Adam Riske: Look Who's Talking (1989, dir. Amy Heckerling) I thought this movie was HA-LARRY-US when I was 7, and guess what? It's still good. I've gone out on a limb and said, despite all his crappy movies and Adele Dazeems, John Travolta is my favorite actor (he would call me Ayden Ree) and Look Who's Talking is a perfect encapsulation of why that is. He's so likable, charismatic and funny in this movie ("You spend the first nine months trying to get out and the rest of your life trying to get back in!") that it feels like kicking a puppy to be mean to the guy. Bruce Willis also gives one of the best voice-over performances ever put on film in this movie (I'm serious), although he should have found a way to work in "Now I know what a TV dinner feels like" when he was inside Rebecca Howe's tummy. The sequels are garbage, but the original remains a really fun comedy and worth a watch or revisit if you haven't seen it in a long time. Co-starring Abe Vigoda (who will outlive all of us) and Olympia Dukakis, who I saw so much in the late '80s, I thought she was my bubbe. Speaking of which, remember My Buddy dolls? Those things had hard faces. What the hell were they thinking?Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese) Martin Scorsese's most cringe-inducing film (not counting the video for Michael Jackson's Bad) is now on Netflix Streaming. This is a tricky one for me because Taxi Driver makes me really uncomfortable and I only watch it about once every ten years, yet I think it's an incredible movie that does everything perfectly. Scorsese ratchets the tension throughout the film like a belt that gets tighter and tighter until you can barely breathe. I'm on the record as thinking that this is Scorsese's best film -- yes, even better than Goodfellas. Every movie fan should be familiar with Taxi Driver and Robert De Niro's performance, which was career defining until he starting doing every comedy, but also Jodie Foster's work (who was 13 when this was filmed), which earned an Oscar nomination for her role as a child prostitute. It's a real barrel of laughs. This is widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made; who am I to disagree?
Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, dir. Stanley Kubrick) One of my first film epiphanies as a youngster involved reading Gerald Mast's seminal book The Comic Mind and digging his chapter on Strangelove where he theorizes that to strengthen the dichotomy established between sex and death, Kubrick and screenwriter Terry Southern give all the characters names that are sexual double entendres: President Merkin Muffley ("merkin" is an antiquated word for "pubic wig."), General Buck Turgidson ("turgid" means "swollen and distended"), General Jack D. Ripper (duh), Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (mandrake root is thought to be an aphrodisiac) and Ambassador de Sadesky (duh). Fascinating to any thirteen year old. Dr. Strangelove is one of the funniest comedies ever made. It also made me a pervert.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008, dir. Kim Jee-woon) If you listen to our podcast or read this site with any regularity, there is a good chance you've heard me talk about my love for this movie or its director Kim Jee-woon, still one of my favorite filmmakers working today. This crazy loose remake of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is overly long and tonally mixed up, but it presents some of the best action set pieces of the last decade. Even better? All of them are different from one another. This movie is awesome.