Tag Archives: Favorite Movies Ever

The Set of 400: #139 – My Favorite Reckoning

Today! Because I was his friend. And it will be a very long time before someone inspires us the way he did. I believed in Harvey Dent –

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Directed by Christopher Nolan (x2)

Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman (x4), Michael Caine (x5), Morgan Freeman (x2), Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Aidan Gillen, Liam Neeson (x3), Juno Temple, William Devane (x2), Cillian Murphy, Tom Conti, Alon Aboutboul, Nestor Carbonell, Thomas Lennon (x4), Joey King

I think it’s safe to say that, even with The Avengers that summer, The Dark Knight Rises was the most anticipated movie of 2012. Just go by the sheer numbers – there had never been a sequel to a movie that grossed as much as The Dark Knight at that point, so financially, expectations were all over the place. TDK had more than doubled Batman Begins at the box office, but upon Heath Ledger’s death whatever had been planned for TDKR went out the window. It was like season three of The Sopranos – everyone was excited to see where it would go, even if the original gameplan had to be scrapped on the fly. The first trailers were cool, and like TDK they premiered the opening IMAX sequences months early, before…Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol maybe? Something in the winter of 2011. And it was awesome, with all its “Tell me about Bane! Why does he where the mask?” coming from the man who would be Littlefinger.

Bad judge of the opposition!

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The Set of 400: #140 – My Favorite Missing Contact Lens

Today! Because I’ve forgotten the sardines! No, I haven’t. I haven’t forgotten the sardines. I remembered the sardines. Well, what a surprise, I guess I’ll just go into the kitchen and fix some more sardines to celebrate –

Noises Off (1992)

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich

Starring Michael Caine (x4), Carol Burnett, John Ritter (x2), Marilu Henner (x2), Christopher Reeve (x3), Nicollette Sheridan, Mark Linn-Baker, Denholm Elliott, Julie Hagerty (x2)

You want stagey? I’ll give you stagey! One of the funniest plays of all time made for a very funny, star-studded film in its own right, that doesn’t bother trying to break away from the theater at all in Noises Off. Movies about plays! Or really in this case, a movie about a play within a play, which is the perfect rabbit hole for this guy. I’m not sure how popular this movie ever became, and I know how popular modern theater is to the world at large, so it’s possible you aren’t overly familiar with Noises Off? I’m yet to see it performed on stage – the set is a massive pain in the ass – but this movie used to air on your WPIX and WWOR all the time at the sweet spot in my television viewing history – ’93, ’94, ’95 – and so exposure to Noises Off was very high.

Madcap theatering!

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The Set of 400: #141 – My Favorite One-Handed Cake Devouring

Today! Because when the ghosts have a midnight jamboree/They break it up with fiendish glee –

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Directed by James Algar (x2), Clyde Geronimi (x3), Jack Kinney

Starring Bing Crosby (x2), Basil Rathbone (x4), Eric Blore, J. Pat O’Malley (x2), Oliver Wallace

The only movie I’m guaranteed to watch every Halloween (which is kinda awkward, as The Wind in the Willows isn’t scary in the least), The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, I’ll admit, is not the way I’ve always seen it. Growing up, I had no idea it existed in this combo fashion, only having a copy of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow portion recorded off TV, I want to say. And that is primarily why this movie made the list still – but that’s not necessarily to shortchange the opening half of the film.

Ah, that classic tale of a playboy amphibian

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The Set of 400: #142 – My Favorite Warsaw Shakespeare

Today! Because I’ll decide with whom my wife is going to have dinner and whom she’s going to kill –

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch

Starring Jack Benny, Carole Lombard (x4), Robert Stack (x2), Lionel Atwill (x2), Sig Ruman (x4), Felix Bressart, Stanley Ridges, Tom Dugan, Halliwell Hobbes (x2), Miles Mander (x2), Charles Halton

Filmed just prior to America’s entry into WWII, To Be or Not to Be stands as one of the rare comedies of the era tackling the Nazi menace. Once the war began, the whole filmic enterprise took on a justifiably somber tone in regards to the conflict, and so comedies are few and far between. Chaplin’s The Great Dictator had been met with some audience hostility in 1940, so uncomfortable did German aggression make viewers, and so To Be or Not to Be was far from an easy sell when conceived, despite the tremendous script and no less a filmmaker than Ernst Lubitsch at the helm.

By the time the movie would premiere in March of ’42, America was squarely in the war and the film’s star Carole Lombard was dead – a January plane crash after a domestic trip selling war bonds killing her, her mother, and 15 U.S. soldiers. Indeed, Lombard is often referred to as the first female casualty of the war, given the reasons for her travels at the time. So this, coupled with the film’s obvious brilliance, changed the attitude of audiences to one more receptive and supportive of aggressively anti-Nazi pictures.  Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #143 – My Favorite Pseudo-Goldschlager Endorsement

Today! Because they literally stopped me from eating foods that were shaped like dicks…You know how many foods are shaped like dicks? The best kinds –

Superbad (2007)

Directed by Greg Mottola

Starring Michael Cera, Jonah Hill (x5), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (x3), Seth Rogen (x2), Bill Hader (x2), Emma Stone, Martha MacIsaac, Joe Lo Truglio (x4), Dave Franco, Kevin Corrigan, Carla Gallo, David Krumholtz (x2), Aviva Baumann

There is a lot more going on in this movie than I think people remember. Quick – what was Superbad about? Is this a film that is lingering in the memory as the years go by? Was this a sort of hyper-vulgar teen comedy flash-in-the-pan that really served as a big-screen jumping off point for a bunch of actors, but in itself doesn’t really capture the imagination? The real question I guess is – do you remember anything about this movie beyond McLovin?

“How old are you?”
“Old enough.”

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The Set of 400: #144 – My Favorite Surprise Poultry

Today! Because guilt is petit-bourgeois crap. An artist creates his own moral universe –

Bullets Over Broadway (1994)

Directed by Woody Allen (x7)

Starring John Cusack (x3), Dianne Wiest (x3), Chazz Palminteri (x2), Jennifer Tilly (x2), Mary-Louise Parker (x2), Rob Reiner (x2), Tracey Ullman (x2), Jim Broadbent (x3), Jack Warden (x2), Joe Viterelli, Harvey Fierstein (x2), Edie Falco, Debi Mazar, Tony Sirico, John Ventimiglia, Tony Darrow

If you were to take the entire Set of 400 up to this point, feed it into a computer, and have that parse out all the elements that might make up the perfect film geared toward this guy, it may well spit out Bullets Over Broadway. It’s the seventh Woody Allen movie on the list, it’s from a year I proclaim to love more than almost any other in cinema history: 1994, it’s a movie about a play, it’s a movie about gangsters, it’s a movie about writers, it features a ton of future Sopranos actors, it was nominated for and won a slew of awards – Bullets Over Broadway kinda has everything for me.

Ah, theater!

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The Set of 400: #145 – My Favorite Wedding Photo

Today! Because to hardly know him is to know him well –

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Directed by George Cukor

Starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant (x4), James Stewart (x3), Ruth Hussey, Roland Young, John Howard, John Halliday, Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler, Henry Daniell (x2)

The old time theater guy in me just can’t get enough of kinda stagey goofball comedies of seven and eight decades gone by, and few are more entertaining than Cukor’s acrobatically wordy The Philadelphia Story. It just manages to not feel like a play – what with the brilliant, wordless opening sequence, and shifting some action to a handful of remote locations – while also feeling as locked in as, say, 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or every adaptation of The Iceman Cometh or Long Day’s Journey Into Night ever made. Hell, Animal Crackers is little more than the filmed stage play, and even it manages to counter Philadelphia Story cinematically, for the most part.

Plus, comic spousal abuse! Hilarious!

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