Monday, March 20, 2017

The Movies Of My Life (Age 64 Edition)

Recently one of my friends on Facebook shared a list of her favorite films, year by year starting the year she was born.  (Thanks, Jo!)  I thought this looked like a fun idea, but I didn't want to fill up an entire page on Facebook -- 64 is a long list, after all!  So instead I thought I would do it here.

It was hard!

My birth year alone (1953) included From Here To Eternity, Stalag 17, Shane, The Wild One, Invaders from Mars, The Robe, How To Marry A Millionaire, Mogambo, Peter Pan, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Salome, Barabbas, I Vitelloni, It Came From Outer Space, Roman Holiday, Kiss Me Kate, The Master of Ballantrae, Hondo, Dangerous Crossing, Donovan's Brain, Beat the Devil, and House of Wax.  All favorites of mine.

Not to mention Abbot and Costello Go To Mars.

Here is the list.  There were no critical criteria whatsoever in the selection; just a gut reaction.  This is not a list of the Best Films Made During My Lifetime.  Instead, the films that made the list are the ones that gave me the biggest "Oh, I love that movie!!" feeling in my gut as I paged through the film almanac year by year.  And of course, as you will see, there is a ton of equivocation regardless....

1953:  The War of the Worlds
1954:  Rear Window
1955:  The Ladykillers
1956:  Forbidden Planet (Another hard year, with The Wrong Man, The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Searchers, The Killing, Bus Stop, Giant, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers!)
1957:  The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958:  Vertigo
1959:  North By Northwest
1960:  The Magnificent Seven (but...but...Two Women, The Time Machine, Psycho, Never On Sunday, Inherit the Wind, La Dolce Vita, The Apartment....)
1961:  The Guns of Navarone
1962:  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (but...To Kill A Mockingbird....)
1963:  The Birds
1964:  Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
1965:  Alphaville
1966:  The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
1967:  The Dirty Dozen
1968:  The Producers (Yup; picked it over 2001: A Space Odyssey; no contest.)
1969:  True Grit
1970:  Patton
1971:  A Clockwork Orange
1972:  The Godfather
1973:  Don't Look Now
1974:  Young Frankenstein  (incredibly tough choice; Blazing Saddles a close second!)
1975:  The Rocky Horror Picture Show
1976:  Carrie
1977:  Star Wars
1978:  Superman
1979:  All That Jazz
1980:  The Empire Strikes Back (narrowly beating The Shining)
1981:  My Dinner With Andre (yes, over Raiders of the Lost Ark)
1982:  Blade Runner (although I also love The Verdict, the last film I saw with my mom.)
1983:  A Christmas Story
1984:  Ghostbusters (but...The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension....)
1985:  Ran
1986:  Aliens (but...Stand By Me....)
1987:  Raising Arizona (yeah, I know; not The Princess Bride?  What am I, nuts?)
1988:  My Neighbor Totoro
1989:  Batman
1990:  Miller's Crossing (believe it or not, the first "meh" year on the list.  I picked it as the best of a mediocre bunch.  It's merely OK in my book.)
1991:  The Silence of the Lambs
1992:  Aladdin
1993:  Jurassic Park
1994:  Clerks
1995:  Apollo 13
1996:  Fargo
1997:  Princess Mononoke
1998:  Run Lola Run  (Hell, yes!  No contest!)
1999:  The Iron Giant
2000:  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (but...Memento....)
2001:  Spirited Away
2002:  Bowling for Columbine
2003:  Love, Actually
2004:  The Incredibles (but...Shaun of the Dead....)
2005:  March of the Penguins
2006:  An Inconvenient Truth
2007:  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2008:  Wall-E
2009:  Up
2010:  Toy Story 3
2011:  The Descendants
2012:  The Avengers (Marvel)
2013:  Philomena
2014:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
2015:  The Martian
2016:  Deadpool
2017:  The Lego Batman Movie (so far, anyway....)

I'd love to see your lists!  Please post a link in the comments and I'll make sure it's visible to everybody.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What I'm Reading Now: An Actual Comics Post!

Here are some books you should be reading.  All of them are available at your local comics shop, either as original issues, collected editions, or both:

FINDER, by Carla Speed McNeil, available in collected editions and currently serialized in Dark Horse Presents.  FINDER is hard to describe.  "Aboriginal science fiction" has been used and comes closest.  The adventures of a character who works as a "finder" in an amazingly complete and richly textured alternate reality.

MONSTRESS, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, from Image Comics.  Yet another science fiction/fantasy book for which the phrase "lavishly illustrated" was invented.  A basic hero quest book, but with lush, detailed illustrations combining the sensibilities of Ambrose Bierce and the finest manga and anime.  Not to be missed.

MOTOR GIRL by Terry Moore, from his self-publishing house Abstract Studios.  Something completely different.  Terry Moore writes and draws the most amazing stuff.  He came to fame with Strangers In Paradise, which redefined romantic comedy.  He followed it with the sci-fi story Echo and then the horror epic Rachel Rising, all of which are worth your checking out.  His latest is the story of a young war vet who works as a mechanic in a remote desert junkyard and who copes with her PTSD with her imaginary friend and assistant who happens to be a gorilla.  But the UFO's which come to her for repairs might just be the real thing.  Black and white, beautifully illustrated -- nobody draws facial expression, women -- or aliens! -- like Terry Moore.

And finally, the antithesis of wholesome family entertainment:  CLEAN ROOM by Gail Simone and a couple of different artists, depending on which arc of the story you're reading.  CLEAN ROOM is from DC Comics' "Vertigo" imprint.  Ms. Simone has brought new depths to horror with this title.  You will be profoundly disturbed and upset by the goings-on at Ms. Astrid Mueller's facility and its so-called "clean room."  (I will never look at monkeys the same way, ever again.)  This book explores an interesting idea on where evil and our ides of demonic possession might really come from, and like everything Ms. Simone writes, is worth every second of your time.

So, yeah, while I consider myself a diehard DC Comics guy who never misses his monthly fix of Green Lantern and Batman, I also can't recommend these books strongly enough.  And like I said, you can find all of them right now, from the beginning, at your local comics shop.