RICHARD: You’re getting old. One day you’ll have me once too often.
HENRY: When? I’m fifty now. My God, boy, I’m the oldest man I know. I’ve got a decade on the Pope. (p 48-49)

My Top 10:

  1. The Lion in Winter
  2. Rosemary’s Baby
  3. Belle de Jour
  4. Closely Watched Trains
  5. The Odd Couple
  6. Hunger
  7. Rachel Rachel
  8. Pretty Poison
  9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  10. War and Peace

Note:  My list is 14 long this year.  My #13 (The Fixer) and #14 (Oliver) are reviewed below because of award nominations.  The other two are listed down at the bottom.  You could make the case that 2001: A Space Odyssey should be listed but the Oscars treated it as original and I do the same.  You can find plenty of places on-line that explained the complicated history of its script. (more…)

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The Tripods Trilogy:

  1. The White Mountains
  2. The City of Gold and Lead
  3. The Pool of Fire
  • Author:  John Christopher  (1922-2012)
  • Published:  1967 / 1968 / 1969
  • Publisher:  Hamish Hamilton
  • Pages:  650
  • First Line:  “Apart from the one in the church tower, there were five clocks in the village that kept reasonable time, and my father owned one of them.”
  • Last Lines:  “The air was cold but exhilarating.  A gust of wind scattered powdery snow from the face of the Jungfrau.  ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ll leave my seas and islands.'”
  • Film:  television version  (1984)
  • First Read:  1987  (as a book)

(more…)

Richard Taylor has fun with one of his Oscar winning creations.

A Century of Film
Makeup

Makeup has long been a part of film.  It was a key part of films back in the Silent Era with people like Lon Chaney doing their own makeup work.  Yet, somehow, it took until the 37th Academy Awards before they though it was worth rewarding and another 17 years before they decided it should be a permanent competitive award.  Is it a coincidence that the BAFTAs followed suit just a year later?  There is more on the various awards listed below.  But I should note that the Academy of Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (the Saturn Awards) started giving out their own Makeup Award in 1973, long before the other groups, so kudos to them even if I don’t track their awards. (more…)

For the second decade in a row, my #1 album has some awesome black and white photography from Anton Corbijn.

Introduction:  So these are my top albums of the 90’s.  Once again, these are studio albums only, so no live albums and no compilations of greatest hits, though both of those will be discussed here in this introduction.

Because I didn’t do a big massive post with all sorts of lists like in the 80’s, there are a number of subcategories that I didn’t already address.  For instance, the best debut albums of the decade, which, going down the list, would obviously be lead by Ten, followed, depending on your definition, by Little Earthquakes.  Other debut albums on this list include August and Everything After, New Miserable Experience and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  Jagged Little Pill is only the first album by Alanis Morissette released in the United States, not her actual first album and the massive success of Nevermind, Dookie, Throwing Copper and Siamese Dream often make people forget the much lesser known first albums by Nirvana, Green Day, Live and Smashing Pumpkins.  Ten is among the greatest debut albums of all-time and Little Earthquakes is up there if you count it as Tori’s first solo album but none of the others approach the list in my 80’s post. (more…)

MARTHA: And it was an accident . . . a real, goddamn accident!
(GEORGE takes from behind his back a short-barreled shotgun, and calmly aims it at the back of MARTHA’s head.)  (p 57)

My Top 10:

  1. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
  2. A Man for All Seasons
  3. Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
  4. The Professionals
  5. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
  6. Alfie
  7. Red Beard
  8. You’re a Big Boy Now
  9. The Shop on Main Street
  10. Georgy Girl

Note:  Back up to 12 films on my list this year.  One is reviewed below as a WGA nominee (Harper) and the final one is on a separate list at the bottom.
Note:  No less than five reviews in this year were lost when my computer died and three of them (Morgan, Alfie, Shop) were of sources that had been a pain to get the first time and so I have tried to write them again as best as possible from memory. (more…)

 

A Century of Film
Westerns

The Genre:

Westerns are a uniquely American art form.  It has been said that the three things America has contributed to world culture are baseball, Jazz and Westerns.  The very start of Westerns goes back to the start of narrative story-telling in American film with The Great Train Robbery perhaps the first great narrative American film.

I had written a paragraph about what I see as the basic Western (as opposed to the sub-genres listed below) but then I found this bit on page 195 of The Rough Guide to Westerns that summed it up much better than I had:

Pulp writer Frank Gruber says there are seven essential Western plots:

  1. The Union Pacific story (the railroad/stagecoach comes to town or wagon train adventures)
  2. The ranch story (conflict between ranchers or ranchers vs. others)
  3. The empire story (an epic version of the ranch story)
  4. The revenge story
  5. The cavalry and indians story
  6. The outlaw story
  7. The marshal story.

Those pretty much sums it up.  The fifth one is a specific sub-genre below and the third one really kind of fits into the “Epic” sub-genre.  But otherwise, those are pretty much the films that don’t have a sub-genre.  Ironically, most of the films starring the biggest Western stars (also listed below) aren’t in any of the sub-genres but fit those basic story types.  You can also get much more detailed by going here, though most of what is down below you will only find here which is why I wrote all this. (more…)

The best ending of the year in the best film of the year.

My Top 20:

  1. Lady Bird
  2. Dunkirk
  3. The Shape of Water
  4. The Post
  5. Coco
  6. Darkest Hour
  7. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  8. Phantom Thread
  9. I, Tonya
  10. It: Chapter One
  11. Get Out
  12. Call Me By Your Name
  13. T2 Trainspotting
  14. Beauty and the Beast
  15. Wonder Woman
  16. The Greatest Showman
  17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  18. Blade Runner 2049
  19. The Big Sick
  20. Okja

note:  The first 15 films are ****.  There are a few awards films I haven’t seen yet that are all mentioned below. (more…)