Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Second

(Same rules and disclaimers apply.)

11. Tombstone
(Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer)
What "Saving Private Ryan" is to the modern American war film, "Tombstone" is to the modern American western. That is to say, it ditches a lot of the post-modern navel gazing and delivers two shotgun barrels full of awesome. The story follows Wyatt Earp, his two brothers, and his friend Doc Holliday, as they try to tame the eponymous cowtown. One of the key fight sequences in the film is the famous "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," but it goes so far beyond that, as justice turns to vengeance and blood is paid for blood. The following gives you a sense of the tension in the film:

12. Rocky IV
(Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren)
I've gone on the record at various times stating that Rocky IV is the greatest movie ever made by humans, and while that statement is silly on its face, I'm serious when I say that this film just about maxes out my "awesome meter." I love the Rocky series, warts and all, but Rocky IV provides the perfect balance of bad acting, montage awesomeness, and testosterone-fueled muscled-ness. In this film, released in the midst of the Cold War tension of the 80's, Rocky takes on Ivan Drago, the Soviet champion, in a battle that's symbolic and overblown at the same time. And the soundtrack kicks. Okay, enough chatter, here's some awesome to stick in your grill:

13. Swingers
(Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn)
I hesitated to list this one, since I don't recommend it to a lot of people. There's a lot of language and foolish behavior, but there's also a lot I enjoy about this story of best friends in LA. Mike is still pining over his ex-girlfriend, while Trent keeps trying to introduce his buddy to some "beautiful babies" to get his mind off her. The action follows these two cool cats from LA to Vegas and back, as they drink, mingle, and swing their way around the singles scene. What I love most about this movie is the ending, in which his other friend Rob (played by Ron Livingston) gives Mike some much needed advice about moving on. I know I watched that scene many times when I needed it in the past. Here's a different scene with Mike and Rob:

14. The Godfather
(Marlon Brando, Al Pacino)
Of course I'm including this one. Are you kidding me? The awesomest of all gangster movies. The Corleone family story is stark and moving and disturbing. Great quoteable lines, amazing performances. The film won the "Best Picture" Oscar, and deservedly so. If you haven't seen this one, shame on you. Here's the great opening monologue of the film:

15. Empire Records
(Rory Cochrane, Liv Tyler)
Talk about changing gears, huh? "Godfather," this is not. I'll be honest; this is a paper-thin, cliched teen comedy, and I still love it dearly. The dialogue is what makes it totally work for me. So many funny exchanges. And the music in the film is a blast. Seriously, don't expect Oscar caliber acting from anyone here (though it does include the work of a future Oscar winner!). Want a sappy romantic montage? You got it:

16. Reality Bites
(Winona Rider, Ethan Hawke)
Here you go, here's a higher class of Gen-X romantic comedy. "Reality Bites" defined a generation, in a lot of folks' minds. I don't know if that's true--probably far from it. But it gives you a perfect time capsule of what the "Hollywood version" of Gen X would be--a group of beautiful people confused and frustrated about what it means to be an adult and make your way in the world. Filmed on location in my hometown (downtown Houston, represent!), it is a sweet, funny, silly take on life post-college. Don't criticize it; just trust that it's awesome. Clip? Sure:

17. 10 Things I Hate About You
(Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger)
Another teen comedy, Dave? Yes, because certain teen comedies are awesome. Including this one, which stars the lovely and talented Stiles and the equally lovely and talented, dearly-departed Ledger. This was Heath's break-out role, I think, and it's comes complete with a great script, just the right amount of edgy humor, and some offbeat and fun characters. This updated version of "The Taming of the Shrew" includes several recognizable character actors and a great soundtrack. Here's the trailer:

18. UHF
(Weird Al Yankovic, that "Kramer" guy)
This film is bizarre, nonsensical at times, full of now-outdated pop culture references, and is perfect for late-night, goofball-movie viewing. If you try to take this movie seriously, you will probably hate it, so just don't. It's perfect for the all-night movie fests with friends, where you can let yourself giggle unashamedly at little kids being blown out of their seats by firehoses and "Conan the Librarian." If you don't like Weird Al, I pity you. If you do like him, then you'll love this. The plot follows Al as he inherits a local TV station and proceeds to make it more popular than the local network affiliate, thanks to shows like this:

19. School of Rock
(Jack friggin Black)
Awesomeness Scorecard: Jack Black being funny (check), rock music (check), kids being funny and playing rock music (check). Need I go on? Okay, FINE. JB plays Dewey Finn, a down-and-out former rock guitarist who needs rent money and, in a desperate move, impersonates his roommate and substitutes at an uptight prep school. Once there, he realizes that the musical prodigies in his care would make a kick-butt band, and decides to use them to win "Battle of the Bands" and collect the much needed cash prize. Really, that's it. The whole plot. But do you need more? Here's the clip:

20. The Philadelphia Story
(Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart)
Okay, we're classing this list up now. My top three favorite actors of classic Hollywood, in a brilliantly written stage-to-screen adaptation, possibly the greatest romantic comedy ever. Grant and Hepburn are a divorced society couple, and Stewart is the reporter sent to sneak in (with Grant's help) to do an exclusive tabloid story on Hepburn's second marriage to a society bigwig. Trouble is, Stewart ends up falling for Hepburn. Double trouble is, Grant never stopped loving her. What a great film. Here's your clip, in which a drunk Stewart leaves the pre-wedding party and wakes up Grant with some questions:

Come back tomorrow for "Part the Third" of the PBB Awesome Fifty!

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