Top 100 Novel Review: Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)

We Really Are Phony.

I feel for Holden Caulfield: smart enough to identify the problem, but not able to reconcile it within himself. 

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My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

This book made me deeply sad.

I had read the book when I was 16 for a required essay on banned books, and I remember as a youth identifying the message of the novel as that you couldn’t survive as an outcast. At some point, you had to rally around something, no matter how phony.

On this reading, almost double my life later, I felt Holden was my old self while the phony Adults me now: I have learned to accept how much of our lives are rigid formalities and empty, sweet nothings.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #19 – Chinatown (1974)

Gut Crushing Neo-Noir

I don’t know if the ending could have been any other way.

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Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

American Film Institute Ranking: #19/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for 11 winning one: Best Original Screenplay.
My Rating:cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

This movie gets a lot of hyperbole thrown its way with many people describing it as having the best script ever.  I like it, just maybe not on that cataclysmic of a level.

I love noir with the unscrupulous detective, ineffective police, corrupt government, and gritty delivery. “Chinatown” is just another reincarnation, and with an intriguing mystery paired with a stomach-punch ending, it fulfills the expectations of the genre.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #5 – Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

A Strange Film

Lacking any particular sizzle, somehow Lawrence is interesting enough to build a four hour movie around. 

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American Film Institutes Ranking: #5/100
Awards: Nominated for ten winning Best Picture, Director, Score & Others.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

This movie is about one thing: T. E. Lawrence. If we take the movie’s portrayal as truth, this would have suited the egotist just fine.

The annals of history are filled with intriguing but unknown characters. This film brings to light one of the more interesting people of history that I had no idea even existed. Regardless of whether the portrayal is particularly accurate, the movie risks its entire livelihood on Lawrence being captivating forgoing any action scenes, romantic angles (I don’t know if I can recall a single woman in the entire film), or other characters.

Somehow it is just enough.

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Top 100 Movie: #42 – Rear Window (1954)

A Movie That Does Everything.

Witty dialogue, a unique set up, and tension stick with you the entire way. 

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Jimmy Stuart.

American Film Institutes Ranking: #42/100
Awards: Four Nominations for Director, Adapted Screenplay, Color, and Sound Mixing
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

Some movies struggle to do one thing well, failing to even be a good example of the genre that they are intending to represent.

Rear Window does so many things well. The four main characters are immensely interesting with their banter and witty dialogue moving the film along. The set up is a man stuck at home due to a broken leg with no entertainment other than the lives of his neighbors — voyeurism at its best. Add the murder mystery and you get to see an exquisite example of the great Alfred Hitchcock at work.

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Top 100 Novel Review: An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser (1925)

Calling BS Early.

Dreiser deconstructs the American Dream. 

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My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

It’s amazing that his book was written so early.

While still a product of its time, Drieser’s novel is fantastically relevant today. At its core, it’s a commentary on class and the American Dream. The story follows a young Clyde Griffiths from a lowly, street-preaching family through several iterations of social status changes. What follows is an unsettling but cathartic reading; Clyde bears the sin of our own failures allowing us to live free of the American expectation.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #40 – Lufia and the Fortress of Doom

Sunk Cost Fallacy.

As the hour count continued to rise, I continued to play to not lose out on time already invested.

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Sydlexia’s Ranking: #40/100
Developer: Taito
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star

“Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort)” (Arkes & Blumer, 1985).

You know, I like to think of myself as rational. Who doesn’t like to imagine themselves as an autonomous agent living out their free will initiatives? Unfortunately, Lufia and the Fortress of Doom dissolved any notion of me being in control of my facilities. This game is a hot piece of garbage, a big to-do list from hell, and it could only be my irrational, emotional processes that made me continue.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #23 – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Many Firsts.

Bogart’s first big role. A new genre of film. Huston’s directorial debut. The Pairing of Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.

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Humphrey Bogart with the Maltese Falcon

American Film Institute Ranking: #23/100
Academy Awards: Three nominations and no wins in Best Picture, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay categories.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-starcropped-smooth-star

I’m going to be rather worthless on reviewing this film on the merits of being a good movie. I read “The Maltese Falcon” and enjoyed it so much that I decided to watch the movie — immediately after I had finished reading the book. It was a shorter novel, too, meaning it was all very fresh in my mind after just a few days of reading.

The movie was immensely faithful to book and the casting absolutely perfect. I cannot recall how I imagined the characters pre-movie: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet will be how I remember them going forward.

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