Category Archives: Movies

The Set of 400: #71 – My Favorite Misattributed Charlemagne

Today! Because we are on the verge of completing a quest that began almost two thousand years ago –

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x7)

Starring Harrison Ford (x5), Sean Connery (x7), John Rhys-Davies (x3), Denholm Elliott (x2), Alison Doody, Julian Glover, Michael Byrne, River Phoenix (x2), Robert Eddison, Richard Young

In putting this list together in the summer of 2018, I needed to rewatch 60 or 70 films, mainly as it had been a while since I’d seen, say, Switch and The Dream Team. I remembered liking them, but how much did I still like them? And some movies straight missed out due to this rewatching – Lost Horizon, The Secret of NIMH, and Falling Down are not what 12-year-old Joe would’ve had me believe! One thing I didn’t think I would need to rewatch was Last Crusade, as I’d seen this movie a billion times, even if it had been a few years. But I just happened to catch it on TV around this time, and was surprised to find that (as of fall 2017) one of my top 20 films struck me quite differently than expected.

Now, I’d not seen Temple of Doom in a while either, and ended up watching them back-to-back. That may have hurt Last Crusade? Not because Temple of Doom is way better – I genuinely believe it is not – but that Last Crusade feels shockingly tired when viewed immediately after the Raiders’ prequel. It’s still largely what you remember – fun action pieces and terrifically funny scenes between Indy and his dad – but there’s also a lot of lame dialogue and pointless interluding that feel unnecessarily thrown in. I liked the River Phoenix flashback opener, but it feels gimmicky. And Indy meets Hitler?! Come on, have you always been okay with that choice?

“Nuking the Fridge” became a phrase, but it clearly should’ve been “Getting Hitler’s Autograph”

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The Set of 400: #72 – My Favorite Movie Theater Inferno

Today! Because if I don’t pick up this phone right here, you may very well get all four, and if you get all four, you’ll end the war – tonight –

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x4)

Starring Brad Pitt (x3), Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz (x2), Eli Roth, Michael Fassbender (x2), Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl (x2), B.J. Novak, Mike Myers (x2), Til Schweiger, Gedeon Burkhard, Jacky Ido, Omar Doom, Denis Menochet, Julie Dreyfus, Martin Wuttke, Lea Seydoux (x3), Samuel L. Jackson (x9)

Every Tarantino movie is an event, but Inglourious Basterds was something special. It was his first full length movie in five years – skipping the whole gimmicky Grindhouse thing, which was fine. I mean, come on, you don’t count Four Rooms when jumping from Pulp Fiction to Jackie Brown, do you? Of course not! So it had been since the second part of Kill Bill in 2004 – the rare Tarantino film that didn’t make this list – and this one was coming in a summer. How weird was that? Figure, Quentin hadn’t had a film with serious awards attention since ’94, so to take this movie out of the season for statues and drop it into August – that had to be something else, right? And man, it was.

Was it ever

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The Set of 400: #73 – My Favorite Bicycle Joust

Today! Because if it were our plane, it would be crashing –

Quick Change (1990)

Directed by Bill Murray and Howard Franklin

Starring Bill Murray (x8), Geena Davis (x3), Randy Quaid (x4), Jason Robards (x3), Phil Hartman (x2), Tony Shalhoub (x3), Philip Bosco (x3), Bob Elliott, Jack Gilpin, Reg E. Cathey, Jamey Sheridan, Kurtwood Smith (x2), Kathryn Grody, Stanley Tucci (x2), Victor Argo

If there was one Bill Murray movie that could be described as criminally underseen (for quality and also pun reasons) it would be Quick Change (with the possible exception of Nothing Lasts Forever). It wasn’t a big hit in its day – marketing issues, maybe? – but did land on cable repeatedly in that sweet spot period for me in the early ’90s, thus I began a long affection for this sorta dark, sorta zany bank robbery comedy. Because it has been a minor part of my life for so long, I have a random array of stories connected to it, so bear with me for a bit.

But first, hunt up Nothing Lasts Forever – it’s bananas

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The Set of 400: #74 – My Favorite Roulette Wager on 22

Today! Because there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade –

Casablanca (1942)

Directed Michael Curtiz (x2)

Starring Humphrey Bogart (x3), Ingrid Bergman (x4), Claude Rains (x2), Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet (x2), Peter Lorre (x3), Conrad Veidt, Madeleine LeBeau, Dooley Wilson, S.Z. Sakall, Leonid Kinskey, John Qualen (x2)

Okay, okay, I can hear what you’re thinking:

“Oh, Casablanca? Like the greatest movie ever made is on this guy’s list? Oh, edgy choice, Joe. Way to go. Who’s in your top 100 favorite bands? Let me guess, The Beatles? Great work. Why the hell do I keep reading this thing?”

“What new is he gonna say about Casablanca? Oh, wait, I’ve got it – that the songs are great. That seems like the fun new spin he’ll throw on this. I mean, he put Evita on here, so clearly he focuses way too much on music. Maybe he’ll tell us what a great movie star Humphrey Bogart was. Maybe he’ll quote that whole final scene on the tarmac. Maybe he’ll just drown us in 500 words about Louie kicking that Vichy bottle. My goodness – Casablanca! What an asshole!”

Total doofus

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The Set of 400: #75 – My Favorite Bathroom Tiger

Today! Because I didn’t know they gave out rings at the Holocaust –

The Hangover (2009)

Directed by Todd Phillips (x3)

Starring Bradley Cooper (x2), Ed Helms (x4), Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham (x3), Ken Jeong (x2), Mike Tyson, Rachael Harris (x2), Sasha Barrese, Jeffrey Tambor (x2), Mike Epps, Bryan Callen (x3), Rob Riggle, Cleo King (x2), Matt Walsh (x7), Jernard Burks

So again, as mentioned somewhere earlier, I’m not saying we got married at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas because of The Hangover – that’s completely insane – however, we never looked at their wedding facilities in person, booking thanks to YouTube videos of the gardens and whatnot. This was after we made a trip to Vegas expressly to check out venues. So either this should tell you how lackluster the matrimonial facilities are at the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, and the Bellagio (among others – we looked at a load of places), or that maybe we were more influenced by the epic search for Doug than we care to admit.

Not that Doug! The other Doug!

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The Set of 400: #76 – My Favorite Subway Train Apartment

Today! Because I always knew my inside leg would lead to power –

The Bed Sitting Room (1969)

Directed by Richard Lester (x2)

Starring Ralph Richardson, Michael Hordern (x2), Frank Thornton, Rita Tushingham, Peter Cook (x3), Dudley Moore, Arthur Lowe (x2), Mona Washbourne, Spike Milligan (x3), Harry Secombe, Marty Feldman, Roy Kinnear (x2), Richard Warwick, Ronald Fraser, Jack Shepherd

This post-apocalyptic satire was strangely difficult to find for quite a while. I’m not sure if this was exclusively a stateside problem, as it is such aggressively British humor from its time, but I couldn’t locate a copy forever, and then all of a sudden The Bed Sitting Room was streaming on Netflix. I can only assume its viewership crushed everything else on the service, as when it disappeared from there it promptly turned up on DVD. I could have this all wrong – it’s not like I was searching for The Bed Sitting Room every day – but it sure seemed like this was the journey the movie took to reach my face.

And it appears to have made it to Blu Ray since then! Never mind!

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The Set of 400: #77 – My Favorite Face Plunger

Today! Because I was not myself last night/Couldn’t set things right with apologies or flowers –

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Directed by Brian De Palma (x3)

Starring William Finley, Paul Williams (x2), Jessica Harper (x2), Gerrit Graham, George Memmoli, Archie Hahn, Jeffrey Comanor, Peter Elbling

Despite being a lifelong Paul Williams fan – who lands fully three musicals in my top 100, er, 77 films – Phantom of the Paradise didn’t get onto my radar for a very long time. In fact, and in fairness, it probably shouldn’t have even been eligible for this list, as I only first saw it a few years ago, almost certainly since the release cut-off date I used for new movies. But I’m exploiting the loophole wherein that rule only applies to new movies, not when I first saw them, plus it’s my list, and who gives a shit? So welcome to the countdown, Winslow!

I have no good sense of what Phantom of the Paradise‘s place is in the world. I don’t remember ever hearing of it before I saw it – I’m pretty dismissive of De Palma films, even if this is his third appearance on this list – but the fact that this is a full blown Williams musical is more surprising it didn’t come up at some point. And I mean, it is pretty bizarro stuff. This Phantom of the Opera/Faust mash-up, updated for the ’70s, is part parody to be sure, but also part horror movie, as a lot of the goings on are played very seriously, after a point. Plus again, there are like ten songs, which don’t always perfectly fit with the plot or the film in general, as they vary from total Broadway to surf rock, and it’s kind of a low budget affair. So I get the feeling this movie is way off in the cult realm, if anywhere.

The aforementioned face plunger

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