Latest Movie Reviews

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

“I never met a soul more affable than you, Butch, or faster than the Kid, but you’re still nothing but two-bit outlaws on the dodge. It’s over. Don’t you get that? Your times is over and you’re gonna die bloody, and all you can do is choose where.”

The 60s were a time of great growth and change in film, and no genre shows that more than the Western. Films like 1966’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly shook things up a big, and censorship loosened up in 1967, opening the doors to explore new territory. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, directed by George Roy Hill (The Sting, Slaughterhouse Five) and starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross, seems pretty straightforward by today’s standards, but was a huge jump forward for the genre. It’s also a fun Western with great characters and lots of effective humor. I’ve honestly never been a fan of the old classic Westerns, but I had a lot of fun watching this one.

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Schindler’s List

Schindler's List

“This is very cruel, Oskar. You’re giving them hope. You shouldn’t do that. That’s cruel!”

Schindler’s List is, without a doubt, one of the most important films of all time. If you don’t know, it’s probably the best and one of the most accurate films about the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany (and Nazi-occupied Poland) in World War II, and it’s based on real people and events. It’s one I had always known about, but had never seen—partly because I was intimidated by it. The Holocaust is not an easy thing to watch, and I was worried it would be, well, a bit too much. I’m happy to report that, while there were some awful things portrayed, it remains very accessible and I actually loved this powerful film. Director Steven Spielberg (E.T., Jurassic Park) had a tremendous amount of respect for the subject and was careful to make a film that stays true to history, no matter how dark, and honors the survivors, some of whom make an appearance in the final scene. There are some heartbreaking scenes, but this is a truly great film that doesn’t just rely on the historical significance of its subject matter.

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Top 10 Rainy Day Movies

It may or may not actually be raining, but it’s a day where you want to see something a little sad—but not too sad. Whether it’s love or loss or just human connection, you want to stay inside and feel some emotions! These movies all fit the bill. Next time you’re feeling like this, give one of these movies a watch!

10. The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter

A war movie on a rainy day? There are few war movies—and, indeed, few movies—that have the emotional punch of this one. This one spends most of its time (about two-thirds of the movie) showing life before and after the war for the people who served, and that’s the real story here. If you want some serious action with your gloomy mood, this is the one for you.

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9. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums

Probably Wes Anderson’s best film, this is a smart and quirky comedy/drama about a man who realizes he needs his family connections only after he’s razed them all to the ground. In an attempt to win them back, he fakes having a terminal illness, but the father, Royal, is so lacking in empathy that this proves much harder than he thought. The humor is great, but the drama is real, and there are some moments that will hit you right in the heart.

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8. Amelie (2001)

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In this French film, Amelie Poulain is a young woman so introverted she has trouble connecting with others, but so emotional that she has trouble abstaining. Her awkward attempts to reach out to others are fun to watch, but this is at its heart a deeply emotional film about human connection. The ending is uplifting, but you won’t be able to get through this movie without feeling some deep emotions.

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7. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting

This film about a closeted genius with a troubled past focuses on Will Hunting transitioning from the carefree young adult life to the real world, where his hurts and hang-ups hold him back in all areas of his life. While funny at times and entertaining to watch, this is a film about healing from your pain and finding reasons to live. Anyone harboring pain of their own will find something to relate to here.

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6. The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment

For a 1960 comedy, this film captures depression more accurately than any movie for decades afterward. Equally hilarious and devastating, it captures that love and connection can be sweet, but also difficult and even damaging in a world full of broken people. When all you want is love, but everyone’s selling something else, life is hard. This is a personal favorite of mine and I’ll watch it whether it’s raining or not.

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5. Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me

We all remember the innocence of our youth, but it’s very hard to figure out exactly when we lost it. One day, we’re children, and somewhere years down the road, we realize we’re young adults and we’ve lost something and will never get it back. In this film, four young boys take a short trip to see a dead body, and it captures this loss of innocence and journey into young adulthood.

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4. Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Midnight Cowboy

A small-town cowboy journeys to the big city to realize his dreams and make it big. It’s a story we’ve seen before, but this one plays out differently. In this one, the cowboy is not at all prepared for the harsh realities of city life, and the city does not care at all about his dreams and ambitions. In fact, the city nearly destroys him. There’s also a very moving friendship between the two main characters that stands out as one of the best in film.

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3. Roman Holiday (1953)

Roman Holiday

A princess in the 1950s tires of the duties of her royal life and longs for a day free from the pressures and responsibilities that weigh on her daily. She makes her escape and meets a young newspaper photographer looking for the next big story. Over one amazing day, their connection grows deep and meaningful as they adventure through Rome. This is probably my favorite classic film, and it’s as deep and emotional as it is fun.

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2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? This film gives characters the choice after the fact with a technology that erases memories. After a failed relationship, the main character has to choose if the memories of their good times together are worth the memories of their bad times together—and if future good times will be worth the future bad times. A great film about romantic connection between two flawed characters.

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1. Lost in Translation (2003)

Lost in Translation

Have you ever felt alone in a crowded room? This film shows us two lost souls who can’t find anyone who understands what that’s like—until they find each other while visiting Tokyo. Their connection isn’t romantic, but it’s so deep that neither of them quite knows what to do with it. Sometimes, being lost together can be just as sweet as being found.

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Runners Up

Lady Bird (2017), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Sideways (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

“What a loss to spend that much time with someone, only to find out that she’s a stranger.”

The manic-pixie dream girl is a common trope that pops up in a lot of movies. You know the ones, where there’s a guy who takes life too seriously and he meets this girl who’s wild and free and teaches him to have a new appreciation for life. Think Penny Lane in Almost Famous, or Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or Zooey Deschanel’s character in any movie she’s in. We always see the beginnings of the relationship and the transformation. But we never see how that plays out. We rarely see that while manic-pixie dream girls can be amazing, they can also be high maintenance, and it takes serious work to keep up the amazing aspects of the relationship—work that not every guy is willing to put in.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fills that gap by showing us a manic-pixie dream girl relationship after it has failed. Directed by Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Be Kind Rewind) and starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, this film offers a fresh look at what a romantic relationship really means and what it takes to make one work for imperfect people. It maintains a lot of that quirkiness from the other movies, but this one is layered with some heavy bittersweet moments as well. At times funny, at times sad, this is a great film about the ups and downs of love that doesn’t try to water down what makes relationships difficult, but still captures what makes them meaningful.

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Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur

“Sextus, you ask how to fight an idea. Well, I’ll tell you how: with another idea!”

It’s hard to tell from today’s cinema landscape, but big Bible epics used to be huge, and the best is undoubtedly Ben-Hur (the 1959 version, not the terrible 2016 remake). Directed by William Wyler (Roman Holiday, The Best Years of our Lives) and starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, and Stephen Boyd, this is a film that seems simple on the surface but has some big ideas operating behind the scenes. This is a true Bible epic made by a Jewish man intending to present ideas that appealed to people of all faiths. Though slow at times, this film has some of the best action sequences of its time, with one sequence in particular being very impressive even today. While not perfect, this holds up as a great classic epic film with some depth to back up the tension and action, and I’m glad I got a chance to watch it.

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Inglourious Basterds

Inglourious Basterds

“Actually, Werner, we’re all tickled to hear you say that. Quite frankly, watchin’ Donny beat Nazis to death is the closest we ever get to goin’ to the movies. Donny!”

There are a lot of revenge films out there, but I can’t think of any that try to take revenge retroactively for a historical act of genocide—except for, of course, Inglourious Basterds. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) and starring Brad Pitt and Cristoph Waltz, this film is basically a revenge fantasy enacted by the Jews against Nazi Germany in World War II, and it even goes as far as to change some pretty major historical events for the sake of the story. Given that and the fact that it’s a Tarantino film (typically bloody and brutal) I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it—but I did. Quite a bit. The revenge is sweet, and the film is a perfect concoction of suspense, action, humor, and wit. While intelligently written, this isn’t really a thinking film—but it’s extremely entertaining, and there are some very memorable characters and scenes. I was initially hesitant to consider this film for my list, but after watching it, I can honestly say that I loved it and it absolutely deserves to be here.

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Snatch

Snatch

“They look the shit, don’t they? And nobody is gonna argue. And I’ve got some extra loud blanks, just in case.”

Imagine, if you will, a film with the wit and bite of Pulp Fiction, the cool factor of Ocean’s Eleven, and a pleasant British disposition, and you’ll be pretty close to Snatch. Written and directed by Guy Ritchie (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) and starring Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, and Benicio Del Toro, this is a witty and entertaining British crime film with a lot to offer. With snappy and hilarious dialogue, great actor performances, a clever directorial style, and a tight plot, I can’t really think of anything bad to say about this film.

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Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

“Err, bad breath, colorful language, feather duster. What do you think they’re gonna be armed with? GUNS, you tit!”

It’s said that there’s no honor among thieves, and I can’t think of any better example of this in action than British crime film Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. This is the directorial debut of Guy Ritchie (Snatch, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and it stars Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, and Nick Moran. This is a story from the criminal underground of London, and it’s got lots of British charm and sensibility that makes this stand out from the crowded genre of American crime films. The script is also exceptionally smart, especially for a first feature film from the writer/director. If you like crime films but want something delightfully different, this will probably fit the bill.

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A Fish Called Wanda

a-fish-called-wanda

“Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not ‘Every man for himself.’ And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.”

It’s rare that I make any sort of declaration along the lines of greatest of all time, but A Fish Called Wanda might just be the best comedy of all time. Written and directed by Charles Crichton (Dead of Night, The Lavender Hill Mob) and comedy legend John Cleese (The Life of Brian, Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Monty Python veterans John Cleese and Michael Palin, this is a brilliant comedy that artfully blends American and British humor into something that just about everyone will laugh at. The script and performances are brilliantly funny, but there’s a very solid plot here as well. Everything a comedy is supposed to do, this film does extremely well, and I can’t think of any comedy that succeeds as much as this one.

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Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia

“Undisciplined… unpunctual… untidy. Knowledge of music… knowledge of literature… knowledge of… knowledge of… You’re an interesting man, there’s no doubt about it.”

Lawrence of Arabia is widely heralded as one of the greatest epic films of all time, and it certainly is that, but it goes a level deeper with its exploration of heroism. Directed by David Lean (Doctor Zhivago, The Bridge on the River Kwai) and starring Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, and Anthony Quinn, this World War I epic captures a unique little corner of history and makes an interesting comment on what heroism really means. This film really embodies what epics are all about, especially considering that this film was released in 1962 and uses all practical effects. It’s stood up well over the years, and this film could hold its own against just about any other epic film out there.

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