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Saved by the Bell (1989)
My 10 favorite episodes
SBTB is classic TV. Don't be surprised when it shows up at Nick at Nite in a few years. That being said, here are my 10 favorite episodes:
10. Zack becomes Principal and has to defend the football team when Kelly, who is a teacher for a week, fails them in history.
9. Kelly's little sister falls for Zack and Zack acts like a nerd in order to let her down easy.
8. The 2 parter where Jesse's dad gets married and they all go to a beach resort somewhere...
7. The most heartbreaking episode yet where Kelly dumps Zack for her boss Jeff at the dance where they are dressed up as Romeo and Juliet.
6. Kelly and Zack, Lisa and Screech, and Jesse and Slater become married in a class project. Lisa and Screech get divorced because she is allergic to him.
5. Screech tutors Kelly and falls hard for her. This one contains the classic line where Screech calls Mr. Belding a melonhead.
4. Zack uses subliminal messages to get Kelly to ask him to the dance and to have Mr. Belding lessen his punishmesnt. "Zack Morris is a good kid. Zack Morris is a blond Tom Cruise." Indeed.
3. Zack and the gang get drunk at a toga party and smash up Lisa's car.
2. Zack and the gang form Zack Attack and their career rise and fall is narrated by Casey Kasem.
1. Jesse takes caffeine pills in order to study for math and to rehearse for the dance act. This is a FANTASTIC episode. "I'm so excited, I'm so excited, I'm so.... SCARED!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Almost Famous (2000)
Best of the year
"Almost Famous" is a simple movie. It's not about explosions or flashy action scenes. It's not concerned with how "hip" it is and it doesn't exist to capitalize on any given trend. This movie is about real people, and that's what makes it so good.
The story is an old one, about a young boy who goes on a journey and learns about himself and about life. It's almost a modern day "Huckleberry Finn," but this movie does not rely on cliches.
The characters are all three dimensional people that do not exist solely to move the plot along, nor are they given long speeches to explain the "point" of the movie. The director Cameron Crowe lets the movie speak for itself. All the performances are great. We can see why William loves Penny, yet we can see how Penny is destroying herself. Kate Hudson does a great job with a great character who brings to mind a combination of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and her own mother, Goldie Hawn. Patrick Fugit, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, and Billy Crudup are all great as well, but Hudson is the real find here. This is the fourth movie that Crowe has directed. He hasn't made a bad one yet, but "Almost Famous" is his best. Crowe always makes the characters real and believable and pays attention to the details lurking around edges of the movie. The stories he writes never follow the conventional formula. He always gets great performances from his actors, just look at John Cusack in "Say Anything" and Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire." As long as he keeps making movies, I will go to see them.
Princess Mononoke is a classic of epic proportions. Unlike any animated film I have ever seen, "Princess Mononoke" is truly amazing. The characters are real, the storyline is complex and the visuals are great. Usually we go to the movies to see another world and this film takes us there. The only live action film I would even dare compare it to would be "Lawrence of Arabia." If you are a fan of anime or of fantasy, I would recommend this movie.
Annie Hall (1977)
A wonderfully modern romance
Woody Allen's masterpiece will always be "Annie Hall." What is most remarkable today about this film is the way Allen presents it. It's a movie about a relationship. But rather than taking a linear approach, Allen plays with time. We see the middle, the begining, and the end. And not always in that order. Allen also breaks the fourth wall a lot and has many dream sequences and asides which add to the complexity of the characters. This is a highly autobiographical film and Allen pulls no punches. This movie is not about romance in the way that "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is. Rather, "Annie Hall" is a deconstruction of a romance. At times it is funny and heartbreaking and always classic. "Love fades," indeed.
Forget about the blues tonight!
"Xanadu" is one of the worst, yet most enjoyable movies ever made. The plot makes little sense, yet the movie is so crammed with stuff that you can't help watching it. There are ridicously bad musical numbers, pre-ILM effects, an animated sequence, all those blinding colors, and of course ROLLER SKATES! This movie is one of the worst movies ever made, but it is definitly enjoyable for kids of all ages. I wish they made more movies like "Xanadu."
This was supposed to end the Friday series once an...
This was supposed to end the Friday series once and for all. Instead, this one made more money than they predicted and they kept on making sequels. However, this is the final chapter for the series for a few reasons. Jason isn't dead until this one. At least, that's my opinion. In this one, he's still sort of human and bleeds from time to time. This is also the last of the series to look like it was shot by a home movie camera in the 70's. But, hey, isn't that part of the charm of these movies?
The movie starts off pretty cool, with a recap of the Jason legend and flashbacks from previous movies. The movie starts off immediately after Friday 3 ends. Jason's body is taken to the morgue where he isn't really dead and lots of people die. Jason makes his way back to Crystal Lake. Twelve years old Tommy and virginal teen Trish live on Crystal Lake with their mother. (Don't they get bored out there though? To me Crystal Lake has always looked boring, not to mention the fact that their phones probably don't work.) Anyway, a bunch of teens are vacationing next door and Jason has people to slaughter! Let the body count begin! Oh yeah, there's also this hunter who is out to kill Jason for killing his sister. Guess what happens to him? Tommy and Trish are left to live and Tommy shaves his head trying to look like young Jason hoping that Jason will think that Tommy is him (or something) and that way Tommy can kill Jason. Jason is really dead in this one and Tommy winds up a little crazy. This one is more of the same but it's definitely an improvement on Part 3. For one thing, there are not zero, not one, but TWO, count them TWO real actors in this movie. Corey Feldman (from the classic `Goonies' and the even classicker `Stand By Me') plays young Tommy, a kid obsessed with video games and horror movies. Let's not forget Crispin Glover (George McFly from the `Back To The Future' series and also `River's Edge', `Wild At Heart' and other weird movies) as `Jimbo.' Corey and Crispin alone make the movie worthwhile. Crispin's dancing is just so bad it has to be seen to be believed. When Corey goes psycho and starts hacking Jason to pieces, it's really cool. I have no idea what sets him off, but boy is he one pissed pre-teen! It's really a shame Corey wasn't in any of the sequels (not counting his cameo in A New Beginning).
My Favorite Death: Corkscrew Through Crispin Glover Grade: B
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
So that's why goalies wear masks!
My least favorite of the series, this one is important for two reasons. One: This is the one where Jason gets his mask. In Part 2 he wore a bag over his head making him look not unlike the Elephant Man. Two: This one was filmed in 3-D and it shows.
There's lots of killing with little gore this time and no nudity. This is the first flick that we actually see Jason die in. Oh yeah and mommy makes a special reappearance from the lake in a scene that rips off the ending of the first movie. Jason must be such a loving son to reattach his mommy's head to her body! Why didn't she come back in Part IV to do the killings? Argh!
Basically, this is a re-tread over familiar territory except that it's just a bunch of teens going on vacation rather than opening a summer camp. But Jason still kills them all. Except for the biker kids and a few of the deaths, I found this one really dull. There's nothing particularly BAD about it, it's just nothing special.
My Favorite Death: Pitchfork Through Fox, The Punk Biker Girl
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
What happened to Paul?
The first of the sequels starts off with Jason hunting down and killing Alice, the plucky virginal heroine from the first movie. He even shoves his mother's head in her fridge to scare her! Pretty gross, huh? So now that they've killed everyone from the first movie, the writers decide to jump ahead five years in time and introduce a whole new group of counselors who drink, do drugs, have sex, and ignore the legend of Camp Blood.
More of a remake than a sequel since the plot is virtually identical to the first. Young teens get slaughtered by crazed killer. This one differs in that Jason is the killer this time and not his mother. Presumably Jason is back from the dead to avenge his mother's death. But how then did Jason grow from a twelve year old boy to a twenty five year old man in 5 years? And wasn't he dead in the first place? Ignore the silly questions and you can enjoy this movie. It's every bit as fun as the first one with the typically dated styles of clothing and the cheap quality of film stock. But I like to ask questions and I always wondered why Jason's mother never came back from the grave too. I mean, if Jason can, why can't she? Also, isn't there any other place besides Crystal Lake to open up a summer camp? And why does Jason keep mommy's head? It shows up in this movie almost as much as naked teenagers! But why quibble?
The most interesting thing about this movie is that Jason is portrayed as more of a wild animal, almost misunderstood. In the later films, he is just an unrelenting killer. In this one, Jason's getting revenge for his mother's death and he seems more like a confused kid than the psycho we are more familiar with.
There are some undeniably cool moments in this one like the double impaling and the death of the handicapped kid. Even though it's cheesy at the end when Ginny uses her child psychology against Jason, it's funny in that oh so special unintentional kind of way. The funniest thing about this movie though is that when the handicapped kid goes missing, where does everyone look for him? That's right, UPSTAIRS! Now how would someone in a wheelchair get up the stairs? Little things like that make my day.
One thing I did not like about this movie is the ending. One minute Jason lunges toward Ginny and then the camera cuts to Ginny being taken to the hospital. What happened in between? I guess there were some things that Friday the 13th fans just weren't meant to know...
My Favorite Death: Double Impaling With Spear
Playing by Heart (1998)
Good, but not great
Talking about love is like dancing about architecture," claims Angelina Jolie as Joan in Playing By Heart. An ensemble romance that should at least be notable for bringing together such a large and diverse cast, Playing By Heart is an enjoyable romantic tale of eleven people in Los Angeles whose lives are interconnected.
Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands play the oldest couple. Dealing with old age, Gena discovers that Sean considered having an affair during their 40 years of marriage. Learning to deal with this 25 years later, Rowlands and Connery are very good as a couple going through changes late in life. Connery is as dashing as ever, and him and Rowlands seem they have been together for 40 years. Their story is convincing and refreshing.
Keenan (Ryan Phillippe) and Joan (Angelina Jolie) are the youngest couple, two club kids looking for companionship in a complex world that Connery and Rowlands had never conceived of. Their story is as engaging and believable as that of Hannah and Paul. Jolie is the real star of this movie. No matter how composed she makes Joan out to be, we can always see her insecurities lurking just beneath the surface. Phillippe has little to do but bounce off of Jolie's tour-de-force, but he does it admirably and they make a sexy, believable young couple.
John Stewart and Gillian Anderson are also very good. She is a lonely theater director and he is a lonely architect. They have a natural unforced chemistry that you wouldn't expect from these two very different television personalities. Although their relationship in the script seems ill-conceived, their performances almost make up for it.
Madeline Stowe and Anthony Edwards are the most unappealing and ridiculous couple in the movie. As a couple cheating on their respective spouses, they have secret rendezvous in a hotel room almost every night from what it would seem. We never know the specifics of anything which is amusing at first, but becomes tired by the end of the film, as do the performances of Edwards and Stowe.
Ellen Burstyn and Jay Mohr play a mother and son. Mark is dying of AIDS and his mother rushes to his bedside. Mark and become very close before he dies. Although Burstyn and Mohr are good their story gets little screen time and thus doesn't feel as important as it should be.
Finally, Dennis Quaid is a man who spends his evenings in bars telling fantastical stories to anyone who will listen. Why does he do this? I can't give away the film, but the answer isn't truly satisfying, although Quaid gives a very good performance.
The stories all manage to come together in the end in a way that's clever and satisfying. While not the best movie, Playing By Heart has its heart in the right places and manages to have some keen insights into love and relationships.
Varsity Blues (1999)
A mish mash of cliches, Varsity Blues is a complete loser. Even without MTV Productions on it, you could still tell the network's particiaption a mile away. All the cliches from sports movies to teenage comedies are thrown in along with some new ones that will most likely pop up in similar movies by the end of the year.
Varsity Blues is the most generic, paint-by-numbers film of the early year. In West Canaan, Texas; where high school football is religion. Coach Bud Kilmer pushes his athletes to their limits and their parents aren't much better. When star quarterback Lance Harbor (studly Paul Walker who should become a star as soon as he gets a lead role) is injured, second string bookworm Jonathan Moxon (James Van Der Beek in a performance that belongs in a Junior High School play) steps in to take his place. The problem? Moxon doesn't play by Kilmer's rules and really doesn't care much about football. Will the team win? Do you really care?
Like most movies these days, Varsity Blues tries to be about everything at once. Is it a raunchy teenage sex comedy? Well, sometimes. Does it try to show how High School coaches exploit their players for their own gain? Well, sort of. Is it about how it's OK to rebel and be true to yourself? Um, well, kind of. Does it succeed on any of these levels? Not at all.
If you want to go see a movie that has the fine Jon Voight chewing up scenery then leaving without a trace, fine. If you haven't figured out what happens at the end, you probably should see the movie. I will be at home watching The Bad News Bears which did the story first and better.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
Great, campy fun.
Hollywood always loves to update classic and even not-to-so classic stories. Remakes of movies as vastly different as The Parent Trap and Psycho have all hit the big screen in the past year. Shakespeare and Dickens have even been updated to modern times in movies like West Side Story, 1996's Romeo + Juliet, and 1997's Great Epectations. In fact, later this year, a teenage version of Taming the Shrew is forthcoming with a name change to Ten Things I Hate About You. Maybe updating the classics for teens is way to make reading fun again? Heck, even Clueless was an updating of Jane Austen's Emma. Was it any real surprise then that Hollywood would attempt an update of the classic French novel Les Liasons Dangereuse? Previously filmed three times, Les Liasons Dangereuse is a sinister story of two manipulative French aristocrats. To update these two characters as two Manhattan prep school students might seem far fetched, but it's an premise to swallow before long.
Cruel Intentions is great campy fun. It doesn't really add anything new to the tale of Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) and Catherine Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), but does it really need to?The story speaks for itself and despite a few additions (such as Valmont attempting to blackmail a closeted football star), it remains surprisingly true to the original.
True, the story is so sinister that at times it takes itself too seriously, but that's aprt of its fun. Like Valley of the Dolls and Mommie Dearest before it, Cruel Intentions is destined to become a camp classic. The story, the dialogue, and the acting are all so over the top, you can't help but resist the film.
As Valmont, Ryan Phillippe is a charmingly sinister pretty boy. You can't trust anything he says, but he's totally charismatic while saying it. Phillippe has the makings of a big star. He does a complete turnaround from his usually sweet, sensitive characters (White Squall, Playing By Heart, Little Boy Blue) and dumb (54, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Homegrown). His Valmont is calculating, intelligent, intensely charming, and utterly reprehensible all at once. With that face and that wardrobe, Phillippe can't fail.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Catherine is equally good, matching Phillippe's insidiousness. She's given many of the movie's best lines. When giving advice to Cecile, the budding virgin Catherine says, "Sleep with as many people as people as you can." Gellar is cruel and calculating, a refreshing change from her role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Gellar shines on TV but on the big screen she's never come across quite as well, until now.
As good as Phillippe and Gellar are, the movie is almost stolen from them by the talented young Selma Blair. As Cecile, the gawky virgin, Blair walks the thin line between funny and realistic and does a great job. She has great likability and could be the next Sandra Bullock. Too bad Reese Witherspoon isn't nearly as good. As Annette, who is saving herself until marriage, Ms. Witherspoon comes off the same as she does in every movie: annoying. Why Valmont falls in love with her is a mystery in this version.
A good cast, hysterical dialogue, and a classic story make Cruel Intentions an undeniable camps classic. Here's to more updates of classic stories that are as campy, as ridiculous, and as much fun as this one.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
One of the best of 1998 and deserving of that Oscar!
Every so often a movie comes along that is literate, intelligent, and has magic and charm to spare. Movies like these affirm our belief that film is a terrific art form. Shakespeare In Love is one such movie.
The movie chronicles Shakespeare's writer's block while trying to write a play entitled Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter. In desperate need of a muse, Shakespeare finds one in the beautiful noblewoman Viola de Lesseps who has a desire to be an actor at a time when women are forbidden from performing. Shakespeare and Viola fall in love thus inspiring Romeo and Juliet.
As Shakespeare, Joseph Fiennes steps out of his brother Ralph's shadow and proves what a dashing and charismatic leading man he can be. Fiennes has a Peter O'Toole quality about him and should become a big star. While his portrayal may be nothing like Shakespeare, he makes us believe in romance Shakespeare's woes.
Gwyneth Paltrow is stunning as Viola de Lesseps. She throws herself into the part and handles an English accent very well as she did in Sliding Doors and Emma. Viola is the heart and soul of the movie, she is the reason for Romeo and Juliet's existence and Paltrow truly makes us believe in romance.
The supporting cast is all terrific. Geoffrey Rush is amusing as the theater owner Henslowe. Ben Affleck is truly surprising a hammy actor, with good material, Affleck is quite a capable actor. Judi Dench and Queen Elizabeth and Rupert Everett as Christopher Marlowe round out the cast with fine performances.
The story is quite entertaining. Screenwriters invest the script with a healthy portion of Romeo and Juliet's dialogue and Shakespeare's sonnets that only make the movie more amusing. The story of Romeo and Juliet is familiar to us all, and the movie parallels the story in surprising and charming ways.
The most ingenious aspect of the movie is how elements of Shakespeare's plays have become so ingrained in our movies, television, and theater, even though they were cliches in Shakespeare's time. This movie actually manages to breathe life into all the old cliches thanks to a wonderful exuberance and a fantastic cast.
An intelligent movie that actually rewards the audience for knowing something about Shakespeare, Shakespeare In Love is a treat from start to finish. It makes literacy look sexy and makes sexiness look mature, a feat most movies only hope to accomplish Grade:A+
The Opposite of Sex (1998)
Best movie of 1998
"I don't have a heart of gold and I don't grow one later on. But relax. There are lots of nicer people coming up--we call them losers," begins Christina Ricci's opening monologue in this wonderful film written and directed by Don Roos. Ricci plays Deedee Truitt, a white trash 16 year old from Crevecoure, Louisiana ("which is, like, French for "f**k tart"). After her stepfather dies, Deedee runs away from home and the fun really begins.
The Opposite of Sex takes a lot of twists and turns as Deedee moves in with her older half-brother and goes about ruining the lives of him and his friends. First, Deedee seduces her brother's lover and convinces him that he's the father of her child ("Is it mine?" he asks. "See, only straight boys ask that," is her reply). Seeing this as his chance at a "normal" life, Matt (Ivan Sergei) leaves Bill (Martin Donovan) and travels with Deedee to Los Angeles.
Once they leave, Bill discovers they stole $5,000 from his safety deposit box. And to add salt to Bill's wounds, Matt's other lover Jason (Johnny Galecki) demands to know where Matt is or he will tell the police that we was molested by Bill when he was a student at Bill's school.
This set-up is the start of a wonderful comedy, sort of "There's Something About Mary" for adults. It's smartly written, it has some of the best dialogue since Tarantino's early work. The characters are all three dimensional and are portrayed terrifically.
In her first "grown-up" role, Ricci really shines, but Martin Donovan is equally good. Lisa Kudrow, however, quietly walks away with the movie. She has the best lines and the best comic timing. Playing Lucia, a bitter spinster schoolteacher is light years away from her character on Friends, but just as hysterical. Ivan Sergei plays dumb and cute rather well but he delivers the movie's most important speech.
The Opposite of Sex is a truly wonderful movie. It's like a tawdry melodrama from the 1950's that's actually about something. The Opposite of Sex shows that we are all looking for love in one form or another and tries to make sense of how sex fits into the equation. "What's the point of sleeping with you, Lucia, if it doesn't get your attention? Say the purpose of sex isn't procreation or recreation. Say it's concentration. Say it makes you focus on the person you're sleeping with, 'cause there's just too many other people in the world. It's like a biological highlighter," Lyle Lovett's character says to Kudrow. A smart, adult, incisive look at love and relationships in the 1990's, The Opposite of Sex gets my vote for the best film of 1998 so far.
Susan Sarandon is one of the finest actresses working today. Why then, does she need to appear in an old fashioned manipulative tear jerker like Stepmom? I wish I knew.
The sad thing is, Stepmom could easily have been a better movie. It takes a common problem facing many women today that Hollywood has never touched on: that of being a stepmother. The problem arises when the movie wants to be about the real mother almost as much and eventually much more. Julia Roberts, one of our most overrated actresses, starts out the film trying to deal with being a stepmother to her new boyfriend's (Ed Harris) two young children Anna (Jena Malone) and Ben (). The movie shows her battles with 's icy ex-wife and uber-mom Jackie (Susan Sarandon).
When it comes to being a mother, Jackie can do no wrong. She lives in a house that Martha Stewart would envy, has her children's schedules memorized and carries three copies of emergency phone numbers. It's actually scary. Sarandon is the perfect mom, never a hair out of place, never an untucked shirt. Roberts is a terrific photographer, although she only seems to work for 20 minutes a day. When will movies get realistic? Sure, we like to see people who are very stable, but Stepmom takes everything to the realm of fantasy. Even Ed Harris only appears when it seems necessary. His role is little more than a walk-on.
Halfway through this picture perfect battle between Jackie and Julia, we learn that Jackie has cancer and the movie veers straight into tear jerker territory. A story about two women being mothers to the same family would have made a movie all its own as would a film about a mother dying who passes on her children to her ex-husband's new wife. But no, Hollywood wants us to have it both ways and what we get is two incomplete and unsatisfying halves that never quite come together. The only redeeming quality in this movie is the children who are played realistically. Without them, there wouldn't have been a story anyway. Full of annoying scenes where the characters always seem about to tear up, Stepmom is poor excuse for entertainment and a disappointment from the great Susan Sarandon.
Movement is key
I love Trainspotting because of the way it attacks your sense and plays with the conventions of moviemaking. This movie flows fast and furious from beginning to end with a killer soundtrack that perfectly compliments the movie. Though it's about drug addiction, I don't think Trainspotting glorifies the use of heroin at all. True, it may paint a more realistic picture, but it does show you the horrors of withdrawal. Trainspotting is so vibrant, so alive, that even when the Scottish accents are a bit hard to understand, you still get a sense of what's going on. The dialogue is hysterical at times and the way the Irvine Welsh's novel was adopted for the screen was well done, in my opinion. Trainspotting assaults you from beginning to end with non-stop images, intriguing characters, and some great lines.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
. This road will never end. It probably goes all around the world.
This movie isn't about being, or even about being a hustler. "My Own Private Idaho" is about finding a home. In his finest performance, River Phoenix plays Mike, a narcoleptic street hustler with false memories of a terrific childhood. Mike wants to find his mother and family, but how or why he left them is never discussed. This is a movie that shows life at the lowest rung, and is very similar to Kerouac's "On the Road" and especially John Rechy's "City of Night." (In fact the line about becoming a fairy is straight from "City of Night"). Mike and Scott (Keanu Reeves) are both male prostitutes in Oregon. Why either of them have drifted into this profession is anyone's guess. Scott is clearly not gay, but Mike might be and their relationship is what holds the movie together. The film works on many levels, but does have its flaws. It's faux-Shakespearen scenes make the film drag in the middle. Van Sant directed the movie like a dream, which is what Mike's life basically is.
This is a haunting and very sad tale about friendship and finding a home. The performances, especially Phoenix and Udo Kier and Van Sant's dream-like direction are what you remember. "My Own Private Idaho" may be a flawed film, but in my opinion, it is one of the very best of the '90's.
Paris Is Burning (1990)
Joyous, yet heartbreaking
"Paris Is Burning" is one of the best documentaries ever in that it perfectly captures a world that exists within our own and makes it seem totally alien to us. While I am not unfamiliar with drag queens and New York City (I am a young gay man who was raised an hour from New York City in suburban New Jersey), this movie's take on drag balls in the 80's is very eye opening. Much of what have become standard gay phrases and actions are explained here, such as "reading" and "voguing." Even the "houses" are explained. But what makes this movie memorable are the people. Drag queens are all about attitude and flamboyance, but this movie takes us behind that to the sorrow and desperation and the need to be accepted, by family, by society, and by our peers. This is a very important "queer" film that says a lot about gay society in America. For a challenge, watch this on a Double Feature with "Wigstock", a documentary about the (formerly) annual Drag Festival in New York City.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
The funniest movie ever made?
One of the all time great screen comedies, Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon at their best. Billy Wilder, one of the all time great directors, co-wrote and directed this fantastic movie.
Set in 1929, Lemmon and Curtis are out of work musicians who witness the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Fleeing for their lives, they disguise themselves as female musicians in order to get to Florida and away from the mob. This is where the fun begins.
Renamed "Daphne" and "Josephine" they try their best to keep their secret. But when "Josephine"(Curtis) meets sexy ukulele player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) you know he's going to blow his cover somehow. While Curtis tries to woo Monroe by pretending to be her dream man as she has told him, Lemmon is courted by Osgood Fielding (Joe E. Brown). Curtis adapts a Cary Grant accent and pretends to be frigid in the movie's funniest scenes. Lemmon seems to forget he's a boy and has so much fun with Fielding and adores the things he buys him. Between the cases of mistaken and pretend identities, the mobsters come to Florida for their Opera Lovers Meeting. It all winds up with a hilarious ending.
This movie is a gem from start to finish. Curtis, Monroe, and Brown are great in their parts. Monroe brings a funny and sexy vulnerability to Sugar and Curtis is great with his performance as "Josephine" and the stuffy millionaire who talks just like Cary Grant. Lemmon really steals the movie here. He invests Daphne with such enthusiasm that we can understand why he's falling for Osgood. He's having way too much fun and it's great to watch him. This is a true classic from start to finish. It's recommended for anyone who likes to laugh.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Where troubles melt like lemon drops...
Ever since I was a little kid, I remember The Wizard of Oz being my favorite movie. I always wanted to go "over the rainbow" and have exciting adventures, what kid wouldn't? This movie grips you as a kid with its fantasy and remains in your mind as an adult. As an adult (or whatever ;)), I still love this movie. It's a great movie with good songs, neat-o characters, and that simple message that "There's no place like home." From the beginning, the movie takes a hold on you and never lets go. It never stops moving until Dororthy gets back to Kansas and find out that "it's only a dream." For me, the best movies are those you remember throughout your life, no matter where you are or what you're doing. Also, I think a good movie should keep your interest from beginning to end. For me, The Wizard of Oz succeeds at both of these. It makes you laugh, cry, all that stuff. It's like visiting an old friend you haven't seen in a while and I think that's what kind of feeling you should get from your favorite movie.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Just saw the preview
I just saw the preview for this movie before South Park: BIgger, Longer, & Uncut. It looks great! As soon as I saw the words "A Tim Burton Film", I knew it would be good. Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors, he has yet to make a truly BAD film. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow makes a perfect match with Burton's macabre style. The cast looks great too. Johnny Depp, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Walken, Christina RIcci, and Christopher Lee are all great actors. I'll be really surprised if Tim screws this one up. I can't wait until Thanksgiving!
What a great title!
Now, this is more like it! By far, the best in the series. Even if the J-man isn't in it that much, a little Jason goes a long way, right? This one actually has a PLOT for a change and is great fun to watch. I mean sure it ignores some elements of previous films, but this movie seems to take place in its own quaint little universe and if you put your brain in neutral, it's a good story that starts up and doesn't stop right up until the end.
Imagine! Characters you can actually like and care about in a Friday the 13th movie! This one boasts better acting than most. Steven (21 Jump Street, X-Files) Williams seems to be having a blast playing famous bounty hunter Creighton Duke. Erin (remember her from Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons?) Gray is nowhere near as good. I can't decide whether she's underacting or just making her character seem really terrified. It's fun to guess though!
Anyway, here's the plot rundown. It seems that the FBI has finally gone after Jason and ambush him in a huge blowout! But you know Jason's not dead because it's only the beginning of the film and because Duke says "I don't think so." Apparently Duke seems to know more about Jason than the average human being. How does he know? I have no idea how he learned. Why can't he stop Jason on his own? Well, you'll see.
Jason's remains are taken to a federal morgue where the autopsy reveals that his heart is larger than normal and is filled with black viscous liquid and it's still beating! It turns out that Jason's heart can possess people. Once people eat his heart, Jason becomes "reborn" inside that person. Jason can only inhabit one body for a short period of time. He can only be truly reborn through a Voorhees woman. Yeah, I know this makes no sense, but it's a neat idea, and the movie is so fast paced that you don't stop to ask questions while it's happening.
Jason and Duke both make their way to Crystal Lake to see Jason's sister Diana. Apparently Diana doesn't know about the Voorhees curse. But according to the first movie Diana shouldn't even exist as Mrs. Voorhees says that Jason was an only child. It turns out the only way for Jason to die is at the hands of a Voorhees with a special knife. Got all that?
The rest of the movie involves massive carnage, Jason jumping a few bodies, lots of gore, and a cute little creature called the Hellbaby which is Jason's true form, or something.
This movie moves fast. It also has orginiality and wit lacking from the other Friday flicks. There is also some genuine suspense that the series has seriously lacked since Part 2. I particulary liked the line about going to Camp Crystal Lake to "smoke a little dope, have a little pre-marital sex, and get slaughtered."
Some of the things to look out for in this movie: The Necronomicon from the Evil Dead series in the Voorhees house, the crate in the basement of the Voorhees house is from Creepshow, and of course Freddy's glove at the very end. I don't know about you but I'm looking forward to Freddy vs. Jason a whole lot!
All in all, this is a great horror flick. It's a great way for the Friday the 13th series to end.
My Favorite Death: Girl Chopped In Half While Topping Her Boyfriend
Friday the 13th (1980)
Strip monopoly, anyone?
This is the one that started it all. True, John Carpenter's Halloween came out two years before and established the slasher movie, but blame Friday the 13th and its sequels for creating the 80's horror flick. Gore, gore, teenage sex, gore, and little suspense. I love the Friday the 13th series in a really twisted way. There's just something fun about watching obnoxious teens played by terrible 30 year old actors getting killed one by one. they're tacky, trashy, mindless entertainment and they are always fun to watch with a group of friends, unlike say, Schindler's List.
The first of the Friday the 13ths is not my personal favorite, but it has some good points. First, it establishes the tone for the whole series and introduces the Jason Voorhees legend. Secondly, it has gore and mindless killings galore. And third, it's fun to watch.
In case you don't know the plot, here's a rundown. On Friday the 13th in 1958 at Camp Crystal Lake two camp counselors are stabbed to death just as they are about to have sex. Fast forward to the present day (actually 1979) and it's June, Friday the 13th. Camp Crystal Lake is about to reopen despite the rumors that there's a death curse and the warnings of the town crazy, Ralph. So a bunch of counselors is helping getting the camp ready and then the power goes out on a rainy night and guess what happens? Yeah, the counselors are all killed one by one except for the smart virgin, Alice. But who's killing everyone? And why? Enter Mrs. Voorhees who is there to help Alice or so she claims. When a character is introduced in the last 20 minutes of a horror movie, they are either the murderer or a police officer trying to set things right. Since Mrs. Voorhees is not a law enforcement officer, guess which one she is? So anyway, Mrs. Voorhees relates to Alice the story of Jason. Apparently, Jason was at Camp Crystal Lake in 1957 a young happy boy swimming. He drowned because two camp counselors were too busy making love to pay attention. Mrs. Voorhees was the cook when this took place and is now taking revenge but she thinks she's Jason and talks in his voice. It's kind of like Psycho in reverse. So Mrs. Voorhees avenges her son's death by killing every camp counselor and anyone who wants to re-open the camp simply because she lost her only child (who as we later learn, isn't her only child, but I digress).
What I love about this movie is the cheesy film stock. They didn't use any lighting for this movie and you can tell. That's only part of its corny charm. It's also neat to see Kevin Bacon before he was famous. He's always fun to watch especially when he's talking to the cop who thinks he's been smoking pot. This movie pretty much sets up all the slasher movie clichés: horny, stupid teenagers; clueless, disbelieving police officers; psycho killers; teens smoking pot; GORE!; and the townspeople who always try to warn the innocent teens.
I love Crazy Ralph in particular because the actor hams it up so much. After Ralph leaves the flick, we get a lot of routine killings. The movie doesn't really pick up until the end when Mrs. Voorhees shows up and all is explained. The fight between her and Alice is the stuff corny horror movies are made of. Though not the best of the Friday series in my opinion, it's definitely better than a lot of the other "special day" slasher flicks of the 80's (especially April Fool's Day).
My Favorite Death: Kevin Bacon's arrow through the throat.
Grade: B (Mind you the criteria for rating a horror movie is much different for that of oh, say, Schindler's List)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Good start, but goes over the top
Seeing James Bond interact with Japanese culture is definitely interesting and the movie does have its highlights, but the plot brings it over the top. Seeing Blofeld was definitely a mistake. Donald Pleasance isn't very good in the role and it's no surprise why he wasn't offered it again. (Incidentally Charles Gray who would later play Blofeld in "Diamonds Are Forever" has a brief appearence as a British agent living in Japan. Also, the Bond girls are not very memorable. The kung fu scenes are definitely highlights and there are the usual chase scenes, which are well done. The plot is where the problem lies. Blofeld is stealing satellites from Americans and Soviets and plans to start World War III unless he receives money. Or something. It never quite makes sense and sounds like something from a James Bond parody. Like it or not, this film definitely started a new trend in the Bond formula, one of slightly preposterous plots.
Blofeld's hollowed out volcano is very nicely designed however and any Bond film starring Connery in his prime can't be bad, right?
Highly enjoyable Bond, but no classic.
The fourth Bond film, while no "Goldfinger", is nonetheless an enjoyable movie. Any Bond film with Connery has at least one redeeming quality, but "Thunderball" has other elements that make it worth watching.
The story, about Spectre stealing nuclear missiles and Bond attempting to retrieve them is a little preposterous, yet it's more restrained than later Bond entries. The location filming in the Bahamas is beautiful, as is the underwater photography. Domino is definitely one of the better Bond girls and 007's romancing of her is highly entertaining. Indeed, there are many things to like about Thunderball, including Tom Jones' title song. However, there are some flaws. For one, it drags on too long. The underwater scenes seem to last forever at times and you get the feeling that the plot could have been sped up a bit. Also, Largo is hardly a memorable villain worthy of Bond as an opponent. Although Largo does participate in the proud tradition of Bond villains by having a pool filled with man-eating sharks, he's dull and not as menacing as Goldfinger and has no memorable henchman. At least this film doesn't make the mistake of "You Only Live Twice" by showing us Blofeld. He's much more menacing when seen as a hand stroking his cat and pushing buttons. If you like action, see "Thunderball", just don't expect a classic Bond film.
This one has the Midas touch...
The early Bond films are the best in the series, and "Goldfinger" stands out as the best of the early films. Filled with great villains (Goldfinger and Oddjob), the best Bond girl of all time (Pussy Galore), great action scenes, and the best Bond of them all (Connery, of course). Goldfinger and Oddjob are classic Bond villains. They are colorful, threatening, and unforgettable. Later Bond villains pale beside them.
Pussy Galore is a classic Bond girl. She's smart, tough, independent, and immune to Bond's charms. Later Bond girls were horrible actresses and incredibly dumb, but not Pussy. For me, what makes the movie work is the believable plot. Goldfinger wants all the gold in the world, a much more attainable plan than starting World War III. Goldfinger is just a greedy man, not a diabolical super-villain who lives in a hollowed out volcano. How he goes about breaking into Fort Knox is believable and exciting. There would be many more Bond movies to come, but for my money, they will never top Goldfinger.