Tag Archives: Favorite Movies Ever

The Set of 400: #335 – My Favorite JFK Assassination Guilt

Today! Because good men like you and me are destined to walk a lonely road –

In the Line of Fire (1993)

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen

Starring Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, Fred Thompson (x2), John Mahoney, Gary Cole, Tobin Bell, John Heard, Steve Railsback, Gregory Alan Williams, Jim Curley

Following on the heels of his gigantic Oscar and box office success with Unforgiven in ’92, Eastwood cemented his Hollywood comeback with this taut, terrific thriller, pitting his secret service agent against Malkovich’s taunting assassin. And really, the only thing in the way of Malkovich taking home his own Oscar was this happened to land in the same year as Tommy Lee Jones work much discussed in this space in The Fugitive (see this explanation in my extensive justification for #337’s Under Siege earlier this week). ’93 was a pretty great year for action adventures – there are nine films from the year on this list, and starting here the next five are all thrills and explosions and monsters! Up until now, it’s been Robin Hood: Men in Tights (#395), The Nightmare Before Christmas (#379), and The Sandlot (#339) though. Stay tuned from here through to the 2020 Vernal Equinox (March 20th, dummies!) to cover the next five! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #336 – My Favorite Voodoo Action Figures

Today! Because the Kraken is invulnerable. A hundred men could not fight him, an army could not kill him –

Clash of the Titans (1981)

Directed by Desmond Davis

Starring Harry Hamlin, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Jack Gwillim, Claire Bloom, Burgess Meredith (x2), Judi Bowker, Sian Phillips, Pat Roach, Susan Fleetwood, Tim Pigott-Smith, Neil McCarthy

This pile of Ray Harryhausen wonderment adorned with super high end actors was another staple of the household growing up. We even had a puzzle of the above poster that I remember being a real ballbuster to put together – there’s a lot more water in the bottom part of the picture than appears here. But as a pure adventure movie, this thing basically holds up. Sure, those stop-motion effects look a little creaky in anything nowadays, but they are still relatively seamless with the movie as a whole. And there’s a bunch of well-realized mythological creatures populating the goings on. Pegasus! Medusa! The Kraken! Dude!

When the speechifying starts, it’s not the greatest. Even Olivier and Maggie Smith, with epic godly back-lighting, have a hard time making that dialogue work, but seriously, the plot in this thing doesn’t matter. There are monsters for Harry Hamlin’s Perseus to battle, for Chrissakes! His quest is basically gather up weapons, consult some witches, try not to turn to stone, fight giant sea creatures, rescue damsels, and keep that hairdo looking tight. Fun, mindless action!

Not so much backlighting as a full on laser show!

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The Set of 400: #337 – My Favorite Navy Seal/Playboy Playmate Team Up

Today! Because they can handle twenty Marines, and a hundred cooks –

Under Siege (1992)

Directed by Andrew Davis

Starring Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones (x3), Gary Busey, Erika Eleniak, Colm Meaney, Glenn Morshower (x2), Bernie Casey, Patrick O’Neal, Raymond Cruz, Tom Wood

I promise, this is the only Steven Seagal movie on this list. Also, let’s not even look at it that way – not as the best movie Seagal ever made, or as the terrifying combo of a Seagal/Gary Busey/Erika Eleniak picture – this is the last movie Andrew Davis made before directing The Fugitive. In a very real sense, you can make a case that without Under SiegeThe Fugitive would have been a dramatically different film, and who does that benefit? Would Davis have directed it? Would Tommy Lee Jones have played that Oscar winning role? Would it have been nominated for Best Picture? Very unlikely on all counts! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #338 – My Favorite Remote Control Fight

Today! Because there is peace and serenity in the light –

Poltergeist (1982)

Directed by Tobe Hooper

Starring Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams (x2), Zelda Rubinstein, Beatrice Straight, Heather O’Rourke, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, James Karen, Dirk Blocker, Michael McManus

Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist was the rare horror film we watched a lot as children. Why? I can only guess it’s because of…the main character being a toddler? I don’t know. It’s a pretty horrifying movie for little kids, but I’m gonna ballpark that I’ve seen this movie fifty times, almost all of those on VHS in the late ’80s. And even though this came out the year before, I think as a kid I was convinced that monstrous thing that develops on the bedroom wall was the Sarlacc Pit from Return of the Jedi. So maybe that?

Any which way, it’s a pretty great movie, with just nightmarish visuals. Robbie gets attacked in his bedroom by not just an entire tree outside his window but also a killer clown doll! And that’s just Robbie! I wasn’t super focused on the details of why any of this was happening when I saw it back in the day – but thankfully Craig T. Nelson’s Steve screams it in that dude’s face toward the end of the film “You left the bodies and only moved the headstones!” Solved! Creepy! Remember that swimming pool hole filled with bodies? Carol Anne sliding across the kitchen floor? That guy peeling off his face in the bathroom mirror?? I was like seven years old! Gah! Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #339 – My Favorite Night Game Fireworks

Today! Because Bertram got really into the ’60s, and no one ever saw him again –

The Sandlot (1993)

Directed by David Mickey Evans

Starring Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Denis Leary, Karen Allen, Patrick Renna, Art LaFleur, James Earl Jones (x3), Marley Shelton, Arliss Howard, Chauncey Leopardi, Marty York, Brandon Adams, Grant Gelt

Clearly, 20th Century Fox did not know what they had on their hands with The Sandlot. I mean, jeez, look at those taglines! “They’re the best buddies in the entire history of the world”?? Even if it’s meant tongue-in-cheek, it’s not quite tongue-in-cheek enough to be clear. And the other tagline just makes this out to be a sun-dappled nostalgia fest. This is a legitimately hilarious summer vacation fantasia replete with giant monster dog things and the Great Hambino. As endlessly quotable as any kids movie ever made, The Sandlot may have initially been treated as just another disposable calendar filler by the studio, but I would go out on a limb to say it’s a borderline American classic, and one of the three or four best baseball movies ever made. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #340 – My Favorite Heckler Retaliation

Today! Because sometimes when you want something so bad, you do just about anything to get it –

The Nutty Professor (1996)

Directed by Tom Shadyac

Starring Eddie Murphy, Jada Pinkett, James Coburn, Larry Miller (x2), Dave Chappelle (x2), John Ales, Jamal Mixon

Okay, look, right off the bat, let me say that The Nutty Professor is an almost unconscionably cruel movie, across the board. I don’t know if any movie in the history of film has such diabolical focus on one topic for jokes, and is in any way watchable. The sequel doubles down on this to a ludicrous degree, so that it is barely a movie at all. And the manic barrage of jokes doesn’t exactly lessen this idea as the years wear on – it is aging horribly. It may already be past redemption. All this I will acknowledge, and my enjoyment of this movie is my shame, but I’m trying to be honest here.

But, come on, it’s pretty impressive

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The Set of 400: #341 – My Favorite Glinda the Good Witch Impression

Today! Because it’s time to rock it from the Delta to the DMZ –

Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Directed by Barry Levinson

Starring Robin Williams (x2), Forest Whitaker (x2), Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, J.T. Walsh, Noble Willingham, Richard Portnow, Juney Smith, Richard Edson, Tung Thanh Tran

Robin Williams had made movies, and some good ones, before 1987, but it all completely changed with Good Morning, Vietnam. It’s as though there was no concrete idea how to harness his stand-up/Mork and Mindy comedy into a feature film, so no one really tried. Popeye has glimmers of it, with the ad-libs, while The World According to Garp showcases Williams serious acting ability. And then everything converged into this wild war comedy, grounded very definitely in reality.

For those of us who grew up with his later comedies, Good Morning, Vietnam can tend to feel like nothing particularly special. This was the Robin we knew from virtually everything that was to follow over the next two decades. The non-sequiturs! That stream-of-consciousness pile of voices and characters! The virtually non-stop jokes! Sure, after decades, that tends to get taken for granted as his particular style, but this was the beginning of that for most cinema audiences, plus it is housed in a very real war picture, while still managing to work, for the most part.

Seriously, every Robin Williams talk show appearance was basically this

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