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!
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.
If readers thought my placement of 1983’s sci-fi/fantasy/swashbuckler Krull at #7 was shocking, this week’s #7 pick from Ponty will truly blow your staggered minds. From the man who just wrote about Halloween(1978), I’d never expect a splashy musical.
I remember seeing this flick back in 2016 on a date, and remember enjoying it (not just due to the excellent execution and story, but probably thanks to Emma Stone—shew!). Suddenly, my students wanted to play “City of Stars” all the time, and jazz piano enjoyed an all-too-brief resurgence.
Ponty gives it a very thorough review, as you’ll see, that really brings out some of the sparkling details of the film without spoiling anything. It probably also holds the distinction of being the only review of a film musical to reference Grand Theft Auto 5, so that should be worth something.
With that, here is Ponty’s review of 2016’s La La Land:
While we’re still outside of the Top Five—where the rubber really hits the road, and the picks have to correspond to actual, objective quality, and not just the passing whims of two amateur film reviewers—I’ve got to squeeze in another personal favorite. To say this week’s pick is one of the “best” films is, perhaps, a stretch.
Really, no “perhaps” about it—it was a box office bomb and, while it has attained a certain cult status, it has not risen to the heights of many films with that dubious distinction. Many “cult classics” are viewed overly fondly, as if to counteract the overly negative reviews at the time of the film’s release. My #7 pick has enjoyed a bit of an improved reputation since its release, but its reviews are still mixed.
But for me, it’s a great film—a bit of swashbuckling, sci-fi/fantasy fun that bends and blends genres like a wet noodle in a food processor: somehow, the finished product comes out tasting pretty good, even if it doesn’t make any sense.
Should 1983’s adventure Krull go on my honorable mentions post? Probably. Am I placing it higher on my list than the (objectively better) films behind it? You bet.
I particularly love how Ponty opens his review discussing the impact of music in film. Horror soundtracks now seem to be riddled with clichés, like sustained dissonant chords and screechy violin glissandos. But John Carpenter and others were composing actual music that sounded creepy without resorting to silly gimmicks. What kid doesn’t sit down at the piano this time of year and try to pick out that theme?
Well, I won’t give much more away; it’s an excellent, lovingly-crafted review.
With that, here is Ponty’s review of 1978’s Halloween:
Ponty has been plugging away at this Top Ten Best Films, and as I predicted, he’s suffering from an embarrassment of riches. Doing the bad films was difficult in some ways, but if you call a “bad” film wrong, it’s no big deal—no one would watch it, anyway.
Good films, while rarer, are still abundant enough to make the selection process difficult. Just when you think you have a sense for your list, you’re reminded of some classic that you managed to forget in the depths of your memory hole.
That was my experience when reading Ponty’s #9 pick. I love this film (which came out when I was in college), but somehow it had slipped my mind for consideration in my own list. What a fool I was! As Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote (to paraphrase, since I don’t feel like looking up the exact quotation): “We don’t need to be taught so much as we need to be reminded.” So true!
Well, Ponty did an excellent job reminding me in this impressive review.
This week’s film is going in my #9 slot, but I think it deserves to be much higher. I’ve been busy, though, and have not painstakingly plotted out my top ten, as I’m sure Ponty has done. Instead, I’m going week-by-week with my favorites, including those that are top-of-mind for me.
That said, I love this film, and once this list is finished, I might have to edit the order to the “real” one.
Regardless, it’s my distinct pleasure to review one of the best family comedies ever written, John Hughes’s incomparable Uncle Buck(1989):
We’re nearing the end of this long retrospective of mine and Ponty’s lists of the ten worst films, and back to Ponty this week. His excoriation of Elf (2003) nearly landed me in hot water with my girlfriend’s family, who thought I wrote the review! Here is what I did write about Elf:
Elf is one of those movies I’ve never seen in its entirety, but I know about all-too-well [sic]. It seems that every girl I’ve ever met loves this movie, but not just with some yuletide enthusiasm; they act like it’s the greatest Christmas film ever made.
Well, it turns out I was right; my girlfriend, her sisters, and her mom were none-too-pleased (is “none-too-pleased” another [sic]-able abuse of hyphens?)! They acted as though I’d blasphemed Jesus (or that Ponty did).
Well, blogging is all about churning up some controversy, right? I imagine they’d be a bit more amenable to Ponty’s next three picks (although Titanic might bring about more howls of female outrage—I’ll report back in a week, if I’m still alive after they read this preamble!):
The Top Ten Best Films list now jumps over to Ponty, who I believe is enjoying a much-deserved holiday this week (although that was possibly last week). Here’s hoping he’s enjoying some peace and quiet.
Speaking of quiet, Ponty’s first pick for his list is a film that explores a terrifying world in which staying quiet is the only way to stay alive. If only students were similarly terrified into shivering silence. Oh, well.
It’s a wonderful picture—one of my favorite recent films, too—and a very intriguing concept, executed extremely well. I could say the same thing about this review, which is exceptionally thorough and interesting (and has me wanting to go back and watch 1963’s Jason and The Argonauts).