Damn, I only have time to watch movies on weekends part 12: review from the top

  • These are some TV seasons on DVD that I've been watching lately. I decided it might be fun to end five of them at the same time. This endeavor put me well into a new "Damn" list.
  • 1. Mission Hill: The Complete Series (1999-2002) - You will have most likely heard of the next four shows, but for this one, you might be wondering what it is and how the hell I started watching it. I heard about it when I found out it was created by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, two former showrunners for The Simpsons (they produced the show during its 7th and 8th seasons). Basically Oakley and Weinstein realized that on the Simpsons, virtually every character is either an elementary school kid or middle-aged, there's no one who is in high school or in their twenties. So they set out to create a show with those types of characters. Nerdy high school student Kevin moves in with his older brother Andy, who is a slacker in his twenties, a great way to get both the high school storylines and the twentysomething storylines.
  • Mission Hill premiered on the WB in 1999 and was put on hiatus after only two episodes for poor ratings. The WB showed four more episodes in the summer of 2000 but then cancelled the show. Cartoon Network bought the remaining seven episodes, which they aired in 2002. This is a wonderful show, but it's easy to see why it was a commercial failure. Many of the plotlines are too mature for younger people, but I think the visual style might be too cartoony for the 18-35 age range to get into. Worse, the sense of humor tends towards subtle satire and subtle character humor, which commercially is a bad move no matter what age range you're talking about. Indeed, while I love subtle character humor, even I thought the show could have used more jokes. (This is often said of the 7th season of the Simpsons too, that it really nailed the characters and had great storylines but the episodes weren't as funny as seasons 4 through 6.)
  • Nonetheless, this is a highly underrated show. Its fate is a shame.
  • Here's a quote that pretty much sums up the character of Andy French:
  • Andy: My generation played a really mean trick on me. I thought we were all goofing off together. But everybody else snuck out to get rich while I was sleeping.
  • Kevin: Oh, you mean during the nineties? (laughs)
  • Jim: I'm not rich, Andy. I won't be able to exercise my stock options until 2003.
  • Andy: You have stock options?!
  • Jim: Yeah... and some stock.
  • Andy: Gah! I refuse to be the last one left behind on the sinking ship of slackerdom. Where's my portfolio? Let's go get me a job!
  • 2. The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete First Season (1972-1973) - My opinion of this show reveals something that I've realized about myself lately: I can't get into watching older shows on DVD as much as newer shows. I don't know why, but for some reason I don't feel the same way about older shows. When I'm watching Arrested Development or Murder One or 24, I just can't wait to get to the next episode, and as I near the end, I get sad that the set is almost over. For Bob Newhart, though, it feels more like a task, and I can't watch more than a couple episodes in one day. I thought that perhaps it's easier to get through a season with a continuous overall storyline, but this theory isn't all that satisfying; after all, I never have trouble getting through NewsRadio or South Park. I then thought that perhaps today shows are being made for DVD, that Bob Newhart was meant to be enjoyed one episode at a time, with a week's break in between. Perhaps, but Murder One (which was perfect on DVD) was too early to be written for the format. I then thought back to something my film professor told me in freshman year - that each new generation of filmmaking makes things faster- and faster-paced. He had told me about a colleague who showed a clip from a modern movie, and his students had pointed out things in the clip he had never even noticed before because they had slipped by too fast. Of course, if I think older TV shows are too slow-paced, why don't I think the same thing about older movies? The internal debate goes on.
  • Anyway, Bob Newhart is still pretty good. One thing that disappointed me is that it always seems on the verge of going to a place with more bizarre, crazier humor but wants to exert restraint to keep the main characters too grounded. I think it says a lot that my favorite episode by far was Let's Get Away From It Almost, when Bob and Emily go on vacation to see some really weird one-time-only characters. The humor just really worked in this episode so much better than in other episodes, IMHO. Again, though, other episodes are pretty good too. I tend to get a few good laughs out of each one. I like the characters and plotlines, though sometimes the show has a tendency to throw in a climax that includes an overlong, unfunny dramatic conversation. Too much talking to wrap things up is always a bad thing in sitcoms, methinks. With so little dialogue you can say so much, and with so much dialogue you can really bore me.
  • One last theory. It is possible that some of the older shows I've watched don't hit their stride until later on. Maybe I should stop feeling like I need to start with the first season.
  • One of the characters from Let's Get Away From It Almost says...
  • Hal: She's always telling me about how I'm always putting her down. She's so stupid.
  • 3. Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume Two (1938-1958) - There are many things from my childhood I would be embarrassed to revisit, but luckily this box set of 60 cartoons supports nostalgia with pure quality. In truth, the Looney Tunes are true classics that certainly weren't written for kids. I enjoyed rewatching these and listening to all the commentaries that shed light on cartoons I've probably seen a million times each, and it was interesting to think about the different styles of each director now that I actually notice the talent behind each cartoon. I now appreciate the tremendous talent put into each Looney Tune, but most importantly, damn is it funny when the anvil falls on the Coyote's head.
  • The actual selection of cartoons here could have been better, though. The first three discs are dedicated to the cartoons of one character each (Bugs Bunny, Road Runner/Coyote, and Tweety/Sylvester respectively). This of course gives the shaft to other characters, and there are no cartoons here with Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe le Pew, Speedy Gonzalez, Marvin Martian, or Tasmanian Devil, to name a few. Other underrepresented characters include Yosemite Sam (1 cartoon) and Daffy Duck (one of the Warners' best cartoon characters, who only appears in 5 cartoons out of 60, four of which showcase his earlier "hoo hoo!" goofy side rather than his deviously greedy side). On the other hand, overrepresented characters include the lameass Cecil Turtle.
  • In addition, I think putting a lot of Tweety/Sylvester or Roadrunner/Coyote cartoons in a row is a bad move because these cartoons tend to be formulaic. The Roadrunner cartoons, my personal favorites as a kid, were still fun to watch, but I must confess I've never been a big Tweety fan.
  • But, I'm rambling. This set was really fun to watch, both to rediscover the Looney Tunes as individual works of tremendous artistic talent, and to see Bugs outsmart that dumb old Elmer Fudd again. I think I will have to pick up Volume One, though, which I've heard has some more variety in its selections.
  • By the way, this set contains one commentary by June Foray, the voice of various female Looney Tunes characters, including Witch Hazel and also Granny, the sweet old lady who is usually seen as the owner of Tweety and/or Sylvester. She first played Granny in a cartoon in 1943, and she has been playing Granny ever since, in plenty of Looney Tunes, in the "Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries" TV show in the 90s, and most recently in the feature film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. She played this character for 60 years. That must be some kind of record.
  • Junior Bear: I will fill your favorite pipe for you, dear old dad, Pa! (looking through the cabinet) G-U-N-P-O-W-D-E-R. Tobacco. I'm a good speller, I am.
  • 4. Cheers: Season 3 (1984-1985) - Well, these last three TV reviews have been embarrassingly long and rambling, so let's keep this one short. Cheers is of course an older TV show like Bob Newhart, but generally it has enough heart and humor to mitigate that. I loved this season. Well, all except for the part where Nicholas Colasanto died and Coach stopped appearing in episodes. That part really sucked.
  • This part I enjoyed though:
  • Carla: Hey, wait, I got an idea!
  • Diane: You mean you actually conceived something besides a child?
  • 5. South Park: The Complete Seventh Season (2003) - The animation gets better, the unevenness remains the same. This season contains fantastic episodes like Fat Butt and Pancake Head, Red Man's Greed, and Christian Rock Hard. It also contains the incredibly bad episode Butt Out, an anti-antismoking show which is basically one long string of Rob Reiner fat jokes. It also contains a pretty backwards-ass line when the boys are taking a trip through Big Tobacco headquarters, the good guys in the episode. Believe it or not, this line is not meant to be ironic:
  • Kevin Harris (VP of Big Tobacco): Over the next few centuries the tobacco business was so great that many slaves were brought from Africa to help work the fields.
  • Cartman: Which means, if it weren't for tobacco, many of our black friends wouldn't be here today.
  • Yes, that's right, Cartman. If it weren't for tobacco, your black friends' ancestors would never have been enslaved. I am actually kind of amazed that Trey Parker and Matt Stone could write something that stupid. I mean, sure, this season also contains Crab People, but that kind of stupid stuff is always done with tongue in cheek.
  • Getting back to the good stuff, though, it's also great to see that for a show that relies so heavily on mocking politics and pop culture, Matt and Trey can put together an episode like Casa Bonita which doesn't do any of that and still turns out awesome. Of course, when you have a pop-culture-y episode as hilarious as Fat Butt and Pancake Head, why mess with what works?
  • (Native Americans have infected the inhabitants of South Park with SARS, because this was aired in 2003.)
  • Randy Marsh: Stanley, listen to me. I have SARS. There's only a 98% chance that I will live.
  • Stan Marsh: No, dad, no!
  • Randy: Listen, Stan. SARS is destroying our people. The Native Americans put it in the blankets they gave us. Soon there will be only 98% of us left.
  • Stan: What can I do?
  • Randy: You... must find a cure for SARS, son. And save our people.
  • Stan: Cure SARS? Aw, Jesus...
  • Randy: The spirit of middle-class white people is strong in you, son.
  • 6. much of Oldboy (2003) - I saw this movie in a revival theater and spent the first hour or so in excruciating stomach pain, a condition I highly recommend for viewing this film, as it makes the torture scenes all the more agonizing. I made a mad dash for the bathroom during the sex scene, hoping it would be hot but not all that relevant to the plot. I took too long, though, and when I got back, I couldn't really get my bearings in the story. I remained confused up until the penthouse scene, so I have no knowledge of how Dae-su figured anything out. I'll hold off on actually reviewing this film until I can rent the DVD and fill in the gaps.
  • 7. Dawn of the Dead (1978) - I've never been much of a horror film fan. With the millions of dollars being poured into cool effects for crappy horror films these days, it amuses me that two of the horror films I actually do really like are this and the original Night of the Living Dead, both made on shoestring budgets with cheap, cartoony special effects. They're about plot, character, and gruesome creepiness, with an obvious satire of American consumerism thrown in for laughs. I don't think I liked this one quite as much as the first; the first one was a tightly woven story about survival, whereas Dawn at times seems to be more about killing shit, especially in the first 30 minutes. But still, I'm not a horror fan, so the fact that I liked it as much as I did is really saying something.
  • 8. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) - Clearly a film based on the play, the script contains plenty of that theatrical dialogue that sounds great projected from a stage but might not work in a film. Luckily, the four leads are fantastic actors and they actually pull it off very nicely. Mike Nichols helps; he knows this movie is about the actors, and he focuses the camera perfectly to capture the drama. Anyway, it's tough to get what this film is about if you don't know the twist ending, so I was glad I had read the play a few years back. An instant classic.
  • 9. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) - Let's start with that title. What the hell does the "ballad" of Ricky Bobby mean? There aren't any songs or poems about Ricky Bobby in this movie. I just don't get it. If they were looking for a way to work Will Ferrell's character's amusing name into the title, couldn't they have used the less awkward "The Tale of Ricky Bobby" or "The Epic of Ricky Bobby" or even "The Parable of Ricky Bobby"?
  • Now that I've gotten that off my chest... This movie really reinforces my belief that mainstream comedies such as this one should really worship at the foot of a 40-Year-Old Virgin DVD. Talladega Nights isn't nearly as funny or intelligent. It has plenty of good jokes and plenty of bad ones. It's fair. It's overrated. 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, what is that? My guess is critics were hoping for another Anchorman or Dodgeball or 40-Year-Old Virgin, and, not finding one, pretended this was it. Talladega Nights is not as clever as those movies, though if you give it a chance, you'll find some redeeming qualities. It has a habit of taking an unfunny joke and then adding another twist to make it funny. For example, at one point Ricky Bobby stabs a knife in his thigh to prove he's paralyzed. But he's not paralyzed, and his writhing in pain and his friends' attempts to remove the knife were incredibly unfunny. It's not until Michael Clarke Duncan suggests they jam a second knife in there to get the first knife out that I really burst out laughing. IMHO, this is unlike Wedding Crashers, which had some characters who were funny (like Vince Vaughn) and some who weren't (like, oh, everyone else). Every aspect was just inconsistent.
  • Well, except for Ricky Bobby's children, who are pretty much just embarrassingly unfunny throughout.
  • Finally, another thing is that this movie doesn't have much of an emotional component, partially because everyone is just kind of an asshole. Which is fine, there's a place for movies that are just trying to be funny, but if the story has some heart, the movie can always fall back on being sweet when it's not funny enough. Talladega Nights couldn't do that.
  • Bottom line: If you like this sort of movie, Talladega Nights should probably give you some laughs. If you don't, this one certainly isn't the one to change your mind. And by the way, the critics might finally have found 2006's Dodgeball when Borat comes out later this year. I've never really watched the Ali G Show, but I think this looks hee-larious.
  • 10. Naked (1993) - Five things I love about Mike Leigh movies: (1) The brilliant dialogue. (2) The improvised style, so we understand that the brilliant dialogue is a collaborative effort between Leigh and his excellent actors. (3) The way said actors look like real people instead of movie stars. (4) The way said actors along with Leigh create characters who do pretty bad things, but whom we still like and sympathize with in certain ways. (5) The visual style, in some ways polished, in other ways bleak and messy.
  • 11. The Godfather Part II (1974) - The biggest gap in my film viewing is filled, and what can I say? This is a brilliant film that I should have watched much earlier. Whenever I watch long movies I either end up really bored or feel that the movie is going by much more quickly than I expected. This film was probably the most extreme example of the latter I've ever experienced. Every time I checked the time count on the DVD, I was amazed and how much time had passed. It's very easy to get lost in the film. It jumps all over the 20th century in multiple countries and is immensely compelling every step of the way. If there is one tiny thing that bothered me about it, it's that Michael Corleone seems a little too omniscient; there are some things he just somehow knows without needing to figure them out. But to be fair, investigating isn't really what the movie's about, and I'm sure Michael has become an excellent judge of character over the years. At this point I think I liked Part II better than the original, but I might've been too young when I watched the first Godfather movie.
  • Next biggest gap in my film viewing? Tough call. Grand Illusion? Gone With the Wind? Intolerance?
  • 12. Platoon (1986) - To be fair, this ain't my genre, honey. I love plenty of war movies but most of them tend to take place outside the battlefield. Some of my favorite war movies would be Paths of Glory, Bridge on the River Kwai, or Schindler's List, and all these are much less about the combat than Platoon is.
  • Given that, I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's a pretty good movie, but I suspect most of its acclaim comes from the fact that it's a personal statement about Vietnam released shortly after the war had actually ended, when it was still pretty fresh in Americans' minds. Twenty years later, the line "I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves" just cracked me up. Perhaps I'm just jaded. Perhaps I'd like the movie better on another day. Or perhaps I'd like a movie that has more drama and less combat, no matter how heart-wrenching the combat seemed in 1986.
  • 13. Simple Men (1992) - Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Amateur was shot on digital video while Simple Men was shot on film. Perhaps that's all there is to it or perhaps the Simple Men DVD transfer is better, but Simple Men's visuals look a lot better than Amateur's. Not that Amateur's were bad, but Simple Men just looks frickin' amazing. If it's really just the film/video thing, that makes me really sad that it seems like digital will soon become the dominant technology. When film can produce a movie as gorgeous as Simple Men, why fix what isn't broken?
  • On the other hand, Simple Men did not have quite as much of the subtly hilarious, deliciously absurd humor of Amateur, so it's a trade-off. It's still a great movie though, a wonderful character drama that I really enjoyed. Mad props to Martin Donovan once again.
  • 14. Scrubs: The Complete Third Season (2003-2004) - Well, now that it seems the four-camera sitcom (complete with laugh track) is going out like 2D animation, and now that I've become addicted to the disgracefully cancelled Arrested Development, it seems only appropriate that I get hooked on a sitcom in this style that's actually still on the air. Scrubs is not as funny as Arrested Development, but it often comes close, and it's got plenty of heart, great characters, and the occasional fascinating concept (e.g. My Butterfly) to add to its excellence. Now and then the humor misses the mark or gets too silly, but when everything clicks, this show is really hilarious and sweet.
  • By the way, I find it really funny how they gradually made Tara Reid's character Danni more and more like herself as the season went on. She starts off cool, then gradually becomes more drunken, slutty, annoying, and all-around worthless. Very appropriate.
  • Favorite episode? I hate to be so unoriginal, but I'd have to say My Screw Up.
  • Where to go from here? I've heard mixed reviews about other seasons of Scrubs. Some have told me the humor is kinda awkward towards the beginning and the 3rd season is where the show really finds its groove, while some others have told me that after the 3rd season, the show becomes too focused on absurd humor and kinda loses touch with its characters. You out there in Listologyland, what are your thoughts on other seasons of Scrubs? Lemme know what I should pick up next, if anything.
  • Imagine saying this to your girlfriend:
  • J.D.: You wanna play darts?
  • Danni: Sure!
  • J.D: Great. Have fun, I'll be over here.
  • Danni: Do you even enjoy spending time with me?
  • J.D.: "Enjoy" is such a strong word. I... I'm used to it. You know, like cafeteria food, or the constant threat of terrorism.
  • 15. Roman Holiday (1953) - Good old-timey romantic comedy at its finest, and how could you have any doubts given the stars? Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn are a real joy to see light up the streets of Rome. It's a wonderful film that says more with subtlety than most modern films can say with explicitness. William Wyler, a director over-praised by the Academy, is no innovator but works very well here by keeping the focus on the actors, their chemistry, and the romance. A classic!
  • 16. Snakes on a Plane (2006) - Perhaps it's my business education taking over my brain, but I've been much more interested in the marketing strategy of this movie than in actually seeing the movie. The idea of Snakes on a Plane has been such an Internet sensation, mostly based on the sublimely entertaining Samuel L. Jackson, that I thought it would really, really rake in the cash.
  • However, I was wrong. It made a pathetic $15 million at the box office. I heard many people say how excited they were to see it, but I guess that's what you get when most of the people you talk to are college-age computer nerds.
  • I think the film may remain an Internet sensation (it currently has a way-too-high 8.1 on the IMDB), but I've learned my lesson. There are people who would see a film like this because of how random it is and how horrible/entertaining it sounds, but they comprise a fairly small audience that I happen to be a part of. However, they cannot be relied on to bring in the big bucks. Making an intentionally campy movie is not a good marketing strategy in this day and age.
  • As for my actual review, it was a bad but pretty entertaining movie that did pretty much what I expected. To throw everything I've just said into the toilet, it would have probably been more entertaining to me if it were actually more campy. Of course, that might have isolated other viewers even further.
  • It's a shame that we probably won't see a sequel. I was really looking forward to the ideas I heard being tossed around, such as Pigs on a Bus, Ferrets on a Train, Buffalo on a Helicopter, Bats on a Boat, Armadillos on a Dogsled, Snakes in My Pocket, Snakes NOT on a Plane ("I have had it with these motherfuckin' snakes not being on this motherfuckin' plane!"), Snakes on Nathan Lane, and Snakes on Cocaine.
  • 17. House, M.D. - Season One (2004-2005) - It's not many people who make a conscious decision to watch more television, but I decided that TV is (arguably) more artistically interesting than it's ever been, and movies seem to be heading in the opposite direction, so it's time I caught up with the idiot box. I had seen a few episodes of House before and was luckily able to borrow these DVDs from a friend. This is a truly awesome show. I can't possibly imagine how they pitched this to the network. "It's a show about a bunch of sublimely unlikable doctors, and they'll talk about medical mysteries the whole time in terms that 99% of the viewers won't understand. It'll be great!" And yet it's incredibly compelling, partially because I love watching these obnoxious jerks. The episode plots can be formulaic, but I love the formula, and I also love the diversions from it where we get to peer into the stuff the characters are made of, if only sporadically. The acting is uniformly great, except Hugh Laurie who is phenomenal. My only complaint, and it is a very minor one - I could do without the random CGI journeys into the human body. I feel like I'm on the Magic School Bus, for God's sake.
  • Incidentally, I have already bought the second season.
  • 18. Peeping Tom (1960) - Referred to as the British Psycho but not as well known, I think Psycho and Peeping Tom actually have somewhat different goals at hand. Psycho is sensationalistic, raw, and entertaining; its murderer's psychosis is more a twisted plot device than a weighty theme. Peeping Tom is more interested in exploring its murderer's psyche in a serious way, and hence the killer is the protagonist of the film, which allows for more substantive creepiness. I also love that we see the victims' fear but never the "money shot," since that is after all what Mark is obsessed with. A truly fascinating film.
  • 19. The Professional (1994) - I actually loved this movie lot more than I expected to, though still not as much as the IMDB (43rd-best movie of all time? I doubt it). It is one of the smartest and sweetest of its genre, an action film done with style and heart, if with the same disregard for the laws of physics that similar films possess. Ignore that, and focus on the great chemistry between Natalie Portman and Jean Reno in their unconventional relationship that rarely develops the way you would expect a relationship between a hit man and a 12-year-old would. And of course, if there is a villain in your movie, casting Gary Oldman can only make things better. Luc Besson shapes all these elements into a really terrific film.
  • 20. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) (watched again) - I have seen this film three times now, all because the people I was hanging out with wanted to. The first two times, I thought it was pretty good, especially for a teen movie. I hadn't seen it since 10th grade though, and I am now a junior in college. This time around, one of my friends commented about the characters, "Remember when we were younger than these people?" Yeah, I do. I'm past the target age range of this film, which is probably why I didn't like it as much as I used to. Too much fakeness and awkward humor. It's still a somewhat fun movie, and I guess I was surprised to find myself enjoying as much as I still did.
  • 21. The Illusionist (2006) - While not as awesome as Little Miss Sunshine as far as fake indie movies of this summer go, The Illusionist is an, er, magical film that captivates audiences largely with its wonderful performances. Don't get me wrong, sophomore writer/director Neil Burger has put together a very fine script and is great behind the camera, but it's hard to argue with the one-two punch of Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti (the latter playing against type). Add to that cast Jessica Biel, whom I never realized could act this well, and the underrated Rufus Sewell, and you've got yourself a cast that can sell this material even when it verges on the predictable or slight. I think Neil Burger probably had it in him to make a more unconventional film, but as it is, it is a great, highly enjoyable movie.
  • 22. Pulp Fiction (1994) (watched again) - Watched with a friend in order to talk her ear off about my grand theory of this film. You would think I had analyzed this film so much that I wouldn't have noticed anything new, but actually I picked up on something this time that I don't think I've ever noticed before: Butch plans to run away to Knoxville, Tennessee, which is exactly where his great-grandfather originally bought the watch, and when Butch is about to leave Maynard's store, there is a Tennessee license plate on the wall right behind him. So there.
  • 23. The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season (1996-1997) - Most hardcore Simpsons nerds refer to season two through eight as the "classic era" of the show. I would agree with that assessment, though even here we begin to see the show's glory begin to fade. IMHO, this season contains some of the weakest episodes of the classic era, including The Old Man and the Lisa (the episode that turned Burns from a devious megalomaniac into a senile lunatic), My Sister My Sitter (where the Simpson kids journey deep into a growing pit of despair and humiliation, complete with a very phony happy ending), and the overrated, Emmy-winning Homer's Phobia (where Homer makes uncomfortable, offensive, homophobic remarks for twenty minutes before a gay man saves his life in a stupid scene and then Homer decides being gay is okay). The season does, however, contain classic standouts like You Only Move Twice, Bart After Dark, Hurricane Neddy, El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment, and Homer's Enemy. When you get right down to it, you get an uneven but overall pretty great season, one that often experiments more than any season did previously, with mixed success. The humor is sometimes too dark and twisted, and some episodes focus too much on storytelling and not enough on jokes, but overall this box set still contains the episodes that bring the goods.
  • Such as...
  • Homer: (referring to Bart's dog, which has been repossessed) Well, crying isn't gonna bring him back, unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can either sit there crying and eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food to make your dog come back, or you can go out there and find your dog.
  • Bart: You're right! I'll do it! (runs out of the house)
  • Homer: Rats. I almost had him eating dog food!
  • 24. Scrubs: The Complete Second Season (2002-2003) - Parts of season 3 of Scrubs were just plain magical, a superlative that I feel is less appropriate in describing season 2, but few shows can consistently maintain such charm and humor for a whole season, so I'm not really complaining. I have really started to love this show, and this box set certainly satisfied my craving for more bizarre humor and soul-searching with these great characters. I'm not sure which direction I'll go next (i.e., season 1 or season 4), but you can be sure that I'm still interested in seeing more.
  • Especially if there are moments like this...
  • Janitor: I always get this way in the fall, you know. Summer's gone, the days are shorter, it just makes me feel so... what's the word?
  • J.D.: Sad?
  • Janitor: Yes, that's it. I'm a janitor, so I couldn't think of the word "sad." I was going to say it makes me feel so mop.
  • J.D.: Let me explain, I -
  • Janitor: Go ahead, I'm mopping.
  • J.D.: Maybe I shouldn't bother.
  • Janitor: Maybe you mopn't.
  • Disclaimer: The next three reviews are for movies I saw about two months ago, and the two after that are for movies I saw one month ago. Read with the knowledge that some details of these movies have faded from my memory.
  • 25. Gunga Din (1939) - A light-hearted romp through a dangerous war zone, the way this film deals with imminent death in such a carefree way wavered between annoying and strangely charming for me. Luckily, its quaint innocence and total lack of seriousness was pretty cute for the most part. Not a great movie, but a pretty fun one.
  • 26. Sirens (1994) - A young minister and his wife visit a controversial artist to try to convince him to withdraw a particularly blasphemous painting from his show. The minister and the artist have a few brief conversations throughout the movie, but there's never any (1) serious exploration of the subject at hand, (2) reasonable purpose for them to show up or to stay as long as they do, or (3) satisfactory resolution of either male character's goals. All this is really just a clothesline for the wife's path of sexual discovery, which includes some erotic scenes that work well on a visceral level, but still don't create a character arc that makes much sense (the final scene in the train is a painfully lame conclusion). This might've worked if it were more artsy and abstract and gave up the pretension of legitimate character development.
  • 27. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) - I'm not convinced that this film is quite as socially groundbreaking as some have claimed it to be. As hilarious as this film is, it picks on pretty easy targets. Is it really that controversial to expose the sexism of frat boys or the homophobia of West Virginian cowboys?
  • At the same time, I think this film is also underrated in some ways. I love the way the film takes us into a fully-realized version of one man's warped perception of the world. It was interesting and utterly hilarious to discover the way Borat looks at America and all its unfamiliar cultural elements. Sacha Baron Cohen is clearly a terrific actor to maintain this character so well and keep the movie so consistently hilarious. You may scoff, but I think Borat is a wonderful artistic achievement, in part because it's the funniest film to be released in a long while.
  • 28. The Departed (2006) - Martin Scorsese's last two films I respected more than I actually enjoyed, but 2006 sees the release of a new Scorsese film that deserves to be both. I am trying to figure out why it's so much more engaging than Gangs of New York or The Aviator, and I'm not convinced the answer has to do with Scorsese himself. The Departed just features stronger characters, stronger plot developments, and much stronger storytelling all around. As a result, Scorsese has more to work with, and the heights to which he elevates this material are just phenomenal. Regarding The Aviator, I loved Leonardo DiCaprio's performance, I loved the movie's visual style, and I loved a few other elements of the movie, but regarding The Departed, I really and truly loved every single minute of viewing this film. It's just wonderful.
  • 29. Arrested Development: Season 3 (2005-2006) - Season 3 sees Arrested Development really push the limits of weirdness and take meta-referencing to a new level. If the talent had been subpar, this could have really tanked, but damn was I sad when I finished this season. By now the show proved it could do no wrong. It could take ideas that would seem stupid on paper and do them in just the right way to make them hilarious. Some have claimed that Arrested Development died with dignity, that at least it was cancelled before it got bad and tarnished its own legacy. That may be true, but since the final episode was still great, I really would have wanted to see the show stick around until it actually jumped the shark. I wish Fox had let the show squeeze out every last ounce of quality before it met its unfortunate demise. But I guess it was not to be.
  • Tobias: Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over? An analyst and a therapist. The world's first analrapist.
  • Lindsay: Yes, and you were almost arrested for those business cards...
  • 30. Casino Royale (2006) - I'll confess to being not much of a Bond fan; the Bond movies I've seen have included Dr. No, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and the original Casino Royale. Anyway, this film is worlds better than all of those. This year I've been lamenting the state of Hollywood filmmaking quite a bit, but Casino Royale is blockbuster filmmaking at its finest. It's passionate, clever, and thrilling, in a time when most action movies are mechanical, dumb, and boring. It succeeds at actually giving James Bond some depth as well as putting together some really kickass action scenes. It is a little long, and the tone shift around the two-hour mark is pretty jarring, but these are minor complaints. Let's hope the talent that made this movie great sticks around for future installments.
  • 31. The Queen (2006) - I had read lbangs's review of this film already, but watching the movie, I didn't remember what he specifically critcized about it. However, the second I saw that deer, I thought, "Oh right, lbangs said there'd be lame, heavy-handed symbolism." Indeed, once the movie was over, my friends all came to the same assessment: "Great film, but I hated that fucking deer."
  • For the most part, though, this is a terrific film about the complicated clash between the people's love for Princess Diana's public image and the quiet dignity of the British monarchy. Helen Mirren is fantastic, but Michael Sheen (playing Tony Blair) may be just as good in his own way. It's too bad that the movie's called The Queen, that the poster only features Helen Mirren's face, and that the only Lead Acting Oscar buzz I've heard is for Mirren, because this film is just as much about Sheen as Blair.
  • 32. Scarface (1932) - I have a weakness for old-timey, hard-boiled crime drama, and this movie is one of the earliest and best of this genre. You can definitely see how this film influenced later crime movies, but even if you don't see it from a historical perspective, the movie is very enjoyable in its own right. Howard Hawks was always great at creating elements of his own distinctive style within the confines of the American studio system, and here his direction is excellent at elevating the compelling actors and script into a wonderful film.
  • 33. Swing Time (1936) - Lately I've been lamenting the state of the modern-day American musical, so it was nice to take a trip to the 30s when they actually knew how to do it: with a charming, funny plot that is put together to best showcase the talents of the performers, fun music, and kickass dance sequences. If this film isn't regarded as an all-time classic, that's probably for two reasons: (1) some of the music is a little weak and repeats itself a lot, and (2) the blackface sequence dates it quite a lot. But it is what it is: for the most part, an extremely fun movie.
  • 34. A History of Violence (2005) - This is actually my first David Cronenberg movie, and given that I've heard his directing style proves he must be borderline clinically insane, this must be Cronenberg at his most restrained. He directs A History of Violence with a great deal of subtlety, never saying more than what needs to be said, and even so, when the film is finished we certainly don't feel like all the questions have been answered. That's not to say the film is unsatisfying; on the contrary, the character explorations here are fascinating and produce a really terrific movie. It's ironic that this has been called a less weird and more mainstream version of Cronenberg, since the film is almost not weird enough to be mainstream. Early on in the film, I was listening to the dialogue and thinking, "Wow, they're talking like real people talk." How often do you hear THAT in mainstream films?
  • 35. Orpheus (1950) - I loved this movie. I loved watching a Greek myth adapted to the present day, I loved the visual effects that are so simple yet so effective, I loved the dialogue, I loved nearly everything about it. I imagined how this film would be made today on a massive budget and it just depressed me how much modern-day filmmaking would ruin it. The simple charms of this movie are just too effective to be changed. It's a captivating, poetic film, and I will definitely have to check out other works by Cocteau.
  • 36. Amarcord (1973) - Watching this film has helped me understand Roma. This is what Roma would be like if it were, y'know, good. Actually, this is a fabulous film, and that especially means a lot coming from me because I generally don't tend to go for movies that are basically compositions of snapshots characterizing something, with virtually no larger-picture storytelling whatsoever. The fact that I loved Amarcord is a testament to the strength of its images and individual scenes. It's also probably a testament to its humor, both meta and otherwise. It has a charming wit, silly in the ways that most teenagers are silly. If you made a list of the 500 most acclaimed films in the world, I would bet that this is the one with the most flatulence jokes. Well, it'd be up there with Blazing Saddles if that made the cut.
  • I can't say that I felt Amarcord lived up to some of the hype I heard about it, and I can't say that it's my favorite Fellini film, but I can say that I loved it.
  • 37. Shoot the Piano Player (1960) - The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim are both beautiful masterpieces. Truffaut made Shoot the Piano Player in between those two, and it's weird to think of it as coming from the same director and era. About half the film has the same beauty as the other films I mentioned, while the other half is bizarrely hilarious. I suppose that's consistent with French New Wave filmmaking; inspired by conventional genre films, Truffaut decided to turn the gangster film on its ear by giving the title character a depth that he wouldn't otherwise have. In any case, I loved the weirdness and I loved the beauty. Another masterpiece by Truffaut, albeit in a different vein from The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim.
  • 38. Happy Feet (2006) - I've been trying to figure out the big problem with this movie, and my guess is that this movie about tap-dancing penguins takes itself waaay too seriously. The first 45 minutes of this movie (the parts that focus entirely on the emperor penguins) is an attempt at wistful majesty that really comes across as melodramatic crap. I mean, come on guys, it's about a species of penguin that attracts a mate by singing lame, generic pop songs, and one penguin is born who can't sing but can tap dance. All this is done with such weighty self-importance that it made me want to puke. There are like three or four attempts at humor in the first 45 minutes, and all of them are silly jokes at jarring right-angles to the tone of the rest of the movie. Honestly, thank God for Latino stereotypes; once we meet the adelie penguins, who are Latino for some reason, they thankfully inject some much-needed energy and humor just when the film really needs it. Part of that is surely because Robin Williams voices the leader of the pack, and his charisma really helps the film.
  • Of course, this fact just made me dread whenever the film left the adelie penguins and returned to the emperor penguins, because I knew it would get boring and pretentious again, and I was always right. The ending was artistically interesting but again was way too overbearing and self-important for a tap-dancing penguin movie. Honestly, what this movie needed was much less focus on creating well-rendered penguins and much more focus on making the dramatic parts less laughable and the jokes more laughable. A real disappointment.
  • DISCLAIMER: It's a good thing I didn't like Happy Feet, because the cheerleading begins now.
  • 39. The Prestige (2006) - I've seen every full-length film by the great Christopher Nolan, and this one is his most mainstream effort yet. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but pure entertainment films are just harder to truly wow me than ones that are striving for greater heights. Don't get me wrong, of course; there is lots to love about this film. The performances are fantastic, the art direction and costuming look great, and the very clever script is mostly solid. The ending is not entirely satisfying, though; the convenient, cliché means it uses to explain absolutely everything left me thinking that the conclusion could have amounted to so much more. I'm not convinced the explanation itself is totally sound either, but no matter. I thought I had it all figured out about halfway through, but I was dead wrong, and so the twists, turns, and production values amount to a film that is truly engaging, if not quite up to the standards Nolan has set for himself in the past.
  • 40. Babel (2006) - I keep hearing insightful quotations about this brilliant movie, so I fear my review may amount to simple paraphrasing. That having been said, this may be one of the most epic, ambitious independent films ever made. Taking place in four countries and five languages, it's a big film about little people. Little, lonely people. The film explores the ways our nationality-based and language-based differences segregate us as well as the ways our humanity unites us. That all may seem pretty turgid, but González Iñárritu explores these issues in such a mesmerizing way that the film is masterfully realized from beginning to end. The film is very emotional without going overboard on the intensity, and I think the film is all the better for it because it never feels like it's laying it on too thick.
  • There are many little traits I admired about this film. I really liked how instead of jumping quickly from one character to the next at the beginning of the film (as tends to be the custom with films like these), we got lingering looks at each set of characters, giving us more time to get used to and identify with each one. I also liked that the interwoven nature of the characters was not really used as a plot device, but simply as a narrative structure; each of the sets of characters had their own story. Finally, I found it interesting that
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    the Americans are the only ones who seem mostly unscathed once all is said and done. And in the process, they have to walk all over everyone around them. This is subtle though; I think you have to take a couple steps back from the ending to appreciate the anti-Americanism.
  • I haven't even talked about the many intriguing visual elements of the film. You're just going to have to see it for yourself. I don't know anymore what I think is the best film of 2006, but this is probably in the top two.
  • 41. Children of Men (2006) - I am not sure this film has the best story, dialogue, or characters of the movie year, but it is the most visually arresting film I've seen in a while. It's too bad this seems like it won't get much attention from the Academy or its precursors, because this should be winning directing and cinematography awards left and right in an ideal world (I know that would make Scorsese lose Best Director yet again, but in this ideal world, he would have won for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas already, so I make no apologies). The style is a stunning artistic statement, one that really ought to be seen on the big screen. If you can still catch this film in a theater, DO IT. You will rarely see action scenes filmed in such a dramatically gripping way... Not that I mean this review as any slight to the script or acting, because those are really fantastic too. It's a truly wonderful film in every respect, surely one of the best of the year.
  • 42. Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) - I saw movies #41-#45 all in one movie catch-up weekend, and while all the movies we saw were great, this was easily the weakest of the five. In fact, it makes two mistakes that I just praised Babel for avoiding: (1) The script lays it on pretty thick at times, and occasionally ventures towards cloying, manipulative territory, and (2) the film doesn't give us the chance to get to know the characters well enough early on, so for the first 40 minutes or so, we don't identify with them enough to really get involved in what's going on. Additionally, I'm not a big fan of war movies in general, especially ones that spend a great deal of time just showing us combat or tactical scenes. There was, however, much I loved about this film. Paul Haggis's direction of Crash was pretty amateurish, but Clint Eastwood actually makes this stuff work for the most part. Clint, you can tug at my heartstrings any time. He's a good enough director that you only rarely feel manipulated. The film also contains a few really brilliant scenes, but I won't spoil them. It's a film that's definitely worth seeing, but try to catch Babel, Children of Men, Notes on a Scandal, Volver, and Pan's Labyrinth first.
  • By the way, in this movie weekend, we saw Children of Men and Letters From Iwo Jima on the same day. Bad idea. I couldn't tell you how many deaths I witnessed on that day, but it was easily in the triple digits. The number of machine gun bullets I heard on that day was probably in the tens of thousands.
  • 43. Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Cate Blanchett should be jealous. Her performance is terrific here, and in many other films, her performance would be the singular standout, but in Notes on a Scandal she must compete with Judi Dench. Honestly, I am not sure how a classically trained Shakespearean actress like Dame Judi Dench ends up the way she has. Before this film, I had pretty much only seen her play small roles in Shakespeare in Love and Pride and Prejudice. Sure, she's done other things, like play M in James Bond movies, voice M in James Bond video games, show up in The Chronicles of Riddick, and voice characters in Home on the Range and Doogal... well, you get my point. Maybe there really aren't enough lead roles for septuagenarian British actresses these days, but then thank God for this film. It allowed me to finally fall in love with Judi Dench, because God is she a marvel to watch in this movie. She's precise, hilarious, psychopathic, and emotional, and she does it all with a glorious flourish that you just can't take your eyes off of.
  • On top of that, while I saw this movie mainly for those performances, I didn't expect such a great script. It's a really fascinating story, and I'd go more into that, but I must be going. I already wrote this paragraph though:
  • There is one problem with this movie, and that is the Philip Glass score sucks. I'd say 97% of the time, I don't notice a movie's score. Sometimes I notice it because it's iconic (Star Wars, Jaws, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc.). Sometimes I notice it because it actually sticks in my brain, which I think makes it a particularly good score (Brokeback Mountain). But sometimes I notice it because there are a few moments in which it is incredibly inappropriate, which is definitely true of the bizarre crescendos that this score builds to at times. Sure, it was probably only twice that I noticed how inappropriate it was, and it was fine the rest of the time, but since I usually don't notice scores and parts of this score made me notice how bad they were, that just tarnishes the whole score.
  • 44. Volver (2006) - I really wanted to love this film, because it's Almodovar, and it features a great lead performance that's actually getting some awards buzz. I even told myself I really loved the film after I came out of it, but looking back on it now, I didn't. It wouldn't feel right to put this on the same ratings tier as a brilliantly poignant masterpiece like Talk to Her. Volver is a very charming, fun film, with engaging characters and story, but it is just not particularly ambitious. It deals with serious issues and events, but keeps a light tone throughout, which at times seems at jarring odds with the material. And Cruz's subplot with the restaurant seems like a cute diversion at best. Still, there were many things I really loved about this film, such as how
    Spoiler: Highlight to view
    the traditional Spanish magical realism gives way in the end to, well, realism
    , but Pedro Almodovar can do better.
  • 45. Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - From the director of Hellboy and Blade II comes a breathtakingly beautiful film... but you already knew that. Critics can't stop praising it, and it's actually racked up six Oscar nomintaions (more than The Departed or Little Miss Sunshine, for examples). In the midst of it all, I fear the film may be getting ever so slightly overrated. It is certainly one of the best films of the year, but if you go in expected the most fucking brilliant thing ever, you may be disappointed. I absolutely loved it, though. It's a gorgeous, haunting film about one girl's vision of the world, and how real life can be as shockingly surreal as fairy tales at times. A truly wonderful movie.
  • 46. House, M.D. - Season Two (2005-2006) - My love for House continued to grow over the course of watching this second season (and continues as I watch more 3rd-season episodes). Complaints about the formulaic nature of the episodes are irrelevant to me, because I love the formula, and even though I know the first few diagnoses are never right and will just lead to complications but House will eventually figure out the patient's complicated combination of diseases in the end, the new ways this is done enthrall me every time. Longer plot threads like the one with Chi McBride in the first season continue to develop, and these explorations of the characters are uniformly fascinating. When I say I don't watch TV when I'm at college, House is the one exception.
  • And here it is...
  • Wilson: Brilliant idea sending Stacy away. It's really done wonders for you.
  • House: Listen, none of this has anything to do with Stacy.
  • Dr. Wilson: Right. Giant coincidence you've gone completely off the rails since she left. Inducing migraines, worsening leg pain...
  • (House smacks Wilson's leg with his cane.)
  • House: Aw, you miss Stacy too?
  • 47. The Last King of Scotland (2006) - Going into this movie knowing very little about Idi Amin as a person, with only the impression that he was some psychopathic dictator in Africa, I was surprised to see the light, charming side of Amin portrayed in the early stages of this film. The movie's portrayal of this character is multi-dimensional at all times, constantly reminding us that, no matter how much genocide they commit, dictators are rarely just irrational maniacs - they can still charm the masses, can still start off with good intentions, and can still have hopes and fears. The shy Forest Whitaker we saw give acceptance speeches as he swept all the lead acting awards has such a commanding presence here in this layered, compelling performance... and maybe that's why he was billed as a lead actor despite the fact that James McAvoy is the very obvious protagonist. It's a cool movie, with great direction and writing, but aside from Whitaker's performance, not enough really makes it stand out as special. Not many people saw it, and not many will, which is a shame because it really is a great film.
  • In the interest of catching up, I'm going to limit my thoughts about the following movies unless I'm particularly inspired:
  • 48. 24: Season 5 (2006) - Excellent television as I expect from 24, and one of the best seasons of the show (probably second place, as I still think I love season 2 the most).
  • 49. Gladiator (2000) - I actually liked this way more than I expected. For me it was pretty affecting, although some of the slow motion/fast motion in the action sequences seemed irritating and trite.
  • 50. The Sound of Music (1965) - A very iconic movie that I've never actually seen. I had, however, heard the vast majority of the songs without ever having seen the film. Stunning visuals pretty much throughout. Though today it seems like it would appeal more to women and children, I couldn't help enjoying it.
  • 51. Scrubs: Season 4 (2004-2005) - Still enjoyable, but definitely weaker than seasons 2 and 3. The humor has become more hit or miss, and some of the plotlines mess with the characters too much. There are times when Dr. Cox veers away from "lovable, intelligent misanthrope who likes to teach people by fucking with their heads" and towards "sadistic lunatic." I can't say I like everything that happens with the Janitor this season either. It's still a good show though, if the 4th season doesn't exactly pack the punch of the 3rd season either humorously or emotionally.
  • 51. Wizard People, Dear Reader (2004) - This is a ridiculous narration recorded over the first Harry Potter movie. It's very strange, and the sense of humor might not appeal to everyone, but I found it hilarious. Here's a sample.
  • 52. NewsRadio: The Complete Fourth Season (1997-1998) - Great as usual.
  • 53. Animaniacs: Volume One (1993) - Recapturing my childhood once again. This show is not quite as magical as it used to be for me (the constant singing began to wear on me, because while some songs are terrific, there are some that sound like the writers just threw something together in a minute or so; also, some characters with repetitive storylines have begun to bore me, such as Chicken Boo and Mindy and Buttons - which also suffer from having very little dialogue) but I still really enjoyed watching these DVDs and would be likely to pick up future volumes. I'm still amazed that they actually put together a good, successful kids' show based on characters ranging from Groucho Marx to Ringo Starr to the Goodfellas to Rain Man. There were a few pop culture references and dirtier jokes that I didn't get as a kid but loved now. One example that encompasses both:
  • Yakko: (as a detective) Search for prints!
  • Dot: (with pop artist Prince in her arms) Found him!
  • Yakko: No, FINGERprints!
  • (Prince raises his eyebrows suggestively.)
  • Dot: I don't think so.
  • (She tosses him out the window.)
  • 54. Zodiac (2007) - This movie finds David Fincher veering away from the shocks, surprises, and plot twists that he's been known for and moving towards more realistic storytelling. Meanwhile, Fincher's other films have grossed much more than Zodiac, and on smaller budgets. Audiences love plot twists. Hell, I love plot twists. But I did love this movie too. It's masterful filmmaking, weaving a gripping but methodical depiction of an investigation that I found fascinating but that might disappoint those hoping for shock after shock.
  • 55. The Late Shift (1996) - I actually watched this on the last day of my Negotiations class. While this does tell an interesting story I didn't really know much about, you can really tell it's a TV-movie. The script and acting aren't great, especially on the Jay Leno side. I somehow think Jay Leno isn't really as whiny and sycophantic as he's portrayed in this movie, and I know his voice isn't as annoying as it is in this film. I furthermore doubt that his agent is the bitchy cartoon character she's portrayed as in this film. The David Letterman side is better; Letterman is a cool character, and Treat Williams as superagent Michael Ovitz is a delight to watch. As it is, it's a nice enough diversion if you can stomach Jay Leno's screechy voice.
  • 56. Knocked Up (2006) - Technically a 2006 release due to its premiere at the, uh, Austin Butt-Numb-a-Thon, this comedy from the creator of The 40-Year-Old Virgin is actually going to be in wide release later this year. I caught a pre-screening on April 19th. I think this film is set to become the comedy of the summer. I loved Judd Apatow's style of writing and directing dialogue in 40-Year-Old Virgin and am happy to report that that is pretty consistent in Knocked Up. Knocked Up is not as good as 40-Year-Old Virgin, however; while I loved the team of four friends in Virgin, Seth Rogen's friends in Knocked Up were often more irritating than funny. Also, while Seth Rogen does make a surprisingly great lead, I still preferred Steve Carrell (though not by a huge margin). Knocked Up, however, is still a hilarious film with a solid emotional core, and I would highly recommend it.
  • 57. Singin' in the Rain (1952) (watched again) - This is my second time seeing this film. While I loved it just as much as the first time, I didn't remember that really long story-through-dance sequence towards the end of the film. It's very well done, but it does interrupt the flow of the end of the movie, and I think the placement of it causes the movie to suffer a bit. Ah, well, every masterpiece has its flaw.
  • 58. My Man Godfrey (1936) (watched again) - I watched this with two other college students, and we were all laughing throughout, which caused me to marvel at how screwball comedies like this can still entertain 70 years later. To be fair, I knew my audience, other friends of mine may not have enjoyed the film, but it would be their loss. This is a wonderful movie.
  • 59. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) - A surprisingly strange movie that alternates between cheesy melodrama and darker, more subversive, more intelligent content. Luckily the focus is on the latter.
  • 60. Los Olvidados (1950) - Bunuel directs a realistic, intense depiction of street life in Mexico. I miss Bunuel's surrealism, but this is still a terrific film.
  • 61. Frankenstein (1931) - Believe it or not, I had never seen this classic horror film before. It's so iconic that I probably can't appreciate it fully today, but I still enjoyed it.
  • 62. Grindhouse (2007) - I must confess that I found this movie not bad but very disappointing. Planet Terror was pretty much what I expected, an entertaining if extremely disgusting zombie film. It was Death Proof that really let me down, though perhaps my expectations were too high. Tarantino has a unique style of writing and directing dialogue, and this film is the only time that his style stood out awkwardly, IMHO. The dialogue scenes felt very self-conscious when in the past Tarantino created atmosphere through dialogue so effortlessly. Furthermore, it was hard to care about the characters because for all the time spent developing them, their traits barely mattered once the action started. This, I feel, was in sharp contrast to the diner scene in Reservoir Dogs, which really let us see who those people were and spoke to how they behaved later on in the movie. The Death Proof action scenes were fine, but not interesting enough to save the awkward dialogue and empty character development.
  • I dunno, maybe I just don't get the nostalgic feeling that I think Tarantino and Rodriguez were trying to create here because I was never old enough to see the B-movie thrillers that this film pays homage to. I thought both "missing reel" jokes were pretty hackneyed. I did think the fake trailers were pretty funny, though.
  • 63. Hot Fuzz (2007) - Not quite the silly spoof the trailer makes it look like, this film is actually rather dark and disturbing at times. I'm not complaining, mind you. Once again we find Mr. Wright and Mr. Pegg playing with genre conventions, taking action movie cliches and putting new twists on them, like what Shaun of the Dead does for horror film cliches. I actually think I liked this better than Shaun of the Dead, probably because I've seen way more action movies than zombie movies. I had a great time at both films, though, and can't wait to see what genre these guys take on next.
  • 64. Rififi (1955) - Damn, the French make heavy heist movies. This is no Ocean's 11. Rififi has a lot less wise-cracking, a lot more skull-cracking, and about equal amounts of safe-cracking. It all amounts to a fairly badass movie, although it is one of the more sexist films I've seen.
Author Comments: 

Comments are always welcome, always have been, and always will be.


A ballad, in this century and nation, has a particularly folksy, rural, sentimental, simple-minded connotation among synonyms for narrative, and thus fits what the film supposes is a sport for folksy, rural, sentimental simpletons. Ballad's two syllables also make for a better rhythm between two one-syllable words and before two two-syllable words, and has a leg up on epic for alliterating with Bobby. I think the word is a fine choice.

When did ballad become a synonym for narrative? I must be behind the times. I thought it still had to refer to a song or poem.

Oops, I misspoke. I meant that ballad is a type of narrative. So, Talladega Nights is a "ballad" of Ricky Bobby just like The Big Red One is the "swan song of B-movie writer/director Sam Fuller", etc. I think it's a fine title.

Godfather II: Welcome to the table. We will now begin to take your opinions seriously. :)

That's a good outline of what rules about Leigh.

You're gonna let us know how Idiocracy compares to the draft you read, right?

Sure, assuming I see it. Actually I may see it no matter what the reviews are like, because I think it'll be interesting to compare the finished product to the early draft as I imagined it.

Man, whatever happened with Idiocracy? I don't recall seeing a single advertisement for it, nor do I remember it ever being in a movie theater anywhere near me. Now it's coming out on DVD in early January. Why did the studios force this film to commit suicide? It couldn't have been that bad a flop; surely the names Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, and Mike Judge would have attracted audiences, and the reviews are decent for a stupid comedy. I was probably going to see it, but it had vanished before I got the chance to.

Idiocracy got very strange treatment because of a falling out Mike Judge had with FOX. They pulled its budget and only showed it in enough theatres to fulfill contract. It's a very uneven movie...there were some really brilliant moments (the scene in the hospital, "Ow, My Balls!", and President Camacho) but I think the movie was pretty much unfinished and Maya Rudolph's character was annoying and basically unnecessary. It gives Joe someone to talk to, I guess, but the movie would work better without her.

Nice to see you enjoyed Hot Fuzz - it's my favorite comedy of the decade. Different groups of friends all wanted to see it, and I ended up seeing it in the theatre 3 times, which is strange because I had enver seen a movie more than once in the theatre before. This one just gets better every time. If you watched their sitcom Spaced, you'd notice one thing that stands out, the direction (done by Edgar Wright) is excellent. I was really impressed with Hot Fuzz...it was shot like a thrilling action movie, and for the most part played like one (the last 15 minutes were priceless!), but there were a lot of great jokes, almost none of which were simple punchline ones. I could barely go thirty seconds without laughing at something here, but out of context, the dialogue doesn't seem too great. I just love the concept of the movie, it's a great satire of a genre that really needed it. I love how Danny was always asking Nicholas if he's ever jumped through the air and fired away or pulled his gun away from someone, yelled "AHHHHHH!" and emptied the clip into the air as in Point Break. And you know SOMEHOW that before the movie's through, one of the two would do those very things. Hell, the movie is even self-conscious of it's campiness at times (the last scene in the grocery store when they're bragging over the corny lines they use when dispelling their enemies..."I threw him in the freezer and told him to chill out!") I can't wait to see what these guys do next either...the team of Pegg, Wright, and Frost are all fantastic, and their approach to comedy strikes me as being so much more sincere than the types of movies you always see being released these days. I highly recommend it!

Interesting... I hadn't realized there were creative differences over Idiocracy.

Yeah, Hot Fuzz was pretty terrific, and I too eagerly await what Pegg/Wright/Frost come up with next!

think i could lend a hand in deciding which scrubs season to watch next. If you prefer the whacy, insane, cartoonesque style of scrubs, then season 4 has it at the bucketful ! where season one is for the viewer who enojys the more subtle side of scrubs. hope i helped.

But... but... I love the balance! I love how it combines subtle character humor with wacky insanity! I don't want to pick one or the other!

then my friend i suggest you buy two tvs, two dvd players and watch both at same time !! it may reveal the meaning of life ;) :)

Not a bad idea...

He lives!

...and he's already started racking up the "Review coming soon"s again!

Well, at least I have time to watch movies again now that I'm on break. What a busy semester it was...

You know I'm on the edge of my seat for reviews 39-42... :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Wait, wait. It gets better.

No kidding. The apples just grew brighter, but a brother is still waitin' on a bite! :)

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs


Thanks for the reviews; I always love reading your thoughts on art!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I'm still reading, I'm still loving.

I had to walk out of The Lookout for reasons unrelated to the film, so I'll be especially interested to see if it merits a rental!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs