The Name of the Rose (1986)

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William of Baskerville (Sean Connery) and his young apprentice Adso of Melk (Christian Slater) are called to an isolated abbey in the north of Italy, to investigate the mysterious death of a monk. William is greeted by the Abbot (Michael Lonsdale) and taken to the point where the body was said to have died. William investigates the death and attributes it to suicide. He is set to leave when another monk is found dead, however in circumstances which make it seem like foul play was involved.

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When the body of the victim is checked over, it shows that he has black finger tips and a black tongue. William becomes suspicious as he believes monks are being poisoned to protect a secret the abbey has kept for years. As the bodies begin to pile up, a group of inquisitor monks are called in to investigate claims of heresy, led by Bernado Gui (F. Murray Abraham). Bernado and William once worked together, but became enemies when Bernado tried to have William executed.

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William’s investigation takes him to the labyrinthine catacombs of the abbey, where all of the books are hidden. William believes that it’s man that is committing these killings, and not the work of the Devil as Bernado Gui would try to have others believe. However because William refuses to believe that it’s the work of the Devil, he too becomes a target of the inquisition, resulting in a race against time to save himself and others from being burned at the stake.

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I dig this movie. I love how bleak and desolate the landscape is, almost giving it a post-apocalyptic feel to the movie. Sean Connery is always worth watching in my opinion. He brings a real sense of intellect to the role, really drawing you into his world of somebody that really knows their shit. There are a lot of familiar faces on show here, even Ron Perlman who plays a mentally handicapped man living outside the abbey. Christian Slater is good enough in one of his early roles, although everyone pretty much plays second fiddle to Sean Connery who is just mesmerising. F. Murray Abraham is great as Bernado Gui, and really shows just how terrifying religion was back in the old days. Give it a watch.

4/5

JM

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Very Bad Things (1998)

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Stag night’s are a tradition that every man about to be married must undertake. Sometimes however they don’t go to plan, sometimes very bad things can happen. Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) is due to marry Laura Garrety (played by Cameron Diaz). His buddies Charles (Leland Orser), Michael (Jeremy Piven) and Adam (Daniel Stern) decide to take him to Vegas for a night out. The four guys head to Las Vegas for a night of drink, drugs and debauchery, all headed up by the borderline psychotic Robert Boyd (played to perfection by Christian Slater). Things go south however when Michael accidentally kills a prostitute whilst having sex. Rather than inform the authorities about the tragic accident, Boyd decides it will be better to cut up and get rid of the body instead. Things however, don’t go to plan.

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Things go from bad to worse when hotel security attend the room the guys are staying in. Before any explanation can be given, Boyd kills the guard and the men are left with two bodies to get rid of. As the guys attempt to return to normality, things begin to spiral out of control as paranoia and fear sets in.

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This film is the blackest of comedies. There are moments where you can’t believe you are laughing, but you find that you just can’t help it anyway. Christian Slater is fantastic as the insane Boyd, he steals every scene he is in with the fantastic delivery of his lines. It’s strange seeing Daniel Stern in a film like this after growing up watching him in Home Alone, he is great as the paranoid Adam, worrying the guys indiscretions will come to light. Jon Favreau is brilliant as the hen pecked Kyle, with Cameron Diaz brilliant as the selfish, spoilt Laura. Jeremy Piven is brilliant as the crazy, impulsive Michael and Leland Orser brings his neurotic shtick as Charles.

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Peter Berg has been hit and miss when it comes to directing, with Hancock and Battleship being a waste of celluloid. He does well here and directs a wonderfully dark comedy that is well worth seeking out.

4/5

JM

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