Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The PBB Awesome Fifty: Part the Third

(Same song, third verse.)

21. The Thin Man Series
(William Powell, Myrna Loy)
Probably my favorite film couple has to be Nick and Nora Charles, the husband and wife detective duo in this series. While Nick gets the headlines as the bigtime detective, you know Nora's always snooping around looking for clues to help the case. What's awesome about the films is the banter between this loving couple: witty, playful, and flirty. They're a fun pair, and would be at the top of my list of fictional people to invite to a dinner party (provided they promise not to accuse anyone at the table of murder). Here's a clip from the beginning of the second film in the series, "After the Thin Man":

22. The Emperor's New Groove
(David Spade, John Goodman)
Probably one of my favorite animated movies ever, this Disney gem involves Cuzco, the selfish young emperor of a South American kingdom, who's turned into a llama by an evil sorceress (his trusted advisor, natch). He is rescued by Pascha, a peasant with a big heart, and the two figure out a way for Cuzco to reclaim his human form and his throne. Great voice acting, hilarious dialogue, colorful hand-drawn animation, and NO CHEESY SONGS. Well-played, Disney animation. Well-played.

23. Newsies
(Christian Bale, Robert Duvall)
More cheesy songs!!! "Newsies" was Disney's misfired attempt to bring back the Hollywood musical in the early 90's. If this had been made post-"Moulin Rouge," it might have had a fighting chance. No matter--this is a great little film. If you can appreciate the musical, you really need to watch this one. Great score and lyrics, passable acting, fun story. Set around the turn of the century, "Newsies" is the story of newspaper boys who go on strike when "greedy Mr. Pulitzer" wants to make more money by charging the boys more to buy the papers they sell. I'm rarely a pro-union guy, but I have to cheer for these characters. Here's one of the early songs, when the strike is declared:

24. It's a Wonderful Life
(James Stewart, Donna Reed)
This isn't a Christmas movie, folks. Get that out of your head. It's a movie that happens to be partially set around the holiday season, and because of money and copyright issues, it has been shown around the Christmas holiday for decades. But in truth, it's the story of a man who lives a good life, loving his neighbor and taking care of his family, and when faced with financial disaster questions whether this good life was really all it was cracked up to be. It takes divine intervention and a look at a world without him in it for George Bailey to realize every person makes an impact. In this scene, George's latent love for Mary comes to the forefront:

25. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
(Matthew Broderick)
Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, you should be ashamed. One of the best films of the 80's (and John Hughes' storied career), it is what it says it is: high school senior Ferris Bueller cuts school for the day, and he and his best friend and girlfriend have a blast all over Chicago as they try to evade the eye of Principal Rooney. It's fun, it's light, it doesn't ask much from you and gives you a good time. I was shocked to see that Siskel and Ebert actually panned this film. Goes to show, sometimes the critics get it wrong:

26. Lord of the Rings
(Elijah Wood, Sean Astin)
Yes, I'm counting all of them as one. It's all one story. And boy is it an amazing story. Now, if you're not a "scifi nerd" or "fantasy geek," you probably think these films have nothing to offer you. You couldn't be more wrong. These stories are tales of friendship, honor, loyalty, sacrifice, and commitment to something greater than yourself. There are epic battle sequences, as well as deeply personal, emotional moments. In short, it's just great friggin filmmaking, and you'd be foolish to turn in down because it's for "nerds." Don't be lame, dude. Expand your mind, and check it out:

27. The Big Sleep
(Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall)
Probably the greatest example of "detective noir" is "The Big Sleep." Bogie is Phillip Marlowe, a gumshoe hired by a rich family to...well I don't want to give it away. Basically, all those detective cliches that you've heard of--well, they weren't cliches when Bogie did 'em. They were character. And Sam's got character in spades. (Pun intended.) Sit down and shaddap, you mug, before I smack ya:

28. Once
(Glen Hansard, Marketa Inglova)
"If music be the food of love," then this film is its feast. A simple story of two musicians who find each other and collaborate on an album becomes something gut-wrenching and moving on-screen, as you see two souls longing to find solace within each other. The music *is* the movie, each song giving you glimpses into who these people are. Amazing, beautiful, breath-taking. Listen and feel:

29. Return to Me
(David Duchovny, Minnie Driver)
Possibly one of my favorite "romantic comedies" ever, it's the story of a widower who falls in love with a woman who has a secret that connects her to his dead wife. Unlike most films of the genre, this story isn't heavy-handed and clunky with "mistaken identities" or misunderstandings that are easily solved in the "real world" but not on film. Instead, like the Dean Martin song that shares its name, "Return to Me" is gentle, sweet, full of longing and joy. Great acting, great supporting cast (Carroll O'Connor! Robert Loggia!), highly recommended. I couldn't find an unaltered, embed-able clip, so here's the trailer.

30. So I Married An Axe Murderer
(Mike Myers, Mike Myers)
Before he destroyed all the good will he gained over the years, thanks to clunkers like "Cat in the Hat" and "The Love Guru," Myers was actually funny. (No, it's true.) And the funniest film he made, I think, was this one. He plays Charlie, a commitment-phobic bachelor (you don't say! never heard of THAT before! *eye roll*) who meets a girl that he falls for. Problem is, he starts to think she's actually the Black Widow Killer, who had six previous husbands turn up dead. Is he crazy? Is she dangerous? Grab your cup-o-cino and ease into your comfy chair, as this hilarious film answers the question. SIMAAM was also the introduction of Myers' famous Scottish accent, as he also plays Charlie's father, a bizarre Scot with a penchant for verbal abuse:

Tune in tomorrow for Part The Fourth!

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