26 June 2008

3 x 13 Films (1969, 1982, 1995)

Today is my 3x13th birthday, thought I'd commemorate it by delving into the pop culture I've seen and avoided from the past times I've turned a multiple of 13.


Picking 13 films from 1969 to write about is both hard, and easy. I've barely seen more than 13 films listed as being released that year.. Going by this Wikipedia list of 1969 releases, the ones I've seen are as follows (obviously, I saw these later than 1969): All Monsters Attack, Bambi Meets Godzilla, Battle of Britain, Blood of Dracula's Castle, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Easy Rider, Medium Cool, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Once Upon a Time in the West, Sweet Charity, True Grit, The Wild Bunch, Women in Love, Z. Not sure why I've never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, just doesn't appeal to me, same with Midnight Cowboy and Oh! What a Lovely War. Of the films on this list, I can easily say that (1)The Wild Bunch is my favorite, followed by (2)On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Lazenby wasn't a half-bad Bond, really), and (3)Once Upon a Time in the West. Even though the Western was a dying genre by then, there were still some real gems being produced. (4)True Grit was also an entertaining film, with John Wayne in full John Wayne mode. (5)Easy Rider is in essence a Western, too, just a damn stinkin' hippie version (still an enjoyable film. (6)All Monsters Attack was one of the better Godzilla films, and (7)Bambi Meets Godzilla is a true classic. (8)Medium Cool I saw in a 'Film and Culture' type class, the less said about that mess the better. (9)Sweet Charity is both a craptacular, and spectacular musical, Fosse was one groovy choreographer, and MacLaine is just so darn delicious, but it's too long, and the musical numbers aren't all that great. (10)Women in Love is Ken Russell in one of less weird phases, I prefer crazed Russell, personally. (11)A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a childhood classic, but nothing one needs to see past childhood. (12)Battle of Britain was one of those big epic films, focused on the early air defense of Britain, saw that recently and couldn't believe Ian McShane was in that, expected him to bust out with the salty language, was disappointed when he didn't. Finally, (13)Blood for Dracula's Castle is pretty bad, but if John Carradine was in it, I probably have seen it.


This year's more in my wheelhouse. The movies of my 13th year, peak geek going to film times. The list of films released is much larger, and the lists of movies I caught is pretty large, too. I very nearly saw a picture a week back then.

(1)Blade Runner was awesome, it was too much for my 13 year old brain though, found it kind of boring back then, but upon rewatching it, It's grown to be my favorite picture from that year. (2)Star Trek II was my favorite summer popcorn picture from that year. Even saw it as part of my birthday party, remember trekking out to Hollywood and catching it at the world famous Chinese Theatre, I didn't admit to tearing up when Spock bought it, but I guess I'll admit to it now. (3)Poltergeist was my 2nd favorite popcorn film from that year, it holds up pretty well. (4)Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a natural to make the list, Cameron Crowe did his research at the same place I would be attending a few years later (yeah, Samohi!), and much of the cast also attended Samohi, speaking of the cast, a ridiculous number of those cast members went on to pretty big careers, and then of course there's that one scene with Phoebe Cates, which definitely made an impression on my delicate 13 year old mind. (5)Creepshow holds a special place in my heart given that it was the first R-Rated film I snuck into without parental supervision, looking back, that film probably didn't deserve an R Rating, and would have been PG-13 had it been released today (or would have had a few edits to get itself a PG-13, but PG-13 didn't exist yet, it took the gruesome bloody, beating heart scene from Temple of Doom a few years later to spur a change to the MPAA guidelines). (6)Gandhi wasn't half bad for one of those big epic biopics, pure Oscar bait, though. (7)Conan the Barbarian was another fun film from the period, our Governator used to kick all sorts of ass (even though he couldn't speak all sorts of English). (8)Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was a fun film, one of the few films on this list I saw twice in the theatre that year, I was a huge Steve Martin fan, and if it's on cable, I'll watch it. (9)Rocky III is my favorite Rocky film, and the only one I've ever seen start to finish (which makes it pretty easily my favorite), was dragged to it by a friend, and didn't hate it as much as I expected to. (10)Quest for Fire was another film I loved back then, another film I saw more than once, it was playing at the Pickwood (long gone, was demolished to make way for the Westside Pavilion), and I seem to remember them having $2.00 seats during the summer on weekdays, so I rode my bike over and caught a screening after spending an hour or two at the nearby arcade. (11)Tron was a great film, dammit (at least through the eyes of a geeky 13 year old, even if the plot wasn't very good, and in retrospect the effects were kind of cheesy, the concept was pretty awesome, and the Tron arcade game based off of it was terrific). (12)The Dark Crystal was a well made film, I liked the use of Henson puppets in a non-muppet film, judging from the B.O. of the film, most people didn't agree with me at the time. (13)Cat People is the only film I'm including on this list that I didn't catch in theatres at the time, but when I caught it a few years later on VHS I remember really enjoying it (or at least really enjoying seeing lots of Natassja Kinski). I know what you're probably thinking, you're thinking, "Where's ET?", I disliked that film then, and I continue to dislike it now, it didn't make my worst of Spielberg list, but it came close.


This was a pretty crappy year for film when looking over the list. Some spectacularly bad films were released that year (Batman Forever, Showgirls, Tank Girl, Congo, Vampire in Brooklyn, Mr. Holland's Opus, Judge Dredd, not to mention Waterworld, which wasn't half as bad as its reputation), some entertaining messes (Assassins, Jumanji, Mallrats, Mortal Kombat, The Hunted, Virtuosity) and some overly earnest period pieces (Apollo 13, Braveheart, Rob Roy) . On to the films I liked. (1)Sense and Sensibility, wait, what? This was my favorite film released in 1995. Yes, yes it was. I'm as shocked as you are. (2)To Die For, Kidman has never been better, a shame really. (3)Crimson Tide is as good of a semi-serious action picture as you'll ever see, gets better every year as another crop of poor imitators get unleashed each summer and fall. (4)Mighty Aphrodite was later period Woody Allen at his funny, introspective, and kind of pervy best. (5)The Usual Suspects doesn't hold up as well as you might have hoped it would have. Seemed fresh and exciting at the time, but in retrospect it's not all that (though still a very good film). (6)Twelve Monkeys isn't a great film, but I'm a sucker for Gilliam. (7)Rumble in the Bronx was the last really good Jackie Chan picture, which is a shame cause it was also the first one to get any sort of wide release in the United States. I actually saw this in Alhambra at a Chinese Theater (not to be confused with THE Chinese Theater) before its US release. Catch his good Hong Kong pictures from before his US success as a cartoon version of his former self, you won't regret it (my favorites from those days are Police Story 2, Armour of God II, and Drunken Master II, he was a force of nature in those days). (8)Casino wasn't Scorcese's best film, and it's about a half hour too long, but it's still worth seeing, and is still easily one of my 13 favorite films released that year. (9)Babe makes the list, even though I didn't see it in the theatres that year, don't know why I resisted seeing it initially, just didn't seem like something I'd be into at the time. (10)Toy Story was the beginning of the Pixar reign over Hollywood. They haven't made a bad picture yet, in my opinion, hopefully I won't change my mind after seeing WALL-E. The progress they've made in terms of computer tech in the past 13 years is remarkable, but story always comes first, and Pixar seems to get that better than the other studios pumping out all these computer animated spectacles. (11)Friday, is a film I really enjoyed, and I don't care who knows it. (12) Devil in a Blue Dress was another fantastic film, not sure why more Easy Rawlins films weren't made, there's enough source material to have made more, but Denzel probably is a bit too pricey to continue with the role, and the film wasn't successful at the box office, even though it is one of the better neo-noir films to have been made in the 90s. (13)Dead Man is another amazing film. Jarmusch and Depp at their 'quirky' best. Shot in glorious black and white, meanders aimlessly, and is coupled with an annoying Neil Young composed score, it's nevertheless a great film. Of the films on this 1995 list probably the least likely for you to have seen, and the one you should seek out as soon as possible, go ahead, put it in your netflix or Blockbuster Online queue, you won't regret it (OK, there's a good chance that you'll regret it, it is 'quirky' afterall, and it's not everybody's bag of chips, but there are some amazing moments in this film, and Depp and Farmer are fantastic throughout).

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