Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021 Conclusion

Hello, friends!

I hope you enjoyed the new format of the blogathon. While Kim and I had fun looking at everyone’s picks for their favorite films from a spotlight decade, we wanted to shake things up a big after covering 50 years of film. Switching to a format that spans decades opens up for many more possibilities. Our participants did not disappoint! We had films reviewed that were released just one decade ago all the way up to 10 decades ago! Here is the full list of participants and entries for the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon:

Drew’s Movie Reviews – Bridesmaids (2011)

Tranquil Dreams – Spirited Away (2001)

 Plain, Simple Tom Reviews – The Kid (1921)

MovieRob – The Maltese Falcon (1931)

Movies and TeaThe Devil’s Backbone (2001)

18 Cinema LaneThe Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Often Off Topic – Through the Decades (1971 – 2011)

Starry Traveler’s RoadShrek (2001)

Tranquil Dreams – Fight Back to School (1991)

Drew’s Movie Reviews – The Cannonball Run (1981)

Apparently 2001 is popular amongst our participants! I encourage you to read any of the posts you missed. They were truly some great entries this year. Before we officially conclude, here’s a few words from my co-host:

In a blink of an eye, the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon has come to end! This year was pretty special for us as we took the step to change up the format from the previous one which opened up a variety of choices through the decades which also triggers some interesting entries surprisingly spanning back to the 1920s and 1930s, decades that are rather unfamiliar for myself. With that said, a huge thank you to all of the participants and their wonderful reviews as well as anyone who dropped by to read, commented and liked the posts as well as a big thank you for my awesome co-host Drew. Its always a ton of fun to do the blogathon and hopefully next year, we will see you all again for another blogathon hosted by myself and Drew. Finally, in these crazy times, take care and stay safe!

With those words, the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021 has officially concluded! Thanks again to all of the participants and your enthusiasm. This blogathon is always a blast to put together and see what you all come up with. Another thank you to Kim, you are such a wonderful co-host and I thank you for working with me every year to put this together. And finally, a thank you to all you readers. There wouldn’t be a blogathon without people to enjoy the content. Hopefully you found a new blog or two to follow.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay positive. Stay weird.

Until next time, cheers!

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021 Wrap-Up: Fight Back To School (1991) by Tranquil Dreams

Hello, friends!

Today we begin to wrap things up for the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon. Starting the closing festivities is my wonderful co-host Kim. I can’t say enough how much you need to be following her blog, Tranquil Dreams, but I’ll say it again: you need to follow her blog. She posts on a variety of topics and I guarantee she has something there you will like. Kim specializes in Asian cinema, which is the topic of her post here today. For her second post of the blogathon, Kim shares her review of the 1991 Chinese film Fight Back To School.

Fight Back To School (1991)

Fight Back to School movie poster

Director (and co-writer): Gordon Chan

Cast: Stephen Chow, Man Cheung, Man-Tat Ng, Roy Cheung, Chi Yeung Wong, Gabriel Wong, Barry Wong, Dennis Chan, King-Tan Yuen

“A SWAT team leader is going undercover at a high school to retrieve a stolen gun for his captain. – IMDB

The 90s movies of Hong Kong brought in a lot of highlights. One of these being Stephen Chow’s films as a comedic actor and his pair-up with Man-Tat Ng. His comedy style gave life to the comedy sub genre called “mo lei tau”, perhaps better interpreted in English as absurd humor. Perhaps rather unknown to most until 2001’s Shaolin Soccer which also happened to be the pair’s final movie together. With Man-Tat Ng’s recent passing (this past weekend), it felt like the perfect time to pay him some respect and the duo that accompanied me throughout my youth. Fight Back To School wasn’t exactly top of my list in terms of this pair’s movies but other than the God of Gamblers series that pulled in Stephen Chow as the Saint of Gamblers role, Fight Back To School eventually became a trilogy.

Fight Back To School starts off on a fairly normal sounding undercover job, probably nothing unseen or rather familiar at this point. However, for fans of this genre, nothing is as it seems. Right off the bat, the first moments set up the character of Star Chow (Stephen Chow) as he disregards his teammates lives in an Special Units drill and gets transferred where his captain now sees his youthful appearance and selects him as the candidate bringing in the terms of a “kind gun that hasn’t ever been fired” which need to be found before his retirement and the supposedly threatening “scissor legs” that could break him in two if he didn’t follow orders. Silly terms, pun jokes and hilarious reactions plus character traits is what builds this film up especially for Stephen Chow’s Star Chow and Man-Tat Ng’s Uncle Tat, a familiar play on their own names in most of their movies.

There’s a lot to enjoy about this film. There’s a highlight on many high school elements whether it’s the reputation of a prestigious school and the tough school rules that need to be abided or the bullies as well as the teachers. There’s a lot of different characters here. A lot being a keyword. Other than the two main pairing, there are some familiar faces in here as well, building up quite a nice cast with staff being played by supporting roles from Paul Chun, King-Tan Yuen and Dennis Chan. Playing as the triad boss that the bad students were under dealing with the bigger crime plot was Roy Cheung, which has made a name for himself in the 90s in the villain roles. With that said, the female lead here is the teacher, played by Man Cheung whose career takes a turn after her role in 1989’s God of Gamblers and 1990’s All For The Winner (both in the big God of Gambler’s franchise) and once again reunites with Stephen Chow as a love interest.

1991 was a great year for Stephen Chow and still a rather early start for their pairing with Man-Tat Ng as it also had movies like Tricky Brains, God of Gamblers Part III  and perhaps the main reason for this choice as there will never be a chance to see them on the big screen and a nice memory to revisit one of their films that I’ve seen not too much but have been meaning to rewatch. It was a great reminder that there are some great moments in Fight Back To School that makes it a lot of fan’s favorite as well. As an ending note, my own 90s included a lot of Stephen Chow and Man-Tat Ng and while their jokes doesn’t always land in translation, they have great absurd humor in terms of facial expressions and reactions which makes them a hilarious pairing and well worth a visit if you haven’t explored their films yet.

If you’ve missed any of the entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021: Through the Decades (1971-2011) by Often Off Topic

Hello, friends!

Sometimes it can be hard to pick just one film for a blogathon topic such as this. That is the problem Allie from Often Off Topic ran into. So instead of choosing just one, she chose 5! If you don’t know who Allie is, she blogs about a variety of films and life happenings. Her posts are always a blast to read so if you don’t follow her, please go give her site a look. You won’t be disappointed. Now Allie has a lot to get to so let’s get to it!

With so many movies in so many eligible years, it was impossible for me to pick just 1 movie to talk about so instead I’m bringing you 5 of my favourite movies spanning 5 decades!

1971 – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

I’ve watched very few movies from the 70s but one of those just so happens to be one of my childhood classics. Watching it now, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is quite a terrifying story but as a child it was magical. Didn’t we all just wish we could visit the factory and eat all the sweets and chocolate we could?

1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark

This blogathon serves as a perfect reminder that I need to have an Indiana Jones marathon soon. I remember watching the Indiana Jones live show at Disney World as a child and thinking I was watching the real deal. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve seen every movie in the franchise yet so watch this space but in the meantime, can we all agree Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best of them all?

1991 – Beauty and the Beast

I talk about this amazing, greatest of all time Disney movie far too much so I’ll keep this brief but come on, this was the only option for me. My Mum likes to tell me that this movie was played so much when I was little the VHS tape was worn to nothing but as it’s also her favourite Disney movie I’m not convinced that it was me who demanded it be played daily.

2001 – Donnie Darko

There were a lot of movies I wanted to pick for this year but it has to be Donnie Darko. It opened my eyes to a movie genre that wasn’t animation, action or comedy and was basically the beginning of my love for weird movies. There’s something new to discover with every watch of Donnie Darko.

2011 – The Muppets

Yes, I know this is an odd choice. There were some fantastic movies released in 2011, but I’ve realised that subconsciously I’ve been picking movies that mean something to me on a deeper level rather than simply great movies, and so I had to pick The Muppets. If I were to explain my sense of humour to you – this movie is it. It’s essentially me in movie form. And fun fact – at our wedding we walked back down the aisle to ‘Life’s a Happy Song’!

If you’ve missed any of the entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021: The Devil’s Backbone (2001) by Movies and Tea Podcast

Hello, friends!

Closing out the first week of the blogathon is a close friend of Kim. As you might know, Kim is involved in many projects on her blog, Tranquil Dreams. One of which, is the Movies and Tea podcasts that she co-hosts with Elwood Jones from From the Depths of DVD Hell. Together, Kim and Elwood go through a spotlighted directors filmography each season. They are currently reviewing their way through David Fincher’s filmography so be sure to give their recent episodes a listen. Today, Kim and Elwood are sharing their episode of their podcast where they reviewed Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone.

The Devil's Backbone movie poster

Guillermo Del Toro has made a name for himself as a dark fantasy or gothic horror director. His stories and directorial abilities are quite outstanding with the different movies that he has released. While you can argue whether Pan’s Labyrinth is the breakout movie that makes it internationally, there’s one other movie that gets talks about quite a bit and that’s 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone aka El Espinazo Del Diablo.

Set in 1939 Spain during the final year of the Spanish Civil War, it takes place at an orphanage where coincidentally is also the site where a defused bomb also sits in the courtyard. Yet again, whether the human relationships between the adults or the orphans, there’s a deeper story that brews here especially as the story, despite all the other elements at its heart, is a ghost story. For those that haven’t explored the earlier Del Toro work, The Devil’s Backbone is one that truly deserves a visit.

For this episode, with the help of a guest Greg Sahadachny, we continue through the filmography of Del Toro and give a discussion of the many elements of this The Devil’s Backbone.

Below you can find the audio version as well as the Youtube audio podcast version and other places that you can listen to the show. Hope you enjoy!

Listen to the Show


Movies and Tea Podcast site address: https://moviesandteapodcast.wordpress.com/

If you’ve missed any of the entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021: The Kid (1921) by Plain, Simple Tom Reviews

Hello, friends!

Welcome to the middle of the first week of the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021. I’m really excited for this entry because this is the type of deep cut I was hoping to see. Today’s review comes from Tom of Plain, Simple Tom Reviews. Tom reviews a wide range of films on his blog with great insight. I highly recommend you go check out his blog if you don’t already follow him. Now, about his entry, when Kim and I changed the format from a specific decade to specific years in a decade, that opened up the possibility of someone like Tom reaching back 100 years in film history. With The Kid celebrating its centennial this year, Tom chose to spotlight it for the Ultimate Decades Blogathon.

The Kid movie poster

For this particular blogathon, we have been invited to discuss films from any year ending in a 1 and instantly, I knew that there was one film that I was particularly anxious to talk about, having even considered the possibility of doing a post about it on my own site, and there is indeed a special reason for my having chosen Charlie Chaplin’s feature length directorial debut as the film that I would talk about with you all:

Because this year, round about this month in fact, The Kid is 100 years old.

Well now, that’s quite something when you think about it. 100 years. So as this particular film, in addition to many others such as The Phantom Carriage and D.W. Griffith’s Orphans of the Storm, is celebrating its centenary this year, what better time is there to write a blog post all about it – celebrating the film and appreciating how Chaplin’s work is still being discussed and thought about after all this time.

“A picture with a smile – and perhaps, a tear”

These words, which are put up on screen after the opening credits have finished, perfectly sum up what Chaplin intended the film to be as there’s plenty of that trademark comedy involving the Little Tramp which aims to entertain the masses but from the outset, it’s made clear that the film will perhaps be sad as well, aiming to coax a tear out of one or two audience members.

Because the film does indeed begin on a downbeat note as a young woman “whose sin was motherhood” gives birth at a charity hospital but it’s clear that the baby is unwanted and that the girl isn’t ready to become a parent and so, after the lonely girl contemplates her situation on a park bench, she leaves the baby in the backseat of a car belonging to a rich family – with an attached note which asks the family to look after him – but shortly afterwards, the car is stolen by two crooks and when they realise what is in the backseat, they panic and leave the child in an alley next to some bins.

This is where Chaplin’s Tramp – an “awkward ass” – enters, with buckets of rubbish being thrown down at him, and when he discovers the baby, he, at first, attempts to get rid of it, firstly by placing it in the baby carriage of another woman and then by palming it off on another tramp, but as he finds himself unable to be free of the baby, he soon finds the note the mother had written and eventually decides that he will look after the child and to keep him safe. Meanwhile, the young mother quickly realises that she has made a mistake and is shocked to learn how the car was stolen and how the child has disappeared.

Five years later, The Tramp and The Kid are shown to be still living together, the two of them engaging in a scheme where the child smashes windows and then The Tramp gets paid to fix them, and the young woman has become a famous and well-off entertainer, though she clearly still misses her lost child, at one point being right next to him without even knowing. Afterwards, following a street fight, the child gets sick and when a doctor is called, The Tramp tells him all about where the boy came from and from then on, the proper authorities attempt to take The Kid away but as both he and The Tramp are desperate to remain with each other, they flee and The Tramp attempts to hide him from those who wish to take him away.

So how has The Kid managed to remain so memorable and noteworthy after all these years? Why is Charlie Chaplin still a cinematic icon? Well, as the opening quote suggests, this film is indeed a winning blend of drama and comedy and although I believe that Chaplin made some films that are funnier than this one and that, in all honesty, the comedic elements of the film may become less “relevant” and less funny at time goes on, it can’t be denied that Chaplin was imaginative and talented at what he did, blazing a trail for all future comedy films, and The Kid does have a fair share of humerous gags which manage to be effective even without sound; there are certain comedic setups – such as The Tramp unknowingly getting friendly with the wife of the policeman who has been on his trail – that are still being used to this day and as director, he really does manage to get the best comedic performances out of his actors. There’s even a dream sequence involving a streetful of angels that’s imaginatively done and excellently staged and executed and it’s yet another example of how the film was ahead of its time.

But it’s in the dramatic scenes where The Kid truly shines. The film has been regarded as somewhat autobiographical as the conditions depicted within the film, which include the attitudes of social workers and the like, apparently reflect Chaplin’s own upbringing and unhappy childhood and that the subject matter is meant to reflect on the child he himself lost, and it’s this blending of drama and comedy that makes The Kid stand out from the crowd. It succeeds because there is clearly a close bond between Chaplin and The Kid (this apparently continued offscreen as the two of them spent plenty of time having fun together), the director manages to get a fine performance out of the young lad and even gets him to impersonate the Tramp’s mannerisms, and in the film’s most emotionally affecting scene, wherein the child is being taken away, the emotions on the two actors’ faces – the two of them showing so much despair, anguish and genuine sadness – are just so striking and I do believe that this particular scene will endure for a good long while.

Many of these touching scenes are accompanied by an equally effective, and often heart wrenching, musical score (I’m not sure if the music is different in other versions) that also goes a long way in stirring the soul and additionally, Chaplin frames certain shots very well, sometimes almost looking directly at the audience and at other times, allowing us to properly see and feel the characters’ anguish and the ideal framing really lets us see the bond and the love between the two of them. It’s clear that Chaplin also realises the importance of showing the young mother in a positive light and from the offset, we are on her side and support her even though she leaves the baby behind and this is achieved by the performance of actress Edna Purviance as well as the accompanying music and the fact that the character later gives a big tip to a young delivery boy; it really is important for the film to show that she has a good heart and Chaplin clearly realised this, demonstrating just how clever a filmmaker and storyteller he was.

So that’s The Kid, an “artful melding of touching drama, social commentary and inventive comedy”, as the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry has called it, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year. It really is a nice little film, though admittedly not my favourite of Chaplin’s, and it’s even free to view on YouTube right now.

Thank you to Drew and Kim for hosting and I look forward to reading the other entries!

If you’ve missed any of the entries, you can find a list of them all here.

Ultimate Decades 2021 Blogathon Kick-Off: Bridesmaids (2011) Review

Hello, friends!

I’m excited to be the first to welcome you to the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon, hosted by Kim from Tranquil Dreams and myself! In the past, the Ultimate Decades Blogathon focused on a specific decade, from the 1970s all the way to the 2010s. Rather than revisit those decades again, the format this year is slightly different. Instead of spotlighting a single decade, the the Ultimate Decades Blogathon is now focusing on films released in years that end in the same digit as the current year. Since this year is 2021, all the films in this blogathon were released in years that end in 1. Exciting, right? I think the participants this year have really outdone themselves and chosen some great films from across the decades. Now, to kick things off, I will share my review of a film that came out just last decade. Without further ado, here is my review of the 2011 Paul Feig comedy Bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids movie posterSynopsis
Jillian (Maya Rudolph) asked her best friend, Annie (Kristen Wiig), to be the Maid of Honor in her wedding. Annie finds competition in Helen (Rose Byrne) for Jillian’s attention.

When a film features an all female ensemble, you would be forgiven if you expect a sappy love story about the women trying to catch themselves a man. If you went into Bridesmaids with that expectation, you would be wrong. Bridesmaids takes inspiration from films like The Hangover and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, showcasing that women can at time be just as crude as men. However, Bridesmaids never tries to be like similar films featuring ensembles of male buddies and sets out to show that female relationships do not revolve around “trying to find the one” as many movies before would have you believe.

The script, written by Annie Mumolo and star Kristen Wiig, is what sets Bridesmaids apart from other female ensemble movies at the time. While vulgar and crude, which is not uncommon in comedy films (especially in the late 2000s/early 2010s), Mumolo and Wiig still manage to make it feel unique. Since this is a movie about women written by women, the relationships between the female cast feel like actual relationships. There’s a true feeling of genuineness to the characters and their interactions between each other. Like many comedies, the script takes something simple, like being a bridesmaid, and puts it under a magnifying glass, exaggerating the experience yet still keeping it relatable. While there were female-led comedy ensemble movies before Bridesmaids, they saw varied success. This film feels like it marked a turning point, proving that the comedies written by and starring women can be just as funny and entertaining as those written by and starring men.

Along with the script, the cast is absolutely stellar. Wiig seems to play off everyone around her. Her scenes with Rudolph feel like the pair have been friends since childhood. Wiig and Rose Byrne, who plays her rival for Lily’s attention, are an absolute hoot when they are together. Wendi McLendon-Covey plays the worn-down mom to perfection. The Office alum Ellie Kemper channels her inner Erin and is adorably awkward. I am a huge fan of the British television show The IT Crowd, so seeing Chris O’Dowd was a special treat. However, the stand-out performance to me was Melissa McCarthy. In one of her first feature film roles, she knocks it out of the park. Every scene of hers is laugh-out-loud funny and her comedic timing is impeccable. It’s not hard to see why her film career took off after starring in this movie. Even though there are many characters, Bridesmaids manages to balance them, providing enough screen time for the supporting characters to feel relevant but still enable the leads to stand out.

I thought Bridesmaids was GREAT 😀 Written by Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig and directed by Paul Fieg, it opened up the door for modern-day female-led comedies, showing that female-led comedies can be raunchy too and not just reserved for sappy love stories. What’s more, the characters are extremely likable and the entire cast is outstanding. At 10 years old, Bridesmaids has aged like a fine wine, and keeps getting better with every viewing.


Cast & Crew
Paul Feig – Director
Kristen Wiig – Writer
Annie Mumolo – Writer
Michael Andrews – Writer

Kristen Wiig – Annie
Maya Rudolph – Lillian
Melissa McCarthy – Megan
Rose Byrne – Helen
Wendi McLendon-Covey – Rita
Ellie Kemper – Becca
Chris O’Dowd – Rhodes
Rebel Wilson – Brynn
Matt Lucas – Gil
JIll Clayburgh – Annie’s Mom
Jon Hamm – Ted
Tim Heidecker – Dougie

Tomorrow, my co-host Kim will post her entry on her site in part two of the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021 kick-off.

As the blogathon progresses, you can check out this compilation page on Kim’s site to view all of the entries.

Until next time, cheers!