Essential Movies – 1964 – An Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and, film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. Dr Strangelove (Academy Award Choice)
  2. Goldfinger (Top Grossing Choice)
  3. Woman In The Dunes (Critical Choice)
  4. The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
  5. A Hard Day’s Night
  6. A Fistful Of Dollars
  7. Band Of Outsiders
  8. Marriage Italian Style
  9. My Fair Lady
  10. Mary Poppins

Let us know your picks for the Top Ten Essential Movies of 1964!

Essential Movies – 1964

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back again to check which classic movies should be considered essential within each category of viewer. Check out my 1964 Oscars posts for more on some of these movies, otherwise lets go.

Becket

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Richard Burton. Peter O’Toole. John Gielgud. Nominated for 11 Oscars, winning one.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s an old, very theatrical film about a period of time few people will be interested in.

What I Think: As far as costume dramas go, there were plenty to chose from during the Sixties – I’m ambivalent towards all of them and would suggest that anyone not interested in the style needs to only see one of them. This is as good as any, but it’s not to my personal tastes. Essential only for critics and wannabees.

Dr Strangelove

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Kubrick. Peter Sellers. Dropping the bomb. Top 15 grossing film. Nominated for four Oscars.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: We’re distant from the time of release that was being satirized now, so much of the comedy may not hit the mark. Sellers can be an acquired taste. Many people don’t like political humour. Black and white, which will put off many modern viewers.

What I Think: It’s going to be eternally ranked among the best, most important comedies of all time. Even if the specifics are dated, a look at the world today shows that the satire still works. All Kubrick movies from Spartacus onwards (if not all, period) should be considered essential by critics, wannabees, nerds, and fans. Casuals with an interest in the director, the stars, comedy, or politics will enjoy it.

Goldfinger

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Bond, one of the most successful and highly regarded of the series. Shirley Bassey. Most people would include this in the top five must-see Bond movies. 2nd highest grossing movie of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: If you’ve seen any other Bond and you’re not a fan, then you likely won’t care to see this.

What I Think: It’s Bond, so I automatically consider it essential. It’s arguably the most iconic entry in the series, what with the song, the quotes, the bad guy, the henchmen, Pussy Galore, the car etc. Still, growing up more with Moore I find myself watching the Connery movies less than others. Should be essential for everyone down to Casuals, and essential for them if they like Bond.

A Hard Day’s Night

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s The Beatles. It’s one of the first movies of its type. It showcases a specific time and place and energy like few films or documents do.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It will be too wacky and displaced for some. If you’re not interested in The Beatles, or music, it won’t be of interest.

What I Think: It’s weird and energetic and doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you place it in the context of the time and the surrounding hysteria. It gives insight into the minds of the Fab Four, their creativity, and is a valuable artifact as well as being a lot of fun. Great music too. Essential down to Casuals, essential for Casuals who like the band.

Mary Poppins

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s Mary Poppins. You’ve seen it. Disney. Supercali, chim chimeree, lets fly a kite etc. Third highest grossing film of the year. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nominated for thirteen Oscars, won five.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a musical. It’s essentially plot-less. It’s too long and drags on endlessly.

What I Think: Have you watched it recently? It’s pretty bad. It’s not just the Van Dyke accent that we all know about – for me it’s not that the accent is nothing like Cockney – it’s that you literally cannot understand 95% of what he says. His character is unnecessary too, aside from a few cloying nods in the pseudo-redemption arc. It’s takes a hell of a long time to get going, the kid actors are annoying though it’s unclear why they need a Nanny in the first place beyond the fact that their parents are terrible human beings. By the end of the film, no-one has learned anything – the kids have lost the only person who showed them some passing interest, the mother doesn’t change whatsoever, and the father clearly suffers some sort of breakdown. Some of the songs and scenes go on for far too long and the humour is worse than swallowing a fart. While obviously dated, it is still wildly inventive. Having said all of that, I’m clearly in the minority and there’s no doubting it’s essential given the cultural impact, though a modern viewer who hasn’t seen it will likely not be as impressed as the person forcing them to watch it.

My Fair Lady

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Audrey Hepburn. Loverly. Rain In Spain. Highest grossing movie of the year. Best Picture winner, along with seven other Oscar wins.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a musical. Those accents. Rex Harrison is a dick.

What I Think: Although this defeated Mary Poppins at the box office, it has fared less well in terms of impact. It’s still talked about, it’s still iconic, but to a much lesser degree than Poppins. Again, for someone who largely despises musicals, it’s a struggle to get through it, only kept from shutting it off by Hepburn’s charm. Regardless, it’s essential for Critics, Wannabees, Nerds, Fans and Casuals can give it a go if they like Hepburn or musicals.

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Catherine Deneuve. Nominated for five Oscars (over a number of years)

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s foreign, most viewers won’t care about the director or cast. Not a top grossing movie.

What I Think: As you should know by now – musicals are not for me. This is the bets musical of the year. It’s as charming as Mary Poppins is bad, it’s as enchanting as My Fair Lady is annoying. However, given the choice, the average fan will pick a different musical to watch from this year, in that case probably only essential for Critics and Wannabees, though geeks and musical fans should give it a go.

The Woman In The Dunes

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the best films from the Japanese New Wave, nominated for two Oscars, gorgeous music and cinematography. 100% Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old, black and white, Japanese, weird.

What I Think: Alienating, yet beautiful. Haunting, sad, creepy, yet definitely an acquired taste. Only for connoisseurs of Japanese cinema.

Zulu

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Michael Caine’s first major role. A cast of British icons starring in a film about a pivotal moment in British history. A John Barry score. One of the most successful and enduring British films of all time, still shown regularly on TV. Influenced many later war films and battle scenes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Outside of Britain, nobody really cares. It wasn’t one of the highest grossing films of the year outside of Britain, and critical reception was and remains divided – is it racist or not, is it good or not? It didn’t win any awards of note.

What I Think: This has become less essential with time. Even though I still think it’s a great film, and that more movie fans outside of Britain should see it, there’s maybe not enough incentive within the cast or via the director to encourage viewers. The action and tension remain fresh and modern viewers will recognise its influence. Critics and Wannabees need to see it, but I imagine my generation of film fans born in Britain will be the last to consider it essential.

A Fistful Of Dollars

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: It’s Sergio Leone. It’s Clint Eastwood. It’s Ennio Morricone. They are three of the biggest names in their respective fields, and they’re together, making possibly the first film which enabled their legend status. It introduced The Man With No Name, both as a character and a character type. One of the first Spaghetti Westerns which reinvented a dying genre and took it onto darker, more violent territory. It was a Top Ten Grossing Movie that year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: British and US critics were not impressed upon release. The non-traditionalist, cheaper, more European feel may put some viewers off.

What I Think: While not as good as, or essential, or iconic as The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, it came first and laid the groundwork. It kick-started a number of careers who would each become superstars, and it defined a genre. Essential for Critics, Wannabees, Nerds, and Fans, and even with its age modern virgin viewers should get something out of it.

Zorba The Greek

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Stars Anthony Quinn. Was a Top 20 Grossing film. It won three Academy Awards, and was nominated for four others, including Best Director and Best Picture.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Like most romances and comedies from a particular era, it hasn’t aged well. The stars probably aren’t recognisable enough to your average modern film fan.

What I Think: It has aged, but it still has good performances and at times is more like a buddy comedy/odd people romp than a romance. It was nominated for Best Picture, but didn’t win and has since become just another near-forgotten film. Critics and Wannabees should see it eventually, but for anyone else it’s only essential if you’re a fan of the cast.

Let us know in the comments which films above you would rank as essential, and which films of 1964 you would put in that category!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1983

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Project A (HK)

A period Jackie Chan movie about clashing cops and bad guys, but most importantly it features some of Chan, and Cinema’s most death-defying stunts.

9: The Hunger (UK/US)

Tony Scott’s sultry, stylish vampire story starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon is a feast for the eyes and the loins.

8: The Dead Zone (US)

The first of two David Cronenberg movies on my list, it’s perhaps amusing that the story of a man who can see the awful shit which is going to happen in the future just by touching a person, is not the strangest of his two entries. One of the finest, understated Stephen King adaptations, it’s a very straight film considering the director and the cast, and is sadly one of the most prescient films of today considering when it was released.

7: Le Dernier Combat (France)

Luc Besson’s thrilling, low-budget debut is chocked full of the ambition and style he would show in later movies once funds caught up with him. It’s an end of the world story about holding on to the final scraps which make life worth living and a damning statement on humanity darkest aspects.

6: Blue Thunder (US)

Helicopter action was all the rage in the 80s, what with Airwolf, Rambo III, and this. Starring Roy Scheider and featuring a young Daniel Stern, Malcolm McDowell, Warren Oates, and Candy Clark, it’s a thriller with plenty of familiar faces and even if the plot is your typical Cop versus Shady Crim Org, the helicopter action more than makes up for any nonsense.

5: Rumble Fish (US)

My four and five are interchangeable and similar in many ways. Both directed by Coppola and sharing a lot of ideas and both featuring a young cast of up and comers, Rumble Fish is the more visually striking of the two. This one follows the relationship between two brothers – one who is trying to move away from the violence of his thug life, and one who is trying to get into it.

4: The Outsiders (US)

The Outsiders is another film focused on youth, brothers, and friendship, this time featuring a more extensive cast, overlapping plots, and a more straightforward directing approach. It’s one of the great teen movies.

3: Videodrome (Canada)

A film which could have only come out in the 80s and only from the mind of David Cronenberg. A small-time TV Exec discovers what appears to be an underground TV show which presents mainly snuff footage and other assorted treats and becomes obsessed with finding out about the show, believing it to be the future of entertainment. The more he learns, the more unhinged he becomes, and both he and the viewer become unsure of what is real or fantasy or if such distinctions even matter any more. A twisted satire on entertainment, culture, and political causes, it’s a showcase for Cronenberg’s Body-Horror ethos and Rick Baker’s wizardry.

2: Scarface (US)

One of the all time great remakes, Brian De Palma’s Scarface is quintessentially 80s. While most of us were rightfully lapping up Spielberg and Amblin, and dreaming of BMX adventures, something more sinister was spreading across the US. Crime, drugs, and all manner of related excess was rampant and the acquiring of the American Dream no longer meant rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in to your particular craft, instead it meant meeting (or killing) the right person, and cheating, gambling, and shooting your way to the top until there was nobody left to stand in your way. Al Pacino’s sneering performance is one for the ages, the Miami setting is seedy in the extreme, and the supporting cast featuring Michelle Pfeifer, Robert Loggia, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Steven Bauer, and F Murray Abraham is stellar.

1: Return Of The Jedi (US)

Covered in my favourite movies of the Decade post.

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One (the top grosser)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Zero

Bill & Ted Face The Music

Bill & Ted Face the Music': Third Time's a Most Excellent Charm, Dude – Rolling Stone

Growing up, there were a handful of movies that I repeatedly came back to not only on my own, but with friends; Predator, T2, Wayne’s World, and the Bill And Ted series. Even in this age of any and all commodities, however barely remembered, being remade or franchised to further dilution, I never imagined I’d see a Bill & Ted sequel. Sure, we’d had the short lived animated series, and every few years we’d hear a rumour of a new script being proposed, but it seemed like the ship had sailed. No-one was interested in rock music any more, never mind movies about rock music, so why would anyone take a chance on releasing a movie which was barely marketable?

Yet here we are, decades later, with an older and somewhat wiser Bill and Ted tasked with saving the world, again. What’s more, the prophecies outlined in the previous movies didn’t really come to pass. Bill & Ted’s band had some success, but like most guitar bands of the era, they split up and are now seen has has-beens barely able to play in a bar to 20 people. They’re still married to their respective babes and they even have daughters, daughters who also aspire to being kick-ass musicians, but all is not rosy; there’s a chance their wives may leave and there’s a chance the world may end. Enter the daughter of Bill and Ted’s old pal Rufus, who takes the lads to the future where they learn that, if they don’t write the perfect song by that evening, all time and reality will collapse. Bad news. There is also a time-travelling Terminator robot sent to destroy them. Luckily, they have their own time machine to try to travel to potential futures to hear the song they haven’t written yet, while their daughters use another time machine to go back and recruit some of the greatest musicians of all time. It’s incredibly convoluted and seems ready to fall apart at any moment.

And yet, it works. It knows it’s silly and it leans into the ridiculousness of it all. It’s funny, it’s nostalgic, and most of the cast members from the originals return. It’s a bit of a shame that the music isn’t great and that they didn’t lean into how metal has changed in the years since the early 90s, but my overriding thought is that I was happy it even existed at all and that it isn’t crap. We still have plenty of modern bands and artists making an appearance, but the script is less interested in the name-dropping and culture surrounding the music. Reeves and Winter initially seem a little awkward in their roles, but this seems to shed over the course of the film and they eventually revel in it. The returning performers equally enjoy themselves, and most of the newcomers are fun too.

The film will likely be completely bewildering for any number of factors to anyone who has not seen the previous movies, but it was made for the fans and those fans should get plenty of enjoyment out of this belated sequel. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1984

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Ghostbusters (US)

Ghostbusters, unlike many 80s movies I enjoyed as a child, is one I’ve grown less fond of over the years. Conversely, it’s one which most people’s appreciation of grows with time. I think it’s because the focus on Bill Murray as the star isn’t as appealing to me. Nevertheless, it was a big part of my childhood and remains as invigorating and exciting as it ever was, to the extent that my two year old son has already watched and enjoyed it.

9: This Is Spinal Tap (US)

Being a fan of comedy and metal, and sometimes making music which is supposed to be funny, and being a film fan, it was only a matter of time being I got to This Is Spinal Tap. It’s one of many films I knew of and felt I had seen long before I ever had. Seeing it for the first time as an early teen meant I only focused on the surface jokes, but over the years its one whose humour both creeps and leaps off the screen to drum in some new piece of dialogue or visual gag I hadn’t picked up on before.

8: Starman (US)

As close to a ‘straight’ film as Carpenter will ever get, certainly as close to a simple romance, this tale of grief, bereavement, and recovery is enhanced by its sci-fi setting, its music, and its great lead pairing.

7: Beverly Hills Cop (US)

I used to have this argument with my brother – in which Beverly Hills Cop movie does Axl Foley come closest to dying. It’s these meaningless, years-spanning arguments which signify that a movie has become important to you. Here I am, thirty years later, still talking about it. It’s a fast, fun, funny, action packed movie with a great cast, score, and has that 80s nostalgia factor through the roof.

6: The Karate Kid (US)

What a wonder, what a joy it is that The Karate Kid series lives on today with the excellent Cobra Kai. That show is the prime example of how to continue an ancient franchise – it respects the originals and follows naturally. But this is where it all began, basically a remake of Rocky for a younger audience, it’s a film which speaks to any era even though its steeped in the decade in which it was born. A film which did more to make me want to pinch and kick bullies and get the girl more than any other.

5: Gremlins (US)

I’m surprised that I put this higher than The Karate Kid and would probably flip the two. Nevertheless, Gremlins is just as much a part of my childhood and is one of a handful of films which can be enjoyed both at Christmas, at Halloween, and at any time of the year. It works as a family movie, an action movie, a horror, a comedy, and is another example of that singular atmosphere and energy which 80s movies had which you don’t seem to find anymore.

4: Temple Of Doom (US)

My favourite Indiana Jones movie was one of my earliest cinematic exposure to the horror and blood’n’guts that I craved. The series dealt heavily in the mythology aspects of history which I was devouring in text form as a youngling, but Temple was the one which felt like it most fully embraced that side. It was a fantasy adjacent film which mixed horror and martial arts elements, while never sacrificing (pun intended?) the swashbuckling adventure, humour, romance, and charm which first catapulted the series into the skies.

3: Police Academy (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

1: The Terminator (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

Falling Down – Get Rekt!

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Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 1993, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Falling Down, Joel Shumacher’s story of a man who says ‘fuck it’, and goes on a rampage through LA.

Sales: 3. Do you go 4 here? It made around double its budget, but it was far outside the Top 20 Grossing movies for the year. That feels like a three to me. However, it did reach number 1 in the US Box Office for its first couple of weeks, so if you care strongly about initial audiences, then you could bump this higher. Of course, it dropped off quickly.

Critical Consensus: 4. While the moral complexity of the film, or perhaps more accurate to say the moral ambiguity, has always been a point for discussion by critics, consensus has always remained strong. The cast and the direction have been lauded, the script has taken a bit more of a beating as time has moved on due to the perceived racism and possible appeals to violence therein, but general consensus remains that it is a bold, violent, and funny satire on 90s society.

Director: 4. Schumacher had an impressive run from 85 to 95, making no less than 8 films. It’s a toss up between this and The Lost Boys as his best overall film and here he continues his use of setting, of soundtrack, of weather to heighten what’s already in the script. It’s stylish but not stylized and is ultimately played out like a futile tragedy rather than the rebellion emboldening statement some make it out to be.

Performances: 4. Michael Douglas is excellent in the lead, ably followed around by a game Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey, Rachel Ticotin, and Tuesday Weld.

Characters: 3. It’s all about D-Fens, who is not, at least on the day presented, a very nice man. Sure he’s pissed that he’s out of work, divorced, late, his life is going nowhere, his expectations of the world aren’t being met, but does that mean he can go on a rampage? He’s supposed to be an everyman, at least for the men of the world who are angry at their lot in life, but taken to extremes. Depending on your POV, those extremes may only be slight.

Cinematography: 4. LA is so burned into our minds thanks to a hundred years of film and TV that it’s difficult to present it in an interesting way. It looks here just as it looked on news reports of the riots – an urban wasteland, brimming with chaos and only the facade of oases to make us think it’s some sort of paradise. The use of the sunlight and warmth is oppressive and hints that it’s not only this individual who is about to explode, but that the entire city could erupt at any minute.

Writing: 3. I’d love to go four here because the script is funny, and in my younger days I probably would have gone higher. But time moves on and attitudes change – there’s no getting away from the fact that parts of the script, intentionally or not, can be and have been co-opted by certain wings of society who would hold the movie up as a plan of action rather than a satire.

Plot: 3. At its core it’s very simple – it’s a classic ‘man wants to get home’ story. Regular glancers will know that that may be my favourite type of story. It’s a road movie mostly on foot. It’s simply a man trying to get from A-B, but he keeps being blocked on his journey and growing ever more enraged with the world.

Wardrobe: 4. It’s so simple, yet so effective. You think of this movie, and you immediately see Michael Douglas in his cheap shirt and trousers, with his briefcase.

Editing: 3. I’m not sure I’m ever going to give more than a 3 in this category.

Make up and Hair: 4. Again, very simple, but manages to be iconic. Which earns it the extra point.

Effects: 3. Not a movie filled with visual effects, but the practical work on the gunplay and explosive side are all solid.

Art and Set: 3. Compliments the Cinematography.

Sound And Music: 4. While the score itself isn’t overly tuneful or memorable, it is eerie and effective within the context of the film, and all of the other associated sounds help to build the paranoid and oppressive atmosphere.

Cultural Significance: 4. It’s on the outskirts of Cult territory in that it has all the attributes of a cult movie, except with a big name cast and director, and is marginally more known and seen. That said, the movie has had a cultural reach beyond its means, particularly in the music scene where many bands and artists have taken inspiration from it. That mirror of culture, The Simpsons, has also made reference to it.

Accomplishment: 3. I don’t feel this warrants higher than a 4 – it’s the sort of movie a lesser director may make with lesser known stars, but has been given the Hollywood treatment. It’s something of a throwback to films of the Dirty Harry and Death Wish movies in their outlook, but it’s not a strict revenge movie or cop against crime movie. It does elevate a simple idea though.

Stunts: 3. It’s not strictly an action movie, or a thriller, or a drama, but some Venn Diagram middle point. There is action but it’s on a small scale, and is more about the sudden abrupt outbursts, like how Takeshi Kitano would do things once upon a time.

Originality: 4. I went back and forth between 3 and 4 on this. It’s not the most original idea – we’ve seen angry man movies, we’ve seen trying to get home movies etc. But it’s the merging of these ideas, the positioning of the story in a modern day, recognizable, cosmopolitan warzone, and making the lead character conflicted and one who seems genuinely unsure of how to even exist anymore when his idea of how the world should be no longer exists.

Miscellaneous: 3. Nothing worthy enough to get me up to a 4. I love the poster.

Personal: 5. On another day if I was being more critical I’d go down to a 4, but I love it.

Total Score: 71/100.

Let us know your scores in the comments!

Christmas At Castle Hart

Christmas at Castle Hart (TV Movie 2021) - IMDb

Top of the morning to ya, and other things us Irish folk don’t actually say. Who knows, maybe those weirdos down South of the border do, but up here you’re more likely to get a side-eyed glance followed by a rapid fire WHATABOUTYEBIGLAWDWHATAREYAAFTER? Yes, you are correct; Lacey Chabert has finally brought her Hallmark movies to Ireland!

Lacey and her sister work together as (I want to say…) waitresses, but are fired for making fun of their boss while their boss is standing behind them. Christmas is coming, the girls have nothing better to do, so they decide to fly off to a small village in Ireland to look into their family routes. It’s all very charming and quaint and the locals take the girls Americanisms with good spirits, and before long they’re snooping around the local Castle. Screwball misunderstandings occur, and Lacey and her sister finds themselves pretending to be high class event planners so that they can help the local Earl (Stuart Townsend) run a Christmas party at the Castle. As the girls plan for Christmas, they become more entangled in the myth they’ve created, become closer to the men and women of the town, start developing romantic feelings for some of them, and grown guilty about living this lie.

It’s standard Hallmark fair – festive, light romance, pretty people, a harmless plot and cast, gentle humour, and it is all wrapped up neatly with a bow for a heart-warming ending. The positives are Lacey and the rest of the cast, the novelty of having the film somewhat close to me, and having the film set outside one of the major US cities. It’s something which these kinds of movies have been doing ore of recently – taking familiar stories and giving them a very slight cultural twist by situating them in another Country and showing off some of the scenery. This being Ireland… we don’t get a lot of snow, so it was amusing seeing the fake frosting and snow covering the streets and houses on screen, and most of the Irishisms which are made are done are responded to in a withering fashion by others in the cast. These films never feel super-Christmasy, but they have become a festive tradition in themselves and gives me and the missus a break from the usual Die Hards and Rare Exports.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Christmas At Castle Hart!

Nightman’s Favourite Movies – Critically Destroyed!

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*NOTE – Sometimes things get messy when you’re an unstructured mess like I am. The post below was written in advance of me posting my first Get Rekt movie post. But then I forgot to publish it, flying ahead with the series with no explanation. I’m rectifying (rektifying?) that now. So this is a slightly more pointless post than most stuff around here.

Greetings, Glancers! You’ve read it by now, right? My Nightman’s Scoring System (c) Movie Edition post? If you haven’t, click that link and start using it – bloggers, critics, movie reviewers – it’s a great system to employ if you absolutely must give a score in your movie reviews, much better than an arbitrary or random score out of 5, 10, or 100.

If you hang around my site more than is legally advised, chancers are you’ve had a juke at either my Favourite Movies By Year posts or my Beatles albums reviews. In the Beatles posts, I used the musical version of the Nightman Scoring System (c) to give a score. As I was brushing my teeth last night, I was thinking how to better advertise and use the Movie version in my posts and have decided to go through my Movies By Year posts and score those movies using the system. If I was going down the purely arbitrary route, I would simply assign a 5 out of 5, or 10 out of 10 to everyone one of those. That would be selfish and based mostly on personal preference, while I’m aware that quite a few of those films are not ‘good’ or deserving of such a score on a critical level.

But I’m curious to see how well these films do in terms of scoring, and how they rank against each other. Is Problem Child a better film than Police Academy 4? I have no idea, but we’ll find out. Twenty categories, each with a score out of five, each given as honest a consideration as I can provide while admittedly being a bias-tainted fanboy, totalled to tally a final result out of 100. It’s going to take a while, and I’ll probably give up long before the end, but I’m planning to give it a shot.

In writing my original yearly favourite movie posts, I started at 1950 and worked forwards and for my updated posts I started at 2010 and worked backwards. To spice things up for myself in this series, I think I’m going to start with the Number 10s of each year, starting with 1950, then circle back to the Number 9s until we get to the Number 1s. That way I won’t get bored looking at the same year for weeks on end. It would be swell if we had some audience participation too – give your own scores and we can compare. I know you won’t, but I can dream.

In all seriousness, this is mainly another case of my curiosity getting the better of me, leading to another series of posts no-one is going to care about. I have fun writing these things though, so it’s all good. As always, feel free to drop your input in the comments section and I’ll see you there!

Tusk

Tusk (2014) - IMDb

Say what you will about Kevin Smith, but you can’t deny what an interesting career he’s had, a true American Dream for the modern world. Ignoring his work as a writer, comedian, podcaster etc, and purely focusing on him as a director, he came from nowhere with Clerks which cemented him as an up and coming Indie darling. His first phase saw him releasing cult hit after cult hit, ending with Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back. His next phase saw a big budget failure, a sequel, a return to his cult type comedies, and a buddy cop movie. Then he turned his eye towards horror, something few could have anticipated, with Red State being an interesting exercise in satire, and Tusk which is… something else entirely.

Born out of an idea from one of Smith’s own Podcasts, Tusk stars the ever game Justin Long as an obnoxious clout follower, a Tom Greene for the new Internet Age. He courts controversy (the Not See Party) and seemingly makes his money by exploiting and making fun of online and real-life idiots. A step above your average Insta-Influencer then. He’s an all round jerk, treating people like NPCs and even his beautiful, devoted girlfriend played by Genesis Rodriguez. For his next episode, he is travelling to Canada to interview a kid who became a fleeting online sensation when he filmed himself accidentally cutting off a limb in the midst of some samurai sword swinging. When his trip is derailed, he instead finds himself lodging with the mysterious and storied Howard Howe who wishes to share some of his sea-faring tales. Unfortunately, Mr Howe is more than what he seems.

Tusk is an odd movie – the whole turning a man into a Walrus is the least unusual thing. For strange for me was the critical divide and reaction. I fully expected critics to not enjoy it, but I didn’t expect that so many would be so bewilderingly upset or sickened by it. It’s not particularly shocking, it’s clearly a comedy with a bit of a horror twist, and it’s so ridiculous that to be so morally offended by it you must similarly be dumbfounded by a toddler farting in your lap. I can only assume the critics are so closeted and precious that they’ve never experienced the real world, never mind the various lewd fantasies which creatives can dream up.

More odd are the characters themselves, and the associated performances. Michael Parks is extraordinary in his dual roles, playing different versions of Howe at different times, while Johnny Depp shows off and seems to be in a different movie from everyone else, hamming things up more than what is required. Elsewhere, Smith’s writing is as characteristically sharp as ever with the dialogue being snappy, the speeches being affecting, and the whole exploitation angles growing more prescient as each new person decides to turn to an empty online world for fame and acceptance. There just happens to also be a bit about legs being amputated and skin being stretched so that an old wrong can be rectified.

It’s not Smith’s best work, but it’s another example of him trying something which few others would, and being better at it than he has any right to be. Let us know in the comments what you think of Tusk!

Best Costume Design – 1983

Official Nominations: Fanny & Alexander. Cross Creek. Heart Like A Wheel. The Return Of Martin Guerre. Zelig.

You can always rely on the Best Costume Design category to throw up a batch of films most people won’t remember seeing. The average film-going audience of today. Even back in 1983, these weren’t the most popular films. Lets avoid any Population fallacies and judge the movies on their own merits. Fanny & Alexander picked up the win – the Academy giving Bergman movies the soft wins when they can. Marik Vos had been nominated alongside Bergman before, and finally picked up a deserved win. However, it’s a 1982 film, and for my intents and purposes shouldn’t be here.

In the same vein, The Return Of Martin Guerre can be discounted as a 1982 film. Most people will know it as the film Sommersby was the remake of. Decent performances, decent music, and plenty of detailed costumes apparently accurate to what 16th Century French peeps wore.

Cross Creek is a decent, if dull Biography. It was (in 1983) a sort of period piece, and those always get nominated here. Fine. Heart Like A Wheel is similar, but takes place in a more modern period and focuses on Drag Racing, while Zelig follows suit – a Woody Allen effort told in an interesting style. None of the films are the sort of thing I would nominate here, but I have to pick a winner.

My Winner: Zelig

Zelig (1983) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

My Nominations: Flashdance. The Hunger. Krull. Project A. Return Of The Jedi. Scarface. Something Wicked This Way Comes.

None of the official picks make it over to my list. Admittedly, I could cut mine down to five by removing Krull – a film whose budget limitations and datedness gets in the way of its imagination, and Something Wicked This Way Comes which always felt like a TV movie even with its cool costumes for Mr Dark and The Dust Witch.

Flashdance then – a musical, a rags to riches tale of sorts – all fodder for The Academy and the sort of thing you would normally expect to get a nomination or two here. Dancing, and tight leotards, and danger zones were all the rage in the 80s so this seems like a worthy pick here. The Hunger is more offbeat, an exercise in style and one which has a keen eye for fashion and beauty and obsession. Project A is a Hong Kong movie so stood no chance of picking up any nominations – even less so because it’s a Martial Arts movie. But it’s also a period piece which looks swell.

If any of my picks could be classed as snubs here, Scarface would maybe be the one you would pick, its notable excesses exemplified at various points through the use of its often hilariously over the top costuming. My winner, unsurprisingly, is Return Of The Jedi. The sheer effort in crafting costumes, often highly individualised yet fitting for the race involved, for some many people and creatures, is once again ridiculous and makes any other option in this category null and void.

My Winner: Return Of The Jedi

Let us know your winner in the comments!