Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crazy Heart (2009)

The acting is good across the board, in spite of writing that seems to switch up between tempos and motivations. By that token, I think Maggie Gyllenhaal manages to actually do the most with the little she is given. Its not her acting, its the fact the role just seems underwritten: The character is supposed to seem like she is lost and/or broken in some way, but there's no real sense who she is and why she even wants to interview (or become involved with) Bad Blake (Bridges) in the first place. Its odd that the other relationships in the film come across better than the main, sort-of romantic one. Colin Farrell shows up as a country singer who Blake mentored, and who is now bigger in the scene than Blake. It says a lot about Farrell, and Bridges as well, that their best scene isn't one when they are trading fairly rote dialogue, but when they are singing onstage together and their body language and eyes are telling the story about the relationship between the two men.

Speaking of which, despite some of the writing's shortcomings, Jeff Bridges (as per usual) really is excellent here. Its easy to make comparisons with Mickey Rourke's turn in The Wrestler- a down and out entertainer just trying to get by. Crazy Heart is much less bleak, in a sense, its sad, but there is more redemption here. Wait: about Bridges, his performance as Bad Blake really does feel comfortable, lived-in, right down to his walk and doesn't go too far with the drunk mannerisms. Also, I feel like his buddy relationship with Robert Duvall as an old friend seemed much more real than the others. More organic, I guess. It really does feel like two old pros who feel comfortable with each other.

It sounds like I didn't like the movie, but I did. I just wanted to like it more than I actually did. And while it lands in a happier place than, say, The Wrestler did, there might be something to say for "over" finishing something, if that makes sense. That said: I did like Bridges a lot. Also, the original music that comes from T-Bone Burnett is also really good, which helps things.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

70 Years Ago: My Favorite Movies of 1940

Wow. Thats a long time ago. Anyway, more Jimmy Stewart! Some Cary Grant! More Hitchcock!

10) The Letter

Not enough movies are made about murders on rubber plantations anymore. I guess some things just have to be left alone when they are this good and involve Betty Davis shooting (or possibly not!) people.

9) Gaslight

This would actually be remade 4 years later in an American version to much acclaim. In actuality, both versions are actually really good. A nice little gothic thriller, involving a 20 year old murder, an abandoned house, a wife who may or may not be suffering from blackouts (or amnesia or kleptomania) , and a husband who may or may not be involved and/or scheming against her.

8) Strange Cargo

Awesome little adventure yarn, where a group of convicts try to escape from the Devil's Island penal colony, through the jungle, trying to get to a boat to get to the mainland. Made a bit stranger by the fact that one of the convicts is this weird spiritual/religious leader who seems to know what will happen before anyone else does.

6) My Favorite Wife

Jimmy Stewart actually comes in second to Cary Grant on the list this time. In my opinion, just as classic a screwball comedy as His Girl Friday (see below). I mean it is really an amazing feat of plot, pacing, and dialogue. Cary Grant's wife shows up after being presumed dead, just after gets remarried, AND then finds out she may or may not have gotten all cozy with another shipwreck survivor and sets out to find out whats up. A classic farce of misunderstanding and unfortunate timing.

5) The Grapes of Wrath

Of course, the classic from John Ford (and John Steinbeck!) about a poor midwest family forced off their land who travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless and indigent during the Great Depression. The doesn't even really scratch he surface here. Henry Fonda, in the lead, is just as great as you heard here.

4) Foreign Correspondent

Sure it might be some of Hitchcock's more overt propaganda, but that doesn't make it any less fun. Worth it for the windmill scene alone.

3) His Girl Friday

Not only one of the great workplace comedies, but when of the great screwball comedies, if thats even the most appropriate term. For a movie put out in 1940, it is actually pretty progressive for the time. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are at the top of their respective games as the divorced editors/reporters at big city newspaper. The verbal sparring and the dialogue in general are amazing.

2) Rebecca

Another gothic thriller, made all the better since it is done by The Master. Set in a big, spooky mansion (Manderlay), with a woman and her family and servants who are haunted by the memory of her husband's first wife. And they just might be trying to drive her to madness. Judith Anderson, as Mrs. Danvers, who is front and center in all this, is just great here.

1) The Philadelphia Story

Hmmm, its all gothic thrillers and screwball comedies this year. Talk about catching lightning in a bottle: three of some of the best actors ever, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn, in an amazingly written comedy. Once again, Cary Grant is trying to stop an ex from getting remarried, and the chaos that ensues when he inserts himself into other people's plans. (That must have been some sort of leitmotif in these years of Grant's career. No argument here, it produced some very amazing results.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mysteries Revealed

Ever wonder where I got the name of my blog from? Maybe?

Its from here:

Sort of. I mean its from Carl Weathers' awesome guest turn on Arrested Development. He agrees to become Tobias' "acting coach" but ends up teaching more about not spending the per diem producers give him, and making cut rate soups with hot water and ketchup from kraft services as another money saving tips. He eventually hooks up with Liza MInnelli, Buster's secret girlfriend, and in one scene asks her, "You got a stew going!?" So there you go. He loved stew! Yeah, its funnier when they do it. Obviously.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Big Fan (2009)

At this rate writer and, this time, director, Robert Siegel is on his way to being king of the depressing sports movie. He also wrote The Wrestler. Big Fan feels like a grimy character studies from the 70's, with bits and pieces of pitch black humor. It focuses on Patton Oswalt as Paul Aufiero, a Giants superfan who happens to have a run in with his favorite player one night. And how that changes his life. Or doesn't. Its interesting because it takes a lot of the cliches of a sadsack fan, whose only lifeline is a sports team: Paul lives with his mother, has a truly dead end job, no prospect of a love life, and the only time he feels a sense of belonging or even a bit of triumph is when he is going to the Giants game and watching them on a portable television in the parking lot or when he calls up the local New York sports station in the middle of the night and gives his rants he has written down during his shift as a parking attendant. When he calls the radio station, its the only time he gets a modicum of respect for his super boosterism. I've seen it said that Big Fan
is a cliched look at how certain people view sports fans. But I think it is just a focused take on a very certain kind of fan. And he didn't even have to be a sports fan-its more of a look at a man who, it seems, has let his life pass him by, even though he swears he doesn't need or want anything else, but finds solace in his sports obsession. Because even in the real world, not on the radio, he even still seems to be an outsider. In the end, its a look at someone, who, to the rest of the world, doesn't seem to belong anywhere, but at, in his head, he has carved out his own niche. No matter how sad it might look. The ending is interesting too, because his solution to everything that happens to him, well 1) he doesn't learn anything in the end (or his tunnel vision is too much to overcome) and 2) Its a somewhat twist of an ending that somehow ends up feeling more pathetic than what I thought he was actually going to do.

I saw Patton Oswalt a few weeks back doing standup, and it took me a bit to get used to him in a more dramatic role. I like him a lot as a comedian. But his casting here, Robert Siegel also cast everything, is pretty perfect. Although, because of his looks, I wonder how many sadsack roles he is going to be offered from here on out. Hey, its not a bad way to make a living, he does a good job at it. (Being a nerd, he might not know anything about sports, but he knows a lot about obsessing over seemingly minor or trivial things, he has said in interviews he brought a lot of that to the table.) Also, I need to mention Kevin Corrigan as his best friend Sal. Corrigan seems to have cornered the market of late on playing scumbags, and he is really good at it. Although here he doesn't do anything overtly scumbaggy, but even just his look gives off that air.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shutter Island (2010)

Its hard to talk about this one without giving away too much. I actually read the book earlier in the year, back when the movie was supposed to come out in October or November of 2009. In some ways I wish that I hadn't read the book before seeing the movie and just came into it cold. But on the other hand, when I read the book, one, of many, of my initial reactions was excitement to see how Scorsese would try and adapt this. I know someone put it like this already, but I was happy that Scorsese basically made an "A grade B Movie". Its his exercise in brining to together elements of the genre movies he loves. It is part psychological horror, part mystery-thriller, haunted house movie.. always with an oppressive sense of foreboding. In a weird sense, it was almost like Scorsese's own "Raiders of the Lost Ark", where its not only a triumph of atmosphere, but also feels right about being set in a very certain time and place in our country's history. I also think that it would take more than one viewing to full appreciate how good the writing here actually is, it feels like it is pretty painstaking in making sure that it all hangs together. I really enjoyed it, I thought he made the ending work. And I kind of can't wait to see it again to see how he puts some of these pieces together. I would be remiss in not mentioning that the acting is also really good-Dicaprio mostly hangs onto the accent he had left over from "The Departed" (I feel like, especially in this area, there will always be debates about the accent. But in other parts of the country people would either not care or not realize the accent might be a little off. I am sure Scorsese was just like, "close enough" and then moved on) It was awesome to not only see Mark Ruffalo, but Ben KIngsley and Max Von Sydow were some awesome, spot-on casting. Then it was great to see Patricia Clarkson, Elias Koteas, Jackie Earle Haley, and Ted Levine, who someone finally let be creepy again. In the end, I think it worked, I thought the visual worked, and even worked better with the revelation of the ending, it might have dragged juuuuust a bit but not enough to bring the whole thing down. I thought that this Dennis Lehane novel wouldn't be a good fit for Scorsese, but, as I have mentioned it before, if he keeps bringing his A-game to these sorts of genre exercises, we are the ones that are luckier for it. Really good stuff.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

60 Years Ago: My Favorite Movies of 1950

Here's something you might not know about me (or care to know, really) but inspired by this man I have top ten lists of films for every year all the way back to 1930. Wild, huh? Weird and sort of obsessive, sure. But as I have demonstrated before due to say, holes in those years or what not to every list has ten films on it. Whats my point? Not too much really, I just thought for the sake of my own personal sense of completism, I would go back and finish off my list of favorite films "on the tens" as the radio DJ's like to say. I have to admit, for the very first part of 2010, I haven't seen a lot thats new, whether it be new to me or just new in general. Hopefully, with the release of Shutter Island (I first wrote "Shitter Island" by accident, which I am sure would be a much different movie. When they make it, the Farrellys can owe me for the idea.) I have to admit thats the first new release of 2010 that I have been really excited about. It was supposed to open in October of 2009 but kept getting pushed back. And now, finally, its ready to open, and on top of it early reviews are really good. I still kind of love getting excited about things like that. Much to Tina's sometimes chagrin.

Now, back to the year 1950. As you might note, there is a lot of Jimmy Stewart on here. What can I say, both Martin Scorsese and really enjoy what has been termed his "dark period", made of darker westerns.

Anyway, here we go:

10) Broken Arrow
I guess you could say this was a sort-of precursor to The Searchers. Sort Of. Jimmy Stewart plays Tom Jeffords, a man who is slowly starting to change his mind about the Apaches that his settlers have been warring with for ten years after saving the life of a young boy. He makes himself an ambassador to try to end the fighting, and has to come to terms with how deep the hatred and mistrust is on both sides of the fence.

9) The Asphalt Jungle
Let's all just agree that Sterling Hayden is awesome. This is a nice companion to Kubrick's The Killing, which is also about an elaborate heist. John Huston's noir about a heist that starts to fall apart (as they tend to do) due to bad luck and double-crosses. Awesome stuff.

8) In a Lonely Place
Oddly enough, I have just been reading about The Ghost Writer the new Polanski movie also coming out this weekend, and it shares a certain similarity with In A Lonely Place. Mostly the idea of writers (or screenwriters) getting caught up in a mystery because of the subjects they are trying to cover. I'm gonna go out on an uninformed limb and say that In A Lonely Place does it better. Also, I wonder what was up with down and out screenwriters as characters in 1950? Nice little twist at the end too.

7) Winchester '73
Here's Mr. Stewart again. A neat little Western where Stewart plays Lin McAdam, who wins a marksmanship contest, and the titular rifle is his prize. The runner-up immediately steals it . The film then not only follows McAdam's pursuit but also the rifle itself as it switches hands, until there is a final showdown on a mountain over the prize.

6) Night and The City
A tragic little noir from Jules Dassin. This one is set in London and follows Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) as a conman and his scheme with a wrestler. Fabian tries to con everyone around him, figuring this is his greatest get-rich-quick-scheme, but ends up getting tripped by his own machinations. Good stuff all around.

5) Stage Fright
A nice, twisty little Hitchcock thriller. Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich are awesome here. Features a little twist on the common Hitchcock idea of a man trying to prove his innocence against impossible odds. The question up to the end is he actually innocent in this instance?

4) Rashomon
Kurosawa's masterpiece about a murder and how it is viewed/recalled from different points of view. An idea that would be oft-imitated in later years. Toshiro Miifune, as usual, is great here.

3) All About Eve
Hey, Marilyn Monroe pops up here again. Bette Davis, of course, gives a for-the-ages performance here. The dialogue from Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed, just dazzles here.

2) Sunset Boulevard
Oh man, William Holden is so great. Here is the hack screenwriter who comes in to write a screenplay for an aging silent film star, an amazing Gloria Swanson here, who has faded into Hollywood obscurity. So odd, sad, and dark. Norma Desmond (Swanson) becoming a somewhat insane recluse, and her former director and husband is now her butler...just more bitter brilliance from director and writer, Billy Wilder. This is some devastating ruminations on how fame can become toxic and, well, somewhat insane.

1) Harvey
Ah, we end up on a lighter note, at least on the surface, from the previous entry. Jimmy Stewart owns as Elwood P. Dowd who might be an alcoholic and might not be all there, but is also a gentle, pleasant man. Who happens to have an invisible 6-foot rabbit that happens to be his best friend. Stewart is so good here, in a movie which is actually ends up being a bit darker than one might think, even though Dowd is unflappable in trying to bring his own sense of happiness in the world. Just really good stuff all around.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Read This Article

This article about Roger Ebert has been circulating around the internet in the last day or two. I'll probably write more about it some other day, but Roger Ebert and my Dad were probably my two biggest influences as far as becoming so interested (obsessive?) with movies. He's an inspiration to just about every film critic alive. It is probably the definitive article about Ebert and his struggles with cancer and silence. I can't recommend it enough.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Julie & Julia (2009)

I'm going to have t go with the general consensus on this one: the half of this movie dealing with Meryl Streep as Julia Childs and Sanley Tucci as her husband, Paul, in France is, to put is simply, very nice stuff. If they had just focused on these two, and their wonderful relationship from, say, their time in the O.S.S. until Julia published her first cookbook, it probably would have been wonderful. I realize it is difficult to come up with new ways to make a biopic, and going back and forth between the life of Julia Child and Julia Powell writing her blog about Julia Child might have seemed like a novel concept and it could have been. But the stuff in modern day New York is mostly just annoying. Julia Powell comes off as a self-involved narcissist, and even though she sort of admits as much, it doesn't make it that much more tolerable. And it is made even worse in comparison when flashing back to Child's story, where Tucci and Streep put on an acting class on portraying smart adults in a truly, loving, committed relationship that seems breezy and unforced. Powell's relationship with her husband is ridiculous. They get in what seems like a minor argument about her blog and...moves out. For about two days. And they needed some sort of conflict, apparently, so its treated like some sort of epic tragedy for about a minute. I can't express how annoying these characters come off. But Streep and Tucci are really great, as is a majority of the stuff in Paris. Nora Ephron needs to release a special edition DVD where you can just watch one story or another so we can skip the New York stuff.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Send This to Your Valentine: (Some Of) The Best "I Love You" Moments in Movies

I posted this somewhere else too, again. But this is just nice...

Falling Out of Love Hard

In today's AV Club Q&A (which is a great place to look on a Friday for easy (read:lazy) blog ideas) someone asked them the question "Has there ever been something in pop culture you’ve fallen hard out of love with? Example: I used to actually look forward to A Prairie Home Companion if it happened to be on the radio, and now I can’t fucking stand one second of it. I know this happens a lot with bands as tastes change and mature growing up (I did my time listening to ska), but there are other things besides music that I, for whatever no good reason, became a major anti-fanboy about: certain movies, directors, authors… —Chris Ward". They got a couple of similar questions. Its interesting because besides music, which, if you are into it, you go through a million cycles of loving stuff and then growing out of it. (I also went through my third wave ska phase). Sometimes there are things you grow out of just because you grow up and start to see them differently. The art itself doesn't change, but you do. Sometimes, if it isn't a one off thing like a movie, sometimes bands or television shows definitely can change for the worse. But things like books, authors, movies, and directors you might have liked at one point, every once in a while you go back and take a look at them and discover for better or for worse things are not the same as you once thought they were. The relationship has ended. And a few times, you happen to do a 180 and actually become an ant-fan of the thing you used to love. (I'm sure people put it better in the actual article.)

Anyhow, someone there actually stole my ready response. When I think of things I used to love, pop-culturally speaking, and have subsequently fallen way out of love with, the first movie that comes to mind is American Beauty
My feelings are pretty much the same as the guy that wrote his piece in there. I saw American Beauty at a somewhat lonely time in my life, it was the year after college and I was in graduate school, and for whatever reason trying to figure out for myself, once again in my life, who I was and what I wanted to do, it was sort of a hard time. I remember going to see American Beauty at a small theater in Hoboken, NJ after it had been out for a time because it had been getting some good buzz. Oh man, I loved it. I even loved the empty bag scene, which I find absurd now. Back then I was like, "It's so beautiful! The world is so full of beauty it makes me cry too!" Or whatever the quote was. Its just over time, maybe I have become more jaded and cynical, hey it happens, it just seems that it the movie is trying to be way more deep than it actually is. Not to mention the fact that, and this might not be strictly this particular movies' problem, the whole "cracked view of the suburban underbelly" has been done to death. Even Sam Mendes has returned to it, this time in the 60's. As recently as a couple of weeks ago I watched this again on cable, and I will admit, it is not without its funny moments and performances, but mostly what I found so amazing once, I just find annoying now.

More recently though, Napoleon Dynamite

I have to admit, that the Napoleon Dynamite's allure, for me, wore off at a lightning pace. I really liked it when I first saw it. I remember thinking at the time, again, and I should have known better since I was older, that this anti-comedy comedy was the wave of the comedic future. And that I was sorry for people that just don't get it. Maybe it was the thousands of imitators and quoters, maybe it was because it just did not hold up under repeat viewings, but this fell pretty hard down the shaft pretty quickly for me. And its just the fact that I LOVED it so much then and am now fairly indifferent about it, kind of annoyed by it now. Want to know something really odd? Its followup, Nacho LIbre I believed, and the belief has since become stronger that its funnier and a better a movie, but actually a good movie. I know I am in the extreme minority on this opinion, but something about not only its goofiness, but the music and art direction, as well as the juxtaposition of catholic and lucha libre imagery, I seriously believe it comes together to make something better than it has any right to be. I think it is and was a great leap forward for them.

Check back in a few years and see if thats still the case. You never know.

6 Insane Fan Theories That Make Great Movies Better

I am only posting this because of the James Bond idea. It makes as much sense as anything else at this point. My idea was they should have tried something like Dr. Who way back with George Lazenby, and have some super secret machine that altered the spies' appearance. Thus giving a reason (sure an insane one, but, like the man says, have you ever seen Moonraker? They have surely already done insane.) but still a reason. The code name one works just as well. Of course, there's nothing in the original Ian Fleming novels to suggest anything like that, but since we are about 20-something films deep into the Bond series then it would probably help to explain a lot, even if it happens to be just sort of something that people have come to expect as the way it is.

Of course the Ferris Bueller one is a joke started by the internet. And Matrix:Reloaded or Revolutions are not great movies at all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Movies of the 2000's

I posted this elsewhere but its too good not to share:

the films of the 2000s from Paul Proulx on Vimeo.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My 20 Favorite Miramax Movies

I realize that everyone and his (blogging) brother in the movie blogiverse has done this entry. But, just like when I started this blog, it looks like am going to be stuck up at the front desk for a while. So I thought I might add my two cents (or 20-21 cents). One thing I found interesting/amazing as that the Weinstein's first movie on which they built their inevitable empire was the this low-budget slasher, The Burning (1981) .

Starring Jason Alexander!

Anyway, so Disney finally decided to stick a fork in Miramax. But they left a pretty rich cinematic legacy, of course. Here are my twenty favorites. (Warning: there's a lot of Tarantino on here. What can you do?)

20) Bob Roberts (1992)

Pretty amazing mockumentary about a folk-singing conservative. Check out the cameo by a young Jack Black!

19) Sex, Lies, and VIdeotape (1989)

Not only put Steven Soderbergh, and to an extent, indie filmmaking on the map. But is also one of about only three really good movies that Andie Macdowell managed to be involved in.

18) The Tall Guy (1989)

I remember first seeing this in high school and being caught offguard by just how nuts this movie is. Nuts in a very very good way. Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblum are pretty amazing here-particularly in that sex scene. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the party after the opening of the musical, and in particular as the camera pans around the room and catches the writers excitedly talking about what their next project should be.

17) Heavenly Creatures (1994)

In my opinion, still Peter Jackson's best movie.

16) Amelie (2001)

This movie, for all intents and purposes, should probably annoy me. But its so beautiful and, dare I say, cute in just the right way that it avoids being annoying. Its a hard line not to cross, but this movie manages it.

15) There Will Be Blood (2007)

Tough and beautiful look at capitalism run amok . With a powerhouse, for-the-ages turn by Daniel Day Lewis.

14) No Country For Old Men (2007)

Like I said before: "Javier Bardem plays a human Predator here, a force of nature that seems like it can't be stopped, can't be killed, and plays by its own very strict set of moral guidelines. He is chasing Josh Brolin around the Southwest, all for a suitcase full of cash that Brolin happened upon. While Tommy Lee Jones stands off to the side as the older man, who is being passed by by this newer, brutal world. It is absolutely amazing to me that the Coens can followup two goofy movies like Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers with this semi-surreal tension delivery system. Its really an amazing feat what they were able to do with Cormac McCarthy's sparse source material. And it should really be shown as example of why they are masters at their craft, both in writing and the actual filming/look of the film."

13) Good Will Hunting (1997)

A sentimental favorite to be sure. But for its flaws, there is a lot of good here. I wish Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would collaborate on another script soon. Ben could even direct.

12) Trainspotting (1996)

The one that put Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor on the map. (Although their Shallow Grave the year before was good too) This was like a second slap in the face from Miramax after the success of Pulp Fiction two years earlier. Its just a crazy tour de force trying to capture the life of a junkie. The opening sequence set to "Lust For Life" is amazing.

11) The Grifters (1990)

I know I just wrote about this one, so I will just reiterate: a crazy dark, crazy twisty little neo-noir with three con people all trying to pull one over on one another.

10) Clerks (1994)

Sure the acting and production are pretty amateurish but the magic is in the writing here. Even if the enterprise comes off as clunky at times, there was some real originality, at the time, to Kevin Smith's writing. Its only when he copied himself a thousand times it would start to wear a little thin. And also, how can you not root for a film that was done as this sort of guerilla effort, maxing out credit card and the like....the production has become sort of legendary. I dunno, it has stuck with me the most. Which seems odd, I know.

9) Reservoir Dogs (1992)

We all know now that Tarantino probably took a lot of this movie from some Japanese movie we had never heard of at the time. But when this came out and I saw it in high school, it went a long way towards making me into the film nerd I have "evolved" into today. I can safely say that is the case for a lot of people my age. Tarantino caught us by surprise, and made us all want learn about the cinema he had grown up on and would keep continuing to bring to the forefront.

8) Flirting With Disaster (1996)

My First introduction to David O. Russell. One of Ben Stiller's best movies. Actually everyone here is good. Richard Jenkins being another standout. An amazing little road trip comedy, as Ben Stiller has a personal crisis and sets out to find his birht parents.

7) Jackie Brown (1997)

I feel like this movie gets completely slept on when people are talking about Tarantino films. Although that seems to be changing. I remember it did take me sometime to get into this one, but when I finally did there were a lot of rich rewards to be had. One of many is the performances by Pam Grier and Robert Forster. And that opening title sequence is incredible.

6) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Amazing swashbuckling adventure. I feel like this is another one that doesn't get the respect I think it deserves.

5) Beautiful Girls (1996)

I am a sucker for movies where, especially good movies naturally, where people return to their old home towns. If done well, it can be amazing. And in this instance, I really think it is. It has a solid ensemble cast, and a lot of laughs. And "Sweet Caroline" and "Beth" and the Afghan Whigs covering Barry White. All up in frigid upstate New York.

4) Swingers (1996)

Yeah, I know this became as annoying as Borat with every dude on earth quoting it all the kind but still-it is REALLY quotable, even the not so obvious quotes. This launched Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and Doug Liman's careers. Also interesting because it captures it very specific place and time, but doesn't feel so much dated as much as just a snapshot of a certain moment.

3) Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)

Absolutely awesome revenge/thriller/action movie etc. from Tarantino. I am not sure why, whenever he puts out a movie people want to try and pigeonhole him. Just let him keep making amazing movies from the pop culture detritus thats floating around in his head. Why try to make him like other filmmakers?

2) City Of God (2002)

Amazing crime saga set in the favelas of Rio that came sort of out of nowhere and knocked me on the side of the head. It really is pretty breaktaking.

1) Pulp Fiction (1994)

This built on Reservoir Dogs, upping the ante and then some. If Reservoir Dogs knocked us for a loop in high school, this came along and finished the job. I mean it was everything, not only the clever dialogue and pop culture references (which made being talky cool once again-but only if its this clever and interesting- a little throwback to the French New Wave) to the mysteriousness of it, to the playing with chronology, to the pastiche/homage from gangster/crime movies that Tarantino loved and grew up on-what should have been a hopeless mishmash was turned into an amazing....well, thrill ride.I could go on. But I will say, Tarantino, with this movie, really did change the game.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

R.I.P. David Brown

Sure he and his producing partner Richard Zanuck also produced the likes of The Verdict. All of them fine works, sure. But he and his family can rest comfortably with the knowledge that he was a part of the producing team that not only helped Steven Spielberg with his career, but managed to bring Jaws to the big screen. One of the absolute greatest movies ever.

David Brown dies at 93