2020 Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft - BONUS ROUNDS


The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Unfortunately KainLear is struggling with real world issues and cannot continue with the draft. I suggest one of these options:

1) Make a joker pick for his selections as made by Kingsfans.com members...
2) Someone could valiantly step in to make the remainder of his picks for the bonus round.
We could try to see if anyone wants to jump in to make the picks as a replacement, but I don't know that anyone else is following this draft that closely. I think we may end up having to do the picking ourselves to round out the list.

We can have someone do a randomized draft of the current participants and pick 7 of us to each draft one movie for KainLear. I bet we could each come up with a movie that fits the general orientation of KainLear's first 20 picks. :) I know about 1/4 of KainLear's first 20 picks would be more than welcome in my list, so I could definitely find one more movie in that vein if I were one of the 7 selected, for instance. I'm sure 6 others could also do the same.

Just an option!
V. Venus. 2006.


A reasonable chance I picked this last time I was in a movie draft. Also reasonable chance I would have said something like "really like Hanif Kureishi's screenplays" and "good collection of understated performances" etc etc. Guess I've settled into my groove...
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The Bourne Ultimatum. 2007


Really fun, well made collection of movies. Always tension and excitement. Never really got tired. Also feel these movies triggered a bit of a stylist shift in the action category at the time.
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# = Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) - R

Roger Ebert said:
"Lethal Weapon 2" is that rarity - a sequel with most of the same qualities as the original. In a summer of anemic retreads I walked into the movie with a certain dread. But this is a film with the same off-center invention and wild energy as the original.

The heroes once again are a couple of cops who form an odd couple: Riggs (Mel Gibson), who lives in a trailer by the beach and delights in making people think he's crazy, and Murtaugh (Danny Glover), a stolid middle-class family man with retirement plans. In the original "Lethal Weapon," their relationship was the center of the film, and in the sequel they define it further: It's a balancing act between exasperation and trust.

But sequels do not live by repeating the same scenes and lessons as the films that inspired them. There has to be a new angle, and "Lethal Weapon 2" finds one in the creation of a band of diabolical villains. It's my contention that the James Bond films sink or swim on the quality of their villains, and that's true here, too: These aren't just violent bad guys, but particular characters, well-acted and malevolently conceived.

What Riggs and Murtaugh stumble over is a complex plot, never quite explained, by which South African diplomats are dealing illegally in gold and other contraband. It is unclear exactly what their plan is, but they are ruthless in its execution, led by Joss Ackland as a white-haired ambassador with steel eyes, and Derrick O'Connor as his lantern-jawed hit man.

Riggs and Murtaugh stumble onto their scheme through the help of the movie's most memorable character, a fast-talking pipsqueak named Leo Getz (Joe Pesci). He's an accountant who has figured out a foolproof way to launder vast quantities of illegal drug money: half a billion dollars, he claims at one time. What's better, he's found a way to use the profits to obtain illegal income tax deductions.

"OK, OK, OK, OK," he says, with a wide chipmunk grin. "I like you guys, so I'll tell you how it's done." He's a government witness they're supposed to protect, but instead they drag him into the center of danger. And the movie is filled with invention as it devises clever forms for the danger to take.

There is, for example, the tricky situation Murtaugh finds himself in when he sits on the toilet and discovers that if he stands up, a bomb will explode. And the close call when Riggs' trailer is attacked by helicopter gunships. And the several astonishing chase scenes in the movie, which succeeded in entertaining me even though I am heartily sick of chase scenes in general.

The creation of the Getz character is the movie's masterstroke; instead of recycling scenes in which the two partners fight with each other, "Lethal Weapon 2" provides a third character who can exasperate both men. Pesci, who was brilliant as the younger brother in "Raging Bull," provides an entirely different kind of character here - ingratiating, slimy, self-deprecating, lovable. He gives us a counterpoint to the violence, and Gibson and Glover both have fun playing off of him.

"Lethal Weapon 2" was directed by Richard Donner, who also made the first film. Unlike a lot of directors specializing in high-tech action comedies, he doesn't seem exhausted or cynical. There's an alertness to his scenes, and a freshness to the dialogue by Jeffrey Boam. This doesn't seem like a sequel, but like a movie in which new discoveries are always possible.

Link #1
Link #2
Link #3

Cavanaugh: 20 bucks on Riggs and Murtaugh.
Cop #2: Who’s driving?
Captain Murphy: Murtaugh. In his wife’s station wagon.
Cop #2: I'll take that bet!
Cavanaugh: I knew nothing about the wife’s station wagon. Bet’s off!
Captain Murphy: Hey! Shut up!

[after Riggs and Murtaugh give Leo a tuna sandwich from the drive-thru]
Leo: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me! Fellas!
Murtaugh: What?
Leo: Excuse me, guys. This is tuna. I hate tuna, okay? I refuse to get stuck with tuna. Now, come on.
Murtaugh: Hey, Leo, don't eat the tuna.
Leo: Oh, where were you? I just said that. I'm not eating this. I'm not eating tuna. Come on. Let's go back.
Murtaugh: We're not goin' back. So, just shut up!
Leo: Oh, sure. Don't go back. Okay. Okay, don't go back. That's it. Can I give you two guys a friendly piece of advice, okay? Don't ever go up to the drive-thru! Okay? Always walk up to the counter. You know why? Okay. Okay. They **** you at the drive-thru! Okay?! They **** you at the drive-thru! They know you're gonna be miles away before you find out you got ****ed! Okay? They know you're not gonna turn around and go back. So they don't care. Who gets ****ed? Oh, Leo Getz! Okay, sure! I don't give a ****! I'm not eatin' this tuna! Okay?!
Riggs and Murtaugh: SHUT UP!!

Riggs: I’m surprised you haven't heard about me, you know, I got a bad reputation, sometimes I just go nuts, like now. [Crazy giggle]

Consulate Envoy: What can I do for you today?
Leo: Okay, I have this problem, this very delicate matter. I have a friend of mine, wants to emigrate to South Africa.
Consulate Envoy: Yes, of course. I can certainly help him do that.
Leo: Oh sure. But I want you to talk him out of it.
Consulate Envoy: Talk him out of it?
Leo: Yeah.
Consulate Envoy: Whatever for?
Leo: W-well, you see, this is such a bad time for him to go to South Africa. I mean with all the trouble and everything, okay.
Consulate Envoy: Look, why don’t you ask your friend to come back later in the week. We can sit down-
Leo: No, he’s here. He’s here.
Consulate Envoy: He’s here?
Leo: Yeah, he’s here now.
Consulate Envoy: Where?
Leo: Alphonse! Alphonse?[Murtaugh comes around the corner]
Murtaugh: How you doing?
Consulate Envoy: [dumbstruck] I think there must be some mistake.
Murtaugh: Say what?
Consulate Envoy: Sir, listen to your friend, here. He knows what he’s talking about. I don’t think you want to go to South Africa.
Murtaugh: Why not?
Consulate Envoy: B-Because you’re black.
Leo: [to Murtaugh] You are. [to Envoy] He is.

Murtaugh: What’s your signal?
Riggs: You’ll know it when it happens.
Murtaugh: Somehow, I think I will know.

Riggs: We're back, we're bad. You're black, I'm mad. Let’s go!

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Hall of Famer
X = XIII the Conspiracy: A little known film, but a tight little thriller staring Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer. It was directed by Duane Clark. I would call it a poor man's Jason Bourne movie. There's an assassination, and the person of interest has no memory. Sound familiar? But that aside, it held my interest, and had a few twists and turns.

The first female president of the United States, Sally Sheridan, (Mimi Kuzyk) is killed by a sniper during her speech at Veterans Day. Her assassin narrowly escapes after a shoot out involving a shadowy figure named La Mangouste (Val Kilmer) or "The Mongoose". Three months later in West Virginia, an elderly couple discover a young man (Stephen Dorff) who lies wounded above on a tree in a parachute. He cannot remember his past and the only clue to his identity is a numerical tattoo on his chest, "XIII".

Meanwhile, in the White House, a joint intelligence task force led by Colonel Amos (Greg Bryk) is frantically conducting the search for the President's killer. With the presidential elections just weeks away, a confirmed suspect could swing the vote for the incumbent administration. Regaining his health, XIII searches for more information about the imprint on his body using the couple's home computer. This leads to his location being picked up by the NSA and in no time at all a squad of elite special forces swarm the couple's house in Cape Fear.


Climax. 2018.


It's a horror film. A dance troupe throws a party but someone spikes the punch. I don't usually do horror - so can't comment on how it compares to the genre generally - but I found it pretty intense. From wikipedia:

Climax premiered on 10 May 2018 in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Art Cinema Award. It was theatrically released in France on 19 September 2018 by Wild Bunch and in Belgium on 21 November 2018 by O'Brother Distribution. The film received positive reviews, with many critics praising its direction, cinematography, soundtrack, choreography, and performances, although some criticized its violence and perceived lack of story.

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
To fill my "relaxed N" column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:

The Thi(N) Ma(N) (1934)

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan


I originally had this film as a finalist for my "T" selection but went a different direction, so I'm happy to have a second chance to get it in. Unfortunately, the trailers I can find were not super compelling (I imagine that in 1934, the idea of the trailer was a bit different than it is now) so instead I've linked a clip that actually does a very good job of setting up the story, based on a Dashiell Hammett novel: Nick Charles, former detective, and his spunky wife Nora are vacationing in New York when the daughter of an old friend bumps into them and informs them that her father is missing. Nick doesn't particularly want to get back into the detective racket, but if an old friend is missing...

Eventually, the film turns into a classic murder mystery, down to the good old "invite all the suspects to dinner to figure out which one did it" trope. (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this story pioneered that trope.) But the real star of the film is the chemistry between Powell and Loy, who quip and banter and argue while all the while being madly in love with each other and drinking as hard as they can in the immediate aftermath of Prohibition (which ended in December of 1933). The movie was so successful that it spawned five sequels, and all of them are based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Because William Powell was slender, audiences who didn't pay much attention to the plot of the film thought that Nick Charles was the "thin man". But the "thin man" was actually the murder victim in the original film, whose body was buried in a fat person's clothes to throw the coppers off the scent. Oh, well.

For me, a lot of comedy films from this era just lose their punch, mostly because a lot of the jokes don't translate across eras, but The Thin Man is timeless - its jokes typically aren't contemporary references but instead poke fun at human nature, and that, it would seem, does not change.

I don't like crooks. And if I did like 'em, I wouldn't like crooks that are stool pigeons. And if I did like crooks that are stool pigeons, I still wouldn't like you.
X = XXX (2002)

XXX is an exhilarating mix of an extreme sports stud, with a James Bond job, James Bond girl, and a Czech James Bond villain. Sure it is a homage to 007, but this re-imagination is exciting too!

Roger Ebert August said:
'XXX" stars Vin Diesel as a smart-ass Bond with a bad attitude. The filmmakers have broken down the James Bond series into its inevitable components, constructed a screenplay that rips off 007 even in the small details, and then placed Diesel at the center of it--as Xander Cage, extreme sports hero and outlaw. In its own punk way, "XXX" is as good as a good Bond movie, and that's saying something.

Diesel is a tough guy with the shaved head, the tattoos and the throwaway one-liners (after he's busted for stealing a car and driving it off a bridge, he says, "It was only a Corvette."). In last summer's "The Fast and the Furious," he hurtled cars down city streets in death-defying races. As we meet him in "XXX," he's a famous sports daredevil who steals computer chips and cars and is finally hunted down by Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson), a National Security Agency spymaster with a scarred face and a role inspired by M in the Bond series.

If Bond is a patriot, Xander is a man who looks out only for No. 1, until Gibbons threatens him with prison unless he agrees to go to the Czech Republic and stop a madman with, yes, a plan to destroy and/or conquer the world. This villain, named Yorgi (Marton Csokas), apparently lives in the Prague Castle, which will come as a surprise to President Vaclav Havel. He's a renegade officer of the evil Czech Secret Service; the movie doesn't seem to know that the Cold War is over and Czechs are good guys these days, but never mind: The movie was shot on location in Prague, part of the current filmmaking boom in the republic, and the scenery is terrific.

Director Rob Cohen and producer Neal H. Mortiz, who also made "REDACTED," follow the Bond formula so carefully this would be a satire if it weren't intended as a homage. We click off the 007 check points: (1) Villain in lair hidden within mountain, with faceless minions busily going about tasks; (2) a beautiful girl, former KGB, named Yelena (Asia Argento), who seems to be Yorgi's girlfriend but falls for Xander; (3) a techno-geek who supplies Xander with a trick gun and a customized GTO that has an arsenal on board; (4) stunts involving parachuting, mountains, avalanches and explosions; (5) a chase at the end to save the world, and (6), my favorite, the obligatory final scene where the hero basks in Bora Bora with the beautiful girl in a bikini, while his boss tries to persuade him to take another job.

Will he take another job? Of course he will. Xander Cage is a new franchise, and Vin Diesel, who was walking around Sundance a few years ago telling everyone he would someday be a big star, was right.

I love the lengths that villains go to in these movies. Consider Yorgi. He has devised an incredibly expensive steel speedboat armed with three rockets containing canisters of poison gas. This speedboat is inside a mountain cavern far below his lair. It is his superweapon for world domination. Fine, except where can a boat go in the landlocked Czech Republic? Down the Danube through Budapest and Vienna? In the event, he decides to attack Prague itself, and we're wondering: Considering how much it cost him to hollow out the mountain and build the boat, why not just put the gas canisters into a car and drive into town? Yorgi is the kind of bad guy who is beloved by the architects of the 'star wars' defense, staging an attack that is cumbersome, costly and visible, instead of just delivering the goods by FedEx.

As the boat speeds down the river into town, Xander does a stunt that is not only exciting but, even better, impossible. As the Russian babe pilots the GTO on a road parallel to the river, Xander fires a steel cable, which attaches to the boat, and then he transfers from the car to the boat using the cable and a parasail. Wonderful, except ... do you suppose there are any lamp posts, traffic lights or telephone poles along the road that the cable might get hung up on? Never mind. Now Xander's on board, trying to disarm the canisters by using a slicked-up cyber-version of the old standby where he has to decide between the green wire and the red wire. Meanwhile, Gibbons has a vantage point on one of the bridges, and is commanding fighter planes that are prepared to blast the boat out of the water, no doubt thereby dispersing the poison gas, but c'est la vie.

See, I like all this stuff, at least when it's done well. Diesel's gruff, monosyllabic style is refreshing as a counterpoint to the gung-ho action, and the romantic scenes with the beautiful Yelena consist of two kisses, because Xander has a world to save. The music is aggressive heavy metal by the German band Rammstein, and Csokas, as the villain, has one of those fleshy, sneering faces, surrounded by too much greasy hair, that goes with his central European accent. Oddly, he isn't from Transylvania at all, but from New Zealand, and you may have seen him on "Xena." He likes to play opposite characters with X-names.

Is "XXX" a threat to the Bond franchise? Not a threat so much as a salute. I don't want James Bond to turn crude and muscular on me; I like the suave style. But I like Xander, too, especially since he seems to have studied Bond so very carefully. Consider the movie's big set piece, totally in the 007 tradition, when Xander parachutes to a mountaintop, surveys the bad guys on ski-mobiles below, throws a grenade to start an avalanche, and then outraces the avalanche on a snowboard while the bad guys are wiped out. Not bad. Now all he has to work on is the kissing.

Link #1 = Trailer
Link #2 = Forest Hill Bridge Stunt

Time to nut up or shut up


Z is for ...

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

I picked up the original in a previous draft, and still find that to be a go-to film-for-all-seasons type of afternoon killer. I don't think I've ever NOT been in the mood for Zombieland. Apparently in the years since, the original became classified as a "cult classic" (despite it being both critically and commercially successful, which a "cult classic" can maybe be one or the other, but certainly not BOTH ), and a groundswell from the feverish underground dedicated fandom earned it a sequel (and not because it was the highest grossing zombie film of all time from 2009 to 2014).

So yay, here we are a decade later, and all four mains are back in the world of Zombieland.

And the sequel is more of the same. Same style. Same snark. Same irreverence. Same same, but different. Really guys, it's totally different. New one-liners, new settings, new characters, new shenanigans. Little Rock has aged about 20 years, so that's different. It's a whole new adventure of zombie killing.

OK, so truth, that "sameness" is the essence of what dragged the sequel down in the eyes of critics calling it in terms of story progression "unnecessary." ... implying that the original Zombieland was itself overtly "necessary." So, what you're sayng is all a sequel gave me is 139 more minutes of Zombieland.

Deal! Should I sign the papers now?

You know what is profoundly different though? How about a half dozen Academy Award nominations (and one win) from the main cast, with Ms. Stone doing the heavy lifting in that department. Sure, that seems irrelevant and petty, but the preview highlighting this specific fact captured exactly what made a sequel "necessary."

When the original came out, your main cast was a one-note child star with an Academy Award nomination as a preteen, two young actors who'd had solid supporting roles in a few comedies, and the absolute coup of a one-time Academy Award nominee and pseudo-leading man for whom the filmmakers had to promise to go vegan in order to cast.

The movie came out, critics approved, it did surprisingly well at the box office. It was a success. Hooray for us.

But in the decade that followed, a funny thing happened to the little zombie movie that could. People really rallyed around it turning it into a "cult" film, even though it really doesn't fit that description. More importantly though, Harrelson increased his star power taking on increasingly sophisticated and celebrated roles, Eisenberg carried one of the best movies of the past decade earning a best actor nomination, Stone became one of the most sought after leading women in Hollywood including taking home a best actress Oscar, and Breslin escaped the trap of many child actors by still doing quality work today. Double Tap is the absolutely necessary victory lap of the unlikeliest underdog championship story in recent Hollywood cinema.

Putting it into sports terms, it's like having a scrappy team of talented nobodies and misfits, who come together to do way, WAAAY better than anyone ever expected. Double Tap would be the first game of the next season after that team won the championship.

It doesn't matter how good that next season is, I'm just glad to have everyone back on the same court.

PS: It's classified as horror/comedy, but that's only because it has zombies. Zombieland has as much horror as Jaws has fishing.


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With my twenty-fifth pick in the Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft, I will make use of my # slot to select:

28 Days Later (2002):

Director: Danny Boyle
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Writer: Alex Garland
Score: John Murphy
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson
Genre: Horror, drama, action
Runtime: 1 hour, 53 minutes

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289043/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

28 Days Later is, in my estimation, the best of the zombie films released on this side of the millennium.

Matt Zoller Seitz said:
"28 Days Later" might be one of my favorite films. It's definitely my favorite zombie movie, or maybe I should say "zombie by proxy" movie, since the threatening hordes are infected by a rage virus, not dead. It's not as politically or satirically ambitious as George Romero's zombie pictures, but as a visionary piece of pure cinema—a film that, to paraphrase Roger, is more about how it's about things than what it's about—I think it's unbeatable. A classic.

I have no particular reason to sing the movie's praises right now, besides that I watched it tonight for maybe the twentieth time—with my kids, who'd never seen it—and adored every second. Also, [REDACTED] is in theaters right now and in my opinion has maybe a fiftieth of the aesthetic and emotional impact of "28 Days Later," despite having been made on a hundred-times bigger budget. The latter is director Danny Boyle's best, purest, most controlled, economical, and powerful film, dark and violent but ultimately inspiring in its affirmation of the basic values that keep humankind chugging along even in the worst of circumstances.

The kids—Hannah, almost 16, and James, 9—loved the movie, too. I realize I'm not supposed to show movies like "28 Days Later" to a nine year old, but James is a tough little guy who's been through a lot in real life, and has never once been scared by a film that I know of. Movies simply do not scare him, period. Never, ever. They're just pictures on a screen to him, no more upsetting than the gory paintings he sees in the Renaissance sections of museums. He just likes to watch movies. Like his sister, and like me, he admires filmmaking in the way others admire athleticism or musicianship. I let James see all kinds of things I wasn't allowed to see until I was in middle school, just as I let Hannah watch things that my own parents would not have let me see at her age, because my kids know that even though movies can be thrilling and moving, they aren't real in the way that life is.

We watch movies together attentively and with humor—particularly action films, silly comedies and horror pictures/thrillers. It's nourishing. This viewing was a lot of fun.

The scene in the tunnel made the kids laugh with excitement. James hoped the rats that stampeded past Brendan Gleeson's car were zombie rats, and was mildly disappointed that they weren't. He was sad when the dad got infected by the rage virus, but thought he was stupid to bang that fence with that bloody corpse at the top of it. The boy's response to the father's death was heartening for me. I found the scene so upsetting, despite having seen it many times before, that it nearly moved me to tears. The prospect of losing one's humanity before one's child in a heartbeat—to use the film's key phrase—is to terrible to contemplate.

At one point James said, "This doesn't feel like a zombie movie." That's a big part of the reason I like it, actually, even though I love zombie movies. About midway through, James said, "I like that it's a disease and the people aren't dead. It's more interesting."

When that smeary shot of the multicolored flower fields came up, Hannah said, "Van Gogh."

It's a deeply romantic film, I think, weird as that might sound. The main love story is as unsentimental as a love story can be, but powerful because it evolves out of circumstances. It underlines that there is more to survival than survival itself. You have to want to survive so that you can keep experiencing things like love, friendship, family, food, drink, the sun on your face. You have to love the world to want to survive. You have to be positive to wish to live as long as you can. You have to will yourself to imagine the future, even if you think there won't be one.

The climax of the film—that five-minute action sequence in the military-controlled mansion, with the pouring rain and the red-eyed infected screaming and howling and tearing people up, scored to "In a Heartbeat"—is a flat-out amazing piece of precision filmmaking, with every shot and cut counting for something. It reminds me quite a bit of the mountaintop battle that concludes Michael Mann's [REDACTED] and I would not be hugely surprised to learn that director Danny Boyle modeled it on that sequence. The hero's kicker line ("that was longer than a heartbeat") is one of the most romantic lines in any movie.

I told them the kids that our mutual friend Dean, to whom I showed the film about three years ago, and who is deeply religious, said he felt the presence of God in the movie, and that God was sad. He said he'd never felt that way about a horror film before, and he'd seen quite a few. James had no idea what to make of that story, but Hannah said, "That's a strange thing to say, but I think I know what he means."

At the very end of the film, I told James, "Did you recognize that main guy? He was Scarecrow in "Batman Begins."" James said, "I didn't recognize him. He must be a good actor."


The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Gamora: I am going to die surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.

"Y" is for:

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)



I'm glad that the expanded rules allow for me to pick this one up! @Mr. S£im Citrus grabbed Vol. 2, but for my $$$ I liked the first one better.

From wikipedia:

The film was directed by James Gunn, who wrote the screenplay with Nicole Perlman, and features an ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper as the titular Guardians, along with Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio del Toro. In the film, Peter Quill and a group of extraterrestrial criminals go on the run after stealing a powerful artifact.
I generally love the Marvel films - and while they are all "Marvel", each brings something a bit different to the table as far as tone, direction, character development, and yes, humor. That is what sucks you in with this flick - the variety in and subtleties of the humor that have you laughing all the way through. My dad (the resident movie critic) originally thought it was going to be a dumb flick due to having a mobile tree and talking raccoon as heroes, but like the rest of us he really ended up enjoying it in the theater when I got him to go.

The film became a critical and commercial success, grossing $772.8 million worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing superhero film of 2014, as well as the third-highest-grossing film of 2014. The film was praised for its screenplay, direction, acting, humor, soundtrack, visual effects, and action sequences.
Speaking of the soundtrack, it was conceived as a "mixtape" from Quill's mom to him in the film and features prominently throughout, including:
"Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede, "Go All the Way" by Raspberries, "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie, "Fooled Around and Fell in Love" by Elvin Bishop, "I'm Not in Love" by 10cc, "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5, "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone, "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways, "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes, "O-o-h Child" by Five Stairsteps, and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

The soundtrack album reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first soundtrack album in history consisting entirely of previously released songs to top the chart. The album topped the Billboard Top Soundtracks for 11 consecutive weeks and 16 weeks in total. As of April 2017, it has sold over 1.75 million copies in the United States alone, and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA.
Scott Foundas of Variety said "James Gunn's presumptive franchise-starter is overlong, overstuffed and sometimes too eager to please, but the cheeky comic tone keeps things buoyant—as does Chris Pratt's winning performance", and praised the film's look created by cinematographer Ben Davis, production designer Charles Wood, and special effects makeup designer David White. Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter also praised the film's look, and felt "A well-matched ensemble rises to the challenge of launching a heroic origin film with distinctive style, abundant thrills and no shortage of humor." The Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin said, "A brand new summer family blockbuster this may be, but it plays by old, half-forgotten rules; trimming out the clutter and cross-referencing for snappy, streamlined, Saturday-cartoon fun". Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, "Blessed with a loose, anarchic B-picture soul that encourages you to enjoy yourself even when you're not quite sure what's going on, the scruffy Guardians is irreverent in a way that can bring the first Star Wars to mind, in part because it has some of the most unconventional heroes this side of the Mos Eisley cantina."
Groot: I am Groot.
Peter Quill: Well that's just as fascinating as the first 89 times you told me that. What is wrong with Giving Tree here?
Rocket Raccoon: Well he don't know talkin' good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to "I" and "am" and "Groot," exclusively in that order.
Peter Quill: Well I tell you what, that's gonna wear real thin, real fast, bud.

Drax the Destroyer: Where did you learn to do that?
Peter Quill: I'm pretty sure the answer is: "I am Groot".
Groot: [Groot nods "yes" to Peter]

Drax the Destroyer: I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you've accepted me despite my blunders. It is good to once again be among friends. You, Quill, are my friend.
Peter Quill: Thanks.
Drax the Destroyer: This dumb tree is also my friend.
[Groot grunts]
Drax the Destroyer: And this green whore is also...
Gamora: Oh, you must stop!

Gamora: [stands up] Quill, I have lived most of my life surrounded my enemies. I will be grateful to die among my friends.
Drax the Destroyer: [stands up] You're an honorable man, Quill. I will fight beside you. And in the end, I will see my wife and daughter.
Groot: [stands up] I am Groot.
Rocket Raccoon: Aww, what the hell, I don't got that long a lifespan anyway...
[stands up]
Rocket Raccoon: Well now I'm standing. Happy? We're all standing now. Bunch of jack***es, standing in a circle.

Peter Quill: Yeah, I'll have to agree with the walking thesaurus on that one.
Drax the Destroyer: DO NOT ever call me a thesaurus.
Peter Quill: It's just a metaphor, dude.
Rocket Raccoon: His people are completely literal. Metaphors go over his head.
Drax the Destroyer: *Nothing* goes over my head...! My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.

Gamora: I'm a warrior, an assassin. I don't dance.
Peter Quill: Really? Well, on my planet, we have a legend about people like you. It's called Footloose. And in it, a great hero, named Kevin Bacon, teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that, dancing, well, is the greatest thing there is.
Gamora: ...Who put the sticks up their butts?

Gamora: And Quill, your ship is filthy.
Gamora: [She walks away]
Peter Quill: Oh she has no idea. If I had a blacklight, this would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.
Rocket Raccoon: You got issues, Quill.

Rocket Raccoon: [to Groot] Quit smiling, ya idiot, you're supposed to be professional.

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
"U" is for:

Shao Lin san shi liU fang (The Master Killer, aka The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) (1978)


Director: Chia-liang Liu
Writer: Kuang Ni
Score: Frankie Chan and Yung-Yu Chen
Cast: Gordon Liu, Lieh Lo, Chia Yung Liu, Norman Chu
Genre(s): Adventure, Action
Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes

IMDb summary: A man studies kung fu at the Shaolin Temple to fight back against the oppressive Manchu government.

Presumed to be set some time after the third Dzungar-Qing War, Shao Lin san shi liu fang is something of a fictional retelling of the legend of Liu Yude, who later became known as the legendary Shaolin monk San Te. As a student, Yude (Liu) is recruited by his activist teacher into joining the local rebellion against the Manchu (Qing) government. Government officials, however, led by General Tien Ta (Lo), squash the attempted uprising, slaughtering nearly all the students, and their families. Yude swears vengeance, and prepares to head to the Shaolin temple to learn kung fu, but is brutalized by Manchu loyalists. Yude eventually makes his way to the temple, and after allowing him to heal, Yude, now calling himself San Te, is given permission to train in Shaolin Kung Fu.

This movie is a classic in the genre, widely considered to be one of the greatest kung fu movies of all time, and was a star turn for lead actor Gordon Liu who, in a nice bit of symmetry, co-stars in Kill Bill Vol. 2, previously picked by @VF21. Shao Lin san shi liu fang had a tremendous influence on the genre for decades. Specifically, the "36th Chamber" that the title refers to, does not exist in the Shaolin Temple. Rather, it is created by San Te, and is more of a metaphorical "chamber," which he creates in order for him to teach kung fu to outsiders. Many kung fu films in years to come will feature protagonists who learned at the "36th Chamber," one of the more popular of which is Heroes Two.

Moreover, the story of San Te wanting to create the 36th Chamber to teach the local Han Chinese to defend themselves against the oppressive Manchus (Qing) makes this film a potentially interesting study in post-colonial Hong Kong theater. The themes of rebellion and violence/vengeance as an ethical response weren't necessarily appreciated by Western audiences who were just there for the "chop socky," but hit differently to its original target audience. It's also interesting to note that this film takes place over a ten-year period which, when looked at in that context, adds an interesting twist to the plot: how can a man motivated by anger and revenge complete his training at a school where his motivations run counter to what they are trying to teach him?

This movie continued to be influential, not only in the genre, but in pop culture itself. Director Chia-Liang Liu (aka Master Lau), in particular, became known for his trademark of featuring his film's star performing a martial arts demonstration against a blank backdrop in the opening credits (as seen in the trailer below). The rap supergroup the Wu-Tang clan, took inspiration from this movie in creating their name, and Wu-Tang member Masta Killa, specifically, took his name from the American title of the film. The film was also noteworthy in popularizing the use of Chinese folk hero Hung Hsi-Kuan in kung fu movies.

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Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
I'm glad that the expanded rules allow for me to pick this one up! @Mr. S£im Citrus grabbed Vol. 2, but for my $$$ I liked the first one better.
Yeah, well, lucky for you that I didn't have any of those letters to play with, or you might have been disappointed.

The soundtrack is great, but I lowkey love the score: the Guardians' theme is my second-favorite of all the MCU properties.

Mr. S£im Citrus

Doryphore of KingsFans.com
Staff member
I can't believe that I might have to redact my next write up because there's still one participant who hasn't selected a movie starting with one of the letters. And not only are they the only participant who hasn't selected a movie with this letter, they're the only one who didn't pick a movie starting with this letter, in the regular rounds.
V = Virtuosity (1995)

Denzel Washington vs. Russell Crowe. Sign me up!

Roger Ebert said:
Los Angeles, 1999. A city of zombies in gray business suits, walking unseeing in the streets. Only two people seem aware of their surroundings. One of them is Parker Barnes (Denzel Washington), who moves easily through the crowds, in search of something. His quest leads to a Japanese restaurant, where there is a bloody struggle with a bad guy who has taken hostages. There is a shoot-out, which does not develop quite as it should. . . .

And this has all been a computer game, as we suspected, since some of the shots of the sky fluttered as if the screen were repainting itself. Back in the real world, Barnes is revealed as a former cop, now in prison, with a computer-controlled artificial arm.

And the game is explained as virtual reality training for police, to help them cope with sudden emergencies.

In "Virtuosity," Barnes finds himself in familiar fictional territory: This is yet another retread of the familiar formula where the rogue cop is reactivated because he is the only person who can deal with the brilliant and dangerous villain. But here the movie turns up a new twist. The bad guy in "Virtuosity" is not a human being but a computer program named Sid 6.7, which plays the villain in the VR simulations.

Sid 6.7 (given human form by Russell Crowe) is some program.

Into his cyber memory has been pumped the personalities of 200 criminals, including Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy - and the man who killed Barnes' own wife and children. Sid is so intelligent he knows how to tap into his many personalities in order to torment his enemies, and he taunts Russell with memories of his family.

And Sid has other abilities. We see how new science has made it possible for computer chips to replicate themselves, using the raw material of silicon. Sid pulls off a really neat trick, escaping from the "box," or computer, and creating himself in the real world.

(There is a nice moment as he takes shape, slumps for a second, and then understands the sensation he is feeling: "Gravity!") Sid takes physical shape as a mandroid, escapes from the lab and becomes a serial killer at large - 200 serial killers at large. There are two catches. One is that Sid 6.7, programmed with artificial intelligence, can now grow on his own, rewriting and improving his own programs. The other is that Sid is interactive down to the tiniest electron in his cybersoul. He is not happy unless he's involved in a battle with his antagonists, since the world of computer gaming is all he knows.

For Barnes, who for a cop is unusually knowledgeable about computer programming, this is the ultimate challenge, and "Virtuosity" is clever in the ways it finds to morph the situation.

One problem is that Sid, like the mercurial villain in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," is hard to kill because he has control over his physical manifestation. Shot many times, his limbs lopped off, he regenerates by using silicon (even eating glass, which is always appropriate for a villain). Lacking all the higher human instincts, he is a real rotter, at one point ordering his hostages to scream and then conducting them like an orchestra (this is a steal of an old Second City routine, but never mind).

For the merely human Parker Barnes, Sid evokes memories of the dead family and plays cruel jokes: Like all true computer games, he exists to be played, and in a sense he would be defeated even in victory because then the game would be over, and he would be inactive again. So involved does he become, indeed, that Sid 6.7 loses track of exactly what side of the cybermembrane he's on, and at one point is astonished to find he has returned to virtual reality and is no longer in the real world: "I'm back in the box?" The movie supplies Barnes with a partner, Madison (Kelly Lynch), but she in a way is even more of a cyber creation than Sid, because she has no particular function except to be the token female sidekick: good-looking, supportive, able to be endangered when necessary, etc. The real battle is between Barnes and Sid 6.7 (and Sid's programs, including the nicely named BombShop 6.7).

"Virtuosity" is an example of a struggle that goes on in Hollywood between formula and invention. The movie is filled with bright ideas and fresh thinking, but the underlying story is as old as the hills, right down to a final confrontation on catwalks (there is nothing quite like a catwalk for satisfying scenes in which characters hang by one arm, bash each other with pipes, fall to their dooms, etc.). What redeems "Virtuosity" a little is that even at the end, even in the midst of the action clichés, it still finds surprises in the paradox of a villain that is also a program.

Link #1
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Z = Zero Dark Thirty (2012) - R

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.

Roger Ebert said:
Osama bin Laden is dead, which everybody knows, and the principal facts leading up to that are also well-known. The decision to market "Zero Dark Thirty" as a thriller therefore takes a certain amount of courage, even given the fascination with this most zero and dark of deaths. (The title is spy-speak for "half past midnight," the time of bin Laden's death.)

The film stars Jessica Chastain, the ubiquitous new star who now dominates the American acting landscape. One could even argue that the film is Jessica Chastain and her character. She plays "Maya," a lone wolf CIA agent who sticks to her conviction that bin Laden is not in a cave in Afghanistan, hunched over a kidney dialysis machine, but is likely living in relatively open sight.

In reality, when the terrorist was finally tracked down and taken out, the universal astonishment was that his hiding place was a large, walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and that his residence there was relatively widely known -- in the same area, anyway, as the location of a Pakistan military college.

Most of the film involves the search of the allied side, including the tracing down of leads that many Americans considered too obvious and in plain sight to be plausible. To Maya, however, that is the whole beauty of bin Laden's scheme; one is reminded of Poe's "The Purloined Letter": It is wise to conceal something in plain sight. What takes imagination is to act on it -- to back her hunch with the impulse to believe it is plausible. Here is a disagreement between the time-honored methods of espionage and a quicker, more intuitive approach involving a hunch too good to be true.

The film's first two hours or so consist of a struggle between the Maya faction and the Maya non-believers, and the stakes are huge in the decision to pull the trigger. Consider the embarrassment to President Barack Obama and his advisers if they had turned out to be publicly, sensationally, embarrassingly wrong. You can't call in the Navy SEALs to break into a huge compound on the land of a nation that is theoretically, anyway, an ally. The administration's subsequent portrait of those climactic moments and the possibiliy of its being wrong are very convincing.

The subtext deserves a movie of its own, about a disagreement between macho males who feast on torture and hard-boiled guts, and a woman who depends on more on her intelligence and imagination. The leading male characters in the opening of the film are in the tradition of that beloved formula in which an expert team acts together with high tech. Maya, on the other hand, is more like the dutiful female heroine of one of those thrillers set in big business and corporate finance, who uses no privileged intelligence but is willing to fly in the face of the way men have always done things.

As Maya, Chastain shows again how versatile an actress she is. Apart from Meryl Streep, who else has appeared in new movies with such a range and ability to convince? Much credit is due to former journalist Mark Boal, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Bigelow's "REDACTED," who begins with facts and not a formula easily shaped into conventional forms of fiction. I gather that much of his and Bigelow's early preparation for this film took place before it began to be known (in those shadowy places where such things reside) that the end of this film could not turn out quite as everyone expected.

The film's opening scenes are not great filmmaking. They're heavy on jargon and impenetrable calculation, murky and heavy on theory. The parts that everyone now wants to see involve the attack itself. Here the film uses the modern style of underlit Shaky-Cam, with dialogue hard to follow and rapid action in shadows and confusion. We do finally see a version of what must have happened, and even see something of bin Laden's face and the moments of his death, and it's all well-enough made, but to paraphrase the MGM slogan, "That's not entertainment."

The raid on the compound cannot logically be well-lighted and staged, and the portrayal of bin Laden and the other occupants of his home cannot be based on our knowledge of his personality and motivation, because that's not how the film starts out. Thus the "Zero Dark Thirty" raid is not so much a payoff for the events that have been building onscreen, but is a masterstroke of fate.

My guess is that much of the fascination with this film is inspired by the unveiling of facts, unclearly seen. There isn't a whole lot of plot -- basically, just that Maya thinks she is right, and she is. The back story is that Bigelow has become a modern-day directorial heroine, which may be why this film is winning even more praise than her masterful Oscar-winner "REDACTED." That was a film firmly founded on plot, character and actors whose personalities and motivations became well-known to the audience. Its performances are razor-sharp and detailed, the acting restrained, the timing perfect.

In comparison, "Zero Dark Thirty" is a slam-bang action picture, depending on Maya's inspiration. One problem may be that Maya turns out to be correct, with a long, steady build-up depriving the climax of much of its impact and providing mostly irony. Do we want to know more about Osama bin Laden and al Qaida and the history and political grievances behind them? Yes, but that's not how things turned out. Sorry, but there you have it.



Hall of Famer
Y = The Year of Living Dangerously: The movie was directed by Peter Weir, who also helped writing the screenplay. It stars a young Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, and the great Linda Hunt, who won an academy award for best supporting actor, or was it actress? Could have gone either way since Hunt, an actress plays a man in the movie. If you never seen the movie, I'm probably blowing that surprise for you, but I honestly had no idea that it was a woman playing the role. Of course then, Linda Hunt wasn't as recognizable as she is now.

Guy Hamilton (Gibson), a neophyte foreign correspondent for an Australian TV network, arrives in Jakarta on assignment. He meets the close-knit members of the foreign correspondent community, including journalists from the UK, the US, and New Zealand, diplomatic personnel—and Billy Kwan (Hunt), a Chinese-Australian dwarf of high intelligence and moral seriousness. Hamilton is initially unsuccessful because his predecessor, tired of life in Indonesia, had departed without introducing Hamilton to his contacts. He receives limited sympathy from the journalist community, which competes for scraps of information from Sukarno's regime, the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), and the conservative Muslim Indonesian military. However, Billy takes a liking to Guy and arranges interviews for him with key political figures.

Billy introduces Guy to Jill Bryant (Weaver), a beautiful young assistant at the British embassy. Billy and Jill are close friends, yet Billy subtly manipulates her encounters with Guy. After resisting Guy because she's returning to the UK, Jill falls in love with him. Discovering that the Communist Chinese are arming the PKI, Jill passes this information to Guy to save his life, but he wants to cover the Communist rebellion that will occur when the arms shipment reaches Jakarta. Shocked, Billy and Jill cut off contact with Guy, and he is left with the American journalist, Pete Curtis, and his own assistant and driver Kumar, who is secretly a member of the PKI.

Filming notes:
Although originally set to be filmed in Jakarta, permission to film in Indonesia was denied, so the bulk of the film was shot in the Philippines, in Manila’s Quiapo district and the Banaue Rice Terraces.[13] Death threats against Weir and Gibson from Muslims who believed the film would be anti-Islam forced the production to move to Australia. The crew moved to Sydney in early April 1982 during its fifth week of the six-week Philippine shoot with only a few small scenes remaining. Filming in Australia was for another six weeks.[10]