The Year Project: 1984 Part 2

This is the second installment of my year project for this month. If you want to know my top ten of 1984, see last week’s post. Now without further ado here are the worst movies (that I have seen) of 1984.

10. Gremlins (dir. Dante)

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So I have to admit that I actually haven’t seen a whole lot of movies from 1984. I was not alive in 1984 and by the time I was of age to watch movies and understand them, this year had fallen out of favor with most cable networks (where I saw a majority of the movies I watched when I was a kid). This is all to say that I actually like Gremlins, just not as much as the other ten that made the top. That is why it is barely on this list. The only real reason I have put it so low is that I remember it being emotionally scarring as a kid. When the gremlins turn into monsters, I nearly lost my shit they were so scary looking.

9. Sixteen Candles (dir. Hughes)


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I am all for a good romantic comedy, but this is not one of them. Sixteen Candles feels like a trial run for Pretty in Pink that would be made in two years. Both star Molly Ringwald. Both show her in high school with a weird sidekick. Both have the main character fall in love with a man who seems unattainable but is easily won over by Ringwald’s charm. There just isn’t any Ducky in this movie. Ducky is what made Pretty in Pink and clearly shows Sixteen Candles as inferior.

8. Romancing the Stone (dir. Zemeckis)

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I actually don’t have any strong feelings about this movie one way or other. It is a simple movie that moves along like clockwork, but sometimes has no life in it at all despite being set in a jungle. Nothing is more lame than a boring romantic comedy.

7. The Terminator (dir. Cameron)

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I have never really been a big fan of James Cameron’s work and this movie has got to contribute to my indifference towards him. Again this movie has no nostalgic pull for me, so I can see it for what it is which is a by the numbers action film with terrible dialogue and special effects that do not hold up to the test of time. I don’t believe that Arnold Schwarzenegger should have ever had an acting career. He lacks the charisma to put in a lead performance, even if the lead character is a robot like creature. He is boring and so is this movie.

6. Nightmare on Elm Street (dir. Craven)

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This movie started an entire franchise that I have managed to avoid for my whole life so far. (I have also never seen any of the Friday the 13th movies) While the concept is cool, never being able to sleep because the killer will come and kill you in your dreams, the execution is sloppy at best. I only found this movie scary when I was a child. As I grew up, I realized just how silly it was.

5. Revenge of the Nerds (dir. Kanew)

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I hate, hate this movie. While this movie is supposed to be pro-nerd, every little bit about it is actually making the opposite statement. The nerds are highly unlikable and annoying, they try to conform to normal society even when they have the ability to stand out and be different, and their adventures are lame at best. All this movie did was popularize pocket protectors.

4. The Karate Kid (dir. Avildsen)

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As you can tell, I was not and will never be a young boy growing up in the eighties. So this movie never once appealed to me. It just isn’t for me and neither are any of its sequels.

3. Footloose (dir. Ross)

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Wow. What an absolutely terrible movie this is. It is so incredibly hammy and full of cringe worthy eighties scenes that it is almost unwatchable. Just Google Kevin Bacon in this movie and take a gander at how tight and ill-fitting his pants are and that is all the proof I need to call this movie a terrible movie.

2. Children of the Corn (dir. Kiersch)

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When I chose this movie to review for the blogathon that I participated in on Monday, I chose wrong. I was not prepared for just how awful this movie was going to be. I had heard strange things about it with some people praising it and other people laughing at the terrible execution, and I have to say to the people who praised this movie are just plain wrong. This movie is very bad. Absolutely wretched. Like dog poop smeared on the bottom of your shoe. Just disgustingly bad.

1. C.H.U.D. (dir. Cheek)

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This movie gets the coveted number one slot for worst movie of 1984, but I have to say I did actually enjoy this movie. It isn’t good, don’t get me wrong. But I enjoyed making fun of it with my boyfriend and talking about just how excruciating every scene was. Just when you didn’t think it could get any worse, they surprised you with yet another fall down the terrible movie well. However this movie is the movie I recommend the most on this list, but only if you are drinking and prepared to make some snide comments. Do not look for quality here, you will not get it.

 

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New Indie Thursday: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

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I first encountered Steve Coogan when he starred in the picture 24 Hour Party People back in college. I was fascinated by Joy Division at the time, so I consumed a rapid amount of media in conjunction with this band. When I watched 24 Hour Party People, I was immediately drawn to Steve Coogan and his fascinating portrayal of Joy Division’s manager, Tony Wilson. He was hilarious, raw and just plain good. So once the movie was done, I hopped on IMDb (per usual) and looked up what else this funny character actor had done. One name stood out (this was before he did a whole of stuff in Hollywood, so it was able to stick out more than it does now): Alan Partridge. As a fan of weird comedy, I put all of his Knowing Me, Knowing You discs on Netflix and stumbled through them as I alternately cringed and laughed my butt off. Alan Partridge was such a terrible person yet in his terribleness made everything absolutely hilarious that I was bummed when I had burned through Knowing Me, Knowing You and I’m Alan Partridge. (As Alan Partridge was popular with both me and my boyfriend, we have rented it many times at our old video store to the point where if I thought hard about it, I could probably quote some lines from it. It is our favorite hobby to replay comic shows like that.) I wanted more Alan Partridge. More than he was willing to give me… Until this year. Imagine my surprise when I started up Netflix on my big screen and saw Alan Partridge (or really Steve Coogan, but let’s be honest, he is better as Alan Partridge) staring at me. I was psyched. A continuation of the downfall of the great talk show host Alan Partridge, starring the original and made with some great British and Irish character actors? Seems like a slam dunk… Unfortunately it is not.

Alan Partridge has slid down the totem pole onto a talk radio station in the middle of England provinces. He hosts a show with an incompetent side kick (who he keeps interrupting and making snide remarks to…) and makes terrible puns before introducing songs. His fellow radio DJs include a bunch of shock jocks and a quiet Irish man who hosts an international music hour. The station gets bought by a conglomerate and wants to remake its image. The Irishman (Pat) looses his job after Partridge tells the board of trustees to fire Pat over himself. Pat snaps and takes the station hostage. Only Partridge can save his fellow radio DJs from a pent-up Pat.

For the first third of the movie, Partridge is in perfect form. The awkward humor is the highlight of almost every scene and Steven Coogan seems to really be enjoying himself. But the moment that Pat takes over the station, the movie devolves into Tropic Thunderitsis. (Tropic Thunder was great for about the first third to half, but ends up being boring by the end of it.) The story is just a series of clichés and boring plot twists that you see coming a million miles away. Comedy lies in subverting plot conventions, not with enforcing them. Partridge is no longer the focus and the movie suffers because of that. There are still some funny moments (like the duct tape hat Pat makes for Partridge’s side kick so that he can easily slip his shotgun in and hold it against his temple but still be able to move around the sound booth), but they are minimal. It is mostly Partridge’s awkward relationship with Pat which produces less jokes than you think it would. Unfortunately I think we need to wait until Steve Coogan wants to do another series to get some really great Partridge jokes again.

Netflix Graveyard: Midnight

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Screwball Comedy is probably one of my favorite genres of classic Hollywood. Outpacing the film noir and the sappy love stories by a huge mile, screwball is where I get the most pleasure. The whirlwind pacing, the million pun jokes, and the physical comedy all make this genre such a freaking pleasure to sit through and re-watch. Claudette Colbert is easily one of the queens of the screwball genre and she earns her crown with Midnight.

Colbert plays an English showgirl stranded in Paris with no money and only her wits and her fine dress to get her by. She befriends a taxi driver named Tibor Czerney. He drives her around town while she vainly tries to find some place she can earn money. As the night goes on, Czerney falls in love with her and tells her that she must stay in his apartment. But Eve (Colbert) has other plans. She gives Czerney the slip and enters a high society ball where she meets Helene Flammarion and her lover Jacques Picot playing cards. While they are in the middle of a game Helene’s husband walks in and interrupts their fun. As Mr. Flammarion observes the party, he is struck by how Picot is paying more attention to Eve than to his lover, Helene. Mr. Flammarion takes Eve aside and commissions her to win over Picot’s heart so that he does not have to divorce his wife. Everything goes well until Tibor comes looking for Eve only to discover that she is using his fake name. Screwball insanity ensues.

Screwball thrives on love triangles. This movie has love triangles in spades. Not only is there the main one between Picot, Eve and Tibor, but there is Eve, Picot and Helene; Picot, Helene and Mr. Flammarion (played brilliantly by John Barrymore) and… well that is it, but still the various love triangles keep the film going and the plot driving. Colbert, Barrymore, and Ameche (Tibor) keep good pace with the shennangans and get all of the great one liners. Meanwhile the two actors playing Helene and Picot are mere stand ins and don’t ever really understand who they are and what they are doing there. This makes little difference because they are rarely on-screen without Colbert and one can’t help but be drawn to that long, lean figure of hers absolutely dazzling in those great dresses. What fascinates me about Colbert is how elegant she manages to look even while she debases herself in the name of comedy. She is wonderful in every aspect and really shines in this role. It is too bad that she insisted on doing any dramatic roles at all because she should never be too far from a prat fall.

Classic Cinema Tuesday: The Story of Louis Pasteur

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A couple of weeks ago, TCM decided to feature Paul Muni in their Summer under the Stars marathon. Paul Muni has always been an actor that I have been intrigued about ever since I saw him in Scarface. His beautiful performance of an overbearing gangster wanting to make as much as possible before getting out of this world struck me as something unique and unseen by my virgin eyes. I then read some pieces on him how he was very famous during his time, but given his penchant for disguises and disappearing into roles, he did not become iconic like Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart. One of these iconic roles that he literally disappeared into was the title character of a biopic called the Story of Louis Pasteur. I had to catch it on TCM and I was so happy that I did.

Louis Pasteur is probably best known for his pasteurization experiment that has become the de facto way to preserve milk and make young immune systems strong and healthy. But he did so much more than that. He helped develop a vaccine for rabies, promoted clean hands in the operating room, and advocated for several sanctions that would ensure the health of farm animals. As with any compelling story, Pasteur was considered radical among his scientist peers and many organizations resisted his ideas until he was able to prove they produced consist results. This movie explores the experiments I mentioned above, but also his relationships with his wife, daughter, daughter’s husband, and his scientist peers.

This movie does suffer from the pedestal trope that plagues so many biopic features. Pasteur is painted as a noble and righteous scientist who can withstand any setback or hurdle including stroke, public denouncement and the ire of his newly married daughter. He must always struggle to get his ideas heard, but these ideas are the best ideas that anyone has ever heard. But it is overcome by Muni’s performance. He pulls you in even on those terribly overwrought scenes where he is lambasting whatever evil he has come up against and gives you a sense of realism and truth. Whether or not Pasteur actually experienced such hardships, had such a devoted wife and developed so many modern medical practices is not questioned when you watch Muni move from scene to scene. He becomes the man and the legend so thoroughly that it is hard to believe that he once played a hard scrabble Italian American gangster in the twenties.

Forgotten Films 1984 Blogathon: Children of the Corn

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This is my submission for Forgotten Films’ 1984 blogathon. When I chose to do this blogathon, I was looking for a challenge. A Challenge that would allow me to get to know what film was like in 1984, one of those film years that people talk about as being one of the great ones. What I got from this movie was more than a challenge, but a bumbling fear of red-headed children and a wonderous why me that crept in about halfway through the movie.

An arrogant and frankly unlikable medical resident and his fiance are traveling to an internship across the country. He travels down unfamiliar roads and stops to get directions. Only after a long and annoying exchange with an old repair man, do they find the right road. But this road leads to a small abandoned town. As they travel down this road, they hit a man. The medical resident goes into action trying to figure out what went wrong when he realized that this man “was dead before he even entered the road” (Yes he does say that and yes that is impossible. He may be dying but a dead person can not walk in front of your car unless they are a zombie and there are no zombies in this picture… At least no intentional zombies.) They load the dead man into a trunk and bring them to a ghost town. But this ghost town is not what they thought. It is full of young kids who have killed all of the adults. These kids terrorize them as the two adults try to find help for the dead man and eventually for themselves. The kids all listen to a young prodigy clergyman named Isaac. He preaches doom and peril for anyone that enters the corn. He also tells everyone that once they reach eighteen, they will be sent to this creature in the corn to die. He has a red-headed henchman named Malachai who does all of his bloody work for him which include terrorizing this medical resident and his fiance by putting corn on their car. Things escalate and the film devolves into a race against time type horror film where the medical resident must save his fiance, all of the children of the town and himself from this creepy and poorly animated presence in the corn.

Just a forewarning I have not read the Stephen King short story this movie is based on. I have however read his comments on this adaptation saying that it was the worst adaptation of his work he has ever seen. I couldn’t agree with him more. This movie is terrible from top to bottom. There is no real suspense, the medical resident is a flat and boring cypher that can’t even muster enthusiasm when his fiance is doing a sexy dance for him, and each event is played for intense horror when it is really comedy. I grew up surrounded by corn fields. I know that they are actually very scary at night and that during the summer you don’t want to be caught in them because it is hard to find your way out. There is a reason that corn mazes are popular around Halloween. But this movie makes corn fields and even terrible children just down right silly. And it is all because of the inclusion of a real monster that lives in the corn. If they had turned it into the children that were doing all of the killing including the ritual killings and Isaac was just crazy it would have been more menacing. But introducing a monster that has no personality or real presence until halfway through the movie just seems like a cop-out. I guess I am a fan of a human horror film as opposed to a supernatural one. Or I just find them more creepy.

I can understand why someone would watch this movie to get a good laugh. The dialogue is almost completely terrible. The horrible acting skills of all the children and most of the adults is fascinating to watch. Each choice that was made was completely wrong. Much like the Room. The only difference between the Room and this movie is that they decided to make sequels to the original. What else is there to explore in this terrible universe? How many times can someone scream at a dead field full of corn before it just becomes repetitive? And most importantly how much more money can you give to the guy who plays Malachai to convince him to not dye his hair? These are all questions that were probably answered ten times over in the millions of sequels this terrible movie spawned. It is too bad that I will never truly know the answers to them.

The Year Project: 1984 Part One

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On Monday I will be participating in a blogathon about the year 1984 and its impact on the film world. I will be reviewing Children of the Corn, an iconic horror movie from that year for a blog called Forgotten Films. I have never seen the movie so wish me luck. (I am kind of nervous about it because I don’t usually like horror movies and children creep me out.) Come back on Monday to check out what I thought about that movie and then again next Friday to see if it made my bottom ten of 1984. Meanwhile check out my top 10 of 1984 and see if any of them compare to your top ten.

10. 28 Up (dir. Apted)

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This is the fourth installment in the iconic Up documentary series created by Michael Apted. Every four years he visits a wide swath of British people to see how they are living their lives and growing up among the changing environment. It is a great experiment with varied results. This installment is probably one of my least favorite ones, just because he is still bent on talking politics with people who have no concrete idea of what is going on in their government. (with a few notable exceptions) This series works best if we can see how the society effects these people’s lives not what they think about it. This movie and this series is well worth your time and effort that it takes to watch every installment (there are now eight almost two-hour movies on these people).

9. Blood Simple (dir. Coen Brothers)

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Blood Simple was the first movie that the Coen Brothers directed. Although I feel like it does feel like they haven’t quite gotten their footing, it is still a great movie with an austere quality like No Country for Old Men. I quite honestly don’t remember a whole lot about this movie except that Frances McDormand is excellent in it and so is John Getz.

8. Broadway Danny Rose (dir. Allen)

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This is a light movie from Woody Allen but it is nonetheless fun and interesting. Allen pokes fun at talent agents and their backwards way of doing business. They schmooze and cajole their acts while they are on the rise but forget about them when they are down on their luck. Allen is able to play a neurotic agent that helps one of his lounge singers with the love affair he is engaged in with great comic timing. Of course Mia Farrow and Woody Allen play off of each other well and their chemistry is palpable.

7. The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (dir. Ritchie)

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This movie is incredibly out there that it must be a work of genius. It combines science fiction with action and great one-liners that border on trash. Buckaroo Bonzai is a multi talented man who must save the world from hostile aliens trying to destroy it. It is fun and absolutely ridiculous at the same time.

6. Ghostbusters (dir. Reitman)

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If you don’t like Ghostbusters, then you are probably a terrible person with no sense of humor. The story is great, the actors are phenomenal and hilarious and the special effects are classic eighties style. I put this on when I need a good laugh.

5. Amadeus (dir. Forman)

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Amadeus is able to take a story about a popular figure, Mozart, and inject it with enough drama to be riveting the entire time. Mozart starts out as a boy genius and this upsets his rival Antonio Saleri who is a grown man composing works for the Hapbsburg dynasty in Austria. Mozart grows up and constantly trumps Saleri’s attempts to make great music almost effortlessly. But Mozart is not without his faults and sees Saleri not as a rival but as a friend that he can lean on in times of trouble. Complex human relationships and rivalry dominate this great movie.

4. Stop Making Sense (dir. Demme)

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Stop Making Sense is easily one of the great concert films of all time. Talking Heads is an inherently theatrical act but this movie gives them a platform to truly manipulate their show. One of the best moments of the film is when David Byrne does an acoustic version of Psycho Killer. Plus who can forget that extremely large suit Byrne dons towards the end?

3. Stranger than Paradise (dir. Jarmusch)

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Stranger than Paradise was only the second movie directed by Jim Jarmusch, but you can hardly tell. It is a fully realized and sparse film that shows off a real sense of style that Jarmusch will become known for in his later features. About a man who must entertain a cousin he has barely met and take her on a road trip to Cleveland and then Florida, it is a great film that explores the concrete universes of each town.

2. Frankenweenie (dir. Burton)

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This short is probably the cutest thing ever made. About a young boy who wants to revive his dead dog, the movie employs stop motion animation in a way that was not seen before. (This was before Burton and Selick’s Nightmare Before Christmas) Not only is this movie incredibly cute, it is also very stylish and one of foundation movies that will inform Tim Burton’s design for the rest of his career with diminishing results.

1. This is Spinal Tap (dir. Reiner)

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I used to watch this movie with my father all of the time. He loves This is Spinal Tap and I have to admit that we finally agree on something. This movie is a hilarious satire of the music scene taking hold at this time and one of the most ingenious scripts ever written (or not written).Gags like the constantly dying drummer, Stonehenge statue that is too small and amps that go up to eleven get me every time.  I am so glad that this movie exists.

Netflix Graveyard: Cassandra’s Dream

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Woody Allen is a director I admire a lot. I think many of his movies are masterpieces that should be studied for their genius and great storytelling. I also admire his work ethic. He is able to write, direct, and release a movie a year for the entirety of this career. This pressure has produced amazing results like Vicky Christina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, Crimes and Misdeamenors, Husbands and Wives, Annie Hall, and Manhattan. It has also produced lackluster dreck that probably should have never seen the light of day. Movies like Scoop, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Deconstructing Harry, Celebrity, and Anything Else are great examples about how lack of creativity can produce terrible results despite a stellar cast and a genius behind the camera. These movies only should be seen by Woody Allen completists who hate themselves (aka me!). Since I hate myself so thoroughly I can now add another movie to the terrible Woody Allen list: Cassandra’s Dream.

On paper this movie should work and work well. It has a stellar cast, with Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell playing the main characters and Sally Hawkins and Tom Wilkinson rounding out the supporting cast. It has an interesting premise: two brothers who want to get rich quick (McGregor and Farrell) must commit a crime for their uncle (Wilkinson). This decision will ripple through their lives and tear apart every relationship they have ever had. The hook of this movie is that one brother is a Cockney mechanic and the other is a resturanteur who pretends to have a lot more money than he does. This gritty world versus fake upper class world dynamic falls completely flat and isn’t used to its greatest potential.

Throughout the whole film, something just seems completely off. There is a tone that isn’t quite getting hit in the right area. When it is supposed to be full of tension, the air comes out of the sails by weird framing or odd language choices. When it is supposed to be a picture of ideal life, the picture turns sort of morose in its distance from the subjects. I don’t think this is helped by Philip Glass’s score. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Philip Glass and his moody organ like music. It always seemed to studied and clinical for me. There isn’t ever any truly felt emotion, just a copy of one. (I know my opinion is controversial… Please don’t slaughter me Glass heads. I think that his scores can be effective given the right director) The music he plays throughout the film feels overpowering, morose and just plain depressing even when we see a happy moment together.

I would only recommend this movie if you are a much suffering completist like I am. I warn you stay away from the pox that is Cassandra’s Dream.

Classic Cinema Tuesday: Our Man in Havana

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In the fifties, Cuba was a radically different place. Sporting a corrupt government with ties to both the United States and Britain, it was a pleasure ground for the very rich to vacation in an exotic locale and a terrible place for the poor to have any sort of employment at all. Many people from both the United States and Britain immigrated to Cuba and set up businesses that catered to the high-end (read: white) clientele. Our Man in Havana concerns a British man who is in the vacuum cleaner business. The high political tension and the covert espionage of this period was enough to sweep even this innocent man into the entire mess.

James Wormold is just an ordinary vacuum cleaner salesman with a daughter. He is having money troubles because he wants to provide a good life for her daughter but she has expensive tastes (mainly horses). One day a mysterious cloaked British man enters the shop and gives Wormold a proposal. He wants to recruit him into the spy business, but neglects to give him any training or advice. Just a deadline and money. But by accepting that money, he must deliver some information. So he produces a sketch he had made of a vacuum cleaner and claims it to be bomb testing site. Meanwhile, Wormold’s daughter, Milly, makes friends with a Cuban general at the stables and he does nothing but hit on her constantly and make Wormold paranoid. Once the British get a hold of the documents, they consider it the most valuable evidence they have ever gotten and take it at face value. They send a witty young woman, Beatrice, to act as his secretary and to make sure everything he is getting is right. Meanwhile the Cuban government gets wind of Wormold’s activities and goes on a hunt for him that includes getting his friend, Dr. Hasselbacher, into trouble. Wormold must now get out of a severe pickle while also maintaining a level of calm for Milly.

So far I have neglected to tell you the people behind the picture. This is important because of who these people are. Carol Reed and Graham Greene reunite with this movie and serve as director and writer respectively. Their most famous collaboration was the Third Man, considered to be a noir masterpiece. Playing Wormold was Alec Guinness, who has the best stone face since Keaton. Dr. Hasselbacher is Burl Ives, Beatrice is Maureen O’Hara, and Noel Coward (the director) is the recruiter at the beginning. Without any of these people, this movie would have been terrible. But Guinness, O’Hara, Greene, Reed, Ives, and Coward are all able to bring a sardonic wit to this movie that is refreshing and unique. They elevate the material and give it an absurd bent. But most of all they are able to shed light on the problem of the spying game and how terrible misinformation can be to the fate of one person (although maybe not the whole country).

While the movie hints at rising political tensions, the movie was made overtly during them. The Cuban was happening as the film was being shot on location in Havana. Castro allowed this movie to be filmed there for  reasons that are unknown, given his followup to the movie wrapping up that there will no longer be a safe way to get in and out. Castro also made overt threats to the United States thus ensuring Hollywood would never venture that world again (at least not on location.)

Where the Buffalo Roam

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Last week I professed my love for an old classic novel. Well, I am not just a one trick pony. I also have an inordinate affection for Hunter S. Thompson arguably the exact opposite of the Bronte sisters and their gothic romance universe. Thompson is the ultimate rebel and heady journalist. He is able to exact beautiful language from strange situations that he puts himself into. Thompson isn’t afraid to push himself nor the people around him. His persona and his writing attracts the rebellious crowd and he has become a much revered representative of alternative writing. With such a high-profile and crazy stories, it is obvious that the movie industry wants to take a hold of him and film his exploits through actors and a hodge podge of his own stories. These projects attract actors seeking to prove themselves by disappearing into his affectations and crazy directors trying to realize a crazy pipe dream. It usually does not turn out well. You cannot fully capture the spirit of an animal so wild and free on the front page. Where the Buffalo Roam tries to  combine several of his stories into one large continuing narrative. The story of Thompson’s lawyer, Lazlo, appears in several stories of his but then drifts back out as just as abruptly. This movie attempts to piece together these stories in a coherent and straight forward way. What is achieved is far from a unique movie.

Thompson, played by Bill Murray, has an appointment with Lazlo, his lawyer. He meets him at a the courthouse which gives Thompson a chance to observe Lazlo fight the unfair fight first hand. Lazlo represents a series of hippies who have been caught with pot. He defends them with colorful language and grand gestures, only to be ignored by everyone and his clients given severe sentences. Lazlo now vows that he will never come back to court ever again. Instead he goes off with Thompson on a bender. Lazlo drifts in and out of Thompson’s life. One moment he is with him in Vegas and the next he is gone. All the while Thompson lives the party lifestyle, always carrying a gun, a bucket of ice and a glass full of whiskey.

The director attempts to understand Thompson’s motivations through Lazlo and he fails miserably. While both are obsessively smart people who like to live in excess, they are actually both quite different. Splitting our time between the two achieves nothing in trying to understand either character. Thompson himself is written as all affectation. Murray just really tries an odd accent and odd things instead of creating an actual character. This leads to a superficial and very boring interpretation of his most iconic works. If you like Thompson, I would skip this movie. It will bring you no joy.

My Top 100 Films of All Time Part Two

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This is a continuation of a post I posted last week.

89. The Act of Killing (dir. Oppenheimer)

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This movie is easily the most interesting and shocking documentary to come along in the last couple of years. About a man who served as a hit man during the revolution of his country, Indonesia, and then receives national recognition for his service, really gets to the core of insane ability of humans to lie to themselves in order to make things tolerable. The cinematography alone is enough to take your breath away.

88. Nightmare Before Christmas (dir. Selick)

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This is a nostalgic pick for me. Believe it or not I had some gothic tendancies when I was in high school (I wasn’t allowed to wear all black or dye my hair to school, so I was only goth in my soul) which involves a heavy obsession with Nightmare Before Christmas. In order to fit in, I memorized this movie front and back and subsequently developed a love for stop motion animation. I also frequented Hot Topic during this time, buying up all of the Jack Skellington my meager allowance would allow. I still look back fondly on this movie. It might be my favorite Tim Burton movie.

87. Man Bites Dog (dir. Belvaux)

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Man Bites Dog is a harrowing experience. A mockumentary about a serial killer actually killing people on screen, it is sometimes very hard to watch. Once you have completed this movie, you will have realized just how truly terrible most found footage horror movies are today. This movie is not just about the serial killer but also about the viewer’s propensity to see violence and destruction and relish in it. It is a fantatstic movie.

86. The Blue Angel (dir. von Sternberg)

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I first saw this movie in a History of Film class and was the only one to like it and I am still proud of that fact today. I loved this movie because of one reason: Marlene Dietrich. This movie was her breakout performance and the one that got the attention of Hollywood studios. She oozed sex and grace in this movie and her vicious ability to completely destroy a teacher’s boring life made for some interesting viewing. There is one scene in the movie that I sticks with me still and it is a simple scene. In order to show time passing, von Sternberg had the teacher burn pages of the calendar with a hair iron. It is so simple and yet so ingenious. Man I would like to watch this movie right now.

85. Army of Shadows (dir. Melville)

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I have already written about one Jean-Pierre Melville movie, but he appears on here several times so get used to seeing his name. This movie is a different type of movie for him in that it is not strictly about gangsters, although the characters are treated as if they were. Melville worked for the Resistance in France during World War II and decided to make this movie as a testament to this time. It follows a Resistance fighter gets caught and interred in a camp. He manages to escape only to rejoin the Resistance again and keep on doing the work. This movie isn’t about the grand adventures of Resistance fighters, but about the mundane day-to-day activities and fears they have about getting caught. In other words a pure Melville film.

84. Dark Victory (dir. Goulding)

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Aw man. What a declicious melodrama Dark Victory is. Bette Davis stars as a socialite diagnosed with a brain tumor. She is vivacious and strong headed so naturally the doctor who works on her falls madly in love with her. Her strength and their love drive this film and make it one of the best performances of Davis’ career. It is so romantic. I apparently have a soft spot for romance movies… sue me.

83. Gold Rush (dir. Chaplin)

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This movie is a Chaplin classic. Everything that you know about Chaplin is in this movie. His dancing roll dance, him eating a shoe, the massive amounts of snow that infiltrates his one room shack are all here. This movie is a joy to watch but it also gives you a sense of the insane amount of hardship people put themselves through just for a chance to get rich on gold.

82. Winter Light (dir. Bergman)

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Winter Light is probably one of Bergman’s most austere movies. It follows an emotionally closed off priest who is questioning his faith in God while also trying to serve his congregation and fend off the love of a homely school teacher. This one sided love affair produces one of the most heart wrenching scenes where the teacher writes to the priest. She looks directly in the camera in a medium shot and says the lines of her letter as if the priest were sitting directly across from her. Her voice is so full of emotion and her piercing stare is so unflinching that it quickens my heart and makes me instantly resentful of the priest who rejects her love without so much as a second thought. This is a beautiful film full of complex ideas and wonderful performances.

81. Swing Time (dir. Stevens)

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This is easily one of the sweetest movies ever made. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire have an easy chemistry together that floats through their extended dance sequences, screwball like dialogue scenes and their great songs that they sing. Everything they do together is just fantastic. This movie instantly lifts up my spirits every time I put it on.

80. Battleship Potemkin (dir. Eisenstein)

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Battleship Potemkin is required viewing for anyone interested in the evolution of film and the mechanics of filmmaking. The Odessa stairs sequence is incredibly iconic and an ingenious use of montage. It is still iconic for a reason: it is arresting. Eisenstein was a genius that should have had a more prolific career that constantly pushed the envelope of medium of filmmaking. Unfortunately Russia was in a weird state at the time he was alive and he was only able to make a film every once in awhile and mostly under strict circumstances. What a freaking shame.