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The Bedford Incident (1965)
Tension filled drama
This movie is a cold war tale of an American destroyer hunting a Soviet submarine. The tension builds up wonderfully throughout the film and eventually explodes, both on personnel and greater levels. Tension is present between the skilled but hard nosed captain(Richard Widmark) and a reporter sent aboard(Sidney Poitier). The captain also faces off against the ship's new doctor. Widmark and Poitier both give simply outstanding performances. This film is about them, not explosions or battle scenes. The supporting cast also gives fine performances, including Martin Balsam as the doctor and Eric Portman as a German submarine commander on board as an advisor. It has been said that this film inspired the recent production "Crimson Tide"(which I believe is much less impressive), and after watching you can see why. In turn, I think it is also possible that the producers and writers of "The Bedford Incident" were influenced by "Dr Strangelove" which came out the previous year. While this a drama, not a black comedy, there are some parallels.
Bizarre and funny
This is an odd comedy that can be quite humorous and entertaining. It contains a lot of neat and strange touches. I've seen this film on a number of occasions and it was an enjoyable experience each time. Hard to believe that's Antonio Banderas in there, but it is!
The Great Dictator (1940)
This film pokes fun at Hitler through a mixture of slapstick and satire. The film does not copy Hitler and the Nazis exactly; instead the dictator is named Hynkel, and instead of a swastika there is a double cross. It is worth watching in part to see how contemporary artists treated Hitler back in 1940, when he was a threat, not a part of history, Charlie Chaplin gives a double performance as Hynkel and the barber, something alluded to in the beginning. Chaplin's Hitler is funny and pathetic, not scary and imposing. It is interesting to compare this performance with the versions of Saddam Hussein presented in modern films(like say "Hot Shots"); again a dictator is portrayed as a pathetic, comical figure with a high-pitched voice. One of the best scenes, I think, is where Hynkel plays with a large globe. I found it strange seeing Chaplin in a movie with sound, something I had not seen before watching this film.
Wag the Dog (1997)
Great Title and Great Acting
This movie, given the political events of the time, may have had the most timely(some might say freaky and prophetic) release date of any film. It features wonderful satire, not only of politics but of culture and Hollywood. But its greatest attributes are the performances, especially those of De Niro and Hoffman, which are simply outstanding and a pleasure to watch. I also loved the title, and I thinks it's a far better one than something more obvious or descriptive, like "The Fake War" or "The Spinmaster".
I loved this early Will Vinton claymation piece as a kid, and it seems to have only gotten better with age. I can still remember how utterly hilarious we all thought it was when we first saw it. Even after 20 plus years it appears to be universally admired by all who see it. It uses both "Chalkboard animation" (complete with student comments in the background) and the "claymation" style of animation for which Vinton is now famous. This piece seems to have broad appeal, both because of its popular subject and creative style. I still think this is Vinton's greatest work.
The Untouchables (1993)
This 1990s version of "The Untouchables" was actually pretty good, and was one of the better programs on FOX when it aired. The stories were engaging although, as in previous versions of "The Untouchables", they perhaps took their creative license at bit too far at times(Al Capone and Elliot Ness in a boxing match?!!). However, the real strength of the show was the performances. Tom Amandes and Paul Regina work well as Elliot Ness and Frank Nitty, and John Rhys-Davies does an even better job as Malone. But the greatest performance is without doubt that of William Forsythe as Al Capone, who really steals the show, and makes it quite worth watching. I think he did a better job in the role than Robert De Niro did in the 1987 movie. Indeed most of performances were better than those in the movie, which was itself not a bad piece of work.
The Matrix (1999)
Great New Sci-Fi
This movie features a great story that shows how great Sci-Fi films can be. While it is true that the plot is mainly an excuse to show neat looking visuals of people dodging bullets followed by lines like "You are the chosen one", the story still is very engaging and bold. The cinematography is also excellent and impressive. While not among the greatest films ever, this is one of the best, if not the best Sci-fi film to come along in a few years.
Tretya meshchanskaya (1927)
Perhaps that was not a good idea...
This is a silent film made relatively early in the history of the Soviet Union. A construction worker allows his unemployed friend to stay at home with his young beautiful wife and whoops! This is actually a pretty good movie, although like many silent Soviet films, the score, while nice, is way too dramatic.
Gojira tai Megaro (1973)
Wow, that was some jump!
This is a fairly typical Godzilla movie, with men in suits, cheap miniature sets, little kids saying "Godzilla", and the rest. My favorite scene, as well as the most hilarious one, was when Godzilla does his several thousand foot horizontal jump. This movie was featured on MST3K, where, of course, they made watching it a hilarious and enjoyable experience. In fact, the jump scene was featured in the credits during the Joel era for many years. Once you hear it, it will take you a while to get the "Jet Jaguar" song out of your head! I actually first came in contact with this film when I saw a clip of it during a documentary about film history. And guess which scene they decided to show!
Son in Law (1993)
Change of opinion
When I saw this movie for the first time, it was dubbed in Spanish. I wasn't fluent, but understood enough to know what was going on. I thought the movie was kind of funny. A year or so later, I happened across it again, and was able to watch it in English for the first time. Now that I could watch it fully, I thought it was humorless and not very entertaining, and I have no intention of watching it again, in any language.