The B+ Movie Guide: Part XXXVI

In May of 2012, Colin said I should make a list of movies that need to be seen, because he felt there were huge gaps in what he’d seen, and wanted something to do. The idea was that I’d make up a list, as “homework” for him, and he’d use that as things to watch.

So we came up with a giant list of 500 movies that worked, and Colin went about finishing it. And now that it’s finished, we’re gonna write it up. Because you don’t watch a giant list of movies without documenting that you did it.

We’re going through the entire list, little by little, for posterity’s sake. And here’s the next set:

Being There (1979)

Mike:

Peter. Sellers. That’s it. See this movie. It’s absolutely perfect, and in case you don’t know what it is, it’s famous for this shot:

Being There - 55

(2)

Colin:

This movie was probably the best example of the — forgive me for this — magic retard trope (because you KNOW that’s what they call it in Hollywood) until Forrest Gump. Peter Sellers plays a gardener who isn’t really all there, and he charms everyone. He also ends up giving major economic advice during a crisis with stupid gardening metaphors that politicians mistake for market wisdom. I was an econ major in college in 2009 when Ben Bernanke made a speech about how he could see “green shoots” appearing as the economic winter receded, and I didn’t get why people were making Peter Sellers jokes at the time. I watched this and belly laughed, understanding full well just how nerdy that reference is. 

The China Syndrome (1979)

Mike:

One of the great underrated 70s movies. It’s a different kind of disaster movie. Jack Lemmon is a nuclear power plant employee who is trying to warn everyone that the plant has taken some shortcuts on safety protocols and it’s gonna lead to bad things happening if they don’t fix it. Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas are a reporter and her cameraman who are there reporting on things. Meanwhile, Lemmon decides to take everyone hostage in order to tell everyone what’s going on. And there’s this really interesting political scenario that happens, where they do all they can to cover up their misdeeds and paint Lemmon as a psychopath. It’s one of those movies that makes you angry as a viewer. It makes you want to take action. I love when a movie makes you pissed about issues. (3)

Colin:

As a kid, I thought this was a Bruce Lee movie until my dad put it on and there were surprisingly few Asians in it. Turns out I was thinking of The Chinese Connection. Which… same decade, I guess? But I did rewatch this because it’s not super often you get Jack Lemmon in a serious role, and every time he does one, I love it. Think about it — stuff like The Days of Wine and Roses or Glengarry Glen Ross. He’s a really powerful actor in his own right, and this is where you see him serious and seriously pissed off for a good chunk of time.

One other great thing about this movie is how much of it is shot looking down on a control room with dials and gauges everywhere. There’s nothing better than a control room. Wait, I need to correct myself. Nothing better than a hostage situation in a control room.

kramer-vs-kramer-24

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Mike:

One of the most honest movies about divorce there is. It’s really well done. The secret to it is that neither parent is made the villain. And it’s a really touching film. I’m also a huge fan of the sequel, Kramer vs. Kramer vs. The Volcano. (Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Alien vs. Predator was terrible though.) (2)

Colin:

Kramer vs. Kramer vs. The People vs. Larry Flynt vs. King Kong vs. Godzilla is going to be amazing.

I went through my parents’ divorce when I was a teeny kid — worked out great, actually — and seeing this movie brought some of that back. There are a lot of movies that feature divorced parents and such, and a lot of movies in which parents get divorced, but they usually gloss over it and move onto whoever the new step-parents are and stuff like that. This is an entire movie about a guy who loves his kid and has to learn to be a good dad on the fly to make things work. There aren’t many audiences (or many courts, it turns out) who will support the father in a custody battle, but this one makes you want to slap Meryl Streep. She and Hoffman are incredible in this.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

Endlessly quotable, side-splittingly funny, and easily the best SNL movie ever to hit the big screen. I say this as a massive fan of Wayne’s World. The musicians in this. Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles. Not to mention the entire Blues Brothers band. Henry Gibson as a neo-Nazi, John Candy as a cop, Carrie Fisher as John Belushi’s murderous girlfriend, Frank Oz as a prison guard, pre-Pee Wee Paul Reubens as a snooty waiter and Stephen Spielberg as a city clerk. What’s not to like? If you don’t enjoy this movie, I have no idea what to do because life must be a dark and upsetting experience for you.

Airplane! (1980)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

“Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

Caddyshack (1980)

Mike:

(2)

Colin:

Aw, I miss Rodney Dangerfield. Everyone knows this movie, come on. I’m not writing anything for this movie. If you have seen it, cool. If not, what are you doing?

The Elephant Man - 29

The Elephant Man (1980)

Mike:

The best thing about people seeing this is realizing it was directed by David Lynch. Because this is not a very David Lynch movie. But it’s also terrific. One of those movies that often gets overlooked as a masterpiece. (2)

Colin:

This didn’t feel like a David Lynch movie at all, but it also didn’t feel like a movie from 1980. Not even a period piece from 1980. It’s black and white, and beautifully shot in a way that makes it feel as though someone had made it in the 50s and dusted it off for a 1980 release.

Unfortunately, I can’t watch this movie without being reminded of how Michael Jackson allegedly tried to buy the Elephant Man’s bones. And how on one occasion, when asked if he actually owned them, he supposedly replied, “What? I don’t know!”

The Empire Strikes Back - 734

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Mike:

Yeah, you fucking strike back, Empire! (2)

Colin:

There’s no reason for me to write anything about this here when we already wrote about it at length in our final thoughts for Fun with Franchises way back when.

Let’s all pause to appreciate Mike’s statement: “I love Hoth, I love everything that happens on Hoth.”

I can’t not read that in a Donald Trump voice.

Ordinary People

Ordinary People (1980)

Mike:

It beat Raging Bull for Best Picture. It’s essential for that reason alone. But also it’s a terrific movie. As a movie, it’s really good. Mary Tyler Moore is so good. And Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton and Judd Hirsch. It’s really well done. (3)

Colin:

For whatever reason, though… I just had this uneasy feeling for the whole movie because I felt like they made a mistake in not casting Shelley Winters.

How many more times do think I’ll get to reference Shelley Winters’ movie characters drowning? 

raging-bull-1

Raging Bull (1980)

Mike:

But seriously, did you fuck my wife? (2)

Colin:

Hadn’t seen this movie before the list. Have now seen it. That’s what we call ‘correcting an injustice.’

– – – – – – – – – –

Final Thoughts:

Mike:

I like that there are a few comedies on here. I’m glad I managed to work a bunch of comedies in there.

Colin:

There are now comedies, because we’re into the 1980s, which means comedies, action, and sci-fi. And combinations of any two of those. That’s actually how I see the 80s. And by the way, I do NOT love the 80s. Sorry, VH1. I was born in the 80s (barely), but I have to say that they mostly suck for the things that I like. That doesn’t mean great movies didn’t come out of the 80s, but if I had to pick a decade between 1920 and 2000 to erase from film history, the 1980s would be near the top of my list. Cause the 20s-70s aren’t going anywhere. So you’ve got the 80s or the 90s. But they also had bad fashion, bad cars, whatever music, whatever TV, awful Bond movies… yeah, here we are, folks.

– – – – – – – – – – –

More movies tomorrow.

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