FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Francis Ford Coppola |||
Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola is an amazing talent whose inspiration and influence spans many generations. Virtually the link between the studio system of yesteryear and the independent minded filmmaker of the modern age, Coppola became the first major film director to emerge from a university degree program in filmmaking, thus legitimizing a now common route for many future filmmakers.

This Academy Award winner continues to enjoy an enormous critical and popular success due in large part to Coppola’s ability to break down an epic saga of crime and the struggle for power into the basic story of a father and his sons, punctuating the prevalent theme throughout Coppola’s oeuvre: the importance of family in today’s world. His personal portrait mixed tender moments with harsh brutality and redefined the genre of gangster films.

This intense, yet unassuming thriller has an impact that touches the viewer on a personal level and raises the question of privacy and security in a world of technology – thirty years ago! Coppola’s then virtually unknown cast is a roster of inevitable superstars, including Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, and Robert Duvall. This Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound lost out to Coppola’s other great effort of the year, The Godfather: Part II.

Coppola's masterful Vietnam War-updating of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was the first major motion picture about the infamous “conflict”. This colossal epic was shot on location in the Philippines over the course of more than a year and contains some of the most extraordinary combat footage ever filmed. Unforgettable battle sequences and sterling performances from every cast member (including Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, and Martin Sheen) mark this Academy Award-winning drama as a must-see for any true film fanatic.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Alien Trespass

By BrianOrndorf

April 1st, 2009

I hate to mention it out of respect to the producers of "Alien Trespass," but the 1950's sci-fi lampoon genre was bled dry by the astoundingly unfunny 2004 picture, "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra."

Alien Trespass

Thankfully, “Trespass,” while wading dangerously in toxic self-aware waters, heads the opposite direction, imagining a B-level monster outbreak movie as a real artifact from the bygone era. The patience and concentration of the film to not wink itself into a coma is amazing to behold, and I was flabbergasted over just how engrossing and playful the picture is. The exterior promises another punishing “Cadavra” headache, but the feature is quite skillful and inventive. And most importantly, it’s not entirely camp.

When a flying saucer hits a small Californian mountain town, the local police (including Dan Lauria and Robert Patrick) attempt to squelch rumors and proper investigation by forbidding the community to approach the ship. However, resident astronomer Ted Lewis (Eric McCormack) finds his way inside, only to have his body inhabited by interstellar hunter Urp. Returning to town, Urp exhibits strange alien behavior while tracking the Ghota, rubbery one-eyed creatures that have come to Earth to destroy all humans. While the town panics, Urp teams up with waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird) to capture the dangerous Ghota and blast them into space where they belong.

“Alien Trespass” opens with faux newsreel footage from 1957, immediately setting forth the hope that director R.W. Goodwin (a vet of television productions) might be able to grab the audience and make them believe in the giddy spirit at the core of what he’s about to manufacture. There’s no Ed Wood-style bad movie parade or insipid self-congratulations here: Goodwin wants to recreate the square vibe of a 50’s alien invasion chiller. Barring the presence of modern technology during the saucer sequences and unavoidably glossy cinematography, he achieves his goal with style and charm, making “Trespass” more of a valentine than a smirking mockery.

Goodwin’s dedication rewards the viewer with traditional monster movie escapism, generously dishing up a retro feel to “Trespass” that pays splendid homage to the creepers and chillers of yesteryear. The filmmaker truly believes in what he’s making and is not just playing the concept for cheap, dull jokes. It’s an achievement worth celebrating in today’s ironic times, and I appreciated the effort. That’s not to suggest “Trespass” is a dour motion picture; in fact, it’s quite lively, liberally deploying small town cop and dim-witted civilian archetypes within a low-budget movie setting, leaving room to play with, not underline, artificial locations, limited photography, and stiff acting. “Trespass” remains a good-humored romp because of the affection, whisking the viewer back to a day when a guy in a rubber suit was the height of terror, and the only thing more heinous to an adult than a body-melting monster was a teenager in full greaser attire.

Credit must be paid to the ensemble of “Trespass,” who turn in fantastic work blending era-specific theatricality with straight-faced commitment. Noted ham McCormack is perhaps the strongest element here, deftly working his nerdly, pipe-sucking routine as Ted while his robot monotone wins as Urp. There’s not a single point in the film where any of the actors shatter Goodwin’s spell. The cast remains committed to the concept, and the filmmaking encourages their efforts.

After being burned so thoroughly by “Cadavra,” the thought of another 50’s B-movie recreation carnival brought me nothing but absolute dread. Mercifully, “Alien Trespass” is a delightful experience, lovingly made by clever individuals who know how to throttle their enthusiasm creatively, not obnoxiously.

My rating: B+