Monday, December 29, 2008

Bad Indie Film

Boy. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is an incredibly stupid movie.

No plot! A hacked-together adventure. Racist claptrap. Whining blonde who added nothing to the story. Cute street kid who added nothing to the story. Plot holes big enough to fly a Ford Trimotor through. The sexual tension of two junior high kids on a class field trip. It was all the rage in 1984 because of the chilled monkey brains and the heart surgery and the subterranean roller coaster ride but that shit doesn't last.

I could get behind a good movie about a modern emergence of the Thuggee. This wasn't it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farewell, Butch

Paul Newman
January 26, 1925 - September 27, 2008

"I've got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Women in Film Video

Eveyone, check out this video. Watch the entire thing twice. First try without looking at the names. The expressions through each morph are amazing and I am sad to say I did not know about half of the first 50 years of films.

Women In Film from Philip Scott Johnson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


(CNN) - Don LaFontaine, the voiceover king whose "In a world ..." phrase on movie trailers was much copied - and much parodied - has died, according to media reports. He was 68.

Admit you've done the voice.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

25 Funniest Movies Since 1983 ?

So Entertainment Weekly has a new list of the 25 Funniest Movies Since 1983.

Their lists are always good for some argument. What do you all think ?

I created a bit of a rebuttal over at my place, but I thought I'd drop the puck here as well and see what you think about their list and/or my list.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Truth is stranger than fiction


After I left a comment at JodieKash's place, (thanks for the pic Jodie) I thought it might make for a film discussion about art imitating life or the other way around. This wackjob's life seems to be a combination of Katy Bates in "Misery", and Stephen Kings "Pet Semetary". How many other nutters are either influencing film, or have been influenced by film for strange and bizarre acts?
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In Memory of Grace and Sam Masoudi

Grace is the little one in the front wearing the pink shirt in the top photo. Sam is the dark-haired boy in the gray sports camp shirt in the bottom photo.

They were killed Monday morning when a small plane crashed into the house they were renting with their family on the Oregon coast. Grace was 8. Sam was 12. They were beautiful, wonderful children from one of the most incredible families I've ever known.

We'll miss them terribly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight

To relate my overall experience of watching this film, I refer to one reviewer who very aptly said, “I doubt I have soaked up enough in just one sitting to even do a good job at it.”

I concur, and because I saw it in a rather mediocre theater I will head ASAP to an IMAX showing of what is arguably one of the best superhero action flicks ever. Yes, the eye candy is spectacular for those heading out for some summer blockbuster escapism. And while the film gets a bit bloated with near-endless hyperactivity and a heavy-handed sense of the importance of its tragedy, the stellar cast takes another star – the Nolan brother’s script – and makes a pretty decent drama out of a mainstream popcorn flick.

With Batman Begins Christopher Nolan reinvented the franchise into its darkest, camp-free incarnation yet, and The Dark Knight takes it up at least a notch, which saying a lot considering the bulk of comic book movie sequels or for that matter first outings. For starters you’ve got returns from Christian Bale (best Bruce Wayne), Michael Caine (best Alfred, Cockney or no), and Gary Oldman (best Jim Gordon). But it’s the newbies who steal the show, and with opening scene it’s obvious it was set up that way.

In the role of the Joker, Heath Ledger makes chaotic evil utterly charming, sprinkled grotesquely with mad intelligence. Fans of the print comic will know what I refer to in saying he has all the punch that Alan Moore gave the character in The Killing Joke. All sentiment for his demise aside, not only do I support at least an Oscar nomination (and let’s not insult the performance by classifying it as a “supporting” role) but I hereby declare that no actor should ever again feel compelled to fill the shoes of the Clown Prince of Crime. Do I gush? I can’t help it if he was joy to watch. Jack Nicholson’s Joker was great in all his campy glory and Nicholsonness, but Ledger plays the character so intensely that you believe he can persuade his henchman of the sheer fun of burning a billion-dollar mountain of cash.

Aaron Eckhart brings the best rendition of Harvey Dent to the movies, which may not seem to say much in light of his competition being a cameo by Billy Dee Williams and a godawful performance by Tommy Lee Jones. I regretted the sparse denouement of Dent’s transformation into Two Face (great special effects/makeup!), feeling the villian could have taken a more active role. I hope I don’t spoil the Dent endgame in The Dark Knight too much by saying I will be pissed if he shows up in a sequel.

Other highlights of The Dark Knight were the great location footage in Chicago and Hong Kong and tons of really neat explosions to go along with impressive special effects. One small peeve I have is a hoped-for correction from the prequel, where Bale’s Batman often speaks in a low rasp. Alas, in the second film it gets even worse, so much so that at times subtitles could be useful. Although he said it works, I still agree with MSNBC’s Alonso Duralde, who said it’s somewhat akin to Brenda Vaccaro doing a Miles Davis impersonation.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Here he comes to save the day

I like the idea of a super-flawed superhero, one with the power to save the world and make it a brighter, happier place but none of the desire to. That's "Hancock". Loved the concept, not so enamored of how the tale played out.

The script didn't dumb it down, literally crashing viewers into the story, forcing them to believe in the reality of its premise from frame one. Jason Bateman, magnificent in “Juno" and even better here, plays a PR man with a heart of gold and vision of a better future without coming across as a do-gooder buffoon. He delivers the wry, comedic quip like no one else. Special effects are, of course, unbelievable and, of course, over done.

Then comes “the twist” (like a virgin on prom night, I won’t give it up). My brow remained furrowed in confusion until a cover-my-eyes-at-time violent third act and return of (really) not such a scary bad guy. And all good super heroes need a scary bad guy.

Speaking of bad guys, although not a fan of the franchise, I breathlessly and sadly await Heath Ledger as the “Joker”. The trailer had me to tears at just the brief glimpse of genius and madness. Shocking really.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"We're the Stains, and we don't put out!"

Today is a monumental day.

One I’ve been awaiting years, nee decades.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains" will be released on legit DVD September 16 for the first time. As I noted in comments, the movie shaped who I wanted to be as a teen, all punk rock, fuck you attitude, panties over fishnet hose and two-tone-hair. Part II here.

My birthday falls in the month of September, for those in need of gift ideas.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Am Legend

Do not watch this movie all alone in a big empty house.

* * *

My son and I went to see it in the theater. He got nervous when he found out it was a zombie movie. I don't think of it as a zombie movie, it's more a pseudo-sci fi thriller with intelligence and fine acting and, oh yeah, what amount to zombies. But the scene where Will Smith discovers much to his chagrin that what we are calling zombies might still have an active brain cell or two, my son needed to leave. So we left.

He was eighteen. I suppose some dads would have pulled the ah-toughen-up bit but not me. I was cool with it and we went to B&N and got some comfort coffee. This isn't only because I love and respect my kids. When I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty, I could get mighty nervous when out in the woods and the twilight started to deepen, and the shade under the trees went deep blue, and sight was uncertain, and the utter silence more frightening than any hooting owl or snapping twig. Last thing I'm going to do is be critical of someone for having a rich imagination.

* * *

Later took the wife for a movie-dinner date (we usually go for the matinee prices) and saw the whole thing. Thought it was pretty good. The premise is solid: A genetically engineered virus has been developed that cures cancer. Three years later we are treated to a shot of the flooded entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, jammed with long-abandoned automobiles. Will Smith is one of the very few with a natural immunity -- the zombies are people whom the virus didn't kill but instead turned into ravenous beasts. He was also the chief Army scientist working on a cure. He lives alone, continuing his work, haunted by solitude, beset with increasingly disturbing flashbacks. The flashbacks give us pretty much the entire back story.

Then shit starts to happen at an ever increasing pace.

I liked the ending. I didn't like that, upon reflection, the plot had a couple gaping holes in it. But in a movie you have to economize on plot, and I guess if you keep the action going most people won't notice.

* * *

I got it for Father's Day and while my family was away from home this week, loaded me up some dinner and beer and sat down to watch it. Maybe when in the company of others I keep my emotions in check -- maybe when alone my emotions are closer to the surface -- for whatever reason, in this showing I cried during the crying parts, and became depressed at all the depressing parts, and got all nervous and scared during the exciting parts. It seems that a story about bloodthirsty ex-humans who can come out only at night is particularly evocative when viewed in an empty house on an otherwise uninhabited acre in a neighborhood full of silence and open space and slowly moving tree limbs after the sun has gone down. Who would have guessed that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What would you like to see on a big screen?

I was just browsing this list at EW and I've seen a few of these films on the big screen (Titanic, GWTW, etc). I agree with most of the choices people presented in the list.

If you could see any movie(s) on a big screen (bigger than what's in today's multiplexes), what would you like to see and why?

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Funny, funny, funny.

I think of Saturday nights, gathered around the TV, a bit past my regular, weekday bed time and my mom laughing while sewing. Nice memory.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bringing up the young'ns with the classics

Saturday, we introduced The Holy Grail to our 9 yr. old son. He is quite the movie fanatic, having watched all 3 Lord of the Rings before he was 7... I suppose he is well rounded, or at least able to handle a certain level of plot....

I am happy to report that he found Monty Python to be quite entertaining! There are some adults out there who have no concept of British humor, so I'm quite proud of my boy. Or else Monty Python is targeted to 9 yr. old boys? That's a toss up.

Not only is he now hooked on Monty Python quoting bits around the house - hmmm, is that a good thing? My mom has now gotten him addicted to The Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello....

I wish more people would show their kids the classics, and not have them think that Spongebob the Movie is quality filminati....

Just my thoughts...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Rodgers & Hammerstein

Today's Amazon Gold Box deal is an extra $5 off the The Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection (60% off the list price) -- $39.99

For today only, save 60% on "The Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection," featuring two-disc editions of the classic musicals "The Sound of Music," "Oklahoma!," "Carousel," "The King and I," "South Pacific," and "State Fair."

My favorites are The King & I, The Sound of Music and Oklahoma. I've always liked the dark themes that run through those three musicals and how the film adaptations allow things that a stage production couldn't.

What are your favorite movie musicals, R&H or otherwise?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Recommended Book

I just read the advance copy of a memoir from Canadian writer, David Gilmour, and it's a doozy! The tag line reads: The true story of a father who let his son drop out of school-if he watched three movies a week.

The kid in question was in high school, in danger of dropping out anyway, and agreed to his dad's terms, which were that he had to watch 3 movies a week with him and he had to stay away from drugs.

It's an interesting, quick read, but at times it does get bogged down by minutia. What I enjoyed were the movie picks, and there's a list of all of them in the back of the book. Mr. Gilmour often split the movies into themes, which seem to ring true for me. One was "Buried Treasures," which included "True Romance," "The Last Detail," and "Murmur Of The Heart." The most creative theme had to be what Gilmour called "Stillness," which was based on his theory that an actor can steal a scene by simply not moving. That one included "High Noon," "The Godfather," and "Casablanca."

Did the kid ever go back to school? Should I be the spoiler? And did both he and his dad learn many lessons from their time watching and discussing films? What do YOU think?

The book comes out next week, so check it out if you like. It's called "The Film Club," and the author is David Gilmour.

WARNING:Here's the spoiler

(The kiddo eventually expressed interest in going back to school, so he prepped and took an exam to finish off his secondary education.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tear Jerkers

As I sit here watching Brian's Song, the question hits me. What movies brought you to tears, literally a wet face. This is mine, always has, always will. Well this and Old Yeller. What's yours?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monster Mash

Babies, we need a topic. Found one at, a photo essay of "22 Goofy Movie Monsters". Why 22? Perhaps to make me ask "why 22?"

Anarchist I am, my pick for goofiest monster is not from a movie, but the greatest children’s live action Saturday morning extraveganza of all time, "Land of the Lost." Sleestak ruled. One even wore a sparkly vest and could speak English. My brothers and I would play Sleestak often by running about and sucking air through our teeth, oven mitts on both hands.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Amazon deal on Cary Grant box set

Amazon's Deal of the Day today is the Cary Grant box set.

The Cary Grant Box Set (Holiday / Only Angels Have Wings / The Talk of the Town / His Girl Friday / The Awful Truth) (1938)

Regular prince is $50, sale is $20. So $4/movie isn't bad.

What's your favorite Cary Grant movie? What's your favorite Cary Grant performance?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Sam Diversion

A new post at Startling Stories!

Okay, it's just video of my boy, but you gotta start somewhere...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

M3 2008: The Champion!

Mønti Pythøn ik den Høli Gräilen

With a final score of Holy Grail 4, Young Frankenstein 2, The Grail has prevailed!

And with final scores of 103 each, Paticus and Asbestos Dust are co-champions of this year's March Movie Madness pool! They, along with O'Tim and Teacake, picked The Grail as the best comedy (or funniest movie) of all time.

Paticus and Asbestos Dust will each receive a digital certificate that they will be able to proudly display on their own blogs, as well as being recognized here at Film Freaks Film Club. Congrats and great work, guys!

Special props to Nat who managed to come in third without picking the winning film.

Here is the final breakdown of scores, along with each person's pick for the best comedy:

Paticus 25+18+24+18+8+10=103; Holy Grail
Asbestos Dust 25+18+16+18+16+10=103; Holy Grail
Nat 26+24+24+12+8+0=94; Some Like it Hot
O’Tim 26+16+16+12+8+10=88; Holy Grail
Teacake 26+18+8+12+8+10=82; Holy Grail
Lucy 23+20+20+12+0+0=75; Airplane
Brad 27+20+20+6+0+0=73; Dr. Strangelove
Lady Strathconn 21+18+12+12+8+0=71; Young Frankenstein
Looney 22+18+16+6+8+0=70; Dr. Strangelove
Paula 25+16+12+6+8+0=67; Young Frankenstein
Sour Grapes 22+18+16+6+0+0=62; Life of Brian
Eden 23+14+12+12+0+0=61; Duck Soup
Cody Bones 24+18+12+6+0+0=60; Airplane
Jodie 26+22+8+0+0+0=56; A Fish Called Wanda
Krissy 27+12+12+0+0+0=51; A Fish Called Wanda
Emma 19+12+8+12+0+0=51; Life of Brian
Joe the Troll 24+14+8+0+0+0=46; Being There
Arlene 11+6+4+0+0+0=21; Princess Bride

Thanks to everyone for playing. Can't wait to decide what we do next year!

Monday, April 7, 2008

M3 2008: Round 5 Standings

Well, it's officially a three-person race now. Asbestos Dust was the only person who successfully chose both movies in the championship round.

Champion announced tomorrow!

Nat 26+24+24+12+8=94
Paticus 25+18+24+18+8=93
Asbestos Dust 25+18+16+18+16=93
O’Tim 26+16+16+12+8=78
Lucy 23+20+20+12+0=75
Brad 27+20+20+6+0=73
Teacake 26+18+8+12+8=72
Lady Strathconn 21+18+12+12+8=71
Looney 22+18+16+6+8=70
Paula 25+16+12+6+8=67
Sour Grapes 22+18+16+6+0=62
Eden 23+14+12+12+0=61
Cody Bones 24+18+12+6+0=60
Jodie 26+22+8+0+0=56
Krissy 27+12+12+0+0=51
Emma 19+12+8+12+0=51
Joe the Troll 24+14+8+0+0=46
Arlene 11+6+4+0+0=21

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Charlton Heston Oct. 4, 1924 - April 5, 2008

Heston, shown being sworn in as NRA president.

Hollywood lost a big one last night. Heston's name is almost synonymous with classic high-budget cinema extravaganza. Let's face it, no one could smash stone tablets in righteous indignation like this cat could.

Rest in Peace, Chuck.

M3 2008: Semi-final Champ 2

SCORE: Young Frankenstein 4, Life of Brian 2

It's a Brooks vs. Python finale!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

M3 2008: Semi-final Champ 1

Holy Grail 5, Blazing Saddles 0

Le ballon rouge

I first chanced upon this 1956 French film by Albert Lamorisse on TV, and ever since I've been looking for a videotape or a DVD. Once I taped it from the TV station Arte, but they started early and I missed the start.

I wanted to have it for my children and myself because it's quite simply one of the best short films I can think of. For what it's worth, the film won a Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1956, and it's the only short film ever to win an Oscar outside of the short-film categories (for Best Screenplay, against La strada, The Bold and the Brave and The Ladykillers).

I'm not going to give anything away, because a first-time watching should be entirely from scratch. It's only 38 minutes long, and it won't matter a bit if you don't understand the French (there's next to no dialogue). I found it, finally, on Google Video, thanks to the excellent site Smashing Telly.

Albert Lamorisse, by the way, also invented the board-game Risk.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

M3 2008: Round 4 Standings

So we have Mel Brooks vs. Monty Python on the left, and Mel Brooks vs. Monty Python on the right. This round, each correct pick was worth 6 points. Nat maintains a (oh so very slight) lead, with Paticus nipping at her heels. Given that next round's picks are worth 8 each, and picking the champion is worth 10, there are still a possible 26 points out there to be had. Which means the top 6 or 7 peeps have a shot (including Teacake who, after falling mightily, found her footing and climbed heroically!).

Nat 26+24+24+12=86
Paticus 25+18+24+18=85
Asbestos Dust 25+18+16+18=77
Lucy 23+20+20+12=75
Brad 27+20+20+6=73
O’Tim 26+16+16+12=70
Teacake 26+18+8+12=64
Lady Strathconn 21+18+12+12=63
Sour Grapes 22+18+16+6=62
Looney 22+18+16+6=62
Eden 23+14+12+12=61
Cody Bones 24+18+12+6=60
Paula 25+16+12+6=59
Jodie 26+22+8+0=56
Krissy 27+12+12+0=51
Emma 19+12+8+12=51
Joe the Troll 24+14+8+0=46
Arlene 11+6+4+0=21

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

M3 2008: Zeppo Region Champion

Life of Brian 5, Raising Arizona 2

That does it -- the Final Four is set, and it's turned into the Mel Brooks vs. Monty Python competition!

I'll post standings tomorrow, but suffice it to say there are still a number of people in the running.

M3 2008: Chico Region Champion

Blazing Saddles 6, Annie Hall 0
A shutout!

Mel Brooks has two of the Final Four! Hooray, Mel!

M3 2008: Harpo Region Champion

Young Frankenstein 5, Some Like It Hot 2

M3 2008: Groucho Region Champion

Holy Grail 9, Dr. Strangelove 3

Monday, March 31, 2008

M3 2008: Round 3 Standings

Better watch it, everyone, or Nat's gonna run away with this thing...

Lucky for you there are three more rounds, so it's still definitely up for grabs. Brad remains in a solid second, and Paticus and Lucy made some big strides moving up the ranks. Poor Teacake stumbled mightily, and Looney, despite all his bitching and moaning, has moved into the top-half.

Correct picks were worth 4 points each this round. Next round they'll be worth 6!

Nat 26+24+24=74
Brad 27+20+20=67
Paticus 25+18+24=67
Lucy 23+20+20=63
Asbestos Dust 25+18+16=59
O’Tim 26+16+16=58
Jodie 26+22+8=56
Sour Grapes 22+18+16=56
Looney 22+18+16=56
Cody Bones 24+18+12=54
Paula 25+16+12=53
Teacake 26+18+8=52
Krissy 27+12+12=51
Lady Strathconn 21+18+12=51
Eden 23+14+12=49
Joe the Troll 24+14+8=46
Emma 19+12+8=39
Arlene 11+6+4=21

Saturday, March 29, 2008

M3 2008: Harpo Region, Round 3

Some Like it Hot 7, Tootsie 2
Young Frankenstein 10, Best in Show 1

M3 2008: Chico Region, Round 3

Annie Hall 6, Airplane! 6 (what a match... went down to the wire, ended in a tie, and the tie goes to the higher seed)
Blazing Saddles 8, M*A*S*H 3

M3 2008: Zeppo Region, Round 3

Life of Brian 8, Duck Soup 5
Raising Arizona 4, Caddyshack 2

M3 2008: Groucho Region, Round 3

Sorry this took so long!!!

Dr. Strangelove 8, Odd Couple 2
Holy Grail 12, Fish Called Wanda 3

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Interlude: Movies from Hell

There is one other requirement for a movie to be considered one of the worst ever: it must keep getting worse. By this, I mean that it not only must keep getting worse while you are watching it, but it must, upon subsequent viewings, seem even worse than the last time you saw it. That is what distinguishes Ishthar from Gigli and Showgirls from Swept Away. Widely viewed as one of the worst movies ever when it was released in 1987, Ishtar actually has several comic moments. Gigli doesn't. Similarly, Showgirls has a certain campy allure that grows a bit each time I see it. Madonna's Swept Away doesn't; it seems more amateurish on each viewing, like a morass that starts out as a quagmire, then morphs into a cesspool and finally turns into a slime pit on the road to its ultimate destination in the bowels of Hell.

Joe Queenan -

Why not next year do excruciatingly bad films? That might be fun.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Diversion: M3 2009

I'll be posting Round 3 results for M3 2008: The Comedies tomorrow, but I figured it would be fun to have a diversion.

What should the theme of next year's March Movie Madness be?

So far I've heard Oscar Winners, Quotable Movies and Musicals.

Votes for any of those? Any other ideas?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

M3 2008: Round 2 Standings

This round, correct picks were worth two points a piece. Way to go, Nat! The numbers below are first round score, second round score, and total after two rounds.

Nat 26, 24, 50
Jodie 26, 22, 48
Brad 27, 20, 47
Teacake 26, 18, 44
Asbestos Dust 25, 18, 43
Lucy 23, 20, 43
Paticus 25, 18, 43
O’Tim 26, 16, 42
Cody Bones 24, 18, 42
Paula 25, 16, 41
Sour Grapes 22, 18, 40
Looney 22, 18, 40
Krissy 27, 12, 39
Lady Strathconn 21, 18, 39
Joe the Troll 24, 14, 38
Eden 23, 14, 37
Emma 19, 12, 31
Arlene 11, 6, 17

Friday, March 21, 2008

M3 2008: Chico Region, Round 2

Annie Hall 9, Something About Mary 6
Airplane 12, Bringing Up Baby 2
MASH 8, Big Lebowski 6
Blazing Saddles 11, When Harry Met Sally 6

M3 2008: Harpo Region, Round 2

Some Like it Hot 8, Princess Bride 6
Tootsie 7, American Graffiti 5
Best in Show 5, The Jerk 5 (tie goes to the higher seed, Best in Show)
Young Frankenstein 12, Blues Brothers 2

Thursday, March 20, 2008

M3 2008: Zeppo Region, Round 2

I have to admit, I'm terribly disappointed in the bottom-half of this region. I love Raising Arizona and Caddyshack both, but seeing It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and It Happened One Night both go down makes me sad. Personally, I think they deserved better. The voting on both of those matches was very, very close. Also, it was bad enough that I put Life of Brian up against Arsenic and Old Lace in the first round, but then it had to go up against Philadelphia Story in the second! What the hell was I thinking?

Duck Soup 10, Ferris Bueller 6
Life of Brian 13, Philadelphia Story 1
Raising Arizona 7, Mad World 5
Caddyshack 7, It Happened One Night 6

M3 2008: Groucho Region, Round 2

A couple close ones here, but I don't think any huge surprises. The biggest upset was A Fish Called Wanda over The Graduate, but I don't think that was a huge surprise. Thoughts?

Dr. Strangelove 10, Spinal Tap 5
The Odd Couple 6, The Producers 5
Holy Grail 16, His Girl Friday 2
A Fish Called Wanda 8, The Graduate 5

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

M3 2008: A Letter from the Commissioner

There have been many comments, spanning a number of posts, relating to the notion that the winning films represent the most mundane, ordinary, lowest-common-denominator taste in movies.

Since this is a significant (and emotional) topic, I thought it deserved its own post.

I assert that, were this a contest with thousands of participants forming an accurate representation of the general movie-watching public, the above statement would be a hard one with which to argue.

But this contest has only 18 participants, none of whom would I describe as mundane, ordinary, ignorant, culturally lacking or lowest-common denominator. Far, far from it. What's cool as hell to me is that the people participating in this contest have actually seen a lot of these movies. With a different group of friends, I'd have had to put Tommy Boy and Scary Movie 3 in there just so they'd have something to vote for.

As I said in the last post's comments, the following "classics" won their first-round match-ups:

Dr. Strangelove
Odd Couple
His Girl Friday
The Graduate
Annie Hall
Bringing Up Baby
Some Like it Hot
Duck Soup
Philadelphia Story
It's a Mad... World
It Happened One Night
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein
Holy Grail
Life of Brian

That's more than half of the winners. If only lowest-common denominator movies got picked, what's that say about the flicks above?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

M3 2008: Round 1 Standings

Here are the total points and standings after one round. It's crowded at the top!
(Sorry, Krissy, I don't know what the hell I was counting, but thanks for making me count again)

Brad 27
Krissy 27
Nat 26
Jodie 26
O’Tim 26
Teacake 26
Asbestos Dust 25
Paticus 25
Paula 25
Cody Bones 24
Joe the Troll 24
Eden 23
Lucy 23
Sour Grapes 22
Looney 22
Lady Strathconn 21
Emma 19
Arlene 11

M3 2008: Chico Region, Round 1, 2nd Half

Annie Hall 16, What's Up, Doc? 1
Something About Mary 10, Rushmore 7
Bringing Up Baby 11, Moonstruck 6
Airplane! 15, Seven Year Itch 3

M3 2008: Harpo Region, Round 1, 2nd Half

Some Like it Hot 13, Slap Shot 4
The Princess Bride 12, The Thin Man 6
American Graffiti 14, Modern Times 4
Tootsie 14, Diner 4

M3 2008: Zeppo Region, Round 1, 2nd Half

Raising Arizona 13, Harold and Maude 4
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 15, Withnail and I 2
Caddyshack 15, Up in Smoke 2
It Happened One Night 13, Little Miss Sunshine 4

M3 2008: Groucho Region, Round 1, 2nd Half

His Girl Friday 13, Manhattan 5
Holy Grail 18, Abbott & Costello 0
A Fish Called Wanda 11, A Shot in the Dark 6
The Graduate 12, Arthur 5

Monday, March 17, 2008

M3 2008: Chico Region, Round 1, 1st Half

Big Lebowski 13, Harvey 5
M*A*S*H 12, O Brother 6
When Harry Met Sally 10, Ghostbusters 8
Blazing Saddles 18, Repo Man 0

NOTE: Some combined scores add up to 18, and some only to 17. That's because one participant did not pick every game (opting, instead, to place question marks for matches containing unseen movies). This had the biggest impact in the Harpo Region, where one vote could have forced a tie in two of the matches (which would have gone to the higher seed, overturning the current result).

M3 2008: Harpo Region, Round 1, 1st Half CORRECTION

Sorry, folks, I had a recount and discovered that The Blues Brothers and Animal House tied...

Best in Show 9, Being There 8
The Jerk 9, A Night at the Opera 8
The Blues Brothers 9, Animal House 9 --> Tiebreaker goes to The Blues Brothers!
Young Frankenstein 15, Stripes 3

M3 2008: Zeppo Region, Round 1, 1st Half

Duck Soup 16, Shampoo 2
Ferris Bueller 15, Adam's Rib 3
Life of Brian 15, Arsenic and Old Lace 3
Philadelphia Story 11, Big 7

M3 2008: Groucho Region, Round 1, 1st Half

Dr. Strangelove 15, Austin Powers 2
Spinal Tap 14, Groundhog Day 3
The Odd Couple 17, Shallow Grave 1
The Producers 10, Clerks 7

Sunday, March 16, 2008

M3 2008: The Polls are Closed!

All the brackets are in, and the games are about ready to begin.

This year, we have 17 18* participants battling it out for March Movie Madness supremacy. Here they are, in the order in which they turned in their picks:

Asbestos Dust
Joe the Troll
Cody Bones
Lady Strathconn
Paris Dreamer
Sour Grapes

Remember, you guys picked the winners, not me!

The first half of Round 1 results will be up tomorrow (Monday, March 17). I foresee everything from brutal blowouts to double-overtime nailbiters.

Let the games begin!

*Looney snuck in at the last possible minute. Yea, Looners!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad March

The fact that several Film Freaks made mention of pencils is testament to the bitch of a bracket put forth by the Jefster in this year's contest, The Comedies. Surely the chief himself struggled and finagled through the construction of four sixteen-film regions, evident in seedings so insane that this commentator now questions his ability to make it through the duration.

In the pre-announcement excitement of comments, many from veterans of last year's squeaker amongst the cream of the classics, memories of comedic favorites were bandied about with such glee and force as to resemble "amputees corner" at the VFW on 50-cent domestic draft and bingo Mondays. These folks were begging for punishment, and they were not disappointed for that when their slobber and zeal was sucked up by the necessary paring to 64 from many hundreds of possibilities. "C'est la guerre," the chief snorted, "et la MADNESS! BWAHAHAHAHA!"

Good sports all (most of), these Freaks, and the graphite scribblings began in earnest to discern the victors in match-ups such as will fire up the Chico Region with the deliciously un-PC slapstick of Blazing Saddles v. the dark, post-punk nihilism of Repo Man (2 p.m. EST at the No. 6 Dance Hall at Whassamatta U.). The former is presented at a perhaps sacreligious seeding of TWO whilst the latter leaks a certain dim underdog glow from its trunk (read boot for our UK players) with what is arguably one of the best soundtracks in the entire bracket. Other cruel pairings that were noted include the unparalleled subversive wit of Ring Lardner Jr. via M*A*S*H v. the superb period piece cum Homeric legend in O Brother Where Art Thou; the Harpo Region's cannibalistic Belushi on Belushi sumofest that will be Blues Brothers v. Animal House, with the latter having home court advantage at Delta Tau Chi's backyard hoop, and the powerhouse Dr. Strangelove (a high finisher in last year's classics Madness) v. a strangely low-seeded Austin Powers, tipping off Saturday at the Captain Spalding Arena. Madness surely ensues, film fans.

As a parting shot in today's commentary, I feel obligated to report some of the exclamations overheard in the Leaderboard Lounge on announcement day:

"What, no Lost In America? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Bull Durham? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Private Benjamin? Is he MAD?"

"What, no After Hours? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Bad News Bears? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Good Morning, Vietnam? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Planes, Trains and Automobiles? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Is he CRAZY?"

"What, no Midnight Run? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Parenthood? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Little Big Man? Is he mad at ME?"

"What, no Swingers? Is he MAD?"

"What, no My Cousin Vinny? Is he MAD?"

"What, no Meatballs? Is he MAD??!!"

"What, no Toy Story? Is he MAD?"

So it goes ...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

M3 2008: Picks Due Tomorrow! (deadline extended 1 day)

I've gotten 10 12 14 brackets turned in, so I'm extending the deadline one more day. If you want to participate, get your picks in Saturday, March 15!

I'll tell you folks right now, the picks are wide and varied, which will ensure a most intriguing and exciting tournament! If you care to, go ahead and post a link to the competition on your blogs. The more participants the better, if you ask me.

In the meantime, a little comedy from one of my personal favorites, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World:

Monday, March 10, 2008

M3 2008: The Complete Bracket

Here's the whole shebang. Make sure you read the rules and regulations.

Let the games begin!

If you'd rather have a PDF of the bracket, email me at jefflkos at gmail dot com and I'll send you one.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

M3 2008 Selection Sunday: Zeppo Region

M3 2008 Selection Sunday: Harpo Region

M3 2008 Selection Sunday: Chico Region

M3 2008 Selection Sunday: Groucho Region

I know I said I was going to wait to post the bracket on Monday, but I just can't wait!
Throughout the day today I'm going to reveal each of the four regions separately. Tomorrow I will post the complete downloadable bracket for you to fill out.

Make sure you read the rules and regulations.

Here it is... the Groucho Region!

March Movie Madness 2008: Rules and Regulations

I'm going to give the abbreviated R&Rs first, for those who participated last year. I'll then follow up with more detailed instructions for those who aren't familiar with a bracket-style pick-em tournament, or at least didn't participate last year. If you have any questions at all, please email me at jefflkos at gmail dot com.

COMPLETED BRACKETS MUST BE EMAILED TO jefflkos at gmail dot com BY 8 PM EDT FRIDAY, MARCH 14 (to figure out what time that is where you are click here)
  • Complete the entire bracket, including the winning movie.

  • All matches will be determined by popular vote -- the movie with the most votes in any match moves on to the next round.

  • In the event of a tie, the higher-seeded movie will be declared the winner.

  • All movies have been given a ranking, from 1 - 64, so that, in the event of a tie between two same-seeded movies (only possible in the last two rounds), the movie with the highest overall ranking will be declared the winner. This master ranking will be posted after all entries have been turned in.
  • You receive points for every correct movie pick. Point values are as follows: Round 1=1 point; Round 2=2 points; Round 3=4 points; Round 4=6 points; Round 5=8 points; Round 6 (championship)=10 points


Okay, here are some more detailed instructions for the uninitiated:

  • Every two stacked lines represent a match between two movies. Example: In the first round, Dr. Strangelove and Austin Powers are competing against each other, as are Caddyshack and Up in Smoke.

  • Each of the four regions have 16 movies, which are "seeded" from 1 to 16. The #1 seed is considered the favorite in that round, on down to the #16 seed, which is considered the biggest long shot.

  • Pick the movie you think should be the winner between the two, and write that movie's name in the line to the right. Do that for the entire first round, all four regions.
  • You should now have 32 movies in the "2nd Round," creating 16 new matchups. Once again, pick your winners to get down to the "Sweet 16."

  • Fill out the entire bracket this way until you have one final champion, the movie you believe deserves the title of "Best Comedy of All Time."

  • Make sure you fill in every line!

Friday, March 7, 2008

M3 2008: A Sneak Peak

Here's a sneak peak at a few match-ups you'll see in the bracket, to get some more debate going. I'm not going to tell you the seeds, just the match-ups.

Being There vs. Best in Show

When Harry Met Sally vs. Ghostbusters

The Blues Brothers vs. Animal House (yes, I pitted Belushi against himself, because I'm a sadist!)

Gives you a little idea of just how tough this one's going to be, eh?


Monday, March 3, 2008

M3 2008: More Pre-discussion

Thought you'd like to know that of all the movies listed in the comments in the previous post, 12 of them didn't even make the field of 64.

Bet you can't guess which.

Also, which movies do you think might have the potential of being sleepers? Not necessarily to win it all, but to maybe go deeper into the tournament than you might expect at first glance. Movies that might upset a higher seed or two and find their way into the Sweet 16 or higher.

Remember, this year's match-up winners are going to be determined by you, not me. Whichever movie gets the most votes moves on to the next round.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March Movie Madness Quandary

Last year, I based March Movie Madness off of AFI's Top 100 American Movies of All Time. So this year, for comedies, I planned to once again use AFI as my main source (taking many liberties in how I seed the movies because it's my competition, dammit).

I started seeding the films this weekend and I suddenly realized that if I stick to the AFI list, some funniest of the funny will be noticeably absent. Movies such as those by the Python fellows, The Ladykillers, Shallow Grave and Withnail and I, to name but a few.

I still haven't decided what I'm going to do, but I'm working on it.

UPDATE: I've decided what I'm going to do. And you'll find out when I post the full bracket, which will be on Monday, March 10. YES, I'M MAKING YOU WAIT ANOTHER WEEK!

In the meantime, let's get some conversation going:

If you were creating this bracket, what would your top four seeds be?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

March Movie Madness: The New Rules

As I said before, this year's March Movie Madness is going to be a competition of the greatest comedies of all time. But unlike last year, I'm not going to be the one determining which movies defeat which.

You are.

I will, as I did last year, determine the initial seedings and match-ups. But from there, the wins and losses will be based on your answers. Quite simply, the movies that get the most votes move on. So if, for instance, Life of Brian is up against Raising Arizona, and we have 19 participants, and 13 of them choose Life of Brian, then Life of Brian moves on to the next round.

No, I haven't done the seedings yet, so I have no idea if those two movies will actually be paired up.

That's the basic gist of it. I'll post official rules & regs when it gets closer to tipoff.

It's only three weeks away!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Every time I see Daniel Day Lewis act, my opinion of all other actors lowers a bit. He is easily the best actor of the past 20 years. No one else even comes close! The minute he comes on screen, he is the character, and I, as the viewer, have no recollection of him having ever been any other character in any other movie. Ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


He was brilliant.

Nat's Movie Cringe-Worthiness Scale

After wasting two hours of my life at this movie yesterday (but the kiddo loved it!), I've decided to formulate a new movie Cringe-Worthiness Scale. Of course, it will be a work in progress, and I'll cross-post at my own blog.

For starters, each of the following factors will be considered cringe-worthy:

1. Jason Lee starring in anything besides a Kevin Smith movie or in My Name Is Earl.

2. The use of lame montage sequences.

3. Live-action films with CG characters, especially cutesy rodents, that aren't from Disney and/or Pixar.

4. The soundtrack is better than the film.

5. Big Corporation Head is a lying, scheming jerk.

6. Biggest laughs are fart jokes.

We're off with a bang, considering Alvin And the Chipmunks is off the scale in each category:

1. You know, Jason Lee showed so much promise as a comedic leading guy in Mallrats. Sure, he was a prick, but you loved him anyway, kind of his portrayal of Earl on TV. In Alvin, he seems to try to rise above the material, but, let's face it, that's impossible.

The Chipmunks got famous! Here's a montage to prove it!
2. Montage sequences? I counted three, including one within the first 5 minutes of the movie. LAME!

Jason Lee sleeps with the rodents.

3. Combining live action and CG or traditional animation rarely works for me, but at least when Disney/Pixar is involved, it's creative and funny. These little rodents were just plain cloyingly annoying.

4. The soundtrack sucked, but it was still better than the film.

5. We get it already, movie makers! When little guy vs. Big Corporation, Big Corporation is always evil and Big Corporate Head is a dick. In this case, Big Corporate Head was phoned in by David Cross. I respect that, though, since he always admits he does this lame crap for the money. Still, he sucked in the movie. Very flat acting.

6. And, finally, fart jokes. I appreciate a good fart joke. Hell, one of my favorite movie lines is "I fart in your general direction." And the bean-eatin' scene in Blazing Saddles is classic! But, face it, fart jokes get overused. We have a new low here, with a chipmunk fart. How cute! Oh, puh-lease.

And so, friends, Alvin And The Chipmunks is my first 10 on the new cringeworthy scale! Congrats, Alvin and company!

You can use this handy little tool before you even hit the theater, too, to get the biggest bang from your movie-going bucks!

Remember, it's a work in progress, and I'll consider other cringe-worthy suggestions.
Note: Photos are from my crappy cell-phone camera. No worries, I didn't record the movie or anything like that guy did in Seinfeld.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Countdown to March Movie Madness

One month, 11 days.

This year, 64 of the greatest comedies of all time duke it out for the coveted title: Film Freaks' Best

Scoring system has been completely revamped. Details to come. But you'll love it.

Get ready!

Friday, January 18, 2008

"A comedy about growing up
...and the bumps along the way"

Going to see tonight. Heard super good things. Hope it lives up!

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep

I have a 10-year-old son who begs to go to every kid movie that he sees advertised on TV. Most of them are crap, and in 2007, I got dragged to see films I'd never even watch when they arrive on HBO or Showtime. (In 2007, they included Underdog, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, and Firehouse Dog.) I was thrilled with Ratatouille and Enchanted, so sometimes I get surprised.

The Water Horse is one of those rare films aimed at the younger set that I actually liked. I'll break it down a little:

Acting: Good, especially Alex Atel as Angus, Ben Chaplin as Mr. Mowbray, and Brian Cox as The Narrator (he's always damn good anyway, even with a heavy Scottish accent.)

Effects: The water horse emerges from his egg looking nearly real and remains that way as he grows into a very large monster in the loch.

Story: Fairly believable and totally enjoyable. I had a tiny quibble with the WWII Brit. troops on the watch for German uboats as the "bad guys," and the end was predictable, since it's a kid movie. My husband even leaned over to me and said "Free Willy!" right before Crusoe (the water horse) jumped. Yes, you can see that coming a mile away.

Cinematography: Beautiful wide shots of Scottish coastline are impressive.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Jesus Camp

Say what you like about vacuously hip exercises in emptiness like Babel, at least they don't threaten to make society unliveable for free-thinkers. That's the job of extremist fundamentalists of whatever stripe, in America represented by right-wing Christians or the sort portrayed in Jesus Camp, a documentary which looks at a Pentecostalist crusade to fire up children with the right sort of theocratic and political views.

The film was shown on A&E at the end of 2007, I learn, but it's been available on Google Video for months. I got around to it last night, and made it about 20 minutes in before I had to stop. I'm sorry, it's just too disturbing.

It's not that the views held by these people are overly wacky. They're not especially. It's amusing, for instance, to hear American Christians guffaw about the 72 virgins in Heaven thing, all the while wholeheartedly believing the world was made 6000 years ago, or that man and dinosaurs both boarded the Ark. Clearly, nutcase beliefs are not the exclusive province of one religion or the other (do Christians who mock Scientologists even realise how nutty their own space-cadet ideas sound to outsiders?).

What's scary about Jesus Camp is the very real possibility that such people could get close enough to real power to touch the hem of its garment. As I write this, Mike Hucksterbee has won some kind of caucus to put him on the road to the presidency. All right, it may not happen this time. But this is a death-cult which worships a man who was nailed to a tree. If you cut them in half they grow back twice as strong. They will keep fighting. Look at the glint in some of those eyes. This movement is something to fear.


I sat through the two hours of this 2006 film on DVD knowing my life was seeping away from me never to return, but sweet merciful sleep would not come, and I didn't do the obvious thing and turn it off. So I suppose I only have myself to blame.

I'd been attracted by the trailer, like a fool, because it seemed somewhat similar in feel to Steven Soderbergh's Traffik, in having a multiple POV and being filmed asynchronously in different places.

Not a bit of it. Traffik was cohesive in narration and there was a point to showing the various POVs. This film, on the other hand, only has a single narrative strand: boys given gun to guard goats loose off a shot in the desert that actually hits someone. That random act has two consequences, one immediate and one delayed, which takes place elsewhere. But it's all very plodding and literal. And there's never at any moment the feeling that these events have a wider meaning.

And excuse me, but WTF is the significance of the Japanese segment? Aside from getting a schoolgirl out of her clothes (the actress is in her twenties, but still) what was the point?

Babel was made by Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, and it's also the dullest film I've ever looked at. Though shot in Japan, Mexico, the US and Morocco, it offers not a single arresting image. The characters are cyphers, not real people. Even although it's two hours of unremitting misery (the Mexican band is cheerful enough, but you're waiting for one of them to be murdered at any moment, as I believe is current on the Mexican music scene these days) there's no reason to be particularly troubled: I hadn't been given a reason to care about any of them, though I suppose the children acted well.

Despite that, the film won a slew of Oscar nominations (it won an Oscar and a Bafta for the score), as well as a nomination for the Palme d'Or at Cannes (Ken Loach actually won, which I think is actually French law) and a director's prize for Iñárritu at the same festival. I can only imagine they thought he was being mildly anti-American in portraying the US border guards as slightly unpleasant, and nobody else that year was being more overtly anti-American. In addition, it's all done in local languages, which must have delighted the jury.

We don't give out star ratings on this site, but that's not the reason I'm not giving Babel any.