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The Top 100 Project
48 minutes | Aug 8, 2022
Far From Heaven
In Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes pays loving homage to sumptuous 1950's Douglas Sirk melodramas. This movie is actually more ambitious than anything Sirk ever did though. Haynes tackles multiple controversies in his "Issues Film", including closeted homosexuality and romance between a black man & a white woman. The actors---especially Julianne Moore---are excellent. Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert play it very close to the chest and they make their director's deliberately phony-sounding dialogue come across as true and accurate. These characters have three-dimensions and many shades of grey and they all get hurt by the way society was back then...and in some ways still is. Incidentally, we neglected to mention that Haynes himself is gay. We also skated over the horrible act of conversion therapy, which no one should have ever had to go through. And we didn't make the connection that Moore played ANOTHER desperately suppressed '50s housewife in her other 2002 Oscar nomination (The Hours). So don't ask who on Earth is politely knocking at your door, by golly. Just download the 453rd Ellises' Analysis, Pop, but also buy a bunch of Sparkplug Coffee. You can nab a 20% discount by using our "top100project" promo code. Also, shoot us some tweets (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and perhaps try gazing at the offerings on Ryan's sports movie podcast ("Scoring At The Movies").
54 minutes | Aug 1, 2022
Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Unlike many of the immature '80s teen comedies that were obsessed with sex, the star-making Fast Times At Ridgemont High stands out for not treating it like a leering joke. Amy Heckerling's first film actually cares about the young women in the huge cast, especially Jennifer Jason Leigh. Sean Penn is uncharacteristically hilarious in one of his characteristically Method roles, but this movie belongs to JJL. She gets to be funny sometimes the way Penn and Judge Reinhold do, sure, but her story gets into dark territory like unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Heckerling and Cameron Crowe (this was his first screenplay) do a masterful job of balancing that kind of serious material with a steady string of laughs. Anyway, you don't have to scalp tickets to listen to the 452nd Ellises' Analysis, especially if you're a cool guy who's intimidated by the intense football player. Just be somebody's baaaay-by tonight. And if you want to sip some coffee while learning about Cuba and having some food, then you should become a Sparkplug Coffee customer. They'll give you a 20% discount if you use our promo code ("top100project"). Also, tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and gander at the selections on Ryan's sports movie podcast ("Scoring At The Movies").
42 minutes | Jul 25, 2022
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane
Some movies stand out for being great, some stand out for being terrible and some stand out for how juicy the behind-the-scenes stories are. There's always been more gossip about the behaviour of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane co-stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford than there's been talk about the movie itself. And art imitated life because the actresses playing the sisters in Robert Aldrich's thriller had a mutual hate affair. Crawford has the subdued role as the paraplegic former movie star while Davis gets to eat every little bit of that lovely scenery as the alcoholic former child star. They're tremendous. It's a long movie though, considering their conflict is pretty much the entire reason this film exists. We also didn't think the twist holds up. Still, you can't beat juicy and Baby Jane is that, as is the gossipy jabber in the 451st Ellises' Analysis. So guzzle down some Sparkplug Coffee while you hear us talk about Jane guzzling her booze. You'll get a 20% discount on your next order of Sparkplug (not the booze) if you use our promo code ("top100project"). Also, tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and kindly check out Ryan's sport movie podcast "Scoring At The Movies".
51 minutes | Jul 18, 2022
Silver Linings Playbook
Bradley Cooper started his journey to become one of the most-versatile and most-respected actors of his generation when he starred in Silver Linings Playbook. In so many movies since then (and several films before then, really), he's been far better than a 5/10. Writer/director David O. Russell expertly mixes romance & comedy with serious issues like mental illness & irrational rage. Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence (who took home an Oscar), Robert De Niro and the rest of the eclectic cast are very up to the challenge. All of their reactions when they make the parlay after the goofy dance is reason enough to love this movie. So strap on your garbage bag and go for a little run with the kooky love of your life, then sit down with your extended family to enjoy some homemades as you all listen to the 450th Ellises' Analysis together. But, my cherie amour, if you dig on the java, you should also go to Sparkplug Coffee's website and apply our promo code ("top100project") at check-out. That will get you a one-time 20% discount. Plus, we'd love it if you would engage with us on Twitter (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and scoot over to "Scoring At The Movies" to hear Ryan's sports movie podcast.
52 minutes | Jul 4, 2022
Air Force One
There might not be a better accomplishment than to make a movie that has cynics like us want to stand up and chant "USA, USA!" Wolfgang Petersen's Air Force One does just that. Harrison Ford's dogged toughness and his humanity as perhaps the most-popular president in film history is the key here, but the rest of the large cast (especially Gary Oldman as a Russian terrorist) is pretty great too. There are also surprisingly timely echoes of many recent real-life events. In fact, here's a warning for those who don't want to hear us rip on a certain golf-obsessed Floridian: skip ahead a few minutes at the 13-minute mark. But this movie doesn't even need any of these shreds of verisimilitude. It's just a wonderfully entertaining thriller that makes you want to go back to the beginning and watch it again! We also opened up the comment bag at the end of this 449th Ellises' Analysis, which brought about a pretty big announcement. So while a dozen different terrible things are happening in the country that celebrates the 4th of July, enjoy our talk about Petersen & Ford's "smart dumb" movie. To do that even better, get yourself a plane-load of Sparkplug Coffee. They'll give you a 20% discount if you use our promo code ("top100project"). You can also tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and you should seek out Ryan's sports movie podcast ("Scoring At The Movies").
40 minutes | Jun 27, 2022
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Alfonso Cuaron's remarkable career was still in its opening act when he made this beautifully raunchy movie, which inspired us to record a fairly raunchy podcast. Y Tu Mama Tambien is drenched in sex and youthful machismo, but at least there's an older leading lady to offset that with loveliness and soul. Her 2 eager boy toys are fun, dumb and ready to rock at all times. Maribel Verdu puts a fresh spin on the trope of the sexy, older woman while Gael Garcia Bernal & Diego Luna click as friends who learn some lessons on the road. So be a good Charolastra as the 448th Ellises' Analysis hits the beach and dissects Y Tu Mama Tambien. On that long road trip, you'll need to bring along a pile of Sparkplug Coffee. A 20% discount can be had if you use our promo code ("top100project"). Contact us on Twitter (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and also look for Ryan's sports movie podcast (Scoring At The Movies).
50 minutes | Jun 20, 2022
It's hard to argue with the fact that CODA is a heartwarming and inclusive film about a family of fishers. Sian Heder's cast of legitimately deaf actors (Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant) gel well with the only hearing member of their family (Emelia Jones). As for Heder's story, it's a well-worn one about strife between people who truly love each other, despite the disputes. You also can't argue with the fact that the critics liked CODA. It's nice and it's safe. But that's the problem. When a movie wins the Oscar for Best Picture, it really should be a lot more remarkable than this is. It's not even the best picture in recent years about this subject. Sound Of Metal and the short documentary Audible are just plain better. So while you can't hate CODA, we failed to see why so many loved it as much as they did. Anyway, fire up our 447th Ellises' Analysis to hear us grade a nice movie on a steep curve, but order a batch of Sparkplug Coffee too. They'll give you a 20% discount if you plug in our promo code ("top100project"). Oh, and tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) while also taking a gander at Ryan's sports film podcast (Scoring At The Movies).
33 minutes | Jun 13, 2022
Hero (or "Heroes", as it SHOULD have been called...maybe even "Superheroes") was a ballyhooed Chinese blockbuster that followed in the golden footsteps of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Both are beautiful, lyrical and impressive technically, but Yimou Zhang's cool-as-a-spinning-swordsman opus tops Ang Lee's remarkable accomplishment...from an aesthetic standpoint anyway. We just wished Zhang's story had stuck to our ribs the way Lee's did. Hero is indeed one of the prettiest pictures ever made though. Jet Li and his co-stars are right on point. The non-stop action is great and the flashback structure allows Zhang to feature a tremendous colour palette. So use your billowing sleeves to deflect a flurry of arrows as the 446th Ellises' Analysis chats about Nameless and the namesake of China and their noble co-stars. Oh, you should know that our brief gab would feel better in your ears if you had coffee in your mouth. Sparkplug Coffee offers a 20% discount if you use our promo code ("top100project"). Also, shoot us a tweet (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) before heading over to "Scoring At The Movies" to hear Ryan talk about sports flicks.
64 minutes | Jun 6, 2022
Good Will Hunting
The one that made movie stars out of Damon & Affleck has been discussed by nearly everybody for the past 25 years, but we managed to find several new wrinkles in this well-written dramedy about friendship, love, grief and advanced math. Matt & Ben won Oscars for their quotable script and so did Robin Williams for his heartfelt performance as Damon's therapist. Williams is at his best in Good Will Hunting and now we can see how his character has even more depth than we thought at the time. Gus Van Sant got marvelous work out of those 3 stars, not to mention Stellan Skarsgard and Minnie Driver. It's an atypical film for an arthouse director like Van Sant, but he wrings all the emotion and comedy out of apples, caramels and Bah-ston coffee. So let the quirky, cool and sexy lady win you over with a kiss as the 445th Ellises' Analysis psychoanalyzes Good Will Hunting. But, hey, don't sit around eating caramels when you can get a 20% discount off Sparkplug Coffee. Use our promo code ("top100project") to save some money, but also tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and why not seek out Ryan's sports movie podcast (Scoring At The Movies).
46 minutes | May 30, 2022
Aguirre: The Wrath Of God
Invite all your monkey friends out for a day of river rafting as the 444th Ellises' Analysis dives into the goings on in "Apocalypse Before". Werner Herzog was still fairly new to making movies that are filled with verisimilitude when he made this incredibly authentic cult favourite deep in the Peruvian wilderness with his "best fiend" Klaus Kinski. The two of them had famous battles during this and other projects, but this first collaboration just might be their finest. Despite all of Kinski's dangerous unpredictability, he was a powerful and committed actor who deserved to be more of a movie star than he was. As for Aguirre's story, Herzog's Spanish Conquistadors (and *cough cough* all their slaves) float down a raging river to find the fabled city of gold in El Dorado, but that's a fools' journey that results in many deaths. Yeah, this is a bleak flick, but that doesn't stop it from being a great one. So don't let yourself be stalked by savages. Be a savage yourself as you seek out our thoughts about Aguirre: The Wrath Of God. Oh, and an insane trip like that would be helped by bringing along lots of Sparkplug Coffee. A 20% discount is golden and you'll get that by applying our "top100project" promo code. You can Twitter at us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and you can also follow Ryan's sports movie podcast in all the downloadable places ("Scoring At The Movies").
44 minutes | May 23, 2022
The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man is not the greatest collaboration between the Johns (Ford & Wayne, natch), but it IS probably their most light-hearted. It's also a film jammed with Irish stereotypes. Of course, the director himself was Irish, so some slack should be cut. Other aspects of the story and the performances that don't age very well, however, are more of a problem. At least Maureen O'Hara is no shrinking violet, even if her character is unreasonably upset about her bullying brother withholding her dowry. As for Duke Wayne, he gets to play a former boxer with a serious case of PTSD...and he's pretty likable doing it. So travel to Innisfree with the 443rd Ellises' Analysis filling your ears, which might drown out all those annoying neighbours who won't stay out of your business. To counteract all the beer you'll drink watching this suds-soaked movie, buy yourself a lot of Sparkplug Coffee and use our promo code ("top100project") to get 20% off. You can also tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and you can discover Ryan's sports-movie podcast by going to "Scoring At The Movies".
49 minutes | May 16, 2022
Growing a conscience when you're an alcoholic, ambulance chaser is a longtime movie trope (right?), but very few of those guys have been played by Paul Newman. Unfortunately, not even one of the world's greatest actors could overcome some problems with David Mamet's script, namely that Newman's motivations for taking a "let's just settle" civil case to trial are selfish and wrongheaded. Taking on the Catholic Church seems like an honourable move in 2022, sure, but that wasn't so obvious 40 years ago. Did even THE CHURCH deserve what happens in this movie? And is the ending in Sidney Lumet's Oscar-nominee actually a happy one? Was justice done? It's a complicated film. So don't be a double agent working for a talented-but-unscrupulous attorney. Just gather in what the 442nd Ellises' Analysis has to say about The Verdict. Oh, and you might want to be like Newman in the last scene and guzzle a bunch of coffee. We have a java sponsor! They are Sparkplug Coffee. Get a 20% discount when you use our promo code ("top100project"). Also, tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and also download Ryan's podcast, which is about sports movies (Scoring At The Movies).
51 minutes | May 9, 2022
The Magnificent Ambersons
Orson Welles followed up his monumental Citizen Kane with this similarly-themed film about money, privilege, self-destruction and---say it with us---comeuppance. One of the most-influential directors of all time didn't even get to finish The Magnificent Ambersons though because the studio took it away from him in post-production. We can't have a talented-but-iconoclastic kid go and make 2 masterpieces in a row, right?! As good as this truncated version is, you have to wonder what might have been if they let Welles finish it his way. Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt and the rest of the actors are pretty solid, but the direction, the camerawork and the overall filmmaking are the strongest part of this family-focused classic. So put the car before the horse as our 441st Ellises' Analysis hashes out the magnificence of the Ambersons. And to make your listening experience that much tastier, get a whack of Sparkplug Coffee and use our promo code ("top100project") to get a 20% discount. Also, tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and check out Ryan's podcast about sports movies ("Scoring At The Movies").
51 minutes | May 2, 2022
The Player turns 30 later this week and this satire hasn't lost very much of its punch. Hollywood is the land of phony (now more than ever!) and that atmosphere can be poison to artistic integrity, sure, but most other films of this type don't feature a guy getting away with literal murder. Yup, we wondered if Robert Altman's comeback film is even cleverer than it first appears. Could most of or even the entire film just be a sly suggestion that Tim Robbins & his co-stars are not in a real story? Is this movie actually...about them? Maybe Altman and writer Michael Tolkin were being even more meta than it appears. Of course, the tracking shot at the beginning and the dozens of cameos by A-list movie stars are what The Player is most famous for, but the character actors headlining the cast have fun playing the comedy straight. So give us your pitch while we constantly worry about losing our jobs as we hash out The Player in our 440th Ellises' Analysis. And, hey, what will be perfect at that pitch meeting at 9 am? Sparkplug Coffee, of course, and you can get a 20% discount if you write "top100project" into the promo code section. We're also tweetable (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and you can hear more of Ryan talking on his sports-movie podcast "Scoring At The Movies".
50 minutes | Apr 25, 2022
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead wasn't peered at by very many eyeballs 15 years ago, but Sidney Lumet's final film deserved to be seen by many and deserved to be a hit. Kelly Masterson's subtle script is award-worthy and the late & very great Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent as the lead of this tremendous cast. He shares the screen with pros like Hawke, Tomei, Finney and Shannon. The talent just keeps on comin'. This dark movie is about jewels, money, drugs, debt, family strife, killers and crooks. Nobody is happy, things go off the rails and the Hanson family falls apart. Fun, right?! Okay, it isn't, but their bloody journey is fascinating to watch. So rope your loser brother into helping you commit a few heinous crimes, but also stuff our 439th Ellises' Analysis into your car's CD player (okay, that's not possible) to hear our gab. Meanwhile, Sparkplug Coffee helps us with payin' the bills and they will give you a 20% discount if you use our promo code ("top100project"). You can tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) and you should also check out Ryan's sports-movie podcast "Scoring At The Movies".
48 minutes | Apr 18, 2022
Belle De Jour
Luis Bunuel was a master director who was often ahead of his time. This isn't the only surreal movie he made, although it isn't always easy to figure out what's real and what's fantasy in this case. In fact, Belle De Jour had us questioning if ANY of this often-masochistic story is real. It's a difficult one to unravel because there's the forward-thinking focus on Catherine Deneuve's sexual empowerment, but the movie also feels like a relic of the old days when men did what they wanted to do to women. Either way, Belle De Jour is an undisputedly creative French flick that somehow found a way to feature plenty of sex without actually showing any. So let your freak flag fly at full mast as we talk about forbidden desires, daytime brothels, cuckolding and so much more in the 438th Ellises' Analysis. Oh, and don't you dare forget to indulge your coffee-tooth by buying a load of Sparkplug Coffee (a 20% discount is yours by typing in "top100project") and also tweet us (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis), plus you have even more podcast options where Ryan talks about sports films on "Scoring At The Movies".
49 minutes | Apr 11, 2022
The Bad And The Beautiful
We cover a lot of movies about movies on this channel. For the 437th Ellises' Analysis, we're digging into what Lana Turner, Kirk Douglas and friends are up to in The Bad And The Beautiful. The story paints Douglas' studio boss as a charismatic devil, but Ryan has sympathy for said devil (yet again) because the bad man is just not bad enough. Perhaps Vincente Minnelli or his actors or even MGM pulled their punches so they wouldn't alienate powerful people in Hollywood. Still, the workaholic David Selznick stand-in who steps on plenty of people never goes into full-on prick mode. And what do we owe people who helped get us where we are, especially after they've betrayed us? We discuss. So fire up the lights and roll the camera as we hash out this hugely entertaining '50s classic. Meantime, get a 20% discount when you buy stuff at Sparkplug Coffee (promo code: "top100project"), chat us up on Twitter (@moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis) or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and check out Ryan's other podcast (Scoring At The Movies).
51 minutes | Apr 4, 2022
Pete Docter has directed four of Pixar's very-best films, including Up and Inside Out. Soul makes him 4 for 4, even though it's just a step or two behind those other 2 masterpieces. It's hard to dispute that Docter & Kemp Powers helmed the best animation and design in Pixar's recent history, although we wondered if kids liked Soul as much as adults probably did when it came out. Were they interested in seeing a grumpy jazz teacher going through a bizarre, near-death day, even though there are some goofy pratfalls and body-switching? They probably DID enjoy all the "jazzing" and the sequence that leaves Jamie Foxx's Joe Gardner "mostly dead". Plus, you'd have to be a hideous, purple beast not to enjoy movie-stealer Tina Fey just killing it as 22. So keep your hat and glasses on your head no matter what tragedies befall you as we discuss the movie about keys (piano, maple) in our 436th Ellises' Analysis. Oh, and buy piles of Sparkplug Coffee (get a 20% discount by using our promo code of "top100project"), also tweet us (@moviefiend51 & @bevellisellis) AND check out Ryan's podcast about sports films known as "Scoring At The Movies".
33 minutes | Mar 29, 2022
Oscars Post-View 2022
Bonus episode! So what happened at the Oscars? Did people win awards for these mediocre movies while the Twitter-verse crapped all over everything and then the movie stars just happily & quietly went home? Well, of course not. Will Smith assaulted Chris Rock because of a joke and that cast a pall over the rest of what was otherwise an inclusive and fairly-funny show. We kicked this episode off by doing the obvious thing and breaking down the Smith/Rock brouhaha, but we also discussed pretty much everything else about the lonnnnnng broadcast too. Tweet us your own thoughts about these zany Academy Awards. We're @moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis.
43 minutes | Mar 28, 2022
The Lost Weekend
Fittingly, the day after a passably uplifting film wins Best Picture of 2021, we post a chat about The Lost Weekend. Billy Wilder was a genius at tragi-comedy, so he isn't at his best directing something like this. Still, his Oscars-sweeper remains an effective effort. Most of Wilder's legendary films were ahead in the '50s, but his Oscar-festooned 1945 "drinking'll wreck ya" drama is a vivid forerunner of desperate alcoholism. Yes, Leaving Las Vegas, Young Adult and others did it better, but this was revolutionary for its time. Ray Milland took home a trophy for Best Actor (despite the thick-laying he's doing) and Jane Wyman is underused, but the cast is still pretty authentic. So pour 1 (or 100) out to the demons and also to the saints as the 435th Ellises' Analysis concludes Oscar Month with a chat about Wilder's Weekend. Well, Actually: Alcoholics Anonymous got its start 10 years earlier in 1935. Also, I.A.L. Diamond became Wilder's writing partner in 1957 when they co-wrote Love In The Afternoon. Also also, we've reviewed 18 movies for which Edith Head designed the costumes. Also also also, after we talk about Soul next week, we will have covered at least one movie from every year from 2021 all the way back to 1929. It may not be true that strong java will sober you up fast, but whether you need to get over a hangover or not, buy Sparkplug Coffee. They offer a one-time 20% discount to those who would be so steady as to put our "top100project" promo code into the appropriate box. We spend a bit of time on Twitter: @moviefiend51 and @bevellisellis Ryan also yaps about films that do the athletic thing (Scoring At The Movies)
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