Tag: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Top 100 Movies (2014 Edition): Scenes from Numbers 34, 12, 59, 57, and 76

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Does the title confuse you? Let’s break it down together. First, it’s my annual top 100 Movies List time. Every year I update my top 100 movies list with things newly watched and rewatched, and newly ordered based on whatever whims were coursing through me roughly 2 hours ago, when I (mostly) finalized my list for 2014. I say mostly because summer has become my most fruitful movie watching season and it isn’t quite over yet, so I want to give myself some room to mess around with the back end of the list by having only 99 movies on the list as currently composed and with the last two in the list holding temporary spots. This leaves between 1 and 3 spots available for movies that wow me in the next month or so, and that’s certainly possible, as two movies that I watched over the weekend will be appearing here at some point in the future.

Now, for the format of the presentation. I’ve grown tired of just doing a mini paragraph about each movie with a quote and a link to a full review. If you want that, go to last year’s version of the list. For this year I’m doing something completely different. I’ll be picking one outstanding scene from each film and doing a write up about just that scene. And, to make it even more fun, I’ve run my list through a randomizer and will present five random movies from it every other day or so (don’t worry, fans of order, my full ordered list is available on letterboxd). Wherever possible, I’ll link to a youtube or vimeo version of the scene so you can play along. Where that isn’t possible, I’ll do a quick recap of the scene so that we’re all on the same page. And as always, the title of each movie will link to my full review if I’ve written one. Ready, begin.

34. The Long Day Closes – A Boy’s Places

The Long Day Closes is one of a good few coming of age movies on my list. It’s something I’m really attracted to in stories, for whatever reason. This particular one is a fictionalized autobiography of director Terence Davies focuses on four places which shaped him: his house, his church, his school, and the movie theater in which he would escape the above three for a few hours at a time. The conclusion of the film takes us back to all of those places and does so in a way that emphasizes their similarities and differences. The entire sequence is shot from above and tracking to the left and as church pews fade into school desks and one authority figure dissolves into another, we see the summation of the forces that guide an shape a young man, this young man. And that song is just perfect.

12. Modern Times – The Tramp Eats

Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp is one of the most indelible characters of cinema. Always disrespected but never disrespectful, he is the hero of genteel politeness in a body that distracts everybody but the lucky few from his underlying humanity. In this scene he is the test subject of a new machine which will allow factory workers to continue eating while they work, doubling their efficiency. The first fourth or so of the film is as lucid a critique of the modern factory system as we have and the silly invention is the height of both hilarity and satire. When it fails spectacularly, the boss rejects it: “It isn’t practical.” Nevermind the human toll, as the Tramp has collapsed on the floor from the invention’s cruel(ly funny) aberrations.

59. The Seventh Seal – Burning a Witch

“Will you every stop asking questions,” Death asks Antonius Block. Max von Sydow’s voice answers, but it’s director Ingmar Bergman’s words, “No, never.” The three Bergman movies I’ve seen are all about questions without answers, and the sometimes joy and sometimes terror they can bring. Here, it’s terror, as a young woman is burned for consorting with the devil. Block inquires about the devil, if only to ask him about God. His constant search brings him to much suffering, and only Death remains absolute.

57. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – A Phone Call

Max von Sydow makes another appearance here, this time towards the end of his acting career. It’s 50 years after The Seventh Seal and he’s playing the father to Mathieu Amalric’s Jean-Do, a paralyzed man who can only move his left eye. This scene captures the difficult relationship between the two, as they are both trapped, one by age and the other by his body. The movie is about the failings of our physical beings and the triumphs of our spirits, but it’s the gradual defocusing at the end of this scene that seals the movie for me. Throughout the film, the camera often takes the POV of Jean-Do and here, as elsewhere, it tells as much as the words through just the image. 

76. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – Snowball!

There is something to be said for silliness. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs has silliness in spades, and rarely is it more on display than in this fun scene that involve karate, ice cream, breaking and entering, poop, and weather reportage. Sometimes you’re asking questions about if God exists, other times you’re throwing mint chocolate chip snowballs at a grown woman’s face.

Do you have a favorite scene from any of these movies, or anything else to add? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

The movies of 2012 so far

Instead of presenting only a top 5 like I did with music last week, I’m going to list all the movies I’ve seen this year with a little bit of commentary for each of them. This list will start with the worst and end with the best as all lists should be.

23. The Devil Inside

One of the numerous exorcism movies of late, and the worst of them. It’s mostly boring, but when it gets interesting it also gets yell-y and annoying. D.

22. Safe House

Basically the only good thing to come out of this movie is Doug Benson’s tagline “No one is safe, no one is house.” It’s kinda dull for an action movie. And can we save Denzel Washington from being in these movies? Maybe Zemeckis and his upside-down plane movie will do it. D.

21. The Raid: Redemption

It’s all action. There are a few talking scenes that are poorly acted and uninteresting. The stunts and choreography are impressive but there’s only so much punching and kicking I can take. The new Judge Dredd movie seems to follow a similar plot, hopefully that will be better. D+.

20. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Well, it’s crazier than the first one. We finally learn what it looks like when Nic Cage pees while he’s in his demon form. There’s some fun action but the story is dumb and only Idris Elba is doing anything interesting. C+.

19. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

The first film was surprisingly competent, this one lacks the surprise element. It’s ok. Just watch the “pec pop of love” scene on youtube and move on with your life. C+.

18. Friends with Kids

Almost like a Bridesmaids reunion but with less funny. Adam Scott is good as always and Jon Hamm gets to do some good dramatic stuff. Mostly, though, it’s kinda blah. C+.

17. Lockout

Should have been called SPACE PRISON! or maybe ESCAPE FROM SPACE PRISON! because it is the same story as Escape from New York. Guy Pierce does a pretty solid Snake Plisskin, so that’s worth something. C+.

16. Wrath of the Titans

Kind of the opposite of the Journey series, this sequel was surprisingly competent. Sam Worthington is still boring as hell but you get a bit of Bill Nighy to liven up your day. The action is better this time around and the CGI is spectacular. B-.

15. The Woman in Black

The first big post-Harry Potter role for Daniel Radcliffe is this nice little horror film. I’m a pretty easy scare so horror films tend to work on me. This one gets some help from Ciarán Hinds, always a welcome sight. A nice little gothic horror film. B.

14. The Hunger Games

Read my full review here. A (too?) faithful adaptation of the bestselling book had a lot of hype and was entertaining enough to back it up. I was left hoping they’d venture beyond the book a little more than they did. The best scene (a certain death and its ramifications outside the game) is at least part invention. B.

13. Chronicle

A charming little found footage movie. We’ve started to move past using this style in only horror films with this superhero-esque story getting the treatment. They do some interesting things with it as the kids develop their telekinetic powers and start floating the cameras around. The ending was surprisingly effective as well. B+.

12. Jeff, Who Lives at Home

The super-realistic style doesn’t always match the story here, but some solid performances and writing save the day. Also, this movie is kind of obsessed with the underrated Shyamalan movie Signs, which is pretty awesome. B+.

11. John Carter

Good old-fashioned sci-fi epic. This story is the grandfather of science fiction as we know it and as such is sometimes a little familiar but the execution of those story elements are great, even if the script is a bit of a mess. I’d rather watch this than any of the Star Wars movies. B+.

10. Brave

It’s not an amazing movie like a lot of other Pixar films but it is really good. I loved the look of the film and the swooping camera really gets that fantastic feel. It feels rote and new at the same time, and I can’t really get at why that is. A-.

9. Haywire

Listen up, The Raid: Redemption, this is how you do an action movie. Gina Carano isn’t an actor by trade but her MMA background shines in the action scenes. This is a Steven Soderbergh film and as such it has style for miles. And I can’t resist a Michael Fassbender. A-.

8. 21 Jump Street

Maybe the surprise of the year. How did this movie based on a crappy tv show from the eighties turn into such a funny and subversive movie? Being from the same guys that did Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs helps, as does a surprisingly great performance from Channing Tatum. This movie is very funny. A-.

7. The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s too bad this movie came out after the (bad) Raimi versions because half of the discussion has revolved around whether or not its existence is “necessary.” Well, no movie is necessary, and this film is better than all the ones that came before it. Garfield and Stone do a great job and (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb moves the story along with style and grace. A-.

6. Coriolanus

Read my full review here. Ralph Fiennes does double duty as actor and director and accomplishes both admirably. A modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, the action scenes are good enough but it really shines in the dialogue. Vanessa Redgrave is really good in a supporting role as the mother of the proud military leader. A-.

5. Prometheus

Read my full review here. This movie doesn’t get a whole lot of love on the internet and it has problems to be sure. It remains, however, a fantastic film. I’d rather a movie reached for something interesting and fail than stay comfortably within the bounds of what we’ve come to expect from films. There are plot holes and some irrational decisions, but I’d challenge you to find a sci-fi movie where a character doesn’t act irrationally at one point or another. It’s a big, smart, ambitious movie and I will applaud that any day of the week. A-.

4. The Cabin in the Woods

If only this movie was actually scary, it’d have a good shot at making my top 100 list. As is, it’s a fun, clever movie about genre conventions and the role of movie-makers and their audience. And there’s even more evidence that Chris Hemsworth can act.

3. The Avengers

Funny that this and The Cabin in the Woods would end up next to each other with the elements they share (Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth). This is the culmination of all the Marvel movies that came before it and it’s better than all of them. The chemistry between all of the characters is fantastic and it moves quite well for a 2 and a half hour film. The big setpiece at the end of the movie is spectacular carnage. A.

2. We Need to Talk About Kevin

A movie about a mother and her son. Is the son evil, or is the mother coloring her memories with the crayons of regret and hindsight? Tilda Swinton gives such a phenomenal performance as the film cuts back and forth between the child’s development and the repercussions of a heinous act. It’s a mood movie, skillfully directed by Lynne Ramsay. A.

1. Moonrise Kingdom

Read my review here. I just posted it yesterday, so there’s not much to say about it. I’ll take this time to point you towards a fun little video encouraging you to see the film. It stars Jason Schwartzman and gives a little more of his hilarious character from the film proper. A.

What movies have I missed? What movies am I wrong about? Let me know your favorite movies of the year in the comment section.

5 Jawesome Things for the week of March 23, 2012

The five best things I came across in the past week.

1. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I wrote a full review here, but I forgot to mention a few things, so I’ll take this space to right my wrongs. I never really touched on how meta Eggers can get outside that opening section/preface. There are three scenes in particular where a regular conversation morphs into a back-and-forth with himself over the acceptability of writing a book about his friends and family. These asides are not only clever and interesting but vital to the success of the book. We have to know that Eggers is struggling with what he’s doing. He knows that no book can accurately capture these people’s lives and that they wouldn’t necessarily be happy if it did. It calls into question what Eggers the artist is doing to Eggers the reporter. Is the book more fiction than not? Does it matter?

2. 21 Jump Street

I’m just as surprised as you are. This movie was actually really funny, likely due to having some of the people behind the superb and underrated Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs involved in the directorial and writing positions. There are a few scenes that are just as crazy and absurd as that film is throughout, like the first drug trip the two undercover cops (the usually great Jonah Hill and the often-bad-but-surprisingly-great-here Channing Tatum) go on. It’s weird as hell and hilarious. The movie is pretty self aware, which is nice, and it actually does the buddy-cop thing pretty well. Fans of the tv show should keep an eye out for a few fun shoutouts and everybody should stay for the end credits, an explosion of color and clips and amazingness.

SWEARING!

3. Prometheus

Oh my. This movie cannot come out soon enough. It looks amazing. A prequel-thing to my 9th best movie of all time, Alien, directed by the director of that film, Ridley Scott would be enough to get me in the theater on opening day. Throw in MICHAEL FASSBENDER! and IDRIS ELBA! and NOOMI RAPACE! and I’ve already got my ticket purchased. Well, not really. Metaphorically. Jawesome! Now I just need to not see anything else until it comes out.

4. Javale McGee

Ah, basketball. The greatest of all sports. The only sport I care to watch. Javale McGee, a 7 foot center recently traded to the Denver Nuggets, was known as kind of an idiot around the league before this week. He had a lot of potential but it was all being wasted playing for the Washington Wizards. He did this there:

 That’s bad. However, in his first game as a Nugget he had an amazingly smart play to win the game. Watch it here: 
That’s some serious bball IQ right there. To get his defender off balance by stepping back and then hanging in midair to make sure he didn’t get called for goaltending takes a lot of smarts. I hope he continues to improve on his new team. Also, he has a DJ Roomba!

5. The end of Star Trek DS9‘s fifth season

I started watching DS9 because it was pointed to as a spiritual precedent for the Battlestar Galactica reboot. That show had a great mix of character, situation, and deep philosophical dilemmas. All of those things can be found on DS9, albeit in a bit softer form. But the softness isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I think that seeing these characters in situations that don’t concern the end of the human race allows them to be more fully developed. I liked a lot of the characters on BSG but I never got a feel for them as people, only as hardened warriors or meek bystanders. On DS9 there are life threatening situations, but there are also fun-time episodes. Those fun-time episodes make the events of the fifth season finale, the invasion by the Dominion and Cardassians, all the more exciting and intense. We know who all of these people are and we care deeply about them and their predicament. The final episode is executed perfectly, each character gets something to do and has something to lose. It’s wonderful.

BCE Presents: Houdini’s Magic Ticket

 I can get King Kong! We’ll have a nightmare with Freddy Krueger, have a surprise party for Adolf Hitler, Hannibal Lecter can do the catering, and then we’ll have christening for Rosemary’s Baby! All I have to do is snap my fingers and they’ll be here. They’re lining up to get here, and do you know why Jack? Should I tell you why? Hmm? Because here, in this world, the bad guys can win! ~ The Last Action Hero

Here’s a new thing to do. There are things that travel from blog to blog for each participant to weigh in on important matters like what movie world you’d like to live in. When one of these catches my writerly spirit I’ll call it BCE Presents.

This was first presented to me by the super awesome Jessica over at The Velvet Café, who describes the project thusly: Inspired by the movie Last Action Hero, the idea is that you have a magic ticket that can transport you into any film you like.

And now, BCE Presents: Houdini’s Magic Ticket.

What character would I most like to be sat next to on a plane?

Susan Vance from Bringing Up Baby. Here’s the thing, she’s probably the best person in all of cinema. She’s got a crazy energy where she just embraces everything as a potential adventure. Even though we’d only be on a plane for a few hours at most we could probably get into some fun hijinks. And maybe she’d find a way to bring Cary Grant along.

What character would I most like to enjoy a passionate romance with?

This might just be an excuse to use a picture of Jennifer Lopez, but my choice here is Karen Sisco from Out of Sight. Firstly, she’s amazing looking. That matters if we’re talking fantasy here. But she’s also caring and strong and intelligent. And she can protect me from evil people like Don Cheadle.

If I were a cop, who would I want as my partner?

He’s not a real cop, however my pick is Gay Perry from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He’s obviously a capable investigator. He’s got a lot of fun quips about everything. And if he’s attracted to me that will be all the more reason to keep me safe and watch my back when we’re out crime solving. With our quips.

What animated feature would I love to walk around in?

I think the clear answer here is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It’s got a surreal, David Lynch-ian world where everything is made of food and Mister T has an inverted mohawk. It’s insane! But really, the best argument for this world is the Jell-o Mold Mansion. It’s even got a Jell-o swimming pool and a Jell-o piano.

What adventure based on Earth would I most like to go on?

The Fall is a movie filled with swashbuckling and a bunch of fantastic locations. Every place looks amazing and the the group of people traveling around the world is made up of a lot of cool people. Lee Pace is awesome and there’s a monkey!

What adventure based in an otherworldy, fantasy-based location would I most like to go on?

This adventure has to involve multiple planets. It’s gotta have space battles. There’s gotta be a cool group of young, attractive people. And it would help if Simon Pegg and lens flairs were involved. This leaves us only one option: Shaun of the Dead. Oh, wait, not that one. Star Trek (09). Yeah, that’s the one.

What movie gadget would I love to try out (or steal)?

I only like gadgets that have songs about them. Hence my choice of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the film of the same name. This car isn’t just a car. It’s also a boat and a plane and the styling is out of this world. It’s a gorgeous vehicle and way better than my dumpy old Jetta. Well, a little better than my dumpy old Jetta.

What film’s plot would I alter and how would I do it?

Even though I defend the film’s third act, I’d have to change Sunshine. It really sucks that every discussion of the film ignores the greatness of the majority of the film because people don’t like how it ends. So I’d eradicate the monster guy for something a little easier to swallow. Then the discussion could be about the characters and the beauty of the film instead of how it goes “off the rails” at the end.

What film would I want to be transported into, simply to be a part of that world?

The whole point of this exercise is to pick movie’s we’d like to be a part of, so I’m going to take that a step further and enter a movie that lets you enter books! The Pagemaster was a big part of my childhood and having that library card that literally transports you to a world where books come to life would be amazing. And then I’d be in a place where Leonard Nimoy hangs out for the second time in this blog post.

Check out what other people chose for their lists over at Top 10 Films. Good stuff over there!