Chris’s Top Films of Twenty Ten

So, I’m back with another list of my “Tops of Twenty Ten.” This time it is films. It should be known up front, I have only seen a few films released this year and by no means am an authority on what “The best” films of 2010 are. This is simply a list of my favorites from this year and I do think they are each unique in their own little way. Here we go!

5) Machete:

Director(s) : Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez
Comments: This is vintage Rodriguez here. Nothing more than campy, B-Movie, exploitation fun! Boobs, bullets, and buckets of blood make this the greatest action flick all year.
Grade: 7/10

4) Trash Humpers:

Director: Harmony Korine
Comments: Okay, I’m cheating a bit here, because this is a film from last year, but it is still garnering attention and being screened this year and I just saw it a month ago, and above all this is my list! so, it will stay. In any case, old Harmful is back with another unique, shocking, and arguably groundbreaking film. At its best it conveys a haunting beauty and at its worst it looks just like a snuff film. Either way, I find it impossible to not have some sort of emotional reaction. In the end, the trash humpers are us, they just have the courage and freedom to fuck in public.
Grade: 8/10

3) Toy Story 3:

Director: Lee Unkrich
Comments: Wow what a list! To go from Trash Humpers to Toy Story 3! Anyway, I rarely develop an emotional connection with kids or animated films, but I can honestly say the Toy Story series is an exception. I had a feeling this would be at least decent, but I was surprised at how exceptional it really was for a third installemnt. Without a doubt, the Toy Story saga is one of the best trilogies in all of cinema. I seriously hope they don’t make a sequel, with this film the story feels complete.
Grade: 8/10

2) Shutter Island:

Director: Martin Scorcesse
Comments: Scorcesse brings us another suspenseful, character driven film. The performances here are near flawless, as I said in my review earlier this year, oscar nominations and wins for that matter are well deserved for at least two or three actors. Shutter isn’t one of Scorcesse’s best, but a second rate Scorcesse film is a first rate Hollywood creation and an excellent time at the movies. WAYYY BETTER THAN INCEPTION! There I said it.
Grade: 8/10

Note: 2 and 3 are basically interchangable.

1) The Social Network:

Director: David Fincher
Comments: Wow, I’m still feeling the residual effects of this film’s awesomeness. I acutally went to the theater twice to see this, which I almost never do. Of all the great features of this film, chiefly the screenplay reigns supreme. This is a dialogue drenched work of art, in fact most of the movie is simply people talking and yet it’s one of the most entertaining films I have ever seen. Definitely one of David Fincher’s finest and one cannot forget Trent Reznor’s terrific soundtrack. With no hyperbole, I concur to the claim that this is a generation defining film. How can it not be?
Grade: 9/10

Just For Fun, here is a list of the top five films I saw for the first time this year though they are not “new” releases.

1) Gummo (Harmony Korine)- 1997
2) Welcome to the Dollhouse (Todd Solondz)- 1996
3) Over the Edge (Jonathan Kaplan)- 1979
4) Platoon (Oliver Stone)- 1986
5) From Dusk Till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez)- 1996

Film Review: Trash Humpers

Full Title: Trash Humpers
Director: Harmony Korine
Year: 2009
Comments: Humping. Shagging. Forincating. Fucking. Whatever you wish to call it; it is a perpetual aspect of our American lifestyle. Trash: our ubiquitous used condom, the leftover, the thrown away, the skeleton of us. What happens when these two social phenomenas meet? The latest work of director, Harmful Korine. Being a massive fan of Korine’s first motion picture, Gummo (1997) I greatly anticipated seeing this film, in fact this was arguably the highest anticpated film for me in ages and certainly of this year. Having missed out on the various screenings of Trash from the past two years I put forth a valiant effort to order it from Amazon (it has been banned from Netflix!) and after a lengthy process it finally arrived. Quietly, I locked myself in my room and zoned out for a good hour and half (or whatever the running time is). As viewers we are presented with an “artifact,” as Korine has called it, this found footage, old school, raw, analog, VHS looking piece of work. And yes, right from the beginning, we watch thee miscreants hump trash like there’s no tomorrow. With no real dialogue or explanation we see non-linear scene after scene of the trio’s pastime, which include, but are certainly not limited to partying, setting off firecrackers, coercing their “slaves” to eat certain things and entertain for them, and of course murder. Of course. As can be expected with old Harmful’s cinematic experimentations, convential movie standards are obliterated and when we get any sense of insight about who these people are what their story is, this insight is severed. The film is completely chaotic, but amidst this bedlam, real emotion is communicated. As wildy and wacky as Trash can be, Korine manages to connect with his audience and even feel for the savage stars on screen with a unique finesse, unmatched in the undeground or aboveground film circuit. I honestly don’t know what it is sometimes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Korine is clearly talented, but I feel like in someone else’s hands, I would view this as, well nothing more than trash. But, instead he takes the lowest of the low and transforms this filth fest into a genuine artistic expression, albeit a harsh, relentless, visual and audio assault on the viewer. This is extreme, fringe cinema; out of all the found footage films I have seen, this one has struck me the hardest. It looks very real (though it is totally ficticious) and never lets up. Not once does it feel like a film… ehhh, one or two exceptions, but I don’t want to delve into those scenes in this review. I will say, I am hesitant to call it a masterpiece, just yet, but it is an original, challenging, piece of art that is easily one of the most thought provoking films I have ever seen. With comparison to other Korine films, let me say I don not enjoy this nearly as much as Gummo. I found that to be far more entertaining and I loved the way it swtiched things up constantly, with never a dull moment, even mixing the conventional with the unconventional. Now, I do prefer Trash over Mister Lonely (2007), Korine’s last film, which moved closer in the direction of a more mainstream/conventional film. Trash is akin to Harmful returning to his old form, so I’m glad about that. With that being said, at times I feel a bit bored, or like the film has run its course. This only happens a few times, but that’s enough to note. The film simply lacks the constant barrage of lurid images that Gummo contains. Don’t misconstrue me, it has a plethora of nasty, shocking, and definitely impressionable images, but not consistent enough for my taste. I feel like the film’s length could use a little truncating. But, it really doesn’t matter what I think, Korine made his film, the Great American Movie. If you are intrigued by the art of trash humping, I recommend it.

Grade: To slap a letter grade on this is kind of pointless, considering the criteria I usually require for films, by and large, cannot be applied here. So, I will judge it on an emotional level (and it certainly is filled with emotion- the last fifteen minutes is one of the most unsettling scenes/endings my eyes have ever witnessed). In the words of Anthony Fantano, I am going to give this a strong 7 to light 8, probably leaning more towards 8.

“I TOLD YOU I’D KILL IT!” For one of the KLYAMers, this is one of the best scenes in all of film. I agree it is great and it is definitely one of the funniest/most disturbing scenes in the the feature and perhaps of all time for that matter.

Classic Film Review: Pink Flamingos

Full Title: Pink Flamingos
Director: John Waters
Year: 1972
Comments: Now, I’ve seen my fair share of sick movies, but this “exercise in poor taste” brings disgusting comedies to a whole new level. Waters places his viewers amongst a sea of vile characters, and adimittedly this is style over substance. Drag Queen, Divine fights with her criminally insane counterparts, Connie and Raymond Marble for the title of “the filthiest person alive” and will stop at anything and I mean anything to wear the crown; in the ninety or so minutes of this film, wild, campy, cinematic fringe entertainment (depraved humor and chaos) ensues! Particularly I love the look of the film: trashy, video, stock footage vibes, as if you are viewing The Mansons Family’s home movies. This look has clearly influenced Justin Kelly’s work in the Hunx videos. All in all just a terrific peek into a bizarre, warped world, most of us would never dare to enter. Hilarious, stupid, vomit inducing, but best of all original. I recommend this to anyone that wants to see an offensive, off the wall, no holds barred comedy.
Grade: A-

Classic Film Review: Over the Edge

Full Title: Over the Edge
Director: Jonathan Kaplan
Year: 1979
Fun Fact: This was Kurt Cobain’s favorite film and served as inspiration for the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video.
Comments: This here is a molotov cocktail in your very hands for you youngsters out there. Yeah, I know y’all didn’t catch my little Jerry Rubin reference, but catch this a town filled with tired and uninspired teenagers abandoned by their wealthy parents, whom only care about making more money while their community is rotting from the inside. Edge is the dark version of Dazed and Confused (1993); kids in the 70s, apathetic, anarchic, and ready to Rock and Roll: having a good time is the top priority. I must say being a fan of youth oriented/teen/coming of age films, I really dug this work and while watching it I had a myriad of reactions. It really felt like I was watching some sort of archive footage from the 70s. In some ways the story seemed schizophrenic, meaning I could not tell if the movie was rooting for the kids or for the adults. There was this afternoon made for TV movie special feeling to it (which was actually kinda cool!) and simultaneously a Rock and Roll High School (1979) youth rebellion aesthetic to it as well. I have come to the conclusion that this ambiguous combination serves as a reminder that life in general is never black and white and this film does not need to shove a message down your throat to say something. Overall, I have very little to no gripes with this film; I thoroughly enjoyed it and I look forward to watching it again and again. It is not perfect, but honestly I don’t think I would like this film if it was. Ya dig?

: Going back to Cobain, with the characters in this flick I could totally see a little Kurt in some of these kids- before you know it they will be at their first Minor Threat/Black Flag show!

Grade: A-

Classic Film Review: Mister Lonely

Full Title: Mister Lonely
Director: Harmony Korine
Year: 2007
Comments:”I just wanted to make a sequel to Caddy Shack”(1980). That was the explanation Harmony “Harmful” Korine offered David Letterman and his audience for why he wrote the screenplay for the controversial film Kids (1995). Anyone who has seen Kids knows that clearly Korine was pulling a fast one on the Late Show viewers. Kids follows twenty-four hours in the lives of a few teenagers in New York City as they have unprotected sex, consume copious amounts of alcohol and drugs, and commit various acts of anti-social behavior. Suffice to say both films share the common trait of having people in them, and that is about it. His next film Gummo (1997) was even more notorious. Gummo was an altogether new kind of film with images and sounds coming from everywhere. The movie has no real linear plot, but rather serves as a collection of highly impressionable and memorable scenes/vignettes. What we see and hear is almost always unsettling and more often than not downright vile. Following Gummo, Korine made one more full length feature film, Julien Donkey Boy (1999) before falling into a nasty drug habit and overall feeling of disenchantment. Eight years later, Korine bounces back with his biggest film yet, Mister Lonely (2007). With this work he pulls back a little bit and makes somewhat of a more conventional film. This time there is a narrative, in the traditional sense of the word, and more professional actors participate. Do not worry though, Korine still maintains his peculiar aesthetic as the story follows the life of a Michael Jackson look-alike (Diego Luna) living in Paris. One day the celebrity impersonator meets a fellow impersonator in the form of Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton), who invites him to live with her and other celebrity impersonators at a commune in the hills, where everything seems to be perfect.
I would wager that for Harmony Korine, making Mister Lonely is akin to a bizarre, obscure band finally making that album that is more commercially viable and not as strange, but still retains its weirdness. The album may hook in some new fans, it may push away long time devotees, but overall not much changes because the band is still too bizarre for most mainstream fans. Well, this sums up what ML does for Korine. Unlike his previous works, ML does not rely on the shock factor, but instead takes a more sensitive path, conveying an extreme care for its characters. Overall, the film displays themes related to isolation, self-hatred, withdrawal from reality, search for one’s dreams and one’s purpose in life, America’s obsession with fame and Hollywood, and ultimately the desire to be someone else. These issues are affectionately communicated to the audience, in stark contrast from the brutal, sometimes offensive nature of his previous films. There is far less ambiguity here and as a big fan of Korine, I cannot say this is a positive attribute. What I precisely loved about films like Gummo was the chaotic, seemingly message-less tone of the movie. In other words, one creates their own message, whatever is presented is there, but everyone is free to interpret their own meaning. This true of ML, but the film has far too much of a linear story for this to have the same effect. It feels as if Korine is attempting to make a more mainstream film and this is somewhat obvious because of the larger budget and so forth.
The look of the film is a significant departure from his previous works. The cinematography is mostly conventional and does not stand out as anything different, which is not necessarily a bad thing and perhaps will appeal to viewers that detest Korine’s usual style. His camerawork is as top notch as ever and certainly one of the strengths of the film. There are dazzling shots of nuns flying in the air and riding bicycles through the clouds. These shots offer strong imagery, but not nearly as evocative or as memorable as in the past.
Overall, this is a really good film with fascinating characters, excellent shot selection, and incredible use of music. The film has more strengths than weaknesses, but it is surely not without its share of flaws. It lacks cohesion and not in the good old Harmful sense for you fans out there. We have a (comparatively) normal structured film with a clear narrative, so when some randomness is tossed in, it does not quite fit, at least for my taste. In his previous movies, the scenes were filled to the brim with randomness to the point that it would be pointless for me to bring up cohesion as a flaw. Lastly, I will say I mostly found myself invested in the story and the characters, but at times I felt like it dragged on or appeared aimless, so for most viewers there is a good chance this will be far too vapid. With that being said, I recommend this to fans and non fans alike and I dare everyone to challenge themselves with a film they may otherwise overlook.

Grade: B

The background information in this review was taken from one of my past posts “Harmful For All Ages.”

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Halloween…

Full Title: Halloween
Director: John Carpenter
Year: 1978
Comments: Halloween gave us the classic teen slasher flick. Sure, Texas Chainsaw and others came before this, but Halloween cemented the staple in cinema. Essentially if you drink, smoke, and fuck when you can you will perish at the hands of the killer, in this case the ruthless Micheal Myers. Sure, he may not speak… at all, but that’s precisely what makes the character/film chilling. Not to mention, John Carpenter’s eerie music, easily one of the finest/scariest themes of all time. This is a classic and essential for the Halloween season every year.

Grade: A

Full Title: Dazed and Confused
Director: Richard Linklater
Year: 1993
Comments: If you have read my previous list of ABSOLUTE Favorite Films, then you would know this is number two for this guy. Dazed is the kind of film that gets better each time you see it until you have seen it a gazillion times like me, but I still appreciate it nonetheless. I associate this film with time, joy, and one’s perception of how much you enjoy your stay on earth and how this perception alters overtime. True, this is a party/hangout flick, the best of it’s kind as one Quentin Tarantino would agree. But, there is so much more going on than that. The tone of this film may be light hearted and certainly euphoria inducing (always cheers me up and makes me ready to party hardy!), but if you look closely the characters themselves do not realize this or outright disagree with this. At one point, Pink pronounces “if I ever refer to these as the best days of my life, then remind me to kill myself.” Their attiude toward life seems to contrast the tone of the film itself. It’s as if the film is speaking to us, saying: these were the good old days when you had no responsibilities and your only worry was which party you were going to next. Top priorities? Getting Aerosmith tickets, when they were still cool. But the characters do not realize this and sadly we never do either in our own lives. We don’t appreciate the good times until their long gone. Perhaps even editing out the bad stuff! It’s funny when I first saw this flick I was ten, way too young to appreciate or understand the significance of the story or should I say the insignificance of the story. I often hear Dazed Detractors (poor souls) comment that the film has no point or purpose, that the movie simply ends. This is true, but that is the point exactly. Dazed perfectly captures a slice of teenage life and in most days, nothing out of the ordinary occurs. At age ten this simply went over my precious skull and while watching the first half of the film I actually thought it was supposed to be some sort of afternoon DARE TV special against drugs! A few years later (age 13) I saw it again and I loved it. I would say this is the best time to turn people on to this flick, just as they are finishing up Junior High and becoming Highschoolers, just like Mitch. This got me so excited for HS. Sadly, as much fun as I had, it was never as righetous as the activity presented in Dazed, is anybody’s? Now I am in college and not too far from “That’s what I love about this High School girls, I get older they stay the same age.”

Grade: A+

Full Title: Kids
Director: Larry Clark
Year: 1995
Comments: Much like Dazed, Kids focuses on one day in the lives of the youth of America, where drinking, smoking, and fucking seems to be their only concerns. Yet, while Dazed has an atmosphere of joy and let the good times roll, this film has anything but. Most likely the characters in Dazed will go on to lead fine lives as upstanding citizens, but these kids are doomed for failure, incarceration, and certainly death. Clark takes then teen Harmony Korine’s painfully accurate screenplay and gives it the adult perspective we see in the film. As with Dazed the tone of the film seems to contrast with the attitude of most of the characters. The main players (literally) are Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) and Casper (Justin Pierce) and both are quite satisfied as total assholes that will take advantage of anyone they can, they see nothing wrong with this, yet the film never approves of their behavior nor does it totally condemn them either. Instead, the film simply speaks for itself. Lastly, for my money, Kids has some of the most natural dialogue ever written. Most folks believe it is improvised, but in fact it is nearly all scripted. The fact that it appears ad libbed only speaks to the brilliance of Korine’s script. After all, as Clark stated, Korine’s screenplay is “from the inside, from the point of view of the kids.”

Grade: A

Three classic youth oriented films.

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Tarantino Style

Full Title: Reservoir Dogs
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 1992
Comments: Reservoir Dogs is where it all began. With Dogs, writer/director Quentin Tarantino forever engraved his name in th echelon of badass cinema. Here we have our introduction to the dish de Tarantino, a dish best served cold: classic dialogue that has absolutely nothing to do with the plot (everything from astute interpretations of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” to the subtleties in what a white “bitch” will put up with and what a black “bitch” will not), gruesome and excessive violence, a non-chronological storyline, and coolest of all a bumpin’ soundtrack with classic 70s hits. Tarantino uses these various elements to ameliorate an otherwise stale genre of film. Instead of focusing merely on the plot, he instead pulls back and utilizes the perceived frivolous dialogue as key character development and even foreshadowing. For example, in the opening scene when it comes time for the gangsters to cough up a tip, Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) refuses because he does not believe in it, while Mr. White (Harvey Kietel) passionately argues that waitresses rely on these tips to survive. Pink admits that he thinks it is absurd that the government taxes their tips, but he still will not pay extra i.e. go against his own self-interests. White, on the other hand, is willing to help another person out when they need it. Later in the film we see this same situation: Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) is dying and White displays incredible compassion for his comrade, and insists that he receives medical attention immediately. Pink does not want Orange to die and somewhat sympathizes for him, but makes it clear that he will not put his neck on the line for someone else. This is top notch story telling from Tarantino and Dogs definitely showcases some of his greatest creations.
Grade: A+

Full Title: Pulp Fiction
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 1994
Comments: Without a doubt, this is Tarantino’s Magnum Opus. His finest film and one of the finest ever made. It baffles me when people say they have not seen this. Just scene after scene of witty, pop culture drenched dialogue, stylized violence, caustic humor, and above all memorable characters. Probably the best work for all involved- made Samuel L. “foot fucking master” Jackson the star he is today.
Grade: A+ (My Favorite Film)

Full Title: Inglourious Basterds
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Year: 2009
Comments: The following is a review I did upon the film’s release, one of my first film reviews for KLYAM:
First, I’ll offer you a brief rundown of the main characters
Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt)- Basterd, Jewish American Hillbilly crazy for revenge and leader of the renegade soldiers known as the Basterds. Provides much of the film’s comic relief. He orders his men to bring him 100 Nazi scalps each.
Hans Landa aka “The Jew Hunter” (Christoph Waltz)- The film’s chief nemesis. He is one of the highest ranking Nazis and though he is pure evil, he often displays a romantic, jovial, and courteous demeanor.
Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent)- A French Jewish girl, who narrowly escaped the massacre of her family at the hands of the Nazis and while on the run became the proprietor of an exquisite French Cinema.
Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger)- A famous movie star in Goebbels’ Nazi Germany film industry, whilst also a spy for the British/Allies. Like always, Kruger is extremely sexy!
Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl)- The Nazi’s model sniper, killed hundreds of enemy soldiers in just a few short days. After gaining fame for his military “heroism” he became the biggest star of Nazi propaganda films.
Staff Sergeant Donny Donnowitz aka “The Bear Jew“( Eli Roth) A Bostonian Basterd that takes pride in beating his Nazi victims with a baseball bat. The crowd cheered when this guy made his killings!

Final Thoughts: An instant classic! Comparable to the Kill Bill series and certainly better than Tarantino’s last flick, Death Proof (which was good). It’s a violent, gory, hilarious, alternate version of history. This is unique because, unlike most War films it isn’t a Drama. Tarantino doesn’t make Drama films. Period. This is straight up revenge! An action packed revenge movie in the style of a Spaghetti Western with elements of the French New Wave era, like most Tarantino works. The soldiers in this film, the Basterds, aren’t portrayed as people with emotions, families, or lives outside of war, like most movies of the genre. Instead, they are fierce Guerrilas only concerned with one thing… KILLING NAZIS! On the other side of the fence, we see Nazi soldiers who do have emotions, love for the cinema, sons waiting at home to play catch with,etc. I’ve never seen a film show this side of the enemy. Remarkably we still cheer for the Americans and boo the Nazis; after all it’s a REVENGE movie! In short, Quentin is our generation’s chief raconteur; you can tell he cares about his characters and therefore we care about them.

Go See Inglourious Basterds Now!!!

P.S. For you Tarantino nuts out there (like me), he makes tremendously effective uses of his trademark “Corpse View” shot.

Grade: A

” Oh man, I shot Marvin in the face!”

Mini Classic Film Reviews: Dirty Work…

Full Title: Dirty Work
Director: Bob Saget
Year: 1998
Comments: It saddens me when I hear that so many young boys and girls have not heard of this hilarious, wacky, raunchy comedy from Bob Saget of all people. No, this aint Full House, but it is just as ridiculous, except in a good way. DW is in the same league as such Adam Sandler classics as Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996) (Sandler even makes a cameo himself), not quite on par with those ditties, but certainly in the same league. If you dig dead hookers, people getting their noses (half) bitten off, and revenge then this is right up your alley- after all that best describes my typical weekend. DW is also special because it contains the great Chis Farley in his last on screen role, and as usual he is wildly brilliant. RIP buddy.

Grade: B+/A-

Full Title: Office Space
Director: Mike Judge
Year: 1999
Comments: One of the funniest films I have ever seen period. Just about everyone knows what it is like to hate their job (at least at some point in their life) and that is precisely what makes this film funny. If you have ever taken orders from multiple bosses and felt that horrible swoosh of vapidity that comes from work then this movie is for you. OS delivers a decent story with some goofball humor mixed with a clever take on the 9-5 world; in other words a fun way of saying FUCK OFF to Corporate America.

Grade: A (one of the finest comedies around)

Full Title: South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Director: Trey Parker
Year: 1999
Comments: Ahh good old South Park our modern day Voltaire (with dick jokes :). SP has never let us down and this movie is evidence that Trey and Matt can extend their satiric brilliance into a full-length feature. This is not simply a few episodes of SP slapped together, this is a high quality film with a conistent story that never ceases to amuse, shock, and certainly entertain. Seriously, this is the best musical I have seen in years and definitely the smoothest sitcom to silver screen transition. As much as I love the SP series, I think this is their greatest offering, by far.

Grade: A/A-

My Top 50 Absolute Favorite Films

Yeah, y’all know me, still the same OG, but I been low key… on my list of favorites that is. Yeah, y’all know me. You know how much I love to conjure up these little lists of my favorite this and that. Well, today kids you are in for a (trick or?) treat. Last time, I posted my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE albums of all times and since I am an ultra movie geek just like I am an ultra music geek the following is a list of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE films! One exception. Last time my list consisted of my top 25 ABSOLUTE favorite albums, this time I am counting down from 50 to 1! Same rules apply- ABSOLUTE means truly special films for me, so there are movies that I love and consider favorites, but they will not appear here because they do not affect me nearly enough as these babies do. In other words, with these guys I go out of my way to tell everybody about them and encourage discussion, debate even regarding them any chance I get. They pitch a tent, kick back and relax in my cerebral, waiting to float down to my vocal chords and become the center of attention whenever I can find someone that is willing to have their head talked off in a cinematic bull session. No bullshit. So, few films can do that for me- I have to make the distinction between these masterpieces and other fine works of art that I adore, but simply do not make the cut. Briefly, I have noticed as I am sure you will too, several trends amongst this selection: humor, often dark and/or over the the top, controversial, ridiculous humor; one can never go wrong with pure ridiculocity. Anyway… other similar elements include heavily dialogue and character based screenplays, coming of age/youth oriented themes, and as I have stated in previous posts the most crucial factor for me, vastly memorable features- whether you want to remember them or not. Now, not all of these trends appear in each flick, but they make their presence clear. So, here is the point when you say to yourself “get to the fucking list.” Alright ramblers, let’s get rambling!

Cue the badass music… I am thinking Glassjaw- You Think You’re John Fucking Lennon. James’ GJ piece got me in the mood! Oh and to answer your question Darryl, yes I do.

P.S. This is a list of favorites not the best films ever made. So, do not comment that this is “wrong” or “this shouldn’t be on here” you will just make yourself look like an asshole.

50) The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme)- 1991
Silence takes the typical detective story and gives it a good spin on its head- everything is out of the ordinary. We have seen this story before young detective (Jodie Foster) makes her name hunting down a well sought after criminal (Ted Levine) with the help of another criminal (Anthony Hopkins, except with this terrifying tale, the criminal is a disturbing serial killer that tortures and murders college girls and uses their flesh for his own attire (to achieve the appearance of a woman to boot). And the other criminal is not just some scumbag, run of the mill character, no, Dr. Hannibal Lector is a cold, calculating villain, one of the most unsettling characters in all of horror and the performance of a lifetime from Sir Anthony Hopkins. Perhaps what I love the most about SOL is the suspense; Hannibal’s mind games for Clarice leave you as quizzical as she is.

49) Sixteen Candles (John Hughes)- 1984
For most people, especially girls, turning sixteen is a wonderful time we would love to experience over and over again… well except for Samantha (Molly Ringwald) who painfully waits each agonizing second for the special day to come to an end. This is classic John Hughes: over the top, exaggerated scenarios about the highs and lows of being a teenager. Hughes takes every little nuance of high school life and exaggerates it to the extreme i.e. the nerds are not your average band geeks, instead of harmonicas hanging from their heads they have devices made to detect extra terrestrials (especially female extra terrestrials :). This is vintage John Hughes- just pure fun, admittedly a bit more style than substance, but it’s all good. One of those films, seemingly more apparent before the age of political correctness, where general senses of morality and reality are suspended and replaced with classic comedy. Seriously this is one of the funniest films I have ever seen.

48) Welcome to the Dollhouse (Todd Solondz)- 1996
If you thought Samantha had a rough time because everyone forgot it was her birthday, then you would be in tears for Dawn (Heather Matarazzo) in Welcome to the Dollhouse as she is tortured by her family and fellow middle school students on a daily basis. Solondz presents all of this bedlam in a relatively light tone, since you know the subjects of rape and abduction are such light topics. For fans of savagely dark comedies this is a must see. For further reading, here is my review of WTDH:

47) High Fidelity (Stephen Frears)- 2000
Top Five Reasons Why I Love This Film. 5) The characters, lovable, obsessive, music nerds 4) Dialogue/appreciation for music and what makes music good or bad 3) The music itself/the soundtrack 2) John Cusack’s performance 1) The humor- not in your face, mile a minute jokes, but rather smooth, witty, and often esoteric writing. For more on HF read my review:

46) Gummo (Harmony Korine)- 1997
I could talk about this film for days on end. It simply has that effect on the viewer, whether you find it pleasing or repulsive (perhaps both) you are left with a heavy impression that irritates you worse than that herpes sore on your anus. After seeing this for the first time, I had to tell everyone about it, I still do! Gummo banks on imagery, leaving life lasting images in your mind, probably against your will. Simply put, this flick is a collection of highly memorable scenes, images, and lines. Check out and

45) American Psycho (Mary Harron)- 2000
Ho Ho Ho, look what we have here. If you think you have seen some real sick American Psychos, then check out Christian Bale in this 2000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ controversial novel of the same name. Throw 80s pop hits, dark, dark humor, and merciless killing in a blender and you have a wonderfully bizarre film that entices just as it offends. Here’s a past review-

44) The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shamylan)- 1999
Picture being nine years old in a dark theater watching this horror masterpiece. Yeah, so thank the heavens I merely came close to shitting myself. SS terrified my tender little soul to the point of me hating the movie. Seriously, for years I detested this film because it scared me so much. Which, by the way, few films ever have scared me and rarely am I as affected by a piece of art as I was with this creepy flick. It haunted me for weeks, sleepless weeks! The ghosts represented something more than simply objects that are there to jump out at you; sure they scare us, but Shamylan offers us a far greater psychological trip than a few shocking moments here and there. We question what happens when we die and more importantly why? Being a kid, this was too heavy for me. Of course some folks out there probably eschewed this aspect of the film and merely enjoyed it for its shrills and thrills, which is totally fine. But, for me, even at my young age, I had to reflect on my own life- I’d say SS was the first film to make me think, to challenge me… and yeah scare the shit out of me too! A few years later I watched it again and fell in love with it. Not finding it as disturbing, but all the more intriguing. And anyone that has seen this can never forget the incredible ending- the greatest twist ending in the history of film. Hands down. If I was a little bit older, I am sure I would have gizzed in my pants just like The Lonely Island guys.

43) Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman)- 2005
If there is anything I have ever learned from studying politics and the media it is that every issue is spun from all sides and at the end of the day the issue itself is frivolous what really matters is personal interests. This film is not about whether smoking is good or bad, it is about the industry of spin and how the mechanics of spin can make that decision for you to satisfy their own interests. A great, unique comedy that is a breath of fresh air for a genre built on retarded romance and cliche after cliche. Review:

42) Happiness (Todd Solondz)- 1998
Do you remember that conversation you and your dad had about masturbation? I certainly hope not. But, if you need a gross reminder then toss in this morbid comedy from director Todd Solondz. As usual, Solondz takes the awkward and revels in it, instead of alleviating you from the situation on screen he stays with it until you feel as maladroit as the characters. With disturbing content such as child rape and suicide, amongst others, it must baffle folks when they hear that people think of this as a comedy. Sure, it is not a comedy in the traditonal sense of the word, but it is not a drama. Solondz has removed the entire emotion from this story that there is nothing left to do but laugh, even when the subject matter is anything but funny. This is a grower not a shower as Anthony Fantano would comment, if you do not like or dare I say “get” this then give it a few more views and perhaps you will feel comfortable enough to chuckle or at least appreciate its brilliance.

41) Jaws (Steven Spielberg)- 1975
The Greatest Popcorn Movie of All Time! Seriously, Jaws
emodies entertainment, it serves merely as tool to excite, frighten, and entice you. That is it. No social commentary of any sort, but that is okay here. What this film contains is precisely what most adventure/thriller/horror/action films abolutely lack-tremendous suspense, a massive (figuratively and literally) conflict, well-developed characters, and above all phenomenal score from John Williams, arguably his best. The fact that we cannot see the shark is what scares us the most. What lies beneath the ocean could be anything; our imagination is more horrific than anything a screenwriter could dream up.

40) Fast Times At Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling)- 1982
One of the quintessential Teen Films cinema has to offer. This flick represents everything great about said genre: the fashion styles, the music, everything 80s-almost to the point that this looks like a retrosective film a la Dazed and Confused (1993), but it is not (if you check the year above). It is like a slice of 1980s teen culture in one film. From the start, we see those wonderful shots of all the various characters doing their thing (which usually tells us a little something about the characters themselves) at the local shopping mall to the Go-Gos “We Got the Beat,” this tells us that this is what is cool, these people are cool, this film is cool. As the title suggests this film moves rather quickly in contrast to the slow, layed back pace of Dazed. Just like in real life, it seems as though everything from boyfriends to bongs comes and goes so fast. An enjoyable look at high school and teen life as well as a rare instance of Sean Penn in a comedic role as the immortal stoner Jeff Spicolli. See ya later bud!

39) Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton)- 1990
Tim Burton essentially presents us with the hip, goth version of the Jesus story. He (Edward that is) comes to Earth, offers us gifts and ubiquitous kindness and only asks for love and friendship in return. When we are done using him we cast him aside for not conforming to our standards, eventually driving him out of society. Ahh, but he lives on forever through the beautiful snow he creates; in other words he is always with us even though we do not deserve his love. Okay, so a chirstian take on the film haha. Few films touch me as much as this, even fewer “family” films. Some criticized Edward for not climaxing with the typical, everything works out, wrap up Hollywood style/fairy tale ending, but this what I specifically applaud it for; the movie is much more than the former and deserves an honest ending. It works on various emotions, sometimes funny, always endearing, and overall mesmerizing.

38) The Breakfast Club (John Hughes)- 1985
What else can I say about this movie that you have not thought yourself? Everyone (seemingly) has seen John Hughes’ magnum opus and overwhelmingly adore it. This may be the “greatest teen” film and I think it stands out as one of the finest examples of said genre, but what I really love about BC is how it expands beyond those boundries. Most teen movies stick with teen issues, instead Hughes explores how these five diverse individuals represent the varying differences in class, social status, home life/background, and how this affects their perception of each other. In the end, they all come to agree that they want to be nothing like their parents (even if it is possibly inevitable); out with the old, in with the new.

37) The Terminator (James Cameron)- 1984
As you notice from reading this list, I am not a big fan of action films. I grew up with The Terminator films and I have always loved them. The story is excellent, real simple and to the point. In many ways, it is set up like a horror flick, adding the darker aesthetic to this movie as opposed to its sequels. The Terminator is a mass killing machine with one mission: murder Sarah Conor and he will wipe out anyone that stands in his way. Great set up. Classic story, terrific action executed at just the right times, constantly keeping me invested. By comparison, most smash em up, throw this grenade, blow up that building, action flicks are too stale and uninventive for my taste, but this works and has been a favorite of mine since childhood.

36) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron) 1991
As far as sequels go, this is definitely in the top three. T2, another great flick from my childhood. This changed the special effects game forever, and I am not one to really give two splats of shit about special effects, but you have to acknowledge how cool they were/are and how grounbreaking it was at the time. Bottom line, T-1000 is the most badass villian ever.

35) Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly)- 2001
Donnie has the rare privilege of being one of the few things that makes me mildily interested in the world of science. This film seems to have it all: cult teen flick mashed with bizarre David Lynchy undertones, it’s ominous, entertaining, humorous, and extremely well-written. The dialogue is fresh and sounds very natural. Kelly effectively uses the time period in place (late 1980s) to tell his story, masterfully connecting it to various aspects of pop culture. That is what I love the most about Donnie, but one can also find exceptional fantasy/sci-fi and drama. It is an enigmatic film, no doubt, but you do not have to totally understand it to appreciate it- with most films like this that is not the case and I assure you after repeated viewings you will most likely find it easier to grasp.

34) The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)- 2008
Returing to an earlier film on this list, I pointed toJaws (1975) as the classic “popcorn” movie, if I had to choose a modern film to pass the buttery torch to it would be Gummo (1997). Haha, of course not. Naturally, I am speaking of DK since this is written under its heading. DK is the ultimate super hero/comic book movie with memorable scene after memorable scene. The flow is incredible, you never feel even slightly bored and after watching this movie I always admire how this is a quality we seldom see even in above average films.

33) American Beauty (Sam Mendes)- 1999
I can say with no exaggeration that this is truly a beautiful film, perhaps if it was an hour and a half of a plastic bag blowing in the wind it would be even prettier, but we work with what we have. A great depiction of suburban life in modern America; a close look at one family and how they are, as Kevin Spacey’s character would say, “A commercial for how normal we are when we’re anything but.”

32) Stand By Me (Rob Reiner)- 1986
Everyone’s favorite go camping in the woods to discover the dead body of a twelve year old boy before the rival gang finds it movie! It is funny how for such a lighthearted film the story is a bit gruesome in nature. Thanks to the work of Rob Reiner and the talented young actors in this film instead of macabre we receive a heartfelt quest for one’s self in 1950s America.

31) Kids (Larry Clark)- 1995
Ahh quite the opposite of Stand By Me (1986), these kids are rude, crude and downright vile. If you are looking for a morality play, look elsewhere. Larry Clark brings Harmony Korines screenwriting debut to life in brutal, relentless, an honest look at youth in urban America. There is no character I can relate to, every character is either a total scumbag or associated with total scumbags. Some of the ladies are okay people, but mostly just kids you pitty at best. For most viewers this drives them away, but for me, it makes it all the more fascinating. I love the no holds barred partying, the immature and completely vulgar dialogue (the scene where Telly and Casper are walking down the street discussing Telly’s just minutes earlier sexual experience with a twelve year old girl is one of the finest pieces of dialogue imo), not to mention the gifted camerawork of Larry Clark. Even fifteen years later this will shock most people and rightfully so, in fact, if you are not alarmed by the behavior portrayed in the film then you are far closer to the characters than I would ever desire to be. The soundtrack is exceptional and consists of some of my favorites; the last few moments are chilling, just before we hear Sebadoh’s “Spoiled” with the credits, an apropos tune for the time- Barlow moans “spoiled children soon too fall.” I couldn’t agree more.

30) Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone)- 1994
Good old NBK. This film hit me like a ton of bricks. Sent me flying off my rocker. Drowned me in a sea of blasphemy :), if you will. Upon first viewing at the age of fifteen I was convinced the American Media is totally fucked and as disturbing as this film itself. Which, by the way, this is a trip- a visceral, psychedelic experience. I dig the merciless satire, especially the sitcom/laugh track scene, classic. Violence in the media does not create violent little creatures, but it does make them famous!

29) Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis)- 1994
This list is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to find next! Forrest tells the story of America through its innocent title character, giving us one of the most memorable movies for generations to come. I love catching each and every reference to American history/culture as some of them are funnier than others. I always get a chuckle when Forrest apologizes for “ruining your Black Panther PARTY.”

28) Requiem For A Dream (Darren Aronofsky)- 2000
I think its great that kids see this and think “I’ll never touch heroin.” Fantastic! but this work of art is far more than just a massive Drug Free America ad. Aronofsky uses drugs to illustrate the power of addiction and how it can enhance our insecurities, pushing us as far away from our dreams, our loved ones, and what we know as reality.

27) TIE: American Graffiti (George Lucas)- 1973 and Animal House (John Landis)- 1978
Both are amazing films about young people in 1962, living life to the fullest, before they grow up and forget how to have fun. The Rock and Roll was great, the cars were nice, and the kids were experimenting. AG is the night before college and AH is college itself, unsurprisingly, the latter is the funnier and lighter of the two; AG represents all the fears and insecurties you have when you are young, worried about your future. AH says let’s put that aside for a while and party hardy while we can.

Each is the master of their repsective subgenres; AG is the quintessential teen movie (well, with one exception that we will get to later) and AH is the quintessential college movie, all others are wannabees even if they are decent bees they still do not come close.

26) The Graduate (Mike Nichols)- 1967
Yet, another flick about young people. This film sums up that feeling of being a confused young lad on the brink of the “real world” and wanting nothing more than to sit back, relax, have a beer, and sleep with your parents’ best friend, it’s natural, we all experience it. That is until you discover you really are in love with their daughter. Here is a fabulous example of the generation gap: the parents (WWII stalwarts) and the kids (Post-War Baby Boomers, Rock and Rollers via the fantastic pop psychedelia of Simon and Garunkel). Best work for all involved.

25) Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe)- 2000

24) Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)- 1960
The Master of Suspense at his most masterful. For those who have not seen this or do not know the ending, I envy you. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) is in my top five favorite characters; this mama’s boy means business. By watching this movie we get to see the psychology of the mentally depraved and at the same time we can hav fun with the sheer shrills and thrills that make this the classic that it is.

23) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart)- 1971
I loved the novel, but I needed more. This is one of my favorite adaptations; Stuart simply brings all of Dahl’s terrific imagination to life. Take for example, the final scene: the image of them floating in the air balloon all over the city to the oompa loompa music leaves me with a lasting image and has always given me a powerful feeling of warmth I do not feel very often.

22) The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming and others)- 1939

21) It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra)- 1946
Another film that always puts a smile on my face. Naturally, best around Christmas time, but it goes so far beyond that. This serves as a constant reminder that for most of us life truly is a miracle and tis a hell of a lot better than being dead. As others have pointed out, this film shows us how each and every person greatly affects the lives of those around them. In more recent years I have come to appreciate and admire the chracter of George Bailey (James Stewart) for always sacrificing his own dreams to help out those who are not as privileged as him. At any point, he could have gone off to college or traveled the world like he envisioned as a child, but when his family, friends, and fellow townspeople needed him, he was there. Seldom, do we see this kind of hero represented on the silver screen.

20) A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)- 1971
Clockwork is the film your parents forbid you from watching. That strange British weirdo bizarro Kubrick mess. It is that “fucked up movie you gotta see” as some young people might label it. Sure, it is queer in the traditional sense of the word, certainly horrifying, and yes may make you queasy. But, behind all of the pandemonium there is a serious masterpiece that begs your attention. Clockwork entices us with its lurid content and imagery, which I love by the way, but acts as a satire of broken down society. Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is our juvenile delinquent, but this cat makes James Dean look like an altar boy. Alex tortures, rapes, and even kills- and yet he is just a school boy (15-18). He is a perverse character that we somehow find ourselves attracted to; we are jealous of his social freedom. Ultimately, we realize that the very institutions we trust in preventing such gargoyles as Alex do not really care whether he lashes out or not-one day he is a menace, the next day he is a model citizen, whichever helps said institutions maintain their control over the rest of the populace.

19) Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee)- 1989

18) (500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb)- 2009 and

17) Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant)- 1997
As a whole this is simply a brilliant film that clearly connects with many viewers, but specifically there are a few personal connections for me: 1) Boston- though I am from Wakefield, a suburb of Boston, the familiarity of the setting has always made me feel closer to this film and the characters. Most movies shot in Boston do not have this effect on me, but for whatever reason Gus Van Sant selected all of the right shots. The shot where Will is on the subway and then the camera suddenly flashes to various clips of locations in Boston including Fenway Park is one of my all time favorite shots, for some reason it has always stuck with me. The city is used for more than just a physical setting, but rather a state of mind for Will- what he is comfortable with and as a viewer I share in this comfort- it is all he truly knows of this great, big world. I too have seen very little outside Massachusetts. 2) The music of Elliott Smith- this film would not be the same without Elliott. It is impossible for me not to see images of GWH when I listen to say “Between the Bars” or “Say Yes,” being a massive fan of Smith’s work this has always struck me- his music is not simply there as a sountrack to the film, it flows with it and speaks to the audience, it often conveys what is happening on screen. In “Say Yes,” Smith says “I’m in love with a girl…” as we see Will (Matt Damon) and Skylar (Minnie Driver) share their first kiss. 3) The 90s- for some films, particularly those I watched as a child in the 90s, they remind me of the decade and my early childhood years. I always feel nostalgic whenever I see this.

16) Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson)- 1997
Let us be clear here, this is not a porno. Good, glad we got that. I cannot stand it when people write this off as trash because the subject matter is perceived as sleazy. This country is so prudish it is absurd. Do you hear anyone call The Godfather (1972) a snuff film because it deals with crime and murder, I think not and rightfully so. Well, the same should apply to Boogie. Along, with Goodfellas (1990) this is one of the greatest character(s) studies over a period of time. This film is only literally about the pornography industry. It is really about people, just like you and me, human beings over a period of time, how they rise, fall, and try to stand up again, if they are not already dead. PTA offers us a fascinating look at a wonderful ensemble of colorful characters as they struggle to love themselves for who they are or who they think they are. Throughout the story the characters battle with their self-image versus others’ perception of themselves. In other words, “are we really the people we think we are?” A powerful question all of us have to face at some point in our lives.

15) Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis)- 1985
Do you remember when you were a little kid and there was always that one movie your parents could toss in to get you to shut up? BTTF was that video for me. I have probably seen this movie eighty times, if not more. I am positive you will be hard pressed to find many people that deteste if not simply feel indifferent to this film. Perhaps some artsy fartys autuers fuckers out there, but generally speaking, this film is loved by most folks. It encompasses everything great about adventure movies that sadly most features fail to contain. This film has it all: action, comedy, romance, an original story, memorable characters, quotable lines, and best of all a heart. Not to get to wimpy on you, but seriously, you get the feeling that BTTF is more than just a fun ride. It flawlessly executes all the above and then some, entertainment at its finest.

14) E.T. (Steven Spielberg)- 1982

13) Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)- 1996
When I describe this as a comedy I seem to get quizzical looks. True, it is a dark comedy and quite dark in many scenes, but nonetheless it is undeniably a comedy. Heroin is horrible and the film never depicts it as other wise, but Trainspotting perfectly mixes this disturbing element with UK absurdist humor and a fantastic soundtrack. The characters have flaire and despite how big of arseholes they can be we find that we enjoy spending time with these low life junkies. This film makes you think, laugh, and most definitely cringe.

12) Goodfellas (Martin Scorcesse)- 1990
Goodfellas has the wonderful privilege of being the second greatest mob movie of all time. We’ll get to number one later (seems pretty obvious). Anyway, GF is modern, it abandons the mob/mafia set up we are used to. The soundtrack is modern- Rock and Pop hits, we even hear Sid Vicious’ version of “My Way” over the credits! Modern themes in the crime life- cocaine, like its counterpart Scarface (1983), but I prefer this film when it comes to the gangster lifestyle. We watch Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) grow up and achieve what he perceives as the American Dream- Power. Decadence. He has it all. But, worst of all, he ends up as a regular schmuck, a kid like you and me, if you will- worse than being dead.

11) Taxi Driver (Martin Scorcesse)- 1976
In terms of character driven films you would be hard pressed to find anything close to Taxi Driver. De Niro’s performance as Travis Bickle is frightening. Bickle is all around us and could be us. He is every young man at some point in their lives. Alienated, frustrated, and ready to let go. Only difference… when his short fuse blows he is determined to violently lash out against the society that has betrayed him.


10) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman)- 1975

9) Garden State (Zach Braff)- 2004
Only second to Juno (2007) for my favorite film of the 2000s. Zach Braff makes the film of his career (most likely): fantastic cinemetography, believable characters, and an incredible soundtrack. The music is placed so delicately over every scene, as I am told Braff chose every song himself. Perhaps my favorite is the inclusion of The Shins’ “New Slang,” we hear this as Large (Braff) is transitioning from a character made of stone to a new man feeling emotion once again. The Graduate (1967) of our generation.

8) American History X (Tony Kaye)- 1998
Out of all the films I have seen dealing with racial hatred/ignorance this is by far the most emotional. Our main characters are neo-nazi skinheads and we see how they blindly and desperately become members of such white power gangs to fit into a society that has long abandon them. Despiter their intelligence, they become consumed with so much hatred (and confusion) that they lose sight of what is important- keeping their family together, which is essentially what the characters desire the most. In the end, destroying their family is precisely what occurs. This film is not preachy in any way and like similar films does not focus on minor prejudices that all of us have, rather it depicts the horrible, misguided world simple minded bigotry can lead to.

7) Fight Club (David Fincher)- 1999
The first rule of writing a review about Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of writing a review about Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club. Well, I guess I cannot talk about FC. Y’all just have to check out my Classic Film Review of FC.

6) The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola)- 1972
If this was a list of the Greatest Films of All Time, then The Godfather would have to be number one, hands down. This picture is flawless as everyone knows. There is not much more I can say in a few lines to truly give this epic masterpiece justice; one piece of advive SEE IT if you have not already.

5) Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino)- 1992
Ahh the film that started it all for Mr.Tarantino. Easily one of most badass debuts from a director. Dogs exploded Tarantino into the underground film circuit and made him the cool, hip director we have come to love. I will stop here for now as a review of Dogs is in the works as I write this.

4) Juno (Jason Reitman)- 2007

3) Clerks (Kevin Smith)- 1994
The funniest movie my eyes and ears have had the privilege of witnessing. Clerks is vulgar and raunchy, but it is “smart raunchy.” Smith creates chracters that are witty, well developed, and sometimes downright offensive (in a good way). After all these years this film still retains its unique quality- you simply cannot steal that from this film. The unpolished, poorly edited (appearance wise) look of the film is its precise appeal. No one can say this is just like every other comedy film, just look at the damn thing! It effortlessly has character and with the support of Smith’s knack for brilliant dialogue (basically most of the film) this character is further augmented transforming Clerks into a slacker, Generation X classic. It does not care if you feel unimpressed or shocked, or even bored for you worthless viewers out there that do not “get it.” After about eight or nine years of admiring this movie I still hold it in high regard and can watch it over and over agin- probably 2-3 times a year at the least.

2) Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater)- 1993
“That’s what I love about these High School girls I get older they stay the same age.”- Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey). Nowadays Wooderson would be creepin on Facebook for the High School Hunnies! Dazed captures teen/high school life better than any other film, even American Graffitti (1973), which is a fierce competitor. I often hear fans refer to this as a “stoner” movie. There is some validity to that, but it should never be reduced to Cheech and Chong status. To make an analogy, Dazed is like a gangsta rap who has matured and rhymes about social issues. That rapper still has his gangsta flavor (party/hang out quality) but has mostly grown beyond that. This is a fun, interesting, and certainly thought provoking coming of age film you have to see at some point in your lifetime.

1) Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)- 1994 !!! :)
So here we are at #1. Do I have to explain why this takes the cake? I have yet to see a film as good as PF since its release in 1994. PF redefined the action genre- sure it is a massive pastiche, composed of countless references to various films, TV shows, music, and other areas of pop culture. But, do not be fooled, it perfects the genre like no other film before it. What I love the most about PF is the way the story unfolds before you eyes: at any point one little, just one little teensy detail can alter the remainder of the plot. I.E. Mia’s sudden overdose, Butch and Marcellus fighting their way into a pawn shop, whose propietors are satomasichists that torture them, amongst other things. Tarantino’s baby is a phenomenon we, movie viewing public of the world rarely have the chance to experience; people still discuss PF as if it was just released and I doubt that will ever change.

That’s all folks! Phew

Mini Classic Film Reviews:Born on the Fourth of July…

Full Title: Born On the Fourth of July
Director: Oliver Stone
Year: 1989
Comments: This is one of greatest American stories ever told and one that needs to be heard. I think anyone that is considering joining the military should see this film or read the novel by Ron Kovic, which it is based on. Ronnie is easily one of the most admirable figures in American history. From start to finish he demonstrates immense courage; whether it is his unflinching attitude to immediately volunteer for the Marines, his tremendous bravery on the battlefield in Vietnam, his continuing determination (even after being paralyzed) to fight for his country whilst suffering in a horribly unfunded veterans’ hospital, to his new found awareness of the evil of government and war and his resulting militance as peace/anti-war activist/author/public speaker. I am always inspired by his character, even when I am incredibly frusturated by his ignorance and the way he blindly obeys the call to action to “Stop Communism.” The fact that he was able to stand up and take charge against the system that robbed him of so much (his ability to walk, his ability to reproduce, his faith in humanity, etc.) is remarkable. I love the way director, Oliver Stone, himself a Vietnam Vet, paints this wonderful picture of Americanism and tells the story of twentieth centruy America through Ron’s tale. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it is kind of cheesy and cliched, but it works really well here, like it adds this made for TV movie feel to it that in many ways fits the ridiculous nature of American society as a whole. Kids had watched their fathers and grandfathers fight in “noble” wars and so when Vietnam came about, now it was their time to take up the arms and defend their country. Then they find out it was (and still is) all a lie- everything they were taught was a lie. Long live brave people like Ron Kovic, who can make such 180 turns after being so invested in the opposing side.
Grade: A-

Full Title: Malcolm X
Director: Spike Lee
Year: 1992
Comments: I CHARGE THE WHITE MAN FOR MAKING TOO MANY TERRIBLE MOVIES. I CHARGE THE WHITE MAN FOR BEING THE GREATEST PERVAYOR OF HORRIBLE TELEVISION PROGRAMS, OF BEING THE FAKEST SWINE TO WALK THE EARTH. Thank God, we have Spike Lee, an excellent Black filmmaker, and certainly this is one of his finest films. I would go as far as to say this is the best biopic to grace the silver screen, the model for all other biopics. Like Ron Kovic (except so much more), Malcolm X’s story needs to be heard. I would recommend y’all read The Autobiography of Malcolm as Told to Alex Healey (1965) as seen in the Recommend Reading section of this site before you watch this flick, but if you’re a little whiny bitch and you do not like to read or do not have the time then at least view this exceptional film. Malcolm’s story is the black man’s experience in AmeriKKKa. This is what makes him such a crucial figure, we see him rise through the shadows and darkness and into the light through prison. His militance transformed a whole generation of black people into liberators, truly emancipating themselves from their white oppressors. Now, I in absolutely no way can relate to that, but privileged (white) people, such as myself, can learn many lessons from the Minister’s teachings. He took everything and turned it upside down- whatever the white man said he sliced deep into and ripped out what lay beneath. One can do this with anything; take white man and insert government (though that’s basically the same thing) and peel slowly and see :) Denzel Washington steals the show as the title role and I love the way Lee moves beyond a simple “Malcolm X died on…. He was influential…” instead he provides one of the most heartfelt closers in the history of cinema: we see images of the real Malcolm and how he affected the world from the time of his death till present (then 1992) over Ossie Davis giving him his eulogy (if I am not mistaken). A powerful film for all to see.
Grade : A

Full Title: Walk the Line
Director: James Mangold
Year: 2005
Comments: What else can be said about the Man in Black that hasn’t been said over and over again. This film does a great job of capturing the early Rock and Roll/Sun Records Memphis music scene. Here we see Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. Great performances from Joaquin Phoenix (Johnny Cash) and Reese Witherspoon (June Carter); I appreciate the fact that both of them did their own vocals as well. We see Johnny go through hell and back and at times he is not that wonderful guy we know and love, but that is precisely what makes him who he is. He knows the plight of the worker, the misery of the drug addict, and (to a much lesser extent) the frusturation of the prisoner. He represents and brings out the best in all of us. He is our American Badass- no matter what political, social, relgious group you belong to.
Grade: A/A-