This Is a Blog: My Beloved Movies: The Penitent Man

Friday, April 3, 2020

My Beloved Movies: The Penitent Man


I have what I call the quadrilogy of dumb sci fi movies stupid people think are smart: Prometheus, Looper, District 9, and this. This is the only one I like because unlike the others, once you embrace the dumbness, it gets better. It’s not a deep study of the unconscious or the meaning of dreams. It’s a heist film. And it’s a brilliant heist film. As an editor, one thing in particular strikes me. A good way to build tension is a ticking clock, but every time they go deeper into the dream, you actually get exponentially MORE time. So how do you build tension? You cut back to the van falling from the bridge. Never forget that in the first dream, they only have a matter of seconds. Every time they cut back to the van, my editor sense tingled.

The Incredibles

I used to make DVDs for a college screenwriting professor, so he could use film clips in his classes. After this movie came out, he told me he was considering redoing the DVDs and replacing them all with Incredibles clips. It’s a perfect screenplay. And it’s the only super hero movie I’m allowing on this list.

Independence Day

I saw this movie July 1996, with my summer camp. It’s the best blockbuster ever made. No one has ever been able to replicate it, even its own director, Roland Emmerich. There is not a single moment in any movie that promises more than the “July 3” title card that comes up after the cities are destroyed. I’ve seen this movie so many times since then, and even though the technology seems dated, hilariously so, the thrills don’t go stale, even in the slightest.

Indian Summer

It’s just a sweet, little movie. Incredible cast. Funny and heartfelt. And Sam Raimi (yes, the director) has an amazing scene of physical comedy unloading their bags from a boat.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

I told you I love father-son stories, so it’s no surprise this is my favorite Indiana Jones. Nothing tears a badass character down like pairing him with his father. Connery and Ford play off each other so well. Iconic moments, beginning to end.

Inglourious Basterds

This film is what makes Tarantino great. A lot filmmakers are aware of their own flaws, and they choose one of two ways to go: stay the course or change. Staying the course usually leads to stale filmmaking. Changing usually makes filmmakers lose their spark. Tarantino rides the line perfectly in this film. What’s the criticism? He writes self-indulgent dialogue scenes whose only purpose is to show off his writing, and go on way too tucking long. Either he could write shorter scenes, or do what he did here. He kept the way-too-long scenes, but he built tension with each line of dialogue. This wasn’t two people talking about old movies. This was two characters hiding something and the longer the scene goes on, the more likely it is the lie will be uncovered. And who doesn’t love Nazis getting gunned down?

The Invention of Lying

This is the best movie about atheism ever made. It’s not just funny, but it provides a rationalist, empathic look at the need for religion in the world, while simultaneously explaining why Ricky Gervais doesn’t believe in God. This is how most atheists are. We’re not all anti-God, or anti-religion, or anti-religious people. We just don’t believe in God.

Johnny Dangerously

I love these Airplane-style parody movies, and this one maybe went the most balls to the wall. It’s anarchistic absurdity cranked to 11. And Noah, you still owe me a free copy of this DVD that you said you’d get me from work 20 years ago.

The Karate Kid

This movie is the reason I took karate for three years. It’s just such a pure story of friendship and standing up for yourself.

Kill Bill: Volume 1

I am so disappointed Volume 2 wasn’t as good as Volume 1. This was just so much fun. Tarantino is at his best when he loves his subject matter, and does he love anything more than Kung Fu movies? The fight against the Crazy 88 is a work of art, and the final fight against O-Ren is just so personal. I wish the fight with Bill had been so good.

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