Oscars Fortnight Day 7: Dances with Wolves

Dances with Wolves (1990)

The 63rd Academy Awards (1991)
Wins: 7

One of the my favorite aspects of doing these Oscar retrospectives is looking back and trying to see why a particular film resonated with audiences (or at least the Academy) in its time. Why were people so into Dances with Wolves? And why did the Academy give Kevin Costner’s overbearing western epic the top prize when there was another painfully obvious choice. I’m of course referring to Goodfellas, which I would argue is among the most celebrated and quoted crime films of all time. Meanwhile, I’m not sure if Dances with Wolves would even crack a top thirty of the greatest westerns of all time.

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Criterion Month Day 13: Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingos (1972)

After I watched John Frankenheimer’s Seconds for my last review, I really wanted to write something. After I watched Pink Flamingos, I wanted to film something. NOT like anything in this film. Oh god no! What appealed to me wasn’t the shit eating or the singing asshole, but the camaraderie between John Waters and his cast, lovingly referred to as the “Dreamlanders”.

Early John Waters’ films remind me of when I was high school making films. Again, I want to reiterate we did NOT make films like this. But there’s a kind of “on-the-fly” to John Waters’ early work. As if he and all his Dreamlanders didn’t necessarily know what it was to make an actual film, they just shot what they thought was funny, or filthy. And even after fifty years, Pink Flamingos still feels fun and still feels filthy.

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Criterion Month Day 3: Dos monjes

Dos monjes (1934)

“Dos monjes” (Two Monks)
(Sung to the tune of “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors)

One, Two Monks is a movie
from Juan Bustillo Oro
Two Monks, who really hate each other
In a drama from Mexico now
One thinks the other stole his lady
Many years before now
The other said I think you’re crazy
But he got beat with a cross, now

This film has German Expressionism
That’s what I said now
Dutch angles and lots of symbolism
How ’bout that now
Two Monks is a split narrative movie
How ’bout that now
In flashbacks, we see both sides the story
Like Rashomon, now

Who is wrong? Who is right?
The woman they loved got shot one night
She was just trying to break up their fight
But I know what a Monk and lover ought to be
I know what a Monk and lover ought to be

(Scat Interlude)

3 1/2 Stars.

Oscars Fortnight Day 12: Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

The 77th Academy Awards (2005)
Nominations: 7
Wins: 4

The 2000s was when I became an Oscar fan. Yeah, I know, the Oscars suck. Most of the time it’s just a bunch of Hollywood Elites patting themselves on the back and awarding the best run campaigns (not movies). But it’s also a celebration of movies. Those are like my favorite thing. So much so that in 2006 I watched every Best Picture Nominee. This is a tradition I have carried on every year since then. I still haven’t seen every nominee between 2000 and 2004 but I’m getting there. What’s odd is that it took me this long to watch Million Dollar Baby. The last Best Picture Winner of the 2000s I hadn’t seen.

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Shocktober Day 7: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

Air Date: October 29th, 1976

I think I only picked this special because it was mentioned in an episode of Family Guy. It was that episode where Peter and Lois went to Kisstock. They run into Dave and Dotty the nudists and Peter and Dave face off in a Kiss trivia battle. Hey, why am I explaining the scene when I can just post it right here?

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Greatness Getting Greater?

I know there are more pressing things going on than Rolling Stone’s new edition of the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time being released last week, while things are also on the verge of getting a whole lot spookier on this blog. Still, I feel compelled to share some thoughts on this new edition of the RS 500 list, since this new list is quite an overhaul of the original one that was published in 2003 (there was also a slight update to the list in 2012). I’m not sure that Rolling Stone necessarily needed to publish an updated version, since it’s already become apparent that contemporary tastes in “great albums” have changed considerably since the 2003 list came out, whether or not there was a list to confirm it. But I’m glad they did, as the new list both preserves what was good about the original 500 while also adding plenty more albums that feel much more applicable to today’s music landscape. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 29: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is another Criterion Month film that proves that sometimes it’s best to go into these types of movies knowing as little possible. While I was well aware that the film was critically acclaimed upon its release — most prominently by A.O. Scott and the Cannes Film Festival — I was less aware of why it was acclaimed. Considering it was a movie about abortion during the final days of communism’s grip over Eastern Europe, I was expecting it to be fairly grim and harrowing. Though I would say it is those things to an extent, I wasn’t expecting it to also be thrilling and genuinely suspenseful in a way that ended Criterion Month on an exciting note for me, rather than on a sad whimper. Continue reading