Nothing says more about you — not your religious affiliation, your childrearing sensibilities, your dental hygiene — than your personalized list of favorite movies. Your cinematic preferences brand you permanently in the eyes of whomever is lucky (or cagey) enough to hear them, leading many of us to opt for our highbrow choices — our Vertigos, our Citizen Kanes, our Bicycle Theives...es.
But behind these vainglorious boasts will inevitably lurk a dark, probing secret: our real favorite movies. Our Black Sheeps and Better Off Deads and Weekend at Bernies 2s. Even if you do harbor a regrettable passenger like these, you shouldn't feel ashamed. You're in good company: Stanley Kubrick loved White Men Can't Jump.
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From a series of interviews conducted with the late genius, The Criterion Collection has released a list of titles that have been deemed some Kubrick's favorite pieces of film. Along with Citizen Kane, The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and a string of other unsurprises, the article attributes White Men Can't Jump — the 1992 comedy about a pair of rival streeball hustlers (Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes) forming an unlikely friendship — to the legend's trove of top picks.
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And the mastermind who brought us triumphs like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove is not alone in fessing up to his so-called guilty pleasure. Here are a handful of other auteurs who rank some unexpected flicks among their video collections:
There Will Be Blood and The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson: Heavyweights, as the fat camp comedy's director Judd Apatow told Hollywood.com.
The Tree of Life and The Thin Red Line director Terrence Malick: Zoolander, as Seth Rogen revealed to the The Guardian.
Chinatown and The Pianist director Roman Polanski: Rush Hour as the crime comedy's director Brett Ratner told The Guardian.
And from the archives of BFI's Sight & Sound...
Heat and The Last of the Mohicans director Michael Mann: Avatar
Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford: Black Hawk Down
The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell: Young Frankenstein
Documentarian Nick Broomfield: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
1930s cinematographer Robert Neame: E.T.
Inglorious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino: The Bad News Bears
Whistle Down the Wind director Bryan Forbes: Whistle Down the Wind
What's your guilty pleasure?
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[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Set in 1984 Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) returns to her ice-cold hometown in Northern Minnesota after fleeing from an abusive husband. In order to care for her two young kids she needs a job--and for most of the townsfolk including her distant dad (Richard Jenkins) that means working in the local iron mines. Problem is not too many women work there and those who do are subjected to continual harassment by their male coworkers. Josey lands a job anyway and starts to get her fair share of sexual innuendos. One day her former high-school sweetheart also a mine employee takes it way too far with her. Although met with strong resistance of course a lawsuit ensues that results in a groundbreaking decision for women’s rights in the workplace. Ah what an Oscar can do for a career. It wasn't that long ago Theron wouldn’t even have been considered for such a dramatic role. But with deserved recognition she gets to strut her stuff in North Country. She's no Monster but she's no supermodel either--and while it's impossible to erase her beauty its glare has been reduced. A second-consecutive Oscar win? Maybe not but a nomination wouldn't be out of the place. Co-star Frances McDormand might also be in line for a nod of her own. She plays Glory a woman who gets Josey the job and encourages her to fight the good fight something that seems visceral for McDormand. Woody Harrelson is also solid as Josey's attorney though his Midwest-stoner drawl gets in the way of the northern accent he's supposed to be selling. New Zealand director Niki Caro mightily impressed us with Whale Rider a poignant mixture of grief and vigor and with North Country she continues to impress. As more an observer than anything else Caro lets the true story tell itself--of what happened in this small town with its frigid denizens and sexist behavior. And the film is definitely a period piece á la Norma Rae in that it's from a specific period albeit a recent one and pertains to a specific region. But it's kind of slow going. There’s a lot of weeping and dramatic speeches. Still Caro makes up for it by including several Bob Dylan songs who rarely grants the use of his songs in films. Perhaps he felt a certain a kinship to this film since it takes place in the desolate cold Northern Minnesota where he comes from--and so resents.
After the Sunset is not despite all appearances the first studio movie to be pieced together entirely from clips of other movies. But it sure seems like it. It's that clichéd. Pierce Brosnan plays Max Burdett the world's foremost jewel thief who has pulled off one last heist and is trying to go straight. And if you think you've seen that one before just wait because Woody Harrelson plays his alter ego F.B.I. agent Stan Lloyd hot on his trail and dogged by his failure to catch him. So it's your standard good bad guy bad good guy bad bad guy (Don Cheadle) and girlfriend who wants him to quit (Salma Hayek) heist movie. Except that would be a disservice to so many heist movies that try to make the crime in question even remotely suspenseful or interesting and this one couldn't care less. Suffice it to say there is a very big diamond on a cruise ship and that diamond will be snatched effortlessly by someone in about 30 seconds of screen time. And the rest of the movie? Exactly like the friend's vacation photos: dancing eating drinking fishing diving lying around in hammocks and taking long naps. The filmmakers flirt with the notion of the criminal's paradise turning into a hellish prison of its own with nothing to do and no challenges is sight but I'll stop right there because I just explored it in more depth than the movie does.
The only way a movie this flimsy gets off the ground at all is with a charming likeable cast. This group certainly doesn't disappoint but it is odd to see all four principals playing the exact same roles they've done before in other movies. Brosnan plays the same suave master criminal he did in The Thomas Crown Affair. Harrelson is the rube of ambiguous morality he played in Palmetto. Cheadle plays the same literate but streetwise hood he did in Out of Sight. And Hayek plays the same part she has in projects like Maxim and FHM gorgeous scantily clothed and nearly silent. This fuels the feeling of déja vu and again plants the suspicion that the entire movie has been created digitally on someone's iMac. With Steve McQueen starring in Ford commercials John Wayne having appeared in Coors ads and Laurence Olivier recently reanimated for Sky Captain and
the World of Tomorrow it isn't really that big of a stretch to wonder if these actors have even met. Naomie Harris as the local cop is the only actor who makes an impression.
The puppetmaster of this pastiche is Brett Ratner who owes his prodigious clout with After the Sunset producers New Line Cinema to the inexplicable success of the Rush Hour franchise. If nothing else it's obvious that he's seen a lot of movies. And at least he's not entirely shameless; Ratner preemptively inserts a DVD copy of Hitchcock's To Catch
a Thief into a scene (Burdett has rented it) just to let us know (wink wink) that he knows that his underwater scene was inspired by the Master's ballroom dance scene. His pacing is brisk bordering on abrupt. His tone seems wildly divergent until you realize that every scene is potentially headed for Rush Hour territory. A slapstick comedy could break out at any moment and does. I keep waiting for better things from Ratner though--his Nicolas Cage vehicle The Family Man was about as good as a schmaltzy Christmas Scrooge remake could possibly get. Seriously. But he seems very content to direct two men rubbing suntan lotion onto each other's backs only to later be mistaken for gay lovers in a predictable but lighthearted mix-up. Anyone for Rush Hour 3?
Top Story: Shriver Leaves NBC to Support Hubby
Maria Shriver has opted to take a leave of absence from her NBC News post while her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, campaigns for governor of California through Oct. 7, Reuters reports. A network spokeswoman told Reuters Shriver requested the leave to avoid any potential appearances of conflict of interest between her job as a correspondent and contributing anchor to Dateline and her new role as the wife of an aspiring politician. The spokeswoman also said it was too soon to say what avenues Shriver will take if Schwarzenegger wins the recall election.
Jolie's Forest Project Approved
The Cambodian government approved a forest conservation project in two former Khmer Rouge areas that will be funded by actress Angelina Jolie, The Associated Press reports. The Tomb Raider star will donate up to $1.5 million over the next five years to help educate villagers about conservation awareness, draw demarcation lines to protect forest and wildlife sanctuaries, and train local rangers, said Mounh Sarath, executive director of Cambodian Vision in Development, to AP.
Lange Becomes Goodwill Ambassador
Jessica Lange, a newly appointed goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Children's Fund, traveled to Congo, Africa, earlier this week, touring refugee camps, AP reports. The refugees, mostly women and children, were forced to flee their homes as a byproduct of a bitter five-year civil war raging in the area. "The stories that these women tell are absolutely horrific, but the thing that moved me most was the extraordinary spirit of these people," the Oscar-winning actress told AP Thursday after hearing how rape is used as a weapon in the civil violence.
Omar Sharif Arrested for Head-Butting Cop
Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago, Funny Girl) was convicted of assaulting a police officer at a casino near Paris, AP reports. Le Parisien reported Sharif got into a scuffle with one of the casino's patrons and when an officer intervened, Sharif allegedly insulted and head-butted him. The 71-year-old Egyptian actor received a one-month suspended sentence and was fined $1,700, AP reports.
Gay Musicians Want to Break Into Country Music
Several musicians showed up in cowboy hats and jeans to audition in New York Thursday for a new reality show that will search for the first openly gay country music star, Reuters reports. The show, tentatively titled America Pride, hopes to break some of those barriers surrounding homosexuality in the country music arena. The producers have not found a network to run the show as yet, Reuters reports.
The Next Great Hip-Hopper
Attention: Calling all wanna-be hip-hop artists! Showtime and Interscope Records are developing a new reality show designed to look for the next hottest prospect in hip-hop, USA Today reports. The six-part series called Interscope Presents The Next, described as a cross between 8 Mile and American Idol, is expected to begin airing in October and will be part talent contest and part documentary, with each episode culminating in one-on-one rap battles.
Cache of Comic Hosts to Handle Emmys
Rather than just one host, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will have a bevy of comics to emcee this year's Emmys, Reuters reports. Comics who hosted the Emmy telecasts during the past three years, including Garry Shandling, Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O'Brien, will be among this year's hosts, along with Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett, Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond, Wanda Sykes of Fox's Wanda at Large, George Lopez, Martin Short and Jon Stewart. More stars are expected to be added in the coming weeks. "We've searched high and low to find the funniest people in California who are not running for governor," ATAS chairman Bryce Zabel quipped to Reuters. "It was a challenge, but this all-star comedy team promises to make America laugh without asking for a campaign contribution." The Emmys will air Sept. 21 on Fox.
Role Call: Ratner Rides Into Sunset
Director Brett Ratner (Red Dragon) has taken over the helm of New Line Cinema's After the Sunset after director John Stockwell bowed out in July over "creative differences." Variety reports the film--which stars Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson--follows a retired jewel thief (Brosnan) living on a Caribbean island with his gal pal (Hayek). Harrelson plays an FBI agent who tracks him down.