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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Top 100 SNES Review: #14 – Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992)

Friends Forever.

Nothing cements life-long relationships like repeated death in the face of an alien invasion. 
Contra III The Alien Wars Title Screen
Sydlexia’s Ranking: #14/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

Over the past year, I’ve played Contra III multiple times with different people. It’s inclusion on the SNES Classic has made it easy to get into a two-player bug tussle for the fate of humanity. The game is best with multi-player; I can’t imagine it being as fun if you decide to go at it alone.

That’s because this game can be brutal. What would otherwise be a frustrating solo endeavor leading to a probable temper-tantrum becomes a shared experienced: you are both in this ridiculous plight together, and with some judicious tactics and occasional reckless abandon, you can make this happen…

…as long as you get past stage three.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #41 – West Side Story (1961)

Skinny Jeans Were Never So Intimidating.

These frolicking gang members are hard to take seriously. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #41/100
Academy Awards: Ten Academy awards including Best Picture.
My Rating: StarStar

This movie is a whole lot of ridiculous. I don’t expect musicals to be simulacrums of reality, but I need something more concrete than prancing boys in a retelling of Romeo and Juliet who make statements on race relations.

I’m almost afraid to see the intellectual take on this film from 1961. “How important are the arts,” I can hear them saying, “having the audacity to take on the tumultuous themes of the American Dream and Immigration. What would we do without Broadway?”

Where this film ultimately fails for me is that it is less of a musical and more of a So You Think You Can Dance? episode. Having just watched The Sound of Music, this musical lacks the big and catchy tunes and instead relies on choreographed dance offs. Part of me appreciates the art form, part of me still was disappointed.

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