The Great Gatsby
One Line Description: A mysterious millionaire woos the married friend of his much poorer neighbor.
I have always been a big fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. The run he started in 2002 is pretty remarkable, but the hits haven’t been as great lately. This movie was junk, not because of Leo, just in general. Tobey McGuire has never been a favorite of mine, and even though this is based on a book, the story just feels so ‘blah’. The modern hip-hop soundtrack was actually a cool touch, and was more of a positive than I expected it to be. Hollywood went through a 5–10 year period were every movie was 90 minutes and out. Now the other end of the spectrum has been hit, where every movie scrape against the 2.5 hour mark. This is a perfect example of a movie that could have bee 30 minutes shorter, and as a result might have been a much better experience.
One Line Description: The hijinks of a wacky summer camp.
It’s hard to know if this was list of shame material, but upon viewing, it sure didn’t feel like it. This was Murray’s first starring role, and Ivan Reitman’s first movie, so there is some nostalgia to be hard here. The problem is that the supporting cast stinks, and the movie isn’t funny outside of a few Murray gags. It’s amazing to think that this movie spawned multiple sequels. For anyone of a later generation, this feels like the main influence behind Wet Hot American Summer, which thanks to it’s cast is a much superior movie. Murray wasn’t a nobody at the time, because of Saturday Night Live, but it’s easy to see where the stardom would come from shortly after this.
Broadcast News (1987)
One Line Description: The rise of two television news reporters and a female producer who cross paths on the way to varying levels of success.
This movie was nominated for 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, but it’s pretty hard to grasp why. It’s possible that this movie just feels so dated that it’s hard to appreciate. William Hurt, Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter play the three main roles. This was Hurt’s third straight Oscar nomination1. It was Brooks’ first and only, and Hunter’s first of four. This movie probably did more for her career than anyone, but it’s likely that the combination of her, Hurt and James L. Brooks at the helm that gained it a lot of recognition. Brooks had already won Oscars for Terms of Endearment four years earlier. This movie had a few good moments, but suffered from being a tad too long to maintain enjoyment throughout.
One Line Description: X-Men member Wolverine goes to Japan to help an old friend.
It’s safe to say that playing Wolverine in the original X-Men put Hugh Jackman on the map. He is credited with being very talented due to his Broadway roots, but his filmography reads a little rough. At this point it’s hard to see his legacy being anything other than Wolverine. And unfortunately for that legacy, this movie stinks. A hair over two hours2, with no interesting characters, or any other X-Men tie-ins it seems. This movie feels like a million movies that have come before it, and like a lot of recent comic book movies, the lengthly CGI action sequences just don’t add anything anymore. They have been done to death to a point where if there isn’t some meat elsewhere the movie really fails. Wolverine was never a compelling enough lead character because he is such a jerk. But he is the perfect supporting guy. At least in the Orgins movie, there was the intrigue of learning how he became what he was, but this offers none of it. Easily the worst movie in the X-Men franchise so far.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
One Line Description: Racial tensions boil over on a hot day in Brooklyn.
Spike Lee! In one of his earlier films, Lee plays a main character in the sense that he is on screen a lot, and interacts with everyone, but he really doesn’t drive this movie. This is obviously a famous movie, and with the event in Ferguson, MO lately it feels very relevant again. Samuel L. Jackson has a small role, Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring from Breaking Bad) has a bigger one and it’s Rosie Perez’ first role. Danny Aiello is one of the main characters and got an Oscar nomination for his work. Lee got one for screenplay. John Tuturro and Martin Lawrence show up as well. This is by far the best of the five movies covered on this list. It feels completely valid today, and even the late–80s feel doesn’t take away from that. It’s easy to see where the tension is going to lead, and again it’s apropos to current events. The style feels very much in that of Spike Lee, and while the story isn’t tremendous, the execution is nearly perfect.