From the Archives: 30 Movie Challenge: Part 2

From the Archives: 30 Movie Challenge: Part 2

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Alright gang, the list continues with part 2 of the 30 Movie Challenge! It took everything I had not to raincheck this one to do a commentary on the recently announced Oscar nominees, but I’ll save that for the future, partially because I’ve still yet to see Brooklyn, and mostly because I’m quite excited at the movies I get to talk about here in part 2.image2

6. The best made-for-TV movie: Salem’s Lot (1979, dir. – Tobe Hooper)

For my money, this is the only television adaptation of a Stephen King’s story that works on its own merits and not just as an inferior companion piece to the source material. I remember taping this off of TV when I was about 10 years old and first dipping my toes into the world of horror films. It was originally released as a miniseries, but the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was then called) played it in one big, 4 hour block. Like magic, I came down with the flu about a week after it aired and I had the chance to watch my tape in a single terrifying sitting while home from school. It was rainy, I was alone and incapacitated, and Salem’s Lot scared the bejeesus out of me. There are still a few images that send chills up my spine when I think about them, which is exactly what happens when you trust a film to Tobe Hooper rather than the interminably bland Mick Garris. And did I mention it has Bonnie Bedelia in it? IT HAS BONNIE BEDELIA IN IT.


7. The most surprising plot twist/ending: Caché (2005, dir. – Michael Haneke)

No spoiler alert, here. I would never dream of ruining the experience of watching Cachéfor anyone. It’s a simple mystery with a simple set up and an intensely disturbing payoff. It’s a more subdued plot than what is standard for the thriller genre, but as is always the case for the films of Haneke, it will leave footprints on your soul. I’ve certainly made some innocent mistakes in my life, and Caché has me wondering if any could be my undoing.


8. A movie you’ve seen countless times: Back to the Future Part II (1989, dir. – Robert Zemeckis)

It might be the objective least of the trilogy, but it will always be my favorite, and it’s the one I had on VHS for most of my life, so I watched it ALL THE TIME. Part II, more so than the others, captured my imagination as a gadget-loving child. Flying skateboards, flying cars, self-tying shoes, video screens, and dehydrated pizzas all seemed so incredible – an inevitable – to young me. Sure, it wasn’t until I was older that I could even begin to follow the time-twisting plot, but even as a youth, it never felt cryptic or confounding. As I grew and eventually surpassed the “future” as depicted in the film, I found even more to value. There’s a lesson here about how important it is to consider the future, and how evil it is to give in to greed. Plus, there are 5 different Biffs (old, young, alternate reality, Buford, and Griff) to enjoy. On a filmmaking perspective, Part II is the most successful of the series, creating many of its effects practically and in-camera. It also has my favorite moment of the entire series: “Two McFlys with the SAME… GUN! It’s poetic!”


9. A movie with the best soundtrack: Pulp Fiction (1994, dir. Quentin Tarantino)

You know when a movie uses a song and forever that song is associated with said movie? Pulp Fiction did that with every single song on its soundtrack. If ever Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” begins to play, you can bet at least one person will mimic the Jack Rabbit Slim’s twist contest. When I hear Jungle Boogie, I automatically think about how a Quarter Pounder is called a “Royale with Cheese” in areas that use metric. Heck, not even the Black Eyed Peas could pry Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” from the clutches of Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. I’m kidding on that last one. The Black Eyed Peas never stood a chance. Perhaps the best part about the connection between Pulp Fiction and it’s soundtrack is that just by listening to it, you can re-watch the whole movie in your head in a fraction of the time.


10. Favorite classic movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, dir. George Roy Hill)

The term “classic” is so broad, but Butch Cassidy is the first movie that pops into my head upon hearing it. The term most certainly applies here, I think. When the cities fall and our monuments are reduced to ash, this feel-good cowboy caper will remain. Find me a person who has something bad to say about this one and I’ll show you a person with no capacity for joy. Paul Newman (perhaps the finest there ever was) and Robert Redford (still relevant and prolific in his golden years) are the finest buddy-duo ever to hit celluloid, and are the definition of anti-heroes. William Goldman’s stellar script contains an inhuman amount of witty repartee which has become the standard for all “buddy” movies, the quality of which has been imitated for decades but never duplicated. Credit must be given to any movie that can use its final frame as its poster and still maintain a strong cinematic punch. Much like the aforementioned soundtrack for Pulp Fiction, “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” is synonymous with Butch Cassidy and always will be, Spider-Man 3 be damned.

I’ll be back next week with entries 11-15!

Full list:

day 1 – The best movie you saw during the last year day 2 – The most underrated movie day 3 – A movie that makes you really happy day 4 – A movie that makes you sad day 5 – Favourite love story in a film day 6 – Favourite made for TV movie day 7 – The most surprising plot twist or ending day 8 – A movie that you’ve seen countless times day 9 – A movie with the best soundtrack day 10 – Favourite classic day 11 – A movie that changed your opinion about something day 12 – A Movie you hate day 13 – A movie that is a guilty pleasure day 14 – A movie that no one would expect you to love day 15 – A character that you can relate to the most day 16 – A movie you used to love but now hate day 17 – A Movie that disappointed you the most day 18 – A movie you wish more people would see day 19 – Favourite movie based on a book/comic day 20 – Favorite movie from your favourite actor day 21 – Favourite movie from your favourite actress day 22 – Favourite Action movie day 23 – Favourite Documentary day 24 – Favourite Animation day 25 – The most hilarious film you have seen day 26 – A movie you love but everyone else hates day 27 – A movie that you wish you had seen in theaters day 28 – Favourite movie from your favorite director day 29 – Favourite film from my childhood day 30 – Your favourite movie of all time

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