Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Greatest Movie Character of 1990-1999 004: Round 1, Heat 3

Vote. It's Easy.

Up and to the right. Up and to the right. Up and to the right.
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Mia Wallace Division:  Heat 2 Results
"The" Jesus Quntana 29, Jesus Shuttleworth 14

The Terminator 39, Bernie LaPlante 8


Annie Wilkes 24, Mona Lisa Vito 22

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup 25, Jack Skellington 23

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AND NOW

Clarice Starling Division - Round 1, Heat 3

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Jules Winfield, Pulp Fiction

Well this is change - I have the top seed with Jules from Pulp Fiction. Granted, Red is no push-over, but a mild-mannered Morgan Freeman versus Samuel L. Jackson's defining role? The edge has to go with Jules.

I'm going to make an assumption here: no matter who you are, you are at least familiar with Pulp Fiction. It can be argued it was THE movie of the 90's. Even if you haven't seen the movie, you know some key moments -- Marcellus Wallace about to go medieval; The Wolf fixing the problem of the dead... guy... in the back seat; what will happen to every motherfucking last one of ya if any of you fucking pricks move; and just about everything that came out of Jules Winnfield's mouth. He quotes bible verse when bringing retribution, he is amused by the names for hamburgers in France's McDonald's, he enjoys a Big Kahuna Burger, you know which wallet is his, and he is more than capable of breaking your concentration.

Jules, like so many great characters is not only complex, but grows as we watch him. Our first real experience with him is discussing the eroticism of foot massages, immediately followed by him becoming the baddest motherfucker you've ever seen blowing away a group of minor-league thieves. The pontification that comes from him prior to the massacre is some of the most casually intimidating bad-assery ever captured on film. Then to cap it off, he dodges bullets without moving. This moment causes a spiritual awakening in the most feared hit man in Los Angeles. As the day progresses, we see that he is more than a cold-blooded assassin. He knows who his friends are, and when to contain his fury. Jimmie epically chews him out for bringing the car to his house, and Jules knows he deserves it, and takes it, when he could just tell Jimmie to sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. He debates the merits of pork with his partner. He knows what the Wolf says goes without question. By the end, he's not only realized that he has had the meaning of his favorite quote turned around this entire time, but that he could still be the biggest bad-ass motherfucker you know while helping people, instead of limiting himself to crime. His juxtaposition with the nearly as erudite, yet blank-faced Vincent drives home the depth of possibly the most iconic characters of the 90's.


- Astin


Red
, The Shawshank Redemption

Best film character? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means. I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up term. A hit man’s word, sonny. Young fellas like yourself can wear a black suit and a tie and kill some folks, and think you have a job. So now you come in and quote at me. Bible? You can save it, sonny. Old difference between you and me is I'm sitting below you. And you know it.

What do you really want to know? Am I sorry that the heart and soul of one of the decade's best movies went in the sixteenth round? The very last pick? There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I gotta face your silly jerri curled ass. Because you think I should. I look back on the way I was picked. Four young, stupid kids who couldn't see true quality until the very end. I want to talk to them. I want to try to talk some sense to them. Tell them the way things are. But I can’t. The draft's long gone and this old man’s all that’s left. Do you know my buddy Andy went first pick?  First? I got to live with that. Best film character?  Best? That’s just a bullshit word. So you go on and walk the earth, and let the people vote in the poll, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because, to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.

- Julius_Goat

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Dignan, Bottle Rocket

Back in 1994, Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson were making their first film. From the Jacques-Cousteau caps to the red jumpsuits to the retro casio keyboard music, all of Anderson's movies make audio and visual references to his childhood, which took place in America in the late 80s. Anderson is known for his careful storyboarding of scripts, so it's no accident that his films look like something else that would be familiar to a child of the 80s: comic books.

In his first film, Anderson had not yet completely developed his unique visual aesthetic, but his desire to capture things from his childhood was obvious. The film opens with Dignan (Owen Wilson) "rescuing" his friend Anthony (Luke Wilson) from a voluntary mental hospital. Anthony: Ah, whew. Well, see my friend Dignan didn’t realize that this was a voluntary hospital, and he got this whole escape thing worked out. And he just got so excited about the thing, I didn’t have the heart to tell him “no”…that uh…Look how excited he is. I gotta do it this way, Dr. Nichols. I gotta climb out. It’s only one floor down.

Throughout the movie, Anderson shows us a twenty-something boy who is struggling to adapt to the world of adult responsibility. Dignan refuses to give up on his childhood dreams, and you get the feeling that he was once reigned his neighborhood as king of fort-building and the game of cops and robbers. Here is a guy with grand plans, a guy whose meager landscaping job is only cover for his budding career as a master thief.

Growing up in the 80s in suburban America taught us how to be ambitious. Everybody wanted to grow up to be president, and if that wasn't your thing, then you wanted to be a professional athlete, a doctor, or a lawyer. As we grew up, these ambitions died or changed into something more pragmatic, and we lost sight of our childhood dreams.

Dignan didn't. Stuck in a suburb filled with characters who represent a life without passion, Dignan lives his dream of orchestrating a great robbery, even if that robbery takes place at "Hinckley Cold Storage." Dignan is the dreamer, the idealist, someone who follows his ridiculous dream despite the many pragmatic reasons that indicate he shouldn't.

Because he follows his passion and attempts to realize his dream, Dignan ends up in prison. But in the final  scene, Dignan mocks himself for his failed ambition, suggesting that a passionate life ending in a jail sentence is better than a comfortable existence without dreams. Better to burn out than to fade away.

Dignan: Pause. Uh, we did it though, didn’t we?

Anthony: Yeah. All laugh. Yeah we did it all right.

Scene cuts to jail entrance. Anthony and Bob are walking with Dignan in a prison line. A fence separates Dignan and the prisoners from Anthony and Bob.

Dignan: Well, thank you for coming.

Anthony: It’s good seeing you.

Dignan: Looking around. Did you bring that grappling hook?

Bob: Grappling hook?

Dignan: Don’t worry about it. I think I may have found a way out of here.

Anthony: You’re kidding

Dignan: No, I’m not.

Anthony: How?

Dignan: Shhh! Wait for my instructions. When we go through the next gate, you will have 30 seconds to take out the tower guard.

Anthony: What?

Dignan: 30 seconds. Have the car running at the North West checkpoint. Bob and I are going to scale the barricade.

Bob: No, we’re not.

Dignan: And then we’re going to cut through to no man’s land, and Bob, remember, shield me from the  bullets. They won’t shoot civilians. Are you ready?

Bob: Hold on, man.

Anthony: Wait a second, Dignan.

Dignan: Let’s go! Let’s go! Now! Now! Now! Changes tone to playful. Isn’t funny how you used to be in the nuthouse and now I’m in jail.

They all laugh. Dignan walks away into the distance.

Besides the movie's sophisticated intellectual message, Dignan is one of the funniest, most quotable movie characters of all time.

***

Anthony: Maybe we should've robbed your house. You ever think of that?

Dignan: You know there's nothing to steal from my mom and Craig!

***

Bob: Wha - why is there tape on your nose?

Dignan: Exactly!

***

Dignan: Why are you here right now? You're always at lunch at this time!

Workers: Not always.

Dignan: Yes! Always!

***

Kumar: Man, I blew it. I blew it, man.

Anthony: Kumar, what were you doing in the freezer?

Kumar: I don't know, man, I lose my touch, man.

Dignan: Did you ever have a touch to lose, man?

***

Dignan was the first in a series of Anderson's unique characters that resonate long after the movie has ended. Without Dignan, we wouldn't have been able to fly kites with Max Fischer, roam the seas with Steve Zissou, or ride go-carts with Royal Tanenbaum. The existentialists insist that a life without passion isn't worth living, and Dignan is the prototype of the passionate-yet-misguided hero who is doomed to failure, but makes the lives of those surrounding him more exciting and fulfilling. Living with passion, on the edge, trying to achieve a goal that is seemingly impossible -- these are the characters that make for great heroes:

Dignan: Here are just a few of the key ingredients: dynamite, pole vaulting, laughing gas, choppers - can you see how incredible this is going to be? - hang gliding, come on!

So, come on! Listen to the voice of your inner dreamer and vote for Dignan.

PS. Derek Vinyard is a Nazi.

-HDouble



Derek Vinyard, American History X

Obviously, this isn't about likability. This may be (at least before the rather unbelievable turnaround) one of the five most despicable people in the tourney. But character?  One of the most fascinating.

So come on, Dignan. Put your mouth on the curb.

- Julius_Goat



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Little Bill Daggett, Unforgiven

This was an odd pick for me.  Unforgiven is one of my favorite movies (and Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite actors), but I picked Little Bill over William Munny deliberately because Gene Hackman puts on such a fabulous performance really showing the depth of this character.  Which turns out is pretty shallow. 

Little Bill is a lawman who proactively dispenses justice by force.  His strategy is to beat down anyone who doesn't follow his rule.  NO FIREARMS within city limits, and don't dare jaywalk either because Little Bill has a propensity for violence when deterring, well, violence.  His methods are beautiful, and if he even thinks that you're a bad guy, before doing anything to prove your criminality, you're getting a beat down.  It's also coming in front of as many people as possible because he wants to prove a point.

An ill-tempered man, "maybe you should hang the carpenter" may just be the line that gets you killed.  However he does show restraint against the weak and stupid.  He also shows zero hesitation or regret when meeting his own demise.

Little Bill is a man's man, living the way he does among the harsh western life where anyone can turn criminal in a blink of an eye.  He controls his town, and as harsh as his methods are, the town accepts it to ensure their safety from outsiders.

Duck I says!

-Riggstad

Truman Burbank, The Truman Show

my teacher was a television
taught me how to talk and who to be
everything's an exhibition
everyone just acts like they're on tv

everyone is always pretending
acting like our lives are scripted
everyone wants a happy ending
paranoia conspiracy

today the spotlight hit me
voices on the radio 
maybe i'm just going crazy
but I swear there's something I don't know

everyone is looking for money
their smiles look almost real
whatever makes you happy
but this lifestyle's not for me

and now I'm stuck in this movie
all money and product placement
who am I supposed to be
when something's not right you taste it

had enough of all of it
so I sit here in my basement
savor this isolation 
find my way to my reality

why don't you all find your own way
I'm done playing the fool
make your own entertainment
I'm going and never coming back

In case I don't see you
good afternoon good evening and good night

-HDouble

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William Wallace, Braveheart

Here is my first round write up for Braveheart as I see it...  It doesn't need much...

He's a bad ass who takes revenge on the death of his wife and then fights the good fight rallying an entire people to gain freedom.

He does it without regret or hesitation willing to do it by himself.  He truly is a leader by example.

Jules (from Pulp Fiction) stole his wallet.

Deal with it...


-Riggstad



Dirk Diggler, Boogie Nights

Your choice is pretty clear. You can go with the guy with the face makeup and the kilt, or you can go with the guy who can't wear a kilt without breaking most indecency laws.  Poor Braveheart, he felt so inadequate he had them take out a few feet of intestine to try to compensate.

Dirk Diggler is a major star.  William Wallace? Hell, even Rob Roy managed to get a drink named after him.

- Julius_Goat

Friday, July 1, 2011

JU-LIED

See what I did there? July? Ju-lied? I am so great!

It's my birthday month! Are you all excited? Ready to shower me with praise and adoration? I am gearing up for daily parties and international cake eating. I'm looking at you, Toronto.

So yeah...here I am again. Listen. LIS-TEN! THINGS HAPPEN! Though not to me, apparently. I am somehow always watching movies. Stop staring. It's rude. Anyhoo...so I sorta kinda saw a bunch of movies! Want to hear about them?

Super 8

Okay, this one is kind of a funny story. Through no fault of its own, I thought Super 8 was going to be about superheroes and super powers -- I take that back, I thought that because of the NAME, so it's totally the movie's own fault! Anyway, I decided that since I was actually going OUT to the movies, I should do it properly. So I paid TWENTY dollars to see this flick in the IMAX theater. By the end, I. was. PISSED! In retrospect, this movie was fine for what it was, think more ET than Batman. The guy from Friday Night Lights is quite good as the worried, stern dad and the heavy child-actor cast did not make me want to vomit. That sister of the little blond girl might just be better than the blond girl herself. HOWEVER, at the time...I was maaaad that I had wasted $20 when there weren't even that many special effects scenes. I could have seen this movie three months from now, on my flatscreen and been perfectly happy. So, in protest, I walked across the movie theater hall to see...

X-Men: First Class

Now, I was almost super mad at this movie too, because it starts off very cerebrally without much stuff flying around. But it turns around about forty minutes in and becomes a fairly kick ass, ass kicking movie. I'm not a comic geek, so I don't have much to say about adherence to the real origin stories, but I did love the first two X-men movies and this was a GREAT prequel. I also highly dug the cameos from Wolverine and John Stamos' ex-wife! Two thumbs up. However, this still meant that I had paid $10 for Super 8. I found that distateful, so I went to see my boyfriend in my head, Ryan Reynolds, in...

Green Lantern: 3D

Sneaking into a 3D movie is not without its challenges. Needless to say, I overcame them...happily I LOVED this movie! I thought the 3D parts actually made sense (unlike most totally unnecessary 3D fare.) I liked the alien spaceship guy and of course, Ryan Reynolds was practically perfect in every way. Heck, I didn't even hate Serena from Gossip Girl, even though she was throwing herself at my boyfriend - how embarrasing for her. I liked the storyline. The mad scientist part was kinda sad, he just wanted a little love, was that so wrong... but I don't really see how they do a sequel. A TV show maybe...or like a live action play that Ryan Reynolds will perform in my house every day...*whistles*

Pirates of the Caribbean 4

Okay, now I felt completely justified seeing this movie for free because the last Pirates of the Carribean was just SO bloody awful and I felt the franchise owed me. This movie was not horrible, in fact, I rather enjoyed some parts of it...though, holy crap it was long! And for the life of me, I cannot remember what happens to the mermaid or that christian man... anyway, it was fine. Of course, I had now spent something like 12 hours staring at giant movie screens. I was starving, dehydrated and had a severe headache. So, I went home and watched...

Mao's Last Dancer

The trailer for this movie made it seem more arty than it actually was. It told a surprisingly linear story of a Chinese dancer who was reluctantly loaned out by the communist regime to spend a summer dancing with a texas troupe. It then disappointingly gets very formulaic with him falling in love and marrying the first american girl to smile at him. He clashes with his government about going back blah blah blah. There weren't even any horrible consequences. Also, I'm pretty sure he wasn't actually Mao's last dancer. Lame.

The Hit List

Man, once again, Cuba Gooding Jr. sucks me in with a delightful premise of a man, who is down on his luck and having the worst day of all time, running into a disillusioned hitman who promises to eliminate the guy's enemies for him. The guy doesn't take it seriously and writes down five names. But when they start dying off...dun dun dun. Awesome, right? Wrong! Cuba Gooding juniors all over it and all that's left is a sucktacular mess!

The Good German

It took about seven hours to see this movie one Sunday. I put it in, fell asleep twenty minutes through. I woke up, started it over, fell asleep 24 minutes in. Decided not to start over, fell asleep twenty minutes after that. And so on, till I was well rested and had sorta pieced together that Cate Blanchett was some kind of race traitor in this horrible knock off of Casablanca. And I think George Clooney was in it...but that might just have been an awesome dream.

Shallow Grave

Alceste not only *recommended* this flick to me; he loaned it to me because he OWNS it. O_o Yeah, I have to fight him now. With fists. This piece of crap is a so-called morality tale about four friends who take in a boarder. The man dies and they discover he was hiding a suitcase of money. Instead of calling the police to collect the body, they devise an elaborately ridiculous scheme to hide the body so they can keep the money. And everything that happens after that moronic decision is, predictably, equally moronic. Ugh. WITH FISTS, ALCESTE!

Another Year

This movie ranks up there with Black Swan and Catfish as one of the best movies I've seen. It's haunting, depressing, cute, touching, funny, depressing...oh, did I say depressing already? Basically, it follows a couple and their friends and family for one year. One character, who believes her whole life will change if she could only get a car, will just about break your heart. Poor thing. Great movie.

Happy-Go-Lucky

I gave Another Year so many stars that Netflix felt that I would definitely totally love this movie about a happy go lucky woman who has to learn to drive after her bike is stolen. I must now fight Netflix with my fists. Bleeecchhh.

School of Life
stars Ryan Reynolds as a teacher with some kind of terminal blood disease that inspires him to approach teaching his middle schoolers with that Robin Williams "seize the day" spirit. This upsets the conservative headmaster's son teacher and he sets out to destroy Ryan and his life seizing ways...until he learns the tragic truth. You'll laugh, you'll cry...no, actually you won't do any of those things. This movie is bad. On the plus side, you do get to watch Ryan Reynolds.

A summer in Genoa

The previews for this movie about a mom who dies, leaving behind her husband and young daughters, intrigued me. It wasn't clear where they were going with it. Does the mom's ghost come back or does the family just move to Italy and start over. After seeing the movie I'm still not sure. Blah. It did make me want to go to Italy though!

Inside Job

A documentary about the 2008 financial meltdown. Like all good documentaries to raises up the hackles and angries up the blood! I want prison sentences and I need the President to explain to me why these people are still working in his administration as financial advisors?! I demand answers! But then the movie ended and I forgot. But now I remember again! ANSWERS!

Get Low

Yet another movie with an expert trailer. The story of a dude who decides to throw his funeral before he dies so that everyone in the town can tell a story about him, seemed like something I would enjoy. But instead of committing to that premise, the movie changes into a sentimental story about regret and a quest for forgiveness. Boo. I wanted the movie where all the townspeople roast this old dude.

Multiple Sarcasms

One of those "married man has female best friend and then half way through the movie realizes he's been in love with his best friend the whole time and then tells her one drunken night" movies. Those movies can be good, if done properly. This one isn't cause it isn't. Boo. Also, why is Stockard Channing in this? Why?

Double Take

A faux documentary about Alfred Hitchcock having dinner with himself from the future. And about Hitchcock's real life double...it's weird and eery, and it intersperses lots of stuff about the cold war. Honestly, I still don't know what I think about it...the meeting yourself from the future part is fascinating and being a celebrity doppleganger sounds cool...I dunno. It's weird. But short. So there's that.