Top 100 Movie Review: #20 – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

This Movie Makes Me Angry.

But in a good way — Nurse Ratched deserves all the misfortune she gets. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #20/100
Awards: Nominated for nine winning for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Adapted Screenplay.
My Rating: StarStarStar

We all know a Nurse Ratched. Mine was a school administrator.

Calm and deadly, she would bait students into arguments and then put them away in detention. One time she saw me using my cellphone on school property after hours and told me that it wasn’t allowed; I didn’t fall for it knowing what she was trying to do. She attempted to further raise my gull by threatening me with punishment if I didn’t put away my cell phone, but I kept my cool, and she eventually shrugged her shoulders and walked off looking for her next prey.

Of course, she was the one who would speak to the school board or other public forums on the importance of school discipline. Untouchable, school allowed a social miscreant to hold power over the powerless. What hypocrisy.

That same immense indignant feeling is what Nurse Ratchet brought back up in me. While it’s hard to evaluate the movie because the book is just so much better, the movie still gives rise to pure joy when the “patients” get to experience life and pure disgust when someone like Nurse Ratchet is allowed to exist, and even worse, protected by the system.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #55 – The Sound of Music (1965)

WHY DO I LOVE THIS SO MUCH?

And why are these Eastern Europeans speaking such good english?

image.jpgAmerican Film Institute’s Ranking: #55/100
Awards: Nominated for ten winning for Best Picture and Director
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

I’m usually pillorying overly sentimental films from Hollywood’s yesteryears. Perpetual Manichaeism, old movies are not only black and white in coloring but their moralizing. Our friends pure, enemies fully evil. Faults within our inner circle are assigned to mistake while other’s transgressions are obviously malicious intent. Who could believe any of that crap?

Then a movie comes a long and smashes my cynicism to smithereens. Damn you Julia Andrews!

Somehow, a musical about whiskers on kittens that takes place in the hills of Austria during the rise of Nazi Germany slipped past my alarm systems. Nothing to see her folks, just a family dancing their merry way out of the reach of the Third Reich. Who cares — I loved every minute of the three hour run time.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #11 – It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Hate it and Love it.

This movie can really piss me off, but you know, I still like the ending. 
0e4edd9678.0American Film Institute’s Ranking: #11/100
Awards: Nominated for five.
My Rating: StarStarStar

This movie is a heavy dose of syrupy sweet cough medicine. Much like overdosing on dimetapp, the central character hallucinates his way to new found meaning. If you feel like an unimportant fixture of society, this is the movie for you.

Except it proffers awful advice. The movie attempts to square the life of someone who never puts themselves first with being fulfilled. Imagine: you never accomplish a single goal or desire. That 5, 10, 15, or 20 year career plan gets decimated by the local miser as you are whipped around by the tides of fate. Shouldering the burdens of an entire town for a generation must be exhausting, but don’t worry: it’s all part of the “plan.”

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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 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 Movie Review: #15 – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

What Happened to Star Wars?

Watching the first makes you realize all the faults of the recent iterations. 

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #15/100
Academy Awards: Nominated for ten winning seven.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

If you had ask me half a year ago which top 100 list I would finish first, it was going to be movies by a long shot. It makes sense: a movie is only about a two hour commitment while games and books expect much more. It’s still leading the pack, but I’ve really slowed down reviewing only 2 movies in three months. Here it goes!

Everything seems wholesome while watching because it is. Overt political messaging is absent in the narrative. The story is high Hollywood fare with plots, twists, and tension There isn’t CGI to bloat the aesthetics.  Then you layer on top the unique universe of Star Wars fully rounded out with the classic motifs of good vs. evil and you end up with a  purely enjoyable experience.

We’ve done an injustice to ourselves by changing our buying habits. The way we purchase entertainment has reduced the chances people are willing to take. Music is a great example: no one buys albums or songs anymore. You have to hit safe homeruns while reducing diversity and risk. The most popular movies for years now have been reboots, reruns, and rehashes. Look no further than the last five Star War films.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #36 – Midnight Cowboy (1969)

The Crumbling Legacy of the Hippie Movement.

Outside of the music, I’m not sure what people from the 60s left behind for us to enjoy. 

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Jon Voigt and Dustin Hoffman in wasted performances. 

American Film Institute’s Ranking: #36/100
Awards: Nominated for seven winning three including Best Picture and Director.
My Rating:cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586cropped-smooth-star-e1545863035586

The hippie movement must have been one hell of a drug.

The seminal works of cinema from this time period which reached historically significant status play as complete messes today. The storylines are disjointed, the desire to give a middle-finger to the man supersedes everything else, and virtue-signaling tramples any legitimacy of authenticity. This last one is particular paradoxical as the movement’s ostensibly purpose was to reveal some truer and more pure self.

It’s a shame, too, with Midnight Cowboy. Even within the typical moral morass, Voigt and Hoffman both put on such good performances that by the end we somehow care what happens to these two, even though the previous two hours is a mess.

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Top 100 Movie Review: #47 – Taxi Driver (1976)

It Will Make You Squirm with Cognitive Dissonance.

Should we revere him or put him away forever?

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Robert De Niro in this psychological, punk-themed thriller.

American Film Institute’s Ranking: #47/100
Awards: Nominated for four winning none.
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

The purpose of this film is to be disgusted. Robert De Niro’s character makes us cringe. We recoil from the degrading behavior found on 42nd street. The ending makes us face uncomfortable choices. I enjoyed this film, even though it made me squirm through out. There is also a message that challenges how we view people and events: we place so much burden on outcomes and sometimes fail to look at the person themselves.
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