Sunday, December 18, 2011

#68 Unforgiven (1992)

This was the best Western I've ever seen, but I have to admit it's only the third I've ever watched. Maybe if they were all this great, I could say that I liked Westerns.

So in the town of Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a prostitute laughs at a cowboy for being poorly endowed, and he responds by slashing up her face. The sheriff deems the appropriate punishment to be paying five horses to the owner of the whorehouse. Obviously, the women of the house are not so happy with this arrangement, and they pool their money to create a reward for whoever can kill the guy responsible for ruining the prostitute's face (and career.) Clint Eastwood hears about the reward and comes out of his assassin retirement to make some money for his family. He calls on his good friend Morgan Freeman, and they team up with the very obnoxious "Schofield Kid" to kill the cowboy and his friend.

The main theme of this movie has popped up in several of the movies I've seen so far, and that's the idea of what is good, what is evil, and what does it mean when the two are blurred. There are no "good guys" in this movie... Everyone is either perceived as moral (the sheriff) with a healthy dose of evilness or immoral (the assassins) with a strong grasp on right and wrong.

Rating: 7.5/10

Big Names: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman (2nd appearance after French Connection), Morgan Freeman (also in Shawshank), Frances Fisher (not a big name, but this is her second time to appear in a top 100 movie, too... she was also Rose's mom in Titanic)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#67 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Here's a movie that I'd like to see again. Not because it was pleasant to watch -- because it wasn't (it was painful and exhausting: think War of the Roses) -- but because the ending was so odd that I know that I'd look at the whole movie differently if I saw it a second time.

George and Martha are a middle-aged seemingly unhappily married couple who are entertaining Nick and Honey, a younger, seemingly normal and happy couple, for a night cap after a party. Through the night, you see George and Martha rip each other apart and expose Nick and Honey's marriage for the mess it is.

I started the film knowing absolutely nothing except that it starred Elizabeth Taylor and was 2 hours and 11 minutes. (I had to make sure I had plenty of time to watch the entire thing before going into work.) I kept thinking that the movie felt like a play, and yes, it was a play-turned-film. This movie was much, much more about dialogue and acting than it was about scenery or special effects.

A couple of interesting tidbits: George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) were married during this film....I wonder how much of a stretch it was to play an unhappy couple. Elizabeth Taylor gained thirty pounds for this movie. Also, all four of the main characters were nominated for Oscars. Martha and Honey both won them... Elizabeth Taylor totally earned hers, but it surprises me that a character like Honey (a mousy, blah, dumb blonde) would be worthy of an Oscar.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton

Big Lines:
George: Good. Better. Best. Bested.

Honey: I want to… put some powder on my nose.
George: Martha, won’t you show her where we keep the euphemism?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

#69 Tootsie (1982)

This is the original Mrs. Doubtfire. Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, an actor who can't find work in NYC, and his agent blames Michael's difficult personality. To prove a point, Michael dresses as a woman, auditions for a soap, and gets the part.... Of course, this becomes a bit of a problem when he falls in love with one of his coworkers, then her DAD falls in love with him, American women idolize him (as a woman), a male coworker drunkenly attempts a date rape, and yeah.... it's just a giant mess.

The great lines in this movie were perfectly delivered, and I've learned after watching some of the really old movies on this list that delivery can make or break a joke. (Timing in the older movies was sometimes odd to me.) I found out a few hours before I watched this that Bill Murray played Hoffman's roommate, but it ended up being an insignificant part, so don't get too excited about that.

It's hard to rationalize a romantic comedy being ahead of so many great dramas, but to be fair, it was done very well!

Since my original goal was to get through 50 of these movies in the first year (so before February 1,) I've got some work to do! Next up: Unforgiven.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr (poor girl definitely gets the shaft in this movie,) Geena Davis (very first role for her!)

Big Lines:
This exchange between Michael and his agent was awesome...

Michael: You should have seen the look on her face when she thought I was a lesbian.
George: "Lesbian?" You just said "gay."
Michael: No, no, no -- SANDY thinks I'm gay. JULIE thinks I'm a lesbian.
George: I thought Dorothy was supposed to be straight.
Michael: Dorothy IS straight. Tonight, Les, the sweetest, nicest man in the world asked me to marry him.
George: A guy named Les wants YOU to marry him?
Michael: No, no, no -- he wants to marry Dorothy.
George: Does he know she's a lesbian?
Michael: Dorothy's NOT a lesbian.
George: I know that. Does HE know that?
Michael: Know WHAT?
George: That, er, I... I don't know.

Julie: I miss Dorothy.
Michael: You don't have to. She's right here. And she misses you. Look, you don't know me from Adam, but I was a better man with you, as a woman... than I ever was with a woman, as a man. You know what I mean? I just gotta learn to do it without the dress. At this point, there might be an advantage to my wearing pants.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#71 Saving Private Ryan (1998)

I went to see this movie on my very first, non-double, date. We actually left early because my date was concerned he wouldn't get me home in time to make my curfew, so I didn't know how it ended until I saw this yesterday.

At 15, I had decided that I didn't enjoy this movie, but this time around, I loved it. Usually, movies that are set primarily in war zones do not interest me (see my thoughts on Platoon) but this movie had enough story for me to stay interested throughout the entire movie. Even though it was almost three hours long, it flew by. My heart was literally racing in the last battle scene, and upon realizing what would probably happen, I even cried. To me, if a movie can move me in that way, it's a powerful one. It has messages that leave you thinking. What does it take to make one life worth more than another?

Even though this was a fantastic one, I'm excited about my next movie Tootsie, a movie I haven't seen and about which I know nothing. If it's better than this one, it must be awesome, right?

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel (yeah, the guy from those Fast & Furious atrocities,) Ted Danson (who knew?)

Big Lines: 
Captain Miller: James, earn this... earn it.

#72 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Everybody knows this movie. Everyone loves it. If I was using the IMDB top 250 movie list instead of the AFI top 100, this would be the absolute last movie I would watch since it's #1. Sometimes I prefer to dislike things that everyone else likes just because that's so boring and expected, but I can't help it. This is a good movie.

I would recommend if you're one of the 98% of people who "LOVE THIS MOVIE!" then you should also read/see The Count of Monte Cristo. It's a similar movie of redemption, and it's fun cheering for the underdog. I hadn't realized the first time I saw this movie (~10 years ago) that Andy even recommends that book to his fellow inmates.

A random, bizarre thought that I had over and over throughout the film was the Mitch Hedberg joke about the Dufresnes... I guess it's an uncommon name, and the only other reference to a Dufresne I could think of was this one:

"When you go to a restaurant on the weekends, and it's busy, they start a waiting list. They start calling out names, they say, 'Dufresne, party of two. Dufresne, party of two.' And if no one answers, they'll say their name again. 'Dufresne, party of two, Dufresne, party of two.' But then if no one answers, they'll just go right onto the next name. 'Bush, party of three.' Yeah, what happened to the Dufresnes? No one seems to give a shit. Who can eat at a time like this?? People are missing! You're all selfish. The Dufresnes are in someone's trunk right now, with duct tape over their mouths. And they're hungry. That's a double whammy. Bush, search party of three, you can eat when you find the Dufresnes."

Rating: 10/10

Big names: Morgan Freeman, Tim Robbins

Big lines:

District Attorney: And that also is very convenient. Isn't it, Mr. Durfresne?
Andy Dufresne: Since I am innocent of this crime, sir, I find it decidedly *inconvenient* that the gun was never found.

Andy Dufresne: Get busy living, or get busy dying.

#74 Silence of the Lambs (1991)

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pharmacy test is out of the way, and since late October, I've been working on everything else I had neglected since I started studying. Finally, I'm caught up enough not to feel guilty about allowing myself to restart my movie-watching. I've actually watched three since last Thursday... I've just been a slacker about writing about them.

So, about this movie....  I had seen parts of it thanks to my friend Shawna; I remember a night in high school when we started the movie at maybe midnight, and every time I fell asleep, she would wake me up and restart the movie at the spot at which I had fallen asleep. She finally gave up, though, so I had never seen it all the way through.

It's been well over four months since I finally watched this, so it's hard to remember how it initially struck me, but I know it was everything I thought it would be: creepy, intense, impressive, disturbing. Anthony Hopkins plays a "monster," and I think what sets him apart from any other monsters in a horror movie is the fact that he's so intelligent and witty, he's almost in a way, likable. Stories that can make you simultaneously root for and despise one of the main characters are fun to me.

All in all, it was a great film. As an interesting tidbit, only three films have won all top 5 Oscars (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay): It Happened One Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and this one.

Rating: 7.5/10

Big names: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's been a while...

I actually did see Silence of the Lambs over a week ago, but I only realized today that I never wrote my thoughts on it.  Sadly, I must admit that in fact, I cannot do it all, so I will be slowing down the movie-watching until glorious October when my life slows down and is manageable again. See you then!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#73 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

I was told by a coworker that I would enjoy this one, and I definitely did. This movie redeemed Westerns for me. Despite being a seemingly traditional Western with gunfights and violence, it had humor, sarcasm, catchy (but odd) music, and even a tiny bit of romance.

Though it wasn't an incredibly intense movie to me, it was enjoyable to watch. I honestly wasn't ready for it to end. I didn't know the story of the actual Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, and Etta Place (the schoolteacher/prostitute who moved to South America with the outlaws,) and I had no expectations of what would happen. The actual Butch and Sundance were members of the "Wild Bunch" in the late 1800's/early 1900's, and no one knows how their story ended.

Interestingly, since The Wild Bunch came out a few months before Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they changed their gang name to "Hole-in-the-Wall Bunch" so people wouldn't confuse the films. This movie was better than The Wild Bunch in every way imaginable, especially with casting. Paul Newman and Robert Redford were amazingly talented, memorable in their roles, and looked different enough for me to tell them apart!

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Paul Newman (Butch), Robert Redford (Sundance), Katharine Ross (Etta, also the girl in The Graduate), Cloris Leachman (only realized she was Agnes, the prostitute, after I saw her name in the credits and looked it up on IMDB)

Big Lines:
(during the last gunfight of the film, when they're running low on ammunition)
Butch: We're going to run out unless we can get to that mule and get some more.
Sundance Kid:  I'll go.
Butch: This is no time for bravery. I'll let ya!

Big Songs:
"Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" by Burt Bacharach

Monday, June 6, 2011

#79 The Wild Bunch (1969)

I've never seen a Western, so I can't compare this one to any others, but I hated it and now think I probably will strongly dislike all Westerns. I started watching it about a month ago, but turned it off when I realized I had watched thirty minutes without having a clue what was happening. Today, I felt motivated to push through to the end.

The story itself has potential. A group of outlaws (The Wild Bunch) are being chased by a gang of bounty hunters all through Texas and Mexico. An interesting twist is that the bounty hunters are led by a former Wild Bunch member, but he was arrested and now is released as long as he captures or kills the ringleader of the Wild Bunch.

I don't agree with the casting. I think the two main guys look too much alike, and so as I was watching, I couldn't keep it straight who was on whose team. (Travis watched about twenty minutes of it with me today when he came home for lunch, and he couldn't tell them apart, either, so I don't think it's just me.) It's also a long 2-1/2 hours of evil, maniacal laughter and unnecessary violence. I'm not against violence in films as long as it actually serves a purpose, but this was over-the-top. At the time of its release, this was possibly the most violent movie ever made. Most action movies nowadays are just as gory, so I don't think this movie would shock anyone now as it probably did in the '60s.

All the shooting and killing is disgusting and...well, boring. I'd much rather see a story develop than to see blood gushing from hundreds of random people.

Rating: 3/10

Big Names: William Holden, Robert Ryan

Big Lines:
"Well, how'd you like to kiss my sister's black cat's ass?" Okay, not a big line, but the most bizarre line I've ever heard someone say as they were dying...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

#75 In the Heat of the Night (1967)

This was a good one. From the moment I turned it on, I couldn't look away, couldn't get up, and I even had to pause the DVD to fold clothes.

Set in the '60s, the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, in the small town of Sparta, Mississippi, a redneck white cop stumbles across a murdered rich, white man and decides to bring in the first black man he finds to call the murderer. Since this man, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), has a lot of cash in his pocket, the sheriff is convinced that he MUST be the killer. Of course, this is before he realizes that Tibbs is a successful homicide detective from Philadelphia whose expertise he reluctantly admits to needing.

Aside from the excitement of the murder mystery, this movie perfectly displays the hate and racism of the deep South. I know (or hope) that this isn't entirely the case any more... but I've lived in the South all my life, and the deeply ingrained racism these characters have is absolutely believable to me. Interestingly, it couldn't even be shot on location due to the fear of attack in Mississippi at the time. (It was instead shot in Illinois.)

This movie is known to have the "slap heard 'round the world" when Poitier returns a slap to a prominent, rich, white man. This had never been done before on film, and I've read that audiences applauded the scene in theaters.

There's a lot more I can say about this one, but I'd rather somebody else watch this, and then we can just talk about it. I promise it's worth your time to see it.

This movie beat out The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde for best picture Oscar in 1967. That was a good year to see some movies!

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger (won the Oscar for best actor)

Big Lines: They call me MISTER Tibbs! (#16 in AFI's top 100 movie lines)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#76 Forrest Gump (1994)

I was twelve when this movie came out, and I wasn't allowed to see it. I also wasn't allowed to see Jerry Maguire in 1996 because my parents didn't think I would fully understand either one. Of course my youngest sister Mia was allowed to see anything she wanted by the time she was two. I guess it's a downside of being the oldest child. :)

So since junior high, I've seen this movie a million times, but I've never watched it from the perspective I did the other day, which was to decipher why this movie is on the list. I think possibly the biggest reason is Tom Hanks's acting. He does such an amazing job as Forrest, believably playing a mentally challenged adult and keeping the role light, making Forrest innocently hilarious. It's also very well-written and about every ten minutes of the movie, you'll hear a quote that anyone could identify as a line from Forrest Gump.

I never realized it before, but the special effects in this movie are incredible. Forrest really looks like he met those Presidents and attended basically every historic event of the '60s and '70s. And while it's not a reason to be on the list, soundtracks can very much affect how much I personally enjoy a movie, and The Forrest Gump soundtrack was one of the few tapes my parents had in our car growing up so I knew and loved every song before I even saw the movie. ("Love Her Madly" is still my favorite Doors song.)

Overall, a beautiful, moving story that's so well-acted it certainly earns its spot on the list.

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright (Buttercup from The Princess Bride), Sally Field, Haley Joel Osment (this is his second appearance in the list so far... pretty impressive for a little kid)

Big Lines:
Drill Sergeant: Gump! What's your sole purpose in this army?
Forrest: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!

Lieutenant Dan: Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?
Forrest: I didn't know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.

Forrest: I'm not a smart man... but I know what love is.

Forrest: I'm sorry I had a fight in the middle of your Black Panther party.

Lieutenant Dan: Where are you boys from in the world?
Forrest & Bubba: Alabama, sir!
Lieutenant Dan: You twins?
Forrest: No, sir. We are not relations.

Jenny: Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

#77 All the President's Men (1976)

I started The Wild Bunch Saturday night, watched thirty minutes of it, and was so bored that I turned it off. Trav asked me if I'm going to suffer through the whole movie even though it was terrible, and I guess to be able to say I've seen all 100 of AFI's top movies, I will eventually need to watch it. Not today, though!

This morning I watched this film about the Watergate scandal and the two Washington Post reporters responsible for exposing it. The movie had great momentum even though it was tricky to keep up with all the names and dates they throw at you, and since I already knew what was going to happen, I was on edge. About 2 hours and 15 minutes into the movie, I thought, "Oooh, now we're getting to the good stuff," but then, they sum up all the scandal excitement via a man typing newspaper headlines. Sure, this is artsy, but literally none of the excitement is shown so the movie ends up being much more about the grunt work-- finding the story and interrogating people-- and none of the satisfying success is shown at all. Watching it, I thought this was going to be a great one, but the ending ruined the whole movie for me. Great acting, though.

Rating: 4/10

Big Names: Carl Bernstein (writer), Bob Woodword (writer), Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Robards (from Parenthood!), a ton of other guys

#78 Modern Times (1936)

The past few weeks I haven't had many weekdays off work, so it's been a while since I watched a movie on my list. Not excited about either of the movies I have at home right now (The Wild Bunch and this one), I picked the shorter one of the two. This was only 1 hour and 27 minutes long.

I definitely knew of Charlie Chaplin, but when I read a blurb about this movie, I had no clue who they were referring to as a Tramp. Chaplin's famous character, with the bowler hat, cane, clown shoes, and goofy walk/waddle, was the Little Tramp. Charlie knew this character wouldn't survive in the non-silent films that were taking over, so Modern Times was done stubbornly as a "silent" film. "Silent" is in quotes because there are some spoken lines, and the Tramp even sings toward the end.

Surprisingly (to me), there are pretty funny moments. I laughed out loud when he followed this girl with the buttons on her coat. It's insanely impressive to me that a 75-year-old movie can make me laugh, but this film also had more serious messages. The idea that progress and industrialization isn't always necessary or better and the the truth of how difficult it is for less fortunate Americans to keep up are just a bit of what Chaplin was trying to say. I like his style of stringing together entertaining skits, but having underlying deeper messages that I didn't even realize until after the movie was over.

One of the main songs in the movie is the original, instrumental version of "Smile Though Your Heart Is Aching." The lyrics weren't added until decades later, but the words are well suited for the last scene of the movie, when the main characters get themselves up off the ground and try again.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard (Chaplin's wife at the time)

Friday, April 29, 2011

#70 A Clockwork Orange (1971)

So I skipped ahead a bit on this one. Of the movies I had already added to my Netflix instant queue, it was the one that Trav wanted to see with me at the time.

I had seen the first third of this movie when I was about 18. (See my "bad habit" in the post about #85: I fell asleep for the rest of the movie but acted like I hadn't.)  This portion of the movie shows the main character Alex, an inherently evil and violent man, breaking into strangers' houses, raping women, and actually getting enjoyment out of torturing people. On one of their "adventures," a woman calls the police and between the time of the call and the arrival of the police, he accidentally kills her. His friends leave him, he's arrested and then of course, has to serve jail time.

After serving a bit of time, he agrees to participate in an experimental "aversion therapy" to shorten his jail sentence. His therapists force him to watch movies of disgusting, violent acts until his body has a Pavlovian response to the sight of violence and he becomes physically ill. Unfortunately, the movies he's forced to watch are accompanied by the classical music he adores, and this is used against him when he again meets the husband of a woman he raped.

I read Roger Ebert's review, and his was incredibly negative, mostly criticizing Kubrick for glorifying Alex and "celebrating his nastiness." I don't think that's what Kubrick was trying to do, though. I think he wants the viewer to see through that and still be able to recognize what is good and evil, and I feel that most viewers would have the same reaction that I did, which was utter disgust.

If an indicator of a good movie is that it affects you somehow, this movie is incredible. It gave me nightmares.

Rating: 8/10

Big Names: Malcolm McDowell

Thursday, April 28, 2011

#80 The Apartment (1960)

This movie has made lists of the best comedies of all time. I must be missing something because while this is a great movie and a sweet romance, I don't at all think of it as a comedy.

Jack Lemmon plays a complete pushover who lends his apartment out to executives at his office to spend alone time with their mistresses. He seems to be getting something out of it, though, like a raise and a new office, so it doesn't bother him until he realizes that one of his bosses is fooling around with the girl he loves.

Lemmon and MacLaine are talented actors, the story is very sweet and well-written, and I did enjoy watching this one, but I wonder if I'm watching too many great movies in a row and becoming accustomed to this new level of movies. None I've seen in a while have stood out to me as significantly better than others (besides Titanic... tease me for my taste if you must.)

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon

Friday, April 22, 2011

#81 Spartacus (1960)

I had very high expectations for this movie. I loved Ben-Hur, and this is ranked almost twenty spots higher, so I expected that this would be my new favorite on the list. It was an excellent movie, but there was at least a full hour that was just dull. (I actually fell asleep during that lull last night and had to finish it this morning.) Another reason I just knew I would love this was that it was directed by Stanley Kubrick, and his version of The Shining is fantastic, and even though it's disturbing, A Clockwork Orange was done very well. Only a few moments of the movie looked like his style, though, or at least what I think of as his style, so that was a bit of a letdown.

Set in 70 B.C., Spartacus is the epic story of a slave who is sold to a master who trains men to become Gladiators. When the Gladiator-trained slaves are asked to fight to the death simply for a Roman general's amusement, together they turn on their master. They then add thousands more slaves to their cause and form an army who revolts against the Roman empire.

The last hour of the movie has some very powerful scenes. I especially love the moment when the Roman general demands that Spartacus identifies himself out of the group of prisoners, and promises that if he does, the other imprisoned slaves' lives would be spared. Every single man identifies himself as Spartacus; they all give their lives for him.

Rating: 8/10

Big Names: Kirk Douglas (Michael Douglas's dad who looks just like him), Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons

Big Lines: I'm Spartacus.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#82 Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

My first silent film!! I actually was not at all excited about this one. The Netflix cover told me that this was going to be a 3-hour movie, so I was going to allow myself to watch this one in segments so I didn't die of boredom. Luckily, though, Netflix counted the two different versions on the disc when it calculated the runtime, so it was only an hour and a half. This thoroughly confused me about 80 minutes in, when everything was coming together, and I had no idea how they were going to fill in another 90 minutes.

Since I feel very confident that no one who reads this will ever see this movie (except you, Sabrina!), here is the story: A married farmer (btw, none of these characters have any names.... not even on the credits) is seduced by a woman "from the city" who's staying in their little town on vacation. The woman from the city convinces him to drown his wife and move with her to the city. When he attempts the murder on a little rowboat in the middle of a lake, his wife begs for mercy, so he comes to his senses and grants her mercy. Once they get back to land, she runs from him into the city, understandably scared of him, which upsets him and inspires him to win her back. Later in the day, they are back in love and happy as ever (one heck of a day). They decide to take a lovely moonlight cruise back to their home, when a storm comes out of nowhere and flips their boat. He swims to land, but she disappears. Obviously distressed over the apparent loss of his wife, he goes out and attempts to then strangle his mistress since it's definitely her fault. In the middle of the strangling, a neighbor walks up with his (live) wife, and all is well! He loves his wife again, and obviously is done with the woman from the city.

When I told Trav the story, he didn't understand how I got all of that from a silent film. I guess the story is so obvious and direct that I never even questioned it. In fact, this movie only had a few title cards so the story's almost exclusively expressed by actions. When the plot line is clear, and the acting is done well, dialogue can be unnecessary. Think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. That movie did really well despite the fact that it had hardly any dialogue and only had one main character. Tom Hanks is awesome.

I'm apparently in a rambling mood today. In summary, this movie was not at all painful to watch, it held my attention and evoked some emotions, but I'm glad it wasn't a three-hour silent film.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor

Big Lines: nope :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

#83 Titanic (1997)

How exactly this movie is only one spot ahead of Easy Rider is mind-boggling. Yes, I know that it was maybe over-advertised when it came out. I actually remember reading girly magazines like"Tiger Beat" when I was thirteen (a full two years before the movie came out), when they had already cast Leo, and he was all OVER the covers. :) And I'm pretty sure everyone was tired of it by the time it came out on video, but it was #1 in the box office for 15 consecutive weekends. That's the longest of any movie, ever. Everything about this movie was huge. The actors, the timeline, the length of the movie, the number of extras, the sets, and I read that the cost of the movie ($200million) was actually more than what it would even cost to rebuild the Titanic today ($150million).

In my first post on here, I mentioned that the definition of a good movie, to me, is that it is one that affects me somehow. As soon as the movie started, I was already tearing up. And hours after the movie was over, I was reading all I could find online about the Titanic sinking...  Apparently many of the characters on Titanic were real people (not Jack & Rose, though), and their stories were real. The older couple lying in bed cuddling as the ship sank were Isador & Ida Straus, co-owners of Macy's. They both were offered spots on a lifeboat, but he turned it down since not all women and children had been saved. She decided that she didn't want to leave him, so the two stayed on the boat together. (Sigh.) John Jacob Astor IV, the man with the young, pregnant wife, was truly the wealthiest man on the boat, and they were finally returning from their long honeymoon abroad since his divorce and new marriage were so scandalous.

There's just so much history surrounding this tragedy, and Jack and Rose's story is so beautiful and moving that I have to say that James Cameron knew exactly what he was doing. This movie deserved all the credit that it received. Such a well-made tribute to the horrific tragedy.

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: James Cameron, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, James Horner (I read somewhere that Cameron first wanted Enya to do the music, so that's why so much of the music sounds dreamy and Enya-like)

Big Lines (or at least my favorite):
Jack: I'm king of the world!

Rose: I'd rather be his whore than your wife.

Cal: You're a good liar.
Jack: Almost as good as you.

Man on Carpathia: Can I take your name, please love?
Rose: Dawson, Rose Dawson

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#84 Easy Rider (1969)

This was easily my least favorite movie on this list so far. I had to restart it three times because I kept falling asleep in the first fifteen minutes of the movie.

It's the story of a couple of hippie bikers riding across the United States from L.A. to New Orleans for Mardis Gras, hoping to figure out how to live their lives. While the movie had interesting segments and a bizarre/disturbing ending, I think my favorite part was the music.

Rating: 3.5/10

Big Names: Jack Nicholson (the best character... a drunken lawyer), Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#85 A Night at the Opera (1935)

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a terrible habit of falling asleep in movies. Well, I had to restart this one three times because I kept trying to watch it while I was sleepy. Oops.

Everyone has heard of the Marx brothers, but this was the first time I had seen them in action. There were originally five Marx brothers who performed together in vaudeville, but by the time this movie was made, there were only three in the "group". Back in the early 1900's, it was the thing to make nicknames by attaching -O to the end of a name. Groucho was named for his disposition and his character is a witty, sneaky businessman; Chico (pronounced chick-o) was girl-crazy (chicks), and he does this weird half-Italian character; Harpo played the harp amazingly well and is goofy, but he never talks. I tried out Lindso and Travo for the rest of the night after I saw this. I don't think it really works for us.

After seeing this movie (and watching all of the extras on the DVD,) I began seeing this whole movie-watching experience as my own discovery of the history of pop culture. I enjoy seeing how much humor and entertainment has changed over the years, and while I've always been bored by the type of history I was taught in school (memorizing names and dates, mostly relating to wars), this type of history really appeals to me.

In some ways, like the strength of female characters in movies, we've progressed... in other ways, our vocabularies for one, we've regressed. I think about the reality shows we watch now for entertainment (I'm guilty of it, too), and the majority of it requires absolutely no thinking. All the shows on E! and Bravo are absolute crap... except of course "The Soup" that makes fun of it all.

This movie had so many clever one-liners that it was actually difficult for me to keep up. I'm not accustomed to needing to pay attention to every word. To get every joke, I'd need to see this movie at least another time or two.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Groucho, Chico, and Harpo Marx; Kitty Carlisle

Big Lines: I'm not sure, but is this a double entendre? I can't think of another way to take it. It's pretty intense for 1935....
Mrs. Claypool: Are you sure you have everything, Otis?
Mr. Driftwood: Well, I haven't had any complaints yet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

#86 Platoon (1986)

I've been doing such a good job of going in order lately!

So this is a war movie... a gruesome, disturbing, disgusting war movie. It is different from other war movies that I've seen, though. For one, it's autobiographical. It also doesn't put any sort of positive light on being in a war, and there aren't even any heroes. It's set in the Vietnam War, and unlike the WWII, WWI, or Civil War movies I've seen, you can't even really tell who the "good guys" are supposed to be. I think it was intentional for the director to set it up so that you're confused on who they're even fighting (pretty appropriate for the Vietnam War.)

I like that the director was showing us what I think is a truer version of war.  However, it's still a war movie, and for that, I have to say that while I respect that it's a great movie, I didn't personally enjoy watching it.

Rating: 4.5/10

Big Names: Oliver Stone (writer), Charlie Sheen (pretty impossible to take seriously now, but here's proof that he was once a respected actor), John McGinley (Dr. Cox from "Scrubs"!), Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp (small role)

Friday, March 11, 2011

#87 12 Angry Men (1957)

This is proof that films don't need a big budget, fancy special effects, or even more than a single scene to become a classic.

These 12 angry men are jurors for a case involving an 18-year-old accused of stabbing his father to death. We don't see any of the case itself; we only see the jurors discussing the verdict. It begins as an open-and-shut case, but a single juror believes that instead of immediately convicting the defendant, they should at least do him the honor of discussing the case. Through the course of the (short) movie, the one dissenting juror attempts to convince the other jurors one by one that they all have reasonable doubt that the young man is guilty.

I think this movie has powerful messages about the U.S. justice system. We are innocent until proven guilty, and each and every one of us deserves a fair trial...even the ones of us living on the rougher side of town. It also felt to me at first a division of conservatives and liberals, but in the end, all men agreeing on what is the right thing to do.

I read Roger Ebert's review of this movie, and he goes into the cinematography of the film. The director gradually changes lenses of longer focal lengths, so that as the movie goes on, the room starts to look and feel smaller. They also begin the movie shooting above eye level of the characters, so that you feel that the characters are manageable and understandable, but they slowly shift to shooting from below so that the characters seem more overwhleming, the ceiling can be seen and that it seems that not only the walls are closing in, but the ceiling is closing in as well.

Rating: 9/10

Big Names: Henry Fonda (co-producer and the dissenting juror)

#88 Bringing Up Baby (1938)

This movie's on the list of AFI's funniest movies of all time, which is deserved. I'll admit that some of the comedy was corny, and at times, Katharine Hepburn's character was pretty obnoxious, but it's amazing to me that a 73-year-old movie can still be so entertaining and hilarious.

It's a story of an awkward, straight-laced paleontologist (called a zoologist back then) named David (Cary Grant) who meets a crazy woman Susan (Katharine Hepburn). In her attempts to spend more time with him and keep him from marrying his boring fiancee, she gets him involved in the wildest situations... some involving her tame leopard named Baby.

This movie did terribly at the box office since '30s crowds didn't appreciate Hepburn's feminism and her strong personality. This movie actually cost the director his job, and Hepburn was forced out of her contract for it.

An interesting line in the movie is when Susan's aunt walks in, sees David wearing Susan's nightgown (since Susan had stolen all of his clothes), and asks him why he's wearing it. He's flustered and yells, "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!" I didn't know that "gay" meant that back in the '30s. According to IMDB, my favorite website in the world, it's one of the first times "gay" was used in its modern sense.

Rating: 7.5/10

Big Names: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

Sunday, March 6, 2011

#91 Sophie's Choice (1982)

I had been putting this one off because I knew that Sophie was a Holocaust survivor, so I knew I needed to be in the right state of mind for this movie (if that would ever happen), and it wasn't one that I could fit in before work or between errands, for example. I actually saw it last Tuesday night, while Travis was out of town. I had been watching a minute of "The Daily Show" earlier that evening, and they made a joke mentioning Sophie's choice. I had had the movie from Netflix for about a week at that point, but I figured it was time and I was too curious to find out what her choice was.

This movie is narrated by a young writer moving from the South to Brooklyn in 1947 to begin his "big exploration." He rents a room of a house where Sophie and her boyfriend Nathan are also staying. As he becomes best friends with Sophie and Nathan, he hears her story of what she has gone through in her past, living through Auschwitz, nearly dying, and losing all of her loved ones. It's an incredibly intense movie, and when I learned what Sophie's "choice" was, it was the most chilling choice I could have ever imagined, and I'm tearing up now thinking about it.

This is certainly a movie that deserves to be on the list. Meryl Streep has an impressive and convincing performance as Sophie, and now I see why she has her reputation as such a very talented actress. From now on, she will probably always look like a Polish immigrant to me.

Rating: 8.5/10

Big Names: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol (from "Ally McBeal"), Josh Mostel (not really a big name, but I recognized him from Billy Madison!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

#94 Pulp Fiction (1994)

This is one of my favorite movies, and it's one of the few on the list that I already own. It's a twisted story by Quentin Tarantino centered around a mob boss Marcellus Wallace, his wife, two of his hit men, a wrestler, and a couple of wanna-be thieves.

I love Tarantino's style. Even though the movie is over-the-top with violence, it's still hilarious and light. His way of intertwining the three main stories is so clever, and it showcases how far the movie industry has come since the simpler stories portrayed in the movies of the '30s and '40s.

This movie also reminded me I need to call Trav "honey bunny" more often. I think he would LOVE that.

Rating: 9.5/10

Big Names: Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman

#90 Swing Time (1936)

This was a "feel good" movie that actually made me happy. Fred Astaire plays Lucky, a broke, but talented dancer who, after being tricked into missing his own wedding, leaves for NYC to earn enough money to be again allowed to marry his fiancee. In NYC, he meets Penny (Ginger Rogers), a dance instructor, makes a terrible first impression, has her fired, and then, gets her job back by dancing with her. As they dance together, they fall in love. The storyline itself is pretty silly and predictable, it's a romantic comedy AND a musical, but there was enough substance and drama (unlike Yankee Doodle Dandy) for me to really enjoy this one. At first, I couldn't get over Astaire's look. I never would've guessed he was so goofy-looking. By the end of the movie, though, I thought he was adorable and charming.

The way show business worked back then was entirely different from now. Actors only acted in movies produced by the company they've signed with, so I think that's why movies were made almost exclusively to showcase the talent of their actors. I feel like this movie (and the other ~9 or 10 Rogers and Astaire made together) was written just for them. They're amazing to watch and had such good chemistry. I wouldn't mind seeing more of theirs.

Side note: One thing I've found completely shocking, though, is that this makes TWO movies on the list with actors performing in blackface makeup. That's something that definitely shows the movie's age.

Rating: 8/10

Big Names: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

Monday, February 21, 2011

#93 The French Connection (1971)

This was basically an hour and forty-five minutes of cops chasing sophisticated drug dealers around New York City. There were some pretty intense scenes, like the train-car chase (, but it didn't hold my interest very well. The ending was a nice twist, though. Had it ended any other way, it probably would've gotten a lower rating from me.

Rating: 5/10

Big Names: Gene Hackman

Thursday, February 17, 2011

#95 The Last Picture Show (1971)

For everything that Yankee Doodle Dandy lacked, this movie more than provided. There was (sometimes uncomfortable) infidelity, prostitution, crude language, alcohol, nudity, less-than-likable characters.... I wasn't exactly prepared for that. (In fact, I'm surprised it was only rated R.) All I knew about this movie was that it was set in the early 1950's in a small town in Texas, whose theater is forced to close. Apparently Aranene, Texas, doesn't have a lot going on, so people must find things to keep themselves busy. It was actually a very entertaining movie, but at the end, it left me feeling sad and empty. It's hard to say what the story of the movie is, but it's centered around a town slowly dying, and the residents of the town are lonely, bored, and dying as well. It certainly wasn't the "feel good" movie that Yankee Doodle Dandy was.

I feel about this movie as I feel about The Social Network: It was an interesting movie, but I have a hard time thinking it's Oscar-worthy, and I don't necessarily need to see it again.

Rating: 7/10

Big Names: Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd (her first role...she is gorgeous in this movie, and she had an affair with the married director which led to their divorce), Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn (the mom in the Exorcist), Randy Quaid (just as awkward as in the Vacation movies)

I found this quote by Cybill Shepherd on the movie:
"When a film wraps, the actors often like to keep some of their props or wardrobe as mementos. I wanted the heart-shaped locket and brown and white saddle shoes that Jacy wore, but his wife Polly was in charge of costumes and wouldn't give them to me. I guess she figured I had enough of a souvenir: her husband."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

#98 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

This was my first musical on the list. James Cagney plays George M. Cohan, a composer, dancer/singer, and playwright who lived in the early 20th century. Cohan was known as the "man who owned Broadway" prior to WWI and focused mostly on patriotic songs and plays. I'm ashamed to admit that even though I knew his songs, I didn't even recognize Cohan's name. With the songs "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Give My Regards to Broadway," and "You're a Grand Old Flag," you would've thought that in my ten years of piano lessons or six years of band, I would've at least recognized his name.

If this movie was redone now, it wouldn't stand a chance. There's not really any drama, no villains, no drug abuse, no cheating on wives... There was none of the excitement that is present in the biographies that come out nowadays. He was portrayed as a mostly likable person surrounded by family and friends who loved him and didn't seem to do anything wrong, either. It was a "feel good" movie that I think made the list because of James Cagney's impressive (Oscar-winning) acting, singing, and dancing (e.g. and because it started a film biography trend in Hollywood. I would imagine that in the middle of WWII, a patriotic film would probably do well in America, just due to its timing.

In my Wikipedia-ing Cohan, I saw that not everything in the movie is completely accurate. (And you know with Wikipedia, anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject so you know you are getting the best possible information.) He wasn't actually born on the fourth of July, and he was married once before marrying the "Mary" in the movie, who was actually Agnes. Interestingly, I also saw that his sister Josie was married to the silent film producer of the original Ben-Hur. I thought that was pretty timely for me. :)

Rating: 5/10

Big Names: James Cagney

Big Lines: My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

#100 Ben-Hur (1959)

Movies like Ben-Hur are why I'm taking the time to do all this movie-watching. It was excellent, and I think I have found a movie to add to my favorites list. I'm also tempted to eventually watch the original Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (from 1925).

I honestly knew nothing about this one. If you aren't familiar with it, either, it is the story of Judah Ben-Hur, prince of Judea during Jesus's lifetime. Messala, a Roman tribune (officer) stationed in Judea and childhood friend of Judah's, abuses their friendship and tries to convince Judah to betray his people and help the Romans kill those who do not support the emperor. When Judah refuses, Messala unfairly imprisons Judah, his mother, and his sister. Through pure chance, good luck, and faith in God (kinda Count of Monte Cristo-ish), Judah again becomes a free man who seeks revenge on Messala. That's about as much as I can tell you without ruining it.

I kept thinking as I was watching that his character was oddly similar to the heroine of my favorite book and movie, Scarlett O'Hara. They both were changed so drastically by the lives that they had to live, and after their entire worlds crumbled, the only things keeping them alive were anger and their desire to keep the vows they had made to themselves. Scarlett's was to never be hungry again, and Judah's was to return to Messala for revenge. This epic film was also almost as long as Gone with the Wind so maybe that's why I was looking for similarities.

The chariot race in this movie was, especially for 1959, phenomenal. There were no computer-generated effects, so the actors were literally racing. It was probably 30 minutes long, but I was still too excited to look away even for a second. The scenes with Jesus in the flesh were particularly moving, but it was interesting that while Jesus was rarely mentioned by name, his teachings were, in some way, present throughout the story.

I highly recommend this one for a rainy (or in my case today, snowy) day with enough free time to devote 3.5 hours to a movie.

Rating: 10/10

Big Names: Charlton Heston (quite the hottie)... I don't actually recognize anybody else in this movie, but then again, I don't watch a whole lot of movies from the '50's.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#89 The Sixth Sense (1999)

I skipped ahead a bit on this one, but when Travis said he was willing to watch it with me on Sunday night, I was so excited about not having to watch it alone that I didn't mind.

I was in high school when this came out and I saw it, so this time, I saw it from a very different perspective. Watching Anna lose her husband upset me more since I could imagine myself in her position more easily. The movie also didn't scare me at all. Most of what put me on edge was remembering that something was coming up. Also, with pharmacy school behind me now, of course I noticed that her Zoloft was written for twice-daily dosing (usually once-daily) and the instructions said to take with milk (unnecessary).

Anyways, the movie is well-made, the acting was phenomenal (esp. Haley Joel Osment), and I believe it earns its place in the top 100 movies. I've never seen another suspense/horror movie that deserves a higher spot on the list.

Rating: 9.5/10

Big Names: M. Night Shyamalan (director), Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment (where did he go??), Mischa Barton (the creepy poisoned girl)

Big Lines: I see dead people.

#99 Toy Story (1995)

Obviously I have seen this one already but it had been a while.

I would give a brief summary, but any friend of mine reading this has already seen Toy Story, Toy Story 2, AND Toy Story 3. Since our current Netflix movie is Trav's choice (which we haven't had the time to watch) and it's my day off, I had to go to Blockbuster to look for a movie. I hadn't been in one of those in a long, long time, and now they're so empty it's sad. This movie was probably the oldest one they had. I was looking to rent another movie in the #90-100 range, but there were literally none there. There were about 50 Spongebob movies, though. This is why Netflix does so well.

As for my thoughts on the movie, I love how clever it is and I love Pixar for making movies that are still fun for adults even though they're primarily kids' movies. I like the little things like Woody calling Buzz "Buzz Light Beer" and the realty company being named "Virtual Realty." The Incredibles is still my favorite Pixar movie, though.

Rating: 9/10

Big Names: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Laurie Metcalf (who knew that Andy's mom was Jackie from "Roseanne"??)

#92 Goodfellas (1990)

I've heard a lot of men say that this is one of their favorite movies, but I've never heard a woman say they even like it.

This is based on the true story of a kid in New York, Henry Hill, who wants to grow up to be a gangster. He drops out of school to get involved in the mob, and this story is his messy day-to-day life being in the mob. He eventually pisses off the wrong people, though, so he's left trying to figure out how to keep him and his family alive.

I've noticed that I seem to really like movies that span decades. This one started out in the 1950's and showed his life up until the time he went into the witness protection program in 1989. I've also noticed that I like movies based on true stories. They just mean so much more to me. My dad told me when I first saw The Exorcist that it was a true story, and I swear I didn't sleep well for weeks. (I couldn't have been more than 12 years old.) That movie is STILL the freakiest I've ever seen because if you think that it's 100% true, it's seriously disturbing.

I usually enjoy the little updates at the end of a movie describing what happened to all the characters after the story ended (like in The Sandlot, Drop Dead Gorgeous, etc.), but this one had a line that said something along the lines of, "By the way, Henry and Karen Hill separated in 1989 after 25 years of marriage." It really irritated me because it seemed like they were working together so well in their marriage and understanding each other. Oh, well. I think I'm trying to find a happy ending in a movie that just isn't meant to have that.

Rating: 8/10

Big Names: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta (played Henry Hill and looked quite a bit like Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line once he was drugged up), Joe Pesci, Samuel L. Jackson (small part, but it's weird that he's already been in 2 movies of the top 100 I've seen and he'll be in one of the next few I watch, too -- Pulp Fiction)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

#96 Do the Right Thing (1989)

My first Spike Lee movie!

This is a story of a white Italian family who owns a pizza place in a black neighborhood in Brooklyn. On one hot summer day, a black customer notices that the pizzeria has no photos of black men/women on their Wall of Fame, so he tries to convince everyone in the neighborhood to boycott the restaurant. The racial tension builds throughout the day until everybody decides to go crazy and just go after each other. Netflix definitely lied to me when it told me that this would be a comedy at some point. The one line in the movie that made me laugh was, "I don't fucking curse that much." Oh, and I did enjoy the pizzeria owner going Office-Space-fax-machine on the guy's boom box. I'm sure that wasn't meant to be funny, though.

I can see points of the movie... violence does not solve violence, racism runs deep through generations, and people can generally be idiots who don't think through their actions. I just didn't like that throughout the movie, even before anyone provoked them, absolutely everyone was hateful and violent. There were only two characters who were even close to likable: a drunk bum and the pizza delivery guy's sister, and she only had 10 lines in the whole movie. Also, even though cussing doesn't bother me (note: I don't cuss much myself because I sound like an idiot when I do,) this was out of control. Every other word isn't necessary. It was distracting.

The acting was great, the messages were important, but the movie was just slowwww...

Rating: 4/10

Big names: Spike Lee (directed and played the pizza delivery boy), Samuel L. Jackson, Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence

#97 Blade Runner (1982)

This one got to go first because it was available on my Netflix instant queue.

Not to give too much away, but this is a futuristic movie (set in 2019, ha, 8 years from now) about these machine creations, called replicants, that look just like humans and are used as slaves in colonies off of Earth. They're superior physically, intellectually, but void of any emotions and only live for 4 years. Harrison Ford (kinda a cutie in this one) is a blade runner, whose job is to kill any replicants who come to Earth. When 4 dangerous replicants make it to LA, Harrison Ford has to track them down and kill them.

In general, action movies bore me, and especially sci fi/futuristic ones, with a few exceptions (ahem, Fifth Element). This movie wasn't so bad, though. The love story in it was a pretty unexpected twist, and it was actually cute. There was also a pretty warm fuzzy message at the end about appreciating the life we have and loving life in all forms.

I have to admit, I was distracted by all the "futuristic" things in this movie that were just funny to me like the *extremely* 80's car he drove/flew, the Atari billboards, and the complete lack of cell phones! As for whether I think it belongs in the top 100, I can't really say yet. I'd have to wait to see some other ones ranked in the 90's before I can really compare it to anything.

Rating: 7/10

Big names: Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Edward James Olmos (the Calculus teacher in Stand and Deliver!)

My New Year Starts in February

For years, I've been wanting to expand my horizons when it comes to movie-watching. For the most part, I think of reading books and watching movies as wasted time, mostly because I pick out the cheesy ones that don't really make me think or even hold my attention. In fact, I usually have movies on as sort of background noise while I'm doing other things. When I pick a good one, though, I know it because I can't look away, it keeps me thinking long after it's over, and it actually affects me in some way.

My thought is, though, if I purposely choose to watch the best movies of all time, then they ALL have to be that good, right? I'm sure they won't be, but some of them must be. Here is one of my New Years 2011 resolutions: to watch, or at least to begin watching, the top 100 American movies of all time.

  • I have to watch the entire movie, and NOT to be doing anything else at the same time. No phone, no facebook, no to-do lists, maybe laundry.
  • I'm going to try to watch mostly in order from #100 to #1, but that all depends on what I have on my Netflix instant queue and whether it's Trav's turn to pick out the movie for ourNetflix disc list.
  • Here is the list I'm using:
  • I have to watch ALL of them, and for those I've already seen, I'll be watching them again!

I'll be honest... I'm not a great writer, and I'm certainly not great at reviewing or critiquing movies, so please don't expect too much out of this. I'm really doing this blog for me, so I can document what I've done and so I can remember exactly how I felt after I watched these movies for the first time.

Anyways.... here goes!