Thursday, September 30, 2010

98. The Brave Little Toaster (1987)


North by northwest. Watch out for low-flying aircraft.

Beginning in 1994 a little upstart studio called Pixar will dominate this blog all the way up until 2010. This movie was supposed to be Pixar's first. John Lasseter (the man behind Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, and Cars) was working at Disney and really wanted to make this film. His dream was to mix computer generated animation with hand-drawn to create a new type of film. Disney execs heard "computer-generated" and instantly thought "cheaper". When Lasseter admitted that it would cost about the same as a traditional animated movie, Disney pulled the plug on the project and Lasseter promptly quit. Lasseter would continue his dream of CG animation and eventually realize it with Toy Story. You can see why he really wanted to make this The Brave Little Toaster because the two movies revolve around very similar themes of family, abandonment, and love for your fellow man (or toy, or appliance). If you like Pixar's brand of thinking-man's animated movies, you should definitely give this movie a watch. Even if you saw it as a kid on the Disney channel, check it out again as an adult. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

97. The Princess Bride (1987)


Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

It may sound strange, but I truly believe that this movie is the most complete, all-around, best movie of all time. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that it was Oscar-worthy, and it certainly isn't a movie that I would even list among my top ten favorites of all time. Still, it is the most perfect combination of storytelling, humor, adventure, and just plain entertainment that has ever been put to celluloid. Watching the interplay of Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin, and Wallace Shawn as the three kidnappers is absolutely awesome. I could watch Billy Crystal's cameo as Miracle Max on a loop for a few hours and not get bored. An additional bit of trivia: the six-fingered man is portrayed by Christopher Guest who pretty much created the genre of mockumentary with "This is Spinal Tap", "Waiting for Guffman", and "Best in Show".

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

96. River's Edge (1986)


This is like some *#)$in' movie. Friends since second grade, *#($in' like THIS
[crosses fingers] and then one of us gets himself in potentially BIG trouble, and now we've gotta deal with it; we've got to test our loyalty against ALL odds. It's kind of... exciting. I feel like... Chuck Norris, y'know?

There is a very fine line between genius and insanity. Proof of this is embodied in Mr. Crispin Glover. He is an absolute master at playing the endearing quirky guy, but he is also pretty freakin' crazy (don't believe me, google his movie "What is It?"). In this movie he plays a role that captures the "rubber-necker" in all of us. The part of our inner psyche that we usually can keep suppressed but every once in a while peeks its ugly head out with a sincere curiousity about the grotesque and morbid. The story is about a group of friends' reactions when they learn that one of their friends has strangled his girlfriend to death. It sounds pretty morbid, but it is actually quite fascinating to watch the very authentic but also unexpected story unfold. Dennis Hopper also makes his umpteenth appearance on the 365 as a really crazy fellow murderer who has a present relationship with his life-size plastic doll.

Monday, September 27, 2010

95. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)


Oh, him? He's harmless. Part of the free speech movement at Berkeley in the sixties. I think he did a little too much LDS.

Although nerds tend to stick together there are a few debates that will see no end: Who would win in a fight (Hobbits or Ewoks)? Who is the one true Green Lantern (Hal, Kyle, John, or Guy)? and the grandaddy of them all... Star Trek or Star Wars? I've always fallen on the Star Wars side of the debate (and Ewoks and Hal Jordan for the record), but that doesn't mean there isn't a very special place in my heart for the classic Star Trek cast. I'll be the first to admit that the even numbered Star Trek movies are all pretty awesome and this is my favorite. Star Trek always was at its best with over-the-top social commentary and time travel. The Voyage Home takes both of those concepts and cranks them to 11. Kirk and Spock "blending in" on the streets of San Francisco is absolutely hilarious. Not to mention the crew's mission, which is seriously to go back in time to save the whales.

This will not be the last Star Trek film in the 365, but it will be a really long time. If this was a list of the 370 or 380 best films of all time Wrath of Khan, The Undiscovered Country, and probably First Contact would have made it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

94. Hoosiers (1986)


Let's win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here.

I grew up wanting to play basketball. It sounds stupid now, but I really didn't have anybody telling me I couldn't do it. Some of my greatest memories from the early '90s involve buzzer beaters from the likes of Michael Jordan and Christian Laettner. One of the things that always appealed to me about basketball was its nearly universal access. Either you had a basketball goal growing up or you lived close to a court. I never owned a pair of shoulder pads, playing a baseball game was always such a chore, soccer was way too much running, but I was in the backyard emulating the '92 Duke Blue Devils nearly every afternoon. In this movie Gene Hackman's Coach Norman Dale echoes this sentiment as his team makes their arrival at the coliseum which will host the state championship. He instructs one of the players to put the shortest player on his shoulders. He then hands them a measuring tape and asks the height of the goal. "10 feet", the players respond. The coach then replies: "Just like home". Bottom line, one of the greatest underdog sports movies of all time.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

93. Aliens (1986)


You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them *#&@ing each other over for a !#*@%$* percentage.

Ridley Scott's "Alien" may have introduced the amazing facehugger to the silver screen, but James Cameron's sequel is what truly kicked off the franchise. This isn't to take anything away from the 1979 film. It is one of the creepiest, claustraphobic sci-fi films ever, but Ripley cranked it up a notch in this one and ensured that acid-bleeding behemoths would hang around in fan-fiction, comics, novels, video-games, and movies for the next 25 years and beyond.

Friday, September 24, 2010

92. Platoon (1986)


I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. The enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possession of my soul." There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.

I know I said that "From Here to Eternity" is my favorite war movie of all time. That was kind of cheating because only the last 15 minutes or so actually take place during a "war". With this in mind, I submit that this movie is my favorite movie "about" war of all time. It really feels wrong calling it a "favorite" though because in my opinion there is nothing good that can come out of war. Oliver Stone seems to share my views though and, with this movie, he uses the excitement and thrill of realistic war to force the viewer to question why they are excited and thrilled at all by the horrors presented. Charlie Sheen has a perfect breakout role as he takes the viewer along with him on his tour of duty in Vietnam. The "two fathers" he mentions in the quote above are portrayed flawlessly by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger who play the roles of the two sides of the viewers' conscience.

As many know, along with my love of movies, I also have a deep love of movie award shows. I host an Oscar party every year (at which I get more excited than the Super Bowl, easily). Still, my favorite awards show is the Independent Spirit Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences usually nominate my favorite films of the year, but rarely pick them for their premiere awards. On the other hand, the winner of the Spirit award is usually in my top two or three for the year. I say all of this because "Platoon" was the only movie in the history of these awards won both the Spirit award and the Academy award for best picture. This will forever be known (in my mind, at least) as the year Oscar got it right...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

91. Castle in the Sky (1986)


This is no longer a throne room. This is a tomb for the both of us. You see, a king without compassion does not deserve a kingdom. You will *never* possess the crystal! You and I will die here, together. Now I understand why the people of Laputa vanished. This is a song from my home in the valley of Gondoa that explains everything. It says, "Take root in the ground, live in harmony with the wind, plant your seeds in the Winter, and rejoice with the birds in the coming of Spring." No matter how many weapons you have, no matter how great your technology might be, the world cannot live without love.

My favorite film from Hayao Miyazaki. A young boy discovers an unconscious girl floating down from the sky, and together they embark on a journey to rediscover and protect Laputa (the lost city in the sky) from greedy pirates and insidious government agents. This movie offers edge-of-your seat action, completely original landscapes, awesome "steampunk"-like airships, and probably the most vivid, artistic visuals of any traditionally animated movie I have ever seen. A word of caution though, I urge you not to watch this movie with the dubbed English. James Van Der Beek simply ruins it for me playing the "little boy" in this film.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

90. An American Tail (1986)


In America... there are no... cats.

One of my all-time favorites from my favorite director of animated films of all time, Don Bluth. I still get a little eyeball sweat (thanks Coach Ruff!) each time I hear the fragile notes of "Somewhere out There". The simple act of telling the story of immigrants coming to New York during the reign of Tammany Hall from the perspective of Russian mice was a stroke of artistic genius.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

89. The Goonies (1985)


Don't you realize? The next time you see sky, it'll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it'll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here.

When I was three years old, my Grandmama took me to see my first movie: "Follow that Bird". It was the first Sesame Street movie, and I really don't remember much about the experience except that I was sad when they painted Big Bird blue. In June of 1985, a few weeks shy of my fourth birthday my Mama went to the hospital to await the arrival of my sister, Kim. I'm not really sure how it happened (probably something about a preschooler and sitting around the hospital not meshing too well), but my Daddy ended up taking me around the corner to the old Plaza movie theater in Kinston. What we would see would change the way I look at that big moving screen for the rest of my life. Daddy still gets tickled thinking about me literally falling out of my seat laughing when Brand burns the training wheels off a little girl's bicycle and flies off of the road.

Goonies is the perfect movie for little boys (and girls for that matter). What sets this adventure story apart from things like Star Wars, James Bond, or Indiana Jones, is that the stars are real kids with no special powers who just happen to stumble upon a treasure map. The Goonies talk, argue, play, and flirt just like my friends on the playground did. It didn't hurt that the kids ended up being chased by criminals, beating "booty" traps, discovering (and exhuming) a real pirate ship, and ultimately saving the endangered homes of their parents. There are so many things from this film that bring my generation together. Say "HEY YOU GUUUUYYYYYYS!" in a crowd of 25-35 year-olds and everyone instantly looks around for Sloth swinging in on a rope to save the day. The "Truffle Shuffle" gives young men like myself something to do when the ESPN camera points to them after an ECU touchdown. It really all comes down to the fact that "What's good enough for you, is good enough for me!"

Monday, September 20, 2010

88. Back to the Future (1985)


Don't worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lightning strikes the tower... everything will be fine.

Hopefully you've already seen this modern masterpiece. If not, please do so immediately. The music and clothes may be a little dated, but the trilogy is (in my humble opinion) the greatest time travel saga of all time (and everybody dreams of traveling through time, right?). With this in mind, I'll treat you to some fun trivia:

-Michael J. Fox almost couldn't film the movie due to commitments on "Family Ties".
-Tony Hawk helped choreograph the skateboard scenes but was too tall to be Michael J. Fox's stunt double.
-Michael J. Fox is ten days younger than Lea Thompson and three years older than Crispin Glover... They play his parents in the film... He was also 24 when this film released which means he was still playing the same "high school" student in 1990 when he was 29 (my age)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

87. The Neverending Story (1984)


Having a luck dragon with you is the only way to go on a quest.

Great movies are so involving that you forget that you are watching a movie and truly invest in the story and characters. Most of the time, movies attempt to do this by creating characters that the viewer can connect with in some way. This is pretty easy to do in dramas or comedies, but more abstract genres such as sci-fi or fantasy sometimes have quite a bit of trouble doing this. It's pretty hard to connect to someone who is riding a unicorn, docking a spaceship, or wielding a lasersword, things that a viewer will never do. "The Neverending Story" finds a unique way to solve this problem. The viewer is taken on a journey to the magical world of Fantasia through the eyes of a normal young truant named Bastain as he reads the movie's namesake book. This is especially powerful during the conclusion of the film as Bastain's fourth wall comes down to reveal his power over the storyline.

All of this is icing on the cake of an exciting, daring, sad adventure as Atreyu and Falcor the Luckdragon fight to save the Fantasia and the Childlike Empress from the Nothing.

PS: You know that you would give up a year's salary for one ride on a luckdragon.... You KNOW this.....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

86. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)


There's nothing to fear...

Be very careful with labels. This movie is Japanese, it is based on a manga (Japanese comic book), and I guess you could label it early anime. Still, don't put this movie in the same box as Dragonball Z. I would list Hayao Miyazaki as one of the top five greatest filmmakers of our modern era. His movies do things and go places that no other movies have. They blend uber-imaginative visuals with stories that stick with the viewer long after the last strains of beautiful orchestration fade from the credits.

"Nausicaa" was the first film to be completely conceived, written, and directed by Miyazaki. If it came out next week in the theaters in America, it would be seen as groundbreaking. He made "Avatar" twenty-six years ago. Adventure, peril, and high-flying action all meet as Princess Nausicaa fights to understand the "toxic forest" and its dangerous creatures while other forces seek to simply destroy the blight on post-apocalyptic Earth. I urge you to watch this film with the original Japanese dialogue, but I am assured by those that know that the recent Disney English dubs are passable. With this is mind, there is no excuse for not seeing this movie immediately. Even if you are cool enough to have seen it at its original release, please revisit it today for a couple of reasons. First, the movie was released in America as "Warriors of the Wind" and hacked up to be more "kid-friendly". Second, this movie is more relavent now than ever as we are at war with those who would have us believe that climate change is a hoax and others that see no problem with there still being such a thing as a plastic water bottle.

Friday, September 17, 2010

85. The Karate Kid (1984)


Wax on, right hand. Wax off, left hand. Wax on, wax off. Breathe in through nose, out the mouth. Wax on, wax off. Don't forget to breathe, very important.
Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.

Whenever anyone makes a "best of all time list", they inevitably include a little film about a washed up, slurring boxer from Philadelphia who beats the odds and holds his on against the best fighter in the world. Well for all of us that are between the ages of 25 and 35, THIS is our "Rocky", and, in my honest opinion, I think it is a better film. Daniel-san not only learns his lessons from a much more interesting mentor than Stallone ever had, but he comes out on top in the end. Pat Morita's Mr. Miyagi is the best sage on the silver screen this side of Dagobah, and Elizabeth Shue is both adorable and a valuable member of Daniel's support team.

If you ever tried a "crane kick", this pick is for you!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

84. Blood Simple (1984)


The world is full o' complainers. An' the fact is, nothin' comes with a guarantee. Now I don't care if you're the pope of Rome, President of the United States or Man of the Year; somethin' can all go wrong. Now go on ahead, y'know, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, 'n watch him fly. Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else... that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, an' down here... you're on your own.

This movie marks the film debuts of three folks who will be regulars on this list until next June. The first is Frances McDormand. She has made a career out of playing smart, take-no-crap, strong women and it all started here. She plays Abby who gets stuck in a double and triple crossed blackmail ring as she is cheating on her no good husband with one of his employees. The plot is a little too complicated to describe here, but that is thanks to the other two blog regulars. This is the first film from the directing, writing, and producing team of Ethan and Joel Coen. If you liked "No Country for Old Men", "Fargo", or "Miller's Crossing", I urge you to check this movie out. The brothers hadn't quite honed their art yet (especially not their comedic skills), but this movie shows them are their most delicious raw core.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

83. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)


You call him Dr. Jones, doll!

Indiana Jones, one of the coolest fictional characters of all time gets three ingredients that he really needs with this sequel: A damsel in distress that is dumb enough to constantly get herself in trouble, but also sweet enough to be worth saving; a village in need of a savior as the evil men at the temple are stealing away all their young boys; and probably the single greatest sidekick in the history of movies, Short Round. Jonathan Ke Quan plays the cute (but not annoying) and vulnerable (but pretty tough) role with perfection. This one really has it all: edge of your seat action (Indy probably cheats death no less than 10 times), perfect comic timing (You say to stand against the wall! I listen to what you say! Not my fault! Not my fault! ), and John Williams once again adding that next level of awesome.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

82. Return of the Jedi (1983)


Remember, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Luke... Luke... do not... do not underestimate the powers of the Emperor or suffer your father's fate you will. Luke, when gone am I... the last of the Jedi will you be. Luke, the Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned, Luke. There is... another... Sky... walker.

I've always said that you have movies... and then you have STAR WARS movies. "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." Of the six times that those wonderful words have graced the screens of movie theaters worldwide, for me this one goes a little above and beyond the rest. Maybe it is because this movie (and the toys, comics, cartoons, and books around it) pretty much drove most of my childhood, but this is pretty much my favorite movie of all time. Compared to other films in the franchise this one begins relatively slow, on Tatooine instead of with a frenzied space battle, but it is simply putting the chess pieces in place for one of the coolest moments in the history of movies.

Luke Skywalker is pushed to the edge of the desert skiff's plank. He is to be put to death in the belly of the Sarlaac (where he will be digested for over a thousand years) along with his friends Chewbacca and Han Solo. Leia has become the pet of his captor, Jabba the Hutt. He tells Jabba that this is his final chance to free them or die... Jabba laughs and says, "Put him in!" To this, Luke signals R2-D2 who fires his lightsaber across the pit of Carkoon. Luke jumps of the plank, grabs it with his hands, uses it to spring himself onto the main hull of the skiff, grabs his lightsaber midair and the battle is on.... I think I may have broken out in a sweat while writing that... so, so, freakin' awesome!

The movie goes on to include such awesomeness as Speeder Bike chases through the forest moon of Endor, getting captured then teaming up with Ewoks, Yoda and Obi-Wan telling Luke the truth about his family, orchestrating one of the greatest space battles of all time in the destruction of the second Death Star, Ewoks beating up stormtroopers and AT-STs, Luke facing Vader once more, Vader seeing the light, Admiral Ackbar discovering that "IT'S A TRAP!", and that awesome final victory song and dance. Now, let's be clear all of that is from the original and enhanced (read pre-1997) versions of the film. The special edition has some MAJOR problems in my opinion, the most glaring being the complete destruction of the final music of the movie. If you watch this movie, please watch the original versions. If you are not singing "YUB, YUB" at the end, it is incorrect.

I could write on this for hours... I probably should go to sleep.... No more Star Wars for sixteen years (in the blog that is)...

Monday, September 13, 2010

81. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)


Beeeeeee... gooood.

I never really wanted pets growing up. Don't get me wrong I had an amazing dog, a few bearable tomcats, and a cool-as-ice turtle, but I never really yearned for animal companionship. What I did want was a little brown alien that I could carry around on my bicycle and fly across the moon. This movie combines so many childhood fantasies it is unreal. Discovering an unknown creature in the woods, outsmarting the grown-ups, flirting with the cute blonde girl in class, playing with Star Wars toys with a freakin' alien (head explodes at the awesomeness), and running from the cops (for all the right reasons of course) on BMX bikes. Looking back that final chase scene isn't really up to par with some of the great chase scenes in movie history, but it was something I could do. I couldn't drive a car really fast like Steve McQueen; I couldn't jump from truck to truck like Indiana Jones; and I couldn't dangle from helicopters like James Bond, but I could ride my huffy and reenact that final scene every afternoon in my backyard (aside from the cops and flying finale of course). The other great thing to take from this movie is the view of aliens as beings that are only intersested in scientific investigation and telling us to "be good". That may not be as exciting as running from your life from an acid-bleeding, brain-sucking terror, but it sure does warm the heart and offers a pretty cool model for humanity at the same time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

80. History of the World: Part I (1981)


Torquemada... do not implore him for compassion.Torquemada... do not beg him for forgiveness.Torquemada... do not ask him for mercy.Let's face it,you can't Torquemada anything!

Mel Brooks takes on a few select moments in history to poke fun at in his least linear feature. This movie is simply a selection of skits that use puns, potty humor, and extreme sexual innuendo to retell the history of early man, Biblical times, the Roman Empire, and the Spanish Inquisition. This movie is worth it for the "eunich" test if nothing more. It also includes a trailer for "History of the World: Part II" featuring Jews in space. Still waiting for that one... or are we....

History of the World: Part II

Saturday, September 11, 2010

79. The Fox and the Hound (1981)


-Copper, you're my best friend.
-And you're mine too, Tod.
-And we'll always be friends forever. Won't we?
-Yeah, forever.

I know this is a corny, sappy cartoon; I know it is about a fox and a dog; I know that not every story can end happily; but there is just something pure and simple about this movie that tells the story of brotherly love conquering all. Corey Feldman's whiney "Yeah, forever" in the quote above still brings a little tear to my eye.

Friday, September 10, 2010

78. Reds (1981)


All right, Miss Bryant, do you want an interview? Write this down. Are you naïve enough to think containing German militarism has anything to do with this war? Don't you understand that England and France own the world economy and Germany just wants a piece of it? Keep writing, Miss Bryant. Miss Bryant, can't you grasp that J. P. Morgan has loaned England and France a billion dollars? And if Germany wins, he won't get it back! More coffee? America'd be entering the war to protect J. P. Morgan's money. If he loses, we'll have a depression. So the real question is, why do we have an economy where the poor have to pay so the rich won't lose money?

I have always been a pretty big fan of Karl Marx. The ideals of socialism make a whole lot of sense to me. Working for the good of all, instead of crushing others under your boot as you try to get the most pieces of paper, has held an appeal for me ever since I was old enough to think about such things. This movie follows the true story of John Reed (and even includes interspersed interviews with actual witnesses) as he takes part in the Russian October revolution and subsequently attempts a similar coup in America. Almost secondary to this theme is the epic love story that follows Reed through the three hour and fifteen minute runtime. Warren Beatty co-wrote, directed, and starred in this feature that has been sadly forgotten by many over the years. Diane Keaton stars as Reed's love interest (and fellow revolutionary) and Jack Nicholson takes an amazing turn as playwright Eugene O'Neal.

I hate to sound like a conspiracy nut, but I really don't have any idea why this movie doesn't get more attention. Except, you know, for the fact that it does a fine job of glorifying anti-capitalist sentiment. It's probably not in the best interest of our corporate machines (whether it be TV, print, or internets) to educate young people like me about the greatness of this movie (or John Reed for that matter).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

77. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)


Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities.

George Lucas developing a story directed by Steven Spielberg scored by John Williams written by Lawrence Kasdan about Harrison Ford beating up Nazis and being a swashbuckling archaeoligist adventurer. This movie joins a very short list of nearly perfect movies. From the opening booby-trap chase, to the covert infiltration of a Nazi camp, to the brawl around the airplane, to the greatest chase through the desert of all time, Indy never fails to deliver.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

76. Das Boot (1981)


Mildew is good for you. It's the next best thing to fresh lettuce. Be thankful for what grows down here.

The best submarine movie of all time. Claustraphobic, thrilling, and epic. What makes it even more interesting is that it is a rarely seen humanization of Germans during World War II.

PS: So we are up to the year of my birth. I didn't really start watching movies with a passion until I was in college, so we still have a few years before things really slow down, but I assure you there are 189 movies left.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

75. The Shining (1980)


No sir, YOU are the caretaker. You've always been the caretaker. I ought to know: I've always been here.

I'm a little embarassed that this is my only Stanley Kubrick film on the 365. Especially since I would list him among the top ten greatest filmmakers ever. I have three excuses. One, I haven't seen any of his older films except Dr. Strangelove (which I liked, but I find a tad overrated). Two, I simply have not been able to make it through "2001". You should get 3 hours of college credit for being able to pay attention for the full running time of that flick. Three, his movies just aren't "my type" of movies. Still, I totally respect his work if for nothing else but it sheer scope from horror (The Shining) to war (Full Metal Jacket) to sci-fi (2001) to historical epic (Spartacus) to erotic drama (Eyes Wide Shut) to dystopian commentary (A Clockwork Orange). I don't know of any other director that can be that awesome in that many genres. I sincerely would have loved to see his vision of "A.I.". Although, you'll see many more Speilberg movies on this list I view Kubrick as the greater visionary.

On to the movie at hand. I have said before I am not the biggest horror fan, but this movie certainly transcends the genre. If this movie doesn't at least freak you out a tad, then you've been playing too much WOW and you are desensitized beyond all possibility. Add all of the components of big empty house to ghosts, blood, mystery, creepy children, and crazy Jack Nicholson and you have probably the most frightening movie of all time. Understand, I mean frightening in an artistic way, not in a "BOO, this movie just made me jump" way (anybody can do that).

In conclusion, sorry Mr. Kubrick, I totally respect your work (and need to see more of it), but this is your token cameo appearance in the 365.

Monday, September 6, 2010

74. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)


No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.

So many wonderful things were added to the Star Wars mythos with this movie: Yoda, Lando, Cloud City, Hoth, Boba Fett, Tauntauns, AT-AT walkers, Carbonite, and John Williams' "Imperial March". By the way, what would Star Wars (or a plethora of other films for that matter) have been without that wonderful touch of penetrating auditory magic from John Williams. Here is an amazing tribute (thanks Aleks!):

Sunday, September 5, 2010

73. Manhattan (1979)


You know what you are? You're God's answer to Job, y'know? You would have ended all argument between them. I mean, He would have pointed to you and said, y'know, "I do a lot of terrible things, but I can still make one of these." You know? And then Job would have said, "Eh. Yeah, well, you win."

Another amazing film from Woody Allen in the same vein as "Annie Hall", but with a tad more heart and artistry. But that's not really what's important right now...


Saturday, September 4, 2010

72. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)


How much courage does it take to walk out on your kid?

Movies are full of stories about dead-beat men doing their wives/girlfriends wrong and having said woman overcome that adversity in a moving way. This is as it should be because many men are complete dogs and don't deserve their beautiful companion. Still, it took a lot of guts to tell the story of a man scorned, and at the height of the female empowerment movement.

Hopefully I don't offend anybody with this take, but maybe it is because I am a father who dearly loves his daughter. Meryl Streep portrays Joanna Kramer as one of the most dastardly villians to ever grace the silver screen. Ted Kramer (portrayed once again by the amazing Dustin Hoffman, I think he has a month-worth of movies on this blog) certainly had his flaws, but the things that this woman put him through were heartless, selfish, and utterly evil. I think it was Blink-182 who said it best: "Stay together for the kids".

Friday, September 3, 2010

71. Dawn of the Dead (1978)


This isn't the Republicans versus the Democrats, where we're in a hole economically or... or we're in another war. This is more crucial than that. This is down to the line, folks, this is down to the line. There can be no more divisions among the living!

Romero does it again with his first sequel to "Night of the Living Dead". While this may not be the most "exciting" or "scary" horror movie, this movie is the model for inserting social commentary into your horror movie. With Night Romero took on racism, in Dawn he attacked the souls of every red-blooded American: the mall. Zombies were drawn to the mall like a shrine to their former lives of care-free commercialism. At the same time, those left among the living began to realize how unimportant materialism could be when your life is on the line.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

70. Animal House (1978)


Christ. Seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the #*$@ing Peace Corps.

My favorite comedy of all time. All the greatness of college without the hangover. This would be an above average "gross-out" comedy if not for one completely unpredictable element: the comedic genius of John Belushi in his most famous role of his all too short career. Other highlights include Kevin Bacon in his big-screen debut, the super coolness of Otter (especially while seducing Dean Wormer's wife), and the toga party (probably the greatest party in any movie ever).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

69. Star Wars (1977)


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

I seriously do not remember watching any of the original Star Wars movies for the first time. They have always been an ever present part of my life, be it reading books with records (and later books with tapes), playing with my Death Star playset, catching the movies on TV (and later on VHS, repeatedly), or pretending I had a lightsaber every time I picked up a flashlight. As I have written already, this movie changed so much about the art and business of film. Every movie that makes your jaw drop with stunning, special effect laden battles and causes the 8 year old inside of you jump up and down with glee has this movie to thank.

There really are too many amazing things about this first movie to list, but I'll give it a go:

-That first shot.... so, so perfect...
-C3-PO, who would be annoying except for his comic straightman (and all-around savior of Star Wars humanity) R2-D2 constantly putting him in his place with his smart-alec beeps.
-Luke Skywalker in the role of the farmboy who yearns to fly through the stars (otherwise known as every little boy and girl who ever looked up at the stars)
-Han Solo - the coolest character in the history of movies, period.
-Leia - Damsel in distress who has no problem taking care of herself, thankyouverymuch.
-The Millenium Falcon - fastest hunk-a-junk in the universe with the most unlikely of co-pilots
-Garbage Chute scene - I still worry that R2-D2 won't be fast enough
-Space combat - they pulled this off in 19 freakin' 77... I still can't believe it...
-Rag-tag group of rebels take on (and defeat) the big evil empire. This sentence makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, seriously...