Friday, July 24, 2009

Top 100 Movies: 21-25

25. The Matrix

Similar to Rocky (and has anyone said that about the Matrix?), I wonder if the whole thing would have worked better if it just ended here. While I'm unsure of the answer regarding the pugilist, I'm quite sure of this sci-fi movie: YES. But I'll avoid ripping the two sequels (especially the third in the series) and talk solely about this mind-bending film that shows humans as slaves to a machine race using us as batteries. Basically, the whole world is fake and we are actually plugged into a computer program while sitting in a pod being sapped of our energy and there is a minor resistance that can access the program and unplug those who want to be unplugged. The resistance believes in a Messiah-type and some believe it to be Neo (Keanu Reeves) who can finally defeat the machines and free the human race again. Great stuff and a total shocker when I first saw it in the theater.
Quote: "I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure."
Fun Fact: All scenes that take place within the Matrix have a green tint, as if watching them through a computer monitor, while scenes in the real world have normal coloring.

24. Chasing Amy

We're going to have a few Kevin Smith films coming up fast on this list and this one, about a pair of friends and a girl with an adventurous past is one of the funniest and smartest screenplays about friendship, relationships and, well, comics. And while the writing is top-notch (this and Dogma are the two best things Smith has written), the acting stands out as Ben Affleck, Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams (who earned a Golden Globe nom) are all outstanding. Lee is really the breakout star here, as he's even funnier than in Mallrats (where he was the bright spot of a very messed up movie).
Quote: "It was a mistake. I wasn't disgusted with her, I was afraid. At that moment, I felt small, like... like I'd lacked experience, like I'd never be on her level, like I'd never be enough for her or something like that, you know what I'm saying? But, what I did not get, she didn't care. She wasn't looking for that guy anymore. She was... she was looking for me, for the Bob. But, uh, by the time I figure this all out, it was too late, man. She moved on, and all I had to show for it was some foolish pride, which then gave way to regret. She was the girl, I know that now. But I pushed her away. So I've spent every day since then chasing Amy... so to speak."
Fun Fact: There are, in fact, two more Kevin Smith movies ahead of this one on the list.

23. Cast Away

Tom Hanks gives what is one of the all-time great performances as present-day man who gets stranded on an island after a plane crash. There is so much to love here, but there are three quick things I want to point out. First, the plane crash scene is horrifyingly filmed. As much as any other in film history, you felt like you were in the middle of it while sitting in the theather. Second, the extended scene following the crash with absolutely no dialogue and how well it works because Hanks is such a fine actor. Third, there are so many little things that work when gets back to his old life, but I really love that there is no perfect Hollywood ending.
Quote: We might just make it. Did that thought ever cross your brain? Well regardless I would rather take my chance out there on the ocean, that to stay here and die on this shithole island spending the rest of my life talking to a god damn VOLLEYBALL.
Fun Fact: Director Robert Zemekis and the entire crew shot What Lies Beneath between filming the first and second parts of this movie so Hanks could lose 50 pounds and grow out his facial hair.

22. Thirteen Days

I'll start with my one issue: The Boston accents, especially Kevin Costner's are HORRID. You must get beyond that to enjoy what is an otherwise terrific movie about all the behind-the-scenes in the White House during the Cuban Missle Crisis. The tag line says it all: You'll Never Believe How Close We Came. As a U.S. History nerd, this movie was made for me and I loved every second of it. All the actors are terrific (minus Costner, really) and I love that it is based so much on the facts from the Kennedy Tapes. It's really more about the fight between the military men and the civilians within the White House on how to deal with the situation.
Quote: "This is not a blockade. This is language. A new vocabulary, the likes of which the world has never seen! This is President Kennedy communicating with Secretary Khrushchev!"
Fun Fact: Features a cameo role for the nephew of John F. Kennedy, Christopher Lawford, who plays a pilot whose plane is fired upon by the Soviets.

21. Rounders

I had no idea how to play Texas Hold Em when I first sat in the theater to watch Matt Damon's first movie after Good Will Hunting. Most of America was almost certainly in the same boat. Not long after, there were weekly card games, trips to the casino, poker books in my bookshelf and massive World Series of Poker ratings for ESPN. It's hard to remember the pre-poker boom wasn't that long ago, but this is what started it for me and many of my friends. The film centers are Damon, a former super card player who lost it all and went straight, being dragged back into the scene when an old friend (played by Ed Norton) named Worm (must be a likeable guy with that name) gets out of prison. It's funny that a lot of things in the movie bug me now that I'm much more educated about poker, but it really changed things for a large group of us back then and certainly remains watchable and fun, with a terrific, terrific cast. Would love to see a sequel if the major players would return, but that's not going to happen.
Quote: "You wanna see the seventh card, stop speaking fucking sputnik! I'm sure you guys were talking about pirogies and snow but let's cut that out."
Fun Fact: Matt Damon and Edward Norton played the $10,000 buy-in Texas Hold ‘Em championship event at the 1998 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. During the first of four days, Matt Damon had pocket Kings and was knocked out by former world champion and poker legend Doyle Brunson who held pocket Aces.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Top 100 Movies: 26-30

30. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

This classic features a young cast headlined by Sean Penn (as the iconic Jeff Spicoli) and some future stars (Nic Cage, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz). There are a few stories going on here: the ongoing wackiness of stoner Spicoli and the uber-harsh teacher Mr. Hand (classic performance from Ray Walston), the relationships of young Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) via a handful of older guys, the senior year blues of Stacy's older brother Brad (Judge Reinhold) along with pieces of other background storylines. The movie was based on Cameron Crowe's undercover book (Fast Times at Bridgeport High) and is funny, charming and heart-breaking.
Quote: "I can see it all now, this is gonna be just like last summer. You fell in love with that girl at the Fotomat, you bought forty dollars worth of fuckin' film, and you never even talked to her. You don't even own a camera."
Fun Fact: Amazing that I went this long without mentioning THE scene of this movie featuring Phoebe Cates. Let's consider it mentioned and move on.

29. Philadelphia

It's amazing now to think about what a groundbreaking movie this was at the time, but Jonathan Demme's film was the first seen by many about a person with AIDS. Tom Hanks establishes himself as a serious dramatic actor in the Oscar-winning role as Andy Beckett, a gay attorney who is fired because, he believes, his firm found out he had AIDS. A powerful movie helped by a powerful soundtrack.
Quote: "We're standing here in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the birthplace of freedom, where the founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, and I don't recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal.
Fun Fact: Hanks had to lose almost thirty pounds to appear appropriately gaunt for his courtroom scenes. Denzel Washington, on the other hand, was asked to gain a few pounds for his role. Washington, to the chagrin of Hanks, who practically starved himself for the role, would often eat chocolate bars in front of him.


28. Wonder Boys

Shocking, I know, that another writing movie is on here. Curtis Hanson put together a superb cast (Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey, Jr., Rip Torn, Katie Holmes before she went nuts) in a funny movie about a college professor and novelist (Douglas) who wrote the Great American Novel and then couldn't get a follow-up done. Maguire is his prized (and strange) student; McDormand is his love interest and the wife of the Dean; Downey is his agent, who wants a look at the new novel; Torn is another author, who cranks out book after book and Holmes is, well, a student and a a renter of a room at his house. It's all weird and wonderful.
Quote: "Okay, James, I wish you hadn't shot my girlfriend's dog. Even though Poe and I weren't exactly what you'd call simpatico, that's no reason he should've taken two in the chest."
Fun Fact: Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed" won an Oscar and is in heavy rotation on my iPod.


27. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The second installment takes us deeper into Frodo's journey, raises the stakes and introduces new amazement. I had much greater expectations for this movie than the first one and they were all surpassed.
Quote: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. ... That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for."
Fun Fact: This was the first sequel to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture when the original film did not win the award itself, and the third sequel to be nominated for Best Picture.

26. Rocky

I like five of the six Rocky movies, but can't help wondering if the whole thing would have been better if it ended when this one did, with Rocky having gone the distance, in a losing effort against the Ali-like Apollo Creed. Taken on its own, this is one of the greatest sports movies ever made; the ultimate underdog story about a never-was boxer who randomly gets a shot at the champ.
Quote: "Apollo Creed vs. the Italian Stallion. Sounds like a damn monster movie."
Fun Fact: The two scenes where Rocky runs up the museum stairs (the first where he can't do it and the second during the "Gonna Fly Now" training sequence where he runs up them triumphantly) were filmed two hours apart. The first before the sun rose, the second afterwards.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Top 100 Movies: 31-45

45. Walk the Line

I became a Johnny Cash fan while playing hours of Tetris with Chris and Frank in New Hampshire quite a while back, so there were high expectations for this movie and they were pretty much all met. Joaquin Phoenix was terrific in the main role and Reese Witherspoon certainly held her own as June Carter Cash. The two leads (both singing themselves) made the movie and I especially enjoyed the Folsom Prison scene, the absolute highlight that could have gone on quite a bit longer.
Quote -- Warden: "Try not to sing anything that reminds them that they're in prison." Cash: "You think they forgot?"
Fun Fact: As proven by hours of research, listening to Cash and playing Tetris for four hours feels exactly the same as being significantly buzzed.

44. Spider-Man 2

The Spidey sequel held the honor as my favorite comic book movie for some time, as it perfectly blended the requisite action with strong characters and honest feelings. It played well as both a character study and a popcorn flick and I only with the third one had paid it off even better. Still, this one remains fun and relatively smart.
Quote: "She looks at me everyday. Mary Jane Watson. Oh boy! If she only knew how I felt about her. But she can never know. I made a choice once to live a life of responsibility. A life she can never be a part of. Who am I? I'm Spider-Man, given a job to do. And I'm Peter Parker, and I too have a job."
Fun Fact: The new top comic book movie? Keep reading.

43. Cinderella Man

You have to appreciate any sports movie that enters the final match/game/event with you not caring about the result, only hoping the character lives. I went into the true story of Jim Braddock having absolutely no idea what happened to him and entered the main event with thos feelings. Russell Crowe and Paul Giammati own this movie, which is about so much more than puglism.
Quote: "You think you're telling me something? Like, what, boxing is dangerous, something like that? You don't think working triple shifts and at night on a scaffold isn't just as likely to get a man killed? What about all those guys who died last week living in cardboard shacks to save on rent money just to feed their family, 'cause guys like you have not quite figured out a way yet to make money off of watching that guy die? But in my profession - and it is my profession - I'm a little more fortunate."
Fun Fact: After the film's release many boxing analysts and even Max Baer's son, Max Baer, Jr., decried the movie for it's historical liberties taken with Max Baer. Specifically, that he had killed two men in the ring (he did kill one and an opponent he'd KO'd died a few weeks after their bout for reasons unrelated to the fight) and that he took pride in that fact. Max Baer Jr. has said that his father was always haunted by the memories of killing a man in the ring and that it played a prominent part in Max Baer's eventual death from alcoholism.

42. Sideways

Two Giammati movies in a row. This time, he moves into the main role in a film following two friends' trip to California wine country for one's (Thomas Haden Church) bachelor party. Giammati plays the down-in-the-dumps wine snobby best friend who is recently divorced and can't get a book deal for his wait-what-is-that-novel-about-again? novel. Funny, sweet and interesting, even if (like me) you couldn't possibly care less about wine.
Quote: "I am NOT drinking any FUCKING MERLOT!"
Fun Fact: I have a small Merlot wine bottle magnet on my fridge, courtesy of one Mr. Andrew Merritt and my bachelor party. Funny, funny, funny.

41. Almost Famous

Saw this movie about a young journalist as a young journalist, so you can imagine why it worked so well for me. The final scenes of facing a deadline, tearing your hair out and trying to put together something is something I can definitely appreciate. However, the movie is really about music and love and it really, really works.
Quote: "Aw, man. You made friends with them. See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong. ... They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not cool. ... That's because we're uncool. And while women will always be a problem for us, most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don't have any spine. Their art never lasts. They get the girls, but we're smarter. ... Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, you got a big head start."
Fun Facts: The film is director Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical account of life as a young Rolling Stone reporter. The actual group that Crowe first toured with was The Allman Brothers Band. (Gregg Allman was the one who distrusted him and kept asking if he was a narc.) Crowe’s real-life near-fatal plane crash happened while traveling with The Who. The character of Russell Hammond is based on Glenn Frey of Eagles.

40. Big

Really? I need to sell you on this? A teen is turned into adult Tom Hanks, historic hilarity ensues. You've all seen it.
Quote: "The space goes down, down baby, down, down the roller coaster. Sweet, sweet baby, sweet, sweet, don't let me go. Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop. Shimmy, shimmy, rock. Shimmy, shimmy, cocoa pop. Shimmy, shimmy, rock. I met a girlfriend - a triscuit. She said, a triscuit - a biscuit. Ice cream, soda pop, vanilla on the top. Ooh, Shelly's out, walking down the street, ten times a week. I read it. I said it. I stole my momma's credit. I'm cool. I'm hot. Sock me in the stomach three more times."
Fun Fact: According to actor Robert Loggia, on the day they filmed the famous keyboard scene at F.A.O. Schwartz, he and Tom Hanks noticed that doubles dressed like them were on hand just in case the two could not do the dance moves correctly. It became their goal to do the entire keyboard number without the aid of the doubles. They succeeded.

39. Signs

Everyone talks about the Sixth Sense, but this is far and away my favorite M. Night Shaymalan movie. This one is set in a farm owned by a widowed Mel Gibson and his family, including Jaoquin Phoenix. They have some weird things happen at their place, including crop circles and then all hell breaks loose in a very 9/11-type way. The feel of this movie is perfect and I actually liked the ending quite a bit more than many, it seems.
Quote: "There are a lot of things I can take, and some things I can't. But what I can't take is when my older brother, who's everything that I want to be, starts losing faith in things. I saw that look in your eyes last night. I don't ever want to see that look in your eyes again."
Fun Fact: Maybe the list time I watched Gibson on screen without thinking about what a weird dude he is.

38. The Fellowship of the Ring

I knew nothing about the Lord of the Rings before the first time I saw this film's trailer. It immediately made my must-see list and then paid off with a terrific opener to the trilogy. I love this one as the establishing movie and each one got a bit more intense.
Quote: "The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true."
Fun Fact: Eight of the nine members of the Fellowship got a small tattoo of the word “nine” spelled out in Tengwar, which is the Elvish script created by Tolkien. They got it at a tattoo parlor in Wellington, New Zealand, to commemorate the experience of the movie. The ninth member, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli), declined and sent his stunt double in his place.

37. The Blues Brothers

Another comedy classic, featuring Dan Akroyd and John Belushi as the dynamic duo. Tons of great music, a classic pair of performances from the headliners and more cameos than you can imagine. It's just a tour de force in all ways. I'll never watch this movie and not think about hanging out with Ryan, my college roommate, back in the day. Good, good times.
Quote -- E: "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses." J: "Hit it."
Fun Fact: The infamous "Bluesmobile" is a 1974 Dodge Monaco. The vehicles used in the film were used police cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol (mocked up to look like Mt. Prospect, Illinois patrol cars), and featured the "cop tires, cop suspension and cop motor - a 440 cubic-inch plant" mentioned by Elwood in the film. A total of 12 Bluesmobiles were used in the movie, including one that was built just so it could fall apart.

36. JFK

God only knows what actually happened in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, but Oliver Stone puts together some theories (some plausible, some not) in a highly entertaining, somewhat true movie about New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, the only person to try someone for the murder of John Kennedy. Ignore all the horrible accents and this is a good one.
Quote: "That's the real question, isn't it? Why? The how and the who is just scenery for the public. Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia. Keeps 'em guessing like some kind of parlor game, prevents 'em from asking the most important question, why? Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?"
Fun Fact: “X”, Donald Sutherland’s character, is based on L. Fletcher Prouty, Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and, thus, principal liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA) during the JFK presidency. He was a technical advisor for the film.

35. The Road to Perdition

I always think of this as the forgotten terrific Tom Hanks movie. Hanks, who went on arguably the greatest run in movie history for a while there, takes a bit of a turn to the dark side as a old fashioned mobster who kills for a living and then has everything turn on him. A great movie about fathers and sons and regret. Oh, and Paul Newman and Jude Law are pretty damn fantastic as well.
Quote: "Natural law. Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers."
Fun Fact: The final on-screen acting feature film for Newman. And he's fantastic.

34. Office Space

One of those perfect movie-perfect time movies. Watching this one after working in a cubicle for a summer was jaw-dropping. It was so incredibly accurate, painfully so really Just a brutally funny and true look at the world inside the cubicle.
Quote: "Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh heh - and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour. ... Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work."
Fun Fact: When Peter is in the meeting room, on the white board behind him there is a complicated flow chart titled "Planning to Plan."

33. The Paper

This one is a little over the top, but hey, it's a well-acted movie about the newspaper business, so of course I love it. Michael Keaton, Glenn Close, Randy Quaid and the great Robert Duval carry a fun and, yes, way over the top, movie.
Quote: "It's a Marx Brothers movie every time I step in my office."
Fun Fact: Fictional papers mentioned are the New York Sun and the New York Sentinel.

32. The Dark Knight

Not the perfect movie by any stretch, but Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker is like Larry Bird in his prime, bringing everything to a much higher level. Everyone else is fine, and I really like what appeared to be the plan before Ledger's death. Now, I wonder what they could do to make it work.
Quote: "A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away. ... Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."
Fun Fact: In preparation for his role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker’s every tic, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh. Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker’s appearance was primarily based off of the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell’s character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange (1971).

31. Ghostbusters

Hmmm, lots of comedy classics in this run of movies. Another great one featuring those "you gonna call" when you run into any ecto-plasm.
Quote: "Ray. If someone asks if you are a god, you say, 'yes!'"
Fun Fact: In the middle of the film’s initial release, to keep interest going, Ivan Reitman had a trailer run, which was basically the commercial the Ghostbusters’ use in the movie, but with the 555 number replaced with a 1-800 number, allowing people to call. They got a recorded message of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd saying something to the effect of “Hi. We’re out catching ghosts right now.” They got 1,000 calls per hour, 24 hours a day, for six weeks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Back to the Top 100

Working on yet another installment of the top 100 movies that will be posted soon. Hopefully I'll be able to get the rest of that thing cranked out before the end of the summer. Meanwhile, I'm working on some exciting stuff at work that will begin in the fall and you can follow my twitter @jpignatiello or right at the Swine Lair home page.

While we're here: UP was an A+ and the second best Pixar movie ever while The Hangover was good, not great, but made me want to listen to Flo Rida over and over again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top 100 movies: 46-55

Okay. It's been a while. Let's pound some of this out to get this sucker moving again.

55. CADDYSHACK
An all-time classic. You can't play golf, even mini-golf, without dropping a whole bunch of quotes from this movie. It's completely idiotic, based around a country club, a caddy, a few members and a groundskeeper. But it's one of those movies that gets better with each viewing, with funny lines under the main funny lines that you only notice on the ninth viewing. Incredibly rewatchable.
Quote: "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac...It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"
Fun Fact: The scene quoted above was completely improvised by Bill Murray.


54. JAWS
Amazing how little you see the shark in this flick, even during the big chase scenes on the Orca toward the end. The cast is simply amazing, even the smaller parts feel like they grew up in Amityville. But the best scene is on the Orca with Robert Shaw holding court. So much good stuff.
Quote: "We're gonna need a bigger boat."
Fun Fact: (loved this on IMDB) During pre-production, director Steven Spielberg, accompanied by friends Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and John Milius, visited the effects shop where "Bruce" the shark was being constructed. Lucas stuck his head in the shark's mouth to see how it worked and, as a joke, Milius and Spielberg sneaked to the controls and made the jaw clamp shut on Lucas' head. Unfortunately, and rather prophetically, considering the later technical difficulties the production would suffer, the shark malfunctioned, and Lucas got stuck in the mouth of the shark. When Spielberg and Milius were finally able to free him, the three men ran out of the workshop, afraid they'd done major damage to the creature.

53. HOOSIERS
Jimmy Chitwood. Dentine. "It's your funeral." The bus. Ollie at the free throw line. Four on the floor. Getting thrown out of the game. Amazing, amazing sports movie about a little school in Indiana that makes a run to the state basketball championship.
Quote: (Coach Norman Dale to Jimmy Chitwood, the greatest player anyone in the town has ever seen): "You know, in the ten years that I coached, I never met anybody who wanted to win as badly as I did. I'd do anything I had to do to increase my advantage. Anybody who tried to block the pursuit of that advantage, I'd just push 'em out of the way. Didn't matter who they were, or what they were doing. But that was then. You have special talent, a gift. Not the school's, not the townspeople, not the team's, not Myra Fleener's, not mine. It's yours, to do with what you choose. Because that's what I believe, I can tell you this: I don't care if you play on the team or not."
Fun Fact: All but one of the Hickory players were college basketball players in real life. The one: Maris Valainis (Jimmy Chitwood)

52. THE FUGITIVE
Love this story of Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) who is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. He's arrested, tried, found guilty and then escapes in a fantastic crash scene that was surely much, much better on the big screen. That's when the movie really starts, as Kimble spends the rest of the movie running from US Marshalls, led by Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) while also trying to find the real killer. There's suspense at every turn and the acting is absolutely top notch from everyone. Ford hasn't had a better one since.
Quote: "Where you at Desmondo?"
Fun Fact: The chase through the St. Patrick's Day parade was a spur of the moment thing. You can see how surprised some of the people are when Ford and Jones join in.

51. MEMENTO
The first movie I remember seeing that really screwed with time and place so much, Christopher Nolan became a big-time director with this murder mystery about a man with no short-term memory told backwards. The story is good anyway, but the story-telling device sets it apart. You can watch it multiple times and still not quite have everything.
Quote: "I don't even know how long she's been gone. It's like I've woken up in bed and she's not here... because she's gone to the bathroom or something. But somehow, I know she's never gonna come back to bed. If I could just... reach over and touch... her side of the bed, I would know that it was cold, but I can't. I know I can't have her back... but I don't want to wake up in the morning, thinking she's still here. I lie here not knowing... how long I've been alone. So how... how can I heal? How am I supposed to heal if I can't... feel time?"
Fun Fact: When Burt, the guy at the desk of the Discount Inn, shows Leonard to his room and they get to talking, Leonard says, "You don't have to be that honest, Burt." The thing is, in that scene, Burt never mentions his name. Given his disorder, Leonard should not have remembered his name, thus revealing that his condition is psychological and not physical.

50. ADAPTATION
A crazy story about writing? You know I'll love it. Nicholas Cage may turn in his best performance in this story by Charlie Kaufman in what must be the craziest adaptation of a book ever written. There are so many wonderful layers here that I'm sure I'm still missing some after a dozen viewings. Funny, crazy and wicked smart all at the same time.
Quote: (opening voiceover) "Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would be happier. I wouldn't have to wear these shirts with the tails out all the time. Like that's fooling anyone. Fat ass. I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. Really do it this time. Maybe rock climbing. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more, improve myself. What if I learned Russian or something? Or took up an instrument? I could speak Chinese. I'd be the screenwriter who speaks Chinese and plays the oboe. That would be cool. I should get my hair cut short. Stop trying to fool myself and everyone else into thinking I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that? Just be real. Confident. Isn't that what women are attracted to? Men don't have to be attractive. But that's not true. Especially these days. Almost as much pressure on men as there is on women these days. Why should I be made to feel I have to apologize for my existence? Maybe it's my brain chemistry. Maybe that's what's wrong with me. Bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses. I need to get help for that. But I'll still be ugly though. Nothing's gonna change that."
Fun Fact: This really is an adaptation by a real Susan Orlean nonfiction book, who attended the Oscars that year.

49. INHERIT THE WIND
Every once in a while I was forced to watch something in school that I actually enjoyed. This is one of those cases. I honestly can't even remember what class or even what year or teacher it was, but I watched this classic for the first time at some point during my awe-inspiring run through the Uxbridge public school system and have loved it ever since. This story is based on a real-life case back in the 20s of two superstar lawyers arguing the case of a science teacher accused of the crime of teaching evolution. But it's so much more than that. And it's brilliant. Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly are all tremendous here.
Quote: "I don't swear just for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. I think we should all the words we've got. Besides, there are damn few words that anybody understands."
Fun Fact: Based on the famous Scopes Monkey Trial.

48. THE DEPARTED
I don't really have to break this one down too much, right? Great movie, especially the work by Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as undercover agents on opposite sides of the law. The cast is tremendously deep and very well played (although Jack Nicholson is a little over the top, even for him). Not Martin Scorsese's best movie, but the one that got him the Oscar, baby!
Quote: "When you decide to be something, you can be it. That's what they don't tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I'm saying to you is this: when you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?"
Fun Fact: This is the movie with the most uses of the F-word and its derivatives (237) to win Best Picture.

47. FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
Clint Eastwood directs the true story of the six men who (sorta) raised the flag at Iwo Jima. It's a gritty look at war that's very realistic and not at all glorifying. The things that reasonate the most are the governmental junk as the powers-that-be tried to drum up support for the war. It worked especially well in 2006, more than 60 years later.
Quote: "People on the street corners, they looked at this picture and they took hope. Don't ask me why, I think it's a crappy picture, myself. You can't even see your faces! But it said we can win this war, are winning this war, we just need you to dig a little deeper. They want to give us that money. No, they want to give it to *you*."
Fun Fact: Made as a sister movie with Letters from Iwo Jima.

46. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
No one kinda liked this movie by the Coen brothers. With this one, you either loved it or hated it. Many of the hates came because the ending isn't what everyone expected. But that's what made the movie so damn good. I'll admit that it took a few days of thought to really appreciate the ending, but it stayed with me and I love it. It works so much better the third time, too.
Quote: "Both [dreams] had my father in 'em . It's peculiar. I'm older now then he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he's the younger man. Anyway, first one I don't remember too well but it was about meeting him in town somewhere, he's gonna give me some money. I think I lost it. The second one, it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin' through the mountains of a night. Goin' through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin'. Never said nothin' goin' by. He just rode on past... and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. 'Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin' on ahead and he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up."
Fun Fact: Javier Bardem's Best Supporting Actor win made him the first Spanish actor to win an Oscar.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

50 homers

This is a messed up list, especially considering this week's news on A-Rod. At this point, can we be confident that any of the guys after Daddy Fielder was clean?


Cecil Fielder 51 (1990)
Albert Belle 50 (1995)
Mark McGwire 52 (1996)
Brady Anderson 50 (1996)

Ken Griffey Jr 56 (1997)
Ken Griffey Jr. 56 (1998)
Greg Vaughn 50 (1998)
Sammy Sosa 66 (1998)
Mark McGwire 70 (1998)
Mark McGwire 65 (1999)
Sammy Sosa 63 (1999)
Sammy Sosa 50 (2000)
Sammy Sosa 64 (2001)
Barry Bonds 73 (2001)
Luis Gonzalez 57 (2001)
Alex Rodriguez 52 (2001)
Alex Rodriguez 57 (2002)
Jim Thome 52 (2002)
Andruw Jones 51 (2005)
Ryan Howard 58 (2006)
David Ortiz 54 (2006)

Alex Rodriguez 54 (2007)
Prince Fielder 50 (2007)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Links

I can't effin wait for baseball season. Here's a great story on Red Sox prospect flavor of the year Lars Anderson. ... Thought ESPN's Battle of the Budgets is fun.

How to save your newspaper by Time.

Lost remains beyond excellent.

I still love Unbreakable and here are some cool deleted scenes from the movie.

And finally...
Another reason why I love reading Roger Ebert's reviews, especially when he doesn't like the film (in this case, He's Not That Into You:
Ever noticed how many self-help books are limited to the insight expressed in their titles? You look at the cover, you know everything inside. The rest is just writing. I asked Amazon to "surprise me" with a page from inside the best-seller He's Just Not That Into You, and it jumped me to page 17, where I read: "My belief is that if you have to be the aggressor, if you have to pursue, if you have to do the asking out, nine times out of 10, he's just not that into you."

I personally would not be interested in a woman who needed to buy a book to find that out. Guys also figure out that when she never returns your calls and is inexplicably always busy, she's just not that into you. What is this, brain surgery?

I have tried, but I cannot image what was covered in the previous 16 pages of that book. I am reminded of the book review once written by Ambrose Bierce: "The covers of this book are too far apart."


Awesome.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Couple of Links

I love this link to the likely rosters for all of the Red Sox affiliates.

While we're no the Red Sox, Hey Jason, TAKE.THE.FUCKING.DEAL. We all just want this to end.

Weird story about the origins of Kevin James' mall cop movie.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Nominations

Here's the complete list:

1. Best Picture: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk,” “The Reader,” “Slumdog Millionaire.”
2. Actor: Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”; Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”; Sean Penn, “Milk”; Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler.”
3. Actress: Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”; Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”; Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”; Meryl Streep, “Doubt”; Kate Winslet, “The Reader.”
4. Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, “Milk”; Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”; Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”; Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road.”
5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, “Doubt”; Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”; Viola Davis, “Doubt”; Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler.”
6. Director: David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”; Gus Van Sant, “Milk”; Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”; Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire.”
7. Foreign Film: “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” Germany; “The Class,” France; “Departures,” Japan; “Revanche,” Austria; “Waltz With Bashir,” Israel.
8. Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; John Patrick Shanley, “Doubt”; Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon”; David Hare, “The Reader”; Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire.”
9. Original Screenplay: Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River”; Mike Leigh, “Happy-Go-Lucky”; Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges”; Dustin Lance Black, “Milk”; Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, “WALL-E.”
10. Animated Feature Film: “Bolt”; “Kung Fu Panda”; “WALL-E.”
11. Art Direction: “Changeling,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Duchess,” “Revolutionary Road.”
12. Cinematography: “Changeling,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Reader,” “Slumdog Millionaire.”
13. Sound Mixing: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “WALL-E,” “Wanted.”
14. Sound Editing: “The Dark Knight,” “Iron Man,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “WALL-E,” “Wanted.”
15. Original Score: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Alexandre Desplat; “Defiance,” James Newton Howard; “Milk,” Danny Elfman; “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman; “WALL-E,” Thomas Newman.
16. Original Song: “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E,” Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Gulzar; “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.
17. Costume: “Australia,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Duchess,” “Milk,” “Revolutionary Road.”
18. Documentary Feature: “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon),” “Encounters at the End of the World,” “The Garden,” “Man on Wire,” “Trouble the Water.”
19. Documentary (short subject): “The Conscience of Nhem En,” “The Final Inch,” “Smile Pinki,” “The Witness — From the Balcony of Room 306.”
20. Film Editing: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk,” “Slumdog Millionaire.”
21. Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”
22. Animated Short Film: “La Maison en Petits Cubes,” “Lavatory — Lovestory,” “Oktapodi,” “Presto,” “This Way Up.”
23. Live Action Short Film: “Auf der Strecke (On the Line),” “Manon on the Asphalt,” “New Boy,” “The Pig,” “Spielzeugland (Toyland).”
24. Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “Iron Man.”


I'll have more thoughts on the categories and everything as we get closer to the awards (and I see more of the nominated films), but I'd just like to say that if Presto doesn't win Animated Short Film, Josh is going to be one pissed off little boy.

Keith Law's top 100

Keith Law has posted his top 100 MLB prospects today. A must-read for baseball fans.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama headlines

I always love looking at Newseum whenever something major happens. Here are some of the interesting ones, in no particular order:

CO_GT


WA_ST


WA_NT


KY_LHL


IL_KCC


IL_DH


HI_HA


GA_TT


FL_PNJ


CA_SFE


CA_DN

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

I won't be on the computer between now and Thursday, so I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holiday beforehand. Here are a few things that interest me about Christmas.

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Josh playing in the snow
joshsnow1

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Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus:
yesvirginia

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15 Things I Have To Watch Each December in no particular order

1. Holy Night West Wing Episode
2. Christimas Vacation
3. A Christmas Story
4. Polar Express (Josh's current fave)
5. It's a Wonderful Life
6. The Grinch (original)
7. Elf
8. The Santa Clause
9. A Charlie Brown Christmas
10. Scrooged
11. Muppet Christmas Carol
12. The Santa Clause
13. Santa Claus: The Movie
14. Home Alone
15. Die Hard

***

Love going through Ebert's archives for this type of thing. Here is his original review for A Christmas Story. Here is his Great Movies feature for the flick.

***
Josh making Christmas cookies with his momma
joshsmile

"F*cking Yankees"

I was sitting with Josh in our living room this afternoon watching the Polar Express when that popped on phone from a friend. I knew immediately what it meant: The Yankees had swooped into the Mark Teixiera at the last minute and signed the superstar first baseman after the Red Sox had been considered front-runners in the sweepstakes.

No surprise here, although I did wonder about how it would look after they had already signed two pitchers to monster contracts this offseason and the potential uproar regarding their asking the government to foot so much of the bill for their new stadium.

Anyway, here are 9 things to make we Red Sox fans feel better after today's bad news:
1. The Red Sox still have at least as good a team as the Yankees in 2009. A Teixiera signing was more a 2010 and beyond signing for Boston, which we can worry about later.

2. The Yankees go back to being the bad guys after this offseason. It's much more fun having everyone hate them. It was getting close to even between dislike for the Red Sox and Yankees nationally, but now NYY moves back into the pole position in that race.

3. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has hit just .194 with one home run and five RBIs in 19 career contests at Fenway Park. Against Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka combined, Teixeira is 2-for-14 (.143) with four strike outs and one walk.

4. Jason Bay is much better than anyone is giving him credit for.

5. Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz are going to be healthy this year. Jon Lester is going to be even better and the bullpen will be much improved.

6. The Red Sox aren't done yet. They can add another good pitcher and are still figuring out the catching situation. Let's not look at this team as the final version yet.

7. The Yankees needed to make these kinds of signings to catch up to the Red Sox. They haven't remotely surpassed them. And they still have a ton of old, injury-prone players.

8. Lars Effin Anderson

9. Sox 2009 lineup is pretty friggin good:
Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Papi, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Drew, RF
Bay, LF
Lowell, 3B
Lowrie, SS
TBA, C

Christmas stuff coming late tonight.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Links

bailout
Pretty much says it all.

***

ESPN has a fantastic feature on Dr. J and his daughter.

BA details the perfect baseball prank.

EW has the scariest movies ever.

I'll have a Christmas post up late Tuesday night. Top 100 movies will continue in the new year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The story behind THAT card

You might know the one, the famous Billy Ripken Fleer Card. Here is the story, F-CK FACE.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Awesome Montage

Swamped (FU Frank) isn't even the word right now for me at work, but I had to post this Shawshank 80s montage. It's amazing. Don't watch it if you haven't seen the movie. (Hat tip: Simmons)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pixar movies

Caught up over the past few days, so here it is. This has changed since the last time I did it (I'm getting old):

1. Toy Story 2
2. The Incredibles
3. Toy Story
4. Monsters, Inc.
5. Wall-E
6. Cars
7. Finding Nemo
8. Ratatouille
9. A Bug's Life

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pie Chart

gaymarriage.jpg

Why 11/4/08 Mattered (Part I)

Expect a lot of these leading into the inauguration:

Richard Clarke, who I've mentioned in passing before:

"Obama's election has taken the wind out of al Qaeda's sails in much of the Islamic world because it demonstrates America's renewed commitment to multiculturalism, human rights, and international law. It also proves to many that democracy can work and overcome ethnic, sectarian, or racial barriers.

"Obama's commitment to withdraw from Iraq also takes away an al Qaeda propaganda tenet: that the U.S. seeks to occupy oil rich Arab lands. His commitment to defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan also challenges their plans. Most of all, by returning to American values the world admires, Obama sets al Qaeda back enormously in the battle of ideas, the ideological struggle which determines whether al Qaeda will continue to have significant support in the Islamic world."