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The Boondock Saints (1999)

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Troy Duffy is among those directors who have managed to push out a classic (albeit cult) film despite his tendencies to self-sabotage.  Unlike Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), Duffy hasn't been given much of a chance to prove himself beyond this film, his only other movie being the 2009 sequel which, although not as good as this, was at least not a pretentious muddle.

That said, Duffy, if the documentary about the making of this film is to be believed, is his own worst enemy behind the scenes.  Miramax wanted the screenplay and was willing to sink a good amount of money into it, but Duffy began acting like a Coppola before he had even filmed anything and lost that deal.  The deal he made with Franchise left him, and his cast, without the home video earnings, which is where The Boondock Saints eventually made a profit.  The film had the bad luck to come out soon after the Columbine High School shootings, and thus debuted in only a handful of theaters. 

Duffy also seems to have had a …

The Exorcist (1973)

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Sometimes circumstances just come together to make a classic movie.  Director William Friedkin's previous film had been The French Connection, which had one of the most famous car chase scenes up to that point (and inspired many more throughout the 1970s) as well as a great performance by Gene Hackman.  It also had a rather unique pseudo-documentary style that set Friedkin's movie apart from similar crime and action films.

William Peter Blatty had a bestseller on his hands with The Exorcist, seemingly a horror novel about demonic possession but heavy on themes of faith and family.  Through numerous circumstances the two Williams became friends, with Blatty adapting his novel into a screenplay and Friedkin directing.  It became one of the biggest movies of 1973, as well as a horror classic that is revered to this day despite four attempts to destroy its legacy through sequels that run the gamut from painful to just dull, one of them by Blatty himself. 

It is also a movie that …

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

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Ever since the Harry Potter series ended, fans have been clamoring for more.  Thing is, the fans have grown up since following the team at Hogwarts.  J. K. Rowling perfectly timed her series of seven books so that fans who started reading at the age that started at the beginning of Harry's adventures aged with him.  The books got darker and more adult as they went along.

Because of frequent press releases from Rowling, we know largely what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermione over the years, and a recent play has even kept us up to date.  This is despite Rowling originally intending to abandon the Potter universe for more traditional fiction.  It didn't work out as well as she intended, and I am sure the money to do another series was irresistible. Therefore, we have the beginning of a five-part series based on one of Hogwarts's textbooks, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander. 

We already have seen what problems both Hagrid and Charles Weasley have ca…

Snowpiercer (2013)

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I think I am like most people and found out about this movie via Netflix.  Keep in mind that I am quite familiar with direct-to-video movies, enjoying many films in the 1980s and 1990s that would have been drive-in fare if that was a thing that still existed outside of a novelty at that time.  So, of course, I thought that is what Snowpiercer must be. 

As luck would have it, by the time I had found out more about it, Netflix had stopped carrying it, at least on the streaming option. But I kept hearing more and more about it, much like I had other movies I had skipped over in the past for one reason or another.

It is 2031, 17 years after the governments of the world attempted to solve global warming by spraying a chemical in the atmosphere, the world remains in a perpetual state of deep freeze due to the experiment.  Not just a normal ice age, but temperatures under which people freeze solid in a matter of minutes.

The remainder of humanity lives packed into the Snowpiercer, a train o…

Doctor Strange (2016)

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I am constantly surprised at how many movies and television shows that Marvel Studios and Disney keeps churning out.  I figured once they got the Avengers together they would just hit us with a series of those movies until the cash cow ran dry.  Instead, it seems that they are content to make standalone movies for almost every character they can find and, failing that, throw in references everywhere.

That brings us to Doctor Strange.  Another of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's creations, he debuted in 1963 with a look similar to that of horror great Vincent Price.  Instead of getting his powers from radiation, mutation or scientific advancements, Dr. Stephen Strange learns how to control magic (as well as a healthy helping of martial arts) after an accident ends his career as a neurosurgeon.  He then goes on to use that magic to defeat the usual menagerie of bad guys.

Despite starring in several of his own comic books, the figure is marginal at best, usually appearing to aid some of t…

The Invasion (2007)

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers seems to have survived the test of time.  Jack Finney's original novel, simply titled The Body Snatchers, remains a creepy classic to this day.  And, while the novel largely worked the paranoia of people becoming slaves to routine and losing touch with their humanity, the resulting 1950s sci-fi classic used the aliens as a stand-in for America's fear of communist infiltrators during the Cold War.

The movie got a big-budget remake in 1978 and, while it didn't have the same impact as the original, it still has that nice bit of '70s nastiness that makes it enjoyable.  Too bad Abel Ferrara's 1993 version fell flat.

Thinking it was time to bring it back again, David Kajganich was hired to write a script and up and coming German director Oliver Hirschbiegel was set to direct.  Nicole Kidman got the lead, and a then not-so-well-known British actor named Daniel Craig got the supporting role.  The ideas that Kajganich came up with were differe…

The Princess Bride (1987)

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Geeks have a habit of quoting movies constantly.  I'm not just talking about movie nerds, but the geek community in general.  Not things like "Hasta la vista, baby," or "Make my day," but rather lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and such.  The Princess Bride happens to be one of those movies.

From people going around claiming to be Inigo Montoya to memes criticizing the misuse of the English language, this modest movie has become a part of pop culture over the last 30 years.  It goes from everything from me remembering an internet user from the early 1990s going by "Dread Pirate Roberts" to the operator of the Silk Road website using the same handle.  Whether William Goldman and Rob Reiner intended it, the film's influence equals, and often exceeds, the intended blockbusters of the 1980s.

As a young boy (Fred Savage) stays home sick in bed, his grandfather (Peter Falk) shows up to give him a bit of cheer.  Grandfather has brought along a…