Top 100 Non-Fiction Book Review: Democracy in America, Alexis De Tocqueville (1835-1840)

Awfully Boring.

Damn this book is boring.

democracy-in-america-96The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #4/100
My Rating: Star

Sweet Jesus.

A book written in the 1800s on civics might be fundamental to the profession but it only worked as NyQuil for me. After a long day of work, comparing the responsibilities of the county judges in America to Britain and France wasn’t enough to overcome my quickly rising melatonin levels.

Now its supporters will say there are timeless nuggets found within that are crucial to our understanding of the present. I’d say please give me those in a bulleted list format. Reading through chapters such as “Life in the Township” and “Other Powers Given to American Judges” is a reminder that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword as this book quickly disemboweled me spiritually.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #71 – Forrest Gump (1994)

Cartoon Whimsical Bullshit.

Trying to defend just one of the messages in Forrest Gump would be a Herculean task, but trying to defend them all is impossible. 

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American Film Institutes Ranking: #71/100
Awards: Nominated for thirteen winning Best Director, Actor, and Picture.
My Rating: None.

I’ve never given a film no stars before.

I tried to do this top 100 thing in high school since I had too much free time. Back in 2005, I felt like the whole fabric of this movie was just nostalgia. I despised it: all the quotable lines rested on a bedrock of a greatest hits album, and everything else that happened was just fluff. After this last viewing, I’ve hardened my stance.

Reviewing the top moments in history and music for baby boomers to relive their fleeting lives is at least a palatable and a harmless goal. What I missed then was the multiple layers of incoherent moralizing wrapped in the cream puff of pastiche.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #56 – MASH (1970)

A Black Comedy That Isn’t Funny.

Everyone in MASH comes across as cruel, not humorous.

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #56/100
Awards: Nominated for five Academy Awards winning for Best Adapted Screenplay.
My Rating: Star

Here’s some avant garde stream of consciousness for you.

War is horrifying. To participate and survive, people must cope. Some people do so by adhering to procedure and military culture. Others become self-destructive, running to drugs and alcohol. Then there are some that become unabashedly cruel. They live out crude and misogynistic lives to deal with the mangled bodies.

That last group is the focal point of Robert Altman’s MASH. We are supposed to sympathize and laugh because they aren’t doing this out of free will. In the words of Roger Ebert:

“Most comedies want us to laugh at things that aren’t really funny; in this one we laugh precisely because they’re not funny. We laugh, that we may not cry.”

Ebert’s take is ridiculous because we have nothing to cry about. The characters don’t become conduits for the horror of war because they are so deeply unlikeable. We don’t relate to them; we want to get as far away from them as possible.

To make matters worse, the director, following the new Hollywood template of hippie bullshit, created an episodic story where nothing matters, connects, or coalesces. Trying to pull the strands together in this one is intentionally made impossible.

It’s purposefully inscrutable because that’s all it has to offer: nonsense.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #77 – American Graffiti (1973)

The 30 Second Ending Makes The Movie.

It’s hard to make sense of how to digest this film. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #77/100
Awards: Nominated for five academy awards.
My Rating: StarStarStar

Well, this is weird.

For two hours, I thought George Lucas’s American Graffiti was a bit flat; you have to do better than just capture an era and have a good soundtrack to be must see cinema. Set on the last day before everyone is meant to diverge, a group of teenangers spend the last night of Summer vacation in an intertwining adventure. The problem was none of it seemed important.

That is until the very closing segment, a 30 second epilogue that shows the final outcome of the main characters.

The previous night transforms from a bunch of coming of age tropes into events that dictate the rest of their lives. It’s no longer about drag races and cherry bombs but life and death. I’m not sure if it’s enough to save the movie, but it hit me hard and made me think: the “last time” is usually mundane and hard to recognize.

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Top 100 N64 Review: #47 – Duke Nukem: Zero Hour (1999)

Toxic Masculinity Was Never So Much Fun.

You get to play as Johnny Bravo while objectify woman and aliens. 

Duke Nukem Zero Hour Title ScreenLesLites’ Ranking#47/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

Duke Nukem is an anachronistic, hyper-masculine protagonist released from the imagination of pre-teen boys. He’s charmingly foul-mouthed, can perform any feat due to machismo, and ladies find him irresistible. Who else could the FBI rely on to travel through time and save Earth from an alien invasion?

The game is a blast since it realizes its front man is ridiculous. Instead of apologizing for Duke, they decide to turn the dial up to 100.  Sexual innuendos are abound and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud quips. The enemies are varied with distinct gun types that lead to a fair amount of strategy. While the shooting is old school, at least the mapping to the N64 controller is serviceable.

Let’s go save some babes, shall we?

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Top 100 SNES Review: #73 – Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1993)

Best Movie, Worst Video Game.

This is the weakest of the SNES Trilogy.

Title ScreenSydlexia’s Ranking: #73/100
My Rating: Star

Woah. This was a rough one for me.

I want to know how I was able to achieve so much more at 9 than 31. The snow covered hills of Hoth and cloudy city of Bespin were impenetrable. What made it worse was how tedious it all was. Instead of reliving the best moments of the movie, you get to explore…caves. Then, you are rewarded with…more caves.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #64 – Close Encounters Of A Third Kind (1977)

Too Agitating To Be Great.

Kids will forever ruin movies for me, but so do aliens that play tubas. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #64/100
Awards: Nominated for eight winning one for cinematography
My Rating: StarStarStar

Nestled within all the classic Steven Spielberg movies (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Arc, E.T., Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List) is this little egg of a movie recounting human contact with aliens. It’s kind of the forgotten child of his filmography, and I came into it knowing very little other than its spiritual sequel Super 8. 

Overall, it’s a fun little ditty that has some amazing individual scenes and sequences that craps all over the endless CGI vomit of today.

However, there are some personal distastes that this movie puts on a pedestal: too many annoying kids; boring domestic disputes that end in yelling and crying; the powerless female in said domestic dispute. Adding this to the spell-breaking ending, I realized I was half pissed off for too much of this movie for me to consider it great.

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