Special Features

Cool Movie Poster of the Week - Moon (2009)

Submitted by tom on April 28, 2015 - 5:30pm


 

Moon

Secretly Awesome - Breakdown (1997)

Submitted by tom on March 4, 2015 - 12:04am


 

Breakdown is something of a rarity. It's pure suspense. The plot is thin, the characters are pretty much two-dimensional, and the motivations are always clear from the start. Simply saying that the end justifies the means wouldn't do Breakdown any justice, nor would it give writer/director Jonathan Mostow the credit he deserves, because Mostow makes such perfect use out of these means that adding depth or backstory, or sub-plots would just screw the whole thing up. It's sharp, concise, and always gets right to the point; dialogue is only spoken when necessary, but most of it is just a high-wire act set at top-speed on moving vehicles.

Secretly Awesome
Breakdown
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I sat down several months ago expecting a dirt-ball action movie to have on in the background while I surfed the internet, but ended up watching the film for ten or fifteen minutes at a time, until I finally gave up trying to surf and closed my laptop about forty minutes into the film. When I looked it up on imdb earlier today, I saw that I had rated it a four out of ten, based on my memory of seeing it when it came out. Ashamed, I quickly changed it to a ten. It is that good. I turned it on to refresh my memory while I write this, and had to pause it at the 42:20 mark because I hadn't even logged into the site yet. It is completely absorbing.

The plot is this: Kurt Russel and his wife, played by Kathleen Quinlan, are moving out West, and their car breaks down in the middle of the desert. A trucker offers to take Quinlan to a truck stop to call a tow-truck and kidnaps her. The rest of the movie is a frightened Kurt Russel running around frantically through the desert looking for her. It's not concerned with twists and turns, no big shocks or revelations; it's all laid out pretty simply in the first fifteen minutes, and the rest is watching Russel unravel as he becomes more and more desperate, isolated in a world he knows nothing of, amongst truckers and red-necks who don't care about him or his situation, with nowhere and nobody to turn to. It's beautiful.

And when I say that these characters are two-dimensional, I don't mean that it doesn't take any skill to play them. On the contrary, there are some brilliant performances not only from Russel and Quinlan, but also from J.T. Walsh, Jack Noseworthy, and M.C. Gainey as the group of seedy truckers who prey on his initial trust. Nobody in the late 90s played a shady villain like J.T. Walsh, and nobody played the ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances like Kurt Russel, who has the right physique and the perfect blend of intelligence and naiveté to pull of the everyman who gets in further and further over his head.

Mostow's direction is near-perfect. It's not showy or overly stylized, and he doesn't hide behind fast cuts when it comes to the action. He's more interested in bleeding a scene or situation dry of its inherent tension. At the 42:20 mark there have really only been a handful of scenes, which are dragged out to achieve their full potential. It's full of scenes that make Russel seem crazy to anyone who could help him, or long shots of him against an empty desert to highlight his isolation. That's the type of pace Mostow sets. It's not a typical action film, with a big set-piece delivered every twenty minutes. It's slow, it takes its time. There is a sequence later in the film that is just Russel climbing from the bottom of a moving truck's trailer to a safer spot in-between the truck itself and the trailer, where he can stand until the truck stops. It lasts for three full minutes, and it's just him struggling and grunting, trying not to be seen by the driver... and holy shit is it tense. And as I believe all great 90s action films should end in a crazy location, so ends Breakdown, but I won't give it away. See it for yourself.

Breakdown (1997)
Breakdown at the IMDb
Rated: R
Directed by: Jonathan Mostow
Written by: Jonathan Mostow and Sam Montgomery
Featuring: Kurt Russell, J. T. Walsh and Kathleen Quinlan
Plot: A man searches for his missing wife after his car breaks down in the middle of the desert.

Trailer:

Feature by Bradley Redder of This Week's Movie. Have a Secretly Awesome suggestion that you'd like to propose? Or have a past or present entry you'd like to argue about? Feel free to e-mail Brad at maxfischar@gmail.com.

Classic Movie Quote of the Week - Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Submitted by tom on February 12, 2015 - 8:35pm


 

Dr. Evil from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
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"You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently, my cycloptic colleague informs me that that can't be done. Can you remind me what I pay you people for? Honestly, throw me a bone here. What do we have?"
-Dr. Evil, played by Mike Myers

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is one of those movies I remember seeing that had a memorable movie-going experience - it was extremely funny with raucous laughter and an involved audience that truly saw the movie together. The above is one of many quotes from this classic comedy.

Got a favorite movie quote? Post it in this thread if you would like to suggest one for next week. We'll try to pick one out of the thread each week and feature it on the front page!

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at the IMDb
Rated: R
Directed by: Jay Roach
Written by: Mike Myers
Featuring: Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley
Plot: A 1960s hipster secret agent is brought out of cryofreeze to oppose his greatest enemy in the 1990s, where his social attitudes are glaringly out of place.
Trailer: Please click here.

Aside from the many quotes and the trailer of the movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is well known for its opening dance sequence. It's definitely a classic. Click here to check it out on YouTube!

Got a favorite Austin Powers quote? Post it here!

Cool Movie Poster of the Week - American Beauty (1999)

Submitted by tom on January 9, 2015 - 8:40pm


 

American Beauty
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What do you think about this movie/poster? Click here to let us know!

American Beauty (1999)
American Beauty (1999) at the IMDb
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Alan Ball
Featuring: Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening
Plot: Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend.

Trailer:

Secretly Awesome - The Negotiator (1998)

Submitted by tom on November 28, 2014 - 9:24am


 

Samuel L. Jackson plays a good cop who gets framed for stealing money from the unit's pension fund in The Negotiator. So what does an honest hostage negotiator do when faced with jail time and a tarnished reputation? Yup, he breaks into the Internal Affairs office on the top floor of a skyscraper and holds some people hostage until he can figure out who's really to blame. It's one of those thrillers from the late 90s in which every character that speaks is played by a guy you liked in five other movies but still can't pull his name, guys who can elevate a standard police drama into an exceptional thriller because they know how to deliver lines and react to each other believably. The 90s were great because of these guys, and because when Sam Jackson was in a movie, there wasn't a 50% chance he was going to be playing a parody of himself.

Secretly Awesome
The Negotiator
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Buy The Negotiator on Instant Video from Amazon

The Negotiator really gets moving when Jackson has Kevin Spacey called in, a negotiator from another department who is introduced in his home having trouble talking his wife out of the bathroom after his daughter called her fat. He comes in as a neutral party between Jackson and his former coworkers, some of which are his friends, some his betrayers. It's interesting to watch how these friends reconcile their orders and their loyalty to a friend, which is the main source of tension in the film. The opening scene shows Jackson negotiating, trying to get the hostage-taker near a window so a sniper can take him out, which is mirrored later in the film when Jackson is the man their trying to get to the window and an old friend is the one that has to take the shot. It's a fantastic sequence, and similar situations permeate the entire film. This constantly changing dynamic turns a somewhat mediocre premise into a great one as we watch Jackson and Spacey try to wade through all of the deception and figure out who it is each of them is really against.

The result is essentially a chamber drama in which a bunch of cops try to fool a guy who knows exactly what they're going to do. It's sort of like a low-rent Dog Day Afternoon, and I mean low-rent in a good way. It's pretty impressive to see how exciting it is, despite the fact that there is very little action. It's not a great film, but it's not really trying to be, either. It's just a solid thriller with an amazing cast playing noble cops and shady scumbags, and sometimes that's all we need.

The Negotiator (1998)
The Negotiator at the IMDb
Rated: R
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Written by: James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox
Featuring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey and David Morse
Plot: In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, a skilled police negotiator accused of corruption and murder takes hostages in a government office to gain the time he needs to find the truth.

Trailer:

Feature by Bradley Redder of This Week's Movie. Have a Secretly Awesome suggestion that you'd like to propose? Or have a past or present entry you'd like to argue about? Feel free to e-mail Brad at maxfischar@gmail.com.

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