So here goes the last 5 of my Top Ten List. Remember that this is a completely subjective list of films that I LOVE. These are MY desert island picks. These are the movies that if God said, “My son, I’m going to strand you on a desert island. You can only take ten disaster movies. You will have a fully functioning Blu-ray player with a fully functioning 72 inch Samsung TV with plenty of electricity. Which ten Blu-rays are you taking?” Of course, (this is such a totally random set of circumstances, maybe even ridiculous, but go with it) I’d be asking for more movies and other genres. Oh wait. Heck with that, I’d say “Lord how about beautiful girls in bikinis?” God’s response might be, “Do you want the movies or not?” I can only hope that God would chuckle, before giving me my ten movies.
At the beginning of Disastuary, I talked about how much I loved this movie. In particular, I thought the personal tragedies of the characters resonated emotionally in a profound way, despite my dislike for Jenny Lerner, the intrepid reporter that stumbles onto “the greatest story in history.” Don’t get me wrong Tea Leoni is a gorgeous woman and I totally dig her as Madam Secretary. In this movie she is just such a cut-throat journalist that she is unsympathetic. The end of her story arc though is heart-wrenching. More compelling is the Leo Biederman character as played by Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski as Sarah Hotchner in there “Marry me if you want to live.” storyline.
Also, the heroic astronauts who act in the most selfless of ways. The great Robert Duvall as Capt. Spurgeon Tanner drinking beers with his two sons; Ron Eldard as Commander Oren Monash “seeing” his son for the very first time, Jon Favreau as Gus Partenza is memorialized first, Mary McCormack as Andy Baker saying goodbye to her husband, Blair Underwood as Mark Simon telling his wife to keep doing her church thing: these are the most emotional beats of the movie with a tremendous payoff.
I remember this movie fondly. As part of its ensemble cast it has 5 Oscar winners: Gene Hackman (one of my favorite actors), Ernest Borgnine, Jack Albertson, Red Buttons, and Shelley Winters. I remember that Shelley Winters was once on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. My brother Marc and I were watching. We knew that Shelley Winters was going to be on and we were avidly watching her talk about her history in movies. Marc and I loved her in this movie, so we were hanging on every word.
She said that she was a little annoyed that she had been asked to audition for The Poseidon Adventure, so when it came time for her audition, she came in to the office where she was supposed to read for the part. She pulled out her two Academy Awards from her bag, then asked the director, Ronald Neame, if he still required her to read for the part. His response was, “No, Ma’am! You have the part.” She was asked to gain weight to play the part of Belle Rosen, which she did and received another Oscar nomination, which she didn’t win, but in my humble opinion, she should have. There’s a lot to love about this movie, but the practical effects are probably the most impressive aspect besides the cast. The last sentence on this movie is the last I will say. The ship is upside-down!
I’m not going to spend much time arguing the point. I consider The Birds a great disaster movie. Case in point, look at the chaos going on in this picture. Bodega Bay is under siege as a consequence of unexplained bird attacks. The Beard and I did an Autopsy Video where we talked this movie up. I continue to do so. The movie is one of Hitchcock’s best. It is extremely suspenseful. It has an every-man kind of guy behaving heroically. Tippy Hedren has a stand-out performance despite being her first onscreen, and when one hears all the crappy things Hitchcock subjected her to, I wonder why it took her so long to quit the industry. She’s lovely and gracious, embodying the professionalism of a truly great actress.
I first read about this movie on my oldest son’s website http://www.evilgeekcult.com. The site is no longer active, but it still warehouses some really cool content. (Not the least of which is some articles written by yours truly. I’m Papa Smerph on that site.) Anyway, my sons are huge cinephiles. They are not bigoted against eastern cinematic offerings the way most of us westerners are, so when I read his review I watched Train to Busan. I LOVE this movie. It is filled with action. The first ten minutes has some exposition, but when the film gets going, Ohh-hoho!!!
The zombies are fast-moving. I usually prefer the classic Romero slow-shambling, but here they work so well. There’s a Dad who works hard and doesn’t have a lot of spare time. He apparently has custody of his daughter, because he is well off. Her birthday is on the day of the apocalypse and she has opted to spend the day with her Mom. She lives in Busan, a long train ride away, so he can’t let his ten year old daughter go by herself. He’s not happy about having to take a day off from work to go take his daughter, and then the apocalypse happens. The movie is subtitled, but that didn’t bother me. You get used to it. The set is claustrophobic, and the suspense is ratcheted up to 11 on a scale of ten. When the Beard challenged me to write my own list, I knew that this one would be high on my list. This is a MUST-WATCH if you are a zombie fan, or horror fan. I have watched this movie 5 times with different groups of people and I could watch it a dozen more times.
The Beard and I tend to agree on a lot of things. When we recently watched this movie together, we both exclaimed, “It still holds up!” We were surprised because it was a movie from the 1970’s, and we felt that the special effects, the cinematic background and context, the mise en scene, the clothing would all appear so dated that it would pose a distraction to the viewer. This could not have been farther from the reality.
The movie brings you in quickly. There is very little in the way of exposition. The fire starts at the 10 minute mark and continues to the very end. We already did an Autopsy on this movie so I don’t want to be redundant here. However, just a few points here and then I will be done. The action is non-stop. The effects are practical. The acting is stellar. The stories within the story are really great. The tropes are used well. Jennifer Jones, in my opinion is a stand-out actress. The leads do their job in giving the viewer a believability to their characters. There is a lot to love here and I was impressed.
All right! I think we gave Disastuary a really good attempt, but I wish we really would not have had all of those interruptions in the month due to circumstances beyond our control. Puerto Rico continues to shake, but the Mustache and the Beard continue rolling with the punches. Stick with us, though. You ain’t seen nothing yet!