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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Top 100 Movie Review: #65 – Silence of the Lambs (1991)

“I Got Your Dog Mister!”

I miss the days of quoting movies.

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American Film Institute’s Ranking: #65/100
Awards: Won the Big Five of Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay)
My Rating: StarStarStarStar

I worry about the lack of common rallying points in society that keep us culturally cohesive. There was a time where mass entertainment passed the gauntlet from one generation to the next due to limited selection. At 8pm, Nickelodeon turned into Nick At Night where I soaked up “I Love Lucy” and “The Brady Bunch” and was able to connect with grandparents or Aunts and Uncles.

That’s absent now; we can all branch out and end up on very unique and narrow twigs on the expansive trees of netflix, youtube, and hulu. We need some common humanity.

Enter Buffalo Bill.

I love to quote this movie. You want to bring a group of some well-rounded 30-50 somethings together? Pretend to be Hannibal Lector. What some cheap laughs? Start talking about putting the lotion on the skin. Maybe Silence of the Lambs can save us from these polarized times.

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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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