Favorite Albums of All Time: 20-11


Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71 30-21
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

20

Artist: The Avalanches
Title: Since I Left You
Year: 2000
Favorite Tracks:

  • Since I Left You
  • Two Hearts in 3/4 Time
  • Flight Tonight
  • Electricity
  • Frontier Psychiatrist
  • ETOH

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 2000s

Thoughts: This is by far the best album I serendipitously discovered by randomly checking it out from the library.  The Avalanches groundbreaking debut is a masterpiece of “plunderphonics,” dance music, and disco that still sounds fresh today. Also, just watch the totally bonkers “Frontier Psychiatrist” video.

Bonus Sounds: Fans of The Avalanches waited a long time for a second album, Wild Flowers, which came out in 2016.  This was followed by We Will Always Love You in 2020.


19

Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: What’s Going On
Year: 1971
Favorite Tracks:

  • What’s Going On
  • Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)
  • God is Love
  • Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990s?

Thoughts: Marvin Gaye’s magnum opus was recognized by Rolling Stone as the number one album of all time in 2020. The song cycle of socially conscious soul and R&B remains (sadly) relevant.

Bonus Sounds: My first encounter with Marvin Gaye was his 1982 album Midnight Love, the last release before his death, which includes the classic “Sexual Healing.”


18

Artist: Stereolab 
Title: Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Year :1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • Metronomic Underground
  • Cybele’s Reverie,
  • Les Yper-Sound
  • The Noise of Carpet
  • Emperor Tomato Ketchup
  • Anonymous Collective

The First Time I Heard This Album …: circa 2004

Thoughts: A co-worker introduced me to Stereolab and boy howdy, I’m glad he did!  This album is a standout collection of a career of catchy and experimental art rock tracks with electronic loops and samples.

Bonus Sounds: My Stereolab Music Discovery has it all.


17

Artist: The Pogues
Title: Rum, Sodomy and The Lash
Year: 1985
Favorite Tracks:

  • The Old Main Drag
  • The Wild Cats of Kilkenny
  • I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day
  • A Pair of Brown Eyes
  • Sally MacLennane
  • Dirty Old Town
  • The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: The Pogues at the their most musically raw, albeit produced by Elvis Costello, while performing story songs that get at the aching heart of humanity. The album also features bassist Cait O’Riordan’s only lead vocal on “I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day.”

Bonus Sounds: The Pogues peaked in the mid-to-late 80s but Peace and Love (1989), Hell’s Ditch (1990), and even Pogue Mahone (1996) have some good tracks.


16

Artist: The Stone Roses
Title: The Stone Roses 
Year: 1989
Favorite Tracks:

  • I Wanna Be Adored
  • She Bangs the Drums
  • Waterfall
  • (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
  • Shoot You Down
  • I Am the Resurrection

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1990

Thoughts: One of the first “alternative” albums I listened to after going through my high school Classic Rock phase.  The psychedelic sound drew me in and the chiming guitars, harmonies, and anthemic song structure keeps me listening.

Bonus Sounds: The Stone Roses released only one other album that wasn’t as good as their debut, but there’s a lot of good music to be found from the late 80s/early 90s Madchester sound by bands such as Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans, and James.


15

Artist: Radiohead
Title: OK Computer
Year:  1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Paranoid Android
  • Exit Music (For a Film)
  • Let Down
  • Karma Police
  • No Surprises

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 2003

Thoughts:  I was late to this album but it quickly became an all time favorite and Radiohead one of my favorite bands of the Nineties and Oughts.

Bonus Sounds: Pablo Honey (1993), The Bends (1995),  Kid A (2000), Hail to the Thief (2003),  and In Rainbows (2007) are all part of Radiohead’s excellent discography.


14

Artist: R.E.M.
Title: Lifes Rich Pageant
Year: 1986
Favorite Tracks:

  • Begin the Begin
  • Fall On Me
  • Underneath the Bunker
  • The Flowers of Guatemala
  • I Believe
  • Swan Swan H
  • Superman

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1989

Thoughts: R.E.M. at the peak of their “College Rock” sound before moving onto different styles and greater commercial success.  The vocals are clearer for ever which is important because the lyrics are more topical and political.  But the strengths are still melodies and jangling guitars.

Bonus Sounds: R.E.M.’s run of Chronic Town E.P (1982), Murmur (1983), Reckoning (1984), Fables of the Reconstruction (1985),  Lifes Rich Pageant (1986), Document (1987), and Green (1988) remains one of the great opening strings of any band (and, hey, some people think their early 90s albums are good too).


13

Artist: Björk
Title : Homogenic
Year: 1997
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hunter
  • Joga
  • Bachelorette
  • 5 Years
  • All is Full of Love

The First Time I Heard This Album …: late 90s

Thoughts: Björk’s third album is the peak of her most accessible period despite it being undoubtedly strange art rock made danceable with electronic sounds.

Bonus Sounds: My favorite Björk albums are her 90s releases Debut (1993), Post (1995), and Homogenic (1997), but she continues to make extremely creative and artistic music including this year’s Fossora.


12

Artist: Prince and The Revolution
Title: Purple Rain
Year:  1984
Favorite Tracks:

  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • Computer Blue
  • When Doves Cry
  • I Would Die 4 U
  • Purple Rain

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1984

Thoughts: Prince rose to be the biggest thing in the world with a hit movie and a hit soundtrack that contains some his most memorable songs.  I remember listening to this as a kid and being creeped out by the backmasking on “Darling Nikki.”  But a lot of the rest of the album was a lot of fun and these songs remain my soundtrack of the Summer of 1984.

Bonus Sounds: OK, I’m going to make the announcement here, because there is so much of Prince’s music I haven’t even heard: in 2023 I plan to listen to every album Prince and his various band’s and projects ever released.  Watch this space for the full reviews.


11

Artist: Fishbone
Title: Truth and Soul
Year: 1988
Favorite Tracks:

  • Freddie’s Dead
  • Ma & Pa
  • Deep Inside
  • Bonin’ in the Boneyard
  • One Day
  • Subliminal Fascism
  • Ghetto Soundwave
  • Change

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1991

Thoughts: This ska/funk/hardcore/et al band performed at the first “real” concert I ever attended in 1991. This album is the strongest and most cohesive album Fishbone ever released. It mixes a strong social message with a fun party vibe.

Bonus Sounds: Fishbone (1985), In Your Face (1986), and The Reality of My Surroundings (1991)  are all great.  After that, they got a bit too weird.

Movie Review: See How They Run (2022)


Title: See How They Run
Release Date: 9 September 2022
Director: Tom George
Production Company: Searchlight Pictures | DJ Films | TSG Entertainment
Summary/Review:

I saw this movie described as “the Wes Anderson-ification of Knives Out” and I can’t shake it out of my head.  It’s definitely a stylish and quirky take on the ensemble cast whodunit mystery and while not exactly like Anderson’s work, it does give one a sense of what it’s like.  It’s also a meta-commentary on detective stories, particularly Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, with the West End theater where it is performed becoming the site of the murder mystery.  The Mousetrap, of course,  is the longest running play in the world having over 28,000 performances at the time I write this. I saw it myself about 25 years ago, and thus am solemnly sworn not to reveal the killer.

Meta-commentary can be a knife’s-edge of whether it will work or not, so fortunately See How They Run also has some enjoyable performances. Set in 1953 when the company of The Mousetrap is celebrating a mere 100 performances, the mystery begins with the murder of the loutish American film director Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) who is working on a movie adaptation of The Mousetrap even though he’s never watched the play.  The investigation of the murder falls to the world weary and alcoholic Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and his chatty, wise-cracking assistant Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan). Suspects/potential victims include theater producer Petula Spencer (Ruth Wilson), script writer Mervyn Cocker-Norris (David Oyelowo), and real-life figures such as film producer John Woolf (Reece Shearsmith), David Attenborough (Harris Dickinson), Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda), and Agatha Christie herself (Shirley Henderson).

The movie is not much of a mystery nor is it really a period piece as it’s full of deliberate anachronisms.  The humor is hit or miss, but it’s mostly an enjoyable 90 minutes.  To be honest, Ronan’s performance is delightful and she really carries the film.  Luckily, she’s on screen for most of it.

Rating: ***

 

Movie Review: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)


Title: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Director: Ryan Coogler
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Summary/Review:

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a sequel that has to contend with death of it’s charismatic star and generational talent, Chadwick Boseman.  The movie begins with T’Challa dying of an incurable illness much like Boseman in real life, handling the problem with greater gravitas and respect for the deceased actor than Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker did for Carrie Fisher.  The women of Wakanda step into the void both as leaders of Wakanda and as the series’ protagonists, particularly scientist and T’Challa’s sister Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright), warrior general Okoye (Danai Gurira), Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and former spy and romantic partner of T’Challa Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o).

T’Challa’s opening Wakanda and its technology to the world has the downside of world powers seeking sources of vibranium.  This in turn leads to the emergence of the Talokan, another hidden society of people descended from the Maya whose discovery of a source of vibranium and the herb that grows from gives the ability to live in a kingdom under the ocean.  Their king, Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), seeks an alliance with Wakanda to destroy the rest of the world.  With Shuri unwilling to carry out mass destruction, the two kingdoms go to war. Wakanda and Talokan each offer an interesting perspective on how colonialism has hurt the non-white people of the world and the lasting trauma contributing to ongoing violence. Namor is also like Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in the first film in that he’s a villain with a very good point, and the question remains how to channel that revolutionary fervor to constructive rather than destructive ends.

There’s also a sideplot with Shuri and Okoye needing to protect a scientist from Namor because she’s invented a device that can locate vibranium.  It turns out that the scientist is Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne)  a teenage prodigy who studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This means that as a Bostonian we finally get to see the greater Boston area in the MCU, although they never quite make it across the bridge to Boston proper.  Riri also is able to build her own armored suit like Tony Stark and takes on the superhero name Ironheart.  I have a feeling that with Cassie Lang, Kate Bishop, America Chavez, Love, Kamala Khan, Riri, and others that we’re totally being set up for a Young Avengers team.

The original Black Panther is still the best movie in the MCU, in my opinion, and Wakanda Forever had a lot to live up to under the best conditions.  At nearly three hours in length, it is like a lot of MCU movies in being just too long.  I also feel that despite the great performances by all the stars that the movie suffers from not having a single protagonist for much of the first two acts as well as too many sideplots.  That aside, it is still an enjoyable and heartfelt film and a worth successor.

Rating: ***1/2

 

MASTER LIST OF MCU REVIEWS

 

 

Movie Review: 35 Up (1991)


Title: 35 Up
Release Date:August 29, 1991
Director: Michael Apted
Production Company: Granada Television
Summary/Review:

It feels natural to refer to the participants in The Up Series as children, but 35 Up is the point where there are more films showing them as adults than as children.  In fact, they are settling into adulthood with children, new homes, settled career paths, and the passing of parents being common themes.  This film brings the series into the 1990s, which as I often joke with my kids, feels like yesterday. And yet, as recent as 1991 feels to me, this is actually the halfway point of The Up Series thus far, with four more films to come.

Charles is still not participating, sending only a photograph, as he now works as a producer for the BBC but does not want to appear in front of the camera.  Symon is also missing, as is Peter, who suffered a lot of blowback for his rather anodyne criticism of Margaret Thatcher in 28 Up. John, who presumably approves of Thatcherism, is back after missing the previous film.  He’s married now and a barrister and mainly appears to promote his charity to support people in Bulgaria.  He does seem like less of a prat.  Andrew, the other boy from a prosperous background, has settled in a less flashy but comfortable life also working in law, and father to two sons.  He even speaks out in favor of more taxes for social services! Suzy is also doing well in her marriage to solicitor Rupert and they now have children, although Suzy remains wary of revealing too much.

Tony is doing well and his wife Debbie is more prominent in the interviews.  I like that we get to see both of them working as taxi drivers in London.  Paul’s wife Susan also has more to say in this film, although she mostly talks about Paul.  You have to feel for Paul because his lack of confidence is so strong after his troubled childhood, but he nevertheless seems to have a strong marriage, loves his children, and skill as a bricklayer (even if he fails to run his own company).  Nick’s wife Jackie appeared prominently in 28 Up, but didn’t like how she appeared and that viewers thought their marriage was doomed so she sits this one out.  Nick, on his own, still remains one of the most observant participants on how the whole experiment affects the people involved and is good at sharing his experience. I continue to be surprised that Jackie, Lynn, and Sue are still being grouped together for their profiles, although their different stories are starting to emerge.

Two of the participants remain unmarried.  Bruce, who seems so kind and thoughtful, has become a teacher in Bangladesh, somehow fulfilling his childhood goal of becoming a missionary in a less colonialist way.  Neil, still struggling with mental health and stability, nevertheless seems to be in a slightly better place having found a place to live in a council estate on the Shetland Islands and engaging with the community by directing pantomime shows. The stories of Bruce and Neil are ones that have the most intrigue of what comes next.

Rating: *****

Book Review: Conscience and Courage by John Hawkins


Author: John Hawkins
Title: Conscience and Courage: How Visionary CEO Henri Termeer Built a Biotech Giant and Pioneered the Rare Disease Industry
Publication Info: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (2019)
Summary/Review:

This is a book I read for research at work.  It is a biography of the Dutch-born Henri Termeer who emigrated to the US to study at UVA’s Darden School of Business.  He then entered into the emerging biotech industry the blossomed in the Boston and Cambridge area in the 1980s. Termeer joined the startup Genzyme Corporation in the early 80s and soon rose to president. (Personal note: when I first moved to Boston in the late 90s I worked as a temp at Genzyme).

Termeer focused Genzyme on orphan diseases so-called because even though they are life-threatening illnesses they affect fewer than 200,000 people and thus there is not a lot of people and resources put toward treating the diseases.  Termeer’s patient-focused approach won him accolades due to the life-saving nature of Genzyme’s treatments.  But the success came with the high costs of research and development, expensive ingredients, and only a small number of patients to share the costs of some of the most expensive drugs in the world.

Recommended books:

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Dance Me Outside (1994)


Title:Dance Me Outside
Release Date: October 16, 1994
Director: Bruce McDonald
Production Company: Yorktown Productions | Shadow Shows | Cineplex Odeon Films
Summary/Review:

The main plot of Dance Me Outside is the murder of an indigenous woman by a white man on a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario, and the efforts of the community to find justice and revenge.  But several stories interweave with the main plot.  The central character is Silas Crow (Ryan Black), a directionless young man delaying his application for a college automobile mechanics course.  His activist girlfriend Sadie Maracle (Jennifer Podemski) breaks up with him because she doesn’t want to get trapped in the rowdy lifestyle of Silas and his goofy best friend Frank Fencepost (Adam Beach).

Meanwhile, their friend Gooch (Michael Greyeyes) returns after three years in prison hoping to revive his romance with Silas’ sister Illianna (Lisa LaCroix).  But in the intervening years Ilianna has married a good-natured but clueless white man Robert McVey (Kevin Hicks).  When they come to visit, the unfinished business between Gooch and Ilianna is apparent.

The movie is based on a novel by W.P. Kinsella (I’ve read a lot of his baseball fiction but was only aware of his work with First Nations characters) and directed by Bruce McDonald, so it definitely has a white perspective despite the indigenous cast.  Nevertheless, it is a good mix of humor and drama that captures aspects of life on the reservation. And since it was made in the early 1990s, the grunge aesthetic is strong.  As an added bonus, the great Keith Secola’s song “NDN Cars” is not only in the soundtrack but apparently was written for this movie!

Rating: ***1/2

Album of the Week: Revolver (Super Deluxe) by The Beatles


Album: Revolver (Super Deluxe)
Artist: The Beatles
Release Date: August 05, 1966, Super Deluxe release: October 28, 2022
Label: Calderstone Productions Limited
Favorite Tracks:

  • Eleanor Rigby
  • I’m Only Sleeping
  • Yellow Submarine
  • Good Day Sunshine
  • And Your Bird Can Sing
  • I’ve Got to Get You Into My Life
  • Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Paperback Writer
  • Rain

Thoughts:

A few years back I reviewed the Super Deluxe re-release of The Beatles’ “White Album” so I figured I’d do the same for Revolver.  This is, in fact, my favorite Beatles album and we’ll be seeing in it in my All Time Favorite Albums countdown in a couple of weeks. Revolver is well-known as the transitional album for The Beatles from the lovable moptops of Beatlemania to a studio-oriented art rock group.  The new instruments, studio experimentation, and influence of psychedelic drugs and philosophy are all well documented, so I won’t get into that here. It’s a bit mind-boggling that the Beatles were on their final U.S. tour when this was released, including their final show in San Francisco, but were performing songs from 2-3 years earlier because Revolver could just not be played lived with the technology og the time.

Here are some reflections  and personal memories on the songs:

  • “Taxman” – probably the one song on the album I don’t love because it’s rich people whining about having to pay their share to society, and thus The Beatles’ most conservative song.  It’s got a great groove though, so it’s easy to ignore the lyrics.
  • “Eleanor Rigby” – when I was a kid my family had the “Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine” 45 and I used to listen to it a lot!  The song about lonely people was always very poignant, even as a kid.
  • “I’m Only Sleeping” – Kind of a theme song for me as I, like John Lennon, enjoy spending time in bed.
  • “Yellow Submarine” – even before listening to the single, I remember the neighbors putting this on their old stereo system and all the kids dancing around.  Kind of perfect that it was already a classic children’s song a decade after it was released.
  • “She Said She Said” – kind of weird that this song is inspired by Peter Fonda being obnoxious at a party.  Can’t imagine what young Beatles fans who’d never used drugs thought of this one in 1966.
  • “Good Day Sunshine”  – my sister made a short documentary about newspaper hawkers in Boston when she was in grad school and used this as the theme song.
  • “And Your Bird Can Sing” – kind of the perfect power pop tune, and ideologically opposite to “Taxman.”
  • “I Want To Tell You” is a great George tune that fits in the style of “Paperback Writer” and the Monkee’s “Last Train to Clarksville”
  • “Got To Get You Into My Life” – I’ve always loved this song and when I was a kid I didn’t even know it was a Beatles song because it was played on the radio all the time.  Later I learned that it was released as a single in the US in 1976 and somehow fit in perfectly with 70s soul.
  • “Tomorrow Never Knows” – I remember this being discussed in the documentary The Compleat Beatles and thinking it was so weird and wonderful and just needing to hear the whole song.  Only this year I learned that the “seagull” sounds are actually recordings of Paul McCartney laughing that were speed up and played backwards.

In addition to a remastered version of Revolver, that sounds excellent, the Super Deluxe edition includes two albums of demos and outtakes from all of the songs, the complete album in mono, and the “Paperback Writer”/”Rain” single remastered in stereo and mono.  It’s all good!

 

Rating: *****

Album of the Week:  2022

January

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March

April

May

July

August

September

October

November

Song of the Week: “Problems” by Floating Points


Floating Points – “Problems”

Floating Points is the nom-de-tune of the British electronic music producer, DJ, and musician Sam Shepherd.

Song of the Week 2022

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

Movie Review: 28 Up (1984)


Title: 28 Up
Release Date: 20 November 1984
Director: Michael Apted
Production Company: Granada Television
Summary/Review:

28 Up is the movie that Roger Ebert put on his ten favorite movies list. I’ve kind of dodged the issue by putting the entire series as one entry into my personal top ten, but 28 Up is definitely a landmark of the series.  All the participants have come into their own as adults in this entry and we’re beginning to see the ways that they’ve been molded by their childhood and how they’ve defied societal expectations.

Tony, the working class kid from the East End, has become quite prosperous as a London taxi driver.  When he was younger he wanted to be a jockey, a taxi driver, and an actor, and by 28 he has achieved all of those things.  The fact that he wasn’t a very successful jockey or that he only plays bit parts in TV shows doesn’t bother him as he’s achieved his goal, which I think is a good way of looking at life.  On the other end of the spectrum, Bruce, who has a child at a militaristic boarding school wanted to be a missionary, has instead become a socialist and now teaches at Tony’s old school in the East End.

Two of the wealthier boys, John and Charles, declined to participate in this movie (Charles will never return).  The remaining wealthy boy Andrew seems, maybe not humbled, but more grounded than in previous episodes and married to “a Yorkshire lass.” Suzy is also happily married and a parent after being completely cynical about those things in 21 Up.  In fact, many of the participants are married and interviews with the wives (and Suzy’s husband) give new perspectives to Britons of their generation.  I know that Tony’s wife Debbie practically becomes a participant in future films, but her first appearance here was actually less significant than I remembered.

Probably the biggest disappointment is that three of the four women – Jackie, Lynn, and Sue – are still being interviewed and profiled together.  Apted would receive a lot of criticism (including from the participants) for his sexist angle in portraying the working class women and it is fully deserved.  I know from later installments that all three of these women have fascinating insights so it’s disappointing that they don’t get an adequate share of time.

Finally there’s the issue of Neil, whose life story is among the most compelling.  In this film we see him living as an itinerant in rural Scotland, clearly suffering from mental illness and isolated from society.  Many viewers in 1984 feared that Neil would die or take his own life, but later films showed that Neil is full of surprises.

Rating: *****

 

Favorite Movies of All Time: 20-11


Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to watch lots of movies considered to be among the best of all time.  Now, for the first time, I’ve made my own list of favorite movies of all time.  Every other Wednesday throughout 2022, I will be revealing ten movies in my list of 250 Favorite Movies of All Time.

250-241 200-190 150-141 100-91 50-41
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81 40-31
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71 30-21
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101 60-51

 

20

Title: Grave of the Fireflies
Director: Isao Takahata
Cast: Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Yoshiko Shinohara, and Akemi Yamaguchi
Year: 1988
When did I first watch this movie?: April 2021
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A heartbreaking story of the cost of war on the most vulnerable people as well as a sweet story of sibling love.


19

Title: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, and Douglas Rain
Year: 1968
When did I first watch this movie?: early 1980s
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Mind-blowing visuals, perfect scoring, limited but pointed dialogue, and a scene where the death of a murderous computer makes you cry are reasons why this is an all time classic.


18

Title: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott
Year: 1981
When did I first watch this movie?: 1981, in the theater
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The memory of watching this movie with my sister every time it returned to $1 second run movie theater alone would make this one of my favorites, but it’s also a great action/adventure/comedy/special effects spectacular.


17

Title: Sunset Boulevard
Director: Billy Wilder
Cast:William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, and Jack Webb
Year: 1950
When did I first watch this movie?: December 2019
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: “Yep, that’s me. You probably wonder how I got myself into this predicament,” is something you can imagine William Holden’s body floating in a pool saying as he narrates this caustic and funny deconstruction of the Hollywood mythos.


16

Title: Ikiru
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Shinichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka, Minoru Chiaki, Bokuzen Hidari, and Miki Odagiri
Year:1952
When did I first watch this movie?: March 2020
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Kurosawa’s story of a dying bureaucrat trying to make some meaning of his life is a film that deeply appreciates what it means to be human.


15

Title: Donnie Darko
Director: Richard Kelly
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell, Katharine Ross, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Stu Stone, Daveigh Chase, James Duval, and Seth Rogen
Year: 2001
When did I first watch this movie?: 2004, the director’s cut in the theater
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I kind of relate to the Catholic school kid in the suburbs in the 1980s aspects of this movie.  Lucky for me I never had to deal with time travel, aircraft disasters, or creepy rabbits.


14

Title: Delicatessen
Director: Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Cast: Dominique Pinon, Marie-Laure Dougnac, and Jean-Claude Dreyfus
Year: 1991
When did I first watch this movie?: June 2003
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A darkly funny take on post-apocalyptic survival films in the quirky Caro/Jeunet style.


13

Title: Duck Soup
Director: Leo McCarey
Cast: Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo), Margaret Dumont, Louis Calhern, Raquel Torres and Edgar Kennedy
Year: 1933
When did I first watch this movie?: 1992
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: The Marx Brothers funniest and most satirical film.


12

Title: Genghis Blues
Director: Roko Belic
Cast: Paul Pena, Kongar-ol Ondar
Year: 1999
When did I first watch this movie?: 1999, in the theater
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A blind Blues musician from the US discovers the traditional music of Tuva and travels with a team of eccentric people to participate in a throat-singing competition.


11

Title: It’s a Wonderful Life
Director: Frank Capra
Cast:James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen, and Gloria Grahame
Year: 1946
When did I first watch this movie?: circa 1984
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: A movie that can survive the sheer repetition of its multiple holiday season airings back in the 80s and 90s and still be a joy to behold is a great film.