Quick Hits

Over the last couple of months I’ve had a number of things I thought might be blog worthy. But nothing with enough meat on the bones to make for a full post. So I haven’t written anything in a while. But I don’t want to let these ideas fade away altogether so here’s my anthology of random film thoughts.

Holy Grail
Run away!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail  – Great on the big screen, especially with a crowd that gets it. And if you went to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail on the big screen on a Wednesday night you probably get it. However, that being said, when my son and I went there was a group a few rows behind us that clearly had a few first-timers. At the end of the movie while the rest of us filed out they kept waiting for something more. Alas, twasn’t.

Also, the pre-show (which must be a bonus feature on the Blu-Ray DVD) was a commentary from Terry Gilliam with mostly never-before-seen animation that ended up on the cutting room floor. The animation was mildly interesting but Gilliam’s commentary was brilliantly hysterical.

The Dude abiding with Donny and Walter.

The Big Lebowski – What an underappreciated masterpiece. I have seen this movie countless times and quote it often. But not until we saw it during the classic film series a few weeks ago did I fully engage with it for what it really is… film noir. It became even more genius in that light.

I don’t know exactly how Joel and Ethan Coen derive their film ideas. But I have to think that they came up with the idea for The Big Lebowski after watching The Big Sleep (the title may be a nod) or The Maltese Falcon or some other classic film noir. I can see the following dialogue unfolding…

Joel: We should do a film noir.

Ethan: But instead of the shrewd Sam Archer archetype our protagonist is a burnout.

Joel: Of course. And he bowls.

Ethan: Naturally.

The stuff that dreams are made of.

Speaking of The Maltese Falcon…  Showed it to my son for the first time a few nights ago. While the film holds up fairly well, the real astonishing thing about The Maltese Falcon is that it is John Huston’s first film. Impressive work for any writer/director but especially remarkable for a 34-year old rookie. Nice cameo by his father Walter as Capt. Jacoby. And with Bogart in the lead it was, to paraphrase another Bogart classic, the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Bogart and Huston.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is high on the pre-film school film school watch list with my son. But also more film noir. Any faves? (Comment below, tweet @cmselby or Facebook.com/captionsreviews)

Tara Reid
Tara “acting” in Sharknado (l) and The Big Lebowski (r)

Tara! Tara! Tara! – I have to admit that in the span of about 10 days I watched 3 movies with Tara Reid in them. The above mentioned The Big Lebowski as well as Sharknado and Sharknado 2. Now, in my defense, watching Sharknado (in the theater… twice!) was with the protective comedic coating of Rifftrax. My viewing of Sharknado 2 on SyFy (such a stupid spelling) was in preparation of the inevitable Rifftrax treatment as well as the subsequent episode of the crass yet comical “How Did This Get Made?” podcast from Paul Scheer, June Diane Rafael and Jason Mantzoukas.

My wife in particular really enjoyed the riffs directed Tara’s way during Sharknado. I think she might be her favorite terrible actress.

If you’ve never seen Rifftrax but you understand what it means for a movie to be “so bad it’s good” then I suggest checking them out at Rifftrax.com.


Boyhood – If you’re not familiar with the film Boyhood there are two aspects to understand.

First is the story. Boyhood follows a boy named Mason from age 6 until 18 and his high school graduation. We see a piece of each year of his life and the joys and heartaches he experiences along the way. Second is the way this film was made. The story follows Mason and his family over the course of 12 years. The film was shot in real time.

This is a stunning concept and an amazing commitment from all the actors involved. Not only watching Ellar Coltrane who plays Mason literally grow up from a boy to a man. But seeing Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke age from 2002 through 2014 was incredible. And major kudos to them for the courage to put their egos aside and take such a genuine risk. Sure, they’ve been in lots of movies and we could certainly see the differences between Patricia Arquette in Stigmata (1999) or Ethan Hawke in Training Day (2001) and both actors today. But to put that aging process on screen from scene to scene to scene is pretty fearless. Good for them both to do this and do it so well.

Like most of director Richard Linklater’s films the story is character and dialogue driven. But so is real life. Considering this film is about the real life, every day journey of a boy from 6-18 it works. In fact, it actually works better the more I think about it after seeing it. The movie lingered with me for quite a while. I’ll admit, that may be due in large part to the fact that our son is just a year younger than Mason at the climax of the story. So watching the film culminate centered on a young man’s high school years getting ready for college was very poignant for me. But I still think the film stands on its own two feet.

Ahhhh… that feels good to get that all down on virtual paper.

As always I welcome your comments. You know how to find me.


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