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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rumble Fish: the Zen of Alienation
Rumble fish could almost be a European film with its stark black and white photography, edgy camera work, slow action, and emphasis on character portrayal. Almost, but not quite because the urban landscape, while not Hollywood, reinforces the loneliness, poverty, and silent decay of an American inner city. Shot in New York, we are shown the alienation of a youth...
Published on 20 Jun 2008 by Caitlin Owen

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Style over content
No need to go into the plot, which is covered by other reviewers. No need to point out the superlative performances by Matt Dillon as the hero-worshipping Rusty James (always called RustyJames, never by his first name) and Mickey Rourke as the enigmatic Motorcycle Boy. Dillon's bruised beauty is hypnotic, and comparisons with James Dean, and Brando in The Wild One The...
Published on 26 Nov 2008 by Peter Scott-presland


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rumble Fish: the Zen of Alienation, 20 Jun 2008
By 
Caitlin Owen (Bristol, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Rumble fish could almost be a European film with its stark black and white photography, edgy camera work, slow action, and emphasis on character portrayal. Almost, but not quite because the urban landscape, while not Hollywood, reinforces the loneliness, poverty, and silent decay of an American inner city. Shot in New York, we are shown the alienation of a youth subculture where anger is channeled into the pointless confrontations of gang warfare.

The title of the film 'Rumble fish' is the metaphor for understanding the main characters' portrayal. Trapped in a tank 'Rumble fish' attack their own reflection, and we are asked to wonder whether they might also do this if free.

The action focuses on two brothers. One wild and the leader of a gang, the other a loner, who rides a motorbike, and has a zen like aura. What draws these two together is the search for who they are. Do they have memories of their mother? Was she mad? Is she alive? Their conversation is desultory and like the hypnotic pace of the film. Their father, speaks of her, as, every now and again, someone is born who looks at life in a different way. She remains a mystery, and there are no answers.

The film's ending is poignant. It is so unlike Coppola's other films it is not surprisingly it was not a success in the States. However it has power, a strange beauty and the characterisation of alienated youth is arresting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic cinematography, 29 Aug 2008
By 
Film Buff (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Rumble Fish is something of an undiscovered gem (not often shown on TV, but loved by those that have seen it)

The story isn't terribly original and follows similar lines to 50s teen movies such as Rebel Without A Cause (think alienated youths, alcoholic parents, knife fights, seedy pool halls, biker gangs etc)

But what makes this film special is the incredible cinematography. Almost every frame could be frozen and put on your wall (it really is amazing)

Add to that some very good acting, plus a real sense of atmosphere and style and you have a very good film, that you can watch over & over again.

The film is almost entirely shot in B&W (but there are just a few brief splashes of colour) This is partly, to evoke a 1950s feel, but also because Rourke's character is colour blind.

The picture has a very slight grain & mild green hue, but this again is intentional. Overall the picture quality is good, with solid black levels and no dirt or scratches.

The soundtrack also dips in out & out, to show how Rourke's character hears things (he's partially deaf as well) But overall sound quality is very good (no hiss or crackles)

The 5.1 mix doesn't have a great deal happening in the rear speakers, but there is some left/right action and a good deep bass. The music is effective and adds to the atmosphere.

If you have never seen this & enjoy 50s style films (or films that are a little different) then I strongly recommend giving this a try.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the last great Coppola film... a modern classic., 9 Jan 2008
Rumble Fish is a strange and hypnotic film that follows the character of Rusty James, a young punk growing up in a small sleepy mid-western town, shackled to a drunken father, a group of fickle friends, and continually in the shadow of his enigmatic brother, The Motorcycle Boy. The film, although seemingly set in the present day, uses the style of the old 50's melodramas to great effect, referencing the likes of Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One with it's stark, stylised black and white photography and it's bizarre compositions, whilst director Francis Ford Coppola uses a number of audio and visual effects familiar from his previous films, most notably, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now and One From the Heart, to give the film a strange, hypnotic and dreamlike quality that lingers throughout the film.

As with many of the other films that it references, the plot to Rumble Fish is quite simple, with Coppola building the film around the enigma of The Motorcycle Boy and around the ideas of family ties, small-town ennui and personal redemption. Although Rusty James is the film's central character, he is constantly overshadowed by his mysterious brother, who seems almost shell-shocked by whatever it is that he's witnessed during his years away from home. He is certainly one of the most interesting characters from any of Coppola's greater films, and is perfectly brought to life by Mickey Rourke in what is possibly his greatest performance ever (although, I think he's equally spellbinding in both Angel Heart and Year of the Dragon). Here, Rourke possess all the cool and feckless attitude of Brando and James Dean, but he also brings that damaged, somewhat alienated quality to role, which suggests so much about the characters and his past and also, about the possible future of the younger Rusty James.

The cinematic style of the film is exquisite, with Coppola invoking a real period feel through the use of photography and production design, which jars beautifully against Stuart Copeland's very 80's, very anachronistic score. The percussion suits the staccato editing style that Coppola uses in the first few scenes (which highlights the escalating boredom of the characters), whilst the use of time-lapse photography (inspired by the film Koyaanisqatsi, which Coppola produced) works perfectly in demonstrating the idea of time frittering away. The black and white photography works well, conveying the literally "black and white" view point of Rusty James, whilst the titular rumble fish (glimpsed through the window of the local pet store) are the only objects in the film that appear in colour (a nice metaphor). The sound design is purposely muddy, attempting to convey along with the images that skewed, slightly alienated view of the world that these characters possess, whilst Copeland's music also merges with the sound design to heighten the overall atmosphere of the film.

The acting is strong throughout, with Rourke coming across as the real standout, although the performance of Matt Dillon as the hotheaded and arrogant Rusty James is also impressive. The supporting cast features a wide array of cult performers and (then) unknowns that have now gone on to greater things, notably Dennis Hopper, Diane Lane, William Smith, Laurence Fishburne, Nicolas Cage, Tom Waits and Chris Penn. After Rumble Fish, Coppola would produce the problematic Cotton Club (possibly underrated), before cementing his reputation as something of a has-been with the third Godfather film, and throwaways like Jack, Peggy Sue Got Married and The Rainmaker. Because of this, Rumble Fish stands as something of a relic to the time when he was one of the most interesting American directors of his era... and is probably a film to rival the greatness of The Godfather, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rourke & Dillion give performances of there careers, 31 Mar 2012
((THE FILM))Rusty James is an up-and-coming street hoodlum, lamenting the salad days of the gangs when his older brother, The Motorcycle Boy, ran things as President of the Packers. Before disappearing two months earlier, Motorcycle Boy outlawed gang wars, or "rumbles," by a treaty. When Rusty James breaks the treaty in a fight with Biff Wilcox, and gets seriously hurt, his brother suddenly appears. Distracted, delusional and enigmatic, his brother seems haunted and disinterested in his past as a "neighbourhood novelty." Over the next few days, James' dead end life of posturing seems to fall apart; he loses his girlfriend, his friends, his own sense of confidence. The future looms like a dark, unknown wall locking James in. Through Motorcycle Boy's example, he finally learns to break free from others' expectations, and his own inner demons.
WHAT CAN I SAY?
Rourke & Dillion give performances of there careers.also have the likes of Nic Cage, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, and Chris Penn in the supporting cast, you know it's a once-in-a-lifetime movie. The look of the film - a sparse black-and-white urban landscape - is perfect, as is Stewart Copeland's atmospheric music.what really singles this out as a bona fide classic is its spot-on portrayal of disaffected youth.
But sadly ((Rumble Fish)) is a very underrated movie and Coppola's Most Underrated Work..
it is probably one off the best films of the 1980s. In a decade where art-house films
seemed to be a lost thought, "Rumble Fish" stands out as one of the few .. it is forgotten classic
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterclasses in Film Production, 24 Mar 2009
By 
C. B. Shread "CBS" (Devon, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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If you want to watch a classic film, or want to know how to make an amazing film, then "don't watch Rumble Fish" would be a stupid thing for someone to tell you. This film is amazing. Francis Ford Coppola gives a brilliant commentary, and at moments goes off on tangents about his film philosophies, which I found quite inspirational.
Ratings:
General Story 9/10 - I love the story. Based on S.E Hinton's novel, the main theme being time running out and being about these characters going nowhere in life. It's about a kid called Rusty James who wants to be the leader of gangs. It is very entertaining, yet extremely sophisticated, touching on what insanity truly is, existentialism, poverty, neglecting parents, violence, growing up and probably many other themes and issues I haven't noticed. It's also very stylised and not very naturalistic at times - almost like a musical, but not tacky or too extreme.
Soundtrack 10/10 - the score is very original and without a doubt an exceptional achievement; with it's entirely percussion based elements; it was a landmark in style.
Cinematography 8/10 - pretty brilliant. Although I generally prefer free camera style, (e.g. Children Of Men) this was very impressive in it's black and white film noire style. I think it could have been slightly more beautiful/impressive.
Directing 10/10 - astounding. Coppola at his best; the Direction of the whole town scenes is very impressive. And the way the whole story is represented and put together is evidently the vision of a genius.
Production Design 9/10 - wonderful. The world of the characters is built brilliantly - you get a strong sense of place with the amount of detail put in.
Acting 9/10 - very good acting. Micky Rourke is brilliant as The Motorcycle Boy and mat Dillon does a very nice job as Rusty James. Dennis Hopper is wonderful as the father of the boys.
Editing 7/10 - nothing exceptional, but the story is told very well with good pace. The cut ins of time-lapse clouds and shadows works beautifully.

It would take too long to list all the constituents, so I'll it a total of 8.5/10. But that's just my opinion, you might love it more. I doubt you'll hate it though.

Overall, Rumble Fish is a marvellous film, which is very entertaining as well as being very intelligent and sophisticated. It is an essential film for any film student, film buff or anyone who wants to just watch a brilliant movie. If you are bored and want to watch something, watch this. If you want to watch something that can make you think about your life or you want to be transported into a world of rebellious teens, insanity, fights, existential speeches, then watch this.

Thanks
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cinematic experience, 4 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Mickey Rourke, Dennis Hopper, Matt Dillon and Nic Cage all play there part in making this one of the coolest films i have ever seen. All the actors, although Rourke is curiously compelling, are over shadowed by Francis Ford Coppella's direction. Black and white, time-lapse skies and superbly crafted scenes make this film unforgettable and avidly watchable. The music score is also brilliant, unique and equally unforgetable. Watch it, buy it and enjoy...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavily medicated, 14 Mar 2008
This review is from: Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This peculiar 1983 Coppola black and white movie was a box office flop but has it has come to develop a cult following over the years.
This `art film for kids' is as pretentious as it is pretty. Rumble Pish is a mediation about family ties, and brother worship between Rusty James (Dillion) and Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke).
It consists of gorgeous scenes, some strange angels, muggy sounds, and loaded with references to `On the Waterfront' and `Rebel without a Cause'.

The problem here is the clunky script which is weighed down by heavy metaphors like the red and blue fighting fish of the title, spoiled the cinematography, and the acting is so hammy that bacon sandwiches should sue.

However, Tom Waits is a revelation as the mumbling Café owner/soothsayer. The soundtrack by Stewart Copeland is great. I'd recommend this movie if you are heavy medicated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw talents of Dillon, Fishburne and Cage exposed in this film, 30 May 2007
This review is from: Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
The complexity of Rumble Fish comes from all of the symbolism. The plot is actually quite simple, but the way it is played out is extraordinarily unique. Most amazing is the cast. This was essentially Nicholas Cage's first film, showing that Francis Coppola once again had the eye to pick out young talent. There are also amazing performances by Dennis Hopper and Lawrence Fishburne in the film. Hopper plays the washed up father and Fishburne is a guardian angel of sorts for Rusty.

The film is nearly entirely in black and white, aside from a few sequences of color. There is also an amazing scene in which the two brothers examine rumble fish in a pet store, and although everything else is in black and white, the fish are vibrant colors. This is not a new technique, but at the time it was impressive and innovative.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!, 12 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rumble Fish [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Rumble fish is a great movie. In my opinion Coppolas best work. We see a young Mickey Rourke and an even younger Matt Dillon. At this young age they make their best ever appearance on the screen. Here they were on their peak!
The story is about two brothers - Rourke as Motorcycle Boy, the enigmatic, carismatic, idolized older brother and Dillon as the younger one. The movie follows them in their not too simple life for some time - girls, gangfights, parties - and investigates the complex relationship between the two brothers.
The film is very beautifully filmed in black and white with some coloured details.
A lot of other big names take part in the movie - Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Tom Waits as a bartender...
This movie is one of my all time favorites! Recommended for everyone.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last great Coppola film... a modern classic., 29 May 2005
This review is from: Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Rumble Fish is a strange and hypnotic film that follows the character of Rusty James, a young punk growing up in a small sleepy mid-western town, shackled to a drunken father, a group of fickle friends, and continually in the shadow of his enigmatic brother, The Motorcycle Boy. The film, although seemingly set in the present day, uses the style of the old 50's melodramas to great effect, referencing the likes of Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One with it's stark, stylised black and white photography and it's bizarre compositions, whilst director Francis Ford Coppola uses a number of audio and visual effects familiar from his previous films, most notably, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now and One From the Heart, to give the film a strange, hypnotic and dreamlike quality that lingers throughout the film.
As with many of the other films that it references, the plot to Rumble Fish is quite simple, with Coppola building the film around the enigma of The Motorcycle Boy and around the ideas of family ties, small-town ennui and personal redemption. Although Rusty James is the film's central character, he is constantly overshadowed by his mysterious brother, who seems almost shell-shocked by whatever it is that he's witnessed during his years away from home. He is certainly one of the most interesting characters from any of Coppola's greater films, and is perfectly brought to life by Mickey Rourke in what is possibly his greatest performance ever (although, I think he's equally spellbinding in both Angel Heart and Year of the Dragon). Here, Rourke possess all the cool and feckless attitude of Brando and James Dean, but he also brings that damaged, somewhat alienated quality to role, which suggests so much about the characters and his past and also, about the possible future of the younger Rusty James.
The cinematic style of the film is exquisite, with Coppola invoking a real period feel through the use of photography and production design, which jars beautifully against Stuart Copeland's very 80's, very anachronistic score. The percussion suits the staccato editing style that Coppola uses in the first few scenes (which highlights the escalating boredom of the characters), whilst the use of time-lapse photography (inspired by the film Koyaanisqatsi, which Coppola produced) works perfectly in demonstrating the idea of time frittering away. The black and white photography works well, conveying the literally "black and white" view point of Rusty James, whilst the titular rumble fish (glimpsed through the window of the local pet store) are the only objects in the film that appear in colour (a nice metaphor). The sound design is purposely muddy, attempting to convey along with the images that skewed, slightly alienated view of the world that these characters possess, whilst Copeland's music also merges with the sound design to heighten the overall atmosphere of the film.
The acting is strong throughout, with Rourke coming across as the real standout, although the performance of Matt Dillon as the hotheaded and arrogant Rusty James is also impressive. The supporting cast features a wide array of cult performers and (then) unknowns that have now gone on to greater things, notably Dennis Hopper, Diane Lane, William Smith, Laurence Fishburne, Nicolas Cage, Tom Waits and Chris Penn. After Rumble Fish, Coppola would produce the problematic Cotton Club (possibly underrated), before cementing his reputation as something of a has-been with the third Godfather film, and throwaways like Jack, Peggy Sue Got Married and The Rainmaker. Because of this, Rumble Fish stands as something of a relic to the time when he was one of the most interesting American directors of his era... and is probably a film to rival the greatness of The Godfather, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now.
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Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003]
Rumble Fish [DVD] [2003] by Francis Ford Coppola (DVD - 2003)
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