Saturday, August 11, 2007

alongwaltz: 10 Great Films

D/W: Roman Coppola

When you’re the son of Francis Ford Coppola, the brother of Sofia Coppola, and the cousin to Jason Schwartzman and Nicolas Cage, and you decide to enter the movie business, there’s bound to be some pressure on you. But when your first feature-length film is a wonderful film like CQ, you can let some of the pressure go.

In Paris 1969, a sci-fi movie is being filmed which takes place in the distant future, the year 2000. Sexy star Agent Dragonfly causes trouble for her director until independent filmmaker Paul (Jeremy Davies) is brought in to complete the film. Paul must struggle to come up with an ending for the movie as he begins to fall for Dragonfly and the line between reality and fiction begins to blur.

D: Nicholas Webster
W: Glenville Mareth

Now some people will try to claim this as one of the worst movies ever made. These are the same people who accuse Ed Wood of being a hack. These are the people who can’t see the forest for the trees. This movie does not contain Oscar-winning acting, groundbreaking special effects, or any tear jerking scenes. But it is a blast. It’s fun!

When Kimar and Momar’s Martian children appear listless and unresponsive to everything their life with the exception of Earth television programs, they investigate and find their children, Bomar and Girmar, especially adore this Earth figure known as Santa Claus. So Kimar and his men come to Earth to kidnap Santa Claus and bring him to their planet to bring Christmas to the Martian children. In search of Santa Claus on Earth, they also kidnap little Billy and his sister Betty. However, upon arrival on Mars, Kimar and Santa face treachery from Kimar’s rival Voldar who seeks to remove Santa from the operation – permanently.

The highlight of the movie is not the comic relief Dropo, but the villainous Voldar. Watch for his great facial expressions and lines. As well as hilarious jokes like:

Hargo: What’s soft and round and you put it on a stick and you toast it in a fire, and it’s green?
Kimar: I don’t know. What?
Hargo: A Martian mellow.

D: Michael Curtiz / William Keighley
W: Norman Reilly Raine / Seton I. Miller

Errol Flynn stars as the eponymous hero in the first sound film version of the Robin Hood legend. With Claude Rains (The Invisible Man) as the scurvy Prince John, the film bursts with action, adventure, comedy, and romance. Robin has some great lines such as:

Lady Marian: Why, you speak treason!
Robin: Fluently.

Errol Flynn is charming and fun to watch and this movie earned its Best Picture Oscar nomination.

D: Bruce McDonald
W: Noel S. Baker

Legendary Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald took Michael Turner’s book Hard Core Logo and turned into a tremendous rockumentary and possibly the most realistic look ever into the life of a rock and roll band.

Headstones singer Hugh Dillon plays Joe Dick, the singer of Hard Core Logo. Callum Keith Rennie is Billy Tallent, guitar. The band is rounded out by John Oxenberger on bass and Pipefitter on drums. Hard Core Logo was the biggest name on the Canadian punk scene until they broke up. Now they’ve reunited to raise money for an old friend who was shot. As the band gets back together and piles into the van with the documentary crew tagging along to film the reunion, Hard Core Logo start across the country. But it’s not long before old tensions, addictions, infighting, and love and hate bubble up to the surface to finish something which was never properly put to rest.

Dillon performs the music of Hard Core Logo as backed by Vancouver punk band Swamp Baby.

D/W: Alexander Payne

Reese Witherspoon is Tracy Flick, the kind of obnoxious, overly ambitious person that anyone who went to high school is familiar with. And she’s running unopposed for student election. Matthew Broderick is Jim McAllister, popular teacher, who is quite put off by Tracy, which inspires him to coach football player Paul Metzler into running against Tracy. Unfortunately for Paul, his bitter sister Tammy Metzler is running against him as well after her lesbian lover leaves her for her older brother.

While the elections heating up and each party trying to outdo each other, Jim also has to deal with the fact that his wife has kicked him out of the house after he cheated on her with her best friend.

D/W: Peter Hedges

Katie Holmes (yes, that Katie Holmes, believe it or not) delivers an engaging starring performance in Peter Hedge’s Pieces Of April. April Burns is living alone in New York, dating her black boyfriend, and trying to cope with life. It’s Thanksgiving and her family is coming for dinner.

As boyfriend Bobby goes out on an errand, April deals with broken ovens, unpredictable neighbors, and the fear of disappointing her family, a family which consists of her father, brother, sister, grandmother, and a vicious, ill mother who finds every opportunity to belittle her.

D/W: Jeff Feuerzeig

When Jeff Feuerzeig (Half-Japanese: The Band That Would Be King) set out to craft a documentary about the life of indie legend Daniel Johnston, he had no idea what was in store for him. Feuerzeig was one of the first to be privy to a look at the trove of footage Johnston himself had saved over the years. An artist since birth, Johnston recorded his entire life using cameras, video cameras, tape recorders, and his markers. Hours of cassette tapes of songs and conversations and arguments filled his room. Hours upon hours of video footage. Showcasing the life of a genius.

The Devil And Daniel Johnston traces Johnston’s life from his childhood and teenage years in Texas to his life now at the age of 46. The documentary involves everything from home movie footage to MTV recordings to new interviews with Johnston, his family, and his friends and associates. And the story of his life is almost too farfetched to believe. From the time he ran away and joined the circus to his LSD-triggered mental breakdowns, time in and out of metal institutions, playing and performing with the Flaming Lips, Butthole Surfers, and Sonic Youth, and his crushing lifelong unrequited love of the funeral home girl.

If you’re not a fan of his music or art, this film should make you one. And if you are, you must have already seen it and loved it.

D/W: Richard Linklater

Before Sunrise is the most romantic movie you’ve (n)ever seen. Linklater’s script is fantastic and Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy invest so much in their characters that you believe every smile, awkward fidget, and look of longing is real.

Hawke is Jesse, an American traveling across Europe trying to forget an ex-girlfriend. Delpy is a French grad student returning home from visiting her grandmother. They meet on a train, start talking, and decide to get off together in Vienna. They spend the night walking around the city, falling in love, all too aware that they only have until sunrise.

D/W: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

When French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet set down to write The Fabulous Destiny Of Amelie Poulain, he had a handful of movies to his name, including the fourth American Alien movie and the fantasy epic The City Of Lost Children. Written for Emily Watson, Watson had to back out due to her inability to speak French and her prior commitment to Gosford Park. So Jeunet hired Venus Beauty Institute actress Audrey Tautou, and the results were staggering.

Jeunet depicts a pseudo-Paris free from crime, vandalism, and litter, where everyone knows one another, and the slightest action on someone else’s part is enough to change your life for the better. Amélie is a twenty-three year-old girl, hopelessly disconnected from the people around her and the love that she craves. She hides herself away in the simple pleasures of old movies, skipping stones, and taking care of the cat until one day she does a good deed for a stranger and watches how happy it makes him. From that point on, she sets off on a quest to bring happiness to the exterior people in her life, all while pursuing a young man who collects photo booth pictures, works in a porn shop, and plays a ghoul at the funfair.

D: Terry Zwigoff
W: Daniel Clowes

Daniel Clowes’ legendary graphic novel Ghost World is adapted for the screen by Clowes and Crumb director Terry Zwigoff. Former child stars Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson star as Enid and Becky, two disillusioned high school graduates forced to confront their futures, pipe dreams, and the strength of their friendship. Steve Buscemi costars as aging record fanatic Seymour and the only adult Enid can relate to.

Ghost World is one of the freshest, most hilarious satires of Middle America and the teenagers, Satanists, art teachers, convenience store workers, and adult porn stores that make up it. A brilliant piece of work.


xo said...

Wow, great list! A few near the top I've never seen. The last four on your list are amazing and could have easily be found on my list (luckily I didn't select any of them but a few were contenders). Now I've got some flicks to check out, thanks!

Anonymous said...

A husband and wife in line beside me at the library today were borrowing Ghost World.

Clearly they must have read my post.