30 Day Film Challenge: Day 13 – A Guilty Pleasure

Day 13 – A Guilty Pleasure
Anaconda (1997, Llosa)

I have a guilty genre. I will watch anything with animals that eat people. These animals may or may not be genetically modified, released from melting ice caps, or used as metaphors for genocide. I don’t care as long as they eat people. The pinnacle of these films is, obviously, Anaconda. Not only does it star a bunch of pretty ok actors that act in a pretty ok way (JLo! Ice Cube! Eric Stoltz! Danny Trejo! Owen Wilson!) it also has a big, silly CGI anaconda (voiced by master animal noise maker Frank Welker)! And a guy gets stung by a super wasp in the throat! It’s the silliest of movies and therefore I love it. And let nobody forget the supreme absurdity of Jon Voight’s performance. Is he Cajun? Russian? Martian? I don’t know, I don’t care. The scene where he is eaten by the snake and then regurgitated only to taunt JLo some more is one of the best scenes in movie history. Some genius on IMDb put up this quote from Voight, “Eet wraps eetz COILS around yooo… .TIGHTAH zan anny luvvah.” If that’s not a guilty pleasure I don’t know what is.

Notes:
  • I could have also picked Deep Blue Sea very easily. Smart sharks! The best Sam Jackson performance! LL Cool J! A parrot! An ending stolen directly from Jaws!
  • Anacondas: the Hunt for the Blood Orchid is almost as good as the first film. It doesn’t have the star cast but the snake orgy at the end makes up for it. Ball of snakes!
  • Anaconda trailer ahoy!

Advertisements

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 12 – A Film By Your Least Favorite Director

Day 12 – A Film By Your Least Favorite Director
Avatar (2009, Cameron)

Can I choose Aliens again? No? Ok, Avatar it is. Take all of the problems I outlined in Aliens and fix none of them and you get Avatar. I don’t even care that it’s not original because, for the most part, nothing is. If the dialogue was even remotely good I’d forgive the trite plot. The visuals are cool, yes, but they serve anything. I don’t need subtlety in my movies but I do require something that respects my intelligence. You want a good action film? Go to Die Hard or the Bourne films. Avatar has nothing outside looking cool (and even that isn’t really all that special. It’s fantasy plus neon.) and making a lot of money. It is so thoroughly mediocre for a movie that should be amazing. That’s the real problem. James Cameron can create cool looking things but he has trouble getting me to care about them. The Abyss is his only film that I can truly claim to enjoy without reservation since even T2 has the same annoying-child-actor-problem that hurts Aliens. For a guy that can do pretty much anything he wants he doesn’t seem to want to do anything of actual import. It’s a damn shame that people like Guillermo del Toro and Terry Gilliam can’t get the proper funding for their films but Cameron’s utterly boring films rake in the dough.

Notes:
  • It seems like Michael Bay would be an obvious choice here but I like a lot of his movies. The Rock is fantastic and The Island and Armageddon both have some things going for them. Also, I really like the looks of Transformers: Dark of the Moon or whatever it’s called.
  • James Cameron is probably better than most directors but it is his lack of ambition that gives him his spot here. I never expect a Paul W.S. Anderson movie or a Uwe Boll film to be anything but crap. Cameron could be so much better!

30 Day Film Challenge Day 11 – A Film By Your Favorite Director

Day 11 – A Film By Your Favorite Director

I’ve written (or at least picked out the movies for) the remaining posts in this series now. I’ve worked out that there is, after today, only one more Frank Borzage movie coming up. I feel justified having 1/10th of this project be about Borzage because he is just that good. There’s a certain level of optimism in his films that is absent from the majority of films both today and in his time – his last directorial job came in 1961 but Moonrise in 1948 is considered his last great film. Magical dresses abound and the power of love usually conquers all. That’s not to say his films ignore reality. People die and lose their loved ones but the focus is always on the good rather than the bad. Today’s film is a sweet little love story where an injured WWI vet (the fantastic Charles Farrell) falls in love with a feisty younger woman (Janet Gaynor). They teach each other lessons about being good people and love and by the end the power of love is quite literally transcendent. The final ten minutes of this film are among the most beautiful I have ever seen and for that it is worth of this coveted spot on my list.

Notes: 
  • These two actors also star in the more well known (relatively, of course) Borzage film 7th Heaven. That, too, is a great film but I don’t like it nearly as much as I do the intense melodrama of Lucky Star.
  • Janet Gaynor had a real good shot at taking my favorite actress spot. I do like Margaret Sullavan better but it’s a close race. Gaynor’s more famous role in F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won her an Oscar (along with her roles in 7th Heaven and Street Angel).
  • Here’s a clip of some of the best scenes from three Borzage-Gaynor-Farrell films: 7th Heaven, Lucky Star, and Street Angel.

30 Day Film Challenge Day 10 – A Film With Your Favorite Actor (Female)

Day 10 – A Film With Your Favorite Actor (Female)
Margaret Sullavan isn’t one of the super famous actresses from the ‘30s but she’s in four of my favorite films of the era. The Shop Around the Corner (later remade as You’ve Got Mail) is the only of these four not directed by Frank Borzage but since I probably shouldn’t pick his films for everything on this list I decided to go for this Ernst Lubitsch romance. The chemistry between Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart is the real draw of this film. Sullavan has a quality about her that is both ethereal and grounded. She seems like an angel and a flawed human being at the same time. See also: Three Comrades and Little Man, What Now?
Notes:
  • Borzage’s The Mortal Storm came out in the same year as The Shop Around the Corner. It also stars Sullavan and Stewart and Frank Morgan (AKA The Wizard of Oz). It’s a much heavier movie than this one because of the whole Nazi thing. It is quite awesome.
  • Also, The Shop Around the Corner is a way better Christmas movie than It’s a Wonderful Life (which is very good).
  • This scene shows the greatness of Margaret Sullavan quite well:

30 Day Film Challenge Day 9 – A Film With Your Favorite Actor (Male)

Day 9 – A Film With Your Favorite Actor (Male)
Henry Fonda has been in roughly a billion great movies. The better known 12 Angry Men, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Lady Eve all boast really great Fonda performances. His lesser known films like Young Mr. Lincoln, Fort Apache, and My Darling Clementine are just as good. While John Wayne is known as John Ford’s muse, Fonda was also in a bunch of his movies. My Darling Clementine is a Ford western telling the story of the shootout at the OK Corral. Fonda plays Wyatt Earp as a more relaxed guy and sells the titular romance well. It’s not all that far off from his normal roles (for that you can go to The Lady Eve and OUATITW) but his normal roles are what I like so much about him. He’s not a superhero, he’s just a guy trying to do good in the world. 
Notes:
  • Ward Bond is also in MDC. If I could pick another guy for this day it might be him. He seems to be in every movie made between 1930 and 1960. 
  • Check out this clip (it’s kind of long but worth it) to see some awesome Ward Bond-ness, Henry Fonda dancing and John Ford community building.