29 September 2006

Movie #40


Hero (by Zhang Yimou).

I was absolutely stunned when I heard that this movie was made by my favorite director in the world.

This was his FIRST action movie.

And its perhaps the best in the world.

God. Can this guy do any wrong?

Not to be confused with this hero.

25 September 2006

Movie #39


The Empire Strikes Back

Ho mama!!

There's no point into explaining why, but this is the only Star Wars movie I like.

That is all.

28 August 2006

Movie #38


Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring

I don't like part 2 and 3, although the extended versions make them MUCH better.

But the first film in this series is awe-striking... is that a word?

Not officially a trilogy by any sense of the word, but that's for another time. This is the best fantasy movie ever made.

Yes. Better than Legend.

Sigh.

Try it with rice.

If you don't understand what makes Boromir the best character in the series,
then you're an imbecile. No really. 70 IQ and everything.


BONUS: I recommend viewing this and Excalibur together to get a strong sense of British Myth. Asimov's Light Years isn't bad either.

09 August 2006

Movie #37


Rope.

People look at me funny when I say this is my favorite Hitchcock movie.

It's better than Psycho and Birds.

I'm sorry.

It's filmed in only four cuts as well.

Fantastic.


BONUS: Dogville. Yeah. Dogville. That movie rocks. Good compliment to this one.

04 August 2006

Movie #36



Ran.

King Lear in fuedal japan.

Oscar for costumes.

Kirosawa at his best.

Why are you still reading this? Go rent this film.

BONUS: Watch Gettysberg and The Desert Fox after seeing this movie.

01 August 2006

Movie #35



Highlander.

Yeah.

So.

Shut up about it already.



BONUS: Do not see any of the rumored sequels to this movie. They do not exist.

26 July 2006

Movie #34



The French Connection.

There's a lot of great stories revolving around how this film got made.

I could talk endlessly about it. But all I want to say is that I love Freidkin's work.

Exorcist, French Connection, To Live and Die in L.A., 12 Angry Men (1997).

Gene Hackman was amazing in this movie.

BONUS: Watch Transporter and Ronin.

24 July 2006

Movie #33



Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The only movie Speilburg did not mangle with his caustic hands.

If you've not heard of this movie, please sublet your rock.

Perhaps the most famous movie scene of all time?

I have nothing else to say about this film (except part II and III are plagues on mankind... III is even worse than II).

Here's a rare poster:


BONUS: Watch Romancing the Stone and Flight of the Phoenix after seeing this movie.

20 July 2006

Movie #32


Gumball Rally.

Mostly for nostalgia, this movie is the best of the cross-country race movies. It inspired Hal Needham to make Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run. But those movies can't even touch the cool factor of Gumball Rally.

Raul Julia and Gary Busey early in their careers. It's 90 minutes of must see fun.

If you can find a copy (Netflix has it), I recommend the viewing.

BONUS: Watch The Hunter (McQueen) or Bullit (also McQueen) or the Drive after seeing this movie.

18 July 2006

Movie #31


Collateral. Say what you want about Tom Cruise, Michael Mann can do no wrong.

This film is very smart.

Jamie Foxx deserved the oscar for this and not for Ray.


BONUS: Watch Ronin or Desperate Hours after seeing this movie.

10 July 2006

Third Intermission

The hardest part about reviewing movies that you like is that when you see something NEW that's really good, you have to contrast that to the films that have stood the test of time. Was this latest film just titilating? Was it smart in any way? Does have have replay value?

I've seen a lot of great films lately, but I have no idea where they belong on this list.

16 Blocks was incredibly smart and Richard Donner showed his true gritty roots as a director.

Pirates 2 was better than 1... do I change my entire list to reflect this?

Superman Returns was better than expected.

X-Men 3 was okay, but no where near as smart as the rest of the franchise. Sin City was captivating. V for Vendetta was brilliant.

Just things to think about as we move into the 31 to 40 block of films.

03 July 2006

Movie #30


True Romance. Written by Quentin Tarrantino and Directed by Tony Scott, this film shows both people at the top of their game. Quentin didn't direct this film, so that means the silliness was edited out. Tony Scott didn't write it, so that means the plot was original and the characters believeable.

Such an excellent combination of actors and scenes, too. Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken... wow! James Galdofini before he was anyone. Gary Oldman as a reggae-loving drug dealer. Val Kilmer as Elvis. Even Slater and Arquette are good in this film.

Although there's all sorts of little things in this film that drive me nuts, it still stands as a smart, fast, tempetuous film.

The dialog is stupid at times, but the pacing is first rate. And Slater and Arquette are totally believeable as two semi-nihilistic slackers looking for something.

Where Slackers and a host of Burnout movies and 20 other films tried to be the "voice" of Generation X, this film becomes its poster child without even trying. Not because it even has a message, but because the people involved and the story portrays something deeper than just "selling stolen drugs."

A lot of people don't like this film and I totally understand why. Tony Scott isn't a genius director and most people that are Tarrantino fans, like all the schlock that comes with a Tarratino film.

Personally, I like this one, because it's neither of those things.

Complimentary Film: Kalifornia

28 June 2006

Movie #29


Usual Suspects. It strikes me as odd that this film isn't higher on the list. But then I sit down and watch this film and I realize that as good as it is, I couldn't watch it everyday like I could these others.

This movie skyrocketed Bryan Singer (director) and Christopher McQuirre (writer) into stardom.

I really can't say anything about this film, because if you haven't seen it, then the plot can't be "revealed" and if you have seen it, you know why it's on this list.

Gabriel Byrne. Kevin Pollack. Benicio Del Toro. Stephen Baldwin. Kevin Spacey.

Nice line up.

Complimentary Film: Limbo or Men of War.

* Yes. I know it's a Dolph Lundgren movie, but you need to watch it for the screenplay. Pay attention to what was written, not the way it was filmed (which isn't all that bad either). But the marketing and planning of this film is at odds with the story and production. Hey. Why am I reviewing another film.

23 June 2006

Movie #28


Life as a House.

[Spoilers.]

This may be a formulaic film. It might be trite and contrived. It could very well be crapped.

But for reason I can't analyze it.

For me, any film that has a father trying to (re)connect with his son is sure to get ten or twenty dozen tears out of me. In this case, Life as a House grabs me and it slaps me around for 2 hours.

And when I'm not looking, it drops kicks me for good measure.

This movie is proof that Hayden Christensen can act (when not directed by a tired old curmudgeon). He's so believeable as a distraught and troubled teen. Jena Malone is my favorite teenage actress. She's so honest and real. I would pay money to watch her drink water. Kristin Scott Thomas (who I think is a better actress than Emma Thompson) is more than believeable as the ex-wife. He range of emotion is sublime. It's like watching a mother trying to keep a family together, all the while she's a ragging storm inside.

Mary Steenburgen is fantastic as well. I can't say enough about her in any film. She always seems to play characters with real dialog.

Or maybe she just writes her own.

But, it's Kevin Kline who keeps this movie humming. He's like a long distance runner pounding out a marathon and all the noise of the fans are a blur and whire of confusion and nonesense and he's reached some zen-like state, pushing for the finish line. You are so engaged by his fearlessness, you never want the movie to end. Starting with his rageful opening, his tender moment with the nurse touching his face, and the arguments with Hayden in the first 15 minutes, Kevin lets you know why he's as good as he is. Why his work stands out despite his inability to choose Box Office Phenoms, and why he has an oscar.

In fact, as Kevin's character gets sicker and sicker, the movie actually begins to crawl to a halt, until his death at the end of the film. It's as though the cast doesn't know how to operate without him on the set.

Maybe this is intentional, but it certainly noticiable.

Hmm.

Well. Maybe I could analyze it after all.

Complimentary Film: DOA (original), Lone Star, or Requiem for a Dream

19 June 2006

Movie #27


12 Monkeys. This is the single best time-travel movie I've ever seen.

So smart.

I don't make a habit of reading movie scripts, but I read this one.

Wow is Gilliam good.

He took a skeleton of a story and added all this tension and mood. He created something from what was a pretty good plot, but made it even better with great actors and excellent choices of set design and style.

Bruce Willis' true breakout role. This movie showed his range and ability to do moody as well as stern. Even Madelline Stowe is good in this film (but I generally like her, actually). Brad Pitt also made a name for himself with his frenetic rich kid character.

The ending is great, but the revelation of what the armies of the 12 monkey are is even better. So many surprises. Even Madeline Stowe's phone call and message (in Act 3) that gets picked up in the future (in Act 2) is brilliant piecing together of story.

Dang. I haven't seen this movie in years. I need to see it again.

Complimentary Film*: Flesh and Bone or 16 Blocks or Brazil.

*This is a hard one to link to anything else, because of how different this film really is.

15 June 2006

Movie #26


Quick Change. Bill Murray, again.

You can't go wrong with a clown robbing a bank.

Randy Quaid at his best.

Jason Robbards is amazing as well. Little things like holding hands with his lieutenant and his tet-a-tet with whiney Bill Murray (at the beginning) are just priceless. And you know some of that stuff wasn't in the script.

So good.

Anyway.

Certainly one of the best comedies ever made.

Complimentary Film: The Man Who Knew Too Little

10 June 2006

Movie #25


La Femme Nikita. Another French film. Before Luc Besson went crazy, he made ground-breaking action films.

That should say film, singular.

The Professional is more of a drama.

Sadly, the American version with Bridget Fonda stole the movie shot for shot.

Sort of.

Instead of just asking americans to endure the subtitles, a crappier version was made.

Sigh.

Anyway. When it came out, it was cutting edge.

But, that's the disease of action movies, they don't survive the test of time like dramas. So few people have even heard of this movie.

Yet another French film on this list, by the way.

Complimentary Film: Robocop

06 June 2006

Movie #24



L.A. Confidential. Hopefully, Sin City made everyone love Noir. And as good as the films Maltese Falcon, Third Man, and 39 Steps are, this one is so smart, and so much fun to watch.

Wow.

It just gets the genre.

Yes, there is better noir out there. But the acting and writing in this film is off the chart.

And director Curtis Hansen chose the perfect team of up and coming actors to make this film.

And Kim Bassinger got an oscar.

Pretty sweet.

Guy Pearce, Russel Crowe, and Kevin Spacey OWN this film.

Enjoy.

Complimentary Film: The Man Who Knew Too Much

29 May 2006

Movie #23


Brotherhood of the Wolf. I realize this is three movies in a row that are somehow related to Native Americans or the Old West, but that's merely a coincidence.

Honest.

A lot of people hated this film. Coming out a few months following the breathtaking visuals of the Matrix, it's no wonder. But where the Matrix was a jaw-dropping, surrealistic trip (the first two times), Brotherhood is like a well-rehearsed, synchronized ballet.


A weird post-revolutionary French ballet with ass-kicking Native American Indians and a lion from the Serengeti, but somehow... for me... it works.


That's about all there is to say on that matter.

jimmy like.

Complimentary Film: Twelve Monkeys (think about it)

16 May 2006

Movie #22


Unforgiven. Originally, this movie was #23 on my list, but after I saw it what else was here, I realized it probably should be a little higher.

It's so freakin' good.

Everyone.

And I mean everyone in the film is awesome.

Eastwood, Freeman, Hackman, Harris, the whiney kid.

I can watch this ending, over and over and over again. And I have.

The script rocks and thank god someone with a brain directed it. Someone who understood how to film that level of violence. The audience needs to be scared of this movie. And Clint Eastwood pulls that off.

Totally deserved the oscar. Totally.

Suck on that Speilburg.

"We all got it coming, kid."

As a kid I hated westerns, because all they should on channel 5 was John Wayne nostalgia crap.

Peckinpah, Eastwood, and even Kostner, made the western a good, strong, meaty genre, devoid of the stupid black and white morality of the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

And this movie just wraps them all up into a nice bag and reinvents the f--king thing ONE MORE TIME!


Absolutely, Gene Hackman's finest role.
Everyone wants him to do this again,
but it's stupid to get a genius like Hackman to play
the same character over and over.


Just stupid.


Well. If you've missed this one, add it to your list. Or come over and see it with me, because I'm watching it right now.

Complimentary Film: High Noon.

One more for the road.

09 May 2006

Movie #21



Last of the Mohicans. Never liked James Fenimore Cooper. Certainly liked him less after Twain edited him. But this movie is so frickin' good. Michael Mann proves that he doesn't know how to make bad movies.

Well-paced. Emotional. Rich. This movie has withstood the ravages of CGI and the addled brains of Lucas-fans.

This movie made it cool to love "Native American" films before Dancing with Wolves was more than just a disco move.

Pacing. Mood. Energy. Music. This film has it all.



Filming it in the Appalachians didn't hurt (second prettiest landscape in America).

And with shirtless guys like Wes Study and Daniel-Day, there's no wonder women dig it. It's a romanticized story about tragic characters in a world on the verge of collapse committing acts of violence that we are jaded against, today.

What a weird circle.


Although the "Stayin' alive" theme song should have been edited out.

I particularly love the music and the final fight scene on the cliff. The father's rage is very powerful and important. It's hard not to get choked up over it.

There are numerous pictures that I could post from this movie, but since this review is almost over, that would be silly.

This one is particularly gruesome.

I, of course, need to tell you to see this movie.

Complimentary Film: I Will Fight No More, Forever.

16 April 2006

Second Intermission

Way behind.

Enjoy the break.

The next ten should be short reviews.

29 March 2006

Movie #20


Ronin. John Frankenheimer is a stud. With the exception of Reindeer Games (which I'm sure he wanted to make well... I know he did), Frakenheimer's body of work is just amazing.

The Train
Seven Days in May
The Manchurian Candidate
Black Sunday (was I the only one routing for the bad guys in this film?)
Andersonville
The list goes on.

Gamers around the world should love Ronin as the best plotted and scripted film of all time (for gamers). It opens with the characters completely in the dark about their mission, employer, and the scope of their objective.

Bang.

I'm already hooked.

Add six great actors, some scouting, some espionage, chase scenes, some bang-bang, some cool european locales, and some testerone-laden dialog and you've got a great movie for anyone that likes to think a little with their tea.

This is the second best chase scene ever.
The best one happens 40 minutes later.

DeNiro... good as always. Reno... excellent. Stellan Skarsgard is the second best thing to come out of Sweden... always a treat. Jonathan Pryce plays a jerk. Natascha McElhone... soooo hot! So complex.

Well. I'm not the best marketing guru in the world. If smartgunchaseheimer isn't enough to convince you to see this movie, then you and dorothy need to see about getting yourself a heart.

QUOTE: What's the color of the boat house at Heirford?

23 March 2006

Movie #19


Groundhog Day. See this movie.

Again.


And again.


And again.

And again.



Quote: Don't drive angry!

18 March 2006

Movie #18


Payback. I love this movie. Most people wouldn't even put it in a top 100, let alone top 20. But this film is just perfect to me. The art style, the tone, the characters. I can watch it over and over again. Mel Gibson is ruthless, the bad guys are slick and each has a great deal of character. If a Quentin Tarrantino script were directed by someone that understood how to make movies, his films would LOOK like this.

Instead, Quentin has the 'Pussy Wagon.'

But, it could be argued that without Resevoir Dogs, Payback can't get made. And there's certainly some truth there. But the difference between Tarrantino and all his copies (Boondock Saints, Suicide Kings, Be Cool, Showgirls) is something called an art director.

Slick framing makes you look like a professional.

See. In movies, an art director gets to make sets, pick colors, help with design, costumes, and shots. In Matrix, for instance, all the little bullet shells and spots of blood and crumbling walls are all Geoff Darrow's handiwork. He's an amazing illustrator, so when he gets to work on a movie, he adds touches that the audience may not even CARE about, but certainly work on a subconscious level to evoke "freshness" for the viewer.

The movie has slick big black american cars, rotary phones, velvet paintings on the wall, silk robes, revolvers (instead of magazine fed pistols), big watches, $10,000 suits, and aligator-skin suitcases.

I think Mel is certainly the strongest actor in the movie and he plays the "I don't give a crap" character very well. Mario Bello is always great. She says a lot with her eyes. And Gregg Henry is luke warm as the villain you have to hate. Lucy Lui is fun in this film as a S&M expert and you can never go wrong with James Coburn or Kris Kristofferson.

But my favorite actor in this movie is David Paymer. David Paymer's performance is so good, it makes me wonder if it's the writing or his ability as an actor to do something fresh with the "weasel" character. Totally underrated actor, in my opinion.

You should agree.

Every movie should have a heroin addict wife that dies in the opening 10 minutes.

And of course the movie has two dirty cops, a token shot of the Chrysler building in Chicago, and a tortue scene with Mel Gibson showing us one of twenty ways he knows how to scream. Make whatever South Park reference you want.

One last thing. Tarratino bad-asses talk a lot and don't show much (Kill Bill bucks this trend). But Payback shows a bad-ass that is all action... the style is an afterthought. "Stop it. I'm getting misty." is a perfectexample of how Mel spends very little time chatting you up and more time staring you down.

QUOTE 1: GSW. That's what the hospitals call it. Gunshot wound. Doctor has to report it to the police. That makes it hard for guys in my line to get what I call, quality health care

QUOTE 2: The problem with kicking a Chow's ass is an hour later you wanna do it again.

QUOTE 3: He doesn't want to talk. He just wants to get himself beat up, that's all.