Movies I Should Have Seen By Now: Weekly Wrap-Up 5

Okay, so I realize that this “Weekly Wrap-Up” took three weeks to get done, but between Midterm season and a little side project I’ll be unveiling fairly soon, I’ve been pretty swamped.  I finally got around to seeing the last movie of my promised set of five last night, and with that viewing I am now able to move on to the next set of classic films.  Here’s a rundown of the films I saw since the last edition of this segment.

L.A. Confidential: 9.0/10 – Incredible

MV5BMTQ5MTU4MzQ5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjY1OTM2MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_Having finally seen this it, I now understand why so many people considered January’s Gangster Squad to have been such a blatant rip-off of this vastly superior movie.  That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Gangster Squad for its own merits, but the similarities between the two films can’t help but force the comparison and there really isn’t any.  Setting aside the dynamite trio of Kevin Spacey, Russel Crowe, and Guy Pearce, the movie’s ability to manage the huge amount of moving parts that are present without collapsing under its own weight is impressive in its own right.  Those moving parts do give the movie some pacing issues, but once we actually start to figure out what is going on things quickly accelerate until the amazing conclusion.  Bottom line, L.A Confidential is one of the most elaborate and well-made cop thrillers I’ve ever seen.

2001: A Space Odyssey: 7.0/10 – Good

MV5BNDYyMDgxNDQ5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc1ODg3OA@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_Yet again, this is one I know I’m going to catch some flak for.  Heralded by many as one of the best Science Fiction movies of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey also comes from the supposedly infallible Stanley Kubrick.  I’d like to reinforce that I love every other Stanley Kubrick movie I’ve seen, but I just couldn’t get behind this one once the credits started to roll.  To be fair, the movie could easily be separated into four separate parts, and the most prominent of those parts (aka Dave vs. HAL) is by far the most effective.  I absolutely loved that segment of the movie, due in equal parts to Kubrick’s claustrophia-inducing direction and the cold, monotone voice of HAL himself.  I could even handle the opening twenty minutes, which have no connection to the rest of the film other than an elaborate and prolonged metaphor about humanity’s relationship with technology.  The following Moon segment is perhaps a bit slow and overly reliant on extended shots of spacecraft which aren’t quite as powerful now as they were back then, yet it does a good job of building up a sense of mystery and dread surrounding the recurring alien Obelisk discovered on the lunar surface.  My biggest issue with the film is that the culmination of all of these elements is a twenty-minute long acid trip of an ending sequence that is as incoherent as it is inconclusive.  I’m sure people will say that I just don’t get the artistic brilliance of the ending, but to that’s the thing about high-concept art; no matter how “brilliant” it is, it’s just not going to work for some people.  Turns out in this case, I am one of those people.

Dr. Strangelove: 8.5/10 – Impressive

MV5BMTU2ODM2NTkxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTMwMzU3Mg@@._V1_SX214_If you were to ask me what my favorite genre of movie is, I would be able to answer without any shred of hesitation;  I LOVE dark comedies.  My sense of humor has always been a little warped, but whether it’s the over-the-top violence of Tarantino or the sparkling dialogue of a Joss Whedon script, I can’t get enough of twisted humor in film making.  For that reason, I’ve been looking forward to seeing Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb for some time now; after the ground it broke into for the genre is one of the reasons the genre is so bountiful in the present.  The movie is just as weird as the title would suggest, and I loved every bit of it.  Between great one-liners (“You can’t fight in here, this is a War Room!”), comically exaggerated insensivity and the complete and total sense of originality throughout the film, Dr. Strangelove deserves every bit of the cult-following it has maintained to this very day.  My only reason for the slightly lower score is that like most films with a cult following, the material is not quite as accessibly to average viewers as many would like.

Top Gun: 8.0/10 – Pretty Damn Great

MV5BMTY3ODg4OTU3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjI1Nzg4._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_Oddly enough, I was almost more worried that I would dislike this movie more than I was for any other movie on this list.  The split nature of it’s reviews (it hovers around a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes) combined with the intensity of it’s fan base’s support make dissing Top Gun nearly as life-threatening as dissing Die Hard.  To be honest, I could easily populate a long list of reasons to hate this movie; from the boring, unnecessary romance to the heavy-handed overuse of the synth-heavy soundtrack (If I hear “Take My Breath Away” one more time, I’m going to lose it), the movie invites criticism at every turn.  The thing is, no matter how cheesy it got, I just kept on forgiving it in my mind.  The movie has this way of  bringing you around to its side that only 80’s movies could pull off.  It’s the reason that the script remains so quotable regardless of how poorly written it is, the reason why many people select this as their favorite Tom Cruise performance even though there are plenty of other, better roles he has played in his career.  At the end of the day, no amount of logic or sense can diminish movies like this for the people who love them, and I am happy to finally be able to count myself among that group.

The Sting: 8.5/10 – Impressive

MV5BMTY2OTM3Njk2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzk4Njk4._V1_SX214_I’m not quite sure why this movie made it onto the list last week, but in hindsight I’m glad it did.  I had never seen Robert Redford in anything pre-90’s, and had never seen Paul Newman in anything at all.  If the duo’s performances here are any indicator, though, that is a wrong I am eager to go on right-ing.  The Sting reminds us why movies about con men conning other con men will always be a huge amount of fun, even if most modern renditions don’t come anywhere near this level of quality.  There’s something about the premise that allows viewers to completely forget the sort of moral concerns that usually plague criminal protagonists, and instead look at the proceedings like some sort of elaborate, high stakes game.  By doing this, the movie is able to get away with a much lighter tone than you might expect.  While this light tone robs some of the more serious elements of the move from a bit of their weight (especially visible in the vaudevillian background music for some of the chase scenes), it hit’s its mark far more often than it misses.  Even when the con itself gets a bit too elaborate to remain believable, it’s still fairly easy to suspend disbelief and forgive the film for its unrealistic developments.  My hat goes off to the late Robert Shaw in particular for providing the movie with a much-needed villainous role for the audience to unite against.  All in all, is as entertaining as it’s theme song’s title would suggest.

For the next set of films, I’d like to try something a little different.  Instead of picking the entries myself, I am going to put it up to a vote from all of you to decide which movies I will  see for the first time.  The three polls down below represent the three categories of movies I am looking to represent; two films from the IMDb Top 250, two films from the AFI Top 100 , and one film that has had a lasting cultural impact regardless of what lists it is or isn’t on.  Please take a second to cast your vote below!

IMDb Top 250


AFI Top 100

Culturally Significant

About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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21 Responses to Movies I Should Have Seen By Now: Weekly Wrap-Up 5

  1. Looking through the lists of films that you haven’t see so far, I’m actually pretty jealous – you’re so lucky that you have the delights of Vertigo, City of God and It’s A Wonderful Life still ahead of you! I wish I could watch Vertigo again for the first time without knowing the big twist!

    • r361n4 says:

      Lol, that’s actually a cool way of looking at it. There’s plenty of movies I’d love to experience for the first time again, but there are plenty that I do still have ahead of me so that’s something to be optimistic about. I think of that bunch I at least voted for Vertigo, so we’ll see how that goes!

  2. ckckred says:

    2001’s a movie that improves after multiple viewings. I was unsure what to think of it when I first saw it but now it’s my second favorite movie.

    I highly recommend seeing Vertigo and Do The Right Thing.

    • r361n4 says:

      I do feel like I should give it a second chance, but with all of the other movies I have to see I don’t know when I’ll get that chance again. Like I said, I did love the HAL segment, so that alone would make me willing to see it again

  3. mettelray says:

    and then
    SNATCH! 😀

  4. dbmoviesblog says:

    Great picks, though kinda unfamiliar with The Sting. L.A. Confidential…omg, I think for the past year I have been telling myself over and over – this night, I am going to see L.A. Confidential, I know how good it is, but never do. It has been a year. Kinda embarrassing. This night.

    • r361n4 says:

      Lol, glad to push that decision along! I’d definitely watch it again, one of the best movies of the 90’s I can think of at the moment for sure

  5. Marc says:

    Interesting article, the films on your ‘to see’ list resemble so many of the films I really need to get around to seeing. Chinatown, Sxchlinders List, North by Northwest…. I was actually reading about The Sting this morning as it happened! Glad you enjoyed LA Confidential, one of my all time faves that film.

    • r361n4 says:

      Glad to hear I’m not totally alone on not having seen those movies, but I’m glad that I can at least cross these five off of the list. What context were you reading about The Sting if you don’t mind me asking?

      • Marc says:

        I saw it listed on At the Back’s list of ‘Ultimate Greatest Films of All Time’ and then when I was flicking through the movie channels later I saw it again some time this week. I had never heard of it before. I was also reading an article in this month’s Empire magazine about 12 Angry Men which potentially you will be watching soon, depending on the votes!

  6. I’ve never seen 2001 either but I think those who sing it’s praises saw it long ago when the technology seemed more amazing and futuristic.

    • r361n4 says:

      Definitely, It’s things like 2001 and King Kong that make me wish I had seen them when their special effects were revolutionary. I’m sure I would have been more impressed, but in the case of 2001 I didn’t even think that the dated effects were as to blame as the high-concept ending was

  7. keith7198 says:

    Some really good flicks there. My favorite is Dr. Strangelove! Hilarious. 2001 is a classic that’s never grabbed me. It’s one I feel I need to see again.

    • r361n4 says:

      Let me know if you do, I’m curious to see how it’d play for a second viewing. Part of it that irked me is that the extended shots of the shace ship exteriors set to classical music could have easily been cut in half it not more and saved the movie nearly half an hour in total length. Then again, we modern moviegoers are quite an ADD bunch, so maybe that’s why I feel that way

  8. Love L.A. Confidential. Haven’t seen 2001 but really interested in that one. Also would like to check out The Sting but I’m not super excited about that one. I don’t care for Top Gun at all. And I liked Dr. Strangelove when I saw it a couple years ago but I think a re-watch is in order.

  9. sati says:

    LA Confidential is awesome. I don’t usually like Guy Pearce but he was fantastic in this movie.

  10. Monkeyboy says:

    Great write up. 2001 is a great movie that does need repeat viewings. Not an easy watch though. If you’re struggling with the ending, I think it’s basically something to do with a giant space baby fucking planets with its giant space cock.

    Hope that clears things up!

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