Saturday, January 23, 2010

#31 The Graduate - probably didn't think of what was going to happen afterward

1967. dir. Mike Nichols, starring Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross.

Seen it before? Not entirely

I've seen the first seduction scene and the ending. The rest of the movie, not entirely. I have to agree with Sam about Mrs. Robinson being sultry and seductive at first but then a complete psycho toward the end of the movie. Why do that to a character? And what was Elaine thinking? She's going to run off with Ben? Really? What about the relationship with her parents? Don't get me wrong, clearly Ben did not rape her mother but ew! The thought of a girl sleeping with a guy who has slept with her mother is totally repulsive!

Feeny or KITT (depending on what generation you belong to) was Ben's dad. Mr. Roper was, funnily enough, a landlord. As for Dustin Hoffman, DAMN was he ripped for this movie! I like Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson because she had the right amount of sexiness and chutzpah to carry the role. Her husband should have kept his mouth shut to Ben about sowing his oats before making a decision about graduate school.

Now I know Sam talked about how this movie has been parodied many, many times but I think my favorite parody was from Wayne's World 2. Hilarious!

Would I see it again? Yes I suppose I would
Would I own it? No, not my thing.

#31 The Graduate: I think you're the most attractive of all my parents' friends.

1967. dir. Mike Nichols, starring Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross.

Seen it before? No.

Back to 1967 again, for another one from the Everybody Besides Me Has Seen It Files. Dustin Hoffman plays Ben Braddock, and adrift recent college graduate who begins an ill-advised affair with his parent's friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then an even more ill-advised affair with her daughter (Katharine Ross). Of course, you knew that; this movie has become cliche to the point that "Mrs. Robinson" has become a cultural shorthand for an older woman with a younger man. I think this is another one of those "you had to be there" sort of things, where the impact of this film had been dulled by passage of time an being ripped off by too many inferior films.

Dustin Hoffman is pretty good in his breakout role. Surprisingly, this is the only one of his movies in the Top 250. I would have expected to see Tootsie or Rain Man or Midnight Cowboy but I guess not. We'll be seeing Katharine Ross two more times, in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and Donnie Darko. Anne Bancroft turns it half of a good performance - in the first half her character has a great combination of melancholy and sultriness. Then, unfortunately, she turns into a Mommie Dearest cartoon by the end.

The real star here is the music of Simon and Garfunkel. Much like the last movie we saw, the soundtrack is dominated by one artist. I suppose it's a defensible choice, but how many montages of Ben moping to the sounds of "Scarborough Fair" did we really need to see?

Position on the list: 156
They were going to remake this with: Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. urge to kill.... rising...

#30 Magnolia - proving once again that I can stay awake to watch a crazy man's movie

1999. dir. P.T. Anderson. starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Melora Walters, Jason Robards, Philip Baker hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Jeremy Blackman.

Have you seen it before? Not entirely

Exodus 82, Raining frogs, 9 characters who seemingly have no real relationship with each other: an egomaniac who makes it his life's work to seduce women at any and all costs, a child genius (when he was a child), another child genius (whose father is actually a pretty awful guy), the ailing man in bed with a hot young wife who tries (and fails) at suicide twice, the male nurse who takes care of the man in hospice, oh, and another ailing man who happens to be a game-show host, with a daughter who is self-loathing, a coke-head and crazy but is pretty damn sure her father did something to her he wasn't supposed to, and a cop who is pretty lame at his job.

You would think these people have nothing to do with each other but then you'd be wrong because you didn't watch the movie close enough. The egomaniac (Cruise) is the son of the ailing man who is bedridden and happens to be married to the hot woman and cared for by the male nurse. He produced a game show which starred the other ailing man who met the former child genius, works with the current child genius, and happened to be accused by his daughter, the nutty coke-head who ends up with the lame cop, of abuse. Yes, there's more to the story but if I had to suffer Paul Thomas Anderson's insanity, to find out what I'm saying you are going to have to as well!

There's more behind the story and I'm sure I'll get more out of it on a second or third watch but I'm going to have to be high or drunk in order for you to get me to watch it again any time soon...and I have 220 other movies still to watch. Cruise was A-MA-ZING! Though I think the costume department got a bit carried away when he was in his back to Risky Business flashback moment.The guy who plays the kids' father was one of those parents, as an educator, I just wanted to beat over the head and scream at for treating his son like a cash cow and not the truly gifted child he is...also, where the hell was the kid's mother?!?!? The lame cop spent too much time narrating his police duties which led to showing just what an incredibly bad cop he is...there was a story line where he went into a woman's house and discovered a dead body in the closet then it cut to the next scene where he's in the background (remember what I typed just before this last phrase) and doesn't do any of the talking about what he saw. Julianne Moore plays every role really well. I so have a crush on her!

The movie as a whole didn't irritate me despite the length of over three hours of film...I swear, I can't imagine there were deleted scenes but really, truly, there were!...nearly as much as the featurette of Paul Thomas Anderson and the making of this film...PTA is a complete nut job! He's high, or drunk, or really, just mom says true creative geniuses don't talk like regular people and I didn't understand what she meant until I watched the extras on the Blu-ray. The guy is freaky! If I was tripping I would probably have understood only a fraction of the things coming out of his mouth. It was good to see the other characters in their "real-life" personalities poke fun at their writer/director.

Would I see it again? Ask me in a few years
Would I add it to my collection? Probably not

#30 Magnolia: but it did happen

1999. dir. P.T. Anderson. starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Melora Walters, Jason Robards, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Jeremy Blackman.
And he's runnin from the devil, but the debt is always gaining
And if he's worth being hurt, he's worth bringin' pain in
When the sunshine don't work, the Good Lord bring the rain in
Unforgiven got me thinking about the films of Clint Eastwood. He has a great reputation and two Best Director Oscars because his films are always of high quality… but that’s it. He never really does anything that makes you say “Wow!” or “Huh?” He never confuses you, or angers you, or really challenges you in any way. And I think that’s what separates the truly great ones like David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, etc. from people like Clint Eastwood or Ron Howard.

Magnolia is clearly the work of an insane genius. That is not to say that it is perfect – pretty far from it actually. It is a sprawling, ungainly mess; it is full of characters, scenes, and plot devices that don’t quite work. But it is also fascinating and endlessly rewatchable, and you have to admire the sheer bravado and artistry of it.

OK, for example, here's the second most-famous scene: About two hours and fifteen minutes in, the nine main characters are all at the end of their ropes, having suffered various humiliations and tragedies. (Yes, nine main characters. And, yes, two hours and fifteen minutes. Did I mention this thing is over 3 hours long?) One of them starts singing along to the radio. Or maybe it’s a CD? If so, that makes what happens next even stranger: The other eight sing along with her.

Keep in mind that they’re all in different places, and many of them haven’t met each other. No explanation given, and nobody talks about it again. The first time I saw it, I was like “What the hell was that? Dream sequence? Music video?” Clearly the director was trying to Say Something with this scene - damned if I can figure out what; something about connectedness, or coincidence, or the hand of God? - but kudos to him for not watering it down. If this was the movie Crash, they would have had Don Cheadle give a little speech explaining what the filmmaker meant.

Anyway, I prattle on, so here's what I liked about this movie:
  • Tom Cruise. Pretty much dominates any scene he's in. Also gives you some great relationship advice.
  • Favorite Tom Cruise scene: "Men are Shit," after the interview lady totally destroys him. He can almost keep it together but not quite.
  • Melora Walters. She never really became a big star which is unfortunate. Her character in this movie is about fourteen different kinds of screwed up, and she plays all of them perfectly. Why was she crying when she watched the game show?
  • Favorite scene of hers: When she's on the date, and she totally bares her soul, and wants to get past all the "piss and shit and lies", and what does idiot John C. Reilly do? Get all judgmental because she was cursing. Check out her facial expression right after he says that.
  • The weird old guy in the bar played by Henry Gibson. He speaks in rhymes and riddles and rub-a-dub.
  • The phone service where you can order groceries and porn. Why don't we have that in Chicago?
  • Earl's last monologue. This was Jason Robards' last movie.
  • The aforementioned sing-along scene. There are a thousand ways this could have gone wrong but I think it worked.
  • The ending. Exodus 8:2. Shocking and improbable, but it makes sense in context.
  • Probably a lot of other stuff...

    And here is what I didn't like...
  • I like the idea of John C. Reilly's character, but they just let him keep talking. His non-stop stream of COPS cliches really gets tiresome. It was sort of funny (unintentionally?) at the end when he's lecturing William H. Macy and there's a voiceover at the same time of him talking.
  • The whole game show plot line. Too obvious and melodramatic.
  • You know, what kind of insane-ass game show is that anyway? A live show with kids? Seriously? And what ten year old knows Moliere's full name?
  • Jon Brion's score. They overused it. The best parts of the movie are when it's just quiet, or you just hear the pounding rain in the background, and they let the actors work.
  • The Quiz Kid Donnie Smith storyline. A lot of the dialouge when he's drunk makes no sense. "It's a dangerous thing to confuse children with angels", what the fuck is that supposed to mean?
  • The whole bit with Marcie, and the kid rapping about the "Worm". The movie abandons this plot halfway through, so you don't get any closure. It's annoying.

    damn this is long. goodnight.

    Position on the list: 209
    Highly recommended: The "video diary" on the Blu-Ray version. It's like a movie unto itself. P.T. Anderson is totally on drugs, and his co-producer is trying to retain his sanity, and Julianne Moore is trying to say nice things, and it's just hilarious.
    EDIT: Holy shit. The Seduce And Destroy Seminar featurette. LMAO.
  • Friday, January 22, 2010

    #29 Cool Hand Luke - The basis of #1?

    1967 dir. Stuart Rosenberg, starring Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon.

    Seen it before? Yes, senior year of high school for psych class.

    I remember watching this movie in Coach Schuetz's class because he wanted to show us operant conditioning, punishments and rewards, and behavioral psychology. I remember seeing the part when Luke gets his nick name; when he eats the eggs and lays on the table in the Christ on the Cross pose. I remember thinking, "why was George Kennedy's character SO into having Luke in the chain gang when he was clearly the ring leader?"

    I didn't mind that we were going to watch this movie as part of the top 250. I loved the part when Luke convinced the guys to work at a quicker pace so that they could finish sooner. My heart ached when I saw the relationship he had with his mother and then that he was put in solitary because they didn't want him to escape...which I think made it worse. He was already rebelling in the beginning which got him into his two year term to begin with. Of course putting him in solitary, and in essence keeping him away from the funeral, would make him want to run!

    I forgot about the beginning with the parking meters and how he was a service man who entered and left the service with the same distinction. But I didn't forget the tanned topless men or Paul Newman's smile. I remembered that Luke was also compared to Christ...why we were discussing that in public high school is beyond me.

    So now onto my Shawshank comparison...Luke is Andy Dufresne. Dragline was Red. The rest of the chain gang were the rest of the men Red and Andy would hang out with and eat lunch with. I wonder then if there is actually this type of camaraderie in real prisons. When Martha Stewart finished her 5-month sentence she talked about how she found a group of women to spend time with while she was in jail. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go to jail to find out if inmates act like kids did in high school with cliques and who is in and who is not in, but watching these two movies has got me wondering.

    I know this posting sounds really bizarre and I attribute that to the fact that I'm watching Magnolia and it's terribly confusing and now I sound like I haven't a coherent thought in my head.

    Would I watch it again? Probably
    Favorite part? The egg scene - hilarious
    Part that made me tear up (aside from the obvious)? When the guys help him eat his giant plate of rice

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    Snub List

    Nothing tonight, but I just got 3 Blu-rays from Netflix: two much-loved classics from the 1960's that I haven't seen, and one totally baffling movie from the 1990's that I have seen, and will probably write 4000 words about...

    Anyway, here's my Snub List: The five movies that I'm most disappointed are not on the list.

    5. Robocop. Great action movie, with some interesting social commentary about consumerism and the decline of American cities. Loved the cast, especially Kurtwood Smith and Ronny Cox. I'd buy that for a dollar.

    4. This Is Spinal Tap. One of the funniest comedies of the 1980's. The music is fun to play in Rock band.

    3. Adaptation. Mind-bending and funny. Takes "meta" storytelling to unexplored new places.

    2. Office Space. yeah... ahh, I'm gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Saturday... great...

    1. Boogie Nights. This movie is so freakin' genius. Sure he ripped off Scorsese and Tarantino but who cares. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. How is this not on the list?

    Honorable mentions: Lost In Translation, Idiocracy, Coming To America, Being John Malkovich, Anchorman, any of the "classic" Disney animation.

    #29 Cool Hand Luke: What's your dirt doin' in his ditch?

    1967 dir. Stuart Rosenberg, starring Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon.

    Seen it before? No.

    Before I begin here, may I just ask - That Tooth Fairy movie, starring The Rock - they're joking, right? That's not a real movie?

    Anyway, Cool Hand Luke. You read that correctly, I haven't seen it before now. On the other hand, this is one of those movies that's been parodied and ripped off so many times that it all felt very familiar. Sort of like Citizen Kane, which I'm pretty sure you could assemble entirely from clips from The Simpsons.

    The titular Luke is Paul Newman, playing his usual too-cool-for-the-movie self. At the beginning of the movie, he gets drunk and destroys some parking meters, so they sentence him to do 2 years at a prison camp. At first it's all fun and games, and he's pretty much able to smirk his way through life. He eats 50 eggs for some reason. Then he tries to escape, and things get complicated...

    OK, so:
  • Obvious Christ imagery. Lots of it. He gets beaten up pretty bad a few times but he just takes it. It's not quite as bad as that snuff film my mother-in-law made me watch but it was close.
  • Also Luke is constantly holding his arms out as if being crucified, and at one point they even put a white robe on him.
  • 60's counterculture: Luke just doesn't dig your rules, man.
  • What was with that Plastic Jesus song?? That came out of nowhere.
  • I want a pair of those mirror sunglasses. That guy was harsh, I don't think he said two words the whole movie.
  • I thought George Kennedy (the Garlique guy, and he won Best Supporting Actor for this movie) was pretty funny. Such an obvious man-crush on Luke.
  • Hey, it's Trapper John!
  • The scene with the girl washing her car felt gratuitous. Not that I'm complaining.

    Position in the list: 125
    Should be sued for plagiarizing this: Shawshank Redemption
  • Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    #28 Léon - Hired hitman with child like qualities

    1994. dir. Luc Besson, starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello. Also released as The Professional.

    Seen it before? The last half several times...

    If you've ever wondered what kind of person makes a good hit man you could read a bunch of books about it...biographies about men or women who were hired hands (obviously caught) and then gave their stories...or you could watch this movie and wonder if there are hit men out there who are like Léon - Cold and calculating while on the job, and who happens to be a loner who takes care of a plant, doesn't know how to read (and therefore is taken advantage of by the man who sets up most of his hits), drinks milk and works out on a regular basis, and then spends his time at the movies watching Gene Kelly movies...and then takes in a girl who just lost her family and teaches her the art of the clean.

    I thought Jean Reno was excellent. I've seen him in French Kiss, the Da Vinci Code, Mission Impossible and now this and I just love him. He plays both sides, good guy and bad quite well. I think now I'm going to have to watch La Femme Nikita. My favorite line of his was:
    Léon: No women, no kids, that's the rules.
    And I just loved watching his interpretation of John Wayne during charades! Hilarious!
    I also loved his relationship with Mathilda because it was truly innocent...and it bothers me that people made it seem creepy. The man was practically Forrest Gump in terms of his sexuality (or lack thereof) and his child-like qualities of drinking milk and enjoying Gene Kelly movies. These lines speak for themselves:
    Mathilda: Leon, I think I'm kinda falling in love with you.
    [Leon chokes on his milk]
    Mathilda: It's the first time for me, you know?
    Léon: [wiping himself off] How do you know it's love if you've never been in love before?
    Mathilda: 'Cause I feel it.
    Léon: Where?
    Mathilda: [stoking her stomach] In my stomach. It's all warm. I always had a knot there and now... it's gone.
    Léon: Mathilda, I'm glad you don't have a stomach ache any more. I don't think it means anything.

    Now onto Natalie Portman - it's interesting to watch someone grow up on screen who is a year younger than me...and more interesting that I've practically done it backwards- The Other Boleyn Girl, The Darjeeling Limited, Where the Heart is, the new Star Wars movies, Everyone Says I Love You, and now this movie. She says that this was her acting school on the featurette that came with the movie. I for one can't imagine being 11 and working on this particular movie but I'm sure it was certainly a learning experience! And I can't disagree with Sam about Padme, but I can say that Harrison Ford said it best, "You can type this shit, George, but you sure can't say it."

    Meanwhile Gary Oldman just bothers me in the same way Christopher Walken bothers me. Both are incredibly great actors but both really creep me out. I hated what Gary Oldman's character was about. It enraged me that he killed the kids of the guy he was after....and then lied about it!

    Would I see it again? I have and probably will in the future
    Would I add it to my collection? No, it makes me too angry.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    #28 Léon: There is rules

    1994. dir. Luc Besson, starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman, Danny Aiello. Also released as The Professional.

    Seen it before? No.
    Your Uncle Arthur used to have a saying: "Shoot 'em all and let God sort them out." Unfortunately, one day he put his theory into practice. It took seventy-five Federal Marshals to bring him down. Now let's never speak of this again.
    - Marge Simpson
    This was quite a bizarre movie. Jean Reno plays Léon, a hitman living in New York. He's an odd sort of guy; I think he has Apserger's syndrome or something. He seems to not have much in the way of interests or hobbies, except going to see old movies. Drinks milk a lot. He's a really good hitman, though: the first thing we see him do is take down five heavily armed guards.

    So anyway, his neighbor is some sort of drug courier, with three kids. He steals some cocaine from his boss Gary Oldman, who proceeds to shoot the place up. Only the daughter Mathilda (Natalie Portman) survives. She's 12 or so, but she smokes, swears, dresses like a hooker, etc. Also she's sort of a psychopath. Gary Oldman is too, come to think of it; he plays that same crazy drugged out guy he usually plays. So Mathilda hides out with Léon, and he teaches her how to "clean" people... you know, kill them.

    Natalie Portman does a good job of skating the line between little girl and adult, and Jean Reno is pretty interesting as a guy who clearly isn't all with it, but overall I wasn't a huge fan.

    Position on the list: 34 Really? 34th? that can't be right.
    Amusing thing Natalie Portman said in the Blu-Ray bonus interview: "The Professional was sort of like my acting school." Looks like you forgot your lessons there, Padme.

    #27 District 9 - We are SO in trouble if this ever happens!

    2009. dir. Neil Blonkamp, starring Sharlto Copley, Vanessa Haywood, David James, Jason Cope.

    Seen it before? No.

    Shockingly enough I did like this movie. I liked the science fiction of how the alien weaponry could only be operated by the aliens due to their genetic make-up. Those were some BAD ASS weapons they had! Blew people up into little bits in no time flat!

    I was angry at the MNU people for calling Van der Merwe a traitor. They were going to harvest his organs while he was ALIVE!!!! His father-in-law sent him to District 9 to get rid of him because he didn't like him and couldn't think of another way. I was even mad at his wife for a while but she redeemed herself at the end. He was only trying to do his job and he got hurt in the line of duty and his company turned on him.

    What's disturbing is according to - "All the shacks in District 9 were actual shacks that exists in a section of Johannesburg which were to be evacuated and the residents moved to better government housing, paralleling the events in the film. Also paralleling, the residents had not actually been moved out before filming began. The only shack that was created solely for filming was Christopher Johnson's shack."
    From what I've seen in documentaries and other films, the trading of food and weapons that was in the movie actually happens in real life too. The gangs rule the slums. People dig through the trash to find food. Kids are taken away from their families and tote guns on others. The "prawns" were like art imitating life.

    If you think about it, if or when aliens come to this planet, the theories expressed in this movie will be, in essence, correct. Their technology will be far more advanced than ours is. We'll be wondering a lot about them and will hope to study them...and unfortunately, in doing so we'll probably kill them.

    Would I see it again? Actually, probably
    Would I add it to my collection? Only if it was given as a gift...I probably wouldn't buy it for myself.

    Forrest Gump, revisited

    OK, here it is: My alternate interpretation of Forrest Gump. Now, I know this movie is a sacred cow for some people, and if you're one of them, you may not wish to read this. If not, well, then, let's step through the looking glass...

    #27 District 9: I kill 3 humans, watch out for me.

    2009. dir. Neil Blonkamp, starring Sharlto Copley, Vanessa Haywood, David James, Jason Cope.

    Seen it before? No.

    This one comes to us all the way from South Africa, where an alien mothership has parked over downtown Johannesburg. (It's not quite as big as the ones from Independence Day, but same ballpark.) It's full of aliens that are kind of half-human, half crustacean, half-insect. This particular group of aliens appears to be the worker drones - they don't know how to fly the ship, so it just hangs there in the air. Eventually the humans have to get the aliens out of the ship, and set up a shantytown for them to live in... which becomes overcrowded and crime-ridden, so the corporation running things sets up a larger, crappier shantytown far away from Johannesburg. The guy placed in charge of it, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley, who is apparently not a professional actor... in fact I've never seen any of the people in this movie in anything else) gets in way over his head. Mayhem ensues.

    It's a pretty good sci-fi movie. I think there was some sort of allegory about apartheid or something, but I lost track because they had these cool alien weapons that made people's heads as-plode.

    Position on the list: 104
    South African swear words I learned from this film: Doos, fooken, bliksem

    #26 The Lady Vanishes - and it's probably a conspiracy

    1938. dir. Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty.

    Seen it before? No.

    The first of eleven Hitchcock films, and it was REALLY terrific!

    The first fifteen minutes were just weird for me. Everyone is stuck at a hotel due to an avalanche and the hotel puts two cricket fans in a room that is actually the maid's closet. Then a troubadour's performance gets interrupted by an annoying clarinetist. The maid changes a few times...and doesn't speak a lick of English. The hotel runs out of food in the restaurant. Let's just say it wasn't shaping up to be a good movie for me. Although, hindsight being 20-20 it was a clever way of introducing the characters!

    The first part of the train scene didn't seem too interesting but I'm glad I paid attention because the rest of the movie wouldn't have made sense otherwise!

    This movie had the perfect balance of mystery, excitement, a-ha moments, and actors with good screen chemistry. There was no way you could fall asleep to this movie once it finally started making you think.

    Margaret Lockwood is just so beautiful. The two cricket fans were just plain weird. Dame May Whitty was interesting as the eccentric nanny...considering there was more than met the eye with her. I didn't like Gilbert at first and truthfully I felt like for 95% of the movie he wasn't really taking Iris seriously. The doctor was creepy and his role in the movie just made me wonder if there are really people out there in our world today who are like him...and not in a good way!

    Would I see it again? Yes, for surely I missed something.
    Would I add it to my collection? Yes
    Reason I didn't like Gilbert?
    Gilbert: Come on, sit down, take it easy. What's the trouble?
    Iris Henderson: If you must know, something fell on my head.
    Gilbert: When, infancy?

    Reason I did like Gilbert?
    Gilbert: Can I help?
    Iris Henderson: Only by going away.
    Gilbert: No, no, no, no. My father always taught me, never desert a lady in trouble. He even carried that as far as marrying Mother.

    In other words, he reminds me of someone I know....

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    The real leader of the Rebel Alliance... R2D2. Read all about it here.

    #26 The Lady Vanishes: People just don't vanish and so forth.

    1938. dir. Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty.

    Seen it before? No.

    I counted the other day, and the director with the most movies on the list is the great Alfred Hitchcock, with eleven. Second most is Stanley Kubrick with nine, then Martin Scorsese with six. I don't think anybody else has more than four or five. It occurred to me that we were 25 movies in without having made a dent in the Hitchcock pile, so we decided to start at the beginning. (well, the beginning for the ones on the list; he had a few older ones like The Thirty-Nine Steps.)

    This one is like a play in three acts. Act One is a farcical comedy at a hotel that has become overcrowded due to an avalanche. We meet the main characters: a young American woman on vacation (Margaret Lockwood), this smarmy annoying guy who plays the clarinet (Michael Redgrave), two British guys who are WAY too into cricket (Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford), a couple cheating on their respective spouses (Cecil Parker and Linden Travers), and a slightly senile-acting governess (Dame May Whitty). A few key plot points are dropped here, and a musician gets strangled - we don't find out why until much later.

    Act Two: The movie becomes a psychological mystery story. The avalanche is cleared and everybody gets on the train. The heiress is sharing a compartment with the governess, and they become friendly. She takes a nap and when she wakes up, the governess has disappeared. Everybody says she was by herself the whole time. She suspects something is up - spoiler: she's right - and clarinet guy is the only one who believes her story.

    Act Three: well, I won't ruin it.

    This is really an excellent movie, and very innovative for the time it was made. Alfred Hitchcock delivers his usual blend of suspense, intelligent plotting, and dry British humor. Highly recommended.

    Position on the list: 235
    Hitchcock's cameo: In the train station at the end

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    #25 Forrest Gump - the man who did everything

    1994. dir Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field.

    Seen it before? Many, many times...

    And until I met Sam I thought everyone else had too.

    Forrest Gump is a simple minded man who grew up and did unbelievable things...met three Presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon) and John Lennon, and inspired Elvis; fought in Vietnam, played ping-pong, ran his own shrimping company, and ran - for "3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours"

    Contrary to Sam's view about how interesting the movie would be from Jenny's perspective, I think we saw just enough of her life to be able to piece it together. She was abused as a child. She continued to choose relationships where abuse was a norm. She used drugs and was screwed up for a time. The movie showed enough things she did throughout their lives that we didn't need to know the other stuff. In fact, that movie would have been SO different and so totally NOT a feel-good movie.

    And that's what I love about this movie. You feel good at the end of it. Yes, it's kind of a tear jerker - Forrest Gump: Mama always said, dying was a part of life. But you see several relationships in the movie which helped shape the simple man played by Tom Hanks...speaking of which - the role was originally intended for John Travolta, REALLY?!?!?! John freaking Travolta? and Bill Murray was also considered for the role...remember when we watched Groundhog Day and talked about how no one but Bill Murray could have played that role? Same thing here...Tom Hanks IS Forrest Gump!

    Great music. Amazing effects. And I just loved Gary Sinise! Lt. Dan is awesome! Sally Field was super cute as Forrest's mama. I also loved Bubba's cute was she when she questioned why Forrest was going into shrimping?!?!?

    Okay, Sam has to post tonight's flick and I'm tired.

    Would I watch it again? Is life like a box of chocolates?
    Would I add it to my collection? Yes, but I guarantee Sam's not buying it for me!

    #25 Forrest Gump: Then ah met the President... again...

    1994. dir Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field.

    Seen it before? Roughly half of it.

    There's a scene in this movie where Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has decided to run. No reason, just decided to run all over the country. He runs from Alabama to California to the Atlantic and back. People decide that he's inspired them, so they follow him. Then, in the middle of the desert, he just stops, because if he started running for no reason, why not stop for no reason? All the people who've joined him are confused and upset, I guess because they realized they followed some idiot out into the desert for no reason.

    This scene pretty much summed up the whole movie for me.

    This movie beat Pulp Fiction at the Oscars because people thought it was inspirational. What, exactly, could this have inspired them to do? Be incredibly, unbelievably lucky? Follow their dreams? Oh wait, Forrest Gump had no dreams. Every single thing he does in this movie is at somebody else's suggestion. Hey Forrest, play football! Join the army! Play ping-pong! (Assuming, that is, that he actually did any of those things. I was bored watching this and I came up with an alternate theory that Forrest Gump is an unreliable narrator, and he's cobbling together a life story that is 10% true, 70% stuff he saw on TV, and 20% stuff he just made up. Doesn't explain the magazine, though.)

    This is just pointless Boomer nostalgia, with a totally uninteresting main character. I would liked to have seen Jenny's POV through the whole thing. She had lots of inner conflict and saw a seedier side of history. In fact I think that would have been a better movie, if she was the main character.

    Position on the list: 39
    Seriously: It beat Pulp Fiction. The Oscars are a joke.

    #24 Return of the Jedi - she loves him because he's her brother!

    1983. dir. Richard Marquand, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones.

    See it before? Yep.

    So halfway through this movie Sam puts the display up and says something along the lines of "so this is when the movie starts going to hell" or something like that but like another fan I'm in the minority. I think the Ewoks are totally adorable! They're the reason I remember this movie...and seriously, what a cool bike chase!

    After that my favorite scene was probably Jabba's party.

    You kind of have to feel bad for Darth Vadar though don't you? I mean, really, think about it. The guy was Anakin Skywalker and the Force was strong within his veins. Then he gets lured into the Dark Side and beaten by his teacher (Obi-Wan) and is recreated to be a borg. And while people call him "Lord" he's still just following someone else's orders. He's essentially a PUPPET! AND he never got to know his son and daughter; not to mention the love of his life DIED!

    Alas everything was resolved and things went back to how they were supposed to be...

    Would I watch it again? Yup
    Would I watch all three in a row again? Um, I agree with Sam for once, some characters (Chewbacca and C-3PO) just get more annoying all in a row like that.

    #24 Return of the Jedi: There is... another... sk... Sky... walk... er... (urk)

    1983. dir. Richard Marquand, starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones.

    See it before? Yep.

    This one is better than I remember, particularly the first half, but it's still the worst of the original trilogy. The movie comes to a crashing halt at about the halfway point, when they introduce the Ewoks. Oh, they're cute and cuddly, and they just crap all over the whole story by turning into a Home Alone movie. Seriously, the Emperor sends down a squad of his best soldiers, and they get beaten by some crappy booby traps? This is a military version of what I've seen described as the "dumb Watson" effect -- the author needs to make a character appear smart, so they have him outwit people, but it backfires because the people he outwits are morons. Just as in the first movie, the Empire just makes countless mistakes.

    C-3PO just plain sucked. I kept track, and he pretty much did one useful thing the entire trilogy: disable the trash compactor on the Death Star. Besides that, he just bitched and slowed everybody down.

    Obi-Wan: "So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view." You're such a cock, Obi-Wan.

    I forgot how cool the Jabba's Palace sequence was. (Too bad Boba Fett had to die like a bitch.) Also Ian McDiarmid is great as the Emperor. Love the Scottish accent.

    Well that's about it. I do NOT recommend watching all three of those movies in a row. You get super irritated with some of the characters, particularly Chewbacca and the droids.

    Position on the list: 103
    Thing I can't convince my wife to do: Watch both Godfather movies in a row. Wouldn't that be awesome?

    P.S. Screw you, George Lucas. (No, we didn't watch this version; we watched the original cut with Sebastian Shaw.)