List: Top 30 Most Anticipated Fall Films (Sept-Dec 2013)


It’s that time of year again! Prestige season when awards-bait fodder gets tossed out to the masses and where festival films are chewed up by critics with non-festival goers frothing at the mouth for hyperbolic tweets and reviews. The time of year when the hype-bar soars and awards-talk becomes the primary context for discussion. With each passing year I learn more and more the difference between letting anticipation get to me and letting hype get to me. They are two very different things. One of them healthy, the other dangerous, unfair and problematic.

Many sites gear towards a more collective gathering of films to look forward to, but an advantage of having an individual blog is that my to-see lists are always filtered through what I am most looking forward to. So while you’ll see a ton of stuff on here that is on everyone’s list, there’s a lot of stuff that you will note is missing. Oldboy, Carrie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, Thor: The Dark World, August: Osage County, Ender’s Game, The Book Thief, About Time, Captain Phillips, The Fifth Estate, Rush, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Philomena, The Invisible Woman, Out of the Furnace and many more are not on this list . Many of those I’d like to see, but my interest ranges from indifferent to it-just-didn’t-make-the-cut. The complete list of films that did not make the cut but are on my eventual to-see list are at the bottom.

Obviously there will be changes in the release schedule these upcoming months with new dates added and new curiosities emerging. I’ll be sure to make additions when necessary. Also, this time of year doesn’t have a ton of international releases to choose from so forgive how US-centric this is.

What Fall films are you anticipating?

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30. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Lawrence)
Release Date: November 2

I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Hunger Games adaptation, but there was certainly a lot to admire there and I’m hoping for the best with its sequel. At the very least, Jennifer Lawrence makes for a compelling Katniss, giving a performance that far eclipsed her Oscar-winning work last year. I enjoy the books but the additions of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amanda Plummer are a real clincher.

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29. Dallas Buyers Club (Vallée)
Release Date: November 1

This seems to follow a familiar trajectory but look at that the attention-demanding McConaughey transformation, an acting gimmick that is almost always backed up by worthy emotive work. I’ve been a huge follower of The Second Coming of McConaughey, and from a look-at-me-I’m-acting perspective this project feels like an apex of sorts for him. The AIDS epidemic and the search for alternative treatments is something is a historical topic I’m always extremely interested in, not to mention Jared Leto in drag, so I can’t wait to see how said issue is addressed within the biopic formula.

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28. All is Lost (Chandor)

Release Date: October 18th

J.C Chandor’s ambitious second film after the mostly engaging Margin Call comes to us overflowing with festival raves. A one-man show for Robert Redford, and only the first person-in-isolated-peril film on this list, I’m very much looking forward to an existential man-against-the-elements story.

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27. A Teacher (Fidell)
Release Date: September 6th

Reactions to Hannah Fidell’s debut feature have been all over the map, but I’m always up for seeing the psychological process of a conflicting crisis and the havoc it wreaks on a woman’s mind and life. This is definitely a film I’ll be checking out.

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26. Informant (Meltzer)
Release Date: September 13

A documentary about Brandon Darby that I’ve been hearing a lot of positive talk about. Most often, the reasons I want to see a film are very simple!

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25. Plush (Hardwicke)
Release Date: September 13

Female-directed erotic thriller about a rock star possibly losing her mind complete with kink? I feel like this was made for me. This could very well end up being awful but this is right up my alley, as Catherine Hardwicke continues attempting to shed her Twilight-skin and Emily Browning continues down her trek through provocation.

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24. The Armstrong Lie (Gibney)
Release Date: November 8th

I didn’t follow the Lance Armstrong controversy closely but I’m incredibly drawn to the idea of a documentary about him directed by none other than Alex Gibney. The fact that this was initially shelved and then re-opened following the shitstorm makes this even more compelling.

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23. Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (Huber)
Release Date: September 13th

An anecdotal documentary about Harry Dean Stanton featuring every cool person to ever exist, not least of which; Harry Dean Stanton! Need I say more?

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22. Anchorman: The Legend Continues (McKay)
Release Date: December 20th

Anchorman is one of the few recent mainstream comedies I love, without a doubt one of my favorites of all-time. I’m hesitant about a sequel but so damn hopeful at the same time. Between the talent involved, and the characters they are working with, there’s a lot of potential.

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21. The Monuments Men (Clooney)
Release Date: December 18th

OK, so the trailer makes it look like WWII Ocean’s Eleven. But it’s about preserving art, culture and history. It’s about archives for God’s sake! It doesn’t get better than that. I wasn’t a fan of Clooney’s last film, but he’s working with inherently excellent material, a true story and a highly acclaimed non-fiction book. I for one am really interested to see how he and his collaborators transform this story into a resonant and accessible narrative.

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20. A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke)
Release Date: September 28th

Confession: I’ve still never seen a Jia Zhangke film. I realize this needs to change soon. He’s long been on my list of Directors I Should Be Familiar with. But I’m at least smart enough to know that any time he makes a film, it’s a cue for my eyes and ears to perk up. And so here you are.

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19. The Counselor (Scott)
Release Date: October 25

This is Cormac McCarthy’s first jab at screenwriting so I’m dying to know how this turns out. The trailer also left me particularly lured in by the Cameron Diaz character. It looks like she’s got a juicy part here, claws out and all.

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18. Labor Day (Reitman)
Release Date: December 25th (limited)

Based on a Joyce Maynard novel, Labor Day sounds like a chamber piece full of bottled-up emotion and conflict. Reitman’s last film happens to be my favorite of 2011. So though Diablo Cody was a huge part of that, it’s still a contributing factor and Reitman is nothing if not reliable.

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17. American Hustle (Russell)
Release Date: December 25

Lots of scandal, crime, bad hair and sleaze await, brought to us by an all-star cast (most excited about Louis C.K popping up obviously) and a director coming off of a massive hit. It’s also notably a script from the Black List. What I’m the most intrigued about here is tone. David O. Russell is a master of tone when he’s on his game/servicing material in need of a perfect balance. The crime movies I’m anticipating this fall are hopefully going to spice things up and not play it straight.

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16. The Past (Farhadi)
Release Date: December 20th

Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to A Separation. That’s all that needs to be said. I’ve been waiting for this one a long while. Can we also just appreciate the sickening beauty of Tahar Rahim?

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15. We Are What We Are (Mickle)
Release Date: September 27

A remake of a much-talked about Mexican film from 2010, which I still haven’t gotten around to seeing. The trailer for this looks evocative and haunting. Artsy horror is a of automatic interest to me, it’s had positive word-of-mouth, and it looks beautiful besides.

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14. A Single Shot (Rosenthal)
Release Date: September 20th

Anything starring Sam Rockwell is clearly going to be both on my to-see list and worth watching regardless. But this is also the kind of Southern Gothic crime story that I naturally drift towards. Haggard and atmospheric.

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13. Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Mansour)
Release Date: September 13 (limited)

The first film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first feature length film made by a Saudi female, this is a monumentally important milestone. All I’ve been hearing are wonderful things about Wadjda. That it’s got distribution here where many will be able to see it is a big big deal.

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12. The Wolf of Wall Street (Scorsese)
Release Date: November 15th

Much like American Hustle, what interests me with Scorsese’s latest, a 180 away from Hugo, is the question of tone. The balls-out trailer drowning in reckless extravaganza is hopefully a hint of what is to come. I’m not interested in this story if it’s played even remotely straight. I want absurdity and abandon. I don’t want something that dares to ask me to give a fuck about any of these people. Based on the trailer, It looks very promising. Let’s hope the completed product can deliver more of the same.

Isaiah Washington, Tequan Richmond In 'Blue Caprice' 2013

11. Blue Caprice (Moors)
Release Date: September 13th (limited)

Inspired by the Beltway sniper attacks, the trailer for this intrigued me immediately with its chilling atmosphere, so much so that it shot up to the top portion of my to-see list. I seriously cannot wait for this.

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10. Kill Your Darlings (Krokias)
Release Date: October 16

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr. Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac. Ben Foster as William Burroughs. Michael C. Hall as David Kammerer. Stop me when you’ve heard enough. I’ve been waiting for this film a very long time and it’s been in the conceptual works since 2009. I’m hearing solid, if not revelatory rumblings, and that’s more than enough for me. I cannot wait to see how they interpret this true story of a murder early in the lives of these unconscionably influential individuals. I’m also a huge supporter of Daniel Radcliffe and his post-Potter career and I don’t think there’s anything I’m anticipating more than seeing him have sexual chemistry with DeHaan and Huston. Dane DeHaan has become one of my favorite young actors, so any chance I get to see him is exciting. There’s just so many pretty people in this movie. But seriously; this is my favorite ensemble cast of the fall.

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9. Prisoners (Villeneuve)
Release Date: September 20th

This was on my radar once Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) became attached. Then the trailer and advance buzz really got me revved. It looks brutal and searing; a horrific and impossible situation that just gets worse and worse. This looks like exactly the kind of film we need more of in mainstream US film. Murky, immersive, and genuinely emotionally challenging whilst maintaining a director’s touch. I’m also always rooting for Hugh Jackman to do projects that show how talented he is, and this looks like it will be the perfect chance for that. Lastly; Roger Fucking Deakins.

www.indiewire.com8. Bastards (Denis)
Release Date: October 25th It’s new Claire Denis, which is not only reason for celebration but gets this an automatic place in the top 10.

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7. Enough Said (Holofcener)
Release Date: September 18th

A collaboration between Nicole Holofcener and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is a collaboration I didn’t even realize I wanted, but the second I heard about it my heart leapt. Louis-Dreyfuss rarely gets to dip her toes in film, let alone to star in one, and she’s one of the greatest people working in comedy. By the way, if you aren’t watching Veep, you’re time is not being utilized well.  But new Holofcener is a great thing in and of itself; Please Give is one of the most underrated films I’ve seen in recent years. And it goes without saying that we are all looking forward to the bittersweet experience of seeing James Gandolfini in one of his final roles.

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6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Coen Brothers)
Release Date:  December 20th

It’s been three years since True Grit and yet somehow it feels like it’s been even longer. What has interested me perhaps the most about this film is something either Joel or Ethan said about Inside Llewyn Davis being about failure and the idea of exploring a character who is present during a monumental time in music but not quite able to make his mark. I love the idea of a film being about coming to terms with this or at the very least addressing it, and the trailer indicates a somber poignancy amidst the bleak humor that looks wondrous. And this also notably has Oscar Isaac gets his completely deserving breakout role in film. Finally.

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5. 12 Years a Slave (McQueen)
Release Date: October 18th (limited)

The festival raves for this highly anticipated project have been through the roof. Steve McQueen, one of the most praised and respected  young directors working today has tackled the challenge of bringing an actual slave narrative to the screen. And by all accounts this looks like a vital film, appropriately brutal and full of nightmarish survival. It looks it has the potential to stand as an example of what film can do and luckily this is prepped to be seen by many.

 

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4. Blue is the Warmest Color (Kechiche)
Release Date: October 25

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so conflicted about my interest in a film. On the one hand, I’m dying to see it; its acclaim has been unstoppable and overwhelming and it even won the Palme D’Or, usually a guarantee for me. Plus, it’s up my alley, full-stop.

I try to put aside any personal scandal/controversy aside when taking another person’s art into consideration. And yet, the production  experiences of Lea Seydoux and Adele Exacrchopoulos sound so uniformly disturbing that it’s going to be difficult to distract myself from that while watching. At least they seem mostly proud with the final product, were the first actors to ever share a Palme D’Or with a director, and have a friendship-through-mutual-trauma to show for it.

At the very least it’ll be interesting to see how all of this, and Julie Maroh’s comments, impacts its US reception. Having said all that, if we let it alter how we see the film irrevocably, everything they experienced would have been for nothing. And if I can mostly put it aside when it comes to the experiences of Bjork and Maria Schnieder, to name a couple of more famous cases, I’ll do my best here as well. Because seriously; this looks amazing.

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3. Gravity (Cuaron)
Release Date: October 4th

Many years, cast changes and production restarts later, Gravity is finally here. An impossibly ambitious project that looks like an overwhelming sensory experience and a technical achievement people for the ages. The trailer brings me to tears; not because of typical movie-going emotions, but because we can actually feel how terrifying Bullock’s situation is; the helplessness, the terror, the panic,. The idea of going through 90 minutes of this is hard to imagine. But I can’t wait to do it.  Can we also appreciate that it has been 7 years since Children of Men?

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2. Foxcatcher (Miller)
Release Date: December 20th

My #2 is a film nobody has seen and which has no trailer. A grand total of 3 stills have been released. Bennett Miller has had this passion project in the conceptual works as far back as his work on Capote. Every single thing about this project has me hooked. I am a huge Steve Carell fan and this is a massive departure for him with the actor tapping into some very dark places for a bizarre and ambiguous true story. Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is very quickly becoming a surefire stamp of quality and Miller has elevated both the biopic and sports film which his contributions to each.  I desperately hope that Foxcatcher can join the ranks of Capote and Moneyball for a third stellar picture.

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1. Her (Jonze)
Release Date: December 18th

Another film that hasn’t yet been seen, it should go without saying that Her is the film I am most looking forward to this fall. Spike Jonze films all have a melancholic air about them, an air that has prevented me from revisiting two of his films since seeing them in theaters. There’s a difference between a depressing film and a melancholic film. I have an easier time with depressing films by far. But Jonze’s work is always a unique vision, high concept in some fashion, made memorable by its visuals and ideas. The stunningly promising trailer is a hint of what is to come, surely a film like no other.

The Rest:
Nebraska
Camille Claudel, 1915
Adore
August: Osage County
Haunter
Out of the Furnace
In the Name Of
Le Week-end
The Invisible Woman
The Fifth Estate
Bettie Page Reveals All
Escape from Tomorrow
Frozen
Touchy Feely
Populaire
Paradise
Captain Phillips
Insidious: Chapter 2
Price of Gold
Concussion
Thanks for Sharing
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
Rush
Parkland
Haute Cuisine
The Institute
The Last Time I Saw Macao
Four
Jack Ryan
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
About Time
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Mr. Nobody
How I Live Now
The Book Thief
Ender’s Game
Thor: The Dark World
Faust
Saving Mr. Banks
Salinger
Therese
Romeo & Juliet
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
CBGB
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Carrie
Out in the Dark
A.C.O.D
Oldboy
Escape Plan
The Great Beauty
Grace of Monaco

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List: 10 of the Worst Film Posters of 2012


Everyone is gearing up for the Oscar nominations tomorrow and while everyone is already pretty much done with their 2012 film lists, I’m just now gearing up to do mine. The next couple of weeks will feature a number of silly little lists that recap what stuck out for me in the year in film.

Coming up with the ten worst posters of the year is a much more difficult task than picking my favorites. For one thing, there are heaps upon heaps of mediocre to terrible movie posters. It becomes challenging to sift through and separate the merely bad to the incomprehensibly terrible especially when bad posters need to make their impression in a split second as there’s a lot to sift through. Any of my choices could very easily be switched out and replaced with something equally worthy of a slot.

I feel like there was a lot more variety with my list last year and a lot less guffaw-worthy picks this year. My choices can be boiled down to trends of overstuffed clutter, dazed and confused faces stacked up next to each other, bland-as-bland-can-be and a general feeling of laziness.

What were your worst posters of the year? Since there are dozens of others as bad as the ten I chose, tell me what stuck out to you as the WORST.

There’s no order to these this year. I didn’t feel like there was a clear number one or two for that matter. So I just shuffled them arbitrarily for your viewing displeasure.

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Wrath of the Titans
This Wrath of the Titans poster stands to represent the countless (thousands really) action-epic character posters each year. I chose this one because it managed to somehow ruin the Greek God beauty that is Edgar Ramirez. Look at that! Do you ‘Feel the Wrath’ when you look at his face? He looks like he’s taking a dump.

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Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

What I hate-love about this poster is the way the title contrasts with the ensemble cast. Lucy Liu looks radiant and unaffected but everyone else looks skeptical. “Really?” they say. “Someday this pain will be useful to me? Really?” Nobody is convinced. Anything that says ‘from the producers of Life is Beautiful‘ is an automatic fail because fuck that noise.  Random squares of faces on a poster is the standard trope of the ensemble indie drama and I unequivocally hate it. There must be a better way to advertise smaller ensemble dramas. I know the main selling point is the actors but there must be a better way.

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Soldiers of FortuneAgain, it’s the faces that do it for me. On the one hand you’ve got James Cromwell, eyes like a hawk, roaring to go snipe some enemy folk. Then you’ve got….everyone else. With the mild exception of Ving Rhames aside, everyone else looks sooo bored. These actors are all contemplating the state of their careers and are coming up blank. “How did it come to this?”, as they half-heartedly shake their heads. These are Soldiers of Fortune? These are “the best” that the tagline refers to?

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Stolen
Stolen looks more like a Taken rip-off than Taken 2 was a Taken rip-off. It’s to be expected, but my God, have you no shame? Stolen is a synonym of Taken! It has the same color orange that was used for the most often seen posters for Taken and Taken 2. It is covered in text explicitly laying out in numbers and cold hard facts that this is the same plot as Taken. The one difference? Instead of Liam Neeson looking down, stoic and determined, we’ve got Nicolas Cage…running away from an upside down exploding car….

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Think Like a Man
Let the mind games begin. Because women play mind games. None of the women are looking directly at the camera. All of the men are. Clearly a one-sided take on gender relations, this poster reads as a sympathy plea from the men. The women may be beautiful but the guys facial expressions read as “can you believe what I gotta deal with?” Indeed. I’m sure my issues would lie even more in the actual film than the poster which likely accurately represents the product.

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The Babymakers

The jizz is up you guys. The jizz is up. I’m beside myself with laughter. Again with the nondescript faces against nondescript backgrounds against an even more nondescript white poster. Are these supposed to be facial expressions of various surprise? A baby is coming! There is nothing appealing about this. I don’t see how it could make anyone interested in seeing it, even the Beerfest demographic.

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generation Um…
Worst. Film. Title. Ever. Also one of the worst posters ever. What is this, 1999? This looks horrible. I’m pretty sure Keanu Reeves is not in the same generation as these nubile youngsters but fine. Sex, drugs and indecision. Sounds like a breath of fresh air, this film does. And AGAIN with the blank expressions. Yep, that looks to me like indecision. Life whizzes past them in a flurry of colorful flashes. I love Keanu’s ‘what are you looking at’ face. Great stuff.

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The Trouble with Bliss

This must have been a really early poster because the title of this was changed and the subsequent posters, while not good, are nowhere near as embarrassing as this. That’s what this is; embarrassing. I could have done this. I seriously think I could have done this and I know nothing about nothing. That this was ever released as an official piece of advertising is just sad. I don’t care how low-budget you are. There’s enough people with enough skill who can work with next to nothing and come up with more than this. And I adore you Michael C. Hall but you look icky and grody. Brie Larson’s out-of-focus legs are making a better impression on me. I feel like I’m in a middle-aged slacker’s bedroom (not a good feeling)….which has a giant map in it…?

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A Thousand Words
There’s no logic here. The film’s main poster was far from a winner, but this other one apparently exists. It’s a beyond lazy greatest hits splicing from the film’s various parts. He’s a family man! He helps the elderly! He’s helping a blind man cross the street! He’s kissing Kerry Washington’s forehead (she deserves so much better)! It’s got a two-part tagline that describes the plot and the point of the film in one go because you certainly can’t figure out what the hell is going on from the images. The font is unspeakably awful. There’s no structure. There isn’t even a border around the publicity stills. The poster literally is just a bunch of publicity stills. With Eddie Murphy doing his thing in the center.

50 Favorite New-to-Me Films Seen in 2012


Pussy Goes Grr’s recent post on her favorite new-to-me films she saw this year inspired me to do my own. I had a project of watching a bunch of film from each decade that petered out for me mid-year. But from the considerable amount of film-viewing I did accomplish, I saw a boatload of great work. Here are the 50 non-2012 releases that I plan on having life-long affairs with.

Note: These aren’t ranked at all.

1. The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933, Korda)
2.The Ox-Bow Incident (1943, Wellman)
3. The Conformist (1970, Bertolucci)
4. This Land is Mine (1943, Renoir)
5. A Separation (2011, Farhadi)
6. Sabrina (1954, Wilder)
7. Pepe le Moko (1937, Duvivier)
8. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943, Powell and Pressburger)
9. Caught (1949, Ophuls)
10. Les Dames du Bois du Bologne (1945, Bresson)
11. Le Jour Se Leve (1939, Carne)
12. The Smiling Lieutenant (1931, Lubitsch)
13. Shanghai Express (1932, von Sternberg)
14. Destry Rides Again (1939, Marshall)
15. The Gay Divorcee (1934, Sandrich)
16. Only Angels Have Wings (1939, Hawks)
17. People on Sunday (1930, Siodmak and Ulmer)
18. Rembrandt (1936, Korda)
19. A Page of Madness (1926, Kinugasa)
20. Pygmalion (1938, Asquith and Howard)
21. Love Me Tonight (1932, Mamoulian)
22. Holiday (1938, Cukor):
23. The Pearls of the Crown (1937, Guitry)
24. The Story of a Cheat (1936, Guitry)
25. Madam Satan (1930, Demille)
26. Désiré (1937, Guitry)
27. The Edward G. Robinson vignette in Tales of Manhattan (1942, Duvivier)
28. The Heroic Trio (1993, To)
29. Secret Beyond the Door… (1948, Lang)
30. Green for Danger (1946, Gilliat)
31. The Thief of Bagdad (1940, Powell, et al)
32. The More the Merrier (1943, Stevens)
33. Brighton Rock (1948, Boulting)
34. Shoeshine (1946, De Sica)
35. Ordet (1955, Dreyer)
36. Los Olvidados (1950, Buñuel)
37. Germany Year Zero (1948, Rossellini)
38. Yes, Madam (1985)
39. Valerie and her Week of Wonders (1970)
40. Nights of Cabiria (1957, Fellini)
41. The Furies (1950, Mann)
42. Senso (1954, Visconti)
43. The Band Wagon (1953, Minnelli)
44. Les Enfants Terribles (1950, Melville)
45. Red Desert (1964, Antonioni)
46. Harakiri (1962, Kobayashi)
47. Smiles of a Summer Night (1955, Bergman)
48. Street of Shame (1956, Mizoguchi)
49. Caged (1950, Marshall)
50. Daisies (1966, Chytilová)



List: Top 20 Film Posters of 2012


It’s that time of year again; and joy and elation of 2012 lists! The others will be posted in January, far after everyone is sick of reading round-ups of the past 12 months. But since I’ve got stuff to catch up on, the date stays.

The poster lists are perhaps the ones I always look forward to the most. The vast majority of film posters, in their primary advertising function, are rehashes of the same basic format depending on the genre and plot. Not to sound too condescending but casual movie-goers tend to gravitate towards repetition and the comfort of being able to rely on concrete expectations. Posters have to sell this too. Marketers want people to be able to look at a poster and know what they are going to get when they walk into that theater.

But this is a considerable generalization; for all the forgettable to questionable images each year has to offer, there are a lot of top-notch posters too. These are the 20 posters that rank as my favorites from 2012. The only condition is that it had to get a US release this year and only one poster per film. Since most films do not get released here, it disqualifies a lot of great work, but it would just be too hard to sift through everything otherwise.

Here is 2011’s list: https://cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/list-top-20-film-posters-of-2011/

And 2010’s: https://cinenthusiast.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/top-20-film-posters-of-2010/

The best poster I came across that I could not count (but will post here anyways because, um, amazing) is Xavier Dolan’s latest Laurence Anyways which right now has no US release date. Does it even have distribution yet? Not sure. Anyways, it’s very Last Tango in Paris, very effortlessly retro, very pink and just all-around sickening.

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So while in theory, this is supposed to be about the poster art and not the films attached to them, it is impossible not to bring that context into the proceedings. If this list has is skewed towards my own taste (I’ve seen 16/20 of the films) from this year than that would be why.

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Honorable Mention:  2 Days in New York

My reason for this is the instantaneous reaction to the colors which are vibrant, lively and look almost crayon-like in execution. It is a very simple and even bland image, even if it feels sacrilegious to refer to a picture of Julie Delpy as bland. But I am easy to please and while there were plenty of more creative options out there to choose from, my instinct said ‘oooooh cooolllllooooorrrsssss’. I also cannot get enough of how the colors ever so slightly run into their hair.

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20. Gerhard Richter Painting

We continue on the ‘Katie is Easily Pleased by Colors’ theme (an ongoing one that will appear constantly). The poster quite literally reflects the title of the film. Cheeky. The long sequences in this doc that show Gerhard Richter painting is some of the best documentary footage from this year. Honestly, this could have been the whole film and it would likely have an even higher spot on my year-end list.  So the poster evokes a sequence I could not take my eyes off of, so between that and the startling colors = on the list.

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19. Lincoln

This is a surreally uncanny image that immediately immortalizes the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. It’s actually disturbingly uncanny. The longer you look at it the more reality seems to implode on itself. Has Daniel Day-Lewis always been Lincoln? Was Lincoln in fact Daniel Day-Lewis? Oh, the questions this poster raises. The profile shot and the statuesque look really make this the best it can be.

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18. Zero Dark Thirty

I love me some minimalist posters. This one is a teaser image that just sticks with you immediately. I cannot get enough of the redaction and how the only actual additional non-text element of this poster is something that tries to take away. Like everyone else I cannot wait to see what Kathryn Bigelow does with this film and the way its advertising was handled has been thoroughly successful.

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17. Michael

Another really minimal poster, but with all honesty, how does one go about advertising a difficult-to-watch (but for my money worth it) arthouse film about a pedophile who has a boy in his basement? So I’d call this a resounding success on all counts considering that it gets around the challenge and is fabulous to boot. The color choice is memorable as well as the puzzle concept allowing for subtle shading and dimension.

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16. Girl Model

This poster is really just one of the first shots of Girl Model, a haunting documentary that just scratches the surface of the unsurprisingly seedy underbelly of the bottom rungs of the modeling industry. The mirror image creates a slight distortion that reflects the sad logic of how this occupational world works. And I love slightly out-of-focus images and the mirror gives it that inestimable ‘feel’ that I am so drawn to.

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15. Attenberg

I could have easily chosen another poster from the film but went with this one which really captures the off-kilter strangeness of the small but very significant recent wave of Greek films to make their way over here. First of all, I love this scene. Throughout Attenberg are sprinkled scenes of the main character and her friend walking along a street in increasingly complex synchronization. There is something about two young girls letting in their instincts and being confrontational about it that reminds the amazing feminist and surrealist film Daisies. So there’s that. The poster has a great combination of having a simple background that forces focus to the pose and stance of the subjects. It reflects the extremely strong focus these films have on the body and body language with its possible contortions and positions.

Here is the scene containing the pose depicted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SrOfBIvrpQ

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14. Frankenweenie

It’s a Tim Burton sketch so of course this poster rules. It is like they are saying ‘don’t forget Tim Burton was once capable of not sucking’. It is a strong enforcer of the idea that Burton is revisiting and updating his roots with this one. This was not one of the main posters used for the marketing, which from that standpoint I understand. But it’s a gorgeous illustration that brings the Sparky design back to its “Family Dog” influence (more like replica) and he has just about the quirkiest expression of endearment I’ve ever seen.

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13. Paul Williams Still Alive

Stop Making Sense font; check. The top of Paul Williams head; check. Number 13 spot; check.

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12. Elena

The illustration here is so stark and evocative. It depicts two colors, trees, the outline of a person looking out and a bird flying by. The color feels like the sun is just about to rise which is how Elena starts. The left side is used for some deserved festival bracket whoring. It’s a foreboding image with a blue I cannot take my eyes off of. And I love that microscopic eye detail on the bird.

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11. The Cabin in the Woods

Another poster that was nowhere near the primary one used but thankfully it was given the frameworthy poster treatment. A take on Escher’s Relativity, the sepia-toned drawing nails what Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon’s film is really about. The picture gets the trapped and constructed environment of the characters. And the tagline, which seems cliché at first glance, just like the purposely broad title, is actually perfect.

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10. Sound of My Voice

This is so mysterious and ambiguous just like the film’s conceit. The handshake feels like another language. The instructional format feels like a retro kitsch-piece. The crunched up folding makes it seem like we are looking at something we shouldn’t be seeing. It feels like something from a pastime, which is apt given what the characters in the story’s cult are wont to believe.

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9. Paranorman

There is a whole batch of Paranorman posters equally fabulous that could be in its place. Again, the main posters were certainly serviceable but there is a whole slew of great artwork that was done to promote the Focus Features film. It’s the blocking of the different images that draws me in as well as, again, the use of the orange, green and blue colors. The way the font is strewn across the poster is reminiscent of a 50’s B-movie.

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8. Compliance

This is my number one movie I haven’t seen this year. I feel like it’s got a fair shot at being near the top of my year-end list, however unfair those expectations may be. Dreama Walker, who can be seen on “Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23”, has a somehow enigmatic expressionlessness. I just love this shot and where she is in the frame related to the text. And quotes galore! Quotes make you go ‘ooooh what is this about’. Walker’s prominence in the poster could mean anything. Add in the dubious title and I was dying to find out what all the fuss and controversy of the film was about and whether or not it was justified. It grabbed my interest immediately; exactly what a poster is supposed to do.

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7. The Master

The film is quite a bit like a Rorschach test. Though one pops up early in The Master, this image also reflects the open-wide interpretive room of the characters and how they interact with and change each other. It’s an enigma but at the same time it’s not. Again, loving the folded-up quality, making it seem like a pamphlet of sorts. There is a black-and-white version but I actually prefer the color. In a substantial misrepresentation, Joaquin Phoenix is looking far too sane, no?

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6. Holy Motors

This would have been in the top 5 if not for the distracting title art. The title art and font look very cheap to me and is not successfully integrated into the rest of the poster. It looks like the title is uncomfortably resting on top instead of being part of. But Denis Lavant, playing many different identities here, is seen as a black shadowed blank slate. The headlights of the limo are the eyes, placed in the headspace, which is likely where the film takes place. At the very least Holy Motors has its own internal logic that gleefully defies any explanation. And the poster certainly hints at this. My favorite thing about this is the sketchy yellow scribble. Just one of those inspired touches.

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5. Beauty is Embarrassing

Using Wayne White work in a documentary about Wayne White equals a spot in my Top 5 posters. It’s playfully bizarre and the way the letters form a kind of landscape in the background is seamlessly appropriate.

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4. Alps

Here is yet another minimalist poster. The abstract Dogtooth poster had a place this high as well two years ago. This one actually has the characters in it and I find the shape their placement creates to be hypnotic, much like the film. There is an almost slightly oversaturated grainy quality to the images that make them blend in with the background in interesting ways. And anything featuring Aggeliki Papoulia’s mesmerizing face is okay by me.

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3. Barbara

I think you all know what’s coming. You can sense it the second you look at the poster. COLORS!!!! Oh the glorious combination of these colors! Look at how lush this visual is. It’s quite stunning. Everything pops here and it’s a really creative poster in a lot of subtle ways. The red! The green! The yellow! The title placement! See? Subtle.

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2. The Loneliest Planet

Let’s start with that intensely profound statement at the top. Jeez Louise. Talk about lofty expectations. After Compliance and Amour, this is probably what I’m craving to see the most that I haven’t yet. Luckily it’s on demand so first thing when I get back to CT? Yep. This gorgeous green, which just barely reveals itself as actual land is to die for, as is the juxtaposition of the two close-up faces against their far-away selves amidst the green. And let’s talk about that red hair! Well, okay I’ve got nothing more to say about it….but look at it! And are her eyes green too? This poster just stuck with me instantaneously and its pleasing to look at but also further piques my interest.

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1. The Innkeepers

I already knew this would be my number 1 poster before even doing my 2011 list last year. Since The Innkeepers had been kicking around at fests for a while, the poster has been out for quite some time. It’s so intricate and beautifully haunting. It’s got a snarky tagline. The blue-grays, the title design, the borders and shapes; all of it is flawless. There’s a lot going on here but it’s not too much. And lastly, it’s got my favorite film character from a 2012 film no contest. Yeah, I’m looking at you Sara Paxton.
Stay tuned because within the next week my Top 10 Worst Posters of 2012 will be posted.

List of 1940’s Films to See


I’m embarking on decades throughout the year; I am currently making my way through the 1940’s. At first I was sad to leave the 1930’s; too sad. I went into the 40’s resenting them, a patently ridiculous sentiment. Quickly though, my hesitancy washed away. Of the films I have watched so far, a handful of them would already be placed among my admittedly large group of all-time favorites. I tried to narrow the list down to 20 but this never seems to work. So I’m watching as many of these as I can before mid-May. I did the 20’s and 30’s earlier this year watching from each about 15 and 35 films respectively. I won’t be able to make it through all of these but I hope to keep this as a reference guide. I feel like I’m pretty well-viewed, especially for being 24, so if a film does not appear it may be because I’ve seen it already.I have a 70-page Word Document chronologically chronicling every film I have ever seen (this was a huge project for a while) and I have seen roughly 120 films from the 1940’s

I have no idea what will happen when I get to the 70’s and 80’s, two decades I’ve seen a lot from, but comparatively speaking to how much there is, I haven’t even scratched the surface from those s in particular.

Note: I had a lot of amazing help on this list from Andreas from Pussy Goes Grrr. She was kind enough to make a post for me in which she brought together five ‘obscure-ish’ films from each year that were recommendations from her to everyone. Luckily I had only seen a little over 10 of them. Her picks were a wonderful combination of films that were either on my brainstorm list (that she had seen and recommended them provided further incentive to see them) or were films I had not heard of and was delighted to come across. http://pussygoesgrrr.com/2012/04/10/obscure-ish-movies-of-the-1940s/

The goal here was to have a mix of well-known canon films and obscurities or at the very least films that may not be universally known amongst film buffs.

So here is the list. In bold are the films I have watched since making the list. Please comment and tell me which ones I would be crazy not to miss; I will not have time to watch all of these in a mere 3 weeks!

Whisky Galore!
The Man in Grey
They Live by Night
The Man Who Came to Dinner
Night Train to Munich
The Thief of Bagdad
City for Conquest
The Flame of New Orleans
Man Hunt
Moontide
Kings Row
Day of Wrath
The More the Merrier
Henry V
National Velvet
The Children Are Watching Us
The Lodger
Green for Danger
No Regrets for Our Youth
The Red House
Lured
Pursued
Thieves Highway
The Seventh Veil
The Small Back Room
Oliver Twist
Act of Violence
Blood of the Beasts
On the Town
Shoeshine
La Terra Trema
Tales of Manhattan
Miracle on 34th Street
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Foreign Correspondent
Ivan the Terrible Part I
Dark Passage
Odd Man Out
Meet John Doe
Cabin in the Sky
The Clock
The Woman in the Window
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
Crossfire
Secret Beyond the Door…
A Canterbury Tale
Brighton Rock
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Shanghai Gesture
The Suspect
My Favorite Wife
The Set-Up
The Devil and Daniel Webster
Criss Cross
The Big Clock
The Wolf Man
The Dark Mirror
The 49th Parallel
And Then There Were None
Pride of the Yankees
Spring in a Small Town
Stray Dog
Drunken Angel
The 47 Ronin
Meshes of the Afternoon
Listen to Britain
Fires Were Started

List: Film Characters I Have an Irrational Hatred Towards Part 3: Charlie Bucket & Grandpa Joe


An unexpected installment this week. I found myself incapable of summing up my thoughts about these characters in a few paragraphs. So here is a whole host of rambling nonsense that hopefully sums up how I feel about these folks. I am also convinced that this post may prove as evidence of my insanity.

The next installment will cover the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Charlie Bucket, Grandpa Joe and the Entire Bucket Family (yes, even the bedridden grandparents) – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

On the surface, Charlie Bucket sounds like a poster child for generosity, innocence and honesty. Sometimes casting and performance can muddle up the transfer from page to screen. This is exactly what happened with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The Charlie Bucket of the Roald Dahl book and vastly inferior 2005 Tim Burton film convey the proper Dickensian poverty-stricken empathy. This kid deserves the best there is; what a selfless creature! A bad performance has the power to make even the noblest characteristics seem like a pile of overreaching piety and incessant defeatism. Ladies and gentlemen; Peter Ostrum:

It is not a coincidence that Charlie Bucket was Peter Ostrum’s only performance. He left acting at a very early age and rightly so. Nobody can call this performance good. It is a catastrophe. Overly strained and entirely one-note, Ostrum inspires a special kind of irrational hatred. Case in point; the amount of time I have spent rolling my eyes at innocuous lines like “It’s payday Mr. Jopeck” proves Ostrum’s ability to annoy with even the simplest of dialogue. It also proves that I may be a little insane.

Then we have Grandpa Joe; a source of never-give-up enthusiasm. He always believes in Charlie and in his heart knows he will go places and rise above the cards he has been dealt. He is always looking out for his grandson and encouraging him to never give up. An incident of miscasting takes all of these lovely traits and spits them out as across-the-board selfishness. What a flibbertigibbet wackadoo, and I do not mean that as a compliment. At one point he says “If she’s a lady, then I’m a Vermicious Knid”. No Grandpa Joe; that would be an insult to Vermicious Knids. Ladies and gentlemen; Jack Albertson:

Jack Albertson is a fine actor, but his portrayal never roused my sense of spirit. The man stays bedridden for decades, even though Charlie and his mother are left to scramble together any scraps of pittance pay in order to stay in their broken-down abode. Yet when Charlie wins the Golden Ticket, he is suddenly able to stumble out of bed? By the end of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”, Grandpa Joe is jumping and springing and leaping around like a total asshole, not to mention showing off way more Grandpa Joe leg than I never needed to see:

Way to prioritize. Apparently a desperately impoverished family is not enough to get your ass out of bed, but a visit to a freaking chocolate factory is? How can I like someone this selfish? Grandpa Joe is clearly supposed to be quite flawed yet ultimately endearing; but he isn’t here. The lyrics to the song do not generate sympathy; he sounds like a person who gave up on life very early on, and is now using Charlie’s ticket to give himself an entirely falsified sense of purpose. But that’s just me.

In case it is not clear at this point, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is completely engrained in me. The thing practically runs through my veins. Some films you see enough times to carve out an individualized connection with it. What makes my relationship with this film so distinctive (in comparison to my relationship with the other films I love), is the dissonance between what I get out of watching it. The second half of this film, which sees Gene Wilder take center stage, is legitimately great. In fact, there is no performance I cherish more than Wilder’s work here. Yet the first half is wildly uneven as it sets up Charlie’s woeful predicament and his unlikely journey to the gates of Willy Wonka’s factory.

On the one hand, the slightly absurdist scenes depicting how far adults will go to find the tickets are one-minute nuggets of darkly comedic gold. The frenzy that the Golden Ticket fiasco ensues is supposed to be funny; except when it comes to Charlie. Charlie and his decrepit bunch of relatives are supposed to be taken seriously. They live in a hole of their own self-perpetuating misery entirely outside the comedy going on around them. Between the sad attempts to play this storyline completely straight, and the bad casting and execution, everything involving the Bucket family becomes unintentionally funny.

Charlie’s mother swishing around nondescript blue sheets in dirty water with a big wooden paddle: hilarious. Charlie being derided by his teacher and classmates because a Wonka-related math problem forces him to announce he has only opened two chocolate bars: hilarious. Charlie silently sobbing in his bed after hearing news of the soon-to-be-revealed fraudulent fifth ticket: hilarious.  Remember when Charlie pitifully tricks his family into thinking he got a Golden Ticket in his birthday chocolate bar, only to say – “Fooled you didn’t I? You thought I really had it” (yeah Charlie; you showed them), with that always-present expression of his that suggests his dog was just hit by a car? That scene makes me laugh harder than most comedies.

It would be entirely possible for me to do a list of least favorite Charlie Bucket expressions. They would all be variations of the same thing. I could do this; but even I have my limits. But here’s a sampling:

There are certain lines of dialogue that are so overly saccharine and self-deprecating, how is anyone supposed to do anything but laugh?

Charlie: [to Grandpa Joe, after opening the Wonka bar they think has the last Golden Ticket in it] “You know… I’ll bet those Golden Tickets make the chocolate taste terrible.”

Charlie’s Mom: (about a loaf of bread) “A real banquet”
Grandpa Joe: “When a loaf of bread looks like a banquet, I’ve no right buying tobacco.”

The above is pretty much the representative example of Grandpa Joe’s selfishness. You know what? You are right; you have no right buying tobacco. He is all talk and no action. His words mean nothing.

To this day, I skip the “Cheer Up Charlie” scene. Leave it to Charlie Bucket to be the subject of quite possibly the worst song in a musical.

“You get blue like everyone
But me and Grandpa Joe
Can make your troubles go away
Blow away, there they go…”

Someone get me a paper bag to hurl into.

When they gulp down the Fizzy Lifting Drinks, I always hope the fan annihilates them, but this unsurprisingly never takes place.

As I mentioned earlier, their so-called saintly characteristics have the opposite effect; they are either funny or infuriating or both. Here is an onslaught of examples (I have so many things to say, I have resorted to bullet points):

“The Candy Man” song features Bill freely tossing out candy to a crowd of children. The song ends and the camera cuts to this face:

Seriously? Charlie; he was literally throwing candy to all the children. You could have walked in and joined the party, but no. That would be Un-Bucket-like of him. The film’s first shot of Charlie shows him as he will appear throughout the entire film; with his trademarked sulky ‘my dog just died’ face.

-Grandpa Joe trying to give Charlie supposedly false hope feels needlessly cruel as opposed to well-meaning.

– Why does Charlie choose Grandpa Joe as his guest to the factory? I realize he is the clear favorite of the bunch…but surely Charlie’s long-suffering and hard-working mother deserves it by default.

– Grandpa Joe’s seemingly throwaway line during “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” in which he exclaims, “It’s ours Charlie” is maddening. Way to steal the thunder Joe. Last time I checked, it was Charlie’s ticket. You’re just along for the ride.

– When Willy Wonka walks out with his slow limp, everyone seems disappointed, including Charlie and Grandpa Joe. Really? He is limping people. Are Charlie and Grandpa Joe really that shallow? Of course they are.

The climactic verbal throwdown that takes place is what takes the cake for me. It is separate from the rest, which I have mostly turned into a mock-fest across time. To this day, the end of the film never fails to piss me off. Charlie and Grandpa Joe are incapable of taking the blame for what they have done. They knowingly broke the rules with the Fizzy-Lifting Drinks and at no point do they apologize for their sorry excuse for a mishap. Wonka understandably yells at them, letting them know that yes, their random absence from the group did not go unnoticed and uninvestigated. That gaping silence where Grandpa Joe’s incessant quips usually are was probably the tip-off.

Grandpa Joe then unleashes an undeservedly moralistic speech about crushing a boy’s dreams and smashing them to pieces. He is really overcompensating for his own fault in the entire situation, but somehow this is supposed to be seen as an old man heroically taking a stand for his grandson. Charlie in the meantime, crushed and oozing ‘my dog just died’ face seems disappointed in Wonka the man. Really? Think this through Charlie. I know you have no brain cells and that all your energy is spent moping, but surely you are capable of seeing the situation for what it is? Grandpa Joe is the one that goaded you into taking a sip. If something had happened, Wonka would be held responsible and his life’s work would be down the drain in an instant. They signed a contract! But no; Charlie only has enough energy to mope on over to return the damn Everlasting Gobstopper, a cheap reverse psychology ploy that Wonka falls for.

My hatred for Charlie, Grandpa Joe and the rest of the Buckets has become a major factor in what I get out of this film. I love hating them. I have seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so many times that an evolution has taken place over two decades. A comforting familiarity has surrounded the film, and that includes my loathing for half the cast. Making fun of these characters has become almost a pastime over the years. Time and time again watching it with various family members has turned into a collective mocking of line deliveries, gawking at how unbearable these fucking characters really are.

The irrational hatred I have for these characters does not ruin Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; far from it. In fact the opposite is true; it has become entirely essential to my viewing experience.

List: Film Characters I Have an Irrational Hatred Towards Part 2: The 1940’s-1960’s


Have you ever watched a film and found yourself thinking “My God, but that character is getting on my nerves”, when said character is not necessarily meant to? There are plenty of onscreen characters throughout the years who are meant to be vexing or obnoxious. But at what point does that frustration transform into something a little more intense?

What do I mean by intense? Here are two possible definitions. First is that the hatred extends far past what is meant to be felt, becoming a somewhat preposterous fixation. The second is that the ‘irrational hatred’ for the character overflows to the point where you begin feeling adverse effects to the entire film itself.

Of course, these are more extreme side effects of the topic in question. For one thing, there are plenty of characters on this list that get on my nerves, but have never jeopardized my willingness to rewatch the film they are part of. For another thing, some of the characters on this list are supposed to get on your nerves; to a point. When you cannot move past it, when it grates on you beyond normalized reason, then it counts for this list, whether one is supposed to be annoyed by the character or not.

Something else to note; it does not have to be the character. In fact, many of the lists inclusions irritate me because of the performances attached to the character.

This is not the type of list I see around too much and so I thought it would be a fun and harmless road down which to venture. I like these kinds of lists that really have nothing to do with being the end-all be-all of anything, and focus more on ones personalized relationship with a variety of films. And anyone that reads this blog with any regularity knows I favor embracing the subjectivity of lists and somewhat resent (at least for myself) any attempts for a list to speak for anyone but myself.

The idea for this list came about from reminiscing about Apollo 13. In a management class for my graduate school classes for Library Science, we watched a few clips from the film. We had to discuss the various methods of group collaboration taking place and insert all the terminology we had been discussing about teams and groups into examples from the scenes (most featuring Ed Harris). I had been thinking about how much I truly like Apollo 13, and was lamenting about how long it had been since I watched it.

I then started to think about the one glaring downside to that film; Kathleen Quinlan. I flat-out do not like Kathleen Quinlan in this film. I realize that she was stuck with the obligatory ‘wife’ role and that it’s a pretty thankless part (although not thankless enough; she was nominated for an Oscar). There are a lot of similar thankless roles that actresses get saddled with, but none really got on my nerves the way she did. My memory recalls one worried facial expression throughout, and distractingly garish late 60’s/early 70’s wardrobe and makeup. At a certain point the negative feelings I have become inexplicable.

And thus the idea for this list was born.

There are some questionable choices here; I realize this. Some of the irrationality can be argued. I have a few characters on here where my reactions could be argued as being completely rational.

There were many that came to my head and I decided not to put them on. I felt either that my feelings were entirely too justified or that too many people hate the character for it to really feel ‘irrational’. How can it feel ‘irrational’ if so many others hate them as well? So no Jar-Jar Binks will be found here.

I hope everyone enjoyed the first installment of “Film Characters I Have an Irrational Hatred Towards”. It is now time for installment to, which will be covering three decades; the 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. I wish I were able to come up with more for this 30 year span but alas.

Someone I decided not to put here is Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The reason for this is, though I physically am unable to watch his scenes, I feel entirely justified in my hating him. I don’t find it to be irrational. I think we can all agree that performance is as bad and offensive as it gets.

What would you have put for these decades? Hopefully you can come with more than I was able to.

Pinocchio – voiced by Dickie Jones – Pinocchio (1940)

This installment kicks off with another major Disney character. I have a stronger fondness for this film than I do for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It attains a majestic quality at points and its certainly one of Disney’s most beautiful pieces of animation. Pinocchio is a naive wooden being; he does not have any life experience to guide him. He is a child, a selfish and foolish wooden child, who gets himself into a host of perilous situations.

Overcoming this selfishness and naiveté is embedded in the parable of this story. The journey is about him overcoming this near-fatal flaw. Still though; it is difficult to get past just how idiotic Pinocchio can be. His shockingly devil-may-care attitude is pretty staggering for someone who has only been in existence for a mere day.

The reasonable part of my brain keeps saying “but Pinocchio has no idea how the world works”. And the sillier, far too heavily involved part of my brain says “with the equally bothersome Jiminy Cricket at his side he has no excuse. Screw him; I hope he ends up a donkey slave”. It’s a bad sign when you want a cherubic character like Pinocchio to get his comeuppance.

Charlie – Teresa Wright – Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Over the years I never had a problem with Teresa Wright as Charlie. I thought her character was relatable and refreshing; a bored small-town girl who is just waiting for something exciting to happen.

The last time I watched it her incessant enthusiasm and refusal to see a situation for what it is got on my nerves. She is far too happy in the beginning and far too stubborn in the end. She plays these two emotions in every single scene and uses restlessness as a go-between throughout. And I realize how unreasonable it is to expect Charlie to see the situation for what it is. We as the audience have the advantage of omniscience.

I don’t hate Charlie; but as I get older, I just don’t like her very much. She strikes a high-pitched note that gets a little too under the skin. Every time she says “Uncle Charlie” all I hear are nails on a chalkboard.


Uncle Billy – Thomas Mitchell – It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Is there a bigger snafu than Uncle Billy’s misplacement of $8,000 in It’s a Wonderful Life?

It was an honest mistake. The guilt Billy feels as a result turns him into a far more tragic figure than George Bailey at his worst. In the end, it all turns out all right. We can forgive Uncle Billy right? Wrong.

Why anyone would ever trust Uncle Billy with that much money is beyond me. In a sense this whole thing is George’s fault too. Yet Uncle Billy will always remain an irrational source of aggravation for me. His nonexistent ability to keep track of large sums of money effects how I see him from the get-go. Uncle Billy and his stupid goddamn crows are the pits.

I don’t know how many times I have seen It’s a Wonderful Life; lots. One would think my fury would die down, but no. It doesn’t. Not even close. The tradition of watching Capra’s masterpiece every Christmas season is coupled with yearly shouting matches I have with myself. Without fail I always end up hurling insults at a lit-up box that projects Uncle Billy’s dimwittedness. Without fail I always end up shaking my head in shame, smacking my hand to my forehead mumbling “He’s so fucking stupid. Why is he so fucking stupid?”

It is safe to say my feelings got out of hand long ago.

Uncle Billy is cinema’s biggest hooplehead.


Richard Sherman – Tom Ewell – The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Tom Ewell gets the distinction of playing the only character from the 1950’s to appear on this list. Sad isn’t it? But just look at that face. Ew. Ew. Ew.

Part of it is that I rather superficially don’t like his face.  He has that vibe that suggests he belongs on a 1960’s sitcom destined to forever be accompanied by a laugh track. His performance, which is admittedly good, is shadowed by his experiences performing the role on stage. He plays the part as if for a live audience, hence the laugh track vibe. The incessant ongoing monologue isn’t exactly endearing either.

He belongs to a class of bumbling overzealous male characters. His character and Ewell’s performance are exactly what they are meant to be; but that does not mean I have to like him.

The Jets – played by various – West Side Story (1961)

It was a long time ago when I realized I side with the Sharks in West Side Story. There is a sympathetic quality there as well as a laid-back ‘cool’ factor that The Jets lack. The Jets may have the song ‘Cool’ (the film’s best scene and the most exhilarating musical number I have ever seen onscreen), but that song is about harnessing rage and anger and not about actually being cool. Because they aren’t cool; they are lame.

By ‘The Jets’, I mean everyone excluding Riff and ex-Jet Tony. Tony is a massive sap but at least he possesses a modicum of common sense. And Riff is Russ Tamblyn and there will be no hating on Russ Tamblyn.

The ‘Daddio’ speak allows staginess to emerge in their dialogue scenes where every Jet takes turns shouting random words. It is painful.

The gang is really all The Jets have; their downtrodden lives suggest they have little to look forward to in life. I get it. I’m supposed to care. But I don’t. I care about the Sharks.

Action is by far my least favorite Jet or as I like to call him, Matt LeBlanc’s doppelganger.

Did I mention the part where they humiliate and assault Anita? Unforgiveable.


John Linden – Sidney Berger – Carnival of Souls (1962)

Sidney Berger knocks Carnival of Souls down a couple of notches with his insufferably lecherous skeeveball character. He detracts with his presence, taking away from what is otherwise a fabulously unsettling film. It feels like a glaring waste of time to use a subplot to showcase him. Berger is gross, slimy and the definition of obnoxious. I could not figure out the point of him when I first saw it and looking back, I am still perplexed by his presence.

Emeline Marcus-Finch – Dorothy Provine – It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1964)

There are few films I have seen more than It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World,  which is odd because it does not represent the kind of comedy I like at all. By all accounts the film’s humor should annoy me but it doesn’t. It is one of my favorite comedies and I can quote it back to front. But Emeline will always be a major thorn in my side.

Emeline is supposed to be the innocent character. She is the poor soul who is dragged on a wild goose chase while everyone around her becomes increasingly obsessive over massive wads of cash. We are supposed to see her as the one uncontaminated character in the ensemble cast.

When you play Ethel Merman’s daughter and you are the more insufferable of the two, you know it’s bad.

Where the film sees unselfishness, I see an unendurable superiority complex. The ensemble cast’s desire for the money is not the problem. The problem is their inability to be reasonable people and come up with a method of equally distributing the money to everyone’s satisfaction. That is their downfall.

Call me unethical, but even though the money belongs with authorities and they have no right to it, I completely sympathize with their initial cause to get the money. Emeline’s haughty disapproval with the whole endeavor shows her as a stick-in-the-mud to the extreme; a nagging, prudish, bitch of a woman who is supposedly the film’s only moral character. If that is what moral looks like, then hand me a shovel so I can go look for the big W.

Blanche – Estelle Parsons – Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

What is unfortunate about this is that I cannot get past her shrillness to appreciate Parsons’ work as a performance. I have no idea if her work here is extraordinary or painfully overdone. Is every beat her acting hits purposeful? Am I supposed to find any redeeming qualities in this person? Should I feel remorse or compassion? I honestly can’t tell. If I am supposed to feel these things I am sorry to say I didn’t.

Parsons falls into the headache-inducing category here. It has been years since watching Bonnie and Clyde, but I remember wanting to jump out the nearest window in regards to Blanche. My hatred for her extends to the point where when I first saw it as a teenager; she became my most hated character in any film I had seen up to that point.

Barbara – Judith O’Dea – Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Showing a more realistic depiction of what would likely happen after a traumatic experience, such as the one Barbara has at the beginning of Night of the Living Dead, may not always be a good call. In the case of Judith O’Dea, she represents the archaic idea that women are useless shrieking creatures who are incapable of action in the face of danger. She bogs down the picture with her frenzied pouting recollections. When Ben slaps her across the face, hitting a woman actually comes a triumphant moment as a viewer, which as a woman is a really depressing confession to make.