Top 100 Movie Review: #18 – Psycho (1960)

Changed My Personal Grooming Habits.

Personal hygiene is important but so is making sure the door is locked and barred. 71NzuQvv8GL._SX679_American Film Institute’s Ranking: #18/100
Awards: Nominated for Four Academy Awards including Best Director.
My Rating: StarStarStar

If this movie made me paranoid in 2019, I bet this made folks have schizoprhenic-like breakdowns in 1960.

An early (or perhaps earliest?) example of the slasher genre, Pscyho is still unsettling. Like any good Hitchcock film, there are many layers to enjoy: an extraordinary crime by a normal, everyday secretary; the perturbed hotel owner; the unseen “mother;” the unraveling of two mysteries by a private detective.

This is what makes the film still good today. While the ending is a bit tired, there are so many things going on that you want resolved. The gore could never match today’s standards, but the story telling still does.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #14 – Some Like It Hot (1959)

Actually Funny.

1950s humor did not let me down. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #14/100
Awards: Nominated for 8 winning 7 including Best Picture, Director, and Actor.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I was more apprehensive about this movie than most — there was no way cross-dressing male leads would make their way into my heart. I prepared myself for a cringe fest of low-hanging gay jokes that would be distasteful by today’s standards. The only mystery was if this movie would be pretty offensive to females, too.

I was mostly wrong.

Sure, there are a couple quips here or there you have to let go, but the movie is actually a scream. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon should get all the praise for making such a ridiculous film seem so pure. This movie is notable for Marilyn Monroe’s major role, but just like everything else she’s in, I find her completely replaceable. I’ll never understand what made her so interesting.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #16 – All About Eve (1950)

Just Not Enough.

There is some to like, but I never would want to watch it again. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #16/100
Awards: Nominated for 14 winning 6 including Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor.
My Rating: Star.jpgStar.jpg

On a recent podcast on The Knowledge Project, Thomas Tull mentioned something that is very true: we no longer rewatch movies. Since there are so many entertainment options on-demand, it’s no longer like the VHS/DVD years where we memorized every line from our favorite cinema (I easily know the entire script for Muppet Treasure Island). 

So with that as my backdrop, I watched All About Eve. Sure, it’s a witty movie and does a couple cool things. But, would I ever rewatch it?

No.  This movie just doesn’t do enough to warrant another peak.  Sunset Boulevard, forever compared to All About Eve due to being released the same year with similar themes, is a much more complete film. That plot is intriguing, and there is no way to know exactly how it will resolve itself.

All About Eve is the opposite — we see what’s happening from a mile away. The dialogue is superb, even laugh-out-loud funny, but without any suspense it comes across more campy than it already does. One can only live through so many theater references before it becomes cringe.

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Top 100 Non-Fiction Book Review: #70 – Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton (1948)

Weird Weighting of Topics.

A book ostensibly about monastery spends very little time on it, but still a relatable and good book.

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The Greatest Book’s Ranking: #70/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I struggle with the idea of faith about every week or so. I yearn for a more mystical aspect of my life, but my rational mind can’t open up to stories that are literally false even if they may contain metaphorical truth.  Every few months, I open a bible and read some of the lines imbibing the feelings of meaning and purpose only an ancient text can satisfy. It starts to crumble soon, however, when I start realizing I’m trying to find solace in a 2000 year old book fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies authored by illiterate people who could not pass elementary science class.

Seven Story Mountain is a retelling of Thomas Merton’s spiritual journey which starts much like my own: yearning for that mystical meaning and direction, he tries to figure out himself. He tries a few different sources (politics, hedonism, intellectualism) but still finds an empty hole in his heart. He eventually fills it with Catholicism. My favorite quotes of the book echo my own sentiments about meaning in the modern world even if our solutions diverge quite drastically. There is much more to bring us together than separate us, though I’m not sure he would agree.

What I don’t understand is why this book is pegged as a look into Monastery life. This is a misleading focal point of the book cover, preface, and online commentary. Merton’s book is really one puff of air on being a monk and a full exhale on his life before hand. This did disappoint: his quotidian life as a youth overstayed its welcome while the exotic life of the monastery was never fully explored.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #7 – The Graduate (1967)

Um. What?

I’m not exactly sure what I just watched, but I did like the ending. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #7/100
Awards: Nominated for six winning Best Director.
My Rating:cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

This movie is so tangible in the beginning. A highly-relatable college grad returns home to family and friends who no longer understand him. He spends most of the summer in the pool adrift which is a metaphor for the rest of his life: no direction, just aimless bobbing. He enters into an extramarital relationship with a middle-aged friend of the family. The perfect counterpart, she too is aimless in life’s journey but from a very different perspective.

But then things get weird. REALLY WEIRD. Like, rage swinging a Christian cross strange (spoiler alert!).

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Top 100 N64 Review: #69 – Mission: Impossible (1998)

R-R-R-Ridiculous.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to try and believe it. 
Mission Impossible N64 Title Screen
LesLites’ Ranking#69/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

The only thing impossible about this game is trying to understand it. If I had to chose what better represented reality, I would go with Lord of the Rings over Mission: Impossible. This world, filled with hideous polygons and multi-layered distance fog, cannot be of our own. It still has a couple good missions, though.

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Top 100 SNES Review: #21 – Breath of Fire II (1995)

I Tried, I Really Did.

Story 👏 Must 👏 Connect 👏 With 👏Quests 👏. 

Breath of Fire II Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #21/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

I don’t understand what took so long for archaic RPGs to catch on to what worked. Final Fantasy 3/6 came out in 1994  and was successful due to two core ideas: less grinding, more story. J-RPGs aren’t rocket science. A little bit of emotional attachment goes a long way.

Breath of Fire II seems 5 years behind its peers. Its only interesting character is locked away for too long due to plot purposes (a dog named Bow who uses a Bow – Bow w/ dah Bow!) Funny and endearing, Bow is an archetypal screw-up that makes things light and interesting. After that, dull characters join for tacky reasons. People in this world have nothing better to do than become an itinerant band of vagabonds.

It was bearable until it was paired with quests that provided no emotional attachment. Here I am, spending my precious time on Earth, fighting witches for people I do not know and getting into cooking contests to prove the lineage of a frog prince because the main character has the attention span of a bird.

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