Saturday, February 6, 2016

SINS OF OMISSION - Entries #22 - #34

I used to have this whole, neat, little paragraph detailing exactly what a "Sin of Omission" is, but it's not really 100% accurate anymore, so I'll just wing it. Let me try to explain this, so as not to over confuse anyone - as the new premise of this blog is a bit muddled, if I do say so myself.

I've discussed in detail, in the past, my desire to turn this blog's mission into something completely different. What was once a blog dedicated solely to chronicling my progress through the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, is now a blog about many things. However, the primary goal of this blog, as it exists today, is for me to chronicle and record my progress as I attempt to create my own 1,000 Movies You Must See Before You Die (because 1,001 is stupid). With me so far?

From here on out, every single film I watch is a candidate to get into my personal list. Whether my wife adds Footloose to her Netflix queue and begs me to watch it with her or I watch a movie that was nominated for Best Picture last year - anything and everything is fair game. After every 100 films that I watch, I sit down in front of that list of 100 and try to pick out the cream of the crop. My self imposed "rules" state that I can pick no more than 15 films and I try my best to pick at least 10. That's basically where we stand at this point...

So a few weeks ago I finished up another bout of 100 films and I've been taking my time getting here to present the official list. But, no worries - as the time has come to unveil my next set of selections into my personal greatest films list. This time around I'm entering 13 films for preservation on my list. Thirteen films that should have been in the 1001... book and it's a SIN that they weren't included. Read on...

CLICK HERE TO SEE A COMPLETE LIST OF THE LAST 100 FILMS I WATCHED. THESE FILMS WERE WATCHED BETWEEN JUNE 2015 AND JANUARY 2016

Entry #22
Dial M for Murder (1954 - Alfred Hitchcock)  10/10

Chosen because I'll never, ever forget the first time I saw Dial M for Murder. It was actually during my first attempt at tackling a list. My wife and I had just moved into our new apartment - newlyweds out on their own for the first time. We decided to give the IMDB Top 250 list a shot and thus, picked a particular day and printed the list as it stood on that day. Dial M... was #240-something. We went the local library (which, at the time, was a treasure trove of movies (I'm talking Blockbuster on steroids). One Sunday night, we sat down to check it out. My hopes were probably high, as I'd already been an established Hitchcock fan. What I didn't know was that I was about to view what would soon become my all-time favorite Hitchcock film (bold statement). The film finished and neither of us could stop gushing about it. It was eleven o'clock at night (maybe even closer to midnight), but we were still buzzing, so we decided to take a ride to the library and drop off the tape, just so we could keep talking about it. Twenty minutes, we were pulled over by a cop car, for having an expired registration (oopsies). I've seen Dial M for Murder several times since that hot August night in the summer of '07 and every time I do, I remember that story, that night my wife and I cuddled on the couch to watch Ray Milland plot the murder of Grace Kelly and when that failed, to plot the her conviction. It's just such a perfect movie for me. Not only do they get you to root for the murderer in the first half (just to see if he can pull this off), but then in Act II, they somehow make you do a complete 360 and root for the detective (played to utter perfection by John Williams). An all-time favorite of mine and one of the ones I really, REALLY shame THE BOOK for leaving out.



Entry #23
Mary and Max (2009 - Adam Elliot)  8/10

I suppose I chose Mary and Max because it was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. I'd once gone onto the IMDB message boards and put up a post asking for people to recommend movies to me that were animated, but weren't necessarily for children. What I got was a lot of suggestions to watch Japanese anime, which wasn't exactly what I had in mind. I'm intrigued by the idea of using animation (or in the case of Mary and Max, claymation) to tell about things other than talking fish and inanimate objects falling in love. In Mary and Max we're told the story of lifelong pen pals, who come from two very different backgrounds, but find that their personalities are more similar than they originally thought. I rarely cry at movies, but this one almost had me turning on the water works by the end.



Entry #24
Frances Ha (2012 - Noah Baumbach)  8/10

I was on a short Noah Baumbach kick in 2015, seeing both Frances Ha and The Squid and the Whale for the first time and absolutely LOVING both. The kick kept on rolling until I saw While We're Young and, Naomi Watts aside, was turned off.

Anyway, The Squid and the Whale didn't make it into the fold of this list, but Frances Ha does and I think it all has to do with Greta Gerwig, who I was mad about for weeks after seeing this. Can't really point to one thing that made me choose Frances Ha, other than the fact that it was just something that was up my alley. I really dug the black & white photography and the story - where not a lot happens, but somehow I was still transfixed to the screen - mostly due to the aforementioned Gerwig.



Entry #25
Creep (2014 - Patrick Brice)  8.5/10

Fucking "found footage" films, man - they get me every time. What is it about these amateur looking movies that always have me absolutely mesmerized and wanting more & more. In "Creep", we're presented the story of a regular Joe (they're always regular Joe's) who answers a Craigslist ad to come to a man's home and film a day in his life. It turns out the man, Josef, has cancer and is requesting the services of a vidographer, to document his final days, as his wife is pregnant and he wants to leave behind a memento for his unborn child. Things get weird early when Josef strips naked and has the videographer, Aaron, film him while he gives his imaginary, unborn baby a bath.

Screw the haters - I love this shit. Feed me all of your found footage Hollywood, for I will digest it with a smile. If I have a guilty pleasure in cinema, it's definitely these. I honestly don't think I've seen one that I haven't liked. The "creep" of the title is played by Mark Duplass, who, in my opinion, is brilliant in portraying his titular personality. This is one of those movies that had me immediately going to IMDB.com to see what the general consensus was. Turns out it wasn't great, but if you ask me, all of the plot holes & "doesn't make sense" arguments are unjustified. Within the context of this film, everything makes sense for the most part and it really is a true to it's title, in that it will creep you out



Entry #26
Deathtrap (1982 - Sidney Lumet)  8/10

Why I chose this movie:

1) Michael Caine
2) It reminded me of Sleuth
3) I had a blast watching it

'nuff said...



Entry #27
Wild (2014 - Jean-Marc Vallee)  8/10

I originally rated this a '7.5', but I'm upping it now, because in retrospect it belongs in that upper echelon of rating. This was, for my money, the Best Picture of 2014 - without too much question (although I'd say Whiplash has a claim to that nod too). The greatness of the film begins with the absolutely INSANE editing, which was brilliant and ends with the stellar acting job from someone who I used to underrate - Reese Witherspoon. If you watch an adapted screenplay and afterwards find yourself online searching to see where you can get your hands on the source material, that's always a good sign.



Entry #28
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008 - Kurt Kuenne)  10/10

Heartbreaking. That's the word that best describes this fantastic and very personal documentary from Kurt Kuenne, which tells the story of the murder of Andrew Bagby. This had been floating around my Netflix streaming queue for months and on my IMDB watch list for YEARS, before I got around to seeing it last fall. As I expected, it was blow away. Much like "Wild", this was one of the best edited films I saw throughout all of 2015 and as Orson Welles' said of "Make Way for Tomorrow", it could make a stone cry. Great, great stuff.



Entry #29
They Live (1988 - John Carpenter)  8/10

Another one of those famous "film's my brother showed me" - I first saw They Live when I was a youngster. Having grown up being spoon fed on professional wrestling, seeing They Live was a no brainer, since the film's star was none other than "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. I LOVED this when I was a kid, even more so for the plot, than the sheer appearance of one of my wrestling heroes. My brother and I used to sit in front of the TV with smiles as big as the Grand Canyon on our faces, watching Piper and Keith David beat the crap out of each other, all for the sake of one wanting the other to put on a pair of shades. I mostly chose this for nostalgia purposes, as I'll fully admit it features terrible acting from an otherwise brilliant "Rowdy" Roddy. Still though, I could watch this anytime and that's just the kind of thing I'm looking for when it comes to my personal list.



Entry #30
Panic Room (2002 - David Fincher)  8/10

I've flip flopped back & forth over this one throughout the years, but when I saw David Fincher's fifth film this past January, I was head over heels, as I sat in awe of suspense that would make Hitchcock proud. The plot is juicy, the acting fine (I've rarely, if ever, seen Jodie Foster better) and the general atmosphere of the film all combine to make for a movie that both casual movie goers and film snobs alike should be able to agree on. This marks the third David Fincher film on my personal list - Fight Club and Se7en being the previous two selections.



Entry #31
Pauline at the Beach (1983 - Eric Rohmer)  8/10

Chosen because, on a tough day, it helped me to forget about my problems - if only for a little while. Sure, it was a minor problem. I mean, all I had to do was go to work. But on this particular work day, it was to be the busiest day of the year - Black Friday. While that may be a joyous, money saving day for the consumers of the world, for a retailer, it's a nightmare. I wasn't due to start until 11:00am, so when I awoke just before 9:00, I had some time to kill. With my wife already off to work to cook for the nursing home residents on Thanksgiving morning, I popped Rohmer's 1983 feature into my DVD player and for a little bit, I forgot about the stampede of customers that would soon come rushing toward me in hopes of saving a few bucks. With forty or so minutes remaining, I intentionally stopped the movie, vowing to finish it when I got off that night - so that I'd have SOMETHING to look forward to that day. Thank you Mr. Rohmer for helping me to forget something I was dreading and thank you for giving me something to look forward to. This is what the movies is all about.



Entry #32
Man on Wire (2008 - James Marsh)  8/10

I saw Zemeckis' The Walk last month, but this is "where it's at" if you want the story of Philippe Petit's daring 1974 high wire walk between the two World Trade Center towers. This was the most fictionalized account I've ever seen a documentary give. I'm not saying that they stretched the truth or anything. I'm just saying that Man on Wire takes full advantage of splicing dramatizations with actual, archival footage and then mixing in some talking head interviews over everything, in another brilliantly put together documentary that rightfully took home the Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 2009 ceremony. Also the film features Michael Nyman's Fish Beach, a song that I'm such a sucker for in movies. Every movie should feature at least a snippet of Fish Beach.



Entry #33
The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975 - Melvin Frank)  8/10

Chosen because I freakin' love Jack Lemmon and adding another one of his films to my personal list just seemed like the right thing to do. Together with the marvelous Anne Bancroft, the two are knocking zingers over the outfield wall left & right, as the features them, together, in heavy dialogue scenes, where their back & forth is comparable to Roddick and Sharapova batting a tennis ball to and fro across a net. Wow - one sentence, two sports references. Sometimes Impressive. Anyway, if you've never seen this gem from the mind of Neil Simon (I fell in love with that guy in 2015), then track it down - which won't be easy since the DVD is out of print. I suggest TCM - that's where I found it.



Entry #34
Shame (2011 - Steve McQueen)  8/10

Last, but not necessarily least (although being LEAST in this group, wouldn't be a bad thing), is Shame - Steve McQueen's second feature and the film he made just two years prior to the Academy Award winning "12 Years a Slave". Since my fingers are getting a little tired of clickity-clacking on the keys, I'll let the review I wrote last November speak for Entry #34, if you don't mind...

From a technical standpoint, there isn't a lot wrong with Shame. Fassbender is fast becoming a favorite actor of mine, prompting me to add Hunger to my Netflix queue immediately and peruse his filmography to find other gems that have promise. The films main score by Harry Escott is powerful and fits in, calling to mind a desperate man, clutched by something almost demon-like. It calls to mind a group of friends who see a friend drowning, yet just can't save him - except Brandon is a loner, with no real friends, and that makes it even more dire. The main theme (titled "Brandon") makes me feel like there should have been a scene with Brandon just screaming into the heavens, it's that kind of powerful music where you just feel like the pains of the characters need to be exercised to accompany it. Keep your eyes peeled for key scenes, including a beautiful tracking shot of Brandon taking a jog at night, while blaring classical music and another of Carey Mulligan belting out the saddest version of New York, New York you'll ever hear.



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Well, thar she blows - my latest selection of films chosen for "preservation" on my personal 1,000 favorite films list. I hope you enjoyed perusing more of my thoughts and I hope you agree with at least some of my selections. Feel free to drop me a comment and tell me what I got right and what I didn't. Which of my selections you detest and which ones were chosen perfectly. It should be noted that about twenty other REALLY good movies were passed on during the selection process this go around. In the last seven months, I watched some doozies. This is partly why I changed my selection criteria so that, if I so chose, I could pick more than ten film, but absolutely no more than fifteen. One might wonder why I am putting such harsh rules on my own self. It's because I only want the cream of the cinematic crop and I intend to watch as many movies as I can possibly watch and scour the world for my absolute fav's. Films like Fruitvale Station, Chaplin's The Circus, Steve Jobs, Two Days, One Night, I Love You to Death, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Memories of Murder, Inside Out and A Tale of Springtime were all examples of fabulous movie making, that I just didn't have a place for. I hope you enjoyed the previous article and I'll be back with another one just like it, in the coming months.

Want some links? Wanna save my entire 1,000 list (which as of today, sits at just 333 films) on some popular websites? You got it!

IMDB
iCheckMovies
Letterboxd
Listal

February 6, 2016  10:24pm

4 comments:

  1. Let me leap straight into being delighted to see 'Mary & Max'. If I missed your request for animations suggestions, or if I failed to include that one .. sorry. I should have done.
    A magnificent film that I also found very moving.

    M for Murder is, of course, great.

    'Man on a wire' .. Seen it, it was interesting, but not one I'd treasure.

    As for the others .. I think we have already done 'Shame' .. and that just leaves some I've not seen. You have aroused my interest in 'The Prisoner of Second Avenue', which i will file away as 'must try and find sometime'

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    1. Thanks for commenting Ray. Glad to know you're still reading. I had a hard time finding The Prisoner of Second Avenue, as Netflix didn't have it available. Managed to track it down via Turner Classic Movies. If you like Neil Simon, I can't imagine you wouldn't like it.

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  2. I've never understood the omission of Dial M For Murder! I think if they wanted to have a certain number of Hitchcocks they could have replaced Sabotage.

    I wanted to hear your thoughts on my blog; Ray and I were talking about the term "chick flick" and if it is offensive or not. We were talking about it on my Terms of Endearment post!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Amanda. I agree - Dial M is definitely one of THE BOOK'S biggest misses...

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SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #63: ALADDIN (1992)

Running Time: 90 minutes Directed By: Ron Clements, John Musker Written By: Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Bu...