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We are kicking off the second round of our Movies of 1988 bracket game with two sublimely silly comedies about con men and criminals who are constantly trying to get one over on each other. Both A Fish Called Wanda and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels feature dim Americans pitted against sophisticated Europeans and the culture clash that results generates a lot of laughs. As does the ridiculous physical comedy. While both movies are smart, neither shies away from low-brow humor. As we keep saying, 1988 was a great year for comedy. But there’s only room for one intercontinental caper comedy in the final four. Which one will it be?
What do Dangerous Liaisons and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels have in common beyond being released three decades ago? More than you might think. Both movies are set in France. They were both adaptations (Liaisons is based on the novel Les Liaisons dangereuses and Scoundrels is a remake of Bedtime Stories). And both movies center on characters who lie to each other. There was also a real life dangerous liaison which crossed over to the cast of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but I will get to that after the jump.
Oscar and Tony winning actress Marcia Gay Harden is turning 58 today. While attending the University of Texas, she appeared in a short film directed by Edward Dmytryk, who was teaching a class there. After she graduated from Texas she earned an MFA at NYU and began making television guest appearances. Her first big film role was as Verna Bernbaum in Miller’s Crossing in 1990; three years later, she made her Broadway debut in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and received a Tony nomination.
Harden won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress as Lee Krasner in the 2000 film Pollock, and was nominated for a second Oscar for the role of Celeste Boyle in Mystic River. A few of her other notable films include The Spitfire Grill, Casa de los Babys, The Dead Girl, and American Gun. Recently she has appeared in the Fifty Shades of Grey films as Grace Trevelyan Grey. She won a Tony for starring in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, and currently stars as Dr. Leanne Rorish on CBS’s Code Black.
1987 is just flying by. Or at least the Movies of 1987 Bracket Game is. Today, we’re bringing Round Two to a close with two movies that will leave you laughing. Planes, Trains and Automobiles took audiences on a road trip home with Steve Martin and John Candy. And Raising Arizona showed what happened when an ex-con and an ex-cop resort to kidnapping to start a family. Which movie will reign as the top comedy of the year? That’s up to you guys. I just work here.
Steve Martin had a pretty good year in 1987. After making a splash with his first lead role in the 1979 comedy, The Jerk, Martin’s movie career floundered in for a few years. He rebounded in 1984 with the body-switching comedy All of Me and in 1987 he had two solid hits with Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Roxanne (which Martin also wrote).
Halle Berry celebrates her 50th birthday today. One of many fashion models to attempt to make the transition to film, she has been one of the most successful. She made her film debut in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever in 1991 and had her first lead role that same year in Strictly Business. In 1999, she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing the lead in the HBO biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, about the first black woman ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress:
Steve Martin’s public persona suggests that he is an effortless funny guy. But the truth is, he is a very serious, private person who works very hard at being funny. In February 1991, Martin was promoting his new movie, L.A. Story which he wrote and starred in with his then-current wife, Victoria Tennant. In this interview with Lawrence Grobel from Movieline, Martin reluctantly talks about topics ranging from his personal life to his love of art and which of his movies have meaning to him.
As I looked over a list of all of the movies released in 1986 while designing this newest bracket game, it struck me that there were several really unique and wonderful movies that came out that year which didn’t necessarily fit into any traditional genre. So since I was bound and determined to include a few of these movies I just went ahead and gave them their own section of the bracket. 1986 wouldn’t have been complete without them. Today’s matchup is between two movies in which a new and exciting presence enters a nerdy man’s dreary life to offer a little excitement before proving, quite predictably, to come with some built-in trouble.
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We have now moved out of the portion of our bracket that has any pretensions to awards season status. Instead, we’re looking at some of the best 1986 had to offer in yuks. These are, for the most part, simple comedic set-ups populated with charming comedic personalities and sprinkled generously with, you know, jokes. I haven’t made any secret about my lack of enthusiasm for many of the comedy films of recent years, but while 1986 didn’t offer any comedic masterpieces, the four included here sure are solid and plenty funny. Two of them will be advancing into our second round, so pitch in and vote and see if you can sway our other voters in the comments section!
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The final day of my trip to Disney’s California theme parks was here, and there were some things I had to experience that had not fit in to my first day at California Adventure or second day in Disneyland proper. This third day had not been assigned a touring plan prior to departing for the trip because I felt like I wanted to make it a day for finishing up what we had not succeeded in doing on the previous two days and repeating attractions we had particularly loved. I also had a few more squares on my Disneyland Bingo card to “X” out. That is precisely how we approached this day, with a touring plan quickly conceived based on input from everyone involved.
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All month long we here at Le Blog are going to be celebrating the Me Decade! The 1970s were an amazing time for the art of filmmaking. Passionate audiences across the world turned out consistently to see a wide variety of movies. For example, films as diverse as Patton, Woodstock, The Boys in the Band, and Love Story all managed to hold down the top spot at the box office at some point during 1970. Just take a look at our bracket below and consider how many great films did not get included. Auteurs such as Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, Altman, Spielberg and others broke through in the 70s, delivering films that were both artistically lauded and financially successful. But what has ended up being our absolute favorite movie of what may be the finest decade in film history? That is what we hope to find out here…within the context of the Le Blog community. So join us and vote each and every day as we dispose of masterful art with a click of a mouse!
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The first two posts of this series took us back through cinematic humor from today’s genre confusion and obsession with idiots and into the 1990’s which featured a greater proliferation of quality comedy writing and the unfortunate origins of some of today’s most disappointing trends. Now I step into Reagan era comedy with both anticipation and trepidation.
The years 1980-1989 contain both the end of my childhood and the entirety of my teenage years. This means that for more than half of the decade, I did not get to choose which films I got to see at the movie theater. Also, the 1980’s featured the explosion of home entertainment options, but this didn’t really get going for my family until about 1987. So while I saw each of my yearly selections from 1986-1989 on the big screen, the rest of these, I’ve had to catch up with on video or cable and only some of that happened during the 80’s.
My opinions of big screen comedy may be inexorably tied to my own development through this era as my expectations were first established and then subverted. Nobody experiences everything in exactly the same way. But I’m going to keep hold of some of my opinions here with all 32 teeth.