Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Top 101 Movies Part VI: 50-41

50. Sunset Boulevard 1950
Director: Billy Wilder
Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson
Synopsis: An aging silent film star attempts to re-create her glory days with the help of a struggling young screenwriter.
Review: Swanson is exquisitely creepy as the delusional and reclusive Norma Desmond who is convinced that her star will rise once more. Her life is as much a wreck as the dilapidated mansion she lives in, but she blinds herself to all of this and becomes a walking parody of fame and fortune. Like Joe Gillis (Holden), we are drawn in to her bizarre world, and though the dangers of remaining in her dreamscape are obvious, we find it impossible to leave through a paradoxical combination of pity and disgust. It's sharply written with many memorable lines, well-acted all around, and deals with interesting issues that Hollywood tends to avoid. Fun fact: Swanson was herself a silent film star who didn't quite make the transition to talkies.

49. The Matrix 1999
Directors: Andy Wachowski, Dana Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
Synopsis: A hacker discovers the world in which we live is a computer program and embarks on an epic quest to save humanity.
Review: Although the sequels leave something to be desired, the original film is as good as it has been influential on the action movie genre and popular culture. Reeves may not be the premier actor of our generation, but that's more than made up for by incredibly intense action sequences coupled with graceful choreography, and smart writing dealing with heady concepts that up until this film, was almost entirely absent from action movies. In addition there's great special effects, interesting use of colour (you may notice this film has a distinctly 'green' feel to it), a cool cyberpunk theme, and badass characters (Morpheus and Agent Smith spring to mind). Fun fact: This movie was in part inspired by the Ghost in the Shell movie.

48. Do the Right Thing 1989
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello
Synopsis: Tempers flare in a New York City ghetto on the hottest day of the year.
Review: When it was first released, some commentators feared that this film would incite race riots, which of course never happened, because this movie isn't a call to arms, but an honest representation of and commentary on racial tensions after the civil rights movement. Figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X still loom large, but their philosophies have been boiled down to Love and Hate. There may not be colored fountains anymore, but things are far from equal. Sal may have a pizzeria in a black neighbourhood, catering almost exclusively to black customers, but beneath the surface the seed of racism still grows. It begins as a comedy, but as the plot rolls forward towards the dramatic climax the tension heats up to a breaking point and you know somebody has to pay the price. There are no easy answers provided with this movie, and Spike Lee doesn't fall into the trap of portraying his black characters exclusively as victims, nor the whites as oppressors. It's an incredible and vitally important film that should not be missed. Fun fact: Barack Obama went to see this movie on his first date with his now wife, Michelle.

47. Annie Hall 1977
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Synopsis: A neurotic New Yorker falls for the captivating titular character.
Review: Most people call this a romantic comedy, but I call it Woody Allen being hilarious. Although Alvie's (Allen) relationship with Annie Hall (Keaton) forms the emotional core of the film and is quite a nice story, the parts that stick out the most are all the clever one liners and off the wall humour. Allen gets quite inventive with this film that features a brilliant cameo by Marshall McLuhan, a conversation with subtitles showing what characters truly mean by what they say, and a brief animated bit. It's a charming and unpredictable film with solid performances from Allen and Keaton. Fun fact: This movie was originally meant to be a murder mystery until the editor convinced Allen to cut out that aspect of the plot and focus on the romantic relationship.

46. The Battle of Algiers 1966
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
Starring: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin
Synopsis: A terrorist cell and the French army go head to head for control of the city.
Review: A harrowing film if there ever was one, Pontecorvo doesn't water-down his depiction of the brutal conflict, nor does he lend more credence to the cause of one side over the other. Rather, he presents the violence perpetrated by both sides and how it dehumanizes oppressors and oppressed alike. The Algerians bomb soda shops filled with joyful youths and mow down civilians in the street, while the French are relentless and systematic in their methods to quash the rebellion which includes torture. The film has an almost documentary feel to it and records all of these events with a dispassionate eye that further heightens the sense of tension and revulsion. It's a brutally honest depiction of history than rings with more truth than any historical documentary can achieve. Fun fact: Surprise, surprise, the film was banned in France.

45. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969
Director: George Roy Hill
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford
Synopsis: The infamous outlaws of the Wild West try to make money while outrunning the law. Review: Newman and Redford comprise one of the silver screens greatest pairings in this fun-filled western adventure story. You start off thinking that it's going to be a good old fashioned shoot 'em-up western and it delivers, but also gives you what is essentially a buddy comedy. It's a strange mix, but it works perfectly thanks to Newman and Redford's chemistry. And it's got a great musical number and a kick-ass ending to boot. Fun fact: There is some evidence that suggests that the two outlaws killed in the historical Bolivian shoot-out weren't the titular duo at all and that they made it back to the States.

44. Pan's Labyrinth 2006
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez
Synopsis: A young girl gets lost in her own fantasy world in order to escape the sadism of her stepfather.
Review: If nothing else, then this movie is a triumph of imagination. From the basic premise to the fantastic creatures, everything about this film bursts with creativity, and great writing, stunning visuals, and terrific performances (especially that of the young Baquero) are all present to back up the vision. The movie owes a great deal of its success to the way it employs all of these elements to play with polarities, particularly that of reality and fantasy. The real world is one embroiled in war and violence, filled with brutality, but even within this world there is some heart and compassion. Ofelia's fantasy world at first appears to be wondrous and full of beauty, but it is not without it's horrors. By the end the borders between these world's become blurry and the ending leaves much to audience interpretation. It's a magnificent film that simultaneously sets up and breaks down barriers between the real and the unreal, and it looks real purdy. Fun fact: It takes five hours to get into the Pale Man costume (the guy with eyes in his hands).

43. The Sting 1973
Director: George Roy Hill
Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford
Synopsis: Two con men attempt to fleece a banker for all he's worth.
Review: I probably should have spaced this and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid out a bit, but oh well. Once again Newman and Redford pair up with director George Roy Hill to deliver a rollicking good movie with so many twists and turns that will keep you on your toes right to the very end. You never really know who to trust or how much characters actually know, and this air of ambiguity is increased because you never know what the plan is exactly until the final moments of the film. After watching this, it's easy to see where contemporary movies and TV shows like Ocean's 11 took their inspiration. It's a good mix of tension, action, and comedy that make for one of my all time favourite crime films. Fun fact: Robert Redford never saw the movie until 2004.

42. Goodfellas 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro
Synopsis: A couple of gangsters try to earn themselves wealth and power in the mafia.
Review: One of the all-time great gangster flicks which at first glance seems to glorify a life of crime, but upon closer inspection is actually an ironic look at the absurdity of it all. Henry Hill (Liotta) begins by saying that he always wanted to be a gangster, despite his outside status and, as becomes more apparent as the film progresses, the fact that he is clearly not cut out for this line of work. For most of the film he's a nervous wreck and his friends aren't much better. Tommy (Pesci) is a sadistic bastard even by mafia standards who feels that the only way to prove his manhood is through senseless violence, a belief which he pays dearly for. Jimmy Conway (De Niro) who is idolized by Hill as a great gangster, is revealed later to be insanely paranoid. At the end, shit hits the fan for Hill and everything comes crashing down in an appropriately insane way. He gets out by ratting on his former colleagues and enters the witness protection program, but even then he still glorifies the life of a gangster in his head. Scorsese is a brilliant director who gets strong performances from his all-star cast and crafts a violent, and twisted funny film. Fun fact: The word "fuck" is used 296 times in the film, about half of which are spoken by Pesci.

41. Dirty Harry 1971
Director: Don Siegel
Starring: Clint Eastwood
Synopsis: A cop who refuses to play by the rules tries to hunt down a serial killer.
Review: This movie could have ended barely half an hour in after Harry (Eastwood) gives his famous "Are you feeling lucky?" speech, and it still would have made this list, but it goes on for another hour of heart-pumping, intense action with one of the most badass characters ever put on film. The whole point of this movie is to watch Eastwood run around San Francisco, stopping crime in his own fashion. His methods are at once laudable and reprehensible, and he elicits a rather strange sort of sympathy. He's brutal and condescending, but he does everything necessary to get the job done, despite admonishments from higher-ups who'd prefer a more peaceful approach. Harry's motto essentially boils down to "the ends justify the means" which is a point of view that isn't easy to get behind, but damn if Clint doesn't make it seem attractive. Fun fact: 7 characters die in this movie.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Top 101 Movies Part V: 60-51

60. The Maltese Falcon 1941
Director: John Huston
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre
Synopsis: A private eye finds himself embroiled in a deadly race to acquire a valuable statue.
Review: If you're only going to see one film noir, then this should probably be it since it's the posterboy for the whole genre. It follows the exploits of everybody's favourite private dick, Sam Spade (Bogart) as he weaves and smooth talks his way through the seedy underbelly of the city where everybody's a criminal and nobody can be trusted. Like any good mystery, everything is in a muddle at first, but as the plot unfolds things become clear and people become revealed for who they really are. Spade is only marginally better than the people he's working for and/or against, but he has the benefit of being the only one who sees the situation clearly, and realizes at the end that the whole escapade, with all it's greed, violence, and obsession was just a murky dream. Overall it's a cool film with Bogart in one of his most famous roles and all the trappings you expect from a film noir, and it's fun for the whole family!

59. Taxi Driver 1976
Director: Martin Scorcese
Starring: Robert De Niro
Synopsis: A disillusioned Vietnam veteran turned taxi driver decides to take it upon himself to clear the city of filth and decadence.
Review: This is probably one of the more disturbing films on the list, but it's impossible to turn your eyes away from De Niro's incredible performance as Travis Bickle. He's a lot like my favourite character from Watchmen, Rorschach, as they both share a strong sense of right and wrong, a sense of alienation and frustration with the world around them, and the desire to fix it by whatever means necessary. As the film progresses, Bickle's extreme beliefs, and fundamental misunderstanding of the world and people around him, lead him to take actions which turns him into a sick parody of what he's supposedly fighting against. It's an intense and dark descent into the hell that is the city as Travis percieves it, and it's fun for the whole family!

58. O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000
Director: Joel Coen
Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
Synopsis: An escaped convict tries to make it home to his wife with the help of some fellow prisoners.
Review: The Odyssey may be one of the foundational texts for Western literature, but this retelling of it is a helluva lot more fun. First off, this movie is in the same ballpark as American Graffiti for having an amazing soundtrack. In fact, you could almost count it as one of the great modern musicals. Secondly, there's not a weak spot in the whole cast. Even the bit characters play their parts to perfection with John Goodman turning in an especially memorable performance as the Cyclops. Thirdly, the three main characters played by Clooney, Turturro, and Nelson are completely lovable and hilarious. Their antics and adventures form the heart and soul of this film, and watching them interact with one another is a real joy. Fourthly, a fun game you can play while watching this movie is Spot the Film References. So far I've found Wizard of Oz, Bonnie and Clyde, and Cool Hand Luke. And Lastly, it's fun for the whole family!

57. Blade Runner 1982
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer
Synopsis: A cop is brought of retirement to hunt down some rogue replicants (androids).
Review: I think this movie is a shinning example of how science-fiction can deal with complex issues, have multiple levels levels of meaning, and still be an action-packed adventure set in a fantastical universe that just can't quite be done with conventional fiction. It's a movie about robots that's really all about what it means to be human, and it goes about the question in a very thought-provoking way that doesn't come off seeming overly philosophical or pretentious. Props go to the atmosphere and settings which are as gloomy as they are oppressive, and take on a life of their own to not reflect, but set the tone of the film. Although he isn't given very many lines, Hauer steals the show as the leader of the rogue replicants who delivers one of the best monologues I've ever seen. For some reason, Ford hated this movie, but I say it's fun for the whole family!

56. Some Like it Hot 1959
Director: Billy Wilder
Starring: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe
Synopsis: In order to escape the wrath of the mafia, two male musicians join an all girls band.
Review: As you can probably infer from the synopsis, this movie involves crossdressing, which seems to be a prominent theme in comedy. Unlike Tootsie, this one isn't so much about gender relations as it is about the laughs. AFI called this the greatest comedy of all time, and though I wouldn't go so far as to say that, it is indeed quite hilarious. Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon), mostly just stumble their way through their charade and get by on luck alone., which provides a good deal of laughs. But my favourite character is Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown) who plays a wealthy, but stupid man attempting to seduce Jerry. He delivers the immortal final line, "Nobody's perfect," which makes a lot more sense in context, but I am too lazy to explain it to you. It goes without saying, but you can never say it enough, Marilyn Monroe is hot (the way she walks is like Jell-O on sprigs). It's fun for the whole family!

55. Clerks 1994
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Brian O'Halloran, Jeff Anderson
Synopsis: A lazy clerk and his equally slacker best friend just try to get by with the bare minimum effort.
Review: This movie is kinda like Seinfeld in that its not about anything and everybody talks about sex all the time, except for they're way more vulgar about it. It's a pretty easy movie to relate to since its essentially just a day in the life of an average joe, albeit its a very shitty day where nothing seems to go right ("I am not even supposed to be working today," is a line that keeps getting funnier as the movie progresses). I find that Kevin Smith movies tend to follow the same formula and deal with the same themes, so if you're only going to watch one then this is definitely it. It has the most laughs, the best style, and also the best story despite the fact that isn't really one. My favourite part is the conversation the two leads have about giving yourself a blowjob. It's fun for the whole family!

54. The Dark Knight 2008
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart
Synopsis: Batman takes on The Joker.
Review: There's a rather large, shall we say, 'mystique' surrounding this movie due in no small part to Heath Ledger's death, which may have caused the perceived greatness of this film to be blown out of proportion, but I still think it's one of best movies of the past decade which solidifies Nolan's place as one of the premier directors of our generation. Despite the fact that it deals with almost the same material, I find it difficult to compare this film to the original. The tone is much darker and more disturbing (surprising, given that Tim Burton directed the first one). I think the differences and similarities are best represented by The Joker, who is the true star of both films. Nicholson's Joker is far more zany and colourful, while Ledger's is more maniacal and bleak right down to the make-up. Ultimately, I find Ledger's portrayal to be more fascinating, because what I think The Joker most represents really comes through in his performance, and that is pure, unadulterated chaos. This is set up in contrast to Batman's dedication to order, but despite being at opposite ends of the spectrum, they find that they need each other and even have some things in common. In short it's a great action movie that's also layered with deep meaning and social commentary, and it's fun for the whole family!

53. Almost Famous 2000
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Billy Crudup, Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson
Synopsis: An aspiring music journalist follows the trials and tribulations of an up and coming rock band.
Review: With a combination of quality writing, intriguing characters, and a great soundtrack, this movie is a pleasure to watch. Crowe finds a successful balance between drama and comedy, and frequently jumps between the two in the same scene (the climatic airplane scene comes to mind) to make for both a funny and gripping movie. This style reflects the ups and downs of life on the road for a rock band, as well as the ups and downs of growing up. It's partly a coming of age story for William Miller (Fugit), and partly about the spirit of rock 'n' roll as personified by Russell Hammond (Crudup), and those two narratives intertwine seamlessly with Penny Lane (Hudson) forming the emotional center between the two. Overall it's a well-structured and well- paced film with one of my favourite movie quotes, "I am a golden god!" It's fun for the whole family!

52. 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain
Synopsis: A manned space mission is sent to Jupiter to investigate a strange monolith.
Review: You may find this movie difficult to watch at first, and odds are by the end you'll be scratching your head, but give it a chance because I think its worth it. Watch it twice if you have to, like I did to fully appreciate it. What it lacks in action it more than makes up for in meaning and subtext, which may not be everybody's cup of tea, but being a World Lit major, its kinda something I deal with on a daily basis. There's no 'right' interpretation of this film, so don't worry if you might be wrong. Also, this film is one of the most influential works of science-fiction in any medium, and once you see this movie you'll start noticing references and homages to it everywhere, especially references to one of cinema's all time greatest villains, HAL 9000. It's a trippy, mind-bending ride which some people think you need to be high to truly appreciate, but I think the movie stands strong on it's own merits. It's fun for the whole family!

51. The Producers 1968
Director: Mel Brooks
Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder
Synopsis: A washed-up Broadway producer and an accountant discover that one could make more money from a flop than from a hit play.
Review: Just so you know, this is the earlier non-musical version. I am not going to say which is better, but I will say that one is on this list, and the other is not. The plot itself is pretty zany and the characters match accordingly. All of the actors play their parts with such unbridled and gleeful insanity that its impossible not to love. Not a scene goes by where somebody doesn't flip shit. And the madness keeps building and building until it is finally all released in what I maintain is the greatest musical number in cinematic history, Springtime for Hitler. Honestly, if the entire film were just that one scene, it would probably still make the list. But in addition to this we also get such memorable elements as the crossdressing producer, the ex-Nazi pigeon enthusiast scriptwriter, and Max Bialystock's (Mostel) seduction of little old ladies to milk for money. It's fun for the whole family!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Playstation Move

So a couple weeks ago, my good friend Taylor purchased the Playstation Move for the PS3. I am not sure why he did this, but I've learned its best not to question the things Taylor does for reasons I'd rather not specify. Anyway, we (Taylor, Zach, Damian, and I) ended up at my house and played several demos that came with hardware. What follows is not only a review of the Move and its games, but also an account of the many shameful acts that occurred that fateful night.


I can't quite remember the name of the first game we played and was too lazy to do even a cursory scan of the internet to find out, so I am just going to call it Sports. It's exactly what it sounds like, by which I mean its exactly like Wii Sports/Wii Sports Resort except with less sports, and preset racist and/or sexist sterotypes as playable characters instead of player-made bobbleheads. Available sports includes ping pong, swordfighting, archery, bocce ball, disc golf, beach volleyball, and that's it. We started with swordfighting which is probably the most fun and well-designed. Then Damian discovered a move whereby you continuously spank your opponent with the sword and the game was ruined so we moved on. Next up was archery. It took us about 2 minutes to discover that you could shoot each other across the field and spent the remainder of our time trying to get headshots instead of hitting the targets. We then played bocce, but on a shitty map and I wasn't too fond of the controls which were at best random. However, bocce is great for appreciating the great care that was put in to crafting the asses of the female characters. Ping pong was the next sport. Wait that's wrong. No offense to the Chinese, but ping pong isn't a sport. If it is, then so is air hockey. Lastly we played disc golf, which is just like golf but with a frisbee for some reason. I was ridiculously good at this and I have no idea why. I'd just randomly flick my wrist and somehow it would always go exactly where I wanted it. Taylor wouldn't let us play volleyball as according to him, its stupid. So we moved on to the next game.


This is a unique and original game where you stack blocks. They come in numerous rectangular shapes which you layer on top of one another until the tower collapses. In a rather surprising twist, whichever player causes the tower to collapse loses the game. I've never quite seen anything like it. It's so creative and thought-provoking and its reverse Jenga okay. It's Jenga with power-ups and some extra types of blocks. But its also probably the best game we played the whole night. After this, things really went to shit.

Time Crisis

Some of you may recognize this game from the arcade halls of yore. It was one of those games that had plastic laser guns you could point and shoot at the screen. In the arcade it was a fairly fun and decent way to waste your quarters, but on the console where you don't have to pay to keep playing when you die, it loses all meaning. All you have to do is press X when you go down and you come right back to life again without losing any progress. There is literally no tension or strategy. You just shoot at everything on the screen until its dead. I wouldn't have even bothered to use my riot shield if you didn't have to bring it up in order to reload. And the enemies are a complete joke. First you start off fighting terrorists who's preferred method of combat is to charge at you with their guns above their heads and then stand there waiting patiently for you to riddle them with bullets. Somehow a few of the enemies gained access to battle mechs with rocket launchers which actually deal damage to you, but not enough to pose any real threat. We got sick of it after about 15 minutes.


About five seconds after starting up this game, it became apparent that its target audience is ten year-old girls and not twenty year-old males. I regret everything about our playthrough. It begins with this guy in a white lab coat pretending to be a scientist explaining how the Eyepet works. He is extremely condescending and seems to assume that you are completely braindead and are amazed by this insane camera/motion censor technology. He makes you sit on the ground close to the TV and aim the camera at your feet, which makes this game perfect for sedentary people who always wanted to have a dog, but are too lazy to take it for walks. Finally, the Eyepet is summoned forth via a vortex from whatever dimension it is that Cthulu resides. It looks like a cross between a monkey and a dog and I shall henceforth call it a moggey. Taylor played with it a bit because he's lame like that, while I tried inflicting pain upon it, but to no avail. The moggey feels no pain and knows no fear. Then we had to give it a bath and it rolled around playfully on the ground and looked at me with eyes that said, "I will not stop until your manhood is completely destroyed!" Next up was a minigame where you draw an airplane on a magical notepad which then pops into existence for the moggey to fly around on and pop balloons. We achieved the high score with an embarrassing amount of ease and moggey laughed joyfully at how fucking gay we were. But then we began to wonder how strict the game's definition of an airplane was, and if we could turn moggey's own powers against him. We brought up the notepad again, but instead of drawing an airplane we drew a rock-hard erect penis complete with hairy balls, veins, and copious amounts of jizz spewing out the front end, then commanded the game to bring the monstrosity to life. We were delighted to see that it did, and just to put the icing on the cake, the jizz became the propeller. Moggey tried to put on a brave, smiling face as he hopped on the hard-on, but we knew he was dying on the inside. Up he flew into the blue sky amoungst the colourful balloons to the sound of his propeller which took an a whole new meaning given his vehicle. Up, up he soared into the stratosphere, riding that magical dick while he simultaneously descended into insanity with a manic grin on his face. We beat that game. We beat it hard.

TV Superstar

Deciding that we hadn't felt enough shame that night, we ended up playing one last game in the vain hope that maybe it would be good. I don't know why we settled on TV Superstar. Everything about it screamed shovelware but we started it up anyway. The first order of business was creating our avatars which is done by getting close to the camera so it can take a picture of your face. The game then places that image onto an animated body and you can then choose hairstyle, skin tone, etc. Damian went first and was curious as to what he would like if we were a cardboard cutout of a bald, African woman. The answer: abomination. Taylor was next and his avatar reflected his true inner self, by which I mean he came out looking like a creepy rapist with a smile that seemed to say, "I'm a gonna rape ya! I don't care if ur a man, woman, child, or duck. Hurr, hurr, hurr!" At this point, Zach and I realized that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to put ourselves into this already disturbing game, so we abstained and just watched the insanity that ensued. There are two minigames available in the game: fashion catwalk and MXC, except for they gave them way stupider names which would insult the intelligence of even Eyepet's intended audience. Fashion catwalk is essentially a long quicktime event where you follow on-screen prompts to move the controller in a certain direction. Its hosted by a flamboyantly gay stereotype. Damian's avatar was.... I don't even have words to describe it so I'll just move on. Taylor came out dressed as a sassy pirate, making him look even creepier than before which I didn't even think was possible. Thankfully this didn't last long, and we were soon playing the MXC minigame. It was stupid and that's all there is to it. This was followed by a trailer for the full game which did nothing to improve my impression of it. In fact, its even stupider than I originally imagined.

We then turned off the Playstation, unplugged the Move, and looked at our feet, filled with deep shame. Everyone went home quietly without a word. We knew what we had done, and we knew that there was no undoing it. Somehow we'd just have learn to cope with it. I coped with it by talking about it in detail on my blog. Hopefully this will serve as a warning to all of you.

In conclusion: buy a Wii.

Bonus points to whoever can suggest the next best thing to draw in lieu of a penis in Eyepet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Most Annoying Songs Ever

I am not a very musically inclined person, but every now and then there comes along a song so universally terrible that I can't help but be disgusted with them. Here is a list of what I find to be the worst offenders.

Big Booty Bitches - Two black guys in a basement

Once you've listened to the first thirty seconds of this song, you've pretty much heard it all. They just repeat the phrase "big booty bitches" over and over and over and over and over again. At one point they change it up for one or two lines and say "we don't want no skinny bitches," but honestly it just feels out of place. The only people on the planet who truly enjoy this song are the two guys performing it. Actually, is the guy on the left even doing anything? At the start it looks like he's playing the keyboard, but after about five seconds he gives up on that and just jumps around like a kangaroo who just chugged a six-pack of Red Bull for the remainder of the song. I don't even know what to make of the guy on the right. He is a paradox that who's very existence is an affront to rational thought. The only way I can think to describe him is as a black autistic gangster nerd, and that doesn't come close to doing this mythical creature justice. All I know for sure is that when he opens his mouth, my mind breaks down.

Little Drummer Boy - Johnny Cash

Hey kids! This is why you shouldn't record a Christmas album with a killer hangover. This Christmas carol is rendered with such a distinct lack of emotion that I think he was actively trying to convey just how dead he is inside. When Johnny Cash doesn't give a shit, he doesn't give a shit with a passion. The background singers desperately try to brighten the mood, but all it does is accentuate how soul draining this song truly is. When you throw in the drum beat it sounds more like the March of the Damned than a yuletide hymn. The only saving grace of this song is that it's just two and a half minutes long.

Hamsterdance - Some guy who should die

I am not posting a link to this video lest somebody should accidentally click on it. If you really feel the need to hear this travesty again, then you're already dead inside. This is less a song and more that annoying noise your five-year-old cousin makes for ten minutes straight because he thinks pissing the shit out of anyone within earshot is the greatest source of humour known to man. Unfortunately, you can't punch this song in the face to make it shut up. It's got all the hallmarks of a truly terrible song: it's repetitive, it grates on the ears, and it's completely retarded. To this very day, the reason for the popularity of this song remains the greatest mystery for pop culture analysts. But like anything retarded that became popular through the internet, I blame 4chan.

Life - Des'ree

When you listen to this song, pay very close attention to the lyrics. For those of you who aren't masochistic and thus don't want to put yourself through the torture of hearing Des'ree sing, I'll write out the lyrics for the first verse:

Oh. Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh life.
I am afraid of the dark
Especially when I'm in a park
And there's no one else around
Ooo I get the shivers.
I don't want to see a ghost
Its the sight that I fear most
I'd rather have a piece of toast
And watch the evening news
Life. Oh life. Oh Life. Oh Life. Doo doo doo doo.

What the fuck is that and what the hell does it have to do with life? The contents of my sister's diary when she was seven was both more coherent, interesting, and insightful with regards to what life is. You can read through that a hundred times and I don't think you'll ever come close to understanding what the writer was thinking when he came up with that. I don't think this song could possibly be written any worse. This seriously wouldn't even pass as a nursery rhyme. Imagine as though you were reading this to a young child, and then at the end you said, "And that's the meaning to life." That child would then have to be forcefully removed from your care for how badly you just mindfucked him. This song was made people! They produced a music video for it! People probably bought that album! What the hell is wrong with us?!

One Time - Justin Bieber

Hating on Justin Bieber seems to be the in thing right now second only to hating on hipsters, so I guess I'll jump on the bandwagon and rant about how horrible he is. Unfortunately I've only heard this one song of his, and I can't bring myself to listen to more than thirty seconds of it before I destroy my headphones. You're probably thinking, "Wait a minute. Unfortunate you say? I'd say your pretty damn lucky." Well to you I say, thirty seconds is exactly thirty seconds too many. In the music video, the problems begin before the music even starts. First off, that XBox controller clearly isn't even on. Secondly, since when was Usher a member of NAMBLA? Then he starts saying "eh" a whole bunch of times (cuz he's Candian I guess. God it pains me to admit that) while making an upside-down peace sign (is that gangster?), and invites some prostitots on bikes to his party. And that's as far as I can get. Just thinking about it makes me die inside. Writing this is literally killing me. That's it. I can't go on. Let's move on to the next one. It can't possibly be any worse.

Oh Johnny

And oh, how wrong I was. I am assuming that at some point in our lives, all of us were forced by our sadistic gym teachers to square dance to this godawful song. And I am also assuming that each and everyone of you knows the lyrics by heart and will never forget them as long as you live. When you're on your deathbed, your mind riddled with dementia, you'll have forgotten the name of your first born child, and this song will be running through your mind over and over again until you beg the doctor to euthanize you and end the pain. If you have somehow managed to evade this grim fate, maybe you went to high school in a kinder, less cruel world, then consider yourself lucky. I can only take comfort in the fact that I believe there is a hidden meaning behind this song. Specifically that its about a kick-ass orgy involving four guys named Johnny and four other chicks. Think about it: the refrain is clearly a woman screaming out the name of her lover in orgasm (Oh! Johnny! Oh Johnny! Ohhhhhhhhhh!!!!), swing that little gal behind you, do-si-do your own, and what exactly does it mean to "allemand left" with somebody? I can just imagine how that conversation went down when they wrote this song:

Johnny 1: Oh man! That was a sweet sex party last night with the Andrews sisters.

Johnny 2: Dude it was totally epic! It needs to be recorded in song, so for generations to come everybody will know how great we are!

Johnny 3: That is the best idea ever! But we can't make it to obvious what we're talking about, you know? Otherwise we'll get an angry mob with pitchforks and torches on our doorsteps.

Johnny 4: I know! We'll make it a dance hall number. Everybody will think its just a good wholesome song about nothing in particular.

Johnny 1: Brilliant!

Johnny 3: And it shall only be performed by adolescents and seniors for maximum possible irony.

Johnny 2: We are gods!

Alternatively, Johnny could also be a euphemism for penis.

If you guys can think of any songs that you think or just as or more annoying than the songs discussed here, then link that shit up in the comments section and earn yourself some bonus points!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Top 101 Movies Part IV: 70-61

70. Forrest Gump 1994
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinese
Synopsis: An unintelligent man stumbles his way through life and important historical events all while trying to win over his beloved, Jenny.
Review: A lot of critics really don't like this film for being too sentimental, and you'd think I'd see things in the same light, but for some reason I don't. Much of my opinion is owed to Tom Hanks performance which is undeniably impressive. Some people don't like how as a character, Gump never really develops, but I think that's the whole point. As the film takes us through his life, the world is always changing around him, but he remains constant. He is an objective lens through which the History of America is seen, and this History is the true star of the show, yet though Forrest it retains the human element which you lose when you're watching a straight documentary. However you choose to look at it, this is at the very least an interesting film with great performances, and in my opinion is a pleasure to watch.

69. Back to the Future 1985
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd
Synopsis: Marty McFly is sent back in time where he must help his parents get together, confront Biff and his cronies, save Doc Brown, and get back to his own time.
Review: Whenever you see time travel in a movie or TV show, it always raises a bunch of paradoxes and logical gaps, but if you do it right then your audience will forget all about that. Back to the Future is one of these movies. With all the crazy stuff Marty Mcfly (Fox) gets up to, like fending off his mother's advances, outwitting Biff, and performing Chuck Berry, its easy to forget that this is supposed to be a sci-fi movie. If anything its about the clash of generations as Marty takes his 80's sensibilities and tries to apply it to the 50's. The results are pretty funny and entertaining to watch. And I can't not mention Doc Brown (Lloyd) who steals the show with his over the top performance and is easily the most iconic character from the movie.

68. Waltz With Bashir 2008
Director: Ari Folman
Starring: Ari Folman
Synopsis: An Israeli film director attempts to reconstruct his memory of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon in this animated documentary-drama.
Review: Not only does this movie tell a compelling, harrowing, and chilling story, but it does so with a very distinct and unique look and feel that no other film has done. The mix of animation with documentary creates a surreal atmosphere which supplements and reinforces the themes of the film such as recovering lost memories, dreams, and the horrors of war. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very complicated issue with no easy answers or clear morality and Folman is aware of and reflects this problem in his film where the final resolution is murky at best, and the main question that he sets out to answer remains unsolved at the end. Its a beautiful and brilliant film that resonates strongly today, and I fear will continue to resonate long into the future.

67. A Christmas Story 1983
Director: Bob Clark
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin
Synopsis: A young boy really, really wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.
Review: Most people consider this a holiday classic, but its not really about Christmas so much as growing up and the American family. Christmas is good way to illustrate these themes since Christmas tends to be a time when families come together and there is no better time in the year to be a kid. Jean Sheppard, who provides the voice of the narrator (and wrote the book upon which this movie is based) fills the whole movie with his delightful commentary and storytelling filled with exaggerations and embellishments that add to the authenticity of the story. I especially love the portrayal of The Old Man (McGavin) who makes for a rather hysterical father figure. It's a consistently funny movie throughout with plenty of memorable scenes and lines and makes for great holiday fare.

66. The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938
Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighly
Starring: Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Olivia de Havilland
Synopsis: The famous outlaw outmaneuvers the vile Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Guy of Gisbourne, while trying to win the hand of Maid Marian.
Review: If you're looking for a fun-filled swashbuckling adventure then look no further than this classic rendition of a classic story. It's got swordplay, feats of daring-do, and pure unfiltered manliness on display for all to see! Errol Flynn looks and plays the part so exquisitely well that he's the default image most people have when they think of Robin Hood. And he has such an awesome laugh. I just can't get enough of it. The setpieces and costumes are also pretty impressive and boy is this movie colourful. They really fucking loved their Technicolor back then. The best part is without a doubt the climatic swordfight at the end. It's just pure chaos with people getting stabbed and conked on the head left and right, while Robin and Guy duke it out one on one. Even today, this film is fun to watch.

65. Midnight Cowboy 1969
Director: John Schlesinger
Starring: Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman
Synopsis: A country boy heads to the big city to make his fortune as a gigolo.
Review: This was the first movie to earn an X rating under the new movie rating system after the Hays Code went out the window, though by today's standards its pretty tame. It's a classic story of a country boy (Voight) who dreams of making it in the big city, but its a hell of a lot darker than other movies with similar plotlines. First off, his dream is to be a prostitute. Secondly, he fails horribly at it. The only thing he has going for him is that he manages to gain a friend in Rizzo (Hoffman), a dirt poor, sickly scuzzbag who lives in a dump. Actually, he doesn't really have anything good going for him at all. Even though I am making light of it, this movie really is a heartfelt tragedy with two amazing leads who together form one of cinema's great on-screen duos.

64. Goldfinger 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Starring: Sean Connery
Synopsis: James Bond tries to foil the dastardly plot of Auric Goldfinger.
Review: I haven't seen all that many Bond films, but of those I have seen this one is by far the best. It has some of the most memorable scenes and characters from the entire 007 franchise such as Oddjob with his killer hat, Jill Masterson being killed by a coat of gold paint, the laser that slowly threatens to cut Bond in half, and the line "shaken, not stirred." I have to give chops to the writers of this film for naming the female lead, Pussy Galore. How the hell did that get past the censors? Like all Bond films, there's lots of crazy gadgets, sex, drinking, devious and somewhat zany plots concocted by some devious and somewhat zany villain, and of course Bond being incredibly suave.

63. When Harry Met Sally 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal
Synopsis: Over the course of several years, a man and a woman become friends and begin to yearn for something more.
Review: This is the movie you have to thank for the slew of romantic comedies you see nowadays. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but this one is actually good, and Reiner does it right. It doesn't follow the generic formula that most rom-coms do, and for the most part its not even about romance so much as male/female friendships. In fact, its actually quite original. They don't make love out to be as easy or as "fated" as most Hollywood films tend to do. It takes a lot of coincidences, accidents, time, development and hard work for Harry and Sally to get together. These themes are further illustrated by the nice little clips interspersed throughout the film of elderly couples talking about how they met and got together. In addition, the two leads both do excellent jobs, especially Billy Crystal who I always find hilarious, and the movie itself is very funny with plenty of memorable bits (especially the famous "I'll have what she's having," scene).

62. Fight Club 1999
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Edward Norton, Brad Pitt
Synopsis: A man who is disappointed with his life meets up with the flamboyant Tyler Durden, and together they found Fight Club.
Review: For what many people consider to be simple "guy" movie, this film has many heady themes. You have crumbling identities, pent up male aggressiveness, consumerism, gender relations, and anarchy all coming into play, just to name a few. It's hard to peg down the exact genre of this film, but for me its more psychological horror than anything, especially in light of the famous twist ending (I am assuming you all know what it is regardless of whether or not you've seen it). The narrator (Norton) lives in this creepy ramshackle house that reflects his broken mental state as he loses control of virtually every aspect of his life and insanity takes hold. The Fight Club serves as a physical representation of his psychological breakdown as it too begins to spiral out of control. And if you don't give a shit about all this theoretical crap, then Fight Club is still an awesome movie with sweet acting, some hilarious dialogue, and an intense story.

61. The Sound of Music 1965
Director: Robert Wise
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plumber
Synopsis: A nun becomes a nanny for the wealthy von Trapp family.
Review: Everybody has a few movies that they grew up on and thus will always hold a special place in their heart no matter how silly we realize they are later. For me, The Sound of Music is one of those films. My family is really into musicals for some reason and this was probably our overall favourite. Nowadays I find parts of it to be a bit cheesy or a little too sugar-coated for my liking, but I still love all the musical numbers which are often paired with beautiful cinematography, and I cannot deny that Julie Andrews is absolutely fantastic. My favourite part has to be when Caprtain von Trapp (Plumber) sings Edelweiss during a performance and the whole audience joins in. I don't know why, but I always liked that scene.