IanTheCool's Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Aug
19

Today’s post is my 500th post, and to celebrate that it seems fitting to wrap up my current Top 100 Movies list.  These ten films are the ones which I often consider my all-time favourites.  Many of them hold a lot of nostalgic value for me placing them so high up on the list as my personal favourites.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Making this list has been a long process but its been a lot of fun to make it and share it with you.  Enjoy the top ten!

 

10. Apocalypse Now
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After a lot of jostling with Platoon and Saving Private Ryan I came to accept Apoc Now as the greatest of all war films.  It feels very artistic without being pretentious.  The cinematography is outstanding and the production and sound design all gives this haunting, eerie atmosphere with is very unique to this movie alone.  Its full of great moments, great narration, and is an overall great exploration on the madness and absurdity of war.

 

9. Dr. Strangelove

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Damn I love Dr. Strangelove.  Its hilarious, but hilarious in a way that’s all its own.  It has  dry humour that you can sit back and smirk at, but I’ll often also find myself laughing uproariously as well.  Pretty much all of Mandrake’s reactions to the bat crazy Ripper usually does that for me, as does George C. Scott’s over-the-top performance.  Of course there’s the classic phone call, bomb ride, and war room brawl.  and Dr. Strangelove’s speech at the end just unravels into this brilliantly absurd ending.

 

8. The Lord of the Ring: The Fellowship of the Ring

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When I first saw Fellowship, as a fan of the books I was amazingly impressed to see Middle Earth spring to life.  There is so much to admire here; the sets and production felt real and grounded, despite being set in a mythical kingdom.  The characters had weight to them, and the themes of courage, duty, and loyalty which are so important to the books were strong.  There were amazing creatures and set pieces, like the Black Riders, the battle with the Balrog, and sailing past the Argonath statues.  Fellowship was filled with wonder and amazement, just like a film like this should.  Its an epic movie watching experience which will not soon be forgotten.

 

7. The Godfather

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If there was to be one “perfect” movie it would be hard to argue against The Godfather being that movie.  There really isn’t a misstep here.  Direction, acting, story, dialogue, pacing, music, cinematography; its all of the highest quality.  Its just such an amazing film and so easy to get wrapped up in the lives of these characters.  There are some outstanding scenes here, like Micheal’s first kill.  But mostly its the family dynamics between the characters that I love the most.

 

6. Jaws

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I really can’t describe why Jaws is so good.  It just is.  It feels like one of those movies with an indefinable quality, one which is entirely unique to itself and no other movie will ever look or feel quite the same.  Jaws is so insanely memorable that I will just think about random scenes, like Quint making is offer to kill the shark, and I instantly get the urge to watch it again.  I just love this movie.  It evolves and changes as the story goes on and by the end its felt like such a satisfying ride.

 

5. Casablanca

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Casablanca is about as classic as classic films get, but in this case its reputation as one of the greatest movies ever made it bang on.  Its just so enjoyable that I fell in love with it on my first viewing many years ago, and keep falling in love with it again every other time I see it.  The characters are so watchable and the locations feel very comfortable and welcoming, as though you yourself are a regular patron at Rick’s.  The story is engaging and the dialogue, well… I mean, this is far and away one of the most quotable movies ever.  Casablanca is true movie magic.

 

4. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial

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This is a movie going way back into my childhood, one which holds up brilliantly and still manages to maintain the wonder it had 30 years ago.  The relationship between Elliot and ET is the core of this story, culminating into one very emotional end scene.  Spielberg’s signature film has many scenes of comedy, majesty, and a hint of tragedy.  The scene where they find ET dying near the river wrecked me as a kid.  This movie has held a lot of power with me for the last thirty or so years, and I can’t imagine that power wearing off any time soon.

 

3. Jurassic Park

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Jurassic Park feels like  it was made just for me.  Obviously that’s ludicrous but there’s probably a lot of people who feel the same way.  This was a massive movie event when it was released in 1993 and remains my most memorable theater-going experience when my dad first took me.  This movie really did feel like dinosaurs coming to life.  The T-rex scene still gives be chills.  I think that what really makes this movie great is that they don’t bypass the amazement of dinosaurs being brought to life for the action and suspense scenes.  The whole experience is there, and its a great one.

 

2. Star Wars

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Yeah, I’m getting pretty geeky at the end of my list, but I did warn you all about that.  Anyways, I am a massive Star Wars fan and every time I rewatch this film I’m reminded of the power that this story has.  Its a classic, myth–like tale really, wrapped up in one of the most interesting universe’s the movies have ever developed.  Star Wars changed the movies forever and had a personal effect on the imagination of kids everywhere, myself definitely included.  I don’t really know what else to say.  I mean, its Star Wars.

I will mention that I really struggled with my #1 and #2 and which should be where.  They really are interchangeable, but I am giving the slight edge to my number #1, a movie every closely related to Star Wars…

 

1. The Empire Strikes Back

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Its easy to think of the Star Wars trilogy as my favourite films of all time, and they have always been associated as such.  But when I made this list, I revisited the question, okay but which one of those is my favourite.  After much debate I landed with Empire.  The first film has a lot of power in how complete of a story it feels and with how successfully it built the world.  Empire however really took it to a new level.  The stakes felt ore personal, the drama was deeper, and the overall look of the picture was much richer.  Not to mention that it contains tons of my favourite movie moments; the Hoth snow battle, almost any scene with Yoda, the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid field, and of course the final showdown between Luke and Vader.  Therefore, I am declaring The Empire Strikes Back as my favourite film.

Conclusion

So there it is,  my top 100 movie list.  I know it gets really geeky at the top, but that’s because that is me.  I feel that my top ten is a very good indicator of the type of movie fan I am, from my past to my present.

I am ending this list on my 500th post, which is  nice round number.  As such, I am letting you all know that I feel this is a good place for me to take a break from my blog for a while.  Life gets busier and busier and while I love writing for the blog, the payoff of doing so has felt like its diminished.  I have been lacking the time and energy to participate in the blogging community as much as I once did, as much a I would like to.  I am not gong to say that I am finished with the blog.  I am still open to the possibility of coming back to it if I miss it too much or really feel like I have something to say.  But for now, I am certainly taking a hiatus.  And so for now, thank you to all my readers and take care!

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Aug
16

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I know I’m not alone here, especially among movie fan circles, but Roger Ebert is someone who had a big influence on my love and appreciation of movies. He is a critic whose reviews I usually go out of my way to watch or, later on, read. He was one of the few celebrities whose deaths I felt. So of course I was interested on a documentary revolving around him.

Ironically, while watching a documentary about a man who pushed for viewing films within the context that they were made, I couldn’t help but think about what I personally wanted from this documentary. Life Itself tells the tale of how Ebert shone early in his reporting career and pretty much told the story of his life. Some parts were interesting, others pretty cliche. But from the point of view of a movie fan, there wasn’t nearly enough about his views on films and film criticism, which to be blunt is really what I wanted to see.

But honestly there’s not a lot of film stuff in the movie. There’s some, which is good when its on.  I liked the section which highlights how Ebert supported smaller films. I also liked getting a better glimpse into his relationship with Gene Siskel. And while what happened to him was quite tragic, how a man who was known for his voice on film suddenly lost his voice, I think they spent a little too much time in the hospital focusing on his downfall.

I’ll be honest, I’m not even close to being an expert on documentaries and I really haven’t figured out how to view and review them yet. I guess I just focus on whether or not I find the subject matter interesting enough. And based on that I’m not going to praise this documentary, but I did like many parts of it. I just wish it went deeper into his philosophy on film. But it definitely does succeed in capturing who Ebert was and his importance in many people’s lives.
7/10

Aug
15

Sergio Leone looooves his music. And its very important to his style of film-making. He is an expert in drawing out tension from scenes and hitting just the right amount of importance for certain moments with the right notes of music. Once Upon a Time in the West has a lot of that, which makes for some very atmospheric scenes, but they also drag the movie on to a running time well past what the story dictates. I mean, it takes up 40 minutes just for character introductions! But I get it.

The story follows a newlywed woman Jill who returns to her husbands homestead to find him murdered. I was confused because from the previous scenes I thought this man was already wed with a kid. Whatever. The point it that there is a whole conspiracy around the killing which has to do with property around the railway.

Aside from Jill we get three other main characters; Frank played by Henry Fonda, Cheyanne played by Jason Robards, and the other guy played by Charles Bronson. They are all distinct and very enjoyable characters played by very watchable actors. I liked the Cheyanne character the best myself.

Despite its laborious start, I ended up really growing into this movie. There’s some great scenes on the train and a cool shootout in the town as well as some just great conversation pieces between the characters. It also looked great, like a typical western with with a little more style and finesse to everything.
Damn, that harmonica was annoying though.

8/10

Aug
13

About the list

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

20. Braveheart
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I’ve mentioned a few times on this list that I love historical dramas, and Braveheart is one of my favourites in this regard.  It looks great, the story is accessible and heartfelt, and it can really be a  thrill rush.  There’s a great mix of castle intrigue and great battle action.  It draws me right in from the very first note of score.

 

19. Wall*E

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WallE took me by surprise with just how much I would end up falling in love with it.  This is the best film from an animation studio known for putting out great films.  WallE is simplistic, touching, and poignant.   WallE and Eve are very cute characters, and we really come to love WallE in the first half of the movie where he;s pretty much alone on Earth.  The animation here is visually striking, both the gritty Earth scenes and the iPod-like spaceship scenes.  But its more than just a great look, cute movie.  It deals with themes like lethargy and environmentalism, and even deeper the primal core of the human spirit.

 

18. The Matrix

 

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In 1999, I expected The Matrix to suck.  Boy was I wrong.  Walking out of that theater I was blown away not just by the visuals but mostly the ideas.  The twist that comes in the middle of the film completely took me by surprise, and from then on it was a roller coaster ride.   The Matrix was a defining movie of its time.  The cinematography was carefully and meticulously crafted, visual effects and sound of the action scenes were mind-blowing, and the tone and atmosphere matched the deep themes of reality and existentialism.

 

17. North By Northwest

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Hitchcock’s most entertaining, most thrilling film.  North By Northwest tells his usual mistaken identity story but does so to perfection.  Cary Grant plays the lead this time and his charisma is a large part of the success of this film.  We great some great scenes of suspense like the famous crop duster scene, the chalet,, and the auction.  Hitchcock even goes grandiose by having the finale set on Mount Rushmore!  Hitch’s best.

 

16. Planet of the Apes

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Don’t be fooled; Planet of the Apes is much more than a bunch of people in monkey masks and Charleton Heston chewing scenery.  Its a brilliant analogy of how society works, at discrimination, and at the nature of human beings.  It truly is great science fiction.  I love the scenes in the courtroom and, well, pretty much any time Dr. Zaius is arguing something.  And that ending is the best twist ending of all time.  It says so much in a single frame.

 

15. Return of the Jedi

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Many will agree that Return of the Jedi is the lesser of the Star Wars trilogy, but that doesn’t mean its still not an awesome movie.  I think people get a little too blinded by the Ewoks, but there are a ton of other parts that more than make up for their incessant cuteness.  The beginning of Jabba’s palace is great adventure, the space battle at Endor is an incredible rush of sight and sound, and the final showdown between Luke and Vader in the Emperor’s throne room provides us with a very satisfying conclusion.

 

14. Alien

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I think I’ve said time and again and creating just the right atmosphere plays a big part in a film’s success.  And Alien has a very unique atmosphere.  Its dripping in dark, moody tone.  And it has a visual production style all its own.  Not to mention its just a great, simple thriller at its core.  Alien is a straightforward monster movie when it comes down to it, but there is so much surrounding that essential core that makes it the master film it is today. The crew feels like they are real regular people, the alien ship they discover is incredibly creepy, and the horror p=bets are right on the money.

 

13. Schindler’s List

schindlerslist72

 

Steven Spielberg’s prestige film shows just how brilliant of a filmmaker he can be.  His brilliance here is not only how well he portrays the horror and despair of the Holocaust, but how he is able to do so by also making a very watchable film.  He injects characters that are both easy to care about and easy to loath along with a story that shows a small glimmer of hope, and even has some humour thrown in now and again (but not the obvious broad strokes).  This is a beautiful and touching film which is hard to watch, but not as hard as you may think.

 

12. Lawrence of Arabia

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Film epics don’t get any bigger than this.  honestly, David Lean’s masterpiece work of filmmaking just blows me away.  It feels so real, because it is.  It feels authentic because it is.  Every grain of sand on that beautiful 70mm film is the real thing.  This movie is just gorgeous, almost every frame in that dessert is stunning.  Just the grand scope of the picture is enough to get your heart racing.  Think of when Lawrence is walking on top of the train, or when they finally reach the Suez canal, or when we cut to the first Arabian sun.  And underneath it all is a brilliant character study of this man who believes himself to be truly great and a lifetime performance by Peter O’Toole.

 

11. Raiders of the Lost Ark

raiders-9

 

Adventure thy name is Indiana Jones.  Raiders of the Lost Ark has pretty much become the template of exotic, thrilling exploits.  It has become so iconic, you wonder if the film can actually live up to its reputation.  Yet it does every time.  There’s just something so pure about its spirit and goals that makes every minute of it work.  And Indy himself is such an excellent character that you love to spend time with and cheer for.  Not to mention it probably has the greatest of all movie opening scenes.

Aug
10

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Nebraska is the third film of Alexander Payne that I’ve seen.  The first was Sideways which is an enjoyable film which really focused on having realistic, flawed characters.  And while I liked Sideways well enough, I really loved The Descendants which felt very genuine and grounded in a certain realism, while also being immensely watchable.  Now that I’ve seen Nebraska, I can confidently declare that Payne is one of the best directors working today.

Nebraska is a story about looking back at your life as you get older.  Its a subtle theme despite being omnipresent in the film because its dealt with in a very non-cliche way.  There’s no grand speeches about coming face to face with your past, just small looks or a few sentences now and then to help you understand what Woody is going through just a little bit.

This movie feels very authentic in its core family dynamics.  Woody, David and the rest feel like they are real people going through this small period of drama in their lives.  That’s what makes Payne as great as he is.  He is able to just tell a story very simply but can pull you in to it so intimately.  And Nebraska certainly does that.  You get absurdist conversations between this aging family about things like what cars people drives, and they are both funny and say something about the characters.

And speaking of funny, this movie had me laugh a lot.  Any conversations between Woody and his wife and children usually had me in hysterics, and the air compressor scene made it difficult for me to stop.  June Squib was hilarious as the bitchy wife who spoke very harshly but plainly.  Will Forte played it pretty straight was sank right into his character. However Bruce Dern was the show stealer, and likely should have won the Oscar last year.  His Woody was a quiet character, but when he did speak it was so clever in just how much he felt like an old man any one of us may know.

I am very happy I watched this film.  Its brilliant. 9/10

Aug
07

About the list

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

30. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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This may be the straight-up funniest movie I’ve ever seen.  Its clever and stupid all in the same breath.  They clank coconuts instead of riding horses, argue about the speed of swallows, and say “Ni” a lot.  Its just absurdist comedy at its best.  Immensely quotable (to the point of annoyance, aye), but there is also humour with visual gags and even just the overall tone. So logically, because this movie weighs the same as a duck, it gets number 30 on the list.

 

29. Children of Men
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There are a lot of movies set in the “not so distant” future, where a particular concept about why that future is unique  is developed then explored.  But Children of Men is the pinnacle of these types of movies and has set the bar which all others are to be measured.  In this future where humans can no longer reproduce, every detail shows the consequences of that.  It is a beautiful film despise how dreary is it, because amid all the depression and violence of this future, the movie is ultimately about hope.

 

28. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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A gorgeous film set in a somewhat historical, somewhat fantastical China where a young woman wishes to break free of her stuffy political life and become a warrior.  This movie has a reputation for great fight scenes but it is so, so much more than that.  The cinematography is incredible and the scope of the film feels very large, while the small detail make it feel very real.  There are two different love stories, both great while being very different.  The musical score is outstanding as well.   Crouching Tiger is one of those movies that just grabs me by the heartstrings every time.

 

27. Rear Window

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Rear Window takes all of Hitchcock’s skill at crafting a great suspense story and puts it there for us to experience.  It starts off with a lot of charm and humour, and gradually moves into suspicion and JB Jeffrey’s, who is stuck watching his neighbours all day with a broken leg, suspects the man across the alley of murder.  This movie set all from Jeffrey’s apartment has a very unique look and therefore creates a unique atmosphere.  You will become enraptured with all of the neighbours on his block and what is happening with their lives, not just the murder plot.

 

26. Die Hard

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Many, many films have tried to be Die Hard over the years, but none have succeeded.  Die Hard took standard action films and gave them brains, wit, and style.  John McClaine is a lead character who really makes this movie.  He is relatable, which goes a long way here.  Hans Gruber is also a great villain, not just some ordinary heartless tough guy but someone with a clear personality.  Not to mention this movie looks great and the set pieces are no overdone and the payoffs are always earned.  Die Hard continues to be awesome all these years later.

 

25. 12 Angry Men

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How does a movie which is set in one room the whole time with the same 12 characters arguing about the same thing any good?  Well, its not good, its great.  And actually its so good that this may be my go-to film to try to encourage younger film fans to try out those “old black and white movies”.  12 Angry Men is full of personality, of great debate, of strong wills and strong drama.

 

24. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Getting A Leg Up On The Competition

The second segment in the astounding Lord of the Rings trilogy saw the main characters going their separate ways.  As such there was a lot of variety in this story.  We get to watch a great dynamic between Frodo, Sam and the creature Gollum.  But we also get a weird story with walking trees and the preparations of a grand battle.  And what a battle!  Helm’s Deep is the highlight of this film with amazing buildup, an amazing look, and amazing pacing.  Two Towers is an outstanding middle segment of this trilogy.

 

23. The Silence of the Lambs

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Serial killer thrillers don’t get much better than this.  Silence of the Lambs is brilliantly shot in such a way that it feels like a movie of its time, but also feels timeless somehow.  At the center of the story we have two amazing characters.  First there’s Clarice Starling, a young agent in training who struggles to make her mark in the FBI.  Then there’s Hannibal Lector, the infamous villain who is a genius in psychology but who also murders and eats his victims.  And together they have a wonderful dynamic.  This is a great, great suspense thriller.

 

22. Saving Private Ryan

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Spielberg’s WWII film is a masterpiece.  Of course everyone talks about the opening D-Day scene, and it deserves being talked about.  Its just so visceral.  But after that we follow a small band of soldiers and get to know them.  Yes they are the typical stereotypes, but they dont really feel like stereotypes as you are watching them.  Through their eyes we discover the western front of this war until one more grand battle to hold a bridge at the end.

 

21. 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Make no mistake, this is a divisive film.  It is certainly unique.  Kubrick make s no attempt to spell out the mysterious things that are happening to the audience.  As with much of Kubrick’s work, he distances the audience from what is happening.  But man, you just know that something important is going on with this film.  What is the black monolith’s purpose?  What is happening with the astronaut at that end? What is going on?!

But this movie isn’t really about the story, other than that underlying feel that there really is something to figure out.  2001 is all about a visceral experience of sight and sound, cutting to the heart of cinema.  The brilliance is that there is a reason for everything that is happening, you just may not know what it is yet.  But honestly, dont worry about it.  Just sit back and enjoy the sounds and silence, the slow pans and fast lights.

Aug
06

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Official-Photo-Rocket-Raccoon-Prison-Lineup

Guardians of the Galaxy! Marvel films go cosmic as this adaptation of a lesser known comic series tries to insert itself into the movie canon. Thoughts?

A new Star Wars?
Lets face it, Guardians of the Galaxy really, really wants to be the new Star Wars. It has characters which very obviously fill the roles of Han, Chewie, Luke and Leia. It even has a scene where the bad guy is in a room having a conversation to an even worse bad guy on a giant screen. But more importantly, it has that fun space opera feel to it. Its hard to succeed at matching the quality of an iconic film you so badly want to be, and while ultimately that quest is doomed, they put forth a strong effort. And who knows, they may end up being the “star wars of the decade”.

Great characters?
Yes, great characters. At first glance this seems like they could have easily just gotten some neat-looking characters with shallow personalities and throw them together in a team. But the five heroes here actually do have distinctive personalities beyond their looks (which are very, very diverse).

Chris Pratt did a great job as Star Lord. He manages to strike the humour in his lines just right, and created a character with bravado hidden behind a calm and easy exterior. Pratt has proven he is very comfortable in the leading man role.
Gomorrah had a decent enough arc, but there seemed to be more that could be done with her. Drax was sort of the same, but Drax had the running joke of taking things too literally that I found very amusing. I really liked that they tailored his speech patterns to the limitations of the actor. It worked well.
Rocket was awesome. He had an edge to his humour which was refreshing in a Marvel film, but he was also a character you could get behind. And I really liked his relationship with Groot the walking tree.

Lame villain?
Yeah, sorry. I have to say that Ronin was a rather lame villain. He looked like Data from Star Trek in make-up. We don’t really understand his motivations and that is a problem. He just acts like a typical buy guy, and that’s a problem. He doesn’t have very cool minions. Nothing about him really stands out other than being the needed antagonist. We got one scene with Thanos, but that was enough to make me wish he was the villain instead.

CGI Fest
Lets just take a step back and look to see where we are when it comes to movie special effects. Twenty-some years ago, a robot who turned into silver blob was a big deal. Then a realistic T-Rex made leaps and bounds. As we moved into the 21st century, films like the star wars prequels and lord of the rings were using special effects to create fully-developed characters.

And now, it seems like practically everything on the screen is CGI, to the point where it doesn’t even seem to phase us. Thats just the way movies are now. I look at this film, and see spaceships everywhere, wacky locations, CGI raccoons, and while its all fun to engage in, that wow factor isnt really there, because we are just so overwhelmed with it now. Its just a matter of pure quantity.

I’m not to say that it was bad CGI, because it wasn’t. What I’m saying is that it was hard to appreciate when there is just an explosion of it at any given time. And there were flaws. Sometimes Rocket’s movements seemed off for example. But a problem that arises from this is that all those ships and locations dont really feel real. This was very evident during that ship battle at the end. But when 97% of whats on screen is CGI, flaws are gonna happen.

Its just interesting to see the point where we are at now.

Overall?
I liked it quite a lot, and this is because I really liked the characters. Without the five guardians, this would be just another generic blockbuster romp albeit with a little more imagination involved. But it elevates above that by giving us a superhero team where all 5 characters are great and on somewhat equal footing (though clearly Star Lord is the main dude). Will it be the Star Wars of the decade? Who knows.

8/10

Aug
04

About the list

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

40. Gravity

gravityphotosarticle

When I chose to make this list I debated with myself to have a certain cut off date for recent movies, for example not including any movies within the last year. The reasoning behind that being  that usually films need a little reflection before declaring them as one of your favourites.  But with Gravity I need no time buffer.  I haven’t fallen in love with a movie like I have with Gravity for years.  And to be honest, I was a little worried that I had become too critical and that I couldn’t be surprised by a movie anymore.  But Gravity proved to me that I could.

This movie looks and sounds so good that you feel you are right there in space with the characters.  The unerlying themes of the script work amazingly well, providing a lot of power behind this story.  I love Gravity, and to be honest the only reason it is as low as 40 is because of that time buffer issue.  but I have a strong feeling that this film will only go up the list as the years go by.

 

39. Inception
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Inception is the cure to the “turn-your-brain-off” blockbuster.  It proves that you can have a great, exciting ride at the movies without having to lower your IQ.  Christopher Nolan and company have put together a wonderful movie filled with imagination, great action, and great characters.  They build the rules of the dream world so well that you can rely on them to all come together and make sense, without the plot getting too ludicrous.  There’s a hallway fight in zero gravity, a James Bond-esque mission to break into a winter compound, and a really great mystery at its emotional core.

 

38. Dances With Wolves

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A grand, sweeping epic telling the tale of a soldier who comes to live with the Sioux people during Civil War times.  It is paced just right and has many great moments like the buffalo hunt scene.  I love historical epics and Dances with Wolves is one of my favourites to be sure.

 

37. The Shawshank Redemption

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I think that this movie would be on a lot of people’s lists.  It just has that charm that draws people in, along with a great story of the human spirit.   It verges on sentimentalism but never tips over the edge.  It has some really great feel-good moments like when he plays the music for the prison or when he manages to score some beers for his buddies on the roof.  And the last 20 or so minutes is just the perfect way to end this great movie.

 

36. The Dark Knight

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A masterfully crafted superhero film and the best of its genre.  Nolan’s Dark Knight became a phenomenon and for good reason.  The acting is awesome,, especially Heath Ledger’s Joker, the action scenes are spectacular, like the opening heist and the prisoner transport scene, and the plot is full-bodied.   I know some will think its too dour, asking “why so serious?”, but I like the tone established here and the lack of goofiness.  This is Batman to his full potential.  This is a superhero movie to its full potential.

 

35. The Social Network

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Yes, the Facebook movie is one of my top 40 films of all time.  The combination of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, one of my favourite directors and one of my favourite writers, is genius.  And Jesse Eisenberg’s performance really brings the script to life.  He is an asshole, but an asshole who is fun to follow through this whole story.  But what really makes Social Network great is that it is truly a film for our time.  Its about the new generation making success in their own way and shaping their own world.  Its a great film.

 

34. Platoon

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Platoon used to be my favourite war movie, and though I’ve reassessed that thinking, I do still think its a powerful, tactile look at war and the loss of innocence it brings.  The counteracting characters of Barnes and Elias provides some great conflict with Charlie Sheen’s Taylor in the middle.

 

33. Bringing Up Baby

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This is flat-out one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.  Screwball comedy at its finest.  Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn play great off each other; he a straight-laced scientist representing order, she an off-the-cuff socialite representing chaos.  Oh, and there’s a funny dog.  And a leopard.  And scene after scene of ludicrous situations and witty quips.  Damn I love this flick.  One of the best comedies ever made.

 

32. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy based off of J.R.R. Tolkien’s incredible novels changed the movie landscape.  And by the time the phenomenon reached the third film, the hype and excitement was palpable.  The stakes were raised incredibly high in the final installment as Frodo reached Mordor and the pother characters prepared for war in Gondor.  And incredible spectacle follows.  The battle of the Pellanor fields was outstanding, especially with the large Oliphants and the witch-king on his winged beast.  But the Mount doom scenes with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum were my favourite parts.  I felt like I was there with them, and it truly lived up to being an amazing climax.

Now I must admit that this third movie has some flaws, including an ending that wont end (though that doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people) and the ridiculous ghost army.  But otherwise, an amazing epic fantasy which raises the bar and reaches it.

 

31. It’s a Wonderful Life

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Yeah yeah, call me a sap.  I don’t care.  I love this movie.  And its not because I used to watch it every Christmas and there’s a nostalgia with that, because I honestly didn’t see this until I got out of high school  Its just a genuinely great movie.  Its not gritty or hard-edged perhaps, but its just clean, heartfelt goodness.  And sometimes that can be really refreshing.

Jul
30

Alright, moving on to the second half of the list!

About the list

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

50. Gone With The Wind

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Alright, lets get this out of the way first.  Yes, this movie is long  Like, 4 hours.  But you know what?  I’m okay with that, because the length stays true to the nature of the film.  This is a cinematic saga in the true sense.  It is sprawling, vast, and covers a long period of time.  Not to mention Scarlett O’Hara is a very interesting character to studying throughout that time.  Great classic.

 

49. City of God
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There is a perception that movies from other countries are usually slower, more boring, pretentious, and a chore to get through.  And I get that, I’ve sat through my share of films like that.  But trust me, City of God is not one of those films.  It is a high energy movie with tons of colourful characters that doesn’t stop until its all over.  There are a bunch of inter-connecting stories, all of which tie into each other at some point or another.  Yet it never feels confusing, because the story is told so well.  Great flick.

 

48. Minority Report

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Over the last decade or so it sure feels like Tom Cruise has done a lot of science fiction, but his first foray is still the best.  Pairing up with Spielberg, they made a great film about a cop who arrests people who they know will commit murder in the future.  Its an interesting premise which asks a lot of ethical questions, and the movie takes its time to explore those.  It also looks stunning, with great set pieces like the robot spiders.  I think this is going to be one of those movies that seems under appreciated now but will find new life with movie fans years from now.

 

47. Apollo 13

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Damn I love Apollo 13.  Its just great drama.  An awesome story of people pulling together to work their way out of a crisis.  Its well-acted, looks great, and has some awesome moments, especially the climax.  Oh did I also mention that James Horner’s score is brilliant and right on the money?  I never get tired of this movie.

 

46. The Exorcist

EXORIST, I.V.

The ultimate horror movie.  The first time I saw this was in the theaters during some sort of rerelease promotion on Halloween night.  Awesome way to see it for the first time.  Very freaky.

 

45. Back to the Future

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Brilliant cinematic entertainment and the prototype of all other time travel movie tropes.  Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown have made those characters cultural icons.  This movie is filled with nostalgia but even apart from that I believe it holds up as truly great.

 

44. Forrest Gump

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Its funny, its heartfelt, and its a really odd documentation of American history in the late 20th century.  And it works.  The main character of Forrest does have a mental handicap, but the movie really isn’t about that.  Its just…. part of who he is.  But the movie is really about the impact that people can have during their lives, even though his is a massively exaggerated case.  Not to mention that the Forrest-Jenny love story is one of the few movie romances which really gets me every time I watch it.

 

43. Terminator 2: Judgement Day

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How many times did my friends and I rent this when we were kids?  Who knows, a lot.  We hadn’t even seen the first Terminator, but this was awesome enough just to watch over and over on its own.  Now when I look at it, I see why.  The villain T-1000 is just cool with all of his liquid metal tricks.  The ending is surprisingly powerful.  And the tone and atmosphere that James Cameron crates just feels really unique.  and the ending just wraps things up so nicely, I just ignore the fact that they made two more sequels.

 

42. Princess Mononoke

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What a wonderful film.  This is simply one of the best animated films I have ever seen.  Its wildly imaginative and it feels like it has deep mythology  behind it.  I remember Roger Ebert calling this the animated Star Wars, and I see why.  Great characters, a weird but interesting story, and just a movie I love to watch.

 

41. Wayne’s World

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Zang!

Jul
30

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I didn’t hold much hope for Edge of Tomorrow. Living a day over and over again as a premise seemed more like a chore than anything else. And otherwise it looked like a video game. It even has that restarting gimmick to feel like a video game.

Turns out, Edge of Tomorrow is pretty awesome. Doug Liman and his editor do a good job of not making the Groundhog Day elements feel repetitive but only showing what is necessary and letting us fill in the gaps from what we already know.

And instead of being just a video game, there’s actually an awesome story behind this. Earth has been invaded by aliens, like it has countless times, but its the details of the nature of these aliens which make it interesting. I wont say much more than that, but their biology plays a significant part in the story. Oh, did I also mention that the aliens look wicked cool??

Tom Cruise of course carries the film like he always does.He’s Tom Cruise, as always. Emily Blunt plays a war hero, and the reason she is a war hero is also really cool. The ragtag team feels a bit cliche, but not as bad as I was initially expecting.

This is an awesome summer blockbuster. When people make the argument for idiotic “popcorn” movies like Transformers where they just want to turn their brains off or whatever, remind them that there are movies like this that provide the same rush of adrenaline in a much more interesting fashion.
9/10

Jul
28

About the list

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

60. Psycho

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Hitchcock’s most notorious film, I can see why it would have caused waves in 1960.  Not only because of the graphic murder scenes, but also because of the non-traditional story structure, particularly with the main character.  Psycho is a masterpiece of horror; it looks great, it has incredibly creepy moments, an incredibly creepy villain, and suspense tailored by the best.

 

59.Pan’s Labrynth
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An excellent fantasy film inserted into a reality-based history, Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of a young girl who is pulled into a world of magic during the Spanish civil war.  The special effects are outstanding and feel very organic in this world.  The fantasy elements are used just sparingly enough to be their most effective.  Meanwhile the ending, while open to interpretation, is oddly satisfying.

 

58. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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This is one of those movies which gets better with each watch.  At first glance, it is an odd film.  There’s no villain or even threat, other than Roy’s own obsession.  There’s no real conflict-based climax.  Its just  story of mystery and wonder, all culminating with that grand ship rising above Devil’s Tower.  There are some great moments in Close Encounters, starting with the Railway stop scene in the truck, moving on to the mashed potatoes, the UFO chase, and pretty much the entire last 15 or 20 minutes.

 

57. The African Queen

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Two screen legends share the screen for the first (and only?) time in this excellent adventure film by John Huston.  Bogie and Hepburn are two unlikely companions caught together in a river boat in Africa at the start of the first world war.  They are attempting to escape the Germans as well as avoid dangers like rapids, marshes, leeches, etc.  The crew actually filmed in Africa, so there is a strong feeling of authenticity in the photography.  And the two performances really make us care for these two characters.  Great film, don’t pass it over.

 

56. The Sixth Sense

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M. Night Shyamalan has become a joke now, but back in 1999 he was being praised for his directorial debut The Sixth Sense.  And for good reason.  This is a meticulous thriller with a  strong vision of how to build suspense which goes deeper than jump scares and scary masks.  Its a ghost story which unfortunately has been reduced in the mainstream consciousness to just its ending.  And while the ending is outstanding and wraps up the movie almost perfectly, there is a lot more to the movie than that.

 

55. Citizen Kane

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Often hailed as the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane is a great study of cinematography, story structure, and symbolism.  I don’t profess to be a cinematography expert by any stretch, but I know what I like, and this movie looks great.  From the falling snow globe to the massive fireplace, this is such a well-constructed private world.  It also has some outstanding dialogue.  New viewers may find it a little on the slow side, but its a movie which appreciates with age.

 

54. The Bridge on the River Kwai

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David Lean is one of those classic film-makers who focused on naturalism and authenticity in his pictures.  In Bridge on the River Kwai he takes we the audience to the jungles of Burma.  The jungle feels real, the bridge they build feels real.  Why? Because they were.  The train on the bridge sequence feels real.  Why? Because it was.  And the human drama feels real.  This is an awesome war film and a great motion picture epic.

 

53. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

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Sometimes straight up sentimentalism and idealism on film works.  Mr. Smith is one of the best examples of that.  In this movie we see a humble, honest man try yo make his way as a politician in Washington.  We cheer for him because he is the every man working against corruption.  He love watching him because Jimmy Stewart and the screenplay create such a likable character.

 

52. Dark City

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This film noir science fiction made little fanfare when it was released, but over time it has developed a cult following.  I still remember the first time I watched it not knowing a damn thing about it.  I didn’t know the plot or even the main concept.  When Murdock woke up in that tub not knowing what was going on, neither did I.  And unraveling the mystery was a great movie watching experience.

 

51. The Passion of the Christ

08 - Passion

This is a polarizing film, as any film with this much of a religious base would be by its very nature.  Some people have derided it for Mel Gibson’s overuse of violence.  Others have claimed that it doesn’t have enough of a Christian message in it.  But for myself, I find it to be a powerful look at the most important figure in our history on the most important day of our history.  The sets, costumes, even the choice to film it entirely in the ancient languages of Jerusalem all help to make it feel as real as possible behind a camera.  The story really only deals with the trial and crucifixion of Jesus rather than his whole life, and its important to recognize that, but well-timed flashbacks do give us a sense of his past and the final moment of the film really drives it home.

I know it wont work for everyone, but many people have appreciated what this film set out to do, and I am one of them.

Jul
28

community

I gave Community a pass when it first aired, and I can’t really remember why.  I think I just wrote it off as another lame comedy trying to be the new The Office.  But on the urging of friends I decided to check it out and realized that it is awesome.  Why is it so awesome?  Because it dares to be different, it dares to be out there, and yes, it dares to be stupid.  But while its doing all this daring, it does so with a smart, sophisticated sense of humour.

The premise sees 7 unlikely friends  form a study group in community college.  The relationships and interactions between Jeff, Brita, Troy, Abed, Shirley, Annie and Pierce is the anchor to this show which can sometimes drift way off into uncharted waters.  Therefore, its a crucial anchor and makes us actually care about these characters rather than just laugh at them (though there is a lot of that as well).

What  sets Community apart is the show’s willingness to come up with crazy concepts and commit to them.  Examples include three episodes revolving around a paintball battle, a war documentary between people making a pillow fort and people making a blanket fort, and a Goodfellas spoof using chicken fingers instead of drugs.  OH yea, and don’t forget an episode made entirely in Nintendo 8-bit graphics.

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Season Recap

Season 1 – The freshman season of this series is where it is perhaps the tamest.  Many episodes had relatively normal story-lines for a TV sitcom, only with a lot more wit and grace than most other sitcoms.  Contemporary American Poultry and Modern Warfare are when they start experimenting with pop culture spoofs very successfully.  Modern Warfare, a spoof of action films where a paintball game has taken over campus, may still be my favourite episode of the entire series.

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Season 2 – The sophomore season is when Community really started to embrace its wacky side, though there was still a good mix of down-to-earth episodes as well to keep it all in balance.  And so goofy concept episodes like the zombie Halloween episode is balanced with the more character centric episodes like Comparative Calligraphy where they try to figure out who took Annie’s pen.  The highlights this season are Advanced Dungeon’s and Dragons,Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design, and the two-parter paintball season finale Fistful of Paintballs and A Few Paintballs More.  I did ‘t like the full claymation Christmas episode as much as other people, maybe because I hated the original specials they were based on.

Season 3 – As Community continued, the crazy concepts got more intense.  This was probably the height of Community’s comedy reign.  One of the best episodes is Remedial Chaos Theory, where a dice roll to determine who pays for pizza branches the group off into 6 different timelines.  Pillows and Blankets pokes fun at war docs with a schoolwide pillow fight.  Basic Lupine Urology is a brilliantly made Law and Order spoof.  Digital Exploration of Interior design includes a much more subtle take on Orwell’s 1984 with Subway in place of Big Brother.  This is a brilliant season, with an interesting dramatic storyline at the end where they are all expelled.  Communtiy goes of the rails in season 3, but in the best way possible.

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Season 4 – Season four arrived amidst much off screen turmoil which saw the show runner Dan Harmon fired.  Therefore, many fans were iffy about this season and for good reason.  It seemed to loose some of its creative spark which earned it such a reputation in the comedy world.  In the premiere, they tried to address this by making fun of people’s worries by showing what Community would be like as a typical sitcom.  It ended up being a short season with not a lot of highlights.  Not a lot of highlights this season otherwise.

Season 5 – Another year in turmoil with Dan Harmon leaving the show, but Chevy Chase and Donald Glover both leaving the cast.  And while Harmon’s creativity is back, the show doesn’t really recover from the turmoil.  It just wasn’t the same as it once was.  For one thing, they decided to replace Pierce with the who played Mike from Breaking Bad.  He did not fit in at all, and his characters insertion was very forced.  It did have highlights however, including a David Fincher style episode and App Development and Condiments which sees a new social media app create a strict social class system at the college.

Ranking of the Seasons:

Season 2

Season 3

Season 1

Season 5

Season 4

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Favourite Character – Honestly there are a bunch of great characters, and I found it tough to pick a favourite.  Jeff is a great main character, Abed is a clear fan fav, but I went with who I find that I’m cheering for the most and who I think is underrated in how funny she is, Britta.  I really liked Britta and Jeff’s relationship in the first season, and I like how she can be the most grounding yet most out-there characters at the same time.

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Final Thoughts -Community is a show with a very vocal and dedicated fan base… just not a large one.  It always seems to be on the verge of cancellation.  Even this year was supposed to be its last, but now there are news reports that the 6th season will be picked up by Yahoo (however that’s supposed to work…).  However, with the Harmon drama and the loss of Pierce and Troy and the general sense of not really having a direction anymore, I kind of just wish this show had been put to bed yesterday.  Its really too bad that they couldn’t have held things together for a great fourth season and ended it there.  That would have been the natural stopping point, considering it is a show about college.

But regardless, Community is one of the freshest sitcoms that television has seen in some time, and while not everyone appreciated it or bothered to check it out, those who did love it.  The Greendale Seven gave us three excellent seasons with another 2 decent ones thrown in.  I don’t know whats going to happen with season 6, if it does happen, but hopefully they can end things with a bang.  Troy and Abed ending this pooost!

community-basic_sandwich

Jul
25

About the list

And so I’ve decided to tackle the great white whale and try to come up with the list of my 100 favourite movies.  This was not easy, but I decided to try anyway.

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

70. This Is Spinal Tap

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Spinal Tap is the precursor to the “awkward humour” made popular by The Office.  Its got a unique documentary style which works well with the subtle humour.  The things these guys say is so ridiculous, you always manage to find new idiotic comments every time you watch.

 

69. Kill Bill Volume 1

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This film surprised me when I saw it, because frankly I expected to hate it.  But it was just so much fun!  Full of style and flash.  I do expect however, that this may go down over time, because I think that perhaps Tarantino’s overindulgence may begin to get grating over time.

 

68. Kill Bill Volume 2

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Just like my last set of ten was Cameron heavy, this post is going to be Tarantino heavy.  I always seem to flip flop between which of the Kill Bill movies I like the most, and at the present moment it is #2.  It just seems to allow itself more room to breath, if that makes any sense.

 

67. Paths of Glory

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Paths of Glory; the war film where we only see one side.  But its really cool.  The trench camera shots are awesome, and the battle progressions are thrilling.  Its an oddly structured film, as the action is all in the first half, and then its a courtroom drama.  But it has a lot to say about abuse of power during wartime, and is an important film in Kubrick’s repertoire.

 

66. M*A*S*H*

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When I talked about American Graffiti I mentioned those types of movies when dont really have a plot but just let you hang with the characters.  MASH is one of the best examples of that.  And what characters they are!  This is a hilarious movie just in the sense that the people who are here are just funny in and of themselves.  And the ludicrous hings they do, like setting up an audience to spy on the girls showering and staging a fake funeral because someone has gone impotent, are hilarious.  One of the best comedies ever made.

 

65. The Godfather Part II

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Hollywood’s most celebrated sequel.  The second part to this grand story sees Michael taking the reigns as don.  But it also shows the rise of Vito in a series of flashbacks.  In the hands of a less skilled team, this would be a mess, but it works wonderfully well here.  With great direction and music this movie is dripping with atmosphere.  I know it was you Fredo!

 

64. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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I’m not big into Westerns, so you wont see many on this list, but I love Butch and Sundance.  Its been said countless times, but the reason this movie is so great is the chemistry between the leads.  The reason its said so much is because its simply true.  The jumping scene is iconic and great, as is the train robbery and the challenge to Butch’s power.  Just awesome.

 

63. Pulp Fiction

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Pulp Fiction was a gamechanger.  Its a movie that is just cool. It has gangsters talking about McDonalds and footrubs.  It has Samuel L.  Jackson at his most Samuel L. Jacksony.  If you have not yet seen Pulp Fiction, pick it up on blu-ray.  Its the one that says “bad mother fucker” on it.

 

62. Inglourious Basterds

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And yet, somehow Tarantino ended up making a film that managed to be better than his signature Pulp Fiction.  That film is Inglourious Basterds.  Its a movie with a strong vision of what it wants to be and how to get there.  It is full of both suspense and humour in equal measure.  And it has introduced us to a great villain in Hans Landa.  As Tarantino says right there through his screenplay at the end of the film, they may just well be his masterpiece

 

61. Up

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Call me a softy, but I love Up.  I mean, look at all the colours!  Okay, while it is a visual feast, it has a very strong emotional core with a strong character arc for Carl.  Pixar is very good at dealing with themes, and often that theme is dealing with loss.  This is the most obvious storyline which fits that, and perhaps the strongest.  It also manages to bat out a great love story in five minutes.

Jul
22

About the list

And so I’ve decided to tackle the great white whale and try to come up with the list of my 100 favourite movies.  This was not easy, but I decided to try anyway.

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

80. Sunshine

sunshine_movie_trailer5

When I first watched Sunshine, I thought it was absolutely brilliant science fiction, until I got to the end and it broke my heart by becoming a slasher film.  However, I gave it another chance, and realized that it really is a brilliant science fiction film, it just has an unexpected twist which is necessary, though it may not seem like it at the time.

Sunshine does a great job of taking an Earth saving mission and dealing with all the stresses and decisions that come with it.  And oh yeah, it looks and sounds amazing.

 

79. Aliens

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An expertly made action film which also works as an innovative sequel, completely changing the tone and even the genre from the original film.  James Cameron took Alien from a thriller to an action-packed romp.

 

78. Shrek

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I struggle with this one, mostly because of how bloated the Shrek franchise has become.  But I still love the original film, which completely surprised me with its humour and heart.  Yes, there were some missteps, like some silly pop references and the use of modern day music, but the characters are very likable, the animation is rich, and the story is a solid modern fairy tale.

 

77. Black Hawk Down

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Ridley Scott makes a war film which puts us right there involved in the conflict.  We see it from the operational and ground level.   We feel the claustrophobic feeling of being in hostile territory, we sense the clash of control and confusion, and we grip our seats until its all over.

 

76. On the Waterfront

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With a simple story synopsis, there doesn’t seem to be anything special about a former boxer being caught up in a gang that controls the waterfront.  But this film is a master craft.  The drama is amazingly compelling, and the acting is revolutionary.  We really feel for Brando’s Terry Malloy and go through his moral dilemmas with him.  Outstanding movie.

 

75. Avatar

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One of those great cinematic adventures.  The sense of discovering a new world is all encompassing, and the new world itself looks stunning.  Amazing visual effects and one of the best 3D experiences I’ve ever had.  Yes the story is straight-forward, but it works well in this type of film and allows us to enjoy everything around it that much more.

 

74. King Kong

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One of the first great effects films and first great adventure films.  King Kong to this day is one of the most influential movies in film history.   The reason is because its awesome.  We get to explore a mysterious island, watch a giant ape fight a tyrannosaurus rex, then see the same ape try to survive in New York city.  Its just a lot of fun and a true, true classic.

 

73. Titanic

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If you were too young to remember the film landscape of 1997, it would be hard for you to realize just how massive of an event Titanic was.  Yes, Avatar may have surpassed it in box office figures, but Avatar didn’t even come close to the fervour and hype that surrounded this film.  And there was good reason.  James Cameron crafted a film with an amazing sense of atmosphere.  He made me feel like I was on that ship with the passengers as it was sinking.  Don’t be dissauded by the naysayers, Titanic is a powerhouse film.

 

72. The Terminator

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I’m just realizing how much Cameron is in this set of 10.  Interesting.  So why is Terminator here?  Because it just feels like a pure sci-fi thriller.  Its a simple plot with a very interesting concept, and the idea of a non-stop machine trying to kill you with nothing in its way is terrifying.

 

71. Seven Samurai

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Has Kurusawa ever made a bad film?  If so, I haven’t found it yet.  Seven Samurai is his most famous and my personal favourite of his.  Its long, yes, but that just lets us spend a lot of time with these great characters, and provides a lot of anticipation for the awesome battle sequences which come up in the later half.  Not to mention Kikuchio kicks ass.

Jul
21

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This Planet of the Apes “reboot” series is an interesting animal. Its taken an old series which, lets face it, gets pretty corny by the last few movies, and has turned it into a deeper and more serious contemplation of the themes going on. And yet they don’t feel like they are going overboard and they still manage to give good homage to the films that came before.

Dawn sees the apes creating their own world now that humans have been wiped out by a deadly plague. Well, almost wiped out, and that’s where the conflict comes in. Now that they have found a band of humans, Caesar must decide how his ape tribe will respond, though war seems inevitable no matter what he does.

Just like Rise of the Apes was a loose remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn bases its story on Battle for the Planet of the Apes, the fifth and final film in the original series. And lets face it, the story is pretty straight forward and easy to see where it goes. But what elevates this particular story is the communion in the ape society and how attached we get to these Simeon characters. Caesar of course is the strongest, but we also get attached to the apes around him like Maurice and Koba too.

There are some strong scenes in the film. It opens with a Dances with Wolves style hunting scene which was interesting. There’s also a major turning point in the plot in the ape village which works well. And my favourite scene is early on when Caesar leads the apes back into San Francisco as a show of strength. Powerful stuff there.

I know that this is probably just supposed to be considered a completely separate story, but its interesting to think of it as perhaps the true beginning of the Apes series. If you think about it, in the 3rd movie Cornelius and Zira go back in time and their son becomes the same Caesar who leads the uprising. But Caesar managed to find a peace between humans and apes, which indicates that that may have triggered a secondary timeline. So were these two newer movies perhaps the start of the first timeline?

Personally I prefer the origin hinted at in the very first film (and still one of my all-time favourites) in which mankind essentially destroyed themselves. Apes were not involved in this downfall at all, but instead took the opportunity to take one last step of evolution and claim their place as the dominant species over the last 2000 years.

Sorry, I completely got off track there. Anyways, good movie. Special effects weren’t noticeable while watching it, so they clearly passed the test. Some predictable story elements and others that go no place (mostly with the humans) but it looks great and the ape characters will likely keep you invested.
9/10

I am skeptical about where the third movie is going however…