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50 MORE Things I Love About Films

Well over a year ago, I wrote a post called 100 Things I Love About Films on my old blog, which I later reposted here at A Swede Talks Movies. This is the sequel, adding 50 more things to the original 100. I’ve tried to avoid repeating movies and actors I mentioned in that first post, though a few have slipped through anyhow.

Credit for the original concept goes to Beau Kaelin. Thanks also to gentleman and scholar Travis McClain for bringing the idea to my attention. The original description:

Rather than posting your 100 favorite films (which has been done and overdone), you simply post your favorite things about movies.  I dig the concept, because instead of obsessing over whether the films you put on a list are “objectively good enough” to put on said list, you simply jot down 100 moments/lines/visuals that have made a lasting impression on you or sneak their way into running gags between you and your friends. Just read below and you’ll get the idea.

Why only 50 this time instead of 100? Because… quality over quantity? Yes. Let’s go with that.

1. Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves, the fear and agony on her face raw enough to make me gasp in sympathy.

2. The wonderfully trashy dialogue in Bitch Slap. I love the fact that someone actually put the words “Lube my boob, skank twat” to paper.

3. Natalie Portman‘s joy-stricken face when she phones her mother from the bathroom stall in Black Swan.

4. Michelle Williams‘ dorky dance in Blue Valentine.

5. When actors produce their own films, showing a real desire to have the movies made.

6. The brief cameo by Jason Statham reprising his role from The Transporter at the beginning of Collateral. Crossover stuff of that nature should happen more often.

7. The 20th Century Fox fanfare.

8. Robin Williams capping off his love declaration in The Fisher King with the words “But I still don’t drink coffee”.

9. The shot of the sugar lump in Three Colors: Blue.

10. Watching Casablanca for the first time and finally getting some context for all the well-quoted lines of dialogue. “Round up the usual suspects” put a big smile on my face.

11. Penelope Cruz performing A Call From the Vatican in Nine. I don’t mean to sound crass, but… hubba hubba.

12. The chase sequence through the construction site in the 2006 Casino Royale.

13. The Remains of the Day lunch box in Waiting for Guffman.

14. The whole sequence with the trunk in The Ice Harvest. Great mix of tension and humor.

15. Kat Dennings trying to pronounce Mjölnir in Thor. “What’s Myeh-myeh” indeed.

16. Danny DeVito trying to look scary to John Travolta in Get Shorty.

17. Sven Nykvist‘s gorgeous cinematography in Persona. I’ve never seen black & white look better.

18. Mark Ruffalo‘s “Why the fuck did I just say that?” grimace after stating that he loves lesbians in The Kids Are All Right.

19. Speaking of Ruffalo: The Hulk in The Avengers. Every awesome second of him.

20. When a movie just leaves me completely baffled about whether I like it or not, or whether it even matters. It’s annoying too in a way, but I love how it questions the very idea of why I watch films and what I take away from them. Funny Games would be a recent example of this kind of movie for me.

21. The ending of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Teriffic execution of a sequel hook.

22. Those performances that become so utterly convincing that my brain eventually has to break me out of the trance by going “Uh, Emil, you do know that this is an actor playing a character, right? It’s not a real person.” And then I go “Shut the fuck up, brain.” A recent example: Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story.

23. Seeing an actor I’ve never heard of before in a film and immediately wanting to find out what else they have been in since they’re so good.

24. The climax of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, a sequence that tops anything else in either of Guy Ritchie‘s Sherlock films.

25. Tippi Hedren waiting outside the schoolhouse in The Birds. Cue me gasping for breath and muttering “Oh shit…”

26. Kirsten Dunst looking stunning in the wedding dress in Melancholia.

27. Hugo reminding me that 3D can indeed be used to great effect. Thank you, Martin Scorsese.

28. Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Absolutely jaw-dropping.

29. The scene in 50/50 where Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes in for surgery and suddenly realizes that he might never wake up again.

30. Michelle Duncan‘s adorable Scottish accent in Driving Lessons.

31. This exchange in The Fugitive: “I didn’t kill my wife!” “I don’t care!”

32. The opening of Grave of the Fireflies. It’s good on the first watch, but it’s heart-breaking on a rewatch.

33. The lone penguin wandering off towards the mountains and certain death in Werner Herzog‘s Encounters at the End of the World.

34. The dream-like atmosphere of Robert Altman‘s Images. The kind of stuff that makes you realize how inaccurately the term “dream-like” tends to get thrown around.

35. Ellen Page in Juno. And Jennifer Garner. And Jason Bateman. And Allison Janney. And J.K. Simmons. And everyone else.

36. ))<>(( from Me and You and Everyone We Know.

“What business is it of yours where I’m from… friendo?”

 

37. The tense scene in No Country for Old Men where Javier Bardem makes the gas station attendant call a coin flip.

38. Seeing a scene that for some reason doesn’t work for me, only to much later have a revelation on what it meant. Guaranteed to make me love the part next time I watch the film.

39. Everything about Catherine Keener in Being John Malkovich, but particularly her dismissive reactions to everything John Cusack says and does in the early goings.

40. Uggie playing dead in The Artist.

41. The meet-cute between Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent at the costume party in Beginners.

42. This poster for 127 Hours.

43. The entire showdown between Uma Thurman and David Carradine in Kill Bill: Vol. 2. Had me at the edge of my seat when I first watched it.

44. The very recognizable video game scene in Swingers.

45. Brad Pitt‘s ridiculous accent when speaking Italian in Inglourious Basterds.

46. The suffocating atmosphere of Seven.

47. The big fight on the rope bridge in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

48. George Clooney‘s fine-tuned and low-key performance in The American.

49. Robert Downey Jr. sucking at math in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

50. Shea Whigham‘s brief part in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, repeatedly uttering “Whoa!” in the funniest fashion.

 
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Posted by on 22 May, 2012 in Lists

 

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Rewatch Review – Bitch Slap

The first time I watched Bitch Slap was with a couple of friends. The general concensus we formed at the time was that it wasn’t a very good film. This isn’t a hard conclusion to come to if one were to just hear about it as there’s precious little about it that indicates quality. Yet something kept bothering me about the movie. It’s not like it has any aspirations of greatness. It’s meant to be mindless fun, and that’s not something I have any problems with in general. So why didn’t I like it? Was it in fact intentionally “bad”? What is “bad” anyway? I made an offhand comment on Twitter the other day about how it’s the worst movie I’ve ever wanted to rewatch, and along came Travis McClain to argue that it actually was pretty good and I was just being a snob. A snob! Me! Crank is one of my favorite films, for God’s sake! Surely this couldn’t be the reason for me not liking Bitch Slap. So what was it then? One rewatch later, and I think I might be a step closer to the truth.

But one thing at a time. Let me first describe the premise. Three attractive women arrive by car to a remote trailer in the desert. There’s calm and intelligent Hel (Erin Cummings) who appears to be the leader of the trio. There’s tough ex-con Camero (America Olivo), the unhinged one who’s always a hair away from a violent outburst. And last but not least is ditzy stripper Trixie (Julia Voth), who’s strangely enough presented as being nigh-supernaturally beautiful, presumably because she has more make-up on than the other two equally pretty girls. Also: In the trunk of the car is a badly beat-up and tied-up gangster called Gage (Michael Hurst). Why these people have arrived at this location is gradually unravelled as the movie progresses, but it’s established early on that the women are looking for a treasure of some kind and that Gage might know where it is. The brunt of the movie takes place at this hideaway, with backstory being filled in through flashbacks.

Bitch Slap is essentially an homage to the exploitation flicks of the 60s and 70s, with hot chicks and violence on the menu at Casa del Gratuitousness. It’s the kind of film that makes Wild Things seem dignified. When the women exit the car at the start of the film, the camera immediately zooms in on their generous bosoms. When they get tired from digging around in the sand, they cool off by dumping buckets of water on each other in slow-motion. And the violence is certainly there too, including but not limited to a razor-yoyo-wielding Asian (played by Minae Noji), a ludicrously big gun and a couple of pretty spiffy cat-fights. It’s all very over-the-top of course, but never quite crossing over into full-on parody territory. The dialogue is a different matter though, and it’s my favorite aspect of the film by far. No movie can be all bad when it features gems of lines such as “Lube my boob, skank twat” and “Ram this in your clam bake, bitch cake”. The pièce de résistance is this gem, however: “I’m gonna booty-bang bitch slap your fucking ass until you’re just this side of salvage. Then I’m gonna ram-ride girly’s show tits asunder before I plow both of you bitches under!”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So there is stuff to enjoy about this film, and I did like it a bit better on this solitary second watch. I still hesitate to say that it accomplishes its goals fully, though. The chief problem is that despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at us in terms of blood and titilation, it’s not consistently funny. The schtick grows old too fast, and the film has little to back it up with. At 106 minutes long, it drags. 20-30 minutes earlier would have been a better time to roll the credits. Another issue I have is that the film comes off as too polished. For a movie inspired by old exploitation films, Bitch Slap actually looks fairly good visually. Too glossy, if you will. Death Proof, while very far from perfect, did a better job in recreating the genre’s look in modern times. Bitch Slap has too many cool explosions and fancy effects going on. The blatant green-screen work in the flashback sequences, on the other hand, is just the kind of thing that feels right for the material even if the technology wasn’t quite there yet when the originals were being made.

The film isn’t actually bad. It’s lurid trash, of course, but it’s not bad. Bitch Slap is an almost decent action flick masquerading as a crappy b-movie in a tailor-made costume. The story itself isn’t anything special or captivating, but the almost Memento-ish structure of the flashbacks, where we step by step move back in time to find out how things got started, is solid. Not that I care about what’s going on (because the film lets us know early on that we’re not meant to), but I can appreciate the way it’s presented to me. It’s competently put together in terms of shot composition and editing and the like. Compare this to the mess that is Zombie Nation and you’ll see what I mean. Director/write/producer Rick Jacobson and his colleague Eric Gruendemann know what they’re doing. They’ve previously worked on TV series such as Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and as a bonus the main players from those shows all pop up for cameos here: Lucy “Xena” Lawless, Renée “Gabrielle” O’Connor and Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo.

So, bottom-line: is the film worth watching or not? I’ve been hee-hawing back and forth on this all day. I will concede that I took the film a little too seriously on my first viewing, not fully embracing the silliness going on. I mean, everyone involved is in on the fun and nobody has any delusions about what they’re doing; the actors ham it up completely (Olivo and Hurst in particular both chew the scenery like there’s no tomorrow) and we jump from one ludicrous situation to another. There is not an iota of pretentiousness to be found anywhere. And while it’s true that the movie drags a bit here and there and runs too long, there is enough fun to be had up until that point that you’re not likely to be too bored. I’m feeling generous here and will give it a score of 3/5. It’s not “good”, but I can’t say I regret seeing it twice. That should count for something.

Score: 3/5

 
12 Comments

Posted by on 24 September, 2011 in Reviews, Rewatch Reviews

 

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