Sunday, January 30, 2011

220. The Devil's Backbone (2001)


What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber. A ghost is me.

The greatest Spanish horror movie I have ever seen. I know that makes it a pretty short list, but this movie is downright amazing. Combine the creepiness of a boy's orphanage in the middle of nowhere Spain, the end-of-war tensions of 1939 (Spanish Civil War), with a very mysterious presence, and you have the makings of one of the scariest, most interesting thrillers I have ever seen. This was also Guillermo del Toro's first critically aclaimed film (after the so-so "Mimic") and paved the way for the greatness that is "Hellboy".

Saturday, January 29, 2011

219. Enemy at the Gates (2001)


I saw you. You were reading and you fell asleep. Oh, I didn't dare look at you, you were so beautiful. It was scary. Afterwards, I couldn't stop thinking about you. It made me smile. And then I thought of all the men who would get to hold you, who would make you laugh... how lucky they were. And now I'm the one lying next to you.

There are probably more movies about World War II than any other war, but only a handful of those movies cover the brutal battle on the eastern front between German forces and Russians defending their homeland. This movie adds the element of sniper warfare and a beautiful love story. Jude Law and Rachel Weisz do an amazing job at making me believe in the Russian story told with English-speaking actors.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bonus Post #2: Oscar Ballot

All across the country members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are mailing in their ranked ballots for the Oscars on February 27th. I'm no member, but here's my rankings anyway. I am only ranking the films I have seen.

Actor in a Leading Role
James Franco in “127 Hours”
Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”

Animated Feature Film
“Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich
“How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

Art Direction
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
“True Grit”
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
“The King's Speech”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
“Alice in Wonderland”
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara

“True Grit” Roger Deakins
“The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
“Inception” Wally Pfister
“The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
“Black Swan” Matthew Libatique

Costume Design
“True Grit” Mary Zophres
“The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan
“Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood

“The Fighter” David O. Russell
“True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“The Social Network” David Fincher
“The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
“Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky

Documentary (Feature)
“Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
“Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz

Film Editing
“127 Hours” Jon Harris
“The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
“The Fighter” Pamela Martin
“The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
“Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum

Music (Original Score)
“How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
“The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
“127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
“Inception” Hans Zimmer
“The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat

Music (Original Song)
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
Best Picture
“I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey

Best Picture
“Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
“The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
“The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
“127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
“The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ce├ín Chaffin, Producers
“Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers
“True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
“The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
“Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers

Short Film (Animated)
“Day & Night” Teddy Newton

Sound Editing
“Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
“Inception” Richard King
“True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
“Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing
“The King's Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
“Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
“The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
“True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin

Visual Effects
“Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley
“Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
“Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick and Peter Bebb

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
“True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“Winter's Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
“Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
“The King's Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

218. Ghost World (2001)


-How come all that time I was trying to get you a date you never asked me out?
-You're a beautiful girl, I couldn't imagine you'd have any interest in me except as an amusingly cranky eccentric curiosity.

I freely admit that I really need to watch this one again. I don't remember much about it except for loving it, Steve Buscemi being awesome, and falling in love with Scarlett Johansson.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

217. A Knight's Tale (2001)


My lords, my ladies, and everybody else here not sitting on a cushion! Today... today, you find yourselves equals. For you are all equally blessed. For I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure of introducing to you to a knight, sired by knights. A knight who can trace his lineage back beyond Charlemagne. I first met him atop a mountain near Jerusalem, praying to God, asking his forgiveness for the Saracen blood spilt by his sword. Next, he amazed me still further in Italy when he saved a fatherless beauty from the would-be ravishing of her dreadful Turkish uncle. In Greece he spent a year in silence just to better understand the sound of a whisper. And so without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you, the seeker of serenity, the protector of Italian virginity, the enforcer of our Lord God, the one, the only, Sir Ulllrrrich von Lichtenstein!

How amazing is this movie? Let me count the ways:
1. Heath Ledger's breakout role.
2. The filmakers had the guts to make what is pretty much a sports movie about jousting set during the middle ages.
3. Paul Bettany as Chaucer... naked...
4. Alan Tudyk. May Wash rest in peace.
5. The movie opens with Queen's "We Will Rock You" sung by the audience of a joust.
6. They dance to David Bowie's "Golden Years".
7. There is a training montage set to War's "Low Rider".
8. It's a movie that truly gets better with every viewing. You should try it...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

216. Spirited Away (2001)


-I promise I'll be back, Haku. You can't die.
-What's going on here?
-Don't you see? It's called... Love.

My favorite movie from the Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki. This movie is a beautiful fantasy about a young girl who gets trapped in a "spa" for gods and spirits. She is put to work, but desperately tries to find a way out while saving her parents and discovering the mysteries of a young boy (and sometimes dragon) named Haku.

215. Tape (2001)


-Since when are you all high and mighty?
-I'm not high and mighty. I'm too high to be high and mighty.

Richard Linklater (have I mentioned that he's my favorite director) directs Ethan Hawke (have I mentioned that he's my favorite actor), Uma Thurman, and Robert Sean Leonard in a movie based on a one act play that takes place in real time entirely in a cheap motel room. Sometimes movies work best when you completely strip them of all the superficial excess and let actors act out a moving story.

Monday, January 24, 2011

214. Waking Life (2001)


-Hey are you a dreamer?
-I haven't seen too many around lately. Things have been tough lately for dreamers. They say dreaming is dead, no one does it anymore. It's not dead it's just that it's been forgotten, removed from our language. Nobody teaches it so nobody knows it exists. The dreamer is banished to obscurity. Well, I'm trying to change all that, and I hope you are too. By dreaming, every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it's ever faced, ever. So whatever you do, don't be bored, this is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting

Richard Linklater takes a trip into the world of dreams as the viewer travels with the main character through a multi-level dream that puts "Inception" to shame. Wiley Wiggins (the boy from "Dazed and Confused") stars as topics ranging from philosophy to religion to anarchy to love are explored. The prose of the film is set up in much the same way as Linklater's first film, "Slacker", as unrelated conversations drift in and out. This is all amplified by the use of rotoscoping. That is, filming the action live and then going back and animating over the actors. This creates a "dream-like" visual which matches perfectly with the movie's subject.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

213. Metropolis (2001)


It's our emotions. They vibrate, and all we can do is move forward within that amplitude. But without affirming them, we can't survive.

The writer and artist who created "Astro Boy" and the director of "Akira" team up to create a futuristic movie loosely based upon Fritz Lang's silent masterpiece (and first movie on this blog) "Metropolis".... I got a little excited just typing that! This movie also has one of the greatest climax curveballs of all time. Not really a twist, but an unexpected addition that just comes out of nowhere and just makes the movie outstanding. I'll give you a hint: it has a little something to do with the great Ray Charles.

212. Dancer in the Dark (2000)


This isn't the last song, there's no violin, the choir is quiet, and no one takes a spin, this is the next to last song, and that's all...

This is what happens when you combine the eclectic musical wizadry of Bjork with the raw, unabashed movie-making talent of Lars von Trier. Both artists exist on the fringes of their craft and, when they combined, the more mainstream of their talents shown through. Bjork's sweet singing balances von Trier's harsh story and von Trier's methodical direction balances Bjork's random anti-pop vocalizations. The result is a film that is truly unique. I can honestly say that there is no other movie in existence that is anything like this dark, sweet musical tearjerker. There will probably never be a movie like it either because, even after multiple nominations for her performance in the movie, Bjork claimed that she would never act again because the experience was too painful.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

211. High Fidelity (2000)


What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?

A movie about an aspiring, down-on-his-luck slacker who spends his days talking to his friends in his record store and making lists that begin with "the top five greatest ...". Change record store to comic shop and East Coast music & video and it sounds like my sophomore through senior years of college. John Cusack is awesome as his usual "everyman" and Jack Black gives, in my opinion, the performance that shot him to superstardom. This movie also contains the quintessential philosophy behind the making of a mixtape.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

210. The Princess and the Warrior (2000)


I'm having trouble sleeping. I keep dreaming about you.

One of my favorite love stories of all time. This is the story of Sissi, a young lady who lives a solitary life an devotes herself entirely to her job at an asylum for the mentally ill. After being injured in a traffic accident, she is saved from certain death by a mysterious man named Bodo. At first she seems to think that this man may be her one true love, but Bodo's past and uncertain sinister future run counter to Sissi's loving ways. This movie proves that you don't a movie doesn't have to be erotic or graphic to be romantic. The couples burgeoning love comes through in their muted performances and beautiful cinematic storytelling from director Tom Tykwer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bonus Entry: Will's 2010 Top Ten

For the first time since 2006, I feel I have seen enough movies to honestly present a top ten list for 2010. Let me preface this by saying I really want to see 127 Hours, The Rabbit Hole, Get Low, Waiting for Superman, Machete, and Waste Land. Those films probably have the potential to bump one or two of these films off.

10. How to Train Your Dragon - Almost up to Pixar standards... almost

9. True Grit - The Coens are the most consistently awesome moviemakers in history

8. Restrepo - You want to know what it's like in Afgahnistan... watch this

7. Greenberg - Super awkward, quirky, uncomfortable love story... sorta

6. The Kids are All Right - Julianne Moore is a national treasure.. Annette Bening is so lucky

5. The Social Network - Darn near perfect movie that pretty much will forever define an entire generation... for better or worse

4. Mother and Child - Annette Bening makes the list again, but Samuel L. Jackson and Naomi Watts steal this show in the second best movie from 2010 that you haven't seen

3. The Fighter - Best Boxing Movie ever (take that Clint and Sly). On the short list for best sports movie ever.

2. Lovely, Still - super sappy love story between two people at the end of their time here on Earth and the best movie from 2010 that you haven't seen

1. Toy Story 3 - best animated movie of all time... In a pretty weak year for movies in my opinion nothing comes close.

209. Titan A.E. (2000)


-Hey, for your information, I happen to be humanity's last great hope.
-I weep for the species.

Okay, I must admit this one is for me. Not that every movie on this list isn't, but I honestly love this movie irrationally. I don't go around suggesting that people watch it because I don't want to here that they didn't like it (which, strangely enough I can actually understand). This a movie about the last humans fighting for survival after the destruction of Earth. It is directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman (Anastasia, An American Tail, The Land Before Time). It featured awesome CG effects mixed with hand-drawn animation. It had a screenplay cowritten by Joss "Buffy & Firefly" Whedon. And, to top it all off, one of the sidekick aliens was voiced by Tone Loc (of Funky Cold Medina fame). I think a bunch of producers must have gotten together and tried to figure out what Will Tyer would want to see on the big screen as he was trying to hold onto his last days of teenagehood.

208. All the Pretty Horses (2000)


-What the hell are you doing?
-Just sittin' here.
-If this rain hits hard, there's gonna be a river come down through here like a train. You thought about that?
-You ain't never been struck by lightning. You don't know what it's like.
-You're gonna get drowned sittin' there.
-Why that's all right, I ain't never been drowned before.
-Well...I say no more.

This movie tells two stories. The first is a "Cowboy" journey into Mexico with Matt Damon, Henry Thomas (Eliot from E.T.), and Lucas Black (the little boy from "Sling Blade", the quarterback from "Friday Night Lights", or the white guy from "Tokyo Drift" depending on how old you are). This part of the movie is funny and exciting, but the movie really takes off when it reaches the second act. Damon's character falls in love with a wealthy ranch owner's daughter (Penelope Cruz) and with this development the out-of-place Americans are met with a little more hostility. This is Billy Bob Thornton's second directorial effort is a little more epic than "Sling Blade" and kinda makes me wish he would direct a little more. Still, he'll make quite a few more appearances on the 365 as an actor (5 more to be exact, bet you can't guess them).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

207. American Psycho (2000)


I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don't know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.

Director Mary Harron and Christian Bale take Bret Easton Ellis' novel and translate it magnificiently to the silver screen. This tale of Patrick Bateman's decent into depraved fantasy is a scathing commentary on the real-life depraved fantasies of comercialism, greed, and status. It is usually very easy to detach oneself from killers in horror movies. They are most often mentally ill, psychopathic, social rejects. This movie challenges the viewer because Bateman shares the same upwardly mobile desire for conformity that pretty much everyone has (at least to some extent). Some highlights include ax murdering to the tune of Huey Lewis, naked chainsaw chase, and super-creepy-weird comparing of business card awesomeness.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

206. Best in Show (2000)


We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.

I'm sure a documentary about the people that train dogs for the Westminster Dog Show would be absolutely awesome. Even more awesome though, is a fake documentary with some of the best improvisational actors in the world written and directed by Christopher Guest (the King of the mockumentary!). This is one of my favorite comedies of all time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

205. Chicken Run (2000)


Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war. Overpaid, oversexed, and over here.

This is a good movie, but I can't really concentrate tonight.... This is what my driveway looks like:


204. Frequency (2000)


I'm still here, Chief.

I know quite a few people who have gotten a little jaded with movies. They say that movies have become lazy and formulaic. This is a movie for them. Probably one of the most unique, touching stories you will ever see.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

203. O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)


Deceitful, two-faced she-woman. Never trust a female Delmar, remember that one simple precept and your time with me will not have been ill spent.

There are a few recurring themes on this blog. One of them is that the Coen Brothers make some awful fine movies. A retelling of Homer's Oddysey in the Depression Era south with music from T-Bone Burnett and Alison Krauss and John Goodman as Cyclops-esque Big Dan Teague. YES, PLEASE!!! One of the coolest things about this movie that most people probably don't know is that it uses extensive ever-present special effects. The movie was filmed in Summer and then the lush green was digitally transformed to brown and tan hues to reflect the hopelessness of the escapees' surroundings during the Great Depression. Pretty Cool!

202. This is What Democracy Looks Like (2000)


The first amendment grants all citizens the right to peaceful assembly. This movie illustrates that this right has been pretty much decimated to nonexistence. Sure, if you want to file at the courthouse for a permit to have a nice, quite Saturday-morning march around downtown, then it will be no problem. If you want to march on Washington, bring it on. If you want to protest soldier's funerals with signs that say "God Hates Fags", the red carpet is rolled out. But if you want to protest against policies of globalization and profiteering at the expense of the world's poor by peaceful demonstration, then you better prep your gas mask. The idea that we live in the "land of the free", home of "equal opportunity", and safe haven for democracy is a fabrication. In civics class, we learn that our rights are guaranteed as long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. In reality, we learn that our rights are guaranteed as long as they do not shed light upon injustices brought on the poor by the rich.

Most of the world's wealth is held by a relatively small number of individuals. The only way this can happen is for the poor to believe a lie. This lie is different depending upon where you live. In developing countries, the lie is that the people are powerless. Since most free speech is limited in these parts of the world, this is an easy lie to uphold because the few that try to rally uprisings are jailed or killed. In the developed world, the lie is that you will one day be a part of this elite group that owns most of the world's wealth (some people call this the "American Dream"). The problem comes when a large group of people realize this lie and choose to speak out about it. This is where the truth of our first amendment rights are revealed.

This movie uses primary sources to document the protests at the 1999 WTO Conference in Seattle. The WTO stands for World Trade Organization. This conglomerate of wealthy people from all over the world has pretty much positioned itself as supreme ruler of Earth. It is more powerful than any single government simply because politicians need money and they have it. The goal of the WTO is what is bothersome. It has no Constitution or Bill of Rights and seeks only to protect and increase the assets of the corporations and individuals involved. Don't get me wrong without the WTO, most of the goods at Target and Walmart would cost maybe twice as much money, but many feel that the real human cost of such "cheap" goods should be taken into account as well.

The most troubling thing about this movie is how quick the police, government officials, and media jump to the aid of the WTO after the protests begin. One of the most important things about our right to assemble is that the many "have-nots" could have their voices heard over the few "haves". The protesters chant "this is what democracy looks like!" almost as a question to the police as they are dispersed with tear gas and violence.... So check this movie out, read about the WTO, or just keep on believing the lie...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

201. Chocolat (2000)


-Each time I tell myself it's the last time, but then I get a whiff of her hot chocolate, or...
-...Seashells. Chocolate seashells, so small, so plain, so *innocent*. I thought, oh, just one little taste, it can't do any harm. But it turned out they were filled with rich, sinful...
-...And it *melts*, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure.

A whimsical little story about how something as wonderfully simple as chocolate can free a small town from puritanical unhappiness. I really need to watch this one again. It has been far too long.

Monday, January 10, 2011

200. Hamlet (2000)


The play's the thing, with which I'll catch the conscience of the king.

Shakespeare's masterpiece told in the setting of modern day New York (Hamlet's father owns the Denmark Corporation). Ethan Hawke gives Hamlet's famous soliloquoy while browsing the shelves of Blockbuster video. That alone is enough to make this movie awesome, but it also contains spot on performances from Bill Murray, Julia Stiles, Steve Zahn, and Liev Schreiber.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

199. Being John Malkovich (1999)


Have you ever had two people look at you, with complete lust and devotion, through the same pair of eyes?

A puppetteer, his wife, and a coworker discover a small door in an office building that leads into the head of John Malkovich (who plays himself). Once inside, they have some amount of control over the famous actor and are able to live out fantasies and discover things about themselves. Eventually Malkovich finds out and actually enters his own brain with very interesting results. This is extremely creative screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's first team-up with extremely creative director Spike Jonze. I am still amazed that this movie got greenlit... Can you imagine the pitch to studio execs???

This is the last movie of 1999, which means tomorrow will be movie #200 and start the year 2000 (pretty cool). Forthcoming years may have more movies than this one, but I still contend that this is the greatest year for movies of all time. To recap (with a few more that barely missed the 365):

Being John Malkovich
The Cider House Rules
Fight Club
The Green Mile
The Iron Giant
The Matrix
SLC Punk
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Toy Story 2
But I'm a Cheerleader
The Hurricane
Ride with the Devil
Varsity Blues
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
Snow Falling on Cedars
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

American Pie, The Blair Witch Project, Election, The Sixth Sense, Office Space, Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, Audition, Three Kings, The Mummy, Detroit Rock City, Life, The Story of Us

198. The Cider House Rules (1999)


Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.

No one likes abortion. It is really easy to say that they should be outlawed in any and all circumstances (this is especially easy for men and older women to say since they will never have to make the decision about the fate of their child...). The issue is much more complicated than the black and white "pro-choice/pro-life" nature it has taken in today's world.

This movie tells an amazing story of a Doctor in charge of an orphanage and his protege', "grown-up" orphan Homer Wells. Homer disagrees with the Doctor's willingness to perform illegal abortions if the mother requests, and sets out to find his own way in the world. He settles on an apple farm where he learns the ways of the world, falls in love, and encounters problems that cannot be defined with his naive view of the world. Yet another somewhat forgotten gem that you should absolutely watch immediately if you have never seen it!

197. Dogma (1999)


Human beings have neither the aural nor the psychological capacity to withstand the awesome power of God's true voice. Were you to hear it, your mind would cave in and your heart would explode within your chest. We went through five Adams before we figured that one out.

Let me start this off by saying that I define myself as "Protestant". I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church and am a big fan of Jesus, but I don't like to group myself in a single denomination. I don't define myself as simply "Christian" because the inevitable question usually comes: "Which flavor?" "Protestant" not only expresses my Christianity, but also roots itself in the word "protest", which I feel does a pretty good job at describing the work of Jesus. He spent a big chunk of his time here on Earth breaking down the conventions of the religious establishment ("You have heard..., but I say unto you...."). One of his last acts was to issue "the great commission". That is, to go and make disciples of all nations. For the most part I think that his followers have done a pretty good job of this. Christianity is, after all, the most commonly held religion in the world. However, it is amazing how this group of people have "factioned" themselves in the past 2000 years. In this movie, Rufus (the thirteenth apostle) notes that this fact is one of the most troubling to God.

This is Kevin Smith's most personal movie and it manages to use his signature potty humor (sometimes literally) and verbose characters to tackle the real problems that modern religion (especially Catholicism) has connecting with many people.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

196. Fight Club (1999)


Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. #*$ $(#@ it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy $*%^ we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.

The quote above perfectly sums up why I love this movie. I can't think of another movie that so perfectly combines the elements of an action movie, with a mind-bending thriller, with a social commentary that seems to get more relevant in every day of our advertising dominated, me-first world. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are absolutely flawless as they set out on a journey that ultimately creates a militia of witty anarchists. David Fincher's directing style also fits this movie perfectly as the viewer feels the Narrator's decent into madness (or lucidity depending on your perspective).

I won't spoil the "twist" for you, but let me just say that if someone has, don't worry about it. The movie is just as enjoyable (and maybe even a little more interesting) if you know about it before your first viewing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

195. The Green Mile (1999)


-What did you just do to me?
-I helped it. Didn't I help it? I just took it back, is all. Awful tired now, boss. Dog tired.

When I wrote my blog entry for "The Shawshank Redemption", I noted that it is probably the consensus choice for best movie of all time among average Americans. I contend that not only is it not the best movie of all time, it is not even the best movie directed by Frank Darabont. Heck, it's not even the best movie of all time about a prison directed by Frank Darabont. That, my friends, would be "The Green Mile". This is another movie that I am astounded doesn't get more attention only a little more than ten years after its release. It stars America's favorite actor (Tom Hanks), tells an extremely moving story, and is never boring despite its lengthy runtime.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

194. The Iron Giant (1999)


-It's bad to kill. Guns kill. And you don't have to be a gun. You are what you choose to be. You choose. Choose.

The best "non-Pixar" animated movie of all time (by leaps and bounds too!). Whoever owned Warner Brothers Animation in 1999 was a complete idiot for this movie to bomb the way it did. I honestly didn't even hear about it until a couple of years later when it was showing up regularly on the Cartoon Network. No matter how hard or serious you act in your daily life every man has a little boy inside of them that wants nothing more than to befriend a giant alien robot. This movie wakes that little boy up and takes him for a ride. It starts off a little slow with normal little kid hijinks (like bringing a squirrel to his mom's work as a pet), but begins to fly as Hogarth Hughes discovers his really big secret. It just keeps getting more exciting until culminating in such an exhilirating and emotional climax that it puts most movies made for grown-ups to shame. I know I have said it before, but I cannot stress enough how much you need to see this movie immediately, but don't thank me, thank Brad Bird (the movie's writer and director who just happens to work now for.... you guessed it: Pixar).

Monday, January 3, 2011

193. Magnolia (1999)


I can't let this go. I can't let you go. Now, you... you listen to me now. You're a good person. You're a good and beautiful person and I won't let you walk out on me. And I won't let you say those things - those things about how stupid you are and this and that. I won't stand for that. You want to be with me... then you be with me. You see?

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors. This is his masterpiece. One of the greatest epic character studies of all time, the film revolves around a single day in the lives of a handful of people dealing with death, addiction, loss, heartbreak, anxiety, and love. The movie clocks in at a whopping three hours and eight minutes, but I have never gotten bored in the five or six times I have watched it. The combination of a tight, interesting screenplay, a quirky plot that takes twists and turns that cannot be anticipated, and amazing performances from Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Cruise, William H. Macy, and John C. Reilly makes for one of my favorite movies of all time.

PS: Steven, you have my copy of this DVD, hit me up when you get a chance...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

192. The Matrix (1999)


What is "real"? How do you define "real"?

Simply put, this film will go down as "The Godfather" for nerds. That's not to say that others can't enjoy it, but this was really the first time that an action hero was chosen for his hacking abilities instead of his brawn. I remember seeing this movie for the first time with Brian and wanting to fly off into the sunset with Neo. We immediately went to Target and bought the soundtrack and proceeded to burn up the backroads between Greenville and Ayden with both windows down in the Firebird. I don't think a movie has ever pumped me up more than this one. If you need a reminder why, here it is (probably not a good idea to watch this if you still need to watch the movie):

191. SLC Punk (1999)


I rest my case on this: In a country of lost souls rebellion comes hard. But in a religiously oppressive city, where half it's population isn't even of that religion, it comes like fire.

Just for the record SLC stands for Salt Lake City. That's right, this movie is about a group of anarchist punk rockers in the most religious and self-righteous city in the country in 1985. That should be enough right there to get you to watch this movie. If it's not, then you probably wouldn't like the movie anyway poser!

190. The Phantom Menace (1999)


There was no father. I carried him, I gave birth, I raised him. I can't explain what happened.

The most anticipated movie of all time. I was in 6th grade when I first heard they were planning on doing prequels (thanks, Mrs. Wilson!). Six years later, Star Wars would return to the big screen. I watched and rewatched the original trilogy, played Star Wars Trivial Pursuit by myself, and discussed the movies at length with my friends all in preparation for the big night. One problem presented itself: people were going to line up overnight to get tickets for the midnight release. For the most part, this was unheard of at the time. I was able to talk my parents into letting me see the movie at midnight, but there was no way I would get to camp out the previous night AND stay out until three on the night of the movie. With this in mind, my new girlfriend, Angie, stepped up to bat. She was a junior at ECU at the time and lived on her own. Her condo was right around the corner from the theater and she promised to get tickets for me (and my friends). As soon as I got out of school, I drove to Greenville to meet up with Angie to find out the status of the tickets (this was also before cell phones became uniquitous). She had just gotten off from working a few hours at Ryan's steakhouse, and she approached me with a defeated look on her face. My heart sunk... Then in classic Angie fashion, she whipped the tickets out and got a good laugh at my expense. I was overwhelmed (and it was probably at that moment that I decided that I would marry this woman!). We went to Pizza Hut to eat that night because they were giving away Star Wars toys, and showed up at the movie theater around 8:30 to ensure the best possible seats for the midnight movie. Keep in mind that none of us had cell phones to play with, so we spent the time actually talking to one another and seeing who could guess what would come up next on the "Screenvision" powerpoint.

As for the movie, it is Star Wars. That being said, I absolutely loved it. There is a pretty large movement that contends the prequels are at best foolish and at worst heretical insults to the original trilogy. I have this to say to these people: Star Wars didn't change, you did. Most fans saw the original trilogy as children. If you view the movies as an adult, you will simply not have as much fun. That is not to say that it is impossible to enjoy the movies as a person over 14, but you have to put yourself in a different mindset. These movies are not going to win Oscars, they are going to make you say "WOW". If you did not like "The Phantom Menace", I only have three things to say: Podrace, Double-Bladed lightsaber, and the Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon/Darth Maul final duel. If you can't appreciate those things, you just don't like Star Wars.