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The old man of the boards (yeah, I remember getting sent home from school when JFK was shot).
Some best though not necessarily favorite films...
1. Schindler's List (1993)
2. Nashville (1975)
3. The Godfather (1972)
4. Breaking the Waves (1996)
5. The Wizard of OZ (1939)
6. Das Boot (1981)
7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
8. Annie Hall (1977)
9. Greed (1925)
10. Napoleon (1927)
Some favorite though not necessarily what I consider as best films...
Back to the Future
City of Lost Children
A Hard Day's Night
This is Spinal Tap
Run Lola Run
Do the Right Thing
Some of the funniest films...
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Ruthless People (1986)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Lost in America (1985)
Duck Soup (1933)
Roger & Me (1989)
Take the Money and Run (1969)
Some overlooked films (not Documentary)...
Allegro non troppo (1976) Better than Fantasia and a lot funnier.
Life Is Sweet (1990) - Bittersweet, touching film by the U.K.'s Mike Leigh
Resurrection (1980) - Brilliantly underplayed, with Ellen Burstyn as a healer
Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980) - The 'Big Chill' without the glitz
Risky Business (1983) - fun teen fantasy film with a youg Tom Cruise
Smoke (1995) - Harvey Keitel at his best
Smoke Signals (1998) - Native American buddy road film
Stunt Man, The (1980) - Mysterious happenings on the set, with Peter O'Toole as a mysterious director
Tampopo (1986) - Sexy Japanese spaghetti western with noodles
Tender Mercies (1983) - Low key Americana with Robert Duvall
Babe: Pig in the City (1998) It would have been better for this surreal, dark film, if Babe I had never been made.
Defending Your Life (1991) Albert Brooks humorous view of purgatory, with a delightful Meryl Streep
Frankenhooker (1990) Sex, dismemberment, but mostly humor
A Special Day (1977) Mastroiani and Sophia Loren alone in a war-evacuated town
High Art (1998) Ally Sheedy is excellent as a lesbian photographer, and the supporting cast is right on
Patti Rocks (1988) If you could handle the misogyny of &In the Company of Men,& this is a good companion piece
Scarecrow (1973) Pacino and Hackman excel as they travel cross country
Smash Palace (1981) Difficult film about an obsessed man and his family in New Zealand
Sweet Lorraine (1987) Low key story of a small Catskill resort, with Maureen Stapleton
Central Station (1998) Moving and unsentimental, a woman takes a motherless boy to find his father
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987) - A serious take on the life of Karen Carpenter, starring Barbie and Ken Dolls!
Films I hate that everyone loves...
Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)
The Thin Red Line
Good Will Hunting
The Blues Brothers
Like Water for Chocolate
Dead Poets Society
Bridget Jones's Diary
Silence of the Lambs
Other films I absolutely hated...
A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982)
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
Prizzi's Honor (1985)
The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)
Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Gates of Heaven (1978) - Fascinating study of two California pet cemeteries, by Errol Morris
Murderball (2005) - Intense look at the players on the U.S. Paralympic players and the people around them as they compete at the highest level
Man on Wire (2008) - incredible story of an unbelievable event
Best Boy (1979) Excellent, touching story of a 53-year old retarded man who lives with dying parents and needs to become independent
Times of Harvey Milk, The (1984) - The life of the gay San Francisco supervisor who was gunned down along with mayor Moscone by Dan White. Before Milk, there was this.
Dreams With Sharp Teeth (2008) - Documentary on writer Harlan Ellison, who is sharp-tongued and hilarious. An amazing guy who has no self-censorship button.
Throw Down Your Heart (2008) - Banjo player Bela Fleck takes his banjo to Africa to try to find its ancestral roots and to play with musicians in 5 very different locations in Africa, all the while learning about their cultures and the slave trade. The title? Tanzanians, who had never before seen the ocean, knew that if they saw the beach, they would never see home or family again. Great, joyful soundtrack.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) - What really happened? Whom do you believe?
Berkeley in the '60s (1990) - The chronology of Berkeley, from the free speech movement to the Vietnam protests
Day After Trinity, The (1980) - the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, who developed the atomic bomb and then realized its horrors
Brother's Keeper (1992) - A simpleminded man accused of murdering his brother
Malcolm X (1972) - Just a documentary on his life
Roger & Me (1989) - Michael Moore's sarcastic look at General Motors' role in creating and leaving Flint, Michigan
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999) - Story of an infuriating little man who went from designing electric chairs to being a Nazi apologist. Another great one by Errol Morris.
Baraka (1992) - Wordless study of man, his rituals throughout the world, and nature.
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991) - The surreal and horrific making of Apocalypse Now.
Image of an Assassination: A New Look at the Zapruder Film (1998) - Lets you study the tape until your head splits
Pumping Iron (1977) Behind the scenes of a bodybuilding contest, with Arnold and Lou Ferrigno
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979) - Best of Pryor.
Say Amen, Somebody (1982) - window into the lives of young and old Gospel singers
Stop Making Sense (1984) - Jonathan Demme's unusual view of a Talking Heads concert
Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) - Donald Duck talks math
Sherman's March (1986) - A filmmaker follows the path taken by General Sherman, but he and his love life become the subjects of the film.
Favorite movie characters...
1. Nigel Tufnel - This is Spinal Tap (These go to eleven)
2. Maude - Harold and Maude
3. Bridget Gregory - The Last Seduction
4. HAL9000 - 2001
5. Miette - City of Lost Children
6. Ed Gentry - Deliverance
7. Michael Corleone - The Godfather
8. Bess McNeill - Breaking the Waves
9. Lola - Run Lola Run
10. Edna McCauley - Resurrection
11. Sam Stone - Ruthless People
12. Dottie Hinson - A League of Their Own
13. Finbar McBride – The Station Agent
14. Miles Monroe - Sleeper
15. The Scarecrow - Wizard of OZ
16. Dr. Peter Venkman - Ghostbusters
17. Reggie Hammond - 48 Hrs
18. Allison Reynolds - The Breakfast Club
19. Eric Draven - The Crow
20. Pinky - Duck Soup
21. Amelie Poulain - Amelie
22. T800 – The Terminator
23. Xixo - The Gods Must Be Crazy
24. Joe Buck - Midnight Cowboy
25. Ninotchka (Nina Ivanovna Yakushova) - Ninotchka
26. Dedee Truitt - The Opposite of Sex
27. Derek Flint - Our Man Flint
28. Inigo Montoya - The Princess Bride
29. William Canfield Jr. - Steamboat Bill, Jr.
30. Suzanne Stone Maretto - To Die For
31. Terry Prescott - You Can Count On Me
32. Sonny - Dog Day Afternoon
33. Lee - Enter the Dragon
Favorite TV Shows...
1. The Sopranos
3. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
4. The Prisoner
5. Mad Men
6. The Twilight Zone
7. Star Trek TOS
8. The Dick Van Dyke Show
9. Leave It to Beaver
10. Buffalo Bill (Dabney Coleman, Geena Davis)
11. Alive From Off Center (PBS Avant Garde show)
12. Your Show of Shows
13. St. Elsewhere
14. Siskel & Ebert
15. SNL 1975-1979
17. Pardon the Interruption
18. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
19. Hill St. Blues
Favorite TV characters...
1. Tony Soprano – The Sopranos
2. Spock – Star Trek
3. Elaine Marie Benes – Seinfeld
4. Don Draper – Mad Men
5. Ed Norton – Honeymooners
6. Darlene Conner – Roseanne
7. Bugs Bunny - "The Looney Tunes Show"
8. Frank Costanza - Seinfeld
9. Ralph Kramden - Honeymooners
10. Rob Petrie – The Dick Van Dyke Show
11. Wally Cleaver – Leave It to Beaver
12. Number 6 – The Prisoner
13. Lisa Simpson – The Simpsons
14. Herbert T. Gillis – The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
15. Diane Chambers - Cheers
And the songs I love...
1. Layla (Derek & the Dominoes)
2. It's Only Love (Beatles)
3. Oliver's Army (Elvis Costello)
4. One Night in Bangkok (Murray Head)
5. Black Magic Woman (Santana)
6. I Feel Fine (Beatles)
7. Big Log (Robert Plant)
8. Feel Irie (Lucky Dube)
9. With You There to Help Me (Jethro Tull)
10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Beatles)
And yes, I have User Comments on some films
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
Keep the discussion cold here.
*or the equivalent in your country
If none of the Beatles songs move you, there's one from each solo Beatle to choose from at The End.
Raunch with a little intelligence
Superbad is like reading Playboy for the articles as well as the retouched pictures. If you like a little intelligence with your raunchy dick jokes and crotch rubbing, if you go along gleefully with completely implausible situations and hit-or-miss American Pie-ish humor, Superbad is the movie for you. The dick that had me laughing the hardest was juxtaposed with Tiananmen Square on screen, if you can believe that.
Evan (Micheal Cera) is the voice of reason that keeps the core of the film real, and he has enough chemistry with his blustery buddy Seth (Jonah Hill) to make the resolution satisfying and believable.
The girls all have personalities, which is a plus for a film like this.
The weakest parts of the film are those that include the writer, Seth Rogan, who along with Bill Hader play cops who are less competent and more broadly ridiculous than their Keystone Kop ancestors. But Fogell, a.k.a. McLovin, (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who transitions from timid and panicked in their company, keeps some of these scenes from hurting the film.
All in all, a fun time, if not a top-notch movie.
Dreamy documentary that fails to convince
Zoo is a dreamy, slow-moving documentary about those who "love" animals and the fraternity that developed to make it possible for others to do so. It tries just a little too hard to show a sympathetic, understanding and otherwise balanced view of this activity. It's almost as if this were a film assignment given to the filmmakers, i.e. "your task is to take this activity, as well as the death involved, and convince the class to empathize and sympathize with those involved." Just in case you don't get the point of view espoused by the film and the awareness it wants you to attain, it ends with the one person close enough to the animals, a female veterinarian, stating her newfound understanding of these people. The extra prod did not sway me, and as such, Zoo fails at an impossible task.
This is a film that abuses its audience
I saw this film at SXSW with the director in attendance. Quite a few people walked out, and the audience could barely muster even polite applause at the end. Of the 60 or 70 films I've seen at this festival, Frownland is among the worst.
At 106 minutes, it is at least 95 minutes too long. You get to watch the main character's failed and drawn out attempts to communicate, in extended real time. The same grimaces, hand over mouth motions, kinetic and frantically repeated words and syllables over and over and over again - WE GET THE POINT.
One site actually compares this work to early Mike Leigh. What drugs would you have to be on to make that statement? Given that Frownland is a Captain Beefheart song, maybe you'd have to be able to enjoy Trout Mask Replica on heavy rotation to appreciate this film. Unbelievably, this won a jury award at the festival. You can bet it did not win an audience award.
August the First (2007)
I had the pleasure of seeing August the First at SXSW this week. Of the 20 plus films I've seen at the festival, this has been the best. I'm still emotional about it.
This is an intense, heartbreaking family drama with an excellent script and stellar acting performances. But there's nothing over-the-top or exaggerated. Tunde's graduation party becomes the scene of a reunion, unwanted by all but Tunde, with a father who had abandoned his family 10 years earlier, moved to Nigeria, and started a new family there.
I really got to know these characters. I was particularly impressed with Joy Merriweather as Tunde's mother Rhonda, drinking to try to alleviate her pain and resentment, and by Kerisse Hutchinson as Simisola, the daughter who can't forget. Oh, and by Sean Phillips as big brother Ade and Ian Alsup as the idealistic Tunde. Oh, and by Dennis Rubin Green as the father, and by everyone else as well.
I really hope this makes it to general release and DVD.
The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006)
Just a Simple Summary to those of us who were already paying attention
For those of us who followed Lennon and the Beatles through those tumultuous years, this was a simple summary that really didn't break any ground or uncover any new information. The filmmakers were more excited to find a few pieces of lost or mislabeled footage, such as Lennon being given his green card, than to enlighten those of us who were along for the ride all along. But it was good to hear from John again, even to say "flower power didn't work, so what? You do something else." No coverage was given John's activism or lack thereof during his infamous "lost weekend." Yoko's constant presence saw to that.
But I would love for my son and his generation to see it. Much of what is going on today has gone unchallenged, and the return of the J. Edgar Hooverization of America has been obvious to those of us who were awake back then.
Intelligent film about a future without intelligence
First, let me say that although I generally appreciate Mike Judge's work, I've been merely tepid in my response to Office Space, King of the Hill, and Beavis and Butthead. I generally prefer more intelligent comedy, and therein lies the irony with respect to Idiocracy.
In a future world where the embodiment of Beavis and Butthead's views, basest instincts, and intellectual capacities are the framework of a chaotic, messy, semi-Mad Max semi-Blade Runner society, where every trailer-trash guy's fantasy becomes reality, a man with even average intelligence is threatening and accused of talking gay, and the mob mentality takes over. And this world is also incredibly funny.
Yes, it's obvious that Carl's Jr., Starbucks, Costco and Fuddruckers executives will be horrified at the twisted values given their products in the year 2505.
There were some missed opportunities with the film, and the relationship between the time travelers - the other being an average intelligence woman who's worried about her boyfriend's (pimp's) retribution - could have been stronger; the chemistry is there. And there don't seem to be too many women in the future.
I did leave with a grin on my face, but the experience is a bit better than the memories. Thus, it's my kind of popcorn film, and it will be fun to revisit on video. Recommended! FYI stay through the credits for an extra scene.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)
Neil Young meets Stop Making Sense
At South By Southwest today, I saw the excellent new Jonathan Demme film on Neil Young performing in Nashville, Neil Young: Heart of Gold. Good to see the Demme style applied to a great artist. Neil had just gotten over his aneurysm surgery and the loss of his father, so it was an emotional show. It's worth it to see it on the big screen.
As in Stop Making Sense, there were no shots of the audience. When asked about that in Q & A, Demme said "If there isn't one thing up on stage more interesting than the audience, you shouldn't be up there performing." Piece of trivia: When Neil first became a rich hippie, he bought a large ranch that he still has. An old caretaker took him by Jeep around the property and they came to an overlook. The man asked "How can a young guy like you afford a place like this?" Neil wrote Old Man for him.
Forgiving the Franklins (2006)
This film has stayed with me
As I've hopped from film to film at the SXSW Film Festival, this film from the opening night has stayed with me. Curious, because it is a dark comedy with quite an absurdist premise.
A family of hyper-stressed fundamentalists in a small community of like minds is changed by an auto accident. Three of the four have the same near-death experience in which they are fully opened, as each receives a reversal of the concept of original sin (I won't spoil this scene with the specifics). The fourth, a middle school cheerleader, is not just the only one physically hurt, but also is unchanged and is now witness to what has become her crazy, apparently spiritually bankrupt, family. Every new moment brings a new outrageousness as they have become innocently naked and frank in every way, horrifying her and then the community.
Forgiving the Franklins has the most beautiful sexual awaking scene between a husband and wife that I have ever seen, to the Sarah Brightman song "Deliver Me," a song that can now bring tears to my eyes.
The cast is terrific. Robertson Dean as the dad, Vince Pavia as the son and Aviva as the cheerleader daughter are excellent, Mari Blackwell plays Peggy, the mom's questioning neighbor and best friend perfectly, a much more nuanced, fleshed out, real character than what might have been (everyone in middle America knows a Peggy). And Theresa Willis positively glows as Betty, the mom. There are lots of risks taken by the actors playing the three changed characters, and these risks pay off.
I hope this film gets a wide release - if so, I plan to see it again.
Very accurate review at: http://www.fosteronfilm.com/phil/forgiving.htm
Gretchen is an attempt at a farce-based dark comedy about a dorky, stuttering, clumsy high school student who is having an extremely difficult time communicating, to say the least. Courtney Davis looks about 10 years too old for the part of Gretchen, who acts about 8 years old, keeps falling for grubby long-haired guys who look like Meat Loaf, are apparently mentally retarded, and who will assuredly ultimately betray her ("do you know what a pattern is, Gretchen?). And then there's dad.
It's The Jerk meets Benny and Joon, with a only a touch of Welcome to the Dollhouse. And it is slow.
Many in the audience found it funny, but many in the audience worked on the film or knew the filmmakers. When a big cheer goes up for the key grip credit, you haven't exactly been hearing an accurate audience reaction to a film.
By the way, I really liked Punch Drunk Love (see other User comment).
What Sarah says and how she presents it differ
I saw this film on Christmas Day. It was pretty obvious that the audience was just a wee bit, shall we say, Jewish??? This definitely got her some points - we were all comfortable laughing and not worried about how it would go over with the goyim.
There is a bit in the film involving her understudy, which applies well to what has been written in reviews here. Those who 'get' Sarah and her humor don't care to hear someone else deliver the lines. So when you see quoted material in reviews here that ask 'now how is that funny?' I submit that they don't know the difference between Sarah Silverman and the understudy. I can't tell you why it's funny, but it's her personality that sells the jokes.
Actually, I forgot virtually all the lines and jokes the instant the movie ended. And that's not a bad thing - the film 'right-brained' me. It wasn't perfect, missed at times, and I was a bit tired going in. But I left with a big smile on my face and those others who analyze the words didn't.
FYI - If you like this film, catch Sarah in The Aristocrats.