Guilty pleasures: you know the movie sucks, but you love it anyway

Ice PiratesI’m not ashamed to admit it – I enjoy bad science fiction movies. In fact, some of my favorite movies of any genre are simply horrible. Awfully, even laughably, bad. In some cases that’s exactly why I enjoy the movies – they’re so bad that I can’t help but laugh at them. Others are fun even though they have no socially redeeming features of any kind, or have actors and/or directors acting badly.

For example, I recently re-watched The Core, a movie about a group of “terranauts” who are trying to save the world after the government accidentally stops the Earth’s core from spinning. Continue reading

Fantasy reboots: What if David Lynch had directed Caddyshack?

It started innocently enough, as these things often do, with our boy Dan Ryan on Facebook wishing there was a video of the gopher from Caddyshack dancing to “Water of Love” by Dire Straits. Which, turns out, is actually a thing. That caused me, for some odd reason, to wonder what the movie would have been like if David Lynch had directed.

Then Jim Booth got involved, and it was all downhill from there.

So here it is, our best guess as to how Lynch would have cast the film, along with some plausible plot twists. Continue reading

S&R Movie Night – Movies we watch so often that we’ve worn out not just the movie, but the player too

Most people have favorite movies. You may remember one fondly because it was your first date with your partner, or because made you laugh so hard that you spewed beer out your nose, or even a movie that was so painful to watch that you loved it even as you swore you’d never watch it again. But some of us – I’d hazard to guess most of us, in fact – have a few movies that we’ve watched over and over and over again, obsessively even, watching for every nuance and searching for every easter egg and hunting down every reference to other films and works of art in the film.

Below I’ve collected a list of some of S&R’s favorites, starting with my own. Please share your own favorites in the comments as well.

Brian Angliss
There are dozens of movies that I’ve seen between five and 10 times, but there are only a few that I’ve watched so many times that I consider them staples of my viewing pleasure. I’d guess that every one of the movies below is something I’ve watched at least 10 times, and the top of the list is something I’ve watched between 50 and 100 times since I first watched it as a kid. And that doesn’t include all the times I’ve replayed nearly the whole thing in my head.

My top 5, roughly in order:

  • Johnny Dangerously – this movie isn’t the best thing out there by a long shot, but damn it’s funny. I watched it the first time when I was a young teen, and for a while there I watched it about once a week for two or three years in a row. I now know it so well that I can watch for all the anachronisms that are strictly visual. And at this point I laugh before all the jokes.
  • The Princess Bride – “I admit it, you are better than I am…” “‘Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line'” “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Need I say more?
  • The Incredibles – The only reason I haven’t seen this movie more often than The Princess Bride is because it came out in 2004, rather than 1987. I still get chills watching the scene when Helen/Elastigirl is telling Dash and Violet that…, well, here’s the exact lines:

    Remember the bad guys on the shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings? Well, these guys aren’t like those guys. They won’t exercise restraint because you are children. They will kill you if they get the chance. Do not give them that chance.

    That’s when this movie went from being reasonably standard Disney/Pixar fare into greatness.

  • The Matrix – This movie was mindblowing when it came it out, both intellectually and visually. It’s too bad that the Wachowski brothers just about ruined the franchise with Reloaded and Revolutions, which couldn’t live up to the standard set by the original. I suppose that some could view the difference between the original and the sequels in much the same was as Alien vs. Aliens – so different as to be almost incomparable. But it can be pulled off – witness Kill Bill 1 and 2, for example. The Wachowskis just couldn’t do it. These days I just pretend that the sequels never happened.
  • Silverado or Ghostbusters – I’ve seen both of these movies about the same number of times, so I’ll put them in as a tie for 5th place. Silverado is just about the archetypal western movie, but with enough humor that it simply refuses to take itself too seriously. As for Ghostbusters, it’s a classic that features a bunch of scientists saving the world because they know more than anyone else about what’s going to happen (more or less). Engineers, scientists, unlicensed particle accelerators, and don’t cross the streams – what’s not to love about this movie?

I’ve watched all of the following movies at least ten times, and in some cases many more than 10 – just not enough to get into my top 5. And I’ve left out all the movies that my kids have made me watch WAY more times than I would have voluntarily.

The Andromeda Strain, Back to the Future, Ben Hur, El Dorado, Empire Strikes Back, Fantasia, Ice Pirates, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Kung Fu Panda, Men in Black, Mulan, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Quiet Man, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Spaceballs, Star Trek The Motion Picture, Star Trek 2 – The Wrath of Kahn, Star Trek 4 – The Voyage Home, Star Wars, The Sting

Denny Wilkins
I have watched Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension more than 100 times because it is so deliciously camp. It has a stellar cast – Peter Weller, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Rosalind Cash, Robert Ito, and so many more.

But the movie is filled with extraordinary sight gags. Even now, after a few decades of watching it, I see more. If you want an evening of fun, get some beer and close friends, and watch it at least twice.

Cat White
Movie I’ll admit to watching over and over (even though I shouldn’t): Pretty Woman. Yes, it’s completely unrealistic. But it was my first Richard Gere movie. Of course now I look at his character and think “Bain Capital.” The scenes that really caught me were the ones in the snooty dress shop. First when she was told there was nothing for her and to “please leave.” And then when she returns, “Remember me? I was in here yesterday and you wouldn’t sell me anything. I bet you work on commission. Big mistake. Huge. I have to go shopping.” The fashion montage and the pink Jackie O suit are wonderful.

Movies I haven’t counted, but will watch at the drop of a hat: Casablanca; Now, Voyager; All About Eve; Star Wars (any); Indiana Jones (mostly Raiders); Lord of the Rings; The Third Man; African Queen; Independence Day; Twister; The Big Sleep; Some Like It Hot; Double Indemnity.

I love great old movies–I’ll watch almost any BW film on TCM. When I was working on the list, I noticed a Humphrey Bogart theme–I could also have added The Maltese Falcon and Sabrina. By the same token, I could have Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn themes.

For that matter, some movies (like Pretty Woman), I love for the costumes. Audrey Hepburn’s black and white Givenchy ballgown in Sabrina. Bette Davis’ “coming out” ensemble in Now, Voyager. Marilyn Monroe’s “jello on springs” high-collared coat and cloche hat in Some Like It Hot. Anything worn by the Rohirin in Lord of the Rings (Shield Maiden of Rohan, anyone?). Vivien Leigh’s red velvet scandalous woman gown that she wore to Ashley’s birthday party (and you only get to see it in glimpses–pity).

Speaking of Gone With the Wind–I used to obsess over that movie. I’ll still watch it. But its influence on me when I was younger was huge. Scarlett was the first character I could relate to in her dislike of society’s expectations for female behavior and her later “bad behavior” where the rules were concerned. The book (and movie) woke me up to the fact that there are rules.

Alex Polombo
No particular count, but I know that the original Star Wars trilogy and the Rocky Horror Picture Show (I know, I know) are up there.

Star Wars seven times just at the theater. The Blues Brothers. Bananas.

Sam Smith
I don’t watch movies over and over for the most part, although there are a few exceptions.

Blade Runner: I don’t honestly know how many times I have watched the various incarnations of this one, but dozens at least. The Final Cut (and yes, I do have the collector’s edition with all the versions) may be the best film I’ve ever seen. Yes, BR is in some respects a hot mess – that’s how Scott seems to like doing things at times – but this version fixes all the technical issues and remasters it into an absolute tour de force.

Animal House: It’s even funnier if you’ve been in a fraternity. How many times have I watched it? I have no idea. I’m not through with it, either.

Caddyshack: Maybe the funniest movie I have ever seen. I’ve seen it in its entirety, or at least watched pieces of it, dozens of times. And it just never stops being funny. Also, the most quotable flick (at least among golfers) in history.

Jim Booth
Films I’ve seen over 250 times:
It’s a Wonderful Life; Frankenstein; Dracula (James Whale, Tod Browning versions from 30’s, of course);

Films I’ve seen over 100 times:
Le Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows); Shane; A Christmas Story; Young Frankenstein;

Films I’ve seen over 50 times:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Animal House; Caddy Shack; A River Runs Through It; Citizen Kane; Battleship Potemkin….

Remember, I taught film for many years, so….

Frank Balsinger
My love of horror stated in my early childhood. For one thing, Dad collected what (to me) were gigantic plastic, hand-painted movie monster figures. As I think back on it, I’d guess they were maybe 8” high. To me, that was gigantic. I didn’t always the know story behind the figure, at least not in any really informed kind of way, so playing with them (on those very rare and precious occasions) was an exercise in pure imagination barely informed by any standard sense of the monsters. Vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein (not his monster…I learned that wrong), Creature from the Black Lagoon (the what?…I had no idea), Phantom of the Opera (I had less than no idea), these all behaved however I thought they should. Usually they were the good guys.

Dad also had a thing for going to the drive in theatre, especially when there were scary movies. As a result, I did learn about the monsters over time, and with many different variations. Of course, we weren’t limited to just those five. I saw The Exorcist for the first time when I was five. From slightly before that time until I was nine I must have seen just about every monster movie that came out.

Then there were Sunday mornings. While other stations were playing talk shows (blah, blah, blah) and preachers (blah, blah, blah), and nobody had cartoons, there was one station that started a scary movie/creature feature double feature at 8 AM.

I think, thanks to that early experience, horror is like a comfort zone for me. The horror movies I listed make me feel at home. The other movies, and I will seriously need to go through everyone else’s list to cannibalize them for ones that didn’t come to mind, tickle my fancy in different ways that are either fun to go back to again and again or set my mind in motion in a way that’s worth going back to again and again.

No particular count, but there are quite a few I’ve watched a good many times. The Exorcist, The Omen, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Evil Dead trilogy, Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, Star Wars, Wizards, Light Years, Forbidden Zone, A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club, Snatch, Love & a .45, Pulp Fiction, Killing Zoe, Kill Bill I/II, and that’s just the ones off the top if my head. Can’t say as I’ve seen anything 50 or a hundred times, but there’s plenty of life left.

Samuel L. Jackson as Minty Fresh in A Dirty Job? Make this movie happen NOW

I’m currently reading Christopher Moore’s 2006 novel, A Dirty Job, and am nearing what I expect to be a slam-bang, fun-filled, rollicking climax. I picked it up because I thought Lamb, the story of Jesus Christ’s life as told by his best friend Levi, who is called Biff, was one of the funniest things I’d ever read. If you haven’t run across these books yet, consider them recommended.

Anyway, last night, as we got deeper into protagonist Charlie Asher’s investigation of the doings at the mysterious Buddhist center in San Francisco’s Mission district, my pique finally got the better of me. To wit, why the hell is this not yet a movie?! Seriously, A Dirty Job is box office magic waiting to happen. So I hit the Internets and discovered that the rights were indeed picked up, in 2006, by Chris Columbus and 1492 Productions. CC is the guy who brought us the first two films in the Harry Potter series and Home Alone, as well as RecklessGremlinsThe GooniesMrs. Doubtfire and Night at the Museum. While he’s had some missteps along the way – who in Hollywood hasn’t? – he’s clearly a man who knows a thing or two about the aforementioned box office magic, right? Continue reading

A star is born

Our real photographer, the estimable Lisa Wright, is on vacation, so I ventured out last night, new camera in hand, to see if I could capture something vaguely interesting for our readers. As luck would have it, they were showing A Star is Born, the 1937 classic starring Janet Gaynor, on the lawn in front of the old Elitch Gardens Theater.

Continue reading

Even George Romero started somewhere: Teenage filmmaker creates his own zombie apocalypse

Nothing like a good old-fashioned zombie apocalypse to liven up high school, wouldn’t you say? That’s what Sam Toller thought, anyway. His ten-minute film, We Are What We Eat, gives kids one more reason to dread school.

The 16-year-old North London student wrote and directed the film (which you can see here). I spent some time over the weekend talking with Sam about what it was like to make a movie, what he’s learned about being a storyteller, and what it was like to bring the apocalypse to life.

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Nota Bene #124: I'm a Doctor, Not an Engineer

“I don’t believe in this fairy tale of staying together for ever. Ten years with somebody is enough.” Who said it? Continue reading

Warning: spoilers ahead

by Lindsay Hayes

A recent study conducted at University of California, San Diego revealed that people enjoyed short stories more when they had been given a spoiler about the ending. That’s nice, but as far as I’m concerned spoilers are still the revelation of the damned.

While some have taken this study to mean spoilers aren’t so bad after all, I have a different take. Uses and Gratifications theory tells us that people use media for whatever purpose suits them at the time. Enjoyment is far from the only use of media consumption. It’s worth noting that the participants in this study were just that – participants in a study. They were not at the local Barnes & Noble seeking the gratification of a good read after a hectic work week. Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #114: Big Star

“The radio makes hideous sounds.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #111: Mmmmm… Beeeeeer

Sorry for the long absence. Let’s carry on, shall we? “If you listen to the guys up in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be up there sitting with them.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #104: Large Marge Sent Me

“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading