I was recently asked by the film blogger extraordinaires at Wonders in the Dark to submit a ballot for the Top 60 Comedies of All-Time in preparation for their next feature which will tabulate the ballots and produce a definitive list later in the summer. At first I found the task daunting – as many will remember guest-blogger Nicky D’s hotly contested and wildly popular Top 47 Comedies of All-Time that graced The Spin not so long ago. For me, comedy is the most subjective and generational-based of genres – and it’s hard to judge films on personal tastes in humor. However, the always generous Sam Juliano at WitD invited balloters to adopt an “anything goes” policy – meaning – if it’s a comedy to you! – put it on the list. This opened up the door for me to include some of my favorite accidental comedies as well as satires and dark comedies that many would judge as dramas. One will see my love for the darker side of comedy in this list, as well as my love for Woody Allen and those rascally kids that had me in stitches when I was a kid – yup – short films are allowed – hence the love for Our Gang. At any rate…let the debate that started with Nicky D’s list continue as I present to you my official rebuttal and ballot for the Wonders in the Dark polling. I will provide no additional commentary and let the list speak for itself… Continue reading
People don’t listen to music the same way they used to. Everything is downloadable. We pick our favorites on a song-by-song basis and almost gone now is the extended play and enjoyment of a full album/cd. Even I fall victim to this with iTunes and my iPad. But I’ll still listen to CD’s in my car on occasion, and my stereo at home is so old it not only has a 3-disc CD changer by also duel cassette players! I keep it because the surround sound speakers are pretty bad-ass, but it also makes me feel like by never upgrading (who needs to with all the other portable devices now?) in my own insignificant way I’m sticking it to the man.
There are some albums I will never tire of and will always find a home in my car or stereo. Here are three albums (not surprisingly all from my high school or college days) that I love to listen to every track in entirety in order over and over. Sure, more than three albums fit this bill, but when it comes to something like Muse’s Absolution or Wolfmother’s debut album - I gotta be in the mood to listen to stuff like that. These three all-time favorites I don’t need to be in any kind of mood to listen to. At any hour on any day in any given year, I could pop these babies in and not skip a beat or miss a lyric.
1. Weezer – The Blue Album - (1994) I’m not sure, but this may have been one of the first CD’s I ever bought when I was a freshman in high school. And it still plays like a champ – ahh – quality technology these CD’s are. Favorite Track: Holiday
The idea for this sprang from an unlikely place. To make a short story long….it all started with that damnable Netflix!
With a dearth of interesting new titles to fill my Netflix queue, I’ve relied on their recommendation algorithm to unearth previous works unbeknownst to me. Thus into my instant queue popped Elizabeth R – a 6-part BBC/Masterpiece Theater miniseries from 1971 starring Glenda Jackson in the title role. Continue reading
“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. “
More so than any other decade in the brief history of film, the 1940′s showed that with great tribulation came great inspiration.
Behold the following cinematic masterpieces created amidst a world at war: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath, Bicycle Thieves, Double Indemnity, Shadow of a Doubt.
In any given year in any given decade any one of these films could easily top anyone’s list. Some of them are routinely bantered about as the greatest film of all time.
And then there is…THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME.
THE THIRD MAN.
If the 2000′s were emblematic of my generation, and the 1970′s belonged to the generation of my parents…then the 1940′s were where my grandparents’ generation left their indelible mark: the decade of the Greatest Generation that clawed their way out of the Great Depression to rise triumphant out of the calamity of World War II. Film mirrored this struggle with tales that showed the human condition is made up of trouble every day. We saw some of the greatest book to film adaptations ever with David Lean’s Oliver Twist and John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath. Speaking of wrath, Carl Theodor Dreyer delivered his bewitching Day of Wrath, while Hitchcock produced the film closest to his heart and mine, Shadow of a Doubt. Clouzot was going tete-a-tete with Hitch across the pond in his native France with the allegorical Le Corbeau and the wildly entertaining police procedural Quai des Orfevres while the Italians were rising from the ashes with their neo-realism movement marked by De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves and Rossellini’s Rome Open City.
And beyond briefly mentioning, I haven’t even touched on Casablanca and Citizen Kane, two films deserving of their own full write-ups and tributes. Yet even those films don’t hold a candle to Carol Reed’s descent into GreeneLand and ascent into film history. Continue reading
In many ways, it’s difficult to look back on a decade in film through which one did not live and see the big picture. My view of the 1950′s is colored through black-and-white lenses – through the genres I love and turn to again and again no matter from which generation they sprang – the tales of the psychological, the thrillers, the noirs and all that seedy, dirty business. In the 1950′s that business was booming.
We had Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest) in his Renaissance period, Henri-Georges Clouzot (Wages of Fear, Les Diaboliques) and Billy Wilder (Sunset Blvd.) still in their prime, Jules Dasin (Night and the City, Rififi) at the height of his game, and Fritz Lang (The Big Heat) and Carl Theodor Dryer (Ordet) delivering their final masterpieces. Meanwhile, a new wave of filmmakers (Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman, Sidney Lumet and Francois Truffaut) sought to define their own styles and first make a name for themselves.
The 1950′s were epitomized by the two big P’s – Prosperity and Paranoia. Continue reading
…or text a Tweet. Hell, these are the actresses who I would follow on Twitter if I had a Twitter account, though I know they are way too hot and talented to subject themselves to something as belittling as Twitter…right?
This is The Schleicher Spin’s tribute to my favorite lovely ladies of the silver screen.
Who are you favorite actresses? You know what I’m talking about - the women who are often the only reason you are willing to sit through a film you would otherwise avoid…the women you’d be willing to watch in just about anything.
Well, here are mine:
The Gold Standards of Talent:
The Blonde – Naomi Watts
British-born, Australian-raised Naomi Watts should put a patent on her American accent because it’s perfect. Ever since nailing the role of a tortured actress in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Watts has gone against the grain by shunning the limelight, aging naturally and beautifully, and carefully choosing roles over the past decade that put her in a position where she can constantly challenge herself and work with the best directors. She’s keenly maneuvered the big studio system while keeping one foot firmly placed in the world of independent and avant-garde filmmaking. Continue reading
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” – Peter Finch as Howard Beale
The 1970′s – what is there left to say? I mean, damn, this was it, right? This was the defining decade for modern cinema. In the words of Robert Duvall’s character from Network, this was the decade of “big-titted hits.”
If the 2000′s were where my generation came of age with film, the 1970′s were where my father’s generation came of age with film. I arrived just in the nick of time to be able to claim I was born in this decade of wonder and transformation where the first generation of film school graduates took cinema by storm.
Here is where many of my favorite directors working today first made a name for themselves – visionaries like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Werner Herzog. This was the decade where the prolific Woody Allen and Sidney Lumet reached their pinnacles with Manhattan and Network. Continue reading
Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?
Well, HAL, I’m declaring 2001: A Space Odyssey the best film of the 1960′s. Hell, HAL, it might even be the best film ever made – a perfect symphonic convergence of cutting edge technology, painterly imagery, big ideas and transcendent music, and it was all cobbled together by human hands.
From the dawn of man to the space age, it’s the tools we use and build that define us, that shape our civilization.
It’s the tools we use to kill and to create. And it’s the ultimate tool we build, HAL, that will be the death of us. Working closely with Arthur C. Clarke (upon whose short story, “The Sentinel”, the film is loosely based) Kubrick crafted a vision of the future where mankind is at crossroads – a point at which we have been able to craft artificial intelligence while at the same time being flung into first contact with an alien intelligence that might have been with us, one way or another, all along. In some ways – it’s the old “the chicken or the egg – which came first?” question. For is that black monolith not possibly artificial intelligence created by an alien civilization far more advanced than us? If they have been meddling with our evolution since the dawn of man, could we not possibly be an experiment in artificial intelligence? Who the hell knows? Continue reading
Buoyed by the controversy surrounding his All-Time Comedies List, the challenge was once again thrown down and guest blogger Nicky D was asked to commemorate his Top 30 Sports Movies of All-Time. And by “All-Time” we naturally mean since 1970 – the magical year when the universe was created.
Which of these classics of the genre made it to the top?
In honor of Opening Day, we now present to you…
The Schleicher Spin’s Guide to the Best Baseball Films:
*In the Outfield:
Left Field –
Cobb (1994) – This biopic did not fare well upon release. However, Tommy Lee Jones gives an Oscar-worthy performance in a film not about baseball but instead about one of the meanest SOB’s to ever live – who just also happened to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. It makes for a fascinating character study.
Center Field -
A League of Their Own (1992) – This excellent ensemble drama and family film teaches history while preaching about girl power. Any young player of the game can find much to be inspired by here.
Right Field -
The Sandlot (1993) – This is another kid’s favorite that celebrates the joy of the game and endless summers running amuck in the neighborhood. Continue reading