Wednesday, August 23, 2017

10 Movies I Still Need to See Before Dying

by Patrick Bromley
The clock is ticking.

Real talk: I have no idea how much longer I'll be on the planet. None of us do, I know, especially the way things are going these days. But I've been on borrowed time for years now, and the situation only worsens every day. This means I've got movies to catch up on!

Keep in mind that this is no definitive list, as there are a lot of movies I've still not seen. These are just the first 10 that come to mind that I really want to see but haven't as of yet. In the case of most of these, it's something I'll more than likely rectify before my time is up.

1. The Last Detail (1973, dir. Hal Ashby)
Despite loving the New Hollywood of the 1970s and Hal Ashby and (especially) '70s Jack Nicholson (who, alongside '70s Elliot Gould, '70s Warren Oates, and '70s Gene Hackman, is among my favorite actors of all time), I have still never seen The Last Detail. I've seen the famous diner scene in a number of montages and documentaries about the movies of the '70s, but I still haven't seen the whole thing. Of all the movies on this list, it's probably the one I'll seek out and see first. Like, maybe within the next week. We've gotta move this process along.

2. Cannibal Apocalypse (1980, dir. Antonio Margheriti)
This was a movie I passed on buying countless times during the years I used to peruse the shelves at Tower Records. That was stupid, because now it's out of print and I can't find a copy. I was reminded of wanting to see it when Jackson Stewart brought it up on our recent Italian horror episode, so I guess what I'm saying is that I hold Jackson Stewart responsible for all of my regrets.

3. Gone With the Wind (1939, dir. Victor Fleming)
At this point, I should probably never see Gone With the Wind. I want to, but I can wear having not seen it like a badge of honor. Also, Erika has never seen it either, which means we'll have to watch it together. And when are we really going to have three hours free to watch Gone With the Wind? We'll probably just end up watching another episode of Ozark instead.

4. A Bittersweet Life (2005, dir. Kim Jee-woon)
I often name Kim Jee-woon as one of my favorite working filmmakers, and yet I still have not seen one of the movies regularly cited as one of his best. Like Cannibal Apocalypse, I blame it on availability. It still doesn't have a R1 release, and for a long time the only imports available were very pricey. It's come down considerably, but I haven't yet pulled the trigger on importing the movie. Who has seen it and how much do I need to prioritize a viewing? I don't care for all this unfinished business.

5. Wuthering Heights (1939, dir. William Wyler)
True story: this is one of Erika's favorite movies of all time. It's one she watched a bunch growing up. I don't think it's ever been released on DVD, though, which means I've had to record it multiple times off of TCM. I have had it saved on more than one DVR that then shit the bed and died, including another one that just died two weeks ago with Wuthering Heights on it. Next time I manage to record it, I should probably watch it instead of sitting on it for months.

6. Spartacus (1960, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
I think I've seen almost every Stanley Kubrick movie except for this, probably his least Kubrickian film. At this point I have no excuse except to say that I was hoping to catch it on the big screen as part of a revival or something. It doesn't come around very often, though; my best bet is as part of some TCM or Fathom Events screening. If Criterion ever upgrades their DVD to Blu-ray, I would probably check it out at last. However, I think their rights to the movie have lapsed. The good news is that Universal has put out a restored Blu-ray to make up for their original disappointing release. Naturally, I don't have it. I do have Cop Out if that helps.

7. The Unborn (1991, dir. Rodman Flender)
Between Idle Hands and Leprechaun 2 and his appearance on Killer POV, I am a fan of director Rodman Flender. I still haven't seen his debut feature The Unborn, made during his days working for Roger Corman at New World Pictures. It stars Brooke Adams, which is always a plus, and it gives her a mutant baby, which is just science fact. Unfortunately, the title is very hard to come by. Maybe Lionsgate can put it out on Blu-ray as part of their Vestron Classics line?

8. The Towering Inferno (1974, dir. John Guillerman)
I have a total blind spot when it comes to 1970s disaster movies. There are a bunch from which I could have picked, but The Towering Inferno seems to be the most famous and has the best cast. I'm sure JB has a copy laying around. He likes these things.

9. Memories of Murder (2003, dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Another great Korean filmmaker, another famous film I've not seen. It's on Amazon Video for rent or purchase, so I have no real excuse. I'll check it out just as soon as I'm done with The Last Detail.

10. Mirrors (2008, dir. Alexandre Aja)
I seriously still haven't watched Mirrors, you guys. This October, maybe? I mean, probably. Surely this is the year.


  1. I'd agree with The Last Detail and Memories of Murder being numbers 1-2 to watch next, interchangeably. Also Gone With the Wind is like 4 hours too, so good luck! It's my Mom's favorite movie so I've watched it like 3 times all the way through over the years. It's pretty darn watchable given the length. Also had no idea Aja did the infamous Mirrors.

  2. Nice list! There is nothing super shameful on here, my top 10 would have so many more egregious entries…

    I also have never seen Gone With the Wind. I have seen The Happening three times #MovieShame.

  3. I'd say put The Last Detail, Spartacus, and Memories of Murder at the top of your list. They're all well worth your time.

    1. I recently saw The Last Detail for the first time thanks to the Powerhouse Blu Ray. While not as magical or transcendent as Harold & Maude or Being There (or 8 Million Ways to Die question mark?), I thought it was really great. Still thinking about it weeks later.

  4. Guess what I'm watching this afternoon in 35mm? Yep, because NYC RULES! :-)

  5. Check Netflix for the two Korean films. That's where I watched them a couple of years ago.

  6. Is it bad I'm pleased that I've seen 2 of these?

  7. Gone with the wind is actually 4 hours. So, yeah. It's also a tad on the racist side

    The Last Detail is definitely on my list. Too bad Twilight Time is now out of stock for it

  8. THE LAST DETAIL is vintage 1970s cinema - gritty New York, unglamorous abrasive characters, a focus on the mundane details of life. The amount of swearing in the film surprised me the first time I watched. You will enjoy it, Patrick.

    Maybe it is because the main characters are both sailors, but I cannot think of THE LAST DETAIL without having the wonderful CINDERELLA LIBERTY come to mind. That has one of James Caan's best roles.

    Warren Oates is also one of my favorite actors. Rugged actors like him and Robert Ryan have long interested me. The 1970s period is the only time an actor like Oates could have become a leading man. His performance in BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA remains one of my all-time favorites.

    However one views the depictions of the antebellum South and Reconstruction , GONE WITH THE WIND is great filmmaking. The costumes, the sets, that musical score are all top-notch. Scarlet O'Hara's oath to no longer be poor and hungry continues to be a stirring moment.

    SPARTACUS is probably best appreciated seeing on a big screen. Unfortunately, I have not had that chance yet. It is impressive to watch on television, but a wide-screen film like that can only have more impact seen in the environment it was made for.

  9. The only one of these I have seen is Spartacus and honestly... you're fine. It's not a bad movie, I enjoy it, but you keep waiting for the acclaimed epic to arrive and never quite gets there for me.

  10. I've only seen The Last Detail from your list. I like it, it's good.
    For me the list is (in alphabetical order):
    Ace in the Hole
    Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
    Cape Fear (both versions)
    Dial M for Murder
    RIo Bravo
    The Lady from Shanghai

    There's more of course, but that's of the top of my head. Are they all worth my time?

    1. Yes on all of them (except I've never seen The Lady from Shanghai, so I don't know about that one).

    2. I love The Last Detail. Gone With The Wind is really good too. It doesn't feel its length imo.

  11. If you're a big fan of slick action films, A Bittersweet Life is a must.

  12. Gone With The Wind is probably my highest profile blind spot and, yes, I too somewhat proudly wear that badge.
    This is unlikely to change.
    I am, after all, 47.

  13. The Towering Inferno is stunningly cheese! I LOVES IT

  14. The Unborn is one of my favorite movies and I'm so happy it is on this list.

  15. Memories of Murder is soooooo good. Get on it.

  16. I saw A Bittersweet Life during Junesploitation, and it's excellent. Memories of Murder is also one I want to see soon. Preferably before dying.