Tag Archives: Morgan Freeman

The Set of 400: #6 – My Favorite Magic Trick

Today! Because sometimes you turn to a man you don’t fully understand –

The Dark Knight (2008)

Directed by Christopher Nolan (x4)

Starring Christian Bale (x2), Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman (x5), Michael Caine (x7), Morgan Freeman (x5), Eric Roberts, Melinda McGraw, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Jai White, Tiny Lister (x3), William Fichter, Cillian Murphy (x3), David Dastmalchian, Ron Dean (x2), Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell (x2), Monique Gabriela Curnen, Keith Kupferer

If you had told me after Batman Begins that the Christopher Nolan films would eclipse the Burton ones in my personal evaluation, I would’ve said you’d gone goofy (because that’s an actual phrase I’m likely to use, rest assured). But this quickly became my prime example of the first movie in a series functioning more as a prequel than an original film. To even classify The Dark Knight as a sequel would mean to ascribe more qualities and value to Begins than it deserves. I know some people love it, and it’s fine, I guess, but only once The Dark Knight burst into existence. Otherwise, it’s just sort of sepia douchebaggery and table setting and Katie Holmes.

Meh

But the stars also aligned just right for Dark Knight in a lot of personal respects, too. As I’ve frequently mentioned, I moved to Chicago in June of 2008, and we’d just begun our first box office pool (I had Iron Man, which opened to kick off May), so movies were very much at the forefront of everything that year. It didn’t hurt that it was an extraordinarily big summer for films – what with Indiana Jones 4, the beginning of the MCU, Wall-E, Tropic Thunder, The Incredible Hulk, and the first Joker feature in nearly thirty years (plus, er, Speed Racer). But above all else – The Dark Knight is the most Chicago of movies, with virtually every outdoor scene filmed here in the big town. While they avoid showing the full skyline, or the Wrigley building, it’s so obviously Chicago as to be impossible to hide. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #13 – My Favorite Duck of Death

Today! Because we all got it comin’, kid –

Unforgiven (1992)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood (x2), Morgan Freeman (x4), Gene Hackman (x6), Richard Harris (x2), Jaimz Woolvett, Saul Rubinek (x2), Frances Fisher (x2), Anna Levine, Anthony James (x2), Rob Campbell, David Mucci, Beverley Elliott, Cherrilene Cardinal

Featuring one of the great, unsung musical scores of all time, Clint Eastwood’s last western was revered and honored in its day for virtually everything else connected to the film. I’ve never been a huge Eastwood guy – sure, some of his later movies, basically from this point forward, I enjoyed – #335 In the Line of Fire being the only other list film for him, but A Perfect World, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, American Sniper – all solid. I could never really get into his spaghetti westerns, as acclaimed as they are, and opted more for his wacky Dirty Harry films or more aged cowboy flicks like Pale Rider or The Outlaw Josey Wales. So I guess all of this led me to Unforgiven – not just my favorite western, but squarely in the conversation for my choice as the best western ever made.

The 18th and final film from one of my most formative years of movie watching, Unforgiven‘s place as that year’s Best Picture almost certainly helped it hang in my memory all these years. I had that year’s Oscars on tape, and watched it a weird amount – Billy Crystal hosted and did some typically great bits, including songs dedicated to all the top nominees, including Unforgiven to the tune of “Unforgettable,” which I still remember all the words to:

“Unforgiven – that’s what you are/
You killed everyone,’cause you’re the star/
You directed and produced with ease/
Long way from singing “I Talk to the Trees”/
Let me not be the last to say/
Tonight may make your day”

The king!

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The Set of 400: #116 – My Favorite Bottle of Suds

Today! Because I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook –

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Starring Morgan Freeman (x3), Tim Robbins (x3), Bob Gunton (x4), Clancy Brown (x2), William Sadler (x2), James Whitmore, Gil Bellows, Mark Rolston (x2), David Proval, Brian Libby

How great a year for movies was 1994? It was so great that The Shawshank Redemption – by popular acclaim the greatest movie ever made, if IMDB ratings are to be believed – is my sixth favorite movie from that year. Sixth! ’94 was so great that even though it was plenty revered in its day, there was no hint whatsoever of it actually winning Best Picture. Hell, it didn’t really win anything – only nominated for Screenplay and Actor for Freeman at the Golden Globes, it then picked up a slew of Oscar nominations, including Picture, Screenplay, Actor (Freeman again), Cinematography, Sound, Film Editing, Score – and lost every single one. It was named one of the ten best movies of the year by the National Board of Review, and did enter the National Film Registry in 2015, so that’s something, but for a movie that to a man everyone agrees is beyond words great, is basically perfect, it had the huge misfortune of being released in one of the the four or five best movie years ever. Hard luck, Shawshank!

You ain’t nuthin’, Corleones!

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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: #293 – My Favorite Human Catapult

Today! Because it’s dull, you twit! It’ll hurt more!

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Directed by Kevin Reynolds

Starring Kevin Costner (x3), Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater, Brian Blessed (x2), Sean Connery (x3), Geraldine McEwan, Micheal McShane, Michael Wincott, Nick Brimble

I’m under the assumption this movie is the reason we’re treated to new, shitty Robin Hood remakes every few years. This is the blueprint – and this is based largely in tone on the original, rollicking rich-robbing good time The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. Sure, it’s updated some, featuring a solid if unremarkable Costner performance (so, a standard Costner performance) balanced by a good Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Marian, a solid Morgan Freeman as the Moor Azeem, and a fantastic, movie-stealing villain turn by Alan Rickman. I saw Robin Hood way more times growing up than I did Die Hard, so for me, Rickman will always be the Sheriff of Nottingham first, Hans Gruber second, Severus Snape like ninth.

Never mind Rickman’s fabulous coiffure

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A Major Announcement for This Guy, and For America

Let’s face it, the nation has gone completely to hell.  This isn’t a euphemism either. I believe the explanation for the country’s ailments is that leadership bargained away our collective soul and we are now beginning the descent into the fiery abyss, replete with hot pokers aimed at the colon and demons ready to roast your tootsies on shish kebabs.  Better stock up on Bermuda shorts and capris, cause the heatwave is about to become a year round event.

 

Thankfully, this is an election year, in which new leadership will attempt to right the rickety ship of state, and bring us back to prominence in the global community.  America came in just behind Nairobi and Columbia in the popularity vote from this year’s Earth Prom in May (China won again, and we suspect voter tampering as always).  Our poor showing may be due to the fact that we brought Iraq, again, as our date, and that bitch is really holding us back on the dance floor.  And rumors persist that we’re practically married to that hag by now, and that we’re going to same college in the fall, so there really is no end in sight.

 

I have assessed the situation to the best of my political science abilities, surveyed the state of things and determined the direction best for this once great land, coming ultimately to two quick conclusions:  1) I know slightly less about international politics than I do about ice fishing and 2) I am primed and ready to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. Continue reading

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