Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936, Directed by Frank Capra) English 9

Starring Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft

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(9-Great Film)

Charming. Wonderful. Classic.

That Gary Cooper, a million leagues away from actually being an “everyman,” could so effortlessly and movingly play one in this film deserves much applause. He plays Longfellow Deeds, a noble average Joe, who inherits a massive fortune from a distant relative. Jean Arthur, one of my favorite movie stars, plays Babe Bennett, a cynical reporter out to get the big scoop, on Deeds. She, of course, begins to fall for him. Douglas Dumbrille plays John Cedar, a greedy lawyer, posing as Deeds’ financial advisor. A true classic. One of Capra’s greats and he made several.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Punch-Drunk Love (2002, Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) English 9

Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Luis Guzman

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(9-Great Film)

Idiosyncratic. Appealing. Frenetic.

An implosive and lonely bathroom supply salesman, Barry (Sandler), constantly bullied by his seven sisters, finds love when he meets one of those sister’s coworker, Lena (Watson). It’s probably too strange for the mainstream, and some might find its peculiar soundtrack grating, but this is a great movie. The movement, that soundtrack, and the suspense of watching an always on-edge Sandler give the film a sense of energy and a tone sustained to the end. I think it’s the best depiction of the anxiety and desperation that can sometimes come with love.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Luck of the Irish (1948, Directed by Henry Koster) English 6

Starring Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Cecil Kellaway, Lee J. Cobb, Jayne Meadows

Image result for the luck of the irish 1948(6-Good Film)

Light. Whimsical. Enjoyable.

Stephen Fitzgerald (Power), an uptight newspaper journalist, takes a trip with a friend to Ireland and meets a leprechaun named Horace (Kellaway). Rather than take all the creature’s gold as he’s entitled to do, he continues on his merry way, and Horace, out of gratitude sets about repaying him, though his form of help is often more trouble than it’s worth. Anne Baxter stars as a local beauty Fitzgerald meets while in Ireland. A whimsical romantic comedy that’s very well-written and acted. I can’t tell if the Irish accents done by both the American Baxter and the South African Kellaway are done right or not so that never factored in for me.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Sleeping Beauty (1959, Directed by Clyde Geronimi) English 5

Voices of Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Taylor Holmes

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Slight. Uninspired. Mediocre.

Cursed by the bitter fairy, Maleficent, Princess Aurora is destined to die at the age of sixteen from being pricked by a spindle. Her fairy godmothers alter the curse as best they can so that instead of death she will be put in eternal sleep. That’s where a prince comes in. Oddly blasé work from pretty good source material by the Disney people, this classic is not especially thrilling, funny, romantic, musical, or scary. Perfectly mediocre.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


About a Boy (2002, Directed by Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz) English 8

Starring Hugh Grant, Nicholas Hoult, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz, Natalia Tena, Sharon Small

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Endearing. Witty. Appealing.

Hugh Grant mixes both sides of his persona (the cad and the charming leading man) in his role as Will Freeman, a selfish, childless, responsibility-free adult who gets mixed up with a beleaguered preteen boy, Marcus Brewer (Hoult), and gradually begins to care for him. About a Boy, based on a novel by Nick Hornby, is awfully sentimental, but so consistently witty that it never becomes overbearing. Grant and Hoult, as well as their costars, are excellent and the filmmaking team of brothers Chris and Paul Weitz demonstrate an abundance of style.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Strictly Ballroom (1992, Directed by Baz Luhrmann) English 8

Starring Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, Barry Otto, Sonia Kruger, Gia Carides

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Vivacious. Uplifting. Fun.

Aussie dance flick from the director of Moulin Rouge (2001), this flamboyant musical follows Scott Hastings (Mercurio) as he goes for Gold in the form of the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix dance competition. His longtime dance partner and girlfriend has left him, leaving him to team up with the shy, frumpy Fran (Morice) in order to achieve his dream. It’s a very fun film. The music and dancing are great and, the hyperkinetic style of editing, which is initially jarring, settles in eventually.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Definitely, Maybe (2008, Directed by Adam Brooks) English 8

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, Derek Luke, Abigail Breslin, Kevin Kline

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Intriguing. Likable. Fresh.

Maya Hayes (Breslin) demands that her father (Reynolds) tell her the story of how he and her mother fell in love. He tells her the story, but includes two other romances in his life and changes the names so she doesn’t know which one ends up being her mother. As Maya puts it, it’s like a romantic mystery. Great or even very good romantic comedies are few and far between. It’s rare that I see one that is actually romantic and funny. Definitely, Maybe succeeds on both counts. The mystery element in the film is interesting, and, ultimately, you want him to end up with the person he ends up with (and isn’t that all that matters). Granted, it’s a little far-fetched that he would be telling a lot that happens to his 12-year-old daughter, but besides that, the film is smart, well-acted, and well-written.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-