Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Empire Magazine's 100 Greatest Films List Signifies A Sad State of Affairs

This month's issue of Empire includes the magazine's recent audience poll that resulted in the top 100 films of all time, and while there are certainly a few films that were placed precisely where they belong, the majority of the list is a reflection of short-term praise and recent box office success being an indicator of what is considered "greatest" by current audience members.

The highlights include The Godfather at the top of the list, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, and Jaws also making the top 10, and having three Alfred Hitchcock films included (although I could make arguments that they are missing a few more).

However, there are three major issues I have with allowing "the people" to make this list.  My first matter of contention is with Citizen Kane being at 46.  I understand that today's movie-going audience doesn't really take the classics into consideration when coming up with the best movies of all time, which will be detailed a little further in my second point of frustration, but to regulate Orson Welles' masterpiece to the back of the top 50 is a crime.  It's become a cliché to say that Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time, and yet it truly is a seminal historical marker in the timeline of American cinema.  I get it not being a favorite, must-see movie for everyone, but its influence on modern moviemaking should still regulate it to the top 10.

My second argument against Empire's fan-favorite list is that it doesn't include a single silent film.  Again, this falls under today's generation of moviegoers not wanting to watch a medium that requires reading dialogue when they could simply watch a more modern film that has the dialogue spoken audibly, but there are plenty of silent films that deserve a spot on the top 100 list of greatest films.  Even rattling off the great ones, such as Metropolis, City Lights, The General, Birth of a Nation, Battleship Potemkin, and The Passion of Joan of Arc, would be a disservice to all the others that deserve consideration.  #silentfilmsmatter

And lastly, the comic book elephant in the room.  I understand that this is the era of the comic book movie and shared universes that combine superheroes to each other's films, but to claim that The Dark Knight is the third best movie ever made and three Marvel movies deserving spots ranging from as high as 34 to as low as 79 is just asinine.  The only comic book movie that deserves to be on a top 100 list of all time is The Dark Knight, I will give you that, but to say it is third overall is ludicrous.  There are still a lot of problems with the second of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy that should set it back several spots on this list.  The reign of the geek is at an all-time high and has resulted in allowing four comic book movies to make its way onto this list, but by doing so it has done a great disservice to films of much greater quality and higher importance.

Luckily next month Empire is releasing another top 100 films list that will be put together by industry employees, so hopefully it will be a little more in line with what a top 100 greatest movies list should look like.  Obviously these lists are arbitrary and cannot be validated by a single person, but a list should have more weight behind it when it is made up by those who know what it takes to make a great film and the details lacking in a good, but not great one.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore, Dead At 89

For the first time ever in the history of the official James Bond film series, all actors to have portrayed James Bond are not alive.  Although he was the third actor to portray the British super-spy, he was the oldest of all the actors.  He had three years on the original star of the series, Sean Connery.  So the odds were best that Moore would be the first to go, but you really can never be sure of these things and the timing, obviously, was a mystery to all of when this day would come.

Moore, who was my second least favorite incarnation of the character and that is only because George Lazenby quit the role after one movie so it is hard to get a really good gauge of what kind of Bond he could have become had he been given a few more films to flesh out the character, starred in his first Bond movie in 1973 with Live and Let Die.  He would end up being Bond for the most official films, with a grand total of seven.  He vacated the role after 1985’s A View to a Kill.

Moore’s take on the role was a much lighter tone than Connery, with many of his films becoming slapstick takes on the role, which would be lambasted by Connery fans and younger viewers who grew up on Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig as being campy.  I would probably be considered a part of that group and find many of Moore’s 007 movies hard to get through at times.

Since a Bond actor has never passed before I’m not sure what sort of tribute I will do, but it will likely be watching one of his Bond movies tonight after the family goes to bed.  The obvious choice is The Spy Who Loved Me, which is his best film in the series, but I might try to mix it up with Live and Let Die or Octopussy.

Anyway, this is a rambling way to say that it is a sad day to be a Bond fan.  I’m not on the verge of tears or needing to abandon all responsibilities for the day like some people are claiming on message boards across the world, but I will try to find some time to pay tribute to a man who was truly a tremendous ambassador to the Bond franchise and helped carry the torch for a fictional character I love.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Another Season, Another Marvel Movie To Rank

With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 a couple of weeks ago, I have considered its inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pantheon and with a small change to the  middle of my rankings since the premiere of Doctor Strange late last year I have come up with a new ranking of the Marvel movies.  Compared with lists across the Internet, the only real shocker for my list is my disregard for the team-up Avenger films.  I am not as high on the Joss Whedon-directed movies as most.

It will be clear that my love of the Guardians sequel likely stems from the unbridled joy I get from multiple viewings of its predecessor.  I could even tell on a second screening of the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel that its faults were a little more blatant and unforgiving than first realized.  However, even with all its burdens, and the heavy-handed messages about "family" that gives the viewer a feeling they are in the midst of one of the too-many Fast and Furious movies, it is still a thrilling, laugh-out-loud entry in the MCU worthy of a generous place on the overall rankings.

Without further ado, here is my updated list of the MCU films:

15. Iron Man 2
14. Thor: The Dark World
13. Captain America: The First Avenger
12. The Avengers
11. The Incredible Hulk
10. Iron Man 3
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron
8. Thor
7. Ant-man
6. Doctor Strange
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
3. Iron Man
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
1. Guardians of the Galaxy

Thursday, May 11, 2017

(Not) Live (Not) Tweeting 'Legion' Episode 8

I don't really have a ton of things to say about this episode.  I've finally come to a point that I am comfortable with everything they are throwing at me.  Overall, the series was very solid, horrifying at times, and constantly made you question what you were viewing.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, like 95% of television series these days.  Lucky for us a second season has already been approved.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

(Not) Live (Not) Tweeting 'Legion' Episode 7

"Is she, I want to say, Chinese?"

Even though it makes zero sense in the context of reality and/or television conventions, the silent movie treatment works for this show.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Revisionist History Of 'Return Of The Jedi'

While recently listening to a podcast debating the merits that episode one of the Star Wars saga, The Phantom Menace, is better than Return of the Jedi, the sixth episode, a repeated argument between those debating the topic was that similar to many of the childish jokes and immature characters like Jar Jar Binks found in The Phantom Menace, the Ewoks of Return of the Jedi were created for children.  The only problem with this "argument" is that it isn't true.  Although the introduction of the Ewoks might have certainly been beneficial from a financial standpoint as it would sell a lot of toys to child viewers, that certainly wasn't the reason for their inclusion.  Instead it is a different financial reason.

In reality, the moon of Endor, where the Ewoks were found to be inhabiting, was supposed to be the home of Wookies, which is the same species of alien as Chewbacca.  The only problem was there weren't enough actors to have a clan of Wookies join the third act battle and the costumes would cost too much to create.  Instead, George Lucas changed the Wookies to Ewoks, resulting in numerous dwarves being used and little costumes being much less expensive to make.

So in reality, George Lucas' wasn't yet the hack director who turned a beloved space opera franchise into a child's Saturday morning cartoon political soap opera.  He was still just a writer making things up as he went along, who was limited by technology and budgets because he didn't yet have a computer smart enough to build all the characters for him.

Don't blame the Ewoks on children.  It isn't their fault.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

(Not) Live (Not) Tweeting 'Legion' Episode 6

Nina Simone + Aubrey Plaza = Winning

Kudos to the production team and behind-the-scenes crew/interns for the detailed work.  Having to destroy, clean, again destroy, again clean, and then repeat another six or seven times a scene in David's apartment kitchen from the past for a two-second clip in a single episode is the work of the unsung heroes.

Are we ever going to address the man living in the willow tree at the psychiatric hospital?