#64: Close Encounters, #86: Mutiny on the Bounty, #78: Rocky, #37: Best Years

Let’s run through a little Brett’s life by the numbers, shall we?

Months since last blog post: 1

Job interviews since last post: 3

Jobs I’ve gotten since last post: 0

Apartment leases signed: 1

Apartment leases canceled: 1

Anxiety attacks/emotional breakdowns since last post: How high can you count?

Movies I’ve watched since last post: 4

Which means I am over 1/10 done with the AFI list and still a nervous unemployed wreck living with my parents.

Despite all of this, a number of red letter days have transpired in the last month.  Chief among those, my girlfriend finally celebrated her 21st birthday (took her long enough).  A certain special someone (Me) planned an elaborate party and invited all her friends to participate in a booze and Bugle filled evening (Bugle meaning the snack, not the instrument.  Thought it should be mentioned that they were a surprise hit at the party for some reason).

Summer has turned to fall as I watched September dissipate before my eyes.  Events that seemed so far away are now right in front of my face.  The biggest of these events is the wedding of my best friend from high school, Brandon.  Not only am I flying to out to Arizona in two weeks, I am the best man for the ceremony.  A definite honor.  But time is speeding by and I don’t have much to show for it.  Finding other things to occupy my time is high on the priority list.  Also making money.

Truth be told, I thought I’d have more movies watched by this time.  I also thought I’d have a job and an apartment, so I guess you can’t always get what you want.  After seeing 12 of the films on the list, you start to pick up on some patterns that earn a place in the top 100.  Here’s some of the ways:

1. The film makes an important statement about the time period in which it was created. A lot of the movies I’ve watched so far take place and were produced during a significant period of history.  And you know what they say, cinema is always the best medicine for recovering from something catastrophic like say… a war or persecution.  If you made a film that tied a nice red bow on a certain era or held a mirror up to America, chances are your movie made the list.  Congratulations!

2. The film is kind of edgy. The AFI Top 100 loves including movies that use exciting new storytelling techniques.  Well, at least as mind expanding to a degree that a typical classic Hollywood cinema can sit through it.  No there are no avant-garde surrealist films or anything on the list, but many of the movies so far have taken familiar film conventions and nudged them outside the box.

3. The film features big name classic movie stars. A number of mediocre films have made the top 100 solely because of a classic actor or actress on the marquee.  I believe the thinking down at AFI is that a star’s film on the list solidifies his or her place in the history of film.  That’s not to say that a number of notable performances by big name actors are undeserving of their spot.  I’m just saying that if you’re Clark Gable, your chances greatly increase.

And yes, I’ve been quite lazy lately about posting a review after seeing a movie.  I hope prospective employers don’t find out.  I am a self motivated worker.

Close_Encounters_posterFor some reason I really didn’t like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (#64) the first time I saw it  back in high school.  Boy did my opinion change the second time.  Richard Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary, a cable worker who virtually goes crazy after an encounter with an alien spacecraft.  The movie follows Neary as he seeks answers to some of life’s biggest questions.  Things like “What is life like on other planets?”  “Why do aliens visit earth?”  “How come a full grown man still plays with his food?”  Spielberg really is a crafty SOB.  He veils most of the film in mystery at the beginning, but pours on the visual “razzle dazzle” and emotional warm fuzzies at the end.

Brett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett Head5 out of 5 Brett Heads

Mutiny_on_the_BountyMutiny on the Bounty (#86) features more beatings and uses of  the word “seamen” then an average adult film.  Fletcher Christian (played by Clark Gable) leads a mutiny against abusive British Naval Captain Bligh (played by Charles Laughton).  Based on a true story, the movie features lots of swashbuckling fun.  However, after the first hour, you get a little tired of the “Hey, this captain’s a total d’ bag and maybe we should do something about it” story line.  Still, a visually impressive epic for it’s time.

Brett HeadBrett HeadBrett Head3 out of 5 Brett Heads

Rocky_posterPretty much every sports movie in history uses Rocky (#78) as a blue print.  Period.  But while other feel good sports films are nothing more than gimmicky training sequences spliced together, the first Rocky film is one of the few to feature genuine heart.  Sylvester Stallone plays Rocky Balboa, an underdog boxer who gets the chance of a lifetime to fight the current heavyweight champion.  Stallone wrote the script and does a fair job of creating the boxer’s life outside of the ring.  Yes, there are gimmicky training sequences, but come on… it’s Rocky.

Brett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett Head4 out of 5 Brett Heads

best_years_of_our_livesWhen deciding what movie I should watch next, I wanted to find a film that was completely unfamiliar to me.  And The Best Years of Our Lives (#37) turned out to be my favorite film on the list so far.  The story tells of three American soldiers as they return home after World War II.  Al (Fredric March), Fred (Dana Andrews), and Homer (Harold Russell) all live in the same town, but experience a very different postwar reality.  War is hell, but so is afterwards.  Post traumatic stress, unemployment and family troubles are just some of the problems they encounter.  Turns out Harold Russell was not an actor, but rather an actual WWII veteran who lost his hands in the war.  Made in 1946, the themes explored in this film might seem a little fresh for the time period.  However, through superb story structure and characterization, these potentially painful topics are handled with care.  Despite my somewhat morose synopsis, this movie ends happily.  I won’t deny it: I cried.

Brett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett Head5 out of 5 Brett Heads


0 Responses to “#64: Close Encounters, #86: Mutiny on the Bounty, #78: Rocky, #37: Best Years”

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