Category Archives: Editorial

Hey guys, this is absolutely one of the worst years for the moviegoer I’ve seen, but there are a few gems. These are the movies I loved and think you might too.

As always, if you have comments, good or bad, you can leave them at: voicemail  #260-573-0015, email us at moviemadnesspodcast@gmail.com or post your thoughts on  TwitterFacebook or the Ultimate Movie Geeks community on Google+

  1. Central Intelligence

You might just call this one Central (lack of) Intelligence because what makes it so funny is the complete absence of any. Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson is an spy bent on becoming a legend, but is hampered by memories of a tragic high school career. He figures only his lone high school friend, Kevin Hart, a former jock and good guy can help. This is my favorite Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and the only movie I’ve ever seen where I can stand Kevin Hart. That’s probably because Johnson abuses the hell out of the Hart. It’s just so much fun.  

  1. Hell or High Water

Three actors absolutely rock in this film: Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. I totally lost myself in the characters and the story. The writing was engaging, and is one of the best of its kind. The one downside…the movie is predictable, even if you don’t know the story behind it, but so well written it matters not. See this one at your own risk, you may struggle with whom to like in the film.

  1. Moana

A giant demigod, a beautiful Polynesian Princess and the dumbest chicken ever, and you have one of the best films of the year! Even better, this film plays on every level: intellectual, humor, mythological, magical and great for even kids from two to ninety-two. I dare you to see this movie and not love it. I couldn’t help myself.

  1. The Nice Guys

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, how can this possibly work…I don’t know but it sure does. I probably laughed as much during this film as any other this year. It was like watching a modern, criminal version of The Odd Couple. I cannot wait to see a sequel.

  1. The Jungle Book

A giant leap forward for live action mixed with CGI, The Jungle Book manages to thrill, chill and engage even the cynical. Baloo, Bagheera and Kaa, were as real in this film as watching one of the old Disney nature films. Of course, add in Mowgli, a small boy in India, and you have one of the Mouse House’s best.

  1. Doctor Strange

The first movie I’ve ever seen that I would voluntarily pay real money to see in 3D. The magic, the performances, writing and directing were captivating. There are usually moments in a film like this that can kick you out of the moment, but not once did I feel disconnected. Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant.

  1. Deadpool

Finally, after numerous attempts, our dear friend, Ryan Reynolds has his franchise. If you don’t laugh your ass off during this film, you have no funny bone. Maybe you need a little blue pill, or something. Yep, it is R-Rated, but it’s also the most successful R-Rated film in history. Once again, Marvel trumps DC for the year.

  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If you needed a movie to link the Star Wars films, this is it. The characters are rich and engaging, the pace is quick without being frenetic and there’s a quiet desperation and hopelessness in the film. Only at the end of Rogue One is there a whisper of “hope.”

  1. Arrival

One of my top picks for the Oscar, Arrival simply thrives on great acting, story and direction. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star in this Science Fiction blockbuster, but it’s the style and substance that make it one of my favorites.

  1. Captain America: Civil War

You need a scorecard to keep track of all the Super Heroes in this one. I mean, Iron Man beating on Captain America, Black Panther pouncing on Spidey, Iron Man light (War Machine), Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man and Black Widow. Add in a human villain manipulating Bucky Barnes and this movie is so engaging, so much fun and exciting, that I cannot think of a way to make it better. That’s a first, and one of the few movies I’ll own, even if it is on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Oh, and there’s even a Giant surprise!


Category: Editorial

20. Top Hat (1935)

It would be tragic to pick the top 25 musicals and not include at least one with the most famous dance team in movie history: the very defining duo of grace and elegance, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! Top Hat is the best in a great series of films starring the pair. Great music, incredible dance sequences and some of the best chemistry on screen, make this film unmatched in pure ballroom joy.

Top Hat is also one of their funniest. When Rogers mistakes Edward Everett Horton for Astaire the action is hilarious and that is only one of the great scenes. I love this film. The story is great, the characters excellent and, of course, the dancing is some of the best you will ever see in a movie. I’ve watched Top Hat a dozen times and never get tired of it.

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21. Showboat (1951)

Once again, Howard Keel stars in a sometimes grim, sometimes funny take on the grand old days of the great Mississippi paddle wheel steamboats. Showboats once traveled “Ol’ Man River” picking up audiences, gamblers and travelers and presenting some of the best melodramas of the time. There was always plenty of dancing, singing, food and drink at, usually, a reasonable price. Having grown up on the Mississippi, just twenty miles from Hannibal, Missouri, I have a special love for the great waterway and it’s history.

Showboat captures much about that history and also the joy and pain of the time. Add in one of the greatest casts ever collected: Keel, Ava Gardner, Kathryn Grayson, Joe E. Brown, Agnes Moorehead and Robert Sterling, among many others; it’s no wonder that Showboat commands an important place in Americana, and American film. And, it’s a really good story too.

One note: if you’ve never seen (or heard) William Warfield singing Ol’ Man River you should immediately stop in your tracks…march right to your computer and get on Youtube. Type in William Warfield and Ol Man River and be thrilled. I get chills and can’t think of anything that lasts three minutes that’s any better! You will thank me. Or better yet, here it is!

 


22. Oliver! (1968)

Charles Dickens is one of the best known writers in the history of the world. His bleak depiction of the British Isles, and particularly London, combine with a transcendent ability to create brilliant characters to make his work uniquely suited to stage and film. A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and, of course, Oliver Twist, among many others, have reached countless millions of fans.

Oliver! Is one of the best of these: with great music, a wonderful cast and the best Fagin (Ron Moody) and Artful Dodger (Jack Wild) I’ve ever seen. Fagin’s Reviewing the Situation makes Oliver! a must pick in the top 25!

 


What great news! I love the Jesse Owens story and if Anthony Mackie ends up playing the 1936 Olympic champion, I’ll be there opening night. For those of you that may not know, Jesse Owens was the star at the Berlin Olympics winning four gold medals and giving Adolf Hitler a figurative massive headache. The German leader was not amused.

I’m super excited that Relativity Studios appears to be acquiring the project and even more so that the costar of Captain America: The Winter Soldier may be playing the track legend. Check out the full story at Deadline Hollywood who first released the story.


Category: Editorial, News

23. Kiss Me Kate (1953)

Based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and one of the cleverer of the musical comedies, Kiss Me Kate is two running stories at once. One, the actual play, with Howard Keel as the indomitable Petruchio and Kathryn Grayson as shrewish Katharine and the other: the story of Fred Graham (also Keel) and Lilli Vanessi (also Grayson), the stars of the play. They are divorced but obviously still in love. Their battles, in the film, are legendary as were those in the original Shakespeare masterpiece and great fun.

Keel, as always, brilliant to a fault, is the musical equivalent of Clark Gable: loved by women and respected by men. His presence on the screen is riveting and his voice and bearing majestic. Taking nothing away from Grayson, she of the flashing eyes and beautiful face, has a grace and power on both screen and stage that’s almost incomparable. The play is brilliant and the understory great fun. It also has an incredible dance number with Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), two of America’s greatest dancers. The only thing keeping it from a much higher place on my list is the gimmicky feel. (Pardon me if it seems I tend toward hyperbole, but I assure you I do not. These actors/dancers are that good!)


24. South Pacific (1958)

      Brilliantly made with a superlative cast and great direction by Joshua Logan, South Pacific is also of the one of the largest in scope. Set during WWII and against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful areas in the world, South Pacific is a deadly serious, brilliant and chilling look at love and loss in paradise. The music is unsurpassed, the plot excellent if a bit predictable and the performances superb. Only it’s, perhaps, too large plot make it less approachable than many other, musicals. It also seems a bit dated in today’s world, but I heartily recommend it to anyone.

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Hey everyone! I’m going to try something new here at Movie Madness. I’m going to start with top 25 lists of some of my favorite categories. These are my picks so don’t blame Doug, Mr. Jeremy, Steph or Jason.

I’m going to start with one I saw as a little boy. It was a stage musical at the famous Muny Theater in St. Louis, as I recall, with the original cast. It began a love for live theater that has never waned. Imagine my surprise when, in 1959, the film version arrived in our local theater. I begged my aunt to take me and my number 25 musical became forever etched in stone.

25. Li’l Abner (1959)

Yea, okay, I got it. Li’l Abner, one of the best musicals ever? I would argue yes. The film is so true to the stage musical that I, at eight years old, was singing along during the film. With great music, a great cast and great watchability, Li’l Abner is such a wild eyed and wonderful recreation of a classic comic that it blows nearly every other attempt away. And guess what, Jerry Lewis has an uncredited appearance in the film as Itchy McRabbit! How could that be bad. The only knock on the film is that it seems to be hidden away in some vault and played seldom on TV.


Hi, this is me, your Movie Maniac, one of the professors at the Movie Madness Podcast University. I’m here with something quite disturbing; I woke in the middle of the night with visions of Mel Brooks tap dancing in my head (sugar plums are far more comforting); I also had an epiphany. I finally know what happened between High Anxiety and Spaceballs. Well, History of the World: Part 1 happened too, but that doesn’t count.

In my dream, Brooks was doing the Putting On The Ritz number from Young Frankenstein, complete with the scantily clad Mel Brooks dancers, when like a lightning bolt I knew why I loved High Anxiety and hated Space Balls. Now, be patient I’ll get there…

Earlier in the day, the wonderful documentary, Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, was on Netflix and I couldn’t help but watch it. While enjoying the film an old concern struck me: what de hell happened, as Mel might have said.  That’s when the disturbing dream came in to play. I realized as Brooks was dancing, “harrumph,” that, in the earlier films, Brooks was paying homage. The original movies were always in the background as subtext. In the new films he was making fun, or mocking: Robin Hood: Men in Tights, really?

In Make a Noise, Brooks explains that he sat with Alfred Hitchcock to watch High Anxiety and nervously awaited his opinion. When Hitch liked the film, even commenting on the draining ink from the newspaper seeming eerily like the blood circling the drain in Psycho, Mel was thrilled. With Spaceballs he just kind of asked George Lucas for permission. According to Brooks, in the documentary, all Lucas made him promise was “no action figures.”

Before all you fellow movie geeks get up in arms, I actually grew to like Spaceballs, despite it mocking one of my favorite films: Star Wars. Even worse, is the aforementioned Robin Hood: Men in Tights. I was horrified when I first watched it…horrified I say! Swashbucklers are my favorite genre and to mock them is tantamount to celluloid blasphemy. To this day I can’t even look at a clip of Tights without cursing. I want to find Mr. Brooks and violently shake my finger at him. (H’m, do you think maybe I’m wound too tight?)

I grew up on Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power and Douglas Fairbanks, et al.. I expected to see an hilarious homage to the original The Adventures of Robin Hood, not just lots of vaudeville style mocking. Certainly Mel Brooks is incredibly funny but the artful crafting of his earlier films seemed to have been replaced by scatological humor and the equivalent of fart jokes, Blazing Saddles notwithstanding.

Lest you think I’m being too sensitive I’d like to bring up some examples. The Court Jester is a wonderful spoof of Robin Hood (and the genre in general). Airplane is about as silly as a film can be but still maintains a loving relationship to the disaster films from whence it sprang. Scream is another great film, that just happens to make it easier for me to watch slasher films, and yet, as “spoofy” as it may be, maintains the integrity of the original.

The last example is Dr. Strangelove. One of the great comedies of all time and also one of the best spoofs. Stanley Kubrick was at his absolute best when directing it and Peter Sellers at the top of his career. Each of these films was wildly funny and yet serious film making. Not to be too harsh, but it seems Mel Brooks should have stuck to the date that brought him.

Having expostulated enough I shall step down from my soapbox and say that Mel Brooks, I love you. Your performance as the 2000-year-old-man is classic comedy at it’s best and your earlier movies are some of the best comedies ever made. I just have one wish. I would love to see you remake Young Frankenstein for the 21st century. That would make up for Men in Tights. Few people have remade their own movies and done it as well as undoubtedly you could. Though you may have to update the humor and enlist a few writers from the hip-hop generation, but I think it would be great!

 


Category: Editorial

A really stunning trailer for a film that we all are hoping is exceptional. Check out Channing Tatum’s ears if you’re wondering why we have some concern. Still…Jupiter Ascending is one movie for which the Movie Madness Podcast is anxiously awaiting.


Category: Editorial, Trailers

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