Friday, May 10, 2013

My 100 Favorite Films of the 1960s: The Top 20

The thrilling conclusion!

20. Yellow Submarine (1968)
One of my favorite animated films. I bet this must look great on Blu-Ray, because it looks amazing on my old DVD.

19. To Sir, with Love (1967)
I think Sidney Poitier should have won an Oscar for this film.

18. Jason and the Argonauts (1964)
One of my Dad's all time favorites, and one of mine. RIP Ray Harryhausen.

17. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
With this and Repulsion and The Tenant, you've got an interesting series of films about living in apartments. What happened to Polanski in an apartment?

16. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

15. A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (1966)
One of my all time favorite comedies, a movie that makes me laugh constantly, but not Richard Lester's highest placed film on my list.

14. The Birds (1963)

13. Ersatz (1961)
Look for this short animation on YouTube, too, it's really worth it.

12. The Wild Bunch (1969)
The great Western film of the 1960s.

11. A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Richard Lester's highest placed film on my list. Breezy, full of personality, very funny, and it ends with a Beatles concert.

10. Contempt (1963)

9. The Leopard (1963)
Burt Lancaster's greatest performance, even if he is dubbed by an Italian actor.

8. The Pink Phink (1964)
The highest placed animation on my list is the first Pink Panther cartoon, but for some reason it always catches me off guard and makes me laugh and laugh. Beautifully animated in a minimalist style, too.

7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A transcendent film, even if only one other person I know in real life agrees with me. Sigh.

6. The Lion in Winter (1968)
Some of the most exciting acting I've ever seen in a film is Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn trying to get at one another in this film.

5. Onibaba (1964)
Riveting and passionate.

4. One, Two, Three (1961)
Probably the most enjoyable comedy I know.

3. Blow-Up (1966)

2. West Side Story (1961)
My Dad really hates this movie. In fact, most people I know really, really do not like this movie.

1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Well, since I often cite this as my second or third favorite film ever made, that can't be much of a surprise. I do dearly love this film, and now that I've got the music going through my head, I at least need to hear the score.

If you'll excuse me...

Thursday, May 09, 2013

My 100 Favorite Films of the 1960s: 40-21

40. Lilies of the Field (1963)

39. Planet of the Apes (1968)
This is one of those movies I always get caught up in and end up watching if I pass it on TV. Rod Serling's screenplay is basically a feature length Twilight Zone episode; a very compelling one.

38. In Cold Blood (1967)

37. Vixen (1968)
Erica Gavin recently said she liked my wife's art. She's Becca's favorite Russ Meyer star.

36. Belle de Jour (1967)
My favorite of my many favorite Bunuel films.

35. The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1965)
Surprised it took this long to get to a short cartoon, but not surprised that the first one is by Chuck Jones.

34. The Producers (1968)

33. Repulsion (1965)
Claustrophobic and impossible to look away from.

32. Topkapi (1964)

31. The Innocents (1961)
One of the most creepily atmospheric movies I've ever seen.

30. Two Women (1961)

29. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
That's three movies with Catherine Deneuve in this grouping.

28. Patton (1970)

27. The Critic (1963)
If you haven't seen Ernest Pintoff's abstract short animation with Mel Brooks as an obnoxious moviegoer, go find it on YouTube. It's just a few minutes long, but it's so worth it.

26. Ride the High Country (1962)
I'm kind of surprised there aren't more Westerns on this list.

25. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

24. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

23. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
No one mentions Robert Shaw in this movie very much. It's his best performance in anything, in my opinion. Not that I hear people mentioning this movie ever, which is a shame, because it's a great one.

22. M*A*S*H (1970)
I've lived pieces of my life by a philosophy of goofing off. This movie fed that. And the novel, for that matter.

21. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967)
The first movie anyone used to teach me about composition and cinematography, in my high school film studies class.

Tomorrow: the top 20.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

New Banner for Summer 2013, and Yes, It's Obviously Kristen Bell

My 100 Favorite Films of the 1960s: 60-41

I think literally one person is interested in this, but as long as she is, I'll just keep doing it.

60. Billy Budd (1962)

59. The Exterminating Angel (1962)
Silvia Pinal and Luis Bunuel...

58. 8 1/2 (1963)

57. Viridiana (1961)
...and Silvia Pinal and Luis Bunuel again.

56. Yojimbo (1961)

55. The Misfits (1961)
I do love these fatalistic movies about the ends of American eras which are really about the ends of eras in American filmmaking. These really feels like it shuts the door on 1950s filmmaking.

54. My Life to Live (1962)

53. Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1962)
How I learned to start worrying about American movies a little bit because hardly anyone seems to find this movie funny anymore.

52. Easy Rider (1969)

51. Age of Consent (1969)
I pretty much just want to be James Mason in this movie for the rest of my life, remote island and teenage girlfriend and all. I should've stuck with painting.

50. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

49. The Bride Wore Black (1968)
I love Truffaut's attempt at Hitchcock.

48. Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
Another real beauty of production design and cinematography.

47. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

46. Band of Outsiders (1964)

45. Time Piece (1966)
Jim Henson's excellent short film which is sadly not on YouTube in full anymore.

44. Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)
Werner Herzog's second film, about mental patients at an asylum who take over--with an all little person cast--is deliriously, disturbingly insane. I've never been able to forget it. This will haunt you, but it's so worth it.

43. Lorna (1964)
Lorna Maitland in this film is my favorite of Russ Meyer's stars. Much more disturbing than sexy, but very good.

42. Simon of the Desert (1965)
Silvia Pinal, Luis Bunuel, I believe you've met...

41. Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)
Lots of French films in this installment. And Spanish and German and Italian... European cinema was really where it was at this decade.

Tomorrow: the second to last installment.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

A SECRET (2007)
Well-made French film about a son who uncovers his family's tragic pre-World War II past and how the dynamics of his family were altered forever. Excellent cast, touching, but not much to say about it. ***1/2

After the youngest son of a well-off family is suspended for masturbating in class, the family matriarch (Valerie Maes, who is very good and very pragmatic in this film) realizes that she hasn't really talked about sex with her children, and the film sort of... well, just watches them have sex. That's pretty much it. We just look at what their sex lives are like, they have conversations about it, and there is literally no tension in the film at all. But I did find it sort of refreshing and nice that the film thinks of sex as neither shameful nor sensational. It's just a nice movie with lots of explicit sex scenes and regular conversation. Not remarkable, but grounded and enjoyable somehow. ***

I CONFESS (1953)
I always want to love every Hitchcock film, but I found this one about a priest who is accused of murdering a local businessman (he didn't, but he's holding on to a secret revealed to him in the confession booth) rather tedious. Montgomery Clift is pretty good in the lead, but not good enough to elevate the film from mostly a morality potboiler. **1/2

Lance Henriksen unleashes a monster to get revenge on a bunch of 80s movie teenagers. It does. And that's pretty much it. Stan Winston seems to have thought of and designed a neat monster and then just given it a film to star in without giving much thought to whether it was a story worth telling. Neat monster, though, but what a boring movie. 80's horror also-ran. *1/2

IRON MAN 3 (2013)
I liked this one a lot more than I liked the disappointing Iron Man 2. Great twists, which you've doubtless already read about, but I think they really worked. I was very interested in what they've done with Tony Stark as a character, giving him a sort of PTSD after the events of The Avengers. I know there was a lot of talk among fans when the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe starting coming together about how to blend magical characters with the harder science fiction elements of the Iron Man movies, and I like how here we see that Tony's experience with aliens and a level of technology he can't easily understand has really shaken him. I looked at a lot of this through the prism of my own current problems with agoraphobia and panic disorder. I dug it. ***1/2 After this, I think I'm pretty much done speculating on what's going to happen in these movies; I'm firmly along for the ride and if they want to mess with the characters or do whatever, I don't really care as long as it's in an interesting/entertaining way.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

I came home from the movies this afternoon to discover that one of my movie heroes, Ray Harryhausen, died today. People are putting up much better tributes than I ever could, so let me just say thank you for The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, four of my all-time favorite movies and some of the most enjoyable cinema I've ever experienced. Thank you for all of it, from a creature lover to a creature maker.

My 100 Favorite Films of the 1960s: 80-61

Continuing on from yesterday.

80. Romeo and Juliet (1968)
AKA the one with the boobs that they show 10th graders. That was always a big deal in high school, that you sat in class and saw the boobs in Romeo and Juliet. Oy. This is a great film, though. One of the best Shakespeare adaptations, and of a play I don't much care for.

79. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

78. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

77. Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)
Jeanne Moreau's best performance, I think, but there's another of her films coming on this list.

76. Divorce, Italian Style (1961)
Lots of foreign films on this list. I think American films were really getting kind of stale in this decade, until they got revitalized at the end of it. When I think of the 60s in American film I tend to think of bloated, overlong musicals. (Kind of like what we have right now, come to think...)

75. Kwaidan (1964)
A film of amazing, haunting imagery.

74. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

73. Fists in the Pocket (1965)
One of the most compelling depictions of mental and emotional dysfunction I've ever seen.

72. Help! (1965)
It's just never not funny.

71. Loves of a Blonde (1965)

70. From Russia with Love (1963)
My favorite Bond flick.

69. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

68. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

67. The Comedy of Terrors (1964)
I want Vincent Price complaining "You're sittin' on my money!" to be my ring tone.

66. Playtime (1967)

65. The Night of the Iguana (1964)

64. The Jungle Book (1967)

63. Bedazzled (1967)

62. The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
My favorite of the Roger Corman/Vincent Price AIP horror films, and this one Hazel Court, Jane Asher, and some beautiful production design.

61. Hell in the Pacific (1968)

Not much commentary today, but I had a bad night, give me a break. Tomorrow: the next 20.

Random Thoughts

:: So, if Belloq was going to take the Ark of the Covenant back to Berlin (in 1936) and Hitler was going to open it right in the heart of Nazi Central, but Indiana Jones trying to steal it made Belloq decide to open it on a remote island instead, does that make Indiana Jones indirectly responsible for World War II and the Holocaust?

:: So, Jay-Z is producing this update of Annie, and I saw a bunch of articles making fun of the fact that they're renaming Daddy Warbucks, calling him Benjamin Stacks. The character is now a Diddy type of hip hop mogul or whatever weird term they're using now. I just thought it was weird to see people slagging off what I thought was actually a clever decision, and I usually don't think modernizing things is that clever. I mean, you guys are telling me that calling a rich guy "Benjamin Stacks" as in a stack of hundred dollar bills is somehow inherently sillier than calling a rich guy who made his money in defense contracts "Oliver Warbucks"? It's kind of exactly the same thing. Whatever, people love to complain, I just thought it was clever.

:: Because I didn't have a low opinion of Anne Rice already?

: I'm having unjustified backlash feelings about nerd stuff these days. I think it's just because I see so much stuff on Tumblr and other websites where feelings about genre television, movies, etc, keep getting turned into a weird kind of conformed groupthink. I don't know if anyone else feels this way. It's just rubbing me the wrong way a little bit, because I still remember how different it was when I was a kid, back when being yourself meant taking a lot of shit if you were a nerd. I can't believe we still have to put up with the stereotyped shit of the "Game of Game of Thrones" sketch on this weekend's Saturday Night Live where everyone who's into something geeky is supposedly a creepy loser shut-in, and yet our stuff is the stuff everyone's talking about. Gee, maybe we're not a stereotype after all.

And yet, we have these people who want to wear it like it's some kind of badge of honor to be "different," but they all are starting to think exactly the same way, which kind of sucks when you feel like the only guy in the room who doesn't like Firefly. So much of it is people patting themselves on the back for "daring" to be different. Yeah, it takes real courage to be "different" when the biggest movies in the world have been superhero movies for years now.

I really want to like this movie, but that cheesy narration isn't doing the visuals any favors. I also keep hearing there may be human characters in this, which would kill my interest. Is it really too much to ask that someone do a film about dinosaurs with no human presence? You really don't need to hold my hand. Where's that Raptor Red movie I've been waiting for for 15 years?

:: Now there's a lawsuit against the makers of the Aliens: Colonial Marines video game. I'd heard it was a real disappointment; apparently someone's suing on the grounds that the demos were so different that it constitutes false advertising. Do we really live in a world now where people will file lawsuits over disappointment with a video game? I guess we do, because this isn't the first time it's happened in the last couple of years. That says to me that video games are just way too expensive. Because as much as I have the instinct to be the guy who says "Well, that's a frivolous way to deal with disappointment," if I dropped sixty or eighty bucks on a video game and it was incredibly unsatisfying, I'd be pretty pissed off, too.

:: You know, after hearing it 20 or 30 times, I'm not buying this story that Bill Murray did Garfield because he thought writer Joel Cohen was actually Joel Coen. Come on, Bill. Really? You're telling me you didn't even read it until you sat down in the booth to record it? I'd be willing to believe it if you hadn't done a second one. You know, it doesn't make you any less cool if you just admit you did it for the money. It's really okay. Stop telling this desperate, unbelievable story and just say "Eh, did it for the money." We're all okay with that. Sometimes you have to do things for money. Big fat hairy deal.

Monday, May 06, 2013

My 100 Favorite Films of the 1960s: 100-81

As threatened/promised a couple of weeks ago, here's another sixties list. I'll just assume you remember how I play and skip the ado and go right into the subjective, totally non-prestigious list of favorites. Also, there will be short films and cartoons on here because it's my list.

100. Hamlet (1969)
This list begins and ends with Marianne Faithfull.

99. Baron Prasil (1962)

98. The Vampire Lovers (1970)

97. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
One of my favorite Bond flicks, mainly because of Diana Rigg. Not to sell the film short on it's own, though.

96. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
My favorite Godzilla flick. Son of Godzilla came really close, though.

95. Take the Money and Run (1969)
Oddly enough, this is still the only Woody Allen film I own on DVD. It's not my favorite of his (though I love it), it's just the one I actually have.

94. Rasputin, the Mad Monk (1966)
A historical story played as a lurid horror film, with one of my favorite Christopher Lee performances ever.

93. Lord of the Flies (1962)

92. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

91. The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Two Shakespeare adaptations already on this list.

90. The Great Escape (1963)

89. Seven Days in May (1964)
Rod Serling wrote the adapted screenplay for this taut political thriller. Scared the hell out of me when I saw this as an idealistic liberal high school student.

88. Goldfinger (1964)

87. Tokyo Drifter (1966)
If you really care about great cinematography and you haven't seen this movie, fix that.

86. A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)
Third Shakespeare adaptation on the list, second film featuring Diana Rigg. One of my favorite Ian Holm performances ever.

85. The Naked Kiss (1964)
I wish Sam Fuller films were easier to get my hands on.

84. Cleopatra (1963)
Well, I've always liked it, derided as it is.

83. In the Heat of the Night (1967)

82. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963)

81. The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968)
From Marianne to Marianne.

Tomorrow: 80-61, but no Marianne.

Totally Rooting for Jinkx Tonight on the Drag Race Finale

Bless this film. After a few episodes, I actually told Becca I thought it would be wonderful to make a film like this with Jinkx, and I'm very happy someone did.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Song of the Week: "You're So Good to Me"

It's too nice out today to not have some Beach Boys. 1965, from Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!). It was also the B-side to "Sloop John B."