’s Johnny! 

Look up any “Scariest Movies of All Time” list and you can bet that The Shining will be floating near the top, along with many adaptations from Stephen King. Combine “the master of horror” with Kubrick’s genius, it’s really no surprise this film has such a cult following; and after seeing it for the first time just a few days ago, it did not disappoint.

Before the film, we watched  “Work and Play: a short film about The Shining (2017)” directed by Matt Wells for Park Circus. This documentary investigates the creative process and incredible efforts behind this unique movie; intense research into the horror genre, the innovative use of the newly developed “Steadicam”, and a look into the personal musings of Kubrick and his views on film-making.

Featured in the documentary are: Lisa and Louise Burns (The Grady Twins), Garrett Brown (inventor and operator of the Steadicam), Diane Johnson (co-screenwriter on The Shining), Katharina Kubrick (Stanley Kubrick’s daughter) and Jan Harlan (Kubrick’s producing partner and brother-in-law).

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“It’s easy to make movie…but to make a great film is a miracle.”

If you want to watch something with tension and suspense on Halloween, then The Shining is for you. The music is really stand out for me, combining rapid high pitched strings with slow and deep brass makes you believe something terrifying is about to happen. The long Steadicam shots of corridors, the set and environment make it seem that something may jump out. The music and camera shots were eerie and surprisingly good at building suspense; I could feel myself tensing up and even jumping a little at the changes in instrumentation.

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Shelley Duvall at The Overlook Hotel

Of course, I cannot overlook the incredible acting of Jack Nicholson. His long, dead-eyed shots, creepy mannerisms, and seriously animated eyebrows, portrayed complete insanity with little to no motive or justification required. And he’s not the only one, many of the characters you meet throughout the movie are played in a seriously creepy manner.

If like me you haven’t seen this film before, the short version is Jack Nicholson plays “Jack Torrance” who gets a job as caretaker at The Overlook Hotel  over the winter months during closed season. He brings his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) but the isolation, and something in the hotel’s past, makes Jack lose his mind and turn on his family.

Nicholson is great at being terrifying and Lloyd is good at being terrified, but I was not completely convinced by Duvall. A few things she does seem quite smart and resourceful in a pretty hopeless situation; however, her tone seemed forced and vacant, and she seemed to have little control over her limbs as she ran aimlessly around the hotel. Also, Nicholson gets a lot of praise for this film but I also think Lloyd was very good! He’s a very young boy but plays this part with maturity and intelligence.

Ignoring what I thought of Duvall’s portrayal, which I can probably attribute to the age of the film, this is a great scary movie that will really mess with your mind and the accompanied short is very interesting. I  would highly recommend re-visiting this film this Halloween if you can, and be sure to get there in time for the short! And remember….All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy!

The Shining is in cinemas across the UK on 31 October 2017 accompanied by short film “Work and Play: A Short Film about The Shining” (Director Matt Wells).

Film credit: http://www.parkcircus.com/films/21530-the-shining.

Image credits: © 1980 Warner Bros. Inc. All Rights Reserved. Images courtesy of Park Circus/Warner Bros.

Throwback: Blade Runner (1982)

With the sequel releasing next month it’s about time we took a look back at the original, loosely adapted from the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick; who also wrote Minority Report and Total Recall.

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Hitting cinemas 35 years ago, Blade Runner was described as neo-noir science-fiction directed by the fantastic sci-fi pro Ridley Scott. Set 2019, we see a very different version of Los Angeles, a dark and dystopian city that has descended into decay. The Tyrell Corporation has manufactured androids known as “replicants”, indistinguishable from human adults, to work on off-world colonies. However, if any of these replicants attempt to return to Earth they are assassinated (or “retired”) by police operatives known as “Blade Runners”. Harrison Ford plays ex-Blade Runner “Rick Deckard” who takes one last job to hunt down 4 escaped replicants. During his investigation he meets “Rachael”, played by Sean Young, an advanced replicant who displays human emotion and makes him question the future, his attitude towards replicants and what it means to be human.

Replicants are made with a restricted life span, all Roy (Rutger Hauer), Pris (Daryl Hannah), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Leon (Brion James) want is to live and love. Rachael even believes herself to be human until Deckard performs the “Voight-Kampff” test on her and is told that her memories are only implants taken from Tyrell’s niece. Though this story is interesting I was more intrigued by the way the story was told. I enjoy the noir style and luckily for this film Harrison Ford’s voice lends itself well to narration. The interactions between Deckard and Rachael made me a little uncomfortable, which I normally put down to being a different time period, though it could be another example of how humans believe they can use artificial intelligence for their own advantage and self indulgence.

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One of the greatest improvised lines in film

Honestly, my attention did dip at certain points during the film, mostly during dialogue heavy scenes; so I can see why the critics may have been split in their opinions when it was first released. However, I enjoyed this film and it includes a variety of themes that are ambiguous enough to invoke different perceptions; exploring humanity, empathy, mortality, the emotional capacity of A.Is, the disparity between the different societies and the new and decaying areas of the city, human manipulation of genetic engineering, the omnipotent corporate power, manipulation of environment, and apparently some religious connotations that I’m always oblivious to. Also, it has to have been a massive influence for 2004’s “I, Robot” and other A.I related films.

And lastly, this line:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” Roy Batty

Retro Rewind : Commando (1985)

There are always gems hidden away on Netflix, and browsing through it the other day, I came across one of my favourite movies from way back in the days! Commando was the very definition of prime Schwarzenegger!! The one man army, the puns, the cheesy dialogue, Commando had it all! At only 90 minutes, it’s a fun way to pass some time!

 

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This is how the film starts! 

The plot is so very simple. Retired special ops agent John Matrix (Arnold) is living the quite life out in the forests, with his daughter Jenny (A young Alyssa Milano!). The intro to the movie is a serene, joyful sequence, showing the loving father & daughter living the good life, spending quality family time together, having ice cream etc. Maybe this was done intentionally, as the rest of the film is anything but like this! It does raise a chuckle knowing what lies ahead! It’s not long until their cosy life is interrupted by a figure from Matrix’s’ past. It appears that all of his members from his old team are being murdered, and he is the last one left. Even with the warning, this doesn’t stop the villain, a ridiculously over the top, pantomime bad guy, Bennett from kidnapping Jenny, and blackmailing our hero to carry out an assassination mission for them. Matrix manages to escape the plane he is forced to board for his mission, and it’s a race against time to find his daughter before the plane arrives on the other side!

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Not the smartest of moves…….

So as mentioned earlier, this film is as ‘Arnold’ as you can get! This came out around the time he hit his box office prime, with successes such as The Running Man, Predator, Total Recall and of course, The Terminator. Commando is known for 2 things among its cult fan base. The one man army troupe and the one liner. So many one-liners!!

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You’re a funny guy Sully……….

The film is crammed full with memorable lines that fans still quote today! Where do you start? There’s the “Please don’t disturb my friend, he is dead tired’’ after nonchalantly snapping the neck of his guard on the plane. We can’t forget the infamous combo of “You’re a funny guy Sully, I like you, that’s why I’ll kill you last’’, followed later on with “Remember when I said I would kill you last? I lied” the deadpan delivery, with the fact he makes such remarks after killing someone is just comedic! And we cannot forget the final one-liner in the movie, after he inevitably wins at the end……..’’Let off some steam Bennett’, after casually impaling him with a pole in the boiler room! It’s all done tongue in cheek, so the lines never really ruin the movie, only adding to the spectacle!

Don’t be expecting any intricate story lines or stellar acting performances here! Cindy, our female accomplice for Matrix, is far too casual and mellow about being dragged into something as dangerous as this, and goes from ‘help, I’ve been kidnapped’ to ‘OK, I’ll help you take down a militia” rather too easily! Sully, the creepy & annoying henchmen is brilliantly irritating, and when you see his eventual demise, it’s great! As said, the acting is pretty much what you expect for an Arnold movie! In one scene, he crashes the car he is driving in pursuit of Sully into a tree. Literally right after the crash, he immediately checks on Cindy. There is literally no reaction from him to the crash at all! It’s so bad, it’s good! You would at least expect a brief moment of shock, but nope! Nothing here!

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The final 3rd of the movie is pretty much The Expendables, with one guy, though that guy is 1980s Schwarzenegger, so, more than enough firepower! In all reality, he wouldn’t even get past the first guards he encounters, but here, in Commando, he is taking an entire army, on his own, without a sweat! With any other actor, even back then, would seem improbable, but with Schwarzenegger, it feels perfect! This was his gimmick, a gimmick only he (and probably Stallone) could pull off flawlessly. There’s a video on Youtube that tallies up his kill count, and it’s defiantly worth a check! (102 kills, according to this!)

Nowadays, a film like this, would rarely succeed, though movies such as John Wick could compare well to this, one man, on a mission, kills EVERYONE! If you love a mindless action movie, with the star power of Arnold is his absolute peak then watch this! If you already have, watch it again! 😀 This is always one of those movies I could always go back to watching! I’ll be back, Bennett……………….

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