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Alphabetical Movie – The Majestic

You know, I really loved The Majestic the first time I watched it.  Until I watched it for the Alphabetical Movie Project, I hadn’t watched it again.  I didn’t really understand why it was considered a bad film.

I don’t think it’s a bad movie.  But wow.  It is nowhere near as good as I remember.

I generally think I’m a bad judge of movies on a single viewing.  I like a lot of films the first time I see them because I’m focused on the stuff that was good.  Most films have at least a few parts that are good.  It took me a few weeks of thinking about the film before I finally concluded that yes, Man of Steel was pretty dumb.

There was still stuff I liked in the film that I liked.  Can’t recall what that stuff was but I remember there were a lot of parts I liked.

When I watch a movie in the theatre, I want it to be a good experience.  I like seeing films in the movie theatre but it costs a lot to see go to the theatre.  If I’m going to shell out money and time to see a film, I want to find something to enjoy.

A few years later, I’ll go back to a film like The Majestic and realize that my desire to enjoy the film was what made it worthwhile.

I’m not saying that is a bad thing.  Unless my goal was to watch a bad film, it is actually a good thing to walk out of the theater feeling like it was time well spent.

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Alphabetical Movie – Magnum Force

The first thing I think about every time I hear the name of this movie is how you can conveniently turn it into a porno version without changing the name.  Actually, you probably wouldn’t have to change the plot all that much.

Harry Ballahan is a tough cop who doesn’t play by the rules.  He and his partner are upset because a gangster beats the rap in court so they double team the court reporter.

At the same time, a cop shows up and kills the gangster and everyone in the car.  Then he goes home and his wife gives him a blow job.

Ballahan goes in to talk to his boss, Lieutenant Bangs, who is having sex with his secretary.  They talk about the murder of the gangster while Bangs is having sex.  Because he can multi task.

Then a couple of female cops have sex.  Just because that sort of thing happens all the time during a murder investigation.

We switch to a gigantic orgy.  For like fifteen minutes.  Just tons of people having sex.  They switch partners.  They don’t use condoms.  It’s just insane.  And strangely boring.

Then the party blows up because it turns out all those people having sex were gangsters.

Ballahan is stumped.  He has no idea who could be killing all of the gangsters in town.  In fact, he delivers this exact line: “Damn!  I have no idea who is killing all the gangsters in town!”  He pounds his fist on the table and takes a swig of beer for emphasis.

So he orders a pizza. For some reason, it takes two women to deliver a pizza.  And Ballahan doesn’t have any cash for a tip…

He goes to a really nice house with a pool in the suburbs to ask some questions.  While he’s on his way, one of the killer cops breaks into a prostitutes room.  She doesn’t have any information for him so they just have sex.  Her pimp breaks in and he shoots the guy while he is still having sex with the prostitute.

The sex scene lasts for another two minutes and the entire time the pimp is lying on the floor dying.  He’s still able to masturbate while watching them have sex.  He ejaculates and then expires.

Ballahan arrives at the house with the pool and there is a beautiful naked woman swimming in the pool.  He asks her if he can ask her a few questions.  She unzips his fly and he says he has no time for that right now.

Literally.  His line is “I have no time for that right now.”

Turns out he does though, because they have sex in the hot tub.

Cut to Ballahan’s partner, who is having sex with his wife.  At least we assume it is his wife because she’s the only other black person in the entire movie.

They have sex for a while and then he goes to the bathroom while she masturbates.  As soon as she finishes, there is an explosion and she screams.  What I mean is there is an explosion in the bathroom.  Like from a bomb.

Cut to Ballahan comforting his partner’s wife (his partner didn’t have a name because he was black).  She tells him that she’s so lonely so they have sex.  She feels a little better.

Then we cut to Lieutenant Bangs office.  Harry tells Bangs that he knows who did it.  Bang says really, who?

Again, that is the exact line.  “I know who did it.”

“Really? who?”

“It’s you Bangs.”

“You’ll never catch me!”

“Like hell I won’t.”

Then Ballahan punches Bangs in the face.  Actually it looks more like he punches Bangs in the shoulder.  But Bangs falls down as if he was punched in the face.

Then the two lesbian cops show up wearing really short skirts, high heels, and shirts unbuttoned to their navels.  He tells them to take Bangs away but they say they have a better idea.

The movie ends with Bangs handcuffed to a chair watching Ballahan having sex with the lesbian cops and complaining that he doesn’t have a hand free to masturbate.

After the credits, there is a credit cookie where the two pizza delivery girls show up.  Ballahan looks at the camera and says “A cop’s work is never done” and we fade to black as the pizza girls start to take off their pants (but not their shoes).

See?  Practically the same movie.

Alphabetical Movie – Magnolia

I don’t really care when a critic savages a movie I love.  Critics are paid to write about film and be interesting.  As Anton Ego says in Ratatouille, negative reviews are fun to write.  Magnolia, however, is the source of the worst negative review I’ve ever read.

My issue with the review (which you can read here) is not that City Pages critic Rob Nelson hated the movie.  That’s totally fine.  He has the right to hate the movie and it is his job to tell people what the thought.

My biggest issue was that the review, at least in its reference to the character played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is completely misleading.  He refers to Hoffman’s character as nurse who “who nervously orders porno mags for home delivery.”

While this statement is true, the statement’s implication of why he is doing this is far different from his actual motivation.  We read that line and we conclude that he is probably ordering these magazines for his own personal use.  We are given the impression he is some sort of pervert who is reading porn and jerking off while a man lies dying nearby.  He clearly doesn’t give a shit about his patient and cares only about his own sexual gratification.  Maybe he’s a closeted gay necrophiliac or something.

In fact, Hoffman’s character is the kindest and most compassionate person in the entire film.  He treats his dying patient with care and respect and when he is asked to do that patient a favor, he goes far beyond his charge as a nurse.

He orders those magazines as a way to help him search for a man’s estranged son.  That is what the review carefully doesn’t tell you.

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Alphabetical Movie – The Magnificent Seven

Not only did I watch this film for the Alphabetical movie project recently, I watched it again for A Reel Education!

That provides me with a wonderful springboard to talk about A Reel Education, which is by far my favorite podcast to record.

Every couple of weeks I get to sit down with Jena Young and Melissa Kaercher, watch a movie and then talk about it.  How is that not the best idea for a podcast ever?  I’m not saying that it is the best idea from a “everyone wants to listen to this podcast” standpoint.

Rather, it is the best idea from a “boy do I enjoy spending my time this way” standpoint.

 

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Alphabetical Movie – The Madness of King George

I don’t know if anyone has kept an official tally but it sure does seem to me like the best way to earn an Oscar nomination is to play an English monarch.  Helen Mirren has an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth II.  Judi Dench has one for playing Queen Elizabeth I.  Dench was also nominated for playing Queen Victoria.  Cate Blanchett was nominated for playing Elizabeth I twice.

That’s just the queens.  When it comes to the Kings, things get completely ridiculous.  Not too many wins.  Colin Firth has one for The King’s Speech, Charles Laughton for The Private Life of King Henry VIII,  and Laurence Olivier got an honorary one for Henry V but when it comes to nominations, seems like almost every king of England is Represented.

Nigel Hawthorne was nominated as George III in The Madness of King George.  Both Olivier and Kenneth Branaugh were nominated for Henry V.  Peter O’Toole was nominated for playing King Henry II in two different films!  Robert Shaw was also nominated for playing Henry VIII but he probably lost that award due to stupid Oscar politics.  Henry VIII already had an Oscar.

Fucking Charles Laughton.

Olivier was nominated for Richard III.

Oooo!  Richard Dreyfuss won for The Goodbye Girl and he was in a production of “Richard III” in that movie.  I’m going to count that one!

I mean, you can get nominated for playing a lot of other roles but a head of state in England just might be the ticket, baby!

Maybe it just feels that way because when it comes to historical drama, political leaders are well represented.  If you make an American film, you wouldn’t be surprised to see it feature a President (and boy o boy have a lot of folks been nominated for playing Presidents).  If the film is set in England, a monarch just might show up.

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Alphabetical Movie – Made for Each Other

I have an autographed picture of Jimmy Stewart in my bathroom.  I know that hardly sounds like a place of honor but it is in the same bathroom with my Peter Jackson autograph so please accept that only the most important stuff that I couldn’t fit on other walls in my house are found in that bathroom.

The autograph came with a certificate of authenticity so while I don’t know for a fact that it is real, I’m confident enough.  It is either an autograph by him or by someone who has spent a lot of time learning to copy his signature.  One has to admire that amount of effort.

I can’t communicate with Stewart’s spirit because psychics aren’t real.  Also, Stewart was a lifelong conservative so he might resent ending up in some liberal atheist’s house just to verify an autograph.  Given all of this, I’m going to live my life as if the signature is genuine.

It makes me sad, though, that the picture of Stewart isn’t joined by pictures of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.

If that was the case, I’d have the three leads of Philadelphia Story on my bathroom wall, and boy would that be something.

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Alphabetical Movie – Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Those who have been following my Alphabetical Movie Blog closely might have noticed that I’m writing about Madagascar 3 without having taken the time to write about the two films that, presumably, preceded it.

Thing is, I don’t own either one of them.  The rules of the project clearly dictate that I’m only watching movies I own.  It just so happens that the only movie I own in the Madagascar trilogy is the most recent.

I think that the explanation is simple.  Here it is:

I don’t own the other two Madagascar films because I think they are OK.  And my kids think they are OK.  We simply haven’t had any pressing need to pick up a copy of either one of them.

That Circus Afro song, though.  That constitutes a “pressing need.”

If you would like me to explain why I cannot get enough of a fifteen second song sung by Chris Rock voicing a polka dotted zebra, I have no words.  It is, simply, an absurd moment that fills me with primal glee.

My admission should not be taken as some sort of shame.  I’m not the only person who was totally gaga over a fifteen second joke in a 90 minute movie.  Once the film was released, they made a new trailer that basically acknowledged the fact there was a subset of their audience that was interested in only one thing.

Because I have kids, I’ve seen most of the “kid” movies in my house multiple times, even if it is just in the background.  So it is with this film.  I know there are other parts to the movie and yet I can’t remember them because they are eclipsed by a gigantic rainbow colored clown wig.

I love it even though it was the only song my children sang for at least a week after we saw the film on initial release.  Generally, that behavior makes me want to find every copy of the song in existence and smash it with a hammer.

Yes, I believe there is a way to smash an iTunes version of a song with a hammer.

But something almost sinister happened with this particular snippet of music.  I wanted to sing along with my kids.

Look, there are very few movies that I can recall scene for scene.  The best movies have slow points.  And movies I love more than anything might get re-watched once a year at most.  I may not be able to recall most of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted but the truth is, I like it enough that I’m willing to watch the rest of the movie for that moment.

It isn’t even that a singing zebra clown is the funniest thing ever featured in an animated film.

But it is silly and absurd and (if you haven’t seen the trailer) unexpected.  It stays with you and makes you like the rest of the film just a little bit more.

There are few enough scenes like that in any movie.  Don’t judge me for enjoying that scene in this movie.

Alphabetical Movie – Lover Come Back

Lover Come Back is a perfect example of 60′s feminism viewed through the lens of Hollywood Producers who were, unfortunately, men.

Which means they had no idea what the hell they were doing.

The story involves a man (Rock Hudson), who is a sexist jackass and a woman (Doris Day) who dislikes him because he’s a sexist jackass.  So he behaves like the “perfect man” for her and she falls for him.

Day plays a competent advertising executive and Hudson plays a far less competent one who has the important skill of knowing how to make other guys happy.  He doesn’t have to put together the best campaign because he gets his clients drunk and laid.

Fortunately, it’s the sixties so all of his clients are men.  His plans work perfectly.

So she’s competent but has to work twice as hard as he does just to get ahead.  He’s pretty much a complete tool but is successful because he works in an industry (advertising) where being a tool is a benefit.  That’s something we’ve all learned from “Mad Men.”

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Alphabetical Movie – Love Actually

I know there is wild disagreement about Love Actually.

A lot of people find it funny, romantic and charming.  Others find it cloying, sexist and offensive.

I’m not going to wade into that debate because like or hate Love Actually, the film has resulted in the most sinister of conceivable side effects.

I’m talking about Valentine’s Day. And New Year’s Eve.  I’m talking about every film that uses a holiday to create a romantic melting pot of celebrities being adorable.  These films are the bastard children of Love Actually and they keep popping up every year in a sad attempt to do what someone else already did better.

To call these films forgettable feels like a complement.  They don’t deserve enough time to be forgotten.

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Alphabetical Movie – The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2

The central argument being made by Jurassic Park and The Lost World is if we bring dinosaurs back from extinction, they will destroy us.  Humans, we learn, are just too puny to survive the return of the giant lizards and we will become a buffet for T-rex and Velociraptors.

Not being a biologist, I can only speculate that there are gigantic problems with this assumption as the current climate on most of the Earth is not actually compatible with dinosaur physiology.  Sure, Velociraptor infestation would a problem in New York but could they survive the winter?

Science aside, here’s the big problem with this premise:  Who cares?  Dinosaurs!

If a scientist stepped up to a podium tomorrow and said “I can re-create dinosaurs but there are going to be a few problems…” every reporter in the room would miss what came next because they would be envisioning parks where you could saddle up to ride an Apotosaurus, go Pteranadon gliding and feed goats to a T-Rex.

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