Seaborn Hall, 10/17/20
(In no particular order)
15 Minutes, 2001
Too intense and violent for some, but a remarkable and prescient polemic on modern media and internet culture when it was released in 2001. Even more surprising for the unexpected turn of events that happens about half way through. Robert De Niro, Edward Burns, and Kelsey Grammar pursue two of the scariest, smartest and audacious bad guys in film up to that time.
Definitely Maybe, 2008
Definitely, maybe one of the best romantic comedies of the early 2000’s: the protagonist tells the story of his romantic life – and of his romance with her estranged mother – to his daughter. But he leaves out one critical detail. Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fischer, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Kline, and Rachel Weisz all shine.
Gangster Squad, 2013
Another film about Los Angeles, specifically the corruption among its police and the budding power of gangsters that could have had major influence over the development of the city. Based on true events. This one is as good as the others in our previous lists, but flies under the radar for some reason. It pits Sean Penn against Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and some others. Emma Stone plays a good turn as the vacillating girlfriend.
Galaxy Quest, 1999
At least one of my friends thinks this science fiction, comedic, take-off on Star Trek is stupid – but I don’t get that. Hilarious and acutely insightful, this comedy is a polemic and a morality play. I never fail to laugh no matter how many times I see it. Perceptive, funny, zany, and a lot of fun, it makes fun of and judges our superficial culture without the viewer realizing that he should even be offended in the process. Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, and Sam Rockwell.
The International, 2009
Undoubtedly one of the more erudite and involving – and under-rated – political and financial thrillers of recent memory. Clive Owens, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl and a great cast that twist and turn you through Europe and New York to a taut ending. In the process it uses a museum set piece for one of the most anxiety producing gun battles on film.
I Am Number Four, 2011
This film reminds me a little of The Terminator, the original sci-fi movie with Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton that was essentially a romance – a story of how one man comes back to the present from the future to save the woman he has fallen in love with from her photograph. ‘Four’, is also under assault from other-worldly forces, aliens who devastated his home planet. Now taking up on earth, with his bodyguard, Timothy Oliphant, ‘Four’ must constantly hide his evolving super powers as he falls in love with an ‘earth’ girl, Dianna Agron, and evades both suspicious law enforcement, jealous teens, and invading aliens. Teresa Palmer in an earth-shattering major film debut.
Shadow Of A Doubt, 1943
Perhaps in our era, the most under-rated Alfred Hitchcock film of all time, though it was not that when it was released – critics loved it. Imagine if one of your beloved relatives was not the person you thought they were, but instead a dangerous sociopath who could turn murderous if cornered – even towards someone in their own family. Great performances by the always likable Teresa Wright, and Joseph Cotten.
Live, Die, Repeat: Edge Of Tomorrow, 2014
Think Groundhog Day as a sci-Fi, futuristic military thriller. Tom Cruise, and Emily Blunt as the ‘archangel.’ One of Cruise’s best and most complete character arcs, from a coward to a hero.
Moulin Rouge, 2001
For my money, one of the best musicals ever, up there with Sound of Music and a few others. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor turn in solid, surprising musical performances of Elton John’s music, woven into a bittersweet tale of love and love lost in early Paris.
Something New, 2006
This was a breakthrough romantic comedy for Simon Baker, which led to his lead role in The Mentalist. A racially mixed romance which turns prejudice and racial bias on its head with keen insights into both the white and African-American cultures.
+ One Extra
Cast A Giant Shadow, 1966
Based on a true story, a former Army Colonel from WWII, somewhat of a renegade who served under General Patton, is recruited by the Haganah, the upstart Israeli army, to train and form a disciplined and organized military from a ragtag group of Jews, refugees, and arriving immigrants from former Concentration camps in Germany. They are tasked with the ‘small challenge’ of marshaling global support for the Jewish state and holding off millions of invading Arabs and taking back Jerusalem in 1948. Stars Kirk Douglas, Yul Brynner, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Senta Berger, and Angie Dickinson.