Jerry Della Femina
MY FAVORITE MOVIES OVER THE YEARS. AND THE WORST STINKER I EVER SAW. (10/12/21)
This week was Hamptons International Film Festival time. As usual, the Film Festival, which is one of the best things that ever happened to the Hamptons and New York State, features any number of this year’s smart-money potential Oscar picks.
My two favorite films this year are a wonderful documentary called “Bill Mauldin: If It’s Big, Hit It,” about Bill Mauldin, an American editorial cartoonist who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work. Mauldin was a great man who was what the greatest generation was all about.
The other movie I loved was “The Hand of God,” Academy Award-winner Paolo Sorrentino’s coming of age movie that takes place in Naples, Italy. I was particularly interested in this film because my family comes from Naples, and after I saw this funny, sad, happy-go-lucky movie it explained some of my nutty behavior. Viewing this wonderful Italian movie on the day before Columbus Day made me even more angry at the “let’s rewrite history” idiots who want to take Columbus Day away from Italians and give it to the Native Americans, or as they like to call it, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
MY 20 FAVORITE MOVIES:
1.The Godfather 2. The Godfather Part II (Best movies ever made.) 3. Goodfellas (Written by the great Nick Pileggi.) 4. Casablanca (“Here’s looking at you, kid.”) 5. Dr. Strangelove (“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”) 6. Citizen Kane (“Rosebud.”) 7. The Usual Suspects (Everyone’s secret favorite.) 8. Annie Hall (Still Woody’s best.) 9. All The President’s Men (“Follow the money.” -Deep Throat.) 10. It’s a Wonderful Life (It’s corny, but every Christmas it makes me cry.) 11. On the Waterfront (“I coulda been a contender.”) 12. Jaws (Ever since I saw it I’ve been afraid to even swim in a pool.) 13. Blazing Saddles (What could be funnier than cowboys eating beans and farting by a campfire?) 14. Silence of the Lambs (“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” -Hannibal Lecter.) 15 to 20. Any movie made by Preston Sturges.
(Please note the woke and cancel culture idiots would not allow timid, frightened Hollywood to make any of these great movies today.)
THE WORST MOVIE I EVER SAW: THE ENGLISH PATIENT Note: This movie won an Oscar and got rave reviews from most movie critics. But remember this: If movie critics had any talent, they would be making films instead of writing about them.
The fact is when it comes to movies, my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, and I are incompatible. I remember the night Judy I went to see The English Patient. The East Hampton Cinema was filled with couples. The women all fluttery, the men all reserved. Judy gets very emotional at movies and that night she was in fine form. She started to sob the minute they put on that computer-animated horror that tells you to eat popcorn and drink Coca-Cola but don’t talk, and swallow your phone if it should ring, etc. etc. “Judy,” I whispered. “Why are you crying? The movie hasn’t started yet.” “I know but it's going to be so…so…sad.” In The English Patient, Ralph Fiennes plays a Nazi who is badly burned in a plane crash. So the whole movie consists of this guy who, I swear, is so burned that he looks exactly like the creature in that monster film of the 1950s, Creature from the Black Lagoon. I knew from the beginning of the movie he was going to die. Spending three hours watching a guy who is made up to look like a burned-to-a-crisp monster dying is not my idea of a fun Saturday night. There were a lot of other story lines and characters in the movie – one duller than the other. The burned guy kept remembering this love affair he had with this married woman who was, you guessed it, his best friend’s wife. Well, this was not one of those wham-bam affairs. No sir. This was slow. So slow that they managed to do the impossible – make sex boring. And the more the nurse who was taking care of the guy who was burned to a crisp heard the story of the affair, the more she was interested in climbing into bed with the crisp. At one point I said to myself, “If she goes near this guy, I’m going to be sick. The only thing that is going to save me from throwing up is that this movie is so boring I’m starting to doze off.” That’s when Judy poked me. “Isn’t this wonderful?” she declared, with tears streaming down her face. So I did what any red-blooded man would do under the circumstances. I lied. “It’s wonderful…wonderful. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in years,” I said. “How come you’re not crying?” she whispered. “Well, to tell you the truth, I was so caught up in the story that I guess I forgot to cry,” I said. At one point in the middle of the movie I decided to go to the bathroom and throw some cold water on my face. I thought it would keep me awake, and maybe if I didn’t dry my face, in the darkness of the theater it would look like I was crying and Judy would give me points for being super sensitive. As I got up and walked up the aisle I couldn’t help but notice every woman was heaving and sobbing and every man was fidgeting and looking bored out of his mind. When we got home from the movie I asked Judy if she would like a drink. “Oh no,” she replied. “I’m emotionally exhausted from that movie…it so affected me. If I don’t get to sleep right this second I’m going to pass out.” In seconds she was sound asleep. I sat there and started laughing at myself for pretending to be sensitive. I laughed long and hard. For the first time that night, The English Patient brought me to tears. MY FAVORITE LINE FROM A MOVIE: ATLANTIC CITY A very old Burt Lancaster is trying to impress a very young Susan Sarandon. They’re looking at the Atlantic Ocean. She says, “It’s very beautiful.” He says, “Yes.” Then he looks at her and says, “But this is nothing. You should have seen it in the old days.”
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