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Posts Tagged ‘favorite films’

In Memory of Mike Nichols (1931-2014)

November 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Mike Nichols became one of my favorite filmmakers right around the time I started college. I’d always loved several of his movies before then — The BirdcageRegarding Henry and Wolf were childhood favorites of mine — but Nichols’ work really took on new meaning for me later on. The impetus was — brace for a cliche — The Graduate. I’d hate myself for writing it if it wasn’t so goddamn true.

It doesn’t get much more trite than a college freshman relating to The Graduate, but that’s the story. I’d actually seen the movie several years earlier, easily pre-high school, so it’s not like I wasn’t familiar with it or its cultural impact. My first round with The Graduate all those years back just wasn’t anything special. I liked it. I found it funny and I thought Anne Bancroft’s performance was amazing, but that’s about where it stopped. My re-watch, however, was a different story. I watched as a young (but not THAT young) Dustin Hoffman as Ben Braddock moved his way uncomfortably through a party at his parents’ house, fielding empty questions about his future from people who don’t particularly care. They all think they have answers for the young man, of course (“plastics” is obviously the most memorable and hilarious). I think that Read more…

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My 10 Favorite Screenplays from the WGA’s List of the 101 Greatest

February 27, 2013 2 comments

Lists may be arbitrary, but they’re also a lot of fun. They’re also quite difficult to form for anyone who has a real passion (e.g. movies) and the listing process turns into an arduous affair consisting of many drafts.

For the past eight years, the Writer’s Guild of America has been collecting top 10 lists from its members in order to compile the 101 Greatest Screenplays. It’s one of the more enjoyable lists I’ve read because my favorite films are typically ones which I think are expertly written, which is why I’m generally bored by comic book films and anything that Michael Bay puts out with Shia LaWhateverHisNameIs. A well written film should not only be great to watch but great to just listen to as well. For instance, I’d love listening to Manhattan on my iPod, but Independence Day would be insufferable on my car stereo while driving cross country.

Many of the screenplays on the WGA’s list are utterly brilliant and I don’t take issue Read more…

In Memory of Donald “Duck” Dunn

This is first and foremost a movie blog, but I wanted to write a little something about legendary bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn. He played in the band Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and he also worked on countless records recorded under the Stax music label and can be heard on some of the most famous blues, soul, and rock tunes that have ever been made. He was a frequent collaborator with my favorite singer of all-time, Otis Redding. Dunn died today, May 13th, while on tour in Japan with his friend, guitarist Steve Cropper.

He is prominently featured in the film The Blues Brothers, one of the funniest films ever and probably the only musical that I really, truly love. A clip from one of the film’s musical performances is above (you can skip over the advertisement in the beginning). Make sure to look for Dunn in the back, playing his bass and smoking a pipe like a badass. As someone who almost exclusively listens to blues and soul music, this is a sad day. Read more…

My 13 Favorite Horror Films: A Preview

April 18, 2012 1 comment

If I had been on the ball I would have thrown up this post last Friday the 13th. Oh well–this will be quite topical on July 13, 2012!

I think I’ve been asked, “Do you like horror movies?” more than any other film-centric question. People LOVE horror films of all kinds, but I’ve always felt somewhat out of the loop because I’ve never responded much to them. So when people would ask if I like horror, I generally responded by saying I just like good movies, some of which end up being horrific by genre; meanwhile, all I could think is how much I hate things like Final DestinationI Know What You Did Last Summer, or the Leprechaun films. Torture porn like the Saw or Hostel franchises don’t do much for me either. This overall judgmental attitude was wrong, however, because the term “horror” evoked the wrong feeling in me. I shouldn’t have thought of bad acting, hokey music, and goofy violence when thinking of horror. Just like anything else, there’s good and there’s bad, so I started to focus on what makes a great scary movie rather than what makes a bad one.

Maybe it’s years of Read more…

Stanley Kubrick’s Film Treasures Are Coming to L.A.

I received some tremendous news in the mail the other day from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Starting October 28th (earlier for members like myself), the museum will unveil a retrospective of the work from genius director Stanley Kubrick. It’s events like this one that make me glad I live in LA.

From the description on the LACMA website, “Stanley Kubrick is the first large-scale retrospective of the filmmaker’s work in the United States. Developed in collaboration with the Kubrick Estate and the Deutsches Filmmuseum, the exhibition provides access to Kubrick’s extraordinary vision and working methods. Early photographs made for Look magazine in the 1940s suggest an obsession with historical research and visual detail, which characterize Kubrick’s groundbreaking directorial achievements of the 1960s through the 1990s. Each of Kubrick’s main film projects is examined in detail through archival material, costumes, set models, and props. The exhibition also Read more…

Surrealism in Film

January 29, 2012 3 comments

Kahlo and Kahlo at the LACMA

I attended an exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art today called In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States. Works from the likes of Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, María Izquierdo, and many others are on display and I suggest that any of you in the LA area drop in if you have an interest in the surreal.

The last exhibit I saw at LACMA consisted of the various sculptures and drawings of Tim Burton. Naturally, Burton’s aesthetics fit right in with the art currently on display, so that got me thinking of my favorite surrealist films. There was a time when I went on a real David Lynch-bender and I damn near burned myself out on the crazy, outlandish, and unexplained.

However, when properly spaced out between viewings, surrealist films can be extraordinarily thought-provoking and satisfying. Surrealist artists, including filmmakers, make use of terrifying and fetishistic imagery, frequently blending reality with the hyper-real, leaving the viewer disturbed, intrigued, or just plain Read more…

My 10 Favorite Films of 2011, Plus a Special Guest’s Top 10!

January 24, 2012 4 comments

Program from my screening of 'Shame' at LACMA

Well, the day you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. It took some time and I had to make some tough (not really) decisions, but I’ve finally settled on my ten favorite movies of 2011. Not until I actually sat down to compile the list did I realize how many movies this year impressed me…

A year is a long time, and it was fun to go back through and reminisce about all of the movies I saw. Oftentimes I didn’t even realize that a particular film had been released last year. It’s not like I empathized with Sophie and her choice (drama queen), but I really did have to leave off some excellent movies– which is good! No one wants to dig for films just to salvage a shoddy top ten list.

As an additional treat, my podcast co-host, Devin Marble, sent me his Read more…