Thursday, October 29, 2009

#443: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Director: Sidney Lumet
Cast: Al Pacino, John Cazale & Charles Durning

Based on a true event, Dog Day Afternoon demonstrates the effect a camera has on people. When the police and news crews surround the bank that Sonny and Sal unsuccessfully attempt to rob, the street fills up with people, cheering on their anti-hero. Everyone involved in the situation relishes their moment in the spotlight, including a bank teller who decides to stay as a hostage and a pizza deliveryman who drops off the bank workers’ dinner. The plot snowballs as more of Sonny’s relations enter the picture, creating an incredibly complex character that is never analyzed, only presented.

A political commentary is strung throughout the story, though never the centerpiece of the film. An inflated economy brings Sonny to his current position, the known brutality of police keep him in the position, and sexual orientation (and the views of society on it) drives him to succeed. However, despite all the political undertones, the film never outwardly exposes itself as a statement on the present state of society.

The humor in this film is completely new, making a crime drama a lighthearted experience. Rather than being considered a comedy (or docudramedy, as it were), the humor is never there for hardy laughs, but simply makes the film a quirky take on the way criminals become glamorized through the media.

Two thumbs up for a very unique take on a real life bank robbery.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • The real bank robber (John Wojtowicz) had watched The Godfather (1972) the day he robbed the Chase Manhattan bank to get ideas. Both Al Pacino and John Cazale were in "The Godfather".
  • Al Pacino's performance as Sonny Wortzik is ranked #4 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
  • In the 1972 "Life" magazine article that inspired the film, P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore describe robber John Wojtowicz as "a dark, thin fellow with the broken-faced good looks of an Al Pacino or a Dustin Hoffman". Al Pacino, of course, played the role based on Wojtowicz, and when he nearly quit the film early on, the role was offered to Dustin Hoffman.
  • The bank's manager Robert Barrett later said he had more laughs in that one night than he'd had in weeks, while teller Shirley Bell said if they'd been her houseguests on a Saturday night it would have been hilarious.
  • Pacino's now legendary shouting to the crowd of "Attica! Attica!" was an improvisation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#444: Hairspray (1988)

Director: John Waters
Cast: Ricki Lake, Leslie Ann Powers, Michael St. Gerard, Colleen Fitzpatrick & Divine

The film that inspired not only a Broadway and West End hit, but also a film version of the musical, Hairspray is the story of the bubbly and 'pleasantly plump' Tracy Turnblad whose dream comes true in 1963 Baltimore when she is voted to be the newest dancer on a local TV show "The Corny Collins Show". Despite her being the only overweight girl on the show, she manages to steal the skinny, bitchy, blonde girl's boyfriend, and eventually lead Baltimore to integrate with the black community.

There is just so much to like about this movie. Even twenty years after the civil rights movement, this film made race issues not only relevant, but something that you can make fun of. The white supremacists in the film are depicted as absolutely bonkers, but somehow not completely that far off from what some of these crazies in our country can act.

The acting is brilliant. Every character is a caricature, leading to a strange mix between the townspeople of Edward Scissorhands and the Whos of Whoville. Everyone is wearing ridiculously bright colors, and their dance moves are so base, but at the same time you can so easily be sucked in to believing that this is the coolest of cool.

Oh, and I can't go without mentioning some famous faces in the cast: Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller and Ruth Brown. Honestly, how can you have a cast like this and not end up with a fantastic flick?

If you don't like this film, you're wrong. If you judge it because of its remake, you're wronger. I've actually never seen the remake, but I've always been a bit repulsed by it, possibly because I grew up with the original.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • "Tilted Acres" was based on "Gwynn Oak Amusement Park" in Baltimore County, MD, where racial problems occurred.
  • Ricki Lake began rapidly losing weight due to the intense dance lessons she had to take for the film. She reportedly had to "eat like crazy" in order to stay plump.
  • There was a scene filmed where Tracey finds cockroaches in her hair (which was based on the urban legend about a girl whose brain is eaten by cockroaches that were living in her beehive hairdo). While it never made it into the final cut it does explain all the references to roaches in the latter part of the film.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#445: Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Director: Peter Farrelly
Cast: Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels

Harry and Lloyd are two examples of people of the utmost stupidity. Lloyd is working as a taxi driver, and Harry as a dog groomer, and their ultimate goal is to start a pet shop to sell worms. When Lloyd falls in love with a girl in his car who is heading to the airport, he amorously watches after her at the airport, where she lets go of her suitcase and walks off without it. What he doesn't know is that this was a drop-off of a large sum of money, which Lloyd successfully ruins. He and Harry make a cross-country trip to Aspen to return the bag, creating mayhem at every turn.

You guys may lose some respect for me for this, but I can't give this a bad review. And I'll tell you why.

No, I wasn't the greatest fan of this film. But! This is not because of the film itself. It's because of its genre. And I just feel wrong for giving a bad review for a genre. As far as the film goes, it is a classic among its fart-happy descendants. No matter how irritating Jim Carrey can be, he's selling his role with perfection. I have nothing at all against his performance, even though I didn't really enjoy it all too much.

But even with my general dislike for this type of film, it did actually get me chuckling more than once. I can't stress enough how much of an accomplishment that is, considering I went into the film disliking it before it even started. So, congratulations 11-year-old audience, you won me over... at little.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • Jim Carrey chipped his tooth years earlier, but had the cap removed for the film to make his character look more deranged.
  • After the guys pull the bill-paying stunt on Sea Bass, Harry asks Lloyd where he got that idea. Lloyd tells him that he saw it in a movie. This is a reference to the movie Something Wild (1986) in which Jeff Daniels does the same thing to Ray Liotta.
  • Nicolas Cage and Gary Oldman were the original choices to play Harold and Lloyd.
  • Jim Carrey was initially offered $700,000 to appear in the film. However, the offer went in the same week that "Ace Ventura Pet Detective" opened at number 1 at the US box office, so by the time Carrey's agents had renegotiated with the film's producers, his salary had upped itself to $7 million, almost half the film's budget.

Monday, October 26, 2009

#446: High Fidelity (2000)

Director: Stephen Frears
Cast: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso & Jack Black

Rob is the owner of an independent record store who is fed up with working with his two employees while going through his fifth-worst break-up in his life. He categorizes his life in "Top 5"s, which indicates that he analyzes and overanalyzes everything in his life - which is exactly what he spends the film doing. Instead of starting discussion with Laura, he reconnects with his top four break-ups instead to discuss what exactly he'd done wrong.

This is the second book-to-film by Hornby that I've seen, and I have to admit that the transition went well. Before my viewing, I was dubious that the story could be set anywhere but Crouch End, and couldn't believe that the cynical British outlook on life could be duplicated even by Cusack, King of Cynicism. But it worked! It was a great relief.

Beyond that, though, I'm not really sure why this movie is so highly regarded. I agree, it's an entertaining movie, but most of its charm in my opinion is in the plot and characters. I'm sure some of you out there are big fans of the film, and I'd like to hear your opinion.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

Lastly, I want to apologize for giving you false information in a recent post. I stated that I believed I was done with the string of bad films on the list. Unfortunately, my next post will (almost certainly - I've never seen it) prove to continue that trend of awfulness.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

#447: Ten (2002)

Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Cast: Mania Akbari, Amin Maher ...

Ten conversations shot from the dashboard of a car describe society in Tehran in 2002. The driver speaks with her son, a religious woman, a prostitute, and a friend who just broke up with her long-term boyfriend. Through these conversations, a mosaic is created, formulating a picture of female repression in a culture where religion is weaved into every aspect of a person's life.

This is a film with a lot of potential to expose the problems in Iranian society, but it simply doesn't do much (for me at least). I'm gonna have to agree with Ebert - one of the few with a negative review of this film - when he said that this film is not something to watch, but something to read about.

Supposedly these conversations were based on real ones which the main actress had had in her life, which gives the film a bit of credibility. The format of the film is similar to a documentary, and the acting is perfectly believable. The fact that it has a foundation in real life is a nice thing to know when viewing.

Certainly an interesting view... if only it went somewhere. It's interesting to see that Empire chose this film for the list and not one of the others by Kiarostami, who had one the Palme d'Or for Ta'm e guilass.

Sorry for not posting the trailer today, kids - couldn't find one anywhere.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • Chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2002 (#01, with "Choses secrètes")

Sunday, October 18, 2009

#448: A History of Violence (2005)

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello & Ed Harris

Tom Stall is a small-town diner owner who lives a decent life with his lawyer wife Edie and his two children. His whole existence is brought under question when two armed robbers enter the diner, threatening the workers and customers. Tom fends of the attackers, bringing his name and image to the national stage. Soon, a new mysterious figure enters the diner. Mobster Carl Fogarty saw Tom's image on the news and is convinced that Tom is actually named Joey Cusack, a man who Carl wants to bring an end to an old dispute. Throughout the next few weeks, Tom faces accusations about his own identity while he discovers that violence is a necessary evil in America.

This film belongs in a different time. The style is reminiscent of Eastwood's films, with a simple story line presented in such a clear manner that we can't help but be absorbed into the story. Viggo Mortensen presents Tom Stall as such an enigma that we find ourselves constantly guessing what he's thinking.

The outline of the plot itself is wonderfully presented, starting as a very simple story of a small-town man put in the spotlight. As time passes, the situation grows and grows until it all runs out of control. And finally, after the storm, we are left to brood over all that had happened.

I don't really have any complaints against this film despite a bit of recycled material coming from Howard Shore. His score frequently makes use of the open fifth to support the openness of the landscape of rural America, but so much of the music sounds just like Lord of the Rings that we start to wonder if somehow Mortensen might be the cause!

A great, straightforward film. Two thumbs up!

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • During an interview, Viggo Mortensen stated that during the shooting of the first bar scene with Ed Harris he could not stop laughing, and as a result, the scene had to be re-shot several times. Due to Viggo Mortensen's behavior, Ed Harris completed the scene without pants; he only wore his underwear, yet this cannot be seen as the bar table impedes our view. Thus, Viggo Mortensen had to act seriously while Ed Harris was not wearing any pants, and this is the scene that is used in the movie.
  • Has the distinction of being the last major Hollywood movie to be released in the VHS format.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

#449: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Director: George Lucas
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman & Jake Lloyd

In the midst of a trade war, Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi are stranded on the desert planet Tatooine, alongside Queen Amidala. They enter a store seeking replacement parts for their ship, where they meet Anakin Skywalker. Immediately, Qui-Gon Jinn recognizes the child's potential. Qui-Gon Jinn uses Anakin's help to get his ship back in the sky by means of a racing bet, and finally begins Anakin's adventures that we know will soon transform him into Darth Vader.

As the first of the prequels, I hoped for something a little simpler. Rather than introducing countless new droids and species, why not elaborate on the origins of those that we're familiar with from the originals? I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that most of this film was made simply to use special effects. Even with so much emphasis on visuals, we're left with what looks like a huge video game.

I'll be blunt: the script is awful. I don't know who thinks it's still a good idea to use words like "Yippee!" and "Ouch!" in a more serious script, but whoever they are, they need to get their heads out of the 1950's sitcom.

The characters aren't relatable. Not-a-one of them. If I had to describe these characters in one word, this is how it would go:

Anakin - Young
Qui-Gon Jinn - Wise
Obi-wan Kenobi - Training
Queen Amidala - Decorative
Darth Maul - Gingivitis

One of the highlights of the film is Anakin's pod-race. While watching it, I couldn't help but think back to the Ben-Hur chariot race. It's a bit pitiful when there's more suspense in an action sequence from a film nearly half a century prior to this one. Even with all they're special effects, even that scene didn't seem all that exciting.

Probably the only good thing to come out of this film is Duel of the Fates. You can always count on John Williams to put a little good in a film.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • George Lucas made a similar deal as he did in the original Star Wars (1977). Both Lucas and Fox Studios agreed that he would forego his salary as a director provided he owns the entire negative of the final cut of the film as well as ancillary rights of all toys and commercial tie-ins.
  • There is only one shot in the film to which no visual effects were added at all: the shot of the dioxis gas pouring out of the vent in the meeting room.
  • During filming Ewan McGregor made lightsaber noises as he dueled. It was noted and corrected during post production.
  • The name used by the Queen while in disguise (and, later, after her term as Queen ends), "Padme", is the Sanskrit word for "lotus". "Yoda" is also derived from the Sanskrit word for "warrior".
  • In the German language version of the film, the collaborating Trade Federation leaders have a French accent, while in the Italian language version they have heavy Russian accents. They also have Russian accents in the Czech version, except for the Viceroy, who speaks fluent Czech for reasons unknown.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#450: King Kong (2005)

Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody, Jack Black & Andy Serkis

A sleazy film producer finagles his way into getting an entire cast and crew onto a ship headed for a mysterious, uncharted island. When they arrive unexpectedly, they find an unwelcoming tribe of indigenous people living on the island. The crew is attacked, and actress Ann Darrow is kidnapped to be sacrificed to Kong. The giant ape snatches her from her perch, but both Kong and Ann are surprised to find themselves fast becoming friends. However, the crew continues their rescue mission to find Ann, intent on killing the beast.

This is the second remake of the original King Kong, released in 1933. The original, of course, is a classic in film history, and many film buffs will argue that a classic should never be touched. In a sense, I do agree, but Jackson did a really fine job with this remake.

Naomi Watts was a perfect fit for this role. She had a remarkable performance, demonstrating her extensive talents. The finale was truly heart-wrenching, while her action scenes were thrilling, and she even performed Chaplin-esque slapstick routines with gusto. Bravo, Ms. Watts! I hope to see more of your skill soon.

Being directed by Peter Jackson, you can't expect anything less than phenomenal special effects, and this holds true in this film. The action sequences will have your head reeling, particularly one in which Ann finds herself caught between Kong and a couple of dinosaurs.

There are two complaints I have about the film, and I'm sure these complaints are pretty common among the audience of this film. First of all, Jack Black? Really? Having such a huge face from the comedy universe just shouldn't ever be given this role, even if he had a tremendous audition. I was never sure how seriously I should take his character. Sure, he can play a sleazeball, but then he starts spouting out proverbs and classic lines (ahem, the finale), which simply doesn't even fit his sleazy, semi-comedic role. The second complaint: it's too damn long. Jackson loves getting his cinematographic groove on a little bit too much. He's got some great shots, but too many of them!

This is a perfect popcorn flick. Some very good performances, and a fun film overall.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • The insects attacking Jack Driscoll at the canyon bottom are gigantic versions of the Weta, a species native to New Zealand and the namesake of Peter Jackson's production studio.
  • The "Ancient Proverb" cited by Carl at his premier served as the prologue in the original version of the film.
  • The score being played in the New York theatre when Kong is revealed is the same score from the original King Kong (1933). The same is true for the costumes being worn by the performers on stage-they are similar to the island inhabitants from the original King Kong.
The digitally-rendered 1933 NY is so detailed that it contained 90,000 separate buildings.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

#500 - #451, Renumbered

I've renumbered the first fifty films from the list. These are listed in order of how impressed I was overall. They're not necessarily the most fun watches in order - they're not necessarily the most historically significant - they're just impressive in some way or another.

Let me know your thoughts!

  1. Ben Hur
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  3. Juno
  4. Ikiru
  5. Back to the Future II
  6. In the Company of Men
  7. Ocean’s Eleven
  8. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  9. Rebel Without a Cause
  10. Snatch
  11. The Bourne Supremacy
  12. Sideways
  13. Glengarry Glen Ross
  14. Scream
  15. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  16. Princess Mononoke
  17. Into the Wild
  18. 12 Monkeys
  19. Batman
  20. Unbreakable
  21. The Son’s Room
  22. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  23. The Wicker Man
  24. Santa Sangre
  25. Superbad
  26. Topsy-Turvy
  27. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  28. Dead Man’s Shoes
  29. The Deer Hunter
  30. Enter the Dragon
  31. Full Metal Jacket
  32. Brick
  33. Sweeney Todd
  34. 28 Days Later
  35. Amores Perros
  36. Jailhouse Rock
  37. Le Doulos
  38. Crash
  39. Halloween
  40. The Fountain
  41. Flesh
  42. The Crow
  43. Saw
  44. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
  45. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  46. Superman Returns
  47. The Big Red One
  48. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  49. Speed
  50. Top Gun

#451: Speed (1994)

Director: Jan de Pont
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock & Dennis Hopper

A psychopath ex-cop goes bomb-happy, placing a bomb on a bus in Los Angeles that is set when the bus hits 50mph, and goes off when the bus decelerates to below 50mph. An officer gets himself onto the bus to try to defuse the bomb, and stuff goes nuts.

Despite its incomprehensible 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie is one of the worst choices for the list. I'm not even going to deny it - I'm not ashamed - I organized my DVDs while watching this film. The acting is awful (except for Sandra Bullock, who is doing her usual, Sandra Bullock-esque thing), the music is lowest of the low in the early-to-mid-90's genre, and the plot is laughable. There are so many plot holes, that the film in fact becomes one big hole.

It did actually win two Oscars, for Best Effects (Sound Effects Editing) and Best Sound, with another nomination for Film Editing. So basically, the explosions and stuff sound pretty neat.

If you somehow got through the 90's without seeing this film, congratulations.. you're one of the lucky few.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • The film was originally written with the intention that Jeff Bridges would play Jack and Ellen DeGeneres would play Annie. DeGeneres was initially chosen because the role of Annie was going to be a comedic role opposite the serious role of Jack.
  • Halle Berry turned down the role of Annie.
  • The bus jump scene was done twice, as the bus landed too smoothly the first time. The bridge was actually there, but erased digitally.
  • One of the buses used in the filming of Speed has appeared in more than 60 films and commercials, as well as the music video for theTracy Chapman song "Telling Stories".
  • Quentin Tarantino was originally offered the chance to direct, but turned it down.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Time Has Come

As expected, things have gotten busier as time goes by. So, as I also expected, I think it's time to drop the 500-day limit. I have no intention of dropping the list altogether, but it's just too rough to set these restraints on myself.

Tomorrow I'll get back to it, finishing my FIFTIETH film on the list. I'll also include my reorganized list thus far. So keep an eye out!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#452: Unbreakable (2000)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn & Spencer Treat Clark

Elijah Price is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which makes him highly prone to bone damage. When he is given a gift of a comic book collection as a child, he uses ideas from his comics to deduce that if he is on one end of the spectrum with his weaknesses, there must be somebody else out there who is incredibly strong. As an adult, he hears on the news that David Dunn is the sole survivor of a train wreck, with not a scratch on him. Price approaches Dunn, trying to convince him that they are polar opposites, and Dunn is in fact super-human.

This is Shyamalan's fourth film, which I found surprising. I went into it thinking it was his first or second, and I certainly thought it was made before The Sixth Sense (which, in reality, was released one year prior to Unbreakable). I think this film is a step back from his usual style. It's not that the filmmaking isn't good in the first three quarters of the film, but it's not distinctly Shyamalan, which was disappointing. However, Shyamalan's trademark of using colors to represent characters is used distinctly throughout the film, which I always thought was clever.

I'm also never a fan of Shyamalan's self-casting for a small role in each film. He's clearly trying to one-up Hitchcock, but it just doesn't work, because Shyamalan is a crappy actor.

But the film isn't all bad. It's a fun watch with colorful characters, with an interesting (but a bit over-the-top) premise. There's no bad acting - nothing amazing either.

I rank this film pretty equally with Lady in the Water and Signs (I never saw The Village, but I am pretty sure it'd be ranked similarly). These films just weren't as clever as The Sixth Sense for one reason. As we all know, there is a twist at the end of each of his films. What distinguishes The Sixth Sense from the others is that the twist actually changes everything we had believed throughout the whole film, while Lady in the Water and Signs simply bring different parts of the films together.

One thumb up (only partially due to Samuel L. Jackson's hair).

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta is a real but rare disease.
  • Several scenes relating to the "Mr. Glass" character involve glass: - as a newborn, he's primarily seen reflected in mirrors - as a young child, he's seen reflected in a blank TV screen - he leaves his calling card on the windshield of David Dunn's car - he's reflected in a glass frame in his art gallery - his walking stick is made of glass.
  • Of all the films he's made, Unbreakable (2000) is M. Night Shyamalan personal favorite.
  • The film derived from the first third of the original script. Shyamalan felt no connection to the last thirds of the text and decided to discard them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#453: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen & Ray Winstone

Indiana Jones returns, twenty years after his previous adventures. He's been kidnapped by the KGB, who are in seeking the remains of an extraterrestrial at a government base in Nevada. After his escape from Area 51, Jones meets a greaser named Mutt, who lets Jones know that his old colleague Oxley has been kidnapped in Peru after he found a crystal skull. Myth tells us that whoever returns this skull to the hidden city of Akator will be presented with its powers.

The best way I can describe this film is with an analogy. Let's say that Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade are beautiful gardens. Going into this film, you are presented with an empty lawn. The filmmakers through seeds all willy-nilly onto this lawn, in hopes of forming another beautiful garden. However, it turns out that that's not the way of a great horticulturist. They ended up with a mess.

The plot was just too crazy. Indiana Jones belongs as a film of the 80s, where action-adventure was in its glory days (Back to the Future, anyone?). The over-the-top action has been overdone, which is why today we've begun to back off and make our heroes more realistic (see my previous post).

As for its special effects, the majority of it was so overdone that it looked like a video game. The only part that I was very impressed by was the very end, in which I thought the special effects were really top-notch.

Yeah, that's just about all I've got to say about that.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • In 2002, high profile screenwriter Frank Darabont, who'd penned several episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, was brought on board the project during what was probably the most publicized of the many failed attempts to find a screenplay for a fourth Indiana Jones film. Darabont collaborated closely with Steven Spielberg for over a year, resulting in a script entitled "Indiana Jones and the City of Gods." While Spielberg reportedly loved the script (according to Darabont he called it the greatest script he'd read since Raiders of the Lost Ark), George Lucas rejected the draft for reasons that were never disclosed, and the film was sent back to the drawing board once more.
  • The only Indiana Jones film to not receive any Oscar nominations. The first three movies in the series had won at least one Oscar each.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

#454: The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Joan Allen & Brian Cox

After Jason Bourne awoke with no memory, he found himself with extraordinary skills, but doesn't know how he learned them. He also found a cache of passports with his picture in them, all under different names (one of which was Jason Bourne). After being dogged by spies and assassins in The Bourne Identity, he managed to settle with his girlfriend Marie in Goa, India, as far away from his enemies as can be. Unfortunately, he soon realizes that he is being followed, and is thrown back into the fray. This time, it seems that somebody is framing him for a murder that took place in Berlin.

This is an inventive, modern take on the super-hero genre of film. Jason Bourne is an enigma even unto himself, with skills that are extraordinary, albeit not unheard of. Everything he does is a realistic and logical (and crazy) way to survive in his situation, without any super-hero ability like Superman or Batman. His inventiveness in escapes are always plausible, and it's his ability to perform these stunts so quickly that astounds us.

There isn't much more needed to create a great movie, and thankfully Greengrass understood this. Nothing is overdone in this film (except for maybe a few car crashes), from the acting to the sets. Even the camerawork is done in a documentary-like style, often shaking as if filmed from a camcorder. This supports the idea that Bourne is no Marvel Comic super-hero, and this series doesn't need the magical elements to make it an exciting ride.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

Unlike the James Bond franchise, all the devices that Bourne uses are real and can be purchased by the average citizen.
The film originally ended with the confession to Neski's daughter. Following previews, which found the ending too bleak, the New York postscript scene with Bourne and Landy was shot, just weeks before the film's release in the summer of 2004.

Friday, October 2, 2009

#455: Top Gun (1986)

Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer & Anthony Edwards

Naval aviator Pete "Maverick" Mitchell and his back seater "Goose" are accepted to the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, an academy which accepts only the top 1% of Naval aviators in the country. There, they compete for the highest rank, "Top Gun". During their training, Maverick starts a relationship with one of his instructors, and soon faces many hardships after a fatal accident.

This movie sucks. I really can't be anything but blunt on this one. It sucks. It's a pre-teen boy's dream, and that's about it. It also manages to encapsulate everything bad about the 80's, from the style to the music. And don't get me wrong, I think the 80's were a pretty rockin' era... but this doesn't show that. It shows the crappy side.

The film actually won an Academy Award for Best Song, but the soundtrack overall is incredibly repetitive, and incredibly 80's. There isn't any good acting throughout. The script isn't anything to brag about.

I really have no idea why this is on the list. And unfortunately, in the next 10 or so on the list, there's going to be a few more in which I can say the same thing (Speed, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, King Kong [2005], Star Wars Episode I). So, sorry in advance for all these horrible titles all clustered together. I bear no responsibility.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • Val Kilmer did not want to be in this film, but was forced to by contractual obligations.
  • Bryan Adams was asked to allow his song "Only the Strong Survive" on the soundtrack, but he refused because he felt that the film glorified war.
  • During the filming of some sequences from civilian aircraft, longtime Hollywood stunt pilot Art Scholl was killed. A biplane he was flying crashed off the Pacific Coast. The film is dedicated to his memory.
  • Like the love scene, the elevator scene (where Maverick and Charlie meet after Mav's workout) was filmed post-production. Kelly McGillis's hair had already been colored for another movie role, that is why she is wearing a hat. Tom Cruise's hair is longer in the shot, as well.
  • Riding on the back of this film's success, the US Navy set up recruiting booths in the major cinemas to try and catch some of the adrenaline charged guys leaving the screenings. They had the highest applications rate for years as a result.
  • Scott Baio was offered the part of Maverick, but turned it down.