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Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #66: Edward Scissorhands

One could make the argument that Edward Scissorhands (1990) is the ultimate Tim Burton movie. It is set in a pastel-coloured American suburb, it has a memorable score by composer Danny Elfman and it marked the first collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Furthermore it has a small key role for horror icon Vincent Price, whose movies Burton watched as a child. It is unconventional for sure, but like a lot of Burton’s work it has become iconic to the point of influencing pop culture.
I was very young when this movie came out in theatres and like most of Tim Burton’s movies it is in a bit of a grey area when it comes to age restriction. Batman Returns for instance is a comic book movie, but a comic book movie in which one villain is electrocuted to death and another spews black blood out of his mouth before dying. Edward Scissorhand is nowhere near as graphic, but it is probably still a good idea that I waited until I was in my teen years before watching it on TV.
I had only pa…
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Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #364: Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers (1994) is not so much a movie as an American nightmare come to life. Loosely based on a story by Quentin Tarantino, starring some of the wildest actors in Hollywood at the time, and boasting a level of violence that unfortunately inspired copycat crimes, it is the textbook definition of controversial. In all fairness there are important messages amidst all the violent mayhem, but director Oliver Stone throws so much content at the screen that these messages can sometimes get lost in the carnage.
Even though the movie came out more than two decades ago it still has a legendary status, which I learned about while reading a chapter in a book about Tarantino’s career. The book, Quintessential Tarantino, contained a lot of interesting facts about the making of the movie and also spoiled the ending, but reading a few words that describe a killing spree is very different than seeing it portrayed on screen. A few years ago the director’s cut became available on Netflix, wh…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #68: Annie Hall

Another year, another instance of reviewing a movie made by a director with a rather dubious personal history. Ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke out last year I realize there are plenty of movies on this Greatest Movies list whose crew includes directors, producers, writers or actors who have been accused of sexual misconduct/lewd behaviour/rape/being a complete scumbag. Woody Allen directed Annie Hall (1977), arguably one of his funniest movies of all times, but he was also accused of sexual abuse as far back as the early 90s and kept on working. I am a completionist and Annie Hall is next on my list, so I am going to have press on and try to look back at this movie by separating the artist from the work.
This is a little bit tricky with a Woody Allen movie since in most of his movies he likes to write, direct, and be in front of the camera in the lead role. In Annie Hall his character is comedian Alvy Singer, a prototypical New Yorker as in many of Allen’s movies. He is a…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #29: Die Hard

This year I have been going all over the place with this Greatest Movies List, sometimes reviewing the next movie on the list, sometimes reviewing one I saw a few weeks ago. Since I am playing fast and loose with the rules, and since this is the Holiday season, why not skip down the list to what is arguably one of the all time greatest Christmas movies, Die Hard (1988)? Some people like to spend the Christmas season watching an angel get its wings, some like to watch a millionaire learn the meaning of Christmas, I like to watch Alan Rickman read the words “Now I have a machine gun. Ho. Ho. Ho.”
After five movies I think even the most die-hard fans (wink) would agree this franchise has gone on for too long, but the first three movies are some of the best action movies of the 80s and 90s. I actually watched them out of order, starting with the second one, followed by the third and eventually making it to the one that started it all at Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve. Watching those movi…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #467: The Deer Hunter

Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter (1978) is a prime example of how Christopher Walken is much more than a punch line. People often do impressions of him for his admittedly odd speech pattern, which sadly overshadows his great acting skills. In Cimino’s war film, the last he would direct before the financial disaster Heaven’s Gate, Walken plays a blue-collar worker in 1967 America who starts off as a happy young man only to be irrevocably transformed by the horrors of the Vietnam War. It is an amazing performance in a movie filled with some of the best actors of their generation also working at the top of their game.
I had wanted to see this movie for a long time since it appears on many Best Movies of All Times list and it has a rather infamous Russian roulette sequence that is so iconic it became the movie’s poster. However this is a three-hour movie so you really need to clear your schedule if you are planning on viewing it all in one sitting. Fortunately it became available on Netfli…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #70: Stand by Me

Another clear influence on Stranger Things, Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986) portrays American kids from a lost era in which they could go on an adventure away from home. Nowadays if children go missing for more than an hour parents try to locate them using cell phone apps, but in the story written by Stephen King four boys in 1959 Oregon go walking in the woods during a long weekend to look for, of all things, a dead body. Their lives are sometimes at risk, they have no way of communicating with their parents, but they will definitely have a story to remember for the rest of their lives.
For many North Americans adults this movie fondly reminded them of a time in their childhood despite the inherent danger. Not so for me since, first of all, there was no time in my childhood when I could possibly go out of the house for more than three hours without my mom getting in her car to go look for me. The there is the fact that I spent a good chunk of my childhood living in Chile and Peru, an…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #378: The Goonies

As I write this it is the weekend when the second season of 80s inspired show Stranger Things has dropped, so it is the perfect time to take a look at one of the many movies that inspired it, The Goonies (1985). Directed by Richard Donner, written by Chris Columbus and based on a story by Steven Spielberg, this is a movie made by some of the best filmmakers of that time. Although it was not a box office smash it went on to become a cult hit and its influences can be clearly seen on Stranger Things and on plenty of other stories featuring a group of young friends who go on extraordinary adventures.
It took me a while to finally see the full movie since it came out a year before I was born. However since it is a cult film I noticed its impact on pop culture over the years, whether it was hearing someone use the rallying cry “Goonies never say die!” or its influence on other movies like J.J Abrams’ Super 8. Watching it the first time I really enjoyed seeing familiar faces acting in one of…