I've Seen It, and Now So Has She...
So in the ongoing process of reviewing the movies I had already seen when starting this, here are 25 more films from different years, genres, and nationalities. Thanks to her going nuts on our movie collection in an attempt to catch up, all of these films were simultaneously reviewed by my lovely wife, Ashley, as well as by me. Enjoy! The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Though not as phenomenal as some of his work, The Man Who Knew Too Much, is one of the really good Hitchcock films. Jimmy Stewart is always pretty likable, but it's Doris Day who really steals the show for me. The one thing that the original has over this remake is the ever-wonderful Peter Lorre. I could watch that guy eat breakfast!
"Don’t F with Doris Day or she will sing you a song!" - Ashley
The Great Escape (1963)
Partly remembered for it's fun story, and partly because of Steve McQueen, The Great Escape is also worthy of remembrance for being one of the last (as far as I could find anyway) really great, ensemble films. The list of famous actors that make an appearance here is a pretty astounding one. Everyone from the CEO of Jurassic Park, to Flint of "In Like Flint", to the vigilante from "Death Wish", and plenty more, make an appearance in this film. Oh, and the story is pretty good too.
“This movie might be set in a prisoner of war camp, but I would liken it to the con or heist movie genres, so it was actually quite enjoyable.” - Ashley
La Battaglia Di Algeri (AKA: The Battle of Algiers) (1965)
The gritty and raw style of this film owes much to the cinema vérité camera work, and black and white film stock, which served to mimic news reel, or documentary style footage. The cast of actors, or non-actors as they were, was chosen for their look, and the emotional heft they brought the subject matter, with the only "real" actor playing the leader of the French military force tasked with quieting the then French colony, Colonel Mathieu. As a testament to its message, the film was banned in France for a number of years, before being re-edited and released later on. As powerful and prescient today as it was when it was filmed, it speaks to our current situation with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the nature, and victims of terrorism.
“It’s a war movie!” (said with fake excitement) - Ashley
C'era Una Volta Il West AKA Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Gorgeous! This film is so lush, and beautiful that when I first saw it, it took my breath away. Though I do love the Man With No Name trilogy, this film, in my humble opinion, is absolutely Sergio Leone's masterpiece! Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and god help us all Claudia Cardinale. If you haven't seen this film, you are doing yourself a grand disservice!
“One of the best movies this list has introduced me to!” - Ashley
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
I saw this film around two decades ago, and I liked it a lot. I was amazed at how much I liked it really, but it wasn't until I watched it recently with my wife for her first time, that I was blown away. Dustin Hoffman is so, so very good, and unfortunately for him, John Voight was so incredible that he still hasn't yet managed to attain such heights again. Fred Neil's "Everybody Talkin'" performed by Harry Nilsson, is such a perfect song to capture the wonder, and spontaneity of New York city, as well as the despair and fear that come when good fortune you're riding flips upside down and smothers you instead. One of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.
“Two hustlers find love.” - Ashley
Though I've seen Serpico, I never fell in love with Serpico. It's a good film, that I, more than likely, should give another chance. Known as one of the big tent poles of 1970s cinema, this film went a long way in defining the social, and political unrest of the urbanites of the time.
“Al Pacino grows a beard and takes down some corrupt cops.” - Ashley
The godfather of the summer blockbuster is also an incredibly effective horror and suspense film. This film comes from the young and hungry Steven Spielberg that helped make a lot of the movies that I grew up on, not the tired schmaltzy Spielberg that ruins every movie he makes now in the last 30 minutes (Don't believe me? Take, A.I., War of the Worlds, Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan, and Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World, and the all terrible Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, The Adventures of Tin-Tin, and Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.). So basically, Jaws was good.
“The push-zoom in it is great, other then that, meh.” - Ashley
Though Network has some pretty interesting things to say about the nature of television and the nature of fame and martyrdom, and is definitely considered to be another one of those "important" movies from the seventies, I didn't like the film really at all. I found all the characters to be pretty repellent people, and not in the least compelling on any other level.
“I hated every character in this movie.” - Ashley
The absolute funniest movie that I had ever seen when I was ten years old, it turns out is best marketed towards the young and those who are young in the head. It didn't manage to hold onto its title when I recently re-watched it, but it was still really fun to watch. Leslie Nielson easily steals the show with his trademark deadpan delivery, and square-jawed good looks. I will always love it for the joy it brought me in my youth.
“Better then the parody movies done today but still not my favorite kind of comedy.” - Ashley
The King of Comedy (1983)
Robert De Niro's selfish, celebrity-obsessed, Travis Bickle is in love with the idea of fame, so much so that fixates on it. It is all he sees and all he desires. At times, tense, at others comic, the film goes a fair way towards predicting the phenomenon of instant fame that shows like American Idol, and YouTube have come to inspire. "The King of Comedy", just may be one of Scorsese's lighter works, but one of Martin's lesser works is often times better than someone else's best.
“Robert De Niro being creepy.” - Ashley
The Terminator (1984)
I was raised on this film. I have probably seen it upwards of 100 times. It is incredible.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger is bad.” - Ashley
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
This little flick is a fossil of another time, a time when the name Eddie Murphy meant you were going to see something that was actually funny. Not solely for children, no fat suits or unnecessary makeup, but an actual, honest to God funny movie. Murphy made a fair amount of them in his heyday, my only guess is that he just ran out of funny stuff to say, and now is only capable of making crap. Too bad.
“Oh, I didn’t know Eddie Murphy use to be funny!” - Ashley
‘A’ Gai Waak Juk Jaap (AKA: Project A, Part II) (1987)
I went through a big Hong Kong cinema phase in the mid to late 90s. Films like A Better Tomorrow, My Lucky Stars, Full Contact, and Hardboiled filled my movie collection. Some of my favorites were the films of Jackie Chan, including the Project A films. Packed with action, impossible stunts, and lots of slapstick humor, these films are intensely rewarding, and loads of fun. Though I like Project A, Part II a lot, I wouldn't put it as my favorite of Chan's films, that honor would go to the absolutely insane Drunken Master II. The last half an hour of that film was just about the craziest thing I'd ever seen in my life.
"Jackie is a god." - Ashley
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Another film that I suppose I should devote another viewing to. Most people seem to love, A Fish Called Wanda, however I thought it wasn't all that good. Since it was written by John Cleese, I should by all rights love it, so I can only assume that I saw it at too young an age.
“A raunchy comedy from the 80’s that is actually still funny for a first time view.” - Ashley
The Naked Gun (1988)
Another of my favorite films from when I was 10 years old. Leslie Nielsen rode the slapstick gravy train for many years, culminating in The Naked Gun. Though the films sequels turn out to be rather hokey and one-note, the original film still stands out as one of the best examples of this type of comedy.
“Not bad but just not my kind of comedy.” - Ashley
Die Hard (1988)
As an only child, I spent a lot of time watching movies. Every Friday night I would have my Mom drive me to the local video emporium, where I would pick up the newest action movies, along with the grossest or most obscure comedies and horror films. I remember renting Die Hard when if first came out of Video. I put the VHS tape into the VCR, sat back and spent the next two hours and twelve minutes getting my mind blown! Easily one of the best action movies ever, and the best Christmas movie by a long shot. Absolutely deserves to be on this list.
“My husband looks like Bruce Willis, so I’m allowed say how much I like how little his shirt is on in this movie, right?” - Ashley
Total Recall (1990)
Far and away the best film that either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Paul Verhoeven ever had anything to do with, and both men made some goddamned awesome films! Groundbreaking visual effects, a truly compelling science fiction story, and action for days. I was lucky enough to see this film in the theater, where at the tender age of eleven, I fell in love.
“Amazing special effects makeup. I wish they still did makeup this way.” - Ashley
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Not as impacting to me as the original, but this was yet another fantastic film. James Cameron at the peak of his career thus far (yes I am including the disappointing Avatar).
“Arnold Schwarzenegger is good.” - Ashley
As a devout fan of film, I have a constantly shifting set of films that revolve in and out as my favorites of all time. Reed's The Third Man, Kurosawa's High & Low, Melville's Le Cercle Rouge, and of course Oliver Stone's JFK. This labyrinth of a film traces the known facts right along side the potential possibilities, watching the two dance with one another, seeing what happens. Some of my favorite cinematography ever committed to celluloid juxtaposes the black and white of the accepted reality of the Warren Commission with as many points of view as there were watching that day on the grassy knoll. Black and white, high and low, right and wrong, fact and fiction. All blend together in this film, tied by the exceptional cast, character actors and famous faces alike. The best you've ever seen Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Bacon, and Michael Rooker in any film. This is one of those films that no matter what time it is, if I find it starting on TV, I will watch it all the way through. I think I'll go watch it right now.
“Was there anyone who didn’t want to kill Kennedy?” - Ashley
C’Est Arrive Pres De Chez Vous (AKA: Man Bites Dog) (1992)
This mockumentary about a vicious serial killer being followed by a documentary film crew attempts to find the line between documentation and complicity. A dark film with some very subtle comic undertones, Man Bites Dog is more uncomfortable than it is successful. It felt about 45 minutes too long, which would have shortened the film by about half. Interesting, but ultimately not really very good.
"Oh this was suppose to be a comedy?" - Ashley
The Crying Game (1992)
It's been a while since I've seen this film, so my only real memory of it is that I managed to see it twice in one weekend, once with each of my parents who didn't know what it was about...awkward.
“Despite knowing the spoiler twist for a couple decades now I found this a really interesting look at the fluidity of human sexuality.” - Ashley
Dead Man (1995)
Long, slow, and still. Three things that describe the films of Jim Jarmusch. Dead Man is all of those things, and it was great. Not a film for every occasion, nor is it for everyone, but if you appreciate thoughtful introspective and occasionally spiritual films, this one may pique your interest.
“So fucking boring!” - Ashley
Of all the Coen Brothers films to put on this list, both this film, and Raising Arizona are two of their most average. They are certainly good films, not nearly as reprehensible as Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty, or The Ladykillers, but also not even close to as good as Miller's Crossing (my personal favorite Coen Brothers film), The Big Lebowski, or Barton Fink. That being said, Fargo did open up the Coen Brothers' sensibilities to a whole new crowd of viewers and introduced the masses to William H. Macy, and Peter Stormare, so in that respect, it was a good choice. Otherwise, a real missed opportunity for this list of "best movies".
“I love that the lead is a smart strong women. Really great movie too.” - Ashley
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Awful, over-hyped, manipulative, horror-porn along the likes of Hostel, and Hostel 2.
“Yeah, yeah we get it Jesus got his ass beat.” - Ashley
The Aviator (2004)
Even genius doesn't shine all the time. Yet another movie where the mega-talented Scorsese teams with the mega-mediocre DiCaprio, and turns in underwhelming results. One of the greatest living cinematographers in the world said it best, describing The Aviator as a "handjob" for Hollywood, and while I don't think it's quite that, he certainly spends the entirety of this film writing an elaborate love letter. Cate Blanchett was really wonderful as Kate Hepburn, if only DiCaprio could do some acting that isn't just his usual approach of squinting and leaning forward into the camera.
“Leonardo is actually tolerable in this movie. Though he still can’t do an accent worth a shit.” - Ashley
So, there you have it. Another 25 in the bag. See you next time!