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Ponty wraps up his extended honorable mentions with this third part, and it’s the biggest one yet.
In reading through his lists, I’m struck by how many incredible films have come out in my lifetime. The 1980s through the early 2000s were surely a golden age for engaging storytelling on the big screen. Even crummier films from those decades are far more enjoyable (and significantly less “woke”) than much of the garbage coming out now. I’m not suggesting there are no good films these days—quite the contrary—but those years were sprinkled with fairy dust.
Ponty leaves no cinematic stone unturned. He told me he had spent four hours writing this list—and at that point, he wasn’t even finished! I don’t think I’ve ever spent four hours on a blog post. Kudos to him: this list is a true labor of love, and we’re all the beneficiaries of his pen.
With that, here is Ponty’s third and final installment of honorable mentions:
Ponty is a good chap, but brevity isn’t exactly his strong suit. That is a fortunate for the rest of us, because it means we get more of his meaty, delicious commentary on films!
My good buddy from across the pond did quite a bit of fretting over his honorable mentions lists. He initially promised (threatened?) three installments, then insisted he could whittle it down to two, then realized it would have to be a trilogy after all.
In my mind, three posts means one fewer I have to write, so bring it on! Let a thousand honorable mentions bloom! Ponty probably would write one thousand installments, divided into extreme micro-niches (“Italian body horror with practical effects werewolf transformations and witchcraft,” for example), but he has more important literary endeavors, and I don’t want to exploit the old boy.
All friendly teasing aside, Ponty’s done it again, with an extensive list of films. He ladles tons of love into the action/sci-fi genre, featuring some instant classics. Again, I’m prompted to ask myself, “Why didn’t I think of these films?”
With that, here is Ponty’s second installment of his Hono[u]rable Mentions:
We’re nearly there! Tomorrow I’ll be featuring my Honorable Mention flicks, and Ponty’s Honourable Mentions after that (in a pared down two-parter, according to Ponty, as opposed to the possible three-parter he originally envisioned). Then it’s on to our #1 picks. What will they be?
Until we find out, here are Ponty’s picks for slots 4, 3, and 2, and they’re all quite good:
Talk about a lightning-in-a-bottle cultural phenomenon. The series is the kind that is profoundly a product of the age of streaming, yet it hearkens back to the horror miniseries of the 1980s and 1990s—rich, multi-episode arcs; tight story construction; and satisfying pay-offs that reward loyal viewing. I also appreciate that the show doesn’t overstay its welcome with bloated seasons. The Duffer Brothers tell the story they want to tell without stretching their material thin.
Ponty sent me this epic review of the first four seasons of the show (the fifth and, it seems, final season is coming soon), and it’s surely his reviewing magnum opus. Audre Myers wrote her own review of the series last year, which overlaps somewhat with Ponty’s, but they both bring different insights into the show.
I don’t have much left to add that Ponty hasn’t said better. With that, here is Ponty’s series review of Stranger Things:
I’m back from my trip safe and sound, but I’m still a bit behind with posts. I’ll be running my #3 pick for the best films of all time tomorrow—a week late! That’s given good ol’ Ponty a bit of breathing room for his next review.
Of course, I must apologize to Ponts: this retrospective of his #7-5 picks is going up fairly late in the day for a Sunday. I like to have posts up by 6:30 AM, as it seems to help with my English readership (which is growing all the time thanks in no small part to Ponty’s promotional efforts). Here’s hoping this short list of his picks will gain some traction regardless.
Without further ado, here are Ponty’s top picks in the lower five:
Ponty always delivers some of the most thoughtful and poignant film reviews, and this week’s installment is no different. He’s really nailed the essence of these films, which are properly understood as two parts of one larger film.
I’m also impressed with Ponty’s rigor in making his picks; he’s much more intentional about his choices than I am. I’m impressed with the way he considers his picks carefully, and it’s apparent that he really struggled with what to put into this #4 slot.
But, wow, what a pick! When these flicks came out in 2003-2004 I was just starting college, and managed to largely miss them. I always thought (and still somewhat do think) that the title is stupid, but it does say what the flicks are about.
There’s where any stupidity ends. The Old West meets The Mystical East, all with Uma Thurman slicing and dicing through baddies. It’s grindhouse and kung-fu and everything trashy and awesome thrown into one super-long flick.
Every now and then we get something for Christmas that really sparks our imaginations, allowing them to run—or, in this case, drive—wildly to other lands. For a young Portly, it was receiving a copy of Sid Meier’s Civilization II from my aunt one Christmas. That game opened up vast new worlds and incredible historical “what-ifs,” and was partially responsible for my decision to study and teach history for a living.
Travel guides have always been one of my favorite genres, too. Sure, travelogues are more engaging and adventurous, but travel guides let us learn about places without a great deal of authorial embellishment. We get the basics about an area, and then can put ourselves immediately into those places, imagining visiting the great sites and destinations—or the backwater burgs and forgotten byways—of the world.
Ponty captures that spirit of adventure and fun in this touching, personal, and engaging little piece about his imaginary—and, let us hope, someday real!—travels around the United States.
With that, here’s Ponty with some reflections on Christmas and road trips:
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is one of those films that holds a special place in the hearts of millions, myself among them. I’ll never forget watching it one Christmas night on the floor of my paternal grandfather’s den, he in his recliner, my cousins and myself on our bellies. Implausibly, I was allowed to stay and watch it while my parents took my brothers home (we lived probably twenty or thirty minutes away at the time, and my mom loathed the inefficiency of multiple trips anywhere—a thrifty trait I have inherited), and my dad came and picked me up afterwards. I was happy and utterly exhausted, but I’ll never forget that good old mom made me take a bath anyway, even though I could barely keep my eyes open.
Ask anyone who has seen this film, especially in childhood, and they’ll have a similar story. Ponty relates his own tale in this wonderful review, and it’s something that contributes to the timeless and heartwarming quality of the flick. It’s a Wonderful Life is not just a movie, but an experience, something shared across generations, and indelibly linked, for as long as film as a medium exists, to Christmas and family and love.
It’s still two weeks to New Year’s Day, and while there’s plenty of time for some wayward posts to take off—or some new ones to exceed the three listed here—it’s the last Sunday of the year that isn’t Christmas. As such, I decided to do the best (in terms of views) posts of 2022 today.
I’m not complaining—I think it’s great!—but the mystery intrigues me.
Well, enough of that! Here are 2022’s Top Three Posts:
“Driving the Georgia Backroads” (384 views) – I actually wrote this post in 2021, so I suppose it’s technically ineligible for this list… but I’ve already written the lengthy preamble about it and I’d rather not mess around with changing it (remember—it’s Lazy Sunday). Regardless, it’s about driving the backroads to Athens, Georgia, and all the quaint little communities along the way.
“Alone” (157 views) – True to human nature, we all love tales of woe and misery. “Alone” was my magnum opus to heartbreak (actually, my magnum opus to heartbreak is my solo EP, Contest Winner EP). I was at a low point, one from which I clawed myself, but I’m a bit back at square one. Oops!