Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 1237 - What movies have I watched more than 10 times?

There was a thing going around Facebook this week - Name a movie you've watched over 5 times that you're still entertained by.  I thought 5 was a low number (heck, I've watched Vertigo and Skyfall at least 3 times apiece and I don't even like them), so I've opted to go with the number 10.  Now, be aware that some of the movies I list on here might not meet these rigid restrictions (I think I've seen Lawrence of Arabia 8 times, but 7 of those times were in the theater, so I'm rounding up), but in other cases, I'm pretty sure I've seen King Kong and Jaws well over 20 times each.  It all balances out.

So, I've broken these movies up into little categories of my own design -

My favorites:
King Kong
Silence of the Lambs
North by Northwest

These four movies represent numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 on my all-time favorites list.  Number 3 is Taxi Driver, and while I love it, it doesn't lend itself to multiple viewings.  It's just too bleak.  The other four, however... I never get bored of them.

The trilogies:
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Do I need to explain why these six movies are eminently watchable?  No making fun of the Ewoks or Kate Capshaw here.

The Bond Movies
Dr. No
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Live and Let Die
For Your Eyes Only
The Living Daylights
Casino Royale

I've seen them all multiple times, but these 10 are far and away the ones I've seen the most.  I'm tempted to drop Diamonds are Forever in the mix as well, because I know I've watched that one a bunch, too.

The tape:
The Naked Gun: From the files of Police Squad

I had one videotape in college that had these three movies on it, and I watched the whole tape a lot!  The Naked Gun satisfied my craving for absurdist comedies, Heathers filled my need for snark, and Streets reminded me that even if you had the tiniest of budgets and a purely b-level script you could still make gritty magic.

The tape part 2:
Monty Python The Meaning of Life

Two of the most extreme and eye-opening films I have ever seen.  I never get bored watching them.  "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

The animated movies:
A Bug's Life
Finding Nemo
Kung Fu Panda

Because of Dennis Leary, Ellen Degeneres, and Dustin Hoffman respectively.

The Martial Arts flicks:
Drunken Master 2
Police Story
Jackie Chan's First Strike
The Deadliest Art: The Best of the Martial Arts Movies

I can watch Jackie Chan a lot and never, ever be bored.  And The Deadliest Art introduced me to his compatriot Sammo Hung, for which I'll be forever grateful.

The Cusacks:
Better Off Dead
The Sure Thing
Sixteen Candles

Yeah, I know John Cusack is only in a little bit of Sixteen Candles, but it fit my category, so in it stays.  These three movies are my version of comfort food.

The classics:
The Wizard of Oz
Rear Window
Stalag 17
Lawrence of Arabia

If you've never seen any of these, well shame on you.

Comedy classics:
Hold That Ghost
Monkey Business
Way Out West

Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers, and Laurel and Hardy all represent!

Action classics:
Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Dirty Harry

Yes, I like watching Die Hard 2 just as much as I like watching the first one.  Even William Sadler, who played the bad guy in part 2 thought that was weird.

Sports flicks:
Tin Cup
The Natural

Those are my two go-to sports flicks. I have never been bored watching them.

The videotapes:
Watch It
Get Crazy
Virgin High
Hot Under the Collar

Four movies that have never made the transition to DVD (sadly).  I have copies of them on VHS and am happy to have them.  Watch It is one of the best movies you've never heard of.  Get Crazy has Malcolm McDowell, Lou Reed, Daniel Stern, Ed Begley Jr and others in a madcap musical comedy.  Virgin High and Hot Under the Collar are two b-movies from director/actor Richard Gabai.  They make me laugh.

The 90's nostalgia:
Pulp Fiction
True Romance

Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino are my heroes.

3 more:
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Murder by Death
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

If Spielberg had never made Jaws, he would still be one of my favorite directors because of Close Encounters.  Murder By Death has my favorite Peter Sellers role.  And while I love everyone in Mad, Mad... Jonathan Winters is by far my favorite.

She's All That
The Matrix Reloaded

So the final two on my list... yeah.  What can I say?  I like She's All That and I watch it more than is probably acceptable.  And I will defend my love for the second Matrix movie till I pass from this mortal coil.  It's not my fault that the third movie is so terrible.  I simply want lots and lots of cool action with ideas that make me think (and if any of my theories about what was actually going on in that second Matrix movie had panned out, then people probably would've liked that one, too).  I just pretend the third movie never existed and make up my own end to the saga.  It's just better that way.

Final tally - 62 movies that I've (probably) seen more than 10 times each.  I'm sure there's even more that I've forgotten, but it's a good starter list.  A lot of classics that others would have on their own lists aren't here (cough*Ghostbusters*cough), and I understand that.  Heck, give me a few years, and I'm sure I could add a few more.  Heck, I was just glancing at my collection, and I could probably add Predator and Pump Up the Volume to this list, but maybe I'll just watch them again, instead.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 1228 - Laggies


Keira Knightley can be a divisive actress for many people.  And I say that because I know a lot of people who don't seem to like her.  Personally, I'm a fan.  However, this is the second film of hers that I've seen in the last year in which she uses an American accent.  I never fully acclimated to it during The Imitation Game, but in Laggies I started to get used to it.  I'd still rather she keep the British accent in her movies, but that's just my hangup.

Anyways, the movie I watched tonight was Laggies, and it's about Megan (Keira Knightley) who's stuck spinning her wheels in life, and goes into a tailspin when her longtime boyfriend proposes.  Through a pretty real turn of events, she befriends Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz), and to gather her thoughts, ends up spending a week at Annika's house.To complicate matters, Annika's dad is played by Sam Rockwell, and we all know how charming he can be.

The movie has a lot on its mind, but it never pushes its agenda on you, but rather, lets the events that happen to the characters naturally unfold.  You understand why Megan freaks out when the boyfriend proposes.  You see the quiet desperation that Annika has when she talks about the mother who abandoned her family.  You see Sam Rockwell's Craig do the best he can at being a good dad.  And you see how all these relationships intertwine and sometimes become stronger, and sometimes unravel.

I read a lot of reviews when this came out, and nearly all of them weren't exactly negative, but none of them really seemed to like the movie, either not appreciating Megan's inability to "grow up" or wondering how the relationship between Megan and Annika really was supposed to work.  As I said, I thought all the relationships were genuine, I thought nearly every part in the movie was cast perfectly (Jeff Garlin as Megan's dad and Kaitlyn Dever as Annika's best friend were standouts), and I thought it was interesting that Megan had studied to be a therapist and was self-aware of the path that she was taking (even if she never strayed off it).

Yeah, I liked it.  Now if they could've come up with an explanation that would have let Keira use her natural accent, it would have been nearly perfect.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 1216 - The movie notebook and Robert Z'Dar (R.I.P.)

Years ago, I got a chance to meet Roddy McDowall and Nancy Allen after a performance of "Dial 'M' For Murder" at Playhouse Square.  I was going to get their autographs afterwards no matter the cost (and it actually turned out to be pretty easy), but I had no idea what to have them sign.  After some thought, I decided to have them sign in my movie notebooks.

When I was in high school and college, I filled up three notebooks full of reviews I wrote after every movie I saw.  I gave everything a star rating from 0 stars to 4 stars and wrote a one to four line review of the film.  I also categorized whether or not I saw it in the theater, what its rating was, why it was rated that way, and if I saw it edited for TV or not.  It seems complicated, but it was pretty simple.  Leonard Maltin and his Movie Guide obviously made a big impression on me.

Anyways, both Roddy McDowall and Nancy Allen had no problem signing the notebooks by reviews of Fright Night and Dressed to Kill respectively, and I discovered a cool thing to have celebrities sign when I would meet them at Comic Con or any other convention.

But my most oft-repeated story regarding the notebooks is the one about the one person who wouldn't sign it.  That person was Traci Lords.  I was at a convention (in Akron, I think), and I waited in her line to see if she would sign by my review of Cry Baby.  I got up to her, explained what I wanted her to sign, and waited expectantly.  She looked at me and said, "I don't sign reviews."  I was stunned for a moment, but managed to recover and explain that they were my own reviews, and that I liked the movie (giving it either 3 or 3 and 1/2 stars).  She still said "no," and said that she would sign any of the stuff on the table for me.  I was crestfallen, said, "no, thanks," and shuffled away.

This was still relatively early on in my autograph gathering, so I wondered to myself if the first few autographs were flukes and everything would be like this from now on.  The next person I saw that day, about 5 to 10 minutes later was Robert Z'Dar.  Robert had starred in Maniac Cop 1, 2, and 3, as well as a personal favorite, Tango and Cash.  I was going to ask him to sign by Maniac Cop 2.  When I got to him, I gave him my spiel.  He looked at me and said, "You did this?  These are your reviews?"  "Yes," I replied.  There was a pause.  "This is awesome!  You should do something with this!"  At that moment, I wanted to give him the biggest hug.  We talked about his movies and what he was doing with himself for about 15 minutes.

He was truly one of the nicest and coolest people people I have ever met.  He was at Cinema Wasteland last year and I was focused on other things, but I waved to him as I walked by.  I really should have talked to him, and now I won't get another chance, as he passed away yesterday.  But he'll always be one of my favorite people, and I'll never forget his enthusiastic response to this one fan.

Rest in peace Robert Z'Dar.  And thank you.