2020 Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft - BONUS ROUNDS

Taking a project from a director whose style is so specific it's practically its own genre.

... that's right, I'm not above stealing a quote from Honest Trailers.

G is for ...



The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

I'm not a particularly big Wes Anderson fan. I've seen six of his nine current full length releases, and Grand Budapest has been the only one I've truly loved.

And when I say "loved" I mean I paused the film twice because I was laughing too hard to let it play without missing something.

Grand Budapest is a modern, adult-minded fairy tale, with just the right amount of exquisite vulgarity to keep you from slipping into a saccharin-induced slumber. All the Anderson hallmarks are here: undefined but comforting nostalgic charm and whimsy, pastel color pallet, unapologeticly wry wit and dialogue, a sweet and somber melancholy throughout, Bill Murray (briefly). So why does this one stand out to me?

I honestly couldn't tell you. I suppose I've always enjoyed the concept of a Wes Anderson film; this was merely the first time it hit all those notes I'd been expecting to hear in my head. The dynamics between M. Gustav and Zero are pitch perfect, all of the other role-playing characters, an absolute all-star ensemble, carry their parts well (although, I would have loved for Ronan to have been given more to do), and the art direction is super stellar, even while completely fitting within the Wes Anderson "genre" trope.

I love the inception-level triple flashback set-up just to get to the actual narrative. I love that the Grand Budapest is shown in a dilapidated state just long enough for you to wish you could see it in its glory days, right before Anderson goes there. Most of all, I love how solidly it made me laugh.

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To fill my “E” column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:



Ex Machina (2014)

Written and directed by Alex Garland

Starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Trailer

A smart young coder at the world's biggest search engine is selected for a one-week vacation at the company founder's remote estate - but when he gets there, he learns that the real purpose of his visit is to participate in a Turing Test of sorts on the founder's newly constructed, human-shaped AI.

Outside of a couple of small roles, there are really only three actors in this film - Isaac as the founder, Gleeson as the coder/tester, and Vikander as Ava, the AI. Obviously it wasn't written as such, but outside of a few stunning nature visuals, this could be put on as a stage play with almost no rework to the script. Despite what the poster looks like, this is not remotely an action film. This is a deep-thinking Sci-Fi film that is probably the best treatment of the question "What does it mean to be human?" since...well...the only thing that comes to mind is Star Trek TNG's "Measure of a Man" episode. But I'll welcome other suggestions on that. Either way, if you haven't gotten around to seeing this film, fix that!

Try me. I'm hot on high-level abstraction.
Nice! One of my favorite films of the last several years! I took this one in the last draft, too. Looks like Capt.'s makin' a play for my vote. ;)

In all seriousness, I absolutely adore this film. It's damn near perfect in execution. I can think of few directorial debuts from the last twenty years that have impressed me more.

And I've had the same exact thought about Ex Machina's possible utility as a stage play. The script is so tight and so thoughtfully-conceived. The production design wouldn't translate fully, but its sharp minimalism could surely be replicated.

Excellent pick, my friend.
 
With my seventh pick in the Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft, I will make use of the letter D to select:

Do the Right Thing (1989):



Director: Spike Lee
Dir. of Photography: Ernest R. Dickerson
Writer: Spike Lee
Score: Bill Lee
Cast: Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, John Turturro, Bill Nunn
Genre(s): Comedy, drama
Runtime: 2 hours

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097216/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' looks at life in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn, New York on a hot summer Sunday. As he does everyday, Sal Fragione (Danny Aiello) opens the pizza parlor he's owned for 25 years. In that time, the neighborhood has changed considerably and is now composed primarily of African Americans and Hispanics. Sal's son Pino (John Turturro) hates it there and would like nothing better than to relocate the eatery to their own neighborhood. For Sal however, the restaurant is important and he sees it as a part of the community. What begins as a simple complaint by one of his customers, Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito)–who wonders why he has only pictures of famous Italian Americans on the wall when most of his customers are black–eventually disintegrates into violence as frustration seemingly brings out the worst in everyone.

In light of the present moment, I am picking a landmark film whose message continues to reverberate throughout American culture. It should be noted that I am not using this selection as an opportunity to smuggle my own personal views about the events currently unfolding on the streets of America into our Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft. Yet here we are, more than thirty years after the release of Do the Right Thing, and racial tensions in this country remain at a boiling point.

I'm a writer. I genuinely enjoy writing about film. There is much that I might say about this Spike Lee masterpiece. But for the first time in this draft, I feel the need to surrender this space to those with greater authority on the subject matter than myself. It is a tiny gesture. It amounts to nothing at all in the larger discourse about the value of black voices in cultural spaces typically dominated by white people. Regardless, here are what three black voices have to say about this incredibly important film, including the director himself.

____________________________________________________

Tambay Obenson (Culture writer, IndieWire):

'Do the Right Thing' doesn’t provide answers to the problems it exposes. Instead, the film reflects back to its audience their own perspectives on prejudice and compliance. The film was made as the result of provocations, and so it in turn provokes. It reacts to white supremacy and paternalism with a justified rage, drawing attention to systemically racist institutions and the injustices they produce; injustices that still exist today.

Events that followed its release 30 years ago only underscore the profundity of the film’s commentary, from the tragic stories of the Central Park Five and Rodney King to the more recent death of Eric Garner. The latter resembled the scene from 'Do the Right Thing' in which Radio Raheem is choked to death by police. The arguments Lee makes in the film continue to have relevance, and that relevance in the era of Black Lives Matter is not only a tribute to the original work but also a testament to the resolve of the prejudiced system that the film contends with. It's quite damning that so little seems to have changed in three decades.

Credit is most certainly due to striking cinematography by Ernest Dickerson, colorful production design by Wynn Thomas, and complementary costume design by Ruth E. Carter. The score was composed by Lee’s father, jazz musician Bill Lee. Among its less touted accomplishments were the many young actors that the film gave early opportunities to. For Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez, it was their first film. For the late Bill Nunn, who died in 2016, it was his second, and his pivotal role as Radio Raheem will likely forever be the character that he's most remembered for. Others, like Samuel L. Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito, and John Turturro, went on to have long and illustrious careers. Several of these same actors would work with Lee again.

But despite all its technical accomplishments and socio-political resonance, 'Do the Right Thing' was mostly ignored by the Academy. Though Lee was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Danny Aiello was nominated for Best Actor, it won neither category. In a detail that remains a tragedy for Lee, the film wasn't nominated for Best Picture. The category was won by maybe the most lambasted race reconciliation movie of all, [redacted]. In 2015, Lee was awarded an honorary Academy Award and he would finally win his first Oscar in 2019, picking up Best Adapted Screenplay for [redacted].

Just 32 years old at the time and with two feature films on his resume, Lee announced himself as a filmmaker unafraid to hit a raw nerve with 'Do the Right Thing.' With a library of many similarly confrontational films that would follow, he has cemented his legacy as one of the boldest and most provocative filmmakers of our time. And it’s quite possible that even if he never made another film after 'Do the Right Thing,' its enduring relevance and power would’ve secured him a spot in cinema history.

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/06/do-the-right-thing-spike-lee-30-anniversary-1202154208/

____________________________________________________

Steve McQueen (British filmmaker):

The first time I saw 'Do the Right Thing,' when it was over, I didn’t speak for a while. I was just trying to take it all in. It was a knockout – almost like being in a boxing ring. Sometimes it was brutal, and sometimes beautiful; an attack, done with style, anger and compassion. In terms of giving a snapshot of a New York community, the only thing that comes close are those films from the 30s and 40s like [redacted].

It brings back great memories, but also painful ones, and that combination is so powerful. Great art has a resonance in the past, present and future, and 'Do the Right Thing' is just that. When it came out, the echoes with the UK political situation were loud and clear. In England, there was police brutality and unemployment, and it resonated with me in a direct way. I love the bit when John Savage’s character–the white guy wearing the Larry Bird jersey, carrying his bicycle–steps on the new Air Jordans that Buggin Out is wearing, and this sparks a heated conversation about gentrification. It reminds me of what England was like at the time, and it also illustrated the importance of trainers back then!

There are many iconic moments: the to-camera "love and hate" speech by Radio Raheem stands out, as does the conversation between pizza-shop owner Sal and his racist son Pino, who says he feels sick of being in the neighbourhood. Through the window of the pizzeria you can see the autistic character Smiley milling around, and the way Lee builds up the tension is amazing; it’s ingrained in my mind.

But my most powerful memory is right at the start: you see the Universal logo–the image of the world turning–and there’s this lazy saxophone melody over it ["Lift Every Voice and Sing," the so-called Negro National Anthem]; it’s as though Universal’s logo becomes part of the fabric of the piece, and it feels like the setting for an old fable that’s been told and retold. There’s the 40 Acres and a Mule [Lee's production company] symbol, and then we go into the stunning credit sequence with Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy’s "Fight the Power." It’s just beautiful. I was knocked out before the film even started.

https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/features/remembering-do-the-right-thing-spike-lee-seven-filmmakers-steve-mcqueen-penny-woolcock

____________________________________________________

Spike Lee (American filmmaker):

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

Do the Right Thing (1989):



Director: Spike Lee
Dir. of Photography: Ernest R. Dickerson
Writer: Spike Lee
Score: Bill Lee
Cast: Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, John Turturro, Bill Nunn
Genre(s): Comedy, drama
Runtime: 2 hours

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097216/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing' looks at life in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district of Brooklyn, New York on a hot summer Sunday. As he does everyday, Sal Fragione (Danny Aiello) opens the pizza parlor he's owned for 25 years. In that time, the neighborhood has changed considerably and is now composed primarily of African Americans and Hispanics. Sal's son Pino (John Turturro) hates it there and would like nothing better than to relocate the eatery to their own neighborhood. For Sal however, the restaurant is important and he sees it as a part of the community. What begins as a simple complaint by one of his customers, Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito)–who wonders why he has only pictures of famous Italian Americans on the wall when most of his customers are black–eventually disintegrates into violence as frustration seemingly brings out the worst in everyone.

In light of the present moment, I am picking a landmark film whose message continues to reverberate throughout American culture. It should be noted that I am not using this selection as an opportunity to smuggle my own personal views about the events currently unfolding on the streets of America into our Shelter in Place Alphabet Movie Draft. Yet here we are, more than thirty years after the release of Do the Right Thing, and racial tensions in this country remain at a boiling point.

I'm a writer. I genuinely enjoy writing about film. There is much that I might say about this Spike Lee masterpiece. But for the first time in this draft, I feel the need to surrender this space to those with greater authority on the subject matter than myself. It is a tiny gesture. It amounts to nothing at all in the larger discourse about the value of black voices in cultural spaces typically dominated by white people. Regardless, here are what three black voices have to say about this incredibly important film, including the director himself.

____________________________________________________

Tambay Obenson (Culture writer, IndieWire):

'Do the Right Thing' doesn’t provide answers to the problems it exposes. Instead, the film reflects back to its audience their own perspectives on prejudice and compliance. The film was made as the result of provocations, and so it in turn provokes. It reacts to white supremacy and paternalism with a justified rage, drawing attention to systemically racist institutions and the injustices they produce; injustices that still exist today.

Events that followed its release 30 years ago only underscore the profundity of the film’s commentary, from the tragic stories of the Central Park Five and Rodney King to the more recent death of Eric Garner. The latter resembled the scene from 'Do the Right Thing' in which Radio Raheem is choked to death by police. The arguments Lee makes in the film continue to have relevance, and that relevance in the era of Black Lives Matter is not only a tribute to the original work but also a testament to the resolve of the prejudiced system that the film contends with. It's quite damning that so little seems to have changed in three decades.

Credit is most certainly due to striking cinematography by Ernest Dickerson, colorful production design by Wynn Thomas, and complementary costume design by Ruth E. Carter. The score was composed by Lee’s father, jazz musician Bill Lee. Among its less touted accomplishments were the many young actors that the film gave early opportunities to. For Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez, it was their first film. For the late Bill Nunn, who died in 2016, it was his second, and his pivotal role as Radio Raheem will likely forever be the character that he's most remembered for. Others, like Samuel L. Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito, and John Turturro, went on to have long and illustrious careers. Several of these same actors would work with Lee again.

But despite all its technical accomplishments and socio-political resonance, 'Do the Right Thing' was mostly ignored by the Academy. Though Lee was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Danny Aiello was nominated for Best Actor, it won neither category. In a detail that remains a tragedy for Lee, the film wasn't nominated for Best Picture. The category was won by maybe the most lambasted race reconciliation movie of all, [redacted]. In 2015, Lee was awarded an honorary Academy Award and he would finally win his first Oscar in 2019, picking up Best Adapted Screenplay for [redacted].

Just 32 years old at the time and with two feature films on his resume, Lee announced himself as a filmmaker unafraid to hit a raw nerve with 'Do the Right Thing.' With a library of many similarly confrontational films that would follow, he has cemented his legacy as one of the boldest and most provocative filmmakers of our time. And it’s quite possible that even if he never made another film after 'Do the Right Thing,' its enduring relevance and power would’ve secured him a spot in cinema history.

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/06/do-the-right-thing-spike-lee-30-anniversary-1202154208/

____________________________________________________

Steve McQueen (British filmmaker):

The first time I saw 'Do the Right Thing,' when it was over, I didn’t speak for a while. I was just trying to take it all in. It was a knockout – almost like being in a boxing ring. Sometimes it was brutal, and sometimes beautiful; an attack, done with style, anger and compassion. In terms of giving a snapshot of a New York community, the only thing that comes close are those films from the 30s and 40s like [redacted].

It brings back great memories, but also painful ones, and that combination is so powerful. Great art has a resonance in the past, present and future, and 'Do the Right Thing' is just that. When it came out, the echoes with the UK political situation were loud and clear. In England, there was police brutality and unemployment, and it resonated with me in a direct way. I love the bit when John Savage’s character–the white guy wearing the Larry Bird jersey, carrying his bicycle–steps on the new Air Jordans that Buggin Out is wearing, and this sparks a heated conversation about gentrification. It reminds me of what England was like at the time, and it also illustrated the importance of trainers back then!

There are many iconic moments: the to-camera "love and hate" speech by Radio Raheem stands out, as does the conversation between pizza-shop owner Sal and his racist son Pino, who says he feels sick of being in the neighbourhood. Through the window of the pizzeria you can see the autistic character Smiley milling around, and the way Lee builds up the tension is amazing; it’s ingrained in my mind.

But my most powerful memory is right at the start: you see the Universal logo–the image of the world turning–and there’s this lazy saxophone melody over it ["Lift Every Voice and Sing," the so-called Negro National Anthem]; it’s as though Universal’s logo becomes part of the fabric of the piece, and it feels like the setting for an old fable that’s been told and retold. There’s the 40 Acres and a Mule [Lee's production company] symbol, and then we go into the stunning credit sequence with Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy’s "Fight the Power." It’s just beautiful. I was knocked out before the film even started.

https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/features/remembering-do-the-right-thing-spike-lee-seven-filmmakers-steve-mcqueen-penny-woolcock

____________________________________________________

Spike Lee (American filmmaker):

Spike Lee spoke at Cal Poly the day after handing the first foreign film best picture Oscar to Bong Joon-ho for Parasite. It was a thrilling experience to be in the audience for that specifically historical snapshot of time.

Lee’s take on the entire narrative of Do the Right Thing revolving around the simple and primal dynamic of a Brooklyn heatwave slowly turning up in intensity, mirroring the rise of revolution, and bringing to surface raw and suppressed pain, divides, thoughts, and emotions was especially poignant.

Do the Right Thing had been in my periphery interest for a while before then, but shot up to the top of my Must See list after that.

I really owe it to myself to get on that, and stat. Seeing it is the right thing.
 
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Spike Lee spoke at Cal Poly the day after handing the first foreign film best picture Oscar to Bong Joon-ho for Parasite. It was a thrilling experience to be in the audience for that specifically historical snapshot of time.

Lee’s take on the entire narrative of Do the Right Thing revolving around the simple and primal dynamic of a Brooklyn heatwave slowly turning up in intensity, mirroring the rise of revolution, and bringing to surface raw and suppressed pain, divides, thoughts, and emotions was especially poignant.

Do the Right Thing had been in my periphery interest for a while before then, but shot up to the top of my Must See list after that.

Seeing it is the right thing.
Oh dip! I would have loved to have been in the audience for that. I'm such a sucker for listening to masters discuss the creative process, and Spike Lee is a great ambassador for the art of filmmaking.
 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Do the Right Thing had been in my periphery interest for a while before then, but shot up to the top of my Must See list after that.

I really owe it to myself to get on that, and stat. Seeing it is the right thing.
Having never seen it before, I'm going to add it to the list to watch as well.
 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Steve Rogers: Even when I had nothing, I had Bucky.

"C" is for:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier.jpg

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1843866/

I'm sure everyone knows I'm a big fan of the Marvel movies. In general, they have fantastic casting, great character development, and overarching as well as lesser plot lines that keep you interested. Unlike DC, they also do a pretty good job of keeping the MCU pretty intact with film continuity.

I knew at the beginning of this draft I wanted at least one Marvel flick on the island, but wasn't sure which one. One of the few comics I ever had as a kid was a Captain America one with Red Skull. I really enjoyed that comic and I was also glad to see such a good series of Captain America movies come out of the MCU. While movies like Avengers: Endgame are cool because of all the characters and plot points coming together, they can at times feel overstuffed. I wanted something tighter and an excellent story mixed in. As such, this one will scratch that itch. The film is Marvel through and through, but it is also an espionage/political thriller throwback to the 70's. Having Black Widow in it as well doesn't hurt at all. Oh yeah, and those Nick Fury, Falcon, and Peggy Carter characters aren't bad either. And that isn't even getting to the Winter Soldier, so is perfectly cast as well.

For those that don't know, the Winter Soldier is Steve Roger's oldest and best friend, Bucky Barnes, who he thought died on a mission during WWII. He was actually captured by the Russians and brainwashed into being the Winter Soldier, an assassin that also has super strength due to a serum similar to Captain America, but also has a metal arm to replace one he lost.

From wikipedia:

The film was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo from a screenplay by the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America alongside Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, and Samuel L. Jackson. In the film, Captain America joins forces with Black Widow and Falcon to uncover a conspiracy within the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. while facing a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier.
(T)he writers settled on the conspiracy genre for the screenplay, and cited Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, and Marathon Man as influences, feeling it better conveyed Captain America's trust issues and contrasting values in the new world he was living in, with Markus saying, "If you put that 1940s man into present day geo-politics everything is going to seem like a conspiracy. It's just going to seem dirty and underhanded and shifty, and people won't be telling the truth."
The writers felt this approach was similar to how Stan Lee reinvented Captain America in the 1960s and 1970s, with "the Captain dealing with all sorts of the same things that the country [was] dealing with–Vietnam, Watergate and all that stuff–so he gets to have opinions on that", thus making the "guy who is ostensibly from the more black and white 1940s react to this ultimately grey world that we live in."
Natasha Romanoff: Hey, fellas. Either one of you know where the Smithsonian is? I'm here to pick up a fossil.
Steve Rogers: That's hilarious.

[about to fight a squadron of black ops]
Steve Rogers: Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?

Natasha Romanoff: Where did Captain America learn to steal a car?
Steve Rogers: Nazi Germany. And we're borrowing. Get your feet off the dash.

Steve Rogers: Attention all S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, this is Steve Rogers. You've heard a lot about me over the last few days. Some of you were even ordered to hunt me down. But I think it's time to tell the truth. S.H.I.E.L.D. is not what we thought it was. It's been taken over by HYDRA. Alexander Pierce is their leader. The S.T.R.I.K.E. and Insight crew are HYDRA as well. I don't know how many more, but I know they're in the building. They could be standing right next to you. They almost have what they want. Absolute control. They shot Nick Fury. And it won't end there. If you launch those helicarriers today, HYDRA will be able to kill anyone that stands in their way. Unless we stop them. I know I'm asking a lot. But the price of freedom is high. It always has been. And it's a price I'm willing to pay. And if I'm the only one, then so be it. But I'm willing to bet I'm not.

Sam Wilson: 41st floor! 41st!
Nick Fury: It's not like they put the floor numbers on the outside of the building.

Sam Wilson: Hey, Cap, how do we know the good guys from the bad guys?
Steve Rogers: If they're shooting at you, they're bad.


Nick Fury: [at his own grave] If anyone asks for me, tell them I'm right here...
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
A - Amadeus - 1984

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From wikipedia:
Amadeus is a 1984 American period biographical drama film directed by Miloš Forman and adapted by Peter Shaffer from his 1979 stage play Amadeus. The story is set in Vienna, Austria during the latter half of the 18th century, and is a fictionalized biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, described by its writer as "fantasia on the theme of Mozart and Salieri". Mozart's music is heard extensively in the soundtrack of the film. The film follows a fictional rivalry between Mozart and Italian composer Antonio Salieri at the court of Emperor Joseph II. The film stars F. Murray Abraham as Salieri (who received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance) and Tom Hulce as Mozart (who was also nominated for the same award as Abraham).

From Imdb:

In 1984, Saul Zaentz, Peter Shaffer and Milos Forman collaborated in bringing a truly remarkable life to the silver screen. The story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, through the eyes of rival composer, Antonio Salieri. The film is complete with an insightful script (courtesy of Mr. Shaffer), magnificent acting, wondrous sets and costume designs, incredible choreography (thanks to Twyla Tharp), and, above all, the glorious music of Mozart himself.

The movie of Salieri's life, through which Mozart played an integral part, is told in flashback mode, beginning in around the year 1822. An old and perhaps emotionally disturbed Antonio Salieri attempts suicide, and in doing so, apologizes for killing Mozart some 31 years earlier. He survives and is admitted to an insane asylum, where he tells a young priest his tale of jealousy and mediocrity.

The priest is fascinated and alternately troubled by the lengthy and emotional story. Salieri tells of growing up in Italy with a father who did not care for music; and how he rejoiced for the chance to go to Vienna after his father's untimely death. He tells of how he first had met the young Mozart, and how immature and dirty minded Mozart was. He also tells of how "The Creature" had an intimate relationship with the girl that Salieri had cared for. Most importantly, however, he confided in the priest that he had learned to hate God for giving him a deep love of music, only to deny him the talent to create truly memorable music. He thought God had given him Mozart to mock him. Salieri's heart filled with such rage, such hatred and such jealousy, that he had vowed to himself to make God an enemy and to kill the young Mozart.

As the movie moves along, carrying with it a deep sadness of the human condition, it also celebrates life by giving the audience joyous music, wonderful atmosphere and a general appreciation of humanity for not only eighteenth century Europe, but in any age where music speaks for our emotions.

The movie won eight Academy Awards in March of 1985. The only reason it did not win nine was that Tom Hulce was nominated for best actor instead of best supporting actor. He actually was in a supporting role, and in a strange twist of irony, F. Murray Abraham won the best actor statuette; citing probably the only time when Salieri beat out Mozart in anything.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086879/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

I forget how much I LOVE this movie until I am reminded of it. The recent music draft brought it to mind and I'll be very happy to have it on my island, with the soundtrack playing at full blast. :)

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bajaden

Hall of Famer
To fill my “E” column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:



Ex Machina (2014)

Written and directed by Alex Garland

Starring Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac

Trailer

A smart young coder at the world's biggest search engine is selected for a one-week vacation at the company founder's remote estate - but when he gets there, he learns that the real purpose of his visit is to participate in a Turing Test of sorts on the founder's newly constructed, human-shaped AI.

Outside of a couple of small roles, there are really only three actors in this film - Isaac as the founder, Gleeson as the coder/tester, and Vikander as Ava, the AI. Obviously it wasn't written as such, but outside of a few stunning nature visuals, this could be put on as a stage play with almost no rework to the script. Despite what the poster looks like, this is not remotely an action film. This is a deep-thinking Sci-Fi film that is probably the best treatment of the question "What does it mean to be human?" since...well...the only thing that comes to mind is Star Trek TNG's "Measure of a Man" episode. But I'll welcome other suggestions on that. Either way, if you haven't gotten around to seeing this film, fix that!

Try me. I'm hot on high-level abstraction.
Watched this movie out of curiosity mostly, but it slowly sucked me in. I don't know if I would call it a great movie, but more of it falls into a class of it's own. Probably not for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
 
P = Powder (1995) - PG-13



While I do agree that the acting could be a bit less wooden, and I viciously object to the director's criminal record, I have to admit a soft spot for this film from my childhood. This film was found at a blockbuster movie aisle in my mid high school years, and I return to it when I need a reminder of my humanity. While powder is profoundly gifted, he is powerful in his empathy, grace, and gentleness. He regards all living things as deserving of dignity, and celebrated for their beauty. I think this is my favorite superhero movie because of the altruism that the hero demonstrates, and I share in his despair and frustration at a world that cannot grasp the entanglements we all share to one another. I like this version of enlightenment, and while I know it is fantasy, I strive to embody the nobility and empathy of the protagonist.

Link #1
Link #2
Link #3

Quotes
Donald Ripley: It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.
Powder: Albert Einstein.
Donald Ripley: When I look at you, I have hope that maybe one day our humanity will surpass our technology.”

Powder: I want to go home. Do you understand that? I want to go home. … I saw that I don't like what you do. Any of you. … You pretend to be my friend, the way you pretend everything. A friend doesn't lock you up. A friend doesn't take you away from your home, and say that its for your own good. How long do you really think I'll let you keep me here?

Powder: Have you ever listened to people from the inside? Listened so close you can hear their thoughts — and all their memories. Hear them think from places they don't even know they think from?

Deputy Harley Duncan: That kid, he lays his hand on the deer while it's still shaking, and then he touches me at the same time. Now, I can't figure out why — till my heart starts pounding, and I'm shaking, and I'm feeling myself hurt and scared crapless, slipping away in the goddamned dark. That's the worst thing I ever felt. Its like I could feel that animal dying. Hell, it was like I was the goddamned thing.

Powder: I've never been to school. I've read about it though.
Jessie: But, you said you read all these books? [Picking up a copy of Moby-Dick] : Have you read this book? … I know college kids who couldn't wade through this one.
Powder: Pick a page.
Jessie [looks into book]: 216.
Powder [reciting from memory] : "Where lies the final harbor, whence we unmoor no more? In what rapt ether sails the world, of which the weariest will never weary? Where is the foundling's father hidden? Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it."
Jessie: You know that whole book?
Powder: I know them all. [Jessie steps out and gazes at the cellar lined with books].

Sheriff Barnum: You telling me the kid electrocuted the old man? What, you think he's Doctor Frankenstein?
Deputy Harley Duncan: I'm just saying that that's more than albino, Doug — that is spooky.
Sheriff Barnum: I never thought we'd find a man too white for you there, Harley.

Powder: The worst day I can remember was in a hospital
.Sheriff Barnum: What day was that?
Powder: The day I was born.

Powder: When a thunderstorm comes up, I can feel it inside. When lightning comes down, I can feel it wanting to come to me. Grandma said it was God. She said the white fire was God. Do you believe in God, Sheriff? That it was God who took my mother?
Sheriff Doug Barnum: Hey — took your mother? Your grandfolks told you that?
Powder: I remember it.

Lindsey: What are people like, on the inside?
Powder: Inside most people there's a feeling of being separate — separated from everything.
Lindsey: And?
Powder: And they're not. They're part of absolutely everyone, and everything.
Lindsey: Everything? I'm part of this tree? Part of Zach barking over fences? You're telling me that I'm part of some fisherman in Italy, on some ocean I've never even heard of? There's some guy sitting on death row — I'm part of him too?
Powder: You don't believe me.
Lindsey: It's hard to believe that — all of that.
Powder: That's because you have this spot that you can't see past. My grams and gramps had it, the spot where they were taught they were disconnected from everything.
Lindsey: So that's what they'd see if they could? That they're connected?
Powder: And how beautiful they really are. And that there's no need to hide, or lie. And that it's possible to talk to someone without any lies, with no sarcasms, no deceptions, no exaggerations or any of the things that people use to confuse the truth.
Lindsey: I don't know a single person who does that.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114168/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
 
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Heyyy youuuuu guysssss!

G is for The Goonies

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Internet blurb: Original and sometimes bizarre, this is a timely reminder of what "kids' movies" can deliver in an era almost defined by superhero flicks and Disney franchise reboots.

Second blurb: If you don't like The Goonies you may be a little dead inside.
 

bajaden

Hall of Famer
Alright on to G. This was a tough one for me because there were so many to choose from. I finally narrowed it down to two movies and flipped a coin. The winner was Gone Girl. This was a dark movie staring Ben Affleck in the lead role as the teacher whose wife is suddenly missing. His wife played by Rosamund Pike, who is excellent in the movie, and whose performance warranted an academy award nomination. I also thought that Neil Patrick Harris was terrific in the few scenes he had as the tragic ex-boyfriend. This was a strange movie to watch, as it sucked you into a world where nothing was as it appeared. As one critic put it, "This is the most elegant, exquisitely made trash".

The movie was directed by David Fincher and got him his 2nd nomination. It also starred Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, and Kim Dickens.

 

Capt. Factorial

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



O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman

Trailer

I missed out on my top Coen brothers selection, but there are plenty of others to choose from, and this one is joyously rewatchable. Loosely based on the Odyssey (to the best of my knowledge, the first film selected in this draft to list Homer among the film's writers), it follows the adventures of the endearing know-it-all Ulysses "Everett" McGill as he breaks out of a chain gang in 1937 Mississippi and goes on a journey to save his marriage with two fellow convicts at his side. Sly (or in some cases, not so sly) references to Polyphemus, the Cattle of the Sun, the Sirens, and of course Odysseus ("Ulysses" in Roman mythology) and Penelope abound. Plus, it's a heck of a comedy, with great performances from Turturro, Nelson, Goodman - with Clooney really taking the cake.

Heeee's a suitor!
 

bajaden

Hall of Famer
To fill my “O” column in the alphabetical movie draft, I select:



O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman

Trailer

I missed out on my top Coen brothers selection, but there are plenty of others to choose from, and this one is joyously rewatchable. Loosely based on the Odyssey (to the best of my knowledge, the first film selected in this draft to list Homer among the film's writers), it follows the adventures of the endearing know-it-all Ulysses "Everett" McGill as he breaks out of a chain gang in 1937 Mississippi and goes on a journey to save his marriage with two fellow convicts at his side. Sly (or in some cases, not so sly) references to Polyphemus, the Cattle of the Sun, the Sirens, and of course Odysseus ("Ulysses" in Roman mythology) and Penelope abound. Plus, it's a heck of a comedy, with great performances from Turturro, Nelson, Goodman - with Clooney really taking the cake.

Heeee's a suitor!
Since I'm a big Coen brothers fan, I probably watched this movie with a bit of bias. This is a fun movie that you'll either love or hate. But one thing is for sure, you never know where it's going next. The Coen brothers are a bit of an acquired taste.
 
G = The Great Race (1965)



Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are brilliant in this Blake Edwards film about rival daredevils at the turn of the century trying to one up each other. Peter Falk, the Grandfather in the Princess Bride, gives a memorable performance as Max, Professor Fate's codependent henchman, and Natlie Wood holds her own with this star power.

The Great Race is a marvelously entertaining cartoon of a movie. Everyone is a broad character and slapstick abounds. The actors are great and the comedy is lively. If it has a fault, it's that it is a bit longer than necessary. However, it never slows down too much to make you lose interest.

Jack Lemmon steals the show as the deliciously despicable Professor Fate. Lemmon brings melodramatic greatness to what would normally be the Terry Thomas role (and I love Terry Thomas). His partner in crime is Peter Falk, as the harried, but loyal Max. Together, they make this film great.

Tony Curtis is the perfect true-blue hero, even if that becomes a bit obnoxious. He's so great that you just can't wait for Prof. Fate to get one up on him.

Natalie Wood gets a bit annoying, too, as Maggie Dubois. Her strident proclamations about equality start to get on your nerves fairly rapidly. She's not quite intrepid enough for Nellie Bly, and not quite smart enough for Gloria Steinum. She has some good comedic moments, though.

The film is episodic in nature and a bit uneven, but there are great moments throughout. Scenes to look for: The early daredevil rivalry between the Great Leslie and Prof. Fate, the saloon brawl in Borracho, the Prisoner of Zenda send-up, and the pie fight.

Hollywood doesn't make great slapstick farces like this anymore. Humor now revolves around groin injuries and stupid one-liners and catch phrases. We don't see great character pieces anymore. It's a shame as these kinds of movies hold up well; especially as family fare.
Link #1
Link #2
Link #3

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059243/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
 
It's interesting that living legend Martin Scorsese went out of his way to slag off the Marvel franchise, especially considering my next pick is roughly the point high art and low art film-making get pushed to such extremes, they wrap around the fringes and grab each other by the neck.

W is for ...



The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

I intentionally chose a minimalist poster as an ironic commentary on the film's theme of excess. Whether that theme is being condemned or celebrated seems to be in the eye of the beholder. It's another Fight Club Rorschach test I suppose. Reportedly, when the supposedly recovering addict Jordan Belfort angrily rips open his couch cushion to find a hidden stash of coke, a group of Wall Street stockbrokers at an advanced screening cheered.

Loudly.

It also broke a record for the most uses of the F word in a scripted film. So, I guess that beats not winning any Oscars.

In truth, this isn't the Scorsese project, nor even the Scorsese / DiCaprio collaboration for that matter, that is going to earn me any kudos. I wasn't especially enamored myself when I first caught this in theaters. That said, DiCaprio is of course phenomenal as he has been since 2002, Hill plays a great sidekick, McConaughey has a killer cameo, the supporting cast is wickedly zany without drawing too much attention away from the mains, and Robbie puts in a star-making performance (Never has the phase "we're not going to be friends" been so exhilarating). Still in the end, while there were some rather hilarious parts, I found overall the whole experience was just a bit ... much.

It took some reflection to realize being "just a bit much" is entirely the point. It is such an aggressive satire even its runtime is a meta critique of its own theme. During a film ostensibly about the reckless self-aggrandizing of Wall Street, the actual Jordan Belfort gets to spend a minute praising himself in a cameo introducing his movie alter-ego to a cheering crowd. Dude, that's so meta.

I think I came to appreciate that aspect more with the film's staying power in meme culture, and the ability to use its imagery effectively either played straight or ironically with equal efficacy. The scenes and individual vignettes provide powerfully memorable commentary, regardless of the message each individual viewer extracts. In short, whether it makes you cheer or cringe, you're going to feel something visceral.

I also found I enjoyed my second watch of the film far more than the first simply by being able to anticipate what was coming. Some friends threw it on in the background of a party, and I kept telling myself "oh, I love this part" over and over and over right into the end credits. With Wolf of Wall Street, it's better not to eat the whole elephant.

Moderation is king. Less is more, ironically.

Except, more is more too.






 

Attachments

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

Vertigo (1958):



Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Dir. of Photography: Robert Burks
Writer(s): Alec Coppel, Samuel Taylor
Score: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller, romance
Runtime: 2 hours, 8 minutes

IMDb Entry: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052357/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Vertigo is a film with a rather absurd plot about a detective who develops a desperate fear of heights after witnessing a colleague fall to his death. After recovering from the shock and trauma of the experience, the detective is approached one day by an old friend who confides that his wife has been possessed by the spirit of a suicidal 18th-century aristocrat. The detective is hired to follow her, becomes transfixed by her beauty, and falls in love. He then intervenes in her attempted suicide, but an attack of vertigo renders him incapable of saving the woman from death.

A year later, the depressed and guilt-ridden detective happens upon a young woman who bears a striking resemblance to the woman whose suicide he was unable to prevent. The two spark up a romance, but the detective's mania soon becomes apparent, and despite the young woman's protestations, he demands that she transform her physical appearance to match that of the woman he had failed to save. His obsessions eventually spiral out of his control.

This is bizarre stuff by most measures. Yet a script that seems preposterous on its face is elevated by a master director who chooses to zero in on the rich intersections of lust, guilt, and obsession. Hitchcock was himself a controlling presence on every film he directed, particularly towards the female actors he employed. In Kim Novak's portrayal of Madeleine/Judy, the audience encounters the quintessential "Hitchcock woman," whom were characterized by Roger Ebert as "blond... icy and remote... imprisoned in costumes that subtly combined fashion with fetishism." Novak's is a nuanced and deeply sympathetic performance as a woman doomed by the possessiveness of a man driven mad by his feverish delusions.

And in James Stewart's portrayal of Scottie, the audience is awarded a cipher for Hitchcock himself. Vertigo is a fascinating instance of a director contending not just with film as a medium, but also his own place within the context of that medium. The film reads a bit like a Rorschach test designed to examine and deconstruct the male gaze, as well as Hitchcock's own specific attempts at bridling his female performers. It's a shocking self-examination of sorts, no less for the fact that Scottie cuts a pathetic figure as a man in love with an unattainable fantasy, projecting all of his desire onto the alluring mystery of an unknowable woman.

Truth is evasive in Vertigo. It is a perpetually moving target. And as Scottie's obsession deepens, he attempts to pin it down and locate its center, choosing to exert as much control as possible over the very woman he claims to love, down to the color of her hair and the manner in which she speaks. But for all of his effort, Scottie is confronted with a puzzle that has no discernible solution. Much like how vertigo is an irreconcilable fight with gravity, Scottie is forced to reckon with the irreconcilable differences between fantasy and reality. His medical condition functions as a larger metaphor for loss of control and the dislocation and disorientation one experiences when falling in love with an idea and not a human being.

Ultimately, Vertigo is a spellbinding film, hypnotic and delirious in equal measure. It concerns itself with the hollowness of so many of our desires, the desperation in our grasp for authenticity, the hazardous contours of our own fantasies. It was a commercial and critical failure upon its release, but like so many misunderstood films in their time, its value to the artform has appreciated dramatically. Most would consider it among Hitchcock's best. I count myself among them.









 

Warhawk

The cake is a lie.
Staff member
Edna: No capes!

"I" is for:

The Incredibles (2004)

The_Incredibles.jpg

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317705/

Yes, it is an animated feature with a PG rating. But I really like this movie. Good clean family fun with a lot of action and some great humor in it. Like most of Pixar's stuff it is very well made and easy to watch over and over again. Technically, it was more challenging than anything they had ever done before (see more info below). We watched this MANY times with my son when he was very young. :) I don't get too excited about the voice actors in animated films most of the time, but Craig Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel Jackson all have major roles in this one and do them well.

From wikipedia:

The Incredibles received widespread approval from critics and audiences, winning two Academy Awards and the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature. It was the first entirely animated film to win the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
The Incredibles was everything that computer-generated animation had trouble doing. It had human characters, it had hair, it had water, it had fire, it had a massive number of sets. The creative heads were excited about the idea of the film, but once I showed story reels of exactly what I wanted, the technical teams turned white. They took one look and thought, “This will take ten years and cost $500 million. How are we possibly going to do this?”

So I said, “Give us the black sheep. I want artists who are frustrated. I want the ones who have another way of doing things that nobody’s listening to. Give us all the guys who are probably headed out the door.” A lot of them were malcontents because they saw different ways of doing things, but there was little opportunity to try them, since the established way was working very, very well.

We gave the black sheep a chance to prove their theories, and we changed the way a number of things are done here. For less money per minute than was spent on the previous film, (redacted), we did a movie that had three times the number of sets and had everything that was hard to do. All this because the heads of Pixar gave us leave to try crazy ideas.
Travers also named The Incredibles as #6 on his list of the decade's best films, writing "Of all the Pixar miracles studded through the decade, The Incredibles still delights me the most. It's not every toon that deals with midlife crisis, marital dysfunction, child neglect, impotence fears, fashion faux pas, and existential angst." The National Review Online named The Incredibles no. 2 on its list of the 25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years, saying that it "celebrates marriage, courage, responsibility, and high achievement." Entertainment Weekly named the film No. 25 on its list of the 25 greatest action films ever and no. 7 on its list of the 20 best animated movies ever. IGN ranked the film as the third favorite animated film of all time in a list published in 2010. In 2012, film critic Matt Zoller Seitz declared The Incredibles as the greatest superhero film he has ever seen: "That thing works as a James Bond spoof; a meditation on identities, secret and otherwise; a domestic comedy; a statement on exceptionalism vs. mediocrity, and the perils of the nanny state… And yet it all hangs together. No part feels perfunctory or stupid. It’s all deeply felt."
Bob: Did I do something illegal?
Gilbert Huph: [begrudgingly] No.
Bob: Are you saying we shouldn't help our customers?
Gilbert Huph: [pacing back and forth] The law requires that I answer no.
Bob: We're supposed to help people!
Gilbert Huph: We're supposed to help *our* people! Starting with our stockholders, Bob! Who's helping them out, Huh?

Mr. Incredible: No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!

Lucius: Honey?
Honey: What?
Lucius: Where's my super suit?
Honey: What?
Lucius: WHERE - IS - MY - SUPER SUIT?
Honey: I, uh, put it away!
[helicopter explodes outside]
Lucius: *Where*?
Honey: *Why* do you *need* to know?
Lucius: I need it!
[Lucius rummages through another room in his condo]
Honey: Uh-uh! Don't you think about running off doing no derring-do! We've been planning this dinner for two months!
Lucius: The public is in danger!
Honey: My evening's in danger!
Lucius: YOU TELL ME WHERE MY SUIT IS, WOMAN! We are talking about the greater good!
Honey: 'Greater good?' I am your wife! I'm the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get!

Edna: You need a new suit, that much is certain.
Bob: A new suit? Well, where the heck am I gonna get a new suit?
Edna: You can't! It's impossible! I'm far too busy, so ask me now before I can become sane.
Bob: Wait? You want to make me a suit?
Edna: You push too hard, darling! But I accept!

Helen: He put a tack on the teacher's chair. *During* class.
Dash: Nobody saw me. You could barely see it on the tape.
Bob: They caught you on tape and you still got away with it? Whoa! You must have been booking! How fast do you think you were going?
Helen: Bob, we are not encouraging this!


Underminer: Behold, the Underminer! I'm always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness! Soon, all will tremble before me!
 
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VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
S - THE SHINING - 1980

Nobody does crazy like Jack Nicholson does crazy and Stanley Kubrick really helps him bring it all out!

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from Wikipedia: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack's writing goes nowhere and Danny's visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel's dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

Review from Imdb that echoes my sentiments about this film:

When this film first came out in 1980, I remember going to see it on opening night. The sheer terror that I experienced in viewing "The Shining" was enough to make me go to bed with the lights turned ON every night for an entire summer. This movie just scared the life out of me, which is what still happens every time I rent the video for a re-watch. I have seen The Shining at least six or seven times, and I still believe it to be simultaneously and paradoxically one of the most frightening and yet funniest films I've ever seen. Frightening because of the extraordinarily effective use of long shots to create feelings of isolation, convex lens shots to enhance surrealism, and meticulously scored music to bring tension levels to virtually unbearable levels. And "funny" because of Jack Nicholson's outrageous and in many cases ad-libbed onscreen antics. It never ceases to amaze me how The Shining is actually two films in one, both a comedy AND a horror flick. Ghostly apparitions of a strikingly menacing nature haunt much of the first half of the film, which gradually evolve into ever more serious physical threats as time progresses. Be that as it may, there is surprisingly little violence given the apparent intensity, but that is little comfort for the feint of heart as much of the terror is more implied than manifest. The Shining is a truly frightening movie that works symbolically on many levels, but is basically about human shortcomings and the way they can be exploited by unconscious forces combined with weakness of will. This film scares the most just by using suggestion to turn your own imagination against you. The Shining is a brilliant cinematic masterpiece, the likes of which have never been seen before or since. Highly, highly recommended. - Paul

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/

Another Kubrick masterpiece.

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For Capt. Factorial:

 
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