He Got Game (1998, Directed by Spike Lee) English 8

Starring Denzel Washington, Ray Allen, Milla Jovovich, Rosario Dawson, John Turturro, Jim Brown, Bill Nunn, Ned Beatty, Lonette McKee, Leonard Roberts, Jennifer Esposito

He Got Game (1998)

(8-Exceptional Film)

Stirring. Messy. Bold.

Jake Shuttlesworth: I pray you understand why I pushed you so hard! It was only to get you to that next level, Son. I mean, you’s the first Shuttlesworth that’s ever gonna make it out of these projects, and I was the one who who put the ball in your hand, Son! I put the ball in your crib!

There’s a lot more to it, but at its heart, He Got Game is about a father who pushes his son too hard. There have been countless versions of this story. It’s potent material. He Got Game is one of the more moving examples. Denzel plays Jake Shuttlesworth, a convict given a week’s chance to convince his son, Jesus Shuttlesworth (future NBA star, Allen), the nation’s top high school prospect, to play basketball at the governor’s alma mater. Despite the implausibilty of this scenario and the apparent unrealistic moments involving college recruiting, this movie hits home. I think it’s because character is more important than plot, and Jake is one of Denzel’s finest; as flawed as he is charismatic. The final duel between father and son is powerful, and I even enjoyed the grandiose fantastical touches to end the film. Like several great filmmakers that I admire, Lee doesn’t care much for subtlety. With him, it’s bold stories told boldly. He Got Game reminds me of the flamboyant melodramas of the ’50s. I happen to love those films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Beat the Devil (1953, Directed John Huston) English 4

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollabrigida, Peter Lorre, Robert Morley, Bernard Lee, Edward Underdown

Beat the Devil - Blueprint: Review

(4-Bad Film)

Silly. Uneven. Unfocused.

O’Hara: Time. Time. What is time? Swiss manufacture it. French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook.

Billed as a spoof of the director-star’s earlier success, The Maltese Falcon, Beat the Devil seems to me, not a spoof but an incompetent retelling. With John Huston directing, Humphrey Bogart starring, and Truman Capote writing, somehow Beat the Devil still manages to be a stinker. Bogart is Billy Danreuther mixed up with a gang of crooks on their way to Africa. Biding their time, things grow complicated when Billy and his wife, Maria (Lollabrigida), fall in with a British couple, the Chelms (Jones and Underdown). A great spoof to me should still operate within the genre or story its spoofing. Young Frankenstein, for example, is broad and silly, but it also tells a fun story. Same with Shrek or The Incredibles or Scream or The Princess Bride. Beat the Devil is a film made by people who clearly didn’t know where they were going. Its following describe it as “campy” but it’s not campy enough in my estimation. It’s more like a thriller that couldn’t be bothered to take itself seriously.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Game (1997, Directed by David Fincher) English 6

Starring Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Carroll Baker, Peter Donat, Armin Mueller-Stahl

Tim Robey recommends... The Game (1997)

(6-Good Film)

Intriguing. Adept. Preposterous.

Daniel Schorr: Discovering the object of the game *is* the object of the game.

The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas), a big-time businessman that seems to value money over the people in his life. He’s approaching his 48th birthday (his father’s age when he killed himself) and his ne’er-do-well brother, Conrad (Penn), shows up with a surprise gift; an elaborate and mysterious set of experiences known simply as “The Game.” It doesn’t take long for it to get out of hand. David Fincher, in his own assessment, lamented this film’s final act. They never did figure it out and it doesn’t really work. What does work is The Game’s first 2 acts; suspenseful, gripping, atmospheric, handsome, and well-acted. Douglas made a long, successful career largely built on roles like this one; the ice-cold, intelligent man in power. Fincher proves to be a modern master of suspense. Both men are in their element.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Princess and the Pirate (1944, Directed by David Butler) English 7

Starring Bob Hope, Virginia Mayo, Walter Brennan, Walter Slezak, Victor McLaglen, Hugo Haas, Mike Mazurki, Maude Eburne

The Princess and the Pirate (1944) David Butler, Sidney Lanfield ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Madcap. Irreverent. Fun.

Sylvester: My act is known all over Europe; that’s why I’m going to America.

In a long, prolific career with several dozen films, each chock-full of snappy one-liners, Bob Hope’s best lines might be found in The Princess and the Pirate. It also happens to be a pretty good swashbuckler. Hope plays The Great Sylvester, a not-so-great performer working in 18th century Europe, who gets caught up in the middle of feared pirate, Captain Barrett (McLaglen), and his crew’s abduction of Princess Margaret (Mayo). The production is first-rate and Hope is surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast. Mayo is winning as his love interest. Brennan is a blast as Featherhead (bearing a strong resemblance to Dopey from Snow White) and McLaglen lends the film just the right amount of austerity to work even apart from being funny.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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One-Armed Swordsman (1967, Directed by Chang Cheh) Mandarin 8

Starring Jimmy Wang, Lisa Chiao Chiao, Tien Feng, Angela Pan, Yeung Chi-hing, Tang Ti, Wong Sai-git

The One Armed Swordsman (first film of 2013) | voidagger

(8-Exceptional Film)

Rousing. Vibrant. Glorious.

Shih Yi-fei: Pei, don’t worry. So what if you cut off his arm? He’s not coming back anyway. We’ll just never bring it up in front of Sifu.

The opening chapters, Fang Kang’s (Wang) origin story, if you will, are to me, a product of the western world, comparable to the story of Joseph’s misfortunes in the Book of Genesis; jealousy, betrayal, conspiracy. Here, Fang Kang is lured into a trap by his peers at a martial arts school, tired of being shown up by his skill and strength of character. He loses an arm but is saved by a kind, beautiful farm girl, Xiao Man (Chiao Chiao), who eventually gets him back on his feet and watches him regain his fighting prowess, this time with the handicap. Later the honorable Fang Kang is called upon to save his old school from a rival gang of thugs. Deeply compelling, this film is classic action entertainment. Vibrantly filmed and creatively choreographed, the One-Armed Swordsman is rightly iconic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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I’ll Never Forget You (1951, Directed by Roy Ward Baker) English 6

Starring Tyrone Power, Ann Blyth, Michael Rennie, Irene Browne, Dennis Price, Beatrice Campbell, Kathleen Byron

Screenshots - I'll Never Forget You

(6-Good Film)

Romantic. Sentimental. Imaginative.

Roger Forsyth: You’re sort of a mystery man even to your friends.

Peter Standish (Power) is a brilliant scientist. Unhappy in his own time, he dedicates his life and research to traveling back through the centuries to the 1700s, just after the revolutionary war, specifically. Eventually, he succeeds but finds that life in 18th century England is not at all what he expected, and his love life is complicated by the kind, understanding Helen Pettigrew (Blyth). It’s beyond me why anyone would think that life would be better in the 18th century, but this is a romantic fantasy not meant to be analyzed to death. The conceit is more or less an excuse to turn the film into a costume drama. Tyrone Power, matinee idol for the ages, is convincing as the fish out of water and romantic lead. The romance is sweet if treacly, and the story is light and compelling.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(986)

The Animal (2001, Directed by Luke Greenfield) English 4

Starring Rob Schneider, Guy Torry, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley, Ed Asner, Louis Lombardi, Michael Caton, Norm MacDonald, Adam Sandler

Ten Years Ago: The Animal – 10 Years Ago: Films in Retrospective

(4-Bad Film)

Idiotic. Bemusing. Brief.

Rianna: I just want to thank everyone who sent me food and letters of support, especially the mentally handicapped child who sent me this sweet book of poems.

Marvin Mange: She read my poems.

Rob Schneider gets plugged into the Adam Sandler formula for comedy: a kind goofball protagonist learns how to stand up against the jerks in his life. As dumb and as poor as some of the Adam Sandler films are, I’m basically a fan. He also has plenty of movies that I consider good comedies (not to mention his impressive dramatic turns). I get the feeling that he turned this role down before it fell to Schneider who is convincing enough as the kind, put-upon hero but never delivers any laughs with this broad comedy’s ludicrous premise. He plays Marvin Mange, a police-hopeful, who gets badly hurt in a car accident and is put back together by a mad scientist who endows him with animal parts. The animal parts make him a natural as a police officer but eventually begin to run rampant, just as he’s getting close with a beautiful animal lover, Rianna (Haskell). There’s some promise with this material. I think perhaps with Jim Carrey, although it’s probably too close to Ace Ventura for him to ever be interested. As it is, The Animal is a brief ordeal, at times watchable, amusing, bizarre, unfunny, but always completely moronic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Soul Plane (2004, Directed by Jesse Terrero) English 3

Starring Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg, Tom Arnold, Method Man, Godfrey, Loni Love, Monique, Missi Pyle, Arielle Kebbel, D.L Hughley, Sommore, Sofia Vergara, John Witherspoon, Terry Crews, Gary Anthony Williams, Brian Hooks, K.D Aubert, Richard T. Jones

Soul Plane 2004 - Worst Movies Ever

(3-Horrible Film)

Irreverent. Unfunny. Embarrassing.

Captain Mack: Testicles, 1, 2… Testicles, 1, 2.

Nashawn Wade (Hart) wins a $100,000,000 in a court settlement after being on the wrong end of an airline’s carelessness. He uses his earnings to start his own airline, one with purple planes, complimentary fried chicken, strippers as stewardesses, and Snoop Dogg as a pilot. If this sounds amusing to you, I’ll admit, as ridiculous as it all is, it had a chance to be the black version of Airplane (1980), which is what it so clearly wants. Airplane, now 40 years old and dated in my opinion, is still funnier than Soul Plane. There are a lot of funny people in Soul Plane and I respect the energy they bring to the project but a film like this needs to be hilarious to warrant the level of silliness and, I repeat, Soul Plane simply isn’t funny. There’s no point in being offended by it, even though there are many opportunities; Monique, as TSA security, takes handsome fliers back to Airport detention and forces them to undress, for example. Like every joke in this picture, I’m just shaking my head saying, “wow.”

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(926)

Muppet Treasure Island (1996, Directed by Brian Henson) English 6

Starring Tim Curry, Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, Frank Oz, Steve Whitmire, Kevin Bishop

Muppet Treasure Island (1996) - Titlovi.com

(6-Good Film)

Irreverant. Vibrant. Enjoyable.

Rizzo: He died? And this is supposed to be a kids’ movie

Legendary creator, Jim Henson, had already been dead for several years but The Muppets were in good hands with his son Brian Henson. Muppet Treasure Island is a fun romp and musical mixed in with Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel. A young boy, Jim Hawkins (Bishop), sets sail on an adventure to find a long lost treasure with the help of his newly acquired map. The problem is, when there’s treasure involved, it’s hard to know whom you can trust. Along for the voyage are Long John Silver (Curry) and the crew he recommended. Kermit the Frog plays the ship’s captain. It’s all a lot of fun. If you love the characters of both the Muppets and Treasure Island as I do, then Muppet Treasure Island is a slam dunk. Not to be outdone, Tim Curry never holds back no matter how ridiculous the material.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Splash (1984, Directed by Ron Howard) English 6

Starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Jeff Doucette, Howard Morris, Richard B. Shull

Splash (1984) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

(6-Good Film)

Silly. Appealing. Light.

Allen: I don’t understand. All my life I’ve been waiting for someone and when I find her, she’s… she’s a fish.

A hopeless romantic, Allen Bauer (Hanks), meets the girl of his dreams, later named Madison (Hannah), but he doesn’t know that she’s a mermaid. In my opinion, this may be the dumbest good movie ever made. The director, Ron Howard, the writers, and his cast that includes John Candy and Eugene Levy somehow pull it off. They took this lightweight, silly material and made a hit comedy (a classic in many people’s eyes). I like Splash and I certainly like the actors. It’s an interesting twist on The Little Mermaid. Instead of the female perspective, it’s The Little Mermaid turned into a male fantasy. However, I’ve never been able to get past the ending. Spoiler alert: Tom Hanks becomes a merman. The film cuts out but how long do you think he’s down there before he regrets everything. How boring? What is there to do? Nothing.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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