2020 Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft - BONUS ROUNDS

With my fourth pick in the Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft, I will make use of the letter G to select:

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992):



Director: James Foley
Dir. of Photography: Juan Ruiz Anchía
Writer: David Mamet
Score: James Newton Howard
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce
Genre(s): Drama, mystery, crime
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104348/

There are many letters of the alphabet for which I have pulled multiple films to potentially select for this draft. I've already used up b and t, and I could have conceivably selected a dozen other films that I adore with those two letters. Selecting The Thing, for example, prevented me from drafting what I consider to be the greatest film of this young century, but that was a trade-off I was willing to make because of the seismic influence The Thing represents. Still, these are touch decisions, and it's difficult for me to keep from second-guessing myself.

So for now, perhaps I will focus on letters for which I have listed far fewer possibilities. I had exactly two films that mattered to me for h, and it was easy enough to snag Heat while it was still on the board. And I had exactly three films pegged for g, but Ghostbusters was recently selected, which honestly made my life a bit easier. It was then a toss-up between two movies that I love, but the one with brass balls ultimately won out.

Glengarry Glen Ross was written by David Mamet and adapted from his stage play of the same name. It stars an absolute murderer's row of acting talent, and stuffs them all into a cramped, sh*tty little real estate office where the stakes might at first seem rather small to the audience, but are absolutely monumental for the characters involved.

What I love most about this film is how un-cinematic so much of it is. I am a huge proponent of examining the craft of cinema when discussing a particular film. I believe that the manner in which a film is made matters just as much as the plot construction or the performances involved. But Glengarry Glen Ross can't help but feel like a play, with considerable attention paid to adapting Mamet's two-act classic as faithfully as possible.

The sets certainly have the kind of incredibly-detailed flair you find more in film than on the stage, but they are appropriately Mamet-esque in their humble styling, and the staging and blocking of the actors and the action on screen is very reminiscent of a theater production. The film's director, James Foley, worked on little of note before or since. This is very much Mamet's show. Rarely has the writer of a film felt like the biggest presence in it, and Glengarry Glen Ross certainly contains some BIG performances.

Interestingly enough, the character played by Alec Baldwin (credited only as "Blake") in perhaps the film's most famous moment, with perhaps its most oversized performance, does not appear in Mamet's original play, and only appears in this single scene. But despite that one noticeable departure from Mamet's play, the scene sets the tone for the entire film, communicates the stakes as brashly as possible, and clarifies the pressure the film's salesman are under. We learn so much about them through their reactions to this abrasive foreign object in their office. Dave Moss' petulant dismissals. Shelley Levene's acidic stares. George Aaronow's defeated passivity. And the absence of Ricky Roma, the office's most decorated salesman, looms large. We will eventually come to discover just how much Roma represents the core tenets of Blake's ideology:

ALWAYS. BE. CLOSING.

 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Yippee-ki-yay, ************.

"D" is for:

Die Hard (1988)

Die_hard.jpg

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095016/

From wikipedia:

Transforming Willis into an action star, the film became a metonym for an action film in which a lone hero fights overwhelming odds.

In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Die Hard has been named one of the best action and Christmas-themed films ever made. The film also ranks No. 20 on Empire's 2017 list of the 100 greatest movies of all time.
Some critics have ranked the film on respective lists of the all-time best Christmas films (see below, Status as a Christmas film, for further discussion):
A pure action thriller that doubles as a Christmas movie. Hey, the internet says so - it must be true. :)

Acknowledging the debate over this, 20th Century Fox released a special Die Hard - Christmas Edition home media release in December 2018 (during the film's 30th anniversary), including a re-cut trailer to present the film as a heartwarming Christmas story.
I wasn't aware that this was Bruce Willis' first major action role and Alan Rickman's first motion picture - thanks @Padrino! Both of these actors are favorites of mine so that was pretty cool to find out. Bonnie Bedelia and William Atherton are also in it. The casting was fantastic for this movie.

The music is pretty good as well, with Ode to Joy, Singin' in the Rain, Winter Wonderland, Christmas in Hollis (Run DMC), Jingle Bells, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, etc., often as background music or variations on the original.

I remember watching this movie repeatedly with my dad when it came out on video as he loved it as much as I did.

A few interesting tidbits I learned doing a little research this evening:

(Frank) Sinatra, then in his early 70s, turned down the project. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined the role as he wished to broaden his appeal by attempting comedy in what eventually became Twins. After Schwarzenegger, the role was offered to a variety of other actors, including Richard Gere, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Don Johnson, Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson and Richard Dean Anderson, all of whom turned it down. Fast running out of options, demographic data from CinemaScore helped persuade the studio, the producers and director John McTiernan to offer the role to Bruce Willis.
De Souza has said he wrote the script as if Hans Gruber were the protagonist. "If he had not planned the robbery and put it together, Bruce Willis would have just gone to the party and reconciled or not with his wife. You should sometimes think about looking at your movie through the point of view of the villain who is really driving the narrative."
The corporate headquarters of 20th Century Fox, Fox Plaza in Century City (which had opened a year prior to the film's release), serves as the film's setting for both external and internal scenes. At the time of filming, the building was still under construction, and the setting for a scene of McClane exploring an unfinished floor complete with construction equipment was real—after filming (and construction) was completed, the room used for that scene became the office of former President Ronald Reagan.
Willis's first day on set was on November 2, 1987, when they shot the nighttime scene of him jumping with a fire hose around his waist as an explosion occurred behind what appeared to be the top of the Nakatomi tower behind him, following the completion of that day's filming on Moonlighting at Lorimar Studios (now Sony Pictures Studios) in Culver City, California. In reality, he jumped from the roof of a five-story parking garage onto an airbag. The force of the explosion blew him out to the very edge of the airbag. When upon completing the stunt Willis inquired why they hadn't filmed such a dangerous scene at the end of production, he was told that if they had, then they would have run the expensive risk of having to reshoot the whole movie with another actor.
I knew this one:
For (Rickman's) death scene, he was dropped 70 feet on a blue screen set. The shot used was the first take; Rickman was dropped sooner than he had been told he would be, so the look of fear on his face is genuine, an act that reportedly angered the actor.

In 2006, Gruber was listed as the 17th-greatest film character by Empire. John McClane was placed at number 12 on the same list. In the June 22, 2007 issue of Entertainment Weekly it was named the best action film of all time.
Some famous lines:

Hans Gruber: [Reading what McClane wrote on the dead terrorist's shirt] "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."

Hans Gruber: [Hans' radio turns on] I thought I told all of you, I want radio silence until further...
John McClane: Ooooh, I'm very sorry Hans. I didn't get that message. Maybe you should've put it on the bulletin board. I figured since I've waxed Tony and Marco and his friend here, I figured you and Karl and Franco might be a little lonely, so I wanted to give you a call.
Karl: How does he know so much about th...
Hans Gruber: [silences Karl him with a gesture] That's very kind of you. I assume you are our mysterious party crasher. You are most troublesome, for a security guard.
John McClane: Eeeh! Sorry Hans, wrong guess. Would you like to go for Double Jeopardy where the scores can really change?
Hans Gruber: Who are you then?
John McClane: Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass.

John McClane: [while crawling through a narrow ventilation shaft] Now I know what a TV dinner feels like.

Sergeant Al Powell: [over radio] Hey, John? John McClane you still with us?
John McClane: Yeah. But all things being equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia. Chalk up two more bad guys.
[Begins removing glass from foot]
Sergeant Al Powell: Well, the boys down here will be glad to hear that. You know we got a pool going on you.
John McClane: What kind of odds am I getting?
Sergeant Al Powell: You don't wanna know.
John McClane: Put me down for twenty, I'm good for it.

Hans Gruber: When they touch down, we'll blow the roof, they'll spend a month sifting through rubble, and by the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent.

Dwayne T. Robinson: We're gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess.

Hans Gruber: The circuits that cannot be cut are cut automatically in response to a terrorist incident. You asked for miracles, Theo, I give you the F.B.I.

John McClane: [after McClane sets off massive explosion] Is the building on fire?
Sergeant Al Powell: No, but it's gonna need a paint job and a **** load of screen doors.

Holly Gennero McClane: After all your posturing, all your little speeches, you're nothing but a common thief.
Hans Gruber: I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.


John McClane: Merry Christmas, Argyle.
Argyle: Merry Christmas.
Argyle: [Argyle shuts the limo door] If this is their idea of Christmas, I *gotta* be here for New Year's.
 
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Both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. Casting was fantastic as well.
Those casting choices obviously stand out today as absolute wins, but what's amazing is how out-of-the-blue they were in 1988. Bruce Willis had become a minor star on television for the series Moonlighting, but was hardly an obvious choice to headline a kinetic action movie. And Alan Rickman was primarily known for his stage work at the time, having only made screen appearances in British TV series. It was both Willis' and Rickman's debut in a major Hollywood film production!
 
Feel I selected this in the last draft. Quick anecdote - Cate Blanchett on watching Alan Alda in MASH, then meeting him:

My father died when I was young. And Alan Alda looked just like my father. And I would watch it five days a week, just to imbibe him and say hello. So when I eventually met him, my God, he must have thought I was some sort of mad person. I ran up to him as though I was seeing my dad.
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/07/cate-blanchett-carol-film-interview
 
For my letter S pick I choose: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)



I like this movie because of all the different types of animation they use. It is a thrilling spider-man origin story, and a hilarious comedy. The art in this film is true to the comic book style, scrit, and flows between each character's animation backstory seamlessly!


Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4633694/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3
 
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Oh my darling. Oh my darling
Oh my darling, Clementine
You were gone and lost forever
Dreadful sorrow, Clementine

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd

E is for ...

View attachment 9884

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

I had to warm up to this one. Maybe it was oversold to me at the time as a brilliant subversion of the rom-com genre with a tantalizing sci-fi premise. Maybe I never got on board with Carrey’s half-dozen or so film attempt to follow the late / great Robin Williams’ path in escaping the rubber-faced sophomoric absurdist funnyman typecast. Or maybe I simply came to it too early in my life and exploration of film as an art.

Whatever the reason, it took me multiple viewings over several years to appreciate the elegant simplicity and depth of heart on display in Eternal Sunshine.

Interestingly, my first instinct is to describe Carrey as solid and functional if unremarkable as Joel simply because I think Winslet as Clementine is the real standout. But then again, I can’t think of another actor who could portray Joel as effectively. Clearly was a conscience decision for Carrey to take the role as a subdued introvert who still has to emote to incredulously spectacular situations, and I think it’s a testament to his performance that my reaction is just that.

It also gives room for Winslet’s Clementine to fully embrace her subversive angle on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope a year before the term was even coined. Yes, that’s right, I am firmly in the camp that Clem is a subversion of the trope, and not an example of it.

I don’t want to get too far lost in the weeds of debating whether Clem is or isn’t an MPDG, or if the term is even useful rather than a further regressive label that minimizes the impact of female characters. I will merely say Clem is presented as a fully realized, multi-dimensional person with some quirks and eccentricities sure, but clearly glaring flaws and complex issues. She is also the only character who remains a complete person even as Joel’s memories are erased. She acts as the mystical guide of sorts for Joel to become a better person, but that’s by addressing his actual insecurities and psychological hang-ups, not simply by shouting “be happy silly” in a sing-song voice and showering him with rainbow skittles.

A lot of that credit should go to celebrated screenwriter Charlie Kauffman who won an Oscar for the screenplay, and was still doing edits even as scenes were being filmed. In fact, I’m usually a rabid zealot of auteur theory and firmly believe every aspect of the film, barring immense studio interference, is ultimately a reflection of the director. But from everything I’ve read about the production of Eternal Sunshine, this is one example of the film succeeding in spite of its director.

Cast and crew had to contend with a grueling shoot schedule and Gondry’s demands to do specialized set work after he erratically fired the team meant to do it. Cinematographers wrestled with Gondry’s ridiculous “whimsical” lighting demands and allusions to French New Wave techniques. Gondry kept clashing with editors during the exceedingly lengthy process. I admit to being mostly ignorant of Gondry’s work (it’s mostly music videos and the one other film of his I’ve seen makes me physically ill), but I’m not inclined to credit this film’s success points to his presence behind the camera.

Regardless, I finally came around to seeing this film as a brilliant subversion of the rom-com genre with a tantalizing sci-fi premise. But more importantly, it’s a sublime meditation on the treasure of memories, the invaluable growth they can inspire within our characters and psyche, and how vital they are even when they’re painful.

Sometimes, especially when they’re painful.
I still haven't seen this one either. I need to climb out from under my rock...;)
 
C - Caddyshack (1980)

1590463907956.jpg
https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0080487/

Time for some more comedy on my desert island. I was a young boy growing up in the 80s when I stumbled upon my Dads VHS copy of this film. There comes a time in every boys life when they are introduced to their first R rated movie and this was mine...so yeah lots of nostalgia ;). It wasn’t until I was a little older that I really learned to appreciate all that this film has to offer. Bill Murray is pure gold as “Carl” the greens keeper who is tasked to rid the Bushwood Country Club of that pesky gopher. Then you have Rodney Dangerfield as the developer “Al Czervik” who terrorizes and annoys “the honorable Judge Smails” played by Ted Knight. Ultimately, though, the story revolves around a teenage caddy “Danny Noonan” who needs money for college and his ambition to win the caddy scholarship. This film also stars peak Chevy Chase as the independently wealthy Ty Webb who is a regular member at Bushwood.

Gunga Galunga

 
I think Robin Williams is my favorite actor. He was such a vibrant being in each of his appearances, and successfully ran the gamut from slap stick hilarity to poignant soul. He is missed!

D = Dead Poets Society (1989) - R



Link #1
Link #2
Link #3
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Quotes:
Neil Perry: I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.

Keating: 'Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.' Why does the writer use these lines?
Charlie Dalton: Because he's in a hurry.
Keating: No. Ding! Thank you for playing anyway. Because we are food for worms, lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.

Keating: They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

Keating: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? "

Keating: Why do I stand up here? Anybody?
Charlie Dalton: To feel taller!
Keating: No! [Dings a bell with his foot] Thank you for playing Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.

McAllister: You take a big risk by encouraging them to be artists, John. When they realize they're not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts, they'll hate you for it.
Keating: We're not talking artists, George, we're talking freethinkers.
McAllister: Freethinkers at seventeen?
Keating: Funny — I never pegged you as a cynic.
McAllister: Not a cynic, a realist. "Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams, and I'll show you a happy man."
Keating: "But only in their dreams can men be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be."
McAllister: Tennyson?
Keating: No, Keating.

Keating: Phone call from God. If it had been collect, that would have been daring!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097165/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
 
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Just as a head’s up, I’ll be posting bajaden’s next couple of picks as well while he’s temporarily unavailable. Unfortunately for me, Die Hard was my primary D pick. On to my backup...

D is for Drive

352C6695-AD46-4BCE-8E2B-331C46F9ED9C.jpeg

I plan to actually circle back and do a write up for this one during the weekend, since I believe it to be a little lesser known and underappreciated (when it went from a limited to wide release, the marketing seemed to position it similar to a certain unnamed car-focused mega franchise, of which this is definitely not...a decision that I think greatly backfired, leaving a bad impression for a lot of casual viewers).
 
Just as a head’s up, I’ll be posting bajaden’s next couple of picks as well while he’s temporarily unavailable. Unfortunately for me, Die Hard was my primary D pick. On to my backup...

D is for Drive

View attachment 9887

I plan to actually circle back and do a write up for this one during the weekend, since I believe it to be a little lesser known and underappreciated (when it went from a limited to wide release, the marketing seemed to position it similar to a certain unnamed car-focused mega franchise, of which this is definitely not...a decision that I think greatly backfired, leaving a bad impression for a lot of casual viewers).
Oh dip! There goes my #1 choice for D! I'm glad you're going to devote some ink to this one. It's such a strong example of how to wield a cohesive aesthetic in film.
 

Capt. Factorial

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



The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels

Trailer

It looks like I'm going a bit sci-fi heavy to start out this draft - and what's wrong with that? The Martian kind of inverts the plot of my earlier pick Arrival, in that instead of aliens coming to Earth, here we've got earthlings going to Mars. The fundamental problem to be solved is different, too - it's not how to communicate, it's how to survive. Matt Damon (Mark Watney the botanist...a seemingly unlikely crew specialty for a Mars mission, admittedly) is stranded on the red planet after being separated from his crew in a dust storm, and left behind. In order to survive, he's got to "science the (heck) out of this". And that's your movie. Well, of course, we've also got earth-based scientists from NASA and JPL and China and Watney's former crew on their return mission home also sciencing the heck out of this to figure out how to get him back.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film - it's another rare one that I went back to see in the theater again. I was quite excited for it, as I was a fan of the novel it was based on, and I was ecstatic that the super-geeky, science-based approach of the book was adapted about as faithfully as possible for the big screen. On top of that the film does a great job of portraying Watney's solitude, and it hits all the emotional beats perfectly. And, for a sci-fi film, it gets the majority of the science right. There are some flubs along the way (the most nitpicked being that the dust storm carries far too much force) but Ridley Scott went a long way (no doubt with much credit due to author Andy Weir) to make sure that this film - which is ostensibly set in nearly-modern-day reality, not in the distant future or a galaxy far, far away - follows the rules as we know them.

Luckily, in the history of humanity, nothing bad has ever happened from lighting hydrogen on fire.
 
To fill my "M" column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:



The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels

Trailer

It looks like I'm going a bit sci-fi heavy to start out this draft - and what's wrong with that? The Martian kind of inverts the plot of my earlier pick Arrival, in that instead of aliens coming to Earth, here we've got earthlings going to Mars. The fundamental problem to be solved is different, too - it's not how to communicate, it's how to survive. Matt Damon (Mark Watney the botanist...a seemingly unlikely crew specialty for a Mars mission, admittedly) is stranded on the red planet after being separated from his crew in a dust storm, and left behind. In order to survive, he's got to "science the (heck) out of this". And that's your movie. Well, of course, we've also got earth-based scientists from NASA and JPL and China and Watney's former crew on their return mission home also sciencing the heck out of this to figure out how to get him back.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film - it's another rare one that I went back to see in the theater again. I was quite excited for it, as I was a fan of the novel it was based on, and I was ecstatic that the super-geeky, science-based approach of the book was adapted about as faithfully as possible for the big screen. On top of that the film does a great job of portraying Watney's solitude, and it hits all the emotional beats perfectly. And, for a sci-fi film, it gets the majority of the science right. There are some flubs along the way (the most nitpicked being that the dust storm carries far too much force) but Ridley Scott went a long way (no doubt with much credit due to author Andy Weir) to make sure that this film - which is ostensibly set in nearly-modern-day reality, not in the distant future or a galaxy far, far away - follows the rules as we know them.

Luckily, in the history of humanity, nothing bad has ever happened from lighting hydrogen on fire.
Wonderful movie, gorgeously shot, and the best of Ridley Scott's latter day filmography (even though I go to f***ing bat for his most recent ventures into the Alien universe). What I love most about The Martian is that there are no villains; it's a movie about smart people solving difficult problems, and the only real enemy is Time.

And while this one wasn't on my personal list, I have to say that M is proving to be the most difficult letter for me to narrow down my options! S is a big challenge, as well, but M has been a brutal lesson in killing favorites. Anybody else with the same problem for a particular letter, where it feels paralyzing to pick just one film to fill that need?
 

Capt. Factorial

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Staff member
Wonderful movie, gorgeously shot, and the best of Ridley Scott's latter day filmography (even though I go to f***ing bat for his most recent ventures into the Alien universe). What I love most about The Martian is that there are no villains; it's a movie about smart people solving difficult problems, and the only real enemy is Time.

And while this one wasn't on my personal list, I have to say that M is proving to be the most difficult letter for me to narrow down my options! S is a big challenge, as well, but M has been a brutal lesson in killing favorites. Anybody else with the same problem for a particular letter, where it feels paralyzing to pick just one film to fill that need?
M was actually relatively difficult for me. I had another 6 live movies that I would have been perfectly happy with (several completely and totally safe in my estimation), and my gameplan had me passing on The Martian, not because I didn't want it, but because I thought it would be taken before I could "afford" it. But with the way the draft went, I lost a few more high-priority films than I guessed I would and The Martian didn't go top-4 rounds like I also guessed, so that problem kind of resolved itself. S would also have been a huge challenge to narrow down had Star Wars not been available for my first pick.

I have a couple more challenges coming up, but I'll demur on which letters those are for now...;)
 
... [inaudible whispers] ...


L is for ...



Lost in Translation (2003)

I consider this something of a companion piece to my previous pick, Eternal Sunshine, in that two equally powerful opposites create a complete if fuzzy picture of a morose, tantalizing, and desperate sense of longing.

Whereas one marks the end of a tumultuous relationship and the promise of a new beginning, the other is the hollow, but viscerally sincere start of a relationship that will never be. While one showcases profound loss through the ill-conceived erasure of pain, the other dwells on that very pain through exasperatingly palpable absence. They both attempt to define the frustratingly indescribable melancholy that haunts the complexity of human disconnection, but from different ends of the spectrum.

And from a film-making standpoint, while I believe Eternal Sunshine succeeds in spite of its director, there is no person to have ever existed who could have made Lost in Translation besides Sophia Coppola.

The film is semi-autobiographical, and while its themes are fairly universal, only Coppola could have crafted these specific experiences, that are explicitly and uniquely hers, into a coherent narrative, and had the skills, means, and connections to put her vision to film.

I don't mean that at all as a dig if it comes across as such. Coppola brought an important, and frankly under-represented voice to both a major motion picture and a notoriously elusive subject. She used personal experiences that beautifully and quite possibly perfectly explore those themes - experiences which could have only come from her. Example: My wife and I couldn't even afford drinks at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where Coppola and her on-screen counterpart Charlotte spent quite a bit of time taking pictures of their feet.

Coppola's affluence awarded her the time and ability to be self-reflective in a situation most people would never experience, which also gave her a bit of a bird's-eye-view on something most people feel, but can't quite identify. She then used a combination of talent and industry-insider connections to make this thing happen.

Case-in-point: she wrote the role of Bob Harris specifically (and exclusively) with Bill Murray in mind. The famously reclusive and impossible to reach Bill Murray. The guy who only takes pitches via answering machine and calls prospective jobs back IF he feels like it. Because Coppola is Hollywood royalty, she had the means and support to track down the only guy who could have embodied her vision for the part. And yes, Murray of course nails it evoking his post-Wes Anderson restrained panache and affable sardonicism.

Scarlett Johansson though ... I mean, damn. I think due to her prominent role in the Marvel universe, and current status as an action star, sex symbol, and Hollywood's highest paid actress, we (or more accurately, I) forget she started as an indie film darling with a poise and sophistication way beyond her years. She was only 17 when she earned the role of Charlotte without an audition. 20-somethings playing teenagers is a standard practice in film, but how often do you hear it working the other way around? And yet, she plays opposite the legendary Murray like the seasoned vet (which, you know, even at 17, she was). Johansson and Murray's chemistry makes this film. Period. Ampersand. Exclamation Point.

I've rambled on for close to 10 paragraphs now, and yet there is still a novella's worth of angles to mine on this masterpiece. Coppola's direction is assurd and daring. The cinematography is alien, haunting, isolating, and beautiful. The narrative is confidently paced. There is the slight issue of Japanese stereotypes running amok on screen, but that can be explained with Tokyo being viewed from the perspective of a pair of outsiders, nestling nicely into the theme.

And everything builds up to, again, one of my favorite non-quote quotes of all time.

inaudible whispers

Evidently, people can isolate the sound of Murray's words to figure out what Bob says to Charlotte at the end. But I've never looked them up.


... and I never will.
 

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And while this one wasn't on my personal list, I have to say that M is proving to be the most difficult letter for me to narrow down my options! S is a big challenge, as well, but M has been a brutal lesson in killing favorites. Anybody else with the same problem for a particular letter, where it feels paralyzing to pick just one film to fill that need?
B had the potential to be absolutely brutal for me, having three of my top ten favorite movies, plus at least another half dozen or so firm favorites.

S also might have been tough if I hadn’t already picked my favorites from that list in earlier drafts.
 
Yes yes yes yes yes



Yes yes yes yes yes

(Also I would like to point out that 60% of your top-5 picks were mine in the last draft. I think you're getting my vote.)
That fact had not escaped me. Seems I can never break my thievery ways.

If memory serves, our paths tend to cross fairly often in these movie drafts.
 
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With my fifth pick in the Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft, I will make use of the letter J to select:

Jaws (1975):



Director: Steven Spielberg
Dir. of Photography: Bill Butler
Writer(s): Steven Spielberg, Peter Benchley, Howard Sackler, John Milius, Carl Gottlieb
Score: John Williams
Cast: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Genre(s): Adventure, thriller, horror
Runtime: 2 hours, 4 minutes

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073195/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

I had a few other films pegged for J that would have been interesting to write about, but I feel like I have to be an opportunist at the moment. I am genuinely surprised to find this film still on the board in the fifth round, especially as we march into the heat waves of summer and feel the burning desire for time spent on beaches in far flung coastal towns.

Four other of Spielberg's films have already been selected in this draft, all of which are excellent in very distinct ways, all of which were hugely successful at the box office, and all of which reverberated throughtout Hollywood with the reach of their influence. But despite the enduring qualities of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET: The Extra Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park, there is a Spielbergian adventure that came before these and manages to reach something more primal in us with the indelible nature of its images and the seasick thrumming of its score.

Jaws is very much a film about reckoning with an unstoppable force and the wreckage it leaves behind. It's worth mentioning that the shark at the film's center shares much in common with the xenomorph of Alien and the shapeshifting creature of The Thing, movie monsters that most certainly derive some influence from Spielberg's toothy terror. All three of these baddies are elemental, incomprehensible, pure. The great white shark is itself a perfect distillation of humanity's fear and nakedness before the chaos of the natural world.

I adore Raiders of the Lost Ark as much as the next film lover, but it did not inspire widespread fear of snakes or giant boulders in the general populace upon release. That was not the film's purpose, nor should it have been. But Jaws manages to terrify to this day! Entire generations have been scarred by this movie, have become fearful of open waters, so much so that conservationists have had to work overtime to educate the public on the realities of the shark's place in the aquatic ecosystem. Even 45 years on from the film's release, misconceptions about sharks abound, and Jaws is oft-cited as a culprit.

Much has also been written about the influence of Jaws on the business of moviemaking. It was, in fact, the first real summer blockbuster. Shot on a $9 million budget, with an additional $1.8 million spent on an extensive promotional campaign (an unprecedented sum at the time), Jaws would go on to gross over $470 million worldwide. But prior to its June 20th debut in 1975 on 400 screens across the US, summer was considered a dumping ground for bad films that studios wanted to jettison for a quick buck, believing that teenagers on break from school were the only demographic interested in going to the theater at that time of the year. Autumn and winter used to be the prime real estate on the calendar for movies that were expected to make considerable money. Jaws changed everything.

After its release and the immensity of its success, summertime became the season for the release of films with the greatest box office potential. Advertising campaigns grew in size and scope. Smaller films became disadvantaged in the competition for financing. Studio heads began to wield more influence on the shaping of movies. And directors (auteurs in particular) began to lose control of the end product. Steven Spielberg had unwittingly pulled the pin from a grenade that would detonate the film industry to be remade in the spirit of "BIGGER IS BETTER!"

While Jaws has received considerable "blame" for its impact on the blockbuster movie landscape, it remains one of the most taut and perfect thrillers of any era in film history. Vapid popcorn entertainment this is not. It was also an incredible labor to bring to the screen. Spielberg was a young man with a bunch of TV movies and only a single Hollywood feature under his belt when he was being considered for the director's chair on Jaws. He was only 26 when he was eventually hired! But that inexperience turned out to be a boon to the adaptation of Peter Benchley's novel to the big screen.

Spielberg cast strong and accomplished actors in the film's central roles, having decided that it was paramount to avoid the trap of casting high-wattage superstars who might imperil the audience's perception of the characters as ordinary people. Spielberg understood that the true terror of his movie would be in the moviegoer's belief that the events unfolding on-screen could just as easily happen to them. The three principles, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw, develop a beautiful chemistry as Brody, Hooper, and Quint. Spielberg has a gift for creating a true sense of camaraderie amongst his characters, and through their interactions with each other, the audience comes to understand them, to care about them within the stakes of the events unfolding on screen.

Speaking of those events, Spielberg was perhaps too naive to recognize that the technical challenges presented by filming on the ocean with a mechanical shark might thwart his ambitions, which were lofty. He wanted his great white shark to be a major physical presence in Jaws, but it's become common knowledge that the shark's persistent malfunction resulted in the film's "less is more" approach to revealing the shark to the audience. Spielberg did not originally intend for the shark to be quite so judiciously employed in the film, but the necessity of limiting its screen time resulted in a remarkably effective approach. It's Ernest Hemingway's theory of omission at work, the belief that a story will resonate more deeply if its meaning is implicitly understood by the audience, rather than explicitly rendered in front of them. But instead of the tip of an iceberg protruding through the surface of the water, leaving the majority of it submerged, per Hemingway's analogy, it was now the tip of a shark fin, and everything it represents was left unseen by the audience, yet still deeply felt.

With clever camera trickery and the aid of John Williams' brilliantly foreboding score, Spielberg was able to suggest the shark's presence and allude to its menace, which gives Jaws a much more terrifying edge. After all, our greatest fears are typically derived from that which we cannot see. We're afraid of the dark when we're young because we are unable to sense what may be lurking nearby that our eyes cannot perceive. Likewise, we often fear open water because of our extraordinary lack of knowledge about what may be sharing space with us beneath the surface. It's difficult to know what kind of film Jaws ultimately would have been if the mechanical shark (nicknamed "Bruce" by the crew) had functioned properly. Perhaps it would not be the stone cold classic that many of us watch each and every summer without fail.

 
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Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Mia: I do believe Marsellus Wallace, my husband, your boss, told you to take ME out and do WHATEVER I WANTED. Now I wanna dance, I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good.

"P" is for:

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp_Fiction_(1994)_poster.jpg

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110912/

I missed out on it a couple years ago, but I had to get Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece crime drama this time.

IMDb says:

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster and his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.
That's like saying Die Hard is a Christmas movie about a man trying to get back together with his wife. :) With an all-star cast comprised of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, and Uma Thurman, Tarantino fuses witty dialogue, violence, excellent screenwriting, and, well, pulp fiction, into a modern crime film unlike any other we had seen at that point. The soundtrack rocks as well, with Misirlou, Jungle Boogie, Son of a Preacher Man, Bustin' Surfboards, etc., in the mix.

This movie is just awesome. But I still want to know what the heck was in the briefcase.

From wikipedia:

In February 1995, the film received seven Oscar nominations — Best Picture, Director, Actor (Travolta), Supporting Actor (Jackson), Supporting Actress (Thurman), Original Screenplay, and Film Editing. Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman were each nominated as well for the 1st Screen Actors Guild Awards, presented on February 25, but none took home the honor. At the Academy Awards ceremony the following month, Tarantino and Avary were announced as joint winners of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Vincent: And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the **** a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: Then what do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac.
Jules: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King.

Butch: Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.

Jules: I'm not giving you that money. I'm buying something from you. Wanna know what I'm buyin' Ringo?
Pumpkin: What?
Jules: Your life. I'm givin' you that money so I don't have to kill your ***. You read the Bible?
Pumpkin: Not regularly.
Jules: There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you." Now... I been sayin' that **** for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ***. You'd be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a ************ before I popped a cap in his ***. But I saw some **** this mornin' made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking: maybe it means you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here... he's the shepherd protecting my righteous *** in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. And I'd like that. But that **** ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.

Butch: You okay?
Marsellus: Naw man. I'm pretty ****** far from okay.
Butch: What now?
Marsellus: What now? Let me tell you what now. I'ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' *******, who'll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy? I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'ma get medieval on your ***.
Butch: I meant what now between me and you?
Marsellus: Oh, that what now. I tell you what now between me and you. There is no me and you. Not no more.

Mia: Vincent, do you still want to hear my Fox Force Five joke?
Vincent: Sure, but I think I'm still a little too petrified to laugh.
Mia: No, you wont laugh, 'cus it's not funny. But if you still wanna hear it, I'll tell it.
Vincent: I can't wait.
Mia: Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him... and says, Catch up.


Vincent: Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack.
 
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