Archive for film

NO MORE GAMES (A Movie-Marathon Alternative To The Olympics)

Posted in The Popular with tags , , , , , , , on August 12, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


I CAN’T believe it’s been four years since I completely ignored the last Summer Olympics. If you, like me, couldn’t give a shit about the ’08 Games, then I offer you this list of counter-programming.

Just turn off NBC and enjoy a marathon of these movies instead — you’ll get the games (kinda) without all the garbage.

I had only a few rules for the list — the sport had to be present in the film somehow, the athletes had to be amateurs, and the films had to be great … or at least pretty good.

So let the games be gone and let the marathon begin:

(And for more info on the films, click on the titles to go to their pages.)

Archery: “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) It hits the bullseye of fun. (How’s that for a tag line?)

Baseball: “The Sand Lot” (1993) Kinda like “Stand By Me,” but with baseball instead of a body.

Basketball: “Hoop Dreams” (1994) Great doc. (Runner-up: “Deadly Friend,” but only for the decapitation-by-basketball scene)

Boxing: “Twenty Four Seven” (1997) Black and white, British, and Bob Hoskins runs a boxing club.

Canoeing: Without A Paddle” (2004) OK, it’s not that good, but I’ve never seen the obvious pick — “Deliverance” (and I’d rather watch the Olympics than see Ned Beatty squeal).

Cycling: “Breaking Away” (1979) Obviously.

Diving: “Back To School” (1986) Dangerfield doing “the Triple Lindy.” That’s comedy (well, it was in 1986).

Equestrian: “The Godfather” (1972) Yeah, this one’s a stretch, but has a horse ever had greater impact in a movie?

Fencing: “The Princess Bride” (1987) “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Field Hockey: “Ginger Snaps” (2000) A cool Canadian horror flick about teenage girls and “the curse.”

Gymnastics: OK, I’m stumped here. Does that awesome chase through the construction site in “Casino Royale” count as gymnastics?

Sailing: “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) There’s really only one scene in the whole film that takes place outside of the mental hospital, but when those inmates bust out…

Shooting: Sorry, but I can’t think of one movie with a gun in it.

Soccer: “Bend It Like Beckham” (2002) Fortunately, Becks isn’t in it — unlike our country.

Swimming: “The Big Bad Swim” (2006) A low-budget comedy about a swim class in Connecticut. Even so, it’s pretty good.

Table Tennis: “Ping Pong” (2002) A manga-based Japanese comedy-drama with cool CGI ping-pong action. (Runner-up: “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.” Who knew Winona Ryder had such talent?)

Tennis: “Match Point” (2005) Woody Allen managed to slip in a good movie this decade.

Track: “Run Lola Run” (1998) If you gotta watch someone run around and around, you could do worse than Franka Potente.

Volleyball: “Cast Away” (2000) Best use ever of a volleyball in a movie.

Wrestling: “Borat” (2006) Best use ever of a censor bar in a movie.

Well that should keep you busy. Oh, and if anyone knows of a movie with a badminton scene, let me know… (and no, “Bye Bye Birdie” doesn’t count.)



Posted in The Popular with tags , , , , , on July 24, 2008 by Adam Sapiro


HAVE you seen ‘The Dark Knight’ yet?’ That’s what everyone keeps asking. Well, no. I hated “Batman Begins” and I’m in no rush to see yet another overstuffed superhero movie. I decided to go another way this week.

I watched a little-known 1971 film called “Two-Lane Blacktop” instead. There’s no villain, no real plot, minimal dialogue, only one real actor — hell, the characters don’t even have names — and yet I was mesmerized from beginning to end (and this film has one of the coolest movie endings ever). I could tell you what it’s “about” but that doesn’t matter — and that’s why I enjoyed it.

A lot of people complain about films like this — “There was no plot!” — but these are the films that amaze me. Like life (which also doesn’t have a plot), they can move you, sometimes to tears, and you never see it coming.

As a rule, if a movie’s characters are interesting, I’ll follow them anywhere — no plot necessary. Some movies get it half right — I remember watching “Sideways” a few years ago and being really pissed when the contrived plot devices intruded midway through and spoiled the ride. And then there’s “No Country For Old Men,” a film that tricks you into believing the plot is important when it really isn’t.

Unfortunately, summer movies are all about plot. But if you’re burned out from the sensory overload of all the season’s blockbusters and you want to cleanse you’re palate, here’s a list of 15 of my favorite movies of the past 15 years that have little or no plot, just interesting characters connecting in interesting ways. If you see some movies you already like, then you’ll probably want to check out some of the others. Click on the titles to see each film’s page.

(Disclaimer: I’m not a film snob — I love my share of trashy movies too, like “Armageddon” and “The Fast and the Furious,” so back off. And I’m not listing stuff by directors like Cassavetes, who paved the way — the films below are all fairly recent and easy to get into. Also, I’m not including excellent movies like “Jackie Brown” and “The Big Lebowski” that are more enjoyable when you just ignore the plot. Fourth, while I liked “The Savages” and the way it rambled on, it does kinda have a plot, so that should serve as a guideline here. Finally, three of the films listed are by Richard Linklater, one of my all-time favorite directors and a big fan of “Two-Lane Blacktop.”)

15 Great (Relatively) Plotless Movies

Bonus: If you really like your movies without a plot, check out director Aaron Katz’s “Quiet City” and “Dance Party, USA” — two fine examples of mumblecore (and if you don’t know what that is, you will after you watch them.)