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Friday, July 23, 2010

Flowery Dinner, Top 10's and Porn Code

That was out 5th Wedding Anniversary then and as I promised, I'll just tell you a few words about dinner last night. We went to the Daffodil in Cheltenham. You may or may not of heard of it. It's reputation more than proceeds it. The food is spectacular and this regrettably means you pay the price, but it's worth it. We had a lovely evening and shouldn't have had a second bottle of wine.... ho hum. Actually as restaurants go, I couldn't have chosen more aptly given the subject of todays post. The Daff' is a re-purposed cinema. Next time we visit we'll be taking a booth on the balcony, rather than a table in the auditorium, just because we'd get a much better view of the Kitchen, which is up on the stage. Fantastic stuff, but no usherette's with ice creams and popcorn is most definitely not on the menu.

In conversation with Stretch yesterday he suggested posting some top 10's. Books, Movies, Albums & he suggested Girlfriends..... (I declined that one). But I'm going to start off with an easy one - at least for me.... Top 10 movies, especially after our dining in the old cinema last night. Most people would struggle with this for hours, but sadly I won't.... you'll see what I mean.


BE WARNED!!

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!!!!
YOU'RE PROBABLY SAFE, BUT THEN AGAIN
I HAVE A FEW LEFT FIELD CHOICES SO
ON THAT BASIS HERE'S THE LIST, AND THE SPOILERS ARE FURTHER DOWN THE PAGE.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!


I am the worst kind of movie geek, as you're about to find out. In this list, I've included a couple of instances of multiple movies as part of a franchise. Just because the franchise ties them all together doesn't mean they're all good movies, but equally they may not all be bad movies, so if I rate two out of four of a franchise - then I think I'm at liberty to hold them as part of my top 10, but.... and this is the important bit... in preferential order. On top of that, I'm going to share my favourite scene from each of the 10, which in some cases is going to be quite hard. I've gone back through my library and added a time code for each scene based on the UK version which runs at slightly different speeds to the NTSC versions, but they are there or there abouts. Well, I can't have it easy all the time. Those of you not interested... look away now.

10.The Dark Knight (2008)
9.Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) and The Terminator (1984)
8.Leon (The Professional) (1994)
7.Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)
6.Close Encounters of the Third kind (1977)
5.The Dam Busters (1955)
4.All the Presidents Men (1976)
3.Jaws (1975)
2.The Ladykillers (1955)
1.The Big Lebowski (1998)

Here we go then...

The Dark Knight (+ BD Live) [Blu-ray]10: The Dark Knight (2008) - A complete surprise to me when this arrived two years ago. Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, completely blew me away and Christopher Nolan's direction made this one of the most amazing films of the naughties (00's) in my opinion. I can just go back to it time and time again, and still love every second. The downside to it, is that it pushed my previous number 10 out to number 11.... so it's a real shame, but I can no longer include any of the Star Wars or Indiana Jones franchises - gutted. Anyway - to the scene, and there are loads of cracking shots throughout this one, but I'm going with the Hospital scene (from 1h 46m 52s onwards...) The Joker cleans his hands (we have a short cut to a related scene) and then back to the Joker as he walks calmly from the hospital while it explodes around him. The clincher is (at 1h 47m 45s though) where the explosions have stopped. Beautifully done.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day [Blu-ray]9: Terminator 2 (1991) & The Terminator (1984) - Terminator 2 wins out here, probably due to special effects, which is a bit of a lame reason on my part, but that said, this was some ground breaking stuff in '91. It was also James Cameron performing the ground breaking film making, and bear in mind this was long before Titanic or Avatar, so you can see where he was going. That said, the story, which obviously starts off in "The Terminator", is a genius piece of work, hence they both are worthy of a mention.

The Terminator [Blu-ray]The Terminator movies are chase movies, so it's quite hard to say where the best chase sequence is, but in T2 (at 31m and onwards) there's the moment that John Connor realises the governor of the state of California (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is actually a good guy. That shot of the box of roses with a shotgun inside is burned onto my retina's for ever.

The relationship between John Connor and The Terminator (in T2) is a great piece of work, with the former trying to "teach" the later how humans behave and of course it's home of the immortal line "I'll be back" which has entered and is part of the modern day english language. All good chases come to an end though and the final 20 minutes of T2 round it all up perfectly. It's just a shame that in more recent years they've made a right hash of what was a great franchise that had the potential to run and run.

Léon: The Professional (Theatrical and Extended Edition) [Blu-ray]8: Leon (The Professional) (1994) - Depends on which side of the pond you live on as to what you know this film as. In Europe it's simply "Leon" while in the US and Canada it's "The Professional". Don't ask me why. Presumably something to do with employment law over there? You have to have a job. Anyway, there are two stand-out performances in this movie. They come from Natalie Portman, who plays the 12 year old Mathilda (and goes on to be better known for her role in the Star Wars Saga - No.11. - as Padme) and from that great british actor Gary Oldman. For me there's a "moment" in this movie that has stuck. Specifically it's when we realise that Oldman's character (Stansfield) is a proper bad egg. Again this is a fairly early scene (at around 22m) in which we see him pop a pill, in a fantastically theatrical way, and then say "I like these calm little moments before the storm... It reminds me of Beethoven". A perfect picture of insanity (and one he's gone on to use else where, most recently in the "Book of Eli").


Alien (The Director's Cut)7: Alien (1979) & Aliens (1986) - Another franchise now, but this time the first isn't so much better than the second as it is different from the second. Overall, the these two were excellent, but after that, things started to slip down hill. In 1979 nothing had ever been made that was anything like Alien. It's director (Ridley Scott) is often referred to as a "chocolate box" director because he shoots scenes that look like they've come off of the front of a chocolate box. You'll know what I mean if you go and watch some of his other work. Things like, Blade Runner, Black Rain, Thelma & Louise, White Squall, Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down, American Gangster and most recently Robin Hood. Some amazing stuff in there and all worthy of my top 100 (for another time).

AliensIt would be easy to say the "moment" is the chest-busting scene (which is of course a defining moment of the film and some might argue of cinema history). Sigourney strutting around in her underwear in the final scenes is also a moment (bearing in mind a was a teenager when I first saw this). The bit that sticks in my head though (besides the chest-buster) is Ian Holm as the android, Ash, going crazy (at about 1hr 18mins through to 1hr 23m). Great work with his head on the table.

Aliens, on the other hand is a different kettle of worms altogether. It's another James Cameron movie who after the success of the first Terminator movie had proven enough to the studios that he was allowed to take on the franchise. He brought it bang up to date, with all the latest gadgets and gizmos that he could and turned it into a little polished gem that sits beautifully alongside Ridley's box of chocolates. The moment here though is Sigourney driving the Loader (at 35m) with the line "Where you want it?". It is just priceless.


Close Encounters of the Third Kind (30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray]6: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - Finally Mr Spielberg shows up. Well in the old list he was in at number 10 with Mr Lucas on both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, but for now he's here at number 6 with some brilliantly told guff about aliens coming back to earth with the answers to lots of unexplained mysteries. The special effects really sell this movie, but the plot, script and fantastic insanity from Richard Dreyfuss in the lead role make it completely unmissable. It's a great all round package and Mr Spielberg presses all the right emotional buttons throughout. It might be Sci-Fi, but it's really intelligent Sci-Fi which makes it accessible to a much wider audience. A tough one for the best scene, because I love them rolling the globe out of the county supervisor's office (at 45m) - "Thats a 25 hundred dollar globe! What are you guys doing?" or Brad's train wreck (at 15 mins) "Quickly Brad, there are thousands's of live's at stake. Brad, Any answer." - genius. But my scene of choice has to be where that impossible bass note blows out the windows (at 1hr 53m 50s) of the monitoring station on top of Devils Rock. Spine tingling-ly good fun.


The Dam Busters5: The Dam Busters (1955) - On a Sunday afternoon when it's raining, there's nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a mug of warm tea, a plate full of biscuits and an old war film. When I do that, this is the one I choose most often. I love it because it's two films for the price of one almost. The first half is all about Barnes Wallis' attempts at solving the engineering problems around the bouncing bomb and delivering payloads to the bottom of dam walls. The second half is all about the mission of the 617 Squadron led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson attacking the dams in question. The whole piece is just a beautiful mix of wartime melodrama and action that I wish there were more of. There's a bunch of scene's I particularly enjoy here. The marbles (at 2mins), the bombing of the model dam (at 10m 50s), the letter to the MoD about the chickens (at 54m 20s) "the stupid young men...my hens lay premature eggs... a serious loss to both me and the country", but the winner (just because it give the censors such a hard time, tying themselves in knots to be politically correct) has to be the scenes with Commander Gibson's dog who's name changes depending on which version of the film you're watching (around about 1hr and 9minutes). I have the original, but I'm no racist.


All the President's Men4: All the President's Men (1976) - A political thriller now. This tells the story of Watergate from the perspective of the two Washington Post journalists that uncovered it (Woodward and Bernstein). Directed by Alan J. Pakula (who passed away in 1998), I can't really explain what it is about this film that keeps bringing me back to it. Perhaps because it's a true story, or perhaps it's the work of Mr Hoffman and Mr Redford who's chemistry makes them a believable pair and turns it into a buddy movie. Redford's work with the un-named source "Deep Throat" and the flag-in-the-flower pot are great fun secret-spy devices. The way the conversations overlap with actors talking over each other, and the intercut "actual" news footage, just makes it feel more real. It's just great 70's paranoia and thinking about it now makes me want to go and watch it again. Just wish I knew why. My scene selection is the Library of Congress (from 28m 27s). It's a huge round room and the camera is hoisted from desk level all the way up to the ceiling. A great shot that just sticks in my head.


Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)3: Jaws (1975) - Another visit from Mr Spielberg, this time in what most consider to be his breakthrough movie. You can't not love this movie. OK so it's got a few jumps and scares, a bit of blood and gore and it's done nothing for the reputation of the great white shark, but it's a beautifully made piece of cinema. Spielberg hated making it because of all the technical problems with the shark, but the finished work does exactly what it's supposed to. Keeps you entertained and glued to the very end. More good work from Richard Dreyfuss and great stuff from Roy Scheider. However, the show is well and truly stolen by Robert Shaw as Quint.

From his first appearance (19m) "This shark..swallow you whole", he has some of the best lines. (1h 4m) "Here's to swimmin' with bo-legged women", (1hr 6mins) "What are you? Some sort of half assed astronaut?" (1h 7m) "Farewell and ado to you fair spanish ladies, Farewell and ado you ladies of spain, For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston, and so nevermore shall we see you again."... as Chief Brody puts it "Colourful ain't he?".

There's some great shots as well. The chief sat on the beach with that scary zoom (at 16m 35s). The Sunday Roast as bait and the dock being pulled into the water (at 25m 25s).But my favorite scene is Quint's story of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (1h 25m). This piece was re-written by Robert shaw and the result is a stunning and poignant moment.


The Ladykillers (StudioCanal Collection) [Blu-ray]2: The Ladykillers (1955) - More post war melodrama now, but this time it's drowned in comedy from Ealing. Five oddball criminals plan to rob a train, well actually steal a trunk load of money from the station, and to do so, criminal mastermind Professor Marcus (Alec Guinness) enlists the unsuspecting help of a little old lady Mrs Lopsided / Mrs Wilberforce (Katie Johnson). His henchmen in attendance are Claude / the Major (played by Cecil Parker), Harry / Mr Robinson (played by Peter Sellers), Louis / Mr Harvey (Herbert Lom) and One Round / Mr Lawson (played by the enormous Danny Green). There's also appearances from Jack Warner who predictably plays "The Superintendent" at the police station and Frankie Howerd who shows up as a Barrow Boy.

The cast alone are enough to draw you to watch it, but when you factor in the Director it becomes a must see. Alexander Mackendrick also responsible for a bunch of other films that sit comfortably in the high end of my Top 100. Masterpieces like "Whisky Galore!", "The Man in the White Suit" and "The Guns of Navarone" all of which you should see at some point in your movie going lifetime. And so to choose a scene. This rightly gets harder and harder as I work up the list. After all, we're now talking about movies I really love, so choosing the best part becomes nigh on impossible. In this case we've got Parrots (19m15s), Railway trains throughout, thumping pipes (5m23s), fat blokes in small cars and phone boxes (32m56s), dangling from rooftops (1h 7m) and pushing wheel barrows (1h 13m - to name but one). The whole ensemble is heaven on celluloid and the very definition of a perfect Ealing Comedy. To be honest, I'd be better off just randomly sticking a pin in it, but I have made a selection and here it is....

(41m53s) just about halfway through, the job has been done and the villains are about to make their getaway with the loot. "It's stuck in the door". The sight of One Round on his hands and knees in his Cello case looking up at Mrs Lopsided.... Seriously, if you haven't seen this movie, go and watch it now!


The Big Lebowski1: The Big Lebowski (1998) - Without a shadow of doubt my all time number one... I loved it from the second time I saw it, and once you realise it's meaning, you probably will to. All of the Coen brothers works are in my top 100, but this quirky piece with a plot that twists and turns like a twisty turney thing (and you can call me Susan if it isn't so) is one of the most beautifully written and performed works of all time. It's a cult movie in the truest sense. Lots of people are "aware" of it, but a far more select group "get it". I know the Coen brother's don't know how they did that, but if they could bottle it and do it again they'd be millionaires. Choosing a single favourite scene from this movie for me, is impossible. I just can't do it. Every one is brilliant in it's own way. If I'm pushed, and I mean seriously pushed, I might go for the scene in the back of the limo (from 47m) where "certain things have come to light", but then I could just as easily go for "Enjoying my coffee" (at around 52m) or "Calmer than you" (at 19m) or "He thinks the carpet pissers did this?" (23m53s) or "Leads!?" (54m45s) or "Donny was a good bowler, and a good man" (1h42m28s). The list is quite literally endless because every line is a winner. I could go on forever about the plot, the meaning, the cast, the art direction... but I won't. I will mention it's place in culture though. Its become so much more than just a film now.....

It's a Festival, which I am definetly going to attend if it ever makes it back to the UK, or if I happy to be in the US. You can read all about that here: http://www.lebowskifest.com/ and follow them on twitter.

It's a documentary...



The Achievers

It's a book or two.....

The Year's Work in Lebowski Studies

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have You
The Big Lebowski (BFI Film Classics) The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers

It's spawned a bazzillion websites....
including a random quote generator: http://thugbot.net/lebowski/, a Shakespearian version http://www.runleiarun.com/lebowski/, the Dude's house: http://www.thedudeshouse.com/....

and it's even a religion. Dudeism. Who'd have though it? http://dudeism.com/

This leads me to the only sane conclusion. The best scene starts at 0h0m0s and ends at around 1hr52m24s. Just go and watch it, and then watch it again to figure out what you missed the first time round.

As this is my number one, here's the trailer, but don't expect to understand the movie from it... it's here just for completeness...





There you have it then. If you haven't seen any of them, get out and see them.

Ahh, yes, now you're probably wondering about the "Porn Code" that I alluded to in the title today. Well, one of the funniest things I've stumbled upon in ages has to be the fallout from this little twitter conversation as re-printed on Gizmodo yesterday.....

So busy today!!! Working on site stuff and coding...all while booking work in LA the next two months! Work is crazy busy...but that's GOOD (jelenajensen)

@jelenajensen you code? html/css/js/php? woah? (GE3King)

@GE3King Yup...been running my site 100% on my own for 5 1/2 years now and I'm running other girls' sites now as well! I'm a nerd! (jelenajensen)

Jelena Jensen is apparently a centerfold sensation during the day and a hardcore programmer at night, or that could well be the otherway around.. not sure, but that's not what tickled me. The real belter came from the first posted comment under the Gizmodo story....


Classic Stuff. Have a great Friday and a movie weekend. Why not!!?
 

Where is Golfyball?

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