The Personal Recommendation Hall of Fame IV

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The King of Kong:A Fistfull of Quarters (2007)


This is one of those "documentaries" that was actually a crime passed off as a documentary. This is the story of a group of nerds who compete in old arcade games for high scores and pride. On the surface it's a touching thrilling little character study of a pair of men. The villain Billy Mitchell an 80's wunderkind who is a D list celebrity and Steve Weibe a challenger...an out of work every-man who never succeeded at anything inspite of being a master of several skills.


Now while on the surface this is a story of two men who enjoy Donkey Kong years later we find out that this is actually a scam. Walter Day is the man who runs this contest for the high scores of these games and it turns out what he was really doing was lying, cheating and inflating and eliminating scores to make his arcade business more profitable for a sale. It's an amazing crime the you don't find out in the documentary but rather what happens in the 10 years post. But the actions manage to elevate the subject matter...this is fraud or a Kabuki show dressed up as a documentary



We never found out which of the participants are in on the scam and which are just pathetic hanger oners. but still it's a great documentary and I hope we get a sequel.



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Waterloo Bridge (1940)

"Darling don't cry, it's a happy ending!"*

*spoiler alert, it isn't

Good pick for me as I enjoyed the original Waterloo Bridge and also Random Harvest which was picked for me in a previous HoF. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like it as much as the pre-code original as there were a lot of changes, but the old fashioned melodrama of it all got to me in the end.

Vivien Leigh gave an excellent and understated performance as Myra. I like Gone With the Wind in many ways, but I've always thought she was a bit OTT as Scarlett O'Hara. This is a very different performance. Robert Taylor is hopelessly miscast as a British army officer and I didn't feel the romance between them as much as I wanted to. Virginia Field gives a good performance in a small but important role as Myra's friend Kitty.

One thing that bugged me a little was that it was supposedly set in the first world war but everything about it looks 1940s, there's very little attempt at the period part of period drama.

At first I thought it wasn't that interesting visually, and certainly it's not the aspect the film is most interested in, but there were some interesting choices - like the first time Myra meets a client on the bridge, you don't see him at all, just hear his voice off screen.

A few similarities with another of my nominated movies, The Cranes Are Flying. Not sure yet where each will finish on my ballot!



The King of Kong:A Fistfull of Quarters (2007)


This is one of those "documentaries" that was actually a crime passed off as a documentary.
I think it's pretty apparent from the documentary that there's a ton of shady business going on in this community and that it leads to a lot of really unhealthy dynamics.

The part of this film that is seared into my mind is when the family is driving to the competition and the daughter is like "Maybe you could find another way to spend your time. *pointed and pained stare*". Like, dad please get out of the garage and attend to me growing up.





Black Dynamite (2009)

Black Dynamite is a throw back satire of old Blacksplotation films of the 70's. The lead character is a pimp-CIA-ex vet whose brother is killed as he goes on a rampage against drugs in the ghetto exposing a conspiracy which leads all the way up to the presidency. It's really stupid, deliberately poorly made for jokes and the jokes only land on occasion.

Part of me wants to check out the anime to see if it works through it's storyline problems. Technically it had a lot to admire to it, the film tries very hard to get that cheap B look...though it does miss with most of the actor choices. Less would be much more with this one as it feels like a Naked Gunn movie with Dumb and Dumberer humor and the mix just doesn't work.





The King of Kong:A Fistfull of Quarters (2007)


This is one of those "documentaries" that was actually a crime passed off as a documentary. This is the story of a group of nerds who compete in old arcade games for high scores and pride. On the surface it's a touching thrilling little character study of a pair of men. The villain Billy Mitchell an 80's wunderkind who is a D list celebrity and Steve Weibe a challenger...an out of work every-man who never succeeded at anything inspite of being a master of several skills.


Now while on the surface this is a story of two men who enjoy Donkey Kong years later we find out that this is actually a scam. Walter Day is the man who runs this contest for the high scores of these games and it turns out what he was really doing was lying, cheating and inflating and eliminating scores to make his arcade business more profitable for a sale. It's an amazing crime the you don't find out in the documentary but rather what happens in the 10 years post. But the actions manage to elevate the subject matter...this is fraud or a Kabuki show dressed up as a documentary



We never found out which of the participants are in on the scam and which are just pathetic hanger oners. but still it's a great documentary and I hope we get a sequel.
Love this documentary. I recently had a chance to talk about it as a guest on a podcast and it was a lot of fun to revisit it. I think it's one of the most enjoyable and accessible documentaries out there.
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The Straight Story (1999)

I'm actually not that big of a fan of David Lynch. Often times his films just aren't to my taste. Often times I leave a Lynch film and feel a bit cheated because the guy clearly doesn't like telling a straight story. Well when I heard about this film I just kinda passed on it because it just sounded so boring.

So I was a bit shocked when I realized I was watching the classic Odyssey story told with a Lynch twist and a tremendous amount of restraint. One of the big differences between this film and some of the other films is the lead while being eccentric also feels like a real person. The fine line was walked with Lynch and I really appreciate it. One of the things I really loved about it was you had horrific events happen with the characters but you never see it. I also like how you get the weight of the journey time passes by and can really feel it and see how it affects the other characters.

Some of the scenes didn't work all the way for me...especially the bargaining scenes it felt a bit removed from the characters motivations...but still the good greatly outweighs the okay.



Into my last leg, I just finished Exit Through the Gift Shop. 3 to go!




Castle in the Sky (1986)

Pazu: A girl just fell from the sky, boss!

A girl (Sheeta) and boy (Pazu), along with some pirates, some military folks and a bad guy, who reminded me of Toht, search for a Castle in the Sky with the help of a magical crystal.

The movie opens with the pirates attacking a blimp like flying machine looking for the crystal which Toht currently possesses. The girl steals the crystal from Toht and trying to escape climbs out a window, slips and crashes to the ground below. Not really though. As she nears the ground the crystal comes to life and floats the girl gently to the ground where she is found by the young boy and the race to the Castle is on.

Eventually they all reach the castle and the movie climaxes with a very well done action sequence where everything comes together. Why Toht is so consumed with the castle, what the pirates are looking for and what is Sheeta's connection? The action in this is pretty exhilarating especially the first chase, on the train. It had a bit of that early 80's action/adventure feel to it. That's what hooked me and got me thinking this may not be what I was expecting ( a heavy handed, message movie). The animation is fantastic, a little more oomph to it than Porco but a little less impressive than Mononoke. One thing that surprised me was the soundtrack. The music was so good, it fit perfect and I think that's a big reason why the movie felt a little Spielberg-like to me.

Sometimes with these HoF's there are movies you just expect to be a slog to get through and this was the one I was worried about. I've never been a fan of anime because I never really watch a lot of anime. I have to get over that because here is another anime that I liked a lot. Castle in the Sky is solid adventure movie and one I'm sure to share and watch again.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Have not seen I Walked with a Zombie but it does look worthwhile.

Seen Voices a couple of times and I do remember the first time being a bit offset by how much off the rails it goes. Though, knowing that, the second and third times I quite enjoyed it.

Curious about The King of Kong:A Fistfull of Quarters, especially the scam aspect of it.

No interest in seeing Black Dynamite for the exact reasons @Siddon remarked on.

The Straight Story was recommended for me in the first of these HoFs and it was a wonderful surprise, not only in itself but that it was Lynch that directed it. Because it was SO out of his norm. A heartfelt story played by a true gentleman who, sadly, died after making it.

Castle in the Sky along with, Howl's Moving Castle is on my watchlist in regards to this genre of anime.



I have three somewhat daunting films left to go and I'd much rather find the mood to experience, and most likely enjoy them and thereby appreciate what looks to be some very good films. But I WILL get to them. Preferably, rather soon.
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EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
(2010, Banksy)



"I don't know how to play chess, but to me, life is like a game of chess."

Chess is described as a game of strategy. One that requires patience and long-term "planning" as each player positions their pieces strategically to achieve the final goal. Because of this, a lot of people find it tough to learn or follow, or consider it unrewarding because of its "long-term" focus. When amateur filmmaker and aspiring street artist Thierry Guetta compares life to a game of chess after admitting he doesn't know how to play it, well, that probably gives you an idea of his general approach to his work.

Exit Through the Gift Shop chronicles the evolution and rise of Guetta from French immigrant and small businessman to street art sensation. Directed by mysterious street artist Banksy, you can see Guetta bounce and stumble from "passion" to "obsession", and viceversa. From his obsession with carrying a camera and filming everything and his subsequent venture into the world of street art, to his obsession with meeting Banksy and his eventual desire to become a street artist himself.

This is a captivating documentary that captures the essence of what could be a madman or a genius, or both. Banksy presents both sides to Guetta's personality, starting with the way he earned the respect of street artists around the world by joining them in nocturnal escapades and daring stunts. But halfway through, he shifts to show a more worrying side of Guetta, a side that's probably more obsessed with an endgame, whatever that is, than with the craft itself.

Guetta is a captivating figure himself precisely because you can't really figure him out. At some point, some of the interviewees argue that he has possible mental issues, all while we see people from all walks of life pay thousands and millions of dollars for his stuff. As we see his crazed rise to fame, which some think disregards what street art means and stands for, another interviewer wonders "who the joke's on" or even "if there is a joke".

Ultimately, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary about a man who I might say doesn't know what he's doing, but is still bold enough to play the game in order to do *something*. He might not know how to play chess, but he's still moving his pieces, hoping that they land in the right place. And as far as he's concerned, so far they have.

Grade:



Curious about The King of Kong:A Fistfull of Quarters, especially the scam aspect of it.
The documentary is a great watch, but it is worth noting that it doesn't really focus on the "scam aspect" of it, most of which really surfaced in the years after. You can see shades of it, but the focus is the rivalry between these two players: Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, as they each use different methods to achieve this record.




Curious about The King of Kong:A Fistfull of Quarters, especially the scam aspect of it.

The documentary covers like 06 the con doesn't really come out til 2018 but you see the early parts of the scam in the documentary.





Saturday Night Fever (1977)

I started watching this film in high school and just found it boring and turned it off. Watching it now older with a more refined cinematic palette I can appreciate what the filmmaker was going for. You see enough bad hangout films you appreciate the good ones.

It's basically a hangout film, a bunch of interchangeable low income new yorkers hanging around the seedy side of the city(before it got all cleaned up). Tony Manero is a narcissist working a dead end job living to dance and get laid he enters a contest where he swaps out Annette for Stephanie obviously feeling like he could do better. Tony chases Stephanie throughout the film trying to hook up with the older woman over the easier younger girl.

The film builds up to a rape, gang fight and death but it all just feels tacked on and underwhelming. Once again this New York doesn't feel real but who knows maybe people were just banging in cars on the streets and the police ignore a car driving through a building.

I didn't hate it enough to turn it off like I did when I was 17...now in my 30's I was just bored but it's simplistic messages and one dimensional characters.



Just finished The Virgin Spring so you can chalk another one for me. Just two to go.



The Voices - Kind of surprised this is on a MoFo list. Barely remember it but I do remember it had its moments but not enough of them.

Dark City - One of my fav sci fi movies even with Kiefer hyperventilating through it all.

King of Kong - plunked my fair share of quarters into that GD machine wasting away my free time (and money) at Galaxy of Games as a kid. I never understood how they just accepted Billy's crappy video as proof that he beat Wiebe's score. Thought it was an interesting doc about a bunch of Peter Pans and an angry Ape.

Black Dynamite - Love this one, it's hilarious and is easily one of my fav comedies of the last 20 years. I think it does perfectly what it sets out to do and has some memorable one liners. If you enjoy this the animated series has some hilarious episodes as well.

Straight Story - Haven't seen it in a while but I like it.This is the movie that makes respect Lynch even more than I already did. Hard to believe that making a movie like this is stepping out of someones comfort zone but that's exactly what Lynch did and pulled it off.