Thursday, July 16, 2020


In determining what films will make the updated edition of the 1001 Movie Book, it's a good idea to look at the Best Picture Nominees from the previous year. Usually at least half of them make the cut.
I'm assuming of course that there will be an updated edition this year. I've listed these movies in what I think is likely to make the updated book.

1. Parasite-Boon Joon-ho's film of the have and have nots took home the Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Oscar and even motivated people who don't normally watch Foreign language films to check it out. This is a sure thing to make the book. (Best Picture Winner, International Film Winner)


2. Jojo Rabbit-This offbeat film of a kid in Nazi Germany coping with a Jewish girl hiding in his house while being shadowed by his imaginary friend named Adolph has enough laughs, drama and critical acclimation to make the book (Best Picture Nominee)

 Jojo Rabbit

3.1917-This one long shot story of two soldiers racing to the front during WW1 has a chance to make it for the technical achievement alone. It's also important that you care about the people in the story that he makes it and we (at least I) do. This one should get in. (Best Picture Nominee)


4.Joker-The retelling of the Joker origin story through a different lens than we are used to seems to be broken down into camps of loving it and hating it. I do think most agree on the emotionally powerfull performance of Joqauin Phoenix. I think this one gets in. (Best Picture Nominee)


5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood-Quentin Tarantino's tale of Hollywood during the time of the Tate/Labianca murders has everything but Charles Manson's kitchen sink in it. I think this one gets in. though Tarantino's The Hateful Eight did not. (Best Picture Nominee)

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

6.Marriage Story-Story about the breakup of a bi-coastal marriage is a strong family drama with stellar performances. I'm on the fence whether this one gets in the book. (Best Picture Nominee)

 Marriage Story

7. The Irishman-Long film about teamster Jimmy Hoffa has been criticized for being too long and not quite to the level of some of other Scorsese films. I liked it, but still don't think it gets in.

8. Ford v. Ferrari-60's racing biography of Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby is an fine film and I learned about a story I knew little about. I still don't see this one getting in the book. (Best Picture Nominee)
Ford v. Ferrari

9. Little Women-Nice, well-acted update of the classic even has sort of a meta-twist between the character of Jo and Louisa May Alcott. I still don't think it gets in the book. (Best Picture Nominee)

Little Women

10. Toy Story 4-The first two Toy Story movies have been in different versions of the book and you really should see all four. I'm pretty sure Part 4 won't make the book, but you've gone this far with the toys, so you might as well see it to the end! (Best Animated Feature winner)

Toy Story 4

11. American Factory-Fascinating story of a Detroit motor plant being taken over by Chinese management is definitely worth a watch. Documentaries have been slighted by the book in recent years and don't think this one gets in either. (Best Documentary winner)

American Factory

12. Judy-Renee Zellweger's great star turn as the older Judy Garland is work a look-especially fans on Hollywood bio's.Still very unlikely this makes the book. (Best Actress Winner)


Thursday, July 9, 2020


 Journalist  John Horton (James Whitmore) gets some 
"how to be black" advice from shoeshine man Burt Wilson
(Richard Ward) in Black Like Me

"With James Whitmore blackened to look like and end man in a minstrel show-Black Like Me shows the abuse and mental torment to which this man is exposed when he makes a knowledge-seeking tour through the South."-Bosley Crowther, New York Times, May 23, 1964

White Man's Burden...

Texas journalist John Howard Griffin went into the deep south and posed as a black man in 1959. He wrote about his experiences in the book Black Like Me and the subsequent film. The movie features James Whitmore as Griffin (Horton in the film). Horton comes across as an articulate educated guy when he is white and plays it exactly the same when he goes undercover...just with a darker complexion. He seems to meet an awful lot of bad white people who talk to him like he's garbage and constantly make crass comments about black women folk. Horton becomes despondent about his situation very quickly and wants to quit this experiment. He acts like he's been dropped into a war zone...and maybe he has...Lessons are learned.

Jeff Gerber (Godfrey Cambridgediscovers a change 
one morning in Watermelon Man

Black Man's Burden...

I first caught Watermelon Man on late night TV back when I was in high school. It's about a loud-mouthed white bigoted insurance salesman named Jeff Gerber (Godfrey Cambridge) who wakes up one morning to find out he has turned into a black man. I thought it was funny then and watching the whole thing now, I still think so, with Cambridge landing most of his lines most effectively. I do think at times Herman Raucher's story teeters close to the edge between comedy and drama, but I don't mind that at all. I like the surprisingly serious ending as well, which was a conscious choice by director Melvin Van Peebles and differed from the original concept.

The movie didn't get great reviews, even getting mercilessly panned in The New York Times and seems to be largely forgotten. That is until I recently saw it pop up on Amazon Prime. I say give it a go. 

Monday, July 6, 2020


Juliet of the Spirits

"Mr. Fellini is not trying to resolve a mystery. he is trying primarily to give you an exciting experience on the screen, generated by a bold conglomeration of visual an aural stimuli. And that he does, with becoming accretions of humor and poignancy."-Bosley Crowther, New York Times, November 4, 1965.

Ah, Fellini. He's either brilliant and awe inspiring or confusing and mind numbing. Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits has a simple basic plot of a middle-aged married woman's (frequent Fellini muse Guilietta Masina) suspicion that her husband might be having an affair. She experiences a search for incriminating facts and embraces new dimensions of self-awareness through dreams, mediums, psychics, witchcraft, mysticism and a more traditional private detective. I really have to be in the right mood to watch a Fellini film and maybe my mind wasn't totally engaged. However, I did appreciate the "bold conglomeration of visual and aural stimuli" upon reflection.

Spirits of the Dead

"Toby Dammit" the first Fellini film to be seen since Juliet of the Spirits is marvelous: a short movie but a major one. I would have never thought Fellini and Poe had much in common, but the Italian director has assimilated his source material in such a way that it has become a kind of postscript to "La Dolce Vita," the picture of an exhausted once beautiful person handing his soul over to the devil."-Vincent Canby, New York Times, September 4, 1969,

Spirits of the Dead features three short films loosely based on stories by Edgar Allen Poe. The first two films, from Roger Vadim and Louis Malle, set a pretty ethereal mood for the storytelling with differing degrees of success. Then we come to the Fellini portion (Toby Dammit) and it is nothing in tone like the other two. The film reminds me a bit of 8 1/2, with an actor replacing the director as the main character.. We also get the smorgasbord of Fellini characters that we have become accustomed to in the just mentioned Juliet of the Spirits and his subsequent Satyricon.

I don't know if I'll ever visit Mr. Fellini again, but I appreciate his original way of telling a story and his creativity. I can't say I get where he's going all the time, but I don't think I'm supposed to.

Federico Fellini (1920-1993)
Guilietta Masina (1921-1994)
Married from 1943-1993 (his death)