Friday, August 17, 2007

End-of-Summer Hurrah

As has become tradition, Tosy and Cosh are taking the rest of the summer off, to eat too much, get too much sun, and spend too much money. Have a great late-summer; we'll see you in September!

Until Whenever
Attend the Tale

Every image or scrap of news I hear or see about the Sweeney Todd movie just raises my expectations more. And our first look at Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett is no exception. I haven't been this jazzed for a film in a long while.

Until Whenever
Well, This is Just Too Much Fun To Pass Up

Thanks Tom! And, like Tom, I'll (mostly) try and avoid the albums I've already plugged in other posts.

Agnus Dei - Various Artists
A really lovely collection of choral pieces sung by boy choir.

Big Daddy - John Mellencamp
A nicely understated Mellencamp album, very underrated.

Crossroads - Tracy Chapman
Chapman's second album, as is the usual with artists whose first albums hit big, underwhelmed. And yet there's some really lovely stuff on this.

De Profundis - Arvo Part
Probably my favorite Part collection.

Elaine Stritch at Liberty - Elaine Stritch
Part one-woman show, part concert, and remarkably engrossing.

Freedom - Neil Young
One his most solid albums, with the soft/hard bookends of "Rockin' in the Free

Graceland - Paul Simon
A landmark album.

Hold Me to This - Christopher O'Riley
Classical piano versions of Radiohead songs.

Il Sogno - Elvis Costello
Elvis' ballet score, the rare example of a pop artist writing "classical" music and doing it well.

John Wesley Harding - Bob Dylan
Lesser Dylan is still damn good.

Kid A - Radiohead
Artsy-fartsy, but not too.

The Last Five Years - Jason Robert Brown
A tight, ingeniously structured little two-character musical.

Munich - John Williams
Williams' best score since Schindler's List

Nixon in China - John Adams
A propulsive, mesmerizing opera.

On Every Street - Dire Straits
Dire Straits' last album, a fine farewell.

Porgy and Bess - Gershwin
Still the definitive American opera.

Queen II - Queen
Early Queen, before they got as poppy as they did.

Ragtime - Flaherty and Ahrens
One of the best old-school, heart-on-the-sleeve musical theater scores.

Sneakers - James Horner
A moody, sneaky little scofre.

Time's Up - Living Colour
Another underappreciated second album.

Unsung Sondheim - Sondheim
A great collection of lost Sondheim songs.

A View from the Bridge - William Bolcom
The right Arthur Miller play to turn into an opera, based as it is on Greek tragedy structure.

The Wild Party - Michael John La Chiusa
A wonderful pastiche of a score, with an angry, impassioned performabce by Mandy Patinkin at its core

XO - Elliot Smith
A lesson in songwriting craft.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - Wilco
Not as good as the hype, but a fine album

Zooropa - U2
The saving grace of finding a "z."

Until Whenever

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The T&C 100 - #s 30-39

39 - Citizen Kane (1941)
A movie that, when I finally watched i (not that long ago), pretty much lived up to the hype. I still think, though, that it gets too much credit for doing things first.
Favorite moment: Just because I love Hermann's opera pastiche so much, the aria.

38 - Traffic (2000)
I thought this film did a great job of balancing the many stories, without being either too episodic or too contrived. And I still wish that Harrison Ford had taken the Michael Douglas part, as he was originally going to.
Favorite moment: Benicio del Toro watching that baseball game.

37 - Say Anything (1989)
One of the most convincing and organic portrayals of falling in love ever put on film. Cusack and Skye are so natural together, and so damn good at portraying that awkward stage where you are devoted to this person you really don't know that well or are that comfortable with.
Favorite moment: John Mahoney showing the youngsters how this acting thing is done, with that perfect moment when he realized just what his corruption has done to his relationship with his daughter.

36. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
I must confess that it's the sheer genius and theatricality of what is Alan Menken's finest score that elevates this so in my esteem. I do wish Disney had dared to be a little darker with the film - that the statues were shown to be just in Quasimodo's mind, that Quasimodo display some sadness and anger at losing the girl - but they did allow the filmmakers to go to some pretty dark places nonetheless. The Judge's song, in which he decides that if he lusts after Esmeralda it must mean that Satan is working through her, is pretty dark.
Favorite moment: The wonderfully compact, and tuneful opening, which spews a lot of exposition in a very entertaining way. And my favorite moment within that moment is the unbelievable high D-flat that Paul Kandel, as the Jester, hits in the song's climax.

35. Casablanca (1942)
Like Kane, a film that lived up to the hype. The fatalistic quality to the love story and film, and the weight and melancholy the actors give it, make it more than a simple low-key thriller.
Favorite moment: Sometimes cliches are cliches for reasons. The ending on the tarmac.

34. Back to the Future (1985)
A really perfectly structured film, that makes canny, integrated use of special effects and inspired casting to equal a whole more than the sum of its parts. it's really impressive, if you stop to think about it, that the movie is able to take what should have been a supremely uncomfortable and insurmountable concept - the idea that Marty's mother wants to have sex with him - and make it sweet and charming and funny, and only as creepy as necessary.
Favorite moment: I'm enough of a sap to thrill to George's moment of triumph against Biff.

33. The Green Mile (1999)
Frank Darabont has seemingly given up and conceded that Stephen King adaptations are where he lives as a filmmaker - he's filming King's The mist now. But this adaptation of one of my all-time favorite novels stands as a pulpy, overstuffed, melodramatic, and yet gorgeous throwback of a film. I just rewatched this recently, and what I love about it is how unhurried and leisurely it is. Not afraid to take its time and tell us the story the way it needs to be told.
Favorite moment: The execution of John Coffey, which, melodramatic as it is, earns the moment.

32. Babe (1995)
I've been rewatching this with my kids, and it really is just a delightful, enchanting piece of work. A simple story told simply, in spare, not show-offy, storybook style.
Favorite moment: Come on; it's got to be Babe inning that contest, complete with the sublime visual of the pig leading the sheep across the field in perfect formation.

31. Do the Right Thing (1989)
It's been said many times before, but what makes this film so powerful is how it refuses to cast villains or heroes, but gives us characters caught up in an inescapable net of preconceived notions and hatreds.
Favorite moment: The unresolved, not-really-a-reconciliation between Mookie and Sal at the end.

30. The Last Temptation of Christ (1989)
My favorite Scorcese film. It takes perhaps the most familiar story of all time and makes it new, and not by being blasphemous or glib, but by taking the deeply seated, core notion of the Catholic faith - that Christ was man and God and treating it seriously. That Christians didn't applaud this film, but instead attacked it, saddens me to no end.
Favorite moment: When Jesus realizes what is happening, and rejects the safe, long life that Satan is offering him.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Falling In Love Again
This hasn't happened in a long time. Eight years, at least, I'd say. But, there it is - I'm falling in love with a band.

A guy at work recommended I check out Arcade Fire. So I got the new album, Neon Bible, and put it on. Now, when I typically listen to music for the first time, my initial reaction is almost always within pretty narrow parameters, with "I kind of like this" and "I don't think I like this that much" representing the poles. It's only after several listens that I typically start to form strong opinions on new music. Here, as soon as I heard the opening driving, ominous piano and bass line, I was hooked.

This was last Friday, and I've probably listened to the album ten or twelve times so far (I'm listening to it now). The band sounds, to me, like a kind of inspired fusion of U2's epic, anthemic, minimalist qualities with a sunnier version of Radiohead's melodic sense, all performed by a huge band that features, in and amongst the guitar, bass, and drums, accordions, strings, and an extremely well-used pipe organ. I also love the combo of male and female voices, something that is of course quite common in musical theater but that you almost never hear in rock. And on top of all that, the ostensible lead singer, Win Butler, is that extreme rarity in rock music--a singer that actually sings. That is, he abstains from the typical indie rock choices of mumbling or speak-singing or employing thin, reedy, unsupported voices to instead sing, with power, clarity, and a lack of self-consciousness. Nice.
My next task is to get myself a copy of their first album, Funeral (Neon Bible is only their second full album). Can't wait.
Until Whenever
Defining Unscientific

According to The Numbers, 71 comedies have grossed in excess of $100 million in North American Box Office returns.

By my very unscientific analysis, 31 percent of these starred an actor from Saturday Night Live. This feels, to me, pretty significant, and a rough way of inidcating the real impact the show has had on comedy in this country.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Won't You Sing with Me?

Taking a page from Tom, here are the ABCs of things Tosy and Cosh love:

A.I. - A deeply moving, gorgeous movie with a central performance that stands as the best child performance I've seen since Henry Thomas in E.T.

Bono - The best singer in rock, for my money.

Coltrane, John - Just try listening to A Love Supreme and not being moved.

Deadwood - Whose second season I am enjoying immensely.

E.T. - Stop making me cry, damn it!

Freaks and Geeks - This just might be the biggest hole in my DVD collection. If you are a fan and haven't been reading Alan Sepinwall's recaps - stop reading my drivel and get there now!!!

Goldthwait, Bobcat - A much funnier comic than you might imagine.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Mightily duels A Charlie Brown Christmas for the title of "best Christmas special ever."

Indiana Jones IV - I'm loving what little bits have spilled out so far.

Jones, Edward P. - My favorite, if least prolific (one novel), literary writer working today.

King, Stephen - The storyteller of a generation. Or two. Or three.

Lost - The best television show on the air now.

Mann, Aimee - Who is overdue for a new album.

Nixon in China - Opera can be fun!

Ocean, The - Is anything as enervating as a swim in the ocean?

Part, Arvo - An Estonian composer who writes slow, seemingly simple, devastating music for choir.

Queen - There ain't no Freddie Mercurys any more.

Radiohead - Cause sometimes I needs me artsy-fartsy.

Sondheim - The man who has never had a smash hit will be remembered, and performed, a hundred years hence much more than such hitmakers as Andrew Lloyd Weber and Stephen Schwartz. Count on it.

Tunnel of Love - The forgotten Springsteen album.

U2 - The band I live and breathe.

Vivid - A great debut album from a band that never got back to those heights again (Living Colour).

Where You Are - Tracy Chapman's unjustly ignored most recent album.

XTC - I actually don't love these guys as much as like them, but finding Xs is hard!

Young, Neil - It took me a long time to realize that what Young does best is write and perform delicate, ethereal ballads.

Zooropa - A little bit of artsy-fartsy from U2.

Until Whenever

Monday, August 13, 2007


Jaquandor, knowing that resistance is futile and that I will steal a meme as soon as I’d take a sip of water, tags me with the below. Jaq’s fun twist on this meme is that participants are encouraged to add a question before tagging. So:

Four jobs I've had or currently have in my life:
1. Proposal writer – writing business proposals for a large accounting/professional services firm
2. Copywriter—writing copy for a small marketing firm
3. Account rep – formatting and overseeing production and quality control of airline menus
4. Membership rep – renewing memberships and processing dues payments for members of Actors’ Equity

(fun stuff, huh?)

Four countries I have been to:
1. Poland
2. Estonia
3. Lithuania
4. Russia

(I did a tour of Eastern Europe with the Rutgers University Glee Club eleven or so years ago)

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Home, playing with two rambunctious three-year olds
2. Exiting the ocean, and about to plop down in a beach chair with my iPod playing Neon Bible and reading Until I Find You
3. In the White Mountain region of New Hampshire, floating in a swimming hole
4. Finally watching that DVD of King Kong I got at Christmas

Four foods I like to eat:
1. Good and spicy Buffalo wings veritably smothered in blue cheese dressing
2. Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream
3. A tender and towering lamb osso bucco
4. Warm chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven dipped into cold whole milk

Four personal heroes, past or present:
1. Bono
2. Stephen Sondheim
3. Beethoven
4. Stephen King

(I know I should be more political, and that none of these remarkably talented men are really "heroes," but they are the ones whose works have moved me the most)

Four songs it would hurt the most to never hear again (New Question!):
1. “Where the Streets Have No Name” – U2
2. “No More” – Stephen Sondheim
3. “Check It Out” – John Mellencamp
4. “Sugar Baby” – Bob Dylan

Until Whenever

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Inspired by a post at Byzantium's Shores, I compiled the following list of beliefs I hold dear around the arts. I very well may add to this, but the beliefs listed here do a good job, I think, of summarizing how I feel about art.

My Credo

I believe that, while entertainment is one of the most worthy aspirations art can aspire to, art should not be judged on that basis alone, nor on any one single basis at all. Art need not necessarily move me, or make me think, or entertain me (although it must do at least one of those, and will often do two or three in tandem) – but it must engage me.

I believe that at the very extremes of the scale, art can be judged objectively. So, for example, that Citizen Kane is a better movie than Saved by the Bell Goes to Hawaii is not mere opinion, but actual fact. I caveat this belief in two important ways: First, note that this is only true at the extreme ends of the scale. So while I may think that The Shawshank Redemption is a better movie than Trading Places, I would not go so far as to call that a fact. A defensible opinion, but not a fact. Second, while it may be a fact that, again for example, Citizen Kane is a better movie than Saved by the Bell Goes to Hawaii, it does not necessarily follow that a viewer must enjoy the former over the latter. We are entitled as consumers of art to enjoy whatever we want (a point that seems obvious and yet is often disputed). So preferring Saved by the Bell Goes to Hawaii over Citizen Kane is not wrong. However, insisting that that fact makes it valid to claim that the former is better than the latter is wrong.

I believe that, in the arts, the ends justify the means. If an actress achieves a convincing, absorbing, and completely believable scene of sobbing through the use of sniffed onions, this does not make her performance lesser than an equally convincing, absorbing, and completely believable scene of sobbing achieved without external aids. A good model is better than bad CGI, and vice versa. There is nothing inherently more authentic about models vs. CGI, or hand-drawn animation vs. computer animation, or location shooting versus green screen. All that matters is the finished product and how well it does or does not work within its own frame.

I believe that reading a good novel provides pleasures a movie never could in a million years. And vice versa.

I believe that the notion that a long-running serial (TV show, comic book) can somehow devalue its early quality trough later lesser quality is false. The first three seasons of The West Wing are no less great because of the less-than-great last four seasons. Concurrently, I’d much rather have three seasons of greatness followed by four seasons of mediocrity than one season of greatness.

I believe that acting range is valued too little by the film industry and the film-going public. An actor should be encouraged and rewarded for creating unique characters, for being unrecognizable from film to film, and should be discouraged and punished for creating a persona and repeating it. Alas, the reality is pretty much exactly the opposite.

(Thank you Sondheim) Form follows function.

Until Whenever

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The T&C 100 - #s 40-49

49. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
What struck me the most upon a recent reviewing of this film was how beautiful it is, from a purely aesthetic point of view. I'm not sure the story is as strong as it might be, but the aching, melancholic quality of the visuals, especially the fights, as anchored by on one of the young century's great scores, make the film.
Favorite moment: That first chase/fight between the Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang characters.

48. Mary Poppins (1964)
To these ears, "Chim Chim Cheree" possesses one of the all-time great melodies, just a remarkable tune. On top of that, of course, is Andrews' peerless performance as Mary Poppins, enchanting mixing of animation and live action, Dick Van Dyke's inspired dancing, Ed Wynn laughing, the classic stuffiness of David Tomlinson, and a passel of other none-too-shabby songs to boot. But what holds the whole embarrassment of riches together is the perfectly pitched tone, at just the right distance between earnestness and humor.
Favorite moment: Towards the end, Bert ironically sings to Mr. Banks of Poppins' faults. So well acted by both gentleman.

47. Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones (2002)
The love story, to at least some degree, is supposed to feel hammy - the point being that these are two people who have never interacted this way with a member of the opposite sex. Anakin's "sand" speech is supposed to be awkward and lame. That aside, the mystery and intrigue angle, of where this clone army came from, is very well-handled, and the epic first battle of the Clone Wars is just stunning in scope and visual detail and inventiveness.
Favorite moment: Yoda kicks all sorts of ass. A moment that by all rights should not work, that should be corny and laughable, and yet, because of the great character work of Frank oz and the animators who followed him, grabs us by the throat.

46. Good Will Hunting (1997)
A tender, well-written, and well-acted little drama. Affleck and Damon have become such superstars and celebrities that it's hard to remember how quirky and sweetly slow the screenplay is. And Robin Williams may never have been better.
Favorite moment: Will and Skylar's first date, so perfectly pitched, not as the typical deep-meaning, meet-cute Hollywood date, but as an aimless, wandering, guarded first date that feels completely real.

45. Titanic (1997)
I've hoed these rows before, but I still insist that, had Titanic flopped, critics would today still be bemoaning that audiences didn't appreciate such a glorious throwback to epic Hollywood storytelling. But it made a BILLION DOLLARS so critics had to attack it. A shame.
Favorite moment: The string quartet starts to disband as the ship sinks. The lead violinist, knowing he has no chance of surviving, plays alone. And the other members, realizing what he's doing and what the reality is, come back to play with him one last time, figuring that their last hours on earth could hardly be spent in any better way.

44. Jurassic Park (1993)
A tight story, well-told, and with special effects that, fourteen years later, hold up wonderfully. A very well-balanced blend of adventure and awe, with the perfect amount of seriousness and weight.
Favorite moment: Hammond eating his melted ice cream as his dreams crumble around him.

43. Magnolia (1999)
A great ensemble in a shaggy, bursting-at-the-seams story full of heartache and sadness, with fleeting hints of beauty.
Favorite moment: All of our principals sing along to Aimee Mann's great "Wise Up" in one of my all-time favorite film montages.

42. Aliens (1986)
One of the great action movies, full of suspense, frights, and momentum. It's been an unforgivably long time since I've seen this film.
Favorite moment: Weaver's reveal at the end, in the big construction suit.

41. Se7en (1995)
Morgan Freeman doing deep-seated weariness better than anyone, with Kevin Spacey putting in a truly creepy performance, and Brad Pitt showing us that yes, Virginia, he can act (something he proved again a few months later the same year in 12 Monkeys). A twist-laden film that holds up under repeat viewings.
Favorite moment: Freeman comes to dinner - he plays those quiet moments so well.

41 Stand By Me (1986)
A more real-feeling portrait of being a young, teenaged boy has not been put to screen. It's the chemistry among the young cast that really sells it, and makes the journey they take resonate with us.
Favorite moment: Gordy breaks down.

Until Whenever
Oz Rules

I typically go to Aint-It-Cool for scoops and news and the like - not for long-form reading (there are exceptions). But this interview with Frank Oz is well worth a read, if for nothing else but how completely open and honest and genuine Oz comes across as. How open? I've only read the first third of the interview, but had to break away to post, just because the naked frankness of this exchange impressed me so:

Capone: Since your brought up STEPFORD WIVES, I think it's fair to say it was not a kindly received. What do you think happened there?

Frank Oz: I fucked up.

How awesome is that?

Until Whenever

Monday, August 06, 2007

On the Nightstand The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michael Chabon

That Chabon can create a remarkably real-feeling, historically speaking, world in a novel was proven in his lauded The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. So that he has done it again with the imagined post World War II Alaskan Jewish settlement of Sitka here is no real surprise. But the plotting that impressed in Kavalier and Clay is here a bit more muddy. maybe it's a function of my not having read the book in a sustained burst, but over the span of a few weeks, but I found myself frankly at sea and befuddled by the tying up of the plot threads in the end of the book - the big revelations about Meyer Landsman's (the main character) sister, the driving murder mystery of the novel, the larger conspiracy laden world that features heavily in the climax - all of it was confusing and murky to this reader. That being said, the richness of Chabon's prose and characters and the stunning specificity of the world and setting he has created more than made up for it. It's an odd duck, really - almost as if Chabon, fearful of being pegged too "literary," and proud of his love of pulpy plots and thrilling revelations, pushed against his instinct of writing a more low-key and less eventful "literary" novel by amping up the thriller/mystery angles of his story. And I really kind of wish he hadn't.

A Simple Twist of Fate: Bob Dylan and the making of Blood on the Tracks - Andy Gill and Kevin Odegard

A very readable, pleasant accounting of the creation of one of my favorite albums ever that didn't really engross me the way I expected it too. Still, the first-hand reminisces of the session players - both the New York players whose work was famously mostly discarded and the Minneapolis players whose work replaced the New York stuff - made the book easily worth the read. I'm always surprised by how good real musicians are - the accountings of Dylan barely playing through a song for them before they were to record it just amazed me. After all, the musicianship on display in the finished product is hardly sub-par.

Until Whenever

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Yes, It Was Only Upon Watching This for the First Time That I Finally Realized Where "Sundance" Comes From in "The Sundance Film Festival"

While I enjoyed the film quite a bit, it didn't immediately shove its way into my top 100 like The Iron Giant did. Still, it was easy to see where the affection for the film I've seen evidenced over the years came from. Really remarkable chemistry between, not just Newman and Redford (but there too of course) but between the guys and Katherine Ross as well. That the acting in the film is so solid really surprised me - not only were the leads great interacting, but they each effortlessly etched out their characters with deliberate, spare strokes (especially Ross, who gets a lot less screen time than the guys). I was also surprised at just how sexy that introduction-of-Etta scene is, with Sundance playing at making her undress at gunpoint; when I think of sexy filmmakers, I don't really think of Goldman.

What struck me the most, though, is how somber a film this is. I mean, for all of the jokiness and for all of the light banter, this is, in the end, a pretty straightforward tragedy - with two protagonists whose natures must lead to their downfalls. That Butch and Sundance pretty much go back into a life of crime knowing that it will kill them really made a strong statement. As did the bit with Etta leaving (she had told them earlier that she wouldn't stick around to see Sundance killed, so when she leaves it's pretty clear what she thinks is going to happen). The hopelessness of the long (maybe a bit too long) hunted-by-the-super-posse scene, the moment when Butch kills, the sadness of the Ross character - all of these elements were pretty glum. Don't get me wrong - again, I liked the movie - but it was certainly less happy-go-lucky than I had believed it to be, even having read the screenplay many years ago in William Goldman's excellent follow-up to the classic Adventures in the Screen Trade, Which Lie Did I Tell (More Adventures in the Screen Trade).

Until Whenever

Q: How pathetic is it that I was truly impressed with myself for the below?

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

A: Very.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The T&C 100 - #s 50-59

59. Love, Actually (2003)
This may well be (I'm actually too lazy to ALT-TAB over to my full list and check - pretty impressive, no?) my favorite romantic comedy. What surprises me so much is that the "anthology" approach of putting dozens of loosely related characters in one movie and telling all of their interconnected stories works so well in this genre. The plot thread with Liam Neeson and the little kid may well be my favorite - I love how it hinges on throwing reason to the wind and how it never deigns to mock the child for his feelings.
Favorite moment: The bow-tying ending, scored to the majestic organ sounds of "God Only Knows," when we see all of the characters at the airport.

59. The Sixth Sense (1999)
I, alas, saw this after having had the ending spoiled, so wasn't able to experience that thrill of awareness at realizing what has been going on. That the movie still spooked, moved, and engrossed me speaks to the fact that it is more than just a simple twist ending that made the film such a hit.
Favorite moment: Haley-Joel Osment's monologue to his mother near the end when they are stuck in traffic. Just a wonderfully acted scene by both Osment and Toni Collette.

58. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
I've seen precious few films that communicate sheer joy and happiness so well. The plot is dopey and kind of pointless, but the singing and dancing make us not care a whit.
Favorite moment: Donald O' Connor defying the laws of gravity. Try to watch that dance and not smile. Can't be done.

57. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
That Harris kind of trashed the character of Hannibal Lecter in follow-up novels has been well-hashed out; but this film stands up extremely well on its own, divorced from its sequels and prequels. The chemistry between Foster and Hopkins makes what could have been a pretty straightforward thriller into something much more.
Favorite moment: Lecter's gory escape from his cell. Still can't think about it without getting mightily creeped out.

56. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Roger Ebert's oft-quoted line about how this film should be mandatory viewing for teenagers is none the less true for its ubiquity - never have the destructive and rapturous qualities of drugs been more brutally depicted.
Favorite moment: The quick-cutting, horrific climax, set to that hypnotic bit of scoring from Clint Mansell.

55. The Truman Show (1998)
I don't think Jim Carrey has ever been better - even in Eternal Sunshine, where it's really Kate Winslet who carries the day. I love both the high concept and the dedication to that concept shown. (my favorite detail being the notion that musicians improv themes live to Truman's life to play along with the TV show, much like the silent film organists of yore. I also love that, while the film is scored by Burkhard Dallwitz, it is Phillip Glass who we see on the keyboards, and who provides the score-within-a-score that the Truman Show audience hears.)
Favorite moment: when Truman figures out (kind of) what is going on, and freaks out accordingly.

54. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
As a teenager (I was fourteen when the film was released) I didn't notice the faults that I've, as a grown-up, come to understand and regret (the cartoonification of Sallah and Marcus, the retread of so much Raiders material), but the film still has much so much to recommend it that I can't help but love it anyway. Ford plays the weariness of Jones so well, the sense of having been through all of this too many times before; it makes me positively giddy over how well he'll be able to convey that sense of aged wisdom and exhaustion in the upcoming epilogue. And the casting of Connery (burr notwithstanding) was a coup - he and Ford play remarkably well together, and the fleshing out of Jones' history is engaging and earned; I like learning more about this guy.
Favorite moment: Jones' disbelieving reaction to surviving the plummet of the tank and still being alive; it's easy to forget how well Ford portrayed Indiana Jones as a man surprised by what he does, as opposed to a coolly confident action hero.

53. X-Men II (2003)
The best of the trilogy, and a great superhero film. Very well constructed, with some stellar action sequences and (mostly) great casting. Jackman, Stewart, and McKellan form a trio of actors so well-suited to their parts that it's easy to forget how easily it could have gone another way.
Favorite moment: Jackman leaving Stryker - the man responsible for torturing and brainwashing him - to die. Well-played.

52. Star Wars: Episode VI—The Return of the Jedi (1983)
I probably loved this more as a ten-year old than I do now, but for all of its faults, there are moments in here that I will treasure always. I still haven't gone back and rewatched the six Star Wars films as one long story; when I do, seeing how the climax to the whole series - Vader killing the Emperor to save his son - plays will be seven flavors of awesome.
Favorite moment: The unmasking of Vader, and his quiet death, scored to a haunting, pianissimo rendition of Vader's theme.

51. The Iron Giant (1999)
It's here, at 51, after just a week. I suspect that if I did this again a year from now it will have moved up some. See here for my thoughts from last week; suffice it to say I cannot stop thinking about this film.

50. Jaws (1975)
A pretty much perfect film, with just the right blend of suspense, gore, character moments, and drama. Put all together, it feels effortless, but if just one element were out of balance the whole thing would have failed.
Favorite moment: A cliche, but can you blame me? Quint's monologue.

Until Whenever