Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Top 10 Best Movies From The 00's

For the month of June I decided to just give you all best of lists, and this one was really hard, because there were a lot of good movies between 2000 and 2009, so much so that I will include a list of movies that I recommend you check out, or read my review of the ones that I took a closer look at. I do not want to put these in any particular order, it is more about recommending you guys some awesome things out there. I will keep these short, I promise.

These movies are becoming harder and harder to re-order into just the top ten, mostly because with each year more content is being put out in Hollywood. I know that I am not a big movie buff here, and thus most people are very likely to have very different lists of "must watch classics". I am just a central European movie lover who loves to recommend and to dissect stories. These are all great because of casting, plot, screenplay, music, photography, and every single person behind the camera too. Very few movies hit all the right notes, these do for me:

I have seen a lot of movies about dancing, this is still the most original and the most wonderful out there. Great casting, great story, great characters and just incredible dancing. I just feel like it does not compare to any other story I have seen out there. I sure hope more people see it, so I will recommend it anywhere I can. (Read my review here!)

This movie sure does not need me to advertise it, but there are two sentences that I want to add to it anyway. One, this is probably the best adaption of a book of such length, not to mention, of any Austen story. I love the BBC TV shows, don't get me wrong, but the fact that they are episodic shows allows for them include every detail of the books, which is much harder in a movie. Here, in just a little bit over two hours you experience the couple of years in which this foolish love story took place without it being rushed or feeling that it left out key elements. And two, we all love Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and love to debate who is the better Darcy, but I can tell you for sure that for Keira Knightley's Lizzy, Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy was the perfect match. (Read my review here!)

I keep bringing up this movie. It's just wonderful! If you ever saw the musical on stage, you know why this is the best adaptation of a live show, and if you didn't, go check it out and see how this was remade into this charming movie. Although I might never forgive them for cutting my favorite songs, there is no other movie I have seen so many times in the theatre. It's a cult classic by now, I don't need to introduce it to anyone!

I wanted to include a cartoon, of course there were great ones over the span of ten years, as technology advances even better ones have come about, so this decision was really hard. Nonetheless, the one thing I kept in mind is "Which ones do I re-watch almost yearly?", really that applies to all the items on this list. And this cartoon is just so dear to my heart. 

Debra Messing has had an extensive career in television, and she has not done as many movies as I would have liked, but the ones she did are great. This one was just exceptionally fun, heartwarming and I promise, it gave me more advice on life than any other movie I had watched in that period. Great casting, great story, great things all around. (Read my review here!)

When it comes to comedies, Will Ferrell and Jon Heder are some of my favorite people. I find that comedies that are dear to my heart don't always gain the same success with everyone, which is a shame. But when these two themed up they just made one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. It is funny, unique, really, I have seen comedies about sports, but none are as crazy as this one. It's just a good time!

You know my love for musicals already, well, this one took a long time to cross my path, even though I knew about for years before. I feel that I did, however, see it when I was supposed to. There are those songs, movies, and books that find you at the perfect time. This is just a precious gem, and if you find out more about the background of this musical the more you'll feel just how precious it is. I hope more and more people discover it when they do, and how they do! (Read my review here!)

Bandits (2001)

I don't think there is need to introduce Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett, but I sure you might need an introduction to this movie. I  have written about it a couple years ago (read my review here!), but there are no words that can do justice to this awesome movie. Everytime I mention it my mom starts to laugh, its just a family favorite: drama, comedy, romance... it has it all! 

This is a remake of a Korean movie, Yeopgijeogin geunyeo (2001), which was translated into My Sassy Girl, and the American version starred the awesome Elisha Cuthbert and the wonderful Jesse Bradford. This has got to be my favorite romantic comedy of all time. It's funny, there is a tiny twist there, it makes me cry every single time, the dialogue is simply superb, and the chemistry between these two is quite unique. I cannot help but love it.

This is a Hungarian movie, that got some remarks and has been around with subtitles on some platforms. To me it is still the best Hungarian movie ever made, period. I am just turning the age that the main characters were and it resonates with me even more, making mistakes but learning to live with them. I have been cheated, I have been robbed in my life before, but I also found love in the people who were there when I was an idiot, and if that isn't the definition of family, I don't know what is. If you get the chance, make sure you watch it! 

What is your top 10? 

Until my next top ten!
_ _ _ _ _

Here is the list of movies that did not make the cut, but actually, they could make a whole new list of themselves. Just make sure you watch them if you hadn't!

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Top 10 Musical Scenes from Movies

A lot of movies, that are not actually musicals, have one scene that sticks with you: one song, one dance, one lip-synch, one karaoke, one duet that just uplifts the movie. Those scenes quite rarely make it into the trailers, as the movie is not intended to be musical in its nature, but as an audience we react very strongly to music, it is something that connects us all, and it stay with us too. I personally remember movies by soundtrack and original score much more than plot or casting decisions. Even if, admittedly, it is the actors who bring those scenes to life. It is really an amalgamation of a lot of little details that come together at the right time. But when it does, thanks to the script, the director, the actor, the music... it just makes it iconic. So let's talk about the top 10 musical scenes from movies that we all sing together to even years later:

10) "You Make My Dreams Come True" (500) Days of Summer (2009)
I remember when I watched this movie for the first time, and how I immediately connected with the scene where Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) dances in the park after he spent the night with Summer (Zooey Deschanel). The best thing about this scene is that I have personally felt that way before, wanting to dance in the middle of the street, trying to express emotion through dance. It is just a super fun scene that highlights the emotional ups and downs of a relationship.

9) "Touch Me" Wayne's World (1992)
This might not have stuck with everyone, but it was definitely stuck with me. This is one of our favorite family movies, something we re-watch yearly and just cannot grow tired of it. In it, Wayne (Mike Myers) falls in love with a singer he sees on stage at a club, as she is singing this song. She was Tia Carrere, playing Cassandra, and the original is by Private Life. I hope you give this scene a chance because this song is simply awesome.

8) "My God (My Guy)" Sister Act (1992)
Arguably this movie is much more musical than the others on the list, but it was definitely the musical pieces that made it so memorable. And also the ones that made it possible for it to actually be turned into a musical - many years later. But aside from the wonderful casting and dialogues in this kick-ass movie, one or two songs just stay with you more than anything else. One of those was probably the minute the nuns turned a new leaf when Deloris (Whoopi Goldberg) helped them perform for the first time under her guidance. God I love this movie!

7) "Pop! Goes My Heart" Music and Lyrics (2007)
In this hilarious movie about music, there is one song that simply made the movie just ten times better than I could have hoped for. The main character, Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) was big in his 80s pop band, but they were more of a one hit wonder, and their biggest success is at the beginning of the movie. Of all the 80s parodies I have seen this by far the best one out there. And I say that being the biggest fan of the 80s: the music, the hair, the videos, our collections of tapes, the colors, all those stars who broke and still, up to today are among our favorites... this one 3 minute song revived all those emotions in me and I am sure it did the same for others.

6) "Cuban Pete" The Mask (1994)
Of all the criticism that might fall on this movie years later, as it did not hit all the right notes with everyone, I can still tell you that everyone remembers the dancing scene where the Mask (Jim Carrey) enchants the police in order to run away from them. This scene just makes me so happy and I love to sing along to it, I don't even mind if it gets stuck in my ears!

5) "I'm Checking Out" Postcards From The Edge (1990)
I remember when people were shocked that Meryl Streep is going to star in Mamma Mia! (2008), and I knew already that she had the pipes for it and my research was based on this wonderful movie. In it, Streep plays Suzanne Vale, an actress who decided to leave her singing career behind for a career in acting. Having been assigned to the care of her mom after rehab, she ends up performing and also taking a role where she sings, something that in the end takes her back to herself. 

4) "I Love You Baby"10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
I do believe that people fell in love with Heath Ledger here and they never stopped loving him ever since. I don't even see the point in talking about this scene, you all know it, you all love it, you should probably re-watch it, here we go:

3) "Say A Little Prayer For You" My Best Friends Wedding (1997)
Well, after number 4, the next one that I am sure you all cannot help but sing along to, maybe so much that you actually recall this scene instead of the original when you hear covers of it on the radio. That's right, we still listen to the radio, you know you do, without noticing even, radio will always be in the background for us. That said, this is just such an iconic silly scene, that encaptures so many emotions... each time I watch it I notice yet another character going through something, because this song has a meaning for everyone, and it is different for all. I just love Rupert Everett in this scene. 

2) "You Don't Own Me" The First Wives Club (1996)
God I love this song, and I remember when recorded it on VHS and I literally rewinded to the beginning of the song 19 times in a row, just so I can listen to this song. Of course, the whole movie is just awesome, but the song just empowers you in a way that I cannot put into words. You gotta see it, trust me, so make sure you check it out now if you haven't yet:

1) "Inva Mula (Lucia di Lammermoor)/The Diva Dance" The Fifth Element (1997)
There are of course so many movies that feature performances too that the protagonists experience. Very few of those, however, have the same impact as when it is actually performed by someone in the cast. Nonetheless, those performances make it to the soundtrack and scores - I mean if it is available at all, most of these awesome covers only exist in the movies -, and because of that they still count into my list. The best performance, however, also has to be the number one on this list, and that is by the Diva in The Fifth Element in the third act of the movie. As she sings a fight montage ensues, but at the same time, were are just sitting there with Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) taking in the song and feeling every note as the goose bumps show up. It is just a great example of a director knowing what he is doing.

So these are my favorites. Admittedly, most of them are from the 90s, my childhood, but hey, this is not a defintie list, feel free to add anything and help me out to make this even better. Feel free to help me out in the comments below. 

Until my next top ten!

Monday, May 24, 2021

What's Next On My List? Solo: A Star Wars Story

For the month of May, I decided to go with the most obvious choice, starting from May The Fourth (Be With You), I will look at the rest of the Star Wars franchise through TV shows, movies and games I have not yet reviewed. Because of Disney there is plenty more to come, and well, just books and comics alone have already given us an extended universe that is... as big as the universe. So let us see, what is there to talk about?

I took a long time to see this. I was not interested in the project at all, and somehow I felt that it was not gonna be the home run that they think it will be. First, I really hated that they moved to a May screening instead of the usual December, which has become the biggest grossing season for any new Disney movie. That said, having now seen it, I decided not to tell you much about the plot, because I myself did not know a lot going in, and well, I think that is part of the magic of the movie. I definitely would recommend that you watch it and go in wanting to have fun, and trust me, you will. 

What worked?
The visuals and the colors in this movie are effing fantastic. I loved that they did not go to a single boring planet from any of the other cinematic movies. I also loved the casting, nothing against Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), but he had to play someone too iconic unfortunately. That said, he committed to the role, and all the other people in the casting were just wonderful. Everybody committed and it was not just a paycheck, that is clear. I love Ron Howard's movie, he is a fantastic director. The music was great and the heist itself was smart and well delivered. And most importantly, the movie was heavy. It really was. It did commit to giving you depth - something that the new trilogy refused to do. The minute there was something serious, IMMEDIATELY they lit up on the tension, and the movies greatly suffered for it. This film... this film was no shy of tension and depth and it was simply wonderful. I even liked the implied background and the way the characters' backstory was rewritten. My favorite was definitely Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover)'s droid, L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), she was just so much fun. The best character and droid in the Star Wars universe by far. If Lando ever gets separate stories, I hope to see her again. Finally, I did not want to see a movie about the Kessel Run, and in fact, it was not, and I am eternally grateful for that. 

"- Just did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.
- [Chewie growls].
- Not if you round down, buddy."

What didn't work?
Unfortunately this movie committed the same mistake that DC movies do: they think that their audience is stupid. And Disney is not like that usually, so that made me enraged in more ways than I can say. There were at least 5 scenes where I felt that there was a huge neon sign blinking over the head of the characters saying "FAN SERVICE, THIS IS A REFERENCE, DID YOU GET IT? LET ME EXPLAIN TO YOU SOME MORE." Oh he needs a fast ship? Oh he is 'alone', perhaps his name could reflect that? Oh he thinks Chewbacca is toooo long and wants to use a nickname??? And all of these were just stupid, because you did not need to know about the extended universe to understand any of the reference. The one I hated the most was when Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) started to introduce a smuggler - which we all knew was going to be Lando - and she starts to say how smart and sexy and attractive he is and ... make Han jealous by showing us, he is jealous and do not tell us viewers what to think of him. I spent the last 130 days watching over 230 movies and the biggest mistake any can make is to tell and not show. Movies, visual medium is supposed to show not tell. And this further explanation of the most obvious things was super annoying. Somebody came into the writing room and convinced everyone that the audience is stupid. And it is a real shame, because if I could edit out all those stupid scenes this movie could be as good as Rogue One (2016)

So watch it? Most definitely. I think it is a super fun heist movie set in a universe that we love and cherish. It is really a shame that Han Solo is so engraved in our heads, but there are a lot of people behind this project that really wanted to do their best and it shows. 

Until the next item on my list!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

What's Next On My List? Star Wars: Rebels

 For the month of May, I decided to go with the most obvious choice, starting from May The Fourth (Be With You), I will look at the rest of the Star Wars franchise through TV shows, movies and games I have not yet reviewed. Because of Disney there is plenty more to come, and well, just books and comics alone have already given us an extended universe that is... as big as the universe. So let us see, what is there to talk about?

Star Wars: Rebels [Season 1-4] (2014-2018)

My best friend showed me a scene from the end of the third season, and immediately I decided that I have to see this. At first, I was not a big fan of the animation, but I have to admit, that it grows on you. Not to mention that as more money was put into the project, the better the animation became. The first season was reminiscent of the episodic space tales of Firefly (2002), the second was truly an homage to all those who watched The Clone Wars, giving us cliffhangers but also a long awaited encounter between Ahsoka and her former master. Whiles season three and four brought us the most beloved and feared admiral in all of the Star Wars extended universe: Thrawn Starring the wonderful cast of Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall), Zeb Orrelios (Steve Blum), Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) and of course the best returning character, the lovable Rex (Dee Bradley Baker).

I have been thinking hard about what to write into this review because I don't want to and can't spoil things, I just really want people to see it. In regards to rumors about the future of The Mandalorian and the Ahsoka shows Dave Filoni said something about how Star Wars is not linear. And that stuck with me, because I watched this series before I saw The Clone Wars. So many characters returned, but they had a new face to them, a new approach through the eyes of the main characters of this show: the pirates, the clones, the Empire, all felt new but still familiar. And because they were all well established characters, they worked without Clone Wars too, and that is a testament to the writing of both this TV series as well as its predecessor. 

So watch it? If this is the only thing you ever watch of the Star Wars universe, trust me, you will not be disappointed. This show was just four seasons of pure gold, the real heart of the Star Wars universe, the real depth of the genius of this universe, the creatures who live in it, the stories that it can tell... I will re-watch it everytime I can and recommend it to everyone. 

Until the next item on my list!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

What's Next On My List? The Clone Wars

For the month of May, I decided to go with the most obvious choice, starting from May The Fourth (Be With You), I will look at the rest of the Star Wars franchise through TV shows, movies and games I have not yet reviewed. Because of Disney there is plenty more to come, and well, just books and comics alone have already given us an extended universe that is... as big as the universe. So let us see, what is there to talk about?

Before the seven season TV series begun that was aired over a run of ten years, there was a movie that begun the story of the relationship of Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and his padawan Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein). Now, this movie on its own is not a big thing, I watched years after the TV series, and thank god that I did. This adventure, AGAIN, took us back to Tatooine. Now, I know for a fact that I would not have enjoyed this as much, right after Episode II Attack of the Clones, when it is supposed to be playing out, because we just had him be on Tatooine to avenge his mother. Seeing it years later made it a very interesting story, seeing someone like Anakin detest the desert, but someone like Ahsoka seeing the beauty of things, her inexperience, her pure heart. Ahsoka's story was beautifully developed in the series, and this is the star of it, but even without this movie (essentially a 3 episode chapter) is not a must watch. It is just the beginning of a wonderful series about the complicated and multilayered characters that live in this universe. I could tell you more about the plot, but I would much rather you went and checked it out for yourself, make your mind up about it. Honestly, the setting of the story was my biggest issue, but the characters delivered, as always.

The Clone Wars [Season 1-7] (2008-2020)

With that I want to move on to the series, because, after all, it's main character was Ahsoka Tano. For a character that did not even make it to live-action until 2020, she is probably the most famous Star Wars Jedi in existence after Yoda. And there is a good reason for it! The whole Clone Wars series was constructed by chapters of 3-4 episodes, which had a middle a beginning and an end, and sometimes characters would come back or cross-over to other chapters. It also included a lot of characters who were already introduced in live-action, or those who later would make it there. The series did suffer from two major issues: 1, it was not aired in order, which is not the fault of the creators, but it did not help its first three seasons; 2, it was originally aimed at more of a young audience, much younger than the hardcore SW fans or those who joined by having the prequel trilogy be the defining SW series of their childhood. However, up to season 3 I think they realized that everyone was watching this, no matter the age, so they decided to up the maturity of the stories. But if one starts to watch it, they might give up before the show gets good, due to the fact that the first two seasons do not have the same depth, it does however lay the ground work for one of the best series ever made in history, so I wish everyone would stick with it. 

There were a couple of chapters that were better than the others, but what this series achieved is quite phenomenal: it expanded and fixed many of the rushed mistakes George Lucas made with the prequel trilogy. I maintain that had he not established a great world to begin with, all these projects would not have been possible, so we can debate casting and dialogue decisions in the prequels, but the story is solid and it was the start of something new for sure. I enjoyed the romantic story and I had no problem believing Anakin's turn to the dark side. Obviously, it would be better to not have to read countless books and wait for several series to fix the mistakes, but thank god that they did, because seeing the famous Clone Wars was truly a gift for the SW fans.
First, the voice actor for Obi-Wan Kenobi, James Arnold Taylor has to be mentioned among the greatest things in this series. We immediately think of Ewan McGregor now, or depending on your age, Alec Guinness when thinking of this iconis character, but making sure that his legacy is held up, this fantastic voice actor delivered some of the best lines uttered by the character. The friendship between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the one we just had to imagine in the movies, was so beautifully presented and in such depth ... I have re-watched and cried over several episodes. Second, of course, the wonderful story of Anakin having to train someone just as hard headed as he is, and learning through her, while jugling a forbidden marriage. Third, the story of Ahsoka, no longer a Jedi, because of the blinded judgement that fell on her from people she trusted. And fourth, most importantly, allow me to give all the awards to voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, for bringing to life the best clone troopers this war has ever seen. The amount of work this voice actor put in is through the rough, and every character he landed his talents to had his own personality, his own characters traits, his own story. These clones were the same, at first look, they were everything but in reality, and that is the most beautiful thing about this series: its humanity. 

So watch it? If you keep in mind that the first two and say half a seasons are more for a younger audience and it just jumps into the depth of the Clone Wars, than trust me, you are in for a threat. The 3-4 episode set ups are basically separate movies with incredible stories. Most important of all, these nameless clones become people in front of your eyes and not only you start to despise both the Jedi and the Sith, but a sense of justice and pain comes with seeing these soldiers die. 

Make sure you check out The Bad Batch, just started this May the Fourth on the Disney+, a story right after that of the Clone Wars. The first episode already held up the quality that we have been shown in series created by Dave Filoni. I am very happy that he is heading up projects now. 

Until the next item on my list!