Showing posts from September, 2010

Flickchart Comment #20: Gay Purr-ee (1962) vs. Cujo (1983)

It's a true Cats vs. Dogs battle here, and come on! If you think that the über-rabid, über-slobbery St. Bernard is not going to come out on top, then you just don't know how frightening, gross and upsetting this Stephen King adaptation can get. While Gay Purr-ee does provide a solid alternate answer to the eternal question once posed by Paul Newman on the infamous Letterman Oscar telecast, "Where the hell are the singing cats?," it has a long way to go to top Cujo's onslaught. This dog goes hellfire crazy, but a lot of the upset comes out of the sympathy you feel for what appears to be the villain from the outset.

It doesn't matter how much singing and dancing these animated cats do (in a charming and clever film co-written and produced by master Chuck Jones, after all), it doesn't matter if Judy Garland provides her only vocals for an animated production, it doesn't matter if Red Buttons rocks as usual... it just doesn't matter! They will all be…

Flickchart Comment #19: Back to the Future (1985) over Cars (2006)

Back to the Future (1985) My current Flickchart ranking: 117
Cars (2006) My current Flickchart ranking: 2768

How high a bar has Pixar set that a film as seemingly entertaining and well-produced as Cars is their worst film?

Mind you, I have not said that Cars is a bad film. I laughed quite a lot watching it, and it features perfectly lovely animation, humorous voice work and clever character designs. The measure that counts most for Pixar, that of its youth audience, have largely voted to the extreme positive on this (especially where merchandising is concerned), but by any measure, Cars is a very good film.

So, beyond what I have said already, why no real love from me? One might say, since I do not drive at all, that it might be a mark of my remoteness from the motoring world in general. After all, upon watching it, I was thrown off course so thoroughly that I could never find my way back to the main road. But I knew going into the film that my personal disregard for motor vehicles m…

Flickchart Comment #18: Psycho (1960) over Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Psycho (1960) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock - Currently ranked #9 on my Flickchart list
Sunset Blvd. (1950) Dir: Sunset Blvd. - Currently ranked #33 on my Flickchart list

Both films are ensconced in my Top 50 (at the writing of this comment) and I have watched both too many times to count. My love for both films is boundless. However, Flickchart is all about ranking, and there are no ties to be had. This is when it becomes personal.
In my teens, as I slowly developed a fascination with cinema, I scoured our high school library's arts and entertainment section for any book that was even tangentially film-related. On the shelves I eventually found a series of books edited by Richard Anobile which essentially laid down the foundation of my early film study. They were nothing more than photo books showing each revelatory frame in the film with the dialogue (in the case of the talkies) underneath the frame. In the early days of video, with many of the classic films not yet availabl…

Flickchart Comment #17: Stardust (2007) over Carlito's Way (1994)

Spent a fair amount of time in the past doing my Pacino impression from Carlito's Way, which doesn't involve any clumsy attempts at replicating his voice. It required a prop with which to perform it as well -- an escalator, in fact -- and I believe the last time I pretended to be Al Pacino fending off assholes on a falsely, incredibly long Grand Central escalator was on the actually incredibly long escalators at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1994. No dialogue for me, just action. A solidly stupid, action impersonation.

As a film, though, Carlito's Way has pretty much stood for me as the last time I was fully caught up in a Brian De Palma film without irony thoroughly soaking the entire viewing. Stardust, on the other hand, disappointed me from the standpoint that I much preferred the novel (but that is usually going to happen with Gaiman stories), though the film itself is a pretty good time that I have already revisited a couple times since.

Going off of c…

Flickchart Comment #16: Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941) over Eat My Dust! (1976)

Sure, I love sloppily made, mind-numbing, redneck car chase films like anyone -- when I am in the right mood -- but the prize for me in this match-up goes to W.C. Fields playing himself in his sweetly vicious and often outright surreal Hollywood satire. Besides, it has a crazy car chase of its own that has always served as one of my favorites.
Fields: "I was in love with a beautiful blonde once, dear. She drove me to drink. That's the one thing I'm indebted to her for."
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Flickchart Comment #15: Ghostbusters (1984) vs. Back to the Future (1985)

Wow. Exactly why Flickchart was created, to decide such weighty matters. For me, both films loomed so largely in my early '20s, and both films have stuck with me through the past two decades. Even so, there is a clear winner for me: Ghostbusters.

Not only do I still quote roughly a dozen or so lines from it quite regularly (compared to about three from Future), but I can still chart how I felt about it then and how I feel now from the replay factor alone. While I saw Future four times in its original run, I saw Ghostbusters SIX freaking times its opening weekend. I also had a lot of the merchandise - posters, stickers, toys, shirts, etc. (still have all that, actually). I've also owned three VHS and two DVD editions of Ghostbusters, and I have yet to make the leap from tape to disc for Back to the Future. (I really should get on that...) 
When, you come down to it, it's pretty clear, McFly, who the winner is for me...

Flickchart Comment #14: Inception (2010) vs. Star Wars (1977)

 The following comment was actually written in response to the first comment posted on Flickchart about this match-up. kingbee63's verdict was "Sorry, Star Wars"  (without a closing period). Because I no longer trust how people tend to write in emails, boards and comment sections (i.e. with some semblance of the English language), even when the response seems clear in a short message, I am always looking for the trap hidden within their words. It was hard to ascertain whether kingbee63 meant "Sorry, Star Wars, but I am going with Inception" or "Sorry, but Star Wars is the only clear choice here."
My comment, based upon the assumption that kingbee63 meant the former, not the latter:
Give it some distance, kingbee63. A year or two from now, once the Inception hype dies down (it actually has already begun to do so), see it again and decide. Especially if you love Star Wars enough to apologize to it. I always find it is best to rate recent movies down th…

Flickchart Comment #13: Miracle on 34th Street (1994) vs. Critters (1986)

OK, I have no love at all for the countless Gremlins ripoffs that haunted the late '80s-early '90s. That said, I have even less love for terrible child actors.

The original Miracle on 34th Street is my favorite Christmas movie - bar none. Yes, there have been several versions since, but the 1994 remake was the only one on the big screen, and thus, the one most likely to annoy the crap out of me. Which is what they did in this remake with the casting of Mara Wilson as the little girl, Susan Walker. I hadn't minded little Ms. Wilson in other roles (chiefly because I really didn't notice her), but this time, her execrable acting skills were brought too far to the fore to be excused. Yes, she was but a child, but you know how it goes... don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Add to this that they sapped whatever fun was in the original and then pasted a religious subplot onto the story, and I was kicking the seat in front of me for the full run…

Flickchart Comment #12: Wizards (1977) vs. Scanners (1981)

Ah! Both staples of my early video-watching life. Watched these films dozens of times back in the '80s, own them both, and have also seen them both in the last year as well.

Scanners holds up best. It's head-explosion scene gets replayed everywhere, but for me, there is still nothing quite so cool as the final scanner battle at the end of the film. Love Robert Silverman in it as well. So friggin' nuts.

Wizards has not aged as well, and I must admit that there things that always bothered me about it, but I was too happy just grooving on it and its slightly anti-Disney edge back in the day to care. Gotta go with Cronenberg, though...

Wake Me Up When September Begins...

Did you blink on January 1st?

If you did, you might be wondering where the last eight months have gone. The last time that I posted here on The Cinema 4 Pylon, on that very same inaugural day of the new year, I had been giving anyone that still cared some pre-climb instructions before I launched into a massive blog series chronicling my assault to the summit of my self-constructed Tower of Film.

But there was trouble almost from the start. I discovered that the department store which occupied the first two floors of the Tower was having a fire sale on various and sundry thingies, but it was almost impossible to deal with the salesmen. Some insisted on pushing only the wares of the previous decade, mired in their plaid-heavy, staid comfort and nuclear winter certainty, while others were more intent on showing me the brilliant, shining promise of a new tomorrow, with its eventual shag carpeting and orange furniture.  However, the sale wasn't a total loss. Since Jen and I were in dir…