Tag: 30 Day Film Challenge

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 17 – Your Favorite Drama Film

Day 17 – Your Favorite Drama Film

This movie often filp flops with There Will Be Blood as my favorite movie of all time. Where TWBB is a focused study of a man grabbing at whatever he can to get rich, Magnolia pulls back and looks at a dozen or so LA denizens and how their lives weave in and out of each other’s. It’s not the first movie to do such a thing and it owes a lot of debt to Robert Altman’s Short Cuts in both its form and function. But there’s a kind of craziness that underlies everything. This being PTA’s third film he is mostly allowed to go all out on the filmmaking front. There’s a couple of multi-minute-long shots, the characters take a break in the middle of the film to have a cosmic sing-along, and then there’s the ending. It’s a pretty audacious piece of work but what makes it my favorite drama film is the characters. Like I said earlier there are about a dozen characters and all of the directorial trickery works to make you care about each and every one of them. From Tom Cruise’s woman-hating public speaker to John C. Reilly’s well meaning police officer to Melora Walters’ junkie caught between love and addiction, each of the characters has a full life which we glimpse for only a day. It is one of the best combinations of script, direction, and acting I have ever seen and it never fails to get my tear ducts working. Sometimes it’s Cruise’s confession at his dying father’s bedside or the heartbreaking date between Reilly and Walters that ends with this line, “Now that I’ve met you, would you object to never seeing me again?” or the final, redemptive scene of the film; they knit together to create a dazzling and desperately human work of art.
Notes:

  • I have, for some reason, only seen this film twice. I feel like I should go out and buy it right now. I’ve talked myself into it.
  • As hard as it was for me to not turn this into a Borzage-fest, it will be just as hard to keep all of PTA’s films off the list. There may or may not be another one coming up soon.
  • There were roughly a billion other films I could have chosen for this spot including films like The Assassination of  Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and most of Borzage’s movies and The Searchers and How Green Was My Valley and so on and so forth.
  • LOOK AT THE AWESOME!

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 16 – A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate

Day 16 – A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate
Here we go. If you didn’t already hate me for disliking Aliens be prepared to quit reading in disgust.

When I was young my mother purchased me the VHS box set of the original trilogy. I watched these films over and over and over again. They were some kind of wonderful. Then the re-done versions came to theaters and I saw all of them. It should have been magical but I don’t recall any of it. When The Phantom Menace came out I loved it. My friend and I (both 11) returned after a Friday night showing and busted out the broomsticks to play at being Jedi and Sith. Because The Phantom Menace was so awesome. What I’m saying is that I was young and stupid. I mostly stopped watching Star Wars after Episode III arrived (and I thought that one was pretty good, too). I returned to the original series recently and, while there are moments of greatness (“I know.”) it’s mostly just poorly written nonsense for kids. Now, let me be clear, there are plenty of movies ostensibly made for kids that are great in their own right; Where the Wild Things Are and the majority of Disney and Pixar films are still great to this 23 year old, among others. But Star Wars is just stupid. From the annoying main character to the horrible dialogue and the silly robot characters, everything is just too dumb for me to enjoy. If this movie wasn’t so well loved I’d just be indifferent to it. But if I tell somebody that I don’t like Star Wars they’ll get all red faced and try to punch me. It’s happened. I really hope that as the generation of people that saw it as a kid in the theater dies out it will be recognized as mostly bad.
Notes:
  • That’s not to say nothing good came from Star Wars. Knights of the Old Republic is a terrific video game and there are some books I recall liking in the Expanded Universe (of course, I was a kid when I read those, too).
  • If you want to see something better than Star Wars I’d suggest the Indiana Jones series. It takes the only good part of Star Wars and gives him his own thing to do.
  • Most of the reason why Indiana Jones is better than Star Wars is that it’s directed by Spielberg instead of Lucas and Lucas didn’t actually write the scripts. As Harrison Ford said about Lucas’s dialogue, “You can write this shit, George, but you can’t say it.” Agreed.

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 15 – The Film That Depicts Your Life

Day 15 – The Film That Depicts Your Life
Dear readers, I don’t know if you know this about me but I am a teenage wizard. I was chosen from birth to destroy the most evil wizard in all of history. It’s a burden I can only bear with the help of my friends. All of this is probably not true. What is true is that this is the first movie in the series where the kids go out into the real (wizarding) world. Outside the relative safety of Hogwarts Harry, Ron, and Hermione must deal with real issues (the biggest being maintaining their friendship during difficult times) and have a mission to accomplish. My life now consists of trying to find a job and keeping connected to friends. No, I’m not destroying evil or anything but leaving the bubble of college to make my own way is my connection to the guy with the dorky glasses. Also, I have dorky glasses.
Notes:
  • Potential other choices: Hot Fuzz, Adaptation, and 127 Hours. Make sense of that, I dare you.
  • I thought Harry Potter was one of the best films of last year. This year’s conclusion (one month away!) could be the best movie of the year. David Yates has made the final four HP films really awesome. 
  • Check the trailer for the next film in the series. It’s close to the best thing ever.

30 Day Film Challenge: Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like

Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like
In 2006 I had never seen an Atlman film before. I’d never listened to the radio show this movie is based on. I didn’t really know who most of these actors were (this was towards the beginning of my movie education). On top of all of that it’s a movie about a faux-old-timey radio show getting shut down. There was nothing in this movie for me to like. But I loved it. There’s a kind of ease that permeates the film. Yes, these people are losing their jobs (and the end makes it seem more like they’re dying, which is practically the same thing) but they’re so comfortable with each other that they know everything is going to be fine. In later years I saw more Altman and more movies with these performers and I learned to appreciate that everything has the potential to be good. Even a quasi-musical staring Lindsay Lohan and Garrison Keillor.
Notes:
  • The performances in this movie are all great. They do the typical Altman overlapping dialogue which is fun but the more low-key aspect distinguishes it from some of his other stuff (Short Cuts, for example, is way more manic, I think).
  • It’s kind of fitting that this is Altman’s last movie. It feels like it. The end of a performance and the end of an era. That final diner scene is just fantastic. If there is a heaven I would like it to be like that.
  • This song is freaking hilarious. It’s not exactly indicative of the rest of the film but it is super great.

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!