Movies with Honor (3.5 to 4 star)

Or alternatively, movies that were either marketed wrong or I had low expectations and found them to be well worth a multiple viewing. Most of these movies took a second viewing before I began to really appreciate them.

The Warriors

The Warriors (The Ultimate Director's Cut) My first recollection of this movie was from the local TV news in Boston. The news report said that it glorified violence and gangs and undermined police and other positions of authority. On a little B & W TV, I remember seeing a gang member throw a night-stick and hitting the shins of one of New York’s finest badge wearers, in slow motion. I was too young to really get whether that little clip was enough to judge a movie by, so I withheld judgment. Flash forward 7 years and the movie is playing on The Movie Loft (with Dana Hersey) and he describes the way the movie director attempted to make the scenes and shots look like comic book panels and how visuals take over the need for too dialogue. I loved comics for years and was intrigued by this concept. Well again, sometimes its the frame of reference by which you watch a movie, but I was fascinated by this one and how powerful some of the scenes were. The only problem with the movie is that when the characters do speak, its dated dialogue, but its still a good flick.

Drop Dead Gorgeous

As with Strange Days, the DVD game me a change to view the trailers, and this movie was unjustly marketed. None of the funny scene came through, and the story looked like most of the MTV, cheerleader bankrobber, white girl finds rhythm trailers out today. This movie was so funny, quirky, sarcastic and intelligent at the same time. It is set as a documentary about one town holding the first stages of a National Beauty Pageant, and it really maintains this feel throughout. Not only that but the performance turned in by Kirsty Alley hasn’t been this good since Star Trek II. The characters were well thought out and represented so many quirks about middle America. This movie is also very weird, so be prepared for some pretty wacky stuff. Of my two favorite scenes, I think Denise Richards takes the top award for her “talent skit” in the pageant. I almost had to get oxygen.

Strange Days

The beauty of DVDs now is that they include the original trailers. This is one of the movies that I knew was going to be good, but I just couldn’t get any sense of the movies purpose from the original trailer. After reviewing the trailers again on the DVD, I came to the same conclusion. And then back in 1999, just as the fake Millenium was approaching, I saw a trailer for a really cool movie on the sci-fi Channel and as it went along, I realized that sci-fi must have come to the same conclusion and remade the trailer. They did such an amazing job that I got excited to watch the movie with commercials and all. If you haven’t seen this movie, it is well worth it and Ralph Feinnes is amazing in this movie.

Quick Change

This is a movie that has a misleading title, which is not the fault of the title. The title is absolutely accurate. They do suffer a quick change from a fast paced bank robbery to the slowest and most painful getaway ever. This movie is brilliant, but I remember the first time that I watched it, the change in pace almost floored me in a bad way, because it sets you up with its pacing to expect something different. In some ways, it feels likie it is playing with the audience. After a second viewing at home, I realized that not only is the dialogue in this movie inspired, but the movie is one that I can’t change the channel if it is on. Of course you need to be a Bill Murray fan to fully appreciate this one (I was surprised to find that there are some people who just dislike his acting intensely, but I love hit wit and delivery).

The Big Hit

I don’t even recall this movie hitting my radar screen when it was in the theaters, but my buddy Will recommended it to me. I guess what helped was his explanation of how ludicrous some of the scenes are because they are so over the top action packed and get pretty silly at times. This is, of course, done on purpose any once you recognize the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the film, the whole movie takes on a comedic value that you won’t expect. In the movie these hit-men kidnap a movie producer’s daughter. A classic scene when a guy with a stutter tries to make the ransom call (after being warned not to). He has a two of the latest caller tracer buster devices, but the victim’s dad has three of them to counteract his two. Its a hard movie to explain, but really fun.
Reason to see: Over the top cartoon exaggerated action, combined with tongue-in-cheek style comedy.

Slap Shot

“They’re folk heroes!”
“They’re criminals!”
“Well, most folk heroes started out as criminals.”

I guess if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you have either been locked in a box (like me), or are part of a younger generation that has yet to discover this classic. Personally, I had been chastised every which way from Sunday by anyone who knew that I hadn’t viewed it. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it showed up at the local video rental store. Read Full Review

The Fifth Element

Not your typical sci-fi flick. Luke Besson changed the view of the future back from the Blade Runner view of gloom and doom back to a pop-cultured more hip view. Not to say that there aren’t elements of overpopulation, heat wave, land-fill garbage problems and such, its just that people act pretty much the way they act today. They deal with and ignore this in favor of going about their business. Its very pop oriented and spicy at the same time. There are some significant flaws in this movie in direction and overall suspension of belief, but they do not detract from the movie’s charm.
Reason to see: Gary Oldman, Chris Tucker (though some find him annoying), atmosphere, tight sweeping story. Read Full Review

Boogie Nights

“I sense that there’s something very special… just waiting to get out.”

The first time I saw this movie, I thought, “this is a long movie.” I am almost embarrassed to show my true American Movie Attention Deficit Disorder, but that is how I felt. Now when I watch it, I think it is too short because I like the characters so much, appreciate the rich character development and dialogue. Also, I think that it takes a tiny bit of acclimation to Paul Thomas Anderson’s slice of life style of storytelling. It is a movie that I can now turn off when it is on because I own the DVD (though I still watch it anytime it is on). Read Full Review

Reason to see: Great dialogue, good characters, payoff at the end.

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