Movies You Need to See: Casablanca

June 21, 2010


This film is one of the most well-known and watched American film of all time. For generations now it has awed all who watch it. Casablanca is one of those films that is what movies are all about.  It has everything that a movie from the golden age of cinema should have. A great story,  compelling love, a huge amount of rich characters, and a perfect snapshot of the time that it was made in. This is probably one of the most quotable movie of all time. Many sayings we have in our language are line from this amazing script of this film. Even though it was made 70 years ago its influence still lives on in not only the sayings that we use everyday but the characters we see in our films. If you havent seen the film, watch it immediately and you’ll know exactly what i mean. I actually had a friend who had watched this movie for the first time pretty recently and he told me he was amazed by all the lines we hear everyday that came from this film. It is truly embedded in our culture.

This film also had an all-star cast in its day. For starter as the two leading characters it had the great Humphrey Bogart and the amazingly beautiful and talented Ingrid Bergman. Humphrey Bogart is one of the most recognizable American actors of all time. He was wildly popular with both men and women. He was the ultimate man’s man, everyone wanted to be just like Humphrey Bogart. Hell I wanna be Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman is one of the greatest actresses ever to live and was loved by everyone who knew her. Alfred Hitchcock once said he never met a man who knew Ingrid that wasnt secretly in love with her. She is my personal favorite actress of all time and for good reason, she is simply amazing. She is the winner of three academy awards and is among the few people who have won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony. Not only the leading member of the cast are great but that are surrounded by amazing supporting actors. The supporting cast includes, Paul Henreid, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains.

The score of this film is also something of note. It is always high on the lists of greatest movie scores of all time. It is so iconic that Warner Brothers studio uses it at the beginning of their trailers when the WB symbol is seen. The popular song as time goes by is also from this film.

Everything about this film comes together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It is definition movie magic. This film will grab you right at the beginning and not let you go untill the very end. If you havent seen it please do so. It is one of my very favorite films that anyone with a heart will enjoy.

-Danny Johnson

Here’s the original trailer.


Movies You Need to See: Dr. Strangelove

June 11, 2010


The whole title of this 1964 black comedy by filmmaking Legend Stanley Kubrick is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Genre of Black Comedy it is basically a comedy in which much of the humor is based on of events and things that are considered Taboo. So basically Black Comedy is making light of things that aren’t traditionally subject to satire.

Dr. Strangelove is the ultimate Black Comedy for a few reasons.  It came out in 1964 at the height of the Cold War. In early 1960’s America the threat of Nuclear war with the Soviet Union was a very real possibility. It was in the back of everyone’s mind whether or not they would be killed in a nuclear holocaust. That is certainly not something to laugh about right?  Well that is exactly what Dr. Strangelove did. It satirized the worlds collective greatest fear. It took a lot of gall to do that but it paid off. The product is what Joe and I both agree is the single funniest film ever made.

I also think this film could have a new audience in my generation because of our upbringing in Post 911 America. Just the baby boomer generation had the fear of being destroyed by the communists at any moment my generation had the threat of being killed in a terrorist attack at any moment following the few years after 911. Although our Age of Fear really didn’t stick around as long as the cold war’s did, we still understand what it is like to live in constant fear. I think we also share the sentiment that sometimes in a situation that serious you sometimes just have to laugh. 

Dr. Strangelove is the king of Black Comedy by parodying the end of the world. It is also filled with hilarious performances by Peter Sellers (who plays three different roles in the film), George C. Scott, and Sterling Hayden. It has some of the most quotable lines in film and all culminates with one of the most memorable and hilarious scenes in cinema history. This film literally gets more hilarious every time you watch it. It has so many subtleties that you don’t pick up the first few times you watch it, especially the copious amounts of sexual innuendo.

Dr. Stangelove not only one of my favorite movies of all time but also the most genuinely hilarious film I have ever seen. I hope that you rent or buy this film if you havent seen it. It is truly a masterpiece. I think the thing I love most about Dr. Strangelove is what its message is which also happens to be one of my personal mottos; Sometimes when things are so dark and there doesn’t seem to be any hope, you Just gotta laugh. That’s really all you can do sometimes.

Here is the origional trailer.

-Danny Johnson

Movies You Need to See: Dead Alive

June 6, 2010


In 2001 suddenly a little known filmmaker from New Zealand became a household name, Peter Jackson. Within three years he went from little known director from New Zealand to being hailed and a master filmmaker by critics. What caused this skyrocket to stardom and acclaim was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am gonna make the assumption that everyone reading this has seen the LOTR films. If you havent, what the hell is wrong with you? Stop reading this right now and go do that and don’t come back untill you’re done. Seriously its ridiculous.

Before Peter Jackson was famous for his epics of Lord of the Rings and King Kong he was a director of horror films. Yep that’s right the man who brought us the beauty and complexity of Middle Earth was before that a Horror filmmaker, and a damn good one at that.

Dead Alive (or Brain Dead depending on the country you’re in), his best horror film in my opinion came out in 1992. It is by far the goriest film I have ever seen.  Its one of the only films that will make you laugh hysterically, be scarred and possibly want to vomit all in the same movie. It is over the top in every single aspect but it all comes together giving it a value greater than the sum of its parts. This is a must see for people who love old school gore effects and very dark humor. That being said it is not for everyone but I think most will enjoy it. It is also a great movie to bring to a party and make your friends watch it just for the shear shock factor.

If you love horror films, love to laugh and have a pretty strong stomach then this is a definate must see.

check out the origional trailer.

This one may be a bit out of context but hilarious all the same.

Movies You Need To See: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

May 29, 2010


It may seem kinda off the wall but the movie you need to see this week is a silent film. I know right-no dialogue? How are we supposed to watch a movie with no dialogue. Trust me this one is well worth watching. It is a German film by master filmmaker Fritz Lang made in 1927. It may be the very first Science fiction film ever made. No only is it groundbreaking in visual effects the story told itself it has a great political commentary.

 Although I havent seen a whole hell of a lot of silent films this is my very favorite and one of the only movies I own on VHS and is allowed to sit on the same shelf as the DVD’s. It was the favorite film of Adolf Hitler but don’t let that scare you, Saddam Hussein’s favorite movie was the Godfather. (we have this in common) 

The main reason I am telling you all this is because starting  Friday June 4, a new virtually complete version of the film is screening at Lagoon Cinema in Uptown Minneapolis.  Through the years many parts of the film were lost. On the copy I own on VHS it has several missing scenes where intertitles have to explain what happened in the missing scene. I am super excited to see the newly restored almost nearly complete version  and I will most likely be attending more than once. I strongly recommend that you do the same.

This film is absolutely Magnificent and to see it one the big screen restored to its original splendor is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Imagine as you’re sitting there watching this glorious piece of art that 80 years ago your great grand parents were probably doing the very same thing. (Metropolis was like the Avatar of the 1920’s only much better. About a completely different world with cutting edge visual effects.)

Seriously I cannot express to you enough. GO see this film.

 And if you dont want to make the drive to Uptown at least rent it or watch it on Youtube. (although it wont be nearly as great)

-Danny Johnson

Movies You Need To See: Fright Night.

May 22, 2010

A Great 80’s Horror flick. I just watched it today and throughly enjoyed it.  And for all the Twilight fans, This is a real vampire movie.