Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time for a Movie List

The Shakespeare debate diversion didn't go that well. I expected to be flooded with readers wanting to discuss my opinion on the question, and all I've gotten so far is a promise from my friend Howard Kissel to pick up the topic again on his blog (see comment on my previous post for link to his side of the discussion). In the meantime he seems to be occupied with his real life of concerts, operas, and intellectual Manhattan soirees.

So let us move on to mundane matters: Let's talk about movies I like. I now subscribe to an online movie service--I guess that's what you call it--which keeps me supplied with DVD's almost daily. I'm well into my wish list of movies now, and expect to receive Milk in the mail today. That sounds like a pun, but it isn't. It's a movie I missed on the big screen.

I recommended Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day to a friend, and he and his wife liked it so much I made up a little list of some of my all time favorites for them and shall share it with you now. As to Miss Pettigrew, I unabashedly enjoyed the little whimsical romance and recommend it wholeheartedly as escapist fare. Following are some more from my list.

Romances you’ll probably enjoy:

Dan in Real Time (Steve Corell as a lovelorn bachelor who has fallen in love with his brother’s fiance; all works out after many laughs)
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (One of those new ones where a kinda jerk can’t get over his girlfriend until he runs into her at a beach resort w her new boyfriend who is an English rockstar asshole)

Two you’ve probably seen, but sheer delight:

Something’s Got To Give (this is the one with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, elegant NY and Hampton settings; he’s an old rouĂ© dating her daughter, finally they get together and come apart again, Edith Piaf songs in the background, etc. Don’t miss it if you haven’t seen it for some reason.)
Little Miss Sunshine (in which an endearingly goofy family takes off for Las Vegas to put their homely little girl in a child beauty contest. Many laughs on the trip and at the contest too.)

A very odd old one:
Little Voice (Michael Caine won an supporting actor nomination in this one of the late 90’s about a con man whose girlfriend’s sister can sing in the voice of Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and others. The actress playing the role actually did her own singing.)

An interesting take on losing your memories:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Jim Carrey wants to forget everything because of a love affair gone wrong. Very powerful, with a sensitive performance by our usually-nutty Jim Carrey)

Here’s one I thought was about me 15 years ago:
Passion Fish (A soap opera actress goes home to the bayou country after having an accident rendering her crippled. Very beautiful, touching, and it introduced me to the wonderful David Strathairn).

A tough one from last year that should have done better at the box office:
In Bruges (about English criminals, serious but with a few laughs. Beautifully photographed, unusual locale (“fuckin Bruges!”)

A beauty for Tommy Lee Jones fans, of which I am one:
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (A journey of despair and hope for a couple of hapless Texans. This one will take you way outside yourself and deposit you somewhere in the wilds of Mexico, far from the swine flu.) See it.


Jerry Andersen said...

Ok, I'll get the ball rolling. Here are some of my all time favorites:
The Quiet Man
To Kill a Mockingbird
Moby Dick
The Searchers
The African Queen
The Producers
Last of the Mohicans
Nobody's Fool

I am sure I will think of more, but nothing I've seen recently challenges these.

Mary Lois said...

A very good list, but it makes me wonder--have you seen a movie in the last 30 years?

Steve said...

OK, how about "Kiss me Kate."

A great Cole porter song in the movie is "Brush up your Shakespeare" (and the women you will wow.)

Mary Lois said...

Love that song! But maybe it should be "Brush Up Your de Vere"...

WillieWantsTo said...

But what about "Jake's Women"?? It explains how my professional writer friends live in imaginery dream worlds...

While my professional actor friends are busily going through as many adventures as possible making 'memory copies' to draw upon when they get a part.

Disclaimer: I am not sure writer and actor friends of mine really exist.

Mary Lois said...

I wonder if you have any psychiatrist friends. Actually I saw Jake's Women recently and found it a little stagey and predictable. But anything Alan Alda does, particularly if it's got a Neil Simon script, is okay with me.

Elmer Gantry said...

* Jackie Brown
* The Big Lebowski
* Pulp Fiction
* The Life of Brian
* Cool Hand Luke
* The Long Hot Summer
* The Searchers
* To Have and Have Not
* Blade Runner
* Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

Mary Lois said...

I wasn't listing all-time favorites, but now that you guys have gotten me started, how about these:

Gone with the Wind
From Here To Eternity
Singin’ in the Rain
The Manchurian Candidate (1962 version)
A Fish Called Wanda
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Sylvia Scarlett
National Velvet
The Grapes of Wrath

And this is just the beginning. Anybody got more to add? P.S. I loved The Big Lebowski and Cool Hand Luke too, as well as The Quiet Man, Casablanca, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Searchers, and Nobody's Fool.

We'll get to the foreign category next time.

ret marut said...

Here's a quick list of movies I'd willingly see more than once:

The Chronicles of Riddick
Into the Wild
All That Jazz
The Sound of Music
Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
Blade Runner
Bell Jar & Butterfly (OK,once was enough)
Big Lebowski
The African Queen
To Kill a Mockingbird
Man on Fire

I don't know what this illustrates in any of us, save to stumble onto some movie we haven't yet seen/heard of. It's such a personal thing, this business of movies, and one thing I've noticed watching my own kids pick favorites is that if it didn't sink into you when it was new, it's hard to make a good movie fresh. The medium is changing so fast. One of my own favorite kid movies was Mad mad mad mad world. It completely bored my kids, with the "old" cars, non-edgy slapstick humor...I was disappointed. Yet Sound of Music endures. How come?

Anonymous said...

Dear M.L.-- I hope you've learned an important lesson... a post about Shakespeare is never going to win out over a top ten list of movies! I don't think combining the two posts is the answer either -- "top ten movies based on Shakespeare?"(although Kiss Me Kate was on someone's list...) cheers to you! R. from JC

Hoboken Kid said...

Shakespeare--how come they never made a movie about him? They make movies about every one else. Have ya seen the picture of him? WHO IN THE WIDE WORLD WOULD WANT TO PLAY THE PART?

Da guy was a geek.

Best movies ever made were not made in Hollywood...the Aussies and Brits made the best movies, great story lines and great actors.

Mary Lois said...

Okay, movies about Shakespeare. There have been a few of them. Shakespeare in Love, comes to mind, an interesting concept, but it contends that the guy from Stratford wrote the plays. Oh well. Can't think of another.

As to the best movies being made by Brits and Aussies, there's a case to be made, but actually I'm not a snob like my friend Slezak. I would put the 1946 Great Expectations with John Mills on my list, and I'll never forget how much I loved Crocodile Dundee when it first came out.

Steve said...

Do Sergio Leone westerns count as foreign films?

•The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
•A Fist Full of Dollars
•For a Few Dollars More

“But how the world turns. One day, cock of the walk. Next, a feather duster.”

Hoboken Kid said...

SNOB? I don't think you're feeling well today, but that's ok, it will pass.

Great movies--CROCODILE DUNDEE?? That was a Mickey Mouse movie, amusing, maybe.

Another blast from the past was SINGING IN THE RAIN. That Kelly guy. Nice try, but DAN DAILEY should have got the part. Better dancer and actor. Dailey could dance with garbage can covers on his feet. (Try that, Kelly!)

I guess no one seen the Aussie movie called WALK ABOUT...a must see. The brits do wonders with their movies ..great stories and acting. BLOODY GOOD I MUST SAY

Mary Lois said...

You'll never know how many times I thought before calling you a snob, HK. But rejecting Hollywood like that was more than I could stand. Haven't seen Walkabout but you'll never convince me that Crocodile Dundee wasn't a good flick that did what it set out to do. I wouldn't call it a classic, but we're talking about favorites here. I've got nothing against Dan Dailey, but I enjoy Gene Kelley onscreen more. All a matter of personal opinion, as our friend "ret marut" suggests.

What the hell is a "ret marut" anyway?

Steve said...

Speaking of great Australian Films..."Breaker Morant"

A great line from that one was as the protaganists were facing a firing squad, the title character says "This is what comes of empire building"

Hoboken Kid said...

You ask what is a RET MARUT...I first thought it was a RETired-MAn-in a RUT...I was's a guy that gos to the movies in a tux wearing brown shoes...and can't tell a good movie when he sees one...I guess he's never seen BASIL RATBONE play in any of the SHERLOCK HOLMES series. His favorite movies, they all stunk. ...another great flick was 13 STEPS ...jolly good movie.

Mary Lois said...

Well, not all his choice stunk. I rather liked The Big Lebowski and so did Elmer Gantry. (I didn't like Elmer Gantry, by the way--one of the worst performances by any actress ever on a screen and she won an Oscar for it.) I haven't seen all the others, and didn't like Elizabethtown and was less captivated by The African Queen than most. All a matter of personal opinion, and obviously we all have 'em.

Arthur Bruso said...

The BEST thing about Kiss Me Kate was Ann Miller at the beginning of the movie dancing on the furniture in Noel Coward's supposed apartment and singing "It's to Darn Hot." She is auditioning to get a part in the play Noel is writing. It is the most bizarre, surreal and skillful song/dance number I have ever seen (including Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling). And Ann Miller makes it look somehow easy. This scene is not in the stage version of the musical. More's the pity. Maybe only Ann could pull it off.

Mary Lois said...

Damn! I must have been about 14 when I saw that movie last and don't remember the scene. Must catch it again when it comes on Turner Classic Movies. Actually I loved Howard Keel doing "I've Come to Wive It Wealthily in Padua," and also loved "We Open in Venice," but didn't think Kathryn Grayson was right for the role of Kate and was never all that comfortable with the gangsters and all that. I think Bob Fosse was one of the dancers.

Hoboken Kid said...

JAMES MASON, the king of the silver screen, with and without his hair. A few favorites to mention: LADY GODIVA RIDES AGAIN ----- PEEPING TOM ---WOMAN OF STRAW ----THE WICKED LADY ...flicks of the U.K. Fine acting at it winners.

Arthur Bruso said...

I agree that Kathryn Grayson was wrong for the partof Kate, she seem a little haughty and a bit like she was trying to be an artist in the face of Ann Miller's down to earth broad .She was also too short. They put heels on her tights for crying out loud in an effort to make her seem taller. It looked a little silly.

But it still may be better than seeing John Gielgud naked and playing with a toy boat in Prospero's Books.

Nan said...

In Bruges was amazing. Was there a sentence without a swear word? I don't think so. Whew. I really did like it. The girl in Little Voice is Jane Horrocks, who was great in The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard. But I loved her most in Ab Fab. :<)

Mary Lois said...

Certainly the language in In Bruges was a factor, but it came out so naturally it was kinda like the HBO "Deadwood" series, where the profanity almost took on a life of its own. Performances were powerful and, like "Deadwood," you couldn't help but think, "That's how they talked!"

Arthur, I missed Prospero's Books, but you've convinced me that was okay. I'm trying to think who should have gotten the role of Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate but all I can think of is they should have gone to NYC and taken Patricia Morison from the stage version. She had had a movie career, such as it was, earlier, and had the height and gravitas to stand up to Howard Keel, I'm sure. Can't think of another singer-actress of that time frame who might have pulled it off.

All those movie stars were tiny, even most of the men!

ZenDenizen said...

It's actually Dan in Real Life O:)

Mary Lois said...

Zen D: You're right! It's Steve Carell, too. Good movie though, didn't you think?

ZenDenizen said...

Yup, Dan in Real Life was heartwarming and wonderfully acted and I'm not even the romantic comedy type.

Jess said...

Like Water for Chocolate is one of mine.
Life of Brian
Blazing Saddles
To Kill a Mockingbird
Gladiator with Russell Crowe
Legends of the Fall
Truly, madly deeply. Little movie with Alan Rickman. It's a little old but it never gets old.
I know this is only 7 but these are the ones I can think right off the top of my head right now.

Mary Lois said...

Oh, yes, Jess! I had forgotten about Like Water for Chocolate, one of my all-time favorites, and another food movie. I like your list, but I tried Truly Madly Deeply and just couldn't get into it. All the others are winners in my book, and I'm probably wrong about TMD. Maybe I should give it another shot.

How about Love Actually, another first-rate Alan Rickman one with tons of other great actors? That was the year of rambling interlocking stories showcasing some fine actors.

Jess said...

After I left this message, I actually pulled Love Actually out of my movie pile and started watching it. Some others if you haven't seen them are the two Bridget Jones' movies. Those are cute for what they are.

Mary Lois said...

Liked the first Bridget Jones because I LOVE Colin Firth and enjoy Hugh Grant, but I couldn't take the second one, probably because I'd had enough Renee Zellwegger. After her knockout performance in Jerry MacGuire, she never lived up to her potential. Just tries too damn hard.