Top 100 Movie Review: #62 – Tootsie (1982)

This Movie Makes Me Uncomfortable.

I laughed but there was plenty to make me squirm. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #62/100
Awards: Nominated for ten Academy Awards only winning one for Best Supporting Actress.
My Rating: StarStar

I rarely go social justice warrior, but something in this film made the progressive side of my values light up. Sure, some snide things were said in Some Like it Hot, another classic Hollywood film centered on cross dressing, but that film gets a pass for being from such a distant era. There is no way it should be more cognitive of possible offenses than Tootsie with its 1982 release date.

Well, get ready to cringe.

I laughed enough to enjoy the film (that classic gender confusion humor y’all), but there were three things that made me take pause:  the destruction the main character caused, the attempted rape scene, and how the best woman ended up being a man.

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Top 100 PS1 Review: #60 – Suikoden (1996)

Simple and Perfect.

Perfectly charming — no frills required.

Suikoden psone title screenApe’s Ranking: #60/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

How pure!

Suikoden harkens back to a time when characters and charm were more important than a silly sandbox game with a thousand permutations. An early scene puts the main characters around the dinner table with an impactful guitar solo that sets the mood for the rest of the game:

While the story might be pretty standard fair, the game boasts 108 characters for you to recruit for your rebellion army. Each one is unique in their own way and mostly avoids the pitfall of Chrono Cross where no one matters. Home base isn’t a static structure but rather a thriving community. This game builds a sense of connection with the world; you can’t wait to return home to see what your friends are up to.  Continue reading “Top 100 PS1 Review: #60 – Suikoden (1996)”

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 Waste.

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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