Friday, October 30, 2009

My favorite directror picks his favorite scary movies

Martin Scorsese, AKA The Man AKA Sir Critic's favorite director has listed 11 favorite scary movies in a great column for The Daily Beast.

I would say that I'm sorry that I haven't seen many of his choices - but I'm not sorry. That just means there's more for me to discover.  So I look forward to someday seeing Isle of the Dead, The Uninvited, The Entity, Dead of Night, The Changeling and  Night of the Demon.

Here is my commentary on his selections that I have seen.

The Haunting: The kind of mess-with-your-head horror that we see too rarely these days. If you've only seen Jan de Bont's lousy remake, I pity you. But besides it's scary pleasures, the movie does offer the added kick of seeing Russ Tamblyn play kind of a tough skeptic, only one year after playing a Jet in West Side Story, also directed by Robert Wise.

The Shining: It's never been one of my absolute favorites, but I do quite like the film. For me, the most eerie part of the movie is not what we see but what we hear - the sound of Danny's Big Wheel moving on and off the carpets. Brrr.

The Exorcist: Well-deserved, as long as its the original and not "The Version You've Never Seen" with a lame ending that ruins the mood at the end.

The Innocents: Truly unnerving and unsettling tale of a governess (Deborah Kerr) frightening by some very troubling children. One of its best features is the eerie cinematography by Freddie Francis, who later shot Cape Fear for Scorsese. Many shots slowly dissolve away, creating a startling "ghostly" effect.

Psycho: Well, YEAH! Plus it helps I've met Janet Leigh.

Now I'm off to watch some scary movies on my DVR/DVD player. Selections include the The Bad Seed, the 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Bad and the Beautiful.

OK, that last one's not a horror movie but it does have a great scene in which the characters talk about making a scary movie.

Viewing recommendation: TCM has a GREAT triple play on Halloween. At 3:30 they will play the Scorsese-narrated documentary about Val Lewton, the great low-budget horror producer. Following that are two of Lewton's finest, Cat People and Curse of the Cat People. The original Cat People rips the remake to shreds, and the sequel - the first movie directed by Robert Wise - is  in many ways is even more fascinating and chilling. Do yourself a favor and check them out.

What scary movies will you/did you  watch for Halloweeen?

Note: After the jump, check out three YouTube clips I've found of Scorsese talking about his favorite movies. It plays like a condensed version of his essential documentary, A Personal Journey through American Movies.

Was I wrong about 'This is It'?

After Michael Jackson died in June, on my original blog, I expressed honest but pointed misgivings about the so-called "King of Pop" -  a post that caused quite a bit of consternation.

Then, when it was announced that the rehearsal footage was going to be made into a theatrical film, I recoiled. The whole enterprise seemed ghoulish to me, and I didn't want to see it.

But then the reviews came in for This Is It.

Wow. Granted, the Metacritic score isn't the greatest, but there are an awful lot of raves - including one from Roger Ebert, my favorite critic.  And this review by Michael Wilmington on Movie City News makes for fascinating reading, especially when he compares Jackson to Judy Garland, one of my all-time favorites:

It’s a fact that some great entertainers are only truly at home and only really live out their lives fully on stage (or screen) -- and chief among them were both Jacko and that other great child star turned incandescent show biz diva, Judy Garland. If Michael lacked that eventual maturity of a Bing, a Frank, or even a John and Paul, what he did have, in spades, was Judy’s supreme stage magic, and show biz chops --  in his case, a little more in his dancing (in a class by itself) than in his singing. He also had her overwhelming vulnerability and, it seems, some of her talent for self-destruction.
It’s fitting that, like Judy, Michael played in a movie musical based on The Wizard of Oz (The Wiz), though they gave him the wrong role. Instead of the Scarecrow, Jacko would have been much better as a male Dorothy. (Diana Ross should have been Glinda.) If Michael was no Elvis, he was no Ray Bolger either. But like Garland, he was the monarch of dreamland and master of the rainbow, child/ruler of the arena -- probably most alive when the band started playing and the fans started screaming.

Even though I was never a great fan of Jackson's, I did miss that era when what he did seemed so effortless and otherworldly. It looks like maybe the movie brings some of that back. I guess there's only one way to find out - I have to change my mind and see it after all.

What about you? Have you seen This is It? Will you? Have the reviews changed your mind? Oh, and who wants to bet that "two weeks only" run gets miraculously extended?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Killing Sacred Cows - My Fair Lady

The news that Keria Knightley and her Pride & Prejudice/Atonement director Joe Wright will remake My Fair Lady no doubt has many movie fans screeching in protest.

In most cases, I would side with the protests - but not this time. I've never liked My Fair Lady.

There, I said it. Best Picture my ass.

It's not the best film of 1964 by a long shot. Hell, it's not even the best musical film of that year - there are two that are decidedly superior: Mary Poppins and A Hard Day's Night. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm sure a lot of people who know me are going to cry Beatle bias on that one. Sue me. I ain't the only one.)

In many ways it pains me to say this. I love movie musicals. I love Audrey Hepburn. I love most of the movies I've seen directed by George Cukor. But they were way off their games on this one.

A large part of the problem is that Lerner & Lowe musicals as a rule, leave me cold. Brigadoon aside, their movie musicals just don't sing for me. Gigi is uncommonly stiff for an  MGM musical, especially one directed by Vincente Minnelli. Camelot literally put me to sleep. And the parts of Paint Your Wagon I've seen are howlingly bad.

Cukor's direction of My Fair Lady is so lethargic that much of the movie looks exactly like what it is - a big expensive, filmed play. If you want to see what Cukor can really do with a musical, watch his 1954 version of A Star is Born, which thoroughly outclasses My Fair Lady in EVERY respect: story, score, visuals and performances. Yet it doesn't get nearly the love My Fair Lady does. That is simply unjust and wrong. This number, "The Man That Got Away" blows anything in My Fair Lady off the screen:

And the usuallly glorious Hepburn was flat-out miscast as Eliza Doolittle. Sure, it's easy to see her as a regal, princess-y type (Roman Holiday, anyone?) but I absolutely do not buy her as a guttersnipe. She's just not convincing as a street rat.

And then there's the "singing." I know Hepburn didn't have the operatic tone to tackle the songs, but Marni Nixon's voice and Audrey Hepburn's face simply do not match. It makes me wish for the much simpler pleasures of the endlessly superior Funny Face, or of the "Moon River" scene of Breakfast at Tiffany's in which she did her own singing and was beguiling. Watch and listen.

And it's not just me who feels the Lady is not all that Fair. Michael Gebert writes in The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards:

All the skill of Forest Lawn has gone into making the embalming job seem as lifelike as possible, with the result that the hit Broadway musical is transferred to the screen in an amazing simulation of the revival tour 20 years later, when everybody would be too old and bored for their parts.

Charles Matthews, author of Oscar A to Z, opines,

"Size isn't everything, and the delights of the movie .. are weighted down quite a bit by the opulent sets and costumes."

And I mostly agree with Ty Burr, when he writes  in his book The Best Old Movies for Families

At 170 minutes, Lady is  a stagy haul, but it's become such an institution, most people assume it's a four-star classic. It isn't, but the songs are cute and you won't be able to avoid it.

Actually, I usually make a point of doing just that.

Note: This is the first in a series of posts in which I dare to counter popular opinions of a movie. Coming soon - my take(down) of a certain 1939 movie I don't give as much of a damn about as most people do.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DVDs/What Are You Watching? - October 27, 2009

(Apologies for the lateness of this post. I experienced technical difficulties) 


Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: I liked the first movie but borderline hated the second, so I didn't bother with the third. Did I miss anything.

Orphan: Despite the fact that this was directed by the same man who made the House of Wax remake with Paris Hilton (insert grimace here). Still, I was intrigued because Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga are the leads. Then I found out what the twist was. (Grimace worsens)

Whatever Works:  Woody Allen’s latest film loses its way whenever it focuses on anybody besides the two leads of Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood, who form an improbable but endearing romance. Still, David and Wood are front and center often enough to put the movie across, and David makes a great surrogate Allen. Not up to Match Point, but better than, say, Small Time Crooks. GRADE: B

What Are You Watching

Ramping up for the horror marathon I attended, I decided to watch two horror-ish titles.

The Fearless Vampire Killers: Truly bizarre horror comedy directed by Roman Polanski, who amusingly cast himself as a bumbling assistant to a professor who end up crashing a vampire party. The film's not quite as funny as it seems to think it is, but it's still entertaining - and history has made it eerie, considering Sharon Tate (Polanski's wife, who would fall victim to the Manson family) is the female lead. TCM, showing their usual knack for canny programming, played a vintage promotional short about Tate right after the movie, and watching that was sad and even more chilling than the movie itself. GRADE: B

Videodrome: Since it relies so heavily on VHS as is reason d'etre, David Cronenberg's film about death by VCR  is more than a little dated by now, but its power to shock remains intact, thanks to a strong performance by James Woods, Cronenberg's expert mood-setting, and special effects that are still surprisingly effective. GRADE: B+

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Post-mortem - My Ohio Horrorfest experience

So what's it like to sit in a movie theater for half a day? I'll show you.

Granted, attending movie marathons is nothing new to me. I'd been through one horror-thon in Columbus before, and I've attended several scu-fi marathons, also in Columbus. And most of those lasted a full 24 hours - so this marathon of seven features was shorter, but no less enteraining.

The fun starts with the trailers, in good quality digital projection - a good sign. Trailers include, Ju-On (the Japanese original which I'd love to see  - the American remake, The Grudge, was lame) Saw (the original, which I'd still like to see, despite the allegedly diminishing returns of that series ) Alien, The Stepfather (the original), The Blair Witch Project and Slither (which is great for a marathon crowd - that should play here if it hasn't already.)

And now for our first movie ...

The Birds - Still utterly chilling, especially in a theater. Print in  great shape, although the sound is a bit spotty - which is too bad, considering the sound is so important in this movie. It's also fun to see with an audience - except when some people start laughing at inappropriate times, like when birds are attacking children. SO Hee-larious that.  I'd like to see a bird attack them and then see how funny they think it is. But then, some people in these audiences have all the maturity and brain power of a newly laid egg. GRADE: A

Next group of trailers - these will be simple lists because they came thick and fast.

My Bloody Valentine (ho-hum)
Night of the Living Dead
Lady Frankenstein (w/Joseph Cotton!)
Beyond the Darkness
Beyond the Door
The Night Child
The Legend of the Wolf Woman
Several "Living Dead": trailers, one offering free interment in an asylum
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
The Hitcher (remake)

The House of the Devil - The premiere of the 'thon is a disappointment. Starts off well, creating a nice air of suspense when a girl desperate for money takes a shady babysitting job and things get messy from there. The finale turns literal and obvious, undermining what could have been a solid little B movie. Instead it's a grade below.  GRADE: C

When I go to get concessions, a number of people call me Sir Critic - nice to see my name still precedes me!

Next it's sostume contest time. In my 'thon experience, this is tradiitonally won either by the cute kid or the girl exposing the most skin.

We have: A disembowled zombie bride, a nerd zombie, green man (he kinda looks like one of those visaul effects dummies on a Star Wars green screen), a pirate zombie, Shaun of the Dead survivors, Max from Where the Wild Things Are and a bat. Zombies are clearly "it" this year.

Max has some very loud screamers - wild things, I guess you could say - and Max wins! So in a way, even though I don't think the winner was an actual kid, she was playing one, so - told ya!

More Trailers

Babysitter Wanted
Tourist Trap
The Addams Family
Addams Family Values (superior to the first)
Urban Legend
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (one of the stupidest horror titles ever)

Re-Animator - I had never seen this film, and I can see why it has the reputation it does. Great fun that's neither too serious nor too goofy - it cleverly walks the line between scary and satrical. Great performance by Jeffrey Combs in the title role. I wonder, though  did Bernard Herrmann's estate sue the composer? They should have - talk about a blatant Psycho score rip-off! GRADE: B+

Fatigue definitely starting to sink in ....

Still More Trailers

Silence of the Lambs
Happy Birthday to Me
The Fog (remake-ugh)
Urban Legends 2
Saw 2
28 Weeks Later
Halloween (remake -P-UKE)

Shaun of the Dead  - I think this movie is great fun, but since I had seen it before, I don't feel so bad about sleeping through most of it.  Great choice for the 'thon, although personally, I like the follow-up film by the same team, Hot Fuzz, even better.

Even more trailers ...

Saw 3
Curse of the Cat People (I would LOVE to see this or the original Cat People at a future 'thon -textbook examples of great low-budget shockers)
Serial Mom
Cat people
Saw 6
Last House on the Left (remake)

Repulsion - Roman Polanski's first English language film stars Catherine Deneuve, who, shall we say ... has a problem relating to men. Some people in the crowd complained that "nothing happened" and they "didn't get it." Their loss. This was my favorite film of the marathon. It's an eerie and extremely unsettling psychological drama of a woman driven over the edge of madness, with great camerawork by Gilbert Taylor, who has a fascinating filmography, including A Hard Day's Night, Dr. Strangelove, Frenzy, and a little film called Star Wars.  GRADE: A

Friday the 13th - I have never, and I will never, understand the appeal of this series, or of the original movie, which is really slipshod, amateur hour bullshit. Borderline incompetent. So I bailed and went to have pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.

Last group of trailers ...

Black Sunday (this is NOT the Super Bowl in jeopardy movie, but a 1960 Mario Bava movie)
Friday the 13th remake  (zzz)
Nightmare on Elm Street - upcoming remake (You know, I'd like to believe this will be good. There's a chance it will be, with Jackie Earle Haley in the lead - but given the less than impressive output of Platinum Dunes, I can't bring myself to be encouraged)

Night of the Living Dead - Unfortunately, given my unsteady consciousness, the title applies to me pretty well (although really, the title should be Morning of the Living Dead since the sun is up by now). I sleep through much of the movie, but what I do see reminds me of how potent it still is. For my money, still the ultimate zombie movie.

And so the marathon comes to an end. As I head out the door, I'm asked to pick out a prize, most of which are Halloween trinkets. I pick out a "monk's cross" - after all, I figure, my dad is a Franciscan friar, so it sorta fits. Or  maybe I can bring it with me to the next Uwe Boll movie I see.

Till next year ...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Live blog dead

I'm sorry to report live blogging will not work. No wi-fi here. Most unpleasant suprise. Apologies to all. But I will write my thoughts as I go along and post them later. Please check tomorrow afternoon. (Posted via phone. NOT conducive for live blogging.)

Live-blogging - horrors!

As I mentioned earlier, I will be attending the Horrorfest tonight near me - but will I just be watching a bunch of movies? Oh, no!

I'll be bringing my laptop with me, and as long as my power supply holds out, I'll be live-blogging, reviewing the movie and reporting on the wild and wooly goings-on that usually are inherent with such marathons! I'll submit my first post after the first movie, Hitch's The Birds, at about 11:30  and continue throughout the evening/morning. (Between the movies, of course - I wouldn't want to be rude or anything!)

Follow me - if you dare! (Insert evil cackle, followed by hacking cough).

To get in the mood, I present the trailer for The Birds - one of my ALL-TIME favorites!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Suspense movie? Horror movie? Which is which?

This weekend, I'm heading to HorrorFest III at the Little Art Theatre in the little town of Yellow Springs near little old me. Looking at their lineup ....

(Begin echo-y "recorded in a vault" voice) 

I got to thinking ,,,,

(End echo-y "recorded in a vault" voice) 

Just what IS a horror movie anyway?

Sometimes it's easy to tell. Any of the Saw movies? Sure. The original Night of the Living Dead? Oh, yeah. The Exorcist? Again, gets my vote for the scariest movie of all time.

But then there are movies, and certain directors, who blur the lines. The Birds, for instance, is in the 'thon, but I've never really thought of if as a horror movie - I call it a "suspense thriller." Same goes for Psycho, even though it's often referred to as a "horror" film. Maybe that's just because Hitch was and is the Master of Suspense, so I have a hard time thinking of any of his movies as "horror." 

Is it buckets o' blood? Psycho and The Birds are two of Hitch's bloodier efforts, but I don't think blood alone makes a horror movie. I feel pretty comfortable calling John Carpenter's original Halloween "horror" but most of that movie's effectiveness relies on Hitchcockian suspense, not actual blood and guts.

The Silence of the Lambs had a fair amount of blood in it, and it certainly gave me the shakes, but I've never called it a "horror" movie either, but a "psychological thriller." And what about Paranormal Activity? Or Blair Witch? Both are called horror but have very little actual blood.

By now I've confused myself, but hopefully I'm not confusing you. I pose the queries: What, to you, makes a horror movie? When does a "suspense thriller" cross the line into being a horror film?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Worrying too much about kids at the movies

There's been an awful lot of fuss in the media lately about whether Spike Jonze's film Where the Wild Things Are (reviewed here) is too intense for kids. USA Today devoted this much-commented upon article to the subject. A blogger at EW seemed a bit surprised that she took her kids to the movie and it caused them very little consternation.

And the talk isn't just about Where the Wild Things Are. This post on the (mostly) Disney-devoted Web site Jim Hill media wonders aloud if Robert Zemeckis' animated version of A Christmas Carol is too intense for the little ones.

The overriding problem to me seems to sheer parental laziness.  Where the Wild Things Are and A Christmas Carol are both rated PG. That should be your first clue that these aren't the sorts of movies design with a yippy-skippy! attitude. But (cue deep trailer voice) in a world where parents blithely take their kids to R-rated features, such ignorance is not exactly surprising.

News flash, folks: There's this amazing tool called the Internet that makes it really easy to find out information about movies. One of the most helpful I've seen is Screen It, which gives you very detailed information about the content of a movie, and most commendably, reviews the movies APART from whether they're appropriate for kids or not. Here's their take on Where the Wild Things Are, which I find I cannot abbreviate to Wild Things without conjuring up images of a movie most inappropriate for children.

Second  tip? Trust your child. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking, I think kids are made of sterner stuff than we often realize. So many expect them to crumble into bawling blobs at even the slightest provocation, and more often than not, it doesn't happen. After all, Disney has been traumatizing children for generations with its G-rated fare, and I don't think the mouse has created TOO many strait-jacket models.

While I'm loath to give Access Hollywood kudos, I loved this quote in USA Today:

"(Where the Wild Things Are) shouldn't be a surprise to anyone," says film critic Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood. "You can't hire a visionary director and expect his movie to be another Alvin and the Chipmunks."

Do a little research. Know your kid. Trust your kid. It's called being a parent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Eyes bulge, jaw drops

OK, I'm a little late getting to this one, but um ....

Wow. GOOD wow.

Do you rent from brick and mortar stores anymore?

On my way home recently, I passed by the video store nearest me, a Family Video, and their sign said something like "Many titles rent free."

"Boy, they must be desperate," I thought to myself. Then it occurred to me - I could not for the life of me remember the last time I went into an actual video store to rent a movie. Nowadays, if I'm going into Blockbuster (a company I tend to dislike), I'm going in there to see if they're selling rental copies dirt cheap.

And heck, a lot of times you can buy new (as in never sold) DVDs dirt cheap. Rummaging through Best Buy recently, I was delighted to discover they were having a sale on Warner Bros.' terrific two-disc sets. I picked up Heat and The Searchers for $20, which would not have purchased me ONE of those titles in the past. As an added bonus, I found the two-disc A Fish Called Wanda for $7.  

Of course, it has long been established that I'm far from Joe Average as a moviegoer. I'm more like Joe Extraordinary, or Joe Offbeat, if you prefer. Since I see most movies in theaters, I rent movies mostly to catch up on older titles. And when it comes to older titles, the selection in most brick and mortar stores is piteous.

For catalog titles, Netflix is a dream. And on the rare occasion that I need a new movie in a hurry, Redbox works fine for me.

The only reason I can think of to go to a brick and mortar store is if you're going with someone, particularly a child, it might be fun to shop with them and let them pick out a title. But such circumstances rarely apply to me.

So do you go to brick and mortar stores anymore? If so, why? If not, why not?  Do you foresee brick and mortar stores crumbling down soon? Will you miss them if/when they do?

Monday, October 19, 2009

DVDs/What Are You Watching? - October 20, 2009


Imagine That: Never mind imagining. I'd rather remember a time when Eddie Murphy really did make funny movies.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: (Eric laughs hysterically for 17 minutes. His face then freezes into an impaasve mask, with all the expressiveness of Megan Fox.)

Um, no thanks. Once was about 4,042 times too many. Here's why. GRADE: D

What Are You Watching?

Grand Hotel: The only movie that ever won the Best Picture Oscar and no other Oscars doesn't quite feel so worthy of that prize today. The dramatics are a little soapy and over the top - as far as multi-character MGM dramas  go, I much prefer George Cukor's Dinner at Eight. Still, I was surprised to see how visual the film was, and it's impossible to deny a cast that includes both Lionel and John Barrymore, plus Wallace Beery, Joan Crawford (when she was actually attractive and appealing) and Lewis Stone. And there's one Greta Garbo, who gave us her immortal "I want to be alone" line in this film. Not inconsiderable, that. GRADE: B+

What have you all seen lately? 

REVIEW: Paranormal Activity

So is Paranormal Activity the scariest movie EVER????

Of course not. I would say it's the scariest movie this year, but that doesn't mean much when the horror genre isn't exactly creative these days.

What I will say, however, is that it got to me – not to the point where I'll start sleeping with one eye open, but this imaginative little movie  did make me ponder just why something scares me.

Paranormal Activity's obvious antecedent is The Blair Witch Project – both films are supposedly "found footage" made on the cheap that reveal something eerie and terrifying. And both movies were promoted by ingenious Internet campaigns.

Blair Witch suffered a backlash, partly because of its ambiguous ending, I think – not only does it not answer every question, it also doesn't feature gallons of spurting blood, which let down the gross-out crowd.  I've always said screw the backlash – Blair Witch worked for me, largely because I consider the woods in the dark a terrifying place, whether there's really a coven out there or not.  For someone who trips and falls easily, the woods are not fun when things are constantly wrapping around your feet.

The new movie is about a woman (Katie Featherstone) who's been hearing strange noises all her life and believes some kind of demon is out to get her. Her skeptical boyfriend (Micah Sloat) wants to capture the hauntings on camera – and what the camera sees is increasingly unnerving.

Although Paranormal Activity operates in much the same way as Blair Witch it didn't scare me as much. At first, I thought it was because I don't really believe in that kind of haunting. I've never seen convincing evidence of it, so it's not one of my personal fears.

Now, looking back at that paragraph I just wrote, I think to myself – "Wait a minute. The Exorcist is about demonic possession too, and that still gets my vote as the scariest movie of all time. How come that movie chills me to my core every time I see it, but Paranormal Activity didn't have the same effect?"

The answer, I realized, is because it's not the fear of demons that's the key – it’s my lack of fear of things that go bump in the night. Those sorts of bumps rarely bother me. I live in a 46-year-old house that makes all sorts of noises.  Although I have the occasional bout of insomnia, sleeplessness doesn't faze me much either.

Make no mistake, though – Paranormal Activity still chilled me, for the most important reason of all. I found the people interesting and was scared because they were scared. Their fear rubbed off on me.

I've heard people complain the film doesn't work because "nothing happens" – although for me, that very nothingness was what made it frightening. When the camcorder's time clock, in fast motion, reveals Katie standing at the edge of her bed, virtually motionless for an hour or so – that made my skin crawl.

The much ballyhooed ending, suggested by one Steven Spielberg,  is effective, but a bit too literal for my taste. I would have cut off the last shot earlier and left more to the imagination, but Paranormal Activity messed with my head enough that I'm still thinking about it days later. That's the mark of a horror movie that's actually scary.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

REVIEW: Where the Wild Things Are

Sometimes even a good movie can be a bit of a disappointment. Such is the case with Spike Jonze's Where The Wild Things Are.

At times, the movie soars - but only at times. A movie based on such a beloved book and a movie made by this much talent should soar all the time. The movie has too many lulls, and they keep it from being the classic it should have been - but there are enough high points to make it well worth seeing.

I was especially curious to see how Jonze would handle his first feature not penned by Charlie Kaufman, he of the labyrinthine imagination who wrote Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, both directed by Jonze. While the plot of Where the Wild Things Are is much simpler and more streamlined, all three movies share something in common - they deeply understand the mind of the misfit, and Max, the hero of Where the Wild Things Are, is one of the great misfits.

The movie's early scenes are the best as we meet Max (Max Records), a lonely little boy with an active mind. He's a rambunctious but lonely, well-meaning boy who wishes someone understood him. He gets some understanding from his loving mother (Catherine Keener), but when even she rails against him, that sends him over the edge and into a place where - well, you know what the title is.

Jonze's restless camera made me feel Max's alienation and isolation, and Jonze gets a soulful performance from Records, who runs the gamut of intense childhood emotions, ranging from the jubilant freedom of a game of war to the paralyzing fear of being left alone. Few movies understand what it's like to be a kid better than this one does.

And yet, when it gets to the wild things, the movie loses momentum. Aside from Max's best friend Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini), the screenplay by Jonze and Dave Eggers never develops the other wild things enough. I wanted to know more about these crazy other creatures running around, but got personalities that were sketchy at best.

Although Jonze directs with great visual energy, his movies tend to lack emotional warmth. As brilliant as Malkovich and Adaptation often were, I  didn't feel for the characters much - a problem I did not feel in the Kaufman-penned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, directed by Michel Gondry. Jonze's emotional detachment hinders this movie to a degree. While Jonze does a great job of putting the viewer in Max's head, he doesn't do enough to establish a sense of wonder or fear. Fantasy worlds in movies should be places you never want to leave, or places you're desperate to get away from, or maybe even both at the same time. A few fleeting moments aside, I felt neither fear nor wonder in the world of the wild things.

Am I glad I saw Where the Wild Things Are? Most certainly. But is it a movie I'll want to revisit again and again? Probably not. I wanted it to be even wilder.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

SAW-ing logs. Zzzzzzzz ...

My apologies for the delay in posting. Alas, furnace problems have bedeviled me. If the karma folks cut me a break, I plan to see Paranormal Activity and/or Where the Wild Things Are today.

In the meantime, I have sort of a placeholder question.

I read the other day that Saw VII and Saw VIII are on the way, and my placeholder question is ...


OK, OK, I know one answer to that, which is "Because they make money."

But again,  WHY????!?!!?!?!??

Seriously, I'd be curious to know the mindset of the moviegoer here. My understanding is that the first Saw was actualy pretty decent, and the rest of them have been progressively less interesting. So if the films are getting worse, why are people still going? Is my overall dislike of the creatively bankrupt horror genre clouding my vision here?

Tell me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kid-lit books to movies: Not a bad track record

The age-old debate of books vs. the movies is so age-old it seems almost pointless to me to debate the topic. Books are books and movies are movies.  Rarely does the twain meeet, and I wish more people, book-lovers and movie-lovers alike, could live with that.

But EW's new foray into the argument, and the imminent release of Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, prompts me to put a new spin on the topic - what about kid-lit books turned into movies?

I looked back on the topic and found that the track record of Hollywood adapting kid's literature to be not too bad at all. Consider this very solid list MSN put together of some of the best examples. The major omission? Mary Poppins.

As for kid-list movies made recently, there are a number of very good ones. There's the outstanding Bridge to Terabithia. There are the Harry Potter films, if you consider Rowling's books kid-lit. Holes also leaps to mind.  So does Kit Kittridge: An American Girl Movie. The movies made from Chris Van Allsburg's books range from good (Jumanji) to even better (Zathura) to truly wondrous (The Polar Express, if seen in IMAX 3D.)

So why was I thinking that the adaptations of kid's books weren't so great? Probably because of the vitriolic reactions to movies based on Dr. Seuss' books. I thought How the Grinch Stole Christmas was barely OK, but I know a lot of people who hate it.  I always tell those people "Hey - you could be watching The Cat in the Hat instead."

The Cat in the Hat. Oh GOD, what they did to that.  (How Seussian of me!)

When I read film writer Anne Thompson's post, wondering if Where the Wild Things Are would make back its reported $100 million budget, I thought to myself, "Hey - if The Cat in the Hat can make $100 million, Where the Wild Things Are had jolly well better, or I will lose faith in the American moviegoing public forever."

But I will give The Cat in the Hat credit for one thing - it inspired me to write one of my best-received reviews.

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.
So I sat in a theater on a cold, cold wet day.

And then something went Boom!
How that Boom sealed my doom!

I looked! Then I saw a film bomb just like that.
I looked, then I saw it, “The Cat in the Hat.”
And I hated this movie like a model hates fat.

I know it’s for kids, but it’s just plain not funny.
I concluded it isn’t worth anyone’s money.
For after some time when I got a good look,
I began to complain, like the fish in the book.

Like the fish, I said, “Ugh! Make this cat go away!
For this ‘Cat in the Hat’ film has ruined my day!
It should not be so shrill; it should not be so rude,
When this cat burps and vomits ’cause he loves to be crude!”

This kind of coarse humor would shame Dr. Seuss,
If I had been he, I’d have blown and let loose
With a stream of complaints about how the film’s crass
And was made with nary a glimmer of class.

“After all,” I cried out with a rant and a rave,
 “Why, Dr. Seuss surely would spin in his grave
At the scene where the cat dons a big derriere
And makes like a plumber, pants slipped down to there!”

Mike Myers’ gags land with loud crashes and thuds,
But that’s what you get when you wallow in crud.
At times he’s so gross and so caught up in dreck,
I’d swear Myers thinks that the cat should be Shrek.

This film’s famed producer had found it a cinch
To make lots of money with a film of “The Grinch.”
But as much as some critics complained it lacked taste,
At least that film’s heart had been in the right place.

The “Cat” movie strains for a lesson to teach
About how to have fun, and it tries hard to preach
The importance of cleaning up after you play,
But amid such foul jokes, this rang hollow, I’d say.

To be fair, I’ll concede that the sets are quite dazzling,
So much so at times they gloss over the frazzling
Of mild crude humor and dumb jokes galore
That the film’s PG rating has brought to the fore.

The kids are good too, I will gladly confess,
Spencer Breslin has risen above all the mess.
And little Miss Fanning with the first name Dakota,
Helped notch my grade up just a teensy iota.

But I still left the film with my head hanging low,
As I thought back on reading the book long ago:
“‘Oh dear,” said the cat, ‘You did not like our game.
Oh dear. What a shame! What a shame! What a shame!’”

Some parents may protest, “Now don’t be so icky.
This movie’s for little ones who aren’t quite so picky.
My children will love it, of that there’s no doubt.
Your kind of critiquing they can do without.”

It’s true that the children may not share my taste,
But don’t take them out to this movie in haste.
There are better films out there, much funnier fare
Like that hit movie “Elf,” and the fine “Brother Bear.”

As for the filmmakers, your sins you’ll atone
As long as from now on, you leave Seuss alone.
If you remember but one thing, remember this most:
Make “Green Eggs and Ham” and that’s it…. you are toast!

This review prompted one of my most memorable reactions. Someone I knew called me about another subject, then mentioned "Oh, I read in your Cat in the Hat review. Normally I just read the first few paragraphs and skip down to the grade, but this time I read the whole thing!"

I was simultaneously gratified and insulted.

I plan to be back this weekend with a review of Where the Wild Things Are. In the meantime, what kid-lit books turned movies stand out in your mind, for good or ill?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TRAILER: Shutter Island (new cut)

Personally, dear readers, I have to say, screw your sense of calm. I present to you the new trailer for Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island.

Although it has a lot of similarities to the first trailer, and both use many of the same shots, I find the effect notably different. Here's the old one, for comparison's sake:

My impression is that the new trailer plays a bit more with the psycholigcal thriller aspect of the story, whereas the first trailer emphasizes the haunted house/ghost story elements.  I prefer the newer approach myself, but either way, I can only lament that we're not able to see this movie right now, as was the original plan, dammit.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What movie(s) would you watch on your birthday?

It's my birthday today as I type this, and I point that out not for selfish reasons, but for a curious one. Yes, I've got a question on my mind.

What is the ideal movie to play on your birthday?

One might think, "Well, that's easy, it's gotta be your favorite movie, right?"

Well, no, not necessarily. If I had to name one movie as my favorite, it would probably be Hitchcock's Vertigo, which I DO love, but I really don't care to have my heart ripped apart on my birthday. If I were to watch something of Hitchcock, it would be something a little less foreboding, like maybe Rear Window, or North By Northwest, or To Catch A Thief, so I can stare at Grace Kelly for hours. (Or Eva Marie Saint, if I go NBNW).

Besides the Hitchcocks, I'm also liable to watch something musical - either the pure bliss of Singin' in the Rain or the adrenaline rush of A Hard Day's Night. I'm sure both come as giant shocks to those of you who know me well.

So what did I watch on my birthday this year? Nothing, I'm afraid. I spent my evening at dinner with my family, then when I got home I blogged for you all instead of watching those movies! Aren't I altruistic?

So what would be the movie you would watch on your birthdays?

Monday, October 12, 2009

TRAILER: Toy Story 3

OK, if you look



and especially  here, and here,

It is a given that I would love this:

What do you all think?

BTW, this is my favorite of the teaser posters:

What Are You Watching? Catching Up on DVDs

Today I resurrect the What Are You Watching Feature on this blog in which I

A) Catch up on DVD releases

B) Tell you what I've watched on the small screen

C) Hopefully read comments about what you all have seen lately.

 So to take care of A)


Dance Flick: The only flick that interests me in the context of this Wayans spoof is the flick of the switch to the OFF position.

Drag Me To Hell: Along with Whip It. this earns the distinction of being The Movie That Got Away. Tremendously entertaining in a retrograde sort of way, it's like Sam Raimi's version of what Tarantino and Rodriguez were trying to achieve with Grindhouse. But it's not all mindless fun - Allison Lohman's performance gives the story some gravity. Warning to home theater owners with subwoofers: Do not turn the soundtrack up too loud or you will A) need to buy new speakers and/or B) Start an earthquake.  Full review - GRADE: B+

Every Little Step: Monumentally entertaining documentary about casting for the recent revival of A Chorus Line. The editing in particular is outstanding. A must-see for anyone even remotely interested in theater.  Full review - GRADE: A

Land of the Lost: I would say I lost my faith in Will Ferrell a long time ago, but then again, I'm not sure I ever had any.

My Life in Ruins: Nia Vardalos is genuinely talented, but she needs either to write or find a good script fast, or her career will live up to the title.

The Proposal: Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock make for such a charming couple, I really wish the rest of the movie was as good as they are. Their charisma makes the movie worth seeing; it's just too bad they're surrounded by dim supporting characters and predictable gags. Full review - GRADE:  B-

Year One: Reviews of this primitive comedy were so toxic I stayed away. So did most everyone else.

What Are You Watching?

The Boys From Brazil: Film adaptations of Ira Levin range from classic (Rosemary's Baby) to slick but empty junk (Sliver). This strange little movie falls somewhere in between the two. At first, its modern-day Nazi story is absorbing and unnerving, and then it gets sillier and sillier as it goes along, not least for the spectacle of Gregory Peck trying to play a demented Nazi cloner.  Laurence Olivier, as the Nazi huter,  seems to be taking the whole thing seriously and thus seems to have wandered in from a completely different film. It's watchably ludicrous trash. GRADE: B-

Gilda: It contains one of the most famous female entrances in film history, and it would have been nice if the film as a whole were as great as that moment. As it is, this noir-ish love affair gone bad tale has more than its fair share of hackneyed plotting, but at its best, it's deliciously torrid. GRADE: B+

The Parallax View: I had seen this Alan J. Pakula film about a paranoid reporter (Warren Beatty) before years ago, but got a fresh look at when TCM played it as part of an evening of political thrillers. I was struck by how effective it still is. A silly Dukes of Hazzard-esque chase aside, the film creates a chilling air of tension, mostly through Pakula's canny direction, which made me feel as if the walls were closing in. Trly underrated. GRADE: A

So what have you seen lately, no matter what the screen size?

More fun with Gene Kelly - On the Town Trivia!

Yes, just as sequels invade movie theaters, they also invade movie blogs. But this one is fun and isn't just an excuse for me to make money!

After watching Anatomy of a Dancer, the Gene Kelly American Masters profile I mentioned in my previous post,  I showed it to my best friend, Scott Copeland, who is also a big fan of musicals and Gene Kelly in particular. After watching that, I showed him On the Town, which he had never seen before.

I had seen it a number of times before, but Sunday it seemed especially fresh. One of my favorite things to do after I watch a movie, especially a classic movie, is to look up trivia about it on the IMDB.

I hadn't seen On the Town in awhile, and one thing that was driving me nuts was trying to place the face of the actress who played Lucy Shmeeler, Betty Garret's congested roomie. A click on the IMDB reveals she was none other than Alice Pearce - Gladys Kravitz on Bewtiched!

Other great trivia RE: On the Town:

Jules Munshin was terrified of heights. While performing on the tiny rooftop during the song "New York, New York" the only way he could perform the number was while one end of a rope was secured around his waist under his sailor suit. The other end of the rope was secured, off camera, to Stanley Donen. And even so, alert viewers of the scene will notice that during the scene Munshin is almost always touching a wall or a prop or another actor.

Judy Holliday dubbed in the following line of dialogue for a uncredited bit player billed as Daisy: "The grass is always greener, if ya know what I mean."

And my personal favorite:

Robert Williams, who plays the police sergeant in Car 44, also played the policeman who chases Gene Kelly off the street at the end of the title number in Singin' in the Rain (1952).

(Hey, Warner Home Video - hoow come there's no extras-laden two-DVD set for this like there is for Singin' in the Rain or An American in Paris?)

 What interesting facts have you found using IMDB after watching a movie? 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What a glorious testimonal, I'm happy again

From the movie Lulu on the Bridge:

Willem Dafoe: What's your favorite book?

Harvey Keitel: I don't have a favorite book.

WD: What's your favorite movie?

HK: I don't like movies, I never go to them.

WD: I thought every American loved the movies.

HK: Not me. (pause). I used to go, when I was a kid. But then Gene Kelly retired and the joy kind of went out of it for me.

WD: You really like Gene Kelly?

HK: Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.

WD: Which film? Which song?

HK: My favorite number would have to be "Singin' in the Rain." Never get tired of it.

WD: For once, I agree with you. I love it too. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it's one of the finest, most beautiful things ever created by an American. As good as the Declaration of Independence. As good as Moby Dick.

HK: It's better than that stuff. "Singin' in the Rain" is forever.


(As quoted from the American Masters special, "Anatomy of a Dancer.")

Saturday, October 10, 2009

DVD has two years left to live?

So according to Netflix's Big Kahuna, Reed Hastings. DVD has two years left to live as a viable format, and he thinks it will be replaced by streaming?

Really, Reed. Kinda living up to your last name there, aren't ya? Mind you, I have always believed that DVD would be replaced by some kind of on-demand viewing, but THAT soon? I really find that hard to swallow when your own streaming service, well - sucks, sometimes.

More often than not, when I try to watch a streaming movie on Netflix, I see a message that says something like "Your Internet connection has slowed. We are adjusting your playback to avoid further interruption."

Then, of course, I am interrupted about every 10 minutes with that message. It's more than a LITTLE annoying. When I was trying to watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir this way, I was half-convinced a real spirit was messing with me. The interruptions got so bad when I was trying to watch the 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I gave up and rented the good ol' DVD. So don't go round claiming streaming is it till ya get yers fixed, K?

(And it ain't a matter of my equipment bein' slow, Reed. I've seen many a complaint round the 'Net.)

But let me pose a question to my readers: Do you think DVD will be dead that quickly? And what about Blu-Ray? I have never been convinced that will break out the way DVD did, because the quality jump from DVD to Blu-Ray isn't even CLOSE to the quality jump of VHS to DVD. And frankly, given all the stories I've heard about botched transfers (Patton, Gladiator et al) I'm even less convinced.

Am I wrong?

REVIEW: The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying left me laughing, confused and even a little perturbed – and I imagine that's just the way Ricky Gervais likes it.

The movie's just not the way I like it – not completely, anyway.

Gervais, who co-wrote and co-directed,  presents a world where no one tells a lie. Well, actually, that's a bit of a misnomer – it's not only that people don't tell lies – it's that they're compulsive truth-tellers. There is absolutely no filter between their mouths and their brains. When Gervais picks up Jennifer Garner for a first date, she opens the door and cheerily announces: "I was masturbating."

Yes, it's a brutally honest world – one where the nursing home is called "A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People," and where people have no hesitation calling a baby ugly.

Then, one day, Gervais discovers the ability to bend and even break the truth. He tells one woman, "The world is going to end unless we have sex right now," and the woman, not knowing such a thing as a falsehood, buys it.

Then the plot really thickens when Gervais' mother is on her deathbed, afraid of what is coming. Unable to bear the sight of his  mother in pain, Gervais makes up a story about "a man in the sky" and a happy place you go after you die where everyone you love lives in a mansion. Gervais' revelation takes the populace by storm, and he finds himself at the center of unwanted attention. (In real life, Gervais is an atheist.)

Normally, I don't let such things bother me. I'm a practicing Catholic, but I don't go around telling people how they should behave or what they should believe. They go their way, I go mine. Yet I have to admit, that the idea of heaven as "lie" was that left me unsettled. For my taste, Gervais made his point a little too stridently.

And yet, I do not dismiss the movie out of hand, as some people do. It has its flaws – the tone is very uneven, and Gervais his bitten off a bit more than he can chew. That said, I admired and laughed at much of what Gervais had to say point about the lack of critical thinking, and about how shallow people can be, especially when they are in large groups. And there is much to be said for someone who is trying to tell us, "Don't just consider surfaces and what you see on the outside -  the inside is where the real value is." As a disabled person, I wish  people would look a little deeper more often myself.

So I can only be honest when I say I admired The Invention of Lying – even if some of it made my skin crawl. But then again, that's what Gervais does, isn't it?


Friday, October 09, 2009

Are people really THAT rude?

The other day I received a Twitter reply from a friend of mine after I announced my newspaper blog was done. He said to me: "All the best with the new website and job. Perhaps better to cut down on the movies since theater etiquette is near extinct."

I found this curious, because it was the second time this week something struck me about theater etiquette. Film critic James Beradinelli wrote about this experience he had recently:

Consider the following incident. Recently, I was in a movie theater. Before the movie began, the guy next to me was texting. This behavior continued through the previews and past the start of the movie. I gave him about five minutes before leaning over and politely asking him to stop because the light from the phone was distracting. His response? It was either: (a) "I'm sorry. I didn't realize. Let me just finish this last message and then I'll put my phone away," or (b)" Fuck you, man. I paid $10 for this ticket and I'm going to do whatever the fuck I want to. If you don't like it, you can leave." Anyone who guessed (a) is still living in the late '90s. So I moved. 

I have to say, I blinked at both of these readings. While I do not dispute that inconsideration is on the rise, I've rarely had any truly ugly incidents in the theater. And I think I know why.

For one reason or another, I'm good at tuning out such idiocy. I may notice it at first, but quickly begin to ignore it. Why? Because I get absorbed in the movie - probably to a higher degree than the average bear. It also helps that I tend to sit close, so that the screen takes up my entire frame of vision - tip I picked up in film class. That way, not only does the movie capture my attention, but I tend to be in front of the riff-raff, not behind it. Therefore, it's easier for me to ignore.

Still, I'm far from your typical moviegoer, so let me ask you - do you often encounter such rudeness? How often? What's the sort of rudeness you most run into?

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Questions for me, question for you


My thanks again to everyone who sent in suggestions on what to include in this new blog. I will most definitely continue the discussion of classic movies. My DVR is always jammed with films recorded from Turner Classic Movies. I often say that if that were the only channel I had, I would be quite fine with that. Coming soon: Reviews of Deception with Bette Davis and Claude Rains, and of Grand Hotel, the only movie to win a Best Picture Oscar - and no other Academy Award.

And if you ever have any titles you'd like me to review, I welcome suggestions.

I especially like the idea of a Q&A column in the style of Roger Ebert's Answer Man. While I would never claim to possess even half the depth of Roger's knowledge, I think this could be fun.

So take a look at his Answer Man page and see if you can come up with any questions for me. You  may do so by leaving a comment below or by emaling me directly if you're the shy type.

First off, though, I have a question for you. What theatrical movie should I review next?

Usually, the answer to that question was pretty easy. If I was in doubt, I would just review the film with the highest screen count. Now, however,  since I am no longer attending screenings and paying my own way, considerations are different.

I had been sort of interested in seeing Couples Retreat, the new vacation-gone-wrong movie with Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis and Malin Akerman. Having scanned the icky reviews, however, my enthusiasm has waned. And nothing else opens this weekend.

Of the films I haven't seen, the one I am most curious to see is Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying, but word on that is mixed. I'm torn between seeing the more current film and what's probably the more interesting film. Which would be more helpful to you? Suggest, please.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hello to all my new readers!

I am delighted to see that so many people have been checking out my new digs here today after my announcement that the original Sir Critic on Cinema is closing up shop. Thank you all! I maintain an email notification list; if you would like to be on it, drop me a line at

So I'm going to take this opportunity to put a question to my visitors, both old and new - what would you like to see in this new blog? What would keep you coming back to it? How could I make it stand out among the multitude of movie blogs? What topics would you like to opine about? And why in the world is a Showgirls 2 even a remote possibility?

OK, that last one is more rhetorical than anything else. But I'll entertain answers on that too. Anything goes. Suggest! Recommend! Comment! Discuss! Question?

REVIEW: Toy Story 3D Double Feature

Siting in a theater for 90 minutes watching a Pixar movie? Bliss.

Sitting in a theater for 180 minutes watching a Pixar Toy Story double feature in 3D? Priceless bliss.

There's no real need to review the movies again, but I will take issue with Variety critic Todd McCarthy in one respect. In his review of the double feature, he writes:

"I had always gone along with the prevailing view that "Toy Story 2" was slightly better than its predecessor. Seeing them together reversed my opinion. Whereas "2" benefits from the introduction of cowgirl Jessie and such wonderful conceits as putting Buzz Lightyear on the toy store shelf along with his hundreds of identical brethren, "1" prevails in the end due to its more unified narrative; by contrast, "2," for all its amusing invention, dawdles for a while before charging into the action climax."

Having just seen the double, I flatly - no, I 3-dimensionally - disagree. The animation is more fluid, the characters are enriched, and the jokes are more inventive - the invention of the "deluded Buzz" is truly a stroke of genius.To me, this is the perfect demonstration of the difference between a A film like Toy Story and an A+  film like Toy Story 2. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the first Toy Story, but the second otushines it in every respect.  It's transcendent. There is no more emotional moment in all of Pixar for me than "When She Loved Me," which reduces me to tears no matter how many times I see it. And this time I had to take 3D glasses off to wipe my eyes.

As for the 3D, the approach is very similar to what Pixar did with Up: the emphasis is more on depth than on throwing things in the audience's faces. That's fine if you're in a theme park, or if you have a thin story to support your movie *cough Monsters vs. Aliens *cough* but in a movie with a good story (or two movies with two good stories) such flashy efffects would be a distraciton. Here we get to marvel at the detail, especially in scenes with elaborate backgrounds, like our first look in Al's Toy Barn, or the ride on the luggage conveyor.

Some people may not see the need to rewatch  movies they've already seen, but especially if you have kids who did not have a chance to see the original films in theaters, this is an ideal way to do it. Now all that remains is to find out whether Toy Story 3 (which gets a full trailer in the double feature) can stand alongside the other two outstanding playthings. I have every confidence it will.

GRADE: A+ for the overall experience

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

EVERY movie I've seen this year

Now that I've moved to this "private" blog, I lament the fact that I won't be able to do day-and-date reviews any longer, but if you think that means it will stop me from seeing movies in a theater, ye don't know me very well, do ye?

Every year since 1995, I have seen at LEAST 100 films in the theater - and that was seven years before my reviews began appearing in print. I keep lists. For the theatricals, anything I've seen on the big screen gets listed, whether the movie is old or new. Repeat viewings do not count toward the number, but are denoted by an X# next to the title. Here's everything so far this year.
1.    Valkyrie    B
2.    The Reader    C-
3.    Doubt        A
4.    Frost/Nixon    A
5.    Gran Torino    B+
6.    The Curious Case of Benjamin  Button X2    B+
7.    Marley and Me    B+
8.    Defiance    B+
9.    Revolutionary Road     A
10.    Rachel Getting Married    A
11.    The Wrestler    A
12.    Push    B
13.    Slumdog Millionaire X3    A+
14.    Coraline    A
15.    Taken    B
16.    The International    B
17.    Milk    B
18.    Frost/Nixon    A
19.    I've Loved You So Long    A
20.    Inkheart    B
21.    Watchmen    C
22.    Race to Witch Mountain    B
23.    Knowing    C-
24.    Monsters vs. Aliens    B
25.    The Godfather    A+
26.    The Godfather Part II    A
27.    Adventureland X2    A
28.    Sunshine Cleaning    A-
29.    Duplicity    A
30.    I Love You, Man    B+
31.    Paul Blart Mall Cop    C
32.    Observe and Report    B
33.    17 Again    C+
34.    Vertigo  X2    A+
35.    State of Play    B+
36.    The Soloist    B
37.    He's Just Not That Into You    B-
38.    Last Chance Harvey    B
39.    Ghosts of Girlfriends Past    C
40.    Wolverine    C+
41.    Star Trek x2    A
42.    Angels & Demons    C+
43.    Up  x4    A+
44.    Terminator Salvation    C+
45.    Drag Me to Hell    B+
46.    Night at the Museum, Battle for the  Smithsonian    C
47.    The Hangover    A-
48.    12    B+
49.    Paris 36    C
50.    The Taking of Pelham 123    B
51.    The Proposal    B-
52.    The Brothers Bloom    B
53.    Transformers: ROTF    D
54.    Away We Go    B+
55.    Public Enemies    A-
56.    Whatever Works    B
57.    The Seven Year Itch    B
58.    Bruno    C
59.    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince    A
60.    Moon    A-
61.    The Ugly Truth    C+
62.    The Philadelphia Story    A+
63.    Harvey    B+
64.    Every Little Step    A
65.    500 Days of Summer    A+
66.    Funny People    B+
67.    The Hurt Locker    A-
68.    King Kong    A+
69.    Julie & Julia    A-
70.    To Kill a Mockingbird    A+
71.    Inglourious Basterds    B+
72.    District 9 x2    A
73.    Ponyo    A
74.    9    B
75.    Jaws    A+
76.    A Hard Day's Night    A+
77.    The Informant!    A
78.    Surrogates    C+
79.    Whip It    B+
80.    Zombieland    B+
81.    Bright Star    B-
82.    Capitalism: A Love Story    B+

Oh, and that's not quite all. There are the films I've seen on the small screen too. That's a whole other list. 

1.    Paranoid Park    B+
2.    Kiss of the Vampire    D-
3.    Jeremiah Johnson    B
4.    Point Blank    B+
5.    Jesus Camp    B
6.    Now Voyager    A-
7.    Brief Encounter    A+
8.    Che Part One    B+
9.    Che Part Two    B-
10.    The Pajama Game    B+
11.    The Way We Were     B
12.    Escape to Witch Mountain     B+
13.    Why We Fight    A-
14.    In the Heat of the Night    B+
15.    Hail the Conquering Hero    A-
16.    Let the Right One In    A-
17.    The Palm Beach Story    A-
18.    Three Days of the Condor    A-
19.    The Man in the White Suit    A-
20.    You Can't Take It With  You    A
21.    Preston Sturges: The Rise and Fall of an American  Dreamer   A
22.    Serpico    A
23.    The Hunchback of Notre  Dame (1939)    B+
24.    I was a Male War Bride    A-
25.    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)    B+
26.    Gun Crazy    A
27.    Unfaithfully Yours    A
28.    Pygmalion    B
29.    The Electric Horseman    B
30.    Throne of Blood    A+
31.    Nothing but the Truth    A-
32.    Sherrybaby    B+
33.    Excalibur    B+
34.    They Were Expendable    B+
35.    Tsotsi    B
36.    The Children's Hour    A
37.    Robin and Marian    B+
38.    The Front Page (1974)    B
39.    The Fortune Cookie    A-
40.    A Child is Waiting    B+
41.    A Place in the Sun    B+
42.    The Champ    A
43.    The Big Parade    A-
44.    The Crowd    A
45.    David Copperfield    A-
46.    The Little Princess    B
47.    The Gay Divorcee    A-
48.    The Thief of Baghdad    A
49.    Waltz with Bashir    A
50.    The Women    A-
51.    The Breakfast Club    A-
52.    The Class    A-
53.    Fast Times at Ridgemont  High     B
54.    Goodbye Mr. Chips    B+
55.    These Three    A-
56.    Bubble    B+
57.    Great Expectations    A
58.    Becket    A
59.    Young Mr. Lincoln    A
60.    Two Lovers    A-
61.    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir    A-
62.    Topaz    B
63.    Johnny Guitar    A-
64.    Camille    A
65.    Dr. Jekkyl and Mr, Hyde (1931)    A-
66.    3:10 to Yuma    B+
67.    Gilda    B+

Hey, what can I say? I gotta be me.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Favorite movie entrances, and an exit too!

I recently watched Gilda for the first time on the World's Best Movie Channel (TM), TCM. If that movie doesn't contain one of the greatest entrances in the history of movies, I don't love movies. See for yourself.

Guaranteed to make every man in the room say "DA-YAM." 

As it happens, the divine Ms. Hayworth's husband has at least two. Here's the best, from The Third Man.

And another, from Citizen Kane. Come to think of it, this counts as an entrance AND an exit at the same time:

Here's an entrance that almost never gets mentioned: Judy Garland in Girl Crazy, about 1:38 in.

I second that wolf whistle. Judy was truly underrated as a beauty.

Then there's the mother of them all, Grace Kelly in Rear Window.

Oh, I'm sorry, I got distracted.

Anyway, my list is hardly all inclusive. Include some more by telling me some of your favorite movie entrances.