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30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite 2010 Film This Time Last Year

The Challenge is complete. Hope you enjoyed the ride.
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Toy Story 3 by Shawn Bourdo I'm taking this category to mean - a movie that I was a huge fan of last summer. Since we're knee deep in the Summer of 2011 - it's hard to think back just a mere 12 months ago to that fateful Summer of 2010. It wasn't nearly as great as the Summer of 2009 that gave us The Hangover, Up, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Star Trek. The summer was much less hyped and that's kinda appreciated. Early in the summer I enjoyed but was underwhelmed by Iron Man 2.
Drop Dead Fred (1991) by Amanda Salazar Now honestly, there were two favorite films as a child but one of them I have already used in the first entry of this series for my favorite film, Predator. For my next favorite film as a kid it would have to be Drop Dead Fred. It is a pretty simple story about a young woman going through a rough time in her life as she is visited by her childhood imaginary friend, Fred. Doing the best that he can, Fred tries old tricks to cheer her up but is afraid that she
ANPO (2010) by El Bicho I saw director Linda Hoaglund's ANPO at its World Premiere at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Since then, it has played at a few other film festivals and screened at several colleges across the U.S. but I don't expect a theatrical release in the States because of the unflattering light cast on the government and military. ANPO, as it is known in Japan, refers to The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, which was agreed to in 1960. It allowed for American troops and military bases in Japan,
Blood Simple (1984) by Shawn Bourdo Independent films. By definition, I believe we are talking about low-budget, limited-release films. Unless it's your first student film that you're making with your buddies on your credit cards (yes, you, Robert Rodriguez) then most films aren't truly "independent" - they rely on the "system" in one form or another. But the spirit is that these are creator-owned and -directed products. That there wasn't a studio executive breathing down the neck of the director to make sure that the Coke can was properly placed. These are movies typically driven by story not by actors.
Rashomon (1950) by El Bicho This might be the unfairest category of the challenge because I love a great many foreign films and directors that I would like to draw attention to, but I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, so here goes. To come up with an answer, I focused on who was my favorite director in this category. Akira Kurosawa slightly edged out Ingmar Bergman. Then I had to narrow it down to just one title, which was again difficult because if there is any director with a surplus of outstanding films, it's Kurosawa: Yojimbo,
Dying at Grace (2003) by Dusty Somers My favorite documentary is also probably the most difficult film I've ever watched. Allan King's Dying at Grace features him taking a small crew into the palliative care ward of Toronto's Grace Health Centre and documenting the final days of five terminally ill patients, with their permission. Like most of King's documentaries, this one doesn't feature narration or interviews; it's an unblinking form of direct cinema that places the viewer squarely in the center of the action. We watch as three elderly women and an elderly man struggle with cancer and as a
The Incredibles (2004) by Shawn Bourdo The suggestion of the title for today's pic assumes that my animated film might be analagous to a children's film. And yet, it's hard to imagine picking an animated film that one would strictly classify as a children's film to be my favorite. Is someone going to pick A Extremely Goofy Movie over Bambi? One is aimed strictly at the younger audience and the other Disney film contains a storyline that would easily fit under best drama if the characters weren't furry woodland creatures. My love of animated features comes from all the different
The Maltese Falcon (1941) by El Bicho Dashiell Hammett's 1930 detective novel was the basis for multiple movies, but it's the third one (remember this when people decry all remakes) directed by John Huston that captivates me. It's a compelling tale of double-crosses and broken deals brought to life by the vivid potrayals of the brilliant cast, featuring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. In San Francisco, Miss Ruth Wonderly (Astor) enlists the aide of private investigators Sam Spade (Bogart) and Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) to help retrieve her runaway sister who has taken up with a
Peeping Tom (1960) by Dusty Somers In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock shocked the moviegoing world with Psycho. The same year in Britain, Michael Powell caused even more scandal with his psychosexual horror masterpiece Peeping Tom, but while Hitchcock's reputation as a master filmmaker was only solidified, Powell's career was effectively ruined. Peeping Tom possesses the same bold, expressionistic approach to color that Powell often used in his collaborations with Emeric Pressburger (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes). Here, the entire film is an exercise in boldness, as Powell frankly explores the voyeuristic nature of filmmaking and film viewing, seen through the lens
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) by El Bicho The films of Terry Gilliam are some of the most imaginative in terms of story ideas and visual effects in the history of the art form, and Adventures of... is no different. Based on a real 18th Century German nobleman who told outrageous tales of his adventures, which have been written about, this fantastic film delivers exactly what the title states. During the Age of Reason, an unnamed European city is at war with the Turks. In the city, a traveling theater troupe is performing the story of Baron Munchausen, when
Punch-Drunk Love (2002) by Dusty Somers My list of favorite movies is overflowing with romantic films made long before I was born. The Earrings of Madame de..., Casablanca, All That Heaven Allows, A Matter of Life and Death -- all achingly romantic and superb films. Finding a truly romantic modern film -- at least one made in the U.S. -- is a much more difficult proposition that becomes nigh impossible when you narrow it down to romantic comedies. That most turgid of genres is responsible for perhaps the bulk of insipid Hollywood studio fare these days (although the comic book
Speed (1994) by Amanda Salazar This was a difficult one to pick as well, but I had to go with my gut on this one and for my favorite action film I would have to pick Speed. This early '90s classic, if I may call it that, is about as action packed as you can get, with car chases (it all takes place on a bus), FBI agents, bad guys with missing fingers, and a great score that kicks up the pace of the entire film. Keanu Reeves is the rogue FBI agent that gets himself on a bus that

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite Comedy

Day 18
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It's A Gift (1934) by El Bicho Narrowing it down to one is tough. I could probably take part in a "30 Days of Comedy" challenge with all my favorites, but I'd like to draw your attention to this gem by W.C. Fields that leaves me in stiches every time. Fields plays grocery store owner Harold Bissonette (pronounced "bis-on-ay"), though like many iconic comic actors, he just plays his infamous person fans loved: "a misanthropic and hard-drinking egotist who remained a sympathetic character despite his snarling contempt for dogs, children and women," perfectly described by an unknown writer at Wikipedia.

30-Day Film Challenge: Your Favorite Drama

Day 17
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Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969) by Shawn Bourdo We're headed into a run of genre specific film choices. It's always a bit difficult because the best films seem to defy genre definitions. Or certainly they crossover between multiple genres. Is Frankenstein a horror picture or a thoughtful drama? It's a bit of both depending on your mood when watching. And it'd be easy to take the obvious route and choose Shawshank Redemption or Citizen Kane because they are so widely regarded. And those films might rank higher on my overall enjoyment list, but I'm particularly fond of the
Dead Poets Society (1989) by Dusty SomersI used to be a sucker for Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, excited by the film's themes of nonconformity, devastated by the tragedy that befalls one of the characters, and inspired by the iconic, desk-standing conclusion. This movie played me like a fiddle. Now, all I see is a series of empty manipulations wrapped in the shiny packaging of Hollywood sentimentality. It's a film with no convictions other than to tread the safest, most predictable path where the dividing line between who is a good adult and who is a bad adult are drawn
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) by El Bicho This holiday classic by Frank Capra offers a great message about people unable to see the big picture of how good they have it. Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a selfless man who sacrifices his own dreams and ambitions for the benefit of others throughout his life. Distraught over his own struggles, George considers suicide because with his insurance policy he thinks he's worth more dead than alive to his family. However, Clarence the Angel (Henry Travers) appears and shows George his notion that life would have better if he hadn't been
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) by Dusty Somers When I told my wife I wanted to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams, she asked me incredulously, "You want to see a 3-D movie?" The reaction was understandable. My dislike of the gimmicky technology reaches Roger Ebert levels of curmudgeonly. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the latest documentary from Werner Herzog, and it wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows my movie tastes that I'd be all about seeing it. But I surprised even myself with my appreciation for Herzog's functional use of 3-D. The film explores the Chauvet caves

30-Day Film Challenge: Guilty Pleasure

Day 13
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Spaceballs (1987) by Dusty Somers Mel Brooks' cinematic output is reliably hit-or-miss, but he's got a couple of bona fide classics under his belt, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. But I'll be honest with you -- there's a different Brooks film that gets more play in my house, and that's Spaceballs, a Star Wars parody that throws in references to Alien, Star Trek and Lawrence of Arabia, among others. Spaceballs doesn't touch Brooks' best work in terms of farce, satire or cleverly lowbrow humor. For the most part, it's just juvenile and packed to the brim with lazy jokes
Night Shift (1982) by El Bicho Had to think about this a bit, but taking the words "least" and "favorite" into account as opposed to "most despised," I decided to go with Ron Howard. Though I haven't seen all of his directorial efforts, I've enjoyed quite a number of his films (such as Splash, Parenthood, and Apollo 13) and intensely disliked a couple others (The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Beautiful Mind). Yet in all of them I don't get any sense of a personal style while watching his work. He's not an auteur whose imprint on a film
Strangers on a Train (1951) by Amanda Salazar When it comes to directors I am really only obsessed with one: Alfred Hitchcock. I definitely enjoy, respect, and appreciate others (P.T. Anderson, Christopher Nolan, to name a few) but I have not been as ardent a follower and as dedicated to their filmography as Hitchcock's. It is hard to choose a favorite when it comes to Alfred so I went with one of the first films that I saw of his and one that I often re-watch when I'm in the mood to see anything that he has done. Strangers on
Sabrina (1954) by Steve Geise She may not have been the most technically impressive actress, but there's no denying that Audrey Hepburn was a captivating screen presence. This is the movie where she first worked her magic on me, and it's still my favorite of hers. Frankly, I'm not at all fond of her later hits such as My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany's, or Charade (especially Charade), but her fresh-faced innocence here was completely winning in this fairy tale of a working-class girl finding love among the wealthy, nicely paralleling her own journey from ingenue to film royalty. It's
Straight Time (1978) by Dusty Somers Like any of the categories that force me to pick a favorite, with this one, I eventually just have to commit, even if I really don't want to. It pains me to neglect Humphrey Bogart, Toshiro Mifune, Jean-Paul Belmondo and countless others, but going with my namesake -- Dustin Hoffman -- just feels right. Ignore the past 20-some years, and you have one of the finest American actors of his generation. I could talk affectionately about The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Straw Dogs, Lenny and hell, even Tootsie. But here, let's talk about Straight Time,
A Christmas Story (1983) by El Bicho It was a close race, but currently A Christmas Story exhibits the most control over my speech patterns. Doesn't even have to be the holiday season for me to let loose some of author Jean Shepherd's brilliant gems. When there's a package on the step, I say "Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian." When something doesn't go right, I'll say "fudge" and then in a quick aside point out, "only I didn't say 'fudge'." I've even been known to breach etiquette and go straight to the triple-dog dare. With some of the most memorable
Now and Then (1995) by Amanda Salazar Not only did I watch this movie when I was younger, reminiscing about my childhood with my girlfriends but this movie is all about past to present and "the good ol' days." The film that will always remind me of my past is Now and Then. Perhaps it is the sleepovers that we had watching this film or even us deciding which character we were most like in the movie but I can't help thinking this film not only reminds me of my past but also of my best girlfriends. Yes, it falls
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) by El Bicho I was 17 when Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out on May 23, 1984, and that would be the first time I waited in line overnight with a group of high school friends. Though I vividly remember strecthing out on lawn chairs under the stars, I can't remember who all was there. The location was Orange, CA at the theaters formerly known as the Cinedome. Although we took off school (I had Mom's permission) in order to be part of the first group to
Sunrise (1927) by Dusty Somers I consider it part of my duty as an older brother to help educate my 15-year-old brother on some of the finer points of culture. Sometimes it feels like a lost cause, but then I think back to when I was 15 and I empathize. Earlier this year, I took my brother to see a screening with live score of the sublime Sunrise -- his first silent film. Perhaps Sunrise isn't the best silent film with which to introduce an uninitiated teenager -- maybe something from Chaplin or Keaton would have been a better choice
Requiem for a Dream (2000) by El Bicho Although I don't watch films to purposely feel down, I know this title will take me there because writer/director Darren Aronofsky created one of the most disturbing, visceral experiences I've ever had in a movie theater. Based on Hubert Selby, Jr.'s 1978 novel of the same name, Requiem for a Dream is a brutal examination of drug addiction through the lives of four characters. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is an elderly widow in Brooklyn who dreams of being on TV. When the opportunity to appear on a game show arises, she begins
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) by Shawn Bourdo Is anyone going to pick anything other than a comedy? Do you watch Kramer Vs. Kramer to feel good? But the term "to feel good" all by itself suggests that you are feeling bad to start. Well, The Naked Gun is a perfect tonic to that for me. It's even crazier and more simple than Airplane. I can drop in on this film at any point and start to instantly feel better. The combination of non-stop gags, not worrying about a plot and the fun of guessing
Saving Private Ryan (1998) by El Bicho Set during WWII, three Ryan brothers have died within days of each other. The higher-ups don't want this family to suffer any more so they order Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men behind enemy lines in France to find Private James Frances Ryan (Matt Damon) so he can return home. Aside from the technically stellar sequence of the landing at Omaha Beach and a couple of compelling characters, Saving Private Ryan falls short in a number of areas that almost cause me to dislike the film more than I like it. Tom

30-Day Film Challenge: Favorite Film

The Cinema Sentries are taking part in the 30-Day Film Challenge during June. Join them.
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Citizen Kane (1941) by El Bicho There are quite a number of films I love. Many of which I could easily call my favorite on any given day, but if forced to pick one that demonstrates outstanding talent across the board and would be the most accessible, I have to go with Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which impresses me greatly every time I watch it. Inside a palatial estate, an old man dies alone in the middle of the night. A newsreel reveals him to be Charles Foster Kane, once powerful newspaper tycoon and heir to the third richest goldmine.

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