Jack-the-Lad's All-Time Favorite Movie List

An ex-projectionist and armchair film critic reminisces...

My first cinematic experience was in 1968 when, at the formative age of 6, I was taken to see the original Planet of the Apes. In the darkness of the theater, I was awestruck at how I was transported to an imaginary world, then magically returned to reality after two hours.

I craved the cinematic experience for the next decade, but as a child, was only seldom afforded the opportunity to go. At an early multiplex, I once sneaked up the stairs and peered into a dimly lit projection booth, to marvel at the film chugging through the projectors at 24 frames per second.

On my 16th birthday, with driver's license in hand and eligible for after-school work, I applied for a $2.16/hour part-time job as usher at (now defunct) Turnpike Cinema in Fairfax, Virginia. When the elderly couple who managed the place offered to train me to run projectors, I eagerly accepted. Turnpike Cinema's booth was so old, it still had the firescreens attached to strings, to be released if the film caught fire. (Very early films were highly flammable.) The booth had two projectors, which alternated 20-minute reels six times or so throughout any given showing. Inside a projector, high-voltage electricity sparked a carbon arc lamp, which reflected off a parabolic mirror to shine light through the film, projecting the movie over the heads of the audience and out onto the screen.

A mechanical bell would chime toward the end of a given reel, signaling "get ready for changeover." If the alternate projector wasn't threaded up in advance, the audience saw the dreaded 5-4-3-2-1, then white screen. But 20 minutes is plenty of time to thread the next reel, so it was then a matter of watching for two changeover marks to roll by in the upper right corner of the screen. (Watch for these, when you see your next movie.) First mark, roll the film and open the shudder. Second mark, flip the changeover switch. With practice, these changeovers were so seamless, the audience never noticed.

By the way, I dedicate this webpage to the drive-in movie theater, an institution sacred to yesterday's teenagers, but sadly unknown to today's. I'd frequent the (now defunct, replaced by a Costco and a Home Depot) Super-29 Drive-In less than a mile from my home.

After graduating high school, I went off to college in Boulder, Colorado, where projectionists were unionized. I scored a better paying job as relief projectionist for various theaters, including the giant Flatirons Theater on University Hill, a (now defunct) Art Cinema on Boulder Mall, the (also now defunct) Holiday Drive-In on the outskirts of town, campus screenings, and others. These more modern projection booths featured "platters," where all reels of a given movie were spliced together into one continuous strip of film, requiring only one projector per theater. Xenon bulbs replaced the old carbon arc lamps. With more modern equipment, my job generally became easier. At least, no more changeovers!

One exception to this was the drive-in, which could suffer sudden mechanical failures. Drive-in speakers are wired like Christmas tree lights, where an outage in one speaker will affect all speakers from that point forward. The projectionist only knows of a problem when, you guessed it, everybody starts honking their horns. I'd hustle out to the horn-honking area with screwdriver in hand, locate the offending speaker, and perform on-the-spot open heart surgery. Cheers indicated success.

The experience not only paid my way through college, it exposed me to many hundreds of films I wouldn't otherwise have seen. After showing Reds or Raiders of the Lost Ark all summer long, I knew the script by heart, but still discovered nuances every time I saw the film. Others would be part of a rapidly changing Art Cinema calendar where, like with Quadrophenia or Gallipoli, I'd be forever moved after seeing them only once.

Having handled so much film with my fingers, I relate to it on a visceral level, as a mechanic would a car, or as a doctor would a body. Movies have profoundly influenced me, including the foreign travels I embarked upon, my musical preferences, my spiritual and political beliefs, my understanding of individual and societal weakness, my choice of career and spouse... basically, every decision I've ever made in life, adding up to who I am today. Cinema is an art medium like no other.

Having such a lifetime bond to the cinema, it may surprise you to hear that I have vowed never to set foot inside a movie theater again! I just got fed up with the mobile phones going off in the audience, exorbitant ticket prices, shoddy projection work (out-of-frame or out-of-focus), audience members talking during the movie, perfumed audience members, the disgusting smell of buttered popcorn (which I never did like), lax management and staff, serious scratches running the entire length of a reel, etc. The quality of a cinema experience, always patchy, has dropped like a rock in recent years. So what was my solution? I got a 34-inch 16:9 flatscreen television with a DVD player and a Netflix subscription. Now, I knock over movies in the comfort of my own living room.

So without further ado, I present my diverse collection of favorites. They are in alphabetical order, since I couldn't possibly rank-order them. It's biased toward small-time foreign art films, tragic endings, corporate responsibility, triumph-over-adversity, and post black-and-white era films. The list is obviously work-in-progress.


9½ Weeks

1986

USA

Director: Adrian Lyne

Starring: Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke


Highly sexualized but dysfunctional affair. Interesting use of lighting throughout this film. Good soundtrack, especially Bryan Ferry's Slave to Love.




Alien

1979

USA

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Sigourney Weaver

 
Seeing a monster chase her around a spaceship at age 17... well, I was moved.




Amadeus

1984

USA

Director: Miloš  Forman

Starring: Tom Hulce, F. Murray Abraham

Not an historically accurate portrayal of Antonio Salieri. It is unlikely that any rivalry he had with Mozart resulted in poisoning.

Other artistic liberties presented here.



Apocalypto

2006

USA

Director: Mel Gibson

Starring: Rudy Youngblood

Love or hate Mel Gibson, this film is spectacular in its costumes, make-up, cinematography, and set design. Also, very ambitious, being acted entirely in an ancient Yucatan Mayan language.  Rife with historical inaccuracies. For starters, Mayan civilization fell centuries before the arrival of Conquistadors. It's unlikely they'd locate an open mass grave so close to crops.  And tribes within walking distance of a city would surely have known about it.  But hey, artistic license granted!


The Atomic Cafe

1982

USA

Director: Kevin Rafferty

Starring: N/A (Docu-Comedy)

Funny but sobering collection of Cold War propaganda.

I was one of those little kids who had to duck under his desk in the classroom, when air raid sirens went off each month.

"Duck and cover!"


Babe

1995

Australia

Director: Chris Noonan

Starring: James Cromwell, Magda Szubanski

Pig becomes useful to avoid becoming dinner.




Only
available on "full screen" (4:3),
not widescreen format.


Bad Boy Bubby

1993

Australia

Director: Rolf de Heer

Starring: Nicholas Hope

"God can see everything I do - and he's gonna beat me brainless."

Extremely dark humor. First 30 minutes rough. And you think you had a difficult childhood?

 

Bad Influence

1990

USA

Director: Curtis Hanson

Starring: Rob Lowe, James Spader

Demonic drifter progressively destroys yuppie.




Baraka

1993

USA

Director: Ron Fricke

Starring: (Documentary)

Collage of images and music. No dialog (a "non-verbal" film).

Director Ron Fricke comments, "I really believe that we are connected to everything, that in a sense, I've been invited here to this planet just like you and everyone else has, and life didn't ask anybody to approve of a guest list."


Be Good, Smile Pretty

2003

USA

Director: Tracy Droz Tragos

Starring: (Documentary)

A daughter's journey to know her father, 30 years after his death in Vietnam. The film's title comes from the phrase Lt. Droz used to close his letters home.


Being There

1979

USA

Director: Hal Ashby

Starring: Peter Sellers, Shirley McLaine


Mistaken identity turns simpleton into messiah. Filmed at the opulent Biltmore Vanderbilt mansion in North Carolina.





Betty Blue
(37°2 le Matin)

1986

France

Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix

Starring: Béatrice Dalle, Jean-Hugues Anglade


Romantic obsession descends into insanity.




Blood Diamond

2005

USA / Ireland

Director: Edward Zwick

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou


Shows the hidden costs of the Western world's vain self-indulgence with silly rocks.





The Blue Max

1966

USA / Ireland

Director: John Guillermin

Starring: George Peppard, Ursula Andress, James Mason

WW I German aviator seeks highest award. Dogfight scenes eat Top Gun for lunch.

What was it that got this guy in trouble? Cocky attitude? Misguided ambition? Dishonesty? Social stigmatization? Bonking the general's wife?


Body Heat

1981

USA

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Starring: Kathleen Turner, William Hurt


Men will never trust women again after this. A kick-in-the-stomach ending.




Breaker Morant

1980

Australia

Director: Bruce Beresford

Starring: Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown, Edward Woodward

Military courtroom drama involving three Australian soldiers of the Bushveldt Carbineers, set near the end of the Boer War (1899-1902). Based on a true story.

"Shoot straight, ya baastads... Don't make a mess of it!"


Cane Toads: An Unnatural History

1987

Australia

Director: Mark Lewis

Starring: (Docu-Comedy)

Exogenous species multiplies unchecked.






Charlie Wilson's War

2007

USA

Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman

True story of how one colorful character wielded influence to help David conquer Goliath


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

1968

USA / UK

Director: Ken Hughes

Starring: Dick van Dyke

From an Ian Fleming (of James Bond fame) story.




Only available on "full screen" (4:3),
not widescreen format.


Cinema Paradiso

1988

France / Italy

Director: Guiseppe Tornatore

Starring: (Italian cast)

Movie theater projectionist comes of age. A little schmalzy.

schmaltz (shmahlts) noun  -- Exaggerated sentimentality, especially in art, music, movies, etc.


The Constant Gardener

2005

UK

Director: Fernando Meirelles

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz

As described by one critic, "a distressingly convincing corrupt world where everyone is guilty and no one is responsible."


The Corporation

2005

Canada

Director: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott

Starring: Michael Moore, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky

Based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan.





Dawn of the Dead

1978

USA

Director: George A. Romero

Starring: N/A

Schlock horror cannibal zombie apocalypse. It's so bad, it's good.





Dances with Wolves

1990

USA

Director: Kevin Costner

Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell

A little schmaltzy, but outstanding cinematography. 

Mary
("Stands with a Fist") McDonnell's acting sealed the success of this film.  Had she faltered, the story would have come across as ludicrous.


Dead Poets Society

1989

USA

Director: Peter Weir

Starring: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke


Unconventional educator challenges system. To think how far this actor has progressed... from Mork & Mindy "Nanu, Nanu" sitcom rubbish of the late 70s, to fine flicks like this. Who would have guessed?



The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
(Le Scaphandre et le Papillon )

2007

France

Director: Julian Schnabel

Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner,
            
Marie-Josée Croze, Max Von Sydow

At 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby, charismatic editor of French magazine Elle, suffered a massive stroke rendering his brain stem inactive. After 20 days in coma, he awoke to find himself mentally alert and with imagination and memory intact, but a prisoner inside his own body.  He used his only means of communicating with the outside world, blinking alphabetic code with his left eye, to write a book about his experience.


El Mariachi

1992

USA

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Starring: N/A

Made in 2 weeks for $7,000. Simply awesome.

(Avoid the commercialized remake, Desperado.)



The Elephant Man

1980

USA / UK

Director: David Lynch

Starring: John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, John Gielgud

From the director of Eraserhead, a story of tremendous cruelty, compassion, and courage towards Joseph Merrick, a 19th Century London man suffering severe congenital disfigurement.

"I am not an animal... I am a human being!!"


Fatal Attraction

Click here.

1987

USA

Director:Adrian Lyne

Starring: Michael Douglas, Glen Close

Extramarital fling leads to boiling bunny. Ending was modified to suit test audiences' preferences.





Ferris Bueller's Day Off

1986

USA

Director: John Hughes

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Grey

Teen cuts class to help troubled friend.




 

Forrest Gump

1994

USA

Director: Robert Zemekis

Starring: Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise

Intellectually challenged fellow charts history seeking love.






Frances

1982

USA

Director: Graeme Clifford

Starring: Jessica Lange

Society & self conspire to wreck actress Frances Farmer.






Gallipoli

1981

Australia

Director: Peter Weir

Starring: Mel Gibson

Young Western Australian pressured into famous WWI battle.

The power of this film influenced my decision to migrate to Western Australia a decade later.



The Game

1997

USA

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn

Psychological thriller.






Glengarry Glen Ross

1992

USA

Director: James Foley

Starring: Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey

Character study in this stage play turned film.

(Click here for an obscenity count.)




The Godfather

1972

USA

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall

Early Coppola was good Coppola.






The Godfather, Part II

1974

USA

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall



(Skip the third in the Godfather trilogy.)



 

Good Will Hunting

1997

USA

Director: Gus Van Sant, Jr.

Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams

Awesome story, dialog, acting. Triumphant breakthrough achievement for two young guys.



An Inconvenient Truth

2005

USA

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Starring: Al Gore


Well-researched and entertaining presentation of the most pressing problem facing mankind.


The Insider

1999

USA

Director: Michael Mann

Starring: Russell Crowe, Al Pacino

Dr. Jeffrey Wigand heroically exposes Big Tobacco. This guy is my personal hero.





Into the Wild

2007

USA

Director: Sean Penn

Starring: Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Hal Holbrook


Disenchanted and idealistic middle-class college grad Christopher McCandless (a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp) dies in pursuit of a more wholesome lifestyle.


Jean de Florette

1986

France / Italy

Director: Claude Berri

Starring: Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil

Hunchback struggles to keep his farm alive. See this before Manon of the Spring.




JFK

1991

USA

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Kevin Costner, Joe Pesci, Sissy Spacek

Iconoclast D.A. challenges Warren Report. Awesome editing.





The Killer
(Die Xue Shuang Xiong)

1989

Hong Kong

Director: John Woo

Starring: Chow Yun-Fat

Likely wins the award for most bullets fired in a feature film.



The Killing Fields

1984

UK

Director: Roland Joffé

Starring: Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor


Reporter rescues friend from Pol Pot's horror.





Kundun

1997

USA

Director: Martin Scorsese

Starring: (Tibetan cast)

The Dalai Lama's story. Who would have expected a movie this beautiful from Scorsese? Excellent soundtrack by Philip Glass.



The Last Wave

1977

Australia

Director: Peter Weir

Starring: Richard Chamberlain

Surrealist psychological drama. Australian lawyer defending Aboriginal experiences apocalyptic premonitions.


Leaving Las Vegas

1995

USA

Director: Mike Figgis

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Elisabeth Shue

Actually, love doesn't conquer all.






Little Dieter Needs to Fly

1998

USA

Director: Werner Herzog

Starring: Dieter Dengler (Documentary)

I find it amazing to see how experiences shape a person's life and the decisions they make. This is one remarkable tale.

(Actually a much better film than "Rescue Dawn," the dramatized remake also directed by Werner Herzog.)


Man Facing Southeast
(Hombre Mirando al Sudeste)

1987

Argentina

Director: Eliseo Subiela

Starring: (Argentine cast)

Psychotic or extraterrestrial? You choose.




Not available on DVD


Manon of the Spring
(Manon des Sources)

1986

France / Italy

Director: Claude Berri

Starring: Yves Montand, Emmanuelle Beart


Sequel to Jean de Florette.




Midnight Express

1978

USA / UK

Director: Alan Parker

Starring: Brad Davis, John Hurt

US drug smuggler escapes from Turkish prison. This is one of the first films I screened as a theater projectionist in high school, and put visit Turkey on indefinite hold.

Oliver Stone's screenplay took considerable artistic license.


Moulin Rouge

2001

Australia / USA

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor

This film explodes off the screen at you. I cried laughing during the Like a Virgin jiggling jello scene.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is to love, and to be loved in return."


Muriel's Wedding

1994

Australia

Director: P.J. Hogan

Starring: Toni Colette, Rachel Griffiths

Wallflower ABBA fan seeks fantasy wedding.

(Don't confuse this with the U.S. remake, "My Best Friend's Wedding.")


No End in Sight

2007

USA

Director: Charles Ferguson

Starring: (Documentary)


Examines mishandling of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


The Object of Beauty

 

1981

UK / USA

Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg, William Pohlad

Starring: John Malkovich, Andie MacDowell

"Things will work out OK... They always do."






An Officer and a Gentleman

1981

USA

Director: Taylor Hackford

Starring: Richard Gere, Debra Winger

Self-centered man undergoes character growth.

"Way to go, Paula! Way to go!"



One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

1975

USA

Director: Miloš  Forman

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher


Non-conformer leads insurrections in asylum.





Pascali's Island

1988

USA / UK

Director: James Dearden

Starring: Ben Kingsley, Helen Mirren, Charles Dance


Ottoman secret agent has divided loyalties. Another kick-in-the-stomach ending.


Not available on DVD


Pee Wee's Big Adventure

1985

USA

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Paul Reubens


Nerdy man-child in epic search for beloved bike.

(Avoid the sequel, "Big Top Pee-Wee.")




The Piano

1993

Australia / France

Director: Jane Campion

Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill


Bizarre love triangle in colonial New Zealand. Beautiful soundtrack by Michael Nyman.




Portrait of a Serial Kisser

Portrait of a Serial Kisser
(Beijoqueiro)

1992

Brazil

Director: Carlos Nader

Starring: José Alves de Moura (Docu-Comedy)

Brazilian obsessive-compulsive can't be stopped. No one is safe, especially visiting celebrities.



Not available on DVD

 

Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation

1988

USA

Director: Godfrey Reggio

Starring: N/A (Documentary)

Riveting collage of images and music. No dialog (i.e., a "non-verbal" film).

I spent 3 weeks taking trains around India, as a direct result of this film.


Proof

1991

Australia

Director: Jocelyn Moorhouse

Starring: Hugo Weaving, Russell Crowe

Blind photographer seeks the truth.






Prospero's Books

1991

UK / France

Director: Peter Greenaway

Starring: John Gielgud, Isabelle Pasco


An assault on the senses. Greenaway is very demanding of his audiences. Excellent soundtrack by Michael Nyman.

Not available on DVD


Pulp Fiction

1994

USA

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken


John can still dance after all these years.





Quadrophenia

1979

UK

Director: Franc Roddam

Starring: Phil Daniels, Leslie Ash, Sting

Mods vs. Rockers rumble in 1960s Brighton. Soundtrack by The Who.



Only available on "full screen" (4:3),
not widescreen format.


Raiders of the Lost Ark

1981

USA

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Denholm Elliot


Rush to keep sacred Ark from Nazi hands.

(Avoid the sequel, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.")





Rain Man

1988

USA

Director: Barry Levinson

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman


Selfish brother takes to road with autistic savant.





The Razor's Edge

1984

USA

Director: John Byrum

Starring: Bill Murray, Denholm Elliot

Bill Murray, in a serious role, did screenplay for and spearheaded this adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's "story of one man's search for himself."

(This remake outshines its 1946 original starring Tyrone Power.)


The Red Violin

1998

Italy / Canada

Director: François Girard

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Greta Scacchi

A musical instrument transcends geography, culture, economics, language, politics, race, love, and history.


Reds

1981

USA

Director: Warren Beatty

Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson

Historical romance of radical U.S. labor organizer.

"What if I asked you to do something that might seem a little selfish?"
 ...
"Well, I think you should!"


Regret to Inform

Click here.

1998

USA

Director: Barbara Sonneborn

Starring: (Documentary)


Analyzes the Vietnam War from the point of view of American and Vietnamese women who lost the men they loved.



Requiem for a Dream

2000

USA

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans

The author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and the director of Pi create bizarre, surreal, dark, and overlapping tales of addiction and its consequences. Parents, see the unedited version with your teenagers.


Risky Business

1983

USA

Director: Paul Brickman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca DeMornay


"My name is Joel Goodson. I deal in human fulfillment. I grossed over $8,000 in one night. Time of your life, huh kid?"




The Road Warrior

1981

Australia

Director: George Miller

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence

Post-apocalyptic sequel to Mad Max. Gyro Captain is my favorite. Another reason to visit Australia!

(Avoid "Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome.")


Roger and Me

1989

USA

Director: Michael Moore

Starring: N/A (Docu-Comedy)

Iconoclast investigates the decline and fall of Flint, Michigan after General Motors plant closes. Rabbit lady is my favorite.



Safe

1995

USA

Director: Todd Haynes

Starring: Julianne Moore

Applause for spotlighting the socially misunderstood but personally debilitating medical condition known as "chemical sensitivity."


Only available on "full screen" (4:3), not widescreen format.


Scarface

1983

USA

Director: Brian de Palma

Starring: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer

Exiled Cuban crim turns Miami drug lord. Screenplay by Oliver Stone.

Obscenity count here.



The Shawshank Redemption

1994

USA

Director: Frank Darabont

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman


From a Steven King short story. If you only see one prison flick, make it this one.

"Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'."




The Shining

1980

USA

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

Stay out of Room 237. As horror stories made into movies, it's the diamond in Steven King's pile of glass.

"Redrum! Redrum!"


Only available on "full screen" (4:3),
not widescreen format.


Sister My Sister

1995

UK

Director: Nancy Meckler

Starring: Joely Richardson, Julie Walters, Jodhi May


Period piece / psychological drama. Steamy lesbian love affair bubbles up into all-out slaughter.  Based on true story in France, 1933 called, "The Papin Case."



Sling Blade

1996

USA

Director: Billy Bob Thornton

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Robert Duvall

"I don't reckon I got no reason to kill nobody."

Never underestimate anybody named Billy Bob!



Snow Falling on Cedars

1999

USA

Director: Scott Hicks

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Max von Sydow, James Cromwell, Youki Kudoh

Casting. Script. Lighting. Cinematography. Screenplay. Soundtrack. Editing. This film is a simply awesome combination of talent. Another Australian director triumphs!

It unweaves three mysteries: What happened on the boat (as played out in the courtroom)? What is the relationship? What happened to this community during the war?


Something Wild

1986

USA

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, Ray Liotta

Straight-laced yuppie corrupted by wild girl.






Sophie's Choice

1982

USA

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Starring: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline


Moral: Don't get into a three-way love affair with a paranoid schizophrenic.

Yet another kick-in-the-stomach ending.


Star Wars

1977

USA

Director: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Alec Guiness


Can you believe it was made for $11 million? The prequels and sequels to this never repeated its charm and magic.

To think I dressed up as Luke Skywalker at sci-fi conventions! Jeesh!


Swimming to Cambodia

1987

USA

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Spaulding Gray

Experimental theater. This man has simply unbounded personal energy.

See after The Killing Fields.  Spaulding Gray portrayed the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia in that film, and recounts his experiences on the set.


The Terminator

1984

USA

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton

Indestructible cyborg sent back in time on a mission.



Terminator 2: Judgment Day

1991

USA

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton


Great when a sequel tops the original.

(Skip the 3rd in this series, "Terminator III: Rise of the Machines.")


Thelma and Louise

1991

USA

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Gina Davis, Harvey Keitel, Brad Pitt


"Sir, you're standing in your pizza."


Crime-spree, buddy, road, girls' self-discovery movie. Serious "snowball effect" happening here.


To Die For

1994

UK

Director: Gus Van Sant, Jr.

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix

"The price of fame is murder."

This girl can act.



Touching the Void

2003

UK

Director: Kevin MacDonald

Starring: Joe Simpson, Simon Yates (Docu-drama)

Gripping testament to human endurance. This fellow, seriously lucky to have survived a mountain-climbing accident  in the Peruvian Andes, puffs a cigarette as he retells his tale!


Toy Story

1995

USA

Director: John Lasseter

Starring: (Animated)  


First feature-length film animated entirely by computer.


Toy Story 2

1999

USA

Director: John Lasseter

Starring: (Animated)

Another sequel even better than the original.


The Trip to Bountiful

1985

USA

Director: Peter Masterson

Starring: Geraldine Page, Rebecca DeMornay


You can thoroughly empathize with this desperate woman's obsession to return home.





True Romance

1993

USA

Director: Tony Scott

Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt

Written by Quentin Tarantino.

Starts out schmaltzy, but ramps up quick. This film delivers.


Waiting for Guffman

1996

USA

Director: Christopher Guest

Starring: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy

Will Corky make it to Broadway?






Wall Street

1987

USA

Director: Oliver Stone

Starring: Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas

"Greed is good."

And so is Daryl Hannah in a backless dress!


Why we Fight

2005

USA

Director: Eugene Jarecki

Starring: (Documentary)

Explores political, economic, and ideological motivations to answer, "Why does America engage in war?"


The Widow of Saint-Pierre
(La Veuve de Saint-Pierre)

2000

France

Director: Patrice Leconte

Starring: Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Emir Kusturica


"Widow" in French is nickname for the guillotine.





Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

1971

USA

Director: Mel Stuart

Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson

Will poor Charlie find the winning ticket? From a Roald Dahl story.



Winged Migration

2001

France

Director: Jacques Perrin

Starring: (Documentary)

Director Jacques Perrin comments,"For eighty million years, birds have ruled the skies, seas and earth. Each spring, they fly vast distances. Each fall, they fly the same route back. This film is the result of four years following their amazing odysseys, in the northern hemisphere and then the south, species by species, flying over seas and continents."


The Wizard of Oz

1939font>

USA

Director: Victor Fleming

Starring: Judy Garland

"Gone with the Wind" stole all the Oscars that year. (Another good reason not to watch the Oscars!)


Only available on "full screen" (4:3), not widescreen format.


Interesting Connections from Above:
  • Adrian Lyne directed both 9½ Weeks (1986) and Fatal Attraction (1987).
  • Al Pacino acted in The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974), Scarface (1983), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and The Insider (1999).
  • Brad Pitt acted in both Thelma and Louise (1991) and True Romance (1993).
  • Charlie Sheen (who acted in Wall Street) made several Super-8 films with then schoolmate Rob Lowe (who acted in Bad Influence).
  • Christopher Walken acted in both True Romance (1993) and Pulp Fiction (1994).
  • Daniel Auteuil a acted in Jean de Florette (1986), Manon of the Spring (1986), and The Widow of Saint Pierre (2000).
  • Denholm Eliot acted in both Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and The Razor's Edge (1984)
  • Ethan Hawke acted in both Dead Poets Society (1989) and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).
  • George Lucas directed Star Wars (1977) and co-produced Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
  • George Miller directed The Road Warrior (1981), produced Babe (1995), and did the screenplay for both. (Imagine that!)
  • GuGus van Sant, Jr. directed both To Die For (1995) and Good Will Hunting (1997).
  • Harrison Ford acted in both Star Wars (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
  • Harvey Keitel acted in Thelma and Louise (1991), The Piano (1993), and Pulp Fiction (1994).
  • Helen Mirren (who acted in Pascali's Island) married Taylor Hackford (who directed An Officer and a Gentleman).
  • Hugo Weaving acted in Proof (1991) and did the voice of Rex the Male Sheepdog in Babe (1995).
  • Jack Nicholson acted in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), The Shining (1980), and Reds (1981).
  • Jacque Perrin acted as the adult Salvatore in Cinema Paradiso (1988) and directed Winged Migration (2001).
  • James Cromwell acted in both Babe (1995) and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).
  • James Dearden wrote Fatal Attraction (1987) and directed Pascali's Island (1988).
  • Jennifer Connelly acted in both Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Blood Diamond (2006).
  • Jocelyn Moorhouse (who directed Proof) is married to P.J. Hogan (who directed Muriel's Wedding), having met at film school in Australia.
  • John Hurt acted in both Midnight Express (1978) and The Elephant Man (1980).
  • John Barry composed soundtracks for Body Heat (1981), Frances (1982), and Dances with Wolves (1990).
  • John Giedgud acted in both The Elephant Man (1980) and Prospero's Books (1991).
  • John Williams composed soundtracks for Star Wars (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and JFK (1991).
  • Jonathan Demme directed both Something Wild (1986) and Swimming to Cambodia (1987).
  • Julianne Moore (who acted in Safe) and Michael Moore (who acted in and directed Roger and Me, and appeared in The Corporation) are not related.
  • Max von Sydow acted in both Snow Falling on Cedars (1999) and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007).
  • Mel Gibson acted in Gallipoli (1981) and directed Apocalypto (2006).
  • Michael Douglas acted in Fatal Attraction (1987), Wall Street (1987), and The Game (1997).
  • Michael Moore directed Roger and Me (1989) and appeared in The Corporation (2003).
  • Michael Nyman composed soundtracks for both Prospero's Books (1991) and The Piano (1993).
  • Miloš Forman directed both One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Amadeus (1984).
  • Nicole Kidman acted in both To Die For (1995) and Moulin Rouge (2006).
  • Quentin Tarantino did the screenplay for True Romance (1993), and directed Pulp Fiction (1994).
  • Oliver Stone did the screenplay for both Midnight Express (1978) and Scarface (1983), and directed both Wall Street (1987) and JFK (1991).
  • Peter Wier directed The Last Wave (1977), Gallipoli (1981), and Dead Poets Society (1989).
  • Philip Glass composed soundtracks for for both Powaqqatsi (1988) and Kundun (1997).
  • Quentin Tarantino wrote the screenplay for True Romance (1993), and co-wrote and directed Pulp Fiction (1994).
  • Rebecca de Mornay acted in both Risky Business (1983) and The Trip to Bountiful (1985).
  • Ridley Scott directed both Alien (1979) and Thelma and Louise (1991).
  • Robert Duvall acted in The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974), and Sling Blade (1996).
  • Robert Duvall and Dustin Hoffman are close friends since their struggling actor days, and once roomed together while looking for work.
  • Robert Duvall is not related to Shelley Duvall, although her father is named Robert.
  • Robert Richardson was cinematographer for Wall Street (1987), JFK (1991), and Snow Falling on Cedars (1999).
  • Robin Williams acted in both Dead Poets Society (1989) and Good Will Hunting (1997).
  • Russell Crowe acted in both Proof (1991) and The Insider (1999).
  • Samuel L. Jackson acted in both Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Red Violin (1997).
  • Sean Penn acted in The Game (1997) and directed Into the Wild (2007).
  • Sean Penn co-owns a Parisian restaurant-bar with John Malkovich (who acted in The Object of Beauty) called "Man Ray."
  • Stephen King wrote books from which The Shining (1980) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994) were adapted.
  • Tom Cruise acted in both Risky Business (1983) and Rain Man (1988).
  • Tom Hanks acted in both Forrest Gump (1994) and Charlie Wilson's War (2007), and provided voice for Woody in Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story, Part 2 (1999).
  • Tony Scott (director of True Romance) is brother of Ridley Scott (director of Alien and Thelma and Louise).
  • William Baldwin (who acted in Glengarry Glen Ross) married and divorced Kim Basinger (who acted in Weeks).
  • William Hurt acted in both Body Heat (1981) and Into the Wild (2007).
  • William Hurt and John Hurt are not related.
  • William Pohlad co-directed The Object of Beauty (1991) and co-produced Into the Wild (2007).
  • Powaqqatsi (1988) and Baraka (1993) are both non-verbal films (i.e., contain no dialog).
  • Swimming to Cambodia (1987) deals with actor Spaulding Gray's experience on the set of The Killing Fields (1984).
  • Actors Alec Guiness, John Gielgud, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, John Hurt, Julie Walters, and Denholm Elliot have all been knighted.
  • Directors Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, and William Pohlad have all been knighted.

 
 

And the award goes to...

Best Film-Making Country

Australia

Babe, Bad Boy Bubby, , Breaker Morant, Cane Toads, Gallipoli, The Last Wave, Muriel's Wedding, The Piano, Proof, The Road Warrior (plus directors like Peter Weir, Jane Campion, and Scott Hicks; cinematographers like Dean Semler; actors like Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Toni Collette, etc.

Best Directors

Peter Weir

The Last Wave (1977), Gallipoli (1981), Witness (1985), The Mosquito Coast (1986), Dead Poets Society (1989), Greencard (1990)

Scott Hicks

Shine (1996), Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

Worst Directors

Robert Altman

The Player (1992), Prêt-à-Porter (1994)

Whit Stillman

Barcelona (1994), The Last Days of Disco (1998)

Best Actors

Dustin Hoffman

The Graduate (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Straw Dogs (1971), Papillon (1973), All the President's Men (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Tootsie (1982), Death of a Salesman (1985), Rain Man (1988)

Jack Nicholson

Easy Rider (1967), Chinatown (1974), One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), The Shining (1980), A Few Good Men (1992)

Lon Chaney, Sr.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Mr. Wu (1927) ... Died of lung cancer at age 47.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Magnolia (1999), Capote (2000), Before the Devil Knows you're Dead (2007), Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

Max von Sydow

The Seventh Seal (1957), The Exorcist (1973), Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

Worst Actors

Haley Joel Osment, Keanu Reeves, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Swayze, Paul Hogan, Tom Selleck

Best Actresses

Meryl Streep

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Sophie's Choice (1982), Silkwood (1983), Out of Africa (1985), A Cry in the Dark (1988)

Nicole Kidman

Dead Calm (1989), To Die For (1995), Moulin Rouge (2001), Birthday Girl (2001)

Worst Actresses

Angela Lansbury, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Rosie Perez, Shirley MacLaine

Highly talented actors I personally can't stand

Sean Penn

Who foresaw Jeff Spicoli maturing to be a powerhouse director chairing the Cannes Festival jury?

Russell Crowe

I watched Crowe during the 90s in Australian movie theaters... Proof (1991), Spotswood (1992), Romper Stomper (1992), Hammers over the Anvil (1993), The Sum of Us (1994), Heaven's Burning (1997)...

Once again, who would have guessed?

Talented but somewhat unidimensional actors

David Duchovny, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Kevin Spacey, Richard Gere

Best Cinematography

Apocalypto

2006

by Dean Semler

Cinematic maestro from South Australia.

Baraka

1993

by Ron Fricke

And in 70mm, too. Gorgeous.

Dances with Wolves

1990

by Dean Semler

Obviously, the best cinematographer to ever walk the earth.

The Mission

1986

by Chris Menges

I need to visit Iguasu Falls!

The Road Warrior

1981

by Dean Semler

Whether it's sweeping vistas or high-speed pursuits in jalopies, Dean is the man!

Snow Falling on Cedars

1999

by Robert Richardson

What a stunningly gorgeous piece of film-making this is!

Best Editing

El Mariachi

1992

by Robert Rodriguez

Somebody did a count of the number of individual cuts which make up this film. Lots!

JFK

1991

by Hank Corwin,
Joe Hutshing,
Pietro Scalia

No wonder it took 3 editors to piece this legendary film together!

Prospero's Books

1991

by Marina Rodbyl

Screens embedded one within another, fancy cursive script rolling across the screen.  Stunning.

Snow Falling on Cedars

1999

by Hank Corwin

Weaves 3 stories perfectly.

Best Lighting

9½ Weeks

1986

.

Could have been cheesy and sleazy given the subject matter. Lighting made it downright artistic.

Snow Falling on Cedars

1999

.

Atmospheric. Whether indoors or outdoors, the lighting is rich and ideal to the scene.

Best Soundtracks

The Piano

1993

by Michael Nyman

A modern musical masterpiece which ranks alongside anything a classical composer ever wrote.

Quadrophenia

1979

by The Who

Based on a1973 rock opera by Pete Townshend.

Best Set Design /  Decoration

Apocalypto

2006

by Carlos Benassini

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

1968

by Harry Pottle

 

Star Wars

1977

by Roger Christian

 

The Wizard of Oz

1939

by Edwin B. Willis

 

Best Non-Verbal Films

Baraka

1992

Ron Fricke

Shot at 152 locations in 24 countries.

Powaqqatsi

1988

Godfrey Reggio

An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.

Movies I showed as projectionist in theaters
(which are on my Favorites List today)

The Atomic Cafe (1982), The Elephant Man (1980), Frances (1982), Gallipoli (1981), The Last Wave (1977), Midnight Express (1978), Quadrophenia (1979), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Reds (1981), The Road Warrior (1981)

Movies I saw at international film festivals
(which are on my Favorites List today)

Baraka (1993), Cinema Paradiso (1988), El Mariachi (1992), Jean de Florette (1986), The Killer (1989), Manon of the Spring (1986), Roger and Me (1989), Sister my Sister (1994)

Movies which feature my surname (Bauer)

The Blue Max

1966

A WWI fighter pilot named "Bauer" is featured on the German squadron's tally board. 

Dances with Wolves

1989

Sgt. Bauer (portrayed by Larry Joshua) beats Lt. John Dunbar  (Kevin Costner) while transporting him to his execution at Fort Sedgwick.  (I was born in Sedgwick County, Kansas.)

Driving Miss Daisy

1989

Miss Daisy (portrayed by Jessica Tandy) instructs chauffer Hoke (Morgan Freeman) to locate a gravestone which reads "Bauer."

Splash

1984

Tom Hanks and John Candy portray brothers Allen and Freddie Bauer.

Best Movies

Baraka

1993

Ron Fricke

Pure celluloid poetry. God, I envy whoever got to shoot this film.

The Elephant Man

1980

David Lynch

Who would have expected a film this beautiful from the same director as Eraserhead?

The Killing Fields

1984

Roland Joffé

Why is genocide still happening in the world after masterpiece movies like this?

Midnight Express

1978

Alan Parker

Loosely based on a true story

The Piano

1993

Jane Campion

OK, you found it... my #1 greatest film of all time. Jane Campion, you nailed it!

Quadrophenia

1979

Frank Roddam

I saw the trailer for this at a Who concert in 1979. The ultimate teen angst film. Very classy.

Snow Falling on Cedars

1999

Scott Hicks

Every aspect of this film came together magically.

Sophie's Choice

1982

Alan J. Pakula

I sat there, stunned, for several minutes after watching this on a 13" black & white TV in college.


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