As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle IP’s #5 pick, Children of Men (2006, Cuarón)
I’m not going to lie, the beginning of the aughts was not a good time for science fiction. By this time, The Matrix had already killed its goodwill with overtly explanatory monologues by Col. Sanders in sequels, Tim Burton had butchered a classic Planet of the Apes remake by subbing in Mark Wahlberg for Charlton Heston, and for some reason we adapted an Isaac Asimov story starring Will Smith sporting Converse. There were a couple of bright spots but they seemed to fade quickly.
Then in 2006, like a lighting bolt, sci-fi returned. Without a doubt, the biggest release and Christmas present to viewers everywhere was Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men. 10 years from the release, the precise accuracy of the predicted direction of the world makes it an even better science fiction film and all the more important.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle GWC’s #4 pick, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love (2002).
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite living and active filmmaker so I was overjoyed to see two of his films make the Ultimate Playbill. His themes of broken people trying to find a place through a makeshift, damaged family always speak to me. It also made my day that Punch Drunk Love, one of his lesser talked about films made the cut.
By 2002, PTA was one of the hottest new voices in film. With Boogie Nights (1997) and Magnolia (1999) under his belt, the film world was at his feet. And as the strongest new director to come out of Hollywood in a very long time, Anderson really could have done whatever he wanted. Instead he chose to make a film that many people at the time considered a misstep: an Adam Sandler movie.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle holybeeofephesus’s #2 pick, Casino Royale (2006).
By the time Holy Bee selected Casino Royale with the thirteenth overall pick, I had only made one pick myself and was already digging in to my backpocket for another favorite film. The 21st(!) film in the Bond series was already on my short list, so I was quite pleased to see it chosen so early for the Ultimate Playbill. While there were five total Bond films eligible for selection, including 2012’s excellent Skyfall, I’m confident the right Bond film was picked.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle holybeeofephesus’s #3 pick, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit mad and disappointed when Gangs of New York ended up on our favorite movies of the last fifteen years. Martin Scorsese’s tale of of historical revenge set in Five Points of Manhattan was not a favorite of mine. The story is simple enough: In 1846, the Five Points was a gang laden part of New York. People claiming to be Nativist (American born people of British descent) are led by William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a man hell bent on keeping control over and away from freshly immigrated people. His main rival is Priest Vallon ( Liam Neeson) and his gang the Dead Rabbits, comprised of newly immigrated Irish Catholics. Bill manages to kill Vallon and subdue the war but not before Vallon’s son Amsterdam witness the act and manages to flee. 16 years later, Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) returns and infiltrates Bill’s Nativist gang in the hopes of killing him for revenge.
The last time I saw it was in 2002 and besides Daniel Day-Lewis, I was feeling very let down by what I watched. I didn’t know what to make of it besides it being a giant mess ending with a horrible attempt by U2 at winning an Oscar. Scorsese was (and still is) a cornerstone of what makes me a cinephile, so I felt very strongly in my opinion that Scorsese made a misstep with the film. Because I hardly ever heard it spoken in film circles in the past 14 years since it was released, I felt validated with my assessment of the film. It lay forgotten in my mind until it was included in the draft, and I was forced to question my opinion of Scorsese’s huge movie.
The beauty of the Ultimate Playbill is that it has given me a reason to reevaluate my past conceptions of films, loved or hated. Rewatches have been all over the map but for some reason I felt excited to rewatch Gangs. I am glad I gave it another chance because while I still have a lot of problems with the film, the final product is something truly cinematic. To understand the film, It is necessary to provide some context to the production and lengths Scorsese and team went to get the film exactly how they wanted.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle djlazybear’s #3 pick, Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
Defining yourself is no easy task. One often finds themselves during a course of hardship in their life and uses the experience to paint a much clearer picture of their ideal self. The Coen Brothers have made it their mission with their films to shatter this idea and show people trapped in their cyclical natures.
With Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers made their cruelest film showcasing this point. While some may argue for No Country for Old Men (2007), that film actually ended on a note that people still have a fire in them. Inside Llewyn Davis has none of that and remains a ton more relatable than No Country to the average person caught up in the same cycle.
Using the early 1960’s New York – Greenwich Village folk scene as a springboard, the Coens leap into the frustrating tale of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) and his inability to break through musically, financially, and through his own depression.
In case we haven’t told you, the Institute of Idle Time turns 15 years old this year, and we’re all coming up with different ways to commemorate the occasion. Our most recent celebration of pop trivia and frivolity yielded our Ultimate Mixtape, featuring 150 of our faculty’s favorite tracks since our inception in 2001. Music has always been the centerpiece for our organization, the entree to our banquet of culture, and though it remains the biggest motivating factor in bringing the Idlers together, there are a lot of other things we’re interested in.
While music and comics are no doubt essential to the pop culture pyramid, movies, films, or cinema, if you will, has long been the neglected middle child of Idle Time, and after fifteen years, and the infusion of some young, cinepheliac blood, the Institute is finally throwing its voice into the arena of talking pictures.
Though we’ve taken time to honor films during the Oscar season, we don’t regularly talk about one of our most beloved pass times: watching movies. To rectify over a decade of movie conversations never had (and some just not committed to text), Idle Time is hitting the ground running with a project that nearly matches the scope of the Ultimate Mixtape: The 2016 Ultimate Playbill.
A group of nine Idlers have each drafted five of their favorite films in the last 15 years, making a solid list of 50 films, that are more than watchable, we’d say they’re downright lovable. We’ve organized them in a spreadsheet and we’re currently working out ways for all of us to watch and review these films before the end of November. At that time, we will hold a bonfire, similar to the one used for the Ultimate Mixtape, to eliminate the top 40 until only our collective “favorite” remains.
From this point on, each week we will be previewing one film from the list, with the hope of encouraging members of the institute and movie fans alike to revisit some of the cinematic gems we’ve enjoyed, but never talked about since starting the Institute. As is IT tradition, each post will be a blurb positing our most recent thoughts, feelings, and insights into our favorite movies, which we will share with you (whether you want us to or not).
This first week, one of LDG’s picks had the honor of being reviewed, thanks in part to my free trial of Shudder via Amazon.com. LDG brought a lot of horror titles to the list, and her 3rd pick was none other than the haunting gothic romance, Let the Right One In, courtesy of our friends in Sweden. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s one of the most original love stories of recent memory and has the added bonus of having vampires. If you’re trying to watch it right away, you can always sign up to try Shudder, but this is a film worth owning and it wouldn’t hurt to visit your local Amoeba or other video outlet to pick up a used copy.
Whether you agree with us or don’t feel free to let us know how you feel in the comments or on the social web, but most of all, grab your friends, grab a movie, sit down and have a great time.
As part of our Ultimate Playbill project, each week a faculty member will take the time to extol the virtues of one of the beloved films on this list. This week, I tackle LDG’s #3 pick, Let the Right One In.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about tribes. How we form bonds with people who share similar beliefs, customs and ideas. It’s interesting to me that in a population of billions, one of the ways we establish our individual identity is through the people we surround ourselves with. Perhaps one of the most meaningful things we do with our lives is open ourselves to others, build trusting relationships, and love one another. At its heart, Let the Right One In is a film about a young boy finding his tribe and forming his first truly intimate bond.
From the moment we first see Oskar (Kåre Hederbrant), as a hollow reflection in the window reaching into the night, he exudes a sense isolation. His mother, though loving, is preoccupied with finding romantic love with another man, while his rarely seen father has a boyfriend. Whether his parents were ever married is unclear, but Oskar walks through life with ambivalence, knowing that he is not the most important thing in either of their lives. Continue reading Movie Mondays #1: Let the Right One In→