Nearly Perfect (4 to 4.5 star)

Hey, there is only so much room on the Pantheon

Swingers

I can find room to watch this movie no matter what I am doing. I can identify with all the characters in different ways. The problem here, and this is why it has taken so long to put this one up on my list is simply, I can’t explain exactly what it is about this movie that I like. I just like everything. It must be the little things that add up to one big enjoyable movie without exactly having a lot of takeaways after seeing it. I love the little banter back and forth between characters. I love the way the Michael character can turn good situations into incredibly horrible ones. The humor is rich and the relationships even richer. Even the little scene playing NHL Hockey on Sega Genesis is classic. Do me a favor, if you haven’t see this, go get it and then when you are done, let me know what exactly made you like it. Its just that hard to put into words.

Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry DVD Cover Art

This is the first movie that has been added based on lobbying. My friend Steve told me that it changed his life, at least from a moviegoer’s perspective, though I must say that based on a simple Wiffleball “batting out of order” error, this movie simply can’t appear in my Pantheon.

The mistake that I made was this. Growing up I heard all about Dirty Harry and his one liners but was rather sheltered from seeing any violent movie. When I became a teen, there was a new Dirty Harry movie that came out called Sudden Impact. I went to see it, not really understanding that I should have waited and perhaps seen the first couple of movies before seeing this latest installment. It never occurred to me because I saw Moonraker without any trouble or needing to go back and watch Goldfinger. Well, I liked Sudden Impact, but didn’t love it. Later I rented Dirty Harry and it was really awesome, but based on my mistake of timing, the movie didn’t strike me the way it apparently strikes others. For this I am sorry, but sometimes this kind of thing happens. So with that in mind, this movie belongs in that grey zone between the Nearly Perfect and the Pantheon, for me at least.

Predator

After further review and consensus with my good buddy Nelson (who said the movie is like crack), I decided that this movie needed to be bumped up a notch. So here it is. Man, say what you want about Arnold movies, but this is one that I can’t turn off when it is on. Just amazing special effects, good plot development, and a haunting feeling of desperation throughout the entire movie. They push the right buttons at the right times in this one. Just movie mastery.

One more note: Any movie or star that can give you a wealth of great silly sayings the people immediately know and can enjoy deserves extra recognition. “Get toooo da chopppah!”

The Abyss: Director’s Cut

At a time where Hollywood was putting out gems like Deep Star 6 and Leviathan, stood this movie. And it wasn’t received all that well. I wonder what would have been the reaction if the Director’s cut was released? Personally, I don’t like The Abyss all that much. It seems to eager to rush to tie everything up and it just lost its edge for me.

The Director’s cut is so different, and in my humble opinion, they are two different movies. With this version, you gain about 20 minutes of extras, and they change the entire movie. I cannot describe it to you because (like they say about The Matrix), you have to see it for yourself. Everyone I have watched that with (who at the beginning said that they didn’t really like The Abyss) had this dumbfounded look on their faces and ended up as thrilled and impressed as I was. I though James Cameron had more muscle in Hollywood than that. This title makes me say, thank Heavens for DVDs.

True Romance

Is that really Gary Oldman? No way!… Yes way. If I ever make a movie, I am going to hire the casting director to pick my actors. How many famous of soon-to-be recognizable to famous actors are in this movie? Lemmee count. Slater, Arquette, Oldman, Hopper, Walken, S.L. Jackson, Sizemore, Penn, Gandolfino, Pitt, and I haven’t even begun to count. And they all have memorable performances. I think I was a little stunned the first time I saw this movie, and it comes down to a stylized look at movies. I was used to this pace, the number of characters that got built up so fast. They have this type of acting list in Airport, Towering Inferno and Earthquake movies (with much lesser plots, mind you).

Reason to see: I haven’t seen an ensemble perform this well in a movie together. Its truly awe inspiring.

To Live and Die in LA

Talk about a coming of age movie. I was just barely 17 when I went to see this one. Although I had seen a couple of random R rated movies, I don’t think that I fully appreciated the heaviness that comes with the R rating until I saw this one. Talk about brilliant performances. William Petersen versus William Dafoe. Just priceless. I always thought that William Petersen should have gotten more jobs in Hollywood, especially after this one, but he kind of hung in the second to third tier of leading actor, until recently with his CSI lead. The thing about this movie is that it is completely not Hollywood, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I will not tell you what I mean, but it really made me angry after I saw it, but this was not the kind of anger that is spawned from watching a bad movie, rather it is in dealing with things that you just don’t expect. I highly recommend this one just for the difference. It is refreshing and depressing.


Reason to See: To see if you will get as angry as I did and still love the movie.

Star Wars: A New Hope

No words describe this movie that will accurately convey how much it was part of my life and still is. I think I saw this about 11 times at the North Reading cinema for about $1.50 a pop. It was mind blowing. Funny how it still feels that way when the opening credits role. I hope I never lose that connection to my childhood. Watching this on widescreen reminds me how different a movie really is when it is formatted (pan & scan) for television. I must have seen this movie a million times on HBO and network television, but when I got the widescreen version, I noticed that some scenes weren’t all that familiar looking (you know how your eye gets used to how a movie looks). Well I realized that the pan & scan had really done a terrible number on this movie an I had to re-acclimate myself to how George Lucas wanted it to look. Well, this movie is good enough that I could watch it through a telescope in orbit and I would still love it.

Reason to see: It raises the bar of movie-making. Darth Vader, Sand People, Death Star, A Long Time ago…

This is Spinal Tap

Pure comic masterpiece. My friend Steve in High School played a tape and we drove around for about an hour listening to it. When we pulled into the Tewksbury Arcade, he dropped the bomb on me. I said, “These guys are great and the songs are pretty funny.” He said, “They’re not a band.” Massive double take. He told me that the guy who played Lenny in Laverne and Shirley was in the band. So on the way home we listened again and this time, knowing that they were a “joke” band, the songs took on a much different meaning. Once I saw the movie (and the version that I saw had a great little video montage from a K-Tel type offer which floored me). I am not sure if that is on the DVD, but I didn’t see it. Needless to say, this movie is just not just original, its the new originals.


Sanjuro

Yes, I am definitely on a martial arts movie tear lately and I was very impressed with this movie. I got chuckles out of the parts that were humorous and also the entire time felt very sorry for this main character. I was also impresed by the brilliant imagery that Kurosawa used which came out so well in black and white. Also, my friend Marc said, “One of the best and nastiest death scenes” and I have to admit, the movie did not prepare me for the ending duel, which was thoroughly captivating.


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