Hey everyone. It's been long delayed, but here's the sequel to my first "Movie Batch" list.
Before I get to the main list, let me warm up your appetite by featureing some movies in the 1970-1989 time period I've either forgot to put or have just recently seen that I'd like to add to my favorites list.
One of two documentaries to make the batch. This movie pretty much covers the famous music festival of the same name. Among the performers are Canned Heat, Richie Havens, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, and Jimi Hendrix. If you're a classic rock fan, Woodstock is a documentary that you must check out (and don't make any other plans, since the 1994 director's cut clocks in at nearly 4 hours).
The Twelve Chairs (1970)
Of all the movies in Mel Brooks' filmography, this one is probably his most overlooked. Loosely based on the Ill and Petrov story of the same name, it centers around a former aristocrat (Ron Moody) and a con man (Frank Langella) who team up to search for one chair in a set of twelve. The reason being since one of the twelve chairs has all of his mother-in-law's diamond sewed into them. But they have to overcome alot of obsticles, particulary a greedy priest (Dom DeLuise). Sure this movie may not be a parody film like most other Mel Brooks films, but this is a slapstick classic that you have to check out.
The French Connection (1971)
One the many "anti-hero" movies of the 1970s. Alot of theses movies seem to capture the gritty and cynical attitude of '70s culture. The film stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider as two New York City police officers who try to stop a narcotics ring between France and NYC. All the action scenes are awesome in this crime film but the car chase is by far one of the action scenes in film history (just behind the car chase in Bullitt).
Dirty Harry (1971)
If one anti-hero movie wasn't enough in one year, how about another one (and one that will have more longevity). While Clint Eastwood was familiar to audiences before Dirty Harry, this movie made him into one of the greatest badasses to ever to grace the silver screen. The plot is as follows: A sadistic serial killer known as Scorpio (Andy Robinson) is terrorizing San Fransisco and a cop who plays against the rules (Clint Eastwood) is on hot pursuit. While French Connection had memorable action scenes, Dirty Harry has memorable quotes (i.e. "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"
La PlanÃ¨te Sauvage (Fantastic Planet) (1973)
You guys asked for it, here's a mostly obscure '70s movie. Sometime in the distant future, humans have been taken by creatures known as Draags to their home planet. There, the humans have been either domesticated or let loose and become wild (only to be exterminated periodically) One particular human, named Terr (play on "terrible), gains knowledge from the Draags and soon plots to revolt against them. Though a completely bizarre movie, this is a best example of the independent animation projects (films or shorts) that were released around that time.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
After one messed up attempt, I just recently watched a copy of this movie that I rented, and boy was I in for a surprise. When state attorney general Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) realizes that his railroad will go through the valueable land that is occupied by the town of Rock Ridge, he devises a plan that would make the townspeople leave: Hire a black railroad worker (Cleavon Little) to be the sheriff of Rock Ridge. Sure enough, the townspeople are outraged by their new sheriff, but they soon let bygones be bygones when they discover Lamarr's plans. The climax of Blazing Saddles literally destroys the fourth wall and can't be described by mere words. This movie (and Young Frankenstein) is Mel Brooks at his creative peak. Blazing Saddles deserves all the honors that it has been bestowed with.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
One of only three movies in cinema history to win all of the major Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay (Original/Adapted)). After seeing the movie for the first time, Cuckoo's Nest definately deserved all five of those awards. In an effort to avoid jail, Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to a mental institution. At first, he's relieved to be out of the hoosegow. But as time goes by, he realizes that life in the institution is worse than what jail could have been, thanks primarily to the dictatorial Nurse Rachet (Louise Fletcher). The acting performances are among cinema's greatest. Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, and Christopher "Judge Doom" Lloyd
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" (Like "Here's Johnny!", this quote will never get old). In this crazy black comedy film, news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is about to be fired due to poor ratings. On his show one night, he announces that on his last broadcast, he will commit suicide. Though he's fired on the spot, ratings go through the roof and the network revoks their decision, rehires Beale, and starts a new ranting show with Beale as the star. Head of the news division and best friend of Beale, Max Schumacher, tries to stop the network's manipulation of Beale. The ending is possibly one of the most unexpected and grim moments in cinema history.
Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same (1976)
There's only one way to describe this movie: MINDFUCK!!!
. Well, most of it. This movie covers the famed heavy metal group's 1973 performances in Madison Square Garden. Along with the performances, each of the band's four members appears in a "fantasy sequence" (and thus making this movie a giant mindfuck). As the title seems to suggest, the film's highest claim is the music, especially the live performances of "The Song Remains the Same"/"The Rain Song".
Silent Movie (1976)
I don't know about you, but I put Mel Brooks' directorial career into three eras: Golden Age (1968-1976), Silver Age (1977-1987), and Bronze Age (1991-1995). Silent Movie ends Brooks' golden age with a silent bang. Mel Brooks, Dom DeLuise, and Marty Feldman star in this briliantlly funny homage to classic silent comedy as Mel Funn, Dom Bell, and Marty Eggs. The movie centers on the trio's efforts to recruit big name actors (i.e. Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman, and Anne Bancroft (Mel Brooks' real life wife from 1964 until her death in 2005)) to star in the first major silent movie in 30 years. The main reason I love this film is the way Mel Brooks perfectly captures the frenetic and fast paced energy of classic slapstick. If you're a Mel Brooks fan, put this to the top of your Netflix queue (I believe it's still on Instant Play as well) and soon you'll get the urge to also see the classic comedies that inspired this comedy classic.
High Anxiety (1977)
Shortly after paying tribute to classic slapstick, Mel Brooks soon turned his attention to paying tribute to the Master of Suspense himself: Alfred Hitchcock. Like his previous film, Mel Brooks is the leading star. This time around, he plays the administrator of The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous mental hospital. Upon arriving, he notices stranges things occuring in the institute walls. And if that wasn't bad enough, he is soon framed for murder. The only way to clear his name is to overcome his anxiety disorder. High Anxiety seems to combine elements of previous Mel Brooks films (making fun of an entire genre of movies instead of just one movie) and his later films (more background gags and a bigger budget).
National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)
"They took the bar. They took the whole f***ing bar" (Personally, I find this quote to be better than "Toga! Toga!"). Even though it doesn't have Chevy Chase, a whole lot of frat humor makes up for that. As far as plot goes, the whole movie is pretty much the misadventures of a few members of the "Delta House" fraternity. Like Blazing Saddles, this movie deserves all the honors it could ever recieve.
The Castle of Cagliostro (1979/1991)
One of seven films in the batch to be directed by the wizard of anime: Hayao Miyazaki. Based on the popular manga and anime series, Lupin III, Castle of Cagliostro deals with the notorious gentleman theif's attempt to uncover the secrets of the counterfeit money ring that harbors from the small country of Cagliostro. And in the process, Lupin and his gang soon try to rescue a princess from the evil Count of Cagliostro. While it may not showcase the elements that we usually associate with Miyazaki, the Castle of Cagliostro still is a very fun movie to watch.
The Black Stallion (1979)
I've seen this movie before and loved it. Sadly though, I forgot to put it in the first. This was the first of three films that director Caroll Ballard did with the theme of friendships with humans and animals (his other two were "Fly Away Home" and "Duma"). When a ship capsizes one night, a boy and a mysterious black horse swim to a stranded island. Eventually, a friendship starts between the boy and horse. When they are rescued, the boy lets the horse stay with a retired racehorse jockey (played wonderfully by Mickey Rooney) and eventually enters the horse into a race. Though not as good as Ballard's later movie, Duma, this is a great forshadowing of his later animal movies.
Quite possibly the greatest sci-fi/horror movie ever made. Somewhere in deep space, a towship lands on a planetoid to find out where the transmission the ship recieved was sent. After the ship leaves the planetoid, all hell breaks loose soon after. An alien is soon running around in the ship (first as a little chestburster alien) and soon kills all but one member of the crew. Now, the lone crew member (Sigourney Weaver) has to not only escape the ship, but also destroy the alien before it gets her. While it is second to Star Wars Episode IV for the title of best sci-fi movie, Alien is, without a doubt, the best post-Hitchcock suspense movie ever made.
Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
Life of Brian in a nutshell: Basically Monty Python and the Holy Grail in biblical times instead of medieval times. At first glance, one might expect this movie to be a parody of the life of a certain son of God. While Jesus Christ is mentioned twice in the movie, Life of Brian is really a parody on people who take the beliefs of religion too seriously. While I was laughing throughout this movie, I don't consider it to be better than Holy Grail, nor inferior. Holy Grail and Life of Brian are both equally hysterical laugh riots from the cast of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
The Warriors (1979)
The most badass movie of the '70s (next to Dirty Harry). Loosely inspired by the Ancient Greek story of "Anabasis", the story centers around the Warriors, a Coney Island based gang who is framed for the murder of the leader of NYC's most powerful gang: Gramercy Riffs . The Warriors have two obsticles to overcome: Make it from Woodlawn to Coney Island in one piece and find out who actually killed the Gramercy Riffs' leader. This movie does a superb job of raising suspense and tension throughout and in the end, a semi-epic climax and a rockin' Eagles song is our reward for our paitience.
A couple years back, the American Film Institute named Caddyshack 7th greatest sports movie in their "10 Top 10" special. Though golf does play a major role in the movie, I consider this to be anything but a sports film. It's pretty much a comedy with golf thrown in to give a good reason for the film's madness. The plot is about a caddy who is trying to get to get a college scholarship. He takes part in a series of golf related misadventures. Though Chevy Chase and some of the other actors in the movie are funny, the ones that stand out are Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The first Saturday Night Live movie to make the list. Two musicians: Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) Blues, try to save the orphanage they were raised in from forclosure. In their adventure, they make enemies in the Neo-Nazis, a country and western band, and a strange woman- all while being chased by the cops. Though not as good as Animal House (another John Landis directed movie starring John Belushi), Blues Brothers makes up for that with kick ass car chases (probably the best since Bullitt), catchy blues songs from the titular duo, and performances from James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles.
This is Elvis (1981)
Before Imagine: John Lennon, Andrew Solt and David L. Wolper collaborated on another rock and roll documentary. Like the John Lennon documentary, this movie makes extensive use of archive footage, but this movie also has new filmed footage that appears in the beginning, middle, and end. The narration is done by pop singer Ral Donner, who is also an Elvis-soundalike. There are two versions of this movie to chose: the original 1981 theatrical version and the 1983 expanded video version. Watching this movie makes me wonder why Warner Bros. didn't rerelease this movie in theaters when Lilo and Stitch became popular in theaters (Lilo and Stitch brought a brief resurgance in Elvis popularity)
History of the World: Part I (1981)
Believe it or not, I find this movie to be funnier than Spaceballs. Don't flame me, I have my reasons. Before I get to those reasons, here's the plot. Basically five segments that parody certain moments in human history: The Dawn of Man, The Old Testament, The Roman Empire, The Spanish Inquisition, and The French Revolution. If you've seen this movie, you have to admit the Inquisition, French Revolution, and fake trailer segments are just laugh out loud hysterical. This is one of those movies that is absolutely screaming for a sequel (even if the one they promote in the film is fake).
Twilight Zone: the Movie (1983)
In this contemporary film version of the TV classic, four directors create their own versions of memorable Twilight Zone episodes (the first director's segment was an original idea based on a few episodes). Though I'm starting to get familiar with the Twilight Zone, I seem to notice that each of the segments are done in it's director's style. Though three of the four segments are great, my favorite has to be the third segment: Joe Dante's retelling of "It's A Good Life"
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984/1985/2005)
The first TRUE
Hayao Miyazaki movie (while Castle of Cagliostro was a great movie, it was merely an adaptation of a popular tv show, right down the art style). Based on his popular manga series of the same name, the plot takes place in a post-apoctolyptic world thousands years into the future. After the event that caused the near extinction of humanity, small groups of humans are scattered across, seperated by the massive toxic jungle. The main heroine, Princess Nausicaa, has to not only keep other kingdoms from starting wars with her kingdom (which happens to be the Valley of the Wind), but also needs to stop the massive bugs known as Ohmus from attacking the valley. I know what you're thinking, Nausicaa is basically sort of on the lines of Avatar. Well, after you see this movie, you'll see that this (and any other Miyazaki movie) blows Avatar out of the water and beyond Pandora (excuse the joke).
Before Little Mermaid and Studio Ghibli's Ponyo, Disney first got involved with mermaids in this funny comedy starring Tom "Woody" Hanks, Daryl Hannah, and the late great John Candy. In Touchstone Pictures' (Disney's film label for distributing films with mature content) very first feature, workaholic Allen Bauer (Hanks) is having a very wobbly love life. When going to Cape Cod one day, he is saved from drowning by a mermaid (Hannah). Sometime after Bauer returns to NYC, he is reunited with the mermaid (she is soon given the name "Madison"). What Bauer don't know is that a short tempered scientist (Eugene Levy) is after Madison, trying to prove the existence of mermaids. As far as Disney's three mermaid films go, Splash is better than Little Mermaid and is equally entertaining as Ponyo.
Though I'm not a fan of Mozart (or most classical music for that matter), this Best Picture winning bio-pic is entertaining enough to actually make me listen to one of his symphonies. Though the title seems to suggest that this film is primarily about Mozart (he is one of the primary characters though), the focus is shifted more towards composer Antonio Salieri, the man who many thought was responsible for Mozart's death. The movie consists of Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) retelling his fierce rivalry and jealously of younger composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce). Like Cuckoo's Nest (which Milos Forman also directed (and also won an Oscar)), the acting stands out the most, especially Tom Hulce's Mozart. Gotta love that Pee-wee Herman like laugh his spews out at times.
Basketball is a sport that always alluded me. Though I think the sport is sort of overrated, that didn't stop me from enjoying Hoosiers. The movie is a loose adaptation of the 1954 Milan High School basketball champion team. Though it's no Chariots of Fire (actually, no sports movie will ever be as excellent as Chariots), this is a fun sports movie and Gene Hackman's performance stands out.
Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)
Pee-wee Herman, again, has always alluded me. I had a desire to see this movie, not because of the main character, but of the fact that this was Tim Burton's feature film directorial debut (I am a pretty big fan of Burton). When his prized bicycle is stolen, Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) goes on a cross country (mis)adventure to get it back. The best scene in the movie is without a doubt the chase between Pee-wee and studio security at the Warner Bros. lot. Even if you're not too familiar with Pee Wee, you'll definately enjoy Tim Burton's directorial debut.
Ah yes, my favorite movie of all time. But this isn't one of those movies that you see and immediately understand. Before you watch Brazil, you need to do the following: Read either Fahrenheit 451 or Nineteen Eighty-Four and watch Monty Python (either the show or any of the movies). The story takes place in a dystopian city that reminds one of the setting of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. In this city, a bureaucrat named Sam Lowry (Jonathon Pyrce) is sent to fix an error involving the false arrest of a shoe maker. In the process, Lowry soon becomes an enemy of the state and gets involved with notorious freelancer Archibal "Harry" Tuttle (Robert DeNiro) and a woman whom appears in Lowry's dreams (Kim Greist). This is a film that one must see in their lifetime, even if your opinion is good, bad, or mixed in the end.
Castle in the Sky (1986/1989/2003)
The first of 7 Studio Ghibli films (5 of which are directed by Hayao Miyazaki) in the movie batch. In this action epic, a young miner and a mysterious girl team up to find a mysterious castle known as Laputa. But in their efforts to find the castle, they have to overcome pirates and government agents who want the keep the duo from finding Laputa. Castle in the Sky is not only a great follow up to Nausicaa, but a great way to introduce Studio Ghibli to the world.
First time I saw clips of this movie, I thought at it was going to suck. I was expecting James Cameron to forsake the suspense element that was put in place by Ridley Scott and replace it with flat out action (not that it's a bad thing when in comes to Cameron, but the suspense is what truely made the original a classic). After seeing it for the first time, it blew me away. Not only did it keep the suspense factor, the action scenes were friggin' amazing. Just like the original, it deals with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) dealing with the alien from the first movie. Only this time around, there are more than one alien. She also gets some help from the Marines instead of doing it alone. While one would have to watch the original to know the primary protagonist, it isn't really mandotory. So if you haven't seen, what are you waiting for?
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
When you think of John Candy, chances are this John Hughes classic will immeadiately be the first in your mind. The plot is simple, two guys (Steven Martin and John Candy) are trying to get back to Chicago for Thanksgiving. When a snow storm forces their plane to land in Kansas, the duo go through misadventure after misadventure to get back to Chicago. What truely makes this movie work is the chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy. It's really hilarious to see what mess what mess Candy will put Martin in next. Definately recommended if you want to be introduced to John Candy.
The Untouchables (1987)
One of three police movies I've seen (the others being the mediocre comedy known as Police Academy and one of it's sequels). Of the three, this one is obviously the best ((mostly) anything is better than Police Academy). Based on the novel and 1959 TV series of the same name, the movie takes place in Prohibition era Chicago, the capital of orgazined crime in the 1930s. A group of police officers known as the Untouchables (Kevin Coster, Sean "James Bond" Connery, Andy GarcÃa, and Charles Martin Smith) try to arrest the leader of the organized crime and bootlegging ring of Chicago: Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). Even though I haven't seen the original TV show, The Untouchables is a great action flick that will definately leave you on the edge of your seat (or your couch)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988/1994)
One of two Studio Ghibli films in the batch NOT
to be directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is also one of two anti-war films in the list. If you think Bambi's mother buying the farm is sad, wait 'til you see Grave of the Fireflies. Taking place during the 1945 firebombing of Kobe, Grave of the Fireflies deals with two kids: Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, who are trying to survive on their own in war-devastated Japan. As far as anti-war films go, Grave of the Fireflies is up there with Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. If you ever see this movie on the shelf, give it a view (and no, the DVD doesn't come with a box of tissues)
My Neighbor Totoro (1988/1993/2006)
Hands down, the best movie from Hayao Miyazaki. It's strange that this movie and Grave of the Fireflies were released on the same bill, a really sad movie followed by a feel good movie. But let's get on with Totoro. Two sisters: Satsuki and Mei, move into a new house in the countryside. Upon arriving, they both discover that in the huge camphor tree next to their house, there lives a giant forest spirit known as Totoro, which can only be seen through the eyes of kids. Totoro soon takes the girls on amazing adventures and introduces them to fantastic creatures (including the awesome Cat-Bus). Even though it's short, My Neighbor Totoro is a really magical and excellent animated film and should be as exposed as any other famous animated feature.
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
Though Naked Gun isn't as funny as Airplane!, this movie does a terrific job of paying tribute the hilarious TV show it is based on. As the title implies, the movie based on the short lived but acclaimed TV series Police Squad! On duty one night, Officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson) is shot several times while trying to stop a heroin operation started by millionaire Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo MontalbÃ¡n). Soon after, Nordberg's collegue Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is hot on the trail to figure out who shot Nordberg. And in true Police Squad fashion, hijinks ensue when Drebin is on the case. This movie does a terrific job of capturing the comedic style and writing of the TV masterpiece. If you've seen this movie, but haven't seen the show it's based on, watch it. You'll be glad you did.
Roger and Me (1989)
This is the movie that made Michael Moore a notable person in American cinema and politics. In Roger and Me, the Flint native is out on a national search for then General Motors chairman Roger Smith, in an attempt to get answers on why the plants in Flint were closed down and thousands were left without jobs. Whether you like Moore or not, one thing's for sure, you can't deny that this is the best (and the funniest) movie he created.
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989/1998)
While Totoro is my favorite movie from Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki's Delivery Service is a very close second. In this high flying coming of age tale, Kiki takes part in witch custom to leave her home at age 13, go to another town, and train to be a witch in the new town for an entire year. Upon arriving in her new town, she has to overcome many hardships of life in a new town. And in the process, she discovers that her powers don't come from magic, but by simply believing in herself. Without a doubt, one of the greatest coming of age stories ever told and as far a English dubs go, Kiki's Delivery Service has one of the best (Kirsten Dunst and Phil "Troy McClure" Hartman are very enjoyable to listen to when they perform their characters).
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Here's another movie I accidently left out of the first list. In this third installment in the series, the Griswalds (Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo at the helm) decide to stay home for the holidays (some vacation). Their quiet holiday gets disturbed when Clark and Ellen's parents come over and the family of the lovable Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) unexpectedly come over and a series of holiday hijinks ensue. Like European Vacation, though it's not as good as the original, it's still hilarious in it's own way.
Now that we got that out of the way, on to the new list.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
What good way to start the new list with the sequel to the movie that ended the last batch. Again, though not a good as the original, this ending to the epic trilogy is good in it's own way. Starting off where part II ended, Marty McFly takes the DeLorean that Doc Brown has hidden in a mine shaft and goes back to 1885, against Doc Brown's wishes. In the process, Marty needs to stop Biff's ancestor from murdering Doc Brown. Out of all the trilogy, this movie has the most clever variation of Biff Tannen.
Dick Tracy (1990)
While a certain Tim Burton comic book movie is way superior than Dick Tracy, Disney's adaptation of the newspaper comic strip is entertaining nonetheless. Like the Untouchables, the setting is Prohibition-era Chicago (though this time around, it looks more colorful than what Chicago actually looked like the '30s). Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) is in a struggle to arrest notorious crime boss "Big Boy" Caprice (Al Pacino). But before he can arrest Big Boy, Tracy needs to get through Big Boy's colorful henchmen (i.e. Flatop, Mumbles, and Pruneface). The look of the film literally feels like a comic come to life. While the plot goes on a bit too long (read the Crazy Childhood review of Dick Tracy for more info.), Dick Tracy is an adquetely satisfying film.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
I don't know about you, but I think this movie is really underrated. Sure, Kevin Costner couldn't do an English accent for his character, but who the hell cares. This is a great '90s movie. The characters who steal the show are the Sheiriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) and Robin's Arab sidekick, Azeem (Morgan Freeman). And besides, how could you not find the overture in the beginning to be epic (Disney even uses it for crying out loud!!)
Hot Shots! (1991)
If making fun of disaster movies and police TV shows wasn't enough for Airplane and Police Squad/Naked Gun co-creator Jim Abrahams, he soon set his sights on action films. In a plotline similar to a certain Tom Cruise action film (Top Gun), Hot Shots revolves around a pilot (Charlie Sheen) who is talented but mentally unstable. His condition soon interferes with his mission: To blow up Saddam Hussein's nuclear plants. While it's nowhere as hysterical as Airplane, Police Squad, or Naked Gun, Hot Shots still has the usual trademarks that made the former three movies funny.
Batman Returns (1992)
This movie may have been more dark than the first movie, but that's what made it kick ass. The style of this movie is a combination of the Oscar winning designs of the first movie and Tim Burton's own distinct style. Like the first movie, the villians are the real stars of the movie. In this case, Michelle Pfeiffer's seductive Catwoman and Danny DeVito's creepy and digusting Penguin.
Wayne's World (1992)
I haven't seen the SNL sketch, but man is this movie funny. The film revolves around Wayne Campell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey). Both run a popular cable tv show from Wayne's basement and a coperate sponser comes along and tries to steal the show from the two. The highlight of the movie are the jokes, especially the Bohemian Rhapsody scene. This movie is "The Producers" for the '90s: A comedy that gets funnier with each viewing.
I think it's pretty obvious which is Clint Eastwood's most famous western (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). Though this western won Eastwood the Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards, nobody really seems to bring up this movie anymore. I really think this film should be as exposed as much as his spaghetti westerns. The story is about a aging gunslinger (Clint Eastwood) who takes one more job, alongside his partner in crime (Morgan Freeman). One of the obsticles they need to overcome is the brutal sheriff of Big Whiskey, Wyoming (Gene Hackman). This movie perfectly captures how the American West was really like: a violent and gritty era. Gene Hackman's character is possibly my favorite movie villian of all time.
Porco Rosso (1992/2005)
One of Hayao Miyazaki's lesser known films in the U.S. Though once you see it, you'll wish that Porco Rosso was as well known as Miyazaki's recent features. Set during the rise of fasicism in Italy, the film revolves around Porco Rosso, a seaplane pilot who makes his living as a bounty hunter. As his name implies, Porco is under a curse that changed his face into that of a pig. When a cocky American seaplane pilot arrives on the scene, he provides Porco with a constant challenge to shot one another from the sky. This movie returns to the action filled formula used by Castle in the Sky while adding humor to it as well.
If you've read my "Top 10 Pre-Retro Junk Movies" and "Top 7 Comic Actors" lists, you probably know that I'm a big fan of Charlie Chaplin. So when this movie popped up in my Netflix Instant recommendations, I knew I had to give it a view. My final verdict: Pretty long, but satisfying in the end. As the film's title suggests, this film is a bio-pic on the life of film legend Charlie Chaplin (played wonderfully by Robert "Iron Man" Downey Jr.). The film spans from Chaplin's childhood in London to his Honorary Academy Award acceptance in 1973. If you've always wanted to know about the life of Charlie Chaplin or you aren't that familiar with him, this bio-pic is for you.
Schindler's List (1993)
Don't make me talk about this movie too much. Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent piece of cinema, but's it makes a viewer so depressed after watching it. You really need to see it to know about the plot.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Ah yes, the greatest Spielberg blockbuster ever. Based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same name, a billionaire (Chaplin director Richard Attenborough) creates a theme park featuring cloned dinosaurs that were created from the blood of a prehistoric mosquito that was fossilized in amber. He invites a couple of archeologists (Sam Neill and Laura Dern) and a chaotician (Jeff Goldblum) for a sneak preview of the park. When a spy for a rival company (Wayne Knight) shuts off the power throughout the island, all hell breaks loose as all the dinosaurs are now free to roam around. What can I say that hasn't been said about this movie, it just kicks so much ass.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Even though emo and goth kids are starting to seriously make this movie a bit overrated, Tim Burton and Henry Selick's stop motion Halloween/Christmas story is still entertaining enough to watch when those two holidays arrive. Jack Skellington is a popular figure in Halloween Town. Though he's starting to lose interest in the holiday that the town embodies. One day, he falls down into Christmas Town and soon starts planning his own version of the aformentioned holiday, with near disasterous results. While not my favorite Christmas film (or Tim Burton film for that matter), Nightmare Before Christmas is still entertaining and, for now, watchable.
Being that AIDS was in the news at the time of this film's release, Philadelphia takes a touchy look at the dilemas of HIV/AIDS sufferers. The film centers Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) who contracts the HIV virus, which eventually turns into AIDS. He is soon fired from his job and seeks to challenge the company he worked for in court. He hires a lawyer (Denzel Washington) who is homophobic and knows little about Beckett's condition. Eventually, he does his part in helping Beckett win the court case. While Philadelphia doesn't have any tear jerker scenes like Grave of the Fireflies or Schindler's List, this movie does make you feel a bit depressed after watching it. That said, you should see it if you want to know how the AIDS epidemic was treated in the '80s and early '90s
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
I don't really think I need to introduce Batman the Animated Series. We're already aware that show is one of the greatest cartoons, scratch that, greatest tv shows to ever be on the airwaves. Since the show was a smash hit, Warner Bros. felt it was obvious to make a feature film based on the show. Somewhere in Gotham City, a masked vigilante is killing Gotham's crime bosses. It's not Batman, but the appearence of the killer has him potrayed as a killer. But Batman isn't the only one trying to catch the vigilante. The Joker is not only looking for the identity of the killer, but also seeks to kill it. This movie contains all the elements that made the TV show a smash, most notably Mark "Luke Skywalker" Hamill's Joker.
Another sports movie from Hoosiers director David Anspaugh. This time, college football is the main focus here. This movie is the story of legendary Notre-Dame football player Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger. The movie shows his struggles to not only get into the University of Notre Dame, but to also play on the school's famed football team. Like Hoosiers, while it's nowhere as awesome as Chariots of Fire, the movie is still worthwhile entertainment.
Wayne's World 2 (1993)
One of the few sequels out there that actually manages to be as entertaining as the original. Wayne and Garth are back. This time, they put on a rock 'n' roll concert known as Waynestock. At the same time, Wayne needs to stop his girlfriend's manager (Christopher Walken) from wooing her away from him. This movie captures all the energy from the first movie and the result is a movie that is equally funny and rewatchable
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The quintessential movie to be based on a Stephen King book. Andrew Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to jail after murdering his wife. While in prison, he starts a close friendship with his fellow inmate, Red (Morgan Freeman). Both of them soon go through an unforgetable journey in the walls of the jail. As far as Stephen King movies go, Shawshank is just a great as the Shining, only without the creepy ass imagery.
Forrest Gump (1994)
The last good movie from Robert Zemeckis (I can't speak for Contact). Though not as good as the Back to the Future trilogy and nowhere as great as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump is still one of my favorite Best Picture winners. The whole movie is pretty much the story of a simple minded southern man (Tom Hanks) who goes through several periods of American history, meeting up with famous figures here and there (i.e. JFK, Richard Nixon, & John Lennon). A sentimental favorite that should definately be seen in one's lifetime.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Quite possibly the funniest movie with Jim Carrey. Like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, this movie is a buddy comedy. This time around, an idiot and an even bigger idiot are at the helm. Two guys (Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey) go on a cross country road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado to return a briefcase to it's owner (Carrey's then girl friend Lauren Holly). If getting there wasn't funny enough, even more hilarity ensues when they finally arrive in Colorado. If you haven't seen it, SEE IT DAMN YOU!!!
The Mask (1994)
This is my second favorite Carrey movie and possibly the one we all know him by. Based on the comic book series of the same name, this movie centers around bank worker and nice guy Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey). One day, he takes home a strange mask that when put on, turns him into a greenfaced trickster with special mindbending powers. What I really loved most about the movie is not just the effects of Mask (which one of the few times CGI is used correctly), but the many tributes to the Golden Age of Animation (particulary the Looney Tunes and the works of Tex Avery). If only the sequel was as good as the original
Ed Wood (1994)
In my opinion this is not only Tim Burton's best film, but the best Burton film to have Johnny Depp. As the title implies, this movie is a look at the king of cinema schlock: Edward D. Wood Jr (Depp). The movie covers the production of three of his (in)famous flops: Glen or Glenda (PULL THE STREENG!!!), Bride of the Monster, and of course, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Along for ride is BÃ©la Lugosi (hilariously played by Martin Landau (who won Best Supporting Actor for this role)), Wood's frustrated girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker), and his openly gay friend (Bill Murray). If you want to get into a media industry (especially film), you absolutely need to give this comedy a view.
A sentimental favorite from my childhood. Based on Chris Van Allsburg's book of same name, the story centers on two siblings (Bradley Pierce and Kirsten "Kiki" Dunst) who find the titular board game in their new house. They soon discover that when ever each one of them rolls the dice, strange things come out of the game. One of theme includes a man (Robin Williams) who was trapped in the game. Now, all three of them need to complete the game before all the jungle animals they unleashed cause even more pandemonium. While the CGI effects are very bland (c'mon, they were done by Industrial Light & Magic of all companies. You think they would make the animals look more believeable), this movie is still very entertaining (unlike it's spiritual sequel, Zathura).
When will all those morons in Hollywood today learn that talking animal movies need to be done the same way as this family classic. A farmer (James Cromwell) wins a piglet a local fair. The piglet, named Babe, soon makes friends with all of the animals on the farm. He starts a particular friendship with the sheepdogs and soon wants to take on sheepherding. This movie showcases what talking animal movies should have: story, developed characters, and most importantly, heart.
Whisper of the Heart (1995/2006)
The other non-Miyazaki Studio Ghibli film on the list. While it may go on a bit too long and the ending is really abrupt, Whisper of the Heart is as enjoyable as a any Studio Ghibli film. The plot (which is excuted in a similar fashion to Kiki's Delivery Service) is about a girl who is about to graduate from junior high school. She loves reading books, especially fairy tales. She notices that all the books that she read have been previously checked out by the same person: Seiji Amasawa. Interested to find out who this fellow is, she soon meets a boy that has here aggrivated at first. She soons finds out (initially to her chagrin) that the boy is actually her "Prince of Books". All in all, this movie is a down to earth version of Kiki's Delivery Service and is as entertaining as Kiki.
Beavis and Butthead Do America (1996)
The second TV based animated film to make the list (the first being Castle of Cagliostro). This time around, the movie follows the misadventures of MTV's titular idiotic duo. Beavis and Butthead (both voiced by creator Mike Judge) discover that their TV set has been stolen and they go on a cross country adventure to get it back. Along the way, they get in the path of a smuggler (Bruce Willis) carrying a deadly virus and his equally dangerous wife (Demi Moore). As in the tv show, the Beavis and Butthead are completely unaware how dangerous they are and are soon placed on the FBI's most wanted list for possesion of the virus. Even if your not familar with the TV show (as I was when I first saw this movie), you'll be laughing out loud.
Mars Attacks! (1996)
One of Tim Burton's most overlooked films. In this briallant homage to 1950s sci-fi movies, aliens that are heading for Earth are seen by USA satellites. Upon hearing this, the president (Jack Nicholson) thinks that the aliens are coming in peace. Upon arrival however, they soon start destroying places and killing people. Mainly because it's their idea of fun. This is a funny movie (the deaths of the aliens still makes me laugh) and if your a Burton fan, definately check it out.
Liar Liar (1997)
Back to Jim Carrey. In this quirky comedy, Carrey plays a lawyer who, of course, always lies. When his son makes a birthday wish in which his father could not tell a lie for an entire day, it puts him on the absolute edge. While it isn't hysterically funny like Dumb and Dumber or The Mask, Liar Liar is still pretty funny on it's own merits.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
This is the only sequel that is not only a follow up, but is also a remake of another movie (in this case, a remake of the 1925 silent film, The Lost World). Four years after the events of the first movie, we discover that there was another island that bred the dinosaurs before they were shipped to the theme park. Billionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) sents a team (led by Jeff Goldblum) to the island to document it before someone else does. Upon arriving, they notice another group on the island. But they're not there for biological data, rather, they have other plans for what to do with the dinosaurs. While not as good as the original, it manages to be a great remake of the Lost World. The dinosaur effects are still awesome as always (the T-Rex is still kicking ass in this sequel).
Princess Mononoke (1997/1999)
One more from Hayao Miyazaki. While it isn't as good as Nausicaa or Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke is still a phenominal looking and epic action movie. Despite the title, the true star of the movie is a young warrior named Ashitaka. While protecting his village from a demon boar, he is stricken with a lethal curse. The only way Ashitaka can get rid of the curse is to travel to the forests of the west. Upon arriving, he gets caught in the middle of a war between the gods of the forest and a nearby iron mining town. The leader of the iron mining side is the friendly but commanding Lady Eboshi, while the forest gods are being primarily led by San (aka. Princess Mononoke), a girl who was raised by the wolf-goddess of the forest. Ashitaka soon tries to stop the war, with each side having suspicions about him. As far as the english dub goes, while it's decent, it's mediocre compared to Disney's other dubs of Miyazaki's movies. If you either like epic action or just like Hayao Miyazaki's films, this movie's right up your alley.
The first movie from Pixar's primary competitor: Dreamworks Animation. Like most of their future movies, this one is done in computer animation (an animation form that both they and Pixar would make into the norm in the coming years). In a colony filled with millions of ants, one worker ant (Woody Allen) is wanting individuality. Being that he is smitten with the queen ant's daughter, Z trades places with a soldier ant so he can be near her. This soon results in Z going on the greatest adventure of his life. This movie is a great debut for Pixar and (for now) the only movie with Woody Allen that I enjoy.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
While Antz gave us a taste of the type of animation that Dreamworks would continue to use, Prince of Egypt shows another form of animation that was shortlived at the studio. This movie is pretty much an animated version of the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments, only with pretty good songs added in. Not counting the bits and pieces I've seen of Cecil B. DeMille's take on the Ten Commandments, this is the only film version of the Bible story I've seen. For a non-Disney animated movie it's pretty good (though it falls short on the next two non-Disney animated movies) and I wish that Dreamworks would have continued doing hand drawn features after Sinbad (thank you Jeffery Katzenberg)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The last Spielberg movie on this list. After doing a movie on the Holocaust, Steven Spielberg soon set his sights on the overall battles of World War II. Opening with the historic D-Day Invasion at Normandy, this war epic follows the 2nd Ranger Battalion (led by Tom Hanks) and their mission to save Private Ryan (Matt Damon), after his three brothers were killed in battle. To date, this has to be the most graphic war film ever made and should not be seen if you have a weak stomach. While it isn't my favorite Spielberg movie, this one is in the Top 5.
The Truman Show (1998)
One more from Jim Carrey on this list. This time around, instead of a quirky comedy, we're looking at a dramady. Truman Burbank (Carrey) lives his everyday life like any other person. Unbeknownst to him, his life is actually a popular TV show that is being seen by billions around the planet. This movie is a great forshadowing on all the reality crap we get on the airwaves nowadays and one of Carrey's best since Dumb and Dumber.
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999)
If you though Beavis and Butthead Do America is funny, this movie adaptation of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's hit show will have you rolling on the floor. When Terrance and Phillip's movie opens in the small town of South Park, parents convince the U.S. government to place the duo under citizen's arrest. After declaring war on their northern neighbor Canada, Terrance and Phillip are sentenced to death. The boys (Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny) have to stop the execution before all hell breaks loose (literally). This movie is pretty much a feature length episode of the show, with a shit load of swearing added in. The result is pure animated hilarity.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Quite possibly the most overlooked animated movie ever made. Set in Cold War America, this epic animated movie centers on a boy who discovers and befriends a giant robot from space. He needs to make sure that the robot is not seen by anybody in his town, especially a government agent who wants to destroy the giant. Since this movie is from the guy who would blow us away five years later with Pixar's The Incredibles, Iron Giant is a great foreshadowing. That and this movie is produced by Pete Townshend (y'know, the guitarist from the Who)
Well, that concludes Movie Batch 2. Sorry for the huge delay. Hope you enjoy it.
Until next time, see ya!