#7 The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Suggested by @kat_eyz1969

Thoughts going in:

This sounds like a movie about lawyers.

Thoughts overall:

This movie is not about lawyers, it’s about a bank heist.

I thought the idea was really cool, but I wish they’d spent more time on the heist itself, maybe with flash forwards and flashbacks, instead of basically tearing Faye Dunaway’s character, ostensibly a strong female character in the beginning, and turning her into a sad, pathetic, lovelorn woman.  She’s the fictional representation of what right-wing nuts think will happen if a woman becomes president.  She’ll let her emotions take over and fuck everything up.  That said, I’m interested in seeing the modern adaptation, because, as I said, I think the idea is very interesting.

#6 ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)

Suggested by Brad Betschen

Thoughts going in:

My best friend recommended this movie, I’ll probably love it.

Thoughts overall:

Women are, by and large, fucking evil to each other.  I don’t know why this is (actually, I have lots of theories why, but I’ll save those for my radical feminism/patriarchy smash blog).  In this movie we see strong women, all with their own motives, torn apart by each other.  A few scenes, in which the men folk have to bring these hysterical ladies back to the real world (a world in which a woman is only a woman, and only of value if she has a man to take care of) are annoying, but to be expected for a movie of this era.  The real gem is seeing how their relationships weave in and out of kindness and cruelty.  While some characters are meant to be seen as the overall “bad girls” they’re all much more complex than that and they’re all, to some degree, complicit in their own suffering.  Snappy lines by Bette Davis make this worth viewing alone.

#5 LES DIABOLIQUES

Suggested by Veronika Kosta

Thoughts going in:

Doug: “They sometimes call this movie the greatest movie Hitchcock never made.” Sounds good to me!

Thoughts Overall:

This movie was half and half for me. I thought the plot was very interesting and I enjoyed the little twists and turns, but viewed by my modern, jaded eyes, I don’t think I was able to feel what the movie wanted me to. I never felt any tension or concern and I did predict the ending fairly early on, but for what it was, when it was made, I think it was pretty good. I found the foley to be so annoying at times that I was actually ANGRY. That said, I did watch this movie when I really should have been in bed and perhaps that clouded my opinion somewhat.

#4 MAGNOLIA (1999)

Suggested by Amanda Cooper

Thoughts going in:

me: “is this the movie where the guy tattoos himself?” Doug: “no, that’s Memento.” me: “is this the one with Nic Cage’s head in a flowerpot?” Doug: “No….that’s Adaptation. Jesus christ.”

Thoughts Overall:

Well, that was depressing. This movie is so incredibly dense that there’s no point in me trying to summarize the plot, but I can say that it’s incredibly well written. I experienced real feelings watching it, and I think the story it tells, and the comment it makes about society are well worth your time. A few things seemed unresolved to me (and I hate that, even though I know I should be mature enough not to) and there was a cast sing-along of an Aimee Mann song that really, really did not work for me, but these are small quibbles compared to the overall beauty of this one. I’d tell you to go see it, but I think I might have been the last person who hadn’t.

#3 MATINEE (1993)

Suggested by Matt Hollinger

Thoughts going in:

I think William Castle is cool.

Thoughts overall:

Matinee is a cute movie. Not emotionally gripping one way or the other, but a fun one, nonetheless. John Goodman stars as Lawrence Woolsey, a thinly veiled fictional version of William Castle. Castle was a notorious director who, in the late 50s and early 60s, started adding gimmicks to his films like buzzers in the seats and having life insurance policies drawn up for patrons who may have ‘died of fright’ during the movie. While in today’s world, that level of showmanship would be seen with jaded eyes, back then it must have been a real thrill. This movie combines the real terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis with the premier of Woolsey’s new film MANT!. Which is as ridiculous as it sounds. It has a sweet ending too.

The African Queen (1951)

Thoughts going in:

I love going to see old movies at the theatre.

Thoughts overall:

I really liked this one, but I suspect that if I hadn’t seen it on the big screen, I wouldn’t have loved it as much. The theatre experience really makes a difference when it comes to my enjoyment in a film. This movie was a lot of fun. It had a bit of unintentional camp to it. Seeing the way they used back projection and dummies in the boat was really neat. I wonder if people back then were fooled by any of that, or if they just accepted it for what it was? The best part about this movie, to me, is the fact that you really feel like they’re mucking through a miserable landscape of filth and humidity. You can practically smell the stink coming off them from your seat, and that aspect makes their arduous journey all the more exciting to see.

#2 SHOGUN ASSASSIN (1980)

Suggested by Jeff X Martin

Thoughts going in:

I love Kill Bill and I really enjoyed 13 Assassins so I’m definitely going to like this one.

Thoughts post-movie:

I hate this movie. Not for the goofy violence or for the somewhat disjointed plot that never seems to resolve. I hate this movie because the main character is abhorrent to me. The obviously mentally ill father decides to let his toddler decide his own fate (one which results in his death and one which results in him walking ‘the road to hell’). While I get that this is fantasy, this just sours the whole movie for me. Also, he sexually assaults a woman. I spent the whole movie wishing feudal Japan had Child Protective Services and would swoop the kid up and that the father would quickly be dispatched. The fact that this movie is an amalgamation of two other movies means we miss a lot of information about the Shogun, making him somehow more likeable than the Lone Wolf. Maybe in the future I’ll sit down with the manga and sort it out that way, and perhaps I’ll take away a different appreciation for this movie, but as it stands now, I really disliked this one.

Fish Story (2009)

Thoughts going in: This is a documentary about a Japanese punk band from the 1970s

Thoughts 10 seconds in: This is not a documentary about a Japanese punk band from the 1970s

What a great movie. The story of how music is an eternal force and can, in this case, literally, save the world. The theme song is pretty damn great too.

#1. BIG NIGHT(1996)

Suggested by @susanjm

Thoughts going into this movie:

I love food. I like movies about food. I love Stanley Tucci and I can’t believe he’s not gay. I have a cat named Stanley.

Thoughts during the movie:

Despite having Monk in the movie looking like Borat, I really enjoyed this one. While food is a big part of this movie, the emphasis of how food brings people together, for good or bad, is really what it’s about. The plot is not so complex, but the diversity of the characters makes its unfolding much more interesting. We’re left in the end without a defined resolution but certainly a sense of closure. The final intimate scene of the brothers sitting down to a breakfast of eggs and bread is particularly beautiful and really underscores that these are simple men of simple means but big on heart.

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