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)