From the Archives: 30 Movie Challenge: Part 3

From the Archives: 30 Movie Challenge: Part 3

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.

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope the snowstorm didn’t put my fellow Philadelphians out of comfort. I, for one, spent most of the time watching movies and eating breakfast foods regardless of the hour. Anywho, here’s the next part of the 30 Movie Challenge. Enjoy!image1(2)

11. A movie that changed your opinion on something: Into the Abyss (2011, dir. – Werner Herzog)

Why do human beings kill, and when is it okay? Herzog’s rumination on the use of the death penalty states very plainly that there is no situation in which the taking of human life is ethical. Having grown up in a relatively conservative family, I had always been the type to consider capital punishment as a necessary evil – easier dead than fed, I always thought. My pro-death penalty leanings weren’t passionate, in fact they were much the opposite: coldly dispassionate. Into the Abyss called into question the jarringly human concept of “eye for an eye,” and brought to light the inherent hypocrisy of punishing murder with murder. Within the first twenty minutes of the film I found myself conflicted. By the end, I found myself changed.


12. A movie you hate: The Boondocks Saints (1999, dir. – Troy Duffy)

There is nothing I hate more than when people recommend this garbage to me on account of “you’re a movie guy, you’d love this one,” often with the caveat “it’s pretty rare, so I’d be surprised if you even heard of it.” Of COURSE I’ve heard of The Boondocks Saints, and the fact that I’m “a movie guy” is precisely why I find the entire film to be insufferable. It’s a shoddy Tarantino wannabe filled with racism and homophobia being used for “humor”. It’s a prime example of style over substance, except that the style is weak and there is no substance. Every ounce of this movie is repulsive, and it’s only made worse by the legions of fans who think that it’s “underground.” The film actually might work if it had the sense to revel in its own ridiculousness, but instead it plays everything seriously, as if written by an angsty fifteen year old boy, and it just plain sucks. I hate this movie.


13. A guilty pleasure: Serendipity (2001, dir. – Peter Chelsom)

This really is just another silly rom-com, but man does it work for me. The story is the level of stupid that can only be reached within this usually insipid genre: two strangers (John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) meet for a spontaneous night of romance, but they are on different paths in life. They agree to go their separate ways, acknowledging that if they cross paths again, their romance is meant to be. It’s plainly ridiculous, but somehow it bewitched me. I am not a believer in love at first sight, nor do I find myself in the business of rooting for people to pursue poor decisions in the name of passion, but the planets must have aligned on this one. I need their romance to exist. I can’t abide a universe that would keep these souls separate. As they spend the movie narrowly missing each other, the suspense ratchets up to level that puts me on the edge of my seat, even though I know (and you can guess) exactly how it ends.


14. A movie no one would expect you to love: Footloose (2011, dir. Craig Brewer)

When Ren MacCormack punch-dances out his rage to the sounds of The White Stripes, I allowed myself to accept what I had known since the film began: I LOVE Footloose. Yes, the original is a classic, but it’s still pretty stupid, and Craig Brewer’s remake knows this. What damaged the release of the movie was the marketing. There is just no way to pin down an appropriate angle. If it’s pushed as “the new film from the director of Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan,” it’ll attract a niche crowd who are sure to be disappointed or confused. If marketed as a teeny bopper musical with 80s nostalgia appeal, more seats are filled, but the campaign would betray the true tone of the movie. Obviously, the team behind Footloose opted for the latter (which is a smart business decision, really), and as a result, a lot of folks, myself included, were happy to let this one pass them by. Luckily, I had a friend who all but tied me down and forced me to watch Footloose, and I’m very glad they did.


15. A character who you can relate to most: Alvy Singer – Annie Hall (1977, dir. – Woody Allen)

Alvy Singer is a neurotic, cocky, intellectual stand-up comedian who is actively seeking to expose his own flaws in the hopes of attaining enough self-worth to feel comfortable in a relationship – to accept the idea that he could even be loved. Honestly, I’d bet you’d be hard pressed to find a white male creative-type who doesn’t see a bit of Alvy in themselves (especially if they have a background in stand up comedy). There’s a scene in the film when Alvy overhears what he deems to be a faux-intellectual engaging in conversation while waiting in line for a movie. Alvy confronts the man, calling out his opinions on Marshal McLuhan while simultaneously addressing us, the audience, directly. It’s a great bit of surrealism that gleefully steps through the already shattered fourth wall when Alvy brings McLuhan himself into the mix. Man oh man, if I could boldly and correctly confront every person who I ever overheard rattling off misinformation, I’d be a very happy, very hated man. But the urge is there, and it is through Alvy that I can purge these feelings. I’m a die hard Woody fan, and one of the main reasons why is that I almost always find at least one character (usually the Woody surrogate, or Woody himself) within who I see shades of my own psyche. Alvy is simply the best of the bunch.

We’re halfway there! I’ll be back next week with 16-20.

Part 1 (1-5) Part 2 (6-10)

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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