Tag: Brick

Top 100 Films (2013 Edition): Part 2 of 5

The next 20 movies are here. It’s happening! If you missed the bottom 20, check them out here. And now, on with the show.

80. A History of Violence

Well, why don’t you ask “Tom” about his older brother Ritchie in Philadelphia? Ask “Tom” how he once tried to rip my eye out with barbed wire. And ask him, Edie… ask him how come he’s so good at killing people.

A History of Violence is Cronenberg relaxed, not as focused on the body horror that he built his name on. That isn’t to say there’s no horror elements here as the violence from the title is brutal and not masked at all. But this is a movie about a man and his family, the steps he would take to protect them. It’s really good at what it does.

79. The General

If you lose this war don’t blame me.

Buster Keaton makes his second appearance on this list as a rejected fighter in the Civil War who gets mixed up in a crazy train thing. Less inventive than Sherlock Jr., The General must rely on a stronger story and even crazier action setpieces for its thrills. And they are spectacular thrills indeed.

78. Aladdin

Oi! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck.

Aladdin was the first film I ever saw in theaters. It began my lifelong love of film thanks to its beauty, songs, and one-of-a-kind performance by Robin Williams as the wish granting genie with pop culture references and fireworks blasting off at any given moment. It is very likely my most watched movie of all time, and I can still hear all of those great lines in my head as if I were watching the movie.

77. The Wicker Man

Don’t you see that killing me is not going to bring back your apples?

While this is often lumped under the category of horror films, it’s more of a kind of nutty musical with a little ritual sacrifice thrown in at the end for good measure. Edward Woodward (which, until Benedict Cumberbatch, was the best name to say out loud) is a proud Christian confronted by all kinds of pagan nudity and insane happiness. His counterpart, the “evil” Lord Summerisle is played delightfully by Christopher Lee. Forget the dumb remake, this one is crazy and good.

76. This Is Spinal Tap

Well, I don’t really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It’s like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how – what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what’s stopping it, and what’s behind what’s stopping it? So, what’s the end, you know, is my question to you.

There may never be a mockumentary as good as This Is Spinal Tap. A fantastic combination of dull wits and silly music, it’s a dumb comedy made very clearly by a bunch of intelligent guys. Nearly every element of the rock world is skewered perfectly.

75. The Proposition

Mr. Murphy, Russia, China, the Congo, oh, I have traveled among unknown people in lands beyond the seas. But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for this godforsaken hole.

The dirtiest, most unsettling western I’ve seen. It takes the harshness of the American West and ratchets up the grime and heat a few notches by setting the tale in the middle of the Australian summer. And the mission at the center of the film is a rough one, too, with one brother sent out to reign in another brother while yet a third brother is held ransom by the town sheriff. Existential, evolutional angst is on full display in this gorgeously ugly film.

74. Rear Window

Now, Doyle, don’t tell me that he’s just an unemployed magician amusing the neighborhood with his sleight of hand. Don’t tell me that.

A marvelous movie which creates the majority of its tension at a distance. Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair-bound photographer catches on to some shady business and is helpless to do anything about it. Hitchcock is obviously a master and Rear Window is a perfectly constructed example of his ability to instill anxiety in his audiences.

73. Fantasia

Then the music begins to suggest other things to your imagination. They might be, oh, just masses of color, or they may be cloud forms or great landscapes or vague shadows or geometrical objects floating in space.

A fantastic (ha) marriage of sound and image, Fantasia is an early masterpiece from Disney. Each work of classical music is paired with a really great story or environment which has cemented the importance of music without lyrics for generations. At once a starters guide and an experimental art film, Fantasia will never lose its hold on the young and old alike.

72. Never Let Me Go

We didn’t have to look into your souls, we had to see if you had souls at all.

A heartbreaking beauty of a film. Never Let Me Go is a sci-fi love story that leans away from both of those elements into a melancholic meditation on loss and friendship. It’s a quiet little movie that packs a serious emotional punch.

71. Brick

No more of these informal chats! If you have a disciplinary issue with me, write me up or suspend me and I’ll see you at the parent conference.

Rian Johnson has gone on to make bigger movies (both The Brothers Bloom and Looper are larger in scope than this little film) but never has he matched the audacity of Brick, a movie set in a normal high school which just so happens to be populated with a student body that talks like they’re in a film noir. As out there as the premise is, the characters are grounded in an emotional reality that sells the film as a whole.

70. The Mortal Storm

I’ve never prized safety, Erich, either for myself or my children. I prized courage.

The first Frank Borzage movie on this list is one of his better known works. An early example of movies decrying the Nazis, its historical importance often overshadows the sheer beauty of it all. Each scene is powerful in its own way and the cumulative effect of all the love and hardships is staggering. A career highlight for all involved (Stewart, Sullavan, Young, and Morgan), this is a devastating movie.

69. Shaun of the Dead

Take car. Go to Mum’s. Kill Phil – “Sorry.” – grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

Edgar Wright’s second appearance on this list is another doozy. Working in the zombie genre, he deftly blends a romantic comedy into the mix alongside a touching mother-stepfather-son triangle. Also, it is really funny. Wright can blend homage with his own style quite well and is one of the few directors working today with a definite sense of pacing and joketelling through his editing.

68. Paths of Glory

You are an idealist… and I pity you as I would the village idiot. We’re fighting a war, Dax, a war that we’ve got to win. Those men didn’t fight, so they were shot.

This is a strange half-war-film, half-courtroom drama hybrid which uses Stanley Kubrick’s impeccable eye for composition as its guiding light. The war scenes are a wonder, the predecessor to Saving Private Ryan‘s opening salvo, and the courtroom scenes are just as intense, albeit on a verbal and intellectual level rather than a visceral one. Kubrick’s cynicism shines through and, although I hesitate to indulge in those kinds of thoughts, his vision is so well defined that it’s hard to find fault with it.

67. City of God

A kid? I smoke, I snort. I’ve killed and robbed. I’m a man.

Here’s another organized crime movie. The unique setting is what elevates this above the drivel in the genre in addition to the captivating myriad stories being told at once. Participants include a young photographer, a maniacal teenage drug kingpin, and an apartment where everything goes down. Kinetic in style and broadly considering of its topic and scope, City of God is one of a kind.

66. Repulsion

I must get this crack mended.

The ultimate paranoia director takes on spooky apartments with even better results than his more well-known Rosemary’s Baby. Like some of the other horror films on this list, Repulsion isn’t crisp or smooth, instead it wallows in a creaky realism that keeps all the jagged edges in to great effect. An ever escalating thrill ride with a bit of feminist theory thrown in for good measure.

65. Out of Sight

It’s like seeing someone for the first time, and you look at each other for a few seconds, and there’s this kind of recognition like you both know something. Next moment the person’s gone, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

Soderbergh at the height of both his ultimate cool abilities and his experimental tweaking. He combines these two elements into one super great love story based on characters from the incomparable Elmore Leonard. Clooney and Lopez have such an intense chemistry and are surrounded by really great character actors in fantastic roles.

64. Metropolis

Having conceived Babel, yet unable to build it themselves, they had thousands to build it for them. But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned. And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it. The hymns of praise of the few became the curses of the many – BABEL! BABEL! BABEL! – Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.

An early masterpiece of crazy expressionism and religious and social metaphor. Fritz Lang uses spectacular sets and direction to tell the tale of a populist uprising in a utopia of supreme architecture. Futurist in style and fable-like in story, this one really appeals to all of my little taste bubbles. It’s fun and heady and really beautiful.

63. Before Sunset

Maybe what I’m saying is, is the world might be evolving the way a person evolves. Right? Like, I mean, me for example. Am I getting worse? Am I improving? I don’t know. When I was younger, I was healthier, but I was, uh, whacked with insecurity, you know? Now I’m older and my problems are deeper, but I’m more equipped to handle them.

I watched all three Before movies this year, concluding with the recently released Before Midnight. This one, the middle in the trilogy, grabbed me way more than the idealistic Before Sunrise. Celine and Jesse are older and probably wiser nine years later, but no less infatuated, though they don’t often show it. It’s seen as the more cynical of the two first films but I feel like the ending really refutes that. It’s a romance that feels real and still like a storybook. I don’t know how that happened.

62. Funny Games

You’re on their side, aren’t you? So, who will you bet with?

Michael Haneke’s sarcastic indictment of horror audiences really gets to the point about halfway through the movie when something totally jarring happens and messes with the audience’s expectations entirely. Though I still enjoy silly horror films, this movie has forced me to at least think about the reasons why I do so. It’s crazy and the build-up is pretty slow, which makes for an even more intense film once it really gets going. The remake is a perfectly fine substitute, by the way, with the director returning and doing almost everything exactly the same as before, but in English.

61. The Prestige

The truly extraordinary is not permitted in science and industry. Perhaps you’ll find more luck in your field, where people are happy to be mystified.

Christopher Nolan’s only truly great film is, on its surface, a movie about jealous magicians and the terrible fates they bring upon themselves and their family and friends. Looking deeper, though, reveals that it’s a movie about movies, and the power they have to transport us away from ourselves and into unreality. It’s a puzzlebox like many of his other films that has (unlike those others) an emotional and thematic core that satisfies as much as the mystery, if not more.

That’s the end of round two. Let me know how you’ve been enjoying it, or if you hate a pick or something. PS, if that last part applies to you, you’re nuts. These are objectively awesome movies.

5 Jawesome Things for the week of April 27, 2012

Another week with bonus Jawesome to make up for missing last week’s column.

1. Parks and Rec

Recently, 30 Rock has gotten some flack for just being a joke machine with little thought for character or plot. I can’t really argue against that, though I still really like the show. Parks and Rec does not have that problem. At all. The characters are what drives the show and the debate episode (written and directed by Amy Pohler) is glorious proof. It’s full of these people acting as we would expect and still being extremely funny. And then the show ends with an amazing speech by Leslie Knope which isn’t so much funny as it is just a great moment of TV. But that moment only works because we know her and her friends so well. The show couldn’t have pulled off such a real moment in its first or second season because the groundwork wasn’t laid at that time. This is proof positive that arbitrary limits on tv show running times are silly. Yes, the Brits generally like to end their shows before they get bad, The Office‘s 12 episodes and a bonus being the prime example, but just think of how much we’d miss from Parks and Rec if it had ended after two seasons.

2. Babies and weddings

Well, just the one baby. I am, of course, talking about Game of Thrones. Last week we got to one of the most shocking scenes in the second book on the tv show and it was executed much better than I expected it to be. It was a genuinely creepy scene and it gave me even more confidence in the show’s ability to get the book right. Which is good, because I’m also about 100 pages away from the end of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the series. There are so many weddings! Each one plays out differently and they are all quite fascinating. It’s an interesting thematic chorus: after each wedding the world is shifted in some small or large way and the next chapters are about the aftermath until the next wedding comes along and changes everything again. I won’t spoil who is getting married to who, but it’s all very interesting and often shocking.

3. Gotye – Making Mirrors

I guess I’m pretty late to this album, but I hadn’t even heard the super popular “Somebody that I Used to Know” until his appearance on Saturday Night Live (along with the very funny digital short parodying the songs strange but wonderful video). The rest of the album is pretty darn good, too. He goes through a lot of different genres, my favorite being his take on old-school soul, “I Feel Better”. He tries a lot of things on the album and the amazing thing is that most of them work.

4. Python

I don’t know why I watched this. I know I have a weakness for giant animal movies, but this one is one of the worst that I have seen. It is, at least, bad in a good way. I think all the proof you need is in the trailer, which shows the two brave choices that make this movie so Jawesome. The first is Wil Wheaton’s Pink Hair and the second is Casper Van Dien’s Miserable Mustache. Never before have two truly ugly folicular mistakes occupied the same screen along with a horribly rendered CGI snake and Jenny McCarthy (who has her own horrible hair). Also, there’s a silly fight scene and a protracted Psycho reference.

5. Catsitting

I catsat(?) for my grandmother earlier this week and man, that cat is Jawesome. Unlike my own cat whose attitude towards me ranges from indifferent to uninterested, Sweetie couldn’t get enough of my attention. She’s a smallish Maine Coon and very playful and purr-y. Here, have a video.

6. Vampire books

I recently finished the second book of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire trilogy, The Fall. It treats vampirism as a virus and that’s a cool touch but the writing never elevates above being strictly entertaining into the artfulness that GDT is capable of. You can spot his influence, including lifting scenes and plot points from almost all of his films (the subway setting of Mimic, the old man who wants to become a vampire to fix his body from Cronos, the auction scene from Hellboy 2 and so on and so forth) but this series could have been so much better if he’d actually written it. It misses his storytelling touch. I then started The Passage by Justin Cronin. I couldn’t remember if this was supposed to be a vampire or a zombie book and it ends up being kind of a mix of the two. It, too, treats vampirism as a virus but it’s scope is much more epic than The Fall‘s. The vampire apoclaypse happens relatively early and the book turns into a survival horror story akin to The Walking Dead or The Stand. It feels a lot like the best of Stephen King’s work, sprawling and personal at the same time. I’m only about a third of the way through the book and I look forward to seeing where it’s going. It is the first in a trilogy as well, so we’ll see how such a long story works for the topic. Luckily the writing is very good and the characters are interesting, so it’s got a good start.

7. Looper and Prometheus trailers

Looper is the the third film by Rian Johnson and it is getting a big push which will hopefully vault him into the public’s interest. The trailer is fantastic at showing the plot (a man who kills people for the mob from the future by means of time travel gets shaken up when he is tasked with killing his future-self) and the style, which is quite different looking from his two previous films (Brick and The Brothers Bloom, both of which appear on my Top 100 List) which were quite different from each other. Prometheus’s newest video isn’t a trailer, necessarily, but it is an intriguing and very well made introduction to Michael Fassbender’s character. If you want to go into the film knowing nothing I’d suggest that you don’t watch it but it is a very interesting watch. I like this kind of advertising, since this won’t be anywhere in the film itself it isn’t spoiling the viewing experience like seeing that zero-gravity shot from Inception every other commercial did and it’s giving us more Fassbender which is always appreciated.

There you have it, two bonus Jawesome Things. What kind of Jawesome Things have you seen?

Top 100 Films: The _9’s

If you don’t understand the title here please check out this post and look there for the first part of the list, the _0’s. And now, the ten movies in the spots that end in the number 9.

99. Thirst (2009)

Directed by Park Chan-wook. Starring Song Kang-ho  and Kim Ok-bin

I don’t kill anyone, you know.

I like to call movies like this “messterpieces,” movies that are kind of crazy and out of control but still fascinating. The final scene is at once hilarious and sad. And beautiful. Like the rest of the movie.

89. Brick (2005)

Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas

No more of these informal chats! If you have a diciplinary issue with me, write me up or suspend me and I’ll see you at the Parent-Teacher conference.

The opposite of a messterpiece, Brick is supremely well constructed and thought through to the tiniest detail. The combination of noir and high school shouldn’t work but it does. An amazing debut.

79. Once (2006)

Directed by John Carney. Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

What’s the Czech for “Do you love him”?

A small little musical that has more heart than most films. The romance is so believable and the moment they first sing together gives me goosebumps. It feels more like a documentary than a typical musical.

69. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

You’re not seriously gonna believe this man, are you? Are you? HE ISN’T EVEN FROM ‘ROUND HERE!

Minutely constructed, this movie takes at least two viewings to get all the jokes because the punchline often comes before the setup. It also works really well as a buddy cop movie, thanks to those three guys up there. The chemistry and direction are spot on.

59. The Truman Show (1998)

Directed by Peter Weir. Starring Jim Carrey and Laura Linney

Somebody help me, I’m being spontaneous!

Either before its time or a harbinger of doom that we didn’t heed, The Truman Show is a wonderful film. I love the pathos and the clever little touches like the commercials and the man in the moon controlling Truman’s life like the moon controls the tides.

49. A History of Violence (2005)

Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello

You’re supposed to call me Dad. That’s what I am, your Dad.

Here I’ll declare that I don’t like gangster movies except for the ones that do something other than the rise-and-fall that you find in, say, Goodfellas. A History of Violence is one of those movies. Here’s a man escaped who gets dragged back into his old life, kicking and screaming. There’s even some of the good old-fashioned body horror that Cronenberg is known for in the action scenes and Viggo’s uncomfortable-ness in his own house and family.

39. My Darling Clementine (1946)

Directed by John Ford. Starring Henry Fonda and Victor Mature

Sure is a hard town for a fella to have a quiet game o’ poker in.

John Ford made a lot of westerns. This is the best of the straightforward examples. Henry Fonda is awesome as usual and Victor Mature is way cooler than Val Kilmer’s take on Doc Holliday. And there’s a fun bad guy role for Walter Brennan, who seems to be in every movie that John Ford ever made.

29. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Directed by Steve James. Featuring William Gates and Arthur Agee

That’s why when somebody say, “When you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me,” and that stuff. Well, I should’ve said to them, “If I don’t make it, don’t you forget about me.”

One of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. You see these two boys go from thinking they’ll be the next NBA stars to an uncertain future. Whether it be medical or motivational, these problems are both universal and unfortunately specific.

19. His Girl Friday (1940)

Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell

Walter, you’re wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way.

The fastest dialogue I’ve ever heard keeps the energy going from start to end. Cary Grant is king of the screwball comedy and Rosalind Russell is up to the challenge of keeping up and even getting ahead of him. Consistently rewatchable.

9. Alien (1979)

Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt

I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.

The ultimate haunted house movie… that’s also set in space. Sigourney Weaver faces off against a man in a big rubber suit, and it’s one of the scariest movies of all time. Ridley Scott understands the Jaws lesson of showing less monster to get more scares. With one great sequel (3), one horrible sequel (Aliens) and one crazy sequel (Resurrection), I can’t wait to see what Scott does in the prequel. The original is an astounding film.

The other parts of the list:

The _0’s section

The _9’s section

The _8’s section

The _7’s section

The _6’s section

The _5’s section

The _4’s section

The _3’s section

The _2’s section

The _1’s section