Damn I spend too much time watching Movies 3 : has there ever been a great third movie in a series?

  • 1. We Were Soldiers – 2002 You can describe this movie as either a World War 2 movie transplanted to The Vietnam War or William Wallace and the Patriot visit Vietnam. Either works. Though certainly a formulaic movie it does not mean it is not entertaining. Quite the contrary there is something very comfortable and comforting about this movie. There is either something ironic or just plain sad about that statement but we all find comfort our own way. I honestly think the first hunk from down under is trying to be the next John Wayne in America’s psyche. I am not sure America wants or needs a John Wayne anymore but bully for Mel for at least trying.
  • 2. Scream! Blacula Scream! –1973 While watching this movie I kept trying to remember characters from the old TV show Dark Shadows. I remembered Barnabas and I remembered the doc Julia who was in love with him. I also remembered that Joan Bennett was in it but I could not remember her character’s name (on further research it was Elizabeth Collins Stoddard). The fact I spent much of the time watching this movie thinking about something else is indeed an indictment of the quality of this film. That and the fact the Blacula character reminded me very much of old Barnabas.
  • 3. Stormy Weather – 1943 A standard old time Hollywood musical with a few exceptions. It is an all African American cast with some legendary musical and dance performers. You can find Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and most importantly the truly fabulous Nicholas Brothers in it. The movie is pretty silly and the acting (especially Horne) can be atrocious but you really do not mind. You just keep waiting for the next performance or dance number. Two other notes about this movie, Bill Robinson and Lena Horne are supposed to be two young lovers starting out together in the show business game but Horne was 26 when she made this movie and Robinson was 65. That’s right he was 65 years old. Now that is a May December romance for you. The other thing I loved about this movie was the clothes. By no means am I a clothes horse but the suits and clothes in this movie are just top notch.
  • 4. The Palm Beach Story – 1942 Certainly one of Sturges best movies which means it is a very very good movie. The lovely and oh so good Claudette Colbert is wondrous in this movie and Mary Astor is also very strong in the other female role of The Princess Centimilla. But the best performance is by long time character actor Robert Dudley as the Weinie King a prime example of how small roles can steal even the greatest of movies. One of his best lines “Cold are the hands of time that creep along relentlessly, destroying slowly but without pity that which yesterday was young. Alone our memories resist this disintegration and grow more lovely with the passing years. Heh! That's hard to say with false teeth!” This movie also has one of the more memorable slapstick routines from a Sturges movie with Colbert’s train ride down to Palm Beach with the Ale and Quail club. Sturges regular William Demarest is quite funny. If you like funny movies you really should watch this movie.
  • 5. The Bells of St. Mary -1945 If I was ever to find a magic lamp and was given the proverbial three wishes that came with it. I definitely know what one of them would be. I would want to go back in time and have a date with an unattached Ingrid Bergman. I cannot think of woman who has fascinated me more from all the movies I have watched in my lifetime. She of course has one of the greatest faces of all time but even more importantly there is a warmth and tenderness that just shines through in every performance she ever did. Even this movie where she spends the entire movie in a nun’s habit you cannot help but feel attracted to her. There is just the right mixture of understated sexuality and warmth that I find irresistible. This is a quite nice follow up to Crosby’s legendary performance as Father O’Malley in Going my Way.
  • 6. The Time Machine –2002 A passable if forgettable 90 minutes of movie viewing. Guy Pearce is a good actor and he is well cast as the nerdish scientist. The specials effects are good, especially the Time machine itself. The script veers at the beginning and end of the script from its source material but keeps some of the basic elements that made the book a guilty treasure.
  • 7. Life As A House –2001 I have a theory brewing that all movie criticism is pure crap because it is based on a faulty premise. The critic almost by definition is supposed to be objective. He or She is purportedly judging a movie based on pure artistic merit and the particular human’s experience should have no bearing on their judgment. I say poppycock.
    Life as a House is a prime example of my theory. The basis of this movie is about a father and a son who have been alienated from each other for years. The Father is dying and the son is a loser. Can the two of them working together find a way to get the son moving in the right direction and the father some closure before he leaves this earth.
    The script has one too many clichéd scenes of remorse. It has too many pat characters that simply fill out plot development with no other justification. The actor playing the son, Hayden Christensen, basically cannot act. Now based on those objective observations, you would think I did not like or would not recommend this movie. You would be wrong. Now consider a little basis of my own life’s experiences. My Father died when I was nine years old. I have spent a lot of my life trying to come to some understanding of how this happened and what my life would be like if it did not happen.
    When you consider my own life experiences, this movie starts to resonate a little more and I am able to overcome some of the shortcomings to grasp the message of this movie that it is never too late to try to turn it all around. The objective critic in me finds faults with the making of this movie, the subjective critic in me was bawling at the end. Since the basis of criticism is to let others know the merit of an artistic endeavor I am not sure either is valid. I guess that is why I would say I never consider the ramblings I do on movies critiques or recommendations. I guess my best definition would be delayed filtered stream of consciousness. Thankfully for the people who actually read this meandering mess they are indeed delayed and filtered as a true stream would probably get me arrested. The mind of an adult male is a very dangerous place.
  • 8. The Cat's Meow –2001 This is a very enjoyable movie with strong performances from Kristin Dunst, Edward Hermann and Eddie Izzard. The strongest performance though is from Joanna Lumley of Absolutely Fabulous fame. The message of this movie; Hollywood has been decadent for a long, long time. Wbat a surprise.
    I cannot tell you the last time ol ascot wearing; teenage girl chasing Peter Bogdanovich made a decent movie. A side note; has any man who has made it his trademark to almost constantly wear an ascot not received the leech reputation that Bogdanovich is famous for? How long into production do you think it was before he tried to make his move on Kristen Dunst? My guess would be 3 days. He does seen to have a fascination with young blondes. That does not make him different than a great majority of the male gender; it just means he has far more access and opportunity.
  • 9. M –1931 This is a fascinating movie and Peter Lorre’s performance is one of the all time best performances by any actor in any movie. Like a Vidalia onion, the more layers you peel away from this script and this movie the sweeter the reward. The story itself is fascinating but when you take it into context of the times it was made and the madness that was soon to engulf Germany you have a masterpiece.
    I have only seen four Fritz Lang movies, M, Metropolis, The Big Heat and Rancho Notorious. I think you can put those four movies up against almost any other director’s four best movies and I would like Lang’s chances.
  • 10. Bounce –2000 Since I currently live in the city of Cambridge, which is the hometown of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, I have always tried to give Ben a little slack for many of the bad movie choices he has made. I think it might be time to stop giving him the hometown discount though. If I have to sit through another movie where Affleck plays the slick salesman who is either uncorrectable or who has his heart mended by the love of a good woman, I might just scream. Bounce is the one where he has his soul saved by Gwyneth Paltrow.
    It is not a horrible movie and like so many other movies these days that is the problem. Movies like this are made with out any real thought of achieving a true artistic message or even a huge financial gain. It is made with the idea of being mediocre. You churn out the cookie cutter scripts; throw enough money at bankable stars so they cannot say no. You then hope to make a decent box office the first couple of weeks by marketing the hell out of the movie and hoping for a few critics who are in a good mood or for those Oliver Stone conspiracy types a few critics who can be bought that will sing the praises of mediocrity. I think the goal is to try to recoup 70% of the expenses in the making of the movie in those few weeks and then you are set to reap modest financial gains in the overseas, cable and video markets. Quantity over quality has always been the American way but it usually has very little to do with quality. Hollywood might be the shiniest of examples of American mediocrity. Now that might be the saddest thing I have written on this site.
  • 11. High Crimes –2002 Another example of what I will now and forever call the Bounce effect of moviemaking. Just take out bankable stars Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow and replace them with bankable stars Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. This one is smidgen better than Bounce only because Morgan Freeman is one of the better actors we have acting these days. Ashley Judd is also quite watchable and she is good in these tough heroines in peril roles. James Caviezel is one of those stars that I just do not understand how he has had a successful career. Every movie I see him in, he gives me the creeps. In some that is good for the story but others it is just disconcerting.
  • 12. Crush –2001 This is the most chickiest of chick movies I have seen in a long time. Three women who are each other’s best friend and also their worst enemies have problems when one of the near 40 year olds begins having sex with a much younger man. The fact that the 40-year-old woman looks remarkably like Andie McDowell makes this less unbelievable then usual. Of course the unbelievable part is that a woman as beautiful as Andie would be having trouble finding Sex partners in the first place. A
    A quick aside, one of the biggest fallacies ever perpetuated by the fairer sex is that beautiful women have trouble finding dates or more to the point sex partners. You know what I am talking about, the poor beautiful girl who is so pretty that men are too intimidated to ask them out on dates. Bullcrap, that is all I have to say is Bullcrap. The latest I heard about was Jennifer Love Hewitt. She is not even a beautiful woman but her mammaries alone would guarantee an unlimited supply of potential suitors. Now take into account her fame and her bankbook and she could have a different date every night for thirty years or until gravity takes care of her assets and good taste takes care of her popularity.
  • 13. Shallow Hal - 2001 A Farrelly Brothers movie with a little heart. Who would of thunk it? This is a typical Farrelly Brother’s movie in many ways; cheap gross out humor, bad but very catchy 60’s pop songs, and some over the top acting. It is also though the sweetest of their movies. Major props to Gwyneth Paltrow for donning the fat suit and Jack Black for the convincing conviction.
    This movie brought up an interesting remembrance for me that I would like to share with you my trusted readers. I used to work in a hotel up in Massachusetts that held many different kinds of conferences. One year they had an association called something like NFPA (The National Fat People Association). I am not sure if this the correct name but it basically was fat people who wanted to like themselves and also were working for the rights of fat people. There are two very interesting things I remember about this conference. The first, they had a fund to replace toilets in the hotel that would be broken during the conference. I believe there were over 40 toilets broken that year. That number was down from their record of 87 toilets. The Second thing was an amazing social and dating phenomenon that I never knew about. Since the majority of the association was women (fat men, rightfully or wrongly, do not suffer the same social stigma that fat women do) there is a group of men that follow this conference around every year looking for dates. They basically were fat women groupies. I write this not to make any judgments. Honestly. I am a firm believer it takes all kinds to make a village. Whatever floats a person’s boat and does not hurt the innocent, I say paddle away folks, just paddle that boat any damn direction you so choose. I actually write about this to show there may be some hope for mankind after all.
  • 14. Vanilla Sky - To show you how far behind I am in writing these write-ups I watched this movie on September 11 and I am not getting to writing about it until October 9. Life has gone a little haywire for me lately and I am sure I will fill in some of the details later in the list. How do I remember I watched this on September 11? Easy I bought the DVD just so I would not have to watch the continual embarrassment of a network TV reworking 9/11 into a Hallmark event. I feel there is a good rant inside me about the gross commercialization of everything in America including our tragedies but then I ask myself; why? We will market or sell anything that will be marketed or sold. That is America’s golden rule.
    As to the rewatch of Vanilla Sky, I liked it almost as much the second time. I would highly urge you ignore popular criticism on this movie and give it a try.
  • 15. The Postman Always Rings Twice -1946 The remake of this movie with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange holds truer to its great book inspiration by James Cain but this original starring John Garfield (If there are any Boston Red Sox fans out there, Garfield is a remarkable double for current centerfielder Johnny Damon) and Lana Turner well deserves its place in the Film Noir pantheon. This one has much more to do with Film Noir tenets than it does with the book. It has all basic elements of a great film noir movie. It has a schmuck everyman who mistakenly thinks he knows it all. It has a femme fatale leading lady, who is equal parts ambiguous motivations and beautiful packaging. It has murder, deceit and double crossing. The only part that really bothered me was the ending. But like many of these old Hollywood movies they needed to put on some type of happy ending even if it was as hollow as this ending.
  • 16. Changing Lanes -2002 Just as I get finished bashing Ben Affleck for his slick salesman roles he has to go and nail one. This is a very good movie. In some strange way it reminded me of an old fable; a fable warning of the dangers of frustration and impatience. In so many modern movies you need to eliminate the implausibility gene to enjoy and buy into the movie but with this one the implausibility is the actual heart of the movie. Either of the two protagonists just needed to do one thing different at numerous times and the results would have been far different. But the actual unfolding of the story is so well written that you could see how this could happen. Two men who are frustrated by things they can not control including each other, let the frustration drive them to the next stupid thing they each do. They know what they are doing is wrong but impatience is the driving force. It is indeed a modern fable for our so modern times.
  • 17. The Count of Monte Cristo -2002 James Caviezel who I bashed in the High Crimes write up is once again attempting to prove me wrong about a comment from earlier in the list. But in actuality the disconcerting nature I get from Caviezel works well in this classic tale of obsession and revenge. I have read the Count of Monte Cristo twice in my life. Once when I was teenager and I loved the swashbuckling adventure stories. I read it a second time in my early thirties and was amazed at the complexities hidden between all the adventures. It is a classic book. This movie aims more at my teenage reading but it does a great job of appealing to that teenage boy in me. As to the ending? Well, it is not like Hollywood redoing an ending of a movie to give us a happier ending is a surprise anymore
  • 18. Heartbreakers -2002 Mildly amusing and I think this is only because I was in a pretty good mood when I watched it. Plus a lot of the cast are actors I think are pretty good, with the notable exception of Jennifer Love Hewitt. Of course Miss Hewitt is the central character and gets most of the screen time. I guess that is why I only found it mildly amusing. It was a real nice role for Sigourney Weaver as she played against type as a sexpot con artist. You also get to hear her sing. Gene Hackman is very funny in this movie and I think he just took a lot of glee in playing a disgusting man. I hope Jennifer paid attention to some of her fellow actors to get a few pointers about her chosen profession. Of course, I am not really holding out a lot of hope for that actually occurring.
  • 19. The Salton Sea - 2002 Val Kilmer and Ton Cruise were in Top Gun together and though it was certainly a Cruise movie, I don’t think too many people would have been surprised if it was Val who had the megawatt career that Cruise has enjoyed. Kilmer career has sputtered with a few notable exceptions like his tremendous performance as Doc Holliday in Tombstone and his turn under the cape as Batman (though it was not the best Batman movie, I do think he was the best Batman). I really had not seen him act very much lately so I was looking forward to this movie because supposedly it was Kilmer’s comeback role. It does not disappoint as a performance, he is quite good. As a movie the plot is a little less than stellar. I think someone; whether it was the writer or director I don’t know, saw Requiem for a Dream one too many times. It is not in that class of that movie but it is entertaining enough.
  • 20. Forget Paris – 1995 This is minor Billy Crystal which of course seems somewhat redundant. There are worse ways to spend two hours of your life but there are plenty of things you could do with those hours that would be better. Two quick notes about it, Crystal is very believable as an NBA referee and some of the funnier moments are between Crystal and the NBA players. Also this movie is almost worth the two hours just for the scene with the pigeon and Debra Winger.
  • 21. Kissing Jessica Stein – 2002 This is like a young Woody Allen if he were a women and contemplating becoming a lesbian. Thoughts I would not put past the Wood man. You know what has been the best gift for the independent filmmaker? I say it is the so-called new sexual freedoms. By simply changing possible partners and other plot devices, it has allowed many old plot lines to be reinvented into these slick, cool art house movies. Since supposedly all possible plots have already been written, I guess this a good thing.
  • 22. Frailty -2002 This movie is classified as horror movie by almost everyone but to be totally honest, I never even thought of it as horror move. That may be why it is so good. I can not really say too much about this movie without possibly spoiling some of the plot but the main storyline of this movie is a man who supposedly hears messages from God. Of course God is in a pretty piss poor mood because he is telling him to start killing bad people. Even before this movie I always wanted to know why when god talks to people he (or she. This of course is a blatant attempt at political correctness. I am hoping this can serve as my token attempt for this edition of my list) is telling them to kill or do other bad things. Can’t God just pop in and say hello occasionally? Is that too much to ask from an all powerful deity?
    Actually this movie is very strong and if I was making a list of best movies of 2002 so far this would be vying pretty strongly with Changing Lanes and Signs as the best I have seen so far.
  • 23. Death to Smoochy -2002 Here is a prime example of why I may give up reading movie criticism. It has a way of skewing expectations. It can make a supposed great movie that is only good seem a disappointment and a movie that is supposed to be a horrible movie that isn’t horrible better than it actually is. Smoochy is actually an example of both. Smoochy had a great promotional campaign and expectations were very high. It had a great cast Williams, Norton and Keener are three pretty strong performers. Devito has done wonderful similar work specifically Throw Momma from the Train and the underappreciated War OF The Roses. The concept and most specifically the movie poster had many salivating at the possibilities. The movie comes out and bombs with the critics. It absolutely tanks and it also tanks at the box office. Do these two have any correlation? Absolutely. That is the power of criticism these days.
    I often rent movies like Smoochy just to see if the critics were right. Often I go into these movies with such low expectations I usually find something to like. Of course that could just be the contrarian in me. I have always espoused a rebellious persona, which in reality is pretty funny as I am as traditional as it gets on most things.
    Well Smoochy was not horrible. Norton did a fine very fine Woody Harrelson impression. Keener was her usual beguiling tough women. Robin Williams was really the problem here for me. His performance was Williams Nth degree manic. He is so over the top, so in your face you just wish he would go away. Also the ending was even by Hollywood standards remarkably bad and incongruous.
  • 24. Proof of Life-2000 I want to start this comment with something that has absolutely nothing to do with this movie. I have been having an irrational fear that I may be pregnant. While this would certainly help solve some of My wife and I child acquiring issues and also make me pretty darn wealthy as the first man to ever become pregnant, I really would not like to be pregnant. Forget the kick in the scrotum pain, child bearing seems like the mother lode of paindom to me. You ask why do you think you are Pregnant? It is simple; I have had a major huge craving for Dill Pickles. I have never been a big fan of dill pickles before so this of course has me very worried. I just felt I needed to share this with someone. Now back to the movies.
    Of course my pickle rant could just be a hollow attempt to fill space for a movie that was easily forgotten a few hours after watching it but even I could not be that shallow. Actually while I was watching this movie I spent most of the time watching to see if I could find the time when Meg and Russ first slept together off camera. I am not sure if I found it but there was this one time about forty minutes in that Crowe had a bigger smirk than usual. That will happen when you get one of America’s sweethearts to be a bad girl.
  • 25. The Shangai Gesture -1941 On this list somewhere I suggested If I found a magic lamp and received three wishes that one of them would be a date with a young Ingrid Bergman. Well I must say Gene Tierney from this movie might give her a run for her money. The Women was strikingly beautiful. She really could not act but then looks like hers made that less a necessity back then. It also happens to be true these days isn’t it Ms. Theron?
    This movie is pretty good example of films that helped inspire the Film Noir movement after the war. A ton of characters and not one of them is likely to be found in a church or giving a damn about it either. Strong performances from Walter Huston and Victor Mature make it well worth a viewing.
  • 26. Fall I actually had to go look up what this movie was since I had viewed it about a month ago. The fact I could not remember it is a pretty good indication of the quality. Actually all I remember is the dialogue was a cut above the normal low budget movie. I watched it at like 3 am in the morning when I had trouble sleeping. It also had the least attractive actress I have ever seen who was supposed to be the most beautiful girl in the world. She actually was a pretty good actress but she was, and this being charitable, a cute girl.
  • 27. The Princess and The Warrior –2000 I have seen this movie on various lists and for some reason I kept thinking it was an animated children’s movie. Boy was I wrong. This is actually Tom Tykwer’s follow up to Run Lola Run. It stars Lola star Franka Potente. I actually liked this one a little better. Lola was a kinetic adrenaline rush that left the viewer gasping this one has more of a story but still maintains some of the visual beauty of the earlier film. The thing I like about Tykwer’s films is his ability to transform you so completely into the world he is presenting. You actually get lost into this world of crazy and hurt people. And when you come back you feel a little better for your visit. That seems like a great recipe for any filmmaker.
    Potente could become a very big star. She has a certain vulnerability that the camera loves. She is one of the main reasons why I am looking forward to seeing The Bourne Identity.
  • 28. Sexy Beast –2001 Ben Kingsley deservedly gets most of the credit for this film. It is a truly remarkable to see the man who played Gandhi as a coiled ball of anger that could be unleashed at almost any moment. The scene where he is talking to himself in front of the mirror is truly frightening because it is so believable. But actually I wanted to talk about Ray Winstone’s performance as Gal. It is almost as remarkable as Kingsley. Poor Gal only wants to stay fat and retired in his Spanish Villa but like the Rolling Stones once opined “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Winstone does a remarkable job of portraying the indignation of a man who does not want to be bothered but is smart enough to know that Kingsley’s Don Logan is not someone to mess with. Kingsley’s performance is the flashy one but it is Winstone’s that keeps the film together. This one would go very well with Soderbergh’s The Limey as a double feature.
  • 29. Murder by Numbers 2002 This is actually Sandra Bullock’s best movie in some time. Of course considering the competition that is not saying a whole hell of a lot. This is a mix between Hitchcock’s Rope and the much underrated movie Oxygen that stars Maura Tierney who could very easily play Sandra Bullock’s sister without anyone having any issues. Oxygen is a better movie than this one and of course Rope is one of Hitchcock’s most often overlooked masterpieces. However Murder by Numbers is a Bounce (see comments above) movie that is a cut above it’s less than stellar intentions. It is a good role for Bullock, as she does not have to rely on her perkiness and cuteness to carry it off.
  • 30. 40 Days and 40 Nights -2002 Josh Harnett will be the next Tom Cruise if he is smart enough and his agent is powerful enough to get him in better movies. If they are not then maybe Colin Farrell will be the next Cruise. I think Harnett is more likable than Farrell but Farrell seems to have the better eye for scripts. This is not a bad step for Harnett; the first 75 percent of this movie is a very likable light comedy. He is very charming and sweet in that befuddled way women so seem to appreciate. I have never understood why women find helplessness attractive but I have not been above using my qualities for ineptitude on occasion to try to attract the opposite gender. Of course when the ineptitude is not backed up by killer pecs and a winning smile then it seems to be less effective.
    The last quarter of this movie is a mess and as has been pointed out elsewhere on this site is bordering on disgusting. Rarely have I seen a movie take such a disastrous turn as they do in the last quarter here. The only thing the horrible ending does is make you consider this movie on a higher level than anyone should. Of course then when you think of the premise, abstinence as a hokey plot device, you just walk away feeling a little dirty for enjoying the beginning.
  • 31. Red Meat -1997 It is 3:30 at night, I had fallen asleep at 8pm and woken up again at 11pm. This is a sure recipe for a night prowling the cable channels for something to watch. Never mind that I have a plethora of decent movies recorded on the ReplayTV machine. Never mind that I have a collection of DVD’s less than 10 feet away. There is something in my insomnia that I find alluring about surfing late night cable channels for something to watch. I have found more than a few gems there.
    This night I watched Red Meat because it starred John Slattery, a Boston guy who is horribly miscast in the TV show Ed which I watch. On Ed, Slattery is a former drunk principal whose only role is to be the foil that at least temporarily will come between the inevitable love duo Ed and Carol. Slattery looks so uncomfortable in this role, I hope that Ed and Carol get together soon for his sake as much as theirs.
    Slattery is a very good actor. He has that certain Boston Irish cocksure attitude that Hollywood loves. Think Dennis Leary with out the biting humor but with better acting chops. In this movie, Slattery is one of three guys who sit around telling lies, half truths and occasionally the whole truth about their sexual exploits. It actually reminded me of a drunken night out with the guys where the alcohol induced bullshit is in full force and you vainly try to find some hidden truth in this crazy thing called life. It is not a great movie by any measure but at 3 in the morning I could have done much worse. Actually I think the 3am viewing only enhanced the experience or my sleep deprived brain was feeling charitable.
  • 32. K-Pax -2000 This is like Jeff Bridges’ bizarro Starman. Bridges try to unravel the crazy guy who claims he is from Outer space. While in Starman, a pretty good movie, he gets to play the visitor from a different planet. It is nice to see Spacey play smart and not the hurt damaged roles he has been playing of late. This movie had tepid reviews and word of mouth but I bought into it. The mystery is compelling enough to keep your attention and I seem to have found a liking for movies that are set in the loony bin. I hope this is not going to portend my future.
  • 33. Sugar and Spice -2001 -2001 An entertaining teen movie. That is difficult for these weary 41 year old eyes to find these days. Cheerleaders become bank robbers to help the knocked up head cheerleader pay for her and the star quarterback’s impending bundle of joy. The movie is all sass and attempted irony. The irony is a little bloated but the sass is so charming and the characters are fun enough to not consider this wasted time. Not as good as Clueless or Election but certainly better than Legally Blonde.
  • 34. Children of Paradise -1945 The very best movies transport you into the world they are portraying. You are swept into that world and forget everything that is happening around you. The less than great movies have to compete with your surroundings. If you are at home it might be the phone, spouse or child that beckons your attention. If it is at the theatre it may be the annoying couple that talks too much or the guy in front of you that is crunching his ice that will divert your attention. I knew Children of Paradise was a great movie because I sat entrenched for 3 hours watching it and I had no idea what else was happening in my world for those 3 hours.
    The movie sucks you in from the opening stunning shot of the boulevard and like an invitation to a fantasy world you are soon on your way to a land of mimes, schemers, connivers and some plain old theater folk. Many have maintained that the greatness of this movie is the ability of the moviemakers to put such a lavish production together while France was under Nazi occupation I certainly would not belittle that daunting accomplishment but in some ways it lessens the end result if you get preoccupied with the process. Whenever or wherever this movie was made it was going to be a grand example of the power of great moviemaking.
  • 35. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town -1936 Not to be confused with the Adam Sandler movie. Well actually I hear it is a remake. Sort of…No matter what respect I may have garnered for Sandler from Punch Drunk Love, I don’t see him as the next Gary Cooper at least that is what I thought before rewatching this Capra classic again. Gary Copper in this movie is a little sweet, a little child-like, and a little angry and often goes around threatening to punch people in the nose. Now if that does not describe the standard Sandler role than I don’t know what does? Having not seen the Sandler version, I will leave comments about that one until I do but the Capra original is one of the master’s best. Cooper is fine as Longfellow Deeds who inherits millions from an uncle he does not know. The real star of the movie though is Jean Arthur who is as good as she is in the other Capra movie most like Deeds, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Arthur is the character who transforms in this movie. She is the one who changes and grows.
    Mr. Smith is the better Capra movie but Mr. Deeds is a worthy companion if not the inspiration for that film. Mr. Smith is better able to handle the leftist preaching’s of Capra probably because it is staged in Washington which is a much better place for any political dissections. Well at least back in the Thirties there was room in Washington for a political discussion.
  • 36. Brotherhood of the Wolf -2001 Much to this film’s credit, it has the trappings of a more important film than it actually is. It could be the lavish costumes or the 18th century French setting, perhaps it is the banal philosophical rhetoric spewed by the main characters but whatever the reason this film has a grand way of hiding that is a Kung Fu Werewolf movie; and a pretty darn good Werewolf Kung Fu Movie to boot. To be totally honest, I am not sure it completely falls under the strictest sense of Werewolf because I am still not exactly sure what the beast in question really was but it was definitely a chop suey movie. Whatever it is and whatever pretensions it wanted to be it is a pretty exciting couple of hours.
  • 37. Act of Violence -1948 An often overlooked film noir classic from the golden era of Noir. This one stars Van Heflin as a seemingly well adjusted returning vet making his way in his small town. That is until a hobbled Robert Ryan, looking remarkably like photographs of Ted Williams from that era, shuffles into town with only one mission; find Heflin and kill him. The minimalist story unfolds from there but mainly it a chase movie and like all great Noir’s it has a few dames, a few crooks and a whole lot of soul searching trying to understand mistakes and the depths the human soul is willing to go.
  • 38. The Apartment -1960 “Shut up and Deal” So ends another Billy Wilder masterpiece but before we get to that famous ending. You get to see one of the old pro’s best movies. It will make you laugh but more importantly it will make you care for two souls who are basically decent but find themselves in an office pool of sharks who like to use whomever and whenever possible. The two souls in question are played remarkably well by legends Jack Lemmon and Shirley McLaine. I have always adored Lemmon and almost everything he did but it has always been a hit or miss thing with Shirley. This is her Grand Slam though. She was never as lovable and sad as she was playing Fran Kubelik.
    I have theorized elsewhere that 1960 might be the year that classic and modern filmmaking divides. With movies like Breathless and Psycho, film was attacking the new decade with new ideas and new techniques but leave it to an old Hollywood legend like Billy Wilder to show them classic Hollywood still had a trick or two left. Of course the magic of this movie is that there are very few tricks. It is all about the script, the acting and the seemingly effortless directing. So yes indeed “Shut up and Deal” Not many have played with a better hand than Billy Wilder.
  • 39. Big Trouble –2002 Well it is a very short film, that might be it’s best selling point. This is based on columnist Dave Barry’s book. Having not read the book, I cannot tell you whether if it was any funnier in printed form. I do think Old Dave might have been feeling jealous about the success of former Miami Herald writer Carl Hiassen is having with books of this ilk about the crazies and borderline social miscreant you can find in the Miami area. The movie was like one of those cheap knockoff watches you can buy on any large city corner or any rest stop along the New Jersey Turnpike. It looks nice and shiny but when you get to the guts of the film it is missing some actual precision. I would recommend you pick up any of the Hiassen books instead. They usually don’t take much more time to read than you will spend on this movie. Of course if you are stuck at home, sick in bed and reading gives you migraines and you only other choices of viewing are soap operas, Oprah, Dr. Phil, this movie and say a movie like Jason X: Jason Kills in Outer Space. Then I would give this movie a high recommendation.
  • 40. The Boondock Saints – 1999 Tarantino goes to Boston and gets sucked into some catholic guilt and hocus pocus religious imagery. It is unfortunate that other moviemakers only got the style and very little of the substance from Tarantino’s first two movies. This time it is Troy Duffy who is the first time director who obviously was impressed with QT’s movies. Actually it is a little unfair to paint this movie so broadly with the wannabe brush. There are some very good things to be found here. Willem Dafoe’s gay FBI agent is almost worth the two hours alone. The Camera work is very strong and the story is a pretty good first draft. There are some elements here that definitely could make a very good movie. I am not sure if the script just needed some tightening, the movie needed some better editing or the two leads needed to be a little more convincing but ultimately the sum of the parts does not make a fully realized movie.
  • 41. Vera Cruz -1954 A standard 50’s western that stars Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper as Americans who head to Mexico to seek fortune after the Civil War. Burt Lancaster is the head strong wild one who trusts no one and takes what he wants. Gary Cooper is the thoughtful former Southern Plantation owner who is trying to gain as much money as possible so he can restore his home to its previous grandeur. Of course there are a couple of women. Burt hooks up with a countess who is equally as oily as Lancaster and can probably be trusted even less. Cooper gets involved with a beautiful pickpocket who maybe involved with Juaristas the people Lancaster and Cooper are eventually hired to fight. With those sketchy details, I would offer you the reader a dollar if you could predict who ends up living and who ends up dying and what couple stays together. Unfortunately even with my limited number of readers, I don’t think I could afford the payouts.
  • 42. Enigma -2001 “Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together.” So said an Old Italian named Petrarch. He was led astray by beauty. Of course he was smart enough to use his obsession to write some pretty good poetry. All Tom Jericho (Do I hear those walls tumbling down?) is able to do is win a World War because of his obsession with beauty. At least that is what this movie would like to tell us.
    This is a very good movie that has a lot to say about many things. Not the least of which is maybe the world is made up of men and women but the dividing faction should maybe users and those they use. A so called genius Tom Jericho, as played wonderfully hang dogged by Dougray Scott, is brought to his knees by the beauty of Claire. Claire is all luminous as played by Saffron Burrows. The director Michael Apted does a wonderful job of giving the less attractive people, (this is of course is very relative as it is a movie and truly unattractive people can only hope for character actor status and not leading roles) Scott and Kate Winslet all the virtue while the very attractive people, Jeremy Northern and Burrows, all the deception. Of course it is after all just a movie so it could not keep this theme through out. Bad guys got to lose. Good guys even the less attractive ones need to win.
    An interesting note about the producers of this movie. They are listed as Lorne Michaels and Mick Jagger. How does Mr. Saturday Night Live and Liver Lips Mick get together to make a historical love triangle movie? It could only happen in the movies.
  • 43. Orange County -2002 The second feature film for 2nd generation Hollywood elite, Jake Kasden is a miss but it is a miss by the slightest of margins. It actually goes wrong by trying to be two movies instead of one. It wants to be a slapstick wacky farce as performed by Jack Black and Catherine O’Hara and it also wants to be a sweet story of a boy coming to the understanding that there is no place like home. It misses on both attempts but the education of the boy could have been a pretty strong movie if it did not have to compete with Jack Black’s most annoying performance and Catherine O’Hara’s rehashed Beetlejuice performance only this time with a little more liquor and a lot less panache. Colin Hanks is also a disappointment as he screams too much and lacks the comfort in front of the camera his father has had since the beginning of his career.
    I almost liked this movie and that is because I had a lot of empathy for the character Shaun Brumder’s (The Colin Hanks character) desire to be a writer. It was right around my junior year in high school that my own thoughts of one day being a writer first surfaced. I used to spend almost all my free hours locked up in my room with an old typewriter clanging away at whatever came into my head. I remember the typewriter had a bad letter Q so I used to spend a lot of my time trying to come up with other similar words to words like quality and quick. Thankfully it wasn’t the letter E that I had a problem with. That might have kyboshed my writing career right then. Instead fear, time and other elements did a better job of it in my early twenties.
  • 44. Punch Drunk Love -2002 Finally a Paul Thomas Anderson movie I liked. In actuality I loved this movie. It is almost like a Charlie Chaplin Movie for the new century with all the horrors of modern life distorting Chaplin’s Little Tramp into a hair triggered anger management poster boy. Adam Sandler’s performance is amazing. It is a typical social misfit performance for Sandler but instead of getting the times of the cheap laughs, you get all the other times where the hurt and fear are exposed like an open nerve. You get Happy Gilmore where the anger is no longer funny. It is just sad and the pain is so evident you almost can not watch it but you also can not turn away.
    The other bravo performance is by Emily Watson as the woman who wants to love and take care of Sandler’s Barry Egan character because of a photograph she saw on a co-worker’s desk. Watson does a wonderful job of making the impossible believable. You watch this movie and you ask yourself how can this sweet woman just not turn and run away from this social misfit. But the scene where she tells him of the picture she saw on his sister’s desk is so beautifully shot and written you understand the huge importance of illusions in any human relationship. She does not see the reality of this obsessive; she sees the poor lost soul who is overwhelmed by his 7 sisters and this only child is like all of us, she wants what looks greener on the other side of the fence.
    My only complaint with the movie is all the camera tricks Anderson feels the need to employ. A lot of times they just seemed forced and distractive, but this is only a minor complaint. This movie is so well done it almost makes up for the numerous hours I have put into other Sandler movies and my indignation with Anderson’s bloated last two movies. If I was asked to rank Anderson movies, this is my order. 1. Punch Drunk Love 2. Hard Eight 3. Magnolia 4. Boogie Nights.
  • 45. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein –1948 In honor of Halloween, I thought I should watch a few scary movies. I thought I would ease myself into it with this classic Abbott and Costello. It of course is not really a scary movie not unless you are scared of overacting and a few Hollywood legends hamming it up for a paycheck. Often considered one of Bud and Lou’s best movies and I guess it is but in a strange way it made me sad. It was neither scary or more importantly it really was not funny. I remember being a young kid and loving these movies when they would come on Saturday afternoon’s local UHF station. I imagine it made me sad remembering that innocent kid and less to do with the movie itself.
  • 46. Stolen Summer - 2002 I did not watch the Project Greenlight TV show on HBO so I really knew little about this movie when I rented it. I knew the premise that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck along with their truly “magnanimous” sponsor Sam Adams beer set up a contest to finance an unknown’s script. This was the winning script and it is indeed a winning script. This is the story of an Irish Catholic 8 year old boy, Pete, who is scared that he needs to do more to get in Heaven. He learns that people used to insure a trip to heaven by converting people to the catholic faith. He heads to a Jewish temple in search of converts. It is this somewhat cute premise that unfolds into this very enjoyable movie. The known actors are very strong in this movie. Kevin Pollak as the Rabbi is exceptionally good in a role if not handled well could have been very ugly. Also the always wonderful Bonnie Hunt and Aidan Quinn are note perfect as the parents of eight including the precocious 8 year old Pete. As a child of Irish Catholic parents, the movie got the details right. Well worth a viewing. Maybe they should try getting a few more unknowns script made in Hollywood.
  • 47. Harvey – 1950 Jimmy Stewart was never satisfied with his performance in this movie. He thought it left out a lot of the darkness of his character Elwood P. Dowd. This is the reason he constantly went back to this role on Broadway and a TV remake in 1972. Of course this could just be another example of an actor not understanding the power of his performance. This Dowd is the one that helps define the role. Sweet natured and befuddled but beneath all the bumbling and vocal stuttering, we find a wise man who understands that illusion may be the greatest defense to the ravages reality can bring to bear on a life.
    There are many better performances and movies in the Stewart catalogue but for many this is the ultimate Jimmy Stewart performance. Along with It’s a Wonderful Life, Harvey is the blueprint for the persona that Stewart will always be remembered.
  • 48. Psycho Beach Party -2000 I remember being a teenager and watching a lot of the Frankie Avalon Annette Funicello beach movies because there were a lot of buff young woman in bathing suits that would do a shimmy dance that would help soothe my adolescent yearnings. So when this movie started with a woman in the same frilled bathing suit doing the same shimmy dance it made me smile. Of course this woman was not a buff young hardbody. She was what Ann Margaret would probably have ended up looking like when she was 40 if she did not have Hollywood forcing her to look like she was constantly 30 years old. I knew right there this movie was going to be a little different.
    It does not live up to my lofty expectations because it did not have such grand motivations. It was a spoof of those old movies with a 21st century taste of ironic detachment and sexual ambiguity. There are some funny things to be found in it though. The two musclehead surfers who are in lust with each other is pretty good. The fact that you have a man that plays a female detective and no one notices he is a man is also good. It is worth a watch if you are not too critical of your spoofs or if you were a horny teenager who used to watch Gidget movies because the Internet had not been invented yet.
  • 49. It Should Happen to You -1954 Famous as Jack Lemmon’s first movie, it proves even back then Lemmon knew a good script when he was offered one. It basically was a Judy Holliday movie in the Born Yesterday mold. Lemon plays the William Holden role in this one.
    It has an interesting premise and message that might explain how the world has changed in 50 years of media explosion of celebrity worship. The story is that Holiday’s character Gladys Glover is willing to do anything to be a somebody. She uses her life savings to have her name spelled out on a prominent billboard. From there the question of who is Gladys Glover only grows. Soon Gladys is a star because she is a bumbling malapropos waiting to happen. She is famous because the world wants to laugh at her. The Lemmon character, Pete Sheppard, who is in love with her, argues that you need to be famous for something you have done and not for the sake of just being famous. And ultimately this message that fame should be earned for achievements is the message of this movie. Gladys eventually understands Pete was right all along and gives up the billboards and soap advertisements for a life of being Pete’s loving wife and mother of his children.
    In this age of Anna Nicole Smith’s and Kato Kaelin’s where fame is the ultimate reward, this movie seems like it could and should have been made 500 years ago and not just the less than 50 it actually was. I am surprised more people do not watch this movie and use it as a blueprint for their own schemes to reach the ultimate goal of being a corner square In the New Hollywood Squares. Of course that would mean more people would actually have to watch some of these old movies and who has time for that when Whoopi is no longer going to be the center square and think how famous you could be if you were the one to replace her.
  • 50. The Panic Room -2002 First off this is a very good movie. It is a little different for David Fincher as he stays away from the movie as puzzle phenomenon he help make popular with his hits Se7en and Fight Club. It is pretty much a straight narrative thriller with fine performances by almost everyone. Jodie Foster is very strong as the bewildered and numbed protective mother and the three “bad” guys Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto and Dwight Yoakam are strong and realistic. Of course it is not a complete standard thriller. Not with Fincher at the helm. The camera work is very strong as it does a wonderful job of making the Manhattan mansion where the movie is almost completely set the strongest character in the movie. The camera swoops and dives constantly throughout the house almost making the viewer dizzy while also drawing the viewer deeper into the story. It is a pretty remarkable example of using camera techniques and tricks to enhance the script.
    Since the whole premise of this story was predicated on a marriage gone wrong before the narrative begins, we get Jodie Foster’s character in a state of inertia and resignation. I could not help but think of my own wife and if she would have the same detached feelings about the splendor of a house like this one if we got divorced. Of course, the answer is… Hell No. My wife would be in her own little nirvana with an undecorated house like that. My wife takes great pleasure in decorating our house. The pleasure I get from watching all these movies is probably equivalent to the sense of contentment she gets from a clean and well decorated house. Whatever paddles your boat. She would probably give me up happily for that house.
    Of course since I seem to be spending much of my time lately immersed in pools of guilt and remorse, I ask myself if I am ever going to be able to provide a house like that for my wife. The answer once again seems to be … Hell no. I have never really been motivated by material goods. Give me a computer, a TV, a DVD player, a good sound system, a mattress and a place to eat and keep some food and I would be fine. My wife of course would go stark raving mad. To those of who you have been married for some time, you do not need to be told this but for the uninitiated let me explain a little about the wonders of marriage. It is all about compromise. The sooner you realize you need to do things and even more importantly want to do things that meant absolutely nothing to you before you got married, the better marriage you are likely to have. So the fact I have come to the realization that I probably will never be able to provide my wife with the house she would love is silently killing me. We live in such crazy times of sexual identities and roles, no one knows what to expect or what your responsibilities are in a marriage anymore. Am I being a sexist for kicking myself for not providing everything my wife wants and deserves and is there something wrong with her for having such desires? Hell if I know anymore.
  • 51. Y Tu Mambien -2001 A really strong movie. There are great performances with a subtle but constant message about modern Mexico. This movie starts out with the ever familiar narrative explaining things. The narrative is the key to the telling of this story. In so many movies these voice-overs are used to cover poor scripts and the lack of ability of the dialogue to connect the story details. But this narrative in its flat Dragnet like speak is the truth that these travelers do not know about their adventure. Some is personal but most of it is about the world they inhabit including Mexico; a Mexico with many levels
    Fifteen minutes into this movie, I was excited because the movie was going to be about something more than the poverty and pain that is ever present in Mexico. We learn that Mexico has a middle class and it has a ruling class. These are things you do not usually find in movies that get marketed to the United States. It seems we like our Mexicans and our stories of Mexico as either the noble poor striving for a better life or morally and financially bankrupt villains who will do anything for money, power or sex. As this story unfolds and our three leads hit the road in search of the infamous Haven’s Gate beach, we find a true cinematic treatise on Modern Mexico. The Filmmakers do a wonderful job of populating the whole screen with vibrancy. Often the background is as compelling as the main characters. This is one movie I wish I had seen on the big screen.
    By no means do I wish to denigrate the story of our three leads. In their road trip we find a story that could be told anywhere and ultimately that is the message of this movie about Mexico.
  • 52. The Masque OF Red Death -1964 Perhaps Roger Corman’s finest film. It was another choice in my Halloween scary movie watching expedition. It really is not very scary but the story unfolds in a kaleidoscope of colors and tension that compels the viewer along to its inevitable conclusion. Vincent Price was a master at these types or roles. In this movie he is Prince Prospero, Satan worshipper, slightly effeminate sadist by day and an even worse guy at night. The castle where Prospero secludes himself and his chosen guests for a masqued ball and also to keep them away from the Red Death that is engulfing his surroundings is probably the strongest character in this movie. Each room that Corman continually sweeps his camera through has differing colors which have more significance with the ending of the movie. I actually very much liked the ending of this movie. That is something pretty rare for me.
  • 53. Jeepers Creepers - Another movie in my Halloween scary movie watching expedition. I actually rented it on a whim because I went to a video store to rent the Panic Room. I went to the video store because Netflix in its infinite wisdom screwed me out of getting it through their service. Somehow even though it was my number 1 choice in my rental queue the day it first came out on DVD and I returned a movie on that day, they skipped right over this movie and sent me the next choice. Soon after Panic Room ended up on the long wait line meaning I might actually get it from Netflix by next July. So I ventured into a video store for the first time in a few months and decided I needed to rent something else and the box for Jeepers Creepers told me it was a “revolutionary horror movie that completely reinvented the genre” Well since scary movies have been a goal lately, how could I pass up something that was going to reinvent the genre.
    Actually I had never heard of the movie before. I went on Listology to see if anyone else had seen it. I found our estimable creator Jim had seen it and had even done a write up. Well as not to be known as a serial plagiarist I duly give credit to Jim, he pretty much got it right. The beginning was very solid. The middle was boring and a littler silly. The end was different (I am not sure I can go along with Jim’s choice of bold to describe the ending. A good Chianti is bold. This ending was different)
    I was entertained enough not to disparage this movie but on further research I found out that the writer director of this movie was convicted as a child molester. I know that fact should not have any relevance of my movie viewing experience. I obviously do not know all the facts of his conviction but somehow that label of child molester is a pretty difficult one to overcome. My mind raced back to see if any children were abused in the movie. Sometimes I wish I was not as curious as I am. I could truly see how ignorance could be bliss every once in a while.
  • 54. Aguirre Wrath of God – 1972 Take the Treasure Of Sierra Madre, Apocalypse Now and a Monty Python movie; put them all in a blender and then sprinkle in a crazed German director and an even more crazed German actor and you have the recipe for this bizarrely wonderful movie. I often have complained on this list that I hate when I know how a movie is going to end. This movie is the proverbial exception. You absolutely know how this one is going to end; but that matters little. I am also a huge proponent that a movie needs a good script to be a good movie but occasionally a movie is so visually stunning it matters little what the say. The story is told in wide shots that capture the danger and beauty of the untamable river and close shots of Klaus Kinski’s face. The face of a madman with eyes that rarely blink, lips that might make Mick Jagger envious and a helmet that is two sizes too big and that looks like it was a Monty Python rejected prop. Kinski looks like a mad troll and that is also a pretty accurate description of his personality too. Is it one of the greatest movies ever made as Roger Ebert has often stated? Probably not, but it is definitely worth a viewing if you have not seen it before.
  • 55. Italian for Beginners – 2000 There is a scene in this movie that touched me like almost no scene has in a long time. Olympia, the hapless bakery worker, has left her job because she has just dropped 2 trays of pastries and then had a dozen eggs fall on top of them. She goes to talk Andreas the new pastor. She opens up explaining how she can not do anything right in her life. She explains how it has been like this for her whole life. The realization of her problems is so beautiful for its honesty and it’s heartfelt bewilderment. This open frank assessment of her life is so rewarding for the unflinching pain but also the innocence of a good human being is laid bare. The Pastor’s tender response is so believable and actually explains the kindness the human soul is so often capable of but very rarely is put on screen with any believability.
    I watched this movie alone in my house with my dog lying beside me. My Wife had gone away for the weekend for a shopping trip with her Mother and sister. I had been recently laid off from a job that was frustrating me to no end. I have been spending the last couple of weeks in some bewildered status of inertia as I try to figure out my next career move in a pretty lousy economy. My wife and I recently found out some disturbing news. So needless to say things have been better in my life. I watched this scene, shot with an annoying nakedness that can only be captured by a digital camera, and it all just burst inside me. Suddenly, the pain, the anger, the sadness just came pouring out of me and I had to stop the movie so I could let it all out. Now I write this not to be uncomfortably honest but to prove the power of cinema.
    Many people have asked me to explain why I watch so many damn movies. The answer is easy. It is to find a movie scene like this one. It is also why I think cinema is the ultimate universal language. That this movie shot in Denmark about a bunch of people trying to learn Italian so touched a 41-year-old American guy that it brought him to tears is an amazing accomplishment. That the same 41-year-old guy spent a lot of the rest of the night trying to understand his own wounds that have been there for most of his lifetime is nothing short of a miracle. Movie viewing is so subjective. I imagine millions of people have watched this movie without coming close to the cathartic experience I endured. If I had watched this movie almost any other time I would have enjoyed it tremendously and I would have noted this particular scene as excellent. This night however it was nothing short of a revelation. That my friends is the power of cinema. That is why we humans try so hard to communicate with each other.
  • 56. Risk -2000 I watched this movie as an experiment. This was a Netflix recommendation. For my fellow Netflixers, you know the recommendation that says “based on your recent rental history we think you may enjoy this movie.” Of course my cynical nature reads it like this “well we got hoodwinked into buying a lot of these DVD’s because someone told us it would be great and we did not actually have time to view it so we are recommending it to anyone who rented any of the top tem best selling DVD’s and this includes you schmuck “ Actually I think they probably use a personalization software to make these recommendations which means it wasn’t even a person who laughed when I actually rented this movie it was a software program who got a chuckle. 2001 indeed.
    It is a very formulaic picture about crooked insurance adjusters. Besides the fact it was an Australian movie with Aussie actors, I would easily categorize it as a Hollywood churn movie. A Hollywood churn movie actually has aspirations to be a Bounce movie (see comments above) except it could not get bankable stars. Clocking in at 92 minutes, it did not really waste a whole lot of my time though.
  • 57. Lies – 1999 Korean pornography that is supposed to be something more because it inter-cuts the film with the actors and directors dropping from character to discuss their bravery and the importance of this waste of celluloid. I was just not in the mood for this type of dreck so I only watched about 25 minutes and shut it off. Ostensibly the story is supposed to be about an 18 year old Korean girl who decides she does not want to graduate high school a virgin. So she does what any other girl would do, she gets on the phone with a 35 year old married man and starts talking dirty to him. This of course leads to some of the dullest sex ever put on film. If American prudish attitudes on sex, keep us from making films this boring and repulsive, I say the Calvinists weren’t all bad.
Author Comments: 

Return of The Jedi was the weakest of the first trilogies. Lethal Weapon 3 pretty much sucked. I wonder what was the third Thin Man movie maybe that was good. Things are not looking good for this list. Have I reached over saturation? Have I jumped the Shark? Ok, here is my goal with this list which will grow as we go. It will be very similiar to many others on Listology who rate all movies they have recently watched. Since I never feel comfortable givng things rating, I am just going to try to give random thoughts and critiques.

I really do watch too many movies but insomnia is a huge benefit as it gives me the hours between 12 and 2 am to get in a movie a night.

As always please feel free to comment, condemn or console as you feel appropriate.

Well, I for one read these. Every word. Love 'em too!

As for a great third film, would Goldfinger, the third James Bond film, count? It did set the template. (Though, shhh, From Russian With Love is my fave....)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Dang it LBangs, that is almost word-for-word what I was going to write, down to the "I read every word" sentiment and citing James Bond as a template/excuse for creating at least 20 lists like this.

Well thanks for the kind words Lbangs and Jim. It was a somewhat transparent attempt for flattery on my part but we al need encouragement. Since both of you are trying to do the same thing (commenting on all the films you watch) you know how hard it is to keep up.

Plus I really do watch too many movies and I have been thinking about refocusing my free time to other pursuits. (one being trying to open my own business; anyone have any great ideas for a new business?)

As to the third movie syndrome, I really like the Bond reference but that series is never going to end. Another Thin Man (the third one) was a pretty funny movie. Plus my personality is much closer to Nick Charles than James Bond. I just dont drink as much as ol Nick anymore.

Yeah, I know how hard it is to keep up with my meager output. I can't imagine trying to keep up with your almost-one-per-day pace.

I'm afraid I don't have much advice on starting your own business. At least not as a career. This site was my bright idea, and while it's achieved a cult following (and I mean that in the nicest possible way :-), it's a money-loser. My day job keeps it going. What I really need is a business-oriented person to complement my technical skills. So let me know if you need a night-shift programmer/partner. :-)

Getting back to the list, I'd like to emphasize that I prefer the Bond reference exactly because it's never going to end, and I hope this series of yours won't either.


as always thanks for the nice words. If I could ever get my writing skills back, I would have less trouble keeping up. I find my thoughts on movies are easy; sometimes getting them in some form of english that is not embarrasing is very hard.

I really should write more. It is the only way to improve.

Actually if I take my business ideas in one direction I could use a good programmer. I have a friend who wants to go into business (his name is Jim also maybe we could call it the 3 Jim's) and between us we have a decent amount of capital to get started. We are just trying to come up with the right idea.

Goldfinger, the 3rd film in the James Bond series, is considered one of the best films in the series.

I enjoyed your criticism of criticism in your Life as a House entry. Being far more subjective than objective personally, I really should rename my "recommended" lists to a less loaded word. Inertia will probably prevent that though.

Looking forward to your Frailty comments (among others), as I've been quite curious about that movie since its release.

Jim as always thanks for the kind remarks. I owe you a personal email and I will respond soon. Frailty is good. comments are on the way.

Nice to see you describe Kilmer's Holliday as "tremendous." I'm always surprised when anybody remembers that movie, but never surprised when those that do single out his performance. Definitely the high water mark of his career, as far as I'm concerned.

I jumped the gun and had already rented Frailty before you posted your review. I definitely concur - very good movie. Looking forward to Signs and Changing Lanes (the latter is pretty high in my queue so I should see it soon).

As for Enigma, I think I read that Mick Jagger owns an actual Enigma machine, and that he loaned it to the production for authenticity.

Well Jim I might have to put Punch Drunk Love above all of them. It is hard to believe I am saying that about a PT Anderson and Adam Sandler movie. Of course just the fact that Adam Sandler and Anderson made a movie together is somewhat revolutionary.

I'm going to save my rare 2002 theater outings for The Two Towers and Hero (if it comes to a theater near me), but I've just added Punch Drunk Love to my "to see" rental list. I wouldn't have done so for just anybody, but you aren't just anybody and since you also didn't like Magnolia I'm optimistic.

Jim, you'll be pleased to know that Zhang's movie Happy Times is opening in Columbus this week, and it's coming out on DVD on December 3rd.

All Zhang Yimou news is good news, thanks for the heads-up!

Cool, your Sexy Beast comments almost perfectly mirror my own.

Wow? If I was you, I would consider charging me with plagirism. I dont have a lot but if you are interested in 300 albums maybe LBangs would give you some money for them.

I'm low on dough... Need an extra kidney?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs (who still awaiting the Children of Paradise comments...)

You have three kidneys?

Damn, you mean I need *both* of them?

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Hey, I just noticed jgandcag has obliged you. And now I have to add Children of Paradise to my "to see" list.

Jim you should definitely check out Children Of Paradise. Even for those, (I think you are a close call on this point)who find old movies dated, I think you can enjoy this one. In some ways its reminded me of Moulin Rougue without the music but a better story.

You've definitely got me pegged right as a close call on the old movies front. It's hard to know which ones are going to work for me, but I have high hopes for this one.

I am very glad to see I am not alone in my appreciation of Children of Paradise. My, that easily has to be one of the very best films I've seen so far this year.

Jim, I hope you enjoy it. In my top 100, though you wouldn't know it, because I haven't finished it yet (BAD L. BANGS!).

Jgandcag, I also noticed your new pics of your music collection on your page. Wow!

I'm also glad you were so moved by Italian for Beginners. I confess, that film surprised, and that scene you wrote one touched me deeply.

I'm not sure which version you watched, but am I lame if I confess that I enjoyed the 1994 It Could Happen to You when I saw it at the dollar theater? I don't think I have seen it since...

Keep up the great lists!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks for the comments; a few points.

1. The Music collection is too big just ask my wife. She used to tell me you can not possibly listen to all of it. Of course she is right but I can listen to what I want when I have the desire. Plus I have to admit it looks pretty cool in the living room. She has sort of given up the idea of me reducing the size of it. I think she now has figured out a way to somewhat incorporate it into the design of the house. She is also trying desperately to keep me from enlarging the collection too much. Either that or she is going to make me put all the Cd's in those slim jewel cases. Which of course suck because you can not read the labels.

2. Italian For Beginners was either the right movie at the right time or the wrong movie at the wrong time depending on your perception of emotional upheval. It was very well done and shocked the hell out of me.

3, Finally I watched no versions of It Could Happen To You because it should have been the 1954 Jack Lemmon Judy Holliday movie called It Should Happen To You. I have seen the Cage Fonda It Could Happen to You and thought it was a pretty good movie with the exception of the shrill performance by Rosie Perez.

My lawyer will be in touch. :-)

Actually, I'm just tickled that after months of reading your reviews and thinking "damn, I wish I wrote that" I finally came close on one. Heck, I probably pre-plagirized you.

Random comments:

40 Days and 40 Nights - Yay! I was referred to anonymously as the person to bash the ending first! Woohoo!

Children of Paradise - I just watched this movie for the first time the other day too. I liked it a lot as well, but I have neither the free time nor the attention span to watch the full 3 hours in one sitting.

Big Trouble - It is indeed much funnier in the book, but I kinda liked the movie too. It was like a Lite "Get Shorty" - not as good as the original, but it still brought me some entertainment.

A + C Meet Frankenstein - Yeah, I thought this was kinda disappointing as well. Pretty good, but not their best.

Aguirre - Jeez, I really have to see this movie from your description of it (plus, Roger Ebert voted for it in the S&S poll as an added bonus).

AJ thanks for the comments. You should watch Aguirre but be warned it is not a movie in the traditional sense. Not a lot happens; I found it more a visual experience than a tradional narrative. Sumptous cinematography and Kinski is a sight.

AJ, I'd like to second jgandcag's recommendation of Carl Hiaasen's books. They are undoubtedly the inspiration for Dave Barry making the leap from (fabulous) humor columnist to novelist. If I recall correctly Hiaasen did put a favorable word in for Big Trouble, and you can see where Barry got started down this path with Naked Came the Manatee; thirteen (I think) Florida authors each wrote a chapter of that book. Barry wrote the first chapter, Hiaasen the last. I actually read Sick Puppy and Big Trouble when I was on vacation in Florida (the irony is not lost on me) and I wouldn't recommend reading them side-by-side, as Barry suffers a bit unfairly in the comparison.

Thanks, I'll look into them, even though I already have so many unread books just sitting on my shelf. I think my dad liked some of Hiaasen's work, so I'll see which books he has. To jim and jgandcag: what would you say Hiaasen's best novel is?

It's hard to pick. Perhaps Native Tongue. I liked Strip Tease, Stormy Weather and Lucky You a bit less than the others. I haven't read Basket Case, Hoot (his first "young adult" title), or any of the stuff he co-wrote with an author whose name escapes me. It's hard to go wrong though: Tourist Season, Double Whammy, Skin Tight, Native Tongue, and Sick Puppy were all tons of fun.

I just finished Sick Puppy on a bus trip to Buffalo to watch The New England Patriots destroy the Buffalo Bills. I will write up more about the trip when I talk about some of the new movies watched. I actually had not read Hiassen in some time and either this one was not as good as the others or my taste has changed. I was a little underwhelmed. It had the same formula as most of his books but this one was a little too predictable.

If I was hired as his agent I would tell him it might be time to do something completely diffrent. Of course the fact that different often does not sell becuase it pisses off his core audience might be a reason why no one would hire me as an agent.

I've read similar criticisms, but what really worked for me is that I thought he did a good job of suggesting that Skink might actually die in this one, what with saying goodbye to this brother and setting up Twilly as a successor of sorts. It added a nice feeling of suspense for me. And I couldn't help enjoying a book with basically two Skink characters in it.

As for doing something completely different, he did just come out with Hoot which is geared towards the Harry Potter-age audience, although after reading the jacket I suspect many of the themes are the same.

Your Panic Room comments struck a particular chord with me, as I've often felt exactly the same way. I alternate between longing for our dream house that it seems we'll never be able to afford and feeling like an idiot for not being happy with what we have. Nothing like living a a new Gilded Age to leave we middle class schlubs (at least some of us) in a constant state of misplaced dissatisfaction.

Yes the wonders of Male guilt. I really need to do something to get me out of the funk I am in. I have the feeling people might read my lastest contributions and will soon be sending the neighbors over for an intervention. Keep the Knives and pills away from Jim...LOL.

If American prudish attitudes on sex, keep us from making films this boring and repulsive, I say the Calvinists weren’t all bad.

This has to be one of my favorite quotes of yours (and there are quite a few contenders).

I know there were more movies on this list awaiting comments. Did you max out another? If so, I can't want for Damn 4!

Woo-hoo! I didn't have to wait long.

Yes indeed 4 is out for public consumption. So often clever lines are easy for me when I really detest something. Lies is pretty detestable. It is just sanctimonious bullshit that is trying to hide male sex fantasies. And pretty screwed up males to boot.