Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mike ODonnell 92 "Night On Earth"

Since a Dicillo flick was my last choice I figured I'd go with his classmate and counter part Jim Jarmusch. Night On Earth won't be my only Jarmusch but I'll start with it. It's obvious that Jarmusch is the king of cool, it permiates of every single film he makes. That being said I'll get into the movie

The movie is connected by 2 things, one night and a taxi. At its core it's incredibly bare bones, one of the reasons I love it so much, it's simplicity. 5 separate short films about 5 different taxi drivers make Night On Earth one single feature. Acting like world time zone clocks the film starts in LA at a certain time and ends in Helsinki as the night is turning into day. We even see each film start at the physical clock to its corresponding city before fading into incredible B roll, setting the stage and bringing life to each city outside the taxi cab itself. Each story is wonderful, with great dialogue that holds your attention thee entire time. From funny to sad and intrespoctive we travel with each guest and the driver themselves until the movie comes to a close. Great flick

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mike ODonnells 93 "Johnny Suede"

Directed by Tom Dicillo and honestly thee only movie I've seen from him "Johnny Suede" is good. Although it's probably not good to everyone, as a matter of fact I'm sure it's gotten shit on multiple times especially with a 36% on Rotten Tomatos. A rating like that generally would disuade me from seeing a movie it did not, probably cause I didn't look at Rotten before a viewing. It was one of those very many moments I have where I binge watch a certain actors movies I've never seen. This time (obviously) it was Brad Pitt.

Falling somewhere into artistic obscurity and hanging in limbo between Jarnusch and Lynch "Suede"
Flip flops around a young man obsessed with Ricky Nelson and thee idea of fame. That idea reveals itself to Suede through a pair of shoes that fall out of the sky right ontop of him. Now armed with the sickest shoes Suede walks through life with a chip on his shoulder, expecting and imagining the best while living in a dump. The setting is a bleak one, and a seemingly empty one at times. Desheveled high-rises linger in the back drop, chain linked fences cage in empty lots full of nothing but overgrowth. Pitt however plays the character with dimless wit and a childish charm, paired with some equally hilarious dialogue at times. With appearances from Nick Cave and Katherine Keener, even some interesting sing alongs, Johnny Suede is certainly a movie to spark up a joint too and be the judge of it for yourself.

Jeff's #91: The Son

#91: The Son (Dardenne Brothers, 2002)

This little gem from the Dardenne's knocked me flat when I saw it.  It's funny -  I was just telling my girlfriend about needing to put up this post, and even describing the movie to her gave me chills.  I'm convinced that you only need to see it once, and then you will never forget it.  It's truly a stunning and emotionally profound experience unlike any other.  And it tests you.  It tests your capacity for empathy and the depth of your forgiveness.  Like the rest of the Dardenne's remarkable oeuvre of moral tales, it confronts you with discomfort and proposes a dilemma to you.  The dilemma is often one that is seemingly very simple plot-wise, but that has moral and spiritual ramifications that, once overcome, will forever change the course of its characters' lives - maybe even their souls.  The dilemma of THE SON is perhaps the most discomfiting that the Dardenne's have ever concocted.  And without given anything away for those who haven't seen it, how this dilemma is resolved provides their most astounding resolution.  THE SON tests greatly, but it also rewards infinitely.  The finale is as profound a lesson in grace as any I can recall in movies.

Stats:  Only Dardenne Bros movie on here, but a few of their others would likely crack my theoretical 200-101 list.  They might be my favorite working filmmakers.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Brandon's #91: Ulzana's Raid (Robert Aldrich, 1972)

I'm trying to avoid rattling off the obvious ones. I know John said he probably didn't have it in him to go from 101 to 200, but part of me thinks that would be a more interesting list. I'm not a subscriber to Sturgeon's Law, though the flooding of content in recent years has me second guessing. Brandon's Law states that there have been plenty of movies made between cinema's inception and today that I would consider great. Not just good or passable or fine, great. This is not to suggest that these "great" movies are perfect, few if any are, but I think in some cases that their flaws only strengthen them in the end. 

I'm not sure if Aldrich will appear again on this or any other list but here is what I wrote moments after watching for the first time, four plus years ago...

The disillusionment of all things religious, patriotic, or morally absolute. If I were to go along with Manny Farber's feelings toward Robert Aldrich, I'd call this an anti-ideology film goaded by our futile involvement in Vietnam. U.S. abuses lead to Ulzana's (Joaquin Martinez) escape, which leads to more abuse as violence and betrayal begets violence and betrayal, and on and on it goes. It's also fascinated by insurmountable odds and unconquerable nature. It follows the naive Lt. Garnett DeBuin (Bruce Davison), who is sent to stop Ulzana with the aid of a world weary scout named McIntosh (Burt Lancaster), with Ulzana's wife's sister's husband also serving as a tracker. 

DeBuin's Christianity is viewed as a tactically hazardous handicap in the midst of such reprehensible reality. Aldrich portrays the actions of the title marauder as horrific and unconscionable, though most of us know that the actions were perpetrated on both ends of the divide, most of all the scouts. 

Ulzana is treated with a fearful reverence, with a constant regret in his eyes. The violence is as horrendous as the heat and dust, the terrain as unforgiving and coldblooded as conditions in which these soldiers battle. It's interesting to watch this film only a week after De Palma's CASUALTIES OF WAR, a similar film of disenchantment also dealing with callous wartime brutality committed in front of a morally terrified military neophyte. One film wants us to share said rookie's maddened headspace while the other seems content to observe atrocity with a battered but wise assessment of the nature of combat. Both acknowledge the tragedy while Aldrich seems spellbound by the honor amongst fiends in the midst of battle.

Jeff's #92: Moonrise

#92: Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948)

I wish I had been able to watch this again, but alas, it seems to be completely unavailable.  For a while, Netflix was streaming a low quality version of it, but like nearly all their classic films, it has since disappeared.  This would be a prime candidate for a shiny new Criterion release some time down the line.  As would much of Borzage's filmography, which sadly is not only unavailable to stream anywhere but barely available on DVD.  Even though I didn't get to rewatch MOONRISE, I still really wanted to get it on my list, if only because I relish any opportunity to champion Borzage's work.  I've only seen MOONRISE twice, but I have a feeling that if I could've seen it for a third time, it would likely have been in my top 30.  As it stands, I'm just glad I could get it on here.

I first saw MOONRISE for my golden age lists project as part of my excursion into 1948, one of the best years in cinema history.  I recall trying to rank 1948 as being nearly impossible.  Half of the top 10 could have been #1 for most other years.  I think I ranked MOONRISE somewhere around 5 or 6.  Though I struggled with the ranking, 1948 was also one of the best times I've had writing up a year in review for our old film blog.  I noticed while watching many of the films from that year that "redemption" was a pervading theme throughout most of them.  I ended up doing a write-up where I tried (and mostly failed) to explore the theme of redemption in each of my top 10 picks from the year.  It was fun.  Here's what I wrote about MOONRISE at the time:

"MOONRISE, a gorgeous, poetic, sensitive, and emotional noir is really what started this whole redemption theme in the first place. I apologize for having it so low on the list, but I’ll need to see it more or reflect on it more before I let it rise the way it probably will. The Self-Styled Siren has a nice little write-up for this film about how jarring it’s opening images are and how unusually humanistic it is for a noir (two things that stood out to me as well). It’s basically the opposite of something like CRISS CROSS or ANGEL FACE. It is actually actively seeking redemption and healing for itself. The final moments of the film are so beautiful that I couldnt help but tear up. A broken piece of flesh is literally learning to become a human being again. He greets his fate, accepts his punishment, but takes both with a newfound dignity that has eluded him his whole life. His embrace of the dog he previously kicked pulled at my heart. His final promenade with the woman who has always believed in him made the tears grow. If the sort of redemption in JEZEBEL is rare nowadays, then the sort of redemption in this film is just nonexistent. Beautiful, beautiful movie."

Thankfully a few years ago I got to see the film again and it did rise even further in my estimation.  But I do stand by everything I originally wrote here.  In fact, I probably agree with it more now having seen more of Borzage's films since.  There is a nonpareil sincerity to Borzage's work that utterly defies cynicism.  They affirm nothing post-modern and do not contain a shred of irony.  They believe unabashedly in the power of love to restore and to heal.  MOONRISE is one of his finest examples of this earnest belief in love as a form of immanent grace.

STATS: Unfortunately, the only Borzage film on here.  I'd love to make room for the likes of  MANNEQUIN or MAN'S CASTLE, but haven't been able to see them in a long time.

Also, while I'm on the topic of love and healing, I want to seriously send all my love and prayers for healing to Brandon's dog, Lou, who is one of the best dogs to ever bless this earth.

Mike ODonnells 94 "Hud"

Since I'm on this Newman kick I'll make 94 Hud. I dare say I love Hud even more than The Hustler, from start to finish. From landscape to the dialogue Hud shines, the score from the opening credits when Brandon De Wilde first arrived in town, to the silence that follows as he wanders the streets looking for his Uncle Hud. We get an immediate introduction to who Hud is from a bar owner sweeping up broken glass from Huds previous nights activities.

We finally stumble on Hud leaving a married woman's house to his Pink Cadillac, greeted by his nephew Brandon De Wilde. The husband comes home and they make there getaway. As the movie progresses we meet Huds father, Homer played by Melvyn Douglas to perfection. Homer is the owner of a cattle ranch, a stubborn old man who labors away day and night with nothing but love for his land, until his whole herd come down with foot and mouth.

As the ranch looks under the prognoses we begin to dive into the depths of Huds arrogance and egotism and his fathers resentment and distain for his sons character. Character is the keyword, this film is all about men and there character, what makes them and what drives them. Not to mention one of my favorite scenes of all time is in it, I've posted the link below!

Chris' #91: It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)

Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Jameson Thomas
Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Robert Riskin (story by Samuel Hopkins Adams)
Release Date: February 22, 1934

Quick Synopsis: A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

First Time
I searched through my old CR5FC blog for mentions of this film, and I didn't see anything about my first viewing. I suppose it was sometime between 2007 and 2010 - another Netflix DVD rental.

Why it's on the List
When I did watch It Happened One Night for the first time, admittedly, I was a little disappointed. It was a case of my expectations not matching up with what I saw the on the screen. In time I've grown to appreciate it more, and when I purchased/watched it recently, it cemented its place among my favorites. There are a few films on this list that I've wrestled with over the years, and it's interesting to track changes in perception.

I've always been drawn to Claudette Colbert, and it's difficult not to be; she was a great actress and had an unforgettable face. For whatever reason, Clark Gable did not seem like the right fit for Peter Warne when I watched this for the first time. This might be the biggest reason why my feelings have changed over the years, because now I couldn't disagree with that opinion more. Gable has the perfect levels of charm and snark, and combined with Colbert's grit and inexperience, they make the perfect pair.

The shining example of this chemistry is on display during hitchhiking scene. It's a refreshing break in the film, which mostly moves at a quick pace. Here Peter and Ellie really start to fall for each other, and it's easy to get lost in it and forget that you're watching a movie. Seeing Clark Gable fail to get cars to stop for him as he uses his three different hitchhiking techniques is one of my all-time favorite moments.

Additional Notes/Stats

  • This is the last time I'll get to talk about Frank Capra. It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Arsenic and Old Lace are all great and probably belong somewhere on my list. I'd like to see Meet John Doe, since I love Barbara Stanwyck.
  • Same for Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The only other Gable movie I've seen is Gone With the Wind, so that should probably change. I also love Colbert in The Palm Beach Story, Midnight, and Torch Singer.
  • It Happened One Night will probably the first instance of a movie moving up my list.

JRO's #91: The Plumber (Peter Weir, 1979)

I'm a bit bummed that I didn't make the time to re-watch this one.

This is the first film on the list that I've only seen once instead of at least half a dozen times.

I remember it being an uncomfortable film.

I wrote the following about it on my old film blog:

The Plumber is a perfect horror film. A very well-to-do intellectual woman, wife of a researcher/professor, has become a housewife while finishing her own anthropological studies. While her husband is away at work, a man comes to their apartment, claiming to be the university's plumber, there to check the pipes in their university apartment. Horror ensues. The psychological tension explored here provides a backdrop for discussing issues of culture, class, interpersonal relationships, and human vulnerability. I've never seen a bad Weir film. The Plumber is one of his best.

I described it then as a horror film, but it's worth noting that The Plumber is also a black comedy.

Peter Weir is a consistently good director and is well known for his big hits (pretty much every single one of his films has been a big popular success even if most filmgoers wouldn't recognize Weir as an 'auteur' in the way other directors are easily recognized). I won't be surprised if any of his other films make it onto other lists. I hope that they do so that I have an excuse to re-watch them! He will appear again much higher on my list with one of my favorite films of all time. I need to refrain from writing about that one here!

Okay. I'm done.

EDIT: One little tidbit: This is one of five films from 1979 on my list. I'll have to look over my list, but this might be the lead for any year. It also happens to be the year of my birth.

JRO's #92: A Serious Man (Coens, 2009)

I spent too much time this week watching everyone else's picks and did not spend any time re-watching my own picks for this weekend.

I loved A Serious Man when it was released. I've re-watched it a handful of times on DVD since the initial couple of times in the theater (one of those with co-lister Mike W after a good dinner and liter mugs of German beer), but the last re-watch was at least a couple of years ago. I think that my appreciation for this one has cooled a bit, that I kinda feel like I've gotten everything out of this one that I'm going to get. Maybe. Maybe not. For now, it's on the list.

Since I'm not writing about it here, I'll link to my initial thoughts on my retired film blog:

I love the Coens. I will see every new film they make and I will see it as soon as I can. They would make it very high on my list of favorite living film directors. That said, they only appear three times on this list and, spoilers, the highest they appear is #47. Alas, we all know that this ranking project is stupid. Depending on my mood, I may want to watch Raising Arizona or Miller's Crossing over every single film on this list, but, spoilers, those two films aren't on my list. Ah, so it goes. Film nerd meltdown. I've toyed with the idea in the past of making a list of 1,000 films after seeing Edgar Wright's list: 1,000 films seems likes a huge number, but I'm pretty sure that if any one of us here put the time into it, we could each come up with our own 1,000 list.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mike W: #92 Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson)

This may be the first Jackson on my list but it certainly wont be the last. He will appear here 2 more times, once a lil higher and one contender for a Top 10 slot (no, not LOTR). I'll save my praise for Jackson then.

I hated Kate Winslet until i saw this movie. Now i only kinda dislike her.

Jackson must have been smitten with Melanie Lynskey because she returns in his next movie The Frighteners (which did NOT make my 100, but def worth an honorable mention)

Jackson must NOT have liked Winslet, for she did not return in any subsequent Jackson films.

Chris' #92: Dumb and Dumber (The Farrelly Brothers, 1994)

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Karen Duffy
Directors: Peter & Bobby Farrelly
Writers: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Bennett Yellin
Release Date: December 16, 1994

First Time
My brothers and I recorded it off of the TV at some point around '95. We were pretty diligent about labeling VHS tapes, and even though I can see the words "Dumb and Dumber" written on the label, I can't remember the other movie that we recorded on that tape. That's one thing that younger generations have to understand about the first world problems of the VHS age--you'd only be able to fit two feature-length films onto a single tape. The double-feature pairings seemed to be arbitrary in the Howard household--with kids movies paired with hard Rs.

You'd also have to record over shit that you didn't care about anymore. Sometimes this led to tough decisions or accidents where you'd record over a movie or show that someone really cared about. Eventually my older brother, Brent, bought Dumb and Dumber on DVD, and that copy is probably laying around somewhere at my parents' house right now.

Why it's on the List
One of the most intriguing aspects of a "favorite movies" list is the focus on what it says about its creator. Right now my list probably looks as if a weird-ass man-child constructed it. I feel a little self-conscious about all of these nostalgia picks, mostly because they're cliche. The back half of my list is loaded with movies that I am torn on. It becomes a game of, does this one hold up or not? I was hoping to re-watch this over the past week, but didn't get the chance. But I've also seen this movie enough times to remember every scene vividly.

I'm willing to bet that when I do re-watch this, it'll be a little similar to Robin Hood: Men In Tights - some jokes will hold up; others will embarrass me even though I had no hand in making it. With many of the jokes still fresh in my mind, I feel confident saying that their quality is much better than that of RH:MIT. Mel Brooks made movies that actively engaged with kids - while the Farrelly brothers wrote dirtier stuff that you couldn't watch with your parents. 

In making the argument as to why this one does hold up after all these years, I would say that the jokes work for teenagers and adults. Dumb and Dumber instilled in me a fondness for intelligently constructed "dumb jokes." Later, I'd go on to buy seasons 1-9 of The Simpsons on DVD and relish the Homer Simpson lines written by Harvard graduates. This was also another movie that I got to discover new jokes every time I rewatched it, and favorite jokes changed over the years.

Dumb and Dumber clearly embraces its absurdity, but I also enjoy that fact that it embraces its trashiness as well. It's not meant to be anything other than stupid fun for 107 minutes.

UPDATE: The unrated version (released in the mid 2000s?) of Dumb and Dumber is terrible, and I regret watching it. It seemed to be more sexual and cruder. While the theatrical release definitely has crass moments, it doesn't rely on that or overcommit. The movie works better with a consistent tone of innocence. The unrated version is a bastardized abomination.

Additional Notes/Stats
  • I've attempted to watch the sequel, Dumber and Dumber To, but did not make it all of the way through. The prequel was awful as well, and the two movies have probably helped to chip away at the original.
  • Jim Carrey will make one more appearance on my list, though it's pretty easy to guess which movie that will be. I'd like to revisit The Truman Show someday because I really enjoyed it when it was released. It feels ahead of its time.
  • This is it for Jeff Daniels, who is great a lot of things--including Radio Days and The Purple Rose of Cairo--but they didn't make the cut.
  • Dumber and Dumber's soundtrack is completely frozen in time (with the exception being the Nick Cave song)
  • In the summers of '07 and '08, I worked just outside of Aspen. Most of the shots in Colorado were filmed in Breckenridge, which is about a two and half hour drive from Aspen. One day when my brother Brent, our friends, and I had a day off, we drove over to Breckenridge to do a Dumb and Dumber tour. We should've gone to Estes Park to see the Stanley Hotel and some of the more recognizable locations, because the consensus in Breckenridge was that, while all of it felt familiar, there weren't any opportunities for photos.

Sending love to Lou. Always enjoy playing with him and watching him hide his toys.

Brandon's #92: Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)

It's a tempting for me to limit a movie to what my mind fixates on as its "central theme." This is especially true of horror. Carrie is about menstruation, Cat People = repression, Antichrist = depression, etc. I think groupthink/junket critic culture only contributes to this narrow perspective. I'm guilty. The first time I saw Possession, probably seven years ago, my mind kept repeating, "love is nuts." While I think that about sums it up, there is so much more to Zulawski's vision. 

Filtering it through my limited (insert pronoun here) perspective, I was reminded of two instances where my significant other had simply gotten over me. It's maddening, especially when you have such a conceited view of companionship. As I tried to reason and talk my way back, I found the other person as steadfast as a brick wall (pun intended as this was filmed in West Berlin.... Junket wisdom). The inability to bend another person's will is the ultimate spat in the face of privilege and, in the case of myself, the best way to chisel through. Pride is the most potent ingredient for madness.

Possession was being filmed as the director was ending his marriage to actress Malgorzata Braunek. I know none of the details other than that junket wisdom implies that it was "messy." They had a ten yr old son at the time, which can only add more pain and guilt to the equation. 

Possession follows a married couple in the throes of divorce, sparing us none of the messy drama therein, including the slimy/bloody/tentacled materialization of Anna's anguish or empowerment, or both, or much more. Shit hits the fan, but it's all still somehow grounded in real emotions, ones that I happened to be feeling at the time. The creature calls Pickford's Model to mind, specifically how monsters can be summoned and given life through delving deep into one's mind and emotions. John Carpenter's underrated In the Mouth of Madness did too. I like directors like Zulawski, who don't hide their dirty side. I think the same could be said for Denis, Ferrara, Cassavettes, Scorsese, Peckinpah, and Lynch.

If all of this is muddled and chaotic, it's true to the movie itself, which you should all see.

Brandon's #93: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)

I had one of the toughest weeks of my life last week and haven't been very motivated to do much of anything. Any of you who have spent time with me know that my dog Lou is something like a third child in the Musa household. On Monday, while I was in Cleveland finishing out an otherwise great tour, I got a call notifying me that he suddenly started dragging his back legs. The verdict is that he is suddenly paralyzed and for a while there it looked as though we were gonna have to put him down. I've been a mess. I haven't slept and have been as low as I can ever remember. Glimmers of hope that we can keep him happy and readjust have changed the overall outlook and we are much happier today.

E.T. reminded us of Lou, specifically the scene where Elliot's mom looks in his closet where the space friend blends perfectly with the stuffed animals. We have recreated that scene many times with Lou, who was able to sit remarkably still. 

I realized John Williams deserves a lot of credit for the emotional impact here, but I think Spielberg's understanding of childhood loneliness and confusion resonates. E.T. represents that non-human companionship that heals so many wounds so inexplicably.

I remember when my family uprooted and relocated to Vermont. I lost my friends, my home, my relationship with my father, and went from sharing a room with my older brother to having my own room (which most kids would prefer but I hated). The only consolation I had in those rough few first days at a new school were times I spent with our three Rottweilers: Fancy, Kinny, and Ruby. I would talk to them and cry while laying my head on their stomachs.

E.T. gives Elliott a sense of purpose, a reason to rebel. Through their relationship, he strengthens the boy's love for those around him and that love just seems to spread. It's a wide-eyed movie from an artist often considered a patsy (though recent output ought to nip that right in the bud). I should note that a recent viewing has confirmed my suspicion that this movie survives the miasma of nostalgia. I also should note that this movie scared me when I first saw it in 1988 at my grandmother's house. Give the opening credits another watch/listen. The music implies something far different lies ahead.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mike W: #93 Gummo (Harmony Korine)

These next 2 picks were both my introductions to directors i came to love who's movies individually would not place in my top 100 but who's work as a whole i believe belongs amongst this list.

What can be said about Harmony Korine that hasn't already been said. You either love or hate his movies, there is no in between. I happened to be on the love side. This was my first Harmony and will always be my favorite. 

I guess technically KIDS was my first Korine film, but i didn't know it at the time and he only wrote it, so it doesn't count. 

Mike W's #94: The Killer (John Woo) Sorry for the lateness guys!!

These next 2 picks were both my introductions to directors i came to love who's movies individually would not place in my top 100 but who's work as a whole i believe belongs amongst this list.

I didn't know who John Woo was and hadn't seen any of his movies until about 1994-1995. I had read an interview with Quentin Tarantino shortly after Pulp Fiction had come out and they were discussing his first film Reservoir Dogs. He had mentioned his love for John Woo and specifically the movie The Killer (it's final scene is very close to the final scene in Reservoir). I immediatley rushed out to find the movie and was happy to discover my local video store had it. I wound up renting this and Hard Boiled that day and LOVED them both. Woo has romance with gun fights and action scenes that i don't think anyone had been doing at the time of either of these releases but has since been LARGELY copied. If you haven't seen his late 80's stuff i highly suggest.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jeff's #93: Man Hunt

#93: Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941)

I love early 40s anti-Nazi films.  It's one of my favorite subgrenes of the first half of that decade. THE MORTAL STORM, ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, NORTHERN PURSUIT, EDGE OF DARKNESS, and Lang's incredible HANGMEN ALSO DIE! are all fantastic anti-Nazi films from the period that deserve serious honorable mention for this list.

I saw this early on for my golden age film project, and it's remained a favorite ever since.  Lang is one of the greatest filmmakers in international or Hollywood history, and admittedly, there isn't a single film of his that I've seen that I haven't loved.  There a few that regrettably I had to leave off this list, and a few that honestly might be better films than MAN HUNT.  But for some reason or other, MAN HUNT has a sentimental edge in my heart, so it's gets the nod.  It's partly because it's a truly bold anti-Nazi film.  It was released in America in June 1941, right around the time the Nazi blitz of London ended after over a year of sustained bombing.  At the time of its release, the Production Code in America lambasted it for being too harsh on the Nazis.  Lang and Fox were originally asked to tone down their depiction of the Nazis as murderous torturers.  Thankfully, they refused and America was provided with Lang's intended vision of Nazi cruelty; a vision, no doubt, designed to galvanize Americans into supporting the war in Europe.

But my love for MAN HUNT goes beyond its wonderful hatred for Nazism and its taut rhythms as an espionage thriller.  There's a sense of 30s poetic realism to the relationship between Pideon and Bennett's characters that ties everything together emotionally.  Their relationship remains unconsummated, and it is all the better for it because it contains both a genuine tenderness and hidden longing that only becomes realized by the film's ultimate tragedy.

Stats:  Plenty more Lang films to come.

Jeff's #94: Don't Look Now

#94: Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)

It's been a busy week and a busier weekend, so I didn't get a chance to re-watch my next two selections like I had planned to do so.  They aren't as fresh in my mind, but I'll still try to get a few thoughts down for each.

DON'T LOOK NOW, like most of Roeg's best films, is widely praised for its disjointed and provocative editing style.  And it deserves it - the editing is rapid but wholly fluid and dynamic.  It meticulously builds unease and heightens the film's themes of interconnected time.  It's funny though, in general, I tend to be fairly repelled by hyper editing.  Especially in modern films, I find it can be sloppy and distracting.  Too often filmmakers ruin the intimacy and emotional build of a scene with unnecessary cuts.  There are, of course, a few exceptions here, with Edgar Wright's films coming first to mind as perfect examples in modern film of hyper editing done right.   DON'T LOOK NOW's edits are not nearly as fast or spliced as you'd find in one of Wright's films, but they are both used with a sure-handed sense of purpose.  They don't take away from scenes, they enhance them.  Wright's edits often generate brilliant fodder for laughter, just as Roeg's edits build a sense of uncertainty and deja vu.  There's a sly joke hidden in every Wright montage; a hazy revelation of death hidden in every one of Roeg's.

This sense of death being revealed to us and the film's protagonist at every cut (and down every misty alley) is one of my favorite aspects of DON'T LOOK NOW.  I sometimes wonder when watching it if there is really no daughter at all.  Instead, the red ball, the rain jacket, the spilled paint, and the hooded red figured are all just uncanny manifestations of death - reminders that it resides in everything.  And instead of watching a story of this couple's grief unfold, we are witnessing one man's sub-conscience grief as it wrestles with the nature of its own impermanence and mortality.

Stats:  Nothing much to report.  Only Roeg film on here.  Only one featuring Sutherland or Christie, but DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and THE DIRTY DOZEN deserve mention.

Chris' #93: Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Michael Crichton, David Koepp
Release Date: June 11, 1993

Streaming on Netflix

First Time
When this was released, I was six. If I had a six-year-old, I don't think I would let him or her watch this one. Because I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s, my parents took me to see this in the theater. I want to say that's true - I'm seeing flashes of a theater experience, but I'm not certain.

Why it's on the List
I re-watched Jurassic Park this past week to make a decision: to keep it on my list or to remove it. I've had a strained relationship with this franchise. When Jurassic Park was released in '93, I loved it. I loved it even though I've never really had an affinity for dinosaurs. It seems like a lot of people are obsessed with them, and while I can understand the fascination, I've never been able to share their level of passion. For that reason, the franchise kinda fizzled out for me. I watched The Lost World around the time that it was released, but I don't remember anything about it. I've never seen the third film, and I wasn't a fan of Jurassic World.

I was about to launch into a paragraph about how 1993 was my peak dinosaur phase, but that isn't true - ABC's Dinosaurs premiered in April of '91 and my family and I missed very few episodes of that show. Anyway, I feel that Jurassic Park made the tyrannosaurus rex a cool thing to like - it really put it on the map. By the same token, raptors got a bad rep. I've retained very few facts about dinosaurs, but I do know that, while the movie often refers to raptors as six-foot tall turkeys, raptors were actually the same size as turkeys. Someone made the decision to make them six-feet tall so that they'd be more threatening.

My brothers and I had several toys from this movie. One of my favorites was my Dr. Alan Grant action figure. The fact that I had a toy of Sam Neill will always amuse me. Don't get me wrong, Neill is an amazing actor, but this will probably be the only point in his life where kids think he's cool. I was one of those kids - Dr. Grant rules. He's intelligent, kind yet a bit of an asshole, and has a good sense of humor - what's not to like?

Laura Dern is also great in this, but admittedly, I've never appreciated her nuanced performance until this most recent viewing. She's strong, smart, dorky, and authentic. Samuel L. Jackson, B.D. Wong, Wayne Knight, Bob Peck, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards are all very good in this and bring something different to the table.

I had forgotten how intense this movie is, and the tension is handled brilliantly. The T-Rex/SUV sequence is phenomenal; when I talked about making the decision to keep this on my list or remove it, that scene was the deciding factor. The ripple effect is iconic, and from that moment until the SUV containing Joe Mazzello is nudged into a tree, the direction and editing are perfect.

The CG has held up pretty well, too - it certainly looks better than Attack of the Clones, which was filmed almost a decade later.

So with all of these positive things to say about Jurassic Park, why was I considering its removal? When I re-watched this, it was the first time I'd seen it since the mid-90s. This was not a movie that I've felt the need to revisit, but I'm glad I did. 93 is a good spot for it.

Additional Notes/Stats

  • This is the first of three Spielberg movies on my list (counting the films he's directed).
  • Jeff Goldblum will appear on my list two more times and Laura Dern will make one more appearance.

Alex's #97: Face/Off

My next movie is Face/Off. It was directed by John Woo, and it starred John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Joan Allen, and Alessandro Nivola. This was another one of those awesome 90's action movies that just sucked me right in. It was Travolta vs Cage, the hottest actors back then.

What makes this movie so cool is you get to see both actors play a good guy and a bad guy. In the beginning of the film you see Cage portray this crazy, homicidal terrorist who needs to be stopped, and then you see Travolta as the good guy F.B.I. agent who wants to stop him. After they stop Castor Troy (Cage) they decide to undergo a secret procedure where they remove his face and swap it with Sean Archer (Travolta). The reasoning behind this is to go undercover as Castor Troy and get more information out of Troy's brother, played by Alessandro Nivola. Of course, everything doesn't go to plan. Does it ever? The original Castor Troy wakes up from his coma and forces the doctor's to put Sean Archer's face on his and then he kills everyone involved. Without going any further, I feel that's where the story really grabs your attention and you really start to enjoy the movie.

The first time I saw this movie I thought it was one of the greatest action films ever. It was just so stylish and different and exciting to watch. Seeing two big icons from the 90's going at it was pretty sweet. It'll always remain a favorite of mine.

Things that I'll remember from this movie are the action sequences, wow, they were pretty incredible and very enjoyable to see. The story because it's very original and totally captures your attention. All the characters in the movie, good and bad, are very likable. Also, the acting performances from Travolta and Cage are very memorable and very enjoyable.

This movie has action, tragedy, revenge, remorse, and again great performances from Travolta and Cage. So if you haven't checked it out, give it a shot.

On a side note, this movie did receive an Oscar nomination for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing. It went up against Titanic, and The Fifth Element. I'm sure you can guess which one won the award.

Alex's #98: Armageddon

No, I'm not messing around. My next movie is everyone's favorite asteroid movie starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, and so many more people. Directed by everyone's least favorite director, Michael Bay. This movie came out in the summer of 1998 and everyone wanted to see this movie. Well, maybe not everyone but people like me who was 11 and had no taste in movies whatsoever.

When I first saw this movie I thought it was the coolest movie. Bruce Willis going into space and saving the day, I mean, that's the perfect movie right? At least this time he has shoes, or space boots?

So you have a movie about a bunch of oil drillers who get tasked with an impossible mission, drilling a hole so big and so deep to slide a nuclear bomb down and blow up the big hurling asteroid that's going to doom us all. Being an 11 year old, this movie sold it to me. I was so into it I never noticed all the stupid things that went with this awesome but really bad movie. See, I love destruction movies too, so you'll be seeing lots of those as well.

Everyone, including myself, wanted to see this movie for it's destruction. Oh boy, did we get some of that! It was a great thrill ride and it'll always remain one of my favorite movies, even when it's ridiculous as it is.

I've recently re-watched this movie and it still holds a place in my heart, but with me being older I just asked myself why all the stupid b.s.? When they go look at the Armadillo for the first time, why is it surrounded by all these spikes in this huge warehouse? Why does the Armadillo have a machine gun on it? Why is there a turret machine gun just sitting outside the spaceship?Why is Michael Bay such a loser? Why do I get sucked into his big budget, explosive, ridiculous movies? I can't think of a legitimate answer, but all I can say is I try to give every movie a shot...I guess?

Things that stick out from this movie that I'll always remember is Steven Buscemi's role in the movie. I personally think he made the movie more tolerable than it was. The movie seemed to always include a joke involving Star Wars. I'm sure there's more, I just can't think of it.

On a side note, did you know J.J. Abrams co-wrote the script to this movie? I guess that'll explain the Star Wars jokes, but I'm just wondering if you guys knew?

JRO's #93: Appaloosa (Ed Harris, 2008)

I'm not feeling it today to write a lot about this pick.

I re-watched it yesterday and it holds up well.

I love Westerns. There haven't been a lot of great ones in the 21st century, but there have been a few. This is one of them.

Like Redbelt above, this one is on the list because I find it easy to watch and have chosen to put on this DVD over other choices enough times that it merits a place on this list.

Harris is an underrated director. This is his best film.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Brandon's #94: The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

2013 marked the final year of Core Room 5 Film Club, and this movie, sadly, was the main cause. Up to that point, we had spent the better part of five years writing and corresponding about movies. It all started when John was my boss and we did a DVD exchange. 

Basically, we would bring in a weekly dvd for the other guy to watch and review. I found out early on that John was a hard man to please, at least as far as "conventional" wisdom is concerned. I like this about John. I also like that he approached film from a moral perch, even when I couldn't understand his hangups. Through the years we (the club) battled through some friendly debates, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I learned a lot from these dust ups. 

The Wolf of Wall Street brought everything to a screeching halt, and I'm convinced it was for the best. I understand the detractor's objections, though I find the notion that Scorsese and company condoning the debauchery and greed, lazy and hypersensitive. 

I first saw it in theaters, just months before my life would forever change with the birth of my son Dean. I sat beside my pregnant companion watching this pack of reprobates cheat, defile, and betray in a cyclical chain of worsening shenanigans. It's a comedy full of laughs that ought to give anyone pause. But laughing is subjective, as is enjoyment of such things. One man's masterpiece can be another's pile of steaming garbage. 

Still, I think the actions on display speak for themselves and the final image is a prescient chilling reminder of how easily we let a wolf like Jordan/Trump/etc lead us to our doom. 

Note: I also saw this with Jeff, who shares my enthusiasm. Also, this was supposed to be my previous pick but I held off out of respect for John. Also, my wife loves this movie.

Chris' #94: D2: The Mighty Ducks (Sam Weisman, 1994)

Starring: Emilio Estevez, Michael Tucker, Jan Rubes, Kathryn Erbe
Director: Sam Weisman
Writer: Steve Brill
Release Date: March 25, 1994 (we're a week away from the 23rd anniversary)

First Time
'94-'95. I don't have any theater memories of this one and I probably saw it for the first time when it debuted on ABC/Disney.

Why it's on the List
To destroy any remaining credibility that I might have.

We can file this one as a nostalgia pick and a cult classic. I have to think that D2's following is limited to people - who am I - between the ages of 35 and 28. To call this movie "ridiculous" would not do it justice. It's insane but a lot of fun.

I had a tepid hockey phase in the mid-90s, thanks to the first two Mighty Ducks movies and Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey on Nintendo 64. I even had a favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche, although I never watched a single second of any of their games.

But more than the sport itself, the cast, the characters, and the storylines are the main draws for The Mighty Ducks and D2. Even though it has been done to death (and had been, even in the 90s), the scrappy underdog story will always have its appeal.

For those who vaguely remember the two movies, D2 features the Junior Goodwill Games (I have no idea if such a thing exists or not, and I refuse to look it up), with Team USA facing off against Iceland in the championship game. This is also the one that features the knuckle puck. I remember fucking around in gym class during the hockey unit and trying to score a goal with a knuckle puck shot. Turns out it was movie magic that propelled Kenan Thompson's hockey skills.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, we were looking for a new enemy. I would love to know why Iceland was selected as the main rival. 

The last thing that I want to say about this movie is that when Team USA comes back out onto the ice for the start of the third period in the championship game, they switch uniforms from patriotic colors to white and maroon Duck uniforms. The announcer then goes on to say that there is nothing in the rule book stating that they cannot change uniforms. This does not make any sense and I love it.

Additional Notes/Stats
  • This is the first of ten sequels on my list (two of which are standalone films in trilogies).
  • The only note I have on the director, Sam Weisman, is that he was born in Binghamton.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal was originally cast as Charlie Conway in the first movie, but his parents made him turn the role down so that he could get his education. I can't see Charlie being played by anyone other than Joshua Jackson.
  • I have no idea if this will stay on my list or not. There's an endless catalog of movies I've watched that are better than D2, but I'd be lying if I said that they meant more to me.

JRO's #94: Redbelt (David Mamet, 2008)

Chiwetal Ejiofor is a big reason why this film wormed its way onto the list. I think that even those of you who may actively dislike this film ought to at least respect his performance.

I had seen him in bit parts before this, but this is the film, the one in which Mamet gave him the lead role and allowed him to be a presence, that caught my attention. I’ve never been able to ignore the man since and am always interested when he’s in a project. On the commentary track for Redbelt, Mamet compares Ejiofor to Henry Fonda. I’ve always thought that this is an apt comparison.

Ejiofor’s character in the film is the heart of the film. He is a strong man with a strong presence and a strong moral code. This is good. This is a character we care about who will face dilemmas we will be troubled by. The problem is that all of the other characters in the film are weak and shallow in comparison.

We get the nagging hero’s wife who becomes the betraying wife. We get the best friend of the hero who gets crushed under the weight of demands of purity not meant for the life he is living. We get the troubled lawyer woman who must learn from our hero and admire him. We get those who oppose our hero, who in various ways embody a corrupt capitalist system designed for compromise of integrity. Everyone compromises just to get by. Except our hero.

So, yeah, there are problems with the film. But the problems are also the film’s strength. Chiwetal Ejiofor owns this character and communicates depths in silent gestures. All of life is a moral struggle for him, every word, every action. This is an exaggerated tale that focuses on him and does not care that anyone else be as real as he is. There is a danger to this, but there is also a clarity in it. Here is a tale of one man not willing to compromise. Maybe, just maybe, some of the rest of us can follow this same path. Maybe no one else will understand, but we stick to a path regardless of who else will follow. Maybe.

These themes will recur on my list. Redbelt is a minor example of a story that matters to me, that I need to hear repeatedly, that discipline and integrity are more important than respect or certain measures of success. Honor may or may not ultimately come, but it won’t be cheap and it won't be easy.

What’s more, I find the film easy to watch. I’ve rewatched it several times, choosing to watch it again over “better” movies. Mamet is always good with rhythm. Here, he tried for what I think is his most cinematic effort. There is nothing flashy on display, but the film is fluid, easy to watch, commanding attention. The script is important, but it’s in the silences and slow moments that character is revealed. In fact, the weakest part of the film/script is when Mamet introduces a small con perpetrated by some Hollywood types allied with Ricky Jay as a fight organizer. (Mamet was just throwing his friend a bone here. I don’t think that Jay works so well in the role; on the other hand, Allen is great in his small role. This film briefly convinced me that Allen was going to have a big comeback in serious roles. It didn’t happen.)


I’m also a fan of Mamet’s House of Games from 1987. That film probably would have made earlier versions of this list if earlier versions of this list had ever existed.

Many of this film’s most perceptive reviewers noted (whether they ultimately liked the film or not) that there is a “b-movie” “noir” “pulpy” feeling to it all. I agree.

I can’t find my favorite review of the film from 2008. I’ll keep looking. I’m pretty sure that it was by a woman and that it pointed out the ways in which Redbelt subverts the boxing film genre by having the climactic fight take place outside of the ring.

The film was shot by Robert Elswit. He will be returning once more much higher on this list. There are a few other films he’s shot that would land in the 101-200 range, probably, if we were ever crazy enough to try that (I don’t think I could do it.) In exciting news, Elswit is cinematographer on a soonish-to-be-released film, Suburbicon, directed by George Clooney, based on a Coens script. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mike ODonnells 95 "The Color Of Money"

While I'm on the subject my 95 is "The Color Of Money". Directed by the great Martin Scorcese, "The Color Of Money" is the perfect reprise to the masterpiece "The Hustler" Reaching further into the underbelly and seedy dives of the pool world. Color Of Money continues to explore Fast Eddie Felson now well into his old age peddling liquor at a local watering hole. From here we meet Tom Cruise aka Vince, the same as Eddie's formal self, immensely talented, wise talking and tenacious. Eddie takes Vince under his wing and takes to the road once again, accompanied by Vince's stone faced fox of a girlfriend Carmen.

The dichotomy between both worlds is extremely similar although the films themselves differ greatly,  both in feel and specifically tone. Color Of Money isn't nearly as tragic although it does dive much deeper into a now matured Eddie Felson, we still see much of the same wrecklesness, although the youthful intensity has simmered and masked itself as old mans wisdom. Tom Cruise puts on a great performance as Vince. His talent only matched by his naivety. Cruise also throws a karate element into the character, when he gets on a roll he spins and swings the pool stick like a black belt, incredible character choice and reminiscent of the same momentum Felson would pick up, fast and loose.

The film ends on an appropriate note. I won't ruin it for those who haven't scene but it works, extremely well in my opinion. A nice student/teacher thing where they both learn from one another. Bad ending to this review but fuck it

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Alex's #99: Jaws

My next movie is Jaws, which is a cinematic masterpiece. This movie came out in 1975 and was directed by one of the greatest directors ever, Mr. Steven Spielberg. It starred Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw. This movie helped put the fear in everyone's minds, when they're swimming out in the ocean. Even if you want to go out on a fishing boat, you look out to see if this big black eyed monster is coming for you.

What made me enjoy this movie was it was a monster movie. I love monster movies and this is definitely one. You have Man vs. Shark (the monster), Good vs. Evil, blah blah blah. This movie gets you fascinated with the ideology of the shark and what it'll take to beat/kill it.

What I loved about the movie was how the mechanical shark looked so real to me when I was a kid. Everything just looked so real and you have to appreciate something like that. My favorite part in the whole movie though is the climax. When the shark manages to damage the boat and it starts to take on water, then slowly starts to sink. Then Quint gets eaten and THAT whole sequence probably terrified me of sharks completely when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped when I saw that. Then you have it right at the end, Man vs. Monster, and it was such a glorious sequence of events. Everything culminating to that was so good and memorable and beautiful. Brody with the million shot "Smile for me you son of a bitch!" I love that line. I also enjoyed the part where they're singing on the boat because you think, like they do, that everything is good and they're safe...but they're wrong.

If you haven't seen this movie I really think you should check it out. Sorry if I ruined it for you but this movie is 40 years old, so I don't think you'll mind. You don't necessarily have to see the sequels but if you want a good laugh check them out. Jaws 2 was the better sequel.

On a side note, this movie's budget was $8,000,000 and it pulled in a whopping $260,000,000. Also, this movie was filmed in Martha's Vineyard, MA. Beautiful place to visit if you ever get the chance to.

Mike ODonnell 96 "The Hustler"

Nothing makes the mouth water like golden age cinema. Hard shadows, black and white, smooth dialogue through cigarette smoke, stiff drinks and puppy eyed girls. All these things and more make a film "golden" make it "classic". All these elements are always accompanied by the greatest names in the game, the biggest and brightest stars to ever grace the big screen. Now I'm sure we all have our favorites in that regard, mine has always been and will always be the great Paul Newman. Something in his performances, thee eyes, his smile, his charm, a true classic, a real game changer that commanded attention in every role.

The Hustler won't be thee only Newman to pop up on this 100 list but I'll start with it. Pool has the allure of cool naturally hard wired into it. All you have to do is walk into a pool hall and look at a single table, the light shinning hard on the green, the balls racked and waiting. Within seconds I need a drink and a smoke and a pool stick in hand. Wether you suck at pool or great like Eddie Felson there's something about it, just like there's something about classic cinema. The Hustler is both these things ontop of Paul Newman making it an instant triple threat in my book. Fast Eddie Felson is a smooth talking hustler who's biggest opponent is himself. With a insatiable appetite for the game and an inability to recognize his success and when to call it quits. Beyond Newman the rest of the cast is incredible as well, with George C. Scott, Jackie Gleason, and Piper Laurie, all of whom play there characters to absolute perfection. The whole movie floats like a boxing match, with elegance and grace and heartbreak, all the while filled to the brim with style and 1000 lessons learned. A character study for the ages that remains an absolute favorite with only my highest praises to give.

Mike W: #95 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (Robert Aldrich) ((placehold))

see previous post

Mike W: #96 Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis) ((placehold))

I will write more about these two selections this week. I was busy all weekend and a concert last night.

JRO's #95: River's Edge (Tim Hunter, 1986)

20 years ago, there was a good chance that I would name River’s Edge as one of my favorite movies of all time. Sometimes I would name it is as my #1.

A re-watch a couple of years ago convinced me that the film was important to me when I was younger, but that I had grown away from it.

A re-watch two nights ago convinced me that this is still one of the most important films I’ve ever seen. I feel guilty that this isn’t at least in the 30s or 20s on this list. It should be. There are some films later on the list that I could live without. Not so this one. This one is essential. Eh. So it goes.

I don’t remember when I first saw this. Anywhere in the 13-16 range. It was probably a Star Video rental. I do remember talking with Troeller about it. Troeller’s Ghost hangs heavy over this list. Indeed, much of my taste in film (and literature and life) is indebted to William Troeller. I loved talking film with him. I just loved talking to him. I miss him.

Aside: There is one director who appears on this list more often than any other; he probably wouldn’t be here on the list if it were not for Troeller. That director will probably come as a surprise to everyone here. I’ll entertain guesses from everyone below in the comments. If anyone guesses right, I’ll buy you a sixer of your favorite beer. Heck, I’ll even help you drink it. ;-)

River’s Edge.

It’s a masterpiece of existentially aware cultural reflection. It is as effective as it is because it refuses to make easy condemnations. It asks questions, but it has no (direct) answers. “I don’t know.”

Has there been a moral breakdown in society? Yeah. So what? That’s just a symptom. The dis-ease runs deeper. The Rebel Without a Cause has become the new normal by the mid-80s, a Generation Without a Cause. What’s lacking in life isn’t a clear sense of right and wrong. What’s lacking now is any sense of purpose at all. Why choose any thing over any other thing? Are there any bonds left that tie us together that have not been loosed? These are some of the questions either implicitly or explicitly asked by this film.

Family has no hold. The church is a place for corpses. School is a stifling factory setting to be endured. The self in this setting has no aspirations beyond the pursuit of pleasure, any little thing that will bring relief. Friends are there as a means of distraction and escape, but mutual hedonism only provides so much social cohesion. There is no way forward within any of the current systems. And there is no way forward outside of any of the current systems. Yet everyday, decisions must be made.

Anomie and apathy rule. Why decide anything?

As usual, death provides a clarity to life that was lacking otherwise. The murder of one friend by another provokes a small crisis in a community of friends in which each one has to take a stance, realizing finally that not doing anything is just as ultimately a stance as doing something concrete. But how does a person move forward and make a decision when he or she has never been given the tools to do so? There are no hard awakenings or flash epiphanies in River’s Edge. There is only fumbling and stumbling.


This one is available to “Watch Now” if you’ve got Prime Video (or if you have access to your mother’s Prime account, whatever). Obviously, I highly recommend that you do so.

I should probably rant here about my dislike of child actors playing morally compromised roles. I should, but I won’t. Maybe it’s because I saw it when I was young or because the performance is so roughly honest, in that the kiddishness is still there in every tortured moment of posturing; the kid who plays the 12-year-old little brother Tim is excellent in unexpected ways (I looked up his name, but I’ve already forgotten it).

This is Crispin Glover’s second best performance of all time. His first best appearance of all time appears much higher on this list.

This is the only time that Keanu Reeves will make it on the list, but both Bill & Ted movies are honorable mentions.

Jiminez, the man who wrote the screenplay at a very young age, never wrote anything nearly as good again.

It has always saddened me a bit that Tim Hunter, the director, never made many more films. His film criticism (I’ll link to his great scathing review of The Graduate) is perceptive. He has since done a lot of television work. There’s a very good chance that all of you have seen something directed by him. My guess is that he settled for the good money of regular work over against the struggle to create honest art. It’s an understandable choice.

Hunter’s The Graduate review for his college newspaper -

Let's keep it about the movies.

Jeff's #95: Wall-E

#95: Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)

I don't have much time before work today, and I'm feeling a little groggy from the time change, so I apologize for not getting more written on this.  But, WALL-E remains my favorite animated movie of the last 20 years, and would be high on my list of the best movies of the Aughts.  It's hard to leave off RATATOUILLE, THE INCREDIBLES, SPIRITED AWAY, and ARRIETTY from my list (all of which I love), but there's something special about WALL-E that brings me great joy and separates it from the recent pack of great Pixar and Studio Ghibli movies.  It could be that it works incredibly well as a sci-fi movie.  It's bold depiction of the future offers stark condemnations of our current wastefulness, laziness, and solipsism.  It could also be that it works just as well as an ode to silent comedy, and that it boasts some truly lough out loud slapstick routines.  Further still, it could just be that it works best of all as a budding romance story.  At its emotional core it's all about finding connectivity and community through mutual embrace, signified beautifully by Wall-E's incessant pining to hold hands.

Stats:  Just one of two animated films on here, sadly...

Brandon's #95: Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur)

What Jeff said.

Chris' #95: You Can't Take It With You (Frank Capra, 1938)

Starring: Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, Jimmy Stewart, Edward Arnold
Director: Frank Capra
Writer: Robert Riskin (based on the play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart)
Release Date: August 23, 1938

Quick Synopsis: A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

First Time
June, 2012. Another Netflix DVD rental.

Why it's on the List
I remember liking this one more the first time I saw it. It's still a solid, enjoyable movie but I had it higher on my list during the early stages of this project. The theme speaks to me. Rich people and bankers used to be the antagonists in movies; I miss those days. But the film isn't anti-rich or anti-capitalism and makes its points without being too preachy.

The film isn't quite a screwball comedy, but it does have some ridiculous moments (which is a compliment). My favorite scene is when the Kirby family shows up to the Sycamore house. What can I say, I enjoy it when rich snobs are taken out of their comfort zones.

I like that Jimmy Stewart's character isn't completely innocent in this. Stewart is his usual charming self, but his character doesn't always do the right thing. It's also nice to see Lionel Barrymore play a good guy, considering how nefarious his face looks. Seeing him as anyone other than the evil Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life is difficult.

Jean Arthur is the top billed actor in this one, which is nice to see. I have to highlight Arthur here because she has to be one of the most underrated actresses of all time, right? I mean, just look at this list: No room for Arthur?! Come on, AFI. Arthur could do it all - she was smart, tough, vulnerable, confident, and always seemed to breathe more life into the characters she played. She had a real calming presence and I always enjoy her performances.

Additional Notes/Stats

  • This is one of two Capra movies on my list.
  • This is one of five Jimmy Stewart movies on my list.
  • Despite my glowing review of Jean Arthur, this is the last time I'll get to talk about her. She's also great in Only Angels Have Wings, The More the Merrier, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but they didn't make the cut. I've never seen Shane but want to. Fun fact: Jean Arthur and I were both born on October 17th.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Alex's #100: Halloween (1978)

First, I'd like to thank you guys for inviting me to this. I'm going to try to get caught up to you guys! Now I have no exact order of my favorite movies, but I figured this would be a great first one to do.

The first movie I chose was Halloween (1978) directed by John Carpenter, and starred a very dreamy Jamie Lee Curtis, whom I still love to this day. This movie, in my opinion, is the birth of horror/stalker movies. This movie is so DAMN scary, it gave me nightmares for years. Granted that was when I was a young kid. Nowadays, I'll just sit there and laugh because I know whats coming and usually when you get older things don't scare you easily...sometimes.

I absolutely love this movie, it is without a doubt the best horror movie ever. John Carpenter created a masterpiece no one can ever touch. I love how he wrote the music for this movie and that was some pretty freaky stuff. He is the master of horror and I don't think anyone can or will be nearly as good as him.

Things about the movie that I will always remember was definitely the music because it always seem to play at the right moment...that moment of surprise, scare, awe...something that'll leave an impact on you. There's a part towards the beginning when Laurie Strode got home from school and she went upstairs to change, she looked outside and BOOM Michael freaking Myers is standing right in the backyard looking right up at her...she looked away and he was gone! With the music in that scene, it scared the crap out of me. The way Michael Myers will just sit up after getting knocked down and turning the head every so slightly. The heavy breathing in the movie was very freaky, especially watching the movie when you're 10. But the one part that I liked was in the beginning when they showed Michael at a young age and him killing his sister. The way they shot that whole sequence. Putting the mask on the camera was such a great you his POV and him becoming something truly evil.

The other thing I liked about this movie is it proves you don't need a lot of blood and gore to make a great scary movie. All it needs is a good story, some decent acting, and a killer that's so convincing that he could possibly exist in our world.

There's a line in the movie that's so good no one ever thinks about it is when Laurie tells Billy she killed him (Michael), then Billy responds with "But you can't kill the boogeyman." Then sure enough, Michael shows up again.

Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis was great as well! I feel like no one can even play that character as good as he did.

Oh and Rob Zombie's remake sucked.

On a side note, I'm not sure if you guys knew this or not but if you look at the hand in the poster you see a face. Start with the top knuckle and look down. You should see eyes, nose, mouth.

Jeff's #96: Canyon Passage

#96: Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur, 1946)

I've got to thank the great Dave Kehr for making me aware of this overlooked gem. After seeing a majority of the popular and heralded films from 1930-1959, Kehr's essential but sadly now defunct DVD release column for the NYT became a great source for rarer classic film recommendations. CANYON PASSAGE is something I immediately sought out based on Kehr's glowing review, and it has been a favorite Western of mine ever since.

There's a lot to love here. It's Tourneur's first color film in addition to being his first western. As you'd imagine anything Tourneur in technicolor to be – it's absolutely stunning. The colors just glow with saturation and warmth. And as the lone western made in the transitional years between his horror work for Val Lewton and his successful shift to film noir, its as unusual a western as you'd imagine it to be. With it's opening shots of pouring rain and mud, CANYON PASSAGE instantly distinguishes itself from the sun-drenched aridity of most westerns. And as the story unfolds, it continues to subvert our expectations of a what a western should in the year 1946 – well before the word “revisionist” would be brandied about to describe similarly ambivalent westerns. There's a dense plot to wade through that purposefully offers little resolution. It's not a film about finding stability through righteousness or taming a previously ungovernable wilderness but about head-scratching your way through the moral uneasiness of western expansion. It's filled with these off-hand philosophical one-liners that constantly call into question not only the legitimacy of manifest destiny but the very nature of civilization. Its also got one of the best fist fights ever to not feature Victor McLaglen.

Stats: One of two Tourneur movies on here.

Happy Birthday Mike! And RIP Robert Osborne....will truly miss him.

Brandon's #96: Day of the Outlaw (Andre De Toth)

1959 was an especially rich year for westerns with Ride Lonesome, The Hanging Tree, The Horse Soldiers, Rio Bravo, and this from the Hungarian master. It garnered some extra attention recently with the release of The Hateful Eight, being cited as an influence on the snowy/isolated setting.

Robert Ryan's shift from homesteader villain to savior is simple but moving. I saw this in 2012, after discovering some of De Toth's more recognized and celebrated (at the time) works and it simply did the trick, right place and right time.

I'm also a sucker for westerns set in snowy locations. I love Corbucci's The Great Silence and Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller. I'm eager to watch this again and I foresee an opportunity because I'm hoping to post a best of 1959 by the year's end.

Happiest of birthday wishes to Mike.