30 November 2010


**** (4.5 stars)

It makes me nervous to say that Neil Marshall has never let me down. Having written and directed some of the most interesting horror films of the past 10 years, he continues to push the boundaries of what defines him as a filmmaker. His first feature film, “Dog Soldiers”, is on all of my personal lists: Best Horror, Best Movie You May Have Never Seen, etc. It is without question one of the best werewolf movies ever made. Following that, he took us spelunking in “The Descent” which managed to creep me out even though I watched the making of first! “Doomsday” is an underappreciated homage to apocalypse films like “Mad Max” and “The Road”. His newest release, “Centurion” departs from the unapologetic gore that earned him membership in the “Splat Pack”.

[side note: Other members of the “Splat Pack” include Alexandre Aja, “High Tension”, Darren Lynn Bousman, “Saw 2-4”, Greg Mclean, “Wolf Creek”, Eli Roth, “Hostel”, James Wan, “Saw”, Leigh Whannell, executive producer of the “Saw” franchise, and Rob Zombie, “Devil’s Rejects”. You can read more about them here.] 

“Centurion” tells the fabled story of Rome’s 9th Legion, one so deadly and feared, they were considered unstoppable. As with all things given such a grand title; they were eventually lost in the woods of Scotland and believed defeated by the Picts. Quintus Dias (the always amazing Michael Fassbender) is a Centurion who escapes capture by the Pict leader Gorlacon and joins up with the 9th while on the run. Shortly after, they are ambushed and General Titus Virilus (Dominic West) is captured. What is left of this great army must now fight to retrieve their fallen leader and escape back to the Roman stronghold. The Picts are not a passive people, and they hunt the Romans with equal virile and the help of their best scout, Etain (Olga Kurylenko). Kurylenko shrugs off any patina from her Bond girl days to play this tortured and mute tracker.

This film got a lot of attention due to its violence level (something we can surly expect from Marshall) and not for the interesting story, great camera work, and fine acting. The complexities of the relationships between the soldiers often mirror that between the Romans and the Picts. Of course its violent and gory, but much of it appears just off screen or from behind: A sword connects with a man’s head, but the camera is behind him so we never really see it connect. Here we have the Roman’s, a civilization that at that time controlled most of Europe and parts of Asian, up against the one enemy they can’t seem to tame, the Picts (Rome met equal resistance from all of the Celtic people). Is it any bloodier than “Glory” or “Saving Private Ryan”? Not really. The difference here is we are fighting with swords and bow and arrow. It’s always unsettling to me how a movie about war can be bloodless. Is this what we should be teaching our children? Not that children should see this movie per se, there is a lot of profanity and gore. (Don’t even get me started on the frequent use of the word “fuck” which was not recorded until the 16th century).

Filmed on location in Scotland, the cinematography of Sam McCurdy (Marshall’s longtime collaborator) is breathtaking. No establishing shot is wasted (*cough* *cough* Harry Potter), and is instead used to transport the viewer to the freezing tundra, dark and damp woods, or through a raging river. When coupled with Chris Gill’s editing (“28 Days Later”) it creates a tight 90 minutes of action and suspense. Make-up artist Paul Hyett (another frequent Marshall contributor, “Hunger”) has outdone himself as well. Legs are wacked off, heads severed from their body, gashes carved into the torsos of fallen soldiers. Bloody and disgusting.

If you haven’t already seen “Centurion”, I highly recommend you add it to your queue today!

29 November 2010


*** (3 stars)

"Alright, calm down... You sound like a dolphin"

I watched "Doghouse" on the recommendation from my friend who is equally obsessed with horror. We go back and forth sending trailers and posting articles about the latest, greatest, and missed treasures of gore and fright.

Doghouse follows a group of longtime friends out to cheer up their buddy following his divorce, and they only have one thing on their minds- birds (women). Well, maybe it will be nice to get away from their own nagging spouses too. On the suggestion of Mikey (Noel Clarke, "Centurion", "Doctor Who"), they travel to Moodly where his gran lives and the population is 4:1 ladies. Win-win, right? Wrong. All of the women have been turned into zombies with a craving for male blood and guts. Can the happy bachelor gang get out alive? Will any of them "score"? Will you care?

Director Jake West specializes in what I would call "B-horror, slapstick". His movies don't seem to try to be anything that they're not- bloody, gory, and void of plot or sense. His best know work may be "Razor Blade Smile" about a vampiress out for revenge against the Illuminati, or his addition to the "Pumpkinhead" idiom; the made for TV "Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes". Armed with this knowledge, I probably would have ignored my buddies advice, but the cast was too interesting to pass up. What were these guys doing in this movie?

The macho male crew is rounded out by leader and self proclaimed playboy Neil (Danny Dyer, "Human Traffic", "Malice in Wonderland"), the recent divorcé Vince (Stephen Graham, "Boardwalk Empire"-he's amazing!, "Public Enemies"), comic geek Matt (Lee Ingleby, "The Last Legion"), recent zen convert Patrick (Keith-Lee Castle, "Seed of Chucky"), the requisite homosexual Graham (Emil Marwa, "East is East"), and slacker Banksy (Neil Maskell). They're driven to the country by Christina Cole ("Hex") whom they immediately dub "Candy". Eventually, the guys run into an Army guy (Terry Stone) trying his best to kill the "zombirds" and redeem himself in the role he played in their creation.

If I were not a woman, or had the ability to completely check my brain at the door, I may have liked this movie more. Unfortunately, all I could think about was how misogynistic the men were (no wonder their women hate them), and how I wished they would die. The story lags about, not quite sure if it's a comedy or just a B-movie. Women are harlots and zombies hell bent on destroying/pacifying a man and men are the lonely victims to their plans. Please.

The opening scenes of the movie rip off British gangster movies with each character being introduced to us through the misdeeds they do to their significant others, then freeze frame and animate to reveal their names. Guy Ritchie doesn't even do that anymore people! Move on! Cole is completely underused and I kept wondering why she was even in this movie. Has life been that bad for you girl? Your IMDB page tells a different story. The idiocy surrounding them only makes it the more amazing that any may actually survive. How hard is to to lure a zombie out of a van and then get in it? Just run around in a circle people. Why run off into no man's land? Pun intended.

My feelings on the movie were actually heightened after watching the making of featurette, an in dept look at production, cast interviews, post production, and FX. "Doghouse" was shot with the Red HD Digital Camera, which fuses the best of film and digital filming into one camera without any of the negatives. The Red is able to give crisp picture and definition in low light, eliminates blur when used as a steadycam, and provides high definition playback. Digital filming allows the director and actors to go for longer takes, and is cheaper than shooting on film. Other films shot with this amazing new technology include "The Social Network", the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides", "District 9", "Che"; as well as numerous television series like "Southland", "Covert Affairs", "Sanctuary", and "Louis". It is truly amazing.

First time screen writer Dan Schaffer makes a valiant effort at crafting a 90-minute story line, but gets weighed down by the limitations a screenplay has over his usual comic book format. I am curious to read his comic works, especially "Dogwitch" about an outcast witch obsessed with the sick and unstable subcultural population. Could be good.

The FX are really great- heads being chopped in half, guts galore, crazy zombie make-up. It's got it all. It's no surprise when you consider that the team responsible also worked on "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", "Splintered", "Prince of Persia", and "Moon". Great make-up and FX can really help a poor movie become a good one.

All in all, I like this movie more after learning more about the behind the scenes, but I don't think I could really recommend it. Unless, that is, you've got a beef with women and enjoy watching idiots attempt to fight zombies. You would do better to rent "Shaun of the Dead" again.

27 November 2010

Mr Potter

**** (4 stars)

The week long celebration of my birth ended Thursday, so I'm finally sober enough to sit down and write. Well, maybe not; but I'm not hung over and that will just have to do.

The traditional Graygrrrl Thanksgiving involves going to the movies, stuffing my face, and passing out. Now that I'm older, it also involves a quick stop at my friends Misfits Thanksgiving (which is not a nod to the power of Danzig, though I think I wore a Misfits tee one year...) to drink a bottle of wine before the family fun. This year we combined my birthday movie with out Thanksgiving movie (seems to be happening more and more these days) and saw "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1".

For those of you living in a cave or at the bottom of the sea without access to TV, book stores, libraries, movie theatres, and Netflix; this is the penultimate HP movie before it comes to a close next summer. I'm not going to recap the last 6 movies for you, I'm sure someone has already done it, but I will tell you about this one. It's been forever since I read the book (well, only a year actually) and I totally forgot everything that happened. It was nice to be surprised and upset in the movie. Usually, if I read something once it's with me forever. In the final installment, Harry and crew are on the run from the Death Eaters (Voldemort's, the ultimate baddie, minions), searching for the fragmented pieces of Big V's soul, and trying not to die while also making googly eyes at one another.

I was not excited when it was announced that this book would be split into two movies. I know it's long, but really? Greedy much? After watching the film though I can say it was probably a good idea. Did it need to be 2 1/2 hours long? No. Two hours would have covered it and we would have been fine. However, naysayers should finally shut their mouths that this could have been told in one movie. Maybe if we were back in the glory days of Hollywood when movies had intermissions, but no one does that anymore. Why don't they? I would kill to see the final installment right now. I remember what happens ultimately, but the journey to get there is lost from my mind. I want to know now!

Directed again by David Yates, the film has all the dark, mature tones the books had while maintaining some semblance of humor. I teared up twice (when did I start getting emotional at movies? I blame "Heavy") but laughed at least 20 times. Every time something was revealed I would whisper, "Oh!" or "What?" or "Oh my!". My mother and friend thought that was hilarious and kept laughing at me. Who cares? Get into the movies people!

Longtime writer Steve Kloves continues his reign as one of the best adaptation writers in the biz. Everything from the books is there with all the fluff removed. I could have done without so many long looks and it-will-be-alright stares, but I fear that was more an editing decision. Editor Mark Day has worked with Yates for years. I wish he had broken from the mold of previous films that seemed to linger on establishing shots that establish nothing. I don't care about a bird flying over Hogwarts, I know we're at Hogwarts, we've been at Hogwarts for the past 3 scenes! You're making me crazy!

The actor's keep getting better though. Each movie they mature more and more, and I'm not talking about getting older and taller. The confidence has been there since Yates took over, but I think it was really instilled by Alfonso Cuaron in "Prisoner of Azkaban" when the films took their turn to the dark side and began demanding more from it's child stars. A particular scene towards the beginning finds Harry, Hermione, and Ron on the run in the streets of London. I busted out laughing, watching Ron (Rupert Grint) starring in wonder at the "real world" around him. "Hallows" continues the tradition of "name the actor", with familiar faces in small roles. This time I wracked my brain trying to identify two men Ron and Harry impersonate in the Ministry of Magic. Thank god for IMDB! Now I know it was David O'Hara from "Wanted" and "Doomsday", and Steffan Rhodri from "Gavin & Stacey"(TV). Love those guys! Also stopping by are a who's who of British character actors: Peter Mullan ("Session 9"), George Harris ("Layer Cake"), Andy Linden ("Rocknrolla"), Sophie Thompson ("Emma"), Jamie Cambell Bower ("Sweeny Todd"), Rade Serbedzija ("Snatch"), and John Hurt is back as Ollivander the wand maker.

Alexandre Desplat is a welcome addition to the team. Nominated for several Oscars and BAFTA awards, his musical compositions make me want to buy the score on CD. His music has appeared in an amazing array of wonderful films: "Fantastic Mr. Fox", "The Queen", "The Beat That Skipped My Heart", "Lust/Caution", "The Golden Compass", and "Twilight: New Moon" (which I will forgive him for). He is brilliant!

So, should you see the movie now or wait until next summer to see them both at once? I say go now. You want to see this on the big screen (though I would advise against IMAX- too much fast motion and random Steadicam shots would make you ill). Also, if you don't see it you will be forced to join the other weirdos in the caves and underwater cities until you do. That last one sounds kind of cool though. "You haven't seen Harry Potter? To Atlantis with you!"

[side note: What's up with charging $4 more for ETX (Enhanced Theatre Experience). All you get is a slightly bigger screen and upgraded sound. I won't even mention the digital projection as the rest of the theatres I visit have that too. Really? $4? You're website says $2 and that seems pushing it. Maybe if you had those awesome motorized chairs that vibrate and pivot I would consider it. Oh! Who's tried those new chairs and why doesn't Dallas have them? If Nowheresville, TX can have them, I want them too!

23 November 2010

Moguls & Movie Stars

Last night I caught an episode of TCM's "Moguls and Movie Stars" series, about the history of Hollywood filmmaking. The episode I watched, "Brother, can you spare a dime?" focused on Hollywood from 1929-1941, specifically the creation of the major studios, the transition from silent to "talkies", and the creation and, in some cases, destruction of the studio star. To top it off, it's narrated by Christopher Plummer whom I simply adore!

It was fascinating and I hope they release it on DVD. It would make the perfect gift or addition to your film library.

If you have cable, the series is running through December 13th. I missed the first 3 episodes, so I really hope they re-run them later. Check out their site in the link above and mark your calendar and DVR to record!

20 November 2010

It's my birthday week (yes, I get 7 whole days to drink myself silly and have a raucous good time), so I don't have a lot of time to watch movies at the moment. I will be back later this week with my Harry Potter review, albeit a bit late, but I refuse to NOT see this movie on Thanksgiving thereby killing two birds with one stone: What to see on my birthday and what to see on Thanksgiving. Problem solved!

See you soon and Happy Thanksgiving (or Happy No Work Thursday for those of you who don't celebrate)!!

15 November 2010

WWQTW?: Orlando

Friday night was the last meeting of WWQTW? for 2010. I am so thankful to lead this club and love all the great discussions we've had over the last few months. I am working on some really cool movies and surprises for next year, but until then you're on your own! Check out my list of movies everyone should have seen (and the basis for what we watch in the club) here, or just click on the "wwqtw" label at the bottom to fill your days during the holiday season.

Back to Friday! We had a great turn out and even better eats! I'm going to have to start taking pictures of the spread: stuffed phyllo assorted bites, stuffed brie, crab dip, pizza rolls, Olive Garden salad (love!), and French silk pie to finish. My Sausage Tempeh Puff Pastries were a big hit as well and I will post the recipe on my food blog this week. I wanted to continue along the same themes as last meeting where we spoke about gender and identity from the perspective of "Queer Cinema", but this time I wanted to focus on female/feminist film.

"Orlando" (1992) was written and directed by Sally Potter and based on the book by Virginia Woolf. The novel itself was a love letter to Woolf's mistress Vita Sackville-West, herself an accomplished poet. The film begins in 1500 with the young Orlando (Tilda Swinton) becoming the confidant (and lover?) of Queen Elizabeth I. It is Elizabeth that urges Orlando to "...not whither, do not fade". Here the theme of immortality is introduced in the film. After the deaths of the Queen and Orlando's parents, he falls a sleep for some time and awakens in 1610 ("Love") and begins an affair with Sascha, a Russian noble woman. Later, in 1650, he begins a poem ("The Oak Tree") about his love and hatred of Sascha and women in general. In 1700 ("Politics"), Orlando is made the liaison to Constantinople and remains there until war forces him to rethink his priorities. When we next meet Orlando ("Society"), he is now a she. "The same person, no difference at all, just a different sex". The Lady Orlando now makes her way in the world of upper-crust society as a woman. The limits to her freedom and privilege as a woman are all the more harsh as she still thinks of herself as a man, or if not male than as equal to men. In 1850 ("Sex") she has a brief affair with Shelmerdine (Billy Zane) that ends when she is forced from her estate for being an unmarried woman. Now in the section named "Birth", we see Orlando as a successful mother who is only now able to live the life she always dreamt and be the person she always wanted to be.

The main themes of Orlando are love, immortality, and gender roles. When Orlando is a young man, he is a hopeless romantic more interested in love that station. It is not until he is in love that he recognizes the "treachery of women" and the pain that comes with pleasure. "I can find only three words to describe the female sex. None of which is worth expressing". He is happy then to live a quiet life, alone at home, meditating in the far East, or sitting in a salon (though now as a woman his opinion is worth less). Love comes knocking again in the guess of an American adventurer whom she proposes to upon first meeting. He, however, recognizes her spark and refuses. They have a wonderful conversation about what it means to be a "real man" or a "real woman". When he leaves, she has the exact conversation with him as she did with Sascha, only now Orlando speaks the woman's part and Shelmerdine speaks Orlando's. It is useful to note that the two loves of Orlando's life are both tied to the weather- Sascha must leave when the ice cracks and her ship can sail, while Shelmerdine must leave when the wind changes direction. It is a not so subtle metaphor, yet one that works.

Immortality is another theme of the film. Orlando lives over 300 years and sees and experiences the world in a unique way. He falls in love, breaks his heart, goes abroad, changes gender, falls in love, breaks his heart, loses his home, and generally looks for the meaning in all of it. It is finally in modern times that she is "no longer trapped by destiny" and can live as a free spirit.

Gender is obviously a theme here. Orlando lives multiple lives as both a man and a woman, but it is the female gender that he eventually sticks to and seems to have been working towards his whole life. It is as a woman that he can express himself more freely and avoid the things he finds distasteful. A woman can speak of love, avoid war and conflict, be the mistress of her own home, and an independent person. It is fascinating to see the history of the world played out over one persons lifetime. The way each subtle changes hits Orlando plays across his face. He winks, knowingly toward the camera.

Potter is known for her avant-garde film making style. Her films often seem to follow no discernible plot, characters break the forth wall, and the fantasy of the mind becomes reality. She is also regarded as a feminist filmmaker, though I don't hear her male counterparts labeled as misogynist filmmakers like a badge of honor. Her first film starred Julie Christie as a movie star who tries to understand her roots. It has no real plot and the script is a bit weak. She spent 9 years working on the "Orlando" script, trying to show her detractors that she was capable of a good script. She succeeds here and makes one of my favorite, little appreciated movies here. She followed it up with "The Tango Lesson" in which she also stars. It's better than "The Gold Diggers" but her refusal to write in the Hollywood standard of 3-arch narration may turn many viewers off. Truth be told, the only other movie of hers I liked was "The Man Who Cried" starring Johnny Deep and Christina Ricci. It tells the story of a Russian Jew (Ricci) who is separated from her family as a child. As an adult, she becomes a professional singer, falls in love with a gypsy (Deep), and searches for her father as the Nazi's invade France. Her most recent film, "Rage", is the story of a murder at a fashion party told through the interviews a blogger conducts on the scene. There is no set, only a plain brightly coloured backdrop and the actors speak directly into the camera. While it is an interesting concept, it quickly becomes tiresome and boring.

Tilda Swinton is one of my favorite actresses in history, hands down. She (finally) won an Oscar in 2008 for "Michael Clayton", and has been nominated for several awards for her work in "Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons", "Burn After Reading", "Young Adam", and "The Deep End". I also love her as the angel Gabriel in "Constantine". She is a fearless actress and great talent. The whole club was in agreement that we could not think of any other actor to play the role of Orlando. Her voice subtly shifts up a register when she becomes a woman, and the knowing looks she gives the camera take on a whole new meaning. She would have to be sympathetic for the film to be successful and she is.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards in Costume design and Art Direction. It is amazing to think this film was made for roughly the equivalent of $8 million. Costume designer Sandy Powell would go on to win 3 Oscars for her work in "Shakespeare in Love", "The Aviator", and "The Young Victoria". It truly is a beautiful film to watch, though the DVD transfer is sometimes a bit sketchy. Maybe it was just my copy. The transitions between decades/chapters was often done on screen and followed by a title card instead of the other way around. This seemed to confuse some of the club (While running through a hedge labyrinth and going from 1750 to 1850: "Where did she find a change of clothes?" -"There was a hedge of requirement?").

Further viewing: The Gold Diggers, The Man Who Cried, Mrs. Dalloway, Thelma & Louise (the male perspective to feminist film), Hedwig & The Angry Inch, Transamerica, The Fountain, Looking for Mr Goodbar, Frida, Lovely & Amazing, The Piano, The Virgin Suicides, The Namesake, Gas Food Lodging, Personal Velocity, Brief Crossing,

13 November 2010


** (2 stars)

Thursday night my friend Jennie and I went to a screening of "Skyline". I really like these late night shows (it was slated to start at 10 PM) because they give me a chance to unwind from the day and make dinner instead of stuffing my gourde with nachos.

There is nothing new about "Skyline". Aliens have descended on Los Angeles and begin collecting people and destroying buildings. A group of douche bag survivors are holed up in their penthouse trying to figure out a way to escape (my apologize to the director, I understand it's his house) . Did I mention the aliens produce this blue light that apparently boils your blood causing your veins to pop to the surface of your skin and mesmerizes you into coming closer to them so they can eat you? No?

Directed by The Brothers Strauss (Collin and Greg) and starring Eric Balfour ("Haven", "Six Feet Under"), Donald Faison ("scrubs"), Brittany Daniel (I always think of her from "Sweet Valley High"), David Zayas ("Dexter"), and Scottie Thompson (mostly TV guest spots but she was Nero's wife in "Star Trek"). This is The Brothers sophomore effort after directing "Alien vs Predator- Requiem". They got their start doing Special FX and own their own company, Hydraulx. You may have seen some of their work in a little movie called "Avatar", as well as "2012", "X-Men Origins: Wolverine", "Fantastic Four", and "Titanic".

It's this background that provides the only good thing in the movie. The FX are dazzling. In particular, the veins that appear on the characters faces when the look into the blue light (have they been watching "The Vampire Diaries"? Very similar). The aliens interact well with the actors and the destruction is sure enough. The scene hinted at in the trailer that takes place in a parking garage is really good and the only bit of fright in the whole pic. I gave the movie an extra star for that sequence alone.

The biggest flaw with the movie is the script. Written by FX guys (and Hydraulx employees) Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell, it's clear these guys have never written anything before. I would be surprised if they've even read a good script, and no; I'm not counting Scriptwriting for Dummies. The dialogue that comes out of the actors mouths is unintentionally hilarious. In particular, David Zayas' super is a mash up of discarded one liners from "Miami Vice" or "NYPD Blues". I'm not sure why he only talks in cop speak, but it's really distracting. Why is he so angry? Who put him in charge? What a douche! I expected very little from our female leads and was not let down, but Balfour was a real disappointment. I've really enjoyed him on the Syfy original series "Haven" (helps to have awesome writers) and hope that this lifts the curse he seems to have over the fate of TV shows. It seems like every show he stars in gets cancelled or ends it's run. I hope this is not the case with "Haven". The first season was so good and there are so many unanswered questions! But I'm distracted, where was I? Oh yes, the acting is horrible. Hideous may be a better word.

I laughed several times during the movie, sometimes when I was supposed to, but I didn't jump once. Shouldn't a horror movie be scary? The ending is so ridiculous I'm tempted to blow it for you here but I won't. Let's just say it's what happens when a novice writer gets stuck in his own work. It makes no sense and the whole film should have ended 5 minutes earlier. However, the movie is only 93 minutes, so that's another plus.

I would wait and rent this movie if you're really interested in it, but I would not pay $10.

10 November 2010

127 Hours

**** (4 1/2 stars)

Last night I had the opportunity to see an advanced screening of "127 Hours" with my buddy Lauren. The show was completely sold out but we got good seats none the less! It was a lot of fun.

Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire", as well as "Trainspotting", "28 Days Later", and "Millions") tackles the real life story of Aron Rolston (played by James Franco), the climber who made headlines in 2003 when he cut his own arm off to save himself after becoming trapped in a crevice. The script was based on Rolston's book "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", and was co-written by Boyle and Academy Award winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire", as well as "The Full Monty", "Blow Dry", and "MIss Pettegrew Lives for a Day"). Many of the same Slumdog people are back as well: A.R. Rahman provides the original music which seems a bit Slumdog-lite. Anthony Dod Mantle (AA for "Slumdog Millionaire", as well as "28 Days Later") and Enrique Chediak ("Repo Men", "28 Weeks Later") do an amazing job on the cinematography. I'm sure we can expect to see them again come awards season, but more on that later. Production Designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb (also from "Slumdog") had her work cut out for her. The majority of production was shot on location in the same valley's and mountain's the real Rolston climbed in Utah.

If not for Boyle and Franco, I'm not sure I would have ever considered seeing this movie. Maybe on Netflix, but not in the theatre. I'm certainly curious about what happened in that canyon in April '03. I remember hearing the story and seeing Rolston on Letterman. I know what happened in a round about sense, but I clearly never cared enough to get his book or look into it fully. Climbing, canyoning, etc. holds no interest to me.

When I head Franco had been cast, I knew I was screwed and would have to see this movie. He has proven himself quite the gifted actor, abandoning the heartthrob/bad boy image ("Freaks & Geeks", "Annapolis", "Spiderman") in favor of rich character studies and independent cinema. See: "Milk", "Howl", "Tristan + Isolde". Even his turn on "General Hospital" seems logical and a big F-you to mainstream Hollywood. The daily shoots and last minute scripts would surely help an actor, and it seems as if it has. Franco's performance of Rolston is cocky, sincere, heartbreaking, and devastating. His hunger induced fantasies play in split screen, the colours pop from the near darkness he was in before. We find ourselves longing for a Mountain Dew or the need to escape the bathroom. Unfortunately, we are glued to our seats and cannot move for fear we will miss one moment of his performance.
[side note: Fuck you James for making me watch episodes of GH. I have no idea what is going on. I do think it's hilarious that your character was named Franco, but that could have easily been an attempt from the writers to help you remember your name on the show. Grrr!]

Speaking of the use of split screen, it was a bit annoying at times but made sense as the film progressed. We are assaulted with images of urbanism, consumerism, and traffic. Bright colours of red, yellow, and green (a wink at the upcoming red desert?) flash across the screen. At times, we are unsure where to look or what we are seeing. This continues off and on until the pivotal scene where Aron is trapped. Now, these editing tricks play out in his mind. One of the best scenes in the film comes when Rolston has been trapped for over 3 days in the canyon. He imagines himself on an interview show and he plays the part of both host, guest, and caller to the small camera he brought with him on the trip. We cut back and forth from the low res handheld to a movie camera slightly askew stage right and another stage left. It is a brilliant scene for both actor, director, and editor.

Also cropping up in the film (no pun intended) are Kate Mara ("Shooter") and Amber Tamblyn ("Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") as two fellow hikers who met Rolston right before his accident, his parents played by Treat Williams (!!!) and Kate Burton, and his ex-girlfriend (Clémence Poésy, "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire", "In Bruges") whom he often reminisces about.

Boyle has long been a director impossible to peg or categorize. His filmography reads like my perfect wish list: horror, suspense, comedy, non-fiction, foreign, sci-fi. He seems to follow his heart and doesn't allow anyone to tell him what type of movies he should be making. It is impossible to tell a Danny Boyle film just by looking at it, and I mean that as the ultimate compliment. I remember seeing his first film "Shallow Grave" when it came out. It introduced me to Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston, and was the kind of dark British humor much beloved in our house. He followed that up with "Trainspotting" and "A Life Less Ordinary" (slightly less successful). "The Beach" paired him with future collaborator Alex Garland from whose novel the film was based. They would go on to work together on "28 Days Later" and "Sunshine" (one of my top little appreciated films and a must for horror/sci-fi nerds like myself). Just to throw them off, he left zombies behind to make a small and uplifting Irish movie called "Millions". Finally, the Oscar's came calling with "Slumdog Millionaire". Personally, I didn't think it would win or even that it was the best picture of the year (I would have given that to "The Reader" or "Milk", but the Academy has long loved these kinds of films. See:"Crash" beating "Brokeback Mountain", "Good Night and Good Luck", and "Munich".)
[side note:While I understand the desire to work with the same people, especially those who won awards along side you; it is important not to lose focus on who is best for the job. A fair warning to Mr Boyle: Lay off the Indian music and references for a bit, please.]

But back to the movie at hand. I recommend "127 Hours" for everyone. There are scenes that may be a bit gory for children (it is rated R for language and brief gore), so use your best judgement. It is a well crafted film that takes us on a journey no one would choose for themselves, but which leaves us with a sense of hope and impressive awe at the man who lived it.

08 November 2010

The Killer Inside Me

**** (4 stars)

In the tradition of "Frailty" and "The Minus Man" comes Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of the 1952 Jim Thompson classic, "The Killer Inside Me". I've already added the book to my Goodreads account. Starring Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Elias Koteas (LOVE!), Ned Beatty, and Simon Baker.

Lou Ford (Affleck) is the deputy sheriff in small town Texas who mostly keeps to himself and seems nice enough, if a bit dim witted. He's got the perfect girl (Hudson) and the perfect life. All this changes when he meets a prostitute (Alba) who awakens his sexual and maniacal desires. This new sheriff is a man afflicted with "the sickness" he thought he had defeated in his childhood. Now the main suspect in a double murder, can we outwit the local prosecutor (Baker) and live the new life he's created or is his secret destined to destroy him?

The book was previously made into a movie in 1976 and starred Stacy Keach. I haven't seen that version but I find it hard to imagine Keach in the role. Affleck on the other hand proves his worth and establishes himself as one of the best actor's of our generation, completely separate from any association with his brother (not that that's a bad thing anymore, Ben Affleck is proving himself a very capable director). Lest we forget, he is an Academy Award nominated actor as well ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), and has turned in good work in "Gone Baby Gone" and "Lonesome Jim" (which I hated, but it wasn't his fault). I am highly anticipating his starring turn in Ridley Scott's upcoming "The Kind One". His face, voice, and body melt into this character. It takes an innate sensibility to find the humanity and sympathy behind a man with loose morals and ethics. At the same time, it's a story of both love and survival. That so many themes and layers can be found is testement to Thompson's book and John Curran (previously a director of films such as "The Painted Veil" and "We Don't Live Here Anymore") screenplay. It is a cautionary tale of the sacrifices one makes when they've done wrong and a walk up call to the warning signs sociopath's always seem to give off in these films. How long can you cover your tracks? When does luck run out? As Sheriff Maples (Tom Bower) says, "It's lightest just before the darkness". So this motto becomes a prophecy and highlights the subtle shift in the movie as it leans away from romance and further into madness. This realization hits Lou late in the film, but he has the calm sense of self and mind to know "you can't kill a dead man".

Alba seems out of place. There's a woodiness (is that a word?) to her acting that is magnified in her scenes with Affleck. She's a TV actress, not the film star her agents are trying to make her out to be. In her characters pivotal scene, I was jolted out of the story to wonder who advised her to play it so cool during a savage beating? What happened to survival instinct? Is she that much in love? The whole scene in question is horribly false and lacks the melodrama it should illicit. In comparison with Hudson's character, hers is the least fleshed out. Maybe it's because we only see her as a sexual object that we find it so difficult to believe she would stand there and take it. Really? The girl who slapped and punched Lou when they first met. What happened to that girl?

Speaking of Hudson, I wish she would step outside her comfort zone more often. This role is rich in the female submissiveness that we think of in the 50s. She loves her man and allows him to do things to her that she normally wouldn't do. In complete contrast to Alba, we understand her motivations. This is the man she has been in love with for years, who plans to marry her, who will make her honest.

It is still Affleck's movie though. He is scary in the ways adults find frightful. Not as a monster who lurks under the bed, but as the seemingly charming one that lives next door. A Bundy figure long before Bundy was a killer too. We watch him justify his actions and feelings, and go along for the ride. Winterbottom's use of voice over narrative would normally drive me crazy (I think it's lazy), however it works here. We can hear his thoughts, his processes, his observations of his own actions.

Winterbottom has made it his career to observe and report human behavior. He reserves judgement for the audience and it is this removed perspective that allows him to produce high caliber films. Further viewing is required of: Wonderland, 24 Hour Party People, 9 Songs (very adult/mature), A Mighty Heart, and his award winning documentary Road to Guantanamo.

Marcel Zyskind's cinematography is a bit distracting at times. What could be powerful long takes of Lou walking towards the prostitutes home, leaving the office; instead are left long enough only to show us the kind of mood and atmosphere we could have had. Much of this can really be attributed to Mags Arnold's editing. In the hands of a more experienced editor, the small holes and jumps that momentarily leave the viewer scratching their head could have been avoided.

I don't know why I didn't see this when it was released. I remember reading about it a lot and getting excited, but maybe it didn't play in Dallas. Kind of odd, we seem to get most movies now. I would have loved to experience this in the theatre, seen who walks out and when. I do recommend it for anyone who likes mysteries, and critical character studies. If you didn't like the two films I mentioned at the head of this post, skip entirely.

03 November 2010

The Best Movies You May Have Never Seen: Conclusion

I'm kicking off my new blog by reposting my list of "The Best Films You May Have Never Seen Or Heard Of But That You Must Queue As Soon As Possible!" It's kind of long so I'm going to break it up into a couple posts. I'm sure some of these you will have seen and possibly already love, but I hope a few are also new to you.Click on the title for more information. What would you add?

"Vertigo" (1958)- It is my belief that this is one of several movies people say they have seen, but in actuality, they have only seen the poster. Also on this list are several other Hitchcock movies (Rear Window being most popular), the Bond movies (with the exception of Daniel Craig), and Sherlock Holmes. Please, do yourself a favor and watch this. If you have seen it, it's probably been a while, so watch it again. It is genius. All I need to say is: Kim Novak (I want to be her when I grow up) and James Stewart. Enough said.

"The Wackness" (2008)- This movie made a splash on the festival scene (though I suspect it had as much to do with the star being a current Disney commodity playing against type as a drug dealer as much as it did the brilliance of the movie). That being said, its great. Ben Kinglsey is of course brilliant and the backdrop of 80's New York is priceless. It's like watching the birth of "wigger" culture without having to sit through a Jamie Kennedy movie.

"What We Do is Secret" (2007)- This movie is a labor of love for star Shane West (and yes, I know what you're thinking: What they hell does ex-Mandy Moore movie love interest/"er" stud have to tell ME about punk). The answer is: a lot. Based on the life of Germs front man Darby Crash, the movie takes us through the birth of modern punk- from high school to "fame" to death. It is spliced with interviews of Crash (as played by West) that were lifted from actual interviews. The music is raw and the approach to his sexuality is casual yet front and center. The bonus features on the disc make for good watching as well. Whether you are a fan or not of punk music, this true story of decline will have you hooked. [new note: I kinda hope "Nikita" fails so Shane West can concentrate on making more good movies like this one. Plus, do we really need another version of the same story on TV? Is it any wonder shows are failing and the networks are in the crapper? This was the best idea you had CW? Really?]

"The Wind that Shakes the Barley" (2006)- I realize that this movie may not be for most, but I cannot get enough of the Irish struggle for independence. I suspect it has something to do with my families own involvement, but this movie by British wunderkind Ken Loach starring Cillian Murphy, shows us a side of the conflict that we never see: What happened outside the cities, in the towns and villages across Ireland. The struggle for Irish freedom was famously fought in Dublin, but the heart of the war raged on in the fields. I loved it- it's quietness, the cinematography, everything.

"Wristcutters: A Love Story" (2006)- This movie has become the new marker for how cool you are. If you've seen it: you are. If you haven't: well, get thee to a Blockbuster! The story is simple: boy commits suicide after he hears his girlfriend is dead, and travels to purgatory to find her. One the way, he picks up a crazy Russian and an even crazier girl. All the music is by Gogol Bordello (and from what I can figure, it is not on either of their 2 albums. I am mucho bummed by this). It's hilarious, it's about love and life and death. Seriously, it's funny too.

So, that ends my list. What have I left off? What movies do you love that feel like no one else has seen them, that are your little secret? I am always looking for suggestions. I'm not sure how I will follow this up. I like the idea of Sunday's being for list making...

On a final note, the worst movie I have ever seen (as told to me by my Netflix ratings) is:
Wow, I should have looked at how many 1 star movies I had. Perhaps that list is for another time.

Best Movies You May Have Never Heard Of (cont.)

I'm kicking off my new blog by reposting my list of "The Best Films You May Have Never Seen Or Heard Of But That You Must Queue As Soon As Possible!" It's kind of long so I'm going to break it up into a couple posts. I'm sure some of these you will have seen and possibly already love, but I hope a few are also new to you.Click on the title for more information. What would you add?
J-T Edition

"Jules et Jim" (1962)- My favorite French film by Truffaut tells the story of a love triangle between Jules and Jim over Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). It is the definition of New Wave complete with ludicrous situations and camera angles. A must, especially now that it is available on Criterion.

"The Limey" (1999)- Terrance Stamp stars as a former thief tracking down his daughters’ killer. There is something magic about Terrance Stamp and Steven Soderbergh brings out the best of his actors. The flashbacks to a younger Mr. Stamp are from one of his first films, “Poor Cow”, and are further evidence of the director’s genius. Not a feel good movie, so open a bottle of wine and hunker down.

"London" (2005)- It took me a while to get around to watching this movie (it stars Jessica Biel after all) but boy was I glad I did. It’s a twisted love story about the one that got away and takes place all in one night in one apartment. Great acting and writing from all involved.

"Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" (1994)- I love Dorothy Parker. Look her up. Her sardonic wit was as legendary as was the company she kept. This bio of her mid life stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (of course- mega LOVE) and is wonderful. Very Altman-esque with a who’s who of actors. Look for Jon Favreau in a small role.

"Night watch" (2005)/"Day watch"- greatest Russian movie of all time (and the 2 highest grossing). The Night watch patrols Moscow and regulates all the “dark ones”- vampires, werewolves, witches; while the Day watch patrols the “light others”- shape shifters, magicians, etc. Some of the best effects and action sequences I’ve ever seen. The dubbed version is pretty good (the director did it himself), but the subtitles are sublime, weaving in and out of the frame keeping your eye on the action. [new note: Another addition to my best of horror. You can check out the full Fright Fest list here.]

"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1969)- stars a very young Maggie Smith in her Oscar nominated role. She is a teacher at an all girls school and the mayhem continues from there. Jealousy, young love, and anger all play roles in this delicious film.

"Reds" (1981)- Warren Beatty directed and stars in this film about real-life writer John Reed and his involvement with the Bolshevik Rebellion. Epic film about what it means to be American, the struggle for rights, and the rise of the Socialist party in Russia. Also starring Diane Keaton. Won Beatty a Best Director Oscar. [new note: I'm a sucker for movies that came out the year I was born. I'll probably compile a complete list of my favorites soon. It was such a rich year!]

"The Salton Sea" (2002)- Val Kilmer is a meth head in LA with a scheme only other meth heads would love: Steal some famous shit, literally. Hilarious movie with great performances by Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Adam Goldberg especially. [side note: Where has Val Kilmer been? When did he get all puffy? Is he okay?]

"Session 9" (2001)- One of my all time favorite movies!!! "Session 9" follows a demolition crew clearing out an abandoned asylum before it is torn down. Needless to say, creepy stuff happens! What's brilliant about this movie, is the very low-fi approach the director takes as well as the fine writing and acting. It will scary the bejesus out of you! [new note: Another Fright Fest honoree!]

"Sliding Doors" (1998)- Say what you will about Gwyneth Paltrow, but she has made some lovely small films. This one stars her as a London woman who's life splits apart after an accident- literally. We follow both threads to see what would have happened and are left wondering and hoping to discover what has happened. I really like this movie, and her accent doesn't bother me as much as I would have expected. A great light-hearted romp when your in the mood for a romantic comedy but don't want to feel stupider after having watched it.

"The Sweet Hereafter" (1997)- I love Atom Egoyan! You cannot go wrong with any of his films but this, arguably one of his better known, is a great introduction to this brilliant Armenian-Canadian director. The story seems simple: a bus full of students skid off the road one icy day. Who's at fault? The answer isn't so simple. Ian Holm is a genius and this movie introduced the world to Sarah Polley. A downer for sure, but well worth the trip.

"The Thing Called Love" (1993)- Samantha Mathis (where has she been?) and River Phoenix star in this dramady about life, dreams, and country music- but not in the way you might be thinking. In the hands of director Peter Bogdanovich, it is smart, funny, and easy to watch. I love a young Sandra Bullock as Linda Lou- the lost soul and daft friend of Mathis. Phoenix is of course riveting and the performance is saddened by his death shortly after. It's almost as if you can sense it in his eyes. Love!

The Best Movies You May Have Never Seen

I'm kicking off my new blog by reposting my list of "The Best Films You May Have Never Seen Or Heard Of But That You Must Queue As Soon As Possible!" It's kind of long so I'm going to break it up into a couple posts. I'm sure some of these you will have seen and possibly already love, but I hope a few are also new to you. What would you add?

The A-I Edition
(in no particular order)

“After Life” (1998)- Awesome Japanese film about the way station to the afterlife where the dead must cull through their memories and find their defining moment. Well shot and acted, it was not as depressing as it sounds. If you've seen the Robin Williams movie "Final Cut", this is its more uplifting, dramatic, and better cousin.

“Agnes of God” (1985)- Meg Tilly shines as a nun who may or may not have murdered her baby and Jane Fonda is great as the psychologist sent to investigate. It’s a very calm, faded movie. Look for the dynamic Anne Bancroft as mother superior.

“Bell, Book, and Candle” (1958)- I don’t want any letters on how this is not obscure. A recent poll of my friends would disagree with you. The best movie staring Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, and Jack Lemmon. It’s about a witch who bespells her upstairs neighbor to fall in love with her. You’ll want a Siamese named Pyewacket so badly afterward!

“Cold Comfort Farm” (1995)- Kate Beckensale before you had any idea she existed. My Dad conned me into watching it saying it was a horror movie. (“I saw something nasty in the woodshed"). I was bummed to find out it wasn’t but still loved the movie about a posh girl from London going to live with her downtrodden family in the country.

“Croupier” (1998)- Featuring a young Clive Owen as a gambler and wanna be writer down on his luck, this is for all the wierdos who aren't fans of his. He is magnificent. I would also suggest checking out all of his BBC work like the series "Chancer" and "Second Sight". Alex Kingston (of “er” fame) also appears.

“Dog Soldiers” (2002)- This one also made my list of the greatest horror movies. All you need to know: Kevin McKidd, Scotland, werewolves, awesome!!!

Eddie Izzard ("Dressed to Kill")- A comic genius, “active transvestite” Eddie Izzard makes smart comedy for everyday people. I have seen all of his stand up, so I suggest you begin with his HBO special “Dressed to Kill”. He covers History with everything from Stonehenge to Hitler, sometimes en Francais! If you get the chance to see him live, do it. It is transcendent.

"The Edge of Love" (2008)- Really lovely movie about Dylan Thomas starring Keira Knightly (I know, I can’t believe I recommend this one as well) and Sienna Miller (truly a gifted and talented actor). The film centers around the love quadrangle between Thomas, his wife, his first love, and her new husband during WWII. Beautifully shot. PS- Keira does all her own singing and it’s magnificent.

"Equilibrium" (2002)- Christian Bale and Taye Diggs star in this Brave New World/Catch-22 homage to a world without emotion, and heavily monitored by the government. Awesome fight scenes (what’s up samurai swords) and twists you will not see coming. A must for Sci-Fi nerds like myself. [new note: I included this movie for similar reason's that I included "Bell, Book, and Candle". People don't seem to remember having seen this movie and when they do, they realize they only saw parts on TV or at a friends house. It really is worth viewing all in one sitting!]

"eXistenZ" (1999)- Have I mentioned yet that David Cronenberg is a genius? No? Well he is. Take this brilliant film starring Jennifer Jason Leigh (most gifted and underused actress in Hollywood. PS- did you see her on “Weeds”? Awesome) and Jude Law. Leigh is a game designer who has come up with the latest in virtual reality. The lines between real and fantasy blur (as they are wont to do in these types of movies) but the end will keep you guessing. Great dialog as well. One of my FAVORITE movies of all time!!

"The Fall" (2006)- Remember “Pushing Daisies”? That quirky little show on Fox and it’s dreamy star Lee Pace? Get your fix with this stunning film by Tarsem. What’s the movie about? Um…. I’m going to say storytelling, not really sure. However, this movie is one of the most beautifully shot and composed films I’ve ever seen. Colour just POPS out at you and you are lost in this fantasy world. The real reason this movie makes my list are the special features. I love them (special features that is). The film took forever to make, falling in and out of financing, in and out of actor availability, but the dedication of the filmmaker, the cast (Lee Pace the 1st choice and long time advocate for the movie), and everyone involved is really inspiring.

"Ginger Snaps" (2000)- Werewolves? Check. Adolescent teen angst? Check. Honest portraits of young women and sisterhood? You betcha. This movie is hilarious and awesome. Sometimes it’s best not to trust a movie by it’s cover. I thought this looked dumb until my father made me watch it. Thank you thank you thank you! Two sequels follow (one better than the other), but two “hips” for Canada! [new note: Another of my best horror movies. Check your local listings.]

"Hard Eight" (1996)- Before Paul Thomas Anderson made Magnolia and Boogie Nights and became every movie critics wet dream, he made this. It stars John C. Reilly (the first time I remember really seeing him in a film) as a sad sack indebted to card shark Philip Baker Hall (genius. Seriously, put his movies on your Netflix). Gwenyth Paltrow also stars as a hooker who attracts Reilly’s attention but can barely take care of herself. This is not a happy fun movie. It is a bottle of wine, dark room movie. That being said, it is one of the best first films I’ve ever seen.

"Heavy" (1995)- I missed this one originally and I'm not sure how. I say a lot of movies are my favorite, but this one may very well be my favorite (English-language movie). James Mangold ("Girl, Interrupted", "Identity", "Walk the Line") wrote and directed this first feature about a troubled young man (Pruitt Taylor Vince) copeing with the death of his mother (Shelley Winters) and his unrequited love for the waitress (Liv Tyler) who works at their bar. The trailer plays before a few other movies I watch with some frequency and it brings me to tears everytime. The trailer! I love the soft, poetic nature of this movie and the performances are career making. A must!

"The Hunger" (1983)- The infamous Susan Sarandon/Catherine Denueve lesbian movie. Oh, and David Bowie’s in it as well. One of my favorite Vampire movies of all time.

"Immortal Beloved" (1994)- I love Beethoven. Seriously capital Love him and this movie is part of the reason. How could I not love a movie based on (inspired by may be a better way of putting it) his life and many loves starring Gary Oldman (divine)!

"Innocent Blood" (1992)- John Landis used to make brilliantly funny horror movies. This one stars French beauty Anne Parillaud (of Le Femme Nikita fame) as a vampire being stalked by Anthony LaPaglia (poor dear, I can only think of “So I Married an Axe Murderer” whenever I see him). Anne is hungry for Italian and angers the mob. Hilarious w/great FX. [new note: Another best horror movie list honoree! I need to watch more movies. Oh, wait...]

Have you noticed the number of horror/sci-fi movies that begin with E, F, G, H, and I? Weird.

01 November 2010

WWQTW? part three

In conclusion, here is what has been suggested to add to my list of best and most influential movies. To follow our club, just look for the "WWQTW" title or post label.

Happy Watching!

Part Three: Fin (in no particular order)

Princess Bride
A River Runs Through It
Shawshank Redemption
Sleepless in Seattle
Lord Of The Rings
The Great Gatsby
Pride and Prejudice
American Psycho
The Count of Monte Cristo
It's A Wonderful Life
A Christmas Story
Forrest Gump
Dark Knight
Fight Club
American History X
To Kill a Mockingbird
Full Metal Jacket
The Green Mile
Cool Hand Luke
The Big Lebowski
Stand By Me
An Affair to Remember
(500) days of Summer
The Notebook
Alice in Wonderland
Blazing Saddles
Boogie Nights
The Breakfast Club
Die Hard
Driving Miss Daisy
Steel Magnolias
Fried Green Tomatoes
Edward Scissorhands
Mary Poppins
Romeo and Juliet
Million Dollar Baby
Noises Off
Full Metal Jacket
Requiem for a Dream
Hotel Rwanda
Donnie Darko
Children of Men
Rosemary's Baby
Dead Man
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Inglourious Basterds
Reality Bites
The Professional/Leon
Last Temptation of Christ

WWQTW? part two

ARCHIVE 1/29/10

Here is the completion of the original 215 movies on my most influential list . The additional selections as voted by it's members will publish next Sunday. As always, feel free to leave your opinion.

Happy Watching!

Part Two: The Turn (in no particular order)

Lost Horizon
Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Henry V
The 400 Blows
The Exorcist
Dog Day Afternoon
The Turning Point
Ordinary People
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Terms of Endearment
The Big Chill
The Grifters
Mississippi Burning
The Crying Game
L.A. Confidential
Good Will Hunting
The Hours
Mystic River
The Departed
Lost in Translation
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
No Country for Old Men
Michael Clayton
The Naked City
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Baby Doll
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Last Year at Marienbad
Jules et Jim
Das Boot
Wings of Desire
Au Revoir les Enfants
The Commitments
All About My Mother
Belle du Jour
Run Lola Run
Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels
American Beauty
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Life is Beautiful
Amores Perros
Monsoon Wedding
Y tu Mama Tambien
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Shaun of the Dead
Pan's Labyrinth
The Thing
An American Werewolf in London
Battleship Potemkin
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Fahrenheit 451
Midnight Cowboy
Jason and the Argonauts
El Mariachi
Some Like it Hot
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Boondock Saints
Hard Eight
The Sweet Hereafter


ARCHIVE 1/29/10
Below is the original list of movies I compiled for my movie club. I made my selections from AFI, the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA, and my Netflix. Then I slimmed the list even more by removing movies that were unavailable to rent, that were dated (in a bad way); as well as a few other gems just to see if anyone would catch them. Tricky, I know. Finally, I forced myself to stop when I hit 215 movies. This list was sent to those participating in the club (as well as my folks) who were asked to mark each as "Seen it", "Want to see it", "Don't care", or "Own it". There was also space for them to include whatever movies they felt deserved to be on the list.

When you hear a number like 215, it seems daunting. I mean, at one movie a month, that's 18 years worth of movie watching not even counting the add on's. Certainly, we are not going to watch every single movie on the list. The goal, as I see it, is to watch a select few then offer further viewing selections.

Part One: Epilogue (in no particular order)

Citizen Kane
The Godfather
Raging Bull
Singing in the Rain
Gone with the Wind
Lawrence of Arabia
Dr Zhivago
Schindler's List
Wizard of Oz
City Lights
Star Wars
2001: A Space Oddyssey
The Graduate
On the Waterfront
High Noon
All About Eve
Apocalypse Now
The Maltese Falcon
3 Days of the Condor
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Annie Hall
King Kong
Bonnie and Clyde
The Philadelphia Story
A Streetcar Named Desire
West Side Story
Taxi Driver
The Deer Hunter
American Graffiti
Gosford Park
A Clockwork Orange
Saving Private Ryan
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Silence of the Lambs
In the Heat of the Night
The Wild Bunch
The Apartment
Easy Rider
12 Angry Men
The Sixth Sense
Pulp Fiction
Sophie's Choice
The French Connection
The Last Picture Show
Do The Right Thing
Blade Runner
Toy Story
Miracle on 34th Street
Norma Rae
The Sound of Music
The Color Purple
Dead Poet's Society
Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
Rain Man
Thelma & Louise
Harold and Maude
The Way We Were
Wuthering Heights
When Harry Met Sally…
A Star is Born
Last Tango in Paris
The English Patient
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Sense and Sensibility
Looking for Mr Goodbar
Dirty Dancing
Groundhog Day
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Back to the Future
The Searchers
The Usual Suspects
Kramer Vs Kramer
In Cold Blood
Judgment at Nuremberg
Little Women
Dazed and Confused
Night of the Living Dead
Lonesome Dove (TV Movie)
The Thin Man
Mutany on the Bounty