Thanks to the gang at SFSignal (SFSignal.com) for directing me to this (http://screenrant.com/tarantinos-top-20-movies-since-1992-reservoir-dogs-ross-21915/) video of Director Quentin Tarantino listing his Top 20 Movies of the Past 17 Years (1992 to the present). Interesting selections. Some, I agree with. Some, I disagree with. Others I haven’t seen so I’m in no position to judge.
The fact that Battle Royale is his #1 pick is both surprising yet – given it is Tarantino – not all that surprising. It would certainly be in my top 20, but I don’t know if it would occupy the number one position. The movie’s subject matter is sure to offend – which is why, despite suggestions to the contrary, no one will ever succeed in remaking a North American version. Still, the controversial premise didn’t stop the movie from doing BIG business in Japan. Other Asian films making Tarantino’s list are Memories of Murder (a disquieting little murder mystery that would definitely make my top 25), the brilliant JSA (Joint Security Area), the Korean monster movie The Host (that everyone seemed to enjoy a lot more than I did), Jackie Chan’s Police Story III: Supercop (which I enjoyed, but nowhere near enough to put it in my top 20), and Takeshi Miike’s Audition (an incredibly unnerving film that starts off quietly enough but ends with a scene so horrific that some of the people attending the movie’s New York premiere actually got up and walked out). If I was making up my own list, I would definitely include Audition and JSA. Memories of Murder is an almost pick. I’d drop Supercop and The Host but look to some other Asian movies, like my favorite Japanese film Fudoh: The New Generation (a film so over-the-top that after seeing it, then Visual Effects Supervisor James Tichenor vowed to never again attend one of my movie nights), the brilliant and surprising Oldboy (that I’m surprised didn’t make Tarantino’s list), and the movie that redefined the horror genre: Ringu (a.k.a. The Ring).
I haven’t seen six of Tarantino’s entries – Anything Else, The Blade, Boogie Nights, Dazed and Confused, Dogville, or Friday – so I’ll simply move onto the last eight:
As much as I loved Lost In Translation which perfectly captured the feeling of being a gaijin in Tokyo, I wouldn’t put it in my top 20. The Insider and Speed were also great movies but, again, wouldn’t make my top 20 list. It’s interesting to hear Tarantino’s view that The Matrix would have been a lock at the #2 position had they not made the sequels that ended up tainting his opinion of the first movie. While I loved the movie’s visual style, I felt the premise wasn’t anything new, so I give it full half marks. Two other entries, Fight Club and Team America, were movies I enjoyed but, like The Host, not to the extent many others did. Shaun of the Dead made Tarantino’s list, another movie I liked although my overall enjoyment was greatly muted by the incongruous sequence in which our hero must come to terms with the loss of his mother. Finally, Tarantino rounds out his list with M. Night Shyamalan’s (or, as Quentin refers to him – Shamalamadingdong) Unbreakable. Hmmm. Don’t know about this one. I remember seeing this movie with Peter DeLuise. As the credits started to roll, I threw him a look. He was sitting there, mouth agape, outraged beyond comprehension. As my writing partner pointed out – in filmic terms, it’s a movie with only one act. More surprising than the fact that Unbreakable made the list is that The Sixth Sense didn’t. It would certainly make mine, as would two of Tarantino’s films: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.
So, if someone asked me to name my Top 20 Movies of the Past 17 Years, my list of personal favorites would look something like this. In alphabetical order:
Audition: This one lulls you into a sense of false, comfy security, and then pulls the rug out from underneath you in thoroughly harrowing fashion, culminating in a horrifically squirm-worthy final sequence..
Bad Santa: I like my comedies dark, and it don’t get much darker than this one. Billy Bob Thorton is the worst department store Santa of all time.
Battle Royale: It’s the not too distant future. Every year, a high school class is chosen at random. The students are dropped off on a secluded island, armed with everything from darts to machineguns, then set against each other in a violent fight for survival and, of course, the coveted title of champion of the Battle Royale.
Donnie Darko: Troubled teen Donnie Darko dreams of the end of the world. Well, more specifically, he dreams of a creepy-looking guy in a bunny outfit who informs him that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Has Donnie glimpsed the future? Or has the recent decision to stop taking medication to treat his paranoid schizophrenia somehow contributed to the vision? A clever riff on the predestination paradox.
Fresh: A twelve year old chess prodigy, trapped in a world of drugs and violence, takes his game to the next level, applying smarts and strategy to manipulate and conquer those who threaten him. Brilliant.
Fudoh: The New Generation: Follows your typical Yakuza kingpin and his underlings as he attends high school, knocks off rivals, and orchestrates revenge for the death of his brother.
Hard Candy: Although most recognize her for her work in Juno, I’ll forever know her as the flirtatious young teen who meets a 30-something man in a coffee shop after an online chat, agrees to follow him back to his place – and then turns the tables on him in shocking fashion.
JSA: The DMZ (demilitarized zone) separating North and South Korea is the scene of an investigation after two North Korean soldiers are killed, setting both countries on edge. A South Korean soldier has admitted to the shootings but, it turns out he’s not being completely forthcoming, leading investigators to realize there is more to this case than meets the eye…
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: The movie that made Guy Ritchie, Jason Statham, and Vinnie Jones is masterpiece of complexity. Individual storylines loop, cross, and criss-crossing in this clever British heist flick.
Maria Full of Grace: A 17 year old girl working in a sweat shop in Colombia is offered the opportunity to make some quick easy cash as a drug mule. Unfortunately for her, the experience proves neither quick nor easy. Swallowing 62 cocaine-filled pellets, she makes her way to New York – with disastrous results.
Oldboy: What lengths some will go to for revenge! Our protagonist is whisked off the streets of South Korea while in a drunken stupor and deposited in a tiny hotel room where he spends the next fifteen years of his life. Then, one day, he is mysteriously released. Who kidnapped? And, more importantly, why? Whatta surprise!
Pulp Fiction: Tarantino is at the top of his game in this stylized, darkly comic, brutally violent, thoroughly unconventional crime film.
Reservoir Dogs: A heist gone horribly wrong lands a handful of crooks in an abandoned warehouse where they must hide out from the law and try to piece together exactly what went wrong and, ultimately, who among them sold them out. Slick and smart.
Ringu: The Japanese movie that redefined the horror genre. Surprisingly, the North American remake was pretty good as well. Still, there’s nothing like the original.
Run Lola Run: An AU story with no sci fi elements. Just a breakneck pace, pounding soundtrack, and the story of a woman, Lola, racing to save her boyfriend from not-altogether-certain death. Great fun!
Scream: The North American horror film had become rather plodding and predictable until this wildly self-referential movie came along to totally revitalize the genre. At it’s most basic, it’s an intelligent and witty movie, but it also operates at a whole other level for those horror aficionados among out there.
Shaolin Soccer: Seriously, what goes better than soccer and kung fu? Hong Kong star Steven Chow is at his hilarious best in the story of a down-on-his-luck kung fu master who must teach a bunch of misfits the finer points of shaolin soccer. The team meets with some initial success, but their road to the championship is blocked by the corporate-backed Team Evil. Yep, that’s what they’re called. A great comedy.
There’s Something About Mary: Hey, speaking of great comedies, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this Farrelly Brothers laugher concerning a lovable loser obsessed with a high school sweetheart – thirteen years after graduation. Lunacy abounds!
Tombstone: Yes, my favorite western of all time sees Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer (giving a career performance) as Doc Holiday taking on a bunch of ruthless outlaws in this altogether and utterly cool retelling of The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Yeah, I know. That’s only 19. What am I missing? You tell me.
JYS: “I’m staging at Fuel again. I snapped this while I was there on Friday…”
Answer: Fantastic pic. Just ate lunch and I’m hungry all over again.
Luis writes: “Joe How is the Comic book series that you and paul are working on comming along?”
Answer: We haven’t actually started writing it yet. Timing may be an issue.
Tawny writes: “Do any of the stargates that have been seeded on worlds have DHDs?”
Answer: Nope, no DHD’s on the planets.
Otros Ojos writes: “If you have the time and interest, and can squeeze this in among all the sci-fi and related commentary, I’d love to read a few of your thoughts on Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, which is high on my to-read list.”
Answer: Ivon Bartok recommended the book to me. I’m only about 120 pages in but, so far so great.
Cyn writes: “Deny it all you want, but when a woman’s body is used for intercourse without her consent it is rape. There is no ambiguity.”
Answer: Given that you are posting your opinions on my site, I’d appreciate it if you’d do me the courtesy of at least reading what I’ve had to say on the subject before putting words in my mouth or making assumptions about my attitude. I’ve already addressed this scenario and my opinion is, in fact, the opposite of the one you’ve bestowed upon me.
Cyn also writes: “You can defend all of this to your heart’s content. You can laugh it off and say I’m being overdramatic…”
Answer: I have neither laughed off the criticism nor have I derided the critics. I have no idea who you’re responding to here but it’s certainly not me.
AnneTeldy writes: “Have I missed something? Where in the sides, the apology, or Mr. M’s blog entry/comments does it say Rush actually has sex with Perry/Camile? Everyone seems to be assuming he will.”
Yumenoko writes: “I’ve been curious to know, though: Do you always look for restaurants with eclectic or non traditional offerings, or do you also enjoy the best of everyday dishes?”
Answer: I enjoy a wide range of foods, from the high end to the very simple. I also have some ramen stops and tonkatsu restaurants on my Tokyo restaurant list.
Pol writes: “I’m very familiar with how the sides don’t often come close to the final script, but as a woman writer (and a lesbian at that) I can see how the tone of those sides can look to the rest of the world – and how they – at first blush – didn’t even raise an eyebrow with your mostly all-male team when they were released.”
Answer: We were on hiatus for almost the entire month of July. Many of us didn’t read Sabotage or provide notes until the beginning of last week. I can assure you, there was some very spirited debate about this script and the issues raised.
Dovil writes: “If you look at the forums on Gateworld, your viewers, you’ll see that attitude alive and well. But it has been very enlightening having a group of mainly men telling a group of mainly women the definition of what rape is and isn’t, how there are shades of rape (tell that to the victim), how we’re over-reacting, and that rape should legitmately be served up as entertainment for a show that aims itself at a male audience.”
Answer: Actually, we have viewers on both sides of the issue. As for the group of mainly men telling the group of mainly women – who exactly are you referring to? Because, again, I can assure you that there are men on both sides of this issue.
Dovil also writes: “And as a sidenote: the black guy is nicknamed PSYCHO?! Jesus, because making every main black male character on stargate be the tv trope Angry Black Man wasn’t subtle enough, so it had to be spelt out? Quick, get him hooked on crack and get him to hijack the Destiny so he can roll over a convenience store for money for hos.”
Answer: The character was obviously created before the role was cast and, originally, his name was Ron “Psycho” Stasiak – not exactly a typical name for a person of color. We auditioned many actors for the role by the way, and Jamil was ultimately cast because he was terrific. FYI – our second choice happened to be Caucasian. Similar story for the Lieutenant Scott character. We cast a wide net for the auditions. Like every other role, we weren’t trying to find a type. We were, first and foremost, trying to cast the best actor for the role. And we did. Had we, however, cast a person of color in the role of Scott (which would have been the case had we gone with our second choice), some would no doubt be complaining that it reinforced another stereotype because the character was initially envisioned as a bit of a player and a lady’s man.
Nieuksaouibyi writes: “The Destiny seems like a large ship. But I’ve seen blueprints for rooms in it and pictures of the rooms. It seems like these rooms feel small for a ship of its size. For instance, the infirmary looked so small for a ship that big. Is there an explanation for this?”
Answer: Our crew only occupies an isolated section of the ship. There is much, MUCH more to be discovered over the course of the series.