Category: Movies

Vin Diesel’s Best Films (That’s Aren’t Fast & Furious) – Matthew Monagle Picks ‘Em and Craig Reacts

Matthew Monagle at /Film picked out what he considered  The 14 Best Vin Diesel Movies (That Aren’t The Fast And The Furious).  I decided to play along.  Here are my top 5 selected from Monagle’s list plus reasons I didn’t pick a couple of “obvious” choices…

Pitch Black: Diesel’s signature character in his first outing.  I love this film and character.

The Chronicles of Riddick: While I’m not a fan of the movie’s title, the film has improved with every viewing.  It went from a cool low-budget monster movie to a world (universe) expanding epic.  Kudos for the effort and as I said, it gets better with every viewing.

Knockaround Guys:  This underrated film should be required viewing for an Vin Diesel fan… and he’ll throw a beatin’ on anyone who disagrees.

The Iron Giant:  An animated film with something for kids and adults (or the kid in every adult).

A Man Apart:  Diesel as a DEA agent seeking revenge against the drug cartel that killed his wife.


A couple of films that I didn’t pick but seem like obvious choices…

Guardians of the Galaxy:  is a great film and Diesel provides the voice for Groot.  I didn’t pick this because Vin doesn’t do more than say variations of the word “Groot” and is that really the best representation of a Vin Diesel movie?

Saving Private Ryan:  is another great film and the argument could be made to include it in the top five.  I didn’t because I don’t really consider it a Vin Diesel film.  It was a Steven Spielberg film.  Diesel wasn’t the star.  In fact his name was nowhere on the poster and came in around 7th on the credits.  That’s not to say Diesel was great in his role, but I didn’t (for this list) consider Saving Private Ryan a Vin Diesel film.

Finally, I would have found a spot for Riddick the second sequel to Pitch Black,

The Best Films by Debut Directors!

Liam Gaughan at /Film compiled his list of The 15 Best Debut Films From Directors.  It’s a good list and so I decided to play along.  Here are my top 5 (in alphabetical order) selected from Gaughan’s 15 plus three that didn’t make his list that would have made mine…

Cohen Brothers: Blood Simple.  What an amazing debut that kickstarted a career that has spanned over three decades in ever changing genres.  I drove over 100 miles round trip to see Blood Simple when it first came out since it wasn’t showing anywhere near me.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Huston, John: The Maltese Falcon.  George Raft turned down the role of Sam Spade because he didn’t want to work with a first time director!  What a mistake.  We’re better off for it, because Bogart makes the perfect lead.

Mann, Michael: Thief.  Mann’s first outing in the director’s chair shows the foundation for his movie trademarks: night scenes, music and noir.

Romero, George: Night of the Living Dead How many directors have directed a debut film that generated multi-billion dollars across movies, books, toys, comics, posters, t-shirts and more?

Welles, Orson: Citizen Kane.  Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane is arguably the best, most revered first time director’s debut of all.  Sadly, Welles never rose to those heights again (who could?), but he did go on to direct and star in other great films.


The three debut directors that didn’t make Gaughan’s list but that would have made mine are…

Hill, Walter: Hard Times.  Straight out of the shoot, Hill directed Charles Bronson and James Coburn in a depression era macho film that had heart.   He would follow Hard Times with The Driver, The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48 hrs, and Streets of Fire!

McQuarrie, Christopher: Way of the Gun.  While Way of the Gun isn’t for everyone, those that love it, LOVE IT.  McQuarrie wouldn’t direct another film for over a decade until he helmed Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.  McQuarrie then went on to direct Cruise in three Mission Impossible films (two still to be released).

Stahelski, Chad: John Wick.  After Stahelski’s debut, action films took on a new look aka “John Wick” action.

“Red Notice” – Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot & Ryan Reynolds – The Trailer is Here!

Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds headline Red Notice and we’ve got the trailer.  This looks like it will be fun but nothing great.  Since it’s on Netflix, I’ll tune in.

An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the FBI’s top profiler (Johnson) and two rival criminals (Gadot, Reynolds), there’s no telling what will happen.

The “Moonfall” Trailer is Here and it is Nuts!

The trailer for Moonfall is nuts.  It reminds me of any number of disaster movies but that’s not a bad thing if you know what to expect when you start watching and that’s a fun thrill ride where you put you mind in check.

In Moonfall, a mysterious force knocks the Moon from its orbit around Earth and sends it hurtling on a collision course with life as we know it. With mere weeks before impact and the world on the brink of annihilation, NASA executive and former astronaut Jo Fowler (Academy Award® winner Halle Berry) is convinced she has the key to saving us all – but only one astronaut from her past, Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson, “Midway”) and a conspiracy theorist K.C. Houseman (John Bradley, “Game of Thrones”) believes her. These unlikely heroes will mount an impossible last-ditch mission into space, leaving behind everyone they love, only to find out that our Moon is not what we think it is.

Directed by Roland Emmerich and written by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser & Spenser Cohen, the film also stars Michael Peña, Charlie Plummer, Kelly Yu, Eme Ikwuakor, Carolina Bartczak, and Donald Sutherland.

“Fauci” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster and trailer for Fauci are here.  The poster is about what you’d expect — a straightforward ad for the movie.  The trailer makes me want to see and learn more about the man who has advised Presidents for decades.

Crafted around unprecedented access to Dr. Fauci, National Geographic Documentary Films’ FAUCI is a revealing portrait of the nation’s top infectious disease expert and one of our most dedicated public servants. The film will debut in select theaters on September 10.

The All-Time Best Heist Movies!

Nick Bartlett at /Film came up with his list of The 20 Best Heist Movies Of All Time.  Using just his list, here are my top five (in alphabetical order) and my thoughts on each.

Asphalt Jungle, The:  John Huston directs a cast that includes: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe and even a young Marilyn Monroe.  Considered by many to be the best heist film of all-time!  A must see for any fan of the genre.

Heat: Michael Mann wrote and directed this modern heist masterpiece with an all star cast that included Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan and Hank Azaria.  Just the cast alone should make you want to watch it!

Killing, The:  Stanley Kubrick directs a screenplay that he co-wrote with Jim Thompson!  Stars include Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Elisha Cook Jr. and (the strange but great) Timothy Carey.

Reservoir Dogs:  Quentin Tarantino’s first film!  Again we get another all-star cast that included Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Edward Bunker and Tarantino!

Rififi:  This is probably the least known film on the list and that’s a shame because it is a classic!  Some won’t give it a shot because it is a foreign film with no big name American stars and that’s a shame.  If you haven’t seen Rififi, give it a shot!

Looking over my choices I was impressed by how many of the films were written or co-written by the director.  They obviously had a love for the genre, created a wonderful screenplay and were able to attract an all-star cast.

“No Time to Die” – Final Trailer and Craig’s “What If..” Ending

No Time to Die is supposed to be Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond.  He’s had a good run.  In fact he’s my second favorite Bond (behind Connery).  No Time to Die looks to be a good swan song.

I get the feeling that Bond could die in this film.  If so, they would be able to confirm that there is no James Bond, just different agents who take on them name and the 007 moniker.  It would also give them freedom to set up the next Bond.  Can you imagine seeing a desk with pictures of all the past 007s spread across it and then M hitting the intercom and saying, “Send in 007″…

But do I really think there is a chance of that happening?  Not really.

The Best Alien Movies – Have You Seen Them?

Margaret David at /Film came up with her list of 20 Movies About Aliens That You Definitely Need To Watch.  Using just her list, here are my top five (in alphabetical order) and my thoughts on each.

10 Cloverfield Lane: I was glad to see 10 Cloverfield Lane make the list.  While it’s not the first movie to come to mind when most folks think of “alien” movies, it surely qualifies.  I love how it starts as one thing, turns into another and then ends up as a definite alien movie.  I need to see it again!

Alien NationAlien Nation is under-rated. If you haven’t seen it you should.  This is another one I need to rewatch.

Contact:  I’m a big fan!  Contact is another under-rated gem.  Plus Jodie Foster!

They Live: John Carpenter mixes a social message with alien overlords starring Roddy Piper and it works!

Thing, TheJohn Carpenter dared to remake the classic The Thing from Another World and in the process created what some consider his best movie.  I saw The Thing in a nearly empty theater on it’s initial theatrical release.  The Thing was not highly thought of at the time by most fans and critics, but has gone on to develop a following and is considered a classic in the genre.


The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers didn’t make David’s list, but would have made mine and well ahead of the 1978 sequel (which did make her list).

The All-Time Best Western Movies

Liam Gaughan at /Film created his list of The 20 Best Westerns of All-Time and it is a good one.  Using just his list here are my top five (in alpha order):

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:  The right mix of humor and action paired with Newman & Redford = a near perfect film experience.

Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The:  The movie that made Sergio Leone a household name in the US and Clint Eastwood a superstar.

Searchers, The: Some parts of the movie don’t play as well with today’s sensibilities, but The Searchers remains a classic.

Stagecoach: I love this film more and more with each viewing.

Unforgiven: Eastwood waited until he felt he was the right age to make this film.  A great capper to his western movies!


I’m surprised that The Outlaw Josey Wales didn’t make Gaughan’s list.  It sure would have made mine.

RIP: Ed Asner

Ed Asner, the actor best known for playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977) and Lou Grant (1977 – 1982), died today at the age of 91.  Mr. Asner is one of the few actors to play the same character in a comedy and a drama.  He also is the male actor to have won the most Primetime Emmy Awards with seven.

Mr. Asner began his career with uncredited roles on the series Studio One in 1957.  His IMDb resume now contains over 400 acting credits with several that were lined up for the future.  That shows amazing popularity in a career lasting over 60 years. The demand for Mr. Asner’s talents had not diminished despite him being over 90!

Before his career defining role as Lou Grant, Ed Asner regularly guest starred on popular tv series such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Route 66; The Untouchables; The Outer Limits; Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; The Rat Patrol; Gunsmoke; The Fugitive; The Wild Wild West; The Invaders; Mission Impossible; and many, many others.

In 1970, Ed Asner shot to fame for his role as the gruff but loveable, Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Mr. Asner and his character were popular to earn a spin off series moving from a half hour comedy to a full hour drama titled Lou Grant. His portrayal of Lou Grant earned Ed Asner five of his seven Emmy Awards.  Mr. Asner also played Lou Grant on two other series (Rhoda and Roseanne).  Mr. Asner’s other two Emmy Awards were for his work on Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man.

Ed Asner also appeared in feature films with his best known probably being the lead voice actor on Up or the bad guy in El Dorado starring John Wayne.  Mr. Asner was in high demand for voice work and he did quite a bit of it as well.  

When not acting, Mr. Asner was involved in activities that he felt strongly about.  He twice served as President of the Screen Actors Guild and was involved with many non-profit organizations and charities.

Watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a weekly family event and a large (no pun intended) part of that was Ed Asner as Lou Grant.  Everyone was able to play off of him and his reactions were classic.  I was impressed at how easy it was for his character to move from an award-winning 30 minute comedy to an award-winning 60 minute drama.  That couldn’t happen without an excellent actor. 

I think what I loved most about Ed Asner was his attitude toward life.  He spoke up for his beliefs, was positive in his posts (yes, at 91 he was active on Twitter!) and was able to stay popular and relevant in an ever-changing world!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans. 


The All-Time Best Zombie Movies!

Audrey Fox at /Film created her list of The 20 Best Zombie Movies Of All Time.  Using just her list here are my top five (in alpha order):

28 days later: Purists will argue that this isn’t a true zombie movie.  Instead of arguing, I’d just watch it again!

Dawn of the Dead (2004): Has one of the best opening scenes of any zombie movie (except for World War Z) and I love that Fox acknowledges that in her article!

Night of the Living Dead: The original by George Romero that kickstarted the zombie renaissance.

Overlord: Zombies and WW2 mash-up.  Another that some will argue isn’t a true zombie movie.  Again, I say, “Rewatch  instead of arguing.”

Train to Busan:  A modern classic.  More people should see this film!


Some films on her list that didn’t make mine but are good: Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and The Dead Don’t Die.  They’re funny and worth a view, but when the dead start to rise, I prefer scary to funny. (I still want to see Little Monsters!)

I haven’t seen Blood Quantum but want to.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Greatest Films

Fiona Underhill at /Film came up with her list of Alfred Hitchcock’s 15 Best Films Ranked.  Using just the films in Underhill’s list, here is how our top 5 compared….



1. Rebecca (1940)

1. North by Northwest (1959)

2. The Birds (1963)

2. The Birds (1963)

3. North by Northwest (1959)

3. Psycho (1960)

4. Notorious (1946)

4. Rear Window (1954)

5. The Lady Vanishes (1938)

5. Rope (1948)

I would have included Lifeboat in my list at #6 and it didn’t make Underhill’s top 15.

“Old Henry” – The Posters and Trailer are Here!” You Can’t Bury the Past”

We’ve seen a few western posters and trailers lately.  While some of them look like they may be worthy of a viewing, none of them looked like something that I would want to rush to see.  Old Henry is a western that I want to see ASAP.

I love both posters (the first a bit more than the second) and the trailer sold me.  I truly hope Old Henry doesn’t let us down.

Old Henry is an action-Western about a widowed farmer and his son who warily take in a mysterious injured man with a satchel of cash. When a posse of men claiming to be the law come for the money, the farmer must decide whom to trust. Defending against a siege of his homestead, he reveals a talent for gunslinging that surprises everyone, calling his true identity into question.