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Sunday, September 18, 2011



I've been asked by numerous people over the years for a list of my personal all-time favorite movies. I've always tried to talk about film by genre grouping (silent films, serials, horror, action, drama...) but this time I'm just going to let it all hang out and tell you what movies stop me dead in my tracks. These are the top 13 films that if I see them during a channel surf or just need to escape the planet for a few hours...these ALWAYS do it! I'd almost say, without squinting, that these films represent something deep within myself, core themes and primal statements that at times are far more artistically revealing and confessional than surface words can express without too much coffee or absinth. I'm going to make a brief note or statement after each listing to offer thoughts or clues to my reasoning. I don't care if anyone ever agrees with me. These are my freak flags and I'm gonna fly em! If you find yourself curious then seek them out and watch them for yourself. Thank me now. Thank me later.

1) CITIZEN KANE 1941 (Orson Welles) - There has never been a more exciting and powerful movie ever made in the history of mankind. There are no short cuts in character development, story or visual effects. It is delightful, humorous, heavy handed and devastating. This film speaks to everyone who has ever seen it. Note: Equally amazing is the dvd bonus disc featuring the 2 hour documentary 'The Battle Over Citizen Kane' made in 1959 which offers an insider's look at the behind the scenes confrontation between Welles, RKO Studios and yellow newspaper journalist William Randolph Hearst.

2) METROPOLIS 1927 (Fritz Lang) - The only version of this film you should EVER see is the restored authorized edition with the original orchestral score issued by Kino Video. This version has every edit-scrap of the film and the proper sequence timing. Futuristic drama with strong social commentary and science fiction set in 2026. The cornerstone of German art cinema.

3) CHARIOTS OF FIRE 1981 (Hugh Hudson) - A biographical illustration of the human will and spirit coupled with the drive to capture greatness beyond one's normal reach. A more than inspiring tribute to Harold Abrahams and Liddell and their lives leading up to and during the 1924 Olympic Games. It is impossible not to be moved by this film. Beautiful and authentic in every way. A monumental score by Vangelis puts it over the top.

4) THE GODFATHER TRILOGY 1972/1974/1990 (Francis Ford Coppola) - Powerful and historical films based on the writing of Mario Puzo. Guys usually love these films for all the wrong reasons and miss the real story that really does need three films to realize. Sorry but I just can't cut these into segments. The second film is my favorite but you just can't watch these out of order. You have to eat the whole orange.

5) BATMAN RETURNS 1992 (Tim Burton) - Michael Keaton proves why he was the best Batman EVER in this twisted ADULT-themed masked hero psycho-maze by Burton. There is plenty of twisted and raunchy dialog as well as stunning visuals to warm even the hardest of hearts. I love Batman old and new but for some reason I just keep coming back to this dark tongue-in-cheek version. Extreme, relentless and playfully sexy. Maybe because it is also a Christmas movie.

6) BLADE RUNNER 1982 (Ridley Scott) - In my opinion Scott got it right with the original theatrical release. I find the Harrison Ford overdubs helpful and revealing to his inner workings. Visually stunning science fiction with an end-of-film exchange that brings me to tears every time. "All these things will be lost, like tears in rain." Precious and challenging with yet another Vangelis soundtrack to haunt and stalk your brain pan.

7) SUNSET BOULEVARD 1950 (Billy Wilder) - You will not be able to stop watching this movie once it gets started. There is never a dull moment. Gloria Swanson is a goddess as she plays an aging silent film star who has fallen out of fashion but refuses to let go of her former glory. An obsessive, creepy, dark, and revealing tale of the 'other side' of the Hollywood mythos. Wait until you see the monkey burial scene! Add a cast including legends William Holden, Cecil B DeMille, Buster Keaton, Erich Von Stroheim and other REAL icons from the period and you have one of the greatest films ever made. A haunting unrated two hour feast.

8) RADIO DAYS 1987 (Woody Allen) - This semi-sorta autobiographical tribute to life in the 1940s never fails to entertain and captivate. Allen plays on the historical lives of a Jewish NYC family and their neighborhood during the days when radio was king and TV was only a threat. Bittersweet, thoughtful and insightfully funny in all the right places. The more you understand the era the better it is. A great film for New Years Eve. In my opinion this is the most accessible film Allen ever made. Amazing period musical soundtrack.

9) SEVEN 1995 (David Fincher) - This movie contains one of the best sermons ever committed to the big screen...and it comes from the mouth of the villain. When I watch this epic, I find myself feeling the sighs of Morgan Freeman as he attempts to break newcomer homicide detective Brad Pitt into the ugly realities of the darker criminal offenders. On several occasions I want to punch Pitt's character in the face for his arrogance and stupidity. Sadly, he pays the ultimate price for his cocky and unteachable arrogance. Generational observations are all over this film ala 'Gran Torino'. Those only seeing this as a horror shock flick..well...need punched in the face. Pay close attention to the last quote of the movie and remember that Hemmingway blew his own head off. Feel free to discuss!

10) ED WOOD 1994 (Tim Burton) - It's close enough to the truth to be amazing. I can relate to this on so many levels it scares me! Contrary to popular belief, Ed Wood was NOT the worst film maker in the world. There's waaay worse crap being churned out by mainstream Hollywood and the B Movie indie set than ever before! Wood had heart and style. Real life works like this bio-pic.

11) THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 1991 (Jonathan Demme) - This damn thing is flawless from start to finish. "It puts the lotion in the basket." Anthony Hopkins is at his character acting best! Hannibal Lector is without a doubt the most chilling creature to ever appear on screen. I dare you not to curl up and touch your face during this movie.

12) BLUE VELVET 1986 (David Lynch) - What do the bugs in the grass have to do with the secret world of sadist kidnapper played by Dennis Hopper? How does the Robin at the end of the picture teach us the price of heroic behavior? Why did God tell us not to eat from the tree of the knowlege of good and evil? Think about what you are seeing. One of the most talked about films ever made. You'll never unsee it ever again!

13) THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION 1994 (Frank Darabont) - Anyone who has ever had to rise up out of a world of hell, adversity and hindrance will soar at the end of this film. The scenes at the end of the film speak most loudly to me as they will to you.

I could easily go on and list: The Fountainhead, The Name of the Rose, Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Modern Times (1936), Rollerball (1975), Angel Heart (1987) and The Elephant Man (1980) but that would take me way up to 20 and we can't do that now can we? Mentioning Young Frankenstein would be so far out of line that I just.... ENJOY! Hunt ALL of these down and watch them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011