My Dirty Dozen

Time for today’s Blogfest entry. These are my Dirty Dozen movies of all times, in descending order:

12. The Dirty Dozen: Of course! Where to begin? A subversion of every war movie made until that date and of the attitudes of the time The Dirty Dozen doesn’t pull any punches. War is a dirty business that requires dirty men and some of them are dirtier than others. Murders, rapists and all around scalawags. In an army of millions, you are sure to find a few of them here or there and Major Reissman does just that. Doesn’t hurt that it is played by Lee Marvin. The final sequence is standard war movie stuff, with big explosions and everything, but what leads to it is what makes this movie stand out from the rest.

11. Dune: Another book made into a movie. Panned by critics and bombing at the box office when it came out, never the less, David Lynch’s take on Frank Herbert’s classic is stunning. The sense of style and scale are amazing, and the rock opera score (from Toto no less) exceeds all expectations.  It may not be the most faithful of adaptations, but stands on its own as a sci-fi classic. LONG LIVE THE FIGHTERS!

10. Blade Runner: Another sci-fi adaptation (of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). It was Ridley Scott before Scott became a legend in his own right. The movie that cemented the cyberpunk look; mega cities, megacorps, the Japanese take over of the world and the sense that Man, whatever he may be, is but a sliver of thought in an ocean of ideas. The flying car sequences alone are enough to pull you in and the final fight with the replicant leader tugs at your emotional heartstrings. “I want you to use the machine on her, Deckard.”

9. Akira: The  movie that defined anime outside of Japan (also an adaptation to film, this time from the manga of the same name). Deviant youths cruising the chaotic streets of Neo-Tokyo, old psychic souls trapped in the bodies of children, government conspiracies both large and small, Akira has it all, it has it spades and threw in an orbital kill-sat for good measure. Blowing up Tokyo (twice!) never felt so eerie or satisfying. The psychic scream scene at the beginning of the movie, plus the nightmare escape from the hospital are a must for all anime/movie lovers. AKIRAAAAAAA!!!!!

8. Ghost in the Shell: Another manga adaptation to the big screen. It’s cyberpunk 2.0. Where Akira is visceral, Ghost in the Shell is cerebral and told from the point of view of the government conspiracy, or at least those who work within government to keep it on track.  It doesn’t hold back on the action either although it isn’t as dark as it’s predecessors, it does show that technology has its price and that the human soul may not be anything more than a memory.  Cyborgs never looked so good since Deckard’s smoking replicant girlfriend.

7. Dr. Strangelove: Political satire at its finest, made more so intriguing in that it was built entirely around the words of leading nuclear war theorists (the man-to-woman ration thing was real, as ludicrous as it sounded then or today). It also has Peter Sellers at his finest, as a demented ex-nazi with an evil gloved hand and a meek President trying to explain to his Soviet counterpart, that unfortunately one of his generals “went a little funny in the head” and now Moscow is about to go KABOOM, which strangely enough it did, but because of the Soviet’s own Doomsday Device, talk about Mutually Assured Destruction! “We must protect our precious bodily fluids!”

6. X-Men: Why this movie and not Iron Man or The Dark Knight? Because those movies would not exist it if were not for the first X-Men movie.  As a movie it made the modern superhero movie possible (and as a franchise it nearly killed it, although the Superman remake and Hulk were far worse). Not an adaptation per say, since it only took the characters and concepts from Stan Lee’s long running series (part of Marvel’s New Wave of comic books that started in the 1960s), it deludes the essence into life-action imagery without going overboard.

5. The Longest Day: One of the last truly epic war movies shock full of movie stars (watch it and see if you can spot all of them, hint, two Bonds appear on screen). Accurate and realistic (for the time), it tackles one of the most important days in the 20th Century, the invasion of Europe or D-Day. Notable in that non-English speakers lines are not dubbed but subtitled and that the Germans are treated realistically.

4. Saving Private Ryan:  Steven Spilberg/Tom Hanks at their finest, with a great backup of performances (and like #5, a few hidden celebrity gems).  Where as Longest Day is epic, Private Ryan is gritty. It strips away the vainglorious nonsense of  past war movies, without the action cinema excesses.  These are real men fighting a real enemy and facing death around every corner. Visceral, dramatic and soul wrenching,  you can’t watch this movie and not shed a few manly tears. “I’ll see you on the beach!”

3. Gladiator: Anachronistic and accurate as the same time, this is Ridley Scott at his finest. A soaring score, matched with bloody imagery that leaves no doubt Rome, for all it’s wealth and glory is a primal, self-consuming society. I also found it to be a deft commentary on our own modern society and our claims at superiority through modernity. The subversive political subtext is there, if you really listen. “On my mark, unleash Hell!”

2. Empire Strikes Back: This is the way you make a sequel (and the first thing you do is get George Lucas out of the director’s chair).  The second movie in a trilogy can make or break it, and Empire saves it. The stakes are higher, the Empire (and Darth Vader) are scarier and the mysteries of the Force run deeper. If you thought that the might of Empire was impressive when you saw the Death Star, it doesn’t compare to the sheer terror of a kilometer long warship or the inexorable approach of AT-AT on your position. “Apology accepted Captain Needa.”

1. Star Wars: Not the prequel (we will not speak of the prequels). Space Opera at it’s best. Along with Jaws, it cemented the movie blockbuster as the pinnacle of the Hollywood movie experience. George Lucas did what no one dared to do before (and many have failed to replicate, especially Lucas himself), a classic for the ages. It also defined the concept of the movie franchise, with millions of novels, video games, action figures and other assorted paraphernalia.  After Star Wars, nothing was the same.  “May the Force be with you.”

——-

I left out a few movies, such as LotR, Batman Begins/Dark Knight, The Matrix (only the first one), V for Vendetta, Sin City, When Harry Met Sally, Harry Potter and many others, but I only had 12 spaces and I wanted to highlight some movies that others would have missed.

And to cap it all off, here is the original trailer for The Dirty Dozen.

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  1. Akira! That would be my anime pick as well.
    Thanks for participating in my first blogfest!

  2. Love seeing DUNE in this list 🙂 I hope the remake of that sf classic won’t disappoint us when it comes out in a few years.

  3. Yay! Another Bladerunner fan! Nice list!

  4. Good list. I also had Gladiator on mine. The Longest Day, Blade Runner, and Saving Private Ryan are all worthy.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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