Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #73

Sideways (2004)

Another  delicious Alexander Payne comedy, this one a bromance between two delightfully flawed gentlemen on a wine-tasting tour before one of their number gets wed. A career resurgence for Wings' Thomas Haden Church, and a step up to stardom for unlikely leading man Paul Giamatti. Also starring Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh, as two of
 the unlucky ladies in their lives.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #74

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

Remade several times, including In the Good Old Summertime (1949), with Van Johnson and Judy Garland, and You've Got Mail (1998), starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, (also as a Broadway musical called She Loves Me, from 1963), this 1940 version is by far the best. Starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, at the absolute peak of their winsomeness, the story unfolds as a couple of coworkers who dislike each other, pursue romance on paper with mystery pen pals. Reportedly, this was director Ernst Lubitsch's personal favorite of all his films. The final scenes of the film are among the most romantic moments ever captured on celluloid.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #75

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
Following her appearance as a dangerous femme fatale in Double Indemnity, Barbara Stanwyck starred in this romantic comedy, about a woman whose domestic goddess credentials only exists on paper. When called upon to act the part for her boss, she panics, and accepts a proposal from a longtime suitor she really doesn't much care for. The whole thing takes place over the Christmas holidays (hence the title), and Stanwyck receives an able assist from an all-star supporting cast, including S.Z. SakallSydney Greenstreet, Dennis Morgan, and Reginald Gardiner. One of the most charming movies ever.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #76

Diner (1982)

To an astounding degree, did the young actors appearing in Diner go on to have major Hollywood careers, including Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, and Paul Reiser. A coming-of-age plot centered around a group of post-college friends trying to figure out what to do with their lives in 1959 Baltimore. A script packed with memorable one-liners, very memorable characters, and a solid story makes Diner one of the best movies of the 1980's.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #77

Hopscotch (1980)

A classy, romantic comedy starring two of my favorites, Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, which somehow involves the CIA and spying hijinx. Thoroughly enjoyable, in a way that most movies are not, in other words, you can laugh without guilt or remorse. Everyone involved here is a-list: directed by Ronald Neame, with a screenplay by Bryan Forbes and Brian Garfield, from Garfield's novel. The supporting cast is made up of such top-of-the-line character actors as Sam Waterston, Herbert Lom and Ned Beatty.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #78

Atlantic City (1980)

The decaying of Atlantic City here mirrors the decaying of the main character, played by Burt Lancaster, a small-time gangster, who has seen better days. Susan Sarandon plays a waitress, looking to break out. Together, they hatch a plan to better their lives.A quietly devastating film, directed by French film master, Louis Malle.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My 150 Favorite Movies - #79

Election (1999)

Alexander Payne directed this political parody on a micro scale (the plot concerns a High School Presidential campaign), and although it didn't have the ending I wanted it to have, the absurdist dialogue and delicious performances, particularly from Reese Witherspoon as an overly ambitious teenager, put this film in the must-see category. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta.