Thursday, June 7, 2012

More of Our Favorite Movies (400th Post!)

Can you guys believe it? 400 posts! It seems like just yesterday we were at 398. Let's celebrate by busting out some more of our favorite movies of all time!

Erich: It was tough enough coming up with a list of my Top 5 movies, and now Patrick wants me to fill out the rest of my Top Ten? If it wasn't for you, faithful readers, I'd have told him to stick his list where the blog don't shine. At the risk of losing my rebel cred, here are five more movies that I love, in no particular order. Are they favorite movies six through ten? I dunno. You tell me. Except, don't tell me, because YOU DON'T KNOW ME!!!

A Hard Day's Night (1964, Richard Lester) - Roger Ebert once said this was the kind of movie that could be watched again immediately after it was over. I don't always agree with Mr. "Super-spoiler" Ebert, but I do here. The Beatles' feature film debut is funny, wonderfully surreal, and has great music. You can't buy me love, but feel free to buy me a copy of this movie when it hits Blu-ray.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985, Barry Levinson) - I missed this '80s gem when I was a kid, probably because I was busy watching A Very Brady Christmas for the hundredth time, with no responsible adult around to break that VHS tape in half and put this movie on for me instead. Given the recent fascination with reinventing Sherlock Holmes, it's worth going back to this (let's pretend) original. It’s got mysteries, swordplay, killer pastries, and a murderous cult. Not only was this film made by many of the same people responsible for Temple of Doom, but it is a better movie.

The Muppet Movie (1979, James Frawley) - I know Patrick and I recorded an entire podcast about this one, but I'll say it again; The Muppet Movie is amazing. With sharp writing, adult humor, pitch-perfect cameos, and Paul Williams' heartfelt music ("The Rainbow Connection" is still my daughter’s lullaby of choice), it's the complete, fuzzy package. Forget the toy commercials that pass for kids movies these days. Plunk the youngsters down in front of Jim Henson's timeless classic instead. Just be prepared to answer questions like "Why does that bad man want to hurt Kermit?" and "Who's Dom DeLuise?"

Groundhog Day (1993, Harold Ramis) - It's a good thing Harold Ramis snapped up this rodent-themed celebration before Garry Marshall began his cinematic holiday rampage. Starring Bill Murray at his sharpest, the film is both ambitious and accessible. Ramis and co-writer Danny Rubin aren’t afraid to tackle issues of mortality and the meaning of life, wrapping big philosophical ideas in a tight comedic package. The love story between Murray's cynical weatherman and Andie MacDowell's idealistic TV producer may not be conventional, but when they finally (spoiler!!1!) get together, the moment is fully earned. Easily one of the best comedies of the last 20 years.

UHF (1989, Jay Levey)- Finally, my left-field pick, a movie I love but can't really defend. A silly slice of pop culture awesomeness starring the one and only Weird Al Yankovic as a dreamer who transforms a low-rated TV station into a ratings powerhouse on the strength of shows like "Wheel of Fish" and "Druids on Parade." The faux-TV format gave Yankovic the freedom to parody everything from Indiana Jones to Network to The Beverly Hillbillies. The film also introduced the world to a pre-Seinfeld, pre-racism Michael Richards, as the mop-loving janitor Stanley Spadowski. Sadly, Weird Al made just this one movie (heck, even Pee-Wee got a second chance). It’s almost as sad as knowing that no one under the age of 30 even knows what a “UHF” is.

The Blues Brothers (1980, John Landis)
Spider-Man 2 (2004, Sam Raimi)
Airplane! (1980, Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker)
Night of the Living Dead (1968, George Romero)
The General (1926, Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman)

The Seven Samurai (1954, Akira Kurosawa)
Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
The Empire Strikes Back (1981, Irvin Kirshner)
Raising Arizona (1987, Joel Coen)
Taxi Driver (1976, Martin Scorsese)

Wuthering Heights (William Wyler, 1939)
The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen)
Pretty Woman (1989, Garry Marshall)
High Fidelity (2000, Stephen Frears)

Boogie Nights (1997, Paul Thomas Anderson) - Paul Thomas Anderson is, without question, a big bright shining star. Erika provided a perfect and adorable appraisal during the show about her favorite movies, usurping every bit of my thunder in the process.

The Empire Strikes Back (1981, Irvin Kirshner) - In which a young Alex first learned that our heroes don't always win the day.

Goodfellas (1990, Martin Scorsese) - I would argue that it is the most re-watchable movie of all time.

United 93 (2006, Paul Greengrass) - I've never seriously attempted to persuade Patrick to do a show on this movie because BUMMER, but that shouldn't dissuade any of us from hailing it as a masterclass of dramatic filmmaking. That's precisely what it is.

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(1964, Stanley Kubrick) - My favorite Stanley Kubrick picture by a mile, because in addition to all his standard-issue brilliance, it's also one of the best comedies of all time.

Dawn of the Dead (1978, George Romero)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer)
True Romance (1993, Tony Scott)
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990, John Patrick Shanley)
Grindhouse (2007, Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino)

Mark Ahn:
Brazil (1985, Terry Gilliam)
Fist of Legend (1994, Gordon Chan)
Rear Window (1954, Alfred Hitchock)
Almost Famous (2000, Cameron Crowe)
In Bruges (2007, Martin McDonough)

The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)
A Hard Day's Night (1964, Richard Lester)
Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
The Searchers (1956, John Ford)


  1. Wait, I thought we were supposed to write about our picks, not just make a list. Great. Now I look like a jerk. This is just like the time Patrick invited me to that Vicars and Tarts party but I was the only one wearing the Playboy bunny costume.

  2. Patrick : You chose True Romance. You're so cool.

  3. Erich! You don't look like a jerk; I just look like lazy.

    1. And I look like I always do... like a pretty little girl.

    2. You must be a pretty girl. You also picked A Hard Day's Night.

    3. Yes, A Hard Day's Night is another film that suggests that life can be an exciting, happy adventure. My students reject it on that basis alone.

    4. Oh! It is available on the Blurays in Canada. That is the disc I screen in class.

    5. Wait! One more thing-- how does one do italics in these comments? This has bothered me for some time...

    6. I only saw that the Blu-ray exists after I'd emailed my list to Patrick. I think the fact that it's only available in the Godless North is enough for me to win on technicality.

      To italicize text, put <i> </i> around the title (as in <i>A Hard Day's Night</i>).

    7. Thanks for italics directions-- would you like to borrow my "Canadian BluRay"? (That sounds like a euphemism.)

    8. I'd love to! Is the audio-visual upgrade worth the postage and hassle? If so, please contact my secretary, Patrick "Sweet Thing" Bromley. Now THAT'S a euphemism.

  4. Mark: Almost Famous JUST missed my list. More specifically, the much longer director's cut. If you haven't seen it on Blu-ray, track it down.

    1. I've pined away for the director's cut for a long time, but it was always priced a little too high for me. But wait! I have a job!

      Also, love Hard Day's Night. He's very clean.

    2. And he filled his head with notions, seemingly.

    3. I may be in the minority, but I saw the longer cut (only once) and remember thinking I preferred the theatrical version. I'll have to revisit them BOTH. Maybe for a PODCAST??

      Blood in the water...

    4. Haven't I suggested we do an Almost Famous podcast? Hmmm...... (I see your ellipses, and raise you a super-ellipses)

    5. Thirded for an "Almost Famous" podcast (especially if it's a comparison of the theatrical and director's cuts, which have both subtle and dramatic differences). Like William Miller's character (except older and over several years) I too was a naive young man that had a muse-like Penny Lane leaving and entering my life and in the process sharing with me some pleasant memories I'll treasure forever and also heartbroken. Shame that, after this and "Vanilla Sky," Cameron Crowe checked out of the type of movies he was so good at.

  5. Patrick, have you ever considered doing a show on Joe Versus the Volcano? It's a favorite of mine as well and one that seems to be off of just about everyone else's radar. After all...I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?