September's Monthly Feature – Top Fives (Pt. 2 of 3)

With the rousing success of the first part of our monthly feature, today we’ll feature the middle third of Top Fives as PJ’s veteran hands will continue the festivities. Staffers Steve Murray, Mike Noyes, Rob Sutton and John Cavanagh step into the madness as a new series of questions have been posed to all of them. The answers are in, enjoy!

Mike Noyes, Popcorn Junkies / DVD Lounge Contributor:

Question #1 Which five chick flicks would you sit through to satisfy your better half?

1. Pretty Woman: There are so many reason I dislike this film. The two biggest being Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Alas, my wife loves it so

2. Dirty Dancing: “Nobody puts baby in the corner.” However, sometimes I get put in the corner and I have to watch this movie. Ugh, so much dancing.

3. Beaches: I’ve seen many a woman cry from beginning to end while watching this movie. Even during the scenes that aren’t sad! “Why you crying, nothings happing yet?” “Cause I know what’s coming.” “WTF!?”

4. Grease: Man-o-man, this movie wins the award for being one my wife’s favorite films that I hate the most. She always makes me watch it in hopes that I’ll change my mind. Alas, I shall not!

5. Reality Bites: I enjoy this film for the most part but I hate the ending and my better half and I always argue about it. I think Ethan Hawk’s character is a pretentious arty asshole that isn’t worth the dirt on the bottom of Winona’s shoes. Sure Ben Stiller screws up but it’s an honest mistake. He really tries to make things right for her. Stiller’s the better man, he’s the one who should get the girl! Stupid Ethan Hawke.

Question #2 It’s well known you’re a large fan of the cast from “The State,” “Reno 911!,” et al. Name five films starring someone from this group you’ve disliked.

NOTE: Having reviewed the cast members’ imdb pages, I was actually quite shocked how many films and TV’s shows they’ve been in over the years that I haven’t seen. There aren’t that many non-State projects that these actors have “starred” in, so I’m going to have to go with some small rolls and cameo appearances as well.

1. Herbie Fully Loaded: Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant both co-wrote this and had a cameo to boot. While I haven’t seen the film I can say with much confidence that I’m sure I would really, really hate it.

2. Happy Feet: Carlos Alazraqui does a voice in this. This is one of the most boring annoying cartoons I’ve ever seen. The use of songs is terrible and the ending is ridiculous. Also, the animation on the Elijah Wood penguin freaks me out.

3. Tom Goes To The Mayor: Michael Ian Black was in an episode of this show. Although a TV Show and not a film, this is something I think is really stupid and worthless. The so-called animation is terrible and it simply not funny.

4. Meet The Fockers: Cedric Yarbrough was in this one. What an utterly worthless waste of a film. The first one was entertaining, once. But a sequel was completely unnecessary.

5. A Guy Thing: Thomas Lennon has a small role here. This isn’t a terrible film, but it’s pretty bland and uninspired. Even Jason Lee who can do almost no wrong (I’m pretending Underdog and the forthcoming Alvin & The Chipmunks don’t exist) couldn’t make this film funny.

Steve Murray, Popcorn Junkies / DVD Lounge Contributor and former author of Pulse Wrestling’s “A Look on the Bright Side”

Question #1 You used to write a wrestling column about the positives of that particular industry. Name five reasons to be positive about the state of American cinema in 2007.

1. They’re making comedies for adults again. Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad) seems determined to bring back the “funny with boobs” genre all by himself.

2. Scarlett Johanson – although technically that could be considered two reasons.

3. The Internet seems to be actually getting it right. It’s creating a market for smaller films, and sites like Netflix allow anyone to watch practically any movie they can think so, as well as get exposed to movies that they never would have seen in a Blockbuster.

4. The torture porn genre seems to have finally died out.

5. Somebody is actually making this movie. I haven’t been this excited for a movie opening since 300 came out. (And yes, I consider it another positive sign that I can say that about another movie that just came out earlier this year.)

Question #2 Which five ’80s films have held up the least when viewed today?

1. Superman II (1980) Wow – cheese-o-rama. The only person who can act their way out of a paper bag in this movie is Gene Hackman.

2. Return of the Jedi (1980) They have to rely on Mark Hamill’s *cough* “acting” *cough* skills. And it’s filled with Muppets that might have seemed “cute” back when you were 11, but are ridiculously annoying now.

3. Wargames (1983) If you know the first thing about technology in 2007 (or the military, or actual Soviet/American relations in 1983, or even tic-tac-toe), then this movie turns into an unintentional comedy of the highest order.

4. Rocky IV (1985) So, Rocky fights Ivan Drago, in Russia, for no money, on Christmas. And he trains by running up a mountain with a log on his shoulders. Oh, and during the big flashback scene, he shifts gears in his car about 814 times. Oh – and the Russian crowd ends up cheering for Rocky. Right.

5. Top Gun (1986) It’s got Tom Cruise in it, who simply cannot be taken seriously as an actor any longer – every movie he’s ever done is now tainted. And, Tarantino’s monologue from Sleep with Me on the overbearing homoerotic theme did a damn good of burying it before that.

Rob Sutton, Popcorn Junkies / DVD Lounge Contributor and author of “Robtrain’s Bad Ass Cinema”

Question #1 Name the best five action flicks of all time.

1: Hard Boiled – Few films could claim to be one of the reasons Action films were even invented. This is one of them. If we were just measuring quantity of action in a movie, there aren’t many films that even come close to Hard Boiled. What makes this film the #1 Action film of all time though, is that the film isn’t just mindless excess. The movie’s style gives it action a poetic quality that I’ve never seen duplicated, and the film’s message of brotherhood and loyalty is gut wrenching at times. Plain and simple though, the film is just overwhelmingly awesome, as its final 40 MINUTE action sequence builds to both an explosive finale that nearly killed everyone on set and then a personal and satisfyingly bad ass coda of violence and redemption.

2: Die Hard – Is there a film more synonymous with the American Action film than Die Hard? Bruce Willis showed us just how gritty a hero could get as his everyman has to use his brains to try and outwit a skyscraper full of terrorists. With heart-stopping action, one-liners galore, and maybe one of the greatest movie villains of all time, Die Hard is a near perfect experience. This one goes to show that you don’t need to $100 million dollar budgets or huge CGI monsters to totally blow your audience away.

3: Raiders of the Lost Ark – They say there’s an 8 year-old kid in every grown man. If there is, there’s no better way to get it out of him than to make him watch Raiders. The child-like glee in this film is matched only by its amazing storyline and the ferocity of its action, as Harrison Ford becomes one of the greatest screen heroes of all time while he battles the Nazis with the fate of the world in the balance. Few Action movies get nominated for Oscars; this one was nominated for Best Picture and probably wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it had won.

4: The Road Warrior – I’m not sure why this one never gets mentioned in the argument about the best sequels of all time, because The Road Warrior blows it’s predecessor out of the water, as well as 99% of other Action flicks. With barely ten minutes of dialogue in the entire movie, George Miller’s post-apocalyptic epic let’s it action do the talking. 91 truck chasing, shotgun wielding, stuntman crippling minutes later, the movie says all it needs to say, and we’re the ones left speechless.

5: Goldfinger – While Bond movies are almost a genre in and of themselves, this one still stands out as the best, even with Daniel Craig’s initial outing blowing all expectations out of the water. The formula just all comes together here and Bond has never been the same since, and he definitely hasn’t been better.

Question #2 John Woo is one of your favorite directors. Which five directors do you think he could take in a fistfight?

1: The Wachowski Brothers Sitting in his car, waiting for his brother to come out of a West Hollywood nightclub, Andy Wachowski is startled as a foot crashes through his driver side window and he’s dragged out of his car into the street. Woo stands over The Matrix co-director and gives him punch to the face that seems to come at him in poetic slow motion, but with an intensity to the pain that comes with an equally measured pace. As he turns away from the fallen brother, Woo notices Larry Wachowski running straight at him, clad in a black trench coat. Readying himself, Woo catches the more reclusive Wachowski with a double fisted shot to the solar plexus, and then finishes him off with a vicious roundhouse to the face. As the Larry falls just feet from his brother with blood in his eyes, the dazed Wachowskis actually crawl past each other and finally pass out from exhaustion. Woo strolls off triumphant in the knowledge that the two men would probably never rip off his style ever again.

2: Michael Bay Talking on the phone to an entertainment magazine as he walks out his front door, Bay is yelling at the top of his lungs defending his vapid, soulless popcorn flicks. On his second step out the door, he’s met with a spin kick similar to the one Tom Cruise delivers to Dougray Scott in Mission: Impossible II. Lying face down, Bay is met with three kicks to the stomach, one for Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor and Armageddon. As he regains consciousness, Bay hears Woo’s soft spoken voice warning him that “Transformers 2 better be good or else.”

3: Peter Jackson Perhaps the hefty Peter Jackson that made Lord of the Rings could take Woo, but the tired looking, skinny, post-Kong Jackson doesn’t stand a chance. Tapping Jackson on the shoulder, Woo hits the New Zealander straight in the jaw with a right cross, knocking out two of his teeth. Jackson stumbles back in surprise, and tries to come back with a haymaker that misses as Woo ducks the blow and knees Jackson in the groin. A host of elves and wizards hoist Jackson on a stretcher as Woo rides away on a Harley-Davidson, off to find his next victim.

4: Steven Spielberg “The Beard” may feel bad ass surrounded by the likes of Eric Bana or Harrison Ford, but once alone Woo makes short work of him with a gut punch that has the Hook director doubling over in pain. Hallucinating from the anguish of the punch, Spielberg reaches out with his index finger, trying to reach out to E.T. to make the hurt go away. Woo simply reaches down and breaks the finger, whistling the Indiana Jones theme as he walks into the sunset.

5: James Cameron Filming his latest touchy-feely documentary about a sunken ocean-liner full of luminescent aliens, Woo has to wait till Cameron surfaces from his submarine. Without warning, Woo bum-rushes him, knocking the lanky Cameron down, taking away his height and reach advantage. With no Oscar statue to protect him, Cameron lies defenseless as Woo knocks some sense into him with hard combos to his chin and nose. Cameron, finally realizing what a ridiculous loser he’s been since he won for Titanic and overcome by his loss of manhood, decides to direct another Action movie and the world is right again.

John Cavanagh, Popcorn Junkies Contributor / DVD Lounge Editor:

Question #1 Which five horror movies from the ’70s have been the most influential in hindsight?

1. Jaws – As scary and suspenseful as Jaws is, the reason the movie has become so influential can be summed up in two words: Summer Blockbusters. In the summer of 1975 Steven Spielberg had unintentionally created more than a movie; he made an event that studios have been trying valiantly to emulate every year since.

2. Halloween – There are few films as haunting as John Carpenter’s legendary Halloween. While not the first movie to ever incorporate a slasher theme, it was Halloween that spawned hundreds of imitators. Causing most of the 80s horror to feature killers brandishing a sharp metal object of some sort.

3. Dawn of the Dead – This is the zombie movie by which all others are judged. Dawn is not only a scathing social commentary about consumerism, it’s also one of the most entertaining movies made from the 70s in general — and that’s saying a lot.

4. The Exorcist – Like most horror from its time, The Exorcist manages to tell an intriguing story for adults. Sadly, today’s audiences are mostly stuck watching scary movies starring CW talent and aimed towards kids just entering Junior High. But what Exorcist did to make it influential was make occult centric themes not only marketable for studios, but successful as well.

5. Alien – The best thing about this Ridley Scott science fiction classic is his use of mood and atmosphere. Using the lighting and claustrophobic settings to keep the audience in a suspended state of unrest. It also never allowed the viewers to feel safe by picking off the characters methodically one by one. Sadly, this is also something many movies have tried to copy but never manage to strike the same amount of fear.

Question #2 John, you’re known amongst the staff as the man to see when it comes to finding good and unique independent cinema. Name the best five Indy films to be released since the turn of the century.

1. The Best of Youth – I can’t recall the last time a movie has drawn me in the way this one did. Simply put, it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in the new millennium. Granted that’s only seven years but you get my point. You grow such a bond with the characters that when they have tears of joy you do to, and the same is to be said about their sorrow. How many other films can you honestly say that you grew such an emotional attachment to its characters you felt their gripping emotions? This is one of the many positive aspects of the films length, instead of rushing story and character development the slow pace builds a bond that no other movie could compare to.

2.Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – I can’t think of a more heartbreaking cinematic relationship over the past decade than that of Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski. Eternal Sunshine showcases what happens when true lovers of cinema get together and set out make a great movie. It features some of the best work by everyone involved; from Gondry’s unparalleled visionary style, to Carrey’s and Winslet’s memorable and award worthy performances, to Kaufman’s brilliantly crafted screenplay.

3. City of GodCity of God is a gripping tale of gang violence in Rio de Janeiro and the impact it has on the city. Esthetically speaking, everything about it is simply breathtaking. Cinematography, editing, and its unique style of direction all combine in to one of the most painstakingly realistic films I’ve seen in a long time. The characters are believable and the direction flawless.

4. Memento – The best thing about Memento is that when it’s all over and that final piece of the puzzle is put into place, you begin to realize just how simple the story was. Nolan’s story structure continuously forces the audience to rethink everything, all the way up to the closing moments; that’s what makes it such a fascinating film to study. The entire concept, despite hinging on a gimmick, is entirely original which is rare these days.

5. Requiem for a Dream – While many people view the movie as a look at the affects drugs can have on people and their dreams, it also a larger look at addictions in general. A look at how people stick with a harmful repetition because it makes them feel good, their one reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s with this film that Aronofsky made Hollywood take notice, and with his unique style of direction and the performances by the actors involved make this one of the best films of the 21st century.

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