Movie Review: Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Ah the disco trends of the late 70s. Such an interesting era for music and clothing. Not much else that I can say, it’s just fun.

Ladies and gents… “Saturday Night Fever”.

Tony Manero (John Travolta) has a pretty shitty family life, always getting put down by his parents. So to get away from that shitshow, he often goes to a local dance club, where he absolutely dominates. So we follow Tony as he deals with life. And this plot is as mediocre as it gets. It tries to be layered, it tries to be nuanced… but it’s not. It thinks itself clever, but it’s a shallow and uninteresting look at the life of this dude. The tone is also all over the place. Now, I can watch a movie switch between tones without any issue as long as the writing is good enough to make the switch feel natural. But the writing here isn’t good enough to carry the tonal changes that occur throughout the movie. This movie doesn’t always know what it wants to be. Is it a character study or is it a boogie-woogie dramedy? Because either way, the plot here never really goes above a “meh”.

The characters in this sometimes feel like they have personality, but in the end I feel like they are mostly these inconsistent husks. John Travolta plays Tony Manero, the kid with the titular medical condition. Working class jerk by day, boogie-woogie master by night. He is a very inconsistent character. Sometimes he’s a total douchebag, and sometimes he’s a nice dude. This isn’t natural character growth for him even, as it just kinda happens on a dime. At least Travolta gives a good performance. We also get supporting work from people like Karen Lynn Gorney, Barry Miller, Joseph Cali, Paul Pape, Donna Pescow, Martin Shakar, and more. And while most of the characters could’ve used a few rewrites, the performances were good.

There was a score at a few points in this movie, composed by David Shire. And it was fine, it’s not too noticeable. But you know what is noticeable? All the disco music throughout. Bee Gees, The Trammps, KC and the Sunshine Band, there’s a ton of old school stuff here, and it’s awesome. Not just because it’s overall a bunch of fun music, but because it just works so well for the setting, it helps really build a mood and give the movie some extra energy. So yeah, this movie has good music.

This movie was directed by John Badham, and I think he did a good job here. While the story and writing is lacking, Badham’s direction gives it all an energy that makes it so much easier to watch and feel invested in. And let’s get to the elephant in the room, the dance sequences. For what is a disco inferno without someone lighting up the dance floor? Well, I have to admit, the dance sequences in this are fucking incredible. The way that the character movement blends with the cinematography makes for some really mesmerizing sequences.

This movie has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 85% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,8/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best actor (Travolta).

Soooo, a lot of people call “Saturday Night Fever” a classic. But I think it’s just… fine. It has a meh plot, meh characters, good performances, great music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Saturday Night Fever” is a 6,11/10. So while very flawed, it can still be worth a rental.

My review of “Saturday Night Fever” is now completed.

Oh dear. Boogie woogies out of the room.

Movie Review: In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.

The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.

The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!

The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.

This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.

Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…

Movie Review: Carrie (1976)

6-carrie-1

Hello guys, welcome to “The Month of Spooks”! The time here in October where I review some horror movies. I know that it might be a little bit late to start with that shit in the late half of October, but I am an idiot so that is why we get it now. But hey, better late than ever. Anyway, the movie of today was suggested by Peggy over at the blog peggyatthemovies.com which I highly recommend if you want high quality movie (and TV) stuff. Now that we have gotten that little plug out of the way, let’s move on to the review.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would really like you to meet… “Carrie”.

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a very shy and quiet girl who does not have the best of lives. First off, her mom (Piper Laurie) is a real fire & brimstone type of religious nut who really tries to dominate and have full control over Carrie’s life. Second, the other girls at her school bully her to no end and they are some of the worst people I have ever seen on screen. Seriously, those girls and Tommy from “The Butterfly Effect” are my picks for the biggest pieces of shit in cinematic history. Anyway, when Carrie has all of these problems she discovers that she has telekinesis. And from that we get a very interesting and pretty well presented, if a little sloppy plot. I’m not gonna say that it’s terrifying, but it’s definitely creepy and has an uneasy atmosphere. However there are moments of the story that I would call sloppy and it takes away a little from it. So I would say the plot is pretty good if a bit sloppy.

The characters like I said are some of the biggest pieces of shit ever. Except for Carrie, she is a very sweet girl who I just wanna hug and then tell her “It’s gonna be okay”. And Sissy Spacek gives a great performance as this shy, scared and damaged girl. I would say that everybody gave great performances, even young John Travolta (Yep, he’s in this movie).

The score for the movie was composed by Pino Donaggio and I think it was pretty freaking great. It is beautiful, creepy and is very well-composed. It is heavily based in stringed instruments and piano which is really fun to hear, especially since it turned out to be as great as it is.

This movie was directed by Brian De Palma and he did a pretty fantastic job with the directing. The shots look great and there are a lot of gorgeous long takes and tracking shots that were just pure eye candy. I do think that no one could have done it better than De Palma, this is really his movie. And without any major spoilers for the people who might not have seen this, I have to say that the finale is one of the most bittersweet but still relieving finales ever. Is there some kind of comeuppance given to the assholes? Yeah and it is both amazing and kind of “Well that’s kind of terrible”. But it was still glorious and the very ending actually scared me in a way. You who have seen it know what the hell I am talking about.

This is a very well-received movie. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it got a score of 7,4/10. “Carrie” was also nominated for 2 Oscars in the categories of Best Actress (Spacek) and Best Supporting Actress (Piper Laurie). 

“Carrie” is a very creepy horror movie with a very uneasy atmosphere with a good but still a little sloppy plot, great acting, great music, fantastic directing and an awesome final act. Time for my final score. BOO! My final score for “Carrie” is an 8,74/10. I do think it’s still worth buying.
Worth buying

My review of “Carrie” is now completed.

“The Month of Spooks” is on.