Saturday, January 16, 2010

#23 The Empire Strikes Back - So those awkward lines from the pre-quel can be found in this movie too...

1980. dir. Irvin Kirshner, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones.

Seen it before? Oh yeah.

Han and Leia are to this movie what Anakin and Padme are in the third of the "prequel" movies. Essentially Lucas didn't get any better at writing dialog between love interests in his movies. I did like the part where Leia tells Han she loves him and he says, "I know." Apparently Harrison Ford had to come up with that on the spot since the line he was supposed to say, "I love you, too" didn't sound like something Han would actually say.

That being said here are my likes and dislikes of the movie:
C3PO - Dislike - He always seems to get into trouble doesn't he?
Vadar reveal sequence - Like - "No, I am your father"
Leia kisses Luke - Dislike - Incest is NOT best!
Billie Dee Williams as Lando - Like!!!! Even though he turned on his friend Han, he helped Leia in the end
Yoda - Like! - no one but Yoda can show just how powerful the Force is...though Obi-Wan using the Force on the droids at the beginning of IV was really terrific too. If only I could do that in real life...Daniel would be potty trained for sure!
Obi-Wan as a ghost - dislike - I wish he didn't disappear in the previous film but I am glad that he made sure Luke found Yoda
Han - Like - even despite the weird dialog between him and Leia because the banter was actually not bad!
Princess Leia - Like - I am all for a strong female action hero! Woohoo!
Chewbacca - dislike - I think he'd be less annoying if he SPOKE!

Would I see it again? Yes, it's my favorite of the trilogy
Would I add it to my collection? Already there sweetheart!

#23 The Empire Strikes Back: I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.

1980. dir. Irvin Kirshner, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones.

Seen it before? Oh yeah.

It's more highly regarded by many than the first one, and rated higher up on the list. It's slower and talkier than the first one. There's more philosophy here; the Yoda scenes are sort of like Zen Buddhism For Dummies. Vader is a total badass in this movie. Blackest brother in the Galaxy. Nubian god. It seems like the worst thing he can do is give you a promotion. The last half-hour with Han getting frozen, Luke and Vader's duel, and the famous reveal (that always gets misquoted. he doesn't say "Luke, I am your father*") is basically pure awesome.

Nevertheless, Empire Strikes Back has some problems:
  • C-3PO. Is this guy a totally annoying liability or what? Every single scene he's in, he's either being rescued, or he's whining and trying to surrender. "Oh, we'll never make it!" One of the best scenes is when Leia shuts him off.
  • You're pretty annoying too, Chewbacca.
  • A lot of the Han and Leia dialouge is just as awkward as anything in Attack of the Clones. As Harrison Ford once said, "You can type this shit, George, but you sure can't say it."
  • The Imperial Walkers are supposed to be all huge and intimidating, but they just look slow and clumsy. The guns are way too high up to hit anything. When Luke trips one of them, I wasn't surprised. (Made an awesome video game level on the SNES though.)
  • Why does the Empire try to stop the Falcon from escaping Hoth, but not Luke? Seems like that was rather the point.
  • Eeeww, you kissed your sister!
  • And how long was your Jedi training anyway, Luke? It can only be as long as Han and Leia's escape, trip to Cloud City, and capture. So, two days, tops?
  • The Imperial March gets all the love but I actually liked Vader's theme from the first movie better (skip to about 4:36 of this video.)
  • Need more Emperor, even if he looks weird.

    *That was a spoiler. If you have not seen Empire Strikes Back, you should not have read that sentence.

    Position on the list: 10
    Adventure, excitement? A Jedi craves not these things.
  • #22 Star Wars - the original and NOT Episode 1!

    1977. dir. George Lucas, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones.

    Seen it before? Is there anyone my age on the planet who HASN'T seen this movie?

    I'm sure the kids who saw Episodes I, II, and III before watching these films would be terribly confused about the lack of recognition between Darth Vadar and Luke and Leia. Not the point of the film though kids!

    I really find Mark Hammill to be annoying...I don't think he can really act and he isn't terribly easy on the eyes.

    I love Harrison Ford and the way he says "sweetheart"...

    David Prowse - can you imagine Darth Vadar British? I don't think it would come across nearly as menacing as James Earl Jones! He is quoted as saying, "I took the part of the villain because everyone remembers the villain" in regards to choosing to play the physical Vadar over Chewie.

    Few things to remember:
    1) this film was made in the 70s...the special effects won't be the same as the ones we see in films now
    2) Jar Jar Binks is STILL the most annoying character in the six movies...I don't care if Sam thinks Chewbacca is.
    3) this movie is AWESOME! good plot, interesting characters who lead you to care about them, amazing technology considering the year it was made...and don't you just love Harrison Ford? I do!

    Would I see it again? Yes
    Would I add it to my collection? It's already there...can't wait for the Blu-ray release! Whenever that is!

    #21 Unforgiven - clearly no good guys lived in the old west

    1992. dir. Clint Eastwood, starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman.

    Seen it before? No.

    This is going to be painful...I jammed my right pinky finger and so I'm wearing a brace.

    Sam said there are five Clint Eastwood movies on our list that we must get through. I feel like I've been watching a lot of Clint Eastwood flicks lately. We watched Gran Torino before we started this project, (and yes, I am fully aware that we're going to be watching it again toward the end of this blog project) and Bridges of Madison Country has been playing on television lately. And now we just finished Unforgiven.

    I was kind of confused by the very beginning. The first shot after the introduction was of a man and a prostitute having sex that was interrupted by a woman screaming and a guy slashing her with a knife. The guy with the knife tells the guy who was having sex to hold the girl while he cut her but it was dark so I thought the sex guy was actually holding the knife guy off. Then Little Bill (Hackman), the sheriff gets called into the brothel and he has to deal with both the guys being tied up for knifing the girl. With two "bad guys" and one "good guy" you would think that justice would be served...but of course, it isn't. So the women do what they think they need to in order to preserve themselves, pool together money to hire a hitman to kill the two jerks who cut their friend. Sounds like a good idea, in theory.

    The kid who accepts the bounty was SO clearly wet behind the ears. He gets Eastwood and unintentionally Freeman to help him out. Somehow Richard Harris is in there, though I'll be honest, I didn't recognize him at all (must be because the last thing I saw him in before this was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Daphne's fiancee Donnie was in there too as a biographer.

    Would I see it again? Probably one more time sometime in the future to see what I missed.
    Would I add it to my collection? No, too violent for me, yes, I know, that's a funny thing to say since I like the Bourne and Kill Bill movies.

    #22 Star Wars: That's no moon

    1977. dir. George Lucas, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones.

    Seen it before? Of course.

    Watching all three of these things today. The first one is still the best one, in my opinion... the first half-hour sort of drags (basically the whole Tatooine part before they go to Mos Eisley) but the rest is pretty great. My favorite actor in the movie is Peter Cushing. His character is so evil.

    This movie is a great how-to manual for showing you how NOT to run your evil empire. The Empire constantly makes mistakes. I would point all of them out, but I have a life. I like the little packets of cough drops they wear on their shirts though.

    C-3P0 is annoying, and sort of racist.

    The three dumbest things said in this movie:

    3. Stormtrooper: "It's locked. Move on to the next one." Of course, dumbass. There's no way the droids hiding from you would lock the door.

    2. Obi Wan: "Only Imperial Stormtroopers are that precise." The same ones that can't hit you from 8 feet away later in the movie?

    1. Imperial soldier: "Hold your fire. There's no life forms aboard." You moron! Droids exist in your universe. What were you thinking?

    Position on the list: 12
    Hey Red 6: Maybe you should lose some weight

    #21 Unforgiven: A man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition

    1992. dir. Clint Eastwood, starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman.

    Seen it before? No.
    Deserve's got nothin' to do with it. --William Munny
    The first of many Westerns on the list... this one is of the more recent "revisionist" vintage that attempts to be more realistic in its depiction of the old West. Clint Eastwood plays William Munny, who is a retired assassin and widower. He is attempting to raise livestock and is apparently not too successful at it. Meanwhile in a nearby town, there is an incident in which two traveling cowboys knife a prostitute's face. The sheriff, Little Bill (Gene Hackman), lets them off with a fairly light punishment, so the other prostitutes pool their money to hire somebody to kill them.

    Much is made in this movie of the difficulty of killing. As opposed to a lot of the older cowboy movies, the characters in this movie actually have moral issues with it. The prostitutes seem to regret their decision, and all of the bloodshed that comes as a result. It's all very morally ambiguous, and there's no clear "good guy" in this movie. (Except maybe Morgan Freeman, but not really.) Clint Eastwood's character in particular is very anti-heroic.

    I think a key character is the pulp novelist played by Saul Rubinek (Hey! It's Daphne's fiancee from Frasier!) He's introduced as the "biographer" of English Bob (Richard Harris) who had been telling him a lot of outlandish tales that he would then publish as "true stories". You see how the myth of the Wild West came to be created, and the movie does a good job desconstructing it.

    This is a really well-made, tense, dramatic movie, and I really don't have anything snarky to say about it.

    Position on the list: 108
    OK, I lied, here's one: The ending is pretty friggin' ridiculous. I won't ruin it, but it's exactly the sort of bullshit unrealistic thing that would happen in one of those pulp novels.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    #20 The Third Man - with music that doesn't match the tone of the film

    1949. dir. Carol Reed, starring Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles.

    Seen it before? No.

    And unfortunately you're going to have to wait for my review. I wasn't paying close attention to the movie and therefore, aside from the annoying music, and realizing one of the stars of the film wasn't in it til the middle of the movie, I really have no opinion...yet. STAY TUNED!

    January 16, 2010

    I decided after the Star Wars Trilogy Marathon to watch The Third Man. What I knew and remembered was that there was a drunk author trying to find out what happened to a man named Harry Lime. There was a beautiful woman who was in love with him. There was a weird Romanian guy with a dog. There was a cop who was sarcastic and snarky. And the man who died appeared halfway through the movie. Oh, and there was music that was really annoying and didn't match the movie...unless it was meant to be a comedy but I'm pretty sure it wasn't! I mean, come on, did Anton Karas watch the movie or read the plot before he wrote the music?

    I didn't remember how Orson Welles actually looked so I looked him up on He looks like Vince Vaughn!

    The movie was actually pretty good despite not showing the action at the beginning, fine since that's a movie trick; and thankfully there was not a lot of violence. I believe I've had my share of watching violent movies for a while - Unforgiven.

    Bernard Lee, who played Sgt. Paine, caught my attention when he claimed to be a fan of Holly's books. Only when I tried to understand why did I find out that he played M in the Bond movies until his death in 1981. It was one of those moments when the light bulb turned on in my head!

    All in all, not a bad movie.

    Would I see it again? Actually yes. I'm sure I missed some other trivial pieces this second go around
    Would I add it to my collection? Eh, it was good but not a keeper for me!

    #19 Groundhog Day - I tried to keep count but gave up...

    1993. dir. Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie McDowell, Chris Elliot, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray.

    Seen it before? Yes.

    Since it became obvious that there were many days that were unaccounted for.

    This movie gets played so often on TBS and other cable stations and like #1 on the top 250 I get sucked in every single time! I think the reason is that I like who he changes into. I loved that he took piano lessons and tried to save the old man. It was hilarious when he robbed the armored truck and helped change the tire of the car carrying three old ladies. It was awesome that he saved the kid from falling out of the tree after excusing himself from Rita to go on some "errands" and then said,
    Phil Connors: Hold it, fella!
    What do you say?
    You little brat.
    You have never thanked me!
    He goes from being a complete jerk to being a well rounded guy who does everything in his power to change to get the girl- Play piano, learn French, memorize her likes and dislikes. I love Andie MacDowell. She's strikingly beautiful. I can't stand Chris Elliott. There are a LOT of "Hey it's that guy"'s in the film too.
    With Sam's summary there really isn't too much more to say. This movie is a "modern" classic as far as I'm concerned!

    Will I see it again? YES!
    Will I add it to my collection? The day they stop replaying it on TBS or similar I will get myself a copy!

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Notes for 1/14

  • Let us rejoice, because 3 Idiots has been bumped by Up In The Air, which has been getting all sorts of good reviews.
  • I put up a scoreboard down below the main list. Right now it says we'll be done in June at the rate we're going, but I don't think we'll keep up this pace all year. Once the weather turns nice we'll probably slow down somewhat.
  • I also enabled ads. Yeah.
  • Probably no movie tonight.
  • #20 The Third Man: Death is at the bottom of everything

    1949. dir. Carol Reed, starring Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles.

    Seen it before? No.

    Meh. Joseph Cotten was great, and I liked this mysterious "Valli" woman; she was kind of like the Carrie-Anne Moss of her day. But four things ruined this movie for me:

    1. One of the many things that I hated about Sweet Home Alabama is that the poster ruined the ending. Shit, the title ruined the ending. Well, for this movie, the Netflix description said "Orson Welles plays Harry Lime", and that is a key plot point. You don't find out he's still alive until 45 minutes in.

    2. The Hays Code. From about 1930 until the late 1950's, these were the rules for making movies, and they were pretty restrictive. Basically, crime couldn't pay. You couldn't have the villain get away with anything. Hence you sort of knew how it was going to end pretty early.

    3. The movie relies on a bait-and-switch with bodies - i.e. they bury one person with the pretense that it is somebody else. This is tricky to pull off; you have to have some way of justifying why the authorities (who tend to do pesky things like PERFORM AUTOPSIES) wouldn't catch on. They don't bother justifying it at all here. Felt like a cheat.

    4. The zither music. Sounded like the music for some light-hearted Jacques Tati-esqe movie and not what was supposed to be a serious film noir.

    Position on the list: 62
    Picture quality: It looked like shit smeared on English muffins. Great job, Netflix On Demand. (Actually it was probably Comcast's fault. either way.)

    #19 Groundhog Day: 10, 9, 8, car, 6, 5, quarters, 3, 2...

    1993. dir. Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie McDowell, Chris Elliot, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brian Doyle-Murray.

    Seen it before? Yes.

    Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a weatherman stuck in Punxsatawney, PA repeating the same day over and over, with no explanation is given to why this happens. Phil uses this time to do, well, everything he could think of; learn French, learn the piano, learn to ice sculpt, seduce local women, rob a bank, get arrested, seduce his co-worker, eat and drink excessively, kill himself repeatedly. It really looks like a lot of fun.

    Ironically, this movie has been repeated over and over on cable. This one is so well-known that it's become a cliche. You know, "I do the same shit every day, it's like Groundhog Day." That theme of the movie is actually stated pretty explicitly on Day 3, when Phil goes drinking with the two locals:
    Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
    Ralph: That about sums it up for me.
    Bill Murray is pretty hilarious as stuck-up jerkass Phil. Andie McDowell: looks nice, never was much of an actress. Cast is full of "Hey! It's That Guy" types -- Hey! She was on Seinfeld! Wasn't he on Herman's Head? and so forth. For such a high-concept movie, the screenplay is really pretty conventional. Read Syd Field's Screenplay or this page, that's pretty much a point-by-point outline of the movie. Still pretty clever, but I can't imagine it working without Bill Murray.

    Position on the list: 160
    My estimate for the number of times Phil experiences Feb. 2: About 10-15,000

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    More on Princess Mononoke...

  • Yes, I could read the summary on Wikipedia, but that's not the point. The plot needs to be understandable while you're watching the movie without having to resort to Cliff's Notes. Also, that summary is really long, and contains sentences like this:
    Jigo, who is now revealed to be a mercenary-hunter, plans to give the head [of the Forest Spirit] to the emperor; in return the emperor promises to give Irontown legal protection against the envious daimyos coveting the town's prosperity.

  • The environmental aspect of it. This is your basic Space Whale Aesop, where the lessons are "Don't destroy the forest, because doing so will anger the boar-god and transform him into a demon" and "Don't shoot the forest gods in the head with a shotgun, because they will turn into this giant blue thing and destroy your whole town." Whatever you say, Matlock.

  • Although, to be fair, I will give the filmmakers props for not making the villain 100% evil. I mean sure, she's plundering the environment, but she is good to her workers, and she does have a reason for cutting down the forest. I's not like on Captain Planet where they would just bulldoze rainforests for the hell of it.

  • The movie is rated PG-13, but has some pretty hard-core violence; we're talking Kill Bill shit here with people's arms getting chopped off and pigs vomiting blood. Also the monsters are pretty scary. Don't let young children watch it.
  • #18 Princess Mononoke - Gods and Princesses and Little Mushroom Looking Wood Creatures, Oh My!

    1997. dir Hayao Miyazaki, starring Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka. Japanese with subtitles*.

    Seen it before? No.

    The plot summary is pretty much what Sam wrote but for a more clear and (frankly accurate version) I went to Wikipedia.

    The visual effects were cool. The story was somewhat difficult to follow...especially since I was multi tasking and therefore wasn't reading all the captions that were at the bottom of the screen since Sam wanted to make our experience "authentic" and therefore that meant having to listen to the real Japanese actors reading their lines.

    Ashitaka (a prince from the East) aka the hero
    Lady Eboshi (the head of Iron Town who rescues women from working in brothels and is trying to create weapons that surpass China's weaponry) aka the antagonist
    San/Princess Mononoke (the wolf princess who has renounced humans and whose mission it is to save the earth's natural resources) aka the protagonist
    a variety of townspeople
    Shishigami (the god who can restore life or take it away) aka the Deer God
    Moro aka the Wolf God
    Okkoto aka the Boar God
    Kodama (the little mushroom looking wooden creatures)

    I'm sure that there is something lost in translation but the film can be construed as one of two things:
    a) a beautifully created anime fantasy masterpiece
    b) a political message about what will happen if humans continue to misuse/destroy natural resources for their own wealth or rather the struggle between nature and industry.

    Would I see it again? Sure, but this time maybe in English so I CAN multi task!!!
    Would I add it to my collection? I'm not a huge fan of anime so probably not.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    #18 Princess Mononoke: No, Okkoshi! Don't turn into a demon!

    1997. dir Hayao Miyazaki, starring Yôji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yûko Tanaka. Japanese with subtitles*.

    Seen it before? No.

    OK, what the HELL was that about?

    Here's what I think happened. There's this kid, Ashitaka, who is a prince, and pretty good with a bow and arrow. One day, this boar-monster... thing... attacks his village. He kills it, but gets wounded in the process. The obligatory wise old woman tells him that the wound is cursed, and he should travel west for... some reason. Telling a fantasy story is tricky. A story where anything can happen at any time is not very interesting. You need to delineate the rules clearly so the audience knows what the logic of the story is and what's at stake. One trick a lot of storytellers use is to include a character like the wise old woman. This gives the audience the necessary exposition in a way that fits into the story. You know... Dumbledore, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Gandalf, that sort of thing? This old woman sucks. She's only in one scene early in the movie, and doesn't really explain anything.

    So anyway, he travels west, and he eventually finds this city where they forge iron. And then there are talking wolves, and talking boars, and talking apes, and... the whole thing just goes off the rails.

    The woman who runs the iron works is trying to destroy the forest so she can get more sand to make more iron, and doing so involves killing the Deer God... I guess? So she tries to do this with a shotgun. Yeah. A fucking shotgun. Hey Einstein, what part of "Deer God" don't you understand? So needless to say her plan goes horribly awry, and.. oh yeah, there's this girl who was raised by wolves. She's Princess Mononoke, but everybody calls her "San" for some reason, and what is she supposed to be the princess of anyway? Princess of the wolves? The whole thing just makes no goddamn sense whatsoever.

    You know, I took a Japanese culture class in college, so theoretically I should have learned about some of the mythological underpinnings to this story (like the weird little white ghost guys who live in the woods, WTF were they?) but I guess I slept through class. This movie wasn't a total waste of time; the backgrounds and effects animations look nice, and there's a cool scene where Ashitaka shoots a samurai in the neck and his head pops off like a dandelion. but unless you're really into Anime or bizarre confusing stories, I would pass on this movie.

    Position in the list: 120
    Did I make up that quote in the post title? No, I swear; the whole script is like that

    *NOTE: The DVD also includes a dubbed version with the voices of Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, and Gillian Anderson.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    #17 12 Angry Men - Not the Tony Danza version

    1957. dir. Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam.

    Seen it before? Yes.

    There's a reason why I can't stand when Sam writes first. It's because he gets the plot summary out of the way immediately and then interjects his own experience with the movie. The latter I have no real problem with. The former makes writing my blog post difficult.

    Aside from Henry Fonda my favorite juror was #11 George Voskovec - the immigrant juror. I liked that he took notes to get a better idea of where Henry Fonda was coming from and then use his notes to help convince other jurors that Fonda wasn't just speaking out of his ass.

    The thing is, when I first watched this movie many moons ago as a kid in junior high, and then again in high school, I was disturbed by how 12 people can go into a jury room with evidence that is incomplete and just vote unanimously (you're right, one person stood his ground followed by others) for someone to be put to death. (Yes, naysayers, what if the person actually did commit the crime? That's not my point right now so just shut up for a moment.) It bothers me that a jury of ones peers can think, "oh, this is open and shut" when there's reasonable doubt of a person's guilt. And while I know that those on a jury spend a great amount of time deliberating the fate of someone's innocence or guilt, I think the reason that this movie was so powerful for me was because even if you don't know the person whose life you are deciding from any other stranger on the street, there will be something you relate to and so your position will be influenced by that relation.

    Everybody in that room had a conscience. Everybody in that room had something that would make up his mind about whether the kid was guilty or not even without all the evidence. I believe this movie is in the position it is on the list because, as Brian Rathjen wrote on under the synopsis "As the deliberations unfold, the story quickly becomes a study of the jurors' complex personalities (which range from wise, bright and empathetic to arrogant, prejudiced and merciless), preconceptions, backgrounds and interactions. That provides the backdrop to Mr. Davis' attempts in convincing the other jurors that a "not guilty" verdict might be appropriate." Couldn't have said it better myself!

    Would I watch it again? Yes, and I probably would use it as a teaching tool as well!
    Would I add it to my collection? Yes
    And yes there is a Tony Danza version...this one from 1957 is NOT it!

    #17 12 Angry Men: This yakkety-yak and back-and-forth, it's gettin' us nowhere.

    1957. dir. Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam.

    Seen it before? Yes.

    My 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Schmidt, was THE legendary strict teacher. Before we even got to junior high, we heard whispered tales about the piles of homework she assigned, the brutal punishments doled out to kids who misbehaved, etc. When we finally got to junior high, she announced she was retiring, and we would be her last class. This was actually a little disappointing, because she went easy on us. She was nice to us. Didn't give us a whole lot of homework, certainly not as much as Mrs. Messina, the 6th grade teacher. And we watched a lot of movies. This was one of them.

    Watching movies in school was the best. There was no better feeling than seeing the TV/VCR setup in the classroom when you walked in. And we watched this one TWICE. Here was the assignment: Watch the movie once. Then, we assign you a juror number, and watch it again, but this time pay special attention to your juror. Now write an essay from that juror's POV. Piece of cake if you got #8 (Henry Fonda) or #3 (Lee J. Cobb)... damn near impossible if you got #2 (the guy who did the voice of Piglet) of #6 (some guy, had hardly any lines.) I forget who I got, I think it was #11 (the immigrant guy.)

    Anyway. This movie was adapted from a stage play, and it shows; virtually the entire movie happens inside a sealed jury room, as the 12 titular angry men* discuss the facts of a capital murder case. At first the vote is 11-1 in favor of execution, with #8 as the lone holdout. As it turns out, much of the evidence is not as solid as it first appeared. There's quite a bit of screaming and yelling among the jurors, as several of them seem to be taking the case personally for various reasons. There's an undercurrent of class and prejudice to many of the arguments (the kid is from the slums... as is one of the jurors).

    It's pretty well acted; the jurors have distinct personalities, and it makes you think about which one you identify with. Personally I liked #1 (Martin Balsam), who just wanted everybody to calm down and talk like adults. I guess as an 8th grader I was more impressed with the writing than I am now; it's kind of melodramatic in spots -- looking at your big scene here, #10 (Ed Begley) -- but it's definitely worth seeing anyway.

    *Yes. 12 Angry MEN. This movie, like Reservoir Dogs before it, fails the Bechdel Test with flying colors by not including a single woman with a speaking part. Won't be the last either; I don't think Shawshank Redemption or The Great Escape have any women either. What's weird here is that there's no real reason for ALL of the jurors to be men. Some of them could easily have been women. In fact, they staged it as such in our high school. Ah well, I guess Hollywood is just sexist that way.

    Position on the list: 7
    Another fantastic waste of time from 8th grade: This one project where we had to create an island, complete with animals and a language. Good night, Mrs. Schmidt, wherever you are.

    Here comes a new challenger

    There is a new movie on the list: 3 Idiots, which is the "highest grossing Bollywood film of all time" and apparently made every Indian critic's Top 400 list. It only has 4300 votes, which is by far the fewest on the list (the second least is Nights in Cabiria with 9807... The Dark Knight has over 400,000) which means this might be a temporary blip. Or who knows, maybe it's the next Slumdog Millionaire. I'll keep an eye on it.

    (oh, and apparently the movie that got bumped was Blood Diamond, the rare film that my wife stayed awake for but I fell asleep.)

    This inattention to detail was typical of the laziness the show’s narrator was known for.

    I complained about the unnecessary narrator in my (500) Days Of Summer writeup... here's a list of movies where the narration actually contributed something.

    BTTF: one more thing

    The sequels get a bad rap, but Part II is #4 on my list of "best sequels" behind The Godfather Part II, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and Aliens. The best sequels expand and re-imagine the world of the first movie, and don't just rehash it for quick cash, like, for example, National Treasure 2. Loved the 2015 scenes and the "alternate" 1985. You know, it's 2010 now, where is my flying car? And why doesn't my house greet me in a robot voice when I enter?

    Unfortunately neither sequel made the imdb top 250, so we won't be rewatching them any time soon. Sorry, but I've got a whole stack of 3-hour historical epics that won't just watch themselves.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    #16 Back to the Future: Great Scott!

    1985. dir. Robert Zemeckis, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover.

    Seen it before? About four thousand times or more

    Where do I begin? I mean, Sam pretty much summed it up for me too. So maybe I'll go in a different direction...While I like Eric Stoltz I am really glad that things didn't pan out with him as Marty McFly. Michael J. Fox is just so perfect for this role. Zemeckis and Gale even mentioned that he was the person they had in mind when they wrote the script.

    Though several decades have passed since the 80s and even more since the 50s, I find it is still fun to think about whether or not you would get along with your parents if you were to travel back to when they were your age (as a teenager that is). I'm fairly sure that as a twenty something I would have absolutely gotten along with my parents, since I actually was around to witness the end of their twenties as a young kid. There's even a website where you can add pictures of your parents from when they were younger (and cooler).

    Would I watch it again? Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Huh? Think, McFly. Think! of COURSE I'm going to watch it again...and again, and again, and again!
    Would I add it to my collection? It's been there for a long time (along with the sequels).

    #16 Back to the Future: My density has bought me to you

    1985. dir. Robert Zemeckis, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover.

    Seen it before? About four thousand times

    Rounding out our Sunday triple feature with an old favorite. Yes we watched 3 movies today. What? It was like 11 degrees out and the Bears missed the playoffs.

    This is probably the best time travel movie ever made. The plot is pretty much perfect. There's absolutely nothing wasted here. One of Kurt Vonnegut's rules of fiction is that every sentence should either advance the story or develop characterization. In this movie, everything they show you, every line and prop is important somehow. It all builds to a great action finale. It's like a Swiss watch.

    Favorite part of the movie: the famous Mister Sandman Sequence, where they throw every possible 1955 reference onto the screen in the span of about 30 seconds. Really sets the scene, and you can watch it over and over and still notice new details (in both the 1955 town and the 1985 town; look for the sign that says "Moved to Lone Pine Mall" and the porno titles on the theater.)

    The dialogue is great, way too quotable. Also the soundtrack is fantastic. Usually I hate Alan Silvestri (he of such boring crap movie scores as Forrest Gump and the Father of the Bride movies, among many others) but his score gives the whole thing a more epic feel. Great movie.

    Position on the list: 78
    Hey you: Get your damn hands off of her

    #15 Rocky - Hey Stallone, why don't you take the marbles out of your mouth?

    1976. dir. John Avildsen, starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young.

    Seen it before? Yes

    Oh wait, that's how you talk!
    We watched this on our Comcast On Demand feature because it was on HD and I didn't feel like watching blurry versions of people on the television downstairs. In other words we had to turn the volume up pretty high because we couldn't understand half of what Stallone was saying.

    Truth be told I hadn't seen this movie in ages. I forgot that he wasn't married to Adrian from the very beginning. Three of my favorite parts were totally non-fight scenes...
    -When Rocky gets interviewed inside the meat cooler
    Rocky: I just want to say hi to my girlfriend, OK? Yo, Adrian! It's me, Rocky.

    -Rocky and Adrian speak before the fight
    Adrian: [just before the big fight] I'll be here waiting for you.
    Rocky: How 'bout I stay here and you fight?

    -Adrian visits Rocky's apartment for the first time
    Adrian: Is this you?
    Rocky: Yeah, that's me when I was eight years old, that's the Italian Stallion when he was a baby.

    -Rocky cracks four eggs into a glass and drinks it

    -and let's not forget the famous climbing the stairs scene when he has trained so much he doesn't get winded!

    The music is quite motivating. The story was okay. Not for the faint hearted because of all the boxing. I think there was a really good reason I hadn't seen this since I was a kid. And someone's going to have to explain to me the appeal of drinking raw eggs, a trend which I remember well from when I was living in the Philippines...although I think they were raw eggs being dropped into Sarsi.

    Would I see it again? I'd rather watch Brad Pitt in Fight Club
    Would I add it to my collection? Nah.

    #14 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - a movie I just couldn't stay awake for...

    1964. dir. Stanley Kubrick, starring Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens.

    Seen it before? No.

    despite the movie being pretty damn good. The problem with having such a nice and comfortable place to view movies is that sometimes one can get too comfortable which leads to falling asleep. So for now I'll write about what I saw thus far...

    I loved George C. Scott as General Turgidson. He was bumbling as he tried to explain the situation to the president of the USA in the war room and then when he got the phone call from his girlfriend I was laughing hysterically. And furthermore, anyone who can deliver the line ending with "precious bodily fluids" and not completely lose it in laughter is just a class act. I saw the H-bomb explosion and the insane man, whom I believe to be Slim Pickens, riding on the bomb as it fell out of the plane...but I will have to finish my review at a later date....

    So here I am in May thinking I have written this blog post already and Sam informs me that I hadn't. The truth is I re-watched this movie the day after I fell asleep to it. I saw the crazy guy riding the bomb. It's been a while but I must say that like the other Kubrick films I am so not a fan...though, in hindsight I suppose I like this better than Full Metal Jacket! Wait til later to see just how exasperated I become at the fact that Kubrick is on this list a staggering number of times!

    Watch it again? I did didn't I?
    Own it? Nope

    #15 Rocky: He's got some meat sign on the back of his robe...

    1976. dir. John Avildsen, starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young.

    Seen it before? No.

    This is one of those movies that everybody in the world had seen but me, and I'm not sure I was really missing much. You know the story. Sylvester Stallone is Rocky Balboa, who is a low-rent thug and semi-pro boxer from Philadelphia. He gets challenged to fight the world champ Apollo Creed, so he trains, and then there's a fight, "Adrian!!", the end. I really can't stand watching boxing. It's so disgusting how bloody they get.

    Stallone wrote the script himself, and apparently he refused to sell it to anybody unless they let him star. Too bad, because he's the worst part of the movie. I could hardly understand him because he mumbles all of his lines. I wasn't much a fan of the script either, I think it needed to be tightened. For example, what was that scene with the 12 year old about?

    I usually don't care for sports movies, and this one didn't change my mind.

    Position on the list: 212
    One of my all-time favorite Simpsons episodes: The Homer They Fall, which is pretty much a note-for-note parody of this movie

    #14 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: ... The bomb, Dmitiri.... The hydrogen bomb!

    1964. dir. Stanley Kubrick, starring Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, George C. Scott, Slim Pickens.

    Seen it before? No.

    Holy crap was this movie brilliant. It's a perfect satire of the paranoia of the Cold War. Sterling Hayden plays General Jack D. Ripper, who is so worried about his "precious bodily fluids" that he orders an unprovoked nuclear strike on the USSR. (Easy to laugh at now, but there were some people who really did think water flouridation was a Communist plot.) Through a series of accidents and ill-conceived fail-safes, the combined US and USSR governments find it impossible to stop him.

    The performances are hilarious, particularly George C. Scott as General Turgidson. Peter Sellers plays three roles, but they're all totally different; it's not like when Eddie Murphy does it. Much of the dialogue involves the actors saying the most insane things possible with a totally straight face. In fact, Slim Pickens wasn't even told it was a comedy.

    My favorite scenes:
    • Gen. Turgidson tries to explain what's happening to the war room
    • Slim Pickens riding the bomb, and waving a cowboy hat
    • The President calls the Soviet premier, who is apparently drunk - we only hear the President's side of the conversation, and it's hilarious
    • The whole "mine shaft" discussion
    • Mandrake needs to talk to the president, but all the phones are down, except a pay phone; he has no change, so he has Col. Guano shoot the lock off of a Coke machine
    I can't believe I've never seen this movie before. Well, I guess that was the point of this project.

    Position on the list: 30
    Making his film debut: James Earl Jones
    I suppose this was inevitable: My wife fell asleep 20 minutes in. Wake up sleepyhead Patricia Nicole!

    #13 The Kid - 1921s social commentary about adoption and the poor...kind of.

    1921. dir Charlie Chaplin, starring Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan.

    Seen it before? Not sure...ask my dad!

    When I was younger my dad would make us kids watch Charlie Chaplin movies because he got a kick out of them. I didn't understand them at the time. I remember feeling bored mostly, come on, I was like, 7 or 8, what the hell did I know? and occasionally I was entertained by the funny walk of the Tramp and the slapstick physical comedy. 20+years later I find myself watching this movie and really rather enjoying it. So first I would like to say, "Thanks Dad for making us watch Charlie Chaplin even if I didn't understand it back then."

    Moving on. I've said it once and I'll say it again: I can't stand when there is a loving, caring, and nurturing parent who is raising a child to the best of his/her ability whose child gets taken away because someone of authority deems the parent unfit. Sure they were living in squalor but the child had a bed, a roof over his head, and food on the table, not to mention he was loved by someone who might not have had a ton of money (or much at all). I mean, come on, the note said, "please love and care for this orphan child" and so he did, even though he didn't know the first thing about children.

    The kid was actually quite adorable. It broke my heart seeing him reach out for his "dad" when he was being taken away. Hard to believe he'd end up playing Fester. It's kind of like when Daniel sometimes (because let's face it, he rarely did this) cried when we would leave him at day care.

    Charlie Chaplin is actually a really good looking guy behind that mustache. Of course the whole time we were watching I was imagining my brother in law Jack as Charlie Chaplin...something to do with the faces Chaplin makes. The other half of the time I was imagining Robert Downey Jr. who actually did play Charlie Chaplin in 1992. I know weird, but whatever.

    Favorite scene: the fight scene where "John" kicked the crap out of a bigger bully boy.
    Least favorite scene: when "John" was getting taken away
    Would I see it again? YES
    Would I add it to my collection? Sure

    #13 The Kid: A smile, and perhaps a tear

    1921. dir Charlie Chaplin, starring Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan.

    Seen it before? No.

    That little mustache is a great look; too bad that Hitler guy had to ruin it.

    This is the earliest movie on the list - and also the shortest at only 50 minutes. (I think there's a 68 minute cut out there, but it's not on the DVD.) It's one of the first movies to mix comedy and drama. The drama aspect is a little overwrought and melodramatic but Chaplin's brilliant physical comedy balances it out nicely.

    Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed, starred, produced, and wrote the music. He also invented the Snuggie. (no, seriously! watch the movie and you'll see what I mean.)

    Chaplin plays his famous "tramp" character with the flat-footed duck walk and the ridiculously over-sized clothing. Jackie Coogan - yes, the same one who played Uncle Fester much later in life - plays a little orphan boy whom The Tramp adopts. The kid is pretty useful; he beats up a much bigger kid, makes a whole stack of pancakes, and helps The Tramp with his moneymaking scam. I should show Daniel this movie...

    Position on the list: 192
    Not to be confused with: Disney's The Kid, which came out in 2000, stars Bruce Willis and Spencer Breslin, and is fucking terrible