Sunday, November 13, 2011


The decisions on this list seem to get tougher and tougher. Very rarely is there an obvious choice anymore, and many times if there is, they're ones I thought of weeks earlier, and even I tend to rethink, sometimes come up with a completely different answer from my gut thought, and then sometimes, my first instinct is correct. It's interesting, While a few friends of mine are also participating in this challenge, I think I've learned as much about myself by picking these films as I do about them with their choices. It's strange to suddenly have that feeling that you learn something new about yourself that you didn't already know, and it's scary as well. 20 Days left, We're at part two of this challenge now, and let's take a quick look back at choices 1-30:

DAY 1: Favorite Fim: "CASABLANCA"
DAY 2: Least Favorite Film: "AMANDA"
DAY 3: Favorite Comedy: "AIRPLANE!"
DAY 4: Favorite Drama: "THE GODFATHER"
DAY 5: Favorite Action: "RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK"
DAY 6: Favorite Horror: "CARRIE"
DAY 7: Favorite Animated Fim: TIE: "PRINCESS MONONOKE" and "WALL-E"
DAY 8: Favorite Thriller: "THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS"
DAY 9: Favorite Musical: "NASHVILLE"
DAY 10: Favorite Foriegn Film: "THE DECALOGUE"
DAY 11: Favorite Kids Movie: "ALMOST FAMOUS"
DAY 12: Favorite Love Story: "BEFORE SUNRISE"
DAY 13: Favorite Chick Flick: "THE PHILADELPHIA STORY"
DAY 14: Favorite Documentary: "THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS"
DAY 15: Favorite Play Adaptation: "THE ODD COUPLE"
DAY 16: Favorite Book Adaptation: "ADAPTATION."
DAY 18: Favorite Guilty Pleasure: "SECRETARY"
DAY 19: Film that made you Cry the Hardest: "LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL"
DAY 22: Film I'd Like to Live in: TIE: "CLERKS" and "LAUREL CANYON"
DAY 23: Movie that Inspires you: TIE: "WINGS OF DESIRE" and "THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT"
DAY 24: Favorite Movie Soundtrack: "ONCE"
DAY 25: Movie with the Most Beautiful Scenery: "L'AVVENTURA"
DAY 26: Movie you're Most Embarassed to say you Liked: "HOUSE OF NUMBERS"
DAY 27: Movie with your Favorite Villain: "THE THIRD MAN"-HARRY LIME
DAY 28: Movie with you Favorite Hero: "ROCKY"-ROCKY BALBOA
DAY 29: First Movie you ever Remember Watching: "RUTHLESS PEOPLE"
DAY 30: Last Film You've Seen: "BEFORE SUNSET", and "PULP FICTION"

And now, the reveal of my choices for #31-#40!

Other than a few of his early short films, I've only seens five of Kieslowski's films so far (Counting "The Decalogue" as one), and they were the last ones he did before he passed away, but they are absolutely mesmorizing. I respond to a lot of very different from Woody Allen to Steven Spielberg to Kevin Smith to Quentin Tarantino, to Wim Wenders, I can always his films, or Robert Altman, or Martin Scorsese..., I really have lot of favorite directors, but they touch of parts of me that are different, more than most of the others, I'd say consistingly connects on a more spiritual side to me. He focuses on these little coincidence and blind chances of life, while also focusing on some of these really mundane little details. There's a scene in "The Double Life of Veronique," where a character just ties a loose string around her finger, and alone, and the only reason for it, is because the character just wants to. Of course, it then double backs in this to another character that we meet earlier, who happens to be her dobbleganger, who's recently passed away, and suddenly this other girl, Veronique, feels like somebody's missing from life. It really hard to get these sort of sudden internal emotions on film effectively, like there's something beyond our control, or we hear a voice that calls us, but nobody's there, and you think you're crazy, but, he gets touches on these things in every film, and it's just inspiring to me, that somebody can do that, and even just thinks about those little details. We learn about plot and 3-act structure, and it's really not all that interesting to think about those things, and Kieslowski's thinks about the intricate but far more interesting little nuances, patterns and other things that shape our life.

DAY 32: Favorite Death Scene: "STRANGERS ON A TRAIN"
Well, I mentioned it was incredibly difficult to make some of these decisions, at two points during the next ten, I ended up making a ten best list. Usually I write a bunch of options and begin narrowing it down, and usually I eventually end up with, maybe 5 or 6 really good choices, and choose one, sometimes from that way narrower list, but at a certain point, there were just too many, really, really good choices. So here was that top ten that listed:
10. "Like Water for Chocolate"-Couple Dies in a burning house, making love.
9. "Boyz N the Hood"- Doughboy killing the guy that shot his brother.
8. "Die Hard 2"- I know some like the first one better, but blowing up the plane, that kicked ass!
7. "The Long Goodbye"-Perfect, cold-blooded ending.
6. "The Godfather Part II"-Fredo's last boat ride
5. "American Beauty"-He said he'd be dead!
4. "Apocalypse Now,"-Col. Kurtz and that poor cow.
3. "Ghostbusters"-Clean-up on, well, all of Manhattan after Stay-Puff, exploded.
2. "Murder on the Orient Express"-Greatest killer reveal ever!
and then #1, was the ending on "Strangers on a Train," one of my favorite Hitchcock's, and it's got one of the greatest ending death scenes, that is simply crazy, even for Hitchcock. The movie's got a lot of memorable scenes, the tennis match for instance, but to me, this unbelievable, non-special effect fight on the runaway merry-go-round, is one of the most amazing things ever filmed. I first saw it years ago, I was very little, and the whole film just threw chills up my spine, but that ending, I remember thinking, "Holy fuck! That looks fucking dangerous." I never saw an action sequence in a really old movie before, like that, and it was shocking because I knew it had to be real. Even some of Hitchcock's greatest films had very stagy, obviously-faked moments, where you can tell you're watching a film, the ending of "North by Northwest," comes to mind, with the Mt. Rushmore sequence, that's clearly a stage somewhere, even a few deaths like Joseph Cotton falling out in front of the train, in "Shadow of a Doubt," you were shocked and maybe frightened, but you were conscious that you were watching a movie. At the end of "Strangers on a Train," I was convinced he just killed, if not his actors, their stunt doubles, anyway. And the clip below doesn't actually show when the Robert Walker, Bruno Anthony character, is just about to dies, even after this spectacular merry-go-round crash, he doesn't admit to killing Farley Granger's wife, all made so much more shocking considering this amazing scene before it.

DAY 33: Movie I've Seen the Most Times: "THE LADY AND THE TRAMP"
Shoot, I just realized I wrote "DAY 32" on the Movie Challenge's link instead of 33. Damn. Well, I had a VCR, and a surprising wide selections of movies to watch. I mentioned earlier that "Ruthless People," was one of those films, that I constantly played on a continuous loop when I was young. Maybe the only movie that I watched more times than that one was "The Lady and the Tramp." I'm actually not particularly sure why now, but I do like the movie. I think I was fascinated at how you rarely saw the adult characters in the film. Or at least, Lady's owners primarily. We do see their faces, but its for the briefest of moments. I guess I recognize now the movie's core story of love and family, and the metaphoric value of it, although it never particularly dawned on me at the time. Personally now, I respect "The Lady and the Tramp," more than I like it, but it really should be every kid's first love story, and it was mine.

DAY 34: Movie with the Best Movie Monster: "A CLOCKWORK ORANGE"-ALEX DE LARGE
Another tricky category. First thing I wanted to know was, what defines a "monster," exactly. I actually looked up the definition and tried to see which character had most of the qualities it listed. The one that eventually won when I did that analysis was the Shark from "Jaws," and while that is a good, I wasn't sure it was my favorite. I thought of a few interesting ones. Klaus Kinski in "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," for instance. I thought about both Harvey Keital and Nicolas Cage's "Bad Lieutenant"'s. Judge Doom in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," would've been creative. The Joker I'm sure is popular here. I thought for awhile also about both Aileen Wournos from "Monster," the performance that won Charlize Theron an Oscar, amazing character. Also, Lil 'Ze from the great Brazilian film "City of God," occurred to me. A very vicious character in fact, but, it's really hard to get Alex out of your head once he's in there. You don't really look at other villians the same way after seeing him, beat people up, rape, pillage, sexually conquer, beat up his own, all while ruining "Singin' in the Rain," for the rest of your life, it's so what-the-fuck strange and bizarre, and ultimately evil character. Of course, there's the rest of the movie, which almost makes him sympathetic, compared to society at large, but it's still very haunting, while he's still remaining a fascinating character. You don't want the film told from any other perspective in the movie, he's really the only interesting character. Especially with monsters, most of them are simple-minded, they want to kill, they want to destroy, they want to suck your blood, or each your children, or whatever, and that's boring. Alex is a monster who's entertaining, that where he comes up number one.

Day 35: Favorite Trilogy: "THREE COLORS TRILOGY"
Kieslowski's "Three Colors Trilogy," with the film "Blue," "White," and "Red," in that order, the same as the French Flag, some of the greatest films you'll ever see. I've watched multiple times, every time, I find something new and fascinating about them. The colors stand for "Liberty," "Equality," and "Fraternity/Brotherhood", but they're very unusual ways to go about them. "Blue," has Juliette Binoche, as a woman who's husband, a famous composer, and their kid, has recently died in an auto accident, and in response, she decides to completely abandon everything about her life beforehand. She moves to a different part of the city, she puts most of her money away, she tosses many of her possessions, and just when it seems like she's found a new freedom, her old life comes back in a surprising way. "White," starts in France, where Carol just got divorced from his wife Dominique, played by Julie Delpy, and when he's shipped inside a new a suitcase to a now-capitalist Poland, he starts to make a successful hairdressing business, all in a long-form plan to eventually get back at his wife. The third stars Irene Jacob as a student/model who nurses a dog back to health after accidentally running him over, only to find his owner, an old judge, not only uninterested in the dog, but listening he's intercepted phone lines and now spends most of his days listening in on his neighbors. The three films have also been described as anti-tragedy, anti-comedy, and anti-romance. Each film has many similarities, coincidences, and rare moments of chance that continually and surprisingly intercept with each other, and then there's the infamous sequence at the end of "Red," that brings all three movies together in a masterful poetic little sequence. I just love these movies!

Note: The clips for the "Three Colors Trilogy," ,may not be the ones I posted on the facebook page "30 Day Movie Challenge." In the time between that posting, and at the time of this blog being written, one or more of those clips were taken off of for copyright reasons. The following clips, as of this current time, as are all past, current and future clips, are available at the link below as of the time, this blog is published.

DAY 36: A Movie You Think Not Enough People Have Seen: "DINNER RUSH"
Once again, I resorted to a Top Ten List with this one, and frankly I could made a Top 100! For "Star Wars," "Jaws," and "The Dark Knight," there dozens of lesser-seen films, that are probably just as worthy of being seen, if not moreso. Here was the ten (Oh, actually 11, one had a tie) I narrowed down:
10. "Mary and Max"-Most touching animated movie you've never heard of.
9. "Chaos"- Colline Serreau's masterpiece, didn't get a theatrical U.S. release.
8. "Blue Valentine"-The best acted and least seen great film from last year.
7. TIE: "Bad Lieutenant" and "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"- Both masterpieces, both mostly unseen.
6. "Where the Truth Lies..."-I could've picked a few Atom Egoyan films, but this one got the dreaded NC-17 rating, so it opened practically nowhere.
5. "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters"-Banned in Japan, it's one of the best biopics ever made.
4. "El Topo"-Caught up in legal disputes for decades. Only recently re-released.
3. "Cinema Paradiso: The Director's Cut"-Call me blasphemous, but I'm not even sure the movie works at all without the great 50 minutes of footage that was originally cut.
2. "A Home at the End of the World"-If you don't think Colin Farrell's a great actor, you probably missed this little masterpiece.
My number one, though it isn't exactly the hardest to find, but it's special for me. It's one of the few movies I own a copy of and watch regularly. Being Italian-American, we all essentially want to be Rocky Balboa, or we want to own a successful Italian restaurant. That's a variation of an old joke, but I do love a good food movie, and "Dinner Rush," is the best food movies, and very few people have seen it actually. Directed by music-video-director-turned-restauranteur Bob Giraldi, and shot in his own restaurant, the movie takes place in one night and takes place entirely on a Tuesday night at a trendy Tribeca eatery, the chefs fight with the boss, the sous chef owes money to the bookies, the bookies are dining upstairs, along with the cops, there's a running count of how many women the chef has slept with upstairs, and that's counting the food critic, and I've only just begun describing what happens. One customer asks "when eating dinner became a Broadway show?"; I'm not sure of the answer, but going to dinner and getting a Broadway show, seems like a good night to me.

I had a lot of good choice with this ones. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance came close for a while, but in the end, it was a tough call between "Bonnie and Clyde," "El Topo," and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." I actually think prefer the other two films, but they're both stretching as westerns a bit. "Bonnie and Clyde," a little more modern-day, structurally and timewise, even though it does take place in the 1920s, it's really a more modern film. "El Topo," I don't know what genre you want to put that into. Western, is actually the closest genre you can place that film in. But, "Butch Cassidy..." has been my favorite for years, and it really holds up, both as a classic western, even with more modern characters. It's adventurous, it's got all the elements of the genre, plus, maybe the greatest scene in the history of film. I've seen it more times than any other western, and if there's a western on that I will always sit down and watch, it's "Butch Cassidy..."

DAY 38: Favorite Comic Book Adaptation: "THE DARK KNIGHT"
I'm actually somewhat surprised that not only are so many really great comic book adaptations, but how many different kinds of comic books films there are. I actually comsidered very few superhero movies seriously, but movies like "A History of Violence," "Ghost World," "From Hell," "Akira," "Sin City,", all great movies, all comic book films, not a superhero among them. I also thought about "Watchmen," which has a bunch of superheroes too, but in the end, for all it's praise and popularity, "The Dark Knight," really is an amazing edge-of-your-seat film. First off, it's the Batman I always liked, it's the dark vigilante that almost as single-mindedly psychotic as some of the villains he goes after, and it sometimes turns this preposterous tale and treats it surprisingly realistically in a way that I'm not sure I would've thought was possible before, Christopher Nolan. You can watch it dozens of times and still get completely sucked into the film. Amazing film.

DAY 39: Favorite/Least Favorite Remake: FAVORITE: "BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS       
It's interesting that there's actually been quite a few really great remakes over the last few years. From the Coen Brothers "True Grit," Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," even as far back as Warren Beatty's "Heaven Can Wait," there are interesting experiment going on with taking old stories and retelling the stories. The best is Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans". Yes, it's an overly long title, but that's partly the appeal of the movie. Abel Ferrara wouldn't give permission to just have use "Bad Lieutenant," his great movie which starred Harvey Keitel as the title character, so Herzog, instead of changing the title, kept part of it, and then added a line from the movie as the rest of the title. I prefer his remake, but they're both great. I already wrote an entire "Canon of Film" blog on the film earlier, so I'll refer those interested to that article. My choice for least favorite, I bet surprises a few people. First off, it's considered one of the greatest films of all-time, and you'd be surprised how many great films are actually remakes. John Huston's "The Maltese Falcon," was actually made two previous time before his seminal version, and "The Wizard of Oz," by some counts was maybe the ninth time the film was remade. Cecil B. DeMille had the 1923 silent version of "The Ten Commandments," which is actually more interesting to watch in general, not only as a film, but as a curiousity as well. I think the Charleton Heston one is way too long to begin with, but my bigger issue is the look of the movie. The trailer shows some of the really lavish sequences and scenes that Demille was famous for, but most of the movie, look likes the worse sound stage of all-time. Literally, scenes are just actors standing in Egyptian costumes, waiting for something to happen, and that's a lot of the movie. It's a strange editing choice to focus on that as well. Rarely do I ever expect a biblical movie to be realistic, hell, a lot of biblical stories are told multiple times, and told completely differently perspectives, and that's in the Bible. Not-so-much in the Old Testament I'll admit, but it feels like everybody is standing around waiting for the sea to part, literally, and while that sounds like an acting problem, that's a directing problem. That's an editing problem. That's a set design problem, and I don't think the era it was made is really a good excuse here, 'cause I can think of movies with really amazing sets from that era, as well as movies that shot on location from that time, that still hold up today. Now, granted, there's probably a bunch of more recent remakes that if I ever watched them, would probably be far more horrendous than this one; we can all name a few, but I haven't seen a lot those yet, so for now, I have to say "The Ten Commandments," severely overrated, especially for a remake.

DAY 40: A Movie that you Wanted to be Remade: TIE: "6IXTYNIN9", and "THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER
Well, I've actually always wanted a remake of the aforementioned, "Blue," set in America, but I've already mentioned that film. Also, while I think the question is "Film I want to be remade," instead of film that I wanted to be remade, and got rewarded with the remake. Frankly, I can't really think of too many films for that question but that's how it was written on the website. Anyway, there's two kinds of movie that typically are the best ideas to remake, one is a foreign film that is reset in another country, usually America. (Or whatever great country you may be in.) "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," might have topped my list a year ago, but that's already been remade, and it's going to be released soo. So one of my choices is a film Thailand which is title "6ixtynin9," in America (and that's an inaccurate and terrible title), but it's a really great film, that I think if the Coen Brothers see, they'll think seriously about doing an American remake. (I think they borrowed a bit from it to make "Burn After Reading"). The movie involves a women's apartment, which, like 6's and 9's constantly do in movies, get confused for the wrong room, a package is left, for people to come for it, and soon, there's numerous dead bodies that have to be gotten rid of, plus more people coming for the package. It's almost a slow-motion farce, only with dead bodies, and it's intense, strange, and very funny as well. Speaking of farces with a bunch of dead bodies, I thought seriously about "Arsenic and Old Lace," for an older film to remake, but that's works better as a play than anything else, and I believe a new filmmaker would try to open it up too much. Also, Hitchcock's "Rope," for practically the same reason, although to make that movie in one take, like Hitchcock intended is very tempting. However, thinking about it for a while, "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer," I have a feeling would be greatly improved if it were made today. It's not the greatest movie, although it holds up well. Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, a teenage Shirley Temple, and it actually involves some strange things. A precocious teenager that's keeps showing up and conniving most everyone around her, especially Grant, who she's got a crush on, while he's trying to get with Myrna Loy. It's got a lot of weird, and somewhat taboo plot points actually, especially for a comedy, but I think it's an interesting challenge to make a modern-day, maybe darker remake of the film, and there's a few directions that the story could go, but nobody's ever tried it. I would be curious to see a result for that film.

Well, 20 left, 40 down, and I got eight hours to choose the movie I'll never see again. Not something I really want to think about either, however, I've gotten this far, and I shall go on, and probably learn about a lot more about myself.

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