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One of the lesser-known collaborations between De Niro and Scorsese, the actor-director duo make this thriller remake absolutely shine.
Robert De Niro owns the screen as Max – a convicted rapist who just finished his prison sentence – who comes for revenge against the defense attorney who failed to keep him out of prison.
De Niro goes toe-to-toe with Nick Nolte – in one of the latter’s best roles – and Jessica Lange is riveting as the ailing wife. However, it’s a young Juliette Lewis as their daughter who really shines, and earned an Oscar nomination.
It’s frightening, edge-of-your-seat action with superb performances, and steadfast direction from Scorsese. In a change of pace for the mob-movie heavy careers of De Niro and the director, this marks a great departure for both.
Into The Wild
For anyone who loves a good adventure movie, this is one of the best.
The story of student and athlete Chris who gives up his savings and possessions to live in the wilderness is so poignant and profound.
He hitchhikes to Alaska to forge a new life, and encounters all kinds of strange people and situations on the way.
Directed and adapted for the screen by star Sean Penn, this is one of the crowning achievements of the later part of the man’s career.
Emile Hirsch – mostly known for crime drama Alpha Dog when this flick came out – proved he could carry a movie here. With a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Hal Holbrook, a straight-face performance from comedian Vince Vaughn and support from lovable stars Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, John Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden, this flick is stacked with great performances.
This is a rare film that does the book justice – it may even be better. It has earned its place as one of the best films of the last 20 years.
This sex comedy quite literally made me gag and double over laughing in the theatre.
I saw it six times – always bringing people who hadn’t seen it with me. Blockers, ostensibly, is about a group of parents who try to stop their daughters’ sex pact on prom night.
But this film is so much more than the sum of that sexist, frankly awful logline. It’s an exploration of young women’s sexuality, and the power they wield to take control of their own journeys.
It’s sex-positive, features a prominent LGBTQ+ storyline, and is one of the most progressive comedies I’ve seen in years.
John Cena proves once and for all he can hack it as a comedic actor, Leslie Mann is triumphant and fantastic as always and the young cast rarely misses a beat.
But keep an eye out for Ike Barinholtz, who sheds his Mindy Project skin and steals this movie. This is one you won’t soon forget.
Ah, the raunchy National Lampoon comedy that catapulted Ryan Reynolds into super-stardom.
It’s totally silly, crude, and hasn’t aged well, but my God, Van Wilder makes me laugh.
It follows Wilder, the most popular guy on campus at Coolidge College, who is cut off by his wealthy father after wasting seven years at school and not picking a major or graduating.
He must then fundraise to get his tuition, all the while eluding a beautiful student journalist trying to get the story on who he really is under the hard-partying demeanour.
Reynolds’ delightful charm and wit hold the movie high, and Tara Reid, who was hugely popular at the time, is well-cast here. Joined by a young Kal Penn – pre Harold & Kumar days – Tim Matheson, The Breakfast Club’s Paul Gleason and more, this is a hugely fun flick.
Just please, please, please, keep the viewings 14+. This is not your family option.
Sons Of Anarchy
This incredible FX show ended six years ago, and I still haven’t found a suitable replacement.
Kurt Sutter – in taking Shakespeare’s Hamlet and weaving it into his own intricate, multi-layered show about biker gangs – made one of the best shows of all time.
Central character Jax is trapped between wanting the best for his family and serving SamCro, the gang that his father, step-father and many before him were a part of.
He’s consistently balancing loyalties and wondering if this is the life his long-deceased father wanted for him.
The violent, tight, remarkably plotted show gives us characters we care about. Charlie Hunnam is hugely entertaining as Jax, and the whole cast gives their all.
This show is unpredictable, next-level, and features some of the best writing I’ve seen come to screen. Season one is available on Netflix now, but I hear the rest are coming.
Jordan Parker's weekly film reviews can be found on his blog, Parker & The Picture Shows.