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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:
Ponty’s detailed and impassioned reviews of movies routinely put mine to shame. By comparison, his are erudite, thorough, and nuanced—and almost always include some great clips.
His honorable mention list is no different. Indeed, it’s lists, plural, as we’ll be treated to the second half next week. Rather than running down a bunch of films as I did, Ponty breaks them down into specific categories, featuring foreign films and sci-fi/horror this week. I completely missed foreign films on my lists and my honorable mentions, which is a major oversight. I might be a full-throated closed-borders nationalist on some issues, but when it comes to movies, music, and art, I’m an open borders extremist. Let a thousand Korean flowers bloom!
He also mentions (honorably) quite a few flicks that nearly made my list—several of which would make it on a second go around.
With that, here is the first part of Ponty’s honourable 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:
Ponty picked an impressive film for his #2 slot, one that I wish had made it onto my list (it may end up as an honorable mention!). The Truman Show (1998) is a powerful, surprisingly dark comedy about materialism, consumerism, and mass media, exploring what happens when we take reality television to its logical extreme. What’s fascinating is that this film largely predates reality television, outside of the trash that aired on MTV at the time.
I won’t spoil Ponty’s review (he considerately offers a spoiler alert, but if you haven’t managed to see this flick in the twenty-five years since its release, you’re way outside of the “no spoilers!” statute of limitations), but he touches upon many of the troubling implications of enslaving an unwitting human in an artificial world and broadcasting the results of this forbidden experiment to the world. I, too, wonder how Truman would live outside of the show; a part of me suspects he might go back to the only world he’s ever known, though I hope he never did.
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:
Ponty never ceases to surprise me with his thoughtful picks, and I was not expecting a relatively obscure sci-fi horror thriller in his top three. After reading the review, though, it makes sense—and it really makes me want to see this flick.
Sci-fi and horror tend to be the genres that, when done well, explore stories and concepts that stick in one’s mind for weeks, months, and years after viewing. Cramming six volatile personalities into a mysterious death cube sounds a bit hokey, but the opportunity to explore the frailty and the triumph of the human condition makes it an exquisite, albeit devilish, setup.
How would we behave and react in bizarre, lethal situations? Would we keep our cool? Or—more likely—would be panic, virtually guaranteeing our destruction? Ponty’s #3 pick dives into these uncomfortable questions.
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.