M. Night Ranked

Never before have I experience the type of drastic shift from confidence to disdain for a director as I have for M. Night Shyamalan over the last twenty years. It was twenty years ago this week, on August 6th of 1999 that his third feature film, The Sixth Sense, opened in theaters. I haven’t watched his first two films and am saving those for a later date because from all accounts The Sixth Sense was a significant sea change for the creator. It was the movie that made him into the household name he’s become, for better or worse. In honor of this twentieth anniversary, I decided to rank M. Night’s pictures.

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My Favorite Underrated Disney Movies

With the release of the CG Lion King remake, I got to thinking about which Disney movies I love that don’t get that love in return. Here are my thoughts on my favorite underrated Disney animated flicks.

The Sword in the Stone (1963, dir. Wolfgang Reitherman)
While you might think this Disney version of the legend of King Arthur is just based on general stories it is, in fact, an adaptation of T.H. White which was one volume of four in The Once and Future King series, which was in turn a more modern updating of Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. Not only that, Walt Disney was inspired to approve the project as the studio’s next feature after seeing the Broadway musical Camelot in 1960. Instead of a high adventure film, The Sword in the Stone is a light comedy, focusing purely on Arthur’s adolescence and the first few months of training with the wizard Merlin. The primary arc of the film is not about Arthur becoming the king but finding strength and bravery within himself. Along the way, there’s lots of great visual comedy, especially when Merlin and his rival Madam Mim start breaking out the spells.

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Happy Birthday to Me: A Film For Every Year I’ve Been Alive

I turn thirty-eight years old today. Because film has had such an important place in my life, I decided to share 38 movies, one for each year since I was born, that are not necessarily my favorites but have a important place in my life. Hope you enjoy.

Modern Romance (1981, dir. Albert Brooks)
This wasn’t a film I watched as a kid; I didn’t even see it until I was in my thirties. However, it has become one of those that gets deeper the more times I watch it. My favorite aspect of Modern Romance is the lack of sugarcoating adult relationships; Brooks isn’t afraid to show his ugliness in terms of selfishness and codependency. The female protagonist is just as a terrible, allowing Brooks’ manic adult child to manipulate and coerce. The punchline of the whole film is the endnotes which reveal that these people become stuck in a toxic cycle never seeming to be able to break from this horrible relationship. Modern Romance, for me, is a warning about what kind of a partner to never become. However, it is incredibly funny stuff. More in my review here.

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My Favorite Bill Murray Films

Friday, June 14th marks the release date of Bill Murray’s newest film, The Dead Don’t Die, a deadpan zombie comedy directed by indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. That got me thinking about my favorite Bill Murray films and thus brings us to this list. As you’ll see I’m a bigger fan of the later Murray films, not so much his output in the 1980s. Without further discussion, here are my favorite Murray movies.

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The X-Men Films: Best to Worst

Today marks the end of an era. Nineteen years ago on July 14th, 2000 the first X-Men film was released by 20th Century Fox. This was only the second Marvel property to be adapted to movie screens after 1998’s Blade, and it would go on to inspire a whole industry of comic book films that are still being made today. Since that first movie, Fox has continually come back to the well putting out more installments in the X-Men franchise as well as better and more successful spin-offs with the characters of Wolverine and Deadpool. With Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, it’s become inevitable that these mutant characters are going to be reintroduced as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What that means is that today’s release of Dark Phoenix will be the last Fox X-Men movie. I decided to present my list of best to worst X-Men movies to mark this moment. I will not include the Wolverine or Deadpool pictures because I want to focus solely on the X-Men as a team.

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The Best Pillar of Light Movies

There’s a trope that has become infamous in recent years, especially with superhero movies: The Pillar of Light. You know the image, the villain is close to succeeding in their master plan, and the final step involves a device that fires a blue beam of light into the sky. The purpose of this light often doesn’t make sense and is always stopped before it does whatever it was intended to do. The trope has popped up in many Transformers movies as well as a handful of Marvel movies.

Most recently the blue pillar of light was seen in the trailer and on the poster for Godzilla: King of Monsters. I decided to list my five favorite pillars of light, regardless of how the movie ranks on my personal list.

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