Hello all. My name is David Bril and I have been given the privilege of writing some movie reviews for this great page. So I figured I would at least introduce myself first, give you a brief history of myself (as far as movies go) and give you a list of the movies that have most mattered to me, during my life to date.
So I have no formal training when it comes to reviewing movies, nor have I ever worked on a movie in any way shape or form. My passion for film criticism started in 1999, when late one Sat night I happened to catch an episode of Ebert at the movies. At this stage he was having a weekly special guest join him and in this case it was at the time Entertainment Weekly Film Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum. There was just something about them arguing about the films that really stuck with me, and soon after I was going to horror movies with my buddies and reviewing the films.
From that date forward I would watch Ebert at the Movies religiously, until the day it went off the air.
It would be September of 1999 were my love for movies would truly begin. It was then I saw American Beauty and I thought WOW! It was a masterpiece and I couldn’t stop raving about it. When I found out that the critics loved it as well, it was the start of my love for Cinema and Film Criticism. Since 1999 I have made it my mission to see as many films in the calendar year that I can and I always finish the year with my personal list of the Best and Worst movies of the year, which I would post to Facebook for my friends to see. So that is a very brief history of how I feel in love with Film Criticism, and how Roger Ebert was a huge influence on me.
Now what I would like to do is tell you about some of the films that have had a huge impact on my life. By no way is this a list of my all time favorite movies (as you will see by some of the grades), but a list of movies that I would consider Hall of Fame worthy to my life, movies that truly impacted my life in some way or another. So lets take a look at my Hall of Fame movies!
I can’t remember what my first movie in theaters was, nor can anyone in my family (much to my annoyance!) but I can say that the first time I can remember watching a movie a the theater was Home Alone. Needless to say, I was just like every other kid who saw Home Alone in theaters and totally in love with the film. I was obsessed with the traps that young Kevin set up although his trying to catch the two house burglars who tried to invade his home. I would literally set up some of the same traps at my own house and play with my friends (safely of course!). Home Alone was the first movie that I can say I was truly obsessed with and I sorta hold a soft spot in my heart for the film. Don’t get me wrong , I can see why it wasn’t well liked by critics….kids setting up traps that would CLEARLY kill a person in real life! Yet Home Alone is a movie I love to watch around Christmas time, smiling the whole way through, remembering the good old days!
Grade : B
D2: The Mighty Ducks 2
Home Alone may have been the first movie I was obsessed with, but it would be D2 that would to this very day be the movie I was most obsessed with ever! D2 is of course a sequel to The Mighty Ducks a fun little film about a bunch of “loser” kids who form a hockey team and go on to actually be quite good. When I went to watch D2, I had never actually seen the first Mighty Ducks film, my mom just happened to find a deal at the video store and pick it up for us. I watched it and I simply loved it! In fact I loved it so much that I wanted Mighty Ducks EVERYTHING (The Mighty Ducks being a real Hockey team in the NHL, who’s logo was used in the end of D2). I told everyone that I played in an international hockey club and I was team US Ducks! This was a flat out OBSESSION for me! Watching D2 now just warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. However it is hard to overlook the clearly awful moments of the film (The Ducks coach being in love with the Iceland coach, the “10 seconds left” moments that stretch out for 5 mins) and it isn’t something I go out of my way to watch anymore. Still if it appears on my TV I may sit an watch a bit of it here and there.
Unlike the last two entries The Sandlot is a movie I still absolutely love to this very day! I went to the video store with my mom one day and I just happened to grab The Sandlot, a movie about a group of boys who play Baseball down at their local sandlot. What I wasn’t expecting was that I would see a movie that would LITERALLY tell the story of my childhood and “The Street Gang” I hung out with. I watched The Sandlot in awe as I saw the characters play baseball, have camp fires and just cause general trouble around their neighborhood…the same way all my buddies and I used to do around out street! It was like I was watching a movie about me and by did I love it! I would revisit The Sandlot many years later when I was working with Children and I bought a copy and watched it with them. I still loved it and I still felt like it literally mimicked my childhood! Watching it with a group of children I was now teaching, who loved it as much as I did was a highlight of my early career.
Disney Masterpiece Collection Movies
This entry refers to not a single movie but a whole list of movies from Disney, that was named the Masterpiece Collection. It consisted of classics like Bambi, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Pete’s Dragon, as well as the new classics like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. My sister and I of course loved the Disney cartoon movies as kids and we owned a fair selection of those films. What we started to notice was that some of them had a purple banner that said Masterpiece Collection. We became obsessed with getting all of those films in the series and we would convince my mother to get us a new one every week or so. We could make lists of the one’s that we didn’t have and try and figure out were we could buy them. It was truly a team effort for us and we would of course watch the movies together endlessly. Disney would eventually stop with that line of films and turn it into the Gold Collection, and my sister and I stopped collecting.
Grade: (some of the more standout films for the collection) Aladdin (A), Beauty and the Beast (A+), The Little Mermaid (A), Bambi (A+), Snow White (A+), The Lion King (A), Sleeping Beauty (B+)
The Friday the 13th Series
The number once question I get asked from people who follow my reviews is, “How can you like the Jason Movies”. Well it is simple, they are the ultimate guilty pleasure for me, representing a childhood passion for horror movies! I watched my very first Friday the 13th movie when I was around 6 years old, at my cousins house. We watched part 7 and I was HOOKED instantly! I found the film to be scary, funny and just have some of the most unique and violent kills of any of the horror movies I would watch. I made it my mission to see all of the films in the series and I would go to the video store weekly trying to land the one’s I hadn’t seen yet. I watched each one in amazement at what was the brilliance of the Jason Character! Then it happened, I saw a preview on TV for a NEW JASON MOVIE that was coming to theaters…JASON GOES TO HELL! I was jumping for joy! Of course it was rated R and I couldn’t see it. So when it finally came out on VHS I went to the video store almost EVERY day trying to land a copy! FINALLY I got one and I watched what I thought was a masterpiece! And that ENDING! OH THAT ENDING!! But more on that later! Even when I started to think like a critic I still absolutely loved the Jason movies and I was excited to see Jason X and the reboot of Friday the 13th in theaters! What can I say, everyone has a guilty pleasure and mine is Mr. Hockey Mask himself!
Grades : Part 1 (D), Part 2 (B), Part 3 (B), Part 4 (A), Part 5 (F), Part 6 (A+), Part 7 (A), Part 8 (B+), Jason Goes to Hell ( A), Jason X (B), Reboot (B+)
The Rocky Series
I was watching Step by Step one day after school, as I normally did around that time (I believe when I was in grade 7 or so) and one of the characters made a reference to Rocky 3 and how Rocky fights Mr. T. Considering I was a huge Sly Stallone fan a kid, it sparked and interest in me and I went out that night and bought Rocky 3. I watched it with my sister and needless to say we absolutely loved it! This resulted in my sister going out and buying the other (at the time) 4 movies in the series. We sat down and watched them all in one epic summer sitting. We became obsessed with the films and we would do the work outs with Rocky during each films training segment. We loved the first 4 films greatly and we just laughed out loud at the all around awfulness of part 5. A few years later I would pretty much start my journey with great cinema and my love for the Rocky films kinda died off a bit. So I was stunned to see that Stallone had actually made a 6th Rocky movie in 2006 and I instantly placed it on my Least Anticipated films of the year list. It would be one of the greatest pleasant surprises I would ever have with films, when Rocky Balboa didn’t suck! In fact it was a damn solid film and a beautiful way to finish Rocky’s boxing journey ( I know another film is coming out in this series with Rocky as a manager now). The Rocky Series represented my peak as a fan of Sly Stallone and is one of the great bonding experiences I had with my sister in our young age.
Grades: Rocky (A), Rocky 2 (B), Rocky 3 (B), Rocky 4 (C+), Rocky 5 (D), Rocky Balboa (B+)
The first time I ever watched Forrest Gump was at my Grandmothers house some time in 1995. I instantly loved the film, even if I didn’t understand a lot of the historical moments in the film. This would actually be my introduction to Tom Hanks, who would go on to be one of my all time favorite actors. After that first viewing of the film, I would watch Forrest Gump over and over, everything I would go to my Grandma’s house. I was just in love with the story, the characters and the feel good nature of the film. I wanted first to get Jenny! I wanted Lt. Dan to over come his demons! I wanted Forrest’s mother to live forever! It was just a perfect film to me. Forrest Gump would actually share two very important honors in my life, many years later. When I first started making a list of my favorite films of all time, I picked Forrest Gump as my #1 ( that has changed since then). Also when I worked at Famous Players in 2002, Forrest Gump was the first film I choose to be on my name badge. Forrest Gump is still just a perfect movie to me, something I could watch any day and just enjoy myself for 3 hours. It helps now that I can appreciate, all its brilliant historic references, amazing special effects, excellent score and of course masterful acting from just about everyone in the film. I just smiled thinking about all the greatness in this film and that is the power Forrest Gump will always hold over me.
Grade : A+
In 1995 I was well into my obsessions with the Disney masterpiece collection films, and animated movies were pretty much my life. I would go to the theaters the opening day for Toy Story, the first fully digital animated movie ever made and the first film from a company working with Disney, called Pixar. I watched the film in complete amazement! It was the most stunning and beautiful film I had ever seen! I went to school the next Monday raving about this brilliant piece of art I had just seen on the screen! I would return to the theaters a RECORD (that still stands TODAY) 7 times to watch Toy Story again and again. I just loved this movie, I loved every second of it, and I simply could not get enough of this film. The day it came out on VHS my mom bought us a copy and I would watch it over and over again and again! I am almost positive it is the film I have watched the most in my life. I loved Toy Story so much that I was actually disappointed when I first saw Toy Story 2 ( a FANTASTIC FILM! ) because it wasn’t as good as the first. It would be in 2009 where I would actually get the pleasure of seeing Toy Story for an 8th time in theaters when I joined my then girlfriend and one of my best friends and her niece, for a viewing of Toy Story in 3D. On any given day if I am asked what is my favorite movie of all time I might say Toy Story. It is either #1 or #2 for me and I have flipped flopped on that matter many of times over the last 10 years (more on the other film in a minute.). However Toy Story will always be the movie that I will have the most history with, and the most memorable experiences with. Toy Story is as perfect as a movie gets and is a movie I simply can not wait to show my kids one day.
Grade : A+
All of the movies I have listed above and all of the films I list below this entry were important cinematic movies that shaped my passion for the cinema as it stands today, however no film is more important in my journey then American Beauty. See in late 1998 I decided with my best friend that we would go to all the horror movies we could in theaters. That would lead to us just going to the movies every Sat night and seeing anything that wasn’t rated R. It would be Sept of 1999 that my best friend and I would go to the movie theater and notice that American Beauty was playing and it was rated 14A meaning we could see it. We had seen the trailer for this film and we thought it would be a nudity filled fest and we bought our tickets. What I saw was one of the most brilliant pieces of movie making of all time, a film so funny, so honest, so well acted…nearly everything about this film was flawless. I sat there for the entire film breathless. I was captivated, every scene meant something and it was so stunningly beautiful. When I left American Beauty I was so blown away that wanted to find more films like that, more films that could take me on a cinematic journey as rich and satisfying as American Beauty was. It lead my to read Entertainment Weekly and find more movies that critics loved. I would ended up seeing Magnolia and Being John Malchovich, two films that just blew me away! It was from that point forward that I would no longer just see anything in the theaters, I would spend my money on films that were acclaimed by the critics, in hope that each one of them would make me feel the way American Beauty did. I will never forget watching American Beauty on DVD with my sister and after it was over she turned to and said ” Man that film is so good!”…couldn’t say it better myself!
Grade : A+
Freddy vs Jason
Well as I mentioned above, I am a huge fan of the Friday the 13th film series, and after seeing the ending of Jason Goes to Hell, I was absolutely stocked to see Jason do battle with the other 80’s horror icon Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series (a series I like as well but not as much as Friday the 13th). Of course that movie never came and I figured we would never see it. Then in 2002 Jason X came out and it did well enough that they final decided it was time to make a Freddy vs Jason movie. When the film was made official I just about screamed in joy! This was going to be the biggest event movie of my entire life! As soon as they announced the date of release I started a count down to the film and all I could talk about was how badly I wanted to see that film. As the date got closer and closer my excitement had reached a level that will likely never ever been matched again by a movie. I was working at a movie theater at the time of its release and I happened to notice that on the Thrus, one day before the film officially opened I could see Freddy vs Jason at 8 pm! I was going nuts! I told my best friend and it was official, we were gonna see the movie one day in advance! The day of the film my buddy meet me at the theater and I was just finishing my shift, when the great BLACK OUT of 2003 happened! I was nearly CRUSHED! I was so close and now I was not going to be able to see the movie event of my life time! I felt like Bart when Homer didn’t allow him to see the Itch and Scratchy movie. Thankfully my theater had a back up generator and the screening was back on! Sitting in that theater I could never ever explain the feeling I had. When the film finally started I was just going insane! So surely with me hyping up the movie that much, I must have been disappointed right…NO! I was BLOWN AWAY! Freddy vs Jason was EVERYTHING I WANTED and then some! It was perfect! I did everything right and I loved every single second of it! I waited 10 years for that film and they did it perfectly! Freddy vs Jason was without a doubt in my mind the greatest event movie of my life. I am positive I will never ever match the excitement, the pleasure and the satisfaction, that came with Freddy vs Jason.
Grade : A
Sideways is my personal favorite movie of all time and I knew it was the second the movie finished. Sideways a masterful american film about two life long friends who take a road trip to California wine country, before one of the gets married. The reason I love Sideways so deeply is because the film was literally a mirror image to the friendship I have with my best friend of many years. If you replaced Wine with movies, Miles (me) and Jack (Jimmy my best friend) were nearly spot on doubles of us. I saw Sideways by myself in Sept of 2004 and as soon as it was over I called Jim and said ” YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THIS FILM!” A month later it would finally make its way to our local cinema (in this case Jackson Square) and Jim and I went and saw it. Jim said the same thing I did when it ended and he loved it just as much as I did. I actually saved the stub from that movie-going experience because it meant so much to me and I still have it to this very day. Where the Sandlot was the perfect movie to represent my childhood, Sideways was the perfect representation of my adult life. I love Sideways so much that I have played it for every girlfriend I have ever had since it came out, I have convinced numerous friends to see this movie and when I made my very own personal Hall of Fame, representing my life, Sideways was the very first film I selected to enter that Hall. I watch Sideways at least once a year and it is the only film that I could see actually surpassing Toy Story as the most watched film in my life. Please do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already seen Sideways, find a copy and watch it! You will love it I am sure!
Grade : A+
The Films of Tim Burton
Tim Burton films have always been a part of my life, even when I didn’t realize it when it was happening. So in 2002 after seeing the spectacular Big Fish I declared that Tim Burton was my favorite director and I went back to see what films were in his catalog. Much to my surprise it was listed with classic movies that had actually meant so much to me as a child! Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was Tim Burton’s first film, a film that I loved to death and would always watch when I went to my God Parents house, memories that mean so much to me. Batman Returns was one of my most pleasant film going experiences ever, as my sister, mom and I were the only one’s in the theater and well it is just an AWESOME Batman movie! Edward Scissorhands a beloved film from childhood that my sister and I just adored. Factor in Batman, Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hallow all films I loved and it was very clear to me I made the right choice picking Burton as my fav director! I would watch with great pleasure his next few films such as Sweeny Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I love the visual style of a Burton film, which are always flooded with brilliant, dark production designs. When Burton followed those films with Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows his two most awful films to date I thought I was falling out of love with Burton. That is until Frankenweenie would restore my faith! Tim Burton is a director who’s films I not only love but who’s films have always been a major part of my life.
Grades of select films: Batman Returns (A), Edward Scissorhands (A), Big Fish (A), Alice in Wonderland ( C), Dark Shadows (D), Frankenweenie (A)
The Films of Steven Spielberg
As were Tim Burton movies played a major role in my own personal life, I would have to imagine that the films of Steven Spielberg have played important parts in just about EVERYONE’s life history…considering he is the greatest film director of all time. I am just like everyone else and as I kid I watched E.T and just loved everything about it. It is one of the greatest movies of all time and will continue to life on for generations to come. Hook would actually be the first real Spielberg movie I would be obsessed with and though it is pretty lame today, as a kid I couldn’t get enough of it. Jurassic Park was just epic to me! As a kid who absolutely loved Dinosaurs, watching Spielberg bring them to life in the film was a personal favorite childhood memory of mine. I would watch Saving Private Ryan theaters with two of my all time best friends and all 3 of us sat there in silence the entire length of the film…it was a masterpiece. I loved getting into arguments with people over the brilliance of A.I and Minority Report with people…two films that pretty much predicted our future DEAD ON! One of my greatest moving going experiences was in 2011 when I would see a Spielberg double feature, as I watched War Horse and Tin Tin back to back in theaters in the same day. Of course I have gone back and watched all his other films as well and been blown away by the action in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the overwhelming sadness and heartbreak of Schindler’s List, the horror of Jaws and the perfection of Duel! Almost everyone of Spielberg’s movies has a story I could tell about my times watching them. He is the absolute best at what he does and his films are always events for me!
Grades for selected films : Duel (A), Jaws (A+), Raiders of the Lost Ark (A+), E.T (A+), Hook (C+), Schindler’s List (A+), A.I (A+), Minority Report (A+), Saving Private Ryan (A+)
The Films of Paul Thomas Anderson
I may consider Steven Spielberg to be the greatest director of all time, but he would rank #2 as my personal favorite direct because that honor would go to Paul Thomas Anderson or PTA as he is widely known. I would first be introduced to PTA when my best friend rented Boogie Nights and called me to tell me you get to see Heather Graham naked. So of course I went right out and rented Boogie Nights. Yes I saw Graham in all her glory but what I wasn’t expecting was how brilliant and powerful this film was going to be. I was hooked right in and ended up watching the movie in full, loving every second of it. So in early 2000 when I saw that PTA’s follow up Magnolia, a film that was making just about every critics top 10 list of 99, was playing at the Upper James Cinema, I took my best friend at the time and we watched it. Even my buddy who is normally a fan of only action films, was blown away by the 3 hour epic that was Magnolia, a stunning film that was an absolute masterpiece! In 2002 I would have one of my all time top movie going experiences, when I would see PTA’s next film with my very best friend in the world. It was a visual stunner, with a Oscar worth performance from Adam Sandler, finally making a “Sandler” movie grounded in reality. When the credits started to roll on the screen was “Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson” and my buddy said ” A+ MASTERPIECE”…I couldn’t agree more. In late 2007 I would make a trip to Toronto with my movie going buddy, just to see PTA’s next film, the American classic There Will Be Blood. And in 2012 I would sit alone in a theater for nearly 3 hours watching the brilliant The Master, one of the very best films of this decade. PTA films are absolute events for me! I simply can not get enough of the way PTA just makes EVERY SINGLE detail in his films count for something. Everything has to be perfect and always is! PTA is my director and I have decided that I will see each of his films with somebody new each time, so I can have a different experience to share with each film and hopefully turn others onto his films.
Grades for all PTA Films to date : Hard Eight (A), Boogie Nights (A+), Magnolia (A+), Punch Drunk Love (A+), There Will be Blood (A+), The Master (A+)
So there you have just a brief history of my personal cinematic experiences, and the movies that have helped shaped me into the film lover I am today. I look forward to reviewing the films that come out in theaters on a weekly basis and I hope you enjoy reading them!