For a late July release, Hercules actually boasts a decent production design and proves to be more entertaining than expected. The Rock is essentially born to play Hercules, and he inhabits the mythological well enough. The cast gets wonky as we are introduced to a bunch of cliche and corny characters who deliver some dodgy lines, and the final line in the movie is just bizarre before it cuts to black. It is hardly an origin story, though we get glimpses of the 12 labors that Hercules had to complete, but it still is an exciting and decently made movie.
103. Django Unchained
Part of me really wants to call Django my favorite Tarantino movie. It is really a love it or hate it type of movie with its love letter to westerns–specifically spaghetti–and its incredible cast that manages to enthrall despite their racist ways. Foxx, Waltz, and DiCaprio steal the show and craft beautifully realized characters that are as malicious as can be and heroic as possible. The explosive battles and the genre-familiar soundtrack help make this one of the best “westerns” in the last 2 decades
104. Mad Max: Fury Road
One of my all time favorites of the last year has now come to DVD. Even off the big screen it is just simply a beautiful film to behold among its mushrooming explosions, gorgeous set designs, and the magnificent vehicles that roar across the barren wastelands. It also represents a truly feministic action film with Max (Tom Hardy) literally taking the backseat to a cast of beautiful, courageous, and capable action heroines who normally would only be one of those things in a male-dominated flick. Charlize Theron should be the new Mad Maxine, though I’m hardly the first to suggest so.
105.The Skeleton Twins
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig headline this low-budget film about estranged twins who reconnect after Hader attempts to commit suicide. Hader steals the show with one of his best performances ever, channeling some heavy material and still making us laugh. It is a bitterly funny and dark film that is all about coming to terms with the past and reconnecting with family. Luke Wilson and Ty Burell also star in the film, producing an interesting cast that makes light of some intense situations. Go check it out, its on Netflix.
107. Eyes Wide Shut
Kubrick’s final film wasn’t going to be his last. He submitted the final cut just four days before he died. Eyes Wide Shut proves to be one of his more challenging works, though probably nowhere near as much as 2001, its pacing is perhaps its biggest obstacle to overcome. After finding out his wife (Nicole Kidman) almost cheated on him, Bill Hartford (Tom Cruise) finds himself on a night-long sexual odyssey that leads him to some pretty bizarre situations. Think Catcher in the Rye meets Shame and you are kinda there, but with Kubrick’s philosophical and intense themes. The ritual scene, probably the most famous part of the film, is erotic, grotesque, and unworldly. It just makes you wonder what sort of work Kubrick would’ve done in the new century, his loss is one of the most significant in the history of cinema.
108. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Supposedly my apartment complex’s lobby has wood from the hospital where this was filmed, and after seeing the placard in the lobby enough I decided to rewatch the movie. The first thing that is apparent, is the movie has hardly aged in the 40 years since its release. Jack Nicholson is amazing, which is to be expected in his early work, and Louise Fletcher is horrendous and hateable. Their on-screen rivalry is one of the best, but the movie itself is bitterly funny and darkly uplifting. Is McMurphy really crazy? Is he supposed to be there? Milos Forman’s Oscar winning film is one of the best of all time, and it is hard to not laugh or feel sorrow at the situation these characters are in. It is a rare kind of masterpiece.
110. Walk the Line
There’s something about Walk the Line that somehow feels so perfect, but it is one of those movies that people easily pass up because not everyone necessarily cares for Johnny Cash or Joaquin Phoenix for that matter, but Phoenix is utterly electrifying. It is a breathtaking performance, as is Reese Witherspoon’s performance as June Carter, as they both hold such mighty presences on the screen. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with the film, maybe only that it doesn’t go on longer, but Walk the Line is a crowd-pleaser, a tour de force of acting, and just a grand movie in general. I can go back to it at any time and feel like I am actually watching Cash and June doing their thing.
So it appears I will not be able to do the Ingmar Bergman marathon like I had hoped (I know everyone was really looking forward to hearing about those) but I will be doing my Top 10 of the Summer in the coming days since school is approaching and summer is ending. See you soon.