THE SHINING (1980)

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Elizabeth

I think The Shining must be one of the most slow-moving and effective horror movies ever. I think it’s easy to find slow-moving or effective horror movies, but rarely is it both. But it is Stanley Kubrick, after all.

I think the pace of The Shining just adds to its effectiveness, though. You get so used to something, whether it’s a sound or an image, that when suddenly it changes on you, and for whatever reason that’s so freaky. It’s like same idea that’s behind things jumping out at you to startle you, but this method cuts way deeper.

Also, how awful of a pediatrician/child psychologist was that lady from the beginning of the movie? Now, I know times have changed since this movie came out, but come on. When she asks Danny (Danny Lloyd) if his imaginary friend, Tony, makes him do things, he says he doesn’t want to talk about Tony anymore. So she says, “Alright!” and never presses it further. And then when Wendy (Shelley Duvall) tells her that her husband Jack (Jack Nicholson) dislocated Danny’s shoulder when he was drunk . . . she doesn’t even respond! Now, okay, obviously there are evil outside forces that turn Jack, but still. A lot of conflict could have been prevented if that lady had just done her job. Geez.

Christopher

This is a movie that I think I might have watched at a younger age but I truly do not remember ever watching it. I remember my family watching it on multiple occasions and I’m not sure if I don’t remember or I was too scared to watch it in the first place. I could see either being true.

I’m glad Elizabeth brought it up to watch this cause it really is worth all the praise people tend to give it. It’s beautiful, the acting is great, and it scared the shit out of me. This did make me think though that watching a giant hotel for five months in the middle of nowhere kind of sounds great. Elizabeth was not as into the idea but I could see myself taking a bunch of books, comics, and art supplies to just do what I enjoy for weeks on end. Maybe five months is too long but at least two!

TRON (1982)

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Christopher

Boring.

Elizabeth

Okay, so watching Tron was really weird. I had seen it before for the first time in college and I remember thinking it was awesome. I loved the effects and Jeff Bridges. So I was more than happy to watch it again. But the second time around I found it nearly impossible to get through.

And it’s not because I had seen it before and so now it was boring because I knew the story. It was boring because I didn’t know what was happening about 99% of the time. How did I get it in college and not now? I’m assuming I actually didn’t get it in college and was just really into how it looked. Which is sort of unlike me, but whatever. It happens I guess.

The thing about Tron is that it really doesn’t establish anything in its own world, so it’s hard to tell if something is out of the ordinary. Maybe it’s easier to understand for software engineers or something, but since we don’t have context for anything it was impossible to tell if what they were saying about computers was even real or if it was made up for the movie. It was sort of like watching a cool foreign film without subtitles.

BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)

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Elizabeth

One thing I love about Boogie Nights is how it’s so different, but so distinctly a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. I’ve seen every of his features, and there’s something so specific about his filmmaking, without being distracting. I don’t think you watch Boogie Nights constantly reminded that he directed it, but it’s still there.

But yeah, like so many of Anderson’s movies, Boogie Nights’s cast is almost unreal. Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Thomas Jane, Alfred Molina, etc etc etc etc. I mean, come on! But it’s not just that there’s so many great individual actors; they all just interact so well together. Maggie (Julianne Moore) and Dirk (Mark Wahlberg) have a particularly weird, but still convincing relationship. They have a real Oedipal thing going on.

I think what I love most about the actual filmmaking of Boogie Nights is the transitions. Scenes so often change without being cut; maybe we’ll follow a car driving away at the end of a scene, which passes by a character who will take us into the next scene. It’s a really cool way of totally capturing this weird, sort of closed off universe that Boogie Nights exists in.

One of my friends in high school made the mistake of seeing Boogie Nights with her parents. So definitely see it, but definitely be aware of whom you’re seeing it with.

Christopher

I’m not sure why it took me so long to watch this movie but it’s a masterpiece. This movie has one of the best scenes I have ever come across in my movie watching experience. The scene is the one where Alfred Molina shows up. It’s beyond what I thought this film could provide. It’s pure magic.

The other thing that I think makes Boogie Nights so grand is the fact that it has an all-star cast but that it’s not distracting. This movie provided so many things that I thought I would never see involving so many actors that I really really like.

 The movie was great and I hope that I watch it again soon.

ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (1994)

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Christopher

I used to love this movie and watching it now as an adult I still find it uplifting but the story is a mess. Based off of this movie I now know that as a kid I did not know that much about baseball. Almost everything baseball related about this film makes no sense other than the fact that baseball is a sport and that the Angels are a baseball team.

The biggest example of this is that Tony Danza plays a washed up pitcher who blew his arm out a few years ago. So the first time they send him in to pitch he has an angel with him so he pitches a perfect game!!! But no one seems to really care other than the fact that he just pitched well? But that’s not the really weird part. The weird part comes during the next game he pitches. So he’s pitching in the second game in the season and during the 8th inning (I think?) when he’s at 150 pitches, he begins to struggle. And for some reason it’s this big thing where it’s a great shame that he can’t finish the game. That makes absolutely no sense. Pitchers get tired. They can’t always throw a whole game and the number of pitchers that actually do are so slim this whole conflict is distracting cause it makes no sense! Just take him out and let a middle reliever take over!

This movie was fun but I think I watched it for the last time.

Elizabeth

This season I watched more baseball games that I think I had previously ever seen my whole life combined. So watching Angels in the Outfield now made me realize how much of the movie really doesn’t make a ton of sense. I sort of have the feeling that the filmmakers maybe didn’t know a lot about baseball, but know a lot about football. The baseball in Angels in the Outfield is this weird mix of baseball, football, and things that wouldn’t make sense in any sport. For example, every game the Angels play in Angels in the Outfield is a huge deal, and every game makes a huge difference. Sure, every game matters in baseball, but considering each team plays 162 games a season, there’s not nearly as much weight put on every game. It’s just sort of weird.

Despite that, Angels in the Outfield still reminded me how much I love baseball movies. They’re just the best sports movies, in my opinion. It’s also great seeing little Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Although I think having watched Angels in the Outfield so much growing up, I just cannot find Joseph Gordon-Levitt sexy. I was sort of shocked when I realized so many people find him sexy. He’s good looking, yes, but sexy? Isn’t he just little Roger?

Also, it’s worth noting that the angels are kind of huge assholes in this movie. Roger wishes for the Angels to win the pennant, because when Roger asks his father when they’ll be a family again, he says “I’d say when The Angels win the pennant.” Because The Angels suck, he means this sarcastically. But Roger wishes for this anyway, and even though God must surely realize Roger’s dad’s sarcasm, he goes with that wish anyway, rather than making Roger’s dad come back. The head angel also ends up telling Roger that his idol, pitcher Mel Clark (Tony Danza) is going to die in 6 months from lung cancer, and there’s nothing that Roger can do about it. Oh okay! I mean, that’s not a terrible burden to lay on this orphan with a shitty life or anything. COME ON, ANGELS!

BED OF ROSES (1996)

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Elizabeth

There’s a point in Bed of Roses when Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) is spending time with Lewis (Christian Slater), because he delivered her an anonymous bouquet and she’s trying to find out who sent them. Lewis then admits to Lisa that he sent them, after taking one of his nightly walks and saw her crying through her bedroom window. “So I followed you to work the next morning, found out your name, and sent you the flowers,” Lewis says. Lisa responds to this, after a slight pause, with, “So you sent the flowers?”

ARE WE NOT GOING TO ADDRESS THE FACT THAT THIS GUY FOLLOWED YOU TO WORK AND STALKED YOU, LISA? Lewis’ creepiness goes completely undiscussed during the entirety of Bed of Roses. Lewis starts to seem less creepy, though, when it becomes how clear it is that Lisa is pretty dumb and maybe even a little psychotic herself.

So, okay, yes Bed of Roses is really pretty shitty. I didn’t want it to be. A trailer for it was on some VHS I had as a kid and always wanted to see it, so I was disappointed when I realized how awful it was. BUT. There are two great things about Bed of Roses. The first is the appearance of Pamela Adlon as Kim, Lisa’s best friend. Pamela Adlon is the voice of Bobby Hill in King of the Hill, one of my favorite all-time TV characters, so it was sort of amazing seeing her here (and hearing how similar her voice is to Bobby’s). The second is the appearance of what miiiiight be one of the greatest songs of all time? My love for this song absolutely came from the aforementioned trailer, but I hadn’t listened to it in years until we watched this movie. And that song would be “Independent Love Song,” by Scarlet. It’s kind of cheesy, I guess. But mostly it’s just AMAZING.

So I guess in the end, sure, watch Bed of Roses if you want to see some annoying people have a relatively conflict-free romance. Or you could just cut to the chase and listen to “Independent Love Song” over and over.

Christopher

This movie was a home run and it took me to cloud 9!! This movie is Simply Irresistible bad. Now, there is not magic crab but at the heart of this movie there is only a creepy love story with absolutely no conflict. Christian Slater plays an over-confident, very creepy, flower store owner who comes on to Mary Stuart Masterson and what ends up happening is that he’s too good of a guy for her! So she has to fight to understand that maybe, just maybe, if she lets him love her, she’ll be happy for the rest of her life!

Watch this movie now!

CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)

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Christopher

I think this is my third time seeing this movie but I’m glad we were able to see it in theaters again. I forgot how interesting and well-shot this film really is. And what I truly love about it are the little details. I think it’s great that animals love him. I love that one of the conflicts in the movie is that Clive Owen doesn’t have shoes and is having a difficult time finding shoes that fit. And I think Clive Owen’s character is so interesting.

The first few times I saw this movie I thought Owen’s character was a complete badass. That he was the type of character that took charge and got stuff done. Seeing it a third time I realize that he really didn’t want to be there at all. He was brought into something and the only reason he sticks around is that he’s a good guy. He risks his life on multiple occasions just to stick with something that he knows some people truly believe in. I guess that still kind of makes him a badass but in a different way than I had originally thought.

I would watch this many more times and I hope I do.

Elizabeth

Of the handful or so movies that I consider to be my all-time favorites, Children of Men is almost certainly the most stressful. To be honest, every time I watch it there are parts where I wonder why I like it so much because I’m so stressed out. The majority of the time though, I’m just totally in awe.

One of the things that makes Children of Men so fantastic is how realistic it is. I think it’s probably the most realistic futuristic movie I’ve seen, and it’s for a number of reasons. One, it’s set in 2027, just 21 years after the release date. Because of that, the technology in Children of Men is more nuanced in its progression. Two, the dialogue and relationships between the characters felt very natural. No one ever really did anything that felt way out of character. Three, the way Children of Men is shot makes you feel less like you’re watching a movie, and more like you’re there with the characters. I know the movie is famous for its long, single shots, and for good reason. They’re incredible, not just in the skill that takes, but in the effects it has on the audience. To me this is just proof that great filmmaking and cinematography can put you more in a movie than mediocre 3D can.

Children of Men is also full of great, weird themes. There’s the big, obvious ones, like hope and imprisonment. But I’m talking about these smaller things, like how Theo (Clive Owen) is constantly having issues with his feet. At some point he needs to make an escape barefoot, and from then on his feet are always causing him problems: he can’t find shoes that fit, he soaks them when he gets a chance, he messes them up running. There’s also this reoccurring thing that Theo is really good with animals and that animals love him. There are a lot of pets in Children of Men, which is a subtle touch that really makes sense; if the world was infertile, wouldn’t humans be more attached to pets?

I also love how Theo isn’t this great hero. He’s a good guy, but isn’t super into risking everything he knows for something he’s unsure about. But as the stakes get higher and Theo loses more people he loves, he’s more dedicated to the goal. It just makes you think what you would do in a similar situation, since Clive Owen really has that “everyman” quality down pat here.

Children of Men is great and one of the few movies with this amount of stress that I think is really worth the stress.

ADAM’S RIB (1949)

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Elizabeth

It’s weird watching a movie like Adam’s Rib because it came out almost exactly 64 years ago and yet still manages to be less sexist than garbage like I Don’t Know How She Does It or pretty much any Tyler Perry movie. I think a lot of credit for that goes to the couples involved. Married couple Ruth Gordon (later she played Maude in Harold and Maude) and Garson Kanin wrote Adam’s Rib and unmarried but long-term partners Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn starred in it. There’s a lot of respect for Hepburn’s character, Amanda, and I believe much of that comes from the respect Kanin must have had for Gordon and Tracy for Hepburn, because that respect really comes out in the writing and the acting.

Obviously Katharine Hepburn was a huge badass, but I also love how Spencer Tracy really held his own here. Adam’s Rib is, on the surface, a quintessential “battle of the sexes” movie but it’s really about law and gender roles, and how those interact. Because so much of Adam’s Rib is about how women are treated, it takes a certain amount of subtlety and intelligence to play a man who is altogether empathetic, caring, and also trying to prove his wife wrong without making her a martyr.

Adam’s Rib is great because it’s way more than a romantic comedy. I think it’s what every romantic comedy tries to be, so so few are.

Christopher

It definitely feels like we talk a lot about movies being sexist on this blog but I think that kind of just comes with watching a bunch of shitty movies. What’s crazy to me is the movie that most stands out in my mind as representing a realistic American couple, comes from a movie that came out in 1949.

The couple’s relationship in this movie is fantastic! They are both lawyers, and good at what they do. They both know how great each other is at the job, and they support each other. And the best part is that they enjoy each other’s company. I was a very skeptical about enjoying this movie before we started watching it but it’s one of the better movies we’ve seen in a while.