My Adventures in the Tallyteers Pt. 1: The First 100 Films

“You must watch movies all the time?”  I guess?  Sort of?  Do I?  It doesn’t seem like I do.  Maybe more than most people, but not nearly as much as a lot of other people.

And it was that namby-pamby bit of soul-searching that caused me to participate in the Tallyteers, a group of Twitter users who obsessively track every single movie they watch.  Some write whole posts about each film, while others just keep adding films to ever-expanding lists.  In my namby-pambiness, I’ve chosen a method that straddles the line, and have decided to write about my viewing choices every time I hit the century mark.

My Top Five Favorite 2011 Releases (So Far)

1.  The Fighter

I’m a sucker for David O. Russell.  The man may be a complete a-hole, but he knows how to push my buttons as a movie-goer.  No big surprise then that I loved this.

2.  Super

I was surprised that I loved this!  I found it had more in common with ‘Watchmen’ than ‘Kick-Ass,’ and I think Gunn really gets to the heart of how males deal with unjust heartache.  Not that we run around and whack people on the heads with a wrench, but there’s still truth in there.

3.  Becoming Santa

I reviewed this for Cinematical:  “‘Becoming Santa’ has the goods to become an instant Holiday classic. It’s charming, informative, and, best of all, really funny. Think ‘Best Worst Movie’ for the Christmas season, and you have a pretty good idea of what (director) Myers has cooked up here.”

4.  The Green Hornet

Cue sheepish grin.  I know it’s not Top Five material, exactly, and I expect it to fall off soon, but I thought ‘The Green Hornet’ was a blast — a throwback to reckless 90’s Summer action-comedies.  It just didn’t seem to take with audiences, most of them out for blood with the very first hint that their beloved Michel Gondry might have gotten creative feedback from producer Seth Rogen or Sony.

5.  Sound of My Voice

This is the film in my top five that I’m most looking forward to revisiting.

My Top FIve Favorite Vintage (pre-1990’s) Movies I’d Never Seen Before 2011

1.  Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (’82)

This insightful youth culture satire plays Austin every now and then, but I’d halfway dismissed it as not my thing (thinking it was a pseudo-doc about a punk band).  I watched it on a lark, and it was exactly my thing, and everyone should see it right now.  It’s like ‘Network’ for disaffected teenage girls.

2.  Marjoe (’72)

This marks the first time I’d ever watched a film in its entirety on YouTube.  It’s amazing that such a unaccomplished actor (Marjoe starred in ‘Star Crash’ and ‘Food of the Gods’) can manipulate a crowd so thoroughly, and you get to see that here in this documentary covering Marjoe’s phony evangelical roots.

3.  Night and the City (’50)

I programmed this as part of Wrestlephilia, a pro wrestling movie marathon, and it was the best (and bleakest) film of the night.  It’s classic noir with a centerpiece fight scene brutal enough to hold its own with anything coming out today.

4.  Tales of Terror (’62)

I’m rationing out the Roger Corman “Poe” films.  I’d never seen a single one until last year, and I’ve loved every one of them I’ve seen.  I’m trying my best not to breeze through them, because once I’m done, there aren’t any more.

5.  The Unholy Three (’30)

Oh, man.  This is the original “midget con man disguises himself as a baby” film (well, sort of — this is a remake of the silent version with the same primary cast).  I loved every second of this movie.  There’s a modern energy to the humor, despite its age, and the sight of Lon Chaney playing an old lady (in his first, last, and only “talky”) and Harry Earles (‘Freaks’) playing a toddler is hilariously weird in a way that you can’t look away from.  Highly recommended.

My Top Five Favorite Modern Films (1990-2010) That I’d Never Seen Before 2011

1.  Fair Game

Had no idea this was based on a true story before I sat down to watch it.  Is it just me or has Naomi Watts become more and more like Nicole Kidman — brittle and icy, delivering technically “good” performances that remain at arm’s reach from performances that connect warmly with audiences?

2.  Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows

This is a somewhat outdated doc, since Vince McMahon and Bret Hart have made up, but still interesting and a great time capsule of late 90’s wrestling.  I’ve never gotten behind the idea of Hart as the victim of some heinous atrocity, especially since he was quitting WWF right away to become a millionaire someplace else (WCW).

3.  Humpday

I don’t think of myself as a big “mumblecore” fan, based on the things I’ve seen with that label (‘Mars,’ ‘Greenberg,’ ‘Silver Bullets,’ ‘Cyrus’), but if they were more like ‘Humpday,’ I would be.  I liked how natural all of the performances were (particularly Alycia Delmore), making a lot of the film feel real in the best possible way.

4.  I Am Comic

If you’re interested in stand-up comedy at all, this is a must.  Almost every major comedian is interviewed here, sharing their stories of struggle and triumph.  These (very entertaining) talking heads are intercut with the story of Ritch Shydner, once a recognizable headliner in the late 1980s, now attempting to come out of self-imposed retirement.

5.  Topsy-Turvy

I reviewed this one for Gordon and the Whale:  “It’s a lengthy journey, but not without reward. Anyone who’s had any experience in putting on a play can appreciate ‘Topsy-Turvy’s’ backstage politics and opening night jitters.”

The Five Worst Movies of My First 100 Tallied

1.  Night Train to Terror

God and Satan trade asinine stories to determine the fate of a train full of dancing teenagers.

2.  Mutant Hunt

In the future, an evil corporation turns cyborgs into mutants by pumping them full of illegal drugs.

3.  Rockula

A teen vampire becomes a rock star to save the girl he loves.

4.  R.O.T.O.R.

The prototype for a robotic cop (NOT pictured above) is accidentally activated before it’s ready, and stalks a young woman for speeding.

5.  Dracula 3000

Casper Van Dien, Coolio, Erika Eliniak, and Tony “Tiny” Lister Jr. fight Dracula on a spaceship.