Monday, March 31, 2014

The Honor Roll: Best Comedies (April Fool's Day Edition) Part One

The Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team.  This month Jim and Chris make their top picks for the best comedies of all time in observance of April Fool's Day!  Here is part one featuring Jim's picks.  Chris' will follow tomorrow evening.

Some Like It Hot
"The movie too hot for words!"

My vote for the best comedy of the Golden Age---Jack Lemmon at his hilariously neurotic best, Tony Curtis in top form doing his Cary Grant impression and Marilyn Monroe at her peak. The best of many great Billy Wilder movies, too---many quotable lines.  This was one of the first classic comedies that I ever saw. It’s never lost it’s appeal to me.
Chris' Comment:   "I want a cup of coffee!"  I can't help but notice how much the great Ray Liotta must have modeled his acting demeanor after the awesome Jack Lemmon!  Bravo.  A fine pick to start off the list, and a movie had not had the pleasure to see until Jim put it on this list.  Thank you sir.

"Desperate, he took a female role and became a star.  If only he could tell the woman he loves!"

A dream cast in something that doesn’t happen very often---an extremely well-written comedy. A boatload of writers worked on it, but you’d swear that it was written by one great comedy writer. Dustin Hoffman at his best (he didn’t do enough comedies), a luminous Jessica Lange, a very appealing Charles Durning (watch the scene at the bar where he slowly realizes that he’s sitting next to Dorothy---his face is priceless) and Bill Murray at his funniest (it’s been said that he ad-libbed most of his lines). Also with George Gaynes, a young Geena Davis and the late director Sydney Pollack---all wonderful. They don’t make them like this often enough.
Chris' Comment:   I am very worried about my friend Jim.  His first two picks are about cross-dressing dudes.  Does this speak to the inner psyche or some kind of....oh never mind.  I don't want to really know, and I am here to give my comments on the film.  Agreed that it is a great cast with some good moments, but not nearly one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.  Worth a look?  Sure.  Dustin Hoffman is a great actor and Charles Durning always a treat to see on screen.  Have a look but don't expect this one to make you click those high heels you may or may not be wearing right now.  ;)

The 40 Year Old Virgin
"Better late than never!"

Oh, yeah. I don't know how many times I 've seen this in the past 9 years, but it never gets old. Judd Apatow at the top of his game. A great cast of now-familiar comedians  who now undoubtedly command a lot more for salaries than they must have received here. It's a toss-up as to who's the funniest, but I'd pick Paul Rudd. His Ya Mo Burn this Place to the Ground scene gets me every time.  
Chris' Comment:  This one appears on my list as well.  I guess Jim does have a keen ear for funny.  Two of three ain't half bad amigo!

Airplane/The Naked Gun (tie)
"Thank God  it's only a motion picture"-Airplane
"You've read the ad.  Now see the movie."-The Naked Gun

(Airplane)-Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker make their mark in this spoof of airline disaster movies, a cornucopia of classic lines and gags. "Don't call me Shirley." "Win just one for the Zipper." "Do movies about gladiators?" The drinking problem. Parodies of zillions of movies, from From Here to Eternity to Saturday Night Fever. A new career in comedy for both Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen. This also marks the one and only time that I have ever enjoyed Ethel Merman.
Chris' Comment:   Another one from my list...comments tomorrow. :)
(The Naked Gun)-The two sequels were funny, but the first one is the one to see. Non-stop gags will keep you in stitches.  A great villain in Ricardo Montalban.  A pre-murder trial OJ Simpson. And a career highlight for Leslie Nielsen---it wouldn’t have worked without him.
Chris' Comment:   A worthy entry into any top comedy list.  Of course, I think Airplane is the pinnacle of this brand of slapstick, which prevents me from putting this one in my own list.  Leslie Nielsen truly re-invented himself with this brand of theatrics.  I can't help but be left with a bad taste in my mouth seeing OJ Simpson in his role.  But if you can keep such horrific things far from mind, there are great laughs to be had.

Young Frankenstein 
"The scariest comedy of all time!"

Mel Brooks' best movie and one of the most quotable movies of all time.  I miss the days when Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn were making movies.  There Wolf, there Castle!
Chris Comment:  For my money the best Mel Brooks film would either be Spaceballs or History of the World.  But I don't want to rain on the Jim parade this time.  Young Frankenstein is a fine comedic triumph, and Mel Brooks is responsible for more than a few laugh-induced broken ribs, so who is anyone to argue his genius?  Gene Wilder is one of the most unique comedic actors of his generation.

Back at you tomorrow with Chris' list!

The Great Stories Team


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tube Watch (Week of March 27th)

We are back with another round of Tube Watch.  So what were the Great Stories family and friends watching this week?  Let's see.....

Our friend Jim watched some classic pscho on a plane-type action with Turbulence, which he quite enjoyed.  Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly star in that one.  He also screened Unknown, starring Liam Neeson.  A truly awesome suspense flick!  And knowing how much Jim appreciates older films, you had to know that there was going to be something made before yours truly had a license to drive....The Purple Rose of Cairo with Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels (under the direction of that creepy Woody Allen).

Rob, on the other hand, did not spend so much time watching movies, but did take some time to catch up on The Walking Dead, as well as attending a Game of Thrones Season Four Episode One viewing party hosted by HBO in Boston.

Marcel took in a viewing of Catching Fire, the second Hunger Games movie, and claims that it is far and away a better movie than the first!

Chris risked life and limb by starting a new (to him) series from A&E called Bates Motel starring Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as the young version of the character made famous in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.  Only one episode in, but it has him hooked for more, much to Melissa's Chagrin.  He also watched a very dull 1996 frontier adventure movie called The North Star, starring Christopher Lambert, James Caan, and Catherine McCormack, about a Native American who attempts to lay claim to a goldmine owned by an immoral land baron in Nome, Alaska in the gold rush of the 1800's.

Melissa and Chris both took a 2012 movie called Lawless (starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Guy Pearce), about backwoods moonshine runners and dirty cops during prohibition.  Not a bad flick.  She also caught up on more Lost Season Three episodes....who doesn't love that show, right?

What are you watching this week?

We'll check in again next week, but would love to hear some recommendations from you!

-The Great Stories Team

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Comic Picks of the Week (March 26, 2014)

Wondering what books are hitting the comic shelves tomorrow?  Well, as always, there are quite a few, but which will prove to be a worthy read?  I'm going with four titles this week!

Blackout #1, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #3, Origin II #4, and The Superior Spider-Man #30.

First introduced in 2013's Dark Horse Presents #24, Blackout is the story of Scott Travers.  He has discovered a suit that lets him move through the world both unseen and untouchable within a shadow dimension.  But at what price and where did this mysterious suit come from?  Seems like a tale worthy of a read.

My second selection needs little explanation.  If you haven't watched Firefly or Serenity, then you should start there.  Although admittedly, it boggles the mind that such could be the case.  Once you've done that, grab the prior two issues of this series as well.  Serenity: Leaves on the Wind continues the story of the best crew in the 'verse about nine months after the events of the feature film.  There are also two one-shot stories out there by Dark Horse that you can hunt down.  "You can't take the sky from me."

Next up is Origin II.  First of all, the issue is packed with Adam Kubert artwork; which, in and of itself, is worth the price of admission.  Second of all, you've got more of Wolverine's backstory penned beautifully by Kieron Gillen.  Still not sold?  How about I mention Sabretooth and Sinister are involved as well.  Give it a shot.  You won't be disappointed.

Last, but by no means least is The Superior Spider-Man #30.  This is part four of the Goblin Nation Arc and everything has certainly come to a head.  Marvel is teasing the issue saying "Once this happens, it CANNOT be undone!"  Once What Happens?!?!  Guess there's only one way to find out...

Great Stories are everywhere!