Monthly Archives: August 2012

5. Across the Universe

Smiley Rating:

Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) is a grand experiment more than it is anything else.  The experiment?  Take a handful of existing Beatles songs and shape a story based on the lyrics of those songs.  The result is an uneven, yet entertaining musical set in America during the Vietnam War.  It includes a heavy stream of anti-war imagery as well as a mentionable psychedelic callback to Ken Kesey and Timothy Leary (think: Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test).  But really, this is a simple coming-of-age / love story wrapped in a clever concept.

That being said, the musical sequences are definitely the standout, memorable moments of Across the Universe.  And while a few of these numbers certainly fall flat and feel forced (“Dear Prudence,” “Strawberry Fields Forever”)— the majority are highly effective, including: “I Want to Hold Your Hand;” “With A Little Help From My Friends;” “Let It Be;” “Come Together;” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy);” “I Am the Walrus;” and “All You Need is Love.”  Whether all of these classic songs mesh well within the same film, I’m not sure.

Which leads me to what I believe is the greatest shortfall of Across the Universe, and that is its sprawling nature and numerous characters.  Perhaps this concept would benefit from a slightly more focused storyline with fewer characters.  Which isn’t to say that the problem is simply that there are too many characters.  The problem is some of them feel forced, as if they exist solely to bring about a particular song / plot point, which takes us out of the story, and adds length to an already long movie.  Perhaps the filmmakers are overly ambitious here, as they strive to cover what seems like all that was the counterculture during the Vietnam War era.  The consequence is a lot of passionately inspired musical sequences that don’t quite add up to a completely satisfying whole.

It makes me wonder how this experiment would have played out if given a different, more unexpected context.  For example, instead of a flowerchild, Vietnam era period piece, maybe a modern day setting would have been more prescient.  Instead of a main character from Liverpool who looks exactly like one of the Beatles, perhaps the opposite of that would have been cool.  Instead of a sprawling multi-plot structure, maybe a more intimate, smaller story about love would have been better fitting.  Of course this is all in retrospect, and let’s face it, there are A LOT of Beatles songs, and this concept could have gone in any number of directions.

In any case, I do love this concept and I am glad this movie exists.  I love that all of the characters names are based on songs (Jude, Lucy, Sadie, Maxwell, Prudence).  I love Joe Cocker’s cameo in “Come Together” and Bono’s in “I Am the Walrus.”  These sequences alone make the movie worth seeing.  The performances are strong across the line, and the music is superb throughout.  Conversely, if you’re NOT a Beatles fan, I’m not sure this movie has much to offer you (unless you’re doing research on modern musicals in film or are interested in the counterculture era during the Vietnam War).  However, if you ARE a Beatles fan, I’d suggest taking a look at this movie.  You may love it, you may not, but I can confidently say that you’ll leave this movie humming the tunes in your head.

In the end, though, when all is considered, I think I’d prefer to just sit back, put on my favorite Beatles album, and “get high with a little help from my friends.”

Advertisements

4. A Clockwork Orange

Smiley Rating:

“VIOLENCE SPEAKS VIOLENCE,” and in A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971) its voice belongs to Alex DeLarge— an articulate, manipulative, passionate, charismatic, uber-sexual, violent, sociopath— in other words, the spawn of a broken society perpetuated by a corrupt political system.  Or should I say, a violent society perpetuated by a violent political system.  Again, “violence speaks violence.”  An eye for an eye.  This circular logic lies at the heart of A Clockwork Orange, and it is most encapsulated by the notable character arc of Alex DeLarge (portrayed brilliantly by Malcolm McDowell).

And as far as violence goes, so goes the first section of the film, in which Alex DeLarge is… well… at large.  He, along with his three buddies (“droogs,” as they call themselves)— routinely and joyfully inflict horror upon the town.  The crimes inevitably grow more serious, until ultimately, Alex kills a woman with a giant penis sculpture (ouch).  This appalling murder, along with the betrayal of his so-called friends, ends the provocative first half of A Clockwork Orange, a first half that can be characterized simply as: the opposite of the Golden Rule.  That is, “do unto others that in which you would NEVER EVER do unto yourself.”  Like, kill a woman with a giant penis sculpture.

Speaking of killing women with giant penises, there are a noticeable amount of objectified representations of women in this film.  These incendiary images appear throughout, including the inert naked-woman-tables at the milk bar, as well as the tantalizing portraits of women that decorate the walls of the murder victim.  I’m not sure if these images are supposed to comment on the objectification of women or the sexual freedom of women or the oppression of women, or all at the same time.  Which raises an interesting question: What is the difference between sexism and sexuality?  In the dystopian world Kubrick creates, I’m not so sure.

Before I move on, I wanted to quickly point out an important line of dialogue, spoken by a Priest in the second act.  He says:  “When a man cannot choose, he seizes to be a man.”  In the context, he’s speaking to the morality of whether a choice is good even if you have no power to make that choice.  However— and I’m probably reading too much into this— but by that same rationale, wouldn’t it also be true that if a “woman cannot choose, she seizes to be a woman?”  I could be wrong, but perhaps this is a subtle Pro-Choice stance taken by Kubrick.

On the other hand, another recurring visual motif is that of the penis.  Especially throughout the first act (penis graffiti, penis sculpture, compositions where the pelvic region is in the dominant position of the frame)— but not so much in the second act, which brings us to the movement in the film which could be titled: “Alex’s Castration.”  The power of the penis is replaced by the power of the state… so to speak.  This is all captured in the iconic brainwashing scene (the scene we’ve all seen even if we haven’t seen the movie) in which Alex’s eyes are literally clamped open as the experiment unfolds.  It’s horrible and it is supposed to be horrible (“violence speaks violence”).

However, to me, there is a far more interesting scene buried in the second act.  It’s a scene that I think speaks to Alex’s character most.  In this scene, he reads about Jesus’ crucifixion, and while he’s currently incarcerated and is being oppressed (even tortured), he somehow sides with the Romans in the story.  He doesn’t empathize with the tortured Jesus, instead, he fancies himself as the guy beating Jesus himself.  This scene is both hilarious and frightening at the same time, which means it’s perfect satire.  And like all satire, it speaks to something truthful.  Perhaps the truth is that Alex’s point of view actually represents the majority of people, Christians in particular.  By this, I don’t mean that Christians (or anyone) consciously think of themselves as the Romans.  But the way people obsess over the violence in the bible, and the hating of the gays and the women— while glossing over the pacified teachings of Jesus— one might assume that they are more akin to the violent Roman than the peaceful Jesus.  I might be out of my mind, but I think a lot of Christians would adhere to an eye for an eye philosophy, rather than the turn the other cheek philosophy.  On a random side-note, I just realized that I dislike the term “turn the other cheek.”  Can we replace this with: “a hug for a hug?”

At any rate, Alex undergoes the groundbreaking experiment and is released back into society.  He’s cured!  Of course, he has fewer choices, and a lot less freedom.  Yes, he gets kicked out of his parents’ house, and is then harassed by a crowd of homeless people.  Sure, he’s tortured by the police, who happen to be his ex-buddies.  But he deserves it.  Right?  An eye for an eye?  Bad karma?  And as far as bad karma goes, the now vulnerable Alex ironically finds himself at the doorstep of one of his original victims.  The victim, characterized as a Liberal, reflexively invites Alex into his home.  At this point, he does not realize that Alex is the perpetrator who raped his wife and crippled him in the first act.  So, he proceeds to care for Alex— feed him, draw a bath for him, etc.  Until the man discovers that Alex is the bastard who ruined his life, and his reaction is the same as everyone else’s.  Revenge.  An eye for an eye.  So, despite the Liberal man’s pacifist ideology, he too tortures Alex, almost to the point of self-influenced death.

Which brings us to the final scene, where we learn that whatever the government had done to brainwash Alex, has been erased and he is back to his original sick self.  This pessimistic ending, which completes Alex’s circular character arc, implies many things.  On a political level, it states that Alex (who represents us) is a pawn for the differing political ideologies to use him in an attempt to make a point, regardless of its dehumanizing effects.  With its negative depiction of both Liberals and Conservatives (as well as all other people), A Clockwork Orange almost comes off as a Libertarian howl for freedom.  More importantly, though, this is a film showing the anti-Golden Rule.  That is, “violence speaks violence.”  Negativity begets negativity.  Hurt people hurt people.  It sounds simplistic and overly idealistic, but Kubrick is speaking to this self-sustaining, infinite cycle of violence.  I gather that if we are to avoid a dystopian future (or present), perhaps we should disturb this cycle of violence.  That is, to say, “LOVE SPEAKS LOVE.”  Not an eye for any eye, rather— a hug for a hug.


3. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Smiley Rating:

 

First, there is blackness.  Gradually, what sounds like an orchestra harmonizing, grows in intensity until it finally climaxes…  And then back to a calm.  Blackness…  I mention this moment, this overture to 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968), because it’s actually the first scene of the film, which in theory, should be one of the most important scenes of all.  And perhaps it’s simply meant to establish the mood of the film.  But maybe it’s more.  Maybe it represents the great void, the pre-let-their-be-light moment.  Maybe it represents our first contact with what will be known as the monolith.  Maybe it represents both.

What follows (after the opening credits) is an establishing shot of outer space, in particular, the sun, the moon, and the planet Earth (scored brilliantly to Richard Strauss’ Thus Spake Zarathustra).  This is an “establishing shot,” and just as all other “establishing shots” in this film, it’s more of an epic balletic sequence, than it is anything else.

The controversial preamble, entitled “the dawn of man,” comes next.  Here, Kubrick paints a desolate planet Earth.  It’s harsh.  It’s cold.  It’s unforgiving.  We’re introduced to what appear to be pre-human animals, Neanderthal-like creatures, and we watch them go about their daily routine, which consists mostly of angry grunting.  In other words, they are animals the way all other animals are, which, in Kubrick’s world tend to be desperate and brutal.

This all changes, however, when a strange monolith, alien-like structure appears seemingly from out of nowhere.  This inexplicable structure causes the Neanderthal’s to go wild, the way a dog might go wild in the presence of a vacuum cleaner.  This marks an important evolutionary step forward, toward dominance, which is demonstrated in one of the most memorable transitions of all time— when the Neanderthal tosses the bone through the air and we jump forward many thousands of years, and we match-cut the “bone” to what is now a “spaceship” flying through space.  This pithy transition does not neglect all the time between the scenes, but includes it.  The match-cut not only incorporates the bone and the ship, but comments on every step in between, from the agricultural revolution, to the scientific revolution, to the industrial revolution, and onward.

So, at this point, we’re twenty-five-some-odd minutes into 2001: A Space Odyssey, ten thousand years of human existence has been covered, and there hasn’t been a single word of dialogue.  What follows is another lucid, balletic type sequence that consists mostly of awe-inspiring establishing shots of really cool spaceships— spaceships flying, opening, closing, landing, etc.  In a regular movie, these establishing details would take just a few seconds of screen time, and then we’d cut to an expository dialogue scene between a couple of actors.  But with Kubrick, he deliberately dedicates an extreme amount of time to these sequences, to these technological marvels, more so than he dedicates to any human.  This, I believe, is because in this movie tools and technology are vastly more important than the humans, or at the very least, operate at a similar level.

Around this point in the film, we have our first dialogue scenes between modern day humans.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to gather much from these conversations because the traffic outside my window is too loud and I couldn’t quite hear what they were saying.  Regardless, one thing led to another, and eventually these astronauts land on the moon and discover another peculiar monolith-like structure.  As the astronauts approach the structure, similarly to the first encounter, a horrible sound emanates from it, a sound that can only be described as a smoke detector gone wrong.  This represents another leap forward.  This, an hour in to 2001: A Space Odyssey marks the end of the ambitious first act (one could argue that the tossing of the bone through the air is the end of the first act, but I think all elements up to this point have been setup for the meat of the movie, the mission to Jupiter).

The “mission to Jupiter” sequence begins by establishing the monotony and loneliness of everyday life between two astronauts aboard a massive spaceship.  Their journey to Jupiter is aided and supported by a super computer called the HAL 9000.  The HAL 9000 is fast, always perfect, and mimics the mind of a human.  Wow.   “Hal,” for short, has a somewhat off-putting, eloquent English voice and is embodied by a single red light that resembles an eye.  It is noteworthy, that the tone in this section gradually grows more and more sinister, scary even, until something really curious happens— Hal, the immaculate computer, seemingly makes a miscalculation that compromises the mission.  Baffled, the two astronauts discuss whether or not Hal can be trusted from here on out, and they decide that he cannot be trusted.  So, they agree to dismantle him, in order to take over the mission manually…

Cut to: Intermission.  Yes, Intermission.  This is perhaps a self-reflexive comment regarding the musical and theatrical nature of the film.  Or maybe it’s just a break in action, allowing us a moment to take a piss.

Anyway, after the surprising presence of the Intermission, we return to the film, and realize that Hal does not take too kindly to the idea of being dismantled.  His oddly human response, self-preservation, results in the catapulting of one of the astronauts into deep space.  This leads to an intense sequence where the main astronaut (Dr. Dave Bowman) tries to rescue the catapulted one… of course, to no avail.  Dr. Dave Bowman returns, determined, and is able to dismantle the HAL 9000, despite Hal’s desperate pleads otherwise.

This brings us to the third and final act, which goes by in what seems like a flash.  In this elusive sequence, Dr. Dave Bowman approaches Jupiter in his space pod, when he enters what can only be described as a time traveling space-time continuum type thing.  During this “descent,” a certain psychedelic effect arises, something like tripping acid in space, and there are several still shots of Dr. Dave Bowman reacting to what’s before his eyes.  These moments are haunting.

At the end of this psychedelic portal, he finds himself in what appears to be a pristine, well-decorated mansion.  It’s bright.  It’s quiet.  It’s eerie as hell.  Then, in maybe three or four consecutive shots, we witness Dr. Dave Bowman grow old and die alone.  After which, a fetus wrapped in a bubble emerges in his place— the “star-child.”  In the final frame, reminiscent of the opening shot of the moon, the sun, and the Earth, we see the “star-child” floating in space, looking directly at us.  Music swells.  The end.

I’ve just described the context of a plainly obvious sci-fi film wrapped between two bizarre sequences that raise the film to a whole new philosophical level.  In other words, instead of a neat, superficial movie about space and lasers, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a profound symbol, a strict cautionary tale about the dangers of progress and the tools that make progress possible.  In this way, the bone at the beginning represents not just the spaceships in the movie, but also the cell phone in your pocket.  It represents the laptop computer in your bag.  The pen on your desk.  But what is the point?  Is it that progress and evolution are bad?  Is it that humans are intrinsically awful?  Is Kubrick suggesting that while these tools can be used for great things, they can also be used for bad?

There are more questions that come to mind, but before I lose myself within the maze that is the subtext of this film, I’d like to point out a couple of technical elements that caught my eye.  First, of course, is the photography.  Like all Kubrick films, the compositions are ambitious, symmetrical, and excessively deliberate.  In a word, they are masterful.  On top of that, was the repetitious use of circles.  From the planets, to the buttons, to the spaceships, to the eyes, was the presence of circles.  These, I believe, represent perfection, infinity, and the circle of life, which also comments on the circular nature of the film (dawn of man, death of man, rebirth of man).   The final technical element I want to mention was the use of red.  Red appears throughout the film, sometimes as a light emanating from a spaceship, sometimes a button on a console, or of course, most memorably, the red eye of Hal.  The red is a little bit more ambiguous than the circles, but I think it represents temptation and danger.  Perhaps it is the forbidden apple from the Garden of Eden.

Either way, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film full of ideas and possible interpretations.  It’s approximately two and a half hours long— and on one hand, it seems like very little is actually happening, but on the other, it seems like Kubrick is taking on the entire history and nature of mankind.  At its essence, this is a sci-fi epic sandwiched in between a cautionary tale about the dangers technology presents to our humanity.  It’s bold.  It’s brilliant.  It’s precise.  It’s confounding.  It’s haunting.  It’s quintessential Kubrick.  In other words, it raises way more questions than it answers.  Questions like, what’s with the mismatching green helmet near the end?  And why is the mansion on Jupiter so immaculately decorated?  And what about those strange monoliths?  Are they a metaphor for God?  The universe?  And what about that creepy star-child?  Is it us?  Is it the next step in evolution?  Is it another planet unto itself?  Are we all planets unto ourselves?  Is it meant to be sinister or hopeful?  In the end, that’s up to you.


2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Smiley Rating:

 

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Judd Apatow, 2005) is one of those high-concept movies that once it has been manifested, it feels like it was destined to exist all along.  But this ingenious concept— Steve Carell as a virgin—is only the surface.  Just as big, heaving boobs are only at the surface.  Just as obligatory romantic comedy plot-points are just at the surface.  And perhaps the 40-Year-Old Virgin operates only at the surface, with big giant boobies and bad fucking words, which, if that were the case, I’d say it absolutely-fucking-succeeds.  That’s why it did so well at the box office, I presume—because apparently we Americans find big boobs and bad words to be really fucking funny!  With that said, aside from the big boobies and the shocking language, I must admit, there are A LOT of jokes at play here.

From the onset, the profane-ridden jokes are rattled off a mile a minute, including a few slapstick moments that often involved a boner.  Otherwise, it was one-liner after one-liner after one-liner after one-liner.  And while they can be exhausting at times, some of these one-liners are definitely laugh-out-loud moments; some are a complete waste of time; but most are at least genuinely funny (especially the asides that often punctuate the end of a scene).  On a random, side note, maybe Apatow’s films have too many jokes.  By that, I mean, almost all of the characters are legitimately funny people with an awesome sense of humor.  And maybe people really are this funny in real life… but maybe they aren’t.  Either way, it’s Apatow’s world and it just happens to be populated by hilarious people who all seem prepped to do a set at the Laugh Factory at a moment’s notice.  Even so, the 40-Year-Old Virgin really executes its concept solidly.  It tends to deliver on its multitude of jokes, and the filmmakers take this concept to its only logical conclusion—a colorful, hippie-inspired, song/dance routine set to “Aquarius / Let the Sun Shine In.”

However, that’s all on the surface.  If we were to delve deeper, real deep (“this is graphic”)— we’d find that this movie is actually a portrayal of the modern day American man… or should I say man-child?  Whether intended or not, the 40-Year-Old Virgin is essentially about ashamed American men and their struggle to come to terms with their own sexuality, especially within the context of an ever-more liberal culture that constantly bombards them with sexually explicit content and unrealistic expectations of what a man (or woman) should be.  This leads to faulty preconceived notions of what we expect from one another.  This leads to miscommunication.  Most importantly, this leads to a deeply insecure man with repressed feelings regarding his sexuality, which, in turn, leads to an epidemic of sophomoric man-children.

But what is really at the heart of the 40-Year-Old Virgin?  Words.  And on the surface, certain words may seem “bad,” but here, Apatow attempts to defuse the whole notion of a “bad” word.  He does this by over-using profanity to such an extent, almost in a hyperbolic way, that it takes its power away, thus providing a neutral, even slate to operate from.  This is important because the message of the movie is acceptance.  In order to accept, one must let go of preconceived notions, and open up their mind.  But first, we must accept ourselves.  Then, we must accept everyone else.  Whether they are gay, straight, virgin, woman, non-virgin, young, old, or whatever else.

…  Or maybe it’s just about boobs and fucks.

 


1. 8 ½

Smiley Rating:

 

It is said that the title, 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963), refers to the amount of films Federico Fellini had in his oeuvre up to that point.  Meaning, this movie, 8 ½, was his eighth and a half film.  How fitting, then, that 8 ½ is my number one.  That is, my first entry.  My beginning.

Speaking of beginning, where does one begin when discussing such a classic, beguiling film?  Much has been said, and much could be said.  Quite frankly, “where to begin?” is a difficult question for any artist to answer, and it’s a question that plagues this protagonist, a film director named Guido, throughout.  Of course, it doesn’t help matters that he’s in the midst of a deep and terrible creative block.  A “director’s block,” he calls it at one point.  It also doesn’t help that he has a bounteous amount of mistresses, despite the fact that he’s married (more on this later).

So, perhaps I’ll begin with an oversimplification of the entire film.  A shallow first impression, if you will.  Although, to be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen 8 ½.  I’ve seen it one or two other times, but it has been at least four years since the last viewing.  So, for the sake of fairness, we’ll simple call this my “present impression.”

My “present impression” of 8 ½ is that it’s an ultra self-reflexive film about a film director who is creatively blocked, and who really, really, really likes gorgeous women.  In other words, it’s about me—minus the good looks, impeccable wardrobe, and abundant success.  Oh, and also the uncountable mistresses.  I guess that’s more of an Italian thing, circa 1963.

Let me back up for a second…  For those of you who have never seen this film or have totally forgotten what it’s about, I’d briefly explain the plot like this:  Guido, an uninspired film director, MUST make a film.  Producers, crew, critics, press, and mistresses all await answers as the expenses and the pressure mounts.  Unfortunately, Guido has the aforementioned “director’s block” and has no idea what the film is going to be about.  The result being, Guido must lie, manipulate, and procrastinate his way to the finish.

What I’ve just described may or may not sound intriguing to you, but it’s totally irrelevant either way.  8 ½ is not a plot-driven movie.  Instead, it’s a somewhat surreal, dream-like, character study.  This may lead to some impatient viewers claiming that the movie is ambiguous and meandering.  I would disagree.  I think that the symbolic representations of a character’s subconscious, whether dream or reality, allow for a deeper understanding of said character.  This kind of penetrating character study is often confused with ambiguity, because the movie doesn’t employ a genre-specific plot (see Mulholland Drive).

The themes, however, are made abundantly clear, namely— honesty and freedom.  Guido struggles immensely to tell the truth (honesty), and is imprisoned by his creative block (freedom).  One fuels the other.  These themes are made visceral with extremely effective recurring visual motifs.  Most strikingly of which, are the graphic vertical pinstripe lines that are often found in the background of scenes.  I believe this visual motif clearly represents a mental-like-prison, epitomized in the ever-growing scaffolding tower that is to be the set for the “spaceship scene.”  Not only that, but the graphic boldness alone of the vertical lines really adds texture to the black and white photography.  If nothing else, it really looks awesome!

Another recurring visual motif was the keen use of wardrobe— most notably, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.  Often the brim of a hat would completely hide a character’s face.  In fact, there’s a pivotal scene, probably two-thirds of the way through, where Guido is finally being honest to his wife about his dishonesty.  Ironically, the key lines delivered during this scene are with his face completely hidden by the brim of his hat.  Sunglasses, similarly, are used for characters to hide the truth as well.

An additional element that jumped out at me during this viewing was the extreme self-reflexive nature of the film.  There are literally scenes in which characters are discussing a previous scene we had just previously watched.  Fellini lets the scene unfold, and then comments and criticizes it in the next.  We take this kind of quirky self-reflection for granted now, as it has been done a million times since, like in the popular sit-com Seinfeld.  At any rate, I enjoyed the self-reflection, and imagine it was quite groundbreaking at the time (although, I could be wrong).

I probably shouldn’t go on any further without mentioning the music by Nina Rota, which is perhaps the most memorable score of all time.  In this movie, the music is basically another character unto itself.  Perhaps the most likeable character, at that.  Every time the music rose, I knew I was in for something exciting.  This, accompanied with the dizzying camera movement and the lush black and white photography, all made for a more-than-pleasurable viewing experience.

Speaking of a pleasurable viewing experience— now might be a good time to mention the endless stream of beautiful actresses in this film.  One gorgeous actress after another is paraded about, most enigmatically, the dark haired minx that obviously inspired Quentin Tarantino (once you see the film, you’ll know exactly what I mean).

These women, of course, are a curse to Guido and Guido is a curse to them, as they represent his inability to love and to be honest.  They, like the vertical lines, are suffocating him.  This is demonstrated in one of the more memorable dream sequences, the harem scene, in which every woman in Guido’s life literally lives under the same roof (and it’s a lot of women).

With that said, my favorite sequences are the opening dream sequence that sets the tone and the concluding parade sequence, which somehow ties everything together.  In the former, a surrealistic traffic jam encapsulates Guido’s stasis and lack of creative freedom.  In the latter, after Guido orders the scaffolding to be dismantled (represents tearing down the vertical lines), he is finally free and inspired to start anew.  Which brings us full circle back to the same question I posed at the beginning:  “where to begin?”


Inventory

Here is the full list of movies I aim to commentate on (alphabetical order):

  1. 8 ½
  2. 40 Year Old Virgin
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  4. A Clockwork Orange
  5. Across the Universe
  6. Adaptation
  7. A History of Violence
  8. Almost Famous
  9. Amelie
  10. The American
  11. American Beauty
  12. American Pie
  13. A Mighty Wind
  14. Annie Hall
  15. Any Given Sunday
  16. Art School Confidential
  17. Away We Go
  18. Barton Fink
  19. Batman Begins
  20. Beginners
  21. Being John Malkovich
  22. Best in Show
  23. Big Fish
  24. The Big Lebowksi
  25. The Birds
  26. Blood Simple
  27. Boogie Nights
  28. Boondock Saints
  29. Born on the Fourth of July
  30. Bottle Rocket
  31. The Bourne Ultimatum
  32. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  33. Breathless
  34. Brokeback Mountain
  35. Burn After Reading
  36. Capote
  37. Chasing Amy
  38. Citizen Kane
  39. Clerks
  40. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  41. Coffee and Cigarettes
  42. The Darjeeling Limited
  43. Dazed and Confused
  44. Deconstructing Harry
  45. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
  46. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  47. Donnie Darko
  48. The Doors
  49. The Double Life of Veronique
  50. Down by Law
  51. Drugstore Cowboy
  52. Dumb and Dumber
  53. Easy Rider
  54. Eat Pray Love
  55. Eraserhead
  56. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  57. Exit Through the Gift Shop
  58. Eyes Wide Shut
  59. Family Plot
  60. Fanny and Alexander
  61. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  62. Fargo
  63. Fast Times at RIgdgemont High
  64. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  65. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  66. Fight Club
  67. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  68. Frenzy
  69. Full Metal Jacket
  70. Funny Face
  71. Funny People
  72. Garden State
  73. Get Him to the Greek
  74. Ghostbusters 1
  75. Ghostbusters 2
  76. Good Will Hunting
  77. Half Nelson
  78. Hard Eight
  79. Harold and Maude
  80. Heaven and Earth
  81. High Fidelity
  82. I’m Not There
  83. Inglourious Basterds
  84. I Heart Huckabees
  85. Inland Empire
  86. Into the Wild
  87. Jackie Brown
  88. Jeff, Who Lives at Home
  89. JFK
  90. Juno
  91. Kicking and Screaming
  92. Knocked Up
  93. Lars and the Real Girl
  94. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
  95. Little Miss Sunshine
  96. Lost in Translation
  97. Love Actually
  98. Magnolia
  99. Mallrats
  100. Manhattan
  101. The Man Who Knew Too Much
  102. Marnie
  103. Match Point
  104. The Meaning of Life
  105. Melvin Goes to Dinner
  106. Memento
  107. Midnight Cowboy
  108. Milk
  109. Miller’s Crossing
  110. Moulin Rouge
  111. Mulholland Drive
  112. My Own Private Idaho
  113. Mystery Train
  114. Naked Lunch
  115. Natural Born Killers
  116. Nixon
  117. The Notebook
  118. Office Space
  119. Once
  120. Paris Je Taime
  121. Paris, Texas
  122. Paris When it Sizzles
  123. The Phantom of Liberty
  124. Pi
  125. Pineapple Express
  126. Platoon
  127. The Player
  128. Pretty in Pink
  129. The Princess Bride
  130. Prizzi’s Honor
  131. Psycho
  132. The Puffy Chair
  133. Pulp Fiction
  134. Punch-Drunk Love
  135. Raising Arizona
  136. Rear Window
  137. Requiem for a Dream
  138. Reservoir Dogs
  139. River’s Edge
  140. Rocky
  141. Roman Holiday
  142. Rope
  143. The Royal Tenenbaums
  144. The Rules of Attraction
  145. Rushmore
  146. Saboteur
  147. Sabrina
  148. Salvador
  149. Say Anything
  150. Scenes From a Marriage
  151. Seven
  152. Sex and the City
  153. Sex and the City 2
  154. Shadow of a Doubt
  155. The Shining
  156. Short Cuts
  157. Sideways
  158. Slacker
  159. Sleeper
  160. Slumdog Millionaire
  161. The Social Network
  162. Some Kind of Wonderful
  163. Some Like It Hot
  164. The Squid and the Whale
  165. Stand By Me
  166. St. Elmo’s Fire
  167. Stranger Than Paradise
  168. Superbad
  169. Swingers
  170. Swordfish
  171. Synecdoche, New York
  172. Talk Radio
  173. Taxi Driver
  174. Thank You For Smoking
  175. There’s Something About Mary
  176. There Will Be Blood
  177. This is Spinal Tap
  178. Three Colors Blue
  179. Three Colors White
  180. Three Colors Red
  181. Thumbsucker
  182. Topaz
  183. Torn Curtain
  184. Traffic
  185. Tropic Thunder
  186. The Trouble With Harry
  187. True Romance
  188. U-Turn
  189. Vertigo
  190. Vicky Christina Barcelona
  191. The Virgin Suicides
  192. The Visitor
  193. Waiting for Guffman
  194. Waking Life
  195. Waking Ned Devine
  196. Walk Hard
  197. Wall Street
  198. The Way We Were
  199. The Weather Man
  200. When Harry Met Sally
  201. Zelig

Prologue

I sit on this couch from Ikea, with this precious cat sleeping nearby, watching “Hardball With Chris Matthews.”  I’ve just applied for a data entry position at the Directors Guild of America, and now I’m not sure what to do.

So, my idle mind wanders, and my eyes fix upon this beautiful antique cabinet that sits on the edge of the room.  This cabinet, I should say, has some interesting history.  It once was the top-half of a medicine cabinet in a psychiatric hospital, and was found in a ditch on the side of the road many decades ago.  It was kindly passed down from one generation to the next, and now holds the entirety of my movie collection.  Although, when I say “my,” I really mean “we” (as in, my wife and I).  Our collection.  In total, we have exactly 201 movies between us.  Some gifts, some box sets, some hers, some mine, some I haven’t even seen.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to watch EVERY single movie in the collection in alphabetical order (all 201 of them), which will then be followed by a corresponding review.  Well, not a review, per se, more of a “casual commentary.”

At any rate, the first order of task:  do inventory.