Lazy Sunday CLXXXI: More Movies XXXIV: Portly’s Best Films, Part II

The countdown-cum-retrospective continues with my #7-#5 picks for the best films of all time.  I’m very satisfied with my picks for #6 and #5, although I think I would reconsider #7 and add it to my honorable mentions list.  I do think Krull (1983) is a fun film, but putting it among the best films is, perhaps, giving it too much credit.

Happy Sunday—and Happy Viewing!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Best Films: #4: Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2 (2003-2004)

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.

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 2003-2004’s Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Best Films: #4: The Cable Guy (1996)

The 1990s were the golden age of comedy films, churning out one classic, genre-defining masterpiece after another.  It was also the moment of Jim Carrey’s rise to comedy superstardom.

For a kid in the 1990s, Jim Carrey was a demigod.  His films were hilarious, cartoonish, madcap, irreverent, ribald, raunchy—and all must-sees.  Jim Carrey could do no wrong.

Then, in 1996—when yours portly was at the ripe old age of eleven—Jim Carrey made his first career misstep with The Cable Guy.  It still had all the great Carrey-esque antics we’d come to love, but the film’s dark comedy threw audiences and critics alike a curveball, and they weren’t quite sure what to make of it.  The flick was panned at the time, and the consensus is that it was a potential career-killer for Carrey.  Even The Simpsons decried the film as the one that “nearly ruined Jim Carrey’s career”:

But as is often the case—like with wearing masks in elementary schools and forcing toddlers to take experimental gene therapy injections—the general consensus was deadly wrong.  The Cable Guy (1996) was the best film of Jim Carrey’s 1990s output, and it’s my pick for my #4 best film.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Best Films: #5: Rear Window (1954)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly two months since Ponty’s #6 pick in our countdown of the Top Ten Best Films.  A combination of Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, and Ponty struggling through a gnarly sinus infection pushed back our foray into the halfway mark of his reviews until now.  We also went into reviews of two classic Christmas films across three different authors, but now we’re back!

I grew up in a house full of Alfred Hitchcock.  My mom has always been a big fan of the portly director, and issues of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine still clutter bookshelves and spare crannies all over my parents’ Queen Anne-style home (built in 1901!).

It’s a tad remarkable, then, that I have not (yet) considered any of the director’s films in my own list.  That is a massive oversight on my part.  Thanks for Ponty for expanding beyond my 1980s myopia with a classic Hitchcock gem.

As always, he delivers.  Just reading his review reminds me of how intense this thriller is—and makes me eager to watch it again.

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 1954’s Rear Window:

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Delayed Monday Morning Movie Review: A Very Portly Christmas: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

My sincerest apologies again to readers:  I am extremely delayed with this review (as readers will note, this Monday review is going up on a Thursday—d’oh!).  Like a good little port, I re-watched 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life two or three weeks ago, when Audre, Ponty, and I agreed to review it and the 1951 Alistair Sim version of A Christmas Carol earlier in December.  I was writing and editing like the wind to get most everything done before departing for a pre-Christmas trip to Arizona (more on that in a separate post), but didn’t quite manage to get it all done.

As I’ll detail in another post, I spent the first quarter of Christmas Day driving from western Kentucky down through Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Augusta, before finally reaching my parents’ home in western South Carolina.  I’d managed to get posts done through Christmas, thanks to a delayed connecting flight in Minneapolis, but was unable to get much more writing done beyond that.  Christmas Eve saw me convoying to Kentucky from my older brother’s home in Indianapolis; I spent a frosty Christmas Eve with his in-laws on their farm, before setting out early Christmas morn along the route delineated above.

That’s all to say that, despite my chubbiest efforts, I was not able to get everything done.  Facing the prospect of writing this review late on Christmas night, I put it off, hoping I’d knock it out Monday evening—to no avail.

But I digress—enough excuses.  What about the film?

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Monday Morning Movie Review: A Very Portly Christmas: A Christmas Carol (1951)

Now it’s yours portly’s turn to step up to the plate and take a swing at review a timeless Christmas classic, the 1951 adaptation of A Christmas CarolPonty did the film a great service, and I must confess I read his review before viewing the film, which somehow—shamefully!—had slipped through my viewing until this point in my life.

Such is the peril of editing guest contributions:  I have to read them in order to write a pithy introduction and to get them scheduled.  As such, I’ve read Ponty’s review, which has already been published, and Audre‘s review, which will pop this Wednesday, 21 December 2022.  I’ve tried my best to stick to my own thoughts on the film, but Ponty’s review in particular really enhanced my viewing of the film.  He doesn’t spoil anything, but his analysis of some of the scenes is quite insightful.

A Christmas Carol has been on my mind a good bit lately.  Over Thanksgiving I reconnected with a college classmate from a Fiction Workshop class I took my senior year, herself a self-published author.  She has been brainstorming ideas with me about an alternate telling of A Christmas Carol involving Scrooge and restorative, romantic relationship—a God-centered romance that turns the acquisitive, miserly Scrooge into the generous, giddy soul we see at the end of the film.  I won’t reveal more, but it’s a fun project, and in line with her approach to writing.

All digressions aside, I must echo the sentiments of my contributors:  the 1951 version starring Alistair Sim as the sinister Scrooge is one of the most arresting bits of storytelling I’ve ever seen set to film.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Best Films: #5: Back to the Future (1985)

A recent installment of Open Mic Adventures inspired this pick, which I knew would show up on my list somewhere.  I’m not sure where I intended to put it, but I knew it would be in the top five; indeed, it should probably be higher, but it’s fresh on my mind, so I’m putting it at #5.

The film is one of the enduring classics of the 1980s.  It hit theaters on my half-birthday—3 July 1985—and was ever-present during my childhood on VHS (recorded from television broadcasts, of course).  The film franchise even inspired the name of my old brass quintet, Brass to the Future.

The flick, of course, is Robert Zemeckis’s science-fiction classic Back to the Future (1985).

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Best Films: #6: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Ponty’s list of flicks has been full of pleasant surprises, and his #6 pick is no exception.  I wasn’t expecting a dark comedy from 1944—a “farce,” as Ponty calls it.

Like his review—surprisingly succinct coming from our loquacious Ponty—I don’t have much to add.  Let’s just say I’ve always wanted to see this film, and thanks to Ponty, I can finally do that—he includes a link to the full flick on YouTube.  You can, too, and I encourage you to do so.

It also gets bonus points in my book because Boris Karloff was in the stage version, and would have been in the film if the producers hadn’t been worried about stripping the stage production of its entire leading cast.  Sorry, Boris—you deserved better!

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 1944’s Arsenic and Old Lace:

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Best Films: #6: Goodfellas (1990)

After taking last week off from movie reviews to celebrate Halloween, I’m back with my #6 pick for the best movies of all time.

Unfortunately, I’m struggling with some manner of fever-cum-sinus infection (probably not The Virus, but who even knows anymore), and after an unusual week, I fell behind on my rigorous pre-scheduling of posts.  As such, this review of a truly fantastic film may be a tad shorter than usual.  I doubt it will reach Pontian lengths, to say the least.

That said, I’m excited to write about this flick, even as I’m over here hacking up a lung.  It’s a movie that combines two of my favorite topics—mid-twentieth-century social history and gangsters—into one thrilling package.

I’m referring, of course, to Martin Scorsese’s 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas.

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