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Showing posts from March, 2013

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #333: Grease

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling. You have some good times in a period of your life, time goes by and you feel like going back to that time period. I am guessing someone in the late 70s felt nostalgic about late 1950s high school life in America, leading to the creation of “Grease,” one of John Travolta’s first hits. The life and time are very dated today, but every now and then you still hear the soundtrack on classic rock stations. Clearly the lyricists did their jobs right.
This is not my favourite musical. It’s cutesy with catchy tunes, but my top two musicals are “The Blues Brothers” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” If it involves car chases, Ray Charles, the Time Warp, Meat Loaf, and Carrie Fisher with a rocket launcher then count me in. I have less enthusiasm for Danny Zucko singing about his summer love for Sandy. But the movie was available for a dollar on iTunes during an evening when I had nothing to do in University, so I might as well kill two hours and see why it is an…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #335: The Seventh Seal

Unless you are a film student or a fan of all cinema, when you hear the name Ingmar Bergman odds are you think boring European films in black and white. Or maybe you have never heard the name at all. Yet his 1957 classic “The Seventh Seal” is not only filled with profound ideas about faith, religion and mortality but it also some rather funny scenes bordering on slapstick. Then of course there is that iconic scene at the beginning where knight Antonius Block (Max Von Sydow) is playing chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot) to delay his demise.
Before watching the film I had seen that particular image parodied plenty of times in pop culture, most notably in an episode of Animaniacs, only Yako convinced Death to play checkers instead. Still, before watching it the first time at the University of Sherbrooke’s film club I didn’t really know what to expect. It was part of a double feature with “Persona,” another classic, which I found more difficult to follow. On the other hand, I found “The Seven…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #336: Titanic

An old-school Hollywood epic, James Cameron’s “Titanic” nearly sank its director. Cameron built a giant scale of the ship for the sinking scenes, had the interior rooms reproduced exactly as originally built, yelled at his crew when things went wrong, had cast members stay in the water for so long many of them got sick with the flu and ballooned the film’s budget to $200 million, 66 percent over its original budget of $120 million. Studio executives panicked and wanted to cut the running time of the 3-hour epic, but Cameron said they would have to fire him first. He ended up getting the last laugh as his movie grossed over $2 billion worldwide, a record later beaten by his own “Avatar,” and won 11 Academy Awards. It also gave the world that overplayed Céline Dion song, but you can’t win them all.
When “Titanic” was released in the Holiday season of 1997, my family and I were living in South America, so it was three hours of Spanish subtitles. Back then I wasn’t as obsessed as I am with…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #337: 300

Now here is a movie that was both incredibly macho and incredibly gay at the same time. On the one hand, Zach Snyder’s “300” features a group of Spartan soldiers fighting a bloody battle against a Persian army that vastly outnumbers them, all in order to protect their home. On the other hand, each of those soldiers had rock-solid eight packs and spends most of the movie half-naked wearing tight leather pants. I don’t care if you spend three hours at the gym every day, no straight man is that cut. But on the other hand, you cannot deny these guys looked ready to go kick ass. Between the Spartan soldiers, the gratuitous sex, the constant spilling of blood and the speeches the get the troops pumped, this movie oozes machismo.
Released in early 2007, “300” was considered an early summer movie because of its success which caught people by surprise. The visuals from the trailer were stunning, so I asked for the graphic novel on which it is based for Christmas. When you compare what is onscre…