Movie Miscellany

Shadowy figures of Tiana and the Frog Prince backlit in swampy alcove

The lateness of the hour, and the fact that everyone else in the multiplex was there to see Avatar on opening night, meant that the handful of us taking in The Princess and the Frog had the screening room almost entirely to ourselves. I found it absolutely magical. The Nine Old Men would be proud of this return to “2D” fairy-tale charm, and for it to be overlooked amidst the year-end onslaught of tent-pole spectacles and Oscar bait — worthy as those might be, too — is a tragedy.

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Stefan Blitz has posted the final installment of Forces of Geek’s 101 Most Watchable Movies of All Time, counting down the top vote-getters with commentary from columnists and friends of the site. I’m surprised by which favorites of mine didn’t make the cut. Too many of the movies that did make it failed to evoke the requested pithy quotes from me, and quite a few of them I haven’t seen even once, but they’d make a heck of a festival. Here are my own contributions.

Airplane! — “I speak jive.”

Citizen Kane — You can watch it for the acting, for the cinematography, for the astounding details pointed out in Roger Ebert’s commentary, or simply to remind yourself of just how much pop-culture history is traceable to this film. There’s a reason why it’s a metaphor: It’s the Citizen Kane of movies.

Grease — I could sing the soundtrack in my sleep and wake up dancing.

King Kong (original) — I’ve seen the DVD extras dissecting the miniature work, and I still buy every damn frame of the film. Up yours, CGI.

The Muppet Movie — ♪ Plinky-plinky-plinky-plinky-plink…

Planet of The Apes (original) — Okay, “you damn dirty apes,” Statue of Liberty, blah blah blah... The coolest thing about this movie? I’m not afraid to admit that I have a bit of a crush on Zira, and maybe Cornelius too.

The Princess Bride — Fifty bucks if you can come up with a line from this film that isn’t quotable.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — We thrilled to the gang getting back together and precious little else in the first motion picture, then finally got a new, big-screen episode of Star Trek in the second, capped by one of the most heartbreakingly memorable scenes in Trek canon. Also, “Khaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!”

Superman — Not for the buffoonery of the Lex Luthor gang, but for the wisdom of Jonathan Kent; for young Clark in Smallville; for “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”; for that John Williams score; and for Christopher Reeve, who takes off his glasses, stands up straight, and becomes the Man of Steel in Lois Lane’s apartment with nary a change of costume.

Various DC characters taking to the sky under their own power or in planes and rocketships

My local Five Below recently expanded its DVD section. I don’t care much about
owning movies these days or I’d have scooped up a bunch. Of course what ends up at Five Below is overstock and such — plain editions now displaced by extras-laden reissues, flat-out unpopular titles, or less-desirable formats like “fullscreen” — but the HD/regular-DVD combo of Justice League: The New Frontier that I found was a no-brainer for me. While Blu-Ray may have won out as the industry standard over HD-DVD, and I’m sure the double-sided disc means some loss in technical fidelity, the regular-DVD side plays fine for my purposes. Based on reviews it doesn’t hold up to the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel it’s adapted from, which is no surprise given the limitations of running time and budget inherent in even the best direct-to-video efforts. I’d like to see it anyway, though, and now I can watch it and listen to both commentary tracks at my leisure — one from Cooke and the other from a half-dozen folks including Dave Bullock, Andrea Romano, and Bruce Timm, whose names will be recognized by aficionados of modern Warner Bros. Animation projects.

Related: Bowled Over 41 Favorites: #1-3 Curls on Film

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