Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Picks for the National Film Registry 2012


Happy Thanksgiving!

If it's Thanksgiving I'm contemplating my e-mail "voting" to the Nat'l Film Registry (for NEXT year), they close their polling in the fall; I vote right after the new year. But on Thanksgiving for this blog I reveal my picks for this year below. We'll see how many of mine they pick.

In one month, the Library of Congress will announce the next 25 films to be added to the National Film Registry. Last year's list spanned the years 1912-1994, and included: The Kid (1921), Bambi (1942), Faces (1968), Norma Rae (1979), and Forrest Gump (1994).   Also included were the usual selection of obscurer, but no-less-deserving picks such as the avant garde film Allures (1961) by Jordan Belson.  A link to the Hollywood Reporter article from last year can be found here; I was mixed on the selections last year (although I was happy they caught up on three Oscar-winning Best Pictures: in addition to Gump, were The Lost Weekend and The Silence of the Lambs)... I hope they chose better this year.

The National Film Registry started in 1989, and there are currently 575 films on the list.  Although the obscure films and historically important documentaries fulfill the mandate of the Registry, there does seem to be a movement to include those fictional feature films that are great films (more of a Sight and Sound approach) or cult films (such as new selection El Mariachi) and not just historically or culturally important ones (there are still many Oscar-winning Best Pictures not on the list, for example).

Below are my picks for what should be added to this year's list (I only do the narrative feature films: I'll let the Library of Congress decide on the obscure works).  To me, the film that most needs to be added above all (my choice for three years running!) is Blue Velvet.  Last year just one of my picks made the list: Bambi (1942), at long last. 

My choices for this go-round, by year:

1910s-20s-30s (3 titles)
A Tale of Two Cities (1917)
The Sheik (1921)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)

1940s (5 titles)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Lifeboat (1944)
To Have and Have Not (1944)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

1950s (10 titles)
Harvey (1950)
The Red Badge Of Courage (1951)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Limelight (1952)
The Quiet Man (1952)
Stalag 17 (1953)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Killing (1956)
The King and I (1956)
Auntie Mame (1958)

1960s (10 titles)
The Guns of Navarone (1961)
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Lolita (1962)
The Birds (1963)
The Great Escape (1963)
Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
The Naked Kiss (1964)
Seconds (1966)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

1970s (10 titles)
Love Story (1970)
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974)
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
The Front (1976)
Grease (1978)
Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

1980s (10 titles)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Arthur (1981)
The World According to Garp (1982)
A Christmas Story (1983)
Aliens (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Wall Street (1987)
Die Hard (1988)

1990s (2 titles)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Titanic (1997)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Top Ten Greatest Moments from the James Bond Films~ "Skyfall" Opens Today in the US

From the 250 greatest moments I've listed these past weeks, from Climax!: "Casino Royale" (1954) to Quantum of Solace (2008), here's my ranking of the top ten greatest moments from all of the James Bond films. What's your favorite James Bond movie moment?

TOP TEN GREATEST 007 MOVIE MOMENTS

10. From On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969): Bond reacts to the loss of Tracy.


9. From Licence to Kill (1989): Cornered and deprived of his oxygen, 007 harpoons the departing plane and escapes the enemy frogmen.


8. From A View to a Kill (1985): Max Zorin meets his fate.


7. From Moonraker (1979): Bond is pushed out of a plane without a parachute.


6. From For Your Eyes Only (1981): Bond sends Locque over the edge.


5. From GoldenEye (1995): Brosnan's best line: "No, no, no— No more foreplay."


4. From Casino Royale (2006): "Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls."


3. From Goldfinger (1964): Bond discovers Jill Masterson's body.


2. From The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): The climax of the pre-title sequence.


1. From Dr. No (1962): Sean Connery inaugurates the self-introduction: "Bond, James Bond."


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from Quantum of Solace (2008): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from Quantum of Solace. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. The henchman's car is sent spinning off the road and down the cliff in the pre-title sequence.

9. "Florists use that expression. It doesn't mean that they've got somebody working for them inside the bloody room."

8. Bond and Camille escape the inferno.

7. Bond holds down would-be-Camille-assassin Slate and administers the coup de grace, looking around to see if they've caused a commotion.

6. Dominic Greene puts General Medrano in his place, forcing him to sign the contract.

5. Bond tells the syndicate they should find a better place to meet.

4. Bond barely gets to Camille in time to open the parachute.

TOP THREE

3. Bond smacks down the agents taking him in.


2. Dominic Greene accidentally wields the axe into his own foot.


1. Bond is shown Fields' oil-covered corpse.


Quantum of Solace was one of the most poorly received of the Bond films, mainly, it seems, because it strayed too far from the formula.  I accepted it as a one-time deal.  It's time now to get back to basics with Skyfall: gun barrel logo at the front, gadgets, stunts, a larger-than-life villain, and what about a vodka martini shaken not stirred after that chaser of Heineken?

For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from Quantum of Solace: Bond leaving Dominic Greene to be taken care of by his own people: it's never satisfying to have the main villain not killed by Bond himself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from Casino Royale (2006): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from Casino Royale. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. Bond crashes through the drywall chasing the parkour-employing bomb maker.

9. "You've got a bloody cheek."

8. "James Bond. You'll find the reservation under Beech."

7. Bond asks Dimitrios for his valet ticket.

6. Vesper dashes out of the way of the henchman's machete on the stairwell, when Bond knocks it from his hand.

5. Bond shoots the bombmaker and blows up the embassy.

4. On the runway, Bond jumps from the truck and only just clears the oncoming service vehicle.

TOP THREE

3. The bomber realizes his mistake.


2. Bond sees Vesper laid across the road and reacts (a brilliant switch-up from the novel).


1. "Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls."


For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from Casino Royale: Vesper, appearing several seconds later, miraculously knows that the lead has fallen from Bond's Q-branch heart device, and reinserts it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from Die Another Day (2002): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from Die Another Day. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. 007 uses the Thunderball-like minibreather.

9. To arouse Zao, Bond squeezes his IV bag.

8. Bond uses the ultra-high frequency agitator ring.

7. 007 is "saved by the bell," in the pre-title sequence.

6. Announcing: "I'm checking out... thanks for the kiss of life," Bond goes rogue.

5. Bond pulls Graves' parachute cord (ultimately) sending him into the plane's engine.

4. Bond and Jinx escape in the helicopter, mid-air.

TOP THREE

3. Bond uses the ejector seat to right his Aston Martin.


2. Soaked from head to toe, Bond casually checks into the hotel in Hong Kong.


1. Jinx emerges from the sea.


For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from Die Another Day: Hands down the outrageous wave-riding that Bond does after his narrow escape from the Icarus laser.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from The World Is Not Enough (1999): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from The World Is Not Enough. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. Can't you just say 'hello' like a normal person?

9. Bond pulls the henchman's knife out (that he's seen through his x-ray glasses) and pins him to the bar.

8. Renard points to the bomb.

7. Bond, in a rare moment, is injured, and dangles from the ropes as the titles begin.

6. Bond tells Renard that Elektra's dead.

5. Bond adjusts his tie under water.

4. 007 uses his watch gadget to soar upward, jumps through the closing door in the mine, somersaults, and picks off one of Renard's men.

TOP THREE

3. Elektra tightens the screws on the torture chair ("one last screw").


2. Bond jumps from the Swiss banker's office in the pre-title sequence.


1. Bond shoots Elektra ("I never miss").


The World Is Not Enough has gotten slightly better with age, mostly due to Sophie Marceau's contribution and a slam-bang pre-title sequence (smartly lengthened by the filmmakers to go through the boat chase), if it's still one of the weakest Bond entries overall.

For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from The World Is Not Enough: I never liked how foolish M looks at various points of this movie and Q's lowering himself out of frame rather than rising up, but my vote for the worst moment is the naming of a Bond girl "Christmas" for the sake of a lame 12-year-old level double entendre.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from Tomorrow Never Dies. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. In the pre-title sequence, Bond ejects his "back seat driver" from the jet.

9. Bond knocks the $300 million satellite over at the newspaper.

8. 007 sends the remote control car right toward himself and Q.

7. The guard in the soundproof booth doesn't become aware that a fight has broken out, until a henchman goes through the glass partition.

6. Gupta "outlives his contract."

5. Bond and Wai Lin ride Carver's banner.

4. Bond drops the missile on Stamper's foot, trapping him.

TOP THREE

3. Bond/ Wai Lin jump the motorcycle over the helicopter and into the house of ill repute.


2. Dr. Kaufman is embarrassed to ask Bond how to open his car.


1. Bond jumps in the back seat of the BMW and continues to drive it remotely.


Tomorrow Never Dies isn't bad, but one of the blandest entries in the series, it's the one of seen the fewest amount of times.

For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from Tomorrow Never Dies: Bond sends the security guard at the newspaper into the press and to his death, was this necessary after Bond had broken the man's arm and immobilized him?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from GoldenEye (1995): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from GoldenEye. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. The squeaky wheel on the cart Bond uses for protection punctuates the tension in the pre-title sequence.

9. The expression on the corpse of Onatopp's victim, Admiral Farrel.

8. 006 comes out of the shadows.

7. M asserts her authority on 007, calling him a "relic of the Cold War."

6. Boris, it turns out, is not invincible.

5. Onatopp thrills at the idea of the tank on the tracks: "He's going to derail us!"

4. "For England, James?" "No— for me."

TOP THREE

3. Bond smashes through the wall in the tank.


2. Bond rides the motorcycle off the edge of the cliff and freefalls toward the plane.


1. Brosnan's best line: "No, no, no— No more foreplay."


GoldenEye re-established the franchise brilliantly after its longest gap between films, and Pierce Brosnan emerged as a Bond to be reckoned with.

For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from GoldenEye: Bond escapes the helicopter by way of the ejector seat— an escape already done by John McClane in Die Hard 2 (1990): bugged me then, and bugs me now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The 10 Best Moments from Licence to Kill (1989): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from Licence to Kill. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. M stops the agent from firing at 007, despite the fact that he's just gone rogue.

9. Wayne Newton's "Professor Joe" accepts Pam's bamboozling of him: "bless your heart..."

8. Bond removes the door and pushes the guy out of the plane.

7. Killifer hits the driver of the van with the butt of his rifle and drives the van off the bridge.

6. Bond grabs the oxygen tank off the guy he harpooned off Crest's yacht.

5. Sanchez signals his men to reel the shark-chewed Leiter up.

4. Bond throws the suitcase filled with money at Killifer, sending him into the shark tank.

TOP THREE

3. Lowered from the helicopter, Bond "goes fishing" and snares Sanchez' plane.


2. Bond takes the 18-wheeler onto 9 wheels.


1. Cornered and deprived of his oxygen, 007 harpoons the departing plane and escapes the enemy frogmen.


Licence to Kill is an atypical but worthy entry in the Bond cannon, yet missing that je ne sais quoi.

For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from Licence to Kill: Memorable for sure, but Milton Crest's death is odd, confusing, and gruesome not to mention we sympathize for him; Pam randomly taking a polaroid picture using one of Q's gadgets and the photo "comically" showing Q and Bond's skeletons is a close second.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jodie Foster to Receive Cecil B. DeMille Award

Another "tradition" gone wrong.  The impending announcement of the Cecil B. DeMille Award allowed for a favorite parlor game for me in trying to predict who'd get it. The announcement's date had some consistency until late, as I noted in last year's blog entry. But it was never as early as November 1. So imagine my surprise when I see it announced today, robbing me of my annual "guess."  I suppose now the DeMille Award goes the way of so many other things, where I just give up and don't care.  Folks, people like tradition.  That's why the Oscars remain the #1 award as these things go.  I'm never blindsided by when the Oscar nominations will be announced. I don't have to search high and low to find out the date, or check daily. The date for the nominations is January 10. Now, this is a very different date than usual, but we got plenty of warning. I have no idea when the HFPA noted that the DeMille would be announced on Nov. 1.  I'm just not in the mood to check dates in October for the DeMille Award announcement now, because it's just too soon to think about Awards Season. So in future I'll just see it when I see it and forget the predix on that one.

The National Board of Review has set their date for their awards: Wednesday, December 5. Last year the New York Film Critics decided THEY needed to be "first" and announced before the NBR. Their date, as far as I can tell, hasn't been set yet this year. I'll worry about these critics group's dates later, but, again, the Oscars are the only ones year after year that get this right. I think I'm going to deal with these critics groups as an after-the-fact thing instead of my usual hunting for their dates craziness.  I'll check in daily with Indiewire.com to see who wins, then maybe Dec. 20 I'll comment on the lot.

The 10 Best Moments from The Living Daylights (1987): Countdown to Skyfall— Nov. 9th!


Spoilers, of course. Although at times I've been purposefully oblique: if you're a fan, you'll get the references.

Here's my list of the top ten best moments from The Living Daylights. I've tried to pick actual individual moments rather than sequences. What are your favorite moments?

10. Bond quickly hides his PPK after scaring the child with the balloons and his mother.

9. At the amusement park rifle shoot, the booth attendant appeals to Bond: "no more."

8. Q welcomes Koskov to Austria.

7. "I know a great restaurant in Karachi..."

6. Bond uses his reserve chute leaving the assassin in the pre-title sequence to plunge to his death.

5. Whitaker meets his end by way of "that British vulture Wellington."

4. Bond "assassinates" Pushkin.

TOP THREE

3. Bond and Kara glide into Austria.


2. An MI6 agent other than Bond shows his abilities, unplugging the electric knife, throwing flour into Necros' eyes, and continuing to fight him.


1. Bond gives Necros the boot.


An impressive debut by Timothy Dalton, The Living Daylights is one of the most exciting entries in the series, and a personal favorite.

For good measure, what I think is the worst moment from The Living Daylights: Miss Moneypenny tells Bond he's welcome to come by to listen to her Barry Manilow collection. Ugh.