Thursday, January 27, 2011

Film Fan #301-325

#301. Batman (1989)
I’m always a little surprised when I see how low I have ranked this one, because it’s not only a long-time favorite, but something of a touchstone (for instance, when it was originally released I found out that Robin wasn’t universally beloved) for my childhood. What keeps it down is its singular characterization of Batman, as something of more of a, shall we say, freak than I tend to think of him. This in itself is not surprisingly, given that the filmmaker in question is Tim Burton. But Jack Nicholson’s Joker really does overpower Batman, presence-wise. It’s not hard to see how much more interesting Burton finds his villain (which is even more true in Batman Returns with the Penguin. It’s a completely different way than Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger’s revelatory (and superior) Joker. Jack’s Joker is a glorified gangster, and not much of a clown, and that’s what I find interesting, and perhaps an inspiration for some of the later Batman comics, where gangsters really are prominent again (as they were originally, when Batman was created, when real gangsters were running around), and even Nolan’s movies. I love Kim Basinger, and the bold choice of Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, which even Burton didn’t know what to do with. I don’t know. I still don’t. I love this movie. But here it is, at least for the time being.

#302. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
The last listed of the Potter films, possibly because it’s not Harry who really stands out, but Kenneth Branagh’s Gilderoy Lockheart who truly dominates, as well as Jason Isaacs, and Doby. Loads of critics blame Chris Columbus for the first two films seeming too much like kid material. The truth is, the first two books really are. It’s in the second film where Columbus is the one capable of seeing what’s there to elevate it to more adult interests, and it’s loopy Lockheart, who really isn’t much of a character (though I still loved him, and wished he’d made more than just a glorified cameo later on), and Branagh, who are up to the task. At this point, you must remember, J.K. Rowling had only published the first four books. While a definite turns take place in the third one, it isn’t until the fifth one where real maturity begins to develop. One might argue that Columbus is owed more credit than he’s been given in shaping the legacy of this franchise. Then again, here I am, listing this one pretty low, too…

#303. Valentine’s Day (2010)
Speaking of movies without a lot of critical support, I guess because the filmmaker was Garry Marshall, who had previously made the iconic ‘Pretty Woman’ (which I still haven’t seen), a little too much pressure was placed on this one. The truth is, it’s magical. The cast alone is magical, even if not everyone sees it that way: Ashton Kutcher (who is basically the lead actor, and carries it better than a lot of the movies Hollywood has put him in), Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper & Eric Dane (involved in a wicked twist), Patrick Dempsey (maintaining a cinematic record as a douche bag, the complete opposite of McDreamy), Jennifer Garner (with a really sweet subplot), Topher Grace (who like Kutcher and Mila Kunis has been struggling to finally establish his movie bona fides), Anne Hathaway, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Emma Roberts, Taylor Swift, and yes, Julia Roberts. He’s Just Not That Into You from a year previous used the ensemble/vignette formula almost as well, but this one really nails it, with a perfect romantic formula (and gimmick).

#304. Spaceballs (1987)
I mentioned the love for Mel Brooks earlier, and so this one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Probably the most pure Mel Brooks experience possible, with enough of an excuse for a plot and parody to pull off a lot of nonsense. Bill Pullman probably deserves to have a little more big credits to his name, but he could do worse than this and Independence Day.

#305. Amistad (1997)
Spielberg somehow didn’t get a lot of love for this one, possibly because it seemed a little too obvious, but it’s still great and continually relevant drama, gave Hollywood Djimon Hounsou, allowed Matthew McConaughey to give one of his great lawyer performances, and let Anthony Hopkins walk around as John Quincy Adams, a forgotten but pivotal member of US history, which this film helps to illuminate. What more could you ask for?

#306. Jerry Maguire (1996)
One of Tom Cruise’s unqualified hits, and perhaps the one that will truly endure, is a modern romantic classic. Renee Zellweger made a palpable mark in this one, and led to an extended run that has only recently fizzled, while Cuba Gooding, Jr. scores big in his perfect role. If only other films or audiences had been as kind to him, he might still be relevant. Considering what happened to Cruise’s career, you might consider something of a Jerry Maguire curse to exist…

#307. Malcolm X (1992)
This is another movie I’m still trying to digest, but I know this much: Malcolm X is an important film; it’s Spike Lee’s best film; and, possibly, Denzel Washington’s best as well.

#308. Good Will Hunting (1997)
The movie that officially announced the careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck was a hard one for both of them to live down, or rather, live up to. Robin Williams is there to support them in one of his last truly great dramatic roles.

#309. Rosewood (1997)
Think of this as the period Malcolm X, only instead of a historical figure, replace it with a mythical hero archetype played by Ving Rhames, in probably his most significant performance, supported by a host of talented folks, including Jon Voight, Don Cheadle, and Bruce McGill.

#310. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
There are so many talented actors supporting Spielberg’s epic vision of WWII that I can list them and that’ll be enough: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel (yes, talented), Ted Danson, Jeremy Davies, Paul Giamatti, more.

#311. Batman Forever (1995)
What a lot of fans consider the beginning of Joel Schumacher’s Folly is a treasured moment in my formative years. Keep in mind that I am a big fan of Jim Carrey, and Batman’s not too bad, either. In fact, there’s not a lot of Batman here at all, really. Val Kilmer gets to play Bruce Wayne, a lot more than Michael Keaton did (and mind you, I liked Keaton, too), and opposite Nicole Kidman, who perhaps has less of a character than Kim Basinger or Michelle Pfeiffer before her, but smolders enough for all three. But the real star and attraction for me is Robin, whose story is related through Chris O’Donnell, who may be far too old to represent the traditional version of Dick Grayson’s own formative years, but it works for this movie, and that’s all that counts.

#312. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves, plus some dude named Francis Ford Coppola present a lively and expansive version of the familiar story, famous at the time, mostly for radically breaking off from Hollywood tradition, but deserving of another look, since it still holds up.

#313. Aladdin (1992)
Part of the Disney animation renaissance that…quickly ushered in the Pixar era (hard to believe, but Toy Story was only three years away) and a treasured peace of my childhood, and still enjoyable now, thanks to Rob Williams as the unhinged Genie, plus Iago, as voiced by Gilbert Gottfried.

#314. Bad Boys (1995)
Will Smith’s cinematic breakthrough was a buddy flick with Martin Lawrence and Tea Leoni. This film may or may not also be responsible for Michael Bay.

#315. Rush Hour (1998)
This is another buddy flick, pairing Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, who decided to hang his entire Hollywood career on this franchise. He could have done worse.

#316. Batman and Robin (1998)
Okay, now that you sat through my justification of Batman Forever, what could I possibly say to redeem this one? Well, for starters, what I was saying about Val Kilmer, multiply that by at least two for George Clooney, because until Christian Bale, no one made a more credible Bruce Wayne/Batman than Clooney, who was at this point still trying to convince people that he was a movie star. Maybe this particular film wasn’t the best argument, but Clooney himself is typically impeccable. There’s also Michael Gough’s best turn as Alfred; the only actor (besides Pat Hingle, but that was a Commissioner Gordon who was irredeemably superfluous almost from the start) to appear in all four Batman flicks prior to Christopher Nolan’s relaunch. I’m not talking about the appearance of Alicia Silverstone as Alfred’s niece and eventual Batgirl. She manages to spoil Chris O’Donnell’s Robin. No, I’m talking about his health crisis, which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comically poignant Mr. Freeze inadvertently resolves. Uma Thurman is pretty game as a silly Poison Ivy. She makes both Batman and Robin themselves more relevant than any other element of the movie.

#317. Home Alone (1990)
This Christmas classic and origin of Macauley Culkin’s brief superstardom…actually, that’s pretty much it right there.

#318. Die Hard (1988)
Alan Rickman really shines in this movie. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, or Rickman, but you might check it out. Also, I think Bruce Willis began his movie career in it.

#319. Elizabeth (1998)
A riveting piece of drama that helped launch the career of Cate Blanchett, but has mostly been forgotten, even though it eventually led to a sequel, which is pretty rare for period pieces, and even more rare for period pieces starring women. That’s how awesome Cate Blanchett is.

#320. The Alamo (2004)
Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric, Billy Bob Thornton, and others finally made the movie that more famous people couldn’t, and that might account for why it isn’t better known, because critics probably lamented for what could have been, and, well, audiences only sometimes care about period flicks.

#321. Young Guns (1988)
For instance, audiences definitely cared when a bunch of hot young actors starred in this game effort at revitalizing the Western. What it really did was feature a bunch of hot young actors. But it’s actually still perfectly safe to view for anyone who loves movies.

#322. Syriana (2005)
Only when he really started to lean into politics did critics give George Clooney some love, and gosh darn it, they did have a good option to go with.

#323. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Lost in all the mockery of Marlon Brando was the fact that David Thewlis was actually the star of this, and that would-be Brando, Val Kilmer, was a co-star. The truth behind the mockery also spells that Brando used this as another of his platforms to comment on the human condition, and his unique vantage point. But mockery is so much more fun!

#324. Salvador (1986)
This early and little-known Oliver Stone flick is pretty fascinating, and gives both James Woods and Jim Belushi (yes, that one) career performances.

#325. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Though I was technically two years old when this movie was released, I grew up more with its reputation than an actual experience with it, since I didn’t see it until many years later. But stands on record as being one of the few films to elicit tears from me, when it appears that the little guy has died. That’s movie magic, folks.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Film Fan #276-300

#276. Mary Poppins (1964)
This is a childhood favorite that I wouldn’t necessarily seek out in adulthood, but is still a fond memory, as evidenced by another of those Simpsons spoofs that I treasure just about equally. Ah, who am I kidding? Julie Andrews was hot in this movie, and Dick Van Dyke is pretty classic.

#277. Fantasia (1940)
What Pixar is to the current generation, Disney (at least from the rental store) was to mine, and this is like an animated symphony, the kind of movie experience that it’s a little weird isn’t a little more ordinary, given that there are so many possibilities but most filmmakers tend toward expository. When you have a visual and audio experience possible, why do there have to be so many stories? I’m not against stories, but when a medium doesn’t necessarily have to be constrained by them, why force them on everything?

#278. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
This is a totally breakthrough Western, one that broke the John Wayne mold that had come to dominate the genre, operating more as a buddy flick, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (I still can’t figure out why, exactly) and is probably responsible for every buddy film that followed (Crosby and Hope don’t count). If more filmmakers were to take inspiration from this, and not just for the buddy formula, we’d be better off.

#279. Three Kings (1999)
See? Here, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube do a Gulf War version of Butch Cassidy, and we were all the better for it. Incredibly, this was another example of Clooney as bona fide movie star, but critics still weren’t having it. He had to wait pretty much a decade for the credit he richly deserved, and even then, it’s still dodgy. Critics are assholes.

#280. Rocky (1976)
The Rocky movies in general are something of a treasure. This is the only one on the list, but I recommend the whole series to posterity. There’s a line in Rocky Balboa (the sixth and most recent one) about persistence in the face of adversity, and that’s pretty much what these films are all about. There’s a lot more integrity to Sylvester Stallone’s opus (yeah, I’m saying it) than most people are willing to admit. So start here, and continue on with the rest of them.

#281. Easy Rider (1969)
This was one of those things that I knew (or thought I knew) by reputation for a long time, so when I finally did see it, I was pretty surprised. Peter Fonda is pretty much what you would expect, but Dennis Hopper, I really had to reevaluate everything I thought I knew. But Jack Nicholson steals this movie. That was the best discovery.

#282. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)
Here’s a cult Terry Gilliam flick that ought to be considered one of his defining masterpieces, rather than relegated behind the likes of the inferior Time Bandits and Fisher King. Here he finds a sufficient outfit to dress his usual predilection for oddity, much like Doctor Parnassus and Brazil. Also, Uma Thurman.

#283. Philadelphia (1993)
The only time icons Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington have worked together almost doesn’t really count, because Hanks is really too busy working with AIDS, the first of two Best Actor awards from the Oscars.

#284. Cold Mountain (2003)
Jack White! No, I’m kidding. It’s great to have him on the soundtrack, of course, but this is really all about the most interesting Civil War story no one else apparently ever thought about, as portrayed by Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger.

#285. The Family Man (2000)
The actor who never gets any respect (okay, sometimes, but most of the time, when people are bitching about his style, it cancels those moments out) is Nicolas Cage. Movies like The Family Man ought to shut his critics up. When you’re the only actor who could play a role that way, that means you’re a pretty singular actor. That, in case you were wondering, means he’s special. In a good way.

#286. Wall Street (1987)
Charlie Sheen in the only role he’s really going to be remembered for (unless people actually start respecting Two and a Half Men in the future), what I may in the future be considering the prequel to its sequel, which I think might actually be the better film. But this one is pretty interesting, too. Oh, and I think someone named Michael Douglas is also in it. He may or may not play someone with a fairly famous name.

#287. Thelma and Louise (1991)
See? And without Butch Cassidy, you wouldn’t have this one, either. Geena Davis for a while had a career she deserved because of this movie. Brad Pitt owes his entire career to this movie. How often does that even happen, one of the medium’s biggest stars coming from something where he’s not even referenced in the title?

#288. Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)
This is not even because I’m a huge fan of both Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott (not to mention Jennifer Garner), but because I absolutely believe this is a classic. Dude! Sweet!

#289. Natural Born Killers (1994)
Aside from everything else people have managed to talk about this movie over the years, there’s also Robert Downey, Jr. in a supporting role that steals the show, which is about the one thing all those people tend to overlook.

#290. A League of Their Own (1992)
I consider this to be Geena Davis, plus Tom Hanks warming up for Woody. A film that really needs to be rediscovered.

#291. Broken Lizard’s Club Dread (2003)
For pretty much everyone else, Broken Lizard is a comedy troupe that produced Super Troopers, and that’s pretty much it. I actually saw this one first, and even after I saw Super Troopers, I still ended up preferring Club Dread, almost entirely because of Coconut Pete. But the Broken Lizard players are pretty awesome, too.

#292. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
This was ostensibly a Heath Ledger vehicle, but the central figure in the movie is actually portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the actor who gets to continue the legacy of Ledger, so that makes this one increasingly important, to see the two working together. Ledger clearly had some fun making this one, one of his earliest Hollywood performances, and closest to what he pictured for himself.

#293. True Romance (1993)
This is one of those cult flicks that I only somewhat recently had a chance to catch, and need to watch a few more times to truly catch up with, but it deserves a place on this list regardless.

#294. Top Gun (1986)
Sometimes an instant classic is an all-time classic, too, a box office blockbuster that truly stands up. You’ve got Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, and a bunch of other stuff, “a need for speed,” and what else do you need?

#295. Blazing Saddles (1974)
My family became obsessed with Mel Brooks at one point (seeing most but not all of his films, including many that have become unfairly obscure, even though he’s generally much better than critics are willing to concede), and this is a classic by any regard. Gene Wilder at one point actually had a career, and this is the movie to thank for that.

#296. True Grit (1969)
It’s funny, because the recent new adaptation made it clear just how long ago and fuzzy my experience with this one actually is, because I remember very little, but it was a John Wayne standout then, and it’s a John Wayne standout now. Wayne, I should explain, is my dad’s favorite actor, so my childhood was a mix of Disney and Westerns. Now it’s easy to assume most of the Westerns were in fact Disney movies, because they might as well have been. Just sayin’.

#297. Trading Places (1983)
Saturday Night Live has a long history of providing Hollywood with new stars, and this is one of those weird confluences where two of those stars actually aligned from different eras of the show. They were, of course, Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy. I would love if they did a follow-up to Trading Places, actually. Except now, both of them would be trading up.

#298. Road Trip (2000)
There are other things to love about this movie (the creepy/cool DJ Qualls, for instance), but this is otherwise known as the one time Tom Green was unabashedly entertaining.

#299. Heaven and Earth (1993)
The awesome thing about Oliver Stone is that where other filmmakers are content to touch on subjects and then movie on, he tends to meditate a bit longer. It’s more than safe to say that he’s the Vietnam War’s Spielberg, at the very least. Here he tries to help Tommy Lee Jones find some piece. Ha! And it turns out okay for everyone!

#300. Grumpy Old Men (1993)
This is another of those movies that might as well be a prequel to its sequel, nice to see in order to find out how Matthau and Lemmon ended up as retirement age chick magnets in the first place.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Film Fan #226-275

#226. L.A. Confidential (1997)
After Titanic, this was probably 1997’s most-loved movie by critics, but interest in it sort of petered out after a while. The cast is the greatest thing about it: Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, even Danny DeVito, who gives the film its pulpy gimmick with his narration.

#227. S.W.A.T. (2003)
You might almost consider this the junior version of L.A. Confidential, the TV age edition starring Colin Farrell, Samuel L. Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, LL Cool J, and Jeremy Renner in an early standout role. In fact, I came mostly to see Farrell, but it’s Renner who pretty much steals the show as his rival.

#228. The Losers (2010)
Here’s the 2010 version of Desperado, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan taking over for Antonio Banderas, and leading a gang of equally low-key but exceptional actors (this was the best version of a formula also seen during this year with The A-Team and The Expendables) including Zoe Saldana in one of her many recent supporting roles (which also happened to include Takers, another similar movie), Chris Evans, and in another of his chameleon roles, Jason Patric.

#229. Gattaca (1997)
Incredibly, at one time I basically overlooked this movie because it was something my brother was trying to recommend, and I was in a phase where it simply wasn’t cool to like what my brothers did. Well, forget that. This is a piercing drama that happens to take place in the future, with an effective and edgy cast headlined by Uma Thurman, Jude Law, and Ethan Hawke.

#230. Tigerland (2000)
Colin Farrell’s first starring role immediately landed on Hollywood’s A-list (which effectively screwed him over, because he became as inexplicably ubiquitous as Jude Law did for a while, and when critics and/or audiences don’t actually demand it, the overall perception of the audience will inevitably distort the actual quality of the resulting work). No wonder, anyway, because he’s absolutely dynamite here. I would without much hesitation call him Brando’s true heir.

#231. Lost in Space (1998)
Here’s another of those TV show movies that keep cropping up on this list (S.W.A.T. a little earlier is one of them, too, but aside from a brief cameo by that show’s theme song, you’d hardly know it). I don’t care one way or another about the original show, never having actually seen it, but any movie that can combine such eclectic actors as William Hurt, Gary Oldman, Mimi Rogers, Heather Graham, Lacey Chabert, and even Matt LeBlanc (in probably the one film role that suggests he really should have gotten a better break in this particular medium), has to be worth something, even if just as a curiosity. But it’s better than you might think. Hurt helps to ground it, but really just about everything works just fine.

#232. Doomsday (2008)
A lot of people got confused about how to react to this one because of the director (Neil Marshall, who’d done some minor pop cultural hits with Dog Soldiers and The Descent before it) and its apparent and overwhelming debts to earlier films like the Mad Max series, but they really missed the point. Here is sheer movie delirium, with a strong center in the underrated Rhona Mitra, whose charm is so elusive that it’s actually proven a detriment to her career, even though it’s undeniable. In fact, I would recommend seeing this movie just for her, but the rest of it is pretty fun, too.

#233. A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Here’s one of those period movies that tries to snag a modern audience with some contemporary cues. In fact, here’s pretty much the prototypical example of that genre, and that’s exactly how it was marketed, and how pretty much everyone remembers it, beyond the fact that it was Hollywood’s best bet to try and make Heath Ledger into the new Mel Gibson-circa-Braveheart (I gotta admit, whatever Hollywood was trying to do with Ledger, I never really understood it). Ledger is fine in the leading role, but he’s got a terrific supporting cast, including standouts Mark Addy and Paul Bettany, the actor who really did absolutely refuse to play the typical Hollywood game (something Ledger claimed to do, and what brad Pitt has made a career of attempting, even though he has failed miserably at it). Addy and Bettany, if you were wondering, represent the real tone of this movie. If Ledger had followed suit, or if he had been allowed to, everyone would have a lot different opinion of it. The Brothers Grimm, which he made with Terry Gilliam and Matt Damon, is probably an indication of the direction he would have pursued with a little more experience under his belt. Shannyn Sossamon has her debut role here, beginning a long chain of underappreciation.

#234. Whale Rider (2003)
A charming tale of great critical acclaim from New Zealand, which has unfortunately been somewhat forgotten in recent years, even though it really is just as good as it ever was.

#235. The Last Kiss (2006)
Zach Braff had a brief period where he was making acclaimed movies while he was still mugging on TV on Scrubs, and Garden State is the most well-known of these efforts, but The Last Kiss is probably the best of them, fully capturing his ability to convey real pathos, which is his most underrated gift. Rachel Bilson, another TV refugee, costars, as do Tom Wilkinson and Casey Affleck.

#236. Minority Report (2002)
During a period where he was trying to diversify in every possible sense, Spielberg turned to a great many unexpected sources for inspiration. Famously, he finished a Kubrick film with A.I. during this time, but with Minority Report, he also turned to Philip K. Dick, and ended up with future noir, which he layered with a considerable helping of Homer’s Odyssey, and had it star Tom Cruise. Remember what I was saying about Colin Farrell a little earlier, how filmmakers started putting him everywhere after Tigerland? Well, here was one of those projects. Max Von Sydow has one of his early standout latterday roles, which like Danny DeVito in L.A. Confidential helps set the tone perfectly.

#237. United 93 (2006)
It’s almost a shame that this will forever be remembered as a 9/11 film, because it deserves to remembered as a great film. But then, because it’s a 9/11 film, it will probably be remembered anyway.

#238. The Godfather, Part II (1974)
As part of Hollywood mythology, this is supposed to be the perfect sequel. I don’t know that I would necessarily agree, since there’s not a lot here that actually has anything to do with the first movie, so much as enriches certain characters and backstory from it. Part III is the true sequel, but then, that one doesn’t get any respect.

#239. A Clockwork Orange (1972)
Speaking of Kubrick, I guess no matter what they say, this is his true masterpiece, the movie that absolutely could not be made without him, a story that perfectly combines the twin concepts of anarchy and conformity.

#240. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
As part of Will Smith’s incredible hotstreak in the latter half of last decade, this is still a standout, a rare subdued performance whose only gimmick is that Smith is better than his circumstances. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much all of his movies…

#241. Mystery, Alaska (1999)
Russell Crowe headlines this ensemble drama about a small town’s pride, and how it can be entangled in petty things, which happen to involve hockey. One of the movie that solidified Crowe as one of my all-time favorites, where he, like Smith in the above movie, plays it a little more quietly than usual.

#242. Up in the Air (2009)
The movie that finally allowed critics to unabashedly embrace George Clooney as a movie star. Incredibly, even though he was born to be one, he spent years tooling away, and even when he caught his big break on TV (ER, in case you don’t remember), the transition to the big screen was a long and often painful one, and those pesky critics time and again found ways to downplay his natural charisma, until they finally found the movie where he finally worked for them. Up in the Air is up to the challenge, by the way.

#243. The Name of the Rose (1986)
Based on the best-known book by Umberto Eco, what you really need to know is that Sean Connery has a lot of fun in this movie, which probably did a good portion of saving his post-Bond career.

#244. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Another movie that’s made by its cast, which in this instance means Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett, who are forced to contend with Jude Law and Matt Damon. You could choose any of these actors to focus on, and you wouldn’t go wrong.

#245. Glory (1989)
Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington star, but this is basically the Black Regiment in the Civil War movie to me, a sort of gimmick that maybe doesn’t actually do as much as its reputation suggests, but is still an important film, one worth revisiting every now and then.

#246. The Commitments (1991)
Combine rowdy Irish and classic rock, and you can’t possibly go wrong, and this film doesn’t.

#247. Don Juan DeMarco (1995)
This one has long been a personal favorite, and why it’s been basically overlooked by everyone else can only be explained by the facts that Johnny Depp did not yet have the clout to interest audiences outside of gimmick roles (to be fair, he still doesn’t) and Marlon Brando at this point in his career had absolutely no respect at all. But combine the two, and you still have a surefire winner, no matter what people do (or don’t) say.

#248. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
One of my sister’s favorite movies and the source of a really adorable cat’s name, this is easily one of the best Pixar variations (y’know, combine unusual stars with a story that hides a Deeper Message), with John Goodman and Billy Crystal forming a surprising effective comic duo, much like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen before them.

#249. South Park: Bigger, Louder & Uncut (1999)
If The Simpsons Movie didn’t play to expectations, that’s exactly what this quick cash grab did for its predecessor (from a TV successor). But if South Park is not usually your cup of tea, then the movie ought to pull you in, including the instant classics “What Would Brian Boitano Do?” and “Blame Canada.”

#250. What About Bob? (1991)
You can actually think of this one as a live action Pixar movie before Pixar actually existed, with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss providing the mismatched laughs.

#251. The Patriot (2000)
How Heath Ledger ended up in the Hollywood mindset of the new Mel-Gibson-circa-Braveheart was by costarring in this actual Mel Gibson historical epic, set during the American Revolution. If you ask me, I actually prefer this to Glory, insofar as a modern perspective on old wars. Jason Isaacs memorably provides the nasty British snarl that earned the movie most of its complaints that it was “fair.” As a vivid slice of one version of events, though, it’s as good as moviemaking can be.

#252. K-PAX (2001)
A lot of the talk about this movie when it was released was based around the fact that Jeff Bridges had once starred in Starman, a nominally similar movie. I still haven’t seen that one, but I have this one, and Kevin Spacey provides one of his trademark roles in the lead, as a man who doesn’t quite fit in, but is eventually accepted in spite of his faults. Watch as the story both confirms and subverts your expectations.

#253. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Somewhere along the way, I became a true fan of this franchise, in the same way I love any franchise, by enjoying individual installments. This is the first one that didn’t have participation from James Cameron, but it doesn’t matter, because his replacements figure out that one of the key elements is actually watching how Skynet takes over, which provides an incredibly powerful ending to this one.

#254. Legends of the Fall (1994)
One of the movies where Brad Pitt played right into Hollywood’s hands, as a nominal but romantic outsider whose family undergoes a series of trials, and he suffers beautifully through all of them. Despite how that wording seems, I’m not really mocking this movie.

#255. U-Turn (1997)
Oliver Stone went from being one of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and beloved filmmakers to a goat fairly quickly. It’s too bad, too, because somewhere along the way, he easily became one its most interesting, and this is easily his most interesting film, a quirky examination of a small town Sean Penn has the sad misfortune of stumbling upon. On the plus side, he does get to stumble into Jennifer Lopez, still at a point in her career where it was okay to respect her as an artist, which ironically only became taboo once she proved she could sing, and then tried to make a career out of that, too. I swear, in some form of logic, that actually makes sense.

#256. Platoon (1986)
Hey! Well, here’s Stone when he really was loved, making Willem Defoe into a martyr in his best performance, smack dab in the middle of the Vietnam War.

#257. Red Dragon (2002)
Among all the Hannibal Lecter films, here, improbably, is my favorite, nominally a remake of Manhunter and “sequel” (or rather prequel) of Silence of the Lambs, with Edward Norton getting to try and figure out Anthony Hopkins. Also along for the ride is a game Ralph Fiennes.

#258. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
There was never a comic entity with a better sense of satire than the collective known as Monty Python, who even got away with skewering Jesus Christ, in this parody that follows a man who stumbles his way through a mediocre messianic career. Highlight: the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” the perfect singalong for all your crucifixions!

#259. Signs (2002)
Before his meltdown in the eyes of the public, M. Night Shyamalan snuck one last blockbuster past audiences, with the help of Mel Gibson (this is his last starring-role hit, too) and Joaquin Phoenix, an unusual and unexpectedly funny look at alien invasions.

#260. Planet of the Apes (1968)
Much as I like the Tim Burton version (can’t call it a remake, because like the two versions of True Grit, or The Maltese Falcon for that matter, the original is actually a book), I can’t deny good old Charlton Heston, who is the best reason to see this movie. Also, without it, you can’t really understand the parody The Simpsons did decades later…

#261. Hart’s War (2002)
This was another of the movies Hollywood did with Colin Farrell in the wake of Tigerland, and while Bruce Willis is supposedly the lead actor, it’s Farrell the film actually follows. Also present is Terrence Howard. If he was ever wondering why critics never really got behind him, even though they sometimes seemed like they might (such as with Hustle & Flow), Howard can always remind himself by remembering how they ignored him in this.

#262. The Lookout (2006)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has had a remarkably interesting career, but he officially became one of my favorite actors after this movie, in which his emotional performance plays well against his character’s desperation, as well as off of Jeff Daniels, an actor who doesn’t get any respect, even though he’s earned it time and again.

#263. 28 Days (2000)
No, not the Danny Boyle zombie flick, the detox drama starring Sandra Bullock, in one of the key performances that audiences overlooked on the road to the “surprise” successes of 2009 (The Proposal, The Blind Side), costarring Viggo Mortensen, Dominic West, Alan Tudyk, and Steve Buscemi.

#264. Shattered Glass (2003)
Speaking of overlooked acting showcases, here’s Hayden Christensen, supported by the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, Rosario Dawson, Steve Zahn, and Hank Azaria, game to prove despite reactions to his Star Wars performances that he really can act.

#265. Almost Famous (2000)
Kate Hudson and Billy Crudup run away with this movie, which sees Cameron Crowe reminiscing about his days writing for Rolling Stone, allowed to play all the awesome music he wants.

#266. Cloverfield (2008)
Like Signs, this movie is an unusual look at an alien invasion. It also happens to have J.J. Abrams involved, plus a terrific young cast that includes Odette Yustman. A lot of films, including the vastly overrated Blair Witch Project, have used the pseudo-documentary style, but this is probably the best of those efforts.

#267. The Book of Eli (2010)
Denzel Washington is an actor of singular magnetism, capable of making just about anything work (how is it that he and Tom Hanks have only worked together in Philadelphia?). Here he actually makes a credible action star, but the twist at the end is what really makes this movie. Costars Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis.

#268. The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968)
This otherwise entirely obscure movie is a family favorite, and my pick for the vintage Hollywood musical, filled to bursting with memorable songs, all built around the presidential contest between Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, of all things.

#269. The Godfather, Part III (1990)
Just as part of Hollywood mythology as Part II being the perfect sequel is that this one is an irredeemable dud, but it’s here where Al Pacino really gets to shine, really replaces Marlon Brando at the heart of the saga, as he attempts to go legit. But as with the rest of Michael Corleone’s life, it ain’t easy. Joe Mantegna, who went on to become Springfield’s most famous gangster in The Simpsons, is a standout. Sofia Coppola, who later became an acclaimed director, is the subject of much scorn in a minor supporting role, but she’s not really that bad. Sweetly innocent, really.

#270. Dead Poets Society (1989)
Combine the usual earnestness of Ethan Hawke with Robin Williams in one of his most charismatic performances, and you’ve got a winner.

#271. The Rundown (2003)
Dwayne Johnson has become a real movie star, even though audiences and filmmakers still don’t really know what to do with him. I would suggest they look no further than one of his earliest transition roles after his WWE career as The Rock. Among his excellent costars are Rosario Dawson, Christopher Walken, and Seann William Scott, who similarly stole Cop Out last year. Seriously, when he’s gonna get a break?

#272. Highlander (1986)
One of the best cinematic mythologies, Christopher Lambert is an immortal trying to survive not only an untrusting world, but others like him. I do think this is one property ripe for a clarifying remake, but the original, with its Queen soundtrack, Sean Connery, and Clancy Brown, is equally immortal.

#273. Superman III (1983)
I think it helps not to take this one too seriously, because it is seriously good, maybe not in comparison to the heavy mythology of its predecessors, but Richard Pryor is absolutely worth the price of admission. If you think this was a huge failure, consider that Paramount had every intention of basically doing the same thing with Eddie Murphy in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home three years later.

#274. Man of la Mancha (1972)
Sophia Loren and Peter O’Toole lend star power to this musical adaptation of Don Quixote. I guess this movie doesn’t have a very good reputation, but as always, I don’t really care.

#275. Yellow Submarine (1968)
The only Beatles movie I have seen to date is appropriately surrealistic, and animated! I can’t imagine how its live action predecessors can possibly improve on this.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Film Fan #176-225

#176. The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Chances are this was released about a decade too late to truly be relevant, but it was still amusing, with a format that was completely unexpected (the only real song was “Spider-Pig”!) and a complete story that really worked, a disaster for the town of Springfield and Simpsons family that Homer was responsible for and was able to fix (both of them). Anyway, I really like The Simpsons and so it was easy for me to like this, too. It was also about as far from a Pixar movie as it could get, too, and that was pretty awesome, too.

#177. Planet of the Apes (2001)
The Tim Burton remake with Mark Wahlberg and a host of familiar actors in fantastic and fantastically realistic chimp makeup deserves a lot more praise than it gets, but that’s what you get when there was no real interest for a remake in the first place. This one was released before the summer blockbuster tradition really made its comeback a few years later, and that might explain what happened to it. Best of all is the clever Charlton Heston cameo. Seriously, if you love nothing else about this film, you’ve got to love how Tim uses Chuck.

#178. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
A slightly less naïve version of Forrest Gump, you can also consider this Hollywood’s most shameless effort to milk audiences for what Brad Pitt was supposed to elicit out of them, especially as he ages backwards all the way to the young face he sported but never really capitalized on, a heartbreaker cross between Thelma and Louise (when he really did settle for that role) and Meet Joe Black (when audiences really rejected him for it) But then you’ve also got Cate Blanchett in what amounts to her most mainstream role, and a good running bit about a guy who keeps getting hit by lightning. A lot of the attention this one got was for the effects, but it’s the movie’s own magic that wins out.

#179. Erin Brokovich (2000)
Otherwise known as Julia Roberts Wins Her Oscar, with an unabashed performance and truly outstanding supporting actors around her, Albert Finney and Aaron Eckhart (no really, under all that mustache), who let her be just another actor, even if she does get to enjoy the most boobs she’s ever had onscreen.

#180. State of Play (2009)
Russell Crowe as a crusading journalist, attempting to take the opposite role he sported in The Insider, and finding corruption at every turn, as he tries to figure out what the heck Ben Affleck was up to. Turns out, Affleck isn’t as innocent as he first seems. But yeah, Rachel McAdams is.

#181. The Hunting Party (2007)
Hardly anyone’s heard of this one, and those who have probably only heard the tepid reviews, but the moment I saw the trailer, I knew that it was an important film. Richard Gere and Terrence Howard star in this story based on real events, about TV journalists who become embroiled in an improbable series of events, and a story that’s bigger than they can handle.

#182. In the Valley of Elah (2007)
Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Josh Brolin star in this drama that attempts to take a nuanced look at the war on terror. It’s one of those message films that drove audiences away with its politics, and on some level, it’s one of those films that seems like it’s got a certain message, but it’s really just an excellent and piercing narrative. I don’t necessarily agree with Jones when he suggests at the end of the film that the US is itself in trouble, but when a story makes you think anything at all, and this one does, I call that a success.

#183. Insomnia (2002)
Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank have the good fortune to star in Christopher Nolan’s first foray into regular Hollywood fair (that number would pretty much include this and, nominally, his two Batman films), after the success of Memento. This was during the period where Williams was receiving a renewed bit of critical acclaim, but I’d say the show really belongs to Pacino, who gives one of his classic haunted performances.

#184. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
During the period (like the one I just mentioned with Robin Williams, relatively brief) that Kevin Costner could do no wrong, he pulled off an American-accented version of a classic English character. But really, everyone let it slide because of Alan Rickman. That man really can do no wrong.

#185. Avatar (2009)
James Cameron, giant blue people, Pocahontas, the environment, billions of dollars at the box office, 3D…I still like to think of this as a film starring Sam Worthington and Zoë Saldana, with Worthington pulling off a challenging lead performance after a breakthrough supporting one in Terminator: Salvation, solidifying him as one of my new favorite actors. It’s easy to see why Saldana seemed so listless in Star Trek, meanwhile, when she had this huge challenge otherwise.

#186. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Known as the Kubrick film that Spielberg finished, starring that kid from The Sixth Sense…I think Jude Law stole it, with his charismatic Gigolo Joe, easily, and the journey Haley Joel Osment undertakes, and its mystical conclusion, works better than E.T.’s, a far better payoff. Plus the robot teddy bear! And how can you discount Robin Williams’ Doctor Know? As Joe puts it, “He’s who you see when you’ve got to know.”

#187. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
I love the first couple of acts, when Picard has to track down Data after the android runs amok on a surveillance mission, especially the chase sequence. I love Anthony Zerbe as Admiral Dougherty, and F. Murray Abraham as the villain, who is among the most straight-forward Star Trek villains since Christopher Lloyd in the third film. I love Donna Murphy. Oh, in the movie. The movie itself, well, I don’t know that Jonathan Frakes had as keen a grasp of this one as he did First Contact. But there’s still a lot to love here.

#188. Charlie Wilson’s War (2007)
Tom Hanks gets to play almost himself here, in a story that helps makes sense of how complicated the modern world really is, while Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman have a good time along with him. In fact, you might say having a good time is a little of why things get so screwy. But there’s food for thought. We’ll see.

#189. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Jack Nicholson in the prototypical Jack Nicholson role, before old age just made him seem crotchety, playing opposite Louise Fletcher, who would perfect this performance decades later in ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.’

#190. Toy Story 2 (1999)
I don’t mean to keep picking on Pixar, because this sequel (unlike this past summer’s kind of grossly overrated Pixar Effect threequel) really did have a lot of magic to it, with an inspired parody of one of the most celebrated sequels as Buzz learns his archnemesis is his father, and, hey, Stinky Pete. Plus I loved Robert Goulet singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

#191. Rent (2005)
The famed Broadway musical translates beautifully to the big screen, thanks in no small part to Rosario Dawson joining what is otherwise pretty much the original stage cast.

#192. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
It seemed like a sweet and innocent children’s story, in the beginning, and that’s because that’s exactly what it was, with child stars being children (but who would grow into real maturity soon enough). So let’s say Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane really run this one, and keep the magic alive. It’s the original John Williams score that really helps set the stage anyway.

#193. Meet Joe Black (1998)
Ah, yes! I just referenced this one back at #178! Here’s Brad Pitt in the apparently thankless role of traditional leading man, with Claire Forlani acting luminously as his love interest, and Anthony Hopkins lending the gravity as he rarely actually does. Usually he’s just the classical sounding guy, the one who lends credibility. But here he really does get to play the old and wizened man he actually is. It suits him, just as playing the ethereal, not-quite-what-he-seems does Pitt.

#194. Lords of Dogtown (2005)
As a portrait for alienated youths developing and thriving in their own culture, this one is fairly by the books. As a vehicle for Heath Ledger to unexpectedly stretch his character instincts, this one’s off the charts. Seriously, you don’t need his death or the Joker to enjoy this performance.

#195. The Bingo Long-Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976)
As a study of the Negro Leagues, it’s fascinating enough, but with a cast as terrific as Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones, and Richard Pryor, you don’t need to define it any further than great drama and a really good time.

#196. Brazil (1985)
Terry Gilliam in an early effort to really explore his potential is a wild trip, and one of the most awesome things about it is Robert De Niro casually appearing now and again as an unassuming sanitation worker. Anyone who claims they understand De Niro needs to see and really watch him here. And then watch and rewatch this movie until you can safely claim you understand it, too.

#197. Sideways (2004)
The cast is terrific and the camaraderie is, too, almost like visually drinking one of the many fine wines flowing across the screen as Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Oh, and Virginia Madsen try to figure out life.

#198. Body of Lies (2008)
Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, and Leonardo DiCaprio do their part in trying to make sense of the absurdly complicated modern world we live in, a sort of modern version of the historical epics Scott and sometimes Crowe have been doing.

#199. Juno (2007)
Ellen Page, Michael Cera, and J.K. Simmons have a good time exploring the angst of modern youth, reliable fodder for fiction of any stripe.

#200. North by Northwest (1959)
I don’t have a lot of experience with Hitchcock or Cary Grant, but I know this one really works. Plus it involves Mount Rushmore. I happen to love Mount Rushmore.

#201. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
In some of my younger years (we may even say circa 1994), this would have been in the top ten, easily. It made Jim Carrey a star, and it’s still a classic. I wouldn’t need Friends, the Scream movies, or Cougar Town to remember Courtney Cox. And Dan Marino will live forever. Laces out! Come to think of it, I may have to worm it back further up the list in some later edition…

#202. The Fifth Element (1997)
In fact, we’re entering into a whole stretch of films that’ve been nosed out of rightful spots…I’ve loved this one almost as much for almost as long. What is essentially almost a parody of a Bruce Willis film also does a good job by Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Ian Holm, and Gary Oldman. Did I mention Milla is perfect? It’s a silly movie, but it also has an awesome alien opera singer. It’s better than it seems, that kind of movie.

#203. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Without this, Will Ferrell would never have become a big star. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Also, Mike Myers becomes an icon twice over, and Elizabeth Hurley is guaranteed immortality. Plus Seth Green almost definitely owes his career to this film.

#204. Galaxy Quest (1999)
Somehow, even with Home Improvement, The Santa Clause, and Toy Story, I still think I will always best remember Tim Allen for this Star Trek spoof, with Alan Rickman in another classic role, while Enrico Colantoni and Sam Rockwell basically steal the movie in supporting roles.

#205. American History X (1998)
Edward Norton in what will probably remain his career defining role, absent a lot of the gimmicks he’s employed in other famous roles, except that of a reformed Neo Nazi who finds his way back and then has to help his kid brother do the same. One of the few movies Avery Brooks, the commanding lead actor from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, managed to make, too, and he makes the most of it as Norton’s spiritual mentor.

#206. Liar, Liar (1997)
A movie my brother loved so much, he couldn’t stop watching it. So it’s possible to love a Jim Carrey movie even if you’re not technically obsessed with Jim Carrey, and this is an easy one to love, and even become obsessed with, in many ways more a pattern for his later comedic performances than Ace Ventura (see: Yes Man, Fun With Dick and Jane), with Maura Tierney and Cary Elwes (hilariously butchering Carrey’s “The Claw”) trying their best to keep up. Some of the best stuff is in the outtakes that follow the feature presentation…

#207. A Shot in the Dark (1964)
The Clouseau film that basically set the standard for all the Clouseau films is by definition a classic, wouldn’t you say?

#208. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Likewise with this debut Tarantino, which if it doesn’t have quite the complete thrust of later films by the director, coasts amiably on a terrific cast, great dialogue, and a clever story, the three keys to any Quentin Tarantino masterpiece.

#209. The Santa Clause (1994)
Tim Allen tackles the ultimate gimmick in his quest to break out of television and become a movie star, and it totally works, because as it turns out, Tim Allen was born to play Santa Claus. Who knew? You just have to see it to believe it.

#210. Mortal Kombat (1995)
A direct product of my particular childhood, since this still to this day defines the martial arts flick for me, even though it’s based on a video game. I loved the game, and loved this movie, with a handful of classic performances (notably Cary Tagawa, Christopher Lambert, Linden Ashby, and Talisa Soto, plus the immortal Trevor Goddard as Kano). The sequel wasn’t as good, but it did have Brian Thompson, and retained the essentials (Soto and Robin Shou, the nominal lead actor).

#211. The Negotiator (1998)
The acting showdown between Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson is enough to make this memorable, but the story and the supporting cast (including perennial standouts Ron Rifkin and Paul Giamatti) are equally gripping.

#212. Schindler’s List (1993)
Spielberg assured his legacy when he made it, and Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes assured their careers when they did.

#213. Following (1999)
This is Christopher Nolan’s first movie, and you can see shades of it all the way through to Inception (you may hear a familiar name among lead characters if you’ve ever seen it). A clever study of identity, just in case you were wondering.

#214. Hoodwinked (2006)
One of my favorite computer animated movies (a sequel has been delayed for a while now), packed with more cleverness than any of the Shreks or Toy Storys, with the only problem being a lack of a truly lead character, at least a really good one. Plenty of excellent support, though, including a goat who is (or may not be) cursed to sing everything he says. Andy Dick and Patrick Warburton are among the voice actors.

#215. Hamlet (1990)
Mel Gibson proves his dramatic worth (if not his PR skills) in this adaptation of the Shakespeare staple, and that’s the best reason to see this one.

#216. Cast Away (2000)
Tom Hanks in his acting tour de force, proving he can make it interesting acting against a volley ball (Wilson!), while Helen Hunt proves a perfect romantic foil for a story that doesn’t take the obvious way out once Hanks returns to civilization.

#217. Grumpier Old Men (1995)
Lemmon, Mathieu, Burgess Meredith, and the whole cast work absolutely wonderfully together in this sequel that’s better than the original, proving that a little snow can sometimes be a good thing indeed.

#218. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Joseph Fiennes’ best chance to prove his own cinematic worth is really stolen from him by an enchanting Gwyneth Paltrow, while Geoffrey Rush and Ben Affleck offer ample support. If Shakespeare were writing in modern times, he might do something like this himself. Though the title would be a little awkward.

#219. Apollo 13 (1995)
A fantastic score ushers Tom Hanks into space (and cruelly keeps Gary Sinese right here on Earth) in this dramatic retelling of the failed attempt to reach the moon again, but the successful effort at bringing the crew back home. An early Ron Howard blockbuster.

#220. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
For a lot of people, this was merely the fourth Lethal Weapon, but for me, it was actually the first, so I enjoyed Chris Rock just as much as any of the established cast, though Mel Gibson fighting Jet Li was pretty awesome, too.

#221. Patch Adams (1998)
Robin Williams had reached the end of another phase of his career, and critics really hated to see him go. They hated seeing him right out the door! They hated saying goodbye! They hated being the ones to relay the message! Anyway, I find it to be perfectly enjoyable, and I loved discovering Philip Seymour Hoffman in it, and I liked Monica Potter, too, and not just as a slightly older version of Emma Roberts.

#222. The Insider (1999)
Combine Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, and Christopher Plummer in any feature, and you’ve got a winning cast. No, please, do it again, Hollywood.

#223. Road to Perdition (2002)
You’ve got Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, and some of the best-ever cinematography. You’ve got a story of redemption, a father and son team, a son who isn’t a distraction from the rest of the movie. Why does this movie not have more love?

#224. Walk the Line (2005)
I actually didn’t hate Reece Witherspoon in this, and this was a first. But I loved Joaquin Phoenix in it, and I love Johnny Cash. The origins of the title song, as depicted in this movie, are some real movie magic, too. Crazy Heart was like the coda to what seemed like the inevitable conclusion to this film. But Johnny had other ideas.

#225. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Leonard Nimoy waits until one of his last performances to give one of his best portrayals of Spock, or at least what I would call one of his most cinematic, while Christopher Plummer steals the movie as a bold Klingon. It would have to be Plummer for something like that to happen. As a final goodbye to the complete original cast, it’s pretty nice, too.
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