Sunday, July 31, 2011

Power Rankings: Most Quotable Movies

Counting down the most quotable movies of all time is a difficult task. There are several factors that have to be taken into account including common everyday use, amount of instantly classic quotes, and use of quotes in other mediums. Narrowing down this list was very difficult, but I think I came up with the most objective list as possible for me, along with a few strictly personal choices. Here is what I came up with:

Others receiving votes: The Breakfast Club, Clerks, Fight Club, The Godfather, Top Gun

10. Casablanca

The reason that this is included on the list is almost solely for the last ten minutes of quotes. Each line is a classic, and it features six on AFI’s list, the most of any movie. It is just an extraordinarily well-written movie with lines that will forever be engrained in the head of anyone who watches it.

Best quote: “Alright, I'll make it easier for you… go ahead and shoot. You'll be doing me a favor.” (Rick; Humphrey Bogart)

Most quoted line: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

9. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

“It’s called sex panther. It’s got bits of real panthers in it, so you know it’s good!” “I love scotch… scotchy scotch scotch.” I am not even the biggest fan of this movie, but there are a ton of quotes in this movie that are used everywhere. It is the kind of movie that you will quote randomly and not even realize you were quoting a movie. The random things that Ron and company say immediately feel like they are everyday sayings, and there are also the lines that will undeniably take you back to the movie and make you laugh. It is a great mix of wacky humor, as well as perceptive spoofs. It is by far the most quoted comedy of this generation.

Best quote: “(putting mayonnaise in a toaster) I'm Brick Tamland. People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late. I like to eat ice cream and I really enjoy a nice pair of slacks. Years later, a doctor will tell me that I have an I.Q. of 48 and am what some people call mentally retarded.” (Brick; Steve Carell)

Most quoted line: “You stay classy, San Diego.”

8. Sideways

This is a very personal inclusion for me. Anyone who knows me is already aware of my ridiculous love for this movie. I quote the movie basically everyday because, let’s face it, Sideways is life. There is no movie that is more representative of relationships and critiques on everything like this movie. It is hilarious, heartbreaking, and always intelligent. I quote the movie to everyone, whether they have seen it or not, and yet, it never sounds or seems out of place. There is room for Sideways in every conversation.

Best quote: "It's a hard grape to grow. As you know. Right? It's, uh, it's thin-skinned, temperamental, ripens early. It's, you know, it's not a survivor like cabernet, which can just grow anywhere and thrive even when it's neglected. No, pinot needs constant care and attention. You know? And, in fact, it can only grow in these really specific, little tucked-away corners of the world. And only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot's potential can then coax it into its fullest expression." (Miles; Paul Giamatti)

Most quoted line: “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!”

7. Forrest Gump

There are as many classic quotes in this movie as any movie in the last 20 years. People use quotes like “Stupid is as stupid does” who may not have even seen the movie, or may not even be aware that they are quoting something. It is a movie that is filled with so many of these types of lines that it would be a joke not to include it on this list.

Best quote: “He was from a long great military tradition. Somebody from his family had fought and died in every single American war. I guess you could say he had a lot to live up to.” (Forrest; Tom Hanks)

Most quoted line: “Life is like a box of chocolates.”

6. Superbad

It is no real surprise that comedies seemed to dominate this list. This is a movie that is filled with those lines that every teenager has thought or said at some point, but never have they been put to use with such effortlessness as they were in this movie. There are so many great quotes in this movie, but none of them really are punch lines. They are all in-the-moment passing statements that are hilarious due to the context. So the quotes may not be as accessible as other movie quotes, but they are just as good.

Best quote: “You know how many foods are shaped like dicks? The best kinds!” (Seth; Jonah Hill)

Most quoted line: “I am McLovin!”

5. Dumb and Dumber

It is ridiculous how many recognizable quotes there are from this movie. Hanging out with friends, it is like a thing with us where a quote from this movie will be used at some point. Most of the time, it is not even forced. It just comes out. And we haven’t run out of quotes yet. This is the kind of stupid comedy that has a punch line seemingly every ten seconds, but no matter how many tens of times you see the movie, they will still be funny. And that is saying something.

Best quote: “Yeah I called her up. She gave me a bunch of crap about me not listening to her, or something. I don't know; I wasn't really paying attention.” (Harry; Jeff Daniels)

Most quoted line: “Austria! Well, then. G'day mate! Let's put another shrimp on the barbie!”

4. The Usual Suspects

This is the kind of movie that is included simply because it is just so well-written and filled with lines and moments that are immediately unforgettable. They are brilliant lines that can be taken out of context and still be just as meaningful and shrewd. It seems to be the norm in movies that one or two characters are given all the good lines, but in this movie, the entire cast has at least a handful of lines that I can never forget. That is really rare.

Best quote: “How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?” (Verbal; Kevin Spacey)

Most quoted line: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

3. Office Space

The top comedy on this list is a no-brainer. Office Space is a movie that can never run out quotable lines. They are just as useful in every day conversation as Sideways, but a lot more widespread and popular. Every word Lumberg speaks, ever mumbling moment from Milton, and every sarcastic rant by Michael all rank with some of the best lines in movies in the last 15 years. It is a movie whose quote mill will never run dry as long as there are still bad bosses and boring jobs.

Best quote: “I can't believe what a bunch of nerds we are. We're looking up ‘money laundering’ in a dictionary.” (Michael; David Herman)

Most quoted line: “Looks like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.”

2. Star Wars trilogy

I cannot think of a movie with more recognizable quotes than Star Wars and its two immediate sequels. The ridiculous writing by George Lucas and crew is so corny, but somehow all of that is so endearing that nerds like me get completely wrapped up in the crazy lingo and intensely serious series of lame, on-the-surface quotes. Let me be clear that I am not criticizing the movies. I love every moment of all three of them, but the quotes that are most often used are such bad lines, but they always relay back to those movies, which by association makes them absolutely brilliant. Never has a movie series been so in touch with its tone and so in tune with its created universe. Every character has a million punch lines, and they are all immediately identifiable, even if someone has not seen the movies. It is an unstoppable, amazing phenomenon, and the quoting of these movies will go on forever.

Best quote: “Had a slight weapons malfunction, but everything's perfectly alright now. We're fine, we're all fine, here, now, thank you. How are you?” (Han; Harrison Ford)

Most quoted line: “May the force be with you.”

1. Scarface

When I first came up with the idea for this list, there was no other movie that could possibly have been named number one other than Scarface. It is a movie that many people would not immediately think of as being super quotable, but upon a rewatch or two, it is obvious. Each and every line that Tony Montana says seems like a punch line. It is almost like Oliver Stone thought that since he wasn’t going to be able to speak English all that well that he needed to pack all of his brilliant and hilarious lines into a lot smaller volume. There really is nothing like the world that Brian de Palma creates in this movie. It is one of the few times that after the movie the audience will want to start talking like the main character. You will want to throw the movie back in just to live in it a bit longer. There are so many passing lines that are amazing that one will not catch on one single viewing. I also realize that Scarface is definitely an acquired taste, but when that taste is developed, there is no greater three-hour series of quotes than this screenplay contains.

Best quote: "All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don't break them for no one." (Tony; Al Pacino)

Most quoted line: “Say hello to my little friend!”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) Review

Directed by David Yates

For the longest time, I was indifferent to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. Then, as it continued to grow in popularity, I started to be opposed to everything Harry Potter simply because I did not know what all the fuss was over having never read one of the books or seen one of the movies. After some time, my indifference that had turned to hate slowly developed into curiosity. Last fall, my curiosity finally got the best of me. I decided to see why everyone was so obsessed about what was going on in Hogwarts. Now I know.

This film franchise has brought on an imagination and creative touch not seen since the Star Wars franchise. It sets up a wonderfully magical world that enhances the wild adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. After viewing the first film, I was hooked. Every chance I had to watch a movie, I was going back to Hogwarts to see what kind of trouble the three friends could get into now. I worked my way through the first six films in time to catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in theatres last November. Needless to say, Part 2 became one of my most anticipated films of 2011. After seeing it, it did not disappoint as it gave a very fitting end to the Harry Potter saga.

For those that have not seen the first six Harry Potter movies, I will try not to give anything away. However, it is going to be almost impossible to understand what the plot points even mean if you don't know anything about the Harry Potter world.

The first thing I noticed about Part 2 was that it did not feel like a sequel at all. There was no backtracking to bring everyone up to speed on what had been going on; no rehashing of previous events. The last image of Part 1 becomes the first image of Part 2, and the movie is off on its wild ride. It is a true continuation really making the two parts feel like a four and a half hour complete story. So the first thing we see is Voldemort finding the elder wand, which is one-third of the Deathly Hallows. Now Voldemort feels powerful enough to destroy Harry. In the meantime, Harry and his friends are once again in hiding from all of Volemort's agents that are out to find him. However, Harry is continuing his hunt for the final horcruxes to destroy Voldemort. All this leads Harry back to Hogwarts, and eventually into the final battle everyone has been waiting for against Voldemort.

As with all the Harry Potter films, the visual effects are outstanding. However, what really starts to stand out in the final few films, Part 2 included, is how talented the three young leads are. When Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson first started their journeys in J.K. Rowling's magical world, they were just 12, 13, and 11 years old respectfully. Now, 10 years later, the cute little kids that started it all are now 22, 23, and 21 years old and have become three extremely talented actors. This is shown as they are able to hold their own on screen with industry heavyweights like Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, and Michael Gambon. This leads to the next thing that makes these films amazing. There is so much talent involved with these films, it is almost laughable. When you have minor side characters played by the likes of Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent, you have a stacked cast. At times, it got to the point where it was harder to name a British actor that was not involved in the Harry Potter franchise than one that was. All this talent involved helped make the Harry Potter saga that much more exciting.

It is hard to evaluate a film like this without thinking of it as the culmination of the previous 7 installments. On its own, it is a solid film. One complaint I have is something I find myself saying more and more often: it could have been longer. At times as the end of the story was unfolding, it felt somewhat rushed which was unusual for this franchise. All the other films did such a good job explaining every aspect of the Harry Potter world that you could understand everything that was happening whether you read all the books or never heard of Harry Potter before. At times in Part 2, this is not the case as it tries to explain complicated and intricate plot points through rushed and slightly confusing flashbacks. It is the one film out of the eight that I needed to talk to someone who had read the books to get some clarification on what actually happened with some of the closing plot points.

Like I said though, it is impossible to look at this film as its own entity similar to Return of the King or even Return of the Jedi. It has to also be considered as the closing chapter to a franchise that has been a decade in the making and has become one of the most successful franchises of films of all time. One thing I point to that sets this franchise apart from many others is the continuity of the series. So many franchises are simply disconnected new adventures of the main group of characters in the franchise. Although this is the case to an extent in the Harry Potter films, it also shows an incredible amount of continuity and forethought. Nothing is done randomly. From the first film to the last, everything is connected. There are events that take place in the first, second, third, fourth installments that become significant plot points in the conclusion of the story. This makes Harry Potter one of the most fascinating and exciting franchises I have seen from start to finish.

Although this film may not be the best of the series, it brings about the perfect ending to an amazing franchise that has become a part of our culture. It has skyrocketed the three main starts to a legendary status reached by very few. Don't be surprised if you find this film on the list of Oscar Best Picture nominees at the end of the year. If you are one like me and resisted Harry Potter because it seemed silly, childish, or just too much of a craze to be worth your time, it is time to introduce yourself to the landmark world of Harry Potter.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Thursday, July 14, 2011

First Half of 2011

The first half of 2011 has been about as unremarkable as any first half of a year in recent memory. Aside from The Tree of Life, almost no films with any buzz around them have been released. Of the 52 movies that I have seen thus far, only 18 have actually garnered a 3-star rating or higher. Only two films would have even been in consideration for my top 10 last year. At this time in 2010, there were already about 7 or 8 movies that were held up to that standard. So, simply doing my top 5 of the year would be somewhat pathetic, so I will run down my major category lineups for the first half as well. Here is how January-June has shaken down so far:


5. I Saw the Devil

4. Everything Must Go

3. Barney’s Version

2. The Adjustment Bureau

1. Tyrannosaur

This group of nominees is somewhat admirable. I Saw the Devil was not a great film, but the screenplay is definitely what made it most appealing. The other four are definitely achievements in screenplay, and I would not be too upset if any of them wind up being close to my top 5 by year’s end.

Possible year-end nominees: Tyrannosaur


5. Rubber

4. Source Code

3. The Tree of Life

2. Midnight in Paris

1. Cedar Rapids

This is an odd group so far. Rubber is about the weirdest movie of the year, yet with its brilliantly deranged screenplay and commentary on voyeuristic movie elements, it certainly should rank with the best screenplays. Source Code and The Tree of Life are mentioned mainly for their artistic handling of their original stories. The two comedies at the top are basically even with some considerable distance between them and the others listed.

Possible year-end nominees: Cedar Rapids, Midnight in Paris


5. Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris

4. J.J. Abrams – Super 8

3. Duncan Jones – Source Code

2. Paddy Considine - Tyrannosaur

1. Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life

This director lineup is made up of some rather big names. Woody Allen has only twice been in my Best Director lineup, and he has almost no shot at remaining there this year. J.J. Abrams and Duncan Jones have become strong sci-fi directors, and their beautiful direction is recognized here. The top two are the two best films of the year, Considine making his directorial debut and Malick making his fifth film over the past 38 years. Malick may not be dethroned of this title. His vision and style are beyond breathtaking.

Possible year-end nominees: Terrence Malick, Paddy Considine


5. Elle Fanning – Super 8

4. Jessica Chastain – The Tree of Life

3. Anne Heche – Cedar Rapids

2. Rosamund Pike – Barney’s Version

1. Lisa Kudrow – The Other Woman

This is an odd group of nominees so far. Elle Fanning was superb in her scene-stealing part in Super 8. She will be an Oscar nominee in no time. Jessica Chastain is going to have a huge year, and she started off very strong with her work in Malick’s film. Anne Heche gave her best performance since Donnie Brasco. Rosamund Pike was subtle and brilliant in Barney’s Version opposite Paul Giamatti. Finally, Lisa Kudrow, who has been nominated by me once in the past (The Opposite of Sex), gives potentially her best dramatic work ever in what was a decent film. The acting is what made the film worth watching, and no one was better than her antagonistic character.

Possible year-end nominees: NONE


5. Hunter McCracken – The Tree of Life

4. Tommy Lee Jones – The Company Men

3. Eddie Marsan – Tyrannosaur

2. John C. Reilly – Cedar Rapids

1. Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life

This is probably the strongest of the current acting lineups. Hunter McCracken was astonishing in The Tree of Life as the young version of Sean Penn. I don’t normally nominate children, but he was impossible to ignore. Tommy Lee Jones was the main highlight of The Company Men’s amazing cast. Eddie Marsan was great as usual, playing a character that is impossible to like or even empathize with. John C. Reilly stole every one of his scenes. Finally, Brad Pitt’s calm, powerful performance dominates this category and is a virtual lock for my year-end list as well as an eventual Oscar nomination.

Possible year-end nominees: Brad Pitt, John C. Reilly


5. Janet McTeer – Cat Run

4. Amber Heard – The Ward

3. Rashida Jones – Monogamy

2. Natalie Portman – The Other Woman

1. Olivia Colman – Tyrannosaur

This is a raggedy bunch of nominees. Janet McTeer was crazy in her old-lady assassin role in that grindhouse film of sorts. Amber Heard was good in The Ward and Drive Angry 3D, but neither is really award-worthy work. Rashida Jones is quite good in everything, and her work in the tiny budget Monogamy is the best of her blossoming career. Natalie Portman was strong as always in The Other Woman, but also very good in No Strings Attached. Olivia Colman was astonishing in Tyrannosaur, completely falling into her character. For an actress known more for comedy, she really can disappear into a character and show emotions seemingly effortlessly.

Possible year-end nominees: Olivia Colman


5. Owen Wilson – Midnight in Paris

4. Will Ferrell – Everything Must Go

3. Ed Helms – Cedar Rapids

2. Peter Mullan – Tyrannosaur

1. Paul Giamatti – Barney’s Version

The three comedians in this category is not a normal thing for me. I have never nominated any of them for an award in an acting category. Owen Wilson somehow avoids the usual Woody Allen quirks and creates a real character. Will Ferrell shows once again that he has great dramatic talent when he wants to show it. El Helms is hilarious in his wonderfully quirky performance. Peter Mullan is hauntingly good in Tyrannosaur. Paul Giamatti, who won the Golden Globe last year, is hilarious, heartbreaking, and always amazing in his part. He has become perhaps the best character actor in the business, especially for these types of parts.

Possible year-end nominees: Paul Giamatti, Peter Mullan


5. Rubber

4. Midnight in Paris

3. Cedar Rapids

2. The Tree of Life

1. Tyrannosaur

These are honestly my only 3.5-star and 4-star films I have seen this year (out of 52 overall). Rubber is on there because basically, I have not had more fun watching and deciphering a movie this year. I realize that it is not exactly art, but it really is hilarious and thrilling to watch. A movie about a serial-killing tire can only go so far, but this movie made it into something mildly fascinating. Midnight in Paris was the best Woody Allen film in at least 6 years in most critics’ views, but for me, it is his best since Bullets Over Broadway in 1994. I loved the Paris nightlife and shameless name-dropping. The script was beautifully put together, and the little cameos make the movie even more glorious. Cedar Rapids was one of the best darker comedies I have seen in quite some time. Ed Helms and company get lost in their roles, and it now ranks with some of my favorite workplace comedies. The Tree of Life is a movie experience that seems overwhelming at first, but only upon reflection later can the viewer really appreciate what they saw. Perhaps this is how it gets booed at Cannes, then wins the Palm D’or. Finally, Tyrannosaur (actually not released yet; screened at the Seattle International Film Festival) is the best movie I have seen in 2011. It is a brutal movie to watch. The characters do everything to push the audience away, but for some reason, we cannot stop watching. It is as intense of an experience as I have had at the theater this year, and it is a movie that I will not forget. It features the most powerful acting of any movie in the last year, and the ending will haunt you. See this movie whenever it gets a theatrical run. It is well worth it.

Possible year-end nominees: Tyrannosaur, The Tree of Life

So, there you have it. Have you seen any other great movies, performances, or screenplays that I may have neglected? Let me know.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011) Review

Directed by Seth Gordon

From the first time I caught wind of the projected cast for Horrible Bosses, it was immediately among my most anticipated comedies of the 2011. The trailer was good, the TV spots were fine, and the red band trailer was hilarious. I had extremely high hopes, and finally, in a year of trashy movies and many disappointments, this movie lives up to the hype. It is the funniest movie of the year so far.

Seth Gordon, probably most known for his hugely popular documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, directs this sharp, funny comedy with a lot of flair. It always looks great, almost in a Judd Apatow type of way. He is a director to watch for sure, even though he did direct that failure Four Christmases. But that is beyond the point. This movie showed a lot of potential.

The story is a brilliant one for a buddy comedy. Nick (Jason Bateman) is a businessman who is looking forward to his inevitable promotion to VP of Sales, when his prick boss Harken (Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey) just absorbs the responsibility himself, basically giving Nick the shaft. Dale (Charlie Day) is a dental assistant to Julia (Jennifer Aniston), who will stop at nothing to make Dale sleep with him. Doesn’t seem like too much of a plight, but he is engaged, so I suppose that changes it a bit. Finally, Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) works at an energy company for Jack (Donald Sutherland), a boss who he actually likes. He dies, and his son Bobby (Colin Farrell) takes over, who is a cocaine-addicted party animal who wants to drain the company of his money. The three best friends get a drunken idea one night to murder their bosses, and they pursue it. Following a meeting with Motherfucker Jones (Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx), a criminal who offers up some help, they try to put together the perfect series of murders.

Now, the movie on its surface might seem very slight and stupid. That might be a truth, because it seems like a Todd Phillips or Farrelly Brothers story. However, the writers are all basically making the first movie after spending several years in TV. The screenplay comes off as a slightly dirtier Apatow picture, which let’s be honest, is as good of a compliment as you can give a buddy comedy. There are flashes of absolute brilliance, and there are very few times when there are moments of eye-rolling or jokes that simply fall flat. There are some great passing movie references, which basically are Easter Eggs to avid moviegoers. I do not have too many complaints with the screenplay, other than the fact that the movie does dip into unnecessary action sequences and just stretches the limits of plausibility on several occasions. I realize that the movie isn’t supposed to be real, but sometimes keeping the plausibility can make the movie even better and an instant classic.

The acting in the movie is quite good on most fronts. Jason Bateman gives one of his finest performances. Normally when I see him in a movie it is always just him playing himself, but he kinda loses himself in the movie. It was really nice work. Jason Sudeikis is funny as usual, but it is almost a caricature. Relative newcomer Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is probably going to get the best in show marks from the average fan, playing the dumbest of the three dimwits, and while he definitely had his moments, some of it comes off as whiny and annoying. Jamie Foxx is hilarious. Colin Farrell plays widely against type and is brilliant. Jennifer Aniston plays as far away from type as possible. I cannot help but hope that this is the direction she will go from now on and finally shed her Rachel Green image that has been overshadowing her career for the past decade. The best performance by far and the main reason to see the movie is obviously Kevin Spacey. His work is basically the wet dream of what Lester Burnham would want to be like in his office. His character is such a badass and so cruel that it is an absolute pleasure to watch. I almost found myself rooting for him for no other reason than my hopes to see more of his character. Spacey is pure comic gold.

So, a movie like this is not going to be perfect. Hard-R comedy is so hard to pull off these days, and this is one of the better efforts that I have seen in the last year. The buddy comedy thing is done to death, but this collection of actors and semi-fresh premise make the movie a real joy. The past failed attempts by Todd Phillips and other might even juice up this movie’s reputation. I hope that people go see it, despite the relative lack of mass previews. This is one of the most enjoyable times I have had at the movies this year, and while it is far from an instant classic comedy, it is well worth your time.

Rating: 3 stars