The Set of 400: #383 – My Favorite Old Timey Boat Construction

Today! Because she mis-interpreted my intention entirely –

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Geraldine James, Robert Maillet

I’ve also got a thing for Sherlock Holmes movies, which I recognize is a little specific, given that I’m not a huge Holmesaphile (Sherlockaphile? Moriaritypants? What would you call them?), but as you’ll see in the days to come, there are more movies featuring some version of the Holmes character than you might expect. The hyper-stylized 2009 Guy Ritchie version and its sequel get a bit maligned, I feel, maybe because this performance of Downey’s appears to be all he’s interested in doing over the last decade. That’s a shame, as this totally works for this character (and for Tony Stark, too) and makes for a pretty great interplay with Law’s atypical take on Watson. Bring in fun action sequences, Mark Strong’s totally solid villain, McAdams great trip as Irene Adler, and I frankly don’t get the backlash to this movie. Why the hell is the third film taking so long to come, for Conan Doyle’s sake??

Also, the movie MVP, obviously – Gladstone

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The Set of 400: #384 – My Favorite Hobo Appropriation

Today! Because if they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh –

Sullivan’s Travels (1941)

Directed by Preston Sturges

Starring Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn, Porter Hall, Byron Foulger, Margaret Hayes

Preston Sturges’ masterpiece brings us to another sub-genre I’ve got a soft spot for – movies about movies. I also like plays about plays, books about writers, movies about plays, books about movies, but not necessarily movies about writing, as that doesn’t often translate well. Make sense? So get out of here with your Finding Forrester!

“Punch the keys” my ass

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The Set of 400: #385 – My Favorite Tournament of Roses

Today! Because he’s not a goodfella, he’s a badfella!

Bee Movie (2007)

Directed by Simon J. Smith, Steve Hickner

Starring Jerry Seinfeld, Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton, John Goodman, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Barry Levinson, Larry King, Ray Liotta, Sting, Oprah Winfrey, Larry Miller, Rip Torn, Michael Richards, Megan Mullally, Tom Papa, Carol Leifer, Tress MacNeille, John DiMaggio, Carl Kasell, David Herman

Are you as worried as I am that this list could devolve into late ’00s animated comedies? For the second time in three days, here we are! But for an old Seinfeld fan like me, this one had to make the list. Figure, outside of Curb Your Enthusiasm across that decade, there wasn’t much to throw us ’90s fans back into that Seinfeldian vein of yuks, and then came this to scratch that itch. Thanks, Dreamworks! Sure, the actual driving plot is kinda nothing, and the ending works hard to break the reality they’ve built up, but the premise was solid enough to facilitate a ton of Seinfeld-style jokes, and isn’t that really what we were there for in the first place? I mean, what else did we have, American Express commercials? “That was a wicked googly!” is still a great catchphrase, though. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #386 – My Favorite Harlequin Messiah

Today! Because old now is Earth and none may count her days (da dah da dah dah) –

Godspell (1973)

Directed by David Greene

Starring Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen, David Haskell, Jerry Sroka, Katie Hanley, Merrell Jackson, Joanne Jonas, Gilmer McCormick, Jeffrey Mylett, Robin Lamont

I do love me some live action musicals. We’re finally broaching one of the genres I take pretty guilty pleasure in – sure, there are some great big screen musicals, but even something like, say, the second best Jesus based musical film of the early 1970’s manages to sneak onto the list. And why not? Godspell has got a lot of pretty good songs from the legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Disney’s Pocahontas and Hunchback of Notre Dame). So what if it doesn’t make a particularly easy transition to screen? The modern, unpopulated New York City setting of 1973 is cool to look at, but it somehow tends to take the air out of the proceedings, like they’re all kids performing for their stuffed animals or something. Sure, you get to see a full blown musical number atop the just completed World Trade Center, but the visuals never quite jibe with the story. Godspell was always tricky that way – even on stage it’s a bit too improv-y, too freeform to really pack an emotional punch in the end. And it didn’t help that it arrived right after Jesus Christ Superstar, a considerably better movie, and a downright masterpiece on stage. But hey, if you’ve never seen it – and it’s not a particularly popular movie, from what I can gather – Godspell is worth checking out. Lots of talented actors and singers, lots of fun songs. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #387 – My Favorite Animated Representation of My Life Goals

Today! Because we’ve got a diem to carpe –

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

Starring Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Neil Patrick Harris, Benjamin Bratt, Al Roker, Lauren Graham, Will Forte, Laraine Newman, Ariel Winter, Neil Flynn

They had a few writing and producing credits, mostly on TV, before this, but Cloudy would kick off the big screen careers of the great Lord and Miller, responsible for a number of solid comedies in the years since as directors/producers, including 21 and 22 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, and Cloudy 2 as well as the entire run of FOX’s great The Last Man on Earth. They were also at the helm of the funniest Star Wars movie we’ll never see – Solo: A Star Wars Story – The First Two Weeks of Production, before Disney fired them, and the movie went on to be a colossal failure (I still liked Solo, but man, what might’ve been!). Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #388 – My Favorite Paper Cut Riddled Sex Scene

Today! Because it was like mainlining adrenaline –

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Shea Wiggam, Christine Ebersole, Cristin Milioti, Joanna Lumley, Ethan Suplee, Thomas Middleditch, Kenneth Choi, Katarina Cas, P.J. Byrne, Brian Sacca, Henry Zebrowski

My third favorite Scorsese/DiCaprio outing felt like a glorious return to vulgar form for Marty, following the excellent kid-centric Hugo in 2011. He never stopped making good-to-great movies, but Wolf so revels in the obscene decadence of unabashed douchebag Jordan Belfort’s life that it is more reminiscent of Goodfellas than anything Scorsese has made since. It is also by far his funniest movie, whether that was the original intention when rights were purchased or not. The excellent, epic screenplay by Sopranos/Boardwalk Empire helmer Terence Winter turns what could’ve been a harrowing, drug-fueled Wall Street knock-off into a hilarious Scarface/Bachelor Party hybrid. DiCaprio was never better, and was roundly robbed of the Oscar by co-star McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club, thus enabling him to later win for the lesser work in The Revenant (I know this the second post already where I take swipes at Revenant, which isn’t a movie I realized I didn’t care for until this month). Also, if Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie don’t win Oscars in the next decade, I’ll be surprised – put me on record saying it! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #389 – My Favorite Transparent Skiing

Today! Because I can see through my eyelids, I can see through the top of my head –

Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

Directed by John Carpenter

Starring Chevy Chase, Daryl Hannah, Sam Neill, Michael McKean, Patricia Heaton, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ellen Albertini Dow

So if, like me, your exposure to this movie was brought about by its endless cable airings in the early-to-mid ’90s and never since, I can tell you, it’s not really holding up like you’d hope. Sure, the invisible man sequences are still pretty cool, and the effects aren’t bad, given the 1992-ness of it all, but that crusher combo of a Chevy Chase who has no business playing this part and Daryl Hannah, who has her typical rough time in any significant speaking role, drop this near the bottom of this list. Continue reading

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