Favorite Movies List

The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers/The Return of the Musketeers:
This is the version made in 1973 (with the "The Return" being made 20 years later, interestingly the same amount of time the book "20 years later" indicated), directed by Richard Lester and  starring Oliver Reed, Michael York, Richard Chamberlin, Frank Finlay, Charlton Heston, Raquel Welch, and a host of other big-names. Arguably the best adaptaion of Dumas Pere's book, the movie is funny, and the fight scenes are probably the best ever done with swords. The combat was staged by William Hobbs, who is the ultimate choreographer of sword fighting. None of the Errol Flynn locked-hilt wisecracking derring-do here: The combatants are puffing and panting after a few minutes of wailing a 2 1/2 pound rapier around, and the duels are a joy to watch. I know: I Renaissance fence, and I can tell you that a couple of minutes of this type of traditional sword fighting and your arms feel like lead, breath comes in whoops and gasps, and you can't wait for it to be over. Oliver Reed here gives the performance of a lifetime as Athos, the dishonored Comte de la Fere, and his fight scenes in particular, are worth the entire movie alone. He fights like a cornered bull, using his whole body and bulk. These movies are hard to find, but I got them for a great price at buy.com.

Grosse Pointe Blank:
Probably the hippest dialogue in any movie. This is the story of Martin Blank, a former CIA assassin now free-lancing, who is in a mid-life crisis. He gets invited to his ten-year high school reunion, and at the same time is required to hit someone to make up for a botched job in the same town. He disappeared from his hometown, Grosse Pointe Michigan, on his Prom night, standing up his girlfriend, and tries to make up with her when he goes back. At the same time, another hit man, played by Dan Aykroyd, is trying to put together a union for all the assassins, and is threatening Blank, who doesn't want to join. Starring, co-written, and produced by John Cusak, the dialogue is astounding, hip, funny, and biting. Example of an exchange between Cusak and his love interest's father:

"I pictured you in a haze as one of those flannel-wearing slackster coffee-house misanthrope types I've been reading about in Newsweek. Was I correct?"
"No sir, I went the other direction: Six-figures; doing business with lead-pipe cruelty; mercenary sensibilites. Sport sex; no real relationships; that kind of thing."
"So what do you do for a living?"
"Contract Killer."
"Ah! Good for you: It's a growth industry."

Joan Cusak, his sister, plays his secretary, some of the funniest dialogue is between them, Minnie Driver is the love interest, and is played as a sharp, witty, woman, not a bimbo, and can hold her own with any person in a battle of wits.

It's one of those movies that works on so many levels: The comedy is sharp, the action is exciting, the gun-handling is great, and overall it's a great movie to watch.

The Hunt for Red October:
The first and best of the Tom Clancy movies. Alec Baldwin (though I can't stand his liberal politics) plays a great Jack Ryan, and was much better than Harrison Ford in the subsequent roles. The screen adaptation was by Clancy himself, and he managed to get all the pertinent points of the book in, whilst keeping the spirit alive, something sorely lacking in the later Clancy movies that went more for action than story. The scenes on the submarine at the end of the movie are exciting and intense.

The Name of the Rose:
Based on the book by Umberto Eco, this is a subtle and exciting movie. Sean Connery plays William of Baskerville, a Franciscan monk in early 14th century Italy at a monastary for a debate. There's a series of murders he's asked to investigate. Christian Slater plays Adso, his apprentice, and a young man that idolizes William for his logic and abilities. I can't reveal too much of the plot because it could give the whole movie away, but it is a whodunnit of the highest order. Watch this movie. It is a stunning movie.

High Fidelity:
I just saw this movie the other day. It is from the same crew that brought you Grosse Pointe Blank (see above) and I have to revise my opinion that that movie had the hippest dialogue. This one is even better. This time Cusak plays Rob Gordon, the owner of Champion Vinyl, a RECORD store. The movie is about his breakup with his girlfriend, and he spends better than half of the movie talking to the camera about his life, past loves, and why it keeps happening. It's a terribly hard movie to describe, but the writing is again as sharp as a glass splinter, and there are surprises galore, though subtle. When he tells you that he wants a life like a Bruce Springsteen song, all of a sudden The Boss is there in his bedroom, talking to him. The dialogue touches home to guys particularly, and the insights are the same as we've all experienced. His employees are funny as hell, and the scene between Jack Black and a customer wanting "I Just Called to Say I Love You" for his daughter will have you rolling, as will the finale of the scene between Cusak and Tim Robbins, playing the new boyfriend. Here's the official website:
High Fidelity

Pink Floyd - P.U.L.S.E.:
OK, This is a music video. This is a live concert music video. This is arguably the BEST live concert music video ever recorded. The main reason for this is because the concert itself was IMHO the most visually stunning concert in history. The music was exceptional, the sound was crystal, the effects truly numbing. The show itself must have cost the Floyd boys an arm and a leg. There were effects that had to cost in the thousands that were used once in the concert and then never again. There were approx 2000 lights, God knows how many lasers, and a HUGE set.

All this means little if the music doesn't cut it. It does. The band is as tight as can be, and the quality of the musicianship is such that you can put this video on and even if you don't watch it, the music fulfills on its own level. The CD of the tour is so good that I have gotten rid of my original version of 1973's Dark Side of the Moon, and just use this. It's way better. The video is also as good.  It's also quite a long video. 142 minutes, it is the entire concert. The second half of the show is the entire DSOTM, and the encore's "Comfortably Numb" is the hightlight of the whole show. If you are a Floyd fan in any way, rent or buy this video.

Speaking of the Floyd boys, another video I enjoy, but requires some work, is something called "Dark Side Of The Rainbow." Here's what you do: Rent "The Wizard of Oz" and put it in the VCR, and turn the sound down on your TV. At the same time, start Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on your CD player, but pause it immediately. As soon as the MGM lion roars for the third time, hit play on your CD. The way ths songs and video sync up is absolutely amazing! Lines in songs match actions on the screen, and vice-versa. Of course, the movie runs longer than the disc, but with repeat play it's still pretty amazing.

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