The Set of 400: #194 – My Favorite Pink Elephant

Today! Because your soul is dog shit. Every single fucking thing about you is ugly –

Bad Santa (2003)

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Starring Billy Bob Thornton (x2), Tony Cox (x2), Lauren Graham (x2), Bernie Mac (x2), John Ritter, Cloris Leachman (x2), Brett Kelly, Ajay Naidu, Alex Borstein, Billy Gardell, Bryan Callen (x2), Tom McGowan, Octavia Spencer (x3), Matt Walsh (x6)

A bit of the shimmering, yuletide luster of Bad Santa has worn off over the years, I’ll admit. While Billy Bob Thornton was always a fair bet to effectively embody a comic asshole prior to this, he made it his stock in trade for some years to come afterward, knocking the novelty off this film ever so much. Bad News Bears, School for Scoundrels, Mr. Woodcock – it would take a bit for Thornton to get back to portraying wise, snide hillbillies again. And I’ll admit – I’ve never seen Bad Santa 2. I know! The original is in the top 200, and I just never got around to the sequel. How the hell does he team back up with Marcus, after what happened in the first movie? That idea alone put me off bothering to watch it. But hey, someday. Maybe by the time you’re reading this, who knows?

Seriously, just how does this happen?

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The Set of 400: #195 – My Favorite Alexanderplatz Exposition

Today! Because we don’t have a choice –

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Starring Matt Damon (x3), Joan Allen (x3), Franka Potente, Brian Cox (x3), Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Marton Csokas, Gabriel Mann, Tom Gallop, Michelle Monaghan

Just so you’re prepared – this is my least favorite of the Bourne trilogy, and even this one cracked the 200. The most recent Damon outing – Jason Bourne, I want to say? – wasn’t eligible, and wasn’t anything special, and that random Jeremy Renner movie was fine, but the first three – man, those are exciting, highly interchangeable films.

Like the Mission: Impossibles, these all take place in random, similar looking foreign cities, which you get to see whip by out the windows of speeding cars. Bourne will get involved in some conspiratorial bullshit in a frowsy apartment or abandoned train station, but then it’s right back to running. The first movie is an all-out chase, as they are coming for Bourne hard, the third movie is when he finally manages to piece the whole puzzle together, leaving the middle chapter – which is a straight revenge film, albeit also chocked full of chases, and an ending that gives some closure, but obviously benefits from the existence of a third film. Second films are hard, you guys.

With the obvious exception of the Breakin‘ franchise

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The Set of 400: #196 – My Favorite Faceless Villain

Today! Because for a tough guy you do a lot of pansy things –

Dick Tracy (1990)

Directed by Warren Beatty

Starring Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Madonna (x2), Glenne Headly (x2), Charlie Korsmo, Dustin Hoffman (x3), Paul Sorvino (x2), Mandy Patinkin (x2), Seymour Cassel (x2), Charles Durning, William Forsythe, James Tolkan (x2), James Caan (x2), Michael J. Pollard (x3), Kathy Bates (x3), Dick Van Dyke, Ed O’Ross, R.G. Armstrong, Catherine O’Hara (x2), John Schuck (x2), Charles Fleischer (x4), Henry Silva, James Keane, Frank Campanella, Allan Garfield, Colm Meaney (x2), Bert Remsen (x2), Estelle Parsons

Look, we all wanted Dick Tracy to be the second coming of Batman in the summer of 1990, and no one more than Warren Beatty. They were using these hyper-stylized, primary color posters and design schemes, and they packed the film with movie stars from the smallest bit roles to the leads. And so what if the movie doesn’t 100% work – there is so much obvious effort in every inch of this film that you can’t help but be impressed as hell.

It’s a film exploding with color, and bullets

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The Set of 400: #197 – My Favorite Runaway Cat

Today! Because I don’t see a lot of money here –

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (x2)

Starring Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman (x3), Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham (x2), Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Stark Sands, Jeanine Serralles

I debated when starting this list whether to include a cut-off at all, but once I landed on needing space to fairly evaluate these movies against each other, I had to resolve where the line would get drawn. In retrospect, maybe four years was too little (figure, all this was compiled in the summer of 2018, so I placed the eligibility date at January 1st, 2014). Thus only four 2013 movies made this list, and we’ve already reached the last of them. And yeah, maybe 2013 wasn’t the world’s greatest year for films, but hell, 2012 has 13 movies and 2011 has 8.

But, knowing what I know about 2013, having been there and looked around quite a bit, I’m still fairly confident Inside Llewyn Davis would emerge as my favorite. I’m not saying ’13 was a bad year, it’s just not a lovable year – 12 Years a Slave, Her, Nebraska, Prisoners, The Great Gatsby, and American Hustle almost made the list – an admirable group of movies, but none fought their way on. Nope, it’s only #388 The Wolf of Wall Street, #390 Gravity, #265 Iron Man 3, and this. Thin going! Jeez, Iron Man 3 is my second favorite movie of 2013? That can’t be right.

Nonetheless!

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The Set of 400: #198 – My Favorite Plaid Light Show

Today! Because that’s the same combination I have on my luggage!

Spaceballs (1987)

Directed by Mel Brooks (x2)

Starring Bill Pullman (x2), Daphne Zuniga, John Candy (x6), Rick Moranis (x2), Mel Brooks (x2), George Wyner (x3), Dick Van Patten (x3), Joan Rivers, Michael Winslow, Jim J. Bullock (x2), Dom DeLuise (x4), John Hurt (x2), Leslie Bevis, Stephen Tobolowsky (x4), Jack Riley, Rudy De Luca, Rick Ducommun (x3)

No higher than the fourth best Mel Brooks movie (no higher, I tell you!), Spaceballs is the one that landed squarely on my generation, and functioned as a decent balm for the end of the Star Wars trilogy. I doubt that was the intention – was Young Frankenstein supposed to be the missing eleventh Mary Shelley adaptation that never was? – but when I was a kid, I was starved for more Jedis and Wookies and droids, plus I liked comedy, so Spaceballs fit nicely. Realize, I was like three and a half when Return of the Jedi came out, so I don’t remember a world before that – new Star Wars movies seemed like an impossible dream, even by the time I was eight, so what if a couple of ex-SCTVers and the governor from Blazing Saddles were in it – this was essentially another, albeit twisted, chapter.

It takes things in an arguably better direction than Attack of the Clones, anyway

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The Set of 400: #199 – My Favorite Niagara Falls Excursion

Today! Because these humans are beginning to bore me –

Superman II (1980)

Directed by Richard Lester (and Richard Donner (x3), somewhat)

Starring Christopher Reeve (x2), Margot Kidder (x2), Gene Hackman (x2), Terence Stamp (x4), Sarah Douglas (x2), Jack O’Halloran (x2), Jackie Cooper (x2), Ned Beatty (x3), Valerie Perrine (x3), Susannah York (x3), Clifton James (x2), E.G. Marshall (x2), Marc McClure (x3), John Ratzenberger (x3), Shane Rimmer, Pepper Martin

A good case for being the only solid movie starring Big Blue ever made, Superman II‘s production history is as entertaining as the movie itself – what with the crazy plan to film it concurrently with the original film in 1977 and ’78, the scrapping of this plan partway through, the firing of original film director Donner, a bunch of the actors quitting – including Hackman, requiring massive rewrites and doubling, the death of some key crew members, the lawsuits by Marlon Brando and against Christopher Reeve, and the fact that despite all this turbulence – and replacement director Lester’s decidedly different spin on the sequel – virtually everyone you talk to agrees that this movie is far superior to the original.

You know what? I’m good.

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The Set of 400: #200 – My Favorite Swiped Candlesticks

Today! Because I will take you in the end! You know I will!

Les Miserables (1935)

Directed by Richard Boleslawski

Starring Fredric March, Charles Laughton (x2), Cedric Hardwicke, Florence Eldridge, Rochelle Hudson, John Beal, Frances Drake, Jessie Ralph (x2), Ferdinand Gottschalk, Jane Kerr, John Carradine (x2)

Still the best film version of Victor Hugo’s novel (even if it lops off the final quarter of the story), 1935’s Les Miserables brings the 1,100 page novel in under two hours, and manages to cover pretty much the whole main plot. If you’re a huge fan of the book or the musical – and come on, who isn’t? – there is plenty glossed over and lost along the way, but if this story has always basically boiled down to Valjean v. Javert, this is the film version for you. Plus, no Russell Crowe singing!

Gah!

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