Movie Review: The Exiles (1961)


Title: The Exiles
Release Date: July 13, 1961
Director: Kent Mackenzie
Production Company: Contemporary Films
Summary/Review:

In the early 1960s, when Native people were still routinely the villains of Hollywood Westerns, this independent film captured a day in the life of young adult Native Americans who have left their reservations for life in Los Angeles.  The movie was filmed on location in the Bunker Hill district of the city before shiny office tours replaced derelict Victorian houses, although there are some elements still recognizable today such as the Angels Flight incline railway and the Grand Central Market.

The film is kind of a hangout movie with no real plot.  The documentary-style movie follows several Native people as they socialize, drink, and finish the evening with a drum circle on top of a hill overlooking the city. In short, it’s pretty much how any group of 20-somethings might spend a  Friday night, with elements of Native tradition setting it apart from other forms of contemporary youth culture. It really feels like a remarkable document of a time and place and an honest movie at a time when Hollywood specialized in artifice.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Airplane! (1980)


Title: Airplane!
Release Date: July 2, 1980
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Production Company: Paramount Pictures | Howard W. Koch Productions
Summary/Review:

The team of Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker didn’t invent the spoof movie but their style of clever wordplay and visual gags set a pattern that’s still being followed 40+ years later.  This is a movie I remember watching again and again in my childhood (mostly in an edited for tv version, more on that later) and still remember most of the gags revisiting the movie all these years later. Nevertheless, there are so many jokes packed into this movie that you always notice something new.

Now I’ll admit that there is an element of nostalgia to this movie. Air travel has changed so much in 40 years and there are references in this movie that a younger viewer just might not get the jokes.  As always with 70s/80s comedy there’s a concern with racially and sexually insensitive jokes and Airplane! has a few (African villagers playing basketball, jiggling breasts) but fortunately not too many as much of the humor is situational rather than stereotypical. I won’t excuse Airplane for being “of its time” because I remember people in the 80s criticizing the movie for being crass.

I first watched this movie on TV in the mid-80s and I think watched a video tape of that version for years afterwards.  The TV version not only cut out the raunchier parts but actually added scenes.  I particularly remember the “Hi, Jack!” gag and more scenes with the children acting like they’re grownup business travelers.  I found a compilation of the cut scenes on YouTube and remember every single one vividly.  I would totally watch a cut of the movie that reincorporated these scenes into the theatrical version.

Rating: ****

Favorite Movies of All Time: 240-231


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.


240

Title: A Grand Day Out
Director: Nick Park
Cast: Peter Sallis, Peter Hawkins
Year: 1990
When did I first watch this movie?: At an animation festival at the Williamsburg Theater in Virginia, circa 1991.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This was my introduction to Wallace & Gromit and the greatness of Nick Park and Aardman Animations. Besides, I love cheese and I love travel, so a movie about “cheese tourism” was targeted at me.


239

Title: Lewis & Clark – The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
Director: Ken Burns
Cast: Hal Holbrook, Sam Waterston, Adam Arkin, Murphy Guyer, Matthew Broderick, Kevin Conway, Gene Jones, Tantoo Cardinal
Year: 1997
When did I first watch this movie?: I watched this when it premiered on PBS on November 4-5, 1997.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: As someone who is passionate for history and for films, it’s not surprising that I’ve long been impressed by Ken Burns many historical documentaries.  I watched many, but not all, of Burns’ works and I think this one is emblematic of how he explores historical events while also embracing the possibilities of beauty in film.  I’m also fond of The Civil War (1990),  Baseball (1994), Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2005), The War (2007), The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009), and Prohibition (2011).


238

Title: Beauty and the Beast
Director: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Cast: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury
Year: 1991
When did I first watch this movie?: When I was in college in the early 90s, I think?
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Many people consider this the all-time best animated feature from the Disney studios, and with good reason. First, there is the music created by lyricist Howard Ashman (who tragically died before the movie’s completion and composer Alan Menken.  Then there’s the seamless blend of classic Disney animation styles with new digital effects.  And Belle was really a new type of character for women in Disney, escaping patriarchal stereotypes to be her own her with her own identity.

 


237

Title: Adaptation
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep,  Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Year: 2002
When did I first watch this movie?: 2007, although I saw it in a movie theatre so it must’ve been re-released at Brattle Theatre or someplace like that.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Charlie Kaufman’s work as a screenwriter and director has produced some of the most inventive and just plain weird movies of the past few decades.  We’ll be seeing several of his works on this list. Adaptation is great because it shows the writing process and inner life of an introverted person. It also deconstructs and questions the “truth” of fiction.


236

Title: The Saddest Music in the World
Director: Guy Maddin
Cast: Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox, Ross McMillan, Louis Negin
Year: 2003
When did I first watch this movie?: I watched this on DVD in 2007.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Speaking of makers of weird movies, Canada’s Guy Maddin gives Charlie Kaufman a run for his money.  Frequent Maddin collaborator Isabella Rossellini stars as baroness in Great Depression-era Canada who holds a contest for the saddest music in the world to promote her family’s brewery. As Lady Helen Port-Huntley says “f you are sad and like beer, I’m your lady.”  As weird as this movie is, it may be the most accessible of Maddin’s oeuvre that I have seen.


235

Title: Intermission
Director: John Crowley
Cast: Colin Farrell, Kelly Macdonald, Cillian Murphy, Colm Meaney, Shirley Henderson, David Wilmot, Deirdre O’Kane, Michael McElhatton, Tomás Ó Súilleabháin, Brían F. O’Byrne, Ger Ryan, Jane Brennan
Year: 2003
When did I first watch this movie?: At the theaters in 2003.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is a movie I found myself thinking about and quoting years after I first saw it – especially the parts about brown sauce and Celtic Mysticism.  This movie stars some of the biggest Irish actors of its time, but it eschews movie stereotypes of Ireland. Instead it’s a comedy and crime caper with an ensemble cast set in Dublin’s residential neighborhoods that focuses on extraordinary moments in the lives of very ordinary people.


234

Title: Zootopia
Director: Byron Howard and Rich Moore
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J. K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, and Shakira
Year: 2016
When did I first watch this movie?: June 2016
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: It’s a very clever comedy that revels in creating a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, all while being a critique of systemic racism.


233

Title: Dreams
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Akira Terao, Mitsuko Baisho, Martin Scorsese, Chishū Ryū, Mieko Harada, Yoshitaka Zushi, Toshie Negishi, Hisashi Igawa, Chosuke Ikariya
Year: 1990
When did I first watch this movie?: At Williamsburg Theatre, circa 1991
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I remember being entranced by the visual splendor and imagination in the eight vignettes, which were based on Kurosawa’s actual dreams.  The images of walking inside Van Gogh paintings and the platoon of ghostly soldiers have stuck with me.  This was the first Kurosawa film I ever saw and I need to revisit it to see how it holds up.


232

Title: Airplane! 
Director: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Cast: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Lorna Patterson
Year: 1980
When did I first watch this movie?:
Why is this one of my all time favorites?:


231

Title: WALL-E
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver, and Fred Willard
Year: 2008
When did I first watch this movie?: Summer 2009
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Another movie that has light comedy and romance with an underlying story of environmental catastrophe.  I like that it shows humans at our worst and yet still has hope for humanity.

Movie Review: Class Action Park (2020)


Title: Class Action Park
Release Date: August 27, 2020
Director: Seth Porges, Chris Charles Scott III
Production Company: Pinball Party Productions | Strategery Films | Warner Max
Summary/Review:

As a kid growing up in Connecticut, ads for Action Park were constantly on the tv and radio, but my requests to go there were denied.  My mother was not fond of driving to New Jersey nor did our family budget have much room for visits to theme parks.  It was only until years later that I learned that I may have dodged a bullet since Action Park had such a reputation for guests getting injured and sometimes killed.  In fact, back in the 80s, I remember New Jersey’s other theme park Great Adventure having the reputation for danger since several teens were killed in a fire and one person fell off a roller coaster.

Class Action Park features interviews with former employees and guests of Action Park mixed with archival news footage and old home movies.  The general theme of the movie is “can you believe how dangerous this place was” and the strange nostalgic feeling of having survived it.  The jokey tone of some of the commentators is placed at odds with survivors of people who died at Action Park, with the ending of the film actually featuring the most uncomfortable contrast of narration and film.

The villain of the piece is Gene Mulvihill, a shady investor in penny stocks who opened Action Park as a summer activity at his ski resort in 1978.  Action Park was a pioneer of the modern waterpark, so a lot of the rides were  experimental to begin with, but Mulvihill refused to hire professional ride engineers and often redrew the plans himself to make them more extreme. If the rides weren’t dangerous enough, the park was run almost entirely by teenagers with underage drinking and drug use common among the staff.  Mulvihill’s libertarian emphasis on freedom and profits with his callous disregard of people injured and killed at the park becomes emblematic of the USA in the Reagan Era.

I found this movie to be interesting in how it showed how the most unbelievable aspects of Action Park came to be and persisted.  But I also don’t think it is a very well-made documentary.  For one thing, it could’ve used a wider of variety of commentators as the handful involved said mostly the same things.  Also, the frequent reuse of b-roll footage throughout the movie feels lazy and unprofessional.  Still it’s an interesting movie to watch if you’re curious about how an experiment in pure libertarianism in Greater New York City went horribly wrong and why regulations may be good, actually.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Black Girl (1966)


Title:La noire de…
Release Date: 1966
Director: Ousmane Sembène
Production Company: Filmi Domirev | Les Actualités Françaises
Summary/Review:

This film was made a few years after Senegal gained its independence from France and is considered one of the first feature films created by people from sub-Saharan Africa.  It explores the themes of lingering colonialism and imperialism through the story of a young woman named Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop).  She leaves her impoverished village near Dakar to work for a French couple in their apartment on the French Riviera.

While she expects to care for their children, Diouana is surprised that the woman, known only as Madame (Anne-Marie Jelinek), makes her do all the household chores and cooking. In flashbacks, we learn that Diouana worked as a nanny for the couple when they were living in Dakar and that Madame was treated her much more generously.  Over time Diouana feels trapped in the apartment, not allowed to explore the French village where they live, and falls into a depression with tragic consequences.  The final scene is a haunting image of how colonizers will always be haunted by their past, especially if they fail to make reconciliation.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: She’s Gotta Have It (1986)


Title: She’s Gotta Have It
Release Date: August 8, 1986
Director: Spike Lee
Production Company: 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks
Summary/Review:

I watched She’s Gotta Have It way back in the 1980s and remember liking it, except for THAT SCENE (but we’ll get to that latter).  This was Spike Lee’s first feature film as director, shot in black & white (except for one brilliant burst of color mid-movie), and has more of an arthouse vibe to it than any of Lee’s later work.

The movie focuses on Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), an artist in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, and her romantic sexual relationships with three different men.  Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks) is presented as the “good guy” and I think the narrative wants the audience to believe that until the rug is pulled out from us later on.  Greer (John Canada Terrell) is a vain model.  Mars Blackmon (Spike Lee) is a goofy sneakerhead and basically a Brooklyn hipster before his time.  Lee has also portrayed Mars in commercials and his own identity and the character’s are sometimes intermingled.

The movie basically does a good job of deconstructing the double standards of a woman who wants to be sexually active with more than one man.  In the documentary-style interviews with the men, they basically “self-own” themselves with their hypocritical views.  This movie is also sex positive in the way that it depicts how Nola is sexually fulfilled in different ways by each of the men.  Still though, this movie fumbles at times where it clearly feels it was written by a straight man. One of the worst is examples is a lesbian character portrayed by Raye Dowell acts like a male fantasy of a lesbian woman.

And now we come to the end of the movie for which I will have to discuss SPOILERS. Angry that Nola won’t choose to be only with him, Jamie brutally rapes her. Later Nola calls it a “near rape” which is an understatement at best. She decides to break it off with Mars and Greer and be exclusive with Jamie but also to be celibate for a time.  Now, it is not unrealistic for a seemingly “good guy” in a patriarchal society to become a rapist, nor is it unrealistic for a woman to internalize abuse and feel that she has to be the one to change her behavior but it does seem to send the wrong message that undercuts everything that came before.  In the final shot, Nola abruptly admits that her period of celibacy was short and she eventually broke it off with Jamie, which, good for her, but it also feels like this movie is trying to have it both ways.

Despite its flaws, She’s Gotta Have It, was a groundbreaking film.  It kicked off Spike Lee’s career, and was in the vanguard of movies by Black filmmakers that shook off the Hollywood stereotypes of Black stories in film.  The movie depicts Brooklyn as home to successful Black people pursuing their interests in careers and personal lives in a way that sadly hadn’t been seen in movies before.  It was also a big boost to independent movies at a time of major studio dominance, and the indies still flourish today because of it.

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: The Circus (1928)


TitleThe Circus
Release Date: January 6, 1928
Director: Charles Chaplin
Production Company: United Artists
Summary/Review:

This Charlie Chaplin film comes in-between The Gold Rush and City Lights but is not as highly acclaimed as those two movies, and I can see why.  Chaplin’s Tramp stumbles into a circus and inadvertently becomes a comic star.  He also falls in love with the horse rider Merna (Merna Kennedy) who is brutally abused by the Ringmaster (Al Ernest Garcia).  The arrival of a new tightrope walker, Rex (Harry Crocker), leads to a love triangle among the Tramp, Myrna, and Rex.  There are a number of good gags and stunts in the film, but overall the movie just feels thin.  It’s like a good short film got stretched to be a feature.  Still, Chaplin’s comedic brilliance is always worth a watch.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Who Killed Captain Alex? (2015)


Title: Who Killed Captain Alex?
Release Date: 1 March 2015
Director: Nabwana I.G.G.
Production Company: Ramon Film Productions
Summary/Review:

Who Killed Captain Alex? is Uganda’s first action film.  How do I know this? Because the movie itself let’s it be known that it’s “Uganda first action film” on multiple occasions.  It’s reported to be made on a budget of approximately $200 and it shows. It tells the story of the titular Captain Alex leads his commandos against the Tiger Mafia, and then is mysteriously murdered. By pretty much any standard this is not a “good” movie.

But it does have a few things going for it.  For one, everyone involved seems to be having a good time and fully invested in making Uganda’s first action film with whatever tools they can find.  All the more so since it’s unlikely anyone was actually paid for their work out of that $200.  The other feature is narration and commentary from what sounds like a party MC/hype man provided by V.J. Emmie.  This is what is known in Ugandan cinema as a video joker.

While only 68 minutes long, it’s still a bit too much for one running gag.  Nevertheless it was fun to watch something so earnestly produced and quite unlike anything I’ve ever watched before.

Rating: ***

Movie Review: Next Stop Wonderland (1998)


Title: Next Stop Wonderland
Release Date: August 21, 1998
Director: Brad Anderson
Production Company: Robbins Entertainment
Summary/Review:

Next Stop Wonderland was released almost simultaneously with my move to Boston in 1998.  I remember walking across the Longfellow Bridge to Kendall Square Cinemas and then seeing that same great view of the city from the bridge in the opening shot of the movie.  The movie makes great use of Boston area locales, including MBTA subway trains, the New England Aquarium, and The Burren pub in Somerville which was my local watering hole for many years.  Almost all movies set in Boston involve mobsters, fanatic sports fans, and/or academics, so it’s great to have Next Stop Wonderland as Boston’s only romantic comedy.

So, I’m predisposed to enjoy this movie for many nostalgic reasons, but rewatching it for the first time in many years I also feel that it is just a really good romantic comedy.  The movie tells the parallel stories of two characters, Erin Castleton (90s indie movie queen Hope Davis) and Alan Monteiro (Alan Gelfant).  Erin is a registered nurse who’s live in boyfriend Sean (Philip Seymour Hoffman between The Big Lebowski and Boogie Nights but not a huge star yet) leaves her at the beginning of the movie and whose mother places a personal ad in Erin’s name leading to a series of comically bad dates. Alan is a working class son of a plumber going to college to study marine biology and volunteering at the New England Aquarium in his spare time.

The movie has a slice-of-feel to it as the two leads go about their everyday lives while dealing with inappropriate relationships. Erin is briefly drawn to a Brazilian patient (José Zúñiga) while Alan is drawn in by advances of a younger student in his class (Cara Buono, looking very different than on Stranger Things).  A number of quirky, comical things happen along the way involving things ranging from kidnapped ballonfish to misattributed Ralph Waldo Emerson quotations.

SPOILER: Erin and Alan finally do meet at the end of the film, which is kind of expected.  What is an unexpected is that the ending is ambiguous.  They may fall in love, they may just be friends, or they may not ever meet again.  What I like about this movie on this watching is that it is really an introvert’s romance.  Both characters express a contentment with being alone that you don’t often see in the movies.  This could be another reason why this is one of my favorite movies of all-time.

Rating: ****

Favorite Movies of All Time: 250-241


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.

Favorite movies are a subjective thing, and my list will take into consideration the artistry and pioneering aspects of filmmaking, but also more personal and nostalgic factors that make a movie special to me.  I initially wasn’t going to make a ranked list because a) ranking is hard, and b) I hate the type of arguments that result from ranked lists where people say things like “How can you possibly think Film A is better than Film B?”  But then I figured making a ranked list would be a fun challenge, and it also will make it more interesting for a series of blog posts over the course of a year.

So, keep in mind that I live each of the movies in this list in some way or another.  I hope I’ll be able to explain why each movie deserves a spot on my favorites list.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on movies I’ve included, positive or negative, as well as movies you love that I didn’t include. Just don’t get to tetchy about increments in the ranking of particular films.

Let’s get the film rolling with our first ten!

250

Title: Time After Time
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen
Year: 1979
When did I first watch this movie?: Early 80s, on TV
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This move is a science-fiction/thriller/romantic comedy in which H.G. Wells uses his time machine to chase Jack the Ripper to San Francisco in 1979, where he also falls in love with the modern day woman Amy Robbins.  I haven’t watched this movie in ages, but I’m putting it here as kind of a placeholder for the movies I watched when I was very young with my mother and sister whenever they came on TV.  Other movies include Love at First Bite, Murder By Death, and the Pink Panther movies, among others. Some of these movies are problematic and some are probably just not as good as I remember them, but I give them a spot for inspiring my early love of watching movies.


249

Title: Late Spring
Director: Yasujirō Ozu
Cast: Chishū Ryū, Setsuko Hara, Haruko Sugimura
Year: 1949
When did I first watch this movie?: January 2021 for the Classic Movies Project II
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I never heard of Ozu before I started focusing on Classic Movies a few years ago, but I was won over by his simple style of cutting between lots of shots where the camera rarely moves. His stories are restrained and capture deep emotions in simple gestures as seen in this heartbreaking story of father and daughter.


248

Title: The Gods Must Be Crazy
Director: Jamie Uys
Cast: Nǃxau ǂToma, Sandra Prinsloo, Marius Weyers, Nic de Jager, Michael Thys, Louw Verwey, Ken Gampu, Simon Sabela
Year: 1980
When did I first watch this movie?: Around 1984, in a brand new arthouse cinema that had replaced a notorious porno theater.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I was 10 when I first saw this movie set primarily in Botswana.  Part documentary, part political satire, and part slapstick comedy, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. It stars Nǃxau ǂToma, a member of the San (Bushmen) people, who must take a cursed object to the end of the earth – the ultimate symbol of Western civilization, the Coke bottle.  I have good memories of this movie although I’ve learned in more recent years that it is controversial in its portrayal of the San people and for whitewashing Apartheid, so I’ve been hesitant about rewatching it.


247

Title: The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Diane Keaton
Year: 1972
When did I first watch this movie?: March 2020, for my Classic Movie Project.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of those movies that I failed to watch for decades before finally getting around to it and I ended up feeling a little underwhelmed.  But I cannot deny that this is a powerful and influential movie, and I find myself thinking about it a lot more than I expected.


246

Title: Hillsborough
Director: Daniel Gordon
Cast: Documentary footage and interviews
Year: 2014
When did I first watch this movie?: July 2014, as part of ESPN’s 30 for 30: Soccer Stories series
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: I have an unhealthy fear of crowd disasters and the story of Hillsborough Stadium disaster is one reason why.  This documentary breaks down the cascade of errors the lead to the deaths of 96 Liverpool F.C. supporters, the failures of the police and authorities that compounded the misery, and the decades-long search for justice.


245

Title: Gimme Shelter
Director: Albert and David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Cast: The Rolling Stones
Year: 1970
When did I first watch this movie?: Watched on DVD in 2007.
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: It’s a weird coincidence to have two “crowd disaster” documentaries back-to-back on this list, but the centerpiece of this movie is the ill-fated Altamont Speedway Free Festival which became emblematic of the end of the utopian feel in 60s counterculture. Among other deaths and violence, this film captures the murder of Meredith Hunter by the Hells Angels right in front of the stage as the Rolling Stones perform. Of course, this movie wasn’t supposed to be about a murder, it was a concert film.  So you get to watch a lot of excellent live performance footage of the Stones at their peak with the ominous sense of Altamont coming at the movie’s conclusion.


244

Title: The Flowers of St. Francis
Director: Roberto Rossellini
Cast: Brother Nazario Gerardi, Brother Severino Pisacane, Esposito Bonaventura,  Aldo Fabrizi, Arabella Lemaître
Year: 1950
When did I first watch this movie?: Circa 2005, at a Brattle Theatre retrospective on Roberto Rossellini
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Arthouse cinemas are a great place to make discoveries, and somehow I found myself in the balcony of Brattle Theatre watching this Italian neorealist film about St. Francis and the Franciscan Brothers and St. Clare.  Francis may be the most fascinating of saints where the true stories are even more impressive than the myths.  This movie does an excellent job at depicting a simple faith that is hard to embrace in a cynical world.


243

Title: The Mystery of Picasso
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Cast: Pablo Picasso
Year: 1956
When did I first watch this movie?: May 2001 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: Part of why I love this movie is that I saw it while on vacation in San Francisco with Susan at the Castro Theatre, a classic movie palace where an organist entertained us before the film rolled.  The movie itself shows Picasso creating unique works of art for the movie, many of them painted on glass so that they look like they’re being painted right on to the camera lens.


242

Title:  Aladdin
Director: John Musker, Ron Clements
Cast: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale
Year: 1992
When did I first watch this movie?: In a theater in Virginia shortly after the movie’s release in 1992
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of the great films of the Disney Renaissance Era and one of  the first times a celebrity voiced a character in Disney animation.  That celebrity was Robin Williams whose manic performance as Genie made this movie an instant classic.  Plus there’s some great music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman with Tim Rice.


241

Title: La Jetée
Director: Chris Marker
Cast: Hélène Châtelain, Davos Hanich, Jacques Ledoux
Year: 1962
When did I first watch this movie?: February 2021, for my Classic Movies Project II
Why is this one of my all time favorites?: This is one of the strangest films on this list as it is only 28 minutes long and filmed almost entirely as a series of still shots.  It’s a science fiction story set in a post-apocalyptic world with time travel and romance.  And it’s totally the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, just much more economical.