Welcome to the latest installment of Flickchart Road Trip, in which I’m starting in Los Angeles and “driving” across country, watching one movie from each state and posting about it once a week. The new movie I watch will go up against five movies from that state I’ve already seen, chosen from five distinct spots on my own Flickchart. Although I won’t tell you where the new movie actually lands in my chart (I don’t like to add new movies until I’ve had a month to think about them), I’ll let you know how it fared among the five I’ve chosen. Thanks for riding shotgun!
It’s early October in North Dakota and I’m feeling about as isolated as I have at any point on this trip. So I figured, let’s make the isolation seem all the more acute by going to Scandinavia. Or, the closest facsimile you can find in North Dakota.
The city of Minot has a park devoted to Scandinavian heritage … which is not as surprising as the fact that the city of Minot has a neighborhood called “Upper Brooklyn.” Scandinavian Heritage Park is indeed in the Upper Brooklyn section of Minot, a city you can reach (and I did reach) by taking route 83 north from South Dakota. Other unlikely names of neighborhoods in Minot include Boston Heights and Bel Air. As it so happens, this is the 25th anniversary of said park, though the first building was not actually dedicated until two years later in 1990. However, I can still use that as a good excuse for coming.
Unlike those of other websites, our Top Ten lists are created from the empirical data of our global rankings.
Wikipedia defines “Americana” as “artifacts related to the history, geography, folklore, and cultural heritage of the United States,” with “patriotism and nostalgia playing a defining role in the subject.” With Independence Day upon us, it seems like a good time to look at some movies that explore American history and culture. In most cases, Americana celebrates that culture (whether it deserves celebration or not), which can make the genre often overly sentimental and nostalgic for a time and society that never really existed. It’s definitely a genre that tends towards rose-colored glasses. That said, this is a solid Top Ten – each of the films takes place in very specific times in American history and/or very specific and well-realized American locales, whether they uphold or question the American values they contain.
It’s the first of the month, which means there is a crazy amount of turnover on Netflix Instant Watch this week. There’s definitely something for everybody, take a look:
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 | Feb 6th | R)
Flickchart Ranking: #651
Sooner or later, everybody runs. Even if they’re one of the biggest movie stars on the face of the planet. For this edition of Reel Rumbles, grab your popcorn and prepare for the run of your life as we go on the lam with Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise in an attempt to prove their innocence (and cinematic superiority) with The Fugitive vs. Minority Report.
These two thrillers both feature a cinema superstar accused of murder and on the run from the law. One is a tense cat-and-mouse game between a surgeon out to find his wife’s real killer and the dogged U.S. Marshal on his tail; the other is set in the not-so-distant future, and features a law enforcement officer trying to clear himself of a murder that hasn’t even been committed yet. One is an almost unexpected masterwork from a director whose other best-known credits are the Steven Seagal vehicle Under Siege and a Coast Guard movie starring Ashton Kutcher. The other is a superb thriller-with-a-sci-fi-twist from one of cinema’s greatest living legends that, despite how great it is, somehow still doesn’t seem to quite match some of the director’s previous cinematic efforts.
So which is better? Run–don’t walk–into the Reel Rumbles ring and find out…
Here are this week’s new DVD, Blu-ray, and Netflix Instant Watch titles. Obviously, Thursday’s Avatar release is the highlight of the week but the overall slate of releases is strong as well. Select films will include their Flickchart global statistics (where available), as well as three direct links to rank the title against similar movies (one good, one average and one bad) to help nail down where the movie belongs on your chart.
Avatar – (Thursday, April 22 – Blu-Ray and DVD)
I broke a 32-month theater-free streak to see this one. Yeah, the tickets were free, but the effort of getting off the warm couch on a cold Midwestern Winter morning shows you the influence this one had on casual theater goers (I watch at least 2 movies a day, but usually from the comfort of my house). It’s a decent movie, but it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays on the small screen when you’ll focus more on the story than the visuals. You might want to exercise some caution buying this bare-bones disc, as a four-disc set is coming in November – although apparently there will be special codes in the box that will let you watch all the upcoming special features online over the coming months.