Thursday, October 15, 2015



I'm actually not sure when I started watching foreign language films. I guess 1980 (my high school graduation year) might me a good estimate as place to land with a time frame as any. I saw a few French or Italian films around this time and don't remember feeling any great initial degree of difficulty. I definitely don't think about it these days when I watch a movie with subtitles, but I still come across people all the time at the library who tell me they can't deal with reading subtitles while they watch a movie. Here's my advice to them that I want to say and never do: Move your eyes from subtitles to picture to subtitles to picture to subtitles to picture and just keep repeating the process. It's not that hard. You too can do it!

While I'm on that topic the first movie I watched for today's blog is Francois Truffaut's The Last Metro. The story is about theatrical performers in a French during the Nazi occupation. It combines complex human emotions with the greater threat surrounding them all. It is a worthwhile and well done film, but I keep comparing it to Lubitsh's To Be or Not Be, which few films can live up to in my book.

The Last Metro
Before you start thinking I'm a foreign-language-reading-movie-snob, another of my favorite movies from this year is the comedy Caddyshack. But am I seeing this trough a lens that is a bit biased toward the time it came out?  Let's see-Bill Murray as Carl the groundskeeper looking for that varmit gopher and dreaming of playing at Augusta. How many of us have quoted this lines "Cinderella story...It's in the hole!" more than a few times. We also have Chevy Chase in possibly his best role as an eccentric club member, but it's Rodney Dangerfield that really steals the show as the obnoxious, Al Czerbik who is a constant thorn in the side of club regular Ted Knight. I can understand some not liking it (My wife said she thought it was pretty stupid when we went to a local showing a few weeks ago), but it's in the hole for me. And come on, isn't the rogue candy bar scene a classic even for naysayers?


Caddyshack did not make the 1001 list and here are other films from 1980 that I have seen that also didn't make the 1001 cut.

1. Altered States
Rumor has it that screenwriter Paddy Chaevsky hated this adaptation of his story so much that it ultimately led to the heart-attack that killed him! I actually like it, but I may have been partaking in a foreign substance that may have enhanced my viewing pleasure the last time I saw it many, many years ago now. 
William Hurt in the trippy, trippy, trippy Altered States

2. Alligator
B-movie classic about a baby alligator that is flushed down the toilet only to re-emerge and rage havoc throughout the city. Those urban legends really do have great dramatic possibilities!

3. 9 to 5
When I first saw this movie I actually felt sorry for the chauvinistic boss played by Dabney Coleman. I really don't think that was the point, but the guy is just so damn charming!

4. Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can
One hit and one miss in 1980 for Clint Eastwood

5. The Gods Must Be Crazy
Bushman finds Coke bottle that is thrown out of a plane ultimately causing great dissension in his tribe. He tries to go to the end of the earth to throw it off. One of the all-time great cult movies and should definitely be on the 1001 list.

Nixau! and his new discovery in
The Gods Must Be Crazy
6. The Blue Lagoon
Yes, I've seen The Blue Lagoon, the story of a boy and Brooke Shields stranded and growing up and in love together. It's not really good enough to be memorable for me, but not bad enough to be too horribly cheesy either. So don't see a retro viewing of this one in my future.

7.The Blues Brothers
Yes, I remember the Blue Brothers Saturday Night Live skit. Yes, I owned The Blues Brothers album. But if I'm choosing between the Blues Brothers movie and Caddyshack, I'm going with Caddyshack.

8. Can’t Stop the Music
The Village People, Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine and Bruce Jenner!
How can you possibly stop that music?

No matter how hard you try, you just can't stop the music

9. Coal Miner’s Daughter
I can't say I'm much of a Loretta Lynn fan, but this movie made me a Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn fan.

10. The Jazz Singer
Having Neil Diamond star in a remake of the old Al Jolson movie probably seemed like a good idea at the time...At least they're some good songs on the soundtrack.
The Jazz Singer "You are not my son!"

11. Dressed to Kill
Brian De Palma does borrow heavily from Hitchcock's Psycho for this one, but it's distinctive enough on it's own and it would be in my book.

12. Flash Gordon
All right, Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless! That's great! Now now who's going to play Flash? Sam Jones! Sam Jones? Who the hell is Sam Jones?
Well, like The Jazz Singer, let's at least enjoy the songs on the soundtrack.

13. Friday the 13th
 The first in the seemingly never ending series about Jason the killer with the machete and the hockey mask. I think I saw the first two in this series and that was about it.

14.Inside Moves
Movie about a bunch of guys with different types of physical disabilities hanging out and just trying to get through life seemed to get some positive reviews at the time, only to drop off anyone's radar quickly after that.

15. Mother’s Day
I saw this slasher movie when I was a Freshman in college and thought it was pretty kooky and crazy and worth seeing. A couple of reviews I've seen on it lately has made me think I shouldn't go back and watch it and potentially spoil my good vibes from it.
My viewing of Mother's Day seemed like a good thing
 two lifetimes ago

16. Melvin and Howard
Melvin Dumar did not pick up Howard Hughes hitchhiking. Howard Hughes did not sing Melvin Dumar's song. Howard Hughes did not leave a pot of money to Melvin Dumar. If you can accept these facts, sit back and enjoy this very entertaining, but fictional movie.

17. Little Darlings
Even seeing this as a teenager, I thought the story of two girls wagering on who could lose their virginity at summer camp had little appeal for me. But I did watch it, I guess just because it was on!

18. When Time Ran Out
If Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and Airport '79 didn't kill the 70's disaster movie, When Time Ran Out certainly finished the job. 

19. Serial
I liked this comedy about California residents who...let's see...what happens it this again? It's been thirty-five years. I remember Martin Mull and Tuesday Weld were about the only sane ones in the film and Christopher Lee rode in a gay motorcycle gang. In fact, there are a couple of gay jokes in this movie that seemed funny at the time that people wouldn't laugh at today. I'd still like to revisit this one. 

20.The Return of the King
If Peter Jackson's Return of the King can make the 1001 list, why not some love for the Rankin-Bass version? You got to pay attention to an animated film that has the vocal stylings of Orson Bean, John Huston, Roddy McDowell, William Conrad, Theodor Bikel and Glenn Yarborough as the Minstrel!

Frodo of the Four Fingers in Return of the King

21. Stardust Memories
Between his fruitful 70's and 80's periods, Woody Allen put out a couple of less than stirring films that were a bit pretentious and narcissistic. Stardust Memories was one of them. Re-evaluation time, maybe?

22. Oh, God Book II
I thought the original Oh, God with George Burns and John Denver was a pleasant film with a lot of charm. Oh, God Book II was essentially a remake with a little girl in the John Denver role. But that's what sequels often do, don't they?

23. Superman II
Still might be my favorite superhero movie of all-time. How can you beat Zod as a bad guy?

24. Up the Academy
After I watched National Lampoon's Animal House at least a dozen times, I had high expectations for their next film, National Lampoon's Up the Academy. Let's just say I've only seen that one once.

25. Xanadu
On the plus side, there are a couple of good ELO songs, there is Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John looks fantastic and the I'm Alive scene with all the muses is pretty good.  Other than that, it's freakin' Xanadu!

Olivia in Xanadu

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